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[casi] News, 18-25/06/03 (1)

News, 18-25/06/03 (1)


*  Iraq oil for food will cost $100M to shut down
*  Britain pays wages of thousands of demobbed Iraqi soldiers
*  Abizaid named to replace Franks as Central Command commander
*  Iraqi Assets Seized at a Glance
*  Pentagon Whistleblower Reveals CIA/ DoD Fiascos
*  Operation Iraqi Prosperity Success depends on the birth of a vibrant
private sector
*  Why don`t the Americans use indigenous labor in rebuilding Iraq?
*  U.S. issues RFP to GSM providers
*  Iraqi Foreign Ministry recruiting
*  Iraqi Foreign Ministry source says female diplomat to go to UN
*  U.S. plans to create Iraqi army of 40,000
*  Power cut in Baghdad goes into second day


*  'I just pulled the trigger'
*  U.S. Troops Frustrated With Role In Iraq


USA Today, 18th June

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The United Nations expects to pay more than $100
million to shut down Iraq's oil-for-food program, U.N. Secretary-General
Kofi Annan said Monday.

The council voted last month to lift all economic sanctions against Iraq and
to eliminate the program by Nov. 21.

The program allowed the former Iraqi regime to sell unlimited quantities of
oil, provided most of the money went to buy food, medicine and other
humanitarian goods. The program was adopted in 1996 to help ordinary Iraqis
cope with sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

The "best estimate for all known and projected costs" associated with
phasing out the program over six months is $106 million, Annan said in a

At the end of the six-month period, the U.S.-led coalition will take charge
of all responsibilities from the oil-for-food program.

Iraq exported 3.4 billion barrels of oil under the program, generating some
$64 billion in revenue, according to the United Nations. Nearly $27 billion
in humanitarian supplies were delivered to Iraq under the program.

The rest of the proceeds from oil sales went toward war reparations, weapons
inspections and the oil-for-food program's administrative costs.

Annan suspended the program in March, on the eve of the U.S.-led military
campaign that toppled Saddam Hussein's regime.

by Anton La Guardia
Daily Telegraph, 18th June

Britain is paying monthly wages to thousands of demobilised Iraqi soldiers,
even though the army has been disbanded. The payments are part of Britain's
hearts-and-minds campaign to avoid stirring up resentment against the
occupation of Iraq.

The US administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, last month announced the
abolition of the army and intelligence services, leaving some 400,000 people
out of a job. Earlier he decreed that senior members of the former ruling
Ba'ath party would not be eligible for government posts.

But in the British-controlled Basra province, these measures are being
interpreted flexibly.

Brig Adrian Bradshaw, commander of the 7th Armoured Brigade, the Desert
Rats, said some 8,000 out of 10,000 demobilised soldiers in the province
were being paid as "civil servants".

The vast majority of them are not working and the payments amount to a form
of unemployment benefit. Brig Bradshaw explained that these soldiers were no
different to some 70,000 other civil servants currently on the payroll who
have no jobs to go to.

He said: "At least they have something to tide them over until the
employment situation improves."

The decision to pay the soldiers is motivated partly by humanitarian concern
for thousands of families but there is also the unspoken desire to reduce
the threat of the Shi'ite population in the south taking up weapons against
British soldiers as some Sunnis have done against US forces.

The British forces are wary of the "de-Ba'athification order", saying that
if interpreted too strictly many Iraqis could, in Brig Bradshaw's words,
"become embittered against coalition forces".

British forces are working hard to re-employ former soldiers. About 300 have
been hired as security guards to help protect food stores and other
facilities. Up to 2,000 more might be enlisted in the "Basra River Service",
which will begin operations in coming days, policing waterways to stop
smuggling. The rest will wait for the "Coalition Provisional Administration"
to decide how to set up a new Iraqi army.

A major with the Desert Rats has become southern Iraq's chief paymaster,
after UK forces secured the vaults of the central bank in Basra and moved
large amounts of money to a secure military base before looters could reach

Yahoo, 18th June

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President George W. Bush nominated an Arab-American
general to replace General Tommy Franks as commander of US forces in Iraq
and elsewhere in a region that stretches from Egypt to Afghanistan, the
Pentagon said.

Lieutenant General John Abizaid, 52, has been serving since December as
Franks' deputy in charge of US military operations in Iraq.

If confirmed by the Senate, Abizaid will take over Franks' responsibilities
as commander of all US forces in the Central Command's area, a region that
has seen two wars in two years and faces other potential hotspots in Iran,
nuclear-armed Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Franks is scheduled to retire in early July, but no date has been set for
the new commander to take over.

Abizaid had been considered for the post of army chief of staff, but his
training and background made him an ideal choice as commander of the US
Central Command, a position that requires a flair for diplomacy as well as
the military arts.

The region encompasses 25 countries in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, a
span of territory that ranges some 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers) east to
west and 3,600 miles (5,750 kilometers) north to south.

It includes the world's largest oil reserves in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf
and major trade routes through the Suez Canal and Red Sea.

The United States has about 250,000 troops in the region, including 145,000
troops in Iraq, another 9,000 in Afghanistan, and about 1,500 in the Horn of
Africa, military spokesmen say.

The US Fifth Fleet has its headquarters in the Gulf.

Abizaid is assuming command at a time of dramatic changes in the region as a
result of the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Besides the occupation of Iraq, he will be overseeing a withdrawal of US
forces from Saudi Arabia and a continuing struggle against al-Qaeda

Abizaid, who is of Lebanese descent, is an expert in Arabic affairs with a
masters degree in Middle Eastern studies from Harvard.

He speaks Arabic, studied at the University of Jordan in Amman and served as
an operations officer with a UN Observer Group in Lebanon.

