Sunday, February 25, 2007

Report: 3 Gulf states agree to IAF overflights en route to Iran

Three Arab states in the Persian Gulf would be willing to allow the Israel Air force to enter their airspace in order to reach Iran in case of an attack on its nuclear facilities, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Siyasa reported on Sunday.

According to the report, a diplomat from one of the gulf states visiting Washington on Saturday said the three states, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, have told the United States that they would not object to Israel using their airspace, despite their fear of an Iranian response.

Al-Siyasa further reported that NATO leaders are urging Turkey to open its airspace for an Attack on Iran as well and to also open its airports and borders in case of a ground attack.

According to a British diplomat who spoke to an Al-Siyasa correspondent, Turkey will not repeat the mistake it made in 2003, when it refused to open its airspace to U.S. Air Force overflights en route to attacking Iraq.

British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday that Israel is negotiating with the U.S. over permission for an "air corridor" over Iraq, should an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities become necessary.

Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh on Saturday denied the reports and said Israel has no such plans.


"Why do they, hate us?"

Medical Apartheid
Democracy Now

Lucky for me I'm "Cuban" American.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Operation Baghdad: Week II

"It's been less than two weeks since the Baghdad operation was officially launched. This period, though short, has been full of events; both good and bad ones.
Here we are not in a rush to judge the operation unlike some media or politicians who seek anything they can use to serve their agendas. We, Baghdadis, only want this operation to succeed and we still have some patience to show.

These days I make sure that I have daily tour in Baghdad, covering both Karkh and Resafa (west and east) and these tours aren't exactly boring because there are always new things to see."

The end of the coalition in Iraq

"After the decision by the UK government to pull about one third of its troops from Basrah and the gradual withdrawal of the rest, the USA may well be left alone especially after the withdrawal of the rest of the coalition forces.

The US government itself is under pressure to do the same and withdraw from Iraq especially after the enormous losses in the number of helicopters downed in Baghdad recently.

We said before that the best way for the Iraq problem is to support the Iraqis to have strong and well trained and equipped army and security forces so as to fill any vacuum before existed when the MNF troops withdraw. Indeed the Iraqis should take over time before the MNF leaving. Other than that and with any vacuum left by the MNF Al-Qaeda or its supporters may take over and the consequences are very well known if this is allowed to happen."

What's happening?

"The vacation ended and studying started again.. I got my marks, all really good; the lowest is 13/15 in Digital Techniques (Which I love but always make stupid mistakes at) and the others range from 14 and 15/15, the only full mark is in Physics. In average, they're the highest marks.

At our class, the best 5 students are 3 girls and 2 boys. Only 3 of us didn't fail in any subject....

...These are two blogs I'd want you to pay a visit to:
Introducing Islam: This blog is not to stop islamophobia, or to correct misunderstandings. This blog is to enlighten those who did not buy that nonsense. I write to those who seek the truth (about Islam). If I say right, then it is God's words. If I say wrong, then it is myself.

Iraqi Hopes: An Iraqi PhD student working on a project and needing help from Americans."
A Star From Mosul

U.S. Detention of Key Shiite Raises Ire

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - U.S. troops detained the eldest son of Iraq's most influential Shiite politician for nearly 12 hours Friday as he crossed back from Iran - the same route Washington believes is used to keep powerful Shiite militias flush with weapons and aid.

Even though the U.S. ambassador issued a rapid apology, the decision to hold Amar al-Hakim risks touching off a backlash from Shiite leaders at a time when their cooperation is needed most to keep a major security sweep through Baghdad from unraveling.

It also highlights the often knotty relationship between U.S. military authorities and Iraq's elected leaders, whose ties to neighboring patrons - Syria backing Sunnis, and Iran acting as big brother to majority Shiites - add fuel to sectarian rivalries and bring recriminations from Washington about alleged arms smuggling and outside interference.

Shiite reaction to the detention was quick and sharp, with some officials suggesting it was a veiled warning about the limits of ties to Iran.

"What happened is unacceptable," Shiite lawmaker Hamid Majid Moussa told Al-Forat television. "The Iraqi government and the American forces must put an end to such transgressions," Shiite lawmaker Hamid Majid Moussa told Al-Forat television.

The station is just one part of the multilayered clout of the al-Hakim family.

Al-Hakim's father, Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, met with President Bush at the White House in December. He is the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI, the country's largest political force.

The bloc carries the strongest voice in the 275-seat parliament and holds critical sway over the fate of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. It also maintains very close ties to Iran, which hosted the elder al-Hakim and other SCIRI officials before the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

In December, American forces seized two Iranian security agents at the elder al-Hakim's compound in Baghdad. Six other Iranians were arrested Jan. 11 at an Iranian liaison office in northern Iraq. The U.S. military said they were members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard. Tehran denies the charges.

Washington has repeatedly accused Iran of funneling weapons to militants, including lethal roadside bombs that have targeted U.S. troops.

But the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, tried to defuse any showdowns with Shiites that could upset a 10-day-old offensive seeking to reclaim Baghdad's streets from militants and sectarian deaths squads. Shiite militias appeared to clear the way for the effort by rolling back fighters and checkpoints.

"I am sorry about the arrest," Khalilzad said. "We don't know the circumstances of the arrest and we are investigating and we don't mean any disrespect to Al-Sayed Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim or his family."

Khalilzad promised: "We will find out what has happened."

A U.S. Embassy spokesman in Baghdad, Lou Fintor, said al-Hakim "was not singled out" and "soldiers were following standard procedure" since the border crossing was closed at the time. But he did not offer details on how al-Hakim's entourage entered Iraqi territory if the crossing point was sealed.

The younger al-Hakim, 35, was taken into custody at the Zirbatyah crossing point southeast of Baghdad along with his security guards, said his father's secretary, Jamal al-Sagheer. Al-Hakim was freed about 12 hours later, but his bodyguards remained in custody, al-Sagheer said.

The New York Times quoted advisers to al-Hakim as saying American forces had beaten several of the guards after stopping the convoy. The Times also quoted an unidentified U.S. military official as saying al-Hakim was detained because he had an expired passport and was traveling with people who had a large number of guns.

But in an interview after his release at the provincial governor's office in Kut, al-Hakim displayed a passport with an expiration date of Sept. 17, 2007, the Times reported on its Web site Friday.

"They arrested me and my guards in an unsuitable way, and they bound my hands and blindfolded me," the Times quoted Amar al-Hakim as saying. "They took our phones, bags, money, documents and the guards weapons, and sent us to an American base."

"They claim the reason for the arrest was because my passport had expired," he said, "but as you can see my passport expires on the 17th of September."

U.S. officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the report, because of the late hour in Baghdad.

Amar al-Hakim heads a charity dedicated to the memory of his uncle, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, who was killed along with scores of others in a car bombing in Najaf in August 2003. His father took over SCIRI after the killings, and Amar is apparently being groomed to take his place someday.

Although the reason for the detention was not immediately clear, suspicion fell on Washington's accusations about suspected Iranian weapons or money pipelines to major Shiite groups, including SCIRI and sometimes-rival the Mahdi Army militia of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Both Washington and Iraqi leaders have vowed that no one would be exempt as the major security operation is under way in Baghdad.

"Washington doesn't want to start a war with Iran, but instead is trying to set some boundaries," said Andrew Exum, a regional affairs analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "This (al-Hakim) situation may not be true saber rattling, but a kind of saber rattling to try to contain Iranian influence."

In the southern city of Basra, about 300 SCIRI supporters protested the detention. "No, no to America," they chanted. "No, no to Satan."

A Shiite lawmaker, Hameed Moalah, said he wasn't sure what message Washington was trying to send. "But it is certainly a negative one," he added.

In another part of Iraq, an emissary for the U.S. commander in Iraq also delivered a sobering assessment of what it would take to defeat insurgents.

Retired Army Gen. Jack Keane, a top Pentagon envoy touring areas northeast of Baghdad, said the security clampdown in the capital has pushed militants out of the capital. But he conceded there weren't "enough forces to secure the population" and said Iraqis are not ready to handle the battle alone.

He was the latest official to outline the Pentagon's new approach: Instead of training Iraqi forces to take over national security on a fast-track timetable, U.S. forces plan to throw more troops at the resourceful and adaptable insurgents.

"The violence is too high," said Keane, who was sent on a fact-finding mission by Gen. David Petraeus, the new commander of U.S. forces in Iraq. "So our new strategy is to bring the violence down so Iraqi forces can deal with it."

Underscoring the increase in violence, an Associated Press tally for February showed that at least 1,897 Iraqi civilians had been wounded as of Friday, the highest number of wounded civilians in a month since the AP began keeping track in May 2005. The actual number of casualties is believed to be far higher as many go unreported and the dangerous conditions in Iraq make it difficult to collect information.

The spike could be due to a rash of major truck bombings in Baghdad and the southern city of Hillah shortly before the start of the Baghdad security operation, as well as an increase in U.S. military operations to restore order in the capital.

The U.S. military, meanwhile, said three U.S. soldiers were killed Thursday in combat in volatile Anbar province, but did not give specific locations or circumstances for the deaths.

In Basra, police said they arrested a suspected Sunni insurgent with links to al-Qaida. Issa Abdul-Razzaq Ahmed, 22, was on the Iraqi Interior Ministry's most-wanted list, accused of financing and recruiting fighters, said provincial police commander Gen. Mohammed al-Moussawi.


I've Waited a Longtime to Say This

"Through no fault of his own, one of my readers, brian posted this comment:

this is actually the second time i have read about arnold duplantier's death. Michael Yon wrote about it in this article: his and your entries are moving and go straight to the heart. take care and good luck

Here I stand to set the record straight.

Michael Yon is full of shit."
This is Your War II

Thursday, February 22, 2007

AP IMPACT: Iraq's 'Three-Block War'

BUHRIZ, Iraq (AP) - In a muddy, half-collapsed police station northeast of Baghdad, in the heart of insurgent territory, 30 American and 60 Iraqi troopers hunker down amid constant mortar fire and study how to undermine an enemy who is literally next door. Such ramshackle compounds are likely signs of the future in Iraq.

Militants, once dismissed as "dead-enders" on their "last legs," continue to confound American tacticians, and U.S. war planners are shifting strategy. Instead of storming an area to drive away militants and then withdrawing to the relative safety of big bases, select forces are being stationed among the insurgents themselves in the heart of communities around Iraq, where soldiers are warned to be "ready each day to be greeted with a handshake or a hand grenade."

The idea is to fight the "three-block war" - in the words of the Pentagon's first new counterinsurgency manual in 20 years, a 242-page document written in part by the new commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus.

The hope is that increased contact with ordinary Iraqis will pay off with goodwill and sharper tips on militant activity and let Iraqi soldiers learn how to rule the streets on their own. But there are obvious risks.

On Monday, a suicide bomber and gunmen laid siege to a similar post north of Baghdad, killing two U.S. soldiers and wounding 17.

"Our battle space is villages and towns, and you have to engage the people as much as you engage the enemy," said Col. David W. Sutherland, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division's 3rd Brigade and the top U.S. officer in this province.

On a recent patrol, American soldiers shadowed Iraqis going house-to-house handing out school supplies. Suddenly, all were forced to dive into a dusty roadside crevice when Buhriz reverberated with gunfire - first from what was believed to be a rooftop sniper, then from the deafening pop of a 25 mm machine gun mounted on a Bradley fighting vehicle. Shell casings whizzed across an intersection, and the Americans quickly evacuated.

"Buhriz embodies the new counterinsurgency plan, which tells us: 'Clear, hold, build,'" said Sutherland, 45, from Toledo, Ohio. But he notes it often is just a matter of keeping a foothold.

When soldiers first arrived in Buhriz, about 35 miles north of Baghdad, they found fliers taped to lampposts with an ominous warning to residents: "If American forces come, go into your houses or we'll kill you, too."

Still, the unit launched a daring raid to reclaim the Buhriz police station, which had been abandoned by Iraqi forces and overtaken by insurgents months earlier. The operation required help from Apache choppers and more than 13,000 rounds of ammunition, and left a two-story section of the station flattened.

Hauling in food, cots, surveillance equipment and ammunition, soldiers set about making this crumbling cement structure their home. Crates of Gatorade and Pepsi are stacked in sooty corners. A medic plays solitaire on a laptop.

An adjacent barracks was refurbished, and, weeks later, skittish Iraqi soldiers were persuaded to move in.

The Buhriz police station is one of several joint U.S.-Iraqi patrol bases in the suburbs of Baqouba, a mostly Sunni town that extremists claim as the capital of an Islamic state. Fierce fighting rages as U.S. troops engage insurgents believed to be streaming out of Baghdad during a security crackdown.

Capt. Peter Chapman, from Stone Mountain, Ga., is a 30-year-old company commander with the Army's 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division. He was one of hundreds of military officers who attended a five-day seminar on the new counterinsurgency manual last October.

"It gives us more purpose and helps us understand how smaller things lead to bigger things," he said. "Like how it's better to talk to people than shoot at them, and how it's better to have the Iraqi army up front working with us.

"But sometimes we find ourselves talking less and less and shooting more."

Recently, soldiers hauled huge bags of brightly colored sneakers and stuffed animals to pass out to children as they cleared houses along narrow passageways.

But nearly every house was mysteriously empty. A space heater still glowed red in one living room, suggesting its inhabitants had left moments earlier.

In another house, medical supplies - saline bottles, IV bags, syringes - were scattered about. U.S. soldiers believed it was a makeshift aid station for insurgents.

That day, the bags of toys came home with the soldiers.

Chapman's battalion commander, Lt. Col. Morris Goins, 41, of Southern Pines, N.C., expects it will be awhile before locals accept their new neighbors.

"Killing someone is simple. It's easy. But getting people to come to the table - building a country - that takes time," said Goins, on his third tour in Iraq.

Life is much easier on a large American military base nearby, but Goins said about half his 1,000 soldiers are off-base at any given time, embedded in Iraqi villages at posts like this one - an arrangement he concedes is "not at all conventional."

"I'm working with the provincial council, I'm meetings with sheiks, I'm trying to train the Iraqi police and Iraqi army, and, oh, yeah, I also have to engage in a firefight once in a while," he said with a smile. "It's difficult, but it's our best shot right now."


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Iraqi Insurgents Use 2nd 'Dirty' Bomb

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Insurgents exploded a truck carrying chlorine gas canisters Wednesday - the second such "dirty" chemical attack in two days - while a U.S. official said ground fire apparently forced the downing of a Black Hawk helicopter. All nine aboard the aircraft were rescued.

The attacks offer a sweeping narrative on evolving tactics by Sunni insurgents who have proved remarkably adaptable.

Military officials worry extremists may have recently gained more access to firepower such as shoulder-fired anti-aircraft rockets and heavy machine guns - and more expertise to use them. The Black Hawk would be at least the eighth U.S. helicopter to crash or be taken down by hostile fire in the past month.

The gas cloud in Baghdad, meanwhile, suggests possible new and coordinated strategies by bombers trying to unleash toxic - and potentially deadly - materials. "Terrorists are using dirty means," said Brig. Gen. Qassim Moussawi, an Iraqi military spokesman.

Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman, said initial reports indicated the chopper was brought down by "small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades" north of Baghdad, but gave no further details. All nine aboard were taken away on a rescue helicopter, he said.

In Baghdad, a pickup truck carrying chlorine gas cylinders was blown apart, killing at least five people and sending more than 55 to hospitals gasping for breath and rubbing stinging eyes, police said.

On Tuesday, a bomb planted on a chlorine tanker left more than 150 villagers stricken north of the capital. More than 60 were still under medical care on Wednesday. Chlorine causes respiratory trouble and skin irritation in low levels and possible death with heavy exposure.

In Washington, two Pentagon officials said the tactic has been used at least three times since Jan. 28, when a truck carrying explosives and a chlorine tank blew up in Anbar province. More than a dozen people were reported killed.

A third Pentagon official said the United States has been concerned about Iraqi militants' ability to get weapons like chlorine bombs and use them effectively. But the official cautioned that chlorine bombs are just one threat on a long list of possible attacks that Iraqi fighters may try to carry out.

It was unclear whether the confluence of new insurgent tactics - attacking isolated combat posts, targeting helicopters more intensely and using chlorine bombs - was coincidental or in response to the U.S. troop increase.

W. Patrick Lang, a former official at the Defense Intelligence Agency, said the insurgents are always "seeking to achieve higher levels of effectiveness" and these new tactics are part of the normal "evolution of sophistication."

Lang said trucks filled with chlorine gas are "really quite deadly" because the gas is potent and spreads easily.

Some authorities believe militants could be trying to maximize the panic from their attacks by adding chlorine or other noxious substances.

"It is an indication of maliciousness, a desire to injure and kill innocent people in the vicinity," said Garver, who also predicted militants may begin to launch similar attacks because of the widespread mayhem caused by this week's chlorine clouds.

"If there is a particular success, we'll see copycats. ... They certainly pay attention to what they think is successful," he said.

In Najaf, meanwhile, a suicide car bomber killed at least 13 at a police checkpoint. The attack fit a pattern that's believed to drive much of Iraq's recent violence: Sunni militants seeking to provoke majority Shiites into a full-blown sectarian conflict that would leave Washington's plans in ruins.

It was the first major bombing in more than six months in Najaf, an important Shiite pilgrimage site 100 miles south of Baghdad and also the headquarters of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, head of the Mahdi Army militia.

The Najaf blast hit while streets were filled with morning shoppers. At least seven of the victims were police and the rest civilians near a checkpoint - part of the city's security cordon that includes Mahdi Army militiamen, who battled U.S. forces in the area in 2004.

More than 40 people were wounded in the blast, which sent body parts and blood over a wide boulevard. Crews stuffed limbs and bits of flesh into cardboard boxes.

In Baghdad, another Mahdi Army center was hit. A car bombing in the teeming Sadr City district killed at least three.

More than 10 people died in blasts across Baghdad - adding to the more than 100 victims of bombings in attacks in and around the capital since Sunday. The toll cast a long shadow over authorities marking the first week of the U.S.-Iraqi security sweeps.

Moussawi, the Iraqi military spokesman, said the campaign to reclaim control of the city "has achieved very important goals despite the expected criminal reactions."

"God willing, the plan will continue to uproot terrorists and outlaws across Baghdad and other areas," he told a news conference. He added that 42 "terrorists" have been killed in the sweeps and more than 250 suspected militants arrested, but gave further details.

An American military spokesman, Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, told a news conference that U.S. and Iraqi forces were focusing on "belts" of extremist activity in Baghdad and suggested talks are ongoing over when and how to move into Sadr City.

It is believed that al-Sadr has ordered his forces not to challenge the security operation up to this point.

"Anytime you can find a political solution instead of a military one it is better," Caldwell said.

Meanwhile, the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq may soon be shrinking.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said about 1,600 troops will leave Iraq in the coming months if Iraqi forces can secure the southern part of the country. Currently, Britain has about 7,100 soldiers in Iraq. Denmark also announced it would withdraw its 460-member contingent from southern Iraq by August, and Lithuania is "seriously considering" bring home its 53 troops.

