British forces seize and destroy Basra ‘renegade’ police station

BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) Christmas day 2006 – British and Iraqi forces seized one of the main police stations in Iraq’s southern city of Basra because they said the Major Crimes Unit had become a “criminal enterprise.” The police station was in the news last year for capturing two British men, who later found to be SAS Special Forces and were freed by British troops in a military action costing many civilian lives.

British military spokesman Captain Tane Dunlop said the troops carried out medical assessments of detainees at the building before transferring them to another police station.

“About an hour and a half later, we (then) used explosives to put the building beyond use so it can no longer be used by the criminal enterprise,” he said.

Iraqis walk past the rubble of the headquarters of an Iraqi police unit destroyed early morning 25 December 2006 by British forces in the southern port city of Basra. (AFP/Essam Al-Sudani)  

U.S. arrest two Iranian envoys invited to Iraq by President Talabani

BAGHDAD (AFP) – US forces have detained two Iranians who were invited to Iraq by President Jalal Talabani as part of an agreement to build better security links between the countries, according to an Iraqi spokesman. “The invitation was within the framework of an agreement between Iran and Iraq to improve the security situation,” he added.

President Talabani is reported to be unhappy with the arrests of two Iranians who were invited to Iraq by him as part of an agreement to build better security links between the countries.

Talabani’s confirmation of the arrests came after the New York Times, citing senior US officials, reported that a total of four Iranians were arrested by US forces in Iraq last week on suspicion of planning attacks on Iraqi troops.

Iraq’s national security adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie refused to comment on the arrests, which the Times reported had put strain on the relationship between the Iraqi government and its American allies.

Washington’s Iraq Dilemma: Why Engaging Iran Is a Good Idea

None of this argues against direct dialogue and a willingness to explore trade-offs with Iranian decision-makers. However, Iran is no more likely to cooperate than the Bush administration did in 2002-2003 when Iran reached out to it. Ideological American leaders tragically and arrogantly overestimated their power then; Iran’s deluded bellicose leaders appear likely to do the same now.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
welcomes long-estranged Iraq President
Jalal Talabani in Tehran

Pentagon Plans Military Build Up in Gulf to “Warn Iran”

Real politik – Iraq reality sinks in

AMMAN, Jordan (CS Monitor) Dec. 22 – Over the past week, power brokers in Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq have engaged in talks to resolve conflicts.

A good example is Israel. Watching the unfolding tragedy in Iraq and with its own war this summer against the Shiite militants of Hizbullah in mind, it’s reaching out to the Jordanians, the Saudis, and the Lebanese to find solutions to its own security problems.

“In the late 1990s, Israel’s worldview was that ‘we are the military superpower in the region and we are very closely allied with the world’s only superpower. So we have very little to worry about,’ ” says Gidi Grinstein, a former peace negotiator for the Israeli government and now president of the Reut Institute, a Tel Aviv think tank.

Now, he says, “you have America in a situation of very serious overstretch, unable to get a decisive victory across the region … we have to look for new partners, alliances, and means of cooperation.”

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