The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] News, 16-23/04/03 (5)

News, 16-23/04/03 (5)


*  Bechtel awarded $680m Iraq reconstruction contract
*  Iraqi exile slams US for awarding deals
*  Pentagon Expects Long-Term Access to Four Key Bases in Iraq
*  Iraqi oil: Israel's dream not far from reality
*   Rumsfeld denies plans for long-term bases


*  Iraq destroyed chemical weapons just before war, scientist reportedly


*  Why Iraqi army walked away from Baghdad
*  So who really did save Private Jessica?
*  Tales of Shock And Defeat


by Joshua Chaffin in Washington
Financial Times, 17th April

Bechtel, one of the largest US construction companies, has won a contract
valued at up to $680m to provide emergency repairs to vital Iraqi
infrastructure, including roads, bridges, schools and power plants.

The so-called "capital construction" is the largest of $1.7bn in initial
contracts being awarded by the US Agency for International Development to
provide humanitarian relief and reconstruct Iraq.

The work is considered crucial to President George W. Bush's goal of winning
the favour of the Iraqi people in order to turnthe US's militarysuccess
into a political victory as well.

The construction contract in particular has been closely-watched by
businesses angling for work in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq.

Many analysts believe the deal could be far more lucrative than its stated
value because it could give Bechtel an inside track on billions of dollars
of additional contracts, including the redevelopment of the country's oil

The contract has also generated considerable controversy because the USAID
invited only Bechtel and a handfull of other large and well-connected US
companies, including Halliburton, Fluor and Parsons, to compete.

Bechtel's board of directors includes George Shultz, former US secretary of
state, and Caspar Weinberger, former US secretary of defence. The company
has also contributed generously to Republican politicians.

USAID has said that the decision was made because of federal procurement
rules. It has also said that it expects at least half the work to be handed
to subcontractors, and that foreign companies would be eligible for such

Under Thursday's agreement, USAID has authorised $34.6m in work projects,
although the contract allots for up to $680m worth over 18 months.

Some of the priorities are likely to include restoring and enhancing the
country's electricity system, which has been blacked out in recent days, and
fixing sewage treatment and water purification facilities.

Bechtel appears to have won potentially important concessions on insurance.
Under the agreement, the company has been indemnified against claims arising
from damages caused by chemical weapons, land or sea mines and unexploded
ordnance. Haggling over indemnification is one issue that appeared to delay
the formal awarding of the contract.

The contract also calls for the dredging and repair of Iraq's major port Umm
Qasr, which is not equipped to cope with some of the larger ships carrying
food aid.

"Bechtel is honored to have been selected, through a competitive process, by
USAID to help bring humanitarian assistance, economic recovery and
infrastructure to help the Iraqi people," Tom Hash, President of Bechtel
National, said Thursday.

The private company helped build the Hoover Dam and also the Channel Tunnel
linking France and England.

Despite its record of large-scale public works projects, Bechtel has
recently come under heavy criticism in Massachusetts for cost-overrruns on
the downtown Boston expressway project known as "the Big Dig."

Bahrain Tribune, 20th April

KUWAIT: A prominent Iraqi exile said yesterday only a democratically-elected
government should be allowed to sign the massive contracts needed to
reconstruct the country.

Former Foreign Minister Adnan Pachachi criticised Washington over its plans
for a US-led civilian authority to hand out reconstruction contracts without
the approval of an elected Iraqi government.

No one has the right to commit Iraq to obligations and costs, he told a news
conference in Kuwait. Only an Iraqi government can do that. A parliament
should also endorse the agreements. The US government on Thursday awarded
Bechtel Corp. a $680-million contract to help rebuild Iraq's power, water
and sewage systems as well as repair air and sea ports.

Pachachi, seen as a potential future policymaker, also said he hoped a
broad-based conference would be held in Baghdad soon to elect an interim
Iraqi authority over the civil authority headed by retired US general Jay
Garner, that would put the war-ravaged country on the path to free

We believe that the involvement of the United Nations will give the
government legitimacy and greater acceptance worldwide and among Iraqis,
Pachachi said.

Washington has said it intends to include a role for the United Nations in
rebuilding Iraq, but has given few details and is pushing the Security
Council to help restart the economy by ending the UN sanctions imposed in
1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait.

Pachachi, who left Iraq in 1969 shortly after Saddam Hussein's Baath Party
toppled the government and took power, has been courted by Washington to
play a key role in the country.

We hope to have as soon as possible a broadly-based conference convened to
elect a transitional government that will be entrusted with the task of
preparing the country for elections under international supervision for a
constituent assembly that will draft a constitution which will be submitted
to the people in a referendum, he said.

He said that if an Iraqi government is elected, then the need for an
American civil administration, now headed by General (Jay) Garner, would not

Pachachi discussed the situation in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq with Kuwait's
First Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah and
Parliament Speaker Jassem Al Khorafi.

Pachachi, who opposed the US-led war and favoured a provisional UN
administration to maintain law and order in Iraq following the ouster of
Saddam Hussein, said he was not considering being part of any interim
government but preferred to help convene the conference.

He hoped the transitional authority would enjoy extensive support worldwide
and be able to administer the country in a state of peace and security, and
allow Iraqis to choose their own government and administration. Pachachi was
the only Sunni Muslim offered a seat on a six-member leadership council set
up at a meeting of major opposition groups in Kurdish held northern Iraq in

The others were from the majority Shiite Muslim, and Kurdish communities.

But Pachachi, who is based in Abu Dhabi and also spends time in London,
spurned the offer. He went on instead to rally liberal Iraqi independents,
announcing the birth of Independent Iraqis for Democracy at a conference
attended by some 300 Iraqi exiles in the British capital last month.

Pachachi served as foreign minister from 1965 to 1967. His father was prime
minister before the 1958 coup which toppled the Iraqi monarchy.

by Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt
New York Times, 20th April

WASHINGTON, April 19  The United States is planning a long-term military
relationship with the emerging government of Iraq, one that would grant the
Pentagon access to military bases and project American influence into the
heart of the unsettled region, senior Bush administration officials say.

American military officials, in interviews this week, spoke of maintaining
perhaps four bases in Iraq that could be used in the future: one at the
international airport just outside Baghdad; another at Tallil, near Nasiriya
in the south; the third at an isolated airstrip called H-1 in the western
desert, along the old oil pipeline that runs to Jordan; and the last at the
Bashur air field in the Kurdish north.

The military is already using these bases to support continuing operations
against the remnants of the old government, to deliver supplies and relief
aid, and for reconnaissance patrols. But as the invasion force withdraws in
the months ahead, turning over control to a new Iraqi government, Pentagon
officials expect to gain access to the bases in the event of some future

Whether that can be arranged depends on relations between Washington and
whoever takes control in Baghdad. If the ties are close enough, the military
relationship could become one of the most striking developments in a
strategic revolution now playing out across the Middle East and Southwest
Asia, from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean.

A military foothold in Iraq would be felt across the border in Syria, and,
in combination with the continuing United States presence in Afghanistan, it
would virtually surround Iran with a new web of American influence.

"There will be some kind of a long-term defense relationship with a new
Iraq, similar to Afghanistan," said one senior administration official. "The
scope of that has yet to be defined  whether it will be full-up operational
bases, smaller forward operating bases or just plain access."

These goals do not contradict the administration's official policy of rapid
withdrawal from Iraq, and the United States is acutely aware that the
growing American presence in the Middle East and Southwest Asia invites
charges of empire-building and might create new targets for terrorists.

So without fanfare, the Pentagon has also begun to shrink its military
footprint in the region, trying to ease domestic strains in Turkey and

In a particularly important development, officials said the United States
was likely to reduce American forces in Saudi Arabia, as well. The main
reason for that presence, after all, was to protect the Saudi government
from the threat Iraq has posed since its invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Already, in Turkey, where a newly elected government bowed to domestic
pressure and denied the Pentagon access to bases and supply lines for the
war with Iraq, the United States has withdrawn nearly all of its 50 attack
and support airplanes at the Incirlik air base, from which they flew patrols
over Iraq's north for more than a decade.

Turkish officials say a new postwar security arrangement with Washington
will emerge.

"These issues will define a new relationship and a new U.S. presence
abroad," said Faruk Logoglu, Turkey's ambassador to the United States. "But
the need for an American presence in the region will not be diminished."

Regardless of how quickly the Americans reverse the buildup of the last
several months, it is plain that since Sept. 11, 2001, there has been a
concerted diplomatic and military effort to win permission for United States
forces to operate from the formerly Communist nations of Eastern Europe,
across the Mediterranean, throughout the Middle East and the Horn of Africa,
and across Central Asia, from the periphery of Russia to Pakistan's ports on
the Indian Ocean.

It is a swath of Western influence not seen for generations.

These bases and access agreements have established an expanded American
presence, or deepened alliance ties, throughout one of the world's most
strategic regions.

"The attacks of Sept. 11 changed more than just the terrorism picture," said
one senior administration official. "On Sept. 11, we woke up and found
ourselves in Central Asia. We found ourselves in Eastern Europe as never
before, as the gateway to Central Asia and the Middle East."

The newest security agreements will come in Iraq. Col. John Dobbins,
commander of Tallil Forward Air Base, said the Air Force plan envisioned
"probably two bases that will stay in Iraq for an amount of time."

"That amount of time, obviously, is an unknown," he added.

In addition to Tallil, the other base for the Air Force is at Bashur, in the
north, Pentagon officials said. The Army currently holds the Baghdad
airport. The H-1 base in the west has allowed Special Operations forces to
move out of their secret bases in Jordan and Saudi Arabia and set up a
forward headquarters.

The establishment of these bases follows the strategy used in Afghanistan,
where the American military first seized Forward Operating Base Rhino in the
desert south of Kandahar, before moving that headquarters into the city. The
American military has its senior headquarters in Afghanistan at Bagram
airfield outside of Kabul, and it has a number of regional civil affairs
offices elsewhere in the nation.

In Afghanistan, and in Iraq, the American military will do all it can to
minimize the size of its deployed forces, and there will probably never be
an announcement of permanent stationing of troops.

Not permanent basing, but permanent access is all that is required,
officials say.

For the Afghan conflict, the Pentagon negotiated new basing agreements with
Pakistan and two former Soviet republics, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. But the
arrangements also signaled a long-term commitment to the region and gave the
military the ability to deploy forces there quickly.

Although the new bases in Iraq are primarily for mounting comprehensive
postwar security operations, senior administration officials make no secret
that the American presence at those bases near Syria and Iran and long-term
access to them "will make them nervous."

