FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Grisly Rituals in Iraq

by PATRICK COCKBURN And LEYLA LINTON

Baghdad.

Two car bombs in the city of Hillah that killed at least 23 civilians and a rocket attack that left dead two children who were playing on the bank of the Tigris River in Baghdad have raised the political temperature before Wednesday’s transfer of sovereignty. A further 58 people were injured in the blasts in Hillah, south of Baghdad, including Noor Ahmed, a two-year-old whose right arm had to be amputated.

Yesterday’s rocket attack in Baghdad, which came as President George Bush posed for a photograph with other Nato leaders in an Ottoman palace in Istanbul, was followed by the seizure of a US Marine. The hostage, like three Turks whose capture was announced on Saturday, has been threatened with beheading. The cycle of violence appears to be worsening in the run-up to the handover of sovereignty from the US-led occupation to the interim Iraqi government on Wednesday. The toll from the Hillah bombs, late on Saturday night, mean that more than 100 people have died and 300 been injured in bomb attacks in Baghdad and four other Iraqi cities in the past few days.

Iraqi insurgents tightened their stranglehold on Baghdad yesterday when they hit an aircraft taking off from the airport with ground fire. It had to turn back; one person on board was killed. The attack threatens for the first time the main lifeline to the Iraqi capital, which is already partly cut off from the rest of the country by guerrillas in control of the roads.

The US military sought to play down the importance of the C-130 transport plane being hit by gunfire. The military spokesman, General Mark Kimmitt, stressed that “there was no significant damage to the aircraft”. Insurgents have tried in the past to shoot down aircraft using the vast airport west of Baghdad but have until now failed to kill anybody flying into or out of Baghdad. Since last November guerrillas have had more success in shooting down US military helicopters with ground-to-air missiles.

The US military command has been surprised by the ferocity of the co-ordinated assaults by insurgents on cities across central and northern Iraq. The threat to Baghdad’s air-link to the outside world and the ground assault led by Islamic militants shows that the overall military situation in Iraq is still deteriorating. American officials in Baghdad have been trying to foster a sense that the worst of the crisis in Iraq has now passed in the run-up to the handover of sovereignty to the Iraqi interim government.

The captured marine, who is of Pakistani origin, was seized by gunmen who said they would kill him within three days unless Iraqi prisoners were released. “This man was taken after an attack on a US base in Balad,” said one of the masked gunmen on a tape released last night by Arabiya television. “You must release our prisoners held near the US base in Balad, in Dujail, in Yathrib, in Samarra and near Abu Ghraib. You have three days from the date of this recording and after that we will behead him. We have warned you.”

Militants are also threatening to behead the three Turkish hostages tomorrow during the Nato summit. They demanded that Turkey stop working with the US forces in Iraq.

The grisly rituals surrounding the murder of foreign hostages in Iraq are now well established. A video sent to an Arab television station shows the three Turks kneeling in front of two black-clad gunmen. Behind them is the black banner of the organisation led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant seen by the US as the mastermind of terror in Iraq.

The Turkish government dismissed the kidnappers’ demands contemptuously, saying: “Turkey has been fighting terrorist activity for more than 20 years.”

Iraqis, like many of the foreigners in their country, are nervous as the so-called transfer of power looms. Some Baghdad businessmen have fled to Jordan or Syria.

The belief that insurgents will launch suicide bombers into Baghdad as sovereignty is being transferred is widespread. In the Iraqi capital residents say they will avoid all but the most essential journeys over the next few days. When they do travel, they try to avoid US or Iraqi government positions.

There were also explosions yesterday in the the Green Zone, where the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority has its headquarters. The US army said that three mortar bombs or rockets had landed but had caused no damage and inflicted no casualties. It is a measure of the failure of the US army over the past year to gain military control of Iraq that the bombardment of US headquarters in Baghdad by guerrillas is now a matter of routine, drawing little comment.

Iraqis would like the government of Iyad Allawi to succeed, but fear that it will be a puppet of the US. Earlier this month General Kimmitt said that for US armed forces in Iraq, all that was happening was a change of name. “I don’t think that July 1st is particularly significant on the part of the coalition military operations, with the exception we will now be known as the multinational forces.”

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life
Patrick Cockburn
The Terrifying Parallels Between Trump and Erdogan
Kenneth Surin
The Neoliberal Stranglehold on the American Public University
Lawrence Davidson
Is There a Future for the Democratic Party?
Douglas Valentine
Who Killed MLK Jr?
Robert Fisk
The Foreign Correspondent in the Age of Twitter and Trump
Dale Bryan
“Where Do We Go from Here?”
David Swanson
The Deep State Wants to Deep Six Us
Dan Bacher
Obama Administration Orders Speedy Completion of Delta Tunnels Plan
Mark Weisbrot
Obama Should Make Sure that Haitian Victims of UN-Caused Cholera are Compensated
Winslow Myers
The Light of the World
Bruce Mastron
My Latest Reason to Boycott the NFL: Guns
Weekend Edition
January 13, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Gregory Elich
Did the Russians Really Hack the DNC?
Jeffrey St. Clair
The President Who Wasn’t There: Barack Obama’s Legacy of Impotence
Anthony DiMaggio
Ethics Fiasco: Trump, Divestment and the Perversion of Executive Politics
Joshua Frank
Farewell Obummer, Hello Golden Showers
Paul Street
Hit the Road, Barack: Some Farewell Reflections
Vijay Prashad
After Aleppo: the State of Syria
John Wight
Russia Must be Destroyed: John McCain and the Case of the Dodgy Dossier
Rob Urie
Meet the Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
The Russian Dossier Reminds Me of the Row Over Saddam’s WMDs
Eric Sommer
U.S.-China War: a Danger Hidden from the American People
Andrew Levine
Are Democrats Still the Lesser Evil?
Linda Pentz Gunter
What’s Really Behind the Indian Point Nuclear Deal?
Robert Fantina
Trucks, ‘Terror’ and Israel
Richard Moser
Universal Values are Revolutionary Values
Russell Mokhiber
Build the Bagdikian Wall: “Sponsored News” at the Washington Post
Yoav Litvin
Establishment Narcissism – The Democrats’ Game of Thrones
David Rosen
Return of the Repressed: Trump & the Revival of the Culture Wars
Robert Koehler
War Consciousness and the F-35
Rev. William Alberts
The New Smell of McCarthyism Demands Faith Leaders Speak Truth to Power
John Laforge
Federal Regulator Halts Move to Toughen Radiation Exposure Limits
Norman Pollack
Farewell Address: Nazification of Hope
David Swanson
Imagine the Confirmation Hearing for Secretary of Peace
CJ Hopkins
Why Ridiculous Official Propaganda Still Works
Ron Jacobs
Striking in Reagan Time
Missy Comley Beattie
The Streep
Graham Peebles
Climate Change: The Potential Impacts of Collective Inaction
Uri Avnery
Confessions of a Megalomaniac
Kenneth Worles
Black Without a Home: King’s Dream Still Deferred
Geoff Dutton
The Russian Patsy
Jill Richardson
The Coming War on Regulations
Jeremy Brecher
Resisting the Trump Agenda is Social Self-Defense
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail