As with the siege of Fallujah six months back, U.S. claims over the siege of the Iraqi town Al Qa'im are being challenged now by independent sources. The U.S. military claims a "successful" end to the weeklong operation earlier this month around Al-Qa'im, a town about 320km west of Baghdad close to the Syrian border.
The operation was launched against what the U.S. military saw as the presence of Al-Qaeda fighters in the town. Iraqi civilians and doctors in the area say no foreign fighters were present in the town. Al Qa'im and surrounding areas have suffered great destruction, and many in the town population of 110,000 were killed, they say.
Abu Ahmed, a resident of Al-Qa'im, told IPS on telephone that "all the fighters here are Iraqis from this area."
He said continuing violations by U.S. soldiers had provoked people into confronting the occupying forces. He said troops had been raiding homes, sending women into the streets without their hijabs and entering areas where women sleep.
"The fighters are just local people who refuse to be treated like dogs," he said. "Nobody wants the Americans here." Abd al-Khaliq al-Rawi, head of communications for the local government in Al-Qa'im said on Al-Jazeera television that the fighters were all local Iraqis. "We have not seen any outsiders. The fighters are from the area. They are resisting the occupation."
The above IPS story is Dahr Jamail's "U.S. Claims Over Siege Challenged."
From an AFP report on Australia's ABC entitled "Iraqi, US forces put squeeze on Baghdad" sent in by Pru:
It is one of the largest post-war military operations in the capital to date.
Battalions generally comprise 300 to 400 troops.
The ongoing operation is focused on the Abu Ghraib neighbourhood in the
capital, from which many of the deadly attacks carried out daily on the perilous
airport road are thought to originate.
Cynthia e-mails (from the BBC) "Top Iraq trade official shot dead:"
A senior Iraqi trade ministry official has been shot dead in Baghdad, the latest in a series of assassinations of government figures, police have said.
Ali Moussa, director-general of the ministry, was killed with his driver as they drove to work on Sunday.
The gunmen have not been identified but attacks blamed on Sunni insurgents have increased since the swearing-in of the country's Shia-dominated government.
From China's Xinhua, Eddie e-mails "2 bomb attacks target US military convoys in Baghdad:"
Two car bomb attacks targeted two US military convoys in north of Baghdad on Sunday, police said.
"A suicide bomber drove an explosive-laden vehicle into a US military convoy parking at Qadesiyah police station in Tikrit, destroying a US Humvee and wounding two policemen," police Col.Ahmed Hassan told Xinhua.
From the BBC, "Attacks 'delay' Iraq rebuilding:"
More than two years since the war, Iraqis still suffer from daily power cuts, and - in some areas - from contamination of drinking water by sewage.
In 2004, a year after the fall of Saddam Hussein, some 22,000 households were questioned by the UN about their lives.
The survey found that only just over a third of households were connected to a sewage network - and that almost a quarter of young children were chronically malnourished.
The report says that while the infrastructure exists to allow access to basic supplies - like electricity and clean running water - it is not reliable.
Where are those Operation Happy Talkers? Hmm? Guess they're going to start bragging about a few schools getting ceiling fans again? (And weren't they supposed to get air conditioning? Wasn't that what US taxpayer monies were supposed to be purchasing?)
In other reality based news, from The Guardian, note Michael Howard's "US military to build four giant new bases in Iraq:"
US military commanders are planning to pull back their troops from Iraq's towns and cities and redeploy them in four giant bases in a strategy they say is a prelude to eventual withdrawal.
The plan, details of which emerged at the weekend, also foresees a transfer to Iraqi command of more than 100 bases that have been occupied by US-led multinational forces since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
However, the decision to in vest in the bases, which will require the construction of more permanent structures such as blast-proof barracks and offices, is seen by some as a sign that the US expects to keep a permanent presence in Iraq.
Politicians opposed to a long-term US presence on Iraqi soil questioned the plan.
"They appear to settling in a for the long run, and that will only give fuel for the terrorists," said a spokesman for the mainstream Sunni Iraqi Islamic party.
Trevor e-mails to request that we highlight this article by Robert Fisk from May 8th. It's an analysis, so no problem. From Robert Fisk.com, "America's shame, two years on from 'Mission Accomplished:'"
Two years after "Mission Accomplished", whatever moral stature the United States could claim at the end of its invasion of Iraq has long ago been squandered in the torture and abuse and deaths at Abu Ghraib. That the symbol of Saddam Hussein’s brutality should have been turned by his own enemies into the symbol of their own brutality is a singularly ironic epitaph for the whole Iraq adventure. We have all been contaminated by the cruelty of the interrogators and the guards and prison commanders.
But this is not only about Abu Ghraib. There are clear and proven connections now between the abuses at Abu Ghraib and the cruelty at the Americans’ Bagram prison in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. Curiously, General Janis Karpinski, the only senior US officer facing charges over Abu Ghraib, admitted to me a year earlier when I visited the prison that she had been at Guantanamo Bay, but that at Abu Ghraib she was not permitted to attend interrogations - which seems very odd.
A vast quantity of evidence has now been built up on the system which the Americans have created for mistreating and torturing prisoners. I have interviewed a Palestinian who gave me compelling evidence of anal rape with wooden poles at Bagram - by Americans, not by Afghans.
Many of the stories now coming out of Guantanamo - the sexual humiliation of Muslim prisoners, their shackling to seats in which they defecate and urinate, the use of pornography to make Muslim prisoners feel impure, the female interrogators who wear little clothing (or, in one case, pretended to smear menstrual blood on a prisoner’s face) - are increasingly proved true. Iraqis whom I have questioned at great length over many hours, speak with candour of terrifying beatings from military and civilian interrogators, not just in Abu Ghraib but in US bases elsewhere in Iraq.
At the American camp outside Fallujah, prisoners are beaten with full plastic water bottles which break, cutting the skin. At Abu Ghraib, prison dogs have been used to frighten and to bite prisoners.
(Note, there isn't an individual url for this article. Go to the site and it's currently the first article listed on the right hand sidebar.)
Lastly, for a collection of editorial reactions from around the world on the Saddam photos, see The Guardian's "Another in a long line of abuses."
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