Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

"Operation Forward Together": Deeper Into the Quagmire

By Dahr Jamail
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Monday 19 June 2006

On Tuesday, June 13th, while Mr. Bush spent a brave five hours in the
"green zone" of Baghdad with puppet Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki,
at least 36 people were killed across Iraq amidst a wave of bombings. 18
of those died in a spasm of bombings in the oil city of Kirkuk in the
Kurdish north.

The minute word hit the streets in Baghdad of Bush's visit, over 2,000
supporters of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr took to the streets in
protest. The protestors chanted "Iraq is for the Iraqis," and Sadr aide
Hazem al-Araji publicly condemned the peek-a-boo visit of who he
referred to as "the leader of the occupation."

*Day One*

The very next day, not coincidentally, Maliki instituted the biggest
security crackdown in the capital city since the US invaded Iraq, dubbed
"Operation Forward Together." An estimated 75,000 US and Iraqi soldiers
clogged the already seriously congested streets of Baghdad, using tanks
and armored vehicles to man checkpoints, impose a more strict curfew in
liberated Baghdad (9 p.m. - 6 a.m. as opposed to the more generous 11
p.m. - 6 a.m.) and attempt to impose a weapons ban.

Just after "The Operation" began, a car bomb detonated, killing one
person while wounding five others. Major General Mahdi al-Gharrawi who
commands "public order forces" under the deadly umbrella of the
controversial Interior Ministry, made a statement for which George
Orwell would have been proud: "Baghdad is divided according to
geographical area, and we know the al-Qaeda leaders in each area," he
told reporters. "We are expecting clashes will erupt in the
predominantly Sunni areas." So Sunnis in Iraq, according to Gharrawi,
are tied to al-Qaeda.

Lest we forget, the Iraqi "army" ran a similar draconian security
crackdown in Baghdad in May 2005 called "Operation Lightning." That one,
too, was tens of thousands of Iraqi "police" and "soldiers" backed by
American troops and air support. That operation, rather than quell
violence in the capital, effectively alienated the Sunni populations in
the city due to rampant death squad activities, mass detentions and
heavy-handed tactics. Civilians across Baghdad complained about the mass
detentions, random violence and torture meted out by the death squads
during that "operation." And we see how well that operation managed to
improve security in Baghdad over the last year.

So here we go again - only this time with even more troops, raiding even
more homes, manning more checkpoints, and of course more death squads
operating - with backup support from American soldiers, and of course
their air strikes.

Iraq's puppet prime minister, in an effort to sooth the fear in the
hearts of Baghdad's residents who are concerned about more detentions,
random violence and "torture by electric drill" which the US-backed Shia
death squads prefer with their victims, told reporters of the operation,
"The raids during this plan will be very tough ... because there will be
no mercy towards those who show no mercy to our people."

The same day "Operation Forward Together" began and the day after Bush
bid farewell to Baghdad, he dismissed calls for a US withdrawal as
"election-year" politics. Refusing to give a timetable for withdrawal or
some kind of benchmark with which to measure success that may allow
troops to be brought home, Bush said simply, "It's bad policy," at a
news conference in the Rose Garden. He thought it would "endanger our
country" to pull out of Iraq before we "accomplish the mission." Of his
visit to Baghdad, Bush said, "I sense something different happening in

While pounding his fist on the podium set up for him at the press
conference, Bush proudly repeated his mantra of propaganda: "If the
United States of America leaves before this Iraqi government can defend
itself and sustain itself and govern itself, it will be a major blow in
the war on terror."

That morning the Pentagon announced the death of the 2,500th US soldier
in Iraq.

Meanwhile, back in liberated Baghdad, also on that same day, I received
an email from a very close friend of mine. It is a sobering glimpse into
"Operation Forward Together" and what Bush alluded to when he said, "I
sense something different happening in Iraq."

/ Habibi, we are divided in three houses today. I am at our home in
Adhamiya. My wife and two youngest boys are at her sister's house in Bab
Al-Moudam because it's safer for them. It's a mixed Sunni and Shia area,
so there are no detentions. Our daughter is with her husband in their
home, and my oldest son is at his house with his wife and baby, although
he is not in a safe area. There is often fighting there, but not too
many detentions./

/ Today Adhamiya is totally under occupation since early morning. None
of the shops are open, the soldiers are holding up all cars and
searching them, and home raids are happening. The city is a city of
ghosts. This situation is the same in all the Sunni areas. Checkpoints
are all over Baghdad, the highways between Baghdad and the other cities
are all closed and nobody can go on them. The airports are closed, and
no flights are coming in or out of Baghdad./

