JULY 2007

Attacks on U.S. Troops in Iraq Grow in Lethality, Complexity

Bigger Bombs a Key Cause of May's High Death Toll

By Ann Scott Tyson and John Ward AndersonWashington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, June 3, 2007; Page A01

As U.S. troops push more deeply into Baghdad and its volatile outskirts, Iraqi insurgents are using increasingly sophisticated and lethal means of attack, including bigger roadside bombs that are resulting in greater numbers of American fatalities relative to the number of wounded.

Insurgents are deploying huge, deeply buried munitions set up to protect their territory and mounting complex ambushes that demonstrate their ability to respond rapidly to U.S. tactics. A new counterinsurgency strategy has resulted in decreased civilian deaths in Baghdad but has placed thousands of additional American troops at greater risk in small outposts in the capital and other parts of the country.

"It is very clear that the number of attacks against U.S. forces is up" and that they have grown more effective in Baghdad, especially in recent weeks, said Maj. Gen. James E. Simmons, deputy commander for operations in Iraq. At the same time, he said, attacks on Iraqi security forces have declined slightly, citing figures that compare the period of mid-February to mid-May to the preceding three months. "The attacks are being directed at us and not against other people," he said.

May, with 127 American fatalities, was the third-deadliest month for U.S. troops since the 2003 invasion. As in the conflict's two deadliest months for U.S. troops -- 137 died in November 2004 and 135 in April of that year -- the overarching cause of May's toll is the ongoing, large-scale U.S. military operations. Simmons called the high U.S. losses in May "a very painful and heart-wrenching experience."

The intensity of combat and the greater lethality of attacks on U.S. troops is underscored by the lower ratio of wounded to killed for May, which fell to about 4.8 to 1 -- compared with an average of 8 to 1 in the Iraq conflict, according Pentagon data. "The closer you get to a stand-up fight, the closer you're going to get to that 3-to-1 ratio" that typified 2oth-century U.S. warfare, said John Pike, director of, a defense information Web site.

Simmons said that in May, the number of armor-piercing weapons known as explosively formed projectiles roughly matched the April high of 65, and the main source of increased U.S. deaths was "large and buried IEDs," or improvised explosive devices.

U.S. deaths have risen sharply in some of Baghdad's outlying regions, such as Diyala province, where Sunni and Shiite groups have escalated sectarian violence and fought back hard against American forces moving into their safe havens. "Extremists on both sides of this thing are trying to make a statement by attacking U.S. troops," Simmons said.

The overall percentage of U.S. military fatalities caused by roadside bombs had dipped from more than 60 percent late last year to 35 percent in February. It then rose again to 70.9 percent in May, according to research by the independent Web site Gains in defeating the bombs have not resulted in fewer deaths because the number of bombs -- and the lethality of some types -- have increased, military officials said.

Insurgents are also staging carefully planned, complex ambushes and retaliatory attacks as they target U.S. troops, the officials said. While few in number, these include direct assaults on U.S. military outposts, ambushes in which American troops have been captured, and complex attacks that use multiple weapons to strike more than one U.S. target. For example, attackers will bomb a patrol and then target ground forces or aircraft that come to its aid.

"We are starting to see more sophistication and training in their attacks," said a senior military official in Baghdad. While the vast majority of attacks are still relatively simple and involve a single type of weapon, "clearly the trend is going in the wrong direction," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

In an attack Monday in Diyala, for example, an OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter carrying two U.S. soldiers took heavy enemy fire during combat and crashed in farmland southwest of the town of Abu Saydah, about 40 miles north of Baghdad in a region where the Sunni extremist group al-Qaeda in Iraq is trying to establish a new stronghold.

The U.S. military scrambled Bradley Fighting Vehicles at Forward Operating Base Normandy, 19 miles from the crash, for an urgent rescue. But as the Quick Reaction Force rumbled through the rural terrain just a mile and a half from the crash site, a huge roadside bomb hit a Bradley, killing four soldiers and wounding another four, one mortally. Suddenly, the rescue mission itself was in peril, and helicopters rushed to evacuate the injured.

