Syndicated News from Iraq
Mon, 09 Dec 2013 10:55:18 GMT
Mon, 09 Dec 2013 09:03:29 GMT
Obama's IraqNational Review Online (blog)The Iraq War started with a level of bipartisan and popular support that Obamacare never had. Most Senate Democrats voted for the authorization of force in Iraq, while Republicans were nearly unanimous in opposition to Obamacare. But if the Iraq ...and more »
Mon, 09 Dec 2013 06:07:28 GMT
Mon, 09 Dec 2013 11:21:40 GMT
Mon, 09 Dec 2013 12:26:38 GMT
Car Bomb and Roadside Bombings Kill 18 in IraqABC NewsA series of attacks, including a car bomb outside a cafe, killed at least 18 people in Iraq on Monday, officials said. Iraqi authorities have struggled to quell a surge of violence that has swept across the country following a deadly security crackdown ...
Sun, 08 Dec 2013 10:53:42 GMT
Car bomb attacks across Iraq kill at least 39ReutersBAGHDAD (Reuters) - Car bombs killed at least 39 people across Iraq on Sunday and wounded more than 120, mainly targeting busy commercial streets in and around the capital, police sources said. The deadliest attack took place in the predominantly ...
Mon, 09 Dec 2013 11:27:42 GMT
Car bomb and roadside bombings kill 15 in IraqU-T San DiegoCitizens inspect the site of a car bomb attack in Sadr City neighborhood in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. Officials in Iraq say scores have been killed in at least 11 explosions tore through predominantly Shiite Muslim areas in and around the ...
Sun, 08 Dec 2013 19:33:40 GMT
Dozens of people killed in latest violence to hit IraqDeutsche WelleThe latest upsurge in violence began after security forces launched a deadly crackdown on a Sunni protest camp north of the capital back in April. Members of Iraq's Sunni minority say they face discrimination at the hands of the country's Shiite-led ...
Sun, 08 Dec 2013 17:27:19 GMT
Mon, 09 Dec 2013 10:44:21 GMT
Car Bomb Near Iraq Cafe Kills At Least 11RadioFreeEurope/RadioLibertyNo group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombings on December 8, but Al-Qaeda in Iraq has increased its grip on parts of the country since the escalation of the crisis in neighboring Syria and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011.
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Results 1 - 10 of Headlines for Iraq
Monday, February 9th, 2004
: RCN Administrator
...in case we forgot...
-- This is from a Marine stationed in Bagdad - with the notation:
"In case you come across anyone who stills thinks that the War in Iraq was a bad idea, show them this. Some GI's found this in one of Saddam's palaces in Baghdad."
Sunday, December 14th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
BAGHDAD, Iraq -
American forces captured a bearded Saddam Hussein, hiding in a hole in a farmhouse cellar near his hometown of Tikrit, the U.S. military announced Sunday. The arrest was carried out without a shot fired and was a victory for the U.S.-led coalition eight months after the fall of Baghdad.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we got him," U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer told a news conference. "The tyrant is a prisoner," Bremer said.
Bremer said that Saddam was captured Saturday at 8:30 p.m. in a cellar in the town of Adwar, 10 miles from Tikrit, ending one of the most intense manhunts in history.
In the capital, radio stations played celebratory music, residents fired small arms in the air in celebration and others drove through the streets, shouting, "They got Saddam! They got Saddam!"
At the news conference announcing his capture, U.S. forces aired a video showing a bearded Saddam being examined by a doctor holding his mouth open with a tongue depressor, apparently to get a DNA sample.
Then a video was shown of Saddam after he was shaved.
Iraqi journalists in the audience stood, pointed and shouted "Death to Saddam!" and "Down with Saddam!"
Saddam was being held at an undisclosed location and that U.S. authorities had not yet determined whether to hand him over to the Iraqis for trial, Sanchez said.
Forces from the 4th Infantry Division along with Special Forces captured Saddam, the U.S. military said. There were no shots fired or injuries in the raid, called "Operation Red Dawn," said Lt. Gen. Richardo Sanchez.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair welcomed Saddam's capture.
"This is very good news for the people of Iraq. It removes the shadow that has been hanging over them for too long of the nightmare of a return to the Saddam regime," he said in a statement released by his office.
Trapped in the cellar, Saddam was in a six-to-eight-foot-deep "spider hole" that had been camouflaged with bricks and dirt. The soldiers saw the hole, investigated and found him inside, Sanchez said.
The video showed an air vent and fan inside the hole to allow Saddam to remain hidden for an extended period.
Shop owners closed their doors, worried that all the shooting would make the streets unsafe.
"I'm very happy for the Iraqi people. Life is going to be safer now," said 35-year-old Yehya Hassan, a resident of Baghdad. "Now we can start a new beginning."
Earlier in the day, rumors of the capture sent people streaming into the streets of Kirkuk, a northern Iraqi city, firing guns in the air in celebration.
"We are celebrating like it's a wedding," said Kirkuk resident Mustapha Sheriff. "We are finally rid of that criminal."
"This is the joy of a lifetime," said Ali Al-Bashiri, another resident. "I am speaking on behalf of all the people that suffered under his rule."
In Tikrit, U.S. soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division, the unit that is responsible for security in Saddam's hometown, were smoking cigars after hearing the news of Saddam's capture.
Despite the celebration throughout Baghdad, many residents were skeptical.
"I heard the news, but I'll believe it when I see it," said Mohaned al-Hasaji, 33. "They need to show us that they really have him."
Ayet Bassem, 24, walked out of a shop with her 6-year-old son.
