Sunday, July 08, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- July 8th edition

July 8, 2004: A wounded soldier from the 1st Infantry Division is evacuated for further treatment following an attack on a compound in Samarra which killed a U.S. and an Iraqi soldier, and wounded 22. A mass casualty treatment area was established at Forward Operating Base Brassfield-Mora to accommodate the casualties.

July 8, 2002:

Iraq harbours al-Qaeda, Rumsfeld says

WASHINGTON -- With military scenarios for waging war against Iraq already on U.S. President George W. Bush's desk, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld added to Washington's justification for ousting Saddam Hussein by accusing Baghdad of harbouring al-Qaeda terrorists.

"There are al-Qaeda in Iraq," Mr. Rumsfeld said, according to a Pentagon transcript released yesterday.

Although Mr. Rumsfeld drew no link between Baghdad and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington that killed nearly 3,000 people, the accusation that Baghdad is harbouring al-Qaeda operatives is the first time a senior member of the Bush administration has implicated the Iraqi regime in assisting Osama bin Laden's militant Islamic group.

Mr. Bush has made "regime change" in Iraq a central U.S. foreign-policy aim, but the reasons for ousting Mr. Hussein keep evolving.

There were early allegations that a senior Iraqi agent had met the hijacking ringleader Mohamed Atta in Prague. Although U.S. officials say the meeting took place, no evidence has directly linked Baghdad to the planning, financing or training for the Sept. 11 attack.

Initially, there were suspicions that Baghdad, which has long sought biological weapons, may have been behind the anthrax attacks last fall, but it has become increasingly evident that the spore-filled envelopes were of domestic, albeit still undetermined, origin.

In January, Mr. Bush labelled Iraq -- along with Iran and North Korea -- the "axis of evil," accusing those states of attempting to acquire chemical, biological or nuclear weapons and the long-range missiles to deliver them. All three pose a great danger because of their history of backing radical groups considered terrorists by Washington, the White House contends, although there is no evidence that any of them had offered to place weapons of mass destruction at the disposal of those groups.

Mr. Rumsfeld has now added a new casus belli: accusing Baghdad of harbouring al-Qaeda operatives that have fled the U.S. military dragnet in Afghanistan. While some countries -- notably Pakistan and Yemen -- are helping Washington track down al-Qaeda fugitives, "You can be certain we're not getting a lot of co-operation" from Iraq, Mr. Rumsfeld said Monday.

Mr. Hussein, a dictator who runs a relatively secular regime that has crushed any hints of Islamic radicalism, has little in common with Mr. bin Laden, an avowed Islamic militant, save bitter antipathy to the United States. But Mr. Rumsfeld, who first suggested a week ago that Iraq had "a relationship" with al-Qaeda, has now clarified that accusation by saying Mr. Hussein is harbouring al-Qaeda.

He elaborated neither on the number of al-Qaeda operatives in Iraq nor on their rank. And he did not suggest that Mr. bin Laden might be among them.

Ever since he declared war on terrorism, Mr. Bush has said he would draw no distinction between terrorists and those states who harbour or assist them.

Read the rest at the Globe and Mail

July 8, 2003:

American death toll in Iraq approaching '91 count

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon on Tuesday raised its count of Americans killed by hostile fire in Iraq since the war began in March to 143, a figure that approaches the 147 killed in the 1991 Gulf War.

When President Bush declared major combat operations had ended on May 1, the number killed in action stood at 114. Since then, guerrilla-style attacks have taken another 29 American lives, and Bush as well as U.S. military commanders have said the war is not yet over.

"Rough road behind, rough road ahead," Gen. Tommy Franks, who commanded U.S. forces in the war, said Monday at a ceremony in which he handed over command of the operation to Gen. John Abizaid.

In the latest slayings, a roadside bomb killed one soldier traveling in an Army convoy Monday, and on Sunday night an American was shot to death in a Baghdad gun battle. Also Sunday, a U.S. soldier was shot and killed at close range while drinking a soda at Baghdad University.

In recent weeks, resistance forces have launched about a dozen attacks a day on American troops. Pentagon officials say the attacks are coming from a variety of anti-occupation forces, including former Baath Party members, paramilitaries, non-Iraqi fighters and remnants of Saddam Hussein's security forces.

