Saturday, June 24, 2006

Site News: Comment Hiatus

There will be a hiatus in comment publishing today 2006 June 24.

Comments will be published either very late tonight or very early tomorrow.


Friday, June 23, 2006

An Anxious Child

Child crying in Baqouba hospital for his injured fatherThe injured man on the stretcher in Baquba's emergency department is this child's father. Baquba's about 40 miles northeast of Baghdad and is the scene of frequent fighting between Iraqis and American soldiers who are trying to compel Iraqi acceptance of the American invasion and occupation of Iraq. The child's father was injured in a bomb explosion outside a mosque which killed 10 people.

Update 20:35CET:Toll increased to 12 people dead as a result of explosion


Thursday, June 22, 2006



How To Make Friends And Influence People Part 2

Iraqi trade minister al-Sudani Friday prayers Sadr city June 16 2006Somewhat more detail has now emerged of the circumstances in which Australians shot dead one of Iraqi trade minister Abdul Falah al-Sudani's bodyguards and injured three others.

As I noted yesterday al-Sudani - seen here attending Friday prayers in Sadr city on June 16th 2006, is a powerful figure within the ruling Shi'ite bloc. It appears that the Australian security personnel were a protection detail for a visit by Greg Hull. Hull is Australia's STC (Senior Trade Commissioner) for Iraq, Jordan and the Palestinian territories and was apparently not present at the time. Various reports suggest that they "became nervous" and opened fire at the car containing bodyguards who were (of course) in plain clothes and armed with the ubiquitous AK-47. From the reports of eyewitness accounts of the killing the Australians thought that the car containing the bodyguards was trying to overtake theirs and opened fire killing one bodyguard, two civilians, and wounding three other bodyguards.

[Readers should note that the death of the two civilians is omitted from most Western reports - I wonder why … … no scratch that, I don't wonder why the death of two Iraqi civilians doesn't appear in the Western media reports of the shooting … … I don't wonder about that even slightly.]

What isn't in doubt is the minister's reaction. He immediately went on state TV and demanded both an apology and compensation for the victims, threatening to "reconsider" contracts with Australia if these weren't forthcoming. He got his apology within hours.

Isn't it amazing what threatening to hit a country that's taken part in the corrupt, illegal, and racist invasion of your country (and is now participating in its corrupt, illegal, and racist occupation) in the wallet can do? I very much doubt if the right wing Australian government gives a damn about the dead Iraqis. Particularly as their apology came from their ambassador while their prime minister said it was "too early" to do so. I very much doubt that they particularly care what the shooting says about the trigger happy nature of Western "protection details" but I don't doubt even for a moment that they care greatly about the profits of the businesses that fund them.

As a sidenote I got three emails two from Malaysia and one from Indonesia today about this. The gist of all three was that al-Sudani and his party have quite a few political friends in both Malaysia and Indonesia, isn't that interesting?


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

How To Make Friends And Influence People

There was a facinating piece on the wires today:

Bodyguard of Iraqi minister killed by Australian guards in Baghdad

Australian security guards mistakenly opened fire at the bodyguards of Iraqi Trade Minister Abdul Falah al-Sudani in western Baghdad on Wednesday, killing one of them and wounding two others, an Interior Ministry source said.

An Australian official delegation was leaving a meeting held in an office of al-Sudani in Baghdad's Mansur neighborhood when Australian guards mistakenly killed one of al-Sudani's bodyguards, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

He said that the incident occurred when the Australian security guards were suspicious of armed men outside al-Sudani's office in the restive area.


Al-Sudani is a power within the dominant Shi'ite bloc. As trade minister he's responsible amongst other things for overseeing the importation of much of the basic foodstuffs such as wheat that in a country with 60% unemployment and a shattered distribution network the population rely upon for survival. Like most Iraqi politicians he was less than impressed when a large cargo Australian wheat contaminated with Iron ore arrived in Iraq back in May 2005. Subsequent contracts went to other suppliers.

I find myself wondering how friendly an eye he'll cast over the next bid from AWB.* On balance I'd say this sort of thing probably isn't the best way to regain access to a market that you've been a major player in for 57 years.


Note 1: *Australian Wheat Board, this isn't the only problem for AWB they're also embroiled in bribery allegations. - mfi.

