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[casi] News, 09-14/03/03 (3)

News, 09-14/03/03 (3)


*  Just War ‹ or a Just War?
*  Democracy at the Edge of a Sword
*  Sacha Trudeau slips quietly into Baghdad
*  New York City Council Goes on Record Against an Iraq War


*  Lawyers split over right to use force
*  Why the sword is mightier than the law


*  Opposition group [Iraqi National Accord] sets up main base in Jordan
*  First 'Free Iraqis' flown to Gulf


*  Ayatollah warns US will repeat its errors
*  Iraq's Shiite opposition in show of force


*  Captured torturer tells of brutality of Iraq regime
*  Report reveals horror of torture used in Iraq


by Jimmy Carter
New York Times, 9th March

ATLANTA ‹ Profound changes have been taking place in American foreign
policy, reversing consistent bipartisan commitments that for more than two
centuries have earned our nation greatness. These commitments have been
predicated on basic religious principles, respect for international law, and
alliances that resulted in wise decisions and mutual restraint. Our apparent
determination to launch a war against Iraq, without international support,
is a violation of these premises.

As a Christian and as a president who was severely provoked by international
crises, I became thoroughly familiar with the principles of a just war, and
it is clear that a substantially unilateral attack on Iraq does not meet
these standards. This is an almost universal conviction of religious
leaders, with the most notable exception of a few spokesmen of the Southern
Baptist Convention who are greatly influenced by their commitment to Israel
based on eschatological, or final days, theology.

For a war to be just, it must meet several clearly defined criteria.

The war can be waged only as a last resort, with all nonviolent options
exhausted. In the case of Iraq, it is obvious that clear alternatives to war
exist. These options ‹ previously proposed by our own leaders and approved
by the United Nations ‹ were outlined again by the Security Council on
Friday. But now, with our own national security not directly threatened and
despite the overwhelming opposition of most people and governments in the
world, the United States seems determined to carry out military and
diplomatic action that is almost unprecedented in the history of civilized
nations. The first stage of our widely publicized war plan is to launch
3,000 bombs and missiles on a relatively defenseless Iraqi population within
the first few hours of an invasion, with the purpose of so damaging and
demoralizing the people that they will change their obnoxious leader, who
will most likely be hidden and safe during the bombardment.

The war's weapons must discriminate between combatants and noncombatants.
Extensive aerial bombardment, even with precise accuracy, inevitably results
in "collateral damage." Gen. Tommy R. Franks, commander of American forces
in the Persian Gulf, has expressed concern about many of the military
targets being near hospitals, schools, mosques and private homes.

Its violence must be proportional to the injury we have suffered. Despite
Saddam Hussein's other serious crimes, American efforts to tie Iraq to the
9/11 terrorist attacks have been unconvincing.

The attackers must have legitimate authority sanctioned by the society they
profess to represent. The unanimous vote of approval in the Security Council
to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction can still be honored, but
our announced goals are now to achieve regime change and to establish a Pax
Americana in the region, perhaps occupying the ethnically divided country
for as long as a decade. For these objectives, we do not have international
authority. Other members of the Security Council have so far resisted the
enormous economic and political influence that is being exerted from
Washington, and we are faced with the possibility of either a failure to get
the necessary votes or else a veto from Russia, France and China. Although
Turkey may still be enticed into helping us by enormous financial rewards
and partial future control of the Kurds and oil in northern Iraq, its
democratic Parliament has at least added its voice to the worldwide
expressions of concern.

The peace it establishes must be a clear improvement over what exists.
Although there are visions of peace and democracy in Iraq, it is quite
possible that the aftermath of a military invasion will destabilize the
region and prompt terrorists to further jeopardize our security at home.
Also, by defying overwhelming world opposition, the United States will
undermine the United Nations as a viable institution for world peace.

What about America's world standing if we don't go to war after such a great
deployment of military forces in the region? The heartfelt sympathy and
friendship offered to America after the 9/11 attacks, even from formerly
antagonistic regimes, has been largely dissipated; increasingly unilateral
and domineering policies have brought international trust in our country to
its lowest level in memory. American stature will surely decline further if
we launch a war in clear defiance of the United Nations. But to use the
presence and threat of our military power to force Iraq's compliance with
all United Nations resolutions ‹ with war as a final option ‹ will enhance
our status as a champion of peace and justice.

Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, is chairman of the
Carter Center in Atlanta and winner of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize.

by Ramzi Kysia
Counterpunch, 11th March


The U.S. already commands great influence in the region (as proved by the
Bush administration's ability to secure, despite the Turkish setback, basing
and overflight rights for the war in the presence of overwhelming public
opposition to the war in the region). Why this influence has not been
previously used to develop "democracy" in the Middle East is not discussed.
Once again, by restricting the debate, war's champions are automatically
given the benefit of the doubt as to their intentions, regardless of the

This persists even though the arguments put forward by the war camp about
how war will result in "democracy" across the Middle East are quite openly
arguments of intimidation, especially with regards to Palestine, and
straightforwardly reduce to, "if we pound Iraq hard enough then the Arabs
will finally agree to whatever demands we make, out of fear and depression
over what happened to Iraq." That this is commonly accepted as a
"liberation" argument is staggering.

The war against Iraq is not just a war against Iraq. It is a war over what
the structure of our world will be. That Iraq has trillions of dollars worth
of oil reserves is not in question. That U.S. control of those reserves is
openly being discussed is not in question. That control of those reserves
will generate new and enormous profits for U.S. corporations exploiting them
in a post-Saddam environment is not in question. That control of Iraqi oil
will allow the U.S. to destroy OPEC and intimidate the Saudi government into
more forcefully attacking internal, Islamic fundamentalists is quite openly
presented as a "good," as is the notion that a display of U.S. might in Iraq
will intimidate Iran, Syria and other U.S. adversaries, as well as
recalcitrant U.S. allies. U.S. control of Iraqi oil will also provide huge
economic leverage with Europe and Japan--both of which are extremely
dependent on Middle Eastern oil for their energy needs.

Yet, despite the open acknowledgement of all these facts, the failure of
France, Russia or other nations to enthusiastically support U.S. war
policies is alternatively dismissed as "timidity," "jealousy" over U.S.
power, or a result of the financial interests they themselves have in Iraq
that may be disrupted by war. Notwithstanding open acknowledgement of
America's own financial and geopolitical interests in Iraq, attempts by the
antiwar movement to show that these interests are driving the push toward
war are ignored, or dismissed as "lies," "anti-Americanism," and "conspiracy
theory." The audacity of this dismissal is breathtaking.


by Mitch Potter
Toronto Star, 11th March

BAGHDAD‹Sacha Trudeau slipped quietly into the capital of Iraq yesterday,
utterly alone and calmly determined to bear witness to a war he can't stop.

Digital camera in hand, Trudeau intends to disappear into the atmosphere of
impending doom and chronicle what he fears will be the global mistake of a
lifetime. "I am here to storytell, in the largest sense," said the
29-year-old independent filmmaker and son of late prime minister Pierre

"I can't stop this war.

"But I felt, almost for spiritual reasons, that I had to be here. And to
stay here to the end, to bear witness.

"Whatever happens next may set back the world so far we will suffer the
consequences for the rest of our lives."

Trudeau's journey is one of personal conviction.

But it is also so low-key as to be virtually beneath the radar.

Not a soul knows he is here.

He is tucked inside a small hotel far from the pack of international
journalists. He wants to tell the story, not be the story.

He spoke only with great reluctance yesterday and is likely to say little
more on the matter until it's over.

Lying low is now mandatory in Baghdad, a city rife with rumours that
foreigners will soon be asked to leave.

Many among the estimated 600 journalists in Baghdad are under editors'
orders to evacuate the city before expected U.S.-led air strikes.

But even among those committed to staying, few if any are prepared to say so
unequivocally. The spectre of explosive sectarian violence on the heels of a
fallen regime is a scenario that wins their gravest respect.

Trudeau, who majored in philosophy, not journalism, concedes the situation
gives him pause. After the tragic death in 1998 of his younger brother Micha
in a British Columbia avalanche, he knows well the familial pain of a life
lost too soon.

But he said his mother, Margaret, who has anguished over his safety during
past filmmaking journeys to Kosovo and Papua New Guinea, supports his
decision to come to Baghdad.

"The last thing I want to do is cause that kind of hurt. I'm putting
together multiple decision trees for multiple contingencies to be here as
safely as possible," he said.

