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[casi] News titles, 26/03-02/04/03

News titles, 26/03-02/04/03 (Wednesday to Wednesday)

I have lost interest in the Radio Free Europe Arab Press Review and replaced
it as a regular feature with the 'intelligence reports'. These
may not be what they claim to be - intelligence reports compiled for and
deliberately leaked by the Russian 'Main Intelligence Directorate (Glavnoye
Razvedyvatelnoye Upravleniye, or GRU)' but they give a more credible view of
the overall progress of the war than the fairy tales coming out of either
Qatar or Baghdad (after reading Seymour Hersh's article, 'Offense and
Defense' in the Court of Hulagu Khan section I am tempted to speculate that
they may be produced by US military specialists opposed to Donald Rumsfeld.
This would explain why they seem to be so much better informed about the US
side than about the Iraqi side; and why the 'reverse translations' - an
original English translated back into English from the Russian - often seem
so pithy and well expressed).

At the moment of writing the Mongol Horde has arrived at the gates of
Baghdad and taken Baghdad International Airport - rebuilt, we remember, with
such courage and determination after it had been shot up at the end of the
United Nations War and at a time when impossible restrictions were still
being imposed on flights in and out of Iraq. However confused it might be in
detail, the overall situation seems pretty clear in principle. The invaders
control the open country (from the air) and the defenders control the towns.
This is the case even if the invaders are able to enter the towns. Entering
a town and controlling it are two different things.

This puts USUK in a situation similar to that of the Serbs in Bosnia in
1992, except of course that the Serbs were largely defending their own land
(and the Muslims their own towns. After the expropriation of the great
Muslim landowners in the 1920s the land had gone to the mainly Serb
peasantry. The non-landowner Muslims were largely an urban people. The
proportion of land demanded by the Bosnian Serbs for their Serb Republic was
far in excess of their proportion of the population but corresponded much
better to the proportion of land they actually owned). Also unlike USUK, the
Serbs had to cope with the irrational interventions of something that called
itself the 'international community' which, for example, prevented them from
actually taking the towns they surrounded. Thus large resources of men and
materiel had to be tied down, in conditions of great hardship and penury, to
sieges that could never come to an end.

But in other respects the parallel is quite close - for example the bombing
of a market place. Was it deliberate, an accident, or a propaganda ruse on
the part of the defending enemy? And the besieging armies' interest in
keeping the besieged town starved and in clearing out its civilian
population; the defenders' interest in keeping the civilian population in
place to act as human shields; and the eventual probability of massacre. The
language currently being used by USUK - 'terrorist death squads' - sounds to
me like a psychological preparation for massacre. When the terrorist death
squads have been massacred then we will see if the long promised rejoicing
manifests itself. One of the problems I can see is that even terrorist death
squads have mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers (and uncles and
aunts and cousins).

The use of the word 'terrorist' to describe combatants dressed in civilian
clothes evokes another potent analogy: the war fought by the Germans against
the (usually Communist) partisans of Eastern Europe. I am open to correction
but I think this may have been the first time an army found itself faced,
after the formal surrender of the enemy country, with the phenomenon of
continued opposition from a military force that deliberately made itself
indistinguishable from the civilian population. The Germans were deeply
shocked by it. Their difficulties were compounded by the fact that they were
having to defend almost the whole of Europe while simultaneously battling
against the Soviet Union, Britain and the United States. Under the
circumstances they resorted to extreme measures and the 'Einsatzgruppen'
were established to root out and kill the social groups most likely to be
responsible - Communists and Jews.

The position of USUK, surrounded by a hostile population is unenviable but
it is unlikely that they will have to go to quite the same lengths.
Nonetheless there are analogies and two very numerous categories of the
Iraqi population will find themselves under particular suspicion - Baath
Party members and devout Muslims. The resources of USUK are such that many
will be imprisoned rather than executed on the spot but nonetheless any
young Iraqi with a beard would be well advised to shave it off.

Perhaps by the next mailing something calling itself a victory will have
been proclaimed but that is very unlikely to mark the end of the problem.
Partisan or 'terrorist' opposition will continue. Our armies will find
themselves in a position similar to that of the Israeli army on the West
Bank. And there is a very real possibility (see the section Syria and Iran
wait their turn) that the senior party of the coalition will want (at the
urging of Israel and perhaps of the Free Iraqis who are telling us that
President Hussein has taken refuge there) to extend the war of liberation to
cover Syria. What is really curious is that Syria seems to be going out of
its way almost to invite such a possibility.

The controversy is developing within the United States between those who
want to kick a bit more Arab ass (to 'reshape the Middle East') and those
who want to cut their losses and get out as quickly as possible. Colin
Powell seems to belong to the former camp. To launch a strong attack on
Syria before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in the company of
John Bolton sends, as they say, a powerful message. And is it possible that
his 'fence building' trip to Turkey could have been connected with
speculation that Syria and Turkey are coming closer together at the present

The second option - cutting losses - involves handing over a large share of
responsibility to the United Nations and of course our own Mr Blair has made
himself its spokesman. Behind the idea presumably lies a calculation that
USUK would still have access to any business opportunities that might be
going, while the almost 100% guaranteed political failure can be ascribed to
Kofi Annan, France and Russia. Perhaps the French and Russians will pretend
to fall for it since it is the only chance they have in the immediate future
of keeping their finger in the pie. If so they could be wrong. It would be a
most courageous gamble but a bit of principle now might serve them well in
the longer term.

The principle is of course to insist that this is an illegal invasion and
that any subsequent administration can only be regarded and treated as an
occupying power until such time as, at the very least, a UN supervised
election can occur to a genuinely free and sovereign government. Such a
position of principle would of course split the United Nations, or at least
the rich and powerful part of it. But that has already been split by the
actions of Mr Blair and Mr Bush and once Humpty Dumpty has fallen he surely
cannot be put together again. At least, if he is put together again, the
result will be disgraceful. The illusion of 'international law', of the
'international community', has been broken and 'the world' will not be taken
in by it again. The best hope for the 'developing world' is precisely that
the great powers should split and that - as in the Good Old Days of the
US/USSR confrontation - it should again be possible to play one off against
the other. If the United Nations Security Council is again to become a
consensus of the powerful against the weak - without the smallest fig leaf
of concern for the integrity of international law - then it would be better
if it did not exist.

