Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Wednesday December 6 2006 News From Iraq Translated From Arabic

Fathers with their dead children in IraqAswat al Iraq: Sadrists Bloc Call Government Extension of Occupation Unconstitutional:
Bahaa Al-Araji a mainstream member of the Sadrist trend said that the bloc rejected the presence of foreign troopers in the country and rejected any invitation to them to stay. He said the Sadrists are committed to their suspension of membership until their demands were met. Among these demands are the "return of the government to its senses," and the restructuring of the security portfolio. He pointed out that the Sadrists control 111 votes and thus the government extending the stay of foreign forces was "contrary to the Constitution and the law " He also said earlier that Sadrists rejected all such calls irrespective of who the came from ""We are against the presence of foreign forces on Iraqi territory, whether the call [for them to stay] is issued by Mr. Hakim (Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, head of the United Iraqi Alliance (the largest parliamentary bloc) or from others."

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32551
Aswat al Iraq: Food Smuggling Basra:
Detachments from the National Investigation Directorate arrested trucks loaded with foodstuffs from Umm Qasr port to the black markets in Basra. The trucks were carrying cooking oil, rice and other ration card items.

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32550
Aswat al Iraq Baghdad:
A worker at a fuel station in the Za'faraniya district was shot dead today.

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32543
Aswat al Iraq: Fallujah Checkpoint Attacked :
The southern gate checkpoint Fallujah, came under mortar attack today at around noon. Three shells were fired American forces supported by Iraqi army and local police forces directly supervise all the seven gates of Fallujah.

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32542
Aswat al Iraq: Snipers Cause Panic in Baghdad :

[This article is very long and contains far too much "heroic" speech by the commander of police. Who says that matters will improve when full responsibility is transferred to his men. I Doubt this and summarise the story - Laith]
A policeman was shot by a sniper. His collapse caused panic among bystanders who feared that they would be next. They fled on foot or by car. The story quotes Abu Jawad [this is certainly a false name to protect the man - Laith] a bus driver who said that there are many rumours that high rise building harbour many snipers and that these rumours become more numerous after a shooting because they are spread by panicking fleeing people. The panic was made worse by the police shooting back. Nobody knew where the sniper was therefore the police fired into the air in many directions all at once.

Abu Ali [this also is certainly a false name to protect the man - Laith] a seller of newspapers confirms this account to Aswataliraq. He added that there is constant talk of high-rise apartment buildings being used by the snipers to target the police and citizens alike. Salah [from now you will know all these are protection names - Laith] the owner of a clothing shop for men in Sadr city said he no longer goes to al-Shorja market every day but only two time a week for fear of snipers. The story also talks of a man a seller of chickpeas shot in the neck by a sniper who died before the operation to remover it could begin. His children say it is a mystery why he was shot.

Finally the story says that many of the snipers are elderly men, often not well educated, but were trained well in shooting in the 1960s and 1970s it then repeats the idle boasting of the police commander.

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32540
Aswat al Iraq Basrah shootings:

Two civilians were killed and five others injured during fighting between British invader forces and gunmen 8 kilometres west of Basra fact. The media spokesman for British forces a Captain Dunlop also told Aswataliraq that "British soldiers were wounded today during a clash with gunmen in southern Basra." The injured soldier was evacuated to hospital for treatment according to Captain Dunlop. Another story says that the British invader base in the Shatt al-Arab Hotel (10 km) north of Basra, was bombed at dawn today with seven mortar shells. [None of the shells hit according to the British perhaps the resistance were just reminding them that they are unwelcome in Iraq - Laith]

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32539
Karbala Cement A French Company Invests:
A French company is investing in the company. 500 residential homes will be built as part of the plan.

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32537
Camp Cropper American Prison:
A detainee has died. The Americans say he had a heart attack. [I say if the Americans were not in the country and imprisoned him without trial he might well not have had a heart attack. - Laith]

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32535
Muqdadiyah Abduction:
12 people were abducted by gunmen. They were abducted from the bus terminal in al-Muqdadiya town, some 54 km east of Ba’quba, Their fate is unknown.

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32532

Baghdad-Blast :: Aswat al Iraq :: Today's English Story:
Voices of Iraq: Baghdad-Blast
Posted by: nadioshka on Wednesday, December 06, 2006 - 08:48 AM
Baghdad-Blast
Roadside bomb wounds nine civilians in central Baghdad
By Adel Fakher
Baghdad, Dec 6, (VOI) – About nine civilians were wounded in a roadside bomb explosion on Mohammed al-Qassem highway in central Baghdad on Monday morning, eyewitnesses said.
The blast also badly damaged two civilian cars that carrying the victims, a medic told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).
Motorists stopped to rush the wounded the Ibn al-Nafees hospital before the arrival of security forces and ambulances, he said.
Rubaie claims senior Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia figure killed :

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32530

Muwaffaq Rubaie: Baghdad (Voices of Iraq) Muwaffaq Rubaie national security adviser announced the death of a SIC to Abu Ayub the Egyptian leader of the so-called Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. He also announced the arrest of eight alleged Al Ansar Al-Sunnah fighters.

Anfal Case:

Anfal: Judge Mohammed Khalifa, adjourned the session for a break having heard prosecution evidence that from a medical witness that villages in Kurdistan were attacked with chemical weaponry. All the accused, including Saddam Hussein, the deposed Iraqi President were present. Hussein announced that he would suspend his attendance at the hearings in protest at not being allowed to comment on statements by prosecution witnesses.

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32529

Khalis (15 km north of Baquba) Shooting of Labourers:

Khalis: Two labourers were killed and eight others injured when an armed group opened fire on their car. The labourers were on their way to work in Khalis (15 km north of Baquba.) Two of the injured are in a critical condition with severe head injuries.

