US soldier kills comrades in Iraq
A US soldier has shot dead five of his colleagues at a base in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, the Pentagon says.
Two other people were hurt in the shootings and the gunman is in custody, Pentagon officials have said.
An earlier military statement said the incident had happened at Camp Liberty near Baghdad’s international airport at about 1400 (1100 GMT).
The White House said US President Barack Obama was shocked by news of the “terrible tragedy”.
The president planned to discuss it with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, said spokesman Robert Gibbs.
“Any time we lose one of our own, it affects us all” Colonel John Robinson US army spokesman
The shooting reportedly occurred at a clinic where troops receive help for personal issues or combat stress.
It is not the first time a US soldier has opened fire on comrades in recent years.
One soldier was sentenced to death in 2005 after killing two officers and wounding 14 other personnel with grenades and a rifle at a camp in Kuwait.
The BBC’s Natalia Antelava, in Baghdad, says troops at Camp Liberty had been enjoying a much more relaxed atmosphere in recent months.
She says there have been few attacks on the base recently, so the timing of the shooting will make it particularly shocking to the soldiers there.
It is the deadliest single incident involving US forces since 10 April, when five soldiers were killed by a truck bomb in the northern city of Mosul.
“Any time we lose one of our own, it affects us all,” said military spokesman Colonel John Robinson.
“Our hearts go out to the families and friends of all the service members involved in this terrible tragedy.”
Earlier this month, a man in an Iraqi army uniform shot dead two US soldiers and injured three others at a base near Mosul.
Iraqi military reports said he was a soldier also working as an imam at a mosque on the base.
US forces are due to withdraw combat troops from Iraq by August 2010.
Was this good or was this bad? Perhaps both.
When Musharraf was the autocrat of Pakistan, he was good for The United States. But when he started to play politician, he became unreliable and undependable simply because he no longer controled all the levers of power in Pakistan. Add to this the intense opposition against him by various branches of the government, which did everything they could to stymie his efforts, and we get a situation that makes his cooperation with The United States difficult, if at all possible, and puts us in a position of supporting a man who has become useless.
Most supporters of Musharraf have been complaining that he veered off track soon after becoming the autocrat. They said, “He should be a general or a politician, not both.” In trying to be both, he essentially shot himself in the foot by opening himself up to being challenged, opposed, and taken down by forces he does not and cannot control. He should have stuck to being a general, with a puppet government and figurehead prime minister, while implementing those measures needed to make Pakistan stable and prosperous. Instead, he decided to usher in a wave of democracy, which brought him down.
This selfsame wave of democracy also moved Pakistan away from The United States. The people, who before had to simply accept Musharraf’s stance because they couldn’t do anything about it, began to express their disapproval of cooperating with The United States, and essentially began implementing measures and stances that hindered cooperation with The United States. In fact, the government of Pakistan turned from strenuously opposing militants to coddling and tolerating them, letting them take over key cities and areas rather then putting them down like it should have.
Having Musharraf in power also contributed to an environment of instability and uncertainty. The opposition to him was doing everything it could to unseat him, and we had no idea how successful they would be, or when they would try which trick, and what tricks would be next.
I hope that with Musharraf’s successor, attention to Pakistan’s military by Pakistanis will wane, allowing the military to take on more robust and active roles in flushing out the militants and preventing the establishment of a de facto Taliban mini-state in the North-West Frontier Province. With Musharraf out, critics cannot accuse the military of following Musharraf’s pro-American (and ostensibly anti-Islamic) policies. What is fortunate is that Kayani, the current head military guy, is our guy (or so it is believed). Without the intense public pressure, criticism, and opposition, maybe with the new president he’d be able to operate more freely.
Forging links with Kayani was a excellent decision by the Pentagon, and will help us move forward regardless of who is president of Pakistan. We cannot be tied down to one person, particularly a politician who, as such, is exposed to unpredictable maneuvers by opponents. I hope we are forging links with other military people so we can move forward regardless of unexpected circumstances that may befall Kayani.
In the end, Musharraf became useless, and part of this was his own fault. While democracy is good, there never has been democracy in Pakistan. It’s all a political game with dirty tricks, everyone manipulating (and even changing) the law to suit their needs and interests. There will never be resolution in Pakistan, and the government (and military) of Pakistan will always have to contend with militants. What we must prevent is Pakistan becoming an active supporter of militants, allowing them to use Pakistan as a base.
From DrewM. at Ace’s, “BREAKING: California Court Overturns Gay Marriage Ban”.
So, the California Supreme Court made a decision that bolstered same-sex marriage and shot down efforts by more conservative/traditional people to limit marriage to a man and a woman.
Now, I’m not going to get into this issue here, but I do want to point something out.
Some people, particularly on the libertarian side, simply want the State (as in “government”) to simply withdraw from marriage all together. They would like to see marriage as a private contract with no interference from the State. This will equalize couples and singles as well as depriving the major impetus of activists (for and against same-sex marriage) by essentially making it a moot point. If the State has no involvement, why agitate for legislation for or against it?
And I agree. I think that we would benefit ourselves and all of society, present and future, by handing marriage to society, making it a private endeavor, and kicking the State out of the issue.
But there’s a small problem. See, states have been involved in marriage for millennia. Indeed, family law is perhaps one of the oldest forms of law. Society, through states and laws and governments and judges and authorities, have regulated, recognized, and administered marriages since time immemorial. Marriage is so important that almost every single state has had a hand in it.
So, what does this mean? This means that people for and against same-sex marriage are going to be locked in battle for decades. It’s not going to go away.
And the issue cannot be decided definitively because the other side will do everything to challenge whatever has been decided and so things will always remain in flux to some degree.
Headline on an editorial in Investor’s Business Daily for Tuesday, April 22, 2008:
It’s about Jimmy Carter.
The blurb after that says:
Mideast: Ex-President Jimmy Carter thinks Hamas is ready to accept Israel’s existence and to “live as a neighbor next door in peace.” Has there ever been a former U.S. leader so deluded about historical reality?
Read the editorial. It’s good. Also, it’s distressing how blind some people can be to reality.
On Saturday April 5, 2008, the day the 178th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was to begin, federal authorities raided a polygamist compound in Eldorado, Texas, on grounds that its adult members were sexually abusing minors. (This is nothing new: most polygamist communities have been found committing statutory rape and other forms of sexual abuse of minors.) Whether in response to this incident or not, Elder Richard G. Scott gave a talk, “To Heal the Shattering Consequences of Abuse”, during the Saturday afternoon session of General Conference that strongly condemned sexual abuse.
But over the days, the Church has found itself in a defensive position. Allow me to clear issues. (I may write more posts about polygamy.) >
Major Stephen Coughlin, employed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was recently fired under pressure from Islamists, most alarmingly the ring-leading Islamist (Hisham Islam) working in the Department of Defense. They opposed his exposé of the rôle of Islamic law (shari’ah) in jihad. Declaiming him to be an extremist and whatnot, endangering the military’s efforts to build bridges with the Muslim community.
(I learned about this from Lady Vorzheva’s blog Spanish Pundit in her post “Terrorismo islámico (III): continuación del caso Stephen Coughlin, el experto anti-terrorista despedido del Pentágono por “islamófobo”” which means “Islamic Terrorism (III): continuation of the case [of] Stephen Coughlin, the anti-terrorism expert fired by the Pentagon for “Islamophobia””. I was a little but surprised I had not heard of this before.) Read the rest of this entry »
They say that Benazir’s assassination will be or is Pakistan’s JFK assassination. This was meant to refer to the untimely and tragic loss of a popular politician who had much to look forward to.
But that is not how it is turning out. Yes, it was a tragic incident, as assassinations tend to be, but this is Pakistan’s JFK assassination because of another aspect or facet: conspiracy theories. Read the rest of this entry »
I learned something today from Fox News that I did not know. Considering the grave situation in Pakistan, this is very relevant.
Evidently, the Pentagon had been building a relationship with General Ashfaq Kayani for some time. They were building this relationship to secure his support for The United States and to ensure he would be dedicated and motivated to secure stability in Pakistan, come what may. As the future Chief of Army Staff, it was important for the Pentagon to know that Pakistan would remain committed to its cooperation with The United States against terrorism and that the future Chief of Army Staff would be committed to ensuring Pakistan remained relatively stable, at least to prevent grave internal unrest and to prevent the endangerment of sensitive weapons (that is, nukes).
When Musharraf declared emergency rule and Bush exhorted him to leave his post as Chief of Army Staff, it was done to bolster Kayani (especially by demonstrating America’s support for him) and to secure a peaceful transition in the military leadership from Musharraf to Kayani. This was wise and smart on the part of Bush and his administration: their man, essentially, would become Chief of Army Staff, a transition that would have to happen at some point. Now, even if Musharraf is booted from power or resigns or is assassinated, The United States will not have to fear because their man in the key position. Our concern does not seem to have been related to democracy but, instead, with the greater picture of the Pakistani military’s leadership and the stable and effective transfer of power.
It is the understanding of experts that Kayani is committed both to fighting terrorism and securing Pakistan’s relative stability. It is also clear that he is committed to having the military be responsible, that is, not allowing an Islamist coup within the military or in Pakistan.
As such, our fears for the most significant contingencies–the nukes going missing or an Islamist coup or the Pakistani military’s refusal to fight terrorism–can be put to rest.
But if Kayani is assassinated or removed, we’re in very big trouble.
I would like to disabuse us of the notion that Musharraf was behind Benazir’s assassination. He was not, nor was the government or the military proper. Nor, I would say, was any major (or minor) political rival involved. The question of rogue elements in the military, now that’s a different question.
The blame falls squarely on the terrorists. Read the rest of this entry »
This is interesting. (HT steveegg of AoSHQ.)
Karachi, 27 Dec. (AKI) – (by Syed Saleem Shahzad) – A spokesperson for the al-Qaeda terrorist network has claimed responsibility for the death on Thursday of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
“We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat [the] mujahadeen,” Al-Qaeda’s commander and main spokesperson Mustafa Abu Al-Yazid told Adnkronos International (AKI) in a phone call from an unknown location, speaking in faltering English. Al-Yazid is the main al-Qaeda commander in Afghanistan.
It is believed that the decision to kill Bhutto, who is the leader of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), was made by al-Qaeda No. 2, the Egyptian doctor, Ayman al-Zawahiri in October.
Death squads were allegedly constituted for the mission and ultimately one cell comprising a defunct Lashkar-i-Jhangvi’s Punjabi volunteer succeeded in killing Bhutto.
Bhutto had just addressed a pre-election rally on Thursday in the garrison town of Rawalpindi when the bomb went off.
She had come to Rawalpindi after finishing a rapid election campaign, ahead of the January polls, in Pakistan’s volatile North West Frontier Province (NWFP) where she had talked about a war against terrorism and al-Qaeda.
Reports say at least 15 other people were killed in the attack and several others injured.
As news of Bhutto’s death spread throughout the country, there are reports that people have taken to the streets to protest the death of the leader of the PPP, which has the largest support of any party in Pakistan.
In the southern port city of Karachi, Bhutto’s hometown, residents reportedly threw stones at cars and burnt tyres.
If true, now is the time for the Great Northwest South Asian War to kill every one of these al-Qa’idah animals.
Benazir Bhutto, whom many expected to become prime minister soon and whose cooperation with Musharraf could be said to have allowed him to ease up on Pakistan politically, has been assassinated. She was killed when shot after fleeing a suicide attack.
The future of Pakistan is now in the air. Again.
What is troubling is that this was in Rawalpindi, headquarters of the military. And adjacent to Islamabad, the capital. It has become more than clear that Islamist terrorism has become way too powerful and capable. Immediate, sweeping, and long-term actions need to be executed to eradicate this menace once and for all.
