Fighting continues across Iraq, civilians continue to pay the price
Violence continued to rage across Iraq this week as fighting between insurgents and U.S. forces intensified. Three days of U.S. air strikes in Falluja have killed at least twelve civilians. In northern Iraq U.S. troops have killed at least twenty seven Iraqis. Fighting in Sadr city and other places have lead to the deaths of 16 U.S. troops this week. Meanwhile, kidnappings continue to be used as a tactic by the insurgency, as gunmen abducted the U.S.-appointed deputy governor of Anbar province on Wednesday and in Bahgdad, two Italian women working for a humanitarian group have been kidnapped.
U.S. Troop casualties hit 1,000 dead
This week the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq topped 1,000, a fact much reported on in the mainstream press. While the White House attempts to spin the story to minimize any political fallout, more and more family members of U.S. soldiers are speaking out aginst the occupation of Iraq. Less reported than the number of U.S. dead has been the number of Iraqis killed since the occupation/insurrection started eighteen months ago. In his article ‘Despair Over the Forgotten Victims of Iraq War‘, Patrick Cockburn writes from Bahgdad about Iraqi responses to the mounting death toll. Exact numbers for the number of Iraqis killed are not available but a recent article from the Associated Press suggests that there could be 10,000 deaths in the Bahgdad area alone.
Al Jezeera ban extended by Iraq Interim Government
Iraqi security officers stormed al-Jazeera’s Baghdad offices this weekend after the US-backed interim government banned the Arabic television station from broadcasting in the country. The decision to shut down Al-Jazeera indefinately in Iraq was made by prime minister, Ayad Allawi, apparently due to their failure to support the US occupation. The International Press Institute denounced the ban as a “setback for Iraqi democracy”. Al-Jazeera reporter Abd al-Adhim Muhammad defended the news stations’ Bahgdad office from government charges that they present a “false image” of the Iraqi people, “We have been doing what any TV station would do if they were in our shoes.” “Iraqi officials want neutral coverage from their point of view. They blame us for not presenting the after-Saddam era achievements. But when we ask them what their achievements are, we do not get clear answers.”
Najaf: the aftermath – News and commentary
A week ago fighting in the southern Iraqi holy city of Najaf came to an end after a cease-fire was brokered. Government officials have started to calculate the cost of the destruction caused by three weeks of fighting between U.S. forces and the Mehdi Army. The Ministry of Health coordinator in Najaf has put that the total number killed at 570 with 785 injured. Government officials stated that a total of 72 shops, 50 hotels, 90 homes, three schools and dozens of cars were destroyed in the fighting, including irreparable destruction of the historic old part of the city. Important government offices have also suffered extensive damage, including to hospitals, police stations, and power and water supplies. As bad as these figures may seem, they may only be a taste of things to come according to an analysis of the Najaf ceasefire by Milan Rai titled ‘Truce Or Trap?’ at ElectronicIraq.net.
Halliburton may lose logistics contract in Iraq
According to Halliburton Watch, the U.S. military recommended the termination of Halliburton’s Iraq logistics contract due to numerous reports of fraud and mismanagement. The military called for splitting up the contract so that companies other than Halliburton are in control. The Iraq war has seen an unprecedented level of military logistical services performed by private companies rather than military or governmental entities. This drive to privatize the military was accelerated by Dick Cheney in 1992 while he was secretary of defense. Seeing as Cheney was the former CEO of Halliburton, it was no suprise when Halliburton was awarded contracts by the Bush/Cheneyto administration to take over logistical services for the Iraq occupation. The recent army move to take logistical contracts away from Halliburton is one of many rebukes of Cheney’s privatization policy. According to Halliburto Watch: “the Pentagon recently fired Halliburton from an Iraqi gasoline importation contract and assigned it to an office within the Pentagon. The result was a 50 percent reduction in gasoline prices charged to the U.S. taxpayer. Moreover, Halliburton pays truck drivers $80,000 per year to haul supplies around Iraq, but soldiers once did that work for one-third of that salary, suggesting the cost to U.S. taxpayers has skyrocketed because of Cheney’s 1992 privatization.”