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32525

Diwaniyah:

Diwaniyah: The American Camp Echo (Al-Qadissiya) came under mortar fire yesterday evening. A patrol in the centre of city opened fire this morning shooting several women, No explanation for the shootings was forthcoming.


http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32524

Fallujah:

Al-Anbar: Fallujah: Eyewitness report from Fallujah said that an American APC was destroyed in a roadside bombing. The report mentions the increased security measures adopted by the Americans to try to prevent such attacks. The report also mentions that American helicopters were at scene shortly after the attack. [This is what Americans and English call reading among the lines the writer believes the report and also believes the security measures are not effective - Laith]

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32522

Kurdish Parliament Legal Texts Complaint:

The Kurdistan Parliament received a demand from 40 of its deputies demanding the use of Kurdish in all official correspondence and legal texts. The deputy Eruz Abdullah said to Aswataliraq that the these documents were often very incorrect in Kurdish. Explaining that this was because the legal draft was made in Arabic and then translated in Kurdish. He wants it done the other way around. The parliament has 111 members and is in Irbil.


http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32521

Aswat al Iraq: Wasit: Americans Prevented from Entering University:

Security guards at the college of education prevented Americans in APCs from coming into the campus. Hamid Turki Abbas, Director of Information at the University told Aswataliraq that the patrol consisted of several armoured vehicles and was stopped by the University guards from entering. The rest of the article explains that the Americans and campuses security have an agreement that the Americans will warn the security before trying to enter. The report says that the Americans left without making any trouble when they were reminded of this.

[This is a "new" college founded in 1998. It used to be part of the University of Qadisiya but when the University of Wasit was started in 2001 Saddam transferred it to that university - Laith.]

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32519

Al Anbar Fallujah:

The Head Quarters position of troops loyal to the green zone government was attacked in Fallujah this morning. It was attacked with a RPG followed by violent clashes between the troops and gunmen using automatic gunfire. The fighting lasted for about an hour the position is very close to the Main Street and citizens fled in panic. There is no mention of casualties.

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32518

Green Zone "Parliament" :

This report deals with the debate in parliament about Annan. The English version of the story is underneath.

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32517

Turkish Army Bombard Ceara Kurki in Dahuk :

Turkish soldiers subjected the border area of Ceara Kurki of Dahuk to artillery bombing. They started about 6:30AM the bombardment lasted about 30 minutes. No damage was reported. [The area is inhabited by nomadic people who herd sheep goats and cows. It is infested by Pesh terrorists who attack Turkey often - Laith]

http://www.aswataliraq.info/print.php?sid=32511

Kut:

A village north of Kut in Wasit was shelled by mortar fire around dawn. One person was killed and two wounded.

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32508

Aswat al Iraq: Sadrists Bloc Call Government Extension of Occupation Unconstitutional:
Bahaa Al-Araji a mainstream member of the Sadrist trend said that the bloc rejected the presence of foreign troopers in the country and rejected any invitation to them to stay. He said the Sadrists are committed to their suspension of membership until their demands were met. Among these demands are the "return of the government to its senses," and the restructuring of the security portfolio. He pointed out that the Sadrists control 111 votes and thus the government extending the stay of foreign forces was "contrary to the Constitution and the law " He also said earlier that Sadrists rejected all such calls irrespective of who the came from ""We are against the presence of foreign forces on Iraqi territory, whether the call [for them to stay] is issued by Mr. Hakim (Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, head of the United Iraqi Alliance (the largest parliamentary bloc) or from others."

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32551
Aswat al Iraq: Food Smuggling Basra:
Detachments from the National Investigation Directorate arrested trucks loaded with foodstuffs from Umm Qasr port to the black markets in Basra. The trucks were carrying cooking oil, rice and other ration card items.

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32550
Aswat al Iraq Baghdad:
A worker at a fuel station in the Za'faraniya district was shot dead today.

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32543
Aswat al Iraq: Fallujah Checkpoint Attacked :
The southern gate checkpoint Fallujah, came under mortar attack today at around noon. Three shells were fired American forces supported by Iraqi army and local police forces directly supervise all the seven gates of Fallujah.

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32542
Aswat al Iraq: Snipers Cause Panic in Baghdad :

[This article is very long and contains far too much "heroic" speech by the commander of police. Who says that matters will improve when full responsibility is transferred to his men. I Doubt this and summarise the story - Laith]

A policeman was shot by a sniper. His collapse caused panic among bystanders who feared that they would be next. They fled on foot or by car. The story quotes Abu Jawad [this is certainly a false name to protect the man - Laith] a bus driver who said that there are many rumours that high rise building harbour many snipers and that these rumours become more numerous after a shooting because they are spread by panicking fleeing people. The panic was made worse by the police shooting back. Nobody knew where the sniper was therefore the police fired into the air in many directions all at once.

Abu Ali [this also is certainly a false name to protect the man - Laith] a seller of newspapers confirms this account to Aswataliraq. He added that there is constant talk of high-rise apartment buildings being used by the snipers to target the police and citizens alike. Salah [from now you will know all these are protection names - Laith] the owner of a clothing shop for men in Sadr city said he no longer goes to al-Shorja market every day but only two time a week for fear of snipers. The story also talks of a man a seller of chickpeas shot in the neck by a sniper who died before the operation to remover it could begin. His children say it is a mystery why he was shot.

Finally the story says that many of the snipers are elderly men, often not well educated, but were trained well in shooting in the 1960s and 1970s it then repeats the idle boasting of the police commander.

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32540
Aswat al Iraq Basrah shootings:

Two civilians were killed and five others injured during fighting between British invader forces and gunmen 8 kilometres west of Basra fact. The media spokesman for British forces a Captain Dunlop also told Aswataliraq that "British soldiers were wounded today during a clash with gunmen in southern Basra." The injured soldier was evacuated to hospital for treatment according to Captain Dunlop. Another story says that the British invader base in the Shatt al-Arab Hotel (10 km) north of Basra, was bombed at dawn today with seven mortar shells. [None of the shells hit according to the British perhaps the resistance were just reminding them that they are unwelcome in Iraq - Laith]

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32539
Karbala Cement A French Company Invests:
A French company is investing in the company. 500 residential homes will be built as part of the plan.

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32537
Camp Cropper American Prison:
A detainee has died. The Americans say he had a heart attack. [I say if the Americans were not in the country and imprisoned him without trial he might well not have had a heart attack. - Laith]

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32535
Muqdadiyah Abduction:
12 people were abducted by gunmen. They were abducted from the bus terminal in al-Muqdadiya town, some 54 km east of Ba’quba, Their fate is unknown.

http://www.aswataliraq.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=32532

Baghdad-Blast :: Aswat al Iraq :: Today's English Story:
Voices of Iraq: Baghdad-Blast
Posted by: nadioshka on Wednesday, December 06, 2006 - 08:48 AM
Baghdad-Blast
Roadside bomb wounds nine civilians in central Baghdad
By Adel Fakher
Baghdad, Dec 6, (VOI) – About nine civilians were wounded in a roadside bomb explosion on Mohammed al-Qassem highway in central Baghdad on Monday morning, eyewitnesses said.
The blast also badly damaged two civilian cars that carrying the victims, a medic told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).
Motorists stopped to rush the wounded the Ibn al-Nafees hospital before the arrival of security forces and ambulances, he said.

News From Foreign Agencies Selected by my sons:


IRIN IRAQ: Najjet Muhammad, Iraq "I cannot stand the beatings any more":
IRAQ: Najjet Muhammad, Iraq "I cannot stand the beatings any more"

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
[This report does not reflect my views either. It is deeply shameful to beat women they rely on us for their protection. I see much of this now. A family will come to the Mosque asking for help. But I know that many more suffer behind doors and dare not ask for help. There is so much hate and rage and fear that men who are weak but would like to believe they are strong behave like beasts to their family. It is understandable but it is not excusable to behave so. Also the children of the street are often beaten. - Laith ]

NAJAF, 6 Dec 2006 (IRIN) - Iraqi women have been increasingly subjected to violence, rape, death and restriction of movement since a deterioration of security followed the US-led invasion of late 2003, according to the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), an international women’s rights NGO.

Despite calls by local NGOs, such as the Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), for better protection of Iraqi women, Iraqi law neither protects women from the authorities nor their own families.

Najjet Muhammad, a 38-year-old mother-of-three who resides in the Shi’ite holy city of Najjaf, told IRIN her ordeal.

"I cannot stand the beating anymore. Every day my husband finds a reason to beat my face or throw whatever he has in his hand at me. The last time he threw a knife at me because I was cooking rice with carrots, which he hates, but which the children like.

"Most of the time he has no reason to beat me, but even though he does [beat me] I know I cannot leave. My family told me that only prostitutes divorce their husbands. I'm in my parents’ home today because my husband is travelling. I came here just to have some rest from that house that has been a prison to me since I was married.

“I never go out alone. My life is to clean, cook and look after my young children.

"I asked my husband to let me teach at a nearby school because I am a primary school teacher. The answer he gave me was a half-hour beating over all my body with his belt and shoe.

"A month ago, he hit my abdomen so hard that I had to be taken to the hospital. He told them I had fallen over the table and I had to lower my face, since I knew it was a lie.

"I'm tired of this violence inside my home. Muslim Shi’ite society, especially in Najjaf, does not give rights to women. It suppresses women, saying women were born for marriage and domestic work and that their voices should never be heard. And we are not in Afghanistan here, but in Iraq, a country that was once known for its modernity and prosperity."

as/hm/ar/ed

[ENDS]
Copyright © IRIN 2006
The material contained on www.IRINnews.org comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. All IRIN material may be reposted or reprinted free-of-charge; refer to the IRIN copyright page for conditions of use. IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Reuters AlertNet - Civil war? No, that'll be much worse, Iraqis say:
By Mariam Karouny

BAGHDAD, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Enraged citizens going from house to house, street to street, killing their neighbours of decades, with security forces powerless to stop them -- that is the nightmare many Iraqis fear if the country sinks into civil war.

The toll of sectarian bombings, shootings and murders which militants are exacting may be appalling, but many Iraqis think it is nothing compared to what genuine civil war would bring.

So for all the debate abroad on whether civil war already exists, and despite U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's declaration that it does, officials here refuse to agree -- partly because they hope the worst can still be averted.

"The situation is bad and it is getting worse," an official from the main Shi'ite political bloc, the United Alliance, told Reuters. "But one thing is certain -- this is not yet civil war.

"I hope we never get there because if we do the killing will be on a massive scale -- the Iraqi people would become extinct."

The growing depth of sectarian sentiment within the Shi'ite and Sunni Muslim communities, which has caused ordinary people to become estranged, and the ubiquity of weaponry in a country where nearly every household has a Kalashnikov automatic rifle lead many to believe all-out civil war would be devastating.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's unity government put out an angry statement late on Monday rejecting the comments by Annan that Iraq was already in the grip of "civil war" much worse than that of Lebanon in the 1980s and that people had cause to feel life was better before U.S. troops overthrew Saddam Hussein.

It accused Annan of "gilding the image" of Saddam's rule.

Today's picture is nonetheless grim. The United Nations estimated that some 120 people were killed a day in October, many by sectarian deaths squads, some operating under cover of the security forces themselves, who snatch people from streets and homes, torture them and then dump their bodies.

The latest Iraqi data for November has suggested a leap of another 40 percent or more in the death rate last month. The U.N. also found that 100,000 people were fleeing the country every month. Proportional to the population, that is equal to 1 million Americans emigrating every four weeks.

NOT YET BOSNIA

But a senior European diplomat in Baghdad agreed with the government that the situation in Iraq was still not beyond solution and so could not yet be labelled civil war.

