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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 iraqwar.ru '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 time? 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) BBC CHRONOLOGY Day by day, 27th March to 2nd April AND, IN NEWS, 26/03-02/04/03 (2) ADVANCE OF THE GOLDEN HORDE * 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] WESTERN ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT * 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) THE PARTISAN WAR * 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) GRU INTELLIGENCE REPORTS (PERHAPS) * 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 Baghdad] COALITION OF THE NOT VERY WILLING * 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) THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME * 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] PROSPECTS FOR PEACE AND DEMOCRACY * 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) THE SIEGE OF BASRA * 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 spokesmen * 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 men.'] * 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 lines] * 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 FIRST TASTE OF FREEDOM * 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 invasion.'] * 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) COLLATERAL DAMAGE * '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 bombed * 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 MURPHY'S LAW * 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) DISHONEST CASE FOR WAR * 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 gas] * 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 URL ONLY http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20030329/ap_on_re_mi_ea/wa r_blaming_blix&cid=716&ncid=716 * Blix to Step Down After U.S. Snub by EDITH M. LEDERER and DAFNA LINZER 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?] WAR OF THE WAVES * 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) OUT IN THE STREETS * 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] SYRIA AND IRAN WAIT THEIR TURN * 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 stations"] * 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) TURKEY WAITS ITS TURN * 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, Syria'] * 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 difficulties)] * Turkey agrees to compromise on access for US THE ARAB WORLD WAITS IT TURN * 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 region.'] * 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 planes."] * 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) AHMAD CHALABI ET AL WAIT THEIR TURN * 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 control] * 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) INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY WAITS ITS TURN * 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.''] UNITED NATIONS WAITS ITS TURN * 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 invasion] * 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) THE COURT OF HULAGU KHAN * 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, Mongolia] * 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] THE FAITHFUL FRIEND * 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) EXCITED KURDS * 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 SULKY SHI'I * 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) HUMANITARIAN AID * Convoy hijacked in aid 'disaster' [Kuwaiti Red Crescent delivery to Safwan] * 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 aid] * 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?] HISTORY AND HERITAGE * '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 nation.'] * 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] _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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