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, June 21, 2008

War News for Saturday, June 21, 2008

Iraqi crackdown angers al-Sadr's supporters: Supporters of anti-American Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr have accused Iraqi security forces of heavy-handed action in a crackdown in the southern city of Amara, calling it a "clear provocation".

Iraq cleric raps 'eternal slavery': BAGHDAD: An Iraqi Shi'ite cleric yesterday denounced as "eternal slavery" a proposed security deal between Baghdad and Washington that outlines the long-term military presence of American forces in the country.

"The pact would be an eternal slavery for Iraq. It is against the constitution," said Shaikh Asad Al Nasri, a member of the movement led by radical anti-American cleric Moqtada Al Sadr.

"The government has no right to sign the pact which has been rejected by every political party," he told worshippers at prayer in the holy town of Kufa, adding that the no Iraqi would be able to agree to it."

Followers of al-Sadr protest long-term security deal plan with United States: Hundreds of followers of anti-US cleric Muqtada al-Sadr took to the streets after Friday prayers in Shiite areas to protest plans for a long-term security pact between Iraq and the United States. Iraqi officials and lawmakers have opposed the proposed security pact, which would provide a legal framework for the presence of US-led forces after a UN mandate expires later this year. The opposition claims it infringes Iraq's independence and sovereignty. (Interesting that the obligatory title for Muqtada Sadr is now "anti-US cleric", replacing "firebrand cleric", "extremist cleric", etc. Sadr is not anti-US, he is a nationalist, and therefore opposed to all foreign interference in Iraq's affairs. - S)

6 Indians detained in Iraq for 9 months: MUMBAI: At least six Indians, all working for a shipping company in Dubai, have been detained at the Omkasar port in Iraq for the last nine months. Back in India, their families have been made to run from pillar to post.

The detention is the result of a business dispute between an Iraqi company and a Dubai shipping firm.

Refugees could fuel regional instability, experts say: BAGHDAD (IRIN) -"Day after day Iraqi refugees in neighbouring countries are getting more frustrated by the harsh conditions in which they live. Sooner or later they are going to have a negative impact on the stability of the whole region," said member of parliament (MP) Abdul-Khaliq Zankana, head of parliament’s Migration and Displacement Committee.

Loophole let US contractor avoid taxes but raises questions about injury lawsuits:
WASHINGTON: When it comes to paying U.S. taxes on its workers in Iraq, KBR, the defense contractor, says it was exempt because they were foreign hands hired through subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands.

But when it comes to job-related injuries, including those at an Iraqi water plant, the contractor says those same workers are Americans who must file their grievances with the U.S. government.

Iran refutes US media for linking Iran to Iraq terrorist attacks: Iran on Thursday refuted the US media for desperate attempts to link Iran to the terrorist attacks in Iraq.

"The US has given refuge to terrorist Mujahideen Khalq Organization (MKO) on one hand and its media are misleading the public opinion by linking Iran to the terrorist bombings in Iraq, on the other," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini said. (MKO is a strange, cult-like Iranian opposition group that for decades has been allowed a base in Iraq, has long been on the State Department list of terrorist organizations. The U.S. has supported MKO since its invasion of Iraq. - S)

He said that the desperate attempts made by the US media aimed at justifying prolongation of occupation and sow discord between the Iranian and Iraqi governments and nations have failed so far.

Families of troops killed in Snatch Land Rovers to sue MoD: Families of soldiers who have died in Snatch Land Rovers in Iraq are lining up to sue the Ministry of Defence under human rights laws.

Papers in the case of one soldier, Pte Phillip Hewett, 21, will be served on the ministry within weeks and could open the floodgates to a deluge of other claims.

At least half a dozen families are already considering legal action under Article 2 of the Human Rights Act which guarantees the "right to life".

It follows a recent High Court ruling that soldiers on the battlefield are covered by human rights legislation.

The deaths of four soldiers in a lightly armoured Snatch Land Rover in Afghanistan this week brought the total number who have died in the vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan to 34, one in eight of all fatalities.