A West Point graduate, his 30-year military career has spanned US actions
from Grenada to Kosovo.

He has a distinguished military pedigree -- as an infantry commander,
commandant of the US Military Academy at West Point, and assistant to then
chairman of the joint chiefs of staff General John Shalikashvili.

He led a US Army Ranger rifle company during the 1983 invasion of Grenada,
inspiring an episode in the 1986 Clint Eastwood movie "Heartbreak Ridge"
when he and his men used a commandeered bulldozer to advance on a Cuban

Later, he led the 82nd Airborne Division's 504th Parachute Infantry

He commanded an airborne battalion that deployed to northern Iraq after the
Gulf War in 1991 to protect Kurds from Iraqi troops as part of Operation
Provide Comfort.

He was assistant division commander of the 1st Armored Division in

He served as commander of the 1st Infantry Division based in Wurzburg,
Germany when it formed the core of Task Force Falcon in Kosovo.

Abizaid served on the Joint Staff from October 2000 to December 2002, first
for a year as director of strategic plans and policy and then as director, a
position that has put him at the center of US military operations.

A native of Coleville, California, Abizaid is married with three children.

Yahoo, from AP, 20th June

The United Nations Security Council resolution on post-war Iraq demands that
member countries "freeze without delay" any assets they find belonging to
Saddam Hussein, his family, regime and cronies. The money is to be deposited
in a development fund controlled by the United States and Britain for the
Iraqi people.

The U.S. Treasury Department says the United States has taken the following
action since the invasion of Iraq was launched March 19:

_ Confiscated $1.7 billion in assets that had been frozen in U.S. banks
under U.N. sanctions imposed since Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990.
Treasury Undersecretary John B. Taylor told Congress that $557 million of
that money was already being transferred to Iraq to pay 1.5 million
government employees essential to the country's recovery.

_ Urged 50 other countries to follow suit, resulting in $1.2 billion being
frozen outside the United States. That is in addition to $1.1 billion frozen
between 1990 and 2003.

_ Found $900 million in currency "in various locations" in Iraq in addition
to the $350 million in currency and gold found in the vaults of the Central
Bank of Iraq.

Iraqwar,ru, 20th June
[source] : Al Martin/

In a world exclusive, Al Martin has published a news story about a
Department of Defense whistleblower who has revealed that a US covert
operations team had planted "Weapons of Mass Destruction" (WMDs) in Iraq 
then "lost" them when the team was killed by so-called "friendly fire."

The Pentagon whistleblower, Nelda Rogers, is a 28-year veteran debriefer for
the Defense Department. She has become so concerned for her safety that she
decided to tell the story about this latest CIA-military fiasco in Iraq.

According to Al Martin, "Ms.Rogers is number two in the chain of
command within this DoD special intelligence office. This is a ten-person
debriefing unit within the central debriefing office for the Department of

The information that is being leaked out is information "obtained while she
was in Germany heading up the debriefing of returning service personnel,
involved in intelligence work in Iraq for the Department of Defense and/or
the Central Intelligence Agency.

"According to Ms. Rogers, there was a covert military operation that took
place both preceding and during the hostilities in Iraq," reports Al Martin, an online subscriber-based news/analysis service which provides
"Political, Economic and Financial Intelligence."

Al Martin is a retired Lt. Commander (US Navy), the author of a memoir
called "The Conspirators: Secrets of an Iran Contra Insider, " and he is
considered one of America's foremost experts on corporate and government

Ms. Rogers reports that this particular covert operation team was manned by
ex-military personnel and that "the unit was paid through the Department of
Agriculture in order to hide it, which is also very commonplace."

According to Al Martin, "the Ag Department has often been used as a
paymaster on behalf of the CIA, DIA, and NSA and others."

Accordng to the Al Martin story, another aspect of Ms. Rogers'
report concerns a covert operation which was to locate the assets of Saddam
Hussein and his family, including cash, gold bullion, jewelry and assorted
valuable antiquities.

The problem became evident when "the operation in Iraq involved 100 people,
all of whom apparently are now dead, having succumbed to so-called 'friendly
fire.' The scope of this operation included the penetration of the Central
Bank of Iraq, other large commercial banks in Baghdad, the Iraqi National
Museum and certain presidential palaces where monies and bullion were

"They identified about $2 billion of cash in US dollars, another $150
million in Euros, in physical banknotes, and about another $100 million in
sundry foreign currencies ranging from Yen to British Pounds," reports Al

"These people died, mostly in the same place in Baghdad, supposedly from a
stray cruise missile or a combination of missiles and bombs that went
astray," Martin continues. "There were supposedly 76 who died there and the
other 24 died through a variety of 'friendly fire,' 'mistaken identity,' and
some of them  their whereabouts are simply unknown."

Ms. Rogers' story sound like an updated 21st Century version of Treasure
Island meets Ali Baba and the Bush Cabal Thieves, writes Martin.

"This was a contingent of CIA/ DoD operatives, but it was really the CIA
that bungled it, Ms. Rogers said. They were relying on the CIA's ability to
organize an effort to seize these assets and to be able to extract these
assets because the CIA claimed it had resources on the ground within the
Iraqi army and the Iraqi government who had been paid. That turned out to be
completely bogus. As usual."

"CIA people were supposed to be handling it," Martin continues. "They had a
special 'black (unmarked) aircraft to fly it out. But none of that happened
because the regular US Army showed up, stumbled onto it and everyone
involved had to scramble.

