April, 2004

NOTE: Information regarding the WMD lies and other matters directly related to the prior stage of the war is available at Iraq Antiwar Resources. Also there are antiwar songs, poetry, video, statements of famous people, and much more.

The Occupation

Occupation Resistance Analysis

What the US and the US media would have us ignore: Around 1,361 Iraqis killed in April's violence, 10 times the U.S. death toll. This figure is calculated by the Associated Press. "Also, the tally is likely incomplete, because witnesses reported deaths in some attacks that could not be confirmed by a hospital, the Iraqi police or U.S. officials."

The Iraqi health minister, Khudayer Abbas, gave a much lower number on April 22, saying 271 people were killed in the city [Falluja].... At one of the fields [one of "two football fields were turned into cemeteries"], an AP reporter was told by volunteer gravediggers on April 11 that more than 300 people had been buried there. During the height of the siege, residents were unable to get outside, so an unknown number of dead were buried in backyards.

Amnesty International's statement regarding the pictures of torture at Abu Ghraib prison: Iraq: Torture not isolated -- independent investigations vital. In addition to their call for independent investigations, it is vital that all prisons and detention centers be routinely monitored by independent observers not bound to speak privately. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) does occasionally visit these centers, but the do not have observers based their and their policy is not release any report to the public. These horrors make clear that this is no longer sufficient. We need an international campaign to demand permanent, independent, international observers in every Iraqi prison and detention center. Meanwhile, the British government is now investigating a photo of alleged torture by a British soldier. UK troops in Iraqi torture probe. Colonial occupation, like all absolute power, inevitably breeds abuse of the colonized, who are often viewed as subhuman, not like us. See the Australian Letters to the Editor: They tracked Saddam, only to follow in his footsteps on this issue.

Amnesty International has received frequent reports of torture or other ill-treatment by Coalition Forces during the past year. Detainees have reported being routinely subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment during arrest and detention. Many have told Amnesty International that they were tortured and ill-treated by US and UK troops during interrogation. Methods often reported include prolonged sleep deprivation; beatings; prolonged restraint in painful positions, sometimes combined with exposure to loud music; prolonged hooding; and exposure to bright lights. Virtually none of the allegations of torture or ill-treatment has been adequately investigated by the authorities.

Released Japanese hostages express sympathy for captors: Captors Were 'Soldiers'.

Reaction to the Abu Ghraib prison abuse and torture pictures from around the world: Iraqi prison photos mar US image. Bush, of course, sheds crocodile tears: Bush Expresses 'Deep Disgust' at Abuse of Iraqis, as does Blair: Blair condemns Iraq prison abuses. But for many US papers, abuse of Iraqis was simply not major news: What the US papers don't say. Meanwhile, CBS is putting obstacles to letting the rest of the world see the consequences of US occupation: ITV in talks for Iraq torture report. Here is video from ABC Australia gives a sense of the world reaction: World outraged by U.S. torture of Iraqi prisoners.

[Iraqi prison:] "This is the straw that broke the camel's back for America," said Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi. "The liberators are worse than the dictators. They have not just lost the hearts and minds of Iraqis but all the Third World and the Arab countries...."
Saudi Arabia's English-language Arab News daily said: "The greatest loss the Americans face is to their reputation, not simply in the Middle East but in the world at large. US military power will be seen for what it is, a behemoth with the response speed of a muscle-bound ox and the limited understanding of a mouse...."
[Amnesty International says the obvious:] "The prison was notorious under Saddam Hussein -- it should not be allowed to become so again," said the human rights pressure group. "Our extensive research in Iraq suggested that this is not an isolated incident," it said. "Detainees have reported being routinely subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment during arrest and detention."

Would you hire these people to run your empire? Rumsfeld says Iraq hostility has been a surprise: But defense chief defends decision to go to war

[Rumsfeld:] "Intelligence was all over the lot on that, and our intelligence people had a great many contacts, both with Sunni and Shia. And the information was mixed." [So why didn't they plan for the possibility that Iraqis might not take too kindly to having their country taken over by Americans?]

Apparently massive re-Baathification underway. Evidently, they don't plan on distinguishing between reappointing teachers and doctors, and placing Saddam's Generals and Police Chiefs in charge of security. Shia beware! Baath Party Members to Return to Jobs. In a sign of increased trouble for US Moqtada Sadr denounces this policy: Sadr : Americans hates Iraqis.

The New Iraq! A few more of the horrifying picture from Abu Ghraib Prison have become available: The Abu Ghraib Prison Photos. Among the outrages is that some of the abuse was apparently ordered by private mercenary interogators, including one who is accused of "raping a young, male prisoner but has not been charged because military law has no jurisdiction over him": US military in torture scandal: Use of private contractors in Iraqi jail interrogations highlighted by inquiry into abuse of prisoners. Here are: Soldier's Journal Details Prison. As these abuses have been repeatedly reported in the British and independent press, they were well known to anyone who wanted to know. Thus, it makes sense that: Accused Soldier's Kin Say He's Scapegoat. I feel very sorry for them. It demonstrates again the horrors of war and occupation, as it dehumanizes the occupiers as well as the occupied. The New Iraq! As we contemplate these photos, there are many questions that we should ask: Where were the hundreds of other troops that must have been stationed there? What about all the government and private interrogators? What compensation will be made to the tens of thousands of Iraqis who have passed through this concentration camp? And when will the thousands still there be released or charged with some crime? Meanwhile, as we contemplate these horrors, think of what other abuses are occurring across Iraq that the US conveniently ignores today and imagine what they do in the Guantanamo concentration camp!

[US military... private contractors:] But this is the first time the privatisation of interrogation and intelligence-gathering has come to light. The military investigation names two US contractors, CACI International Inc and the Titan Corporation, for their involvement in Abu Ghraib.... It's insanity," said Robert Baer, a former CIA agent, who has examined the case, and is concerned about the private contractors' free-ranging role. "These are rank amateurs and there is no legally binding law on these guys as far as I could tell. Why did they let them in the prison?" [Call it Torturers-R-US]
[Soldier's Journal:] The Iraqi prisoners were sometimes confined naked for three consecutive days without toilets in damp, unventilated cells with floors 3 feet by 3 feet, Frederick wrote in materials supplied to The Associated Press by a relative Thursday. "When I brought this up with the acting BN (battalion) commander, he stated, 'I don't care if he has to sleep standing up.' That's when he told my company commander that he was the BN commander and for me to do as he says," Frederick wrote.... "I can assure you Chip Frederick had no idea how to humiliate an Arab until he met up" with higher-ranking people who told him how, Myers [his lawyer] said.

Meanwhile, the so-called reconstruction funds aren't being spent and are being diverted for the new US embassy [aka Iraqi government[: Rebuilding Aid Unspent, Tapped to Pay Expenses.

So far, occupation officials have reassigned $184 million appropriated for drinking-water projects to fund the operations of the U.S. Embassy after the provisional authority is dissolved June 30.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz cares so little for soldiers lives, he hasn't a clue how many have died in Iraq: Wolfowitz comes up short on number of troop deaths.

Another $50 billion to be thrown down the drain after the $150 billion or so already spent on a failed occupation? We know, of course, that even that won't prove to be enough, once the US elections are over: Congress Prepares for New Iraq Spending.

Chalabi's boys are under investigation for murder and robbery. Where is the "capture or kill" rhetoric? Where are the AC130's straffing them? Iraq congress members under investigation: Allegations include abduction, robbery, assault, car theft .

CBS shows pictures of soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners: U.S. Troops Abused Iraq Prisoners. Here is a Transcript of the 60 Minutes II report and a story that emphasizes the systemic character of the abuse: 'System wide' mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners: report. Since these abuses have been reported for months and months by Iraqis, why are they only being reported now by the US press and admitted by the military? See Rahul Mahajan's Commentary.

[Transcript:] "We help getting them to talk with the way we handle them. ... We've had a very high rate with our style of getting them to break. They usually end up breaking within hours." According to the Army’s own investigation, that’s what was happening. The Army found that interrogators asked reservists working in the prison to prepare the Iraqi detainees, physically and mentally, for questioning.... [S]o far, none of the interrogators at Abu Ghraib are facing criminal charges.
The Army investigation confirms that soldiers at Abu Ghraib were not trained at all in Geneva Convention rules....
But the Army investigation found serious problems behind the scenes. The Army has photographs that show a detainee with wires attached to his genitals. Another shows a dog attacking an Iraqi prisoner. Frederick said that dogs were “used for intimidation factors.”
There is also a picture of an Iraqi man who appears to be dead -- and badly beaten.
Two weeks ago, 60 Minutes II received an appeal from the Defense Department, and eventually from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, to delay this broadcast -- given the danger and tension on the ground in Iraq. 60 Minutes II decided to honor that request.

British Petroleum decides to pull out of Iraq: Blow to rebuilding hopes as BP backs out: Chief oil industry executive cites security and political fears .

How many hours will this one last? Iraqi leaders change colours after flag flap.

Must Read! A new USA Today/CNN poll of 3,500 Iraqis indicates Iraqis are sick and tired of occupation and want the US out now. [This poll was largely taken before the April uprising further solidified anti-occupation nationalist sentiment.] Poll: Iraqis out of patience. Here are: Key Survey Findings.

Asked whether they view the coalition as "liberators" or "occupiers," 71% of all respondents say "occupiers." That figure reaches 81% if the separatist, pro-U.S. Kurdish minority in northern Iraq is not included. The negative characterization is just as high among the Shiite Muslims who were oppressed by Saddam as it is among the Sunnis who embraced him....
53% say they would feel less secure without the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, but 57% say the foreign troops should leave anyway. Those answers were given before the current faceoffs in Fallujah and Najaf between U.S. troops and Iraqi fighters....
Bearing the brunt of Iraqis' ill feeling: members of the U.S. military. The most visible symbol of the occupation, they are viewed by many Iraqis as uncaring, dangerous and lacking in respect for the country's people, religion and traditions.
The insurgents, by contrast, seem to be gaining broad acceptance, if not outright support, for strikes against Americans. If the Kurds, who make up about 13% of the poll, are taken out of the equation, more than half of Iraqis say killing U.S. troops can be justified in at least some cases. But attacks against Iraqi police officers, who are U.S.-trained, are strongly condemned by the Iraqi people.... raqis interviewed in Baghdad this week about the poll results say they've lost patience with the U.S. effort to crush the insurgency and rebuild Iraq....
Americans regard their men and women in uniform as liberators who are trying to help Iraq. But the Iraqis now see them as a threat, question their purpose and focus their anger on them....
Two-thirds say soldiers in the U.S.-led coalition make no attempt to keep ordinary Iraqis from being killed or wounded during exchanges of gunfire.... More than 60% say the troops show disrespect for Iraqi people in searches of their homes, and 42% say U.S. forces have shown disrespect toward mosques.... Overall, only 11% of Iraqis say coalition forces are trying hard to restore basic services such as electricity and clean drinking water.

As another sign of Iraqi disaffection: Siege of Fallujah provokes second mutiny.

The US has created, and is creating, thousands, perhaps tens or hundreds of thousands, of homeless in Iraq, as it destroys homes in the vain hopes of putting down the insurgency. In addition to the humanitarian disaster, this will help create the next generation of resistance fighters. Just ask the Israelis: Creating Homeless in Iraq.

Al-Jazeera has an excellent descrruption of the basis of support for the Sadr movement in the poor of Sadr City: Al-Sadr City: Support from the impoverished as the US, this time through the mouth of hack Colin Powell, launches into an attack on the cause of all the American's problems in Iraq, independent reporting not hewing to the US line: US attacks al-Jazeera coverage. Powell makes clear that his definition of "accurate reporting" is slavishly following the US line. Arguments about accurate reporting are laughable from the country of Fox News, where virtually no one in the press bothered to report doubts about the mythical WMDs.

In the humor department, that US tactics over the past few days could be called an attempt to win hearts and minds is stunning, when one hears about the firepower being used in Falluja and Najaf. Anything less than total desctruction is described as "restraint"! U.S. weighs tactics: NATO carrot or Israeli stick.

Patrick Cockbur and David Usborne provide further information on the extent of Iraqi opposition to the new flag. At one stroke, the IGC/CPA have managed to create a symbol of nationalist opposition -- the old flag: Burning with anger: Iraqis infuriated by new flag that was designed in London. Of course, as with everything the IGC does, there was corruption and/or nepotism involved.

"What gives these people the right to throw away our flag, to change the symbol of Iraq?" asked Salah, a building contractor of normally moderate political opinions. "It makes me very angry because these people were appointed by the Americans. I will not regard the new flag as representing me but only traitors and collaborators...."
Already anti-US guerrillas are adopting the old red, white and black banner as their battle flag, tying it to their trucks and sticking it in the ground where they have their positions. This blend of nationalism and religion has proved highly successful in spreading resistance to the occupation....
The new flag is the work of an Iraqi artist resident in London called Rifat Chadirji whose design was the best of those considered. He is also the brother of Nassir al-Chaderchi, the chairman of the IGC committee charged with choosing a new flag for Iraq.

UPI reports that, despite US claims to the contrary, Iraqi oil production is still nowhere near prewar levels, due to extensive continuing sabotage: Iraqi pipeline attacks go unreported.

Update on the Political Situation. The US is facing resistance at the UN to its proposed resolution because of its demand that it maintain control of the military: Move to endorse Iraq plan could fail over troops. Meanwhile, realizing that current plans call for abolishing the "Iraqi Governing Council", IGC members have suddenly taken to feigning surprise that the US intends to maintain control after the symbolic return of "sovereignty": Iraqis demand full sovereignty and Minister Says Iraqis Want Full Sovereignty. An American general states the obvious, that the US intends to keep troops in (controlling) Iraq for MANY years: General: Marines Will Occupy Iraq For Years. Spain is proposing that the international community take over in Iraq, with no troops from the current coalition countries: Spain to Float Iraq Proposal to France, Germany. Finally, in major work of analysis, Peter W. Galbraith argues that Iraq is a myth and that a loose federation is the only viable solution: How to Get Out of Iraq.

The "Governing Council" puppets are so out of touch with their "subjects" they can't even get the flag right. Of course, as in everything else they do (which is VERY little, by all accounts), they don't bother consulting the people they claim to represent. That, after all, would necessitate leaving the Green Zone: Iraqis balking at replacement for flag from Saddam's regime.

Is American style news finally coming to Iraq? Al-Jazeera decides to tone down Iraq coverage, faces criticism from within and from other Arab media: Al-Jazeera tells staff to censor 'violence' reports from Iraq.

Small miracles in the midst of horror: Iraq: Baby Born on Truck as Mother Flees Falluja.

There was pressure for Britain to send in more troops to replace the departing Spaniards (and Dominicans and Hondurans and ...): ANALYSIS-UK seen taking charge in Iraq's Shi'ite heartlan. But: "Too Late for Hearts and Minds": British Military Resisting Call for More Forces to Aid Americans in Iraq. For the moment, Blair seems to be listening more to his military than to his bosses in Washington: We have enough troops in Iraq, says Blair.

haith Abdul Ahad in the Guardian sees similarities between Saddam and Moqtada Sadr: Iraqi revolutionaries: Saddam may be out of the picture, but his methods are living on just fine in the new Iraq . Two articles from the New York Times suggest that many Najaf residents are tiring of Sadr: Inside Falluja, a Cease-Fire in Name Only and Waiting for Change in Najaf, Preparing to Force It in Falluja. But, even if these accounts are true, don't forget that Sadr's biggest base of support is in Sadr City, population 2 million.

The security situation has virtually stopped all "reconstruction", increasing the odds that Iraqis will not have air conditioning again this summer. The natives may get restless... Of course, the contractors haven't done much during the past year of relative calm: Attacks halt rebuilding of Iraq: Disaster facing power network as contractors pull out .

This Christian Science Monitor piece puts Sadr in perspective as his father's heir: Sadr the agitator: like father, like son.

For the first time, the Iraqi Governing Council does something: Iraq unveils new 'inclusive' flag.

The current "Governing Council" president, Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani blamed the US for current troubles. This is a major sign of dissafection of "moderate Iraqi leaders": Iraq Official Blames U.S. for Standoff.

raq's current Governing Council president said Monday the United States has only itself to blame for the military deadlock at Najaf and Fallujah because it allowed its troops to change from "an army of liberation" to "an army of occupation."

Iraqis well aware that US will maintain total control after passing "sovereignty": Iraqis Complain U.S. Has Too Much Power.

Killers R U.S! The British army is loosing its trained officer to the mercenary Corp: Hundreds of army officers resign to cash in on Iraqi security boom.

Must Watch! Watch: Marines deal with suspected looters (Windows media) with their usual sensitivity. Obviously, these guys don't belong in a country where they can't even speak the language.

An Iraqi woman, Susan Karim, imprisoned and tortured under Saddam Hussein, describes the horror she witnessed upon returning to an Iraq under occupation: Back to Baghdad.

"My soul is burdened with sadness and my face is drowning in silent tears," she says quietly. "The moment I entered the chaos of Baghdad, I felt as if an immense pain was tearing my heart to pieces...."
oday, she couldn’t care less about the trappings of success. She is even considering going back to Iraq as a human shield because she fears that, given the deteriorating security situation, the Shia holy places in Najaf and Kerbala will be hit.

War Crimes! Another account, this time by an Australian, of the murderous behavior of American troops in Falluja. The author, Donna Mulhearn was shot twice by US troops while approaching with her hands in the air, describing over a loudspeaker that her aim was to get permission to take medical supplies in an ambulance to a cut-off hospital: Two more bullets: I had been shot at, not once, but twice by American soldiers after politely asking permission to transport aid to a hospital. Remember these accounts when the marines get their orders to conquer Falluja no matter what, and the bodies start piling up by the hundreds or thousands. Then the generals will tell press conferences about how careful they were, and all fire was "targeted". Of course it will be targeted,... to kill.

The Spoils! A new report documents that 20% of all reconstruction money goes to corruption, and this isn't even referring to the billions being looted by the likes of Halliburton and Bechtel: Operation kickback? Report alleges 20 percent of Iraq reconstruction costs lost to corruption [Christian Science Monitor] and: Spoils of War by NPR's Marketplace staff Adam Davidson and Mark Schapiro. The articles make clear that the fault lies not [only] with corrupt Iraqis, but was built in deliberately by Republicans in Washington. Remember, this 20% is on top of the 25% or so going to "security": Up to one-fourth of U-S reconstruction money for Iraq is going for security. As to the results, the BBC discusses reconstruction sector-by-sector: Iraq reconstruction: Oil.

[Operation kickback?:] In Washington, congressional initiatives that would have sent a strong anti-corruption signal to contractors in Iraq were derailed by the House Republican leadership and the White House. These included amendments to the Iraq appropriations bill last fall that would have criminalized war profiteering and required ongoing audits by the General Accounting Office of contracts over $25 million. "The fact [those measures] were made and defeated signaled, 'We don't agree [this] oversight is necessary,'" says Jeffrey Jones, former head of the Defense Energy Support Center, in charge of purchasing fuel for the Pentagon. Jones watched as gasoline bills doubled when part of his job was outsourced to Halliburton. "So, it's laissez faire. That's the message that was sent."

Support Our Troops? Nicole Goodwin returned from the fighting in Iraq, to roam the streets of Brooklyn with her one-year old daughter, looking for a home: Home From Iraq, and Without a Home.

The "New Iraq" looks increasingly like the old, as US enlists top Baathist Officers to run the army. Presumably, their well-skilled at suppressing the population: U.S. Details Easing of Ban on Former Baath Party Members. Meanwhile, the "Governing Council" fights against their planned abolishment June 30th. All the sudden, they discover the value of talking to [some of] the people they govern: Governing body invites Iraqis to consultations. See also Juan Cole's commentary on the political maneuvering: Is Chalabi Out? Brahimi Plan advances, Baathists Rehabilitated.

[U.S. Details:] Mr. Chalabi [the potential big loser from the policy change] denounced the move to rehabilitate some Baathists. "This is like allowing Nazis into the German government immediately after World War II."
[Is Chalabi Out?:] The current IGC is a mixture of warlords with militias, corrupt expatriate politicians, and token independents. When asked to appoint a cabinet full of ministers to run the bureaucracies last summer, they typically put in relatives or cronies

Humor Ahead! Rumsfeld praises a free press, but denounces those stupid enough as to report what is happening in Iraq: Rumsfeld Praises Role of Free Press in U.S., Iraq, Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Sing sign, both of the chaos seeping Iraq and the lack of information that we will soon face, the BBC is joining those news organizations and independent reporters pulling out: BBC cuts back Iraq staff.

Freedom? The New York Times reports that the Iraqi mood is becoming even more anti-American: Mood in Iraq sours further against Americans. Perhaps this has something to do with it: US Soldiers Puzzled by Iraqi Resistance to Censorship.

Mark LeVinne discusses the extent and nature of the chaos sweeping Iraq today: Whose Chaos Is This Anyway?

Must Read! US makes clear that "sovereignty", in their view, means complete puppet status: White House Says Iraq Sovereignty Could Be Limited. No control over the military running around the country, no ability to revise US-imposed laws. What will they have, other than the ability to become targets of Iraqi anger? How about the ability to sign long-term contracts with US corporations? I bet they'll have that power!

The Bush administration's plans for a new caretaker government in Iraq would place severe limits on its sovereignty, including only partial command over its armed forces and no authority to enact new laws....
Asked whether the new Iraqi government would have a chance to approve military operations led by American commanders, who would be in charge of both foreign and Iraqi forces, a senior official said Americans would have the final say.

Imperial Self-centeredness? Don't the Iraqis have anything else to worry about than Bush's reelection? Presumably Tommy Franks doesn't: Retired U.S. General: Iraq Violence May Be Tied To U.S. Elections: Tommy Franks Expects Insurgent Attacks To Escalate.

The US is loosing its campaign to hide GI deaths from the public: Ban lifted on photos of dead soldiers' return [Media Gueadian] or Released pictures can be seen on the front pages of many newspapers today, on network news, and at: The Memory Hole: www.thememoryhole.org/war/coffin_photos/dover/. Pentagon Ban on Pictures of Dead Troops Is Broken [NYT]. But they haven't accepted defeat yet: Woman Loses Her Job Over Coffins Photo and Pentagon fury at war dead photos.

As the country focuses on the lone American hostage, its important to remember the 20,000 Iraqis detained without charges and no control over their destiny, and to remember the barbaric conditions to which they are subjected: One US Hostage – and 20,000 Iraqi Hostages .

Some of today's accounts from Iraq. Jo Wilding writes of some of the Falluja refugees she's met: Meeting some of the refugees who have fled Falluja. and Raed Jarrar sums up the occupation so far: "Bad bad bad… and getting worse." Thursday, April 22, 2004.

Juan Cole testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week with Perle. Here are Cole's reflections: Perle at the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

[W]hat struck me was the contradiction between Perle's insistence that the US should have handed power over to Iraqis months ago, and his simultaneous opposition to free and fair elections. The only conclusion I can draw is that he wants power handed to Chalabi, who would then be a kind of dictator and would not go to the polls any time soon....
Anyway, Perle was just a one-note Johnny, with his whole message being "We must give away Iraq to Ahmad Chalabi yesterday! That will solve all the problems."
If the Bush administration listens to Perle and puts Chalabi in as a soft dictator, it will be the final nail in the coffin of the Iraq enterprise. The whole thing is already going very badly wrong. Chalabi will play iceberg to the Iraq/Bush Titanic.

Muslim nations offer troops as part of a UN-led force. Will this pressure the US to really transfer control? Muslim nations ponder Iraq force. But the UN may not be willing or able to clean up the mess: U.N. Might Not Be Washington's Savior in Iraq.

This fascinating piece by Aaron Glantz argues that the Sadr forces are engaging in the democracy that the CPA only talks about: Iraq: Sadr Attacks U.S. with Democracy -- U.S. administrators find this hard to believe, but it could be that Sadr is teaching them a lesson or two on democracy in Iraq. For another perspective on the Sadr movement, see: Family Follows Shiite Cleric into Holy Battle for Iraq.

US reverses course: U.S. preparing to hire Iraqi Baathists; Bremer proposes policy shifts.

Western civilians targeted: Spanish civilian shot dead in Baghdad and French journalist reportedly killed in Baghdad. More pulling out: Norway to Pull Troops out of Iraq at the End of June and 13 Bulgarian soldiers leave Iraq. More firms are pulling out too, at least temporarily: GE, Siemens halting Iraq operations.

Juan Cole has received a letter from an Iraqi claiming that the family of the cleric al-Sadr is alleged to have killed denies he had anything to do with it and blames pro-Saddam forces. It also says that in any case, they don't want to press charges. If true, why have the Americans thrown the country into chaos to arrest him? Has the al-Khoei Family Intervened on Muqtada's Behalf?.

An American Marine “ashamed” of Iraq experience.

An Iraqi journalist for the US-sponsored station told of how US troops killed his colleagues. Two other Iraqi journalists were killed by the US this month. Overall, 26 journalists and media workers have been killed in Iraq since the war began! Wounded Iraqi journalist says U.S. troops and Kurdish militiamen killed his colleagues. Meanwhile, the US has waged a systematic campaign against al-Jazeera for the crime of accurate reporting: Reality television: Al-Jazeera has a track record of accurate reporting - which is why its journalists have been criminalised and its offices bombed.

It was announced over the weekend that the two main highways into Baghdad were closed to civilian traffic indefinitely. But insurgent control many of the other roads across the country. Further signs of how widespread the insurgency is: In major sections of Iraq, insurgents rule the roads.

The new Chalabi dynasty is to be in charge of trying the old Saddam dynasty: Revealed: man in charge of trying Saddam. See also: Iraqis distrust Saddam tribunal.

Reconstruction may be on hold, but "security" is definitely a growth industry. Reports are that 25% of all reconstruction costs now go for security. That'll be around $5 billion! Security Companies: Shadow Soldiers in Iraq. Does "sovereignty" mean theses mercenaries can be prosecuted by the Iraqi government if they go killing people. It doesn't look like it.

Draft on the way, if Republican Senator Chuck Hagel has his way: Senator says US may need compulsory service to boost Iraq force.

Coalition of the Fleeing! Following the Spanish lead, Honduras is pulling out: Honduras Follows Spain, Pulls Out of Iraq followed, in turn, by Poland: Poland planning pull-out of troops from Iraq. Thailand says it will pull its troops out if they are attacked: Thailand will withdraw its troops from Iraq if attacked. There are other reports that Domincan troops are also leaving: Dominican Republic, Honduras Withdrawing Iraq Troops. Albania, however, is ready to send more troops to supplement the 71 it currently has in Iraq.

A CPA memo written in March shows that many US insiders know things are a mess. This before the recent uprising: Fables of the Reconstruction: A Coalition memo reveals that even true believers see the seeds of civil war in the occupation of Iraq.

Watch and hear Robert Fisk discuss the current situation: Iraq power handover 'a fraud'. [transcript also available there.]

Another Father Of Fallen Soldier Says Bush Lied. The father was a Vietnam veteran.

Japan supports its citizens! Gov't wants three ex-hostages to pay Y660,000 for plane.

In the new climate, many Iraqis are taking to regarding all foreigners as the "enemy": Carnage dims hopes for political way: Amid U.S. military action, Iraqis increasingly loathe presence of foreigners But, like the CPA, Bechtel tries to pretend that nothing is going on: Bechtel Says Iraq Work on Track.

Dahr Jamail provides an account of the kidnapping of five Westerners and a Palestinian Iraqi last week. All were released safely. Among the group was Jo Wilding, an account of whose detention has already appeared here: Insurgents Detain and Release Humanitarian Activists Near Fallujah. In another dispatch, Jamail reports doctors claims that the US is using cluster bombs against insurgents in urban areas, and used dum-dum bullets in Falluja. Baghdad Doctors Reporting Cluster Bombs in Falluja, Harrassment of Patients by Troops.

The word on the street in Baghdad is that the the cessation of suicide car bombings is proof that the CIA was behind them. Why? Because as one man states, "[CIA agents are] too busy fighting now, and the unrest they wanted to cause by the bombings is now upon them." True or not, it certainly doesn't bode well for the occupiers' image in Iraq....
[:] The doctor at Al-Karam Hospital stated, "The Americans don't care what happens to Iraqis...."
He continued, "My doctors in Falluja have reported to me that the Americans are using cluster bombs. Patients we've treated from there are reporting the same...." This same doctor reported that he saw American soldiers killing women and children, as well as shooting ambulances in Falluja.

In a sign of the progress being made pacifying Iraq, two of the bravest groups of independent NGOs are pulling out, the Christian Peacemaker Teams [ CPT delegation and team leave Baghdad as advised by Iraqi colleagues] and the American Friends Service Committee [ Quakers evacuate Baghdad as security deteriorates].

Bush attacks democracy in Spain, as he does in every country where the government pays any attention to the wishes of the people". Meanwhile, bush shows his disdain for democracy by appointing terrorist supporter (as in Nicaraguan Contra terrorists who killed tens of thousands of civilians, with US training and aid) John Negroponte to direct US suppression of democracy in Iraq as the new US Ambassador to Iraq: Bush Criticizes Spain PM on Iraq Pullout. Honduras is considering following the lead of the Spaniards, with others possibly following: Honduras Considering Troop Pullout from Iraq.

The US kills reporters from the US-funded and controlled Al-Iraqiya TV station: US troops shoot TV channel staff. Of course, this will aid the US campaign to end all independent reporting from Iraq, as they "encourage" reporters to embed with military units and report only what they are told: Reporters in Iraq Join U.S. Military Units as Risk to Civilians Rises.

Must Read! A new report helps us understand the depth of opposition to occupation among the Shia poor who form the base of Sadr's support. The British charity Christian Aid reports that Life 'worse' for many of Iraq's poor, survey reveals. As usual, reconstruction has aided the Iraqi rich and "middle class" as well as multinational corporations, while passing the poor by. Not being fools, they probably guess that the "progress" always being talked about isn't meant for them.

In a potentially dangerous move, an officer from the Kurdish Peshmerga has been named the top general in the new Iraqi army. Remember, soldiers from the Peshmerga have been fighting alongside the Americans against Falluja. Is this why he was chosen? Kurdish peshmerga commander named top Iraq general.

Rahul Mahajan of Empire Notes writes of CPA closings of the main hospitals in Falluja and Najaf for over a week. Further, the Minister of Heath has confirmed that the US troops fired on ambulances in Falluja:-. Rahul promises a more polished piece when he can confirm all the information: April 18, 1:35 PM EST. HERE IS THE FINAL PIECE: Report from Baghdad -- Hospital Closings and U.S. War Crimes. Dahr Jamail, in his latest dispatche, confirms much of the story: Iraqi Health Minister Presses Authorities to explain U.S. Targeting of Falluja Ambulances.

Now the US wants the UN to come to its rescue, but the UN says "wait a minute!": Recast in Key Iraq Role, U.N. Envoys Are Wary.

The AP writes of new leadership, independent of occupation authorities, arising in Iraq: Iraq Leaders With Fewer U.S. Ties Emerge. The Washington Post makes a similar point in this analysis of the post-uprising Iraq. As they point out, virtually all "reconstruction" has stopped as westerners don't dare leave their hotels and Iraqis don't dare work for them. Another particularly sobering point, which has so far received little attention, is the growing animosity between Kurds and Arabs as Kurdish militias fight against the insurgents and alongside the Americans. This does not bode well for a future united Iraq, which may suit the Kurds just fine: Revolts in Iraq Deepen Crisis In Occupation.

Belonging to the "Iraqi military" leads straight to detention by the US: US holding 200 Iraqi 'mutineers. Newsweek provides further details on the soldiers' refusal to fight, and their humiliation by the Americans. Presumably this will create more resistance fighters among those thus humiliated: Mutiny in the Ranks: Neophyte Iraqi soldiers refused to follow U.S. orders only to find themselves stripped of their jobs—and their uniforms. Other troops are unhappy: Iraqi forces fighting beside Marines angry at being outgunned and having to kill fellow Iraqis.

[US holding:] "They told us to attack the city and we were astonished. How could an Iraqi fight an Iraqi like this? This meant that nothing had changed from the Saddam Hussein days. We refused en masse," said Ali al-Shamari.
After the brigade refused to fight, he said, soldiers were stripped of their badges and confined to tents in a US base on the outskirts of Fallujah. Their rations were restricted to one meal per day. "I escaped, but around 200 of our comrades remain there. We demand their release," Shamari said.

Jo Wilding provides another account of life inside Falluja: 'Getting aid past US snipers is impossible'.

There is this terrible sadness in Falluja but also a strong community feeling. People are making every effort to help evacuate others, to distribute food, to negotiate for a ceasefire. There is a huge number of unqualified volunteers at the clinic....
We negotiated so that one male driver was allowed per car through the checkpoint. But people fear that once a large proportion of women and children leave, the Americans will destroy the city.

the Scotsman reports: Even from their jail cells, the Iraqis tell of their love for Sadr.

Yet again, Tom Engelhardt sums up the dire situation in Iraq, and ask "What if they gave a war and everyone left?" Dreaming of George.

As GIs return, we'll hear more of the realities of this war: “I saw the destroyed villages, I saw lives destroyed by what happened there and by what people did”: U.S.M.C. Lance Corporal Mike Hoffman participated in the invasion stage of the Iraq war and is now a member of Philadelphia Veterans for Peace. He spoke to Traveling Soldier’s Tom Barton at the March 20th rally in Fayetteville, N.C. at Fort Bragg, home of the 82nd Airborne..

While we were still in Camp Lejeune our first sergeant, who is the highest enlisted member of our unit, came up in front of the battery – it was just enlisted, all the officers had gone away. And he told us what his view of the war was. He says “we’re not going there because of weapons of mass destruction, we’re not going there to get rid of Saddam Hussein or install democracy, we’re going there for one reason alone, and that’s oil.” But, after that, he went on to tell us that we also would go not simply because we were told to but it was because our friends were going over there and we had an obligation to them to make sure that everyone came home in one piece.

The US seems to like the UN's fake "sovereignty" plan, even though the UN would get to choose the caretaker government. Its amazing what fear (of loosing re-election) can do: US warms to UN plan for Iraq.

The American administrator, Paul Bremer, will disappear, but the troops will stay and US commanders will control not only them but the soldiers of the new Iraqi army.
Washington will be in charge of the bulk of the aid money, and has put laws in place to ensure that its economic and other interests are protected.

Two released Japanese hostages want to stay and continue their work in Iraq, infuriating the government: New Controversy Brews Over Freed Japan Hostages.

British activist Jo Wilding was briefly kidnapped in Falluja, then released: Jo's Fallujah Kidnap Drama. After release she "described her armed captors as `very sweet'"

Must Read! The best piece I've seen so far on the unwillingness of the Iraqi police and civil defense forces to fight against their fellow Iraqis under US command: U.S.-trained Iraqi forces failed to support U.S. troops.

In Ramadi, U.S. troops gave two-way radios to Iraqi forces, not for communications, as they claimed, but so they'd know when their allies were phoning Marine positions to the enemy....
In Ramadi, a Knight Ridder photographer with U.S. troops witnessed Iraqi police and soldiers among those who twice ambushed a Marine company, which killed 14 Marines in one week. In the second ambush, some of the Iraqi soldiers - officially there to help the Marines maintain peace - were wearing old U.S. Marine uniforms and body armor.

This AP article illustrates the dehumanization that occurs to all in war. Remember, these guys will come home some day: Marines in Fallujah trade 'culturally sensitive' training for bullets. Meanwhile: Pentagon to delay 21,000 soldiers' return home: Iraq tours to be extended past the one-year mark .

[Marines in Fallujah:] "I don't even think about those people as people," he says....
"If someone came and did this to our neighborhood I'd be pissed too," said Capt. Don Maraska, of Moscow, Idaho, a 37-year-old who guides airstrikes on enemy targets in the town. "I've never had people look at me the ways these people look at me. I don't know what came before, but at this point, what else can we possibly do but fight?"

In a sign of how grave the situation is, Washington "analysts" are openly contemplating US "failure" in its Iraqi imperial mission: Growing worry in D.C. -- What if U.S. fails in Iraq? ANALYSIS: 'We need a Plan B, and I'm not sure we yet have a Plan B,' says one expert .

The UN envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, calls for abolishing the "Governing Council" and appointing a new "respected" caretaker government to take the country to elections: Envoy urges Governing Council's end. Of course, the US would retain total military control, giving them an absolute veto over anything they object to.

Brahimi wants the ministers, the president and two vice presidents to be chosen by the United Nations, in consultation with the U.S. occupation authority, the Governing Council and other institutions, his spokesman, Ahmed Fawzi, said in an interview....
But despite a pledge to engage in broad consultations with Iraqis, Brahimi's proposal would effectively allow people here less participation in the choice of the interim government than they would have had under an American initiative to hold caucuses in each of Iraq's 18 provinces -- a plan that was rejected by the country's top Shiite cleric for being insufficiently representative. It is not known how the cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, feels about Brahimi's proposal.

A giant awakes: Nationalism grows in Iraq: Baghdad Shiites bridge their historical divide with Sunnis in the wake of the US siege of Fallujah.

Riverbend comments on the Western reporting on the war in general, and the massacres in Falluja in particular. She also meditates on the meaning of being "anti-American". Just to observe the change in her writing in the last few weeks is to realize why the US occupation will end, either soon, or later, with thousands more dead. But it will end: Media and Falloojeh....

Why does American identify itself with its military and government? Why is does being anti-Bush and anti-occupation have to mean that a person is anti-American? We watch American movies, listen to everything from Britney Spears to Nirvana and refer to every single brown, fizzy drink as "Pepsi".
I hate American foreign policy and its constant meddling in the region... I hate American tanks in Baghdad and American soldiers on our streets and in our homes on occasion... why does that mean that I hate America and Americans? Are tanks, troops and violence the only face of America? If the Pentagon, Department of Defense and Condi are "America", then yes- I hate America.

Rahul Mahajan continues his independent reporting (at great risk), to let the world get a glimpse of occupation. See his web blog: Empire Notes, which contains a: picture of a Falluja ambulance showing the single bullet hole from a sniper, aimed at the driver. Common Dreams has also reprinted his recent account of the US winning hearts and minds by brutally raiding a Baghdad mosque: This is What Occupation Looks Like: Destruction of Relief Supplies and Rampage at the Aadhamiyah Mosque. Another independent voice is that of Dahr Jamail, and Alaska reporter in Iraq. See his reports on: Iraq Dispatches: Correspondent Dahr Jamail reports from Baghdad. His most recent report is another report on the "search" of the mosque: Winning Hearts and Minds.

Winning Hearts:] Mr. Alber angrily raised his voice and told me, "I speak good English. I pleaded with the Americans to let us open all the doors for them so they wouldn't further damage our mosque. I was afraid of what this would cause in the people if they found out. But the Iraqi translator they had yelled at me, 'Silence! Shut your mouth!'"
Mr. Alber had on a previous occasion talked with General Rabin, who is in charge of the American base in the area. He asked the general if he could explain the delicate situation of the mosques to him, so they would cease inflaming the people of the area by their blatant disregard for the traditions of their religion. The general told him to keep his mouth shut.

Aljazeera reports that an Italian hostage has been killed. Another boundary is crossed in the brutalizing of Iraq: Italian hostage killed - Aljazeera TV. Here is ana analysis of the reverberations of the taking of the Japanese hostages in Japan: Iraq hostage crisis signals turning point for Japan. This NYT article gives a picture of the US workers who go to Iraq in search of the kind of money they can't get at home, only to discover the world they've entered, and the firms making plenty of money off of them: U.S. Workers, Lured by Money and Idealism, Face Iraqi Reality.

US pressure and fears have eroded the ability of the press to independently report events in Iraq. The US may not be unhappy: US Military 'Pressuring' Journalists.

Even before the present upsurge, the conflict was keeping out many of the NGOs who are helping the most needy. This process will only accelerate now, threatening a humanitarian catastrophe for Iraq's poor: Iraq Violence Hurting the Needy.

Freedom? An Iraqi was beaten to death by US troops for refusing to take down a poster of Sadr: Iraqi 'beaten to death' by US troops. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch has called for an investigation of US actions in Falluja: Human Rights Watch: Probe Needed Into US Action in Falluja.

Must Read! This story is perhaps the most important for understanding the middle-term future of Iraq and the US occupation. The US strategy has been to reduce US casualties, and the number of troops needed, by 1) a massive use of mercenaries (18,000 at last count; and 2) the transfer of policing and most civilian control to Iraqi forces to be trained and under the command of Americans. Robert Fisk has reported that at least 80 mercenaries have died, which, combined with the brutal killings in Falluja a couple weeks ago and the wave of kidnappings, will make recruitment and retention of mercenaries more difficult. In the current uprising, the US has discovered that the police and Iraqi army and civil defense forces cannot be counted on to fight against Iraqis and for the occupiers: Baghdad police refuse to fight coalition enemies. What this will mean is that US troops will be needed much more for the control of urban areas. This, just as these areas are becoming hotbeds of insurrection. There are two implications: 1) considerably more US troops will be needed for the foreseeable future to control Iraqi cities; and 2) there will continue to be high US casualty rates for a long time, as the US cannot rule the entire country from inside the Green Zone and tanks. Of course, heavy-handed US tactics will continue to arouse opposition and create more unified Iraqi nationalist forces. This, of course, is a disaster for the President's reelection campaign, as well as for the inhabitants of Iraq's urban areas, and for the soldiers who will increasingly have to fight in dangerous, unfamiliar, and uncontrollable territory.

