A roundup of information on the deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. This post is under construction; it will be updated continuously and will stay at the top of the page.
Saddam Hussein, 1937-2006: Iraqi dictator. Full name: Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti. (Alternate spelling: Sadam Hosein.) Born April 28, 1937; died December 30, 2006. Official title: President of Iraq. Unofficial title: The Butcher of Baghdad. Ruled 1979 - 2003. Saddam Hussein was responsible for atrocities against the Iraqi people. He was executed at dawn on December 30, 2006 (Iraqi time; the night of December 29 in North America).
Chronology. Compiled from various sources.
April 28, 1937 (official date): Born in Tikrit.
1957: Joins the Ba'ath Party.
July 16, 1979: Assumes power as president of Iraq.
September 22, 1980: Iraq invades Iran; beginning of the long and bloody Iran-Iraq war, formerly referred to as the "Gulf War" and known in Iraq as the Qadissiyyah (or Qadissiyyat Saddam).
1986-1989: Anfal campaign of genocide against Iraqi Kurds, headed by Saddam's cousin from Tikrit, Ali Hasan al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali".
March 1988: Attack on Halabja.
August 20, 1988: End of the Iran-Iraq war.
August 2, 1990: Iraq invades Kuwait. Beginning of the (Second) Gulf War. United States and allies respond with Operation Desert Shield / Desert Storm.
January 29, 1991: Iraqi forces attack Khafji, Saudi Arabia.
February 28, 1991: Cessation of hostilities declared; Gulf War effectively ends. Iraq accepts terms of cease-fire on April 6.
March 20, 2003: US-led forces invade Iraq in Operaton Iraqi Freedom.
April 9, 2003: Baghdad falls to US and Coalition forces.
December 13, 2003: Saddam Hussein is captured in a "spider-hole" at a farmhouse in ad-Dawr, near Tikrit.
November 5, 2006: Convicted in absentia of crimes against humanity for the mass killings at Dujail by the Special Tribunal; sentenced to death by hanging.
December 30, 2006: Executed.
Saddam Hussein Kazmi (link to Arabic name information) was born in the town of Al-Awja, 13 kilometres (8 mi) from the Iraqi town of Tikrit in the Sunni Triangle, to a family of shepherds. His mother, Subha Tulfah al-Mussallat, named her newborn son "Saddam", which in Arabic means "One who confronts". He never knew his father, Hussein 'Abd al-Majid, who disappeared six months before Saddam was born. He was the son of Musa Al-Kazim, one of the Sunni Imams of the Ahlul Bait. Shortly afterward, Saddam's 13-year-old brother died of cancer, leaving his mother severely depressed in the final months of the pregnancy. The infant Saddam was sent to the family of his maternal uncle, Khairallah Talfah, until he was three.[From Elisabeth Bumiller's interview of Jerrold M. Grumpkin, the founder of the Center for the Analysis of Personality and Political Behavior at the CIA in the New York Times (15 May 2004) on the importance of events during Saddam Hussein's youth. It can be read online at History News Network. The interviewee's surname appears as Post in the HNN article. - aa]
The Ba'ath Party. Encyclopaedia Britannica:
Hussein joined the Ba'th Socialist Party in 1957. He participated in an unsuccessful attempt by Ba'thists to assassinate the Iraqi prime minister, Abdul Karim Kassem, and, wounded, escaped to Syria and then Egypt. There he attended Cairo Law School (1962-63) and continued his studies at Baghdad Law College after the Ba'thists took power in 1963. After the Ba'thists were overthrown that same year, Hussein spent several years in prison in Iraq. He again escaped, becoming a leader of the Ba'th party, and was instrumental to the coup that brought the party to power in 1968. Hussein then effectively held power in that country along with the head of state, President Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr. 
Hussein began to assert open control over the government in 1979, becoming president upon Bakr's resignation in that year. Hussein then became chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council and prime minister, among other positions. He used an extensive secret-police establishment to suppress any internal opposition to his rule, and made himself the object of an extensive personality cult among the Iraqi public. 
I am writing this email after a lot of deliberation about whether I have the right to argue the case for an invasion in Iraq. But in the end I have decided that if I keep quiet I have more to lose.
My parents, my family, are from Iraq. My parents fled from Iraq some twenty-three years ago leaving everything and everyone behind. At that point, seventeen of our relatives had been “disappeared” or imprisoned for no reason whatsoever.
They sought refuge in Kuwait for four years, but once again were forced to flee with us (my brother and I) when Saddam had the Kuwaitis deport the Iraqi men back to Iraq. On the border he had these returnees shot dead.
We were lucky; we made it safely to Britain. My father was lucky – his brother was caught trying to escape, and tortured. So here I am, nineteen years later, never having set foot in the country of my parents.
The anti-“war” feeling prevalent among most people I speak to seems to me totally misjudged and misplaced. (Incidentally, the quotation marks here are deliberate: in truth it will be no war, but an invasion. A war presumes relatively equal forces battling against each other, with resistance on both sides. A US-led force will encounter no resistance from the Iraqi people nor the army).