Campaigners said Cpl Sarah Bryant, 26, of the Intelligence Corps, and special forces soldiers Cpl Sean Reeve, 28, L/Cpl Richard Larkin, 39, and Paul Stout, 31, would probably still be alive if they had been travelling in a better vehicle.

The answer lies in oil: In the Iraq story, it seems, the answer lies in the oil. This week we hear via the New York Times that up to five of the big oil multinationals are set to win contracts to exploit the largest and most lucrative oilfields in Iraq – including the new discoveries lying to the west of Basra and Amara.

The companies, the heirs of the famous seven sisters of the big cartels that ran large chunks of the oil business in the last century, are Exxon, Chevron, Total, Royal Dutch Shell and BP. They will benefit from the new Iraqi oil law, which has taken years to produce, and they will be granted the licences to lift the oil on a non-compete basis.

Iran president claims US assassination plot: TEHERAN, Iran - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday accused the United States of plotting to kidnap and assassinate him during a visit to Iraq, state media reported.

Official: Iran-Iraq trade volume to reach 4bn US dollars this year: Head of Industries Commission of Joint Iran-Iraq Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines said here Friday volume of two countries' trade that was one billion US dollars in Iranian year 1385 (2006) reached $2.8 billion in 1386 and is expected to stand at 4bn by end of 1387 (March 20th, 2008).

Democrats Give White House Another Blank-Check For Iraq: A Democratic engineered emergency supplemental bill to continue funding the occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan to the tune of $162 billion is expected to win bipartisan support, aides to leaders in the House said late Wednesday.

The bill, as currently drafted, does not contain any conditions for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq nor does it restrict how President Bush can conduct military operations. The legislation ensures both wars are funded well into 2009 and comes nearly two years after Democrats won majorities in Congress and the Senate largely on promises to resist handing the Bush administration "blank-checks" for Iraq and a pledge to immediately bring U.S. troops home.

UNICEF Iraq helps the children of Sadr City regroup after intense violence: NEW YORK, USA – Forty days of recent intense violence took a toll on close to one million children in Baghdad’s Sadr City, which is home to 2.5 million Iraqis. During the months of April and May the streets of the sprawling neighbourhood turned into a battlefield – trapping children in their homes without access to water, school, or play areas.

Broken Laws, Broken Lives: Medical Evidence of Torture by the US

In PHR’s new report, Broken Laws, Broken Lives, we have for the first time medical evidence to confirm first-hand accounts of men who endured torture by US personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo Bay. These men were never charged with any crime.

Read the report

Exposed: Military Lied About Murder of U.S. Soldier in Iraq: It was said to be death by "friendly fire," which officially is fairly rare in Iraq...

Now a horrible truth has emerged: Forget friendly fire. It turns out that Spc. Block was actually murdered, and the killer, another soldier, Staff Sgt. Brandon Norris, then turned the gun on himself.

And more: Her parents were misled at the start, and only after the mother noticed a suspicious head wound at the funeral (it turns out she was shot five times) and asked why, were they informed about the murder angle.

Bella Vista man blames illness on U.S. contractor in Iraq: WASHINGTON - A Bella Vista man told congressional investigators Friday he was forced out of his job for a U.S. contractor in Iraq when he warned that workers were being poisoned by a cancer-causing agent spread throughout a work site.

Lost army job tied to doubts on U.S. contractor in Iraq: WASHINGTON: The U.S. Army official who managed the Pentagon's largest contract in Iraq says he was ousted from his job when he refused to approve paying more than $1 billion in questionable charges to KBR, the Houston-based company that has provided food, housing and other services to American troops.

Baghdad insists on right to veto US operations: Iraq is insisting on the right to veto any US military operations throughout its territory under a "status of forces" agreement currently being negotiated between Baghdad and Washington, according to a senior member of the Iraqi government.

New Estimate Triples Number of War Deaths Over Past 50 Years: A new study finds that wars killed three times more people in the past fifty years than other reports have estimated.