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[ This message has been sent to you via the CASI-analysis mailing list ] This is an automated compilation of submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org Articles for inclusion in this daily news mailing should be sent to email@example.com. Please include a full reference to the source of the article. Today's Topics: 1. The law chief who bowed to Blair (bluepilgrim) 2. Fallujah: A War Crime in Real Time by Prof. FRANCIS A. BOYLE (John Churchilly) 3. Iraqi Farmers Aren't Celebrating World Food Day (bluepilgrim) 4. When will they ever learn? (CharlieChimp1@aol.com) 5. The Sunni-Shi'ite power struggle (CharlieChimp1@aol.com) --__--__-- Message: 1 Date: Thu, 18 Nov 2004 15:55:00 -0600 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: bluepilgrim <bluepilgrim@DELETETHISgrics.net> Subject: The law chief who bowed to Blair http://www.newstatesman.co.uk/200411220003.htm The law chief who bowed to Blair John Kampfner Monday 22nd November 2004 EXCLUSIVE: The NS reveals how, on the eve of the Iraq invasion, Tony Blair and George Bush leant on Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, to change his mind on the legality of the war. By John Kampfner As Tony Blair implores the nation to appreciate the benefits of the so-called special relationship, more evidence has emerged of the extent of the Bush administration's pressure on the British government in the run-up to war against Iraq. We already knew that the Prime Minister agreed to back George W Bush's war plans as early as April 2002. He was concerned about regime change and needed to find another reason - weapons of mass destruction - to justify military action politically and legally. What is less known is how Blair, together with the Americans, leaned on the UK Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, to change his mind about the legality of the war. That story can now be told. A commercial barrister and personal friend of the Blairs, with little experience of international law, Goldsmith shifted his position on the legality of war not once, but twice. He was asked by Blair to stay silent until he could guarantee that his advice was helpful in justifying war. Even then, his first attempt was not deemed positive enough, so at the last minute a new version was produced. If any of the doubts had been made public, Britain's armed forces could have been vulnerable to legal challenge. So sensitive is the whole affair that Goldsmith was reluctant to speak about it during his two appearances before the Butler inquiry earlier this year. His testimony was regarded as evasive and unconvincing. Initially, he even suggested that he could not show the committee the contentious legal advice he provided to Blair on 7 March 2003, which has never been made public. The five-person committee was flabbergasted. Goldsmith gave in to their demand only after they told him they would abandon their inquiry and announce why they had done so. Between September 2002 and February 2003, Goldsmith let it be known, usually verbally, that he could not sanction military action without specific United Nations approval. He indicated that resolution 1441, passed unanimously by the UN Security Council in November 2002, did not provide that automatic trigger, and that a further resolution was necessary. Throughout this period, Blair was fully aware of the Attorney General's reservations. For that reason, he instructed him not to declare his position formally. When challenged by one cabinet minister in autumn 2002 as to why the government had not yet received formal advice from Goldsmith, Blair responded: "I'll ask him when I have to, and not before." Blair, although a lawyer himself, made it clear throughout that the legalities were an unwelcome distraction. He had allowed himself to be won over to the American position. This was that resolution 687, passed in 1991 at the end of the first Gulf war, gave any permanent member of the UN Security Council the right at any point to declare Iraq in further material breach of its obligations to get rid of its WMD. The long-held British view, in common with just about every other country, was that only the Security Council itself could make such a judgement. Meanwhile, Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, let it be known to his department throughout the autumn of 2002 that he disagreed with his own legal team. The lawyers took a clear and united view. At one meeting he flatly overruled them, causing them to appeal to Goldsmith to act as an arbiter. Goldsmith, crucially, told them they knew what his view was but he could not give formal advice. The implication was that Blair would not let him. The two offices work closely; usually, one Foreign Office legal person is seconded to the Attorney General. If at any point during this period Goldsmith had disagreed with the Foreign Office legal opinion, he had ample opportunity to tell them. From November 2002, all the lawyers worked on the basis that a second resolution was not just desirable but a legal requirement. That included the entire Foreign Office legal team, led by Michael Wood, whose deputy, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, resigned on the eve of war. Wood did not. In the 