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Good News from Iraq Report

LT Fishman from Stratcom sends a weekly report detailing the good news from Iraq compiled from open sources. It is extensive and a great reminder that there is more to the story than defeatist propaganda.

How 'bout this for starters:

1) 39 terrorists killed today in Iraq http://www.news24.com/News24/World/Iraq/0,9294,2-10-1460_2086580,00.html Baghdad - Iraqi security forces killed 39 "terrorists" in a fierce battle in the western Sunni province of Al-Anbar on Tuesday, said a top Iraqi official. Brigadier general Abdel Karim Khalaf, director of the operations centre in the interior ministry, said seven other militants were arrested, including some Arab nationals. The clashes broke out early on Tuesday in Ameriyah, southwest of the former rebel town of Fallujah and the site of a recent chlorine gas attack. Khalaf said security forces supported by paramilitary units formed by Sunni tribes fought the militants in a battle that lasted several hours. Two top militants, Shakir Hadi Jassim and Mohammed Khamis, were among the dead. About 25 Sunni tribes from Anbar have formed an coalition - Anbar Awakening - to take on the militants, largely from the Al-Qaeda network, who are operating in the western province.

Good News Iraq-Afghanistan 24 March

Lt. Jarred Fishman J2 StratCom

1) 39 terrorists killed today in Iraq http://www.news24.com/News24/World/Iraq/0,9294,2-10-1460_2086580,00.html Baghdad - Iraqi security forces killed 39 "terrorists" in a fierce battle in the western Sunni province of Al-Anbar on Tuesday, said a top Iraqi official. Brigadier general Abdel Karim Khalaf, director of the operations centre in the interior ministry, said seven other militants were arrested, including some Arab nationals. The clashes broke out early on Tuesday in Ameriyah, southwest of the former rebel town of Fallujah and the site of a recent chlorine gas attack. Khalaf said security forces supported by paramilitary units formed by Sunni tribes fought the militants in a battle that lasted several hours. Two top militants, Shakir Hadi Jassim and Mohammed Khamis, were among the dead. About 25 Sunni tribes from Anbar have formed an coalition - Anbar Awakening - to take on the militants, largely from the Al-Qaeda network, who are operating in the western province. These tribes have been sending thousands of young men to join the government security forces or their paramilitary units to co-operate with US and Iraqi commanders to fight insurgents. In response, the insurgents have launched attacks on them and modified their tactics to add gas bombs to their arsenal. On Friday, bombers detonated three dirty bombs in Anbar province poisoning 350 civilians, six American soldiers and killing two policemen. “The Al-bu Issa tribes in Amiriyat al-Fallujah, backed by local police and the MNF, clashed today with members of the al-Qaeda linked “Islamic State in Iraq” terror organization, according to al-Hurra TV. The tribe involved in the clashes has opposed al-Qaeda for months now and is part of the Anbar Awakening Council. The battles that are still ongoing have so far left 39 terrorists killed including the “ministers of oil and war” of the terror organization. Six policemen and 11 tribal fighters were also killed during the fighting. The report adds that US troops found and securely detonated a tanker filled with chlorine gas the terrorists were planning to use in chemical attacks on the area. Meanwhile, a police force of 500, conducting raids in northern and central parts of Ramadi, captured weapons and bomb-making material, and arrested dozens of suspects.”

2) Iraqi Police detain suspected chlorine bomber

Man caught attempting to detonate chlorine-filled truck in Ramadi MSNBC News Services http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17783212/ Updated: 7:59 a.m. ET March 25, 2007 BAGHDAD - Iraqi police detained a man as he was trying to detonate an explosives-laden truck filled with chlorine in Ramadi, the military said Sunday.The incident occurred Friday afternoon when a white cargo truck stopped near the entrance to a police station, about 150 yards from a water treatment plant in the Sunni city, according to a statement.Police detained the driver after discovering the truck was rigged with more than two tons of explosives. Five, 1,000-gallon barrels filled with chlorine also were hidden under several 55-gallon drums, the military said.The driver was being held for questioning and the explosives were destroyed by demolition experts, the statement added.There have been seven chlorine attacks launched since Jan. 28, when a suicide bomber driving a dump truck filled with explosives and a chlorine tank struck a quick-reaction force and Iraqi police in Ramadi, killing 16 people.The use of the toxic gas in attacks has prompted the U.S. military to warn that insurgents are adopting new tactics in a campaign to spread panic. Meanwhile, south of Baghdad gunmen attacked a Sunni mosque, setting it ablaze a day after a suicide truck bomber struck near a Shiite mosque in the same area, police said.Police in Hilla, close to the town of Haswa, where the attack occurred, said at least four people were wounded. An Interior Ministry official said a curfew had been imposed.Gunmen stormed the mosque in Haswa, a religiously mixed town about 35 miles south of the Iraqi capital, and destroyed its minaret in a blast. The building was set on fire, a police official said, describing it as an apparent revenge attack.A suicide truck bomber exploded near a Shiite mosque in Haswa on Saturday, killing 14 and wounding 21, Hilla police said. The provincial health directorate and the Interior Ministry official put the toll at 16.Mosques and other religious buildings have been frequent targets of attack. The bombing of a revered Shiite shrine, the al-Askariya mosque, in the town of Samarra in February 2006 sparked a wave of sectarian fighting between Iraq’s majority Shiites and minority Sunnis that has killed tens of thousands.

