In the war: Marine commander in Anbar voices regrets
January 8, 2009

The top American commander in the former insurgent stronghold of Anbar said yesterday the Shia-led government should have poured reconstruction money into the region after Sunni fighters joined forces with U.S. troops to chase al-Qaida out of the western province. Marine Maj. Gen. John F. Kelly told The Associated Press that his greatest "mission failure" was his inability to bring together the government in Baghdad and the Sunnis in Anbar to take advantage of the decline in violence. Kelly is to hand over command of 23,000 Marines next month to Maj. Gen. Richard T. Tyron. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of all forces in Iraq, has said no decision has been made to withdraw from Iraq, despite comments from the Marine commandant that there was a greater role for them in Afghanistan. Said Kelly, "I could frankly care less about Afghanistan. I've got all the war I need here."

A federal judge sought to compare four terror suspects being held at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan with others detained at Guantánamo Bay to decide whether all have the right to sue for their freedom. "These individuals are no different ... except where they're housed," U.S. District Judge John D. Bates said during a hearing in Washington. The issue ultimately may be moot if the Obama administration reverses current policy so that Afghanistan detainees can protest their capture in court. With about 600 detainees at Bagram and thousands more held in Iraq, courts are grappling with whether they, too, can sue to be released.

Iraq's ruling Shia Muslim parties used the sacred holiday of Ashura yesterday to make a pitch to voters, who will go to the polls Jan. 31 to elect authorities in the 14 of the country's 18 provinces. On the blast walls lining the main pilgrimage routes from Baghdad to the southern city of Karbala, religious banners commemorating the massacre of Hussein, the murdered grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, competed with posters on which the main Shia parties advertised their piety.