McCain Wrong on Iraq Security, Merchants Say
A day after members of an American congressional delegation led by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., pointed to their brief visit to Baghdad's central market as evidence that the new security plan for the city was working, the merchants there were incredulous about the Americans' conclusions.
"What are they talking about?" Ali Jassim Faiyad, the owner of an electrical appliances shop in the market, said Monday. "The security procedures were abnormal!"
The delegation arrived at the market, which is called Shorja, on Sunday with more than 100 soldiers in armored Humvees, and attack helicopters circled overhead, a senior American military official in Baghdad said. The soldiers redirected traffic from the area and restricted access to the Americans, witnesses said, and sharpshooters were posted on the rooftops.
Romney Reaps $20 Million to Top GOP Rivals in First Quarter
Mitt Romney's presidential campaign said Monday that it had raised $20 million during the first quarter, tapping two distant but rich networks — Wall Street and the Mormon church — to easily outpace his better known Republican primary rivals.
Sen. John McCain, the Arizona lawmaker once considered the front-runner, brought in $12.5 million, his campaign said. It was an unexpected shortfall that could hamper his momentum, and his campaign acknowledged disappointment. Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's campaign said it raised about $15 million. Both figures would have set records in previous years, but on Monday, they were dwarfed by the money raised by Romney and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., who brought in $26 million.
Kevin Madden, a spokesman for Romney, said the total was "indicative of the extraordinary success he has had reaching out and discussing important issues with the American people." Madden credited an online system — called "com-Mitt" — that the campaign had set up for volunteer fundraisers to e-mail information and solicitations to their friends and associates.
Rebel Ambush in Darfur Kills Five African Union Peacekeepers
Five African Union peacekeepers were killed in a brazen rebel ambush in Darfur less than a mile from their base along Sudan's border with Chad on Sunday evening, the African Union said on Monday.
It was the deadliest attack on the beleaguered African Union force since it was deployed to monitor a shaky cease-fire agreement in 2004. The motive for the ambush appeared to be theft — the rebels took one of the peacekeepers' trucks, though reinforcements killed three of the attackers, African Union officials said.
At least 15 African Union soldiers have been killed since the peacekeepers were deployed in 2004, and this latest attack will doubtless increase pressure from Rwanda and other major contributors of troops to either strengthen the small, under-equipped force or withdraw.
The African Union force has been waiting for nearly a year to hand its mandate to or fuse its operations with the United Nations, but Sudan has refused to allow any but African Union peacekeepers in Darfur. With just 7,000 troops to cover an area the size of France, little equipment, and a very limited mandate, the African Union force has been derided as ineffective at protecting civilians.