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[casi] News, 07-14/05/03 (3)

News, 07-14/05/03 (3)


*  U.S. troops evicting squatters
*  Two Servicemen Killed in New Attacks in Baghdad
*  U.S. Colonel Admits 500 Tons of D.U. Were Used in Iraq
*  Black Hawk crash kills three soldiers in Iraq
*  Villagers sick after looting nuclear power plants
*  Soldiers of the new front
*  Christians 'murdered for selling alcohol'
*  Plundering of Museums in Baghdad
*  Shiite gains trouble Christians
*  U.S. risks losing Iraq in anarchy, Kurd says


by Paul Watson
Gulf News (Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service), Domiz, Iraq, 8th

U.S. soldiers carried out the first mass eviction of Kurds on Tuesday from
Arab homes that were seized with the approval of a Kurdish guerrilla

Hundreds of Kurds pleaded and argued with troops from the Army's 101st
Airborne Division sent in to clear out a housing complex built for Iraqi
military families. But U.S. troops persuaded around 400 Kurds to leave

Around 400 more were allowed to stay overnight until more trucks could
arrive to move their belongings, said Col. Joe Anderson, who commanded the
daylong operation involving about 175 soldiers.

"It's very sad," Anderson, 43, of New York City, said while a Kurdish family
gathered up clothes, bed frames, cartons of eggs, and other items to move
out just days after moving in. "We don't want to be caught in the middle.
We're just following orders."

As they packed, several Kurdish families said officials from the Kurdistan
Democratic Party guerrilla faction told them to move into the Arabs' houses
in recent days.

More than 8,000 Arabs fled the middle-class housing complex as KDP fighters
advanced toward Mosul, and Kurds say they were reclaiming land seized by
Saddam Hussain's regime to "Arabise" the area.

Taha Yasin Mohammed, 70, showed a slip of paper stamped by the KDP, with a
house number on it. He said the Kurdish faction gave him around $4 for
transportation Sunday and told him to move to Domiz with his son,
daughter-in-law and two of their children from their village some 50 miles

"This is Kurdish land and it belongs to the Kurdish government," he said
after packing a pickup truck with the family's belongings.

"It has the right to offer these houses to those of us who sacrificed for
Kurdistan against Saddam. He treated us unjustly, and now the new government
is treating us unjustly."

Faizah Ahmed, 47, insisted her family of 10 had nowhere to live if they left
Domiz because they had given up a rented home to move here.

"Americans came to liberate us and they did. Now they are going to throw us
out," he said. The remaining Kurds are expected to be out of Domiz by
Wednesday, and the homes' owners should be able to return from temporary
shelters later in the week, Anderson said.

Anderson called it a military solution to a political problem, adding it
isn't likely to be repeated in the many northern Iraqi villages where Kurds
have taken over Arab homes to resolve property disputes.

Saddam's Baath Party began to seize land and expel tens of thousands of
minority Kurds, Assyrians and Turkmens in the 1970s so that it could
resettle Arabs in an effort to strengthen Baghdad's control over northern

Kurds who either ordered Arabs to leave villages or took over Arab homes
abandoned during the recent war against Saddam's forces said they are simply
righting the wrongs of Saddam's Arabisation policy.

There is no official count of Arabs driven from their homes. But a random
check of more than two weeks, along an arc from south of Kirkuk to areas
near the Syrian border, found communities totaling more than 13,000 Arabs,
where villagers said Kurds had stolen their houses.

There are no courts to untangle the knot of property claims and
counterclaims that is Saddam's legacy, so it landed on the desk of Capt.
Teresa Raymond, airborne soldier and attorney.

"Ideally, a legal resolution is the best idea," said Raymond, 32, of Bowling
Green, Ky. "But this is an Iraqi issue, and we want the Iraqi people to
resolve it using the Iraqi legal system..."

A crowd of about 30 Kurdish men and boys greeted Anderson when he landed by
helicopter in a wheat field Tuesday morning, and several shouted that they
would not leave land that was rightfully Kurdish.

In carrying out the evictions, two of Anderson's most potent weapons were
handwritten notes from KDP leader Massoud Barzani confirming that he had
agreed that Kurds should withdraw from seized property and settle land
disputes through negotiations.

Anderson showed Barzani's letters to KDP Lt. Col. Ramadhan Abdal Mohammed
and repeatedly told him that any Kurds who refused to leave Domiz by
nightfall would be detained.

Shawkat Bamarni, the KDP's chief in Mosul and a city councilor elected
Monday, tried to persuade Anderson to let families of Kurdish fighters
killed in various wars against Saddam keep their new homes in Domiz.
Anderson stood his ground.

"No one has the right to displace other people," the American colonel said,
reminding Bamarni that the squatters received notice of the evictions
Sunday. "There are Kurdish towns all over the place. They can go there and
be taken care of."

by Susan Sachs
International Herald Tribune, from New York Times, 9th May

BAGHDAD: Two American servicemen were killed and a third injured in separate
incidents today, a deadly reminder of the dangers facing both occupation
forces and ordinary Iraqis in a country where the only surplus commodities
are weapons.

A sniper killed one of the Americans in east Baghdad, according to the
Pentagon. The second, a member of the Army's V Corps, was shot and killed
while directing traffic on a bridge.

The third serviceman was injured when his Humvee ran over a land mine that
had been buried, apparently the night before, in a median strip between the
lanes of a busy expressway near the airport.

Lt. Gen. David D. McKiernan, the commander of allied ground forces in Iraq,
did not comment on the incidents in a meeting today with reporters. But he
warned that his available troops could not guarantee absolute security in a
country the approximate size of California.

"We now have 150,000 coalition forces across Iraq," he said. "Ask yourself,
could you secure California all the time with 150,000 soldiers? The answer
is no."

The sheer volume of weapons in the hands of civilians ‹ everything from
rifles and grenades to mines and rocket-propelled grenade-launchers
abandoned by the Iraqi Army ‹ has surprised the country's new American

"This whole country was an armed camp," said General McKiernan.