I have to be honest here and say that, to me, this feeling is based partly on a great misunderstanding of the situation in Iraq, and partly on people’s desire to seem “politically rebellious” against the big, bad Americans. ...
As war with Iraq draws closer, commentators, journalists, and policymakers frequently question whether the Iraqi people would really support the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. But that question has already been answered. Although Americans remember the Gulf war, many do not realize that, for a few momentous days immediately after it, much of Iraq rose up in open rebellion against Saddam's regime. In fact, 15 out of 18 Iraqi provinces rebelled. I was one of the rebels.
For over a decade, I have stayed silent about what I saw. But now, as the world considers freeing Iraq from Saddam's rule, I feel compelled to bear witness to the last time Iraqis tried to liberate their country.
In February 1991, I was living with my grandparents in Karbala, a city of roughly 350,000 an hour southwest of Baghdad. The Gulf war was raging, and my family and I often listened to Voice of America for news free of Iraqi-government control. We heard President George H.W. Bush repeatedly assure us that if the Iraqi people rose up against Saddam, the United States stood ready to help them. "There's another way for the bloodshed to stop," Bush had said, "and that is for the Iraqi military and the Iraqi people to take matters into their own hands and force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside." I was excited by Bush's words, but, after two decades of living under the brutal rule of Saddam's Baath Party, it was impossible for me to imagine we would ever be liberated. Even though millions of Iraqis dreamed of overthrowing Saddam, we were afraid to speak about it and doubted anyone would ever come to help us. I felt the world had abandoned us. ...
Operation Red Dawn was a military operation conducted by the United States armed forces on December 13, 2003 in the small town of ad-Dawr in Iraq, near Tikrit. The operation resulted in the capture of the country's former president Saddam Hussein, and put to rest rumours of his death. The operation, and its two main objectives, were named for the 1984 film Red Dawn.
The operation was assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division, the Raider Brigade. 600 soldiers participated, including cavalry, engineers, artillery, air support, and special forces, under the overall command of Colonel James Hickey of the 4th Infantry Division. ...
His trial for the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Kurds was interrupted by his death. Palestinians esteem him for aiding Yasser Arafat and their war against Israel with generous grants to suicide killers and their families. In the first Gulf War in 1991, he fired 39 Scud missiles against Tel Aviv, although Israel did not take part in the war.
Iraq the Model, December 29, 2006: 'Meanwhile lots of updates are coming through news TV here; al-Arabiya reporter said the noose is already set in a yard in the IZ. Al-Hurra reported that preparations for the execution are underway and no delay is expected. ... -Bahaa' al-Aaraji, a Sadrist and member of the parliament's legal commission told al-Iraqiya TV that two execution sites have been prepared; one in the IZ and one in another location he wouldn't disclose. -Al-Aaraji told al-Iraqiya TV that the government is asking clerics whether it's allowed to carry out executions during religious holidays. He added that he expects Saddam to be executed no later than noon tomorrow.'
The Mesopotamian: 'But it must be admitted, that there is haste to execute Saddam for reasons other than simply justice and revenge; there are political considerations. The Government wants to get this over and done with as quickly as possible to forestall any unforeseen impediments, and in order not give his followers and supporters time to plan something. Besides, Saddam is still a symbol for some, and you may remember the demonstrations in Diala, Salahuldin and elsewhere brandishing his photos and shouting the famous slogan “with Souls, with Blood, we sacrifice our lives for you”. And then there is the so-called “Return Party”, which is a group of Baathist terrorists calling for the return of the Saddam regime under his leadership. Therefore, it is of political urgency to eliminate this symbol and put an end to any hopes and illusions of a return to the previous state of affairs. Due to the extreme personality cult that Saddam had cultivated, it would be difficult for "the enemy" to find a new convincing father figure. Also it is an act of defiance in the face of all the terrorists, the Bin Ladins & Co., the international chorus and etc. etc.; here we are stringing up your Saddam and you “can ride your highest horses” as the Iraqi proverb goes. We are not afraid of your car bombs, suicide bombers, I.E.D’s etc. etc.'
Wizbang clears up a point of grammar. 'I was delighted to know that Saddam Hussein was hanged. I have no interest whatsoever in knowing whether or not he was hung. They are NOT the same thing, people.'
In beginning of article, there is profanity that I can [not] edit out, because the page is closed to editing. Would someone with the ability to edit this page please remove the part in the beginning about him being a "PIECE OF S***" even though he really is. Unfortunately, it presents a bias point of view, even though it's just saying it like it is...
15:42, 31 December 2006 (UTC)
Noting that Saddam was "pwned" is not necessarily vandalism...
CBC News: 'Saddam, who ruled Iraq with an iron grip for almost 25 years, was hanged in Baghdad around 6 a.m. local time Saturday (10 p.m. ET Friday) in Baghdad's Green Zone, according to state-run Iraqiya television. "Criminal Saddam was hanged to death," the report said. The station played patriotic music and showed images of national monuments and other landmarks. The station also quoted Iraqi security adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie as saying Saddam "totally surrendered" and did not resist before being led to the gallows.'
