Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Shiite cult denies their involvement in Najaf fight…update

"Confirming my post below: What exactly happened in Najaf? The true story.
I will personally take care that the truth will be revealed, I will contact (Albasra, IraqiRabite, Haq Agency, Almalaf, Quds Press, Uruk) to video interview members of Al-Khazai’l, and Al-Hawatim, to say what exactly happened."
Roads to Iraq

To Engage or Not to Engage!

"I have been repeatedly asked before as to my policy recommendations to the current administrations will be. This statement of mine, which I recently sent for inclusion in the European Parliament file on the Association Agreement with Syria, might be helpful in this regard. My approach might be described as a call for public and conditional engagement that puts everything on the table, including the sensitive issue of political reforms, serious political reforms, ones that begin with general amnesty for all political prisoners and exiles and culminate in free and internationally-monitored parliamentary and presidential elections within an agreed timeframe, no longer than 2 years."

Too Cool

"31 Jan
Before we start, you must all go to The Sandbox and read "Got Them IP Blues." This is absolutely mandatory reading. Here's the link:

I have all sorts of cool things to write about today. First of all, spring made an early appearance today. The weather was perfect, sunny and probably near 50 degrees. Soaking up the sun as we loaded trucks felt fantastic. I also took this photo, which I think helps to capture the moment."
Afghanistan Without a Clue

Sen Spector, Say Again?

"Soooo.... Senator Spector says that he's also the Commander in Chief. In fact, he thinks that all of Congress is also Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. Military decisions via committee. Now that's a good idea. Why didn't the founders come up with that one?
Let's see what they did come up with, and put on paper, about whose in charge of the Armed Forces.
The Constitution, in Article 1, Section 8, says that the Congress shall have the power:"
4 Mile Creek

No End in Sight!

"The Sundance Film Festival has started a few days ago. It promises very strong and interesting movies and documentaries. One of them is No End in Sight, which is a documentary filmed in Iraq and the States and is trying to uncover the truth about where everything started to deteriorate in Iraq after the invasion.

According to the documentary, it all started before the invasion!

I had the chance to go to the first screening of the documentary, which was in the festival in Park City, Utah. It was quite an experience."
24 Steps to Liberty

Impending Extension

"There has been a lot of information flying around about the 1016th getting extended in Theater. The FRG's were given the word by the 70th to make contact with all family members to let them know about the extension. I'm told from our Chain of Command over here that the extension is official, but no orders have been cut yet.

I have been told that some family members were upset by the way in which they were told about the extension. I have communicated with the Family Readiness Groups in each geographical area and they do apologize for some mistakes that were made. Hardly any of the volunteer callers have been trained in how to go about making these calls and what questions to answer, because they know the factual answer, and what questions to possibly redirect to CPT Benjamin or to the 70th RRC. Please know that the callers were only trying to put information out, and they realize that they made mistakes."

Varadero, Cuba circa 1940's

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Soldiers of Heaven and the army that couldn't shoot straight:

"I'm still not buying what I'm hearing and reading about this battle the Iraqi army got into with the so-called "Soldiers of Heaven" near Najaf on Sunday. Besides the ridiculously inflated body counts, there's the matter of who these people and their leader actually were --or if he's even alive or not -- and whether the Iraqi army fought courageously or were almost wiped out by their blundering into the fight in the first place. No one even knows how many fighters of the so-called "Soldiers of Heaven" there really were. I heard a report on NPR yesterday which quoted the Iraqis saying they killed more fighters than other reports claimed were actually involved in the fight. The whole thing is very sketchy, if you ask me."
Non Sum Dignus

Monday, January 29, 2007

The 'Brutality' of Iraqi Soldiers

"This is interesting. Channel 4 News of the UK has obtained a video that shows Iraqi soldiers (no doubt Shia) beating three Sunni Arab men who were caught with mortars in their cars. The beating took place in the Sunni Arab neighborhood of Amriya, the same neighborhood my uncles lived in for decades until they received letters from the 'mujahideen' in the summer of 2005 threatening to kill them if they did not leave. The video is being circulated on other blogs and through comments, and many people are pointing to this video as evidence of the brutality of Iraqi soldiers against Sunni Arabs. One commentator on another blog called it a 'genocide' of Sunni Arabs, with American complicity."
Iraqi Mojo

Sources: Operation Baghdad starts on February 5.

"The preparations for Baghdad's security operations and the reactions of politicians, people and militant groups are still taking the most prominent headlines of local news in Iraq.

The head of one of the two city councils in Sadr city told AFP that he's ready to cooperate with the Iraqi forces in implementing the security plan. In the statement that appeared on al-Mada Kareem Hassan said "The presence of popular armed committees [Sadr militias] will end automatically when Iraqi forces enter the city because the need for the committees will cease to exist""

Field Guide to the Birds of Iraq - An important Milestone in Iraqi Conservation

"Birdlife International and Nature Iraq announced the publication of the first Arabic language field guide to the country's 387 recorded bird species. In fact the Field Guide to the Birds of Iraq is the first comprehensive, fully illustrated guide to any Arabic speaking country. The book has been a collaborative effort by Nature Iraq (I know Mudhafar Salim worked hard on it as well as other biologists and field workers), Richard Porter, author of the Field Guide to the Birds of the Middle East (recently released in Arabic) and Birdlife International. Funding for the project was provided by The Canada-Iraq Marshlands Initiative, the Ornithological Society of the Middle-East, Avifauna and The World Bank."
Birding Babylon

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Baghdad Plan Update.

"Apache attack helicopters are constantly hovering over Baghdad now. Tracking them from my home in this city I can often estimate where the action is taking place.

In many cases these are combat missions, not routine surveillance patrols, and the sounds of the helicopters heavy machineguns can often be heard in the distance; sometimes far away, sometimes coming closer.

If the star in the sky is the Apache, the star on the ground is the Stryker armored vehicle. One can hardly avoid meeting Strykers in Baghdad these days. Everybody here is talking about the astounding presence of this armored castle with its surrounding steel bars. With its huge mass and powerful headlights that can be seen from hundreds of meters away it is pure intimidation."

Beirut in flames

"BEIRUT — If there was any question whether Hezbollah was in control of the situation here following the violence of Tuesday, the fighting today should convince those that it is not, and the situation is about to be seriously out of control.
To back up a little, Tuesday’s violence seemed to shock even the leaders of Hezbollah, both because its Aounists and Amal allies behaved like hooligans, but also because the followers of Saad Hariri and Samir Geagea refused to back down and matched slogan with slogan, stick with stick, stone with stone.

At one neighborhood in Beirut, where the fighting was fiercest, the largely Sunni supporters of al-Mustaqbal chanted their support for America (in response to the chants of “Iran! Iran!” and “Bashar! Syria!” by Amal supporters across the street.) They also, bizarrely, hoisted a poster of Saddam Hussein, indicating that the Sunni-Shi’a conflict from Iraq has poisoned the atmosphere in Lebanon now, too."
Back to Iraq

The Closest Yet.


If ever a man had no enemies it was him. When I hear an American died I always wonder if in 2 days I'll see a name or get a phone call. Now I'm making the phone calls and touching base with the old Company.

There are people you've never called and generally don't like but shared a baptism together that no religion can promise or would offer. Names have passed and we always say that any death is painful. But the closer it is the reevaluation and understanding of ones beliefs is either cemented or crumbled."
A Candle in the Dark

Astroturfing: Milbloggers v. Fenton Communication

"In an online fight between a few thousand military bloggers and fifty communications professionals, who will win?
If Fenton Communication has their way, PR will come out on top.

The latest dust-up is over a a group that hired Fenton to do their public relations work called Appreal for Redress — an organization that milbloggers are suggesting is nothing more than a manufactured front group for anti-war zealots (underwritten by groups such as the Fourth Freedom Forum).

The concept for the site is that there is a number of troops who believe that we should not be in Iraq. Supposedly, this grassroots collection of troops has organized in support of the following statement:
As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq . Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.
Milbloggers say that this PR campaign is astroturfing (using false and artificial means to create the appearance of grassroots support without a sincere community uprising)."
The D-Ring

Another Lesser White-Fronted Goose tracked from Siberia to Iraq

"In 2004 a satellite tagged Lesser White-fronted Goose was tracked from its nesting grounds in Siberia to its wintering grounds in Iraq. For the first time the entire round trip migration of a single bird of this species was documented.

The LWFG is a globally threatened species that has experienced a significant population decline and is assessed to be a moderate to high risk of extinction due to habitat fragmentation and hunting pressures. Almost nothing is known about the population wintering in Iraq. Populations in Azerbaijan and Iran have seen dramatic decreases according to to waterfowl biologists.

In July of this year in the Putorana Plateau in the Ural Mountains of Russia, another group of this threatened species were tagged with satellite transmitters. The birds were captured by netting them from a boat on open water during the post-breeding moult, when they cannot fly for a number of weeks (see photo above) . Of the six birds, only 2 were still transmitting data as of December 2006."
Birding Babylon

4 Troops Abducted, Killed in Iraq Attack

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - In perhaps the boldest and most sophisticated attack in four years of warfare, gunmen speaking English, wearing U.S. military uniforms and carrying American weapons abducted four U.S. soldiers last week at the provincial headquarters in the Shiite holy city of Karbala and then shot them to death.

