Tag Archives: Baghdad

HEADLINES FROM THE WORLD PRESS

Each day we offer a sample of headlines that appeared in the world press along with our comments.

Czech Republic: “Uncommon Comics”
Rush Limbaugh reporting the news.

Qatar, Gulf Times: “Bust Times For US Banks”
I think it is even bustier for those depositing their money in the banks.

Australia, Sydney Morning Herald: “Passenger Bolts Plane With Chute”
That is one way to avoid customs.

China, China Daily: “White House Hosts Halloween”
The Obama invited former vice president Dick Cheney to provide at the festivities.

Indonesia, Jakarta Post: “Speaker Cuts Teeth On Health Commission”
He was trying to drum up business for the dentist area.

Kuwait, Kuwait Times: “Kuwait Unhappiest In Middle East”
Is that a boast or a complaint?

Qatar, Khaleej Times: “Obama Condemns Outrageous Baghdad Bombings”
His comment undoubtedly will end such bombings.

UK, The Independent: “Iran Arrests 18 For Promoting Satanism”
Gee, why did they arrest people who support the Iran government?

Saudi Arabia, Saudi Gazette: “Karzai Is Best Bet”
If you want corruption, incompetence, etc…

Oh, Are We In Charge Of Security?

The Iraq government has arrested eleven security officers after days of violence caused by truck bombs which ripped across Baghdad and killed hundreds of people. It is confusing why these brave men were arrested since no one told them they were supposed to halt large trucks from entering the main part of the city. How can these men be expected to know there might be bombs in the trucks? Of course, there are the complainers who ask stupid questions such as “how can they allow a truck to pass through this important street near this important ministry?”

In defense of these stalwart guardians of peace and security in Baghdad, it must be pointed out the Americans are gone and the entire responsibility is in the hands of native born Iraqis. Are they expected to be suspicious of other Iraqis just because the Americans always adopted such an attitude? It is time for Iraqis to take an Iraqi approach to dealing with bombers. If it is written in the stars you die, no one can alter what the stars say.

On the other hand, weren’t security personnel supposed to be trained to deal with truck bombers? So, who goofed?

US Iraq Forces Quietly Leaving Cities

Two years ago, walking the streets of Baghdad was a dangerous expedition into the teeth of violence, but today, most inhabitants of the capital stroll without fear due to the decline in violence. The American military is slowly abandoning its presence in urban areas as Iraqi military steps up to assume responsibility for maintaining law and order. The goal is transforming control of Iraq cities to that nation’s military no later than June, 2009. President elect Obama has made clear he wants the focus to shift from Iraq to Afghanistan where he situation continues its slide into chaos.

The unknown aspect of the shift is what will happen when American forces no longer are in the major cities. Will it lead to renewed fighting between Sunni and Shiite factions? Will it encourage al-Qaeda to return to its violence? The success of withdrawing American forces lies in the ability of the Shiite Iraq government to cooperate with its Sunni citizens. There is still a question mark if Shiites and Sunni can cooperate.

Iraq Government Wants To Take Over Baghdad Security

The Iraq government has made clear to the United States it is prepared to assume control of the issue of security for Baghdad. General Abdel Karim Khalaf said Iraqi police are quite capable of handling security duties throughout the capital, a responsibility now under the supervision of American troops. “We have the ability to take over the internal security responsibility in Baghdad if American troops pull out of the city.” His comments came as reports circulate that the Iraq government is close to negotiating a deal with the Bush administration.

As leaders discussed who should be in charge of security, a female suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest in a city northeast of Baghdad which killed eleven people and wounded nineteen. It was supposed to be a double suicide attempt by the man failed to set off his vest and was arrested.

One problem is what happens if the Iraq military encounters difficulty. Will American troops return to Baghdad?

Life In Sadr City As US Forces Leave

There is no question US forces have done an excellent job of restoring the semblance of law and order to many parts of Baghdad, but the very success of such operations only adds new problems. Fighting has ended in Sadri City but resident feel trapped and uncertain as walls go up and checkpoints established to monitor traffic. Unfortunately, walls and checkpoints only add to the sense of being harassed in one’s own city. As a resident, Abu Ali, put it: “Because of this wall.. this wall of misery, we are living in a prison.. like being in a ghetto.” Although there is no armed conflict now going on, it is still clear the Mahdi army is alive and well armed. Residents know they can not antagonize these insurgents who may one day be completely in charge of Baghdad, particularly if Americans leave.

An urban area containing a wall and numerous checkpoints makes for difficulty in trying to move around, a problem compounded by lack of adequate transportation. People have a tendency to ignore and past and focus on today. In Baghdad today, American forces are responsible for walls and checkpoints and the almost certain minor issues that arise when civilians and military interact.

Madness In Iraq Continues With New Suicide Attacks

The Bush administration insists the Iraq situation is improving and cites figures which may or may not reflect a decline in violence. However, to the average Iraqi, the level of violence is measured against what occurs in their daily lives. Yesterday, wedding guests gathered in the streets of Bala Ruz, in the province of Diyala. They were prepared to celebrate some weddings when suddenly two suicide bombers blew themselves up in the midst of the crowd. According to an eye witness, “The first bomber blew himself up amid a crowd of people. Minutesd later another bomber blew himself up as people were trying to rescue the victims of the first attack.” Earlier in the day, a car bomb blew up in central Baghdad as a US patrol passed causing the death of at lelast eight civilians.

In the meantime, Shiite leader Muqatda al-Sadr refused to meet with Iraqi MPs who came to see him in Iran. He insists the legislature must resolve the crisis but has yet to be specific as to his demands. At this point, no one knows how to engage al-Sadr in the political process.

April Is The Cruelest Month In Months For GIs

In September of last year, the American military lost 65 soldiers in fighting but in subsequent months the total continually declined. It declined, however, until the cruel winds of April hit those fighting. The final figures are in for April and apparently 46 fine young Americans died in fighting, mainly in Baghdad. In addition to Americans who were victims of violence, at least 400 civilians died in Baghdad fighting according to Iraqi hospital officials who are overwhelmed attempting to deal with the price of violence and brutality. The Sadr city area of over two million people has been the scene of a high percent of the fighting as militants battle Iraqi and American forces.

On Tuesday, as the month drew to a close, US forces killed 28 militants in Baghdad while losing four of their own. Baghdad hospitals are stretched to the breaking point coping with hundreds of wounded in addition to their normal case loads. Staff at the hospitals are worried they are running out of clean water and donot lhave sufficient trauma specialists to treat all those in need of help.

Numbers in the Iraq war tend to focus more often on the dead while the living are left to suffer the effects of being wounded. Hospitals have problems disposing of dead bodies, but the living ones require ongoing attention and medical supplies which frequently are not available.

Al-Sadr Forces Clash With US and Iraq Army

American troops kiled at least 12 militants during fighting on Sudany in Sadr City in Baghdad. US Secretary of State Rice arrved in the city to lend support to the Iraq government as fighting raged between the Mahdi army and its opponents. Militant supporters of the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr attacked a US checkpoint with machine guns and rocket propelled grenades early in the morning. A US spokesperson noted: “There was an uptick in violence in comparisoon tih the past couple of weeks.” Hospital sources reported several civilian deaths including those of children.

Al-Sadr believes the attacks on his Mahdi army is designed to crush him politically and prevent it from winning seats in provincial councils. In his waning posted on Saturday, al-Sadr warned of an all-out war of liberation against the Americans but so far his forces have been either unable or unwilling to present a formidable opposition to Iraq and US forces. Meanwhile, in the north there are reports of new Sunni militant forces organizing to fight the Americans and the Iraq government.

There are too many confusing and unknown factors at this point. Has the al-Sadr Mahdi Army ceased being an effective military force? Is there some overall objective in the mind of the cleric? Time will tell.

Death And The Wounded Alive In Iraq

American military forces suffered among the highest losses in killed and wounded in months. Suspected Shiite militants send rockets and mortars into the US proteced Green Zone which resulted in the death of two American soldiers with about 17 wounded. The attacks ocurred as US and Iraq units fought members of the Mahdi militia in Sadr City. In separate attacks on a base in the southwestern Baghdad area of Rustamiyah, another US soldier was killed and fourteen wounded. These deaths raised to 4018 the number of Americans killed in the war in Iraq. It also meant the number of wounded in the conflict was now approaching the 30,000 figure.

The Bush adminsitration and Republican candidate John McCain continue insisting that military force is the key element in achieving peace in Iraq. Muqtada al-Sadr has called for a million person march on Wednesday to protest the fifth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad to American troops. Mortar shells are now falling every day and Iraq civilians and American soldiers continue dying. Iraq needs a government in which Sunni and Shiites work together in a spirit of reconciliation if peace is ever to be achieved. John McCain can urge more surges but, in the end, a political solution offers the best guarantee of peace.

Iraq Government Offense In Basra Stalls

The Iraq army’s offensive against the Shiite militia of Muqtada al-Sadr apparently has stalled in its efforts to dislodge them from positions in Basra. The American military expected the Iraq army offense to demonstrate the success of US training efforts and make clear the government of Prime Minister Maliki was in control of the country. Instead of being a show of strength, the assault has encountered fierce opposition from opponents. Saboteurs blew up one of the two main oil export pipelines near Basra and cut by one-third exports of crude oil. In Baghdad, tens of thousands of supporters of al-Sadr marched through the streets shouting anti-Maliki slogans. “We demand the downfall of the Maliki government,” said Hussein Abu Ali, a demonstrator, “it does not reprsent the people. It represents Bush and Cheney.”

The main bastion of al-Sadr supporters is Sadr City which contains about two milliion people and the densely packed slum area has been sealed off by US troops. People are trapped inside without adqequate food, water, and electricity. In Basra, the Iraq army has cordoned off several districts but has failed in its attempt to dislodge Mahdi militia. The Iraq government says at least 51 are dead and hundeds wouonded as a result of the fighting.

President Bush offered congragulations to the Maliki government saying it faces a “tough battle against militia fighters and criminals.” The Iraq force of 15,000 soldiers and police is certainly insufficient to handle an area of two miillion people. At some point, the Maliki government will have to switch its efforts to the political arena since further military action is only bound to exacerbate the situation.