Thursday, April 12, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- April 12th edition

April 12, 2006: A marine with 3rd Squad, 1st Platoon, Charley Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines searches a house during a presence patrol in Karabilah.

April 12, 2002:

Doors open for UN inspectors as they pay a visit to Saddam's inner sanctum

Rays of light from a golden chandelier bounced off the spacious foyer's marble walls. The doors of the palace were studded with Saddam Hussein's presidential crest and embroidered with his name in blue Arabic script.

Yet the Iraqi soldiers guarding Sijood palace in Baghdad gathered in a silent huddle yesterday. Two mud-spattered Landcruisers from the United Nations had effectively hijacked one of Saddam's inner sanctums by drawing up on either side of an imposing gatehouse, carefully positioning themselves to block anyone entering or leaving.

Fourteen UN weapons experts entered Sijood palace and conducted the most crucial inspection since their return to Iraq. By arriving at the palace gates shortly before 9am, the inspectors were carrying out the first key test of Saddam's willingness to co-operate.

When Saddam declared eight "presidential sites", including Sijood palace, off-limits to weapons experts in 1998 it ended the UN's last bid to disarm Iraq and provoked four days of American and British air strikes.

If the joint team from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (Unmovic) had been denied entry yesterday, America and Britain might well have viewed this as deliberate obstruction and grounds for war.

Read the rest at the Telegraph

April 12, 2003:

Turkey threatens to send troops into Iraq

Turkey held out the option of deploying more troops to northern Iraq yesterday, if Kurdish fighters failed to relinquish control of two key cities in the region.
Ankara announced that troops along the border with Iraq were poised to go in after being alarmed by jubilant Kurdish peshmerga pouring into the oil-rich cities of Kirkuk and Mosul.

After an extraordinary meeting of Turkey's top generals, intelligence and political elite, the foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, said: "In light of new developments we've reviewed the readiness of our troops both in northern Iraq and along the border, and reinforcement plans.

"If needed, we have all kinds of plans, but for now we are not taking action. Our sensitivities are clear. Any step back is out of the question."

Read the rest at the Guardian

April 12, 2004:

Abizaid seeks more combat troops for Iraq

General John Abizaid, commander of US forces in the Middle East, has asked the Pentagon for two additional combat brigades to be deployed in response to the widespread rebellion in Iraq, reversing a year-long trend of reducing the American military presence in the war-torn country.

The request for new troops highlights the extent to which the week-long revolt has forced the US to rethink its security strategy in Iraq. Pentagon officials had been aiming to hand over an increasing share of the security burden to Iraqi units and reduce troop levels to 115,000 following the recent rotation of American forces.

But Gen Abizaid acknowledged on Monday that US-trained Iraqi security forces-including police, civil defence units, and the new Iraqi army-had performed poorly. "That was a great disappointment to us," he said.

A US military spokesman said that 70 coalition soldiers and an estimated 700 insurgents had been killed since April 1 in the latest upsurge of fighting.

Read the rest at the Financial Times

April 12, 2005:

Bush Tells Troops That Iraq Success Makes U.S. Safer

April 12 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush told U.S. Army soldiers in Texas that the formation of a democratic government in Iraq two years after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime is a milestone of progress in the war on terrorism.

``We are defeating them there where they live so we do not have to face them where we live,'' Bush told a crowd of 25,000 soldiers at Fort Hood. ``Success in Iraq will make America safer for us and for future generations.''

Bush said the toppling of Hussein's statue in Baghdad two years ago last weekend will be remembered along with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 as ``one of the great moments in the history of liberty.''

Read the rest at Bloomberg

April 12, 2006:

Three years later, it's all come down to Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Iraq — As American tanks rumbled into Baghdad three years ago, Omar al-Damaluji took to the streets of the bomb-battered city with an old Canon camera and a singular mission...

"This is how it looked. This is how my city looked," he said... "It was never a paradise," Damaluji, 50, said with a sigh. "But Baghdad has become a wretched place."

Three years after U.S. forces swept Saddam Hussein's government from power, car bombings and political assassination are near-daily occurrences. Neighborhoods have been torn along sectarian lines and are plagued by increasingly violent militias and dysfunctional public services. Tens of thousands of foreign troops remain on alert. Some analysts are beginning to compare Baghdad with another Middle Eastern capital that was synonymous with anarchy and bloodshed in the 1970s and '80s.

"In Beirut when the civil war began, you had electricity 24 hours a day and running water all the time, and the air conditioning was working, and so were the elevators," said Francois Heisbourg, a French military analyst. "In the case of Baghdad, it looks like Beirut after 10 years of civil war."

U.S. officials here have predicted that 2006 would mark the battle for Baghdad, and both insurgent attacks and the effort to stop them are increasingly focused on this city of about 7 million people. Until the situation in the capital is normalized, they say, the United States will not be able to argue that it has brought peace and stability to Iraq.

Read the rest at the Seattle Times