|All those former Soviet nations that have a recent histories with totalitarian regimes and the newfound freedoms of democracy, are providing critical support in the GWOT.|
Since the end of the Cold War, many former foes are now allies, coalition officials said. Now some of these former Soviet Bloc nations are globally united and aligned with organizations like CENTCOM's coalition, NATO and the European Union. And as part of the coalition, these fledgling democracies are helping nations like Iraq and Afghanistan rebuild with a democratic foundation, even as they themselves continue to build their nations with democratic rule.
Former Soviet Bloc and other formerly communist nations now supporting coalition operations are: Russia, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, East Germany (now part of Germany), Hungary, Poland, Ukraine, Moldova, Tajikistan, Slovenia, Slovakia, Macedonia, Lithuania, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Estonia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.
"We're supporting the reconstruction of these countries," Romanian navy Capt. Sorin Nicolaescu said. "All these guys in theater are there voluntarily. They are there because they wanted to go."
[...] Currently, Romania has approximately 1,400 military personnel deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. In southern Iraq, Romanians are patrolling and securing routes used by the coalition. "They're doing force protection, engineering missions, training Iraqi forces -- the full range of missions," Nicolaescu said. Romanians are also protecting Iraqi infrastructure and providing medical care for insurgent detainees in theater, he said.
Other nations new to democracy are committing troops to the cause of democracy in CENTCOM's area of responsibility. Azerbaijan is an emerging democracy and also a member of the coalition. The country is a member of the Council of Europe and also participates in NATO's Partnership for Peace program, a project created in 1994 to build trust between NATO and European states and the former Soviet Union. Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, all former members of the Partnership for Peace, have sinced joined NATO.
I think Americans have gotten lazy and forgtten what a blessing it is to live in a free society. Example: Cindy Sheehan continues to try to extend here 15 minutes by calling Bush a terrorist while visiting newly elected communist Chavez and is reportedly considering running for US Senate in California against Sen. Feinstein. Honestly, that could work ought well for Republicans, as those two battle for the title of "Leftist Queen." Sheehan's Bush is a terrorist comment echoes the Zawahiri's latest comment; remind me who's side is she on again?
In some other good news, infighting amongst the terrorists in Iraq seems to be dividing their ranks and distracting them from attacking coalition forces.
"Now you actually have a wedge, or a split, between the Sunni population and al-Qaeda in Iraq," said Maj. Gen. Richard Zahner, deputy chief of staff for intelligence for multinational forces in Iraq. "It poses a significant crossroads for these groups as they look at where they head."
The U.S. military cited incidents of insurgent infighting in a rare public description of a split:
• At least six ranking members of al-Qaeda in Iraq have been assassinated by Sunni insurgents or tribal gunmen in separate incidents since September, Zahner said. The killings are usually in retaliation for al-Qaeda's role in violence, such as the execution of local police officers, he said.
And on the lighter side, capitalism continues to take hold in the region as Iraqis hit the gym.
When Mohammed Jassem, 21, decided to start bodybuilding a year ago, he chose the Arnold Classic Gym.
"Arnold is my hero," he says. The gym, of course, is named after California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Gyms, like other businesses, were tightly regulated under Saddam Hussein's regime, but the weightlifting union lost control after the U.S.-led invasion. Now entrepreneurs don't need permission before opening a gym. Dozens of gyms have opened around Baghdad over the past couple of years, capitalizing on the new freedoms and demand.
Under Saddam, modern gyms were mostly available only to elite athletes or the ranking members of the regime. Now ordinary Iraqis are rushing out to get in shape. Saif Ayman, 26, opened Mr. Olympia Gym after the U.S.-led invasion. "The demand for this sport increased after the war," he says. "I decided to open the gym because it's a good way to make money very fast."
It's the Iraqi dream. Get fit, make some money, maybe be the next Mr. Universe. The world is quickly becoming their oyster.
And Saddam's got a new judge and colleagues say he won't take any crap.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Raouf Rasheed Abdel-Rahman is a career judge known for efficiency and strict adherence to the law, a native of the Kurdish town where 5,000 died in a gas attack allegedly ordered by Saddam Hussein.
Colleagues call him sober, straight-talking and tough.
"He is a serious and honest person," said Omar Abdel-Rahman, a lawyer who worked with the judge in the 1970s. "He is a man of principles, but sometimes he gets angry quickly."
Hopefully he can minimize Saddam's shenanigans in court and get the Iraqis some closure by getting to the sentencing and execution phase quickly.
UPDATE: Cindy Sheehan, as alluded to above, is allegedly contemplating running for Senate to replace Sen. Feinstein which has inspired her supporters to start a blog in an effort to convince her to go for it. Go support Cindy, the best thing to happen to California Republicans since sliced bread. (via Llama Butchers)