Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Chaos and violence continue in Iraq today, Tuesday, August 8, 2006.  Bombings,  a bank robery . . . all part of what the AFP term "Bloody Day in Baghdad."  And while people continue to dicker in the United States with games of "Is it or isn't it a civil war," Mohammed A. Salih (IPS) reports on Iraqi politicians who "way that the country is in civil war already."  This as the so-called 'crackdown' (in beefed up form) appears to . . . crack apart.
Strongest dose of reality comes from Patrick Cockburn (CounterPunch): "The vast city of seven million people, almost the size of London, is breaking up into a dozen cities, each one of which is becoming a heavily armed Shia or Sunni stronghold.  Every morning brings its terrible harvest of bodies.  Many lie in the streets for hours, bloating in the 120F heat, while others are found floating in the Tigris river."
In the captial, ITV notes "three near-simulaneous bomb explosins near the Interior Ministry building."  Police officer Bilal Ali Majid tells the AP that at least 10 are dead and at least 8 wounded from the three bombs. Al Jazeera puts the toll at nine and notes "[t]wo roadside bombs exploded in the main Shurja market in central Bagdad within minutes of each other, killing 10 civilians and injuring 50".  CBS and AP place the death toll at 10 for each bombing (20 total).  AFP notes that ths market blast "set fire to several shops."
This is the AP in case anyone's confused (some early reports lumped the two attacks together): "Three bombs exploded simultaneously near the Interior Ministry buildings in central Baghdad, killing 10 people and wounding eight, police Lt. Bilal Ali Majid said. A couple of hours later, two roadside bombs ripped through the main Shurja market, also in central Baghdad, killing 10 civilians and wounding 50, police Lt. Mohammed Kheyoun said."
Reuters notes a police officer was wounded by a roadside bomb "in the eastern Zayouna district of Baghdad"; in Iskandariya, two people were wounded by a roadside bomb; and, in Tikrit, a police officer was killed by a roadside bomb (eight people wounded "including a child").

Reuters notes two civilians were shot to death in Rashad, "a police lieutenant colonel" was shot dead in Falluja (his brother was wounded), and two were shot dead in Mosul.
CNN reports that, in Muqdadiya, three people were shot dead (including a teacher) and that drive-by shootings claimed two lives in Baquba.  AP notes "two Sunni brothers . . . slain in their car repair shop in southwestern Baghdad:.
In addition to the above, the BBC notes the death of "three security guards and two bank officials" during a bank robbery in Baghdad today.  AFP notes that the robbery of the al-Rasheed Bank utilized three cars and that the interior ministry is saying it only netted "seven million dinars (less than $5,000)".  The AP states it was two cars.
CBS and AP note the discovery of nine "bullet-riddled" corpses in Kut. AFP notes that at least seven were "Iraqi border guards." Reuters notes that seven corpses were found "south of Baghdad" and that they were "wearing military uniforms".  And the AP notes two corpses found in Baghdad ("shot in the head").
In addition, the BBC reports: "Also on Tuesday, a US soldier died of wounds sustained in fighting, the US military said"; while CBS and AP report: "Two Iraqi journalists were killed in separate incidents in Baghdad, police said Tuesday. Mohammed Abbas Hamad, 28, a journalist for the Shiite-owned newspaper Al-Bayinnah Al-Jadida, was shot by gunmen at he left his home Monday in western Baghdad, police Lt. Mohammed Khayoun said. Late Monday, police found the bullet-riddled body of freelance journalist Ismail Amin Ali, 30, about a half mile from where he was abducted two weeks ago in northeast Baghdad, Lt. Ahmed Mohammed Ali said. The body showed sign of torture, he added."   The AP reminds that the two are "among more than 100 Iraqi and foreign media workers slain here since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003."
Mohammed A. Salih (IPS) notes that Nouri al-Maliki (prime minister and puppet of the occupation) no longer pushes the "reconcilation project" and that Abdullah Aliawayi (Iraqi parliamentary member) describes it as "failed." Nouri al-Maliki's criticism of the "U.S.-Iraqi attack on Mahdi Army's stronghold in Baghdad's Sadr City" continues. Jeffrey Fleishman (Los Angeles Times) writes of the attack: "Families sleeping on rooftops to escape the summer heat were startled early Monday by helicoprters and gunfire" and that the action "killed three people, destroyed three homes and sent families scurrying for cover."  (For those who wonder about the heat, a friend says it is 110 degrees in Baghdad right now).  As AFP noted yesterday: "An AFP journalist in Sadr City reported that the raid on the area, a stronghold of the firebrand cleric, was accompanied by air strikes."  Today AFP notes: "Coalition aircraft were called into action after the Iraqi army snatch squad came under fire, and at least three civilians were killed."  Coalition aircraft would most likely mean US military aircraft. Elsa McLaren (Times of London) notes Times' colleague James Hider's observation that "This security plan is basically the last chance to save the country from civil war.  It seems like he [al-Maliki] is trying to distance himself.  There is a very fine line between sending your troops out to attack militia that are linked to a government party."  Hider himself writes that "a clear rift" has opened between puppet al-Maliki "and the American military" which leads to "doubts about whether the security forces would have the political backing required to tackle powerful militias beholden to parties in the governing coalition."
