Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Iraq - 150 kidnapped as UK/US talks start

Another week in Iraq started with yet more bombings and attacks. Today [Tuesday] up to 150 people were kidnapped by insurgents. They were taken from a research institute belonging to the Iraqi Ministry in the Karradah district of Baghdad. Latest reports suggested that 3 people had already been released [CNN/BBC]. It is said to have been the largest mass kidnapping seen in the country. Witnesses said the street filled with pick-up trucks carrying insurgents dressed as police.
There has been a continued rise in attacks from the Iraqi insurgency. Each month brings with it a greater number of attacks with little respite. On Monday this week at least 11 were killed in a suicide attack [BBC] and on Sunday two suicide bombing killed thirty five. Civilians are the main victim in this dirty war, but highly protected troops are still taking losses. On Sunday a boat carrying British personnel was targeted with an IED or ‘improvised explosive device’ the MoD confirmed. Today they were named as Warrant Officer Lee Hopkins, Royal Corps of Signals, and Staff Sergeant Sharron Elliott of the Intelligence Corps. Also killed in the attack were Corporal Ben Nowak of 45 Commando Royal Marines and Marine Jason Hylton of 539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines [BBC]. The attack brings the coalition dead to 3099, 125 of them British.
The political fallout has not affected Washington’s stance and last night PM Blair of Great Britain blamed both Iran and Syria for helping the insurgency [CNN].
Michael Cox, Royal Institute of Affairs, speaking on CNN said there was a difficulty with engaging Iran and Syria after the disaster in Iraq. On Iraq he said, “The situation there is very bad and getting worse by the day” and it was difficult for America as to “how to withdraw without making it look like defeat”. Whether Tony Blair can motivate US representatives in finding a way forward in the push for peace in the Middle East can only be guessed [BBC]. Speaking via a video link he told the US inquiry into future policy options that resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict is crucial to the future of Iraq. The ISG is expected to report its findings to President Bush within weeks. Posted by Picasa

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