Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Shia and Sunni Iraqis ask the Occupation to Leave

"A number of the main Iraqi Sunni and Shia parties had several meetings today. The meetings reflected a united Muslim front against any attempts of splitting the Iraqi people along sectarian and ethnic lines.

The main Shia and Sunni parties asked the occupation troops to schedule withdrawal as soon as possible.

It's important to mention that the current sectarian tension was handled very efficiently by the Iraqi religious and social leaders working with their elected national government, and that the occupation troops and authorities didn't take any part in "protecting Iraqis from each other", which is the bush administration's number one excuse for keeping the troops in Iraq."
Raed in the Middle
That would be news except that those are Sadr's shi'a, which have always called for our immediate withdrawal, and those are the very people most likely responsible for the current situation, how convenient for Sadr.

Cooking up a civil war

"The New York Times, as always, is anxious to report the resumption of violence:

"The toll in the wave of reprisal killings that followed the attack last Wednesday on a revered Shiite shrine in Samarra was put at 379 dead and 458 wounded, the nation's Council of Ministers said today. At least 246 people in Baghdad alone were killed, the top two city morgue officials said. And the bodies of 47 protesters killed in a single incident right after the shrine bombing were found south of Baghdad."

The numbers the Times gives are dramatically different from those the Washington Post reports. But that should not come as a surprise from a media that often seem anxious to report the worst from Iraq."
something tells me it's not the media.

May Allah preserve his Glory

"I stubbornly refused to go to work today, although it was a semi-peaceful night before, with only the random AK-47 rattle nearby, or the distant mortar shell disturbing our well-deserved sleep.

I went out for a stroll in the neighbourhood, meeting friends and neighbours, exchanging gossip and stories of the continuing carnage. Three Iraqi army armoured vehicles and a pickup truck flying a ragged Iraqi flag were slowly patrolling the main street, followed by a huddled trail of civilian vehicles. Storeowners and pedestrians briefly paused with whatever they were doing and gazed warily at the soldiers aboard. I stood at the door for a moment, peering into their eyes, trying to determine whether I would trust those young men with my family and neighbours' lives. Some looked edgy and alert, and some of them appeared to be simply bored. One dark, skinny soldier returned my inquisitive look with a wan smile on his face. His AK-47 was pointing in my direction."
Healing Iraq

Iraq burning

"In 2003 and after the regime fall we thought that the country is going to be a model for democracy and freedom for the Middle East however after more than 3 years Iraq is now burning and heading for a sectarian war.

We know that the Wahabi group of Al-Zarqawi threatened to create a civil war but not enough have been made to prevent and stop these groups which are funded and supported by the Arab Gulf states.

For the last few days hundred of Shiite families were expelled from their homes by Sunni pro-wahabi militia in Tarmyiah and Aboghareb which is extended into many areas today. Some of these families have been located in schools or with relatives in very in-humane situations and cold weather.

By the minutes we are writing this, tens of Shiite families in Al-nahrawan area calling the government to rescue them as they are surrounded by Sunni Wahabi terrorists and threatned to kill them. This is going on now until this moment."
Poor sam I wish there was something I could do to fix it all, but what can we do. The terrorist are winning in Iraq, they have the upper hand, the high ground. But unfortunately that's poison in the eyes of many and they would just rather look the other way, or of all thing blame the Iraqi's themselves. To tell the truth I'm at my whit's end, I have no idea how to make people hear you sam, all I can do is post your words and hope someone out there is listening with eyes open.

RECON by force...

"Went on a LOOONNGG RECON yesterday [see walking] to look at the surrounding terrain and make sure "slappy" didn"t have any presents waiting for us on the other side of the hill. Found some rockets and other old ammo from old battles so we went back and we blew it all up. Who says war can't be fun? Wanna see how how battle/war makes you a little crazy.....We were prepping the rocket with demo [3 pounds of C4] and then we go about two hundred meters down the hill to blow it.

Joker has the ingniter and "BOOM" a instant later a piece of the rocket , tail fin assembly I think, wizzes right overhead sounding like an angry bee on NEUTRON STERIODS striking the rock behind us. It took just a split second for all of us to look at each other, see that no one got hit and then were all laughing like a bunch of lunatics.....wow did you hear that? That son of a bitch almost hit you ass monkey [name omitted. He was standing taking pictures when it went off.] HAHAHAHAHAHA we're all nuts on this pecan farm.
Livin large.....
A Grunt's Eye View
I'd like to welcome Paul blogging from Afghanistan as a new member of our link family. Lets everyone go over to A grunt's Eye View and leave him a nice welcome message, or whatever. Pass out the cigars it's a boy.


"THE TROOPS SPEAK....From Zogby:
An overwhelming majority of 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and nearly one in four say the troops should leave immediately, a new Le Moyne College/Zogby International survey shows.

....29% of the respondents, serving in various branches of the armed forces, said the U.S. should leave Iraq “immediately,” while another 22% said they should leave in the next six months. Another 21% said troops should be out between six and 12 months, while 23% said they should stay “as long as they are needed.”

....Three quarters of the troops had served multiple tours and had a longer exposure to the conflict: 26% were on their first tour of duty, 45% were on their second tour, and 29% were in Iraq for a third time or more.
Soldiers are famous for being disgruntled, of course, but I doubt that 72% of military respondents in 1943 would have favored pulling out of World War II within 12 months. Zogby's summary is a little unclear on this point, but it looks like the big difference is that troops in Iraq are pretty confused about why they're there and whether they're doing any good. After all, 68% think the mission was simply to remove Saddam Hussein from power, and with that done apparently a lot of them aren't quite sure what the point of staying is."

Photographic Memories

"There are varying levels of interest in photography. There are folks who love it so much they do it professionally. There are the “Polaroid moms” who can’t resist taking a picture of the kids at least once a day – little Abby eating green Jello – Michael Jr. hugging the cat. There are the Photoshop geeks. And there is an Army of digital camera hobbyists, which I am a member of, who take pictures in odd clusters – 20 in one day, then nothing for a month.

It’s no different out here. Some soldiers take pictures of everything. Some just take pictures of what they consider unique- things they don’t think they’ll ever see back home, like Palaces, or Iraqi children, or themselves behind a .50 caliber machine gun looking like a battle-hardened steely-eyed killer. But it’s interesting when there’s a beautiful sunset. I see a lot of my fellow soldiers pulling out their digital cameras to capture it, though pictures rarely do a sunset justice. Don’t get me wrong. A sunset is a wonderful thing to behold, and even more so when it happens to take on colors and formations that really rest upon the retina with a splendor it’s impossible to deny. But we’ve all seen thousands. And we’ll presumably see thousands more."
Wordsmith at War

The Samarra Shrine And Shia Mischief

"By now, everyone who is familiar with the situation in Iraq, whatever Media they retrieve their information from, is aware of the Bombing of the Shrine of Imam Hasan al-Askari , which like an exfoliated onion, saw layers of its golden dome peeled off in great chunks by an explosion or two.

The Shrine is one of the most sacred Shia landmarks, and as noted by Ian Wood commenting at the Belmont Club, was the final resting place for the 11th Imam (Hasan al-Askari) (who) was the father of the 12th Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi...the same al-Mahdi whose whose Return Iranian President Ahmadinejad apparently thinks will be hastened by his acquisition of nuclear weapons.

He goes on to further tell us:
The al-Askari mosque also houses a slightly smaller, more elaborately decorated domed shrine called Maqam Ghaybat, which was supposedly built over the cellar into which the Imam Mahdi disappeared before his occultation (hence his attribution, the "Hidden" Imam) in 873. As far as I can tell from photos, that dome is intact.

As one would expect, the reaction to the Shrine's attack has been fast and furious among the Iraqi and other Bloggers. So much information and opinions pouring forth, that it is almost impossible to keep up with events on the ground in Iraq.

Zeyad has provided the best and most intense-laden coverage of the aftermath, including details of his own neighborhood being threatened by the mysterious "Men In Black", likely members of Mahdi's Army, Muqti al-Sadr's gang of thugs, louses and ruffians:"
Go here to get all the news in one easy to read post.

Over 1300 Dead in Sectarian Violence

"Ellen Knickmeyer and Bassam Sebti of the WaPo reports that since last Wednesday rioters and militiamen have killed over 1300 Iraqis on a sectarian basis. They add,
' Hundreds of unclaimed dead lay at the morgue at midday Monday -- blood-caked men who had been shot, knifed, garroted or apparently suffocated by the plastic bags still over their heads. Many of the bodies were sprawled with their hands still bound -- and many of them had wound up at the morgue after what their families said was their abduction by the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. '
The pace of killing slowed on Monday despite the end of the curfew, but there was still some violence."
Juan Cole

Volatile Days...

"The last few days have been unsettlingly violent in spite of the curfew. We’ve been at home simply waiting it out and hoping for the best. The phone wasn’t working and the electrical situation hasn’t improved. We are at a point, however, where things like electricity, telephones and fuel seem like minor worries. Even complaining about them is a luxury Iraqis can’t afford these days.

The sounds of shooting and explosions usually begin at dawn, at least that’s when I first sense them, and they don’t really subside until well into the night. There was a small gunfight on the main road near our area the day before yesterday, but with the exception of the local mosque being fired upon, and a corpse found at dawn three streets down, things have been relatively quiet.