Or as Secretary of State Colin L. Powell put it on Thursday: "We have been
successful in Iraq. There is a new dynamic in that part of the world."

Even so, administration officials are quick to echo Mr. Powell's assertions
that Washington has "no war plan right now" for Syria and Iran.

"So don't ask if our tanks are going to move right or left out of Iraq,"
said one senior administration official. "There are a lot of political
weapons that can be unleashed to achieve our goals."

Among the pressures to be exerted against Syria will be a campaign to focus
the world's attention on a new administration message. "Syria occupies
Lebanon," one senior administration official said. "This is the repression
of one Arab state by another. Plus there are terror training camps in the
Bekaa Valley."

In addition to tamping down public anxiety over possible military action
against Syria, or even Iran, officials are quick to argue that these two
nations have the most significant vote as to whether the United States will
ever apply the template of "regime change" in Iraq to them.

"This does not mean, necessarily, that other governments have to fall," one
senior administration official said. "They can moderate their behavior."

Administration officials express keen awareness that they must show
humility, and not hubris, in the aftermath of their quick victory in Iraq.
"We need to be flexible, and modulate our actions according to the political
interests of our allies," said one senior administration official.

The senior official predicted that the American military would "modulate our
footprint" in Saudi Arabia, which was so concerned about its role in the air
war against Iraq that it blocked Pentagon efforts to station correspondents

Lt. Gen. T. Michael Moseley, who directed the air war from a sophisticated
command center outside of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is expected to meet with
senior Saudi officials in the next few days to continue discussions about
the future of the American military presence there, a senior military
official said.

But administration, Pentagon and military officials say it is unlikely that
American forces will withdraw completely from the desert kingdom. Military
officials are discussing a range of options.

In the Iraq war, American and British warplanes flew from 30 bases in about
a dozen countries. In the postwar period, a senior military official said,
"We will draw down from those 30 bases, but in a way that will allow us to
flex or increase, when we need to."

The roles of many countries in support of the American war effort are only
now coming to light.

Two Eastern European countries eager to join NATO quickly offered logistics
bases when Turkey blocked the Pentagon's request to base support planes on
its soil.

Romania allowed the American military to fly troops, cargo, fuel and
vehicles from Europe aboard C-130, C-141 and C-17 transport planes from an
air base near the Black Sea port of Constanta. Eight to 10 planes fly
missions to Iraq from the base.

About 200 miles to the south, in Burgas, Bulgaria, the authorities opened a
training camp and adjacent airfield to 400 Air Force personnel and about six
KC-10 refueling planes.

Before the war started, some 900 Army troops established a training camp for
Iraqi exiles at Taszar in Hungary, a new NATO member. The Iraqis were
dispatched to serve as guides, interpreters and scouts for American ground
troops in Iraq.

In the Persian Gulf, the Pentagon struck a new agreement with Qatar to allow
Gen. Tommy R. Franks, the allied commander in the region, to establish his
wartime headquarters outside of Doha, the capital, and to send many combat
aircraft to Al Udeid air base, after the Saudis would not allow missions to
be flown from their territory.

Bahrain and especially Kuwait, the staging area for the ground invasion,
provided essential bases for the Iraq war. But with Iraq occupied, the
Pentagon will now review its long-term force and access requirements in the
gulf states.

"The subject of a footprint for the United States post-Iraq is something
that we're discussing and considering," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld
said this week. "But that will take some time to sort through."

by Ed Vulliamy
Dawn (from The Guardian), 21st April

WASHINGTON: Plans to build a pipeline to siphon oil from newly conquered
Iraq to Israel are being discussed between Washington, Tel Aviv and
potential future government figures in Baghdad.

The plan envisages the reconstruction of an old pipeline, inactive since the
end of the British mandate in Palestine in 1948, when the flow from Iraq's
northern oilfields to Palestine was re-directed to Syria.

Now, its resurrection would transform economic power in the region, bringing
revenue to the new US-dominated Iraq, cutting out Syria and solving Israel's
energy crisis at a stroke.

It would also create an endless and easily accessible source of cheap Iraqi
oil for the US guaranteed by reliable allies other than Saudi Arabia - a
keystone of US foreign policy for decades and especially since September 11,

Until 1948, the pipeline ran from the Kurdish-controlled city of Mosul to
the Israeli port of Haifa, on its northern Mediterranean coast.

The revival of the pipeline was first discussed openly by the Israeli
Minister for National Infrastructures, Joseph Paritzky, according to the
Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz.

The paper quotes Paritzky as saying that the pipeline would cut Israel's
energy bill drastically - probably by more than 25 per cent - since the
country is currently largely dependent on expensive imports from Russia.

US intelligence sources confirmed to The Observer that the project has been
discussed. One former senior CIA official said: "It has long been a dream of
a powerful section of the people now driving this administration and the war
in Iraq to safeguard Israel's energy supply as well as that of the United

"The Haifa pipeline was something that existed, was resurrected as a dream
and is now a viable project - albeit with a lot of building to do."

The editor-in-chief of the Middle East Economic Review, Walid Khadduri, says
in the current issue of Jane's Foreign Report that "there's not a metre of
it left, at least in Arab territory".

To resurrect the pipeline would need the backing of whatever government the
US is to put in place in Iraq, and has been discussed - according to Western
diplomatic sources - with the US-sponsored Iraqi National Congress and its
leader Ahmed Chalabi, the former banker favoured by the Pentagon for a
powerful role in the war's aftermath.

