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[casi] News, 02-09/04/03 (10)

News, 02-09/04/03 (10)


*  Saddam's regime is a European import
*  Aid shipments to Iraq being refused     
*  Bagdhad, two cities separated by the Tigris
*  British troops find human remains in Iraqi 'morgue'
*  Remains of 200 killed in Iran-Iraq war found near Basra
*  Remains are old soldiers, not torture victims
*  US finds 'terrorist' camp
*   Iran says Iraq-based armed opposition defecting in face of US-led
*  Ali Hassan al-Majid


*  Umm Qasr aid effort 'a shambles'
 *  Call to prayer revived by troops
*  Baghdad hospitals on the brink of crisis
*  ICRC stops staff movement in Baghdad
*  Lack of fresh water threatens hospitals swamped by casualties
*  War Against Iraqi People


 by Bernard Lewis
National Post (Canada), 3rd April

In the Western world, knowledge of history is poor -- and the awareness of
history is frequently poorer. For example, people often argue today as if
the kind of political order that prevails in Iraq is part of the immemorial
Arab and Islamic tradition. This is totally untrue. The kind of regime
represented by Saddam Hussein has no roots in either the Arab or Islamic
past. Rather, it is an ideological importation from Europe -- the only one
that worked and succeeded (at least in the sense of being able to survive).

In 1940, the French government accepted defeat and signed a separate peace
with the Third Reich. The French colonies in Syria and Lebanon remained
under Vichy control, and were therefore open to the Nazis to do what they
wished. They became major bases for Nazi propaganda and activity in the
Middle East. The Nazis extended their operations from Syria and Lebanon,
with some success, to Iraq and other places. That was the time when the
Baath Party was founded, as a kind of clone of the Nazi and Fascist parties,
using very similar methods and adapting a very similar ideology, and
operating in the same way -- as part of an apparatus of surveillance that
exists under a one-party state, where a party is not a party in the Western
democratic sense, but part of the apparatus of a government. That was the
origin of the Baath Party.

When the Third Reich collapsed, and after an interval was replaced by the
Soviet Union as the patron of all anti-Western forces, the adjustment from
the Nazi model to the Communist model was not very difficult and was carried
throughout without problems. That is where the present Iraqi type of
government comes from. As I said before, it has no roots in the authentic
Arabic or Islamic past. It is, instead, part of the most successful and most
harmful process of Westernization to have occurred in the Middle East.

When Westernization failed in the Middle East, this failure was followed by
a redefinition and return to older, more deep-rooted perceptions of self and
other. I mean, of course, religion.

Religion had several advantages. It was more familiar. It was more readily
intelligible. It could be understood immediately by Muslims. Nationalist and
socialist slogans, by contrast, needed explanation. Religion was less
impeded. What I mean is that even the most ruthless of dictatorships cannot
totally suppress religiously defined opposition. In the mosques, people can
meet and speak. In most fascist-style states, openly meeting and speaking
are rigidly controlled and repressed. This is not possible in dealing with
Islam. Islamic opposition movements can use a language familiar to all, and,
through mosques, can tap into a network of communication and organization.

This gave to religious arguments a very powerful advantage. In fact,
dictatorships were even helping them by eliminating competing oppositions.
They had another great advantage in competing with democratic movements.
Such movements must allow freedom of expression, even to those who are
opposed to them. Those who are opposed to them are under no such obligation.
Indeed, their very doctrines require them to suppress what they see as
impious and immoral ideas -- an unfair advantage in this political

These religious movements have another advantage. They can invoke the very
traditional definition of "self" and "enemy" that exists in the Islamic
world. It is very old. We see it, for example, in historiography. We can
talk of European history as a struggle against, for example, the Moors, or
the Tartars. If you look at contemporary historiography for the Middle
East's Muslim peoples, their struggle is always defined in religious terms.
For their historians, their side is Islam, their ruler is the lord of Islam,
and the enemy is defined as infidels. That earlier classification has come
back again. Osama bin Laden's habit of defining his enemies as "crusaders"
illustrates this. By "crusaders," bin Laden does not mean Americans or
Zionists. "Crusaders," of course, were Christian warriors in a holy war for
Christendom, fighting to recover the holy places of Christendom, which had
been lost to Muslim conquerors in the 7th century. Bin Laden sees it as a
struggle between two rival religions.

I say again: To blame the Saddam Hussein-type governments on Islamic and
Arabic traditions is totally false. Those traditions led to the development
of societies that, while not democratic in the sense of having elected
bodies, produced limited governments. That is, governments limited by the
holy law, limited in a practical sense by the existence of powerful groups
in society, like the rural gentry and the military and religious
establishments. These acted as constraints on the power of the government.
The idea of absolute rule is totally alien to Islamic practice until, sad to
say, modernization made it possible.

What the process of modernization did was to strengthen the sovereign power,
and place at the disposal of the sovereign power the whole modern apparatus
of control and repression. Modernization also weakened the intermediate
powers, which previously limited the powers of the state and had acted as a
countervailing force. Modernization meant a shift from old elites living on
their estates, to new elites who regarded the state as their estate.