These new Iraqi "Asset Seizures" go directly to the New US Ruling Junta. The
US Viceroy in Iraq Paul Bremer is reportedly drinking Saddam Hussein's $2000
a bottle Napoleon era brandy, smoking his expensive Davidoff cigars and he
has even furnished his Baghdad office with Saddam's Napolean era antique

The Iraq Debacle Du Jour has evidently been extensively documented by the
DIA debriefing teams with "extensive tape recordings of interviews with the
Iraqi returnees, the covert operatives (as well as their affidavits)."

Al Martin has dubbed this "Operation Skim Iraq."

by L. Paul Bremer III
Opinion Journal, 21st June

BAGHDAD--Much has been written since the war about the political liberation
of Iraq, one of the remarkable events in the history of human freedom. Never
before in warfare have so many been freed with so few casualties, in so
short a period of time, with so little damage done to the country and its
people. The removal of Saddam Hussein also offers Iraqis hope for a better
economic future. For a free Iraq to thrive, its economy must be transformed.

Tomorrow, I will lead a delegation of Iraqi business and financial leaders
to a special meeting of the World Economic Forum in Amman, Jordan, where we
will discuss the economic aspects of the Coalition's overall strategy. Iraq
faces unique problems, but we have the experience of formerly socialist
countries, as well as analysis of successful capitalist ones, to inform our
perspective. While the ultimate future of Iraq's economy will be determined
by the Iraqis themselves, economic growth will depend on the birth of a
vibrant private sector. And this will require the wholesale reallocation of
resources and people from state control to private enterprise, the promotion
of foreign trade, and the mobilization of domestic and foreign capital.

In the near term, any economic plan for Iraq must address the consequences
of the conflict that liberated it. The first prerequisite to growth is the
establishment of law and order. Looters and saboteurs have destroyed
offices, stores, factories, and government buildings. Deliberate attacks on
oil facilities and electricity lines continue to undermine our efforts and
hurt the Iraqi people. Fortunately, we have made the streets of Baghdad
safer, and Coalition forces are working to root out the last remaining
vestiges of the former regime.

The formation of a political system reflecting the goals and viewpoints of
all Iraqis is the second prerequisite. Here too, the Coalition has made
progress. With the crucial assistance of a number of forward-looking Iraqi
citizens, we are on track to realize the president's vision of a free Iraq
led by a democratically elected, representative government.

Against that backdrop, my primary focus now is working with Iraqis to put
their country on the right economic path. The immediate situation is
daunting, but it could have been much worse. Humanitarian crisis was
avoided. Early operations by Coalition forces protected Iraq's oil
infrastructure, and production has already resumed. Iraq should export more
than $5 billion worth of oil in the second half of this year.

Still much work remains. To address the population's immediate liquidity
needs, we have placed more than $400 million of purchasing power in the
hands of the Iraqi people through the rapid payment of public-sector
salaries, pensions, and emergency payments. Baghdad's streets are now alive
with traders and merchants selling goods that were unobtainable only a few
months ago. The Coalition has committed billions of dollars to further spur
economic growth by funding infrastructure and development projects around
the country. But simply rebuilding government buildings or repairing damaged
pipelines will not bring about sustainable growth. That growth will require
a transformation from three decades of economic mismanagement and neglect
and a Stalinist industrial structure. Most production in Iraq was undertaken
not by private firms seeking to meet the demands of the market, but by
state-owned enterprises overseen by government officials, with Saddam
himself at the top. Capital allocation was made on political and
bureaucratic bases, not in response to market forces. More than one-third of
the economy was geared toward supporting Iraq's voracious military
establishment, which contributed little if anything to consumer welfare.

Because these state-owned enterprises did not face market discipline, they
destroyed value rather than created it. To keep these firms afloat, the
former regime oversaw a vast system of costly subsidies, which distorted
prices and raised the financing requirements of the government. Bad fiscal
policy led to bad monetary policy, as the Central Bank of Iraq was often
forced to print money in order to finance government deficits. Predictably,
inflation raged and, in only a few years, the domestic currency weakened to
less than a hundredth of its value. The international economic policies of
the old regime were just as damaging as the domestic ones. The sanctions of
the 1990s, brought about by Saddam's hostile military adventures and its
subsequent intransigence before the international community, isolated the
country from the rest of the world. Even before the sanctions, foreign
investment from outside the Arab world was outlawed. In fact, an Iraqi
businessman marveled at a recent meeting on foreign investment. "Under the
old regime," he said, "they would have cut our throats."

What will it take to undo this legacy? The central lesson from past
transitions is that the private sector must be encouraged to rapidly
allocate resources to their most productive uses. In other transition
economies, the switch from value-destroying public enterprises to
value-creating private ones has been accomplished by stimulating the growth
of small and medium-sized private enterprises, which are best able to create
jobs quickly. This encouragement takes place by reducing the subsidies to
state-owned firms and establishing a clear and transparent commercial code
(as well as honest judges to enforce it). More generally, a well-established
system of property rights must be established in order for the economy to

The most difficult part of the transition will come from reductions in the
subsidy system. But first, an adequate social safety net must be put in
place for workers affected by the closure of certain state-owned firms.
While subsidy cuts will be a crucial component of economic policy, it must
also be merciful.

Opening Iraq to the rest of the world also promises to pay big dividends. By
limiting foreign investment, Iraq was denied the chance to import capital,
management know-how and new technologies that would have raised productivity
and living standards. Access to all these resources should be encouraged,
both by domestic investors free to shop in the world marketplace or by
foreign investors with specific expertise. Domestic and international
reforms are related, as many countries have found that opening their borders
to trade and investment forced their domestic industries to face more market
discipline and become more productive. Following a disciplined, market-based
approach will require difficult decisions and entail near-term sacrifices.
For this program to be successful, it must be endorsed by the Iraqi people.
But higher living standards--and political freedom--cannot emerge if
economic freedom is denied. And so rebuilding the Iraqi economy based on
free market principles is central to our efforts.

