October 15, 2003

Some fairness and balance

Just by tuning in any traditional news outlet, you can hear all about what's difficult in Iraq and elsewhere (at least during pauses between the latest sordid Kobe Bryant trial developments).

Here is a quick scan of some positive things in the global war on terror, all from today's AP newswire in The New York Times. It took five minutes to scan -- not too difficult for even the most obdurate news editor to take in.

In Afghanistan:

Afghan soldiers backed by U.S. troops and helicopters have killed seven Taliban and captured 12 others during a raid in southern Afghanistan, a police chief said Wednesday.

The raid was launched on the suspected Taliban hideout Monday, sparking a shootout which ended Tuesday. About 500 Afghan soldiers armed with heavy machine guns, AK-47 assault rifles and rocket launchers participated in the operation.

In Yemen:

Yemeni police have arrested two men and seized nine suitcases full of explosives in the southeastern town of Hadramout, a security official said Wednesday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the arrest took place Saturday after a tip. Both men are under investigation, the official said. One of the men is a contractor and the other owns a dry-cleaning shop. No other details were available.

In Iraq:

Behind a shield of American armor, Iraqis began trading in their old money Wednesday, exchanging dinar notes bearing pictures of Saddam Hussein for new bills the U.S. occupation authorities hope will become the currency of a revived economy.

"He's gone and now his picture is gone, too," said Bank of Baghdad worker Raghad Kandala, 28, as businessmen and other customers lined up to hand in their expiring "Saddam'" banknotes.

Although it was the first day for the new bills, the flow of bank customers seemed nearly normal. Iraqis have until Jan. 15 to make the exchange, and many had already deposited old notes in bank accounts in recent weeks. "So there's no need for a stampede," said Mowafaq H. Mahmood, chief executive officer of the private Bank of Baghdad.

Also in Iraq:

U.S. troops killed or captured a "small number" of fighters along the Iraqi-Syrian border after a U.S. helicopter was attacked from the ground, the U.S. military said Wednesday.

The helicopter received ground fire around midnight Tuesday in Qaim, about 6 miles from Syria's border, forcing it to make an emergency landing, a military spokesman said. U.S. troops on the ground reported the incident and returned fire. They secured a landing site with the aid of armored vehicles.

No coalition injuries were reported but "a small number of opposing forces were killed or captured," the spokesman said.

In Washington, D.C.:

Democrat Dick Gephardt, siding with President Bush on his $87 billion request for Iraq and Afghanistan, pledged Wednesday to finance the war on terrorism even if that posture undercuts his presidential bid or ensures budget deficits for years to come.

about Japan:

President Bush welcomed Japan's pledge for $1.5 billion for reconstruction projects in Iraq, calling it a bold step that will help build a stable, peaceful and democratic nation. Bush said Japan's commitment would provide aid for immediate reconstruction needs there.

In Pakistan:

One of the men killed in Pakistan's largest-ever offensive against al-Qaida appears to have been a high-ranking member of the terror network, a Pakistani official said Wednesday.

Eight al-Qaida suspects were killed and 18 were captured in the Oct. 2 shootout with army troops in South Waziristan, a tribal region along the border with Afghanistan. Two Pakistani soldiers also died.

"There is a probability which I cannot confirm that a man among those killed was one who has a reward on his head," Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said at a news conference in Islamabad. "He was among the top 10 or 15 people in al-Qaida."

About Iraq:

The head of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council said Wednesday his country will "definitely" hold elections next year and that security won't be improved by bringing in more foreign troops.

Ayad Allawi, current holder of the council's rotating presidency, was asked by reporters at a summit of Islamic nations when elections would be held, and he responded: "Definitely 2004."

In Iraq:

American forces in Iraq have captured one of the most senior members of Ansar al-Islam, an extremist group suspected of having ties to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network, U.S. defense officials said Tuesday.

The arrest of Aso Hawleri, also known as Asad Muhammad Hasan, late last week in the northern city of Mosul has not been announced. Larry Di Rita, chief spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, told reporters, "I'm not in a position to confirm" Hawleri's capture.

Hawleri was taken by soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division, said a defense official, who discussed the matter on condition of anonymity.

The capture netted a number of other people besides Hawleri, the official said, adding that there apparently was not a gunfight.

Reports like these aren't the whole story, but they shouldn't be neglected either.

Posted by Alan at October 15, 2003 05:32 PM