Friday, June 30, 2006

A Spat Over Iraq Revealed On Tape

MOSCOW, June 29 -- The official State Department version is that "there was absolutely no friction whatsoever" between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a meeting of foreign ministers in Moscow on Thursday.

But a recording of the ministers' private lunch, made when an audio link into the room was accidentally left on, showed that "Condi" and "Sergei" -- as they called each other -- had several long and testy exchanges over Iraq. The disputes concerned relatively minor wording changes in the five-page statement issued after the meeting, but grew out of basic differences between the two governments over how to proceed on Iraq.

The State Department's subsequent denial of tensions illustrates how officials manage the information that flows to the public from such closed-door meetings to create an image meant to advance foreign policy objectives. Reporters often have no independent account of such discussions.

At a time of rising tension in U.S.-Russian relations, the two diplomats sparred in sometimes tedious terms for more than 20 minutes over a handful of words in a document that is likely to be quickly forgotten. Other ministers jumped in to cool tempers by suggesting compromises.

During the meal -- the recording picks up the clinking of ice in glasses and the scratch of cutlery on plates -- Rice said she wanted to make a few "small points" about a draft statement prepared by lower-level officials. In particular, she said, she was seeking a stronger show of support for the nascent Iraqi government.

Lavrov demurred, suggesting the new leaders had not done enough to promote national reconciliation.

"I'm always a little bit sensitive about this on behalf of the Iraqis," Rice shot back. "Here we sit in Moscow or in Washington or in Paris telling them to make efforts on national accord when their brothers and sisters are being killed. I just think it's gratuitous."

Lavrov eventually gave ground, but then protested when Rice wanted to delete a sentence in a section regarding the killing of five Russian diplomats in Iraq.

"Urgent methods are being taken to provide security for diplomats," Rice said. The sentence "implies they are not being taken, and you know on a fairly daily basis we lose soldiers, and I think it would be offensive to suggest that these efforts are not being made."

Lavrov countered that the sentence was not intended to criticize but was "just a statement of fact, I believe."

"I don't believe security is fine in Iraq, and I don't believe in particular that security at foreign missions is okay," he said. He suggested shortening the sentence to emphasize "the need for improved security for diplomatic missions."

"Sergei, there is a need for improvement of security in Iraq, period," Rice said in a hard voice. "The problem isn't diplomatic missions. The problem is journalists and civilian contractors and, yes, diplomats as well."

She continued: "The problem is you have a terrorist insurgent population that is wreaking havoc on a hapless Iraqi civilian population that is trying to fight back. The implication that by somehow declaring that diplomats need to be protected, it will get better, I think, is simply not right."

Lavrov began to respond, but Rice cut him off.

"I understand that in the wake of the brutal murder of your diplomats, that it is a sensitive time," she said. "But I think that we can't imply that this is an isolated problem or that it isn't being addressed."

Other ministers jumped in and suggested compromise language to calm tempers: "The tragic event underscores the importance of improving security for all in Iraq."

Then Rice said she wanted to seek an endorsement of an Iraqi proposal for an "international compact" in which the Baghdad government would have to meet certain broad goals in order to collect aid, similar to a package for Afghanistan. But Lavrov refused, saying the concept was too new and needed more development and support from other countries. He suggested the creation of a forum of neighboring governments to oversee reconciliation in Iraq.

Rice said she worried he was suggesting greater international involvement in Iraq's affairs.

"I did not suggest this," Lavrov said. "What I did say was not involvement in the political process but the involvement of the international community in support of the political process."

"What does that mean?" Rice asked.

There was a long pause. "I think you understand," he said.

"No, I don't," Rice said.

Lavrov tried to explain, but Rice said she was disappointed. "I just want to register that I think it's a pity that we can't endorse something that's been endorsed by the Iraqis and the U.N.," she said, adding tartly: "But if that's how Russia sees it, that's fine."

The two continued to squabble when Lavrov threw out a new concept -- that the new Iraqi government had to answer questions about former president Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction because last week Republican lawmakers in the United States had said there was evidence of chemical munitions.

"I think it's serious," he said. "While we want to support this government, we also believe that this government has something to do to finalize the leftovers of the past, which is basically nonproliferation concerns."

This line of conversation riled Rice, but once again other ministers suggested a compromise that mentioned the idea without endorsing it.

The Lavrov-Rice sparring continued at a subsequent news conference over issues such as Russia's growing control of natural gas supplies in Europe and threats to democratic institutions in Russia.

Reporters traveling with Rice transcribed the tape of the private luncheon but did not tell Rice aides about it until after a senior State Department official, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity as usual, assured them that "there was absolutely no friction whatsoever" between the two senior diplomats.

Once the flabbergasted official learned of the tape, he continued the briefing. He paused repeatedly, asking before describing a discussion whether reporters had heard it.


Iraq raids succeeding, U.S. says

BAGHDAD, Iraq // The U.S. military claimed an advantage in the fight against al-Qaida in Iraq yesterday, saying raids since the death of its leader have forced many of its foreign fighters out into the open to be captured or killed.
Iraq's bloodshed continued. At least 46 deaths from violence were reported across the country, including nine bullet-riddled bodies pulled from rivers - apparent victims of sectarian death squads.

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq, acknowledged that Iraqi civilians were suffering most from the insurgency, accounting for 70 percent of all deaths and injuries, while he said the number of U.S. casualties did not appear to be on the rise.

But he said the Americans gained momentum in the fight against al-Qaida in Iraq after killing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and have devoted a lot of resources to targeting his successor, Abu Ayyub al-Masri.

"There is no question, if we can take him down, that will just disrupt the organization ... to the point where it would be ineffective for a long period of time," Caldwell said. "It is very disorganized right now."

He said coalition and Iraqi security forces had captured or killed 57 foreign fighters this month.

"The reason we were able to pick up and track some of these midlevel people ... in the last few weeks is because they've been forced to conduct meetings, to get out and be more visible, because their system has been so disrupted," he said.

While cracking down on terror groups, the Iraqi government has offered an olive branch to the Sunni-dominated insurgency, with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announcing a national reconciliation plan and reaching out to militants with an amnesty proposal.

The amnesty would not absolve those who have killed Iraqis or American coalition troops. But proving which individuals have carried out fatal attacks would be a difficult task in many cases. The issue is extremely sensitive in the United States, which has lost more than 2,500 uniformed men and women in Iraq.

Insurgent and government officials said Wednesday that 11 Sunni militant groups had offered an immediate halt to all attacks - including those on American troops - if the United States agreed to withdraw foreign forces from Iraq in two years.

Yesterday, Iraqi presidential security adviser Wafiq al-Samaraie said he received an e-mail Wednesday with an offer of cooperation from a person describing himself as a member of "one of the most dangerous violent groups abroad."

"We answered him immediately by e-mail and welcomed him, and he replied to us that there are ammunition piles at point X, go and find it, and there is a criminal in such a place ... so this is a blessing of the reconciliation initiative," al-Samaraie told state-run al-Iraqiya TV.

He did not discuss whether the information was accurate.

Shootings and bombings yesterday killed 12 people in Baghdad. In the northern city of Kirkuk, a suicide car bomber struck the funeral of a Shiite soldier, killing four people and wounding 27, police and hospital officials said.

Highlighting the government's efforts to rein in the violence and take over control of its own security from U.S. forces, Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani led a celebration at the police academy in Baghdad to swear in 560 newly graduated recruits.


Iraq Seeks Saudi Backing on Reconciliation

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is going to neighboring Saudi Arabia to seek support for his national reconciliation initiative from leaders of the influential oil-rich kingdom, a government official said Friday.

Five American soldiers, meanwhile, were under investigation for allegedly raping a young woman south of Baghdad, then killing her and three family members, a U.S. military official told The Associated Press, adding that the soldiers allegedly burned the body of the woman.

Al-Maliki, a member of Iraq's Shiite majority, plans to discuss his program for bridging the Shiite-Sunni divide in Iraq with Saudi leaders Saturday, said the Iraqi official, who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Saudi Arabia is predominantly Sunni Muslim, as are most Arab states, and Iraqi leaders hope outside support for the reconciliation initiative will help draw in Iraq's disgruntled Sunni minority, which is the backbone of the insurgency.

Al-Maliki's plan includes an amnesty for fighters, and the prime minister's office says it was indirectly contacted this week by 11 insurgent groups, some of which insisted that Saudi Arabia be an observer in future peace talks.

The prime minister also will visit Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates on Saturday and will be accompanied by several ministers, said Shiite lawmaker Hassan al-Suneid, a member of al-Maliki's Dawa party.

Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said Friday that he rejected the initiative, which does not set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led foreign troops.

``We demand the occupation forces to leave the country or at least a timetable should be set for their withdrawal,'' al-Sadr said.

Animosities between Sunnis and Shiites have become a growing element of the country's bloodshed.

Officials said Friday that Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition forces clashed with gunmen northeast of Baghdad after armed Shiite Muslims attacked a convoy of Sunni Arab villagers in retaliation for a bicycle bomb attack.

The Sunnis were attacked Thursday as they were moving out of the religiously mixed village of Daliqiya after being threatened by Shiite residents accusing them of being behind the bicycle bombing in nearby Baqouba that killed at least 25 people Monday, police said.