Meanwhile, more foreigners are leaving: French and German citizens advised to leave Iraq ; Russia plans to evacuate hundreds of workers; and Japan is advising citizens to leave: Iraq hostages: Frenchman released. These withdrawals, are, of course, enormous blows to US (and Iraqi) reconstruction hopes. As these efforts stagnate, Iraqis will cease to believe that things can/will get better, which will in turn lead to greater unrest.

The US supply network is being disrupted as Halliburton suspends some convoys: Some Iraq convoys halted after attack: Shortfall in troop supplies feared.

The leading candidate for US Ambassador to Iraq (aka: Dictator) is that infamous liar and contra terrorist supporter, John D. Negroponte. If you think things are bad there now... Negroponte May Become Baghdad Ambassador. See also: Negroponte, a Torturer's Friend.

US casualties mount. 83 soldiers have died so far this month and 560 admitted wounded, and the month is less than half over: 83 U.S. Troops Killed in Iraq in April. In addition, Robert Fisk reports that at least 80 mercenaries working for American firms have been killed in the last eight days: Deaths of scores of mercenaries not reported. One of the reasons for privatizing the US military is so that large numbers of casualties will not be reported as "US casualties" in the home press. Another issue, as Fisk points out, is that the existence of 18,000 armed mercenaries leads all foreign workers to be viewed as potential occupation soldiers.

Sistani warned about any US attempt to attack al-Sadr in Najaf or to kill al-Sadr: Sistani’s Strong Response to U.S.. In a somewhat vague statement, Shia clerics negotiating with Sadr said that the coalition "must pay" for the crisis it has caused: Iraqi clerics say coalition 'must pay' for crisis. Also, Juan Cole, a recognized expert on the Shia and other mideast matters, was Interviewed on Fresh Air by Terry Gross. It can be listened to there. al-Sadr has chosen an intermediary to negotiate with the Americans: Rebel Iraqi cleric chooses talks envoy. Highly Recommended!

[Iraqi clerics:] "The current crisis in Iraq has risen to a level that is beyond any political groups, including the Governing Council, and it is now an issue that is between the religious authority and the coalition forces," the statement said.
"Those who have brought on this crisis must pay for what they have done."

[7 PM EDT] In: Fallujah truce frays as one marine and nine Iraqis are reported killed. Also, the US claims Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi is believed to be in Falluja. Given the past record of claims about him, these claims must be taken with a wheelbarrel full of salt. Also, it was reported that the helicopter downed earlier today "did not belong to the US Marine Corps, but to another US government agency." What is the CIA up to there? Al-Jazeera reports that the US broke the cease-fire today with F16 fighter planes: Falluja ceasefire broken.

Must Read! Please pass on! Jo Wilding has gone to Falluja to try and help the wounded and suffering under seige. Among many other incidents, the ambulance she is in was shot upon, giving the lie to all the american claims that the only reason ambulances are being systematically fired upon is that they fetch resistance fighters and equipment. Jo asks that this be passed on to let the world know what is being done to Falluja! April 11 -- Falluja: US snipers in Falluja shoot unarmed man in the back, old woman with white flag, children fleeing their homes and the ambulance that we were going in to fetch a woman in premature labour.. An independent American reporter, Dahr Jamail also reports on his visit to Falluja. among other things, he reports that the americans bombed one hospital and are sniping at anyone going in or out of another: Americans Slaughtering Civilians in Fallujah.

[Americans Slaughtering Civilians:] One victim of American aggression after another was brought into the clinic, nearly all of them women and children.

The development of Iraq suffers an enormous setback as foreign countries and companies pull out: Foreign workers told to quit Iraq while For Iraqis, a growing insecurity: In many of Baghdad's neighborhoods, businesses have closed, schools have shut down.

The puppets revolt!Some even call US actions "genocide"! Iraq Council Demands Immediate Cease-Fire.

Riverbend attempts through passion to convey the horror that is befalling Iraq under merciless American bombardment and attack. You can almost sense the words failing her as she screams for the world to do something to stop this barbarity! One Year Later - April 9, 2004. She also reflects on life a year ago, as the war ended and occupation started: Occupation Day - April 9, 2003.

The Coalition of the Bribed is falling apart: A coalition showing signs of fracture: Insurgents are targeting forces of smaller countries exposing the weaknesses in the Pentagon's plans .

Colin Powell makes it official: "sovereign" Iraqi government to have no power. The US will call the shots: Powell: Iraq Government May Have Limited Sovereignty .

Muslim leaders inside and outside of Iraq are uniting across sectarian lines to demand an end to US brutality. Inside Iraq: Iraqis Insist On Expelling Occupation and: Imam calls for strike to protest against US offensives. Outside Iraq: Scholars Condemn U.S. ‘Genocide’ In Iraq.

[Imam calls for strike:] Dhari called on "our people to go on strike for the coming days: Saturday, Sunday, and if possible Monday - except for governmental institutions providing indispensable services for the people - to show the coalition forces our rejection." He said the Committee of Islamic Clerics has also called for a boycott of "all American and British goods and brands." "This is a religious decree I make clear: It is forbidden to buy American and British goods because their revenues feed the military operations against you and all the Arab and Muslim countries."

More signs that even the US-appointed Iraq Governing Council is opposed to US brutality: Anger Grows On Iraq Governing Council Over Fallujah Siege. A little later -- More IGC members expressing stronger statements after being denied access to Falluja: US-picked Iraqi leaders blast Fallujah offensive.

Jo Wilding describes one of the kidnapped Japanese and describes recent events from the perspective of one actually trying to improve the lives of Iraqis: The kidnappings, the closures, the situation a year after the fall of Baghdad and . Other recent columns of hers deal with and interview with a former resistance leader who worked with the Americans, but is now disillusioned: An interview with Jawdat Al-Obaidi, former member of the Iraqi opposition, on is time in the resistance, the felling of the Saddam statue and how he feels about the situation now; and the Islamic attacks on women's rights and the failure of the CPA to defend them: Threats to suspend women from college if they don't wear veils and the CPA's failure to stand up for women's rights Eliyahu's writing about his trip from Israel to Iraq to take part in the peace prayers on March 20th.

[Threats to suspend women:] Supporters of Moqtada Al-Sadr have threatened Layla, the Organisation for Women’s Freedom in Iraq which she directs and the Workers’ Communist Party which supports the organisation, as well as individual women, other women’s groups and labour organisations. The threats were reported to, and ignored by, the CPA. The recent suspension of the Al-Hawza newspaper came in response to the extension of threats to the Americans.
Meanwhile Sadr’s people say that the Sunni and Shia of Iraq are uniting to fight the Americans. In reality there are both Shia and Sunni fighting the Americans but the united part of the claim is doubtful and those actually fighting are still a minority, though the level of support for them could be much greater. Still there’s always a way of making a disaster expand to fill all available space.

Juan Cole disects the latest US lies that Sadr was targeted because he had a militia, which is illegal. Cole points out that the US flew in Chalabi's militia, and is allied with many other forces with militias. He doesn't even mention the massive Kurdish militias: Militias Forbidden? And US Hypocrisy. Cole also has a Traslation of the Statement of Grand Ayatollah Ali Husaini Sistani on the insurgency and its suppression.

Even the New York Times admits that the US claims are false and the current uprising is a manifestation of broad opposition to the US occupation: Account of Broad Shiite Revolt Contradicts White House Stand.

In cloudy circumstances, Iraq's Interior Minister has resigned: Iraqi interior minister resigns.

Here is a disturbing letter sent by a US contractor in Iraq after the Falluja killings last week: A Letter From Iraq.

Instead of a professional military outfit here we have a bunch of cowboys and vigilantes running wild in the streets. The ugly American has never been so evident.... I'm angry about how we're treating peope here. I know it's not the entire military, in fact it is a very small, select group that believes they are somehow above the law of not ony this land but also the law of the military and those laws we hold dear in ouor own country. If someone were to try to treat our fellow Americans the way some of these people are treating the Iraquis the courts would certainly lock them away.

The Iraqi Jurists Association said the "warrant" for Sadr is illegal, while Iraqi Minister of Justice Abdel-Rahim Al-Shibly says he knows nothing about it. And a member of the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council condemned the use of "unjustified" force against civilians. Even the puppets don't want to be associated with the US offensive: Arrest Warrant For Sadr 'Illegal': Iraqi Judges. Meanwhile, AFP reports: Support grows for firebrand Iraqi Shiite cleric in Baghdad.

[Arrest Warrant:] In another related development, a number of the IGC members voiced outrage over the use of "unjustified" force against Iraqi civilians during the last four days. Member Abdel-Karim Al-Mahmadawy threatened to resign if the U.S. occupation forces did not pull out of areas they are sealing off. "There should be an investigation into force used by occupation forces against unarmed civilians," Mahmadawy said....
Fallujah residents appealed to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and the international community to intervene and end the crippling U.S. blockade.
[Support grows:] Many of Baghdad's Shiite and Sunni Muslims rallied behind embattled firebrand cleric Moqtada Sadr whose banned militia is facing a nationwide assault by US-led coalition forces.

Coalition of the Unwilling! The Coalition of the Willing continues unraveling: Kazakhstan troops to quit Iraq in May, while Norwegian troops to withdraw from Iraq?

A small story of the "progress" being made to build the "new Iraq": In Baghdad juvenile jail, inmates few but most recount beatings.

Omar Moyod, 17, says Iraqi police officers beat him savagely, hung him in painful positions and threatened to rape his mother until he agreed to sign a false confession to murder....
[A] 9-year-old spent two months in the facility after he was brought in for "begging" - in a city filled with child beggars. Another child spent a month incarcerated for "loitering." One child's crime is listed as "homosexual."

Robert Fisk reports: Saddam moved to US base in Qatar.

A civilian contractor describes why he left Iraq: Contractor tells why he left Iraq.

There became a direct correlation between "bad decisions" by the CPA and increases in terrorist activities, Kuhaida said.

In an extremely rare investigation of US abuses: Commander Punished as Army Probes Detainee Treatment. The officer who received a "reprimand" is the infamous Lt. Col. Nate Sassaman: Winning Hearts and Minds and Tough New Tactics by U.S. Tighten Grip on Iraq Towns. So the army had ample warning that this guy was vicious.

"With a heavy dose of fear and violence, and a lot of money for projects, I think we can convince these people that we are here to help them."

Shia religious leaders call for restraint on all sides, while avoiding direct criticism of Sadr: Religious leaders' calls for restraint share out the blame.

What horrors await? US,Iraqis Poised To Attack Fallujah Insurgents.

Only the best (human rights violators) for Iraq: Guantanamo Commander Sent to Iraq. See the commentary by Tom Engelhardt: Into the shadows.

[Guantanamo Commander:] The Army general in charge of the prisoner operation at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been reassigned to oversee prisoner detention operations in Iraq.
[Into the shadows:] In Guantanamo, Cuba, and in occupied Iraq, in other words, we now have two black holes of injustice; and once you have two of anything that needs to be managed, you can always imagine one of them as more important than the other and you immediately have a career ladder.

Juan Cole explains why Sadr made his move now: Arrest Warrant for Muqtada al-Sadr. Meanwhile, Sadr has rejected calls from other Shia clerics to renounce violence: Cleric: Iraq's Sadr Turns Down Elders' Peace Appeal.

When the occupied say "Get out!", the occupier sends more troops: More U.S. troops headed to Iraq? Planners study contingency plans if unrest widens

Riverbend's latest, always insightful comments, posted before the full extent of today's events became clear: Riots, Star Gazing and Cricket Choirs....

Let me make it very clear right now that I am *not* a supporter of Al-Sadr. I do not like clerics who want to turn Iraq into the next Iran or Saudi Arabia or Kuwait… but it makes me really, really angry to see these demonstrations greeted with bullets and tanks by the troops....
Today Bremer also announced the fact that we now have an official 'Ministry of Defense'. The irony of the situation wasn't lost on Iraqis- the head of the occupation announcing a "Ministry of Defense". To defend against what? Occupation? Ha, ha… or maybe it's to secure the borders from unwelcome foreigners carrying guns and riding tanks?

The US press office in Iraq is staffed with Republican party operatives, presumably more concerned about the President's re-election than the truth. Why does the US truth relay their partisan propaganda? Bush Loyalists Pack Iraq Press Office.

``Iraq is in danger of costing George W. Bush his presidency and the CPA's media staff are determined to see that does not happen,'' Robison said. ``I had the impression in dealing with the civilians in the Green Room that they viewed their job as essentially political, promoting what the Coalition Provisional Authority is doing in Iraq as a political arm of the Bush administration,'' he added.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has issued a press release: U.S. Muslims Seek Pentagon Probe of Iraq Photo; Soldier's Sign Says He Killed Boy's Father, Impregnated Sister. See the sign here.

The photo sent to CAIR seems to be of an American soldier standing next to two Iraqi children who are giving the thumbs-up sign. One child holds a hand-lettered sign in English that reads: "Lcpl Boudreaux killed my Dad, th(en) he knocked up my sister!"

The mercenaries in Iraq want to increase their firepower, with who knows what consequences: Bodyguards in Iraq turn to 'massive firepower' after attack

More details on the March 12th destruction of an entire village by Shia militia. An Islamic state appears to already be in existence in southern Iraq. The US/CPA shut their eyes: In a Gypsy Village's Fate, An Image of Iraq's Future: Raid by Cleric's Militia Went Unchallenged, Witnesses Say.

US picks head of "sovereign" Iraqi military, American big>Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus: Petraeus to Get Key Job in Iraq: 101st Airborne Chief to Take Charge of Developing Iraqi Military. The US also picked the Iraqi defense and Intelligence chiefs: US governor in Iraq names interim defence minister.

Petraeus is believed to favor a hard line against insurgents in the Sunni Triangle, north and west of Baghdad. He is said to favor a strategy of flooding especially hostile enclaves, such as Fallujah, with forces and slugging it out, accompanied by a policy of engagement that turns on heavy spending to boost local employment.

Killers 'R U.U.! The US is using Chilean and South African mercenaries, veterans of attempts to suppress the populace in those countries. Their training apparently violates laws in both countries. Mercenaries 'R' U.S.: Private Pentagon contractors are paying soldiers of fortune from Chile and South Africa up to $4,000 per month for stints in Iraq.

Major oil companies and the British Dept. of UK Trade and Investment have decided its too dangerous to go to an Iraqi conference in Basra on how to exploit Iraqi oil: Oil giants boycott Iraq talks.

Troops await opportunity to retaliate: Troops Wait Eagerly to Reenter Fallouja: Marines are determined to 'clean up' the Iraqi city where four Americans were slain.

A California mother travels to Iraq to see her GI son, but also discovers the horrors of occupation: 'Hey, Nick. Your Mom's Here.': Anti-war Alameda Woman's Trip to See Son Serving in Iraq has Surprises for Both .

Yet again, inveterate reporter Robert Fisk investigates US claims and shows they are deliberately manufactured lies designed to cover up American brutality: Families Rage: The murder of a journalist in Iraq.

At first, the Americans announced that they could not have killed the reporter and cameraman. Both were killed with single shots to the head. How was it possible for US troops so far away to have been so accurate in killing two men with single shots to the head? Good point.
Even more disturbing were the words of the major in the Mesbah police station. He told me that, shortly after the incident, American troops had come to the police station and had smashed the back window of the Volvo so that no traces remained of the bullet holes. Horrifically, the brains of Ali al-Amairi still lay on the back seat. But I climbed into the vehicle and counted nine rounds through the vehicle - through the back seats and the front window....
A few days later, the Americans came up with a new version of the killing.... [This one as inconsistent with the facts as the previous one.]
Three more families - good, decent, Iraqi people, educated and believing in the same freedom and democracy that we Westerners believe in - now rage at the American occupation of Iraq.... All gave me tea and assurances of their love of peace and love. And all hate the occupation and the American soldiers.... What more can I say?

The New York Times reports on US mercenaries around the world: Need an Army? Just Pick Up the Phone.

Reuters reports: Anti-American Voices Get Louder Across Iraq.

Rights groups say that in the so-called battle for hearts and minds, the occupying forces are often their own worst enemy. One tank rumbles through Baghdad with "Bloodlust" painted on its barrel. Another says "Kill them all."

Thailand may get out: Thailand considers withdrawing troops from Iraq.

The Finacial Times has published a report that the town of Kawlia was destroyed by militias loyal to Muqtada Sadr for fostering drinking and prostitution: Shia militia demolish 'debauched' Iraqi village.

Hundreds of militiamen from the Mahdi's Army group besieged the town of Kawlia, 10km south of the city of Diwaniya, with mortars and smashed walls with sledgehammers three weeks ago, reducing to rubble the entire village famed for its dancers and prostitutes since the 1920s....
Militiamen say their Diwaniya brigade [of Sadr's militia] alone has between 800 and 1,000 men under arms. Diwaniya residents speak of a reign of terror, and say masked militiamen with Kalashnikovs are staging processions....
The Spanish-led multinational force, assigned to provide security in the area, says it has made one raid on the Sharia court, after receiving orders from its military command, but is reluctant to intervene. "The problem is not the Mahdi's Army, the problem is the terrorists. It's the terrorists who make dangers for the coalition," says Major Carlos Herradon.

For some, the spoils may have to wait. They love making a killing, but... Iraq Trade Fair Postponed as Security Fears Grow.

Supporters of Muslim cleric Muqtada al Sadr staged a huge rally in Baghdad: Militant Shiite cleric's supporters protest in Baghdad.

The huge turnout - estimated at 20,000 - was a disciplined flexing of muscle by the followers of Sheik Muqtada al Sadr and capped six straight days of growing protests against U.S. civilian administrator L. Paul Bremer's order shutting down the paper.

Must Read! As Naomi Klein writes, even the pro-war Pepsi manager in Baghdad hates the Americans and the occupation: Bremer has destroyed my country: Even the pro-US manager of Iraq's Pepsi plant feels betrayed by an occupation which has spawned fear, hatred and chaos. She also details how the US is structuring the situation so as to retain near total control after June 30.

"All the trouble in Iraq is because of Bremer," Khamis told me, flanked by a line-up of 30 Pepsi and 7-Up bottles. "He didn't listen to Iraqis. He doesn't know anything about Iraq. He destroyed the country and tried to rebuild it again, and now we are in chaos...."
Khamis used to be happy to defend his pro-US position, even if it meant arguing with friends. But one year after the invasion... [h]is list of grievances against the occupation is long: corruption in the awarding of reconstruction contracts, the failure to stop the looting; the failure to secure Iraq's borders - both from foreign terrorists and from unregulated foreign imports. Iraqi companies, still suffering from the sanctions and the looting, have been unable to compete....
As the June 30 "handover" approaches, Bremer has unveiled a slew of new tricks to hold on to power long after "sovereignty" has been declared. Some recent highlights. At the end of March, building on his Order 39 of last September, Bremer passed yet another law further opening up Iraq's economy to foreign ownership, a law that Iraq's next government is prohibited from changing under the terms of the interim constitution. Bremer also announced the establishment of several independent regulators, which will drastically reduce the power of Iraqi government ministries. For instance, the Financial Times reports that "officials of the Coalition Provisional Authority said the regulator would prevent communications minister Haider al-Abadi, a thorn in the side of the coalition, from carrying out his threat to cancel licences the coalition awarded to foreign-managed consortia to operate three mobile networks and the national broadcaster."
The CPA has also confirmed that after June 30, the $18.4bn that the US government is spending on reconstruction will be administered by its embassy in Iraq. The money will be spent over five years and will fundamentally redesign Iraq's most basic infrastructure, including its electricity, water, oil and communications sectors, as well as its courts and police. Iraq's future governments will have no say in the construction of these core sectors of Iraqi society....
Bremer has issued an executive order stating that even after the interim Iraqi government has been established, the Iraqi army will answer to US commander Lt General Ricardo Sanchez....
In the same flurry of activity, the CPA announced that it would put further constraints on the Iraqi military by appointing a national security adviser for Iraq. This US appointee would have powers equivalent to those held by Condoleezza Rice and will stay in office for a five-year term, long after Iraq is scheduled to have made the transition to a democratically elected government.

Support Our Troops? Wounded and psychologically damaged soldiers are being sent back to Iraq to fill the need for canon fodder: Broken US troops face bigger enemy at home: A stretched Pentagon is sending unfit soldiers back to Iraq long before they are ready to serve again .

One sergeant major was shipped out two months after neck surgery, despite orders from his military doctor for six months' rest. "The nurse told me to put my hands above my head and said you are good to go," he told the Guardian....
zIn some cases, the wounded were recycled with alarming speed. A mechanic, who suffered brain damage last June when his vehicle was hit by a suicide bus, was sent back to Iraq in October despite reported blurred vision and memory loss. He returned with his unit last month, and medical evaluations showed he had continued bleeding from the original head injury....
Mosley also developed an abiding anger against an institution he served for 31 years, accusing the army of trying to shirk responsibility for his condition now he was surplus to requirements. "I went to Iraq and fought the enemy, not knowing I was going to come back to the United States and fight a bigger enemy," he says.