NEWS, 26/03-02/04/03 (1)

Day by day, 27th March to 2nd April

AND, IN NEWS, 26/03-02/04/03 (2)


*  U.S. Blasts Iraqi Armor Near Karbala [Sandstorm lifts, Thursday 27th -
return of US airpower - Tallil airport]
*  General: A Longer War Likely [Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace: "The enemy
we're fighting is different from the one we'd war-gamed against ... We're
dealing with a country in which everybody has a weapon, and when they fire
them all in the air at the same time, it's tough." Difficulty of long supply
lines and importance of Najaf]
*  US sending more troops into Iraq [Figures for the troops already present
and under way]
*  Truck hits US soldiers in Kuwait
*  US timed launch of war to save Iraqi oil wells: Franks [It seems very
unlikely that the Iraqis wanted to destroy the Rumaila oil field (they
haven't destroyed the oilfields in the North). More likely that they wanted
to create another - highly toxic - smokescreen]
*  US accused of using cluster bombs ['in attacks near the towns of Najaf
and Karbala']
*  Israelis trained US troops in Jenin-style urban warfare [with a
description of the sort of techniques they might have learned]
*  US Marines enter Shatrah in search of fallen comrade [who had been
'paraded through the streets and hanged in public']
*  US says 100 Iraqis killed in holy city clash [Najaf]
*  Start to Iraq war impressive, but US overstretched: McCaffrey [The US
requires much more force than it has if it is to win: "If we shrink from
using direct and overwhelming violence on the SRG and the Fedayeen, we will
risk thousands of casualties in our Army and Marine assault forces and leave
in place an unintimidated, even emboldened, terrorist threat that will make
our subsequent occupation of the city an unending horror."]
*  The death toll [as of 3rd April]
*  Clouding the overall picture in Iraq [Rosy view fom The Scotsman]


*  US peace activists expelled from Iraq angry over "senseless" war [Peggy
Gish and Kara Speltz]
*  My journey across a desert of destruction [Diary of Phil Sands, 'human
shield' recently expelled from Baghdad]
*  British soldiers sent home from Iraq for refusing to fight: lawyer

AND, IN NEWS, 26/03-02/04/03 (3)


*  Small bands of Iraqi fighters battle Marines on way to Baghdad ["They
come, they keep coming. They get up and they come."]
*  'Regret' over Blair execution comment
*  Washington underestimates history [Rosemary Hollis of the Royal Institute
for International Affairs (Chatham House) predicts a repetition of 'the fate
of US forces in Lebanon in the early 1980s']
*  Missile lands near Kuwait City mall, two hurt
*  200 Saddam loyalists die in bombing [The Scotsman treats the siege of
Basra as an effort by the British forces to bring humanitarian aid to the
people which is being thwarted by the Fedayeen (the term 'terrorist death
squad' hadn't yet taken). It manages in one breath to complain about these
Fedayeen wearing civilian clothes and in the next to boast that 'Covert US
teams from the CIA's paramilitary division and the military's special
operations group, have been operating in urban areas in Iraq identifying key
targets for warplanes and missile strikes ... One source has suggested that
at least some of the explosions seen and heard in Baghdad were not the
result of aerial bombs and missiles but rather caused by bombs planted by
the covert teams'. Rumsfeld is quoted saying that 'Saddam Hussein's
"sadistic" death squads are beheading disloyal subjects to strike fear into
those who contemplate surrender']
*  War turns to terror [First suicide bombing: 'It also increases the risk
that allied patrols, wary of ambushes, might fire on unarmed civilians,
hindering efforts to build worldwide support for the war.']
*  Defecting Iraqi troops executed, say dissidents [KDP and INC]
*  Iraqi deserter tells of desperation
*  UN warns of health, environment risks from Iraqi oil fires
*  "Bravo," the war song on top of the Iraqi charts ['It even has its own
music videos. One shows a crowd on the street clapping joyfully to the beat.
A veiled woman dances frantically inside the circle as a singer shoots his
Kalashnikov into the air.']
*  Captured Iraqi militia fighters may be sent to Guantanamo Bay [The
British want them to go before the International Criminal Court, thus
tainting the ICC at its very inception with implication in the crime of
unprovoked and illegal invasion. The article goes on to say that the policy
is to roundup anyone who looks as though they might be a potential militia
man. Rather like the Serbs rounding up young Muslim men in Bosnia]
*  Arab volunteers leave Lebanon to fight for "God and Iraq" [though not
quite the 'more than 4,000' mentioned by Iraqi General Hazem al-Rawi]
*  Crack US troops unnerved by Iraqis firing from ambulance, garbage truck
["It was pretty scary. It reminded me of a scene from (the Vietnam war
movie) Full Metal Jacket."]

AND, IN NEWS, 26/03-02/04/03 (4)


*  28th March [including some general reflections on the limits of
overwhelming technical superiority. The article refers to 'the unique
ability to conduct reconnaissance against the Iraqi military infrastructure
through a wide network of agents implanted with the international teams of
weapons inspectors']
*  29th March [Claims that 'The Iraqi military made several public
announcements to the residents (of Basra) offering them a chance to leave
the city. However, most of the residents do not want to leave, fearing the
fate of the Palestinian refugees, who, after losing their homes, gained
pariah status in the Arab world.']
* 30th March [arguing that the Iraqis are better equipped than anyone had
previously thought. There is a reference to 'an incident in the area of Umm
Qasr when, in plain view of the locals, British soldiers executed two Iraqis
after finding a submachine-gun in their house']
* 31st March ['The official coalition losses are, to put it mildly, "falling
behind" the actual figures. The 57 dead acknowledged by the coalition
command reflect losses as of the morning of March 26 ... Based on the radio
intercepts and internal information networks of the US field hospitals as of
this morning the coalition losses include no less than 100 killed US
servicemen and at least 35 dead British soldiers. Additionally, some 22
American and 11 British soldiers are officially considered to be missing in
action and the whereabouts of another 400 servicemen are being established.
The number of wounded has exceeded 480 people ... Russian military analysts
believe that the critical [limit? - PB] for the US duration of the war would
be over 90 days provided that during that time the coalition will sustain
over 1,000 killed. Under such circumstances a serious political crisis in
the US and in the world will be unavoidable.']
* 1st April [The article refers to 'enormous exhaustion and extensive wear
of equipment, which is long overdue for serious scheduled maintenance.' Is
the reference to a report (on exaggerated claims of British successes near
Basra) 'by one of the US journalist located in this area during a phone
conversation with the editor' a hint that the piece is not, after all, a GRU
intelligence report?]
* 2nd April [General account of failure to achieve objectives south of


