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

Monday, January 28, 2008

News & Views 01/28/08

Photo: Local citizens carry a comrade injured in a booby-trapped house to a U.S. Army outpost in Arab Jabour, south of Baghdad, Iraq on Monday, Jan. 28, 2008. Three security volunteers were injured while working with U.S. troops in Beijia village, a former al-Qaida stronghold. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

REPORTS – LIFE IN IRAQ

Monday: 5 US Soldiers, 21 Iraqis Killed; 17 Iraqis Wounded

Sunday: 3 US Soldiers, 14 Iraqis Killed; 12 Iraqis Wounded

ORB polling firm reissues Iraq mortality estimate of one million dead

Last September, the British polling firm ORB issued a report estimating that 1.2 million Iraqis had died. After criticism, ORB announced that they would conduct additional surveys in rural areas to check their results. the implication was that they had undersampled rural areas, which might have inflated their mortality estimate. At that time, they stated that they expected the additional results to be available by early October. Well it’s now late January and they have just released their revised results. They now estimate that their estimate of 1.2 million deaths should be revised downward to 1,033,000 with a range of 946,000 and 1,120,000.

Zanjili Incident- Ninawa Governorate

The violent actions in Iraq continued as more than 60 people were killed and 280 wounded in a massive bomb attack on Wednesday 23 January 2008, at 4:30 pm. The attack destroyed a building and adjacent houses in Zanjili area in Mosul, Iraq's third main city and capital of Ninawa governorate.

Iraq’s Jassim: Mosul worse than imagined

The situation in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, rocked by blasts blamed on Al-Qaeda, is "worse than imagined," the defence minister said, as troops were poised for an assault on the jihadists. The Iraqi Red Crescent, meanwhile, said the toll from one of the blasts, in which a building was obliterated and about 100 houses destroyed, was higher than reported by the Iraqi authorities, with 60 people killed and 280 wounded. ….The situation in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, rocked by blasts blamed on Al-Qaeda, is "worse than imagined," the defence minister said, as troops were poised for an assault on the jihadists. The Iraqi Red Crescent, meanwhile, said the toll from one of the blasts, in which a building was obliterated and about 100 houses destroyed, was higher than reported by the Iraqi authorities, with 60 people killed and 280 wounded.

IRAQ: More relief aid needed in Mosul after blast

Essential relief items are needed to continue relief operations, and maintain an emergency stock, for affected families in the northern city of Mosul, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) said on 28 January. ….In a report on its website, the IRCS said the most needed relief items were food, kitchen sets, mattresses, blankets, medical supplies, milk for infants, bottled water, suits and vests for disaster management volunteers, and canned food. "The attack led to the destruction of at least 100 houses," the IRCS said, adding that there were probably further dead bodies beneath the rubble.

300 million dinars for Mosul attack victims

MP from the Iraqi Accordance Front (IAF) said on Monday that the Iraqi parliament allocated 300 million dinars to help the victims of the late Zanjili bombing attacks in Mosul. "The parliament allocated 300 million Iraqi dinars instead of the 100 million that was announced earlier, to help Mosul's innocent people afflicted in the bombing attack," Nour al-Din al-Hayali told Aswat al-Iraq - Voices of Iraq - (VOI) by phone.

Return to Fallujah

Fallujah is more difficult to enter than any city in the world. On the road from Baghdad I counted 27 checkpoints, all manned by well-armed soldiers and police. "The siege is total," says Dr Kamal in Fallujah Hospital as he grimly lists his needs, which include everything from drugs and oxygen to electricity and clean water. The last time I tried to drive to Fallujah, several years ago, I was caught in the ambush of an American fuel convoy and had to crawl out of the car and lie beside the road with the driver while US soldiers and guerrillas exchanged gunfire. The road is now much safer but nobody is allowed to enter Fallujah who does not come from there and can prove it through elaborate identity documents. The city has been sealed off since November 2004 when United States Marines stormed it in an attack that left much of the city in ruins. Its streets, with walls pock-marked with bullets and buildings reduced to a heap of concrete slabs, still look as if the fighting had finished only a few weeks ago.

Apocalyptic Fallujah

Buildings reduced to a heap of concrete slabs as if they were toppled by missiles the other day and walls pock-marked with bullets, while clean water, electricity or medicine are something of a luxury. It is not a scene from Gaza or the southern suburb of Beirut in the wake of the 2006 Israeli war, but a miniature portrait of the onetime Iraqi resistance hub of Fallujah three years after the US occupation had sealed off the city, the Independent reported on Monday, January 28. "The Americans provide us with nothing," said one mother. "They bring us only destruction." The US occupation forces launched in March of 2004 an abortive operation to control Fallujah, which went down in history as the country's resistance command base against the occupation at the time. Eight months later, the US occupation staged a devastating operation following the killing and mutilation of four US Blackwater contractors by locals, recapturing the resistance hub. The November onslaught left much of the city in ruins and up to 1,300 killed, including children and women. Thousands were maimed for life. Today, the city's streets look as if the fighting had finished only a few weeks ago.