Iraqi police tried to intervene, but snipers killed the head of the force and his two bodyguards, authorities said. U.S. and Iraqi troops, backed by air support, then engaged in a gunbattle that killed three fighters and wounded three, the U.S. military said, adding that four suspects were detained.

Abdullah al-Dulaimi, a Sunni villager in Daliqiya, said Shiite militiamen started targeting Sunni homes with bombs and gunfire after the bicycle blast, prompting some families to flee.

``I decided to stay,'' he said. ``I chose to defend my properties.''

Only a few police patrols remained in the village Friday, but ``the situation is still tense,'' al-Dulaimi said.

The fighting reflected a rise in sectarian violence in the Sunni-dominated Diyala province, which surrounds Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad.

In nearby Muqdadiyah, a rocket-propelled grenade hit a Shiite mosque Friday, and 30 minutes later, gunmen in black uniforms often worn by Shiite militias attacked a Sunni mosque, police said.

Gunmen in two cars also killed Sunni Sheik Hatam Mitaab al-Khazraji after he finished Friday prayers in Abu Saida, northwest of Baqouba, police said.

The U.S. military has staged several raids in the area since al-Qaida in Iraq's leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed there earlier this month. The military said Thursday it had gained an advantage in the fight against the terror network.

Osama bin Laden purportedly paid tribute to al-Zarqawi in a new audio message Friday, saying the slain Jordanian militant had been under orders to kill Iraqis who supported U.S. forces in the country. In the 19-minute message, bin Laden also demanded that President Bush hand over al-Zarqawi's body to his family and vowed more attacks against the United States.

It was the fourth audio message purportedly put out this year by bin Laden. The voice in the latest message - released on an Islamic Web forum where militants often post messages - resembled that on previous recordings attributed to bin Laden, but the authenticity of the tape could not be immediately confirmed.

In Beiji, a U.S. military official close to the rape investigation said at least one soldier had confessed and been arrested. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said at least four other soldiers had their weapons taken away and were confined to base.

The U.S. command announced only that a criminal investigation was being conducted into the reported slaying of a family of four, but gave no details.

The official who discussed the case said the suspects were members of the 502nd Infantry Regiment, the same unit that had two men slain when they were kidnapped this month at a checkpoint. But the official said the March killings appeared unrelated to that incident.

A Marine was killed Friday in fighting in the volatile Anbar province west of Baghdad, while three U.S. soldiers died in separate attacks Thursday elsewhere in Iraq, the military said.

The deaths raised to at least 2,533 members of the U.S. military who have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.


Troops in Ramadi Learn to Live With Danger

RAMADI, Iraq (AP) - The hole in the ceiling is just a way to let out steam for the soldiers showering inside a damaged trailer in Ramadi, one of Iraq's most dangerous cities.

But each knows how that hole was created. A mortar round came through the trailer roof a few weeks ago and could have killed everyone inside had it detonated. Most mortars are not so benign, and there are many here.

The Iraq war for most troops is fleeting; brief ambushes or sudden, powerful roadside bombings. But in this troubled city, the capital of deadly Anbar province, the conflict is nearly constant. Gunbattles in the streets are common and mortars rain down on the bases every week.

On the eastern edge of town at Camp Corregidor, a base named after a famous World War II battle in the Philippines, U.S. soldiers regularly hunker down during "indirect fire" attacks or what they generally call "incoming" - military vernacular for inbound rockets or mortars.

The attacks happen at least three times a week, soldiers say, and usually end with explosions that miss their target. Sometimes the mortars hit nearby neighborhoods, maiming and killing civilians.

But the insurgents also have taken a toll on U.S. troops. This week a soldier at an outpost a few blocks from Camp Corregidor was killed by a mortar. Several soldiers have been wounded by shrapnel.

Many soldiers say they have adjusted to this life under regular fire. They say the attacks rarely injure soldiers or hamper operations, although they have many tales of near-misses.

"My latrines took two 60 millimeter mortars, my shower trailer has been disabled by 80 millimeter mortars, and it's not uncommon for us to pick pieces of shrapnel from the side of building," said Capt. Joe Claburn, 29, of the 1st Battalion, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. "We get mortared so much that we don't even flinch anymore."

But others privately acknowledge that the mortars, which thunder throughout the base at all hours, have caused nightmares and took awhile to get used to.

"When we first got here it bothered me. We thought every loud sound was a mortar until we got used to it," said Spc. Lemuel Ross, 24, of Richmond, Va., speaking outside a building that was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade earlier in the year.

The regular insurgent attacks have changed the face of this base, which once was an agricultural college. Troops have piled sandbags on the roofs as protection. Latrines and sidewalks are surrounded by thick concrete walls to deflect shrapnel.

In early June, the military launched an operation to establish new outposts and solidly install U.S. and Iraqi troops in the troubled city 70 miles west of Baghdad.

Some soldiers, desensitized to the attacks, speak of them with fatalistic phrases common in military ranks.

"Mortars are the least of my worries. We look at it this way: If it's going to happen, it's going to happen," said Spc. Milton O'Neal, 20, of Chicago, as he dribbled a basketball during a break between missions.

"Sometimes it's an annoyance if you're in the latrines with your pants down," said Staff Sgt. David Rogers, 26, of Cleveland.

Some attacks seem linked to outside events. For example, shortly after terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed on June 7, soldiers said more than 10 mortars fell on Camp Corregidor.

Other times, insurgents often fire during hours when they think soldiers are congregated for lunch or dinner.

Soldiers walking on the base are required to wear their protective vests and helmets, even for short distances to latrines and shower stalls.

After mortars strike, soldiers are required to account for all members of their units.

While soldiers say that they're so used to explosions that they hardly stir from their sleep anymore, some attacks can hardly be ignored.

"When you hear a 120 (millimeter mortar), you can feel it, not just hear it," said O'Neal. "You know you can't just lie in bed for that one."


Dear Othman

"Its been a while since we have had a time to joke about what is happening around us,

I always like to buy from your shop and we being both sarcastic just for the fun of it, although its painful for both of us but we keep joking anyway, we did discuss that you may be kidnapped or killed if you don't close down the shop for a while, you always said that our ages are within the hands of God, you were true."
Where Date Palms Grow

US captures Iranians, engaged Militia; Iraqi sources report 300 Iraqis freed

"If you haven't heard by now, the US has arrested several Iranian fighters.


Yes, no spelling mistake here, Iranian.

It has been maintained here that several thousand Iranian (and/or Iraqi/Iranian) soldiers, Khoemini Guard and paramilitaries have been infiltrating Iraq since February 2003, prior to the US invasion.

In the first days after the fall of Saddam, many Iraqis reported that militia were guiding traffic and undertaking police actions, but could not speak Arabic. Some initial Iraqi reports cited eyewitnesses who said they heard Farsi - Persian.

The story was never followed up."
Truth About Iraqis

As the US stands down, Iraq will stand up

"After weeks of work at the grassroots level collecting letters from US tax payers written to their representatives in DC and lobbying on the Hill, the House of Representatives has finally passed a measure prohibiting the Pentagon from using funds towards building any permanent military base in Iraq, or even have agreements with the Iraqi government to .

Some weeks after, several thousands of letters and phone calls were generated to DC, and a similar amendment was passed by the Senate in which no future funds could be used to “establish permanent United States military bases in Iraq, or to exercise United States control over the oil infrastructure or oil resources of Iraq”. "
Raed in the Middle
Looks like Raed is wrapping himself the APU flag..

Bin Laden drops a CD

"Guess who emerged from his cave to record an audiotape to eulogize one of his top thugs? Bin Laden waxes poetic about Abu Musab Zarqawi , whom he calls "one of our greatest knights and princes" and a symbol of the Islamic nation.

Bin Laden continues to discuss Zarqawi's murders in Iraq:"


"First of all, it is football (soccer) that keeps me away from the PC. It is so nice to have some thing as entertainment in the mid of all the chaos we, here in Iraq, live daily which makes it impossible to change one's routine. The FIFA World Cup competition is taking place nowadays in Germany. It occupies, for me, the time between 5:00 PM and 1:00 AM. It keeps my attention away from bloodshed news."
Ibn Alrafidain

An Air Force Colonel's View of Marines

"Some things are just too good to keep to yourself....this is one of them.

The email below is from USAF Colonel Brett Wyrick who is the commander of the 154th Medical Group, Hawaii Air National Guard, and is serving as a surgeon in Balad with the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group. Col. Wyrick had been sending his father, a Vietnam-era fighter pilot, emails about his experiences in Iraq:"
Fire and Ice

The Sure Cure For Boredom

"People sometimes ask me if there’s a chance the United States could use another draft to continue its War on Terrorism. In my opinion it’s a toss-up. America never expected a draft in Vietnam, but she got one anyways. Although it’s hard to compare Vietnam to Iraq, it is not unreasonable to assume that, despite talks of a troop withdrawal in the media, the war could very well continue into the next decade and with no easy solutions in the end. As little progress is made within Iraqi security forces and sectarian violence swings closer to a full scale civil war, the United States finds itself continuously stuck between an ‘altruistic’ rock and its ‘accountability’ hard place."
Fight to Survive ~hEkLE


"It's been 3 days since I finished my exams, but I haven't found the chance to write somehow. My sister is staying at our house and the babies are making me nuts; I can not stand the sight of Aya standing by Ayman and trying to stretch his leg, or patting him violently, yet the sight of her kissing him is amusing, but you never know when the next violent move will be. Their mom however is tired all the time and is either feeding Ayman, or sleeping.. The house has turned to a mess in those 3 days."
A Star from Mosul

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Iraq: Nir Rosen and his Occupation of Iraqi Hearts and Minds

"Nir Rosen seems to be the celebre du jour as his book In the Belly of the Green Bird is receiving much acclaim.