"If there is a civil war here it would be like Bosnia multiplied by 5 or 6," he said, recalling the way the Balkan state was carved up into rival territories and neighbours turned on each other, killing civilians in "ethnic cleansing".

The United Alliance official noted that the government had been able to impose a form of order by declaring curfews on Baghdad, such as after a bombing last month that killed over 200 people in the deadliest attack since the U.S. invasion.

If it were no longer able to do that, and if it no longer had control over security forces that many fear are loyal more to sectarian leaders, then Iraq would be in civil war, he said:

"So far, when we impose a curfew people observe it. But if there's civil war, no one will listen to anything the government says even with thousands of troops on the streets -- and that's if the security forces don't just join in."

As Maliki announced another round of high-level "national reconciliation" talks among the main community leaders in mid- December, a senior government official insisted all was not lost. "The situation here is still controllable and reversible, so it can't really be considered a civil war," he said.

Another Shi'ite politician, speaking anonymously as most do in Iraq for fear of violent reprisal, said: "Yes, there are militias but they are taking up arms to achieve political goals and their leaderships are clear on this and can control them."

Others, including U.S. military officers, question how far many armed Iraqis are responsive to the higher leadership.

But Baghdad political scientist Hazim al-Naimi said leaders still had the power to hold most people back from the brink -- if the dominant groups acknowledge that no one group can win outright control of the oil-rich state and agree to share power:

"The officials can stop this ugliness when they want to. The question is: 'Have we entered the black hole yet, the point of no return?' The answer is: 'Not yet'."
Dissenting voices in Iraq gov't rising - Yahoo! News:
By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer 2 minutes ago

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Sunni dissent is rising inside
Iraq's Shiite-led ruling coalition, boding ill for a government already heavily criticized for its failure to curb sectarian violence, end a relentless Sunni-led insurgency and stem crime and unemployment.

The top two Sunni Arab members of Iraq's Shiite-led government painted a dire picture Tuesday of conditions in Iraq, with one saying the government was to blame for the country's "chaos" and the other saying Iraq was worse off than Lebanon during its civil war.

The grim assessments by parliament Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani and Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi came on a day when the unity of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's ruling coalition was dealt a fresh blow by followers of a radical Shiite cleric making good on their threat to boycott parliament.

The criticism came as Washington looked to al-Maliki's government to show strength in dealing with militias blamed for the sectarian violence and oversee preparations for Iraqi forces to take the lead on the battlefield from the U.S. military, allowing Washington to wind down its unpopular, 44-month-old military involvement in Iraq.

"There is a vacuum of authority resulting from the government's weakness and its inability to exercise its legitimate powers," said al-Mashhadani, the speaker, said in a prepared statement unusually harsh in its criticism of al-Maliki's government.

"This has produced so much chaos...experience shows that our real problem lies in the fact that we failed to create a strong state and a united government," he told lawmakers in an informal session. His comments were broadcast in full by the state-run Iraqiyah television.

He blamed sectarian politics, narrow interests and competition for domination by rival political groups for Iraq's problems and called for the creation of a "national Iraqi alliance" to deal with them. He did not provide details on the nature of that grouping or its mandate.

Al-Hashemi, the vice president due to visit the White House next month, said he did not see the point of categorizing the violence raging in Iraq — the U.N. says an average of 100 Iraqis are killed every day at present — as a civil war.

"But I want to say in all honesty that Iraq is undergoing a very huge calamity," he said in an interview aired Tuesday on Baghdad, the television station of his Iraqi Islamic Party.

"All this suffering has placed Iraq way beyond what happened in Lebanon's civil war," he said.

The analogy between Iraq's violence and Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war was used by U.N. Secretary-General
Kofi Annan this week, who also told the British Broadcasting Corp., that Iraqis may have reason to think their life now is worse than it was under ousted leader
Saddam Hussein.

"The situation is difficult. Iraq is going through an unprecedented predicament," said al-Hashemi.

Criticism from his Sunni Arab partners could particularly hurt al-Maliki, who seems never to tire of touting his administration as a national unity government that includes Shiites, Sunni Arabs and Kurds. His critics, however, cast doubt on his claim and charge that he has monopolized decision-making. A secret White House memo also cast doubt on his ability to curb the violence and on his authority.

Deepening his woes, 30 Shiite lawmakers from a political bloc that's a partner in his coalition made good Tuesday on its vow to boycott parliament, staying away from a session, thus depriving the 275-member house of its quorum. Only 125 legislators attended.

The lawmakers and five Cabinet minister, all loyal to anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, announced their boycott of the parliament and government last week to protest a meeting between al-Maliki and
President Bush in Amman, in neighboring Jordan.

The meeting, which took place Thursday, was an insult to the Iraqi people, they said.

Al-Sadr's followers said they would not lift their boycott until the government announced a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops in Iraq, who include an estimated 140,000 U.S. service members, and the improvement of services like electricity.

"We know that the government is unable to announce a timetable for the withdrawal but history will not show us any mercy," a top al-Sadr aide, Jalil al-Nouri, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "But history will show the Sadrist movement to be patriotic."

Al-Nouri, however, appeared to rule out any action by al-Sadr's supporters to press the movement's demands, such as street protests or strikes.

"Sayed al-Sadr has asked us to calmly wait for our conditions to be met," he said, using an Arabic honorific to refer to al-Sadr.

"Our position will be weak if we resume participation without our conditions being met," said Sadrist lawmaker Falah Shanshal, suggesting that the group may hold out for a face-saving compromise.

Bush has rejected announcing a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. forces in Iraq, arguing that such a move would benefit insurgents in Iraq.

Al-Maliki, who owes his position in part to al-Sadr's support, admonished the Sadrists for their action in a televised news conference Tuesday, but did not say what action, if any, he planned to take against them.

