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[casi-analysis] casi-news digest, Vol 1 #146 - 6 msgs

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Today's Topics:

   1. Organization for Womens Freedom in Iraq (ppg)
   2. Text of Allawi address to Congress (Hassan)
   3. From Riverbend (Hassan)
   4. IRAQ- Most deaths linked to coalition (ppg)
   5. Must read... / THE BUSINESS OF TERROR (Hassan)
   6. Eccentric ally in Green Zone (John Churchilly)


Message: 1
From: "ppg" <>
To: <>
Subject: Organization for Womens Freedom in Iraq
Date: Thu, 23 Sep 2004 12:05:33 -0400

Organization for Womens Freedom in Iraq

Radio interview today with Iraqi woman, Lydia Ratna in Iraq:

"US is supporting the tribal Islamicist clerics who are forcing women back
into black veiling, using police to harass women in the streets if they are
not fully veiled."

"Allawi himself heads such a tribe permitting four veiled 'wives'. Under
Saddam women were permitted secular dress and occupations. Under US
occupation, things are far worse for women."

"Iraqi women are trying organize, but cannot travel to meet in the unsafe
streets.. few telephones yet."
Women's Rights in Iraq, LYDIA RATNA



Message: 2
Date: Fri, 24 Sep 2004 00:40:22 -0700 (PDT)
From: Hassan <>
Subject: Text of Allawi address to Congress
To: CASI newsclippings <>

An excellent example of deception, from an agent of
the best in the field: the CIA, MI5, Mossad and some
12 others...

Do you Yahoo!?
Declare Yourself - Register online to vote today!


Message: 3
Date: Sat, 25 Sep 2004 07:13:22 -0700 (PDT)
From: Hassan <>
Subject: From Riverbend
To: CASI newsclippings <>,
  iac-discussion <>

Friday, September 24, 2004

Liar, Liar...

I was channel-surfing yesterday evening- trying to
find something interesting to watch. I flipped vaguely
to Al-Arabia and Bush's inane smile suddenly flashed
across the screen. Now, normally, as soon as I see his
face, I instantly change channels and try to find
something that doesn't make me quite as angry. This
time, I stopped to watch as Allawi's pudgy person came
into view. It's always quite a scene- Bush with one of
the alledged leaders of the New Iraq.

I prepared myself for several minutes of nausea as
Bush began speaking. He irritates me like no one else
can. Imagine long nails across a chalk board,
Styrofoam being rubbed in hands, shrieking babies,
barking dogs, grinding teeth, dripping faucets,
honking horns &#150; all together, all at once &#150;
and you will imagine the impact his voice has on my

I sat listening, trying not to focus too much on his
face, but rather on the garbage he was reiterating for
at least the thousandth time since the war. I don't
usually talk back to the television, but I really
can't help myself when Bush is onscreen. I sit there
talking back to him- calling him a liar, calling him
an idiot, wondering how exactly he got so far and how
they're allowing him to run for re-election. E. sat
next to me on the couch, peeved, "Why are we even
watching this?!" He made a jump for the remote control
(which I clutch to shake at the television to
emphasize particular points)- a brief struggle ensued
and Riverbend came out victorious.

You know things are really going downhill in Iraq,
when the Bush speech-writers have to recycle his old
speeches. Listening to him yesterday, one might think
he was simply copying and pasting bits and pieces from
the older stuff. My favorite part was when he claimed,
"Electricity has been restored above pre-war
levels..." Even E. had to laugh at that one. A few
days ago, most of Baghdad was in the dark for over 24
hours and lately, on our better days, we get about 12
hours of electricity. Bush got it wrong (or Allawi
explained it to incorrectly)- the electricity is
drastically less than pre-war levels, but the
electricity BILL is way above pre-war levels.
Congratulations Iraqis on THAT!! Our electricity bill
was painful last month. Before the war, Iraqis might
pay an average of around 5,000 Iraqi Dinars a month
for electricity (the equivalent back then of $2.50) -
summer or winter. Now, it's quite common to get bills
above 70,000 Iraqi Dinars... for half-time

