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Four Marines die in Iraq copter crash December 4, 2006

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Four marines were killed when a US helicopter with 16 people on board made an emergency water-landing in Iraq.

The US military said on Monday that a Sea Knight, the marine version of the Chinook, was carrying 16 personnel when it came down in the Anbar province.

Residents of Haditha, 250km northwest of Baghdad, said it came down in a lake, which was sealed off by US forces.

The crash occurred in the Anbar province, where many of Iraq’s Sunni Arab fighter-groups are based and where many US marines die in battles against them.

Three servicemen are still missing.

A week ago, a US F16 fighter on a combat mission crashed near Baghdad. The pilot’s body has not been found and the US military has listed him as dead.

The worst crash of a US military helicopter occurred near the Jordanian border in January 2005, when 31 military personnel were killed.


John Bolton resigns as UN ambassador

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John Bolton, the US ambassador to the United Nations, will step down when his temporary appointment expires within weeks as he has failed to win senate confirmation.

Bolton’s nomination has languished in the senate foreign relations committee for more than a year, blocked by Democrats and several Republicans.

Critics have questioned Bolton’s brusque style and whether he could be an effective bureaucrat who could force reform at the UN.

George Bush, the US president, gave Bolton the job temporarily in August 2005, while congress was in recess. Under that process, the appointment expires when congress formally adjourns, no later than early January.

The White House resubmitted Bolton’s nomination last month. But with Democrats capturing control of the next congress, his chances of winning confirmation appeared slight.

The incoming chairman of the senate foreign relations committee, Democratic Senator Joe Biden, said he saw “no point in considering Mr Bolton’s nomination again”.

While Bush could not give Bolton another recess appointment, the White House was believed to be exploring other ways of keeping him in the job, perhaps by giving him a title other than ambassador. But Bolton informed the White House that he intended to leave when his current appointment expires, Dana Perino, the White House deputy press secretary, said.

Bush planned to meet with Bolton and his wife later on Monday at the White House.

As late as last month, Bush, through his top aides, said he would not relent in his defence of Bolton, despite unwavering opposition from Democrats who view Bolton as too combative for international diplomacy.

Perino said that among Bolton’s accomplishments, he assembled coalitions addressing North Korea’s nuclear activity, Iran’s uranium enrichment and reprocessing work and the horrific violence in Darfur. She said he also made reform at the United Nations a top issue because the United States was searching for a more “credible” and more “effective.”

“Ambassador Bolton served his country with distinction and he achieve a great deal at the United Nations,” Perino said.

“Despite the support of a strong bipartisan majority of senators, Ambassdor Bolton’s confirmation was blocked by a Democratic filibuster, and this is a clear example of the breakdown in the Senate confirmation process,” she said.

“Nominees deserve the opportunity for a clean up or down vote. Ambassador Bolton was never given that opportunity.”

Perino said Bush had reluctantly accepted Bolton’s decision to leave when his current appointment expired.


Annan: Iraq is in the grips of a civil war

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Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, has said Iraq is in the grips of a civil war and many people are worse off now than under Saddam Hussein.

Annan, who leaves office on December 31, described Iraq as being in an extremely dangerous situation and again questioned the ability of Baghdad’s leadership to solve the civil strife by themselves.

“When we had the strife in Lebanon and other places, we called that a civil war - this is much worse,” Annan said in an interview with BBC television and radio to be broadcast on Monday.

Last week Annan told reporters Iraq was nearing civil war.

Insecure life

Annan said he agreed with Iraqis who say that life is worse now than it was under Saddam.

“I think they are right in the sense of the average Iraqi’s life,” he said.

“If I were an average Iraqi obviously I would make the same comparison - that they had a dictator who was brutal but they had their streets, they could go out, their kids could go to school and come back home without a mother or father worrying, ‘Am I going to see my child again?” Annan said.

“And the Iraqi government has not been able to bring the violence under control.”

Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, which was not approved by the UN Security Council and Annan subsequently called “illegal”, divisions among UN members have sharpened.

“I really believed that we could have stopped the war and that if we had worked a bit harder, given the inspectors a bit more time, we could have,” Annan said.

