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Some more thoughts on the Ethiopian push into Somalia (and links) here. Might be the first time I have ever linked to an African Union press comunique in French...
Time to embargo heavy weapons from entering Somalia?
I think so.
Somalia calls on Islamists to surrenderMeanwhile, the New York Times' proxy site, the International Herald Tribune, declares:
Islamic fighters retreated Tuesday as Somali government and Ethiopian troops advanced on three fronts in a decisive turn in the battle for control of this Horn of Africa nation.
Somalia's internationally backed government called on the Council of Islamic Courts to surrender and promised amnesty if they lay down their weapons, spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said from Baidoa, the seat of the interim administration.
In Somalia, a reckless U.S. proxy war
Undeterred by the horrors and setbacks in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, the Bush administration has opened another battlefront in the Muslim world. With full U.S. backing and military training, at least 15,000 Ethiopian troops have entered Somalia in an illegal war of aggression against the Union of Islamic Courts, which controls almost the entire south of the country.
BAGHDAD - The death sentence on Saddam Hussein and two co-defendants in his trial for crimes against humanity will be carried out within 30 days, appeals court judge Arif Shaheen said Tuesday.
"It cannot exceed 30 days. As from tomorrow the sentence could be carried out at any time," the judge said, after confirming that the sentences had been upheld and that the trial process was complete and without appeal.
Photo: Russ Nolan/British Army
British forces raided the headquarters of a rogue police unit in Basra on Christmas morning to free prisoners who were about to be executed.All done!
Many of the 127 captives were found in a cramped and squalid cell at the headquarters of the serious crimes unit and showed signs of torture, officers said.
After the raid by 1,000 British and Iraqi troops, Royal Engineers laid charges and blew up the two-storey concrete building, known locally as the "station of death."
The serious crimes unit is the same police division raided in September last year to free two SAS troopers who were about to be sold to insurgents.
Major Charlie Burbridge said seven militia were killed in the raid at 2am local time (11pm British time).
"We came under small arms fire and RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) fire and we exchanged fire with the gunmen and killed seven on the way into the objective," he said.
"We then experienced some resistance at the police station itself. There was an exchange of fire but no casualties there."
Major Burbridge said: "We identified the serious crimes unit as, frankly, too far gone. We just had to get rid of it."
"Crimes Unit? That's pretty much what it does." said Capt Tane Dunlop, an Army spokesman.
Mohammed al-Askari, a spokesman for Iraq's defence ministry, said the operation was co-ordinated with the Iraqi government.
An Iraqi security official said the government decided two days ago to eliminate the serious crimes unit and punish some officers.
"The interior minister decided to cancel the serious crimes unit in Basra city and replace it with a new one based inside the headquarters of Basra police," he said.
"The decision was made two days ago on the grounds of security violations by the serious crimes unit."
The deaths of six more American soldiers in Iraq pushed the U.S. death toll to at least 2,978 -- five more than the number killed in the September 11 attacks -- as bombs killed more than 20 people in Baghdad on Tuesday.
The Reuters article also notes that December was the higest month for US casualties this year except for October which was higher than December (other months in previous years have had higher death tolls), and calls for the US to surrender now.
At least 89 U.S. soldiers have died so far this month, making it the deadliest this year after October's toll of 106, and adding pressure on President George W. Bush to find a strategy to extricate 135,000 U.S. troops from the messy war.The death toll in Iraq has exceeded that of a couple hours one September morning mere weeks after the length of the war exceeded that of WWII. The percentage of Americans killed in hostile action in Iraq remains at .15% (point-one-five percent, or fifteen-hundredths of one percent) of those deployed in the war on terror.
Once more, someone has suggested bringing back the battleships.
I don't agree.
Iraq protests at US arrest of Iranian diplomat
BAGHDAD - Iraq’s president protested on Monday against the arrest by US forces in Iraq of two Iranian diplomats who US officials said were seized in raids against Iranians suspected of planning attacks on Iraqi security forces.
“Two Iranian diplomats were detained by the Americans,” said Hiwa Othman, media adviser for Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.
“The president is unhappy. He is talking to the Americans about it as we speak."
“We suspect this event validates our claim about Iranian meddling,” said a White House spokesman.
In Tehran, the ISNA student news agency said the Foreign Ministry had summoned the Swiss ambassador to Tehran to discuss the arrests. The Swiss embassy represents US interests in Iran since diplomatic relations between Tehran and Washington were cut after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
“This move is not compatible with any international regulations and will provoke unpleasant repercussions,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said, ISNA reported.
Now ain't this interesting...
BAGHDAD, Dec. 24 — The American military is holding at least four Iranians in Iraq, including men the Bush administration called senior military officials, who were seized in a pair of raids late last week aimed at people suspected of conducting attacks on Iraqi security forces, according to senior Iraqi and American officials in Baghdad and Washington.
Gordon D. Johndroe, the spokesman for the National Security Council, said two Iranian diplomats were among those initially detained in the raids. The two had papers showing that they were accredited to work in Iraq, and he said they were turned over to the Iraqi authorities and released. He confirmed that a group of other Iranians, including the military officials, remained in custody while an investigation continued, and he said, “We continue to work with the government of Iraq on the status of the detainees.”
It was unclear what kind of evidence American officials possessed that the Iranians were planning attacks, and the officials would not identify those being held. One official said that “a lot of material” was seized in the raid, but would not say if it included arms or documents that pointed to planning for attacks. Much of the material was still being examined, the official said.
Nonetheless, the two raids, in central Baghdad, have deeply upset Iraqi government officials, who have been making strenuous efforts to engage Iran on matters of security. At least two of the Iranians were in this country on an invitation extended by Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani, during a visit to Tehran earlier this month. It was particularly awkward for the Iraqis that one of the raids took place in the Baghdad compound of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, one of Iraq’s most powerful Shiite leaders, who traveled to Washington three weeks ago to meet President Bush.
Over the past four days, the Iraqis and Iranians have engaged in intense behind-the-scenes efforts to secure the release of the remaining detainees. One Iraqi government official said, “The Iranian ambassador has been running around from office to office.”
Iraqi leaders appealed to the American military, including to Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the senior American ground commander in Iraq, to release the Iranians, according to an Iraqi politician familiar with the efforts. The debate about what to do next has also engaged officials in the White House and the State Department. The national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, has been fully briefed, officials said, though they would not say what Mr. Bush has been told about the seizure or the identity of the detainees.
A senior Western official in Baghdad said the raids were conducted after American officials received information that the people detained had been involved in attacks on official security forces in Iraq. “We conduct operations against those who threaten Iraqi and coalition forces,” the official said. “This was based on information.”
But what about their access to lawyers?!