Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Now I too am part of Vilks art

I like satirical cartoons, so in solidarity with Conservative Swede and Gates of Vienna I take a little moment to become part of Lars Vilks Mohammed the Dog caricatures "artwork", and for extra karma add Chris Muir's excellent Day By Day cartoon response :

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Intense attack on Diwaniyah XV/07

So the latest from Diwaniyah , its been comparatively quiet for a while but that (yet again) just changed in a hurry -

July 2 Blackanthem reports that
Insurgents targeted Camp Echo and the surrounding area with as many as 75 mortars and rockets in the early hours of July 2. Coalition Forces responded to the threat with an F-16 air strike on identified points of origin of the attack.
75? That is astounding. That is no longer hit and run. It doesn't happen in a minute or two unless there is a whole battery firing. In either case there is enough time and/or target to respond.
At around 2.00 a.m. Camp Echo and near-by residents of Diwaniyah City suffered a barrage of indiscriminate mortar fire and rocket attacks from insurgents operating in the Al Jumuri district. About 25 mortars and rockets struck within the perimeter of Camp Echo, injuring 3 Coalition Soldiers. The remaining 50 rounds impacted outside of the base in the surrounding neighborhood.
That implies that Echo is surrounded by civilian homes, which is not entirely true. The lack of collateral damage if missing Echo is one of the factors which allows the insurgents to fire at will.
Coalition Forces identified a number of launch points for this attack and directed two F16 aircraft to respond. The aircraft targeted and bombed the insurgent launch sites.

The bulk of the attacks were conducted from Salim Street, where insurgents persistently use urban areas from which to attack, in order to use civilians as human shields. Coalition Forces are reviewing the incident to ensure that appropriate and proportionate force was used in responding to the intense attack.
"Reviewing the incident"? They just had to finally respond to 75 shots inbound, but oh man, what did they actually bomb? The Latvians have left and there is no infantry to send or what?

Air strikes into urban terrain tend to be comparatively ineffectual and with massive collateral damage, making them rather counterproductive. Indescriminate US air strikes are considered one of the prime factors driving support for insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan. William Lind puts it best in his recent note The Perfect (Sine) Wave:
To put it bluntly, there is no surer or faster way to lose in 4GW than by calling in airstrikes. It is a disaster on every level. Physically, it inevitably kills far more civilians than enemies, enraging the population against us and driving them into the arms of our opponents. Mentally, it tells the insurgents we are cowards who only dare fight them from 20,000 feet in the air. Morally, it turns us into Goliath, a monster every real man has to fight.
Reuters reports local hospital sources that 10 civilians including children and 30 wounded (Iraqslogger makes that 13 and 30). Needless to say, that ain't going to make no friends. In the weakly linked cause-and-effect state that is the arab mind the 75 mortar bombs may well be considered as retribution for the bombing.

Unsurprisingly, Iraqslogger reports that the locals are hopping mad, that tensions are high and could break out at any moment. Figure to see more and bigger payback coming up for Echo.

Diwaniyah coverage drawdown.

Since the Latvian Infantry company has withdrawn from that unhappy den of mortar targets, Camp Echo at Diwaniyah, mine own small news roundup from Diwaniyah is more or less drawing to a close.

Apologies to the regular readers, for I see that a small group of folks presumably with relatives in Diwaniyah and/or Echo, have made this blog a daily stop. The Fort Myer's News Press even quoted The Rearguard in a story,
Here’s one of the entries she reads on a blog she checks every day. “June 13-14: During the night Camp Echo in Diwaniyah is hit four times by rockets and/or mortars, and Camp Delta in Al Kut twice. The Mahdi army is busy these days. Four times in one night, that’s a new low in hostility. We are real close to the “Hourly attack on Diwaniyah” here.”
Irritatingly, the jackals failed to attribute or link.

However I will keep an eye on Diwaniyah for the moment, since it appears to have gone hot again.

Latvian infantry withdraws from Iraq

On June 19th Latvia has finally withdrawn the infantry from Iraq as promised by the MoD, for which there is much rejoicing.
  • 4 years
  • 1150 soldiers
  • 3 killed
  • $40 million
For my opinion the last two are terribly expensive. The whole of the Iraq is not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier.

actually posted an article. So much for even handed coverage of the coalition of the willing, this the first and only one so much as mentioning Latvian participation in the coalition entitled "Latvian Troops Head Home : Baltic State Ends MNF Deployment".

However, Latvia has not withdrawn from OIF entirely, just the infantry (TVNet).