Modernization has not erased the fact that the peoples of the Muslim Middle
East have a tradition of limited, responsible government. While not
democratic, this tradition shares many features of democratic Western
governments. It provides, I believe, a good basis for the development of
democratic institutions -- as has happened elsewhere in the world. I remain
cautiously optimistic for their future.

Bernard Lewis is the Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Eastern Studies,
Emeritus, at Princeton University. He has written numerous books about
Islam, including, most recently, The Crisis Of Islam: Holy War And Unholy
Terror (March 2003). This essay is adapted from the 8th Annual Barbara Frum
Lecture delivered by Prof. Lewis in Toronto which will be broadcast on CBC
Radio's IDEAS on April 24.

by Tareq Ayyoub and Dina Al Wakeel
Jordan Times, 4th April

TREIBIL/AMMAN ‹ The Iraqi Red Crescent has rejected a shipment of
humanitarian assistance donated by their Jordanian counterpart and ordered
the trucks loaded with medicine to return to Amman, sources said Thursday.

The sources, who spoke with The Jordan Times at the Iraqi border crossing,
said they were instructed by the Iraqi Red Crescent Society to return the
six trucks loaded with humanitarian aid that have remained at the crossing
point since their arrival.

In transit from Ruweished to Amman, President of Jordan Red Crescent Society
Mohammad Hadid told The Jordan Times Thursday night that he had received a
letter from his Iraqi counterpart earlier in the day. "[The letter] informed
us that they would not accept any humanitarian assistance or medical relief.
They said that they only wanted us to condemn the aggression against Iraq,
the killing of civilians and the violation of International Humanitarian
Law, particularly the bombardment of the Red Crescent Hospital several days
ago, which caused damage to the hospital and left several injured."

Hadid added that he did not know what would become of the trucks, explaining
that he had contacted the International Committee of the Red Cross in
Baghdad to find out additional information about the shipment, but could not
provide anything further in that regard.

When asked if shipments were being refused from other countries as well,
Hadid said he believed aid from all Red Crescent Societies was being refused
and that Jordan was not being targeted specifically.

The letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Jordan Times, was signed by
the chairman of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, Hisham Salman Saadon and
read: "We apologise but we cannot accept any humanitarian assistance. We
urge you to work to denounce the inhuman practices and to end the aggression
against our country ... We urge you to demand an immediate stoppage to the

The drivers of the six trucks, which have been waiting at the border for the
last two days, said that only trucks loaded with goods purchased by Iraq in
line with the oil-for-food programme were being allowed to cross. All
humanitarian assistance was being refused and returned to the Kingdom, they


DUBAI, April 5 (AFP) - Baghdad, scene of bloody street clashes between US
and Iraqi troops on Saturday, is a bustling metropolis of some five million
people, made up of two cities, Al Kharakh and Russafa, separated by the
river Tigris.

Founded on the banks of the Tigris in 762 and called City of Peace, Baghdad
boasts 13 bridges spanning the river, linking the two settlements on the
eastern and western banks of the capital which sprawls over some 50
kilometres (30 miles).

Al Kharakh, on the west bank, is home to the airport, now stripped off its
title Saddam International, a number of Saddam Hussein's presidential
palaces, key ministries and luxury hotels like the Al Rashid, temporary home
of visiting VIPS.

It also houses the Republican Palace, bombed several times since the start
of the war 17 days ago, a veritable fortress built along the riverside in
the heart of the city and dating from the first days of the Republic in

Well-to-do neighbourhoods like Al Mansur, Al Yarmuk and Sidiyya are home to
a thriving middle class and an extensive foreign community, while the
architecture is on the grand scale, with vast monuments and wide avenues
giving it the air of a major international city.

On the opposite bank, Al Russafa is the very image of old Baghdad, with its
popular markets, minarets, museums and old palaces, narrow streets and busy

It also houses Tahrir or Liberation Square, dominated by a huge monument
commemorating the overthrow of the monarchy in 1958.

In addition, a number of government ministries are based here, cheek by jowl
with the predominantly Shiite Muslim population, closely watched for signs
of unrest in their massive poorer neighbourhoods, Saddam City pre-eminent
among them.

Abu Nawwass Avenue, on the east bank, is one of the longest boulevards in
the capital. Once a popular haunt with foreign tourists in the 1970s, the
avenue has lost some of its gloss over the years but remains famous for its
fish restaurants.

Haaveru Daily, Maldives, 5th April

LONDON - Hundreds of human remains were discovered Saturday by British
soldiers in a makeshift morgue in southern Iraq, Britain's domestic Press
Association news agency and Sky News television reported.

The remains, including bundles of bone in strips of military uniform, were
found by officers from the 3rd Regiment of the Royal Horse Artillery in an
abandoned Iraqi military base on the outskirts of Al Zubayr.

It was not known how long the remains had been there, but they will be
investigated by forensic specialists as possible evidence of atrocities
carried out by President Saddam Hussein's regime.

Al Zubayr is 20 kilometers (15 miles) southwest of Iraq's second city Basra,
in an area secured by British troops allied with US forces which invaded the
country on March 20.

Sky News, in a live report from west of Basra, carried video images of the
morgue, showing a line of cardboard boxes with what appeared to be white
shrouds in each of them.

A British soldier was also seen flipping through what appeared to be a
handwritten list of the dead.

Captain Jack Kemp, 40, told the Press Association that he discovered
"approximately 200 makeshift coffins" when he led a team of soldiers into
the building for a security check.

"I wouldn't like to speculate, but the bones inside are obviously years
old," he told the Press Association. "It is certainly not from the recent
conflict but it could be from the one before."

He said the building had been declared off-limits to all personnel "and we
will treat it as a mass grave."

In a graphic description of the scene, Press Association chief reporter
Vanessa Allen, who is embedded with the British army's Royal Logistic Corps,
told of cardboard coffins "stacked five deep in a warehouse."

A neighbouring building "contained apparent cells and catalogues of
photographs of the dead, most of whom had died from gunshot wounds to the

"Others were mutilated beyond recognition, their faces burned and swollen in
the faded black and white photographs," she reported. "Outside stood what
one soldier described as 'a purpose-built shooting gallery'."

She said a tiled plinth, about a foot (30 centimeters) in height, stood in a
courtyard, with the brickwork behind it riddled with bullets. Behind it was
a drainage ditch.

"Inside the warehouse, one of the bags and coffins contained an identity
card written in Arabic, while military webbing and boot soles were visible
in others," she reported.

"Human skulls, their teeth broken and missing, looked out from other bags,
bundled into the coffins."


Forensic experts are investigating the remains of up to 200 people found by
British forces in a rundown military complex on Saturday near Iraq's second
largest city Basra.
"They discovered some bodies in a barracks between Basra and Az Zubair," a
British military spokeswoman at Central Command headquarters in Qatar said.
Television footage showed dozens of wooden coffins, bones in plastic bags
and pieces of military uniform as well as photographs of slain men most of
which appeared to have gunshot wounds to the head. It was not clear whether
the pictures had anything to do with the corpses. 
A skull found with other human remains alongside coffins and and photos of
dead bodies at an abandoned Iraqi base near the city of Basra
A British military spokesman on the scene was quoted as saying the bodies ­
which were described as desiccated - might be from a previous war since they
were quite old.
Al Jazeera television quoted an unnamed Iraqi official in Basra as saying
the remains were those of Iraqi soldiers killed in the 1980-1988 war with
Iran and recently repatriated by Tehran.
The official said the start of the Anglo-American war on Iraq prevented
officials from returning the bodies to their families.
Iran and Iraq still exchange prisoners and bodies even though the war ended
15 years ago and the last prisoner swap took place on March 19 ­ a day
before the start of the current war.

Sydney Morning Herald (The New York Times/Washington Post), 8th April

Human remains found inside a makeshift morgue in a former artillery complex
appeared to be soldiers killed in the Iran-Iraq war, not victims of
atrocities as first reports suggested.

Investigators from the US 75th Exploitation Task Force arrived at the site
north of Zubayr on Sunday morning from their camp in northern Kuwait to
investigate initial descriptions which suggested the morgue was a centre for
torture and

But after just a few hours, Chief Warrant Officer Dan Walters, the leader of
the task force's Criminal Investigation Division unit, said a preliminary
examination of the remains of 408 men in 664 thin wooden coffins and some of
the thousands of pages of documents in a building next to the warehouse
suggested that atrocities had probably not occurred there.

Rather, he said, Iraqis had apparently been processing the remains and
preparing to exchange them with Iran.

"Their wounds were consistent with combat deaths, not executions," said Mr

"So far," he added, "there are no indications that war crimes were committed

Outside the warehouse, a bullet-riddled wall also turned out to be less than
the initial reports had suggested. "A search of the area did not reveal any
evidence that the wall was used as a firing wall or an execution wall," said
Mr Walters.

An estimated one million people were killed in the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war,
which Saddam initiated against the fledgling Iranian Islamic government, his
first war as president. The conflict ended in an uneasy truce. But Iraq
claimed victory in the war, which nearly bankrupted the government and paved
the way for the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

It was in the war with Iran that Saddam ordered the use of poison gas
against enemy forces for the first time, as he did against Iraqi Kurds. But
members of the forensic team examining the remains said they had found no
trace of chemicals or biological agents.

Brigadier General Mirfeisal Baqerzadeh, the head of Iran's search and
recovery committee of those missing in action, had said that the bodies were
found in recent months in joint recovery operations in Iran and southern
Iraq, but that the exchange had not taken place because of the American-led
invasion. Some early news reports by correspondents travelling with the
British forces who stumbled on the site on Saturday suggested that it had
been used for torture.

But Captain Thomas Jagielski, who heads the war crimes team, said the
suspected "torture chambers" were apparently makeshift offices separated by
hastily erected mud-brick partitions. Here, Iraqis had apparently documented
the identities of the dead.

About 85 per cent of the dead were Iraqis, Mr Walters said. The rest are
believed to be Iranian. The men are believed to have been killed sometime in
the mid-1980s.

Mr Walters said efforts would be made in the coming days and weeks to return
the remains to the families of the Iranians and Iraqis.

The Age (Australia), from Reuters, 7th April

The US military said today it had captured or killed fighters from Sudan,
Egypt and other countries in Iraq, and some of those captured had led it to
a terrorist training camp.

