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News titles, 19-26/03/03 [Please note below the BBC day by day Chronology of events, and the Radio Free Europe Arab Press Review which I hope will be a permanent feature of future news mailings during the course of the war] This mailing is very late and the reason for this will be obvious. It is inordinately long and yet, as everyone will know, it is only a tiny and perfectly arbitrary slice of all the material that has come our way in this momentous week - the first week of what is usually and inaccurately referred to as the 'Second Gulf War'. The key to understanding this war, as well as the 'First Gulf War' and the twelve years of genocidal blockade that followed it is, I believe and have argued before, the need to humiliate President Hussein. The present war could therefore properly be called the 'Second War of Saddam's Nose'. The Iraqi people might have been spared a great deal of suffering had President Hussein been willing to do a little bit of grovelling (had he, for example, showed signs of wanting to negotiate an IMF loan); and Mr Hussein would probably have proved quite accommodating to western desires if the United States leadership had only been willing to treat him with a little more of the respect he felt he deserved (in the wake of the Iran/Iraq war this does appear to have been George Bush Sr's intention. The person who forced the pace of the confrontation - over the Farhad Barzoft affair - was Margaret Thatcher). As it is, this war is about dignity, and several articles below ('Umm Qasar: a line in the sand'; 'Jihad in Mesopotamia'; 'White House policy and a second awakening' as well as much of the Radio Free Europe Arab Press Review) suggest that this has now gone beyond the matter of Mr Hussein's personal dignity and has become a matter of Arab dignity. It will surely be impossible for any Arab not to be thrilled by the courage that has already been shown by thousands of fighters willing to fling themselves suicidally against the most deadly and impersonal killing machine the world has ever known. I thrill to it too though I know very well that there are many reasons not to. I know very well that this is a moral and social disaster - that that kind of resistance against hopeless odds can only be maintained by keeping the population as a whole in terror and that it will almost certainly split up (if it hasn't already) into small, autonomous gangs along the Bosnian model - gangs which will probably be around for a long time after something that can call itself a 'peace' has been cobbled together. And if in the end, as is probable, the movement is crushed and Saddam, and those who are fighting with him are, finally, humiliated, the whole area will be plunged (like Serbia only worse) into a state of murderous despair. These are the predictable results of the policy adopted by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. But of course, we must never forget, and will never be allowed to forget, that President Hussein is a monster and a torturer and a war criminal. It is, however, a mistake to think that his worst misdeeds were inspired by simple sadism. They were directed against political tendencies which, he believed, threatened the unity and stability of Iraq. The most important of these were the Kurdish parties, the Communist Party, rival nationalist and pan-Arab tendencies, and the two main Shia formations - al-Dawa and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI, usually, these days, called the Supreme Assembly ... SAIRI). All of these, with the exception of the Kurds, are opposed to this war. These are the real Iraqi opposition, the people who have been massacred, tortured, raped, by Saddam Hussein's administration. Until a very short time ago it seemed as if the SCIRI might go some of the way with the US project. But for the moment (see the articles in Unwilling Shia below) - another triumph for US diplomacy - that possibility has been cut off and Donald Rumsfeld, in a statement made on Saturday 29th March, therefore outside the period covered by this mailing, has said that any force not under US command will be treated as hostile. In saying that he has, in one fell swoop, made enemies of all those Arabs who have over the past twelve years sacrificed themselves to resist the Iraqi President militarily, on the ground. He has also, if Massoud Barzani is to be believed ('Turks vote over US access to airspace' in Willing Kurds below), made enemies of the more substantial of the two Kurd factions. For the moment the Kurds are the one important element of Iraq opinion that supports the US. But they have their own agenda, which includes as an immediate aim, control of Kirkuk and, as a longer term aim, independence. Their whole political tradition, whatever soothing words they may have pronounced over the past seven years (since 1996, when they had to appeal to the US to extricate themselves from a fratricidal civil war) is anti-'Iraqi'. In allying with them, the USA is allying itself with a force many Iraqis will see as essentially foreign and hostile, with scores to settle (see 'You should have known we'd fight' in Wider Implications). It is now extremely difficult to foresee any outcome to all this other than catastrophe, especially given the well established diplomatic incompetence of the present US administration. It is a situation that inflicts on opponents of the war a problem of conscience. Do we try to avoid the catastrophe by effectively dropping our opposition to the war? The Prime Minister would certainly argue that continued opposition can only prolong it because it gives hope to the Iraqi forces that if they hold on long enough the whole house of cards will come crashing down. And if it should happen that the whole house of cards does come crashing down, then Saddam Hussein will assume godlike proportions (as Pepe Escobar keeps pointing out, in a culture of martyrdom he's in with a chance of assuming godlike proportions whatever happens). But if - and it is still possible - USUK still manages to get a quick and easy victory, the Iraqi people might be spared a lot of suffering, but it will be Messrs Bush and Blair who will assume godlike proportions. And be convinced of their right and ability to use similar means to impose order anywhere else in the world they think might need it. The dilemma must be felt at its most acute in the United Nations. The great majority of the nations in the General Assembly, including the majority in the UNSC, including a majority of the permanent members of the UNSC, believe this war to be illegal. They cannot now with any appearance of moral and intellectual integrity, accept the legality of the USUK occupation, or of any government USUK might instal after the war. The situation resembles that of Cambodia and Vietnam when, we remember, the UN, on the insistence of the US, continued to recognise the Khmer Rouge government - a government incomparably more cruel and murderous than the government of Iraq - and condemned the intervention of Vietnam, even though the grounds of it, in terms of humanitarian concern and of simple self defence, were infinitely stronger then any of the grounds advanced by the US for this war or for the previous wars against Serbia and Afghanistan. Following this precedent, the UN should continue to recognise Saddam Hussein's administration even after a USUK victory. At the very least Iraq should be treated as an occupied territory, like Palestine (a very potent analogy). The UN certainly should have nothing to do with any US inspired proposals for a war crimes tribunal. Nor should it allow any part of the occupying administration to touch the Oil for Food money in the UN escrow account. On previous occasions (the Balkans, Afghanistan) the US has been able to walk away and let other countries try to cope with the mess it has created. This time, always assuming they end up winning, they should be obliged most positively to live with the consequences of their own irresponsibility. From being an Imperialist power in the Leninist - largely economic - understanding of the term, they should be obliged to become an Imperialist power in the `British' sense - direct political control of farflung territories, in the teeth of opposition from the rest of the world. Such a policy would of course play into the hands of the anti-UN elements within the US administration but this may be no bad thing. Ever since its creation - and flagrantly since the collapse of the Soviet Union - the United Nations (at its highest political level) has been little more than the creature of its most powerful member. A power such as the United States will necessarily excite opposition. It would be infinitely better that this opposition should take the form of the multicultural United Nations than that it should be led by the likes of al Qaida. The present crisis - with the US administration feeling betrayed by the UN and most of the word feeling betrayed by the US administration - seems highly suited to a parting of the ways which could, if handled skilfully, be an immense blow struck against the Behemoth in favour of a bipolar or multipolar world. NEWS, 19-26/03/03 (1) DISHONEST CASE FOR WAR * Nuclear inspectors reportedly angry ['Some of the inspectors leave with a deep suspicion of U.S. motives. Some believe, for example, that recent flights of U.S. U-2 spy planes were intended to help the military draw up target lists, not to aid the inspectors in their search for weapons of mass destruction.'] * Blix: Iraq Won't Use Chemical Weapons ["Some people care about their reputation even after death"] * U.S. Plans Hunt for Iraqi Bio-Weapons ['"I'm among the people who are most curious to know" if an invasion will uncover hidden weapons, Hans Blix, the most recent in a long line of U.N. weapons inspectors, told CNN Wednesday.'] * USA lied about Iraq's weapons [A US-based Norwegian weapons inspector, Joern Siljeholm: "Much of what has been claimed about WMDs has proven to be sheer nonsense. From what I have seen they are going to war on very little"] * CIA voiced doubts about Iraq's uranium purchases ['When the State Department "fact sheet" was issued, the official said, "people winced and thought, 'Why are you repeating this trash?"''] * Soldiers 'find huge chemical arms plant' [say Fox News and the Jerusalem Post. But see ...] * Search at Najaf yields no sign of chemical weapons [nor have sites at Nasiriya and al Khamisiya, 'two military sites described in a CIA assessment last year as part of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programme'] MURPHY'S LAW * Seven crew killed in helicopter crash [22nd March. Accidental collision] * Missing ITN crew may have come under 'friendly fire' [Death of Terry Lloyd: "The Iraqis must have been their real target but I'm sure they were surrendering - and anyway they were all dead within minutes." ] * 'Iraqis unable to reach refugee camp