Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Persian Empire UK Style.

We assigned Basra to the UK, because it was a British Colony, because Shi'a can count, and know who Iraq goes to in 'elections', and why fight the outsiders when you've already won? So now they leave, and the media wonders if it will be like the rest of Iraq, under U.S. authority? A bit of intraShi'a violence, sure. But nothing to be learned here except that the inventors of the zero can count. We fight on for the Islamic Republic of Iraq, a frachise of Iran, Inc., purveyors of Islamic Fascism since 1979. Henry_Allen

Sunni Woman's Rape Claim Roils Iraq
BAGHDAD, Feb. 21, 2007 (CBS/AP) An Iraqi Sunni woman who leveled rape allegations against three members of the Shiite-dominated security forces was taken to a U.S.-run medical facility over the weekend, the chief U.S. military spokesman said Wednesday.

But Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell refused to disclose details of her medical treatment or examination, citing privacy issues.

"What I can tell you is that at a point on Sunday evening, an Iraqi woman was brought to our medical facility. She was put under the care of our medical personnel there and sometime early Monday morning she was released," he said.

The revelation has stunned Iraq, where rape is rarely discussed in public — much less by the victim herself on a prominent television station. With Shiite leaders calling her charges propaganda and Sunni politicians offering the woman support, the disclosure has threatened to worsen sectarian violence.

The 20-year-old Sunni woman said she was assaulted Sunday at a police garrison where she was taken on suspicion of helping Sunni insurgents. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office Wednesday released what it said was a medical report issued by Ibn Sina hospital indicating no signs of rape.

The report, in English, was e-mailed to news organizations by al-Maliki's office. The grainy document was marked as page two of three and did not have the name of the patients or any of her personal details. A handwritten note in English said she had no bruises or injuries.

Caldwell said the Americans had not released any information about the case out of respect for patient privacy.

"She was released with her medical records. What she does with those is her own decision," he said.

Caldwell also told reporters that Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, has ordered a probe into the case and appointed an investigating officer who already has begun collecting information on the allegations, made in interviews broadcast Monday by several Arab satellite TV stations.

"Once the Iraqi government makes a decision on how they are going to move forward (and) there is an investigating judicial process established and they need this information from us, we will make that readily available to them," he said.

In other developments:

# A U.S. helicopter that crashed Wednesday north of Baghdad was shot down, the military said, reversing its initial statement that the chopper made a "hard landing." Military spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver said all the occupants were safely evacuated by a second helicopter.

# British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday announced a new timetable for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, British media reported. About 1,600 are to leave the south of Iraq within "several months", and Blair said some of the remaining 5,500 soldiers could be pulled out before the end of the summer

# A suicide car bomber struck a police checkpoint Wednesday in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, killing at 13 people in the spiritual heartland of the militia factions led by radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The Najaf blast hit while streets were filled with morning shoppers. At least two of the victims were police and the rest civilians, authorities said. It was the first major bombing in months in the city, which is heavily guarded by police and al-Sadr's powerful Mahdi Army militia.

# A U.S. Marine was killed in fighting in the volatile Anbar Province and a soldier was killed by gunfire in a neighborhood of Baghdad, the military said Wednesday. The Marine assigned to Multi-National Force — West was killed Tuesday during combat operations in the insurgent stronghold, which stretches west from Baghdad to the borders with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, according to a military statement. The soldier was hit by small arms fire in a northern district of Baghdad on Tuesday, a statement said.

# U.S. forces were investigating the "hard landing" of a Black Hawk helicopter north of Baghdad. Caldwell said the airmen were picked up by rescuers, but gave no further details. At least seven U.S. helicopters have crashed or been forced down by hostile fire in the past month, killing 28 troops and civilians.

# A second U.S. soldier has pleaded guilty to the gang rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the killing of her family, saying he held the girl down and acted as a lookout while others took turns attacking her. Sgt. Paul E. Cortez, 24, pleaded guilty to four murders, rape and conspiracy to rape. Cortez said he conspired with three other soldiers — Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman, Spc. James P. Barker and Steven D. Green, who has been discharged — to rape Abeer Qassim al-Janabi. If the judge approves the deal, Cortez could avoid the death penalty.

Caldwell's comments came hours after al-Maliki fired a top Sunni official who had called for an international investigation into the rape allegations. He also has exonerated the three Iraqi policemen accused by the woman and said they should be rewarded as a sign of confidence in the force.

A separate statement by al-Maliki's office gave no reason in announcing the dismissal of Ahmed Abdul-Ghafour al-Samaraie, head of the Sunni Endowment. Al-Samaraie, whose organization cares for Sunni mosques and shrines in Iraq, had joined other prominent Sunnis in criticizing the government's handling of the case.

Al-Samaraie, speaking from Amman in neighboring Jordan, disputed al-Maliki's right to fire him, arguing that only the country's Presidential Council — which comprises President Jalal Talabani and his two deputies — has that authority. A statement by the Endowment, which has offices across the country, said it rejects al-Samaraie's dismissal and declared an indefinite protest at its offices to protest the move.

His dismissal was the latest move in a highly publicized and increasingly bitter tussle over the rape allegations, pitting al-Maliki's Shiite-dominated government against its Sunni Arab critics. The public quarrel is fueling charges by the Sunnis that a Baghdad security crackdown was targeting Sunni neighborhoods and leaving unaffected Shiite areas harboring militias blamed for sectarian killings.

Al-Maliki has said the woman's allegations were being used by his critics to discredit the security forces and undermine the U.S.-Iraqi security sweep under way.

Al-Samaraie, the senior Sunni official, said in a statement Monday that the rape allegations offered what he called proof of the failure of the security push in Baghdad to protect the city's residents.

"The Sunni Endowment strongly denounces this horrific crime and lets out a cry for help from the international community and human rights organizations, demanding that they launch an immediate investigation into this crime," said the statement, signed by al-Samaraie.

Speaking to Al-Arabiyah television Wednesday, he said, "Many girls are raped but they refuse to appear in the media so as not to tarnish their reputations," he said. Later, he told Al-Jazeera: "We will continue to speak with courage and we will not fear anyone but God and I am not concerned about losing my job because the honor of Iraqi women is a thousand times more valuable than government jobs."

Also Wednesday, an Iraqi military spokesman suggested that the woman was helping Sunni insurgents in the western Baghdad Amil district where she lives, saying that security forces had more than once found her preparing large amounts of food during previous raids.

Brig. Gen. Qassim Moussawi said at a news conference the woman was questioned for only 15 minutes and that the house from which she was taken into custody had an "opening" that led to a small clinic where large amounts of medicines allegedly used to treat wounded "terrorists" were found.

He said the scandal surrounding the rape allegations was a result of coordinated efforts by groups inside and outside the country that were "known to be hostile to Iraq and its people," implying it was a publicity stunt engineered by critics of al-Maliki's government. First word of the rape allegations first came Sunday from parliament's largest Sunni Arab bloc, the National Accordance Front.

© MMVII, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

No comments: