Friday, October 28, 2005

A massive surge in US casualties - evidence of previous under-reporting?

New data just released shows a large increase in American casualties reported last week. 771 wounded are reported for the week 19th-25 October compared to 157 for the previous week! A quick glance suggests that these figures may result from a publishing of backlogged unreported casulaties from earlier this year. An analysis of the wounded:dead ratio should help to clarify what appears to have been a previous systematic under reporting of the number of wounded.

If this is indeed the case why should the back log be published now? With the Bush regieme under alot of pressure this week and reports of rifts even at the highest levels between Cheney and Bush it does make interesting timing...

Updated 04/11/05: It is now clear that the apparent surge was due to mis-reporting by the US DOD. However, in the last 3 weeks US casualties have increased by over 600. The trend remains upwards with a 4 week moving average of about 20 fatalities and 150 wounded per week. For full details go here

Resignation or resignation

A lawyer from Tucson, Arizona sends an open letter to the US government:

"I hereby resign my position as a silent accomplice to your perpetration of and involvement in bullying, rape, and murder. I will no longer sit dumbly by while you, purporting to be my government, fabricate and manipulate evidence in order to engage in illegal wars of aggression. I refuse to any longer tacitly support your policies of torture, abuse, extraordinary rendition, and "disappearing." I resign from aiding and abetting your hypocritical regime that preaches democracy abroad while subverting it at home. .......
We're coming for you."

Sounds like he's not best pleased. You can read the rest of his letter here

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

2,000 US troops dead in Iraq

Click for details of US casualties The bloody milestone of 2,000 US troop fatalities has now been reached in the Iraq war. Add to this the 15,000+ wounded and the full scale of the horror for the American people starts to become apparent. With every sign of continuing and escalating resistance to their presence, the US and UK forces are facing a possible breakdown in moral and resolve.

Unfortunately, all this suffering pales into insignificance compared to the toll of slaughter that has been wreaked on the people of Iraq. The only quasi bring-it-on winners so far are the reelected Bush and Blair, and of course Al Queda who have seen a huge boost in recruitment and support. Oh what a lovely war...

The constitution was reportedly approved today but will this impact on the insurgency? Now that the Shia and Kurds have what they desire the incentive to tolerate the foreign occupation may rapidly dissipate. As for the Sunnis, their resentment can only increase. Divide and rule was always a risky strategy for the US - the next few months may reveal just how far their gamble has paid off or how deep they have sunk in the blood of an intractable multi-dimensional conflict.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Want to start a new war? - British government says a democratic process is purely optional!

A bill proposed by former cabinet minister Clare Short to force a vote in parliament before sending troops to war was blocked by the government in parliment today. Downing Street had earlier said the legislation would have been impractical.

After four hours of debate, the bill was "talked out" by Commons leader Geoff Hoon, meaning there will not be a vote on whether to refer it to the committee stage, the next step in a bill's progress. This in effect means the bill now stands no chance of becoming law.

Clare Short speaking in support of her bill commented that " ...having recently lived through the way in which the decision to go to war in Iraq was made, I strongly think that we owe it to our armed forces and the reputation of our country to put in place arrangements which will ensure that the decision to go to war is more thoroughly considered."

No chance while Blair remains in power, after all, when he decides the time is right to join the attack Iran we don't want any pesky parlimentary procedure to get in the way as the real men head to Tehran.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Still waiting for Gordot.......

Labour in action - click to enjoy!
"There are two ways one can approach Iraq: fix it or leave it alone.

Blair can't fix it, because he helped to break it.

And he just can't leave it alone.

We will not be able to get beyond Iraq until someone is held accountible.

We cannot hope to end the cycle of terror until we rid ourselves of those who would treat the threat so rashly as to use it as a shield against criticism, an excuse for ineptitude and a justification for their own crimes against humanity.

We won't wait forever, Labour. We shouldn't be waiting at all!"

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

US airstrikes kill more civilians in Iraq

Reuters reports that large numbers of civilians have been killed yet again in US air strikes in Iraq.

BAGHDAD, 18 October (IRIN) - Two days of US air attacks against insurgents in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi have caused heavy casualties among the city's civilian population, a doctor and a senior Iraqi government official in Ramadi said.

"We have received the bodies of 38 people in our hospital and among them were four children and five women," Ahmed al-Kubaissy, a senior doctor at Ramadi hospital, said on Monday night. "The relatives said they had been killed by air attacks in their homes and in the street."

Al-Kubaissy said his hospital had also treated 42 people injured in the air strikes on Ramadi, a stronghold of the Islamist insurgents, 110 km west of Baghdad.

A senior Iraqi government official in the city, said three houses had been totally destroyed in the air attacks on Sunday and Monday and 14 dead civilians had been found inside them. A further 12 civilians had been critically injured in the same air strikes, he added.

"I wish I could tell you everything I know, but I cannot," said the angry official, who asked that his name be withheld for security reasons.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Cindy Sheehan tactics come to London

Rose Gentle - from Military Families Against the War Rose Gentle and Susan Smith are two mothers whose sons were killed in the war in Iraq. Although they have been refused legal aid by the British government they are pursuing legal action to demand an inquiry as to why Tony Blair took this country into an illegal war.

They will be camping outside No 10 for 24 hours to directly confront Tony Blair with their case.

"Tony Blair has refused to meet me. We were told we would receive legal aid. Now it is denied us. We are being gagged." Rose Gentle

Tuesday 18 - Wednesday 19 October starting at 3 pm for 24 hours

British army in Iraq is at breaking point?

Army sources are warning that the mood among soldiers of all ranks is at its gloomiest since the invasion in March 2003. The outlook has become darker as the war proves increasingly intractable and much more dangerous than troops had expected.

A string of incidents in the past week has contributed to the sense of crisis:

* The Ministry of Defence has launched an inquiry into the apparent suicide of Captain Ken Masters, a military police investigator who was found hanged at his barracks in Basra.
* A decision by Private Troy Samuels, who was awarded a Military Cross seven months ago for his bravery under fire in Iraq, to abandon the military rather than return for another tour of duty.
* Seventy soldiers from Private Samuels' battalion, the Princess of Wales Regiment (1PWRR), have also decided to leave the Army during the past year rather than return to Iraq
* An RAF officer, Flt-Lt Malcolm Kendall-Smith, said he was prepared to face jail rather than serve in Iraq, in a war he considers to be illegal. He is to be court-martialled for "refusing to obey a lawful command" and is the first British officer to face criminal charges for challenging the legality of the war.

From the Independent

'Iranian bombs' actually came from British intelligence via the IRA

The Independent has reported that the eight British soldiers killed during ambushes in Iraq were the victims of a highly sophisticated bomb developed by Britsh intelligence and then used by the IRA.

The soldiers, who were targeted by insurgents as they travelled through the country, died after being attacked with bombs triggered by infra-red beams. The bombs were developed by the IRA using technology passed on by the security services in a botched "sting" operation more than a decade ago. This contradicts the British government's claims that Iran's Revolutionary Guard is helping Shia insurgents to make the devices.

"It may seem absurd that the security services were supplying technology to the IRA, but the strategy was sound. Unfortunately, no one could see back then that this technology would be used to kill British soldiers thousands of miles away in a different war."

Thursday, October 13, 2005

BBC Poll shows 54% want troops withdrawn from Iraq

The latest polling data on public perceptions of the invasion of Iraq and its consequences make grim reading for the British government.

Some 31% of the 1,024 people questioned by ICM Research wanted troops pulled out immediately, while 23% wanted a firm date set for withdrawal.

While 40% said UK troops should stay until Iraqi security forces were ready to take over, 27% said Iraq would never become a "stable democracy" and 17% thought it would take at least 10 years. A quarter predicted between three and 10 years.

The poll also showed that 33% thought taking military action had been the "right thing" to do and 57% the "wrong thing".

On the subject of terrorism in the UK, 73% of respondents thought the war in Iraq had made attacks more likely, 2% less likely and 22% that it had made no difference.

Can't fool all the people all the time...but you can continue to try

"I profoundly believe we have to see this through," said Mr Straw, who suggested Iraq would be stable in five to 10 years.

Mr Straw also said military action against Iran's alleged nuclear ambitions was "inconceivable". But he said it was not sensible to speculate over the tactics British commanders could use against those targeting their troops.

Hmm, make of that what you will....

The BBC Newsnight special programme on Iraq can be viewed here

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

British government is shaping the battlefield with Iran?

A high performance conical shaped charge, built to UK military specificationsThe British government has decided to release new claims about the role of Tehran in the attacks on British troops in Southern Iraq. These latest assertions, emanating from defense sources, claim that Iran's Revolutionary Guard trains bomb-makers in Iran and Lebanon who then go to Basra to attack British forces and train others in the use of hi tech roadside bombs.

This is clearly an attempt to directly implicate the Iranian government and indicates a further deterioration in relationships between the two administrations. The crucial question remains about the longer term military aims of the British and US. The more the uncertainty the greater the incentive for Iran to support resistance to the US/UK forces in Iraq. If the allegations about Iranian involvement are true then the greater the justification for an attack against Iran appears to become. A downward spiral that no doubt suits the long term ambitions of PNAC and others.

On a side issue it is interesting that British are citing the use of a particular type of weapon called a 'shaped charge' as evidence of Iranian involvement. A cursory Google search reveals these are widely available and sold for civilian as well as military applications. Examples of UK, Australian and US suppliers can be found here, here and here. The question therefore arises why should the use of these weapons should be taken as in any way implying Iranian involvement? The British government is going to face a continuous struggle for credibility in any issues relating to intelligence so long as this man remains in power.

Tags: Iraq Iran war

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Why does Britain accuse Iran of attacks now?

Britain has accused Iran of responsibility for explosions which have caused the deaths of all eight UK soldiers killed in Iraq this year. An unnamed British official, briefing correspondents in London, blamed Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

While the Iranians have denied the accusation, the official said they provided the technology to a Shia group in southern Iraq. While Britain has hinted at an Iranian link before, this is the first specific allegation to be made.

The BBC comments that:

"They may feel there is little to lose right now by making such accusations, given that diplomatic relations are already low following the breakdown of talks over Iran's nuclear programme"

I view the question the other way. What does Britain stand to gain by briefing on this now, albeit by an unnamed official?
Four possibilities spring to mind:

- warn off future assistance for insurgent groups
- pre-warn the British public of an expected future increase in casualties
- false flag: attribute indigenous resistance to occupation as foreign interference
- up the ante as US/Israeli military action approaches

It does seem inconceivable that a full scale military intervention would be launched now or even in the medium term due to the big military and political hole the Americans and British have dug for themselves in Iraq. Nonetheless, Bush has a few years to go and the recent speech by the Iranian president at the UN GA will no doubt have strengthened the hand of the hawks in Washington. It could of course just be a straight forward warning to back off. If that is true then it presents a dilemma to elements of the Iranian government - stand back while Iraq is stabilized for US purposes knowing full well that they are next in line on the axis of evil; or assist the resistance movement just enough to ensure that the US and Brits stay safely bogged down in the Iraq quagmire. Hard call?

Tags: Iraq Iran war

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

War crimes by insurgent groups in Iraq

Click image to go to the HRW site We have posted repeatedly on the failure of US and other occupation troops in Iraq to comply with International Humanitarian Law and their largely unreported role in the killing of civillians. However, atrocities are of course being committed by all sides in this multi-dimensional conflict, and today we highlight a new report by Human Rights Watch which documents abuses by various Iraqi insurgent/resistance groups. Groups such as al-Qaida in Iraq and Ansar al-Sunnah have claimed responsibility for attacks in mosques, markets, bus stations and other civilian areas in Iraq. Where the primary target is civillian there is no doubt that these comprise horrific war crimes or acts of terror. However, it is important to remember that there are numerous insugent groups operating in Iraq, not all of which may be engaged in war crimes.

HRW say the disregard for the lives of civilians in the mostly Muslim country is backfiring in terms of popular support for the insurgency elsewhere in the Arab world. "People we have spoken with in the Middle East are increasingly repulsed by the behavior of insurgent groups in Iraq, even if they support a withdrawal of U.S. troops," said Sara Leah Whitson, the region's Human Rights Watch director.

"There are no justifications for targeting civilians, in Iraq or anywhere else," Whitson said. "Armed groups as well as governments must respect the laws of war."

The HRW press release and report are available online.

Tags: Iraq terrorism war crimes

Monday, October 03, 2005

Tony Blair and terrorism: is it provocation or incitement?

Blair's role in reducing our national security and social cohesion is powerfully argued by Bloggerheads. But is provoking the same as incitement or even glorification? Perhaps that ludicrously ill defined piece of potential legislation could turn out to be useful after all.

Meanhile another voice of the establishment lines up to question the governments untenable position over Iraq. The former top mandarin at the Ministry of Defence, Sir Michael Quinlan, writes in the Financial Times: "Perhaps we shall soon be - if we are not already - doing more harm by staying as perceived occupiers than by departing."