The Anfal campaign began in 1986 and lasted until 1989, and was headed by Ali Hasan al-Majid, a cousin of the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The Anfal campaign included the use of ground offensives, aerial bombing, systematic destruction of settlements, mass deportation, concentration camps, firing squads, and the chemical warfare, which earned al-Majid the nickname of "Chemical Ali".
Thousands -- and most likely tens of thousands -- of civilians were killed during chemical and conventional bombardments stretching from the spring of 1987 through the fall of 1988. The attacks were part of a long-standing campaign that destroyed almost every Kurdish village in Iraq -- along with a centuries-old way of life -- and displaced at least a million of the country's estimated 3.5 million Kurdish population. [Human Rights Watch]
Independent sources estimate 50,000 to more than 100,000 deaths; the Kurds claim about 182,000 people were killed. Amnesty International collected the names of more than 17,000 people who had "disappeared" during 1988. [Amnesty International] The campaign has been characterized as genocidal in nature, notably before a court in The Hague. It is also characterized as gendercidal, because "battle-age" men were the primary targets, according to Human Rights Watch/Middle East (hereafter, HRW/ME).
Over 3,000 Kurdish villages were destroyed by Saddam Hussein duing his genocide campaign against the northern minority. (Academic.regis.edu)
... 148 Iraqis were murdered by the Saddam Regime including children in the village of Dujail, north of Baghdad, in 1982.
... Official Iraqi documents recovered after the fall of Saddam regime suggest a staggering 5 million executions were made during Baath era alone. Over 10 million were also imprisoned. They were all Shias save a small percentage of Kurds. It is also very interesting to note that after the 1991 Shia uprising over 300,000 were killed or captured never to be seen again, but there were no injured. (Brookes News)
... The Halabja Gas Attack March 15-19 1988: Estimates of casualties range from several hundred to 7,000 people.
... The Iraqis suffered an estimated 375,000 casualties in the Iran-Iraq War. (Iranatom)
... In southern Iraq entire populations of Marsh Arab and Shia Muslim villages were forcibly expelled.
He waged a genocidal war against the Kurds of Northern Iraq. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International spent more than a decade interviewing witnesses, documenting atrocities, and counting the dead.
While Israel made the desert bloom, Saddam destroyed the marshes of Southern Iraq. It was part of a vicious ethnic-cleansing campaign against the Shi'ite Muslim Marsh Arabs who bitterly detested his rule. He dammed up the water and set the marshes ablaze with rockets and tanks. He didn't allegedly do this. The fire and smoke were seen from the space shuttle Endeavor.
Resources. From 2004 to 2005, I compiled a number of Iraq-related internet links at The Iraqi Holocaust. A number of the links on that site are out of date; the following links are current as of the time of this posting. The Iraq Foundation. 'A major goal of the Iraq Foundation is to promote human rights in Iraq. The information below records incidents of state-sponsored human rights abuses based on reports from Iraqi and non-Iraqi sources.' Mafqud.org.
Mafqud.org has been designed in order to:
*Consolidate the documentation on enforced disappearances in Iraq into a unified resource which has been checked for consistency and redundancy and which therefore can accurately show that how wide-ranging these disappearances have been among Iraq’s various national, ethnic and religious groups,
*Make this documentation available on the Internet to all, and
*Allow Iraqis to document cases of disappearances they are aware of.
Indict. 'Bringing Iraqi war criminals to justice. INDICT wants to speak with those possessing useful information about the crimes of senior members of the Iraqi regime. Your confidentiality is assured.' USAID: Mass graves. 'Since the Saddam Hussein regime was overthrown in May, 270 mass graves have been reported. By mid-January, 2004, the number of confirmed sites climbed to fifty-three. Some graves hold a few dozen bodies—their arms lashed together and the bullet holes in the backs of skulls testimony to their execution. Other graves go on for hundreds of meters, densely packed with thousands of bodies.' Mass graves - victims of Saddam's regime. Photo essay. Text in Arabic.
Online resources are linked. Where appropriate, citations within quoted text have been supplied.
 Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition (2003): "Hussein, Saddam", v. 6, p. 171.
 EB: "Iraq", v. 21, p. 972+.
 Bernard Lewis, The Middle East: A brief history of the last 2,000 years. Scribner, 1995.
 Kanan Makiya (aka Samir al-Khalil, pseud.), Cruelty and silence. Norton, 1993.
Saddam Hussein, deposed ruler of Iraq, was executed by hanging before dawn Saturday, Dec. 30 for crimes against humanity. He was handed from US to Iraqi custody Friday. US and Iraqi forces on high alert
December 30, 2006, 5:15 AM (GMT+02:00)
He said in an earlier letter he is willing to sacrifice himself for the Iraqi people and would die as a martyr. The Iraqi government was under considerable international pressure not to execute sentence. The former Iraqi ruler was condemned together with his half-brother Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikrity and the former chairman of the Baath revolutionary courts Awad Ahmad al Bandar. The pleas came from the European Union, the Vatican and some UN agencies.
US and Iraqi forces are on high alert and some areas are under curfew.
Iraq’s Baath warned Thursday of grave consequences if their leader goes to the gallows. An internet message said the US would be held responsible. “The Baath and the resistance are determined to retaliate in all ways and places that hurt America and its interests.” Retaliation was also threatened against the Iraqi High Tribunal which upheld the death sentence. The largely Sunni-Arab Baathists who dominate the insurgency vowed to shut down national reconciliation negotiations.
MSNBC: 'DEARBORN, Mich. - Dozens of Iraqi-Americans gathered late Friday at a Detroit-area mosque to celebrate reports that Saddam Hussein had been executed, cheering and crying as drivers honked horns in jubilation.
Dave Alwatan wore an Iraqi flag around his shoulders and flashed a peace sign to everyone he passed at the Karbalaa Islamic Educational Center in this suburb of Detroit, a city that has one of the nation's largest concentrations of people with roots in the Middle East.
"Peace," he said, grinning and laughing. "Now there will be peace for my family." ...'
Year 2007 will definitely be without Saddam walking on the ground….
It's very imminent now and might become a fact at any minute.
The situation in Baghdad is tense now and US and Iraqi forces are heavily deployed on the streets.
We're hearing and reading more confirmations that US military has already turned Saddam in to the Iraqi authorities and I don't think the government is willing, or able, to keep him in custody for too long.
Rumors are spreading fast through phones and text messages in Baghdad, mostly saying that curfew will be imposed in the city tomorrow. No word about that from state TV though.
Friends and relatives are calling me asking me whether he's been already executed, some are claiming he already has.
Meanwhile lots of updates are coming through news TV here; al-Arabiya reporter said the noose is already set in a yard in the IZ. Al-Hurra reported that preparations for the execution are underway and no delay is expected.
It's going to be a long night but it looks like the morning will bring the news Iraqis have long waited for….
Jihadis are defeated in Somalia; a leading terrorist figure is killed; a Saudi activist yields to coercion; Americans rescue Iraqis and fight for Israel; and we take a look at the shape of the information war.
Islamist defeat in Somalia.BBC: 'Ethiopian and Somali government forces have reached the outskirts of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, after Islamist forces abandoned the city.' CNN: 'MOGADISHU, Somalia (Reuters) -- Triumphant Somali government forces marched into Mogadishu on Thursday after Islamist rivals abandoned the war-scarred city they held for six months before an Ethiopian-backed advance. The flight of the Islamists was a dramatic turnaround in the volatile Horn of Africa nation after they took Mogadishu in June and spread across the south imposing sharia rule. Terrified of yet more violence in a city that has become a byword for chaos, some Mogadishu residents greeted the arriving government troops, while others hid. "People are cheering as they wave flowers to the troops," said resident Abdikadar Abdulle, adding scores of government military vehicles had passed the Somalia National University west of the city center. ... "We have been defeated. I have removed my uniform. Most of my comrades have also changed into civilian clothes," one former SICC fighter told Reuters. "Most of our leaders have fled."'
TFR on islamist defeat in Somalia.The Fourth Rail: 'Nine days after the onset of open warfare between the al-Qaeda backed Islamic Courts and the Ethiopian backed Transitional Federal Government, the Islamic Courts have surrendered. "After having crucial and urgent meeting tonight in the capital, the leaders of executive and Shura councils of Islamic Courts Union and deputy leader of executive council of ICU, Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed and Sheik Abdirahman Janaqow resigned and issued a joint press statement over the current situation in Somalia particular in Mogadishu," reports SomaliNet. ... The Ethiopians are looking for a quick exit from Somalia, and have indicated they will leave soon. "Once we accomplish the mission – half is already over and the rest will not take long – we will leave," said Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. The Islamic Courts are signaling they will conduct an insurgency. ... The ICU may also be working to integrate its security forces and other elements of the organization into the new, TFG led government to destroy it from within.'
Lessons learned: The word is resolve.Froggy at Blackfive answers the question, "How deep to go?", and offers some reasons for the Ethiopian victory over islamist forces in Somalia: 'Off the top of my head, I would say that Ethiopia is not afflicted with a pernicious and defeatist media machine that is capable of manipulating public opinion, and even if it was, it doesn’t look like the Ethiopian president would give a damn in any case. The word that comes to mind is resolve. When a leader resolves to send men into battle, he is obligated to withstand the criticism of the media so that the troops who are withstanding hostile fire from the enemy are able to decisively defeat that enemy. This is the area where the President, Rumsfeld, and the Generals have been found wanting.' Steve at ThreatsWatch is of a similar mind: 'The absence of our engagement is a wholly arrogant and self-serving definition of peace and devoid of principle. Those who are guided by a fear of perceived American arrogance through her actions often arrive at the same result through their guidance toward inaction, comfortably removed from remaining conflict with clean and distant hands, eyes averted. Take from the Ethiopian advance the lesson of will.' Daveed Gartenstein-Ross at PJM makes the same point, and adds:
Moreover, Jibreel says that the ICU’s collapse has been hastened by its growing unpopularity. “The ICU was terrorizing villages and towns using technicals [pickups with heavy weponry mounted in the rear bed] that the population can’t stand up and fight against,” Jibreel tells Pajamas Media. “But they were not wanted by the people. They were alien. They were trying to use an alien ideology of fanatic Islam, and they had no clan backing.” One of the ICU’s major blunders was decreeing that women couldn’t leave the house without a mahram (male relative who would act as a guard). Professor Ali explains that because of the civil war that enveloped Somalia in the 1990s, more than half of the breadwinners in the country are women. This decree crippled their ability to earn a living. Nor was this the most draconian of the ICU’s rules: in one southern Somali town, the Islamic Courts threatened to behead citizens who failed to pray five times a day.
Sadr aide killed in raid.Hyscience: 'In a sign that the ROEs may be changing, a top deputy of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr was killed Wednesday during a raid by U.S. and Iraqi troops in the southern holy city of Najaf. Sahib al-Amiri was shot and killed by a U.S. soldier during the early morning raid and is said to have provided explosives for use against Iraqi and U.S. forces.'
Hajj begins.AP via Jerusalem Post: 'Nearly 3 million Muslims from around the world, chanting "I am here, Lord" and raising their hands to heaven, marched through a desert valley outside Mecca on Thursday in the first day of the annual hajj pilgrimage. This year's hajj takes place amid increasing worries across the Islamic world - over the bloodshed in Iraq, violence in the Palestinian territories and a new war in Somalia. Amid the crises, tensions have increased between the two main sects of Islam, Sunnis and Shi'ites, who come together in the five days of hajj rituals centered around the holy city of Mecca, birthplace of Islam's Prophet Muhammad.'
Saudi writer buys freedom with silence.The Muslim Woman: 'Wajeha Al-Huwaider a Saudi-born writer and journalist is campaigning for women’s rights in the male chauvinistic society of Saudi Arabia. In August 2003, the Saudi Interior Ministry from writing in the Saudi press banned Al-Huwaider. Since then, she has published her articles on the reformist Arabic websites, and has gained international recognition. In November 2004, she was awarded the 2004 PEN/NOVIB Free Expression Award at The Hague for her work for freedom of expression and advancement of women’s rights. She staged a public protest on August 2006 on Saudi King Abdallah bin Abd Al-Aziz’s ascension to the throne. She came onto the streets with a sign saying ‘Give Women Their Rights.’ This was not acceptable to the authorities who however arrested her because of her self-expression. The authorities bartered her freedom with a pledge that would not only cease her but would also desist her from all her human rights activism. Security personnel threatened that if she broke her pledge, she would lose her job with Aramco. She was also not permitted to return to her home in Bahrain, and was forced to remain in Saudi Arabia. This ban was lifted on September 28.'
Russian plane lands after hijacking attempt.Fox News: 'PRAGUE, Czech Republic — A Russian Aeroflot airliner made an unscheduled landing at Prague's Ruzyne international airport on Thursday after an apparent hijacking attempt, police said. A passenger aboard was detained by police. The Airbus A320 flying from Moscow to Geneva, landed in Prague shortly before 11 a.m., airport spokeswoman Pavlina Hajkova said.'
RAMADI, Iraq— “In one of Iraq’s most turbulent areas, we’re seeing signs that the situation is changing,” says Navy Commander James Lee. He just finished a six-month tour with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as their representative on the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) for Al Anbar Province that includes the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah. “At one point the local tribal leaders and the population at large fought against us. But as they observed our continuing efforts to improve their communities, they’ve taken noticeable steps switching their alliance from sympathizing with the insurgents to helping us get the security situation under control,” Lee explained.
“We’re working on schools, water and sewage treatment plants, hospitals and primary healthcare centers, electrical generation and distribution networks, waterway maintenance, roadways, police and fire stations and the local residents appreciate our efforts. Those times I would get discouraged about the ongoing challenges, it just took a stop in one of the many villages we were assessing for projects to get re-energized about our mission. The thankful smiles of their youngsters did it for me every time.”
Lee joined the PRT just as it was getting organized and he was one of the first on the ground at their new office in Ramadi. He worked directly with Al Anbar Governor Ma’Moun Sami Rashied, a fellow engineer. “He’s a courageous man, having survived over 20 assassination attempts on his life. I believe in my heart he’s a patriot of Iraq and there’s no question he loves the Al Anbar Province and its people. The sacrifices he and his family have made (including the kidnapping of his son who was eventually returned unharmed) is something to be admired.”
Ma'Moun is a believer in renewable resources and in Iraq's agricultural economy - particularly the succulent dates in Anbar Province. Read the full article at the link.