/ We cannot leave the country until the beginning of next month. By the
way, three of my son's friends were killed by explosions two days ago
while they were having fruits in the market. He came home crying because
of that. The situation is very bad. The son of Abdul Sattar Al Kubaisy,
who is in the Ministry of Interior, has been kidnapped from inside the
Ministry. He was found in one of the trash cans outside the Ministry of
Interior building ... so even the offices of the government are no
longer safe!!!/

/ God is with us insh'allah [God willing].
*Day Two*

On Friday, the second day of "Operation Forward Together," a hospital
source in Fallujah reported that 8 Iraqis, some of whom were women and
children from the same family, were killed and six wounded when US
warplanes bombed a home in the northeastern Ibrahim Bin Ali district of
the city.

That same day, a story titled "Shiite Militias Control Prisons,
Officials Say," was released by the Washington Post Foreign Service.

The story reads, "Iraq's prison system is overrun with Shiite Muslim
militiamen who have freed fellow militia members convicted of major
crimes and executed Sunni Arab inmates, the country's deputy justice
minister said in an interview." We cannot control the prisons. It's as
simple as that, said the deputy minister, Pusho Ibrahim Ali Daza Yei, an
ethnic Kurd. "Our jails are infiltrated by the militias from top to
bottom, from Basra to Baghdad."

The story continued, "In an interview this week, Deputy Prime Minister
Salam al-Zobaie, the top Sunni Arab in Iraq's new government, showed
photographs taken from one recent inspection of an Interior Ministry
detention center. An inmate in one of the photos held out his misshapen,
limp hands for the camera. The man's hands had been broken in a beating,
Zobaie said. Other inmates showed massive, dark bruises on their skin;
one bore a large, open infected sore. Inmates in another photo clustered
around chains hung from the middle of one of the crowded cells. The
chains were used to hoist prisoners by their bound hands, Zobaie said.
The practice, noted frequently in inspection reports of Interior
Ministry detention centers, often results in the dislocation of
prisoners' shoulders.

Ninety percent of the men crowded into Interior Ministry detention
centers are Sunni Arabs, Zobaie said.

*Day Three*

On Saturday, according to the same Washington Post story, "A group of
parliament members paid a surprise visit to a detention facility run by
the Interior Ministry in Baqubah, north of Baghdad. "We have found
terrible violations of the law," said Muhammed al-Dayni, a Sunni
parliament member, who said as many as 120 detainees were packed into a
35-by-20-foot cell. "They told us that they've been raped," Dayni said.
"Their families were called in and tortured to force the detainees to
testify against other people."

"The detention facilities of the ministries of Defense and Interior are
places for the most brutal human rights abuse," he added.

Despite broad US efforts to encourage the Iraqi government to improve
conditions in prisons, the problem of militia control could prove
particularly intractable. Shiite militias such as the Badr Organization
and the Mahdi Army, loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, are backed by
dozens of members of parliament whose political parties run the armed

"You can't even talk to the militias, because they are the government,"
Yei said. "They have ministers on their side."

The evening of Day Three, two US soldiers were detained by resistance
fighters just south of Baghdad. With a Bush administration that openly
advocates the use of torture and props up a Shia Prime Minister in Iraq
who says things like "there will be no mercy" when referencing his new
"security operation," their fate is indeed a dark one.

*Day Four*

On Saturday, the third day of "Operation Forward Together," at least 40
people were killed, and over 80 wounded amidst a rash of bomb and mortar
attacks, most of which took place in Baghdad. The deadliest attack
occurred at an Iraqi police checkpoint, while another car bomb targeting
the Iraqi army and police killed another 11 people. Meanwhile, 15 others
were wounded at a joint Iraqi army and police checkpoint, also in Baghdad.

*Day Five*

Gunmen kidnap 10 bakery workers from a predominantly Shia neighborhood
in Baghdad. 10 bullet-riddled bodies of men who had apparently been
tortured were also found in Baghdad. A mortar round hit al-Sadiq
University on Palestine Street in the capital city - five students and
one teacher are wounded. The US military continues to search in vain for
its two missing soldiers. Residents continue to stream out of the
capital city of al-Anbar province, Ramadi, due to the threat of an
all-out US assault on the city. Thousands of the refugees are wandering
around the province with nowhere to go.

*Coming Days, Weeks, Months, Years?*

With Operation Forward Together off to a dazzling beginning, how long
will the occupation be allowed to continue? Each passing day only brings
the people of Iraq and soldiers serving in the US military deeper into
the quagmire that the brutal, despicable, tortured occupation has become.
(c)2006 Dahr Jamail.
** Visit the Dahr Jamail Iraq website **
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