"Things will be better for my son," she said. "Everyone says everything will be better when Saddam is caught. My son now has a future."
"This success brings closure to the Iraqi people. We now have final resolution. Saddam Hussein will never return to a position of power from which he can punish, terrorize, intimidate and exploit the Iraqi people as the did for more than 35 years," Sanchez said.
After invading Iraq on March 20 and setting up their headquarters in Saddam's sprawling Republican Palace compound in Baghdad, U.S. troops launched a massive manhunt for the fugitive leader, placing a $25 million bounty on his head and sending thousands of soldiers to search for him.
Saddam's sons Qusai and Odai â€” each with a $15 million bounty on their heads â€” were killed July 22 in a four-hour gunbattle with U.S. troops in a hideout in the northern city of Mosul. The bounties were paid out to the man who owned the house where they were killed, residents said.
A Governing Council member, Jalal Talabani, told Iran's official news agency, IRNA, that Saddam's detention will bring stability to Iraq.
"With the arrest of Saddam, the source financing terrorists has been destroyed and terrorist attacks will come to an end. Now we can establish a durable stability and security in Iraq," Talabani was quoted as saying.
Sunday, December 14th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
Saddam Hussein has been captured in Iraq. This is the single most important event in Iraq since the end of major hostilities. It is not clear whether Hussein had operational control of the guerrillas, but it is clear that he was the symbol not only of resistance, but of American impotence. Moreover, whether in active control or not, he knows a great deal about the guerrilla movement, and the guerrillas cannot know whether he will talk. That means the guerrillas are in crisis, and their future is in doubt. It also means that in order to demonstrate their ongoing determination, they will have to retaliate soon -- and hard.
Saddam Hussein has been captured in Iraq. Most wars do not turn on the fate of any one man -- and in the end, Hussein's capture might not be decisive in ending the war, but it is certainly going to be significant. It will undermine, probably to a great extent, the fighting capacity of the guerrillas, certainly in the medium term.
Hussein had become a symbol of the resistance and of the failure of U.S. intelligence. So long as he was free, the guerrillas could take comfort in the idea that American forces were blind. However, as we have argued over the past weeks, that blindness had been subsiding. Hussein's capture proves that to a great extent, U.S intelligence in Iraq has penetrated the opacity of the guerrillas. If the United States could find Hussein, its forces could operate more effectively against the guerrillas.
That has to have a major effect on guerrilla morale. The best fighting force in the world -- and the Iraqi guerrillas are far from that -- needs hope of victory. The Iraqi guerrillas' hope of victory turned on the impotence of U.S. intelligence. The United States was able to destroy whatever it could see. If its vision had improved to the point of seeing and capturing Hussein, then it has improved enough to engage the guerrillas directly. The guerrillas must, as individuals, now be recalculating the probability of victory.
In addition, Hussein knows a great deal about the guerrillas' structure and plans. Even if he was not in direct operational command of the guerrillas, he certainly knows a great deal. The fact that he was taken alive rather than killed says a great deal about U.S. intentions to interrogate him. If he talks -- and while that is uncertain, we suspect the interrogation will be effective even if it does not resort to physical torture -- the United States will become even more effective in terms of intelligence.
Moreover, the guerrillas cannot possibly know whether he is going to talk. They must assume the worst-case scenario. Therefore, the guerrilla command must be calculating at this moment precisely what Hussein knows. Once they determine that -- and they will not be able to be certain what he does know -- they will have to make speedy adjustments in deployment and methods to counter what is likely to be a very rapid series of U.S. strikes based on that fact.
Others in Iraq, particularly the Shia, will see the capture of Hussein as potentially leading to a diminution in guerrilla operations among the Sunnis and, therefore, a potential decline in their own importance to Washington. They have been holding out in several areas before finalizing a deal with the United States. The value of that deal might decline in the coming days or weeks. At this point, the United States does not know what the consequences of Hussein's capture will be. Neither do the Shia, but they will have to calculate the worst from their point of iew: the decline of the guerrilla threat. The pressure on the Shia to close the deal is now more intense than it was before.
In the short run, the threat from the guerrillas actually increases. They cannot go quiet: Regardless of his importance in their campaign, the capture of Hussein forces them to increase operations if possible. If they go quiet, it will result in serious doubts among the ranks about the survival of the movement and the possibilities of defections or simple desertions. In order to prevent this, the guerrillas will need to strike quickly and effectively. Over the next 72 hours, the threat of counterattacks in Iraq will be substantial.
In the long run, the outcome is not at all clear. The guerrilla command certainly did not depend solely on Hussein. The movement's leaders might well be able to hold things together if they can get through the next few weeks. However, if the resistance continues, it is likely to strengthen the hand of foreign Islamist fighters over the indigenous, secular, Baathist guerrillas. As -- if -- these latter decline in strength and the war continues, their influence over the movement is likely to rise.
Under any circumstances, this is a massive psychological blow to the guerrillas -- and guerrilla war depends heavily upon psychological factors. The capture increases the credibility of
the United States dramatically and raises doubts about the viability of the guerrillas. There is no downside to the United States on this one -- save for inevitable criticisms as to whether he was treated humanely, which will start coming out of Europe in a matter of days
What to do with him is an interesting question. Following interrogation, he will be tried. He could be tried in Iraq, although the outcome there is uncertain, and the internal pressures could be substantial. An interesting choice would be to try him at The Hague. What makes that important is that, in spite of being an organ of the United Nations, the international war crimes tribunal is a heavily European institution in many respects. Sending him to The Hague would force the Europeans to take primary responsibility for judging Hussein. In so doing, it could shift European public opinion and the view of national governments.
