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nChrist
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« on: March 07, 2008, 01:30:03 AM »

Dozens killed in Baghdad attacks

At least 54 people have been killed by two bomb attacks in the Karada shopping area in the centre of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, security officials say.

The blasts left another 130 people injured, the officials said.

A witness at the scene described people holding body parts and a woman crying as rescuers searched for her sons.

The BBC's Hugh Sykes in Baghdad said the second bomb targeted crowds gathered at the site of the first, causing the high death toll.

He says there are no obvious military targets in the area, and local residents were out shopping ahead of the Iraqi weekend in fine spring weather when the bombs exploded.

A roadside bomb exploded first in the predominantly Shia area, followed a few minutes later by a second blast caused by a suicide bomber, police said.

Many of the victims were teenagers and young adults.

Hassan Abdullah, 25, told AP he was standing near the clothing shop he owns when the first explosion went off about 150 metres away.

He was walking towards the scene when the second explosion struck.

"I saw a leg and a hand falling near me as I was walking. The whole place was a mess," he said.

"Wounded people were crying for help and people started to run away."

Our correspondent says attacks like this used to occur almost daily but have become much less common in recent months.

However, Iraqi government figures this week showed that the number of Iraqi civilians killed in February was a third higher than in January.

The figures reversed the six-month-long trend of falling death tolls attributed to a surge in US troop numbers, the formation of anti-al-Qaeda militias by Sunni Arab tribes and a freeze in activities of the Mehdi Army militia loyal to radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2008, 04:23:19 PM by DreamWeaver » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2008, 01:51:50 AM »

US Iraq troops 'insult to region'

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said the presence of foreign forces in Iraq is a humiliation and an insult to the region.

On the second day of a visit to Iraq, he said major powers should not be interfering in the region's affairs.

Mr Ahmadinejad called for the immediate withdrawal of foreign troops.

It is the first-ever visit to Iraq by an Iranian president. The two countries fought an eight-year war when Saddam Hussein invaded Iran in 1980.

Mr Ahmadinejad did not mention the US by name, but Washington still has more than 150,000 soldiers based in Iraq, nearly five years after it led the 2003 invasion.

The Iranian president and his Iraqi counterpart, Jalal Talabani, on Monday signed a number of co-operation agreements on trade and transport.

"Without the presence of the foreign troops the region will live in peace and brotherhood," Mr Ahmadinejad said.

"We believe that the forces that came from overseas and travelled thousands of kilometres to reach here must leave the region, and must hand over responsibility to people of the region," he said.

Mr Ahmadinejad made these comments in response to questions from Iraqi and foreign journalists.

BBC Baghdad correspondent Jim Muir says Mr Ahmadinejad's comments did not amount to a strident call for an immediate American withdrawal.

HAVE YOUR SAY This is a historic opportunity for Iraq and Iran to bury the venom of the past. Rajendra Aneja, Dubai, UAE
He knows his Iraqi hosts are about to negotiate a long term strategic accord with the US that would keep troops here long enough to ensure the Baghdad government's survival against both internal and external threats.

Our correspondent says Mr Ahmadinejad's visit could not contrast more strongly with those of Iraq's only other presidential visitor since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, President Bush, whose trips have been unannounced, brief and confined to American military bases.

Mr Ahmadinejad arrived in Iraq on Sunday.

He accused the US of bringing terrorism to the region, called on Washington to change its standpoint towards Iran and said it had to understand that the Iraqi people did not like the US.

US officials have often accused Iran of supporting militants operating in Iraq.

The Iranian leader is due to end his visit on Monday.

Iraqi leaders extended a warm welcome to the Iranian president on Sunday.

After talks with Mr Talabani, Mr Ahmadinejad said the visit had opened a "new page" in Iran-Iraq relations.

Prime Minister Maliki said his talks with Mr Ahmadinejad had been "friendly, positive and full of trust".

Despite the reconciliation between Baghdad and Tehran, many analysts believe that in the long term, the two countries are destined to be rivals for regional power.

During the long war between them in the 1980s, many of the prominent Shia now in positions of power in Iraq fled to Iran as Saddam Hussein cracked down on internal dissent.

The US-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime allowed them to return from exile.

Trade is now growing between the two countries and tourism, in the form of Iranian pilgrims visiting major Shia shrines in Iraq, is booming.
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« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2008, 01:55:20 AM »

Iran blames US for Iraq 'terror'

On the first-ever visit to Iraq by an Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has accused the US of bringing terrorism to the region.

He also called on Washington to change its standpoint towards Iran and said it had to understand that the Iraqi people did not like America.

A BBC correspondent says many Iraqis see the visit as the culmination of a process of normalisation in ties.

The two countries fought a war when Saddam Hussein invaded Iran in 1980.

The BBC's Jim Muir adds that Mr Ahmadinejad has not been welcomed by all Iraqis, since some agree with the Americans' view that Iran supports extremist militias in Iraq and is to blame for much of the trouble there.

Mr Ahmadinejad, who arrived in Baghdad on Sunday, made his remark about the US and terrorism after US accusations that Iran was supporting militants.

"Six years ago, there were no terrorists in our region," he said after talks with Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, head of Iraq's largest Shia Muslim political bloc, the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri).

"As soon as the others landed in this country and the region, we witnessed their arrival and presence."

Earlier, at a news conference with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, the Iranian president said it was not Tehran's fault that Iraq "does not want the US".

On Saturday, US President George W Bush, speaking at his ranch in Texas, called on Iran to "quit sending in sophisticated equipment that's killing our citizens".

The Iranian leader is due to end his visit on Monday. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has said a number of agreements will be signed.

'New page' HAVE YOUR SAY The president's visit will bring benefit neither to the Iranians nor to the Iraqi people Farhad, Tehran

Iraqi leaders extended a warm welcome to the Iranian president, who flew into Baghdad airport and travelled into the city centre by car.

US forces are not involved in security for the visit and did not provide helicopters.

After talks with President Talabani, Mr Ahmadinejad said the visit had opened a "new page" in Iran-Iraq relations.

Prime Minister Maliki said his talks with Mr Ahmadinejad had been "friendly, positive and full of trust".

Despite the reconciliation between Baghdad and Tehran, many analysts believe that in the long term, the two countries are destined to be rivals for regional power.

During the long war between them in the 1980s, many of the prominent Shia now in positions of power in Iraq fled to Iran as Saddam Hussein cracked down on internal dissent.

The US-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime allowed them to return from exile.

Trade is now growing between the two countries and tourism, in the form of Iranian pilgrims visiting major Shia shrines in Iraq, is booming.
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« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2008, 02:02:39 AM »

'Chemical Ali' execution approved

The execution of Saddam Hussein's cousin and henchman "Chemical Ali" has been approved by Iraq's presidency.

He was condemned to death on genocide charges for killing 100,000 people during the 1988 Anfal campaign against the Kurds in northern Iraq.

Chemical Ali - whose real name is Hassan al-Majid - was initially sentenced to death in June last year but legal wrangling held up the case.

The execution was approved two days ago, to be carried out within 30 days.

He was convicted along with two other top officials - Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti, a senior military chief, and the former defence minister, Sultan Hashim al-Tai.

Asked when Majid would be hanged, an adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki told Reuters news agency: "It will be a matter of days."

The presidency, which is made up of President Jalal Talabani and two vice-presidents, has not yet approved the hanging of Tikriti and Hashim, says the BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad.

   
THE ANFAL CAMPAIGN
Anfal (English: Spoils of War) took place between February and August 1988
Officially it was a clampdown on Kurdish separatism in the north
With a civilian death toll of up to 180,000, Kurds regard it as a campaign of genocide
Mustard gas and nerve agents were used in air attacks
Other victims were summarily executed or died in captivity

The two men will remain in custody not knowing whether they are to live or die, says our correspondent.

The trio, all in the custody of American forces, were supposed to have been hanged by October.

But the executions were delayed after Hashim became a cause celebre among Sunni politicians.

