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Center Column Archives
On January 30th
, Bush ordered on a second aircraft carrier strike group to the Gulf region, raising the US naval presence in the region to its highest level since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
A U.S. buildup for war against Iran may currently be underway. President Bush has ordered the US military to "seek out and destroy" Iranian networks in Iraq, and confirmed last week that he has authorized American troops to capture or kill "Iranian agents". The chief accusation being levelled against the Iranian regime is that its agents are supporting and arming Shiite militias inside Iraq to attack US troops—a charge that has yet to be substantiated with concrete evidence. The US, on the other hand, is confirmed to have armed the main Shia militia group, the Badr Brigade, through arms transfers to the Iraqi army.
US policy towards Iran may also be shaping US policy towards the Palestinans, with some seeing the current fighting between Fatah and Hamas in Gaza
as part of the US's larger policy against Iran.
On Wednesday, January 10
George Bush gave a "major policy address" announcing an increase in US troop levels in Iraq.
He said he "took responsibility" for past mistakes but that more troops are needed to pacify Baghdad and other parts of the country. The President also threatened military action against Iran and Syria.
The first wave of additional troops has already begun deploying to the region, and a total of six brigades will be ordered all together, five into the city of Baghdad and one into Anbar Province, center of the Sunni insurgency against the US occupation. Bush has also sent an additional aircraft carrier task force into the Persian Gulf.
On December 30th, 2006
, former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging.
Saudi Arabia criticised Iraq's Shi'ite leaders for executing former Iraqi leader during the Eid al-Adha religious feast.
Human Rights Watch came out against the execution stating that the execution "following a deeply flawed trial for crimes against humanity marks a significant step away from respect for human rights and the rule of law in Iraq"
Before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Saddam Hussein was a US ally against Iran.
In the 1980s, the Reagan administration covertly provided critical battle planning assistance to Hussein at a time when American intelligence knew that Iraqi commanders would employ chemical weapons in waging the decisive battles of the Iran-Iraq war.
On December 23rd
, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani rejected a US backed plan for a new coalition in the Iraqi parliament that would have allied the Shiite Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq with the Sunni Arab Iraqi Islamic Party and the Kurdistan Alliance. The plan aimed at isolating the 32 Sadrist members of parliament and depriving them of the ability to bring down the prime minister.
On December 25th
, British troops raided the headquarters of an Iraqi police unit in Basra, claiming they heard that the unit was infiltrated by Shiite militiamen and planning to kill their prisoners.
Basra City Council withdrew co-operation from UK forces in southern Iraq to protest the raid.
The US military has also conducted raids against the Badr Corps militia of the Shiite Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, in the course of which it arrested four Iranian officials. It had to let two of them go when it transpired that they were diplomats invited into Iraq by President Jalal Talabani, a close US ally.
On November 23rd
, sectarian warfare in Iraq escalated after more than 200 people died and at least 250 were wounded in Baghdad, in the deadliest single day of attacks since the US invasion in 2003.
A Johns Hopkins study published in UK journal The Lancet
estimates that 655,000 more Iraqis have died as a result of war and political violence since March 2003 than would have died if mortality rates had remained the same as during 2002. Both violent and nonviolent death rates are now significantly above pre-war values, with the violence mainly concentrated in Sunni areas. While the number of additional deaths in the first year after the war was likely over 100,000, over half the total additional deaths are from this past year alone.
PDF of Johns Hopkins study
On Saturday, August 19th
, which would have been Abeer Hamza's 15th birthday, candlelight vigils were held in several cities. Abeer Hamza was the young Iraqi woman who was raped and killed, along with her family, in March of this year by US occupation forces. The vigils in for Berkeley, New York, and Los Angeles were organized by a group of 8 young women who were outraged by the story of what happened to the Hamza family. In Berkeley, people gathered for a vigil at Willard Park from 7:30 to 9:30pm.