From: [] On Behalf Of World
Sent: Monday, July 09, 2007 9:04 AM
Subject: [wvns] Iraq's Death Toll Far Worse Than Our Leaders Admit

The US and Britain have triggered an episode more deadly than the
Rwandan genocide

Iraq's death toll is far worse than our leaders admit

On both sides of the Atlantic, a process of spinning science is
preventing a serious discussion about the state of affairs in Iraq.

The government in Iraq claimed last month that since the 2003 invasion
between 40,000 and 50,000 violent deaths have occurred. Few have
pointed out the absurdity of this statement.

There are three ways we know it is a gross underestimate. First, if it
were true, including suicides, South Africa, Colombia, Estonia,
Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia have experienced higher
violent death rates than Iraq over the past four years. If true, many
North and South American cities and Sub-Saharan Africa have had a
similar murder rate to that claimed in Iraq. For those of us who have
been in Iraq, the suggestion that New Orleans is more violent seems
simply ridiculous.

Secondly, there have to be at least 120,000 and probably 140,000
deaths per year from natural causes in a country with the population
of Iraq. The numerous stories we hear about overflowing morgues, the
need for new cemeteries and new body collection brigades are not
consistent with a 10 per cent rise in death rate above the baseline.

And finally, there was a study, peer-reviewed and published in The
Lancet, Europe's most prestigious medical journal, which put the death
toll at 650,000 as of last July. The study, which I co-authored, was
done by the standard cluster approach used by the UN to estimate
mortality in dozens of countries each year. While the findings are
imprecise, the lower range of possibilities suggested that the Iraq
government was at least downplaying the number of dead by a factor of 10.

There are several reasons why the governments involved in this
conflict have been able to confuse the issue of Iraqi deaths. Our
Lancet report involved sampling and statistical analysis, which is
rather dry reading. Media reports always miss most deaths in times of
war, so the estimate by the media-based monitoring system, (IBC) roughly corresponds with the Iraq government's
figures. Repeated evaluations of deaths identified from sources
independent of the press and the Ministry of Health show the IBC
listing to be less than 10 per cent complete, but because it matches
the reports of the governments involved, it is easily referenced.

Several other estimates have placed the death toll far higher than the
Iraqi government estimates, but those have received less press
attention. When in 2005, a UN survey reported that 90 per cent of
violent attacks in Scotland were not recorded by the police, no one,
not even the police, disputed this finding. Representative surveys are
the next best thing to a census for counting deaths, and nowhere but
Iraq have partial tallies from morgues and hospitals been given such
credence when representative survey results are available.

The Pentagon will not release information about deaths induced or
amounts of weaponry used in Iraq. On 9 January of this year, the
embedded Fox News reporter Brit Hume went along for an air attack, and
we learned that at least 25 targets were bombed that day with almost
no reports of the damage appearing in the press.

Saddam Hussein's surveillance network, which only captured one third
of all deaths before the invasion, has certainly deteriorated even
further. During last July, there were numerous televised clashes in
Anbar, yet the system recorded exactly zero violent deaths from the
province. The last Minister of Health to honestly assess the
surveillance network, Dr Ala'din Alwan, admitted that it was not
reporting from most of the country by August 2004. He was sacked
months later after, among other things, reports appeared based on the
limited government data suggesting that most violent deaths were
associated with coalition forces.

The consequences of downplaying the number of deaths in Iraq are
profound for both the UK and the US. How can the Americans have a
surge of troops to secure the population and promise success when the
coalition cannot measure the level of security to within a factor of
10? How can the US and Britain pretend they understand the level of
resentment in Iraq if they are not sure if, on average, one in 80
families have lost a household member, or one in seven, as our study

If these two countries have triggered an episode more deadly than the
Rwandan genocide, and have actively worked to mask this fact, how will
they credibly be able to criticise Sudan or Zimbabwe or the next
government that kills thousands of its own people?

For longer than the US has been a nation, Britain has pushed us at our
worst of moments to do the right thing. That time has come again with
regard to Iraq. It is wrong to be the junior partner in an endeavour
rigged to deny the next death induced, and to have spokespeople
effectively respond to that death with disinterest and denial.

