Monday, March 31, 2008


Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on Monday said the Iraqi Army "appears to have performed well."

Is he kidding?

Even right wing FOX NEWS pundits say the Iraqi Army were routed by the Mahadi Army in the "Battle for Basra."

Gates apparently doesn't know that almost 100 Iraqi Army members surrendered rather than continue the fight in Basra.

Everyone who knows anything about Iraq is saying the resistance the Iraqi Army found in Basra was a major defeat for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Gates must have been "out to lunch" when all hell was breaking loose in Basra.

Editorial comment by BILL CORCORAN, editor of CORKSPHERE

Gates says Iraqi army appears to have performed well

Mon Mar 31, 3:09 PM ET

Iraqi forces appear to have done "a pretty good job" in an offensive to regain control of Basra from Shiite gangs and militias, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said Monday.

"We're obviously hopeful that he will achieve most of his objectives, and see calm return as well," Gates told reporters enroute here from Brussels, referring to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

His comments came as radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called off his fighters, signalling an end to six days of clashes in Basra, Baghdad and other cities that left 461 people dead.

"I think we've all known at some point that the situation in Basra was going to have to be dealt with. It is the economic lifeline of the country. To have it under control of gangs and militias over the long term is not acceptable," Gates said.

"So I think all of us in the government were pleased to see Prime Minister Maliki take this on, take the initiative and go down there himself with Iraqi forces and try to resolve the issue."
Asked how the Iraqi army performed, he said first hand information was limited because the Iraqis were directing the campaign.

But based on that, he said, "they seem to have done a pretty good job."
US plans to reduce the size of its 156,000-member force in Iraq in the coming months hinges on the performance of the Iraqi army and whether it is capable of filling the void left by departing US troops.

Gates said he had seen nothing to indicate that the violence in the south would prompt changes in Washington's plans to draw down US "surge" forces from Iraq by July.
So far, two of five combat brigades sent to Iraq last year to put a lid on spiralling sectarian violence have gone home. But some 156,000 US troops remain in Iraq.


President George W. Bush keeps piling up one Iraq legacy after another, but they are not the kind of legacies which historians will point to as major milestones in the war with Iraq.

The legacies Bush is racking up in Iraq are the kind of legacies that will go down in history as showing the invasion and occupation of Iraq by the Bush administration was the biggest foreign policy blunder in the HISTORY of the United States.

Editorial comment by BILL CORCORAN, editor of CORKSPHERE

On International Women's Day in 2004, nearly a year after the invasion of Iraq, George Bush, the US President, addressed 250 women from around the world who had gathered at the White House. "The advance of women's rights and the advance of liberty are ultimately inseparable," he said.

Supported by his wife Laura, who herself hailed the administration's success in achieving greater rights for Afghan women, the president claimed that "the advance of freedom in the greater Middle East has given new rights and new hopes to women there."Advance.

New rights. New hopes.

Stirring stuff, but totally empty claims.

In fact, Iraq's women have become the biggest losers in the post-invasion disaster. While men have borne the brunt in terms of direct armed violence, women have been particularly hard-hit by poverty, malnutrition, lack of health services and a crumbling infrastructure, not least chronic power cuts which in some areas of Iraq see electricity only available for two hours a day.

By Nadje Al-Ali, Comment Is FreePosted on March 31, 2008, Printed on March 31, 2008

More than 70 percent of the four million people forced out of their homes in the past five years in Iraq have been women and children. Many have found temporary shelter with relatives who share their limited space, food and supplies. But this, according to the UN refugee agency, has created "rising tension between families over scarce resources." Many displaced women and children find themselves in unsanitary and overcrowded public buildings under constant threat of eviction.

Meanwhile, rampant political violence has also engulfed women in Iraq. Islamist militias with links to political parties in government and insurgent groups opposing both the government and the occupation have particularly targeted Iraqi women and girls. A new Islamist puritanism is seeing women and girls being violently pressured to conform to rigid dress codes. Personal movement and social behaviour are being "regulated," with acid attacks (deliberately designed to disfigure "transgressive" women's faces), just one of the sanctions of the new moral guardians of post-Saddam Iraq.

Suad F, a former accountant and mother of four children who lives in a previously mixed neighbourhood in Baghdad, was telling me during a visit to Amman in 2006: "I resisted for a long time, but last year also started wearing the hijab, after I was threatened by several Islamist militants in front of my house. They are terrorising the whole neighbourhood, behaving as if they were in charge. And they are actually controlling the area. No one dares to challenge them. A few months ago they distributed leaflets around the area warning people to obey them and demanding that women should stay at home."

By 2008, the threat posed by Islamist militias and extremist groups has gone far beyond dress codes and calls for gender segregation at universities. Despite -- or even partly because of US and UK rhetoric about liberation and women's rights -- women have been pushed back into their homes.

Women who have a public profile -- as teachers, doctors, academics, lawyers, NGO activists or politicians -- are now systematically threatened, seen as legitimate targets for assassinations. Criminal gangs have joined in. Though rarely reported in Britain, the criminal kidnapping of women for ransom, for trafficking into forced prostitution outside Iraq, and for out and out sexual abuse have all taken root in post-Saddam Iraq.

Killings in Basra in 2007 provide a snapshot. According to a study by the Basra Security Committee, 133 women were killed last year in the UK-controlled city, either by religious vigilantes or as a result of so-called honour killings. Of these, 79 were deemed to have "violated Islamic teachings," 47 were killed to preserve supposed family honour, and the remaining seven were targeted for their political affiliations. As Amnesty International said last year, "politically active women, those who did not follow a strict dress code, and women [who are] human rights defenders are increasingly at risk of abuses, including by armed groups and religious extremists."