The British decision, however, is not likely to seriously shift the power balance in Iraq. The British are stations in the mostly Shiite south and are not directly involved in the sectarian struggles in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq.

A U.S. Marine was killed in fighting in the volatile Anbar province and a soldier was killed by gunfire in a neighborhood of Baghdad, the military said Wednesday.

The Marine was killed Tuesday during combat operations in the insurgent stronghold. The soldier was hit by small arms fire in a northern district of Baghdad on Tuesday, a statement said without giving further details.

At least 3,149 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.


Don't worry, it's probably just practice for their attacks here in the US, where there are plenty of chlorine tankers running around.

The Hotel Aftermath

Inside Mologne House, the Survivors of War Wrestle With Military Bureaucracy and Personal Demons

By Anne Hull and Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, February 19, 2007; A01

The guests of Mologne House have been blown up, shot, crushed and shaken, and now their convalescence takes place among the chandeliers and wingback chairs of the 200-room hotel on the grounds of Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Oil paintings hang in the lobby of this strange outpost in the war on terrorism, where combat's urgency has been replaced by a trickling fountain in the garden courtyard. The maimed and the newly legless sit in wheelchairs next to a pond, watching goldfish turn lazily through the water.

But the wounded of Mologne House are still soldiers -- Hooah! -- so their lives are ruled by platoon sergeants. Each morning they must rise at dawn for formation, though many are half-snowed on pain meds and sleeping pills.

In Room 323 the alarm goes off at 5 a.m., but Cpl. Dell McLeod slumbers on. His wife, Annette, gets up and fixes him a bowl of instant oatmeal before going over to the massive figure curled in the bed. An Army counselor taught her that a soldier back from war can wake up swinging, so she approaches from behind.

"Dell," Annette says, tapping her husband. "Dell, get in the shower."

"Dell!" she shouts.

Finally, the yawning hulk sits up in bed. "Okay, baby," he says. An American flag T-shirt is stretched over his chest. He reaches for his dog tags, still the devoted soldier of 19 years, though his life as a warrior has become a paradox. One day he's led on stage at a Toby Keith concert with dozens of other wounded Operation Iraqi Freedom troops from Mologne House, and the next he's sitting in a cluttered cubbyhole at Walter Reed, fighting the Army for every penny of his disability.

McLeod, 41, has lived at Mologne House for a year while the Army figures out what to do with him. He worked in textile and steel mills in rural South Carolina before deploying. Now he takes 23 pills a day, prescribed by various doctors at Walter Reed. Crowds frighten him. He is too anxious to drive. When panic strikes, a soldier friend named Oscar takes him to Baskin-Robbins for vanilla ice cream.

"They find ways to soothe each other," Annette says.

Mostly what the soldiers do together is wait: for appointments, evaluations, signatures and lost paperwork to be found. It's like another wife told Annette McLeod: "If Iraq don't kill you, Walter Reed will."

After Iraq, a New Struggle

The conflict in Iraq has hatched a virtual town of desperation and dysfunction, clinging to the pilings of Walter Reed. The wounded are socked away for months and years in random buildings and barracks in and around this military post.

The luckiest stay at Mologne House, a four-story hotel on a grassy slope behind the hospital. Mologne House opened 10 years ago as a short-term lodging facility for military personnel, retirees and their family members. Then came Sept. 11 and five years of sustained warfare. Now, the silver walkers of retired generals convalescing from hip surgery have been replaced by prosthetics propped against Xbox games and Jessica Simpson posters smiling down on brain-rattled grunts.

Two Washington Post reporters spent hundreds of hours in Mologne House documenting the intimate struggles of the wounded who live there. The reporting was done without the knowledge or permission of Walter Reed officials, but all those directly quoted in this article agreed to be interviewed.

The hotel is built in the Georgian revival style, and inside it offers the usual amenities: daily maid service, front-desk clerks in formal vests and a bar off the lobby that opens every afternoon.

But at this bar, the soldier who orders a vodka tonic one night says to the bartender, "If I had two hands, I'd order two." The customers sitting around the tables are missing limbs, their ears are melted off, and their faces are tattooed purple by shrapnel patterns.

Most everyone has a story about the day they blew up: the sucking silence before immolation, how the mouth filled with tar, the lungs with gas.

"First thing I said was, '[Expletive], that was my good eye,' " a soldier with an eye patch tells an amputee in the bar.

The amputee peels his beer label. "I was awake through the whole thing," he says. "It was my first patrol. The second [expletive] day in Iraq and I get blown up."

When a smooth-cheeked soldier with no legs orders a fried chicken dinner and two bottles of grape soda to go, a kitchen worker comes out to his wheelchair and gently places the Styrofoam container on his lap.

A scrawny young soldier sits alone in his wheelchair at a nearby table, his eyes closed and his chin dropped to his chest, an empty Corona bottle in front of him.

Those who aren't old enough to buy a drink at the bar huddle outside near a magnolia tree and smoke cigarettes. Wearing hoodies and furry bedroom slippers, they look like kids at summer camp who've crept out of their rooms, except some have empty pants legs or limbs pinned by medieval-looking hardware. Medication is a favorite topic.

"Dude, [expletive] Paxil saved my life."

"I been on methadone for a year, I'm tryin' to get off it."

"I didn't take my Seroquel last night and I had nightmares of charred bodies, burned crispy like campfire marshmallows."

Mologne House is afloat on a river of painkillers and antipsychotic drugs. One night, a strapping young infantryman loses it with a woman who is high on her son's painkillers. "Quit taking all the soldier medicine!" he screams.

Pill bottles clutter the nightstands: pills for depression or insomnia, to stop nightmares and pain, to calm the nerves.

Here at Hotel Aftermath, a crash of dishes in the cafeteria can induce seizures in the combat-addled. If a taxi arrives and the driver looks Middle Eastern, soldiers refuse to get in. Even among the gazebos and tranquility of the Walter Reed campus in upper Northwest Washington, manhole covers are sidestepped for fear of bombs and rooftops are scanned for snipers.

Bomb blasts are the most common cause of injury in Iraq, and nearly 60 percent of the blast victims also suffer from traumatic brain injury, according to Walter Reed's studies, which explains why some at Mologne House wander the hallways trying to remember their room numbers.

Some soldiers and Marines have been here for 18 months or longer. Doctor's appointments and evaluations are routinely dragged out and difficult to get. A board of physicians must review hundreds of pages of medical records to determine whether a soldier is fit to return to duty. If not, the Physical Evaluation Board must decide whether to assign a rating for disability compensation. For many, this is the start of a new and bitter battle.

Months roll by and life becomes a blue-and-gold hotel room where the bathroom mirror shows the naked disfigurement of war's ravages. There are toys in the lobby of Mologne House because children live here. Domestic disputes occur because wives or girlfriends have moved here. Financial tensions are palpable. After her husband's traumatic injury insurance policy came in, one wife cleared out with the money. Older National Guard members worry about the jobs they can no longer perform back home.

While Mologne House has a full bar, there is not one counselor or psychologist assigned there to assist soldiers and families in crisis -- an idea proposed by Walter Reed social workers but rejected by the military command that runs the post.

After a while, the bizarre becomes routine. On Friday nights, antiwar protesters stand outside the gates of Walter Reed holding signs that say "Love Troops, Hate War, Bring them Home Now." Inside the gates, doctors in white coats wait at the hospital entrance for the incoming bus full of newly wounded soldiers who've just landed at Andrews Air Force Base.

And set back from the gate, up on a hill, Mologne House, with a bowl of red apples on the front desk.

Into the Twilight Zone

Dell McLeod's injury was utterly banal. He was in his 10th month of deployment with the 178th Field Artillery Regiment of the South Carolina National Guard near the Iraqi border when he was smashed in the head by a steel cargo door of an 18-wheeler. The hinges of the door had been tied together with a plastic hamburger-bun bag. Dell was knocked out cold and cracked several vertebrae.

When Annette learned that he was being shipped to Walter Reed, she took a leave from her job on the assembly line at Stanley Tools and packed the car. The Army would pay her $64 a day to help care for her husband and would let her live with him at Mologne House until he recovered.

A year later, they are still camped out in the twilight zone. Dogs are periodically brought in by the Army to search the rooms for contraband or weapons. When the fire alarm goes off, the amputees who live on the upper floors are scooped up and carried down the stairwell, while a brigade of mothers passes down the wheelchairs. One morning Annette opens her door and is told to stay in the room because a soldier down the hall has overdosed.

In between, there are picnics at the home of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a charity-funded dinner cruise on the Potomac for "Today's troops, tomorrow's veterans, always heroes."

Dell and Annette's weekdays are spent making the rounds of medical appointments, physical therapy sessions and evaluations for Dell's discharge from the Army. After 19 years, he is no longer fit for service. He uses a cane to walk. He is unable to count out change in the hospital cafeteria. He takes four Percocets a day for pain and has gained 40 pounds from medication and inactivity. Lumbering and blue-eyed, Dell is a big ox baby.

Annette puts on makeup every morning and does her hair, some semblance of normalcy, but her new job in life is watching Dell.

"I'm worried about how he's gonna fit into society," she says one night, as Dell wanders down the hall to the laundry room.

The more immediate worry concerns his disability rating. Army doctors are disputing that Dell's head injury was the cause of his mental impairment. One report says that he was slow in high school and that his cognitive problems could be linked to his native intelligence rather than to his injury.

"They said, 'Well, he was in Title I math,' like he was retarded," Annette says. "Well, y'all took him, didn't you?"

The same fight is being waged by their friends, who aren't the young warriors in Army posters but middle-age men who left factory jobs to deploy to Iraq with their Guard units. They were fit enough for war, but now they are facing teams of Army doctors scrutinizing their injuries for signs of preexisting conditions, lessening their chance for disability benefits.