Iraqi Vice-President Tareq al-Hashimi was among prominent Sunnis who insisted Hashim had simply been a career soldier carrying out orders and should be reprieved.

The case strained relations between the Iraqi prime minister's administration and US officials.

Nouri Maliki's Shia-led government had pressed US officials to hand over the trio so the sentence could be carried out.

But the Americans had refused to surrender any of the three until the Iraqi presidency reached an agreement.

Former regime leaders, including Saddam Hussein himself and his half-brother Barzan al-Tikriti, have been handed over by the Americans and hanged by the Iraqi government without significant popular or political repercussions.

BBC world affairs correspondent Nick Childs says from early on in Saddam Hussein's rule, Majid was one of the former leader's most trusted and most ruthless associates.

As with so many in Saddam Hussein's inner circle, it helped that he had close family ties with the former leader, as a first cousin.

Majid acquired his nickname Chemical Ali after poison gas was used to kill many of the tens of thousands of Kurds who died during the Anfal campaign.

The former Iraqi regime claimed Anfal was a necessary counter-insurgency operation during Iraq's bloody eight-year war with neighbouring Iran.

After Iraq's defeat in the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam Hussein turned to his cousin to put down a Shia revolt in the south, which again he did with great brutality, says our correspondent.

During the US-led invasion of 2003, Chemical Ali appeared as the fifth most-wanted member of Saddam Hussein's regime, and was the King of Spades in the notorious deck of cards that the US-led forces issued.

The coalition thought it had killed him in an air strike during the invasion but he survived, only to be captured in August 2003.

Over the course of the Anfal trial, which opened in August last year, a defiant Majid showed no trace of remorse.

He said at one hearing: "I am the one who gave orders to the army to demolish villages and relocate the villagers. I am not apologising. I did not make a mistake."
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« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2008, 06:53:18 AM »

Iraq promises Turkey curb on PKK

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has restated that his government will not tolerate Kurdish rebels in the north launching attacks against Turkey.

Speaking on a visit to Ankara, his first trip to Turkey as leader, he said he had told regional authorities to halt the activities of PKK fighters.

He is meeting his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul, to discuss the recent Turkish cross-border offensive.

Mr Gul has said Turkey cannot allow PKK attacks to continue.

His words echo those of the Turkish military which has warned it will send its troops back across the border if necessary.

"We have requested that the Kurdish administration puts pressure on PKK units to give up their weapons or leave the region," Mr Talabani said, referring to Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region.

His visit is being seen as ground-breaking in Turkey, the BBC's Sarah Rainsford reports.

The previous Turkish president refused to invite President Talabani, who is Kurdish, because of Turkey's suspicions Iraqi Kurds were supporting the PKK.

Mr Talabani's pledge is not new, our correspondent in Turkey adds.

It is, she says, more a re-stating of Iraq's official position and, so far, those words have little practical effect.
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« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2008, 06:55:41 AM »

Iraq cleric Sadr explains absence

The Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr has explained why he has not been seen in public for more than nine months - and acknowledged splits in his movement.

He said he missed his followers "too much" but that every "commander needed to be away for a while to worship".

He has reportedly resumed his religious studies to gain the title of ayatollah.

The statement comes two weeks after the cleric renewed a unilateral ceasefire his powerful Mehdi Army militia has been observing for the past six months.

The ceasefire has been widely credited with reducing sectarian tensions and contributing to the overall drop in violence in recent months.

In a rare statement issued by his office in the holy city of Najaf, Moqtada Sadr acknowledged that his absence "could be a reason for depressing" his followers.

"I swear that I live with you and among you. I am a part of you. I will not change his unless death separates us," he said.

He said the main reason for him going away - US military commanders believe he is in neighbouring Iran - was the advice of his father, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq Sadr, who was assassinated in 1999 reportedly by Iraqi agents.

Many persons who are close to me have split for materialistic reasons or because they wanted to be independent and this was one of the reasons behind my absence.

"My late father personally recommended me to pay more attention to learning and studying. The brothers in Sadrist offices are continuing to serve the society," he added.

In December, a senior aide, Salah al-Ubaidi, said Moqtada Sadr had not been seen in public since 25 May because he resumed his religious studies at a Shia seminary in Najaf.