Mr. Bremer is the chief civilian administrator in Iraq.

by Rizgar Khoshnaw, 18th June

I am not only puzzles to see that the American companies are choosing
foreign labor in Iraq, but they are making all of the decisions on who gets
the huge and lucrative contracts. Such actions taken by the American
companies will surly backfire on them in the future. This move is contrary
to what they had promised in the past.

I recently read that Mr. Paul Bremer, the Iraq civil administrator, had
"laid off" a half of million military personnel in Iraq and now the number
of unemployed Iraqis stands at ten million people. With an abundance of
Iraqis willing, ready and able to work, why shouldn't they have the
opportunity to join in the rebuilding of Iraq? They are very well educated,
in desperate need of income and capable of doing the work to rebuild their
own economy and country.

There is absolutely no need for the importation of Indian workers, as it is
the case of KBR, an American company that has employed Indians to rebuild
Iraq. Furthermore, there is no need for Indonesia to send 100,000 workers to
Iraq to "help" rebuilding Iraq as their president, Megawati Sukarnoputri,
has mentioned to the press. I personally would like to tell the president,
Thanks for the "offer" but we do not need your labor force; we have plenty
of our own. As we say in America: Thanks, but no thanks!

How can the Americans win the "hearts and minds" of the Iraqi people if they
don't even give them the opportunity to participate in rebuilding their own
country? Furthermore, is it not the Iraqi money that is being used to pay,
and I might add over pay, for these contracts?

The Iraqi people will never accept such treatment from the "liberators" for
long. At some point, they will realize that they are being "taking to the
cleaners" by some of these foreign companies. As we say in America: The
truth will always come out; it is only a matter of time.

Already there has been an investigation conducted on an American company
based in Washington, DC (I will refrain from naming it at this time) that
has been found to over charged for their services- a contract worth $167

I am 100% certain we will see plenty more of these companies being
investigated once the work begins. Personally, I will be one that will be
investigating/tracking some of these contracts as I have done in the past
six years with the oil-for-food program. It was only few weeks ago that I
mentioned this very company to some American politicians and told them that
they are over charging Iraq for the "service" that they will be providing
the Iraqi people. I was right!

For six years, I informed the Kurds that we are being cheated in the
oil-for-food program and now I would like to tell them: Please be careful of
this oil-for "rebuilding" program. Prior to writing my book on the
oil-for-food program, I had investigated many companies as well as
individuals and I have found that it was very easy for them to over charged
for products and services. I hope this "rebuilding" of Iraq program does not
follow the same footsteps as the oil-for-food program-and if they did, Iraq
will be financially bankrupt in no time at all!

Having studied economics in an American university, I was taught that in
order to revive a sluggish economy (or a dead economy in the case of Iraq)
money must be spent by the government, jobs must be created for the locals,
investments must be flow in and so on. What I am witnessing in Iraq at these
very early stages, which are extremely crucial, that the locals are not
playing a part in the employment pool that the US is putting together.

For two months the Iraqis were promised salary payments and when they
received one, it was a lousy $20 a month that was distributed. Even if this
money was enough to live on, that is not the correct path to take in order
to help the Iraqis get on their feet. Once again, as we say in America:
Teach a man how to fish and not feed him a fish a day!

The Iraqis desperately need jobs, not handouts! And to add insult to injury,
these "hand outs" that they received is THEIR own money that the US military
has found in Iraq-not taking into account the billions of dollars of Iraqi
frozen money in foreign banks. So far out of the billions of dollars that
was recovered in Iraq, only few millions have been distributed to the
Iraqis, which are the rightful owners to begin with.

Finally, I would like to tell my fellow Kurds to be ware of what the
Americans are promising us when it comes to rebuilding our region. We must
make sure that our future oil money is not spent freely on any projects that
others see fit for us. I do not want to see our money wasted as it was in
the oil-for-food program-over ONE billion dollars was spent to "repair" the
electricity in Kurdistan and we all know the result! We should demand that
the Americans use indigenous labor and not import labor from some third
world country and pay them exuberant salaries with our oil money. Lets not
forget how our 13% oil-for-food share was administered in "our" behalf!


RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT Vol. 6, No. 27, 21 June 2003

The U.S.-led administration in Iraq has issued a request for proposals (RFP)
for a nationwide Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) cell phone
network in Iraq, Reuters reported on 16 June. An unnamed senior
telecommunications official told the news agency that the Iraqi airwaves
would be divided among 124 bands -- leading the way for several companies to
operate in Iraq, which will be one of the largest markets in the Arab world.
Four separate networks currently serve an estimated 100,000 customers in
Iraq: two in Iraqi Kurdistan, one in Baghdad, and another in the southern
city of Al-Basrah. Karim Qader, who works for Asia Cell, which operates in
Iraqi Kurdistan, said that a national network would take six months to build
and would attract two million subscribers in the first year, Reuters
reported. "Iraq has been without modern communications," Qader said, adding,
"It will be a huge market. The land network was not up to scratch even in
the best of days." RCR Wireless News reported on 17 June that U.S.
Administrator L. Paul Bremer established the Ministry of Transportation and
Communications on 9 June. The ministry will oversee licensing of commercial
wireless and wireline telecom systems in Iraq. (Kathleen Ridolfo)


RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT Vol. 6, No. 27, 21 June 2003

