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[casi-analysis] casi-news digest, Vol 1 #86 - 2 msgs

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Today's Topics:

   1. U.S. Presses U.N. on Role in Iraq for Politicians (NYT) (Daniel O'Huiginn)
   2. Riverbend / Just Go... (Hassan)


Message: 1
Date: Sat, 8 May 2004 20:58:08 +0100 (BST)
From: Daniel O'Huiginn <>
Subject: U.S. Presses U.N. on Role in Iraq for Politicians (NYT)

An extremely informative piece by the always-excellent NYT journalist
Steven Weisman

May 9, 2004
U.S. Presses U.N. on Role in Iraq for Politicians

WASHINGTON, May 8  The Bush administration is pressing the United Nations
envoy to change his proposal for a transitional Iraqi government once
self-rule is returned on June 30, Iraqi and administration officials say.

Instead of a government that is nonpolitical, the administration is
pushing for one that gives prominent roles to people with ties to
political parties, the officials say.

The officials said the new thinking in Washington reflected doubts that a
transitional government of technocrats would be strong enough.

Leading Kurdish and Shiite political figures, many of them members of the
American-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, have pressed for the change,
administration officials said. These figures are clamoring to hold on to
power after the council is dissolved on June 30.

In particular, the administration is said to be wedded to a large role for
Adnan Pachachi, the former foreign minister who has guided the process of
writing Iraq's transitional constitution, and to figures tied to political
groups loyal to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the Shiite cleric.

"The government is going to have to have both technocrats and people of
political stature," said a senior administration official. "It's important
to have both sides in the government."

In Iraq on Saturday, insurgents backing a rebel Shiite cleric took the
offensive after several days of attacks by American troops by trying to
seize government buildings and striking at convoys in two big cities in
the south. The move signaled the opening of a possible new front in the
American campaign to crush the cleric, Moktada al-Sadr, and his followers.
[Page 12.]

Only two weeks ago, the administration embraced the proposal of Lakhdar
Brahimi, the United Nations envoy to Iraq, that the government consist of
technocrats, though a top official cautioned then that some political
presence could not be ruled out. Now the administration is insisting on
such a presence, officials say.

The administration agrees with Mr. Brahimi that whoever joins the
government should not make long-term commitments or reach any decisions
that might benefit the parties they represent.

"The structure should allow political balance at the top," said one
official, along with "competence and efficiency as the quality for the
ministers who run things day to day."

This official said: "People generally think that anyone in the new
government should not run for office later on."

American, European and United Nations officials say the establishment of a
new government has become extremely difficult because of the mistreatment
of some Iraqi prisoners and the continuing American military actions in
Falluja, Najaf, Karbala and elsewhere.

"We're at a point where the more it looks like the new Iraqi government is
led or directed by the United States, the less legitimate it will look,"
said a prominent European diplomat. "But if we give too much
responsibility to the United Nations, the knives will be out for them,

The makeup of the new government is to be decided in the next week or two
by Mr. Brahimi, in consultation with L. Paul Bremer III, the American
administrator in Iraq, and Robert D. Blackwill, a White House adviser
serving as a special envoy of President Bush in Baghdad.

It was Mr. Brahimi, however, who first sketched out the idea that the new
government would be as nonpolitical as possible. Several officials say
that one possible candidate for prime minister he has put forward is Dr.
Mahdi al-Hafidh, the current planning minister.

Dr. Hafidh is said still to be a possibility for that job, but other
candidates are being put forward by Kurdish and Shiite leaders, with
particular interest focused on another minister who is a prominent Shiite
Islamist, Adel Abdul Mehdi.

Mr. Mehdi is described by some Iraqi officials as unacceptable to Sunni
leaders, who are said to fear that he might try to impose Islamic law over
family matters.

Iraqi officials who have been in close contact with Washington say the
parties that will have to be represented in the caretaker government
include the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which has
close ties to Iran, and Dawa, another influential Shiite group. The
Communist Party is also likely to be represented, they said.

It was not clear, however, whether Ahmad Chalabi, a Pentagon favorite who
has accused Mr. Brahimi of trying to marginalize him and other former
exiles, would be included in the government. Despite his mostly favorable
standing at the Pentagon, administration officials say, the State
Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, military commanders and Mr.
Bremer all oppose a role for Mr. Chalabi in the government.

"The Shia and Chalabi have been running quite a campaign against Brahimi,
and against any idea that the Iraqi Governing Council will be eclipsed," a
Western diplomat said. "I don't think it will be eclipsed." As the
diplomat put it, Mr. Brahimi had not yet figured out how to accommodate
Shiite interests close to Ayatollah Sistani, which is considered essential
to maintaining legitimacy, without angering restive Sunni.

The latest timetable for setting up a government is for Mr. Brahimi to
pick the leaders by the end of this month and have them in place in early
June, so they can begin to negotiate with the American occupation
officials and others about several matters to take effect on June 30,
including the exact role the Iraq government will play in its security.

The United Nations Security Council is expected to define that role, but
disagreements have already emerged, with France and Germany suggesting
that the Iraq government have at least some control over its own armed
forces, and the United States suggesting that the Iraqis serve under
American command.

The American plan is for the Security Council to declare that all forces
in Iraq are part of a United Nations-mandated multinational security force
under United States command. But it is not clear that Russia and other
Security Council members will be ready to go that far, many diplomats say.

There are also questions about whether the United Nations, rather than the
United States, will have the larger role in advising the new government on
where to spend reconstruction money, and about such difficult matters as
whether American military forces are to remain shielded from prosecution
by Iraqi courts, and whether there should be an international role in
running Iraqi prisons.

Diplomats say it will be very important to hear from Iraqi leaders
themselves as the United Nations confronts a new Security Council
resolution  another reason why jockeying is under way over whether the
Iraqi government is political or technocratic in nature.

The government structure proposed by Mr. Brahimi, widely accepted by the
United Sates and other countries, calls for a prime minister to serve as
the main power, and a president and two vice presidents in ceremonial or
advisory capacities, representing each of the three main groups  Shiites,
Sunnis and Kurds.

Mr. Brahimi has also pressed for a national conference of Iraqis after
June 30, with 1,500 people choosing a smaller "consultative council" to
serve as a kind of legislature  though with no legislative power  advising
the government and ministers.

But Iraqi officials say that this idea is being resisted in many parts of
Iraq, and that the Iraqi Governing Council, which Mr. Brahimi wants to
dissolve, is still jockeying to stay on and serve as a legislative body
after June 30.


Message: 2
Date: Sun, 9 May 2004 05:24:02 -0700 (PDT)
From: Hassan <>
Subject: Riverbend / Just Go...
To: CASI newsclippings <>,
  IAC discussion <>

[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ]

We=92ll take our chances- just take your Puppets, your tanks, your smart we=
apons, your dumb politicians, your lies, your empty promises, your rapists,=
 your sadistic torturers and go.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Just Go...

People are seething with anger- the pictures of Abu Ghraib and the Brits in=
 Basrah are everywhere. Every newspaper you pick up in Baghdad has pictures=
 of some American or British atrocity or another. It's like a nightmare tha=
t has come to life.

Everyone knew this was happening in Abu Ghraib and other places=85 seeing t=
he pictures simply made it all more real and tangible somehow. American and=
 British politicians have the audacity to come on television with words lik=
e, "True the people in Abu Ghraib are criminals, but=85" Everyone here in I=
raq knows that there are thousands of innocent people detained. Some were s=
imply in the wrong place at the wrong time, while others were detained 'und=
er suspicion'. In the New Iraq, it's "guilty until proven innocent by some =
miracle of God".

People are so angry. There=92s no way to explain the reactions- even pro-oc=
cupation Iraqis find themselves silenced by this latest horror. I can=92t e=
xplain how people feel- or even how I personally feel. Somehow, pictures of=
 dead Iraqis are easier to bear than this grotesque show of American milita=
ry technique. People would rather be dead than sexually abused and degraded=
 by the animals running Abu Ghraib prison.

There was a time when people here felt sorry for the troops. No matter what=
 one's attitude was towards the occupation, there were moments of pity towa=
rds the troops, regardless of their nationality. We would see them sufferin=
g the Iraqi sun, obviously wishing they were somewhere else and somehow, th=
at vulnerability made them seem less monstrous and more human. That time ha=
s passed. People look at troops now and see the pictures of Abu Ghraib=85 a=
nd we burn with shame and anger and frustration at not being able to do som=
ething. Now that the world knows that the torture has been going on since t=
he very beginning, do people finally understand what happened in Falloojeh?

I'm avoiding the internet because it feels like the pictures are somehow av=
ailable on every site I visit. I'm torn between wishing they weren't there =
and feeling, somehow, that it's important that the whole world sees them. T=
he thing, I guess, that bothers me most is that the children can see it all=
. How do you explain the face of the American soldier, leering over the fac=
eless, naked bodies to a child? How do you explain the sick, twisted minds?=
 How do you explain what is happening to a seven-year-old?

