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[casi] News, 26/03-02/04/03 (11)

News, 26/03-02/04/03 (11)


*  Iraqi Opposition Groups Call for Uprising
*  Experts: Iraqi Tribes Will Oppose Saddam
*  Splits emerge in opposition as Pachachi seeks to establish new group
*  Please give us a fighting chance
*  Opposition rejects US-run govt
*  Kurds look for a slice of the action
*   The man who would be kingpin
*  U.S. Army suspends training of Iraqi volunteers in Hungary


Las Vegas Sun, 27th March

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - Iraqi opposition groups called Thursday for a popular
uprising to liberate the country from Iraqi "dictatorship" and outlined a
detailed plan for the future of Iraq.

In a statement faxed to The Associated Press, the six-member Iraqi
opposition leadership council - set up this year to formulate policies for a
post-Saddam Iraq - urged the Iraqi armed forces to "sever ties with the
Baghdad regime" and join them.

"The Iraqi opposition command, out of a sense of responsibility to save the
people, army and people of Iraq ... calls on the people of Iraq in northern,
central and southern Iraq to prepare for an uprising," it said.

The Iraqi armed forces, it continued, should "reject carrying out orders of
the tyrants and avoid turning their members into fuel for a destructive and
losing war." The statement said that after Iraqi armed forces join forces
with the opposition in southern Iraq, the Iraqi opposition command would
inform coalition countries "so that they can distinguish between opposition
forces and other armed forces and safeguard security for citizens and guard
against acts of vengeance and chaos."

In northern Iraq, contact would be established with the liberated areas of
Kurdistan to join forces. In central Iraq, Iraqi forces should announce they
are joining the opposition and establish contact with the opposition command
to coordinate.

The statement also called on Iraqi embassies and diplomatic missions abroad
to sever ties with the Iraqi government and to establish ties with the Iraqi
opposition front.

Afterward, the opposition front would announce a transitional, broad-based
coalition government to run the affairs of the country.

"Among its tasks would be to negotiate with coalition countries and the
United Nations to find and destroy weapons of mass destruction and place a
timetable for the withdrawal of coalition forces from Iraq," the statement

The six-member leadership council was formed at a conference of 54
representatives of an opposition steering committee that met in Salahuddin
in northern Iraq on March 1.

The statement was faxed from the Damascus offices of the Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan - one of two main Iraqi Kurdish factions opposing Saddam Hussein.

by Tanalee Smith
Las Vegas Sun, 27th March

CAIRO, Egypt (AP): For years Saddam Hussein has protected his regime by
promoting tribal interests and buying the loyalties of the chiefs, thereby
ensuring he had the allegiance of the entire tribe.

Now, experts and analysts say those tribes probably will turn against him,
and their cooperation will be crucial to the government of a post-Saddam
Iraq, even a democratic one.

"No one will sacrifice himself for the sake of the nation or Saddam," said
Ghassan Atiyyah, editor of a monthly bulletin on Iraqi affairs published in
London. "They will fight for their own interests."

Iraq's approximately 150 major tribes break down into more than 2,000
smaller clans with a wide range of religions and ethnic groups: Sunni and
Shiite Muslims, Arab, Kurdish, Assyrian, Turkoman. They stretch across most
of the country, historically inhabiting almost 75 percent of the land.

Over the past 13 years, Saddam has bought their loyalty with money, land and
arms. He has made tribal members local party leaders, and in some cases
appointed party leaders as heads of other tribes, tying them to his Baath

He even has authorized sheiks to settle all problems within and between
tribes - from property disputes to murder, eliminating the need for police
or the courts.

Yet, analysts say, most tribes have no love for the president or his regime.

"By and large, no matter how much he bought them with arms and money,
basically they are against him," said Sa'ad Saleh Jabur, chairman of the
opposition Free Iraqi Council. He said many also fear the Iraqi leader.

"The tribes are very vulnerable, and Saddam can wipe them out," Jabur said,
recalling the slaying of hundreds of thousands of tribal members in the
brutal quashing of a tribal uprising in 1991. Many of the tribal leaders
involved fled Iraq.

