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.
- Iraqi political leaders met Sunday in an attempt to break the deadlock over the new Iraqi constitution. The National Assembly is supposed to approve the document on 15 August, meaning the deadline is fast approaching and there may be a great deal of wheeling and dealing to get a final document in place.
- Insurgents gained possibly their largest propaganda victory of the war with the destruction of a Marine AAV that killed 14 Marines alongside the deaths of six other Marines all from one Ohio town. The insurgency is using larger bombs as IEDs now, resulting in significantly great risk to forces travelling throughout Iraq. Dan Darling reports that the shaped IED are coming from Iran.
- Journalist and blogger Steven Vincent was murdered last week. Jim Henley takes a look at what Vincent was doing and comes to the sad conclusion that some problems are universal.
Other Topics Today Include: Monday and God's Will; U.S. troop withdrawal thoughts; reconstruction highlights; women's rights and the Iraqi constitutions; Carnival of the Liberated; Saddam's trial approaches; Rice says the insurgency is losing strength.
REPORTS FROM THE FIELD
- There are two dispatches from Michael Yon this week. Monday is an action filled account of good, bad, and ugly. God's Will eulogizes a young religious man killed by a sniper - his name is PFC Nils Thompson and he had just celebrated his 19th birthday.
- The United States is looking at drawing down its forces by 30,000 next year if security conditions are right. This would still leaving over 100,000 U.S. troops in the country, but the reduction would be sufficient to reduce the strain on the U.S.'s armed forces as well as pleasing constituencies in both Iraq and the U.S.
- Terrorists killed two employees of Iraq's oil ministry on Sunday, continuing their pressure on Iraq's infrastructure.
RECONSTRUCTION & THE ECONOMY
- Here are some of this week's reconstruction highlights: The necessary work to energize six of eight high priority substations in the Karkh and Rusafa Districts of Baghdad is completed. Approximately 70-80 percent of cereal crops are cultivated and harvested by privately-owned tractors and combine harvesters contracted by local farmers. A USAID grant will provide 28 rural mechanics with appropriate tools, equipment, and training to increase their knowledge of agricultural machinery maintenance, expanding locally available maintenance and repair services for the owners of approximately 3,000 tractors and 250 combine machines. The Directorate of Water Resources in Al Muthanna’ Governorate is working with USAID to rehabilitate a canal system that will irrigate 6,000 donums (1,200 hectares) of land farmed by 120 families. The Constitutional Dialogue program continues to be well received. In mid-July, dialogues reached the southern marshes, the southern deserts and a number of other remote areas. A women’s teacher training center in Babil Governorate was renovated and restored through a grant from USAID’s Community Action Program (CAP). CAP built two pedestrian tunnels under a main highway in At Tamim Governorate, used by more than 6,000 people daily, including hundreds of school children. The tunnels will protect pedestrians and improve the flow of commercial and public traffic. USAID’s program to improve basic education in Iraq has awarded 41 grants to Iraqi contractors to date totaling $2,885,924, including five school rehabilitation grants, four grants for education training center rehabilitations, and 32 grants for replacing mud schools.
- Will Iraq's new constitution erode women's rights? That is the fear of a number of human rights groups, who can be expected to maintain a great deal of pressure on Iraqi politicians to avoid such an error.
- The latest Carnival of the Liberated is up at Dean's World.
THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE
- In what may prove to be an unfortunate choice of words, Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice announced that the insurgency was losing its strength as a political force. While the statement may be accurate in its entirety, any statement that the insurgency is losing strength in the wake of last week's IED attack will ring hollow politically.
- British Member of parliament, George Galloway, has accused the UK and US of raping the countries occupied in the war on terror. He was already expelled from the Labour party for his remarks about the Iraq war.
- The Danish government is offering to build a home in Basra for any Iraqi refugee in Denmark, who wishes to return to Iraq.
- 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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