Friday, November 25, 2005

Thanksgiving In Iraq: November 24, 2005

From The Washington Post:

Bomber Bloodies U.S. Toy Giveaway
At Least 31 Iraqis Killed; 22 Die in Other Violence

By Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, November 25, 2005; A01

BAGHDAD, Nov. 24 -- A suicide attacker steered a car packed with explosives toward U.S. soldiers giving away toys to children outside a hospital in central Iraq on Thursday, killing at least 31 people. Almost all of the victims were women and children, police said.

In all, 53 people were killed in bombings and gunfire across the country, including two American soldiers who died in a roadside bombing near Baghdad. The U.S. military also reported the deaths of four American troops on Wednesday.

About 140,000 Americans marked Thanksgiving in Iraq, the third there for U.S. forces. Private contractors at the increasingly fortified bases prepared feasts of turkey, lobster and steak flown in for the troops on jumbo planes.

U.S. military helicopters ferried the top U.S. officer in Iraq, Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., from base to base so he could deliver Thanksgiving greetings and encouragement.


President Bush, who made a surprise visit to Iraq on Thanksgiving two years ago, telephoned service members here and in Afghanistan from his ranch in Texas to send his greetings this year, U.S. officials said.

Iraqi security officials said they believed that Iraqi police or U.S. forces were the target of Thursday's bombing outside the general hospital in Mahmudiyah. The town has a mixed Shiite and Sunni Arab population and is in an area south of Baghdad known as the Triangle of Death.

One Iraqi police officer was among the dead, said Capt. Muthanna Ahmed, a police spokesman in Babil province. Four American troops participating in the toy giveaway were wounded, according to Iraqi officials.

"It was an explosion at the gate of the hospital," a woman who had wounds on her face and legs told the AP. "My children are gone. My brother is gone."

With no room left at the hospital, emergency workers rushed victims to hospitals in Baghdad, about 15 miles to the north. And when the hospital morgue was full, the workers were forced to place the dead in the hospital garden so family members could find them.

Ahmed said late Thursday that an Iraqi parliament member, Jafar Muhammad, was among the dead. His death would bring to three the number of National Assembly members killed in insurgent attacks.

In Baghdad on Thursday, a spokesman for the interim government warned that violence, particularly against Iraqi soldiers and police, would probably accelerate ahead of the Dec. 15 elections to elect Iraq's first permanent postwar government. Officials issued similar warnings ahead of previous national votes.

"They are trying to challenge the state's authority and spread the impression that there is no state structure or authority in Iraq, to promote a sense of despair among citizens," said Laith Kubba, spokesman for Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari.

Kubba also announced the discovery of arms caches in the northern city of Tall Afar. He said the find was "surprising," because U.S. and Iraqi forces had in recent months carried out a third full-scale offensive there, leveling some neighborhoods. The discovery "means there are some terrorist cells still operating there" despite the all-out U.S. offensive, he noted.

The deaths reported Thursday included five people killed in a suicide car bombing at a market in Hilla, an overwhelmingly Shiite town about 60 miles south of Baghdad. "There were no police or army at the scene when the car exploded, so all the casualties were Shiite civilians," said Ahmed, the provincial police spokesman. News agencies reported that the car exploded outside a soft-drink stand on Thursday evening, when many fathers take their families out for snacks and a stroll at the beginning of the Muslim weekend.

In other violence, a close-range attack in Baghdad killed three bodyguards of the country's industries minister, and four police officers were killed in an ambush in the capital.

Also Thursday, the U.S. military denied reports from officials in far western Iraq that U.S. troops and insurgents were engaged in fighting near the Syrian border.

And Thanksgiving in Crawford, Texas:

Notice how Georgie Boy didn't follow up his "Thanksgiving in Iraq" stunt from two years ago and instead chose to talk to 10 members of the military in Iraq over the phone.

You know why he chose the phone route over a visit to Iraq?

Because Iraq is a more dangerous place now than it was two years ago in November 2003.

Trend lines in both American military and Iraqi military and civilian casualties are way up since November 2003.

There seems to be no end in sight to the violence.

First we were told the handoff of Iraqi sovereignty in June 2004 would help end the violence.

But it didn't.

Then we were told the elections for the interim Iraqi government in January 2005 would help end the violence (remember the waving purple fingers?).

But it didn't.

Then we were told the October 15th referendum vote would bring Sunnis, Shi'a, and Kurds together and help end the violence.

But it hasn't.

And so now here we are, on November 25, 2005, with 140,000 American military personnel still in Iraq, the insurgency raging unabated, popular Amercian support for the war plummeting, Iraqi forces totally unprepared to take over their own security details, Shi'a /Sunni sectarian violence threatening to break out into a full-blown civil war any day now, and George W. Bush too fucking scared to pull another Iraq/Thanksgiving photo op over in the Green Zone in Baghdad.

And what does the administration have to say about where we are in Iraq?

When asked at a press conference on November 19, 2005 about Congressman Jack Murtha's (R-Pa) call for a troop withdrawl from Iraq, George W. Bush said that "the progress in Iraq is amazing" and

I am confident we will succeed in Iraq. I'm confident that the Iraqi forces will be trained; I am confident the political process will slowly, but surely, marginalize those that are trying to stop the march of democracy. And I also know that we have got to make sure that Iraq does not become a safe haven for terrorists. It's very important for -- during this debate to listen to the words of Zawahiri, who's the number-two man of al Qaeda, where he has made it very clear that his intention, and the intention of his henchman, Zarqawi, is to drive us out of Iraq before we have completed the mission.

Progress? The preznit thinks this is progress? We turned Iraq into a haven for terrorists and jihadis, now they're exporting their violence and terror to other countries like Jordan, and the preznit thinks we are making progress in Iraq?


If this is progress, I'd hate to see what regress is.

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