Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. This briefing is brought to you by Joel Gaines of No Pundit Intended and Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted dot com.
- The weekend saw a rare sight in Iraq: air strikes against insurgent forces. The western Iraq town of Qaim is reported to be an insurgent stronghold, so Marines did not hesitate to call in air strikes against them as they battled for control of a road near the town. The United States claims 40 insurgents killed with no American fatalities, although with Qaim still in insurgent hands, how accurate the casualty claims are is open to question.
- Arthur Chrenkoff's latest installment of Good News from Iraq (vol. 29) is up. It's also arranged by category on Winds of Change.NET.
- Iraq's Sunnis complain that things in Iraq have never been worse, an unsurprising claim given their privileged status under the Hussein government. Regardless of the objectivity of the complaint, the Sunnis do have the ability to sink the referendum on the new Iraqi constitution being written if it does not consider their concerns to a sufficient degree.
- Dan Darling looks at the Iraqi insurgency, the regional nature of the Iraq war, and the state of debate. Debate is pretty good in the comments section, though - some intelligent points made.
Other Topics Today Include: a death toll milestone; insurgents look to trade guns for ballots; reconstruction highlights; An Najaf airport set to reopen; infrastructure attacks; Sunni politicians reject compromise; Carnival of the Liberated; Downing Street memo blowback; al-Zarqawi, social leader.
REPORTS FROM THE FIELD
- Four U.S. soldiers were killed by roadside bombs around Baghdad over the weekend, pushing the American fatality toll above 1,700. The raw number means little with out the context of whether or not the fight for Iraq is deemed worthwhile, but it will doubtless be a feature in much media coverage this week.
- An Iraqi government spokesman claims that several insurgent groups are seeking to leave the fighting behind in exchange for a role in the political process. If true, this could be a significant victory for the interim government.
- It has not seemed to have greatly impacted terror operations being conducted by AQ in Iraq. Thirty-six Iraqi national guard soldiers are reportedly being held hostage for their "crimes against Sunnis".
- JK: Here's another good reminder of who our enemies really are. Iraqis and allied forces are reporting feet taped to accelerator pedals and hands bound to steering wheels after car bombs have gone off. Wouldn't want anyone to have second thoughts, now, would we? But you know, these are the new minutemen. Michael Moore says so.
- JK: Alan Nelson blogs about The Gift of Valor, a reporter's eye view of Corporal Jason Dunham, U.S.M.C., who died from injuries suffered in Iraq when he covered an insurgent grenade with his battle helmet in an attempt to blunt the blow and minimize injuries to his troops.
- Check out Michael Yon's latest dispatch from Iraq - Lost in Translation.
RECONSTRUCTION & THE ECONOMY
- Here are some of this week's reconstruction highlights: The rehabilitation of a major sewage treatment plant in Karbala is now 40% complete. Representatives from USAID, the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, and the UK’s Department for International Development recently met in Amman, Jordan to assess the needs of Iraqi Ministries seeking to move key state-owned enterprises off the national budget. Staff from the PSD program recently assessed a food processing facility in southern Iraq to gauge current standards for food safety and public health.Farmers, government officials, and students are participating in a series of barley field days with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture and USAID’s Agriculture Reconstruction and Development for Iraq program.The USAID partner supporting the Iraqi Transitional Government held two advocacy training sessions in May for 49 women representing seven political parties and several non-governmental organizations. A community of villages outside of Mosul worked with USAID’s Community Action Program to improve the delivery ward in their local hospital. The new facilities will include an operating room, a room for labor, a post-natal room, and two offices for doctors. Sixty-eight Iraqi English teachers recently attended a two week English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher training program in Amman, Jordan. Total USAID Contracts 2003 to June 2005 = $5,070,354,503.00.
- The An Najaf Airport is set to reopen after several years of dormancy. The first flight is said to be to Tehran. Apparently, Iranian Shiites consider the cemetery in An Najaf to be "the" place to bury their dead.
- Attacks on Iraqi infrastructure are still occurring. This past week terrorists destroyed a portion of a main oil export pipeline just north of the northern refining town of Baiji.The pipeline is expected to be back online in two weeks.
- Sunni politicians rejected an offer by the National Assembly to have 15 Sunnis on the constitutional committee by expanding the number of seats, saying they would hold out for 25 of the present 55 total seats on the committee. Currently, only 17 Sunnis sit in parliament and only two are now on the 55-seat constitutional committee. Some Sunnis have called for a boycott of the constitutional committee, much as the did for the elections.
- The latest Carnival of the Liberated is up at Dean's World.
THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE
- The U.S. government is strongly denying that it failed to do much planning for postwar Iraq in the months leading up to the war, as reported in a British memo dated eight months prior to the start of the war. This report, in the wake of the 'Downing Street memo' that claimed that the United States decided to go to war and shaped intelligence to support the decision, has become the focus of renewed arguments by critics of the Bush and Blair administrations, albeit too late to affect the decision.
- JK: James Robbins has a fuller treatment of the memo, pointing out that they differ little from published reports by newspapers in 2002. Let Freedom Ring puts the memo in the context of long-standing Congressional policy on Iraq, and also notes comments by fmr. Democratic Sen. Charles Robb (see end of post) re: the treatment of intelligence and "undue influence". Andrew Sullivan's take on all this can best be described as "dismissive and bored".
- French journalist Florence Aubenas is home after 157 days in captivity. It is uncertain whether her kidnappers were terrorists or simple criminals seeking money, but in either case the odds are good they collected quite a few francs in exchange for Aubenas's release.
- While there is still a great deal of rumor regarding the health of Abu Massab al Zarqawi, Juan Cole finds Zarqawi to be the mythical product of the Bush administration's attempt to mislead the media and is simply the leader of a "social movement".
- Here is an interesting story about the Gypsy population of Iraq. Iraq was characterized as a "secular state" during the reign of Saddam Hussein. It is widely understood that Saddam's secularism was more a product of protection for Saddam and the Ba'ath party than out of any genial element of Saddam's humanity. Secularism was forced in Iraq. However, the town of Kamalia no longer has a population of 50,000 Gypsies and the name is changed to one more suited to a Muslim population. Read more.
- Saddam Hussein will face the 12 "fully documented" crimes against humanity charges and there is no reason to wait until the entire list of 500 charges are ready to be tried. It is said that convictions in these 12 cases is enough to ensure Saddam the death penalty.
- Do you have your GI Bracelet? Many military families fall into financial hardship when the breadwinner is injured or killed. The entire $5 purchase price of the GI Bracelet is donated to support our troops and their families! Please join us to give back to these brave people in their time of need.
- The troops are still there. So is the Winds of Change.NET consolidated directory of ways you can support the troops: American, Australian, British, Canadian & Polish. Anyone out there with more information, contact us!
- Don't forget Chief Wiggles' Toys for Iraq drive!
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