3) US military claim victory with V-shaped truck

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21431127-2703,00.html Robert Lusetich, Los Angeles correspondent

A RELATIVELY minor redesign of military Humvees could save the lives of thousands of US soldiers in Iraq. The Pentagon is spending $US210 million ($260 million) - and eventually probably billions - on almost 400 mine-resistant-ambush-protected (MRAP) combat trucks after the success of 200 prototypes in the Iraq war.  The MRAP has a V-shaped steel body to deflect blasts from improvised explosive devices, which have been responsible for 70 per cent of the almost 3200 US military deaths in Iraq. No US soldier in Iraq has died while in an MRAP. "The shape channels the full force of a blast up the sides of the vehicle rather than through the floor," said Joaquin Salas, a spokesman for Osh Trucks, one of the MRAP's makers. "It's all physics - vehicles with that shape are extremely effective." The Pentagon has been under fire for years for not doing enough to protect US soldiers in Iraq, who have complained they are vulnerable to insurgent attacks on their Humvees. But attempts to reinforce the Humvees have previously met with limited success. After seeing the success of the new V-shaped sides, US commanders in Iraq have increased their request for 4000 new MRAPs to almost 7000. If Congress approves the funding, the vehicles will replace more than 140,000 Humvees deployed throughout different branches of the US military.