Some of the neighbors have been discussing the possibility of the men setting up a neighborhood watch. We did this during the war and during the chaos immediately after the war. The problem this time is that the Iraqi security forces are as much to fear as the black-clad and hooded men attacking mosques, houses and each other."
Baghdad Burning

US Visa: Plea for Iraqi Grandmother Pearl

"I was thinking about going on sabbatical because of the losing of a person who is very dear to me, as close to the artery in my neck; it has been very difficult situation the past few months. It was a case of a missing person (which is the hardest experience in life) and finally an unhappy outcome last week. In my deepest grief, Anwar shook me out of my grief and wrote to me about one of Our sisters in Iraq who needs surgery, but was denied a visa for medical care and I knew life does not hold sabbaticals for me, she needs help. So..no sabbatical for me, we just have to keep going, somehow, and today it is about Sahira.

Below, I will post the information concerning this tragic situation below, but before that, I would like to write about people in a war zone. When we see the Iraq War many people just see the top surface. I ask the Congress, the White House, the State Department and the Embassies (US Embassy in Jordan, click here) handling visas to go below the surface of the iceberg, we call Iraq."
Pearl of Iraq

The wicked warmongers

"A cousin of mine, a physician, who lives in the Dora section of Baghdad told me that he has been saying the shahada each day before leaving his house to go to the hospital. He does so because he has no idea whether he will come home alive to his wife and children. He is terribly worried about the violence in recent days. And when the BBC reports that there has been a barrage of mortar attacks in Dora today, killing 16 and injuring 40, I can't say I blame him. I tried to telephone today but have been unable to get through so far.

The violence in Iraq is bad enough to raise serious concerns about the possiblity of an open civil war. But at least the leaders of Iraq have agreed to work together.

From what I can see, Iraqis are working towards calming the tensions among a people who have been dealing with extremely difficult conditions since the U.S. invasion of three years ago. At the same time, I see a media that are determined to find a civil war in Iraq at any cost. The New York Times claims that the young clerics are having more influence these days than Sistani. But didn't the same newspaper just report that even Moktada Al Sadr is calling for calm? So where is the evidence that Moktada's influence is greater than Sistani's? Seems to me that it is quite possible that Sistani told Moktada to stop his nonsense."

The shrine crisis…words that need to be said.

"Life is coming back to normal in Baghdad and marketplaces and offices are open again after being shut for 4 days. Although there were a few security incidents today people are mostly looking at these as part of the usual daily situation and not related to the latest shrine crisis.

But, what can we learn from this lesson and how can we make benefit from it in avoiding similar problems in the future.

It's not a secret who was behind the attack on the shrine and I am sure that who did it were the Salafi/Wahabis whether Iraqi or foreigners and with external support from parties planning to disrupt the political process in Iraq."

Baghdad Returns to 'Normal', Night Skirmishes Continue

"Life in Baghdad slowly returned to normal this morning after the extended curfew was lifted, while the Defense Ministry ordered Iraqi armoured units to take positions in several areas of Baghdad. A spokesman for the ministry added that the armoured vehicles will fly the Iraqi flag, as a symbol of Iraqi unity. However, the Iraqi army will not patrol the areas of Dora, Bayaa', Abu Dshir, Al-Amil and Salman Pak, since these were the Interior ministry's 'areas of responsibility,' according to the military spokesman.

I witnessed four of these vehicles in my area today.

Although the Iraqi Army (or National Guard) is often targeted by insurgent attacks, it should be mentioned that most Iraqis tend to have higher trust in them, compared to the notorious Interior Ministry forces (Maghaweer Al-Dakhiliya). The Interior Ministry forces were formed early last year as special forces or commando units to backup regular army units. The earliest unit was the renowned Wolf Brigade, trained by US forces and comprised of elite members of the former Iraqi special forces. It operated in Sunni governorates and helped restore order in Mosul."
Healing Iraq

A rare interview with Abo-Hafsa Alansari

"Alwatan alarabi magazine (London) published an interview with Abohafsa claimed to be one of Zarqawi deputies.

He stated that their Qaeda group in Iraq has the ability to recruit into Iraq one million fighters. He explained that this number can be introduced from everywhere along the borders which are all open for them!"
Comments still closed, I wonder what's up with sam

Sadr's peace.

"Iraqi politicians and religious leaders have been busy conducting talks to try to contain the crisis by calling for speeding up the formation of the government and reassuring public that their leaders are united. (Just a side note: Al-Iraqiya TV was hailing Sadr and calling him "His eminence Saiyd Muqtad Al-Sadr God bless him" (Imagine my joy!) and praising his efforts to unite Sunnis and She'at in his tour in the southern governorates. In his speech in Basra, he asked Sunnis and She'at to go on unified demonstrations against sectarian violence, but 1st against "occupation"! So Sunnis and She'at kill each other and then they make out by condemning America!)"
Free Iraqi

Graffiti War

"The Leadership of the US Military has decided to wage war on graffiti in latrines used by US personnel.

This has been placed on such high priority that aircraft in Kuwait are being delayed until perpetrators can be found and offending graffiti removed from victimized porta - johns and latrines.

Soldiers in Iraq have been informed that doors to latrines will be removed and guards posted to insure that latrines, soldiers and other personnel will not suffer the same fate.

We all rest better knowing that our leadership has our best interests in mind, and that they are ever vigilant in the global war against terrorism."
Chaper: War
Well it's nice to know they have their priorities straight!

Famed ‘Baghdad Sniper’ Mourned by Jihadist Websites

"A leading terrorist ‘warrior’ who have been lionized by the jihadist propaganda machine over the last two years was himself killed by a sniper shot recently, according to identical postings on several jihadists websites. The ‘Baghdad Sniper’ became something of a terrorist celebrity and assumed mythical representations as a ‘lone wolf’ hunting down ‘the occupier.’"
Talisman Gate
Well it looks like "Juba the Baghdad Sniper" is dead, and for some odd reason I have that song from the wizard of Ozz playing in my head

Saturday, February 25, 2006

A letter to President Bush

This letter to the President will stay on top for a week, scroll down for updates.

David L. Rosenthal
Hollywood, Florida

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

February 16, 2006

Dear President Bush:

I wish to make known to you my intention to support the Cuban Exile Community in any effort made to overthrow the tyrannical regime of Fidel Castro, the tyrant, international terrorist, and drug trafficker that some erroneously consider as a head of state. I support the efforts to overthrow Castro, whether approved by the government of the United States or not.

I have sent copies of email messages to you on this and related subjects, but I now send you this certified letter in order to have some proof that your office has received this letter.

Among information I have sent you have been the five public announcements (also sent to the U.S. Department of Justice, to the Cuban Ministry of the Exterior, to the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC, and to several hundred others, including scores of journalists in several countries), in which I offered a large bounty for the head of Castro, in identifiable condition. I do not consider Castro to be a head of state but merely a successful pirate and terrorist, well supported by governments around the world, too often by the United States of America.

Castro will never cease to rule as the result of a peaceful transition to democracy. He must be overthrown, along with his cadre of co-tyrants. That the United States refuses to allow the Cuban people to undertake such a necessary mission is and will remain a severe blemish on the spotty record of the United States (that for too long allowed the practice of slavery - in 11 states, with complicity from other states in the matter of returning escaped "property" - and in such a barbaric manner exterminated or otherwise degraded millions of Native Americans). Only a firm stance in support of freedom for Cuba might rescue the United States from well-deserved condemnation in connection with its half-century-long support of tyranny and terrorism.

The policies of the United States are as responsible for the perpetuation of the Castro regime as any other factor. This undeniable fact, hidden from most Americans, will in the future become widely known, and will be another reason for future Americans to cringe in shame at its mention.
These policies, despite any reason or pretext for their perpetuation, are clearly a departure from traditional American ideals, a severe ongoing violation of human rights, and reason enough for any person of conscience to doubt the honesty and good will of the American government.

You have repeatedly spoken with respect to the freedom of Cuba, also stating, in a State of the Union Address, that the United States would lead the cause of freedom. You have led many people to believe that you intended to do for Cuba what you have done for Iraq. Many people campaigned and voted for you because of your stance against tyranny. Now you must fulfill the promise conveyed in your messages, or you must understand that those who supported you will rightfully feel betrayed.
You must understand that, despite the policies of the United States, millions of people rightfully yearn for the freedom denied their people by tyrants operating with the virtual or actual approval of the United States. You cannot legitimately deny these people the right to regain the freedom and prosperity they once enjoyed that for 47 years has been trampled and violated by totalitarian terrorists. If you continue to do so, you rightfully will be remembered as one of the greatest allies of tyranny. And you will not legitimately be able to accuse or condemn the abused for fighting to free their people from the yoke of tyranny.

Your administration may take all the steps at its disposal to undermine the legitimate efforts and attempts of the Cuban Exile Community, as many administrations have done before, but you will not be able to prevent the inevitable tide of resistance to this dishonorable and treacherous tendency of the government of the United States, which must grow as time passes and people realize that the United States is Castro's Big Brother, Protector, and Ally. Others will rise up who will no longer tolerate this policy and procedure, leaving you or your successor with the alternative of either strengthening the tyranny imposed on those who struggle for freedom, or undertaking the liberation of the enslaved people of Cuba. America's jails are not yet large enough to contain all those who will disobey America's unjustifiable restrictions and actions.
My participation in the struggle for freedom has so far remained arguably close to the limit of what American law permits, although I freely admit having said and written that I intend to kill Castro upon crossing paths with him. I would prefer to see my government do the right thing and give genuine support to this cause, but I admit that the restrictions placed on the Cuban Exile Community can and should be violated and that, at some point in the future, I could easily violate them. It would simply be the right thing to do, while imposition of America's immoral policies and laws has been outrageous and intolerable. Your policies are outrageous and intolerable.

