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News, 23-30/4/03 (2) NEW IRAQI DISORDER * Anti-U.S. Protests After Iraqi Arms Dump Carnage * Fears capital on verge of cholera epidemic * Media, Troops Investigated in Iraq Theft * UK soldiers to be tested for toxic exposure * Terrorist group claims it carried out attacks in Iraq * Arms Dump Blast Fuels Fury * Baghdad 'Council head' gives interview, admits no relationship with U.S. * Baghdad's Self-Appointed 'Mayor' Arrested * 13 killed in fight between U.S. troops, protesters * Fallujah - A Shooting Too Far? * Iraq's cancer children overlooked in war * Groups Grab Power in Key City, Factions Fight TURBULENT MULLAHS * White House warns Iran on Iraq * Iraqi Shi'ites show strength * Kubaisi's Return Raises Questions * Al-Sadr supporters offer leadership to cleric * Coalition forces reportedly detain Shi'a clerics in Iraq NEW IRAQI DISORDER http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=2635028 * ANTI-U.S. PROTESTS AFTER IRAQI ARMS DUMP CARNAGE by Nadim Ladki Reuters, 26th April BAGHDAD: Many Iraqi civilians were feared killed on Saturday when an arms dump exploded on the edge of Baghdad, sending rockets scything into nearby housing. Residents blamed U.S. troops for the tragedy. The American military said unidentified attackers had fired an incendiary device into the munitions store, at Zaafaraniya on the capital's southern outskirts, setting off a string of explosions. But local people turned their anger on the Americans, shooting at soldiers who tried to join relief efforts. They said the U.S. army should not have collected confiscated Iraqi weapons in a residential area. Some soldiers were wounded, an army sergeant-major told Reuters. Anti-American protests broke out later in the capital. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld left for the Gulf on Saturday to thank regional leaders for support in the war that toppled Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and to discuss future U.S. military deployment in the oil-rich area. U.S. officials did not say whether he would visit Iraq. It was unclear how many people were killed in the blasts in Zaafaraniya, a mixed residential-industrial suburb. An Iraqi medic traveling in a civilian ambulance ferrying casualties to hospital said the explosions had killed many people. Asked how many, he replied: "Forty." One distraught man, Tamir Kalaal, said his wife, father, brother and 11 other relatives had been killed when a rocket shot out of the arms dump and destroyed their home. A statement by U.S. Central Command in Qatar said at least six people had been killed. "Ten civilian casualties from this incident have been found. Six of them are dead, while four are wounded," it said. About 500 men, chanting anti-American, pro-Islamic slogans, drove out of Zaafaraniya in a convoy of trucks, buses and cars. One truck carried six coffins. Two banners in English read: "Stop Explosions Near Civilians" and "The Terror After War." Later, scores of men gathered in a central Baghdad square to protest at the U.S. military presence in Iraq, waving their fists and chanting: "Yes, yes to Islam! Yes, yes to Iraq!" A Muslim cleric with a megaphone egged on the crowd. One green banner read: "U.S. forces kill innocent with Saddam's weapons in Zaafaraniya." The incident underlined how far Baghdad is from being pacified 17 days after U.S. troops took the city. It came just hours after aides said President Bush would declare an end to hostilities next week and hail the success of U.S.-led combat operations. [.....] In Zaafaraniya, where residents spoke of rockets from the dump raining down on their homes, a group of women in black shawls stood amidst the rubble weeping uncontrollably. Hussein Hafez, a 57-year-old neighbor said: "Saddam was a butcher, and now this. This is a residential area. Why are the Americans blowing up weapons near us?" The explosions at Zaafaraniya, which began just after 8 a.m. (0400 GMT), were so loud they could be heard in central Baghdad. U.S. troops in the city center told reporters initially they were controlled detonations, but later the American military said they were the result of an attack. "An unknown number of individuals attacked," the Central Command statement said. "One soldier was wounded in the attack," it went on. "During the attack, the assailant fired an unknown incendiary device into the cache, causing it to catch fire and explode. The explosion caused the destruction of the cache as well as a nearby building." Zaafaraniya residents said U.S. forces had been packing cars with Iraqi weapons over the last three days and detonating them. Kalaal, the man who lost 14 relatives when his house was destroyed, had no doubt who was to blame for the tragedy. "Those Americans did this," he said, shaking his finger in rage. [.....] http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/04/23/1050777306292.html * FEARS CAPITAL ON VERGE OF CHOLERA EPIDEMIC Sydney Morning Herald, from AP, 24th April While the Iraqi capital comes to terms with the end of war more than 80 per cent of the city remains in darkness after three weeks without power and running water. Doctors have now reported the first suspected cases of cholera and typhoid. Between 50 and 60 per cent of the children brought into the Al-Iskan children's hospital in Baghdad were suffering from dehydration and diarrhoea caused by bad sanitation and water, Ahmed Abdul Fattah, the hospital's assistant director said. Doctors suspected hundreds of the children had cholera and typhoid, but with no labs fully working, and most United Nations health workers having fled, hard-pressed physicians said they could only treat the cases, not confirm them. Coalition damage and confusion largely caused the power crisis, workers said - fighting snapped a fuel line to the key plant, and destroyed the central office that co-ordinates the grid. At the children's hospital, doctors were praying for their overworked cluster of generators to hold on. "Without them, these babies - 100 per cent, would face death," Dr Fattah said of premature infants in incubators. Other wards held dozens of listless children, many suffering from stomach infections caused by unclean water, draining fluids from their bodies. "An epidemic," Dr Fattah said. With clinics citywide depleted by looting, volunteers at Sunni and Shiite mosques were also treating typhoid and cholera cases out of clinics set up in mosque offices. The lights went off in Baghdad in the first week of April as bombs fell and frightened workers abandoned their posts, often staying at home to guard them against robbers. City residents had left their light switches turned on waiting for electricity to return. And for some parts of west Baghdad it happened late on Tuesday and yesterday, sending men into the street to fire AK-47s in relief. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20030424/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ir aq_us_thefts_13 * MEDIA, TROOPS INVESTIGATED IN IRAQ THEFT by Curt Anderson Yahoo, 24th April WASHINGTON (AP): Members of the news media and U.S. soldiers are being investigated for taking art, artifacts, weapons and cash from Iraq, with criminal charges already brought in one case, federal officials said Wednesday. At least 15 paintings, gold-plated firearms, ornamental knives, Iraqi government bonds and other items have been seized at airports in Washington, Boston and London in the last week, according to the bureaus of Customs and Border Protection and of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. None of the items displayed at a news conference were priceless antiquities looted from Iraqi museums. Still, Customs and military officials stressed there will be no tolerance for American service personnel or civilians bringing Iraqi souvenirs or war trophies back to the United States. "This is theft," said Jayson Ahern, a senior field operations official at the Customs and Border Protection bureau. "We are there to liberate. This must cease." So far, only Benjamin James Johnson, who worked as an engineer for Fox News Channel, has been charged. But officials said more charges could be brought and more seizures of stolen items are expected in what is being dubbed "Operation Iraqi Heritage." "This activity is clearly illegal," said Michael T. Dougherty, operations director at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau. Museums, businesses, government offices and homes were looted in Baghdad and other cities after the fall of President Saddam Hussein's regime. Among the items stolen were thousands of artworks and other antiquities, some thousands of years old, from Iraq's vast collections of items from Assyrian, Mesopotamian, Sumerian and other cultures. Customs agents are in Baghdad working with the museums to inventory what was stolen. The FBI and the Interpol law enforcement network also are helping investigate and recover lost items. U.S. military officials also say that about $900,000 was taken by American soldiers from a cache of about $600 million in U.S. currency found in Baghdad palace complexes. Officials say most of the money has been recovered. Five soldiers are under investigation. Johnson, 27, is charged in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., with attempting to smuggle 12 paintings taken from a palace in Baghdad through Dulles International Airport outside Washington in a large cardboard box. After initially telling inspectors the paintings were given to him by Iraqi citizens, Johnson admitted that he took them from a palace that belonged to Uday Hussein, one of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's sons, while traveling with the U.S. military. The paintings, depicting Saddam, Uday and Arab historical scenes, have little historical value but could bring sizable prices because of their links to the deposed regime, officials said. Johnson told inspectors he wanted them mainly for decoration. An examination of Johnson's luggage also turned up 40 Iraqi Monetary Bonds and a visitor's badge from the U.S. embassy in Kuwait. Johnson, of Alexandria, Va., faces up to five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines on both smuggling and false statements counts. Attempts to reach Johnson by telephone Wednesday were unsuccessful. Johnson worked for six years as a satellite truck engineer for Fox, which fired him after learning he had acknowledged taking the paintings, a network statement said. Customs officials said unidentified U.S. service personnel attempted to ship a rifle, pistol, and AK-47 assault rifle 'all gold-plated' as well as swords and knives taken from an Iraqi government facility to a military base in the United States. The items were intercepted last Friday at London's Heathrow Airport, then shipped to Fort Stewart, Ga. U.S. soldiers have been warned repeatedly not to bring home war trophies and will be searched by military police and Customs inspectors as they return from Iraq, said Mark Raimondi, spokesman for the Army Criminal Investigative Division. Customs officials in Boston said they confiscated several souvenirs, including a painting, from Boston Herald reporter Jules Crittenden when he returned Saturday from Kuwait. The U.S. attorney's office in Boston decided not to charge Crittenden with a crime, a spokeswoman said. The Herald said Crittenden declared the items and cooperated with Customs. Additional Iraqi items, including a painting, gold-plated emblem, gun holster and knife, that were being shipped by several other unidentified members of the media, were seized at Dulles on Monday. Those cases are still being investigated. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/04/25/1050777410835.html * UK SOLDIERS TO BE TESTED FOR TOXIC EXPOSURE Sydney Morning Herald, from The Guardian, 26th April Soldiers returning to Britain from the Gulf will be offered tests to check levels of depleted uranium in their bodies to assess whether they are in danger of suffering kidney damage and lung cancer as a result of exposure, the Ministry of Defence says. The ministry was responding to a warning on Thursday from the Royal Society, Britain's premier scientific body, that soldiers and civilians might be exposed to dangerous levels. It challenged earlier reassurances from the Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon, that depleted uranium was not a risk. A ministry spokeswoman said that if soldiers followed instructions correctly and wore respirators in areas where depleted uranium might have been used they would not suffer dangerous exposure, but all would be offered urine tests. The overall results would be published. The ministry said it would also publish details of where and how much depleted uranium was used, and hoped the United States would do the same. Professor Brian Spratt, chairman of the society's working group on depleted uranium, said: "It is highly unsatisfactory to deploy a large amount of a material that is weakly radioactive and chemically toxic without knowing how