2007-02-25

Weekend Roundup

After a short hiatus, let's get caught up with some recent events.

TMG on Omar Baghdadi's face slap from Jebouri on al-Zawra. Kat at The Middle Ground has an in-depth analysis of this incident previously noted at The Belmont Club:
He goes on to name names of the people killed by Al Qaeda who were either associated with the insurgents or were these "notables". He also outlines other "crimes" by Al Qaeda, including murdering Juburi's emissary (gigantic no-no in the Muslim/Arab culture), murdering men, women and children regardless of their relationship to the insurgency or the "occupiers", and on and on.

Right on Jihad TV.

I think that the last sentence I highlighted, demanding Omar Baghdadi's real name, is a huge slap in the face Arab style. In Arab culture, family and tribe are everything. People marry within their own families and tribes to maintain that connection and protection. Who you are, your ability to lead, your blood lines and their relation to Mohammed can mean the difference between being a respected leader with the right to make religious pronouncements and a goat herder. It is directly related to your name.

In a few circumspect words, Juburi may have implied that Omar Baghdadi is a nameless, fatherless cur.

Read the rest here. Also from TMG: How can you tell when the Navy's in charge? Heh.

ITM on Operation Baghdad. 'The buildup of troops in the capital seems to be incremental and increasing by the day giving a steadily growing sense of the seriousness of the operation. Yesterday during my tour with some friends we were stopped to be searched seven times during about only two hours; five times in Karkh and two in Resafa. The search typically includes verifying the vehicle registration papers, looking for guns and munitions or suspicious objects, destination of the passenger/driver and often their identity cards. In general the security personnel are polite in their dealing with people they search and some of them even end the procedure with an apology for the inconvenience. We are getting used to the procedures at checkpoints; keep your hands visible on the wheel, keep your papers close to you, prepare to open the trunk and if it's getting dark then turn the headlights off and turn the reading light on. I hear a lot from people how they want to see checkpoint search each and every vehicle on the street even their own because we know that the more effective checkpoints are the more secure the city would be. ...'

CTB on al-Qaeda propaganda video. 'The propaganda video "Convoy of Martyrs" that was produced by Al-Qaida's "Mujahideen Shura Council" (the precursor to the current "Islamic State of Iraq") in late 2006 has finally been publicly released. The video includes interviews with many foreign jihadists fighting for Al-Qaida in Iraq--mostly of Saudi and Syrian origin. In a recorded plea to his family, one young man from the Arabian Peninsula, Abu Nasser al-Janoobi, admonishes his brother, "I beg you to depart for the land of honor and manhood. Don't just sit there and stay behind, and don't listen to anyone who tries to stop you. Just go and kill the Americans. Just kill them and don't leave any survivors." Another Saudi national, Abul-Abbas al-Jeddawi, shows off an explosives-packed suicide car bomb and explains jubilantly, "At the end [of the wire], you can see the button which I will press on my way to paradise."' Go to the post for a link to the video.

The Fourth Rail: Al-Qaeda targeting Sunni opposition in Anbar. 'Al-Qaeda in Iraq has stepped up its campaign to eliminate the indigenous Sunni opposition in Anbar province. According to an American intelligence official and a military officer, al-Qaeda in Iraq is attempting to destroy all effective Sunni opposition in the province. Over the past week, al-Qaeda has conducted two major suicide attacks in Habbaniyah and Ramadi against two influence members of the Sunni opposition to al-Qaeda in Iraq: Shiekh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, and the imam of a Habbaniyah mosque who spoke out against al-Qaeda. ...' If you've forgotten where Anbar Province is, it's due west from Baghdad; go to the article and you'll see Habbaniyah and Ramadi on that map.

Fumento: Democrats' SOF fixation. I wanna be tough like John Wayne! 'Go to www.navyseals.com and click on "training" and you'll wonder that even 30 percent survive. "Doubling the size is impossible," Bailey told me. "But there's something about special ops that appeals more to Democrats than GOP," he added. "There's almost like there's a craving to be accepted by real men. I don't know any liberal Democrat who doesn't like special ops." Expanding other units will prove more doable because their attrition rates are lower. But few if any Special Operations Forces units could be doubled, much less the overall force. "Doubling SOF is a joke," says Heidt. But the joke may not be funny if SOF is doubled by the one means possible – lowering the bar. ...'

New to blogroll: Sand Gets In My Eyes. An American expat in Saudi Arabia writes about her experiences.

Tammy Bruce: Thug (20) meets vet (70). And meets an early demise. 'Only one will walk away, and it's not the mugger. ...bravo to the veteran who still does honor to his uniform.'

Baldilocks: "I wish I had prayed for her." 'A woman died today, one who had money, fame and good looks. She had everything—and nothing. Here was a woman who seemed to go every which way in her public and private lives to gain “love” but it seemed to elude her nonetheless. ....' Read the rest.

Related.
Black TV.

Choosing the Wrong Muslim Partners

M. Zuhdi Jasser at Family Security Matters:
On January 10, 2007, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, met with “American Muslims” which included the organizations-- the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), and the Arab American Institute (AAI). A quick, random, browse of just their websites shows heavily political organizations with an underlying religious movement for the first two and Arab movement for the last. Their combined product is a heavily political-religious movement. It has some following, but represents only a minority of the Muslims in America who mostly remain unaffiliated.

One would be hard pressed to find precedent in the U.S. of our security agencies and leadership “partnering” with manifestations of a national and global political movement within the United States. Simply put, it seems our government is being duped, through political correctness, into partnering with organizations which present themselves as being purely religious (Muslim) or ethnic (Arabic) but are actually upon even a brief review rather solidly religio-political and Arab-political movements.

It is not that these organizations have not condemned terrorism as an act or a means to an ends. It is, rather, that they have not condemned political Islam (Islamism) and its theocratic foundations as an ends. Islamism is the end-game of our enemies and its ideological antidote is Americanism and its multi-religious and mulit-ethnic pluralism. ...

Read the rest at the link.

Remarks. Please see the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) website for more information about this fine organization. And while you're at it, get on their mailing list and donate a few dollars if you can.

Related.
The Real Peace Movement - November 2004

2007-02-18

Mark Daily: "A Force of Good in the World"

I actually lost a girlfriend because I had the audacity to believe this very thing:
"I genuinely believe the United States Army is a force of good in this world"
The immortal words of 2LT Mark Daily live on. The Los Angeles Times has picked up the story: "Mark Daily wrote on MySpace that he joined the Army to help the suffering people of Iraq. In death, his words have become a call to service."

A small sample:

In a 2005 videotape of his officers' commissioning ceremony, Daily told the crowd that the U.S. Army is one of the few militaries in the world that teach not only tactics but also ethics. "I genuinely believe the United States Army is a force of good in this world," he said. ...

In Mark Daily's own words:
So that is why I joined. In the time it took you to read this explanation, innocent people your age have suffered under the crushing misery of tyranny.

Don't forget that human beings have a responsibility to one another and that Americans have a responsibility to the oppressed. Assisting a formerly oppressed population in converting their torn society into a plural, democratic one is dangerous and difficult business, especially when being attacked and sabotaged from literally every direction.

So if you have anything to say to me at the end of this reading, let it at least include "Good Luck."


Go to Michelle Malkin for more.

Remarks. It gets better. Here's more from the LA Times story:
"Anyone who knew me before I joined knows that I am quite aware and at times sympathetic to the arguments against the war in Iraq. If you think the only way a person could bring themselves to volunteer for this war is through sheer desperation or blind obedience then consider me the exception."

Mark Daily, born on the Fourth of July, grew up in Irvine's Woodbridge Village, on a street of spacious homes and well-manicured lawns. His father, John, is an aerospace project manager; his mother, Linda, an audiologist.

His family says he became a registered Democrat who read voraciously and delighted in fervent debate. He read liberal intellectual Noam Chomsky, conservative Sen. John McCain of Arizona and everything in between.

His first passions were animal rights and environmental protection, prompting him to become a vegetarian and Green Party member in high school for a few years. He defended American Indian rights so loudly in one backyard debate that Linda Daily imagined the neighbors would think it a family brawl. His heroes were immigrants because "they risk their lives to achieve better ones," he wrote on his MySpace page.

