Vehicle ban set for Baghdad
It's aimed at curbing violence on 5th anniversary of U.S. capture of city
The Associated Press
updated 11:33 a.m. CT, Tues., April. 8, 2008
BAGHDAD - The Baghdad military command said Tuesday that unauthorized vehicles and motorcycles will be banned in the capital from 5 a.m. to midnight Wednesday.
The vehicle ban is aimed at preventing violence on the fifth anniversary of the capture of Baghdad by U.S. troops about a month after the war started.
The decision was announced on Iraqi state TV and confirmed by an official in the military command spokesman's office, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to release the information.
The ban came as anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr demanded that the Iraqi government protect the public from "the booby traps and American militias" or he could formally end the freeze he imposed seven months ago on his Mahdi Army fighters.
The statement was circulated to the press and public as U.S. and Iraqi troops stepped up their pressure on Shiite militiamen in their Baghdad stronghold of Sadr City.
Al-Sadr also wants a timetable for the U.S. to leave Iraq. His cease-fire helped bring down violence but has been under severe strain since fighting broke out last month in Basra and Baghdad.
Hundreds of civilians have already fled Baghdad's Sadr City, where gunbattles have raged since last week. The neighborhood, the nerve center of al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army, has been under siege by about 1,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops.
Fighting broke out again early Tuesday morning after Iraqi units tried to enter the cleric’s stronghold, a police officer said.
The boom of explosions could be heard across much of Baghdad, apparently coming from the neighborhood in eastern Baghdad. Low-flying jets circled the center of the capital several hours before sunrise.
The two sides were using small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars in the ongoing combat, said the police officer, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information to the media.
Al-Sadr’s aides said Monday that he would only dismantle the powerful militia — estimated at up to 60,000 — if ordered by top Shiite clerics, who have remained silent throughout the increasingly dangerous showdown.
Worrisome backdrop to Petraeus reportIn Washington on Tuesday, the U.S. general commanding the Iraq war called for an open-ended suspension of U.S. troop withdrawals this summer, reflecting concern about a recent flare-up in violence and leaving open the possibility that few, if any, additional troops will be brought home before President Bush leaves office in January.
Gen. David Petraeus told a Senate hearing that he recommends a 45-day “period of consolidation and evaluation” once the extra combat forces that President Bush ordered to Iraq last year have completed their pullout in July. He did not commit to a timetable for resuming troop reductions after the 45-day pause.
An American soldier died Tuesday from wounds received in a roadside explosion. He was the 11th U.S. serviceman killed in Iraq since Sunday.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Vehicle ban set for Baghdad
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 4:21 PM
One more US soldier was killed Tuesday in Iraq bringing the total US deaths in the past 48 hours to eleven.
As U.S. officials briefed Congress on Iraq withdrawal plans, Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr warned that his Mahdi army will end their unilaterally imposed ceasefire and called off a peaceful demonstration scheduled for tomorrow, citing fears of more attacks.
Meanwhile, General Petreus has advised postponing the U.S. drawdown in troops. One American soldier was killed in Baghdad late yesterday. At least 22 Iraqis were also killed, and another 59 Iraqis were wounded in the latest violence.
Moqtada al-Sadr threatened to end a seven-month-long ceasefire if Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki does not stop targeting his followers. Recently, the al-Maliki government, under the guise of a security crackdown, failed to drive the Mahdi army out of Basra. Instead, violence erupted throughout southern Iraq and in Baghdad because al-Sadr's followers believed they were being unfairly targeted due to upcoming elections.
Although the Mahdi army was under a unilaterally imposed ceasefire at the time, al-Sadr has allowed his followers to defend themselves against attacks. This ceasefire has dramatically reduced the amount of violence, but if it ends, the results could be catastrophic as violence returns to levels unseen since last summer.
Al-Sadr may be justified in calling off his million-strong march due to security concerns. Iraqi forces are reportedly preventing followers from entering Baghdad. The cleric believes they may be further targeted for violence by Iraqi troops during the peaceful demonstration.
In Baghdad, about 1,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops are besieging the poverty stricken suburb of Sadr City, which is a Mahdi army stronghold. At least 15 civilians have been wounded there and in other neighborhoods, and many have fled the area. In Zayouna, nine people were wounded during a roadside bombing. Six people were wounded during a roadside bombing in al-Shabb.
