Saturday, April 21, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- April 21st edition

April 21, 2006: A Marine information operations representative attached to 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, gives candy to a child during a mission in Fallujah.

April 21, 2002:

Saddam 'sends troops to help bin Laden men'

THE strongest evidence of links between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden has emerged with reports that the Iraqi dictator is supporting former al-Qa'eda fighters who have established a Taliban-style enclave in Kurdistan.

Members of Saddam's Republican Guard have been seen in two villages run by militants from Ansar al-Islam inside Iraqi Kurdistan, an area which is otherwise controlled by anti-Saddam factions.

They were sighted by Western military advisers on a reconnaissance mission. Any confirmed collaboration between Baghdad and bin Laden would be seized upon by President Bush to garner support for action to oust Saddam's regime.

Many members of Ansar al-Islam, a radical Islamic cell, are Arabs who fought with the Taliban and al-Qa'eda forces in Afghanistan. Their numbers are believed to have been boosted recently by men fleeing the US military's recent Operation Anaconda in eastern Afghanistan. The group was said last month by Kurdish military intelligence to have received about £200,000, plus weapons and Toyota Land Cruisers, from the al-Qa'eda network.

Surface-to-air missiles and other weaponry from Iraq are also said to have been delivered to the mountainous region near the town of Halabjah, in northern Iraq.

Read the rest at the Telegraph

April 21, 2003:

U.S. to prod U.N. on Iraq Tuesday

UNITED NATIONS — Just five weeks after it failed to get United Nations approval for war in Iraq, the Bush administration returns Tuesday to a still-fractured Security Council to begin a new fight over whether to lift U.N. sanctions on Iraq and allow U.N. inspectors to help search for banned weapons.

Tuesday's meeting of the 15 council members and chief inspector Hans Blix is just the opening skirmish in a complicated legal and political battle that could go on for weeks and reopen prewar wounds that were just beginning to heal. In February and early March, U.S. and British diplomats pushed unsuccessfully for war against often bitter opposition from France, Germany and Russia. Now, there are even strong differences of opinion between the United States and Britain.

U.S. officials have two objectives, both essential to rebuilding postwar Iraq: lift the trade and economic sanctions placed on Saddam Hussein's regime after the Gulf War in 1991 and gradually end the U.N. oil-for-food program, which allowed Saddam to sell unlimited amounts of oil as long as most of the proceeds went — in theory — to buy food, medicine and other supplies for the Iraqi people.

Both will almost surely happen. But getting there could require some concessions by the United States. Key, veto-wielding council members Russia, China and France are reluctant to end sanctions unless U.N. inspectors return to Iraq to help find any chemical or biological weapons, which Washington strongly opposes. Some council members also are wary of voting for any resolution that might be seen as validating a war they opposed.

Read the rest at USA Today

April 21, 2004:

US turns to old foes to secure Iraq

BAGHDAD – A marked change in "atmospherics" is what American-led occupation chiefs say they want to achieve, when Iraqis wake up July 1, the day they are slated to regain sovereignty.

Handing security of the country over to newly minted Iraqi forces was meant to be one thrust of that change. But to help rebuild an army and stabilize the country, US commanders are now turning to those they once fired: Saddam Hussein's senior officers.

Critics - including many former Iraqi officers - say the order to dissolve the entire military, issued by US administrator Paul Bremer last year, was a fundamental mistake. They say it has added to the burden of stabilizing Iraq, provided well-trained recruits for the growing anti-American resistance, and was contrary to the advice expressed in postwar blueprints created in Washington.

"You prune [the military], you don't cut it down," says Ghassan Atiyyah, a pro-democracy analyst in Baghdad. "You are creating enemies - that's half a million people out of work, with their families, that you've made easy to recruit. You are handing them over to whoever will use them."

Read the rest at the Christian Science Monitor

April 21, 2005:

Senate approves extra Humvee spending

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Thursday approved spending an extra $213 million to buy more fully armored Humvees, a week after a government watchdog criticized the Pentagon's pace in providing the vehicles to forces in Iraq.

The amendment to the bill authorizing another $81 billion to be spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also orders the Defense secretary to report to Congress more frequently on how many Humvees are needed and on how to get them to Iraq faster...

Earlier this month, the Army said it was 855 vehicles short of reaching its goal of having 8,105 factory-armored Humvees in the military theater that includes Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army argued that it met that goal but counted armored Humvees based in the United States and elsewhere.

Bayh said the Army has consistently underestimated its needs for Humvees in Iraq. "When will we do more instead of less?" he asked.

The measure comes a week after a report by the Government Accountability Office, Congress' non-partisan watchdog group, that said the Army failed to use extra production capacity available to make factory-armored Humvees as well as the add-on armor kits that strengthen the unarmored models.

Read the rest at USA Today

April 21, 2006:

Thousands of Iraqis Fleeing the Country

CAIRO, Egypt — Um Sami and her family left their home in one of Baghdad's Sunni neighborhoods after her children and husband were harassed. The Shiite family went first to a more mixed Baghdad neighborhood, then to Jordan, and finally a week later to Cairo.

The veiled woman said her family was not comfortable in Egypt, but escaping Baghdad was a must. "Our life was a disaster. We could not take it anymore," she said.

Since the bombing of an important Shiite shrine in Iraq in late February, such stories of sectarian intimidation and fleeing have become common.

Within Iraq, thousands are on the move as death threats drive them to neighborhoods where their sect has more strength, international and Iraqi officials say. Reprisal killings between Shiite and Sunni extremists have sharply increased since the shrine bombing, and the bodies of civilian victims often turn up in the streets of Baghdad.

An estimated 40,000 people have been internally displaced in Iraq since the blast, said Jean Philippe Chauzy, a spokesman for the U.N.-affiliated International Organization for Migration.

Read the rest at Fox News