What now? Calls for revenge as fear hits home to Americans in Iraq.

"Let's just go in and level the town," said one angry American civilian. "Let's tell them to get their women and children out and then go in and level it....
Brig-Gen Mark Kimmitt, the US deputy director of operations in Iraq, said that "operations remain relatively stable". But even inside the Green Zone, he is shadowed by two armed bodyguards.

US rushing to change Iraqi law to protect foreign investors. Then it won't matter who runs the "government": CPA plans Iraq bankrutpcy law to aid investment.

The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) -- headed by U.S. administrator Paul Bremer -- is currently passing up to 100 pieces of legislation ahead of a handover to an Iraqi-led government, timetabled for June 30.... [So much for "sovereignty"]
One expected change will clarify creditors' protection under a new bankruptcy law.... One of the most important amendments to the law is a clarification that secured creditors will rank first in the distribution of assets of a bankrupt company. "One of the goals of the legislation is fostering a more entrepreneurial, risk-friendly culture," said Fitzpatrick.

Professor Carolyn Eisenberg in Newsday analyzes the new Interim Constitution: Sovereignty or 'sovereignty': The recently signed interim constitution is really designed to make sure the upper hand is stamped 'U.S.'.

Yet there is nothing democratic about the process by which the Law of Administration was developed. It was drafted by a small group of American-appointed Iraqi officials, deliberating in secret under CPA direction. The Iraqi people will have no opportunity to ratify it and cannot even enact amendments until a later stage.
Meanwhile, the document legitimates the continued presence of foreign troops in Iraq by saying "the Iraqi Armed Forces will be a principal partner in the multi-national force operating in Iraq under unified command . . ." This is of vital concern to the inhabitants, who were not consulted. Nor are these foreign troops obligated to respect the Fundamental Rights.
Beneath these machinations lies a fundamental dilemma for the Bush administration. While desiring the appearance of democracy for domestic and international purposes, it is afraid to surrender authority. Its problem is that a free Iraq is unlikely to implement the U.S. agenda: a secular state, permanent military bases, American direction of the oil industry, a privatized economy and a foreign policy consonant with Washington's.

Check out the logo for Blackwater Security Consulting, the company that employed the mercenaries killed on Tuesday. Also check out this picture halfway down on this web site. These pictures make clear what the company is up to isn't peaceful. See the analysis by James Ridgeway: U.S. Turns to Mercenaries.

Muslim clerics in Fallujah denounce the mutilation of US bodies, but not necessarily the killings: Iraq cleric vows to denounce mutilation.

New Zealand to pull army engineers out, for a while at least: New Zealand to pull its engineers out of Iraq.

Evidently, the horrific killings in Fallujah were preceded by major killings of civilians by US troops two days earlier: Hotbed of Resistance: An Iraqi Discusses Fallujah Violence. Also, the press reported that they were protecting "the food supply", but, evidently, this was the food supply for the US army, NOT the people of Fallujah.

This incident happened in Fallujah where two days before that, the American army shot many many people, women and children, on the streets, and --- in a bizarre shooting incident that was unjustified, killing many people....
The important -- the thing that I know is in the media says that the contractors were involved in protecting the food supply. This is the food supply for the US Army, not to be confused with providing help to the local population or anything. It's just a routine US convoy that may have food and may have on other occasions, armaments or anything.

What do they have in mind? Obviously, its not winning hearts and minds: U.S. vows overwhelming response to Iraq killings

Marines took positions on the outskirts of the restive town west of Baghdad where the contractors were ambushed by insurgents on Wednesday and then set on by a crowd. "Coalition forces will respond," the U.S. army's deputy director of operations Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt told a news conference on Thursday. "They are coming back and they are going to hunt down the people responsible for this bestial act. "It will be at a time and a place of our choosing. It will be methodical, it will be precise and it will be overwhelming."

Robert Fisk on recent events, and how they conflict with the delusions spewed out by US officials in their isolated Green Zone: Things Are Getting Much Worse. It's Not Just A "Spike" Or An "Uptick" In Violence and Atrocity In Fallujah.

[Things:] What has happened to the Coalition Provisional Authority, also known as the occupying power? Things are getting worse, much worse in Iraq. Yesterday's horrors proved that. Yet just a day earlier, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, America's deputy director of military operations, assured us that there was only an "uptick" in violence in Iraq. Not a sudden wave of violence, mark you, not a down-to-earth increase, not even a "spike" in violence - another of the general's favourite expressions. No, just a teeny-weeny, ever-so small, innocent little "uptick". In fact, he said it was a "slight uptick". Our hands were numb, recording all this, so swiftly did General Kimmitt take us through the little uptick. A marine vehicle blown off the road near Fallujah, a marine killed, a second attack with small-arms fire on the same troops, an attack on an Iraqi paramilitary recruiting station on the 14th July Road, a soldier killed near Ramadi, two Britons hurt in Basra violence, a suicide bombing against the home of the Hillah police chief, an Iraqi shot at a checkpoint, US soldiers wounded in Mosul ... All this was just 17 hours before Fallujah civilians dragged the cremated remains of a Westerner through the streets of their city.

Officially there are only 3,000 or so US wounded in the Iraq debacle, but: Medical evacuations in Iraq war hit 18,000.

Those killed in yesterday's horrifying attack weren't civilians but mercenaries: U.S. Turns to Mercenaries.

Despite common US press claims, this AFP piece asserts that Fallujah was NOT a Saddam stronhold. It also carries anti-US feelings, due to the large number of civilians killed in Gulf War I: Fallujah Horror Points to Rising Anti-American Rage.

The town was deprived under the ousted regime. Fallujah and the rest of Al-Anbar province are ruled by Sunni conservative tribes who have traditionally resisted submission to foreign occupiers or government forces seeking to control the area by force.

Norwegians want out of the Coalition of the Willing: http://www.spacewar.com/2004/040331162339.3vhmvt3l.html A majority of Norwegians want to bring troops home from Iraq: poll.

Washington rumors suggest thatPaul Wolfowitz will become US Ambassador (e.g., dictator) to Iraq: Wolfowitz of Baghdad?.

Protest, Resistance, and Civil War

Occupation Resistance Analysis

[5:30 PM EDT]The transition starts along with confusion as to exactly what has been agreed to: Fallujah gives Iraqi general hero's welcome.

[1 PM EDT] the Falluja situation seems to change by the hour. Now the Marines insist they aren't withdrawing, but will stay around Falluja, only "reposition" themselves. Evidently, there must still be infighting in Baghdad or Washington, so they can't produce a straight story. Meanwhile two more marines killed in a bombing: Marines 'Reposition' Fallujah Forces.

[6:30 AM EDT] At this point, it appears that the Falluja deal and Marine pullback are on: Marines plan Fallujah pullback: Former Iraqi generals offer to build security force. The Pentagon still seems confused, however, and the Marines have been seen bringing tanks into position around Falluja: Confusion in Pentagon as deal is done to bring peace.

[10 PM EDT] The situation around Falluja is still murky. There have been reports of a deal all day, but also Pentagon denials. Seems as if the neocons are opposing a US pullback. In any case, the US is bombing for yet another night. Might as well go out in style! US warplanes bomb Fallujah.

They Shoot Ambulances, Don't They? Lee Gordon describes the seige of Falluja viewed from the perspective of a reporter embedded with the mojahedin: Saving Ali: Where US snipers fire at ambulances.

I volunteered to ride in ambulances evacuating the wounded. Surely they don't shoot ambulances? In fact, US snipers were targeting ambulances. I learned to pick out the beams of sniper rifles. I remember the medics' anger when the hospital's last working ambulance carrying British and American volunteers returned shot to pieces, how stunned they were when American, British and Australian volunteers came under fire after declaring their nationalities to US troops.
Embedding has come at a price: eating, sleeping and being bombed with the mojahedin means sharing more than chicken and rice. It means listening out for helicopters and feeling helpless about injured families trapped behind "enemy" lines. It means sharing the same revulsion as maimed bodies are tipped into hospital beds. But what's the point of trying to report a war from an embedded position in the fortified Hotel Palestine, miles from the frontline?

Down, but definitely not out? Al-Sadr's rebellion nears collapse but his influence is assured.

Confusion in Falluja. There are many accounts of a deal, but others deny it: Pentagon denies deal in Fallujah. In any case, fighting continues in the city: Fighting in Fallujah amid talk of deal. Meanwhile Al-Jazeera reports that US troops fired on a minivan of Fallujans fleeing the city, killing a family of four: Fleeing Fallujans killed as crisis deepens.

[1 PM EDT] More details on the Falluja deal, though the US announced the deal with bombs: New skirmishes break out in Fallujah despite deal for end of siege and. US planes hit Falluja after pullback deal. Meanwhile, here is a background piece on the Falluja district, the Golan [or Jolan], where the resistance is strongest: Fallujah's fortress -- U.S.: Golan slum is heart of city's resistance. The streets are too narrow there for tanks and heavy armor.

Another bloody day for GIs: Ten U.S. troops killed in Iraq.

[7 AM EDT] At last? There is a report that the US has agreed to withdraw from around Falluja! It remains to be seen if it will actually be implemented: Fighting flares in Fallujah as report emerges of agreement to end siege. There are reports of marines packing up to pull back. On the other hand, the US seems to be preparing for HEAVY fighting: US deploys heavy armour in Iraq. Elsewhere: US soldier killed in blast.

[Fighting flares:] One resident, Hassan al-Maadhidi, returned to Fallujah after fleeing earlier fighting and was distraught Thursday when he saw the destruction from fighting over the past three days. ``I returned yesterday to see houses destroyed, streets empty and shops bombarded,'' al-Maadhidi said, adding that he may flee the city again.

[10:30 PM EDT] Evidently, despite American claims, the US is subjecting Falluja to major bombardment, reportedly with major civilian casualties: Fighting flares in new parts of Fallujah, pressure grows for political solution.

Witnesses reported at least 25 buildings wrecked by fighting. Hospitals only counted 10 wounded Iraqis, but ambulances could not reach areas where fighting was going on, and residents reported large numbers of dead and wounded.

Support Our Troops? Nesweek claims that 20% of dead troops would have lived if there had been the proper armor: Lack Of Armor Claims Troops and more troops are suffering severe head injuries, with long-term repercussions for the soldiers: More troops suffering severe head wounds: Injuries prove devastating for doctors, too. But as democrats, and some generals, clamor for more troops, they may be hard to find: Army Finds Troop Supply'Getting Thin'.

[6 PM EDT] More punishing attacks Wednesday night against Falluja, as President Bush vows the rebels will be subdued, no matter what: Fresh US air raids on Iraqi city. Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan calls for restraint: Annan: Violence Feeds Resistance in Iraq -- U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan Warns That Violent Military Action in Iraq Is Feeding Resistance.

[Anan:] "Violent military action by an occupying power against inhabitants of an occupied country will only make matters worse," he said. "It's definitely time, time now for those who prefer restraint and dialogue to make their voices heard."

In Mosul: Five police killed in Iraq attack.

[12:30 PM EDT] Yet another attack on Falluja. Obviously, we should expect MANY more of these in the days to come: US renews assault on Iraqi city. Meanwhile, acording to this report, Falluja residents report surprise at US attacks as they claim no one has fired on American troops in two days. They reiterate claims that US snipers were "shooting at anything that moved": Iraqis Flee Fallujah Carnage, U.S. Troops Set to Storm.

Wednesday: Three Coalition Soldiers Die in Iraq, two from previous injuries.

[9 AM EDT] The new US strategy in the south: Troops setting up checkpoints to accomplish: Coalition aim to cut off Najaf, Kufa.

[8 AM EDT] Americans on attack, again. There seems to be a stepped-up strategy of wearing the resistance down through overwhelming air power, were they have no opportunity to fight back: New Fighting in Iraqi Town of Falluja, Witnesses Say. Here is a slightly more detailed filled with the usual US lies about only firing when fired upon. These lies have been conclusively undermined by a number of independent observers who were fired upon by US troops, in ambulances trying to help women in labor, or with hands in the air in the middle of the street. Also, the US press reports, as a "human interest" story about the exciting lives of US snipers, who are authorized to shoot anything they "think might" be an insurgent, that is, anyone they want: Jets Pound Southwestern Fallujah in Response to Attacks.

The military's top spokesman, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, said Tuesday that it could take six to eight weeks before U.S. and allied forces take full control of Fallujah.

Muslim journalist visit the insurgents in Falluja: 3 journalists get a close look at Fallujah insurgency's face.

The Christian Science Monitor reports signs of much greater coordination in the Iraqi resistance as it becomes a full-fledged nationalist resistance. Of course, the solution to fighting this full-fledged resistance is more troops, not letting Iraqis have their country back: Insurgents in Iraq show signs of acting as a network: They appear to be carrying out coordinated raids and finding ways to recruit new fighters.

The latest from independent journalist Dahr Jamail in Iraq. IslamOnline had a Live Dialogue with Jamail yesterday. And his latest dispatch: Interview with a Mujahedeen, Observations from a Political Scientist.

Must Read! The US is continuing its campaign to goad insurgents into breaking the Falluja ceasefire so it can locate and destroy them: The Fight for Fallujah: U.S. Military Goes After Insurgents, But Tries to Spare Civilians. Of course no mainstream source has commented on this unrelenting campaign to provoke attacks, thus breaking the ceasefire. Hardly the actions of someone seeking a peaceful resolution of the situation! This report also makes clear that an organized campaign to destroy the resistance is underway, through smaller attacks and attrition.

A senior military official told ABCNEWS before the bombing started that the military would "soon" begin a "low-key campaign to reduce the opposition." The official said the plan was for "night operations" using position-guided munitions, AC-130 gunships and snipers....
"One of the messages earlier was calling on the insurgents to come out and fight and then there was a tape recording of laughing...."
[The same article reports this claim that is obviously in contradiction with what the article already reports about US strategy] "Our forces are trying to balance efforts to solve these situation peacefully by working at the same time not tolerating violence against the coalition or against innocent Iraqis," said Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Jon Lee Anderson reports for the New Yorker on: The Uprising: Shia and Sunni Put Aside Their Differences.

The US attacks on Falluja Tuesday night were especially fierce and seem to be part of a new US strategy to kill as many Fallujans as possible, without risking a frontal assault: U.S. Warplanes Hit Insurgents in Fallujah. Juan Cole analyzes the bombing campaign in Falluja using AC-130s and declares this bombing a violation of the Geneva Convention, hence a war crime: AC-130s at Fallujah and Najaf (64 Sadrists Killed. US snipers given license to kill with impunity: U.S. Marines increasingly targeting enemy fighters with snipers. They're having trouble finding space to bury all the bodies the marines are delighting in killing: In Falluja, Finding a Place for the Dead. In support of life, Jo Wilding has further interviews with Falluja refugees: More on the refugees from Falluja.

[U.S. Marines:] Refugees fleeing Fallujah complained that the sharpshooters target civilians. While an infantryman is under orders to fire only if a person is leveling a weapon, sharpshooters may fire at people whose behavior suggests they are part of the insurgency. [In other words, at anyone, as numerous witnesses have reported.]

[4 PM EDT] Massive US attack on Falluja underway Tuesday night: U.S. takes offensive in Fallujah.

Earlier in the day, U.S. aircraft dropped white leaflets over the city west of Baghdad, calling on insurgents to surrender. "Surrender, you are surrounded," the leaflets said. "If you are a terrorist, beware, because your last day was yesterday. In order to spare your life end your actions and surrender to coalition forces now. We are coming to arrest you."

As reported earlier, the US claims to have killed 43 of Sadr's militiamen in fighting around Najaf. But Al-Jazeera reports that hospital sources reported that of the 28 seriously wounded brought in, militiamen only six appeared to be fighters. Were many civilians among the dead and wounded? US kills tens of Iraqis on Najaf's doorstep. They further report that the hospital does not have adequate supplies to treat the wounded. Elsewhere, tere was renewed fighting in Baghdad's Sadr city today: U-S soldier killed in Baghdad attack. The New York Times has photographs of recent conflict scenes in Iraq.

[7 AM EDT] Major fighting near Najaf, with significant Iraqi casualties: Fighting in holy city of Najaf kills 43. Perhaps connected: Spanish Troops Leave Najaf : Radio. See the comment by Juan Cole: More Violence in Iraq.

US demands unconditional surrender or massacre: U.S. Threatens Falluja, Najaf After New Battles.

"We certainly hope that there is an epiphany on the part of the belligerents in Falluja tonight to recognize there are two tracks," Kimmitt said. "There is...a peaceful settlement or there is a settlement achieved by force of arms. Their choice." [Why doesn't the US choose the path of peace?]

At last someone, Dahr Jamail, comments on the US demand that the resistance fighters unilaterally disarm, so that they are helpless against an occupying force that has repeatedly shown its willingness to kill hundreds of civilians. Collective Punishment in Falluja.

[4:30 PM EDT] Three US soldiers died monday, two in Baghdad and one in Falluja, Along with a number of Iraqis: US soldier, eight insurgents killed in Fallujah. A British charity raises concerns about the treatment of civilians in Falluja, and says the Geneva Convention is being breached there: Stop civilian deaths in Iraq. See also: Geneva convention 'breached', agencies warn. In the south: US troops, Shi'ite militia clash; and Explosions rock Najaf accompanied a new ultimatum from Bremer.

Iraqis warn US about entering Falluja, while more accounts come out of US brutality towards civilians there:

"We thought we would be safe in Na'amiya," said Mr Abbas. "We were sleeping outside on the ground when the planes and helicopters came. It was 2am. My son wanted to become a surgeon, but now that can never be. They even prevented us evacuating the wounded. It was hours before we could get Othman out." The only words his son had spoken since he was so badly injured, he said, were "I hate the Americans". As Othman stared blankly at the ceiling, his father said he wanted the Americans to pay for what they had done.
With the expertise of the insurgents improving all the time and the defiance in Fallujah acting as an inspiration nationally, [US] commanders believe that only an American victory in the city can break the will of their enemies.... [Do these guys know nothing about symbolism?]
At the checkpoint outside the hospital an American military policeman shrugged when asked about the dead and injured of Na'amiya. "We received some mortar and small arms fire from there and so we said, 'to hell with it' and just went in. "We were supposed to wait until today, but we got pissed off and decided to draw a line. We pretty much took out anyone who was in there being stupid." [Would you give your weapons to these guys?]

[8 AM EDT] Fierce fighting is going on in Falluja: Fighting rages in Fallujah. In Baghdad: Baghdad building explodes during raid. It appears that GIs and Iraqis were hurt in this incident.

And yet the fools come for their photo op: Bulgaria president shot at in Iraq.

The Scotsman suggests that Sadr may be as popular in Najaf as Saddam was, when he was in control: Shades of Saddam as Najaf bows to Sadr. William Rivers Pitt, anticipating attacks on Falluja and Najaf this weekthinks "we ain't seen nothin' yet": Falluja, Najaf and the First Law of Holes. Before the attack on Falluja, examine these pictures from the last wave of attacks: Pictures of Falluja after the battle.

The Newsweek portrait of Sadr City and the April 4 Anti-US uprising there gives a sense of the environment in which the urban battles are being fought. Of course, it tells the story fro the perspective of US occupation troops, ignoring that of the hundreds of people fighting against that occupation.Of course, any objective observer would have to admit that the battle described here required an amazing degree of cooperation from many many Iraqis, who are obviously not a tiny minority of "extremists": Mean Streets: Inside the brutal battle of Sadr City. As a venue for urban warfare, this is as bad as it gets.

The Christian Science Monitor claims the US is engaging in a moderate, restrained policy in Falluja. But buried in the article is confirmation that the US is not following the ceasefire. Notice, in the account of the killing of "insurgents", they don't claim that the insurgents attacked the US, only that they were spotted and attacked by US troops. Perhaps they were trying to turn in their weapons when the US troops attacked them. Given the US snipers' policy of shooting at anything that moves, its hard to see how people would turn in weapons if they wanted to. They'd most likely be killed on the way: US tips toward restraint in Fallujah: Over the weekend, US forces around the insurgent city held off from assault in favor of more pinpointed [but murderous] security measures.

Marines spotted a handful of men leaving a mosque with shoulder-held rockets, and engaged them on the northwest edge of the city. More came out of the brush, firing. When the battle was over, according to two American journalists embedded with the unit, the dead guerrillas were lined up and left there - a stark message. [The message presumably that the US would kill anyone they could get their hands on. Would you give up your weapons in these circumstances?]...
[Does this sound like a ceasefire?] "Marines have been doing a good job with precise fire," says Sergeant Valez. "We're not just going to roll in."

UN negotiator Lakhdar Brahimi warned the US against seeking military solutions in Falluja and Najaf: Tread carefully, envoy warns US troops. Meanwhile, some Falluja insurgents are angry at those who negotiated a ceasefire, saying it undercut their resistance: Falluja truce has 'weakened resistance'.