*  Berlusconi Eases Italy's War Concerns [Berlusconi, most willing of the
willing, won't allow Italy to be used for direct attacks on Iraq]
*  Inside Europe [Coalition of the begrudging in Europe (or CUBE). But the
European Parliament hasn't exactly been very impressive in its efforts to
oppose the war either]
*  'New' Europe distances itself from war [The Coalition of the Quietly
Slipping out of the Room: Italy, Denmark, Netherlands, Poland,
Czechoslovakia (where the new President 'Vaclav Klaus has warned that using
force to impose democracy on Iraq is a notion "from another universe"'),
Croatia ('Stipe Mesic, the President, denounced the war as "illegitimate"
because it lacked UN backing), Slovenia. The article also points out, though
I think I was the only person who noticed it at the time, that 'the
Anglo-Spanish letter endorsed by three of the applicant nations, and a
subsequent declaration by a further 10 eastern European states, did not
commit them to supporting hostilities']

AND, IN NEWS, 26/03-02/04/03 (5)


*  U.S. picks 30 Iraqi exiles as 'frontmen' of new regime [mainly on the
admininstrative/professional side, to 'leapfrog the country to prosperity']
*  Man who would be 'king' of Iraq [Accounts of Jay Garner and his political
and business contacts - largely to do with missile 'defence']
*  Israeli minister wants to reopen Mosul-Haifa oil pipeline: Report [thus
'saving Israel the cost of importing expensive crude from Russia. He said he
was convinced the US administration would favour the idea, Haaretz said.' We
learn that this, or something like it, had been under serious discussion -
with the Iraqi government - at the time of the Iran/Iraq war]
*  US draws up secret plan to impose new regime on Iraq [Controversy over
the possible role of Ahmad Chalabi as 'financial adviser' (the Jordanian
government will love that) to an interim US military government. Mr Chalabi
isn't very happy about the prospect either. He wants to be, or at least to
look as if he is, the Boss]
*  US disputes cloud postwar plans [The article mentions James Woolsey as
one of the Pentagon nominees for the future government of Iraq, together
with Mr Chalabi, his nephew and several close associates]


*  Suicide bombing near Najaf: 'welcome to hell' [Lebanon Daily Star roundup
of Israeli press. Mainly from Maariv, which has a lively sense of the horror
of it all: 'There is no doubt that in the end the Americans will conquer
Baghdad, because failure is simply not an option. But the chances of a
strong, quick and elegant victory are diminishing. And a weak, slow and ugly
victory may very well be seen as a defeat.' An apparently quite delightful
article by left-wing columnist Nir Baram: '"Bush's Republicans thought they
knew the Iraqis," he writes. "They're not really Arabs, they thought. All
that stuff with language and the culture and the religion and the mustaches
is all camouflage. The truth is, the Iraqis don't want to be Iraqis ... The
Iraqis want to be Americans ... So the Republicans went to war to save the
Iraqis from their dictatorial, Levantine, Arab existence. Just one blitz of
5,000 smart bombs, destroying homes, infrastructures, food and water sources
and children, that's all that was needed to bring them right into the 21st
century. But what to do, those primitive, stupid Iraqis are so stuck on
being Arabs that they don't want to be saved ...']
*  What would change my mind on Iraq? [Despite all the public hand wringing,
David Aaronovitch expresses the dilemma well. The choice is between 'Saddam
unchained; a "contained" Saddam plus sanctions and endless inspections;
invasion and no Saddam'. I long ago opted for 'Saddam unchained' but I've
more time for those who prefer 'invasion and no Saddam' to those who support
the '"contained" Saddam' (ie sanctions)]
*  It will end in disaster [George Monbiot assesses the likely consequences
of the war. All of his options are at once perfectly credible and
horrendous. In particular he argues that if the US win they may find
themselves subject to the same necessities that turned Saddam Hussein into
Saddam Hussein. The most likely result is Saddam falls but guerrilla war
continues. This has been more or less the pattern in Afghanistan: 'We can
expect the US, in these circumstances, hurriedly to proclaim victory,
install a feeble and doomed Iraqi government, and pull out before the whole
place crashes down around it. What happens after that, to Iraq and the rest
of the Middle East, is anyone's guess, but I think we can anticipate that it
won't be pleasant.']
*  Conversation in unmarked grave [Josef Goebbels visits Hitler in his grave
and persuades him that now is the time to come out and face the world. The
quality of th Enlish in this satire from the Bangladeshi Daily Star leaves a
little to be desired but its still worth a look: "Have I not been vindicated
by the democracies? Could not I then ask for a stone on my grave?" Goebbels
nodded and said, "Fuehrer, you deserve something more than that." "What is
up in your sleeve?" Hitler shot back. Goebbels replied, "You may even come
out for a tour". Hitler enquired, "Will not the Jews hang me in public for
crime against humanity?" Goebbels reassured "Before that I will take you to
a Texas saloon to remove your moustache and for a cowboy haircut.

and, in News, 26/03-02/04/03 (6)