Pakistan seems to be calming down.
Since Musharraf declared emergency measures, he has scheduled elections; his election as president has been confirmed (albeit by a Supreme Court stacked with Musharraf supporters); jailed activists and protestors have been released; Nawaz Sharif returned and is campaigning; Benazir Bhutto is campaigning; several political parties threatened to boycott the upcoming elections; most of said parties have withdrawn their boycott threat and are registering to take part in the elections. Also important, Musharraf passed on the baton of Chief of Army Staff (literally, he handed the guy a staff or baton) to to man of rural Punjabi origins (sure to elicit support from the soldiers) who is an avid golfer and a chain smoker (sign of the genteel, Westernized elite). The new Chief of Army Staff is a certain General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. Musharraf has accordingly “taken off his uniform” and rules as a civilian president.
Lots of progress, and hardly the scene of chaos some were predicting. Nor the reign of tyranny others were preemptively condemning. Read the rest of this entry »
(I apologize for such a vulgar title.)
The King of Spain, Juan Carlos I, became involved in a very public and unprecedented spat with Venezuelan loose cannon and tyrant, Hugo Chávez. At the Ibero-American Summit, Chávez called (José María) Aznar, the former president of Spain, a fascist, and said that a fascist is less than human. The current president of Spain, José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero, intervened in Aznar’s support, saying Aznar was legitimately elected by the Spanish people and was a legitimate leader of Spain. But Chávez would not stop interrupting Zapatero. After the King said something to Chávez, gesturing in his direction and visibly agitated, the King leaned towards the microphone in front of him and said, “Why don’t you just shut up?” (“¿Por qué no te callas?”; note the second person familiar, which in this case is an indication of rudeness). A short while later, the King got up and left the room. He returned, but then left before the Chilean national anthem that closed the summit.
Bravo, Don Juan Carlos!
Soon: URLs to videos of the spat.
In his address on television to the public, President Pervaiz Musharraf explained why he invoked emergency rule.
The onus was placed on the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which he accused to endangering the stability and security of Pakistan. It had been doing this, he alleges, by needlessly delaying important decisions and by questioning (and even ruling against) vital operations against terrorists and extremists. Musharraf did mention the Supreme Court’s impending decision regarding Musharraf’s reelection. But he said that the Supreme Court prolonged the ruling far longer than what was prudent for the proper functioning of the government. He did not make any mention of the fact that the Supreme Court was said to be leaning to rule against him. Read the rest of this entry »
ANTE UN ATAQUE TURCO
Before a Turkish attack
El primer ministro iraquí, Nuri al Maliki, ha calificado este martes de grupo terrorista al Partido de los Trabajadores del Kurdistán (PKK) y ha ordenado el cierre de sus oficinas en Irak. El jefe del Gobierno del país árabe se expresó con esta contundencia después de entrevistarse con el ministro de Exteriores de Turquía en Bagdad. Hace una semana que el Ejecutivo de Erdogan obtuvo luz verde del Parlamento para ordenar las incursiones necesarias en el Kurdistán iraquí por un periodo de un año.
Maliki classifies the PKK as “terrorist” and orders the closure of its offices in Iraq
The Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, has classified this Tuesday the Party of Workers of Kurdistan (PKK) as a terrorist group and has ordered the closure of its offices in Iraq. The head of government of the Arab state expressed himself with such bluntness after meeting in Baghdad with the Foreign Minister of Turkey. It has been a week since the government of Erdoğan obtained the green light from the Parliament to order necessary incursions against Iraqi Kurdistan for a period of one year.
Related headlines say:
Erdogan reivindica en Londres el derecho a atacar el Kurdistán iraquí
Erdoğan claims in London the right to attack Iraqi Kurdistan
El PKK declara un alto el fuego unilateral bajo la condición de no ser atacado por Ankara
The PKK declares a unilateral ceasefire under the condition of not being attacked by Ankara (assumedly, Turkey)
Turquía advierte a Irak que no debe proteger a los terroristas kurdos
Turkey warns Iraq that it must not protect the Kurdish terrorists
From Libertad Digital.
