Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"I have seen a dog carrying human flesh, a shoulder, as another dog was eating part of a human leg covered with blood"

Yesterday on the outskirts of Baghdad, Abu Ghraib saw a suicide bombing which claimed the lives of at least 33 people plus the bomber. The bomber's presumed to have been male and if your news outlet of choice forgets to include that detail, you can tell the press is operating under that belief because they don't beat their chests and wonder why someone becomes a bomber? That only happens when it's a woman. As Debra Winger asks in Black Widow, "Which part do you figure a woman isn't up to, the seduction or the murder?"

In "Blast Kills Dozens in Iraqi Market" (Washington Post), Anthony Shadid reports:

The assailant, dressed in a camouflage police uniform, struck at noon, rushing the armored car of police Maj. Gen. Maarid Abdel-Hassan, who had been touring the market with tribal leaders before the meeting. Abdel-Hassan was unhurt, but he said a colleague lost a leg in the blast. The bomber's body was smeared on the car's glass, as the general sped away amid bursts of gunfire.
"It was an ambush," Abdel-Hassan said by telephone.
The bombing unleashed chaos in the ramshackle vegetable market that lines the street near the municipal buildings of Abu Ghraib, on Baghdad's western outskirts. Metal pellets sliced indiscriminately through men, women and children shopping before lunch, and the force of the blast hurtled body parts into streets strewn with trash and roamed by packs of feral dogs. In vain, policemen chased one of the animals as it ran with the severed leg of a victim clamped in its jaw.

We'll follow that up with what an eye witness told Matthew Schofield (McClatchy Newspapers):

"I have seen a dog carrying human flesh, a shoulder, as another dog was eating part of a human leg covered with blood. Iraqi soldiers chased the dogs, trying to take these parts from them. I saw a human jaw thrown on the ground, and Iraqi soldiers refusing to allow to any one to pick it up. They said it belonged to the suicide bomber."

Waleed Ibrahim and Aseel Kami (Reuters) explain the Iraqi government is insisting the death toll was 28 but "other official sources" say it was 33 with fifty-two more injured. Alissa J. Rubin and Marc Santora (New York Times) offer this perspective:

In the second major suicide bombing in three days, the attack on Tuesday, in which 46 people were wounded, took aim at a group of Iraqi Army officers on their way to a high-profile reconciliation conference on the western outskirts of the capital.
Wild shooting followed the explosion as emergency medical workers dragged limp bodies to ambulances and sheep stumbled through the blood-streaked wreckage to escape the bullets. An investigation is under way to determine whether the shooting after the bombing was an ambush by gunmen or undisciplined gunfire by Iraqi security forces, said Maj. Gen. Qassim Atta, spokesman for the Baghdad security plan.
At least 7 of the 33 people killed were Iraqi Army officers.
Witnesses described a scene of confusion and carnage that was also captured on television by a cameraman for the state channel Iraqiya who was wounded in the attack along with a correspondent for the state channel. A correspondent and cameraman for another channel, Baghdadiya, were killed in the blast.

Of US outlets, Rubin and Santora do the best job of explaining which groups may or may not be responsible. But it's an unknown at this point, so we'll skip that. The paragraph preceding the excerpt above does a fine job explaining how elections don't always bring about tranquility. Kim Gamel (AP) notes the two journalists killed:

Baghdadiya TV, a Cairo-based independent station, said cameraman Haidar Hashim Suhail, 27, and correspondent Souhaib Adnan, 30, were killed in the blast. Four staffers for Iraqi state television also were injured, including reporter Ibrahim al-Katib, who was reported in critical condition.

And Gamel reports Mouyyad al-Lami, Iraqi Journalists Union, is asking for increased protection of journalists and their families. Jamal Hashim and Gao Shan (Xinhau) explain the gathering was part of an ongoing move:

A series of reconciliation meetings of Sunni and Shiite tribal leaders were held in recent days in Baghdad.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki renewed Saturday his call on all Iraqis to reconcile and unite after years of differences in the latest effort to promote reconciliation among different blocs and sects.
The remarks came a day after a similar call for reconciliation and forgiveness with Saddam Hussein's former Baath party members.

"Well, I mean, obviously there are -- there continue to be, throughout Iraq, security challenges," insisted White House flack Robert Gibbs in yesterday's press briefing. "I think as the President enumerated in the speech that he gave at Camp Lejeune that our government and certainly our military remain strongly committed to ensuring peace and security in Iraq; continued training to give the Iraqis the opportunity and the responsibility for their own security; and that the President will continue to evaluate our policy in Iraq." You know the White House knew it was embarrassing which is why they refused to post it last night. (As of midnight EST it was still not posted. The transcript is finally up this morning.) He danced some more and would have the nation howling were they paying attention, but they aren't. As Mike pointed out last night, the same White House that denies any connection (and there may or may not be one) with yesterday's bad news would be rushing to insist a good connection had the news been good. Their spinners, not truth tellers.

Now might be a good time to note Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal's Baghdad Life) report Sunday:

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said although Iraqi security forces are not currently ready to handle all of their responsibilities, they should be ready by the time America completely withdraws from Iraq at the end of 2011.
He added that America's shifting focus to other hot spots like Afghanistan and Pakistan showed that Iraq is a normalizing country that is able to stand on its own. "The fact that Iraq is not in the spot light anymore is a good thing," Mr. Dabbagh said.

Nancy A. Youssef and Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) report:

In Baghdad and Washington, military commanders and politicians are quietly fretting that the attacks are in response the administration's plan to move out of Iraq.
"There was always an underlying feeling that once we start the drawdown the attacks would increase. But the fear is that these spikes will turn into an upward trend," a senior military officer who closely monitors Iraq, and asked not to be named because of the issue's sensitivity, told McClatchy on Tuesday. "Right now, we are taking a wait and see approach."
The U.S. military said it couldn't increase forces in Afghanistan without reducing troops in Iraq.
In Baghdad, after a second mass-casualty suicide attack in three days, Iraqi security officials Tuesday started questioning whether, after recent months of relative calm, their nation had gotten complacent.

Meanwhile US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told NPR's Robert Siegel (All Things Considered) that the US will be out of Iraq in 2011 . . . "unless something changes, that is exactly what will happen. …[A change] would have to be at the Iraqis' initiative. And the president will have to determine whether or not he wants to do that." Gates continues stating that. He even made those comments on the day of Barack's Little Big Horn at Camp Lejeune. People should be paying attention. We'll also note Gates' comments re: Afghanistan, "I would say that, at a minimum, the mission is to prevent the Taliban from retaking power against a democratically elected government in Afghanistan and thus turning Afghanistan, potentially, again, into a haven for al-Qaida and other extremist groups."

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the washington post
anthony shadid
the new york times
alissa j. rubin
marc santora
matthew schofield