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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] _______________________________________________ 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