Our nations' leaders are collectively expressing belligerence at a
time when the populace knows they should be expressing contrition. If
that cannot be corrected, Britain should end its role in this
deteriorating misadventure. It is unlikely that any historians will
record the occupation of Iraq in a favourable light. Britain followed
the Americans into this débâcle. Wouldn't it be better to let history
record that Britain led them out?

The writer is an Associate Professor at Columbia University's Mailman
School of Public Health FW [wvns] Iraq's Death Toll Far Worse Than Our Leaders Admit

Iraq revives Saddam deal with China

By Jamil Anderlini in Beijing and Steve Negus, Iraq Correspondent

Published: June 22 2007 23:08 | Last updated: June 22 2007 23:08

Baghdad has revived a contract signed by the Saddam Hussein administration allowing a state-owned Chinese oil company to develop an Iraqi oil field, the Iraqi oil minister told the Financial Times in Beijing on Friday.

Hussein al-Shahristani also said Baghdad welcomed Chinese oil company bids for any other contract in the country through a “fair and transparent bidding process” to be laid out in the new oil law under discussion in Iraq’s parliament.

China National Petroleum Corporation, the country’s largest oil company and the parent of listed group Petrochina, signed a deal with Iraq in 1997 to develop the al-Ahdab oil field. The field is one of the first to be offered to foreign investors since the 2003 US-led invasion.

Iraq has been reluctant to revive Saddam-era contracts, but seems to have turned to China as security problems and uncertainties over Iraqi investment law have deterred other investors.

The field had an estimated pre-war capacity of 90,000 barrels a day and the 1997 contract was valued at about $1.2bn (€900m, £600m). “The contract with the previous administration is still valid – it was signed and we will honour it,” Mr al-Shahristani said. “We have been talking since I visited China eight months ago and the Chinese have just submitted a revised proposal to meet the new technical requirements for oil field development laid out by the Iraqi government.”
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007


While debate rages in the United States about the military in Iraq, an
equally important decision is being made inside of Iraq-the future of
Iraq's oil. A new Iraqi law proposes to open the country's currently
nationalized oil system to foreign corporate control. But emblematic
of the flawed promotion of "democracy" by the Bush administration,
this new law is news to most Iraqi politicians.

A leaked copy of the proposed hydrocarbon law appeared on the Internet
last week at the same time that it was introduced to the Iraqi Council
of Ministers. The law is expected to go to the Iraqi Council of
Representatives within weeks. Yet the Internet version was the first
look that most members of Iraq's parliament had of the new law.

Many Iraqi oil experts, like Fouad al-Ameer who was responsible for
the leak, think that this law is not an urgent item on the country's
agenda. Other observers and analysis share al-Ameer's views and
believe the Bush administration, foreign oil companies, and the
International Monetary Fund are rushing the Iraqi government to pass
the law.

Not every aspect of the law is harmful to Iraq. However, the current
language favors the interests of foreign oil corporations over the
economic security and development of Iraq. The law's key negative
components harm Iraq's national sovereignty, financial security,
territorial integrity, and democracy.

National Sovereignty and Financial Security
The new oil law gives foreign corporations access to almost every
sector of Iraq's oil and natural gas industry. This includes service
contracts on existing fields that are already being developed and that
are managed and operated by the Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC). For
fields that have already been discovered, but not yet developed, the
proposed law stipulates that INOC will have to be a partner on these
contracts. But for as-yet-undiscovered fields, neither INOC nor
private Iraqi companies receive preference in new exploration and
development. Foreign companies have full access to these contracts.

The exploration and production contracts give firms exclusive control
of fields for up to 35 years including contracts that guarantee
profits for 25-years. A foreign company, if hired, is not required to
partner with an Iraqi company or reinvest any of its money in the
Iraqi economy. It's not obligated to hire Iraqi workers train Iraqi
workers, or transfer technology.