Sources at the State Department said that concluding a peace treaty with
Israel is to be "top of the agenda" for a new Iraqi government, and Chalabi
is known to have discussed Iraq's recognition of the state of Israel.

The pipeline would also require permission from Jordan. Paritzky's Ministry
is believed to have approached officials in Amman on April 9, this year.
Sources told Ha'aretz that the talks left Israel "optimistic".

James Akins, a former US ambassador to the region and one of America's
leading Arabists, said: "There would be a fee for transit rights through
Jordan, just as there would be fees for Israel from those using what would
be the Haifa terminal.

"After all, this is a new world order now. This is what things look like
particularly if we wipe out Syria. It just goes to show that it is all about
oil, for the United States and its ally."

Akins was ambassador to Saudi Arabia before he was fired after a series of
conflicts with then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, father of the vision
to pipe oil west from Iraq. In 1975, Kissinger signed what forms the basis
for the Haifa project: a Memorandum of Understanding whereby the US would
guarantee Israel's oil reserves and energy supply in times of crisis.

Kissinger was also master of the American plan in the mid- Eighties - when
Saddam Hussein was a key US ally - to run an oil pipeline from Iraq to Aqaba
in Jordan, opposite the Israeli port of Eilat.

The plan was promoted by the now Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and the
pipeline was to be built by the Bechtel company, which the Bush
administration last week awarded a multi-billion dollar contract for the
reconstruction of Iraq.

The memorandum has been quietly renewed every five years, with special
legislation attached whereby the US stocks a strategic oil reserve for
Israel even if it entailed domestic shortages - at a cost of $3 billion in
2002 to US taxpayers.

This bill would be slashed by a new pipeline, which would have the added
advantage of giving the US reliable access to Gulf oil other than from Saudi

by Charles Aldinger and Will Dunham
Reuters, 21st April

WASHINGTON: U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has denied that the
United States already is planning for long-term military basing in postwar
Iraq, saying that such an arrangement was unlikely.

He acknowledged that the United States planned to discuss possible future
changes in its regional military presence with leaders in the Middle East
and Gulf region, stressing that Washington had many friends and options in
the key area.

But Rumsfeld attacked a New York Times report quoting unnamed senior Bush
administration officials as saying Washington was planning long-term
military ties with Baghdad, including use of four bases held by U.S. troops
after a war that toppled President Saddam Hussein.

"I have never, that I can recall, heard the subject of a permanent base in
Iraq discussed in any meeting," he said. "The likelihood of it seems to me
to be so low that it does not surprise me that it's never been discussed in
my presence to my knowledge."

With the United States now engaged in the task of helping Iraq form a new
government, analysts are mulling how the U.S. military will be arranged in
the Gulf in years ahead.

Long-time U.S. ally Saudi Arabia refused to allow the American military to
launch offensive strikes against Iraq from its territory. Analysts have
suggested that the Pentagon might shift U.S. military presence in the
kingdom to countries such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Rumsfeld said there have been "zero discussions among senior Bush
administration officials" on the subject of basing in Iraq, adding: "We
literally have not even considered that."

But with thousands of Iraqis demonstrating in the streets for the U.S.
military to leave a week after the fall of Baghdad, he was strident in his
rejection of suggestions that plans for permanent basing were under way.

"Any impression ... which that article left, that the United States plans
some sort of a permanent presence in that country, I think, is a signal to
the people of that country that is inaccurate and unfortunate, because we
don't plan to function as an occupier," Rumsfeld said.

The Times said a new relationship with Iraq would grant the United States
access to perhaps four bases: at the international airport outside Baghdad,
at Tallil near Nassiriya in the south, at an airstrip called H-1 in western
Iraq, and at the Bashur airfield in the Kurdish north.

"There are four bases that the U.S. is using in that country to help bring
in humanitarian assistance, to help provide for stability operations," he
said. "But does that have anything to do with a long-term footprint? Not a

He added that "obviously we're thinking about how we want to be arranged in
the future" and that such discussions with any other country "will take
place over an orderly period of time."

"Obviously there will have been significant changes. I would personally say
that a friendly Iraq that is not led by a Saddam Hussein would be a reason
we could have fewer forces in the region, rather than more -- I mean, just


by Judith Miller
Arizona Republic, from New York Times, 21st April

SOUTH OF BAGHDAD, Iraq - A scientist who claims to have worked in Iraq's
chemical weapons program for more than a decade has told an American
military team that Iraq destroyed chemical weapons and biological warfare
equipment only days before the war began, members of the team said.

They said the scientist led Americans to a supply of material that proved to
be the building blocks of illegal weapons, which he claimed to have buried
as evidence of Iraq's illicit weapons programs.

The scientist also told American weapons experts that Iraq had secretly sent
unconventional weapons and technology to Syria, starting in the mid-1990s,
and that more recently Iraq was cooperating with al-Qaida, the military
officials said.

The Americans said the scientist told them that President Saddam Hussein's
government had destroyed some stockpiles of deadly agents as early as the
mid-1990s, transferred others to Syria, and had recently focused its efforts
instead on research and development projects that are virtually impervious
to detection by international inspectors, and even American forces on the
ground combing through Iraq's giant weapons plants.