"I just feel there will be lessons here to last us a lifetime."

Trudeau's preparations include extensive briefings from Canadian military
affairs analyst Scott Taylor, who has been to Iraq 11 times as a journalist
and, separately, as an international observer.

Taylor's prognosis, based on three trips since November, is that Baghdad is
unlikely to see widespread civilian deaths during air strikes because the
American-led attack will be entirely precision-guided.

Iraqi troops at the northern and southern fronts, however, face
obliteration, he warned in an earlier briefing for the Star. Though
technically armed combatants, the frontline soldiers are all underfed
conscripts, many of who would likely shed the uniforms they were forced into
and flee if stationed in Baghdad.

"Military strategy says you put the least reliable troops at the front, with
the Republican Guard further back," said Taylor, who observed Iraqi infantry
positions during a daring trek last month from Baghdad to Iraqi Kurdistan.

"These guys are starving. Just sitting there in the open desert without
camouflage. They have stationary artillery cannons that can't reach the
bombers, which will be flying at 15,000 feet (4,500 metres).

"There is nowhere to run, there is nowhere to hide, nobody to surrender to
and they are not there by choice," he said. "In my opinion, that makes them
civilians. And tens of thousands will die."

Trudeau said Taylor's analysis helped galvanize the decision to witness the
war himself. He declined to say where the results of his journey will be

New York Times, 13th March

The language was carefully hedged, saying that the Council "opposes a
pre-emptive military attack on Iraq unless it is demonstrated that Iraq
poses a real and imminent threat to the security and safety of the United
States or its allies, or unless all other options for achieving compliance
with the United Nations resolutions calling for the elimination of weapons
of mass destruction and the means for their development have failed."

Though the resolution stands little chance of influencing the ongoing
debate, supporters said New York City's voice needed to heard. At least 139
cities have already approved antiwar resolutions of some kind.

"We are saying to the president today, you can no longer use 9/11 as an
excuse for war," said Councilman Charles Barron, a Brooklyn Democrat. "There
was no linkage of Saddam Hussein to 9/11; there was no linkage of Saddam
Hussein to Al Qaeda."

Councilwoman Yvette D. Clark of Brooklyn said she believed it was President
George Bush who is sending the wrong message. "If we're going to be looking
for a fight," he said, "let's fight poverty, let's fight firehouse closures,
let's fight racism and sexism."

The Council is overwhelmingly Democratic, and the three Republicans voted
no. "For our friends out there in the country who are watching this, we
should sort of sanitize the record when we talk about consensus in this
body," said James S. Oddo, the Republican leader. The division among the
Democrats, he said, "indicates that there is a wee bit less than consensus
in this body." He added that members spent more time on this than the
property tax increase last fall.


by Joshua Rozenberg, Legal Editor, in The Hague
Daily Telegraph, 11th March

Legal opinion is divided on whether the United States and its allies can
rely on the principle of anticipatory self-defence to justify military
action against Iraq in the absence of a fresh United Nations resolution.

The US could argue that this doctrine is supported by nearly two centuries
of state practice, dating back to 1837 when British forces in Canada
launched a pre-emptive attack on a ship manned by Canadian rebels.

But Article 51 of the UN charter allows self-defence only if an armed attack
occurs against a member state and then only until the Security Council has
taken action.

Lawyers sympathetic to the British Government have argued that Iraq's breach
of existing UN resolutions, dating back to the last Gulf war, would also
justify an attack.

Resolution 678 of November 1990 authorised member states "to use all
necessary means" to implement a previous resolution demanding Iraqi
withdrawal from Kuwait and to implement "all subsequent relevant

Resolution 687, the cease-fire resolution passed in April 1991, required
Iraq to give up chemical and biological weapons as well as long-range

Since Iraq has not complied with that subsequent resolution, specified
states including Britain could argue they are now entitled to restore
international security in the area without the need for further

But several leading international lawyers in Britain signed a letter last
week saying "neither Security Council resolution 1441 nor any prior
resolution authorises the proposed use of force in the present

States that launch an unjustified armed attack could be called to account by
other states at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

A British Prime Minister who authorised war crimes "when committed as part
of a plan or policy" could find himself in the dock of the International
Criminal Court, to be inaugurated in The Hague today.