*  Reports of uprising in Basra exaggerated, British army officer says [but
some confirmation is given by 'Bayan Jabor, the Damascus-based spokesman for
the main Shiite opposition group, the Supreme Council of the Islamic
Revolution in Iraq', who says 'local anger began to rise on Monday after
Republican Guards, on the orders of Majid, executed seven local Baath Party
militia members and officials for attempting to desert. Two more were
executed on Tuesday.']
*  Iraqi troops fire on civilians fleeing Basra in thousands: British
*  Several UK Soldiers 'Kidnapped' in Basra - Officer ['Reuters
correspondent David Fox said a stream of people was leaving the city but an
even larger group was trying to get in, creating chaotic scenes at a bridge
on the edge of Basra where British soldiers had pulled up two tanks,
creating a narrow channel for people to pass through.The soldiers were
allowing women, children and old men into the city, but were barring adult
*  Thousands flee Basra in search of food and water [The article refers to
'a water treatment centre that had been down since last Friday when cables
carrying electricity to the plant were cut by Allied bombardment'. Note also
the reference to 'diarrhoea, which is already a big killer of Iraqi children
under five', though it doesn't mention Mr Blair's responsibility for the
phenomenon. Large numbers of Iraqi civilians now appear to be free to leave
Basra without being shot at]
*  Iraqis bring aid to Basra [Civilians forcing their way through British
*  Iraqis loot captured Baath party offices outside Basra [full of stores of
food. The British army imprisons suspected Baath Party officials]
*  British Forces Use James Bond Code Names [British bad taste still in
better taste than American bad taste]
*  British soldiers free Kenyan drivers captured, beaten and held in school


*  Resentment, Relief, and Resistance [in Umm Qasr and Safwan. 'A soldier
with the Australian forces expressed doubt that our convoy of journalists
would be allowed into Umm Qasr as there were 20,000 Iraqi prisoners of war
being held there, according to him.']
*  Iraqi doctors ask invading troops to supply needed medicine [account of
hospital in Umm Qasr]
*  Britain and US at odds over port rebuilding project [' the US Agency for
International Development has already awarded the contract to Stevedoring
Services of America, a Seattle company. The British Army is pressing ahead
with its plan to reinstall the man who directed the port before the Allied
*  Exiles support allies at port [The 'Free Iraqi Forces' suddenly manifest
themselves in Umm Qasr]
*  Where water may win the war...but tragedy blights fight for friendship
[Colourful picture of colourful natives surrounded by colourful vegetable
market being seduced by colourful but increasingly irritable and nervous
Lieutenant-Colonel Mike Riddell-Webster in the colourful town of Az Zubayr]

AND, IN NEWS, 26/03-02/04/03 (7)


*  'Many dead' in Baghdad attack ['At least 50 civilians are believed to
have been killed ...  in the Shula residential area of the city]
*  13 killed in Karbala and Najaf raids
*  Raid on Mosul causes 50 plus casualties [say al-Jazeera]
*  In Baghdad, blood and bandages for the innocent [This is the article in
which R.Fisk produces the shard that may identify the US as responsible for
the Shula marketplace bombing]
*  Peace activists confirm Iraqi hospital bombed [Childrens hospital in
Rutbah in the western desert]
*  20 civilians, including 11 children, killed by American and British air
strike near Baghdad
[farm in the Al-Janabiin suburb]
*  'You didn't fire a warning shot soon enough!' [Extract on the
identification of the shard found by Robert Fisk]
*  Civilian shooting toll may climb [Detailed account, based on report in
Washington Post, of checkpoint killing of women in a car, going on to a more
general discussion of the problems, one of them being 'a dearth of
interpreters. Soldiers bark orders in English or use sign language to tell
civilians to show them what they are carrying inside their bags'. That might
have been something useful the INC could have done if it had been capable of
doing anything]
*  15 of a family among 56 civilians killed: Pick-up blown up, Hilla town
*  The proof: marketplace deaths were caused by a US missile [More details
on the missiles fragments. And 'The American military has confirmed that a
navy EA-6B "Prowler" jet, based on the USS Kittyhawk, was in action over the
Iraqi capital on Friday and fired at least one Harm missile to protect two
American fighters from a surface-to-air missile battery.']
*  American missile hits maternity hospital, at least 25 civilians injured


*  30 US Marines injured in friendly fire [near Nasiriyah, 27th March]
*  Concern as Screaming Eagles crash five helicopters in one week: US
military [Best headline of the week. '"The rotor blades kick up that dust so
when it gets down you don't have any ground reference," Gass, who is an
Apache pilot, said.']
*  Wounded British soldiers condemn US 'cowboy' pilot
*  Crew drown as US tank topples into Euphrates [and they at last get a few
cries of 'welcome' from a crowd in Shatra - 'But as night approached with
the town not fully under their control, the marines pulled back'. Leaving
the welcoming crowd to the tender mercies of the terrorist death squads?]

NEWS, 26/03-02/04/03 (8)


*  US may 'fabricate' WMD evidence in Iraq: Russia ['"Even if the
American-British forces report that they have found weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq, the final assessment of their origin can be given only
by international inspectors," Ivanov said.'
*  Coalition faked it, says UN [Details on the forged documents from Niger.
Which also seem to have been an attempt to target the government of Niger]
*  Saddam moves chemical weapons, U.S. officials say [So US soldiers had
better put on their chemical suits ...]
*  Sarin gas kit found by British troops [kit to help protect against Sarin
*  Special Search Operations Yield No Banned Weapons [In the first few days
of the war 'U.S. forces have tested 10 of their best intelligence leads,
four that first day and another half-dozen since, without result''. And at
last someone comes out with what has always seemed to me a most obvious
possibility: 'even a friendly successor government in Iraq may try secretly
to preserve the means to reconstitute nonconventional weapons, as a
counterweight to regional rivals. "The same conditions that led Saddam to
proliferate are going to apply to whoever's in power, in terms of Iran
holding [similar] weapons, and Israel," said a State Department official.'
So why all the moral hysteria about it? The US is now proposing to conduct
inspections independently of the UN. To this end they have signed up Charles
Duelfer and induced several members of UNMOVIC to resign]
*  IAEA sees return with full authority after Iraq war

*  Blix to Step Down After U.S. Snub
Yahoo, 29th March
[Blix is due to make a new report on 1st June. The article doesn't actually
substantiate the headline, merely stating that he would like to retire but
is willing to stay on. An anonymous US official is quoted a saying: "We gave
him 70 sites to visit and he only went to seven." Perhaps if he'd had a bit
more time?]


*  Al Jazeera's web site - DDoSed or unplugged? [IT specialist journal
comment, which takes it for granted that Al Jazeera is an undesirable
customer: 'it's pretty much unthinkable that it could have been allowed to
continue running via US companies']
*  My station is a threat to American media control - and they know it
[Senior editor for al Jazeera, Faisal Bodi, argues that the view from
downtown Doha is more interesting than the view from 'the £1m media centre
at US central command in As-Sayliyah': 'Of all the major global networks,
al-Jazeera has been alone in proceeding from the premise that this war
should be viewed as an illegal enterprise.']
*  Hackers divert al-Jazeera users to US porn and patriot sites
*  Al-Jazeera Defends Images,Won't Censor War Horror [Jihad Ballout,
spokesman for Jazeera 'said if the Americans and British gave the station
more access to their troops, who invaded Iraq 11 days ago "you would
certainly find as much coverage on the ground from there as you would find
from the Iraqi side."']
*  Arnett Fired; Fox's Geraldo In Hot Water [Detailed account of Arnett
firing. Essentially he was fired because he wouldn't pretend he had been
under constraint when he gave his interview to Iraqi TV]
*  Fired By America For Telling The Truth, Britain's "Daily Mirror" Hires
Journalist Peter Arnett To Carry On Telling The Truth ['Arnett, who has been
in the news business for 40 years, was already fired by CNN for his
involvement in a 1998 story on Operation Tailwind, which alleged that
American forces used nerve gas in a 1970 mission to hunt down US defectors
during the Vietnam War.']
*  Malaysia sends own reporters to cover war "because of biased reporting by
Western media"

AND, IN NEWS, 26/03-02/04/03 (9)


*  Tens of thousands protest [Bahrain, Yemen]
*  Huge anti-war march in Iran [Iran and Jordan. The article also refers to
President Assad's interview with Al Safir]
*  Half a million Asian Muslims lead day of regional war protests [Pakistan,
Indonesia, South Korea, China, Japan, New Zealand]
*  War protest turns Beijing sidewalk into podium of semi-free speech [Not
for the first time we notice that Chinese speaking freely tend to sound a
bit ... maoist]


*  Assad predicts defeat for invasion force [in a front-page interview with
Lebanon's as Safir newspaper, and 'Sheikh Ahmad Kiftaro, the Grand Mufti of
Syria, called on all Muslims to resist the US and British invasion and
sacrifice their lives as martyrs, if necessary']
*  US force destroyed military bases, says Iran [bases belonging to the
Mujaheedin al-Khalq]
*  Iran Says Rebels in Iraq Can Return if They Recant [Mujahideen al-Khalq]
*  Rumsfeld Warns Syria on Iraq Equipment
*  Syrians arrive in Mosul to fight for Iraq: Al-Jazeera
*  Syria says it supports "Iraqi people" against invaders [In reply to
Powell's statement that 'as part of its "overall strategy in combating
terrorism," Washington was "demanding more responsible behavior" from
"states that do not follow acceptable patterns of behavior."', Syria says it
"has chosen to be with the international consensus which has said no to
aggression against Iraq, the bombardments of cities, the massacre of
innocent civilians, the destruction of houses, power plants and water
*  President Assad interviewed by Lebanese AlSafir newspaper [This official
Syrian account of the interview is in very bad English but nonetheless the
spirit is clear. Assad compares Iraqi resistance to US occupation with
Lebanese resistance to Israeli poccupation and as Syria helped the one, it
will help the other. The implication is that the process will come to a head
after the fall of S.Hussein. He refers to a recent meeting with Abdullah Gul
of Turkey: 'The president underlined that the Turkish refusal to allow the
American to attack Iraq from the north was the result of the common vision
of Syria and Turkey ...']
*  Mofaz warns Syria of Israeli might as regional tensions flare [Reaction
to Assad's interview with al Safir: 'On Monday, a senior Israeli army
intelligence officer charged that Iraqi missiles, possibly armed with
chemical and biological warheads, may be hidden in Syria.' Is the next step
a US call to put inspectors into Syria?]
*  Powell meets Israeli minister after warning Iraq's neighbours [prior to
going to Turkey and Brussels. Syria and Iran are to stop supporting
terrorists, 'including groups violently opposed to Israel and to the Middle
East peace process' (what 'Middle East peace process', we wonder?). This is
"part of our overall strategy in combatting terrorism and dealing with
states that do not follow acceptable patterns of behavior."]
*  Syria hits back at US, says it supports "Iraqi people" against invaders
['Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shara told parliament at the weekend that
"Syria's interest is to see the invaders defeated in Iraq," according to
Monday's official press. "The resistance of the Iraqis is extremely
important," he said. "It is a heroic resistance to the US-British occupation
of their country."']
*  Why are the Americans gunning for Syria? [Lebanon Daily Star roundup of
the Arab press. Mainly reaction to Powell's speech to the American Israel
Public Affairs Committee. We learn that 'Powell was followed by
Undersecretary of State John Bolton, who ... added pointedly that "I don't
think any of us are naive enough to think the example of Iraq alone will be
sufficient.". Both the US and Syria are, it appears, determined to bring
matters to a head.]

AND, IN NEWS, 26/03-02/04/03 (10)


*  US-Turkey match goes into shoot-out [Mohammad Noureddine, who had long
been saying the Turks would finish by making a deal, now says they
miscalculated badly and have no cards left to play]
*  Iraq War Fallout Hurts Turkey's Economy
*  Turks pelt US experts with eggs [Three Cruise missiles have gone astray
in Turkey 'some 300 kilometres away from the border with Iraq']
*  Turks stone trucks carrying US military equipment
*  Violent protests in Turkey force US to put equipment transport on hold
*  In Search of a Lost Cruise Missile: Three Tomahawk crashes in one week
fuel Turkish paranoia [Three in Turkey and FIVE, we suddenly learn, in Saudi
Arabia, 'and a handful of others have broken up in Iran and, reportedly,
*  Powell Visits Turkey, Seeks to Patch Rift [US withdraws its aircraft from
Incirlik. All the articles I've seen on latest discussions with Turkey are
very coy about whether or not overflight rights are yet being implemented
(the Parliament agreed to allow them but the government was still making
*  Turkey agrees to compromise on access for US


