March 24, 2005


Iraqi forces kill 45 insurgents at guerrilla training camp (Colin McMahon, March 24, 2005, Chicago Tribune)

In what Iraqi officials called ''a major battle and a major success," Iraqi commando units attacked a guerrilla training camp and killed at least 45 insurgent fighters, authorities said yesterday. The final death toll could be twice that.

The fighting was notable not just for the number of insurgents killed -- the most since US-led forces retook the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah last fall -- but for its location: an isolated, swampy area northwest of Baghdad, instead of the streets of a city. Officials suggested the insurgents sought out the site to hide from Iraqi citizens who are beginning to oppose them.

At its fiercest, the clash Tuesday near Lake Tharthar raged for at least two hours. But fighting lasted throughout the day, and Iraqi and American forces were still looking for stragglers yesterday, according to US military officials and the Iraqi Interior Ministry.

''As the Iraqi people turn away from these criminals and terrorists, this training camp was selected away from any population center or main thoroughfare to avoid the population," said Major Richard Goldenberg, a spokesman for the 42d Infantry Division. ''They organized into a large group at a remote site, perhaps under the impression that Iraqi security forces would not look for them there."

Arabs should give their support to the rebuilding of Iraq (Lebanon Daily Star, March 23, 2005)

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari raised a valid point when he accused Arabs of being "apathetic" toward Iraq. The foreign minister is right to call a spade a spade: both the governments and the people of the region have demonstrated an almost coldhearted apathy toward the devastating plight of the Iraqi people.

Over the past 50 years, authoritarian leaders in the region have banded together in support for each other almost blindly, despite all evidence of despotism, totalitarianism and heavy handed oppression. Although the ideal of pan-Arab unity was never realized, it seems that what has been achieved is a union of corrupt regimes. Grossly misusing the language of Arab unity, they casually dismissed the mass murders that occurred under Saddam Hussein's rule, as well as genocide in Sudan, Syrian oppression of Lebanon, and countless other tragedies. And since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, they have extended only a tepid welcome to the country's leadership, and have turned a blind eye to the insurgency that is wreaking havoc on the lives of ordinary Iraqi citizens. We must no longer allow the language of Arab unity to be so distorted; it is time to put aside the empty rhetoric of pan-Arab nationalism. Instead, we must support the true notions of Arab solidarity and brotherhood.

Government apathy toward the plight of the Iraqi people is matched by the popular silence on the issue of Iraqi suffering. Arab citizens have quietly watched or even applauded as terrorists attack innocent civilians, including women and children. The people of the region have been reluctant to speak out and condemn the brutal forms of violence plaguing the country. We can no longer turn a blind eye to injustice and atrocity.

US Death Rate Down in Iraq Since January Elections (Reuters, 3/24/05)
The rate of U.S. deaths in the Iraq (news - web sites) war has fallen sharply since the historic January elections as American military leaders tout progress against the insurgency but warn of a long road ahead.

March is on pace for the lowest monthly U.S. military death toll in 13 months, and the rate of American fatalities has fallen by about 50 percent since the parliamentary elections in which millions of Iraqis defied insurgents to cast ballots.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 24, 2005 8:30 AM

The Lebanon Daily Star editorial is aimed squarely at readers in the Arab world. But shift the azmuth and aim its content at the indecent Left in the West. Fits, don't it? Bet the Arabs will change - bet the Left won't.

Posted by: Luciferous at March 24, 2005 11:50 AM

It's a death spiral for Michael Moore's Minutemen. As they move their bases away from civilians who can be used as shields and hostages, they become more vulnerable to the kind of stand up battle they are so bad at. Losses because of that will further erode their base of support, meaning even less use of civilian cover ...

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at March 24, 2005 1:37 PM

i wonder if this is a sign that the cities are becoming too dangerous for these scumbags. being out in the open isn't going to buy them much time,
with all the predator drones buzzing around. it seems clear to me that the terrorists have completely alienated the greater iraqi population
and that even the sunnis are now moving towards acceptance and participation in the new govt.

Posted by: cjm at March 24, 2005 2:21 PM