The Iraqi Foreign Service Institute has been tasked with organizing courses
for Iraqis seeking to join the diplomatic corps, Baghdad's "Al-Sa'ah"
reported on 14 June. The institute is a branch of the Iraqi Foreign
Ministry.     The daily also reported that Ambassador Ghassan Muhsin, head
of the Guidance Committee at the Foreign Ministry, said the ministry's main
building has repaired damage from looting and burning. Muhsin added that the
Al-Rashid Company, an affiliate of the Iraqi Housing and Reconstruction
Ministry, will rehabilitate the Foreign Ministry building. The Japanese
government has pledged $1.6 million to the rehabilitation project. Muhsin
said the UN Development Program will also help fund the project. (Kathleen


RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT Vol. 6, No. 27, 21 June 2003

London-based "Al-Hayat" reported on 18 June that a source at the Iraqi
Foreign Ministry said a female diplomat might be named the next Iraqi
ambassador to the United Nations. The source named Aqilah al-Hashimi,
director of the Research and Studies Department at the Foreign Ministry, as
a possible candidate. Hashimi, who would replace former Ambassador Muhammad
al-Duri, is fluent in English, French, and Spanish, in addition to her
native Arabic. She holds a doctorate in international law. The appointment
would make her the first Iraqi female diplomat to hold such a senior
position, "Al-Hayat" reported. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

by Patrick E. Tyler
International Herald Tribune, from The New York Times, 24th June

BAGHDAD: The American and British occupation authority said Monday that it
would create a new Iraqi army of 40,000 soldiers over the next two years
that would be far smaller than Saddam Hussein's armed forces.

A senior American official, Walter Slocombe, said the three-division force
of light infantry would operate without an air force and would guard the
country's borders and key installations. At the peak of Saddam's power, he
boasted an army of more than 20 divisions and 400,000 soldiers, 2,600 tanks
and an air force of more than 300 fighters and bombers.

"This country was grotesquely over-militarized," Slocombe said, adding that
"most people in the old army will not be able to continue their military

Slocombe, who has supervised the dissolution of Saddam's armed forces, said
the new Iraqi military would theoretically be able to defend the country
from invasion. Saddam had sized his military to match his ambition to defend
the Arab world from Iran's revolution under the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini,
and to dominate the region. The size of Iraq's first postwar military seemed
to reflect the reality that 140,000 American and British troops will serve
indefinitely as guarantors of security in the region.

At the same time, Slocombe said that the occupation powers also had agreed
to pay, for an indefinite period, the salaries of up to 250,000 idled Iraqi
Army officers after weeks of angry demonstrations that culminated in the
shooting deaths of two Iraqi officers during a rally last Wednesday.

The announcement appeared timed to avert another confrontation with hundreds
of thousands of career military men who challenged last month's decree
disbanding the Iraqi Army, which left the professional officer corps to fend
for itself in a devastated economy.

American military commanders this weekend rushed riot gear to their troops
guarding the Republican Palace, where the top American administrator, L.
Paul Bremer 3d, and a large contingent of American and British staff members
are quartered. The gates to the palace, now more heavily defended than in
Saddam's time, have become the primary venue for Iraqis to vent their

On May 26, Bremer disparaged demands by Iraqi officers for back pay, stating
that his decree disbanding the army had not thrown 400,000 regular army
people out of work.

"They were thrown out of work by something called the freedom of Iraq,"
Bremer said at the time, noting that many had "dissolved, been killed or
gone home" before he formally disbanded the army.

His thinking at the time was that some officers would get pension payments
or onetime termination payments. On Monday it was apparent that the
occupation powers had reconsidered this view and were ready to pay
"stipends" nearly approximating the salaries that most officers have not
received in five months.

In the weeks since Bremer's decree, a number of Iraqi political figures as
well as American military officers have urged him to address the officers'
demands so as not to drive them into opposition against the occupation

The standoff with the army officers has coincided with the rise of
small-scale attacks against American forces in central Iraq. And while U.S.
officials have not accused cashiered officers of organizing the attacks, the
appearance of armed resistance raised concerns that army officers might
resort to violence or organized resistance if their demands were not met.


Jordan Times, 25th June    
BAGHDAD (AFP)  The Iraqi capital had been without power Tuesday for more
than 24 hours after a breakdown and suspected sabotage of fuel pipelines, an
electricity department official said.

Electricity went out in Baghdad at 10:00am (0600 GMT) on Monday.

The official said the citywide blackout was the result of a breakdown at Al
Amin distribution centre, alleged sabotage Saturday night on a gas pipeline
near Hit and another suspected act of sabotage on an oil link June 12.

The centre, some 20 kilometres southeast of the capital, takes supplies from
four power stations in the city and a fifth at Beiji, 225 kilometres north
of Baghdad.

"Work is under way and Al Amin breakdown should, God willing, be repaired
Tuesday evening," the official said.

A senior official from the Coalition Provisional Authority admitted that the
US-led authority was suffering incidents of political sabotage, but without
saying if this was to blame for the power cut.

"We are experiencing acts of political sabotage by small pockets that seek
to project an image to the Iraqi people that life is worse for them now than
it was before.

"Whether or not it is connected to the power outage today, I don't know. But
it is a broader issue that we're contending with," he said, speaking on
condition of anonymity.

"We are aware that small pockets are causing trouble and we are addressing
it," he said, without elaborating.

He said authorities had made substantial progress in restoring electricity
supplies since the end of the war, but the problem was caused by years of
under investment in the infrastructure.

He did not mention the allied bombing of the capital that left the grid

"Now we're at the stage where there's going to have to be major repairs,
major restructuring of infrastructure, he said, adding he did not know the
exact cause of the loss of power to the capital.

"Infrastructure in some parts of the country was decimated under the
(Saddam) Hussein regime, in other cases there was chronic under investment,"
he said

The Iraqi official added: "Our employees receive threats every day from
people who want to force them to supply more electricity for their area.
Sometimes they have to give in and that's why supplies are not fairly
distributed in Baghdad."

Since the war, when electricity in the capital was out for most of the time,
service has been gradually restored for some 15 hours a day.


by Bob Graham
Evening Standard, 19th June

At first glance they appear to be the archetypal Band Of Brothers of
Hollywood myth, brave and honest men united in common purpose.

But a closer look at these American GIs, sweltering in the heat of an
unwelcoming Iraq, reveals the glazed eyes and limp expressions of those who
have witnessed a war they do not understand and have begun to resent. By
their own admission these American soldiers have killed civilians without
hesitation, shot wounded fighters and left others to die in agony.

What they told me, in a series of extraordinary interviews, will make
uncomfortable reading for US and British politicians and senior military
staff desperate to prevent the liberation of Iraq turning into a quagmire of
Vietnam proportions, where the behaviour of troops feeds the hatred of an
occupied people.

Specialist Anthony Castillo: "If civilians were there, they were considered
the enemy"

Sergeant First Class John Meadows revealed the mindset that has led to
hundreds of innocent Iraqi civilians being killed alongside fighters
deliberately dressed in civilian clothes. "You can't distinguish between
who's trying to kill you and who's not," he said. "Like, the only way to get
through sXXX like that was to concentrate on getting through it by killing
as many people as you can, people you know are trying to kill you. Killing
them first and getting home."

These GIs, from Bravo Company of the 3/15th US Infantry Division, are caught
in an impossible situation. More than 40 of their number have been killed by
hostile forces since 1 May - when President Bush declared major military
operations were over - and the number of hit-and-run attacks is on the
increase. They face a resentful civilian population and, hiding among it, a
number of guerrilla fighters still loyal to the old regime. A lone Iraqi
sniper nicknamed The Hunter is believed to have claimed his sixth American
victim this week in a suburb of Baghdad.

The man, said to be a former member of the Republican Guard Special Forces,
has developed a cult status among some Iraqis. One Baghdad resident, Assad
al Amari, said: "He is fighting for Iraq on his own. There will be many more
Americans killed because they cannot stop The Hunter. He will be given the
protection of people who will let him use their homes for his shooting."

In this hostile atmosphere the men of Bravo Company are asked to maintain
order, yet at the same time win hearts and minds. It is not a dilemma they
feel able to resolve. They spoke to me - dressed in uniforms they have worn
for the past six weeks - at their base in Fallujah. Here US troops killed 18
demonstrators at a pro-Saddam rally soon after the war and now face local
fighters bent on revenge.

Their attitude to these dangers is summed up by Specialist (Corporal)
Michael Richardson, 22. "There was no dilemma when it came to shooting
people who were not in uniform, I just pulled the trigger. It was up close
and personal the whole time, there wasn't a big distance. If they were
there, they were enemy, whether in uniform or not. Some were, some weren't."

Specialist Anthony Castillo added: "When there were civilians there we did
the mission that had to be done. When they were there, they were at the
wrong spot, so they were considered enemy." In one major battle - at the
southern end of Baghdad at the intersection of the main highways - the
soldiers estimate about 70 per cent of the enemy's 400-or-so fighters were
dressed as civilians.

Sgt Meadows explained: "The fight lasted for about eight hours and they just
kept on coming all day from everywhere, from all sides. They were all in
plain clothes.

"We had dropped fliers a couple of days prior saying to people to get out of
the area if they didn't want to fight, so basically anyone who was there was
a combatant. If they were dumb enough to stand in front of tanks or drive a
car towards a tank, then they were there to fight. On that day it took away
the dilemma of who to fire at, anyone who was there was a combatant."

Cpl Richardson added: "That day nothing went with the training. There were
females fighting; there were some that, when they saw you fXXXXXX coming,
they'd just drop their sXXX and try to give up; and some guys were shot and
they'd play dead, and when you'd go by they'd reach for their weapons. That
day it was just fXXXXXX everything. When we face women or injured that try
to grab their weapons, we just finish them off. You've gotta, no choice."

Such is their level of hatred they preferred to kill rather than merely
injure. Sgt Meadows, 34, said: "The worst thing is to shoot one of them,
then go help him." Sergeant Adrian Pedro Quinones, 26, chipped in: "In that
situation you're angry, you're raging. They'd just been shooting at my men -
they were putting my guys in a casket and eight feet under, that's what they
were trying to do.

"And now, they're laying there and I have to help them, I have a
responsibility to ensure my men help them." Cpl Richardson said: "SXXX, I
didn't help any of them. I wouldn't help the fXXXXXX. There were some you
let die. And there were some you double-tapped."

He held out his hand as if firing a gun and clucked his tongue twice. He
said: "Once you'd reached the objective, and once you'd shot them and you're
moving through, anything there, you shoot again. You didn't want any
prisoners of war. You hate them so bad while you're fighting, and you're so
terrified, you can't really convey the feeling, but you don't want them to

These soldiers have faced fighters from other Arab countries. "It wasn't
even Iraqis that we was killing, it was Syrians," said Sgt Meadows. "We
spoke to some of the people and Saddam made a call for his Arab brothers for
a holy war against us, and they said they came here to fight us. Whadda we
ever do to them?"

Cpl Richardson intervened: "SXXX, that didn't really matter who they were.
They wanted to fight us so they were the enemy. We had to take over Baghdad,
period, it didn't matter who was in there."

The GIs spoke of shooting civilians at roadblocks. Sgt Meadows said: "When
they used white flags we were told to stop them at 400 metres out and then
strip them down naked then bring them through. Most obeyed the order. We
knew about others who had problems with [Iraqis] carrying white flags and
then opening up on our guys. We knew about every trick they were trying to
do. Then they'd use cars to try and drive at us. They were men, women and
children. That day we shot up a lot of cars.