2004 New Year Honours List, he received a knighthood. Goldsmith was uneasy. In late January 2003, he wrote a memorandum to Blair expressing his concerns. In mid-February, he was instructed to go to Washington to hold talks with senior American officials. The Butler report refers obliquely to how the Attorney General "met members of the US administration who as co-sponsors of the resolution  had detailed knowledge of the negotiation of the resolution". He met not just his US counterpart, John Ashcroft, but a powerful behind-the-scenes figure called John Bellinger. Bellinger's formal title is senior associate counsel to the president and legal adviser to the National Security Council. He is responsible for advising on US and international law on national security, use of force, intelligence and terrorism. After that trip, Goldsmith agreed to produce the legal advice Blair sought. His 13-page paper set out in detail the status of the various UN resolutions. He did not give a definitive view, but suggested that the government's case would have been "safer" if it had been based on a further reference to the UN on the eve of war. In his conclusion, he set out the potential for legal challenges to the government. In a break with the ministerial code, Goldsmith's advice to Blair on 7 March was not circulated to either the cabinet or the permanent secretaries of key government departments. When asked about this by Butler, the PM suggested he could not trust some members of his cabinet with such papers. Blair's answer to the committee that day confirmed its worst fears about his approach to the machinery of government and led it to conclude: "We are concerned that the informality and circumscribed character of the government's procedures which we saw in the context of policy-making towards Iraq risks reducing the scope for informed collective political judgement." A copy of Goldsmith's document was sent to the office of the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, as would normally be the case on the eve of war. He responded by saying that it was too equivocal, and that he needed a more definitive declaration if he was to commit his forces, and to ensure that they or their officers did not become liable under international law. Goldsmith, still deeply uncomfortable, felt he could not give that definitive response. When asked about this during his hearings before Butler, he suggested it was the Prime Minister's call to make the final determination on WMD. Never before had an Attorney General felt unable to give legal direction on his own. On 14 March, as the Butler report states, the legal secretary to the Attorney General wrote to Blair's private secretary asking for confirmation that "it is unequivocally the Prime Minister's view that Iraq has committed further material breaches as specified in . . . resolution 1441". The following day, he received such an assurance that "it is indeed the Prime Minister's unequivocal view that Iraq is in further material breach of its obligations." Blair knew that Goldsmith's advice of 7 March, if released, might not be strong enough to convince wavering Labour MPs ahead of the crucial Commons vote. That weekend, the Attorney General was asked to produce something more compelling. His final version was published on 17 March, on the eve of the debate, in the form of a written parliamentary answer described as "the Attorney General's view of the legal basis for the use of force against Iraq". This was not the same as his formal legal advice to the Prime Minister. Contrary to the public assertions of several ministers, this was not a "summary" of the legal advice. Blair, who knew the real story, made sure he avoided that formulation. This was a partial, tendentious account of that advice, shorn of various caveats and qualifications that Goldsmith had included ten days earlier. A qualified document had become a document of advocacy. Sexing up had become a habit. Goldsmith was asked to appear before the cabinet on 17 March to present the case. Sitting in the chair previously occupied by Robin Cook, who had just resigned, he read out his brief statement before Blair moved the discussion on. Questions were not permitted. On the 23 occasions that Iraq had been on the agenda for cabinet discussions, this was the first time a member of the cabinet can recall the Attorney General attending. In the space of a year, a man who had shared the doubts of almost the entire legal establishment about the lawfulness of a war without an unequivocal endorsement from the UN had been prevailed upon to cast those doubts aside. In the fraught weeks of Feb- ruary and March 2003, Goldsmith told lawyer friends that his position was impossible. He wondered out loud whether he should stay in his job. He did the business, and did stay. What was published on the eve of war was not the legal advice. The legal advice of 7 March, which has never been released, did not sanction war. Blair took it upon himself to make a final determination that was not his to make. [<http://www.jkampfner.net>http://www.jkampfner.