[Brahimi:] Before leaving Iraq he described the siege as unacceptable collective punishment of Fallujah’s people for the misdeeds of a few. Asked about that today, Brahimi said: “When you surround a city, you bomb the city, when people cannot go to hospital, what name do you have for that?
{Falluja:] A communique signed by the "Iraqi resistance in Falluja" said the truce was "an inspiration from Satan because it shifted the balance power in favour of the occupation forces." "Our mujahideen had the situation under control, and the truce weakened them," said the statement. A nationalist leader accused the Islamic Party of campaigning for a truce from the first week of fighting "to extricate the Americans from the Falluja quagmire."

Fighting continues across Iraq Sunday. A US soldier killed in Baghdad, with reports that several children died in the crossfire: Baghdad children killed in crossfire; witnesses said four children were killed by random fire from US troops: Four children shot dead in Iraq: witnesses. Another attack occurred near Falluja: Bomb hits U.S. convoy near Falluja-Iraqi witnesses. In the south: Spanish troops kill two insurgents in Iraq--report. Meanwhile: Third American Dies from Iraq Boat Attack and the main terminal remains closed till Monday at the earliest.

Breaking News! US troops to enter Najaf and Falluja in the next few days, albeit, in a ""limited" way. The US claims, if no one resists them, there won't be massacres: U.S. Troops Prepare to Enter Najaf, Iraq. The Marines, while itching for a fight, know the fight will be complicated: Marine Commander Sees Complex Fight in Falluja . Military liars are making up stories to justify the coming massacres: U.S. begins building public case for renewing efforts to capture Fallujah. See Rahul Mahajan's Comment: Things are looking very bad for Fallujah. Meanwhile, Sadr's hiding in plain sight.

[U.S. Troops:] Anywhere from 900 to 1,200 Iraqis have been killed in April - depending on various reports of the death toll from Fallujah.
[Rahul Mahajan:] Here's a fascinating quote from the [New York] Times article: "It's clear you can't leave a few thousand insurgents there to terrorize the city and shoot at us," one senior official involved in the discussions said in an interview on Saturday. "The question now is whether there is a way to go in with the most minimal casualties possible." It should be clear to anyone with basic knowledge of the situation and with no ideological axe to grind who the few thousand people terrorizing the city are. They're the ones that have assaulted it with tanks, AC-130 gunships, F-16's, and snipers, not the ones who have been defending it from assault.... It would be nice if this time there were protests before the assault instead of after.
[Sadr: The quote from Friday the media didn'tcarry:] "I'll obey all the laws that come from a democratic government that the people choose," he continues. "And I want a fair constitution signed by all Iraqis."

It has just come to light that US troops killed dozens on civilians in a battle near the Syrian border, the Guardian reports Civilians die in gunfights on border. Meanwhile, two US sailors died in the boat attack on the oil terminal yesterday, though no damage to the terminal has been reported: 2 U.S. Sailors Killed in Iraq Boat Attack.

The US starts implementing its new policy toward the Baath by putting Republican Guard butchers in charge of the police in the Southern Shia cities of Kut and Diwaniya: Bremer outlines policy shift on Ba'ath officials. Presumably, the US hopes to develop new security forces who will kill and torture whoever they are told to get.

In Kut, 180km south of Baghdad, US forces replaced the police chief and his deputy with two Republican Guards, at least one of whom was a senior Ba'athist. Former officers in the Republican Guard have also been appointed to police posts in Diwaniya.

U.S. Marines Say Kill 30 Insurgents Near Falluja. By my counting, around 60 Iraqis died in various clashes today. [See next post.] This doesn't count an unknown number likely killed by the omnipresent US snipers in Falluja. Additionally: Blasts target Iraqi oil terminal.

Death across Iraq today: Posted 10 AM EDT] Bomb Kills 14 Iraqis in Bus. [Posted 8:30 AM EDT] Five U.S. Soldiers Killed in Iraq Attack. The headline doesn't mention that 15 Iraqis are also reported killed in the same article. Also, another marine died from a previous attack. The BBC gives additional details on some of these attacks: Iraq hit by lethal rocket strikes.

[Five U.S. Soldiers:] [With their customary precision:] During the fighting, three Iraqi girls were badly burned when a shell exploded in their bedroom where they slept....
The deaths of the five soldiers in Baghdad and the Marine brought to 107 the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq since the beginning of April. Since March 2003, 715 servicemembers have died in this country. The Pentagon announced Friday that 595 U.S. soldiers have been wounded in the past two weeks, raising the total number of troops wounded in combat to 3,864 since the start of the conflict.

Dahr Jamail reports yet again on the horrors occurring in Falluja, where the US troops have decided to show they are real men by treating an entire city as the enemy: Fallujah Residents Report U.S. Forces Engaged in Collective Punishment.

The US has denied that its troops have fired on ambulances and committed other atrocities during the siege and assault on Falluja. In this article, the BBC essentially calls them liars, giving greater credence to independent humanitarian observers who report brutal behavior by US troops. This BBC image is identical to that reported here by numerous internet-based sites relaying the accounts of independent observers who managed to get inside during the siege, despite the US blockade: Picture emerges of Falluja siege.

Humanitarian workers speak of US gunmen firing at ambulances and civilians. They say makeshift clinics were overwhelmed because of a bridge closure which cut off access to the main hospital.

Sunni cleric in Baghdad warns of consequences if US attacks Falluja again: Sunni leader warns of nationwide uprising if Fallujah is hit. The end of the following article reports that the US is actively continuing attacks in Falluja while preparing for a major assault: Clerics Say U.S. Will Pay Dearly If It Attacks Al-Fallujah, Al-Najaf.

Marine commanders are reportedly pulling in reinforcements from western Iraq to build an Al-Fallujah force of more than 3,500. Marines are also conducting raids in the city's suburbs to kill or capture fighters and dry up support for them.

Killers R U.S! All out assault on Falluja threatened: US threatens new Fallujah offensive.

The CPA-Sadr standoff is heating up: Polish Troops Clash With Shiite Militia and Shiite Cleric Threatens Suicide Attacks. Meanwhile, US troops wait: U.S. Troops in Najaf Set for Long Haul. See Juan Cole's comments: Situation Around Najaf remains Tense.

The US would rather have Brits do the dirty work, and the dying. I guess dead British soldiers won't count against Bush's reelection: US wants British to move north into heart of Iraq fighting. After all, Bush's poodle [aka Tony Blair] may send more troops to bail out the Americans: 1,700 extra troops could be sent to Iraq to replace Spaniards.

An arrest suggests that the recent Basra bombings may have been the work of Iraqis from Falluja, not al-Qaida as the US insisted: Basra arrest bolsters revenge theory: Evidence suggests homegrown terrorists - not al-Qaida - carried out bombings in response to attack on Falluja .

Aljazeera reports: Al-Sadr militiamen seized in Baghdad. Will this undermine attempts to resolve the Najaf standoff?

Tribal leaders call on al-Sadr militia to end uprising while: Iran warns US against attacking Najaf, Karbala, killing Sadr.

Anger as Basra dead buried: Iraqis demonstrate against violence. This article also reports 36 killed in Falluja on Wed., indicating that the ceasefire totally broke down.

Progress? Can the human race survive much more of it? Air Force general says U.S. planes helping to crush Iraqi rebellion.

"It is not like classic conduct of warfare," Moseley said. "It's a lot like a sharpshooter sitting on a piece of high ground ... and picking off people or a group of people singularly...."
Last week alone, Air Force planes flew more than 750 sorties as Iraqi rebels stepped up resistance.... "Who would have thought three or four years ago that we would be at this level of jointness, where the battlefield airman is hooked with the land element on the ground and no one even knows the difference between whether it is Navy, Marine or Air Force airplanes that are delivering the effect," he said....
At least 75 percent of current Air Force personnel are now combat-experienced, the highest level since World War II.

A free press is a terrible thing to waste! The Falluja ceasefire seems over, for the moment, anyway: Marines Kill 20 Insurgents in Fallujah. Notice how accounts of insurgents allegedly breaking the ceasefire never seem to be reported with any skepticism, though the only source is American officials. Further, the PsyOps campaign to provoke insurgents into attacking so they can be killed, while well reported as a "human interest" type story, is never put together with claims that insurgents did launch attacks. for an alternative, here is an Aljazeera account: US destroying Falluja homes.

[7 AM EDT] After a lull, during the insurrection, a return to suicide and car bombing attacks on police stations in and near Basra, with major casualties, including many children in passing school busses: Scores killed in Basra bombings. And fighting flared in Falluja, perhaps in response to Runsfeld's statement yesterday that chances of a peaceful resolution there were remote: Clashes flare in besieged Falluja. Rumsfeld: US won't bend to Fallujah militants: Rumsfeld.

xplosions could be heard throughout Falluja on Tuesday as fighting resumed, and American helicopter gunships rattled overhead. Witnesses said six unarmed civilians were killed and 10 wounded by US fire, but the claim could not be confirmed.

Reportedly, the Italians have paid a ransom to get their hostages back: Italians ready to pay ransom for release of hostages held in Iraq.

US officials talking tough on Falluja. Is this a harbinger of a breakdown of the negotiations or posturing before a deal? US warns of new Falluja offensive. In the meantime, eight Iraqis died in fighting there today: Several fighters killed in Falluja. There are reports that a deal is near in the Najaf standoff: Deal with Sadr near as tension eases.

Must Read! Jo Wilding gives her account of: The second trip to Falluja and the courteous kidnappers.

“Jeez it’s good to meet someone that speaks English. Well, apart from ‘Mister’ and ‘please’ and ‘why’.” “Haven’t you got translators?” someone asks him. Sergeant Tratner points his rifle in the direction of the lead vehicle in the convoy. “I got the best translator in the world,” he says.

21 prisoners were evidently killed by a mortar attack on a prison. Details are sketchy: Iraq jail attack kills 21 inmates.

The Sadr phenomenon threatens the Shia hierarchy, along with the American occupiers, which may have long-term consequences: The balance shifts for Shiite power.

Yesterday, Gethin Chamberlain told his story of the ambush in al-Amarah [see posting below]. Today he tells of the wild journey from al-Amarah to Basra, all in the supposedly quiet south: Firepower and fear rule on the road to Basra.

Falluja leaders appear to have struck a deal with the CPA, though not all the details are clear yet: Fallujah Leaders Join U.S. In Calling On Fighters To Turn In Weapons. More on the deal from the Washington Post: Fallujah Leaders Call for Fighters to Turn in Weapons: Commitments Represent First Results of Direct Negotiations. Here is the: Text of joint statement agreed to by U.S and Fallujah negotiators.

Out of the way of the main fighting, al-Amarah, is in southeastern Iraq on the Tigris river. This account shows the degree of fighting going on there. If fighting is there, it must be over much of the country: Caught in the middle as al-Amarah explodes.

Juan Cole is reporting that Gen. John Myers, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, is saying an attack on Najaf is unlikely: Najaf: Muqtada, Myers, and Zapatero. Cole also associates the rapid Spanish pull-out from Iraq as an attempt to avoid getting caught up in potential conflict around Najaf. On the other hand, General Snachez says the US will be careful if they go into Iraq. But, if you listen more carefully, he says they'll exercise the same restraint they've exercised elsewhere, e.g., Falluja. So expect a massacre, if they go in: Sanchez: U.S. Troops Will Be Restrained in Najaf.

[Sanchez:] "We'll be applying the same levels of constraint that we've always applied in operating in this country."
Asked if U.S. forces had been too hard on Falluja, Sanchez replied: "No, no, I don't believe so. Given the resistance that is clearly displaying itself in there, we probably didn't go in hard enough initially."

As the weekend ends, the talks to resolve the standoffs in Falluja and Najaf are both on hold: Iraq ceasefire talks halt amid new clashes.

US troops are going back to eating MREs [meals ready to eat], due to severe shortages caused by the resistance attacks on convoys that led to closing the main highways into Baghdad yesterday. One report says that 80 KBR supply conveys have been attacked recently: U.S. Closes Long Sections of 2 Routes to Baghdad. Here is the Text of the CPA Public Service Announcement closing the roads.

[Text:] Civilians that attempt to drive on these roads may be considered anti-Coalition forces and risk being subject to attack. If civilians drive on the closed section of the highways they may be engaged with deadly force.

Falluja. Snipers practice killing, brag, and compete for the most kills: In Iraq city, Marine snipers have become significant tactic: Shooters suppress enemy fire, allow U.S. troops more freedom to move. Other marines, not so lucky, wait: Troops tired of waiting on Fallujah's front line: Beset with boredom and unable to advance, Marines pass long days with music and flies. They use dirty tricks to provoke renewed fighting: . [None of the accounts of these "psy-ops" dirty tricks makes the connection between the marines going out of their way to provoke attacks, and US claims that rebels continue attacking marines!] Dirty deeds done dirt cheap: Along Fallujah's front line, U.S. uses rock 'n' roll to snag insurgent. The forces negotiate: The negotiator: Businessman behind shaky truce between US troop and Fallujah insurgents. The people continue to suffer: In Fallujah, Confusion Spiked With Danger: Marines, Iraqis Meet Cautiously In Besieged City.

Danger Ahead! Both the Sunday Herald and Juan Cole agree that the Israeli assassination of Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi will fan the flames in Iraq in general and Najaf in particular, leading to more death on all sides. It may end any possibility of the US-Sadr standoff being resolved peacefully: Death set to ignite tinderbox in Iraq [Herald] and Rantisi and Najaf [Cole]. To get a sense of Iraqi reaction, read that of Raed on his blog: Sunday, April 18, 2004.

[Cole:] One can only conclude that neither Ariel Sharon nor Bush and his Neocon advisers give a fig about the lives of US servicemen in Iraq. Otherwise, they'd stop with the theatrics. If the Israelis had wanted to arrest Rantisi, they could have. They pulled off Entebbe. This extra-judicial murder of political opponents is just showing off, and it is of course ethically despicable and a war crime for which one only wishes Sharon could be made to stand trial in the Hague....
I feel like something of a fool for bothering to say this, since it is obvious that Sharon is behaving like a Mafia don, not a head of state. But the commentary I saw on US cable television was all about who could fall over themselves more quickly to praise this decisive action against terrorism. The state of public discourse in the US (and Israel) is deplorable when it is not even possible publicly to criticize extra-judicial killing in the mass media.
[Raed:] Today, another leader was assassinated, another Sheikh Ahmad Yasin. Rantisi was a political man, whether we liked him or not… ArRantisi was another safety value that the Bush and Sharon administrations destroyed.
I am ANGRY!!! VERY ANGRY!!! I am a secular leftist! But I am angry!!!! Can you imagine what do other millions of right winged religious people feel????
I am losing faith that words can solve anything when Bush and Sharon are ruling the world, and I can feel that explosion that will destroy everything is coming; it will destroy us and destroy you. The explosion is coming. The volcano of the Middle East is not going to sleep forever.

It seems to have been a bloody day for Coalition troops. In addition to the six (some sources sat five) killed near the Syrian border (see post below), more were killed near Baghdad: 3 U.S. soldiers are killed in Iraq attack and one (of uncertain nationality) outside Najaf: Coalition soldier killed in Iraq.

Some sources report that the talks between Sadr and the coalition have broken down. If so, what next? Iraq faces more violence after talks collapse. Sadr's followers are saying they expect a US attack: Cleric's backers predict Najaf attack. Meanwhile, Juan Cole reports some of the claims that allegedly led to the arrest warrant for Sadr and rightly expresses skepticism: Story of the Arrest Warrant for Muqtada. For a sense of the feelings of moderate Shia toward the situation, see the entry for today in Rahul Mahajan's Iraq blog, Empire Notes: April 17, 11:40 am EST. Meanwhile, Mahajan is probably leaving Iraq, along with the few other remaining independent Westerners. I, for one, anxiously await news from each of these brave souls, so that I know they are still alive and well. I cried when I got an e-mail from Jo Wilding this morning, because it meant she had survived another day. If only the Iraqis had the same option, though, of course, some the wealthier do. But, for the rest, we wait and hope...

The pervasive sense of unease is the theme of this piece by Jason Burke: Calm before the storm in Baghdad: Iraqi capital braces itself for mujahideen onslaught.

There was a fierce battle near the Syrian border on Saturday. Six marines died, plus an undisclosed number of Iraqis: 6 Marines, scores of Iraqis killed in fierce battle.

Rebel attacks has led to the closing of major highways between Baghdad and the north and south of the country: U-S military shuts down two roads into Baghdad because of insurgent attacks. There is am unconfirmed report that at least one of the roads was actually closed when insurgents destroyed two bridges: Insurgents Blow Up Bridges Near Baghdad.

[8 AM EDT] Consistent with what Juan Cole reports below, the Sadr forces say mediation has broken down. They the blame the US placing obstacles: Mediation halted in Najaf: Sadr spokesman. Meanwhile the Sunni Muslim Clerics Association has proclaimed its support for Shia al-Sadr: Iraq Sunni group says supports Shi'ite cleric Sadr. The Muslim Clerics Association has been acting to get foreign hostages released: Executed Italian hostage hailed a hero for defying kidnappers. "Mohammed al-Faythee, a spokesman for the Muslim Clerics Association, said: `We have urged people not to take anyone hostage who has nothing to do with troops occupying Iraq.'"

Juan Cole has three pieces on the standoff with the al-Sadr forces at Najaf. First: Clergy of Najaf to Mahdi Army: Go fight outside the City. Second: Muqtada's Friday Sermon: Marines should Surrender. Here is where I think Cole is junping to conclusions. He interprets Sadr's comments as an indication of a "fairly severe personality disorder." While I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case, his statements quoted here appear to me to be metaphorical restatements of the obvious truth that the US does not intend to give up control when it talks of the transfer of "sovereignty": [Sadr:] "Some accuse me of having delayed the transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis and the formation of a transitional Iraqi government. I say, yes, I have delayed the sale of Iraq and the planting of a lackey government." Third, an account of the negotiations between Sadr and the US which suggests that serious stumbling blocks have arisen: Clashes outside Kufa; Situation Tense in Shrine Cities. One Shia cleric: "We had laid out the American point of view for the grand ayatollahs and Mr. al-Sadr, but the religious leadership considered one of the conditions set by the Americans to be crippling."

Now we begin the hostage drama that will captivate the nation: US Soldier May Be Held Captive in Iraq -Official. LATER: Images of American soldier held by insurgents and masked gunmen captors are beamed around the world. He is Private Keith Matthew Maupin. Unfortunately, he will probably prove to "valuable" to his captors to be released any time soon. Insurgents offer prisoner deal: They will exchange captive GI for comrades held by coalition . More details emerge later: I just came to liberate, says 'unwilling' marine.

1[11 PM EDT] The US will move its Falluja troops to allow residents access to the city's main hospital. Note, this will be the first acknowledgment in many US papers that the US was, indeed, blocking access to the hospital: US Troops in Fallujah to Be Repositioned.

[1:30 PM EDT] Sadr less compromising. Does this mean negotiations are breaking down, or is it the bluster before a deal? Sadr defiant amid clashes near holy city. In Sadr City, Baghdad, tens of thousands joined anti-occupation rallies in support of Sadr on Friday. According to this Reuters piece, the US is nowhere to be seen in Sadr City: Sadr's Followers Vow War if U.S. Attacks Iraq City.

[8 AM EDT] fighting underway in Falluja: Falluja Clashes, Najaf Standoff Fuel Iraq Tension. Also underway are negotiations: U.S., Fallujah officials to negotiate. There may also be fighting underway in Kut, but details are not available yet: Blasts in Iraq's Kufa, Militias Rush to Fight. Juan Cole provides details on the ongoing negotiations to resolve the US-Sadr standoff: Negotiations over Muqtada al-Sadr. And for a study in humor, spin, or psychosis [take your pick]: General Calls Insurgency in Iraq a Sign of U.S. Success: Political Achievements Are Cause of Uprising, Myers Says. It is quite a statement about the US press that such tripe can even be published in a major newspaper.

The article by Rory McCarthy indicates that most people in Najaf just want sadr and his militia to be gone, as everyone waits to see what will happen, negotiated settlement, or street warfare: Gunmen rule in a city gripped with fright.

Juan Cole cites sources as saying a deal has been worked out to resolve the Sadr crisis. It involves dissolving his militia and temporary exile in Iran until July 1: Muqtada Agrees to Dissolve Militia, May go into temporary exile in Iran. Cole points out that the NYT has a slightly different account: Iranians in Iraq to Help in Talks on Rebel Cleric. According to Patrick Cockburn , there is infighting among US civilian and military leaders, which interferes with negotiations to resolve the Sadr standoff or the Falluja siege: Bremer 'is powerless to restrain the US military'

In addition to its information on the near-collapse of the Falluja truce, this piece has a reference to a major battle on Mon. & Tues. in Karma, a village outside Falluja: U.S. Launches Heavy Fire on Fallujah. Meanwhile, some US troops are preparing for a massacre, according to this AP report: Some Troops Expect All-Out Fallujah Fight.