U.S. President George W. Bush certainly needed this capture from a political standpoint. The vision of helplessness that had plagued U.S. policy in Iraq can be reversed by this action, assuming that any guerrilla counterattack is managed effectively and explained publicly. In any event, Bush will now be able to claim that in spite of his critics, he has quietly been pursuing the war and that the effectiveness of this strategy is now showing itself.
This might not have been a decisive day for the United States in the war, but it was not a trivial day. Indeed, it is reasonable to argue that this is the most important event since the end of major combat activities was announced. We will now find out what the guerrillas are made of -- and whatever the answer, that will be the most important piece of intelligence available. Good, bad or indifferent, U.S. leaders have got to know how resilient the guerrillas are. And they are about to find out.
Friday, December 5th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
We knew there was a dinner planned with Ambassador Bremer and LTG Sanchez.
There were 600 seats available and all the units in the division were tasked
with filling a few tables. Naturally, the 501st MI battalion got our table.
Soldiers were grumbling about having to sit through another dog-and-pony
show, so we had to pick soldiers to attend. I chose not to go. But, about
1500 the G2, LTC Devan, came up to me and with a smile, asked me to come to
dinner with him, to meet him in his office at 1600 and bring a camera. I
didn't really care about getting a picture with Sanchez or Bremer, but when
the division's senior intelligence officer asks you to go, you go.
We were seated in the chow hall, fully decorated for Thanksgiving when
aaaaallllll kinds of secret service guys showed up. That was my first clue,
because Bremer's been here before and his personal security detachment is
not that big.
Then BG Dempsey got up to speak, and he welcomed ambassador Bremer and LTG
Sanchez. Bremer thanked us all and pulled out a piece of paper as if to give
a speech. He mentioned that the President had given him this thanksgiving
speech to give to the troops. He then paused and said that the senior man
present should be the one to give it. He then looked at Sanchez, who just
smiled. Bremer then said that we should probably get someone more senior to
read the speech.
Then, from behind the camouflage netting, the President of the United States
came around. The mess hall actually erupted with hollering. Troops bounded
to their feet with shocked smiles and just began cheering with all their
hearts. The building actually shook. It was just unreal. I was absolutely
stunned. Not only for the obvious, but also because I was only two tables
away from the podium. There he stood, less than thirty feet away from me!
The cheering went on and on and on. Soldiers were hollering, cheering, and a
lot of them were crying. There was not a dry eye at my table. When he
stepped up to the cheering, I could clearly see tears running down his
cheeks. It was the most surreal moment I've had in years. Not since my
wedding and Aaron being born. Here was this man, our President, came all the
way around the world, spending 17 hours on an airplane and landing in the
most dangerous airport in the world, where a plane was shot out of the sky
not six days before. Just to spend two hours with his troops. Only to get on
a plane and spend another 17 hours flying back. It was a great moment, and I
will never forget it.
He delivered his speech, which we all loved, when he looked right at me and
held his eyes on me. Then he stepped down and was just mobbed by the
soldiers. He slowly worked his way all the way around the chow hall and
shook every last hand extended. Every soldier who wanted a photo with the
President got one. I made my way through the line, got dinner, then wolfed
it down as he was still working the room. You could tell he was really
enjoying himself. It wasn't just a photo opportunity. This man was actually
enjoying himself! He worked his way over the course of about 90 minutes
towards my side of the room.
Meanwhile, I took the opportunity to shake a few hands. I got a picture with
Ambassador Bremer, Talabani (acting Iraqi president) and Achmed Chalabi
(another member of the ruling council) and Condaleeza Rice, who was there
with him. I felt like I was drunk.
He was getting closer to my table so I went back over to my seat. As he
passed and posed for photos, he looked me in the eye and said, "How you
doin', captain." I smiled and said "God bless you, sir." To which he
responded "I'm proud of what you do, captain." Then moved on.
Monday, September 8th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
President Bush Addresses the Nation to Outline Iraq Strategy -- Address of the President to the Nation
The Cabinet Room
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. I have asked for this time to keep you informed of America's actions in the war on terror.
Nearly two years ago, following deadly attacks on our country, we began a systematic campaign against terrorism. These months have been a time of new responsibilities, and sacrifice, and national resolve and great progress.
America and a broad coalition acted first in Afghanistan, by destroying the training camps of terror, and removing the regime that harbored al Qaeda. In a series of raids and actions around the world, nearly two-thirds of al Qaeda's known leaders have been captured or killed, and we continue on al Qaeda's trail. We have exposed terrorist front groups, seized terrorist accounts, taken new measures to protect our homeland, and uncovered sleeper cells inside the United States. And we acted in Iraq, where the former regime sponsored terror, possessed and used weapons of mass destruction, and for 12 years defied ! the clear demands of the United Nations Security Council. Our coalition enforced these international demands in one of the swiftest and most humane military campaigns in history.
For a generation leading up to September the 11th, 2001, terrorists and their radical allies attacked innocent people in the Middle East and beyond, without facing a sustained and serious response. The terrorists became convinced that free nations were decadent and weak. And they grew bolder, believing that history was on their side. Since America put out the fires of September the 11th, and mourned our dead, and went to war, history has taken a different turn. We have carried the fight to the enemy. We are rolling back the terrorist threat to civilization, not on the fringes of its influence, but at the heart of its power.
This work continues. In Iraq, we are helping the long suffering people of that country to build a decent and democratic society at the center of the Middle East.! Together we are transforming a place of torture chambers and mass gra ves into a nation of laws and free institutions. This undertaking is difficult and costly -- yet worthy of our country, and critical to our security.
