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News, 21-28/05/03 (2) FORCES OF CIVIL SOCIETY * Iraqi Politicians to Issue a Protest of Occupation Rule * Muslims rally for unity in Baghdad * Iraqi Soldiers Threaten Violence If They Don't Receive Their Wages * Shiite group ignores US demand to disarm militia * U.S. Disarms Iraq Militia; Shi'ites React Warily * Juan Cole column * The Saddam intifada * Iraqi rallies calling for Hashemite rule 'spontaneous acts' * Iraqi religious leaders gather in Jordan to discuss postwar era * [Sistani fatwa] NEW IRAQI DISORDER * Unesco lengthens list of looted art in Iraq * Gun gangs rule streets as US loses control * U.S. Soldier Killed, Another Injured in Iraq Blast * US soldiers ambushed and killed FORCES OF CIVIL SOCIETY http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/21/international/worldspecial/21IRAQ.html * IRAQI POLITICIANS TO ISSUE A PROTEST OF OCCUPATION RULE by Patrick E. Tyler New York Times, 21st May BAGHDAD, Iraq, May 20: Iraq's main political groups said tonight that they were drafting a formal statement of protest to the American and British authorities over their plans to declare an occupation authority in Iraq, which would delay the rapid turnover of sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government. Iraqi political figures who attended a meeting tonight with David Manning, the foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, said they wanted to work in partnership with Washington and London. But they said they were strongly opposed to the reversal in policy announced to them Friday. Hoshyar Zebari, who was speaking for Massoud Barzani, the leader of the largest Kurdish faction, told Mr. Manning that the allies needed "a political partner" in Iraq, but warned that failure to fill the political vacuum with a functioning Iraqi government could incite a strong backlash in the Iraqi population and interference from neighboring states seeking to move into the void. Several speakers warned that the allies, in delaying the formation of an Iraqi government, would provide ammunition to former Baath Party supporters of Mr. Hussein who might contend that the worst fears of Iraqis were being realized: a takeover of Iraq and its oil by Western powers. Several Iraqi political figures said they now wanted to press ahead with the formation of an interim national assembly that could appoint a provisional government, despite resistance from the Bush administration and Mr. Blair's government. In an account of the meeting provided by the Iraqi leaders, Mr. Manning said he would take their written protest and a report of their views back to Mr. Blair. At the same time, the political leaders seemed reluctant to break openly with the allies. Instead, they said they would pursue a strategy to exert political leverage to regain the momentum they had established toward forming a government. "We don't want to clash with them," one Iraqi political figure said tonight. The change in political strategy for postwar Iraq was timed to gain support at the United Nations for a new resolution to lift sanctions and provide a role for the United Nations in the reconstruction effort. The policy was announced last Friday by L. Paul Bremer III, the new civilian administrator here, in a private meeting with Iraqi political leaders. The shift in approach places the United States and Britain at the forefront as occupation powers and opens the way to a series of steps aimed at re-establishing security and rebuilding governing institutions with strong United Nations involvement. It would delay, perhaps for a year or more, the installment of an Iraqi government, allied officials have told the Iraqi political groups. Officials from those groups said the decision was already having a serious psychological impact on Iraqis. Mr. Manning told the Iraqi political figures that the change in policy was forced by political pressures at the United Nations related to the draft resolution that Washington and London have tabled in New York. The allies want the sanctions lifted quickly, but for the United Nations to do so, there has to be an authority in place to do things like sell oil or unfreeze and distribute assets of the former government. An interim Iraqi authority was deemed insufficient for those purposes. "We want to be partners, and we want to leave just as soon as we can," Mr. Manning said. "But we cannot do that unless we leave behind structures that are worthy of you and that are properly assembled." Several officials said Britain had taken the lead in delivering the message to the Iraqi political figures, hoping to persuade European members of the Security Council to vote to lift sanctions. But some Western officials said it was noteworthy that Mr. Bremer, who did not attend today's meeting, was keeping some distance from the dispute. These officials suggested that the White House might be giving Mr. Blair room to maneuver while reserving an option to resume support for the swift formation of an Iraqi government if political developments in Iraq and the Middle East demand it. Earlier this month, Jay Garner, the first civilian administrator sent to Baghdad by the Bush administration, said he wanted to form an interim government quickly from the ranks of the main groups that opposed Saddam Hussein's government for more than a decade. In the meeting tonight, the Kurdish chieftain Jalal Talabani alluded to Britain's past administrative role in Iraq by addressing Mr. Manning as representing "our former masters." He said the victory over Mr. Hussein "will not be consolidated" until "the right of self determination of the Iraqi people" is secured by Iraqis stepping forward to manage the postwar process and preparations for the first democratic elections. Mr. Talabani said setting up a weak "interim authority," as now contemplated by Washington and London, "will deprive Iraq from independence, sovereignty and diplomatic relations, which is not good for you or for us." Another leading political figure, Ahmad Chalabi, argued that the allies would be taking a negligible risk in forming an interim Iraqi government, "since no government would have complete authority in the presence of hundreds of thousands" of allied troops. Those troops, he said, will represent the real authority in Iraq for some time and are needed by the Iraqis to protect the country's borders, secure the economic base in the oil fields and deter neighbors from meddling in Iraqi affairs. But as it stands, he said, the allies seem afraid to take a risk on an indigenous Iraqi leadership. "Do you realize that what you are giving the Iraqi interim authority in 2003 is far less than you gave the Iraqi government when you occupied Iraq in 1920?" he said, adding, "You have done this before." Mr. Chalabi asserted that when the Ottoman Empire fell after World War