3) THE IRAQ SURGE: WHY IT'S WORKING

By GORDON CUCULLU New York Post

March 20, 2007 -- 'I WALKED down the streets of Ramadi a few days ago, in a soft cap eating an ice cream with the mayor on one side of me and the police chief on the other, having a conversation." This simple act, Gen. David Petraeus told me, would have been "unthinkable" just a few months ago. "And nobody shot at us," he added. Petraeus, the new commander managing the "surge" of troops in Iraq, will be the first to caution realism. "Sure we see improvements - major improvements," he said in our interview, "but we still have a long way to go." What tactics are working? "We got down at the people level and are staying," he said flatly. "Once the people know we are going to be around, then all kinds of things start to happen." More intelligence, for example. Where once tactical units were "scraping" for intelligence information, they now have "information overload," the general said. "After our guys are in the neighborhood for four or five days, the people realize they're not going to just leave them like we did in the past. Then they begin to come in with so much information on the enemy that we can't process it fast enough." In intelligence work - the key to fighting irregular wars - commanders love excess. And the tribal leaders in Sunni al Anbar Province, the general reports, "have had enough." Not only are the al Qaeda fighters causing civil disruption by fomenting sectarian violence and killing civilians, but on a more prosaic but practical side, al Qaeda is bad for business. "All of the sheiks up there are businessmen," Petraeus said. "They are entrepreneurial and involved in scores of different businesses. The presence of the foreign fighters is hitting them hard in the pocketbook and they are tired of it." A large hospital project - meant to be one of the largest in the Sunni Triangle - had been put on hold by terrorist attacks when al Qaeda had control of the area. Now it's back on track. So are similar infrastructure projects. The sheiks have seen that the al Qaeda delivers only violence and misery. They are throwing their lot in with the new government - for example, encouraging their young men to join the Iraqi police force and army. (They are responding in droves.) Petraeus has his troops applying a similar formula in Baghdad's Sadr City: "We're clearing it neighborhood by neighborhood." Troops move in - mainly U.S. soldiers and Marines supported by Iraqi forces, although that ratio is reversed in some areas - and stay. They are not transiting back to large, remote bases but are now living with the people they have come to protect. The results, Petraeus says, have been "dramatic." "We're using 'soft knock' clearing procedures and bringing the locals in on our side," he notes. By being in the neighborhoods, getting to know the people and winning their trust, the soldiers have allowed the people to turn against the al Qaeda terrorists, whom they fear and loathe. Petraeus says his goal is to pull al Qaeda out "by its roots, wherever it tries to take hold." Another change: an emphasis on protecting of gathering places like mosques and marketplaces. "We initiated Operation Safe Markets," Petraeus said, "and have placed ordinary concrete highway barriers around the vulnerable targets." Car bombings have dropped precipitately - the limited access thwarts them. As a result, "The marketplaces, including the book market that was targeted for an especially vicious attack, are rebuilding and doing great business. It is helping the local economy enormously to have this kind of protection in place." With jobs plentiful and demand growing, the appeal of militia armies declines proportionally. Nor is the Iraqi government simply standing aside and allowing U.S. and Coalition forces to do their work. The Shia prime minister walked the Sunni streets of Ramadi recently, meeting and greeting the people - "acting like a politician," Petraeus said, without malice. "He is making the point with them that he intends to represent all sectors of Iraqi society, not just his sectarian roots." Rules of engagement (ROE), highly criticized as being too restrictive and sometimes endangering our troops, have been "clarified." "There were unintended consequences with ROE for too long," Petraeus acknowledged. Because of what junior leaders perceived as too harsh punishment meted out to troops acting in the heat of battle, the ROE issued from the top commanders were second-guessed and made more restrictive by some on the ground. The end result was unnecessary - even harmful - restrictions placed on the troops in contact with the enemy. "I've made two things clear," Petraeus emphasized: "My ROE may not be modified with supplemental guidance lower down. And I've written a letter to all Coalition forces saying 'your chain-of-command will stay with you.' I think that solved the issue." Are the policies paying off? "King David" as Petraeus is known from his previous tour of duty up near the Syrian border, is cautiously optimistic. "Less than half the al Qaeda leaders who were in Baghdad when this [surge] campaign began are still in the city," he said. "They have fled or are being killed or captured. We are attriting them at a fearsome rate." Virtually everyone who knows him says that David Petraeus is one of the brightest, most capable officers in today's Army. "He is the perfect person for the job," retired Major Gen. Paul Vallely noted. Early signs are positive; early indicators say that we're winning. As Petraeus cautiously concluded, "We'll be able to evaluate the situation for sure by late summer." That's his job. Our job? We need to give him the time and space needed to win this war. Gordon Cucullu is a retired U.S. Army officer and a member of Benador Associates. His book on Guantanamo is due out this fall.

4) Use Of Deadly Roadside Bomb Plunges March 21, 2007


(CBS) This story was written for CBSNews.com by CBS News correspondent Cami McCormick, who can be heard frequently on CBS Radio.  After warning that the threat of deadly EFPs, or Explosively Formed Penetrators, was growing at an alarming rate, the U.S. military now says there's been a "dramatic" decrease in the use of the powerful roadside bombs. EFPs "can punch through most of the armor out on the battlefield today," Army Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman said of the devices, which U.S. officials have said come from Iran. They are blamed for more than 170 American deaths since 2004, when they first appeared on the battlefield. More than 600 American troops have been wounded by the bombs. EFPs account for a small percentage of the roadside bombs in Iraq, but they are responsible for a disproportionately high number of casualties. Garver says EFP attacks have dropped significantly since December. "In February, we noticed a 77 percent decrease in explosively formed penetrators being detonated against our troops, a 74 percent decrease in the number of troops wounded and a 64 percent decrease in the number of troops killed" by the devices, he said. The reported decrease came as the U.S. military offered to reporters what it said was proof that weapons like EFPs were being manufactured in Iran. The Iranian government has denied any involvement in providing weapons or material support to Iraq's insurgency. According to Garver, the reasons for the marked drop in EFP incidents could include the detention of three Iranians in Baghdad in December. One of the men was believed to be a high-level Operations Officer with the Quds Force of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard. Most EFP attacks have occurred in Baghdad, and another reason for their decrease may be the ramped-up presence of U.S. and Iraqi troops in the capital due to the ongoing security crackdown. The city is surrounded by checkpoints, the most critical of which are to the south, according to American military commanders who believe most weapons find their way into Baghdad from that direction. The next brigade of U.S. troops arriving in Iraq as part of President Bush's troop surge will head south of Baghdad to help choke off those smuggling routes.
"We have to control what we call the belts, to the north, west and south. We're going to have troops in each of those areas, the south being a priority for the next group of troops coming in, to prevent weapons from coming back in once we've cleared them all out of Baghdad," Garver said.

