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

Saturday, January 5, 2008

News & Views 01/05/08














Photo: Pictures were taken from Times Online website. See “Get out of my house, shrieks the Iraqi women” story below.

REPORTS – LIFE IN IRAQ

Saturday: 21 Iraqis Killed, 20 Wounded

12 unknown bodies found in Baghdad

No Difference

The people in the blocked streets were upset to make them stuck without reaching their destination for no reasonable purpose, but for showing off a celebration or having the prime minister in Iraq. This thing reminds us of the former regime during Saddam's reign when that regime used to have demonstrations and celebrations of such kinds forcing people to be in streets to make the world see them trying to convince them that the government is from the people and for them. I think the Iraqi people are smart enough to know who made this small demonstration and for what reason. Also the Iraqi people fed up with celebrations and speeches having one thing to be achieved which is Iraq for Iraqis no more. I am not against such kinds of celebrations of ceremonies if they just like the one done in the Baghdad airport by the ministers and officials to receive the prime minister, but the price is too much as all the roads near the BIAP (Baghdad International Air Port) are closed making people in trouble having one excuse in mind that they want to secure the officials convoys from terrorists attacks. Thus, there is no difference of our past than the present time.

Get out of my house, shrieks the Iraqi woman

“What are you doing in my house?” screamed the furious Iraqi woman as she walked in on a group of American and Iraqi soldiers who were crashing around her living room after kicking down her front door. “Get out, get out,” she shouted in broken English, shaking her fists in rage at the troops who had frozen as if caught in the act of doing something naughty. Surveying the damage, the woman shrieked: “Are you happy now?” American soldiers, and increasingly their Iraqi counterparts, have been conducting house-to-house searches since the invasion, checking neighbourhoods for weapons, insurgents, dead bodies and kidnap victims in a bid to quell the violence that has consumed Iraq. Hoping to cause minimum inconvenience, the military has softened its approach, always knocking on the front door of a house and waiting to be shown in. Many homes in dangerous areas, however, are empty after the occupants fled the escalating violence, leaving the soldiers with no option but to break open the front gate and bust down the front door, either with a boot or a crowbar. [I wonder how sympathetic this writer would be if it happened to her home with Russian troops? Nonetheless, the comments at her blog seem to think she is not accurately reflecting the “good” the US troops are doing in Iraq. – dancewater]

…….. “We are here to help. We are here to search for bad people,” said Lieutenant Harmon. “The quicker people like you start to help us the better,” he said, adding: “We apologise and we will fix your door. You have my word. But you must try to help.” As this exchange was going on, the 29-year-old daughter, a doctor at a university hospital in Baghdad, knelt in tears on the floor of her bedroom, which had been turned upside down. “This is my work. I kept it here because I thought it would be safer than at the hospital,” she told me, staring in despair at an avalanche of documents and scattered files.
“Oh my god, oh my god,” she said, speaking in fairly fluent English, holding up three bottles of blood samples that were an important part of some research she was doing.

Last-Of-Iraqis

They were crying and screaming, it's a disaster, I have seen their house before and if I want to estimate the value of their furniture and antiques I would say at least half million dollars at the minimum, they asked the neighbor about what had happened, he told them that yesterday the US troops and the National guards had broken the door and entered the house when they found that there is no one home they started breaking the windows and the furniture for no reason, the neighbor was watching but he couldn't do anything, they destroyed every thing and left the house to search the rest of the houses in the block, the did the same with every empty house, they destroyed the furniture of every empty house.
I don't know why did they do that? I was thinking and looking for a reason why did they do that? But till now I couldn't find any. If they wanted to search, then they could without destroying anything, there was nothing locked!! I don't know why.

I asked them about the conditions there, and about the awakening and their role, they told me that the conditions are miserable, the streets are empty and all the shops are closed, it looks more like an army barracks than a neighborhood. The awakening in Saidia had failed, majority of them were killed and the rest had resigned and escaped, their checkpoints are just empty destroyed spots now as they said, they said that as they were going out of Saidia and they saw a convoy of US tanks moving very fast and destroy everything in front of them, they saw the tanks crushes the cars and destroy the fences of houses for no reason!!!!???

Joking even though there is no gas, water, electricity, money, jobs...

Jump into a taxi in Baghdad and within minutes the driver will most likely have steered the conversation onto a favourite topic here – power and water, or at least the lack of both. “Makou falous, makou kaharaba, makou maie,” is a phrase, meaning: “No money, no electricity, no water”, that is often uttered with a wry laugh because people feel that the situation has barely changed since the invasion and there is nothing they can do. Another line follows: “Makou nafut, makou shi”, which translates as “No gas, no-anything.” Officials say that electricity levels are improving all the time but Iraqis on the street insist that they still have to rely largely on private generators to power their homes or make do without. Winter is also surprisingly cold in Iraq given the ridiculously high temperatures that are hit in the summer, forcing people to wrap up in blankets and extra layers of clothing at night if they have no fuel to burn for heat.

Help renovate 2 Iraqi orphanages in Duhok, Iraq!

The primary idea behind the project is to help to improve the orphans’ quality of life. The project aims to provide two orphan houses with heaters and carpets because the houses are lacking this important part at the moment. The project is also trying to provide the houses with some educational materials like books, stories or toys, with re-establishing an existing computer network and hopefully provide it with internet supplies. In the same time, I will be addressing another issue which is youth empowerment and gender equality, by giving the youth in my close community the chance to work and to be creative and helpful. Through this project and other similar activities we hope to be giving equal chances to both males and females to work together and accomplish things as a team.

Snowstorm hits Kurdistan region

For the first time this winter, a snowstorm struck Iraq's Kurdistan provinces of Arbil and Sulaimaniya on Saturday morning, according to eyewitnesses. "Snow covered large areas of Arbil province, including northern Shaqlawa, Souran and Juman, as well as Salah al-Din, in addition to Sulaimaniya city for the first time this year," local eyewitnesses told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). Other eyewitnesses from Duhuk's Zakho city spoke of snow covering the mountainous areas of their province, 460 km north of Baghdad.

Small loans bring projects to life- economists

Iraqi economic experts praised the small loan scheme launched by some governmental and non-governmental organizations, and slammed the Iraqi Central Bank's policy of reducing liquidity. "Small loans have helped revive many projects which were on their way to extinction," an economic analyst, Husam al-Samouk, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI), arguing that 90% of the country's 130 small projects are facing immense difficulties to survive. "The remaining 10% operate at 20-50% of their capacity as a result of many obstacles, notably the shortage of raw material and power problems," al-Samouk indicated. "The provision of simplified loans for owners of these projects will help drive forward the Iraqi economy and implement a real economic development," the analyst added. Several banks as well as governmental and non-governmental organizations have offered loans to citizens, a policy that aims to set up new projects and develop existing ones.

Iraqi newspapers cease publication on Army Day

Iraqi newspapers will cease publication on Saturday, and Sunday, which marks the Iraqi Army Day, a media source said. "Iraqi newspapers will not appear today or tomorrow because of the official holdiday marking the Iraqi Army Day," the source, who preferred to remain unnamed, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). January 6 marks the anniversary of the Iraqi army, which was first set up in 1921 under British mandate.

Audio & Pictures: Surgery and Recovery, Then Back to Iraq

A look at the work of Doctors Without Borders, treating badly wounded Iraqi civilians.

Multi-media: Around Baghdad, Signs of Normal Life Creep Back

With security in Baghdad improving, residents across the city are taking steps to return to normalcy.

Multi-media: Baghdad Bookmarket Survives Despite War

COMMENTARY

Theater

A Play With Few Words, but a Clear Message.

Exit al-Qaeda. Enter the militias?

In 2007 the United States military put its most dangerous enemy on the run. In 2008 it may face an even more entrenched foe. Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the primary target of the American troop surge and counter-insurgency strategy, appears to be on its last legs after a year of being attacked from all sides. But Shi’ite militias, which have deep roots in Iraq’s Shi’a communities and the Shi’ite-dominated government, may now pose a more serious long-term threat. In some ways AQI was a victim of its own success. It is practically the only organization in Iraq that all the other players in the country saw as an unacceptable threat. Both the U.S. military and the Shi’ite-dominated government had fought the Sunni jihadist group for years. By the beginning of 2007, Sunni tribal leaders and nationalist insurgents had also begun battling with their former allies in AQI in order to retake control of Sunni communities.

Michael Collins: Forget The Torture Tapes

Have you heard or read that 9% or Iraq’s population is either dead or injured to date due to the 2003 invasion? This is rarely addressed by U.S. media or politicians. The announcement that 19% of Iraq’s population now consists of orphans hasn’t hit mainstream media’s radar yet. This shocker seems destined for the same fate as the death and injury figures. Odd isn’t it? All this emphasis on the CIA’s destruction of Abu Zubaydah torture tapes instead of the pervasive and ongoing human loss and suffering visited on Iraq by Bush and Cheney? Let’s take a quick look at the tape controversy and see if there’s some relationship to the dismissal and denial of the infinitely larger outrage. Abu Zubaydah was either a terrorist kingpin or a seriously disturbed individual with multiple personality traits. He either provided a wealth of information or he was a useless informant. His torture was conducted either with or without the full knowledge of Bush-Cheney. The destruction of the torture tapes was either approved by Bush-Cheney in advance or it became known to them after the fact. We’re either seeing a major cover up or flawed White House public relations in the wake of Rove’s departure.

