At her home in central Baghdad, Niran al-Sammarai frets over the fate of her husband, kidnapped Saturday with 30 of his colleagues from a conference hall in one of the most heavily patrolled parts of Baghdad.
In Rasafah district, a police captain says he and colleagues are contemplating mass resignations in frustration over mistrust from US forces and orders from Iraqi politicians to release known criminals.
In the once fashionable Mansoor shopping district, metal grates are drawn over half of the businesses. And in Karada, one of Baghdad's safest neighborhoods, many of the businesses are shuttered too. The remaining shopkeepers complain that poor security is driving customers away.
In Baghdad and across much of the center and south of the country, the rhythms of normal life and commerce are rapidly breaking down in a sign that US and Iraqi government plans to build an effective security force are faltering. Reports of police standing aside as civilians get attacked are common, as are claims by survivors that government security forces, infiltrated by sectarian militias, took part in the killings.
The United Nations estimates 14,338 Iraqis were killed in the first six months of the year, and there are indications the rate of bloodshed is rising; more than 3,000 Iraqis were killed in June, most after the June 7 killing of Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose death US officials had hoped would diminsh violence.
The above is from Dan Murphy's "Iraq's police overwhelmed by violence" in today's Christian Science Monitor. Sondra noted it because "I think it's a good report and I also think with everything else going on in the Middle East, Iraq's getting lost. I just read this and thought, 'At least someone's covering Iraq. Doesn't seem like many are." No, it doesn't seem like many are.
Which always begs the question of what do we note? For instance, Damien Cave has an article in this morning's New York Times that has bits of interest but doesn't seem to have resulted from much leg work which is a problem when it contradicts the reporting featuring actual Iraqis on the ground. (For instance Aaron Glantz has already covered the refugee camps in Iraq this week, spoken with actual Iraqis in them. Cave?) We'll note this from Cave's "More Iraqis Fleeing Strife and Segregating by Sect:"
Khalid Abdul Wahid al-Janabi said he was one of the few Sunnis living in his Baghdad neighborhood when he was recently kidnapped and tortured by a Shiite militia. "I was dumped with 13 dead bodies," he said. "I have no enemies but during the last few months Mahdi Army militias started to assassinate so many people."
Something we will note, noted by Zach, is Julian E. Barnes' "Crackdown Yields Little Security in Baghdad" (Los Angeles Times):
More than a month after the beginning of a highly publicized security crackdown and the killing of militant leader Abu Musab Zarqawi, the number of daily attacks in Baghdad has actually increased. Iraqi and U.S. forces began stepping up patrols, creating new checkpoints and conducting more searches June 14. But the initiative, Operation Together Forward, has not reduced the number of attacks in the capital, according to statistics released by U.S. military forces Thursday.
Another mainstream outlet we'll note today is the Salt Lake Tribune which is running Andrea Lewis' "Pentagon cultivating culture of violence against women" (this is a syndicated column that's part of The Progressive's syndication efforts):
Recent allegations of sexual abuse by U.S. military personnel should make us wary of the culture of sexist violence that the Pentagon is fostering.
More than 500 U.S. servicewomen who have been or are stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan or other countries say they have been assaulted by fellow soldiers since 2003, according to the Miles Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps victims of violence associated with the military. The Defense Department says that reports of sexual assaults involving members of the armed forces rose 40 percent in 2005, and 65 percent in the last two years.
Sexual harassment of female soldiers is often blatant, and harassment and assault often go hand in hand.
One recent case involves Army Spc. Suzanne Swift. She is among the estimated 4,400 U.S. troops who have refused to continue serving in Iraq. Swift alleges that three of her superior officers sexually harassed her, and that military officials have ignored her efforts to report the incidents.
Andrea Lewis is the co-host of KPFA's The Morning Show which airs from seven to nine a.m. Pacific time on KPFA. (And will be addressing the Middle East this morning. I forget the guest. It's the professor that Ruth enjoyed a few months back. Or she's one of this morning's guests.)
And connecting the events in the Middle East to the big picture, and the big plan, is Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Neonuts" (Editor's Cut, The Nation) noted by Marci:
For them, Afghanistan and Iraq will not suffice. They want to take out Syria and Iran, and speed full steam ahead towards World Wars III and IV. The Weekly Standard asks simply, "Why wait?"
According to Newt Gingrich, there is no need to wait at all. On Meet the Press this past Sunday he offered that the Israel-Hezbollah conflict "… is, in fact, World War III" and "the U.S. ought to be helping...."
And how might the US help fight Newt's World War? The Weekly Standard provides the answer: "It would be easier to act sooner rather than later. Yes, there would be repercussions – and they would be healthy ones, showing a strong America that has rejected further appeasement."
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