If Saddam Hussein should have been eliminated, for the same reasons should Fidel Castro, who for much longer than Hussein has been an exporter of revolution, a major drug trafficker, a slavemaster over millions, and a sworn enemy of the United States and ally to other enemies of freedom. You told the world that, in the fight against terrorism, each nation was either for us or against us. You, President Bush, and the United States are either for freedom for Cuba or against it; and whoever is against freedom for Cuba, and against the destruction of the Castro regime, is for the continued sponsorship by Cuba of international terrorism.

Many Cuban-Americans do still have faith in you. I merely still hope that you will decide to do the right thing.

Please do not have someone from the U.S. Department of State send me another disingenuous letter not worth the paper on which it is written. And please do not send us predigested or irrelevant responses, such as the ones Ken Mehlman gives when in Miami. What we need and want is for the President of the United States to remember America's justification for its rebellion against British tyranny, take a stance compatible with American ideals, and afford the same rights and opportunities to the Cuban people; whose countrymen in exile now await America's permission for them to mobilize to free Cuba.

Thank you for your attention.


David L. Rosenthal
Hat tip Killcastro

Curfew Extended, Situation Still Tense

"The daytime curfew in the capital, and surrounding governorates of Salah Al-Din, Diyala and Babel has been extended to Monday morning, as was announced during a live press conference for the ministers of Defense and Interior today.

Both ministers downplayed the significance of the violence over the last three days. Interior minister, Baqir Solagh described the armed demonstrations and mob attacks as 'natural' reactions to 'let off steam' building up by the Shia masses over the last two years. The Defense minister, Sa'doun Al-Dulaimi released some numbers on the attacks against Sunni mosques and civilians:"
Healing Iraq

The Novices

"We were parked in a perfect row, a habit developed from repetition, pride, and interdependence.

We were dirty and tired, our vehicles caked in mud. We worked in silence, some standing on top of the trucks breaking down weapons, others on the ground stowing gear or performing quick maintenance checks. We moved as one, a team built in training and forged in a combat environment. The only sounds were the clang of metal and movement."
Chapter: War


"Righteous Indignation

"The positive value of righteous indignation is theoretical - especially for alcoholics. It leaves every one of us open to the rationalization that we may be as angry as we like provided we can claim to be righteous about it.""
Chapter: War
Notice that the WH is saying that nothing's going on, and the milblogs are as quite as spiders. You would not want some silly soldiers telling you something that we don't want you to hear, now would you?

Curfew extended in Baghdad and three other provinces.

"The defense minister in a press conference currently on Iraqi TV gave statistics to correct what he described as "exaggerated media reports" about civilian casualties and attacks on mosques since the attack on the Samarra shrine:"
Who is going to believe what they say?

Violence in Baghdad, Samarra

"There was more violence on Friday in Iraq amid calls by clerical leaders for peace. The daytime curfew called for earlier was widely ignored, especially in East Baghdad or Sadr City, where the Mahdi Army militiamen were out in force, driving around in heavy vehicles."
Juan Cole

Queen Amidala Reporting From Basra

"Queen Amidala sent me the following e-mail regarding the situation in Basra:
I've heard the audio file Zeyad published on his blog It's really frightening to listen to it. God help them.

Here -- I mean in my area -- is much more quiet than that. But last night around 7:30pm, we went out to buy some food. We saw strangers on the streets. They were wearing all black clothes with scarves on their heads in a strange way.

I'm at work today. I will keep you updated."
She sent me another e-mail three hours later:
Fayrouz in Beaumont

Friday, February 24, 2006

Fierce streetfighting at my doorstep UPDATED

"UPDATE: Apparently, the attackers were fended off in our neighbourhood. The fight ended about 2 hours ago, about the same time electric power returned to our area. Now we are only hearing sporadic gunshots here and there. To have an idea of what was going on, listen to these small audio files I recorded using a cell phone.

News are conflicting. Some say the local National Guard unit (its commander is from our own area) helped repel the assailants. Others say the neighbourhood watch teams clashed with an armed group in several unmarked vehicles.

The same situation occured in both Adhamiya and Al-Khadhraa'. In Adhamiya, armed groups in black crossed the river in boats from neighbouring Kadhimiya and took over the Nu'man hospital.

In Khadhraa', a combined force of Interior ministry forces and men dressed in black are surrounding 2 mosques with several families inside, threatening to burn them down on the occupants. Baghdad TV (the Islamic party's channel) is updating on the situation through telephone calls from inside the mosque. The families are crying for outside assistance...

...Government officials and spokespersons are deliberately suppressing any news of these ongoing attacks on Sunni neighbourhoods and mosques. The official Al-Iraqiya channel is playing a historical movie, while other channels are playing Shi'ite mourning and Quran. The Interior ministry says it only has reports of 19 mosques attacked and one cleric killed. Go figure."
Healing Iraq

Army Charges 7 in Sex-For-Money Web Site

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The Army has charged seven paratroopers from the celebrated 82nd Airborne Division with engaging in sex acts in video shown on a Web site, authorities said Friday.

Three of the soldiers face courts-martial on charges of sodomy, pandering and engaging in sex acts for money, according to a statement released Friday by the military.

Four other soldiers, whose names were not released, received nonjudicial punishments.

The Army has recommended that all be discharged.

The charges do not mention the name of the site, but the division has said previously it was investigating allegations that soldiers appeared on a gay pornography Web site. A spokesman for the division said Friday the charges are a result of that investigation.

The military-themed Web site on which the Army has said soldiers appeared does not make any direct reference to the division or Fort Bragg, a sprawling post about 70 miles south of Raleigh.

"As far as we're concerned, it's isolated to the unit, and our investigation determined that these seven individuals were the only ones" involved, said 82nd Airborne spokesman Maj. Thomas Earnhardt.

Earnhardt said the three soldiers charged criminally under the Uniform Code of Military Justice had been appointed military attorneys, but he said the lawyers would be unavailable for comment on Friday.

The three soldiers who face courts-martial are: Spc. Richard T. Ashley, Pfc. Wesley K. Mitten and Pvt. Kagen B. Mullen. The Army did not release their ages or hometowns, but said all seven paratroopers were members of the 2nd Battalion of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

The nonjudicial punishment received by the four other soldiers included reduction to the rank of private, 45 days of restriction to the unit area, 45 days of extra duty and forfeiture of a month's pay.

The registered owner of the Web site's domain name lists an address in Fayetteville, the city that adjoins Fort Bragg. A phone number listed for the registered owner was not in service Friday, and e-mails to the owner have been regularly returned as undeliverable.

The 15,000 paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne are among the Army's most elite soldiers, all having volunteered to serve in a unit that trains to deploy anywhere in the world within 18 hours.

The military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy states that "homosexual orientation alone is not a bar to service, but homosexual conduct is incompatible with military service." Service members who violate the policy are removed from the military.


It's hard to believe that in this day and age anyone could still be charged with violating religious law against sodomy. The military will just have to set up cameras in the private bedrooms of every member to ensure compliance.

No amount of spin can provide security in Iraq

If you want a sense of just how out of touch with reality the Bush administration has been about the situation in Iraq, take a look at Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's speech last week. The military, he said, needs to drastically improve its ability to get the administration's message out.

Rumsfeld suggested a significant part of the United States' problems in Iraq is that insurgents and radical Islamists are doing a better job of spinning their story - it's called propaganda - than the Pentagon is doing with its campaign. And he bashed the U.S. media for paying more attention to the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison than, say, to "the discovery of Saddam Hussein's mass graves."

Hello. It should be abundantly clear by now that the underlying dilemma Washington faces in Iraq is not inadequate PR, but that it has not been able to provide security to that nation. Everything else pales in comparison.

From almost the very beginning of the Iraq war, it was evident that Rumsfeld had tragically miscalculated what it would take to bring stability to Iraq once Hussein was out of power. He and his neoconservative henchmen believed the United States would be greeted with open arms, and Iraq would quickly move toward being a stable, functioning democratic state. The mistakes they made in planning the postwar effort reveal unbelievable arrogance and incompetence.

As if we needed a punctation mark on all this, the destruction Wednesday in Samarra of the golden dome of one of Iraq's holiest Shia Muslim shrines could prove to be a seminal event - one that could make an outright civil war between Sunnis and Shias ever more likely. Shia attacks on Sunni religious sites were being reported throughout the country yesterday. Maybe it will just be a spasm of violence. But it could be a tipping point in the whole U.S. involvement there.

My point is this: No matter how poorly or how well the United States spins the story about Iraq, the fundamental realities will determine how people really feel about the effort and the United States itself. Without security, no amount of sophisticated public relations - blogging, Web sites, manipulation of news - is going to change the story.

