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The Americans threatened to do here what they did in Fallujah if I didn't cooperate (Saturday, January 01, 2005)

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  • jim@leftopia.com
    Iraq Front News Subscribe: IraqFrontNews-subscribe@yahoogroups.com Saturday, January 01, 2005 News roundup by
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      Saturday, January 01, 2005
      News roundup by Jim Galasyn
       
       
       
      Iraq Front News

      Saturday, January 01, 2005

      Bring Them Home

      Fool Me Once

      Hearts And Minds

      White Man's Burden

       

       

       


       

       

       

      Graph of US Military Deaths


      Graph of US Military Casualties


      Civilians reported killed by military intervention in Iraq
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      15 killed as plans unveiled to protect Iraqi voters
      January 01, 2005

      At least 15 Iraqis have been killed in various attacks by insurgents since Wednesday night, Iraqi security officials said on Thursday as plans were unveiled to deploy 100,000 Iraqi forces to stave off a bloodbath on election day exactly a month from now. Three border policemen were gunned down in Baquba, and the son of local police chief was kidnapped. In the capital, an Iraqi army officer was killed in the street. Four civilians were killed in an ambush at Shorgat, while further north two civilians were killed when a bomb exploded near their car. Two more Iraqis died when they tried to break through a national guard roadblock in Syniya, a woman was killed by a roadside bomb on the road between Baghdad and Balad and, in Samarra, a national guard was died in an ambush. Unrest also hit the countrys infrastructure, with a mortar attack late Thursday igniting a fire at the Dura refinery in a southwest Baghdad suburb. The refinery feeds a power plant that provides electricity to the capital and surrounding areas. Masked gunmen also kidnapped two Lebanese businessmen from their home in Baghdads upscale Mansur neighbourhood. The US military and Iraqi government officials said they were hoping that an increase in offensives against insurgents coupled with airtight security on January 30 would allow voting to go ahead nationwide despite fears of attacks. US-led forces in Iraq have captured a senior member of the Al Qaeda-linked network led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in a raid in Baghdad, the Iraqi government said on Thursday. It said Fadil Hussain Ahmed al-Kurdi was captured along with two other suspected insurgents. It said Kurdi, a 26-year-old Iraqi Kurd also known as Ridha, was the brother of Umar Baziyani, a Zarqawi lieutenant captured in May.

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      Marine Killed in Al Anbar During Operations
      Sat, 01 Jan 2005 00:00:00 GMT

      One Marine assigned to the I Marine Expeditionary Force was killed in action Friday, Dec. 31 while conducting security and stabilization operations in the Al Anbar Province.

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      Lebanese shot dead in Baghdad's Green Zone
      01 Jan 2005

      An unidentified sniper shot dead a Lebanese national on Saturday inside Baghdad's Green Zone, the seat of the Iraqi government and the U.S. and British embassies, Lebanon's foreign ministry said. It said in a statement the dead man, 24-year-old Nabil Mahmoud, worked for a Kuwaiti company. It said another Lebanese was wounded in the Green Zone, but it did not say if it was in the same incident. The statement gave no further details. Two Lebanese businessmen were seized by armed men who burst into their Baghdad home on Wednesday. Militants have taken scores of hostages in Iraq, including several Lebanese. Most have been freed but some, including one Lebanese, have been killed. Insurgents have also killed Iraqis and foreigners who are seen to cooperate with the interim Iraqi government or U.S.-led forces.

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      al-Qaida Video Shows Police Execution
      Sat, 01 Jan 2005 15:46:21 GMT

      Al-Qaida's arm in Iraq released a video Saturday showing its militants lining up five captured Iraqi security officers and executing them in the street, one of a string of recent attacks claimed by the group led by terror boss Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

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      Blast targeting Iraqi troops kills 2, hurts 5
      Sat, 01 Jan 2005 13:40:06 GMT

      A car bomb Friday wounded five members of the Iraqi National Guard and killed two civilians near the northern town of Beiji, while residents of Baghdad and other major cities spent New Year's Eve under a three-day "curfew" imposed by an insurgent group bent on attacking U.S. targets.

