Friday, November 17, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; Bully Boy's long journey to Vietnam is complete (you can refer to the various stops since Tuesday or you can take it back to his days in and out of the National Guard); Ehren Watada's father Bob wraps up his current speaking tour Friday night; Tony Blair may have lost a supporter; war resister Kyle Snyder still needs support; and the US military has all sorts of announcements and numbers including 57,000 US troops to deploy to Iraq next year.
Starting with yesterday's kidnappings -- there were two. Reuters cover this: "Passengers from up to six minibuses may have been abducted after being stopped at a fake security checkpoint in the capital, police and local residents said" from yesterday and, in addition, there was a kidnapping in southern Iraq.
England's C4 reported on the mass kidnapping in Baghdad one of the few that did.* Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) noted: "Much of the day's other violence was directed at Shiite Muslims. Gunmen erected fake checkpoints in a Sunni neighborhood and seized Shiite passengers off minibuses." Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) noted: "Six missing minibuses were mostly carrying Shiites when gunmen, some in uniform, pulled them over for bogus security checks, police sources said."
The dickering over this kidnapping among Iraqi's various members of government follows the pattern after Tuesday's mass kidnapping which Kirk Semple (New York Times) observed was being seen (by Jalal Talabani, Iraqi president) as a potential "complete collapse of the government"). Queried by Jon Snow, of England's C4, as to whether "you think there are other ministers in the government who are complicit?" in the kidnappings, Iraq's minister of Higher Eductation, Abd Dhiab, stated he did believe that and, while refusing to answer whether he personally believed the police could be trusted, he noted that "the people" do not feel they can be.
Jon Snow: You seem to be describing a situation of anarchy here?
Abd Dhiab: Anarchy clearly, nobody can deny that.
Jon Snow: But, I mean, if you feel you have to resign then in a way we're beginning to see the disengration of the government?
Abd Dhiab (in a rambling answer) agreed. Kirk Semple noted Mohammed Bashar al-Faidi (Muslim Scholars Associaton) declared on Al Jazeera TV, "I don't know how to describe it, but it represents the bankruptcy of the sectarian government following one scandal after the other." The willingness of officials go to public with their own stark observations about Iraq comes as Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, is in Turkey. Louise Roug (LA Times) reports that al-Maliki believes the matters can wait until next week to be resolved in a meeting of his cabinet.
Bully Boy believes that the answer for a 'win' is, as Simon Tisdall (Guardian of London) reports, "a last big push" that could result in increasing US troops in Iraq -- not withdrawing them. Tisdall also reveals that sources say "Bush family loyalist James Baker" and others on the supposed independent Iraq Study Group are now doing the bidding of the Pentagon and will include the following points as "victory strategy:"
1) Increase US troop levels by up to 20,000 to secure Baghdad and allow redeployments elsewhere in Iraq.
2) Focus on regional cooperation with international conference and/or direct diplomatic involvement of countries such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
3) Revive reconciliation process between Sunni, Shia and others.
4) Increased resources from Congress to fund training and equipment of Iraqi security forces.
David Jackson (USA Today) reports that Bully Boy declared in Hanoi that "he was unaware of a British newspaper report that he is considering an additional 30,000 troops in Iraq."
20,000 and, if Bully Boy's denying, chances are it's true. (Flashback to his performance of "My Guy" to Rumsfled right before the election and then, after the election, his rendention of "Hit the Road, Jack.") The AP reports that Bully Boy has compared Iraq to Vietnam yet again and offered, "We'll succeed unless we quit." Not quite as catchy as "stay the course" but certainly many of lemmings will show up, possibly in face paint, at his domestic gatherings to change "We'll succeed unless we quit." Of course, the reality is you suceed unless you lose and, more reality, the illegal war is lost.
CNN reports it's whack-a-mole time again "as 2,2000 more Marines are being deployed to Iraq's volatile Anbar province". Interviewed by Joshua Scheer (Truthdig), US Congress Rep. Dennis Kucinich noted of al-Anbar that it's "a place which was already declared 'lost' for the purposes of military occupation. Why are we sacrificing our young men and women? Why are we keeping them in an impossible situation? Why are we stoking a civil war with our continued presence? We have to take a new direction in Iraq, and that direction is out."
This as Al Jazeera reports Rabah al-Alwan of "the Union of Lawyers in al-Anbar governorate in western Iraq" is asserting that 211 families have been thrown out of their homes in Al-Anbar Province so that the US military can occupy them. Among the homes seized is al-Alwan's and he states: "Ten months ago, the US army seized my house and dozens of houses in the neighbourhood where I live. Residents were not allowed take any of their savings, jewellery, furniture or clothes. . . . They [US snipers] killed a lot of people, such as Ayad Mutar and Muhamad Ayad, for approaching their [own] houses to try to get some of their families' clothes and belongings." al-Alwan tells of promises to compensate families for their homes with money that never got handed over, of attacks on the homes now that the US military is lodged in them, and the continued occupation of the home have led former occupants to join the resistance.
Hearts and minds? Or are they supposed to take comfort in the empty words mouthed by the Bully Boy, as noted by Mark Tran (Guardian of London), "One lesson is that we tend to want there to be instant success in the world, and the task in Iraq is going to take a while."
A while? What is known is that the illegal war hits the four-year anniversary in March of 2007 -- four months from now.
What is known also includes the fact that yesterday's other kidnapping, in southern Iraq, resulted in the kidnapping of at least five people. The BBC reports that the abducted were four Americans and one Austrian. Will Weissert (AP) reports that two of the abducted turned up: an Austrian who was dead and an American "gravely wounded" -- in addition, Weissert notes that "[n]ine Asian employees" were kidnapped and that they have been released. Xinhua reports that 14 people were kidnapped and that the area was under the control of Iraqis having been turned over to them by Italy in September. Kirk Semple (New York Times) identifies the site of the kidnapping as the Nassiriya. AP places the location as Safwan. Edward Wong (New York Times) reports that searches are ongoing to find the abducted but that there are denials of any of the kidnapped being released or found.
In other reported violence . . .
Reuters notes that four police officers were shot dead outside a bank in Baghdad, that two brothers are dead from a Baghdad attack, that a civilian was shot dead in Kirkuk and "his baby daughter" injured and, in Baquba "Lieutenant Colonel Sattar Jabar, chief of police media" was shot dead. Aref Mohammed (Reuters) reports "the British military said a British private security guard was wounded in a clash with Iraqi police. The police said two policemen and another Westerner were killed" and that Zubayr was where "police said colleagues stopped an unmarked car. Western in civilian clothes inside opened fire, killing two officers and wounding two women passers-by. Police returned fire, killing one of the Westerns and wounding another." The 'Westerners' may or may not be British or American.
Reuters notes two corpses were discovered near Falluja and and two near Numaniya. CNN reports that 25 corpses ("bullet-riddled") were discovered in Baghdad today.
Also today, the US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier attached to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was killed by small arms fire Thursday during combat operations in Diyala province." The total number of US troops who have died thus far this month to 45, and to 2865 since the start of the illegal war. This as Donna Miles announces on behalf of the Defense Department that 57,000 US troops will being deploy to Iraq (8,300 to Afghanistan). The 57,000 will be part of the rotation to keep the total number of US troops on the ground in Iraq at 144,000 -- the increased number that was put in place last summer for the now-cracked-up Baghdad crackdown.