Damn. I think I know this guy.
After the 9/11 attacks, Daily was not convinced that a military response was the best option. In his MySpace essay, he runs through the gamut of reasons he used at one time or another to argue against confronting the Taliban and Saddam Hussein: cultural tolerance, the sanctity of national sovereignty, a suspicion of America's intentions. Weren't we really after their oil? he wondered.

Somewhere along the way, he changed his mind. His family says there was no epiphany. Writings by author and columnist Christopher Hitchens on the moral case for war deeply influenced him. A 2003 phone conversation with a UCLA ROTC officer on the ideals of commitment and service impressed him.

Ultimately, his family says, Daily came to believe that his lifelong altruistic impulses and passions for the underdog had to extend to Iraqis crushed under decades of oppression. It was time to stop simply talking about human rights and actually do something to help secure them.

"There was no epiphany" - only a gradual, reasoned evolution of views. He considered every viewpoint in the debate, and he took the time to inform himself about the facts. Are you listening, Jay Dixit?
Daily touched down in Iraq on Nov. 19 and was sent to the northern city of Mosul. In calls and e-mails home, he began asking for presents for his new Iraqi friends: cigars for the soldiers, candy and soccer balls for the children. He vividly described his adventures with them: a Thanksgiving Day game of musical chairs, a rooftop cigar session; his first Kurdish meal, his first local haircut.

In one video he sent, Iraqi soldiers surround him with grins, crowning him with a turban as a gesture of friendship.

In typical fashion, he sought out new points of view. In one discussion, he wrote that he asked a Kurdish man whether the insurgents could be viewed as freedom fighters. The man cut him off. "The difference between insurgents and American soldiers," Daily said the man told him, "is that they get paid to take life — to murder — and you get paid to save lives."

"That Kurdish man's assessment of our presence means more to me than all of the naysayers and makeshift humanists that monopolize our interpretation of this war," Daily wrote in a Dec. 31 e-mail.

Daily was killed by a roadside bomb on January 15, one day after sending an e-mail to his parents saying, "All is well. More war stories then I can fit in this e-mail. Having the time of my life!"

Morning Report: February 18, 2007

A political storm brews in Washington, while boots hit the ground in Baghdad.

ITM: Baghdad attacks down 80 percent. Iraq the Model: 'Since the multiple bombings in Shroja market district on the 12th, Baghdad hasn’t seen any major attacks and there’s a tangible decrease in all kinds of attacks. Not only official statements say so (Defense ministry officials said today that attacks are down by 80% in Baghdad). It’s a reality I live in nowadays, at least in my neighborhood and its surroundings. It is also what I hear from friends and relatives in other parts of the city. We are hearing fewer explosions and less gunfire now than two weeks ago and that, in Baghdad, qualifies as quiet.' (ITM)

Kesher Talk posts Lieberman address. Kesher Talk posts the text of Senator Joseph Lieberman's speech opposing the anti-surge resolution in the Senate. 'Congress has been given constitutional responsibilities. But the micro-management of war is not one of them. The appropriation of funds for war is. I appreciate that each of us here has our own ideas about the best way forward in Iraq, I respect those that take a different position than I, and I understand that many feel strongly that the President's strategy is the wrong one. But the Constitution, which has served us now for more than two great centuries of our history, creates not 535 commanders-in-chief, but one—the President of the United States, who is authorized to lead the day to day conduct of war.' Read it all. (KT)

Gay Patriot: "Congressional cowards give up on the troops." Gay Patriot links to Ralph Peters in the New York Post: 'The "nonbinding resolution" telling the world that we intend to surrender to terrorism and abandon Iraq may be the most disgraceful congressional action since the Democratic Party united to defend slavery. The vote was a huge morale booster for al Qaeda, for Iraq's Sunni insurgents, and for the worst of the Shia militias. The message Congress just sent to them all was, "Hold on, we'll stop the surge, we're going to leave - and you can slaughter the innocent with our blessing."' GP adds: 'Luckily, the Senate vote against the “non-binding” resolution on Saturday was a devastating defeat for the Democrats…. and there are number of vulnerable House freshmen Democrats who must have their pins stuck in their Nancy Pelosi voodoo doll this weekend.' (Gay Patriot, NY Post)

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Infidel. Ayaan Hirsi Ali speaks on her new book, "Infidel". Video at the link. (AEI)

General explains troop surge strategy. Via CENTCOM, MND-B commander Major General Joseph Fil explains the strategy:
The security plan includes an increase in Iraqi and coalition forces in Iraq’s capital, a push to rid the city of violent extremists and the creation of joint security stations throughout Baghdad, Fil said.

Once the streets are cleared of extremist elements, the coalition and Iraqi security forces will assert control of each neighborhood and move further toward transition, he said.

“After an area is cleared, we move into what we call ‘control operations.’ Together, with our Iraqi counterparts, we will maintain a full-time presence on the streets. We’ll do this by building and manning joint security stations,” said Fil, who assumed responsibility for MND-B three months ago. “The effort to establish these joint security stations is well underway.”

As Iraqi security forces assume control of the day-to-day operations of Baghdad’s joint security stations, coalition forces will move out of its neighborhoods, but still respond to requests for assistance from Iraqi security forces, if needed, he said.

In addition to the joint security stations, Fil said the new strategy will also have an economic component to spark the Iraqi economy.

“During these three phases, efforts will be on-going to stimulate local economies by creating employment opportunities, initiating reconstruction projects and improving the infrastructure,” he explained. “These efforts will be spearheaded by Neighborhood Advisory Councils, District Advisory Councils and the government of Iraq.”

General Fil emphasized that it would take time for the operation to work. Full text at the link. (CENTCOM)

Haider Ajina on troop surge. Haider Ajina at Mudville Gazette posts two articles translated from the Iraqi media and comments: 'The long awaited new security plan for Baghdad has now started in earnest. These Iraqi unites trained by us and the UK are performing well. As I have mentioned many times. It is hard to train Iraqi security to serve, protect and enforce the rule of law in three short years, when all they have known previously is oppression and dictatorship. Think about how long it takes for us to train our military, and our men and women have grown up in a society of rule of law and democracy. Democracy and rule of law has only been a dream for Iraqis up until four years ago. The training of the Iraqis is thus doubly challenging. The new security operation looks and sounds good with Iraqis performing well. What is also interesting is the media campaign the Government has launched to support this operation. Extra billboards displaying hotlines numbers for tips, TV & Radio adds denouncing terrorism etc… Popular and political support for this operation is the highest I have seen for any operation to date. Iraqi Arab Sunnis and Shiites as well as Kurds, who in Iraq are mostly Sunni, and Christians all support and have high hopes for this operation. Sentiment and hope is especially high amongst the displaced families who are now hoping they can return to their homes sooner rather than later.' (Mudville Gazette)

IraqPundit on Murtha's stealth surrender. IraqPundit quotes an editorial in the Washington Post:
Murtha “would stop the surge by crudely hamstringing the ability of military commanders to deploy troops. In an interview carried Thursday by the Web site MoveCongress.org, Mr. Murtha said he would attach language to a war funding bill that would prohibit the redeployment of units that have been at home for less than a year, stop the extension of tours beyond 12 months, and prohibit units from shipping out if they do not train with all of their equipment. His aim, he made clear, is not to improve readiness but to ‘stop the surge.’ So why not straightforwardly strip the money out of the appropriations bill -- an action Congress is clearly empowered to take -- rather than try to micromanage the Army in a way that may be unconstitutional? Because, Mr. Murtha said, it will deflect accusations that he is trying to do what he is trying to do. ‘What we are saying will be very hard to find fault with,’ he said.”

IraqPundit adds: 'Are the Democrats seriously intending to curtail the U.S. effort in Iraq by political sleight of hand? The Post's point about stripping out the funding is exact. Congress has the power to do that. But instead of attempting that, the Democrats prefer to try to run the military, in the hope that they can undercut the war with a minimum of criticism.' (IraqPundit)

Israpundit: The Democratic Party's octopus. The palindromic billionaire behind the Democrats is like an octopus, says Israpundit, diagramming the multifarious connections of George Soros. 'George Soros, like his creation MoveOn.org, is part of the cancer that infests the Democratic Party at the expense of mainstream Democrats. George Soros has reputedly destroyed nations’ currencies to enrich himself while using his network of NGOs like MoveOn.org, Open Society Institute, International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA, run by Soros minion Rebecca Peters), and so on to perpetrate his visions of internationalism at the expense of national sovereignty. He has similarly used his enormous wealth to subvert, polarize, and marginalize part of the Democratic Party to the point where it no longer represents anything in which decent Americans believe. This includes the working people who have relied on the Democratic Party to represent their interests against abusive big businesses and special interests. The Democratic Party must accordingly treat its Soros-infested wing like malignant cancer, which must be excised before it destroys the party entirely.' Details at the link. (Israpundit)

Ramadi mayor solving problems. MNF-Iraq: 'AR RAMADI – Ten city directors and representatives met with the mayor here Monday to discuss city problems and solutions.
The meeting was the second of its kind to be held since the appointment of Mayor Latif Obaid Ayadah in early January, and served as a forum for the leaders. Representatives from Ramadi’s water department, sewage and sanitation department, electricity department, municipality department, and a few supervisors of other areas attended the morning meeting. The collection of professional leaders addressed a variety of topics during the meeting, all focused on increasing the quality of life for Ramadi citizens. The main topics of discussion for the meeting were the importance of electricity and water for the upcoming summer months, obtaining smooth communication between city departments and Iraqi Army units, providing honest jobs for the citizens, and identifying the “bad elements” of city departments.' Mayor Ayadah declared that "all of Ramadi must become a Green Zone." (MNFI)

Israel: Datiyot more likely to become officers. Israelity reports: ' According to a study commissioned by Israel’s Knesset (parliament), while only a fifth of religious women enroll in the army, those enlisted are more likely to opt for officer’s training than are their secular counterparts. “The army is interested in enlisting religious recruits because they are high achievers, and has therefore opened a versatile range of courses for them…” The Knesset Education Committee Chair said.' Article here. (Israelity, YNet)

Commentary. Take note: this troop surge is the make-or-break, decisive campaign that must bring an end to effective terrorism in Baghdad. And it is precisely this success that certain cowards in Washington know they must stop, lest the face of true courage be revealed, and put them to shame.

Senator Gordon Smith Votes Against Victory

Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon was one of seven allegedly Republican senators who voted against the Iraq troop surge.

Here is Gordon Smith's statement on the troop surge:
“Iraqis need to be their own street cops, not U.S. forces,” Senator Smith said, “This is the President’s Hail Mary pass. Now it is up to the Iraqi Army to catch the ball. We are extending an ineffective tactic to further the status quo. Iraqis must be the ones to settle their own peace.”

“One thing remains certain, as long as the Commander in Chief orders our armed forces into harms way, the Congress should extend blue chip financing to our troops. De-funding their bullets is dishonorable and deadly.”

Got that? We are extending an ineffective tactic to further the status quo. Now here's Iraq the Model:
Since the multiple bombings in Shroja market district on the 12th, Baghdad hasn’t seen any major attacks and there’s a tangible decrease in all kinds of attacks.

Not only official statements say so (Defense ministry officials said today that attacks are down by 80% in Baghdad). It’s a reality I live in nowadays, at least in my neighborhood and its surroundings. It is also what I hear from friends and relatives in other parts of the city.
We are hearing fewer explosions and less gunfire now than two weeks ago and that, in Baghdad, qualifies as quiet.

I agree with what some experts say about this lull in violence being the result of militants keeping their heads down for a while. It is also possibly the result of the flight of the commanders of militant groups. Grunts left without planners, money or leaders wouldn’t want to do much on their own.

During my tour in Baghdad today I had to pull over to be searched at several checkpoints — something that has rarely happened to me before. When you are searched soldiers or policemen check the identity cards of passengers, and the registration papers of the vehicle along with a thorough physical search. Checkpoints deal even more strictly with large vans and cargo trucks.

The interesting thing about new checkpoints is the constant shifting of their location. One hour the checkpoint would be here and two hours later it would relocate to another position within the area. I think this helps security forces avoid becoming targets instead of hunters.

But Senator Gordon Smith isn't interested in success; he's interested in failure. He's interested in portraying the war effort in Iraq as a "failure" - as he does in this press release explaining his vote against the nomination of General George Casey for Army Chief of Staff - and then ensuring that the results of the effort meet this expectation:
“While I am certainly grateful for his service to our country and admire his patriotism, General George Casey presided over the failed policy in Iraq. A failure should not result in a promotion. I have expressed frustration with the Administration’s strategy in Iraq. General Casey’s leadership is part of the status quo and we must go in a new direction.”

In reality, it is not General Casey, but Senator Smith who is working for American failure in Iraq.

Kat at The Middle Ground:
It is a fallacy to believe that this "reduction" will force a depletion in missions thus keeping our troops out of harms way. To believe that is to completely misunderstand or purposefully ignore the types of missions that would still have to occur in order to supply our forces that will still be in theater as well as support the Iraqi Army and police, even if they were in a position to stand up in the manner and number necessary to do the job our forces have been doing.

Our troops are out routinely sweeping the roads for IEDs, watching for ambushes and doing reconnaisance. None of which goes away because we have "reduced" the number of troops in the field.

Tammy Bruce:
If we continue to have success in the War on Radical Islamists, it means it will indeed continue for some time to come. If we "fail," or cut-and-run, it means people like the Clintons will once again have the White House remade into Animal House. After all, who wants to deal with serious issues when there's so much fun to had and so many more interns to, uh, have.

... None of these Mal Nars [malignant narcissists], of course, ever speak of victory or success. Instead, they want it to be like a television show, which ends at a specific time, regardless of result. Imagine had we fought World War II that way.

Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon seems destined to have his name recorded in the roster of shame at Victory Caucus - White Flag Republicans.

Oregon voters, remember: No matter what double-talk you may get from Senator Smith, he does not support the troops - or America's victory.

Return of The Middle Ground

I'm very pleased to announce that Kat at The Middle Ground is back from her hiatus, and keeping an eye on those Copperheads. Go check out her latest posts. And don't forget to bookmark The Middle Ground on your browser!

2007-02-13

Chait and Sadr: Living in Separate Realities

The New Republic's Jonathan Chait in TNR Online (subscription), February 12, 2007:
There is something genuinely bizarre about those remaining supporters of President Bush's strategy in Iraq. It is not just that they are wrong--being wrong happens to all of us from time to time. It's that they are completely detached from reality.

Their arguments have nothing to do with what is actually happening in Iraq. They aren't claiming that Bush's critics have a wrong impression of what's happening in Iraq. They just seem to have no interest in the subject themselves. Their arguments take place almost entirely at the level of abstraction.

If you follow the news in Iraq, the story has become depressingly familiar. Prime Minister Nouri Maliki is a creature of hard-line Shiite sectarians, and his government has been deeply infiltrated by Shiite militias. Everything he has done in his job has been toward the end of giving the Shiites an upper hand over the Sunnis.

Shiite militias have infiltrated the Iraqi army. We're equipping and training the bad guys. The Shiite militia members who haven't joined the army lay low when our troops patrol Baghdad, so that we fight the Sunnis and leave them standing. As Tom Lasseter of McClatchy Newspapers reported a week and a half ago, "The U.S. military drive to train and equip Iraq's security forces has unwittingly strengthened anti-American Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr's Mahdi Army militia."

That's why Maliki supports the surge. To the extent it succeeds, the surge will do a faster and better job of driving Sunnis out of Baghdad.

ABC News, February 13, 2007:
While members of the U.S. House of Representatives take turns weighing in on President Bush's planned troop surge in Iraq, the focus in Iraq is not on the arrival of more U.S. troops, but the departure of one of the country's most powerful men, Moqtada al Sadr and members of his army.

According to senior military officials, al Sadr left Baghdad two to three weeks ago and fled to Tehran, Iran, where he has family.

Al Sadr commands the Mahdi army, one of the most formidable insurgent militias in Iraq, and his move coincides with the announced U.S. troop surge in Baghdad.

Sources believe al Sadr is worried about an increase of 20,000 U.S. troops in the Iraqi capital. One official told ABC News' Martha Raddatz, "He is scared he will get a JDAM [bomb] dropped on his house."