In Baghdad, a sprawling city of about five million, the Army still has only
a skeleton crew of lightly armed local law enforcement officers to help
maintain order.

Fewer than half the city's 4,500 patrolmen and traffic officers have
returned to their jobs, leaving many neighborhoods prey to roving gangs of
car thieves and robbers who take what they want at gunpoint.

The police force, lacking a senior command structure and still regarded with
fear by many citizens conditioned by the brutal rule of Saddam Hussein, has
also been badly demoralized.

Most police officers who came back to work found their station houses looted
of case files, weapons and furniture. Furthermore, they have yet to receive
either a salary or the emergency payment of $20 each promised by the
American occupation forces. The criminal court system, mistrusted as an
instrument of Mr. Hussein's repression, is largely paralyzed, with just two
of the city's courtrooms opening for business for the first time today.

In any case, the patrolmen spend most of their time simply guarding their
buildings because they are badly outgunned. The American military permits
the police officers to carry only pistols, not their usual Kalashnikov
rifles, while open-air gun markets in the city sell the rifles to anyone who
has the asking price of about $75.

"What can we do when we're not even allowed to carry anything but pistols?"
said Detective Ahmed Shihab, a 12-year veteran of the force who returned to
work at the 21st precinct in the Gazaliya neighborhood in west Baghdad. "The
people we see on the street trying to steal cars are carrying Kalashnikovs."

Some police stations have been taken over by American soldiers who have been
trying, with the help of interpreters, to operate joint patrols with the
local officers and to respond to reported crimes.

But with the jails in most stations destroyed in the postwar fury of attacks
on government buildings, they can do little more than briefly detain
suspects or confiscate their weapons.

"We have limited resources and my soldiers are infantrymen, not police
officers," said Capt. Joseph Escundon of the 82nd Airborne Division, who
supervises the 30 soldiers and 25 Iraqi police officers in Gazaliya, an area
with a population of about 100,000.

Even in the best of situations like Gazaliya's, where Iraqis and Americans
police a beat together, mutual misunderstandings and divergent styles
diminish the efficiency of these law enforcement odd couples.

That was illustrated today when the men of the Gazaliya station responded to
a complaint from a neighborhood woman that her son, Ali, was threatening to
kill her with his Kalashnikov rifle.

Fourteen American soldiers in combat gear piled into the two available 5-ton
open-bed trucks. Two Iraqi police officers, a translator and several
officers in a Humvee led the way as the convoy rushed to the scene.

Barreling off on a short cut, one truck became mired in mud, and half the
soldiers had to run through a rutted field and squeeze through a narrow
opening in a fence to catch up with their colleagues. On they jogged, past
curious Iraqis and, at one point, a wedding party complete with a
three-piece marching band.

At the suspect's house, the force found their man. He was unarmed.

"Give us your weapons before we take you to Kuwait," Detective Shihab
shouted in Arabic to Ali.

Ali's younger brother finally led them to a ditch behind the house filled
with greenish water. The missing rifle, he said, was in there.

One soldier ordered the brother to pull the gun out. Another ordered, "Don't
let him touch it." On the roof of the house, a third soldier pointed his gun
at the boy and screamed: "Let him get the gun! I've got him."

A dripping rifle was finally pulled from the water. Another was found hidden
in the weeds nearby. Ali, his hands bound behind his back with plastic
handcuffs, was loaded into the Humvee and driven to the station where
Detective Shihab asked his American partners what to do with the prisoner.

As he left, Ali shouted in Arabic to his brother, "I'll get you, and I'll
get your mother, too!"

No one bothered to translate that for the Americans. But a second Iraqi
police officer, Sgt. Ayed Kathar Washi, heard it and fretted.

"When he's released, he can come and attack me because I live around here,"
he said. "If I had my gun, if I had a government, I'd have support."

While many Iraqis said they thrill at the occasional sight of American
G.I.'s in battle gear patrolling their streets, they have also been caught
in similarly explosive confrontations with jittery soldiers who try to be

On Wednesday, for example, a small Army patrol responded to a report that a
bus was being robbed in downtown Baghdad. Witnesses pointed out two men who
were running from the scene and when the officers began to chase them, the
men turned and fired pistols at the bus.

In the confusion that followed, the soldiers pointed their weapons at the
crowd of Iraqis trying to explain to them in Arabic what had happened.

Nervous, baffled and sweating under the weight of their combat gear, the
younger soldiers began shouting obscenities in English and shoved one man to
the ground before a commander pulled them away.

American officials in Baghdad said they hoped to bring in a contingent of
military police officers to supplement the soldiers and help train the Iraqi
police force.

Some political leaders, who have installed their own well-armed militias in
compounds around the city for personal protection, offered the American
administrators of Iraq their help during a meeting today to finalize a plan
for creating an interim Iraqi national assembly.

Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, said today he
could provide 10,000 Kurdish police officers from the areas under Kurdish
control in northern Iraq. But he said General McKiernan has not responded to
the offer.

by Jay Shaft, Coalition For Free Thought In Media
Scoop (New Zealand), 5th May

In three separate interviews a U.S. Special Operations Command Colonel
admitted that the U.S. and Great Britain fired 500 tons of D.U. munitions
into Iraq.

He has also informed me that the G.B.U.-28 BLU 113 Penetrator Bunker Buster
5000 pound bomb contains D.U. in the warhead. Until now, as far as I know,
the materials used to make the warhead of the G.B.U-28 have remained
shrouded in mystery.

He also admitted that privately the Pentagon has acknowledged the health
hazards of D.U. for years.

He asked to remain unnamed for obviously apparent safety reasons, and so
that he may remain a valuable source of information. (I will admit that I
will jealously guard his identity to keep him as a source.)

I have verified his identity and that his information is mostly accurate.

Some things I could not verify due to top secret classifications of certain

The following is a transcript of questions I asked him. I will refer to him
as U.S.C. from here on.

J.S.: I understand you are a Colonel in the U.S. military, is that right?