I caught wind of Rosen being interviewed by Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria on

I have also read his pieces in The Washington Post, New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, Harper's and Salon, among others.

I have posted below some of what he has written about Iraq recently from TruthDig."
Truth about Iraqis
Ok now I know why Truth ventured away from the APU, credibility.

Ahmadinejad: Iraq's Progress Subject to Withdrawal of Occupiers

TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Wednesday described Iraq a wealthy country with rich resources and stressed that the abundant potentials of that country could be utilized for its progress in case security and stability are established there following withdrawal of occupiers.

Speaking in a meeting with former Iraqi Prime Minister and chairman of the Aldaveh party Ibrahim Jafari here Wednesday afternoon, Ahmadinejad referred to the Iraqi people's progress in recent years, specially with regard to the establishment of a popular government in that country and said, "considering the desirable understanding among political groups, in case Iraqi people endeavor to establish stability and security, they will manage to make up for the shortcomings which were brought about during the era of (Saddam's) dictatorship and occupation."

The president reminded the two nations' common culture and history and their deep bonds and stressing the need for the development of mutual relations in all areas, he voiced Iran's full preparedness to provide Iraqi government with its experiences in various grounds in a bid to help reconstruction of Iraq and providing service to the Iraqi nation.

For his part, Ibrahim Jafari expressed his condolences on the sad occasion of the martyrdom anniversary of the Holy Prophet's daughter, Hazrat Fatemeh Zahra (PBUH) and further briefed the Iranian President on the latest developments in his country.

He also reiterated the necessity for enhanced coordination and cooperation between Tehran and Baghdad in order for the region to enjoy progress and stability and security.

The former Iraqi Premier underlined that from the view point of Islam, the state is intended to establish justice, saying, "Once we practice true justice in our own societies, then we would be able to promote our Islamic culture in the world, because justice is an instinctive phenomenon and the ideal of all the people worldwide."


Does anyone have Putin's e-mail? He should read how his allies agree with those that killed his diplomats.

Putin orders killers of Russians in Iraq be ‘destroyed’

“The president has ordered the special forces to take all necessary measures to find and destroy the criminals who killed Russian diplomats in Iraq,” the Kremlin press service said in a brief statement.

It did not specify what special forces might be involved.

Agents of the Foreign Intelligence Service and the Federal Security Service — the main successor to the Soviet KGB — could be considered special forces.

Meanwhile, a senior Iraqi official said that insurgents are demanding the withdrawal of all US and British forces from Iraq within two years as a condition for joining reconciliation talks.

A top security official also said Iraqi forces captured a key al-Qaida suspect wanted in the bombing of a Shi’ite shrine, but the mastermind of the attack that brought the country to the brink of civil war was still at large.

Iraqi Government officials involved with the contacts with insurgents said several militant groups sent delegates from their regions and tribes to speak on their behalf.

One of the officials said the insurgents have so far rejected face-to-face talks, saying they fear they will be targeted by Shi’ite militias, Iraqi security forces and the Americans.

The official said the insurgents have demanded a two-year timetable for withdrawal in return for joining Nouri al-Maliki’s bid for national reconciliation.

The insurgents also said a condition for any future direct talks would be the presence of observers from the Arab League, Saudi Arabia and Iraq’s influential Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars.

Mr al-Maliki said any amnesty offered under his 24-point reconciliation plan that was unveiled on Sunday would exclude militants who killed American forces or Iraqis.

The prime minister also said no timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops would be imposed until Iraqi forces are ready to take over security. “The timing depends on the capabilities of these (Iraqi) forces,” he said.

His speech came as the Iraqi government struggled to contain rampant ethnic and sectarian violence in the country.

Russian Federal Security Service chief Nikolai Patrushev said that special forces would do everything possible to ensure that the Russians’ killers “do not escape from responsibility”.

Irish Examiner

And just how is this supposed to happen when Russians have no troops in Iraq. Are they going to send commandos? and if so, under whose command are they going to operate?

Maybe the Russians should think twice next time they send weapons to Iran, and next time they send technologies to our enemies. You would think that they might want to cooperate, but I doubt it.

Arabs Back Syria After Israeli Flyover

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - The flyover by Israeli warplanes that buzzed President Bashar Assad's summer home may have embarrassed Syria, but it also rallied Arab support around Damascus.

Even Lebanon's anti-Syrian prime minister, Fuad Saniora, put aside his differences with Assad to send expressions of sympathy to Syria, which has been largely isolated since the Feb. 14, 2005, assassination of Lebanon's former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Jordan, which has a peace treaty with Israel, and Qatar, which has also differed with Syria over the peace process, did the same.

"We might not agree with Syria on everything, but the least we could do in these circumstances is to take a clear stance, not (just) talk," Qatari Foreign Minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr Al Thani said on Al-Jazeera television.

It was that kind of attention that Damascus basks in.

The reaction was typical of the public Arab response to any Israeli aggression or action against a fellow Arab nation, one that Syria may try to capitalize on to prove it is still a vital player in the region despite efforts to marginalize it since Hariri's slaying.

Egypt has turned to Syria, asking it to use its influence with the Palestinian militant Hamas to locate Israeli soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas-linked militants on Sunday, according to a diplomat.

The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said it was not clear whether Syria has complied with the request from Egypt, which is spearheading negotiations to free Shalit.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said "the Syrians are definitely a party" to the crisis, pointing to Hamas' presence in the country.

"They have a responsibility to act responsibly to bring this to a peaceful conclusion," Ereli said. He would not comment on the Israeli overflight.

In a letter to the U.N. Security Council, Syria protested the overflight and Israel's incursion into Gaza, the official state news agency said. "At a time when Israel is seeking to aggravate the situation in all parts of the region, there came its provocation against Syria," the letter said.

Syria has long hosted radical Palestinian factions and since the late 1990s became home for Hamas leaders who were expelled from Jordan. Assad has resisted U.S. demands to close Palestinian militant offices, facing sanctions for refusing to do so. He maintains he cannot ask the leaders to leave because they are unable to return to Palestinian lands.

But the radical Palestinian presence - as well as Syria's support for Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon - gives Damascus influence and leverage that it has always hoped to use to improve its hand in any possible peace negotiations with Israel to reclaim the Golan Heights. Syria lost the territory to Israel in the 1967 Mideast war.

Publicly, the Syrians say they do not interfere with the Palestinians, and it is unclear how much influence Assad wields with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, who Israel says masterminded the kidnapping.

Israel's flyover early Wednesday over Assad's summer home in the coastal city of Latakia was meant as a message to Syria to use its influence with Hamas to release Shalit, whose capture precipitated the latest cycle of violence in the Middle East.

Syria has said the Damascus-based Hamas leadership could not have had a hand in an abduction that took place in another country. Mashaal denies any role.


The should have blown the place to bits. They should have forced the Syrians to fight out in the open, and not from behind their proxies. They want war, the Israelis should have explained it to them in words that they understand.

Military Claims Gains on Iraqi Terrorists

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - The U.S. military claimed an advantage in the fight against al-Qaida in Iraq on Thursday, saying raids since the death of its leader have forced many of its foreign fighters out into the open to be captured or killed.

Iraq's bloodshed continued. At least 46 deaths from violence were reported across the country, including nine bullet-riddled bodies pulled from rivers - apparent victims of sectarian death squads.

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraqi, acknowledged Iraqi civilians were suffering most from the insurgency, accounting for 70 percent of all deaths and injuries, while he said the number of U.S. casualties did not appear to be on the rise.

But he said the Americans gained momentum in its fight against al-Qaida in Iraq after killing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and have devoted a lot of resources to targeting his successor as leader, Abu Ayyub al-Masri.

"There is no question, if we can take him down, that will just disrupt the organization ... to the point where it would be ineffective for a long period of time," Caldwell said. "It is very disorganized right now. And it is very disrupted right now."

He said coalition and Iraqi security forces had captured or killed 57 foreign fighters this month.

"The reason we were able to pick up and track some of these mid-level people ... in the last few weeks is because they've been forced to conduct meetings, to get out and be more visible, because their system has been so disrupted," he said. "And that has given us the opportunities to find them, track them and go get them."

On Wednesday, Iraqi authorities said they had captured an al-Qaida suspect from Tunisia who allegedly bombed a Shiite shrine earlier this year, setting off a spasm of violence between Sunnis and Shiites.

Caldwell said Yousri Fakher Mohammed Ali, also known as Abu Qudama, was captured May 20 after he was seriously wounded in a clash with security forces north of Baghdad. Haitham Sabah Shaker Mohammed al-Badri, the alleged Iraqi mastermind of the Feb. 22 attack on the shrine in Samarra, remains at large.

While cracking down on terror groups, the Iraqi government has offered an olive branch to the Sunni-dominated insurgency, with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announcing a national reconciliation plan and reaching out to militants with an amnesty proposal.

The amnesty would not absolve those who have killed Iraqis or American coalition troops. But proving which individuals have carried out fatal attacks would be a difficult task in many cases. The issue is extremely sensitive in the United States, which has lost more than 2,500 uniformed men and women in Iraq, many to insurgent bombs and ambushes.

Insurgent and government officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday that 11 Sunni militant groups had offered an immediate halt to all attacks - including those on American troops - if the United States agreed to withdraw foreign forces from Iraq in two years.

On Thursday, Iraqi presidential security adviser Wafiq al-Samaraie said he received an e-mail Wednesday with an offer of cooperation from a person describing himself as a member of "one of the most dangerous violent groups abroad."

"We answered him immediately by e-mail and welcomed him, and he replied to us that there are ammunition piles at point X, go and find it, and there is a criminal in such a place ... so this is a blessing of the reconciliation initiative," al-Samaraie told state-run al-Iraqiya TV.

He did not discuss whether the information was accurate.

Shooting and bombings Thursday killed 12 people in Baghdad, including a Shiite trash collector, a university security chief, a baker, two merchants and an electrical worker.

In the northern city of Kirkuk, a suicide car bomber struck the funeral of a Shiite soldier in the northern city of Kirkuk, killing four people and wounding 27, police and hospital officials said.

Police in Kirkuk also found the body of a 15-year-old girl who had been kidnapped five days ago in the oil-rich city.

Seven bullet-riddled bodies were found floating in the Tigris River in Suwayrah, 25 miles south of Baghdad, while two men who had been shot to death and showed signs of torture were found in the Euphrates River in Musayyib, 40 miles south of the capital.

Highlighting the government's efforts to rein in the violence and take over control of its own security from U.S. forces, Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani led a celebration at the police academy in Baghdad to swear in 560 newly graduated recruits.

He said al-Maliki's reconciliation plan "is evidence of the government's intention to restore stability and promote reconstruction."


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Our sick chicken, I mean legal system, and reconciliation

""If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read: PRESIDENT CAN'T SWIM." President Lyndon Johnson

That happened to be exactly how some people recieved Maliki's plan of National Reconciliation. Isn't that just interesting? Well, in response of that initiative, there were plenty of reactions to pick from...and pick on. One of those reactions, which I found interesting in particular, was about how "That plan will force us to deal with some renegades and rebellious parties that we don't want to deal with"."
Thought Riot

Al-Qaida must be destroyed

"The biggest threat to the Muslim world, to the Arab world and to the reconstruction of Iraq is Al-Qaida and/or the Islamic extremism inherent in the Al-Qaida manifesto.

Today, Iraq’s security apparatus announced it had apprehended a group of foreign fighters who it believed to be behind the devastating bombing of the Askariya Shrine in the historic and ancient city of Samarra."
Truth About Iraqis
Well Truth is back, and roaming even further from the APU.

Blogger down

Hey I just went to Truth about Iraqis

And I got a Blogger Not Found Page. What's up?
What happened to Truth?
"I didnt come to Iraq to find weapons of mass distruction nor did I come here just because of the Twin Towers as horrible as that attack was. I came to Iraq to make amends to its people for its suffering at our hands. I came to Iraq because well over 180,000 Kurds were murdered and we allowed it to happen. I came to Iraq because hundreds of thousands of Shiites were murdered by Saddam Hussien after we incited them to rise against him then betrayed them."
Chapter: War

Breaking News…Samarra bombers arrested!!

"In a news conference currently being broadcast on TV, Iraq's national security advisor Muwaffak al-Rubaie says Iraqi security forces arrested Abu Qudama al-Tunisi in a raid in the suburb of al-Dhuloiya north of Baghdad.
15 other foreign terrorists were killed in the raid according to al-Rubaie.

The terrorist of Tunisian origin confessed that he was responsible for the attack that destroyed the Askari Shrine in Samarra back in February 22 of this year.
Muwaffak al-Rubaie said the security forces are still searching for Haitham al-Badri who is believed to be the field commander under whom Abu Qudama was operating."

3rd Brigade Rides Again.

"It was eerie walking through the barracks and seeing no one. It was almost as if they had already left. I knocked on doors and peered in windows and saw no one. Finally I saw one of the Recon squads outside and we started drinking together. Jokes, war comments, and no false bravado from the new guys made me feel strange thinking some of them may not come back. I so didn't want to do it but you couldn't help but wonder if the guy you really get along with was the next black wrist band, the next terrible fashion statement."
Candle in the Dark

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Make peace with Israel?

"I am straying slightly from talking about Iraq to talk about something that may directly or indirectly affect Iraq and the region.

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya has agreed to an accord with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to revisit the issue of recognizing Israel … and implied within, not only Israel’s right to exist but also Israel’s right to exist where it exists now, in Biblical Palestine."
Truth about Iraqis
Hey Truth is on vacation from the APU.

Never again, I hope

"I went to a funeral today. He was 22. His friends said he was a nice guy, liked to spend time with his buddies, liked chasing girls, loved fishing (they tell a fishing story about a record catfish, but have pictures to prove it!) had a super smile and wonderful eyes, and he was only 22. Two thousand people came to say goodbye, 250 in leathers on bikes with flags, the Governor, the General and a Representative. His brother, his father and mother, his stunned grandparents and a host of aunts, uncles and cousins, his best buddy "walking wounded". and he was only 22."
Proud Liberal Army Wife
Yet another new blog today

We call it "Alamo"

"It's the flies that I notice the most. In the heat of the Afghan summer and the a dust that is as fine a talcum, the flies swarm. As I sit here writing, I hear the buzz of yet another dyeing fly whose wings have become pasted to the glue on fly strip the hangs next to my head. There is certain pleasure in watching each fly die; an idilic, hopeful fantasy that somehow there will be less flies as a result. As with so many things here in Afghanistan, change only comes in small steps. Our fly strip may curb the population of vermin for now, but it does little to affect the root of the problem. "
KGW Afghanistan Blog
Another new blog from

Under the Shoes

"I was heading out of the house at 10 am after I closed the main door, I went down in the street, there was a big crowd of people talking and shouting. It was something strange for our street because most of the neighbors resume their daily activities in the afternoon.

I saw two women chatting aside, went to ask them, one of them answered me “ Three guys kidnapped now while they were standing out of the shop drinking Pepsi Cola.”

Iraqi Screen

Al-Qaeda preparing for major attacks

"Following the killing of Al-Zarqawi his followers tired to carry out major attacks against specific targets. Until now they succeeded only to kill a lot of innocent civilians by various attacks in many parts of Iraq.

There is no doubt that Iraq is now the most dangerous place in the world to live in. There are on-going crimes of different kinds on each moment. Killings, kidnappings, assassinations, suicidal attacks, bombs, and so on and so forth are part of the daily life in Baghdad and the other cities."

Ramadi in the news again

"I've written it before: Ramadi is the real ground zero in the war for Iraq. Fallujah having been wrested from them, the moojies cannot sustain their efforts in Baghdad without being able to use Ramadi as a conduit and base.

Dexter Filkins is there."

Haggling over Amnesty

"Muhammad over at Iraq the Model blogs on the seven (or six) insurgent groups coming in from the desert and proposing a truce.

He doesn’t really add much to my previous post, but he does have an interesting comment:
So far, everybody in Iraq feels good about Maliki’s plan and expressed their hopes for it to meet success and ease the suffering of the Iraqi people; everybody except for the Sadrists and the association of Muslim scholars who both criticized the plan and said it wasn’t acceptable and expected it to fail.
I’m not in Baghdad anymore so I have no idea if “everybody feels good” about the plan. I doubt that’s true, but I’m sure most people want to feel good about it. That’s not my point. What’s interesting is the point he makes about the Association of Muslim Scholars, which is also the Muslim Clerics Association I mentioned previously. The MCA, headed by Harith al-Dhari has alleged connections to the 1920 Revolution Brigades through al-Dhari’s son, Muthanna, and which is allegedly one of the groups seeking a truce. What gives?"
Back to Iraq

Peeking From Behind The Curtain

"Hi. Dave here. I just figured I'd pop in to see who, if anyone, still looks at this blog. I realize it's gone a tad inactive over the last few months. Rest assured that Mustang is surviving and thriving in the civilian world. I'm muddling through as well, with little of consequence to report, other than what Em covers here.

Well, that and this."
Assumption of Command
Well the good news is, I do, the bad news is I do.

Insurgency In Trouble?

"The following is a highlight of text of a document discovered in terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s hide-out. The document was provided in English by Iraqi National Security Adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie:"
A Soldiers Perspective

Mark 1, Dad 0

"So there I was! Surrounded by fluffy blankets, diapers, and baby wipes. Having just heard a loud noise come from the direction of my son's rear end, I decided that the best course of action was a frontal assult.

As I approached the changing table with my son in my arms, my sweetie called from her hospital bed, "Do you want me to help?"

Calmly looking over my shoulder I said, "Nah, I got this one." After all, I just saw this done yesterday, I can do it!"
This is a new milblog here. It's this weeks Milblogger of the week from weekly news letter. A great resource for all your milblogging news.

Save the First Amendment

Protect the First Amendment, Protect the constitution, Protect your rights.

Call, Write, or yell out to your senators and tell them to vote NO on the Flag amendment.

I find it so funny that the party that is for strict constructionist of the constitution seem to not like the constitution at all, they have so far wanted TWO amendments during the time in which they have held power. All that talk about interpreting the constitution how it's written, and all the grief about the idea of the living constitution and the first chance they get and they want to start making changes. What hypocrites

And on top of all that, they want to pass some stupid language that does not mean anything. What does it mean to desecrate? If I were to spit on a flag, would I be in violation, and subject to arrest? How about if I paint one on the ground and ask Iraqis to walk on it? Where will it end.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Corruption Alleged in Kuwaiti Elections

KUWAIT CITY (AP) - Kuwait's upcoming parliamentary election - the first involving women - has been marred by allegations of vote-buying and corruption, part of an unprecedented burst of political activism that could change this U.S. ally forever.

Reform lawmakers have stormed out of parliament. Young hecklers have waved signs and balloons in protests. Private satellite TV stations have sprouted as campaign tools. And three women have brought the first-ever official complaint that a candidate tried to buy their votes with cash and designer handbags.

The emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, expressed his "deep hurt and dismay" over what he called the "low level of dialogue" and the escalation of campaign charges. He also said Saturday that candidates should concentrate on their platforms before Thursday's parliamentary vote.

Without elaborating, Sheik Sabah added that he would not "allow anyone to sabotage" the country's democracy.

"What is happening today is a battle between the Kuwaiti people and the symbols of corruption," former lawmaker Mussallam al-Barrak told one of the privately owned satellite television stations that have sprung up during the campaign.

Any political instability here could have repercussions because Kuwait hosts thousands of U.S. troops who deploy to Iraq and serve as a regional security buffer. U.S. troops drove Iraqi troops from Kuwait during the 1991 Gulf War.

In late May, the emir dissolved parliament and called for an early election because he worried that the "charged" public argument over electoral reform was threatening national unity. The vote originally was scheduled for mid-2007.

Many view the dispute as a common growing pain for a country like Kuwait - small, stable and affluent because of its oil reserves - as it tries to improve on a 44-year-old constitutional monarchy that did not include women until now. They were given those rights last year.

"There is no middle-of-the-road in Kuwait today," Islamist former lawmaker and candidate Walid Tabtabai said. "You are either with the reform camp or the camp of corruptors."

The election is the first for parliament in which women can either vote or be candidates. The campaign was expected to focus on such issues as the longtime demand of fundamentalists to fully implement Islamic law, which is opposed by the country's liberals.

Instead, it has brought conservative Islamists and Westernized liberals together in an alliance against what they call the common foe of corruption.

The debate has focused on alleged vote-buying - a longtime complaint here. The dispute came to a head last month when the government proposed a bill cutting the number of election precincts from the current 25 to 10.

Many reform advocates, including hundreds of young Kuwaitis who held street protests, instead wanted the number cut to five, saying larger precincts would minimize vote-buying and voting for members of the same tribe or religious sect.

Al-Barrak was one of 29 former lawmakers who stormed out of a parliament session after the government proposal. The speaker had to suspend the session after rowdy, pro-reform spectators wielding signs and balloons heckled lawmakers and accused the Cabinet of not being serious about reform.

The emir then disbanded parliament and called for the early election.

Veteran liberal legislator Abdullah al-Naibari accused the Cabinet of meddling in the election to "produce a weak ... parliament that would be a flexible device in the hands of corruptors."

Candidates have linked Cabinet ministers, including members of the ruling family, to mismanagement and corruption.

College students and other young Kuwaitis have organized groups to lobby for electoral reform and fight vote buying, and opposition candidates have urged them to keep up their efforts even after the vote.

One group, called Kuwait5, urged Kuwaitis on its Web site to send text messages to candidates.

Journalist, businesswoman and candidate Aisha al-Rsheid told The Associated Press that the cries against corruption simply were attempts by former lawmakers contesting the vote to "cover their failure in the three (past) years."

"What did they do for Kuwait?" she said.

Meanwhile, an independent group called the Higher Commission for Election Transparency claims it has helped three women make the first-ever official complaint to the government about alleged vote-buying. The women said they were offered money and designer handbags.

"This is a success for women," said Anwar al-Rsheid, the head of the commission, who would not identify the complainants.

The Interior Ministry, which oversees elections, has warned against vote-buying and set up a hot line for callers to report such attempts. It also will use transparent ballot boxes instead of wooden ones.


Playing Politics

" oppose amnesty for any terrorist. The only thing such an animal deserves is a 5.56mm NATO round slug to the head. But this is just pure politics. I thought the Democrats wanted the Iraqis to solve their own problems. Or is it about cock-blocking every damn initiative that shows even a little bit of promise. I don't know. Listen, the Democrats have a very important role to play in this War on Terror. Their role is to make sure the Republicans don't get too draconian with their anti-terror legislation."
Yoan Hermida


"Malki was declaring his reconciliation project in the Iraqi parliament amid a blown up security plan began ten days ago, Mahdi army supported by the commandos of the ministry of Interior was busy launching attacks against Sunni dominated neighborhoods in Baghdad like Fadhel, Haifa street and Al-Kifaha.

They tried to enter Adhamiyia but the National Guards stopped their progress to avert a big fight as people there are always in state of alert expecting Shiite militias to come at any moment."
Iraqi Screen

On the Proposed Amnesty

"First of all, I don't think it makes any sense. IED makers and planters kill more Iraqis than Americans, just like the rest of the "resistance". They kill children. They kill motorists. They lack fire discipline and a certain degree of conscience. It is a fallacious belief that there exist Iraqis who make bombs destined only American stryker vehicles and none for Shi'a mosques; and that those making bombs don't collaborate with those recruiting human bombs for Iraqi neighborhoods."

Seven militant groups accpet al-Maliki's offer.

"Seven militant groups announced their desire to join the political process in accordance with the reconciliation project and said they were ready to enter a truce and stop the violence.

MP Hassan al-Sinaid-whose close to PM Maliki-said third parties conveyed the message of the seven groups confirming that they were not involved in Iraqi bloodshed suggesting they're eligible to benefit from the initiative.

Al-Sinaid said it was possible that Maliki would meet representatives of these seven groups either directly or indirectly, because he's concerned about the success of the initiative and is keen to gather support for it. Al-Sinaid adds "al-Maliki believes in political measures now, and not only in military ones"."

Indict the New York Times

"I haven't written about it, but I'm assuming you are familiar with the decision of the New York Times to publish the details of the government's efforts to track the movements of Al Qaeda finances through the international banking system.

This decision clearly causes substantial and irreparable harm to the security of the United States and our allies, and violates federal law in the process.

Bill Keller's defense of the decision is here."
You know where I disagree with this. Where is the end to the WOT. It will never end. We are already five years into this war and I think it's time the Administration go to congress and get a law. These Administrative subpoenas are fine for and emergency. Go for it, I would have done exactly the same in the days following 9/11. I would have taken every step I could think of the protect the country from another attack. But there come a time when the emergency is over and it's time to put a program in place that covers any hole, but also has all the necessary protections. A permanent program requires a law.

It's time the administration stops hiding behind 9/11 and bring out a plan to protect us all. Not a secret program with no supervision that answers to no one. What are they afraid of?

Necessity is blind until it becomes conscious

"The Iraqi government froze all bank accounts belonging to the Federation of Oil Iraqi Workers inside and outside Iraq. This decision is in the wake of a series of actions taken against professional associations to include the Bar Association. And all activities of the workers will be considered illegal."
Baghdad Connect
Not sure what this is about but it don't look good, looks unconstitutional. But then again that iraqi constitution sucks.

Coming in from the Desert?

"Interesting. The day after PM Nouri al-Maliki introduced his plan for national reconciliation, seven insurgent groups from the Ba’athist/Nationalist side of the insurgency have reportedly contacted the Iraqi government in order to offer a truce.

The groups include the 1920 Revolution Brigades, the Muhammad Army (jaysh al-Muhammad), Abtal al-Iraq (Heroes of Iraq), the 9th of April Group, al-Fatah Brigades, and the Brigades of the General Command of the Armed Forces. The seventh group was not named by the Shi’ite legislator who says these groups are seeking the cease-fire. "
Back to Iraq


This is the continuation of a series of selected excerpts from my Afghanistan war journal hand-recorded from October 2003 to August 2004. All OEB entries are previously unpublished.

Author's Note: This post is chock full of "inside baseball" in terms of the way we approach missions and how we make adjustments on the fly to the situation as we actually find it on the ground. Some may find the level of detail excessively banal, though I found it necessary to include it in order to fully grasp the bigger picture. However, reader discretion is advised."
American Citizen Soldier

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Provisions From Iraqi Reconciliation Plan

Highlights of Iraqi government's reconciliation plan:


_Offer amnesty to insurgents not involved in terrorism, war crimes, crimes against humanity. Those seeking amnesty must renounce violence, support the elected government and obey the law.

