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 29, 2008

News & Views 01/29/08

Photo: Iraqi men check bodies laid out on the ground outside a morgue in the restive city of Baquba. Iraqi police have said they have found the remains of 19 executed men in the volatile northeastern province of Diyala, including 10 severed heads. (AFP)

REPORTS – LIFE IN IRAQ

BAGHDAD - More than 500 people demonstrated in Abu Ghraib district on Baghdad's western outskirts against detentions by the Iraqi army in the area, police said.

Mosul's Zinjily final toll: 36 dead, 240 wounded

Severed heads and bodies found in Iraq field: police

Audio: Iraqi Militias Target Women

Iraqis have fanned out across the Middle East and beyond to escape violence at home. Many women say they were the targets of Islamist militias intent on imposing a fundamentalist brand of Islam.

Audio: Doctor Takes Camera 'Inside the Red Zone' of War

As a physician in Baghdad, Dr. Omer Salih Madhi decided to do what few people could: He brought a video camera into an emergency room. Madhi's graphic documentary, Baghdad Hospital: Inside the Red Zone, premieres Tuesday night on HBO. The doctor talks about making the film and the current conditions in Iraq.

Video: Basra Celebrates Ramadan With Security - 01.28.2008

Since 2003 the Basra was will known better in life then Baghdad the life at the night is lot better then Baghdad, in Baghdad the life ends at six or seven at night. In Basra the residents would only go home around 11:00PM and for the people in Baghdad it was a dream to stay out in the street till 11:00. It should be mentioned that in the last three weeks violence has returned to Basra, and more than 300 Iraqis were killed during these last three weeks because of the battles between Iraqi security forces and the militias.

War News Radio In the Line of Fire

This week on War News Radio, we hear about an ongoing initiative to re-integrate former soldiers into Iraq’s new military. Then we hear from soldiers on active duty who are also actively against the war. Also, we learn how U.S. service members in Iraq are using Facebook to keep in touch. In Iraq 101, we tell the history of the Iraqi army. And finally, in our Day in the Life series, we hear from an Iraqi policeman trying to enforce the law in a lawless city.

Iraqis mock US soldiers and themselves on You Tube

US soldiers are lampooned, policemen are shown as buffoons and Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is irreverently cheered by penguins... Iraqis are turning more and more to You Tube to express their dark-edged humour. The main butt of send-ups posted by Iraqis on the popular Internet video site is, as one might expect, the US military.

REPORTS – IRAQI MILITIAS, POLITICIANS, POWER BROKERS

New alliances not new intentions in Iraq

Iraqis are uncertain regarding the new political alliances in their country. After around five years of achieving almost no tangible accomplishments, perceptions of Iraqis interpret these coalitions as not more than speeches and slogans. The new political alliances in Iraq are considered moot issues for Iraqis, despite that these coalitions presumably have political dimensions, rather than ethnic or sectarian motivations, as they were in the near past. Observers of the situation in Iraq argue whether the new coalitions represent serious intentions of the leaders of Iraq to map a new political approach in that country, that responds to the demands of the people there.

Head of Awakening Council killed north of Baghdad

A tribal chief said on Tuesday that Head of Sabaa al-Bour Awakening Council Abbas al-Dulaimi was killed on Monday when his car exploded north of Baghdad. "Awakening Council fighters captured some of al-Dulaimi's bodyguards and admitted to planting explosive charges in his private car prior to the explosion," the chief told Aswat al-Iraq - Voices of Iraq - (VOI) under condition of anonymity. "He was alone when the car went off," he added.

Inquiry demanded after bank arson

Iraqi members of parliament have asked the government to set up a commission to investigate the fires that devastated large sections of the Central Bank building in Baghdad.pppp The MPs say the blazing fires were premeditated and were an attempt by certain senior officials to obliterate documents.

Presidential Council ratifies new Iraqi flag

Iraq cuts off oil supplies to SKorea

Iraq on January 1 suspended an annual contract with South Korea's top refiner SK Energy to export 90,000 barrels per day, the energy ministry said. SK Energy said it has been told to back out of the Kurdistan deal if it wants to resume the contract. "We are trying hard to resume the contract through negotiations," a spokesman told AFP.

REPORTS – US/UK/OTHERS IN IRAQ

POLITICS-US: Bush Signs Vets Bill, Won't Ban Permanent Bases

U.S. general plans more Baghdad garrisons

The new commander of American forces in Baghdad plans to increase the number of local garrisons across the Iraqi capital even as U.S. troop levels drop in the coming months. Moving soldiers out of relatively safe bases and into Baghdad's dangerous streets was a key element in the counter- insurgency strategy implemented by the commander of U.S. forces, General David Petraeus, when he arrived a year ago. The tactic has been vital to the U.S. military's goal of not just clearing neighbourhoods of militants but then holding them. Major-General Jeffery Hammond told foreign journalists on Tuesday that he had a total of 75 joint security stations and combat outposts in Baghdad and planned to add another dozen of each from now until June. U.S. forces live and operate with Iraqi forces in such garrisons.

U.S. Army investigates detainee deaths in Iraq

The U.S. Army is investigating allegations of misconduct against soldiers over the deaths of several detainees in Baghdad last year, officials said on Tuesday. The allegations involve the deaths of several detainees captured during combat operations in the Iraqi capital by the 2nd brigade combat team of the Army's 1st Infantry Division, Army spokesman Paul Boyce said. The alleged incidents took place in spring or summer of 2007 in the southern Rashid district of the Iraqi capital, Boyce said. The brigade has since redeployed from Iraq back to its base in Schweinefurt, Germany, Boyce said. Boyce declined to specify who had made the allegations. But he said, "Traditionally, when units return after such a length of time ... (and) when an allegation comes forward, it's because soldiers may have talked about it amongst themselves."

Parsons, a U.S. builder, faulted in array of Iraq projects

Rebuilding failures by one of the most heavily criticized companies working in Iraq, the American construction giant Parsons, were much more widespread than previously revealed and touched on nearly every aspect of the company's operation in the country, according to a report released by a federal oversight agency.

IRAQI REFUGEES

Audio: Refugees Resist Returning to Iraq

Most Iraqi refugees are in Syria, Lebanon and surrounding areas. Europe and especially the U.S. have faced increasing pressure to open their borders to more Iraqis, but there is little infrastructure or funding in place to do so. Madeleine Brand talks to Andrew Harper, head of the Iraq Support Group for the UN's High Commission on Refugees, about what the U.S. is doing to help refugees.

Highly recommended:

OSI Forum: The Iraqi Refugee Crisis—Bearing Witness

The conflict in Iraq has created the greatest refugee crisis the Middle East has seen in fifty years, with more than four million Iraqis fleeing their homes. An estimated two million are refugees in neighboring countries, while another 2.5 million are internally displaced. At this panel sponsored by the OSI Middle East & North Africa Initiative, journalist George Packer discussed Betrayed, his new play about the treatment of Iraqis who risked their lives to work for U.S. forces, and photographer Lori Grinker screened a short multimedia film about Iraqi refugees in Jordan. They were joined by Refugees International advocate Kristele Younes, who recently returned from a fact-finding mission in the Middle East, and Omer Salih Mahdi, an Iraqi doctor, journalist, and documentary film director, to discuss the humanitarian and political implications of the refugee crisis.

Iraqi Refugees

Last night, I heard Sayib*, a Fulbright scholar from Iraq, tell his story. He spoke at The Iraqi Refugee Crisis—Bearing Witness, an event hosted by the Open Society Institute in New York City. His father was kidnapped and killed, a brother was almost killed, and two other brothers were kidnapped, though they later returned, shaken and upset. After all of this Sayib and his family decided to leave Iraq and they now languish in Syria, unable to work. The violence Sayib’s family experienced in Iraq and their flight into Syria are not unique. In one way or another, I have heard these stories over and over again. However, for me the compassion in Sayib’s voice truly stood out. Despite all of things that happened to him and his family, he still has great confidence in Iraq’s future. “I’ve already lost a lot of friends,” he said. Let us hope he does not lose any more.

The event also included a short lecture from Advocate Kristele Younes on what needs to be done to alleviate the crisis, as she continues to successfully publicize Iraqi refugees’ needs. In addition, Kristele and RI President Ken Bacon published an op-ed in the Washington Post Outlook section describing where Iraqi refugees have fled and the level of aid needed to help them.