Not only that, but the unilateral manner in which the administration, especially Rumsfeld, handled the buildup to the war caused deep resentment throughout the world, including among our most trusted allies. That wasn't a PR problem. It was substantive. Rumsfeld himself said in his speech that the truth will win out in the end. Considering how the entire Iraq situation has been handled, that is not necessarily good news for the administration.

Was there some merit in what Rumsfeld said about the United States' having to do a better job of getting its message out? Yes. Recognizing 24-hour news cycles, the lightning pace that information travels and the critical new role of the Internet is necessary. Countering poisonous propaganda from the likes of Iran and al-Qaida through al-Jazeera is also necessary.

Rumsfeld said the Pentagon has to do a better job of communicating. Fine. But, frankly, I'd be more comfortable with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice giving that speech. Public diplomacy has been, and should remain, the job of the Department of State, not the Pentagon. A military organization is designed to win wars, not be an objective, credible source of information.

I'm all for the United States doing a better job of communicating its story. But the prerequisite to getting good press is having a good story to tell.



"So, Iraq is at point of civil war based on disagreements between two religion factions which ACTUALLY predicate on the teachings of Muhammad . BOTH Muslims and both are burning each others mosques. NICE!
So cartoons are an insult to ISLAM so whatta fuck is the burning of a Mosque ? Imagine if mosques were burning in the USA?! OH THE INFAMY , THE FLAG BURNNG, THE DECAPITATIONS

If it hasn’t dawn on anyone at the White House, this is not LIBERTY we brought to Iraq this is LIBERTINAGE. Freedom and democracy will work as well in Iraq as it would in the jungles of Africa. Ask monkeys to establish a democratic government in the middle of the jungle, you will have better success.

Iraq has been totally washed out as a military power, the objective has been accomplished and YES Virginia there WERE WMD and the recordings from SADDAM speaking about them are FINALLY filtering through (SO FUCK YOU ‘RATS) Mission accomplish and . Let’s bring the kids home!"
I'm almost afraid to post this, but I guess I have too.
"it's time to move on" But where too? does anyone out there still know how to ride a horse

Sunnis hitting back

"BAGHDAD — There are scattered reports that the Sunni gunmen and others have begun striking back against Shi’a neighborhoods and religious sites. We’re hearing that attacks on Shi’a positions are happening right now in Kadhimiya, Doura (a mixed neighborhood) and Adhimiya, a Sunni area, but with some Shi’as living there.

There is a report that in Shu’aybah in Basra, the tomb of Anas ibn Malik, one of the Prophet’s Companions, has been blown up. I have no further details on this."
Back to Iraq

Fierce streetfighting at my doorstep

"Fierce streetfighting at my doorstep for the last 3 hours. Rumor in the neighbourhood is that men in black are trying to enter the area. Some armed kids defending the local mosque three blocks away are splattering bullets at everything that moves, and someone in the street was shouting for people to prepare for defending themselves.

There's supposed to be a curfew, but it doesn't look like it. My net connection is erratic, so I'll try to update again if possible. The news from other areas in Baghdad are horrible. I don't think it's being reported anywhere.

My father and uncle are agitatedly walking back and forth in the hallway, asking me what we should do if the mob or Interior ministry forces try to attack us in our homes? I have no answer for them."
Healing iraq

Iraqi Government Orders Daytime Curfews

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Religious leaders summoned Iraq's Shiites and Sunnis to joint prayer services Friday amid an extraordinary daytime curfew aimed at halting a wave of sectarian violence that has killed nearly 130 people since the bombing of one of Shiite Islam's holiest shrines.

Police and soldiers blocked major roads and surrounded Baghdad's two main Sunni mosques as streets throughout this city of nearly 7 million emptied of people and traffic. The nation stood on the brink of civil war and the American strategy in Iraq faced its gravest test since the 2003 invasion.

Residents in Samarra, where the shrine bombing took place Wednesday, were instructed over loudspeakers to stay indoors "until further notice." Many planned to attend a joint Shiite-Sunni prayer service at the Askariya shrine, whose famed golden dome was reduced to a pile of rubble.

In the southern Shiite heartland, more than 10,000 people converged on Basra's al-Adillah mosque, where a representative of Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called another joint service with Sunnis.

The extraordinary measures helped curb - but did not eliminate - the violence.

In Basra, where the curfew was not in effect, gunmen Friday kidnapped three children of a Shiite legislator. The son and two daughters of Qasim Attiyah al-Jbouri - aged between 7 and 11 years - were abducted by several armed men near the family home, police said.

Al-Jbouri is a member of the Islamic Dawa Party-Iraq Organization and is the former head of Basra's provincial council.

Elsewhere, police found the bodies of two bodyguards for the Basra head of the Sunni Endowment, a government body that cares for Sunni mosques and shrines. They had been shot.

Late Thursday, Iraqi state television announced an extension of the nighttime curfew until 4 p.m. Friday in Baghdad and the nearby provinces of Diyala, Babil and Salaheddin, where the shrine bombing took place.

But there was little sign of the curfew in Baghdad's teeming Shiite slum, Sadr City, where armed militiamen loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have been out in force since Wednesday's attack. Iraqi police found six bodies handcuffed and shot near a parking lot in the area, the Interior Ministry said.

South of the capital, in the religiously mixed area known as the "Triangle of Death," gunmen burst into a Shiite home in Latifiyah, separated men from women, and killed five of the males, police Capt. Ibrahim Abdullah said.

In the northern town of Birtilla, which is not covered by the curfew, 500 Iraqi Shiites marched to demand the execution of ousted President Saddam Hussein and death to Sunni fanatics.

The curfew was aimed at preventing people from attending the week's most important Muslim prayer service, which officials feared could be both a target for attacks and a venue for stirring sectarian feelings.

Such sweeping daytime restrictions indicated the depth of fear within the government that the crisis could touch off a Sunni-Shiite civil war.

"This is the first time that I have heard politicians say they are worried about the outbreak of civil war," Kurdish elder statesman Mahmoud Othman told The Associated Press.

The fury unleashed by the destruction of Askariya's golden dome threatens to derail talks on a new government drawing in Iraq's main ethnic and religious blocs, which U.S. officials consider key to curbing the Sunni Arab-driven insurgency.

The biggest Sunni Arab bloc in parliament announced Thursday it was pulling out of the negotiations until the Shiite-dominated national leadership apologizes for damage to Sunni mosques during reprisal attacks.

If the Sunnis don't reverse their stand, the U.S. strategy of establishing an inclusive government as a major step toward disengagement from Iraq will collapse.

Shiite and Sunni leaders appealed for calm Thursday, and the number of violent incidents appeared to decline after the government extended the curfew. Still, religious tensions were high.

President Bush said he appreciated the appeals for calm and called the shrine bombing "an evil act" aimed at creating strife.

A Western official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said discussions were under way to rebuild the shrine as quickly as possible because the shattered structure would serve as a "lasting provocation." Italy offered Thursday to rebuild the dome to help battle "fanaticism."

Despite strident comments from various Iraqi leaders, U.S. officials said they believed mainstream politicians understood the grave danger facing the country and would try to prevent civil war.

"We're not seeing civil war igniting in Iraq," Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, a spokesman for the U.S. command, told reporters Thursday.

Among the victims of the violence was Atwar Bahjat, a widely known Sunni correspondent for the Arab satellite television station Al-Arabiya.

Gunmen in a pickup truck shouting "We want the correspondent!" killed Bahjat along with her cameraman and engineer Wednesday while they were interviewing Iraqis about the bombing in her hometown of Samarra.

Shiite militiamen have sprayed bullets and set fire to Sunni mosques, and a dozen clerics - most of them Sunni - have been reported killed since Wednesday.

The Sunni clerical Association of Muslim Scholars said at least 168 Sunni mosques had been attacked, but the Interior Ministry said it could only confirm figures for Baghdad, where it had reports of 19 mosques attacked, one cleric killed and one abducted.

Dozens of bodies have been found dumped at sites in Baghdad and the Shiite heartland in southern Iraq, many of them with their hands bound and shot execution-style.

Although the violence appeared to be waning Thursday, the brutality did not.

The bodies of 47 civilians, mostly men aged between 20 and 50, were found early Thursday in a ditch near Baqouba. Police said the victims - both Sunnis and Shiites - had apparently been stopped by gunmen, hauled from their cars and shot.

Fighting erupted in Mahmoudiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad, between Sunni gunmen and militiamen loyal to al-Sadr who were guarding a mosque. Two civilians were killed and five militiamen were wounded, police Capt. Rashid al-Samaraie said.

Workers at two U.S.-funded water treatment projects in Baghdad were told to stay home Thursday to avoid trouble. American officials also ordered a lockdown in some locations within the Green Zone, home of U.S. and Iraqi government offices, after two or three mortar shells exploded, causing no casualties.



"NOT JUST INCOMPETENCE....Michael Hirsh has a decent rundown in Newsweek today of how badly George Bush and his team have botched the war on terror, although I'd take minor issue with this:
How then did we arrive at this day, with anti-American Islamist governments rising in the Mideast, bin Laden sneering at us, Qaeda lieutenants escaping from prison, Iran brazenly enriching uranium, and America as hated and mistrusted as it ever has been? The answer, in a word, is incompetence.

The fight for a civil war

"After the bombing of the Samarra mosque, Iraqis everywhere are worried because we don't know what will happen next. And many say the next few days are critical, because it might mean full civil war.