After Bush finished his piece about the glamorous
changes in Iraq, Allawi got his turn. I can't seem to
decide what is worse- when Bush speaks in the name of
Iraqi people, or when Allawi does. Yesterday's speech
was particularly embarrassing. He stood there
groveling in front of the congress- thanking them for
the war, the occupation and the thousands of Iraqi
lives lost... and he did it all on behalf of the Iraqi
people. It was infuriating and for maybe the hundredth
time this year, I felt rage. Yet another exile
thanking the Bush administration for the catastrophe
we're trying to cope with. Our politicians are outside
of the country 90% of the time (by the way, if anyone
has any news of our president Ghazi Ajeel Al Yawir, do
let us know- where was he last seen or heard?), the
security situation is a joke, the press are shutting
down and pulling out and our beloved exiles are
painting rosey pictures for the American public- you
know- so everyone who voted for Bush can sleep at

Allawi actually said "thank you" nine times. Nine
times. It really should have been more- at least
double that number of Iraqis died yesterday... and
about five times that number the day before. Looking
back on the last month alone, over 350 Iraqis have
been killed either by American air strikes, fighting,
or bombs... only 9 thank yous?

The elections are already a standard joke. There's
talk of holding elections only in certain places where
it will be 'safe' to hold them. One wonders what
exactly comprises 'safe' in Iraq today. Does 'safe'
mean the provinces that are seeing fewer attacks on
American troops? Or does 'safe' mean the areas where
the abduction of foreigners isn't occurring? Or could
'safe' mean the areas that *won't* vote for an Islamic
republic and *will* vote for Allawi? Who will be
allowed to choose these places? Right now, Baghdad is
quite unsafe. We see daily abductions, killings,
bombings and Al-Sadr City, slums of Baghdad, see air
strikes... will they hold elections in Baghdad?
Imagine, Bush being allowed to hold elections in
'safe' areas- like Texas and Florida.

The hostage situations are terrible. Everyone is
wondering and conjecturing about the Italian hostages.
Are they really dead? Is it possible? Seeing the
family of the British hostage on TV is quite painful.
I wonder if they'll forever hate Iraqis after this. I
saw the plea the made on CNN, asking the abductors to
be merciful. Dozens of Iraqis are abducted daily and
no one really knows who is behind it. Some blame it on
certain Islamic groups, others on certain political
groups- like Chalabi's, for example. It's hardly
shocking, considering our own PM, Allawi, was, by his
own admission, responsible for bombings and
assassinations inside of Iraq- there is some
interesting information here:

For those who haven't read it, you really should. Juan
Cole's "If America were Iraq, What would it be Like?".

- posted by river @ 3:06 PM

Do you Yahoo!?
Declare Yourself - Register online to vote today!


Message: 4
From: "ppg" <>
To: <>
Subject: IRAQ- Most deaths linked to coalition
Date: Sat, 25 Sep 2004 22:17:17 -0400

Sat, Sep. 25, 2004
Most deaths linked to coalition

U.S. forces, police killing twice as many Iraqis as rebels are, ministry


Knight Ridder Foreign Service
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Operations by U.S. and multinational forces and Iraqi police
are killing twice as many Iraqis - most of them civilians - as attacks by
insurgents, according to statistics compiled by the Iraqi Health Ministry
and obtained exclusively by Knight Ridder.

According to the ministry, the interim Iraqi government recorded 3,487 Iraqi
deaths from April 5 - when the ministry began compiling the data - until
Sept. 19. Of those, 328 were women and children. Another 13,720 Iraqis were
injured, the ministry said.
Iraqi officials said about two-thirds of the Iraqi deaths were caused by
multinational forces and police; the remaining third died from insurgent

While the ministry statistics represent the only official count of the dead,
information about cause of death came from hospitals and morgues, reporting
what they were told by friends and family. The ministry had no way to verify
how many died at the hands of insurgents and how many as a result of
military and police operations.
The data include an unknown number of police and Iraqi national guardsmen.
Many Iraqi deaths, especially of insurgents, are never reported, so the
actual number of Iraqis killed in fighting could be significantly higher.

During the same period, 432 American soldiers were killed.
Iraqi officials said the statistics indicate the extent to which U.S.
airstrikes intended for insurgents also are killing large numbers of
innocent civilians. Some say these casualties are undermining popular
acceptance of the American-backed interim government.
That suggests that more aggressive U.S. military operations, which the Bush
administration has said are being planned to clear the way for nationwide
elections scheduled for January, could strengthen the insurgency.

Juan Cole, a University of Michigan history professor who specializes in
Shiite Islam, said the widespread casualties meant that coalition forces
already had lost the political campaign: "I think they lost the hearts and
minds a long time ago."

