Friday, December 01, 2006

Quick Round-Up (Mostly Western) Friday

Reuters AlertNet - Iraq data shows 44 pct Nov leap in civilian dead:
Iraq data shows 44 pct Nov leap in civilian dead
01 Dec 2006 13:29:18 GMT

BAGHDAD, Dec 1 (Reuters) - The number of Iraqi civilians killed in violence appears to have leapt by 44 percent in November from an already record level the previous month, data from Iraqi Interior Ministry officials showed on Friday.

The increase, to 1,850 deaths, was closely matched by a 45 percent leap in the number of civilian deaths tallied by Reuters from individual incident reports provided by Iraqi officials. The ministry figure is more than three times the equivalent in January, before this year's surge in sectarian killing.
Reuters AlertNet - FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, Dec 1:
FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, Dec 1
01 Dec 2006 17:53:36 GMT

Dec 1 (Reuters) - Following are security developments in Iraq as of 1700 GMT on Friday.

*indicates new or updated entry.

*MOSUL - Fourteen labourers kidnapped from a farm near Sinjar, northwest of Mosul, on Thursday have been found dead in a wheatfield, a local official said on Friday.

*BAGHDAD - Police said they found 20 bodies in different parts of Baghdad on Friday.

*MAHMUDIYA - Three mortar rounds hit a residential area in Mahmudiya south of Baghdad, killing one person and wounding four, police said.

*RASHIDIYA - Mortar rounds hit a residential area of Rashidiya north of Baghdad, killing four and wounding three.

BAGHDAD - U.S. forces killed two suspected insurgents and detained 27 others in raids in towns north and south of Baghdad, the U.S. army said.

SAMAWA - At least two policemen and one civilian were killed and 31 wounded, including three policemen, in clashes between Mehdi Army fighters and police in Samawa, 270 km (168 miles) south of Baghdad, on Thursday. Police said the clashes continued on Friday.

BAGHDAD - A car bomb exploded in northern Baghdad, killing two people and wounding 13, police said.

*BAGHDAD - Clashes erupted between gunmen and the Iraqi army in central Baghdad in which one soldier was killed and nine people wounded, the Interior Ministry said. The Defence Ministry said 43 people had been captured and weapons seized.

KIRKUK - A suicide car bomber targeted a U.S. patrol, killing two civilians and wounding four in the northern city of Kirkuk, police and hospital sources said.

LATIFIYA - A roadside bomb exploded near a minibus, killing one person and wounding four in Latifiya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, on Thursday evening, police said.

BAGHDAD - At least three people were killed and 22 wounded when a car bomb blasted a crowded pet market in central Baghdad, police sources said.

BAGHDAD - A security detainee died on Thursday at Camp Cropper, a detention facility at Baghdad airport, from what appeared to be natural causes, the U.S. military said in a statement.

BAGHDAD - U.S. ground and air forces killed 14 insurgents and wounded two after they attacked their convoy with machinegun fire in southwest of Samarra 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad on Thursday, the U.S. military said in a statement.

BAGHDAD - A U.S. soldier was killed in combat in Baghdad on Thursday, the U.S. military said in a statement.

SAMAWA - Seven mortar rounds hit a residential neighbourhood in Samawa 270 km (168 miles) south of Baghdad, on Thursday, killing two people and wounding 13, police said.

JURF AL-SAKHAR - A roadside bomb exploded near a police patrol, killing one civilian and wounding three in the town of Jurf al-Sakhar 85 km (53 miles) south of Baghdad on Thursday, police said.
Agenzia Giornalistica Italia - News In English:
(AGI) - Shuneh (Jordan), Dec. 1 - Speaking at the "Forum for the future" underway in Shuneh, Italian foreign minister Massimo D'Alema said that the West risks to remain isolated if its strategy for the stabilization of Iraq turns out to be wrong. D'Alema appealed to the cooperation of the other countries in the region, including Syria and Iran. "It is important" the foreign minister said at the end of a meting with Condoleezza Rice, "to have a strategy that will not isolate the west, while involving all the countries in the region, whether they are Shiites or Sunnis". Speaking to Italian journalists yesterday, Iraqi foreign minister Hoyshar Zebari stressed the importance of a dialogue with both Damascus and Teheran starting in Baghdad without excluding the initiatives of the western powers involved in the region. "Syria and Iran" D'Alema added, "require different approaches": the dialogue is conditional on the recognition by Damascus of the court tasked with shedding light on the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri and the clarification of Teheran's intentions with regard to its nuclear programme". (AGI) -

Beirut, 1 Dec. (AKI) - A former Lebanese minister affiliated to the Hezbollah movement which is leading calls for Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to resign, says the only way bring stability is a government of national unity containing both pro- and anti-Syrian parties. "If Lebanon's ruling class were to satisfy the demands of the population and were to understand it no longer has a popular nor a constitutional mandate, it would form a government of national unity that would allow Lebanon to emerge from the current political crisis," Muhammad Fanish said in a interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).