*  We are all Iraqis now [Hani Shukrallah on the impact in Egypt of 15th
February, when 'western Christians and atheists were defending an Arab cause
much better than the Arabs themselves could hope to do.', and of the
beginning of the war]
*  Arabs demand immediate and unconditional withdrawal [Arab League calls
for withdrawal of USUK forces, but has nothing to say about the Arab League
states which are hosting their illegal aggression]
*  Demonstrators call for closing Suez Canal before US reinforcement
['International treaties require Egypt to allow vessels from all
nationalities to pass through the canal, with the possible exception of
those belonging to a country directly at war with Egypt.' But its difficult
to see how any international treaty could oblige Egypt to facilitate a
country engaged in an illegal war]
*  Arab League chief warns of Iraq war spilling over ['"The day Baghdad
falls, is the beginning of the real war... with a lot of violence and
confrontation," Mussa said in an interview on Greek state television
estimating that extremist groups will find fertile ground throughout the
*  US command center gets mixed welcome from neighbors in Qatar [but on the
most unbelieveably frivolous grounds: 'Abdullah Ahmed al-Zyara, campaigning
in the As-Saliyah constituency for April 7 municipal elections, said: "The
residents I've been talking to are complaining about the noise of the
*  Shifting sands, shifting alliances [Pepe Escobar, mainly on the conduct
of Iraq's neighbours. In particular how wrong 'Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and
Richard Perle's very good and unctuous friend Ahmed Chalabi' was in saying
Iran would facilitate the invasion. He treats the GRU reports as authentic.
But he's surely wrong when he says that 'a stillborn party led by former
Iraqi foreign minister Adnan Pachachi' is part of the leadership interim
council, by which I assume he's referring to the opposition group set up at
al Salahadin. Pachachi refused to co-operate with that. And if it is true
that al-Dawa won't support the US, is it true that 'according to
intelligence sources, Da'wa in fact is supporting Saddam's regime'?]

AND, IN NEWS, 26/03-02/04/03 (11)


*  Iraqi Opposition Groups Call for Uprising [The Iraqi opposition
leadership council play a little game of makebelieve]
*  Experts: Iraqi Tribes Will Oppose Saddam [say the opposition Free Iraqi
Council and the Iraq Foundation, a human rights group in Washington]
*  Splits emerge in opposition as Pachachi seeks to establish new group
[possibly in alliance with 'Abdel-Majid al-Khoei, a leading figure among
Iraqi Shiites']
*  Please give us a fighting chance [Kanan Makiya complains that the US
'have not allowed Iraqis to go in and organise the population, a task that
we are very eager to carry out'. But why do they need permission from the
US? The question is posed by his final reference to De Gaulle, who did not
wait for US permission to 'activate his networks' - though admittedly said
networks were largely Communist networks and outside his control - as the
networks in Iraq are largely fundamentalist Shi'i and outside Mr Makiya's
*  Opposition rejects US-run govt [Pachachi's group, the Independent Iraqis
for Democracy, meeting in London]
*  Kurds look for a slice of the action [Marie Colvin of The Times argues
that the US attitude to the INC is changing and that they are now proposing
to, for example, open 'a northern front that would see INC forces (all
eighty of them? - PB) , combined with American special forces, bring
guerrilla tactics to the battle in the south'. Guerrilla tactics? Isn't that
what also goes under the name of 'terrorism'?]
*   The man who would be kingpin [Long, largely sceptical account of the
much battered Ahmad Chalabi: 'Chalabi was aptly described in the
advertisement for his speaking engagement last year at Hofstra University:
"Dr. Chalabi hopes to raise awareness in the United States for the possible
threat that Saddam Hussein poses as well as to the opportunities for Long
Island businesses when or if the time comes to rebuild Iraq."']
*  U.S. Army suspends training of Iraqi volunteers in Hungary [This is
surely the end of any credibility the INC might ever have possessed. The
movement dedicated to the overthrow of a murderous tyrant and given huge
financial aid from the wealthiest country in the history of the universe
manages to produce 80 non-combatants (after the Hungarian government had
insisted nervously that the number be confined to 3,000 at the most).
Watching the defenders of their country die by their thousands how can the
'Free Iraqis' not want to just bury their heads in shame?]

AND, IN NEWS, 26/03-02/04/03 (12)


*  Iraq war must end immediately, says Russia's Putin
*  Russia to lose out on postwar Iraqi oil reserve, oil chief warns [though
'"as far as oil contracts as concerned, Russian firms don't have the capital
or technology needed to develop Iraqi oilfields, they would have needed
Western firms in any case." ... The US ambassador to Moscow ... warned that
the United States "can offer no guarantees, because we will not be able to
dictate the attitude of the next Iraqi government."' They haven't lost their
sense of humour]
*  Paris Indignant At British Coverage Of French Foreign Minister's Remarks
[over question, 'who do you want to win the war?' Dominique de Villepin and
Jacques Chirac both quoted as saying they want a quick USUK victory]
*  More than 135 countries demand end to Iraq war ['The 22-member Arab Group
and the Non-Aligned Movement, which represents  about 115 mainly developing
countries ...' Does this mean none of the Arab countries are members of the
NAM? That all 115 members of the NAM have been consulted and agreed to
denounce the war and that, consequently, none of them feature as part of the
COW? or indeed that all 22 members of the Arab League are opposed to the war
- including Qatar and Kuwait?]
*  US sanctions feeding "Pakistan next after Iraq" fears: analysts ['Even
President Pervez Musharraf gave it currency when he told businessmen on
January 18 "there were chances" that Pakistan would become a target of
Western forces after Iraq.'
*  Belgium's good intentions on human rights go awry [Belgium's claim to a
'universal jurisdiction' to try war crimes wherever they occur is fine so
long as it is only used to embarrass commies and tinpot third world
dictators but it becomes ridiculous when they try to apply it to rich and
powerful men such as G.Bush Sr and Richard Cheney.]
*  French PM wades into a tide of anti-Americanism ['Jean-Pierre Raffarin
says 'The Americans are not our enemy. We are in the camp of democracy' thus
putting himself on the side of the invader against the defender. However,
'The centre-left newspaper Libération said there had been "radio silence"
from the Elysée Palace since the war began.'']


