[Update 2006-08-07 10:45AM by Oui]

Lebanon Prime Minister Wins Arab Backing

BEIRUT, Lebanon (ABC/AP) Aug. 7 — Israeli warplanes intensified airstrikes and launched a new commando raid in south Lebanon, killing at least 23 people in one of the heaviest tolls in days. Lebanon’s prime minister won strong support from Arab states to plead his case at the United Nations for a full Israeli withdrawal.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora choked back tears as he told a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Beirut that 40 people were killed by an Israeli airstrike on the southern border village of Houla, but he later said only one person was killed.

Saniora got strong backing from the foreign ministers, who warned the U.N. Security Council against adopting resolutions that don’t serve Lebanon’s interests. They decided to send a high-level delegation to New York to press Lebanon’s case.

Syrian actor Jamal Suleiman, who has recently quit his post as a UN goodwill ambassador in protest at the UN's failure to endorse a cease-fire in Lebanon, participates in a sit-in outside the EU commissionary in Damascus to protest Israel's continuing military assault on Lebanon. Banner reads: 'The new Middle East.' AP Photo/Bassem Tellawi

President Bush said he anticipates that Hezbollah and Israel won’t agree with all aspects of a Mideast cease-fire resolution but said “we all recognize that the violence must stop.”

Noam Chomsky on Israel, Lebanon and Palestine

Bomber kills 15 in Tikrit

At least 15 people have been killed after a bomber blew himself up in the midst of mourners in Tikrit, the hometown of former president Saddam Hussein. At least 30 others were wounded in the attack, police said.

Attacks continue unabated across Iraq

The attack came as US reinforcements rolled into some of the most violent districts of Baghdad to quell the raging sectarian strife that has left hundreds dead in the Iraqi capital despite a massive security crackdown.

Deadly attacks hit northern Iraq

At least 14 people have been killed in a spate of attacks and fighting in northern Iraq, police say. Ten people, including three policemen, were killed when a suicide bomber drove a truck with explosives on to a sports field in Hadhar, Nineveh province.

Friday's violence hit a number of northern Iraqi towns and cities

In Mosul, some 90km (55 miles) north of Hadhar, four policemen died as a fresh eruption of violence hit the city.

Private pessimism on Iraq grows

In a confidential memo, the outgoing UK ambassador in Iraq, William Patey, has warned that civil war is a more likely outcome in Iraq than democracy. The BBC’s defence correspondent Paul Wood assesses the ambassador’s remarks and the current situation in Baghdad.

Waiting for an American military helicopter, I got chatting to the man next to me. His business card said he was an adviser on “strategic message” for the coalition.

“Casey won’t get out in front and sell this war,” he told me, “because he doesn’t want to go down in history as another Westmoreland.”

NYT – Baghdad’s Chaos Undercuts Tack Pursued by U.S.

In mid-June 2005, Americans conducted an average of 360 patrols a day, according to statistics released by the military. By the middle of February this year, the patrols ran about 92 a day — a drop of more than 70 percent. The first Iraqi brigade took over a small piece of Baghdad early last year. Now, Iraqi soldiers or police officers take the leading role in securing more than 70 percent of the city, including its most violent neighborhoods. They control all of Baghdad’s 6,000 checkpoints.

In Washington, senior American military commanders pointedly warned that Iraq was heading toward civil war.

Even after the attack on the Askariya shrine in Samarra on Feb. 22 unleashed a wave of sectarian violence, the American patrols remained at a level lower than in the past. At the end of July, Americans were patrolling Baghdad 89 times a day — a quarter of their patrols in mid-June last year.

Thirteen months ago, Baghdad had about 19 daily violent events, like killings. Today, the daily average is 25 — an increase of more than 30 percent. Many of these attacks cause more than one death; some cause many more, like the rampage by Shiite gunmen in western Baghdad last month that left as many as 40 people dead.

To stop the slide, the United States has decided to double the number of American troops in the city, to about 14,200 from about 7,200.

Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the spokesman for the American military in Iraq —

    “If we were willing to accept the high levels of casualties that occur in the city each month, then the Iraqi security forces could have continued handling the situation. We can handle it at the levels we have. But if we want to reduce the violence, then we bring more forces into the city.”

Anthony H. Cordesman, a military analyst at the CSIS: “I believe it was designed to stop a civil war.”

Info cross-posted from Brenda Stewart’s diary —
Legendary columnist Jimmy Breslin comes out of retirement to pen scathing piece on Iraq

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."

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