However, the New York Times isn't waiting for the next few days, their reporters have already decided that what's happening now is an open civil war.

"The killings and assaults across Iraq amounted to the worst sectarian violence since the American invasion."

But when describing the violence, reporter Edward Wong said:

"Political and religious leaders, including President Jalal Talabani and Moktada al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric whose followers are believed to be involved in much of the anti-Sunni violence, called for restraint.""

Suicide Bombing of Saudi Oil Complex Foiled

"We all just dodged a bullet. But for how long?

The good news is that the suicide bombing by unidentified radicals against the Saudi oil processing center in largely Shiite Abqaiq (Baqiq) was foiled, though bombs did go off.

Saudi Arabia, dominated by hard line Wahhabi Sunnis, produces about 9.5 million barrels a day of petroleum, and exports over 7 million barrels a day.

Folks, the world only produces about 85 million barrels a day. And most of that is used up by the producers so it isn't available for export. The US, for instance, produces 5.5 million barrels a day, but it uses about 20 million barrels a day. It uses all of its production and then 3 times that from other countries.

So the Saudi production is 11 percent of the world total, but it is far more than that of the amount of petroleum available for anyone else to buy.

If you took out the facility at Abqaiq, it would be very bad news for world transportation systems.

Iraqi production is already down 38% from pre-War levels. Nigerian production is off 20 percent because of political strife there. There haven't been any big new strikes, and China and India and others are using more and more."
Juan Cole
That's the good news? The worlds economy saved by a wet fuse...I guess we can expect to wake up any morning now and there be no gas no fuel no electric, no nothing. How many of you can afford $25.00 per gallon just to get to work? Be prepared start a vegetable garden in your back yard.

Let's blame it on the Sunnis.

"Since the end of the war every atrocity committed in Iraq was attributed to the Sunnis, not just the Ba'athists or radical Sunnis but all Sunnis. The poor She'at and Kurds have been suffering for hundreds of years while the Sunnis were all privileged and living in a paradise called Iraq, which is not the same Iraq She'at and Kurds were living in as in that Iraq goods were cheap, salaries hit the skies and we had TV shows where comedians make fun of Saddam. No one had to serve in the military and we were free to travel anywhere we wanted. In those times only She'at and Kurds were forced to serve in the army while Sunnis only worked as managers and ministers. Those poor She'at soldiers and officers were forced to kill their own people in the south and bomb their most holy shrine in Krabala in the 1991 uprising...

When I served in the military I made friends with a devoted She'at Captain, well not made friends but actually I was paying him so that I spent most of the 3 months I had to serve in my home. This guy was very proud of his job and accomplishments. He often talked about his heroic actions against the "saboteurs". Who were those saboteurs? No, not just the Badr Brigade which was active after 1991 but mostly anyone who stood against Saddam during the uprising and that meant the vast majority of the She'at. Yet this Captain always refer to the She'at Imams and quote them during our conversations saying this Imam "Peace be upon him" or that Imam "God bless his secret" which I'm sorry I don't know what it means!"
Free Iraqi

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Whole Port Thing, considered ...

"It's pretty obvious to me that there was a quid pro quo cut somewhere along the line - one the Administration can't talk about.

It also seems that the ones who know ALL the details about the decision to back the deal are the ones sticking out their necks to let it go through.

Obviously, Congress can't keep a secret.

If the Bush Administration really wants this thing to go through, then I think everyone else needs to come off their meds. Yes, even Michelle Malkin."

Samarra Attack, the Last Straw? Part 2

"Movement today was sparse. The government announced it a day off yesterday, while Sistani, the supreme religious Shi’ite authority, called for his followers to close their businesses for 7 days in mourning. Both he and Muqtada Al-Sadr have urged their followers to continue their ‘peaceful’ protests today, resulting in more retaliatory clashes and attacks against mosques in several areas of Baghdad. No one can really fathom the amount of damage since movement is very limited. We went out to buy supplies, food and fuel. Baghdadis tend to stockpile at any sign of a looming crisis.

There was not much to hear in our area, apart from the occasional thud and fire exchange, which are really usual everyday experiences for the last 3 years. There was no presence of security forces that I could witness. Friends from areas around Sadr city said pickups full of armed men in black were patrolling the streets, unchallenged by Iraqi security forces. Many people swear that the Interior ministry forces are explicitly siding with the Mahdi militiamen in their rampage of arson and plundering. Most of the mosques in Baghdad are now closed and surrounded by barbed wire....

..Map of nationwide attacks updated:"

Healing iraq
That map looks like they are trying to carve the nation in two

Hey Iraqi Sunnis, it's called BLOWBACK!!!

"For the last three years the Iraqi Sunnis in their Triangle have housed, aided, and provided valuable logistical support to the foreign terrorists in their joint attacks on the Multinational Forces. But Zarqawi and his Al Qaeda in Iraq, of course, were always playing a double game. His ultimate goal was to bring civil war to Iraq, and yesterday his group scored a direct hit.

There would be no Al Qaeda in Iraq without the support of the Sunnis in the Triangle. And now, my dear lovelies, comes the BLOWBACK.

The Sunnis are a minority in Iraq and for thirty years they and their NATIONAL LEADER Saddam Hussein have repressed and tortured and killed the Shia of the south. On top of that, for the last three years the Sunnis have been killing the Shia with the help of Al Qaeda in Iraq, whose hatred of the Shia was spelled out in no uncertain terms by Zarqawi. So how long did you expect the Shia to take it lying down? There's no question now that the Shia have put together hit-squads to take out Sunnis."
Am I the only one that sees a big cliff with sharp turns and no guardrails at the end of this road?

What happened in Samarra

"Ziad Khalaf write an article about what happened in Samarra.

The truth is still a mystery. Iraq for all news published the "strange" statement of the Interior Minister explaining what happened.
The Interior Minister has issued a statement (In Arabic) stating that "the terrorist unit controlled the shrine on Tuesday night, February 21, 2006 at 7:55 p.m. (local time)" but that "the two bombs exploded on Wednesday morning, February 22 at 6:40 a.m." while stating that "the shrine is guarded by 35 police guards".

Citizen of Mosul

US troops taught Iraqi gestures

The US military has funded a computer game to teach its troops how to use and decipher Iraqi body language.

The purpose is to teach soldiers that using the wrong gestures can potentially cause offence and escalate already tense situations.

In the program, users must build trust with local people through verbal communication and gestures.

One of the system's creators says the training tool, known as Tactical Iraqi, has already been a great success.

Hannes Vilhjalmsson, a research scientist at the University of Southern California, gave details of the Tactical Iraqi at a conference in St Louis, US.

The system also gives troops Arabic language skills.

Cultural differences

The program teaches military personnel some key gestures such as an up-down movement with the right hand to ask someone to slow down and gives them tips such as removing mirror sunglasses when approaching local people.

"In Iraq, to show sincerity you have to put more effort into your gestures," said Dr Vilhjalmsson.

"In Western countries, we control our body language more. In Arabic culture, it is important you show how open you are."

He added that reserved body language in exchanges with local people could be interpreted as having something to hide in Iraq, potentially escalating a tense situation.

Military personnel also learn that people can approach each other more closely than one normally might in the West.

Dr Vilhjalmsson said it was important troops should not automatically interpret close proximity in an exchange as a threat.

And the game teaches them that pointing the finger at a person can be considered aggressive in Arab cultures.

Regional variation

Tactical Iraqi is built on top of the game engine for Unreal Tournament, a first-person computer "shoot-em-up". In the training tool, though, subjects use communication to resolve situations.

Dr Vilhjalmsson said initial testing of Tactical Iraqi with marines deployed to Iraq had shown the programme to be very effective.

The University of Southern California is also working on other versions of the game: Tactical Pashto, which trains troops in communication specific to Afghanistan; and Tactical Levantine, which teaches them Arabic language and gestures specific to Lebanon and other surrounding areas.

The training system has been funded by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa).

Dr Vilhjalmsson was speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in St Louis, US.


The night before the bombing: Two eyewitnesses

"The picture above shows Sunnis in Samarra demonstrating and condemning the bombing of the “Golden Dome”, the Imam in picture is a Sunni imam, you can tell from his white turban, Shiia imams wear a black turban.

I want the readers to know that for Samarra inhabitants, the mosques doesn’t represents a Shiia shrines only but represents the existence of the city also and they are very proud of them, even when the situation went very bad between Sunni and Shiia, Shiia pilgrimages to city never attacked by any group, it’s kind of unwritten code of honor.

Testimonies of two eyewitnesses near the bombed Dome:"
Baghdad Dweller
According to ladybird's witnesses, the US set the explosives that destroyed the golden dome using the ING to do the actual dirty work.

Another crime on the face of the Wahabi terrorism

"The barbaric and savage attack on the Shire of Imam Al-Hassan Al-Askari in Samara is a continuation of the barbarism of the Saudi Wahabi terrorism, which started such destruction against the entire ancient heritage.

The Shrine is more than a thousand years old and is an important historic site irrespective of who was buried there.

This barbaric act represent only the failure of the terrorists to achieve their goals and it may be one of their last cards against the Shia in Iraq.

