The bottom line is clear: Our vital interests in Afghanistan are limited and military victory is not the key to achieving them. On the contrary, waging a lengthy counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan may well do more to aid Taliban recruiting than to dismantle the group, help spread conflict further into Pakistan, unify radical groups that might otherwise be quarreling amongst themselves, threaten the long-term health of the U.S. economy, and prevent the U.S. government from turning its full attention to other pressing problems. -- Afghanistan Study Group

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

News & Views 01/01/08

Photo: Relatives of Abbas Salman prepare his head for burial in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq, on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2008. Salman, 22, was killed in the Diyala province during clashes with al-Qaida, and the rest of his body could not be located for burial. (AP Photo/Alaa al-Marjani)

REPORTS – LIFE IN IRAQ

Eastern Baghdad blast casualties up to 68

More than 16,000 Iraqi civilians killed in 2007 – ministry

[I think this figure is too low by far. More than 500 died in the north of the country in one day last August, and thousands of unidentified bodies have been buried in Najaf this year alone. Many more were buried that were identified. – dancewater]

New Year

Last night was the New Year's Eve night and because I used to have special night every year at lest it is special night according to my taste as a Moslem woman. In the last years I used to spend this night with my family at home watch TV, eat cookies and fruit and talk about our wishes for the New Year. This year I tried to start it with extraordinary activity to approve to myself that we will receive a new and different year if God Will so I decided to take my sister and her two children (Haidar 5 years old and Dody 3 years old) on a tour in the city. I drove the car toward the crowded street to share the celebrated people in Baghdad's streets their celebration. It was wonderful hours fill with fun and laugh and that rare in Iraq these days. The people were dancing and singing with joyful togather. There weren't any differences among them. It is impossible if you want to recognize the Sunni, Shiite, Christian or any other sects. Everybody were waving with Iraqi Flags and glorifying their lovely country Iraq. But I cann't say the fears of terrorist's attacks have totally disappeared from our minds because what we saw through the last two years wasn't easy to forget. Really it was a big tragedy "I wish this tragedy will end soon" that my wishes for the New Year.

Iraqi newspaper slams militia, mulls 2007

An Iraqi newspaper on Monday launched a severe attack on militia groups in the country, saying they made 2007 "a year of blood and tears," while another described the outgoing year as "the year of unusual events." The independent daily al-Sabah al-Jadid newspaper published an article by its Editor-in-Chief Ismail Zair in which he labeled 2007 as the year of misfortunes, murderous militias and rampant corruption. "Iraqis say goodbye to another year of blood, killings, explosions and booby traps, while having a sense of hope for the new year," the author said. "In 2007, the country's morgues would receive 3,000 bodies of Sunnis, Shiites and non Iraqis every day. Militia groups held away over Iraqi streets, ministries, syndicates, farms and public places," the author added. "Today we will step out of the shadows of the past to the horizons of the more expansive world of the present with hopes that 2008 will become different from previous years," the author noted. In review of 2007, al-Sharq newspaper, another independent daily, said that the outgoing year was so full of unusual events. "Unlike previous years since the collapse of the former Iraqi regime, 2007 was exceptionally strange…,," according to the newspaper.

Plans to implement loans project throughout Iraq in 2008

Iraqi Labor and Social Affairs Minister Mahmoud el-Sheikh Radi said on Wednesday that his ministry intends to implement the small and medium loans project throughout Iraq. "The project, being implemented now in Baghdad, succeeded in providing 6,157 loans, securing 18,000 jobs in various domains," Radi told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). "Tries now underway to transfer Baghdad's experiment to other provinces," he noted. He expressed hope that the ministry could provide more loans in the new year to develop the special projects, which provide 125 jobs.

REPORTS – US/UK/OTHERS IN IRAQ

US use of drones doubled in Iraq

The US military's reliance on unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAV) has soared to more than 500,000 hours in the air in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to new figures of the US Defense Department, the monthly use of drones that can watch, hunt and sometimes kill insurgents has doubled, largely in Iraq. The increased use of drones, between January and October, has taken pilots out of the air and shifted them to remote flying duty to meet part of the demand.

US Marine off Haditha murder charges

A US Marine allegedly leading the troops to the killing of 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Haditha in 2005, will not face murder charges. Instead Sgt. Frank Wuterich will be charged with voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and dereliction of duty, the US Marine Corps said. This means that one of the four Marines who were first questioned for their role in the massacre will face murder charges. The notorious Haditha massacre occurred on November 19, 2005 when 24 Iraqi civilians including women, children and eldery men were killed by US Marines. Witnesses say the killings were an act of revenge after one of the Marines was killed by a roadside bomb.