American military officials said "damage will happen" in their effort to
wrest control of some areas from insurgents. They blamed the insurgents for
embedding themselves in communities, saying that is what endangers innocent

Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, an American military spokesman, said the insurgents
were living in residential areas, sometimes in homes filled with munitions.
"As long as they continue to do that, they are putting the residents at
risk," Boylan said. "We will go after them."
Boylan said the military conducted intelligence to determine that a home
housed insurgents before striking it. The airstrikes were "extremely
precise," he said. And he said that any attacks by the multinational forces
were "in coordination with the interim government."

The Health Ministry statistics indicate that more children have been killed
around Ramadi and Fallujah than in Baghdad, even though together the two
hotbeds of Sunni Muslim insurgency have only one-fifth of the Iraqi
capital's population.

According to the statistics, 59 children were killed in Anbar province -
where Ramadi and Fallujah are located - compared with 56 children in
Baghdad. The ministry defines children as anyone younger than 12.
"When there are military clashes, we see innocent people die," said Dr.
Walid Hamed, a member of the operations section of the Health Ministry,
which compiles the statistics.

Nearly a third of the Iraqi dead - 1,122 - were killed in August, according
to the statistics. May was the second deadliest month, with 749 Iraqis
killed, and 319 were killed in June, the least violent month. Most of those
killed lived in Baghdad; the ministry found that 1,068 had died in the

Many Iraqis said they thought the numbers showed that the multinational
forces disregarded their lives.
"The Americans do not care about the Iraqis. They don't care if they get
killed, because they don't care about the citizens," said Abu Mohammed, 50,
who was a major general in Saddam Hussein's army in Baghdad. "The Americans
keep criticizing Saddam for the mass graves. How many graves are the
Americans making in Iraq?"
At his fruit stand in southern Baghdad, Raid Ibraham, 24, theorized: "The
Americans keep attacking the cities not to keep the security situation
stable, but so they can stay in Iraq and control the oil."
Others blame the multinational forces for allowing security to disintegrate,
inviting terrorists from everywhere and threatening the lives of everyday

"Anyone who hates America has come here to fight: Saddam's supporters,
people who don't have jobs, other Arab fighters. All these people are on our
streets," said Hamed, the ministry official. "But everyone is afraid of the
Americans, not the fighters. And they should be."

The ministry began separating attacks by multinational and police forces and
insurgents June 10.
From that date until Sept. 10, 1,295 Iraqis were killed in clashes with
multinational forces and police versus 516 killed in terrorist operations,
the ministry said. The ministry defined terrorist operations as explosive
devices in residential areas, car bombs or assassinations.
The statistics came from 15 of the country's 18 provinces. The ministry said
it didn't have information for the three northern provinces: Arbil, Dohuk
and Sulaimaniyah, ethnic Kurdish areas that generally have been more
peaceful than the rest of the country.

The Health Ministry is the only organization that attempts to track deaths
through government agencies. The U.S. military said it kept estimates, but
it refused to release them. Ahmed al Rawi, the communications director of
the International Committee of the Red Cross in Baghdad, said the
organization didn't have the staffing to compile such information.

Other independent organizations have estimated that 7,000 to 12,000 Iraqis
have been killed since May 1, 2003, when President Bush declared an end to
major combat operations.
The Health Ministry reports to interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, whom the
United States appointed in June.
Iraqi health and hospital officials agreed that the statistics captured only
part of the death toll.

To compile the data, the Health Ministry calls the directors general of the
15 provinces and asks how many deaths related to the war were reported at
hospitals. The tracking of such information has become decentralized since
the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime because both hospitals and morgues issue
death certificates now. And families often bury their dead without telling
any government agencies or are treated at facilities that don't report to
the government.

The ministry is convinced that nearly all of those reported dead are
civilians, not insurgents. Most often, a family member wouldn't report it if
his or her relative died fighting for rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi
Army militia or another insurgent force, and the relative would be buried
immediately, said Dr. Shihab Ahmed Jassim, another member of the ministry's
operations section.
"People who participate in the conflict don't come to the hospital. Their
families are afraid they will be punished," said Dr. Yasin Mustaf, the
assistant manager of al Kimdi Hospital near Baghdad's poor Sadr City
neighborhood. "Usually, the innocent people come to the hospital. That is
what the numbers show."