in Jordan' [and account of incident when Jordan transporter Ahmed Bazaa was killed by a US missile assault targeting an Iraqi telecommunications centre in the Ramadi governorate last week] * British plane shot down by U.S. missile [and polls show support for the decision to go to war and for the conduct of it, now that the complicating factor of UN support has been got out of the way] * One killed, 12 injured by 'resentful' Muslim GI [We learn that 'according to some historians at least 600 American soldiers were killed in fragging attacks in the course of the Vietnam conflict'] * US missile hits bus, killing five Syrian civilians * 'Friendly fire' kills two more UK troops [Near Basra, Tuesday 25th March] * Second Officer Dies From Sunday's Grenade Attack AND, IN NEWS, 19-26/03/03 (2) WAR ON BAGHDAD * Bush says Iraq war has begun [and USUK doesn't bother to turn up to hear Hans Blix's latest report] * War on Iraq launched [First strike on Baghdad] * No Sign of Fire at South Iraqi Oilfields-Witnesses * US plans blitzkrieg tactics to overpower Baghdad [An account of how it was supposed to be] * CIA Had Fix on Hussein [Attempt to kill President Hussein on the first night of the war. Bunker busters were used so a lot of DU dust is already in the air] * Baghdad Set Ablaze ['A US military commander in Kuwait said limited raids would go on for two or three days ahead of any huge assault, which US officials have said could involve a barrage of at least 3,000 satellite-guided bombs and cruise missiles.'] * News analysis: A change of plans * Relentless strikes turn Baghdad night into day [Extracts, mainly about the bombing of Baghdad. Norman Schwarzkopf admits to having been 'totally awed'. So it worked for somebody] * 14 dead in cruise missile attack in Baghdad [and attack on the TV station (which doesn't seem to have occasioned the same outrage as the attack on the TV station in Belgrade)] DEFENCE OF THE REALM * Iraqi tribes are their leader's secret weapon * Umm Qasr: a line In the sand [Khatoun Haidar in the Lebanon Daily Star finds the resistance of Umm Qasr inspiring: 'The last few years witnessed the demise of Arab nationalism, the prevalence of an exclusive form of fundamentalism, a recession that has reached catastrophic proportions, and the Israeli arrogance and might ... Umm Qasr might prove to be the spark that will bring back to the Arab street a sense of pride and empowerment.'] * Exiled Iraqis want to fight 'invaders' ['Jordanian records show that 5,284 Iraqis have crossed the desert border overland into Iraq since March 16'] * Jihad in Mesopotamia [Pepe Escobar in good form on a war in which symbolism plays an essential role which USUK are incapable of understanding: 'Shi'ites praise the symbolic value of Ali Obeid, an aged peasant from the Hindiyah tribe credited with shooting down an Apache helicopter with his bolt-action rifle near the holy city of Karbala, 110km southwest of Baghdad and at the site of the key 7th-century battle where Imam Hussein was killed. Americans can't understand the mindset of a Fedayeen in his hideout with only a filthy blanket to protect him from the cold desert nights and just a plastic bag of raw meat for food, resisting like a madman and then fleeing for another position, leaving behind a photo of his two children.' He also says: 'Pakistani and Afghan sources tell Asia Times Online that thousands of Arab-Afghan mujahideen have already deployed around Baghdad and Mosul preparing suicide commando - or "martyrdom" - operations against the invasion, as well as 2,500 Hezbollah from Lebanon.'] AND, IN NEWS, 19-26/03/03 (3) DESERT SWARM * Blowing sand grounds aircraft near border * 'You're late. What took you so long? God help you become victorious' [Account of apparently popular conquest of Safwan (the mood was to change ...)] * Joy, muted by memories of the last time [the article, though generally enthusiastic about public support for the US in Safwan, finishes with a hint of evidence for the US use of napalm] * Clashes at Key River Crossing Bring Heaviest Day of American Casualties [Extracts, mainly to do with the fighting round Nasiriyah * Fierce battle around port [Umm Qasr] * Iraqi bodies litter plain [near Najaf, 'after a battle of more than seven hours against Iraqi forces who were armed with machineguns mounted on the back of Japanese pick-up trucks.'] * Australian pilot gives thumbs down to US bombing order [in accordance with Australian rules of engagement: 'A range of weapons in the American arsenal - such as landmines and cluster bombs - are banned by Australia, and Canberra has emphasised that its forces will refuse to attack civilian targets, including key bridges, dams and other vital infrastructure of the kind bombed by the US in the 1991 Gulf War.'] * Slow Aid and Other Concerns Fuel Iraqi Discontent Toward United States [Rejoicing in Safwan proved to be shortlived] * List of war casualties [as of Tuesday 25th March] * U.S. Cautious About Promoting Uprisings ['the Bush administration yesterday urged Iraqi civilians to stay indoors and refrain from attacking until the allies were in a position to help them'. So that explains the lack of popular uprisings! They're just obeying orders ...] * US claims 500 killed in sweep past Najaf [and further killings near Nassiriya: 'Around 30 dismembered bodies were seen by the wreckages of two buses. No Iraqi weapons were visible around the wrecked vehicles.'] * 'Desert Rats' poised to enter Basra [The Independent