Six people were killed and 10 others were wounded near Balad Ruz, when a roadside bomb blasted their minibus.
Meanwhile across Iraq chaos and violence continues while Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker continue to "spin" how well things are going in Iraq.
In Tuz Khormato, 16 people were wounded during a roadside bombing.
An Awakening Council (Sahwa) member and his three sons were gunned down in Baquba.
An IED in al-Rubaiaa killed one person and wounded two others.
Clashes broke out in al-Hadar. The mayor's wife was killed.
In Mosul, an explosion left one woman injured.
Ten suspects were killed last week in Basra.
Iraqi security arrested 70 suspects across Iraq.
An Islamic State In Iraq leader was detained.
Iraqi forces clashed with smugglers in Ras al-Bisha. Two Arab nationals were arrested.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 3:00 PM
Even After Listening To ‘Rousing’ Cheney Speech, Troops Back Pro-Withdrawal Candidates»
Last month, Vice President Dick Cheney visited Iraq, where he vowed the U.S. would keep “a long-term military presence in Iraq until al-Qaida is defeated” there. The same day, a bomb killed two American soldiers outside of Bagdad, and a suicide bomber killed 43 Iraqis in Karbala.
Just after his visit, ABC correspondent Martha Raddatz spoke with soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan about their political preferences, and found that most of the soldiers she spoke to favored candidates who supported withdrawal from Iraq:
Only moments before speaking with ABC News, the troops had been listening to Vice President Dick Cheney give a rousing speech, but it didn’t change their political preference. […]
Though the military is generally a more conservative group, soldiers like Sgt. Justin Sarbaum are just as eager for a pull-out as the Democratic candidates. Sarbaum said he wondered which presidential candidate would be able to better the U.S. relationship with rogue nations, such as Iran, so that soldiers are not sent off to another war.
Watch Raddatz’s report: http://thinkprogress.org/2008/04/08/troops-want-withdrawal/
One soldier, Spc. Imus Loto, explained he supported the presidential candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) because of his plan to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq:
REPORTER: But he [Obama] wants to pull out of Iraq.
LOTO: Pull me out too.
In 2006, 72 percent of U.S. soldiers favored withdrawal within one year. Apparently, all Cheney has to say to them now is, “So?“
UpdatePrivate First Class Jeremy Slate had a "so" of his own to offer:
RADDATZ: He wants to pull out of Iraq right away. SLATE: Yes, so?RADDATZ: You do, too?SLATE: Well, that would be nice. I'd like to be home.Yes.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 1:46 PM
Iraq: Who fired on the Green Zone?
Joost Hiltermann: Not clear where weapons are coming from
Tuesday April 8th, 2008
Joost Hiltermann is the Deputy Program Director, Middle East and North Africa for the International Crisis Group. He writes policy-focused reports on the factors that increase the risk of and drive armed conflict. His specialty is the crisis in Iraq.Iraq: Who fired on the Green Zone?
For a better understanding of this complex issue of who is firing rockets and mortars into the Green Zone, this Real News Network video provides a unique perspective.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 1:02 PM
WHILE PETRAEUS WAS TESTIFYING THESE GI DEATHS AND ACTS OF VIOLENCE WERE TAKING PLACE IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN
While General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker were smooth-talking Congress and the American people on the future of Iraq, the following deaths and injuries were taking place to US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Editiorial comment: The hearing has been a total waste of time. No wonder EVEN C-Span cut away from the hearings to go to other political affairs.
Editor: BILL CORCORAN editor of CORKSPHERE
Not ONE Senator, Democrat or Republican, mentioned ALL THIS THAT WAS HAPPENING IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN ON TUESDAY WHILE THEY WERE BLABBING AWAY
MNF-Iraq is reporting the death of a Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldier in a roadside bombing and small-arms fire in an eastern neighborhood of Baghdad on Monday, April 7th. No other details were released.
MNF-Iraq is reporting the deaths of two Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldier in a rocket-propelled grenade attack (in Baghdad?) on Tuesday, April 7th. No other details or location were given.
MNF-Iraq is reporting the death of a Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldier in a roadside bombing (in Baghdad?) on Tuesday, April 7th. No other details or location were given.NATO is reporting the death of an ISAF soldier in an explosion in Ghazni province, Afghanistan on Tuesday, April 8th.
One additional soldier was wounded in the blast. No other details were released and we assume this to be an American soldier.
Marine Jeremy Stengel, 22, lost his leg after combat injury in Iraq in February 2007 while on a sweep for improvisedexplosive devices.
Luke Cassidy gave his heart and soul to his country as a Marine and police officer. Nine days after arriving in Al Ramadi in 2004, an improvised explosive device detonated beneath the vehicle Cassidy was driving. The explosion broke his legs, shattered his heels and tore off the big toe of his right foot. An insurgent also shot him in the right calf, he said. "Ten to 15 days later, after about 10 surgeries, the doctors gave me a choice," said Cassidy, 33, who received an honorable discharge as a Marine Corps Reserve staff sergeant. "I could either have my left leg below my knee amputated, or I could keep it and continue fighting infections, have it 3 inches shorter than my other leg and limp the rest of my life. It was not a hard decision."
Cpl Stuart Hale lost a leg in Afghanistan. The former sniper lost his left leg in 2006 to a land mine which killed one comrade and injured four others in Helmand province.
Security incidents:Baghdad:#1: Iraqi government forces and the Mahdi Army clashed anew Tuesday in Baghdad. Fighting broke out again early Tuesday morning after Iraqi units tried to enter the cleric's stronghold, a police officer said. The boom of explosions could be heard across much of Baghdad, apparently coming from the neighborhood in eastern Baghdad. Low-flying jets circled the center of the capital several hours before sunrise. The two sides were using small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars in the ongoing combat, said the police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information to the media.Fifteen civilians have been injured in the clashes, he said.Eight people were wounded in clashes in Sadr City on Tuesday and another seven people were wounded in other districts of eastern Baghdad, police said.Hospital sources in the eastern Baghdad slum of Sadr City said fighting on Tuesday had killed three and wounded 52.
#2: The two main hospitals in Sadr City, eastern Baghdad, received 12 wounded on Tuesday, hospital officials said. On Monday the hospitals received seven dead people and 143 wounded.
#3: Meanwhile, security forces were reported to be blocking al-Sadr's supporters from traveling to Baghdad from outlying areas to attend an anti-U.S. rally scheduled for Wednesday. Al-Sadr called for the protest to mark the fifth anniversary of the capture of Baghdad by U.S. troops nearly a month after the war started, but many observers see it as a show of force in his confrontation with the government.Aides to Muqtada al-Sadr say the anti-American Shiite cleric is calling off a mass rally in Baghdad Wednesday. Two aides in al-Sadr's office in the holy city of Najaf told The Associated Press that the rally had been canceled. They spoke on condition of anonymity pending an official announcement.
#4: Hundreds of civilians have already fled Sadr City, where gunbattles have raged since last week. The sprawling district of some 2.5 million people, the nerve center of al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, has been under siege by about 1,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops.
#5: A roadside bomb wounded three policemen, two traffic policemen and four civilians on Tuesday in the Zayouna district, in eastern Baghdad, police said.
#6: Six people, including two bomb squad personnel, were wounded while defusing an improvised explosive device (IED) in eastern Baghdad on Tuesday, an Iraqi police source said."The blast, which occurred near the al-Shaab playground, eastern Baghdad, wounded six people, including two explosives experts," the source, who refused to be named, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq. The same source earlier said that four people, including two bomb squad personnel, were wounded while defusing the explosive charge.
#7: Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr threatened on Tuesday to end a ceasefire he imposed on his militia last August, raising the prospect of further violence just as top U.S. officials get set to testify on Iraq's progress.
#8: Four mortar shells hit the Green Zone in downtown Baghdad around 9:00 A.m.
#9: Three mortar shells hit the building of Jawiyah club (air force club) in Palestine Street in east Baghdad around 12:00 p.m. No casualties reported.
#10: update Five New Hampshire National Guard soldiers police have been wounded during an attack on their base in Baghdad. The National Guard says four of the military police officers from the 237th Military Police Company were treated and are back on duty. Guard spokesman Sgt. Michael Daigle says the fifth is in the hospital in Iraq and doing well. The attack on Sunday killed a North Carolina National Guard soldier and wounded nine others. The National Guard says the soldiers were hit during mortar or rocket attacks on their base.