The invasion and occupation of Iraq has also directly added to suffering of women. While aerial bombings of residential areas have been responsible for thousands of civilian deaths, many Iraqis have lost their lives while being shot at by American or British troops. Whole families have been wiped out as they approached a checkpoint or did not recognize areas marked as prohibited.

In addition to the killing of innocent women, men and children, the occupation forces have also been engaged in other forms of violence against women. There have been numerous documented accounts of physical assaults at checkpoints and during house searches. American and British forces have also arrested wives, sisters and daughters of suspected insurgents in order to pressure them to surrender. Recent figures show that the US and Iraqi forces are currently holding (mostly without charge) many thousands of detainees, and even where women have not been detained as bargaining chips they have spent frantic months or even years trying to discover where their family members were being held and why.

Women in Iraq suffered from discrimination and violence well before 2003. Deep-rooted patriarchy (especially in rural and tribal areas) and the pervasive repression of all women politically resistant to Saddam's Ba'athist project were hallmarks of life in Iraq in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

But there were subtleties which gave women relative freedom. First, Saddam's political acuity meant that he was perfectly capable of a policy of "state feminism" that partly shifted patriarchal power away from fathers, husbands and brothers, investing this power in the state itself -- Saddam himself becoming the father of the nation. As long as you steered clear of all oppositional politics, this created 20 years (from the late 1960s on) of moderate liberty for at least Iraq's urban middle-class women.

Then, with the growing militarization of Iraq after the Iran-Iraq war and the major reverse of the Gulf war of 1991, Saddam switched policy toward cultivating political allegiance through tribal leaders. The upshot for women? A re-assertion of traditional conservative values that saw women's rights used as bargaining chips and their bodies the repositories of tribal and familial "honor."

As he stood before his female audience in 2004 did President Bush actually understand any of this? Was it factored at all? Or instead, did the US's infamous lack of post-invasion planning include a blind spot over women's rights? Perhaps George and Laura would like to update us.


In a never ending attempt to keep the American public in the dark about U.S. deaths in Iraq, the Department of Defense lists the deaths of U.S. soldiers in Iraq as "multi national forces" or MNF.

U.S. Deaths Confirmed By The DoD:
Reported U.S. Deaths Pending DoD Confirmation:

DoD Confirmation List
Latest Coalition Fatality: Mar 31, 2008
03/31/08 DoD Announces Change in Status of Army Soldier
The armed forces medical examiner confirmed on March 29, human remains recovered in Iraq were those of Staff Sgt. Keith M. Maupin, 24, of Batavia, Ohio. Maupin had been listed as missing-captured since April 16, 2004...

03/31/08 MNF: MND-B Soldier attacked by IED
A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier was killed at when the vehicle he was riding in was struck by an improvised-explosive device approximately 4 p.m. in northeast Baghdad March 31.
03/30/08 MNF: MND-B Solider attacked by IED
A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier was killed from wounds sustained after the vehicle he was riding in was struck by an improvised-explosive device north of Baghdad at approximately 5 p.m. March 30.

03/30/08 MNF: Marine attacked by IED
A Multi-National Force – West Marine was killed March 30 as the result of wounds received in action when his vehicle was attacked by an enemy force with an improvised explosive device in al Anbar Province March 29.


New Green Zone attacks. U.S. soldier killed

The fortified Green Zone “came under fresh attack Monday, less than 24 hours after anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr told his fighters to stand down following a week of clashes with government forces.”

No serious injuries were reported today, but at least “two Americans working for the U.S. government died in attacks on the zone last week.”

A U.S. soldier was also “killed by a roadside bomb in northeast Baghdad on Monday.”


Iraqi refugees in Syria

Alive in Baghdad: A look at the daily struggle to make ends meet facing Iraqis in Syria

We show this segment courtesy of

Alive in Baghdad employs Iraqi journalists to produce video packages each week about a variety of topics on daily life in Iraq


President Bush and Republicans like Sen. Lindsay Graham were all over TV, especially the Bush White House "darling" FOX NEWS, singing the praises of the Iraqi Army, but upon a closer examination the "Battle for Basra" proved the Iraqi Army is not up to the task of handling security in Iraq.

The United States military had to be called in when the Iraqi Army floundered against the Mehadi Army.

There were also reports last week that many members of Iraq Army were surrendering rather than fight. Forty Iraqi Army fighters surrendered at one time when the battle heated up.

The poor showing of the Iraq Army is an ominous sign for the United States military and especially Gen. David Petraeus who travel to the United States next week to meet with President Bush and give a status report to Congress.

The fact the Iraqi Army couldn't handle a security crackdown in Basra means the United States military could be in Iraq for an even longer time than anyone ever anticipated.

Editorial comment by BILL CORCORAN, editor of CORKSPHERE.

Clashes highlight Iraq army’s woes

Self-sufficiency as distant as ever in war’s 6th year; 2008 dropped as target
By Charles J. Hanley

AP Special Correspondent
The Associated Press

Iraq’s new army is “developing steadily,” with “strong Iraqi leaders out front,” the chief U.S. trainer assured the American people.

That was three-plus years ago, the U.S. Army general was David H. Petraeus, and some of those Iraqi officials at the time were busy embezzling more than $1 billion allotted for the new army’s weapons, according to investigators.

The 2004-05 Defense Ministry scandal was just one in an unending series of setbacks in the five-year struggle to “stand up” an Iraqi military and allow hard-pressed U.S. forces to “stand down” from Iraq.

The latest discouraging episode was unfolding this weekend in bloody Basra, the southern city where Iraqi government forces — in their toughest test yet — were still struggling to gain the upper hand in a five-day-old battle with Shiite Muslim militias.

Year by year, the goal of deploying a capable, free-standing Iraqi army has seemed always to slip further into the future. In the latest shift, with Petraeus now U.S. commander in Iraq, the Pentagon’s new quarterly status report quietly drops any prediction of when homegrown units will take over security responsibility nationwide, after last year’s reports had forecast a transition in 2008.

Earlier, in January last year, President Bush said Iraqi forces would take charge in all 18 Iraqi provinces by November 2007. Four months past that deadline, they control only half the 18.
Not enough resources?Responsibility for these ever-unfulfilled goals lies in Washington, contends retired Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton, who preceded Petraeus as chief trainer in Iraq.
“We continue to fail to properly resource and build the very force that will enable a responsible drawdown of our forces,” Eaton told The Associated Press.

Retired Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, a West Point professor and frequent Iraq visitor, also sees insufficient “energy” in the U.S. effort. “Even now, there is no Iraqi air force; there’s no national military medical system; there’s no maintenance system,” he told a New York audience on March 13.

The current chief trainer counters that his Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq, known as MNSTC-I, has made “huge progress in many areas, quality and quantity.”

Editorial comment: "SURE."


The news media in the U.S. would have you believing the cease-fire by rebel leader Muquta al-Sadr was a victory for the Iraqi Army when just the opposite is true. Here is how it is explained:

ANALYSIS-Iraqi crackdown backfires, strengthens Sadrists

Mon Mar 31, 2008 3:49pm BST

By Ross ColvinBAGHDAD, March 31 (Reuters)

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's crackdown on militias in the southern oil port of Basra appears to have backfired, exposing the weakness of his army and strengthening his political foes ahead of elections.

U.S. President George W. Bush has praised the crackdown, calling it a "defining moment" for Iraq, but it has unleashed a wave of destabilising violence in southern Iraq and in Baghdad that risks undoing the security improvements of the past year.It has also exposed a deep rift within Iraq's Shi'ite majority -- between the political parties in Maliki's government and followers of populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.Analysts say Iraqis may be about to witness a new phase in the cycle of violence that has gripped the country since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 -- intra-Shi'ite bloodletting that could tear Iraq apart and more deeply embroil U.S. forces.Sadr on Sunday pulled back from all-out confrontation against Iraqi security forces and their U.S. backers, ordering his Mehdi Army militia to stop fighting.

While Basra was reported to be calm on Monday, mortar attacks shook Baghdad."It will be a short honeymoon, especially with election time coming up," said Mustafa Alani, an analyst at the Dubai-based Gulf Research Centre.Provincial elections are due to take place by October, with the Sadrists, who boycotted the last polls in 2005, vying for control of the mainly Shi'ite, oil-producing south with a powerful rival, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council."The stand-off is not over yet, it's only a truce ... provincial elections will trigger the battle again," predicted Hazem al-Nuaimi, a political analyst based in Baghdad.

ARMY UNPREPARED Maliki flew to Basra last Tuesday to personally oversee a military operation he said was aimed at "cleaning up" the lawless city, which is controlled by criminal gangs and militias allied to various Shi'ite political parties.The operation was lauded by U.S. and British officials as evidence of the growing strength of the Iraqi army, but by the weekend it had largely stalled, with Iraqi troops having failed to dislodge the gunmen from their strongholds.Embarrassingly, Iraq's defence minister had to admit that despite much preparation, his forces were not ready for such fierce resistance. U.S. and British forces have intervened, launching air and artillery strikes to support Iraqi troops.

The fighting provoked a furious backlash by Mehdi Army fighters in other towns and cities in the oil-producing south. Hundreds have been killed in violence that Iraqi security forces have struggled to contain without U.S. military help."What has happened has weakened the government and shown the weakness of the state. Now the capability of the state to control Iraq is open to question," said Izzat al-Shahbander, a moderate Shi'ite politician from the Iraqi National List party.Gareth Stansfield, a professor of Middle East politics at the University of Exeter in England, said Maliki had staked his political credibility on the show of force in Basra and lost."Maliki's credibility is shot at this point. He really thought his security forces could really do this. But he's failed," he said.

SADR LOOKS STRONGER While Maliki has sought to portray the operation as an effort to reassert his government's control over Basra and crack down only on "criminals", not political parties, many analysts believe it is politically motivated.The Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, the biggest Shi'ite party in government and an ally of Maliki's Dawa party, is battling for control of Basra in an often violent turf war that pits it against Sadrists and the smaller Fadhila party, which controls the local oil industry.Sadrists accuse Maliki and the Supreme Council of trying to crush them ahead of the October provincial elections in which they are expected to make big gains at the expense of the Council, which controls many local authorities in the south."This is him (Maliki) basically preparing for an election.

They need to disarm Sadr. The strongest militia in the city will control the vote," said Alani.But Sadr aides say the Mehdi Army will not give up their weapons, raising the prospect of another confrontation, as the Iraqi military says it will press on with the Basra operation.Sadr, ironically, may emerge stronger from the affair."Clearly Sadr has gained a victory. This was not a fight he picked and his forces looked strong. He has consolidated his position," said Stansfield.The cleric, who is widely believed to be in Iran furthering his religious studies, now looks like the victim of political manoeuvring by Shi'ite parties in government."The Sadrists may have been strengthened in many people's minds.

Many have seen the onslaught as unfair," said Reidar Visser, an expert on southern Iraq who edits the Web site will now be watching to see what happens next, but after enduring a bitter Sunni Arab insurgency and then a wave of sectarian violence between Shi'ites and Sunnis, they have become accustomed to expecting the worst."It's true there are no clashes, gunmen or explosions," said Jabbar Sabhan, a civil servant in Basra, "but the situation is still dangerous. I don't trust the words of politicians."


We have the latest U.S. and British casualty reports from Iraq and a long list of violence that continues to sweep across Iraq.