No improvement in electricity output– minister

There has been no improvement in the production of electricity in the country in the past 12 moths, Minister of Electricity Kareem Waheed said.

IRAQ: Defence ministry asks IDPs to evacuate former military base

The Iraqi Ministry of Defence has given about 300 internally displaced persons (IDPs) one week to evacuate a former military compound in Babil Province, about 100km south of the capital, Baghdad, officials said on 25 January.

Baiji Branch Humanitarian Assistances

The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMSI) Baiji Branch provided substantial humanitarian and fuel assistance to the needy and displaced families including 600 families living in the area. ….. The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMSI) appealed for help to the humanitarian organizations to save the medical problems in the region from crisis it is going through.

Iraq's Anatomy—Triage at a Baghdad Hospital

If you need a blood transfusion at Baghdad's Al Yarmouk hospital, you can get one—so long as someone's there to donate blood on your behalf. If you need an operation, you can have one of those too—though your only anesthetic might be your friends and family holding you down. One big explosion can dry up the hospital's saline supplies for a week, leaving the next explosion's victims without the necessary treatment. And where triage is within a war zone doctors and ambulance drivers are regularly threatened and harassed.

Karbala residents protest for proper housing in front of Green Zone

Dozens of Karbala residents took to the streets on Monday in protest of a law ordering the removal of all trespasses on state-owned land in front of the fortified Green Zone and urging the government to provide proper housing for them. "We are a few of 10,000 poor families in Karbala, some of whom have been displaced from other provinces and others have no home. We settled in land owned by Karbala municipality, which notified us that we should evacuate the land in 15 days," One of the demonstrators, Naeem Abdullah al-Aibi, told Aswat al-Iraq, Voices of Iraq, (VOI).

No Survivors After Night Attack at Home of Baghdad Ex-Official

A band of attackers on Saturday night broke into the home of a man who was a senior Baghdad city official under the government of Saddam Hussein and shot and stabbed him and his family, killing everyone in the home, an Iraqi official said Sunday. …The former Baghdad municipal official, Ahmed Jawad Hashem, retired several years ago and lived with his family on the outskirts of the Sadr City neighborhood, an Interior Ministry official said on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for attribution. Late on Saturday night, attackers slipped inside his house and shot him and his wife, Nisreen, in the chest and then slit their throats, the official said.

REPORTS – IRAQI MILITIAS, POLITICIANS, POWER BROKERS

'If there is no change in three months, there will be war again'

A crucial Iraqi ally of the United States in its recent successes in the country is threatening to withdraw his support and allow al-Qa'ida to return if his fighters are not incorporated into the Iraqi army and police. "If there is no change in three months there will be war again," said Abu Marouf, the commander of 13,000 fighters who formerly fought the Americans. He and his men switched sides last year to battle al-Qa'ida and defeated it in its main stronghold in and around Fallujah. "If the Americans think they can use us to crush al-Qa'ida and then push us to one side, they are mistaken," Abu Marouf told The Independent in an interview in a scantily furnished villa beside an abandoned cemetery near the village of Khandari outside Fallujah. He said that all he and his tribal following had to do was stand aside and al-Qa'ida's fighters would automatically come back. If they did so he might have to ally himself to a resurgent al-Qa'ida in order to "protect myself and my men".

'Heaven's Army' sparks political controversy in Shiite provinces

A widespread controversy has erupted among political and religious milieus in Shiite provinces south of Iraq days after the armed rebellion led by radical Shiite "Heaven's Army" organisation in Basra and Nassariyah. This controversy is kept strictly confidential as a result of two factors. The first is because the intelligence information uncovered has come as a surprise to the Iraqi government, and secondly, some Shiite elites have accused Shiite religious forces of promoting the Al Mahdi emergence, which is exploited by criminal groups aiming to seize power in the region.

Iraq Qaeda video shows police officers "repent"-Web

An al Qaeda-linked group in Iraq issued an Internet video on Sunday showing what it said were two police officers repenting their past actions and handing over their weapons.