5) In Iraq, Fear Takes a Holiday-Relative Calm Draws Residents to Play in Baghdad Park By Karin Brulliard and Salih Dehema Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 22, 2007; A18

BAGHDAD, March 21 -- Years had passed since Muhaned Kamal last went to central Baghdad's vast Zawra Park. By his wartime risk assessment, it was just too dicey. But Wednesday was Nawruz, a holiday celebrating the arrival of spring. And Baghdad was five weeks into a security crackdown that seemed to have brought some calm. So Kamal and his friends were at Zawra, playing tennis with wooden rackets and poker under tall eucalyptus trees. They would come back on Friday, Kamal said, waiting for a bus home as the ginger-colored sun lowered over Baghdad's hazy skyline. And the Friday after that. "I used to always hold the Koran in my pocket, or a copy of a prayer my mom put in my wallet, to keep me from danger," Kamal said. Lately, his vigilance has waned. "These days are a lot better than before." In relative terms, recent weeks in Baghdad have been quiet -- execution-style killings are down and nearly a month has passed since the last massive bombing, an explosion at a university that killed nearly 50 people. And so Zawra Park filled on Wednesday with residents picnicking on the patchy grass, and allowing themselves a bit of optimism. "I hope that this spring holiday will be accompanied by a spring security," said Ali Jasim, 40, a government employee who brought his children to the park from their home in Sadr City. "And I hope that Iraq will go back as it was."But the optimism of many parkgoers was wary. "We are waiting for our death anyhow, whether from a bomb, or a car bomb or at the hands of the militias," said Kamal's friend Mustafa Jamil Ahmed, 23, a slim barber with a black goatee. "So we decided to come here to play poker and tennis. And to take some pictures, so that we can remember each other if one of us is lost." Outside the park gates, bombs killed at least two people in Baghdad, and unidentified bodies were found in the city, police said. In the northern city of Mosul, a car bombing outside the offices of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, a Kurdish political party, killed five and wounded 25. Just north of Baghdad, in Taji, U.S. forces raided a bomb-making factory, where they killed five suspected militants and detained three others before destroying the building in an airstrike, the U.S. military reported. At Zawra Park, 17-year-old Mariam Hameed bounced a red-and-white soccer ball and laughed as she described her day: swinging on swings, sliding on slides. "It's for children," she said. "But I feel like I have not lived my childhood."

6)  Iraq says may be near anti-Qaeda deal with rebels
Thu Mar 22, 2007 12:28 AM ET By Ross Colvin BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A senior Iraqi official said on Thursday the government was holding talks with some major insurgent groups that might be nearing a point where a number would join a fight to drive al Qaeda out of Iraq.Saad Yousif al-Muttalibi, international affairs director at the National Dialogue and Reconciliation Ministry, said the talks were designed to persuade the groups to halt guerrilla warfare against the government and help defeat al Qaeda. "We've already established links and contacts with major insurgent groups," Muttalibi told the BBC in an interview. "One of the aims is to join with them into the fight against al Qaeda. We are almost getting there and to join forces to attack al Qaeda to get them out of Iraq," he said.Insurgents draw support from Iraq's Sunni Arab minority, once dominant under Saddam Hussein.he western Anbar province has been a hotbed for the insurgency but since last September there has been a mounting power struggle in the area between al Qaeda, which has non-Iraqi Arabs as its leaders, and fellow Sunnis who oppose the group.Increasing sectarian violence between Sunnis and Iraq's majority Shi'ite Muslim community has become an additional security concern in the country.Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who heads a coalition government of Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds, has ordered a major crackdown against insurgents and sectarian violence in Baghdad.President Bush is sending about 26,000 more U.S. troops to Iraq, mainly to back the crackdown in Baghdad.Iraqi Defense Minister Abdel Qader Jassim said on Wednesday the beefing up of the U.S. military presence in Iraq could last for months but was unlikely to extend into 2008. Jassim told reporters during a visit to London two Iraqi brigades of 4,000-5,000 troops each had arrived in Baghdad and nearby Diyala province and that two more would arrive in the next week or two. He said the crackdown had succeeded so far in reducing killings by sectarian death squads and criminal gangs. Shibani's release is likely to boost the standing of Maliki, an Islamist who relies on Sadr for political support. The Sadrist movement holds a quarter of the parliamentary seats in the Shi'ite Alliance. The Sadrists hold several ministries.Shibani was arrested in the city of Najaf with another 17 Sadr followers on accusations of possessing heavy weapons. Last year, an Iraqi court found no evidence against Shibani and his colleagues but U.S. forces kept him in detention.Shi'ite officials said Maliki and the Sadrists had had a tense relationship in the past few months, particularly since the launch of the Baghdad crackdown in which Maliki pledged to tackle both Shi'ite and Sunni militants."The Sadrists saw the Baghdad plan as against them. The release will put it back on track," said a senior Shi'ite Alliance official. "Maliki will be their favorite again."U.S. and Iraqi forces have killed or arrested hundreds of Sadr's followers since the crackdown started. They extended the crackdown into the Sadr City district, a Mehdi Army stronghold, but have met little resistance and U.S. commanders say senior militants appear to have left the capital.