War News for Monday, March 31, 2008

Casualty Reports:Commando Ben McBean lost an arm and leg when he was blown up by a Taliban landmine in Afghanistan a month ago. The 21-year-old, recovering at a military hospital in Birmingham. Speaking of the incident from Selly Oak military hospital in Birmingham, Ben said: ? I was on patrol in a group of eight Marines checking the Taliban?s position. We were sprinting from one checkpoint to another. "As I was running I suddenly heard this huge bang. I was blown ten feet into the air and landed to see my severed foot lying several feet in front of me. Then I looked down to see my arm had snapped completely in half.

Staff Sergeant Jerry Majetich was struck by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), critically injuring him and causing 3rd degree burns over 100% of his face, neck and scalp along with numerous other serious injuries. Jerry was deployed to Iraq in March of 2005 with the 304th Psychological Operations (PSYOP) Company, stationed south of Baghdad in support of the 184th (AA), 3rd ID. On October 18th, 2005, while traveling as the 27th vehicle in a 69-vehicle convoy as part of Operation Clean sweep, he was hit by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). His vehicle had a bounty on it. The rear half of the vehicle disintegrated immediately, killing a member of the security detachment, who was a friend and room mate of Jerry's, and the Battalion Information Officer, also a good friend. The driver's door blew off and he was ejected from the vehicle, receiving minor burns to his right arm and leg. The gunner was thrown about 50 feet into a nearby field from the explosion, shattering his right leg and suffering 2nd and 3rd degree burns on his arm, leg, and lower back. The propane tank in the IED set the vehicle on fire, and Jerry was trapped inside, unable to escape because the door next to him had been welded closed. His injuries include: -35% total body surface 3rd degree burns.-100% face, neck and scalp 3rd degree burns, causing the loss of all hair, both ears (his hearing is fortunately ok), most of his nose, and his vision was gone for two months, with the inability to close either eye for almost three months.-His intestines were ruptured and stomach bruised, causing the loss of 1/3 of his small intestines. Because of the multiple surgeries to his stomach, his muscles were unable to heal and he now has what is referred to as "swiss cheese" by his doctor: a total of six hernias (five in his stomach and one on his right side), which required another surgery. If not taken care of, their size would have increased, interfering with other organs.-Total amputation of his right thumb and pinky, and remaining three fingers down to the second knuckle.-Finger tip amputations to all of the fingers on his left hand.-Loss of use to right arm and shoulder beyond ten pounds.-Unable to straighten either arm due to bone growth caused body in reaction to the burns.-Unable to stay in sun light for more than a few minutes, and his body does not react well to either extreme cold or heat.-Two gunshot wounds in his upper, rear right leg with a loss of muscle and tendons.-Frequent loss of memory, both short and long term, due to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).-Frequent bouts with anxiety in and out of crowds, depression and fatigue.

MNF-Iraq is reporting the death of a Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldier in a roadside bombing in a northern neighborhood of Baghdad on Sunday, March 30th. No other details were released.

MNF-Iraq is reporting the death of a Multi-National Force – West Marine in a roadside bombing in al Anbar Province on Saturday, March 29th. No other details were released.

The British MoD is reporting the deaths of two Royal Marines in an explosion near Kajaki, Helmand province, Afghanistan on Sunday, March 30th. Here's NATO's official statement.

The father of a soldier listed as missing-captured in Iraq since 2004 said Sunday that the military had informed him that his son's remains were found in Iraq. Keith Maupin said at a news conference in suburban Cincinnati that an Army general told him DNA testing identified the remains of his son, Sgt. Keith Matthew Maupin. He was commonly known as Matt.

Security incidents:Baghdad:#1: The fortified Green Zone in Iraq's capital came under mortar or rocket attack again Monday. The U.S. Embassy confirmed the attacks and said no serious injuries were reported. The U.S. military said it had no reports of major damage.

#2: In another blow to Maliki, his security adviser, Saleem Qassim Taee, known as Abu Laith Kadhimi, was killed in the fighting in Basra. The Dawa party member had lived in exile under Saddam's regime for 20 years.

#3: US air strikes and military assaults have killed 41 "criminals" in Baghdad, including 25 who died when an alleged mortar team was bombed, the American military announced on Monday. The killings occurred on Sunday in eastern and northeastern Baghdad where US and Iraqi forces have been battling the Mahdi Army militia

#4: A US military statement said American soldiers were hunting for the launch site of a rocket or mortar attack in eastern Baghdad on Sunday when their Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb, injuring one soldier.

#5: In northeast Baghdad, another eight "criminals" were killed when they attacked US soldiers, a separate statement said.

#6: The Iraqi Olympic Committee said Monday that its assistant secretary-general died of wounds sustained from gunmen attack last week. "Dr. Ra'ad Jaber died of wounds in a Baghdad hospital on Sunday after being attacked by gunmen in the Sa'doun Street in central Baghdad on Wednesday," Hussein al-Amidi, the acting secretary-general of the committee, told Xinhua. Ra'ad Salman, an Iraqi basketball referee was killed instantly during the attack while Fikrat Toma, coach of national basketball team, escaped the attack with a gunshot wound in his thigh, he said. The attack came as fierce clashes between Shiite Mahdi Army militiamen and the U.S.-backed Iraqi security forces spiraled in several southern Iraqi cities in addition to Baghdad.

#7: One U.S. soldier was killed after his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb on Sunday north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

Diyala Prv:Buhriz:#1: Elsewhere, unknown gunmen in a car attacked a checkpoint manned by U.S.-backed Sunni fighters near Buhriz, about 35 miles north of Baghdad, police said. Four of the fighters were killed.Balad

Ruz:#1: Around 7 am, a roadside bomb targeted a lorry at Balad Ruz (40 km east Baquba) killing its driver.

Muqdadiysh:#1: Around 10:45 am, a roadside bomb targeted the vice governor’s convoy at Moqdadiyah (40 km east Baquba).Two of his guards were killed in that incident who were Iraqi policemen.

Latifiya:#1: Six handcuffed and blindfolded bodies were found with gunshot wounds in a deserted area near Latifiya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.

Basra:#1: In Basra, Mahdi Army militants fought to keep their strongholds but were overrun by an Iraqi Security Force in the eastern neighborhood of Tanuma. U.S. and British aircraft conducted four air strikes in the city, the U.S. military said. In downtown Basra in the area of al Timimiyah, Iraqi forces surrounded the neighborhood as coalition aircraft struck Sunday morning, residents said.Sami al-Askari also said most of Basra, where the government attempted to crack down on militia fighters, was "under control" a day after Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr took his Mahdi Army off the streets.

#2: Residents buried their dead and swept rubble from the streets after quiet returned to the southern Iraqi city of Basra on Monday. Life slowly returned to normal in Basra where Sadr's masked Mehdi Army militia fighters were no longer to be seen openly brandishing weapons in the street as they had for days. "We have control of the towns around Basra and also inside the city. There are no clashes anywhere in Basra. Now we are dismantling roadside bombs," said Major-General Mohammed Jawan Huweidi, commander of the Iraqi Army's 14th division. Shops were beginning to reopen, some for the first time in a week. Authorities said schools would reopen on Tuesday. Residents hosed down the hulks of burnt-out cars. Others drove with coffins in their trunks carrying the unburied dead.

Balad:#1: Gunmen killed six Iraqi policemen on Sunday in an ambush on their patrol northeast of Balad, 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

Mosul:#1: Two gunmen were killed on Sunday and another was wounded by U.S. helicopter fire in Mosul city, while police forces there released a kidnapped citizen and wounded two armed men, official spokesperson of Ninawa Police Operations Command said. "One gunman was killed and another was wounded when a U.S. helicopter opened fire on one of the streets in al-Wahda neighborhood, southeast of Mosul," Brigadier Khalid Abdul-Sattar told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq.

#2: Unknown gunmen on Sunday kidnapped a brother of former minister of Human Rights in Mosul, northern Iraq, A Ninewa police source said. "Unknown gunmen abducted a brother of former minister of Human Rights Zuhir al-Chalabi in 17 July district, western Mosul", A Ninewa police source, who requested anonmity, told Aswat al-Iraq-Voices of Iraq.

Al Anbar Prv:#1: One U.S. soldier was killed after his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb on Sunday in Anbar province, western Iraq, the U.S. military said.

Fallujah:#1: One civilian was wounded when an improvised explosive device went off near an Iraqi army patrol in central Falluja city on Monday, police said. "A roadside IED planted in al-Dhbbat neighborhood, central Falluja, went off on Monday near an Iraqi army patrol, wounding one civilian nearby," a security source, who asked not to have his name mentioned, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq.

#2: Around 8:30 am, a bicycle bomb which was parked near Al-Khulafa mosque targeted one of the Falluja governing council members’ car downtown the city. One person was killed in that incident who had bought the car from the governing member yesterday. Also four people were injured in that incident.

Afghanistan:#1: A blast struck a NATO patrol in southern Afghanistan, killing two British soldiers, officials said Monday. The British troops were airlifted to a military hospital after they were caught in the explosion during a routine patrol Sunday, NATO said in a statement. Both died at the hospital of their injuries.

#2: In neighboring Kandahar province, a roadside bomb hit a car carrying Afghan private security guards protecting a road construction crew in Zhari district on Monday, killing three guards, said district chief Niyaz Mohammad Sarhadi.

#3: The Spanish Defence ministry confirmed yesterday that a Spanish patrol from the Qala i Naw Provincial Reconstruction Team came under fire at around 1am local time yesterday lunchtime near Moqur. The Spanish troops were taking part in a joint reconnaissance mission with Afghan police when they were attacked by a gang of unidentified individuals, who soon ran off when their fire was returned. There were no casualties and given that the troop carrier was also undamaged, the patrol completed its mission before returning to base, the Defence ministry spokesman went on to explain.

#4: Three Dutch soldiers from NATO-led forces in Afghanistan were hospitalized on Sunday after their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device near the town of Tarin Kowt, the Defence Ministry said. One soldier lost both his legs in the explosion and his condition was critical, the ministry said in a statement posted on its Web site.Dutch soldiers serving with Nato forces in Afghanistan were involved in two separate roadside bomb attacks on Sunday, leaving five wounded, the defence ministry said. In the first incident three people were wounded driving over a bomb while patrolling near Tarin Kowt. One man, who lost both legs in the blast, is said to be in a critical condition. The second attack came seven hours later, leaving two soldiers injured. The defence ministry said they are in a stable condition.

#5: Around 150 Norwegian soldiers and 50 Latvian soldiers were in the base when it came under attack around 4am Norwegian time. None of the rockets hit the base at Meymaneh, and no injuries were reported, Lt Colonel Jon Inge Øglænd told All personnel were evacuated into the base's bomb shelter for two hours, said Petter Lindqvist of the defense ministry. It wasn't clear who was behind the attack or what type of rockets were used.

#6: Four New Zealand soldiers in Afghanistan were fortunate to escape without injury after a roadside device exploded next to their patrol vehicle today. A four-vehicle New Zealand Defence Force patrol from the provincial reconstruction team (PRT) was travelling to a village near the border of the Baghlan province with a doctor to set up a mobile medical clinic. An improvised explosive device (IED) went off beside one of the vehicles, damaging the front and smashing the windscreen, but no shrapnel reached the four occupants.


The ruling class in Iraq need the U.S. military to stay in power, or they will be tossed out by Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehadi Army.

This video explains in detail what is REALLY going on behnd the scenes in Iraq.


Residents Embittered by Politicians' Choices

By Sudarsan RaghavanWashington Post Foreign ServiceMonday, March 31, 2008; A16

BAGHDAD, March 30 -- The mortar shells sailed across the sky Sunday evening and ripped through the corrugated tin roof of the barbershop. They shattered brick walls, mangled beams and knocked over leather chairs. Smoke, debris and glass covered the street outside.