Brigadier-General Vincent Brooks told a briefing at Central Command in Qatar
that the camp, found at Salman Pak southeast of Baghdad, demonstrated "a
linkage between this regime and terrorism".

But he said there was nothing to tie the camp to specific organisations.

The United States, Britain and their allies went to war against Iraq on
March 20, accusing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of hiding chemical and
other weapons of mass destruction and vowing to topple him.

Before the conflict, Washington sought to convince doubters in the United
Nations that there were links between Baghdad and al-Qaeda, the network it
accuses of carrying out the September 11,  2001, suicide attacks on America.

Since invading, US military officials have accused Iraq of using "terrorist"

"Some of these fighters come from Sudan, some from Egypt, some from other
places," Brooks said of the foreigners.

"We've killed a number of them and we've captured a number of them, and
that's where some of this information came from. It does say an awful lot
about the approach the regime is taking to what's going on the battlefield
right now."

Baghdad had appealed to sympathisers in other countries to join its forces
in the battle against US-led forces and in recent days there have been
reports of many people from Arab countries travelling to Iraq to do just

Brooks gave sketchy details of what convinced the US forces they had
uncovered a terrorist camp, referring only the work being done by those
captured and "inferences to the type of training they received".

He said some tanks, a small number of personnel carriers plus buildings used
for command, control, morale and welfare were all destroyed at the camp.

"All of that - when you roll together the reports, where they're from, why
they might be here - tells us that there's still a linkage clearly between
this regime and terrorism, and that's something we want to make sure we


TEHRAN, April 7 (AFP) - Scores of militants from Iran's Iraq-based armed
opposition have defected and returned home in the face of the US-led
onslaught of their Baghdad backers, Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi said

British and US troops have yet to overrun any of the People's Mujahedeen's
Iraqi bases, Yunesi said, but Iranian border forces had already received a
flood of "repentant" militants from the group which is reviled by both Iran
and the Iraqi opposition for fighting alongside the Baghdad regime in the

"The return of Monafeqeen (hypocrites -- the Tehan regime's standard term of
abuse for the group) has accelerated in recent months," state radio quoted
the minister as saying.

"For instance recently around a hundred members of the group handed
themselves over to the Islamic Republic authorities."

Yunesi promised that the regime would not press criminal charges against
repentant opposition members, although they would have to respond to any
civil suits.

They "can enter Iran without fear, but if they have civil cases, they will
have to settle them," he said.

The minister said the People's Mujahedeen had kept up its campaign against
the Islamic regime right up to the eve of the war, joining US-led criticism
of Iran's nuclear programme.

Mujahadeen members "tried to present false information that Iran's peaceful
nuclear activities were aimed at building atomic weapons", he said.

But he added that Iran had no intention of exploiting the US-led war to
attack the opposition group.

"They are next door but for certain reasons we don't want to enter Iraqi
soil" to fight with them, he said.

The Mujahedeen took part in the 1979 overthrow of the Shah but later fell
out with the Islamic regime, fighting a brutal civil war.

During the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, the group won recognition from Baghdad as
the government of Iran and the use of bases in its western neighbour.

But its role in the bloody conflict which cost some one million lives earned
it the abiding hatred of the regime, against which it has continued to
launch assassinations and other attacks.,3604,931901,00.html

by Charles Tripp
The Guardian, 8th April

General Ali Hassan al-Majid, also known as "Chemical Ali", has died aged 64.
He was killed commanding the southern Iraqi city of Basra by SAS-organised
air and artillery attacks, said local British military sources.

Majid earned his macabre nickname during the two years from 1987 when, as
head of the Iraqi Ba'ath party's northern bureau, he presided over Operation
Al-Anfal, which devastated most of Kurdistan. More than 100,000 Kurds were
killed during a campaign of gassings, mass executions and starvation,
including 5,000 who died in one day when the town of Halabja was saturated
with chemical weapons.

Majid's attitude to this slaughter was captured on videotape when he told a
group of party officials in the middle of the campaign: "Who will say
anything? The international community? Fuck them."

Majid personified the clannish and ruthless nature of Saddam Hussein's
republic of fear in Iraq. A key figure in the country's security apparatus,
his appointment last month as commander of the southern region had as much
to do with instilling fear into the Iraqi forces as with organising an
effective military strategy to resist the American onslaught.

Born near Tikrit, Saddam's hometown to the north of Baghdad, Majid was the
son of the Iraqi leader's paternal uncle, a peasant from a subordinate clan
of the al-Bu Nasir tribe. He joined the Iraqi army as a young man and, by
the mid-1960s, was an NCO and driver.

It was then that the family connections helped his rise. After the collapse
of the Ba'ath government of 1963, the party was being rebuilt by Colonel
Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr, a tribal relative of Majid, who had entrusted Saddam
with restoring the underground networks of the Ba'ath party. In the violent
and conspiratorial world of Baghdad politics, Majid became Saddam's loyal

This stood him in good stead when al-Bakr seized power in 1968. As Saddam's
star rose, so too did the fortunes of Majid. By 1976, he was director
general of the office of the Ba'ath's regional command; in 1978, he became
head of the party's key military bureau. After his important role in the
bloody party purges which accompanied Saddam's assumption of the Baghdad
presidency in 1979, he was rewarded, the following year, with the
directorship of public security.

This was the beginning of eight years of war with Iran, when the Iraqi
regime was as much concerned with internal security as with the battle front
on its eastern border. Majid rooted out real and imagined enemies with
terrifying zeal, and it was these qualities that led Saddam to entrust him
with the crushing of resistance in the Kurdish areas of the north in the
latter stages of the war.

When Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait in August 1990, Majid was appointed
governor, bringing his methods and reputation with him. Later that year,
when it seemed that war with the western coalition would follow, he was
recalled to Baghdad. In March 1991, he was made minister of the interior,
and charged with putting down the rebellions that had broken out in southern
and northern Iraq following the Iraqi army's expulsion from Kuwait. He
helped to crush these uprisings in his usual style, leaving some 30,000
people dead or missing.

During the years of UN sanctions and isolation in the 1990s, Majid occupied
a number of senior government posts, using the opportunity - as did many in
the elite - to enrich himself through the web of smuggling and business
deals made pos sible by his close connection to the ruling family. It was
said that his blatant corruption led to his dismissal as defence minister in
1995, although shifts in the politics of the clan, most of whose members
were similarly implicated, probably had a significant effect.

In 1996, he got the chance to rehabilitate himself. He helped organise the
murder of his nephews - and Saddam's sons-in-law - Hussein Kamil and Saddam
Kamil, who had fled the country in 1995, but had then unwisely returned.

Thereafter, Majid was back in the centre, and, in 1997, he was appointed as
overseer and coordinator of the intelligence services and of the Ba'ath
party apparatus in central and southern Iraq.

As the present crisis between the US and the Baghdad regime closed in, it
was not surprising that Saddam should have looked to one of his most loyal
and ruthless clansmen to try to salvage something from the wreckage. This
time, however, he and the regime he served were up against something that
their resources of violence and cruelty were unable to handle.

Ali Hassan al-Majid, soldier and political boss, born 1938; died April 4


BBC News On-line, 3rd April

Aid agencies have been trying to send their workers into Iraq to assess what
relief supplies are needed in the war torn country. Patrick Nicholson of the
UK charity Cafod has just returned from the Umm Qasr, where he found the
humanitarian effort in the British occupied area to be a "shambles".

I have just returned from working in Angola and never expected to see
exactly the same sort of poverty in Iraq - a country floating on oil.

>From the TV pictures of Umm Qasr, I had been led to believe it was a town
under control, where the needs of the people were being met.

The town is not under control. It's like the Wild West. And even the most
major humanitarian concern, water, is not being adequately administered.

Everywhere I went, the local people asked me for water. I went into the two
rooms occupied by a family of 14, they were drinking from an oil drum half
full of stagnant, dirty water. It was water I certainly would not have
drunk. The little girl was very malnourished, skeletal, and in my experience
as an aid worker I would say she had less than a week to live.

The coalition has installed a water pipeline in Umm Qasr and sends out water
tankers, but the Iraqi lorry drivers go off and sell the water. Most people
have no money to buy it.

The hospital has been without water for three days. Inside people were very
angry with me because I was a westerner. They felt angry, frustrated and let
down by the coalition.

Many had come to Umm Qasr from Basra because they had been told in American
radio broadcasts that they would be looked after. They now say the coalition
lied to them.

Adu Sulsam had brought his four-year-old daughter, Fatima, to the hospital
and pleaded with me to help.

He said that I was her only hope. I told him I was not a doctor. There is
only one doctor at the hospital.

The little girl was very malnourished, skeletal, and in my experience as an
aid worker I would say she had less than a week to live.

Another man had brought his 12-year-old son, Farahan, to Umm Qasr because
the boy had been hit in the head with shrapnel in Basra, but had not got
better after being operated on.

This father also thought his child would receive better treatment in Umm
Qasr. Both men were completely disappointed.

One young man angrily said to me: "You support us when the TV cameras and
newspapers are here, to show the world you like us.

"When they have gone you change. You have changed Saddam for another kind of
imperialism." Umm Qasr was taken 10 days ago and it was deemed safe for aid
agencies to enter on Monday, and yet it is still a shambles.

If the coalition has trouble looking after such a small town, then what are
they going to do about the city of Basra or, my God, Baghdad?

If the coalition is trying to win the battle of hearts and minds in Iraq,
then it is not winning by the evidence of the people of Umm Qasr.

by Sarah Oliver
BBC, 5th April

It is a sound which has echoed down the centuries but which has not been
heard here for 15 years - the wailing call to prayer.

On Friday however, at 0430 (0130 GMT), in the minutes before the desert
dawn, the voice of the Imam rang out.

What Saddam's Baath party had forbidden, the British Army had restored.

The townspeople, whose mosque was destroyed years ago, prayed in the privacy
of their own homes.

But instead of their worship being a secret and dangerous thing, it was
freely performed with new joy.

The 1st Battalion Royal Irish secured a public address system for the Imam
and men from their attached Royal, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
installed it on Thursday night in time for Friday prayers.

