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News titles, 3-10/9/03 Perhaps the most astonishing item in what follows comes at the very end, the CNN interview with Hans Blix, when he says: "With this long period, I'm inclined to think that the Iraqi statement that they destroyed all the biological and chemical weapons, which they had in the summer of 1991 may well be the truth." No one knows more about Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear programmes than Hans Blix. In particular, no one has studied more intensely than he the material accumulated by UNSCOM. He had 3-4 years in which he had very little else to do with his time other than study this material. UNSCOM, readers will remember, spent seven years 'pissing on the walls' (I think that was an expression of Scott Ritter in gung-ho mode) - seven years in which they found NO evidence whatsoever that Iraq possessed any chemical, biological or nuclear weapons facility whatsoever. But they still refused to give Iraq a clean bill of health, on the grounds that they might have some stuff stashed away. Somewhere. And this was the pretext not just for the war but for the whole sanctions regime, the deaths of many thousands of people, most of them children. And not just any old death. A painful, lingering death, not preceded by anything very much in the way of a life, and accompanied by hunger and the constant humiliation of diarrhoea. And one of the people most active in keeping alive the suspicion that they might just have something was David Kelly. Talking to the press was, we now know, part of Dr Kelly's job and it is surely safe to assume that he was lending his authority as an expert to the idea that there really was something to the government case. Unless we assume that there were lots of people detailed to speak to the press on this particular subject, it is difficult to imagine why David Kelly was not already under suspicion of being Andrew Gilligan's source. Presumably because what was said was so off message and Dr Kelly was a real on-message sort of guy. Which may help to explain something else. The great danger of outing Dr Kelly was, surely, that, once out, he would continue to play off message. The worm would turn. He would do a Scott Ritter. Or a Richard Butler (in case anyone is wondering what has happened to Richard Butler, he has recently been appointed Vice-President of Tasmania - a post in which, by a convention he has said he will respect, he is not supposed to comment on political affairs. So his little foray into dissidence has had the desired effect. Everyone has ended up getting what they want.) The MoD would hardly have pushed him into the limelight unless they were pretty sure he would behave. But, just to make sure, he was given a severe talking-to and threatened with the withdrawal of his pension rights. Enough to explain his total state of disarray when he appeared before the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee. How he must have hated Andrew MacKinlay. Because at that moment he must have felt that he really was 'chaff', though not quite for the reason MacKinlay was suggesting. On top of all that we can imagine the increasing suspicion that his own hunch about Iraq's weapons might have been wrong. Because that is all he had - a hunch. Of no more value than the hunch of you or me or anyone else. His real knowledge and expertise had come up with nothing except information to do with the situation prior to 1991. All his knowledge went into the UNSCOM reports and into the material that lay behind them. And the man who knows this material best has just confirmed that there was nothing there inconsistent with the supposition that everything had been destroyed, just like the Iraqis said it was. I tried to track down Hans Blix's interview for CNN but didn't succeed. I wanted to know if the interviewer had had the intelligence (unlikely) to ask him when he thought the Iraqis had destroyed their pre-1991 stocks. In 1995? In 1998? In 2002? Or in 1991? The question is clearly crucial and the answer should eventually be known since among the scientists who are being kidnapped and interrogated, someone must know and really has no reason not to tell. But if Blix, on the basis of his knowledge of the UNSCOM material, were to say he thought probably 1991, the scandal would be enormous, implicating everyone, and most notably the Democrats in the US and Robin Cook in Britain. Cook as Foreign Secretary in any case presided over the lies on which the war in Kosovo was based - lies if anything more flagrant than the lies used to launch the war on Iraq. But he also presided over sanctions and Desert Fox, all justified by the little hunches of Dr Kelly and his friends. Now Robin Cook is applying himself very seriously and very effectively to pushing a rapier into the side of the government. He is stressing the question that needs to be stressed - not did the government distort the 'intelligence', but why was the intelligence so bad? What do we do? Do we undermine his efforts by reminding him of his own past? Or do we just sit back, relax and enjoy the spectacle? Happy are those who have very little influence in the world. We can afford to do both. News, 3-10/9/03 (1) IN IRAQ (a) POLITICS * Ayatollah's killing: Winners and losers [Pepe Escobar's description of Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim as 'kind of a pacifist' and 'a