The Middle East will either become a place of progress and peace, or it will be an exporter of violence and terror that takes more lives in America and in other free nations. The triumph of democracy and tolerance in Iraq, in Afghanistan and beyond would be a grave setback for international terrorism. The terrorists thrive on the support of tyrants and the resentments of oppressed peoples. When tyrants fall, and resentment gives way to hope, men and women in every culture reject the ideologies of terror, and turn to the pursuits of peace. Everywhere that freedom takes hold, terror will retreat.
Our enemies understand this. They know that a free Iraq will be free of them -- free of assassins, and torturers, and secret police. They know that as democracy rises in Iraq, all of their hateful ambitions will fall like! the statues of the former dictator. And that is why, five months after we liberated Iraq, a collection of killers is desperately trying to undermine Iraq's progress and throw the country into chaos.
Some of the attackers are members of the old Saddam regime, who fled the battlefield and now fight in the shadows. Some of the attackers are foreign terrorists, who have come to Iraq to pursue their war on America and other free nations. We cannot be certain to what extent these groups work together. We do know they have a common goal -- reclaiming Iraq for tyranny.
Most, but not all, of these killers operate in one area of the country. The attacks you have heard and read about in the last few weeks have occurred predominantly in the central region of Iraq, between Baghdad and Tikrit -- Saddam Hussein's former stronghold. The north of Iraq is generally stable and is moving forward with reconstruction and self-government. The same trends are evident in the south, des! pite recent attacks by terrorist groups.
Though their attacks are localized, the terrorists and Saddam loyalists have done great harm. They have ambushed American and British service members -- who stand for freedom and order. They have killed civilian aid workers of the United Nations -- who represent the compassion and generosity of the world. They have bombed the Jordanian embassy -- the symbol of a peaceful Arab country. And last week they murdered a respected cleric and over a hundred Muslims at prayer -- bombing a holy shrine and a symbol of Islam's peaceful teachings.
This violence is directed not only against our coalition, but against anyone in Iraq who stands for decency, and freedom and progress.
There is more at work in these attacks than blind rage. The terrorists have a strategic goal. They want us to leave Iraq before our work is done. They want to shake the will of the civilized world. In the past, the terrorists have cited the examples of Beirut and Somalia, claiming that if you inflict harm on American! s, we will run from a challenge. In this, they are mistaken.
Two years ago, I told the Congress and the country that the war on terror would be a lengthy war, a different kind of war, fought on many fronts in many places. Iraq is now the central front. Enemies of freedom are making a desperate stand there -- and there they must be defeated. This will take time and require sacrifice. Yet we will do what is necessary, we will spend what is necessary, to achieve this essential victory in the war on terror, to promote freedom and to make our own nation more secure.
America has done this kind of work before. Following World War II, we lifted up the defeated nations of Japan and Germany, and stood with them as they built representative governments. We committed years and resources to this cause. And that effort has been repaid many times over in three generations of friendship and peace. America today accepts the challenge of helping Iraq in the same spirit -- for the! ir sake, and our own.
Our strategy in Iraq has three objectives: destroying the terrorists, enlisting the support of other nations for a free Iraq and helping Iraqis assume responsibility for their own defense and their own future.
First, we are taking direct action against the terrorists in the Iraqi theater, which is the surest way to prevent future attacks on coalition forces and the Iraqi people. We are staying on the offensive, with a series of precise strikes against enemy targets increasingly guided by intelligence given to us by Iraqi citizens.
Since the end of major combat operations, we have conducted raids seizing many caches of enemy weapons and massive amounts of ammunition, and we have captured or killed hundreds of Saddam loyalists and terrorists. So far, of the 55 most wanted former Iraqi leaders, 42 are dead or in custody. We are sending a clear message: anyone who seeks to harm our soldiers can know that our soldiers are hunting for them.
Second, we are committed to expanding international cooperation in the reconstruction and security of Iraq, just as we are in Afghanistan. Our military commanders in Iraq advise me that the current number of American troops -- near! ly 130,000 -- is appropriate to their mission. They are joined by over 20,000 service members from 29 other countries. Two multinational divisions, led by the British and the Poles, are serving alongside our forces -- and in order to share the burden more broadly, our commanders have requested a third multinational division to serve in Iraq.
Some countries have requested an explicit authorization of the United Nations Security Council before committing troops to Iraq. I have directed Secretary of State Colin Powell to introduce a new Security Council resolution, which would authorize the creation of a multinational force in Iraq, to be led by America.
I recognize that not all of our friends agreed with our decision to enforce the Security Council resolutions and remove Saddam Hussein from power. Yet we cannot let past differences interfere with present duties. Terrorists in Iraq have attacked representatives of the civilized world, and opposing them must be ! the cause of the civilized world. Members of the United Nations now ha ve an opportunity -- and the responsibility -- to assume a broader role in assuring that Iraq becomes a free and democratic nation.
Third, we are encouraging the orderly transfer of sovereignty and authority to the Iraqi people. Our coalition came to Iraq as liberators and we will depart as liberators. Right now Iraq has its own Governing Council, comprised of 25 leaders representing Iraq's diverse people. The Governing Council recently appointed cabinet ministers to run government departments. Already more than 90 percent of towns and cities have functioning local governments, which are restoring basic services. We're helping to train civil defense forces to keep order, and an Iraqi police service to enforce the law, a facilities protection service, Iraqi border guards to help secure the borders, and a new Iraqi army. In all these roles, there are now some 60,000 Iraqi citizens under arms, defending the security of their own country, and we are accelerating the trai! ning of more.