Daily Telegraph, 13th March

Why won't the Government tell us whether it thinks military action against
Iraq would be lawful in the absence of an explicit resolution from the
United Nations Security Council?

Tony Blair and his ministers have repeatedly said anything they may do will
be in accordance with international law. That sounds reassuring, but only
until you remember that international law is not like other law.

As Ross Cranston, an academic lawyer and former Labour law officer, said in
the Commons this week: "One of the difficulties with international law, as
opposed to domestic law, is that no body has jurisdiction over the whole
range of issues."

In some circumstances, he added, decisions could be taken by the
International Court of Justice - the long-established world court in The
Hague that decides disputes between states - but there are many issues that
the court has no power to decide.

As that court's own charter recognises, one of the "sources" of
international law is the "teachings of the most highly qualified publicists
of the various nations".

In other words, international law may be what academics think it is. That
approach will not get you very far in domestic legal systems, but that is
because they have parliaments to make laws and courts to enforce them.

The academics fall into two camps, conveniently colour-coded. Ian Brownlie
thinks military action would not be lawful without a further resolution;
Christopher Greenwood thinks it might be.

Prof Brownlie CBE QC, who valiantly attempted to teach me the rudiments of
international law some 33 years ago, was the Chichele professor at Oxford
until 1999; Prof Greenwood CMG QC is now professor of international law at
the London School of Economics. Both gave evidence to the Commons Foreign
Affairs Committee last year.

In the Brownlie corner stand 16 academics who signed a letter to the
Guardian last Friday; in the Greenwood corner are Prof Cranston and, it
seems, Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary.

The Brownlie arguments go like this: under the UN charter, force may be used
against another state in only two cases.

Article 51 allows "individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack
occurs against a member of the UN, until the Security Council has taken
measures necessary to maintain international peace".

Article 42 allows the Security Council to "take such action by air, sea or
land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace
and security".

Since Iraq has not launched an armed attack on the US or Britain there is no
question of self defence, say the Brownlie lawyers. And without a clear
resolution from the Security Council, there can be no military action.

The Greenwood camp says limited and proportionate action may be taken in
self-defence if and when an armed attack is reasonably believed to be
imminent. True, the wording of Article 51 seems to rule out anticipatory
self-defence. But as Prof Greenwood's predecessor at the LSE, Rosalyn
Higgins, wrote: "In a nuclear age, common sense cannot require one to
interpret an ambiguous provision in a text in a way that requires a state
passively to accept its fate before it can defend itself."

Not so, say the Brownlies. Iraq has not threatened to attack any other
state. Compulsory disarmament does not conform to any known concept of
pre-emptive action.

The Greenwood camp relies on existing resolutions passed by the Security
Council. Resolution 687, the ceasefire resolution passed in April 1991,
required Iraq to disarm. That obligation was revived last November by
Resolution 1441, according to Prof Cranston in the Commons this week. The
former Government law officer concluded "that the use of force in
enforcement action, other than in self-defence or in accordance with an
express authorisation by the UN Security Council, can be legitimate in
international law".

Wrong, say the Guardian lawyers: "Neither Resolution 1441 nor any prior
resolution authorises the proposed use of force".

The Brownlies point out that 1441 speaks only of "serious consequences" if
Saddam Hussein does not disarm; ministers may argue that no-one was in the
least doubt as to what was meant by the phrase. The Brownlies insist,
however, that it does not authorise the use of "all necessary means" - code
for armed intervention. Indeed, say the Greenwoods, but 1441 "reactivates"

What's more, a solicitors' firm called Public Interest Lawyers told Mr Blair
in January that if Britain commits war crimes in Iraq then a complaint will
be lodged with the International Criminal Court, whose 18 judges held their
first formal sitting in The Hague on Tuesday.

Bill Rammell, the Foreign Office minister at the ceremony, pointed out that
any allegations of war crimes would first be dealt with by our own courts.
"We don't envisage the circumstances in which the ICC would be called into
play on this issue," he said. The ICC prosecutor would also require
authorisation from three judges before proceeding.

Lord Goldsmith, the Government's chief legal adviser, has repeatedly refused
to say what advice he has given the Government. This is understandable; if
his advice is not what the Prime Minister and the Foreign Office would
prefer to hear, then it is not surprising that Mr Blair has not authorised
him to disclose it.