<http://www.jkampfner.net>net] This article first appeared in the New Statesman. For the latest in current and cultural affairs<https://www.newstatesman.com/000SUBSCRIBE.htm> subscribe to the New Statesman print edition. --__--__-- Message: 2 Date: Wed, 17 Nov 2004 14:16:17 -0800 (PST) From: John Churchilly <meso999@DELETETHISyahoo.com> Subject: Fallujah: A War Crime in Real Time by Prof. FRANCIS A. BOYLE To: email@example.com [ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] http://www.counterpunch.org/boyle11152004.html November 15, 2004 A War Crime in Real TimeObliterating Fallujah By FRANCIS A. BOYLE The obliteration of Fallujah continues apace. Article 6(b) of the 1945 Nure= mberg Charter defines a Nuremberg War Crime in relevant part as the ". . . = wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages. . ." According to this def= initive definition, the Bush Jr. administration's destruction of Fallujah c= onstitutes a war crime for which Nazis were tried and executed. There is no= thing surprising about that. Since the Bush Jr. administration's installation in power by the United Sta= tes Supreme Court in January of 2001, the peoples of the world have witness= ed a government in the United States of America that has demonstrated littl= e if any respect for fundamental considerations of international law, inter= national organizations, and human rights, let alone appreciation of the req= uirements for maintaining international peace and security. What the world = has watched instead is a comprehensive and malicious assault upon the integ= rity of the international legal order by a group of men and women who are t= horoughly Machiavellian in their perception of international relations and = in their conduct of both foreign policy and domestic affairs. This is not s= imply a question of giving or withholding the benefit of the doubt when it = comes to complicated matters of foreign affairs and defense policies to a U= .S. government charged with the security of both its own citizens and those= of its allies in Europe, the Western Hemisphere, and the Pacific. Rather, the Bush Jr. admi= nistration's foreign policy constitutes ongoing criminal activity under wel= l-recognized principles of both international law and U.S. domestic law, in= particular the Nuremberg Charter, the Nuremberg Judgment, and the Nurember= g Principles. So their obliteration of Fallujah was to be expected. One generation ago the peoples of the world asked themselves: Where were th= e "good" Germans? Well, there were some good Germans. The Lutheran theologi= an and pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was the foremost exemplar of someone who = led a life of principled opposition to the Nazi-terror state even unto deat= h. Today the peoples of the world are likewise asking themselves: Where are th= e "good" Americans? Well, there are some good Americans. Like three Catholi= c Nuns in Denver, they are getting arrested and going to jail for protestin= g against United States weapons of mass destruction (WMD) whose power for h= uman extermination far exceeds even the wildest fantasies of Hitler and the= Nazis. Or else for protesting against illegal U.S.. military interventions= around the world. Just recently the Nuclear Resister estimated that since = the Fall of 2002, there have been more than 9,500 anti-war related arrests = in the United States alone. Many more will be coming. In international legal terms, the Bush Jr. administration itself should now= be viewed as constituting an ongoing criminal conspiracy under internation= al criminal law in violation of the Nuremberg Charter, the Nuremberg Judgme= nt, and the Nuremberg Principles, due to its formulation and undertaking of= aggressive war policies that are legally akin to those perpetrated by the = Nazi regime. As a consequence, American citizens possess the basic right un= der international law and the United States domestic law, including the U.S= . Constitution, to engage in acts of non-violent civil resistance in order = to prevent, impede, thwart, or terminate ongoing criminal activities perpet= rated by U.S. government officials in their conduct of foreign affairs poli= cies and military operations purported to relate to defense and counter-ter= rorism. This same right of civil resistance extends pari passu to all citizens of t= he world community of states. Everyone around the world has both the right = and the duty under international law to resist ongoing criminal activities = perpetrated by the Bush Jr. administration and its nefarious foreign accomp= lices such as Blair, Berlusconi, Howard, Koizumi, Kwasniewski, etc. by all = non-violent means possible. If it is not so restrained, the Bush Jr. admini= stration could very well precipitate a Third World War. The time for preventive action is now. Civil resistance is the way to go. P= eople power can overcome power politics. Popular movements have succeeded i= n toppling tyrannical, dictatorial and authoritarian regimes throughout for= mer Communist countries in Eastern Europe, as well as in Asia, and most rec= ently in Latin America. It is time once again to exercise People Power here= in the United States of America: "When in the Course of human Events. . . = We hold these Truths to be self-evident. . . . we mutually pledge to each o= ther our Lives, our Fortunes, and sacred Honor." Despite the best efforts by the Bush Jr. Leaguers to the contrary, we Ameri= can Citizens still have our First Amendment Rights: Freedom of Speech, Free= dom of Association, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom to Petition our Government= for the Redress of these massive Grievances, Civil Resistance, etc. We are= going to have to start vigorously exercising all of our First Amendment Ri= ghts right now. We must use them or else, as the saying goes, we will lose = them. We must act not only for the good of the Peoples of Southwest Asia, b= ut for our future, that of our children, that of our nation as a democratic= society committed to the Rule of Law and the U.S. Constitution. The Nazis = had their "homeland" too. Francis A. Boyle, Professor of Law, University of Illinois, is author of Fo= undations of World Order, Duke University Press, The Criminality of Nuclear= Deterrence, and Palestine, Palestinians and International Law, by Clarity = Press. He can be reached at: FBOYLE@LAW.UIUC.EDU -------------------------------------------- http://www.counterpunch.org/boyle11152004.html Francis A. Boyle Law Building 504 E. Pennsylvania Ave. Champaign, IL 61820 USA 217-333-7954 (voice) 217-244-1478 (fax) firstname.lastname@example.org (personal comments only --------------------------------- Do you Yahoo!? Meet the all-new My Yahoo! =96 Try it today! --__--__-- Message: 3 Date: Fri, 19 Nov 2004 00:47:09 -0600 To: (Recipient list suppressed) From: bluepilgrim <bluepilgrim@DELETETHISgrics.net> Subject: Iraqi Farmers Aren't Celebrating World Food Day http://www.vegsource.com/articles2/iraq_seeds.htm Iraqi Farmers Aren't Celebrating World Food Day Nov 11, 2004 As part of sweeping "economic restructuring" implemented by the Bush Administration in Iraq, Iraqi farmers will no longer be permitted to save their seeds. Instead, they will be forced to buy seeds from US corporations -- including seeds the Iraqis themselves developed over hundreds of years. That is because in recent years, transnational corporations have patented and now own many seed varieties originated or developed by indigenous peoples. In a short time, Iraq will be living under the new American credo: Pay Monsanto, or starve. When the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) celebrated biodiversity on World Food Day on October 16, Iraqi farmers were mourning its loss. A new report  by GRAIN and Focus on the Global South has found that new legislation in Iraq has been carefully put in place by the US that prevents farmers from saving their seeds and effectively hands over the seed market to transnational corporations. This is a disastrous turn of events for Iraqi farmers, biodiversity and the country's food security. While political sovereignty remains an illusion, food sovereignty for the Iraqi people has been made near impossible by these new regulations. "The US has been imposing patents on life around the world through trade deals. In this case, they invaded the country first, then imposed their patents. This is both immoral and unacceptable", said Shalini Bhutani, one of the report's authors. [photo] Becoming Monsanto customers at the barrel of a US gun. The new law in question  heralds the entry into Iraqi law of patents on life forms - this first one affecting plants and seeds. This law fits in neatly into the US vision of Iraqi agriculture in the future - that of an industrial agricultural system dependent on large corporations providing inputs and seeds. In 2002, FAO estimated that 97 percent of Iraqi farmers used saved seed from their own stocks from last year's harvest or purchased from local markets. When the new law - on plant variety protection (PVP) - is put into effect, seed saving will be illegal and the market will only offer proprietary "PVP-protected" planting material "invented" by transnational agribusiness corporations. The new law totally ignores all the contributions Iraqi farmers have made to development of important crops like wheat, barley, date and pulses. Its consequences are the loss of farmers' freedoms and a grave threat to food sovereignty in Iraq. In this way, the US has declared a new war against the Iraqi farmer. "If the FAO is celebrating 'Biodiversity for Food Security' this year, it needs to demonstrate some real commitment", says Henk Hobbelink of GRAIN, pointing out that the FAO has recently been cosying up with industry and offering support for genetic engineering . "Most importantly, the FAO must recognise that biodiversity-rich farming and industry-led agriculture are worlds apart, and that industrial agriculture is one of the leading causes of the catastrophic decline in agricultural biodiversity that we have witnessed in recent decades. The FAO cannot hope to embrace biodiversity while holding industry's hand", he added. FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: From GRAIN Shalini Bhutani in India [Tel: +91 11 243 15 168 (work) or +91 98 104 33 076 (cell)] or Alexis Vaughan in United Kingdom [Tel: +44 79 74 39 34 87 (mobile)] From Focus on the Global South Herbert Docena in Philippines [Tel:+63 2 972 382 3804] NOTES  Visit <http://www.grain.org/articles/?id=6>http://www.grain.org/articles/?id=6. GRAIN and Focus' report is entitled "Iraq's new patent law: a declaration of war against farmers". Against the grain is a series of short opinion pieces on recent trends and developments in the issues that GRAIN works on. This one has been produced collaboratively with Focus on the Global South.  Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety Law of 2004, CPA Order No. 81, 26 April 2004, <http://www.iraqcoalition.org/regulations/20040426_CPAORD_81_Patents_Law.pdf>http://www.iraqcoalition.org/regulations/20040426_CPAORD_81_Patents_Law.pdf  GRAIN, "FAO declares war on farmers, not hunger", New from Grain, 16 June 2004, <http://www.grain.org/front/?id=24>http://www.grain.org/front/?id=24 source: <http://www.grain.org/nfg/?id=253%2016oct04>http://www.grain.org/nfg/?id=253 16oct04 --__--__-- Message: 4 From: CharlieChimp1@DELETETHISaol.com Date: Sat, 20 Nov 2004 06:30:20 EST Subject: When will they ever learn? To: Intelligentminds@yahoogroups.com, email@example.com [ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] U.S. BATTLE PLANS BEGIN TO UNRAVEL IN IRAQ By Michael Schwartz 11-19-04 In the New York Times this week the first crack appeared in the armor of the "victory in Fallujah" facade maintained by the major US media since the battle began. Eric Schmitt and Robert Worth discuss a secret Marine Corps report that reveals the major bind the US has gotten itself into by sweeping through Fallujah and attempting to pacify it. This US strategy has created exactly the dilemma that many critics of the war had been predicting: in order to hold Fallujah the United States has to keep large numbers of troops there, and then the Americans will not have sufficient troops to handle the uprising elsewhere in the Sunni areas. The problem is summarized thusly in the New York Times article: "Senior marine intelligence officers in Iraq are warning that if American troop levels in the Fallujah area are significantly reduced during reconstruction there, as has been planned, insurgents in the region will rebound from their defeat. The rebels could thwart the retraining of Iraqi security forces, intimidate the local population and derail elections set for January, the officers say. Beneath this general problem lie three key problems that made the attack on Fallujah a desperation measure in the first place, and which is now creating a new and deeper crisis for the US military in its aftermath. First, and most important, the people of Fallujah hate the Americans and support the guerrillas (even if they may have complaints about much of what they do). This means that as soon as the people return, so will the resistance, hidden from US view because virtually all the guerrillas are residents of Fallujah with supporters in the community. They will not be turned over to the US or to Iraqi police, and they will therefore begin to mount attacks on whoever is left to guard the US-installed local government. Second, the US cannot depend on Iraqi police or military to fight this next phase of the "battle of Fallujah". Here's how this problem was reported by the Times: "Senior officers have said that they would keep a sizable American military presence in and around Fallujah in the long reconstruction phase that has just begun, until sufficiently trained and equipped Iraqi forces could take the lead in providing security. 'It will take a security presence for a while until a well-trained Iraqi security force can take over the presence in Fallujah and maintain security so that the insurgents don't come back, as they have tried to do in every one of the cities that we have thrown them out of,' General George W Casey Jr, the top American commander in Iraq, said on November 8. American commanders have expressed disappointment in some of the Iraqis they have been training, especially members of the Iraqi police force. Other troops have performed well, the officers have said." The key thing here is that when the Americans entered the Fallujah battle they believed that the Iraqi forces would be ready to take over immediately after the city was cleared. But the mass defections and unwillingness to fight exhibited by the Iraqis have forced a drastic revision in these estimates, so that now US military leaders are forced to keep a US presence during the "long reconstruction phase" (read - "until the guerrilla attacks stop") while they wait (probably in vain) for a new cycle of training to produce an Iraqi force that is capable of resisting the guerrillas (the first three efforts to produce such a force have already failed - there is no reason to believe that the next will succeed). The third problem is that the US simply does not have enough troops to hold Fallujah and also do all the other fighting that is now necessary. The Times reporters expressed it thus: "If many American troops and the better-trained specialized Iraqi forces, like the commando and special police units, are committed to Fallujah for a long time, they will not be available to go elsewhere in Iraq, possibly creating critical shortfalls." In other words, when the resistance drives the police and local government out of other cities (as they did recently in Samarra, Tal Afar and Mosul) the US will not have sufficient troops to recapture the cities, and they will have to allow them to remain in rebel hands, just as Fallujah remained in rebel hands for six months. This is the ultimate denouement of the attack on Fallujah. The US