The U.S. military confirmed a report earlier Friday by The Associated Press that three of the soldiers were dead and one was mortally wounded with a gunshot to the head when they were found in a neighboring province, about 25 miles from the compound where they were captured. A fifth soldier was killed in the initial attack on the compound.

The new account contradicted a U.S. military statement on Jan. 20, the day of the raid on an Iraqi governor's office, that five soldiers were killed "repelling" the attack.

The security breakdown and the dramatic kidnapping and murder of four soldiers leaked out just as President Bush faces stiffening congressional opposition over his plan to flood Baghdad and surrounding regions with 21,500 more American troops. Two of Congress's most vocal war critics, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. John Murtha, were in the Iraqi capital as the news broke.

In a statement issued late Friday, the military said two of the soldiers were handcuffed together in the back seat of an SUV near the southern Iraqi town of Mahawil. A third dead soldier was on the ground nearby. The fourth soldier died on the way to the hospital.

The brazen assault, 50 miles south of Baghdad, was conducted by nine to 12 gunmen posing as an American security team, the military confirmed. The attackers traveled in black GMC Suburban vehicles (the type used by U.S. government convoys), had American weapons, wore new U.S. military combat fatigues, and spoke English, according to two senior U.S. military officials as well as Iraqi officials.

None of the American or Iraqi officials would allow use of their names because of the sensitive nature of the information.

The confirmation came after nearly a week of inquiries. The U.S. military in Baghdad initially did not respond to repeated requests for comment on reports that began emerging from Iraqi government and military officials on the abduction and a major breakdown in security at the Karbala site.

Within hours of the AP report that four of the five dead soldiers had been abducted and found dead or dying about 25 miles east of Karbala, the military issued a long account of what took place.

"The precision of the attack, the equipment used and the possible use of explosives to destroy the military vehicles in the compound suggests that the attack was well rehearsed prior to execution," said Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl, spokesman for Multi-National Division-Baghdad.

"The attackers went straight to where Americans were located in the provincial government facility, bypassing the Iraqi police in the compound," he said. "We are looking at all the evidence to determine who or what was responsible for the breakdown in security at the compound and the perpetration of the assault."

The Karbala raid, as explained by the Iraqi and American officials, began after nightfall on Jan. 20, while American military officers were meeting with their Iraqi counterparts on the main floor of the Provisional Joint Coordination Center in Karbala.

Iraqi officials said the approaching convoy of black GMC Suburbans was waved through an Iraqi checkpoint at the edge of the city. The Iraqi soldiers believed it to be American because of the type of vehicles, the distinctive camouflage American uniforms and the fact that they spoke English. One Iraqi official said the leader of the assault team was blond, but no other official confirmed that.

A top Iraqi security official for Karbala province told the AP that the Iraqi guards at the checkpoint radioed ahead to the governor's compound to alert their compatriots that the convoy was on its way.

Iraqi officials said the attackers' convoy divided upon arrival, with some vehicles parking at the back of the main building where the meeting was taking place, and others parking in front.

The attackers threw a grenade and opened fire with automatic rifles as they grabbed two soldiers inside the compound. Then the guerrilla assault team jumped on top of an armored U.S. Humvee and captured two more soldiers, the U.S. military officials said.

In its statement, the U.S. military said one soldier was killed and three were wounded by a "hand grenade thrown into the center's main office which contains the provincial police chief's office on an upper floor."

The attackers captured four soldiers and fled with them and the computer east toward Mahawil in Babil province, crossing the Euphrates River, the U.S. military officials said.

The Iraqi officials said the four were captured alive and shot just before the vehicles were abandoned.

Police, who became suspicious when the convoy of attackers and their American captives did not stop at a roadblock, chased the vehicles and found the bodies, the gear and the abandoned SUVs.

The military statement said: "Two soldiers were found handcuffed together in the back of one of the SUVs. Both had suffered gunshot wounds and were dead. A third soldier was found shot and dead on the ground. Nearby, the fourth soldier was still alive, despite a gunshot wound to the head."

The wounded soldier was rushed to the hospital by Iraqi police but died on the way, the military said.

The military also said Iraqi police had found five SUVs, U.S. Army-type combat uniforms, boots, radios and a non-U.S. made rifle at the scene.

Three days after the killings, the U.S. military in Baghdad announced the arrest of four suspects in the attack and said they were detained on a tip from a Karbala resident. No further information was released about the suspects.

Friday's military statement referred to the attackers as "insurgents," which usually suggests Sunnis. Although Karbala province is predominantly Shiite, Babil province is heavily populated by Sunnis in the north, near Baghdad. Babil's central and southern regions are largely Shiite.

A senior Iraqi military official said the sophistication of the attack led him to believe it was the work of Iranian intelligence agents in conjunction with Iraq's Shiite Mahdi Army militia, which Iran funds, arms and trains.

The Defense Department has released the names of troops killed Jan. 20 but clearly identified only one as being killed because of the sneak attack.

Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, Calif., "died of wounds suffered when his meeting area came under attack by mortar and small arms fire." Freeman was assigned to the 412th Civil Affairs Battalion, Whitehall, Ohio.

The only other troops killed that day in that region of Iraq were four Army soldiers said to have been "ambushed while conducting dismounted operations" in Karbala.

The four were identified as 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Neb.; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Prairieville, La.; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Homer, N.Y., and Pvt. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Ala. All were with the 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, of Fort Richardson, Alaska.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Kerbala attack: An inside job.

"These days have been terribly bloody for both the American military and the Iraqi civilians as large-scale sweeps in Baghdad are being prepared.

While most attacks have much in common when it comes to their goals and the destruction and pain they leave, some attacks are of a quality that suggest some messages that are more dangerous beyond the immediate harm they cause.

I’m particularly referring to the incident last week in Kerbala when US military personnel came under attack as they were meeting with local officials to coordinate security plans for the Shia religious season of Ashura.
There’s more than one reason that drive me to think that the Iraqi story wasn’t even close to what really happened. I suggest you take a look at the story first before reading further here."


"Our strategy can be summed up this way: As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.
-George W. Bush, June 2005

What does it really mean to "win in Iraq?"

Am I the only one who's lost all patience for this jaded question? Especially when posed time and time again by people who've never even set boot there yet seem almost perturbed their views were snubbed by the Blue Ribbon panoply of the Iraq For Dummies study guide? (Granted, barely a dime's worth of difference between the two, but still...)

Perhaps the underlying concerns they're really trying to express with such offhanded effrontery are as follows: Are the Iraqi security forces honestly making any progress at all, or are they (and thus, we) right back where we started? Are they truly standing up or are we merely propping them up a la Weekend at Bernies 2? What happens after we finally remove the training wheels; will they fall flat on their faces? Or can we expect I.A. Joe to still be riding a Big Wheel when he's 30? The answer to all this is a resounding... kinda/sorta/maybe/not really.

The fact is none of this can be answered in an easily quotable one-sentence affirmation of optimism because it's completely dependent on which area of the country you're spotlighting. In the Kurdish north or Shiite-dominated south: Signs point to heck yeah. In the center-west of the country (i.e., Baghdad, Ramadi, Fallujah, et al.): Reply hazy, ask again later, I know nothing, please go away before someone sees us talking."
American Citizen Soldier

A Distant Memory...

"Yesterday, and after 17 years, I finally saw my cousin again. I saw my cousin not in Iraq, but here in the Emirates. Yes, we left a few days back. BIAP (Baghdad International Airport) was buzzing with people. People who seemed to be leaving for a long long time. I saw families upon families pushing trolleys filled with large boxes and huge bags. Of all the times I travelled through BIAP, I really have never seen so many people travelling. It was shocking. The airport security was pretty good, just like any other international airport in the world. As I went to get searched in the women's section, the lady asked whether I was carrying a nail clip, a tweezer or pair of scissors. That impressed me, it was as if I was in a normal airport. She actually was talking to me in English, and I answered her back in Iraqi. The lady just stared and said :you are Iraqi?" I nodded, then she said but definitely living outside, I just smiled. I have no clue how can they tell whether I live inside or out, that just boggles my mind all the time."

The American Media’s New Burning Hoop for Maliki: Arrest Muqtada

"Wolf cries wolf, that’s basically it. Wolf Blitzer, in his interview today with VP Cheney on CNN’s The Situation Room, has revealed that the next burning hoop that the media is artificially putting in PM Maliki’s path is going to be the arrest of Shi'a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr: Blitzer is implicitly saying that if Maliki doesn’t put Muqtada behind bars, then it’s as if nothing has improved in Iraq.

Shameless. Simply shameless.

CNN, and other media outlets, have become so entrenched in the ‘Iraq-is-a-Disaster’ storyline that any positive developments in Baghdad will be matched by the media raising the bar on what counts for success, just to save face and tarnish Bush and Maliki."
Talisman Gate

Quite honestly

"Quite honestly, I don’t see any thing particularly James-Bondish or exuberant about the suggestions that I have made regarding using technology to help the security situation. I mean what is difficult about establishing intelligent data bases for the population of neighborhoods; even children have become experts with computers and data bases. As for systems to monitor movements of travelers, vehicles etc., I am sure that an abundance of such software is abundant everywhere, and particularly in the U.S.