But, as Lord Goldsmith said in a speech on Monday night, he also provides
legal advice to Parliament. He explained that it was "most commonly in
relation to the assertion of the rights and privileges of Parliament in
litigation". But there is no reason why he should not give Parliament advice
on international law.

That was what the Tory MP Kenneth Clarke called for yesterday. Lord
Goldsmith should comply; he would not be breaching client confidentiality if
he simply tells us what he thinks. And Bill Cash, the shadow attorney
general, has put down a question to the Prime Minister, asking for a
statement on the legal basis for military action.

What we have already is Mr Straw's response last month to the Commons
Foreign Affairs Committee.

"It is well established in international law that the right to take
necessary and proportionate military action in self-defence applies not only
where an attack has occurred but also pre emptively where an attack is
imminent," he said. "The Government supports the view that this right
applies as much to imminent threats from terrorism as to the more
conventional threats of the past." And, crucially, is a further resolution
necessary before military action is taken against Iraq? The Government's
"strong preference" is for a second resolution, the Foreign Secretary
repeated. Then Mr Straw quoted the UN Secretary General: "Following Iraq's
further material breach, the Security Council must, in Kofi Annan's words,
'face its responsibilities'."

On Monday, however, Kofi Annan said that if the Security Council failed to
reach agreement on Iraq, and action was taken without its authority, "the
legitimacy and support for any such action will be seriously impaired". Any
such military action would not be in conformity with the UN Charter, he

So there we have it. Another resolution is necessary. But if the allies go
ahead regardless, there is not a lot that anybody can do about it. That's
the trouble with international law.


Gulf News, 10th March

Amman, Reuters, 10th March: Jordan has allowed an Iraqi opposition group to
set up its main base in the country in an overt signal of support to
opponents of Saddam Hussain ahead of a possible U.S.-led war against Iraq,
the group said yesterday.

Officials at the Iraqi National Accord (Al Wifaq Al Watan Al Iraqi) said the
group, which has since 1996 had only a low-key presence in the kingdom, had
moved its leaders to Jordan this month.

"We have moved our London headquarters to Amman and our key leadership has
now begun to operate from Amman, dictated naturally by current events," one

Jordanian officials confirmed the move.

Political analysts say the decision by Jordanian authorities to give a major
Iraqi opposition group a free hand to spread anti-Saddam propaganda is a
public signal the kingdom is severing ties with its former ally and no
longer courting President Saddam Hussain.

Officially, Jordan says it has good ties with the government in Baghdad.

Al Wifaq is the only Iraqi dissident group officially licensed to operate in
the country.

Al Wifaq is headed by Iyad Allawi, who defected from the ruling Baath party
in the 1970s and allegedly escaped an assassination attempt by the Iraqi
government in London in 1978.

When the group first began operating in Amman in 1996, it marked an
escalation of the late King Hussein's campaign against Saddam, which began
in earnest in August, 1995, when he gave sanctuary to top-level Iraqi

Jordan insists it will not allow the Iraqi opposition groups to take
military action against Iraq. But it has been promised U.S. support for
backing Washington's war goals.

Al Wifaq's presence in Jordan would help its covert operations in Iraq,
members of the group said, adding that it was also moving other activities
to neighbouring countries.

Al Wifaq, which maintains its own radio station called Mustaqbal (Future) in
a secret location, denied it was using Jordan to broadcast anti-Saddam

The group has a presence in the Kurdish autonomous region of northern Iraq
and offices in Syria, Germany and Holland.

>From Amman, Al Wifaq seeks to recruit supporters from more than 300,000
Iraqis who have fled through Jordan to escape economic and political
hardships since Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, which triggered the 1991 Gulf

Even though Amman does not trust the fragmented Iraqi opposition to play an
effective role in stabilising a post-war Iraq, it wants to ensure future
influence under any new regime.

by Nick Childs
BBC, 14th March

The Pentagon says the first group of Iraqi opposition volunteers who have
been trained in Hungary have already been sent forward to the Gulf.

But a US general heading the training effort says the volunteers have been
prepared mainly for post-war humanitarian efforts, rather than combat as
originally expected.

US Army Major General David Barno said the first group to complete the
training course was deployed to the region about two weeks ago.

Major General Barno would not say how many were involved, but a figure of 50
has been reported.

The Pentagon is calling them Free Iraqi Forces, or FIF.

It was originally reported that the opposition volunteers would be trained
to support front line units.

Major General Barno said how they were employed would be up to local

But in a telephone link-up with the Pentagon from the training base in
Hungary, he said the focus of the training was on humanitarian support.

"The fundamental purpose of the training programme is not to train them to
accompany front-line units, as much as it is to work in a relief supply,
working with civil military organisations that are beginning to flow into
the theatre," he said.

The volunteers have been issued with uniforms that identify them as FIF, but
in terms of military skills they have received only basic self-defence

Some may have had military experience in the past, but Major General Barno
said they had come to the training course from a variety of civilian

The volunteers - who range in age from 18 to 55 - are a mix of Kurds, Sunnis
and Shiites and have so far mainly been recruited from North America and
Western Europe.

The general said he could train up to 3,000 volunteers over this year.


The Age, 15th March
by Russell Skelton

They revere him as a spiritual leader of Iraq's Shiites, but the greying
Ayatollah is not one to mangle his words with religious metaphor. "If the
United States attempts to administer Iraq after the fall of Saddam, they
will face popular resistance. The Iraqi people do not want an American
military general to control them."

A US occupation, no matter how short, would be an affront to Islam and Iraqi
nationalist sentiment, he said. "The Iraqi people will believe that what the
Americans do will be part of a religious war against them."

Asked if this meant armed resistance, the Ayatollah neatly sidestepped the
question, although his meaning seemed clear enough. "This subject is very
serious and dangerous. We are worried that the US will repeat the mistakes
of the past, mistakes that went against the Iraqi people," he told The Age
this week.

These mistakes include US backing for Saddam's war against Iran; George Bush
snr's refusal to back the 1991 general uprising against Saddam that left
thousands of Iraqis to be slaughtered, and US backing of the Afghan
resistance that gave birth to the Taliban. "We cannot rely on the United
States. At one time they wanted to contain Saddam's regime, now they want to
topple it. We support them in this, but we can never rely on them."

Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim fled Iraq to exile in Iran 23 years ago.
He heads the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and with
about 60 per cent of Iraq's population Shiite, Ayatollah al-Hakim's
influence is considerable on both sides of the Iran Iraq border. He is seen
by many Shiites, the region's dominant religious group, as a future leader
of Iraq. His father was the Grand Ayatollah of the Shiites and many of his
views reflect those of the other opposition parties also waiting in exile.

Few in the fractious Iraqi opposition doubt that Saddam will be deposed in
the coming weeks and that a new chapter of Iraqi history will be written -
preferably, they hope, without long-term US military involvement. Iran's
ruling clerics having been regularly warning the Bush Administration that it
will be caught in its "own quagmire" if it invades Iraq and the post-Saddam
landscape looks decidedly perilous for Washington as Iraqi dissident groups
jostle for position, power and influence in a future government. The
opposition parties support the removal of Saddam, but they hold serious
reservations about any ongoing role for the US in Iraq's affairs. They say a
new interim government would decide who will buy the nation's oil, the
nature of democracy, reconciliation and reconstruction.

This week Tehran's streets have been clogged with processions of Shiites
mourning the "Chief of the Martyrs" Imam Hussain, the grandson of the
Prophet, who is accorded saint-like status in this part of the world. Groups
of men in black paraded through the city flaying themselves with chains.
Imam Hussain died for freedom and for Islam, they chanted.

The parades bringing Tehran's traffic choked streets to a standstill are a
stark reminder that for all its Western trappings of internet cafes, the
pizza shops and and late-model European cars, Iran's Shiites are the
dominant force accounting for 90 per cent of the population. The drums
echoed the drums of war in neighbouring Iraq.