2007-02-11

Al-Qaeda, you are our bitches!

The Jawa Report tells it like it is:
Coalition forces in Iraq have delivered a series of stunning blows to al Qaeda in Iraq in the last 48 hours.

A key aide to Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the man who replaced Abu Musab al Zarqawi as the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, has been captured south of Baghdad. As A.J. Strata notes, the trail to the al Qaeda leader is fresh: the captured aide admitted to meeting with al Masri yesterday.

Since Taji is north of Baghdad, these two al Qaeda IED cell leaders captured by the U.S. in West Taji are not the same as those above. That's four al Qaeda leaders captured.

But four is such a lonely number. A facilitator of foreign fighters was captured by the Iarqi Army on the Syrian border. And foreign fighters tend to mean al Qaeda.

Not to be outdone by the IA, the U.S. struck two houses where foreign fighters had gathered---13 jihadis dead. An "individual" associated with foreign fighter facilitation was in the targeted area.

But wait, that's not all. Coalition Forces conducted an air strike Wednesday targeting an al-Qaida in Iraq-related vehicle-borne improvised explosives devices network near Arab Jabour. Intelligence reports indicated that this network is responsible for a large and devastating number of VBIED attacks in the Baghdad area. They are also responsible for IED and sniper attacks conducted against the Iraqi people and Iraqi and Coalition Forces. Building destroyed, everyone inside presumably dead.

And another terrorist was captured in Taji. In addition to leading a bombing cell, he is also believed to be involved in taking Iraqis hostage and murdering them. Which would mean that he is either al Qaeda or one of the related organizations under the umbrella of the "Islamic State of Iraq".

So, we have 6 al Qaeda leaders captured, and possibly dozens more killed. All in the last 48 hours.

Do you see a pattern here? The little bastard al Masri better run and hide. Al Qaeda, you are our bitches!


MNF-Iraq has the latest:
EIGHT TERRORISTS KILLED, BUILDING DESTROYED IN ARAB JABOUR

BAGHDAD – Coalition Forces conducted an air strike Thursday evening after receiving heavy enemy fire during a raid targeting al-Qaida in Iraq terrorists and foreign fighter facilitators.

While receiving enemy fire from several directions, ground forces called in for air support. Eight terrorists barricaded themselves inside one of the buildings and continued to fire at the ground forces. Coalition aircraft dropped precision bombs on the building, resulting in its destruction and the deaths of the eight terrorists.

No Coalition Forces or innocent Iraqis were injured during the air strike.

The operation was part of ongoing efforts to eliminate terrorists and disrupt their operations in the Arab Jabour area.

Morning Report: February 11, 2007

General Petraeus takes charge, analysts look at a new inter-Palestinian accord, American officials break silence, satellite TV gets a review, and a survivor of anti-Semitism is attacked while one of its victims is laid to rest.

Petraeus addresses troops. MNF-Iraq:
To the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Civilians of Multi-National Force-Iraq:
We serve in Iraq at a critical time. The war here will soon enter its fifth year. A decisive moment approaches. Shoulder-to-shoulder with our Iraqi comrades, we will conduct a pivotal campaign to improve security for the Iraqi people. The stakes could not be higher.

Our task is crucial. Security is essential for Iraq to build its future. Only with security can the Iraqi government come to grips with the tough issues it confronts and develop the capacity to serve its citizens. The hopes of the Iraqi people and the coalition countries are with us.

The enemies of Iraq will shrink at no act, however barbaric. They will do all that they can to shake the confidence of the people and to convince the world that this effort is doomed. We must not underestimate them.

Together with our Iraqi partners, we must defeat those who oppose the new Iraq. We cannot allow mass murderers to hold the initiative. We must strike them relentlessly. We and our Iraqi partners must set the terms of the struggle, not our enemies. And together we must prevail. ...

Read the rest here. (MNFI)

Bill Roggio: Baghdad OOB. The Fourth Rail puts together a picture of the order of battle in Baghdad, from open-source material. 'The plan is to split Baghdad into two subcommands (Divisions) east and west of the Tigris River. An Iraqi Army general has assumed command of the overall operation, with U.S. units in support. The U.S. has devoted 9 combat Battalions plus Training Teams and Quick Reaction Forces, about 17,500 troops, to augment the 10 Iraqi Army combat Brigades, 8 Iraqi National Police Brigades and local police forces. The U.S. battalions will pair up with the Iraqi Army Brigades and police units, and establish approximately 30 Joint Security Stations (JSS) within the neighborhoods. From the JSS, US, Iraqi Army and police forces will maintain a permanent presence in the neighborhoods, conduct patrols and direct reconstruction projects.' Go to the link for full post, and a map. (TFR)

Khalid Hasan blasts Pakistani televangelists. Via ThreatsWatch, Pakistani expat Khalid Hasan takes on Pakistan's TV fundies, who get piped in via satellite to Pakistanis living abroad: 'The religious programmes are so dark and grim that one would have to have strong faith to remain in the flock after watching them. There you have these people, masquerading as divines and theologians, as authorities on the word of God and all that has been revealed to man. They never smile. They only deliver themselves of chilling warnings to those who stray from the path, a path that they credit God with having laid down, but of which the Almighty is quite innocent.' Go read it all. (Pakistan Daily Times via TW)

Evidence of Iran's role unveiled. Counterterrorism Blog:
"(O)ne of six Iranians detained in January in a raid on an office in the northern city of Irbil was the operational commander of the Quds Brigade, a unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards that trains and equips Shiite militants abroad. He was identified as Mohsin Chizari, who was apprehended after slipping back into Iraq after a 10-month absence, the officer said. The Iranians were caught trying to flush documents down the toilet, he said. Bags of their hair were found during the raid, indicating they had tried to change their appearance, he added. He said the dates of manufacture on weapons found so far indicate they were made after fall of Saddam Hussein -- mostly in 2006. He said the "machining" on the components was traceable to Iran but did not elaborate."

For the first time, American officials were able to quantify the casualties resulting from Iranian-made armaments: "Sophisticated Iranian-built bombs smuggled into Iraq have killed at least 170 US and allied soldiers since June 2004 and wounded 620 more, senior US defence officials have said. Iran is involved in supplying explosively formed projectiles or EFPs and other material to Iraqi extremist groups." And the briefing included a description of the route used by Iranian agents to smuggle the weapons into Iraq: "The U.S. officer said Iran was working through 'multiple surrogates' -- mainly 'rogue elements' of the Shiite Mahdi Army -- to smuggle the EFPs into Iraq. He said most of the components are entering Iraq near Amarah, the Iranian border city of Meran, and the Basra area of southern Iraq."

Also on the Iran/Iraq front, Debka has this:
Iran sends shoulder-borne QW-1 anti-air missiles to Iraqi Sunni insurgents and Hizballah to shoot down US and Israeli helicopters.

DEBKAfile’s sources in Tehran and Kurdistan disclose that, last month, two Iranian QW-1 and SA-7 missile consignments reached Iraqi insurgents allied with al Qaeda and one, radical Shiite Moqtada Sadr’s Shiite militia, the Mehdi Army. Israeli sources report the same anti-air weapons were delivered at about the same time to Hizballah units in Lebanon including the south.

Our military sources add that Iran’s arms industry has succeeded in replicating a quality version of the Chinese QW-1 and improved its electronics. It is 1.447meters long and packs 16.5 kilos of explosives. The IDF estimates that the first of these missiles used experimentally by Hizballah caused an Israeli helicopter to explode during take-off near the Litani River in the Lebanon War last summer.

Iranian markings have been erased from the equipment going into Iraq and Lebanon to suggest they were bought on the black market. Dated Soviet-era models of the SA-7 were indeed bought by Iran on Far East black markets and supplied to Iraqi insurgents and also pro-Tehran governors in western Afghanistan. Iran is preparing the ground for a Shiite insurgency against NATO forces there.

According to our sources, all three consignments to Iraq went through the North Iraqi Kurdistani town of Suleimaniya not far from the Iranian border. An Iranian clandestine center operates there like “the liaison center” the Americans raided in another Kurdish town, Irbil, last month. The Suleimaniya center operates with permission from Iraqi’s Kurdish president Jalal Talabani.

