Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET 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. The Monday briefing is brought to you by Joel Gaines of No Pundit Intended and Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted dot com.
- The U.S. launched new strikes into Fallujah, killing roughly 60 foreign fighters in the contested town. With an airstrike going in on Qurush, the Coalition may be attempting to shut down the new outbreak of terrorism before it can undermine what progress that has been made. The war is entering a critical phase as the U.S. and Iraqi elections approach, meaning that we can expect violence to continue to surge unless and until the Coalition can start rolling the enemy back.
- In an interesting switch from Germany's MO from 1944, the ABC reports that Coalition forces are planning a major offensive in December against terrorist strongholds across the country. If true, that is good news, but announcing the plans seems to smack of dire overconfidence. The Command Post looks at the big picture.
- Wretchard takes a look at how the situation in Iraq has changed since the war shifted from open warfare to counterinsurgency. While it would be mistake to assume that things are certain to get easier, the Coalition does now have some important new assets available.
Other Topics Today Include: USMC Major reports from HQ; more kidnappings of foreigners and Iraqis alike; Carnival of the Liberated returns; Zeyad's conspiracy theory; Building new homes; The electrical grid; Kurds to Kirkuk; Allawi vows no delay of Iraq's elections; Kofi says the invasion was illegal; Iraq WMD report; Berger's Iraq connection; How to Support the Troops.
REPORTS FROM THE FIELD
- Captain's Quarters has a report from a USMC Major on the Multi-National Corps staff in Baghdad. It's straightforward and clear, and largely positive.
- The Carnival of the Liberated, a round-up of interesting posts from Iraqi bloggers, has returned to the blogosphere.
- Terrorists kidnapped two Americans and a Briton in the upscale Mansour neighborhood of Baghdad on Thursday. The victims are said to be contractors with Gulf Services Company, a construction firm based in the United Arab Emirates.
- A relative of Alaa, at The Mesopotamian was kidnapped by "insurgents". In the case of her family member, the "insurgents" allowed him to keep his head in return for a large sum of money. Alaa makes it clear that the fight is not against "insurgents" or "freedom fighters", but against terrorists.
- Healing Iraq is always a great source of on-the-ground news. Zeyad has discovered a pattern, which could be generated into a decent conspiracy theory of cooperation between cleric-thug al-Sadr and terror-thug al-Zarqawi.
- Last week, winds offered 3 different views from the front lines of Iraq:  Christopher Albritton of Back to Iraq is unhappy;  Reports on the 1st Infantry's unconventional "Boss Tweed" stylre approach in Tikrit; and  Rick Sackett's unusual way of telling people about his Iraq experiences. Each sees a different picture. Read and decide.
RECONSTRUCTION & THE ECONOMY
- The Iraqi Ministry of Countruction and Housing has announced milestones on several projects to build new housing complexes in Baghdad and Kirkuk. The Iraqi government, with coalition assistance, estimates it will build 2.5 million units by 2007.
- The Army Corps of Engineers reports enhancements to Iraq's electrical grid, coupled with bringing on two new generators, has provided electrical service to an additional 72,000 homes.
- Hamzan, a small hamlet in Northern Iraq, is experiencing certain amenities for the first time.The 133rd Engineer Battalion has replaced the mud schoolhouse with a concrete structure, brought in electricity and a 20K gallon water tank. These National Guard Soldiers from Belfast, Maine, are also teaching the local Peshmerga the construction techniques necessary to continue the work after the soldiers have left.
- Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi insists that the January elections will not be delayed by the wave of violence unleashed by terrorists over the past week. That's probably a good thing, as Allawi's popularity is so low Iraqis will welcome a change in leaders as soon as possible. President Bush echoed Allawi's promise while acknowledging that the going is getting difficult in Iraq.
- Kirkuk is the recipient of nearly 500 Kurds each day, as they stream into the area and set up ever-growing "tent
cities"in order to establish residency so they may vote in the upcoming elections - indicating a possible shift in power in the area. Kurds were forced into exile to the far North duing the Hussein regime.
THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE
- UN Secretary General, Koffi Annan, has stirred the ire of several world leaders by calling the war in Iraq "Illegal". However, Mr. Annan's spokesman did say "Mr Annan was "quite reluctant" to use the word 'illegal' and did so only "after repeated pressure" from the BBC interviewer." Annan's claim drew umbrage from the U.S. and its allies.
- ...And from Matthew Yglesias, too.
- An Australian citizen was kidnapped, held for three days, and released after his family paid a $25,000 ransom. In Iraq today, this would not raise a lot of eyebrows, except this Australian citizen was The Imam of the Auburn Shia mosque, Sheikh Mohomad Naji al-Sibiani.
- Victor Davis Hanson explains why he thinks that a "pull-out" strategy for Iraq would be a really bad idea.
- A report by the Iraq Survey Group will state that Iraq did not have WMD stockpiles, but instead was importing banned materials and maintaining the capability to shift production to WMDs once sanctions are lifted. Expect to hear this report trumpeted to the rooftops over the next few weeks, although without much (if any) discussion of how the problem might be fixed.
- Sandy Berger (Docs-in-Socs-gate), former Clinton National Security Advisor, owns Stonebridge International. Stonebridge will be assisting Gulfsands Petroleum Ltd. Gulfsands has been invovled in "oil and gas exploration and development interests in Syria. And now Gulfsands is looking to Iraq." However, Gulfsands is not pursuing any government contracts, according to Stonebridge Vice Chairman H.P. Goldfield.
- 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 & Polish. Anyone out there with more information, contact us!
- Don't forget Chief Wiggles' Toys for Iraq drive!
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