The total number of Americans who have died in Iraq since the conflict began March 20 stands at 211, according to the Pentagon's count. That number includes 68 deaths in accidents and other non-hostile circumstances. About two-thirds of the non-hostile deaths have come since May 1.

Read the rest at USA Today

July 8, 2004:

Nat'l Guard's Role in Iraq to Increase

WASHINGTON — Citizen soldiers of the Army National Guard (search), which has suffered increasing casualties in Iraq in recent months, will assume a notably more prominent role in the next rotation of U.S. combat forces into Iraq beginning late this year, officials said Thursday.

The number of National Guard brigades in Iraq will grow from three to five, and for the first time in Iraq a National Guard division headquarters will command active-duty brigades.

Under the command of the 42nd Infantry Division of the New York Army National Guard will be two brigades of the active duty 3rd Infantry Division as well as the 256th Infantry Brigade of the Louisiana National Guard.

Overall, National Guard and Reserve forces will make up 42 percent or 43 percent of the total force in Iraq, the director of operations for the Joint Staff, Lt. Gen. Norton Schwartz, told Congress on Wednesday. That compares with a 39 percent share presently and 25 percent last year, he said.

The National Guard has been increasing its numbers in Iraq mainly because the active-duty Army is not large enough to fulfill the requirements, which expanded as the insurgency grew.

Last month, exactly half of the U.S. military deaths in Iraq — 21 of 42 — were members of the National Guard or Reserve. In May, the breakdown was 22 out of 80 deaths, and in April it was 17 of 136.

Read the rest at Fox News

July 8, 2005:

Iran and Iraq to sign pact for military cooperation

TEHERAN — Former foes Iran and Iraq said yesterday they would sign a military cooperation agreement which will include Iranian help in training Iraq’s armed forces.

The agreement marks a considerable advance in relations between the two countries who fought a bitter 1980-1988 war and comes despite repeated US accusations that Iran has undermined security in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

“It’s a new chapter in our relations with Iraq. We will start wide defence cooperations,” Iranian Defence Minister Admiral Ali Shamkhani told a joint news conference with visiting Iraqi counterpart Saadoun Al Dulaimi.

“We’re going to form some committees which will be involved in mine clearance, identifying those missing from the war and also ... to help train, rebuild and modernise the Iraqi army.”

Iran last year offered to train Iraqi border guards, but Iraq frostily declined the offer.

US and Iraqi officials have often accused Iran of stirring up instability in Iraq. Teheran denies meddling in Iraq or helping arms and foreign fighters cross its borders.

Asked about possible US opposition to Iran-Iraq military cooperation, Shamkhani said: “No one can prevent us from reaching an agreement.”

Iraq’s Al Dulaimi echoed Shamkhani’s comments.

“Nobody can dictate to Iraq its relations with other countries,” he said.

Read the rest at Khaleej Times

July 8, 2006:

Children suffer outside media glare - research

From Congo to Chechnya and Somalia to Sudan, children are bearing the brunt of the world's worst "forgotten emergencies", their plight scarcely making a blip on the international news radar.

That's the implication of a Reuters AlertNet poll of humanitarian experts and journalists that highlights the planet's most dangerous places for children. AlertNet analysed global media coverage in English of the top 10 child hotspots chosen by respondents and found little correlation between the scale of suffering and relative column inches.

Instead, perceived geopolitical importance to Western powers seemed to drive media attention, with Iraq, Palestinian territories and Afghanistan hogging the lion's share of the limelight.

"I believe one of the key protection concerns for children at present are the protracted 'forgotten' emergencies which are resulting in generations of children knowing nothing but a country in upheaval," Amalia Fawcett, advocacy and policy analyst for relief group World Vision New Zealand, said in her response to the poll.

"These situations do not receive sufficient attention due to compassion fatigue, or more short term crises that hit the press but can be just as devastating for the children who lose parents, health and education infrastructure and grow up without a future stable enough to plan for and look forward to."

The experts ranked Iraq as the world's fourth most dangerous place for children yet the country attracted more general coverage in a year than eight of the other top hotspots combined.

Sudan, northern Uganda and Congo - voted the world's top three danger spots for children - together drummed up a mere eighth of the general attention given to Iraq.

Read the rest at Reuters/Alternet