They weapons were smuggled in concealed compartments of trucks transporting building materials and iron from Iran for a Kurdish building company. After unloading their legitimate freight, the trucks drove on south up to the regional border where Iraqi insurgents off-loaded the missiles to their vehicles and distributed them to their networks in Baqouba, Ramadi and Tikrit – north of Baghdad and Hilla to the south.

Full posts at the links. (CTB, Debka)

ODIE on UAE. Or Does It Explode links to two views of the United Arab Emirates. Faisal Devji at FT: 'Dubai is a technocracy, its ruling family the simulacrum of a monarchy. Having been granted their titles by the British in India, the UAE's rulers derive their glamour from the vanished world of the Raj, while functioning like presidents of corporations. Democracy is misplaced in Dubai, being possible only in a community of citizens. To confine democracy to the small minority of Emiratis is nonsensical and to offer citizenship to the country's majority absurd. Democracy means citizenship, citizenship means nationality and nationality means the creation of a majority. There is no ethnic, linguistic, religious or even political majority in Dubai, nor can there ever be one given its total reliance on a migrant and expatriate workforce.' Youssef Ibrahim in the Sun: 'Even the fabulously oil-rich cannot buy that yearning of the mind and soul called culture with a fistful of dollars. For years now, Gulf Arabs have confused modernity with tall buildings, sophistication with the ability to trade on the New York Stock Exchange, and true education with the construction of gleaming, albeit vacuous, campuses.' Go read it all. (ODIE)

Elie Wiesel attacked in San Francisco. SF Examiner: 'A man who approached Nobel Peace laureate and Holocaust scholar Eli Wiesel seeking an interview at a San Francisco hotel last week later roughed him up, police said. Police are investigating the incident in which they say a man, who may have been a Holocaust denier, approached Wiesel in an elevator at a peace forum at the Argent Hotel Feb. 1 and requested an interview. When Wiesel consented to talk in the hotel's lobby, the man insisted it be done in a hotel room and dragged the 78-year-old off the elevator on the sixth floor, police Sgt. Neville Gittens said.' Police said a man posting at an anti-Semitic website registered in Australia claimed credit for the attack. Pro-Semite Undercover has a thread on it. (Examiner, PSU)

Mecca accords reviewed. Debka sees the Mecca accords between the two main Palestinian factions as having two main results: the ascendancy of Hamas over Fatah, and Riyadh's replacement of Tehran as the Palestinians' chief sponsor.
At Mecca, the Saudi monarch had quite different fish to fry: the replacement of Tehran as Hamas’ senior financier and backer. To this end, he dictated a reshuffle in both rival Palestinian groups, Hamas and Fatah.

The Damascus-based hard-line Khaled Meshaal, who had signed a pact with Tehran, was demoted, as was the second signatory of the Palestinian reconciliation package, the moderate, pro-Western Mahmoud Abbas. Raised in their place was prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, leader of Hamas’ political wing. Abbas’ ally, Gaza Strip Fatah commander Muhammad Dahlan, can expect a senior post in the Hamas-led government. Another winner is his business partner, the Palestinian-Kurdish tycoon Muhammad Rashid, who has turned his coat at least twice in two weeks while jostling to regain the influence he enjoyed behind the shoulder of the late Yasser Arafat who died in 2004.

...The Saudi king and the Hamas prime minister agreed on a six-point plan for subsequent incorporation as the core of the Mecca accord:

1. A shared interest in weakening Israel and active collaboration to achieve this goal;

2. This collaboration is based on personal trust between Abdullah and Haniyeh. As middlemen, they appointed Saudi intelligence chief Prince Moqrin bin Abdulaziz and the Palestinian Muhammed Rashid...

3. The Saudi throne endorsed Ismail Hanya as Palestinian prime minister on condition that he introduced members of the Fatah young guard, led by Dahlan, to key government positions. This group of factions, which includes the suicidal al Aqsa Suicide Brigades, aspires to take Fatah over from the veteran leaders including Mahmoud Abbas;

4. King Abdullah personally guaranteed full Saudi diplomatic, military and financial support for the Hamas-led Palestinian government;

5. Hamas government members would not be required to recognize Israel or previous peace agreements. No mention was made of violence against Israel or the renunciation thereof;

6. The most pressing goal in Riyadh’s sights was Haniyeh’s personal guarantee to scale down in stages the Iranian and Hizballah presence in Hamas ranks with a view to banishing both from the Gaza Strip. Prince Moqrin is in charge of the quiet understandings accompanying this point of agreement, which also contains a Saudi pledge to take the place of Shiite Tehran and Hizballah by paying for all the weapons and military instructors the Palestinian group needs.

Riyadh thus reverted to its original role as the founder and banker of Hamas, which the Saudis created in the 80s as a Sunni counterweight to the Shiite Hizballah.

Debka adds that 'No reaction has been forthcoming from Washington to the foursquare financial, military and intelligence backing Saudi Arabia has granted the extremist, jihadist Hamas, with no strings attached. The heads of Israel’s government have clearly not yet digested the fact that an Arab power which its policy-makers had counted on as a moderating, pro-Western Arab force had proved to be the opposite of this.' The Belmont Club comments: 'If the West is brought under Sharia law it will have no excuses. It will hardly be possible to argue that its leaders were deceived. That, like Neville Chamberlain, they let their idealism get the better of them. No excuse except plain illiteracy can explain the inability to comprehend this blatant statement of intent. "We have agreed with the Saudis to market this agreement internationally. ... We will never recognize Israel. There is nothing called Israel," he told Reuters. "We, in the Hamas movement, will not abide by anything."' (Debka, Belmont Club)

Ilan Halimi goes home. Murdered in Paris, buried in Jerusalem, Ilan Halimi is finally at rest. Arutz Sheva: 'Murdered and tortured French Jew Ilan Halimi was reburied in Israel on Friday in an emotional ceremony at Jerusalem’s Har HaMenuchot cemetery. Halimi was kidnapped and brutally tortured for three weeks before being murdered on February 13, 2006 by Muslims. His family, acknowledging that Halimi’s murderers targeted him due to his being a Jew and because of his relationship with Israel, decided to transfer Halimi’s body for burial in Jerusalem. The move and reburial was facilitated by the Jewish Agency for Israel, which normally handles Jewish immigration from the Diaspora. Hundreds of mourners, including Halimi’s mother Ruth and sisters Yael and Anne-Laure, gathered at the cemetery in Jerusalem’s Givat Sha'ul on Friday - the Hebrew anniversary of Ilan’s murder. Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Absorption Minister Ze'ev Boim, Chief Rabbi of France Yosef Sitruk, French Ambassador Jean-Michel Casa, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Vice-Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein and many Jewish immigrants from France attended the ceremony.' (A7)

Commentary. Apparently the gentleman who "accosted" (in the Examiner's delicate language) Mr. Wiesel in San Francisco didn't get the memo about non-violent conflict resolution.

The Belmont Club's Richard Fernandez notes that 'Hamas understands that Western Pacifism must rule out coercion at all costs; that all it has to do is wait, and all, even Israel's extinction, will be delivered, abjectly, to its doorstep.' Or as the RockRose Institute explains: 'The greatest challenge facing our world in the 21st century will not be a conflict over resources, or culture, or ideology—it will be our inability to resolve those conflicts without violence.'

Indeed.

2007-02-06

Morning Report: February 6, 2007

A Syrian activist has some words for ABC, an Iraqi politician comes under scrutiny, an Israeli general settles in to a new job, and more.

Syrian heretic vs. American appeaser. Amarji blasts Diane Sawyer:
Imagine this: you are a well-known TV correspondent and you now have a rare occasion to interview one of the main troublemakers in one of the world’s most turbulent and troubled regions, so, what would you do? What would you ask him about?

Well, I don’t know about you, but Diane Sawyer of ABC News (Video, Text) thought it will be a rather wonderful and congenial idea to give this man a platform from which to attack her country’s democratically elected administration, while ignoring the man’s and his regime’s record in oppressing his own population, dabbling in neighboring countries, and exporting chaos and terror, that is, in being one of the region’s the main domino players for decades.

