Thursday, September 30, 2004

"I Now How to Lead...."

"I know how to lead" we have been told by Bush over and over and over again.

This assertion never fails to amuse me since his ability to lead instantly begs the question: Is he leading in the right or wrong direction?

Leading, in and by itself, obviously proves nothing. And, given that Bush is clearly leading in the wrong direction, why should he be rehired?

What had been a relatively small number of terrorists before 9/11 increased exponentially, both and numbers and fierceness since Bushites declared war on "evildoers" and invaded, not one, but TWO Arab/Muslim nations. "Evildoers" being all those leaders unwilling to CAVE to Bushite demands.

The results of Bush's "leadership" become sadly clear on close inspection as illustrated in the following articles, These tragedies occurred within a 24 hour span:

New York Times - October 1, 2004

Dozens Killed in U.S. Offensive in Iraq by the Associated Press

SAMARRA, Iraq (AP) -- U.S. and Iraqi forces launched a major assault Friday to regain control of the insurgent stronghold of Samarra, and hospital officials said at least 80 people were killed and 100 wounded.

Troops of the U.S. 1st Infantry Division, Iraqi National Guard and Iraqi Army moved into Samarra after midnight, securing government and police buildings in the city 60 miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. command said in a statement.

It was not clear if the push into Samarra represented the start of a larger campaign to retake several cities that insurgents have rendered ``no-go'' zones for U.S. and Iraqi troops. Officials have said that recapturing those cities is key before nationwide elections scheduled for the end of January.

The offensive came a day after a string of bombings across the country that killed at least 51 people, including 35 children in a series of blasts as U.S. troops handed out candy at a government-sponsored celebration to inaugurate a sewage plant in Baghdad.

Residents cowered in their homes as tanks and warplanes pounded Samarra. The sound of shelling mixed with the crackle of automatic gunfire continued into the morning. At least three houses were flattened and dozens of cars charred, residents said.

``We are terrified by the violent approach used by the Americans to subdue the city,'' said Mahmoud Saleh, a 33-year-old civil servant. ``My wife and children are scared to death and they have not being able to sleep since last night. I hope that the fighting ends as soon as possible.''

At least 80 bodies and more than 100 wounded were brought to Samarra General Hospital, said Dr. Khalid Ahmed. The hospital was running out of bandages, oxygen and other supplies, he said.

There were no immediate reports of U.S. casualties. Along with U.S. troops, soldiers from the 202nd Iraqi National Guard Battalion and 7th Iraqi Army Battalion were taking part in the operation. Such formations would normally involve several thousand troops.

Water and electricity services were cut off, and troops ordered residents to stay off the streets as they moved from house to house in search of insurgents. A 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew was announced.

The offensive came in response to ``repeated and unprovoked attacks by anti-Iraqi forces'' against Iraqi and coalition forces, the military said in a statement. Its aim was to ``facilitate orderly government processes, kill or capture anti-Iraqi forces and set the conditions to proceed with infrastructure and quality of life improvements.''

``Unimpeded access throughout the city for Iraqi security forces and multinational forces is non-negotiable,'' the statement said.

The military said insurgent attacks and acts of intimidation against the people of Samarra had undermined the security situation in the city, regarded as one of the top three rebel strongholds in Iraq, along with Fallujah and the Baghdad slum known as Sadr City.

The Americans returned briefly on Sept. 9 under a peace deal brokered by tribal leaders under which U.S. forces agreed to provide millions of dollars in reconstruction funds in exchange for an end to attacks on American and Iraqi troops.

In recent weeks, however, the city witnessed sporadic clashes between U.S. troops and insurgents.

Masked gunmen carrying the flag of Iraq's most feared terror group, Tawhid and Jihad, surfaced in force in Samarra on Tuesday, staging a defiant drive through the streets.

Jordanian terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's Tawhid and Jihad group claimed responsibility for bloody attacks in Baghdad on Thursday, according to a statement posted on a militant Web site.

The authenticity of the statement could not be verified, and it was unclear whether the three ``heroic operations'' it cites -- attacks on a government complex and ``a convoy of invading forces'' -- included the bombs that killed the children.

Grief-stricken mothers wailed over their children's bloodied corpses, as relatives collected body parts from the street for burial and a boy picked up the damaged bicycle of his dead brother.

Some of the children, who are near the end of a nationwide school vacation, said they were attracted to the neighborhood celebration by American soldiers handing out candy.

``The Americans called us. They told us: 'Come here, come here,' asking us if we wanted sweets. We went beside them, then a car exploded,'' said 12-year-old Abdel Rahman Dawoud, lying naked in a hospital bed with shrapnel embedded all over his body.