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Daily attack on Diwaniyah XIV/07

The spiral keeps going down, with no end in sight :

June 13-14
During the night Camp Echo in Diwaniyah is hit four times by rockets and/or mortars, and Camp Delta in Al Kut twice (Lv MoD)

The Mahdi army is busy these days. Four times in one night, thats a new low in hostility. We are real close to the "Hourly attack on Diwaniyah" here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Weekly Daily attack on Diwaniyah XII/07

The weekly attack is back.

Diwaniyah itself has been moderately hot, but most of the damage has come from Iraqi police and army fighting the Mahdi Army militia. General Othman and the 8th Iraqi Division appear to have their act together, and most remarkably are getting the previously useless police to pull some load. Their efforts have apparently kept Camp Echo unmortared for a couple weeks, until last Friday night when the post sermon hate arrived :

June 3 Iraqi army kills 4 suspected insurgents and loses one of the own near Diwaniyah (Blackanthem)
June 4 Clases between the Sadrists and US forces wound four in Diwaniyah (Reuters)
June 6 Fighting between Iraqi army and Mahdi Army leaves three dead (Iraqslogger)
June 9 Camp Echo is mortared in the evening (Lv MoD), but see below and following
June 10 Another US serviceman, Airman 1st Class Barnes, is kiled by IED attack on a convoy in/near Diwaniyah (Plain Dealer), while F-16s provide top cover for ground forces that has taken mortar fire near Diwaniyah (Air Force Link)
June 11-12 Camp Echo takes rocket fire during the night(Lv MoD)

According to the Alalam Iranian satellite TV news site on 9 June "Tens wounded in Diwaniyah clashes between Mahdi Army and a joint US-Dutch force" (Alalam). Joint US-Dutch force? Sounds like BS to me, because the Dutch have long since ended their mission in Iraq. So much for Iranian propaganda news , 'cause the Alalam site is publishing blatant crap despite their slogan being "Winning the Trust of Audience". Losers.

However, speaking of "media" and "losers" our own western MSM has completely missed the significance of Iraqi troops taking up the fight in Diwaniyah. But be reassured, they do a sterling job of reporting US casualties among other reverses in the Diwaniyah area.


Did I mention the weekly daily attack on Camp Echo was back?

Perhaps because of the June 12 Askariya shrine bombing things down Diwaniyah way have gone completely pear shaped again overnight.

June 12 Camp Echo rocketed about 2200 (Lv MoD)
June 13 Camp Echo rocketed about 0400 (Lv MoD)

Friday, June 01, 2007

No attacks on Diwaniyah XI/07

I can find no reports of Echo being mortared, rocketed or shot in the last two weeks. Thats a big change. Trouble still brewing all around of course :

May 16 Fighting in Diwaniyah, 8 civilians wounded, one soldier and one policemam (Reuters)
May 17 Three civilians killed and four wounded in clashes between militia and security forces (Iraqslogger)
May 18 Three Iraqi security forces from a army-police "emergency contingent" wounded by "gunmen" (Iraqslogger)
May 19 Latvian Defence Minister Atis Slakteris visits our troops in Diwaniyah(Delfi)
May 20 Another IED attack near Diwaniyah. One US soldier killed, two wounded (BBC)
May 25 Three offduty Iraqi soldier killed in Diwaniyah (Reuters)
May 30 IED kills two and wounds two police (Telegraph)

On the one hand its now summer and just too damn hot for casual insurgents, but on the other hand the Iraqi security forces appear to have got their act together, which is a quite remarkable development. I opined it would take a fresh elite Iraqi brigade to secure the place after the US surge left, and from the reports above it appears that some kind of Iraqi force ("emergency contingent") has been put into place, and so far getting the job done. The mainstream media of course completely fails to report this, happily reporting casualties and fighting while refusing to them in any perspective.

Good news is no news, right CNN/Reuters/AP?

In other news which the MSM does report : There are reports in the Arab press that the Americans are threatening by helicopter dropped pamphlets to build a base in the center of Diwaniyah (Iraqslogger), though that whole story sounds pretty damn unlikely. It is now widely reported that opium poppies ares being grown ino the fields around Diwaniyah (The Independent among others). Iraqslogger gleefully reports that "Shi'a Rivalries Succeed Where Al-Qa'ida Fails", which gives some idea of the can of worms we opened by invading Iraq. The WaPo explains that "Iraq's Sadr Overhauls His Tactics".