much soldiers and civilians have been exposed to it." Civilians in Iraq should be protected by checking milk and water samples for depleted uranium over a prolonged period, he said. Some soldiers might suffer kidney damage and increased risk of lung cancer if they breathed in substantial amounts. RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT Vol. 6, No. 19, 26 April 2003 * TERRORIST GROUP CLAIMS IT CARRIED OUT ATTACKS IN IRAQ by Kathleen Ridolfo The "Resistance and Liberation Command in the Republic of Iraq" sent a copy of its "Military Communique no. 2" to the Jordanian daily "Al-Arab al-Yawm" on 22 April, claiming responsibility for two attacks against U.S. forces, the paper reported on 23 April. The communique said a suicide bomber attacked a checkpoint manned by U.S. troops on a road between the Mosul Governorate and the city of Rabi'ah, destroying a U.S. military vehicle and killing or wounding more than 21 soldiers. It also claimed another bomber blew himself up at a U.S. military checkpoint on a road connecting the cities of Hayt and Al Ramadi, killing or wounding about seven individuals. "We warn and warn again all those who collaborate with the criminal invading enemy that they will be punished in accordance with the teachings of our true religion," the communique stated. The 22 April communique also claimed that some foreign journalists in Iraq are Israeli spies and alleged collusion between Israeli intelligence and the INC opposition group. "We wish to warn the sons of our great Iraqi people of the consequences of dealing with foreign journalists claiming to be of different nationalities when in fact they are Zionists working for the Israeli intelligence. A number of those accompanied by the traitors from the 'not National Congress' have terrorized our Palestinian brethren who have been residing [in Iraq] for more than 40 years," the communique claimed. The Israeli daily "Ha'aretz" reported a link between the INC and the American-Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC), a Washington-based lobby, on 6 April (see http://www.haaretzdaily.com). [.....] http://www.arabnews.com/Article.asp?ID=25631 * ARMS DUMP BLAST FUELS FURY Arab News (Saudi Arabia), 27th April BAGHDAD, 27 April 2003 At least 12 Iraqis died yesterday when an arms dump exploded on the edge of Baghdad, sending rockets scything into nearby houses, and residents blamed the Americans for the carnage. The US military said unknown attackers fired an incendiary device into an Iraqi munitions store at Zaafaraniya on the capitalıs southern outskirts, triggering a series of blasts. But local people turned their anger on the Americans, shooting at soldiers trying to help relief efforts and forcing them back from the scene for a while. Residents said US troops had packed cars with confiscated weapons and detonated them at the site. The Americans denied this and said the location of the dump near a residential area showed Saddam Husseinıs disregard for civilians. Anti-American protests broke out later in the capital. About 500 men, chanting anti American, pro-Islamic slogans, drove out of Zaafaraniya in a convoy of trucks, buses and cars. One truck carried six coffins. Two banners in English read: ³Stop Explosions Near Civilians² and ³The Terror After War². Later, scores of men gathered in a central Baghdad square to protest at the US military presence in Iraq, waving their fists and chanting: ³Yes, yes to Islam! Yes, yes to Iraq!², while a religious leader with a megaphone egged on the crowd. The incident underlined how far Baghdad is from being pacified 17 days after US troops took the city. It was unclear how many people were killed in the blasts in Zaafaraniya, a mixed residential-industrial suburb. The main hospital in the district said at least 12 people had been killed and 40 injured, but medics said more casualties were ferried to other hospitals. US Central Command in Qatar said at least six people had died. One Iraqi medic on the scene said the blasts had killed many people. Asked how many, he replied: ³Forty². One distraught man, Tamir Kalaal, said his wife, father, brother and 11 other relatives had been killed when a rocket shot out of the arms dump and destroyed their home. The explosions were so loud they were heard in central Baghdad. US troops in the city center told reporters initially that they were controlled detonations, but later the American military spoke of an attack by ³an unknown number of individuals². ³One soldier was wounded in the attack,² Central Command said in a statement. ³During the attack, the assailant fired an unknown incendiary device into the cache, causing it to catch fire and explode. The explosion caused the destruction of the cache as well as a nearby building.² But furious local residents immediately questioned this explanation, claiming that US troops had been detonating Iraqi ordnance at the camp for weeks, despite repeated requests to move it to a non-populated area. ³We have been saying to them, please do not do this. Itıs only 500 meters away from our homes,² said Sami Sabah, as he sat outside the remains of his brotherıs destroyed home. ³The Americans did this. They stopped blowing up the ammunition four days ago and then they started again today,² said Sabah. Meanwhile, US efforts to bring Iraqi towns and cities under control are proving patchy. The rise of self-proclaimed leaders and Islamic leaders is providing a major challenge to plans to introduce democracy and avert the establishment of a theocratic state. Self-declared mayors have taken over in Baghdad and Kut, near the border with Iran. In Najaf in the south, Shiite groups are vying for power while in Mosul in the north, tensions have flared between Arabs and Kurds. In other towns, villages and cities it is not clear who is in charge in the chaos following the collapse of the Saddam regime. Jay Garner, the retired US general leading an interim administration until an Iraqi government takes charge, is calling for a government that is a ³mosaic² of the different ethnic, religious and political groups in Iraq. [.....] RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT Vol. 6, No. 19, 26 April 2003 * BAGHDAD 'COUNCIL HEAD' GIVES INTERVIEW, ADMITS NO RELATIONSHIP WITH U.S. by Kathleen Ridolfo Muhammad Muhsin al-Zubaydi, who claims to be the appointed head of the Baghdad Administration Executive Council, told Al-Jazeera television in a 24 April interview that the legitimacy of his leadership comes from the people of Baghdad. Al-Zubaydi