#11: U.S. military fired four Hellfire missiles at gunmen and mortar crews in Sadr City in three separate air strikes on Tuesday, killing an estimated 12 gunmen, Lieutenant-Colonel Steven Stover said.
Diyala Prv:Baquba:#1: Unidentified gunmen attacked early Tuesday the home of a Sunni tribal leader working with the U.S.-sponsored Awakening Council killing him and his three sons, Iraqi police said. Police said the man, whose name was not given, was active in the Awakening Council in the Sunni-dominated area around the town of Baqouba, 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Baghdad.
Balad Ruz:#1: Iraqi police say a roadside bomb has struck a minibus northeast of Baghdad, killing at least six civilians and wounding 10. Officials in the Diyala provincial police center say the blast struck morning commuters in the Dahalkah area on the outskirts of the religiously mixed city of Balad Ruz. The officials say the six killed in Tuesday's blast included four children and two women. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information.Five others were also wounded in the blast, including four children and a woman, Major Karkhi added.
Basra:#1: update Two senior army officers were wounded when a roadside bomb went off near an Iraqi army convoy in northern Basra, an Iraqi army source said on Monday. “Brigadier Wessam Mahdi, commander of the 2nd brigade of the 14th division, and Colonel Fadel Ouda, an intelligence officer, were wounded in a bomb explosion on al-Kazeeza bridge in northern Basra,” the source, who requested anonymity, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Irar. “Colonel Fadel’s injuries were serious and he was rushed to Baghdad for treatment,” he added.Tuz Khurmato:#1: A roadside bomb wounded 16 people in a commercial area in Tuz Khurmato, 180 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.
Hadhar:#1: Gunmen attacked the house of al-Hadhar local mayor, killing his wife on Monday in al-Hadhar, 280 km (175 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.
Mosul:#1: An improvised explosive device (IED) went off inside a shop in al-Hai al-Sinaie neighborhood, Rubaiaa district, (120 km) west of Mosul, killing one civilian and wounding two others," Brig. Khaled Abdul-Sattar told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq.
#2: South of Mosul, Abdul-Sattar said, clashes with light and medium weapons broke out on Monday evening between unidentified gunmen and the bodyguards of the al-Hadar mayor, Ali Saleh Mady, near his home. Mady's wife was killed in the clashes.
Afghanistan:#1: Taliban militants killed two police officers and wounded another at a checkpoint in western Afghanistan, an official said Tuesday. Rauf Ahmadi, spokesman for the western region police, said the militants attacked the police checkpoint Monday in the Shindand district of Herat province.
#2: Also in Shindand, eight people were killed Tuesday morning during a six-hour gunbattle between two tribes, Ahmadi said.
#3: A soldier from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was killed and the other was injured in an explosion Tuesday in central Afghanistan's Ghazni province, an ISAF statement released here said. "An ISAF soldier died of wounds and one was injured as a result of an explosion during a patrol in Ghazni province," said the statement.
#4: A government spokesman says militants have killed 17 Afghan road workers in the country's south. Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary says insurgents attacked the road construction crew Tuesday morning in Zabul province. Sixteen other workers have been wounded. Bashary says Afghan and international security forces killed seven militants and wounded 12 in an ensuing firefight.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 12:11 PM
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The top U.S. military commander in Iraq testified Tuesday that troop levels there should return to "pre-surge" levels this summer, but the military should gauge conditions before making further decisions.
There has been "significant but uneven progress," Petraeus said, but recent violence shows the progress is "fragile and reversible." "The situation in certain areas is still unsatisfactory and innumerable challenges remain," he said.
After the 20,000 troops sent during last year's surge are withdrawn, by July, the military should wait 45 days before deciding on more reductions, Gen. David Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"This approach does not allow establishment of a set withdrawal timetable," he said. "However, it does provide the flexibility those of us on the ground need to preserve the still fragile security gains our troopers have fought so hard and sacrificed so much to achieve."
Petraeus said the surge of U.S. troops last year and the incorporation of Iraqi citizens' security groups have yielded results. Both efforts have helped reduce "the areas where al Qaeda enjoys support."
"Iraq has also conducted a surge, adding well over 100,000 additional soldiers and police to the ranks of its security forces in 2007 and slowly increasing its capability to deploy and employ these forces," Petraeus said.
