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[casi] News titles, 20-27/8/03



News titles, 20-27/8/03

At the moment of sending out this mailing the news has come in of the Najaf
bombing. This is a huge event whose implications are quite unknowable. It is
difficult to imagine who could have done it. My own best effort at a guess
is Sunni Islamists, possibly from Pakistan, where such Shi'i/Sunni outrages
are commonplace. A clue may, or may not, however, be given by the following,
from:

http://www.arabtimesonline.com/arabtimes/world/Viewdet.asp?ID=988&cat=b:

'NEW IRAQ TAPE THREATENS DEATH TO COUNCIL; Occupation toll tops US war dead
'DUBAI, (Agencies): An Arabic television station aired a videotaped warning
from previously unheard-of Islamic groups in Iraq Tuesday threatening death
to members of a US formed council and Iraqis who cooperate with US troops.
"They formed this council to hurt the resistance (to occupation) and Iraqis.
More than nine of its members do not have Iraqi nationality. Death to the
spies and traitors, before the Americans," a masked man said on the tape,
broadcast on Dubai-based Al Arabiya TV.
"Unfortunately, many Iraqis have got involved with them. We'll kill them
first before we kill the Americans," he said, speaking in the name of three
Iraqi groups: Islamic Jihad, Muslim Youth and the Iraqi Liberation
Organization. The US administration in Iraq appointed an interim Governing
Council after a US-led war ousted former President Saddam Hussein in April.
The 25-member council began its work in July. The man, standing surrounded
by Kalashnikovs and rocket launchers, said the UN headquarters in Baghdad
were bombed last week because of the world body's cooperation with
Washington.'

In which case the murdered Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim would have been
targeted not so much because he was Shi'i, but because he was on the 'Iraq
Governing Council'. And all the other members must be presumed to be targets
too, one after the other.

The 'Iraq Governing Council' is an absurd body mainly because of its name
and pretentions to being what it calls itself. We are told that Paul Bremer
originally wanted only an advisory council. An advisory council would have
been a useful thing, assuming it had the courage to give advice that would
be unwelcome. It could have become a vehicle for the discontents of the
population and kept itself untainted by the crimes of the occupying powers.
It could, for example, have spoken up for the Iraqi scientists who are in
such a vulnerable situation at the present time, as reported by Nermeen
al-Mufti (in 'Forces of Civil Society' below). It could have done many
useful things already instead of the present undignified squabbling over who
gets what meaningless portfolio. As a 'governing council' however it is
necessarily deeply implicated in the actions of the government. On that
basis it has no possibility of ever gaining any sort of credibility.

We are told it was Sergio Viera di Mello who insisted on beefing a useful
advisory council up into a useless governing council. If so it doesn't augur
well for the competence of the UN as an alternative to the US. His motive
was presumably to create an appearance of an advance towards Iraqi autonomy
but this was merely theatre, and poor quality theatre that could never fool
anyone. For the moment it seems best that the US should exercise a monopoly
of power and that Iraqi politics should take shape in opposition to it.
Though alas the situation is complicated by the Kurds, always too eager to
collaborate with the enemies of the rest of the country (Iranians in the
1980s, US and Britain today).

In the Governing Council there is one figure who may command some respect
and that is Adnan Pachachi. He was very close to the government of the
United Arab Emirates at the time when the Emirates were taking the lead in
the regional opposition to sanctions. He has said that a policy of
non-co-operation with the Americans would be fine but that after thirty
years of war and sanctions, the Iraqi people are just too tired. That indeed
is the only basis on which a policy of collaboration could be justified. His
entry in the Iraq Governing Council website at
http://www.irqparliament.com/GoverningCouncil/GoverningCouncil English.htm
gives a link to http://www.iraqgroup.net/. Though consisting mainly of
material culled from elsewhere, it gives an interesting variety of opinions
- it has just introduced me to the intriguing (well, actually, its
wonderful) Baghdad Burning blog at http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/.

What a job there is to be done! What a dangerous but magnificent opportunity
for Iraqis who have life in them and love their country to develop a
national unity in opposition - to halt the apparently ineluctable descent
into anarchy and hell, despite the malign influence of the occupying power.