[U.S. Launches:] Marines fought fierce battles Monday and Tuesday with insurgents in Karma, a village outside Fallujah. Some 100 gunmen were killed in battles in palm groves and over canals that were so intense that wounded Marines were sent to rejoin the fight.
[:] "If they're trying to find a peaceful way out of this, great. But at this point, there seem to be few options other than to get innocents out and level it, wipe it clear off the map," said 1st Lt. Frank Dillbeck, scanning the city's outskirts with binoculars during a relative lull in fighting....
Christiansen said he was unfazed by concerns that the gunmen may be using the cease-fire to regroup. "I really don't care; they're all gonna die," he said.

[12 PM EDT] Al-Sadr has dropped condition for negotiations, but the US seems to be hesitating at the thought of a peaceful resolution. The US has sealed off Najaf with 2,500 troops and the head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff said in Kuwait Wed., that Sadr "must be brought to justice". Further, the BBC reports that US troops are handling out leaflets in Karbala accusing Sadr of various crimes, and that these leaflets are angering residents: US faces off with Iraqi cleric. The BBC has also translated extensive sections of an interview with Sadr today: 'I'm ready to die' - Moqtada Sadr.

[7 AM EDT] Negotiations continue with Sadr, but US poised for an attack, so its unclear if urban combat in Najaf and Karbala will be avoided: Iraq Cleric Offers Peace Terms; U.S. Forces Poised. But US still talking tough: Troops gather for fight in Shiite's holy city. Meanwhile, there is increasing fighting in Falluja, despite a formal extension of the "cease-fire" for 48 more hours: U.S. forces battle gunmen in Fallujah.

[Iraq Cleric:] Abdul Salam al-Kubaysi, spokesman for the Muslim Clerics Association, negotiating on behalf of Falluja, told Reuters that only police from the area would be allowed into the city, not personnel from the U.S.-trained Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, which he labeled "traitors and collaborators."
[Troops gather:] "The target is not Najaf. The target is Muqtada al-Sadr and his militia," said Brig. Mark Kimmitt, deputy head of U.S. military operations in Iraq. "We will hunt him down and destroy him. We would prefer it not (be) in Najaf or Karbala. We have very great respect for the shrines, for the Shiites."

This Washington Post article discusses how much Iraq has changed this week: Fallujah Gains Mythic Air: Siege Redefines Conflict for Iraqis in Capital.

The popular response -- of Shiite and Sunni giving aid, shelter to refugees and even volunteers to the fight -- has pushed fears of an Iraqi civil war to the background.... "What is striking is how much has changed in a week -- a week," said Wamid Nadhmi, a political science professor at Baghdad University. "No one can talk about the Sunni Triangle anymore. No one can seriously talk about Sunni-Shiite fragmentation or civil war. The occupation cannot talk about small bands of resistance. Now it is a popular rebellion and it has spread."
Monday, in the Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiya, there was another variation: "No occupation after today."

Falluja update: Patchy Fallujah truce holds for fourth day: Fallujah is mostly quiet after nearly a week of fierce fighting that left more than 600 Iraqis dead, 1,250 wounded.

"Among those killed were 160 women, 141 children and many elderly," Rawi said.

Shia leaders telling US to back off Sadr: Kill imam at your peril, Shiites warn US. Meanwhile, evidently the US have backed off its earlier provocation: Radical Shiite cleric's aide freed in Iraq.

The spiritual leader of all Shiites, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, reportedly issued a statement with other senior imams, saying they could not tolerate the arrest of Sadr.

US tries to sabotage negotiations with Sadr: Al-Sadr aide arrested.

Another helicopter was hit outside Falluja: Crashed U.S. Helicopter in Flames in Iraq: Crashed U.S. Helicopter in Flames Outside Fallujah; Witnesses Say Hit by Rocket. Also, another soldier killed: One U.S. Soldier Killed in Attack South of Baghdad.

More hostages freed: Russian, Ukrainian hostages freed in Iraq. This account says the Japanese hostages were about to be released when the Japanese PM called the hostage-takers "terrorists", and they stopped the release: Latest on Japanese Hostages.

While macho Generals US pledge to arrest or kill Shia cleric ,Juan Cole reports that Sistani has told them they MUST NOT attack the holy Shia cities of Najaf or Karbala, or else he will launch resistance: Sistani Threatens Shiite Resistance if US Invades Najaf. Further, negotiations continue: Shiite Leaders Negotiate with Muqtada.

[Shiite Leaders Negotiate:] Juna Cole: think it most unlikely that the terms of the negotiations reported above will be acceptable to the United states. Coalition spokesmen continued to talk about capturing or killing Muqtada. The tough talk may be intended to put pressure on him to surrender, but if so it is a miscalculation. Muqtada is a millenarian who thinks the world is about to end, and for the foreigners to discuss killing him might well drive him to seek the advent of the apocalypse through a call for more violence.
The problem with this approach is that the Sadrists are a widespread social movement whose history goes back over a decade, and killing Muqtada will not end the movement. There are lots of potential successors to Muqtada. The chief characteristic of the Sadrists is their cheekiness. They were cheeky to Saddam, and they will be cheeky to Gen. Abizaid. They are desperately poor ghetto dwellers, they don't like The Man, and they think they have nothing to lose in taking Him on. If the US military thinks this is a military problem with a military solution, they are just clueless.

Naomi Klein reports from Baghdad: Fury Ignites Solidarity in Iraq.

More kidnappings today: 2 Americans reported among 6 new hostages: Shiite militia denies holding three Japanese civilians captive.

At least 450 people are reported dead and over 1,000 wounded in Falluja alone. Remember, that all accounts have bodies littering the streets, so many dead would not be known to the Director of the hospital: Falluja fighting "kills 450 Iraqis".

You can get a sense of the Falluja fighting from this Video Report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

[8 AM EDT] Juan Cole has three important pieces. First, he has the text of a call by Muqtada al-Sad for his troops to end hostilities and engage in a sit-in: Muqtada Calls for an End to Hostilities. Second, he has a description, from someone there, of The Situation in Najaf. Third, an update on the situation this morning: Fighting Rages in Fallujah, Najaf, Karbala; 6 US Troops Dead, Hundreds of Iraqis.

[Fighting rages:] The Minister for Human Rights in Iraq, appointed by the American-appointed Interim Governing Council, has resigned. Abdul Basit Turki said he was leaving his position "in protest at the practices of the Americans."

Sadr denies involvement in kidnappings: Al-Sadr Denies Link to Iraq Kidnapping.

"We condemn such acts and we pray for their release," al-Husseini [Sadr representative in Baghdad] said.

[7 AM EDT] Roundup of the latest news: US claims to retake Kut; Marines called a ceasefire for negotiations in Falluja, but shooting continued and marines resumed their attack 90 minutes later, without any negotiations occurring: U.S. forces recapture southern Iraqi city; AFP reports: Corpses litter streets in Fallujah; meanwhile, the insurrection spreads: Fighting Erupts in Town of Baquba North of Baghdad; and in a sign of how much Iraq has changed in the past week: Now green Shia banners fly in square where Saddam fell.

[U.S. forces recapture:] [Even pro-US puppets on the "Governing Council" condemn US barbarity. Obviously, the US cares not one whit about the opinions of any Iraqis:] "These operations were a mass punishment for the people of Fallujah," Adnan Pachachi, a senior member of the U.S.-appointed Governing Council, told Al-Arabiya TV. "It was not right to punish all the people of Fallujah and we consider these operations by the Americans unacceptable and illegal."

This piece has a paragraph from someone who got into Falluja: Fierce battle for Fallujah continues. This reporter thinks the Shia uprising is slowing down.

"I went down in a convoy of five trucks, but only two were let into the city," he said. "What I saw was beyond description. Entire neighborhoods have been reduced to battlefields. The people crowded the truck, crying and begging us to take them away from all the death, all the blood. But the Marines told us, 'Two go in, two come out.' So we had to leave them behind."

The mercenaries are banding together. I thought private militias were illegal? Violence spurs massive private army.

The Sunni town of Samarra joins those with fighting: US, Iraqis clash in Samarra.

Is the New Iraq being built through the resistance? The New York Times joins other sources writing of the growing Iraqi unity and the terror it creates in the occupiers. They report that Shia fighters are rushing to Falluja, to aid the resistance there: Sunni-Shiite Cooperation Grows, Worrying U.S. Officials. Another NYT piece states: US intelligence officials' account of broad Shiite revolt contradicts White House stand.

[Sunni-Shiite Cooperation:] Though the food donations were coming from Shiite families, and in many cases poor families with little to spare, the collecting point was a Sunni mosque. And though Shiite holy men were the ones organizing the food drive, the recipients were the besieged residents of Falluja, a city in the heart of the Sunni triangle that has now become an icon of resistance. "Sunni, Shia, that doesn't matter anymore," said Sabah Saddam, a 32-year-old government clerk who took the day off to drive one of the supply trucks. "These were artificial distinctions. The people in Falluja are starving. They are Iraqis and they need our help."
But now that the resistance is heating up, spreading from town to town, the Sunnis and Shiites are drawing together. American military leaders say they have been watching closely. "The danger is we believe there is a linkage that may be occurring at the very lowest levels between the Sunni and Shi'a," Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, commander of the occupation forces, said today. "We have to work very hard to ensure that it remains at the tactical level." [Translation: The US will do everything in its power to create distrust and hatred between Iraqi communities in order to continue its unpopular rule.]

[7 PM EDT]There appears to have been an attack against CPA headquarters in the Southern Iraq town of Samawah, with possible casualties: rea Near Coalition Office In S Iraq Attacked.

More deaths on US side: Six More U.S. Soldiers Killed in Action in Iraq - Army.

US uses racist stereotypes to justify slaughtering civilians in its brutal suppression of Iraqi resistance: Events in Iraq Signal U.S. Shift to War-Fighting Strategy. If the US is determined not to "turn the other cheek", why should they expect that of Iraqis who want them out of their country?

Win the war -- then worry about winning friends.... That means the enemy must be defeated in combat before the work of developing the country can go on, U.S. military officers and analysts say. It means killing civilians, as in Wednesday's U.S. attack on a mosque compound in Fallujah, is regrettable but necessary "collateral damage," they say.
"We cannot afford to be weak," said retired Army Col. Robert Killebrew. "This is not a part of the world that understands turning the other cheek."
[Discussing their long-term strategy:] "You have to put an Iraqi face on this," Scales said. "But the American military has to have its hand on the throttle."

[4 PM EDT] Must Read! According to news.com.au: Iraq stability crumbling quickly. Meanwhile a massive show of support has broken through the blockade of Falluja, bringing food and medical supplies: Marchers break through US roadblocks.

[:] HOUSANDS of Sunni and Shiite Muslims forced their way through US military checkpoints Thursday to ferry food and medical supplies to the besieged Sunni bastion of Fallujah where US marines are trying to crush insurgents. Troops in armoured vehicles tried to stop the convoy of cars and pedestrians from reaching the town located 50 kilometers west of Baghdad. But US forces were overwhelmed as residents of villages west of the capital came to the convoy's assistance, hurling insults and stones at the beleaguered troops.
US troops again blocked the highway further west, but were forced to let the Iraqis past as they came under a hail of stones. Sitting on top of supply trucks, young men also hurled empty bottles of water and waved their shoes in sign of disdain at the US troops.
The cross-community demonstration of support for Fallujah had been organized by Baghdad clerics both Sunni and Shiite amid reports that the death toll in the town had reached 105 since late Tuesday.... "No Sunnis, no Shiites, yes for Islamic unity," the marchers chanted. "We are Sunni and Shiite brothers and will never sell our country."

[12 PM EDT] The US admits loss of control in two cities: U.S.: No control in two cities: 35 Americans, 439 Iraqis dead this week, reports say. Also, an unknown group has kidnapped Japanese and South Korean hostages, though the South Koreans have apparently been released. The group threatened to kill the Japanese if Japan does not withdraw its troops from Iraq: Death threat to Iraq hostages.

[7 AM EDT] The fighting, and the dying, continue: Troops battle rebels in Iraqi towns. "Trouble" has spread north to Kirkuk, with 13 protestors killed for protesting the bombing of the Falluja mosque: Urban warfare grips Iraq.

[Troops battle:] Fighting raged for a fourth day on Thursday between Sunni rebels and U.S. Marines in Falluja, west of Baghdad, where the director of the main hospital said up to 300 Iraqis had been killed and at least 400 wounded since Sunday. Townspeople were told by mosque loudspeakers to take their dead to a sports stadium for burial. Fighting has made it impossible to reach cemeteries on the town's outskirts....
Thousands of Sunni and Shi'ite protesters gathered outside Baghdad's Um al-Qura mosque, chanting slogans in solidarity with people in Falluja, Kerbala and other conflict zones. Similar rallies took place in Mosul and Baquba, north of the capital....
Polish and Bulgarian soldiers traded fire with Shi'ite Mehdi Army fighters in Kerbala. "There was shooting all night," said Polish spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Strzelecki. A health official, Mehdi al-Hasnawi, said four Iraqis had been killed and 16 wounded. Witnesses said the Mehdi Army was in control of the city. More clashes erupted later in the day. Hundreds of thousands of Shi'ite pilgrims, including many from Iran, have converged on Kerbala for Arbain, a major religious occasion that reaches its climax this weekend....
Nada Doumani, spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said the ICRC had sent anaesthetics to Falluja with a Red Crescent convoy on Thursday. The ICRC delivered 1.5 tonnes of medical supplies the previous day, but its trucks could not get inside the town or reach the main hospital. [Where's the outcry at the US denying food and medicine to 300,000 people?
[Urban warfare:] In Ramadi, where 12 American marines were killed on Tuesday, mosques broadcast calls for a holy war against the troops.... A huge area of western Iraq has been sealed off, with the highway linking Baghdad with the Jordanian capital, Amman, closed to all traffic.

Confirmation, the US has given up trying to avoid major civilian casualties -- that's for sissies: US Troops Forced To Shift Gears In Iraq Fighting.

"You can't do the counter-insurgency, hearts-and-minds, give-kids-candy kind of stuff unless you're in control."

Sistani condemns US crackdown, calls for calm: Al-Sistani Condemns Coalition's Handling Of Iraq Violence, Calls For Calm.

[7 PM EDT] An overview of the fighting in the last day, from the Washington Post: Iraq Fighting Heavy as Uprisings Grow: Violence From Shiite, Sunni Fighters Spreads. And Patrick Cockburn from the Independent gives his summary: A guided missile, a misguided war: US kills 40 in mosque attack as Iraq conflict spirals out of contr. In this other account, Patrick Cockburn sees Sadr's support among the Shia growing rapidly: US stoking unrest before festival, say Shia.

[Iraq Fighting Heavy:] Pool video footage from Fallujah showed buildings in rubble as Marines fought insurgents in the mostly Sunni city of more than 250,000 people. Unconfirmed wire service reports from Fallujah said there were significant numbers of civilian fatalities and casualties, with pleas going out for blood donations.
Members of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and the Army's 1st Infantry Division engaged in a seven-hour firefight with rebels in the city after a provincial government building was attacked, according to Kimmitt and other military officials.
[A guided missile:]

Some Baghdad residents say "a plague on both your houses!" Troops clash with Shiites in Baghdad district.

The AP and BBC have useful Map of Current Fighting: AP (more detailed) or BBC. It's important to remember that these cities contain perhaps 70% of the total population of Iraq.

Sadr calls for solidarity from Americans for Iraqi freedom from occupation: Cleric Al-Sadr Warns Iraq Could Become A Vietnam For US.

"I call upon the American people to stand beside their brethren, the Iraqi people, who are suffering an injustice by your rulers and the occupying army, to help them in the transfer of power to honest Iraqis,"

According to one source, five more US troops dead in Falluja today: Five US Marines dead in Fallujah. Aljazeera reports that more than 200 Iraqis have died there so far. They also report only one marine killed: Scores dead as Falluja resists US onslaught. Aljazeera reporters are the only ones inside besieged Falluja.

[Scores dead:] "Residents of Falluja call on the Arab world to intervene and lift the siege on this town of 300,000. They ask where are the Arab leaders in this time?"

[11:30 AM EDT] Many civilians are dying under US attack: US Bombs Fallujah Mosque; More Than 40 Worshippers Killed: Revolutionary violence engulfs Iraq. And more details from Reuters: Fierce fighting engulfs Iraqi cities.

[US Bombs Fallujah Mosque:] U.S. Marines in a fierce battle for this Sunni Muslim stronghold fired rockets that hit a mosque compound filled with worshippers today, and witnesses said as many as 40 people were killed. ... The strike came as worshippers had gathered for afternoon prayers, witnesses said. Temporary hospitals were set up in private homes to treat the wounded and prepare the dead for burial.
Sixteen children and eight women were reported killed when warplanes struck four houses late Tuesday, said Hatem Samir, a Fallujah Hospital official.
[Firece fighting:] n Falluja, dozens of Iraqis were killed. Doctors said at least 36 were killed on Tuesday, and locals said the toll was much higher as many were unable to reach the main hospital. One mosque was being used as a makeshift morgue. The International Committee of the Red Cross appealed for access to be restored to the hospital, spokeswoman Nada Doumani said.

Must Read! Riverbend presents news being kept out of the mainstream media, describes life today in the midst of the conflict, and provides some of the most insightful analyses of the current situation: Teapots and Kettles.... (PUBLISHED and POSTED: April 7, 2004)

Falloojeh has been cut off from the rest of Iraq for the last three days.... Yesterday they said that the only functioning hospital in the city was hit by the Americans and there's no where to take the wounded except a meager clinic that can hold up to 10 patients at a time. There are over a hundred wounded and dying and there's nowhere to bury the dead because the Americans control the area surrounding the only graveyard in Falloojeh; the bodies are beginning to decompose in the April heat.... [T]he people are going to go hungry in a matter of days because most of the fresh produce is brought from outside of the city.
Muqtada Al-Sadr is no better and no worse than several extremists we have sitting on the Governing Council. He's just as willing to ingratiate himself to Bremer as Al-Hakeem and Bahr Ul Iloom. The only difference is that he wasn't given the opportunity, so now he's a revolutionary. Apparently, someone didn't give Bremer the memo about how when you pander to one extremist, you have to pander to them all.... Then Bremer makes an appearance on tv and says that armed militias will *not* be a part of the New Iraq… where has that declaration been the last 12 months while Badir's Brigade has been wreaking havoc all over the country?... You can either be a good little cleric and get along with Bremer (but have a lot of dissatisfied people *not* supporting you) or you can be a firebrand cleric and rally the masses...
The only people still raving about 'liberation' are the Iraqis affiliated with the Governing Council and the Puppets, and even they are getting impatient with the mess. And as I blog this, all the mosques, Sunni and Shi’a alike, are calling for Jihad...

[11 AM EDT] Claims that rebels have captured US troops. No confirmation from US or independent sources: Top Iraqi aide says Iraqis have captured coalition soldiers.

[10 AM EDT] US bombs a mosque in Falluja, killing at least 40. US claims they are insugents, but no independent confirmation. Of course, now that all the mosques in Falluja have called the populace to join the jihad against the Americans, much of the population there are probably insurgents: 40 dead as US bombs Fallujah mosque.

[9 AM EDT] A helicopter down in city of Baqouba, where Shia are fighting US. No word on casualties: U.S. military helicopter crashes, in flames, in Iraqi city; casualties unknown At least 60 Iraqis killed overnight, 120 wounded, in Falluja alone: 60 Iraqis Killed in Overnight Fighting: Overnight Fighting Kills 60 Iraqis in Fallujah; 12 Marines Killed in Ramadi.

[Helicopter:] U.S. troops and Shiite militiamen clashed Wednesday in Baqouba, 30 miles northeast of Baghdad. During the fighting, militiamen hit the governor's office with rocket-propelled grenades.
[Falluja:] U.S. warplanes opened fire on groups of Iraqis in the street. [Notice, it doesn't say "armed Iraqis'] Rocket-propelled grenade fire set a U.S. Humvee ablaze, injuring soldiers inside, witnesses said. Mosques in the city called for "jihad," or holy war, against Americans. Some gunmen in the street were seen carrying mortars, and some women carried automatic weapons.

The Boston Globe also reports US progress in unifying Iraq: Sunnis and Shi'ites unite in resistance. An even more amazing article in the Washington Post indicates the problems facing the US divide and conquer strategy: Muslim Rivals Unite In Baghdad Uprising.

[Muslim Rivals:] "We lost faith in the Americans," said Asaam Al Jarah, principal of a Kadhimiya high school. "Everybody was waiting for the transition, waiting and waiting. Then we saw the law was rubbish. "Now everything is different." The neighborhood, though Shiite, is not normally regarded as Sadr turf. Most Kadhimiya residents, like most of Iraq's majority Shiite population, look to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani for instruction. But Abu Ali Hashem, a Sistani follower and an official of a hallowed Shiite shrine, estimated that half of the neighborhood's Sistani followers were joining in Sadr's protest in the absence of any instruction otherwise from their own leader....
"You have not seen anything yet," said Akram, the shopkeeper. "You will see a new style of resistance in the city. Well-organized. Advanced. They will be surprised. They won't know what to do." He smiled, but refused to say more, except that the plan would involve children as young as 8 and men as old as 80, drawn from across the district.