He said that the US Iraq Study Group, which is about to release its report, recognised that “things are not working the way they had hoped and that it is essential to take a critical review - take a critical look at what is going on and, if necessary, change course”.


Ahmadinejad: Zionist occupiers must leave Palestinian territories immediately December 2, 2006

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The Iranian president, Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has stressed that the Occupiers must be expelled from the Palestinian territories and the resistance of the Palestinian people must continue.

According to an IRIB report from Doha, Qatar, the Iranian president in a meeting with Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister which took place in Doha on Friday, stressed that the main goal behind the creation of the Zionist regime of Israel was to dominate the middle east region, creating a continuous state of war and tension within the region. Pres. Ahmadinejad pointedly added : “If the Zionist regime stopped its aggressions, nothing will be left of this regime (the regime will collapse)”.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iranian president said the Americans and the Europeans are gradually finding out that the Israeli regime’s existence is meaningless, and that the Zionist regime must be gradually dismantled.

Addressing the Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniya, Pres. Ahmadinejad pointedly added: “the Palestinians, as representatives of the Muslim Umma, are resisting the Israeli regime , and the fate of the Islamic world , and indeed much of the world will be determined by your resistance”.

For his part, the Head of the Palestinian government, Ismail Haniya, thanked the Iranian nation and government for their unfailing and constant support of the innocent and oppressed Palestinian people.


Ayatollah Khatami says US should get out of Iraq

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Substitute Friday prayers leader of Tehran Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said here Friday that Americans have no other option but leaving Iraq.

“It would be more to your interest to leave Iraq today than tomorrow; Iraq’s occupation is not an easy-to-swallow loaf,” said Ayatollah Khatami in his second sermon to this week’s Friday prayers congregation.

Ayatollah Khatami also held the US responsible for insecurity in Iraq.

“We are unfortunately witnessing very painful days in Iraq; there is growing insecurity (in Iraq) due to the wrong policies of the US in the region; they (the occupiers) want to win bread through insecurity.”
He said insecurity has gone to such an extent that the US President George W. Bush failed to visit Iraq and chose Jordan as venue of his meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

The cleric also ruled out rumors that Iran has a role in insecurity in Iraq.

“The claim that Iran has a role in insecurity in Iraq is a sort of blame game. After having a bad dream, Americans bring to power another dictator like Saddam in Iraq.

“If Americans want their wish to come true, they should immediately leave Iraq; the Americans are trapped in a quagmire in Iraq, having no way to return or proceed.”
Ayatollah Khatami also blamed Americans for fanning the Sunni-Shiite conflict.

“Americans are playing blame games to provoke the Shiite-Sunni war and they have hidden themselves behind. Unfortunately some press in the region, too, add fuels to the flame, trying to fan insecurity.” The cleric then cautioned those caring for Islam that the US is the main enemy of Islam.

“The US is siding neither Shiites nor Sunnis and these people want to remain in the region through such mischiefs,” announced Ayatollah Khatami.


Over 20 US Troops Killed in 24 Hours in Iraq December 1, 2006

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An Iraqi Mujahideen car bomb blasts into US troop transport near al-Qa’im, reportedly killing seven Americans Wednesday night. A fida’i fighter drove an explosives-laden car into a joint column of US and Iraqi puppet military forces in the Tiwan border area near al-Qa’im near the Iraqi-Syrian frontier. The car bomber attacked a Zeal troop transport slamming into it and exploding.  At least seven American troops were killed in the blast.

After nine-days of lockdown Mujahideen fighters blast US troops in al-Hadithah with three deadly car bombs, leaving a reported 25 Americans dead or wounded Wednesday morning. The city of al-Haditha, 236km northwest of Baghdad rose against the US occupation after a grueling nine-day blockade. Mujahideen fighters in al-Hadhithah blasted the Americans with three simultaneous car bombs in the middle of the city on Wednesday.  Fida’i fighters drove three explosive-laden cars into the American troops inflicting at least 25 US dead and wounded. The three car bombers targeted two American columns and one American troop congregation point nearly simultaneously on Wednesday morning.

