Fighters have killed at least 35 people in a series of attacks throughout Iraq, while clashes between police and protesters in a poor southern Shia town added to the day's death toll, security officials say.
Seven Iraqi soldiers were killed and 17 wounded when a bomber blew up a truck at the entrance to an Iraqi army headquarters in central Tikrit, 180km north of Baghdad, an Iraqi army officer said.
Three other Iraqi soldiers were killed when armed men attacked their patrol in southern Baghdad, while two other people working in the oil ministry were shot dead in southeast Baghdad.
Lonnie e-mails to note the above, Aljazeera's "Iraq sees violence across the country." It's Sunday evening, we're doing the entries where we check in on what's being reported outside the mainstream domestic (US) media. This entry focuses on Iraq.
Terrence e-mails to note "Iraq’s Anbar Province Becomes al Qaeda’s Springboard against Middle East and Europe" (Israel's Debka-Net-Weekly via Watching America):
Thirty-eight US troops have died in Iraq in ten days.
Wednesday, August 3 was the worst. A Marine amphibious assault vehicle struck a roadside bomb outside Haditha, killing 14 members of Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) and an interpreter. One Marine was injured. Two days earlier, 7 members of the same unit were killed in the same part of the Euphrates Valley, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad. The attack was claimed by the al Qaeda-linked Ansar al Sunna.
Molly e-mails to note "Bush rejects early Iraq pullout" (BBC):
President George W Bush has said US troops will stay in Iraq to complete their mission, following the death of 14 US marines and their interpreter.
The roadside bombing in which they were killed was one of the deadliest attacks on US forces since the 2003 invasion.
It happened near the north-western city of Haditha, in the same area where seven marines were killed on Monday.
Washington is worried such strikes could affect the public mood in the US, the BBC's Adam Brookes says.
Brandon e-mails to note Trevor Royle's "Stakes are high in new ‘great game’ being played by West in Iraq and Afghanistan: The loss of more American soldiers may mark the beginning of the end for the occupation of Iraq" (Scotland's Sunday Herald):
Forty years ago, when the US was mired in an increasingly unpopular war in Vietnam, the mantra for ending the impasse was "declare victory and get out". Those words came back to haunt the country last week when it lost 14 marines in a single ambush in western Iraq, wiping out a whole platoon in one of the worst incidents of the insurgency war.
At a time when General George Casey, commanding US forces in Iraq, had promised to make "some fairly substantial reductions" in troop levels, it seemed that the time might have come to get out of an all-too-familiar quagmire.
According to a leaked Pentagon document, the US intends to reduce its garrison to 80,000 by the middle of 2006 and down to half that number by the end of the year.
Coming on top of British defence documents, which argue that coalition forces can be reduced from 176,000 to 66,000 during the same period, the figures are not only remarkably similar but they send out a powerful message that the end of the Iraqi occupation could soon be in sight.
For military planners and politicians alike this is a welcome development. Senior commanders in London and Washington are well aware of the "Iraq factor" which is harming army recruitment and retention, and both the Blair and Bush administrations recognise the dangers of being saddled with an unpopular war that produces heavy casualties.
Although recent research by think-tanks such as the influential Brookings Institute can find no increase in US public disquiet about the operations in Iraq, wars of this kind can produce a tipping point when people begin to question the sacrifice and start asking awkward questions.
However, any draw-down in Iraq will not solve the problem of sending young men and women into combat zones. There is still Afghanistan, where elections are to be held later this year and where the security situation is still far from settled.
Olive e-mails to note "Former POW Lynch used as Iraq war 'symbol'" (Australia's ABC):
Former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch, whose capture and rescue in the early days of the Iraq war turned her into a US icon, says the United States Government used her as an upbeat symbol in the conflict.
"I think I provided a way to boost everybody's confidence about the war," Lynch said in an interview with Time magazine.
"I was used as a symbol. They could show the war was going great because 'we rescued this person'. It doesn't bother me anymore. It used to."
Olive also notes "Listen to Cosgrove on Iraq exit: Beazley" (Australia's ABC):
Federal Opposition Leader Kim Beazley is urging the Government to take the advice of former defence force chief Peter Cosgrove and pull troops out of Iraq.
Retired General Cosgrove says foreign troops, including 1,400 Australians, should ideally leave Iraq by the end of next year.