"We have said over and over again, this is a government of partnership in which they cannot be partners without the commitment that goes with it," he said, without elaboration.
As War Ravages Baghdad, City’s Ambulance Workers Must Pick Up the Pieces:
As War Ravages Baghdad, City’s Ambulance Workers Must Pick Up the Pieces
By MICHAEL LUO

BAGHDAD — Each time emergency workers return to the Mansour district ambulance station after a run, they jot notes in a dog-eared logbook that doubles as a grim diary of life here in the capital.

Sept. 10, for example: bombing with two dead.

Or Sept. 29: woman shot in the abdomen.

Oct. 10: man with shrapnel wounds.

Ambulance workers have among the clearest views of Baghdad’s descent into chaos. As the city has disintegrated around them, they have been left to pick up the pieces. They are often overwhelmed, and have increasingly become targets themselves.

“These three years have been equal to 16 years as a paramedic,” said Ali Jasim, 38, before he set off on a convoy carrying medicine and other supplies to Balad, a town north of the capital that was the site of horrific sectarian bloodletting.

Before the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s government in 2003, so-called hot calls, for bombings or shootings, were virtually nonexistent for Baghdad’s emergency workers. Now most of Baghdad’s ambulance calls are hot. A relatively calm 24-hour shift might mean having to wash the blood from their clothes only once, the workers say.

In this war-ravaged city of five million people, only about 90 ambulances and crews are typically available on any given day for emergency calls, said Dr. Hashim Jabbar Muhammad, chief of the Health Ministry’s emergency directorate. He said international standards recommended several times that number for a city this size.

The city’s emergency dispatch system, the Iraqi equivalent of 911, amounts to a dingy room with 10 phone lines; on a recent visit, three of them were broken. Calls come in at a rate of about one every 10 minutes, although residents often complain that the lines are busy.

Each call requires a cumbersome process of calling back to make sure the call is legitimate.

The ambulance corps here and elsewhere in Iraq feel each spike in violence. When sectarian assassinations surged after the attack on a sacred Shiite shrine in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, in February, the Baghdad ambulance drivers who pick up dead bodies were swamped.

The capital’s maddening traffic, and the fact that most residents ignore sirens, compound the challenges. Ambulance crews are also treated with suspicion by American troops because militants have been known to use ambulances to transport weapons or bombs. The Americans frequently pull over ambulances in the middle of runs to search them.

Emergency workers earn salaries that are often barely enough to live on, as little as $80 a month for new paramedics. Drivers are also held responsible for any damage they incur on their vehicles.

“I wish I could quit,” said Muhammad Nerous, 26, who has been a paramedic for six years and works at a station in the Bab Sharji neighborhood. “Every day when I come to work, I pray there will be no explosions because I am fed up with these scenes.”

As they rush to bombings now, a secondary blast is often aimed at them. Eleven emergency workers were killed in 2006. Previously, six others had been killed since early 2004, when the department started keeping track.

More than 10 percent of Baghdad’s ambulance drivers have resigned in the last three months alone as violence has escalated, said Dr. Muhammad of the Health Ministry.

On a typical call last month, a crew from the center in Mansour, a troubled western Baghdad neighborhood, transported a woman who had just gone into labor to the hospital. But after dropping her off, a firefight broke out nearby, and the crew was stuck in the cross-fire.

Upon their return, the workers scrawled a new notation in the logbook: “We could have been killed for this assignment. But God’s protection was available.”

It was apparently unavailable several months ago when gunmen killed an ambulance driver from Mansour en route to the dangerous southern neighborhood of Dora. As the ambulance was stopped in traffic, two men appeared and sprayed the vehicle with bullets. The driver, Akram Muhammad Sahih, 34, a married father of two, was killed.

“I pretended I was dead,” said Ali Jabbar Hatin, 34, who was sitting next to Mr. Sahih in the ambulance. He escaped injury but the other paramedic in the vehicle was wounded.

Arkan Ali Hussein, 40, a veteran paramedic who works out of the Mansour center, has an unusual system for keeping in touch with his worried wife throughout his 24-hour shift. She calls his cellphone and hangs up, avoiding a charge. When he calls back and then hangs up, she knows he is alive, he said. The pair exchange missed calls at least a dozen times a day.

But he is reluctant to share with her the horror he sees. Two months ago, a man wearing a suicide belt detonated himself at an army recruiting center in western Baghdad. Mr. Hussein was among the first to arrive.

“There were pieces of flesh everywhere,” he said. “People were yelling and screaming.”

The first man he treated was badly burned, riddled with shrapnel. He shoved a tube into the man’s mouth to establish an airway, then rushed him to the hospital.

When he returned, he spotted a severed leg lying on the ground but could not find the body it belonged to, so he left it, moving on to another victim. The gruesome injuries that he sees nowadays, he said, are much worse than anything he witnessed as a medic in the military during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

“Back then, there was a bullet in the body or a blast from a mine.” he said, “Now we’re finding flesh everywhere, heads, legs and hands.”

Most of the paramedics have only minimal training. As a result, Dr. Muhammad said, their main strategy, rather than treating patients in the field, is to “scoop and run.”

Often, however, there is little they can do. Bilal Mehdi, 26; his brother, Hilmi, 23; and their father, Mehdi Hussain Lazim, 54, are part of a small contingent of emergency workers who only pick up the dead.

Earlier this year, they helped deliver 800 bodies to the morgue in one month from a single sewage treatment station in the mixed eastern Baghdad neighborhood of Rustamiya. Bilal Mehdi said he took 300 bodies himself. Militia members had been dumping bodies into the sewers nearby, and they would wind up at the station. Mr. Mehdi had to clamber down by rope to retrieve the putrid remains.

More recently, he said, he delivered a dozen bodies stacked in his ambulance in one trip from Mahmudiya, south of the capital; some of them decapitated, some without legs. He drove back with his head out the window, because the smell was so overpowering.