So, there were no questions about the Hariri Investigation, or the situation in Lebanon, or connection to Iran, the sham referendum that brought him to power, the shame referendum that is designed to keep him in power, and about the fact that many insurgency leaders in Iraq are roaming around free in Damascus and talking to foreign journalists and operating their insurgency TV from Syria, not to mention the continuing crackdown against democracy and human rights advocated in the country. After all who cares about these issues, right? Because what inquiring minds really want to know is what’s on this fucking murderous moron’s iPod. ...

Amarji goes on to make this excellent point: 'Sure his regime’s survival was at stake. But, you know what?, he is a fucking maniacal dictator, his fears in this regard, albeit natural, are not legitimate. People often confuse the natural and legitimate in this case. The Assads’ reactions are often natural, but always illegitimate.' Go read the whole post. (Amarji)

Afghanistan: NATO warns fighters. Washington Times: 'NATO-led troops dropped leaflets on a southern Afghan town overrun by militants, warning the fighters to leave after their leader was killed in a targeted air strike, officials said yesterday. The leaflets dropped over Musa Qala late Sunday ordered the Taliban to leave the town, said Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary. An estimated 200 fighters swarmed Musa Qala last week, destroying the town center and temporarily taking local elders hostage. The town was subject to an October peace deal between village elders and the Helmand provincial government that prevented NATO, Afghan and Taliban fighters from coming within three miles of the town center.' (Washington Times)

Saving lives in Anbar. CENTCOM:
When Sgt. Nathaniel Tatum heard a loud “Boom” while on a security patrol through the windswept streets of this Euphrates River city, he didn’t think about how to react to the improvised explosive device (IED) blast – he simply “let the training take over.”

After two Marines were wounded in an IED blast, Jan. 18, 2007, Tatum and fellow Marines along with the squad corpsman, who the Marines call “Doc”, provided immediate medical attention to the injured Marines who would have been in “bad shape” without immediate attention, according to HM1(FMF/CAC) Patrick W. Horgan, independent duty corpsman with the Hawaii-based 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment.

While providing life-saving medical attention is business-as-usual for U.S. Navy corpsmen, the medical experience for the average U.S. Marine is often limited to the basic first-aid courses received in recruit training. However, Tatum and a group of approximately 100 Marines from the Battalion attended a Combat Lifesaver Course (CLC) while training in California, June, 2006.

In the CLC, corpsmen teach the Marines how to handle a casualty until a corpsman or medical officer is able to tend to the wounded. Throughout the course, Marines were taught how to apply a tourniquet, treat various wounds, administer an IV, recognize and treat shock, control blood loss and the anatomy of ballistic injuries.

“This [Combat Lifesaver Course] is probably some of the most important training a Marine can receive before deploying to a combat zone,” said HM3 Philip Oppliger, corpsman with Echo Company 2nd Battalion. “Ideally a corpsman is always going to be there when someone goes down, but that’s not always possible.” ...

One corpsman - or Navy medic - is assigned to each squat of 10 to 14 Marines; but in combat situations that's sometimes not enough. Read the full article at the link for details. (CENTCOM)

Enemy weapons seized in Iraq. MNF-Iraq: 'YUSUFIYAH — Iraqi Army and Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers uncovered more than 1,100 81mm high-explosive mortar rounds at a cache near the main highway, Route Tampa, leading into the Iraqi capital Saturday. Troops from 3rd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division and Troop B, 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment “Wolverines,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), made the discovery during Operation Wolverine Alesia near Yusufiyah, Iraq, just 10 miles southwest of the capital. Acting on a tip from a local resident, the troops conducted an intentional search of the area which resulted in the largest cache find in 2nd “Commando” Brigade’s history. In all, 1,129 mortar rounds were uncovered. ...' (MNFI)

Provincial Reconstruction Teams at work in Iraq. MNF-Iraq:
AN NASIRIYAH — In Iraq, Coalition Forces strive daily with Iraqis to establish a self-sustaining Iraq. Provincial Reconstruction Teams aiding in infrastructure projects here play an important role in the realization of this vision.

These teams help empower local and regional Iraqi government and community leaders with the responsibilities and decision-making for construction projects supporting their needs.

“The mission of the PRTs is to work in collaboration with the provincial government in each province to identify the critical needs of the province in terms of infrastructure reconstruction, and to assist the government to meet these needs by providing coalition funding (where appropriate) and expertise and advice,” said Richard Riley, a deputy team leader in Dhi Qar. “In addition, the PRTs deliver training and other programs to assist the provincial government to build up its own capacity and ability to fulfill its responsibilities to deliver services to the people of the province.”

The first objective of the PRTs is to establish a professional, effective and cordial relationship with the government, and then develop the trust and cooperation of those leaders to achieve mutual goals, Riley continued.

“The second objective is to work on a regular basis with the government to identify the critical needs of the population, to see where and how the coalition can best assist the government,” Riley said. “It will also revitalize Dhi Qar’s economy with the goal of alleviating the unemployment situation in the province and bring greater economic opportunities and a higher standard of living to the people.”

These teams establish and maintain ongoing communications through face-to-face meetings, phone calls and e-mails with the provincial government, as well as other non-governmental organizations and donor agencies active in the province. ...

Read the rest here. (MNFI)

Member of Iraqi parliament suspected of terrorist ties. Andrew Cochran at Counterterrorism Blog: 'Today we learn that a sitting member of the Iraqi Parliament, Jamal Jafaar Mohammed, might be a convicted and still-active terrorist. Mohammed was sentenced to death in Kuwait in 1984 for the bombings of the U.S. and French embassies there in 1983, in which 5 died and 86 were wounded. News reports also cite the U.S. military's assertions that Mohammed currently assists Iranian special forces in Iraq as "a conduit for weapons and political influence." Yet Mohammed now sits in Iraq's Parliament as a member of Prime Minister al-Maliki's ruling coalition. CNN reports that the U.S. Embassy there claims they are pursuing the case with the al-Maliki government. ...' (CTB)

Iran: "We need something besides confusion." ThreatsWatch posts a roundup of views on Iran, and goes on to cite Eli Lake's article on dissenting voices within the National Intelligence Estimate: 'The dissenters disagree with the majority opinion that Baathists and Sunni nationalists compose the majority of the Sunni insurgency, and instead “argue that the Baathist wing of the umbrella Sunni terrorist group has ceded authority to Abu Ayoub al-Masri, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq.” The Baathist wing they speak of includes fully six al-Anbar tribes now operating under al-Masri via the The Mujahideen Shura Council which, according to one quoted intelligence official, “is now for all intents and purposes an arm of Al Qaeda.”' Meanwhile, more ambiguous giving out from Gates and Pace:
The United States has no plans to go to war with Iran, but it won’t tolerate Iranian activities that are endangering U.S. troops in Iraq, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told reporters today during a Pentagon news conference.

“The president has made clear, the secretary of state has made clear, I’ve made clear … we are not planning for a war with Iran,” Gates said in response to a reporter’s question.

Rather, he said, the United States is working “to counter what the Iranians are doing to our soldiers,” most significantly their activities related to explosively formed projectiles, or EFPs, that are killing U.S. troops. EFPs are far more lethal than more traditional improvised explosive devices, Gates said, noting they are capable of taking out an M1-A2 Abrams tank.

“And so our effort is aimed at uprooting the networks that are providing these EFPS,” as well as IEDs, to al Qaeda and other groups, Gates said.