By applying “the law of subsumption,” (i.e., thinking the worst of Bush-Cheney is almost always correct given prior performance) this side show can be wrapped up promptly. Bush and Cheney were desperate to justify their disastrous Iraq adventure. There were no WMDs, there never had been any connection between Saddam and 911, and the excuse of bringing democracy to Iraq had no legs. Why are we there? How do we explain the Iraqi resistance? What if the people discover it was really all about oil? [Feeling guilty? Please donate to No More Victims or to the Iraqi Orphanage Project above. – dancewater]

The post-Bush regime: A prognosis for global genocide (Part 1)

In order to understand anything about American political affairs, it is necessary to have some understanding of who it is that really makes the decisions behind the scenes, and what their interests are. In this way we have some hope of identifying the hidden agendas being served by government actions and programs, and some hope of identifying the longer-term strategies that are in play. It turns out -- and informed people should already know this -- that the U.S. is essentially owned and managed by a small clique of wealthy families -- the ones who own and control the Federal Reserve. The Rockefellers are the obvious and well-known members of this clique, but there are others less well-known, not all American, and some whose identity remains to this day a carefully guarded secret. We don’t even know exactly who it is that’s running the show.

Such has been the nature of our ‘democracy’ since 1913, when the Federal Reserve Act was snuck through Congress during Christmas recess, by the same folks who funded Woodrow Wilson’s campaign and who became the private owners of the new all-powerful central bank. The first major initiative of these folks, the ancestors of our current ruling clique, was to finance both sides in Europe during World War I, and then to connive the entrance of the U.S. into the war just in time to tilt the balance to the side favored by the clique -- the same pattern that later characterized World War II.

…..So the time had come to pull the plug on the neocon tool. It was surprisingly easy to do. The first step, taken who knows how long ago, was to put the word discreetly to the Joint Chiefs that the Iran project is off, regardless of what orders might come from the White House or the Black Box. This news, of course, was to be kept in the room, as it surely was. Once the castle was thereby made secretly safe, it was a trivial matter to plant the seeds that would unravel the whole gone-sour, rogue-threatening, neocon bandwagon. A simple but devastating intelligence announcement, a few whispers to key Bilderberger players that it was open season on the American contingent at the next meeting, and various other subtle and quite easy moves. It takes little, after all, to bring down a house of cards, particularly one propped up by a weak joker. The clique as usual remains invisible.

Comment on Moon of Alabama blog:

Emperor of America is NOT an elected position. He is David Rockefeller. that he holds that position became clear a few months ago, when Jap. concerned about their dollar holdings. Jap. Emperor summoned David. I realized then that he summoned his counterpart. We always knew he was the Most Powerful American. I just hadn't made the connection. Of course, that's what the singular ruling member of any society is. Yes, Virginia, America does have an Emperor. The Thing they stuff into the Oval Office, is merely the Top Salesboy/girl whose job it is to manipulate the masses into accepting elite policy. The lavish perks merely mask the triviality of the job.

And another comment, same blog post:

Here at the Upper East Side Liberation Army, we so enjoy watching the squabbles over petty cash that the American public calls election campaigns. Oh, you kids! Here in America, one percent of the population owns nearly half of the assets of the nation, and controls most of the remainder. Now, that's truly the catbird seat, isn't it? And that's us, the UESLA. We 'march on Washington every day;' and we dictate America's economic and foreign policy to benefit our perch. Politicians of every stripe and flavor either follow our policies or go home to spend more time with their families. There isn't another option. It's ours. We run the place because we own the place. We own the place because we run the place. It's all good. It's all ours. Not yours. You rent in our nation. Even if you hold a mortgage and a career, you rent. As you will have noticed by now, it can all go away -- whereas we do not, will not, cannot go away. We're way too big to fail, no matter what it costs you. Perhaps it is past time that you got used to the idea, hey? Get back to work, get back to shopping, and how 'bout them Patriots? You consumers aren't actually in charge of anything here, including your own lives, so relax.

U.S. Troops Storm Iraqi Health Ministry (Again)

Editor's note: it's worth noting what this story says about much of the media's acceptance of the idea that there is a "sovereign government" in Iraq.

[This story was posted earlier this week, but I wanted to print the comment above. - dancewater]

Quotes of the day: "the giver of the blow forgets, the bearer of the scar remembers"
-- haitian proverb

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