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      Three Roadside Bombs Target Iraq Troops
      Sat, 01 Jan 2005 00:00:00 GMT

      At least three roadside bombs targeted Iraqi security troops Saturday, a day after Prime Minister Ayad Allawi warned Iraq's neighbors to crack down on insurgents infiltrating from their territory, saying that Iraq's patience was wearing thin

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      Iraq Attacks Kill Two Civilians, U.S. Marine Near Baghdad, Military Says
      Sat, 01 Jan 2005 16:19:04 GMT

      Two Iraqi civilians were killed by a suicide car bomb in Bayji, north of Baghdad, and a U.S. Marine was killed in action on a security patrol in the western province of al-Anbar, the military said. The civilians died yesterday after their vehicle was hit by the blast, the military said. The Marine also died yesterday while conducting security operations, the U.S. said without providing further details.

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      Sadr aide shot in Baghdad, new offensive begins
      1 January 2005

      Violence continued in Iraq on Saturday with several deaths reported, including a confidant of the radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. According to a report from Arabic-language broadcaster Al-Arabiya, Haithem al-Ansari was shot dead in Baghdad by unknown gunmen Saturday. In further violence, two Iraqis died in an explosion on a highway south of Baghdad, and a policeman was murdered on his to work in the northern city of Kirkuk. Also Saturday, extremists broadcast a video on the internet of the execution of five Iraqi national guardsmen.

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      U.S. troops launch anti-insurgency ops near Saddam's home
      Sat, 01 Jan 2005 16:19:04 GMT

      U.S. troops rounded up 49 suspected guerrillas near Saddam Hussein's hometown Friday, a day after Iraq's most violent rebel groups warned voters against participating in crucial elections for a constitutional assembly on Jan. 30. Soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division detained the suspects during a midnight raid in Duluiyah, 45 miles north of Baghdad, dubbed Operation Powder River, the U.S. military said. The statement did not provide any further details on the operation, which appears to be the latest in a series of anti-insurgency campaigns in the so-called Sunni Triangle in central Iraq. Duluiyah is near Saddam's hometown of Tikrit. In Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, U.S. troops came under mortar attack Friday. They opened fire, killing one Iraqi and wounding two others, local hospital sources said.

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      Loud blast in central Baghdad - Reuters witnesses
      Sat, 01 Jan 2005 10:53:02 GMT

      A loud explosion was heard in central Baghdad on Saturday but the U.S. military said it had no reports of any major attack in the area. Guerrillas trying to drive out U.S.-led forces and topple Iraq's American-backed government kept up sporadic mortar fire in and around the capital into New Year's day, which may explain the explosion that occurred at mid-day. There were no reports of damage or injuries in the city centre, a U.S. military spokeswoman said. Earlier on Saturday, a roadside bomb in southern Baghdad killed an Iraqi truck driver and wounded three people, the spokeswoman said.

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      Iraq Begins New Year With Deaths
      Sat, 01 Jan 2005 13:02:14 GMT

      The New Year in Iraq has begun with the deaths of 12 Iraqis and one US Marine. Militants from a group led by Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi said they had killed five Iraqi police officers. The militants posted a video on the internet showing five men in civilian clothes lined up and shot repeatedly in the back. In Baghdad, an ambulance driver was hit by a random bullet during a shoot-out. He had already taken three injured children to hospital before returning to pick up some injured adults. Two members of the Iraqi National Guard were killed and six wounded in a mortar attack on their base near Samarra. Near the oil refinery town of Baiji, one Iraqi civilian was killed and four others wounded in a shoot-out between insurgents and the security forces. Police recovered the corpses of two murdered Iraqi truck drivers by the banks of the River Tigris in Balad. Near the northern oil centre of Kirkuk, gunmen killed a police lieutenant outside his house. The US Marine was killed in action in Iraq's western province of al Anbar. No further details were available from the US military.

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      Clashes around Baghdad
      Sat, 01 Jan 2005 00:00:00 GMT

      Fighting between US forces and armed groups has continued in and around the Iraqi capital, intensifying on the road leading to Baghdad airport.

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      Police find beheaded bodies
      Sat, 01 Jan 2005 00:00:00 GMT

      IRAQI police found beheaded two bodies in western Baghdad today along with a note that said they were truck drivers killed because they were working with the US military.

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      Zarqawi group executes five Iraqi national guards: video
      Sat, 01 Jan 2005 12:55:43 GMT

      The group of Al-Qaeda operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi aired a video on the Internet purporting to show the execution of five members of the Iraqi national guard in the militant stronghold of Ramadi.

