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.
- On the heels of last week's destruction of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle that killed seven American soldiers, the weekend included five Iraqis killed in a skirmish south of Baghdad, an F16 mistakenly killing five Iraqis with an ill-placed bomb, and the death of an American soldier in an IED explosion.
- With the hearings for Alberto Gonzales ongoing, torture and Abu Ghraib are hot topics throughout the blogosphere. Wretchard is examining the question of what constitutes torture (start here and scroll down for more), while Glenn Reynolds offers two link-rich roundups. The discussion will only heat up with the beginning of the trial for alleged Abu Ghraib ringleader SPC Charles Graner.
- Retired General Gary Luck is going to Iraq on a fact-finding tour at the behest of Donald Rumsfeld. Phillip Carter notes this is good news, as it suggests the administration recognizes the problems it is facing in Iraq and is looking for ways to fix them.
Other Topics Today Include: Iraqi special forces go on the offensive; Kerry visits Iraq; Fallujah rebuilding begins; another political candidate murdered; Islam and democracy; UN report on oil-for-food due soon; saving Iraqi police dogs.
REPORTS FROM THE FIELD
- Elements of the US Marine Corps 31st MEU are working with Iraqi Specialized Special Forces to disrupt transient camps, supply routes and safe houses used by foreign fighters infiltrating into Iraq from Syrai, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Col. W. Lee Miller, 31st MEU commander says, "“The word is out that they’re going to be cold and miserable. Those guys who want to get their jihad on like it’s spring break won’t want to do that now."
- Democratic Senator John Kerry visited the troops in Iraq over the past week. His visit drew some mixed reviews.
RECONSTRUCTION & THE ECONOMY
- In the wake of the US retaking of Fallujah, residents are beginning to trickle back into the city. The US and Iraqi governments are now expending massive resources to rebuild the homes and infrastructure that were destroyed. There is also an effort to recompense residents for the destruction of their property.
- A leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party, Omar Mahmoud Abdullah, was kidnapped and assassinated in Mosul. The Iraqi Islamic Party is one of the Sunni political organizations which recently declared they would not participate in the upcoming elections. The assassination was probably not politically motivated . It is suspected to have been carried out by Al Qaeda in Iraq, as was the recent assassination attempt of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a leading Shia cleric and leader of Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI).
- There is a Sadrist slate in the upcoming elections afterall. Fatah al-Sheik of the Independent National Leaders Party is a self-described Sadrist, although he states he is not representing Muqtada al-Sadr. The Independent National Leaders are fielding more than 200 candidates in the upcoming elections and al-Sheik is spending a great amount of time "pressing the flesh" in Sadr City.
- Ali asks if Islam is compatible with democracy, an extremely important question as we seek to test the question later this month in Iraq. His answer points to some of the problems we can expect to see as the fight for liberalization of the Middle East continues. (Hat tip: Iraq the Model.)
- Omar reports on a poll of Baghdad residents that has some encouraging signs for the upcoming elections, if it's accurate.
THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE
- The UN internal audit of the Iraqi oil-for-food program will fault the UN bureaucracy for failing to adequately supervise companies hired to oversee the program.
- The good news is that Iraqis can speak out against the interim Iraqi government. The bad news is that the 'republic of fear' lives on thanks to the various insurgent movements.
- A court-martial convicted an Army SFC to reduction in rank and six months confinement for his role in the death of an Iraqi national he ordered thrown into the Tigris River.
- An Army Reserve MP Detachment CO, Captain Gabriella Cook, is appealing to anyone who can help feed 13 Iraqi police dogs, who are living on garbage and table scraps. Senator John Ensign (R-Nev), a veterinarian, directed a legislative aide to contact an Army liaison to investigate.
- 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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