As the body count in Baghdad continues to mount, Mr. Mehdi says he wishes he could leave his job. But without any other job prospects, he is stuck for now. He knows it is only a matter of time until his next call.

Wisam A. Habeeb contributed reporting.
8 Iraqis killed, 40 wounded in Baghdad - Yahoo! News:
By QAIS Al-BASHIR, Associated Press Writer 15 minutes ago

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A mortar attack killed at least eight people and wounded dozens in a secondhand goods market Wednesday in a shelling followed closely by a suicide bombing in the Sadr City Shiite district of the capital, police said.

Two rounds landed and exploded at 11:20 a.m. in the Haraj Market in a mixed Shiite-Sunni area in northern Baghdad, said police officers Ali Mutab and Mohammed Khayoun, who provided the casualty totals.

About 25 minutes later, a suicide bomber with explosives hidden beneath his clothing set them off aboard a bus in Sadr City, killing two people and wounding 15, police 1st Lt. Thaer Mahmoud said.

It appeared to be the first attack by suspected Sunni Arab insurgents on the large Shiite slum since Nov. 23, when a bombing and mortar attack killed 215 people in the deadliest single attack since the
Iraq war started more than three years ago.

The latest eruptions of Iraq's unrelenting sectarian violence came hours before the anticipated release of a long-awaited study by the Iraq Study Group, a blue-ribbon panel headed by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind.

It is expected to recommend gradually transforming the U.S. mission from combat to training and supporting Iraqi units, with a goal of pulling back American combat troops by early 2008. It is also expected to urge a more energetic effort to involve Iraq's neighbors in ending the violence, including
Iran and
Syria, which the U.S. considers pariah states.

Some Iraqis, while critical of U.S. strategy in Iraq, said they feared any new policy would lead to more suffering for their country.

"They (U.S officials) are defeated in Iraq. So they are trying to seek for an outlet to get out of their plight in Iraq. And I think the outlet will be at the expense of the Iraqi people," Maan al-Obeidi, a professor and political analyst at al-Nahrain University in Baghdad, told AP Television News.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki persisted, meanwhile, with his efforts to curb the violence, urging university professors and students to ignore "the desperate attempts" of a Sunni Arab insurgent group to keep them from class.

The group had sent e-mails to students and posted signs at schools and mosques saying students should stay away while it cleanses the campuses of Shiite death squads, according to a statement from the prime minister's office late Tuesday.

But attacks by suspected Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias began soon after sunrise.

At 8:30 a.m., Brig. Muhssin Qassim al-Yassiri, head of a security force that guards the Education Ministry, narrowly escaped an assassination attempt when gunmen opened fire on his vehicle in west Baghdad, killing his driver, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the media.

Five minutes earlier, a roadside bomb exploded near a police patrol in east Baghdad, but caused no casualties, police Capt. Mohammed Abdul-Ghani said.

A bomb also exploded near a shop in Iskandariyah, 30 miles south of Baghdad, killing its owner and wounding four people, said police Capt. Muthana Lkalid.

U.S. ground and air forces also conducted a raid targeting foreign insurgents near the Iranian border, killing a militant who opened fire on an aircraft, the U.S. command said.

The early morning raid took place near Khanaqin, a remote desert area 87 miles northeast of Baghdad where U.S. forces have helped Iraqi soldiers set up outposts designed to stop foreign insurgents and their weapons supplies from crossing into Iraq.

A coalition aircraft was leaving the raid when it took small arms fire from a vehicle below; it returned fire, destroying vehicle and killing its armed insurgent, the command said. One suspected militant also was detained during the raid, which resulted in no U.S. casualties, the brief statement said.

A new poll by WorldPublicOpinion.org, meanwhile, found that 75 percent of Americans believe that in order to stabilize Iraq the U.S. should enter into talks with Iran and Syria, and nearly 80 percent support an international conference on Iraq. A majority also oppose keeping U.S. forces in Iraq indefinitely and instead support committing to a timetable for their withdrawal within two years or less, the poll found. It was conducted Nov. 21-29, questioned 1,326 Americans nationwide and had a margin of error of 2.7 percent to 3.9 percent.

Baghdad Shias Believe Killings May Increase Once U.S.-led Forces Depart but Large Majorities Still Support Withdrawal Within a Year

Shias in the Capital—Unlike Those in the Rest of Iraq—Oppose Disarming Militias

Most Shia Arabs living in Baghdad have shifted in recent months from preferring the open-ended deployment of foreign troops in Iraq to wanting a one-year timetable for withdrawal. Nonetheless, a growing majority of Shias in the conflict-ridden capital say that if U.S.-led forces leave within six months there could be an upsurge in inter-ethnic violence.

An analysis of two nationwide polls taken by World Public Opinion.org in Iraq over the past year reveals both a heightened sense of insecurity in Baghdad, which is suffering from a wave of shootings, kidnappings and bombings, and an increasing desire to place some time limit on the presence of foreign troops. Unlike Shias elsewhere, those living in the capital do not favor disarming the militias.

Eight out of ten Shias in Baghdad (80%) say they want foreign forces to leave within a year (72% of Shias in the rest of the country), according to a poll conducted by World Public Opinion in September. None of the Shias polled in Baghdad want U.S.-led troops to be reduced only “as the security situation improves,” a sharp decline from January, when 57 percent of the Shias polled by WPO in the capital city preferred an open-ended U.S presence.

IraqShia_Nov06_graph3a.jpgThis brings Baghdad Shias in line with the rest of the country. Seven out of ten Iraqis overall—including both the Shia majority (74%) and the Sunni minority (91%)—say they want the United States to leave within a year.

Nonetheless, the number of Shias in Baghdad who fear an upsurge in violence if U.S. troops withdraw within too short a time span has risen a dramatic 52 points since the beginning of the year. Six out of ten Shias in Iraq’s capital city (59%) believe that sect-on-sect killings would rise in the event of a speedy U.S. withdrawal. This view contrasts with that of Shias in the rest of Iraq, where a majority (64%) thinks such violence would decline if U.S. troops departed in six months.

