Sunday, April 15, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- April 15th edition

April 15, 2004: Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 2nd Regiment of the First Infantry Division comfort one another after a memorial service for two fallen comrades at a military base near Najaf.

April 15, 2002:

US military fuels up Mideast bases

NEW YORK - The U.S. Department of Defence says it is seeking an extra 1.4 million barrels of marine diesel fuel for bases in the Middle East, continuing a rate of military fuel purchases for the region not seen since the Persian Gulf war.

The supplemental tender for F76 grade marine diesel fuel calls for the barrels to be delivered to the Diego Garcia base in the Indian Ocean, Star Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates, and Guam in the Western Pacific between July 1 and Dec 31.

The solicitation last week comes after the Pentagon already purchased 7.4 million barrels of fuel above and beyond normal contracts for its Mideast bases over the past four months, according to the Defence Energy Support Center, the DOD's fuel buying wing.

This rate of fuel buying from the world's largest single purchaser of petroleum mimics emergency buys made after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 and dwarfs supplemental purchases during the NATO air war against Serbia in 1999.

Read the rest at Planet Ark

April 15, 2003:

The looting of Iraq's past

Its present condition is chaotic, its future is uncertain. And now Iraq must cope with the loss of its past in the catastrophic looting of thousands of priceless artifacts from the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad.

Heartbroken and enraged archaeologists and art historians, some of whom had explicitly warned U.S. authorities before the war that looting was likely, called on Monday for an international moratorium on the purchase of Iraqi antiquities by museums, dealers and collectors.

Scores of Iraqi civilians broke into the museum on Friday and made off with an estimated 170,000 ancient and priceless artifacts covering the whole of Iraq's 7,000 years of history. Museum officials and curators wept as they showed reporters the devastated museum, littered with broken glass and pottery shards.

"This is one of the most important museums in the entire world," mourns Zainab Bahrani, professor of ancient Near Eastern art and archaeology at Columbia University. "It's part of our global cultural heritage — it's important for all of us."

Read the rest at USA Today

April 15, 2004:

Nobody likes to see dead people on TV, Bush says

Giving no ground despite rising casualties, US President George W. Bush says more American troops may be heading for Iraq with authority to use decisive force in a mission that "may become more difficult before it is finished."

Bush said America's will was being tested by violence that has turned April into the deadliest month in Iraq since the fall of Baghdad a year ago.

"Look, nobody likes to see dead people on their television screens," Bush said. "I don't. It's a tough time for the American people to see that. It's gut-wrenching."

The president went before the nation Tuesday night with a speech and question-and-answer session focusing on Iraq and the government's reaction to warning signs about terrorists before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Neither Bush's 17 minutes of opening remarks nor the 15 questions that followed strayed from those two topics, which the president has made central to his re-election but on which his support in polls has declined markedly.

Nonetheless, the president expressed confidence he would win over voters in elections this November.

"I don't plan on losing my job. I plan on telling the American people that I've got a plan to win the war on terror. And I believe they'll stay with me," he said.

Read the rest at Taipei Times

April 15, 2005:

Britain, US set exit plan for Iraq

British and US troops will be steadily withdrawn from Iraq starting next year and are likely to be out of the country within five years, Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has said.

Setting out for the first time a possible timetable for departure of foreign forces, Mr Straw said the 7500 British troops deployed in southern Iraq are unlikely to be reduced before December, when elections for a permanent Iraqi government are due.

But the United Nations mandate for all foreign forces will expire at the start of next year and a review of their status is due to begin in two months.

Mr Straw said the Government was likely to make decisions about its forces later this year.

"The progressive run-down of forces is likely to happen next year," he said.

Read the rest at the Age

April 15, 2006:

Vast new Baghdad embassy dwarfs other U.S. missions worldwide

BAGHDAD, Iraq – The fortress-like compound rising beside the Tigris River here will be the largest of its kind in the world, the size of Vatican City, with the population of a small town, its own defense force, self-contained power and water, and a precarious perch at the heart of Iraq's turbulent future.

The new U.S. Embassy also seems as cloaked in secrecy as the ministate in Rome.

“We can't talk about it. Security reasons,” Roberta Rossi, a spokeswoman at the current embassy, said when asked for information about the project.

A British tabloid even told readers the location was being kept secret – news that would surprise Baghdadis who for months have watched the forest of construction cranes at work across the winding Tigris, at the very center of their city and within easy mortar range of anti-U.S. forces in the capital, though fewer explode there these days.

The embassy complex – 21 buildings on 104 acres, according to a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee report – is taking shape on riverside parkland in the fortified “Green Zone,” just east of al-Samoud, a former palace of Saddam Hussein's, and across the road from the building where the ex-dictator is now on trial.

Read the rest at the San Diego Tribune