Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, October 18, 2006.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; Wednesday begins with the news of ten more US toops dying (on Tuesday) in Iraq; step back, Tricia, Bully Boy's now the Littlest Nixon; while Bully Boy gets cover the Poodle and the Puppet stumble; and the so-called coalition of the willing continues to dwindle.
Reuters reports that Slovakia will be leaving the coalition and taking all but 11 of  their 110 troops with them and quotes Robert Fico (prime minister) stating, "Slovak soldiers can start packing their stuff because they have to be home in Feburary 2007".
Their eyes are all asking
Are you in, or are you out

And I think, oh man,
What is this about?
-- "In or Out" written by Ani DiFranco
Slovakia is out.  The Poodle?  He's trying to hang on as prime minister of England.  AFP reports that Tony Blair "admitted" that troops might be "exacerbating" the continued chaos and violence in Iraq and might act as "provocation" for other acts of violence.  It has not been an easy time for the Poodle.  As his leaked schedule pointed out, he was supposed to be glad handing and in the midst of a publicity blitz.  Instead, questions dog him.  The questions continue due to Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian of London) reporting British Brigadier Ed Butler's comments on the Afghanistan fighting in light of also declaring war in Iraq "meant British soldiers faced a much tougher task now."  This follows on the heels of last weeks criticism by British General Richard Dannatt and Colin Brown (Independent of London) reporting yesterday that England's Home Secretary, John Reid, had admitted the wars were "radicalizing young Muslims."  Reuters notes: "Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush are facing a barrage of criticism over Iraq as the death toll rises."  Well at least they have each other (who else would have them), right?  Or maybe not.
The puppet of the occupation?  Is Nouri al-Maliki taking Bully Boy's promise that the US will not set a timetable for withdrawal of US forces too seriously?  Probably so.  The BBC reports that al-Maliki "ordered the release of a senior figure in the orgainsation headed by radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr."  AFP observes the release is "another setback for US plans," notes that Sheikh Mazen al-Saedi was not only released but also "driven to a Sadrist office by the ministry of the interior."   This at the same time that nearly 3,000 Iraqi police officers have been fired for breaking the law and/or derelicition of duty and, as Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) reports, on the firing of the "two most senior police commanders from their posts" following the earlier "suspension of an entire Iraqi police brigade . . . on suspicions that some members may have permitted or even participated in death squad killings". 
As the puppet government's concept of  'justice' continues to be questioned, al-Maliki holds dear to Bully Boy's promise that he's not planning on pulling his government's support. The puppet would do well to grasp he's dealing with the Littlest Nixon and that it's election time in the US.  Or, as Jim Lobe (IPS) puts it, "If Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki were inclined to bet his life on President George W. Bush's latest assurances that there will be no timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, he should probably give it a second thought." After all,  Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times) reports the strangely time re-emergence in Iraq of CIA-puppet and former Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi, while Paul Reynolds (BBC) and Julian Borger (Guardian of London) attempt to cover the strangely leaked 'plan' coming out of the James Baker study group which boils down to (a) involve Syria and Iran or (b) redeploy US troops so they're stationed outside of Iraq but able to 'swoop in' in hit-and-run type actions.  The feasibility of either option is doubtful but, if Baker sings "I will be your father figure" loud enough, the hope is  that it will appear Bully Boy has a 'plan' or is being handed a 'plan.'  It's the Nixon playbook and why, despite Baker's many statements that nothing would be released before the election, the 'plan' has been leaked.  It's also why Baker drew attention to his study group in the first place -- certainly not the smartest thing to do if you're hoping to keep it quiet.
Violence and chaos continue in Iraq.
CBS and AP report that a roadisd bomb killed four body guards and Ali Qassim al-Tamimi ("head of intelligence for the Maysan provincial police force") as they traveled between Amarah and Basra.  AFP reports the death of three Iraqi soldiers (with three more injured) -- victims of a bombing in Kirkuk.  Reuters notes a car bombing in Iraq that left five wounded ("central Baghdad") while "[a] car bomb targeting an Iraqi army patrol in central Baghdad" left five people wounded.
AFP reports the shooting death, in Suweira, of "a guard escorting an electricity company repair team".  Reuters notes a police officer was shot dead in Baghdad.
AFP reports that three corpses were discovered in Suweira. Reuters reports that a police officer's corpse was discovered "between Kerbala and Hilla."