Among the other battles across Iraq, there is renewed fighting in Ramadi, where about 12 US soldiers died yesterday: US Marine Battle Insurgents In Two Central Iraqi Towns. In Kut, The Ukrainian force has withdrawn, allowing the Sadrists to take control, allegedly at the "request" of the Americans: Ukraine troops leave Iraqi city of Kut to Sadr's supporters, at US request. And still: U.S. Faces Tough Urban Battle in Fallujah.

Juan Cole's latest news and analysis of the uprising. He has obviously changed his thinking in the last two days to see it as much more major than even he initially believed: The Second Front: Multi-City Sadrist Uprising Continues.

It seems inevitable to me that the US military will pursue a war to the death with the Army of the Mahdi, the Sadrist movement, and Muqtada al-Sadr himself. They will of course win this struggle on the surface and in the short term, because of their massive firepower. But the Sadrists will simply go underground and mount a longterm guerrilla insurgency similar to that in the Sunni areas.

From "Liberation" to what? US vows to wipe out cleric's army.

Anti-American demonstrations, and American-caused death, spread to Kirkuk: Eight Iraqis killed in Kirkuk protest: US troops kill eight Iraqis, wound 12 others in demonstration west of Kirkuk against US attacks on Fallujah..

Democracy Now! interviews Naomi Klein in Iraq and As'ad AbuKhalil, rofessor of political science at California State University: Iraq Intifada: U.S. Faces New Resistance Front As Shiites Join Armed Uprising.

[Naomi Klein:] [O]ne of the interesting things about that incident was we saw the newly created Iraqi police and security forces putting on ski masks before they went into the crowd and shot the unarmed demonstrators. And it's clear that they were doing this to protect their identities because they can't go back to their neighborhoods after they do this....
He [Sadr] is seen as a more forceful, more militant, leader than Sistani because Sistani’s route, the route he chose, the diplomatic route, through the UN has not worked, and this is because the UN really has not backed the demands for direct elections. It looks like they're about to give their stamp of approval to the interim constitution which is seen as a deeply illegitimate document here. Because of this diplomatic route has failed, many, many more people are turning to Muqtada al-Sadr, and also they really are turning him into a hero and into a martyr....
I think, you know, we are hearing from the Bush administration, this talk of civil war in Iraq. I think it's really important to understand this is not a civil war. It's an uprising against a foreign occupation. It's erupting all over the country. Iraqis are not fighting each other. They are fighting the United States.... Basically what Paul Bremer has done is united the country against him. The other thing I just want to say is that this was not sparked by Sadr himself. It was actually provoked by Paul Bremer, in a series of actions: of targeting the newspaper, arresting his deputies, surrounding his mosque, and now issuing a warrant for his arrest. They really goaded him into this.

The US' worst nightmare. Will this be the beginning of a unified Iraq? Baghdad Sunnis, Shi'ites unite.

Across the Tigris river in Adhamiya, the Sunni residents said they were now united against the American "invaders".... "We are now one united Muslim people in light of what happened yesterday and the days before in Najaf and Sadr City," said a local merchant, Nabil El Adami, 30.... "This is now Jihad (holy war) against the Americans regardless of whether we are Shi'ites or Sunnis," El Adami said. "We will each fight in our neighbourhoods without necessarily all joining (Sadr's) militia." He said a raid by US forces last night had left many people dead and injured in the neighbourhood.
Similar calls for unity also appeared to be pouring in from other Sunni regions including Al-Anbar where residents sent a message to Sadr that read: "We are all behind Moqtada Sadr, we are by his side because he awakened the Iraqi people to liberate the country from the infidel invaders". A delegation of 150 Sunnis from Baghdad came to offer their support overnight to followers of the radical cleric in Sadr City, a rundown Shi'ite neighbourhood in the Iraqi capital renamed after him.

[6:40 PM EDT] Iraqi insurgents mount a large-scale attack against U.S. Marines, with "about a dozen" Americans feared killed, initial Pentagon reports say: Violence spreads to several Iraqi cities, up to 12 Marines killed in Ramadi. That makes 19 GIs dead in 24 hours.

"A significant number" of Marines were killed, and initial reports indicate it may be up to a dozen, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.... Two more coalition soldiers – an American in Baghdad and a Ukrainian in Kut – were killed in fighting. The deaths brought the three-day total to up to about 30 Americans and 136 Iraqis killed in the worst fighting since the war that toppled Saddam Hussein.

[6 PM EDT] Latest death toll [undoubtedly an underestimate]: 64 Iraqis Die in Battle With U.S. Forces. There is a report just coming in of several, perhaps as many as 12 GIs dead in Ramadi: Coalition battling al-Sadr supporters in Najaf: U.S. Marines move into Fallujah; fighting reported in Ramadi.

[5 PM EDT] Horror in Falluja: 26 Iraqis killed in Fallujah strike, doctors and witnesses say. Also: U.S. Marines face tough urban warfare in Fallujah assault. [BTW, this article describes Falluja as a city of 200,000, other articles say 300,00, or 500,000. How come American reporters can't even get a clear answer of this issue? how should we trust the rest of their "facts"?] In response: Fallujans Call on U.N. to Save Them and Iraqi Doctors Appeal for Aid.

[26 Iraqis killed:] U.S. warplanes firing rockets destroyed four houses in the besieged city of Fallujah late Tuesday, witnesses said. A doctor said 26 Iraqis, including women and children, were killed and 30 wounded in the strike.
[U.S. Marines:] U.S. forces called out a weapon rarely used against the Iraqi guerrillas: the AC-130 gunship, a warplane that circles over a target, laying down a devastating barrage of heavy machine gun fire.... Asked how long it would take to seize the whole city, the Marines' McGolwan replied: ``As long as it takes.''
[Iraqi Doctors Appeal:] Iraqi doctors in Falluja are appealing to Iraqi authorities to deliver aid and medicines to the beseiged town. They are warning of an imminent breakdown in health care facilities in the town.

Robert Fisk: Iraq on the brink of anarchy .

The grim truth, however, is that the occupying powers are now facing insurrection of various strengths in almost every big city in Iraq. Yet they are still not confronting that truth. For the past nine nights, for example, the main US base close to Baghdad airport - and the area around the terminals - has come under mortar fire. But the occupying powers have kept this secret. "Things are getting very bad and they're going to get worse," a special forces officer said close to the airport yesterday. "But no one is saying that - either because they don't know or because they don't want you to know."

Wendell Steavenson gives an on-the-street feel: Dispatches From Iraq: The Americans Are Coming ... for Moqtada

His colleague Abu Noor added, "Please please, what is happening is not general; it is only one group. We have an intifada only when there is a reason, like during Saddam. Now there is no reason." "Before we had to walk the streets in fear, now we walk with our heads up. Financially, things are better—" Salah Hasan Ali, who runs an ice cream shop on the corner, felt the same. "Things are settling back to normal, we do not want fighting. Hopefully this is a crisis that will pass."

[2 PM EDT] Najaf now in rebel hands: Sources: Al-Sadr supporters take over Najaf: Wanted Iraqi cleric said to be at holy shrine.

An account of the transformation occurring to both poor Iraqis and US troops as combat breaks out i a formerly "safe" area: Violence in Sadr City Embitters Both Sides.

Muntahah Shekhawer, who works in the children's ward, broke down in tears as she recalled children carried into the emergency room. "I felt so bad I couldn't save them," she said. "Two, 3 years old. All of them shot in the head. Always in the head....
"We are all brothers, me and the Mahdi Army," said one uniformed [Iraqi police] officer, who declined to give his name because he said he was not authorized to speak. "These are our people...."
Many other Shiite residents, however, regard Sadr as an upstart. These people follow more senior -- and more moderate -- clerics, especially Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. But in a showdown between a prominent cleric and U.S. forces, no Shiite cleric can side publicly with Iraq's occupiers, at least to judge by their public statements issued in the wake of the fighting.

30 more Iraqis reported killed on Tuesday in the uprising in the south, while Sadr expresses defiance: Shiite Cleric Vows to Resist U.S. Capture.

"America has shown its evil intentions, and the proud Iraqi people cannot accept it. They must defend their rights by any means they see fit," al-Sadr said in a statment released by his office. Fearing a U.S. move to capture him, al-Sadr's aides said Tuesday he had moved from the fortress-like mosque in the city of Kufa where he had been holed up for the past two days to his office in the nearby holy city of Najaf, south of Baghdad....
"I would like to direct my words to the father of evil, Bush," al-Sadr said. "Who is against democracy? Is it the one who calls for peaceful resistance or the one who bombs people, sheds their blood and leads them away from the leaders under feeble and dirty pretexts?"

[Tuesday morning 7 AM, EDT]At least seven more US troops die in the fighting, three in Baghdad, four near falluja: Several More U.S. Troops Killed In Iraq. At least 15 Iraqis have died today in Nassiriya and at least 30 died yesterday in Baghdad: 15 Iraqis killed in Nassiriya gun battles. Heavy fighting is reported in Falluja where the US is conducting "Operation Murderous Revenge": Heavy fighting in sealed Falluja.

Scattered reports of attacks against insurgents in many Baghdad neighborhoods and elsewhere in Iraq on Tuesday morning: Fighting going on in Iraqi cities.

US prepares the Iron Boot. Will they martyr Sadr? Why won't they let any reporters into Falluja? U.S. Seeks Arrest of Shiite Cleric. There are claims of bombardment of Falluja: Blasts in major Falluja offensive.

Evidently, major fighting continues in Sadr city [Baghdad] Monday night: Fighting continues in Shiite section of Baghdad.

Each [police] station had three American tanks parked in front by afternoon, and as night neared, a column of 10 more tanks gathered near the main entrance to the suburb. An Iraqi journalist in Sadr City Monday night said renewed fighting was fierce. "You cannot imagine the force of the attack tonight," Ahmed Mukhtar said. "The fighting is coming from everywhere."

The are claims that Sunnis are going to southern Iraq to join the Shia uprising against the Americans. Meanwhile, the US is not letting the wounded in Falluja get to the hospital: Sadr's Men Begin Broadcasting, Fallujans Feel Squeeze.

Both sides talking tough and spinning a disaster: White House: Iraq's Sadr Is Allied with Terrorists versus Iraqis will oppose US might: Sadr.

Robert Fisk's commentary: Bloodbath a bad omen for coalition forces.

As of this dispatch in the Finacial Times, Shia still controlled neighborhoods in Baghdad, despite US efforts to reclaim control. An arrest warrant for Sadr has been issues: Shia militia rules streets of Baghdad slum. More details from the BBC: Arrest order for Iraq Shia cleric.

[hia militia rules:] Barefoot children hurled stones and abuse at dozens of American tanks who had moved into the area.... In the southern city of Basra, supporters of radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr took control of the main city administration building, exchanging gunfire with British troops....
Away from the small clusters of US tanks in Sadr City [Shia neighborhood in Baghdad], militia forces remained in control of the streets and local government offices. Milita members in black shirts erected a series of barricades and burnt tyres in preparation for the next confrontation, hauling scrap from cars and trucks into position. Elsewhere, shops were shuttered and roads eerily empty as residents observed a strike they said would continue until Mr Sadr called it off.

More clashes on Monday between US and Shia: New clashes in Baghdad.Also: Apaches swoop on Shia militiamen.

[New clashes:] Witnesses said two Apache helicopters opened fire on the Shuala neighbourhood in the north-west of the capital. There is now word yet on any casualties. American troops are also patrolling the Shi'ite stronghold area of Sadr City a day after violence between coalition forces and Shi'ite militia there killed 28 Iraqis, seven US soldiers and wounded 74 more Iraqis. Sue Turton reports.

At the same time, the US has sealed off Falluja and has bombed residential neighborhoods there. They are vowing to "pacify" the town, which undoubtedly means many deaths: US offensive to 'pacify' Falluja. As they talk of sealing off the "town", remember, it has a population of 500,000, the size of Boston.

US troops closed off entrances to Falluja with earth barricades ahead of the planned operation, code named "Vigilant Resolve"....
US aircraft were reported to have struck a residential area in the city, killing many people according to witnesses.

Juan Cole's update on what is happening on Monday in the Shia-CPA conflict: Muqtada Under Siege, US Helicopters Patrol Skies above East Baghdad: Sistani calls for calm and Effect of Plus Ultra Casualties on Coalition?.

[Muqtada Under Siege:] Muqtada's [Sadr] words before he went into retreat in his mosque: "Make your enemy afraid, for it is impossible to remain quiet about their moral offenses; otherwise we have arrived at consequences that will not be praiseworthy. I am with you, and shall not forsake you to face hardships alone. I fear for you, for no benefit will come from demonstrations. Your enemy loves terrorism, and despises peoples, and all Arabs, and muzzles opinions. I beg you not to resort to demonstrations, for they have become nothing but burned paper. It is necessary to resort to other measures, which you take in your own provinces. As for me, I am with you, and I hope I will be able to join you and then we shall ascend into exalted heavens. I will go into an inviolable retreat in Kufa. Help me by whatever you are pleased to do in your provinces. "

At least eight US troops, along with Salvadorans and many (at least 20) Iraqis have been killed in fights between Shia militia and "Coalition" troops. At least 24 US troops reported wounded: Shias 'kill US troops in Baghdad'. There were also an unknown number of Iraqi casualties in clashed between Shia and British troops in Amara. two other US troops were killed in combat elsewhere in the country. To understand what is going on, read Juan Cole's analysis.

The Baghdad fighting broke out after members of a militia loyal to firebrand cleric Moqtada Sadr took control of police stations and government buildings in Sadr City, the US military said in a statement. It said militiamen attacked the soldiers with small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.
[Juan Cole:] Perhaps a third of Iraqi Shiites are sympathetic to the radical, Khomeini-like ideology of Sadrism, and some analysts with long experience in Iraq put it at 50%. Earlier Muqtada Al-Sadr, the movement leader, had called on his forces to avoid violence against Coalition forces. As of Sunday, he has decided that the Coalition means permanently to exclude his group from power, and has decided to launch an uprising....
But one way or another, it is looking increasingly as though the Sadrists have launched an uprising.

Along with all the other battles today: Lisbon Police:Iraq Ambush Hurts 3 Portugal,2 Italy Police.

Nineteen (19) deaths in struggle between occupying army and followers of Moqtada Sadr in Najaf: Protesters die in Iraq firefight. A few hours later, Reuters reports at least 24 dead and 200 wounded. They also seem to doubt that the shooting started with the protesters: At Least 24 Killed in Clashes in Iraqi City Najaf.

[Protesters die:] At least 19 people have been killed and around 100 injured in clashes between Spanish-led troops and demonstrators in the Iraqi city of Najaf. Four soldiers from El Salvador and two from Iraq were reportedly killed in the firefight, which broke out when Iraqi protesters marched on their base....
One report said Spanish forces were pelted with stones, and responded by opening fire. But one of the marchers, Hussein Ali, said the first shots came from the demonstrators. "Some protesters, who were armed, fired toward the Spanish troops, who responded by firing on the crowd. It was carnage," he said.
[At Least 24:] Witnesses said the demonstrators, many of them armed, threw stones at a military vehicle arriving at the base and shortly afterwards Spanish-led troops and Iraqi police at the base opened fire on the crowd from several directions....
In Sadr's powerbase in Baghdad, the poor Shi'ite district of Sadr City, clashes also broke out between locals and security forces. In central Baghdad, Iraqi security forces fired near another crowd of Sadr supporters demonstrating.... A spokeswoman for the British Ministry of Defense said in London that British troops had clashed with Iraqi demonstrators in the southeastern Iraqi city of Amarah Sunday. She said there were no reports of casualties.

The struggle between followers of cleric Moqtada Sadr and the US-led coalition has taken a bloody turn. two protesters were crushed in Baghdad: US tanks crush Iraqi protesters: police and Iraqi cleric's supporters shoot three soldiers in the central Iraqi city of Kufa.

2 attacks on Iraqi police kill 4 south of Baghdad

Three Iraqi policemen die from attack: Third Iraqi policeman dies after drive-by shooting. Meanwhile, more US deaths: U.S. Soldier, Marine Killed in Iraq and Suicide bomber kills two in northern Iraq. Also: Car bomb kills six Iraqis: US army.

On Thursday: Iraqi Police Fire On Protesters In Basra, Killing One. What a way to treat those who want to become policemen.

Iraqi security forces in the southern city of Basra Thursday fired on protesters demanding jobs as policemen, killing one demonstrator and wounding two others, officials said.

A previously unknown group claims: Fallujah killings linked to Yassin's death.

"This is a gift from the people of Fallujah to the people of Palestine and the family of Sheik Ahmed Yassin who was assassinated by the criminal Zionists," said in the statement from the "Brigades of Martyr Ahmed Yassin".

After yesterday's horror, the war didn't stop: Three U.S. Troops Injured in Iraq Attack.

``We will pacify that city,'' [US General] Kimmitt said, pledging to hunt down those who carried out the killings. ``We will be back in Fallujah. It will be at the time and place of our choosing.''

Analysis, Commentary, & Domestic Reaction

Occupation Resistance Analysis

Juan Cole posts the following very interesting analysis by Ray Close, former CIA Station Chief for Saudi Arabia: The Real Meaning of Fallujah.

This means that the US Army will probably be obliged to leave Iraq before Bush, Rumsfeld & Company are prepared to manage the retreat as if it were a triumphant event for freedom; the Americans will therefore be seen by the rest of the world, and particularly the Muslim world, in much the same light as were the Israelis when they departed from Southern Lebanon ---as a frustrated and defeated occupation force expelled by victorious nationalists.

Controversy over Nightline's recitation of the dead GIs: Analysis: The politics of 'The Fallen'. See also: Uproar over 'Nightline' war casualties list grows. While this show is a good idea, when will US t.v. show the thousands upon thousands of Iraqi dead?

A commentary from Israel: Remember Falluja.

Paul Krugman dares say the obvious, that the US no longer controls Iraqi destiny, that all the options being considered are failures: In Front of your nose.

The new Tomgram contains two important analyses of the: Oil wars.

While the new poll of Iraqis shows they don't think much of Bush's Iraq policies [see Occupation section], a new poll of Americans shows we don't think its so great either: Bush's approval rating at all-time low - poll.

Less than half, 47 percent, now say the United States did the right thing taking military action in Iraq, the lowest support recorded in CBS News/New York Times polls since the war began."

The Secret Service investigates 15-year-old art student for drawing ant-war pictures: Anti-war art brings US Secret Service visit

Warning! Satire Ahead? This couldn't be real, could it? The Iraqi Alamo: A CNN/CIA Scenario.

I couldn't believe it! Two front-row tickets to see Muqtada And The Mehdi Fedayeen in their Farewell Performance at the Apollo Mosque in Najaf. A steal at a grand a piece.

In a remarkable change, Sen. Frank Lautenberg attacked the Chickenhawks, and chief among them the Vice President: Defending Kerry, senator blasts 'chickenhawks': Lautenberg criticizes Cheney for questioning record.

52 former diplomatic officials in Britain rebel, penning a letter condemning Blair's poodle-like foreign policy approach: Former ambassadors unite to condemn Blair's foreign policy. The actual letter: A letter to Blair: Your Middle East policy is doomed, say diplomats.

Matthew Yglesias points out that, in their pursuit of John Kerry's election, Democrats, followed by the press, have ignored the monstrosity of a certified defender of terrorists and mass murders being appointed US ambassador to Iraq,to organize the death squads there, one assumes: Our Man in Baghdad: Hardly anybody seems to have noticed that John Negroponte is going to be a diplomatic disaster.

Josh Frank discusses: Who Would Jesus Occupy? Ten Reasons to Oppose the US Occupation of Iraq

Maureen Down describes Bushworld: The Orwellian Olsens.

Heather Mallick reflects on her feelings upon learning of the deaths of mercenaries in Iraq: I pledge allegiance to my paycheque. Tom Engelhardt likewise comments on the world of occupation through the use of brutal mercenaries hired to keep the "locals" in line: Custer battles Iraqis in Alamo.

[I pledge::] Thinking versus feeling: I think I shall no longer give a damn about the fate of mercenaries. Their deaths are predictable workplace accidents. (I bet a lot of Blackwater employees are wishing they hadn't lied on their résumé about speaking conversational Farsi. They should have said they were allergic to sand.) The corporation didn't care about them, they cared less for the corporation, and they sold their bodies to the highest bidder. The last consideration in this whole reeking equation was the welfare of the Iraqi citizen.
[Custer:] The Bush administration has for months now been hyping the infiltration of dangerous and unscrupulous "foreign fighters" into Iraq. As it happens they've been right. According to Brookings Institute expert Peter W. Singer, "We're talking somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 private personnel, and that is expected to rise to 30,000 when the coalition hands over power to Iraqis on 30 June." These men, living in their own Wild West, are, for some Iraqis, "the most hated and humiliating aspect" of an occupation which probably couldn't continue without them. As the different "security contractors" mesh more closely with each other, they are, in a sense, becoming the real "coalition" in Iraq.