claims the Iraqis turned the electricity off and the British helped the ICRC turn it back on again (by getting rid of 'unfriendly Iraqis')] * Iraqis still waiting for food and water AND, IN NEWS, 19-26/03/03 (4) ARABIAN NIGHT * White House policy and a second awakening [From Lebanon Daily Star. Attack on Iraq seen as a challenge to Arab/Muslim democracy. Lebanon, Iran and Turkey seen as three models of Arab/Muslim democracy in action] * What could Arab leaders have done to curb America's ambitions? [Lebanon Daily Star roundup of Arab press, including account of interview with Syrian Vice-President Abdulhalim Khaddam, and other criticisms of Arab governments' accomodations with the US] * BBC presses Peres on Israeli weapons program [BBC programme on Mordechai Vanunu rescheduled from Sunday at 7.15 pm to Monday at 11.30 pm] * OPEC Statement On Commencement of Iraq War [OPEC countries assure the US they will do everything necessary to keep the war effort going] * 2 killed as antiwar protests erupt across Arab world [Deaths in Yemen. Other demonstrations in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Sudan, Syria and in the West Bank] * Arabs Seethe as TV Brings Iraq Destruction Home ['Amr Moussa, the head of the 22 member Arab League, said "no Arab with any remnant of conscience can tolerate" the bombing of Baghdad, once the proud capital of the Islamic world. "The bombing and violence we're seeing on satellite TV should stir the ire of every Arab who sees it," said the secretary-general ...' Well, its being organised from Arab League member Qatar] * Christian community comes down strong against US-led attack on Iraq [in Jordan. Where they have some exotic varieties. A 'Melkite Catholic Church' and a 'Roman Orthodox Church'] * Ankara, Washington in danger of 'opening the gates of hell' [Lebanon Daily Star roundup of Arab press. Joseph Samara in Lebanese As-Safir: "Every success for the US as we know it today is a blow to the world's yearning to manage its relations rationally, multilaterally and in conformity with agreed rules". Tishrin (Syria) on the challenge to the UN. Speculation on the possibility of further efforts to persuade President Hussein to step down] * With eyes focused on Iraq, Sharon kills off Palestinian aspirations [Lebanon Daily Star roundup of Israeli press. Yediot Ahronot on the superiority of Israeli over Arab moral values. Although the Jews support the coalition they feel sorry for the victims of the bombardment] AND, IN NEWS, 19-26/03/03 (5) THE ENEMY AT THE GATE * Top White House anti-terror boss resigns [Rand Beers - anything to do with Charlotte? - possibly because he thinks the anti-terror effort has been sidelined by Iraq] * This war is brought to you by ... [Powerful but very long account of the Project for a New American Century/American Enterprise Institute nexus by Pepe Escobar. I have only given extracts (including one on the influence of the philosopher Leo Strauss) but the whole thing is worth reading. Though the end, when he tries to explain G.Bush as simply a Fundamentalist Christian is a little disappointing. Has he never heard of the Skull and Bones Club?] * Coalitions of the Willing Are Our Best Hope [R.Perle inveighs against the UN for having put obstacles in the way of the liberation of Iraq. But in the UN's favour it could be said that without it it would have been much more difficult to oblige other Arab countries to co operate in the twelve year embargo that did so much to weaken Iraq, destroy its people and prepare it for the US takeover. A 'coalition of the willing' is fine for a one off adventure but not much use for the long haul. And Mr Perle himself probably wouldn't be very good at putting together coalitions of the willing since he finds it difficult to conceal his contempt for the other peoples of the world, as for example, 'the likes of Syria, Cameroon, Angola, Russia, China and France.' Mr Perle has not yet learned that the art of Imperialism requires a considerable ability to engage in hypocrisy and flattery. Which is why the clintonites are better at it. A shorter version of this article appeared in The Guardian.] * Ideologues reshape world over breakfast [Messrs Kristol, Perle and Ledeen count their chickens and dream of further attacks on Iran and Syria] * Washington The United States has been in direct negotiations with generals... ['In some cases, one official said, U.S. emissaries have called the wives of Iraqi generals when their husbands weren't home ...'] * 11 US Congress Members Vote No on Resolution of War Support ['Along with backing for the troops, the resolution expressed "unequivocal support" for Bush as commander in chief. It praised his "firm leadership and decisive action" in the military action "as part of the ongoing Global War on Terrorism."' And 392 reps fells for it] * U.S. searches for illegal Iraqis [Throughout the USA. The Americans don't like aggressive foreigners entering their country illegally] * Spending Request Envisions Long War ['$74.7 billion over the next six months on Iraq and related foreign aid and anti-terrorism matters ... Rep. David R. Obey (Wis.), the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said ... "I know people think this will pay for the war," he said. "It most definitely will not. This is, in my view, the first installment."'] * Channels of Influence [Role of Clear Channel Communications, 'a behemoth based in San Antonio that controls more than 1,200 stations and increasingly