Two Iraqi Mujahideen bombs exploded by a US column at the entrance to the city of al-Hadithah, 236km northwest of Baghdad after noon on Tuesday. The two bombs that had been planted by the entrance to the city went off destroying two US Humvees.  The blasts inflicted casualties in the Americans’ ranks but no specific details on their nature or extent were available

The Iraqi Mujahideen carried out a major attack on US occupation forces in the city of Hit. 165km northwest of Baghdad. The attack began when a high-explosive bomb that the Iraqi Mujahideen bomb had planted in the al-Jam‘iyah area of the city went off by a US military column.  The huge explosion directly hit an American armored personnel carrier (APC), completely destroying it, sending parts of the vehicle flying around the area.  At least four American troops who were aboard the APC were killed. The explosion caused the American column to halt and that US troops got out of their other vehicles in order to pull their comrades from the wrecked APC.  But a detachment of Mujahideen fighters were waiting for them.  Resistance sharpshooters prepositioned atop nearby tall buildings and Resistance men on the ground opened fire on the dismounting Americans with light and heavy machine guns sending the US troops into a panic.  Three more American troops were killed and a number more ! wounded in this second stage of the attack.

Finally a column of US reinforcements sped to the aid of the American convoy but the Resistance had already planted a land mine in the road usually taken by American patrols coming into the area and one of the Humvees in the US relief column ran over it, totally destroying the vehicle and killing or wounding all the American troops aboard. As a result of the complex operation at least 10 US troops were killed and more than that number wounded.

An Iraqi Mujahideen bomb exploded by a US military column at midday Wednesday. The bomb that had been plated by the side of the road near the construction materials company at the 40 Street junction in the 7 Nisan neighborhood of the city went off by a US column as it drove past.  The explosion disabled a Humvee in the column but no further information on the nature or extent of casualties was available because the surviving Americans sealed off the area and got out of their vehicles screaming hysterically at local people to stay back.

an Iraqi Mujahideen bomb exploded by a US patrol in al-Fallujah, about 60km west of Baghdad. The bomb that had been planted by the side of the road in the 40 Street area of central al-Fallujah blew up by a US patrol late on Tuesday night, disabling an American Humvee.  Since the attack took place during hours of nighttime curfew, no information on the nature or extent of casualties was available.

An Iraqi Mujahideen bomb exploded by a US patrol in ar-Ramadi, about 110km west of Baghdad. The bomb that had been planted by the side of the road in the ath-Thilah neighborhood went off by a US patrol, damaging a Zeal troop transport loaded with American troops.  The witnesses said that three US Marines were killed in the blast and two more of them wounded.

Combat took place between Mujahideen fighters and US troop on 17 Street in the middle of ar-Ramadi, about 110km west of Baghdad at midday Tuesday. A US Humvee was destroyed in the fighting, the Al Basrah reported.

Meanwhile, according the Washington-based SITE Institute, the Islamic State of Iraq issued a message accepting responsibility for a fidayeen car bombing in al-Mosul on Wednesday, destroying two vehicles and killing and injuring “at least” twenty US troops.


Litvinenko was victim of ‘Russian rogue agents’

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British intelligence sources increasingly suspect that Alexander Litvinenko, the former spy killed with a radioactive poison, was the victim of a plot involving “rogue elements” within the Russian state, the Guardian has learned.

While ruling out any official involvement by Vladimir Putin’s government, investigators believe that only those with access to state nuclear laboratories could have mounted such a sophisticated plot.

Police were last night closing in on a group of men who entered the UK among a large crowd of Muscovite football fans. The group of five or more arrived shortly before Mr Litvinenko fell ill and attended the CSKA Moscow match against Arsenal at the Emirates stadium on November 1. They flew back shortly afterwards. While describing them only as witnesses, police believe their presence could hold the key to the former spy’s death.

Last night, the Irish government said it was launching a separate investigation focussing on the former Russian prime minister Yegor Gaidar, who fell ill during a visit to Ireland a week ago. At first Mr Gaidar’s entourage thought he was suffering from something he had eaten. But yesterday one of his aides said doctors suspected he had been poisoned.

