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[casi-analysis] casi-news digest, Vol 1 #142 - 3 msgs

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Today's Topics:

   1. Saddam's TV appearance brings popularity surge (Alison Gundle)
   2. NYT: raising the pressure in Iraq (Daniel O'Huiginn)
   3. [Peace&Justice] Lebanon No Model For Iraq (IRC Communications)


Message: 1
Subject: Saddam's TV appearance brings popularity surge
Date: Tue, 14 Sep 2004 15:05:52 +0100
From: "Alison Gundle" <>
To: <>

Saddam's TV Appearance Brings Popularity Surge
Source: Institute for War & Peace Reporting:
Support for the former dictator appears to strengthen after his self-confid=
ent debut in court.
By Dhiya Rasan in Baghdad (ICR No. 72, 06-Jul-04)
Safaa Mansour, a host for Radio Dijla in Baghdad, was astonished by an impr=
omptu poll in which 125 out of the 200 listeners who called in said they we=
re against the trial of former president Saddam Hussein.
"Some callers burst into tears.... One woman said she was ready to sacrific=
e her son for Saddam," Safaa, host of a popular new radio programme, told I=
WPR. "The callers called into doubt the legality of the court and the inter=
im government. Some said Saddam was the legitimate president, despite the [=
human rights] violations which happened under him."
In his July 1 court appearance before an Iraqi judge, Saddam rejected the l=
egitimacy of the trial proceedings, refused to sign a list of accusations a=
gainst him, demanded to be referred to as president of Iraq, and insisted o=
n having a lawyer.
Safaa said Saddam won over his radio audience with his old familiar style o=
f speaking - seen as chatty and confident - as well as a few well-delivered=
 lines, particularly his defence of the invasion of Kuwait.
At the time of that invasion in 1990, Saddam accused Kuwait of adopting oil=
 policies that impoverished Iraq, which had recently fought off Iran and th=
us, Baghdad claimed, foiled an attempt to overrun the Gulf.
But Saddam had a different justification during his recent court appearance=
, and he struck a chord with recent opinions expressed in the capital.
"Kuwaitis were turning Iraqi women into 10-dinar whores," Saddam said. "Sho=
uld Iraqis take that? I did that for the Iraqi people. How can you defend t=
hese dogs?"
Some Baghdadis agreed with this sentiment, claiming that before the invasio=
n, upmarket areas of the capital were swamped with Kuwaiti men arriving for=
 short-term marriages to poor young Iraqi women, only to divorce them at th=
e end of their vacation.
Muhammed al Barrak, a writer for the al-Bayan newspaper, said Saddam's "cou=
rageous speech" and self-confidence dispelled the negative impression forme=
d last December by televised images of the bedraggled former president pluc=
ked from his hiding place without a fight.
"Saddam's [court] appearance, with his charm and his decisive statements, m=
ade many Iraqis forget the image of him the day he was captured," said Muha=
mmed. "I felt as though he were in power again, because of his [public] sup=
port and the rejection of his trial."
Indeed, Muhammed could not find any Baghdadi who was in favour of the trial=
, and he had to travel to the southern Shia city of Karbala to find anyone =
who supported the proceedings.
Even some Shias found the televised Saddam compelling.
"Despite his crimes, he's still likeable. No one could govern the country l=
ike him," said Nihad Kadhem, a Shia who works in the media. "If he ever had=
 a chance to talk to the public, he could talk his way back into power agai=
The demand for recordings of the trial underscores the apparent popularity =
of the former president.
According to salesmen of video and compact discs, Saddam's brief first cour=
t appearance has already become a bestseller.
Hareth Maseer, who sells videos in Baghdad's Bab al-Sharji market, made hun=
dreds of copies of the trial, the footage mixed with archive film of the 19=
90-91 Gulf War.
On the day after Saddam's first court session, Hareth sold 500 copies and m=
ade a profit of 200,000 dinars, or 150 US dollars.
As a result, said Hareth, he was looking forward to further court appearanc=
es by the former dictator.
Dhiya Rasan is an IWPR trainee in Baghdad.


Message: 2
Date: Tue, 14 Sep 2004 17:07:35 +0100 (BST)
From: Daniel O'Huiginn <>
Subject: NYT: raising the pressure in Iraq

September 14, 2004
Raising the Pressure in Iraq

AGHDAD, Iraq, Sept. 13 - With four months to go before nationwide
elections in Iraq, the insurgency has grown more brazen and sophisticated,
prompting American commanders to begin a series of military operations to
regain control over large sections of the country lost in recent months.

But as the Americans and their allies raise the pressure on the
insurgents, they are rapidly finding themselves in the classic dilemma
faced by governments battling guerrilla movements: ease up, and the
insurgency may grow; crack down, and risk losing the support of the
population. The additional quandary facing the Americans is the need to
break the deadlock before January, the self-imposed deadline for

On Sunday, insurgents struck the Americans and their allies in the Iraqi
government in manifold ways: with suicide bombings, mortars and rockets,
many of them showing a careful aim. Some of those attacks seemed intended
not just to hurt the Americans but to provoke them into overreacting and
alienating ordinary Iraqis.

How long the Americans can stick to their newly aggressive strategy is
open to question: last April, as marines moved on Falluja, and Iraqi
casualties soared into the hundreds, the Americans called off the attack
and let a gang of insurgents take over.

Even now, the get-tough approach is showing signs of backfiring. On
Sunday, when a suicide bomber crippled an American personnel carrier, a
gun battle broke out, followed by an airstrike by two American
helicopters. At least 15 Iraqis died and 50 were wounded, including a
12-year-old-girl and a television journalist. Inside the grim and chaotic
wards of Baghdad's hospitals on Sunday, the Americans seemed to have made
more enemies than friends.