The American military team hunting for uncoventiaonal weapons in Iraq, the
"Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha," or MET Alpha, which found the scientist,
declined to identify him, saying they feared he might be subject to
reprisals. But they said that they considered him credible and that the
material unearthed over the last three days at sites to which he led them
had proved to be precursors for a toxic agent that is banned by chemical
weapons treaties.

The officials' account of the scientist's assertions and the discovery of
the buried material, which they described as their most important discovery
to date in the hunt for illegal weapons, supports the Bush administration's
charges that Iraq continued to develop those weapons and lied to the United
Nations about it. Finding and destroying illegal weapons was a major
justification for the war.

The officials' accounts also provided an explanation for why U.S. forces had
not yet turned up caches of banned weapons in Iraq. The failure to find such
weapons has become a political issue in Washington.

Under the terms of her accreditation to report on the activities of MET
Alpha, this reporter was not permitted to interview the scientist or visit
his home. Nor was she permitted to write an article about the discovery of
the scientist for three days, and the copy was then submitted for a check by
military officials.

Those officials asked that details of what chemicals were uncovered be
deleted. They said they feared that such information could jeopardize the
scientist's safety by identifying the part of the weapons program where he

The MET Alpha team said it reported its findings to Washington after testing
the buried material and checking the scientist's identity with experts in
the United States. A report was sent to the White House on Friday, experts

Military spokesmen at the Pentagon and at Central Command headquarters in
Doha, Qatar, said they could not confirm that an Iraqi chemical weapons
scientist was providing U.S. forces with new information.

The scientist was found by a team headed by Chief Warrant Officer Richard L.
Gonzales, the leader of MET Alpha, one of several teams charged with hunting
for unconventional weapons throughout Iraq. Departing from his team's
assigned mission, Gonzales and his team of specialists from the Defense
Intelligence Agency tracked down the scientist on Thursday through a series
of interviews and increasingly frantic site visits.

While this reporter could not interview the scientist, she was permitted to
see him from a distance at the sites where he said that material from the
weapons program was buried.

Clad in nondescript clothes and a baseball cap, he pointed to several spots
in the sand where he said chemical precursors and other weapons material
were buried. This reporter also accompanied MET Alpha on the search for him
and was permitted to examine a letter written in Arabic that he slipped to
American soldiers offering them information about the program and seeking
their protection.

Military officials said the scientist told them that four days before
President Bush gave Saddam 48 hours to leave the country or face war, Iraqi
officials set fire to a warehouse where biological weapons research and
development was conducted.

The officials quoted him as saying he had watched several months before the
outbreak of the war as Iraqis buried chemical precursors and other sensitive
material to conceal and preserve them for future use. And the officials said
the scientist showed them documents, samples, and other evidence of the
program that he claimed to have stolen to prove that the program existed.

Gonzales said his team had concluded that it should focus on finding
scientists and other individuals who worked in the illicit programs, rather
than specific weapons sites. "We always sensed that humint was the key," he
said, referring to human intelligence, rather than data provided by
satellites or other forms of intelligence.

MET Alpha is one of several teams created earlier this year to hunt for
unconventional weapons in Iraq. Supported by the 75th Exploitation Task
Force, a field artillery brigade based in Fort Sill, Okla., the teams were
charged with visiting some 150 top sites that intelligence agencies have
identified as suspect.

But the Pentagon-led teams, which include specialists from several Pentagon
agencies, have been hampered by a lack of resources and by geography.
Because the task force has two expensive, highly sophisticated,
transportable labs in which chemical and germ samples can be analyzed
quickly, it was kept at a safe distance from fighting at a desert camp in
Kuwait, just across the Iraqi border.

Unable to move their task force closer to Baghdad, where most of the suspect
sites and scientists who worked in them are situated, the mobile
exploitation teams have had to rely on scarce helicopters to travel to
suspect sites in the Baghdad area. Until recently, these were reserved
mainly for soldiers going to battle. As a result, most of the teams had done
almost no weapons hunting until the fighting had largely concluded.

Two weeks ago, MET Alpha was finally given a mission of inspecting barrels
filled with chemicals that were buried on the outskirts of Al Muhawish, a
small town south of Baghdad. A small team with little equipment and
virtually no supplies traveled to the town for what was supposed to be a
half-day survey. The barrels turned out to contain no chemical weapons

But during the survey of that site, Maj. Brian Lynch, the chemical officer
of the 101st Airborne Division, told MET Alpha members about a report of
suspect containers buried in the area that fit the description of mobile

Other officers mentioned that a man who said he was an Iraqi scientist had
given troops a note claiming to have information about Iraq's chemical
warfare program and samples. No one had yet followed up the report, they
said, because of the fighting and also because similar tips had failed to
produce evidence of unconventional weapons.

The team, with vehicles and supplies from the 101st Airborne Division, went
out on its own to survey other sites and pursue the tip about the buried
containers and the scientist. After completing a lengthy survey of one
installation, Gonzales and other team members from the Defense Intelligence
Agency's Chemical Biological Intelligence Support Team decided to try to
find the scientist.

Gonzales tracked down the scientist's note, which had never been formally
analyzed and was still in a brigade headquarters, along with the scientist's
address, military officials said. The next morning, MET Alpha weapons
experts found the scientist at home, along with some documents from the
program and samples he had buried in his backyard and at other sites.