By next Friday, commanding officer Lt Colonel Tim Collins hopes to have a
prayer tent in place so the community can gather for the traditional midday

He said: "Banning prayer and denying Muslim people a mosque is simply one
more manifestation of the Baath party's evil regime.

"From the moment we began our hearts and minds campaign here its restoration
was a top priority.

"From now they will have their call to prayer five times a day - it will no
longer be conducted behind closed doors, it will be done openly, as it
should be."

Although the Imam was permitted to offer pastoral care, he was not allowed
to fulfil his role as their religious leader, leaving the population of
4,000 struggling with the secular ideals of Baath.

On Friday, as dozens of townspeople thronged the alleyway at the back of his
shabby terraced home, it was clear they had not forgotten their God.

The return of the call to prayer is perhaps the most significant sign yet
that the shanty communities inhabiting the wealthy oilfields of southern
Iraq are recovering their equilibrium under occupation by the British Army.

Another is the re-opening of the barber's shop where many officers from the
1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment are paying 250 dinars (10p) for a trim,
which is finished with a cut throat razor.

The primary and secondary schools with 40 and 20 pupils apiece, have also
opened their doors.

They are flying the Iraqi flag as a symbol of national identity but all
pro-Saddam slogans have been painted out by local townspeople and Baath
propaganda stripped from the classrooms.

A new football pitch, volleyball court and schoolyard are to be built for
the children by the 1st Royal Irish.

Although none of the food shops has reopened - the traders are trapped in
the southern city of Basra - nomadic tomato and onion sellers have returned
to the marketplace and flatbreads are being baked.

British troops are banned from spending pounds sterling or US dollars as
commanders are determined the local economy should not be undermined by hard
currency trading.

They have bankrolled the town's first ever bank with £1,000 worth of dinars
confiscated from the Baath Party.

It is being used to pay the wages of municipal employees such as teachers
and security staff and fund the town clinic which has been re-opened by a
fourth year medical student after the doctor fled in the face of the Allied

Next the Army will attempt to conduct a census on the main community which
is dominated by oil industry workers, and its attached, much poorer and more
rural village where railway workers - nicknamed the Ali Babars by
townspeople - live.

Law and order has been restored by the arrival of British Military Police
and a regional government created by the formation of a Joint Civil-Military
Commission, headed by Royal Irish second in command Major Andrew Cullen.

He said: "The influence of Baath was so great that it had filtered down to
the lowest level of society and since we have destroyed Baath we must now
help them build a new framework.

"We can't play god and enforce our own societal values on people, we need to
enable them."

As well as helping with water and power, attached engineers are assisting
with carpentry or plumbing.

They hope that soon residents will be self-sufficient.

The ambition of the townspeople and the Royal Irish is to see the oilfields
re-opened and jobs restored.

With the oil will come wealth and with the wealth will come security and

"We are here to see that happens," said Major Cullen.

This is pooled copy from Sarah Oliver of the Mail On Sunday, with the 1st
Battalion Royal Irish Regiment in southern Iraq.


UN relief agencies warned on Sunday of a health crisis facing the five
million inhabitants of Baghdad, with hospitals overwhelmed and
infrastructure devastated.
"We expect a severe deterioration of the health situation during the days to
come due to the daily bombardment that results in damage of infrastructure
and sharp rise in civilian casualties," Fadela Chaib, World Health
Organization (WHO) spokesperson told reporters.
Baghdad hospitals reported a continuous flow of war-wounded victims on
Sunday, warning their meagre resources were being stretched to the limit
as fighting grew more intense.
WHO officials warned access to health care and drugs was becoming more
difficult as stocks cannot be replenished.
The UN's health body contacted 10 major medical stores in Jordan to procure
54 urgently needed medicines and medical supplies to send to Baghdad as soon
as possible.
"It's certainly an emergency situation," said Antonella Notari, chief
spokesman of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Latest
reports from ICRC staff in Baghdad said fighting in and around the capital
continued unabated on Sunday.
The ICRC is one of the few international aid operations not to have
withdrawn their staff from Iraq in the run-up to the US-led war.
Hospitals in Baghdad reported a steady stream of hundreds of  patients. ICRC
staff in the capital said that during the more fierce bombardments,
hospitals were receiving up to 100 casualties per hour.
The international aid organisation said while hospitals were stretched, they
were handling the situation sufficiently and as professionally as war would
allow. ICRC staff were touring hospitals and providing first aid and surgery
kits, including 150 blankets and 50 body bags to Al-Yarmouk hospital.
"The situation overall is extremely problematic now in terms of clean water
supply and sewage evacuation. Everybody now is operating on back-up
generators as there is hardly any power any more," said Notari.
In the rest of the country, the ICRC continued distributing medical supplies
in the southern city of Basra, where fierce fighting has continued for days.
The international group is also trucking water to the three main hospitals
in the neighbouring war-torn district of Al-Zubayr.
At the Kindi hospital staff were reported to have been overwhelmed by the
sharp rise in casualties since US ground troops thrust north towards Baghdad
and intensified their air attacks.
Victims were carried in on sheets after stretchers ran out. With many staff
unable to reach the hospitals due to bombing, doctors worked furiously as
they performed operations, taking blood, giving injections and ferrying the
Dr. Osama Saleh al-Duleimi, an orthopaedic surgeon and assistant director at
Kindi, said they were overloaded and suffering from shortages of
anaesthetics, painkillers and staff.
Doctors were also reportedly overwhelmed by the injuries they are seeing,
including massive trauma and fatal wounds such as head, abdominal and limb
injuries from lethal weapons.
"I've been a doctor for 25 years and this is the worst I've seen in terms of
casualties and fatal wounds," said al-Duleimi, who also practised during the
1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war and the 1991 Gulf War.
"We are receiving a lot of civilian casualties," he added.
Dr. Sadek al-Mukhtar described this war as more destructive than the 1991
Gulf War. "In the previous battles, the weapons seemed merely disabling; now
they're much more lethal," he said.
Meanwhile, extensive damage to Baghdad's infrastructure from the US-led war
is a major obstacle to treating the injured and getting aid, said David
Wimhurst, spokesman for the United Nations Office of the Humanitarian
Coordination for Iraq (UNOHCI).
"Damage to infrastructure is further hampering relief efforts in and around
the city," said Wimhurst, citing the destruction of a bridge leading south
from Baghdad which made alternative routes south of the city unsafe.
The ICRC has described the situation as "near critical" in the capital with
water systems to become quickly affected with no maintenance of power plants
and generators. Lack of adequate clean water is hampering efforts to treat
the wounded.

