- Already today at least 18 Iraqis have died as violence
continues to escalate as the so-called elections approach.
- Suicide car bombers are striking Iraqi Police (IP) stations
on nearly a daily basis now.
- Today's target was in Tikrit, where U.S. military spokesman
Major Neal O'Brien said six were killed when the police headquarters was
- He also said, "As the Iraqi police continue to get
stronger, and continue to pose a threat to the insurgents and terrorists,
they will be targeted."
- Most Iraqis I've spoken with appear to disagree with
- "The Iraqi Police are puppets of the Americans,"
says Abdulla Khassim, an Iraqi man selling vegetables in central Baghdad,
"Who can respect them when they are so ashamed themselves many of
them wear masks to hide their faces."
- Of course the IP's who wear the face masks do so for
their own security, and that of their families. As anyone seen as a collaborator
with the occupiers is immediately subject to attacks by the resistance,
as are their families. Many of the Iraqi National Guard, which has now
been folded into the Iraqi Army, wear black face masks as well for the
- "Nobody respects them because they obviously cannot
provide the security," Abu Talat tells me as we drive past a truck
with two IP's in it in front of a closed gas station today.
- During my last trip, I interviewed several IP's who complained
of lack of weapons, radios and vehicles from the occupation forces. Their
complaints were centered on the fact that the resistance had better weapons
than the police.
- Later in my room we watched a press conference on the
television with the so-called interim prime minister Iyad Allawi. A journalist
asked him if it was true that the cell phone service would be cut on the
15th of this month because of the upcoming "elections."
- He dodged the questiondeferring it to the ministry of
defense. The same ministry of defense who yesterday announced that the
Iraqi Army was 50,000 troops and hoped that it would be increased to 70,000.
Just today Allawi announced that it was comprised of 100,000 troops.
- Of course the gas crisis continues to worsen. Most of
the stations in Baghdad
- Rather than cars filling their tanks, strands
of razor wire and empty fuel tanker trucks sit in many of them.
- Ugly reminders of the lack of reconstruction about in
Baghdad, like this building
that was destroyed during the invasion.
- Iraqis are reminded daily of the 70% unemployment with
the gas shortage driving the costs of everything through the roof. Even
petrol is 1000 Iraq Dinars (ID) per liter on the black market, which unless
you are willing to endure 12-24 hours waiting in a line, is the only way
to get your tank filled.
- When I was in Iraq one month ago it was 300 ID per liter.
Imagine what you would do if in your country you had 70% unemployment,
were without a job, and the cost of fuel rose 333% in one month, thus driving
the costs of everything from food to heating oil up?
- Speaking of the gas crisis, this morning a pipeline between
Kirkuk and the Beji refinery was exploded, and several lines southwest
of Kirkuk were also destroyed.
- In central Samarra today a car bomb detonated as a US
convoy was passing, but no word from the military on casualties, which
means there probably were some. A second bomb detonated shortly thereafter,
killing at least one Iraqi soldier and a civilian.
- Also, a roadside bomb intended for a US convoy near Yusufiyah
missed and struck a mini-bus, killing 8 Iraqis and wounding three others.
For unknown reasons the mini-bus was then attacked by gunmen, who kidnapped
- Keep in mind that Yusufiyah, just south of Baghdad and
in the "triangle of death" was recently the scene of large scale
US/UK military operations to rid the area of resistance fighters. Looks
like those operations were about as successful as Fallujah, were fighting
also continues on a near daily basis.
- Driving through Baghdad today, en route to an interview,
we are once again spending most of the time sitting in traffic. At most
intersections, women and children begging for dinars walk between cars
with their hands outpleading.
- Abu Talat fumbles in his pocket for some dinars while
an old man pleading for God to help him stands at the car window.
- Holding a cane, he is blessing Abu Talat repeatedly for
his kindness as he is handed some money.
- "Look at what has become of Baghdad Dahr,"
he tells me as the traffic finally begins to inch forward again, "All
of us are suffering now. This is not a life."
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