*  We won't be subcontractors, warns UN [Mark Malloch Brown, administrator
of the UN development programme: "The Geneva conventions will require that
our relations with the occupying power are not subservient ones ...", and if
that means not getting in at all, "so be it".]
*  Deal Reached on Iraq Oil-for-Food Effort [On continued administration of
the Oil for Food scheme. Control over the account to be in the hands of Kofi
Annan. It is not clear if the government of Iraq agreed to this though
'Russia and Syria have insisted that the resolution must not legitimize the
war, presuppose a change in Iraq's leadership, or give the United States
control over the escrow account, which contains billions of dollars. Russia
was also concerned about Iraqi sovereignty over oil resources.']
*  UN gives the nod to revamp its oil-for-food programme
*  France pushes for UN aid resolution [Account of interview with Dominique
de Villepin, whose view - that 'the countries that have taken the lead on
the ground may have a special responsibility" but they should exercise it
"under the umbrella of the UN to confer legitimacy"' - seems to suggest a
weakening of principle. The UN cannot 'confer legitimacy' on an illegal
*  The United Nations ‹ a stolen future [Abdelmalik Salman on the danger US
policy poses to international law. 'Spanish High Court Judge Baltazar Garzon
- who achieved international fame when he indicted former Chilean dictator
Augusto Pinochet ... said the war on Iraq was "utterly illegal, despite all
the justifications put forward by the Spanish, British, and US
governments."' He doesn't get round to suggesting the UN should consider the
possibility of functioning without the US]
*  US-led war violates UN charter: former UN chief [Boutros Boutros Ghali]
*  U.N. Expert Urges Monitors for Iraq [Andreas Mavrommatis, presenting a
report 'prepared before the start of the U.S.-led war on Iraq' to the U.N.
Human Rights Commission. He claims that his 'less confrontational approach
... led to the general amnesty last October that freed 25,000 Iraqi inmates,
after he had urged the step as a way to ease appalling prison conditions']
*  U.N. pinpoints $1 billion in food, medicine for Iraq [Material already
bought by the legal government of Iraq prior to the war]

AND, IN NEWS, 26/03-02/04/03 (13)


*  Key Rumsfeld Adviser Perle Resigns ['saying he did not want a controversy
over his business dealings to distract from Rumsfeld's management of the war
in Iraq']
*  Resignation Letter from Yet Another U.S. Diplomat [Impressive letter from
Mary Wright, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Ulaanbaatar,
*  Offense and Defense: The battle between Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon
[This article will either crashdive to oblivion if Baghdad falls or it will
stand as a prophetic masterpiece. The broad thesis is well known: that
Donald Rumsfeld had 'insisted that a smaller, faster moving attack force,
combined with overwhelming air power, would suffice' against traditional
army advice that 'The military is not like a corporation that can be
streamlined. It is the most inefficient machine known to man. It's the
redundancy that saves lives.' Because of this, US military equipment is
being overstretched and beginning to malfunction, materiel is running out
and will take too long to replenish. The Turkish pullout was a disaster and
the army should have delayed to catch up with it, but was pushed forward for
a political agenda. "There isn't any Arab fighting group on the ground in
Iraq who is with the United States", and an unprecedented rapprochement is
taking place between Turkey and Syria. 'One senior Administration official
commented to me, speaking of the Iraqis, "They're not scared. Ain't it
something? They're not scared."' And, most amusingly, we learn that 'Chalabi
has repeatedly predicted that the Tehran government would provide support,
including men and arms, if an American invasion of Iraq took place.']
*  Emperor George [Jonathan Freedland's misty-eyed illusions about the US
have been blown apart by the crude rhetoric of the current Masters of the
Universe, and he feels betrayed. But how he could ever have believed in a US
which would 'avoid meddling' in the affairs of other nations - treat other
nations as equals - respect other nation's national sovereignty is anyone's
guess. Mr Freedland could benefit from an intensive course in the writings
of Noam Chomsky]


*  History will prove us right [Tony Blair writing for the largely Muslim
Straits Times. He's sticking to his story that the war is about protecting
us all, and notably 'Mr Saddam''s neighbours, from weapons of mass
destruction. He tells us that 'Before Mr Saddam's shadow fell on Iraq, its
economy was vibrant and people prosperous' though the most vibrant and
prosperous period of Iraq's recent history appears to have been between 1968
and 1979, precisely the period when Mr Saddam's shadow fell on it. He
presents the whole operation as an effort to impose the authority of the
United Nations and the 'international community' but he must presumably know
that his rhetoric in this respect is many times removed from that of the
Empire and that violating the Charter of the United Nations is not the best
way of imposing its authority]
*  Cook: bring our lads home [Robin Cook indicates that his cabinet
colleagues had expected a quik'n'easy war. He says 'I want our troops home
and I want them home before more of them are killed' but later had to
backtrack and say he wants a speedy USUK victory which in practice means he
thinks the troops should remain and that we should put all our efforts into
a hard prosecution of the war.]
*  Blair holds key to reuniting EU after war: Belgian FM
*  Straw's Iraq speech: Full text [This has so much in it that is
tendentious that an essay could be written in reply. It starts with a
discussion of the media, then goes on to a defence of the war, though not on
the grounds of Iraq's possible possession of weapons of mass destruction.
The emphasis is on Saddam's mistreatment of the Iraqi people but he somehow
manages to confuse Mr Hussein's misdeeds with the misdeeds committed by the
United Nations acting under pressure of the British government, as when he
says: 'By centralising control over the distribution of basic foodstuffs and
imposing measures that have devastated the economy, the regime has made 60%
of the population dependent on it for their basic needs' (possibly the other
40% includes the Kurds whom Oil For Food reduced to a a state of dependence
on the World Food Programme for their basic needs). During the media
discussion he says: 'Saddam Hussein has caused a humanitarian crisis in Iraq
and one which at least equals Milosevic's worst excesses' and then goes on
to describe acts attributed to S.Hussein which go far beyond anything that
was ever ascribed to Slobodan Milosevic. And how dare one of the men
responsible for the massacres at Hilla and Shulu'a evoke the very
contentious massacre at Racak (the question of Racak turns on whether the
Serbs were dealing with armed opposition or not. All the evidence suggests
they were. At its worst the 'massacre' at Racak was a case of collateral
damage and a mild one compared to those which have already become
commonplace in the present war). But then one of his main intentions is to
win those who supported the crime against Serbia round to the war on Iraq

AND, IN NEWS, 26/03-02/04/03 (14)


