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Apr 21st, 2009

U.S. Senate Confirms Christoper Hill as Iraq Envoy

Critics say he lacks Middle East experience

Image: Christopher Hill, President Barack Obama's nominee to be the next ambassador to Iraq.
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Hill (Photo credit: Evan Vucci / AP)

April 21, 2009

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed President Barack Obama’s pick to be U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Christoper Hill, after debate over whether he mismanaged international disarmament talks with North Korea.

Hill, a veteran diplomat, won confirmation in a 73-23 vote.

Obama’s Democratic colleagues complained Republicans had used Senate rules to stall the vote for weeks when Hill should have been rushed to Baghdad to help manage the president’s troop drawdown. …

Hill’s critics said he lacked Middle East experience and mishandled multilateral talks with North Korea aimed at scrapping its nuclear program as the Bush administration drew to a close.

Republican Senator Sam Brownback questioned how those talks could be called successful since Pyongyang announced this month it would quit them and restart a plant that makes weapons-grade plutonium. He also charged that Hill had turned a blind eye to human rights issues during the talks. …

Republican Senator John McCain rapped Hill’s lack of Middle East experience, saying that “our next ambassador must hit the ground running” in Iraq and Hill was not ready.

Hill’s defenders said he had proven in the North Korea talks and in the 1995 Dayton Peace negotiations that ended the Bosnian war that he had skills for the Iraq post. …

Brownback also proposed legislation to return North Korea to the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Washington took Pyongyang off the list last October as a reward for steps North Korea had taken during the talks on denuclearization.

Hill, who has been serving as assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, is also a former ambassador to Poland, Macedonia and South Korea. He pledged to go to Baghdad within a day of his confirmation.



New U.S. ambassador arrives in Baghdad (AP, April 24, 2009) – The new U.S. ambassador to Iraq has arrived in Baghdad to take up his post. Christopher Hill formally presented his credentials Friday to Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. …



Security Developments in Iraq

Following are security developments in Iraq on Monday, April 20, 2009, as reported by Reuters.

BAQUBA – A suicide bomber dressed in a police uniform killed four policemen, wounding seven civilians and eight U.S. soldiers near the local government headquarters in Baquba, 40 miles northeast of Baghdad, police and U.S. military said.

BAGHDAD – Gunmen killed a man working as a driver for the Planning Ministry in the Ghadir district of eastern Baghdad, officials said.

MUSSAYAB – Police said they pulled the body of a man who had been shot in the head and chest from a waterway in Mussayab, 40 miles south of Baghdad, police said.

Following are security developments in Iraq on Sunday, April 19, 2009, as reported by Reuters.

BAGHDAD – Unknown gunmen killed an off-duty lieutenant-colonel in his car in west Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol wounded five people including two policemen in the Zaafaraniya district of southeast Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD – A mortar round wounded two civilians when it hit a power generator in the Zayouna district of east Baghdad.

MOSUL – Gunmen attacked a police checkpoint killing two policemen and wounding another in the city of Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL – Gunmen attacked an Iraqi army checkpoint in western Mosul, killing one soldier, police said.

BAGHDAD – Unknown gunmen killed seven people using silencers at a gold shop in Baghdad’s Tobchi district, the city’s security spokesman said.

MOSUL – A parked car bomb targeting a U.S. patrol wounded seven people in the east of the city of Mosul, police said.

HILLA – Police found the bodies of two Sunni Arab militiamen with bullet wounds to the head and chest in Hilla, 60 miles south of Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb wounded four people in the Doura district of southern Baghdad late on Saturday, police said.

BAGHDAD – A bomb wounded two people in the Ghazaliya district of western Baghdad late on Saturday, police said.


U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq

As of Monday, April 20, 2009, at least 4,274 members of the U.S. military had died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

Since the start of U.S. military operations in Iraq, 31,215 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department’s weekly tally.

Latest identifications:

Army Cpl. Michael J. Anaya, 23, Crestview, Fla., died April 12, 2009 in Bayji, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

Army Sgt. Raul Moncada, 29, Madera, Calif., died April 13, 2009 near Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds sustained when an explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 563rd Military Police Company, 91st Military Police Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y.

Marine Lance Cpl. Ray A. Spencer II, 20, Ridgecrest, Calif., died April 16, 2009 after a non-combat incident [reportedly a gunshot wound to the chest] in Anbar province. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.


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Shells Hit Baghdad’s Protected Green Zone

April 18, 2009

BAGHDAD — Suspected militants shelled Baghdad’s protected Green Zone on Saturday in the first such bombardment in more than three months.

The back-to-back strikes reverberated across the Tigris River to a popular promenade, sending families packing up from fish restaurants and abruptly halting a party at a club.

Violence across Iraq remains sharply down compared with past years, but attacks and bloodshed have edged up in recent weeks and brought worries that it could slow the return of nightlife and commerce to parts of Baghdad.

The U.S. military said the Green Zone was hit by two “indirect fire” rounds – which typically means either rockets or mortars – but there were no casualties or damage reported.

A police official says the rounds were fired from predominantly Shiite eastern Baghdad. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media.

The attack came during a light sandstorm, which prevents helicopter patrols and gives militants cover.

The Green Zone was last targeted by rockets or mortars on Jan. 15, leaving one person injured. The attacks are usually blamed on Shiite militias. The area contains the U.S. and British embassies and key Iraqi government offices.

West of Baghdad, Iraqi forces launched raids into an industrial zone in Fallujah where authorities fear Sunni insurgents could be seeking to regain footholds in areas they once controlled. …

There are worrying signs of violence returning.

On Thursday, a suicide bomber struck an Iraqi military base in Habbaniyah near Fallujah. The blast injured at least 38 Iraqi soldiers – and was the fourth major attack against Iraqi security forces this month. …

Gunmen in Baghdad, meanwhile, killed a police intelligence official working for the Interior Ministry, said police and hospital officials.

The drive-by shooting occurred as Col. Haider Hadi Fadhil stopped his car at the gate of his house in a Shiite neighborhood in eastern Baghdad. …

3 Responses to “Hill Confirmed as Iraq Envoy”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Al-Qaida in Iraq Decapitated Says:

    […] Hill Confirmed as Iraq Envoy […]

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    […] Christopher Hill Confirmed as Iraq Envoy […]

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    […] Shells Hit Baghdad’s Protected Green Zone (April 21, 2009) […]

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