The current law remains silent on the type of contracts that the Iraqi
government can use. The law establishes a new Iraqi Federal Oil and
Gas Council with ultimate decision-making authority over the types of
contracts that will be employed. This Council will include, among
others, "executive managers of from important related petroleum
companies." Thus, it is possible that foreign oil company executives
could sit on the Council. It would be unprecedented for a sovereign
country to have, for instance, an executive of ExxonMobil on the board
of its key oil and gas decision-making body.

The law also does not appear to restrict foreign corporate executives
from making decisions on their own contracts. Nor does there appear to
be a "quorum" requirement. Thus, if only five members of the Federal
Oil and Gas Council met-one from ExxonMobil, Shell, ChevronTexaco, and
two Iraqis-the foreign company representatives would apparently be
permitted to approve contacts for themselves.

Under the proposed law, the Council has the ultimate power and
authority to approve and re-write any contract using whichever model
it prefers if a "2/3 majority of the members in attendance" agree.
Early drafts of the bill, and the proposed model by the U.S. advocate
very unfair, and unconventional for Iraq, models such as Production
Sharing Agreements (PSAs) which would set long term contracts with
unfair conditions that may lead to the loss of hundreds of billions of
dollars of the Iraqi oil money as profits to foreign companies.

The Council will also decide the fate of the existing exploration and
production contracts already signed with the French, Chinese, and
Russians, among others.

The law does not clarify who ultimately controls production levels.
The contractee-the INOC, foreign, or domestic firms-appears to have
the right to determine levels of production. However, a clause reads,
"In the event that, for national policy considerations, there is a
need to introduce limitations on the national level of Petroleum
Production, such limitations shall be applied in a fair and equitable
manner and on a pro-rata basis for each Contract Area on the basis of
approved Field Development Plans." The clause does not indicate who
makes this decision, what a "fair and equitable manner" means, or how
it is enforced. If foreign companies, rather than the Iraqi
government, ultimately have control over production levels, then
Iraq's relationship to OPEC and other similar organizations would be
deeply threatened.

Democracy and Territorial Integrity
Many Iraqi oil experts are already referring to the draft law as the
"Split Iraq Fund," arguing that it facilitates plans for splitting
Iraq into three ethnic/religious regions. The experts believe the law
undermines the central government and shifts important decision-making
and responsibilities to the regional entities. This shift could serve
as the foundation for establishing three new independent states, which
is the goal of a number of separatist leaders.

The law opens the possibility of the regions taking control of Iraq's
oil, but it also maintains the possibility of the central government
retaining control. In fact, the law was written in a vague manner to
help ensure passage, a ploy reminiscent of the passage of the Iraqi
constitution. There is a significant conflict between the Bush
administration and others in Iraq who would like ultimate authority
for Iraq's oil to rest with the central government and those who would
like to see the nation split in three. Both groups are powerful in
Iraq. Both groups have been mollified, for now, to ensure the law's

But two very different outcomes are possible. If the central
government remains the ultimate decision-making authority in Iraq,
then the Iraq Federal Oil and Gas Council will exercise power over the
regions. And if the regions emerge as the strongest power in Iraq,
then the Council could simply become a silent rubber stamp, enforcing
the will of the regions. The same lack of clarity exists in Iraq's

The daily lives of most people in Iraq are overwhelmed with meeting
basic needs. They are unaware of the details and full nature of the
oil law shortly to be considered in parliament. Their
parliamentarians, in turn, have not been included in the debate over
the law and were unable to even read the draft until it was leaked on
the Internet. Those Iraqis able to make their voices heard on the oil
law want more time. They urge postponing a decision until Iraqis have
their own sovereign state without a foreign occupation.

Passing this oil law while the political future of Iraq is unclear can
only further the existing schisms in the Iraqi government. Forcing its
passage will achieve nothing more than an increase in the levels of
violence, anger, and instability in Iraq and a prolongation of the
U.S. occupation.

This piece was written February 22 for Foreign Policy in Focus. While
it does not take into account unfolding events in Baghdad, the
underlying analysis remains pertinent. UPDATE FOLLOWS

Those So-Called Oil Contracts in Iraq


So-called "oil contracts" have been on the table of the Iraqi Parliament for months, and the fluff of lies printed about them in U..S. media is nauseating.