said he is an independent opposition figure who has worked behind the scenes for years and is thus not well known to the press. He claims to have conducted clandestine activities against the Hussein regime for years under the codenames "wolf" and "Abu Haydar al-Karradi." Al-Zubaydi told Al-Jazeera that his group, which comprises 85 followers, came to Baghdad from northern Iraq, Jordan, and Syria. He said that after entering the capital on 8 April his group assumed a leadership role by extinguishing fires, burying the dead, and preventing looting. "So, we gained legitimacy to run the affairs of our city," he said, adding, "We were able to open hospitals and form a police command in coordination with U.S. troops." Al-Zubaydi also admitted to Al-Jazeera, despite his earlier contradictory statements (see above), that he was not appointed by U.S. troops, saying, "I do not have a relationship with the United States." He said that he still intends to increase the wages of government workers and pensioners (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 April 2003), and said that pensions have already been increased. Al-Zubaydi also told the satellite channel that his people arrested a "gang" belonging to a "certain party" that attempted to steal a vehicle carrying $260 million. He added that he encouraged the party to return the money to the central bank, adding that he would reveal the name of the party if the money is not returned. He also said that the opposition group The Constitutional Monarchy Movement (CMM), headed by Sharif Ali bin al-Husayn, is growing in popularity in Baghdad. "It seems there is a great support for this movement," al-Zubaydi said, adding, "I do not want to be biased in favor of one movement, but this is what I heard from the clergymen and the tribal chiefs who expressed this to us." [.....] http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2003/apr/27/042704271.html * BAGHDAD'S SELF-APPOINTED 'MAYOR' ARRESTED by Charles J. Hanley Las Vegas Sun, 27th April BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP): The U.S. military arrested a political pretender in Baghdad on Sunday, while a Shiite Muslim group signaled a new willingness to cooperate on the eve of a pivotal U.S.-sponsored conference to help form a provisional government for Iraq. The arrest of Mohammed Mohsen al-Zubaidi reflected U.S. determination to brook no interlopers in its effort to build a consensus for administering Iraq. Timed just before Monday's high-profile conference, it sent a clear message: Don't meddle. Al-Zubaidi was a returned exile associated with the opposition Iraqi National Congress who had declared himself mayor of Baghdad without sanction from U.S. occupation authorities. His activities, including designation of "committees" to run city affairs, had complicated the efforts of postwar U.S. civil administrator Jay Garner to reorganize political life. A U.S. military spokesman said al-Zubaidi was arrested "for exercising authority which was not his." [.....] http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=676&ncid=716&e=21&u=/usatoda y/20030430/ts_usatoday/5115159 * 13 killed in fight between U.S. troops, protesters by Vivienne Walt and Jim Drinkard Yahoo, from USA TODAY, 30th April FALLUJAH, Iraq -- A clash between anti-U.S. demonstrators and U.S. troops left 13 Iraqis dead in the latest sign of instability in the newly liberated country, witnesses said Tuesday. U.S. officials were pouring as many as 4,000 extra troops into Baghdad to increase security in the capital. Accounts of what happened in the moonless dark of Monday night varied wildly. Residents said a few hundred people marched peacefully toward the local elementary school, chanting religious slogans and demanding that U.S. servicemembers evacuate the school, which they have been using as a barracks. ''There were no guns, no arms in the demonstration,'' said Majid Khuder Abbas, 23, a student who took part in the march. The marchers heard no objections from U.S. soldiers posted nearby as they approached the school, he said. The U.S. soldiers inside the school, part of the 82nd Airborne Division, said they were besieged by gunmen who opened fire on their temporary home and seemed to ignore tear gas canisters and warning shots. Already on alert for incidents tied to Saddam Hussein's birthday, long a national holiday, they fired back in self-defense, 2nd Lt. Devin Woods said. ''Our snipers engaged targets that had weapons,'' he said. ''In the dark, we saw muzzle flashes and responded to those,'' said Capt. Frank Rosenblatt, an intelligence officer with the 82nd Airborne. No U.S. troops were reported injured. Ahmed Ghandim al-Ali, director of the hospital in this Euphrates River town 30 miles west of Baghdad, said the dead included three boys under age 11, and 75 people were injured. The conflicting accounts reflect the deepening divisions between many Iraqis and the Americans seeking to restore order three weeks after they ousted Saddam from power. Those divisions remain as President Bush prepares for a speech Thursday in which he will declare that combat operations are over. Fallujah, a Sunni Muslim stronghold friendly toward Saddam's deposed Baath Party, was seething even before Monday's violence. Residents say U.S. forces had briefly detained three local Muslim clerics last week and held six other residents for a few hours. They said soldiers posted tanks outside the town's mosques during Friday prayers. ''The feelings were already very sensitive,'' said Mohammed Afan, a chemistry professor at Baghdad University who lives in Fallujah. The clash was the latest in a series of incidents that have left many Iraqis resentful of the continuing U.S. presence in their country. Saturday, an explosion at an arms dump in a Baghdad neighborhood killed 12 civilians. Marines fired on demonstrators in the northern city of Mosul on April 15 and 16, killing 10. The violence cast a pall over Monday's progress at a Baghdad conference where Iraqi factions agreed to call a national meeting next month to set up a transitional government. ''They are stealing our oil and slaughtering our people,'' said Shuker Abdullah Hamid, a cousin of one of those killed in the Fallujah shooting. Mourners buried the dead Tuesday. Outside the school, people chanted for the Americans to go home. Lying in Fallujah General Hospital with a gunshot wound in his inner thigh, Hassan Hudair, 16, said Tuesday that the U.S. shots came with little warning -- not enough to disperse