There was blood on Abu Ghadeer's shirt. He had pulled out of the wreckage a boy who had come for a haircut but instead received a body full of shrapnel. Twenty minutes later, after an ambulance had taken the boy away, Abu Ghadeer struggled to understand.

"A week ago, life was good," he said. "Now, nobody knows what will happen."

For Iraqis, widespread clashes this past week have exposed their nation's brittleness. After months of relative calm and declining violence, many people were locking themselves inside their homes and shops again as Shiite gunmen battled U.S. and Iraqi forces. Curfews restricted their movement, yet they were still unable to escape the mortar and rocket fire.

In Baghdad's Karrada neighborhood Sunday, the despair was palpable. In alleyways and storefronts, people spoke about their frustration and dread, and about the misguided politics they blamed for running Iraq into the ground. Many said they were worried not about sectarian conflict but about war erupting right in their community.

Karrada, a mostly Shite enclave that is considered one of the safest areas of the capital, is a stronghold of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Dawa party and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a powerful Shiite party that is part of the ruling coalition. Yet many Shiites here said the government's offensive in the port city of Basra, which sparked violence across southern Iraq and in Baghdad, showed that their politicians cared more about eradicating rivals than tending to the needs of their constituents.

"Every political party wants to control the situation and to be on top," said Adnan Radhi, 60, a municipal employee in Baghdad. "And the people are paying the price."

On Sunday, shortly before noon, Radhi and two friends sat in a grimy alley near Karrada's main commercial road. People walked past carrying bags of bread, and old women begged for food. A round-the-clock traffic ban was in place, leaving only police vehicles on the road. Piles of trash lay everywhere.


While the stupid media in the United States continues the non-stop assault on driving a racial wedge between Americans, this is what is happening to our young men and women in Iraq.

It absolutely sickems me how the media has turned the race for the White House into a display of their own RACISM.

Editorial comment by Bill Corcoran, editor of CORKSPHERE

FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, March 31

31 Mar 2008 10:18:51 GMT 31 Mar 2008 10:18:51 GMT Source: Reuters

March 31 (Reuters) - Following are security developments in Iraq at 1000 GMT on Monday.

BAGHDAD - Six mortar bombs hit the Green Zone in central Baghdad, police said.

NEAR BAQUBA - Four members of a U.S.-backed neighbourhood patrol were killed in clashes with al Qaeda militants south of Baquba, 65 km (42 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD - U.S. forces killed 25 gunmen in eastern Baghdad on Sunday, the U.S. military said.

ANBAR PROVINCE - One U.S. soldier was killed after his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb on Sunday in Anbar province, western Iraq, the U.S. military said.

BAGHDAD - One U.S. soldier was killed after his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb on Sunday north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

NEAR BALAD - Gunmen killed six Iraqi policemen on Sunday in an ambush on their patrol northeast of Balad, 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.


The cease-fire in Basra is holding with only sporadic fighting, but as has always been the case in Iraq the violence and turmoil just shifts to another target---this time it is again the Green Zone which has been bombarded Monday by mortars.

Green Zone hit by mortars
Attack is latest in series of assaults on fortified area housing U.S. embassy

updated 4:44 a.m. CT, Mon., March. 31, 2008

BAGHDAD - A mortar barrage hit Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses Iraq's government and the U.S. embassy, police said, a day after Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ordered his fighters to stand down.

The Green Zone has come under intense mortar and rocket attack over the past week as Mahdi Army fighters loyal to Sadr have battled Iraqi and U.S. security forces in the capital and in southern Iraq.

On Sunday al-Sadr ordered the Mahdi Army to stop fighting Iraqi security forces and to withdraw from the streets. But the cleric has previously acknowledged there are rogue elements within the militia that have disobeyed a truce he first called last year.

A siren wailed inside the U.S.-protected compound in central Baghdad and a recorded voice warned people to take cover amid the sound of explosions, Reuters witnesses said.

A dust storm enveloping the city made it difficult to see where the missiles were landing, but police said a volley of at least six mortars had hit the Green Zone. They had no details of any casualties.

A U.S. embassy spokesman was not immediately available for comment. The embassy has ordered staff in the zone to stay under cover where possible and wear body amour and helmets when in the open.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


It isn't often on TV anymore you get to see what our young fighting men and women are going through in Iraq, but this short video gives you an idea what it is like to be on patrol in an Iraqi city when you come under heavy fire. Look at the faces of these brave young warriors. They might have been your next door neighbor or maybe even a relative or a loved one.


The actual number of GIs killed in Iraq is 4,o10 accoreding to the Associated Press which is higher that what the Department of Defense is saying. The DoD puts the figure at 4,000.

Here is a list of countries engaged in the Iraq war and the deaths from each country:

US military deaths in Iraq at 4,010

By The Associated Press 2 hours, 25 minutes ago

As of Sunday, March 30, 2008, at least 4,010 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes eight military civilians. At least 3,261 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The AP count is 10 more than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Friday at 10 a.m. EDT.

The British military has reported 176 deaths;
Italy, 33;
Ukraine, 18;
Poland, 21;
Bulgaria, 13;
Spain, 11;
Denmark, seven;
El Salvador, five;
Slovakia, four;
Latvia, three;
Estonia, Netherlands, Thailand, Romania, two each;
and Australia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, South Korea, one death each.


For months and months, President Bush, Vice President Cheney and their puppet news outlet, FOX NEWS, have been promoting going to war with IRAN.

But now there is word a top Iranian General is the one who brokered the cease-fire between Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehadi militia and the insurgents in Basra.

Iranian general played key role in brokering Iraq cease-fire

Leila Fadel McClatchy Newspapers
last updated: March 30, 2008 10:25:48 PM

BAGHDAD — Iraqi lawmakers traveled to the Iranian holy city of Qom over the weekend to win the support of the commander of Iran's Qods brigades in persuading Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr to order his followers to stop military operations, members of the Iraqi parliament said.
Sadr ordered the halt on Sunday, and his Mahdi Army militia heeded the order in Baghdad, where the Iraqi government announced it would lift a 24-hour curfew starting early Monday in most parts of the capital.

But fighting continued in the oil hub of Basra, where a six-day-old government offensive against Shiite militias has had only limited gains.

So far, 488 people have been killed and more than 900 wounded in the offensive, Iraqi Interior Ministry officials said.

The backdrop to Sadr's dramatic statement was a secret trip Friday by Iraqi lawmakers to Qom, Iran's holy city and headquarters for the Iranian clergy who run the country.

There the Iraqi lawmakers held talks with Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Qods (Jerusalem) brigades of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps and signed an agreement with Sadr, which formed the basis of his statement Sunday, members of parliament said.

Click on link to read the rest of the story.


This video shows what it is like to be part of a medic evac team in Iraq assigned to the 86th Combat Hospital. The footage is intense, but something we feel people should see because the mainstream media in the United States has chosen to blot out all footage of the Iraq war and instead replace it with endless "talking heads," who have never seen a day of combat, going over and over what Hillary said or Obama said or what McCain is doing.

This video of a medic team in action tells the TRUE story of what is happening in Iraq, a story that unfortunately is not being told.


We are posting this video of enemy troops in combat in Iraq to give our readers an idea what it is our young men and women are fighting in Iraq. After viewing this video, you will be asking yourself why the mainstream media in the United States refuses to air video such as this so the American public can see the type of enemy we are fighting in Iraq.


We are publicizing this video with a warning that it is very graphic and shows the legacy of Bush's war on Iraq and what it has done to the children of Iraq. The scenes are heart-breaking and the footage of children begging in the streets of Baghdad is a gripping testimony to the war that Bush felt had to be waged to save the Iraqi nation. The video will tear your heart out, and at the same time it should make you furious with what Bush and his warmongers have done to Iraq. The children are always the innocent victims of any war and this video clearly depicts what has happened to many of the children of Iraq since Bush decided to invade and occupy Iraq. How did hurting these children like the U.S. has done make the U.S. safer? It hasn't and the video is a living testimony to Bush's War---a war that NEVER had to be fought.


If you were to watch FOX NEWS and the rest of the cable news media, you would get the idea that a cease-fire in Basra has brought the fighting to halt.

Don't be fooled.

There are still battles taking place in Basra, but the difference is the media has once again drawn a curtain down on what is taking place in the second largest city in Iraq.

March 30, 2008

Shiite Militias Cling to Swaths of Basra and Stage Raids


BAGHDAD — Shiite militiamen in Basra openly controlled wide swaths of the city on Saturday and staged increasingly bold raids on Iraqi government forces sent five days ago to wrest control from the gunmen, witnesses said, as Iraqi political leaders grew increasingly critical of the stalled assault.

Witnesses in Basra said members of the most powerful militia in the city, the Mahdi Army, were setting up checkpoints and controlling traffic in many places ringing the central district controlled by some of the 30,000 Iraqi Army and police forces involved in the assault. Fighters were regularly attacking the government forces, then quickly retreating.

Senior members of several political parties said the operation, ordered by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, had been poorly planned.

The growing discontent adds a new level of complication to the American-led effort to demonstrate that the Iraqi government had made strides toward being able to operate a functioning country and keep the peace without thousands of American troops.

Mr. Maliki has staked his reputation on the success of the Basra assault, fulfilling a longstanding American desire for him to boldly take on militias.

But as criticism of the assault has risen, it has brought into question another American benchmark of progress in Iraq: political reconciliation.

Security has suffered as well.

Since the Basra assault began Tuesday, violence has spread to Shiite districts of Baghdad and other places in Iraq where Shiite militiamen hold sway, raising fears that security gains often attributed to a yearlong American troop buildup could be at risk. Any widespread breakdown of a cease-fire called by Moktada al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric who founded the Mahdi Army, could bring the country back to the sectarian violence that strained it in 2006 and 2007.

“We don’t have to rush to military solutions,” said Nadeem al-Jabiri, a Parliament member from the Fadhila Party, a strong rival of Mr. Sadr’s party that would have been expected to back the operation, at least on political grounds. Instead of solving the problems in Basra, Mr. Jabiri said, Mr. Maliki “escalated the situation.”

For the third straight day, the American military was reported to be conducting airstrikes in support of Iraqi troops in Basra. Iraqi police officials reported that an American bombing run had killed eight civilians.

Go to link to read the rest of the New York Times article.


The Bush White House and their propaganda branch, FOX NEWS, are in full spin trying desperately to try and put the best face on the ongoing fighting in Iraq. The curfew on Baghdad will be lifted Monday morning and the Muqtada al-Sadr Mehadi militita has declared a cease-fire in Basra, but all of this could be just a smokescreen and a pause in the fighting until the insurgents and militias regroup and begin their next offensive.

Anyone who believes what Bush and FOX NEWS are saying about the war in Iraq are not only naive but they should be pitied.

ANALYSIS: Iraq fighting a reality check

By ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writer 32 minutes ago

The Iraqi capital locked down by curfew. U.S. diplomats holed up their workplaces, fearing rocket attacks. Nearly every major southern city racked by turmoil. Hundreds killed in less than a week.

A declaration Sunday by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to pull his Mahdi Army fighters off the streets may help bring an end to the wave of violence that swept Baghdad and Shiite areas after the government launched a crackdown against militias in Basra.

That will ease the violence which has claimed more than 300 lives. But it won't bring an end to the power struggle between Shiite parties that triggered the confrontation.

Nor will it ensure government control of Basra, Iraq's second-largest city and headquarters of the vital oil industry.

And it could leave Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki politically weakened because he put his prestige on the line with promises to crush Basra's "criminal gangs," some of which he said were "worse than al-Qaida."

The crackdown has already dragged the United States into a bloody inner-Shiite fight at a time when the U.S. administration would prefer to talk about success against Sunni extremists and to argue that Iraq is finally on the road to stability.

Instead, the bloody confrontation serves as a reality check about the situation in Iraq — even as the top U.S. officials in Baghdad prepare to brief a skeptical Congress for two days starting April 8 about prospects for bringing home the troops and leaving a relatively stable country behind.
President Bush called the Basra crisis "a defining moment" because the Maliki-led Iraqi government was finally taking on the Shiite militias.

But the crisis speaks volumes about the reality of Iraqi society and raises new questions about the effectiveness of the country's leadership as America debates whether continuing the mission here is worth the sacrifice.

Iraqi and American officials portrayed the crackdown as a move to crush outlaw militias — some with close ties to Iran — that have effectively ruled the streets of the country's second-largest city for nearly three years.

Many of those armed groups are without question deep into oil smuggling, extortion, murder and robbery.

But the picture is more complex. It involves deep-seated rivalries within the majority Shiite community.

Numerous other militias and armed groups operate in Basra and elsewhere in the south — some with close ties to political parties in the national and provincial governments.

All signs indicate that the crackdown was directed primarily at the Mahdi Army, the armed wing of al-Sadr's political movement.

The Sadrists believe the goal was to weaken their movement before provincial elections this fall. Al-Sadr's followers expect to make major gains in the regional voting at the expense of al-Maliki's Shiite partners in the government.

The headquarters of the Iraqi army's Basra operation has come under fire regularly since the fighting began. Iraqi commanders have had to turn to the British and American warplanes to take out militia fighters blocking their advance.

At least a dozen police, including some elite commandos, defected to the Sadrists in Baghdad. AP Television News video showed Mahdi fighters in Basra unloading weapons from an Iraqi army vehicle.

The vehicle didn't have a scratch on it, suggesting it was either abandoned by the Iraqi soldiers or delivered to the Mahdi Army.


General David Petraeus Petraeus reacted immediately to Sunday's rocket attacks on the Green Zone by blaming them on Iran.

He told the BBC the rockets were "Iranian provided, Iranian-made rockets", and that they were launched by groups that were funded and trained by the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Petraeus said this was "in complete violation of promises made by President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad and other most senior Iranian leaders to their Iraqi counterparts.

"Petraeus statement was clearly intended to divert attention from a development that threatens one of the two main pillars of the administration's claim of progress in Iraq -- the willingness of Sadr to restrain the Mahdi Army, even in the face of systematic raids on its leadership by the U.S. military and its Iraqi allies.

The rocket attacks appear to have been one of several actions by the Mahdi Army to warn the United States and the Iraqi government to halt their systematic raids aimed at driving the Sadrists out of key Shiite centers in the south. They were followed almost immediately by Mahdi Army clashes with rival Shiite militiamen in Basra, Sadr City and Kut and a call for a nationwide general strike to demand the release of Sadrist detainees.

Sadr Offensive Reveals Failure of Petraeus Strategy

By Gareth Porter, IPS NewsPosted on March 30, 2008, Printed on March 30, 2008

The escalation of fighting between Mahdi Army militiamen and their Shiite rivals, which could mark the end of Moqtada al-Sadr's self-imposed ceasefire, also exposes Gen. David Petraeus's strategy for controlling Sadr's forces as a failure.

Even more pointed was a strong warning from Sadr aide Abdul-Hadi al-Mohammedawi to the United States as well as to the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), whose Badr Organization militiamen, in the uniforms of Iraqi security forces, have targeted the Madhi Army throughout the south. "They don't seem to realise that the Sadrist trend is like a volcano," he told worshipers Friday in Kufa. "If it explodes, it will crush their rotten heads."

The signs that the Madhi Army will no longer remain passive mark a major defeat for the U.S. military command's strategy aimed at weakening the Mahdi Army.


Alive in Baghdad: Sewage problems persist in East Baghdad


We show this segment courtesy of Alive in Baghdad employs Iraqi journalists to produce video packages each week about a variety of topics on daily life in Iraq.
Baghdad, Iraq - Shama’iya - The Shama’iya district is in far east Baghdad, although considered a part of the capital, the sprawling metropolis is perhaps more accurately seen as a series of boroughs than one contiguous city.

Shama’iya is a relatively new district, and, strangely in the crisis-ridden capital, has been relatively calm since the beginning of the invasion. Shama’iya is the home of a large mental hospital, and perhaps the only noteworthy element of the district for many Baghdadis.
To Shama’iya residents, the most noteworthy element is the ever-present sewage water polluting the streets, filling some roads nearly completely. Although you might not know it on first glance, Shama’iya is not simply a neighborhood of the poor and indigent, forgotten by the capital and municipal government. Shama’iya is the home of doctors, engineers, and journalists, as well as more “mundane” peoples.

Iraq is undergoing a cholera epidemic, exacerbated by the failing sewer system in the capital and excess of stagnant sewage polluting Baghdad and much of the rest of the country. While security may be improving, there seems to be little movement to improve access to basic necessities such as clean water and electricity.

Despite being a calm district, which its residents claim has seen no major disasters, terrorist attacks, or other traumatic events, the Baghdad and 9th April Municipalities claim they cannot assist the residents in repairing the broken sewer system due to security concerns.

The residents themselves told Alive in Baghdad the issues are due more to corruption and waste than any actual security issues at hand. While the government fails to rebuild even the calm districts, its left to question how more restive areas can ever hope to get back on their feet.