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[casi] News, 19-26/03/03 (2)

News, 19-26/03/03 (2)


*  Bush says Iraq war has begun
*  War on Iraq launched
*  No Sign of Fire at South Iraqi Oilfields-Witnesses
*  US plans blitzkrieg tactics to overpower Baghdad
*  CIA Had Fix on Hussein
*  Baghdad Set Ablaze
*  News analysis: A change of plans
*  Relentless strikes turn Baghdad night into day
*  14 dead in cruise missile attack in Baghdad


*  Iraqi tribes are their leader's secret weapon
*  Umm Qasr: a line In the sand
*  Exiled Iraqis want to fight 'invaders'
*  Jihad in Mesopotamia


by James Harding and James Politi in Washington, Paul Eedle in Baghdad and
FT Reporters in New York
Financial Times, 19th March

President George W. Bush announced the start of military action against Iraq
at 10.15pm in Washington on Wednesday, saying that attacks had been launched
against selected targets of military importance.

"On my orders, coalition forces have begun striking selected targets of
military importance to undermine Saddam Hussein's ability to wage war. These
are the opening stages of what will be a very long and concerted
campaign.""These are the opening stages of what will be a broad and
concerted campaign."

President Bush spoke some 45 minutes after anti-aircraft fire erupted around
the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, and just over two hours after the expiry of
his deadline ordering Mr Hussein to leave Iraq or be plunged into war.

Speaking from the Oval Office, the president warned that the "conflict could
be longer than some predict"  and that Mr Hussein had placed troops and
equipment in civilian areas. Mr Bush said that by using this tactic, Iraqi
leader had committed the "final atrocity against his people."

On Wednesday, US and British troops were reported to have moved into the
demilitarised buffer zone between Kuwait and Iraq, poised to launch a ground
invasion to follow an aerial assault on Baghdad and other targets. However,
there were no reports of troops crossing the border.

The commander of the US navy's 5th Fleet, one of the main platforms for
warplanes attacking Iraq, said US plans were based on the use of
"breathtaking speed, agility, precision and persistence".

Timothy Keating, vice-admiral, told reporters on the USS Abraham Lincoln:
"If we go, the plans we have are unlike anything anyone has ever seen


The imminence of conflict did nothing to blunt strong international
opposition to the war, led by France, Germany and Russia, at the United
Nations Security Council, where US and UK efforts to win a resolution
backing military action collapsed on Monday.

Bitterness between France and Britain especially is set to dominate a
European Union summit on Thursday night in Brussels. French officials warned
of "electricity in the air" after stinging attacks in recent days on
France's anti-war stance by British ministers.

Dominique de Villepin, French foreign minister, declared on Wednesday: "To
those who think that the scourge of terrorism will be eradicated through
what is done in Iraq, we say that they run the risk of failing in their
objective. An outbreak of force in such an unstable area can only exacerbate
the tensions and fractures on which terrorists feed."

Igor Ivanov, Russian foreign minister, invoked previous UN resolutions
demanding Iraqi disarmament and said: "Not one of these decisions authorises
the right to use force against Iraq outside the UN charter. Not one of them
authorises the violent overthrow of the leadership of a sovereign state."

The Security Council session, in which the US and British foreign ministers
were pointedly absent, heard the last report from Hans Blix, leader of the
UN inspectors, who until Tuesday were overseeing Iraq's reluctant
disarmament programme.

Joschka Fischer, German foreign minister, insisted it would have been
possible to disarm Iraq peacefully. "Germany emphatically rejects the
impending war."


US President George W Bush has launched war on Baghdad, vowing to "disarm
Iraq and to free its people".

Mr Bush delivered a live television address shortly after explosions rocked
the Iraqi capital at 0534 local time (0234 GMT), signalling the start of the
US-led campaign to topple Saddam Hussein.

US military sources have told the BBC that five key members of the Iraqi
regime, including Saddam Hussein, were targeted in the first attacks.

It is not known whether the targets were hit and what damage might have been

Hours later, Iraqi television broadcast what it said was a live television
address by Saddam Hussein, who called on the Iraqi people to resist the

"I don't need to remind you what you should do to defend our country," the
speaker said.

"Let the unbelievers go to hell... you will be victorious, Iraqi people," he

The BBC defence correspondent says the attack that was carried out was on a
much smaller scale than had been expected for the opening of the conflict,
and it had probably been mounted at short notice when US military planners
spotted a good opportunistic target.

Speaking from the Oval Office, President Bush said American and coalition
forces were in the "early stages of military operations" and had struck
"targets of military importance".

He promised a "broad and concerted campaign" and said the US would prevail.

But, he warned, the campaign could be "longer and more difficult than some

As dawn broke in Baghdad, anti-aircraft artillery peppered the sky as deep,
heavy thuds were heard in the outskirts of the city.

The same target, in the east, is reported to have been hit three or four

Republic of Iraq Radio in Baghdad said that "the evil ones, the enemies of
God, the homeland and humanity, have committed the stupidity of aggression
against our homeland and people".

Reports quoting American military officials said planes had struck "targets
of opportunity" which were thought to be occupied by elements of the Iraqi

US officials said Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from F-117 Nighthawk
stealth fighter bombers.

French news agency AFP quoted a Pentagon official as saying the first
strikes were "a limited thing - it ain't A-Day," referring to the planned
massive air campaign.

A BBC correspondent in Baghdad said anti-aircraft guns were in action for
about 15 minutes, after which the city became quiet again.

After the first strike, a large pall of black smoke was seen in the south of

At about the same time as the strikes began, the US military appeared to
take over a frequency of Iraqi radio with an Arabic-speaking presenter
announcing: "This is the day we have been waiting for."

Our correspondent in Baghdad says the timing of the attack is unusual -
coming as it did in daylight.

He says traffic remains normal and people are beginning to appear on the


Reuters, 20th March

KUWAIT: There are no signs of fire at Iraqi oilfields near the border with
Kuwait that Washington said may have been set on fire by Iraq, Reuters
eyewitnesses said on Thursday. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said there
are indications Iraq may have set three to four oil wells in the south of
the country.