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      Counter-Insurgency in Iraq Plagued by Fear, Doubt
      Sat, 01 Jan 2005 12:17:46 GMT

      In the numbing cold before dawn, Iraqi commandos backed by U.S. Marines stormed into a farmhouse, forcing four men onto the kitchen floor and isolating dazed women and children in adjacent rooms.

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      Iraq's year-end deadly
      Sat, 01 Jan 2005 16:19:04 GMT

      Insurgents ended the year with a suicide car bomb aimed at members of the beleaguered Iraqi national guard who were driving near the town of Baiji, in the Sunni belt north of Baghdad. Two people in a passing car were killed; five of the targeted guardsmen suffered minor wounds, according to Iraqi and U.S. military spokesmen. Near Tikrit, in the same north-central Sunni region that in the past week has seen the country's most intense conflict, U.S. troops arrested 49 suspected insurgents in a midnight raid, the 1st Infantry Division reported. Searching 13 houses in the operation late Thursday and Friday, the troops said they also confiscated bomb-making materials. No U.S. soldiers were reported killed on the last day of the year, as of late Friday. But Pentagon information indicates more than 500 have died in the six months since the United States officially handed sovereignty to the interim Iraqi government - more than in the preceding half-year. The total for late 2004 was swelled by the heavy combat in November, when U.S. forces invaded Fallujah to eradicate an insurgent force there. On Friday, the body of a national guardsman was found north of Fallujah with a note saying, "This is the fate of anyone who collaborates with the occupation forces," The Associated Press reported.

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      Dem. Says Iraq Troops Need More Support
      Sat, 01 Jan 2005 15:14:05 GMT

      Lawmakers and President Bush should make a New Year's resolution to give adequate equipment to troops in Iraq, the vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus said Saturday.

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      Fresh Details Emerge on Harsh Methods at Guantnamo
      January 1, 2005

      Sometime after Mohamed al-Kahtani was imprisoned at Guantnamo around the beginning of 2003, military officials believed they had a prize on their hands - someone who was perhaps intended to have been a hijacker in the Sept. 11 plot. But his interrogation was not yielding much, so they decided in the middle of 2003 to try a new tactic. Mr. Kahtani, a Saudi, was given a tranquilizer, put in sensory deprivation garb with blackened goggles, and hustled aboard a plane that was supposedly taking him to the Middle East. After hours in the air, the plane landed back at the United States naval base at Guantnamo Bay, Cuba, where he was not returned to the regular prison compound but put in an isolation cell in the base's brig. There, he was subjected to harsh interrogation procedures that he was encouraged to believe were being conducted by Egyptian national security operatives.

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      Bush's don't-ask, don't-tell press conference
      Sat, 01 Jan 2005 08:48:02 GMT

      What is the purpose of a presidential press conference? Is it to allow reporters to ask the president questions? Or is it to get the president to answer them? Dodging the question is one of the most-important (and most-used) weapons in a politician's arsenal, of course. In ''The Fog of War,'' Robert McNamara cited the traditional ploy of answering the question you wish you were asked, rather than the question you actually were asked. (Think of it as the reverse of Donald Rumsfeld's first rule of war: You reply to the question you might want or wish to have, not the question you have.) But President Bush, as he demonstrated during his recent question-and-not-answer session with the White House press corps, has dispensed with that old trick. Instead, Bush, having invited reporters to ask him questions on live television, repeatedly told reporters that their questions would be better directed at someone else. How long will U.S. troops be in Iraq? Ask Gens. Abizaid and Casey. What's the broad framework for Social Security reform? Ask Congress. Has the Iraq war improved the prospects for peace in the Middle East? Go ask the Palestinians. Every time he was confronted with a difficult question, Bush answered, Go ask someone else. You expect a press secretary or a Cabinet officer, to say, ''I'll get back to you,'' or ''That's above my pay grade,'' or ''You'd have to ask the president.'' Well, now the president has been asked. And he told us to ask you. ''Well again, I will repeat, don't bother to ask me,'' Bush said in response to a question about what ''tough measures'' might need to be taken to establish private Social Security accounts. ''Oh, you can ask me. I shouldn't - I can't tell you what to ask. It's not the holiday spirit.'' But I'm not going to answer, so don't waste your time: ''I will negotiate at the appropriate time with the law writers, and so thank you for trying.'' On the question of how long American troops will remain in Iraq, Bush said, ''The best people that reflect the answer to that question are people like Abizaid and Casey who are right there on the ground.'' On the Middle East peace process, Bush said, effectively, don't get your hopes up, but the Palestinians are the ones with the answer: ''But I'm realistic about how to achieve peace, and it starts with my understanding that there will never be peace until a true democratic state emerges in the Palestinian territory. And I'm hopeful right now, because the - the Palestinians will begin to have elections. I have - well, not begin - will have elections, which is the beginning of the process toward the development of state. It is not the sign that democracy has arrived. It is the beginning of a process.''

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      US says Iraq's 'Dr Anthrax' in good health
      Sat, 01 Jan 2005 16:41:48 GMT

      The US military disputed a claim by an Iraqi lawyer that a top female scientist from Saddam Hussein's deposed regime was terminally ill with cancer and should be freed from detention.

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      ElBaradei bids for new IAEA term
      Sat, 01 Jan 2005 14:04:56 GMT

      he head of the UN nuclear watchdog, Mohammed ElBaradei has emerged as the only candidate for the post of the agency's next director general. Mr ElBaradei hopes to be re-elected for a third term, but the US does not want his mandate to be renewed. Privately, some US officials have complained that Mr ElBaradei - who has held the post since 1997 - has been too soft on both Iran and Iraq. He has led the International Atomic Energy Agency through turbulent times.

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      The Truth About Terrorism
      January 13, 2005

      In his November 3 victory speech, President Bush, sounding the keynote of his second administration, pledged to "fight this war on terror with every resource of our national power." By saying "this" rather than "the" Bush stressed the palpable, near-at-hand quality of the war whose symbols have grown to surround us in the last three yearsthe tilted barrels of security cameras, BioWatch pathogen-sniffers, and all the rest of the technology of security and surveillance that Matthew Brzezinski somewhat overexcitedly details in Fortress America. Voters, at least, have been impressed. Responding to the exit pollers' question "Which ONE issue mattered most in deciding how you voted for president?" 32 percent of Bush supporters named "Terrorism" (as against 5 percent of Kerry supporters), 85 percent of Bush supporters said that the country was "safer from terrorism" in 2004 than it was in 2000, and 79 percent said that the war in Iraq "has improved the long-term security of the United States." Bush's successful conflation of security at home and military aggression abroad, his insistence that Iraq "is the central front of the war on terror," was the bravura rhetorical gambit that drove much of his electoral strategy. If you live, as I do, in an American city designated as a likely target by the Department of Homeland Security, the sheer proliferation of security apparatus in the streets assures you that there is a war on. Yet the nature and conduct of that war, and the characterand very existenceof our enemy, remain infuriatingly obscure: not because there's any shortage of information, or apparent information, but because so much of it has turned out to be creative guesswork or empty propaganda.

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      The Year of Lying Desperately
      30 Dec, 2004

      The terrorists are growing more desperate in their attempts to derail the elections and they're trying to put it all on the line and give it all they can. --December 29, 2004 - U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Paul Hastings The former regime elements have watched Tikrit . . . slip away from their grasp over a period of time to the point where they have minimal influence over the local situation. They are desperate. --December 29, 2004 - spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division Maj. Neal O'Brien Of course, as events showed at the weekend, we have to steel ourselves for violence to get worse as the insurgents and terrorists make a desperate effort to derail this process. --December 25, 2004 - Prime Minister Tony Blair Insurgents, who have everything to lose, are desperate to create the perception that elections are not possible --December 22, 2004 - Gen. George W. Casey Commander of multinational forces in Iraq

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      Bechtel's Dry Run: Iraqis Suffer Water Crisis
      April 2004

      Dahr Jamail was the primary contributor to this report concerning the failure of Bechtel to reconstruct/rehabilitate the water treatment plants it mentioned in its contract. Released by Public Citizen last Spring, the report was sent to the Inspector General of the Department of Defense as well as the Members of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee.

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      Fewer than 1 percent of Iraqis have registered to vote
      1 Jan 2005

      Marines yesterday cleared bodies from buildings at the scene of their biggest battle since the fall of Baghdad, securing this former insurgent stronghold for the return of thousands of civilians and upcoming elections. But six weeks before the historic vote, a U.S. official said, fewer than 1 percent of eligible Iraqis have responded to a voter-registration drive, forcing authorities to look for other ways to build up voter lists.

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      An Eyewitness Account of Fallujah
      December 16, 2004

      Horror storiesincluding the use of napalm and chemical weapons by the US military during the siege of Fallujahcontinue to trickle out from the rubble of the demolished city, carried by weary refugees lucky enough to have escaped their city. A cameraman with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC) who witnessed the first eight days of the fighting told of what he considered atrocities. Burhan Fasaa has worked for LBC throughout the occupation of Iraq. I entered Fallujah near the Julan Quarter, which is near the General Hospital, he said during an interview in Baghdad, There were American snipers on top of the hospital shooting everyone. He nervously smoked cigarettes throughout the interview, still visibly shaken by what he saw. On November 8, the military was allowing women and children to leave the city, but none of the men. He was not allowed to enter the city through one of the main checkpoints, so he circumnavigated Fallujah and managed to enter, precariously, by walking through a rural area near the main hospital, then taking a small boat across the river in order to film from inside the city. Before I found the boat, I was 50 meters from the hospital where the American snipers were shooting everyone in sight, he said, But I managed to get in.

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      U.S. Military Obstructing Medical Care
      December 13, 2004

      The U.S. military has been preventing delivery of medical care in several instances, medical staff say. Iraqi doctors at many hospitals have reported raids by coalition forces. Some of the more recent raids have been in Amiriyat al-Fallujah, about 10km to the east of Fallujah, the town to which U.S. forces have laid bloody siege. Amiriyat al-Fallujah has been the source of several reported resistance attacks on U.S. forces. The main hospital in Amiriyat al-Fallujah was raided twice recently by U.S. soldiers and members of the Iraqi National Guard, doctors say. The first time was November 29 at 5:40am, and the second time was the following day, said a doctor at the hospital who did not want to give his real name for fear of U.S. reprisals. In the first raid about 150 U.S. soldiers and at least 40 members of the Iraqi National Guard stormed the small hospital, he said. They were yelling loudly at everyone, both doctors and patients alike, the young doctor said. They divided into groups and were all over the hospital. They broke the gates outside, they broke the doors of the garage, and they raided our supply room where our food and supplies are. They broke all the interior doors of the hospital, as well as every exterior door. He was then interrogated about resistance fighters, he said. The Americans threatened to do here what they did in Fallujah if I didn't cooperate with them, he said.

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      Saudi Arabia Beheads Pakistani, Iraqi Men
      Sat, 01 Jan 2005 11:31:19 GMT

      Two men, a Pakistani and an Iraqi, were beheaded Saturday for smuggling drugs into Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Interior Ministry announced.

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      Iraq's Hamd calls it quits - AFC Coach of the Year resigns after home destroyed
      Dec 30, 2004

      AFC Coach of the Year Adnan Hamad decided to resign from his post as the coach of the Iraqi national team due to the hardships that he faced in his job. Hamad's resignation comes just a week after the conclusion of the Gulf Cup 2004 in Doha which saw the Iraqi team exiting from the first round of the tournament with a record of two draws and one defeat. Hamad exclusively told FootballAsia.com the reasons behind his unexpected resignation as he publicly announced at the end of the Gulf Cup that he will not resign from his post. There are several reasons behind my decision as the current situation in Iraq is very hard. Hamad told FootballAsia.com. In addition, there is the situation of the domestic league and its hardships. I was hoping that I can continue as the coach of the national team but there are a lot of security problems in Iraq and there are some technical problems as the difficulty of collecting the players for the NT. Hamad then explained that he will have a break at the meantime. I have just received a call that my home was destroyed and I guess this situation is very hard for me. As for the future, I guess that I will have a break and I will surely continue my coaching career. Hamad led Iraq's youth side to the Youth Asian Cup title in 2000 and led the national team to the WAFF Cup title in Damascus in 2002. He also led the national team to the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup 2004 before leading the Olympic side to the semi finals of the Olympic Games in Athens last summer. He was named AFC Coach of the Year at a gala dinner just three weeks ago.

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      For Iraqis, Not Much to Celebrate in 2004
      January 1, 2005

      It was a year to forget. Saleem Mata and his wife, Nada Romaya, spent the last hours of 2004 in a two-mile-long line waiting for gasoline because of a fuel shortage. A checkered blanket and a cooler filled with juice and sandwiches rested on the back seat of their car, a taxi that Mata drives every other day. On alternate days, he waits for gas. "It was the worst year we have ever had," said Romaya, 24. "It was bad for everybody, the Iraqis and the Americans who lost their relatives in the war here." For many Iraqis, the June 28 handover of political power by the U.S.-led occupation authority was nothing more than a date on the calendar, a moment to mark and then forget, lost in a brutal insurgency that has shown little mercy ever since. Life became worse for large numbers of Iraqis in 2004. Suicide car bombings, gun battles, kidnappings, beheadings and assassinations killed thousands of people, sometimes more than a hundred on a single day.

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      US releases 260 detainees in Iraq
      Sat, 01 Jan 2005 00:00:00 GMT

      The US military on Saturday released 260 detainees from the notorious Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad and Camp Bucca in southern Iraq.

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      Bangladeshi driver returns home from Iraq
      Sat, 01 Jan 2005 07:46:14 GMT

      Abul Kashem, the Bangladeshi truck driver who was abducted by an Iraqi guerilla group, returned home on New Year's eve, reported the Daily Star on Saturday. Kashem returned two weeks after Iraqi militants handed him overto rights activists in Iraq, ending his 55-day confinement. "I feel I am reborn," he was quoted as saying upon his landing at the Zia International Airport here with Bangladeshi Ambassador to Kuwait Nazrul Islam Khan who accompanied Kashem in a Bangladesh Biman flight.

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      Iraqi Candidate Names Not Released for 'Security Reasons'
      Dec 31st, 2004

      Promoted from the diaries by Armando. Pretty unbelievable - the names of the people who you might actually vote for can not be released for security reasons. While it is obvious that the slates on which they are running will be the critical factor for determining voters' preferences, one imagines, it still boggles the mind. As a commentator notes - now there is a secret ballot. This observation from Juan Cole just blows my mind: Candidate name recognition doesn't appear very important, however. For security reasons, the actual names of most candidates on the 78 party or multiparty lists have so far not been released. This odd situation, in which the candidates are not known a month before the election, attests to how dire the political and security situation in Iraq really is. I know the Bush administration has a lot of political capital tied up in not pushing back the date for the Iraqi elections. Pushing the date back would be an admission of failure, and the Bush administration would rather gnaw off their own arms then admit failure. But, at a certain point, don't you have to admit defeat, or become a laughingstock? I think having an election where the names of the candidates have to remain secret so they don't get assassinated might be awfully close, if not right up to the edge, of that point. I guess it adds a whole new meaning to the phrase "secret ballot." I also have a question for Kos readers. Who has the final authority on whether to hold the Iraqi elections on time, or to delay them? Is it Allawi? Or is it some other person or government body?

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      Pipeline Blown Up
      Sat, 01 Jan 2005 17:21:46 GMT

      Saboteurs blew up an oil pipeline south of Baghdad today, causing a huge fire. The attack was near the Musabayb electricity station in the Bahbahan area some 46 miles south of Baghdad. Explosives were used to destroy the pipeline linking the southern cities of Karbala and Hilla. A huge blaze broke out after the blast sending up thick, black billowing smoke. Insurgents have regularly targeted Iraqs oil infrastructure, repeatedly cutting exports and denying the country much-needed reconstruction money.

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      Why Arab Leaders Love the Iraqi Election
      Sat, 01 Jan 2005 08:48:02 GMT

      Iraq's main Sunni political movement, the Iraqi Islamic Party, has announced it will boycott U.S.-sponsored elections to be held Jan. 30. The head of the party, Mohsen Abdel Hamid, told reporters in Baghdad Monday his decision was motivated by the refusal of authorities to postpone elections for six months to ensure broader participation. The influential Association of Muslim Scholars, the highest Sunni religious authority in Iraq, along with other Sunni civic and political figures had already announced in November their plan to boycott the elections. But elsewhere in the Arab world, governments in Sunni-majority countries are pushing for broad participation. Nearly every day, a new Arab leader urges wide participation in Iraq's elections. In the last week alone, high-ranking officials from Egypt, Jordan, and the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council have spoken out against the boycott. After a summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa called a boycott "very dangerous" and said it might lead to "a sectarian or ethnic conflict." Pro-democracy advocates here in Egypt find such rhetoric amusing, since all of the leaders who have spoken in favor of the election are either kings or long-ruling dictators.

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      What if Iraq taps pro-Iran leaders?
      Sat, 01 Jan 2005 13:40:10 GMT
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