Friday, March 21, 2008
News Fro9m Iraq -= March 21, '08
21st March 2008
Pentagon Politics: Fallon (L) is out, and Petraeus is in
Inside the Pentagon, turmoil over the war has increased. Top levels of the military leadership remain divided over war strategy and the pace of troop cuts. Tension has risen along with concern over the strain of unending cycles of deployments. In one camp are the ground commanders, including Gen. David H. Petraeus, who have pushed to keep a large troop presence in Iraq, worried that withdrawing too quickly will allow violence to flare. In the other are the military service chiefs who fear that long tours and high troop levels will drive away mid-level service members, leaving the Army and Marine Corps hollowed out and weakened.
President Bush, in marking the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion Wednesday, said he would not approve any U.S. troop withdrawals that could jeopardize security gains already made there. Indeed, top leaders at the Pentagon emphasize that any withdrawals must be done with that in mind, and few are pushing for a complete pullout. Still, there are sharp differences that carry broad implications for the U.S. involvement in Iraq.
(Many have speculated that Admiral Fallon was forced out in preparation for an attack on Iran, but I think it’s more likely that he was forced out because he wanted to bring more troops back from Iraq. –g)
The Washington Times reported that “a secret intelligence assessment of the first battle of Fallujah shows that the U.S. military thinks that it lost control over information about what was happening in the town, leading to ‘political pressure’ that ended its April 2004 offensive with control being handed to Sunni insurgents.”
According to the article “Crucial to the failure…was the role of the Arabic satellite news channels Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya… ‘They filmed scenes of dead babies from the hospital… Comparisons were made to the Palestinian intifada. Children were shown bespattered with blood; mothers were shown screaming and mourning day after day.’”
The damning part of this article, which explains why Western mainstream media has continued to turn a blind eye to what happened in Fallujah is presented in the last two paragraphs. “…later in 2004, when U.S.-led forces successfully retook Fallujah, they brought with them 91 embedded reporters representing 60 press outlets, including Arabic ones. ‘False (sic) allegations of non-combatant casualties were made by Arab media in both campaigns, but in the second case embedded Western reporters offered a rebuttal,’ the authors said.”
Iraq has a large water and sanitation network, but it is in a critical state of disrepair. System failures are a daily fact of life. Efforts to fix the country’s municipal pipes and treatment plants – damaged by the impact of a decade of sanctions and war – have been seriously undermined by chronic under-investment, frequent power shortages, lack of qualified personnel, illegal water tapping and acts of sabotage. As a result, less than half of Iraq’s population can claim reliable access to potable water.
Iraqi security forces clashed with Shiite militia fighters southeast of Baghdad on Friday, the second day of fighting that killed at least two police officers and two gunmen, police said. The fighting in the city of Kut broke out after factions of the Mahdi Army militia attacked checkpoints around the city amid a crackdown by Iraqi troops.
A joint U.S.-Iraqi operation also targeted a Shiite militia stronghold in the volatile city of Diwaniyah, 80 miles south of Baghdad, and at least 12 suspected fighters were detained, local police said. The U.S. military had no immediate comment.
(We’ve been seeing a lot more clashes involving Shiite militants lately, as the ceasefire that was recently extended by Muqtada al-Sadr is put under strain. Also, Sunni allies of the US are threatening to go on strike, claiming that they haven’t been paid [VIDEO] –g)
Other War News
President Bush contended that Iran has “declared they want a nuclear weapon to destroy people” and that the Islamic Republic could be hiding a secret program. Iran, however, has never publicly proclaimed a desire for nuclear weapons and has repeatedly insisted that the uranium enrichment program it’s operating in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions is for civilian power plants, not warheads.
There are only two plausible possibilities which could account for McCain’s false statements: (1) he was engaged in the standard tactic of war advocates — perpetrated ever since 9/11 — of just asserting that disparate (and even warring) Muslim factions are allies with one another in the Endless War without there being any evidence that this is so (Saddam loves Al Qaeda which loves Hezbollah which loves the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood which loves Iran which loves the Taliban which loves Hamas which loves Osama bin Laden, etc. etc.), or (2) McCain is just completely ignorant of the most elementary facts about the region and the war in which the media has decreed him to be a Great Expert.
Thousands of demonstrators torched Dutch and Danish flags in the Afghan capital Kabul Friday in the latest of a wave of protests against cartoons and a film said to insult Islam, police said. The demonstrators gathered following Friday prayers from various mosques chanting “Death to George W. Bush. Death to the Jews and Christians. This is a plot against Islam,” an AFP reporter at the scene said.
There have been protests in most of Afghanistan’s main cities against the reprinting of Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed as well as an anti-Koran film set to be released this month by a far-right Dutch lawmaker.
(It seems clear that the bigotry of many Dutch and Danish people is impairing the fight against the Taliban and other extremists in the Middle East and Central Asia. –g)
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Labels: Iraq News 3-21-08
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