But a Reuters correspondent, stationed about 60 km southwest of the Iraqi
port city of Basra, said: "Looking through a long-range night vision lens,
there is no evidence of fires at the Iraqi oilfields bordering Kuwait that
we can see, or at least 50 kilometers beyond that."

"If you look in the direction of the Rumaila oilfield (in Iraq) there is
nothing on the horizon and no indication of fire," a second Reuters
correspondent at the same location said.

The correspondents also said they had heard large explosions coming from the
direction of Basra, but said there was still no evidence of oilfield fires
following the sounds of the blasts. (Reporting by Michael Georgy and
Rosalind Russell)

by Tim Ripley
The Scotsman, 20th March

AS THE first battalions of allied troops moved into the demilitarised zone
yesterday in readiness for the onslaught on Iraq, the wide-ranging nature of
the assault became apparent.

With US air power reaching deep into Iraq to destroy strategic air defences
across its northern, western and southern borders, it is clear the Pentagon
wants a very quick victory with Saddam Hussein being overthrown in a matter
of days.

The offensive involves near simultaneous air, land, sea and special forces
attacks on the pillars of the dictator's regime. US officers describe the
Iraqi state as "a rotten house", which only requires a "violent kick" to
bring it crashing down.

As the US-led offensive unfolds, we will find out if the Pentagon's planners
have done their homework.

THE opening move of the offensive is a series of massive rolling air strikes
throughout Iraq to devastate Baghdad's air defences and finish off the Iraqi
air force once and for all.

Thousands of Tomahawk cruise missiles and satellite-guided Joint Direct
Attack Munition (JDAM) bombs dropped by B-2 stealth bombers will rain down
on Iraqi command and control centres in Baghdad and other cities to blind
Saddam Hussein.

Spreading confusion in the Iraqi high command is a key objective for the US
forces to prevent them from organising resistance to a ground attack.

The firepower available to execute this strike is enormous, with more than a
dozen B-2 stealth bombers, some 30 massive B-52 heavy bombers and about 70
combat jets based around Iraq's borders and several thousand Tomahawk
missiles loaded on ships and submarines in the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea and

Some 3,000 individual targets - airfields, air defence missile batteries,
radar sites, communication links, command posts, arms factories,
presidential palaces, ammunition dumps - were expected to be hit in the
opening hours of the war.

Backing up these bombers are hundreds of radar surveillance and intelligence
gathering aircraft to monitor Iraqi reactions and vector even more strike
aircraft to neutralise rapidly any emerging threats, such as the movement of
Iraqi Scud missile launchers to target Israel or fighter sorties.

To add further to the confusion in the Iraqi high command, special forces
teams on the ground are moving to destroy more communications sites,
encouraging rebel groups to attack and foment dissent in the ranks of the
Iraqi army.

Jordan and Saudi Arabia are the main launch pad for these raids, allowing US
and British commandos to push deep into Iraq across the desert in the west
of the country.

>From the opening hours of the war, the US's Middle East commander, General
Tommy Franks, will aim to swamp Iraq's skies with waves of combat jets to
ensure the Iraqi air force remains on the ground and that no significant
force of enemy troops can move to intercept the US-led invasion force,
without being subjected to a devastating air attack.

Hundreds of air-refuelling tankers have the task of ensuring that US,
British and Australian fighters remain continuously on station over Iraq
from the start of the war until a new regime is installed in Baghdad.

ALMOST simultaneously with the unleashing of their air power, American and
British military commanders will send the 150,000 ground troops in Kuwait
forward to roll over the light defences along the border, opening the way
for a race to Baghdad by 65,000 US Army troops.

This advance is shaping up to be as unrelenting as the air offensive, with
troops of the 101st Airborne Division probing deep into Iraq to set up
forward bases for Apache helicopter gunships. Their job is to protect the
huge columns of US V Corps moving north from Kuwait. The 400 Abrams tanks of
the US 3rd Infantry Division will be followed by hundreds of huge fuel
tankers necessary to keep the armour rolling.

There are no major Iraqi troop concentrations between the Kuwait border and
Baghdad, so American commanders are confident that they will not have to
fight a major battle until they get to the gates of the Iraqi capital. Any
pockets of resistance are to be by-passed and mopped up by following
military police and light infantry. These isolated units will be offered the
chance to defect to the anti-Baghdad cause, or face devastating air strikes
by B 52 carpet-bombing or "Daisy Cutter" fuel air explosives.

The Americans expect to capture scores of stragglers during the advances and
have drafted in groups of Iraqi exiles to act as translators. One job of
these so-called "Free Iraqi Forces" personnel is to identify and separate
pro-Saddam loyalists from the rank and file who will be persuaded to defect.

WHILE the US Army streams north towards Baghdad, 60,000 US Marines and
30,000 British troops will be moving quickly to bottle up, and then disarm,
the 70,000 to 100,000 Iraqi troops based around Basra and further north in

The Iraqi army's III Corps has its headquarters in Basra city. It has three
divisions, the 6th Armoured, 51st Mechanised and 11th Infantry. To the
north, the Iraqi IV Corps with three divisions, the 10th Armoured, 14th and
18th Infantry, is based around Amara to contain the 12 year-old rebellion by
the marsh Arab fighters.

The Iraqi force is, on paper, heavily armed with some 650 tanks, 400
artillery pieces and 700 light armoured vehicles. Preventing these troops
interfering with the main US Army advance will be a top priority for Lt Gen
James Conway of the I Marine Expeditionary Force.

The Iraqi troops in the south are some the most poorly trained and
ill-equipped in Baghdad's army and they are not considered to be able to put
up serious resistance to the hi-tech British and US troops opposing them,
even after the appointment this week of the notorious General "Chemical"Ali
Hassan al-Majid as commander of the southern front.

The most serious resistance is likely to come from several thousand fighters
of the Popular Militia and Ba'ath Party hardliners inside Basra city. Late
last year Saddam Hussein appointed Walid Tawfiq al Nasseri, a trusted ally,
as governor of Basra, and, in recent weeks, small arms and rocket launchers
were distributed to regime loyalists.

Further key objectives of the British and US Marines will be securing the
huge Rumailah oil field to the west of Basra and the Iranian border on the
city's eastern edge. Basra is a teeming city of some 700,000, mainly Shia
Arabs, who 12 years ago, rose in rebellion against Baghdad. They suffered
grievously when Saddam Hussein sent his Republican Guard to crush the
revolt, after President Bush snr indicated he would give the Iraqi dictator
a free hand inside his country.

The reaction of the Shia population to the arrival of the American and
British troops will be the key to whether the city can be taken quickly or
if bloody street battles occur.

The terrain around Basra is open desert and will be ideal tank country for
Britain's 7 Armoured Brigade, but once through the city it is a very
different matter. Rivers and marshes will make road movement impossible and
US and British troops will have to move by helicopters, landing craft or
hovercraft to push past Basra to Amara.

THE decision by the Turkish parliament in February not to authorise the
movement of some 65,000 US troops through their country to open a northern
front against Iraq seemed to upset a major part of the Pentagon's war plan.

Until the last moment, there were still doubts whether the Turks would allow
the US over flight rights - perhaps just an air corridor - to launch air
strikes against targets in northern Iraq from its two aircraft carriers in
the Mediterranean Sea or to fly in airborne forces to support Kurdish
Peshmerga fighters of the KDP and PUK.

Several hundred US special forces are in the Kurdish safe haven scouting out
the Iraqi frontlines and selecting targets for air attacks.

WITH the north and south of Iraq in open revolt or occupied by US and
British troops, General Franks hopes to have a clear run at Baghdad.

If the relentless bombing has not broken the morale of the Iraqi regime by
the time the US Army approaches Baghdad, American helicopter-borne troops
will quickly move to establish positions ringing the city to cut off the
escape of members of Saddam Hussein's closest supporters.

Every indication is that the US Army is reluctant to storm Baghdad, rather
allowing defecting Iraqi army units to finish off any die-hards.

In this confused situation, stopping revenge attacks against Baghdad
loyalists will be a vital task of US and British troops, who have to switch
instantly from "war fighting" to "peacekeeping" to ensure a pro-US
government is installed.

WHILE General Franks will be hoping his attack plan "runs on the rails" and
within a few days Saddam Hussein's regime will be on the verge of collapse,
many US officers clearly recognise it is a high-risk venture.

Although the air power available to the US is far more capable than in 1991,
the Pentagon has dispatched only a third of the ground troops. This gives
General Franks far less room to react to surprise Iraqi counter attacks, bad
weather or heavy casualties.

In the past two weeks 50,000 Republican Guard have been digging in around
Baghdad rather than trying to repeat the failed strategy from 1991 of
confronting the hi-tech American and British forces in the open desert.

The Iraqi strategy is clearly to try to bog down the allies in prolonged
street battles for Baghdad, with the intention of repeating the success of
the Palestinians against the Israelis in Beirut in 1982.

Without a quick victory in Baghdad, the American and British would find
themselves having to lay siege to the city, while at the same time trying to
pacify the rest of the country.

This would severely strain the manpower of the relatively small US-led
invasion force. The heavy civilian casualties that street fighting would
generate would be recorded by the global media, further inflaming opinion in
Arab world and fracturing support for the US-led war. Only when the US has
cleared out the last remnants of the regime will the US be able to secure
any sort of international recognition, particularly in the Arab world, for
the government they put in place in Baghdad.

Starting the war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq is easy. US supremacy in
airpower, surveillance and communications ensures they will be able to
devastate Iraq's air defences and neutralise any attempt by the Iraqi army
to mass in resistance to the US invasion.

The end-game in Baghdad will be far more difficult. It will shape the nature
and legitimacy of the post-Saddam regime.

How the Americans handle the messy end to the war will be far more important
that the hi tech fireworks display of the opening shots.

by Barton Gellman and Dana Priest
Washington Post, 20th March

Shortly before 4 p.m. yesterday, Director of Central Intelligence George J.
Tenet offered President Bush the prospect -- improbable to the point of
fantasy, yet suddenly at hand -- that the war against Iraq might be
transformed with its opening shots. The CIA, Tenet said, believed it had a
fix on President Saddam Hussein.

Hussein and others in "the most senior levels of the Iraqi leadership,"
ordinarily among the most elusive of men, had fallen under U.S.
surveillance. The intelligence was unforeseen and perishable, presenting
what one administration official called "a target of opportunity" that might
not come again. Not only did the agency know where Hussein was, Tenet said,
but it also believed with "a high probability" that it knew where he would
be for hours to come -- cloistered with advisers in a known private
residence in southern Baghdad.

Bush listened calmly -- as his aides portrayed the scene -- as Tenet
described the sources and limits of his information, the likelihood that it
was true and the length of time Hussein could be expected to spend at the
site before moving to his next refuge. The Iraqi president, a man of many
palaces, avoids them at moments of maximum risk. There was no guarantee at
all, Tenet said, that his whereabouts would be pinpointed again.

For the next three hours, Bush and his senior national security advisers
tore up the carefully orchestrated schedule of violence that the U.S.
Central Command had honed for months. Those present in the Oval Office,
officials said, included Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Colin L.
Powell, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, national security adviser
Condoleezza Rice, White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. and Air
Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

When Bush signed the launch order at 6:30 p.m., it had a hastily prepared
insert. The first shots would strike through the roof and walls of an
anonymous Baghdad home and deep beneath it in hopes of decapitating the
Iraqi government in a single blow.

"If you're going to take a shot like this, you're going to take a shot at
the top guy," said a government official with knowledge of the sequence of
events. "It was a fairly singular strike."

Aboard Navy warships waiting in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, operations
officers reprogrammed Tomahawk cruise missiles on the fly with digital
target data transmitted from CIA headquarters at Langley. A squadron of
stealthy F-117A strike fighters pulled pilots from their ready rooms and
gave them new mission briefs. The aircraft and missiles each carried
satellite-guided warheads. The bombs aboard the F-117s were 2,000-pound
"bunker busters" designed to penetrate layers of stone and steel.

Three hours after Bush gave the order, at 5:33 a.m. local time, southern
Baghdad was rocked by a series of closely spaced explosions, witnesses in
the city said. The results were unknown. Iraqi television, competing for air
time with the newly American-flagged frequencies of Iraqi radio, reported
within hours of the blasts that Hussein was alive and well and would shortly
address the nation. The broadcast began about 12:30 a.m. today Eastern time.