US Army rescues kidnapped Iraqis.MNF-Iraq: 'CAMP AL ASAD, Iraq – U.S. forces rescued two Iraqis who were held captive by insurgents in the Euphrates River-city of Hit, Iraq, Wednesday. Soldiers from the Friedburg, Germany-based 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division rescued the kidnapping victims after pursuing insurgents who were fleeing in three vehicles containing the captives. In their escape, the insurgents fled on foot, abandoning their vehicles and victims. The soldiers found the victims under a palm tree, handcuffed near the abandoned vehicles. No one was killed or injured during the incident. ...'
Israel: American olim think army.Jerusalem Post: 'Yonatan Cooper always knew that he would immigrate to Israel, but it was the death of his close friend, Michael Levine, in the recent war in Lebanon that prompted the 24-year-old to pack his bags and join 220 olim on a Nefesh B'Nefesh/The Jewish Agency flight Wednesday. ... On the flight to Israel, Cooper was joined by 21 other olim who plan to join the IDF within the coming months, and one oleh, Eliyahu Joselit, who has already served two- and-a-half years. Joselit, who joined the IDF as a volunteer in the Nahal Haredi unit, was allowed to keep renewing his time with the IDF. He had served more than two years when he was suddenly told that it was "deeply, deeply against the rules" for him to continue to volunteer and that he must make aliya in order to continue serving in the IDF.'
Commentary.Richard Fernandez at The Belmont Club has an in-depth article on "The Blogosphere at War." It is impossible to do justice to Wretchard's analysis in a summary, so I'll just note that it examines the blogosphere's structure in terms of collection, analysis, and dissemination ("finders, thinkers, and linkers"), provides real-world examples including the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 and the "Captain Jamil Hussein" debacle, and highlights the critical step of reaching the "legitimizer" - that established, entrenched organization or entity that lends authority to a fact or narrative. Go read the article as soon as you get the chance.
In Somalia, the military defeat of the islamist forces is nothing short of stunning. I think it's a given that they will try to conduct an insurgency and make life unpleasant for Somalis; there's no reason not to expect that. But as a military force, they're finished.
I'd like to return for a moment to the PJM article on the islamist defeat in Somalia. Gartenstein-Ross enumerates several key factors. The first, of course, is the will to win, and the absence of a defeatist leftist media follows close behind. As today's posts and earlier ones indicate, this is pretty well understood throughout the pro-victory blogosphere.
But Gartenstein-Ross names several other, more specific factors, which may be equally important, and which I think bear out the analysis of West Point's Militant Ideology Atlas.
Dahir Jibreel, the transitional government’s permanent secretary in charge of international cooperation, is in constant contact with transitional government leaders who are conducting the military campaign. He says two other factors were critical in Ethiopia’s military success. One is that the ICU committed a strategic blunder by spreading its forces too thin. ...
Moreover, Jibreel says that the ICU’s collapse has been hastened by its growing unpopularity. “The ICU was terrorizing villages and towns using technicals [pickups with heavy weponry mounted in the rear bed] that the population can’t stand up and fight against,” Jibreel tells Pajamas Media. “But they were not wanted by the people. They were alien. They were trying to use an alien ideology of fanatic Islam, and they had no clan backing.”
Jihadi propaganda—which is designed to reclaim this lost credibility—can be countered with the following messages:
— Jihadis want a totalitarian system of government in which no one is allowed to think for themselves. Not even the Saudi government is strict enough. Anyone who does not share their understanding of Islam will be declared an apostate and executed. If you want to know what a Jihadi state will look like, contemplate the Taliban—the only state in recent memory that Jihadis consider to have been legitimately Islamic. ...
One of the ICU’s major blunders was decreeing that women couldn’t leave the house without a mahram (male relative who would act as a guard). Professor Ali explains that because of the civil war that enveloped Somalia in the 1990s, more than half of the breadwinners in the country are women. This decree crippled their ability to earn a living.
Jihadis are routinely condemned for the following reasons:
— Declaring other Muslims apostates
— Attacking other Muslims
— Attacking women, children, and the elderly
— Attacking the sources of a nation's wealth, such as tourism and the oil industry
— Creating political and social chaos
Nor was this the most draconian of the ICU’s rules: in one southern Somali town, the Islamic Courts threatened to behead citizens who failed to pray five times a day.
— The Jihadi message is so weak and unappealing that they have to use violence to persuade people. They claim to be saving Islam, but they are giving it a bad reputation. They are hurting their own people and national resources.
So it appears that the insights of West Point's playbook are supported by the recent events in Somalia.
The information war follows some of the same principles as the ground war. Those of us who are intent on defeating the jihadis and fascists can optimize our efforts by being aware of what works and what doesn't. Few people become convinced of an idea by being lectured or shouted at; on the other hand, most reasonable, intelligent people tend to trust conclusions they've arrived at on their own when presented with the relevant facts. That approach - plus persistence and the will to win - will help us in advancing the cause of freedom.
Three Iranians interested in converting to Judaism recently left their native country, but have been unable to find any entity to assist them.
