Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Iraq War didn't end

Rawya Rageh: In the past week there have been near daily attacks targeting the Iraqi security forces, the symbol of trying to bring law and order to this country with near daily bombings -- car bombs targeting patrols and checkpoints and targeted assassinations against senior Iraqi army and police officers. Of particular note, of course, of particular importance, was the brazen, broad daylight that took place on Sunday against an Iraqi army base in eastern Baghdad, a very complicated attack against a base that less than three weeks ago was also attacked by a suicide bomber who managed to kill more than 50 army recruits who were lining up there to get paid their pay checks -- Sorry, actually to apply for job, for new jobs there, at the base. Now the particular attack on Sunday was very complicated. We understand that at least six assailants were involved, a car bomb went off at the very first checkpoint and that opened way for the remaining suicide bombers to wage their attack on the base. So actually an increasing level of sophistication and complications in the attacks here, Teymoor.

That's Al Jazeera correspondent Rawya Rageh speaking to Teymoor Nabili at the start of this week's Inside Iraq (Al Jazeera, began airing Friday night). We usually note part of the roundtable discussions from Inside Iraq in a Monday or Tuesday snapshot and we will do that next week; however, watching it along with several other things -- US programs -- I was struck by how the end of the week prompted no reflection on US TV. In addition to the above, 2 US soldiers were killed on Tuesday and nine wounded. Where was the reflection? Where was the discussion of the state of Iraq? We'll finish out Rageh's report.

Teymoor Nabili: And of course on that Sunday attack we saw the involvement of US troops which obviously immediately raises this whole idea that the [US] troops are not going to engage in combat any longer. So how does Washington explain the whole hype behind the 'no more combat' and what exactly is the role of these troops now?

Rawya Rageh: It is important to point out, Teymoor, that the involvement of US soliders in that attack on Sunday, they were actually drawn into fighting, they were not involved in direct combat that they had initiated. Now that being said, all along, US military generals on the ground have maintained that the rules of engagement of US soldiers here do not change despite this gradual drawdown and the announcement of an end to combat operations. US forces here still maintain the right to open fire under the onus of force protection. In fact, they actually still have the right to go out of their bases to carry out pre-emptive strikes against areas where they believe attacks against them are eminating from. So no change in the rules of engagement as far as that's concerned. In that particular attack on Sunday, Teymoor, there were at least 100 US soldiers based at that Iraqi army base to carry out their new stated role which is to 'advise-train-and-assist' the Iraqi security forces. Now they too came under attack so they had to open fire under defensive measures and it's also important that both -- to point out, that both US military and Iraqi military generals are pointing out that their involvement, the US soldiers' involvement, was in suppressive fire. In other words, they were not opening fire to directly kill those targets or those assailants but actually to force the assailants to duck while another force steps in to contain the situation -- that force being the Iraqi force on the ground during the attack, Teymoor.

Teymoor Nabili: Alright, Rawya Rageh in Baghdad, thank you.

Rawya Rageh's report is at the start of this week's Inside Iraq and you can click above to stream it and the entire program.

As noted, we didn't hear an end of the week reflection on our TVs. (You did get one in the Friday roundup on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show.) At, Michael O'Brien does note the week's issues:

The first two US soldiers to die in Iraq since Barack Hussein Obama told the country (and the world) that we were no longer at war there were killed on Tuesday, September 7, 2010. To those with a shred of logic and common sense, this poses a problem: if we’re not at war, how do we classify their deaths? If we’re not at war, as Obama and Biden tell us, I guess that makes the deaths of these two soldiers the equivalent of a training accident, or maybe the equivalent of a bar fight gone wrong. If we’re not at war they aren’t combat casualties. Obama and Biden have made it so. The insurgent who killed these soldiers must not have gotten the word when Joe Biden was over there a week ago. Someone needs to tell him the war is over and to go home. Maybe Joe will go back and do that.

Zac Hambides (WSWS) adds:

The American military claimed the incident did not point to any deeper hostility toward the US occupation among Iraqi troops. The commander of American forces in northern Iraq, Major General Tony Cuculo, told the Washington Post: “This is a tragic and cowardly act, which I firmly believe was an isolated incident and is certainly not reflective of the Iraqi security forces in Salahaddin.”