A new poll shows that most Americans still believe there is was a strong link between al-Quaeda and Iraq, and 45% believe that "clear evidence: of this link was found. A majority also believes in the existence of WMD (45%) or a major WMD development program (22%) in Iraq before the war. Finally, 72% believe in the tooth fairy! [Just kidding, I think?]: US Public Beliefs on Iraq and the Presidential Election (pdf). See the comments by Juan Cole: Poll: 57% of Americans Believe Saddam Gave Substantial Support to al-Qaeda. Rahul Mahajan comments on an ignored result in the survey: most Americans estimate Iraqi civilian casualties as 800, far below all independent estimates. Perhaps these cognitive distortions help explain why support for Bush goes up the more all hell breaks out: Bad month is a boon for Bush. An additional boost comes from: Bush's Oratory Helps Maintain Support for War.

[Juan Cole:] If nearly half the country cannot even see that things are going badly wrong in Iraq, one despairs that anyone will work up the political will to try to fix the problems before it is too late.

Warning! Satire Ahead? Andrew Noakes reports in DeadBrain that Plans for new Bush statue to replace Saddam ruin in Baghdad. Further, Photos of President Bush banned "to protect relatives". Check out the entire DeadBrain archive: After Saddam: The aftermath of the war in Iraq.

Robert Fisk comments, in his usual impassioned prose, on the sophisticated suppression of virtually all criticism of Israel in the US and elsewhere. As a Bostonian, I'm disturbed to read about the disgraceful behavior of our Museum of Fine Arts: A Warning to Those Who Dare to Criticize Israel in the Land of Free Speech.

But then, what's the point when Webster's Third New International Dictionary defines "anti-Semitism" as "opposition to Zionism: sympathy with opponents of the state of Israel".

Iraqi blogger Raed Jarrar is proposing a road map to resolve the Iraq situation. Here is installment 1: Friday, April 23, 2004.

US endorses desperate measures! As least he's someone the Bush gang knows how to work with: Saddam Hussein to be Re-instated as Iraqi Leader.

In his Commentary on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Hearing on Iraq: Nathan Brown clearly delineates the extent to which "sovereignty" will be circumscribed and the US is already backtracking on its promise os elections.

Social psychologists and psychoanalysts would not be surprised. People delude themselves in order to justify prior beliefs and actions. Thus, Bush's continuous attempts to sow confusion fall on fertile ears: US Majority Still Believe in Iraq's WMD, al-Qaeda Ties. The actual poll report: Americans Continue to Believe Iraq Supported Al Qaeda, Had WMD: Few Perceive Experts as Saying Contrary (pdf).

Before the election, Kerry wants to disabuse voters of any illusions he represents a serious alternative in foreign policy: James P. Pinkerton: Kerry's plan for Iraq is not all that different from Bush's and Bush, Kerry Stances on Iraq Beginning to Merge.

Here one can listen to: excerpts from Bob Woodward's interview on Sixty Minutes. Here are excerpts from Bob Woodward's book Plan of Attack: Excerpt 1: 'We're Going to Have to Go to War,' Bush Told Rice; Excerpt 2: With CIA Push, Movement to War Accelerated: Agency's Estimate of Saddam Hussein's Arsenal Became the White House's Rationale for Invasion. Excerpt 3: Cheney Was Unwavering in Desire to Go to War: Tension Between Vice President and Powell Grew Deeper as Both Tried to Guide Bush's Decision Blair Steady in Support: 'I'm There to the Very End,' Prime Minister Told Bush U.S. Aimed for Hussein as War Began: CIA Informants Told of His Suspected Whereabouts.

Congressional Democrats seem to know the transfer of "sovereignty" is a farce, but they don't seem to propose an alternative: US Senators Question Impact of Iraq Power Transfer. Senator McCain is unhappy: McCain blasts use of Iraq as 'political weapon'.

Juan Cole's Prepared Testimony for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (pdf)

Mona Eltahawy thanks Bush for teaching the Arab world the importance of fighting for freedom (against the Americans) and the futility of sectarian divisions: Why the Arab world can thank Bush.

Kerry in deep trouble. bob Woodward's new book contains word that Karl Rove expressed delight that the Democratic nominee was to be Kerry and not Dean, because Kerry couldn't credibly criticize the administration's disastrous Iraq war. Now Nader openly calls for a US troop pullout. Kerry may manage to please none of the people none of the time. Can Kerry simultaneously try and out-Bush Bush and ride the anybody-but-Bush wave to the White House? Nader calls for troop withdrawal from Iraq. Meanwhile, Kerry takes back the only honest words he ever uttered: Kerry hones statements on the Vietnam War: Use of 'atrocities' inappropriate, he says. Perhaps, not surprisingly, despite all the scandals in the administration: Poll Shows New Gains For Bush: Lead Over Kerry Widens On Issues of Security.

I wish he would just repeat what he said when he was 27 years old before the Senate," Nader said. "Which is, 'How do you tell a soldier to die for a mistake?' " He accused the Massachusetts senator of trying to "out-Bush Bush" on Iraq. Kerry has sought in recent days to stress that he, like President Bush, would "stay the course" in Iraq to ensure the country's stability as U.S. overseers negotiated a restoration of sovereignty....
Countering Kerry and Bush, Nader proposed a plan to replace U.S. troops by developing an international peacekeeping force under U.N. auspices, holding elections as soon as possible under international supervision and sending in U.S. humanitarian aid to the country. "The way to save U.S. and Iraqi lives and reverse the escalating spiral of violence is for the United States to go back home," Nader said. "The peace movement in this country's going to have a very interesting choice: whether they're going to basically support two pro-war candidates or whether they're going to support a muscular peace candidate."

This analysis from Scott Peterson of the Christian Science Monitor asks what cost the apparent American "victory" in Falluja. Is the US willing to compete with Saddam in its use of terror? Tough US tactics quell Fallujah unrest, but at what cost? In another piece, Mike Davis discusses the Falluja battle in the context of the US military's extensive preparations for urban warfare to keep the poor of the earth in their place: The Pentagon as Global Slumlord.

Bush lied to public about meeting in 2001 to prepare Iraq war, Bob Woodward reports in his new book: Bush told public that important Iraq meeting with war commander was about Afghanistan.

Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni says "I told you so": Retired general assails U.S. policy on Iraq: Warnings ignored, says retired Marine.

[About Rumsfeld:] "I'm surprised that he is surprised because there was a lot of us who were telling him that it was going to be thus," said Zinni, a Marine for 39 years and the former commander of the U.S. Central Command. "Anyone could know the problems they were going to see. How could they not?"

In an important article, Juan Cole draws the connections between the Palestinian and Iraqi occupations, and their respective resistances: Turning into Israel? Outraged by President Bush's embrace of Ariel Sharon and the bloody U.S. assault on Fallujah, the Arab world is linking America's occupation with Israel's. That's ominous. And Rabbi Michael Lerner analyzes the Bush-Sharon relationship: I'll Scratch Your Bank... . Robert Fisk also comments on the Sharon-Bush love fest and its relation to Iraq: George Bush has legitimised terrorism: What better recruiting sergeant could Bin Laden have than the President of the United States? Additionally, the apal nuncio in Iraq criticizes the occupation: Papal nuncio gives grim report from Iraq .

New Bob Woodward book confirms that Bush ordered an Iraq war plan soon after Sept. 11, on Nov. 21, 2001 to be precise, but adds the detail that he was so concerned about word getting out that he hid it from other members of his national security team. It also indicates the degree to which Bush relied on Cheney: Book Alleges Secret Iraq War Plan: AP Exclusive: Woodward Book Says Bush Secretly Ordered Iraq War Plan After U.S. Afghan Invasion. No longer able to sustain their lie: White House confirms: Bush ordered up Iraq plan in November 2001.

[Bush, as quoted in book:] "I knew what would happen if people thought we were developing a potential war plan for Iraq," Bush is quoted as telling Woodward. "It was such a high-stakes moment and ... it would look like that I was anxious to go to war. And I'm not anxious to go to war."

Must Read! Former director of communications for the UN mission in Iraq Salim Lone attributes the cause of the recent uprising to the UN going along with the US stifling of Iraqi democracy, through refusing to allow elections of a democratically-drawn-up constitution. He further believes that the UN has lost much of its credibility throughout the arab world as a result: The U.S. reaps a whirlwind in Iraq.

On both the question of elections and a democratically written constitution, the United States has been on the wrong side of the equation. As a result, its actions undercut its own central claim that it fought this immensely costly war for Iraqis' freedom from tyranny. The basis for the current Shia revolt was, therefore, being steadily laid by such short-sighted, anti-democratic policies, as well as by the growing public refrain that the United States would need to station troops in Iraq for years in order to ensure that the country stayed on the "right" path.

John Kerry criticizes Bush Iraq policy. He wants the UN to take over certain functions, but, He insists that the expanded military force be under US command. Thus, in his strategy, the same people who are massacring Fallujans and are sabotaging attempts to resolve the Sadr conflict peacefully will still be in charge of the country, free to do whatever they desire. In other words, the US remains in charge and the UN and a few Iraqis provide the fig leaf: A Strategy for Iraq by Senator John Kerry.

For Tom Engelhardt, the names of US operations in Iraq tells the story of an occupation aimed only at domination, not leavened with even a sliver of understanding: The American legacy in Iraq.

e already have a historical legacy on the record -- a legacy of sorts that begins with the name Operation Iraqi Freedom. Had the invasion of Iraq been more realistically named, it would have been called something like Operation Bush Administration Freedom to Act Any Way We Chose in a Foreign and Conquered Land.

Martin Sieff in Salon provides another analysis of the background to the US crackdown on al-Sadr. He argues that the man behind the idea is Ahmed Chalabi: When Puppets Pull the Strings: Ahmed Chalabi, the neocons' choice to run Iraq, appears to have been responsible for the disastrous decision to move against Muqtada al-Sadr.

The lies in Australia: Australian defence adviser 'sacked for refusing to sex up WMD reports'. And in Denmark: Whistleblower claims Danish premier lied.

An analysis of the strategy behind the hostage takings: Hostage-taking in Iraq could reshape conflict: Analysts say weaker links in US-led occupying coalition could break apart following spate of kidnappings.

The White House tells us its "Fact of the Day": Iraqis Reject Violence. I don't think going to Mars will be good enough for these guys. they've already left the solar system!

Raed [known for "Where is Raed"] gives his thoughtful, nuanced, view of the current conflict: The Uprising.

Let me declare some points: AsSadr is NOT reflecting a minority of Iraqis, this is a stupid big lie. Whether we liked him or not, he is the political and religious leader for MILLIONS of Iraqis in the southern region… There are 15 million Iraqis living in the south, and another 5 million in Baghdad, I can say that 5 to 7 millions of them can be considered as AsSadr followers. AsSadr is NOT a mere twenty-something year old guy, that is playing games. Whether we liked him or not, he is a phenomenon.... AsSadr is THE GOVERNMENT in most of the cities of the south: Amara, Kut, Nasryya and Diwanyya and Simawa partially, and Najaf partially (Kufa is a small city in Najaf that is the center of AsSadr).
Most of the people that I know (including myself) were against this war… and still are… ... t was because we understood that the modifying must come from INSIDE… even if it took decades or centuries. I know that I can’t come to Texas and tell people what to do… Or to London… or to Madrid…
All of these military steps that Bremer is taking now remind Iraqis of the Palestinian crisis, everything related to mass-public punishment will not give good results. Falluja under the siege is the wrong thing to happen, bombing Shia residential areas is the wrong signal to give, and saying lies in public is killing the hope that the CPA would be credible ever.

Kathy Kelly, on her way to jail today, reflected on the meaning of "pacification" [what the US claims it is trying to do to Falluja]: Pacification: Worth the Price?.

Jonathan Schell shed a new light on some of the recent talk out of Washington, and its green Zone suburb: The tunnel at the end of the light.

Instead of saying, "On June 30, the Coalition will hand over sovereignty to the Iraqi people," we should say, "On June 30, the re-election campaign of George W. Bush will hand over the appearance of responsibility for the rapidly deteriorating situation in Iraq to certain of its local appointees."
And the Iraqi people? They are busy, violently and otherwise, struggling for their own future. One of the organizers of the Sistani petition, Saad Taher, commented to Shadid, "America has a term: the rebuilding of Iraq. We are rebuilding ourselves. We want to create a new Iraqi personality. That's our task. That's not the Americans' task."

Ritt Goldstein looks at current events from a broader perspective of the issues facing the US and Iraq before and after June 30th, as Iraqi's realized that "sovereignty" is a con-game, with control remaining in US hands: Iraq revolt: Tactics of diversion.

As early as January, it was reported that both US State Department regional experts and the CIA believed a Shi'ite explosion was coming if the group perceived that a viable democracy wasn't likely. Speculation exists that the current coalition moves against Muqtada could, in part, be a gamble aimed at controlling the timing and nature of that blast

Imperial Morality! The Washington Post editorializes in favor of the iron fist! Presumably, mass butchery is the way to bring "liberation", "freedom" and "democracy" to the corpses: A Necessary Fight.

But now that the conflict with the Mahdi Army has begun, U.S. commanders should not hesitate to act quickly and with overwhelming force.
The same could be said for the Marine operation that is developing in Fallujah.... Such offensive operations have a cost, in Iraqi and American lives, and in new televised images of violence from Iraq. Yet the alternative -- to step back from confrontation with Iraq's extremists -- would invite even worse trouble.

Powell plays the "aiding the enemy" card to attack Kennedy and attempt to silence critiques of war policy: Powell cautions Kennedy on Iraq remarks.

The New York Times editorial position: Get tough! Obsessing About the Calendar.

Justice would now seem to require both the arrest of Mr. Sadr, who has taken refuge in his mosque, as well as a demonstration of force in the city of Falluja, where Sunni mobs murdered and mutilated four American security guards last week. Inevitably, in Washington, military officials are talking about more troops. [What about the prosecution of those who launched as illegal war and occupation?]

For detailed analysis of events as they unfold, check out Juna Cole's latest, and articles below it: Mahdi Army Fights Coalition in Baghdad, Karbala, Basra: Takes control of Shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf. In addition to his in-depth understanding of Iraqi forces, Cole relays claims that the attack onSadr could be a rogue preemptive strike by the Pentagon, before the State Dept. increases it authority June 30th: Bush White House Deadlocked over Iraq.

Lawrence Pintak places the Shia-US conflict in Iraq in the broader context of the Shia role in the contemporary world: Taking on the Shi'ites: How America is Creating a Powerful New Enemy.

Naomi Klein is clear where blame lies for recent events: The U.S. is Sabotaging Stability in Iraq.

I heard the sound of freedom yesterday in Baghdad's Firdos Square, the famous plaza where the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled one year ago. It sounds like machine-gun fire....
But make no mistake: This is not the "civil war" that Washington has been predicting will break out between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. Rather, it is a war provoked by the U.S. occupation authority and waged by its forces against the growing number of Shiites who support Muqtada al-Sadr.... At first, Mr. Bremer responded to Mr. al-Sadr's growing strength by ignoring him; now he is attempting to provoke him into all-out battle....
On the surface, this chain of events is mystifying. With the so-called Sunni triangle in flames after the gruesome Fallujah attacks, why is Mr. Bremer pushing the comparatively calm Shia south into battle? Here's one possible answer: Washington has given up on its plans to hand over power to an interim Iraqi government on June 30, and is now creating the chaos it needs to declare the handover impossible.
A continued occupation will be bad news for George Bush on the campaign trail, but not as bad as if the handover happens and the country erupts, an increasingly likely scenario given the widespread rejection of the legitimacy of the interim constitution and the U.S.-appointed government. It's a plan that might make sense in meetings in Washington, but here in Baghdad it looks like pure madness. By sending the new Iraqi army to fire on the people it is supposed to be protecting, Mr. Bremer has destroyed what slim hope it had of gaining credibility with an already highly mistrustful population.

Commentary from Jim Lobe: Shiite Uprising Signals Double Trouble for U.S. - Experts.

The Pew poll finds support for bush's Iraq policy down 19 points since January, to 40%, and his overall approval at its lowest recorded level: 43%. This before this weekend's insurrection: Support for Bush on Iraq Falling, Poll Shows.

An analysis by Mark LeVine, strongly recommended by Juan Cole: Seeing Iraq through the globalization lens.

New evidence from a former British Ambassador that Bush and Blair agreed to invade Iraq on Sept. 20, 2001, only nine days after 9-11: Bush and Blair made secret pact for Iraq war: Decision came nine days after 9/11. Ex-ambassador reveals discussion .

bush gives new meaning to Chickehawk: Pelosi critical of joint Bush-Cheney appearance before 9/11 panel Democratic leader: 'It's embarrassing'.

The UN denounces violent suppression of antiwar protests in New York and Oakland: U.N. cites police for being too forceful at rally: Oakland police accused of violence against activists.

Over a year after Colin Powell presented his tissue of lies that independent sources, such as Hans Blix and len Rangwala [see: Claims in Secretary of State Colin Powell’s UN Presentation concerning Iraq, 5th Feb 2003] saw through immediately, Powell finally admits that one of his nuttier claims was false: Powell admits Iraq evidence mistake. See the generous analysis by Paul Reynolds of the BBC: Iraq: Mindset behind intelligence failures. Of course, the BBC doesn't entertain the possibility that Powell and gang were simply lying through their teeth. The Guardian reports that the US was well-warned that the claims were from an unreliable source: Germans accuse US over Iraq weapons claim. The Americans are evidently now making up tall tales about being tricked by the Germans. Presumably, as with Richard Clarke, they hope to make the story so convoluted that no one can follow it. For humor's sake, take a look at: Full Text of Powell's original Speech to the UN.

Two more former intelligence officials, one from the National Security Council, the other the former head of Middle East and terrorism intelligence for the Department of Defense confirm Richard Clarke's account: Ex-Bush National Security Council Member: How Bush Bungled The War on Terror.

Paul Krugman point out, the White and CNN both spread false rumors and then lie about it: Smear Without Fear.

On Tuesday, I mentioned remarks by CNN's Wolf Blitzer; here's a fuller quote, just to remove any ambiguity: "What administration officials have been saying since the weekend, basically, that Richard Clarke from their vantage point was a disgruntled former government official, angry because he didn't get a certain promotion. He's got a hot new book out now that he wants to promote. He wants to make a few bucks, and that his own personal life, they're also suggesting there are some weird aspects in his lif
Stung by my column, Mr. Blitzer sought to justify his words, saying that his statement was actually a question, and also saying that "I was not referring to anything charged by so-called unnamed White House officials as alleged today." Silly me: I "alleged" that Mr. Blitzer said something because he actually said it, and described "so-called unnamed" officials as unnamed because he didn't name them.

New action in the Valerie Plame leak case: Prosecutors Are Said to Have Expanded Inquiry Into Leak of C.I.A. Officer's Name.

Another ex-government employee claims lying about 9-11: 'I saw papers that show US knew al-Qa'ida would attack cities with aeroplanes': Whistleblower the White House wants to silence speaks to The Independent

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd imagines the letter from White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales to the Sept. 11 Commission: Charlie McCarthy Hearings

The President at all times, even on trips to the men's room, will be accompanied by the Vice President. The Commission must agree in writing that it will not pose any questions directly to the President. Mr. Bush's statements will be restricted to asides on Dick Cheney's brushoffs, as in "Just like he said," "Roger that" and "Ditto."

The stench of corruption bothers some: Statement of the Family Steering Committee Regarding the Need for an Independent, Nonpartisan 9/11 Commission. On the same page, but lower is: The Family Steering Committee Statement Regarding Condoleezza Rice's Testimony.

Fred Kaplan asks, why havn't George Tenet and Colin Powell vigorously challenged Richard Clarke's account: The Dogs That Didn't Bark: Why Colin Powell and George Tenet aren't bashing Richard Clarke..

Someone about to prep Rumsfeld flubbed and left his notes at Starbucks: Note to Eric: U Need 2B More Carefuls. Here are the Pentagon's Papers (pdf).

Did you hear the one about the guy at Starbucks? No? Okay. A guy walks into the Starbucks at Connecticut Avenue and R Street NW on Sunday to get his favorite latte, and sits down at a table. On the table, he spots four pieces of paper. One is stationery with the heading "Office of the Secretary of Defense," and right under that "The Special Assistant." It has a penciled map of directions from the Pentagon to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's house in Northwest Washington. Another sheet says, "Eric's Telephone Log."
Previous Month Archive: March, 2004
Occupation Resistance Analysis

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