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[casi] News titles, 27/8-3/9/03

News titles, 27/8-3/9/03

CORRECTION: My last news mailing included the following paragraph:

'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.'

Felicity Arbuthnot has written to point out that it was not the Ayatollah
himself who was on the 'Governing Council' but his brother Abdul Aziz
Al-Hakim, though of course with the Ayatollah very much looming over his
shoulder. Since Felicity's email address still seems to be inaccessible I'll
take this opportunity to salute her and thank her for all the encouragement
and for her own always indispensable and inspiring work.

Insofar as it touches on the most interesting question - the process by
which the Prime Minsiter helped the United States government to work Iraq up
into a major international issue - the Hutton Inquiry has concentrated on
the question: was the September dossier exaggerating the evidence against
the protests of the Intelligence community? The possibility that the dossier
might have been exaggerating the evidence in collaboration with the
Intelligence community does not appear to be under consideration. The
'Intelligence community' is assumed to be a disinterested body uniquely
concerned with a forensic investigation of the truth. This may come as a
surprise to readers of the novels of John Le Carre.

It also seems unlikely that many of these creatures of the shadows would be
likely to come forward to criticise the government. It goes against a
culture of secrecy, discretion, patriotism and anxiety to advance one's
career. Yet, just after this mailing had been wrapped up, this actually
happened, with the testimony of Brian Jones, and his friends, 'A', and
'Blank'. Reading The Independent's account attentively, one might feel the
paper was over-egging a little what they actually said but it was still -
especially for those circles - quite radical. And given that I can't quite
bring myself to think of these people as objective seekers after truth, I
couldn't help wondering why.

It may be that they simply dislike the idea of being associated with such an
utterly discredited document. Given that Mr Blair says he killed all those
people because the intelligence services told him President Hussein had
chemical, biological and nuclear weapons - and given that, it appears,
President Hussein did not have chemical, biological and nuclear weapons -
the first thought that comes to mind is that our intelligence services
cannot be very good. So maybe they are engaged in a delicate process of
distancing themselves from the dossier without losing their reputation for
discretion and loyalty to the government (the one they're serving. Whichever
one it might be).

But if one assumes they are politically serious people and that their
loyalty is to the general pro US Imperialist perspective of the British
establishment, then another possibility begins to appear on the horizon. We
may be preparing a shift away from Mr Blair and towards Mr Duncan Smith.

The Prime Minister has certainly performed miracles in the US Imperialist
interest. And he is certainly vastly more competent than Mr Duncan Smith.
But he is, like it or not, shop soiled, and his party does have - and always
will have - a substantial dissident element connected to a certain tradition
which it cannot shake off. Mr Duncan Smith may inveigh impressively against
'spin' but, so far as the decision to work up an artificial crisis over Iraq
is concerned, he was wholly behind Mr Blair. And his 'spin' argument is
pretty feeble. The person who says 'I was fooled' isn't far from saying 'I'm
a fool'. But from an outright Imperialist point of view, a revived Tory
Party might look  more attractive than New Labour with Old Labour clanking
along after it like an old tin can tied to its foot. It will be interesting
to see which way now the Murdoch press turns. Certainly what does not seem
to be on offer is an anti-Imperialist political tendency that might be able
to assume the government of the country.

News, 27/8-3/9/03 (1)