Recent military operations in the southern city of Basra demonstrate that Iraqi forces can do things today that would have been impossible a year ago, the general said. Watch as Petraeus describes innumerable challenges »
Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, who testified alongside Petraeus, said Iraqis have shown progress on the political front as well, with parliament -- previously paralyzed by infighting -- passing legislation that advances "reconciliation and nation building."
Both men warned that with al Qaeda in Iraq retreating -- though not yet defeated -- Iran is the most likely force to derail the country's tenuous stability. See military charts showing violence levels »
The flow of insurgents through Syria -- while reduced to a degree -- also exacerbates problems in Iraq, as do "insufficient Iraqi governmental capacity, lingering sectarian mistrust and corruption," Petraeus said.
The Islamic republic is "funding, training, arming and directing the so-called special groups," which left unchecked, "pose the greatest long-term threat to the viability of a democratic Iraq," he said. See the charts the general used to make his case -- PDF
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 11:41 AM
Bomb blast kills six, wounds five in Diala
Diala - Voices of Iraq
Tuesday , 08 /04 /2008 Time 3:14:55
Diala, Apr 8, (VOI)- Four children and two women were killed and five more civilians were wounded on Tuesday when a roadside bomb exploded near a minibus in Diala province, central Iraq, a police source said.
“An explosive charge exploded near a minibus in al-Dihaldah village, this morning, killing four children and two women who were onboard,” the source, who asked not to be named, told Aswat al-Iraq- Voices of Iraq- (VOI).The source added that the explosion also wounded one more woman and four children.Diala is 57 km northeast of Baghdad.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 7:24 AM
The children of Iraq are the innocent victims of the United States invasion and occupation of Iraq. Today, General Petraeus will attempt to explain to Congress and the American people this was all worth it.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 7:13 AM
They work tirelessly to save the lives of our injured soldiers and Marines. They are members of the 399th Combat Support Hospital and this is their story. A fitting day for a story like this to be told when General Petraeus is appearing before Congress to tell members of Congress that the "surge" is working....Is it really, General?
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 6:59 AM
This video depicts the work of the 86th Combat Support Hospital staff in Iraq and is appropriate for a day when General David Petraeus will be appearing before Congress to say all of this was worth it.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 6:53 AM
This CNN video captures what it is like inside a combat hospital in Iraq. We are posting this today because General David Petraeus will be appearing before Congress to explain that all these injuries were worth it. Graphic content:
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 6:47 AM
As many of you watch General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker "spin" the Iraq war today before Congress, take a moment and watch this video on the Fifth Anniversary of the War and ask yourself this question: "Was this war really necessary?"
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 6:35 AM
BAQUBA, Apr 7 (IPS) - Battles between rival Shia groups have spread from Basra in the south to Baquba in the north.
Shia Battles Spread to Baquba
Inter Press ServiceBy Ahmed Ali and Dahr Jamail*
Clashes between the Mehdi Army of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and the Badr Organisation militia of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) have been reported in the predominantly Shia district of Hwaider in Baquba, the capital city of Diyala province located 40 km northeast of Baghdad.
The fighting for control of Baquba has left at least seven dead and several more wounded, according to local doctors.
"Police chief Ghanim al-Qureyshi gave orders to control the fighting in this district very secretly," a policeman in the 2nd battalion told IPS on condition of anonymity. "The 2nd battalion of Iraqi police moved to Hwaider, whose people witnessed severe military clashes between the Mehdi Army and police."
The policeman said that U.S. jets and helicopters launched attacks to target Mehdi Army fighters. But rather than Mehdi Army members, two policemen were wounded, he said. "After that, U.S. troops stormed houses to search for the Mehdi militants." The policeman and two others said politicians from Diyala province attempted to conceal the incident.
"A big verbal quarrel took place (in the governor's office) between al-Qureyshi, who is a Badr (Organisation) member, and followers of Sadr," a second policeman said. "The Sadrists accused Qureyshi of targeting the Mehdi, and the governor tried to end the conflict."
Many in Baquba believe the root of the conflict is control of money and power in the province ahead of elections slated for October. They say this was behind the recent attempt of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to take control of Basra, an attempt that failed miserably.
"All the fighting is for money," Haider Abu Ali, a resident of Baquba told IPS. "These councils are money factories. Millions of dollars can be stolen through them, and this is why Iraq has turned from bad to worse."