*  Many Iraqi troops being coerced to fight, defectors say
*  Kurdish fighters say they lack supplies [US army arrive in dramatic
fashion but without any equipment for their Kurdish allies: "We're
completely vulnerable to an attack now," Talabani said. '"We wouldn't even
know if we were hit with a chemical weapons attack until it was much too
late because we have no detection equipment."' Anyone would think the US
don't think a chemical attack is very likely]
*   Kurdish fighters swarm into northern Iraq [and Robert Karniol of Jane's
Defence Weekly suggests it is unlikely that the US paratroopers in the
Kurdish Autonomous Zone will be used against Baghdad]
*  Iraq attacks Kurdish positions in the north ['"We haven't exceeded our
limits," said Rostem Hamid Rahim, local commander of the peshmergas of the
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). "Don't write anything that will upset
the Turks."' Another PUK man is quoted as saying that the US targetted
Khurmal deliberately because they don't like Islamists]
*  The north: Kurds wait nervously as Iraqis retreat
*  Dozens killed as US special forces overrun 'terrorist' camps [Ansar
el-Islam. Patrick Cockburn says confusingly 'The site alleged to have been
the poison factory turned out to be controlled by another Islamic group.'
Khurmal, which belonged to another group, was alleged by Colin Powell to be
the site but the real site (toured soon after by jounralists who saw nothing
but some tomatoes chopped up on a table) was indeed attributed to Ansar, was
it not?]
*  Raid Finds al-Qaida Tie to Iraq Militants [Ansar el-Islam. The evidence
seems to consist of an address book. Extracts in which the PUK, riding on
the Eagle's wings, and Gen Ruchard Myers, both exult in the feeling of
having won a mighty victory]
*  SAS rescue claim after bungled operation


*  Rumsfeld Hopes for Shiite Iraq Uprising [in Baghdad]
*  'New Rome' turns deaf ear to wisdom [Intelligent assessment from Lebanese
Culture Minister Ghassan Salameh, reminding us that most Shia fought with
Saddam Hussein against Iran and that many non-Baath elements helped in the
suppression of the 1991 risings: "A lot of us were disputing this point in
the past few years Š with my American colleagues. I know of no regime that
can last for 30 years with only one single man and his tribe."]
*  Top Iraqi clergy blast "immoral" war but hope to return from exile
[Ayatollah Mohammad Hadi al-Razi and Ayatollah Hassan Jawaheri. 'As for
plans for post-war Iraq, the four clerics stressed the next Iraqi government
should apply sharia, or Islamic law, as in Iran ... "We have big plans to
restore primacy to Najaf and Karbala ... that have suffered from the
repression of Saddam Hussein's regime," said Ayatollah Jawaheri. "We will
return to Najaf with our 3,000 students to spread the faith and the word of
God," he said.' Good news for General Garner ...]
*  Why 2003 is not 1991 [Dilip Hiro, one of those with the best knowledge of
the situation, on why there hasn't been an uprising. Including opposition
from the Shi'i clergy and the fact that: 'Many of those Iraqis who hate
Saddam loathe America more. They hold it responsible for the UN sanctions
which over the last dozen years have reduced their living standards by 90%
and caused them untold misery.' None of the creatures who go on about the
error of 1991 have the courage to point to the much worse error of twelve
years of economic blockade as a reason why their posture as liberators is
not taken very seriously]
*  Only U.S. expected uprising - Iraqi cleric [Hakim. He also says 'he would
only accept a post-Saddam government if it was elected by the Iraqi people
... but if the government is appointed, we'll resist with political means
and if war is imposed on us, we'll fight that war.']

AND, IN NEWS, 26/03-02/04/03 (15)


*  Convoy hijacked in aid 'disaster' [Kuwaiti Red Crescent delivery to
*   Iraqi refugee camps stand empty ['Kris Janowski, a UNHCR spokesman
'noted that military campaigns alone rarely trigger big refugee flows which
were more associated with political persecution or the special targeting of
individual groups.']
*  The first casualty: A look at the way the war is being spun and reported
[Arrival of Sir Galahad delayed to suit media, according to the BBC Today
programme's foreign affairs correspondent, Mike Williams]
*  Aid groups say military see aid as propaganda tool [but since  'southern
Iraq is still too dangerous for civilian relief teams' and the aid groups
'refuse to work alongside the military', there doesn't seem to be much
choice other than distribution by the military]
*  Wanted: 32 Galahads a day [Nick Guttmann, head of emergencies for
Christian Aid, complains about the lack of professionalism in distributing
*   We cannot organise relief beyond Umm Qasr, insist aid agencies [One of
many articles that persist in desribing Iraq's property under the Oil for
Food arrangement as 'aid']
*  Water, food trickle into Iraq ['people in three autonomous Kurdish
provinces of the north are believed to need food more urgently than people
in the central government-controlled remainder of Iraq because they received
only a month's rations before the 12-day-old war began, while Iraqis
elsewhere got two months' rations.' We are reminded that the Kurdish
operation was managed by the World Food Program and the rest of the contry
directly by Baghdad. Which of them did better this time round?]


*  'City of peace' remains a victim of suffering [Lebanon Daily Star account
of the history of Baghdad]
*  Dogged by destiny [Review of Arab Nationalism in the 20th Century: From
Triumph to Despair by Adeed Dawisha, 352pp, Princeton, £19.95: 'Dawisha
argues that the Arab revolt against the Ottoman empire was originally
proclaimed in the name of Islam, not in the name of Arabism or the Arab
*  Ancient Iraqi swamp culture drained but not dead [Long account of the
Iraqi marshlands, which appear to have been very extensive - 'bigger than
the Everglades and half the size of Switzerland little more than a decade
ago' - and may conceal enormous untapped reserves of oil. The article
suggests that US oil companies would be more amenable to a restoration of
the marsh culture than the Russians]
*  The end of civilisation [On the destruction of Iraq's archaeological
heritage: 'The Americans are quick to point to the Iraqi airbase that sits
in the shadow of the great ziggurat of Ur ... But what few in the Pentagon
seem to realise is that the Ur airbase was built by the British in the days
of its colonial mandate, when the RAF first demonstrated the civilising
capabilities of bombing civilians from the air.' The article goes into some
detail including on the work of the archaeologist Donny George. The US, it
appears have shown more sensitivity to this problem than the British]

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