62 Dead Dozens Wounded As Rice Visits

62 Dead, Dozens Wounded as Rice Visits;
Warner: Iraq going Sideways;
Mahdi Army makes Hospitals Bases

Senator John Warner says that Iraq is “drifting sideways” and that many communities do not have potable water. He is one of the few American politicians I have heard talking about the lack of services in much of the country, which has provoked numerous demonstrations that are seldom reported in the US press.

But with all due respect, the direction in which Iraq is going is “south,” not “sideways.”

Rice made a surprise visit to Baghdad on Thursday. (They all have to be surprise visits because otherwise she would be killed while there. As it was, her landing was delayed by mortar fire at the airport). She kept to the new State Department line that the problem in Iraq is the indecision of the Iraqi government. Uh, the US abolished their army and destroyed all their tanks and won’t give them new ones. So how is that the fault of the Iraqi government?

Reuters reported 61 killed or announced dead on Thursday in political violence. Major incidents:

‘ BAGHDAD – A total of 30 bodies, most of them shot and tortured, were found in different districts of Baghdad during the past 24 hours, a source in the Interior Ministry said.

BAGHDAD – A car bomb killed two people and wounded eight in Hurriya district in northwestern Baghdad, a source in the Interior Ministry said. The target of the explosion was not clear.

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb wounded 20 labourers as it exploded near a crowd of men waiting for day jobs in central Baghdad’s Tayaran square, a source in the Interior Ministry said. . .

RAMADI – Four people were killed and six wounded in clashes between insurgents and U.S. forces in the insurgent stronghold city of Ramadi, 110 km (68 miles) west of Baghdad, Doctor Ahmed al-Rawi, head of Anbar health directorate said.’

A Danish soldier was killed in south Iraq during an operation to stop the constant mortar fire against the British and Danish military in Basra province. Presumably the attacks are coming from nationalist Shiites, maybe Mahdi Army or Fadhila’s militia or a splinter group of the one or the other.

There has been a sharp upturn in violence against Iraq’s Christians.

Lara Logan of CBS News does a truly courageous report on the way that the Mahdi Army is using its control of the Ministry of Health to turn hospitals into militia bases. Her sources allege that militiamen snuff out Sunni patients and keep political prisoners in the basements. She reveals that many Sunni families are afraid to come to the Sadrist-controlled morgue to pick up the bodies of loved ones, because they will be asked for their address and could face reprisals. The bodies are therefore piling up and then going into mass, anonymous graves.

Al-Qaeda views America’s involvement in Iraq as just great for its longterm growth.

The rate at which the security situation in Iraq is declining can be guessed from this candid report by ABC’s Terry McCarthy. Excerpts:

‘ . . . After six weeks away from Iraq and returning to Baghdad, I find the city appears much worse than when I left. Last week, according to a U.S. military spokesman, Baghdad experienced more attacks from car bombs and improvised explosive devices than at any other time this year. In the last five days, 14 U.S. soldiers have died in Baghdad, numbers that haven’t been seen in the city since the 2003 invasion. ABC’s local Iraqi staff tell us there are an increasing number of neighborhoods they no longer dare to visit. . .

For ordinary Iraqis, life has become ever more difficult. Many women are now afraid to leave their homes to go shopping, children are kept indoors to play, men sleep with guns next to their beds — if they can sleep at all. The physical violence is horrific, but even more widespread is the psychological damage . . .

The U.S. military said the situation in Baghdad would probably get worse before it gets better, and Iraqi citizens wonder how long they can stay alive before their lives improve. ‘

McCarthy suggests that the spike in US military deaths in the city has coincided with a push into Shiite areas, which probably means they are getting hit by Mahdi Army or splinters thereof.

Nobody seems to remember that the US military fought the Mahdi Army in April-May 2004 in Baghdad, and supposedly got them to lay down their arms, and took back from them all the police stations in East Baghdad / Sadr City that they had taken over. That was how Cindy Sheehan’s son got killed. So how many times do we have to watch this same movie? What makes anyone think it will take this time if it did not in 2004?

CNN’s Arwa Damon says that one of the other reasons for the spike in US military deaths is that Iraqi snipers are getting better at what they do.

US Ambassador in Baghdad Zalmay Khalilzad admitted that the US has made mistakes in Iraq and that often US officials behaved arrogantly and did not listen to the Iraqis.

I have no idea why Khalilzad is saying this now. Is it to take the edge off Rice’s hectoring of the Iraqi politicians and her blaming them for the current situation? Does he feel it is necessary to be more humble if the US is to hope to get cooperation from Iraqi politicians? Is he slamming Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority? Is there some battle going on in the White House between Khalilzad supporters and some other faction?

Watching the Bush administration is like Kremlin watching was in the old days. You have to look at the photograph carefully to see how far the commissar is standing from Comrade Bush on the reviewing stand.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty summarizes the story from the Iraqi Ministry of Immigration about the huge numbers of internally displaced families that I mentioned earlier this week.

James Reavis complains about the Bush administration disinformation campaign trying to rosey up the situation in Iraq through paid propaganda masquerading as journalism. He also complains about new press laws in Iraq taken from Baath-era statutes that increasingly make it illegal to criticize the Iraqi government, according to the New York Times.

The USG Open Source Center paraphrases reports in the Iraqi press for October 5:

‘ Al-Basa’ir on 4 October runs on the front page a 550-word report on the Association of Muslim Scholars’ Statement 322, which condemned occupation forces for the arrest of over 150 people, including tribal chiefs and women in the Hit District of Al-Anbar Governorate last week. . .

Al-Basa’ir on 4 October publishes on the front page a 300-word report on the demonstration organized by Hay al-Amil residents on 3 October condemning sectarian militias and demanding the withdrawal of the Interior Ministry’s forces from the district.

Al-Basa’ir on 4 October carries on the front page and on page 3 a 450-word report entitled ‘Occupation Forces Commit New Massacre in Al-Gatun District in Diyala Governorate; Association of Muslim Scholars Urges Human Rights Organizations To Expose Occupation Forces’ Fascist Methods.’ . . .

Al-Basa’ir on 4 October runs on page 4 a 400-word report entitled ‘Having Faced Difficulties Escaping Iraqi Hell, Washington Seeks Arab and Iranian Support To Leave Iraq.’ . . . ‘

Al-Zaman runs on the front page an 800-word report entitled ‘Al-Anbar Tribes Protect Higways between Iraq, Jordan and Syria; Tribal Chief Demanded Saddam’s Release Arrested in Kirkuk.’

Al-Zaman publishes on the front page a 340-word report entitled ‘Dismissal of Al-Muthanna Police Chief Creates New Crisis in Al-Samawah; Governorate Headquarters and State Institutions Come Under Mortar Attack.’

Al-Zaman publishes on the front page a 700-word report entitled ‘Washington Expresses Growing Concern about Democratizing Governments; Rice Discusses Completion of Political Process in Iraq with Mubarak.’ . . .

Al-Bayyinah al-Jadidah carries on the front page a 50-word report that terrorists wearing police uniforms killed the family of parliament member Samiyah Aziz Khisru’s sister. (OSC plans no further processing)

Al-Bayyinah al-Jadidah carries on the front page a 100-word report that a US vehicle crushed a person on Street 40 and left his body in the road. . . ‘

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