"They fear him, yes. But has he won them over? No," agreed Atiyyah, himself
the son of a tribal leader.

Atiyyah said the tribes will always side with the victor, and probably will
abandon Saddam if it becomes obvious he will lose the ongoing war.

Robert Rabil, project manager at the Iraq Foundation, a human rights group
in Washington, called the tribes "Saddam's weakest point."

"It all depends on whether their interests are protected," Rabil said. "If
Saddam is going to fall, they may need to re-evaluate their loyalty to the
regime in order to save themselves."

Saddam's sponsorship of the tribes is at odds with his party's platform and
his first years of rule.

When the Baath Party came to power in 1968, it promoted national identity
and pan-Arab brotherhood. Tribal society, with its own laws, loyalty to
sheiks and relative isolation from others did not fit the ideology.

"By its own nature, the tribal system constitutes a danger to Saddam's
system and thinking," said Jabur. "They all have allegiance to a sheik, not
to the president."

Efforts to weaken tribal affiliations included land-reform programs that
confiscated much of the land owned by tribes and a law that banned the use
of tribal names. Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti became Saddam Hussein.

But the leader revisited his strategy after the Shiite uprising in 1991, and
realized he could use their regional loyalties to his advantage, buying the
support of the sheik to ensure that the entire tribe would be on his side.

"Through them he could contain and maintain the areas by making them
responsible for security and peace in their areas," said Atiyyah. "Buying
and winning them is not that difficult, as their loyalties are regional and
they would want to protect their interests anyway."

Iraq's next government also would have to pay careful attention to the
tribes and their influence over the people.

"The process of integration has been reversed by Saddam," Atiyyah said. "To
integrate them will take decades, especially after the damage done by

Lebanon Daily Star, 29th March

BEIRUT: A breach between Washington and its protege Iraqi opposition
factions came to the fore Thursday as Adnan Pachachi called for the
establishment of a new group that could win the support of Abdel-Majid
al-Khoei, a leading figure among Iraqi Shiites.

The United States moved Thursday to quell a move by some Iraqi opposition
groups to name a provisional government for Iraq after the US-led invasion
of the country has toppled Saddam Hussein's regime.

"Iraq's future needs to be decided by the broadest possible grouping of
Iraqis, reflecting Iraq's diverse ethnic and religious makeup and people
from both inside and outside Iraq," said State Department spokesman Richard
Boucher, according to Reuters.

The pro-American opposition groups include the Royal Constitutional
Movement, the Iraqi National Movement, the Supreme Council of the Islamic
Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the Democratic Kurdish Party, the Patriotic
Union of Kurdistan, The Iraqi Turkoman Front, the Assyrian Democratic
Movement, the National Accord Movement and the National Congress.

These factions met last February in Salahiddin in northern Iraq and selected
a committee of six, among them was Adnan Pachachi.

But Pachachi, 79, who was foreign minister in the government toppled by
Saddam Hussein's Baath Party in a 1968 coup, refused to join the Salahiddin

Instead, the aging former minister called for a meeting of some 400
"independent Iraqis," for the establishment of a new "democratic, liberal
gathering," which he hopes would adopt his vision of establishing a secular
and democratic Iraq.

For the first two years, Iraq should be administered by a UN-monitored body
that would draft a constitution and hold elections, according to the
expected platform.

Pachachi said two options dominate post-conflict Iraq: US military rule or a
government in exile. "Both are counter-productive. The former is oblivious
to a vibrant Iraqi nationalism; the latter ignores the aspirations of
massive anti-Baathist forces inside the country," he wrote in the Financial
Times on March 2.

"This is the reason I have rejected offers to take a leading part in the
arrangements for the post-Saddam era," he argued, saying that a week prior
to the Salahiddin conference Jalal Talbani, leader of the Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan, invited him to join the meeting.

Pachachi also said that he declined joining for several reasons including
his doubt of the legitimacy of the group and his perspective that the
committee would serve as an advisory body attached to a US military

Even though sponsors of the conference said they invited all opposition
factions, sources from the Iraqi opposition in Beirut believe one
London-based group might join Pachachi to form a rival opposition front that
would dispute the current gathering.

The London-based group, still at its formation level, is comprised of the
following of Abdel Majid al-Khoei, the son of the late leading Iraqi Shiite
cleric Abul-Qassem al-Khoei.

Reports about Khoei's attendance were not confirmed. If al-Khoei succeeds in
establishing as a credible Shiite faction, he would threaten the leadership
of the Tehran-based Shiite SCIRI.

In January, Khoei did not receive a warm welcome in his trip to Tehran when
opponents demonstrated in front of his residence chanting "go back to
America," according to the Iranian official news agency.,6903,925579,00.html

by Kanan Makiya
The Observer, 30th March

Do not believe any commentator who says that a rising surge of 'nationalism'
is preventing Iraqis from greeting US and British troops in the streets with
open arms.

What is preventing them from rising up and taking over their cities is
confusion about American intentions and fear of the murderous brown-shirt
thugs known as the Fedayeen Saddam, who are leading the small-arms-fire
attacks on American and British soldiers.

The coalition forces must urgently send clear and unmistakable signals to
the people of Iraq that, unlike in 1991, there is no turning back from the
destruction of Saddam Hussein. And to do this effectively, they must turn to
the Iraqi opposition, which has so far been marginalised.

I pressed this point in a meeting with American officials yesterday. The US
needs to understand that Iraqis do not get CNN. They have not heard constant
iterations of how Saddam's demise is imminent. More importantly, they have
not seen it demonstrated.

American forces so far have been content to position themselves outside
Iraqi cities; they have only just began to disrupt Iraqi TV, which is
Saddam's principal tool of maintaining psychological control; and, above
all, they have not allowed Iraqis to go in and organise the population, a
task that we are very eager to carry out.

In Basra, this hesitation has meant tanks sitting on the outskirts of a very
porous city whose main arteries to neighbouring towns and villages have not
even been cut off.

Sporadic and faint-hearted British fire was not enough to prevent Fedayeen
Saddam from quelling the beginnings of a popular uprising. Moreover, hanging
above the head of every Iraqi like a sword of Damocles is the memory of
March 1991, when the uprising of the people of southern Iraq, the intifada,
was mercilessly suppressed, and in a particularly brutal way in Basra.

If Saddam came back from the grave after 1991, Iraqis are thinking, why
could he not do so now? Phone calls the opposition has received over the
past two days from sources in southern Iraq confirm this sense of ambiguity
and hesitation.

Iraqi state TV must be put out of commission - permanently. One Bush
administration official pointed out to me that destroying Iraqi TV will only
mean it has to be rebuilt after the war. So what? Penny-pinching at the
tactical level will lead to disaster at the strategic level.

Saddam's image and those of his henchmen have been visible all throughout
the campaigns in the south and the bombing of Baghdad. Saddam rules through
his face, through his ubiquitous presence. That is what his millions of
larger-than-life wall posters are all about. Every day that image is aired
reinforces an aura of invincibility. Despite the on-camera speculation of
the Western media, not a single Iraqi believes him to be dead. Our phone
conversations confirm that, too.

But eliminating his image is not enough. The coalition needs the Iraqi
opposition - Iraqis who can sneak into the cities and help organise other
Iraqis, men from the same families and social networks that hold these
places together, who know how to communicate with their entrapped brethren,
who can tell them why this time Saddam is finished, and who are able to root
out his cronies when they try to melt away into the civilian population.

One cannot liberate a people - much less facilitate the emergence of a
democracy - without empowering the liberated. Did not a Free France need its
wartime resistance to help, partially at least, redeem the nation's
self-respect, as de Gaulle demonstrated when he rode into Paris?

It is a million times easier for an Iraqi soldier to join his fellow Iraqis
in rebellion than it is to surrender to a foreigner. To date, however, my
meetings with administration officials have given me the impression that
some quarters of Washington are at war with Saddam and others are at war
with the Iraqi National Congress. The administration still refuses to let
the Iraqi opposition activate our networks to make the fighting easier for
the coalition in the cities, towns, and villages. Why?