U.S. officials cautioned that it would be some time before intelligence
could assess with certainty what the U.S. strike had hit, and who had been

The 1991 Persian Gulf War included hundreds of strikes at "leadership
targets," but President George H.W. Bush and his advisers did not
acknowledge they were aimed at Hussein specifically. After the war, it
became clear that the U.S.-led air campaign had tried and failed on dozens
of occasions to pinpoint attacks on the Iraqi president.

But those attacks were not the first of the war, which of necessity targeted
Iraqi air defenses and the command and control of Iraqi fighting forces. If
the CIA had come across yesterday's intelligence windfall in 1991, the U.S.
military could not have struck the Bahgdad residence fast enough.

Tomahawk cruise missiles could have spun up their jet engines, and the
gyroscopes to guide their flight, but there would have been no way to enter
precision-targeting data in minutes or even hours. At the time, the missiles
required three-dimensional terrain maps that took days to construct.

In the decades since the Gulf War, the Tomahawk's guidance system has been
upgraded to follow Global Positioning System satellites instead. The Navy
can download new digital coordinates direct from the intelligence
directorate of U.S. Central Command. "Actionable intelligence," the bane of
a high-technology military faced with the wily and elusive low-tech foe,
requires far less lead time in the present war.

Whatever the result of yesterday's strike, officials said, there will be
more rapid re-targetings and more unexpected opportunities before the war is

Staff writers Walter Pincus, Vernon Loeb, Mike Allen and Karen DeYoung
contributed to this report.

by Naseer Al-Nahr
Palestine Chronicle, 21st March

BAGHDAD - The United States attacked key targets in Baghdad with cruise
missiles yesterday, setting government buildings on fire in an attempt to
bring to an end the rule of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Several explosions were heard here near government buildings as cruise
missiles swooped down. There was relatively little Iraqi anti-aircraft fire.
Missiles flew in at a very low altitude and hit several targets. Buildings
were ablaze in the southeast of the city and around the Planning Ministry in
the center of Baghdad.

US missiles targeted Saddam's palaces and family residence, including the
home of his elder son Uday, Iraq radio said. The Iraqi Army reported that
four of its soldiers were killed and six were wounded in the US-led attacks.

Fire fighters and ambulances drove to the scene but the flames roared out of
control and smoke rose high into the night sky.

It was the second round of US attacks after Saddam defied a US ultimatum to
leave the country. The previous raid at dawn yesterday targeted the Iraqi
president himself and his senior leadership but the results were not clear.

The main offensive was still being awaited here. US officials had vowed a
massive assault against Iraqi leaders and soldiers to the point that they
would be too dazed and demoralized to resist. That barrage had yet to unfold
in its full ferocity.

In Washington, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the initial missile
and bombing attacks in and around Baghdad were just a first taste of what
would soon be unleashed.

"What will follow will not be a repeat of any other conflict. It will be of
a force and scope and scale that has been beyond what has been seen before,"
he said.

An Iraqi military spokesman said that a US helicopter had been shot down.

"An American aircraft of the Sikorsky type used in carrying troops and
eqipment was downed as it was trying to infiltrate Iraqi airspace to carry
out aggressive operations. Long live Iraq," the spokesman said in a

The Iraqi statement gave no further details. US military officials were not
immediately available for comment.

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. manufactures the Black Hawk helicopter, which is
used by US forces to fly troops into combat.

Arab News in Baghdad heard the first explosions at 5.30 a.m., when many
Iraqis were performing Fajr prayers in the local mosques. Black smoke
billowed from one eastern district. The sound of air the raids came before
the sirens were heard. There were explosions in many parts of the city.

"These are opening stages of what will be a broad and concerted campaign,"
Bush had earlier said in a televised address to the Americans.

Baghdad retaliated weakly by firing six missiles into northern Kuwait.

A defiant Saddam appeared on state television within hours of the air raids,
calling on his people to resist their attackers.

"You will be victorious against your enemies," proclaimed Saddam, dressed in
military garb and black beret. "We will resist the invaders... the devil
will be defeated."

"Unsheath your swords," he told Iraqis, accusing Bush ‹ "the tyrant of the
century" ‹ of committing "a crime against humanity".

In northern Iraq, the leaders of the two Kurdish factions controlling the
area said their forces had taken up defensive lines in their region, which
has seen thousands of people pouring in from government-controlled areas.

The limited strikes followed reports from US intelligence operatives, who
had been secretly deployed in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq for weeks,
tracking the movements of senior Iraqi officials, a US official told

Following the missile strike, F-117 stealth fighter-bombers unleashed
900-kilogram (2,000 pound) bombs on their targets. US units have been making
every effort to encourage Iraqi troops to give themselves up or to show they
do not intend to fight back and were expecting to deal on the way to Baghdad
with Iraqi forces surrendering en masse.

Armed security and police forces were deployed in Baghdad, particularly
around government ministries, state buildings, offices of the ruling Baath
Party and Saddam's various palaces.

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

by Michael Gordon
International Herald Tribune, from The New York Times, 21st March

CAMP DOHA, KuwaitAmerican commanders put their attack plan into fast forward
Thursday as allied forces sought to reclaim an element of surprise and
respond to fears that Iraq would ignite its southern oil fields.

The assault that began Thursday night was actually scheduled to occur later
this week after several days of preparatory air strikes, probes and
psychological operations. But the attack was moved up after a cruise missile
strike ordered by President George W. Bush failed to kill Saddam Hussein.

A formation of more than 150,000 troops quickly moved to ready themselves
and their weapon systems to invade Iraq.

The Marines rushed to complete cutting slits in the sand berms and filling
in the tank ditches that separate Iraq and Kuwait. The army worked out the
final details of its plan to fire its ATACMS missile, a surface-to-surface
missile that is being used in combat for the first time with a potent
500-pound (225-kilogram) warhead.

The logistics system required to sup port, sustain and project the force was
quickly recalibrated to support early execution of the war plan.

Then at 8 p.m. Lieutenant General, David McKiernan, the allied land war
commander, held a classified video conference with General James Conway, the
commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and General William Scott
Wallace, the commander of the Fifth Corps to make sure their plans were in
synch. Salvos of cruise missiles were already flying toward Baghdad and the
beginning of the land operations was virtually at hand.