Dell and Annette's closest friend at Mologne House is a 47-year-old Guard member who was driving an Army vehicle through the Iraqi night when a flash of light blinded him and he crashed into a ditch with an eight-foot drop. Among his many injuries was a broken foot that didn't heal properly. Army doctors decided that "late life atrophy" was responsible for the foot, not the truck wreck in Iraq.

When Dell sees his medical records, he explodes. "Special ed is for the mentally retarded, and I'm not mentally retarded, right, babe?" he asks Annette. "I graduated from high school. I did some college. I worked in a steel mill."

It's after 9 one night and Dell and Annette are both exhausted, but Dell still needs to practice using voice-recognition software. Reluctantly, he mutes "The Ultimate Fighting Challenge" on TV and sits next to Annette in bed with a laptop.

"My name is Wendell," he says. "Wendell Woodward McLeod Jr."

Annette tells him to sit up. "Spell 'dog,' " she says, softly.

"Spell 'dog,' " he repeats.

"Listen to me," she says.

"Listen to me." He slumps on the pillow. His eyes drift toward the wrestlers on TV.

"You are not working hard enough, Dell," Annette says, pleading. "Wake up."

"Wake up," he says.

"Dell, come on now!"

For Some, a Grim Kind of Fame

No one questions Sgt. Bryan Anderson's sacrifice. One floor above Dell and Annette's room at Mologne House, he holds the gruesome honor of being one of the war's five triple amputees. Bryan, 25, lost both legs and his left arm when a roadside bomb exploded next to the Humvee he was driving with the 411th Military Police Company. Modern medicine saved him and now he's the pride of the prosthetics team at Walter Reed. Tenacious and wisecracking, he wrote "[Expletive] Iraq" on his left leg socket.

Amputees are the first to receive celebrity visitors, job offers and extravagant trips, but Bryan is in a league of his own. Johnny Depp's people want to hook up in London or Paris. The actor Gary Sinise, who played an angry Vietnam amputee in "Forrest Gump," sends his regards. And Esquire magazine is setting up a photo shoot.

Bryan's room at Mologne House is stuffed with gifts from corporate America and private citizens: $350 Bose noise-canceling headphones, nearly a thousand DVDs sent by well-wishers and quilts made by church grannies. The door prizes of war. Two flesh-colored legs are stacked on the floor. A computerized hand sprouting blond hair is on the table.

One Saturday afternoon, Bryan is on his bed downloading music. Without his prosthetics, he weighs less than 100 pounds. "Mom, what time is our plane?" he asks his mother, Janet Waswo, who lives in the room with him. A movie company is flying them to Boston for the premiere of a documentary about amputee hand-cyclers in which Bryan appears.

Representing the indomitable spirit of the American warrior sometimes becomes too much, and Bryan turns off his phone.

Perks and stardom do not come to every amputee. Sgt. David Thomas, a gunner with the Tennessee National Guard, spent his first three months at Walter Reed with no decent clothes; medics in Samarra had cut off his uniform. Heavily drugged, missing one leg and suffering from traumatic brain injury, David, 42, was finally told by a physical therapist to go to the Red Cross office, where he was given a T-shirt and sweat pants. He was awarded a Purple Heart but had no underwear.

David tangled with Walter Reed's image machine when he wanted to attend a ceremony for a fellow amputee, a Mexican national who was being granted U.S. citizenship by President Bush. A case worker quizzed him about what he would wear. It was summer, so David said shorts. The case manager said the media would be there and shorts were not advisable because the amputees would be seated in the front row.

" 'Are you telling me that I can't go to the ceremony 'cause I'm an amputee?' " David recalled asking. "She said, 'No, I'm saying you need to wear pants.' "

David told the case worker, "I'm not ashamed of what I did, and y'all shouldn't be neither." When the guest list came out for the ceremony, his name was not on it.

Still, for all its careful choreography of the amputees, Walter Reed offers protection from a staring world. On warm nights at the picnic tables behind Mologne House, someone fires up the barbecue grill and someone else makes a beer run to Georgia Avenue.

Bryan Anderson is out here one Friday. "Hey, Bry, what time should we leave in the morning?" asks his best friend, a female soldier also injured in Iraq. The next day is Veterans Day, and Bryan wants to go to Arlington National Cemetery. His pal Gary Sinise will be there, and Bryan wants to give him a signed photo.

Thousands of spectators are already at Arlington the next morning when Bryan and his friend join the surge toward the ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns. The sunshine dazzles. Bryan is in his wheelchair. If loss and sacrifice are theoretical to some on this day, here is living proof -- three stumps and a crooked boyish smile. Even the acres of tombstones can't compete. Spectators cut their eyes toward him and look away.

Suddenly, the thunder of cannons shakes the sky. The last time Bryan heard this sound, his legs were severed and he was nearly bleeding to death in a fiery Humvee.

Boom. Boom. Boom. Bryan pushes his wheelchair harder, trying to get away from the noise. "Damn it," he says, "when are they gonna stop?"

Bryan's friend walks off by herself and holds her head. The cannon thunder has unglued her, too, and she is crying.

Friends From Ward 54

An old friend comes to visit Dell and Annette. Sgt. Oscar Fernandez spent 14 months at Walter Reed after having a heart attack in Afghanistan. Oscar also had post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, a condition that worsened at Walter Reed and landed the 45-year-old soldier in the hospital's psychiatric unit, Ward 54.

Oscar belonged to a tight-knit group of soldiers who were dealing with combat stress and other psychological issues. They would hang out in each other's rooms at night, venting their fury at the Army's Cuckoo's Nest. On weekends they escaped Walter Reed to a Chinese buffet or went shopping for bootleg Spanish DVDs in nearby Takoma Park. They once made a road trip to a casino near the New Jersey border.

They abided each other's frailties. Sgt. Steve Justi would get the slightest cut on his skin and drop to his knees, his face full of anguish, apologizing over and over. For what, Oscar did not know. Steve was the college boy who went to Iraq, and Oscar figured something terrible had happened over there.

Sgt. Mike Smith was the insomniac. He'd stay up till 2 or 3 in the morning, smoking on the back porch by himself. Doctors had put steel rods in his neck after a truck accident in Iraq. To turn his head, the 41-year-old Guard member from Iowa had to rotate his entire body. He was fighting with the Army over his disability rating, too, and in frustration had recently called a congressional investigator for help.

"They try in all their power to have you get well, but it reverses itself," Oscar liked to say.

Dell was not a psych patient, but he and Oscar bonded. They were an unlikely pair -- the dark-haired Cuban American with a penchant for polo shirts and salsa, and the molasses earnestness of Dell.

Oscar would say things like "I'm trying to better myself through my own recognizance," and Dell would nod in appreciation.

To celebrate Oscar's return visit to Walter Reed, they decide to have dinner in Silver Spring.

Annette tells Oscar that a soldier was arrested at Walter Reed for waving a gun around.

"A soldier, coming from war?" Oscar asks.

Annette doesn't know. She mentions that another soldier was kicked out of Mologne House for selling his painkillers.

The talk turns to their friend Steve Justi. A few days earlier, Steve was discharged from the Army and given a zero percent disability rating for his mental condition.

Oscar is visibly angry. "They gave him nothing," he says. "They said his bipolar was preexisting."

Annette is quiet. "Poor Steve," she says.

After dinner, they return through the gates of Walter Reed in Annette's car, a John 3:16 decal on the bumper and the Dixie Chicks in the CD player. Annette sees a flier in the lobby of Mologne House announcing a free trip to see Toby Keith in concert.

A week later, it is a wonderful night at the Nissan Pavilion. About 70 wounded soldiers from Walter Reed attend the show. Toby invites them up on stage and brings the house down when he sings his monster wartime hit "American Soldier." Dell stands on stage in his uniform while Annette snaps pictures.

"Give a hand clap for the soldiers," Annette hears Toby tell the audience, "then give a hand for the U.S.A."

A Soldier Snaps

Deep into deer-hunting country and fields of withered corn, past the Pennsylvania Turnpike in the rural town of Ellwood City, Steve Justi sits in his parents' living room, fighting off the afternoon's lethargy.

A photo on a shelf shows a chiseled soldier, but the one in the chair is 35 pounds heavier. Antipsychotic drugs give him tremors and cloud his mind. Still, he is deliberate and thoughtful as he explains his path from soldier to psychiatric patient in the war on terrorism.

After receiving a history degree from Mercyhurst College, Steve was motivated by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to join the National Guard. He landed in Iraq in 2003 with the First Battalion, 107th Field Artillery, helping the Marines in Fallujah.

"It was just the normal stuff," Steve says, describing the violence he witnessed in Iraq. His voice is oddly flat as he recalls the day his friend died in a Humvee accident. The friend was driving with another soldier when they flipped off the road into a swamp. They were trapped upside down and submerged. Steve helped pull them out and gave CPR, but it was too late. The swamp water kept pushing back into his own mouth. He rode in the helicopter with the wet bodies.

After he finished his tour, everything was fine back home in Pennsylvania for about 10 months, and then a strange bout of insomnia started. After four days without sleep, he burst into full-out mania and was hospitalized in restraints.

Did anything trigger the insomnia? "Not really," Steve says calmly, sitting in his chair.

His mother overhears this from the kitchen and comes into the living room. "His sergeant had called saying that the unit was looking for volunteers to go back to Iraq," Cindy Justi says. "This is what triggered his snap."

