Bombs Go Off In Baghdad
Posted 27 October 2003 - 08:27 AM
At least 34 people have been killed in a series of apparently co-ordinated suicide bomb attacks in central Baghdad.
The attacks, which wounded at least 224 people, targeted the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross and four police stations across the city.
The first bomb appears to have been packed into an ambulance, which exploded as it entered the gates of Red Cross building. The other attacks came within about an hour.
The casualty toll makes it the bloodiest day in the Iraqi capital since Saddam Hussein's regime fell to US-led forces in April.
Iraq's interim Deputy Interior Minister Ahmed Ibrahim said 26 civilians and eight policemen were killed.
"There are intelligence indicators that these attacks seem to have the mode of operations of foreign fighters," said a US military spokesman, Brigadier General Mark Hertling.
Without a doubt what happened here today will affect any decision on what our future role here will be
But he stressed that, although co-ordinated, the attacks - on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan - were "not synchronised" and "not very professional".
He praised Iraqi police for having prevented all but two of the suicide bombers from getting near to their targets. The civilian death toll could have been much higher, he said.
But in one of the police station attacks, a bomber was "disguised as an Iraqi policeman in an Iraqi police car," he said.
The BBC's security correspondent says intelligence experts believe al-Qaeda could have been involved in Monday's bombings.
Mr Hertling gave the following local timings for the attacks:
0830 - al-Baya police station
0835 - Red Cross HQ
0855 - al-Shab police station
0915 - al-Khadra police station
1015 - Thwarted attack on al-Jadriya police station.
They follow a rocket attack on Sunday on the heavily-guarded Rashid Hotel, where US Deputy Secretary of State Paul Wolfowitz was staying. That attack killed a US colonel and wounded 17 people.
Grey smoke billowed over the scene of the attack on the ICRC, ambulances rushed to the scene and helicopters circled overhead as US troops moved to seal off the area.
Twelve people died in the attack, the ICRC said, including two Iraqi security guards and several passers-by. Witnesses said the driver of the vehicle which exploded was among the dead.
The ICRC says it is now reviewing its activities in Iraq.
In the fifth, foiled attack police officers stopped an apparent suicide bomber before he could detonate his vehicle.
"He was shouting, 'Death to the Iraqi police! You're collaborators!'" said police sergeant Ahmed Abdel Sattar.
The ICRC expressed dismay at the bombing.
"We are deeply shocked... because it is an attack against the ICRC... and that means, of course, a deliberate attack against our protective emblem and against our work," said chief spokeswoman Antonella Notari at the organisation's Geneva headquarters.
MAJOR BOMB ATTACKS
26 October: Rocket attack on Baghdad's Rashid Hotel kills one, injures 17
12 October: Suicide car bomb outside Baghdad Hotel - six killed
9 October: Suicide car bomb hits police station in the northeast Shia district Sadr City - at least 10 killed
29 August: Car bomb at mosque near Najaf - 125 killed including Shia Islam top cleric
19 August: UN headquarters, Baghdad - 23 killed, including Sergio Vieira de Mello, veteran official
7 August: Jordanian Embassy - at least 14 killed
A spokeswoman in Baghdad said she could not understand why the ICRC had been targeted after two decades of humanitarian work in Iraq.
"We believe we have to stay here because we have an important job to do for the Iraqis," said spokeswoman Nada Doumani.
"We only have a few foreigners here as we rely on our Iraqi brethren. This is a hideous act, a reprehensible act against the ICRC.
"Without a doubt, what happened here today will affect any decision on what our future role here will be."
Many aid agencies scaled back their work in Iraq following an attack on the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad in August that killed 23 people including the top UN envoy to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello.
US troops killed
The US military said on Monday that three US soldiers had been killed and four wounded in two separate attacks.
Two soldiers were killed and two wounded on Sunday in Baghdad after their patrol was targeted by a roadside bomb.
Later on Sunday, another US soldier was killed and two wounded in a mortar attack on Abu Gharib prison, outside the capital.
The attacks raised to 112 the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq since President George Bush declared major hostilities over on 1 May.
The US administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, has warned that coalition forces are facing increasingly sophisticated attacks from those opposed to a foreign military presence in the country.
