Iraq Theater

Al-Zawahiri: kinder, gentler jihad?

A July 9 letter from al-Qaeda deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to the organization's supposed leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, has allegedly been obtained by US forces in Iraq. The letter, released to the media, calls for the establishment of local emirates as an interim measure towards re-establishment of new Caliphate. It also appears to take issue with the tactic of mass murder of Shi'ites, even while demonizing Shi'ites as collaborators with the "Crusaders."

Iraq: Ramadan blast kills 25

Another courageous strike by the heroic Iraqi resistance against the US occupation forces... oops, we mean against Shi'ite civilians. From AP, Oct. 5, via TruthOut:

A bomb exploded at the entrance of a Shiite Muslim mosque south of Baghdad as hundreds of worshippers gathered for prayers on the first day of Ramadan and for the funeral of a man killed in an earlier bombing. At least 25 people were killed and 87 wounded.

Snuff porn from Iraq

Chris Thompson writes for East Bay Express in Oakland, CA, Sept. 21:

War Pornography
US soldiers trade grisly photos of dead and mutilated Iraqis for access to amateur porn. The press is strangely silent.

If you want to see the true face of war, go to the amateur porn Web site For almost a year, American soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan have been taking photographs of dead bodies, many of them horribly mutilated or blown to pieces, and sending them to Web site administrator Chris Wilson. In return for letting him post these images, Wilson gives the soldiers free access to his site. American soldiers have been using the pictures of disfigured Iraqi corpses as currency to buy pornography.

Iraq: US airstrikes, forced evacuations on Syrian border

For a second day, US war-planes struck a supposed al-Qaeda stronghold in the city of Qaim on the Syrian border. A US military statement said the attack is thought to have killed Abu Ali, a senior al-Qaeda agent in charge of helping foreign fighters enter the country from Syria. The target was just a few miles from the town of Husaybah, where residents said masked insurgent gunmen had taken control, setting up roadblocks and questioning people on the streets. They said snipers were atop buildings and gunmen roamed the streets. Marine warplanes also bombed two small Euphrates bridges being used by insurgents to move weapons and fighters near Karabilah. (AP, Sept. 7) A sign newly posted at the entrance of Qaim by insurgents declared: "Welcome to the Islamic Kingdom of Qaim." A statement posted in mosques described Qaim as an "Islamic kingdom liberated from the occupation." (LAT, Sept. 5) Last week, local hospital workers said 56 had been killed in US airstrikes, including many women and children. (Granma, Aug. 30) Some 200 have been arrested by US-Iraqi forces in sweeps at the nearby town of Tal Affar. (AP, Sept. 9) US forces have ordered all civilians to leave the Tal Affar, as new airstrikes on the town are underway. (BBC News, Sept. 9)


by David Bacon

BASRA, Iraq - The cracking towers and gas flares of the Al-Daura oil refinery rise above the neighborhood on Baghdad's outskirts that bears its name. On February 18, Ali Hassan Abd (Abu Fahad), a leader of the refinery's union, was walking home from the Al-Daura Refinery with his young children when gunmen ran up and shot him.

Abu Fahad had been one of 400 union activists who emerged from the underground or returned from exile in May 2003 and at a Baghdad conference formed the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions. Afterwards, he went back to the refinery and urged his fellow workers to elect department and plant-wide committees. That, in turn, became a nucleus of the Oil and Gas Workers Union, one of the twelve industry unions that make up the IFTU.

Bush admits: It's the oil, stupid!

In his Aug. 30 speech overwhelmingly focusing on his World War II analogy, Bush did let slip this one telling line at North Island Naval Air Station:

"If Zarqawi and bin Laden gain control of Iraq, they would create a new training ground for future terrorist attacks; they'd seize oil fields to fund their ambitions; they could recruit more terrorists by claiming an historic victory over the United States and our coalition." (White House transcript.)

Iraq: US troops kill Reuters soundman

A soundman working for Reuters TV was shot dead Aug. 28 in Baghdad, and a cameraman with him was wounded and then detained by US soldiers. An Iraqi police report, read to Reuters by an Interior Ministry official, said the two had been shot by US forces. US military spokesman Lt. Col. Steven A. Boylan said the incident was being investigated, and an official statement indicated that the troops were responding to an attack on an Iraqi police convoy when the journalists were shot. The death brings to 66 the number of journalists and their aides killed in Iraq since the start of the invasion in 2003, said Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based news media rights group. That surpasses the 63 journalists killed over 20 years of conflict in Vietnam, the group said.

Iraq: women's rights activist charges betrayal

From The Independent, via TruthOut, Aug. 29:

Iraqi Activist Taken Up by Bush Recants Her Views
She was the Iraqi activist who became a symbol of the possibility of a brighter future for Iraq.

Back in February, with blue ink on her finger symbolising the recent Iraqi election in which she had just voted, Safia Taleb al-Souhail was invited to sit with the first lady, Laura Bush, and listen to the President claim in his state of the union address that success was being achieved in Iraq. Her picture went round the world after she turned to hug Janet Norwood, a Texas woman whose son had been killed in Iraq.

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