Correspondents say gaining the honorific title of ayatollah would enhance his religious credentials, as well as providing him with enhanced authority over spiritual matters in his country and the ability to issue fatwas (legal rulings).

He would also be able to more effectively disassociate himself from powerful senior Shia clerics such as Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who have co-operated with the Iraqi authorities and US-led coalition since the 2003 invasion, they add.

Moqtada Sadr also acknowledged in his statement the divisions in the movement he leads and to distance himself from his followers who had developed their own agendas.

Many of his followers had split from him "for materialistic reasons or because they wanted to be independent", he said.

"This was one of the reasons behind my absence... yet I still have many people loyal and faithful to me and I advise them to direct society toward education and teaching," he added.

Since he declared a ceasefire in August, the US military has continued to target what it calls rogue Mehdi Army elements, who have been ignoring his orders.
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« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2008, 06:59:31 AM »

Death toll rises in Baghdad bombs

Sixty-eight people were killed in twin bomb attacks on a shopping area in central Baghdad, Iraq's interior ministry has said.

The Thursday blasts left another 130 people injured, officials said.

Funerals are taking place in the mainly-Shia district of Karada - the scene of the bombings.

The second bomb hit a crowd of people, including emergency workers, who had gathered to help after the first blast, causing the high death toll.

No-one has claimed to have carried out the attack, but Iraqi and US security officials are blaming al-Qaeda in Iraq.

A roadside bomb exploded first in the market area as shoppers were out in numbers on a pleasant spring evening. One report said the bomb was hidden under a vendor's cart.

A few minutes later, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives vest in the middle of the crowd that had gathered, Iraqi officials said.

A local merchant said he was walking towards the scene of the first bomb when the second one exploded.

"I saw a leg and a hand falling near me as I was walking," Hassan Abdullah told Associated Press news agency.

"The whole place was a mess. Wounded people were crying for help, and people started to run away."

The BBC's Hugh Sykes in Baghdad says there are no obvious military targets in the area.

Attacks like this used to occur almost daily but have become much less common in recent months, says our correspondent.

However, Iraqi government figures this week showed that the number of Iraqi civilians killed in February was a third higher than in January.

Last month, two women bombers killed 99 people at crowded pet markets in Baghdad.

The figures reversed the six-month-long trend of falling death tolls attributed to a surge in US troop numbers, the formation of anti-al-Qaeda militias by Sunni Arab tribes and a freeze in activities of the Mehdi Army militia loyal to radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr.
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« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2008, 07:03:04 AM »

Ahmadinejad: We won't discuss our nuclear program with anyone

UN decision on new sanctions 'unlawful and unimportant,' Iranian leader says, adding ' If the world powers believe that the Iranian nation will conduct negotiations in an atmosphere of force and pressure - then they are mistaken'

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday that Iran would not hold negotiations with regards to its nuclear program with anyone, according to a report by the IRNA news agency.

In meeting with students at Druze town, prime minister says Security Council's decision to impose third round of sanctions on Tehran proves world is determined to stop Islamic republic's nuclear program. 'The Iranian threat is not just on Israel,' he adds.

Ahmadinejad referred to the recent UN Security Council decision to toughen sanctions on the Islamic state, saying that "it is clear that this decision is unlawful and unimportant. This decision will not harm the Iranian nation at all.
 
"It is clear that there are people outside the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) who believe Iran is obligated to negotiate - but this isn't the case," he said following a cabinet meeting. "Iran is willing to discuss with other countries issues such as disarmament, global security and the world's economy because Iran is a strong country."

According to the Iranian leader the UN resolution "will not harm the Iranian nation at all, but will rather damage the credibility of the Security Council.
 
"From here on end, the Iranian issue will be dealt with solely by the IAEA in accordance with the mutual commitments and the Non-Proliferation Agreement. We have repeatedly announced that the (Iranian) nuclear issue has been resolved and that the agency's report is proof of this," Ahmadinejad said.
 
"If they (world powers) believe that the Iranian nation will conduct negotiations in an atmosphere of force and pressure - then they are mistaken. We suggest that they change their behavior because they will be the ones to suffer from it."
 
On Tuesday Russia called on Iran to study the incentives the world's key powers are offering - including improved relations with the United States - and suspend uranium enrichment as the Security Council is demanding.
 
Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said there is broader consensus among the world's powers today on how to deal with Iran and a new reality on the ground that will hopefully create the right conditions for Tehran to halt enrichment.
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« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2008, 07:04:27 AM »

U.S. captures Iranian special forces commander near Baghdad

BAGHDAD — The U.S.-led coalition has captured a senior Iranian operative who helped finance and equip Shi'ite militias.

U.S. Army paratroopers detained the suspected senior leader of the Iranian-sponsored Special Groups network during an operation in Baghdad's Beida neighborhood on Feb. 27, Middle East Newsline reported.

Officials said the Special Groups was trained and equipped by Iran. They said the organization, believed to comprise a series of cells, introduced the Explosively-Formed Penetrator, designed to destroy U.S. — and other Western origin main battle tanks.

"The loss of yet another senior Special Groups leader places additional stress on the criminal Special Groups network," Maj. Trey Rutherford, executive officer for the 2nd Bn., 325th Abn. Inf. Regt., said.

"The network's armament caches are being discovered and destroyed," Rutherford said. "Even more importantly, the Special Groups element is being recognized by locals for what it is — a criminal force focused on instilling fear, for monetary profit, in the people they claim to protect."

The Special Groups was first detected in 2007 as the Mahdi Army became splintered into rival factions. Since August 2007, the Mahdi Army has honored a ceasefire against the U.S.-led coalition, a decision that raised the profile of the Special Groups.

Officials said the unidentified Special Groups leader was captured after he left Sadr City, the teeming Shi'ite area that serves as the headquarters for Iranian-sponsored militias. They said the suspect has been a key facilitator in the procurement and movement of weapons in northeast Baghdad. He was also said to have been involved in the abduction, torture and death of Iraqis.

The coalition and Iraq have been receiving increasing cooperation from Shi'ites in identifying and capturing operatives from the Special Groups. Officials said the organization has been mostly engaged in intimidating Shi'ite businessmen.

"The network is cornered in Sadr City, and every member of the criminal group who sets foot outside is being captured rapidly," Rutherford said.
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« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2008, 11:03:10 PM »

Iraq road bomb 'kills 16 people'

A roadside bomb has killed at least 16 people travelling on a bus in southern Iraq, reports say.

At least 22 people were also wounded in the attack.

The civilian passenger bus was travelling on the Basra-Nasiriya road some 80km (50 miles) south of Nasiriya, police said.

The attack came a day after eight US soldiers and an interpreter were killed in two separate incidents, the US military said.

One attack took place in Diyala province, killing three soldiers and an interpreter, while five other soldiers were killed in a suicide attack in Baghdad.

Nasser al-Jabery, provincial head of police operations in Nasiriya, said the bus was carrying pilgrims from the Shia holy city of Najaf to Basra.

Earlier on Tuesday, police said four policemen, four insurgents and a civilian had been killed in a gun battle in the northern city of Mosul.

Also on Tuesday, talks have started between US and Iraqi officials on the future of the US military presence in Iraq.

"The two parties started today, in the ministry of foreign affairs, talks.... on agreements and arrangements for long-term co-operation and friendship, including agreement on temporary US troop presence in Iraq," the Iraqi foreign ministry said.

US troops in Iraq currently operate under a United Nations mandate, but this expires at the end of the year, and the two sides are negotiating guidelines which would allow them to remain.

Iraq has said it does not want the UN mandate renewed, and correspondents say the shape and size of a longer-term US presence will be a key issue.
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« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2008, 05:11:45 AM »

Pentagon: Syria, Iran supporting Iraq terror
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

Despite increased counterterrorism efforts by Damascus, as much as 90 percent of the foreign fighters in Iraq cross the border from Syria, according to a Pentagon report that says Iran's support for Shiite militants also is hurting efforts to improve Iraq security.

As those external pressures dog coalition and Iraqi forces, the government of Iraq is also hamstrung by internal corruption and persistent problems getting basic services to the people, the report said.

The Defense Department's quarterly report on progress in Iraq, released Tuesday, said that militants continue to find safe havens and logistical support in Syria.

"It is not clear that Syria has made a strategic decision to deal with foreign terrorists using Syria as a transit point into Iraq," said the report, which covers events from December through February.

In late January, Iraqi officials suggested that about 150 foreign and Iraqi fighters slipped into the country from Syria a few months earlier and were responsible for a devastating explosion in northern Iraq that killed at least 38 people and wounded more than 200.

On the other border, meanwhile, Tehran's support for Shiite militant groups remains a sizable threat to stability in Iraq. The report asserts that the Quds Force, an elite unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, still provides much of the explosives for the militants.

Several military commanders in recent weeks have said that despite recent promises by Tehran to help promote stability in Iraq, there is continued evidence that Iran is training and funding Shiite extremists.

During a recent visit to Iraq, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed the allegations and said instead that the US presence there was the problem.

The Pentagon report reflects the ongoing decline in violence in Iraq, bolstered by last year's increase in US forces and the continuing growth of the Iraqi troops.

But while it specifically points to improved security conditions in Anbar Province, Baghdad and some surrounding areas, it also said al-Qaida remains strong in parts of the Tigris River Valley and in Ninewa Province.

Al-Qaida members, it said, have been targeting key figures in the groups of Sunni tribesman that have joined to fight the terrorists. The US-funded groups are called the Sons of Iraq, and the report said they numbered about 91,000, with more than 71,000 being Sunni and the remainder Shiite.

Overcoming corruption in the government, the judiciary and prison systems continue to be key challenges. And the Iraqi government is still struggling to provide basic services to its citizens. Electricity demands have grown and - as of the report date - outpaced supplies by 57 percent.

While electricity generation hit a record high in December, it then dropped sharply in January due to maintenance and fuel distribution problems.

In related testimony on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, auditors told Congress that Iraq isn't spending much of its own money, despite soaring oil revenues that are pushing the country toward a massive budget surplus.

The expected surplus comes as the US continues to invest billions of dollars in rebuilding Iraq and faces a financial squeeze domestically because of record oil prices.

"The Iraqis have a budget surplus," said US Comptroller General David Walker. "We have a huge budget deficit. ... One of the questions is who should be paying."

Walker and the other auditors did not give a figure as to the likely surplus. US officials contend that Iraq's lack of spending is due primarily to Baghdad's inability to determine where its money is needed most and how to allocate it efficiently. Two senators have called for an investigation into the matter.

Democrats say the assessment is proof that the Iraq war was a waste of time and money. The US has spent more than $45 billion (€29 billion) on rebuilding Iraq. And while officials in Iraq contend that much progress is being made, many projects remain unfinished and US troops are still needed to provide security.

"They ought to be able to use some of their oil to pay for their own costs and not keep sending the bill to the United States," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat.

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« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2008, 05:12:50 AM »

Hamas commander: Iran training our men
By JPOST.COM STAFF

A week after Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin informed the cabinet that Hamas terrorists train in Iran, a commander in the extremist militia admitted as much to The Sunday Times.

Reportedly, the group has been sending gunmen to train with Iran's Revolutionary Guards for the past two years. Currently, the unnamed commander told the British paper, some 150 gunmen are being trained.

Hamas's members enter Iran via Syria and avoid having their passports stamped. Syria is also home to "more basic training" than that given in Iran. Gunmen deemed of outstanding quality receive extra training and return to train others in Gaza.

The most promising members of each group stay longer for an advanced course and return as trainers themselves, he said. Those unfit for combat return to "serve" in a research unit.

The training lasts between 45 days and six months and is overseen by Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards.

Syria, the man said, currently hosts 62 Hamas gunmen and has already trained 650. The trainers are themselves Iranian-trained.

The commander said Hamas now has 15,000 fighters and added that the group had modeled itself after Hizbullah.