Mr Bremer said on Sunday there was evidence that what he described as terrorist groups were becoming better organised and more sophisticated.
Secretary of State Colin Powell has admitted that the US did not anticipate such sustained attacks in Iraq.
"We did not expect it would be quite this intense this long," Mr Powell told NBC television.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2003/10/27 13:54:30 GMT
© BBC MMIII
Posted 27 October 2003 - 09:13 AM
Posted 28 October 2003 - 07:33 PM
The Mideast and its world
Yes, General Hertling, foreign fighters are the problem in Iraq
Rami G. Khouri
MY VOTE for the Strange Statement of the Week Award goes to Brigadier General Mark Hertling, deputy commander of the First Armoured Division of the US Army, stationed in Iraq, who told reporters Monday that the coordinated bombings in Baghdad that day were the work of “foreign fighters”. As if Brigadier General Hertling were a favourite son of Tikrit, raised on date palms and memories of Haroon Al Rasheed! What kind of insulting nonsense is this? He gets the award for the sheer audacity and haughty self-indulgence of being a foreign fighter in Iraq blaming other foreign fighters for the violence there.
We must navigate this slippery ground if we wish to end the military, intellectual, moral and political violence that defines many aspects of Iraq today. The Americans in Iraq, like the Israelis in Gaza, want the world to believe that evil people who hate goodness, democracy and freedom are waging a campaign that must be stamped out by the force of Good Guy Guns. The actions of the Americans and Israelis, respectively, are not factored into the equation of events on the ground or how the human mind works. This is a form of intellectual terror that is as dangerous as the terror of bombs on the street, and it must be fought just as hard.
The rest of the world takes a more complete and accurate view of the violence in Palestine-Israel and Iraq. It notes that occupation, resistance and assorted degrees of terror (by sovereign states and non-state groups) occur in a linear manner: occupation breeds resistance. This, subsequently and predictably, becomes a cycle of violence that engulfs occupier, occupied, innocent bystanders and other interested third parties who join the fray.
The US wants the world to believe that evil emanates unilaterally from the twisted minds of those who hate freedom and America, and manifests itself in the form of terror attacks such as we witness in Iraq. But the world is not buying this line because this is the sort of lying that our parents taught us to resist, and the sort of political and moral terror that the United Nations Charter was designed to negate.
Rather, the reality is more nuanced, less simplistic and goes something like this: Saddam Hussein ran an evil and terrible regime that caused the Iraqi people great suffering. The world is delighted that he is gone. His removal by the unilateral force of Anglo-American arms has generated a different kind of suffering for many Iraqis, including security concerns, infrastructural problems, political uncertainties and tensions, and degradations and humiliations that are inherent in foreign occupations and the sort of social engineering the US is trying to achieve in recreating Iraq. The Anglo-American assault has also generated new concerns among other peoples in the region who fear the consequences of simplistic American formulae for changing regimes and remaking societies largely in its own image.
The Americans arrogantly portray the choice in Iraq as either the evil of Saddam or the promise of Paul Bremer. This, too, the world is not buying. The world is not that uncomplicated or black and white, regardless of how comfortable the White House is with such simple-mindedness. This paint-and-think-by-numbers approach to the world has unravelled before the realities on the ground.
Most of the peoples in the Middle East and throughout the world today reject the American attempt to blame small groups of terrorists for the violence in Iraq without considering the wider context of the terror. I would guess that most of the world sincerely condemns the terror, delights in the Iraqi people's liberation from the terrible former regime, and sees the end of the violence coming through a speedy, orderly Anglo-American exit from Iraq, and a resumption of Iraqi sovereignty, as per the wishes of the Iraqis themselves.
In other words, the problem in Iraq is both the “foreign fighters” who bomb innocent civilians and foreign occupiers, and the “foreign fighters” from the US, UK, Poland, Spain and other distant and alien lands who perpetuate the distortions and stresses that are inherent in the regime change phenomenon. The record is increasingly clear: three American-driven regime changes in Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq have given the world three twisted and violent lands. Foreign soldiers cannot bring peace to distant lands.
Political terror and the terror of bombs have now come together in the lands where America and Israel have sought and made regime changes. Bremer and Osama Ben Laden clearly are not synonymous or morally equivalent. They operate according to very different goals, stimuli and values. But the consequences of their policies end up being very similar — especially when viewed through the eyes of innocent civilians dying on the streets of their own cities, whether in New York or Baghdad.
Wednesday, October 29
Posted 29 October 2003 - 05:04 PM
Posted 29 October 2003 - 06:00 PM
First please select an appropriate name "Jewish friend” sounds too kitschy. What do you mean by the above quote? Please elaborate if you can. Just because the wife of king Hussein deceased is American-so what…
what you read is not necessarily what they mean...
Edited by Armat, 29 October 2003 - 06:01 PM.
Posted 29 October 2003 - 06:25 PM
Thomas L. Friedman: Starting from scratch in Iraq
Tuesday, September 2, 2003
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, New York Times News Service
As I was riding back from the U.N. office in Baghdad a few days ago, I came to an intersection where an Iraqi civilian in a brown robe was directing traffic. I don't know whether he was a good samaritan or simply out of his mind, but he had a big smile on his face and was waving cars here and there with the flourish of a symphony conductor. Some cars obeyed his directives, and others didn't (there are still virtually no working stoplights in Baghdad), but he was definitely better than nothing — and he was definitely having a good time.
Thomas L. Friedman writes about foreign affairs.
This man came to mind as I thought about the debate over whether we have enough troops in Iraq. The truth is, we don't even have enough people to direct traffic. This troops issue, though, is more complicated than it seems — because it's not just about numbers. No, what we need in Iraq today is something more complex: We need the right mentality, the right Iraqi government and the right troops. Let me explain.
Let's start with mentality. We are not "rebuilding" Iraq. We are "building" a new Iraq — from scratch. Not only has Saddam Hussein's army, party and bureaucracy collapsed, but so, too, has the internal balance between Iraqi Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, which was held together by Saddam's iron fist. Also, the reporting on Iraq under Saddam rarely conveyed how poor and rundown Saddam had made it. Iraq today is the Arab Liberia. In short, Iraq is not a vase that we broke to remove the rancid water inside, and now we just need to glue it back together. We have to build a whole new vase. We have to dig the clay, mix it, shape it, harden it and paint it. (This is going to cost so much more than President Bush has told us.)
Which leads to the second point. Yes, we need more boots on the ground, but we also need the right mix: military police, experts in civilian affairs and officers who know how to innovate. Sure, there is still a guerrilla war to be won, but the main task today for U.S. soldiers in Iraq is political: helping towns get organized, opening schools and managing the simmering tensions between, and within, different ethnic groups. If Bulgarian or Polish troops can help do that, bring 'em on. If not, stay home.
Just ask Col. Ralph Baker, commander of the Second Brigade, who oversees two Baghdad districts. He and his officers have been conducting informal elections for local councils and getting neighborhoods to nominate their own trusted police.
"First we taught them how to run a meeting," he told me in his Baghdad office. "We had to teach them how to have an agenda. So instead of having this sort of group dialogue with no form, which they were used to, you now see them in council meetings raising their hands to speak. They get five minutes per member. It's basic PTA stuff. We've taught them how to motion ideas and vote on them ... I have them prioritizing every school in their districts — which they want fixed first. I have to build credibility by making sure that every time they establish a priority, it gets done. That helps them establish credibility with their constituents ... There is a big education process going on here that is democratically founded. The faster we get Iraqis taking responsibility, the faster we get out of here."
And that leads to the third point: We need to get the 25-person Iraqi Governing Council to do three things — now. It must name a cabinet, so Iraqis are running every ministry; announce a 300,000-person jobs program, so people see some tangible benefits delivered by their own government; and offer to immediately rehire any Iraqi army soldier who wants to serve in the new army, as long as he was not involved in Saddam's crimes. It was a huge — huge — mistake to disband the Iraqi army and put all those unemployed soldiers on the streets, without enough U.S. troops to take their place.
Together, all of this would put much more of an Iraqi face on the government and security apparatus, and begin to reclaim the mantle of Iraqi nationalism for the new government, taking it away from Saddam loyalists — who are trying to make a comeback under the phony banner of liberating Iraq from foreign occupation.
Again, I have to repeat the dictum of Harvard's president, Larry SummersIn the history of the world, no one has ever washed a rented car." Most Iraqis still feel they are renting their own country — first from Saddam and now from us. They have to be given ownership. If the Bush team is ready to put in the time, energy and money to make that happen — great. But if not, it's going to have to make the necessary compromises to bring in the U.N. and the international community to help.
Edited by Armat, 29 October 2003 - 06:27 PM.
Posted 29 October 2003 - 07:50 PM
Posted 29 October 2003 - 08:12 PM
: something that appeals to popular or lowbrow taste and is often of poor quality
Kitsch is a German term that has been taken over into English that categorizes mundane, folksy, or commercial art, particularly when viewed condescendingly and with irony. The irony generally has the subtext: "This stuff is so bad, it is good."
Posted 29 October 2003 - 08:31 PM
It seems there is an assumption that we Armenians hate Jews, Turks or Persians or whatever (unless one writes friend...)and people should have enough guts, honesty without resorting to clichés.
Posted 29 October 2003 - 09:14 PM
Posted 31 October 2003 - 09:52 PM
ANKARA (AFP) — Though Ankara officially stands ready to send troops into Iraq, Turks were clearly relieved that the risky mission was ruled out after Washington backed down on the idea under stiff opposition from Baghdad's interim government.
"Deep down they are very pleased with this," said Ilnur Cevik, editor-in-chief of the English-language Turkish Daily News, in comments published on Thursday.
President Ahmet Necdet Sezer announced Wednesday he considered the question of whether to dispatch Turkish soldiers to join the US-led occupation force to be "closed."
Though he said he spoke for himself and not for the government, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan echoed the view. "We are not counting on sending soldiers" to neighbouring Iraq, Erdogan said, stressing he felt a "consensus" was needed to endorse such a controversial move — requested by Washington after the US-led invasion ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul charged earlier in the week that the United States had handled the issue with "ineptitude," unable to persuade the US-backed Iraqi Governing Council of the value of bringing in a Turkish contingent to help in the bid to restore order and pave the way for elections in Iraq.
The country has remained racked by violence blamed by coalition leaders on both Saddam loyalists and Islamic militant infiltrators. Washington has seen more US troops die since hostilities were officially declared over on May 1 than during the prior six-week offensive.
Cevik contended that the US back-pedalling however works in Erdogan's favour.
On the one hand, he said, there will be no loss of Turkish lives to further rile the majority of Turks dead set against sending in troops to join the US-led coalition.
On the other hand, by officially standing ready to send in soldiers, Erdogan "repairs the damage that was done with the first motion in March" when the Turkish parliament refused to allow the United States, its NATO ally, to use its territory as a springboard to attack Iraq.
Three weeks ago, Turkish lawmakers voted in favour of the deployment despite the widespread public opposition, which opinion polls put at 80 per cent.
Erdogan was also seen as being spared any more friction with Turkey's powerful military — which views itself the guardian of Turkey's secular status and views Erdogan's Islamist roots with suspicion. Keeping the military out of Iraq, observers say, will also keep their influence at bay.
The Americans have not officially renounced Turkish help, even if a top Washington hawk Paul Wolfowitz, the Pentagon's number two, said Wednesday the foreign military presence in Iraq was already touchy enough without bringing in soldiers from neighbouring countries.
The Americans have the lion's share of occupying troops in Iraq — out of about 155,000 soldiers from 34 countries, they have deployed 130,000.
The Turkish army — which was the first to speak out here in favour of sending up to 10,000 troops to join the US-led coalition in Iraq — was seen as counting on using the move to strengthen its fight against Turkish Kurdish rebels who have fled across the border.
Some 5,000 militants from the biggest Turkish Kurdish separatist group the Kurdish Labour Party (PKK, now renamed KADEK), which has waged a 15-year bloody armed campaign for self-rule in southeastern Turkey, are said to be holed up in mountainous northeast Iraq.