The scientist has told MET Alpha members that because Iraq's unconventional
weapons programs were highly segmented, he only had first-hand information
about the chemical weapons sector in which he worked, team members said.

But he has given the Americans information about other unconventional
weapons activities, they said, as well as information regarding Iraqi
weapons cooperation with Syria, and with terrorist groups, including
Al-Qaida. It was not clear how the scientist knew of such a connection.

The potential of MET Alpha's work is "enormous," said Maj. Gen. David
Petraeus, commander of the 101st Airborne Division.

"What they've discovered," he added, "could prove to be of incalculable
value. Though much work must still be done to validate the information MET
Alpha has uncovered, if it proves out it will clearly be one of the major
discoveries of this operation, and it may be the major discovery."


by Carol Rosenberg
Seattle Times, 19th April

BAGHDAD, Iraq  Iraqi military commanders, certain they could never counter
overwhelming American air power, thought they could defeat the United States
by making a bloody stand for Baghdad that would so sicken the American
public that the United States would withdraw its troops and go home.

So Iraqi field commanders were surprised April 8, as they were preparing to
battle American incursions into the capital, when they were ordered to
withdraw and return to their bases north of the city, according to an Iraqi
major who was commanding a battalion in the northeast sector of the city.

The commanders withdrew as instructed, and then, once they reached their
base, were told that they and their soldiers could go home, the major

Maj. Salah Abdullah Mahdi al Jabouri, a 17-year army veteran, described the
order as a personal tragedy. "I stayed inside my bedroom for five days, in
shock," he said.

"If we weren't Muslims we would do the same as the Japanese ministers: kill
ourselves," he said, gesturing an imaginary pistol to his head. "But we
can't because of our religion."

Jabouri's account provides at least a partial explanation for the mysterious
disappearance of Iraqi forces from Baghdad in the final hours of the battle
for the capital.

At the time, U.S. troops from the Army's 3rd Infantry Division had pushed
from the west to the Tigris River in central Baghdad. Marines had seized the
Rashid military air base to the city's southeast. Then, on April 9, American
commanders found themselves with no organized opposition.

Before the day had ended, Marines had arrived in Baghdad's Fardos Square and
helped Iraqis pull down a statue of Saddam Hussein.

But Jabouri said the disappearance wasn't the result of desertion or a
disorganized rout but was ordered by the highest levels and communicated to
field units by telephone.

Jabouri, with tears often welling up in his eyes, told his story this week
at the Iraqi Hunting Club in Baghdad's posh Mansour district, once a
playground for Saddam's Baath party elite. Now it serves as advance
headquarters for Pentagon-backed Iraqi exile leader Ahmed Chalabi.

Jabouri had walked into the club looking for the people in charge and,
encountering U.S. reporters, agreed to discuss the war and how it felt to
lose the once-proud city of Baghdad.

"Losing a war is one thing, but losing Baghdad is another," he explained,
tears glistening in his eyes. "It was like losing the dearest thing in your

Much of Jabouri's account mirrors what U.S. military spokesmen have said
about the war's progress, and it is easy to match the events he recalled
with American versions.

One contradiction was Jabouri's assertion that his unit never lost contact
with his superiors, in spite of U.S. claims that the Iraqi army's "command
and control" structure had been all but destroyed by American air attacks.
He said the decision to abandon Baghdad came from a general direct to
Jabouri's brigade commander and then conveyed to him. The order to send his
troops home came directly to him from a general at his unit's base in

Among Jabouri's other observations:

 Iraqi soldiers perceived the American attack as "less aggressive" than the
campaign that drove Iraqi invaders from Kuwait 12 years ago. Jabouri
indicated that that perception made the decision to abandon Baghdad even
harder to understand.

 Commanders understood that a war of attrition against American forces
could be suicidal. But Jabouri said he understood that the defense of Iraq,
their homeland, was different from the battle for Kuwait, a country whose
invasion and occupation he questioned.

"We went to war expecting that everybody was going to die; we imagined the
worst," he said. "But to lose your country is bigger."

 The biggest mistake of the war, from an Iraqi perspective, was a decision
March 25 to send military units south from Baghdad to engage U.S. forces
near Najaf. The move exposed the units to air attack, with catastrophic
results. "We lost a lot," Jabouri said.

Jabouri acknowledged that coalition airstrikes were devastating, killing
one-third of his 4,000-man brigade. He also acknowledged widespread
desertion. On the final day of the war, he said, more than half his brigade
declined to make the march out of Baghdad and simply melted into the city.

The war began for Jabouri near Kifri in northern Iraq, where his battalion
of Iraq's 2nd Division was dug in against what it expected would be an
assault by U.S. soldiers and Kurdish guerrillas.

Five days into the war, however, "it became clear" to commanders that Turkey
wouldn't allow an American invasion from its soil. So they were ordered to

A sandstorm that had all but halted American military movements proved
helpful to the Iraqis, Jabouri said.

While some coalition aircraft dogged his unit's redeployment southward,
casualties were light, about 10 soldiers, and most of the brigade made the
move unharmed: 44 T-72 tanks, anti-aircraft batteries, trucks loaded with
rocket-propelled grenades and 4,000 troops with AK-47 assault rifles along
the roads.

American commanders detected the movement and announced it the next day. By
then, Jabouri's troops had taken up new positions northeast of Saddam City,
the largely Shiite slum sector of Baghdad. But they would find that with the
sandstorms gone, U.S. airpower was devastating.

Jabouri said that between the 12th and 15th days of the war, or between
March 31 and April 3, his unit was hit by two massive air attacks. Of the
700 men in his battalion, 200 were lost; the attacks killed 1,400 men and
destroyed 12 tanks in his brigade, he said. In spite of their losses, his
troops engaged American ground forces once and beat them back, killing three
U.S. infantrymen, and causing them to withdraw 12 miles to the south, he

"If our troops had good air cover and good technology, I don't think the
Americans would have dared to cross the border and fight us," he said.

Jabouri's account of the battle differs from American versions, which
acknowledge that Marines encountered Iraqi units April 5 in their first
efforts to cross the Diyala River, and pulled back after realizing that
bridges across the river were mined. But the Americans said they weren't
pushed back by Iraqi opposition, just moving south to find other places to

Of the U.S. dead, Jabouri said, "They picked them up and they drew back."

By his account, his forces had held together and were still prepared to
fight when headquarters telephoned the retreat orders and dispatched them to
a base about 25 miles north of Baghdad.

Soldiers knew that such a withdrawal surely meant the surrender of the
capital, he said, and that's when, from the military point of view, it all
fell apart.

Only 1,200 of the brigade's surviving 2,600 members went to the base as
ordered. The other 1,400 "stayed behind ... because they had family in
Baghdad." They walked away from their units, melted back into the city and
went home.

At the base, Gen. Fawzi Alaheibi "came to me and expressed his deepest
sympathy and condolences," Jabouri said. "He said, 'Sorry, guys, you can go
home.' ",,5944-648517,00.html

by Richard Lloyd Parry in al-Nasiriyah
The Times, 16th April

THE rescue of Private Jessica Lynch, which inspired America during one of
the most difficult periods of the war, was not the heroic Hollywood story
told by the US military, but a staged operation that terrified patients and
victimised the doctors who had struggled to save her life, according to
Iraqi witnesses.

Doctors at al-Nasiriyah general hospital said that the airborne assault had
met no resistance and was carried out a day after all the Iraqi forces and
Baath leadership had fled the city.

Four doctors and two patients, one of whom was paralysed and on an
intravenous drip, were bound and handcuffed as American soldiers rampaged
through the wards, searching for departed members of the Saddam regime.

An ambulance driver who tried to carry Private Lynch to the American forces
close to the city was shot at by US troops the day before their mission. Far
from winning hearts and minds, the US operation has angered and hurt doctors
who risked their lives treating both Private Lynch and Iraqi victims of the
war. "What the Americans say is like the story of Sinbad the Sailor  it's a
myth," said Harith al-Houssona, who saved Private Lynch's life after she was
brought to the hospital by Iraqi military intelligence.

"They said that there was no medical care in Iraq, and that there was a very
strong defence of this hospital. But there was no one here apart from
doctors and patients, and there was nobody to fire at them."

Dr Harith was on duty when Private Lynch was brought to al-Nasiriyah general
by Iraqi soldiers a few days after her capture on March 23. She was a member
of a 15-member US Army maintenance company convoy that was ambushed after
taking a wrong turn near the city.

At the time, she was suffering from a head injury, a broken leg and arm, a
bullet wound to her leg, a pulmonary oedema and her breathing was failing.
In a hospital inundated with war casualties with few drugs, her condition
was stabilised and she regained consciousness.

"She was very frightened when she woke up," Dr Harith, 24, a junior resident
at the hospital, said. "She kept saying: 'Please don't hurt me, don't touch
me.' I told her that she was safe, she was in a hospital and that I was a
doctor, and I never hurt a patient."

Private Lynch's military guards would allow no other doctor to tend to her
and Dr Harith formed a friendship with her. She talked to him about her
family, including her arguments about money with her father, and about her
boyfriend, a Hispanic soldier named Ruben.

Dr Harith went outside the hospital during the bombing to get supplies of
Private Lynch's favourite drink, orange juice, and struggled to persuade her
to eat.

"I told her she needed to eat to recover, and I brought her crackers, but
her stomach was upset. She said as a joke: 'I want to be slim.'

"I see (many) patients, but she was special. She's a very simple person, a
soldier, not well educated. But she was very, very nice, with a lovely face
and blonde hair."

The Iraqi intelligence officers told the hospital that Private Lynch would
soon be transferred to Baghdad, a prospect that terrified her.

After her condition stabilised, they ordered Dr Harith to transfer Jessica
to another hospital.

Instead he told the ambulance driver to deliver her to one of the American
outposts that had already been established on the ouskirts of the city.

"But when he reached their checkpoint, the Americans fired at him," he said.

On April 1 the local Baathists fled al-Nasiriyah for Baghdad and arrived at
the hospital looking for their prize captive. Dr Harith moved her to another
part of the hospital, and other doctors told the soldiers that he was away.

"They said that they thought Jessica had died, and they didn't know where
she was," he said. In their haste and confusion the soldiers left, leaving
behind only a few critically injured soldiers.

The American "rescue" operation came on the night of April 2. The hospital
was bombarded and soldiers arrived in helicopters and, according to the
hospital doctors, in tanks that pulled up outside the hospital.

Most of the doctors fled to the shelter of the radiology department on the
first floor.