The Gardaí said it would question everyone Mr Gaidar had been in contact with, but there was no immediate link to the Litvinenko case.

In London the number of locations searched by police for traces of radioactive material rose to 24 yesterday, with polonium-210 found at 12. John Reid, the home secretary, told the Commons there was a “high level” of contamination at some of the locations but the risk to the public was low.

It was reported that the levels of radiation were highest in the toilets of the Millennium Hotel in London, where Mr Litvinenko had a meeting shortly before falling ill. These levels were above the safe public dose limit, according to Channel 4 News. There were also traces at the Itsu sushi bar, where he went later, but they were far lower.

The Health Protection Agency said Mr Litvinenko had had a “significant quantity” of the polonium-210 in his urine when he was in hospital.

Explaining the increasing belief that Mr Litvinenko’s death involved Russian state elements, one official said yesterday: “Only the state would have access to that material”.

Officials now go so far as to say that the involvement of individuals within the FSB in the affair is “probable”. But they insist that it is far from definite and the evidence is still circumstantial.

Intelligence sources do not rule out the possibility that the perpetrators were “rogue elements” either still in the FSB or former members of it.

Though police anti-terrorist officers are in charge of the operation, Whitehall officials said MI5 and MI6 were helping. The British embassy in Moscow and the Russian embassy in London are also involved.

The three British Airways aircraft grounded late on Tuesday night remained out of action yesterday.

The two planes at Heathrow which showed traces of polonium-210 were being swept by police investigators while the plane at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport was still awaiting inspection.

A BA spokesman declined to give a timetable for their return to active service. Sources at the airline said the traces of polonium-210 were discovered in the seating areas.

Police checked a Boeing 737 from the Russian airline Transaero when it landed at Heathrow yesterday before giving it the all-clear. Mr Reid said the government was monitoring a fifth Russian passenger plane, but declined to name the airline involved.

Police sources said the searches of the three grounded aircraft were all part of the investigation into the movements of the key group of witnesses who entered the country with football fans.

Andrei Lugovoi, a former KGB spy who met Mr Litvinenko at the Millennium Hotel on November 1, has said that he was on a London-bound flight from Moscow on October 31 with his family and some friends. The group attended the Arsenal-CSK Moscow match the next day.

The second man who was at the meeting in the hotel, Dmitri Kovtun, arrived in London early on November 1 on a flight from Hamburg. Both men returned to Moscow together on the same flight on November 3.

Mr Kovtun said yesterday they had both contacted British police after waiting in vain to be contacted by detectives. “We got in touch with them ourselves, and they thanked us,” he said. But he has not been asked to give a statement.

Mr Kovtun said both he and Mr Lugovoi had been tested for any signs that they had been in contact with radioactive substances and were waiting for the results.

Both have vigorously denied any involvement in the poisoning.

The Guardian

Colin Powell: Iraq in civil war November 30, 2006

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Colin Powell, the former US secretary of state, said on Wednesday Iraq had descended into civil war and urged world leaders to accept that “reality”.

“I would call it a civil war,” Powell told a business forum in the United Arab Emirates. “I have been using it [civil war] because I like to face the reality.”

Powell’s remarks came before a meeting between George Bush, the US president, and Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, in the Jordanian capital to discuss the security developments in Iraq.

He said world leaders should acknowledge Iraq was in civil war.

Bush had denied on Tuesday that sectarian violence in Iraq had reached the scale of civil war. He said the latest wave of violence was part of a nine-month-old pattern of attacks by al-Qaeda fighters aimed at fomenting sectarian tension.

Bush is under growing pressure to find a new policy to curb sectarian strife in Iraq and to secure an exit for 140,000 US troops.

Powell, speaking at a world leaders forum in Dubai, said Washington should adopt a more balanced policy towards Iraq’s political parties and sects to avoid marginalising Sunni Muslims.

“We have to accept what all Iraqis accept, not to end up seeing a Shia-dominated regime,” he said.

However, Powell said troops had to continue their job in Iraq until their mission is done, but not to remain too long.

“The coming strategy has to be an Iraqi strategy, not American strategy.”

Powell outlined the case against Iraq at the UN Security Council in the run-up to the war, which was based broadly on unfounded intelligence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.