Richard B. has written in the comments section several times describing practical and very interesting technical solutions to many of the problems that we are facing. As for biometric identification and such, isn’t this technology very common nowadays and used even in the most humble of offices, not to mention passports, airports etc. etc."
The Mesopotamian

Resolution Unbound

"This is a vent post. It's about cowardice, anti-Americanism, anti-patriotism, and out-right rooting for the enemies of freedom (al-Qaeda, Sadr, and the mullahs of Iran). And it's all about the majority of the senators who voted for this vile resolution. I'm sick to death of the lie "no one's question anybody's partriotism." I'm not questioning it in this case....I'm repudiating it. For an American to hope for....or to be ideologically committed to...the failure of the Iraq enterprise is not patriotic."
What you seem to be forgetting is, that it's the administration who has lost the war and it's the administration who has given more than hope, but actual ground and territory to the enemies of freedom and democracy. The only thing this resolution does is send a message of no-confidence to the administration in it's ability to defend America..

I don't know how anyone could help from sending such a message. That said I have to agree with Lugar's comments, and had I had a vote, would have voted Nay. But only because I think holding the hearing, and listening to the statements from the different Senators was more than enough of a no-confidence. But I am not there. nor is that despicability on my shoulders.

It was telling just to hear what Republican Senators really think, and I think Lugar should have held a similar hearing during his chairmanship. Not doing so hurt our efforts, and our chances for success, and may have, in and of itself taken away any chance that Iraqi's would ever know freedom.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Hurry Up and Wait

"This phrase and this phrase alone could easily be the army’s “other” motto. As Soldiers already know, life in the Army revolves around this phrase. On one certain occasion, recently, a few of us lucky enough to be picked for a certain mission, were able to see this at its best. It was around 1600 and we were finishing up with the final tasks of what was thought to be a short day. A few of my soldiers were already dismissed for the day and I was ready to leave myself, when SSG Bedke came flying in through the door saying, “We have a mission, we leave in a couple hours!”"

The Painful Smile

"Yesterday, President Bush gave his 2008 State of the Union Address. I didn't waste my time listening to a predictable speech followed by a predictable response from his opponents. I have better things to do with my time.

Americans are divided over the President's plan to send extra troops to Iraq. I think it's too late to try and fix the current situation in Iraq with extra 20,000 soldiers. I wish those measures were taken back in 2003 or 2004 when Iraqis were still hopeful of the change in Iraq."
Fayrouz in Beaumont

What's Up, Doc?

"I mentioned a few days ago that medics don't find jokes about allergies funny when they are in the process of sticking a needle in your arm. So, I thought you might like to hear about the kinds of things they do find funny.

A few days ago, I went in for a flu shot. The medic loads up the needle, and says:
"You know, it's a good thing we aren't in the states."
"Why's that?"
"Well, we ran out of the flu vaccine, so we're having to use the local Hadji copy.""
Acute Politics

Meals for Marines in Afghanistan insufficient, report states

"Marines deployed in Afghanistan are not getting adequate nutrition from the Defense Department’s standard combat ration, Meals Ready to Eat, the Marine Corps Center for Lessons Learned (MCLL) said in its January newsletter.
Marine and Army troops deployed to Afghanistan conduct dismounted operations – meaning they walk instead of ride – in mountainous terrain and MREs do not provide enough nutrition for their mission, the MCCLL newsletter states.

As a result, “many Marines and soldiers lost 20 to 40 pounds of bodyweight during their deployment,” the newsletter states. It adds that at least one solider was evacuated because of malnutrition and a 60-pound weight loss."
Photo Blog

From the Mail Bag: Afghanistan Images

I just thought you might like to take a look at my recent work from my trip to afghanistan.
I was embedded with a military unit on the border of pakistan in september and a second trip in november.
take a look:

strategic oil reserve?

Sorry for the light blogging, but I have been busy, I just got in. I had to hear the speech on the radio, I did not even have time to sit and watch. But all I heard was that Bush was calling for the doubling of the strategic oil reserve. I am not even sure I heard that right, I want to check the transcript to see if I did heard that right. Why would he call for a doubling of the strategic oil reserve, expecting a crisis?
Then I turn on the puter and was scanning the usual headlines, but I'm to tired to blog, and I see something about carrier battle groups heading to the Persian Gulf... and the thing about the oil reserve just came back to mind...So I'm here asking myself how long would it take to double the strategic oil reserve?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

On the Air, the Voice of Sunni Rebels in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Jan. 20 — The video starts with a young American soldier patrolling an Iraqi street. His head is obscured by leaves, so a red target is digitally inserted to draw the viewer’s eye. A split second later, the soldier collapses, shot. Martial music kicks in, a jihadi answer to John Philip Sousa. The time and place of the attack scrolls at the bottom of the screen.

Such tapes, along with images of victims of Shiite militias and unflattering coverage of Shiite leaders, are beaming across Iraq and much of the Middle East 24 hours a day, broadcast by a banned Iraqi satellite television station that has become a major information center for the Sunni insurgency — and the focus of a cat-and-mouse hunt that has exasperated and infuriated American and Iraqi forces.

Making the situation even more galling for the authorities, American and Iraqi officials say that money stolen from the United States probably helps pay for the station.

“They do not have programs but buffoonery, blaspheming and support for terrorism,” said Jalal al-Din al-Sagheer, a senior member of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shiite party. “The source of funding for the channel is theft.”

The channel’s founder, Meshaan al-Juburi, is a former Sunni member of Parliament who was indicted last February on charges of embezzling millions of American dollars meant to pay for a vast pipeline protection force he had been assigned to help build with recruits from Salahuddin Province. He was accused of collecting salaries for thousands of soldiers who did not exist.

He denied the charges and went into hiding, fleeing to Syria.

But the American and Iraqi officials said he funneled some of the money to Sunni insurgents, and they suspect much of it helped him shift the programming on his channel, Al Zawra (“the gate” in Arabic), from popular music videos and dance shows to gruesome and detailed death scenes.

Iraqi officials said Mr. Juburi made the switch to irritate his critics, and to try and buy himself protection from prosecution.

“He started showing the insurgency videos just to be close to the resistance,” said Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, a Sunni Arab and speaker of Parliament. “Because the only thing that can save him from punishment is for the Iraqi government to collapse.”

Iraqi officials banned the station on Nov. 5, focusing on its anti-Shiite footage and accusing it of “agitating the people against a large Iraqi sect with killing and genocide.” Since then, the station has become a pirate outfit, fleeing new, makeshift headquarters at least twice.

Some top American military officials say they have aggressively tried to find where the broadcasts originate to put an end to them, but so far they have failed.

Baha al-Araji, a Shiite member of Parliament familiar with efforts to cut off the station, said the Iraqi government had also asked Nilesat, the Egyptian broadcaster responsible for transmitting the station via satellite, to cancel its contract with Al Zawra. So far, the company has refused, and the Egyptian government has rejected requests to intervene.

Iraqi officials said Nilesat promised not to renew Al Zawra’s contract, though they did not know when it would expire.

The station’s popularity is being aided by growing fears among Sunnis in neighboring countries of Shiite domination in Iraq, fears Al Zawra stokes through the often gruesome videotape of what it identifies as death-squad victims.

As neighborhoods in Baghdad and elsewhere continue to be purged of Sunnis, the broadcasts prominently list the names of areas that have been taken over, advocating bloody vengeance. And even as America considers sending more troops to Iraq, in part to protect Sunnis from being slaughtered, the channel is meant to inspire resistance.

Mr. Juburi’s critics said he has a history of parlaying political favor into personal fortunes. Iraqi officials said he made millions as a cigarette supplier under Saddam Hussein, and later ingratiated himself with Americans searching for Sunnis to bring into Iraq’s new government.

Mr. Juburi now lives openly and comfortably in Syria.

He refused requests for an interview, but has often appeared on other Arab satellite channels to defend the station. Earlier this month on Al Jazeera, he debated Sadiq al-Musawi, a Shiite Iraqi political analyst, condemning Iraq’s government and what he described as an ambitious effort to “defame” Al Zawra.

In an interview conducted via e-mail, a representative of Al Zawra, who did not reveal his name, said that the station’s leaders had been a direct target of the Americans, and forced to move twice. The representative railed against the Americans and the Shiite militias, as well as the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

“Our media’s message is to broadcast the voice of the resisters to the American and Iranian occupation, to reveal the crimes of Badr Organization and Moktada’s army and the gangs of Maliki,” the representative said, citing two prominent Shiite militias, “and document it and work on forming a legal directorate to prosecute them in international courts for the crimes of genocide against the Sunni Arabs in Iraq.”

When the station shuttered its Baghdad office several months ago, it was thought to have moved its operations to Salahuddin Province, northwest of Baghdad, in the Sunni heartland. The governor there said publicly that he was ordered to make sure he did not play host to the station, noting that the Americans had delivered a “stern” message on the subject. In December, Kurdish officials denied reports that the station was operating out of a Christian neighborhood in Erbil.

The station does not have much structure or style. Grainy clips of grisly violence, running in loops and sometimes in slow motion, are interspersed with news bulletins featuring just two commentators — a woman, who wraps and covers her face, and a man in a full battle fatigues whose face is uncovered, and who appears to be about 30 years old.

They regularly accuse Iraq’s Shiite-led government of being a front for Iran. Mr. Mashhadani, the Parliamentary speaker and a Sunni, is often called “Mashhadi” — a reference to the Iranian town of Mashhad, Iran’s holiest Shiite city.

The station also frequently offers critical coverage of the rebel cleric Moktada al-Sadr, including broadcasting a clip that the station says demonstrates his militia’s infiltration of the Iraqi Army. Mr. Sadr is shown sitting with aides, discussing how many militiamen he can spare to be a part of the Iraqi Army. In the end, he says that he will supply two divisions. The source of the video is unclear.

In an odd twist, at the same time as the broadcasts promote attacks against the Americans and the Shiite militias, the station’s main commentator, the man in fatigues, encourages other Shiites to join the struggle.

In fact, the commentator, who reads his diatribes from an undisclosed location, is himself a Shiite, according to a Baghdad couple who identified themselves as his parents.

As the station’s agenda shifts from focusing strictly on the Americans to rallying Sunnis to prevent Shiite control of the country, the potential of the message to stir up more bloodshed is that much greater.

But the representative of the station seemed confident that it would stay on the air.

“Al Zawra represents all factions of resistance against the Iranian and American occupation,” he wrote. “And it is committed to broadcasting their messages and activities without any interference or discrimination.”


Iran masses troops along borders with Iraq -- source

IRBIL, Jan 19 (KUNA) -- An Iraqi Kurdish source said Friday that Iran is massing troops along its borders with north Iraq.

A Pishmerga source said that Iran has beefed up its troops stationed along the main border crossing (Pashmakh), midway between the Kurdish Penjavin city and the Iranian Miriwan city.

He added that Iran sent more reinforcement troops to the Kirban border position with Iraq, between Daza castle north of Suleymania.

Also the Iranian border authorities are applying a lot of pressure on businessmen at the border crossing and tightening the inspection process there.

Well, I am tempted to say it. It may sound vain and distasteful. But, really, this new strategy, haven’t I suggested something of the sort three years ago? It would have been much easier then, but as they say, better late than never.

On the personal level, we have suffered some terrible things at the outset of this New Year. The oldest of my cousins, who is almost a couple of decades older than me, met his death by a terrible accident involving American troops. This is a problem that has occurred so often that really requires reconsideration of the way that M.N. forces are deployed. This was particularly painful as this man was one of the most harmless and peaceful of all, a man who has never hurt anybody, a man with a large family and a man who has born the full brunt of the lean years of these last couple of decades. He had to venture out in his old car in one of these dangerous neighborhoods of Baghdad to do some shopping for his family."
The Mesopotamian

"It is critical that we take advantage of this opportunity to win."

"In December posted about SEN John McCain's visit here to Ramadi, I praised the Senator for coming here and returning to stand up for, not just the service members, but for the mission. He was joined by several other Senator's including SEN Joe Lieberman. SEN Lieberman has continued to support the mission at a tremendous political cost. It is of no moment that he won reelection to the Senate in that analysis. He burned bridges in getting back there.

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal has a tremendous article about the Senator and his support for the mission. He succinctly and accurately sums up what is at stake."
Badgers Forward

Yes, I'm still on it

"One more pretentious addition to my words to James Wolcott, and then I promise I'll let it go. When I first posted about his jab at me, one of my commenters noted that he was probably not impressed with classic American works such as Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, either. In that spirit, here is one of Walt Whitman's works:"
Acute Politics
I think that's a polite way to say, fuck off.

Wikis a new OPSEC threat?

"It seems as if the Department of Defense is focused on blogs as the biggest threat to OPSEC in the new media realm. It may be, however, that they overlooking another possibility — wikis.

From the Washington Post:
Wikileaks is developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Our primary interests are oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the west who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their own governments and corporations. We aim for maximum political impact; this means our interface is identical to Wikipedia and usable by non-technical people. We have received over 1.2 million documents so far from dissident communities and anonymous sources…

Wikileaks opens leaked documents up to a much more exacting scrutiny than any media organization or intelligence agency could provide. Wikileaks will provide a forum for the entire global community to examine any document for credibility, plausibility, veracity and falsifiability. They will be able to interpret documents and explain their relevance to the public. If a document comes from the Chinese government, the entire Chinese dissident community can freely scrutinize and discuss it; if a document arrives from Iran, the entire Farsi community can analyze it and put it in context.
For those not familiar, wikis, such as the popular wikipedia, are information sharing sites that are completely maintained and updated by visitors — the community controls the wiki’s content."
The D-Ring

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Interview with Bill Roggio

"I have to apologize. I've been remiss in not directing you to Bill Roggio's interview with meM.
He's had it up for five days now, and it kept slipping my mind to link it on the few occasions I got Blogger to work lately. It's short, but you might find it interesting. Check it out."
Acute Politics
Got by me too, but I have been busy the last few days and have not been posting too much. Hope to get back to blogging full time soon.

Falluja Nights
"A few nights ago we we spent a good portion of the night driving around some of the nastier streets in Falluja. We navigated dirt piles across one road, and then the narrow alleys that bypassed the obstacles blocking the next road we cleared. We dug up suspicious spots in the road, and fended low hanging electrical wires away from our vehicles.

This time, we were out there that night making sure the roads were clear for the Iraqis instead of US troops. This is what they did. Not too bad, I'd say. The Iraqi forces, at least around here, are certainly getting better."
Acute Politics

Friday, January 19, 2007

Habbaniyah and the 3/3-1 Snake Eaters

"Joint Army, Marine Military Transition Team works with the Iraqi Army in one of the most dangerous regions in Anbar province

Despite major clearing operations in Anbar province in 2004 and 2005 (what I've termed the Anbar Campaign), the province remains one of the most deadly regions of Iraq. The Anbar Campaign cleared the region of overt insurgent and al-Qaeda control (regions such as Haditha, Fallujah and Qaim were declared 'Islamic Republics' by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi for periods of time), al-Qaeda havens and ratlines, and a persistent underground insurgency remain. The focus in Anbar has shifted from large scale combat operations to counterinsurgency operations, and the integration of the Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police and tribal support is crucial to the success of the mission."
The Fourth Rail

Through the Ringer:

"In the second installation of Through the Ringer, I bring you, the new social networking Web site for members of the military, military family members and those who support the troops."
The D-Ring

The Black Globe of Terror Award...

"Another Bloody day yesterday. Innocent students going out from their university on their way home, then BOOM, body parts scattered everywhere. Just like that. It was only two days ago when I said to my colleagues how things have quietened down and maybe its two things, either the criminals have fled fearing for their lives from the "New Plan" or they are brewing for yet another bloodshed. And sure enough the latter was correct.

Bush said on 60 minutes and I quote ""We liberated that country from a tyrant," Bush said. "I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude."" Umm seriously??? That sentence infuriated me. The Iraqi people dont owe anything to anyone!!! NOTHING, ZERO, ZILCH. The Iraqi people had a dream and that dream is no longer there. It has evaporated into thin air. Their dream was to have a good life, a safe life, a rich life. Their dream was to provide a good life for their children and their children's children. Their dream was to have a life, here, here in Iraq. But now they dream of another life. A life outside all this chaos, outside all this bloodshed. Their "Allah Kareem" and "Inshallah" is now rarely uttered. Even these words, these words of hope stopped having a meaning."

There Was No Al Qaeda In Iraq Before 2003

"I don't know how many times I have heard people say that there was no Al Qaeda in Iraq before 2003. It is a true statement, but do people who make this statement ask why? Why did Al Qaeda, the Base of God's Support, not attack Saddam Hussein's secular regime, who murdered countless Iraqi Muslims for wanting an Islamic government in Iraq? Did Saddam possess some kind of mojo (doubtful) that kept Al Qaeda suicide bombers out of Iraq? It seems that when people say that there was no Al Qaeda in Iraq before 2003, they are giving kudos to Saddam and his henchmen, as if to say they were doing something right. Did the regime build a wall along the Iraqi-Saudi border that we don't know about? How did Saddam keep Al Qaeda out of Iraq? Did Al Qaeda even think of destabilizing Iraq before 2003 by suicide bombers, car bombs, and attacking government officials? "
Iraqi Mojo

A last chance or a new beginning?

"The last chance…I hear these words a lot these days that it became the common description or question by the media for/about the new security plan—last chance for Maliki, last chance for Bush, last chance for Iraq…as if the new plan was a coin that can be flipped only once carrying victory on the one face and doom on the other.

I think people who use this "last chance" idea are not helping Iraq or America here or they are of the type of people who do not want to deal with the challenge seriously. This term has a tone of defeatism, it's as if Iraq was a totally lost case while in fact the huge change that's been happening in the form of replacing a totalitarian regime with a democratic one is a lengthy process that cannot be accomplished through military action alone; success has economic and social elements along with the military one in addition to international and regional cooperation. It is no wisdom to think of closing this file or abandoning it based on the results of one security operation."

By the way...