With an vast armada of helicopters, warplanes and salvos of sea-launched and
air launched cruise missiles and ATACMS missiles flying toward Iraq,
McKiernan focused on ''deconflicting the air space,'' the military's term
for making sure that its missiles and aircraft do not collide.

''We have got to get the air out in front of the ground force,'' McKiernan
said. ''I want to lead with recon. I want to make sure that the fires are
fully co ordinated and deconflicted.''

Two main factors appear to have led to the military speed up their
extraordinary complex and carefully calibrated plan. First, the military
received reports that there were several fires in the vicinity of the
Rumallah oil fields. One of the fires appeared to be in a trench full of oil
that the Iraqi military ignited to try to obscure the battlefield and
protect their forces from air strikes. Six of the more than 1,000 oil wells
in southern Iraq were on fire, fires that appeared to be deliberately set.

When the attack began U.S. officials said it was not clear if the fires were
part of a broader plan by Saddam's regime to torch the oil fields, but they
were not able to take any chances.

The Marines had been instructed earlier in the week to be ready to attack on
four hour's notice in case the Iraqis set the oil fields aflame as did they
did in 1991 in Kuwait. The early attack also seemed intended to help the
allied forces regain the initiative and maintain some element of surprise.

While the cruise missile attacks in Baghdad on Thursday night were pre
dictable, the timing of the land attack was not. Lead elements of Marines,
army and British forces moved into Iraq as soon as Tomahawk cruise missiles
began to hit Baghdad. The land assault was a striking contrast to the 1991
Gulf War when allied forces began their offensive after a 39 day air

But it was also different in another way: the degree of risk. When the U.S.
military began ground attacks in 1991 it had a much larger force and a more
limited objective: evicting the Iraqi forces from Kuwait. This time the
force is smaller and Saddam has his back against the wall.

Allied military commanders are well aware that it is difficult to deter a
regime they have publicly vowed to destroy.

Earlier Thursday, it was the Iraqis who had the initiative. They responded
to the Wednesday night cruise missile attacks on Baghdad by firing missiles
at the allied troops. A Seersucker missile exploded within 600 yards (600
meters) of Camp Commando, Conway's headquarters. The Chinese-made armament
was designed as anti-ship missile and the Iraqis fired it from Umm Qasr.
Shock waves from the explosion knocked down some troops at the camp.

Then two more surface-to-surface missiles ‹probably Ababil-100's ‹ were
fired. ''This is not a drill,'' blared ''Giant Voice,'' the loudspeaker
system at Camp Doha, McKiernan's headquarters. The staff put on their
chemical protective suits and gas marks and kept working. One of the
missiles was intercepted by a Patriot missile five miles from the camp. The
whoosh of the Patriot reverberated throughout the camp. The second missile
was intercepted by a Patriot further away in the desert.

By evening the allies' focus was on wresting the initiative back from the
Iraqis and moving ahead with attack plan. The air campaign unfolded as
expected, with the explosion of Tomahawk cruise missiles. The Iraqis have
concentrated so much of their surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft
artillery around Baghdad that air force officers have taken to calling it
the ''Super Mez,'' or missile engagement zone. One of the early tasks was to
disable the Iraqi air defenses and attack leadership targets in the capital.

The land-war attack was beginning to get underway at the same time. One of
the Marines' first tasks were to seize the high ground near Safwan, the site
where Iraqis formally offered their surrender after the 1991 Gulf War. The
Iraqis have used the site in recent weeks because of its commanding view of
the terrain below enabled them to monitor allied positions.

While the Marines were attacking, Navy SEALs moved to occupy off-shore oil
installations and the oil manifold on Al Faw Peninsula to prevent the Iraqis
from dumping oil into the Gulf, as they did in the last war. British Royal
Marines flew by helicopter to relieve the SEALS.

To the west, the army's Fifth Corps began to carry out its attacks. The
Fifth Corps's mission is to oversee the attack on Baghdad, but it is a long
way to go and there are some Iraqi units in the way. One unit that the corps
has to confront is Iraq's 11th Regular Army division at An Nasiriyah. There
have been reports that much of the division may be prepared to surrender.

The Fifth Corps sent out ground reconnaissance but an attack deep in Iraqi
territory by Apache helicopters from the 11th Attack Helicopter Regiment was
aborted because of weather.

The coalition ground forces are currently confronting the Third and Fourth
Corps from Iraq's Regular Army. The U.S. Army's Fifth Corps fired ATACMS
missiles at the Iraqi units' headquarters Thursday as Marine air support
paved the way for ground forces.

One strategic problem that the U.S. military faces is the absence of a
northern front. Turkey's reluctance to allow the deployment of U.S. troops
has prevented the army's 4th Infantry Division from deploying there, a
development that is of concern to U.S. planners, who had wanted to put
pressure on Saddam's regime from the north and also ensure that the Turks
and the Kurds in northern Iraq do not come to blows.

The United States has Special Forces in northern Iraq, but to reassure the
Kurds that the U.S. military has not forgotten about the Iraqi forces
deployed there the Nebubuchadnezzar Republican Guard division was attacked
with Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The sudden cruise missile attacks Bush ordered Wednesday night may have
weakened the regime but it did not deliver victory. That task, it seems, if
now left to the allied air and ground forces, who will have to advance on
Baghdad and take out the Iraqis the old fashioned way.

Toronto Star, 22nd March


"I was totally awed ... I've never, ever seen anything like that," said
retired U.S. Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded allied forces in that
conflict. The general, now an NBC commentator, watched the attack play out
on live TV, along with millions of viewers worldwide.


Though the first U.S. bombs were dropped Wednesday on Baghdad, the full
force of the American air war didn't begin until about 8:30 p.m. Baghdad
time last night.

Shock waves and ear-splitting explosions ripped through the city as missiles
slammed into many of the government buildings that stretch for several miles
along the Tigris River in the centre of the city. At one point, a mushroom
shaped cloud, the apparent result of a 2,000 pound conventional bomb, rose
into the air.

Hundreds of cruise missiles and high-tech "smart" bombs rained down on
dozens of structures that house various government ministries, military and
intelligence centres and the headquarters of Saddam's Baath Party.