Former Russian PM ‘poisoned’

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Irish police have launched an investigation into the suspected poisoning of former Russian Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar.

He fell ill at a conference in the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Co Kildare after collapsing with nose bleeds and vomiting last Friday.

Mr Gaidar was rushed to James Connolly Memorial Hospital in west Dublin.

Police are interviewing everyone who came into contact with the politician.

A member of the Irish parliament has called for emergency radioactivity tests everywhere he visited.

But the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) has revealed that it has no plans to examine the university or the hospital.

While officials in the Russian embassy were unable to comment it emerged Mr Gaidar stayed at campus accommodation in NUI Maynooth last Thursday night.

It is also understood he complained of feeling ill on his flight over to Ireland.

The incident came amid heightened suspicions in the UK about the poisoning of former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko, who died a day before Mr Gaidar fell ill.

His daughter, Maria Gaidar, said: “There was a serious threat to his life. Doctors still can’t figure out a reason for what happened.”

Mr Gaidar served briefly as Prime Minister in the 1990s under President Boris Yeltsin.


Full text of President Ahmadinejad’s message to American people

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What has blind support for the Zionists by the US administration brought for the American people? It is regrettable that for the US administration, the interests of these occupiers supersedes the interests of the American people and of the other nations of the world .

What have the Zionists done for the American people that the US administration considers itself obliged to blindly support these infamous aggressors? Is it not because they have imposed themselves on a substantial portion of the banking, financial, cultural and media sectors?
I recommend that in a demonstration of respect for the American people and for humanity, the right of Palestinians to live in their own homeland should be recognized so that millions of Palestinian refugees can return to their homes and the future of all of Palestine and its form of government be determined in a referendum. This will benefit everyone.

Now that Iraq has a Constitution and an independent Assembly and Government, would it not be more beneficial to bring the US officers and soldiers home, and to spend the astronomical US military expenditures in Iraq for the welfare and prosperity of the American people? As you know very well, many victims of Katrina continue to suffer, and countless Americans continue to live in poverty and homelessness.

I’d also like to say a word to the winners of the recent elections in the US:
The United States has had many administrations; some who have left a positive legacy, and others that are neither remembered fondly by the American people nor by other nations.

Now that you control an important branch of the US Government, you will also be held to account by the people and by history.

If the US Government meets the current domestic and external challenges with an approach based on truth and Justice, it can remedy some of the past afflictions and alleviate some of the global resentment and hatred of America. But if the approach remains the same, it would not be unexpected that the American people would similarly reject the new electoral winners, although the recent elections, rather than reflecting a victory, in reality point to the failure of the current administration’s policies. These issues had been extensively dealt with in my letter to President Bush earlier this year.

To sum up:
It is possible to govern based on an approach that is distinctly different from one of coercion, force and injustice.

It is possible to sincerely serve and promote common human values, and honesty and compassion.

It is possible to provide welfare and prosperity without tension, threats, imposition or war.

It is possible to lead the world towards the aspired perfection by adhering to unity, monotheism, morality and spirituality and drawing upon the teachings of the Divine Prophets.

Then, the American people, who are God-fearing and followers of Divine religions, will overcome every difficulty.

What I stated represents some of my anxieties and concerns.

I am confident that you, the American people, will play an instrumental role in the establishment of justice and spirituality throughout the world. The promises of the Almighty and His prophets will certainly be realized, Justice and Truth will prevail and all nations will live a true life in a climate replete with love, compassion and fraternity.

The US governing establishment, the authorities and the powerful should not choose irreversible paths. As all prophets have taught us, injustice and transgression will eventually bring about decline and demise. Today, the path of return to faith and spirituality is open and unimpeded.

We should all heed the Divine Word of the Holy Qur’an:
“But those who repent, have faith and do good may receive Salvation. Your Lord, alone, creates and chooses as He will, and others have no part in His choice; Glorified is God and Exalted above any partners they ascribe to Him.” (28:67-68)
I pray to the Almighty to bless the Iranian and American nations and indeed all nations of the world with dignity and success.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
29 November 2006