"We'd shoot warning shots at them and they'd keep coming, so we'd kill them.
We'd fire a warning shot over the top of them or on the road. When people
criticise us killing civilians they don't know that a lot of these civilians
were combatants, they really were . And they still are."

The men have been traumatised by their experiences. Cpl Richardson-said: "At
night time you think about all the people you killed. It just never gets off
your head, none of this stuff does. There's no chance to forget it, we're
still here, we've been here so long. Most people leave after combat but we

Sgt Meadows said men under his command had been seeking help for severe
depression: "They've already seen psychiatrists and the chain of command has
got letters back saying 'these men need to be taken out of this situation'.
But nothing's happened." Cpl Richardson added: "Some soldiers don't even
fXXXXXX sleep at night. They sit up all fXXXXXX night long doing sXXX to
keep themselves busy - to keep their minds off this fXXXXXX stuff. It's the
only way they can handle it. It's not so far from being crazy but it's their
way of coping. There's one guy trying to build a little pool out the back,
pointless stuff but it keeps him busy."

Sgt Meadows said: "For me, it's like snap-shot photos. Like pictures of
maggots on tongues, babies with their heads on the ground, men with their
heads halfway off and their eyes wide open and mouths wide open. I see it
every day, every single day. The smells and the torsos burning, the entire
route up to Baghdad, from 20 March to 7 April, nothing but burned bodies."

Specialist Bryan Barnhart, 21, joined in: "I also got the images like
snapshots in my head. There are bodies that we saw when we went back to
secure a place we'd taken. The bodies were still there and they'd been
baking in the sun. Their bodies were bloated three times the size."

Sgt Quinones explained: "There are psychiatrists who are trying to sort out
their problems but they say it's because of long combat environment. They
know we need to be taken away from that environment." But the group's tour
of duty has been extended and the men have been forced to remain as
peacekeepers. Cpl Richardson said: "Now we're in this peacekeeping, we're
always firing off a warning shot at people that don't wanna listen to you.
You make up the rules as you go along.

"Like, in Fallujah we get rocks thrown at us by kids. You wanna turn round
and shoot one of the little fXXXXXs but you know you can't do that. Their
parents know if they came out and threw rocks we'd shoot them. So that's why
they send the kids out." Sgt Meadows said: "Can you imagine being a soldier
and being told 'you're fighting a war, then when you finish you can go

"You go and fight that war, and you win decisively, but now you have to stay
and stabilise the situation. We are having to go from a full warfighting
mindset to a peacekeeping mindset overnight. Right after shooting at people
who were trying to kill you, you now have to help them."

The anger towards their own senior officers is obvious. Cpl Richardson said:
"We weren't trained for this stuff now. It makes you resentful they're
holding us on here. It pisses everyone off, we were told once the war was
over we'd leave when our replacements get here. Well, our replacements got
here and we're still here."

Specialist Castillo said: "We're more angry at the generals who are making
these decisions and who never hit the ground, and who don't get shot at or
have to look at the bloody bodies and the burnt-out bodies, and the dead
babies and all that kinda stuff." Sgt Quinones added: "Most of these
soldiers are in their early twenties and late teens. They've seen, in less
than a month, more than any man should see in a whole lifetime. It's time
for us to go home."

On whether the war was one worth fighting, Sgt Meadows said: "I don't care
about Iraq one way or the other. I couldn't care less. [Saddam] could still
be in power and, to me, it wasn't worth leaving my family for; for getting
shot at and almost dying two or three times, there's nothing worth that to
me." Even though no Iraqis were involved, and there is no proof Saddam was
behind it, the attack on the World Trade Center provides Cpl Richardson and
many others with the justification for invading Iraq.

"There's a picture of the World Trade Center hanging up by my bed and I keep
one in my Kevlar [flak jacket]. Every time I feel sorry for these people I
look at that. I think, 'They hit us at home and, now, it's our turn.' I
don't want to say payback but, you know, it's pretty much payback."

by Daniel Williams and Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Washington Post, 20th June

BAGHDAD, June 19 -- Facing daily assaults from a well-armed resistance, U.S.
troops in volatile central Iraq say they are growing frustrated and
disillusioned with their role as postwar peacekeepers.

In conversations in a half-dozen towns across central Iraq, soldiers
complained that they have been insufficiently equipped for peacekeeping and
too thinly deployed in areas where they are under attack from fighters
evidently loyal to deposed president Saddam Hussein. Others questioned
whether the armed opposition to the U.S. presence in Iraq may be deeper and
more organized than military commanders have acknowledged.

"What are we getting into here?" asked a sergeant with the U.S. Army's 4th
Infantry Division who is stationed near Baqubah, a city 30 miles northeast
of Baghdad. "The war is supposed to be over, but every day we hear of
another soldier getting killed. Is it worth it? Saddam isn't in power
anymore. The locals want us to leave. Why are we still here?"

Today, a soldier from the 804th Medical Brigade was killed when a
rocket-propelled grenade struck a military ambulance carrying a soldier
wounded in another incident, said Capt. John Morgan, a military spokesman
here. The attack, about 20 miles south of Baghdad, produced the third U.S.
fatality from hostile fire in four days. Two other soldiers were wounded in
today's ambush.

Most armed assaults on U.S. military personnel have occurred in an arc of
towns and cities to the north and west of Baghdad, where support for Hussein
was deepest. U.S. forces also have mounted a massive counterinsurgency drive
in the region. Areas south of the city, where no such counterattack has been
launched, had been quiet until today.