Bahrain Tribune, 7th April

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has temporarily
suspended the movement of its staff within Baghdad, it was revealed

The Bahrain Red Crescent Society (BRCS), in its daily Press briefing, said
that this had been done due to the intense bombing of the city and the
resulting dangers of movement within the city.

"While all Iraqi staff of ICRC have been sent home to their families, the
international staff is staying at the office," said BRCS assistant
undersecretary Dr Fawzi Amin, quoting the latest report from Iraq, received
by Bahrain society chairman Shaikh Abdullah bin Khalid Al Khalifa.

Dr Amin explained: "Fighting in and near Baghdad appears to have continued
pretty much unabated, and the international committee delegation in Baghdad
is hearing the continuous sound of fighting from parts of the city.

"Because of the security situation, the delegation has decided to
temporarily suspend movements of staff in the city," he emphasised. "The
electricity supply in the city remains mostly out of order, and some parts
of Baghdad reportedly no longer have piped-in water."


by Owen Bowcott
The Guardian, 8th April

A shortage of fresh water in Baghdad is threatening the ability of hospitals
to carry out operations and depriving the population of sanitation, the
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned yesterday.

At least one hospital in the southern suburb of Mahmudiya has been
overwhelmed by the number of civilian and military casualties, according to
the agency's director of operations, Pierre Krahenbuhl. Another ICRC
official described the situation as "extremely precarious".

Water supplies stopped on Thursday because mains electricity, which powers
the pumps, had been knocked out by the fighting. Red Cross teams have kept
generators running and set up water treatment installations but have found
it difficult to move as sporadic fighting spreads across the capital.

"Fresh water supplies for hospitals are very important but the environment
is becoming less and less predictable," he told a press conference in
London. At one stage on Saturday, following air raids and the US military
incursion, civilian casualties were arriving at one Baghdad hospital at the
rate of 100 an hour.

Water shortages are also acute in Kerbala, Najaf, Nassiriya and Basra, south
of Baghdad. The ICRC has six foreign aid workers in Baghdad, four in Basra
and another four in the north, as well as more than 100 local staff.

Those in the capital said they could only reach one hospital, al-Kindi,
yesterday, where surgeons were working non-stop and running short of
anaesthetics and equipment. Doctors said they had taken in four dead and 176
injured in the previous 24 hours.

"Surgeons have been working round the clock for the past two days and most
are exhausted. Conditions are terrible," said Roland Huguenin-Benjamin, of
the Red Cross. "You could hear very close range explosions. The windows are
rattling from the thud of explosions."

The agency delivered thousands of one-litre water bags to the main hospitals
in Baghdad before the American assault began but stocks are now running low.
The agency is now attempting to bring in another 30,000 litres to the city's
five main surgical hospitals.

In Basra, the ICRC said staff had reached agreement with Iraqi and British
troops allowing them to cross "no man's land" between the front lines and
repair the pumping stations. Mr Krahenbuhl said 50% of the population had
running water restored.

"Some of the supply is on a rotating basis where different areas of the city
receive water at different times," he said.

One inhabitant,holding his one-year-old daughter in his arms, told a
reporter: "The situation is not good. There is no water. All the citizens
are very thirsty.

"On television and radio, they promised to give us water, but all we have is

Britain's Department for International Development, which has contributed
£32m towards Red Cross emergency relief work in Iraq, said yesterday that it
understood there were water shortages in other parts of central Iraq such as
Abu Ghraib, Mahmudiya, Hilla, Kerbala and Anbar.

In Nassiriya, where US teams are trying to restore supplies, resident were
reported to be out on the streets searching for water. Lack of clean
drinking water is a major cause of diarrhoea and respiratory diseases, which
already take a heavy toll of Iraqi children.