The numbers also exclude those whose bodies were too mutilated to be
recovered at car bombings or other attacks, the ministry said.
Ministry officials said they didn't know how big the undercount was. "We
have nothing to do with politics," Jassim said.
U.S. officials said any allegations that soldiers had recklessly killed
Iraqi citizens were investigated at the Iraqi Assistance Center in downtown

"There is no way to refute" such stories, said Robert Callahan, a spokesman
at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. "All you can do is tell them the truth and
hope it eventually will get through."
St Paul Twin Cities Press  --


Message: 5
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 2004 03:50:58 -0700 (PDT)
From: Hassan <>
Subject: Must read... / THE BUSINESS OF TERROR
To: CASI newsclippings <>,
  iac-discussion <>

The war of a thousand years

By Alain Gresh *

IRAQ is burning. You could see this as a consequence
of superpower arrogance or of the ignorance of the
United States about local realities elsewhere.
(Fallujah is not a town in Texas, nor is it Marseille
during Liberation in 1944.) But at a deeper level the
setbacks in Iraq stem directly from the very idea of
the war against terror that was launched by President
George Bush after 11 September 2001.

In the US view each incident in Iraq fits into a
certain logic: the attacks in the Sunni triangle must
be the work of supporters of Saddam Hussein or of
international terrorists linked to al-Qaida; Muqtada
al-Sadr=92s resistance is explained by the involvement
of Iran, classified as part of the axis of evil; each
armed action is further proof that "they" hate western

As a US corporal in Iraq said: "We have to kill the
bad guys" (1). But for every bad guy that the US
kills, several more are created each time an apartment
block is bombed or a village is subjected to search
and destroy operations.

There are other far simpler ways of understanding the
drama in Iraq. Iraqis are happy to be rid of a
loathsome dictatorship and free of the sanctions that
for 13 years drained the life out of Iraq. All they
want now is a better life, freedom and independence.
But the reality is that no promises made about postwar
reconstruction have been kept. There are still
widespread power cuts, insecurity and increased
poverty. US troops gave the final shove to a regime
already weakened by the pressure of multiple embargos.
Then they allowed the ministries to burn and dissolved
the national army, as they had done in 1945 in Japan.

But Iraqis have no interest in living under an
occupation that they suspect of being interested only
in oil and regional strategic domination. The days of
colonialism are over. The 1920 revolt against the
British has been celebrated in Iraq over the decades
and has as strong a hold on the popular imagination as
the Resistance and the Liberation have in France.

Iraqis share an aspiration to independence with other
nations and we do not need to plumb their psychology
or their souls, or submit the Qur=92an to detailed
analysis, to understand it. The behaviour of the
Iraqis is entirely rational and the only solution is a
rapid withdrawal of US troops and Iraq=92s return to
full sovereignty.

A world in black and white

The way in which the leaders of a major power read
geopolitical developments determines their strategic
and diplomatic choices: how will a choice benefit a
power? How will its enemies react? Who are its allies
in any area? For decades the cold war provided the
framework for interpretation in world diplomacy. When
something changed somewhere, the first question for
strategists, analysts and reporters on both sides was:
is this good for the Soviet Union? Or it is good for
the US? The consequences of this black and white
worldview were clear in two major conflicts in the
1970s - Nicaragua and Afghanistan.

In July 1979 the Sandinistas took power in Managua
after a long armed struggle that had ended the
dictatorship of the Somoza family. They launched a
bold programme of social reform, particularly in
agriculture. Basic liberties were respected,
opposition political parties were permitted and a way
was opened for Nicaragua to begin to emerge from its
history of poverty and underdevelopment. But that was
not how the US saw it: this defeat of a US ally meant
the advance of communism and the USSR in the US=92s
Central American backyard.

The CIA began to arm former Somoza military personnel.
From Honduras these "freedom fighters" began an
all-out war against the Sandinista regime, including
acts of terrorism, while Washington tried to mobilise
public opinion and its allies against what it
perceived as a totalitarian threat in Central America.
Cuba, and to a lesser extent the USSR, increased aid
to the Sandinistas. Nicaragua was caught in an
East-West trap.

The relentless pressure of the US and the
impoverishment of Nicaragua by economic sanctions led
to the Sandinistas=92 electoral defeat on 25 February
1990. Whereupon the US lost interest in Nicaragua and
dropped its former prot=E9g=E9s. The country sank back
into poverty. But it was never going to be communist.