World Public Opinion has conducted two recent polls in Iraq: a nationwide sample of 1,150 Iraqi adults, taken Sept. 1-4, 2006, and another nationwide sample of 1,150, conducted Jan. 2-5, 2006. Both surveys were fielded by KA Research Ltd./D3 Systems, Inc.

IraqShia_Nov06_graph.jpgOutside of Baghdad, majorities of Shias and Sunnis have been consistently optimistic about the consequences of a U.S. withdrawal. In January, 56 percent of Shias said inter-ethnic violence would decrease (37% increase) if the U.S.-led forces pulled out while in September, 64 percent said it would decline (29% increase). Among Sunni Arabs, majorities in September (72%) and January (81%) said interethnic violence would decrease if U.S. troops withdrew in six months.

The WPO polls provide a window into Iraqi public opinion about the potential costs and benefits of a U.S. withdrawal at a time when the Bush administration is coming under increasing domestic pressure to bring U.S. troops home. Senior Democratic lawmakers have made clear that pushing for the phased withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq will be at the top of their agenda when they take over the leadership of Congress in January. President Bush, however, has resisted such a timetable, arguing that troops should only be withdrawn as Iraqi forces become capable of fighting the insurgency themselves.

Fewer than one in ten Iraqis (9%) believe foreign forces should only be reduced “as the security situation improves,” a drop of 20 points since January. Support for this option has fallen especially steeply among Shias (from 29% to 5%) and Kurds (57% to 31%).

Nearly all Sunnis also oppose the indefinite presence of foreign forces (2% in favor). But while a majority of Sunnis (57%) still prefer that U.S.-led troops leave within six months, that percentage has declined 26 points since January when 83 percent wanted foreign forces out within half a year.

“Iraqis (whether Sunnis or Shiites) want the U.S. out of Iraq, because after the regime's removal (which they applaud) it has only brought chaos,” said Joost Hiltermann, the Middle East Project Director for the International Crisis Group, a non-profit that studies global conflict. “But they also know that the U.S., for all its blunders, is still keeping the army together and is serving as a buffer between Shiite militias (Badr and Mahdi), so a precipitous departure could spell disaster for the country.”

The September poll took place after a summer during which Sunni and Shia death squads pushed violence in Iraq to its highest level in more than two years, according to a Pentagon report released Sept. 2. The report cited statistics from the Baghdad coroner’s office showing that it received 1,600 bodies in June and more than 1,800 in July. The office stated that more than 90 percent of the deaths appeared to result from executions.

The Pentagon report, part of a quarterly series on security in Iraq mandated by Congress, also estimated that throughout Iraq more than 3,000 people were killed each month and that 2,000 of the casualties resulted from sectarian violence.

Baghdad Shias Want Militias to Provide Local Security

The Shia population in Baghdad is more skeptical than elsewhere about the wisdom of disarming the militias. Outside of the capital, most Shias say they prefer a strong government capable of getting rid of such armed groups (77%). In Baghdad, however, Shias say they want militias to continue to protect their security (59%). When asked, “Could you rely on the government alone to ensure security in your area if all militias were to disarm now?” a majority of Shias in the capital say they could not (59%). Elsewhere about the same proportion says they could (60%).

Among Iraqis overall, 77 percent prefer that a strong government get rid of militias, including 100 percent of the Sunnis polled and 82 percent of Kurds. Sixty-eight percent of Iraqis say they could rely on the government to provide security if militias were to disarm, including 93 percent of Sunnis and 72 percent of Kurds.

Shibley Telhami, a Middle East expert at the University of Maryland and the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center, says the support for militias shown by Shias in Baghdad may reflect their role in providing not only security but also some social services to the poor in Sadr City, a vast Shia slum in eastern Baghdad dominated by the Mahdi Army, which is loyal to Moqtada Sadr, a radical Shia cleric.

[The Mahdi Army] is not just a militia to Shias there,” he said. “It provides services that they need, it does things for them that the government is not doing.”

The number of Shias in the capital city and elsewhere who think Iraq is headed in the right direction has dropped considerably since the beginning of 2006. In January, nine out of ten Shias in Baghdad (88%) thought Iraq was on the right path. By September, three quarters (74%) did. Outside of Baghdad, the declining optimism among Shias has been even steeper. Eight-two percent thought Iraq was headed in the right direction in January while about half (52%) thought so by September.

Growing Shia Confidence in Iraqi Security Forces

Despite the growing concern in Baghdad about civil strife, a large majority of Shias there believe Iraqi forces will soon be capable of meeting their country’s security challenges. Seven in ten Shias in Baghdad (71%) say Iraqi forces will be strong enough within six months to take over the country’s security should foreign troops withdraw. That’s an increase of 30 percent from January, when only 41 percent thought that Iraqis would be able to take on the country’s security challenges within six months. There is little difference of opinion on this between Shias in Baghdad (71%) and those elsewhere (66%).

All Shias polled in Baghdad (100%) believe that the U.S. military presence is “provoking more conflict than it is preventing.” Outside of Baghdad, this view is slightly less common: 74 percent of Shias in the rest of the country say the presence of U.S. troops provokes conflict while 25 percent say the troops are a stabilizing force.

IraqShia_Nov06_graph2.jpgAt the same time, the number of Shias who approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces has jumped 24 points. In January, about a third of Shias (36%) polled in Baghdad expressed approval of such assaults. By September, the proportion of Shias in Baghdad saying they approved of striking American-led forces had risen to 60 percent. In the rest of the country, Shia support for attacking foreign troops rose 20 points, from 43 percent to 63 percent.

Most Shias in Baghdad (83%) think that the United States plans to keep troops in Iraq permanently, which suggests that they see insurgents as battling a long-term occupation and may explain why they approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces even though they do not support an immediate withdrawal. This view is somewhat less common among Shias outside of Baghdad (69%).

