Attacks on British soldiers in Iraq rose dramatically in 2005 after military chiefs, under orders from Tony Blair, switched their attention to a new campaign in Afghanistan, the head of the Army has told The Times.
General Sir Richard Dannatt, who retires as Chief of the General Staff in August, indicated that the MoD became distracted after Mr Blair committed Britain to “a bigger effort” in Afghanistan in 2004. At that time southern Iraq was rela-tively quiet compared with Baghdad, where US troops were coming increasingly under attack. It was in this context that Mr Blair then decided to order military chiefs to start planning for Afghanistan.
Sources close to the former Prime Minister said that he had made the decision because of deteriorating security in Afghanistan, not because he wanted the main focus to switch from Iraq.
General Dannatt told The Times in an exclusive interview: "The importance about that decision [however] is that it was a strategic move by the United Kingdom to make a bigger effort in southern Afghanistan to relieve some of the pressure on the United States, because by the middle of 2004, in Baghdad and the north and the west of Iraq, violence was mounting considerably more than it was in the south."
The above is from Michael Evan's "General Sir Richard Dannatt says MoD took eye off Iraq as Afghan instability grew" (Times of London) and we noted it in the snapshot today but we're opening with it (after the announcement) to make sure everyone catches it. When you choose to fight illegal (and unwinnable) wars, as Barack Obama has now done, you are begging for announcements like the one Dannatt's making above. And as Barack plays his own version of whack-a-mole, determined to continue both illegal wars, he will tell the American people at some point (or more likely his political opponents will) the the Iraq War needs to continue and, woops, victory was in sight, but "We took our eye off the prize" (add "at Tora Bora" and you've got what John Kerry's been saying about Afghanistan since 2003). There is no "win." The brave thing to do would be a withdrawal (not a draw down). Barack's refused to do that, he owns both wars and he'll see-saw back and forth between the two. And that's a rather obvious point, even if it escapes the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times this morning.
And if you're not getting that, refer to Leila Fadel's "Vow to fight raises question: Is calm in Iraq just the eye of the storm?" (McClatchy Newspapers):
In America, the U.S. "surge" of additional troops to Baghdad is heralded as a success, and President Barack Obama has said he'll draw down American forces in Iraq and turn his attention to Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Iraq, however, what the U.S.-led invasion and occupation started is far from over.
Most Iraqis think that today's lower level of violence is the eye, not the end, of the storm, and that the decisive power struggles are just beginning. The U.S.-backed Iraqi government is widely regarded as an undeserving group of exiles who returned to Iraq on the backs of American tanks.
Over the weekend, fighting broke out between Sunni Muslims and Iraq's Shiite Muslim-led security forces, and it's unclear whether the security forces, still heavily backed by U.S. air and ground support, are loyal to their nation rather than their sect, tribe, town or ethnicity.
Although the Sunni insurgency that earlier had battled U.S. troops and Iraqi security forces and killed thousands of civilians is weakened, Mohammed is one of many Iraqis who still believe in what he calls the muqawima, the resistance. He always will.
Mohammed is one of the thousands of detainees who're being released from U.S. detention centers as America prepares to withdraw forces from Iraq. There are about 13,400 detainees in U.S.-run prisons, and on average 50 are released each day. Some are guilty of crimes, others are innocent, many have never been afforded due process and some have become radicalized by their time in prison.
Or as the author of the bestseller The Gamble, Thomas E. Ricks, noted at Foreign Policy yesterday:
I thought some of the surge-era deals in Iraq would unravel but I didn't think that would begin happening this quickly. It's only March 2009, and already Awakening fighters are fighting U.S. soldiers in the streets of Baghdad.
Anyone who tells you that the Iraq war is over should be forced to memorize this paragraph from the Sunday edition of the Washington Post:
As Apache helicopter gunships cruised above Baghdad's Fadhil neighborhood, former Sunni insurgents fought from rooftops and street corners against American and Iraqi forces, according to witnesses, the Iraqi military and police. At least 15 people were wounded in the gunfights, which lasted several hours. By nightfall, the street fighters had taken five Iraqi soldiers hostage.
That is Iraq 2009. Does it sound peaceful to you? Does it seem like the political questions vexing Iraq have been solved?
Fadel's article today opens with some lines of poetry and another article McClatchy's offering, "Iraqi ex-detainee's poem: 'When I see you I see Paradise'" is a translation of a poem by Sahar Issah:
Stop at the ruins and ask the wrecked corner. . . . Are my people aware of what's happening to me?
Ask the river, does it still remember me? . . . And the people, do they still hold their noses high?
Are they sleeping in comfort and in peace? . . . With an unembarrassed smile upon their lips
Tell them I am a hostage to humiliation. . . . Oh, my poetry, or have they become deaf
My partner, my passion for you is killing me. . . . In the heart there is flame from a blazing fire
How to reach those who have become so dear a quest. . . . And the longing inside me, my friend, is burning
The hand of days has torn me apart leaving. . . . A deep wound and a sick body
That's an excerpt and the poem is credited to Abu Izzuddin.