Steve woke up in the psychiatric unit at Walter Reed and spent the next six months going back and forth between there and a room at Mologne House. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He denied to doctors that he was suffering from PTSD, yet he called home once from Ward 54 and shouted into the phone, "Mom, can't you hear all the shooting in the background?"

He was on the ward for the sixth time when he was notified that he was being discharged from the Army, with only a few days to clear out and a disability rating of zero percent.

On some level, Steve expected the zero rating. During his senior year of college, he suffered a nervous breakdown and for several months was treated with antidepressants. He disclosed this to the National Guard recruiter, who said it was a nonissue. It became an issue when he told doctors at Walter Reed. The Army decided that his condition was not aggravated by his time in Iraq. The only help he would get would come from Veterans Affairs.

"We have no idea if what he endured over there had a worsening effect on him," says his mother.

His father gets home from the office. Ron Justi sits on the couch across from his son. "He was okay to sacrifice his body, but now that it's time he needs some help, they are not here," Ron says.

Outside the Gates

The Army gives Dell McLeod a discharge date. His days at Mologne House are numbered. The cramped hotel room has become home, and now he is afraid to leave it. His anxiety worsens. "Shut up!" he screams at Annette one night, his face red with rage, when she tells him to stop fiddling with his wedding ring.

Later, Annette says: "I am exhausted. He doesn't understand that I've been fighting the Army."

Doctors have concluded that Dell was slow as a child and that his head injury on the Iraqi border did not cause brain damage. "It is possible that pre-morbid emotional difficulties and/or pre-morbid intellectual functioning may be contributing factors to his reported symptoms," a doctor wrote, withholding a diagnosis of traumatic brain injury.

Annette pushes for more brain testing and gets nowhere until someone gives her the name of a staffer for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. A few days later, Annette is called to a meeting with the command at Walter Reed. Dell is given a higher disability rating than expected -- 50 percent, which means he will receive half of his base pay until he is evaluated again in 18 months. He signs the papers.

Dell wears his uniform for the last time, somber and careful as he dresses for formation. Annette packs up the room and loads their Chevy Cavalier to the brim. Finally the gates of Walter Reed are behind them. They are southbound on I-95 just past the Virginia line when Dell begins to cry, Annette would later recall. She pulls over and they both weep.

Not long after, Bryan Anderson also leaves Mologne House. When the triple amputee gets off the plane in Chicago, American Airlines greets him on the tarmac with hoses spraying arches of water, and cheering citizens line the roads that lead to his home town, Rolling Meadows.

Bryan makes the January cover of Esquire. He is wearing his beat-up cargo shorts and an Army T-shirt, legless and holding his Purple Heart in his robot hand. The headline says "The Meaning of Life."

A month after Bryan leaves, Mike Smith, the insomniac soldier, is found dead in his room. Mike had just received the good news that the Army was raising his disability rating after a congressional staff member intervened on his behalf. It was the week before Christmas, and he was set to leave Walter Reed to go home to his wife and kids in Iowa when his body was found. The Army told his wife that he died of an apparent heart attack, according to her father.

Distraught, Oscar Fernandez calls Dell and Annette in South Carolina with the news. "It's the constant assault of the Army," he says.

Life with Dell is worsening. He can't be left alone. The closest VA hospital is two hours away. Doctors say he has liver problems because of all the medications. He is also being examined for PTSD. "I don't even know this man anymore," Annette says.

At Mologne House, the rooms empty and fill, empty and fill. The lobby chandelier glows and the bowl of red apples waits on the front desk. An announcement goes up for Texas Hold 'Em poker in the bar.

One cold night an exhausted mother with two suitcases tied together with rope shows up at the front desk and says, "I am here for my son." And so it begins.


Paranoia in Turkey over northern Iraq

A former American official says something and paranoia grips our countrymen, creating round the clock debates over the creation of a possible independent "Kurdistan" in northern Iraq.

Former Clinton administration official Richard Holbrooke, who visited Erbil recently, has come up with an idea that a "Taiwan model" can be applied for northern Iraq where the international community indirectly recognizes the independent entity in the Kurdish region and deals with it diplomatically in a limited manner but forges unlimited economic and financial relations.

So immediately the media picks up this story as if Holbrooke is actually in the Bush administration and suggests this is a new American plan to push Turkey to recognize a Kurdish state.

Holbrooke was in Erbil recently and had talks with Kurdish leaders. Like anyone visiting the area, he saw that the Kurds are suffering serious hardships and could not sustain any form of an independent entity without serious outside help if Baghdad collapses and the area is left without funds.

He also realized that the region badly needed Turkey's support and was dismayed by the lack of dialogue between Ankara and the Kurdish leaders.

So it seems Holbrooke did some deep thinking and came up with his own solution. These are his views, not the views of the Bush administration. He may again become an influential American official after a future Democratic presidential victory, but even that remains to be seen.

We feel Turks have really become paranoid about northern Iraq. It is the lack of information about this region that is creating this impression. Turks who visit Erbil and northern Iraq see for themselves the reality and the importance of helping this region stand on its two feet. They realize that the region is heavily dependent on Turkey while our people are jittery that the Kurds will become independent and eventually swallow up southeastern Turkey.

Instead of turning its back on the region, Turkey should establish some form of diplomatic presence in Erbil. The Americans are here. The British are here. The Russians are establishing a consulate, while the Iranians, who are as much concerned as us about an in dependent Kurdish state, have a representation. Turkey, which is the most important regional political and economic power which is actually driving the Kurdish economy, is missing in Erbil. Can this be tolerated?

Our newspapers are full of stories that are seriously misleading simply because no one takes the trouble of visiting this region and prefers to write about it sitting in Istanbul.

Newspapers claim that the military has a secret report saying Talabani and Barzani have agreed to use the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) against the Turkmens. It seems those who do not know the region and the strength of the Turkmens in Erbil do not realize that this is impossible and believe in such nonsense.

It seems some people simply do not want dialogue with the Iraqi Kurdish leaders and Turkey to eventually prevail in northern Iraq. Turkey should think big instead of getting lost in paranoia.

New Anatolian

One could only hope. I know I have been against the idea in the past but, that was on the condition we could hold Baghdad.

New ROE In Effect

"This is late, but hopefully not too late.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki told his security forces on Tuesday to show no mercy toward insurgents in a security crackdown in Baghdad.

Iraqiya state television showed Maliki, a Shi'ite Islamist leader, talking to an Iraqi soldier near an armored vehicle in central Baghdad. The soldier pointed to an area from where he said insurgents had been firing at security forces.

"Don't just fire back, crush the place where the fire came from," Maliki replied. "Don't treat them with leniency. This is an armored vehicle here, use it."
Maybe Maliki finally understands that new ROEs need to be in effect for his forces to crush the insurgents."
4 Mile Creek

Sabreen al-Janabi

"I'm sure you've all heard about the 20-year-old Sabreen al-Janabi, a Sunni woman who said that had been raped by US-supported Iraqi soldiers during the ongoing Operation Law & Order, suprisingly, there hasn't been much activity regarding the topic on the Iraqi blogosphere, with the exception of the predictable post by Truth About Iraqis, and a rare appearance by superstar Riverbend.

Before I add my own opinion regarding the topic, here is a special treat, I have spent the better part of yesterday adding subtitles to the video and I have put it now live on YouTube here:"
Konfused Kid

And The Iraqi Government Reward Goes To...

"Two weeks ago, IRIN (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) reported the rape case of Iraqi woman Luana Martini (Via Iraqi Mojo). Luana was raped by an Iraqi soldier a few days after a raid on her home in Baghdad. Luana's brother took her to the police station to report the incident. As expected, things didn't go very well:"
Fayrouz in Beaumont

US: KRG doesn't support PKK

"State Department spokesman Tom Casey backed the Kurdish position for the third time, saying the Kerkuk referendum process should go ahead as planned. He also declared that the KRG doesn’t support the rebel movement PKK.

Reporters asked if the KDP and PUK support the PKK in Kurdistan. Casey said:”The regional government of Kurdistan, government in Bagdad, the American government and the Turkish government together will look for a solution for the PKK-problem. The PKK is supported by no one.” Casey also said America supports a diplomatic solution to the PKK-issue and is against a military attack on the PKK.

Äbout Kerkuk Tom Casey said: "We support the Iraqi constitution and that means we also support the referendum for Kerkuk.” This is the third time America shows their support for a referendum in Kerkuk."

Hey, Everybody

An Open Letter Home
by CSM James Pippin

"“You boys better git comfortable, this may take awhile.

This story relates to this war on terror. We may not realize many tangible results from this war, especially not if we have a timeline based on a news cycle or an election. But it’s worth every can full of water every day we fight over here. I am resolved to fight these bastards for however long it takes, every day until my retirement.

I am stationed in Mosul, Iraq and things are busy. We have about 15 - 20 incidents a day. An “incident” is an IED attack, enemy ambush, rocket attack against our vehicles, or a mortar attack against our FOB (Forward Operating Base aka where we live). We win every time whenever they stay and fight. But mostly, they hit us, then run away and blend into the crowd. We’re winning a day at a time. And we are taking the fight to them.”"
Micheal Yon

South Kurdistan on Sunday Evening

"On Sunday evening, CBS News' 60 Minutes program did a short piece on South Kurdistan, which you can view here.

I have a certain degree of respect for 60 Minutes because it has, in the past, been one of the very few American news programs to present information on the situation of the Bakûrî. It has also broadcast an interview with Sibel Edmonds. In both of those cases, Ed Bradley was the correspondent who brought the stories out.

I'm a bit conflicted on this piece and am thinking through it. But, if you missed it, take a look and see what you think."