In recent elections, the government of Poland was ousted. The opposition, characterized as pro-business and pro-EU, said it would pull out of Iraq.
Now, if I were the Iraqi parliament, I would pass legislation condemning the Polish government and mandating that no deals may be made between Iraq and Poland as punishment for Poland for abandoning Iraq, for not seeing the project through, for cutting and running. But, of course, that was just be spiteful; and it will never happen.
I am very disappointed in Poland.
I wonder if our anti-war rhetoricians here realize that with the fewer countries contributing, the more The United States will have to contribute.
I wonder if we are the only ones with the integrity and dependability to see this through. Abandoning such a vital cause is so…European. With this sort of allies, let Europe go to the immigrants. I don’t care. We don’t need such un-dependable friends.
fa innaa naHnu-l-maghribu-l-Haqeeqee
Pervez Musharraf, president of Pakistan, unceremonious sent Nawaz Sharif back to where he came from.
Amid great rejoicing (and nationwide anxiety), Nawaz Sharif returned to Pakistan to take part in this year’s general elections. He was exiled in 2000 after being found guilty of trying to orchestrate the permanent removal of Musharraf from Earth. Although Musharraf, if he stacked the courts right and played his cards right, could have had Sharif executed in 2000, he did not want to repeat the example of Zia-ul-Haqq, who had Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto executed. (Zia-ul-Haqq overthrew Bhutto, Musharraf overthrew Sharif.) The last thing Musharraf needed was to make Sharif a martyr. The Saudi government — which has a very heavy hand in Pakistani politics and administration — brokered a deal whereby the guilty Sharif would serve his 10-year sentence in exile in Saudi Arabia.
But, like the opportunistic politician he is, Sharif had to test the waters and push the envelope by violating that agreement. As soon as he landed, he was arrested, charged with more crimes, and given the choice of staying (and having to stand for trial) or leaving for Saudi Arabia. The Pakistani government says Sharif chose the latter, but I wonder how much the choice was made for him by various actors.
Were it not for the shade Zia-ul-Haqq and the current political environment in Pakistan, I would have whole-heartedly recommended that Musharraf execute Sharif. (And Benazir Bhutto, if she returns from exile.)
Now, although we should promote democracy and popular government wherever we can and ought to, Pakistan is a different case. Bhutto and Sharif are not popularly elected as they are people who manipulate the people so as to place themselves in a position whereby they can lord over the entire country as their families used to lord over their lands, treating the entire country and its peoples like their personal realms. They rule more as autocratic sovereigns than elected leaders. And if someone disagrees with them, that someone should not be surprised to find himself with lead poisoning, if you get my drift. As such, I see no reason — no reason whatsoever — why we need to patronize or even dignify these corrupt autocrats-wannabe.
I say: better a general on the throne than a fickle, undependable, de facto feudal lord.
We should not make Musharraf too comfortable in thinking he will always have our support, but we should not be played by the so-called “pro-democracy” actors in Pakistan, who speak what we want to hear in order that they can get our support, with which they can bring about their own nefarious purposes.
Just recall this: never has the press and the media been so free and uncensored as it is now under Musharraf. Bring back any of the ancien regime, and freedom will go out the window. Not to mention a somewhat stable hold of the country.
Tariq Azim, minister of state for information, said talk from the United States about the possibility of U.S. military action against al-Qaida in Pakistan “has started alarm bells ringing and has upset the Pakistani public.” He mentioned Democratic presidential hopeful Barak Obama by name as an example of someone who made such comments, saying his recent remarks were one reason the government was debating a state of emergency.
(From “Pakistan may declare state of emergency” by Matthew Pennington of AP.)
As if one needs any more reason to oppose Obama. His remark was most irresponsible. It has provoked outrage, and for good reason.
I have no problem with unilateral action against or in Pakistan if the target warrants such. But a public statement explicitly stating such is entirely unacceptable. Doing so harms the interests of The United States. Doing so was a stupid, stupid thing to do. If anyone is truly aware of the delicate situation in Pakistan, one would know how disastrous such a statement could be.
Obama’s statement has brought even more public opposition to Pakistan’s cooperation with America in World War III, cooperation that could only be sustained because Musharraf acts because of his monopoly of force and not democratic legitimacy.
And to think that Pakistanis are rabidly pro-Democrat and anti-Republican. The Republican Party has always been the best one for Pakistan and Pakistanis. I hope Pakistan realizes this, and I hope American Pakistanis realize this next year when they have to help us elect a new president.
Funny, isn’t it, the various ways Democrats undermine American national interests.
News sources, Pakistani and otherwise, have been very active in reporting two significant stories. The first is that Pervaiz Musharraf, Pakistan’s president, abruptly canceled his visit to Afghanistan to attend a jirga (tribal council) to solve the problems plaguing Afghanistan, Pakistan, and their border areas. (In other words, work out some diplomatic mumbo-jumbo on how to deal with those pesky terrorists.) In Musharraf’s place will be the Pakistani prime minister, Shaukat Aziz (who is seen as Musharraf’s puppet). The second story may explain why Musharraf abruptly withdrew from the jirga: there are reports that Musharraf (with other significant authorities in Pakistan’s military government) is planning to impose emergency martial rule in Pakistan. No explanation is given as to why.
I am puzzled. I am not aware of any significant developments in Pakistan that would necessitate such a measure. Well, other than what has been happening for some time. But I doubt emergency martial rule would do anything. As it is, Pakistan has been under de facto martial rule since Musharraf took power. The immediacy with which Musharraf came to his conclusion (and the urgency with which he is meeting with his top advisers) suggests that the military government has become aware of something or is anticipating something. What this something is, I haven’t even an idea, and seems like no one else does either.
Maybe this is in preparation for the failure of the Afghanistan-Pakistan jirga. Maybe if the jirga fails and no accord is reached, Musharraf and his military government will use the opportunity to execute a major operation in the areas of concern, using martial rule to stifle the inevitable outrage of the opportunistic politicians and people.
What has increased the need of such a measure is the recent blow to Musharraf’s legitimacy in the people’s eye, that is, when the Supreme Court reinstated the Chief Justice that Musharraf dismissed. That the legal/juridical apparatus has come out against Musharraf (and, it seems, with a vengeance) means more idiotic distractions for Musharraf. (It’s all politics, and I hope Musharraf knows not to take it personally. But at the same time, he cannot let opportunistic or idiotic legal people to bring him or his regime down.)
Regarding all this, the LA Times had a remarkably interesting article on President Bush and his strategic ambiguity regarding Pakistan. Bush did something right for once! According to the LA Times, when asked about potential policy towards Pakistan, Bush evaded the question. This was crucial. America has a large number of tools in its toolbox with which to pressure Pakistan to cooperate. Invasion is very, very, very low on the list. Perhaps the best tool is the promised jets, which have been a sore point in Pakistani-American relations for decades. By remaining silent, Bush does not assist anti-American propaganda nor does he let lazy Pakistani military authorities get away. He essentially permits the American and Pakistani governments to continue whatever arrangement they have made without having to deal with public outcry from either side.
In contrast, when other politicians openly threaten Pakistan, it makes an already complicated situation even more complicated. With regard to international politics and relations, one simply cannot threaten to invade an ally. I think why this is so is so blatantly obvious I don’t need to detail further.
Let us see what transpires.
And remember: we may not like Pakistan or its government or its military or its autocrat or its people, but the fact remains that Pakistan is a major geopolitical area in global terrorism. We need to keep paying attention and to keep making the right decisions if we are to win in that threatre of World War III.
*sigh* And it gets worse.
You know what annoys me? The people who need to notice this — the so-called moderate Muslims — will deny Muslims had anything to do with these incidents, that Muslims are being framed by anti-Islamic Western governments.
I feel sorry for The United Kingdom.