"From the same Time article linked to below:
A visit to the Khadamiyah Women's Prison in the northern part of Baghdad immediately produces several tales of abduction and abandonment. A stunning 18-year-old nicknamed Amna, her black hair pulled back in a ponytail, says she was taken from an orphanage by an armed gang just after the U.S. invasion and sent to brothels in Samarra, al-Qaim on the border with Syria, and Mosul in the north before she was taken back to Baghdad, drugged with pills, dressed in a suicide belt and sent to bomb a cleric's office in Khadamiyah, where she turned herself in to the police. A judge gave her a seven-year jail sentence "for her sake" to protect her from the gang, according to the prison director.
Believe it, assholes."

I Love Technology

"This is really cool.
The robot’s mechanical ears were originally designed to improve hearing aides. But Thoren, then with Boston University’s Photonics Center, which heads the RedOwl project, thought up a new application after learning of a spike in sniper activity surrounding Iraqi hotspots like Abu Ghraib prison. He combined the original listening system—which processes sound received by four microphones to determine the direction and elevation of a noise—with a suite of sensors, spotlights and a laser rangefinder. When the RedOwl hears gunfire, it swivels its head toward the source of the noise. A thermal imager can pick out the sniper while an infrared spotlight illuminates him for night-vision-equipped troops."
4 Mile Creek


"December 6, 2006: a date which will live in irrelevancy.

Now that four out of five critics have agreed to agree that the President's latest elective surgery is poised to kill the patient on the operating table, I finally made time to digest that redundant monstrosity of pomposity known as the Iraq Study Group Report of the Hamilton-Baker Commission. (Also referred to by anyone who's spent more than four days on the ground as The Complete Idiot's Guide to Iraq). Less people have white-lied about finishing Moby Dick than this myopia-inducing dirge, but then I don't believe even Sir James reads what he signs his name to these days, other than his own royalty checks of course.

By now it's no secret that the ISG's half-baked Ham-Bake is little more than a neverending litany of duh on arrival recommendations that are not only far from novel ideas, but have already been implemented for quite some time now. For starters:"
American Citizen Soldier

Resolving Iraq

Progress depends on a short timeline for US troop withdrawal

by Carl Conetta
Project on Defense Alternatives Briefing Memo #40
18 January 2007

The Bush administration's misadventure in Iraq constitutes a splendid catastrophe -- "splendid" in the sense of being manifest, multifaceted, and profound. It is the strategic equivalent of Katrina, but man-made. Born of disinformation, it has -- at great cost in lives, money, and prestige -- spawned anti-Americanism, civil war, and a surge in terrorism.1 Failing to see this is dangerous. Even more dangerous is mistaking the malady for the cure -- which is precisely what President Bush has done with his "troop surge" proposal.

Operation Iraqi Freedom is not the type of folly that one can fix by staying the course. Nor can it be fixed by putting more shoulders to the wheel. Indeed, we cannot truly fix this disaster at all -- not without recourse to time travel. However, we can begin to repair the damage. And it is worth remembering that the United States and its armed forces rebounded relatively quickly from the Vietnam War debacle.

What is most important now is to recognize as bankrupt the Bush administration's crusader vision – its notions of coercive transformation. We must see and set a distinctly new course, beginning with Iraq.

Out of Iraq

Iraq's best hope for peace resides in a quick withdrawal of almost all US military forces from the country and their replacement by a new and smaller multinational force. "Quick" and "almost all" means a reduction to no more than a few thousand US troops by mid-March 2008 -- the fifth anniversary of the war's onset. Between now and then, the emphasis should shift to training Iraqi forces, redefining the security mission, and handing it off to the new international coalition.

Those few US troops remaining in Iraq after March 2008 should constitute a minority contingent within a multinational security assistance mission comprised principally of participants from Arab and Muslim nations. The United States might also maintain a deterrent force in the region (but outside Iraq) comprising a ground force component of no more than 15,000 soldiers and marines (including those afloat).

Iraq will continue to need substantial external assistance and support. However, a new multinational framework is essential. The current one -- which rests on US military power and entails American predominance in key areas of Iraqi life and governance -- is provocative and untenable. The Iraqi government will continue to suffer legitimacy problems until it becomes fully disentangled from the American mission.

A new framework of international support should be formed under the auspices of the UN Security Council (UNSC) with separate sections addressing governance, development, and security. This framework should incorporate and supercede all bilateral efforts. New security efforts, in particular, should centrally involve Iraq's neighbors.

Until these changes occur, "nationalist" and "rejectionist" sentiments and elements in both the Sunni and Shia communities will continue to prompt violence in Iraq, including cycles of communal conflict. By contrast, the international community – specifically, the Security Council and a consortium of Iraq's neighbor -- might use the prospect of US withdrawal as a lever to move Iraq's communities toward a new national compact.

The proposed approach constitutes a fundamental departure from the current failed course. Despite the risks it entails, it offers a last and best hope for stabilizing Iraq and substantiating its representative system of government.

For the United States, the proposed course assumes a devolution of its near-term goals for Iraq to the following: a unified, fully-sovereign, and fairly stable Iraq, possessing a representative form of government and posing no aggressive threat to its neighbors. We must set aside, for now, the goals of establishing in Iraq a model free-market economy uniquely open to globalization, or of marginalizing pan-Arab nationalist and Islamist ideologies, or of creating a base and a partner for efforts at regional transformation. All these things might be accomplished in the future, but only by means other than military occupation. One additional goal served by withdrawal and stabilization would be a reduction in the flow of terrorist volunteers. Al Qaeda would lose its principal recruiting tool.

The present approach is untenable

As early as Fall 2005, some coalition military leaders began to publically affirm that the coalition's presence in Iraq was "part of the problem." 2 In fact, it is -- or has become -- the determinate part.

That the American presence and mission are untenable should be clear from the fact that Iraqis readily blame the coalition, directly or indirectly, for most of their current difficulties, including the rise in communal violence and crime.3 A September 2006 poll of Iraqi public opinion found that 79 percent of Iraqis think the United States is having a mostly negative effect on the country; 78 percent think that the US military is provoking more conflict than it is preventing.4 A "hearts and minds" campaign cannot be won under these circumstances.

Especially in Sunni and Shia areas -- where US troops mostly operate -- Iraqis do not trust the coalition and want US troops to leave soon. The September 2006 poll found 71 percent of all Iraqis favoring withdrawal by September 2007. Among Sunnis the proportion wanting withdrawal was 91 percent; among Shia, 74 percent.

Most disturbing, support among Iraqis for attacks on coalition forces registered at 61 percent in the September 2006 poll -- up from 47 percent in January 2006. Among Shia, support for attacks is 62 percent; among Sunnis, 92 percent. A September 2006 poll for the Defense Department found somewhat lower levels of support for the attacks, but still quite disturbing: 75 percent of Sunnis supported them – up from 14 percent in 2003.5 An October 2006 poll by the British Ministry of Defense found similar results.6 And a January 2005 poll by Zogby International found that 53 percent of Sunnis supported attacks on US troops at that time.7

Generally speaking, Iraqi sentiments regarding the US presence have grown steadily more negative since the summer of 2003.8 And US military operations -- ranging from routine patrols and raids to major offensives and city sieges -- seem only to further alienate Iraqi opinion.9

Key aspects of an effective alternative

The power and appeal of "rejectionism" among Sunnis and Shia alike derive from the fact of the American occupation. The negative aura that surrounds the American presence also touches and tarnishes the Iraqi government, which is presently dependent on American power. And, because that government is dominated by Kurdish and Shia parties, the impression that it is "collaborationist" feeds communal tensions.

The key to ending civil conflict in Iraq and stabilizing the country is integration of the Sunni community into the political process as a full partner. Also essential is the fuller integration of the various Shia "Sadrist" trends. The occupation puts these goals out of reach. It makes it impossible to integrate the more "nationalist" of the Sunni insurgent groups. It also creates a base of support among Sunnis for Al Qaeda-linked terrorists. These latter are principally responsible for the mass attacks on Shia community, which drive the cycle of communal violence.

With regard to integrating Sunnis: what is most important is the co-option of "rejectionist" elements -- especially recalcitrant tribal groups and those indigenous insurgents not affiliated with Al Qaeda franchise groups. Desired immediate outcomes would be a substantial reduction in attacks on coalition forces, strong local cooperation in suppressing the activity of Al Qaeda-affiliated groups, and an end to terrorist assaults on the Shia community. Another near-term objective would be a quid pro quo "cease-fire" on the part of Sadrists and other Shia militants who target Sunnis.

To draw Sunnis into the new order it is essential that there be:

A timeline for the near-term withdrawal of almost all US troops, occurring in phases commencing almost immediately;
An end to the de-Baathification campaign; (Former regime officials formally charged with gross abuses of human rights might be prosecuted on an individual basis.)
A full amnesty for all indigenous insurgents and militia not charged with intentionally doing grave harm to noncombatant civilians; and,
A return to local Sunni authority in Sunni locales, including the formation of local security units
Winning the assent of Shia parties to some of these provisions will be difficult -- although the Sadrists and some Dawa leaders will welcome a timeline for US withdrawal. Here, the role of Iraq's neighbors -- especially Iran -- and mediating organizations, such as the League of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, will be pivotal.