The recently retired head of the Australian Defence Force says that once Iraqi forces are adequate, pulling coalition troops out should help stop terrorism in the country.
Zach e-mails to note "Constitution talks held in Iraq" (BBC):
Iraq's leading political figures have met to try to resolve disagreements over the country's draft constitution.
The talks were held at the Baghdad home of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who said the goal was to reach a consensus.
Leaders have agreed to meet daily, bringing in community representatives, until they reach a consensus on the draft by the 15 August deadline.
Meanwhile, at least 30 people have been killed in a series of attacks by suspected insurgents in Iraq.
Gareth e-mails to note Rupert Cornwell's "UK soldier hurt as rebels blast convoy" (the UK's The Independent):
A British soldier was fighting for his life last night after his patrol was hit by a roadside bomb near Basra.
The soldier, who underwent emergency surgery, was in one of two armoured Land Rovers caught by the blast on the northern outskirts of Iraq's second-largest city. The vehicle was destroyed.
Yesterday's attack was the third in three weeks in southern Iraq, which has previously been comparatively calm. Three soldiers and two security guards have been killed.
Gareth also notes Torcuil Crichton's "'His resignation over the Iraq war elevated him to the ranks of those for whom statues are cast': ROBIN COOK: A TRIBUTE: Obituary" (Scotland's Sunday Herald):
When Robin Cook, who has died on a Scottish mountainside aged 59, joked that he was never good looking enough to be Labour leader an acerbic but anonymous shadow Cabinet colleague was forced to agree that "plastic surgery hasn't advanced that far".
Cook was sensitive about his appearance. Short of stature, bearded like a squirrel with a bad shave, it was said that he had the looks of Lenin and the voice of Ms Jean Brodie. But that was not the only disadvantage he had to overcome to become one of the most respected and admired politicians of the modern age.
His self-regarding arrogance, and somewhat unfathomable feud with the chancellor, Gordon Brown, and his lack of close parliamentary allies also meant that he made progress to the top ranks of British politics against a strong current.
It was his grindstone-sharp wit, his incredible intellect and his towering oratory that distinguished him from the herd of suits, not his individualist looks. His principled resignation as Leader of the House of Commons on the eve of the Iraq war elevated him to the ranks of those for whom statues are cast and earned him a reputation as the greatest parliamentarian of his generation -- a consensus that nobody across the political spectrum departed from on the news of his death.
Rita e-mails to note "Photographs From Iraq: July 15 - 29, 2005" from Infoshop News. Rita says she believes this is a US blog but wanted it included (no problem) in the round up because it has "some very powerful photos."
Pru e-mails to note "Stop the War Coalition plans new national demo" (the UK's Socialist Worker):
Lindsey German, convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, spoke to Socialist Worker at a demonstration in Parliament Square on Monday of this week. Protests there have been restricted by new laws.
It is right that our movement should stay on the streets. We will be holding another national demonstration on 24 September.
We have already had a great response to our announcement. We want to hold a mass demonstration to oppose attacks on civil liberties and to call for the troops out of Iraq.
We expect to march past Parliament Square and past Downing Street. We do not expect the government to refuse us the right to do this -- and there will be huge protests if they do.
Local Stop the War groups across the country will be meeting in the coming month to plan for this mobilisation.
Being here in Parliament Square today is about saying that the politicians have no right to restrict our protests.
They have restricted our rights in two ways. Firstly they have refused to allow megaphones, which obviously restricts your ability to be heard.
Secondly they want to force protesters to obtain permission, to fill out a form, in order to demonstrate here. And we can get arrested if we don’t do that.
We see no reason for our rights to be curtailed in this way -- it is simply a means to prevent people from demonstrating.
The police have arrested people here today, which is a disgrace. There was absolutely no need for them to do this.
These needless arrests of five protesters simply strengthens our case that this law should be repealed.
I’m amazed that our elected representatives don’t have better things to do than debate draconian measures against peaceful protesters.
After all, there's a war in Iraq, racism and global warming -- surely these are the questions our MPs should be dealing with, rather than a few hundred people with a megaphone.
We will be back here again on the day that parliament reassembles after the long summer break. We are determined to continue to protest over this issue.
For Stop the War Coalition events and information go to http://www.stopwar.org.uk/
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