7) Anbar tribes send hundreds of men to join the Police

http:// alphabetcity.blogspot.com...abureeshah.html
http://tinyurl.com/yqjh5w

More than 1,000 men in December and more than that last month, a record recruiting effort for the province. Shaykh Abdul Sattar Abureeshah addresses the Anbar Salvation Council: "The time for dictatorship is gone, and we are welcoming the new dawn of democracy and freedom here. I expect the future to be much better for the next generation for they will live in a better world than we do today."

8) Japan vows continued support for Iraq http://www.kuna.net.kw/home/print.aspx?Language=en&DSNO=963331

TOKYO, March 20 (KUNA) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed Tuesday Japan's continued support for rebuilding Iraq, indicating extending its air mission there beyond the July 31 deadline.
"The Iraqi government and the United Nations highly appreciate reconstruction assistance activities given by our troops," Abe told reporters, adding that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki has requested Japan's air force mission.The Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) began transport flights in March 2004 between Ali Al-Salem Air Base in western Kuwait and the southern Iraqi destinations. It mainly delivered supplies to Japan's non-combat ground troops involved in a reconstruction mission in Samawah.After the ground troops pulled out from Iraq last summer, the air force expanded its airlift support in transporting UN personnel and supplies to airports such as Baghdad and Irbil, further north of the Iraqi capital.Japan's special law allowing for the deployment to Iraq will expire July 31, therefore, further extension of the ASDF mission requires an amendment of the law. Earlier in the day, a ruling Liberal Democratic Party committee on defense issues approved a bill to extend the deployment for two years, which Abe's Cabinet is expected to endorse by the end of this month.Abe, who is keen on a greater global role and presence of Japanese troops, also stressed that his country wants to continue to fulfill its responsibility in the international community.Separately, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki expressed hope that public order in Iraq will be achieved through Al-Maliki's policies to tackle the security issue in Baghdad, while reiterating Japan's continued support for the Iraqi people.Besides humanitarian assistance, Japan, a key donor to Iraq, has also pledged to provide Iraq a total of USD 5 billion in aid for its reconstruction for a four-year period from 2004 to 2007, including USD 1.5 billion in grants.Last month, Tokyo also announced it is to provide new emergency grant aid worth about USD 104.5 million to Iraq to help improve its security and basic services such as health and food supply.The government is also making arrangements to invite Al-Maliki next month, following the upcoming visit of Iraqi Vice President Tareq Al-Hashimi starting on Wednesday.

9) Improvements and new development in Baghdad
http://www.sotaliraq.com/iraq-ne...ws.php? id=48770
“That the Cabinet has decided to appoint a committee headed by the Deputy Mayor- Technical Affairs and representatives of the Ministries of the Interior, Electricity, Water supplies, and Construction and Housing, to carry out the tree planting and greening of the Military Canal- several miles long east of Baghdad and all its neighbouring areas to become a general picnic/ entertainment areas for the whole population. They will remove all unlicensed structures on both sides and erect new Electrical lightings system and poles to all its streets and alleyways, and to build new hydrolic barriers at its source from the Tigris river and carry out pavings work of stone and concrete as well as erecting safety fences along the highways. This financial costs will be met by the Government and work should start very soon.”

10) U.S. opens ad-hoc medical clinic in Sadr City http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/health/1500AP_Iraq_Sadr_City_Clinic.html

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Ailing Iraqis waited behind concertina wire at an abandoned schoolhouse Saturday in the capital's Shiite stronghold of Sadr City where U.S. Army medics had set up a surprise medical clinic.A child whose legs were stiff with disease hobbled toward U.S. Army medics. Another man held his head where a gash swelled with infection, according to AP Television News footage. The ad-hoc clinic was part of a growing military outreach under the month-old Baghdad security plan. In most cases, such clinics close within hours, to avoid attacks. In Sadr City, medical services historically were provided by Shiite militias such as the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's powerful Mahdi Army. The military hopes providing treatment themselves will turn support in U.S. favor. The man seeking treatment for the infected gash to his forehead said he came for American help because it had become too hard to get quality treatment in Baghdad. Since the war began, medications had become almost impossible to find, he said. If we go to an Iraqi hospital, we don't get the medicines we need," he said. "We come here so maybe we can get some help."