Just over a fortnight ago Fanish quit as energy and water resources minister - an exit he made with five other Hezbollah affiliated cabinet members.

On Friday, tens of thousands of people turned out in Beirut to protest against Siniora's government, part of a "mass action" campaign launched by Hezbollah which Fanish said would continue "until the opposition's demands for the creation of a government of national unity are met."

Besides the street demonstrations, Hezbollah has not specified what other form "mass action" may take. Fanish said the Siniora government and its main supporters - the so-called "14 March" anti-Syrian forces that formed in the wake of the 2005 assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri - would be responsible "for what could happen during the protests at a social, economic and security level".

Fanish also denied reports of a behind-the-scenes meeting between the government and the opposition forces to begin negotiations on resolving the current impasse.

"The opposition rejects any normalisation that does not entail the formation of a government of nationaly unity reflecting the views and the trust of the people," he told AKI.

Asked if Siniora's demise could mean an end to the Western support Lebanon has received, Fanish said such aid "does not serve the interests of Lebanon, but only of the political class."

"Washington wants to divides Lebanon and the Lebanese," he said accusing the United States of supporting Israel's military offensive Hezbollah in July-August.

"The war against Lebanon was decided by the Americans and carried out by the Israeli army," he said.

Fanish also described as a "diversionary tactic", the anti-Syrian forces' accusation that Hezbollah and the pro-Syrian parties are hampering attempts to have suspects arrested in connection with Hariri's killing - including several fomer top secuirty officials - tried before an international tribunal.

"Only once a government of national unity is created can all these questions such as the international tribunal, and the presidency be resolved on the basis of consensus and the real interests of the country," he said also referring to the anti-Syrian demands that Lebanon's pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud resign.

Situation Reports: Iraq, UNHCR update on the Iraq situation, Contributions: Iraq, UNHCR update on the Iraq situation:
UNHCR update on the Iraq situation

Current Situation

Iraq is haemorrhaging. The humanitarian crisis which the international community had feared in 2003 is now unfolding. The massive displacement has emerged quietly and without fanfare but the numbers affected are in excess of what many agencies had predicted in 2003.

Since the February 2006 Samarra bombings UNHCR, as Cluster Coordinator for displaced groups inside Iraq (1), estimates some 425,000 Iraqis to have been recently displaced (2). In addition, some two to three thousand Iraqis are leaving per day (3) via neighbouring countries as the extent of the tragedy becomes obvious.

UNHCR estimates that there are at least 1.6 million Iraqis internally displaced with at least another 1.6 – 1.8 million(4) in neighbouring states. The figures in the immediate neighbouring countries are still imprecise but UNHCR estimates that there are some 700,000 Iraqis in Jordan, 500,000 – 600,000 in Syria, 100,000 in Egypt, 20,000 to 40,000 in Lebanon, 54,000 in Iran and tens of thousands more within the region and further a field. Beyond the mass exodus, which has already occurred, population movements show no sign of abating. The needs of IDPs, returnees, refugees and their host communities are dramatic and to a large extent unmet.

The new waves of sectarian violence and the deteriorating humanitarian situation have equally affected the refugee communities – some 50,000 - inside Iraq. Some of them, such as the Palestinians, Syrians and Iranian refugees, have been targeted in deliberate discrimination and attacks by local communities. It is necessary, as part of a comprehensive protection framework, to ensure their immediate survival and emergency needs, while pursuing more vigorously durable solutions inside and outside of Iraq. The situation is more critical as was demonstrated on 19 October with the murder of five Palestinians and the eviction of thousands more over the last few months.(5)

Population of concern in Iraq
Refugees in Iraq (Palestinian, Syrian, Iranian,
Turkish, Sudanese, etc.)
Returnees in Iraq (2003-2006)
IDPs in Iraq (6)
(# of new IDPs Oct'06)
Stateless (Bidouns, etc.)
Iraqis in the region (7)
500,000 – 700,000
25,000 – 40,000

UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies are reporting a rapid deterioration in the well-being of those displaced both internally and in neighbouring states. Initial coping mechanisms of those displaced and the host communities have been depleted as displacement has taken on a more permanent character. Added to the daily violence is an increasing mortality rate, which is a consequence of the rapidly deteriorating health and social infrastructures. Hundreds of thousands of other Iraqis who are "teetering" on the edge of displacement and who have waited to see an improvement in the situation inside Iraq may also soon be pushed into displacement.