Earlier in the day, members of the Iraqi leadership seemed to refuse to
acknowledge the enormity of what might await them.

Mahmud Diab Al-Ahmad, the minister of the interior, talked to journalists in
Baghdad as he held a short-stock silver-plated Kalashnikov automatic rifle.
He wore a khaki vest that held four clips for the Kalashnikov, accented by a
fearsome-looking knife and pistol.

"Maybe they will enter Umm Qasr and Basra," Al-Ahmad told the reporters,
"but how will they enter Baghdad? It will be a big oven for them.

"They can penetrate our borders but they cannot reach Baghdad. They will try
to pull our army and troops out, but we are well aware of their plans, and
they will fail."

Unlike the bombing of Baghdad during the 1991 Gulf War, there was no
destruction of basic utilities and electric power and water supplies
continued to flow to the city's five million residents.

U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld boasted that there was "no
comparison" between the U.S. bombing of Baghdad and the saturation air
campaigns of European cities during World War II.

"The weapons that are being used today have a degree of precision that no
one ever dreamt of in a prior conflict," he said, adding that the "humanity"
that went into planning the attack was designed to destroy military targets
while sparing civilian lives.

Rumsfeld described as historic the live broadcasts by hundreds of
journalists accompanying frontline U.S. troops into battle.

"We're having a conflict at a time in our history when we have
24-hours-a-day television, radio, media, Internet and more people in the
world have access to what is taking place," he said.

The Star (Malaysia), 26th March

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Two cruise missiles struck a residential area in
Baghdad on Wednesday, killing 14 people, Iraqi defense officials said. It
was the worst reported instance of civilian deaths since the U.S. bombing
campaign began a week ago.

Thirty others were reported injured in the attack, which occurred around
midday in the heavily populated northern Baghdad neighborhood of Al-Shaab.
The area consists of homes and about 30 shops, mostly restaurants and auto
repair shops.

Associated Press Television News video showed a large crater in the street,
a smoldering building, demolished cars and bodies wrapped in plastic
sheeting in the back of a pickup truck. The streets were flooded after water
pipes were ruptured. Street lights crashed down, trees were uprooted and
some cars flipped over from the blast.

Flames rose above the burning shops, mixing with the smoke rising from fuel
fires lighted around the city to try to obscure the targets of fighter jets.
Men used buckets to douse the wreckage of burned-out automobiles while women
in black chadors grabbed the hands of children and ran from the scene.

Hundreds of people milled around on the street in front of the gutted
market. Some shook their fists in anger.

"This is barbarian!'' shouted Adnan Saleh Barseem. "It's proof that their
aggression is collapsing.''

Residents of some of the damaged apartments began to chant: "Oh, Saddam, we
sacrifice our souls and blood to you.''

Lt. Col. Hamad Abdullah, head of civil defense in the area, said 14 people
were killed and 30 injured. Seventeen cars were destroyed, he added. At a
military briefing in Qatar, U.S. Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks said he could not
confirm that U.S. missiles hit the neighborhood. "We don't have a report
that corroborates that, so I can't confirm it,'' he said. "We do everything
physically and scientifically possible to be precise in our targeting.''

On Monday, Iraq's information minister reported that 194 civilians had been
injured up to that point in bombings in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, a series of explosions became louder and more frequent across the
Iraqi capital Wednesday. Rain began to fall in Baghdad, combining with smoke
and sand in the air to give the city a dark, apocalyptic look and coating
everything in gray mud.

Cars drove with their headlights and street lights were switched on.

Overnight, with the final assault on Baghdad drawing closer, the allies
tried to cripple the regime's communications with bombs and missiles,
knocking Iraq's satellite TV signal off the air for several hours early

U.S. forces pounded targets in the Iraqi capital with a barrage of at least
40 Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from warships in the Persian Gulf and
the Red Sea, the U.S. Navy said. The airstrikes also included bombing runs
by warplanes.

The attacks targeted not only Iraqi television but also government
communications and satellite links at several sites in the capital, U.S.
military officials said. Smoke was seen next to the information ministry and
the Iraqi TV building.

"These targets are key regime command-and-control assets,'' said Jim
Wilkinson, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command.

Iraqi Satellite TV, which broadcasts 24 hours a day outside Iraq, went off
the air around 4:30 a.m. after the attack on the TV building. It went back
on the air about eight hours later.

Iraq's domestic state-run television service, which does not broadcast
around the clock and was not on the air at the time, resumed broadcasting
Wednesday morning as scheduled.

However, there was no trace of Al-Shabab television, the station owned by
Saddam Hussein's son Odai. That station is normally transmitted from the
state television building.

Meanwhile, a howling sandstorm that had cast a yellow haze over Baghdad
eased Wednesday morning as U.S.-led troops lay within 80 kilometers (50
miles) of the capital, setting up a seemingly inevitable fight for control
of the city of 5 million people. The sandstorm had slowed the allies'
advance to a crawl.

"We are determined to defend our capital after what we have seen of our
brothers' resistance in the south,'' Baghdad truck driver Ahmed Falah said.
"The whole world is with us now, even the weather, because the sandstorm has
brought benefits to us. They are the storms of God.''

Television, like state radio, constantly played patriotic songs and messages
of support from Iraqis for Saddam.


Jordan Times, 25th March     
DUBAI (AFP) ‹ In the war against the US and Britain, President Saddam
Hussein can count not only on his elite Republican Guard but also on a more
secret weapon ‹ tribal chiefs who control hundreds of thousands of armed

The backing of the regime by ancient clans is a relatively recent
development, stemming from the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War, a time in
which President Saddam was weakened at home.

The Iraqi leader turned to the tribes to help reinforce his slackened grip
on power, according to Iraqi opposition members in exile.

The tribes were highly influential under the monarchy that ruled the country
until 1958 but were brushed aside by the Baath Party which succeeded it and
considered their customs backwards and primitive.

But the first Gulf conflict changed everything by loosening the state
command structure, leaving Saddam scrambling to shore up his domestic

Paradoxically, the international embargo slapped on the country after Iraq
invaded Kuwait, aimed at undermining Saddam, ended up offering him a golden
opportunity to reestablish his control over an increasingly impoverished

Faleh Jabber, a researcher at the School of Politics and Sociology at the
University of London-Birkbeck, noted in a recent article that the food
supply increasingly depended on Saddam's good will, and on the tribes.

One of the consequences of the sanctions was also to make the tribes more
dependent on government support.

To foster a reconciliation and establish himself as chief of the chiefs,
Saddam invited tribal leaders to one of his palaces in 1992. He apologised
for new land reforms that stripped them of resources and called for a

In effect, he bought their allegiance by offering food, vital materials,
money and in particular, the opportunity for them to exercise new influence.

The tribes were able to run their areas like fiefdoms, all the while working
as cogs of the state.

They were given authority over security, police forces, the justice system
and tax collection and the scope to operate beyond their traditional areas
of control into major cities including Baghdad.

Exempted from military service, the men of the tribes received light arms
and means of transportation and communication to allow them to help
President Saddam Hussein crush any domestic unrest.

The government saw the utility of their support in 1991 when they assisted
him in stamping out a rebellion in south of the country, which has a Shiite
Muslim majority.

The ties binding the tribes to Saddam and their willingness to protect the
status quo that operates in their favour are among the factors leading the
tribes to oppose the current US British invasion.

Aware that they could represent a secret weapon against the Americans,
Saddam on Monday called on all Iraqis and the tribes in particular to
continue to resist the enemy and congratulated them on their success in
slowing the coalition advance.

"Even in the open desert, American and British soldiers are exposing
themselves to civilians' weapons," he said.

Iraqi television showed images of a US Apache helicopter that had been shot
down over Karbala, 80 kilometres south of Baghdad.

Ali Obeid, an old peasant with a white beard and brandishing an elderly
bolt-action rifle, proudly told the cameras that he had downed a second
aircraft of the same type.

by Khatoun Haidar
Lebanon Daily Star, 25th March

Umm Qasr is a small Iraqi port that has gained worldwide fame during the
last few days. The first day of the war the American TV stations announced
its occupation by the coalition forces. The second day the military declared
the port safe. The fourth day of the war strong battles raged around the
port. The US forces then called in tanks and air strikes to remove some 100
men from a strong pocket of resistance.

The American and British political leaders are surprised. They had been
informed that the Iraqis would not fight for Saddam, the army would defect
en mass, and the civilian population would embrace the American liberators.
They were right in thinking that the Iraqis will not fight for Saddam, but
they were wrong in viewing themselves as liberators. They are occupiers and
the Iraqis, independent of their hatred for Saddam, are fighting in defense
of their country, their land, their pride, and their interests.

The battle of Umm Qasr baffled the Americans and frightened the Arab
leadership as they were promised a short and swift war, but it gave the Arab
people a glance of hope. 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. The Arab psyche entered the realm of despair,
hopelessness and desensitization. Umm Qasr might prove to be the spark that
will bring back to the Arab street a sense of pride and empowerment.

Basra, Nasiriyah, and Nejef witnessed battles and an Iraqi resilience that
dumbfounded the coalition. The south of Iraq was expected to fall in line
with the Iraqi opposition abroad and receive the advancing forces with
little resistance. Though the people of the south suffered most under Saddam
Hussein, they are Iraqis and again they will fight for the occupier. Some
Marsh Arabs, actually refugees in Iran, when questioned by foreign
correspondents did not approve of the American military campaign.

Maybe those who planned for this war fell victims to their own propaganda.
Iraq is not a loose knit of Sunnis, Shiites, Marsh Arabs, Turkmen, and
Kurds. It is a proud nation. Though tyrannized by Saddam Hussein, it seems
Iraq is not ready to replace a dictator by an occupier.

The coalition forces will inevitably prevail militarily as the balance of
force is in their favor. Realistically, an Iraqi Army worn out by 12 years
of sanctions is no match to the one and only superpower. An Iraqi Army
holding out for some time against incredible odds is a victory of sorts, but
any form of popular resistance will be a real victory. Whatever happens
later, this may prove to be the rallying point for the Arab masses.

During the last decade the Arab populations have lacked a sense of purpose.
The battles fought in their name by small groups of Islamic fundamentalists
in Afghanistan, Chechnya, and old Yugoslavia have been divisive and
unrepresentative. The central Arab cause, Palestine, has been a never-ending
source of humiliation. A morally justified battle on Arab land against an
occupier might be the spark these masses need to regain the confidence
necessary to fight for their rights.

It is sad that Umm Qasr was under the nominal leadership of Saddam Hussein.
It is sad that the power supposedly representing democracy in the world is
the aggressor.

President Bush and Tony Blair cannot yet comprehend the far-reaching
consequences of their actions. The cost of this war goes much beyond the
destruction of the infrastructure, and the architectural or cultural
heritage of a country. It goes further than the human cost, the loss of
mothers, fathers, husbands, children, and the long-term psychological
implications. It will remain engraved in the Arab conscience for a long time
to come. It will mold the direction this region of the world will take, and
it will remain a thorn in any future relation between the Arab masses, the
US and the UK. Thanks to France, Germany, and the Pope, a good relationship
between the Arab masses and the West remains possible.

The small port of Umm Qasr, and the some 100 men who held up the advance of
the Americans never expected to be at the heart of such a far reaching
ir aq

The Star (Malaysia), 26th March

AMMAN: Thousands of Iraqi exiles have been returning home over the past week
from Jordan, with many insisting they want to defend their country against
US and British "invaders."

Jordanian records show that 5,284 Iraqis have crossed the desert border
overland into Iraq since March 16, Col Ahmad al-Hazaymeh, director of
Jordan's al Karama border post, said on Monday.

Iraq's consular office here said it issued at least 3,000 temporary
passports for exiled Iraqis in the last three days. Of those, half have
already returned to Iraq, spokesman Jawad al-Ali said.

"They all said they wanted to take part in the fight against the Americans,"
al-Ali said.

An estimated 350,000 Iraqi exiles live in Jordan. Most have arrived since
the 1990-91 Gulf War and stayed, most of them illegally. Some were
persecuted by Saddam's regime, while others were seeking to escape the
hardships under UN sanctions imposed on Iraq following its 1990 invasion of
Kuwait. - AFP

by Pepe Escobar
Asia Times, 26th March

RUWEISHED, eastern Jordan - Saddam Hussein has called on Iraqi television
for a jihad against the Anglo-American invasion of his country. And the
jihad is already on. Saddam's complex amalgam of militantly secular Arab
leader, devout believer and bold warrior of Islam is now total. From the
depths of his bunker-cum-television studio, Saddam is promising to deliver
hell: widespread jihad, urban guerrilla, man-to-man fighting in each and
every Iraqi city. The Pentagon may underestimate Saddam at its own peril.

George W Bush personalized this war. Saddam played along, taking it to the
battleground of the world, and especially Arab public opinion. Saddam has
seized on his unique chance to be seen in many parts of the world, even
though he might be detested, to be fighting a neocolonialist war, and to be
seen in the Arab world as the only leader with enough courage to stand up to
the superpower. Carefully calibrating his latest speech, drawing from a
wealth of poetic resources in the Arabic language, and tapping on deep Arab
and Muslim resentment against the United States, Saddam is also increasingly
sounding like Osama bin Laden - who ironically despised the Iraqi leader as
an infidel.

Saddam's guerrilla tactics have already proved to be somewhat effective.
What for the Pentagon is a breakdown of central control is in fact the
result of Saddam dividing Iraq into four largely autonomous military zones.
The regime can count on support among three different forces: the Republican
and Special Republican Guards; the paramilitary Fedayeen Saddam (Saddam's
Men of Sacrifice), which has a total strength reportedly between 30,000 and
40,000 troops; and the complex alliances with Bedouin tribes, clans and
sub-clans. The Guards, with two divisions already being bombed to oblivion
on the outskirts of Baghdad, will be instrumental in the fierce, looming
battle of Baghdad. The very mobile Fedayeen are resisting in the southern
cities of Umm Qasr, Basra and Nasiriyah. And the tribes will be fighting in
central Mesopotamia and the north to defend Arab honor, pride and most of
all their own privileges, fully guaranteed as they are by the Ba'ath Party.
Saddam is placing all his bets on an extremely brutal and much protracted
war that will turn him into a Muslim hero with even wider appeal than bin

A single powerful image is haunting the Arab world: a closeup, taken from
footage shot by the television station al-Jazeera, of a beautiful boy in
Basra with half of his head blown away. The photo has already become a
screensaver on many a computer. Mustafa Hamarneh, from the Strategic Studies
Institute at the University of Jordan, says, "Iraq has won Round 1 big, very
big." Hamarneh estimates that opposition to war in the Middle East is
practically 100 percent. "Iraq is seen as truthful and America is seen as a
liar." He confirms what can be easily attested to in any Jordanian cafe -
Saddam is now being regarded as the underdog Arab brother, "a hero".

Tomahawks may have pulverized the Ansar al-Islam enclave in the mountains of
eastern Kurdistan, near the Iranian border. But hundreds of warriors of the
Islamist sub-group that have been linked to al-Qaeda have survived, and have
vowed to engage in a jihad against the Anglo-American invasion. 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. About 700 Algerian volunteers who received
weapons training in Iraqi camps are also at hand. The mujahideen will fight
to the death because they are all convinced that the occupation of Iraq is
the springboard for further occupation of other Arab and Muslim nations. But
it is impossible to confirm for the time being assertions by different
sources that key al-Qaeda operatives have also entered Iraq through Iranian

All mujahideen are given official approval from the regime to enter Iraqi
territory. They are "unilaterals" - not linked with the Ba'ath Party
structure - and are developing their own independent strategies. These
separate commandos of Ansar al-Islam, Hezbollah, Algerians and Afghan-Arabs
will be instrumental in boosting Saddam's master plan of a protracted
jihad-cum-guerrilla war. As the scholars of the al-Azhar Islamic University
in Cairo - the Vatican of the Sunni Muslim world and the leading university
in the Islamic world - have already made clear, this is a defensive jihad,
and absolutely legal from the point of view of Islamic jurisprudence. About
12,000 students at al-Azhar have been chanting "Baghdad don't surrender" for
two days now.

Observers in the region see increasing signs that the Pentagon war is not
developing according to script. No flowers. No applause. The latest
developments in the field have conclusively buried the Washington-hawk idea
of a "clean", aseptic, mechanized parade fought over a green-lit video-game
screen. Only the presumption of Pentagon civilians such as Richard Perle,
chairman of the Defense Policy Board, and Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary
of defense, would see the proud heirs of the Assyrians and the Babylonians
resigning themselves to be bombed and then patiently wait for the
invaders-liberators to cover them with fruit, flowers and kisses. Ba'ath
Party war rhetoric aside, the message from the still intact leadership in
Baghdad is very direct: the invaders may roll and control the desert, but
they will suffer in the cities; and they will not be received with flowers,
but with bullets.

Washington wonders why there has not been an uprising in the Shi'ite south.
It's because Arabs, Sunni or Shi'ite, are carefully scrutinizing all the
symbolism of this war. Where the Americans see only an open desert littered
with charred Iraqi bodies and smoldering, gutted vehicles, the Shi'ites
watch in horror a roll of invading tanks desecrating the holy city of Najaf,
160 kilometers south of Baghdad - the city where the revered 14th century
Imam Ali is buried.

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.

After the Tomahawks erupting from aircraft carriers, after tanks rolling in
the desert as if they were in the Paris-Dakar rally, after the apocalyptic
first night of Shock and Awe in Baghdad, the next image in the Pentagon
screenplay would be flowers and applause for the liberators. But nobody can
shoot the scene because the actors refuse to act.

American military strategist Harlan Ullman is the conceptual father of Shock
and Awe. As he describes it, "You have this simultaneous effect, rather like
the nuclear weapons at Hiroshima, not taking days or weeks but minutes." In
its carefully orchestrated ongoing bombing lesson for a global audience, the
Pentagon was adamant to shatter Iraq "physically, emotionally and
psychologically". It hasn't. At least not yet.

The daily news conference in the US Central Command in Doha barely disguises
how the Pentagon is so obviously desperate for Iraqi surrender. But sources
tell Asia Times Online that absolutely no American high-level contacts have
been made with the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council - apart from Pentagon
disinformation saying that Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tarik Aziz has
defected or that Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan has been killed. US
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld himself has admitted that defections are
being encouraged only at a lower level.

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