Afghanistan is even more telling. In April 1978 its
government was overthrown in a communist coup even
though it was an ally of the USSR. The new authorities
began a harsh programme of radical reform in this
conservative country and met strong resistance,
particularly in the countryside. Washington began to
arm the mujahideen resistance. In December 1979 the
Soviet army invaded and changed the leadership.

The international community was quick to condemn this
as a colonial venture. But the US and the West chose
to see it as proof of the USSR=92s hegemonic intentions
and confirmation of the Kremlin=92s centuries-old
schemes for gaining access to warm seas - the Gulf.

The incoming Reagan administration in the US saw it as
a chance to give the Red Army a bloody nose, even if
that meant an alliance with the devil. With the help
of Pakistani and Saudi secret services it began to arm
the extreme fundamentalist forces to the detriment of
the moderate opposition. It opposed all attempts at
political and diplomatic settlements by the United
Nations and deliberately prolonged the conflict (2).

We know the result. The Soviets decided to withdraw
from Afghanistan. But having won, the US then lost
interest in Afghanistan and the radical Islamist
networks that it had helped create with the help of
Osama bin Laden. Left to its own devices Afghanistan
lapsed into civil war until in 1996 it fell into the
hands of the Taliban.

We now know that, far from being part of major
expansion plans, the Soviet decision to intervene in
Afghanistan was taken by a divided political
bureaucracy that was concerned that a bordering
country and traditional ally should not fall into the
hands of extremist Islamists. We also know that,
despite its appearance of military power, the USSR was
in reality incapable of threatening the world, let
alone dominating it. But in the West the Soviet threat
was always cited when it was needed to mobilise public

In 1983, two years before Mikhail Gorbachev came to
power in Moscow, the French political commentator,
Jean-Fran=E7ois Revel (with his usual perspicacity)
declared the imminent demise of the world=92s
democracies, as they were incapable of resisting "the
most threatening of those external enemies, communism,
which is a present-day variant and fully developed
model of totalitarianism" (3). In reality that "fully
developed model" had only a few years left to run.

Of course the East-West approach to reading
geopolitical developments had a certain reality. Both
the US and the USSR were defending their interests as
major powers. But the collective political destiny of
individual countries was more than just an
international chessboard on which the White House and
the Kremlin made their moves - Washington
unrepentantly supporting dictatorships in Latin
America and Suharto in Indonesia; and Moscow
intervening brutally in Hungary (1956) and
Czechoslovakia (1968).

This over-simplification underestimated any national
realities that didn=92t easily fit and all the other
threats that humanity faced: environmental
degradation, chronic poverty and the spread of new
diseases, notably Aids. The world finally emerged from
the cold war. The US had won but the same challenges
remained; as did the same causes of instability.

A new enemy

The collapse of the Soviet Union orphaned not only the
US and western military and intelligence services, all
deprived of the enemy that had justified their
existence and sanctioned their bottomless budgets, but
also the strategic research centres that had believed
in Moscow=92s strategic superiority to the extent of
predicting a Soviet invasion of western Europe. Where
could they find a replacement for the evil empire?

In the 1990s the American academic Francis Fukuyama
predicted the end of history, proclaiming the
definitive victory of western liberalism and its
extension over the entire planet. The theory proved
popular. A section of the conservative right, those
who had opposed any detente with the USSR and any
understanding with Gorbachev, began to seek a new
strategic enemy. They announced that, even though the
US now had no rivals, it was threatened by obscure
forces even more dangerous than communism: terrorism,
rogue states and weapons of mass destruction. In a
parallel development, analysts and journalists
diagnosed the growing power of a new adversary, Islam,
with a strong ideology and a potential power base of
more than a billion people.

In 1993 Samuel Huntington of the US popularised the
phrase "clash of civilisations" (4). He wrote: "It is
my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict
in this new world will not be primarily ideological or
primarily economic. The great divisions among
humankind and the dominating source of conflict will
be cultural. Nation states will remain the most
powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal
conflicts of global politics will occur between
nations and groups of different civilisations. The
clash of civilisations will dominate global politics."

But this remains speculative, since none of these
doctrines was able to gather a consensus among the
elites. It took 11 September to instil the idea that
the West was again engaged in a world war to be taken
as seriously as had been the cold war and the second
world war. Traumatised by the attacks on the World
Trade Centre and the Pentagon, US public opinion
rallied behind the war against terror, a war in which,
it was proclaimed, "you are either with us or you are
against us".

But what is this new enemy that has replaced communism
and Nazism? Is it terrorism? Terrorism is a method of
political action, not an ideology, and we would be
hard put to find a common thread between the IRA, the
independence fighters of Corsica and the Aum sect. Is
it al-Qaida? But surely fighting that is more a matter
of policing than military mobilisation (see Al-Qaida
brand name ready for franchise,). What about rogue
states? Not only is it nonsense to link North Korea
and Iran as the axis of evil, it is also hard to see
how their regional threat matches that of the Soviet
Union in its prime.

At war with =91barbarism=92

Nevertheless the idea that is taking shape through
carefully targeted ideological campaigns is that of a
clash of civilisations between Islam and the West.
With the exception of North Korea and Cuba all the
countries that are currently targeted by the US -
Iraq, Iran, Syria and Sudan - are Islamic:
unconditional US support for Israel=92s Ariel Sharon
confirms the bias. As President George Bush put it,
civilisation is at war with barbarism. To which Osama
bin Laden replied: "The world has been divided into
two camps: one under the banner of the cross, as Bush,
the head of the infidels, said; and another under the
banner of Islam."

If this theory is true, then no accommodation is
possible. "They hate us" - not because of anything
that we do but because they reject our ideas of
liberty and democracy. So there is no point in
prioritising any of the injustices that afflict the
Islamic world. This view necessarily leads matters
towards war. It views every conflict as a clash of
civilisations, a conflict which is never-ending and
without solutions: the struggle of the Palestinians, a
terrorist bombing in Java, the resistance in Iraq, an
anti-semitic incident in a high school in Paris, an
inner-city riot in a European city - all are seen as
evidence of a general offensive by Islam. We are
engaged on all fronts, including the domestic front,
in a world war.

General William "Jerry" Boykin, formerly of Delta
Force, the US army=92s anti-terrorist unit, was
appointed in June 2003 as the deputy undersecretary of
defence with responsibility for intelligence. He is an
evangelical Christian who once told a congregation in
Oregon that radical Islamists hated the US "because
we=92re a Christian nation, because our foundation and
our roots are Judaeo-Christian . . . and the enemy is
a guy named Satan" (5). On another occasion he said:
"We in the army of God, in the house of God, the
kingdom of God, have been raised for such a time as
this." During the fighting against Islamic warlords in
Somalia he had , said: "I knew my God was bigger than
his. I knew my God was a real God and his was an idol"

The general offered a few excuses for his utterances,
kept his job and was able to use his talents in
exporting the prison system created in Guan t=E1namo Bay
to Iraq: we know all about the results of this (7).
The US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, defended
him at the beginning but the National Security
Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, then stepped in to say:
"This is not a war between religions. No one should
describe it as such." How are we supposed to believe
that when we read the statements of tortured Iraqis,
who were forced to renounce their religion (8)?

All =91savages=92

Islamophobia is rampant in the media despite
occasional protests. Ann Coulter is a popular
rightwing commentator in the US. She is regularly
invited on such radio and TV news programmes as Good
Morning America and The O=92Reilly Factor. In her view
France will be taken over by Muslims within 10 years.
She once said: "When we were fighting communism, OK,
they had mass murderers and gulags, but they were
white men and they were sane. Now we=92re up against
absolute savages . . . We=92ve been under attack by
savage, fanatical Muslims for 20 years. It wasn=92t
al-Qaida that took our hostages in Iran, it wasn=92t
al-Qaida that bombed the West Berlin discotheque which
led to Ronald Reagan bombing Libya."

When the interviewer commented that Libya was an
Islamic country, she said: "You can make the argument,
but I just keep seeing Muslims killing people" (9).

Italy=92s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, said on 26
September 2001: "We must be aware of the superiority
of our civilisation . . . a system that has guaranteed
wellbeing, respect for human rights and - in contrast
with Islamic countries - respect for religious and
political rights." He went on to observe that because
of "the superiority of western values" the West would
continue to conquer peoples as it had conquered
communism even if it meant a confrontation with
"another civilisation, the Islamic one, stuck where it
was 1,400 years ago" (10).

In his book L=92Obsession anti-am=E9ricaine Jean-Fran=E7ois
Revel celebrates the fact that Bush and European
leaders visited mosques after 11 September, mainly to
avoid Arab Americans becoming the targets of unworthy
reprisals. He says: "These democratic scruples do
credit to Americans and Europeans but should not blind
them to the anti-western hatred of the majority of
Muslims living among us" (11). Those were his words -
"the majority of Muslims". We do not know if he is
suggesting that we expel all of them from France.

Such statements are echoed in public opinion. The cold
war, particularly during the 1980s, didn=92t mobilise
people. It was mostly played out at the level of
military high commands. Communism had already lost
much of its attraction and the red threat no longer
provoked witch-hunts. But the war on terror is proving
popular. Parts of both western and Islamic opinion are
prepared to believe that, behind the present
conflicts, civilisations really are clashing. The key
divisions in society are no longer between the
powerful and the weak, rich and poor, haves and
have-nots, but between them and us. The countries of
the West should forget the struggle between classes
and line up in the battle against the Other. What
would be the result? A thousand-year war whose only
result would be to bring comfort to the established

* Alain Gresh is editor of Le Monde diplomatique and a
specialist on the Middle East.

(1) Quoted in "GIs in Iraq are asking: Why are we
here?", International Herald Tribune, 12 August 2004.
(2) See Diego Cordovez and Selig Harrison, Out of
Afghanistan: The Inside Story of the Soviet
Withdrawal, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1995.
(3) Jean-Fran=E7ois Revel, Comment les d=E9mocraties
finissent, Grasset, 1983.
(4) Samuel Huntington, "The Clash of Civilisations",
(Foreign Affairs), vol 72, no 3, 1993.
(5) Los Angeles Times, 16 October 2003.
(6) Ibid.
(7) See Sidney Blumenthal, "The religious warrior of
Abu Ghraib", The Guardian, London, 20 May 2004.
(8) See "New images amplify abuse at Iraq prison",
Reuters, 21 May 2004.
(9) The Independent, London, 16 August 2004.
(10), 27 September 2001.
(11) Jean-Fran=E7ois Revel, L=92Obsession anti-am=E9ricaine,
Plon, 200

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Message: 6
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 2004 05:45:41 -0700 (PDT)
From: John Churchilly <>
Subject: Eccentric ally in Green Zone
Eccentric ally in Green Zone
Imam extols U.S., reveres Virgin Mary -- despised by
fellow clerics

Robert Collier, Chronicle Staff Writer
  Saturday, July 31, 2004
Baghdad -- Fuad Rashid may be the only Sunni Muslim
cleric in Iraq who defends America from his pulpit.
Right now, however, he is making Lt. Col. Robert
Campbell squirm.

Campbell, commander of a battalion in the Army's 1st
Cavalry Division, visited Rashid's house to discuss
neighborhood affairs -- but is starting to look as if
he wishes he hadn't.

"You don't really believe that, do you?" Rashid
cheerfully asked Campbell. "You don't really think you
were sent here for democracy? That is so silly."

"But sheikh," Campbell spluttered, as Rashid segued
into an extended rant.

President Bush is "too much," he continued, his eyes
twinkling incongruously. The military's Iraqi
translators are "all corrupt, bad men." Certain U.S.
Army officers are "ugly." And American promises to
repair the mosque's electricity generator? "I don't
know, lies or what," he said scornfully.

Rashid is imam of the al-Qadisiya Mosque, the sole
Muslim house of worship in the Green Zone, the
3-square-mile area in the heart of Baghdad that
effectively remains under U.S. control. And despite
the criticisms he had just leveled, he proudly calls
himself the "only imam in Iraq who speaks in favor of
the Americans."

"I love America," Rashid said, with passion.
"Americans are so beautiful."

Resplendent in a cream-colored gown and a white gauze
turban around his boyish face, the 40-year-old Rashid
looks more like a Catholic nun than a Muslim cleric.
The similarity is deliberate -- he readily admits that
he models himself after Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Although Islamic doctrine considers Mary the virgin
mother of a prophet - - a status almost as revered in
Islam as it is in Christianity -- it is unheard of for
a Muslim cleric to adopt Christian-style garb, much
less a woman's.

Rashid says Mary appeared to him in three visions
telling him to follow her. He adopted the style when
he was a seminary student in Baghdad in the early
1990s, but it has become more pronounced since his
mosque came under U.S. protection after the April 2003
fall of Saddam Hussein's regime.

Rashid's close-cropped beard is dyed blond, in keeping
with his all-white image -- a sign of purity, he says
-- and he wears patterned contact lenses.

Despite his unorthodox appearance, he is a powerful,
eloquent preacher who advocates conservative social
values. On one recent Friday, the Muslim Sabbath,
Rashid preached to a crowd of about 150 worshipers --
mostly Iraqi government workers, along with several
dozen foreign contractors, mainly Pakistanis and

With an actor's poise and pitch-perfect cadence,
Rashid extolled the benefits of "love and democracy"
and condemned "people who want to destroy what others
are building" -- a clear reference to the insurgency.
But he reserved his biggest lines for the evils of

"A man who drinks is the same as a man who worships
another god," he warned. "His mind will be troubled,
he will be an animal, like a pig."

After the prayer service, worshipers seemed wowed by
Rashid's showmanship. "He is very good," said one
Pakistani truck driver. "He has a beautiful voice. "

Other Sunni Muslim leaders mention him with scorn. "We
don't know him well, but if he is praising the
Americans, then he has sold himself to them," said
Mohamed Bashar al-Faidhy, spokesman of the Islamic
Clerics Association, the nation's main Sunni alliance,
which has steadily criticized the U.S. presence and
gives tacit support to the anti-American insurgents.

Some Iraqis are harsher in their judgments.

"If he were anywhere else in Iraq, he would be
killed," said one Iraqi man who visited the mosque
recently and asked to remain anonymous. "And I would
do it myself," he added, saying Rashid "gives a bad
example." But Rashid is in the Green Zone, a
well-guarded bubble of Americana in the heart of a
hostile nation. Protected by U.S. tanks, 20-foot
concrete walls and barbed wire, the zone holds
thousands of U.S. troops and civilian workers, as well
as the sprawling Republican Palace, where
administrator Paul Bremer once ran the occupation and
now U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte has his
headquarters. Lawns are clipped and well-watered,
women jog the streets in T-shirts and shorts, signs
advertise hip-hop and salsa dance nights, and the only
worries are the occasional incoming mortar round fired
by insurgents outside the zone.

The compound also includes the homes of top Iraqi
officials and Iraqi government offices. U.S. officials
say they have no immediate plans to return the zone to
Iraqi control -- a source of resentment for many
Iraqis who see it as a symbol of continuing U.S.
occupation despite the transfer of nominal sovereignty
a month ago.

The al-Qadisiya Mosque is a striking ultra-modern
building with sail-like wings, like the Sydney Opera
House in Australia. It was built in the mid-1990s as
the favored mosque of Hussein's presidential office,
and its worshipers once included some of the regime's
most powerful officials.

Before the war, Rashid was the assistant to the
mosque's pro-Hussein imam, his main task singing the
five-times-per-day call to prayer. After the war, the
chief imam fled, and the Americans promoted Rashid to
the No. 1 spot. Rashid speaks near-fluent English,
which he says he learned by watching videos of his
three favorite movies, "Gone With the Wind," "Love
Story" and "The Bodyguard." "I love what's her name --
Whitney Houston? She is so beautiful, so pure. She is
like (the Virgin) Mary, very clean."

Now, as Islamic conservatism gains strength throughout
Iraq, Rashid revels in the fishbowl-like isolation of
the Green Zone, and he avoids contact with other
Muslim clerics. Whether he would be accepted at any
other Iraqi mosque is an open question, he admits.
"I'm more honest than the other imams," he said. "They
like to lie, they are full of hate, they try to make

Rashid lives next door to the mosque in a comfortable
home surrounded by fruit trees. He has been married
for five years to a woman 20 years his junior,
although they have no children -- a rarity in Iraq.

During Campbell's visit, Rashid deflected Campbell's
attempts to discuss a petition by local Iraqi
residents for a loosening of the Green Zone's strict
security policies.

Instead, he unleashed a barrage of criticism at his

"Iraqis are all animals, 95 percent are looters," he
said, referring to the wave of theft from government
facilities after Hussein's regime fell last year that
still continues on a diminished level.

"The people is monkeys," he said, his grammar
faltering as the words came out in a rush.

Campbell, who considers Rashid a "good friend," could
hardly get a word in edgewise.

"I like American freedom," Rashid went on. "I would
like to go there soon, you know?"

E-mail Robert Collier at

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