As Trina ("The economy"), Kat ("Stevie Nicks, music and TV") and Elaine ("Stevie Nicks") noted last night, Stevie Nicks releases her first ever live album today. (A DVD is also available -- and I believe it is her first made for DVD. Red Rocks and others originally filmed for home video were released on videotaped and transferred to DVD years later, but this is the first one recorded for the DVD technology.) That makes it big news but the fact that it's Stevie makes it big news period. The Soundstage Sessions is the name of the CD (or album downloadable at iTunes and Amazon) and Live In Chicago is the DVD. Below is the article Third did two weeks ago:
Ten tracks on the album proper. Amazon will offer one bonus track ("Enchanted") and iTunes will offer two bonus tracks ("Gold Dust Woman" and "Edge of Seventeen").
Stevie's released only one solo studio album this decade (Trouble in Shangri-La). She's also released a studio album with Fleetwood Mac (Say You Will). So for Nicks fans (and we are), this new live release is of huge interest.
And if it interests you, you may want to check out the single Amazon is offering as a download currently, Stevie performing her "Landslide" and Dave Matthews' "Crash Into Me." You can purchase either for ninety-nine cents or both for $1.89.
"Crash Into Me" is a five minute and thirty-three seconds live track that Stevie owns from the moment she tosses "You've got your ball, you've got your chains" up and to the back of her throat. She could have sang the entire song that way and we (and many others would have loved it) but she brings it down lower and manages to honor the original while owning her cover.
The music in her version makes clear the debt Dave Matthews owes to Tom Petty ("Free Falling"). Three minutes the backup vocals come in and that's a Stevie hallmark. It's been a hallmark of many a great singer, interplay with backup vocalists, but you clink and they're on tour and on album with nothing but their own multi-tracked vocals.
Stevie was a Mamas and Papas fan as a young girl and her love of vocals (plural) and the elements they can create in harmony and counter-point has led to some of her finest work ("Nightbird," for example). Between her lead vocals, the backing vocals, the guitar playing and some amazing drum work, "Crash Into Me" is a must-have for any Stevie fan.
This Stevie Nicks song first appears on Fleetwood Mac's 1975 self-titled album. Along with "Rhiannon" (also written and sung by Nicks) and "Say You Love Me" (written and sung by Christine McVie), it would become a big hit for the group and enter their canon. 1980's Fleetwood Mac Live and 1997's The Dance feature the song. (As do various best-ofs, anthologies and greatest hits put out by the Mac.)
She's reconfigured this song. It's nothing like the intense revitalization she gave "Rhiannon" for her three-disc, boxed set Enchanted but it's still fairly amazing. You'll enjoy the song throughout, she's doing a softer vocal on the verses and there's a wonderful backing joining her for the chorus. But it's at 2 minutes and fifty-three seconds that you especially want to start paying attention. From that moment on to the end, you'll be cursing your bad luck that you didn't see this performed live. (But you can purchase the DVD.)
Stevie Nicks is a one of a kind original. As such, she was relentlessly attacked by male rock critics at the start of her career. Why didn't she do it that way, why didn't she record something more like . . . She rocked it on her own terms and, in doing so, became one of rock's most distinctive and memorable artists. The bulk of male rock critics faves and raves from 1975 to 1979 are forgotten today -- and for good reason. Stevie's a living testament to the strength needed to be a real artist and, listening to her, you never forget it. She rocked it on her own terms and she had the last laugh. Listening to her, you never forget that either. (March 31st, you do not want to miss the live version of "Sara.")
As Elaine observed last night, "In a world that offers increasingly little and a government that promised 'change' but delivered none, I'll place my bets on Stevie." Indeed. The DVD and CD are available in stores today, both can be downloaded as well and Kat says to check out the bargain for both (plus a litograph) offered at Stevie's website. "Would you swallow your pride, could you speak a little louder, and the wind became . . ." You don't want to miss the live version of "Sara."
The Kurdistan Regional Government notes:
The Kurdistan Region in brief
About the Kurdistan Regional Government
Travelling to the Kurdistan Region
A guide to flights, hotels, communications, currency, national holidays, places of interest and specialist travel agencies.
Doing business in the Kurdistan Region
An overview of direct investment, chambers of commerce, company registration, trade missions, visas, and trade shows.
Economy and business
Natural resources: Oil & gas
Kurdistan Region Investment Law
Kurdistan Region Oil and Gas Law
Investment guide, The Kurdistan Region: Invest in the Future
Iraq's Foreign Ministry notes:
30 March, 2009
Concluding the Work of the 21st Session of League of Arab States
The Summit concluded on the evening of 30/3/2009 after leaders documented the items on the agenda of the Conference and issued a communiqué on the Doha conference after the final approval by the Arab leaders.
Prime Minister, Mr. Nuri Kamel Al-Maliki gave a speech to the Conference stressing Iraq's right to host the next summit in Baghdad, and then asked to postpone the summit from 2010 to 2011 to allow Iraq to complete the substantive and logistical preparations for the conference to ensure the success of this event.
The Conference approved the invitation of Libya to host the summit in 2010 in its (22) session in the capital Tripoli.
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