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« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2008, 12:00:14 PM »

Gas being rationed in Iran
Global money woes hit, with inflation at 19%

Financial analysts for British intelligence agencies have produced a graphic view of how the global financial crisis is affecting the Iranian economy, with inflation rampaging at 19 percent and fuel for cars on a ration-only basis, according to Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.

The assessment comes just as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad secures his hold on the country after this week's elections, which saw hard-liners overwhelmingly returned to power.

The elections affirmed the Islamic Republic's continuation through a combination of brutal suppression and a highly effective security system controlled by the Revolutionary Guards.

But behind that, there are growing signs the financial crisis that has rocked Wall Street and world stock markets has begun to bite ever deeper into the Iranian economy.

A country which is awash with oil – Iran produces 4.3 million barrels a day and possesses the world's second largest reserve of oil – cannot provide sufficient quantities of refined material to meet the needs of its 65 million people.

An MI6 report states: "The reason for this state of affairs is clear. The regime's insistence on diverting an increasing amount of energy and resources in pursuit of the holy grail of nuclear enrichment and the subsequent UN economic sanctions that policy has attracted. It means the ayatollahs are unable to maintain the oil-refining facilities for domestic purposes."

MI6 analysts – working with information which in part came from anti-regime sources in Iran – show the country's economic inflation is now at 19 percent and the regime has failed to meet any of its growth targets.

The result is that there is rationing of 100 liters a month of gasoline for each household -- the equivalent of two full tanks for the average family car.

Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin is the premium, online intelligence news source edited and published by the founder of WND.

For the complete report and full immediate access to Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin, subscribe now.

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« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2008, 08:57:30 PM »

Bush: We can't jeopardize gains in Iraq
Speaking at Pentagon on 5th anniversary of start of war

President Bush says he won't accept additional troop withdrawals from Iraq beyond those already planned if they would jeopardize recent security gains.

Speaking at the Pentagon on the fifth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, Bush signaled Wednesday that he is unlikely to order new reductions after next month's report from the top U.S. military officers in Iraq. He says that increasing the pace of drawdowns could unravel the progress spurred by an increase of 30,000 troops over the past year.

The president told an audience of Pentagon brass, soldiers and diplomats that "having come so far and achieved so much, we are not going to let this happen."

Bush also said America is confronting Osama Bin Laden's "grim ideology" and Iraqis have grown tired of "al-Qaida's brutality."

Five years after launching the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Bush is making some of his most expansive claims of success in the fighting there. Bush said last year's troop buildup has turned Iraq around and produced "the first large-scale Arab uprising against Osama bin Laden."

As anti-war demonstrations were planned in downtown Washington to mark Wednesday's war anniversary, across the river at the Pentagon Bush was to give a 25-minute speech, warning against backsliding from the recent progress fueled by the increase of 30,000 troops ordered more than a year ago.

"The challenge in the period ahead is to consolidate the gains we have made and seal the extremists' defeat," he said in excerpts the White House released Tuesday night. "We have learned through hard experience what happens when we pull our forces back too fast—the terrorists and extremists step in, fill the vacuum, establish safe havens and use them to spread chaos and carnage."

Bush criticized those who "still call for retreat" in the face of what he called undeniable successes.

Democrats took a different view.

"On this grim milestone, it is worth remembering how we got into this situation, and thinking about how best we can get out," said Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. "The tasks that remain in Iraq—to bring an end to sectarian conflict, to devise a way to share political power and to create a functioning government that is capable of providing for the needs of the Iraqi people—are tasks that only the Iraqis can complete."

Before top Pentagon officials and hundreds of others, Bush planned to trace the war's "high cost in lives and treasure." He defended the war as necessary at first, now, and for an undefined future until Iraq is stable enough to stand on its own.

"The surge has done more than turn the situation in Iraq around—it has opened the door to a major strategic victory in the broader war on terror," the president said. "In Iraq, we are witnessing the first large-scale Arab uprising against Osama bin Laden, his grim ideology, and his terror network. And the significance of this development cannot be overstated."