There have been demonstrations in Baghdad and other places. There was a lar=
ge demonstration outside of the Abu Ghraib prison itself. The families of s=
ome of the inmates of the prison were out there protesting the detentions a=
nd the atrocities=85 faces streaked with tears of rage and brows furrowed w=
ith anxiety. Each and every one of those people was wondering what their lo=
ved ones had suffered inside the walls of the hell that makes Guantanamo lo=
ok like a health spa.

And through all this, Bush gives his repulsive speeches. He makes an appear=
ance on Arabic tv channels looking sheepish and attempting to look sincere,=
 babbling on about how this 'incident' wasn't representative of the America=
n people or even the army, regardless of the fact that it's been going on f=
or so long. He asks Iraqis to not let these pictures reflect on their attit=
ude towards the American people=85 and yet when the bodies were dragged thr=
ough the streets of Falloojeh, the American troops took it upon themselves =
to punish the whole city.

He's claiming it's a "stain on our country's honor" (http://www.washingtonp= think not . The stain on y=
our country's honor, Bush dear, was the one on the infamous blue dress that=
 made headlines while Clinton was in the White House... this isn't a 'stain=
' this is a catastrophe. Your credibility was gone the moment you stepped i=
nto Iraq and couldn't find the WMD... your reputation never existed.

So are the atrocities being committed in Abu Ghraib really not characterist=
ic of the American army? What about the atrocities committed by Americans i=
n Guantanamo? And Afghanistan? I won't bother bringing up the sordid past, =
let's just focus on the present. It seems that torture and humiliation are =
common techniques used in countries blessed with the American presence. The=
 most pathetic excuse I heard so far was that the American troops weren't t=
aught the fundamentals of human rights mentioned in the Geneva Convention=
=85 Right- morals, values and compassion have to be taught.

All I can think about is the universal outrage when the former government s=
howed pictures of American POWs on television, looking frightened and unsur=
e about their fate. I remember the outcries from American citizens, claimin=
g that Iraqis were animals for showing 'America's finest' fully clothed and=
 unharmed. So what does this make Americans now?

We heard about it all=85 we heard stories since the very beginning of the o=
ccupation about prisoners being made to sit for several hours on their knee=
s=85 being deprived of sleep for days at a time by being splashed with cold=
 water or kicked or slapped=85 about the infamous 'red rooms' where prisone=
rs are kept for prolonged periods of time=85 about the rape, the degradatio=
ns, the emotional and physical torture=85 and there were moments when I act=
ually wanted to believe that what we heard was exaggerated. I realize now t=
hat it was only a small fragment of the truth. There is nothing that is goi=
ng to make this 'better'. Nothing.

Through all of this, where is the Governing Council? Under what rock are th=
e Puppets hiding? Why is no one condemning this? What does Bremer have to s=
ay for himself and for the Americans? Why this unbearable silence?

I don't understand the 'shock' Americans claim to feel at the lurid picture=
s. You've seen the troops break down doors and terrify women and children=
=85 curse, scream, push, pull and throw people to the ground with a boot ov=
er their head. You've seen troops shoot civilians in cold blood. You've see=
n them bomb cities and towns. You've seen them burn cars and humans using t=
anks and helicopters. Is this latest debacle so very shocking or appalling?

The number of killings in the south has also risen. The Americans and Briti=
sh are saying that they are 'insurgents' and people who are a part of Al-Sa=
dir's militia, but people from Najaf are claiming that innocent civilians a=
re being killed on a daily basis. Today the troops entered Najaf and there =
was fighting in the streets. This is going to cause a commotion because Naj=
af is considered a holy city and is especially valuable to Shi'a all over t=
he world. The current situation in the south makes one wonder who, now, is =
going to implement a no-fly zone over areas like Falloojeh and Najaf to 'pr=
otect' the people this time around?

I sometimes get emails asking me to propose solutions or make suggestions. =
Fine. Today's lesson: don't rape, don't torture, don't kill and get out whi=
le you can- while it still looks like you have a choice... Chaos? Civil war=
? Bloodshed? We=92ll take our chances- just take your Puppets, your tanks, =
your smart weapons, your dumb politicians, your lies, your empty promises, =
your rapists, your sadistic torturers and go.

javascript:SquawkBoxCount(108392335918002921) -->- posted by river @ 1:49 P=

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