News, 20-27/8/03 (1)

AFTER THE UN BOMBING

*  To Many Arabs, the U.S. and U.N. Are One Entity
*  Expand the UN role in Iraq [Juan Cole refers to the UN as 'the most
popular foreign political institution' - which might be right but doesn't
say much for all the others. Had I not once been a Baha'i myself, I would
have been tempted to say: 'once a Baha'i, always a Baha'i']
*  U.N. Chief Says New Force in Iraq Can Be Led by U.S. [But not many key UN
members seem to agree with him]
*  Former UN chief: bomb was payback for collusion with US [Comments by
Denis Halliday]
*  Ansar denies role in UN HQ bombing [Not Ansar but Mullah Krekar who seems
to be wonderfully unintimidated - 'When asked if any other country should
fear an attack, Krekar fired a warning shot at British Prime Minister Tony
Blair, who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States throughout the
Iraq war. "In Europe no-one apart from Britain... In Europe the true
spokesman of Bush, in fact probably harsher than him, is Blair."']
*  Al Qaeda says it bombed UN in Baghdad  website
*  Red Cross cuts staff as clashes spread
*  Beware the bluewash [Excellent article by George Monbiot explaining why
it would be criminal folly for the UN to move into Iraq to mop up after
George Bush and allow him to turn his attention to other matters]
*  New UN resolution on Iraq jeopardised by fierce resistance  US officials

DOWN MEMORY LANE

*  Living proof as Chemical Ali is captured
*  U.S. Recruiting Hussein's Spies Occupation Forces Hope Covert Campaign
Will Help Identify Resistance [I find it difficult to get as shocked by this
as I know I'm supposed to be. It only shows that the US haven't gone
completely mad and don't really believe their own moralising, pontificating
propaganda about absolute evil ... I almost find that a little reassuring.
Bad guys being easier to deal with than mad guys]
*  'Remains found in Iraq belong to three Kuwaitis' ['The latest
announcement brings the number of identified Gulf War missing to 17 from 605
Kuwaitis and other nationals missing for more than a decade.' The article
states that 'Iraqi officials refused to cooperate with Kuwaiti and
international efforts to find the missing.' But its worth keeping in mind
that the Iraqis always said they would be willing to co-operate with any
inter-Arab effort in this direction. They objected - and who can blame them?
- to the involvement of the US and the UK on which - why? - the Kuwaitis
insisted]    

INTERNATIONAL OPINION

*  Japan may delay troop dispatch to Iraq [Japanese worrying about the
prospect of their young men dying for the USA]    
*  When is Enough Enough? [Newsweek opinion poll finds support for Mr Bush
is slipping]
*  U.S. checking possibility of pumping oil from northern Iraq to Haifa, via
Jordan [Ariel Sharon, initiator of the matter, 'views the pipeline to Haifa
as a "bonus" the U.S. could give to Israel in return for its unequivocal
support for the American-led campaign in Iraq'. I believe the word for this
sort of thing is 'chutzpah'.]
*  Rumsfeld says no more troops needed now in Iraq
*  Iraq attack critics start to get heard [Extract giving a short account of
recent books on media coverage of the war]
*  Turkey signals troop decision to Iraq unlikely before October [More
masterful inactivity from Recep Tayyip Erdogan]    


AND, IN NEWS, 20-27/8/03 (2)

MURDER AND MAYHEM

*  Reuters Cameraman Killed For Filming U.S. Graves, Brother Says
[Unpleasant but not totally unbelieveable speculation about the shooting of
Reuters cameraman Mazen Dana]
*  Reuters cameraman, killed in Iraq, buried in Hebron [More on Mazen Dana,
including the detail that he was a 'a physically towering (and therefore
presumably fairly easily recogniseable) figure']     
*  Iraq was not a terrorist threat, but America has turned it into one
[Surely the suggestion that 'Hezbollah has greatly stepped up its activities
not only in Shiite regions but also in Baghdad' is malicious and designed
simply to give Israel cover for its next, I think almost inevitable,
invasion of Lebanon. Is Hezbollah present in Iraq or has it designated the
US as a target? Why would it have to enter Iraq when its soul mate, SCIRI is
already present, as a US ally and member of the 'Governing Council' (in
fact, it occurs to me that if SCIRI was worth anything it could use the US
desire to keep it sweet as a bargaining counter against Israeli influence)]
*  US serviceman killed in Iraq [Thursday, 21st August, Hilla, with other
incidents]
*  British police to begin working alongside Iraqi officers by year-end
['"It's no worse (in southern Iraq) than the situation I have in my patch in
Northern Ireland," said White, who has spent most of his career as a police
officer in the British province. White's beat there covered the South Armagh
area.' Note that this is a policeman speaking. In Northern Ireland the
British army hid behind heavy fortifications and pushed out local elements,
mainly the police, to do the dirty work, get killed, get a bad name
throughout the world and exacerbate the Protestant/Catholic division. Ahmad
Chalabi and Jalal Talabani have proposed something along these lines for
Iraq but so far they haven't been able to reduce it to practise]    
*  Who Are The Extremists? [Useful summary of the overall situation from
John Pilger]
*  3 British Troops Killed in Iraq Attack [In Basra, Saturday 23rd August]
*  'Over 400 Iraqi women kidnapped, raped in postwar chaos'
*  U.S. Troops Arrest Gang Members in Iraq [Lateef Hamed al Kubaishat's gang
in Khalis, 42 miles north of Baghdad (here the operation is called
"Operation Jimmy Hoffa" but this seems to be a subdivision of "Operation Ivy
Needle". Names of US operations seem to come from the same team that gave us
the Ministry of Funny Walks)]

DEGRADATION OF THE PRETEXT

*  UK officials wanted to gag expert on Iraq dossier [Bits and pieces on the
government's anxiety that the Foreign Affairs Committee not ask Dr Kelly
what we all want to know, namely, what were his views on the 45 minute
claim]    
*  Kelly's chilling words: 'I'll be found dead in the woods' [Guardian
account of this interesting episode. A detail I'm not clear about. Was he
advising his Iraqi friends to admit that they had no wmds, thereby risking
attack because they had shown they could not defend themselves; or to admit
that they had wmds, thereby risking attack because they had shown they were
in breach of the UN resolutions? Is it possible that David Kelly knew there
were no wmds and that this would be revealed in the aftermath of the war and
with it the fact that his whole career for twelve important years of his
life had been based on a lie? A rather good motive for suicide I would have
thought. Better than anything anyone else has come up with ...]
*  Australian case for Iraq war was 'fabricated' [The Australian
whistleblower, Andrew Wilkie, is of a different, rather superior, breed from
our own homegrown variety. And surely this is worth a headline or two: 'The
inquiry also heard evidence from the former UN chief weapons inspector
Richard Butler, who cast doubt on Australia's claim that Iraq could have
supplied terrorists with chemical or biological weapons.' Though perhaps the
decision makers have decided that Richard Butler was, after all, a bit of a
Walter Mitty character]
*  How weak '45 minutes' claim became rock-solid case for war [Glen Rangwala
et al have taken the trouble to wade through the pudding to get at the plum
- pretty incontrovertible evidence that Alastair Campbell, albeit with a
little help from his friend Mister Scarlet, sexed up the Iraq dossier with
the 45 minute claim]
*  Experts Doubt U.S. Claim on Iraqi Drones [Another absurdity bites the
dust. The word 'doubt' seems a little mild for it. This seems to me more
important than anything the Hutton Inquiry is likely to produce]
*  A Weapons Cache We'll Never See [Extraordinary story from S.Ritter
suggesting that all the Iraqi documentation on wmds assembled for UNSCOM and
UNMOVIC was looted and destroyed apparently with the connivance of the
invaders. He points out that so far nothing in the famous 12,500 page full
and final declaration submitted by the Iraqis to snorts of contempt from
Messrs Bush and Blair, has been shown to be wrong]


AND, IN NEWS, 20-27/8/03 (3)

FORCES OF CIVIL SOCIETY

*  Iraq and the one-eyed liar [Apparently intelligent account of Sheikh
Mohammed al-Yaqubi and his new Shi'i political movement, the Fudala]
*  Iraq's insurgents: types, characteristics, ideologies [Ahmed S. Hashim,
professor at the Center for Naval Warfare Studies in the United States,
gives a rundown of organisations that may be involved in the Iraqi
resistance. He only gives Arab Sunni organisations (ie not Ansar el-Islam)]
*  The plot thickens [Pepe Escobar hints that the Pentagon allowed the
attack on the UN in order to scupper the pressure for a bigger UN role, then
explains why Islamism is looking so very attractive in Iraq at the present
time. He mentions what seems a rather important detail, though I haven't
seen it elsewhere, that 'the Baghdad office of the World Bank was also in
the UN building . Many Iraqi patriots in fact welcomed the fact that the
World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) "suspended" their
activities in Iraq after the bombing.']
*  3 British Troops Killed in Iraq Attack [Extract giving account of
confrontation between Turkomen and Kurds in Tuz Kharmato, 110 miles north of
Baghdad where 'U.S. soldiers killed two Turkomen tribesmen and wounded two
others'. I'm intrigued by the reference to 'statues of two Turkomen heroes'
in the town]
*  Anah, Iraqi Town With No Occupation Forces [because, says the article,
they were prevented from entering. And everything's been hunky dory ever
since]
*  Between a rock and a hard place [Nermeen Al-Mufti on the parlous
situation of scientists in the new Iraq]
*  Bomb Hits Home of Key Iraqi Shiite Cleric [SCIRI's Mohammed Saeed
al-Hakim]
*  Violence and calm: dual realities in Iraq [Account of Diwaniya where
everyone likes the Americans despite the near collapse of the ward for
premature babies at the children's and maternity hospital owing to a lack of
electricity and bottled oxygen]


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