Military dialogue with America

"Many of you may be aware that former BG Janice Karpinksy of Abu Ghraib fame is blogging over at the Huffington Post.
What I found fascinating wasn’t her post, but one of the comments:
General Karpinski,

As an American, I feel out of touch with the military. Is there any way for the common man to talk to them and learn something about how they think about things? Whenever I see any of the generals talking on TV, they seem so untrustworthy. It is like they are trying to deceive us, and every time they are replaced the new ones just make it harder..."
The D-Ring

Paper Bag

"Kenny, the former Marine NCO, was back at group last night. Last time the group met it was just Joe Dunn, Dr Kay, Dr Robbins, and me. It was still a good group but without Kenny something felt odd. Dr Kay refers to the three of us as her 'core' of the group. Dr. Robbins has been introduced as an observer in the last few months, once Dr Kay had the groups ok, that is.
"Well... Is he just gonna sit back and take notes? I mean, I don't know about the rest of the guys, but I don't want to be some kind of Goddamn science experiment for some fuck'n intern." That was my concern."
This is Your War II

Google the following...

"At Mologne House, a struggle to recover

War survivors wrestle with military bureaucracy, personal demons
"Even among the gazebos and tranquility of the Walter Reed campus in upper Northwest Washington, manhole covers are sidestepped for fear of bombs and rooftops are scanned for snipers"(At Mologne House a struggle to recover, Washingtom Post).

This is me. No I am not at Walter Reed thank God, but I cannot step on manhole covers, and I scan rooftops all the time especially those of parking structures. I think that is because they remind me most of the concrete buildings in Iraq."
Chapter: War
Here is the link from WaPo

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Things are Going Much Better...Boom!!!

"Each time the announcement is made that the coalition is getting the upper hand on the insurgency, another large scale attack occurs. Is it because the insurgency wants to prove the announcement wrong, or is it because the insurgency wants to give everyone a false sense of security and then further demoralize them? I suggest we stop announcing that we have things under control when we really don't.

The Christian Science Monitor reported the following from Nouri al Maliki yesterday regarding the Baghdad security crackdown:"
Serving the People of Iraq

The War Between Iraqis and Al Qaeda

"Buried under allegations of rape - I wonder if Al Jazeera covered this:

'Al-Badeel Al-Iraqi reports that gunmen associated with Al-Qaeda in Iraq have murdered 24 people from the Al-Bu Farraj and Al-Bu Risha tribes, which are part of the Anbar Salvation Council, a coalition of local tribes in western Iraq fighting Al-Qaeda, in Ramadi."
Iraqi Mojo
I wonder who is stronger, now. I guess we're about to find out

A Baghdad Homecoming

"Here’s a quick snapshot of the Baghdad security crackdown, from my own family’s point of view. My story involves only a single household, but – so far – it has a happy ending. I don’t pretend that this one household’s story is a counterweight to all the misery and murder that the crackdown is intended to address, but it’s my profound hope that this story is – or soon will be --representative of many other such individual tales that will be told by many other Iraqi families."
Iraqi Pundit

Copter Attacks In Iraq May Indicate New Battle Strategy

The Army's senior aviation officer in Iraq said yesterday that Sunni fighters probably used a sophisticated SA-14 or SA-16 shoulder-fired missile to shoot down a Marine helicopter on Feb. 7, killing all seven people on board.

If confirmed by an ongoing Marine Corps investigation, it would mark the first time since last summer that insurgents in Iraq struck U.S. aircraft with such an anti-aircraft missile, and it would provide fresh evidence of a new strategy of specifically targeting helicopters, according to Maj. Gen. James E. Simmons, deputy U.S. commander in Iraq.

Simmons said that, upon reviewing a videotape of the attack on the Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Knight transport helicopter, it appeared that the missile used was not the Vietnam-era SA-7, which insurgents and militias are known to have, but more likely an SA-14 or SA-16. Those pose a bigger threat because they have a greater range, size and ability to overcome aircraft defensive systems. The helicopter's defensive system did not appear to deploy properly, the Marine Corps commandant, Gen. James T. Conway, testified before the Senate last week.

The Russian-manufactured SA-14 or SA-16 probably would have been brought into the country from abroad relatively recently, Simmons said in an interview.

The attack in Anbar province was the latest in a string of seven U.S. military and civilian helicopter downings in Iraq since last month. U.S. commanders say that Sunni and Shiite extremist groups have begun to use sensational and deadly strikes in a new and carefully planned effort to rally support for their causes.

"The extremists on both ends of the spectrum, Sunni and Shia, recognized that whenever you have an aircraft shot down that belongs to the U.S. government, that is a spectacular international press event" and sends the message that "they are a capable adversary," Simmons said.

The strategy of stepping up the targeting of U.S. helicopters, revealed in recently captured insurgent documents, was devised specifically to counter the U.S. and Iraqi military push to quell violence in Baghdad, he said.

In addition to confronting missiles, the U.S. military is seeing an intensification of ground fire from automatic weapons against its helicopters. On Monday, for example, three U.S. military helicopters were struck by ground fire as they helped repel an unusually bold insurgent attack on an American outpost in the town of Tarmiyah, north of Baghdad. The pilots were able to fly the helicopters back to their bases, where the aircraft are undergoing repair.

Army and Marine Corps helicopters in Iraq carry out hundreds of missions each day. On average, they are shot at about 100 times a month, with 17 of them hit.

Simmons said some recent attacks exhibited unusual coordination, planning and patience. These include a Jan. 20 assault, when an Army Black Hawk helicopter was shot down northeast of Baghdad, killing 12, and one on Feb. 2, when an Apache attack helicopter was downed north of the capital, killing its crew of two.

In both cases, Simmons said, insurgents in heavily Sunni regions used multiple weapons systems, including heavy machine guns, "clearly emplaced to attack the aircraft" from several different directions. It was the first time in months that such a concerted effort had been made using multiple weapons systems to attack aircraft, he said.

Insurgents apparently readied for the attacks by watching U.S. flight patterns over several days.

"These are patient fighters," Simmons said, adding that he believed the attacks were linked and involved fighters from the same Sunni extremist group.

All of the recent helicopter downings have occurred during daylight hours. The U.S. military flies extensively at night, but it cannot limit operations to nighttime.

Instead, Simmons said the military is responding by giving pilots detailed updates on threats and terrain, directing them to the least risky routes, and then allowing them to modify their altitude, speed and course as necessary to evade attack.

Meanwhile, U.S. forces are aggressively going after groups believed to be responsible for the recent spate of helicopter downings, Simmons said. "We're not being passive about this."


Palestinians Put Calm Over West's Wishes

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) - Palestinians from the president on down are opting for unity over pleasing the West. The choice became increasingly clear after this week's Mideast summit. In the meeting, the U.S. and Israel warned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that they'd shun the emerging Hamas-Fatah unity government because it won't explicitly recognize the Jewish state.

Such a boycott translates into a loss of about $1 billion in foreign aid a year. Also, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office announced Tuesday that he would not hold peace talks with Abbas as long as Hamas - listed as a terror group by the U.S., the European Union and Israel - is part of the government, meaning Palestinian statehood would be put off indefinitely.

Despite such high stakes, a new poll indicated 94 percent of Palestinians support the Hamas-Fatah power sharing deal, reached this month in the Muslim holy city of Mecca. The agreement is widely seen as the only way to avert civil war, following months of Hamas-Fatah fighting that killed at least 130 people.

Halting the bloodshed has become a top priority for Palestinians, said Jamil Rabah, who heads Neareast Consulting, an independent polling company. "Palestinians would be willing to sacrifice for the sake of maintaining Palestinian brotherhood," he said.

By comparison, the threat of economic sanctions and freezing peace talks packs less of a punch.

An aid boycott has been in place for a year, targeting the Hamas government. Palestinians, while descending deeper into poverty, have been able to muddle through, in part because of increased Arab support. Also, many believe peace talks are far off in any case, despite renewed U.S. efforts to revive negotiations, including Monday's Jerusalem summit.

On the other hand, the Mecca deal is seen as something solid because it is underwritten by Saudi Arabia, the wealthiest country in the region. The agreement was able to halt the bloodiest round of Palestinian infighting, and the two sides have kept their word so far.

As agreed, the Hamas government resigned last week, turning into a caretaker Cabinet, and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas has four weeks to put together a coalition with Abbas' Fatah.

In a survey by Rahab released Sunday, 76.5 percent of 806 respondents said they believed the Mecca agreement reduced the threat of civil war and 94 percent said they support the Mecca understandings. The poll had an margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

Abbas has told Olmert and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that he considers the Mecca agreement an achievement and that he won't be able to extract more concessions from Hamas - signaling that he won't go back on the unity deal, despite the U.S. and Israeli warnings.

Abbas heads next to Germany, Britain and France to try to win support for the unity deal, which does not directly address the international demands - recognizing Israel, renouncing violence and accepting previous peace accords.

Rice and Olmert have said repeatedly they'd reserve judgment until the unity government is formed - even though Abbas and others made it clear there won't be a change in platform. Abbas described his meeting with Rice and Olmert as "tense and difficult," but said it was not a failure.

Palestinian analyst Ghassan Khatib said he believed Abbas came out ahead, because he won assurances by the U.S. and Israel that they would continue to deal with him. "He has improved the internal situation and moved from the edge of civil war ... without sacrificing his international position," said Khatib, an independent and a former Cabinet minister.

While the choices are increasingly clear, many Palestinians hope they can have the best of both worlds - a national unity government and international aid.

Huda Mohammed, 45, who works at a blood bank in Gaza City, said she was pleased with the Mecca agreement because it stopped the fighting.

She would also like Hamas to compromise more, "so we can breathe a little," but said the U.S. shouldn't push too hard, for fear of triggering more unrest.