The ICRC yesterday also revealed it had raised fresh concerns with London
and Washington about the use of cluster bombs.

"We have raised those concerns particularly in urban areas," said Mr

by Essam Al-Ghalib
Arab News (Saudi Arabia), 8th April

NAJAF, 8 April 2003 This is no longer a war against Saddam and his regime,
if it ever was. It has become a war against the Iraqi people. The number of
civilians killed since the invasion began is massive, and is rising
dramatically as American and British forces continue to make their way north
through densely populated areas.

Each Iraqi city has lost many civilians, at times entire families, to
Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sami Osama, a truck driver, was delivering 5,000 kg of tomatoes through the
small town of Sanawa when he approached an American checkpoint. According to
witnesses who spoke to Arab News yesterday, he did not understand the orders
in English and approached the checkpoint as normal. The US forces opened
fire, killing him instantly and injuring two of his passengers.

A friend of the deceased told Arab News: Had there been a translator at the
checkpoint, he would be alive now.

His friend who was driving with him said that before he was executed he was
slowing down and asking what the US troops could be shooting at.

While Arab News was interviewing witnesses to the death of Sami Osama, a
woman approached and asked to use a satellite phone belonging to this
correspondent. She wanted to call the United States for, as she put it, a
humanitarian reason.

She explained that her brother had arrived from the United States, where he
was living with his wife and 10 children before the war began. He had been
on a visit to his own family in Nassiriyah and Sanawa, and was killed there
as the US troops advanced.

In Sanawa, witnesses described how American troops were firing at suspected
Iraqi positions, some located in residential areas. Huge holes could be seen
in virtually every building along the heavily traveled highway to Sanawa,
and there was also a burned-out high school.

Saleh Mohammed, a local, told Arab News: One Iraqi soldier will enter a
neighborhood and fire a few shots at the fighter plane, and they will
respond with a barrage of shots killing as many as 50 civilians in the
effort to get him.

Further north, in the city of Hamza, a taxi driver told of a rescue
operation in progress at a Baath Party center bombed from the air. A witness
told Arab News: It was nighttime and there were civilians walking in front
of the building when the first explosions started. They were all buried
underneath the rubble.

The rescue efforts or, more accurately, the body recovery had been going on
for two days. So far, 22 corpses have been removed. They were laid to rest
just near the place where they were killed.

While Arab News was interviewing witnesses at the scene, the body of an
eight-year-old boy was removed from under the rubble.

Among the tragedies of war comes desperation, and a loss of dignity.

During the three-hour drive from Sanawa, Iraqis lined the roads, begging for
food and water. Arab News came across a three-year-old boy named Ahmed and
his father. The boys feet were swollen, cut and bleeding as a result of
severe eczema.

The father explained: We were told medical service will be provided for the
sick and the injured. But since the Americans arrived, I havent been allowed
to drive outside Sanawa to get the medication I need for my son.

Just outside Hamza, a military checkpoint was set up. All Iraqis and their
vehicles are being searched thoroughly, including a coffin containing the
corpse of a man strapped to his family car.

He had nothing to do with Saddam or Baath, yet he is dead, said his family.

Residents of Sanawa, without food or water for several days, complained that
the US troops in some sections of the city have not been allowing people to
move to other districts. As a result, the river, a lifeline for the people,
has not been accessible to the hungry.

At Najaf, the Kuwaiti Red Crescent Society was supposed to be distributing
food to the hungry masses. As Arab News approached, a Kuwaiti shouting in
Arabic was heard. He was dressed in a US military uniform, and was ordering
people to stand back.

He shouted: If you step back from the fence, maybe we will start thinking of
distributing food. If you do not behave, we will not distribute food.

Angered further by the crowd eager to receive the humanitarian aid, he
bellowed: I have warned you enough times, so there will be no distribution

The food distribution was stopped for at least 15 minutes. Then only women
and those with aid permits were being allowed to take away packages.

Arab News asked what was involved in getting an aid permit, but none of the
distributors nor the Iraqi civilians knew. Above him a soldier was pointing
at the crowd ordering them away from the fence separating the food
distributors from the hungry crowd. Every time the soldier passed an order
on to the civilians or those arriving in vehicles, he aggressively pointed
his 50- caliber truck-mounted machine gun at them, lowering his head to see
as though taking aim.

Arab News approached the soldier and asked why he was pointing his machine
gun at unarmed civilians here to receive humanitarian aid.

Any of these people could be suicide bombers, was his reply.

An Iraqi man, who asked not to be identified, told Arab News that as the
Iraqi troops begin to see that they are becoming weaker and weaker, many of
them are not surrendering but withdrawing and moving ahead of the Americans.
As the Americans are moving north, they are fighting the same soldiers from
the cities they have conquered. Iraqi soldiers from the southern districts
are moving north and joining their counterparts there. The biggest battle is
going to be the battle of Baghdad, they say.

The Americans are becoming more and more scared as they lose more of their
soldiers. And they appear to have little if any respect for the civilians
they say they have come to liberate.

To them all Iraqis are a threat. They have no respect for us, so we have no
respect for them, one civilian said. As they kill us, the time will come
when we will kill them.

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