Friday, July 17, 2009

3 US soldiers killed in Iraq

This morning the US military announced: "BAGHDAD -- Three Multi-National Division-South Soldiers were killed when Contingency Operating Base Basra was attacked by indirect fire at approximately 9:15 p.m. on July 16. The names of the deceased are being withheld pending notification of next of kin. The incident is under investigation." The announcement brings the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4326.

In other reported violence today, AFP notes a Falluja bombing which has claimed the lives of 2 children and left six people injured. The bombing took place at the home of Lt Col Abdel Salam Khawam in the latest of the continued attacks on Iraqi police. Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured four pilgrims, a second Baghdad roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 2 people and left twelve more injured (apparently pilgrims), a Shirqat sticky bombing targeting police which left one police officer injured, 1 person shot wounded in a Kirkuk shooting and, dropping back to yesterday, one person wounded in a Kirkuk shooting.

The pilgrims are the topic of Mohammed al Dulaimy's "Shiite pilgrimage poses major challenge for Iraqi military" (McClatchy Newspapers):

Authorities have imposed a limited curfew in Baghdad, and thousands of additional Iraqi soldiers and police officers are on the streets for the annual commemoration of a revered Shiite holy man who died in the eighth century.
A brigade from the Iraqi Federal Police -- previously known as the Iraqi National Police -- set up checkpoints at which men, women and children were searched Thursday, and Iraqi army helicopters flew low over the crowds.
Two American helicopters also hovered overhead; in the past, Iraqis had asked that only U.S. helicopters protect their missions.

Meanwhile Alsumaria reports, "While thousands of pilgrims have poured in to Al Kazimiya to mark Imam Kazem Anniversary (AS), citizens are complaining about closing main roads which is usually caused by religious occasion." On religion, Anthony Shadid's "A Shiite Schism On Clerical Rule: Iraqis See Their Concept Gain on Iran's" (Washington Post) explores the changes made by the US backed and installed 'leadership' in Iraq:

But three decades after the Iranian revolution brought to power one notion of clerical rule -- and six years after the fall of Saddam Hussein helped enshrine another version of religious authority here -- the relationship between religion and the state in Iraq, clerics here say, seems more enduring than the alternative in neighboring Iran.
"It's true," said Ghaith Shubar, a cleric who runs a foundation in Najaf aligned with Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's most powerful cleric. "The spiritual guidance of the people in Iraq has become stronger than the guidance offered under the system in Iran. The marjaiya" -- the term used to describe the authority of the most senior ayatollahs -- "has more influence in Iraq, spiritual and otherwise, than it does in Iran."

While al-Maliki's clique self-congratulates, Rachelle Marshall (Media Monitors Network) reminds:

Al-Maliki has steadfastly refused to honor America’s commitment to the thousands of Sunni fighters whose willingness to join the American side two years ago was responsible for a dramatic decline in violence. The Sunni Awakening Councils provided soldiers who fought with the Americans against al-Qaeda and in return were paid by the American army. They also were promised they would be given government jobs and allowed to join regular Iraqi security forces.
Instead of meeting these commitments, the Iraqi government began arresting senior Awakening Council leaders, claiming they are still insurgents, and demanding that members of the Councils be disarmed. Awakening Council members are also being attacked by Islamic militants whom they turned against when they joined the Americans. The security situation in general has deteriorated, with many Iraqis claiming the Iraqi forces are too inept to provide security.

Turning to TV notes. Tony Blair's appearance at The Hague may be delayed for a bit; however, the War Criminal can be found this week on your TV screen via NOW on PBS:

Once one of the most dangerous and violent cities in the West Bank, Jenin was the scene of frequent battles between the Israeli military and Palestinian fighters, and the hometown of more than two dozen suicide bombers.
Today, however, there's been a huge turnaround. Jenin is now the center of an international effort to build a safe and economically prosperous Palestinian state from the ground up. On Jenin's streets today, there's a brand new professional security force loyal to the Palestinian Authority and funded in part by the United States. But can the modest success in Jenin be replicated throughout the West Bank, or will the effort collapse under the intense political pressure from all sides?
This week, NOW talks directly with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the international community's envoy to the region and an architect of the plan. We also speak with a former commander of the infamous Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in Jenin about his decision to stop using violent tactics, and to residents of Jenin about their daily struggles and their hopes for the future.
To Blair, the Jenin experiment can be pivotal in finally bringing peace to the Middle East. He tells NOW, "This is the single most important issue for creating a more stable and secure world."

A war criminal, an architect of the illegal war on Iraq, wants to tell the world what our "single most important issue" is and expects to be trusted? Tony Blair belongs behind bars, not on your TV screen. On PBS' Washington Week, Gwen sits around the table with USA Today's Joan Biskupic, the New York Times' Mark Mazzetti (aka The Little Asset Who Could), and Time magazine's Karen Tumulty and Hedda Hopper Lives!' Jeanne Cummings who will continue her efforts to be seen as the tabloids' new Jeane Dixon. Bonnie Erbe sits down with Bay Buchanan, Avis Jones-DeWeever, Tara Setmayer and Amy Siskind on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, all three PBS shows begin airing tonight on many PBS stations. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

Gun Rush
Americans are snapping up guns and ammunition at an increasingly higher rate despite the economic downturn. But as Lesley Stahl reports, the economic downturn, as well as the election of Barack Obama, may be the reason for the run on guns. | Watch Video

The African lion, already down as much as 85 percent in numbers from just 20 years ago, is now in danger of becoming extinct because people are poisoning them with a cheap American pesticide to protect their cattle herds. Bob Simon reports. | Watch Video

Steve Wynn
The casino mogul most responsible for taking Las Vegas to new heights of gaming and glitter talks to Charlie Rose about his spectacular success and the eye disease that's slowly robbing him of his ability to see the fruits of his labor. | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, July 19, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Turning to public radio. On NPR's The Diane Rehm Show this morning (begins airing on most NPR stations and streaming online at 10:00 am EST), Diane's panel for the first hour (focusing on domestic issues) is composed of The New Republic's Michael Crowley, the ever present Jeanne Cummings and CBS and Slate's John Dickerson. For the second hour, the international hour, the panel is composed of the Wall St. Journal's Youchi Dreazen, the Washington Post's David Ignatius and Foreign Policy's Moises Naim.

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