Friday-Saturday, October 31-November 1, 2003
Posted 31 October 2003 - 11:09 PM
Posted 02 November 2003 - 09:33 PM
Iraq is not another Vietnam, it is worse
By Naseer Alomari
THE MOST important question concerning Iraq nowadays seems to be whether the latter is another Vietnam or not. I would mention some reasons why Iraq is shaping up to be worse than Vietnam for the United States of America.
Unlike Vietnam, America has no way out of Iraq without paying a heavy strategic price. Indeed, the American withdrawal from Vietnam was a serious strategic defeat that may have prolonged the cold war, but somehow America learned many lessons from its defeat and went on to defeat communism and become a sole superpower.
In contrast, withdrawing from Iraq prematurely will undermine America's stature in the Middle East as a mobile superpower that can support allies and defeat enemies. Withdrawal from Iraq as a result of mounting and endless casualties will make coming back for future militarily intervention impossible politically.
As the European Union, China and even India, to name a few, prepare to become potential strategic United States competitors in the Middle East in the not so distant future, withdrawal from Iraq without establishing a friendly government will embolden the competition that had challenged the United States throughout the Iraq situation. They will be more than happy to step in if America is driven out of Iraq under the blows of Iraqi insurgents.
There is little disagreement among serious American politicians today that withdrawal from Iraq is really bad for America as a superpower. So, if premature withdrawal is bad strategically, is staying any better? Not really. If the volume and sophistication of the attacks against the Americans improve, as it has been the case over the last six months, then all the Americans can expect is more death, chaos and lawlessness which, in time, will lead to more attacks by neutral Iraqis who have been waiting patiently for the Americans to fulfil their promises of more democracy and less violence.
Why would more Iraqis join the fight against the Americans? Well, Iraqis are getting killed everyday at the hands of nervous American soldiers and of insurgents; America did not have many Iraqi friends over the last twelve years or so of sanctions; the Bush administration has been catastrophic in its anti-Arab actions and statements; and Ariel Sharon has been given a green light to kill as many Palestinians as he wishes. Hence, failing to fulfil its promises of a better, safer life and of a speedy withdrawal will trigger Iraqis to believe that America's presence is just a nasty occupation, like the one it supports against the Palestinians. A well-armed Iraqi Intifada may thus get under way.
Bad exit options make Iraq potentially worse than Vietnam. Those who have lately stated that Iraq is not another Vietnam are betting that resistance will subside. Maybe the White House gave them that impression.
It is only one or two soldiers a day who get killed in Iraq, they say. In Vietnam, a hundred soldiers or more died everyday. That definitely makes it better than Vietnam. Wrong! The problem with that assumption is that Americans, as recent polls have shown, do not share the neoconservatives' enthusiasm for a new Roman Empire. The figures show that, other than loyal Republican males, Americans do not share the Bush administration's tolerance for bad news coming out of Iraq.
Anger has been slowly but surely rising as American youngsters are fed to the beast of insurgency that has shown stamina and, recently, sophistication.
The American people will not stand back while soldiers are picked off one by one for no purpose. In Vietnam, the justification for tolerating high casualties was acceptable to some Americans: the communists needed to be stopped; America needed to stand by its allies; and freedom was in danger. The American people understood the risks for a while before most of them decided that even those reasons were not good enough for thousands of American soldiers to be killed.
In contrast, what does George W. Bush have to say to his people about the daily death of Americans in Iraq? How does he drum up support for this war in Iraq? Would he start by admitting that he lied about Saddam Hussein's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction? Or will he apologise for wanting to get on with a war for the aftermath of which he ignored to plan? Better yet, maybe he will tell the American people that he has no exit strategy. Since a good justification for the war on Iraq never existed, the latter is worse than Vietnam.
Iraq is also worse than Vietnam because if this daily killing of Iraqis and Americans continues, and it looks like it will, America will have two bad choices: withdraw and lose the Middle East or stay and prepare for another Vietnam.
This is why America's real friends opposed the war. They hated to see America in a dilemma. On the other hand, radical Zionists and neoconservatives had one objective: to make sure no Iraqi missiles will ever fall in Israel. That, they achieved. The only problem is that American soldiers are being hit by the same missiles instead.
The writer is a Jordanian assistant professor of English education at Ittihad University, UAE. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.
Monday, November 3, 2003
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