CENTCOM adds that 'The secretary emphasized that deploying a second aircraft carrier, the USS John C. Stennis, to the Persian Gulf isn’t a direct response to Iran. Rather, he said, it’s designed to send a message to friends and potential adversaries alike.' (ThreatsWatch, CENTCOM)

Shell shock. Vital Perspective: 'Royal Dutch Shell is not on our side in the War for the Free World. Last week, Shell announced that it has entered, with a Spanish oil company, Repsol, into a preliminary understanding to help the Iranian regime develop part of its vast South Pars natural gas reserve. This means a $10 billion investment in Iran. It also means a slap in the face to all of us who are working to undermine the genocidal regime in Tehran. If Shell decides to go forward with the deal the Mullas will get a shot in the arm that will only embolden them. Sadly, this comes at a time that the Iranian energy sector seems to be on the verge of collapse. Iran's oil minister Kazem Vaziri-Mamaneh has confirmed recently that the state's oil industry is suffering from an acute lack of investment. Shell's decision can overturn all that. Shell is a test case of our resolve and it should realize that investing in Iran will carry severe consequences. Frank Gaffney offers solutions: "The real power to punish Royal Dutch Shell for being against us in this War for the Free World should lie with American investors and consumers. The Roosevelt Anti-Terror Multi-Cap Fund (RATF) is the first mutual fund in the nation to be certified by the Conflict Securities Advisory Group as "terror-free." It holds in portfolio neither Shell nor any other publicly traded companies doing business in Iran, Sudan, Syria or North Korea. Nationwide Financial, E-Trade, Ameritrade and Schwab have begun offering RATF as an option on their investment platforms.' (Vital Perspective)

Debka on new army chief's challenges. Debka:
The incoming chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi, won a full four-year term when the cabinet unanimously endorsed him Sunday, Feb 4, instead of the standard 3 years and an optional fourth. He takes the reins from the hands of Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz on Feb. 14. Ashkenazi faces some hard choices before he can settle into the job. The flames of a Palestinian civil war engulfing the Gaza Strip pose a multiple threat to Israel which his bosses, the politicians, persist in brushing aside.

At the cabinet meeting Sunday, vice prime minister Shimon Peres stressed that Israel must not interfere in the Fatah-Hamas factional fight, tossing out typical sound bites: “Leave Gaza to the Gazans.” “We did not pull out in order to return.” “Our interference would be harmful.”

Defense minister Amir Peretz seconded these sentiments.

Neither admits that Israel is already deeply involved in the Gaza war. The new chief of staff will be called upon to judge the situation in the light of national security. If he emulates his predecessor, who slavishly obeyed Ariel Sharon, he will be dismissed as the second political appointee in a row to fill the post of top Israeli soldier.The consequences of Halutz’s meekness were plain to see in the Lebanon War last summer and the breakdown of life, law and order in the Gaza Strip, where Israel’s unilateral pullback left the territory without a Palestinian authority capable of taking charge.

But if the new chief of staff stands up to the policy-makers and keeps the country clear of fresh security blunders, he will go down as a worthy heir of the fine professional tradition of Israel’s past generals.

Ashkenazi faces his first test in the Gaza Strip.

Israel not only supplies the Fatah side led by Muhammad Dahlan with weapons and money to fight Hamas, but also intelligence and logistical backing, thereby sending two messages:

1. If Dahlan cannot finish Hamas, the IDF will go in and do it for him.

2. Even if Fatah under his generalship carries the day, the IDF will have to return to the Gaza Strip to destroy the thousands of missiles Hamas and Jihad Islami have stockpiled for attacking Israel. It is understood that Dahlan cannot complete this part of the campaign himself because this would compromise his bid to succeed Mahmoud Abbas as chairman of the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian and Arab streets would not forgive him for the sin of destroying Muslim weapons aimed at the Jewish State.

DEBKAfile’s military sources disclose that IDF preparations to retake sections of the Gaza Strip are in place. In stark contrast to the July-Aug 2006 Lebanon War, which left northern Israel prey to Katyusha attack, the defense ministry and military authorities are planning to evacuate the 100,000 civilians living in Sderot and the towns and villages within missile range of Gaza to get them out of harm’s way of retaliation.

Full post at the link. The article concludes that Ashkenazi will be under scrutiny for both is battlefield performance and his ability to juggle the demands of a divided Israeli leadership. (Debka)

Commentary. Nobody can predict where the next rounds are going to go downrange. Will it be Israel/Hezbollah, round 2? Or Israel versus Iran? Washington seems unwilling to confront the Iranian threat ... is that because they believe Israel will strike first? No matter what happens, it's a safe bet Syria won't sit on the sidelines for long.

2007-02-04

Morning Report: February 4, 2007

Terrorists strike again in Baghdad, just ahead of the crackdown; Israel weighs its Iranian options; the good guys strike more blows against al-Qaeda and the Taliban; and an Israeli couple establish a "first".

Terrorist attack in Baghdad kills 130. Debka: 'A huge truck bomb kills 130 people, wounds 305, in a single attack on outdoor market in central Baghdad Saturday. The suicide bomber, driving a truck full of food, detonated explosives in the crowded outdoor market in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood, destroying many stores and stalls.' Reuters via Washington Times: 'A suicide bomber killed 135 persons yesterday in the deadliest single explosion in Iraq since the 2003 war began, driving a truck laden with a ton of explosives into a market in a mainly Shi'ite area of Baghdad. The blast, which Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite, blamed on supporters of the late dictator Saddam Hussein and other Sunni militants, shattered fruit and vegetable stalls, caved in shopfronts and left the smashed bodies of shoppers strewn in the street. It was the fifth major bombing targeting Shi'ites in less than a month, and it occurred as U.S. and Iraqi troops prepared for a planned offensive to halt the attacks. ... A senior Iraqi Interior Ministry official, Maj. Gen. Jihad al-Jaberi, told state television that the suicide bomber had driven a truck with an estimated one ton of explosives.' AP via MSNBC: 'A suicide bomber driving a truck loaded with a ton of explosives hidden beneath cooking oil, canned food and bags of flour obliterated a Baghdad food market on Saturday, killing at least 132 people in one of the most fearsome attacks in the capital since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.' AFP: 'A HUGE truck bomb killed 135 people and wounded 300 in a busy market in a mainly Shi'ite area of central Baghdad overnight, in the capital's deadliest single bombing in the capital since the 2003 US-led war. The blast in Sadriya shattered food stalls and smashed the facades of shops, setting some on fire. The area was attacked in December, when three car bombs ripped through the same market, killing 51.' Iraq the Model:
I was with a friend on our way home yesterday when we were shocked by the sound of a powerful explosion. We looked in all directions trying to figure out where it was but there was nothing to indicate where the bomb, or whatever it was, went off.

My friend's phone rang; it was his sister checking on him, she told him the explosion looked close to their place. Seconds later Omar was calling to make sure I was ok and he too thought the explosion was close to our home. Strange thing is despite the distance between my friend's home, my home and our location at that point everyone thought the explosion was too close and this suggests it was a massive one.

Soon a plume of thick smoke was rising from the ground and it wasn't close to any of the places above. Minutes later I saw the first reports on TV talking about a huge explosion in al-Sadriya market and casualty tolls were increasing every other minute—25, then 40, then 75…an hour later news was talking bout more than a hundred killed in what the media like to call a "predominantly Shia neighborhood".

Al-Sadriya doesn't belong to a certain sect; it's a commercial area where shoppers and shopkeepers are simply Baghdadis but sadly the media is keen on adding sectarian descriptions of the attacked targets in their reports. These descriptions draw the path for blind retaliators who in this case shortly responded by showering what the media calls "predominantly Sunni neighborhoods" with mortars to kill and wound dozens.

Mohammed adds that 'The security plan isn't at work yet and Baghdad is receiving heavy blows. This is not unexpected because the enemies recognize what Baghdad means to the outcome of this war. Life and stability in this city will mean defeat for terrorists of all backgrounds and they feel they must fight hard to stop this from happening.' Read the full post at the link. (various)

Will Israel bomb Iran? Via Israpundit (no source given): 'Israel has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons. Two Israeli air force squadrons are training to blow up an Iranian facility using low-yield nuclear “bunker-busters”, according to several Israeli military sources. The attack would be the first with nuclear weapons since 1945, when the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Israeli weapons would each have a force equivalent to one-fifteenth of the Hiroshima bomb. Under the plans, conventional laser-guided bombs would open “tunnels” into the targets. “Mini-nukes” would then immediately be fired into a plant at Natanz, exploding deep underground to reduce the risk of radioactive fallout. “As soon as the green light is given, it will be one mission, one strike and the Iranian nuclear project will be demolished,” said one of the sources. The plans, disclosed to The Sunday Times last week, have been prompted in part by the Israeli intelligence service Mossad ’s assessment that Iran is on the verge of producing enough enriched uranium to make nuclear weapons within two years.' (Israpundit)