the crowd, he said. ''They threw gas grenades, and then they started to shoot in the air, and right after that, they shot at us,'' he said. ''I was at the heart of the demonstration.'' The patient in the next room had no doubts Tuesday about what should happen next. ''We should get the Americans out by any means we can. Even guns,'' said Abdul Salam Mohammed, 30, a business-administration student at Baghdad University. ''We'll fight them. They are occupiers.'' In Baghdad, Maj. Gen. Glenn Webster said up to 4,000 additional military police and infantrymen will be brought in to help deter looting and vandalism that are fueling a growing sense of insecurity among the city's residents. The 12,000 soldiers there now can't keep up with law enforcement needs in a city of 5 million, he said. [.....] NO URL * Fallujah - A Shooting Too Far? by Felicity Arbuthnot Published on Tuesday, April 29, 2003 by CommonDreams.org The shooting of protesters outside a school at Fallujah, approximately 30 miles west of Baghdad - where US troops were apparently billeted - by US troops reportedly from the 1st Battalion of 325th Airborne Infantry Division of the 82nd Airborne Division, may be an outrage too far and return to haunt the US and UK troops. Iraq is a country where historical memory is immediate and like Ireland, perceived or actual injustices never fade. Out of a crowd of two hundred, it seems seventy five were injured and thirteen to fifteen killed - nearly half maimed or dead. Fallujah was seized by the British under General Stanley Maude on 19th March 1917. He is buried in Baghdad's Rashid Cemetery. More recently Fallujah was provided by the UK, in the 1980's with a fourteen million £ chemical factory to produce chlorine and phenol, named the Tariq plant. The deal was allegedly concealed from Parliament by the then Trade Minister, Sir Paul Channon. When the Gulf war disrupted production at the Fallujah plant, Iraq successfully claimed three hundred thousand pounds compensation from the UK government"s Export Credit Guarantee Department. However, later Tariq became subject of UN weapons Inspector"s (UNSCOM) scrutiny and accused of producing chemical weapons, was destroyed. Fallujah is seared into Iraq's collective psyche as completely as the attack on the Ameriyah civilian air raid shelter, bombed by US planes during the Gulf war. Also in 1991, the market in Fallujah was bombed, reportedly by US planes flying very low. Other reports say the UK planes were also involved. When residents ran to help the injured and seek the dead, in a familiar pattern, the planes returned and bombed the rescuers. Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark visited shortly after and reported at least two hundred civilian deaths and a stunning five hundred injured. The attacks also leveled an Egyptian owned hotel and a row of modern, concrete five and six story apartments with a further (estimated at the time) two hundred dead. Military spokespersons later said they were aiming for a bridge, but Human Rights Watch reported that: "All buildings for four hundred meters on either side of the street - houses and market, were flattened". "The term 'collateral damage' is inapplicable", says Ramsey Clark, pointing out that the attacks were in broad daylight, when much of the area would have been at its most populated. He states that attacks on civilians were stated by the military (then as now) were to "demoralize". To visit Fallujah is to be shamed - and stoned. The only place in Iraq I have ever experienced hostility. It is a hostility easy to understand. A tour of the re-established market - or anywhere else, reveals traders with amputated limbs who survived the attack - and not a person, seemingly, who has not lost one or more of their family. The Tariq plant at Fallujah was one of the stated reasons for the slaughter and invasion of Gulf War Two. "Iraq had embedded key portions of its chemical weapons infrastructure" Colin Powell is reported as saying, with Prime Minister Blair faithfully repeating the allegation last Autumn. (How they love that "embedded" word, does the Pentagon/State Department not have a Thesaurus?) I visited the plant in 1999 and another cited chemical weapon plant at Al Doura in a suburb of Baghdad. Both had been completely trashed by UNSCOM. Days before Colin Powell and Tony Blair made their allegation, Count Hans von Sponeck, a former UN Assistant Secretary General and UN Co-ordinator in Iraq, visited both plants with a crew from German state television. He told this writer: "They are in the same trashed state as when you and I visited in 1999. There is one difference: the undergrowth is higher". "Hearts and minds" are being lost in Iraq with stunning speed. This further slaughter by an unwelcome, invading force, of a "liberated" crowd, may, I predict, mark the beginning of the end for the "coalition." "They stole our oil, now they are killing our people', said one grieving relative. Writing this, I remembered the word on the street in Iraq, when I was there little over a month ago. It was encapsulated by a western educated Iraqi graduate of the Sorbonne, an intellectual who speaks numerous languages, a true international. "Let them come", she said "we have been burying invaders for centuries - and we have plenty of spaces next to General Maude". http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/middle_east/2982609.stm * IRAQ'S CANCER CHILDREN OVERLOOKED IN WAR by Jonathan Duffy BBC News Online, in Nasiriyah, 29th April With Iraq's hospitals in disarray, the long-term sick are being passed over in a frantic effort to treat emergency cases. For the thousands of young leukaemia victims, the outlook is bleaker than ever. There are countless children ahead of Munther in the queue for medical help in Iraq. The seven-year-old is not suffering from one of the conditions associated with the war, such as gastroenteritis, pneumonia or shrapnel wounds. He has acute lymphatic anaemia, also known as leukaemia. It is a deadly disease - a cancer of the white blood cells - and if Munther is not treated he will die but the war has dealt a potentially fatal blow to the young boy, from Nasiriyah, in southern Iraq. Munther has been unable to travel the 230 miles to Baghdad for his monthly treatment session at a specialist cancer care hospital, where he receives chemotherapy drugs injected into the spine and intravenously. Safety has been a concern for Munther's father, Yahia al Abbas, who has always gone with his son on trips to the