The three Shi'ite Muslims left Iran and approached the Israeli embassy and Jewish communities in Azerbaijan, but were rejected. It is impossible to convert to Judaism in Iran, as they would be considered heretics, a crime punishable by death. They are now waiting in a makeshift city in Turkey for a United Nations hearing on their application for refugee status.
The three left Iran two months ago and immediately approached the Israeli embassy in Baku. According to N., they were given a chilly reception. N. points out that embassy officials did not invite them into the building, but talked to them on the street.
"We told them we want visas to Israel in order to convert," N. recounts. "They told us that if we are not Jewish, our parents aren't Jewish and we have no family members in Israel, we cannot get visas."
The three also did not receive warm welcomes in Baku synagogues. At one place of worship, they were laughed at, at another, locked out. ...
New perspectives on Somalia, Ford remembered, and an inside look at Lebanon.
Ethiopian troops close in on Mogadishu.Monsters and Critics: 'Fighters loyal to the Islamic Courts Union load up on trucks to head to the front on Tuesday, 26 December, 2006 a day after the Ethiopian air-force bombed the runway. Somalia's Islamist militia reportedly pulls back from front line positions after assaults from the soldiers loyal to the internationally recognized transitional government which are backed by troops from Ethiopia.' Debka has a more detailed analysis:
Many of the foreign elements fighting on the side of the Islamic Courts militia were sent to Somalia by Christian-ruled Eritrea to harass its rival Christian power, Ethiopia. The Eritreans are joined by fighters from pro-Western Muslim nations of the Middle East to help a jihadist militia with strong links to al Qaeda to displace the pro-Western, internationally recognized Somali government.
Some military experts see this sectarian mishmash as a dress rehearsal for the big show should the very powers supporting the Islamist Courts in Somali decide to intervene in Iraq to restore Sunni Arabs to power and cleanse Baghdad of Shiite rule and Iranian influence. In five days, Ethiopian-backed government forces secured Burhakaba, 160 km west of Mogadishu, the strategically important towns on the Ethiopian border of Beledweyne and Bandiradley, and Dinsoor in central Somalia. They are also in control of Baidoa, to which the government was driven by the Islamist advance on Mogadishu.
The full-scale Ethiopian push this week was preceded by a small vanguard of special forces which have been operating in Somalia for the past six months. Present there now is an Ethiopian armored division of 15,000 men with 120 tanks, mobile cannons and air force jets. From Monday, air strikes were carried out against Islamic bases across Somalia. The United Islamic Courts Militia’s fighters are reported to be in disordered retreat to the capital.
The article explains Eritrea's role in the conflict:
The Horn’s two predominantly Christian nations, Ethiopia with a population of 73 million and tiny Eritrea with 4.5 million - who are half-and-half Christian and Muslim, are at daggers drawn. Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi and Eritrean president Isaias Afworky are third cousins and sworn enemies.
Their enmity has led them into four major confrontations in four years.
Afworky never accepted Eritrea’s defeat in 2004 at the end of its long war with Ethiopia. He ignited the Somali conflict as part of a grand plan to overcome his military inferiority by guile and subversion. The Eritrean ruler is well regarded by Ethiopia’s largest ethnic tribe, the Oromo, which form 40% of the population. To stir up the Oromo’s secessionist aspirations, the Eritreans established the Oromo Liberation Front-OLF, which Afworky eggs on to fight the Addis Ababa government from a base in the Eritrean capital of Asmara.
Then, five months ago, Afworky persuaded a large group of high-ranking Ethiopian military commanders, members of the Oromo tribe, to defect to Eritrea. He took their advice on ways to topple his third cousin in Addis Ababa ...
Afworky's Oromo sympathizers in Ethiopia, as well as the Ogaden National Liberation Front and the Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF), would under this scheme launch a coup against Addis Ababa while "the Ethiopian army is fully engaged in Somalia". Read the full article at the link.
THE PRESIDENT: My fellow Americans, all of us are saddened by the news that former President Gerald R. Ford passed away last night. I spoke with Betty Ford. On behalf of all Americans Laura and I extend to Mrs. Ford and all President Ford's family our prayers and our condolences.
President Ford was a great man who devoted the best years of his life in serving the United States. He was a true gentleman who reflected the best in America's character. Before the world knew his name, he served with distinction in the United States Navy and in the United States Congress.
As a congressman from Michigan, and then as Vice President, he commanded the respect and earned the good will of all who had the privilege of knowing him. On August 9, 1974, he stepped into the presidency without ever having sought the office. He assumed power in a period of great division and turmoil. For a nation that needed healing and for an office that needed a calm and steady hand, Gerald Ford came along when we needed him most.
During his time in office, the American people came to know President Ford as a man of complete integrity who led our country with common sense and kind instincts.
Americans will always admire Gerald Ford's unflinching performance of duty and the honorable conduct of his administration, and the great rectitude of the man himself.
We mourn the loss of such a leader, and our 38th President will always have a special place in our nation's memory.
President Ford lived 93 years, and his life was a blessing to America. And now this fine man will be taken to his rest by a family that will love him always, and by a nation that will be grateful to him forever.