'Betrayal' of Iraqi interpreters comes to NY stage

Iraqi doctor turned film-maker Omer Salih Mahdi had the strange experience of seeing his life portrayed on stage this weekend at a preview performance of "Betrayed," a play about Iraqis who worked for Americans. "It's really unbelievable to see this in the heart of New York," he said afterward during a discussion on stage with playwright George Packer, a New Yorker magazine reporter. "I watched part of my life flow in front of my eyes."

Denmark grants asylum to 370 Iraqis

How to Help Iraqi Refugees

ANOTHER Way to help: The Collateral Repair Project

COMMENTARY

Two men, two legs and too much suffering

Almost 40 years after guerrilla fighters in his country threw the limits of US military power into stark relief - during the 1968 Tet Offensive - we sit in his rustic home, built of wood and thatch with an earthen floor, and speak of two hallmarks of that power: ignorance and lack of accountability. As awkward chicks scurry past my feet, I have the sickening feeling that, in decades to come, far too many Iraqis and Afghans will have similar stories to tell. Similar memories of American troops. Similar accounts of air strikes and artillery bombardments. Nightmare knowledge of what "America" means to far too many outside the United States. ……And it turns out he has a question of his own: "Americans caused many losses and much suffering for the Vietnamese during the war, do Americans now feel remorse?" I wish I could answer "yes". Instead, I tell him that most Americans are totally ignorant of the pain of the Vietnamese people, and then I think to myself, as I glance at the ample pile of tiny, local potatoes on his floor, about widespread American indifference to civilians killed, maimed, or suffering in other ways in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The state of the (Iraqi) union

It's more a state of disunion in Iraq, where George W Bush's invasion has left a divided nation in anger, sorrow and shambles. Not one of his possible successors has detailed a realistic plan to extricate the US from the quagmire.

method of corruption

Corruption is the disease that corrodes Iraq's body from the inside. I can say that corruption one of the passages to terrorism it is the mold of terrorism. Any terrorist can join to any ministry if he has amount of money and that what made the ministries moan of corruption aches. Many parties finance their militias by stealing Iraq's fortunes every where in Iraq. If we want to weaken the terrorism we should destroy its mold the corruption.

RESISTANCE

Iraqi Refugee Crisis

Last night, in his State of the Union speech, President Bush did not even acknowledge the Iraqi refugee crisis - much less make a commitment to accept our country's moral responsibility to help the 4 million Iraqis who have been forced to flee their homes. But there's one thing he made very clear: He needs to hear from us louder and clearer than ever. This administration must fulfill our country's moral obligation to Iraq's refugees. More than 4 million Iraqis have fled their homes, and more than 2 million of that number are living in difficult and deteriorating conditions in neighboring countries. President Bush should commit to lead the international response to this grave humanitarian crisis. The administration promised to admit 12,000 Iraqi refugees by September 2008. Help us break the news: That is far too few! The administration should step up its commitment to address the crisis - by increasing humanitarian aid to the region and by increasing U.S. refugee admissions, and the annual resettlement goal itself. It is time for the United States to stop shirking its moral responsibility. The President has the power to make Iraqi refugees a priority. Now, he needs to use it. Click here to sign the petition to the US government.

Wexler wants hearings over cheney impeachment – sign the petition here.

We Support the Troops Who Oppose the War

On the weekend of 13-15 March, 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will assemble history's largest gathering of US veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Iraqi and Afghan survivors. They will provide first hand accounts of their experiences and reveal the truth of occupation. We support Iraq Veterans Against the War and their Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation. Join us in supporting the effort to reveal truth in the way that only those who lived it can.

Please go to this website to sign the petition to support IVAW.

Quote of the day: Professor S Abdul Majeed Hassan, an Iraqi university faculty member wrote me the following: “The year of 2007 was the bloodiest among the occupation years, and no matter how successful the situation looks to Mr Bush, reality is totally different. What kind of normal life are he and the media referring to where four and a half million highly educated Iraqis are still dislocated or still being forcefully driven out of their homes for being anti-occupation?” From A bitter taste to Iraqi reality

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