(*Ahmed, our correspondent in Iraq's Diyala province, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, our U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who travels extensively in the region)
Click on link to read full story.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 5:59 AM
Will General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker just blow smoke again as they did the last time they appeared before Congress to talk about conditions in Iraq.
The facts are Iraq is a total mess---a quagmire---that only keeps getting worse every single day of the week.
President Bush, John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Joe Lieberman and, of course, FOX NEWS are delusional in their assessment of how events are unfolding in Iraq.
Ten US soldiers were KILLED in the past two days in Iraq and close to 500 Iraqis have been KILLED.
How can anyone in their right mind claim things are getting better in Iraq?
Editorial comment by BILL CORCORAN, editor of CORKSPHERE
Stephen Farrell and James Glanz of the New York Times estimate that at least 1,000 Iraqi soldiers and policemen, or more than 4% of the force sent into Basra, "abandoned their posts" during the fighting, including "dozens of officers" and "at least two senior field commanders."
Other pieces offer even more devastating numbers. For instance, Sudarsan Raghavan and Ernesto Londoo of the Washington Post suggest that 30% of government troops had "abandoned the fight before a cease-fire was reached."
Don't Betray Us, General: Admit That Iraq Keeps Getting Worse, And That The Surge Failed
By Tom Engelhardt, TheNation.comPosted on April 8, 2008, Printed on April 8, 2008
Tina Susman of the Los Angeles Times offers 50% as an estimate for police desertions in the midst of battle in Baghdad's vast Sadr City slum, a stronghold of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia.
In other words, after years of intensive training by American advisors and an investment of $22 billion dollars, US military spokesmen are once again left trying to put the best face on a strategic disaster (from which they were rescued thanks to negotiations between Muqtada al-Sadr and advisors to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, brokered in Iran by General Qassem Suleimani, a man on the U.S. Treasury Department's terrorist watch list). Think irony. "From what we understand," goes the lame American explanation, "the bulk of these [deserters] were from fairly fresh troops who had only just gotten out of basic training and were probably pushed into the fight too soon."
This week, with surge commander General David Petraeus back from Baghdad's ever redder, ever more dangerous "Green Zone," here are a few realities to keep in mind as he testifies before Congress:
1. The situation in Iraq is getting worse: Don't believe anyone who says otherwise. The surge-ified, "less violent" Iraq the general has presided over so confidently is, in fact, a chaotic, violent tinderbox of city states, proliferating militias armed to the teeth, competing regions armed to the teeth, and competing religious factions armed to the teeth. Worse yet, under Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, the U.S. has been the great proliferator. It has armed and funded close to 100,000 Sunnis organized into militias reportedly intent on someday destroying "the Iranians" (i.e. the Maliki government). It has also supported Shiite militias (aka the Iraqi army). In Basra, it took sides in a churning Shiite civil war. As Nir Rosen summed matters up in a typically brilliant piece in the Nation, Baghdad today is but a set of "fiefdoms run by warlords and militiamen," a pattern the rest of the country emulates.
"The Bush administration," he adds, "and the U.S. military have stopped talking of Iraq as a grand project of nation-building, and the U.S. media have dutifully done the same." Meanwhile, in the little noticed north, an Arab/Kurdish civil war over the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, and possibly Mosul as well, is brewing. This, reports Pepe Escobar of Asia Times, could be explosive. Think nightmare.
2. The Bush administration has no learning curve. Its top officials are unable to absorb the realities of Iraq (or the region) and so, like the generals of World War I, simply send their soldiers surging "over the top" again and again, with minor changes in tactics, to the same dismal end. Time.com's Tony Karon, at his Rootless Cosmopolitan blog, caught this phenomenon strikingly, writing that Maliki's failed offensive "shared the fate of pretty much every similar initiative by the Bush Administration and its allies and proxies since the onset of the 'war on terror.'"
3. The "success" of the surge was always an expensive illusion, essentially a Ponzi scheme, for which payment will someday come due. To buy time for its war at home, the Bush administration put out IOUs in Iraq to be paid in future chaos and violence. It now hopes to slip out of office before these fully come due.
4. A second hidden surge, not likely to be discussed in the hearings this week, is now under way. U.S. air reinforcements, sent into Iraq over the last year, are increasingly being brought to bear. There will be hell to pay for this, too, in the future.
5. A reasonably undertaken but speedy total withdrawal from Iraq is the only way out of this morass (and, at this late date, it won't be pretty); yet such a proposal isn't even on the table in Washington. In fact, as McClatchy's Warren Strobel and Nancy Youssef report, disaster in Basra has "silenced talk at the Pentagon of further U.S. troop withdrawals any time soon."
Since April 2003, each administration misstep in Iraq has only led to worse missteps. Unfortunately, little of this will be apparent in this week's shadowboxing among Washington's "best and brightest," who will again plunge into a "debate" filled with coded words, peppered with absurd fantasies, and rife with American symbolism that only an expert like professor of religion Ira Chernus is likely to decipher. "It's time," he writes, while considering the upcoming Petraeus testimony, "to insist that war should be seen not through the lens of myth and symbol, but as the brutal, self-defeating reality it is."
Tom Engelhardt, editor of Tomdispatch.com, is co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The End of Victory Culture.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 5:35 AM
FOX NEWS' Jennifer Griffen reported on Brit Hume's "Special Report" Monday night that Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army was giving up, but just the opposite is true. Fierce fighting has broke out Tuesday and is expected to continue as General Petraeus appears before Congress. The FOX NEWS report was based on what the Pentagon was telling Griffen and she should know better than to trust what the Pentagon is saying about the course of events in the war.
Iraqi army, al-Sadr's militiamen clash
By SINAN SALAHEDDIN, Associated Press Writer 21 minutes ago
BAGHDAD - Iraqi government forces and the Mahdi Army clashed anew Tuesday in Baghdad despite a government ultimatum to anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to either disband his militia or give up politics.
Hundreds of civilians have already fled Sadr City, where gunbattles have raged since last week. The neighborhood, the nerve center of al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, has been under siege by about 1,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops.
Fighting broke out again early Tuesday morning after Iraqi units tried to enter the cleric's stronghold, a police officer said.
The boom of explosions could be heard across much of Baghdad, apparently coming from the neighborhood in eastern Baghdad. Low-flying jets circled the center of the capital several hours before sunrise.
The two sides were using small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars in the ongoing combat, said the police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information to the media.
Al-Sadr's aides said Monday that he would only dismantle the powerful militia — estimated at up to 60,000 — if ordered by top Shiite clerics — who have remained silent throughout the increasingly dangerous showdown.
The fighting comes as Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, prepared to testify later Tuesday on the war.
He was expected to tell two Senate committees that last year's influx of 30,000 troops to Iraq had helped calm some of the sectarian violence but that to prevent a backslide in security, troops would likely be needed in large numbers through the end of the year.
An American soldier died Tuesday from wounds received in a roadside explosion. He was the 11th U.S. serviceman killed in Iraq since Sunday.
The rapid tumble back to street battles in Baghdad — at an intensity not seen since last year's flood of U.S. troops into the city — is a worrisome backdrop to the planned appearance before Congress by Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker to report on progress in Iraq.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 4:22 AM
The Department of Defense has released some of the names and hometowns of the latest casualties from the war in Iraq.
They come on the same day General David Petraeus will be appearing before Congress in an attempt to tell Congress and the nation how well things are going in Iraq.
Click on part in "BLUE" to read further details on each soldier's death.
U.S. Deaths Confirmed By The DoD:
Reported U.S. Deaths Pending DoD Confirmation:
DoD Confirmation List
Latest Coalition Fatality: Apr 07, 2008
04/07/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (2 of 2)
Capt. Ulises Burgos-Cruz, 29, of Puerto Rico, who was assigned to the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan...died April 6 in Balad, Iraq, when their vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device.
04/07/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (1 of 2)
Spc. Matthew T. Morris, 23, of Cedar Park, Texas, who was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas... died April 6 in Balad, Iraq, when their vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device.
04/07/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Pfc. Shane D. Penley, 19, of Sauk Village, Ill., died April 6 at Patrol Base Copper, Iraq, from wounds suffered while on duty at a guard post. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team...
04/07/08 MNF: MND-B Soldiers attacked by RPG (Baghdad)
Two Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers were killed in a rocket-propelled grenade attack at approximately 6 p.m. April 7.
04/07/08 MNF: MND-B Soldier attacked by small-arms fire
A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier was killed as the result of small-arms fire after the vehicle he was traveling in was struck by an improvised explosive device while on patrol in eastern Baghdad April 7.
04/07/08 MNF: Update - Coalition Force Soldiers attacked in Diyala
A second Multi-National Division – North Soldier has died from wounds sustained in an IED attack in Diyala Province during convoy operations April 6. One Soldier was killed as previously reported and four others were wounded in the attack.
04/07/08 MNF: MND-B Soldier attacked by IED
A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier was killed by an improvised-explosive device during a route-clearing patrol in eastern Baghdad April 6.
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 4:00 AM
MSNBC AND WASHINGTON POST REPORTS: RIFT WIDENS BETWEEN IRAQ'S SHIITES ON DAY PETRAEUS GOES BEFORE CONGRESS
Despite what Fox News is telling their viewers, the rift between Shiites in Iraq is growing and what little peace there is in the country is about to explode into a full-fledged Civil WAR.
General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker will be appearing today before Congress and trying desperately to put the best face on conditions in Iraq but news reports indicate there is mounting tensions all across Iraq.
It all started with the Battle of Basra where the Mehdi Army trounced the Iraqi Army again despite what FOX NEWS is telling their viewers.
Rift widens between Iraq's Shiites
Basra offensive inflamed long-standing rivalry, redefining nature of conflict
By Sudarsan Raghavan
The Washington Post
BAGHDAD - As verses from the Koran floated from a loudspeaker, the Shiite militia commander's face glowered. Inside the cavernous funeral tent, a large portrait of his 16-year-old son, Mustafa, hung over the mourners. Abu Abdullah, who fought U.S. troops and Sunni insurgents for five years, never expected his son to die before him. Now, he said, his anger was directed at other Shiites.
An Iraqi soldier, he said, had shot Mustafa two days earlier as he approached a checkpoint in Sadr City, where Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army rule. Abu Abdullah blamed Sadr's Shiite rivals, who lead the Iraqi government.
"What do I feel inside me?" asked Abu Abdullah, dressed in black. "I want to do to them exactly what they did to my son, and even more."
In this volatile Shiite redoubt, animosity toward Prime Minister Nouri-al Maliki and his allies has deepened in the aftermath of Iraq's worst violence in months, threatening to escalate a conflict among Shiites that could further draw in U.S. troops.
Suspicions among rivalsSadr's followers view a recent U.S.- and British-backed Iraqi government offensive in the southern port city of Basra as an attempt by their Shiite rivals to weaken Sadr's movement ahead of provincial elections later this year. Iraq's security forces, they say, are tools used against them by their rivals. Clashes erupted across southern Iraq and Baghdad, diminishing only after Sadr ordered his fighters to lay down their weapons.
But tensions remain high. On Sunday, fighting again broke out in Sadr City, leaving 11 dead and 55 injured as a joint U.S. and Iraqi military operation began. Maliki and other lawmakers issued a statement Sunday urging political parties to disband their militias or face being banned from the elections, an act clearly directed at Sadr.
Mahdi Army commanders and fighters spoke on Saturday of a military and political landscape starkly altered by the Basra offensive. They vowed revenge against Maliki and his Dawa party and against the Badr Brigade, the armed wing of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a powerful Shiite party led by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a key U.S. ally and Sadr's main rival.
New kind of conflictThe hostilities highlighted how intra-sect struggles, after five years of war, are increasingly defining the nature of conflict in Iraq, as violence lessens between Sunnis and Shiites.
"Now, our fight is with Badr and Dawa, along with the Americans," said Abu Abdullah, a burly man with a rugged face, thick beard and stern voice. "They are bigger enemies" than the extremist Sunnis, he added.
On Saturday, U.S. Stryker armored vehicles and Iraqi Humvees cordoned off Sadr City. They blocked all roads, and no cars were allowed to enter or leave. U.S. combat helicopters and drones circled above. Unlike the rest of Baghdad, the sprawling district was still under curfew. This correspondent entered Sadr City on foot.
Inside, traffic bustled. The streets, brimming with people, appeared normal, save for the presence of U.S. tanks. But fresh slogans scrawled on walls spoke of the potential for upheaval. "Maliki is a coward and agent of Americans," read one. On another wall: "Badr and Dawa are thieves and killers."
Battle for supremacy
Posted by Bill Corcoran at 3:39 AM