And Osama al-Najjar, head of the union of health workers in the West Bank, said the Palestinians should opt for unity - even at the price of an international boycott that has meant months without salaries for his members.

"Kneeling to the American and Israeli demands has given us nothing before," he said.


Iranian sniper rifles in the hands of Iraqi insurgents

"On the heals of a U.S. military presentation which provided evidence of Iranian made Explosively formed projectiles, mortars and other weapons being supplied to to Iraqi terrorists, as well as evidence of Iranian Qods Force operatives captured in Iraq, The Telegraph reports a significant quantity of Iranian owned sniper rifles have been seized in Iraq. Over twelve percent of Iran's Steyr HS50 sniper rifles purchased by the "National Iranian Police Organisation" in 2005 have been found inside Iraq. The Telegraph's Thomas Harding reports:"
The Fourth Rail

The Republicans’ Terrorist Donor?

"And GOP "businessperson of the year"!

Via the Leftist Alter Net:

What boggles the mind is not necessarily that Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari, accused of funding terrorism, "gave $15,250 to the NRCC since 2002," or that he was made The National Republican Congressional Committee’s "businessman of the year" in both 2003 and 2004 (part of a scam whereby you only get your "award" should you "donate" xxx dollars to the Republican’s reelection committee)."
The Two Malcontents
What was that number?

OpEd: Guilt and the Daily Contribution to Terror

"Two years ago his sister was burned when she fell into the open cooking fire inside their mud hut. As he sat talking to to the US Army Special Forces Medic, he pleaded for help. One of his sister's hands had been burned to stubs; her face left with visible scars. The young girl's eyelids were no longer able to close; her family would place a cloth over her face at night so that she could sleep. There was no medical care available at the time of her accident; and now the damage was so severe that there was nothing that the Medic could do for her. Her fate was sealed.
Back home a group of people sits around a table at a local pub. They talk about politics, the problems of the world, the problems of America even though most have never left the country. As the conversation continues it strays to the new car, the house they want to buy, the cost of day care and Johnny's private school. With the arrival of their food comes another round of beer as the conversations continue. At last the evening begins to wind down, as they pay their tab, say good night, and drive home to the comfort of a clean sheets, thermostatically controlled heat and the relaxing grip of a down filled pillow.

... the consequential politics of a spoiled nation."
KGW Afghanistan

George and I

"BC -

The other day I finally managed to meet George. He is a man of 57 years old from the USA. I have heard about him from a colleague who praised him as ‘different from the rest’.

So we have invited him to a late lunch around 3 pm – in our timing this is quite normal lunch. And George was promised to try Kubat Hamudh; they’re rice pasta honed into small circular shapes; rolled and stuffed with minced diced meat and cooked in somewhat tangy tomato paste. They’re delicious!"
Baghdad Connect
There's no avoiding it

The Project on Defense Alternatives - on the US-Iran confrontation:

"Confronting Iran: Critical perspectives on the current crisis, its origins, and implications

This, we hope, will be useful to those covering, analyzing, or teaching the crisis. The page provides links to 120 articles and sources in 13 categories that go well beyond daily news coverage to address broader strategic issues. It also addresses persisting failures in the "marketplace of ideas" and in media coverage.

What has been most lacking in treatments of the crisis is historical perspective and strategic context. Our "Confronting Iran" page can serve as a modest corrective. Please have look, use it, and share it."
The Project on Defense Alternatives

Salvadorans welcome troops returning home from Iraq

COMALAPA MILITARY BASE, El Salvador: El Salvador welcomed home a contingent of soldiers returning from Iraq, three weeks after their replacements began arriving in Iraq.

The first group of 290 returning soldiers was greeted Monday at this air base just south of San Salvador, the capital, by Defense Minister Gen. Otto Romero, who told them "you have may finished six difficult months in Iraq ... but the work has been noble."

Romero also mourned the loss of Capt. Jose Soto Ochoa, who was killed on Oct. 20 when his convoy hit an explosive device in Iraq's Wasit province. He was the fifth Salvadoran soldier to die in Iraq; about 20 others have been injured in attacks by insurgents.

"The blood shed by Capt. Soto and the other soldiers who have fallen in our contingents makes us understand as soldiers the importance of the armed forces' mission." Romero said.

The other 89 soldiers in the contingent will return Tuesday. Their replacement began arriving in Iraq in late January.

El Salvador is the only Latin American country with troops to Iraq, and there is significant public opposition to that policy here.

Salvadoran soldiers have carried out mostly peacekeeping and humanitarian work including rebuilding schools in Iraq, mainly in the southern Iraqi city of Kut.

The first Salvadoran troops were sent in August 2003, and El Salvador's congress has already authorized President Tony Saca to send another six-month contingent in August.


US 'Iran attack plans' revealed

US contingency plans for air strikes on Iran extend beyond nuclear sites and include most of the country's military infrastructure, the BBC has learned.
It is understood that any such attack - if ordered - would target Iranian air bases, naval bases, missile facilities and command-and-control centres.

The US insists it is not planning to attack, and is trying to persuade Tehran to stop uranium enrichment.

The UN has urged Iran to stop the programme or face economic sanctions.

But diplomatic sources have told the BBC that as a fallback plan, senior officials at Central Command in Florida have already selected their target sets inside Iran.

That list includes Iran's uranium enrichment plant at Natanz. Facilities at Isfahan, Arak and Bushehr are also on the target list, the sources say.

Two triggers

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says the trigger for such an attack reportedly includes any confirmation that Iran was developing a nuclear weapon - which it denies.

Alternatively, our correspondent adds, a high-casualty attack on US forces in neighbouring Iraq could also trigger a bombing campaign if it were traced directly back to Tehran.

Long range B2 stealth bombers would drop so-called "bunker-busting" bombs in an effort to penetrate the Natanz site, which is buried some 25m (27 yards) underground.

The BBC's Tehran correspondent France Harrison says the news that there are now two possible triggers for an attack is a concern to Iranians.

Authorities insist there is no cause for alarm but ordinary people are now becoming a little worried, she says.


Earlier this month US officials said they had evidence Iran was providing weapons to Iraqi Shia militias. At the time, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the accusations were "excuses to prolong the stay" of US forces in Iraq.

Middle East analysts have recently voiced their fears of catastrophic consequences for any such US attack on Iran.

Britain's previous ambassador to Tehran, Sir Richard Dalton, told the BBC it would backfire badly by probably encouraging the Iranian government to develop a nuclear weapon in the long term.

Last year Iran resumed uranium enrichment - a process that can make fuel for power stations or, if greatly enriched, material for a nuclear bomb.

Tehran insists its programme is for civil use only, but Western countries suspect Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons.

The UN Security Council has called on Iran to suspend its enrichment of uranium by 21 February.

If it does not, and if the International Atomic Energy Agency confirms this, the resolution says that further economic sanctions will be considered.


McCain: Iraq War Mismanaged for Years

BLUFFTON, S.C. (AP) -- Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Monday the war in Iraq has been mismanaged for years and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will be remembered as one of the worst in history.
"We are paying a very heavy price for the mismanagement _ that's the kindest word I can give you _ of Donald Rumsfeld, of this war," the Arizona senator told an overflow crowd of more than 800 at a retirement community near Hilton Head Island, S.C. "The price is very, very heavy and I regret it enormously."

McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, complained that Rumsfeld never put enough troops on the ground to succeed in Iraq.

"I think that Donald Rumsfeld will go down in history as one of the worst secretaries of defense in history," McCain said to applause.

The comments were in sharp contrast to McCain's statement when Rumsfeld resigned in November, and failed to address the reality that President Bush is the commander in chief.

"While Secretary Rumsfeld and I have had our differences, he deserves Americans' respect and gratitude for his many years of public service," McCain said last year when Rumfeld stepped down.

On a two-day campaign swing in South Carolina, McCain fielded questions from the crowd for more than an hour and said the United States can succeed in Iraq with additional troops and a new strategy. McCain has been a strong proponent of using more troops and favors Bush's increase of some 21,500 U.S. forces in the nearly four-year-old war.

"I have been saying for 3 1/2 years that we would be in this sad situation and this critical situation we are in today," he said.

McCain's bid for president was sidetracked in South Carolina in 2000 after a victory in New Hampshire. George W. Bush won the primary here and went on to win the nomination and White House.

"In life, one of the worst things you can do is hold a grudge," he said. "I felt the important thing for me to do with my life was to move forward after we lost our race. You have seen other people who have lost who mire themselves in bitterness and self pity. That's not what my life is all about."

Some in the crowd were Bush supporters who have not yet decided on a 2008 candidate.

"It's too early to say," said Paul Baker, a retiree from Niagara Falls, N.Y., who has lived in South Carolina about four years. "I'm just going to wait it out and see what happens."


I wonder if McCain reads this blog?


"This story takes place yesterday, though I’m writing it today (yesterday) so that when I post it tomorrow (today) the reference to today (yesterday) will make sense chronologically. Got that? Good, please explain it to me.
Hamid has been very excited about all the new guys coming in. For a while it looked like many of us weren’t going to be replaced, and Hamid was understandably concerned about his job. It looks like it is secure for another year, fingers crossed. He is especially interested in the captain that is replacing me, as Hamid will most likely be working with him a lot. He wants to know if he is funny (since I am endlessly entertaining), have I met him before, what is he like, did he volunteer to come, and so on. Unfortunately, I don’t know him, and can’t provide much insight.

As we were walking across CMA in our latest blizzard, I looked down at my watch and said, “It’s almost lunch time, Hamid’s favorite part of the day. Time to fill up four plates full of food and make that belly fat.” Hamid laughs, both because he agrees, and because it is true. His ability to put away food is legendary. Much like a camel, he seems to fill up and save it for the lean times."

