Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Iraq/Aghanistan Update

The Bush administration doesn't have any plan for victory in Iraq other than to tell people "We have a Plan for Victory" and paint Democrats and others who are demanding a change in Iraq strategy "defeatists." But the reality is, the Bushies have no clue what they are doing in Iraq, the country remains a violent mess that could break apart at any point and even the administration's "success story" in Afghanistan is starting to unravel before our very eyes. First, here's an Afghanistan update:

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) -- U.S. warplanes hunting Taliban fighters bombed a religious school and mud-brick homes in southern Afghanistan on Monday, killing dozens of suspected militants and 17 civilians in one of the deadliest strikes since the American-led invasion in 2001.

On Tuesday, a land mine blew up under a vehicle carrying a team of Afghan health workers, killing a doctor, two nurses and their driver, officials said.

The blast occurred about 25 miles west of Kabul on a busy road that is often frequented by foreigners, said Bashar Gul, the deputy police chief of Wardak province.

He said the three men and one woman worked for a local aid group, the Afghan Health Development Services.

Meanwhile, pickup trucks ferried wounded villagers to a hospital in nearby Kandahar city. One woman, cradling her injured baby, recounted seeing ''dead people everywhere'' after the nighttime attack.

Taliban violence escalates each spring in Afghanistan with snow melting on mountain passes. But the scale of the assaults -- and of U.S.-led coalition response -- has been greater this year, as thousands of NATO forces prepare to deploy in the volatile south, the heartland of the ousted Islamic regime.

According to coalition and Afghan figures, the airstrikes brought the death toll of militants, Afghan forces, coalition soldiers and civilians to as many as 286 since Wednesday, when the recent storm of violence erupted in the south.

Now an Iraq update:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- At least 17 Iraqis were killed in attacks in Iraq on Tuesday, most of them in drive-by shootings in three provinces north of the capital, police said.

The attacks came one day after Iraq's new prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, and Britain's visiting leader, Tony Blair, announced that Iraqi security forces would start assuming full responsibility for some provinces and cities next month, beginning a process leading to the eventual withdrawal of all coalition forces.

They said ''responsibility for much of Iraq's territorial security should have been transferred to Iraqi control'' by December. At that point, al-Maliki said, two of Iraq's most violent provinces, Baghdad and Anbar, may be the last where coalition forces maintain control.

But Tuesday's violence north of Baghdad showed that goal may not be easy to achieve.

At 8:00 a.m., gunmen riding in an Opel sedan car shot and killed four ironsmiths and wounded one as they were riding a pickup truck to work in Mosul, the capital of Ninevah province, said police Brig. Abdul-Hamid Khalaf.

In a drive-by shooting, attackers killed three Iraqi day laborers and wounded four as they drove by a minibus to work at a farm near Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. Police said the casualties, all majority Shiites, appeared to be the latest victims of sectarian attacks by minority Sunni Arabs in Diyala province. Several hours later, gunmen in a speeding car killed three Iraqi men who were standing near a house in Baqouba, police said.

Nazar Qadir, 39, a high school teacher on his way to work near Kirkuk city in Tamim province 180 miles north of Baghdad, also died in a drive-by shooting.

On Jan. 31, a U.S. Embassy report had found security ''critical'' in Anbar province, the Sunni-dominated region west of Baghdad that includes Ramadi and Fallujah. The report also said the security situation was considered serious in the provinces of Baghdad, Basra, Ninevah, Tamim, Salahuddin and Diyala -- all of them religiously mixed.

Six Iraqis also died in the capital Tuesday, police said.

A car bomb exploded in New Baghdad, killing five Iraqis, two police commandos and three civilians. The attack, which damaged nearby shops and cars, also wounded eight Iraqis: five commandos and three civilians.

In western Baghdad, a drive-by shooting killed one of the many vendors who sell cigarettes from small wooden stands alongside streets in the capital. A roadside bomb also damaged one Humvee in a U.S. convoy in Dora, one of Baghdad's most violent areas, and an Iraqi woman and a child were wounding in gunfire that followed.

During his news conference with Blair on Monday, al-Maliki was asked whether the surge in sectarian violence in Iraq, which has prompted thousands of Iraqis to flee their homes, is a civil war. ''There are rebellious elements. There are gangs killing people. There are gangs that have used arms for political blackmailing or to achieve goals that have political dimensions,'' he said. ''But those groups have failed to ignite a civil war.''

"These groups have failed to ignite a civil war"? What do you call sectarian violence and retaliatory executions based on religion and/or tribe?

I guess al-Maliki is using the American definition of Civil War when he talks about Iraq. Since nobody has yet fired upon Fort Sumter or attacked each other at Antietam, there is no civil war.

What a mess. Iraq has unraveled, Afghanistan is in danger of unraveling and the morons in charge of both wars are trying to sucker us into a third war with Iran.

I've been accused of rooting for a defeat. A friend of mine actually said he was so that the imperialism stops. If they can show a victory then it is on and on. At least this way, there is a strong case for not continuing down this path.
I just posted a news link out of Australia, the headline: Blair and Bush to discuss early Iraq exit
The story was sourced to Brit media so I'm thinking it is to sell Blair's intended pull out, suggesting the US are with him.
There is nothing from the US to support the idea of both planning a staged withdrawal.
PT- I've been accused of rooting for a defeat. I don't know about you, but all the insults I took before the war, about the bullshit predictions of the potential, have turned to talking down the effort.
There is some great propaganda out there.
You didn't need a crystal ball to see the problems. It was stupid then and it renmains so now.

I know what you mean. I was also labeled a "typical liberal cynic" for saying that the U.S. would be there for at least 5 years, but more like 10. That was considered crazy at the time.

Not so crazy anymore is it?
We're not rooting for defeat, we're rooting for sanity. You know, before the war started, I was against a pre-emptive invasion. But now that we're there, we should be doing everything in our power (militarily, economically) to make this thing work. But we don't. We half-ass it, we send in just enough tropps to keep the lid from completely blowing off, we rebuild just enough stuff to make it look like we're doing something (although most of the rebuilding money winds up in Bush/Cheney crony hands anyway.)

Frankly, it's infuriating. It's like a bunch of teenagers invaded.
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