is now faced with the choice of leaving Fallujah and allowing the shura mujahideen government that has ruled it since April to return to power, or allow the resistance to take power in many other cities. Either option will leave the US in a significantly worse position than it was in before the attack. As so many predicted, the attack on Fallujah has strengthened the resistance and weakened the US occupation. And one final note: the only remedy for the third problem is a vast increase in the number of US troops in Iraq. And that means a draft in the United States. Michael Schwartz , professor of sociology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook,. His work on Iraq has appeared on ZNet and TomDispatch, and in Z Magazine. His books include Radical Politics and Social Structure, The Power Structure of American Business (with Beth Mintz), and Social Policy and the Conservative Agenda (edited, with Clarence Lo). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/FK20Ak01.html --__--__-- Message: 5 From: CharlieChimp1@DELETETHISaol.com Date: Sat, 20 Nov 2004 19:13:48 EST Subject: The Sunni-Shi'ite power struggle To: email@example.com, Intelligentminds@yahoogroups.com [ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] This article is a fairly reasonable assessment of the Sunni-Shiite thing at present, as well as the current status of the Iraqi resistance in its various forms. However, does it project a realistic future scenario, based on the given data? By Pepe Escobar November 20, 2004 - Iraqis are not fighting one another - at least not yet: they are fighting the occupying power, although with different strategies. After Fallujah, this situation is about to change. For the average Iraqi, Sunni or Shi'ite - and Americans underestimate Iraqi national pride at their peril - there's no question: the current Sunni resistance morally prevails, because they are Iraqis fighting an invader/occupier. This means the US occupation in essence lost even before it began. Defining the resistance as "anti-Iraqi forces" - as the Pentagon does - is nonsense: they are a legitimate popular resistance movement, while the US-trained Iraqi police are largely identified for what they are - collaborationists doing the dirty work of Iraqification, the Mesopotamian version of failed Vietnamization. Hundreds of these US-trained forces ran away before the battle even started in Fallujah. No wonder: they were resistance moles. And most of Mosul's police also defected. The resistance is now spread out all over the Sunni heartland - contradicting US marine talk that the assault on Fallujah "broke the back of the resistance". Added proof that the resistance is indigenous is that of more than 1,000 men between the ages of 15 and 55 who the Pentagon says were captured in Fallujah - there's no independent confirmation; only 15 have been confirmed as "foreign fighters", according to General George Casey, the top US ground commander. And these "foreigners" are mostly Saudis, Jordanians or Syrians, described by Iraqis themselves as "our Arab brothers", members of the large Arab nation. The real "foreign fighters" in Iraq are the Americans. Anger in Sunni-dominated Baghdad has reached a fever pitch, as an Iraqi physician told a radio station he has examined bodies of people who seem to have died of banned chemical weapons: the bodies are swollen, are yellowish and have no smell. Asia Times Online sources in Baghdad say that people in Fallujah believe the Americans may have used chemical weapons in the bombing of Jolan, ash-Shuhada and al-Jubayl neighborhoods. They also say the neighborhoods were showered with cluster bombs. The political war The Sunni Iraqi resistance is battling a political war. For the mujahideen, the stakes are clear: under the current US-imposed situation, the Shi'ites will be in power after elections scheduled for January. Saif al-Deen al-Baghdadi, a hardcore Sunni Salafi and top member of the resistance in Mosul, has qualified the Iyad Allawi government as representing "the fundamentalist right wing of the White House and not the Iraqi people". Apart from the "clash of fundamentalisms" implicit in this observation, the fact is that for the resistance, softcore or hardcore, the Shi'ites are being propelled to power by an alliance of fundamentalists - Washington plus US-backed Allawi. The Shi'ites are not doing enough to calm Sunni anger. When Shi'ite leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani spoke out against the Fallujah offensive, it was too late. In fact, the one who spoke was Sistani's top man in Karbala, Ahmad al-Safi al-Najafi, who told thousands at the Imam Hussein Mosque that Sistani viewed the assault on Fallujah as he viewed the assault on Najaf: he favored a peaceful solution, he called for the withdrawal of "foreign forces" (the Americans) and he condemned the death of innocent civilians. The Sunni-Shi'ite divide is not monolithic. The powerful Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) - founded after the fall of Saddam Hussein - is closely coordinating with the lumpenproletariat -based movement of Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. But events in Fallujah have set the political landscape on fire - with the AMS urging all Iraqis to boycott the