The wounded were rushed to Yarmouk Hospital, where angry relatives screamed for attention from the overwhelmed doctors, many of whom wore uniforms covered in blood. One woman tore at her hair before pulling back the sheet covering her dead brother and kissing his body.

Deputy Interior Minister Gen. Hussein Ali Kamal said intense military pressure on insurgents holed up in Fallujah, west of Baghdad, was forcing them to turn their bombs on the capital. He said the day's attacks were ``definitely coordinated.''

``They are killing citizens and spreading horror. They have no aims except killing as many Iraqis as they can,'' Kamal told The Associated Press. American jets, tanks and artillery units have repeatedly targeted al-Zarqawi's followers in Fallujah, as coalition forces seek to assert control over insurgent enclaves ahead of elections slated for January.

Earlier, a suicide attacker detonated a vehicle packed with explosives in front of a government complex in the Abu Ghraib area, on the western outskirts of Baghdad. The bombing killed a U.S. soldier and two Iraqi policeman and wounded more than 60 people, including three American soldiers.

U.S. forces guard the compound, which houses the mayor's office, a police station and other buildings, police 1st Lt. Ahmed Jawad said.

In the northern city of Tal Afar on Thursday, a car bomb targeting the police chief killed at least four people and wounded 19, including five policemen, police and hospital officials said. The police chief escaped unharmed.

The latest violence came after the Arab news network Al-Jazeera showed footage of 10 new hostages seized in Iraq by militants seen pointing guns at them. They included six Iraqis, two Lebanese and two Indonesian women, Al-Jazeera reported. It was not clear when or where they were seized.

Nearly 150 foreigners have been kidnapped in Iraq and at least 26 have been killed. Some were seized by insurgents as leverage in their campaign against the United States and its allies, others by criminals seeking ransom. << There is more....

New York Times - October 1, 2004

Blast at Shiite Mosque in Pakistan Kills at Least 10 by the Associated Press

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- An explosion ripped through a Shiite Muslim mosque in the eastern Pakistani city of Sialkot during Friday prayers, killing at least 10 people and wounding dozens, police said.

More than 100 people were inside the mosque at the time of the blast, Sialkot police chief Nisar Ahmed said, though others said there were at least 500 peopl there.

``Dozens of people have been taken to hospital in critical condition, and I think the casualties and death toll will rise,'' he told The Associated Press.

An angry mob went on the rampage after the blast, and had started pelting police with bricks and stones and wrecking property, police said.

Mosques of Pakistan's Shiite minority have often been targeted in sectarian violence with majority Sunni Muslims. Most of Pakistan's 150 million Muslims live in harmony, but there are radical elements on both sides of the sectarian divide.

The attack comes less than a week after Pakistan arrested a top al-Qaida suspect, Amjad Hussain Farooqi, believed to be behind the kidnapping and beheading in 2002 of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, and two failed assassination attempts on Musharraf that left 17 other people dead in December 2003. << And more...

New York Times - October 1, 2004

Worst Violence in 2 Years Kills 28 Arabs and 3 Israelis by Greg Myre

NISANIT, Gaza Strip, Sept. 30 - At least 28 Palestinians and 3 Israelis were killed Thursday as Israeli troops pushed into a densely packed refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip and battled militants darting among the narrow alleys. It was the deadliest day in more than two years in the Middle East.

Late Thursday night, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's security cabinet approved plans to turn the current Gaza incursion into a major offensive aimed at stopping the persistent Palestinian rocket fire from the area, government officials said. The plan calls for soldiers to maintain an open-ended presence in the parts of northern Gaza that are within rocket range of nearby Israeli communities, said one official.

"We have to move forward to make the Palestinians retreat and put them out of range," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Dozens of Israeli tanks and other armored vehicles rolled into northern Gaza on Tuesday night after the latest upsurge in Palestinian rocket fire. The Israeli official declined to say what additional forces might be moved into the area.

In running battles Thursday, the Israelis fired from tanks and armored personnel carriers as they moved deep into the Jabaliya refugee camp, a hotbed for militants and home to more than 100,000 Palestinians on the northern edge of Gaza City. Masked Palestinians fired automatic rifles and antitank missiles and planted explosives along the sandy streets.

Throughout four years of fighting, the Israeli military has been reluctant to enter the congested cities and refugee camps in Gaza, where it is difficult for armored vehicles to maneuver. Even limited Israeli raids in Gaza have resulted in large numbers of casualties among both Palestinians and Israeli soldiers.

However, Mr. Sharon says he is determined to proceed with his plan to unilaterally withdraw Israeli soldiers and settlers from Gaza, and the persistent fighting is complicating his efforts.