REPORTS – US/UK/OTHERS IN IRAQ

Video: The American military did the explosion in Mosul

As I said before the (un)controlled explosion in Mosul done by the Americans but because it went wrong western media reported that it was a terrorists attack. Here is a video clipshows eyewitnesses, residents of Zndjeli area tell their story to an Iraqi government official.

Translation - Eyewitness: they took the weapons only [not the explosions] and put it in their vehicles, they timed the explosion and runaway to the nearby streets, my family asked the American: It will be a big explosion, it is better if we leave our houses. He answered: No, it is not a big explosion, just leave the windows open and sit beside the walls, it will be alright. Later the houses fell on our heads

Iraq urges limits on U.S. operations

As the two governments work out a military agreement, Baghdad says the country must not be involved in any attacks on its neighbors. The Iraqi government is eager to reach agreement to extend the authority of the United States to conduct combat operations here, a spokesman said Saturday, but he emphasized that Iraq must not be used as a launch pad for attacks against neighboring countries. Government spokesman Ali Dabbagh echoed remarks by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates last week that the agreement would include no provisions for permanent American bases. The accord would take effect after the United Nations mandate governing U.S. operations in the country expires at the end of the year. Asked whether Iraq would grant the U.S. the power to continue unilateral offensive operations and maintain its own detention facilities, he said, "Definitely, because this is one of the major needs for troops: to support Iraqi security forces in their fight." But Dabbagh also said that the troops must "not be used against [Iraq's] neighbors," which could put the country's security in jeopardy. "I think this is one of the principles which Iraqis are working" to spell out in the agreement. [Well, good luck with that. The US powers will do what they want. – dancewater]

Iraq contractors tap Latin America's needy

Calixto says he has no complaints about his treatment in Iraq. The problem, he says, has been getting help since his return to Peru. The U.S. Defense Base Act requires that contractors such as Triple Canopy provide coverage, including disability, for work-related injuries. Claims, however, are reviewed by the U.S. Labor Department and are administered by a U.S. insurance company.

Britain denies Iraqi soccer star's dream

Fans, ecstatic to see the athlete courted by a top team, are in an uproar over London's refusal to issue him a work permit.

HISTORY

CBS Falsifies Iraq War History

In the real world, Saddam Hussein's Iraq announced in 2002 that it didn't have WMD, sent the U.N. a 12,000-page declaration to that effect, and let U.N. inspectors in to check. In George W. Bush's world -- and according to "60 Minutes" -- none of that happened. [Saddam also publicly announced on live TV that he had no WMDs in February 2003. – dancewater]

IRAQI REFUGEES

UN survey finds 1 in 5 Iraqi refugees are victims of torture or violence

A recent survey of Iraqi refugees in Syria conducted by the United Nations refugee agency, revealed every single respondent had experienced at least one traumatic event prior to leaving Iraq. One in five of the Iraqi refugees interviewed claimed to be the victims of torture or violence.

Severe cold weather pushing living costs to limit for Iraqi refugees

Officials in the Jordanian government have warned that the unusually severe winter affecting the Middle East has destroyed crops, and will likely lead to increases in the price of food. Crops in Syria and Israel have also been severely affected. With fuel prices expected to soar, life for many living in the Kingdom of Jordan is set to get more difficult.

Iraqi refugees in Damascus find consolation in Internet cafés

Hundreds of Iraqi refugees in the Syrian capital Damascus frequent Internet cafés to contact their loved ones and friends in Iraq as well as run their affairs and businesses.
While some Iraqis go to Internet cafés, making good use of a cheap means of audio-video contacts with relatives in Iraq, others are opening their own cafés to start a business in Damascus. "My married daughter is residing in Iraq. My eldest son is living in Germany with his family. I left Iraq two years ago, but I maintain contact with my sons and daughters and relatives via phone calls and the Internet even if only for a few minutes," an Iraqi woman in a café told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI).

How to Help Iraqi Refugees

ANOTHER Way to help: The Collateral Repair Project

COMMENTARY

Missing Voices in the Iraq Debate

Iraqis, of course, continue to witness firsthand this "decisive stand against chaos and terror". In our world, however, they are largely mute witnesses. Americans may argue among themselves about just how much "success" or "progress" there really is in post-"surge" Iraq, but it is almost invariably an argument in which Iraqis are but stick figures - or dead bodies. Of late, I have been asking Iraqis I know by email what they make of the American version (or versions) of the unseemly reality that is their country, that they live and suffer with. What does it mean to become a "secondary issue" for your occupier?

Quote of the day: The doctors said that they were tending their patients as best they could. "The Americans provide us with nothing," said one mother who was cradling a child. "They bring us only destruction." – from article “Return to Fallujah"

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