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, February 9, 2008

News & Views 02/09/08

Photo: Morgue workers inspect bodies brought to hospital in Baqouba, capital of Iraq's Diyala province, 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad, Iraq Saturday, Feb. 9, 2008. A joint patrol of Iraqi police and soldiers found a mass grave with 12 bodies, including three women, according to police. (AP Photo)

REPORTS – LIFE IN IRAQ

Saturday: 1 Navy SEAL, 26 Iraqis Killed; Five Iraqis Wounded

Friday: 5 US Soldiers, 31 Iraqis Killed; 17 Iraqis Wounded

20 unidentified bodies found in Iraq on Saturday

Two children die as Iraqi poison plot recalls Saddam's ...

Iraqi authorities are investigating a case of poisoning at a Baghdad sports club popular with the army in which two children have died and nine people have been taken to hospital. All were reported to have eaten cakes laced with thallium, the toxin that was often used by Saddam's secret police to kill political opponents. Security officials said it was the first known incident of deliberate thallium poisoning since the fall of the regime. Police said they had traced the two cakes to a bakery in Baghdad's Adhamiya district. This Sunni Arab stronghold was a bastion for supporters of the late dictator, and more recently a major locus of activity for Sunni extremists. "This is a disturbing incident," said Mohammed Abbas, a police official. "The use of thallium in this way appears to show that someone in Adhamiya is reviving the techniques of the mukhabarat [the Saddam-era secret police]. "What happens if al-Qaida gets the know-how? We are urgently trying to discover how much thallium is out there and who would know how to utilise it."

All together……

On Wednesday the situation was really bad, in the morning there were shooting all the time, at 4:30 pm I was combing my hair, and about to continue studying, something like an earth-quake happened, without thinking I knew it’s an explosion, I didn’t have time to run or hide, BOOOOOOOM, I felt like the blaster pushed me, I ran, and tried to avoid something but it hit me, I wasn’t sure what was it, smoke filled the rooms, I was glad to see everyone ok, I went to my room to see what has happened to it, the thing that hit me was my mug, and thank god we didn’t have many losses, I saw an orange smoke, we thought it was CL gas, so we put wet towels on our noses, grandpa and dad closed all the windows, and replaced the broken ones with cartoons ..
In the next day, my mom went to work, she said there were so many people in the hospital, and from time to time a family would go out crying loud because their wounded member died, it was a painful view..
On Thursday morning I couldn’t study well, there was a fight in the street behind our house, and I had to stay in the corridor, I was angry, and told grandma when she asked me to stay in a safe place “THE TERRORISTS ARE CHALLENGING ME, BUT I WILL STUDY NO MATTER WHAT” so I brought my books, sat on the floor, and studied , at noon, I got a phone call from my headmistress , she said Z was very badly injured, I couldn’t take it anymore, I lost my ability to tolerate, I was devastated, and I had a killing headache..

Curfew in Iraqi city Mosul as anti-Qaeda battle looms

Iraq's security forces on Saturday imposed a curfew in two districts of the northern city of Mosul, where Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has vowed a "decisive battle" against Al-Qaeda, an official said. "The curfew applies in the Palestine and Sumer districts (of southwest Mosul) and will last three days. The areas have been sealed off so they can be searched," said Brigadier General Khalid Abdul Sattar of the Nineveh province operations command.

A System in Crisis

Iraq’s medical system is all but incapable of caring for such patients. It was already beleaguered by the international sanctions imposed on the government of Saddam, but the problems have grown legion: Specialists have fled the country; necessities such as bandages, intravenous saline and electricity are in short supply; and hospitals are guarded by gunmen who intimidate and sometimes kill patients of rival sectarian backgrounds. A report last year by the Iraqi Red Crescent Society recommended leveling Yarmouk Hospital, one of Baghdad's biggest. "It's not fit for animal treatment," said Said Hakki, the group's director. "There is no medical system in Iraq to speak of. It doesn't exist." An Iraqi physician who now works in Amman with Doctors Without Borders and who asked that his name not be used because he feared for his safety said that of the 100 resident doctors in his 2004 graduating class, only five remained in Iraq after a year. "If patients are kept in a hospital there, they have a 90 percent chance of having a severe infection," he said. "There are no blood cultures. No proper swabs. Labs are basically working on the routine biochemistry tests. Microbiology is almost nonexistent there. Elective surgeries did become nonexistent. It's basically all trauma management." A surgeon in the northern city of Mosul, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said hospitals have grown accustomed to handling a high volume of trauma cases, but not complex or lengthy procedures. "Each patient gets no more than two hours maximum in surgery, because there is a long queue," he said. "We end up with complications and infections. The patients might die two weeks after their operations."

