Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Chaos and violence continue in Iraq

The American military announced Monday the deaths of nine American service members in attacks on Sunday. In Baghdad, a car bomb killed at least 13 people on Monday and wounded dozens at a checkpoint just outside the Interior Ministry headquarters.
Over all, more than 100 Iraqis were killed Sunday and Monday.
With sectarian violence soaring, American generals and the American ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, say that militias are now the single greatest threat to the stability of Iraq and that the Iraqi government must disband them.

The above is from Damien Cave and Edward Wong's "Radical Militia and Iraqi Army in Fierce Battle" in this morning's New York Times. Martha notes Sudarsan Raghavan "Iraqi Troops Battle Shiite Militiamen In Southern City" (Washington Post):

With American combat aircraft providing cover, U.S.-backed Iraqi troops battled radical Shiite militiamen Monday in the southern city of Diwaniyah in one of the first major clashes between the two forces. At least 20 Iraqi soldiers and eight civilians were killed, a U.S. military official said, citing initial reports. Seventy people were injured.
Also, a suicide bombing in Baghdad killed 15 and injured 35, capping one of the bloodiest 24 hours in Iraq in recent weeks.

"American combat aircraft providing cover"? Dropping back to December of last year, Norman Solomon's "Hidden in Plane Sight" (CounterPunch):

The U.S. government is waging an air war in Iraq. "In recent months, the tempo of American bombing seems to have increased," Seymour Hersh reported in the Dec. 5 edition of The New Yorker. "Most of the targets appear to be in the hostile, predominantly Sunni provinces that surround Baghdad and along the Syrian border."
Hersh added: "As yet, neither Congress nor the public has engaged in a significant discussion or debate about the air war."
Here's a big reason why: Major U.S. news outlets are dodging the extent of the Pentagon's bombardment from the air, an avoidance all the more egregious because any drawdown of U.S. troop levels in Iraq is very likely to be accompanied by a step-up of the air war.
So, according to the LexisNexis media database, how often has the phrase "air war" appeared in The New York Times this year with reference to the current U.S. military effort in Iraq?
As of early December, the answer is: Zero.
And how often has the phrase "air war" appeared in The Washington Post in 2005?
The answer: Zero.
And how often has "air war" been printed in Time, the nation's largest-circulation news magazine, this year?
This extreme media avoidance needs to change. Now. Especially because all the recent talk in Washington about withdrawing some U.S. troops from Iraq is setting the stage for the American military to do more of its killing in that country from the air.

Despite the air war, despite the 'pull back,' nine US soldiers died on Saturday and Sunday (military upped the count to nine since the Reuters quote in yesterday's snapshot). From the AP:

A soldier assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Sunday after being wounded in fighting in Anbar, the U.S. command said in a statement. Anbar province is a Sunni Arab insurgent stronghold that has seen some of the worst fighting since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
The military earlier reported that eight other soldiers also died Sunday in and around Baghdad, making it one of the deadliest days for the military in recent months.
A Nebraska National Guardsman with the 1st Squadron, 167th Cavalry at Camp Anaconda, 50 miles north of Baghdad, died Monday of injuries he suffered in a Humvee accident on Aug. 21, a separate statement said.

53 for the month and 2630 since the illegal invasion (US military fatalities in Iraq) and who knows, after the September 1st "It wasn't that bad" news coverage, if the military will do their usual sneak out two or three (or more) deaths for August after the papers have filed their first of the month body count stories?

And as if things couldn't get worse in Iraq, AP headline: "U.S. attorney general arrives in Baghdad." Alberto Gonzales in the Green Zone? Hasn't Iraq suffered enough?

And on the Green Zone, Kat noted this yesterday, from Paul McGeough's "Bush 'Palace' Shielded from Iraqi Storm" (Australia's The Age via Common Dreams):

The plans are a state secret, so just where the Starbucks and Krispy Kreme stores will be is a mystery. But as the concrete hulks of a huge 21-building complex rise from the ashes of Saddam's Baghdad, Washington is sending a clear message to Iraqis: "We're here to stay."
It's being built in the Middle East, but George W's palace, as the locals have dubbed the new US embassy, is designed as a suburb of Washington.
An army of more than 3500 diplomatic and support staff will have their own sports centre, beauty parlour and swimming pool. Each of the six residential blocks will contain more than 600 apartments.
The prime 25-hectare site was a steal -- it was a gift from the Iraqi Government. And if the five-metre-thick perimeter walls don't keep the locals at bay, then the built-in surface-to-air missile station should.
Guarded by a dozen gangly cranes, the site in the heart of the Green Zone is floodlit by night and is so removed from Iraqi reality that its entire construction force is foreign.
After almost four years, the Americans still can't turn on the lights for the Iraqis, but that won't be a problem for the embassy staffers. The same with the toilets -- they will always flush on command. All services for the biggest embassy in the world will operate independently from the rattletrap utilities of the Iraqi capital.
Scheduled for completion next June, this is the only US reconstruction project in Iraq that is on track. Costing more than $US600 million ($A787 million), the fortress is bigger than the Vatican. It dwarfs the edifices of Saddam's wildest dreams and irritates the hell out of ordinary Iraqis.

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