Thursday, December 14, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, December 14, 2006.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, 2008 presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich talks the costs of war, the US military divides Baghdad into "ethno-sectarian" regions, mass kidnapping rocks the Iraqi capital, and John McCain wants to enlist and fight . . . Well, wants others to enlist and fight.
"Someone has to rally the American people, to let them know that the money is there right now to bring our troops home.  Democrats were put in power in November to chart a new direction in Iraq.  It's inconceivable that having been given the constitutional responsibility to guide the fortunes of America in a new direction, that Democratic leaders would respond by supporting the administration's call for up to $160 billion in new funding for the war in Iraq," so explained Dennis Kucinich to Joshua Scheer (Truthdig) his reasons for seeking the 2088 Democratic nomination for president.  Kucinich explains the $160 billion isn't just a pie-the-sky number, it represents massive spending which isn't going to allow for "a new agenda for the American people in housing, in healthcare, in education".  More information on Kucinich's campaign can be found at his site: Dennis Kucinich for President 2008.  There you can read his announcement which includes the following:
I ran for President in 2004, not just to challenge the war and Democratic Party policy, but to bring forth a message: Fear ends. Hope begins. My candidacy will call forth the courage of the American people to meet the challenge of terrorism without sacrificing our liberties and everything that is near and dear to us. My candidacy will inspire hope for a new America, where social, economic and political progress is grounded in work for peace.
Meanwhile, Carl Hulse (New York Times) reports that Democratic leadership in Congress has decided that the problem is not the funding of the war, it's when the bill statement arrives.  As Sandra Lupien noted on yesterday's The KPFA Evening News the Bully Boy is expected to ask for an additional 100 billion dollars in funds at a time when the wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) have already been funded with approximately 379 billion dollars.  Which brings us back to Kucinich's point about what loses out when war gets a blank check.
What's all that money buying?  Well meet the new catrographists -- the US military who've drawn up a new map of Baghdad. Ned Parker and Ali Hamdani (Times of London) report "that the US military has drawn up a new map of Baghdad to reflect its ethno-sectarian fault lines . . . it lists the mixed neighbourhoods considered to be most explosive."
The new map of Baghdad designates many of the established and well known landmarks, the Tigris river, Baghdad International Airport, etc.  The new map also designates areas the illegal war has made infamous such as the heavily fortified Green Zone -- an area that rightly calls to mind, in shape, a tea kettle -- buffered by Bremer walls but always in danger of boiling over at any moment -- and, of course,  to the west, there's Abu Ghraib -- Donald the Rumsfled's pride and joy.
The map declares the five most dangerous neighborhoods to be: Adhamlya, Amariya, Ghazallya, Khadamlya and Khadaslya.
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And that's the map, drawn up by the US government.
And the violence drawn up by the US government?  On Saturday's RadioNation with Laura Flanders, MADRE's Yanar Mohammed discussed how it wasn't until after the invasion that she was ever asked whether she was a Shia or Sunni and that the questions were coming not from Iraqis, but US government officials.  The civil war created and fanned by the Bully Boy led to another mass kidnapping in Baghdad.  The most infamous one this year is the November 14th kidnapping and today's echoes the earlier one in that much is still disputed.
CBS and AP cite CBS News' Pete Gow's report on the kidnapping: "Armed gunmen have abducted a group of men in broad daylight in central Baghdad.  Police sources tell CBS News that the gunmen dressed in military uniforms were members of the Interior Ministry police commandos.  The gunmen let off volleys of gunfire as a distraction and rounded up a group of 20-30 men, seemingly at random, and drove them away to an unknown location.
AFP reports that while the gunfire was going on "workers ran for cover and motorists made rapid U-turns to escape the unofficial dragnet" and that assailants (approximately 100) were using "sports utilivty vehicles of the type issued to government security forces".  AFP reports that it was 29 hostages and they were all Shi'ites who "were later released in two areas of east Baghdad"; however, a source ("Iraqi defence official") states that 49 people were kidnapped including "20 unidentified passers-by".

CBS and AP report: "a sucicide car bomber slammed into an Iraqi army check point, killing a soldier and a civilian and wounding nine other people" in Baghdad.  Reuters notes a roadside bomb near Mussayab took the life of one Iraqi soldier and left four more wounded, a roadside bomb in Mosul took the life of one civilian and left another wounded, two died from a car bomb in Mahaweel with six more wounded, and a roadside bomb wounded a British soldier in Basra.  Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) notes that Yousif Al Mosawi ("general secretary of Thar Allah party") survived an attempted attack from an IED and that three car bombs in Baghdad left fifteen dead and thirty-five wounded.

Reuters notes an attack on Adel Abdul Mahdi (one of Iraq's vice-presidents) in Baghdad that "gunmen opened fire on" and "guards returned fire" but no one was reported injured. Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports a boys' school guard shot dead in Baghdad, three people (one a police officer) were shot dead in Mosul.  And KUNA reports that yesterday Al-Hurrah's Omar Mohammad was shot and wounded. 

Reuters reports six corpses were discovered in Mosul, 15 corpses were discovered in Khallisa, the corpses of three Iraqi solders were turned over to a hospital near Mosul and two corpses were discovered in al-Lij. Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports 45 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.
As the chaos and violence continue nonstop, Iraqis register their opinions.  Al Jazeera reports on a new survey from the Iraq Centre for Research and Strategic Studies that polled 2000 Iraqis and discovered that 95 "per cent of Iraqis believe the country is worse off now than before the war in 2003"  and  almost "90 per cent described the government's implementation of its commitments and promises as very poor."  Al Jazeera pairs  the results from a joint poll by NBC and the Wall St. Journal where only "one in four Americans approves of George Bush's administration's handling of the conflict in Iraq."
The NBC and WSJ poll had a sample of 1,006 Americans and found "69 percent say they are less confident that the war will come to a successful conclusion, while just 19 percent -- a new low in the NBC-Journal poll on this question -- say they're more confident.  Moreover, 65 percent believe the U.S. is already doing everything it can to reduce violence there."  That results of that poll were announced Wednesday.  Earlier this week, CBS News revealed the results of their own poll: "50 percent say the U.S. should begin to end its involvement altogether" and Bully Boy's approval rating hit an all time low: 21%.  (The poll had 922 respondents.)  The CBS News poll results were announced Monday, on Tuesday, came the USA Today/Gallup poll (1009 respondents) which found 54% of respondents stating Bully Boy "will be judged as a below-average or poor president, more than double the negative rating given any of his five most recent predecessors" 
This as US Senator John McCain launches his own effort to challenge the Bully Boy as American's choice for most useless politician.  AP reports that John McCain, with Joey Lieberman at his side, played the tough boy in the heavily fortified Green Zone while calling for the US to deploy 15,000 to 30,000 more troops to Iraq.  You're over there right now and trained, so pick up a gun, Big John.
In peace news, Canada's New Democratic Party has released their statement "Canadians call for sanctuary for U.S. war resisters" in support of war resisters and the petition collected by War Resisters Support Campaign which works to help US war resisters in Canada with legal advice and other assistance.  In the United States, The Athens News (Ohio) reports that "[f]orty Athens County residents signed a group letter to the Secretary of the Army," Francis Harvey, calling for the "discharge for soldiers who have served honorably in Iraq but refuse to redeploy because their experience there convinces them the Iraq war is immoral and against international law."
Such a discharge would cover war resisters like Kyle Snyder but it wouldn't cover others such as Ehren Watada.  They are a part of public  war resistance within the military and the movement also includes Darrell Anderson, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, 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.
Information on this movement of 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 next month.

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