REPORTS – IRAQI MILITIAS, POLITICIANS, POWER BROKERS

A couple of days ago: Shia call on Mehdi Army to take up arms again in Iraq

And yesterday: America's Sunni allies go on strike in Iraq's Diyala province

Today: Attacks Up Sharply on Iraqis Aiding US

Attacks on Iraqi security volunteers, who are given much of the credit for reducing violence in their country, have doubled since October, the U.S. military said Thursday. The U.S. military says the rising attacks are a sign that Sunni Muslim militants feel squeezed by the grassroots security program, which has grown to encompass at least 70,000 Iraqis who stand guard at checkpoints as members of concerned local citizens, or CLCs. In return, they receive $10 a day from U.S. military funds. [So, if attacks go down, they the ‘concerned local citizens’ are successful and if attack go up, that means the militants are feeling ‘squeezed’. Heads I win, tails you lose. – dancewater]

Iraq Sunni bloc says no decision yet to rejoin govt

Iraq's main Sunni Arab bloc said on Saturday it had not yet made a final decision on rejoining the Shi'ite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Adnan al-Dulaimi, the head of the bloc, had earlier told Reuters the Accordance Front had decided to return to the cabinet. But he later denied making such remarks and said the government had to meet the Front's demands first.

Shiite organization accuses Iran, U.S. of using Iraq as battlefield

Iranian-U.S. negotiations on Iraq indicate that both sides had used Iraq as a "battlefield," Mazen Makiyah, the secretary general of the Ansar al-Dawa, or Supporters of the Call, Organization, said on Saturday. "Negotiations, if they every have to do with Iraq, should be between Iraq and Iran so as to discuss stability and cooperation as two neighboring countries concerned with setting up relations based on mutual interests and should never be between Iran and the U.S.," Makiyah said in statements to Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI). "The stability of Iraq would reflect positively on neighboring Iran at all political, economic and security levels, let alone the positive effect on the region as a whole," said Makiyah, whose organization is a splinter group from the Dawa Party of incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

REPORTS – US/UK/OTHERS IN IRAQ

US Army Shifts Focus to Nation-Building

The U.S. Army has drafted a new operations manual that elevates the mission of stabilizing war-torn nations, making it equal in importance to defeating adversaries on the battlefield. Military officials described the new document, the first new edition of the army's basic comprehensive doctrine since 2001, as a major development that draws on the hard-learned lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan, where initial military successes gave way to long, grueling struggles to establish control. [One day they will realize that foreign countries don’t want the US military controlling them. One day they will realize that ‘nation building’ is not part of national defense for the US, it is to make the world safe for multi-national corporations. – dancewater]

Turkish PM vows to battle PKK "until the end"

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan vowed on Saturday to continue to hit Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets in Iraq and criticised EU countries for not cracking down fully on PKK affiliates within the bloc. Turkey has been carrying out periodic raids on PKK positions in the mountainous region near Turkey's border with northern Iraq for months to try to crush the group, which wants a separate Kurdish homeland in southeast Turkey.

