Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Iraq: Violence + More Violence - Electricity - Potable Water = No Gratitude

Thunder Bay (Ontario) Chronicle-Journal: 75 killed by bombing at Baghdad mosque; U.S. offensive rolls north of capital
A truck bomb struck a Shiite mosque Tuesday in central Baghdad, killing 75 people and wounding more than 200, even as about 10,000 U.S. soldiers northeast of the capital used heavily armoured vehicles to battle their way into a rebel sanctuary.

The thunderous explosion at the Khillani mosque in the capital’s commercial area of Sinak sent smoke billowing over concrete buildings. On Sunday, officials lifted a curfew aimed at preventing retaliatory violence after last week’s bombing of a Shiite mosque in Samarra.

Gunfire erupted shortly after the blast, which a police officer said went off near the Khillani mosque in the commercial area of Sinak.

A police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the vehicle that exploded was parked in a lot near the mosque and it damaged the outer wall of the building.

The mosque’s imam, Sheik Saleh al-Haidari, said it was a truck bomb and the explosion hit worshippers as they were leaving afternoon prayers.
It's a good thing American troops are keeping a lid on things, otherwise Baghdad -- and all of Iraq -- could get violent.

Dawn (Pakistan): Iraq: Over 150 killed, 255 injured in a day of violence
Nearly 150 people were and more than 255 injured in four major acts of violence and clashes in various parts of Iraq, officials confirmed Tuesday.

A car bomb killed at least 75 people and wounded 130 near the Shi'ite Khilani mosque in central Baghdad, police said. The mosque was badly damaged in the blast.

In Baquba, the U.S. military said it had killed 22 suspected militants in the early hours of a major offensive against al Qaeda in Diyala province. The offensive involves 10,000 soldiers and is one of the military's biggest against the Sunni Islamist militant group in Iraq.

On the other hand, two days of fighting between gunmen loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqi police have killed 35 people and wounded 125 in Nassiriya, a hospital doctor said.

The Iraqi army killed 15 suspected insurgents and arrested 65 others during the past 24 hours in different districts of Baghdad, the Defence Ministry said.

Separately, gunmen attacked a Kurdish army unit and killed five soldiers and wounded 15 near Baquba.

Meanwhile, the bodies of 33 people were found shot in different districts of Baghdad on Monday, police said.
No matter how bad it gets, it could always get worse -- and surely it would be worse if not for the heroic Americans.

Or at least that's what they keep telling us.

TIME: Why Iraq's Shi'ites Aren't Retaliating
If appeals for restraint are working now, it's because they're backed up by the force of American arms.
Residents of Baghdad often blame their many problems — everything from electricity shortages and soaring gas prices to unemployment and government corruption — on the Americans. Just this once, they might be inclined to give thanks.
But then again they may have to wait awhile...

TIME again: Surge Architect: More Time Needed
Fred Kagan, the man widely seen as the "architect" of the military surge in Iraq, sees signs of progress but warns that September is too early to make a final decision about how well it has achieved its goals. Instead, in an interview with TIME.com, Kagan recommended waiting until the end of the year before judging the operation's success.

Even then, he added, it might be some months before Iraqis make the political compromises necessary to bring lasting stability to the country.
What sort of political compromises would be necessary to bring lasting stability to the country? How about if they pass a law that says foreigners get all their oil? Would that do it?

Oh, and speaking of electricity shortages ...

Dahr Jamail: A Dream Called Electricity
Simmering in the summer heat, Iraqis now have a dream called electricity.

It is a part of the bigger dream of reconstruction that collapsed. On all measurable levels, the infrastructure is worse than under the former regime of Saddam Hussein, even when it was crippled by the harshest economic sanctions in modern history.

Iraqis lack security, jobs, potable water, and these days when it really pinches, electricity.

"Electricity is life," said 45-year-old Zahra Aziz, a schoolteacher and mother of four, using a hand-fan in an attempt to cool herself. "Modern life depends on power, and we do not have that here. Having no electricity means having no water, no light, no airconditioning, and in other words, no life."

Most people IPS spoke to in Baghdad said they get one hour of electricity in 24 hours.

"June is a very hot month, and this permanent electricity failure is just another way of giving Iraqis slow death," Umayma Salim, a doctor who quit her work at a hospital in Baghdad due to security threats told IPS.

"We are getting all kinds of diseases -- sunstrokes among those work outdoors to provide their children food, and psychological effects on all people. The weak functioning of hospitals and other infrastructure facilities have brought all kinds of complications of health and life."

"We cannot supply frozen and cooled food properly because of electricity failures," Jamal Rfai, a supermarket owner in Baghdad told IPS. "We bring very limited quantities and if there is any curfew or trouble in the street, then it is all wasted because of the heat, and of course no one will compensate our loss."

Workers at water service stations speak of incessant electricity cuts. "The main problem we are facing is electricity supply," a worker who gave his name as Ahmed told IPS. "We have our standby generators, but they are meant to be used in emergency, not for so many hours a day as we do nowadays. Besides, the fuel supply is also not sufficient."

Waiting time at petrol stations in Baghdad continues to average more than 24 hours. People sleep in their cars, or hire others to sit in their cars for them. And there is no guarantee there will be petrol at the end of the wait.

"It is deliberate damage caused by the occupation," Salim Abdul-Sattar, a local politician from Baghdad told IPS. "To cut electricity is to cut the main vein of life, and that is the main goal of the occupation."

Abdul Sattar believes that the occupation authorities "could have provided electricity in a few months if they wanted to, but this problem is useful for what they call creative chaos."

Most of Iraq faced near total electricity failure last week. Iraqi media outlets like al-Hurra and al-Iraqiyah which are known to be heavily influenced by the U.S. government broadcast messages claiming that terrorists had attacked the main electricity stations, causing power outages.

"We are now used to hearing such lies," a government engineer who works at one of the stations told IPS.
You see? The Iraqis don't believe anything. No wonder they're not making the necessary political compromises. No wonder they're insufficiently grateful.

Dawn: Heavy mortar bomb attack on Baghdad Green Zone
Militants fired a spate of mortar bombs at Baghdad's Green Zone on Tuesday, Reuters reporters said. Plumes of smoke could be seen rising from the heavily fortified compound, which houses the U.S. embassy and Iraqi government ministries. It was unclear if there were any casualties.