dominates the airwaves', in organising pro-war demonstrations (obliging us on our side of the fence to develop a taste for the Dixie Chicks)] * Perle's Ethics Standards as Adviser on Pentagon Board in Question [Richard Perle's involvement in 'Global Crossing, the bankrupt telecommunications company'] URLs ONLY: http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=81344 * U.S. may lose peace even if it wins war by Joseph Marques Gulf News, 20th March [Account of 'Guiding Principles for U.S. Post-Conflict Policy in Iraq' by The Council of Foreign Relations and the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University] http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c =StoryFT&cid=1045511944471&p=1012571727162 * Gulf war, the sequel: a transformed America puts its new doctrine of pre-emptive aggression into action by James Harding Financial Times, 21st March [This article may be worth reading as a compendium of the illusions many people entertain about the US which, we are told, only ever fought wars in response to attacks from other nations. It begins with a radical misinterpretation of the UN Gulf War (Mr Harding thinks this was fought in order to liberate Kuwait). It refers to 'the US's one imperialist adventure, the Spanish-American war of 1898.' It quotes Eisenhower attacking the notion of the pre emptive strike. But the Eisenhower quote is clearly saying that there's no point in making a theory of it because if the war is necessary it should be fought and an excuse can always be found (what distinguishes the present crisis is the difficulty they've had finding the excuse). Robert Kennedy is quoted condemning pre-emptive defence at the time of the Cuban missile crisis as if pre-emptive defence wasn't the whole point. And what was the US embargo on Japan that resulted in the attack on Pearl Harbour if it wasn't a case of pre-emptive defence, at a moment when the Japanese certainly wanted nothing better than good relations with the US?] THE LAST OF THE NO FLY ZONES * U.S. Warplanes Hit Southern Iraq Targets [Wednesday 19th march in suitably vague territory 'in southern Iraq'. This is presumably the last of the pre-war hit-and-run raids on Iraqi defences] AND, IN NEWS, 19-26/03/03 (6) THE FAITHFUL FRIEND * Iraq - Morgan urges ethnic harmony [Rhodri Morgan pins his colours to the pro-war mast and doesn't think the opinion of the Welsh Assembly is a matter of any interest] * UK Prime Minister's Address to the Nation ['Some say if we act, we become a target. The truth is, all nations are targets. Bali was never in the front line of action against terrorism. America didn't attack Al Qaida. They attacked America.' The terrorist target in Bali was of course a place frequented by Australians; and the US clearly possesses economic and military dominance of that part of the world in which most members of the Al Qaida live. Note also 'Our commitment to the post-Saddam humanitarian effort will be total.' With its echo of the promise not to walk away from the people of Afghanistan ...] * Bush and Blair's differing designs for a secure world [Philip Stephens in the Financial Times sees Prime Minister Blair as working for a new multilateral world order but observes that this isn't what President Bush seems to have in mind. The trouble is that Mr Blair's method is to engage Mr Bush with the nations of the world by getting said nations to co operate 'willingly' with whatever Mr Bush happens to want them to do: 'Staunch European backing in return for US multilateralism is the only solid foundation for geostrategic security.' It looks as though the process by which those who supported the UN war of 1991 and the NATO war of 1998 begin to understand the ways of US imperialism is likely to be long and slow.] Trust Tony's judgment [By former President Clinton. The article should have appeared last week but I missed it and it deserves to be preserved for posterity as proof that the difference between the School of Clinton-Gore-Blair, and that of Bush-Rumsfeld-Cheney is little more than a difference in the degree of duplicity. When the chips are down they will all stick together] URL ONLY: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?storyID=3251626&thesection=news&t hesubsection=dialogue * I am burning with fury because my country has been betrayed by YASMIN ALIBHAI-BROWN New Zealand Herald, 25th March [The country YASMIN ALIBHAI-BROWN is referring to is Britain: 'Dollars cannot make up for freedom and self-determination being violated. And the proud people of this country, and of Iraq, will soon understand this'] UNWILLING INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY * Canada watches war from sidelines ['It is the first time Canada has stayed out of a major U.S.