"We heard them firing and shouting: 'Go! Go! Go! Go!' " Dr Harith said. One
group of soldiers dug up the graves of dead US soldiers outside the
hospital, while another interrogated doctors about Ali Hassan al-Majid, the
senior Baath party figure known as Chemical Ali, who had never been seen
there. A third group looked for Private Lynch.

US soldiers videotaped the rescue, but among the many scenes not shown to
the press at US Central Command in Doha was one of four doctors who were
handcuffed and interrogated, along with two civilian patients, one of whom
was immobile and connected to a drip. "They were doctors, with stethoscopes
round their necks," Dr Harith said.

"Even in war, a doctor should not be treated like that."

Unluckiest of all was Abdul Razaq, one of the hospital administrators, who
took shelter from the bombardment in Private Lynch's room, believing that he
would be safe.

He was seized and taken with the US soldiers on their helicopter to their
base, where he was held for three days in an open-air prison camp.

"When he left his skin was the colour of yours," another doctor, Mahmud,
said. "When he came back, he was black."

Bizarrely, the rescuers cut open a special bed, designed for patients with
bed sores, which had been provided for Private Lynch's use.

"They took samples of sand out of it," Dr Harith said. "It was the only bed
like it that we have, the only one in the governorate."

Today, the hospital struggles on without adequate supplies of drugs and
without running water or mains electricity.

"There are two faces to Americans," Dr Harith said. "One is freedom and
democracy, and giving kids sweets. The other is killing and hating my
people. So I am very confused. I feel sad because I will never see Jessica
again, and I feel happy because she is happy and has gone back to her life.
If I could speak to her I would say: 'Congratulations!'"

by Scott Peterson and Peter Ford
ABC News, from The Christian Science Monitor, 21st April


The thought of going home also came quickly to troops under Colonel "Saad,"
another Iraqi officer who used a pseudonym. He was based in Al Amarah, in
southern Iraq near the Iranian border. On April 3 they heard that American
troops had reached Baghdad. The next day, their food supply line was cut.

"Soldiers started asking: 'Why are we using the reserve food?' and on April
4 they began to run away," recalls Saad. While news of Fedayeen Saddam and
tribal militia resistance against U.S. and British forces in southern Iraq
was heartening, Saad says his commander knew that it couldn't last. The
mistake was relying on the Fedayeen, which he termed "mercenaries."

"The Fedayeen hit, but would then go back and collect their 10 million Iraqi
dinar reward," Saad says. "Only soldiers can hit American troops and
progressively move forward."

Besides their inability to press home an attack, the Fedayeen also deployed
en masse to the south, and couldn't redeploy before American forces were at
the gates of the capital. Officers say that Saddam's several television
appearances were also a source of anger.

"He only praised the divisions in the south one time, and after that praised
the Fedayeen, Baath Party, and militia, and forgot to praise the army," says
Saad. "That frustrated leading commanders in the war. We needed more
reassurance and motivation, and he gave it only to certain groups."


Pressure instead was mounting on Iraqi forces, which were the subject of a
building psy-ops campaign since last fall. Saad says his units had little
exposure to the messages on tens of millions of leaflets dropped on Iraqi
units from the air, because Mukhabarat internal security and military
intelligence agents scooped them up first.

"The soldiers would see them fall, but were not allowed to read them," says
Saad. "The Army has lots of Baath infiltrators, which kept a tight grip and
collected those very fast."

Radio broadcasts warning troops not to fight and telling them how to
surrender were not often heard, since few soldiers had radios, Saad says.
But faxes and e-mails to commanders had a "big impact"  even though those
lines of communication were cut some 10 days before the war began.

"Of course it has an impact  if one commander receives a fax and gives it
to his senior, in this simple way the officer knows of the U.S. technical
superiority," Saad says. "Imagine him thinking: 'If the Americans are able
to get into the mind of a senior commander this way, how can I protect a
whole division?'"

In the south, the picture was complicated by the crossing over from Iran of
thousands of Iraqi exile forces loyal to the Shiite Muslim cleric Mohamed
Bakr al-Hakkim. It was this militia that forced Saad's units in Al Amarah to
retreat, he says, not the Americans.

"The hit from behind is stronger," says Saad. The militia, known as the Badr
Brigade, confronted the Iraqis at several rear positions from Baghdad down
to Basra, targeting Baath Party and regime command centers, while avoiding
contact with U.S. forces.

Along with two other officers, Saad fled the Badr advance late on April 4,
and hid with a local sheikh. They changed out of their uniforms and, despite
suspicions from the Iran-based militia, the sheikh swore that the officers
were his relatives from Baghdad.

On April 6, every Iraqi still in uniform in Amarah was killed by Badr
soldiers. Then at 5 a.m. on April 8, American troops nearby ordered that all
weapons be given up within 48 hours. The Badr units disappeared, and in that
gap, Saad and his two fellow officers made their way home to a capital
without a defense ministry anymore.

Losses were great. Of the 700 men under Jaburi's direct command, 200 died.
That hurt, he said. "But to lose our country was worse."

For Saad and Asaad, officers of lower rank but 22-year veterans in the Iraqi
military, the possibility of a position in a U.S.-organized national force

"The Army we fought was the most advanced in the world ... and they told us
to surrender, and to not lead the country to destruction," says Asaad.

"If the Americans provide protection and sovereignty, and if they lead Iraq
in a new direction, then our ideas [about the U.S.] will change."

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]