Samawah Governor Fired Australian

Samawah Governor Fired
Australian Officers Critique US Military in Iraq

Al-Sharq al-Awsat and agencies: 28 deaths were reported on Monday and 30 wounded in guerrilla fighting, most of it outside the capital of Baghdad.

Guerrillas killed two policemen in Sharqat, 300 km. north of the capital. Likewise, a Turkish truck drive was shot dead in the vicinity.

Near Baiji, guerrillas shot a businessman dead.

In Samarra, fighting between guerrillas and US troops left 3 Iraqis dead, among them an Iraqi soldier. Another 5 dead Iraqi soldiers were found floating in the river.

In Balad, 70 km north of Baghdad, guerrillas killed a police officer and wounded his son.

In Tikrit, guerrillas killed a police commander. Bodies of four policemen came into the morgue from the village of al-Ishaqi, having been shot dead by guerrillas.

Near Kirkuk, guerrillas shot and killed two employees of the oil company.

A US military patrol near the Green Zone in Baghdad came under mortar fire, but there were no casualties.

On Sunday night, gunmen on the way from the Shiite holy city of Karbala to Musayyib opened fire on motorists and killed 4 and wounded 12.

Other guerrillas between Baghdad and Karbala killed three and wounded 18.

Reuters adds:

In the southern city of Samawa, guerrillas launched rocket-propelled grenades toward police and army. They destroyed three military vehicles. There had been a clash between protesters and police on Sunday, which left 1 dead and 40 wounded.

Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports that the provincial governing council of Samawa fired the governor, Muhammad Ali Hasani, after two days of clashes between police and demonstrators. Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari sent a representative to the city in an effort to calm things down.

The Sadr Movement of Shiite nationalist Muqtada al-Sadr has been holding the demonstrations to protest lack of services. This tactic seems to be a way of unseating the elected government officials in key southern provinces, and of embarrassing the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the Sadrists’ rival, which controls most provincial assemblies in the south after winning the elections last January. But it is also true that the services in these cities are not very good, in part because of sabotage.

Reuters adds:

‘BAGHDAD – A translator working at Baghdad’s Doura power station was shot dead, said a source at Yarmouk hospital.

FALLUJA – A suicide bomber attacked a U.S. patrol in the former rebel stronghold of Falluja, west of Baghdad, Iraqi police sources said. There was no immediate confirmation of the attack from the U.S. military and no word on casualties.’

The former chief of Australia’s armed forces, Gen. Peter Cosgrove, has called for an end to foreign troop presence in Iraq by the end of 2006: ‘ “I think we’ve got to train the Iraqis as quickly as we can and to a point where we take one of the focal points of terrorist motivation away, and that is foreign troops,” said Cosgrove, who retired from the top military post a month ago. ‘

Now that he is retired he can speak freely, and has. Why does he think that “foreign troops” are a motivation in Iraq for terrorism? Remember, this is not some soft civilian Green Party member speaking from a bar in Melbourne. This is a high-ranking general of a highly rated military. Perhaps what he has in mind is explained in the next article:

AUSTRALIAN and British military legal advisers frequently had to “red card” more trigger-happy US forces to limit civilian casualties during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to one of the Australian advisers.

Colonel Mike Kelly, writing in the Australian Army Journal, says the junior partners in the coalition forces succeeded in reducing civilian casualties and reinforcing the legitimacy of the invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.

In the most detailed insight yet into the secret rules Australian forces operated under during the conflict in 2003, Colonel Kelly, who went on to become a senior adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, said for Australian forces to open fire the enemy was “required to visibly carry weapons while deploying for an attack”.

Defence sources said that under more relaxed US rules there only had to be a “reasonable suspicion” that the person was an enemy combatant and a threat . . .

“During Operation Iraqi Freedom legal differences in assessing legitimate targets, tended to be resolved by the use of the ‘red card’,” Colonel Kelly writes.

“This card involved the coalition partners being able to indicate their disapproval in their targeting or tactics in any mission that ran contrary to their legal obligations.”

He added: “The United States generally accepted these decisions … (it was) prepared to modify its approach in the interest of harmony with its military partners . . . “

I think there is a problem here when professional and hard-fighting Australian and British troops routinely feel that the US military does things that are frankly illegal, and might drag them into illegality. And that this difference in attitude has political implications seems clear–the British and the Australians are chomping at the bit to get out of Iraq ASAP. It is clear that they have often felt in the past two years that American recklessness has put them needlessly at risk. Proud of their own community policing skills, when British forces were briefly moved up to Babil province (the “triangle of death”), they complained that they were going to a place that the Americans had already ruined and made dangerous. Whether it is a fair perception or not, it has consequences.

Peter Dolan was embedded with US troops in Babil Province (“the triangle of death”) and gives a sense of what daily life is like there for them.

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