The weapons used against the Americans also have been increasing in power.
In Samarra, a city about 70 miles north of Baghdad, U.S. troops killed an
Iraqi today and captured another after they fired a rocket-propelled grenade
at a tank. On Wednesday, three mortar shells rained on a U.S.-run civil
administration office in the city, killing an Iraqi bystander, military
spokesmen said.

Some soldiers are vexed by what they see as a contradictory reception from
Iraqis. Sometimes the public appears welcoming, sometimes actively hostile.
The problem recalls other military U.S. deployments, including in
Afghanistan, where it can be difficult to distinguish friends from enemies.

"The way it seemed is, once Iraqis got over being grateful for getting rid
of Saddam, they found out quickly they don't want the Americans, either,"
said Sgt. Nestor Torres, a military policeman with the 3rd Infantry Division
in the restive town of Fallujah, 35 miles west of Baghdad. "Everyone is
blending in with everyone else, so you can't tell the friendly ones from the

Torres is a bodyguard for the division commander, Maj. Gen. Buford C. Blount
III. "When I look around, I've got to wonder who wants to shoot my boss,"
Torres said.

Peacekeeping duty in Iraq has made soldiers particularly vulnerable. Troops
at police stations and on guard duty at banks, electrical installations and
fuel stations are frequent targets of sniping. Soldiers have been fired on
when delivering propane gas. Bystanders throw stones at them when they are
constructing soccer fields or fixing schools.

By contrast, no American has been killed during the recent armed raids in
northern and western Iraq, during which U.S. troops have tried to apprehend
suspected Baath Party militiamen, fighters from Saddam's Fedayeen and other
Hussein loyalists.

Some soldiers complain they are playing roles for which they are
ill-prepared. In Baqubah, the domain of the 4th Infantry's 2nd Brigade,
combat engineers who specialize in weapons demolition and building bridges
have been given a new mission: to drive around in their M113 armored
personnel carriers to fight crime.

"I don't know why they're keeping us around here," said Cpl. Anthony
Arteaga, 25, of Hammond, La., who is assigned to the 588th Engineer
Battalion. "We're not peacekeepers. We're heavy-combat engineers."

As Arteaga's M113 roared out of a parking lot to conduct a patrol, the noise
of the engine drowned out nearby conversations, prompting Pvt. Dan Sullivan,
21, of Gainesville, Fla., to complain that the vehicle was ill-suited for
catching criminals.

"They hear you from two miles away," he said. "By the time we get there, the
bad guys are gone."

Sullivan also said that the armored vehicle was too wide to travel down some
of Baqubah's narrower streets. "This wasn't made for patrolling a city," he

But that is what the battalion has been doing for the past six weeks.
Assigned to squelch the lawlessness that followed the downfall of Hussein's
government and confiscate illegal weapons, the unit's M113s rumble through
the city for hours at a time, even under the blazing afternoon sun. Soldiers
decked out in full combat attire, including heavy flak jackets, poke out of
the hatch, their M-16 rifles at the ready.

When the battalion first arrived in Baqubah in late April, "every single
person was waving at us," said 2nd Lt. Skip Boston, 24, of Marshalltown,
Iowa. Now, he said, "they just stare."

"A man told me the other day that we've been here for two months and
nothing's changed," Boston said. "That's not really true, but all they see
is us riding up and down the roads and being a nuisance for them."

The focus on crime fighting has annoyed Boston and his men, who said they
would rather be blowing up ammunition caches. "It's getting really
frustrating," Sullivan said. "We took the city, but what was it for? We took
one bad guy out, but now there are lots of bad guys here."

After President Bush declared on May 1 that major combat in Iraq was
finished, many soldiers assumed they would be returning to the United States
in a matter of weeks. But withdrawal plans have been placed on hold. Not
only have military units have been reassigned to street patrols, many are
still living in the same spartan camps they pitched two months ago, where
they eat rations and sleep in dusty tents.

The inability to unwind outside their camps or interact with Iraqis in a
non-military setting has added to soldiers' frustration, several said.
Soldiers are prohibited from leaving their compounds without a weapon, body
armor and a specific mission. Although they are encouraged to talk to Iraqis
while on patrol, they have been urged not to eat local food, and alcohol
consumption is prohibited by a general order applying to all military
personnel in Iraq.

At a checkpoint on the outskirts of Baghdad set up to search for illegal
weapons, a soldier sweating in the 110-degree heat told a reporter, "Tell
President Bush to bring us home." On a skylight atop Fallujah's city hall, a
soldier has scrawled in the dust: "I'll kill for a ticket home."

Elements of Blount's 3rd Infantry Division have been away from their home
base at Fort Stewart, Ga., since September, when they were deployed to
Kuwait to prepare for the invasion. After spearheading the race to Baghdad
and the conquest of the capital, many in the division expected to be sent
home. Instead, they were dispatched to Fallujah to put down a budding

"Fatigue could come," Blount, the division commander, said in an interview.
"They are getting tired. But morale is still pretty good."

Others contend spirits already are slipping, particularly among reservists
who did not anticipate staying in Iraq for more than a few months. "It's a
cliche, but winning the war is easy," said Master Sgt. Steven Quick, a
reservist and police officer from Severn, Md. "Winning the peace is
difficult. For future recruitment and retaining of reservists, there has to
be a clear idea of when we can go home in situations like this."

Even relatively simple projects designed to show goodwill can turn sour.
Military engineers recently cleared garbage from a field in Fallujah,
resurfaced it with dirt and put up goal posts to create an instant soccer

A day later, the goal posts were stolen and all the dirt had been scraped
from the field. Garbage began to pile up again. "Is this animosity, crime or
both? What kind of people loot dirt?" said Capt. Allen Vaught, from the
490th Civil Affairs Battalion. "We can't build stuff and then have everyone
just help themselves. We don't get anywhere that way."

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