Meanwhile, CBS and AP report: "Local  Sunni and Shiite leaders were meeting in an attempt to resolve the fate of more than 40 people missing since their 13-car convoy was waylaid at a checkpoint on Sunday outside Balad, where almost 100 people were killed in five days of sectarian fighting.  The head of Iraq's security commission angrily accused the government of failing to resolve the crisis."
All the above as IRIN notes that Iraqi children aren't able to attend school due to the violence: " . . . only 30 percent of Iraq's 3.5 million students are currently attending classes.  This compares to approximately 75 percent of students attending classes the previous year, according to UK-based NGO Save the Children."  Also while Mariam Karouny (Reuters) reports that Ramadi has been 'staked': "Dozens of al Qaeda-linked gunmen took to the streets of Ramadi on Wednesday in a show of force to announce the city was joining an Islamic state comprising Iraq's mostlly Sunni Arab provinces, Islamists and witnesses said."  Doesn't sound like something the Jimmy Baker Study Group planned for -- quick, someone order them some juiceboxes and fruit rollups so they can get back to 'work.'  "Secession".  Someone help Condi to her feet, sounds like "civil war" just became official.
Last week, The Lancet published the study on Iraqi deaths since the start of the illegal war and arrived at the estimate that the war had cost the lives of approximately 655,000 Iraqis. Dr. Curren Warf (at Consortium News) examines the study and notes that "the media has been unable to find a scientist critical of the study, [so] they've turned to policy wonks with literally no expertise in the health scienes."  Those having questions about the study or wanting to learn more can attend The Medical Consequences of the War in Iraq: Health Challenges Beyond the Battlefield this Saturday (Oct. 21st) at the Grand Ballroom, Ackerman Union, UCLA -- registration for the conference begins at 8:30 a.m.(registration is $25) and the conference will last until 5:30 p.m. Dr. Warf will be among those attending.  Also noting the study, Robert Scheer (Truthdig) concludes:  "The point is that it is time for the Iraqis, like the Vietnamese, to make their own history.  They can hardly make a worse mess of it."
Scheer's point is dead on but maybe it's hard to recognize reality in the Green Zone?  James Hider (Times of London) provides Green Zone in a snapshot: "In the US-protected fortress, Iraq's Government huddles, riven by sectarian splits and cut off from its terrified people.  Inside their bubble ministers live in comparatively luxurious compounds, each sectarian bloc divided from the next by barricades.  They are hard to reach by telephone.  Some spend more time outside the country than in it."
Today, the Washington Post reported that ten US troops died in Iraq on Tuesday (US military announced the deaths on Wednesday).  The deaths are 'honored' by the US Defense Dept., Heather Wokusch (GNN) reports, which "quietly announced on Monday that mandatory anthrax vaccinations would resume for military personnel and civilians deploying to 28 countries across the globe and even for some based in the U.S."  Prior to the illegal war in Iraq, one of the hottest topics within the military, for many years, had been the forced anthrax vaccinations. Don't suggest Donald Rumsfeld doesn't care . . . about screwing everyone over.
Turning to peace news, Ehren Watada's father has now done two speaking tours to raise awareness of his son's case. reported on his Monday appearance noting that: "If he [Ehren Watada[ is found guilty of all charges, he could get eight years in prison."  Pam Wight (San Gabriel Tribune) reports on Bob Watada's Thursday engagement at First Friends Church and quotes Bob Watada stating: "After the Nurember trials you can't use 'I was just following orders' as an excuse anymore.  He started thinking that he would be complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity for participating in an illegal and immoral war."  More information on Ehren Watada and other war resisters can be found at Courage to Resist.
And we'll close with this from Yuri Loudon (Internationalist Magazine)'s interview with Howard Zinn, Zinn explaining the illegal war: "The government set out to present false information.  Colin Powell presented a detailed account of Hussein's WMDs, probably the most compact assembly of falsehoods that have ever been uttered in front of the United Nations.  They then bombarded the public, aided by an uncritical press, with information that led them to believe that the United States was somehow in imminent danger and that we had to go to war.  There was a barrage of information given to the public by the government, and then repeated by the press.  This is clear evidence that the government cannot depend on the public's natural instinct to go to war; they have to work very, very hard; they have to propagandize and persuade them [the public] that war is necessary."
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