Pentagon Wants Sim Iraq to Test Propaganda

The Office of the Secretary of Defense is trying to figure out how to beat jihadists in the propaganda war. One tool they figure could help: a computer model of "Human, Social, and Cultural Behavior" in Middle Eastern locales. OSD isn't the first arm of the Pentagon looking to build its version of Sim Iraq. But this is the first one I've heard of that focuses in on the touchy subject of strategic communications. [I can’t wait for the day that they realize that killing unarmed people really pisses some people off, and inspires many of the surviving relatives and friends to turn to revenge, sometimes known as ‘resistance’ but usually called ‘al Qaeda’ by the US military. – dancewater]

Sniper unit leader tells of ordering shooting

IRAQI REFUGEES

For Broken Iraqis, A Haven of Healing

On the third floor of the Amman Palace hotel, above a city block crowded with appliance dealers and video-game vendors, six Iraqi children formed a semicircle around their therapist and practiced how to breathe. To the right of the therapist sat Abdullah, a 7-year-old boy missing his left foot and left eye. The afternoon sun slanted across his face, which once had been so erased his father failed to recognize it and now was a mottled mask of flesh grafted from his back. Two boys wore leg casts. A third had a burnt face. Three of the children sat in wheelchairs. Zaineb, an 11-year-old girl who could barely move her crippled legs, wore a black wool cap over her broken skull. …… About 50 of these wounded Iraqis have been living in the Amman Palace hotel, while half that number are in the Jordan Red Crescent hospital up the hill. Dozens more, limbless and broken, arrive in Amman each month asking to be remade. They stay an average of 53 days, sometimes more than a year, attended by a team of orthopedic, plastic and maxillofacial surgeons from the Geneva-based Doctors Without Borders organization.

How to Help Iraqi Refugees

COMMENTARY

Ended Life, Killed Laughter

Breathless, hopeless, and fatigue
That's what I am now..

I am between the devil and the deep blew see
and between them

I am wishing I am never be...

Life of a Child is more than a Forest, Border and Religion!

Today Afghan, Iraqi and Palestinian children are suffering and it seems it doesn’t matter too much to United States leaders and even their people! …. The 2003 war not only created the conditions for further health decline, but also damaged the ability of Iraqi society to reverse it”. Women, children and the elderly are the most vulnerable. Children in particular because of their not fully developed immune system. In its report of last November, the Norwegian-based Fafo Institute for Applied Social Science found that acute malnutrition among Iraqi children between the ages of six months and 5 years has increased from 4% before the invasion to 7.7% since the US invasion of Iraq. In other words, despite the 13-years sanctions, Iraqi children were living much better (by 3.7%) under the regime of Saddam Hussein than under the Occupation. Officials from the institute, which conducted the survey with the UN Development Program and Iraq’s Central office for Statistics and Information Technology, revealed that the Iraqi malnutrition rate is similar to the level in some hard-hit African countries.

'Worst of America reign over Iraq'

In a top secret assessment now circulating in Washington, prominent lawmaker Manuel Miranda lashed out at the Bush administration for assigning inept diplomats to Baghdad, claiming they fail to understand critical situations, avoid taking vital measures and lack management skills. "We have brought to Iraq the worst of America -- our bureaucrats; you are simply not up to the task. The American and Iraqi people deserve better," explained the Republican official, pointing to US Ambassador to Baghdad Ryan Crocker. "Any American graduate school study group could do better," Miranda stated, adding that Crocker has brought shame for his country. According to Miranda, Washington's flawed policies include a complete lack of coordination with other agencies and the Iraqi government, deliberately withholding information, blaming Iraqis for their shortcomings, providing bad advice on legislative matters and wasting millions in taxpayers' money.

American Psycho: An Elite Exposed in an Exit Speech

Now you might say that Mitt Romney is old news. After all, this was the very speech where he declared he was quitting the presidential race. He's toast, he's over, the fork has been stuck into his well-roasted hide; who cares what he says? This is of course the witless "horse-race" view that dominates political discourse in America: who's up, who's down, who's getting the column inches, who's on TV? But in reality, the American elite – or the Establishment, or the power structure, call it what you will (as long as you don't call it what it really is: the ruling class) – is like an iceberg: most of its vast bulk exists unseen, it plows on beneath the surface, unperturbed by the media storms that rage around the small bit of exposed material at the summit.

RESISTANCE

Berkeley to Marines: You're 'not welcome in our city'

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: And there you sit, comfortable in your ignorance, sipping on your Pepsi and choking on your Burger King while I tell you the a story of one of those statistical body counts. You are to blame. Your ignorance was a major cause of all this.” – Konfused Kid, an Iraqi blogger on Day to Day in Iraq blog

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