-led conflict since the Vietnam War.'] * Listening Devices Are Found in EU Offices * Blair and Chirac talk as war begins [French resentment at Mr Blair's effort to foist blame for the start of the war on them] * Iraq neighbours told not to endanger stability [Account of EU summit: 'At France's insistence, the statement omitted any mention of responsibility for the war or whether Iraq had failed to take the opportunity to disarm peacefully -- a clause Britain had sought to justify its participation in the assault.' Signor Berlusconi shows us clearly the stuff he is made of: '"I think that with a more realistic policy, we could have avoided this division since the United States had a determination against which it was not possible to oppose a different will," he told reporters.' Freedom is the recognition of necessity] * Schröder wins parliamentary backing over German troops [on supplying AWACs to Turkey. Though the decision will be reconsidered if Turkey enters the Kurdish Autonomous Zone] * World gov'ts snub US request to expel Iraqi diplomats ['The Netherlands, Poland and Portugal, which the United States has identified as members of a "coalition of the willing" backing the war in Iraq, also turned down the request.'] * Bulgarian Prime Minister addresses the country about Iraq [Disagreement between Prime Minister and President of Bulgaria, supposedly one of the most willing of the coalition] * Brussels warns it will withdraw its crews [from Turkey, if the Turks enter Iraq (or rather, if more Turks enter Iraq, since they've been going pretty freely back and forth for the past twelve years)] * Nigerian Islamic clerics urge dollar boycott in favour of euro over Iraq war AND, IN NEWS, 19-26/03/03 (7) UNWILLING TURKS * Turkish leader rules out U.S. use of air bases ['But he turned down a Pentagon request to let American warplanes use Turkish air bases and postponed any consideration of a U.S. ground deployment in Turkey indefinitely ... because U.S. officials refused to revive the $6 billion aid package'] * Transatlantic rivalry has put the Turks in a bind [Account of conflicting pressures Turkey is under from US and EU] * Turkey gives U.S. military airspace use [but the resolution is linked to the resolution to send Turkish troops into the Kurdish Autonomous Zone and it 'will not allow U.S. warplanes to use Turkish air bases or refuel in Turkey. The United States, for example, will not be able to use the 50 warplanes it has at Incirlik air base in southern Turkey'. The decision has not yet been made as to when the airspace will be opened] * US "furious" with Turkey over stalled overflight permission: officials ['"We are beyond frustration with Turkey for its obstructionism at what is a critical point in the war," the official said. "We really need to get these overflights to drop our guys into northern Iraq."' But Turkey, alas, also wants to drop its guys into northern Iraq] * Turkey, US deadlocked over overflights ['Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's armed forces chief and other senior officials were due to meet to discuss the overflights in Ankara later on Friday. Turkey would inform Washington of its position following the meeting ... Diplomatic sources said Turkey was demanding detailed information of every overflight, its timing and nature of the aircraft and its load. The United States considered the degree of detail went beyond the demands of safety. Other diplomats said Turkey wanted a joint memorandum of understanding linking the overflights to broad Turkish freedom to operate in northern Iraq. ... British Defence Minister Geoff Hoon said Turkey was being "positive and helpful" in talks'] * High tension as Turks mass on Iraq border ENIGMATIC IRANIANS * The man behind the new Iran-US entente on Iraq [Account of Ahmad Chalabi's 'public relations consultant', Francis Brooke, telling us how by a combination of shameless flattery and fantasies about the virtues of US political culture he managed to win the Iranians over to support for the war (though somehow he seems to have failed to win over Iran's chief Iraqi ally, the SCIRI, despite years of association through the INC). Chalabi expresses surprise that the Iranians seemed more interested in Brooke than they were in himself, but since he is American, they probably just assumed that he must be the organgrinder] * War sirens herald Iran's hour of revenge [Lebanese commentator reckons Iran is positioning itself to pick up a few pieces out of the Iraqi wreckage. But is his thesis of an Iranian-US rapprochement undermined by the anti-US turn taken by the SCIRI?] * Mujahedin-E Khalq explores options UNWILLING SHIA * Shia group refuses to support US [Mohammad Baqir Hakim of the Supreme Assembly for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SAIRI) tells Al Jazeera 'that because the war defied international public opinion as well as UN Security Council resolutions, "we can consider it an aggressive war"'] * Iraqi Shiite opposition will not fight alongside US against Baghdad: leader ['Hakim told the Qatari television station that because the war defied international public opinion as well as UN Security Council resolutions, "we can consider it an aggressive war."' But the article goes on to say rather strangely that, owing to an American change of heart, 'Both SAIRI and one of the main Kurdish opposition groups said earlier Saturday that the Iraqi opposition would be allowed to rule the country immediately after Saddam is ousted from power'] AND, IN NEWS, 19-26/03/03 (8) WILLING KURDS * Kurdish leader demands 'partnership' with U.S. [Djowhar Salem, secretary of the political bureau for the Kurdistan Democratic Party. But does he really think the US will allow the Kurds a 'partnership' incontrolling the oilfields of Kirkuk and Mosul?] * Kurdish Sheik [Mullah Krekar] in Iraqi 'Suicide Bombers' Threat * Turks vote over US access to airspace [Extract in which Barzani denies the story that Kurdish troops had been placed under US command: 'He also said that Kurdish forces were prepared to defy US insistence not to move into the key cities of Kirkuk and Mosul after the initial bombardment and would not tolerate any US attempt to stop Kurds returning to their