"This will only make the prime minister more intent to pursue his disengagement plan," Gideon Meir, a senior official in the Foreign Ministry, said of the latest turmoil. "The Palestinians want to convince the world that Israel is withdrawing because of terrorism. We know this is not the truth."

The combined Israeli-Palestinian death toll of 31 on Thursday was the highest single-day count since Israel carried out a sweeping incursion in the West Bank in March and April of 2002. About half of the Palestinian dead were militants and the rest were civilians, according to witnesses and the staff at Kamal Adwan Hospital, which treated more than 100 Palestinian wounded. At least three teenagers were among the dead, hospital officials said.

In the deadliest single episode, an Israeli tank fired a shell toward Palestinian militants who had just hit an armored Israeli vehicle with a missile, wounding three soldiers, the military said. The tank shell killed seven Palestinians and wounded about 20, with civilians accounting for most of the casualties, according to Palestinian witnesses and the hospital.

Maj. Gen. Dan Harel, the Israeli Army commander in Gaza, acknowledged the civilian casualties and expressed regret. He also accused the militants of using civilians as shields.

The Israelis bulldozed about 20 homes on a narrow road leading into the camp, apparently to allow better access for armored vehicles, Palestinian residents said.

Muhammad Dahlan, a former Palestinian Authority security chief in Gaza and still an influential figure, said in a statement that the Israeli operation would "result in a blood bath on both sides, because the Palestinian people cannot remain silent in the face of this aggression."

On the Israeli side, a kindergarten teacher was shot dead while on her regular morning jog along a road linking three Jewish settlements on the northern edge of Gaza, just a couple of miles from Jabaliya.

With a heavy fog providing cover, two Palestinian gunmen breached a fence that protects both sides of the road. The gunmen fatally shot the teacher and then gunned down an army paramedic who arrived moments later outside the Nisanit settlement. Israeli soldiers shot both gunmen to death, officials said.

In a settlement with 300 families, most with small children, virtually everyone knew the slain teacher, Shula Batito, 36, who had run the kindergarten for more than a decade.

Also, an Israeli soldier was killed when two Palestinians opened fire with rifles and grenades at the entrance to a military post near Jabaliya. The Palestinians were then shot to death, the military said.

Israel has staged repeated raids into northern Gaza, but at best the rocket fire has been reduced only temporarily.

Despite the large military presence, Palestinians fired a rocket on Wednesday night that killed two children, ages 2 and 4, in the Israeli town of Sederot, close to the Gaza border.

Israelis were outraged by the deaths, which came just before the beginning of Sukkot, the fall harvest festival. Officials warned that the military operation in Gaza would be intensified, and Thursday's fighting appeared to confirm that.

But it is unclear whether the Israelis will be able to stop the rocket fire. The Palestinians fired two more rockets at Sederot on Thursday. One hit a factory, but no one was hurt.

Palestinians are able to set up and fire their homemade Qassam rockets and then flee, all within minutes, making it difficult for the Israeli forces to find them. Most have been fired by the Islamic faction Hamas, which claimed responsibility for the attack that killed the two children.<< And more....

New York Times - October 1, 2004

Bombing in Lebanon Wounds Cabinet Minister by the Associated Press

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) -- A car bomb exploded Friday in central Beirut, wounding a former Lebanese Cabinet minister and killing his driver, officials said.

Former Economy Minister Marwar Hamadeh reportedly suffered minor wounds and was in stable condition. His political party had him resign from the government last month to protest Syrian interference in Lebanese political affairs.

It was not clear in Hamadeh was the target of the blast. The explosion occurred near the American Community School and the International College, both U.S. organizations, a security official said on condition of anonymity.

Security officials sealed off the area as firefighters struggled to extinguish the fire caused by the explosion. Several parked cars in the area were damaged and broken glass from nearby buildings littered the street.

Hamadeh is a member of Druse leader Walid Jumblatt's parliamentary bloc, which last month voted against extending pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud's term for another years.

The Al Manar television quoted an official in Jumblatt's Progressive Socialist Party as saying that Hamadeh suffered ``minor injuries'' in the explosion.

Syria is the main power broker in Lebanon and has based thousands of troops here since the early stages of the 1975-90 civil war. Jumblatt is an ally of Syria but rejected Damascus' decision to support the extension of Lahoud's mandate.

The United States and United Nations opposed Syria's perceived interference in Lebanon and called for the election of a new Lebanese president.

Jumblatt, a former warlord and Cabinet minister, has urged Syria to stop interfering in internal Lebanese affairs. He withdrew Hamadeh and two other ministers from the Lebanese Cabinet last month to protest the extension of Lahoud's term.

Car bombings were frequent during Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war, in which more than 150,000 people died. << The question then becomes: How can a war against hatred be won by triggering more hatred?


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