The recent fighting in Baquba and Balad has led to more Iraqi families being forced to move a second time after they had already fled from Baghdad. In addition to the ethnic and sectarian re-engineering, recent inter-sectarian fighting in the south of Iraq illustrates that even if Shi'ia and Sunnis moved to homogeneous areas, they still risk secondary displacement.

If Iraqis cannot find protection and assistance from the daily cycle of violence and revenge killings within Iraq, or in neighbouring states, they will increasingly look further a field. While neighbouring states have been relatively welcoming to the vast majority of Iraqis (8) tolerance is growing thin and it is likely that regional governments will become increasingly restrictive with regard to entry, stay and access to social services. In the last month Jordan has made it more difficult for Iraqi children to access public schools due to their limited capacities (which has lead to a burden on private schools). UNHCR has also been informed that Syria might be contemplating reducing the entry permit from six to three months.

Where facilities are available the targeting of professionals such as doctors (9), teachers, computer technicians and even bakers has meant that the skills required to provide basic services are becoming more and more scarce. It is estimated that at least 40 percent of Iraq's professional class has left since 2003 (10). It is hardly surprising therefore that Sweden, for example, has recorded over the last twelve months a four-fold increase in Iraqi asylum applications. The impact of the escalating displacement unless addressed immediately will unfortunately have a long-term impact on the ability of Iraq to recover when stability returns to the country.

Ingredients for more difficulties and challenges for countries in the region to shelter and protect Iraqis are evident. This may lead to possible social unrest and even more significant secondary movements to Europe and other parts of the world. It is therefore critical for the international community to respond urgently to alleviate some of the social costs of the hundreds of thousands of increasingly vulnerable Iraqis in Iraq and the region.

Map: Iraq situation map (as of Oct 2006)


(1) Cluster F (Refugees, IDPs & Durable Solutions) in Iraq consists of UNHCR (lead agency), IOM (deputy), UNAMI, UNOPS, UNICEF, UN-HABITAT, WHO, UNEP, ILO, UNIDO, WFP, UNDP, OHCHR and FAO.

(2) Based on estimates by Iraq's Ministry of Displacement & Migration (MoDM), the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and Cluster F partners.

(3) UNHCR field monitoring reports/Syrian authorities.

(4) This is generally considered on the conservative side, with a number of commentators estimating that there are 1,000,000 Iraqis just in Jordan.

(5) Palestinian media sources report 655 attacks with 165 Palestinians killed.

(6) IDP estimated figures are not static and change by the day as the situation unfolds.

(7) Based on estimates by the government, UNHCR and other UN agencies in each country.

(8) Access for refugee groups such as Palestinians, Iranians etc has been much more restrictive with hundreds trapped at the border between Iraq, Syria and Jordan – or located in camps just inside the border at Ruwayshid and El Hol.

(9) Brookings Institute Iraq Index indicates that 2,500 physicians have been murdered since 2003. This is approximate to the total number killed in the 2006 Israel – Lebanon conflict.

(10) Ibid
IRIN Middle East | Middle East | IRAQ | IRAQ: Um Khalid, Iraq “Men here believe they are immune to the disease” | HIV AIDS | News Items:
IRAQ: Um Khalid, Iraq “Men here believe they are immune to the disease”

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

BAGHDAD, 30 Nov 2006 (IRIN/PLUSNEWS) - Iraq has traditionally had one of the lowest incidences of HIV/AIDS in the Middle East. This started to slowly change after the US-led invasion in 2003 brought hundreds of foreigners into the country, opening the doors for the spread of the virus, health workers say.

The Baghdad-based AIDS Research Centre said that new cases are appearing monthly and with the current chaos in the public health services, patients might suffer severely with the lack of appropriate medicines.
Backing Iraq war 'my biggest political mistake,' says ex-minister - Irna:
Backing Iraq war 'my biggest political mistake,' says ex-minister
London, Dec 1, IRNA

UK Meacher-Iraq War
One of Prime Minister Tony Blair's former cabinet ministers admitted Friday that his biggest political mistake was voting for British troops to support the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Supporting the Iraq war in the Commons three years ago was the "biggest error of judgment of my political life," former Environment Secretary Michael Meacher said Friday.

"Like millions of others, I now bitterly resent that a prime minister could use such a farrago of lies and manipulation to deceive us and to take the nation to war so dishonestly," Meacher said.

His candid admission, made on the Guardian's Comment is Free website, was being linked with his potential candidacy to replace Prime Minister Tony Blair as Labour leader when he steps down from power next year.

The 67-year old veteran MP is reportedly battling with his left-wing colleague John McDonnell to stand in an eventual election on a similar platform aimed at returning Britain's ruling party back to its working-class roots based on socialist principles.