Kanan Makiya is a writer and Iraqi dissident who spent the past two months
in Iraqi Kurdistan with the leadership of the Iraqi National Congress, the
leading democratic opposition group

Dawn, 30th March

LONDON, March 29, AFP: The leader of a new grouping of Iraqi opposition
figures in exile on Saturday rejected plans for a US military administration
in post-war Iraq, and called for a UN-backed transitional authority to be
set up.

Adnan Pachachi said a US military administration was "in no way acceptable",
drawing applause from some 300 exiles who had arrived for a meeting at a
London hotel.

The gathering of the Independent Iraqis for Democracy (IID) opened on
Saturday morning. It was attended by participants from around the world,
many from the United States, including Shia and Sunni Muslims and Kurds.

The IID consists mainly of liberal, independent figures. Participants at the
meeting also included two important religious Shiite figures, Mohamed Bahr
al Ulum, and Hussein al Sadr.

The IID is keen to differentiate itself from the mainstream US-backed
opposition, which consists of six groups including the Iraqi National
Congress (INC) of Ahmed Chalabi and the two main Kurdish parties.

Washington recently sounded out Pachachi about his willingness to take part
in a future administration. But while agreeing to serve during a transition
period he said he vehemently opposed many US ideas for a post-war Iraq and
the Middle East.

"We want the UN to help us during a period of provisional administration" in
Iraq, said Pachachi, an 80-year-old former foreign minister and ambassador
to the United Nations, who fled Iraq in 1968.

The United States has made clear it is reluctant to allow the United Nations
a role in the post-war running of Iraq and hopes to run an interim military
administration before handing over to a friendly government.

Pachachi now lives in the United Arab Emirates, and appears to have the
support of that country and of several Arab states in the Gulf. (limited access)

by Marie Colvin, Chamchamal
The Times, 30th March


There is clear evidence, however, that the American command is reconsidering
its tactics after the unexpected resistance of the Iraqi army elsewhere.

The defence department has assigned a military attaché to the Iraqi National
Congress (INC), led by the formerly London-based Ahmed Chalabi, who has
arrived in northern Iraq.

He and Kurdish leaders who have rallied under the INC banner are now holding
meetings with senior American military commanders. It is a reversal of
policy because American commanders and politicians have been wary of the
INC, which insists that it will declare a transitional and provisional
government once Saddam falls. But now the Pentagon appears ready to increase
its co-operation, including providing the INC with weapons.

The options under consideration are dramatic. One involves opening a
northern front that would see INC forces, combined with American special
forces, bring guerrilla tactics to the battle in the south.

Another is to utilise INC support in the coming battle for Kirkuk. They
would try to attack from within, rather than a frontal assault, under the
support of American air power.

"We need to empower the Iraqi people, to assure them that Saddam's forces
can be defeated and that they will be supported if they move against
Saddam," Chalabi said.

The INC believes that the war can be turned around. The main problem with
the coalition campaign, it says, is the failure to persuade the Iraqi army
and civilians that Saddam is indeed on the way out. There are signs, though,
that the cohesion of the regime's forces may be weakening.

Yesterday 50 Iraqi soldiers tried to desert, sneaking through a heavily
mined area towards opposition territory. But they were fired on by the last
Iraqi outpost and many were killed.

"During the first war the command and control was eliminated," said a senior

INC source. "Now the decision has been made to save the Iraqi army to
rebuild Iraq, so they are not under such heavy attack. The strategy needs to
be changed."

by David Olive
Toronto Star, 30th March

Over a breakfast of oatmeal and grits in Washington early last year, George
Will, dean of America's neo-conservative pundits, listened with growing
fascination as Ahmed Chalabi, the city's most prominent Iraqi dissident and
a self-described survivor of nine assassination attempts by Saddam Hussein,
explained the ease with which the U.S. could topple the regime in Baghdad.

Saddam could be routed with minimal use of ground forces, Chalabi claimed,
given that there were no regular army or Republican Guard units in Baghdad.
In fact, the Iraqi capital was already subject to rebel hit-and-run attacks
almost daily.

Will allowed that Chalabi, 57, might be a touch naive.

Then again, Will later wrote: "We are at least as apt to overestimate as to
underestimate Iraq's power.

"What Chalabi and other brave people believe should not be dismissed as
wrong just because they, as we, very much want it to be true."

Today, more than a week into the Iraqi war, Republican Guard units in
Baghdad and other Iraqi cities have stalled the coalition forces with their
unexpected resistance.

Most Iraqi civilians have not greeted the invaders with open arms, as
promised by the war planners in Washington.

Last Sunday alone, the Pentagon reported at least 20 U.S. military personnel
dead or missing.

Martin Sieff, senior news analyst at UPI, calculated that if the war
continues at that level of losses for even 100 days, the U.S. death toll
would reach 2,000 - worse than anything since Vietnam.

Remarkably, a poisonous blame game has already begun in the U.S. defence,
diplomatic and intelligence establishment.

Bitter CIA operatives, foreign-service veterans and military officials are
leaking to the media their complaints about Defence Secretary Donald

They say he and his cadre of civilian war planners had stars in their eyes
when they based their scheme for a minimal troop commitment in Iraq on bad
advice fed to them last year by Iraqi exiles who claimed the downfall of
Saddam could be achieved with relatively slight effort.

Asked about those criticisms at a Pentagon briefing last Monday, just four
days after the war began, a scornful Victoria Clarke, the chief Defence
Department spokeswoman, instead speculated about the whereabouts of the

"I'm guessing," she said, "they might be in this building."

Historians will debate Chalabi's impact on the process by which top U.S.
government officials and neo-con intellectuals came around to his view that
ousting Saddam would be a weekend adventure.

And if the war does end quickly, after all, they might also examine his
legacy as a post-war leader of Iraq - the reward Chalabi anticipates from
gaining the favour of White House hawks.

Whatever his leadership prospects, Chalabi is already a remarkable story.

He is regarded as a courageous patriot by the neo-con intelligentsia, and a
snake-oil salesman by many in the U.S. State Department and the intelligence

Seen by admirers as the best hope for uniting Iraq's disparate ethnic,
tribal and geographic factions, Chalabi is derided by rival anti-Saddam
groups as an autocrat and a frontman for the U.S. oil companies he has
courted for years.

An amalgam of Simon Bolivar and George Babbitt, 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."

Born in Baghdad in 1945, Chalabi is a scion of a wealthy Shiite family. His
father and grandfather held senior posts in the Iraqi government, and his
mother hosted salons for the Baghdad elite. But the Chalabis fled Iraq in
the late 1950s, after the revolution that deposed King Faisal II.

Ahmed Chalabi sought a U.S. education, attending the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology and obtaining a doctorate in math at the University of

He taught math at the American University in Beirut and, at the invitation
of Jordan's Crown Prince Hassan, launched Petra Bank, the second-largest
lender in Jordan.

But scarcely a dozen years after its launch, Petra Bank was seized by
Jordanian authorities and Chalabi was sentenced in absentia to 22 years of
hard labour for embezzlement and other crimes.

Chalabi's detractors say that, in fleeing Jordan to avoid arrest, he
absconded with perhaps $70 million (U.S.), and that some of the farmers and
small businesspeople who lost their deposits when Petra Bank collapsed later
committed suicide.

Chalabi's apologists, who are most numerous in the U.S. and particularly
inside the Beltway, believe his story that Jordan fretted over his use of
Petra Bank to fund anti Saddam groups and that he lost a great deal of his
own money tied up in the bank.

In the early 1990s, Chalabi set up the Iraqi National Congress (INC) as an
umbrella organization of fractious dissident groups with the aim of
overthrowing Saddam.

With financial backing from the CIA, the INC operated newspapers and radio
stations in the Kurdish territory of northern Iraq.

Against the wishes of his U.S. government patrons, who thought they were
bankrolling a modest propaganda mission, Chalabi also formed a small army of
about 1,000 soldiers.

In the mid-1990s, Chalabi provoked an uprising that was spectacularly
unsuccessful, failing almost before it began when Saddam's troops did not
defect as he had predicted. Obliged once again to flee, Chalabi decamped to

He maintains he was betrayed by the CIA's half-hearted support of his
activities. But ever since the coup fiasco, the CIA and the State Department
have viewed him with undisguised contempt.

