Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bridge Bombings are back

Insurgents detonated a truck loaded with five tons of explosives Saturday on a bridge here that links western Iraq to Jordan and Syria, pulverizing part of the overpass and paralyzing traffic for hours.
Another, smaller bridge was also destroyed in Fallujah, where a roadside bomb struck an Iraqi military patrol on the highway, killing four soldiers and wounding 14 others, said Sulaiman al-Dulaimi, a spokesman for the Fallujah General Hospital.

The above is from Uthman al-Mokhtar's "Insurgents Destroy 2 Bridges In Anbar" (Washington Post). Friday Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported "a pontoon bridge in Ameriyah" was blown up leaving the "area which is now completely isolated." As noted in yesterday's snapshot, "Those who remember the 2006 bridge bombings and the violence that followed, should take into account that this could be step-one of a multi-violence attack that follows." The bridge bombings are back. Iran's Press TV notes:

"A truck was driven over the bridge on a highway in Ramadi at around 4:00 am (0100 GMT) and subsequently exploded," police Major Imad Abboud told AFP, adding that the highway is used heavily by the departing US military to transport equipment out of the country. It is also being used by local civilians.

In other reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing which wounded two people, a Baghdad roadside bombing which left three people injured, a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer and left two people wounded and a Kirkuk hand grenade attack which claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soliders and wounded two other people. Reuters notes a Hawija bombing which claimed 2 lives and left two more people injured.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy) reports an attack on a Mosul police checkpoint which claimed the life of 1 police officer and left two people injured, 1 person shot dead in Mosul "near his home" and, dropping back to Friday, an attempted assassination on Samarra's Deputy Police Chief: "Samarra police were able to capture all six gunmen, and they turned out to be policemen in the Samarra police force. The investigation is ongoing, said Iraqi police."

As noted in yesterday's snapshot, Moqtada al-Sadr's political party held a primary in Iraq yesterday. Jenan Hussein and Mohammad al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reported on the primary that took place today for Moqtada al-Sadr supporters. They explain it's an effort to restore luster to the al-Sadr brand and that "there were few safeguards against double voting, and the party claimed far more votes [1.5 million] than the number it had registered [250,000] a few days earlier." They also note that women voted in large numbers "at some polling stations where entire families" went to vote. al-Sadr is thought to be attempting to improve his standing ahead of the 'intended' January elections. Today Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) adds:

The exercise came in response to an instruction from Sadr, who has been living the life of a virtual recluse in the Iranian city of Qom since 2007. He is reported to be studying to become an ayatollah, and has vowed not to return to Iraq until the last of the American "occupiers" has left. Yet his influence over his followers remains intact.At a polling station in the movement's stronghold of Sadr City, throngs of people, many of them noisily chanting the cleric's name, lined up to cast ballots for one of 329 candidates for slots on the pro-Sadr slate in Baghdad province.
"I voted because Sayed Muqtada Sadr ordered me to," said Khadamiya Jawad, 34, after writing her candidate's name on a ballot paper in a covered booth and dipping her finger in indelible ink. "And also because I want to choose my own representative."

Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) explains that regardless of the results, Moqtada al-Sadr will pick whom from his party runs and she explains the 'intended' January elections:

The Iraqi parliament is still wrangling over an election law that would determine whether voters will be able to vote for individual candidates on an "open list" or retain the closed-list system of 2005 elections, in which voters are told only the parties' names and not the candidates.
A closed list would likely favor incumbent politicians expected to lose support at the polls for failing to deliver essential services and cut down on corruption. Iraq's most influential Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, recently issued a rare public pronouncement urging an open list for the next elections. And Sadr, who has been pursuing his religious education in Iran, has issued a decree directing followers not to participate in a closed list, some of his supporters said.
"If parliament does not pass an open list, we will not vote," says retired government worker Ali al-Lami, one of hundreds of men who had rolled out prayer rugs for Friday prayers on closed streets and sidewalks in Sadr City, Baghdad's biggest and poorest neighborhood. Some of the men brought umbrellas to shield them from the sun. Others wandered through the crowd spraying the worshippers with a cooling mist of rose-scented water.

Staying with the topic of elections, this is from Sherwood Ross' "FRAUDULENT AFGHAN ELECTION RAISES ODDS AGAINST U.S. 'SUCCESS'" (Vermont Commons):

The fraudulent Afghan election of last August 20th has delayed the possibility of a new regime taking over promptly to replace the corrupt rule of the discredited, U.S. hand-picked President Hamid Karzai.
The ballot box stuffing has blunted a key aspect of President Obama's stated desire to bring about domestic reform there, not just to wage war, in that tortured nation.
While the recount drags on over what the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) called "clear and convincing evidence of fraud," Pentagon officials are claiming the Taliban is growing ever stronger and they need tens of thousands of additional troops. General Stanley McChrystal, the Afghanistan commander, warned of possible "mission failure" without them. Civilians continue to die from U.S. air strikes aimed at Taliban targets as well as Taliban explosives and U.S. troops continue to die in record numbers in the fighting. Each day brings fresh headlines detailing the slaughter.
"This war has slogged on for nearly nine years, making it longer than America's involvement in World Wars I and II combined. We've already spent $228 billion, 826 Americans have been killed (nearly 200 so far this year), and Obama's summer surge has muscled up America's Afghan presence to 68,000 troops (plus another 42,000 from NATO," Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer note in the October Hightower Lowdown. "Yet the Taliban forces we're fighting are stronger than ever, and our own military commanders concede that not only is the war going badly for us, but the situation is rapidly 'deteriorating'.'"
What's more, by backing Hamid Karzai, the "leader" designated by the Bush-Cheney regime in Dec., 2001, Hightower and Frazer say, Obama is strengthening a central government that is "infamously incompetent, openly corrupt, criminally abusive, and thoroughly despised."
Sarah Chayes, an adviser to U.S. General Stanley McChrystal, the American commander in Afghanistan, told a reporter for The New Yorker magazine(Sept. 28), "What the Afghans expected of us was to help create a decent government. Instead, we gave them warlords, because we were focused on counterterrorism."

And finally, we'll note this from David Degraw's "Special Report from Inside the Financial Coup" (Amped Status):

When the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission opened for business on September 17, it was a nonevent for the media. Leading newspapers brushed aside chairman Phil Angelides, the former California state treasurer, and his declaration of purpose-"uncovering the facts and providing an unbiased historical accounting of what brought our financial system and our economy to its knees."
As Angelides put it, "The fuses for that cataclysm were undoubtedly lit years before. It is our job to diligently and doggedly follow those fuses to their origins."
The press has moved on. Financial crisis was last year's story. Didn't the Treasury and Federal Reserve announce they have already turned things around? Hasn't the president proposed a bunch of complicated reforms (boring!) for Congress to enact? Yes, but that is the problem. How can Washington reform the financial system when we still don't know what happened?
We may know the broad outlines, but the landscape remains littered with unanswered questions and informed suspicions about who did what to produce the breakdown. The relevant facts are still buried in the files of Wall Street firms and the regulatory agencies that utterly failed as watchdogs.
The Angelides commission has the subpoena power to dig out secrets-from e-mails and private memos, and through testimony under oath-that can disclose political deal-making and ruinous financial strategies. Given the rush of events, the commission may be the public's last, best chance to get at the truth of the matter.

The e-mail address for this site is

mcclatchy newspapers
sahar issa
jenan hussein
mohammed al dulaimy

liz sly