I, Britain formed a new Iraqi government and signed a treaty that effectively extended British dominion in the country, while establishing autonomy for the Iraqis who lived in the loose federation of Ottoman provinces of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra. "We are your best friends here," Mr. Chalabi said. "We want to work with you" and want allied forces to "stay a long time" until the country can stand on its own feet economically and militarily. But he also issued what seemed to be a warning that failure to create a sovereign government would backfire. "We do not want to make your presence here an issue," he said. Meanwhile, several former Iraqi opposition groups meeting in Berlin echoed their counterparts' complaints, saying they feared that the occupation authority could evolve into an open-ended ruling mandate. "If we don't give Iraq the sovereignty they need, this will create instability in Iraq and that instability will run through to the whole region as well," said Ali Bayati, the London representative for the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT Vol. 6, No. 23, 23 May 2003 * MUSLIMS RALLY FOR UNITY IN BAGHDAD by Kathleen Ridolfo Thousands of Muslims rallied in Baghdad on 19 May in what was billed as the largest anti U.S. demonstration since the fall of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime, AP reported. As many as 10,000 demonstrators attended the rally, which began in front of a Sunni Muslim mosque in the northern Baghdad neighborhood of Al-Azimiyah and ended in the Kadhamiyah quarter, where one of the holiest Shi'ite sites in Iraq is located, AP reported. "We decided to gather outside a Sunni mosque to show unity between Shi'ites and Sunnis," Rashid Hamdan, a rally organizer, told AP. Hamdan said the rally was organized by religious groups from the Shi'a-dominated Al-Thawra neighborhood of Baghdad. Demonstrators chanted "No Shi'ites and no Sunnis, just Islamic unity" during the march and carried banners reading "No to the foreign administration." Activist Ali Salman told AP, "What we are calling for is an interim government that represents all segments of Iraqi society." Although the protest was to bring Sunnis, Shi'ites, and even Christians together, it was largely Shi'ite in character, CNN reported. Calls for the 19 May rally came through a statement by a leading cleric and in leaflets posted in mosques around Baghdad on 18 May, "The Washington Post" reported on 19 May. Cleric Muhammad Fartusi said in an interview at the Hikma Mosque on 18 May that demonstrations were planned throughout the country. Fartusi said the U.S. administration in Iraq has had "no contact with us" to this point. "But perhaps when they see the demonstration there will be some negotiations. We are ready to administer our country." Fartusi criticized the United States for working with Iraqi opposition groups from the diaspora instead of initiating contact with indigenous Iraqi leaders. "We will keep making our demands until we achieve them and, if not, we will continue peaceful rebellion and expose their glossy slogans," he added. "The masses will ask for freedom, and they will refuse the occupation." Meanwhile, a U.S. official acknowledged the administrators' failure to work with indigenous Iraqis, telling "The Washington Post": "We're not in a rush on this.... If it's going to be done right, it's got to be done in a courteous, deliberate, and thoughtful manner." http://www.sltrib.com/2003/May/05252003/nation_w/nation_w.asp * IRAQI SOLDIERS THREATEN VIOLENCE IF THEY DON'T RECEIVE THEIR WAGES by Marc Lacey Salt Lake Tribune, 25th May BASRA, Iraq -- Iraqi soldiers complained Saturday of the allies' plans to disband the country's armed forces, with some threatening to take up arms against U.S. and British troops unless their salaries are continued. About 50 Iraqi soldiers marched to one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces in the southern city of Basra to air their grievances. They were turned away without incident by heavily armed British soldiers at the front gate. Similar complaints were raised by soldiers in Baghdad. "If they don't pay us, we'll start problems," said Lt. Col. Ahmed Muhammad, 41, a 25-year navy veteran based in Basra and a leader of the disgruntled Iraqi soldiers. "We have guns at home. If they don't pay us, if they make our children suffer, they'll hear from us." Other soldiers made similar threats. They said they had followed the instructions laid out in the leaflets dropped by allied aircraft before the war encouraging them not to fight on behalf of Saddam. "The U.S. planes dropped the papers telling us to stay in our homes," said an Iraqi tank driver in Basra. "They said our families would be fine." On Friday, L. Paul Bremer, the top civilian administrator in Iraq, issued an order dissolving Iraq's armed forces, abolishing institutions that he said "constituted and supported the most repressive activities of Saddam Hussein's regime." [.....] In Basra, some angry soldiers said that their military service was primarily a job to help feed their families and that they ought to be treated the same as civil servants. U.S. administrators issued the first wages to government workers since the war, to electricity workers in Baghdad, on Saturday. "I am entitled to my pension," Naser Shbeb, a retired Iraqi navy officer, said angrily. The British military, which is patrolling Basra, has met with the disgruntled Iraqi soldiers. A British military spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Clive Woodman, said the former soldiers would be registered in the weeks ahead and that some would be employed on civilian projects to help Basra recover from the war. "The whole issue of how we employ the ex-Iraqi military is a controversial subject," Woodman said. "It won't be solved overnight. We are switching the electricity on and getting the water running. But this one is more difficult." The first step, he said, would be to compile a list of all members of the military. After the list is screened, some of them will be put to work in nonmilitary roles. The long-term goal, Woodman said, would be to create a new Iraqi military under the oversight of Iraqi civilians. But Muhammad said he and other Iraqi soldiers had not been paid since the former government paid salaries in February. Muhammad said he used to receive 200,000 dinars a month, about $200. He said his family, like so many others in Iraq, is now struggling. Allied officials did not respond directly to the Iraqi soldiers' threats to fight if they were not paid. In Baghdad on Saturday, the U.S. military issued an order giving Iraqis three weeks to hand in any automatic and heavy weapons they have. "After June 14, individuals caught with unauthorized weapons will be detained and face criminal charges," the order stated. Iraqis will still be allowed to have pistols, shotguns and some other light firearms. Iraqi soldiers said Saturday they should not be neglected in the new Iraq. With many of his men urging him on, Muhammad talked of how the war might have unfolded if he and the many others had taken up arms. "The Iraqi soldiers are champions," he said. "We are so fierce. If we had fought, the war would still be going on. The British and the Americans would not be in our palaces. They would not be on our streets. We let them in." Even soldiers who did not lay down their weapons until Baghdad fell said they were only doing what any soldier would do, fighting to protect their land from foreign invaders. They want payments, too. "We weren't fighting for Saddam," said Nazar Abdalamer, 35, an army captain. "We were fighting to keep our families safe. I didn't want my family killed by Americans. "I don't want Americans to pay my salary," he continued. "Our country is very rich. I want my salary to come from our riches." But Muhammad acknowledged that the city, which is still unsafe after dark, was not yet ready for the allied troops to leave. "They must repair the damage they've done," he said. "Then they should let us run our own country. I fear they'll be here for 100 years." http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/05/25/1053801277315.html * SHIITE GROUP IGNORES US DEMAND TO DISARM MILITIA by Charlotte Edwardes in Baghdad Sydney Morning Herald, from The Telegraph, London, 25th May The largest Shiite party in Iraq has refused to disarm its militia of 25,000 men after a United States draft directive called for all armed groups except the Kurdish peshmerga fighters to surrender their weapons. Relations between the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and US administrators in Baghdad were at breaking point at the weekend after the group rejected moves to force the Badr Brigade to disarm. US officials had regarded Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, SCIRI's representative in the interim government, as their greatest hope of forging a relationship with the Shiites. But delegates described furious exchanges between General David McKiernan, the commander of land forces in Iraq, and SCIRI leaders at disarmament talks with all seven parties in the interim government. Hamid Al-Bayati, a spokesman for SCIRI, said: "Over the past week US troops have stormed up to a dozen SCIRI offices across Iraq confiscating money, arms and vehicles. They have arrested members of Badr forces." Mr Bayati said the organisation was fast losing patience with the American presence. "The longer Americans remain here, the more they are at risk from terrorist attack," he said. He said that over the past few months SCIRI had been in meetings with the Vice-President, Dick Cheney, the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers. "We have committed ourselves to democracy. Of course I dream of an Islamic state but we now realise that is not an option." The Americans have little alternative than to deal with SCIRI, whose leader, Ayatollah Mahammed Baqir al-Hakim, returned from exile in Iran two weeks ago to a hero's welcome. While representatives have little common ground with the US administrators, they are sophisticated, educated and claim to want secular government. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20030525/ts_nm/iraq_arms_d c&cid=564&ncid=1478 * U.S. DISARMS IRAQ MILITIA; SHI'ITES REACT WARILY by Wafa Amr Yahoo, 25th May BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. troops have disarmed a militia group affiliated with pro American Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi, as part of a campaign to impose law and order in Iraq, a political official said Sunday. But fighters of the biggest Muslim Shi'ite group, trained by Washington's bitter foe Iran, reacted warily to the U.S. military's June 14 ultimatum for Iraqis to surrender their weapons. Iraq plunged into chaos after U.S.-led forces toppled president Saddam Hussein last month and Iraqis complain that crime has reached unprecedented levels with security at its worst in the country's modern history. The U.S. military dissolved the Free Iraq Forces (FIF) and disarmed its fighters, said Entifadh Qanbar, spokesman for Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress. The FIF, with fewer than 700 fighters and armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, had been working under U.S. command. "The FIF were useful to the Americans and we had hoped the allied forces would use this opportunity to expand the FIF under their command. But they didn't, instead they dissolved and disarmed them," Qanbar told Reuters. The FIF headquarters, in an art gallery seized after the war, was crowded with unarmed members of the group Sunday. Last week they walked around carrying assault rifles and pistols. There was widespread looting in the chaos that followed Saddam's fall and weapons, from pistols and AK-47 assault rifles to anti-tank grenades, are sold cheaply on the streets. U.S.-led forces have been accused of not doing enough to restore order. "After June 14, individuals caught with unauthorized weapons will be detained and face criminal charges," the U.S. military said Saturday. The disarmament order excludes Peshmerga Kurdish fighters, who battled alongside U.S. forces in the war and would be allowed to retain arms in the Kurdish area of northern Iraq. But the U.S. military is likely to target fighters linked to the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, headed by Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim, who returned from exile last month. The group said it would not take lightly moves to disarm its militias, the Badr forces. "This is a dangerous decision. We have to study it from all aspects and we have queries we want answers to," Hakim's senior aide Adel Abdel-Mahdi told Reuters. "We need to see the text of the American decision, we are already holding talks with the Americans over this issue and have formed bilateral committees to examine the issue at all levels," he said. Hakim said earlier this month that he wanted his group's militia integrated into a new Iraqi national army. http://www.juancole.com/ * Juan Cole column Sunday, May 25, 2003 [.....] Jawad al-Khalisi, a major Shiite cleric until recently in exile in the UK, returned to Kazimiya, a Shiite suburb of Iraq, to the acclaim of thousands. His family is associated with a seminary there, which had been closed by Saddam at the beginning of the '80s and recently reopened. [.....] Monday, May 26, 2003 [.....] Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani of Najaf in Iraq plans to visit Iran, according to Asharq al Awsat. The official reason for the visit, Sistani's first to his native Iran in over 40 years, is to allow him to visit holy shrines in Qom and Mashhad. But Ali Nourizadeh says that the real reason is to allow Sistani to escape the behind the scenes "war" going on in Najaf among three factions: followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, followers of Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, and followers of the al-Da`wa Party. Sistani is opposed to clerics entering secular politics, though he does want Islamic law to be the law of the Land. This stand puts him at odds with Muqtada in the short and medium term, and with al-Hakim in the long term, and he is in an awkward position. The same newspaper says the US has made a number of arrests in the case of the murder of Majid al-Khoie on April 9, and is looking into the possibility of Iranian Revolutionary Guard involvement. It reports a power struggle in London among the surviving relatives of Majid al Khoei for control of the Khoie Foundation. His younger brother, Abd al-Sahib, appears to have emerged as the leader of the Foundation. [.....] Tuesday, May 27, 2003 [.....] Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani issued a fatwa, printed in az-Zaman, forbidding Shiites from conducting reprisal killings of former Baath party members. He also forbade anyone from buying or selling stolen Iraqi antiquities. Sistani represents quietist, traditionalist Shiism in Iraq, which is apparently less popular than used to be thought, with radicalism of a Khomeinist sort more widespread. Many Iraqi Shiites already see Sistani as having collaborated with the Baath, so this sort of ruling may infuriate them against him all the more. [.....] http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EE28Ak02.html * THE SADDAM INTIFADA by Pepe Escobar Asia Times, 28th May The Iraqi Intifada already has a starting date: July 27. And guess who's the rebel with a cause in charge? None other than Saddam Hussein. He seems to be alive, well and in hiding. This is the crux of an intelligence report received by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and confirmed by a number of sources in the Middle East to the website Free Arab Voice. According to sensitive, formerly secret information, Saddam's new leadership-in-hiding - where the number 2 is former defense minister Sultan Hashim Ahmad - is getting ready to launch what had been largely advertised before the Iraqi invasion, by once deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz and minister of information Mohammed al-Sahaf, among others: a guerrilla war supposed to bog down the US in a replay of Vietnam. For this undertaking, Saddam can count on an army of 40,000. Why July 27? According to the magazine al-Watan al-Arabi, because this is the anniversary date of the Ba'ath Party coming to power, and the day that Saddam became president of Iraq in 1979 - information also confirmed by the al-Bayan newspaper, published in the United Arab Emirates. No one inside and outside Iraq has produced firm evidence that Saddam has been killed - be it in the famous "decapitation strike" in Baghdad that started the war, or afterwards. As of the end of April, sources were telling Asia Times Online that he never left Iraq, and might be around the Tikrit region, or in Taramiyya, 30 kilometers northeast of Baghdad. There have been a wealth of rumors regarding his family in the past few weeks, including one that son Uday was ready to give himself up. Will it be a guerrilla war, a jihad, or both? No one knows for sure. But the new information suggests that Saddam may already posses all the ingredients necessary for waging a guerrilla war. He may still exercise some kind of power, and some kind of command and control over a number of his (disappearing) troops, and he has managed to access his network of hiding places in a number of central provinces. He and his new leadership may have access to weapons, ammunition, military supplies and foodstuffs, scattered in urban and also rural bases. And his new Iraqi jihadis may be totally enmeshed in the local population, acting like dormant cells, waiting for attack orders while carrying out reconnaissance missions and bringing intelligence from the leadership to the base. There's a possibility that they are being helped by retired Russian guerrilla experts. No Ba'ath Party or Iraqi army personnel are in the new secret, revamped leadership. It seems to be a very tight group. It includes of course the two sons, Qusay and Uday. It also includes Abdul Hamud and the notorious Ali Hasan al-Majid (none other than "Chemical Ali", who may have succeeded in escaping from Basra and later disappeared). Other notable members are longtime Saddam ally Taha Yasin Ramadan, former defense minister Sultan Hashim Ahmad, and Latif Nasif Jasem. Vice president Izzat Ibrahim has disappeared, as well as the commander of the Middle Euphrates, Mazban Khidr Hadi. The new secret leadership basically draws from Tikrit, Samarra and Mosul, and still seems to be Sunni-dominated. Why July and not now? Saddam's timing seems to coincide with what many Shi'ite clerics and leaders have been saying all along: we will give the Americans something like two months, and then we will draw our own conclusions. The Shi'ites are already losing their patience with what is widely considered by Iraqis as American arrogance, indifference or foot-dragging. Take for example Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim, who returned to the holy city of Karbala for the first time after 23 years in exile in Iran. Hakim heads the Supreme Assembly for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SAIRI), a former anti-Saddam opposition group that is arguably the strongest political force in post-war Iraq. The SAIRI holds one of the seven seats on the leadership council which the US is supposed to work with to set up a post Saddam government. Speaking at the Imam Hussein golden domed mosque, the holiest shrine of the 12 Shi'ite imams, Hakim asked, "Why is the running of the country and the government not transferred to Iraqis? Are they still minors who cannot govern their country?" Hakim is in favor of a government "representing all Iraqis" to be set up as soon as possible. "We reject occupation. We want and are working for an authority, an administration and a government which does not play with words." He blames the Anglo-Americans for the still rampant lawlessness. In his view, the unfinished war "allows American and British soldiers to kill Iraqis at any moment under the pretext that they feel threatened. If they are not able to bring security, these young men can do it", he said gesturing to his followers in Karbala. Saddam will certainly be betting on unrest all over Iraq concerning the American occupation, but he will also be betting on new developments in the struggle between Sunni and Shi'ite forces to get more say on the new Iraqi government. Saddam's strategy for his reemergence would be to keep the Americans guessing, while exploring breaches in their security machine, in the manner of legendary Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap, a favorite of Iraqi strategists. It's possible that the new secret leadership itself leaked some crucial data that ultimately led to former Ba'ath officials being arrested or surrendering to the Americans. From Saddam's point of view, this surrendering en masse also keeps the Americans busy and diverts their attention from planning the immediate future of Iraq (not that Washington is in a terrible hurry to get things going). The intelligence report received by the CIA describes a secret Monday, April 7 meeting chaired by Saddam - the day that American forces penetrated beyond the outskirts of Baghdad. At this meeting, Saddam apparently confirmed that he had been betrayed by the leaders of the Republican Guard and Special Republican Guard. According to Free Arab Voice, "He spoke of a high-ranking military personality with deep hatred, and said that this person had known all the secrets, the methods of issuing orders, and their secret codes. This person was the one who led the act of treachery and issued the orders for the forces to withdraw, as if they had come from Saddam Hussein personally. It was in this way that immediate and sudden withdrawals took place from all positions at one stroke, their weapons being taken away. The withdrawal covered the Republican Guard, the Special Forces, and all the regular and semi-regular forces, leaving no one to defend Baghdad except a few hundred Arab volunteers who were not included in those orders and who were not integrated into the leadership's chain of command." This matches what Asia Times Online reported on The Baghdad Deal on April 25, and the buying off of Iraqi generals so they would not fight has also been recently admitted on the record by General Tommy Franks, who headed the war in Iraq. And the news agency Agence France Presse, in a report dated May 26 from Paris, citing a Le Journal du Dimanche report, says that Saddam was betrayed by one of his cousins, General Maher Sufian al-Tikriti, head of the Republican Guards, who, along with a 20-strong entourage of other Republican Guards, left Iraq aboard a US military transport aircraft on April 8, the day before US forces swept into Baghdad. Seemingly, the "master of betrayal" - whether al-Tikriti or not - knew all of Saddam's secret passwords and thus was able to issue the fake orders for the troops to abandon what would have been the Battle of Baghdad. One of the plot participants may have been the husband of Saddam's youngest daughter, Halla, Jamal Mustafa al-Umar, who surrendered to the Americans. Saddam apparently now hates him with a vengeance. A handwritten letter dated April 28 (Saddam's birthday), said to have been written by the former president, addresses "the Iraqi people and the sons and daughters of the Arab nation and the Islamic world community, and to honorable people everywhere" and in effect calls all Iraqis to engage in an intifada against the American occupation forces, saying that it is the foreign occupation and not Sunni or Shi'ite that is the "only issue that your great Iraq is living today". The letter was authenticated by the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper. As Saddam is living underground and in secrecy, all he can do, for obvious security reasons, is send letters. And to dream of a revolution. Taliban leader Mullah Omar in Afghanistan promised and delivered: the US is actually confronted by a guerrilla war in the Afghan Pashtun belt. What about Saddam of Arabia: is it delirium or just wishful thinking? The answer on July 27. http://www.jordantimes.com/Wed/homenews/homenews2.htm * IRAQI RALLIES CALLING FOR HASHEMITE RULE 'SPONTANEOUS ACTS' Jordan Times, 28th May AMMAN (JT) ‹ Reported rallies staged Tuesday in Baghdad in front of the Jordanian embassy calling for restoring Hashemite rule to Iraq were "spontaneous acts" by the public and the Kingdom has nothing to do with them, Minister of State for Political Affairs and Minister of Information Mohammad Adwan said. Adwan reaffirmed that Jordan's stand is clear and unchanged with regard to the Iraqi issue. "Such a stand is based on the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of Iraq. Any Iraqi leadership must be chosen by a free Iraqi people," he stressed. The minister told The Jordan Times and Al Rai that several Iraqi groups have been calling for restoring the Hashemite rule which was toppled in a bloody massacre in 1958. Adwan was commenting on reports of Iraqis taking to the streets Tuesday calling for a Hashemite monarchy to rule their country. The rallies' final destination in Baghdad was the Jordanian embassy. Meanwhile, a representative of Iraq's Sunni community, Ahmad Obeid Abdullah Al Qobeissi, said here the majority of Sunnis and Shiites consider a Hashemite leadership in Iraq as a feasible solution to bring about stability to the country. Qobeissi was in Amman Monday to take part in an international seminar on the future of Iraq, where HRH Prince Hassan acted as patron. He added that in Iraq still lives a generation who witnessed the rule of the Hashemite family that continued for nearly four decades. "After a bitter experience under the republic system, they demand, though in a disorganised way, a Hashemite leadership or even any form of unity with Jordan," the leading Sunni cleric and former exile said. http://www.jordantimes.com/Wed/homenews/homenews4.htm * IRAQI RELIGIOUS LEADERS GATHER IN JORDAN TO DISCUSS POSTWAR ERA Jordan Times, 28th May AMMAN (AFP) ‹ Representatives of Iraq's Muslim and Christian communities opened talks here Tuesday to discuss how they can contribute to a new leadership in their country. The two-day meeting in the capital is organised by the New York-based World Conference on Religion and Peace (WCRP) and chaired by Prince Hassan. WCRP Secretary General William Vendley said the meeting "marked the first time all of Iraq's religious communities have met since Saddam Hussein took power" more than two decades ago. "Religion can be an asset in Iraq's reconstruction," he said. A representative of the Sunni community, Ahmad Obeid Abdullah Al Qobissi, put much of the onus for an Iraqi recovery on the United States as the occupying power. "Iraq has entered a dark tunnel and we don't see the end ... but we hope that America, and there are many good people in America, will return to the right track that benefits a great power," he told reporters. Qobissi said there were "signals of religious unity" in postwar Iraq and said the meeting should help consolidate these ties and contribute to the political and economic reconstruction of the war-battered country. For Archbishop Emanuel Delli the meeting was a chance to close ranks between the Christian and Muslim communities in Iraq and to build a strong platform "to help rebuild the country after this destructive war." Iraq needs peace and everyone to work to protect its rights, the Christian cleric said. Sheikh Jalal Al Husni Al Sagheer of the majority Shiite community in Iraq hoped that the meeting will act as a "lever to influence politicians and decision makers in one way or another" to resolve the problems facing Iraq. Prince Hassan opened the meeting by stressing the international community's "moral obligation" toward Iraq which he said "presents unique challenges and opportunities" on the political, social, economic and strategic levels. "The best way to prevent conflict in Iraq ... is to create a space for Iraq's religious communities to contribute to the country's reconstruction," he said. More than 20 representatives of Iraq's religious communities are attending the meeting alongside 40 international representatives of the world's major faiths, organisers said. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,5944-694631,00.html * [SISTANI FATWA] The Times, 28th May by Anthony Browne and James Hider A leading Muslim cleric has issued a decree forbidding the murder of former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party to try to cut revenge attacks. In his fatwa, published in the Iraqi newspaper al-Zaman, Ayatollah Ali Sistani said: "It is forbidden to take the initiative and punish those who played a direct role in the murder of innocents because punishment is the resort of the victim's family after confirmation of the crime by religious court." The decree is in contrast to messages from other community leaders, who have incited revenge killings under certain conditions. Sheikh Ali al-Gharawi, a community leader in Baghdad, has said that it was permitted to kill Baath party members should they try to return to positions of influence. Iraqi newspapers have been publishing lists of names of "executers" who worked for Saddam. Information Radio, the voice of the coalition heard in Baghdad, has, however, exhorted Iraqis not to take the law into their own hands. Ayatollah Sistani's fatwa was issued despite mounting anger among Shia leaders that Paul Bremer, the US civil administrator of Iraq, has allowed Kurdish fighters to keep their weapons, while ordering Shia and other militias to hand over theirs. At Baghdad's central mortuary, Mohammed Hussein, the mortuary clerk, said that between 20 and 25 bodies were brought in daily. "There are many revenge killings," he said. "The only safe ones are those who are already dead." NEW IRAQI DISORDER http://www.iht.com/articles/97393.html * UNESCO LENGTHENS LIST OF LOOTED ART IN IRAQ by Barry James International Herald Tribune, 24th May PARIS: A Unesco survey of Iraq's smashed and looted cultural treasures indicates that 2,000 to 3,000 objects may be missing from the National Museum in Baghdad alone and that the entire contents of the National Library are lost beyond retrieval. In addition, more than 1,500 modern paintings and sculptures from the city's Museum of Fine Arts are still missing and only 400 have been recovered, according to Mounir Bouchenaki, assistant director general for culture at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. "This is a real cultural disaster," said Bouchenaki, who led an international team of experts to Baghdad. "And we will have to redo everything from scratch in rebuilding all these cultural institutions." He said that earlier reports by U.S. officials that as few as 25 pieces had been lost were "a distortion of reality" because they described only major pieces taken from the public galleries of the museum but not objects in the reserve collections. "To give a real figure for the losses, we are going to have to draw up an inventory," he said. "Only then will we be able to assess the exact number of objects missing in the museum." He added: "Nobody has talked about the losses at the Museum of Fine Art, which is a very important one. The National Library is a real disaster. It's gone." Bouchenaki, an Algerian, is particularly well-placed to assess the damage. An Arabic speaking archeologist, he has worked in the National Museum on several occasions, most recently in 1998 when he helped organize work to install air conditioning and video surveillance in the building. The museum reopened in 2000 for the first time since the 1991 Gulf War after extensive renovation, but has now been stripped of virtually all its furniture and equipment, Bouchenaki said. He said the National Library, founded in 1920, contained about 2 million volumes, all of which have been reduced to piles of ashes. However, he said a few of the most valuable manuscripts were held in the Saddam Center for Manuscripts and are believed to be safe. Iraqi museum officials said they had also scattered some objects around the city's mosques and religious buildings and had placed about 6,700 pieces of gold and jewelry in bank vaults, where they would remain until the security situation improves. Although the Unesco mission was confined to Baghdad, it received reports from experts working outside the capital. From them, it was possible to deduce that the scale of looting at historic sites had been enormous, he added. The members of the team are drawing up a report, expected to be completed next week, that will describe the damage and suggest measures that need to be taken immediately. The team included the director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor; the director of the Iraqi-Italian center for the conservation of monuments, Roberto Parapetti; the head of the Japanese archeological mission in Iraq, Ken Matsumoto, and the dean of the Massachusetts College for Arts, John Russell. Bouchenaki said that the museums would now have to be handled like an archeological dig, with every centimeter mapped and photographed to help in later restoration efforts. He also said that movement must be restricted to avoid any trampling of small fragments underfoot. Next, he said, a body set up by Unesco to study the preservation and restoration of cultural objects would need to train local people to restore smashed objects, which included fragments of a golden harp and a gold mask from the city of Ur. Bouchenaki said that under an agreement signed earlier this month with Interpol, the international police organization, Unesco had already set up a database of missing objects that was being circulated to law enforcement organizations around the world. Iraqi objects are already being offered for sale on the Internet, he said, and there is evidence of an organized traffic of looted objects from Mosul to Damascus. Bouchenaki said that Unesco had asked governments in the region to prevent stolen items from leaving Iraq and that he had been impressed on arriving in Amman at how efficiently the Jordanian authorities were complying. http://observer.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,963107,00.html * GUN GANGS RULE STREETS AS US LOSES CONTROL by Ed Vulliamy The Observer, 25th May As the blood-red sun sinks below the Baghdad skyline, the shooting begins. It is the sound of the anarchy into which the Iraqi capital has spiralled since the war's end: the rasp of machine-guns accompanied by arcs of red tracer fire across the sky. Throughout the city, fires burn, their flames licking the night. Now, with the United Nations Security Council having formally sanctioned America's military occupation of Iraq, a massive operation is being prepared to catch up on a month of default and negligence in dealing with chaos and desperate need, with newly admitted international organisations hoping it is not too late. Having been diplomatically brushed aside over the war, the UN is set to arrive under the leadership of the Brazilian Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was for years responsible for the UN protectorate in East Timor. The World Food Programme has pledged to buy this year's crops, allowing Iraq's farmers to sow for next time around. A relaxation of all customs duty is bringing in a flood of imported goods aimed at boosting a collapsed and workless economy. But the massive task may be doomed: International Red Cross spokeswoman Nada Doumani says it is necessary 'to fill a vacuum created by war and a lack of infrastructure caused by sanctions'. Iraq is now a society of either predators or prey, fully armed with weaponry looted from military stores the Americans failed to secure after the war. 'We all have guns now,' says Abdul Ahmed Hasan, 25, surveying the charred remains of his looted photo laboratory. 'Some have guns to attack, some have guns to defend their families. I have four at home.' Baghdad is being carved up by armed gangs. Towns in the south - apart from the port city of Basra, under British control - are even more dangerous. In the city of Hilla, near Babylon, the poor quarter of Nada, where scores of civilians were killed by cluster bombs during the war, is out of bounds to strangers and US troops alike. Both The Observer and Human Rights Watch were warned not to enter without an armed escort. In the grim wards of the hospital at Hilla, Dr Satar Jabel says victims of war are now outnumbered by those of gang warfare - wounded, if not with guns, with swords. In Hilla, as in Nasiriyah further south, the arrival of any strange vehicle immediately attracts crowds of children pleading for water and food. 'Before, we had no freedom, but we had security,' muses Kadem Hashem - in the ruins of the house in south Nasiriyah, where he lost all 14 members of his family during a bombing raid. 'Now, we have freedom, but no security, no work and no income.' A government for this maelstrom is ever more elusive, with a total disconnection between the optimistic language of US press briefings at Saddam Hussein's old palace and the anarchic reality on the street. The Americans are even split over whom to back: the Pentagon is still committed to its pet politician, the formerly exiled businessman Ahmed Chalabi, who has no particular constituency in Iraq. The State Department, which has always distrusted Chalabi, backs a moderate Sunni Muslim leader, Adnan Pachachi. Militant religious and political leaders from the downtrodden Shia majority manoeuvre and prepare for power, and Kurdish leader Mahmoud Barzani has quit in disgust the US appointed commission tasked to form a government, returning to Kurdistan in the north with his militias. Since the war, say workers for several aid organisations, the Pentagon's administration has systematically hindered the reconstruction and the distribution of medicines and other supplies. At the root of the problems, says Pascal Snoeck of Médecins Sans Frontières, was the Pentagon's insistence, in the face of mass looting, on sole hegemony in supervising the humanitarian aftermath of war, refusing to allow non-governmental aid organisations to operate except under direct authority of the occupying force. While the US demanded such a role, says Snoeck - a logistics co-ordinator for the Paris based group that invariably spearheads relief efforts worldwide - they were also thoroughly unprepared for the needs of the people. Their idea was that Iraq would be 'liberated - problem solved'. 'Now,' says Snoeck, 'they are saying they cannot manage, and the Americans have reversed their position, asking the NGOs, "Please come and help," having ignored what we have been saying ever since before the war.' The US is 'in breach of its obligations under the Geneva Convention,' says Alex Renton, spokesman in Iraq for Oxfam, in failing to prevent the looting, particularly of medical supplies. 'The question of security is fundamental,' says Renton, 'as is the problem of looting. We did actually manage to repair the water system in Nasiriyah, only to see it looted a couple of days later.' 'The Americans say now they could not have foreseen the problem of looting medical supplies,' says MSF's medical co-ordinator, An Willems. 'But we had been telling them about this risk since just after the war.' On the ground, the needs are plain to see in such places as the paediatric ward of the Khadessia Hospital in Thawra City, a teeming shanty of four million - all of them Shia - on the edge of Baghdad. This is one of many hospitals into which the clerical authorities have moved, to provide security and medicine, and to become the only force of social cohesion by default of any alternative. Here, Dr Hamas Assad Walid does his rounds through a thicket of beds filled with waifs suffering from diseases invariably associated with water contamination and the accumulation of stinking garbage, through which children pick for anything they can sell. 'We have been seeing some 1,000 patients a day,' says Walid, 'and taking in about 60 to 70 - turning away hundreds of children a day.' The hospital is full, with the first children now dying from chronic dehydration and gastroenteritis, and the first cases of jaundice and suspected cholera. Her eyes yellowed, Hawra Abdullah came in seven days ago. Now she stares into oblivion and is unable to hear or speak. 'She was always a quiet girl,' says her mother, Kader, trying to smile, 'but not like this.' One of the hospital's problems, say the doctors snatching a quick lunch in their shabby common room, was the American-backed reinstatement of Dr Ali Sultan, their old director under Saddam. Sultan was one of a layer of Saddam-era managers put in place by the man appointed by the Americans as Health Minister, Dr Ali Shnan Janabi, despite his record at the apex of the old regime. Doctors across Iraq rebelled against the Americans' first Ministerial appointment and Janabi resigned after 36 hours. The removal of the neo-Baathist tier has started in Baghdad, with doctors demanding the election of new managers but, in the countryside, the supposed de-Baathification has created just the opposite result. In towns such as Hilla, there have been demonstrations against reinstatement by the Americans of Saddam's old guard: in the town hall, hospitals and even the Red Crescent. These cronies are the only citizens in town blindly loyal to the American occupier. Meanwhile, US tanks grind through the streets of Hilla, and the children still wave cheerily. The tank commanders duly wave back, but do not understand what is being shouted at them from behind those mischievous, smiling young faces: 'My father is with your sister!' Or: 'While you are in Iraq, your wife is becoming a rich woman in bed!' http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20030526/ts_nm/iraq_explos ion_dc&cid=564&ncid=1480 * U.S. SOLDIER KILLED, ANOTHER INJURED IN IRAQ BLAST Yahoo, 25th May [at a facility containing Iraqi ammunition south of Baghdad, Sunday, 25th May] BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A U.S. soldier was killed and another injured Sunday in an explosion at a facility containing Iraqi ammunition south of Baghdad, the United States Central Command said. The explosion at Ad Diwaniyah, about 75 miles south of Baghdad, occurred Sunday morning while the soldiers were on guard duty, the statement said. An investigation was under way to determine the cause of the explosion, but it was not believed to be due to hostile action, CentCom said. The injured soldier was taken to a medical field hospital where he underwent surgery. Both soldiers' names were withheld pending notification of next-of-kin, it added. As of the end of April, 24 U.S. troops had been killed and 66 injured in non-combat situations in Iraq since the U.S.-led war began, according to figures announced by U.S., British and Iraqi authorities. http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/05/27/1053801369195.html * US SOLDIERS AMBUSHED AND KILLED The Age (Australia), from AFP, 27th May Four US soldiers died and six others were wounded in Iraq today amid a flare-up of guerrilla activity and street violence that underscored the tenuousness of the US hold on the country. One soldier was killed and three injured when their vehicle ran over a land mine or some other unexploded ordnance on a highway leading to the Baghdad airport, the US Central Command said. "The incident ... appears to be a result of hostile action, though the specific circumstances of the incident are unconfirmed," the command said in a statement. The explosion capped a day of concerted attacks and fatal accidents that highlighted the perils still awaiting US-British coalition forces in the vast Middle Eastern country that US President George W Bush wants to turn into a democracy. Earlier, the US military reported the death of one soldier and the wounding of another in a 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment convoy that was ambushed by unidentified Iraqis. The eight-vehicle resupply convoy came under rocket-propelled grenade and heavy machine gun fire as it moved near the town of Hadithah, about 190 km north-west of Baghdad. "Attack helicopters and ground forces were immediately brought in to secure the area and seek out the attackers," said the Central Command. But there was no subsequent word if the search was successful. To make matters worse, US commanders in Iraq had to deal with at least two fatal accidents. One American soldier drowned after diving into an aqueduct south of the northern city of Kirkuk, said Central Command spokesman Commander David Culler. Another was killed and two others injured after their vehicle collided with a tractor-trailer on a road north-west of the city of Tallil. "It was heavy on accidents today," Culler conceded, adding that the number of attacks on US troops was usual. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,5944-694631,00.html * US SOLDIERS KILLED IN ATTACK BY IRAQ GUNMEN by James Hider in Fallujah The Times, 28th May AMERICAN troops are on the alert for guerrilla strikes after two soldiers were killed in Fallujah, an unruly Iraqi town that is a hotbed of loyalty to Saddam Hussein. The latest attack, early yesterday, turned into an intense gun battle near a bridge over the Euphrates 30 miles southwest of Baghdad. It was the latest in an increasing number of strikes on exposed American forces in which several soldiers have died. The gunmen attacked four Bradley fighting vehicles enforcing a night curfew around the town. Residents who saw the raid in an area of flat farmland, where thick reeds and low courtyard walls offer snipers perfect cover, said that two men in a white van had pulled in front of the soldiers from the Third Armoured Cavalry Regiment and sprayed them with bullets. Major Randy Martin, of the US Army's Fifth Corps, said that a hand grenade was also thrown before the assailants were killed by the soldiers. Nine Americans were injured. One resident said that gunmen were also firing from behind walls in the area. "I think it was a well co- ordinated attack," Abdelsatar Abud Humadi, 30, said. He added that the Americans had set up checkpoints on the same stretch of road almost every night, making them easy targets. At the same location last Thursday, rocket- propelled grenades were fired at an American patrol. The people of Fallujah, a Sunni Muslim community where Saddam bolstered his support by investing in local industries and recruiting for his Republican Guards, said that they were angry with the American troops for ignoring tribal customs, in particular subjecting women and elders to body searches. Anti-American feeling runs high in Fallujah, where soldiers fired on protesters at the end of last month, killing 18 people in two days of violence. "Everywhere God is fighting the Americans," one old man at the scene shouted, to nods from his neighbours. The battle came hours after a soldier had been killed and another wounded when Iraqi militants shot at a supply convoy with rocket-propelled grenades and machineguns at Hadithah, 120 miles northwest of Baghdad. An American soldier was killed and three were injured when their Humvee patrol vehicle ran over a landmine on Monday evening near Baghdad. American forces swept into Baghdad on April 9, but the hit-and-run guerrilla attacks are clearly affecting soldiers' nerves. "After the war's over, it's worse, the little attacks are worse than the main fighting," Private Richard Burns said, sweating in a Humvee guarding the office of the US-backed mayor of Fallujah. Specialist Dan Mealing, said: "It makes me wonder every time I drive up and down these roads. . . You never know when someone's gonna jump up and shoot at you." _______________________________________________ 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