_Form committees to examine the release of detainees not found guilty of crimes

_Prevent human rights violations, reform of prisons and punishment of those responsible for torture. Local and international organizations allowed to visit prisons.

_Discuss with U.S.-led coalition to establish mechanisms to prevent abuses of civilians during military operations.

_Adopt immediate steps to upgrade services, especially in restive areas.

_Start large-scale reconstruction campaign in all Iraqi areas and creation of jobs.

_Build-up military forces to take over security and open way for coalition's withdrawal.

_Study build-up process to ensure army and police forces formed on professional and national basis.

_Support victims of Saddam Hussein's former regime and provide compensation.

_Compensate victims of terrorism, human rights violations and military operations.

_Designate judicial system as sole authority in dealing with the crimes of senior members of the former regime, terrorists and gangs.

_Ensure separation of political and military spheres.

_Address problem of sectarian militias and illegal armed groups through political, economic and security measures.

_Recognize parliament, constitution, government and other institutions as sole legitimate representative of the will of the Iraqi people.

_Ensure all arrest and search operations are in accord with official and judicial orders, and based on credible information and in accordance with human rights.

Baghdadis React to Prime Minister's Plan

Some reaction from people in Baghdad to government's reconciliation initiative:


"We thank the prime minister for this healthy initiative. Armed groups will put down their weapons and serve their country if they sense this kind of seriousness from the prime minister, the parliament and leaders of political blocs." - Amar Mohammed, 35, Sunni Arab worker.


"This program of reconciliation should have been in place three years ago. ... This initiative is a good one if applied properly. The resistance to the occupation should be given a role in the reconciliation program." - Osama Ahmed, 50, Sunni who works at Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.


"All parties and blocs should have an active role in the reconciliation process. All militias should be disbanded because they are political obstacle in the process of the reconciliation." - Amir Mohammed Ali, 45, Shiite who owns currency exchange shop.


"We have been waiting for this for a long time. It came late, but in spite of that we hope that officials have the best interests of the Iraqi people at heart and not political or sectarian motives. We hope it will happen and not just be words on paper." - Sabah Nour, 35, Shiite worker.


"I am pessimistic about the plan but hope I'm wrong because I wish all the best for Iraqi people." - Kamil Abdul-Muniem, 65, retired Sunni high school teacher.


"This is a huge step and everybody should support it so that security and stability can be restored in Iraq." - Nouri Abdul-Hussein, 48, Shiite employee at Trade Ministry.


"I hope that everyone supports this plan. The militias should be disbanded because their presence will hinder the process of the reconciliation." - Assad Imad, 46, Sunni street vendor.



"There is one aspect of Turkey's EU accession process that has been totally overlooked or, rather, ignored, by the wider media, and that is the status of the Koy Korucular--Village Guards--the jash of the North.

The tactic of divide-and-conquer has been used against Kurds by all of the enemies of Kurdistan, but nowhere are the lines of this tactic so clearly drawn as in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan, by the role of the Korucular. Established by the TC in 1985, the Korucular system has pitted Kurd against Kurd, and has served the state's interest by maintaining instability and lawlessness in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan. In fact, the Korucular system has been far more helpful in destroying Turkish-occupied Kurdistan than any other single policy devised toward that end. Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch called upon Interior Minister Aksu to end the Village Guards:"

Iraq: Maliki reconciliation altered at last minute - has it been scuttled?

"Iraq: In the past few days we heard of Maliki's ambitious goal to end violence, end sectarianism, end the militia and ensure that the resistance forces lay down their arms and are employed into the political process.

We heard that there would be a timetable for withdrawal of foreign troops and, more importantly, amnesty for those who resisted foreign troops but did not engage in killing of Iraqis.

The last two clauses have been removed.

The US military had protested saying it could not abide by an amnesty for those who killed foreign occupiers. It wanted that portion of the amnesty removed."
Truth About Iraqis

Who should recognize whom?

"Prime Minister Maliki presented his reconciliation plan to the parliament today and in spite of some objections from some parties the heads of parliamentary blocs declared their support for this plan soon after the session of the parliament ended and requesting some further detailed descriptions and modifications in some cases to match their blocs' understanding of the reconciliation concept.

It seems like this plan represents a real will for reaching a form of understanding among the different rivals in this country to make the country move forward and build the country without having to resort to violence through adopting dialog and talk instead of violence and alienation.

However, this honest will is not be enough to make this project succeed unless it's combined with a workable formula and here I think insisting on classifying armed groups and declaring some of them as "honorable resistance" and legitimizing their acts while they are yet to recognize the new political system and drop their weapons is totally wrong."

Meet up with Jordanian bloggers

"As a result of my last post and observation on Jordanian reactions to Zarqawi’s death, I had a pleasant and rewarding meet up with a few Jordanian bloggers last Wednesday.

The rendezvous was at an unpretentious café at Jabal Al-Luwaibda called the Paris Library, which seems to be often frequented by workers of the French embassy in Amman.

4 bloggers, out of 7, turned up, and sooner rather than later they were all deep in intense discussion like old friends.

The bloggers I met:"
Healing Iraq

The Plan

"One of the misdirections and rhetorical devices that the Left uses ad nauseum which strikes me as particularly odd is the "there is no plan" talking point. Of late it either leads, or follows on the heals of some pathetically disengenious pity party about the heroic and well intentioned troops who, though entitled to great leadership, are subject to the evil and bumbling triumvirate of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. "
Fire and Ice

More Threats Against Basrawi Christians

"A few weeks ago, my Assyrian friend in California told me a militia has sent a threat letter to one of her relatives in Basra. It's the usual letter of close your business and leave town or you and your family will be dead. Ahhh, how nice!!!!

The other day, I found a similar story on Ankawa Online. This time the threat is against Linda Edmon, the choir singer at the Chaldean Church in Basra [Arabic Source] -- It's the church I attended for 22 years while I lived in Basra. She and her husband received a death threat. They have no idea why the bastards want to kill them. But, they're taking the threat seriously. They have decided to leave the city they lived in all their life to start a different life in another unknown destination.

I asked Queen Amidala if she has more details. She sent me back this reply:"
Fayrouz in Beaumont

Marine's father creates Web site

MUKILTEO - Supporters of a Mukilteo Marine charged with the murder of an Iraqi man April 26 feverishly put together a Web site to garner public support and raise money to help defray defense costs.
Terry Pennington, father of Lance Cpl. Robert Pennington, said the Web site is

The younger Pennington is among seven Marines and one Navy medic charged with murder, kidnapping and conspiracy in connection with the shooting death.

The government has accused them of pulling a man from his home and shooting him while U.S. troops were searching for insurgents. It also has accused them of trying to cover up the crime.

A relative of the dead man brought the shooting to the attention of the Marines on May 1, and a preliminary investigation in Iraq found sufficient information to conduct a full-scale criminal investigation.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service began its probe May 7, leading to the removal of 11 Marines and the Navy corpsman from their unit on May 12. They all were shifted from Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment to the battalion headquarters.

The troops were sent to Camp Pendleton in southern California May 24 and put in the brig, initially under maximum-security and now under medium-security confinement, which allows more freedom of movement.

Four of the Marines who initially came under suspicion were released from restrictions, but Marine officials said their cases remain under investigation.

Friends and families of the accused troops have been corresponding via e-mail and organizing a defense, Terry Pennington said.

On Friday, Pennington said he has hired a California lawyer who specializes in military justice to work with a military attorney in defense of his son.

A second Marine from Washington state, Lance Cpl. Jerry E. Shumate Jr. of Matlock, about 15 miles west of Shelton, also has been charged. His family also is hiring a lawyer.

All eight of those charged could face the death penalty if found guilty in courts-martial.

Terry Pennington said he doesn't believe his son could have participated in the crime.

The government alleges that the younger Pennington forced the civilian to the ground, bound his hands and feet and participated in the shooting.

The elder Pennington said his son is very intelligent, and the story of what happened to the Iraqi is so improbable that an intelligent person wouldn't have participated.

"The story is so dumb there is no way he would have anything to do with it," Terry Pennington said. "It's not something a smart person would do."

The next step in the military judicial process will be a preliminary hearing, known as an Article 32 hearing under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, said David Brahms, Pennington's lawyer from Carlsbad, Calif.

On Friday, Brahms said he was given a continuance from a hearing date that had been set for late this month. Pennington's Article 32 hearing could come as late as August, said Brahms, who has more than 40 years of experience trying military cases.

A hearing examiner will make a recommendation to the commanding officer on whether to proceed with a court-martial and what, if any, charges should be pursued.

"It could be the predicate to dismissal of the charges," Brahms said.

The lawyer said he thinks "the facts are rather different than (the government) now believes."