U.S.C.: You are correct; I work for the U.S. Special Operations Command
attached to Central Command. My job is to plot coordinates for targets and
decide what is the best way to destroy the target.

I have a large network of analysts at my disposal to analyze each target and
figure out what weapons would best destroy it.

J.S.: Do you know how much D.U. was just used in Iraq, and what types of
munitions were used?

U.S.C.: Yes I am aware of at least 500 tons of D.U. munitions that were used
by combined coalition forces. I also know that many cities were heavily
bombarded with D.U. munitions.

J.S.: 500 tons? Are you absolutely sure?

U.S.C.: Oh, most sure on that matter. I know it was a little over 500 tons,
but you can round off your figures to the nearest hundred tons (chuckles).

J.S.: What about the cities? Did you deliberately use D.U. on them?

U.S.C.: Let's just say that we didn't do anything to avoid using D.U. in
cities or heavily populated areas. I know that I selected some D.U. bunker
busters because of the fact that they have a high penetration factor. I used
D.U. weapons exclusively on some targets so as to ensure maximum damage on
those targets. You don't want to just halfway destroy some targets, you want
maximum damage.

J.S.: Hold on here, I didn't know that the Bunker Busters were D.U. How do
you know that? I have to make sure this is for real.

U.S.C.: Well the specs on the B.B.s are top secret, so good luck on
verifying it. To answer your question I will ask you one. How do you think
they can penetrate a steel hardened bunker with a bomb unit? There has to be
D.U. in the warhead or else you wouldn't get the penetration of the target
that is buried underground.

J.S.: Oh I see your point. Well can you tell me which of the B.B.s have D.U.

U.S.C.: Well.......... (long pause) I think I will tell you about one and
leave it at that. The G.B.U.-28(guided bomb unit) BLU 113B 5000 pounder is
capable of being fitted with a D.U. warhead and dropped. It is not solely a
D.U. warhead; they still use them with conventional non-D.U. warheads.

If you were watching T.V. and you saw any bombs hit there was an easy way to
tell if it was D.U.

If you saw all those little secondary white fires burning in the air in the
blast: that was D.U. burning off. D.U. burns with a whitish orange flame,
almost looks like a firework shell burning.

J.S.: Any other B.B.'s using D.U. warheads?

U.S.C.: I don't think I'll answer that, I've already said too much. Next

J.S.: Back to the 500 tons of D.U., did the D.O.D. / Pentagon deliberately
target civilian areas? And if they did, why?

U.S.C.: I answered that already, but I will tell you that there were a lot
of Iraqi armored vehicles in and around most major cities. Our own tanks and
vehicles use D.U. penetrator rounds to destroy those enemy vehicles. We are
aware that over 100 tons of D.U. munitions were used in and around Baghdad,
but a lot more fighting went on around the Northern cities and Basra. We
knocked out over 20,000 different types of vehicles in Iraq, and even
shelled buildings in downtown Baghdad with D.U.

J.S.: The Pentagon knew this was happening? Did they try to stop it? You
know, because of the health risks of D.U. and the fact that we were supposed
to be liberating Iraq?

U.S.C.: They wanted complete destruction of any military vehicle in Iraq.
That was why you saw our vehicles shooting even the disabled and already
shelled vehicles. I have seen pictures of many vehicles with over 20 holes
in them. The objective was to make sure that there is no way that any
fighting force could ever use those vehicles in any way. We wanted to
decimate the Iraqi army and make sure they were never able to fight again. I
think we achieved that objective quite well, more so than we had hoped in
such a short amount of time.

This took an enormous amount of ammunition, mostly D.U. tipped 25mm, 30mm,
and 125mm penetrator rounds.

J.S.: What about the health risks that are associated with D.U.? Or do you
deny there are any?

U.S.C.: You are determined to get me to make a statement about the health
risks aren't you?

J.S.: If you will, I want to see what the behind the scenes view of D.U. is
in the Pentagon.

U.S.C.: Well..... (long pause, followed by heavy profanity).. Okay, I'll
give you some dirt if that's what you're looking for. The Pentagon knows
there are huge health risks associated with D.U. They know from years of
monitoring our own test ranges and manufacturing facilities.

There were parts of Iraq designated as high contamination areas before we
ever placed any troops on the ground. The areas around Basra, Jalibah,
Talil, most of the southern desert, and various other hot spots were all
identified as contaminated before the war. Some of the areas in the southern
desert region along the Kuwaiti border are especially radioactive on scans
and tests.

One of our test ranges in Saudi Arabia shows over 1000 times the normal
background level for radiation. We have test ranges in the U.S. that are
extremely contaminated, hell they have been since the 80's and nothing is
ever said publicly. Don't ask don't tell is not only applied to gays, it is
applied to this matter very heavily.

I know at one time the theory was developed that any soldier exposed to D.U.
shells should have to wear full MOP gear (the chemical protective suit). But
they realized that just wouldn't be practical and it was never openly
discussed again.

J.S.: So the stories that they know D.U. is harmful are true?

U.S.C.: Yes, there is no doubt that most high level commanders who were
around during the 80's know about it.

J.S.: So how do you feel about the fact that you exposed your own men to

U.S.C.: F.k you!! What do you know about my job? I did what I had to do to
take out the targets I was given. If it was necessary to use D.U., than I
put it in my target analysis reports. I didn't actually fire the rounds
myself; I work in a remote office.

J.S.: So you'll never have to worry about being exposed to D.U. huh? Very

U.S.C.: (lot's of profanity) this interview is over with (more profanity,
followed by the phone slamming down)

I never did get to finish the third interview, but I think what I got out of
the colonel is very telling.

By his own admission, even knowing the dangers of D.U., it was used on major
Iraqi cities. Our own troops are being exposed to the areas that have been
highly contaminated, with no warning or attempt to protect them.

There were hundreds of tons of D.U. used in major population centers, by
troops following orders to completely destroy all Iraqi military vehicles
and buildings. This is the first time that D.U. has been used in heavily
populated areas.

A whole country was just contaminated again with no regards to the future
generations that will live there. The Tigris River irrigates all the crops
grown in that area of the world, and most livestock is raised with water and
crops irrigated from that river.

How many more babies will be born with birth defects? How many more children
will get cancer and die before they can ever live a productive life?

Thousands have been affected by D.U. used in the first Gulf War. Some
figures on the rate of cancer in Iraq showed a 300-500% increase in cancer
and related illnesses since then. Now the major population areas have been
highly contaminated, with no regard to any Iraqi's future health.

We will have to wait and see what the cost of this action will be. It is
sure to be extremely high, and result in a huge amount of further suffering
and death.

Salon, from Associated Press, 10th May

TIKRIT, Iraq -- Three American soldiers were killed and a fourth injured
when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed Friday during the rescue of an
Iraqi child wounded in an explosion, U.S. military officials said.

On Friday evening, two Black Hawk helicopters were sent from the Tikrit area
to help the child, who had suffered serious head injuries when unexploded
ordnance went off outside Samarra, U.S. military officials in Tikrit said,
speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Black Hawks landed near the Tigris River, and the child was put into the
first helicopter, which took off without problems, the officials said.

But the second helicopter snagged a wire across the river as it took off,
flipping the Black Hawk over and into the water.

One of the crew was able to swim to shore and was picked up by the first
helicopter, which returned after seeing the accident. The other three in the
Black Hawk could not be saved, one official said.

Both the child and the surviving crew member were taken to a U.S. military
hospital for treatment. There was no immediate word on their conditions.

The names of the helicopter crew are being withheld pending notification of
next of kin.

Also Friday, a U.S. Marine assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force
was killed when the pickup truck he was in collided with a Marine heavy
truck in the Kuwaiti desert, the U.S. Central Command said in a statement.
He was not immediately identified.

The deaths bring the number of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war to 146.

The Black Hawk is the Army's main troop transport helicopter. A crew of four
usually flies the Black Hawk, which can carry up to 11 more soldiers.

The last Black Hawk to crash in Iraq was shot down by Iraqis near Karbala
April 2, killing six.

A Black Hawk crashed in March in a remote, wooded area of Fort Drum, N.Y.,
during a training exercise, killing 11 of the 13 soldiers aboard.

In February, a Black Hawk crashed during night training in the Kuwaiti
desert, killing all four crew members. The Kuwaiti military said sandstorms
were reported in the area at the time the chopper went down.

by Inigo Gilmore
Gulf News, from Daily Telegraph, 12th May

Doctors fear that hundreds of Iraqis may be suffering from radiation
poisoning following the widespread looting of the country's nuclear

Seven nuclear facilities have been damaged or effectively destroyed by
ransackers since the end of the war. Technical documents, sensitive
equipment and barrels containing radioactive material are believed to have
been stolen.

Many residents in villages close to the huge Tuwaitha Nuclear Facility,
about seven miles south of Baghdad, were exhibiting signs of radiation
illness last week, including rashes, acute vomiting and severe nosebleeds.

As Saddam Hussain's regime collapsed last month villagers began looting
barrels of the uranium oxide, known as "yellowcake", from the site, which
they then emptied to use to store water, milk and yoghurt.

In Al Riyadh village, about a mile from the site, 13-year-old El Tifat
Nasser fell ill after her brothers visited the facility on a dozen separate
occasions and returned with barrels.

"She is bleeding twice a day through her nose and she is very sick," said
her mother, Sabieha Nasser, 48. "We are very worried."

Local hospitals have seen an influx of patients complaining of similar

"A lot of people seem to be affected," said one doctor. "It is deeply

Villagers said Iraqi officials arrived recently with Geiger counters. One
said the men had measured areas where locals had emptied the contents of
stolen barrels.

"The Geiger counters were screaming," he claimed, adding that the officials
had then instructed them to cover the areas in concrete.

The failure to secure the nuclear sites has fuelled criticism of American
forces in Iraq. It is known that at the Tuwaitha facility there were
significant quantities of partially enriched uranium, caesium, strontium and

Besides Tuwaitha and the adjacent Baghdad Nuclear Research Centre, the Ash
Shaykhili Nuclear Facility, the Baghdad New Nuclear Design Centre and the
Tahadi Nuclear Establishment have all been looted.

It is not yet clear what has been lost in the ransackings. There was
unrestrained looting among chemical stores and scientific files that some
experts believe could, in the wrong hands, allow the manufacture of a "dirty

Many of the files, and some of the containers that held radioactive
material, are missing.

All of the facilities have attracted close scrutiny from the International
Atomic Energy Agency and from U.S. experts who claimed that Iraq, despite
IAEA inspections, was working to develop nuclear weapons.

The warehouses at Ash Shaykhili have been destroyed by ransacking and fire
and the enrichment processing equipment is either missing or burnt.

Alarmed by the reports, the IAEA's Director-General, Mohammed El Baradei,
sent a letter last week to reiterate earlier demands that the U.S. grant the
agency access to Iraq's nuclear sites, but so far there has been no

Mohammed Zaidan, the former chief agricultural engineer at Tuwaitha, said he
had visited the nuclear site with Dr Hamid Al Bahli, a nuclear scientist, on
April 7 when American troops were approaching the site from the south.

The soldiers, he said, assured the men they would secure Tuwaitha, but two
weeks later they returned to find there were no American soldiers, only
hundreds of people looting the facility and dogs rolling around in the
contaminated uranium oxide.

"The soldiers had promised us they would secure the site but they did not
and we wonder why," he said.

"Perhaps it was because they always knew there were no real weapons there,
despite all their claims. But, nevertheless, these materials represent a
major health hazard and before long we may start to see people developing
cancer and deformed babies because they did not stop the looting."

by Paul Belden
Asia Times, 9th May

BAGHDAD - I didn't get the soldier's name, which I know is a serious breach
of journalistic convention. But he was already in his own private hell, and
to have pulled out the notepad and added "Your name, sir, for the record?"
to his current state of misery would have been beyond brutal. Journalist or
no journalist, there's a measure of humanity that you just shouldn't

Plus, I'm sure he would only have told me to go to hell under the
circumstances anyway, so what would have been the point? He was already
pissed off.

Mostly just for the fact of having to be here at all. The marines had pulled
out the week before, and they had been cocky as anything about it. This
wasn't real fighting anymore; this was mere police work - dangerous and
necessary, certainly, yet something of a stain for a man of war, and the
marines had been all swelled up and swaggering over their political victory
of having been allowed to pull out and leave the mess for the army boys to
clean up.

No more standing around with their thumbs up their asses and their fingers
on their triggers for them, examining passports at checkpoints and begging
passing journalists for the favor of the use of a real bathroom for the
first time in six weeks. No more teaching local kids the rudiments of
American gutter slang just to pass the time. ("Fuck you, Joe!" shouted one
kid after me when I wouldn't pay his price for a bottle of scotch. Wonder
where he learned that.)

Now the army has this job, and good luck, buddies. Have fun with it.

Which left my poor soldier of the US Army's 3rd Infantry Division standing
outside in the hot sun by the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad with nothing to do
but get verbally berated from a distance by maybe a hundred irate Iraqis who
had gathered outside the concertina wire, and also from two Western women
who had somehow decided to single him out for special harassment. And all of
this with a journalist standing by with his ear cocked. I truly pitied the

One of the women was a short, fat, loud grandmother-from-hell named Ruth.
Ruth was a peace activist, but the label didn't fit her as she had one of
the most gratingly unpeaceful personalities I had encountered in Baghdad
(which is saying something). She worked for a group calling itself Voices in
the Wilderness (a label that did fit her), and when I sidled up she was
giving the soldier hell for the fact that his compatriots had lately been
out on the street beating people up.

It was true - I had seen what she was talking about myself. Probably every
journalist had. Especially after dark, when the scene around most
checkpoints in Baghdad brought to mind the parking lot of a Deep South
Harley bar at closing time: a drunken fermenting brew of lawmen, outlaws,
guns and alcohol, with the threat of violence always simmering just below
the surface, and sometimes above it, too.

Just the night before, in fact, I had been returning to the hotel late and
half-soused, and as I passed through a checkpoint I saw a beefy soldier
shove a stick-thin Iraqi halfway across the Shari al-Saadoun. Just put his
hand on the man's chest and threw him across the road like a shotput, so
that he skidded when he landed.

The Iraqi had been one of a crowd of about 20 standing there, half-soused
themselves, clamoring to be allowed past the checkpoint, and the man picked
himself up and, swaying a bit, made as if he was going after the soldier.
The soldier put his gun down and his dukes up and shouted, "Come on, then!"
But the Iraqi's friends held him back.

Good thing none of them were armed. I'm sure they had guns at home, though,
and I'm sure the thought of coming back for a drive-by at least crossed
their minds. Scenes like this were being played out all over town, every

And Ruth didn't like it one bit. So here she was arguing for all she was
worth that the soldier was "required to follow the Geneva Convention" while
citing chapter and verse the section governing occupying powers, and waving
that section right under his nose, too, while she was at it, since she
conveniently had a copy right here, in case he had misplaced his.

The soldier, meanwhile, was arguing right back that as far as he was
concerned, Ruth and her dog-eared little copy of the Geneva Convention could
both take a flying leap. "What do you want me to do?" he yelled. "You think
I like being here? What do you know about it anyway? Have you ever seen
combat? Some of those people would kill us without even thinking about it!"

I'm sure he was right. But it was still the wrong answer, since it just gave
Lisa, the activist hemming the soldier in from the other side, an opening to
twist the knife, which she immediately did.

Lisa was Ruth's spiritual opposite. Affiliated with the Christian
Peacemaking Team, a Mennonite organization based in Winnipeg that for some
reason sees fit to send Canadian pacifists into the world's most dangerous
places, Lisa was one of the frailest, most unwarlike people imaginable. Just
25 years old, she had lately been stationed in the war ravaged jungles of
Colombia, and when she stepped in and gently reminded my soldier, with
preternatural, infuriating, calculated calmness, that he must always
remember "that you are a guest in this country, and you should behave like
one", I had a vision of a mob of angry coca farmers tying her up and tossing
her aboard a northbound plane.

I thought the guy was going to draw and shoot her right there in front of
me. But fortunately our attention was diverted by a hail of rocks that came
sailing over the wire, landing on a huddle of cameraman and bruising them up
pretty good.

This was the first time I'd seen rocks being thrown at journalists, and my
immediate reaction - echoing the general consensus of other journalists I
talked to later - was "Hey, not fair!" I saw one cameraman get hit three
times, on the leg, hip and chest, as he went reeling out of stone's throw
with his face still glued to the eyepiece as if he was trying to find
something to focus on, and finding only sky.

But every story has to have a hero, and this cameraman now proved himself
this one's. I couldn't believe it - just as every journalist in sight - and
every soldier, mind you - was scurrying for cover, this man, very
deliberately, plunked his camera down in the shade of a tree, set his jaw
and strode back out to the wire's edge to explain the practical application
of public relations to this screaming, sign-waving, rock-throwing crowd. He
stood there for about 10 minutes, his arms flung wide, gesturing wildly and
screaming in Arabic, and the crowd screamed and gestured and flung their
arms wide right back at him, but for some reason they didn't throw any more
rocks, until finally - I still couldn't believe it - the cameraman actually
managed to shout them down and shut them up.

Then he went back to his camera, picked it up, set his jaw again and strode
right back out to face down the loudest, most vociferous of the protesters -
a middle-aged man in a dirty dishdasha (long tunic) standing right in front.
The cameraman dialed in on this man's face from a distance of about two
yards. "All right, then, you got something to say? Say it."

Later I learned that the cameraman was one Hali Abdel Illa, and that he
worked for the Dubai Business Channel. "But I'm Iraqi myself," he said,
still glowering and rubbing his bruised leg. "I know how to deal with idiots
like these."

At the time, I was moved by his bravery, so I grabbed an interpreter and ran
over to stand next to him and take notes. The crowd didn't really have
anything new to say. They were hungry and jobless and about to run out of
food and not pleased. The angry vociferous rock thrower said his name was
Salman, and that he was an electrical engineer. In fact, most of the men in
the crowd (and they were all men) were professionals, he said, despite their
unwashed state. "But there is no money! There is no job! We are poor people,
and we are running out of food! We need a new government! We need a free
government! Not [Ahmed] Chalabi, he is like Saddam Hussein!"

By this time, the army had arrived, too. Somebody had called in PsyOps, and
they had sent a specialist over to see what if he could help talk the crowd
down. But it wasn't necessary; Abdel Illa had already done the job for them.
I had enough notes, so I went back and found my original soldier, who was
still being double-teamed by Ruth and Lisa.

They had really wound him up. "Look, I don't want to kill anybody," he said
with a flash of anger. "I'm tired of killing." But then, again, he pulled
out his trump card: "What do you know about it anyway? Have you ever seen

He repeated this quite a few times. Ruth never answered. She just glared at
him like she would a young barking pup, until she and Lisa finally gathered
themselves and left.

I couldn't let it stand, though. I knew Ruth, you see. In a quiet aside, I
told the soldier that Ruth had come in before the war, and that she had
stayed throughout the entire bombardment of Baghdad. Might not have been
combat - but I'm sure it wasn't very much fun, either. In fact, it was
probably downright terrifying. It was something that every Iraqi man, woman
and child had lived through.

He just shook his head and wiped the sweat off. "When are they going to let
you guys go home, anyway?" I asked him.

"Shit, don't ask me." he said. "I'll be the last to know."


by Kate Connolly
Daily Telegraph, 9th May

TWO Christians fell victim to the upsurge in Islamic fundamentalism sweeping
Iraq when they were shot dead in Basra yesterday by suspected militants
attempting to stamp out the sale of alcohol.

The men, who were alcohol vendors in a district of the southern Iraqi city
that is home to Armenian and Syrian Catholics, were shot within 10 minutes
of each other in their shops by two men, witnesses said.

Shia clerics - whose influence was suppressed under Saddam Hussein - have
been warning shopkeepers for weeks to stop selling alcohol or risk severe

The clerics have become increasingly vocal on a variety of issues, including
the status of women, since Saddam's fall.

Under Saddam, Iraqi Christians were the only citizens permitted to sell
alcohol. The trade would attract day trippers from neighbouring Kuwait,
about two hours' drive away, which has a complete ban on alcohol.

Yesterday shopkeepers closed their doors and warned that such killings were
to be expected while the country had no rule of law.

by Walter Sommerfeld
Translated by George Paxinos from an article in Süddeutschen Zeitung, 9th
May (

Since the fall of Baghdad, anarchy has reigned in this city of five million.
Everyone is armed to the teeth, and shooting can be heard around the clock,
especially at night. Shots are fired in warning, in fear, or in celebration,
when a district is suddenly supplied with power for two hours a day. The
greatest worry is therefore security. All former government employees,
hundreds of thousands of teachers, doctors, professors and civil servants,
have not been paid for almost two months. Theft, robbery and murder are
daily fare. Armed robbers commit carjacking in broad daylight. On the other
hand, neighborly help is experiencing an upsurge. Many districts have formed
citizens' protection groups, and everyday folk control traffic with
home-made signs. The Iraqis are artists at improvisation.

Particularly shocking for most Iraqis was the fervor with which their
infrastructure and cultural heritage has been destroyed. Many independent
eyewitnesses  are unanimous about this. Apparently the infrastructure of
this ancient state was systematically plundered, district by district.
Whatever was not worth the taking, was destroyed. In museums, libraries and
cultural centers, in the country's 15 universities, in every ministry with
the exception of the Ministry of Oil, in hospitals, state warehouses,
hotels, banks, palaces of government ministers, and also in the German
Embassy, the French Cultural Institute and the UN-Building. Even at the
beginning of May, plundering continued throughout the day.

These lootings were instigated or tolerated. Many Iraqis report on futile
attempts to get soldiers to intervene. Even appeals to the command center in
the Palestine Hotel remained fruitless. Looters were both simple people from
the poor quarters and wealthy residents of the neighborhood. People stole
for reasons of poverty, anger, revenge or greed, and their spoils were often
sold off the same day on the streets.

The most surprising detail in all reports was the assertion that American
soldiers often made the looting possible at all, by breaking open or
unlocking well-protected doors and then animating bystanders to plunder: "Go
in, Ali Baba, its yours! -- shouted the Americans, say Iraqi eyewitnesses.
Among Americans., "Ali Baba" has become an almost generic term for Iraqi
looters. A member of the UN Development Agency observed how Americans forced
open the Technical University, opened computers and removed their hard
drives, before allowing looters in.

Many Iraqis speak openly about these incidents, but wish to remain anonymous
out of fear of reprisals and because they must now work with Americans. This
also applies to the staff and residents of the Iraqi Museum, more especially
as their observervations were so explosively shocking. On Tuesday, the 8th
of April, fierce fighting occurred around the museum, as it lies in the
center of town and is surrounded by strategically important points. The
armed civil guard designated to protect the museum had to retreat in fear
from the premises, which then fell into the hands of the Americans.

Only after one of the Directors managed to reach a colleague at the British
Museum via a borrowed satellite phone, who mobilized British and American
authorities in London, did tanks roll up, which have been there since.

A high-ranking museum official reports that the day after, two tanks rolled
up, and American soldiers broke open the doors of the main building and
spent around two hours unobserved in the display galleries. Afterward, they
removed certain objects and transported them away. Which objects these were,
could not be identified by him or other observers. What is certain is only
that most of the large and conspicuous exhibits were still present, due to
their difficulty of transportation, and that only the smaller exhibits had
been removed from their display cases to storerooms.

A resident reports how US soldiers commanded chance Iraqi bystanders on the
museum grounds, to go into the museum and help themselves: "This is your
treasure, get in! For three days the plunderers worked unhindered and
carried away their booty in front of running cameras.  The few museum
employees who had returned to work tried desperately to get American troops
to protect the museum. A few soldiers turned up for a short while, looked at
what was going on and disappeared again with the remark: "This is not our

Afterward, employees worried that as everywhere else, fires would be laid,
destroying the irreplaceable documentation, the excavation reports and the
library. Two directors of the Department of Antiquities therefore went on
the Sunday to the US Command Center at the Palestine Hotel. and had to wait
for four hours for an audience, before they were able to plead urgently for
protection. The commander promised to immediately send tanks and troops --
but two days later, nothing had happened yet. Only after one of the
Directors managed to reach a colleague at the British Museum via a borrowed
satellite phone, who mobilized British and American authorities in London,
did tanks roll up, which have been there since.

Today, the Iraqi Museum is the best-protected museum on Earth. Its workers
and even its directors, who are now cleaning up without pay and cataloguing
the damage, are allowed in only after personal and baggage security checks
-- and are very indignant: "We decide, who enters and when" said a soldier
on guard at the entrance. Recovered objects are stored in a side building.
As the Director General showed me around, the tables held hardly more than
100 pieces, protected by perhaps a dozen soldiers, who had erected their
field bunks next to them.

With certainty, some of the most well-known exhibits of the museum, which
had still been in the display galleries, have disappeared. The looters broke
open the storeroom undisturbed, whose contents ran to over 170,000
inventoried items. Only since a few days ago, has a generator been able to
restore lighting, and the staff been able to take stock of the damage. The
library remained intact, also the excavation records and apparently too most
of the inventory lists. There has not been a total loss, but it seems that
the greater part of the collection has been looted.

Stolen antiquities were particularly sought-after by journalists, so that
armed gangs specialized in robbing them along the 500-kilometre long highway
from Baghdad to the Jordanian border. One of those robbed reported that
after he was robbed of his car, the first thing the bandits wanted to know
was: "Where are the antiquities?" In one journalist's car, twelve boxes of
antiquities were turned up.

The most precious and non-insurable artifacts, among them the famous
gold-finds from the Assyrian Queens' Graves in Nimrod, were stored in the
safe of the Central Bank. Here too, looters had long had a free hand, but
meanwhile it has also been protected by soldiers. Even the Directorship of
Antiquities does not have any information about what remains of these
treasures, or where they may be now.

On the other hand, even after the international outcry over cultural
pillaging in Iraq, the ongoing destruction is still being tolerated. A
European female colleague and an Iraqi lady archaeologist report that in
Babylon, the most famous city of Antiquity, looting and burning had
continued up until a few days ago. Among others, the documentation of Iraqi
excavations there has been burned. As in Baghdad, representatives of the
Department of Antiquities pleaded in vain with US troops, who had housed
themselves in one of Saddam's palaces, only to be told: "This is not our

The 15 universities of Iraq have been totally looted and burned. Only the
University of Baghdad in Djadaria remained untouched. There, Americans had
made their headquarters. Of the infrastructure of the Mustansanja
University, along with that of Bologna the oldest in the world, nothing has
been left -- even fixed installations were dismantled -- including the
electrical wall-sockets, and the campus burned down. On the campus of the
Arts Faculty of the University of Baghdad in Wazinja almost everything has
been destroyed, also its Department of Archaeology, which as extension of
the Iraqi Museum delineates the sources of the more than 5,000 year-old
period of high culture. The fires have caused several buildings to collapse.
Of the Library of the Germanistic Section, which contained over 15,000
volumes, only solidified slagheaps of ash remain.

In the meantime, professors and students have begun clearing up the debris.
Even this is difficult: the gasoline reserves of Baghdad are being depleted,
station after station is closing down, to get gas, one must line up for up
to five hours, the price of gasoline has risen tenfold, and one can no
longer afford to drive to the university. Some rooms have been provisionally
reopened, individuals pay for padlocks out of their own pockets, so that
their work is not destroyed anew.

On May 17, the universities are scheduled to reopen -- without furniture,
libraries, paper, or administrational records. Not textbooks and computers,
but brooms and shovels, will be the most important working tools now, and
the lecturers will have to teach science from memory alone. Many wish to do
it for the sake of the students, so that they will not lose an entire year.

"Under Saddam, it was bad, but now it is worse. Why was this done to us?"
asked the director of the Department of Archaeology of the University of
Baghdad: "Our future looms darkly. We have trust in nothing. We only wish to

The Author is Professor of Oriental Philology in Marburg, and has toured
Iraq for the past 20 years. He was one of the first German scientists to
visit Iraq after the war.

NO URL (sent to list)

by Michael Slackman and Robyn Dixon
Los Angeles Times, 11th May

BAGHDAD -- When the head of Iraq's largest Christian community tries to lead
his congregation in prayer these days, it is often impossible to be heard,
even in the front pew of his church.

There used to be a Baath Party office across the street -- an intimidating
presence, but a quiet one. Now, a group of Shiite Muslims has taken over the
building. They have converted it into a mosque and have mounted half a dozen
massive speakers on the structure, which they use to broadcast their
religious messages into the streets.

The small church is being overwhelmed, and its members are terrified. "There
is no peace, and we are all afraid," said Monsignor Ishlemon Warduni,
auxiliary bishop of the Chaldean Patriarch in Iraq. "We are especially
afraid of the fanatics."

Under Saddam Hussein's regime, Iraq's more than 800,000 Christians enjoyed
freedom to worship, at least while they were inside their churches. Now,
Christians throughout Iraq are feeling intimidated. From Mosul in the north
to Baghdad in central Iraq and Basra in the south, Christians say they feel
like their homes, businesses and churches are islands about to be swept
away. They say they are being harassed and threatened by members of Shiite
Muslim groups who are grabbing power and who appear eager to transform Iraq
into an Islamic republic.