The president's address sought to shift the nation's focus from economic ills and put Iraq back on the front burner, part of a series of events the White House planned around the anniversary and next month's report from the top U.S. figures in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker.

Vice President Dick Cheney, who just completed a two-day visit to Iraq, said the administration won't "be blown off course" by continued strong opposition to the war in the United States.

Cheney compared the administration's task now to Abraham Lincoln's during the Civil War. "He never would have succeeded if he hadn't had a clear objective, a vision for where he wanted to go, and he was willing to withstand the slings and arrows of the political wars in order to get there," Cheney said of Lincoln in an interview broadcast Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning America."

The U.S. has about 158,000 troops in Iraq. That number is expected to drop to 140,000 by summer in drawdowns meant to erase all but about 8,000 troops from last year's increase.

Bush has successfully defied efforts by the Democratic-led Congress to force larger troop withdrawals. Still, with just 10 months before he hands off the war to a new president, Bush is concerned about his legacy on Iraq.

Both Democratic candidates have said they would begin withdrawing forces quickly if elected. Only expected GOP nominee John McCain has indicated he planned to continue Bush's strategy of bringing troops home only as conditions warrant.

It is widely believed that the president will endorse a recommendation from Petraeus for no additional troop reductions, beyond those already scheduled, until at least September. This pause in drawdowns would be designed to assess the impact of this round before allowing more.

The surge was meant to tamp down sectarian violence in Iraq so that the country's leaders would have time to advance legislation considered key to reconciliation between rival Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish communities. But the gains on the battlefield have not been matched by dramatic political progress, and violence again may be increasing.

Bush appeared to be referring to recent cooperation by local Iraqis with the U.S. military against the group known as al-Qaida in Iraq, a mostly homegrown, Sunni-based insurgency. Experts question how closely—or even whether—the group is connected to the international al- Qaida network. As for bin Laden, he is rarely heard from and is believed to be hiding in Pakistan.

As of Tuesday, at least 3,990 members of the U.S. military have died in the war, which has cost the U.S. roughly $500 billion. Nobel Prize- winning economist Joseph E. Stiglizt and Harvard University public finance expert Linda Bilmes have estimated the eventual cost at $3 trillion when all the expenses, including long-term care for veterans, are calculated.

Without specifics, Bush decried those who have "exaggerated estimates of the costs of this war."

"War critics can no longer credibly argue that we are losing in Iraq, so now they argue the war costs too much," he said.
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« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2008, 08:58:23 PM »

 President Bush marks the 5th Anniversary of the Iraq War with claims of a major strategic victory


President Bush, while acknowledging the Iraq War has been fought at a high cost, also believes that the US troop buildup in Iraq has opened the door to a major strategic victory against Islamic militants.

The president believes that the successes which are being seen in Iraq are undeniable and the president has an upbeat assessment of the US-led campaign on this the 5th anniversary of the war in Iraq. President Bush, while touting the security gains from the troop increase in Iraq, says the surge has done more than turn the situation around in Iraq, it has made Iraq the central front in the battle against Islamic extremists.

As the US marks the 5th anniversary of the Iraq War, any student of Bible prophecy can understand the significance of this controversial war in the Middle East.

With only a few months left in office, President Bush still maintains that the high cost of the war and the US troop buildup has set in place a major strategic victory against Islamic militants. Prophetically, the war in Iraq and the demise of Saddam Hussein has had a major impact on setting the stage for Bible prophecy to be fulfilled.

Saddam's Jerusalem Army of seven million soldiers who planned to liberate Jerusalem and give it to the Palestinians had to be stopped, according to Bible prophecy, so that Iraq, Biblical Babylon, could rise to power, Revelation 18. Time after time in the prophetic passages of Scripture, you can see accounts of how the Lord used human world political leaders to accomplish His will, II Chronicles 36, Ezra 1, Nehemiah 2, Daniel 11 and Revelation 17, 18. The principle of prophecy related to God's use of world leaders is found in Revelation 17:17 where it says God puts into the hearts of world leaders to do His will.

The 5th anniversary of the Iraqi War is indeed evidence that Bible prophecy will be fulfilled.
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