In Baghdad, the trial into the murder of Abeer Qasim Hamza and three of her family members continue (as well as into the alleged rape of Abeer).  This is the case that yesterday, as Reuters notes: "A US military court heard graphic testimony about how US soldiers took turns to hold down and rape a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and murderer her and her family."  Ryan Lenz (AP) reports that the attornies for the four troops currently serving (James Barker, Paul E. Cortez, Jesse V. Spielman and Bryan L. Howard; Steven D. Green is no longer in the military) accused of rape, murder and arson are calling for "a new hearing, accusing Yrbie's counsel of deliberately asking incriminating questions.  A ruling was expected later in the day." Anthony Yribe is accused of dereliction of duty for alleged failure to report the incident, he is not accused of rape, murder or arson.  Also, CNN reports that a witness testified of "colleagues who drank whiskey and cough syrup and swallowed painkillers to cope with their jobs."  The witness, Justin Cross, was asked if Steven D. Green could have done the crimes by himself and Cross responded, "Green does nothing by himself." 
In the United States, peace activist Cindy Sheehan and others continue their protests in Crawford, TX.  Sheehan is quoted as saying of the Bully Boy, "He can shorten his vacations or not show up at all, but he's not hiding from the truth."  Camp Casey III is up and going again this summer.  Writing of Sheehan and the first Camp Casey last year, Tom Hayden noted: "Cindy Sheehan inhabits an alternative world of meaning that more Americans need to experience before this war can end. She represents the survivors' need to define a meaning in her son's death -- and her life -- that is counter to the meaning offered by President Bush. That is why she refuses any condolences, and why she continues to ask the President what was the 'noble purpose' for which Casey Sheehan died."
In an interview with Dan Bacher (Toward Freedom), Sheehan spoke of the Troops Home Fast action and noted, "We hope the fast will galvanize public attention, invigorate the peace movement, build pressure on elected officials, and get our troops back home."  Troops Home Fast continues with at least 4,549 people taking part today from around the world.
In other peace news, Edwin Tanji (The Maui News) reports that Bob Watada, father of Ehren Watada, is getting the word out on his son (first known commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq) and will appear at Maui Bookseller (Wailuku) today at four p.m. as well as on the TV program Crossroads tonight at 7:00 p.m.  Maui Democratic Party leader Lance Holter says of Ehren Watada: "I'm awe-struck by this man's bravery.  He has taken on the entire American military machine and standing up for principles of honor and justice and American patriotism.  There is no more patriotic man than this person." 
Courage to Resist and ThankYouLt.org are calling for a "National Day of Education" on August 16th, the day before Ehren Watada would be due to "face a pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq." ThankYouLt.Org notes: "On August 16, the day prior to the hearing, The Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada are calling for a 'National Day of Education' to pose the question, 'Is the war illegal?' This day can also serve to anchor a 'week of outreach' leading up to the pre-trial hearing."
In Australia, AAP reports "Soldier 14" will be the next to testify into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco in Baghdad.  In addition to Soldier 14 testifying in person, AAP reports: "The inquiry is also this week expected to hear more evidence about the bungled repatriation of Pte Kovco's body from witnesses appearing on a video link from the Middle East."  Last week, one of Kovco's former roommates testified that the repatriation was contracted out and done on the cheap, tying that into the mix up that led to the body of Bosnian capenter Juso Sinanovic being sent to Australia instead of Jake Kovco. Those remembering how the scene of Jake Kovco's death was cleaned up before the investigation into what happened began won't be surprised by Ian McPhedran (Australia's Courier-Mail) report that it's happened again -- in this instance David Nary ("father-of-five SAS Warrant Officer") died in Kuwait last November and the military board's finding include "criticism for the lack of procedures to preserve an incident site."
In election news in the United States, as Ned Lamont challenges Joe Lieberman (polls close at 8:00 pm EST) for the Senate seat currently occupied by Lieberman, commentators sees the race as a sign post.  Stephen Schlesinger (Huffington Post) draws comparison to Eugene McCarthy and LBJ in 1968 and offers that: "A Lamont triumph or near success will make (and is already making) Democrats like Senators Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden shift progressively more in favor of withdrawal from Iraq and is certainly going to alter the entire spectrum of political views over the issue of Iraq, not only for Democrats, but for Republicans, too.  In short, this is likely to be the turning point".  Arianna Huffington (Huffington Post) takes a look at Lieberman's "strategy" noting: "Anxious to move Iraq to the backburner, Lieberma dug deep into his long history in the Senate to find a reason why Connecticut voters shouldn't send him packing tomorrow.  The biggest selling point he came up with?  'I don't hate Republicans,' he said while arguing that he wasn't President Bush's 'best friend and enabler.' Talking points for the ages."

Yahoo! Messenger with Voice. Make PC-to-Phone Calls to the US (and 30+ countries) for 2¢/min or less.