Until now thousands of Shiites were killed and their shrines were destroyed since 2003 after the regime toppled. This is nothing but a racist act."
Sam has closed his comments, I have no idea, I imagine it must have something to do with his last post that was critical of our ambassador, so he must have been getting a lot of hate mail or something..


"IED’s , mortar attacks and the ever so crappy SVBIEDs are continuous throughout the area. I say that not to say things aren’t getting better because they are but I say it because the American public needs to be aware that although our trusty news service doesn’t report it we still are fighting our asses off here and Marines are still dieing. Not to take away form Afghanistan or Africa where most recent two CH53s crashed in maneuvers killing 10. I happen to know one of the pilots who survived and was able to swim to safety. Hardly any scratches then the others past on. Proof that when its your time its your time.

I caught a news blip last night as a burned a nice stoag and a guy used the analogy that Iraq is like a classroom that has 3 gangs in it and they have been fighting for the past 30 years. This guy made the point of what would then happen if the teacher called in sick or a substitute showed up one day?? This isn’t too far off and could be expanded that now the student can read and do math and all the bully’s are now gone or moved to another part of the school that wont affect the class. However, much of the outcome depends on the student attitude and will. Many ask what will this place be like when we pull out?? Will there be a civil war? Who knows but the country has a lot to work out still. Is the Iraqi Army ready to fight without the Coalition? Not all of them but a lot of the Iraqi units are."
One Marine's View

In the aftermath of the shrine attack...

"Today is a day off in Iraq, emergency situation now officially declared with extended curfews 8pm-6am.

Sistani has been calling for restraint and calm but it seems that some Shia factions are not listening to him but instead they are listening to their direct references or acting on their own.

Spokesmen of the Islamic Party and Muslim Scholars claim more than 120 mosques have been blown up, set ablaze or came under small arms and RPG fire including the Um al-Qura mosque which is the HQ of the Association of Muslim Scholars which came under several drive-by shootings.

Radio Sawa reported a short while ago that the central morgue in Baghdad received some 80 bodies of people who were killed with gun shots since Wednesday afternoon."

We Are All Misinformed!

"You guys always said you don’t get all the news from Iraq. And I always agreed with you!

I was shocked today when I read the news in the foreign newspapers. No one emphasized the marvelous cooperation and solidarity between the Shiites and the Sunnis in Iraq yesterday after the bombing of one of the most respected and visited holy sites in Islam, the Askariyah shrine, which is in Samarra city north of Baghdad. The shrine contains the remains of two 9th century Imams, Imam Ali al-Hadi and Imam Hasan Askari. They are now wrongly considered as Shiite Imams. [Just so you know, in the 9th century there weren't Shiites and Sunnis yet. There were Muslims, who were fighting each other over power. And later on they invented Sunni and Shiite parts of Islam. Also for a background, all the dead “Shiite” Imams of the earlier centuries, like Mousa Kadhum, Ali, Hussein, and others, are considered as Sunni Imams too and are very much respected by all Muslims because they descend from Profit Muhammed. Sunni Imams, like Abu Haneefa, Abdul Qadir Gailani, Ahmed Rifaie, and others, cannot be considered as Shiite Imams because not all of them share the same grandfather. Therefore, I told my friends yesterday that the terrorists played it wrong. if they want to provoke a civil war, they should attack shrines of Sunni Imams, because that would upset more Sunnis than Shiites, not like yesterday. Yesterday, the attack upset and angered Sunnis and Shiites equally.]

Here are some information,which, for whatever reason, you don’t get in your news about the bombing:"
24 Steps to Liberty

Attack or accident

OK I have a question which I thought of yesterday. How much explosive would it take to create the damage to the mosque? It would seem to me that such extensive damage would require a substantial amount of explosives? how was it trucked in, I mean did they unload boxes or something, it would seam that it would take more than what you could carry under your shirt, or in your pockets. Did they have handtrucks like a UPS delivery?...Or, big Or, was the mosque used as an ammo dump? It makes for a big difference if instead of and attack, this was an "accident". Not that it would really matter at this point as this thing is already gaining a life of it's own, and everyone is positioning himself for maximum advantage, but it would be nice to know exactly what happened.

Troops find huge weapons cache while patrolling in western Iraq

U.S. soldiers patrolling western Iraq earlier this week uncovered a weapons cache that American military officials called “among the largest discovered to date in western Anbar province.”

According to the U.S. command, soldiers of the Fort Wainwright, Alaska-based 4th Squadron, 14th U.S. Cavalry Regiment, which is assigned to the U.S. Marine Corps’ Regimental Combat Team-7 during their deployment to Iraq, discovered the weapons. The cache, found near al Quratiyah, included more than 3,000 pieces of munitions and was first uncovered during a recon patrol Monday, officials said.

The discovery was made after area residents gave the soldiers a tip on stored weapons, which were hidden near “two displaced piles of dirt and rocks near a vehicle trail,” according to a military news release.

“Upon further investigation, the displaced areas were identified as weapons caches and they were excavated.”

Among the weapons recovered were hundreds of mortar rounds, rockets and other “projectile-type” munitions used to create roadside bombs, the military said.

“This find means a serious reduction in the IEDs (improvised explosive devices) available for anti-Iraqi forces to use in cowardly attacks,” Army Maj. Doug W. Merritt, 4th Squadron operations officer, was quoted as saying in the release.

According to the military, soldiers of the 4th Squadron have uncovered more than 118 weapons caches, including a massive stash last October that included 1,000 artillery rounds and 40,000 armor-piercing bullets, among other weapons.

Stars & Stripes

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Iran Blames Bush

"Dan Murphy of the Christian Science Monitor has an excellent piece interpreting the significance of the turmoil over the bombing of the Askariyah shrine in Samarra.

Shiites came out in the thousands all over the Shiite south on Wednesday to protest. Quoting Sunni Arab spokesmen, the wire services are saying 75 Sunni mosques have been attacked, with two burned to the ground and 3 Sunni clergymen assassinated, with 6 Sunni Arabs dead altoghether in the violence.

In the southern city of Kut, AP says, 3,000 protesters came out to rally against the United States and Israel.

AFP says that 10,000 people in East Baghdad converged on the office of Muqtada al-Sadr, chanting against "Wahhabis" and America.

AP also describes some of the other violence:"
Juan Cole


"IRAQ ON THE EDGE?....Dan Murphy of the Christian Science Monitor says that the bombing of the al-Askari shrine in Samarra is very bad news:
As citizens deserted the streets of Baghdad in the wake of the attack, many said they feared this could be a seminal moment in Iraq's low-intensity civil war.

"The war could really be on now,'' says Abu Hassan, a Shiite street peddler who declined to give his full name. "This is something greater and more symbolic than attacks on people. This is a strike at who we are."

...."This could be a tipping point,'' says Juan Cole, a historian of Shiite Islam at the University of Michigan. "At some point, the Shiite street is going to be so fed up that they're not going to listen any more to calls for restraint."

Who attacked the shrine in Samarra?

"Think about it logically, the mosque in samara was there centuries ago, never been assaulted, attacked or any harm done to the building before.

Since the occupation, the mosque was an “available target” but nothing happened so why now and how will benefit from such attack?.

We have two suspects:"
Baghdad dweller

Civil War, Sectarian Strife, and "Liberation"!

"It was a sunny, cool, and beautiful day till the bad news was spread in allover the country. "One of the most revered shrines in Shiite Islam was bombed early this morning, causing the collapse of its dome," I heard the anchor saying on radio saw while I was going back to the office after a short assignment. Here is news again. I did not expect that this time it is not a mere explosion. It was worse than that.

When I returned back to the office, I started working on gathering the information and then my bureau chief assigned me to write the story to the web.

The first footage I saw was shown on the CNN taken from a local Iraqi channel, Al-Masar. I was shocked by the fact that a huge part of the shrines of Imam Ali al-Hadi and his son Hasan al-Askari were damaged by the bombs. Iron bars poking into the sky were all that was left. I did not have a good feeling and thought this might be the spark unless Iraqis understand that this is what their enemies really want. "I hope they don't reach their goals," I said within myself of the terrorists act. But I was wrong. What happened was not so much expected until the Shiite Marjiya [religious authorities], the Sunni clergymen and politicians, and the educated people showed up on TV and radio stations. They called on Iraqis to be aware of the danger and to have self control. However, attacks against Sunnis have already started."
Treasure of Baghdad

A Blog is much safer than Al-Askari Shrine

"Today’s attack on Al-Askari Shrine is a tragic milestone in the history of Iraq under the occupation. It’s a sad day for all Iraqis, Muslims and non Muslims, Arabs and non Arabs.

Iraqis are very very angry now. This attack was followed by more condemned small attacks against some few mosques around the country in a manifestation of the sectarian tension growing under the US led occupation, but all of these attacks were condemned and stopped very soon.

When the Iraqi volcano erupts, it won't burn Iraqis. Unlike what the bush administration is trying to promote and claim, Iraqis never had a civil war, and they’ll never have one unless the occupation troops stay in Iraq. The US troops should leave Iraq as soon as possible so that Iraqis would have the time and space to heal their wounds and deal with their internal issues. The US army shouldn't be left in Iraq to face the ire of millions of Iraqis."
Read in the Middle
Talk about spin

Civil war, is it close, and is it really a disaster?

"Today's attack on the holy shrine of two She'at Imams in Samarra has created so far a huge wave of protest and anger accompanied with sporadic reprisals here and there by zealous She'at led and urged mainly by the Sadirists and the SCIRI while Sistani is calling for peaceful protests and is forbidding any revenge against Sunnis and their warship places.

I tend to see this as not as bad as it looks. The attack is definitely a terrorist act aims to inflaming sectarian divisions and creating a civil war, the She'at are over reacting and some of them are pointing the accusation directly or indirectly towards all Sunnis. This is all bad, but the good thing is the different reaction among She'at religious authorities, the 'formal' one represented by Sistani and the more radical represented by the Sadirists and the SCIRI. There's no question that most She'at follow Sistani and that's why those two strong radical organizations still need his blessings and support. Sistani being a religious man who believes in the She'at dogma sees that he needs the help of those two even if he disagrees with them and fear them to some extent in order to strengthen the role of She'at in Iraq and glorify what he stands for. Both parties put with so much from each other to achieve their own agenda, but recently the split started to widen not only between the formal and more radical side but also between the two radical ones. Power hunger has always served to blind people at one point or another and the struggle among the allies can be more bitter and worse than that between them and their common enemy."
Free Iraqi

Has The Moment Arrived?

"I don't have to explain much. But, it sounds like Iraq is one step closer to the start of its civil war. I hope I'm wrong this time. Not that there's much hope left.

I don't want to sound sarcastic during this difficult time. But, I'm really relieved there were no Iraqis involved in the Ohio terror cell.

The coming days will test the unity of the Iraqi people and its government. Keep all Iraqis in your prayers. They need them."
Fayrouz in Beaumont

Holy Shia shrine bombed in Samarra.

"As if we didn't have enough problems already!

The quality of the target and the timing of the attack were chosen in a way that can possibly bring very serious consequences over the country.

The situation in Baghdad is so tense now, it wasn't like this in the early hours of the morning as it took a few hours for the news to spread but on my way back from clinic I saw pickup vehicles with loudspeakers roaming the streets calling on people to shut their stores in the name of the Hawza and join the protests after the noon prayer to condemn the attack on the holy shrine.

Ayatollah Sistani reacted quickly to the escalating anger by issuing a fatwa that forbids his followers from "Taking any action against Sunni sites" obviously to discourage his followers from carrying out retaliatory attacks on Sunni mosques.
Sistani has also demanded a 7 day mourning and to consider it a week off but the government so far has announced only a 3 day official mourning.
Muqtada cut his tour in Lebanon and is heading back to Baghdad, he called on his followers from Beirut to "have self-control and refrain from violence".

Right now there's heavy deployment for the police and other security forces with more frequent checkpoints that are stop-searching cars more often than they usually do.
Sporadic gunfire is heard in different spots in Baghdad but no one knows for sure if the firing meant clashes or mere angry shooting in the air."
The fuse is lit, the bomb is ticking, and not a word from the administration, not a word from Rush, no conservative talking point, no press briefings under a mission accomplished banner. Nothing but silence. Are they holing their breath, bracing for the explosion, hoping for the best.
If there was ever a moment where we needed a leader to step up and take control of the situation, now really looks like that time.

Samarra Attack, the Last Straw?

"The situation in Baghdad is bad, bad, bad. I had to flee work early and return home after news of large protests in Shi'ite districts, and several attacks against Sunni mosques in the Baladiyat, Sha'ab and Dora districts by angry rioters. Sunnis are being blamed for the attack against a Shia holy shrine in Samarra, a largely Sunni town.

The streets look empty now, and all stores seem to be closed. I can hear gunfire and American helicopters and jets circling the skies.

I'll update again when I get a grip on what is going on. Things look tense enough."
Healing Iraq

Sorry I haven't posted in such a long time.

"Sorry I haven't posted in such a long time. I keep saying this will change and that I will post more frequently but things have been going against my will. I was busy with work which also made me less focused on what's happening in Iraq and I didn't have any solid thought I thought was worth sharing, but I will try my best to post as much as I can.

I intend to post something soon but for now I wanted to share this cartoon I found on an Iraqi newspaper that I think is interesting. It's mainly about the bad effect of religion or more religious parties on the general situation in Iraq. It was published in Al-Muatamar newspaper which is the official paper of the INC (Chalabi's party) that's a liberal secular party that still have a majority of She'at.
The three nails driven into the sign have the words; Occupation, Corruption and Terrorism. On the back the nail has no word attached to it but the bead is an obvious hint at religion. I believe the use of "Occupation" was just to show that the artist is a nationalist and it's a usual thing to do when you approach any political or religious taboos but everyone familiar with the paper knows it's pro-liberation and they even stated that clearly many times."
Free Iraqi

Bird Flu Outbreak - Iraq

"I've meant to write about bird flu for some time now. When the outbreak in Turkey started in January I had a renewed impetus however my schedule has been all enveloping since the beginning of the year. Because of it's importance both in terms of human health as well as potential impacts on wild bird populations I will devote some time to this topic. This is a significant departure to my usual posts on Iraqi natural history.

With two confirmed deaths, several more reported including one from outside of the Kurdish region there is sufficient evidence that certain precautionary measures should be taken including the slaughter of flocks in areas where bird or human infections have been confirmed and people changing behaviors to limit contact with domestic or wild birds such as the use of a mask when tending flocks in areas where no cull has been ordered and stopping all activities like hunting where a person might handle dead birds.

The large scale cull of poultry will cause significant hardship for those who rely on small subsistence flocks of poultry for food. It will also put a strain on the commercial poultry and egg producers.

The main message is to avoid close contact with domestic or wild birds. Most cases to date of Avian Influenza H5N1 have been associated with this risk factor, especially handling birds that are sick or dead. I'll pull together as much useful information as I can for those on the ground. Worldwide there has been no evidence of widespread person-to-person contact. In January the human disease broke out of East and Southeast Asia when human cases started to be reported from Turkey. Several viral mutations noted in the Turkish outbreak are cause for concern and might make the virus more adapted to humans."
Birdidng Babylon
All you ever wanted to know about the bird flu and were afraid to ask.

Game On?

"BAGHDAD — Men dressed as Iraqi police commandos slipped into Samarra’s shrine of Imam Hasan al-Askari last night, set explosive and blew it up this morning, causing the golden dome to collapse and with it, hopes for a national unity government.

(How important is the Al-Askari shrine? It’s one of the holiest shrines for Shi’a Muslims because Hasan al-Askari is the father of the 12th Imam, or the Mahdi, a messiah-like figure for Muslims world-wide. The father’s remains are buried in the Shrine.) "
Back to Iraq
Here is the story in the NYTimes

If You Don’t Agree, You Are Against Us!

"“Why have you become anti-American. You used to be pro-American,” he accused me with anger in his voice. He was like someone who was waiting for the right moment to say this sentence.

I stretched my back in the chair and said “I am not anti-American. And they’ve become anti-Iraqi too.”

That was part of the conversation I had with a friend of mine last night after I received news from Karbala, a Shiite city 50 miles south of Baghdad, saying that the provincial council there suspended meetings with the U.S. embassy’s representative in the city. Why? There is a story."
24 Steps to Liberty

UAE boycotts Danish goods!!

"All the markets in UAE continue to boycott the Danish goods for the fourth day, even famous series such as Spinneys and Carrefour have joined the campaign against the Danish government and have asked it for an apology.
The case has began in September, when a Danish newspaper first sparked a furor by publishing 12 cartoons, one of which depicted the Prophet Mohammed wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse.
Islamic tradition bars any depiction of the Prophet, even respectful ones, out of concern that such images could lead to idolatry.
According to local newspapers, this boycott made the Danish companies lose between 150 and 200 million Dhs ( about 60 million dollars till now)."
Diary of Rosebaghdad
A quick look at the UAE through the eyes of and Iraqi. Make sure you go to the main page and read all her entries.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Guantanamo actors held at airport

The actors who star in movie The Road to Guantanamo were questioned by police at Luton airport under anti-terrorism legislation, it has emerged.
The men, who play British inmates at the detention camp, were returning from the Berlin Film Festival where the movie won a Silver Bear award.

One of the actors, Rizwan Ahmed, said a police officer asked him if he intended to make any more "political" films.

The men were released quickly and not arrested, said Bedfordshire police.


"Six people were stopped under the Terrorism Act. This is something that happens all the time and obviously at airports and train stations," said a spokeswoman.

"There is a heightened state of security since the London bombings. Public safety is paramount."

Actor Farhad Harun was also questioned, along with Shafiq Rusul and Rhuhel Ahmed, the men whose detention in Guantanamo is chronicled in the film.

Mr Ahmed also alleges that he was verbally abused by a police officer and had his mobile phone taken from him for a short period.

The actor also claims that he was told by police that he could be held for up to 48 hours without access to a lawyer.

He says he was initially questioned at the airport's baggage pick-up area and taken to a separate room when he demanded to know why.

Human rights organisation Reprieve, who Mr Ahmed has asked to speak on his behalf, called Thursday's incident an "ugly farce".


They have called for an urgent inquiry into what happened while one of the film's producers, Melissa Parmenter, said the detention was outrageous.

Bedfordshire police have said they will issue another statement specifically concerning the allegations made by Mr Ahmed and Reprieve.

The Road to Guantanamo, directed by British film-maker Michael Winterbottom, tells the story of the Tipton Three.

The men from the West Midlands went to Pakistan to arrange a wedding and eventually found themselves at the US camp.

They were picked up in Afghanistan and believed to be terrorist suspects and were eventually released from Guantanamo Bay in 2004 without charge.

The film, shot in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, was made at a cost of £1.5m.


Yea, but they look so Arab!

Hail Bush

One more is saved from the dark side of the force

Thank you president Bush, your doing an outstanding job!

Maybe for your next project you could find an Iranian security firm to help secure the nations energy laboratories and research reactors.

America and Iran: At the Brink of the Abyss

Whether the U.S. will use nuclear weapons against Iran if a military confrontation erupts is in the hands of a single person, President Bush, as stated in NSC 30 from 1948: "the decision as to the employment of atomic weapons in the event of war is to be made by the Chief Executive when he considers such decision to be required." Bush will certainly not ask Congress nor the public permission once hostilities start. Whether or not tactical nuclear weapons should be deployed and used against Iran is a matter that needs to be faced by America right now!

So are U.S. tactical nuclear weapons deployed in the Persian Gulf, on hair-trigger alert, and ready to be launched against Iran at a moment's notice?

I posed the question in December, arguing that every other element needed for a nuclear strike on Iran was "deployed" and ready. On Feb. 3, 2006, an answer was kindly provided by the Chief of Naval Operations in the form of OPNAVINST 5721.1F [.pdf], which states:

"Military members and civilian employees of the Department of the Navy shall not reveal, purport to reveal, or cause to be revealed any information, rumor, or speculation with respect to the presence or absence of nuclear weapons or components on board any specific ship, station or aircraft, either on their own initiative or in response, direct or indirect, to any inquiry."

Oh well then, we don't know for sure, and there is no way to know. Really?

We do know. Because it would be inconsistent with every fiber of the current administration, and with all the circumstances surrounding the Iran scenario, if tactical nuclear weapons were not deployed in the Persian Gulf, following NSPD 35, on high alert and ready to be used in a confrontation with Iran. So we may safely assume they are deployed and they will be used, and make our choices accordingly. Once it happens, it cannot be undone.

The UIA playing the victim!

"Our politicians realize that we're not going to wait forever for them to form a government, neither is the world so they have increased the frequency of their meetings and statements in the hope that this can accelerate the process.
Whether they will succeed in this effort to save time or not is unclear yet but anyway, at least they are doing something!

Yesterday there has been a meeting for the leaders of Iraq's major political blocs and the American ambassador in Kurdistan that we heard of only today. Nothing leaked from this meeting but what's noticed about it is Jafari's absence who probably had to remain in Baghdad to meet the British foreign minister who arrived yesterday.
But actually the interesting thing is that-and according to Abbas al-Bayati of the UIA-is that the American ambassador and the leaders of the UIA didn't actually meet although they were all in Kurdistan, al-Bayati explained "the ambassador didn't show up during our meeting with the Kurdish alliance but he was there during the meetings between the Kurds, the Accord Front and Allawi"."
More on the uppity Shi'a

Ike Palacios recalls Iraq roadside blasts

The first time his vehicle was hit in a roadside bombing in Iraq, 46-year-old Ike Palacios thought that he would die. But he survived, and was thankful for it.

The second time his vehicle convoy was attacked, he uttered, "This is the end."

But no. He only got injured, hospitalized, and got back to his usual duties as roadside patrol personnel.

"I sustained neck injuries. I suffered from bad headache, and pain in the back. But I'm alive," said Palacios, smiling, in a recent interview.

"We were in a convoy. The car behind us and in front of us got hit. Although we're not directly hit, we all got injured in the truck," he said.

The incident happened on a special date, Oct. 16, 2005, the birthday of his father.

"I really thought it's my end but I've been lucky. I thank God for that and the prayers of many people," he said.

Palacios and other members of the Echo Company are back on Saipan after a year of duty in Iraq.

Palacios is an Army Reservist who was called by the U.S. military last year to serve in the war-stricken country.

Palacios said he experienced at least seven road bombings while patrolling villages in Iraq.

"But after my two incidents, I lost my fear. I believe that if it's your time, it's your time. I realized that it's not my time yet," he said.

Life in Iraq was quite hard, especially with his kind of assignment as truck patrol personnel.

"It's hard. Everyday, you're not sure if there's tomorrow. We're always on alert. We go out at dawn into the villages. We patrol 24 hours, protecting the civilians. We've got to be careful since everyday the enemies are planting bombs everywhere," he said.

He said the insurgents would hide improvised explosives behind a dead animal, trash, or broken vehicle.

It was most difficult "because we can't determine who are the real enemies" since they look and act like ordinary civilians.

Palacios said there was only a limited time to communicate with his family but whenever he had the chance, he would call his family to tell them he is doing good.

He said soldiers have access to the Internet and telephone at the base.

"I call them when I get the chance. I e-mailed, too," he said.

Despite all the hardships, he said he feels proud and fulfilled over his Iraq assignment. "We are fighting for freedom," he added.

Palacios' wife Cindy said she is happy and was speechless when he arrived late last month. "I'm just happy to see him back," she said.

Palacios said he would soon be back to work at the Marianas Public Lands Authority as a land inspector.

Returning Army Reservists have a 90-day period to return to their work.

The Echo Company was fielded to Iraq in February 2005. They completed their duty and proceeded to Kuwait on Jan. 1, 2006. They arrived on Saipan in batches since last month.

Sapian Tribune

2nd ID battalion ready for Iraq after ambush drill

RODRIGUEZ RANGE, South Korea — Despite the gusting winds and frigid mountain air, Spc. Patrick Kilts and Pfc. Trevino Francisco were all smiles by Friday afternoon.

The brass lying at their feet and the bullet-riddled pop-up targets in front of their convoy at Rodriguez Range meant that they and their fellow soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division’s Headquarters and Headquarters Support Company, Special Troops Battalion had done their job well.

The headquarters company may not be a traditional front-line unit, but with roadside attacks now commonplace during war, even soldiers in noncombat specialties may find themselves in a firefight if they deploy.

“It’s good training for an ambush in a convoy, with real rounds, jumping out of the vehicle and firing … especially if you’re going to Iraq,” Kilts said.

Troops from 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 302nd Brigade Support Battalion’s Foxtrot Company also practiced convoy operations and moving target fire Friday, while the 1-72 Armor Regiment trained in another range area. Some troops in the exercises have been training at Rodriguez Range for the past three weeks on a broad range of tactical skills and will continue training throughout the month, officials said.

During Friday’s exercise, convoy vehicles rolled across a road and stopped at the ambush point, where soldiers dismounted and took positions around their vehicles.

They fired M-16s and .50 caliber rifles at black pop-up, waist-high targets appearing from just over a mound in front of them.

Communication at all times was key during the ambush response, said headquarters company Pvt. Monica Hernandez.

“It’s exciting for me,” said Hernandez, who had been training at the range for eight days. “We learned some of this in basic (training), but here we are spending more time on it.”

The training emphasized dismounting vehicles not only safely, but in the most tactically effective way, she said.

Soldiers from other companies observed the training and said they particularly noticed the attention paid to key skills such as hand signaling and muzzle awareness.

“We’ve also got a few tips now on what we would like to work on next month,” said observer 1st Lt. Tamir Saleem, targeting officer with 2nd ID’s Fire Support Element.

Along with convoy dismount training, that may include more time spent shooting on the move and casualty-carrying drills, Saleem said.

Stars & Stripes
Bush called the pool back at about 2.30 to issue a very strong defense of port deal... MORE... On port deal he said he would veto any legislation to hold up deal and warned the United States was sending "mixed signals" by going after a company from the Middle East when nothing was said when a British company was in charge. Lawmakers, he said, must "step up and explain why a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard." Bush, sporting the Air Force One fight jacket and a tie, was very forceful when he delivered the statement... I don't view it as a political fight," Bush said. MORE...

You people should have voted for Kerry in the first place, now you find yourself having to explain this away. Well I'm ready, all ears.

Confusion Leads to Suspicion

"Several matters dealing with Iraq surfaced recently. They added more tension and confusion to the way the Iraqis, Arabs & Muslims view the US, UK & West in general. Many questions are raised. Ordinary people in Iraq, Arab & Muslim world are so confused about the real intentions of the West, represented by US, UK, Denmark…etc.

A video showed a group of British soldiers beating a bunch of teenagers in Basra. Another release deals again with the abuses at Abu-Ghraib prison. The British government is dealing with the matter firmly. Regarding the British official attitude, one may look for an excuse which makes it understandable, since immediate decision is made to pursue the wrongdoers.

On the other hand, the second release of Iraqi detainees’ pictures & videos in Abu-Ghraib, which may have more issues in the future, represents a flaw in the way the US administration dealt with this dossier. Mr. Rumsfeld said in a previous session to the Congress that there would be more of these pictures. He said that he had seen much more than those released in April 2004. The question is “Why the Pentagon did not publish the whole bunch of them at the same time?” On doing so it wouldn’t take the sequence of rubbing salt into the wound every now and then. Moreover, it seems that the martial court did not put much effort to root out the whole story, since many big heads would roll. One may wonder whether the US administration wants to attract more terrorists to Iraq. And if it is so, more American soldiers could be harmed."
Ibn Alrafidain