On Leadership

Today I caught myself doing something that totally caught me off guard. Something I wasn't prepared to face, at least not just yet. I was walking downtown Toronto on my way to the mosque to attend Friday's prayer. On my way as I crossed one street I spotted a guy that was obviously Muslim; I knew that from his looks! He had a long untidy beard, short pants, and was walking as if grace was not informed of his existence. Unconsciously, when I reached the other side and was getting prepared to wait for the other pedestrian light to turn on, I found myself moving away from him in a silent and desperate scream of disassociation that only I could hear. I didn't notice what was going on in my head until I realized that I was deliberately, yet unbeknownst to my conscious mind, increasing the distance between me and him. My actions only meant one thing: I was ashamed of being associated with my tribe, even when I knew that its only in my head!

Why is this tribe such a shame? Is it because of the underlying principals that weave the fabric of what it stands for? It certainly is not, because, I for one, consider myself to be rational and intelligent yet I willingly subscribed to the fundamental system of belief to which that same person I wanted to disassociate myself from subscribes to; that is the faith both of us belong to. The same faith that presumably led to his awkward appearance, and maybe his tactless way of thinking.

Then a question struck me: Why are a large percentage of Muslims who are sincere in their will to climb the stairway to heaven end up being like this guy? I don't know him at all to judge him, yet out of experience; people who look like this belong to a certain category of intellectual superficiality that reveal a lot about their role in society, and life in general.

The answer came to me during the prayer as the Imam (speaker) gave his sermon; the answer lies in one word: Leadership."
Thinking Blog

Tribal Mentality

"My last post has garnered a lot of publicity. There's a lot I want to say in response to the responses, but first of all I want to make the most of this opportunity. There is a message I want to get out. I want to get this message out to the US government and US military, but I don't know how to do it, but some of the responses I have received have been from people in the US military, and I want to capitalize on this. If you are an American and you have any way of passing this on to your government or military, please do so. Don't assume someone else will. Here is my message:

Via the Iraqi blogs, I have been analyzing the Iraqi people to try to understand why some were happy to be freed and some weren't. I needed an environment of freedom to be able to do this. I also needed those pullbacks in Fallujah and Najaf so that I could see what these nutcases were up to. Here are my findings. The trouble is that large numbers of people in the Middle East have a tribal mentality. This is an alien concept in the West. That is because in the West we consider ourselves to be in the tribe of humans. "no tribe" actually means "tribe of humans". We are actually in a tribe!"

MNF arrests five Al-Qaeda gunmen in Tikrit -- US Army

BAGHDAD, June 24 (KUNA) -- The Multinational Forces (MNF) arrested five gunmen Saturday in the northern city of Tikrit relying on the same intelligence that led to the killing of Al-Qaeda former leader, Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi The US Army said in a statement today that one of the arrested gunmen had direct links with Al-Qaeda and played a significant role in insurgent operations in the cities of Baqouba and Tikrit.

The MNF used hand grenades to secure the building where the gunmen hid and then arrested them without any serious losses, said the US Army.

The statement noted that the MNF mistakenly arrested one of the area's Sheikhs, but released him shortly after revealing his identity.

The US Army also said in a statement the Iraqi army arrested Ali Al-Najar, the head of an assassin-squad, in the southern Iraqi city of Diwaniya last Wednesday.

The statement said that Al-Najar was directly responsible for the assassination of several figures and mortal-shell attacks on MNF in Diwaniya. (pickup previous) ah.

Iraq's victims of violence doubt Maliki peace plan

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's national reconciliation plan is a hard sell on Karrada Inner street, where a roadside bomb left Akram Jabaar with a painful limp and little faith in his government.

"If you really want the truth, Maliki won't succeed and I really don't think he or his government are serious about reconciliation," said the 23-year-old clothes vendor, who struggles to walk with shrapnel in his knee.

"He says he wants to end sectarianism but his government is full of sectarians. It is logical to think there will be a civil war."

Maliki, a Shi'ite Islamist whose government was sworn in on May 20, presented his much-heralded blueprint for stability to parliament on Sunday.

It was long on promises and short on details of how his Shi'ite-led administration intended to ease communal violence, disband militias and tackle a Sunni Arab insurgency that has killed many thousands of security forces and civilians.

Victims of the violence ravaging Iraq will be especially hard to convince that the plan will turn their lives around.

The bomb that exploded this month in the busy Karrada district where Jabaar earns the equivalent of $4 a day was typical of the violence that shatters Iraqi lives every day.

Bomb attacks killed at least six people in Baghdad on Sunday, minor bloodshed by the capital's standards.

Jabaar, a Shi'ite, and his two brothers had just set out their merchandise on a sidewalk stand when three men pretending to be customers approached the area. They left a plastic bag on the sidewalk. It exploded minutes later.

His brothers are still in serious condition in hospital. He wonders how reconciliation is possible in a country where you can be blown up or shot at any time.

Shi'ite militiamen shot dead his Sunni neighbour, he said. Sunni leaders accuses Shi'ite militias of running death squads.

"Maliki can't talk about national reconciliation when he is allowing those Shi'ite militias to run around and kill people. This government's policies are sectarian."

In another section of Karrada, one of Baghdad's quieter neighbourhoods, Karim Mehdi sat on his living room floor.

His nephew, Seif Saleh, was killed by the same bomb. Saleh and three university classmates happened to be buying fruit from a market when the bomb exploded.

Mehdi, who fled his home in the violent Sunni Dora district because he got tired of seeing bodies in the streets, is also pessimistic about Maliki's plan.

"This can't work. Too many parties want too many things. There is no united voice in Iraq," he said.


UPDATE 2-Iraq sells 4 mln barrels Kirkuk oil to Exxon,Tupras

DUBAI, June 25 (Reuters) - Iraq has sold 4 million barrels of Kirkuk crude to U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil and Turkish oil refiner Tupras (TUPRS.IS: Quote, Profile, Research), the first exports from its troubled northern Kirkuk fields in nearly a year.

Iraq's state oil marketer SOMO said in a statement that both companies would take 2 million barrels each. It gave no further details and SOMO officials were not immediately available for comment.

Iraq on June 19 issued its first tender since last August to sell 6 million barrels of Kirkuk, loading between June 27 and July 1.

Iraq is aiming to sustain crude exports from its giant Kirkuk oilfields and hopes to issue a second sales tender at the end of next month.

Shamkhi Faraj, director general of marketing and economics at Iraq's ministry of oil, said that stocks of Iraqi crude at the Turkish port of Ceyhan were now at more than 7 million barrels. Ceyhan tanks can hold up to eight million barrels.

"So far, so good. If it continues at this rate, we will have to have contracts instead of tenders," Faraj told Reuters by telephone.

SOMO has been forced to hold infrequent sell tenders only after sufficient oil has been pumped from its Kirkuk oilfields to the terminal of Ceyhan.

Tenders to sell crude from the Kirkuk field have been rare since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 as a result of frequent sabotage along the Iraq-Turkey pipeline.

The last tender was in August 2005, in which Iraq awarded up to three million barrels of Kirkuk crude to UK major BP, Spain's Cepsa and France's Total.

Prior to the war, Iraq was exporting steady Kirkuk volumes of at least 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) from Turkey.

With the sale of the 4 million barrels of Kirkuk crude, Baghdad would boost overall exports by around 130,000 bpd in July. Total exports stood at 1.5 million bpd in May.

Iraq has been relying almost exclusively on southern exports of Basra Light crude from its own Gulf terminal.

Iraq resumed sporadic flows along its northern oil pipeline earlier this month after a four-month halt. The export route is still beset by problems, so technicians are collecting batches of about 400,000 barrels, then injecting them down the pipeline.

Analysts say real progress towards reliable supply of Kirkuk crude hinges on violence abating in the country that has been battling an insurgency against U.S.-led forces and the Iraqi government as well as sectarian bloodshed.


al-Qaida-Linked Group Claims 4 Killings

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - An al-Qaida-linked group posted a Web video Sunday showing the killings of three Russian embassy workers abducted earlier this month in Iraq. A fourth also was said to have been killed.

An accompanying statement by the Mujahedeen Shura Council, an umbrella organization linking seven insurgent groups including al-Qaida in Iraq, said all four Russians were killed.

The video, posted on an Islamic Web site the frequently airs militant messages, showed the beheading of two blindfolded men and the shooting of a third. The footage was stamped with the logo of al-Qaida.

"God's verdict has been carried out on the Russian diplomats ... in revenge for the torture, killing and expulsion of our brothers and sisters by the infidel Russian government," the statement said.

Four Russian embassy workers were abducted June 3 after an attack on their car in Baghdad's Mansour neighborhood. A fifth Russian was killed in the incident.

The captives include the embassy's third secretary, Fyodor Zaitsev, and three other staffers: Rinat Agliulin, Anatoly Smirnov and Oleg Fedoseyev.


Iraq PM Offers Olive Branch to Insurgents

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki offered an olive branch to insurgents who join in rebuilding Iraq and said Sunday that lawmakers should set a timeline for the Iraqi military and police to take control of security nationwide.

There was no mention of any timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces in Iraq.

U.S. officials, however, said Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top commander in Iraq, has drafted a plan for drawing down the American presence by two combat brigades by late summer or early autumn.

The New York Times said the officials, who were not identified, indicated the drawdown could involve the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division, which currently oversees a swath of west Baghdad, and the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division, which oversees troublesome Diyala and Salahuddin provinces.