ancestral homes there.'] * Norwegian Police Arrest Kurdish Leader [Mullah Krekar] * In northern Iraq, Kurdish military force is mostly nonexistent * Special forces attempting to cut off Kirkuk, say Kurds * Northern Iraqi cities of Mosul, Kirkuk bombed * Missiles clobber wrong faction [It staggers belief that the US should target Khurmal after Colin Powell had wrongly identified it at the Security Council meeting of 5th Feb. The NY Times had an article on the panic this caused in the town ('One wrong word, one fearful village' by C.J. Chivers, see News, 12-19/02/03 (1)) and the US assured us they knew all along that Khurma wasn't a terrorist centre ('to hear US officials tell it, there seems virtually no chance the Pentagon regards Khurmal as a potential target.') And now ... (and what prostitutes, prostitutes, prostitutes, the PUK are. The Kurdish Social Democratic Party at least seem to be something a little better)] * 500,000 Displaced in Northern Iraq * Iraq tries to confine Kurds [Life of terror for Kurds in Kirkuk] * U.S. troops descend on northern Iraq * Kurds celebrate Nowruz and affirm solidarity with Iraq [Kurds in Lebanon, who don't seem to have quite the same angle on things as their brothers in Iraq: 'This year Nowruz has turned into an expression of solidarity with the Iraqi people and with the Kurds in northern Iraq, against the US and British-led offensive against Iraq.'] * Art and war become entwined [Account of the Kurdish film maker Bahman Ghobadi, who made A Time for Drunken Horses and a new film, Marooned in Iraq] * Iran Turns Away Militant Group [Iran cuts off previous support for Ansar while US and PUK prepare for big assault on them] * Islamic group hit in error relocates * Iraqi army proving stubborn in the north too ['The PUK were also privately saying that secret contacts with Iraqi officers would yield a mass surrender in the early stages of war. But one military source here admitted that, when the PUK tried to negotiate a surrender on the first day of the war, they just got shot at ...]' AND, IN NEWS, 19-26/03/03 (9) THE COURT OF NEBUDCHADNEZZAR * Saddam Offered Conditional Step-down before Bush Issued Ultimatum: Report * Aziz slams reports of defection * Ruthless gambler rolls his final deadly dice [Account of Saddam Hussein by Andrew Cockburn. Does one detect a little note of grudging admiration? eg in the reference to: 'the staff recruited by Saddam to administer the country. They have been an impressive group. Such individuals as Amer Rashid, until recently the Oil Minister, or Amir Saadi, chief negotiator with the weapons inspectors, or Naji Sabri, the Foreign Minister, are testament to their master's eye for talent.'] * Out with Saddam. In with Party Politics [Hints of a party emerging from within Iraq to replace the Baath Party (though in the New World Order it will only be allowed to function if it isn't anti-American, and it won't represent anything of substance in Iraq unless it is anti American] * Qusai injured in first allied raid [according to reports passed on by SCIRI. And a nephew of S.Hussein defects to Jordan] * The west has given Saddam the role he always longed for [Said Aburish gives the case for Saddam Hussein: 'In essence Saddam achieved all the traditional ambitions of Iraq. He succeeded in nationalising the country's oil industry, managed to unify the country (albeit through police state methods) and stabilised relations with all of its covetous neighbours. In the process, for the first time he created an Iraqi identity.'] LAMENTATIONS OF THE PROPHETS * War in Iraq a crime, says Vatican ["They are preparing to reply with thousands of bombs to a people that has been asking for bread for the last 12 years."] * 15,000 pour from offices and shops to protest war [In Australia. Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra ...] * Millions swell anti-war protests [and Kurds celebrate Naw Ruz in Finsbury Park] * I was a naive fool to be a human shield for Saddam * Nobel Winners Arrested at White House War Protest ['Mairead Corrigan Maguire, who won the prize in 1976 for peace activism in the Northern Ireland conflict, and Jody Williams, a 1997 winner for her work to ban land mines'] AND, IN NEWS, 19-26/03/03 (10) BBC CHRONOLOGY 20th-26th March Note 22nd March: ['1220: US military spokesman says southern Iraqi town of Nasiriya has fallen. ... 1255: The BBC's David Willis says US and UK forces are now confident they have taken control of Iraq's second city, Basra. He said hundreds of young Iraqi men applauded allied troops as they entered Basra, and that hundreds of soldiers have surrendered.'] AND, IN NEWS, 19-26/03/03 (11) JOURNALS OF THE PLAGUE YEAR * Web logs offer up-close and uncensored views on the war [Though the examples offered don't stray very far from the straight and narrow of mainstream journalism] * Al-Jazeera screens gruesome footage of battle casualties [mainly in Basra] * Iraq displays dead and captured US soldiers * NYSE shows Al-Jazeera the door [New York Stock Exchange expels free lance reporters working for al Jazeera, whose English language website has also been targetted by hackers] * Nasdaq Stock Market Turns Away Al Jazeera RADIO FREE EUROPE ARAB PRESS REVIEW 20th-26th March AND, IN NEWS, 19-26/03/03 (12) WIDER IMPLICATIONS * After the Shock and Awe, next will come the despair [Matthew Parris in The Times advances an intelligent Tory argument that Shock and Awe cannot permanently bludgeon the world because it cannot be a