Monday, March 09, 2009

Baghdad's police academy bombing

Yesterday a bomber killed himself outside Baghdad's police academy on Palestine Street and also killed at least 30 others with at least sixty-one left injured. Anthony Shadid (Washington Post) reports:

In Sunday's attack, the assailant detonated bombs that were strapped to his body and the motorcycle in a heavily guarded part of Baghdad that is home to the Oil Ministry and other military and government offices. The entrance to the academy was fortified with blast walls, but the crowd, standing about 20 feet away under a bridge, was exposed to the traffic.
The men had gathered outside the academy in the hopes of becoming recruits. Survivors said police had left them waiting in the street for more than two hours without any instructions, and some expressed anger at their vulnerability.
A bombing Dec. 1 struck the same academy, killing 15 people.

Those are the basics. Marc Santora (New York Times) has a basic the Post, Al Jazeera, CNN, AFP, Reuters, AP and other outlets missed -- that Oil Ministry mentioned above? 100 workers were outside of it protesting because they have not been paid. Though it has nothing to do with the motives for the bombing, it is a salient detail and, were these protests at government buildings demanding payment reported more often, people would grasp just what a failure al-Maliki's government is. The paper also had one of their own near the scene allowing for additional details about the bombing:

When the bomb exploded, an Iraqi employee of The New York Times on her way to work was in a minibus that happened to be passing the Oil Ministry. The bus shook, and the driver tried to change direction. The smell of spent explosives filled the air. "Then the police began shooting randomly," she said. "There was gunfire all around."
Sirens blaring, the police began to ferry the injured to nearby hospitals in pickup trucks. "First I saw one truck with two people lying in the back, and then a second with four or five," the Times employee said. "They were just lying there. Their hands were hanging limp over the tailgate, as if they were no longer conscious."

Mike's father (Trina's husband) notes Christopher Dowd's "That 'elusive' civilian toll in Iraq and other observations" (Boston Libertarian Examiner) on the differences between how the MSM reports Iraq's death toll and how they report the (smaller) death toll in the Sudan:

When it comes to a country and region that our media has next to zero presence within they have no problem using hard numbers on how many civilians have been killed.
But when it comes to the civilian death toll in Iraq the "liberal" American media incredulously claims the numbers are, gosh darn it, just too hard to figure out and that maybe "we will never know!"

Never? Wow. Let's see, for the past six years a modern record keeping US army of over 100,000 men has been in Iraq. On top of that another 100,000 private contractors from a country with a records obsessed business atmosphere have been in Iraq. On top of that thousands of media people have been in Iraq from all over the world (granted- sitting behind blast walls acting as military stenographers rather than reporters), and on top of that Iraq had its own extensive government institutions all over the country . . . but we will "never know" just how many Iraqis have been killed in this war.
Oh . . . . Ok.
But maybe I am being a little harsh. After all Iraq and Sudan are not the same conflicts. We probably know more about the civilian deaths in Sudan because nearly 200 journalists and support staff have not been killed there. Maybe we also know more about civilian deaths in Sudan because many large humanitarian groups were there . . . unlike in Iraq which has had next to no outside humanitarian groups there since 2003 and the reason for this being . . . it was too violent.

Eddie notes "Iraq war report" (Dallas Morning News) which is their summary of Iraq events. Along with noting the death of a US soldier Saturday, they note 3 deaths of Iraqi soldiers in Mosul on Saturday -- that's one more than we noted yesterday.

The Kurdistan Regional Government issued the following on Saturday: Interview with US State Department official in Erbil

Erbil, Kurdistan - Iraq ( - conducted a brief interview with Mr Timothy Betts, Director of the Iraq Office in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the US Department of State. The transcript of the interview follows.

Q: Welcome to Kurdistan. How do you view the relations between the United States of America and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, especially within the new Obama administration. How are these relations looked upon?

Mr Betts: The new adminstration looks forward to a more mature relationship with all of Iraq, including Iraqi Kurdistan. Our intent is, and as President Obama said last Friday, that our military will drawdown and withdraw, but it does not mean that the United States is leaving Iraq, it doesn’t mean that the United States is leaving Kurdistan. Our intention is to continue to engage with all the people of Iraq even as our military leaves.

Q: The people of the Kurdistan Region consider themselves friends and allies of the United States, and that has been obvious from the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom 2003. Currently there is some worry felt by the general public of the Kurdistan Region, especially after President Obama in his speech did not refer to the Kurdistan Region. And on the other hand, the average man on the street feels that the United States is not paying attention.

Mr Betts: Well first, I think that the United States and the Kurdish people here have been friends longer than since 2003. And the new administration is committed to a very strong relationship between the United States and all parts of Iraq, including Iraqis in Kurdistan. I think my visit here indicates that Washington remains very interested in the developments in Iraqi Kurdistan and, as I have said to several officials here, that this Region can serve as an example of how the rest of Iraq can develop in those areas where the Region is ahead of the rest of the country. And our friendship will continue for a long, long time.

Q: You have stated, and President Obama has also said that the United States will pull out militarily but that it will maintain a presence and can become a good arbitrator between all the Iraqi sides, so that they can help in resolving outstanding issues, such as regarding the disputed territories between the Kurdistan Region and the Government of Iraq. What kind of role can the Americans play in solving this outstanding issue peacefully between both sides?

Mr Betts: We are not interested in our solving this problem. This is a problem for Iraqis to solve. And so the solution has to be yours. It has to come from the Iraqi people, all the Iraqi people, including the Kurds – have to agree on the proper solution. We are supporting the UN process to try to come up with impartial help for all the parties to try to find a common way forward. And to the maximum extent that we can, we will help bring people together so that they can find a common way forward. Thank you very much.

Iraq's Interior Ministry announced the following Saturday:

Spanish Foreign Minister Makes Phone Call with Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari

Mr. Miguel Moratinos, Spanish Foreign Minister made a phone call on 3-6 / 2009, with Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

The two sides discussed bilateral relations between the two countries and the expected visit of Spain's Minister to Baghdad, as well as the willingness of Spain to provide training to Iraqi police forces by the Spanish Civil Guard.

Bonnie reminds that Kat's "Kat's Korner: No Life Left On The Album" went up Sunday as did Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Feminist Barack."

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