Iraq is ready to take the next steps toward self-government. The Security Council resolution we introduce will encourage Iraq's Governing Council to submit a plan and a timetable for the drafting of a constitution and for free elections. From the outset, I have expressed confidence in the ability of the Iraqi people to govern themselves. Now they must rise to the responsibilities of a free people and secure the blessings of their own liberty.
Our strategy in Iraq will require new resources. We have conducted a thorough assessment of our military and reconstruction needs in Iraq, and also in Afghanistan. I will soon submit to Congress a request for $87 billion. The request will cover ongoing military and intelligence operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, which we expect will cost $66 billion over the next year. This budget request will also support our commitment to helping the Iraqi and Afghan people rebuild their own nations, after de! cades of oppression and mismanagement. We will provide funds to help t hem improve security. And we will help them to restore basic services, such as electricity and water, and to build new schools, roads, and medical clinics. This effort is essential to the stability of those nations, and therefore, to our own security. Now and in the future, we will support our troops and we will keep our word to the more than 50 million people of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Later this month, Secretary Powell will meet with representatives of many nations to discuss their financial contributions to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Next month, he will hold a similar funding conference for the reconstruction of Iraq. Europe, Japan and states in the Middle East all will benefit from the success of freedom in these two countries, and they should contribute to that success.
The people of Iraq are emerging from a long trial. For them, there will be no going back to the days of the dictator, to the miseries and humiliation he inflicted on that good count! ry. For the Middle East and the world, there will be no going back to the days of fear, when a brutal and aggressive tyrant possessed terrible weapons. And for America, there will be no going back to the era before September the 11th, 2001 -- to false comfort in a dangerous world. We have learned that terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength; they are invited by the perception of weakness. And the surest way to avoid attacks on our own people is to engage the enemy where he lives and plans. We are fighting that enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan today so that we do not meet him again on our own streets, in our own cities.
The heaviest burdens in our war on terror fall, as always, on the men and women of our Armed Forces and our intelligence services. They have removed gathering threats to America and our friends, and this nation takes great pride in their incredible achievements. We are grateful for their skill and courage, and for their acts of decency, w! hich have shown America's character to the world. We honor the sacrifi ce of their families. And we mourn every American who has died so bravely, so far from home.
The Americans who assume great risk overseas understand the great cause they are in. Not long ago I received a letter from a captain in the 3rd Infantry Division in Baghdad. He wrote about his pride in serving a just cause, and about the deep desire of Iraqis for liberty. "I see it," he said, "in the eyes of a hungry people every day here. They are starved for freedom and opportunity." And he concluded, "I just thought you'd like a note from the 'front lines of freedom.'" That Army captain, and all of our men and women serving in the war on terror, are on the front lines of freedom. And I want each of them to know, your country thanks you, and your country supports you.
Fellow citizens: We've been tested these past 24 months, and the dangers have not passed. Yet Americans are responding with courage and confidence. We accept the duties of our generation. We are active! and resolute in our own defense. We are serving in freedom's cause -- and that is the cause of all mankind.
Thank you, and may God continue to bless America.
Tuesday, August 26th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
Quran (9:11) -- For it is written that a son of Arabia would awaken a fearsome Eagle. The wrath of the Eagle would be felt throughout the lands of Allah and lo, while some of the people trembled in despair still more
rejoiced; for the wrath of the Eagle cleansed the lands of Allah; and there was peace.
Note the verse number!!!!!
Tuesday, August 19th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
Many see the Iraqi leader’s decade-long religious campaign as just another political ploy. -- He's peppered his speeches with references to Muslim scripture, built some of Baghdad's most opulent--and militant--mosques, and reportedly had a Qur'an written in his blood. Yet most commentators say Saddam Hussein is not religious. Rather, the once avowedly secular Iraqi leader has used Islam to increase support for his regime.
When he came to power 30 years ago, Hussein's Baath Party was identified with a strongly secular Arabnationalism. Despite some concessions to the Muslim faithful made during the Khomeini era--including Hussein's inventing a lineage that connected him to a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad--the regime downplayed religion in the public square. In Baghdad, for example, women were less likely to wear headscarves than in neighboring Middle Eastern countries.
Hussein's secularism also extended to Iraq's tiny Christian community. His regime was tolerant of church activity and has cracked down on anti-Christian flareups as recently as the fall of 2002.
Himself a Sunni Muslim, Saddam has oppressed Shiite Muslims throughout his tenure as president. (Politically, the two sects are not unlike Catholics and Protestants in the West.) But he has made clear that his cause is not a sectarian one. In a 1978 speech following a Shiite uprising, Saddam argued that the party must "oppose the institutionalization of religion in the state and society...Let us return to the roots of our religion, glorifying them--but not introduce it into politics."
After the first Gulf War, pressure from several sides apparently forced him to rethink his policy. An embargo-weary populace was vulnerable to ultraconservative Muslim preachers from Iran and Saudi Arabia. To counter this influence, Hussein began manipulating religion for political ends. As anti-Western sentiment grew throughout the Middle East, he also saw in Islam a propaganda tool in his ongoing fight with the United States and the United Nations over his weapons programs.
Under his "faith campaign," begun in 1994, government money goes to promote mandatory Qur'an studies in schools. The campaign built training centers for imams (Muslim teachers), including Saddam College (for Iraqis) and Saddam University of Islamic Studies (for foreigners). Radio stations were dedicated to airing Qur'anic lessons, and alcohol was banned in restaurants. Even Baath party officials began taking courses in the Qur'an, and in the ubiquitous murals of the Iraqi leader, Saddam himself was often shown in prayer.
