Sunday, June 25, 2006

Bonus: Iraq Snapshot

Bonus added Sunday night.

Iraq snapshot

The Associated Press is reporting that Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, "offered an olive branch to insurgents who join in rebuilding Iraq and said Sunday that lawmakers should set a timeline for the Iraqi military and police to take control of security nationwide." The AP reports maintains that there's no timeline. Discussing this news on Sunday's RadioNation with Laura Flanders, Flanders noted how key events are disappearing from the reporting as the story continues to get covered and Dahr Jamail offered his opinion that the news of setting a timeline for foreign forces to withdraw from Iraq has led to some exchanges between D.C. and Baghdad. Steve Negus (Financial Times of London) reports that: "Mr Maliki’s initiative was less detailed than some Iraqi politicians had earlier implied it might be, and did not spell out how key points such as an amnesty for some insurgents and a timetable for Iraqi troops taking over security might be implemented." Tom Hadyen (Common Dreams) notes the Senate posturing last week on the issues of who will and will not receive amnesty while pointing out: "In their quest to be macho, however, Democrats may be undercutting an avenue towards peace. All military stalemates end in agreements between enemies who have fought and suffered. If there can be no consideration of amnesty for those the US is fighting, then there can be no settlement short of US military victory. " Paul Reynolds (BBC) reports that the plan is "part of a grand strategy by the Bush administration to stabilise Iraq -- or to stabilise the perception of Iraq - in advance of the mid-term elections for Congress in November." Tom Hayden concludes:

Most likely, a contradiction is unfolding within the American political hierarchy and national security establshment over whether this war is winnable. It also is a question of maintaining the American power posture, or its appearance. Those who know the war will end in defeat or quagmire favor a political strategy aimed at cutting losses, channeling the insurgency into talks and removing the issue from American politics in 2006. Others cling to the goal of eventually subduing the insurgency militarily and maintaining 50,000 troops permanently in Iraq.

This as Autralia's ABC reports that Japanese troops have begun their withdrawal from Iraq. Meanwhile, Australia's ABC reports that Australian Peter Lockwood "has been selected as the next commander of up to 2,000 coalition naval forces in the northern Persian Gulf." This as an investigation is launched into the shooting death of a bodyguard to Iraq's Trade Minister by Australian forces.

In Baghdad on Saturday, Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) notes a bomb killed two Iraqi police officers and wounded at least five more while a car bomb killed five and wounded at least eleven people. Also on Saturday, the AP reports, a corpse was discovered in Baghdad ("handcuffed, bound by the legs . . . shot to death").

On Sunday, Baghdad was rocked by explosions. Al Jazeera reports that a bombing in a maket (clothing market) resulted in at least six deaths while a mini-van bomb took two more lives.
Reuters reports mulitple killings and bombings -- two dead thirteen wounded from a car bomb near Mosul, two shot dead "in a poultry store" in Hawija, "police General Hussein Abdul-Rahman" and two other police officers shot dead while in their car in Baquba, also in Baquba, an attack on a checkpoint led to five Iraqi soldiers being killed, a carpenter killed in Mosul, a "municipal council employee" killed in Baiji, an Iraqi soldier killed in Tikrit . . .

The AFP reports that, over the weekend, the Mujahedeen Shura Council in Iraq released a videotape claiming to have killed the four Russian diplomats kidnapped on June 3rd in Baghdad. The Russian government notes that the deaths of Fyodor Zaytsev, Rinat Aglyulin, Anatoly Smirnov and Oleg Fedosseyev have not been confirmed.

Reuters reports that: "Gunmen have abducted 16 employees of a government institute north of Baghdad, in the second mass kidnapping in the area in a week, police say."

As operations take place outside the media eye in Ramadi, Dahr Jamail and Ali Fadhil (IPS)report on Falluja which suffered similar seiges in 2004. They report that the city remains surrounded by checkpoints (biometrics measure decide whether you enter or not), the rebuilding is a joke (hospital officials note that they'll all be dead before the supposed construction of a new hospital is completed), unemployment is rampant, and as to the US "the promised compensation funds, of the 81 reconstruction projects slated for the city, less than 30 have been completed and many others will most likely be cancelled due to lack of funding."

Though the mainstream press continues to show little interest in Falluja, they were full of happy talk last week about new training and guidelines resulting in less deaths at US checkpoints in Iraq. Despite those claims, questions remain unanswered about the shooting of journalist Giuliana Sgrena's car which wounded her and killed Nicola Calipari. Fritzroy Sterling (IPS) details some of the questions in the incident. Some questions may never be answered because, as Sgrena told Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez on Thursday's Democracy Now!, the US military maintains that they have destroyed the logs of the events. Italian prosecutors are attempting to try US Army Specialist Mario Lozano for the death of Calipari.

This as Wil Cruz (Newsday) reports that National Guard Sgt. Milton Ortiz Jr. is being "charged for his role in planting an assault weapon near the slain body of an unarmed Iraqi civilian whom another guardsman had just fired upon." In addition, Cruz reports that "Nathan Lynn, 21, of South Williamsport, Pa., is accused of fatally shooting the unarmed man in front of a home near Ramadi, where Lynn was on security detail for members of his unit, the military said."

Elswhere, Brian Conley's Alive in Baghdad posts a video interview with an Iraqi woman who states that the US military killed her son in Samarra 'in cold blood.'

On the issue of "we were all wrong," one disputing answer is emerging reports the AFP (noting a Washington Post) article, Colin Powell's laughable claims to the UN were vetted and items removed. Tyler Drumheller, a CIA veteran, told The Post's Joby Warrick that the section of the speech relating to mobile biological weapons labs was crossed out by the agency -- despite that fact, it ended back in the speech when Powell delivered it.

What does "AWOL" stand for? Ann Wright reports that, more and more, it now stands for "Against War of Lies" as she documents the efforts to support war resistors. Noting the eight-thousand who are AWOL, Wright also notes: "Individual non-public resistance in the military generally results in an administrative discharge without publicity. Thousands have turned themselves in to military authorities and have been administratively discharged from the military. US military bases discharge dozens of war resisters each week."

In related news, Courage to Resist notes that Tuesday is a national day of action for war resister Ehren Watada and provides a list of national events.

"On the other hand I knew that we were not fighting for Democracy, we were not fighting just terrorist, we were fighting an indigenous insurgency who was resisting our occupation. And many loves were being sacrificed for what I thought was nothing. I came to the point where I could no longer look at the pain and suffering of so many members of the armed forces, so many families being devastated by these loses, and the grief and suffering of Iraqi citizens and all for what I felt was an intentional deception, to wage a war without any purpose, without any noble purpose."
"So, I came to the point to where I believed as a person, not only as a human being, not only as a citizen of this country, but as a member of the military, that I could make a difference in helping to end this illegal war."
[. . .]

Two websites about this courageous stand:
Courage To Resist
Thank You Lt
Many thanks to Courtney Scott for producing this interview. This file is 10 minutes in length.
Lt. Ehren Watada, RealPlayer
Lt. Ehren Watada, MP3

The above is Ehren Watada speaking. You can read about it in Jim Lockhart's "AUDIO FILE: Local Interview With Lt. Ehren Watada" (Portland Indymedia and noted by community member Portland) and you can also use the links to listen to the interview conducted by Courtney Scott. Please note that Tuesday, June 27th is a day of action where there's a call to stand up for Watada. To find out more, click here.

Snapshot (Jim's statement) "Written by C.I. with help from Rebecca, Mike, Jess, Ty, Ava, Dona and Jim."
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