Secretary of State Colin Powell admitted yesterday that the resistance against the U.S. presence in Iraq is intensifying. In an interview on ABC’s This Week Powell said, “It’s getting worse and the reason it’s getting worse is that they are determined to disrupt the election.”
Iraq has seen another bloody weekend that left dozens dead across the country. In Mosul, up to four members of the Iraqi National Guard were killed earlier today in a car bombing. The attack comes two days after seven members of the Guard were killed in an ambush in western Baghdad.
Overnight, at least five Iraqis died in U.S. air attacks on the Sadr City section of Baghdad. U.S. air attacks have also continued in Fallujah. At least 27 people have died over the past two days there. One of the deadliest incidents of the weekend occurred in Latifiyah, south of Baghdad. 10 people died and 26 were wounded when a group of gasoline tankers were attacked. Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal is reporting as many as 30,000 Iraqi Christians have fled the country since a string of church bombings in August. It marks the largest religious exodus since the 1950s and 1960s when much of Iraqi’s Jewish community left the country.
And at least four U.S. troops died over the weekend bringing the monthly death toll to 63. September is on pace to become one of the deadliest months so far for U.S. forces. In other Iraq news, the U.S. military has arrested a senior commander in the U.S-trained Iraqi National Guard. The brigadier general was arrested on suspicion that he was collaborating with the Iraqi resistance. The arrest raises news questions on the loyalty of the U.S.-trained troops.
Meanwhile Pentagon is preparing to send 800 unarmed members of the 98th Army Reserve Division from Rochester New York to Iraq to train Iraq’s new army. The 98th Army Reserve unit is a non-combat unit that doesn’t have its own weapons or vehicles. It normally trains reserve and active duty soldiers in the U.S. Leaders of the Reserves are worried about the deployment. Lt. Gen. James Helmly, chief of the U.S. Army Reserve said, “This is a hard war and we, frankly, inside the Army Reserve have been not properly prepared for it.”
The Financial Times has obtained a new report by the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board which has concluded the U.S. can not maintain its current troop commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan without a significant increase in the size of the armed forces or scaling back the objectives in each country.
In Secretary of State Colin Powell’s interview with ABC yesterday he admitted that anti-Americanism is growing in the Muslim world. He said, “I think that that will be overcome in due process because what the Muslim world will see … is that in Afghanistan, 10 million people who have registered to vote will vote on the ninth of October and bring in place a freely elected president.”
But questions are emerging as to how freely the elections will be. The Los Angeles Times is reporting evidence has emerged that U.S. officials may be pressuring Afghan presidential candidates to drop out of the race against the pro-American Hamid Karzai.
One Afghan warlord, Mohammed Mohaqiq, said the U.S. ambassador personally visited his office and offered him a reward for quitting the race. Mohaqiq said, “He told me to drop out of the elections.” Other candidates have reported also being pressured. The U.S. government has denied it is meddling in the Afghan election. Meanwhile the U.S. is helping Karzai campaign by using U.S. military helicopters to fly him to campaign events outside of Kabul. In addition the U.S. corporation DynCorp is proving him with bodyguards.
In Syria, a military commander with Hamas was assassinated yesterday when a bomb exploded in his car. Israel has not officially acknowledged it carried out the attack, but numerous press accounts cite unnamed Israeli officials saying the Sharon government had a role in the killing. It is believed to be the first assassination carried out by Israel inside Syria. Israel’s deputy premier Ehud Olmert warned Palestinian fighters that Israel would attack them in “every place, every corner.” Hamas warned that the assassination may force them to target Israeli interests outside of Israel and the Occupied Territories for the first time. The group said Israel has “opened a new door for the struggle by transferring the battle outside Palestine.” Syria and Jordan condemned the killing as a terrorist act.
Meanwhile Newsweek is reporting that the Pentagon is updating plans for possible U.S. military action against Syria and Iran. The magazine reports that the Pentagon unit responsible for military planning for the two nations is “busier than ever.”
For the fourth time in six weeks Florida has been hit by a major hurricane. Hurricane Jeanne left at least five people dead and caused billions of dollars in damage. 2.5 million homes lost power. Florida became the first state since 1886 to be hit with four hurricanes in one season. Meanwhile in Haiti the death toll from flooding caused by the storm has reached 1,500. Some 300,000 people are now homeless. Residents of Gonaveives have complained the Haitian government in Port au Price has offered little assistance. One aid worker told the New york Times, “We are having trouble organizing the distribution because there is no authority existing in the town. The government is absolutely not responding.”
CBS News has taken the unusual step of publicly admitting that it has killed a major story because the network feels it would be QUOTE “inappropriate” to air it before the presidential election. The story is the result of a major six-month investigation into how the Bush administration obtained forged documents that made it appear Saddam Hussein was trying to buy uranium from the African nation Niger. The uranium claim was cited by President Bush during his 2002 State of the Union as a reason to go to attack Iraq. The segment was originally to air on Sept. 29 but was pulled to make room for the now infamous segment on President Bush’s military records.
Meanwhile a leaked memo from the Environmental Protection Agency has revealed that the EPA has ordered its entire staff to refrain from answering inquiries from press in the lead up to the November election in order to QUOTE “prevent EPA management from being surprised by news coverage.” The memo was released last week by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. The head of the watchdog group said, “This policy shows the EPA political leadership’s profound fear of the expertise of its own professional staff.”
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