11) Senator John Sununu: “Baghdad doing better” By NATE PARDUE Staff Writer [email protected] Manchester Leader

John Sununu said while visiting Iraq on Saturday that he believes the situation in Baghdad has improved over the past six weeks, but it's up to Iraqis to maintain the improvements.He was one of four senators in Iraq this weekend to visit with military leaders, soldiers, diplomats and Iraqi officials. The senators aimed to get a "first-hand perspective" on security and political issues there. Sununu, in a telephone conference call from Baghdad, said Iraqi troops and police have helped bring some stability to the region. "The question is whether those changes are sustainable and whether we will continue to see additional improvements," Sununu said.He said some signals of positive Iraqi involvement include the recent deployment of 6,000 additional Iraqi troops to Baghdad. Iraqi police also are working with the Iraqi army and U.S. security forces.
Further action must include passing legislation that lets local elections happen while including Sunnis. Iraqi troops also must continue to deploy to Baghdad, he said. Senators also met with Iraqi officials, including the speaker of the Parliament and the minister for national security. Officers under Petraeus' command told Sununu they sensed morale was good and there's been a "real change in attitude" in the past three or four weeks. Morale can remain healthy as long as soldiers are told accurately how long their deployments will be, Sununu said. "No one likes to be told their rotation is nine months and have it be 12 months, or 12 months and have it be 14 months," Sununu said.Sununu said the attacks indicate insurgents are looking for new methods of attack.Commanders told Sununu chlorine gas was being used in an effort to "alarm and scare and intimidate the population." Sununu said commanders showed him different weapons "clearly traced to Iran," representing an evolving approach to attacks. Sununu, who voted against the resolution, said it was surprising the vote to reject it was bipartisan. "I voted no because it's irresponsible to tell al-Qaida and other terrorists what day we're withdrawing or beginning to withdraw," Sununu said.He said the visit re-enforced his belief that stability in Iraq will make "a huge difference" in the United States' national security.

12) Iraq navy to acquire 21 new vessels
(Agence France Press) 18 March 2007  BAGHDAD - The Iraqi navy plans to acquire 21 new vessels, including four new patrol ships from Italy costing 100 million dollars, US and British naval officers said Sunday. Its manpower will also swell from a current 1,200 personnel to between 2,000 and 2,500 by 2010, US navy Captain Michael Zamesnik told reporters.The modernisation programme will also see the Iraqi navy buying three Malaysian-manufactured patrol boats, he added.‘The Iraqi navy has taken great strides in rebuilding itself from the ravaged effects of war,’ said Zamesnik, who is part of the transition team working with the fledgling force.He said the navy was being developed with the aim of ensuring ‘the security and protection of Iraqi territorial waters, key infrastructure and to counter terrorism, smuggling and illegal activity at sea.’Captain T. Radakin of Britain’s Royal Navy said the Iraqi navy had already made significant progress in the past three years.‘There has been significant reduction in piracy activities, smuggling oil oil,’ he said.Roughly half of the navy’s current personnel are former members of Saddam Hussein’s armed forces, the two officers said. ‘In the officers cadre, about 75 to 80 percent are from the previous regime,’ Zamesnik added.

13) Terror Network leaders captured over last three days
MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE-IRAQ COMBINED PRESS INFORMATION CENTER
http://www.mnf-iraq.com703.270.0320/0299 Release A070322c 23 March
BAGHDAD
-- Over the past several days, Coalition forces in Basra and Hillah [note that there was a bombing of a mosque yesterday in Hilla following this. Coincidence? Lt. Fishman] captured Qais Khazali, his brother Laith Khazali, and several other members of the Khazali network, an organization directly connected to the kidnapping and murder in January of five American soldiers in Karbala. Yesterday in Baghdad, Coalition forces captured the individual believed to be the head of the Rusafa car bomb network, the Al Qaeda-Iraq organization responsible for some of the horrific bombings in eastern Baghdad in recent weeks.  In yesterday’s operation and in another operation early this morning, Coalition forces also captured three other individuals believed to be key members of the network, a vehicle prepared as a car bomb, and a cache of weapons and explosives.Early this morning in Mosul, Coalition forces captured a former Saddam Fedayeen leader involved in setting up training camps in Syria for Iraqi and foreign fighters.These actions, and others underway, reflect intensified and even-handed efforts to reinforce the rule of law in Iraq.  They have also been complemented by recent initiatives to promote dialogue and reconciliation in Iraq.