May god bless Gerald Ford.
Michael Totten: Hezbollah's putsch. Returned from Lebanon, Michael J. Totten takes us to Hezbollah's recent demonstration in Beirut. Hezbollah was keen on looking both strong and legitimate, so its own green-and-yellow flag was kept out of sight in favor of the Lebanese cedar flag. The turnout for the rally was big, but
when you see photos of large masses of Hezbollah protesters, keep in mind that the anti-Syrian rally on March 14 of last year filled the same space you see above in addition to filling the much larger Martyr’s Square area to the east of downtown. Hezbollah likes to claim their rally was larger. But it is not physically possible for it to have been larger. They filled the space allotted to them, but they had much less space to fill.
The Aounists, who had switched sides since last summer, were also there. Go to the post for the whole thing, and lots of photos.
Army engineers bring joy to Iraq orphanage.CENTCOM: 'AN NASIRIYAH — Orphanages recently received numerous packages of stuffed animals delivered to promote goodwill between Iraqi and U.S. children and help the rebuilding effort in Iraq. “The children were extremely happy and did not believe that the stuffed animals were given especially for them,” said Edmay Mayers, a program analyst with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. An Iraqi associate told Mayers the headmistress of the orphanage welcomed the team that delivered the toys and appreciated what the Americans were doing for the Iraqis. On her first tour to Iraq, Mayers visited one of the elementary schools and saw a beautiful interaction between the Americans and the children. “The children of Iraq have stolen my heart,” Mayers said. “They are precious, young and innocent, and if only a child remembers that an American, British, South African or Australian person gave them something that made them feel special as a child, then we have done our part to help these little ones.” For her, the children need these toys as much if not more than the school supplies.'
IED chief bites the dust.MNF-Iraq: '8th Iraqi Army Division Forces, with coalition advisors, killed a suspected improvised explosive device facilitator and cell leader during operations Dec. 27 in Abu Sukhayr, near An Najaf. The person was implicated in an October 2006 IED attack on a police chief in An Najaf. The suspect allegedly provided recently several IEDs to his cell for an attack that he allegedly directed be carried out against Iraqi and Coalition Forces in the An Najaf area. During operations, Iraqi forces and coalition advisors entered the individual's house to search for and detain him. Upon entrance, a man was observed moving up a set of stairs leading to the roof of the house. He ignored repeated verbal warnings to stop. Iraqi Soldiers and coalition advisors followed the man up the stairs and onto the roof. First on the roof was an Iraqi Soldier, followed by a Coalition Forces Soldier.'
Commentary. Today's items on Somalia and Lebanon highlight why it's important to understand the present conflict on more than a superficial level. I'll keep looking for more information on the Horn of Africa conflict(s) and post it as soon as I can.
The Islamic Courts Union (ICU) is in full retreat as Ethiopian forces advance. 'Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said more than 1,000 people have died in fighting since his troops backing Somalia's government forces took the offensive against powerful Islamists. "We got reports of more than 3,000 wounded in a Mogadishu hospital. Those who died are well over 1,000," Meles told a press conference in Addis Ababa, two days after Ethiopia acknowledged military intervention in the neighbouring and lawless Horn of Africa nation. The Islamists said they had been forced to withdraw from many front-line positions in seven days of heavy fighting, but vowed to dig in for a long war with Ethiopia, which denies planning to take Somalia's capital Mogadishu or other Islamist stronghold towns. Meles said his force had "broken the back" of the foreign-backed Islamists and forced them into "full retreat" in the wake of air strikes and artillery battles on several fronts. ... The weak transitional government holds only one major town, Baidoa, in the southern central region, while the Islamic Court Union fighters in June seized Mogadishu from warlords and then extended their control over south and central Somalia...'
Tammy Bruce comments. 'This was is important because the Islamists who had taken hold of Somalia exist only because of bin Laden, and its fighters are primarily foreign. The capture of Somalia was seen as establishing a Taliban-like AQ support base. It's also amazing what happens when the worldwide leftist media isn't around to hamper the work of warriors. I have the distinct feeling that the Ethiopian military, combined with the legitimate Somali military, didn't offer to embed any media with their troops. How quickly the savages are smashed when they don't have that nihilistic and sympathetic media support. With apparently no media at all involved in this one, the good guys seem to doing a very efficient job of dispatching civilization's enemy.'
Reuters: 'Former U.S. President Gerald Ford, who was swept into office after the Watergate scandal and later pardoned Richard Nixon, died at age 93, according to a statement from his widow on Tuesday. "My family joins me in sharing the difficult news that Gerald Ford, our beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, has passed away at 93 years of age," Bette Ford said in a statement. "His life was filled with love of God, his family and his country."'
Sen. Kerry found himself all alone while he was over here. He cancelled his press conference because no one came, he worked out alone in the gym w/o any soldiers even going up to say hi or ask for an autograph (I was one of those who was in the gym at the same time), and he found himself eating breakfast with only a couple of folks who are obviously not troops.