Telhami called the increase in support for attacks on U.S.-led forces disturbing, adding that he has found similar trends in polls he has conducted in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.

“What’s most troubling is that the United States is not only seen in a negative light but as an enemy,” Telhami said. “When asked to name the two countries that pose the greatest threat, the vast majority, about 80 percent, name the United States and Israel.”

Sunnis in Baghdad

The samples of Sunnis polled in Baghdad, where they make up about a quarter of the population, were small (75 in September, 85 in January), so the following findings should be taken with caution. However, some changes are robust enough to merit discussion.

At the beginning of 2006, Sunnis in Baghdad were somewhat less pessimistic about the consequences of Saddam Hussein’s overthrow—and less in favor of attacks on U.S. soldiers—than Sunnis in the rest of the country, probably a reflection of the fact that most of the fighting between Sunni insurgents and U.S. troops had taken place in the so-called “Sunni triangle,” located northwest of the capital.

In recent months, however, as ethnic violence has increased in Iraq’s capital, the Sunni population there seems to have become considerably more hostile to the United States.

While a third of Sunnis in Baghdad (34%) said in January that ousting Saddam Hussein was worth it (compared to 8% of Sunnis elsewhere), none said so in September (compared to 13% elsewhere). More ominously, 100 percent of Sunnis in Baghdad said in September that they approved of attacks on U.S.-led forces, up 44 points since January (57%). In the rest of the country, nine out of ten Sunnis (91%) said they favored such attacks.

Methodological note: In September 2006, WPO’s survey included 159 Shias in Baghdad and 342 Shias in the rest of Iraq, plus 75 Sunnis in Baghdad and 324 Sunnis in the rest of Iraq. In January 2006, the sample included 144 Shias in Baghdad and 342 Shias in the rest of Iraq, plus 85 Sunnis in Baghdad and 336 Sunnis in the rest of Iraq.

Each sample design included an intentional oversample of 150 Sunnis across Iraq. In previous articles on the total Iraqi population, the samples were weighted for appropriate projections. Here unweighted samples have been used to provide sufficient numbers for meaningful analysis.

Expert Opinion
Full Report
Questionnaire/Methodology

November 20, 2006World Public Opinion:
All Iraqi Ethnic Groups Overwhelmingly Reject al Qaeda

But Groups Vary on Iran, Syria, Hezbollah

Full Report
Questionnaire/Methodology
Transcript of Brookings Saban Center Event

A new poll of Iraqis shows that al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden are rejected by overwhelming majorities of Shias and Kurds and large majorities of Sunnis.

Shias have mildly positive views of Iran and its President, while Kurds and Sunnis have strongly negative views. Shias and Kurds have mostly negative views of Syria, while Sunnis are mildly positive. Shias have overwhelmingly positive views of Hezbollah, while Kurds and Sunnis have negative views.

The poll was conducted for WorldPublicOpinion.org by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland and was fielded by KA Research Ltd. / D3 Systems, Inc. A nationwide representative sample of 1,150 Iraqi adults was surveyed September 1-4.

It may be easy to assume that as the Iraqi people become more supportive of attacks on U.S.-led forces (see WPO main article), they may grow warmer toward al Qaeda—the probable source of a significant number of attacks on U.S. forces. However, this does not appear to be the case. Al Qaeda is exceedingly unpopular among the Iraqi people.

Overall 94 percent have an unfavorable view of al Qaeda, with 82 percent expressing a very unfavorable view. Of all organizations and individuals assessed in this poll, it received the most negative ratings. The Shias and Kurds show similarly intense levels of opposition, with 95 percent and 93 percent respectively saying they have very unfavorable views. The Sunnis are also quite negative, but with less intensity. Seventy-seven percent express an unfavorable view, but only 38 percent are very unfavorable. Twenty-three percent express a favorable view (5% very).

Views of Osama bin Laden are only slightly less negative. Overall 93 percent have an unfavorable view, with 77 percent very unfavorable. Very unfavorable views are expressed by 87 percent of Kurds and 94 percent of Shias. Here again, the Sunnis are negative, but less unequivocally—71 percent have an unfavorable view (23% very), and 29 percent a favorable view (3% very).

Regional Actors: Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah

Some observers fear that with the ascension of Shias to a dominant role in Iraq, there is potential for the formation of an alliance between Iraq and Shia-dominated Iran. In this poll, though, Shias show only mildly positive attitudes toward Iran, while Kurds and Sunnis are quite negative. Asked whether Iran is having a mostly positive or negative influence on the situation in Iraq, just 45 percent of Shias say it is having a positive influence (negative 28%, neutral 27%), while Iran’s influence is viewed as mostly negative by large majorities of Kurds (71%) and Sunnis (94%).

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad does a bit better among Shias, with 64 percent having a very (28%) or somewhat (36%) favorable view. But Kurds have a largely unfavorable view (very 43%, somewhat 34%) and the Sunnis an exceedingly unfavorable view (very 80%, somewhat 17%).

Iraq_Sep06_graph3a.jpgWhile some have expressed fears of Syria being a link in an emerging Shia crescent (though very few Syrians are Shia), public opinion in Iraq would hardly be the cement. Most Shias (68%) think Syria is having a negative influence on Iraq’s situation, as do most Kurds (63%). Sunnis are only mildly positive, with 41 percent having a favorable view (17% negative, 43% neutral).

Hezbollah elicits highly polarized views. An overwhelming 91 percent of Shias have a very (50%) or somewhat favorable (41%) view of Hezbollah, while an equally large 93 percent of Kurds have a very (64%) or somewhat (29%) unfavorable view. Sunnis are also fairly negative, with 59 percent having a very (10%) or somewhat (49%) unfavorable view.
September 27, 2006

Laith

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