Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, September 20, 2006.  Violence and chaos continue in Iraq with the Associated Press estimating at least 45 have died and the United Nations estimating that July and August saw the death of 6.5 thousand Iraqis; a British prosecutor argues an admitted war criminal heard the sounds of torture and compared them to a a choir singing; Camp Democracy continues in Washington DC on Women's Peace day;
AFP reports that the United Nations, noting the increase in reported deaths since the start of July, has estimated that "[a]t least 6,599 civilians were killed across war-torn Iraq in the months of July and August". 
And the violence goes on.
AFP notes six dead and thirty-seven wounded in Samarra "when a suicide bomber carried out the bloodiest attack by ramming his car into the house of a tribal leader" and, in Baghdad, three dead from a "suicide bomber driving a truck" in an attack on "a police station near an oil refinery".  AP notes that seven were killed in the truck bombing attack on the police headquarters and that a police officer and two civilians were killed in a mortar attack in Baghdad. AP also notes that a roadside bomb claimed one life and left "two more wounded in east Baghdad".
AP reports that "a U.S. soldier was killed Wednesday by small arms fire in northeastern Baghdad" (we'll note US soldiers' death in a moment).
AP notes the "mutilated" corpse of a police officer was discovered in Kut. Reuters notes 35 corpses discovered in Baghdad "in the last 24 hours"
Iraq in microcosm.  Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) looks at the farming of dates in Iraq and speaks to Iraqi farmer Aboud Ahdim Abbas Mohammad ("whose family has grown dates here since the 18th century") and "U.S. Army Maj. Marcus Snow, a member of the State Department Provincial Reconstruction Team in Dayala, . . . stockbroker from Lancaster, PA".  Mohammad states his intent to remain in Iraq despite threats on his life and Snow can't stop raving about a desire for "better accounting, production and marketing practices . . . better packaging and transportion systems" and increasing the cost of exported dates by 10 percent. As malnutrition continues throughout Iraq (the alarming increase in malnutrition among children is only one population segment effected), the US occupation sees profit-motive and the people continue to go hungry.
Larger picture?  Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily (IPS) report on the continued destruction of Ramadi and "collective punishment of civilians in several cities across the al-Anbar province".  They report on those teaching and attending the University of al-Anbar where: "Nearly every week we face raids by the Americans or their Iraqi colleagues" (a professor) and "The infrastructure destruction is huge around the governorate building in downtown Ramadi."  They also quote Fayiq al-Dilaimy, an engineer "who was on the rebuilding committee set up after the November 2004 U.S.-led operation which destroyed approximately 75 percent of the city" who states:
"Infrastructure rebuilding is just a joke that nobody laughs at.  People of this city could rebuild their city in six months if given a real chance.  Now look at it and how sorrowful it looks under the boots of the 'liberators'."
In England, a court martial goes on against seven British soldiers.  One, Donald Payne pleaded guilty to war crimes yesterday.  The BBC reports that Payne, while copping to war crimes, "denied a further charge of perverting the course of justice."  Devika Bhat (Times of London) notes that the argument made today was that Payne "enjoyed beating his prisoners until they became a 'choir,' of pain".  The BBC quotes prosuctor Julian Bevan telling the court martial Payne was the "conducter": "The choir consisted of Cpl Payne systematically assaulting each detainee in turn by, for instance, hitting in their stomachs, kicking them and punching them wherever on their bodies, causing them to shriek out or groan in pain, their various noises constituting the music".
As noted above, a US soldier died from "small arms fire" in Baghdad. This is in addition to ones noted earlier today.  Prior to the one who died from "small arms fire," as David Rising (AP) notes, "the US military [had] announced the deaths of four other soldiers in Iraq.  On was killed Tuesday by a suicide car bombing, which also wounded two other soldiers.  Antoher two soldiers were killed Sunday -- one by small arms fire and the other by a roadside bomb in Baghdad.  A fourth soldier, assigned to a medical task force, died Monday of non-combat related injuries in the capital."  Those four, the one who died from "small arms fire" and "an American soldier was killed by a roadside blast northeast of Baghdad on Tuesday."  The current total of American fatalities since the beginning of the illegal war is 2691.  Proving that he can at least recognize an increase, Giddy in the Greenzone William B. Caldwell IV has noted the obvious --- "Attacks against U.S. troops have increased".
In peace news, Armina Ligaya (Globe & Mail) spoke with war resister Darrell Anderson who was "one of the first of about 225 U.S. soldiers to flee to Canada since 2004".  Courage to Resist has noted that Anderson is planning to return to the United States.  Anderson explains to Ligaya that there are options prior to his planned return to the US which could explain Canada granting him refugee status or approving his sponsorship claim (Anderson is married to Canadian citizen Gail Greer.)  Anderson doesn't have hopes of either happening by September 29th.
Today is Women's Peace Day and NOW and CODEPINK are joint-sponsoring events at Camp Democracy which is where the Troops Home Fast ends today on Day 78.  An estimated 5,023 people are participating today and people have grabbed one-day only, one-day each week and longterm fasts through the 78 days. In addition,  The Feminist Wire notes: "Other activities on Wednesday include a discussion on how to end violence in Iraq, an update on the violence against women in Juarez, a panel discussion by military women, and a history workshop led by Howard Zinn."
Tomorrow (Thursday Sept. 21st) is International Peace Day and Camp Democracy notes: "We will encourage Camp Democracy participants on this day to engage in activities organized by the Declaration of Peace, including a press conference at 10:30 a.m. or 11 a.m. followed by an action at the White House."
Actions will be going on around the US (Corvallis Gazette-Times notes a gathering Thursday, Sept. 21st, at the Benton County Courthouse, 120 N.W. Fourth St., Corvallis, OR) and around the world.)
A complete schedule can be found here.
In California, Martin Snapp (Contra Costa Times) reports the the Berkeley City Council "unanimously passed a resolution supporting Lt. Ehren Watada, an Army officer who is facing a court martial for refusing to go to Iraq."  George Coates (Berkeley Daily Planet) writes of Berkeley mayor Tom Bates: "Now Bates is up for re-election at a time when many high school-age students are learning that the U.S. military is monitoring their MySpace pages and targeting potential recruits.  The plight of soldiers like Lt. Erhen Watada, the first commissioned officer to go AWOL from duty in Iraq, has also triggered fears that a national draft could be reinstated if the number of volunteer enlistments continue to decline as the war threatens to widen.  Progressive Berkeley City Councilmember Dona Spring's effort to pass a resolution in support of Lt. Watada is important because if it succeeds the city will have deepened its stance against the war and candidates for mayor will have heard the message: Sanctuary for war resisters is a local issue that no serious candidate for mayor can evade."
More information on Watada can be found at Courage to Resist and
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