Contradicting such claims, however, Stars and Stripes reported on September 8 that all American troops operating at Iraqi military bases have since been ordered to keep a loaded magazine on their rifles at all times, and to be “alert” for any behaviour by Iraqi troops that “does not make sense”. The article cited Iraqis carrying weapons on their base as an example.

This week,'s Jeremy Sapienza was one of the guests on Scott Horton's Antiwar Radio. Excerpt:

Scott Horton: So let's talk about Iraq, man. Obviously, I walk around with a chip on my shoulder all day and all night over this but just this week it's driven me to the edge of sanity. After all of this, the American people have deemed the Iraq War a success and they're proud of themselves for mongering it and it's great. Well tell us about the American involvement in this because it's very interesting to me in its own silly little small or -- context that they really seem to have said, across the propaganda, it was honest at the same time it was lying, all week, last week: We're leaving 50,000 troops, war's over. They didn't lie about the 50,000 troops at all.

Jeremy Sapienza: No.

Scott Horton: Even on TV, they're like, 'Yeah, 50,000 troops, but the war's over.'

Jeremy Sapienza: Well, yeah, you just call them 'advise-and-assist' and not 'combat troops.' The same troops are holding guns. They're still walking around, they're still -- As I recently said in a piece I wrote because Wikipedia declared the war over, that just because they're redefined doesn't mean that they're not -- They may nominally being backing up Iraqi troops but, come on, who are we kidding? Iraqi troops are going to take the lead in anything?

Scott Horton: Didn't American soldiers die in a combat mission yesterday [interview was recorded Wednesday]?

Jeremy Sapienza: No, not a combat mission. An Iraqi soldier shot them dead on base.

Scott Horton: Oh!

Jeremy Sapienza: Yes.

Scott Horton: War's over! It's all good. Yeah, it's amazing, the ability to do the double think. I mean, there was a point, wasn't there, when the Democrats took both houses of Congress by more than a dozen seats in the House or something back in 2006 because why? Because the American people hated the Iraq War and they wanted something done about it. Now --

Jeremy Sapienza: They did do something, they declared it "over."

Scott Horton: Yeah, so well, let's talk about this Wikipedia thing because you got a piece published in the newspaper about the fight that went on at Wikipedia over whether the war was over or not and really how the technology, the platform of Wikipedia made for an entirely different set of circumstances then the kind of thing that we were reading in the newspaper last week.

Jeremy Sapienza: The way Wikipedia works is that there are dominant editors so you can -- anybody can go in and edit something, but if it's being watched closely enough, a dominant editor will go in and change it back immediately. So if you vandalize something and it's a prominent article like Iraq War, say, then the editors can change it right back. So the dominant editors allowed somebody to declare that, per Obama, the war was over and it had the end date as August 19, 2010. So immediately, this is what's great about Wikipedia, is that there's a discussion area and people immediately started taking them to task for that saying the war isn't over and even [Gen David] Petraeus and various other generals -- One of them literally said, I even have a quote right here, "I don't think anybody has declared the end of the war as far as I know" -- Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell. So people were in the discussion area talking about this and haranguing the editors until finally they changed it and they said that August 19th was the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Scott Horton: Right, now it's Operation New Dawn.

And I have a few comments on the above (in terms of the selling of the Iraq War's so-called 'ending') but will carry it over to Third due to the time. Also to the community member who e-mailed about AOL, (a) I will check with Stan and (b) if possible we will write about how AOL continues to screw people over in this weeks edition of Third.

ADDED: Reuters notes a Samarra roadside bombing left three Iraqi police officers wounded. Xinhua reports a al-Hadeed armed clash which resulted in 1 assailant killed, 1 police officer killed and three people injured and, following that, the Iraqi military attempted to chase the assailants but a roadside bombing injured two Iraqi soldiers. At, Margaret Griffis offers a rundown on the days events.

The e-mail address for this site is