In other signs of the dissention in the puppet government, Hannah Allamn and Mohamed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) report that the Shi'ite dominated Interior Ministry "issued an arrest warrant for one of the country's most prominent Sunni Muslim clerics, charging him with violating antiterrorism laws." The BBC notes the cleric, Harith al-Dhari, is the head of the Association of Muslim Scholars and that he is currently in Jordan. Ross Colvin (Reuters) notes that the reaction to the warrant (issued while both al-Dhari and al-Maliki were out of the country) has been intense with the largest Sunni political party (The Islamic Party) calling it a "mercy bullet" that would put the dying government down. Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) notes that the Association of Muslim Scholars is requesting "Sunni politicians . . . quit Iraq's government" in response to the arrest warrant and notes that: "The move came as cracks emerged within Iraq's six-month-old unity government over the numbers of government employees taken in a mass kidnapping on Tuesday and whether some were tortured and killed." In addition to the above support, Al-Dhari also received support from Sunni clerics and, as Will Weissert (AP) reports, from one of Iraq's vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, who stated that the warrant "is destructive to the national reconcilliation plan." And CNN updates to note that the Iraqi government has backed off ("clarified") the warrant which they now maintain was never to arrest al-Dhari but merely to "check security files linked" to him.
In other news, Mike Corder (AP) reports that De Volkskrant, Dutch newspaper, has reported that "Dutch military interrogators abused dozens of Iraqi prisoners in 2003, dousing them with water to keep them awake and exposing them to high-pitched noises and strong lights" and conducted by "members of the Dutch Military Intelligence and Security Service in November 2003 in buildings of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Samawah, 230 miles southeast of Baghdad." Alexandra Hudson and Nicola Leske (Reuters) report that the report, which emerged Friday, has already resulted in announcement from the Dutch Defence Minister Henk Kamp that he knew abuses were possible but an earlier investigation had not turned up anything -- now he's "announced an independent investigation into the earlier study by military police and his own conduct in the affair." As the BBC notes, the revelations come "days before the country's parliamentary elections."
Meanwhile, in England, the Guardian of London reports that Margaret Hodge has created a stir in England. The MP Hodge is seen as an ally of Tony Blair so it came as a surprise to some when it was reported that she called the illegal war Tony Blair's "big mistake in foreign affairs" while speaking to the Islington Fabian Society where she also noted that she accepted pre-war claims because "he was our leader and I trusted him."
In peace news, Vietnam war resister Gerry Condon has posted a letter at Soldiers Say No! on Kyle Snyder. To recap, Snyder, on October 31st, turned himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again after discovering the military had lied yet again. Since then Snyder has been underground, surfacing to speaking out against the war.
Condon is requesting more calls supporting to Snyder:
Thanks to all of you who have made calls to the Commanding General at Fort Knox, Kentucky. The phones have been ringing off the walls there. Now it is time to make the phones ring at Fort Leonard Wood. Say hello to Fort Leonard Woods's brand new commander, Major General William McCoy, Jr., recently returned from the U.S. occupation of Iraq (you can read his emotional address upon assuming his new command at http://www.flw-guidon.com/).
Here are the numbers to call at Fort Leonard WoodOffice of the Commanding General (that's how they answer) 573-596-0131Public Affairs Office, tel. 573-563-4013 or 4105, fax: 573-563-4012, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We want to deliver one clear message:RELEASE KYLE SNYDER WITHOUT ANY PUNISHMENT
Kyle Snyder is a US war resister and part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes people such as Ehren Watada, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. That's just the ones who have gone public. (Over thirty US war resisters are currently in Canada attempting to be legally recognized.)
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress in January.
Bob Watada, father of Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq, is wrapping up a speaking tour he and Rosa Sakanishi (Ehren's step-mother) have been on to raise awareness on Ehren Watada. The tour winds down tonight, a full schedule can be found here, and this is the final date:
Nov 17, 7PM, Atlanta, GA, Location: The First Iconium Baptist Church, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 125, The Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition/Atlanta, Atlanta WAND, Contact: Debra Clark, 770-855-6163, email@example.com
In addition, to Atlanta, Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports this event on Sunday:
The Honolulu chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League will hold a symposium surrounding the actions of Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who is the first military officer to face a court martial for refusing to fight in Iraq. It will begin at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the University of Hawaii's architecture auditorium. The featured speaker will be Watada's father, Bob; Jon Van Dyke of the University of Hawaii Richardson School of Law and Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz.
the new york times
the washington post
gregg k. kakesako
[*Thank you to a friend at C4 for calling -- repeatedly -- to pass the C4 interview on.]