Every report I have been able to find in the general media has been long on inferences and short on facts. The result is that the average American knows nothing about them, and even those of us who try to follow important policy matters cannot find out more than the simple assertion that there are such things as Production Sharing Agreements, and that their signing is one of the "benchmarks" the US has put up as a requirement for our withdrawal of military forces.

These "contracts" are literally a matter of life and death in Iraq, admitted by Prime Minister Maliki himself to be "the most important law in Iraq." They are proposals for agreements between the Iraqi government such as it is and the world's largest energy corporations which will determine for a decade or more just how much oil can be pumped out of which fields by whom and how the enormous profits will be shared.

Traditionally the revenue from these fields has been controlled by the Iraqi government as a state-owned resource. Present proposals will probably reduce the amount of control the Iraqi state maintains, while the oil companies are likely to benefit from Iraq's present weakness which will force them to sign agreements to their disadvantage. Making agreement on the contracts one of the "benchmarks" for the US military departure from Iraq is a form of arm-twisting pressure, saying, in effect: "If you want us out, sign the proposals!".

The most recent report in the New York Times (7/3/07) says "Maliki's Cabinet Approves Oil Law Draft" and goes on to state that this means the Parliament can now begin to debate the proposed contracts. This is touted as "a major sign of progress" and will work "to boost reconciliation between Iraq's Sunnis and Shiites." Without stating any particulars at all, the article denigrates the disagreements among Iraqi factions as "bickering" and states that negotiations have been "plagued by squabbling." Use of such prejudicial words minimizes the importance of the proposals at the same time it tells nothing about what those proposals are.

Whatever figures are given on how oil resources are to be shared, are practically meaningless because they have no context. We are told that Kurds will be allotted l7 of the net revenues after deducting federal government expenditures." 17 what? How much "net revenue"? How much "federal government expenditures?" And totally excluded from the account what will be the rake-off of the international oil companies?

We are told that the decision in the Cabinet to discuss the proposals was "unanimous." However, of the 37 members, only 24 were present to vote. The Sunni Iraqi Accordance Front and the Shiite Sadrist movement "boycotted" the meeting. Then the article admits that the "key sticking point" is "who should control lucrative untapped fields." Such a statement indicates that decisions regarding control of development would be done by "a yet-to-be-established national oil company," implying (but not clearly stating) that the resources will stay in the hands of the Iraqi government and not be placed in the hands of foreign corporations. One cannot help but wonder who this "yet-to-be-established national oil company" will be, and how easy or difficult it might be to form it and to make it effective in dealing with the powerful oil-hungry foreign energy interests

Rather than pointing out the importance of these agreements to the daily livelihood of the Iraqi people, the article stresses that agreement itself will "help convince the US public and Congress that Iraqi leaders are doing what's needed to halt the violence." This, of course, implies that the continuing violence in Iraq is caused by lack of agreement on oil contracts which is not true. Discussions over the details of the proposed contracts are not the cause of the war's continuing and hence the "need" for US troops to remain. Rather, the US does not want to withdraw till it is assured of control over Iraq's oil.

Under such a cloud of obfuscation and lack of on-going specific information it is easy for reporters to rely on handouts presenting only the US government's point of view. The interests of the Iraqi people simply do not matter. And concerned Americans can't find out enough solid information about what is going on to object.

Yet questions arise: Is it really about the disagreements among Iraqi factions, or disagreements about the amount that foreign companies will be allowed to extract? Is it really "unanimous" when only 2/3 of the members are present to vote? Is it likely that the Kurds, who are 20% of the Iraqi population, will be satisfied with 17 (and is it per cent, or what?) of the oil revenues AFTER deducting federal government expenditures? Judging from our own experience here at home, will "federal government expenditures" have any limit? If so, who will limit them, and how?

Questions, questions and no answers. All the cabinets and parliaments in the world will not make it come out right so long as people of ordinary intelligence are excluded from information about what is really going on behind the scenes.

Jean Gerard lives in Los Osos, California.