Mosque attendance had begun to increase when the sanctions were first imposed; it continued to rise, and more women began wearing veils. Contests in Qur'an recitation were held, with cash prizes given to the best reciters.
The "faith campaign" also encouraged mosque-building; Hussein himself planned to construct three gigantic mosques, which do as much to commemorate his regime as they do to honor the Prophet. The first one built, the "Mother of All Battles" (see photo), opened in 2001. Its Scud-shaped minarets, 37 meters high (Hussein was born in 1937), surround a central structure where a 605-page Qur'an is encased in glass. According to Iraqi officials, Hussein donated 50 pints of blood over three years to mix with ink for the book.
Has the faith campaign worked? Some Muslim leaders, especially in Baghdad, think Hussein was indeed "born again," and that his campaign reflects genuine religious conviction. But most are skeptical that Iraqis--especially the Shiites Hussein has traditionally oppressed--will rally behind Hussein as the charismatic religious leader he's presented to the public.
Friday, August 8th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
A Seabeeâ€™s First Hand Account of Life in Iraq -- Senior Chief Art Messer, a Navy Seabee serving with 22 Naval Construction
Regiment (Forward) Task Force Charlie in southern Iraq, shared his
perspective on post-war life in Iraq in a recent letter to American Legion
Post 45. With Messerâ€™s permission, DefendAmerica now shares his views with
Dear Post 45,
I caught wind of and read the recent news articles being circulated back there in the states. I figured I could clarify some things for you. As usual the news media has blown some things way out of proportion. The countryside is getting more safe by the day despite all the attacks you are hearing about. Imagine every shooting incident or robbery committed in LA or Portland being blown way out of proportion.
This is a country where most of the Saddam Hussein thugs are being chased around like scared rabbits by Coalition forces. There were about a million soldiers in the Iraqi army at the beginning of
hostilities and most of them took off before we attacked. There are some that were very loyal to Saddam that are trying to sneak around and take potshots at us. We are cleaning them up pretty fast.
There are also thugs from other countries running around, like Iran and Syria. Well, the Iraqis hate these thugs as much as we do. So the Iraqi people are hunting them down too! I can honestly say 98% of the population of Iraq love us and they do not want us to leave...ever! They say as long
as we are here they feel safe.
What is going on with the countries infrastructure? Everything is going well! The railroad is running again! The railroad has not run since 1991. In th city of Hillah, the power stays on 24 hours a day and it has more powe than prior to the war. Some Iraqis are worried about getting too much food from the coalition because they don't have enough room in their homes to store it. The Seabees have rebuilt all of the schools and put in furniture and chalkboards. The kids used to sit on the floor! Now they have nice desks to sit at. Commerce is running. New money is being printed. The Iraqi dinar has stabilized and is now increasing in value.
Most of the Iraqi men want to buy Chevy pickups (I told them a Dodge Ram with a Cummins Diesel is better Ha Ha). They pretty much want any vehicle made by General Motors. The highways and bridges are being repaired. In the Universities, the girls have tossed their deshakas (long black
dresses with head and face coverings) and are now wearing western style clothes and even some are wearing short sleeves. The favorite drink isPepsi, followed by Coke. They want us to bring them any and everything American. Any item made in America or that is from America is worth money
The newspapers and television paint a picture of doom and gloom and that we are having major problems over here. That is just not the case. The Iraqis have a saying about the situation over here "Every day is better than the day before". Life is flowing back into this country and it is fun to watch and I am so glad I got to watch it happen. Some days watching the Iraqi people is like watching the faces of little kids on Christmas Day! Many of them are walking around in a daze wondering what to do with their freedom.
They are starting businesses everywhere. They want to build shopping malls and factories, they want McDonalds and Jack in the Box and Pizza Hut. Of course anything American Fast Food, because of the stories the troops are telling them. We give them our old newspapers and magazines that you have been sending us and they are absolutely flabbergasted when they read them! (Editor's note, no doubt with all the craziness going on in America . . . maybe we should protect them from this insanity). They want us to keep bringing them. They read every single page even the advertisements
over and over!
So in short you see I will give you the straight scoop and keep you informed of what is up over here. I will sign off for now and send this along. Thanks again to all of you for your support. My mailing address has changed. The older one is no longer working. I will tell you the new one as soon as we get it.
Senior Chief Art Messer
22 Naval Construction Regiment (Forward) Task Force Charlie
U. S. Navy Seabees
"With Compassion For Others, We Build, We Fight, For Peace With Freedom"
Monday, July 21st, 2003
: RCN Administrator
SITUATION REPORTS - July 21, 2003
1150 GMT – FRANCE: France has launched an investigation into the July 20
bomb attack on a tax office in Nice that injured 16 people. No one has
claimed responsibility for the attack, in which two bombs exploded. However,
Corsican separatists, who called off a cease-fire during the week of July
14, are suspects in a similar attack on the same office six months ago.
1145 GMT – SOLOMON ISLANDS: The first contingent of Australian soldiers
slated to go to the Solomon Islands left aboard the naval frigate HMAS
Manoora on July 21. Defense Minister Sen. Robert Hill said that no timetable
has been set for the soldiers' return from the island. The rest of the
2,000-member force is expected on the island on July 24. Australian Prime
Minister John Howard decided to send the troops in hopes of containing the
island and keeping it from degenerating into a "lawless haven for
terrorists, drug runners and money launderers."
1129 GMT – IRAN: Iran armed its elite Revolutionary Guard with the Shahab-3
missile during a military inauguration ceremony July 20 as Iran's supreme
leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei looked on, state-run Iranian television
reported. The Shahad-3 has a range of 810 miles and can strike targets in
Iraq, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, U.S.
intelligence agencies have said that although the missile is suspected of
having this ability, Iran has not yet developed a completely reliable
1127 GMT – VENEZUELA: Venezuelan army commander Gen. Jorge Luis Garcia
Carneiro told Caracas television station Globovision on July 20 that it's
not likely a presidential recall referendum can be held in 2003 because "the
new National Electoral Council (CNE) still has to be named, the required
signatures have to be collected, the Permanent Electoral Registry (of
voters) has to be purged, election material has to be printed and the
personnel that will participate in the electoral process has to be trained."
1122 GMT – RUSSIA: Six Russian servicemen and three rebels were killed and
eight were wounded overnight on July 20 in a firefight near the village of
Dyshne-Vedeno, Interfax reported, citing sources inside the headquarters of
the Combined Federal Force in the Northern Caucasus. The incident occurred
when Russian forces intercepted the rebels, who reportedly were planning to
take over the village.
1118 GMT – CHINA: British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived in China on July
21 to meet with Chinese officials, including President Hu Jintao and former
President Jiang Zemin. Blair, accompanied by British businessmen, opened a
new British Chamber of Commerce in Beijing, as well as discussed North
Korea's nuclear ambitions, postwar Iraq and trade relations between Britain
and China. This is the third leg in Blair's Asia tour, with the first two
being in Japan and South Korea.
1115 GMT – IRAQ: One U.S soldier from the 1st Armored Division and an Iraqi
interpreter were killed July 21 after being ambushed with grenades and
small-arms fire just north of Baghdad, Cpl. Todd Pruden said. Pruden did not
elaborate on the incident. To date, 152 U.S. soldiers have died in combat
since the war in Iraq started March 20.
1110 GMT – LIBERIA: A 41-member contingent of U.S. Marines from the Fleet
Anti-Terrorism Team in Rota, Spain, is expected to arrive July 21 in
Monrovia, Liberia, European Command spokesman Maj. Bill Bigelow said. The
team is expected to reinforce security around the U.S Embassy. Currently,
there are 20 U.S. troops in the country -- sent to assess the situation and
the possible need for a U.S.-led peacekeeping force. The United States and
African leaders still are pressing Liberian President Charles Taylor to step
down and go into exile in hopes of ending the civil war.
1103 GMT – MEXICO: Mexican counterterrorism investigators found information
on how to manufacture chemical weapons and other militant-oriented
information in a safe house used by Spaniards and Mexicans suspected of
having ties with the Basque militant group ETA, Reuters reports. Six Spanish
citizens and three Mexicans were arrested across Mexico on July 18, and a
seventh Spaniard was arrested in northern Spain. Police forces
simultaneously raided suspected safe houses in the Pacific coast resort of
Puerto Escondido, Cancun on the Yucatan Peninsula, Monterrey in northern
Mexico, Puebla and Mexico City. All of the cities have easy and frequent
international air connections to multiple destinations in Europe and the
Geopolitical Diary: Monday, July 21, 2003
Four U.S. soldiers were killed in action over the weekend -- including two
members of the 101st Airborne Division who were killed in an ambush west of
Mosul that left another soldier injured. Sunday's ambush occurred near Tall
Afar. The interesting thing about these attacks is that both took place
outside the "Sunni Triangle" north and west of Baghdad, where attacks have
been focused. The guerrillas appear to be expanding their operations
deliberately, trying to unnerve U.S. troops and force their commanders to
expand the combat arena -- and thereby stretch their resources even more.
What is unclear is whether these were special operations at long distances
by the Iraqis, or whether they indicated a sustained move into these
regions -- and the answers to these questions will be critical.
U.S. officials have decided to raise an Iraqi army, designated as an Iraqi
"civil defense corps." Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, said the
force "will be made up of Iraqis who will be under American military command
to help us basically with the armed part of the work we're doing." If they
do nothing but help interpret both language and culture to the American
troops, they will be beneficial. If they are not expected to engage in
combat operations on their own, they can be spun up fairly rapidly."
The corps poses two challenges. The first is finding anyone willing to serve
in it. There will be two classes of people volunteering: One class consists
of criminals and down-and-outers who see a chance to come out on top in the
new Iraqi order, with not much to lose if it fails; then there will be the
people that Bremer wants: people rooted in the community with families --
people who in addition to serving in the force can also influence their
communities. This is not an impossible idea by any means, but it does depend
on one thing: being able to protect their families. The men will be safer on
patrol with U.S. forces, but their families will not. If the United States
can't protect them, the whole project fails. And protecting the families of
troops always has been one of the nightmares of guerrilla warfare.
The second problem will be security. This force will be a treasure trove of
intelligence for the Baathists. If we were Baath commanders, our men would
be standing in line to join up. Getting close up and personal with U.S.
troops would provide tactical and operational intelligence. In Vietnam, the
Viet Cong made it a point to place people in the Army of Vietnam (ARVN)
slots where liaison with the Americans was heavy. It is unclear how you do a
background check in Iraq, and we'd love to see the polygraphs. Keeping the
force clean is going to be a nightmare -- that is, if Bremer plans to put up
recruitment posters all over the country to create a force that "looks like
Iraq," in former U.S. President Bill Clinton's old phrase. If, on the other
hand, the bulk of the forces are to be raised from the Shiite regions --
where deals are being made -- and from the Kurdish regions, the security
concerns might be less. Of course, the Kurds will engage in smuggling and
the Shiites will report to Tehran, but they will be motivated to stop the
Baath guerrillas, which is the item on the agenda.