Overcoming resistance and moving all Iraqi parties toward a "new beginning" for Iraq will depend on the political momentum gained from the prospect of US troop withdrawal, a reassertion of Iraqi sovereignty, a new national compact among Iraq's communities, and regional cooperation in securing Iraq's borders and reducing intercommunal tensions.

Winning the cooperation of Iraq's neighbors will require that some of their key security concerns be addressed. In the case of Syria and Iran, a de-escalation of other contentious issues is essential. Our disagreements with these states must come out from under the imminent threat of war.

The new security mission in Iraq

The new security mission should be under UN auspices and founded on a consortium of states including all of Iraq's neighbors and the permanent members of the Security Council. The central involvement of Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran will allow for better control of external influences on the Iraqi security environment and will add powerful new capacities to influence decision-making in the Iraqi Shia and Sunni communities.

Iraq's Sunni and Shia neighbors can play a unique and pivotal role in stabilizing Iraq by cooperating to end intercommunal strife. And the United States should facilitate this cooperation.

On the ground, foreign advisors and troops may serve to train and assist indigenous forces as well as monitor military developments. In some areas, they may share primary responsibility for security. US and UK troops, however, should constitute only a small minority of the foreign contingent, mostly serving in support capacities.

Most of the foreign military personnel inside Iraq, and all of those serving as front-line troops, should come from Arab-speaking and Muslim states -- preferably from states noncontiguous with Iraq. For instance: Egypt, Morocco, the UAE, and Oman together should be able to deploy 60,000 ground troops, if supported. (Several of them together deployed nearly this many for the 1991 Gulf War. In aggregate, their ground forces are larger than America's.) Military and police training and development efforts might draw from a broader roster.

Of course, any new international force in Iraq should operate under a clear status of forces agreement with the Iraqi government.

As a confidence-building measure, all states participating in the security mission should agree to forego unilateral security-related efforts in Iraq. Instead, all efforts should be channeled through the international mission. Moreover, Iraq and its neighbors should agree to exchange substantial "military observer" missions.

Conclusion: Plan B

The proposed alternative depends on the willingness of Iraq's political leadership to risk a new course. There is no guarantee that they will assent. Should they reject the path outlined above, however, they will have foreclosed the possibility of stabilizing the country any time soon. Continuing the US mission under such a limitation would be counter-productive and contrary to American interests.

Should Iraq's leaders decide to foreclose the hope of progress, the United States should withdraw its current mission and assume a regional posture that aims to contain and manage the effluent from a distance. A deepening of Iraqi civil conflict might ensue -- at least for a time -- or it might not. Either way, a large-scale US military occupation of indefinite duration is not a cost-effective way of hedging against this eventuality. Air, naval, and ground force deployments outside Iraq comprising 50,000 personnel would comprise a very substantial deterrent and rapid response capability -- should the preferred course as outlined above prove impracticable. In addition, regional diplomacy should address a "Plan B" contingency, so that concerned nations might coordinate their responses and minimize the possibility of a broader war. Concerned nations should also make provisions for humanitarian relief and the care of refugees.

Seeing our way clear of the Iraq disaster and avoiding similar debacles in the future requires that US national leadership reject the war's originating error: the conviction that one nation might easily compel profound political, economic, and social transition in another at the point of a gun.


1. A cost benefit analysis of the operation with an addendum summarizing its effects on terrorism can be found in: Carl Conetta, Pyrrhus on the Potomac: How America's post-9/11 wars have undermined US national security, Project on Defense Alternatives Briefing Report #18 (Cambridge MA: Commonwealth Institute, 5 September 2006).

2. "Government stunned by Army chief's Iraq blast," Daily Mail, 13 October 2006; Sean Rayment, "All British soldiers to be out of Iraq in 12 months," Telegraph, 8 March 2006; Mark Mazzetti, "Generals conclude U.S. troops foster insurgency in Iraq," Los Angeles Times, 1 October 2005; and, Sean Rayment, "British commanders condemn US military tactics," The Age, 12 April 2004.

3. Jill Carroll, "Ordinary Iraqis bear brunt of war," Christian Science Monitor, 15 April 2005, p. 6; Jack Fairweather, "Iraqis blame US for bomb attacks on army recruits," News Telegraph, 2 December 2004; Joseph L. Galloway, Jonathan S. Landay, Warren P. Strobel and John Walcott, "Blunders worsened America's problems in Iraq," Knight Ridder, 18 October 2004; and, Ian Fisher, "As Iraqis Become the Targets of Terrorists, Some Now Blame the American Mission," New York Times, 17 December 2003.

4. Program on International Policy Attitudes, The Iraqi Public on the US Presence and the Future of Iraq (Washington DC: PIPA, 27 September2006); Program on International Policy Attitudes, The Iraqi Public on the US Presence and the Future of Iraq (Washington DC: PIPA, 27 September2006);

5. John Simpson, "Iraq engulfed by tide of violence," BBC News, 22 September 2006;

6. Sean Rayment, "Secret MoD poll: Iraqis Support Attacks on British Troops," Sunday Telegraph, 23 October 2005.

7. Survey Finds Deep Divisions in Iraq; Sunni Arabs Overwhelmingly Reject Sunday Elections; Majority of Sunnis, Shiites Favor U.S. Withdrawal, New Abu Dhabi TV - Zogby Poll Reveals (Utica, NY: Zogby International, 28 January 2005);

8. Carl Conetta, What do Iraqis want? Iraqi attitudes on occupation, US withdrawal, governments, and quality of life (Cambridge MA: Commonwealth Institute, 1 February 2005);

9. The problems posed by military occupation and the effects of US military operations on Iraqi public opinion are explored in detail in: Carl Conetta, Vicious Circle: The Dynamics of Occupation and Resistance in Iraq, Part One. Patterns of Popular Discontent, PDA Research Monograph #10 (Cambridge MA: Commonwealth Institute, 18 May 2005);


Thursday, January 18, 2007

KONGRA-GEL: Statement on Iraq

The US-led intervention in Iraq has failed to produce the desired outcome and the coalition forces are faced with an intense crisis. Iraq has become the scene for a civil war. Armed clashes are increasing daily. The US is trying to find a way out of this crisis, to minimise its losses and get out of the conflict area as soon as possible.

The Iraq Study Group has produced and published a report after months of research work, in an attempt to find a solution to the Iraq question. It consists mainly of recommendations, but all the powers involved in the conflict have given their evaluation of the proposals. This report by the Iraq Study Group, known as Baker Hamilton Report, as the document has become known, proposes new political policies to counter the crisis engulfing Iraq and the entire Middle East. For the Kurds it is important to make a detailed evaluation of the report. Considering the emphasis the report gives to Iraq's neighbouring countries, it is evident that the aim is to return the Middle East to the pre-2003 period.

The authors of the report propose the reconstruction of a situation as it existed before the intervention as a policy to resolve the question. Even though this is not an official government document outlining decisions, it is evident that when the proposals are implemented the current crisis will worsen. From the Kurdish viewpoint the report and the political discussions which followed its publication, are extremely dangerous. For this reason the Kurdish forces must assess it correctly including the political structures which are now being established. The current political phase must be met with the right strategy and political struggle and the positive developments for the Kurds which resolute from this process must be used to the Kurds' advantage. This is a case of necessity and survival.

The recommendations in the report indicate that the neighbouring countries, allowing them to continue with their current policies to secure the status quo, will be asked to play a role in solving the Iraqi question. Such a policy will create a situation to the great disadvantage of the Kurdish people. Turkey, Iran and Syria will once again become powers in the region. By focusing on regional sensitivities, the report gives prominence to the states which repress the Kurdish people.

While the governments, which until now have worked with the US, were discouraged by the report, it has become clear that previous opponents of the US position in the Middle East all of sudden have changed sides and become pro-American. It is obvious that the Turkish request to delay a referendum on the status of Kirkuk is explicitly demanded and underlined in the report, and attention is given predominately to Turkish sensitivities. Regarding the Kirkuk question the report provides an anti-Kurdish perspective.

The Turkish foreign ministry evaluates the report as realistic, correct and satisfying. Iran and Syria approve it as well. Right at the beginning of the report it is made clear that the interests of the Kurdish people have not been taken into account and that the Kurdish people are not seen as a discussion partner in the resolution of the Iraqi question. The fact that the report does not mention the Kurdish people in the four parts where the Kurds live is a great mistake and an error. Before the report was written there were no talks between the authors and the Kurds. This proves that the interests of the Kurdish people have not been taken into account in any way.

Furthermore the report takes into account the loss of the Kurdish gains, which were won by paying a high price of suffering and torture, and concentrates on the interests of states such as Turkey, Iran and Syria. The report does not recognise the people of the Middle East, in particular the people in Iraq, as the forces which can provide a solution.


Turkey-Iran-Syria alliance:

The mistakes of the US have led to the existing Iraqi predicament, with the agreement and ongoing alliance between Turkey, Iran and Syria playing a key role in its constitution. The break down of these alliances is essential in terms of the intention of creating stability in Iraq. The distancing of Turkey from Iran and Syria is particularly obligatory.