On Monday, the scene repeated itself in another corner of Baghdad. When
three insurgents opened fire on an American sport utility vehicle,
American soldiers sprayed the area with gunfire, destroying three cars and
killing at least one Iraqi civilian and wounding three others.

"When the Americans fire back, they don't hit the people who are attacking
them, only the civilians," said Osama Ali, a 24-year-old Iraqi who
witnessed the attack. "This is why Iraqis hate the Americans so much. This
is why we love the mujahedeen."

An iron fist also runs the risk of alienating allies. On Monday, Turkey's
foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, said his government would end all
cooperation with the United States in Iraq if the military did not stop
pounding Talafar, a northern city of ethnic Turkmen where 50 have died
over the last two days.

The approach appears to be straining the Iraqi government as well. On
Monday, the office of Ayad Allawi, the interim prime minister, said
Mowaffak al-Rubaie, the national security adviser, had been relieved of
his duties and replaced with a close ally of Dr. Allawi, Qassim Daoud.

The precise reasons for Dr. Rubaie's dismissal were unclear, but he and
Dr. Allawi disagreed sharply over how to quell the insurgency and, in
particular, how to deal with Moktada al-Sadr, the rebel Shiite cleric.
While Dr. Rubaie favors coaxing Mr. Sadr into the political mainstream,
Dr. Allawi is demanding Mr. Sadr's surrender first.

At the heart of the problem facing Dr. Allawi and the American military is
the legitimacy of the elections called for January.

The Americans have long hoped that democratic elections could drain away
the anti-American anger here, and help set the stage for an eventual
withdrawal. But American diplomats acknowledge that holding elections in a
town under insurgent control is probably unrealistic.

If elections were to go forward under such circumstances anyway, a large
number of Iraqi voters would probably be unable to take part.

"I could see circumstances where we can't do Falluja," a Western diplomat
said recently, referring to the prospect of holding elections there. "But
we will not let the rejectionists in Iraq have a veto over the elections."

As American forces try to retake the cities of the so-called Sunni
triangle west of Baghdad - places like Falluja and Ramadi that were
strongholds of support for Saddam Hussein - some Iraqi leaders warn that
they will meet stiff opposition. Separate problems have arisen in the Sadr
City section of Baghdad and in southern cities where Iraq's Shiite
Muslims, who make up a majority of the population, are concentrated.

"For sure, if the situation stays like this, it will be difficult to have
free and honest elections," said Harith al-Dhari, the chairman of the
powerful Association of Muslim Scholars, which represents hundreds of
Sunni clerics around the country.

"But Iraqis do not rely so much on these elections," Mr. Dhari said. "The
most important thing is for the Americans to assign a date for their
withdrawal. That is the only solution."

The Americans face a similar quandary in trying to hold elections in the
country's Shiite-dominated areas, where Mr. Sadr and his Mahdi Army are
still refusing to give up their guns.

In April and again last month, Mr. Sadr's militia showed itself capable of
seizing and holding the centers of the largest cities in southern Iraq,
including Basra, Amarra and Diwaniya. Unless Mr. Sadr can be persuaded to
disband his militia, British officers who had to fight Mr. Sadr in the
south believe that no matter how many of his fighters they kill, he will
still be able to seriously disrupt the January elections.

It is for that reason that Dr. Allawi and American military officers are
refusing to entertain any such talks with Mr. Sadr until he disarms first.
Mr. Sadr's aides, wary and badly bloodied, are balking.

In the meantime, American forces have been assaulting the Mahdi Army in
its Sadr City stronghold. On many nights in Baghdad, the sounds of
shooting and explosions - some of them from American airstrikes - can be
heard from miles away.

Seated in his Baghdad office, Mr. Dhari, the Sunni cleric, said that
efforts to persuade Iraqis with the gun would ultimately fail, as they did
for the British after the World War I.

"When you push the Iraqi people, and you harm the Iraqi people, you will
just cause them to fight back harder," Mr. Dhari said. "The idea that
force will be enough to calm the Iraqis is a false dream."


Message: 3
Date: Wed, 15 Sep 2004 14:16:49 -0600
From: IRC Communications <>
Subject: [Peace&Justice] Lebanon No Model For Iraq

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

Peace and Justice News from FPIF

September 15, 2004

Introducing a new commentary from Foreign Policy In Focus

Lebanon No Model for Iraq
By Ronald Bruce St John

Increasingly desperate to find a winning formula in Iraq, Vice President
Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials are promoting Lebanon
as a political model for Iraq. Agreed, the situation in Iraq is looking
more and more like Lebanon--but not the "Lebanese model" Cheney talks
about. The vice president appears to have in mind a pre-1967 Lebanon in
which an elite of notables presided over a pluralistic republic, open to
foreign capital and free enterprise. Beirut in those days was known as the
Paris of the Orient.

The Lebanon I have in mind is the one I worked in for several years in the
late 1970s and early 1980s after the collapse of the Lebanese political
system in the 1975-76 civil war. Torn by ethnic strife and bloody struggles
for power, communally based militias presided over sectarian murder and
other acts of terror. Foreign powers intervened to turn the conflict to
their own strategic advantage as all sides abducted outsiders as bargaining

Ronald Bruce St John, an analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus (online at, has published widely on Middle Eastern issues. His latest
book on the region is Libya and the United States: Two Centuries of Strife
(Penn Press, 2002).

See new FPIF commentary online at:

With printer friendly PDF version at:

For More Analysis from Foreign Policy In Focus:

High Time Bush Defines the Enemy
By Ronald Bruce St John (August 2, 2004)

Bush Policies Make Terrorism a Growth Industry
By Ronald Bruce St John (May 24, 2004)


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