Chalabi appeared to be washed up in January, 2002, when U.S. officials
accused the INC of chaotic bookkeeping and misuse of $97 million (U.S.) in
congressional funding.

Investigators were especially curious about an individual on the payroll
whose job was to guard the coffee and tea room in an INC office to thwart a
suspected plot to poison the staff.

But Chalabi's fortunes turned that same month, after U.S. President George
W. Bush tagged Saddam as an evildoer in his watershed "axis-of-evil" State
of the Union address. The Bush administration, now eager to embrace any
enemy of the thug in Baghdad, promptly restored the INC's funding.

To his enemies, notably the leaders of some dissident groups the INC
purports to represent, Chalabi is not credible as a pan-Iraqi leader.
Skeptical of his worth as an honest broker among the anti-Saddam groups, his
INC briefly demoted him in the late 1990s from chairman to a mere member.

Late last year, the Qatari newspaper Al-Watan said Chalabi and the INC "are
failures and are not even qualified to run a grocery shop." And a poll by
Kurdish opposition newspaper Al-Ahali early this year found only 16 per cent
of the paper's readers favoured Chalabi as the leader of a post-war Iraq.

As a Shiite, Chalabi was further embarrassed this month when the leader of a
major Shiite dissident group, the Supreme Assembly for the Islamic
Revolution in Iraq, broadcast a message on the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV
network telling Shiites not to assist invading U.S. and British forces in
southern Iraq, where Basra has indeed held out.

Still, Chalabi continues to inspire confidence among top U.S. government
officials, including Rumsfeld, Vice-President Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld's
deputy, Pentagon superhawk Paul Wolfowitz.

Chalabi has also nurtured bipartisan support in Congress, winning plaudits
from GOP Senator John McCain and Democrats Joe Biden and Joseph Lieberman.
Leading right-wing think-tanks routinely sing Chalabi's praises.

"People who know him well think he has the potential to be one of the great
Arab leaders of this century," Max Singer, cofounder of the conservative
Hudson Institute, wrote last summer in the neo-con National Review. "Chalabi
could be the key figure in the success of President George W. Bush's new
policy against terrorism, tyranny and threats of biological and nuclear

Chalabi speaks the neo-cons' language.

He has shown an interest in turning over Iraq's many state-owned industries
to private owners and rolling out the welcome mat to foreign investors.

Chalabi has spent years cultivating the CEOs of major U.S. oil firms, who
believe Iraq's vast unexplored oil reserves might exceed those of Saudi

In post-Saddam Iraq, he told the Washington Post, "American companies will
have a big shot at Iraqi oil."

And Chalabi's insistence on a rapid turnover of post-war Iraq to Iraqis
after the briefest possible stewardship of a U.S. military governor fits
with Rumsfeld's desire for a quick U.S. exit in order to curtail resentment
of American occupation.

"There must be no gap in the sovereignty of Iraqis over Iraq," he said last
month, fearing a lengthy transition would give rival leaders a chance to
gain prominence. "It's a major mistake to think you can sidestep the

On his rounds of prestigious media outlets last year, Chalabi told the
London Guardian that - with just 11 weeks of training for his followers,
some anti-tank weapons, air cover and protective gear against chemical or
biological attack - he could humble Saddam's regime.

The incredulous Guardian interviewer reported in February, 2002, that
Chalabi "discussed the defeat of the 400,000-strong Iraqi army as if it was
a mere formality. In his view, President Saddam's army was hollow-packed
with ill-trained conscripts."

A farcical notion, perhaps. But Chalabi's fans embrace him as a visionary.

David Frum, the former Bush speechwriter and co-author of the president's
"axis-of-evil" formulation, spent the evening of last year's re-election of
German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder as a guest at Chalabi's apartment.

Frum found his host to be "as democratic, market-oriented and pro-Western as
any leader the Arab world has produced in half a century."

Chalabi even has a few qualified admirers in the State Department.