The developments in Palestine and Lebanon are related to this situation. The Middle East, Iraq is moving slowly towards division and war in this manner. It brings about a dangerous situation in terms of region and its communities. In the circumstance of such a war developing, it is clear that Kurdistan will be at the center of it.

In the past weeks Turkey, Iran, Syria, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and particularly, the Turkish, Syrian and Iranian alliance has taken courage from this situation, which they themselves created, and increased the intervention in Iraq. As a matter of fact, they have intensified their efforts in pulling the Iraqi regime into their alliance, thus strengthening their support in Iraq and establishing their influence. It is also apparent that the alliance has increased their profits in the country by intensifying both the interventions in Iraq and the attacks on Kurdish people

This alliance is performed in cooperation with the US, and despite their politics being partially similar; it aims to imitate the US. It is also obvious that powers that battle within Iraq have promoted an opportunity to attract regional and national relationships, trying to prove to gain strength from the divisions and fighting.

The Shias and Iran gain strength:

The Shias trying to resolve their own internal conflicts and unite, are at the same time seeking to gain power in battles against the Sunnis. Meanwhile the Shia movement aims to strengthen its relationship and solidarity with Iran and working towards maintaining the support of Turkey. In this way it is gaining strength through the civil war and their fight to gain sovereignty in Iraq. While Sunnis are implicated in the war against the Shias, efforts are also made to get support from the Sunni state, while at the same time amending the relationship with the US, which presently is very low. By continuing the war against the Shias, they remain determined to protect Iraq regardless of things never being the same again.

Turkey is aiming to gain influence:

While Turkey in cooperation with Iran and Syria is aiming to strengthen its intervention in Iraq and over Kurds, it is also trying to take the initiative and win power. İn order to succeed, Turkey has been working on the relationships between Iraqi Kurds, Turkmen and Arab people, and also developed its relationships with the Shias and Sunnis and building relations with Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and improving its relationship with the US. In the present chaos it aims to obtain the initiative to gain power. In the event of a war and divisions deepening within Iraq, it has made preparations to intervene.

Syria is after fortification:

Syria has invited the Iraq President for talks and at the same time indicated that it will approve of an agreement request by the US, and assist them to get out of the impasse it is in. The meetings with Turkey have resumed. And while Syria is strengthening its relationships with Sunnis in Iraq it is working to improve its diplomatic relationships with Iraq.

Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia appear to reinforce and strengthen the Sunnis in Iraq preventing the Shias from dominating Iraq.

The Middle East is close to a regional conflict. The developments and relations in Iraq and the divisions in the region are slowly leading to a battle of conflicts and regional divisions. This process poses am obvious threat and the question how it will it be prevented, when and where it will happen, and what outcome will be become inevitable. The continued Sunni and Shia fighting is feasible, which will lead to further conflicts resulting in new battles. Also the civil war in Iraq could trigger regional division and civil war. Presently we witness the most intense Sunni-Shia war which makes Iraq a dangerous place to live in.

On the other hand the approaching Kirkuk referendum planned for 2007 has increased the tensions, conflict, battle, and divisions. The fundamental threat the Kirkuk referendum poses is a Sunni-Shia war, with the danger of this war spreading to the Arabs, Kurds and all regional powers.

Iran benefited from the situation in Iraq:

The US, following its intervention in 2003, allied themselves to the Kurds and Shias to build the new Iraq, abandoned the Sunnis fighting a crusade against them. However, this crusade did not build the new Iraq, and only some Kurds and Shias benefited. Hence Iran tried to benefit from this. All the attempts made by Iran to make Shias sovereign in Iraq had been thwarted. The Shias inhabiting 60% of the country, had been a vital source of power for Iran. Iran, providing support for Shias inhabiting Iran tried to establish power amd to gain sovereignty in Iraq. Due to this the US limited its activities, and becoming ineffective. Iran’s policies are to lead the US into a dead end, and this policy has achieved considerable results.

The Shias have won power of government, and gained influence in the region, spreading and escalating Shia power in the entire Gulf region. This alerted US to the threat posed by the Shias, and the drawbacks linked to Iran. Consequently the US witnessed the increase of activities not only of Iran but of Shias within the region. If the US does not put a stop to this, not only will it give significant power to Iran via the Shias in Iraq, conversely Iran backing the Shias in the Gulf will also gain more power for itself. To lose in the Middle East, will mean strategic loss for the US. The US abandoned their policies as they worked in favour of Iran and tried to formulate new policies.

The Kurdish and Shia alliance included a section of the Sunnis. Kurds, Sunnis and Shias who partially accept the US and degrade Iran are included to do the ground work of new Iraq. The fundamental aim is to eliminate Iran’s influence in the region.

Turkey caused the split between the Shias and Kurds Turkey’s approach to Iran creates conditions for close relations with Iran, as they recognise the the situation facing them in southern Turkey and Syria is seen as dangerous and they recognise that they can only counter the danger by strengthening the Shia movements and to increase the Shia’s power, and that the Iran error led to the alliance between the Shias and Kurds. As a matter of fact when Cafer was prime minister, and when he went to Turkey Celal Talabani criticised him and added that he cannot represent Iraq, and that the ruling put forward by Celal will not be valid. The reason given was because of Cafer inviting Turkey to Iraq. This posed a threat which was in the interests of the Kurds. As a result Talabani declined any discussion defensively arguing that his decisions were invalid.


Divisions in Iraq:

It would not be realistic to say that Sunni and Shiite Arabs and Kurds in Iraq can live together as they have done before. Iraq is divided and faced with a sectarian war. The only option to prevent the intensification of this war and stop it from engulfing the entire region is to establish a confederal structure in Iraq.

This will ensure that the problems in Iraq and the region will not further deteriorate. Policies such as supporting the Shiites or Sunnis, which only ensures hegemony over each other, will deepen the current conflict and create more divisions in Iraq. Unless there is a policy change and the problems of Iraq are not resolved, a regional war and more divisions are inevitable.

Confederation in Iraq:

Today Iraq is a federation and moving towards a loose federative model. There are some forces who are debating and proposing confederalism as a solution. The KKK (Confederal System of Kurdistan) regards this as a realistic model. The problems in Iraq can only be overcome with a confederal state structure. The solution to the issues in Iraq is directly linked to the free expression of peoples’, who have the freedom to express and organize themselves according to their own identity and an organization. This must be acknowledged. Strengthening one group over the other to obtain domination is very a dangerous approach. It will only serve the purpose to further deepen and intensify the divisions and conflicts.

The Shiites should be able to organize according to their own identity and the same applies to the Sunnis, Kurds and Turkmen’s. They should be able to express themselves freely. If the problems are evaluated along these lines a solution is possible. The prevention of division, conflict, disintegration and break-up in Iraq is possible. Also a bloody war amongst peoples’ can be prevented. The proposed solution will also positively affect the Middle East region. Any other solutions will only further deepen the problems.

An Inter-Kurdish United Strategy:

It is obvious that the dominant states in the region who believe they will gain strength from the current developments will harden their policies on the Kurdistan freedom struggle. For this reason, during this new period the development of the Kurdish national unity, solidarity and a united strategy is necessary. The KKK has shown that its precious call for a national conference on the latest developments was correct and necessaries. We believe that Kurds should have confidence in themselves; they should put their unity onto solid grounds, and continue their struggle with determinator in the context of a united strategy. There is a historical role for Kurdistani patriotic organizations in Turkey, Iran and Syria. All achievements of Kurds must be defended, firstly those of South Kurdistan. They have been obtained through great efforts and tens of thousands of martyrs of our people. Kurds should establish a base for the permanent resolution of the Kurdish question and develop a political strategy. For this reason it is important to defend the Kurds’ achievements which forms the basis to the political resolution of the Kurdish question as a whole.

Kurds must organise a National Conference:

The latest situation shows that all the developments in the Middle East will have an affect on all forces in the region; however, the Kurds will be the most affected. There is a high probability that Kurdistan will become the centre of conflict and that there will be more devastation and suffering. The Kurdish people and political circles must recognise this and organise a national conference without delay. It is also vital that decisions on joint policies are made to resolve problems.

If the Kurds fail to organise a national conference and do not strengthen unity and solidarity, this will create a dangerous situation. If Kurds do not prepare and organize themselves, then Kurds will experience even greater suffering. But, if these developments are foreseen and organizational preparations are made accordingly, then resistance can develop on these foundations. We can reduce the damage and danger to a minimum. Kurds can become an important force in the region.

Precautions exclusively taken in South Kurdistan will not save it:

A policy concerning Kurdish Islamic circles in Kurdistan is necessary to prevent an Islamic, secular, Kurdish, Arab conflict and instability among forces in Kurdistan, especially the forces in South Kurdistan. The efforts to prevent such a danger through the unification of peshmerga forces to include Kirkuk into Kurdistan must continue.

But precautions taken only in the South will not be adequate. These are necessary; however, relationships with the other parts of Kurdistan must be strengthened. If this does not lead to national solidarity and if a national conference is not swiftly organized, decisions exclusively taken in South Kurdistan will not save the South. This must be recognised by the south Kurdistan forces. They need to abandon narrow political frameworks. Instead, they need to see the national democratic interests of the Kurdish nation as a whole and realize their responsibilities on these matters. Only then will the dangers threatening South Kurdistan and Kurds everywhere be lifted.