Online engagement and ROI

"Part of the reason that new media seems to be stuck at the bottom of the communication totem pole at the Pentagon is because it is difficult to explain the value, the return on investment, that it has for communication.

There seems to be general universal agreement among Pentagon elites that main stream media is important. I can’t count the number of times while I was working there that the Chief of Public Affairs or the Director of Media Relations was taken to task by the the Third Deck for a negative story that appeared on NBC or in the LA Times. The consensus was that lots of people read/watch/hear this news, so it has value. The return on investing time in addressing the mass media is the volume of people it communicates to.
But things are changing."
The D-Ring
I think I just found the definition of the word "Republican"
"What my last sentences were intended to mean were that LaRue and Marcotte were two sides of the same goofball reductivist coin. Both have a limited capacity for comprehending the complex world as it actually is and find, therefore, a great deal of comfort in crudely reducing everything into cookie-cutter paradigms that are simple enough to let them feel the've got a pretty good handle on things."
Ace of Spades

Monday, February 19, 2007

Deir Yassin Remembered

"It has been almost 60 years since the massacre of 100 Palestinians at Deir Yassin, a small village outside Jerusalem, and it is just a glimpse of what has happened to Palestinians who lived on land that was desired to be part of the new state of Israel. It is sad to think that many Americans will not watch this video because they feel more comfortable with their version of what happened to the Palestinians in 1948. It is good to acknowledge the truth, always. We cannot run away from the truth."
Iraqi Mojo
You mean this? WIKI
Or the controversy over the mass exodus that came latter?

Bombs strike again but hope remains.

"As we expected in the last post, the terrorists committed another crime against civilians by detonating two bombs in a market area.

Although soldiers and policemen are filling the streets, the terrorists are too coward to face the troops and choose to massacre unarmed civilians instead. What are they trying to prove with these cowardly acts? They can’t defeat the troops, so they attack civilians to discredit the security plan. But I don’t think such attacks can change the course of events on the long term; the Baghdad plan is a strategic effort that will go on for months, and time doesn’t seem to be on the terrorists’ side right now."

PTSD Questions

"Over the last few weeks, I’ve been receiving emails from people asking about PTSD and if I know any of my Marines who are willing to talk about it. First thing is, I’m not going to give out medical information on any of my patients. Not that most of the ones that I know mind talking about it, it’s a matter of me keeping my job and out of jail. I can let them know that someone is interested and pass on the information though and I don't mind you asking

Most of the PTSD cases that we run into in the airwing side are an entirely different ball game then the stories you would find if you were to ask the average ground pounder. Our usual supects for airwing mental issues come from separation anxiety, problems back home, adjustment disorders and issues that come from sending people to a war zone who should have never made it past MEPS.

My advise to all of these people is to go to the source,"
Dox in the Box
That's a great list for source info Sean, I would add only one. Conbat Doc from Candle in the Dark, Which has done some writing on the subject.

The L.A. Times jumps the shark.

"Multiple layers of fact-checkers at work."
One can only hope we are funding the insurgents in Iran!

Badgers Down: Prelude

"Falluja, Al Anbar, Iraq. I walked into the supported unit’s Combat Operations Center (COC) a little before 1400 on February 7, 2006.

“Hey Badger 6. You showed at just the perfect time, we need to call your 3 element off of their current mission. A CH-46 went down and we need to get out there.”

I looked at the plasma screen and could see the UAV feed of the crash site. It was both fascinating and sickening. Fascinating, because UAV feeds, while not uncommon, are generally the purview of command elements well above my level and here I was for the first time seeing it used to conduct a mission, a mission that I was going to be involved with. A mission that was going to change a of people’s lives. Sickening because I knew I was looking at more dead American service members and another possible indication of the insurgents’ ability to shoot down our aircraft.

“Roger that. What do you need from me?”

“We have called 3-6 back, he is supposed to meet you inside the gate at the North Ramp, you are going to link up with Tanks for security and Mortuary Affairs. Infantry is on site and securing the crash. Take your time. Here is the route we need you to take. This is the only road that supports the equipment we need to get in there. Can you run this out to the North Ramp and meet up with your boy?”"
Badger Forward

Apaches Over Baghdad - 02.19.2007

"Apaches, and other helicopters, have become somewhat of a ubiquitous nuisance to Baghdad’s residents. Their constant presence can be disconcerting, or even banale. Although helicopters have been called some of the world’s most fearsome weapons, and in particular are often mentioned in explanations of the awesome power of the American military, in Baghdad their constant presence has led to an attitude better described as resigned acceptance.
This week Omar Abdullah describes his impressions and feelings about the American helicopters, and in particular Apaches often seen in Baghdad’s skies.

With the recent upsurge in helicopter accidents and downings, an Iraqi commentary on the impression made by these machines is certainly timely."
Alive in Baghdad

Faces in the Crowds

"Every time I get into a conversation about Iraq with someone back home, they ask me what the kids are like, or what the people are like, or what the women do. Normally, the only time I see given to the Iraqi people in the news is for the numbers of the dead, and the rantings of radical Muslims. I can look around me as I go on patrol and see faces everywhere that belong to neither group.

There are the middle-aged men in black robes and red headdresses who glare at us as we pass. They squat in circles and whisper to each other, and strike their children when they wave and call to us. I rarely see women among them.

There was the young Iraqi girl in an orange headdress that blew a kiss at me as we passed her at a checkpoint. She got embarrassed and hid her face when I smiled back.

Once, as we returned to Ramadi from Falluja, I saw an Iraqi man driving his truck through the rain. There were four women in traditional garb in the back of the truck, huddled together for warmth. On the front seat next to the man was his dog."
Acute Politics
Clearly the man has his priorities.

Anger at Foreign Arabs Builds in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - The wealthy Arab man, sporting a foreign accent, has just given an Iraqi teenager some cash and a bomb when police burst in and arrest him. "You come here from abroad and want to make this young man kill his Iraqi brothers?" an officer asks.

The television ad, widely aired across Iraq in recent weeks and meant to encourage Iraqis to report suspicious behavior to police, is a startling example of a new strain of anger and discrimination against foreign Arabs in this Arab-majority country.

Suspicion toward foreign Arabs stems, in part, from the fact that the Sunni-led insurgency has included many foreign fighters, most of them Arabs, who are blamed for deadly attacks that have claimed thousands of Iraqi lives.

Foreign Arabs who live in Iraq often try to hide their identities by faking an Iraqi accent or staying silent. Iraqis are usually suspicious when they hear a person speaking Arabic with a non-Iraqi accent.

An Associated Press reporter riding a public bus last month heard one of the passengers telling the driver in conversational Egyptian Arabic to drop him at a stop. After the man, carrying a bag, left the bus, Iraqis began arguing with the driver about why he had let the man on. Several passengers searched the seat where the man had been sitting to make sure he had not left a bomb.

The suspicions have shown up in official pronouncements from the Arab Shiite Muslim-led government of Iraq, too.

After a suicide truck bomb killed more than 132 people and wounded hundreds in a Baghdad market a few weeks ago, the head of the Shiite-controlled Interior Ministry's explosives department, Maj. Gen. Jihad al-Jabiri, told state-run Iraqi television: "I call on the government to deport (foreign) Arabs immediately."

Hit by violence from all sides, it is perhaps not surprising that many Shiite Muslim Arabs here have begun showing widespread suspicion of foreign Arabs, who are often from Sunni Muslim countries. Iraq's Shiite-led government is close to Iran, a non-Arab Shiite Muslim country.

But the discrimination is a troubling sign of just how suspicious Iraqis have become of outsiders as sectarian violence has divided people into camps.

The resentment toward foreign Arabs also has increased regional tensions between Iraq and some of its neighbors, including Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, who already are wary of how Shiite leaders are running Iraq.

A day after the Interior Ministry general asked for Arabs' deportation, some Shiite members of parliament echoed the call. That led to a dispute after the parliament speaker, a Sunni Arab, retorted that both Arabs "and others" should be deported - a reference to Iranians. Many Sunnis here fear Iranians are infiltrating Iraq.

Iraqi authorities in recent months also have prevented anyone who holds an Arab-country passport from entering the country without first gaining a security approval that is almost impossible to get.

This measure comes after both Iraqi and U.S. officials have cited instances of Saudi, Syrian, Egyptian, Yemeni and Libyan fighters joining the Sunni insurgency in Iraq. The Iraqi government has tended to blame the insurgency more on foreign fighters than on Iraqis who are Saddam Hussein loyalists.

The most infamous Arab foreign fighter was Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of the al-Qaida in Iraq group, who was killed by U.S. forces last summer. Another foreign Arab, an Egyptian, took his place after he died, his group said.

Some of the resentment toward foreign Arabs stems from another factor, though - Saddam's longtime preferential treatment toward Palestinians until he was ousted in the 2003 invasion.

Saddam lavished large cash payments on Palestinian suicide bombers in the 1990s, when Iraq faced crippling economic sanctions and many Iraqis were jobless. That caused Iraqis to feel strong resentment toward Palestinians and other Arabs who came to work in Iraq. Palestinians have left in large numbers since the 2003 invasion, because of widespread anger toward them here.

Sabah Abdul-Wahed, a 35-year-old Shiite Muslim cashier at a restaurant in Baghdad's predominantly Shiite neighborhood of New Baghdad, said he can't help feeling resentment toward foreign Arabs who live in Iraq.

"They had more privileges than Iraqis, and under Saddam they had better lives than ours," he said. "I don't mean all Arabs but many of them ... Their governments don't like Iraqis. In the past, they liked Iraqi money."