capital. While there is still lawlessness, Mr Abbas is reluctant to venture far from home, although he believes the security situation is starting to ease. More critical is that the hospital in Baghdad which looks after Munther was pillaged by looters in the wake of the fighting and is today barely functioning. Also, supplies of some cancer-treatment drugs have run out in recent weeks as Iraqi border controls have tightened and distribution networks have seized up. Munther's medicine dried up a week ago and no-one knows if, or when, new supplies will be available. "I've been to the American [military] hospital in Nasiriyah and the Red Cross for help but they only handle first aid and they can't do anything," says Mr Abbas. "My son's in bad health at the moment. He has vomiting, fever, anaemia and a suppressed immunity. "I'm praying that the Americans and British and other countries will help Iraq's sufferers of chronic disease. My worry is that my son could die because of what happened. Because of this, I see a dark future for my family." It's a story that is being repeated across Iraq, as cancer sufferers and others who are critically ill and in need of regular treatment, are passed over in the post-war rush to treat medical emergencies. "People come up to me many times a day asking for cancer drugs," says Dr Mary McLoughlin, based in Nasiriyah with the humanitarian agency Goal. "I'm aware that many of these people will die because the emphasis at the moment is on primary healthcare." Leukaemia, which affects blood and bone marrow, used to be relatively rare in Iraq. According to the former health ministry, cases of the cancer increased fourfold after the first Gulf War and many have blamed the use of depleted uranium munitions used by the allied forces in that conflict. Even before the war, cancer patients had to rely on black market supplies to bolster medicines available through the state. After Munther was diagnosed with leukaemia 14 months ago, Mr Abbas started to secure some drugs through unofficial channels, mostly with lorry drivers going to Jordan or Syria. At up to $100, the price was prohibitive for Mr Abbas, who used to earn $40 a month as a department head at Nasiriyah's technical college, until the war started. He has not been paid in two months. Family, friends and religious associates used to help out with the cost, and Munther always received the treatment he needed, says his father. At Nasiriyah's Women's and Paediatric hospital, which is functioning at quarter capacity after an artillery round hit a wing of the hospital, doctors feel powerless to help such cases. Last week, when a six-year-old girl called Zahra was diagnosed with acute lympoblastic leukaemia at the hospital, Dr Nima Altemimi told her to go south, to Basra. His reasoning - that by sending her to a bigger city, her case might come to the attention of the Kuwaiti government, which has airlifted a handful of severely sick children from Iraq. "We can't treat these people in Iraq now. The specialist hospitals in Baghdad and Basra have been looted. We're doing all we can just to concentrate on infections and some curable diseases," says the hospital's Dr Abdul Ghaffar al-Shadood. A few minutes later he finds another case. By now, the facts are all too familiar. Mustafa Arif Hameed, eight, was diagnosed last August with acute lymphocytic leukaemia. He had been making progress but has been brought to the hospital by his father because his medicine has run out. "If the treatment is discontinued now," says Dr Shadood, "his improvement will be reversed." http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=2660679 * GROUPS GRAB POWER IN KEY CITY, FACTIONS FIGHT by Saul Hudson Reuters, 30th April BAQUBA, Iraq: Iraqi exile groups have grabbed control of the government in a major northeastern city but die-hard Saddam Hussein loyalists and feuding armed militia threaten to undermine the power-sharing deal. The new government's authority is already challenged by the exiled Iranian militia People's Mujahideen who control a main highway about 13 miles from the city of Baquba with mounted gun positions behind sandbags at a checkpoint. The volatile mix poses problems for the United States as it tries to stabilize Iraq after toppling Saddam, especially because its soldiers only established a base last weekend in Baquba, the capital of Diala province which stretches from the fringes of Baghdad to the Iranian border. A returning exile espousing political independence sits in the mayor's office, the Iran-backed Shi'ite Muslim group -- the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) -- occupies the local parliament and a Kurdish party with armed guards in military fatigues and sneakers has taken up residence in a state sports complex. "Each group tries to meet the needs of their supporters, while we have also set up committees to organize basic services, such as electricity and policing," said Ibrahim al Rubaiy, who Baquba residents on Wednesday called the acting governor. Rubaiy, who had lived in the Kurdish-controlled north of Iraq since 1980 writing anti Saddam newspaper articles, said he returned to his hometown after the three-week war. Leaders from local tribes set up an executive group for the city and elected him head in a secret ballot, he said. Residents praised his efforts to help restore electricity and put police on the streets but he complained state employees, still loyal to Saddam, deliberately worked slowly to create the impression the old government was a better administration. Rubaiy also accused the Mujahideen, whom Washington has called a "terrorist" group, of stealing arms caches abandoned by Saddam's security forces and fostering a sense of insecurity despite the renewed police patrols. Last week U.S. forces agreed a cease-fire with the Mujahideen across Iraq, under which they said group members would move into assembly areas in a "non-combat formation." U.S. troops said the night-time curfew they imposed has not stopped frequent shooting attacks on their patrols. Nor has it prevented hours-long shootouts that light up the sky with red tracer fire between unidentified groups in the city, 80 km (50 miles) northeast of Baghdad and 90 km from the Iranian border. The U.S. military has arrested a self-appointed mayor in Baghdad and evicted the resident mayor of the southern city of Kut from his compound along with hundreds of supporters, but has little intelligence and faces a more complicated mix in Baquba. "We are a bit edgy. There's a lot of different factions jockeyeing for power in the city," Lieutenant John Parsons of the Fourth Infantry Division said. Graffiti throughout the city revealed the power struggle between the supporters and foes of Saddam. "Death to Saddam the infidel" had been painted over and replaced by "Baath party (of Saddam) lives." Somebody had scrawled "thief" next to graffiti praising Ahmed Chalabi, a former exile and apparent Pentagon choice to lead the new Iraq. The SCIRI propaganda was more conciliatory in a city that is majority Sunni, the Muslim group that dominated Saddam's government. "Sunnis and Shi'ites unite" read one banner. "We have come back to pray and create harmony among our people," said another. Still, SCIRI's military wing, the Badr Brigade, was present in the area and willing to fight the Mujahideen or other armed groups who might vie for control of the city, local SCIRI spokesman Abu Haidar al-Hatamy said. Such threats worry the United States which has repeatedly warned Iran -- an Islamist state it has bracketed with Iraq and North Korea in an "axis of evil" -- not to meddle in the transition to a post-Saddam Iraqi government. Despite the fighting and the politics, residents said most Baquba people agreed on one thing -- they want the Americans out. "If they stay too long then they will see us all unite, no matter our differences, and we will rise up against them," said traffic policeman Riyad Mohammed. TURBULENT MULLAHS http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/04/23/sprj.irq.war.main/index.html * WHITE HOUSE WARNS IRAN ON IRAQ CNN, 24th April WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush administration has warned the Iranian government to stay out of Iraq and not interfere with the country in its "road to democracy," the White House said Wednesday. While not explicitly confirming reports that Iranian agents were making their way into Iraq, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said, "We have concerns about this matter. "We have well-known channels of communication with Iran, and we have made clear to Iran that we oppose the outside interference in Iraq's road to democracy. ... Infiltration of agents to destabilize the Shiite population would clearly fall into that category." A Pentagon official Wednesday told CNN that intelligence reports received in the past few days indicate an unknown number of Iranian-backed agents have moved into southern Iraq to promote Shiite and Iranian interests with the Shiite community there. The reports indicate the Iranians are operating around Najaf, Karbala and Basra. Some of them may be members of the Badr Brigade, a Shiite militia group based in Iran, this official said. A majority of Iraq's population are Shiite Muslims, and thousands have attended rallies calling for the creation of an Islamic state in Iraq and demanding that U.S-led coalition forces leave. Fleischer would not say at what level or through what means the message was communicated to Iran. The United States and Iran do not have diplomatic relations. http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/WireFeed/WireFeed&c =WireFeed&cid=1050737562667&p=1014232938216 * IRAQI SHI'ITES SHOW STRENGTH by Saul Hudson Financial Times, 23rd April KERBALA, Iraq (Reuters) - Huge crowds of ecstatic Shi'ites are winding up a pilgrimage long banned by Saddam Hussein, their sheer numbers and organisation signalling to Washington they will be a powerful force in the new Iraq. As hundreds of thousands of chanting Muslims, many smeared with blood, completed the pilgrimage on Wednesday, Washington showed concern about increased Iranian influence in Iraq because of the rising power of its Shi'ite co-religionists. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said in Washington: "We've made clear to Iran that we would oppose any outside interference in Iraq's road to democracy." [.....] The Washington Post on Wednesday quoted Bush administration officials as saying they had focused so much on ousting Saddam that they had not given much thought to how the ensuing power vacuum would be filled. The officials said the administration had underestimated the organisational strength of the Shi'ite majority and were not in a position to prevent the possible rise of an anti-American, Islamic fundamentalist government. Shi'ites, who make up about 60 percent of Iraq's population, beat their chests, slashed their scalps with swords and whipped themselves with chains as they marked one of the most sacred festivals of their calendar in Kerbala, 70 miles (110 km) south of Baghdad. Shi'ite leaders said they expected a million or more people to attend the Arbaiin pilgrimage to the tomb of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, who was killed there 13 centuries ago. Shi'ites flagellate themselves during the festival to show their pain for the death of Hussein and to atone for the guilt of their forefathers in allowing him to be killed. It was first time the pilgrimage, ruthlessly suppressed by Saddam, had been held in nearly three decades. Despite their joy at the overthrow of Saddam, a Sunni, many of the pilgrims demanded U.S. troops get out of Iraq. Bush himself appeared unconcerned at the demonstration of Shi'ite solidarity. "I love the stories about people saying, 'Isn't it wonderful to be able to express our religion, the Shia religion, on a pilgrimage this weekend.' It made my day to read that," Bush told Newsweek. In Tehran, Iraqi Shi'ite leader Ayatollah Baqer al-Hakim said he was ready to work with the United States and others to establish security and stability in his war-torn homeland. But Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and one of the most powerful forces among Iraq's Shi'ites, said the Kerbala pilgrimage showed Iraqis were able to govern themselves. He said there was no direct parallel between Iraq and Iran's Islamic republic. "We should not make a copy of the Iranian revolution and establish it in Iraq," he said. [.....] http://www.arabnews.com/Article.asp?ID=25611 * KUBAISI'S RETURN RAISES QUESTIONS by Abdul Rahman Al-Rashid Arab News (Saudi Arabia), 26th April The first strange scene: Arabs defend Iraqis who cursed their fallen leaders. And in the second scene, the emergence of Sheikh Ahmad Al-Kubaisi as the first to benefit from America's victory, even though he was amongst the first to criticize America before the conflict began. His arrival at the Abu-Haneefa Mosque in Baghdad last Friday under American protection showed the change in politics. How did the Sheikh get from his studio in Dubai to the mosque? This is a question that has aroused considerable curiosity among both those who support and those oppose him. His supporters see in him an Iraqi national who has the right to go back to his home, preach at his mosque and lead his people. They praise his message and wish him success among the people of his sect. His anti-American stand is a brave one and must not be underestimated. As for his opponents, they can't believe that the man that was warning against the war and its consequences is now the first to benefit from it. One person wondered at the Arab commentators who are denouncing Ahmed Chalabi for coming with the American forces. At least Chalabi was the one that pushed the Americans to battle Saddam and spent 10 years of his life preparing for the downfall of Saddam. Consequently he has the right to go back and share in the new government. As for Sheikh Kubaisi, he spent his years relaxing in Dubai, and here he is jumping at the first opportunity to reap what others sowed for him; and now he pretends to have been brave in facing the American invaders, although he was never very outspoken in his criticism of the Iraqi regime. Truly none of us can deny Kubaisi because he was wrong when he said that there would be no victory in this war and when it does is the first to pluck its fruit. I believe that though Kubaisi didn't falsely accuse anyone when he went to his mosque, he was wrong to include in his sermon insults and personal ridicule in the style of satellite channels that are not appropriate either to the venue or to his call for tolerance. The media should have abandoned this manner, and instead it has infected the mosques. Kubaisi is turning the Friday sermon into a satirical program in which he makes fun of the president of a country or Arab Union and United Nations representatives. No one wants to see the deposed Iraqi minister of information, Al Sahaf, emerge from Baghdad with the same language and insults and take them into the mosque, and sit in the pulpit using that same base language. The new millennium should have brought with it respect for others, no matter how we may differ from them and no matter what their rank. What is more dangerous though is the incitement to political sedition. Kubaisi here excelled at leading both Shiites and Sunnis in prayer and preaching in his sermon on issues that unite rather than separate. Saddam's actions united the Iraqis in hatred for him and his regime because his victims were a mix of Sunnis, Arabs and Kurds even his family in the town of Tikrit weren't spared. We must not be fooled though into thinking that Kubaisi's appearance on the political scene, as a Sunni standing with the citizens of Baghdad and their spokesman on a par with the Shiite and Kurdish leadership, is a brilliant political move. In truth it is not just as Bin Laden was sent to liberate Afghanistan from the Soviets, so history will repeat itself. The Iraqis have coexisted more than any other Arab or Islamic society. Most of their conflicts have been limited to political leadership. The solution to the Iraqi mosaic is civil respecting people as individuals and giving them the right to free choice and not to confine them to Shiite, Sunni, Kurdish, Turkmen or Christian identities. RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT Vol. 6, No. 19, 26 April 2003 * AL-SADR SUPPORTERS OFFER LEADERSHIP TO CLERIC by Kathleen Ridolfo The supporters of deceased cleric Muhammad al-Sadr II are reportedly in discussions with Ayatollah Kazim al-Ha'iri, a prominent Iraqi Shi'ite cleric currently based in Qom, Iran, for al-Ha'iri to assume the movement's leadership, according to a 24 April report on the "Al Mustaqbal" website (http://www.almustaqbal.com.lb). According to the report, Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr, son of the murdered leader Muhammad, had assumed the management of the Al-Hawzah Shi'ite seminary and schools but is not prepared to assume "the work of a religious authority," while al-Ha'iri, known as "the jurisprudent of the Al-Da'wah," might be a better candidate for the leadership role. "Al-Mustaqbal" noted that al-Ha'iri represents "the point of convergence" between the al-Sadr current, the Al-Da'wah, and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). He reportedly also has strong relations with the religious authorities in Iraq, Iran, and Lebanon. RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT Vol. 6, No. 19, 26 April 2003 * COALITION FORCES REPORTEDLY DETAIN SHI'A CLERICS IN IRAQ Military personnel allegedly detained a Shi'a cleric, Shaykh Muhammad al-Fartusi, a representative of the office of Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, and several companions on 20 April as they headed home from Al-Najaf, Hizballah's Al-Manar television reported on 21 April. An Al-Jazeera television correspondent reported that 4,000-5,000 people on 21 April demonstrated against the detentions near Baghdad's Palestine Hotel. One of the demonstrators told the Al-Jazeera correspondent, "We are trying to...control the security situation, [but] the Americans do not want this. They want chaos and looting to prevail." Another demonstration took place on 22 April. The United States has not confirmed the alleged detentions. Al-Fartusi was released the next day and described his detention in a 22 April interview with Abu Dhabi television. "We were manhandled and beaten," he claimed, and added that he and his companions spent the entire night with their hands tied behind their backs. Fartusi claimed that one of his captors kicked his turban and the commander apologized for this, but "I am wearing my friend's turban now." He added, "We let it go this time," warning, "But next time, only God knows what will happen if the masses are aroused." (Bill Samii) ...AS ANOTHER SHI'A CLERIC IS DETAINED. U.S. military personnel briefly detained Islamic Action Organization in Iraq leaders Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Taqi al-Mudarissi and Ibrahim al-Mutairi on 22 April, according to news agencies, a press release at www.almodarresi.com, and Al-Jazeera satellite television. Others who were detained at the time are Ayatollah Izz-al-Din Muhammad al-Shirazi, Ayatollah Husayn al-Rabadi, and Ibrahim Shubbar. Mudarissi, who has lived in Iran for 32 years, and his companions were in a four-vehicle convoy that was heading for Karbala. (Bill Samii) [.....] _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk