Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. In addition, our "Winds of War" coverage of the global War on Terror is a separate breifing today. TOP TOPICS * Spirit of America is loading medical & school supplies for Iraqi civilians on Jan. 21st at Camp Pendleton, and Armed Liberal is helping to coordinate the effort. If you're in the area, be there! * Zeyad has an excellent post that discusses the Shi'ites and Sunnis in Iraq, their history, and the current situation. * I haven't seen much coverage of this, but Iraq may be about to get its own 4-star U.S. Army Command, a level equal to CENTCOM. It sounds technical, but if true it has very big implications for the whole region. * Could the key to al-Awda's defeat in Iraq be... printing new money? It doesn't get much coverage, but Trent Telenko thinks the effect could be huge. Other Topics Today Include: Baghdad blast; Foiled blasts; Anti-helicopter tactics; Body armor on the way; Marines learning Arabic; Sean Penn again; The CERP issue; Alaa's advice; Iraqi government maneuverings; Iraqi booze-runners; Liberal hawks reconsider Iraq; Who has troops there?; Saddam photos; Ba'ath poker; Support the Troops.
REPORTS FROM THE FIELD * CNN report: A terrorist attack involving a car bomb with 1,000 lbs. of TNT has killed at least 18 civilians in Iraq. It was a close call, but Chief Wiggles survived. Let the Iraqi Toy Drive continue! * On-the-scene report of a recent attack on an A300 at Baghdad airport, including pictures. No casualties. * Another attack that was foiled on Saturday, this one was 3 anti-aircraft missile warheads joined into a roadside bomb. * Oxblog points to an article about the U.S. Army's investigation into why so many helicopters are being lost to hostile fire, and the tactics being used. * Lisa Burgess reports in Stars & Stripes that 160,000 Interceptor Body Armor systems are now en route to soldiers serving in Iraq and Kuwait, thanks to a Herculean effort by 9 separate defense contractors. Hope they give some to the Polish troops. * As the U.S. Marines prepare to take over in the Sunni Triangle, they're getting crash courses in Basic Arabic. Good idea - and one we recommend expanding to any troops you know. * This article talkes about the coming transition in Mosul. The 101st Airborne "Screaming Eagles" paratroopers have done well, and the article looks at the process of organizing their replacement by the Stryker Brigade and its armored vehicles. * Sean Penn is back in Baghdad, and writing about his experiences. Mike Hendrix notes that he seems like less of an idiot this time. RECONSTRUCTION & THE ECONOMY * Cutting the number of civil affairs troops in Iraq makes little sense to Praktike, who also think the battalion-level CERP aid programs should be expanded. I'm with him on both counts. * Here's some information about the CERP Program and what it has acheived so far. * Iraqi blogger Alaa has some advice for the allies. * Man, that is one Basra doctor with los grandes cojones. Bravo. * Some form of Iraqi governance is getting closer. Team Agonist has links that give us some background on the Kurds' position, the role of Shi'ite Ayatollah Sistani, and some of the headaches involved in the process. * Praktike has some disturbing reports concerning the Shi'ites of Iraq, esp. Ayatollah Sistani's speeches. Standard bazaar bluffery before negotiations, or something more serious? * Bosnia's aftermath teaches us to go slow in these cases or face a weak government and long-term instability... expect high tension, hard bargaining, and major headaches as all sides including the USA work to come to a deal they can live with. The USA is trying to create a process that gives moderates an advantage. As they should. * On the economic front, apparently Iraqi reconstruction has its own trade show. * "Democracy! Whisky! Sexy!" Well, the whiskey part sure is becoming a booming business for the Iraqis. Seems they're taking a tip to from Canadian history back in the 1920s, and running booze into their larger "alcohol-free" neighbour Iran. Woo hoo! THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE * Liberal Hawks reconsider the Iraq war and its aftermath. Have their minds changed? It's a very good discussions, featuring Paul "Terror & Liberalism" Berman, Christopher Hitchens, Tom Friendman, Ken Pollack, Fareed Zakaria, et. al. * Curious which countries have troops in Iraq right now? The Command Post has your answer. ETCETERA * We have some great photos of Saddam's capture, from a source who shall remain anonymous. * Donald Sensing thinks Donald Rumsfeld should have listened more. * Which "cards" have we captured so far? The CENTCOM list. And the visual version of "Ba'ath Poker." * The troops are still there. So is the Winds of Change.NET consolidated directory of ways you can support the troops. American, Australian, British, Canadian, and Polish troops are included, along with some links relevant to Israel [updated January 15, 2004]. * I try to end on a lighter note. With idiot relatives like this, you almost feel sorry for Saddam. Almost.