I’m trying something new for me in this blog. Please feel free to blog about anything you read here. Please link to where you found it.
As Maliki announced the beginning of the operation from Karbala, Iraqi and U.S. Forces pressed the security crackdown in Baghdad. Late Wednesday the borders with Iran and Syria were completely closed down for 72 hours. The Burantha Shiite mosque (affiliated with SCIRI) was raided and a large cache of machine guns and rifles seized on Wednesday, underlining the universal nature of the current operations. The B-1 bomber has even been spotted over Baghdad. (Iraq the Model) On Thursday, Operation Law and Order set up checkpoints and conducted searches and clearing operations around Baghdad (VOA) U.S.-Iraqi patrols went into the Dora neighborhood of Baghdad, the northeast suburb of Buhriz. (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette) Two large arms caches were discovered in Lutifiyah, near Baghdad.
Iraqi Army forces targeted a murder-kidnapping gang in Mashru, south of Suwayrah, detaining several suspects. In Salman Pak, a shackled hostage, who had been hooded for three days and stated that he believed he was soon to be executed, was freed by coalition forces. Four hostage takers found in the same building were taken prisoner. (DefenseLink, MNF Iraq)
3,000 Iraqi and British troops started a lockdown in Basra, which has been suffering the tender mercies of feuding gangs of criminals and Shi’ite militants. (Reuters)
Iraqi officials announced that Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, was wounded in a battle near Balad, north of Baghdad. One of his aides was killed in the same operation. (VOA) The aide has been identified as Abu Abdullah al-Majemaai. (Yahoo News)
Where is Moqtada? First, U.S. forces stated that Moqtada al-Sadr had fled Iraq for Iran ahead of Law and Order. Then Sadr aides denied it. U.S. sources repeated their assertions. Now an Iraqi government source has confirmed that Sadr is currently in Tehran, Iran, sheltering near his extended family (Pajamas Media, Iraq Pundit). Sadr has ordered the leaders of his so-called “Mehdi Army” militia to leave Iraq ahead of the crackdown. (Reuters) Will his flight from Iraq discount him as a courageous leader against U.S. and Iraqi government forces, or is personal courage of little account to his audience?
A video of Army Specialist Ahmed Kousey al-Taie of Detroit, who was kidnapped in Baghdad in November, was shown on CNN. (Yahoo News)
The 3,200-strong 173rd Airborne Brigade out of Vicenza, Italy, will be deployed to Afghanistan instead of Iraq.
The U.N. estimates 40,000 to 50,000 Iraqis flee the country every month, with the same number migrating within Iraq. 700,000 Iraqis have sought refuge in Jordan, where they are causing problems. (VOA) The U.S. Administration has proposed to accept about 7,000 Iraqi refugees in the U.S. (about 10 times the number who have already been allowed) and will contribute $18M to the U.N.’s worldwide resettlement and relief programs. (Yahoo News) Iraqis in the U.S. applaud the plan.
In Washington D.C., President Bush’s nominees for ambassador in Iraq and Afghanistan were introduced. Ryan Crocker, nominated as ambassador to Iraq, and William Wood, nominated as ambassador to Afghanistan, appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (VOA)
Auditors appeared before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to speak about wasteful spending in the Iraq reconstruction effort. (AP)
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has begun educating reporters at the Pentagon about Iranian involvement in Iraq, including describing the players in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Quds Force, and other parts of the autocratic Iranian government. (VOA) Echoing President Bush, he stated that it wasn’t proved that Iran’s top leadership has given the orders to smuggle Iranian weapons into Iraq to kill U.S. and Iraqi soldiers and police. Perhaps the autocratic Iranian government is unable to control arms smugglers operating inside its borders, and unable to prevent arms smugglers from stealing weapons from the IRGC. Perhaps up is down and pigs fly. The truth about Iranian weapon smuggling is apparent and has been for two years, but something else is going on behind the curtains.
Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, enervating debate on the plan for Iraq was extended to a fourth day. (VOA) Two powerful legislators, John Murtha and Joe Biden, have begun to implement their plan to slowly starve the U.S. Military in Iraq of resources, which will cause U.S. defeat in Iraq to be inevitable, and to be blamed on George W. Bush. Democrats are bringing out the veterans to establish their military credentials for the debate on the non-binding resolution against trying to win in Iraq. A million-dollar ad campaign against the war, featuring maimed Iraq veterans, is being coordinated with the debate. Biden is still pushing the partition of Iraq. Democratic Senators are planning to hold the first test vote on the resolution on Saturday. Why a weekend vote?
A British judge dismissed charges against five British soldiers accused of mistreating Iraqi civilians. Other soldiers still face the original charges.
An Iraqi General has something to say about AP’s favorite Baghdad police captain, the pseudonymous Jamil Hussein. AP has not responded.
Iraq has reopened its embassy to Saudi Arabia.