When I interviewed Ayatollah Hakim at his headquarters in central Tehran, a
shoddy grey concrete building guarded by heavily armed militia, my bag was
searched, tape and camera checked. Even at this late stage nobody here
underestimates Saddam's reach. Ayatollah Hakim is courteous, capable of a
wry, knowing smile and despite his standing as an eminent cleric speaks the
language of a politician. He is not regarded as a fundamentalist although
they support him and he talks about democracy and inclusion. While he says
the new laws in Iraq should be based on Sharia, he is careful not to say
that they will be Sharia laws. He says the future Iraqi government must
accommodate and represent all religions, not just the Shiite majority. That
means Sunnis, Turkmen, Arabs and Kurds. He avoids making assumptions about
his future role. "I started my resistance to the regime to save the Iraqi
people from dictatorship, sectarian discrimination and racial
discrimination. I believe it is my religious and moral responsibility to do
that. I have no desire to play a political role, but if they choose a role
for me I will accept."

At 63, it is hard to find anybody more dedicated to the overthrow of Saddam,
or who has endured more suffering at the hands of the dictator and his

Since the age of 12 he has been in the front line against Saddam's Baathists
party initially taking part in demonstrations and later organising armed
resistance. Imprisoned, tortured (on one occasion his head was squeezed in a
vice to extract a confession) and forced to watched as members of his family
including five brothers were murdered, his family history has been as
violent as it has been tragic. According to his aides he has survived
numerous assassination attempts. His followers number in the thousands and
have maintained a low level war of disruption and sabotage against Saddam
and his forces. They are now poised on the border ready to join in the
liberation of Baghdad.

March 16 2003
Sydney Morning Herald, from AFP, 16th March

Hundreds of fighters from Iraq's main Shiite Muslim opposition faction put
on a rare show of military force at their northern Iraqi base yesterday,
with their leadership vowing they would act independently of the United
States in the battle against Saddam Hussein.

During a rare public parade by the Al-Badr Brigade, the armed wing of the
Iran-based Supreme Assembly of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SAIRI), the
group's number two said his well-disciplined army would quickly move to
secure areas captured from the Iraqi regime in the hours following a US

"We will do it our way. We have our own plans," Abdul Aziz al-Hakim told
reporters at the Al-Badr Brigade's recently installed base in a lush green
valley near Darbandikhan, in the southeast of the Kurdish autonomous zone
close to the Iranian border.

"The message is that it is Iraqis who should oust Saddam Hussein. Our role
will be real participation, and we do not need outside help," al-Hakim said.
"We are not going to sit here and wait, we will be providing on the ground

When asked if his group was in any way coordinating its armed operations
with Washington, he boasted that "on the level of field actions, there is no
specific agreement with any country because we don't need it".

The Al-Badr Brigade, which has up to now been largely kept out of the public
eye, is believed to number between 10,000 and 15,000 fighters. Many of the
fighters based here crossed from Iran in recent months in the countdown to
an anticipated US-led war aimed at toppling the Iraqi president.

SAIRI is also engaged in talks with Iran on allowing more of its fighters to
cross into either northern or southern Iraq, officials here said.

The parade outside Darbandikhan, 45km south of Sulaymaniya, included some
800 fighters from the militia's Imam Ali unit.

They were carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades,
heavy machine guns and communications equipment. Most of the fighters, who
appeared to have been recently equipped with new uniforms and weapons, were
in their 30s or early 40s.

Dozens of new Japanese-made pick-ups, mounted with recoilless rifles,
mortars and rocket launchers also rolled past a podium of SAIRI leaders to
the beat of a small military band.

Darbandikhan is situated in the southeast of the Kurdish autonomous enclave
in an area controlled by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) of Jalal

The PUK and the rival Kurdistan Democratic Party of Masoud Barzani have
divided control of much of northern Iraq since the aftermath of the 1991
Gulf war.


by Charles M. Sennott
Boston Globe, 12th March

SULAYMANIYAH, Iraq -- The prison guards brought Kazim Muhammed al-Hut up
from his cell. He squinted in the sunlight as he sat down to tell of rising
through the ranks of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party to become an agent in its
feared secret police, or Mukhabarat.

Hut, 38, was arrested in December while working as an undercover agent in
the semiautonomous, Kurdish-controlled area of northern Iraq. His story
embodies the cult of brutality of the Ba'athist regime.

In an interview Monday, Hut said that the men in his ranks are afraid,
knowing that the end of Hussein's rule could be near. But he said that few
have defected or surrendered.

"It's simple," he said. "If they did that, they would be killed by Saddam's
men. And if they tried to leave, they would be killed by the population.
Everyone in the regime still faces that choice."

Opposition leaders know Hut as one of the more brutal interrogators among
the Mukhabarat in northern Iraq, said Wasta Hassan, head of the security
division of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan's Ministry of the Interior.
"The things he says are true." Human rights organizations say that hundreds
of thousands of people have been locked up and tortured in the regime's
network of prisons.

"We have many in the opposition who know his work too well, people who have
suffered at his hands," said Hassan, speaking in his office at the entrance
to the prison complex after allowing a reporter to question Hut in the
presence of several guards.

Hut stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 250 pounds, and his hands look like paws.
Deep-set brown eyes stare out at the world with a squint that makes it
difficult to tell which direction he is looking.

He has worked for nearly 20 years within the Ba'ath security apparatus. At
16, he joined the party's youth committee. After military service in the
early 1980s, he was brought in to serve in the Military Security Services.

In 1991, he was tapped to help penetrate the Iraqi opposition movements.
That was when his job as a Mukhabarat interrogator began and, he says, when
he became skilled in torture.

"It was hard at first; then it got easy," he said. "We had a lot of ways to
make people speak. There was the cable, electric shock. . . . We would
attach the electrodes. We did it like this: One [motioning to his tongue],
two [motioning to his ear], and three [motioning to his groin]."

Hut laughed uneasily as he explained the methodology. Then a silence fell
over the room. He pulled hard on another cigarette.

What about rape, he was asked.

"No, we had another group responsible for that."

What about children?

"We never killed them. If the child was 5 or 6, we would beat them with a
steel cable, and that would get the mothers talking."

He continued: "Look, you are a journalist, you do your work. He's a security
man, he does his work," nodding in the direction of one of his captors. "And
I did my work."

Hut said his father was a farmer with a large tract in the southern city of
Basra. He emerged from the Shiite Muslim tradition, but his family was part
of the secular ethos of the Ba'ath Party, and he never attended prayer

"Saddam is brave, but he has not been good to his people," he said. "If he
had stayed with his people, none would have been able to defeat him, not the
British or the Americans. . . .

"But he did not stay with his people. Saddam made us into killers."

by Alison Hardie
The Scotsman, 13th March

HORRIFYING details of the torture Saddam Hussein is accused of perpetrating
against his own people were revealed yesterday.

Researchers preparing an indictment of Saddam for crimes against humanity
detailed evidence of torture, murder and ethnic cleansing from witnesses in
northern Iraq.

Their report included eyewitness accounts of prisoners being killed by being
fed through industrial shredders and children gassed in jail.

Shanaz Rachid, the daughter of a Kurdish leader, told a meeting of MPs that
action must be taken against Saddam by the international community which she
accused of standing by for more than two decades while the Iraqi people

Ann Clwyd, a Labour MP who recently returned from the latest of several
visits to Kurdish northern Iraq, said that for the first time in her years
of involvement with the country, Iraqi people were urging war to overthrow

"These people are asking for war," said Ms Clwyd, who heads a parliamentary
committee on Iraq. "They think it is the only way to overthrow Saddam. I
have to agree with them."

SADDAM Hussein is planning attacks on his own people in the event of a
US-led war, and has put a top general nicknamed Chemical Ali in charge of
southern Iraq to quell any civilian uprisings, according to reports.

US military officials told the Washington Times that there are increasing
signs Saddam will kill his own people and blame the atrocities on invading
US forces. Bush administration officials said last week Saddam was planning
to dress Iraqi forces in US and British uniforms and order them to kill
innocent civilians.

The US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, warned on Tuesday that Saddam was
considering shelling civilians with deadly chemical weapons, as he did in
1988, killing up to 100,000 Kurds in northern Iraq.

A US military official told the newspaper that at least two Republican Guard
divisions are now believed to be armed with chemical artillery shells.

Military planners believe Saddam has nothing to lose by unleashing weapons
of mass destruction, as the goal of the coalition troops is to capture or
kill him.

The newspaper said that a sign that Saddam is serious about attacking
civilians comes in reports from inside Iraq that General Ali Hassan
al-Majid, or "Chemical Ali," has been placed in charge of military
activities in the south of the country. Gen Majid commanded the 1988
chemical weapons attacks on the Kurds.

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