Update 1: Updated 1:00AM local time. Update = fixed link in note 1 above - mfi

Update 2: Very much less than impressed. As of 7:55AM my local time Minister Al-Sudani is now demanding the cessation of all trade links with Australia. The Australians have issued a statement "regretting" the killing. It doesn't seem to have occurred to the that Iraqis are well aware of the difference between "We regret" and "We apologise." I'll write more on this this evening. - mfi

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Just Another Day

Child being carried into al-kindi hospital after bombingThis photograph shows a boy who was injured in today's bombing of a market in Sadr city being carried in the al-Kindi hospital by his father. The man runnning behind them is his grandfather. If they're from Sadr city then they're poor. Very poor even by the standards of today's Iraq. Assuming the hospital isn't too full to treat the boy. They're going to have to find money to pay treatment. If the boy needs medicine their best chance of getting it is on the black market at exorbitant rates.

corpse ariving al-kindi june 20 2006This photograph was taken 15 minutes later at the same hospital. The body is that of one of the seven people who died in the same bombing. Just another day in a hospital starved of funds, personnel, medicines, bandages, electricity … … …

Just another day just another atrocity in American occupied Iraq.


Iraqi Hospitals Ailing Under Occupation

Just go and read it [Web] [PDF]. You would not believe it was possible for things to get worse since this was published. But they have.


Front Page News

UK Independent June 20 2006What Juan Cole decscribes as "The Embassy Document" published by the Washington Post last Sunday continues to resonate [A full transcription with typos corrected is on Informed Comment here the original PDF can be found here.] Today's UK Indepent has it as front page news.

The ugly truth about everyday life in Baghdad (by the US ambassador)
A leaked cable from the US embassy in Iraq to Condoleezza Rice shows the country falling apart and ruled by militias.

The paper prints most of the memo as its lede and then continues its coverage with this analysis from their Baghdad correspondent Patrick Cockburn.

Leaked memo reveals plight of Iraqis By Patrick Cockburn
Published: 20 June 2006

A leaked cable from the US embassy in Baghdad signed by the ambassador paints a grim picture of Iraq as a country disintegrating in which the real rulers are the militias, and the central government counts for nothing.
Iraqis employed by the US embassy live in fear that other Iraqis will find out who they are working for. "We have begun shredding documents printed out that show local staff surnames," the cable says. "In March a few staff approached us to ask what provisions would we make for them if we evacuate."
The US and Britain have said they would withdraw their troops as the security situation improved, though the embassy memo suggests that it was, in fact, deteriorating. Britain said yesterday that it was to pull out 170 soldiers from Muthana province in southern Iraq when the Iraqi government took over security there next month.


The vulnerability of the US position in Baghdad is so great that the Iraqi military units guarding the perimeter of the Green Zone, the heart of US power in Iraq, are now considered untrustworthy.

An Iraqi employee asked if she could have credentials saying she was a journalist. This was because the Iraqi soldiers would hold up "her embassy badge and proclaim loudly to nearby passers-by 'Embassy' as she entered. Such information is a death sentence if overheard by the wrong people.


As Islamic militancy increases, women find it increasingly dangerous not to wear a veil in Sunni and Shia neighbourhoods. One was warned not to drive a car. Others were told to cover their faces and to stop using mobile phones. Threats against women who do not accept this second class status have escalated in the last two months. It has also become dangerous for men to wear shorts or jeans in public or for children to play outside wearing shorts.


The cable admits that the unpopularity of the American presence in Iraq is the reason why Iraqis working for the US dare not reveal the identity of their employer even to family. One Sunni Arab woman who was sent for training in the US told her family she was in Jordan.
The embassy reports increased sectarian tensions between Iraqi members of its staff. A Shia woman said she could no longer watch the television news with her Sunni mother because her mother blamed the Shia government for everything that went wrong.
The government of Nouri al-Maliki, greeted with such acclaim by the US and Britain, has little impact on ordinary Iraqis because real power lies with militias and local power brokers. It is they who barricade the streets at night and ward off outsiders.

All emphases added by me. A key difference between the UK and the US is that in the UK a majority of the populaton were always against the Iraq war and are even more vehemently opposed to occupation.


Monday, June 19, 2006

A T-Shirt Is Worth A Thousand Words

Hat tip Commenter Michael on This Old Brit


Mothers Grieve

2 part karbala bombing 20060619Early this morning 4 people were killed on the highway between al-Tamur and Karbala.

Police Lieutenant Colonel Shahid Salah Hammud's convoy was attacked by gunmen. The Lieutenant Colonel and three of his bodyguards were killed in the attack. In the image to the left the first frame shows one of the bodyguards being carried into the hospital mortuary by some of his colleagues. The second shows two of the mothers of the bodyguards after they had been called to hospital to identify their dead sons.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Mohammed Moussa

Mohammed Moussa lies injured in Yarmouk hospitalMohammed Moussa was wounded by a car bomb in Saydiyah (southwestern Baghdad) yesterday Saturday June 17 2006. The bombers who were targetting a police patrol killed two people and injured 14 more of whom ten were civilians and four were police commandos. As readers here know hospitals in Iraq often have to turn away all but the most severely injured because they have no space and few facilities to treat them.