January elections. At the lavish golden-and-marble Umm al-Qura Mosque in Baghdad - built by Saddam and previously called "Mother of all Battles" - the AMS managed to rally 47 political parties, not only Sunni Islamist but eight Shi'ite parties, one Christian, the Iraqi Turkmen Front and the Communist Party. Their joint communique condemns the elections as "imposed by the US-backed interim government and rejected by a clear majority of political and religious powers"; stresses that "the US raids against Najaf, Karbala, Samarra, Mosul, Baghdad and more recently Fallujah represent an obstacle to the political participation in the occupied country"; and qualifies the attack on Fallujah as "genocide". The whole idea comes from Sheikh Jawad al-Khalissi, a Shi'ite, who is a descendent of one of the leaders of the 1920 revolt against the British colonial power. In Iraq, history does repeat itself in many ways. The AMS is making it very clear to all Sunni Iraqis - and to all Iraqis for that matter - that Fallujah had nothing to do with "stabilizing" the country before elections, as the Pentagon and Allawi have claimed. And support for the AMS is increasing fast, especially after the Americans arrested seven of its leading members. On a parallel front, the Americans also arrested seven aides to Sheikh al-Hasani, the leader of a splinter group of Muqtada's movement. The popular response was swift: this past Wednesday more than 3,000 people demonstrated in front of the Green Zone in Baghdad demanding their release. To boycott or not to boycott? What is Muqtada up to? Hashim al-Musawi, one of his top aides, told a crowd in front of Kufa's mosque this week that they will also boycott the elections because in Fallujah the Americans "violated all human values enshrined in the Geneva Convention". This may be a diversionary tactic. Asia Times Online contacts in Baghdad confirm that Muqtada is frantically negotiating with Sistani: the crucial point is how many parliament seats Muqtada will get if he joins a united list of all major Shi'ite parties in the January elections. The Grand Ayatollah is putting all his efforts to consolidate this list. And he is adamantly in favor of conducting the elections on schedule. The key question is how extensive a Sunni boycott would be. If the absolute majority of Sunnis - up to 30% of the population - don't vote, plus some Shi'ite factions, the elections have no legitimacy. The Kurds are also extremely nervous. With a boycott, most of the 275 seats will be Shi'ite: the Kurds would get around 30 - with no Sunni Arab allies to counteract what many in Baghdad are already defining as the tyranny of a Shi'ite majority. As for Prime Minister Allawi, his Iraqi National Accord is a mixed bag of Sunni and Shi'ite ex-Ba'athists. Allawi does not want to be part of the Sistani list. This may be a blessing in disguise for Iraqis, because in this case Allawi may not even be elected to parliament: his little party has scant popular legitimacy. And his "political capital" after Fallujah is zero: not only did he authorize the massacre, but he installed martial law, muzzled the press and exacerbated the inherent contradiction of his position - how to behave as a strong leader when you depend on an occupying army. It's important to note that not a single party - and especially the Shi'ite parties - represented in Allawi's "cabinet" condemned Fallujah. Their collective game is to blame the whole disaster on Allawi alone. But that may not be enough to placate Sunni anger. At the moment, with fighting in Fallujah still raging, and the resistance hitting all over the heartland, this is how Sunni Iraq is reading what the Americans say: If you fight us, we will kill you. And if you don't participate in our elections, you go to jail. No wonder the resistance keeps growing. To stay or to go? Imagine a Shi'ite-dominated Iraqi government next January having to face a widespread Sunni guerrilla movement with only a ragged bunch of guerrilla-infiltrated Iraqi security forces. Who're you gonna call? The marines? The Sistani-blessed government may ask the Americans to go. The Bush II administration will obviously say no. The Sistani-blessed government may launch selected raids against the resistance: not likely to break its back. Moreover, in the eyes of most Iraqis, the Sistani-blessed government cannot even afford to not ask the Americans to pack up and go. Sistani knows Shi'ites are anti-occupation: nobody will tolerate a Sistani-blessed government "protected" by an occupying army. Not to mention this would prove the point now stressed by the Sunni resistance: the Shi'ites are allied with American "fundamentalists". This leaves an ominous prospect in place: an Iraqi Shi'ite, Sistani-blessed government fighting a widespread Sunni guerrilla resistance in a bloody civil war. Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Ltd. _http://atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/FK20Ak03.html_ (http://atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/FK20Ak03.html) End of casi-news Digest _______________________________________ Sent via the CASI-analysis mailing list To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-analysis All postings are archived on CASI's website at http://www.casi.org.uk