       
 

14) Iraq   prepares plan to revive economy http://www.iraqdirectory.com/DisplayNews.aspx?id=3438

 

 
 

The News - [18/03/2007]

 
 

 
 

Iraqi Vice President   Adel Abdel Mahdi on Friday laid out an ambitious five-year plan to revive his   war-torn country’s economy and urged the world community to respond with   pledges of aid and debt relief. Mahdi co-chaired a UN-sponsored conference on   the International Compact with Iraq (ICI), a joint initiative with the world   body established last July with the support of the World Bank. Nearly 90   countries, including Iran and Syria, and several multilateral institutions   attended the parley to review Iraq’s progress in carrying out political,   security and economic reforms in exchange for international aid and debt   relief. “We are very satisfied with the results of today’s conference and we   are looking forward to taking Iraq out of its crisis with the help of the   international community,” Mahdi told a press conference after the meeting. The   United States strongly backs the ICI initiative as part of efforts to   stabilise Iraq. “The US Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmit said after   the meeting, “The Iraqis have done their part. The question is now what will   the international community do to help Iraq return to self-sufficiency and   financial independence.” Kimmit said the co-chairs of Friday’s meeting -   Mahdi and UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s new ICI special adviser Ibrahim Gambari   planned to schedule a meeting not later than the end of April “at which the   international community would give its response to the document laid out   today.” The venue for that meeting has yet to be fixed.

 

15) Security Increased by 70% in southern Baghdad.

Iraq’s Buratha News agency: Iraqi commander of the fourth Brigade of the Sixth division General Ali Jasin Alfuraigi said, ‘security in southern Baghdad has reached 70% since the implementation of operation ‘Rule of Law’. Alfuraigi said that his Brigade has arrested 63 terrorists in areas of southern Baghdad during the last eight operations in the areas of Mahmudiah, Yousefiah and Latifiah over the last few days. The largest of these operations was in the area of Said Abdulah in Latifiah. In this operation eight weapons cashes were uncovered. Alfuraigi added that the number of rocket attacks on the Latifiah area has declined 90% after the launch of operation ‘Rule of Law’. He added that the number of his troops is not enough for the area for which he is responsible, even with the backing of the multi national forces. www.gatewaypundit.blogspot.com

16) Conference brings leaders of Tigris River Valley Together
RELEASE No. 20070322-10 March 22, 2007 Conference brings together leaders of Tigris River Valley Multi-National Division – North PAO FORWARD OPERATING BASE Q-WEST, Iraq – Community leaders, commanders in the Iraqi Police and Army, members of the Provincial Reconstruction Team, and Coalition leaders met March 20 to share information and assess program successes and failures in their respective areas.The Southern Tigris River Valley Leadership Conference, attended by Ninewa Provincial Governor, Kashmoula, and Ninewa Provincial Director of Police, Maj. Gen. Wathiq, was held in the headquarters of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Iraqi Army Division, and provided a forum for all in attendance to voice their issues to their peers as well as the elected officials within the Government of Iraq’s Ninewa Province.Following an extensive question and answer session, the participants were separated into four informal working groups, based upon their specialization.  These included the:and the municipality managers.Legislative Group – containing the district and sub-district council members, as well as members of the Provincial Reconstruction Team.Iraqi Police Group – containing the Ninewa Provincial Director of Police, Maj. Gen. Wathiq, and the local area police chiefs.Iraqi Army Group – containing several 2nd Iraqi Army Division commanders, the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division commander, Col. Stephen Twitty, and the 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment commander, Lt. Col. Robert McLaughlin.Topics discussed included water, electricity, fuel, detainee operations, and security. Participants briefly discussed the funding of future projects, but primarily focused on ways to improve the standard of living for the local populace.

