Sunday, April 12, 2009

And the war drags on . . .

In today's New York Times, Alissa J. Rubin offers "Arrests of a Council's Members Deepens the Bitterness of Sunnis in Iraq" about the "Awakening" Councils, Sahwa or "Sons of Iraq." Using the 13 killed yesterday (the death toll rose to 13) in the suicide bombing attack in Iskandariyah
as the starting point, Rubin explores the continued attacks on the Sahwa and the tensions in the Sunni community as a result. Rubin observes that for all the speculation over the very visible attacks (including arrests), the tensions were always there between the Sahwa movement (Sunni) and the US installed government in Baghdad which is dominated by Shi'ites (and by Iraqis who willingly went into exile and only returned to Iraq after the US invaded). Rubin notes the 27-day imprisonment of Sheik Maher Sarhan Abbas who was arrested "in secret and came to light when The New York Times by chance contacted someone who had seen him in jail." While the US continues to see Abbas as someone to be trusted and while his "Shiite neighbors trusted him" as well, Nouri's foces burst into his home on March 15th, "just after midnight, heavily armed men flung deafening smoke grenades into his home in Hawr Jab, a small village on Baghdad’s southern outskirts, his family said. They burst into the bedroom where Sheik Maher and his wife were watching television as their 3-year-old daughter slept in a small bed next to them." Along with Nouri's goons, US forces were present and it's suspceted that they "were probably from a Special Operations unit". The latest hypothesis among "Awakenings" is that their Sunni enemies are telling lies to the Shi'ite government which, loathing the "Awakenings," uses any excuse to arrest them. Rubin includes this:

A senior American official in Iraq was also skeptical of the motives for the arrests. "Why is the government doing this?" said the official, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the news media.
"Every time we said to the government, 'You have to let this guy go,' they do it, which they wouldn't if they thought he was really dangerous," the American said. "I think they have their hand in the sectarian cookie jar."

Corinne Reilly and Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) report on yesterdya's bombing and note that it followed a week of violence, "On Monday a series of seven explosions killed dozens in Baghdad. Back-to-back bombings Tuesday and Wednesday in the capital’s Kadhemiyah district killed at least 15. And on Friday at least seven people, including five American soldiers, died in a massive suicide attack in the northern city of Mosul."

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4266 and tonight? 4272. Today the US military announced: "One U.S. Coalition Soldier died of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated in Salah-ad Din Province, April 12. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense." As we noted last Sunday of the US death toll, "Sort of a slap upside the face to all the 'reporters' writing their 'deaths have trended down' stories on April 1st and April 2nd. They know who they are and, thing is, so do we." Today UPI notes that 9 US service members have died in Iraq already this month.

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which left seven people wounded, a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded four US soldiers, a Mosul roadside bombing which injured "two police officers" and, dropping back to Saturday, a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded two police officers.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul last night.

In Iraq today, a committee in Parliament offered a rebuke of the police. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports the committee was offended that the police raided an art show and seized an illustration "lampooning Iraq's prime minister." No word on whether or not he was in 'Muslim garb' and doing a fist bump. (For those who didn't catch that, it was a reference to the faux outrage over a New Yorker cartoon cover that demonstrated there's more than a little bit of Denmark in the US.) Meanwhile the top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno, appeared on CNN today and was interviewed by John King (link has text and video). He discussed the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement which supposedly binds the US to leave all Iraqi cities by the end of this June and to leave the country by the end of 2011. Despite that alleged 'binding' agreement, Odierno stated US troops might not leave Iraqi cities at the end of June ("If we believe that we'll need troops to maintain a presence in some of the cities, we'll recommend that, but, ultimately, it will the decision of Prime Minister Maliki"), however , "As you ask me today, I believe it's a 10 -- that we will be gone by 2011." He believes. Not "It's a 10, we will be gone in 2011." Believes. Odierno's not staking his reputation on anyone else's promise and he has always worded very carefully on this topic. Jonathan D. Salant (Bloomberg News) puts it this way, "Odierno said he expects to meet the 2011 deadline. There are 142,000 U.S. troops in Iraq." Deborah Solomon (Wall St. Journal) summarizes it as follows, "The top U.S. general in Iraq said the U.S. is on track to withdraw combat troops from Iraq by August 2010 but could adjust the pace over the next 18 months depending on the stability of the country." Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) interviews Baghdad Christians about their security. Andrew Wolfson (Journal-Courier) does the roll out for Steven D. Green's defense ("I got problems!") and we'll skip that and instead note the War Crimes:

Three months later, according to court records, Green and three comrades, buzzed on black-market Iraqi, slipped away from their post near Yusufiyah, cut through a security fence and marched through a field a few hundred yards to a home they knew from patrols.
There, as Pfc. Jesse Spielman stood guard, Spcs. Paul Cortez and James Barker took turns raping 14-year-old Abeer Kassem Al-Janabi, while Green, in a bedroom next door, allegedly executed the girl's mother, father and 6-year-old sister.
Abeer screamed in terror. as she was sexually assaulted and heard her family members being shot one by one, according to Army and court records. Then Green allegedly raped Abeer and shot her in the head, those same records show.
To destroy evidence of the rape, Spielman and the other soldiers burned Abeer's body, reducing its upper half to ashes. Then they tossed one of the murder weapons -- an AK-47 the family owned -- into a canal and returned to their checkpoint, where they burned their own bloody clothes and threw some chicken wings on the grill for dinner.
The slayings triggered international outrage after the U.S. soldiers' involvement was made known.

New content at Third:

Truest statement of the week
Truest statement of the week II
A note to our readers
Editorial: No time and no interest is the message
TV: Women and sitcoms
White House caught in another lie
"Take it up with Barack"
Ty's Corner
Lt. Muthana Shaad's Gay Boy Chronicles
Movie roundtable
And the Katrina goes to . . .

Kat's "Kat's Korner: The LOtUSFLOW3R Blooms ... and rocks" went up this morning and Isaiah's latest goes up after this. Pru notes Simon Assaf's "US plans in danger as Iraq deal falls apart" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

One of the central planks of the US strategy to pacify Iraq has begun to unravel – just as it prepares to draw down its troops from the country.
The US and its allies in the Iraqi government have turned on the "Awakening Councils" – around 90,000 former resistance fighters who switched sides at the height of the insurgency.
These militias, also known as the "Sons of Iraq", had turned their guns on other resistance groups in return for a US promise to pull out of Sunni Muslim areas.
The deal marked the end of the insurgency in western Iraq and parts of the capital of Baghdad. Those fighters who refused to accept the deal were labelled as "Al Qaida" and killed.
In return, the councils were given effective control over Sunni neighbourhoods and paid a monthly wage.
They were also given a pledge that they could hold onto their weapons to keep a check on Shia Muslim death squads that had been attacking the resistance.
The US was then able to declare a victory of sorts and set a date for transferring its troops to Afghanistan.
But late last year the US stopped its payments of wages and promised the Iraqi government – run by parties linked to the death squads – would pay the bill.
Further promises were made offering to incorporate the council fighters into Iraq’s security forces.
But the Iraqi government has reneged on the deal and began arresting or killing off key council leaders.
This sparked a brief uprising in March after Iraqi security forces seized the head of the Awakening Council in the Fadhil neighbourhood of Baghdad.
In a sign of frustration, the US commander for Baghdad said, "These men had broken faith with their fellow Sons of Iraq, the Iraqi people and us."
The growing discontent among the Awakening Councils has been marked by a return of roadside bombs targeting US troops and a string of bomb attacks against Shia areas.
© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.
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the new york times
alissa j. rubin

laith hammoudi
hussein kadhim