Casey reportedly met with President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Friday to outline his concept on force reductions.

According to the report, those brigades would not be replaced numerically. It was expected, however, that their duties would be assumed by U.S. forces from elsewhere in the country.

The Times report Sunday said the Casey plan envisioned cutting U.S. forces from 14 combat brigades now in the country to five or six by the end of next year.

Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, the top military spokesman in Baghdad, said any reduction in forces continued "to be conditions-based and will be determined in consultation with the Iraqi government. Based on ongoing assessments of the conditions on the ground, force levels could go up or down over time in order to meet the evolving requirements for the mission in Iraq.

"Force adjustment decisions are made by the Secretary of Defense at the recommendation of the Multi-National Force commander, Gen. Casey," Johnson told The Associated Press.

Al-Maliki's 24-point national reconciliation plan also would include an amnesty for insurgents and opposition figures who have not been involved in terrorist activities. Al-Maliki declared, however, that insurgent killers would not escape justice regardless of whether their victims were coalition forces or Iraqis.

"The launch of this national reconciliation initiative should not be read as a reward for the killers and criminals or acceptance of their actions. No, one thousand times no. There can be no agreement with them unless they face the justice," he said.

The new Iraqi leader, in power just more than a month, said he was realistic about the difficult road that lay ahead.

"We realize that there is a legion of those who have tread the path of evil (who) ... will continue with their criminal acts," he said.

But he held out an offer of peace to those who would renounce violence, while threatening retribution and punishment to those who would not.

"To those who want to rebuild our country, we present an olive branch ... And to those who insist on killing and terrorism, we present a fist with the power of law to protect our country and people," he told lawmakers, who applauded his speech.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad congratulated the government on the initiative and urged Iraqi leaders to move quickly.

"The leaders of Iraq's various communities should truly be leaders to their people, and begin to take responsibility for bringing sectarian violence to an end," he said. "I urge the insurgents to lay down their arms and join the democratic process initiated by their fellow Iraqis."

The plan also was endorsed by the senior Sunni political figure in parliament.

"In the name of Iraqi Accordance Front, I support and agree with this initiative and call upon all Iraqis to support it because it will be the first step toward security, stability and the building of a new Iraq," said Adnan al-Dulaimi, whose organization represents the three key Sunni political parties in parliament.

The Iraqi parliament was to debate the plan, which is believed to face considerable opposition among hard-liners on both sides of the Sunni-Shiite divide, in sessions this week.

In the south, the first of Japan's force of 600 soldiers being withdrawn from Iraq crossed the border into Kuwait.

The Japanese withdrawal of its soldiers, who are conducting a humanitarian and reconstruction mission, began with the departure of about 15 vehicles transporting trucks, bulldozers and equipment from the provincial capital of Samawah early Sunday morning. The journey south to Kuwait is 210 miles.

As the Japanese ended their mission in Iraq, al-Maliki's reconciliation plan said there should be a timeline established for Iraqi forces to take over all security duties in the country. It did not, however, include specifics on the withdrawal of American and British forces.

The plan also seeks compensation for former detainees "and those who were killed by Iraqi and American forces" and says their time spent in prison would be considered part of their mandatory military service.

Al-Maliki also said he wanted a general pardon for thousands of prisoners who are determined not to have committed "crimes and clear terrorist actions."

Hundreds of prisoners have been pardoned and release in recent months in what is seen as a bid by the Shiite-dominated government to appease Sunni Arab anger over allegations of random detentions and maltreatment.

The proposal also would set rules of engagement for military offensives. That was seen as a bid to alleviate Sunni anger over the alleged killing of innocent civilians and bystanders by U.S. and Iraqi forces.

The reconciliation plan also would call for a reconsideration of policies against supporters of former President Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath party.

The plan said a dialogue should be opened with all organizations willing to participate in the political process "except al-Qaida" and hard-line supporters of Saddam.

Shortly after taking office May 20, al-Maliki vowed to take over security issues from American and other foreign troops in all of Iraq's 18 provinces within 18 months.

The Bush administration has repeatedly said U.S. troops will stay in Iraq until Iraqi security forces can defend the country against a lethal insurgency that rose up after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Casey said earlier this week that he expected reductions in U.S. forces this year but did not agree with congressional efforts to put a timetable on the effort.

"I don't like it, I feel it would limit my flexibility" and give the enemy a schedule to focus on, he said.


Looks like everyone, even the administrations puppets agree with the democrats. All we need now is for the American public to follow the lead.

Hard at work

BEIRUT — Sorry for the radio silence. I’ve been hard at work on a story about Iranian influence in Lebanon and what it means for the region, and I’ve not had much time to blog.

But this new reconciliation plan from Maliki is interesting, to say the least. Possible amnesty for killers of U.S. troops? No firm time-table for withdrawal, but Casey says significant troop reductions by end of 2007. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out in American domestic politics. It seems, at first blush, to hand the Democrats much of what they’re asking for (conditions-based plan for redeployment), but it also seems to take away the Republicans’ and George Bush’s “Dems are ‘cut-and-runners’” card. I suspect the GOP will do an about face, say it’s what they wanted all along and run with it."
Back to Iraq

VA Medicine

"Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan get two years of free medical care from the VA once they leave the military. The other day I had some serious pain in my lower abdomen, so I took the opportunity to go down to the local VA hospital and sign up for the free services. Turns it out it was only a pulled muscle, in all likelihood. But I was very impressed with the VA. My appointment was at 11. At 10:55 they'd already shown me in. About 15 minutes later the doctor was in there talking to me. Minus the whole data-theft issue, go VA."
Yoan Hermida

Democracy In Iraq

"“Shall I contact him or not.” I have asked myself this question several times, but when I found another option I dialed another number.

It was a breaking news, “ Saddam defense lawyer, Khamies Al-Ubaidi is killed.” So, we have to make a story, I began to contact all people associated with Khamis but the result was so negative.

I tried his close friend who is a lawyer too, his wife was on the telephone, I asked her about her husband, she said he was abroad, I asked her if she knows anything about Khamis killing, the woman shouted in the telephone out of her shock and sadness,
“ No, he is such a nice man, how did they kill him?”"
Iraqi Screen


"He continued through the death by power point, a means of delivering a brief with a laptop computer and a projector. It is the modern day version of the overhead projector or slide presentation of yesteryear. As in the days of before they can be mind numbing and boring to the point of stupor."
Chapter: War

Personal Iraq Diary: 17-22 September 2004

"This is our first patrol in town since giving 5-20 the right-seat ride. There were so many children out today smiling and waving. In one place I was sitting there were about 7 children on a rooftop across the street playing a silly little clapping game with me. I would hold my hands up then they would do the same. It was really fun. That was until we left and were fired upon by mortars. Must have been since we were investigating the water tower. That's where we think ghey fire on the chow hall from."
Candle in the Dark

Landing at the Iraqi Blogodrome

"The fearsome nights are stifling us and we now have come to hate the Fall [of Baghdad]; we hate Liberation; we hate Sunnis; we hate Shiites; we hate turbans and sidaras; we hate Jihad and Jihadists, resistance and resistors; we hate concrete; we hate streets and sidewalks; we hate the Ministries; we hate Establishments; we hate news channels and news and communiqués; we hate the Parliament that has now become a venue for swearing-in ceremonies and nothing else;"

Iraqi Testimonies

"After the 1972 Iraqi-oil-revolution, many foreign companies started to fly into Iraq to reserve a space for the soon-to-flourish third world country. Oil companies and investors fought their way into the newly born economic sector in here. According to the Iraqi law, companies have to have Iraqi lawyers to supervise their work and help in the paperwork. But the baath party wouldn’t, of course, let the companies work freely. They had to know everything!

Khalid Esa Taha, a well known Iraqi lawyer at the time, was a British company’s lawyer. The company was called William Press. His job was to monitor and supervise the legality of the company’s work and make sure nothing was against the rules of the Baathist Iraq. As part of his job, he had to endure the harassments of Saddam Hussein’s henchmen and intelligence officers."
24 Steps to Liberty

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Basrah, Baghdad, and Beyond

Basrah, Baghdad, and Beyond: U.S. Marine Corps in the Second Iraq War (Hardcover)
by USMCR Col. Nicholas E. Reynolds ~Amazon

Basrah, Baghdad, and Beyond: The U.S. Marine Corps in the Second Iraq War
Nicholas Reynolds ~C-SPAN 2 Book TV

Description: Nicholas Reynolds, author of "Basrah, Baghdad, and Beyond," talks about conducting research in Iraq and the obstacles he encountered putting together a history of the current Iraq War. Beginning in 2003, Col. Reynold's served in Iraq as Officer in Charge of Field History for the Marine Corps. In his book he lays out the history of the preparation and execution of the Marine invasion of Iraq. During the event, Col. Reynolds presents a slideshow depicting his work in Iraq and the U.S. invasion in March 2003. The talk was hosted by the Naval Historical Center located in Washington, DC.

The presentation caught my attention as soon as he mentioned the combat artist, which was non other than our very own Warrant officer Mike Fay of Fire and Ice Which has been a staple here from the day I found the blog.