A police officer and a woman and young child died today in Samarra. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports:
Sixty suspected al-Qaida in Iraq fighters hit national police facilities in a coordinated attack in Samarra, sparking two hours of fighting that saw three people killed and more than a dozen insurgents captured, police said Friday.
The masked attackers drove into the city at dusk Thursday in about 20 vehicles, including pickups with machine-guns, then split into small groups and assaulted four police checkpoints and a headquarters building, a Samarra police official said.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that 3 "secularist ministers . . . will formally quit" the cabinet of Nour al-Maliki today and that three are from Iyad Allawi's party. As Democracy Now! noted yesterday, Allawyi is working with "Republican lobbying firm Barbour, Griffith, and Rogers" in an effort to become the new prime minister of Iraq (Allawi was previously interim prime minister). Allawi was (and maybe possibly still be) a CIA asset. Jim Lobe (writing at Foreign Policy in Focus on December 18, 2003, noted by Lynda) summarized the then current situation in Iraq:
While the neo-cons continue to try to bolster their favorites on the Iraqi Governing Council, primarily Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), the "realists" are more inclined to work with others on the Council, notably Ayad Alawi, leader of the Iraqi National Accord (INA), long a CIA favorite.
During the 1990s, the two groups, both of which boasted high-ranking secret contacts within the Iraqi army and intelligence services, competed for influence in Washington, but, with the empowerment of the neo-conservatives after 9/11 and Bush's decision to give the Pentagon the lead in the war on terrorism, the INC became clearly dominant. The two groups fundamentally distrust and detest each other. The INC has always contended that the INA was heavily infiltrated by Iraq's intelligence services and that, in any case, many of its operatives were Ba'athists whose democratic credentials were questionable at best. The INA, on the other hand, that the INC was essentially a vehicle for Chalabi's personal ambitions as opposed to a movement that could mobilize significant sectors of the population.
Their major differences at the moment are over the CPA's "Iraqification" plans. Chalabi, who helped persuade the Pentagon neo-cons to summarily disband the army after the war, has long called for a thorough de-Ba'athification of Iraq, particularly in the military and police. INA, on the other hand, has long argued that purges should be kept to a minimum in order to ensure the cooperation and loyalty of competent officials and military officers in post-war Iraq.
In the run-up to the next June's scheduled transfer of sovereignty from the CPA to a provisional government, both parties are now pursuing their separate but largely contradictory agendas. While the Pentagon leadership continues to support Chalabi's efforts to launch a wide-ranging de-Ba'athification by, for example, blacklisting companies close to Saddam Hussein for new contracts or sponsoring laws that would enable tribunals to prosecute even mid-ranking Ba'athist officials, Alawi's INA is working with the CIA and U.S. military authorities in Baghdad to recruit former Ba'athist intelligence officials into a new service that is being deployed against the insurgents. INA has also lobbied hard for accelerating "Iraqification" of the army and security forces.
All of these incoherencies reflect the lack of an underlying strategy behind which the key factional interests back in Washington are united, a unity that has long eluded the Bush administration. And while Bush has clearly been tilting away from the hawks in favor of the realists over the past two months, incoherence is likely to persist so long as both forces retain the ability to undermine each other.
When Allawi was briefly in power after the US began the illegal war he was reported to have killed prisoners. From Paul McGeough's "Allawi Shot Inmates in Cold Blood, Say Witnesses" (Sydney Morning Herald via Common Dreams, July 2004):
Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings.
They say the prisoners - handcuffed and blindfolded - were lined up against a wall in a courtyard adjacent to the maximum-security cell block in which they were held at the Al-Amariyah security center, in the city's south-western suburbs.
They say Dr Allawi told onlookers the victims had each killed as many as 50 Iraqis and they "deserved worse than death".
In this morning's New York Times, James Glanz and Stephen Farrell report that the Bully Boy's escalation has led to an escalation in the amount of Iraqi refugees. Citing figures by the Iraqi Red Crescent, the reporters declare "the total number of internally displaced Iraqis has more than doubled, to 1.1 million from 499,000, since the buildup [of troops -- the escalation] started in February." Citing no known figures, the reporters contrast this was the alleged "evidence that the troop buildup has improved security in certain areas". This was the talking point put out by the US military but they refused to release any figures for the claim.
And Lloyd notes Josh White's "U.S. Falters In Bid to Boost Iraqi Business" (Washington Post):
More than a year after the Pentagon launched an ambitious effort to reopen Iraqi factories and persuade U.S. firms to purchase their goods, defense officials acknowledge that the initiative has largely failed because American retailers have shown little interest in buying products made in Iraq.
The Pentagon thought U.S. firms would be willing to help revitalize the war-torn Iraqi economy and create jobs for young men who might otherwise join the insurgency. But the effort -- once considered a pillar of the U.S. strategy in Iraq, alongside security operations and political reform -- has suffered from a pervasive lack of security and an absence of reliable electricity and other basic services.
Reminder: On this week's NOW with David Brancaccio (PBS, beings airing in most markets tonight):
Choosing to go to war is both a government's decision and one made by individual enlistees. But changing your mind once you're in the army is a risky decision with serious consequences. On Friday, August 24 (checkyour local listings), we talk to two soldiers who went AWOL and eventually left the Army, but who took very different paths. NOW captures the moment when one man turns himself in, and when another applies for refugee status in Canada, becoming one of the 20,000 soldiers who have deserted the army since the War in Iraq began. Each describes what drove him to follow his conscience over his call to duty, and what penalties and criticism were endured as a result. "I see things differently having lived through the experience," former army medic Agustin Aguayo tells NOW. "When I returned from Iraq, after much reflection I knew deep within me I could never go back."The NOW website at www.pbs.org/now will offer more insight into the case made by conscientious objectors, as well as more stories of desertion in the ranks.
In addition a preview of the show is posted at YouTube.
Already this morning, Reuters notes 26 Iraqis killed or found dead today.
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