permanent state: ''force does not persuade, it cows ... I do not excuse the terrorist when I say that terrorism, which is not a natural way for humans to behave, is usually associated with popular despair. Individual terrorists may simply be wicked, but they will not get the community cover they need without endemic despair.'] * 'We are risking a gulf between the West and the Islamic world' [Extract from interview with Robin Cook on the badness of Cheney, Rumnsfeld etc. As opposed to Clinton. Who was a virtuous person] * Children are the real victims [Briefings by aid agencies] * You should have known we'd fight [War will be followed by civil war. Burhan al-Chalabi includes a horrific description (from a Nationalist point of view) of the Kurdish/Communist rising in Mosul in 1959-60: 'This is the fate that awaits "liberated" Iraq. Only today, the Kurds - backed by the US - have even more violent scores to settle.'] * No easy way out [Dan Plesch argues for the superiority of massive force (Powell doctrine) over reliance on air power (Rumsfeld). He says: 'Official Washington never absorbed the fact that in Kosovo air power failed to destroy the Yugoslav army'. Which is true. In Kosovo itself, the Yugoslav army was winning. But air power still won in the end by targetting the civilian infrastructure in Serbia. For the moment USUK has done that to Basra but not yet to Baghdad. The reference to USUK forces crossing the marshlands to Kut probably leaves Mr Hussein wishing he hadn't drained them] IRAQI DIASPORA * What Iraqi exiles think [A variety of opinions from The Observer] AND, IN NEWS, 19-26/03/03 (13) ASSET STRIPPING * Report: U.S. Plans to Tap $40Bln Iraq Account [What is to happen to the escrow account and to existing oil contracts?] * UN to have no political power in postwar Iraq [though it will be 'expected to help pick up the bill ... Answering a question, he (Marc Grossman) said he hoped that one of the first decisions of a new Iraqi government would be to recognise the state of Israel.' Democracy, where are you?] * UK asks UN to aid postwar building [Proposal that UN would administer use of Iraq's money for humanitarian aid: 'The US government aid agency would dominate the aid contracts, but he had received asssurances that the US would then subcontract at least 50% of the work to other countries, especially Britain.'] * Annan seeks to take over running of Iraqi oil-for-food programme [on the problems of the continued administration of the Oil for Food programme] * Blow for Short in battle with Pentagon ['Without a UN resolution, Whitehall lawyers say that the US and UK occupying forces would have no legal right to run the country's institutions. "There is no legal mandate for that sort of activity," said one Whitehall official. "It's all quite bizarre."'] * Security Council tries to restart food program [Everyone pretending this doesn't pose political problems. But it does pose immense political problems] * U.S. Battles Calls for Emergency UN Session on Iraq [Attempts to call a meeting of the General Assembly] * Allies split over Iraq's fate [US wants a military dictatorship, UK a UN administration. But how can the UN administer a territory won by a process of illegal conquest? In outlining the proposed division of the country into three zones, the article says they would coincide with 'the three administrative areas of the old Ottoman empire: Mosul in the north, Baghdad in the centre and Basra in the south' - which means that Mosul and presumably Kirkuk would be in with the Kurds] * UBS to hand over frozen Iraqi money ['about $1.74 billion (SFr2.41 billion) without interest, comes from transactions between US oil firms and the Iraqi state oil company', and Swiss bank UBS is to hand it over to the US. On what possible grounds?] INEFFECTUAL LAW * Iraq War Illegal but Trial Unlikely, Lawyers Say [But when Michael Bothe, chairman of the German Society for International Law refers to 'the ban on the use of force, which I see as one of the most significant cultural achievements of the last century', one wonders what planet he's been living on for the past fifty years; and when Richard Goldstone says "The implications are serious for the future of international law and the credibility of the U.N., both being ignored by the most powerful nation in the world" he is forgetting that he himself, by presiding over the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal was giving credibility to the last war launched by USUK et al in defiance of the UN Charter. The truth of the matter is given by Laetia Husson, a researcher at the International Law Center at the Sorbonne when she says: "There is little chance of condemnation by the United Nations because they will be paralyzed by the U.S. veto in the Security Council"] * UN is being hampered by Annan's weak leadership [Ali Abunimah in the Lebanon Daily Star arguing that the UN Security Council proved its relevance by denying legitimacy to the USUK invasion, but he then quotes K.Annan as saying 'war has come to Iraq for the third time in a quarter of a century."' He comments: 'It is as if war were not the result of human decisions, but rather a bad spell of weather ... Either the US attack on Iraq is legal or it is not legal. Annan has studiously avoided taking a position, resorting instead to formulas that are utterly devoid of content, but whose principal effect is to spare him Washington's wrath.'] _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk