The spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has said that the number of missing persons in Iraq rose to one million people, according to Iraqi official reports released recently.
“The number of persons missing since the Iraq-Iran war rose from 375,000 to 1,000,000,” Hesham Hassan told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). Article
Competing aseertions of cause, competing co-options of the aftermath of chaos for political aims.
The US military said American soldiers and Iraqi forces had arrested 11 suspected extremists in Karbala since Wednesday.
It was not known whether the detained people were involved in the Karbala firefights.
The Imam Hussein shrine in Karbala, meanwhile, saw a few hundred Shiites attend Friday prayers amid tight security. The shrine usually sees thousands of devotees on Friday.
Leading the prayers, imam Abdel Mahdi Karbalae, a representative of senior Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called Tuesday’s clashes the result of an “organised” plan.
“We have intelligence information which indicates there was an organised plot to cause clashes and create chaos,” he told the congregation, holding up a letter from “intelligence sources.”
He did not say who allegedly masterminded the fighting. Article
Maliki and his senior aides including ministers of defense and interior rushed to Karbala but they could almost do nothing despite the heavy presence of Iraqi police, security and army.
Residents say many police officers in the city refused to fight or simply left the scene of clashes. Now Maliki has ordered the expulsion of what he has described as “defeatist elements in the police force who did not shoulder their duties in confronting the gunmen.”
But if Maliki carries through his threat of dismissing the police officers and other security personnel who did not move a finger while innocent Iraqis were being gunned to death, he will have to sack the entire Iraqi police force and security personnel.
Iraq’s new police and security forces are built on sectarian and factional lines and members owe their allegiance to their sects and factions rather than the national government – if there is such a government in Iraq.
Residents and pilgrims give a version of events which runs contrary to that of the government. They speak of popular discontent and anger which many pilgrims vented during the ceremony.
Not only bullets were used in the clashes. Many pilgrims resorted to stones and sticks to attack government-appointed guards of the shrine as well as officials. Article
Another related piece weaving other scenarios here.
So how’s that training going?
An independent panel established by the US Congress will recommend a complete overhaul of Iraq’s national police to purge it of corrupt officers and Shiite militants suspected of complicity in sectarian killings, the New York Times reported Thursday.
The commission concludes that the rampant sectarianism that has existed since the formation of the 26,000-strong force requires that its current units “be scrapped” and reshaped into a smaller, more elite organization, a senior US official familiar with the findings was quoted as saying.
The recommendation is that “we should start over,” the official said, according to the Times, which spoke with US administration and military officials about the panel’s findings. Article
Op-ed du jour:
…it is both cruel and foolish for the United States to ignore the plight of more than two million others who have fled and are struggling to survive in Syria and Jordan. The United States pledge this week of $30 million to help educate Iraqi refugees in the region is dwarfed by the need.
Dealing with the refugee crisis is vital to the national security of the United States. Continuing indifference to suffering that we had a strong hand in causing will turn our Muslim supporters against us. More important, it repudiates the fundamental values of our country and costs Iraqis their lives.
The administration has promised to resettle 7,000 Iraqi refugees by September. By the beginning of August, it had brought in just 190. Jordan has taken in some 700,000 Iraqi refugees – equivalent to more than 10 percent of its own population. Syria has taken in more than 1.2 million, and significant numbers are in Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey, Iran and the Persian Gulf states. Unlike the United States, none of these countries are well prepared to integrate refugees. Sectarian fighting has paralyzed the Lebanese government, Jordan is water poor, and Syria struggles with a poor economy and high unemployment. At a recent conference in the region, these countries pleaded for international help to deal with the crisis.
So while tiny Jordan struggles to cope with 700,000 refugees, the United States will not meet a goal of only 7,000. The United States is sending a clear message to the refugees and the countries sheltering them: you are on your own.