"It is difficult for us to pray now," said Monsignor Emanuel Dally,
consultor of the patriarch. "They pray loudly with microphones. Our people
are hesitating to come to church."

Shiite Muslims make up the majority of Iraq's population, but for the last
three decades, they were oppressed by Hussein's Sunni-dominated government.
With the regime gone and the United States and Britain moving slowly to fill
the power vacuum, many Shiite groups have asserted themselves, taking over
buildings, renaming streets, setting up security patrols, operating
hospitals and issuing orders to nonbelievers to abide by the Muslims'
religious ways.

For Christians, this is an odd time; they are suspended between hope that
they might gain true religious freedom and fear that they may lose what
rights they had. When Hussein was in power, Christians were not permitted to
run religious schools or proselytize outside their churches. But they could
hold services regularly. In recent weeks, Christians say, militant Shiites
have threatened to kill people who produced and sold alcohol, which is
considered illegal under Islamic law but was allowed under Hussein.
Churchgoing women say they have been taunted for not covering their heads.
Shopkeepers report being harassed for selling magazines with advertisements
featuring women.

Warduni said he was so alarmed that he wrote a letter more than a week ago
to retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, who has been heading up the
postwar reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

"We want to tell the Americans that we have a 2,000-year history in this
country," said the leader of the Chaldean community, which makes up about 80
percent of Iraq's Christian population. "We want to tell them that we want
our religious freedom and our cultural rights. Security is the main problem
we want America to think about."

Garner's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance for Postwar
Iraq, which set up shop in Baghdad about two weeks ago, did not respond when
asked why it had not answered Warduni's letter. Liquor stores targeted

Though Christians all over Iraq feel threatened, the sense of unease is
perhaps strongest in the Shiite-dominated south.

In Basra -- as in much of Iraq -- the sale of alcohol has always been the
profitable realm of the Christian community. During the battle for the city,
and even after Hussein's forces fled last month and looters descended, the
Christian liquor dealers never closed their doors. Amid war and chaos, there
was still a market for whiskey and beer.

But in recent days they have placed steel barriers across their windows or
closed after Islamic militants with Kalashnikov rifles and grenades
threatened to bomb the stores and kill the owners unless they shut down for

In Basra, as in Baghdad, Shiite banners urge women to wear traditional
Islamic clothing and cover their hair. At least some Christian women say
they feel threatened.

Shereen Musa, 22, was walking through Basra's market with her mother last
week when she heard voices calling out, "Shame! Shame!" and telling her she
should not go out with her head uncovered. Then someone started throwing

"Everyone was laughing at me, and I was crying. When I had to walk back
through the same place, someone saw a cross on my neck and said: 'Oh, you're
a Christian. You'll suffer a terrible fate.' "

Musa is worried such attacks could escalate into more serious violence. "If
we stay here, we think they'll finish us," she said.

*  U.S. risks losing Iraq in anarchy, Kurd says
by Patrick E. Tyler
International Herald Tribune, from New York Times, 13th May

BAGHDAD: The Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani, who will play a key role in the
formation of the interim government in Iraq, said Monday that the United
States risked squandering its victory over Saddam Hussein by allowing chaos
and anarchy to run unchecked in the country.

Barzani spoke in an interview on the day that a new civilian administrator,
L. Paul Bremer, arrived in the Iraqi capital to take over the task of
rebuilding the country from Jay Garner, the retired lieutenant general first
appointed to that mission.

Bremer flew here on military transport from U.S. military headquarters in
Qatar accompanied by Garner and General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff.

They did not address the causes of the dramatic personnel changes reported
by administration officials during the weekend.

One of Garner's deputies, Barbara Bodine, was called home on short notice
and administration officials said Garner would also be departing his job
within a few weeks.

Other members of Garner's staff, detailed to Iraq from diplomatic or other
government jobs, are also returning to their assignments in an apparent
dismantling of much of Garner's original management team. Even his public
relations adviser is pulling out.

Other members of the team said they simply do not know if they will be asked
to stay. Bremer is bringing a large contingent of new administrators.

The sudden personnel overhaul has rattled Iraqi political leaders who have
been working closely with Garner and none was more disappointed that
Barzani, who worked with the general a decade ago when Iraq's Kurdish
minority fled by the hundreds of thousands to the Turkish border region to
escape the wrath of Saddam after an unsuccessful uprising.

"His departure will have a very negative effect," Barzani said. "The rapid
change of officials is not very helpful because we need focus."

Elaborating, Barzani said "major mistakes have been made" in the military
and civilian management of post war Iraq "and if we continue in this
confusion, this wonderful victory we have achieved will turn into a

This concern now radiates far beyond the immediate region. On Monday in
London, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said, "The situation in Baghdad is not
satisfactory," and he acknowledged that it was the responsibility of the
United States and its coalition partners "to ensure that it becomes
satisfactory very quickly."

He spoke after meeting with the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al
Faisal, who conveyed an even stronger sense of alarm.

"In the majority of the country there is instability which threatens the
territorial integrity and the unity of Iraq, which is of extreme concern to
the countries of the region," the prince said.

He said the ongoing violence, including almost hourly eruptions of gunfire
in Baghdad, would undermine the distribution of humanitarian aide "and it
threatens a breakdown in order altogether."


Like almost every official or political leader, Barzani cited the breakdown
of police authority as the critical issue that precedes all others. On
Monday, Iraqi Army officers demonstrated outside the gates of the Republican
Palace, demanding salaries, pensions and some role in the new Iraqi Army,
which does not yet exist.

Barzani said he believed it was "urgent" that a strong governor or mayor be
appointed to run Baghdad, the largest Iraqi city and the geographical
linchpin that unites the Kurdish minority of the north with the Sunni and
Shiite Muslim populations of central and southern Iraq. He also endorsed an
offer first made public by Jalal Talabani, the other major Kurdish chief, to
send as many as 10,000 city police officers from northern cities to help
police the streets of Baghdad while a new police force is being vetted,
trained and deployed.

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