Monday, May 12, 2008


I knew it was bad, but I didn't know just how bad. Colonel Ann Wright, retired U.S. Army, grabbed the audience's attention at a panel called Women in the Military, hosted last month by Women Center Stage in New York City, when she said that one in three women in the military is sexually abused by her male colleagues. Ann wants to see huge signs displaying this statistic in every recruiting office, to let young women know what to expect if they sign up.

By Nancy Van Ness, The WipPosted on May 12, 2008, Printed on May 12, 2008

After 26 years in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves, Ann went on to serve in the U.S. Diplomatic Corps for fifteen years, receiving the State Department's Award for Heroism in 1997. She helped open the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in January 2002 and then was Deputy Chief of Mission in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. But in 2003 she resigned from the Diplomatic Corps, saying, "I have served my country for almost thirty years in the some of the most isolated and dangerous parts of the world. However, I do not believe in the policies of this Administration," referring to the invasion of Iraq. Since then, she has advocated tirelessly for peace.

She described first hand accounts from witnesses and seeing photographs that document an atrocious rape that ended in the murder of a female US soldier in Iraq, which the military had reported as a suicide. She pointed out that even in the handful of cases resulting in court martial and conviction, few perpetrators have served any prison time.

Two other young veterans, Kelly Dougherty and Jen Hogg, described life in the military for women today.

Sgt. Kelly Dougherty, now Executive Director of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and former chair of its Board of Directors, told of a veteran who calmly described killing an Iraqi while she breast-fed her baby. To Kelly, this was just one example of the incredible disconnect veterans live with and of the brutalization that everyone in the armed forces is subjected to. She noted, however, that this is new for women, since for the first time in US history so many women are participating in combat situations.

Click on link above to read full story.


FALLUJAH, May 12 (IPS) - Sharp increases in food prices have generated a new wave of anti-occupation and anti-U.S. sentiment in Fallujah.

Inter Press Service
By Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail*

"This is a country that was damned by the Americans the moment they stepped on our soil," Burhan Jassim, a farmer from Sichir village just outside Fallujah told IPS. "This is Iraqi land that has always been blessed by Allah with the best production in quality and quantity, but now see how it has been turned into a wasteland."

Fallujah faces this new crisis after much of the city was destroyed by U.S. military operations in 2004.

The area around Fallujah city, which lies 70 km west of Baghdad, has traditionally been one of the most agriculturally productive in Iraq. Farmers planted tomatoes and cucumbers north of Fallujah, others grew potatoes south of the city near Amiriya. Both areas had plenty of date palm trees and small fruit plantations. Now production is down to a fraction of what it was.

Farmers have been struggling with changing times. "We changed our motors from electric to diesel oil to avoid electricity failures during the UN sanctions (during the 1990s)," Raad Sammy, an agriculture engineer who has a small farm in Saqlawiya on the outskirts of Fallujah told IPS. "We used to have a minimum of 12 hours electricity per day under the programmed cut, but there is practically no electricity now. And now we also have to face lack of fuel for our pumps, and the incredible increase of fuel prices on the black market."

The price of agricultural products has skyrocketed. "The average price for one kilogram of tomatoes is approximately one dollar," Yasseen Kamil, a grocer in Fallujah told IPS. "This price is when there is no crisis such as Americans blocking the entrance into the city. It is naturally doubled in winter when we have to import everything from Syria and Jordan."

Fallujah residents say the price of food now exceeds their income. The average income for government employees is 170 dollars a month, and no more than 100 dollars for labourers and salesmen.

Residents say unemployment in the city is well above 50 percent. Under these circumstances, a food crisis has hit people harder than it might elsewhere.

"The social effects of the situation are enormous," Ahmed Munqith from the city told IPS. "We believe that people are carrying out illegitimate acts in order to obtain their daily life necessities. The food crisis has led to vast corruption, and raised crime rates to peak point."

As with any difficulty now, many Iraqis believe that the occupation forces want it this way.
"It is obvious that the prices are up and life is difficult in this city and all of Iraq because it has been so planned," Sheikh Ala'in, a cleric in Fallujah told IPS. "Occupation planners designed this poverty in order to make Iraqis work for them as policemen and spies. Iraq is floating on a lake of oil, but there is no gas to run water pumps. What an irony."

Residents say they are told of a world food crisis that may be affecting them. But their crisis arises mainly from local factors like shortage of water, fuel and electricity.

Whatever the reason, residents simply want relief. "We just want our lives back," said a college student who gave her name only as Nada. "We want to eat, buy clothes, get proper education and breathe pure air. No thanks to Americans for their effort to bring us democracy that killed half of us by their bombs and is now apparently killing the other half by starvation. Can you pass this message to the American people for us?"

According to the UN, at least four million people in Iraq do not have enough food, while approximately 40 percent of the 27.5 million population do not have access to clean drinking water. At least 30 percent do not have access to proper health services.

(*Ali, our correspondent in Baghdad, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, our U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who has reported extensively from Iraq and the Middle East).


BAGHDAD — A column of Iraqi armor set out on Sunday to test a new truce in the Sadr City area of Baghdad between the militias and the Iraqi government by venturing north on a major thoroughfare that borders the Shiite enclave.

But the Iraqi forces had barely started to move when they were struck by three roadside bombs, known as improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.’s, as the military calls them.


As Sadr City and Iraqi government negotiators struggled to complete the cease-fire agreement, the scene was a vivid demonstration that a durable accord in the densely populated neighborhood, where intense fighting has been going on for more than a month, had yet to be achieved.

“They promised that there would not be any explosions, that people would show us where the I.E.D.’s are,” said a combat engineer with the Ninth Iraqi Army Division who identified himself as Colonel Alaa. “In 10 meters three I.E.D.’s exploded on us.”

Three Iraqi soldiers were wounded by the blasts, including the Iraqi colonel, who strode through a rubble-strewn street with a bandage on his left leg.