Turkey and its international allies:

Turkey has been a member of important international bodies such as NATO, The Council of Europe, and the OSCE. It is a candidate for EU membership. However, Turkey has entered in an anti-Kurd alliance with Iran and Syria, despite the differing and opposing nature of these regimes. It was against the intervention against Saddam and now it has a similar attitude regarding Iran and Syria. In Turkey’s opinion, there was a change in Iraq and the Kurds have gained some sort of status; if there are changes in Iran and Syria, the Kurds there will also gain similar rights. Turkey sees this as a threat against its security. That is why it opposes any changes in Iran and Syria and it does not hesitate to set up alliances with them in order to preserve the status quo.

The reason why Turkey is in this situation is the fact that it has not resolved its Kurdish question. If a solution to this question is found, Turkey will no longer make alliances with regressive regimes and it will take a stand against them. A Kurdish resolution in Turkey will lead to the establishment of a Turkish, Kurdish and Jewish alliance for democracy and change in the Middle East and with the participation of Arab, Persian and other peoples in the region who are seeking democracy and change, will create a new balance of forces in the region and consequently the concept of a New Middle East will gain a solid ground.

KKK’s unilateral cease-fire and Turkey:

Following the resistance of the Kurdish population against the attacks of the Turkish government, in particular in 2003, our Movement for Freedom has made significant progress as concerns the development of a democratic outlook in its organizations and the situation of the guerrilla forces. The movement has reached the point where it will be able to resist strongly the politics of denial and oppression of Turkey. In addition, the struggles for freedom against the regimes of Iran and Syria have grown stronger. These developments in the four parts of Kurdistan enable the Kurds to be in a strong position and to exert considerable influence on regional stability and international politics.

The relations between the Kurds and the Turks have become a major issue in the region and as a result of these developments, the solution of the Kurdish problem will have an enormous impact on the international situation. It is in this context that different forces made declarations and appeals for a ceasefire on several occasions. Among these are the recent written declaration of the US on 15th August, the Federal Republic of Iraq and the Regional Government of South Kurdistan. In Turkey several appeals have been made by different organizations, by the DTP (Democratic Society Party), intellectuals, writers, Mothers for Peace, religious leaders of Kurdistan and musicians. Some of these appeals have been made in the press, others by diplomatic means.

1. The declaration of the ceasefire started on 1st of October 2006. Depending on the steps that will be taken and the development of events, the period of the ceasefire will continue or not.

2. There will be no use of arms as long as our forces are not attacked, but in case of an attack aimed to annihilate our forces, they will defend themselves by all means necessary.

3. During the whole period there will be no military activity with the exception of the activities that fulfil our logistical needs and to safeguard our natural security.

4. The board of command of the HPG (People’s Defence Forces), the position of our forces, their movement and their programme will be reorganised according to the agreements of the ceasefire.

5. All the officials, organizations and institutions in the Movement for Democracy and Freedom in Kurdistan will at all level (ideological, political, and practical) contribute to the success of this ceasefire. In addition, all the tasks and programmes will be re-arranged in accordance with the decision of this declaration.

6. This decision concerns all the forces of the Koma Komalen Kurdistan. Noone will oppose this position; all will make their utmost efforts to contribute to the success of the ceasefire.

Reaction of Turkey to the unilateral cease-fire The hawkish Armed Forces Chief General Yasar Buyukanit has vowed to fight the PKK, which still enjoys considerable support in the Southeast, until the last guerrilla is killed.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is under pressure to crack down on the PKK to stem the rising nationalism ahead of elections this year. His AK Party, which has roots in political Islam, fears concessions on Kurdish rights or looking soft on the PKK will weaken the party at the ballot box next year.


The US-led intervention in Iraq has led the US to become directly embroiled in the Kurdish question.

In the present situation it is imperative for the US government the win the friendship of the Kurds in Turkey, Iran and Syria especially as these governments seek to maintain the present status quo of their anti-Kurdish alliance. It will be crucial for the US not again to make the Kurds victims of such an alliance.

In the past weeks important developments have taken place in particular regarding the politics in Turkey and Iran. The Turkish state continues to insist on military operations in South Kurdistan. It exerts huge diplomatic pressure on the US, PUK and KDP as the present status of South Kurdistan greatly worries Turkey. We firmly believe that the cause of the Kurdish problem does not lie in Qandil but in Ankara.

The first step in this strategy should be that the US government takes a more pro-active role in the quest for a peaceful solution to the conflict with the PKK. Although the previous Clinton administration labelled the PKK a “terrorist” organization and would generally refuse to negotiate or encourage negotiation with its leaders, it moved beyond this static policy in Israel, Northern Ireland, and South Africa. There, all parties realized it would be counter-productive to rule out dialogue with groups that had built a significant constituency and represented real grievances of substantial segments of the population.

As regards Turkey the US has not only diplomatic but also important economic influence. It is a positive sign that the US refuses to agree to support Turkish military operations in South Kurdistan. It will be imperative to continue to hold this position in future. But the resolution of the Kurdish question demands far more commitment. The US has the means to bring the parties of the conflict together and open the road for a dialogue. Such a commitment will not only be a step to benefit Turkey and the Kurds but the whole Middle East.

Turkey is making every effort to get the US to fight the PKK who found refuge in Kurdistan in Iraq. Turkey has been fighting the PKK since 1984 without apparent success and want the American government to rescue their failing endeavor and engage in a bloody fight with the PKK.

The US government should understand that without finding a solution to the Kurdish problem in Turkey, the solution they are planning to impose on Iraqi- Kurdistan will turn into a strategic mistake, a No Solution. Democratization of Turkey should be one of the principal objectives of the US foreign policy in the Middle East, as it will be one of the main factors for helping to find a solution to the Kurdish problem in the region.

It is for this reason that governments who have formed “the alliance of three in coordination against the PKK” should not label our movement “terrorist” and abandon all plans to eliminate it. It is obvious that the problem cannot be resolved by means of violence, as events in the past have already repeatedly shown on many occasions. The leading powers should rethink their policy and consider our project for a democratic solution; this would be the best way forward. The US and especially the Iraqi Government, that knows the Kurdish problem only too well, should play a constructive role during the period of the ceasefire that we have launched.


Al-Douri to increase resistance operations

"For sure when I say Shiites, I don’t mean the real honest Iraqi Shiites, but I mean those who loyal to Iran and installed by the US occupation forces, so i don’t want to repeat this every time.
- Almalaf reported that Izzat Al-Douri, gave an order to former Iraqi army officer to escalate their operations against the occupiers and the traitors.

He also sent a letter offering a “truce” with Washington and reduce the armed operations against the American forces if the Americans crackdown Shiite militia supported by Iran saying:
The resistance are ready to ease its attacks against American occupation forces in return for ending the logistical and financial support to the sectarian militias behind the violence and the displacement of thousands of Iraqis from their areas.
- The primitive “Green Zone” government’s PR machine came with this today:"
Roads to Iraq

A Fight and a Fark

"18 Jan 07

Yesterday I had so much in my blog, I had to save some news for today. It all started yesterday at the airport when all of our trucks were waiting to enter the flight line and head out to unload the plane. The 4th truck was parked on a slight incline, and instead of going forward, it rolled back and hit the fifth truck. The bumpers touched, and I don’t think there was even a scratch, but the driver of truck 5 (we’ll call him “5”) jumped out and started yelling at the driver of truck 4 (and of course we’ll call him “4”). 4 got out to look at the damage, and 5 got in his face and started yelling. We all saw a fight was brewing, and as we started to get out of our vehicles, 5 punched 4 right in the nose. I ran up to them and started yelling. Meanwhile, a second guy in truck four had slid over into the driver’s seat and started heading out, leaving his buddy behind. I yelled at 5 and pointed at his truck. He promptly threw his half-eaten orange at 4, and then got in his truck to follow the convoy. We ran to our vehicle with 4 and all jumped in. I jumped in too fast and smacked the side of my head against the door jam, giving myself a massive headache for the rest of the day. 4 had a nice bloody nose, and we got him cleaned up while heading out to the plane."
Afghanistan Without a Clue

Bush and Maliki are Getting a Divorce!

"It is clear that the marriage between the U.S. administration and the Iraqi government is on its way to end. The exchange of accusations and sharp criticism between the two former love-birds has accelerated to be the talk of the town in the last few weeks.

Between President Bush thinking the execution of Saddam Hussein last month was “fumbled” by militiamen barking in the name of their leader, Muqtada al-Sadr, and “go to hell” chanting, and Condoleezza Rice announcing that the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government is working on "borrowed time," Maliki was left to just defending his position by accusing the United States of helping to “give morale boosts for the terrorists.”

Forget about the average Iraqis, whose number is decreasing inside Iraq either because they are leaving the country or getting killed everyday, the two governments are having a typical Middle Eastern, dictator and totalitarian way of handling issues. Because to forget the real problem and only concentrate on saving face is just for such governments, not suitable for two administrations that claim to be pioneers in democracy each in its part of the world."
24 Steps to Liberty