Without serious American or other international support, a downward spiral is beginning for the refugees and the Middle East. In Jordan, the cost of living has doubled for all residents, leading to sharp resentment against both the Iraqis and the government. In turn, the Jordanian government has denied most Iraqi refugees the right to work and restricted their access to health care.
Syria, one of the last countries to keep its borders open to the Iraqis, has suggested it cannot continue to do so much longer without some kind of international support. Social services there are collapsing, and poverty has driven many refugees toward desperation.
This strain could all have a terribly destabilizing effect on the Middle East.… Article
Even in clemency (if releasing the innocent and the unchraged can be called clemency), acting the part of the monarch.
Fifty Iraqi prisoners will be released on a daily basis from U.S. army detention in the country during the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, the office of Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashimi announced on Friday. Article
Politicizing everything. If one-tenth the effort were put into anything productive…
The sheets of paper seemed to be everywhere the lawmakers went in the Green Zone, distributed to Iraqi officials, U.S. officials and uniformed military of no particular rank. So when Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) asked a soldier last weekend just what he was holding, the congressman was taken aback to find out.
In the soldier’s hand was a thumbnail biography, distributed before each of the congressmen’s meetings in Baghdad, which let meeting participants such as that soldier know where each of the lawmakers stands on the war. “Moran on Iraq policy,” read one section, going on to cite some the congressman’s most incendiary statements, such as, “This has been the worst foreign policy fiasco in American history.”
Brief, choreographed and carefully controlled, the codels (short for congressional delegations) often have showed only what the Pentagon and the Bush administration have wanted the lawmakers to see. At one point, as Moran, Tauscher and Rep. Jon Porter (R-Nev.) were heading to lunch in the fortified Green Zone, an American urgently tried to get their attention, apparently to voice concerns about the war effort, the participants said. Security whisked the man away before he could make his point.
Tauscher called it “the Green Zone fog.”
It was the bio sheets that seemed to annoy the members of Congress the most. Just who assembled them is not clear. E-mails to U.S. Central Command’s public affairs office in Baghdad this week went unanswered.
“I had never seen that in the past. That’s new,” said Porter, who was on his fourth trip to Iraq. “Now I want to see what they’re saying about me,” he added, when he learned of the contents of his travel companions’ rap sheets.
For one, the quotations appeared to be selected to divide the visitors into those who are with the war effort and those who are against. For another, they were not exactly accurate. Article
Recently, an avid ThinkProgress reader – a U.S. soldier serving his second tour in Iraq – wrote to us and said that he can no longer access ThinkProgress.org. The error message he received:
The ban began sometime shortly after Aug. 22, when Ret. Maj. Gen. John Batiste was our guest blogger on ThinkProgress. He posted an op-ed that was strongly critical of the President’s policies and advocated a “responsible and deliberate redeployment from Iraq.”… Article
Once opened a crack, the door must now be flung open wide (emphasis added).
An American-owned company operating from Kuwait paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to American contracting officers in efforts to win more than $11 million in contracts, the government says in court documents.
The Army last month suspended the company, Lee Dynamics International, from doing business with the government, and the case now appears to be at the center of a contracting fraud scandal that prompted Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to dispatch the Pentagon inspector general to Iraq to investigate.
Court documents filed in the case say the Army took action because the company was suspected of paying hundreds of thousands in bribes to Army officers to secure contracts to build, operate and maintain warehouses in Iraq that stored weapons, uniforms, vehicles and other matériel for Iraqi forces in 2004 and 2005.
Details of the case have come to light because the company contested the Army’s decision, on July 9, to suspend it from obtaining contracts. That forced the government to disclose details in court papers, including a seven-page statement by an Army investigator.
Howell Roger Riggs, a lawyer or the company, denied the accusations and said the company was appealing to have the suspension lifted. Mr. Riggs acknowledged that the company was under a Justice Department investigation but said that no charges had been filed against the company or its officials.
The court papers make clear that investigators have concluded that Lee Dynamics paid large bribes to numerous United States officials in Iraq and Kuwait.… Article