COMMENTARY

The Five Iraqs

There are, in fact, five Iraqs that must be dealt with by a singular American policy. The first is the Iraq of the Green Zone, and by that I mean the Iraqi government brought about by the “purple finger revolution” of January 2005. Those sham elections produced a sham democracy which lacks any viability outside of the never-never land of the U.S.-controlled Green Zone.

…. The second Iraq is the one being managed from Tehran. This Iraq, stretching from Basra in the south up into Baghdad, exists outside of the reach of the compromised disaster that is the current government of Iraq, and is instead dominated by SCIRI and its military wing, the Badr Brigade. Here one finds the unvarnished reality of the dream of the pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiites, those who reached political maturity festering in the anti-Saddam ideology cooked up in the theocracy of Iran. Given the roots of this political movement, bred and paid for by the reactionary mullahs of Iran, the politics of revenge that it embraces should come as no surprise. However, whereas the mullahs in Tehran seek long-term political stability guaranteed by a friendly, compliant government in Baghdad, the Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiites seem more focused on rapidly reversing decades of inequities, real and perceived. Revenge is not a policy that breeds stability, and yet it is the politics of revenge that dominates the mind-set of SCIRI.

….Serving as a major domestic counterweight to SCIRI is the indigenous grass-roots Iraqi Shiite movement controlled by Muqtada al-Sadr, the third Iraq. Possessing similar geographic reach as SCIRI, the Iraq of the “Mahdi Army” is one which rejects the SCIRI proxy government operating out of the Green Zone as but a tool of the American occupation, and the SCIRI movement itself as a tool of Iran. While maintaining close relations with Tehran, al-Sadr mocks those who would govern in south Iraq as having Farsi, vice Arabic, as their first tongue. The movement headed by al-Sadr bases its credibility on its pure Iraqi roots, derived as it is from the Shiites of Iraq who actually lived under the rule of Saddam Hussein. Surprisingly, these Shiites are more inclined to find common cause with their fellow Iraqis, including Sunnis who are disaffected with the current government, than with their SCIRI co-religionists.

Wall Street Journal Reporter's Misleading Claims

In Baghdad, every December 25th, the three State Television networks under Saddam covered the Christmas Mass live on TV and celebrated the holidays with the followers of Jesus Christ willingly every year. Greetings of the holidays marked the bottom of the TV screen which showed joyful songs dedicated by Christians to their fellow Christians on the occasion. People would call the songs TV show and dedicate these songs in a live broadcast. With all this publicity, Saramd did not know when Christmas was held. “…when we watched New Year’s Eve celebrations around the world on TV, we thought that was Christmas,” the Wall Street Journal claimed. It is surprising how Sarmad did not notice that not only Christians celebrated Christmas, yet their Muslim friends did too. Christmas trees- the real and fake ones- along with Santa Claus’ posters and outfits were always visible to the eyes of Baghdadis.

Coincidence?!

[This blogger takes a look at a recent picture of Iraqi women who have graduated from police academy with Iranian women who have done the same. The similarities are striking. – dancewater]

Happy New Year 2008

Today is the last day in 2007, the last day of a year filled with surprises and sudden changes for Iraq, a year with many explosions and terror, a year with many innocents death and many miseries but yet a year with some good achievements. as a new year begins, I wish peace will get back to the streets of Baghdad and Iraq in general, i wish that Iraqis could live like the rest of the world do, I wish that fanatics, terrorists, insurgents.....etc. call them whatever you want disappear, I just wish they disappear, I wish that anyone who wants to harm any human being disappear from the face of the earth, I wish the violence and the hatred in Iraq will go and be from the past like 2007 did, I wish everything is settled and the violence is over so the US government will have no excuse to stay in Iraq and Iraq can be as it used to be; a free, strong country.

Quotes of the day: “ We don't torture people in America and people who say we do simply know nothing about our country.” ~ George W. Bush [Interview with Australian TV - October 18, 2003]

"the actions of those folks in Iraq do not represent the values of the United States of America." ~ George W. Bush

“This so-called ill treatment and torture in detention centers, stories of which were spread everywhere among the people, and later by the prisoners who were freed were not, as some assumed, inflicted methodically, but were excesses committed by individual prison guards, their deputies, and men who laid violent hands on the detainees.” ~ Rudolf Hoess, the SS commandant at Auschwitz

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