If this is the case, then what is happening is that the United States will
recruit non-Sunni forces to share the burden of occupying the Sunni regions.
As we have argued in the past, this is the only way to do it. It does not
create a pro-American faction inside the Sunni regions, but it does increase
the force available to engage and defeat the Baathists. Both the Kurds and
Shiites have the interest to carry out the mission, but both will have to be
induced to do so with political arrangements. In the case of the Shiites,
those arrangements will be costly.
Since the idea of a general recruitment from the population strikes us as
self-defeating, we suspect that this proposal is the cover for the creation
of a combined U.S.-Shiite force for occupying Sunni areas. Whether we are
right in this will be visible when the recruitment starts. Pay no attention
to the first media reports on this, which will be staged carefully to show
the diversity and motivation of the force. After the cameras leave, we will
take a careful look at the force and see how many of their families live in
the "Sunni Triangle."
Saturday, June 7th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
It’s very informative --
Just wanted to check in and say hello and tell you that everything is fine here in Al Hillah, Iraq, (Babylon). I am living right near the ruins of Babylon and got a chance to walk through the ruins and check the place out. It is amazing to see the history that has been bottled up here for 30 years or more. I actually was in "Daniel’s lions den." Also got to see the famous lion of Babylon. Today the Marines re-dedicated a WWI British cemetery that had been trashed by the regime. There are UK soldiers
buried there from the Al Kut battle in WWI and from Gallipoli. There is even a headstone with the name "Harry Potter." The regime had destroyed a cross and a local resident had a picture of it from 1972 and he gave it to the Seabees who rebuilt it for the dedication. Those Seabees are magic men and women. They are mostly reservists and all great at what they do.
The Iraqi people were also very happy to help and said that they liked
the cemetery as it was once a nice peaceful place and now it’s back to
good condition. Up until 2 weeks ago it was being used as a trash dump.
Still miss Alicia and the kids something fierce and can’t wait to get
home. We are hearing that I’ll be leaving here in mid-June
Have also started receiving packages from folks and I can’t tell you how
awesome that is. I would not send anymore at this point or they will
be getting returned to me back in the states by the time they get out
We’ve got a fresh supply of baby wipes and corn nuts (and power bars
thanks to my father in law and Pam.) ! ; Also wanted to give you all
straight scoop on the efforts going on here.
The Marines and Army have made great strides in maintaining order and
making this place stable again despite what you read in the press. As
we know, some of them like to concentrate on the "conflict" angle and
like to report bad news because it sells, but I can tell you I honestly
see good things everyday. The people of Iraq are generally happy that
we are here. I drove to Najaf and Karbala the other day and people
were coming out of their homes to wave to us and the kids all line the
streets and say "GOOD MISTAH!". interestingly enough, I was with Bob
Revoir, an old class mate at NU. I went to Najaf to see Tom Lacroix,
another class mate of mine, but he was off on a mission. While there,
I ran into a guy I went to EWS with (Wiener) and an old TBS classmate,
(Yankowski), so I’m never far from friends around this place.
There is alot of work to be done and I read alot of stuff in my job that
has press reports of people protesting and wanting us to leave, but in
the Marine AO, I can tell you that people are glad to have us here.
We are training up their local police forces and trying to work with the
good ones and flush out the bad ones. Things are improving on that
front. The food situation is really good and people have enough food and water. There
is actually a train heading north to our area with 800K metric tons of
food - talk about a big dinner. The crops here are about to be
harvested and that is good too - date palms were recently sprayed and
farmers have water in their fields. We are coordinating with all
kinds of Non-government agencies, who don’t necessarily like to
associate themselves with the military, unless they need security.
They are doing good work too here.
They assessed all our areas "permissive" which means more agencies can
come in and work with reasonable expectation that it is safe. Schools
are getting back to normal and hospitals are working. Flights have
arrived with food and some of them commercial. Marines ate breakfast
with a local school that wanted to show their appreciation. People seem
generally relaxed and working toward fixing things. I think whatever protesters
are around are old regime supporters who are mad they don’t get free
stuff from Saddam anymore. Gas is still an issue, but we’re trying to
fix that too. People wait in lines for gas, but they have it and busses
are taking people where they need to go. It doesn’t help that their
own people looted most of the power grids and public utilities, but
we’re fixing that too. Schools and universities are getting back to
business and power is steadily resuming.
Interestingly, some areas are better than before and alot of the
breakdown in services happened before we even got here. One town had
all 16 garbage trucks stripped of parts, but the Marines and Seabees are
fixing them up so that trash can be collected. When you think of all
the things that make a country run down to water and garbage, we’ve made
HUGE progress in getting things back on track, so listen to the media with
an eye of caution.
Most of the media have not come down to the Marine AO because there is
no bad news. Today a little girl was brought to the gate. She was
2 and recently had a hernia operation that had gone bad. We took her
in and MEDEVAC’d her and her family to receive treatment. Those
little things are the things that never make the news. Little by
little things are getting better and you can be so proud of the young Marines and sailors that are
out here making things happen instead of criticizing from back in the states.
So that’s what’s going on here from the horse’s mouth. Hit me with
any questions you have and I’ll be glad to answer them if I can. And if
you hear people talking bad about what the US is doing now, think about
how hard it would be in your town to restore order. These folks are
on track. Imagine, less than a month ago, there was a war!
I’m looking forward to coming home and relaxing with the family. I miss
all you guys and look forward to this summer.
Take care! Semper Fi!