*  Baghdad Deadlier Than Ever - A Coroner's Viewpoint [While mostly dealing
with the horrifying figures of the present time, the article also says,
figures to hand, that 'Even before the war began, Baghdad was one of the
most dangerous places to live in the world.']
*  Maybe 8,000 US Wounded In Bush's Iraq War - Report US Troops - Wounded,
Weary And Disappeared
*  Militants 'kill Kurd police chief' [in Sulaymaniyah. John Ashcroft,
seeking the head of Mullah Krekar in Oslo, is quoted as saying 'we reject
the idea of terror as a means of shaping public policy'. Could have fooled
*  Former Iraqi soldiers recall chaos, desertions [in the course of the war
with, according to this account, an 'imbecile' leadership. With regard to
the reference in 'U.S. Suspects It Received False Iraq Arms Tips' to buried
aircraft (Death of the Pretext, below), we read: '"The only order I got was
to dismantle my airplanes -- the most idiotic order I ever received," said
Brig. Gen. Baha Ali Nasr, 42, an air force commander who said Iraq's entire
fleet of MiG-23s, MiG-25s and Mirage fighters was taken apart and buried.
Dirt and grime ensured they would never be airworthy, he said.']
*  Four detained over Najaf massacre
*  U.S. forces reportedly arrest Iraqi General [Major General Subhi Kamal
*  Iraqi tribal sheikh arrested over oil blasts [The article reveals that
the conquerors are following President Hussein's example by paying local
tribesmen to ensure the safety of the oil lines. Not very successfully.]
*  Hussein denies role in clericıs death
*  US lays siege to suburb of Mosul after tip-off
*  US troops launch another raid in search of Iraqi fighters, but find none
[Operation Arrow Sky, which netted 'several old, battered Russian-made
rifles, a bag-full of electrical wires and used batteries and a homemade
light switch']
*  Iraqis to get police training in Hungary ['"The New York Times" reported
that this is the same facility in Taszar at which Iraqi volunteers were
trained earlier in the year' (all fourteen of them)]
*  U.S. troops to control part of Polish stabilization zone in Iraq
*  Car bomb explodes outside Baghdad police headquarters wounding bystanders
*  US 'strategy of chaos' is cause for concern [Two extracts from the
Lebanon Daily Star as usually disappointing roundup of the Arab press. One
of them makes the possibly brilliant (though rather obvious from an Iranian
standpoint) suggestion that the people behind Hakim's assassination are the
Mujahideen Khalq]
*  Iraq's Neighbors Work to Control Borders [though as Riverbend says rather
maliciously, referring to a TV interview with A.Chalabi: 'I wish the
reporter had posed the following question: Mr. Chalabi, if the neighboring
countries close their borders, how will you make your stunning, historical
flight in the trunk of a car when it becomes necessary?']


*  Report: U.S suspects Iraqi WMD in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley [I am probably
the only person on the list who has taken an interest in the various
mailings we have received under different imaginative headings from
D.Zeilweger. I've thereby picked up all sorts of interesting tidbits I
hadn't seen elsewhere. As here for example, where we learn that 'U.S.
intelligence first identified a stream of tractor-trailer trucks moving from
Iraq to Syria to Lebanon in January 2003. The significance of this sighting
did not register on the CIA at the time.' A 'stream of tractor-trailer
trucks moving from Iraq to Syria to Lebanon in January 2003' and the
significance of this sighting didn't register with them? I know the neocons
want us to think the CIA are stupid but surely there are limits ...
*  U.S. Suspects It Received False Iraq Arms Tips [Funniest headline of the
week. The article also mentions the most unmentionable: 'the weapons hunters
have yet to find proof that any chemical or bio-warfare agents were produced
after 1991'. The article refers to the burial of a fleet of (so far as I
know perfectly 'legal') Soviet era aircraft as an example of the
extraordinary lengths the Iraqis would go to to hide weapons material. But
see above,  'Former Iraqi soldiers recall chaos, desertions']
*  Article reveals that Kelly thought invasion was only way to end Iraqi
weapons threat [though it also reveals him to have been a rather woolly
headed little bunny: "The US, and whoever willingly assists it, should
ensure that the force, strength and strategy used is appropriate to the
modest threat that Iraq now poses. The long-term threat, however, remains
Iraq's development to military maturity of WMD - something that only regime
change will avert." Were the US supposed to assemble their might twice in
the region - first for a modest response to the modest threat then again
later, to bring about regime change, once the threat had become more

AND, IN NEWS, 27/8-3/9/03 (2)



*  Iraq council set to appoint 25-strong cabinet
*  Clerics Issue Edict Against Iraq Council [The Fatwa Committee of Al-Azhar
University in Cairo] 
*  Sunnis wait for their moment [Asia Times trip round various Sunni
mosques, listening to the sermons]
*  PUK, Turkoman Front reach agreement after unrest in northern Iraq
*  Kurd selected to head Constitutional Preparatory Committee
*  U.S. forces release leader of Islamic Kurdish movement [Shaykh Ali Abd
*  Verbal sparring over Iraqi Governing Council member's past ['Twenty-one
Jordanian representatives are working to put together a formal request to
Interpol to return Chalabi to Jordan, AFP reported on 18 August']
*  'Iranians' in Iraqi government posts warned to leave
*  CPA issues announcement concerning Iraqi travel documents
*  Ayatollah Mohammad Bakr al-Hakim [Obituary from The Independent]
*  Iraqi quits council in security protest [Mohammed Bahr al-Uloum, Shi'ite
cleric. Riverbend tells us he's over 80 years old and an emigre. His son has
just been put in charge of oil - see 'Iraq [sic] appoints former Shiite
exile as oil minister']
*  Iraq appoints former Shiite exile as oil minister
*  News analysis: Shiite leader's death leaves a void in Iraq [Neil
MacFarquhar of the New York Times gives reasons why Hakim's death is a loss
to the US]
*  Iraqi Shias accused of sectarian cleansing [Sunni mosques in Karbala and
Najaf have been taken over]