McDonnell, who has already declared his candidacy, has already pledged to withdraw British troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan in the forlorn hope of replacing Blair as prime minister.

The Guardian said that Meacher was one of a number of likely Labour leadership and deputy leadership candidates being pressed to admit that the war has proved to be a mistake.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, the clear favourite to replace Blair, has continued to express his support for the government's Iraq war policy.

But last month, former Home Secretary David Blunkett revealed in his published diaries that the prime minister threatened to sack Brown unless he offered his unequivocal public support for the Iraq war in the final five days before the 2003 invasion.
Over 10 US Invaders Annihilated in Iraq
Publication time: Today at 18:50 Djokhar time

On Thursday afternoon, an Iraqi Mujahideen bomb exploded by a US armored vehicle on al-Jaliy Street in the middle of Hit, 165km northwest of Baghdad. The high-explosive bomb targeted a US Humvee as it passed along the unpaved dirt road known as al-Jali Street. The blast flipped the armored vehicle upside down and set it ablaze, as parts of the vehicle went flying around the area. In addition to destroying the armored vehicle, the powerful bomb also killed four American troops inside.

An Iraqi Mujahideen bomb exploded by a US foot patrol in southern al-Hadithah, 236km northwest of Baghdad on Thursday morning. The bomb that had been planted by a side street in the as-Subhani area of southern al-Hadithah went off by a US foot patrol, killing three American troops and wounding several more.

Fighting took place between Mujahideen and US occupation troops in the city of al-Fallujah on Wednesday evening. The battle took place between 12 Mujahideen and US troops in the middle of ath-Tharthar street. It began when a Resistance fighter fired an SPG-9 rocket at a US military position on the street, scoring a direct hit.

An Iraqi Resistance bomb exploded by a US military patrol in the city of ‘Anah, about 300km northwest of Baghdad. The bomb that had been planted on the earthen shoulders of a road went of by a US foot patrol on Wednesday. The explosion killed three American soldiers and wounded several more.

A Mujahideen bomb that had been planted near the Fourth Market in the middle of ‘Anah blew up by an American foot patrol, killing one US soldier and wounding others, some of them severely.

On Thursday afternoon, Iraqi Mujahideen mounted a rocket attack on a US sniper position in eastern ar-Ramadi, about 110km west of Baghdad. They fired S5K rockets at a house that US snipers have taken over as a post for themselves near the as-Sufiyah area of eastern ar-Ramadi. A large part of the house was destroyed. After the initial rocket attack, another Muhahideen unit armed with medium machine guns and rockets attacked the post, totally destroying it and killing or wounded at least seven US troops inside.

An Iraqi Mujahideen bomb exploded by a US military column south of Kirkuk on the road to Bayji on Wednesday evening. The bomb that had been planted near the village of as-Safrah on the road from Kirkuk to Bayji went off by a passing US column. The blast completely destroyed a Humvee, killing or wounding all the Americans aboard it, the Al Basrah reported.
Are the 70,000 Pentagon Mercs in Iraq killing Shias, Sunnis?
Publication time: 28 November 2006, 12:27

The kidnapping of four American security contractors earlier this month in Iraq revived allegations that U.S. private security companies are involved in the current bloodshed in Iraq. Iraq war is not just fought by occupation armies and resistance fighters- private firms, consisting of gun-wielding ex-soldiers, are also involved.

Could some of the Pentagon's hired Mercenaries be the real perpetrators of the daily bombings and assassinations of Sunnis and Shias in Iraq?

Is the current disaster taking place in the war-torn country part of a wider plot to provoke a U.S./Israeli planned civil war that will dismember Iraq?

That is what's being said in Young Pelton's upcoming book "Licensed To Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror"

Pelton, a journalist, filmmaker, and explorer who authored The World's Most Dangerous Places, Come Back Alive, The Adventurist, and Three Worlds Gone Mad, suggests that there are more than 70,000 armed men working as security contractors in Iraq to back the U.S. military as the U.S. begins to draw down troops.

What backs Pelton's revelations and shocking facts he discovered about the world of military contractors is what Nick Bicanic and Jason Bourque uncover in their "Shadow Company" documentary that unveils the origins and destinations of these modern-day guns for hire.

Who are these security contractors? What do they do? Why do they do it? Bicanic's documentary answers these questions.

Shadow Company highlights the danger of allowing profit-motivated firms to get into the business of war.

Those individuals, those modern-day mercenaries, are changing the face of modern warfare while their world has remained mystery to those at home.

The U.S. believes in using private sector in all facets of its so-called "War on Terror"; resorting to contractors to back its military, giving them a license to kill- their services available to the highest bidder.

Click Here to view the trailer from "Shadow Company", the investigative documentary that reveals the truth about the thousands of private soldiers operating in Iraq and all over the world.

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