Did Mossad kill Iranian nuclear expert? Also from Israpundit: 'A senior nuclear physicist involved in Iran’s nuclear program who died under mysterious circumstances two weeks ago was killed by the Mossad, according to a report released on a U.S. website this weekend. The website - Stratfor.com - features intelligence and security analysis by former U.S. intelligence agents. Professor Ardashir Hosseinpour, a world authority on electromagnetism, was until recently working on uranium enrichment at the facility in Isfahan, one of the central processing sites in Iran’s nuclear program. The physicist died January 18, but news of his death only emerged six days later in two Iranian media outlets. A report released this weekend in Stratfor stated that the Mossad was behind Hosseinpour’s death. The report said the physicist died from “radioactive poisoning” as part of a Mossad effort to halt the Iranian nuclear program through “secret operations.” [”radioactive poisoning”. Hmmm, sounds familiar. Didn’t Mossad also kill the Canadian expert who was helping Saddam Hussein to build a BIG gun capable of firing on Israel from Iraq?]' The Times via Internet Haganah: 'A PRIZE-WINNING Iranian nuclear scientist has died in mysterious circumstances, according to Radio Farda, which is funded by the US State Department and broadcasts to Iran. An intelligence source suggested that Ardeshire Hassanpour, 44, a nuclear physicist, had been assassinated by Mossad, the Israeli security service. Hassanpour worked at a plant in Isfahan where uranium hexafluoride gas is produced. The gas is needed to enrich uranium in another plant at Natanz which has become the focus of concerns that Iran may be developing nuclear weapons. According to Radio Farda, Iranian reports of Hassanpour’s death emerged on January 21 after a delay of six days, giving the cause as “gas poisoning”. The Iranian reports did not say how or where Hassanpour was poisoned but his death was said to have been announced at a conference on nuclear safety.' (Israpundit, Internet Haganah)

Al-Qaeda figures killed, others detained in Iraq. MNF-Iraq:
Coalition Forces killed four terrorists and detained 29 suspected terrorists during raids targeting foreign fighters and the al-Qaida in Iraq network Saturday morning.

During a raid in Fallujah, Coalition Forces targeted a terrorist with known ties to a foreign fighter network. As ground forces approached the targeted building, three armed terrorists attempted to fire on them. Coalition Forces killed the three armed terrorists and detained 10 suspected terrorists.

West of Tarmiyah, Coalition Forces targeted terrorists with ties to the al-Qaida in Iraq network. Upon approaching the objective, one suspected terrorist began advancing towards Coalition Forces.

Coalition Forces told the man to get on the ground. The man complied at first and then got back up and charged toward Coalition Forces with what appeared to be a grenade. Coalition Forces used proper escalation of force to mitigate the threat.

Upon searching the man, Coalition Forces determined the man was charging at them with a rock in his hand instead of a grenade. The man died from his wounds. Coalition Forces detained eight suspected terrorists during this raid.

During an operation in Tarmiyah, five suspected terrorists were detained. Intelligence reports indicated that the suspects are involved in al-Qaida in Iraq kidnapping operations, improvised explosive devices emplacement and foreign terrorist safe house activities. Coalition Forces also uncovered a weapons cache consisting of numerous AK-47s, several pistols, wire spools, 60mm mortar rounds and a pressure plate. ...

Full post at the link. (MNFI)

NATO strike kills Taliban leader. AP via MSNBC: 'NATO-led troops killed a senior Taliban leader with a precision airstrike near a southern Afghan town overrun by militants, a spokesman for the alliance said Sunday. ... Musa Qala on Thursday was overrun by an estimated 200 Taliban fighters who disarmed local police, ransacked the district center and hoisted their trademark white flag.' (AP)

First gay couple registered in Israel. Israelity: 'Last week, Jerusalem residents Avi and Binyamin Rose returned to Jerusalem after having married in Toronto, Canada, in June. They were the first gay couple to registered their marriage in Israel following a Nov. 29 ruling by the High Court of Justice requiring the Israeli government to register same-sex marriages of gay Israelis legally wed abroad.' (Israelity)

Commentary. The murderers in Iraq must be getting panicky; with another 20,000 or so combat troops coming their way, there's a good chance that more of the blood shed in the coming weeks will be their own.

What's up with the leak about an impending Israeli strike on Iran? I think the strongest likelihood is that Israel is trying to pressure Washington to get in there and do something first. But the Bush Administration seems to want to leave that to Israel. It's an Alphonse and Gaston routine of "After you! - No, no, after you!"

2007-02-03

Carmela Bousada, 67, Gives Birth to Twins ...

... without Cathy Seipp's permission. LA Times reports:
Carmela Bousada, a 67-year-old retired Spanish department store clerk, gave birth to twin boys Dec. 29 in Barcelona. Over the weekend, the single mother admitted to European reporters that she had deceived [Dr. Vicken] Sahakian [of the Pacific Fertility Center] in order to become pregnant.

Cathy Seipp responds:
Yet did any honest reader come across that story this week about the 67-year-old Barcelona woman who just gave birth to twins - by lying about her age to a Los Angeles fertility doctor - and not relexively think: Freak show?

Actually my first, "reflexive" thought was: Wow, good for her. Oh, but wait, I forgot - Cathy Seipp can read minds. I am not being "honest".

Cathy explains what's really bothering her:
Leaving aside all the increased health risks to these older mothers and their babies, the cold, hard reason your life and health insurance premiums rise each year is that the longer you live, the more likely it is that the passage of time means you will, in the near future, sicken and die.

Is that a fact? Gosh, sure wish I'd thought of that. I'll bet that 67-year-old woman never thought of it either. Now how about this for a concept: As we grow older, we often become more acutely aware of our own mortality, and of the need to leave something of ourselves behind to carry on. I would have thought that the right-hand side of the blogosphere, which has been sounding warnings about the falling birthrate in Western countries (interspersed with stern admonitions about the "selfishness" of failing to "be fruitful and multiply") would get this; can't we leave the mom-bashing to the left-wing moonbats?

Now, I wouldn't want to be in the shoes of Dr. Sahakian, or of the clinic's director, Dr. Richard J. Paulson. The clinic's policy of not wanting to be party to a risky pregnancy is, from their standpoint, only prudent. But Bousada passed their health screening, knew the risks, and accepted them of her own free will. And even Paulson opposes a government-imposed age limit:
"As soon as you get into an area of zero tolerance, it's easy to find a case when regulation becomes wrong or harmful," Paulson said in an interview Monday. "To go and try to interfere with someone's reproductive rights is a very touchy area."


A more serious issue is the question of "who will look after the kids?" The LA Times article notes that Bousada is a single mother, and that the clinic's policy is not to treat either single women over 55 or married women when the combined age of the couple is 110. So by my math, Bousada could have avoided the whole mess by marrying a 42-year-old man before going to the clinic. As it is, though,
Bousada said she is looking for a younger man to marry and be the father of her sons.

- which seems sensible enough.

So, what is Cathy Seipp's issue with all of this, exactly?
Sure, older men can still marry younger women and father children. We all know about Tony Randall et al. But why spend tens of thousands of dollars to raise the odds that a child will grow up motherless?

So, it is not simply a parent (i.e. a surviving younger husband) that is essential, but, specifically, a mother. By this reasoning, then, no woman with a terminal or life-threatening disease ought to consider getting pregnant, for fear of bringing into the world a child who will be left motherless. (Presumably a stepmother through the husband's remarriage doesn't count.)

But wait! That's not the real problem either, apparently:
Those aging celebrites like Geena Davis and Angela Bassett you see giving birth in their late ’40s and beyond can afford expensive fertility treatments. If they die before the babies grow up, at least they have enough money to make sure their children will be well provided for.

So according to Seipp, the "motherless child" objection can be offset by a sufficient bank account.

No, the real problem for Cathy Seipp is that she just thinks it's gross. She makes that clear with her initial assessment of the situation - "freak show" - and with her column title: "A new low."

Having a baby at 67, "a new low"? Maybe, but not as low as this 90-year-old woman:
18:11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, and well stricken in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.--

18:12 And Sarah laughed within herself, saying: 'After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?'

18:13 And the Lord said unto Abraham: 'Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying: Shall I of a surety bear a child, who am old?

18:14 Is any thing too hard for the Lord. At the set time I will return unto thee, when the season cometh round, and Sarah shall have a son.'