Henri Barkey, a former State Department policy planner who focused on Turkey
and the Kurds, has noted how Chalabi raised hackles there, repeatedly trying
to bypass the bureaucracy at Foggy Bottom, which, like the CIA, had come to
manifestly doubt the veracity of intelligence the INC fed the U.S. Defence
Department about Saddam's tottering regime.

Then again, as Barkey, now head of the international relations department at
Pennsylvania's Lehigh University, told the Star last week: "Chalabi is one
of the smartest people I know. He is very effective, but he has also managed
to alienate people with his single-minded determination to achieve his

Those goals are now shared by civilian war planners at the Pentagon who last
wore uniforms in their Boy Scout days.

Many among them claim part-authorship of Rumsfeld's unorthodox war strategy,
which calls for the use of minimal but high-tech military force and a heavy
reliance on psychological operations.

The "psyop" efforts include leaflet drops on enemy territory and CNN images
of American's military might that are expected to shock an awed Iraqi TV
audience into rising up against Saddam's regime.

The neo-cons have much at stake in the Rumsfeld doctrine of drive-by regime
change. The way things are going in the Iraqi campaign, it's possible the
U.S. might have to abandon this military-lite approach to armed intervention
and revert to messy conventional warfare.

In that case, the prospect of lightning strikes against Iran, Syria, Saudi
Arabia, Sudan, Libya and other rogue nations would remain what it was before
the traumatizing events of Sept. 11, 2001 - a neo-con parlour game.

The lineage of the Rumsfeld war plan, and its failure to anticipate that
Iraqis who hate Saddam would nonetheless take up arms to defend their
country, cannot be traced exclusively to Chalabi.

But the walkover gambit, looking more dubious with each new dispatch from
the war front, has had its most persistent advocate in the math professor
turned insurrectionist who spent more than a decade trying to draw the U.S.
into a Mesopotamian conflict.

That might make Chalabi radioactive, unfit for a U.S.-anointed leadership
role in post-war Iraq.

Not so, says the Hudson Institute's Singer, who still sees Chalabi as a
viable candidate to emerge as Iraq's first post-war president or prime

When I reached the Chalabi cheerleader last week, he was sanguine about the
coalition setbacks and Chalabi's errant prognostications.

"As far as I know," Singer said, "what Chalabi predicted was that there
would not be major resistance by the military forces of the regime, and so
far that has turned out to be correct."

In a battlefield assessment at odds with reports from "embedded" war
correspondents but perhaps informed by the high-level defence department
contacts that the neo-con punditry enjoys, Singer asserted that "virtually
all the trouble coalition forces have had has been with irregular forces
operating behind our lines.

"And in many cases, these irregular forces are not part of the Iraqi
government but forces controlled by Syria or Iran, or Al Qaeda or other
terrorist organizations."

Say this about Chalabi's persuasive powers: Many of the people he convinces
of something stay convinced.

"Chalabi," Singer insisted, "is so widely supported by the Iraqis that the
U.S. will have little alternative to his role in the post-war administration
of Iraq."

by Pablo Gorondi
Plain Dealer, 1st April

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) -- The U.S. Army has suspended a Hungarian-based
program that sought to train Iraqi dissidents for non-combat roles in the
war, military officials said Monday.

It did not say why the program was suspended or how many dissidents had
participated. But local media reported that about 80 volunteers had
completed training at the Taszar base in southern Hungary, dubbed "Camp

The Iraqis were trained in two groups -- the first group finishing in
February, the second on Friday.

Maj. Gen. David Barno, the Training Task Force commander, said in a
statement that the Iraqi volunteers already deployed were making "invaluable
contributions" to coalition efforts.

Barno said the first group of volunteers was in the Gulf region helping
coalition civil affairs units deliver humanitarian aid through the southern
Iraqi port of Umm Qasr.

The second group also would be sent to the region, he said.

The Army recruited the volunteers from Iraqi opposition groups around the
world, although most had been living in the United States. They represent
the major Iraqi ethnic groups, including Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds.

The Hungarian government had authorized the United States to bring 1,500
trainers and up to 3,000 Iraqis for non-combat training sessions.

U.S. military has used Taszar since December 1995, when it transformed the
Hungarian military base into a logistics post for NATO-led peacekeepers in

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