Last word today to one of the neocons (that is to say one of the idiots who got us into this mess) Frederick Kagan: in this article he mentions Diwaniyah and has met the local Iraqi army commander :
On a recent trip to Iraq, I saw the human stakes in this struggle. I spoke with the commander of the 8th Iraqi Army Division in Diwaniyah, Major General Othman. He is a Shia, commanding a heavily Shia unit in an entirely Shia area. I asked him what was the most serious challenge he faced. He answered at once: Shia militias. General Othman stands strongly for an Iraq ruled by law, in which the government holds a monopoly on the use of force, and in which Sunni and Shia are treated equally. He has put his beliefs to the test of battle. When he saw that members of Moktada al-Sadr's Shia militia, the Mahdi Army, had taken control of the city of Diwaniyah, he conducted a large-scale clearing operation with the help of American forces and drove them out. General Othman now holds Diwaniyah, where the people can breathe free again, subject neither to that militia nor to any other. There is no turning back for General Othman. The Mahdi Army is determined to kill him and his family, and they will do so if we do not continue to support him. The life of this decent man is in our hands.
Good luck General Othman, you gonna need it.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Weekly attack on Diwaniyah X/07

Diwaniyah was back to something approaching normal.

4 May Iraqslogger :
A curfew was imposed on Diwaniya city on Friday night after fierce clashes between gunmen and a joint force of Iraqi and U.S. troops killing an Iraqi soldier and wounding three others, a security source said.
Order is imposed with heavy hand and voila! A Friday night curfew means no Friday night hate. So they switch to Monday.

6 May
Rockets are fired at Camp Echo in the morning, no details and presumably no serious damage. (Lv MoD)

Still, that's only one attack reported in like a whole week. Pretty cool, except that the Cavalry apparently left Diwaniyah by 8 May (Blackanthem, Stars and Stripes). Were they replaced? It is not clear, but if not, then we would expect trouble to ratchet up again presto.

9 May Iraqslogger :
Unknown gunmen on Wednesday shot and killed a police officer outside his house in northern Diwaniya city, 180 km south of Baghdad, a police source said.
10 May : US Army Private first class Roy Jones of 984th Military Police Company/759th Military Police Battalion is severely wounded by small arms fire around 5 pm in Diwaniyah, he is evacuated but dies of his wounds later. Jones is 21 and came from Houston, joined the Army in March 2006 and was sent to Iraq six months later. (US DoD , Colorado Springs Gazette , Blackanthem (1), (2))

11 May Iraqslogger:
An Iraqi army soldier was killed and six policemen wounded when two explosive devices went off near two army and police patrols in Diwaniya, 180 km south of Baghdad, on Thursday night, a security source said
12 May Iraqslogger:
Unknown gunmen on Saturday shot dead a police officer in Diwaniya, 180 km south of Baghdad, a security source said.
13 May Iraqslogger
Iraqi forces detained on Sunday afternoon a leading figure from Sadr movement along with four of his brothers in the Shiite city of Diwaniya, 180 km south of Baghdad, a police source said.
13 May In the evening a Latvian patrol is fired on, no details, presumably no serious damage(Lv MoD)

Damn. At least from this armchair that sure looks like trouble ratcheting up again. Thus so much for Black Eagle, maybe because as Mr. Lind says : sweeps don't work.

Heh, at least Iraqslogger has started posting the news for weekends. It only remains for Jordan Eason's minions to spell "Diwaniyah" properly and find some sources for attribution.

Lastly, if anyone is interested, Global Terrorism Analysis (published by the Jamestown Foundation) has posted "Shiite Power Struggle Unfolds in Diwaniya" on the background of the ongoing violence in Diwaniyah.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Weekly attack on Diwaniyah IX/07

Diwaniyah seems pretty quiet, so chalk up Black Eagle as a win (for the moment). Summer is coming and Iraq heating up, 40°C daytime temperatures already.

24 April Four rockets fired at Camp Echo (Iraqslogger quoting "a security source")
30 April
Several rockets fired at Camp Echo, no serious damage (Lv MoD).
02 May Explosives attack on US vehicle in Diwaniayh. Vehicle damaged, no casualties reported. (Iraqslogger quoting "a police source")

Considering Eason Jordan's risible track record, Iraqslogger is rather informative, but I have serious reservations about it. There is much material but serious omissions (which is, on second thought, very much in character).
  • Iraqslogger only works workdays -the oh so characteristic Friday/Saturday post Friday sabbath sermon hate goes unmentioned.
  • The "coalition" coverage appears to be nigh exclusively of the Brits (or withdrawals). Although the rest of the Coalition of the Willing is laughably small numerically (and dwindling), it is rather important politically, and for that reason alone demands at least token coverage.
  • Thirdly, it is real weak on naming sources to the point of universal anonymity, hence cannot be trusted (i.e. "slogger sources report that...."). For instance, the reports on attacks on Echo in Diwaniyah match pretty poorly with the reports carefully placed on the Lv MoD homepage.
So anything written without proper sourcing in Iraqslogger must be taken with a grain of salt. Unfortunately, that appears to be most of it.