*  UN Security Council adopts resolution for protection of international
humanitarian workers
*  U.K. ambassador briefs Security Council on coalition efforts in iraq
*  Handmaid in Babylon: Annan, Vieira de Mello and the UN's Decline and Fall
[Alexander Cockburn outlines some of the services the UN Secretary general
and his troubleshooter have rendered recently to 'the world's first power',
reminding us of the Boutros Boutros-Ghali case and of the case of fellow
Brazilian Jose Mauricio Bustani]
*  Erdogan Seeks to Reassure Turks on Troops
*  Terror Suspect Willing to Talk to U.S. [We learn that Krekar in Norway is
fighting a possible deportation to Iraq where this rather impressive and
high spirited figure will, presumably, disappear]
*  US plans to increase UN role in Iraq [Difficult to imagine why countries
should think their troops wuld be less vulnerable to atack under this system
than under straightforward US control]

AND, IN NEWS, 27/8-3/9/03 (3)



*  U.S. to Boost Bechtel's Funding To Rebuild Iraqi Electricity Grid
[Interesting account from the Wall Street Journal of the practical problems
and quite horrendous costs that the US are facing]
*  U.S. Seeking Foreign Investment for Iraq [Proposed legislation to open
the Iraqi economy to foreign penetration: 'American officials say the step
is an important one to ... in effect, democratize the economy']
*  Iraqi assets seized by U.S. nearly depleted
*  US decree strips thousands of their jobs [Consequences of 'Order Number
One' (debaathification)]
*  The Battle for a Cell-Phone Deal


*  Unprepared for Peace in Iraq [Senator Robert Byrd on the need to do
something other than what the US is doing. Though it isn't clear what.
Involving other nations doesn't seem to me in any way sufficient to solve or
even greatly change the nature of the problem. It merely reduces the
pressure on the US without improving things for the Iraqis]
*  Bremer: Stakes 'Extremely High' in Iraq [Interview with Paul Bremer. Oil
will be back to pre-war levels 'by October of next year', perhaps.
Opposition is marginal - Saddam dead-ends and a few foreign terrorists.
David Kay will certainly come up with the wmds. So that's all right.]
*  Perle Cites Errors in Iraq, Urges Power Transfer [The title doesn't make
it sufficiently clear that the 'error' was a failure to work sufficiently
closely with A.Chalabi and that he is the 'Iraqi' to whom power should be
*  U.S. State Department lists troop commitment to Iraq
*  White House Likens Iraq to Postwar Germany to Retain Support [Prospects
for a Marshall Plan (not bright. And note that Condoleezza Rice talks about
'a generational commitment to helping the people of the Middle East
transform their region', not specifically a commitment to the people of
Iraq. Which suggests there's lots more to come).]
*  Condi's Phony History Sorry, Dr. Rice, postwar Germany was nothing like
Iraq. [Useful debunking of the post WWII/post Iraq war analogy that has
become a commonplace of US administration discourse. The article doesn't
mention another difference - that the allied forces in Germany and Japan
were not pretending to be liberators. It was clearly understood that the
Germans and Japanese were to be punished, humiliated and remoulded. So the
allies were able to impose a reign of terror of the sort so successfully
applied by President Hussein in 1991 and currently being advocated by Mr
Chalabi. In the case of Germany this was envisaged to be a long term
process. Reconstruction was only speeded up because of the need for a
bulwark against Soviet power.]
*  US attacked over green card soldiers [George Galloway, interviewed by
Aljazeera, explains that the US army is largely drawn from the underclass
(which may mean that they will, after all, be able to sustain high
casualties without impossible domestic repercussions)]
*  Pentagon May Have to Reduce U.S. Forces in Iraq -CBO [Congressional
Budget Office gets worried]

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