1) Afghan forces say at least 28 Taliban dead in fighting Thursday, March 22, 2007 | 11:23 AM ET CBC News

At least 28 Taliban militants are dead after fighting between Afghan forces and militants in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, Afghan officials said.Sher Mohammad Karimi, the Afghan Defence Ministry's chief of operations, said Afghan army and police combined forces to launch a joint operation against militants in the Gereshk district of Helmand province.Mohammad Zahir Azimi, spokesperson for the ministry, said that 28 militants were killed.No NATO forces were involved in the operation and NATO officials could not confirm the death toll.A provincial official, however, said the death toll was higher.Mohammad Eisah Khan, a deputy provincial police chief, said the fighting had left 40 Taliban and three police officers dead. Khan said Afghan forces had also arrested 10 Taliban.Karimi said he was told that the Taliban fighters were "very badly demoralized" and ran from the fighting. He said bodies of dead Taliban were left on the ground so that soldiers could provide an accurate death toll.NATO, which is leading a force of more than 30,000 troops as part of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, has launched Operation Achilles in Helmand province. The operation, which began earlier this month, includes about 4,500 NATO forces and 1,000 Afghan forcesAccording to NATO, Helmand province produces more opium than any other region in the world.The operation has involved fighting between British forces and Taliban militants in Helmand province, but NATO has not reported any large numbers of casualties of Taliban fighters during the operation.Canada has more than 2,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, with the majority stationed in the southern province of Kandahar. About 200 Canadian troops are involved in Operation Achilles.

     
 

2) Explosives seized in Mazar ahead of Nawroz festival

 
 

http://www.thefrontierpost.com/News.aspx?ncat=an&nid=591

 
 

MAZAR-I-SHARIF (PAN): Security agencies said   they had seized over 5,000 kilograms of explosives during raids in different   areas of this northern city. The raids are part of the security measures   ahead of the Nawroz festival, locally known as Mella-i-Gul Surkh. The   explosives were brought into the province for disruptive activities, said a   press release issued from the Balkh national security department on Sunday.   The festival begins on the first day of the new Afghan year, commencing on   March 21. The press release says the explosives were seized from different   areas of Mazar-i-Sharif. Three people have been arrested on charges of   keeping the explosives in their possession. Two of them are residents of   Balkh and the third comes from the central province of Parwan. Ustad Basir   Arifi, official of the disarmament of irresponsible armed groups (DIAG)   programme in Balkh, told Pajhwok Afghan News the weapon caches included guns,   rockets, remote-controlled mines, bullets, pistols and radio sets.   "Enemies of the country wanted to use these weapons and munitions to   disrupt security on the occasion of the new year festivities," he said.   He added the confiscated ammunition had been handed over to DIAG officials in   the province. It will be submitted to the Ministry of Defense. Balkh security   officials had also seized more than 1,000 kilograms of explosives some ten   days back. Nawroz festival begins on the first day of the Afghan calendar   year (March 21). Thousands of people from all parts of the country throng   Mazar-i-Sharif to attend the celebration, which continues for 40 days. Balkh   Governor Atta Mohammad Noor said all measures were in place to ensure   foolproof security in the city during the Mela-i-Gul Surkh.

 

3) Merkel Says Germany Will Stay the Course in Afghanistan

DW staff / AFP (jb) | www.dw-world.de | © Deutsche Welle.

Germany has about 3,000 soldiers stationed in Afghanistan German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai Monday to discuss German involvement in Afghanistan in the face of a hostage crisis in Iraq. German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Monday that her country would not be blackmailed over demands to pull its troops out of Afghanistan in return for freeing two Germans kidnapped in Iraq.

"The German government cannot be blackmailed," Merkel said after talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Berlin. "Naturally, given the situation, we are greatly concerned. We know what our commitment to the civilian rebuilding means to the Afghan government and we should not be blackmailed by people who are terrorists.".Germany has nearly 3,000 troops in northern Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. The Bundestag, Germany's lower house of parliament, recently agreed to deploy six Tornado reconnaissance warplanes to the region.Staying the courseBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:  Karzai and Merkel agreed that Germany cannot give in to the kidnappers' demands Karzai told reporters after the talks that Afghanistan had made significant progress since US-led forces overthrew the extremist Taliban leadership in 2001. He added that it would be "many, many years" before Afghanistan achieved its goals."That time will come with hard work from the Afghan people and cooperation from the international community," Karzai said, adding that Germany should maintain its troops stationed in northern Afghanistan. "The presence of German forces in Afghanistan, the presence of aid workers from Germany in Afghanistan and the presence of German assistance to Afghanistan has enabled our desire to be fulfilled partly," he said.Withdrawal a catastrophe Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:  Germany recently increased the number of troops it would keep in Afghanistan Afghan Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta also warned that a German withdrawal would be disastrous at a time when the country is facing a renewed Taliban insurgency"The withdrawal of the German army would be a catastrophe for the security and the democratic process in my country," Spanta told Germany's public broadcaster ARD. "I hope the hostages in Iraq are freed soon, but I also hope that the German commitment to peace and stability is maintained."    Karzai agreed, echoing Merkel by saying that terror would "have no end" if nations changed their policies according to terorrists' demands.

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