moderate' leaves one wondering if its worth bothering with him any more. I also doubt his contention, attractive as it is, that President Hussein is a mastermind who had the whole postwar scenario figured out and is running the show from behind the scenes ...] * The View From Iraq [by Ahmad Chalabi: 'The Iraqi people are overwhelmingly grateful to President Bush and the American people for helping us liberate Iraq. We have great respect for ambassador L. Paul Bremer for his courageous and wise decision to outlaw Hussein's hated Baath Party, army and security services.' But now they should hand over to'Iraqis' like himself who will get much more pleasure out of kicking Iraqi ass than the Americans ever will.] * Iraq minister rejects possible Turk troop presence [Foreign Affairs Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd] * Sunni Islamists of Iraq: their background, principles [An interesting account of the intellectual background to the Muslim Brotherhood presence in Iraq] * Iraqi Governing Council appoints cabinet [This is just included for the sake of the detail that the Council was sworn in by Ibrahim al-Ja'fari, Jalal Talabani, and Ahmad Chalabi.] * Al-Kubaysi interviewed on U.S. occupation, Al-Sadr [Leading Sunni cleric Ahmad al Kubaysi] * Who killed Muhammad Baqir Al-Hakim? [Extract giving the in my view ludicrous thesis that Hakim was killed by the Iranians] * Iraqis threaten to go it alone [An amusing little item. Mohammed Bahr al-Ulloum - aged Shi'i cleric in exile who resigned from the 'Governing Council' once his son got the job of Iraqi face for the oil industry, and who himself was given the unenviable job of announcing to the Iraqi people that henceforth April 9th was to be the national holiday - 'says that he may set up militias around Iraq to address deteriorating security'. Meanwhile the Constitutional Monarchy Movement (CMM), led by Sherif Ali bin Hussein, ex close associate of Ahmad Chalabi, is going to organise a conference to 'contest Washington's postwar approach in Iraq.'] * Bayan Jaber leaves Damascus shortly for Baghdad [A further indication of the intriguing relations between the Iraqi Turkomen and Shia in the person of 'Governing Council' member Bayan Baqer Soulagh Jaber al-Zubeidi who 'is of Turkman origin in addition to his being a former representative of the "higher council of the Islamic revolution" in Syria and Lebanon.' He also signed the pre-war appeal to President Hussein organised by Adnan Pachachi. He looks interesting] * US, Iraqi militias headed for showdown * The war of fatwas [Argument from Al Ahram in favour of supporting the 'Governing Council'] * The Twin Towers and the Tower of Babel, Part 1: Sleeping with the enemy [Pepe Escobar (in this respect rather like the US neo-conservatives) has, I believe, a grossly exaggerated idea of the capabilities of Al Qaida. Al Qaida have done nothing impressive since the attack on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, if 'they' can be said to have done that. The war in Afghanistan has been sustained by the vastly more interesting and impressive Taliban. 'Al Qaida' was, as the name suggests, a 'base', a place where Muslims wanting to fight the battles of Islam went to learn the art of war. Rather like a Muslim Sandhurst. This means that many jihadis had some sort of contact with Al Qaida. It doesn't mean that Al Qaida was running them. I myself have seen no real evidence that Al Qaida played much of a role in the attacks in New York and Washington, though Osama bin Laden may have known about them in advance. All the bombs that have since been attributed to Al Qaida were fairly obviously the work of local groups - and rather sordid most of them have been, hardly an improvement on the sort of thing that was commonplace in Algeria and Egypt throughout the 1990s. As for John Gray and Al Qaida's 'modernism', he is quoted as saying "Like Marxists and neo-liberals, radical Islamists see history as a prelude to a new world. All are convinced they can remake the human condition. If there is a uniquely modern myth, this is it." But that is exactly what Christians believed was happening when they took over the Roman Empire, or Muslims as they swept like wildfire through the Middle East and Southern Mediterranean. The Millennium is not a new idea.] AND, IN NEWS, 3-10/9/03 (2) IN IRAQ (b) SECURITY * US, Israel stood to gain from Najaf bomb-Hizbollah [The pro-Israeli elements have suggested that it might have been Iran. Or Hezbollah.] * Ba'athist elements threaten airlines using Al-Basrah airport * Daily count at Baghdad morgue gives insight into violence * Leader of Ubayd tribe arrested for pipeline attacks [More detail than in last week's account on the system of using tribes to protect pipelines] * Tribal chiefs sanction the killing of violent criminals * Kirkuk governor comments on press reports on clashes [and the Turkoman representative to the Kirkuk Civil Administration Council, Irfan Jamal says the Turkomen are greatly cherished by the Kurds] * Iraq police station hit by rockets [in Ramadi] * Sunnis shot at while praying in Baghdad * Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq... let's talk war, politics and occupation [Just a sample from the riverbend blog] * Saboteurs Hit Critical Oil Line in Iraq [Monday, 8th September] * One dead, 53 wounded in Arbil blast: US military [Tuesday, 9th September.] * U.S. Soldier Killed in Iraq Attack [Wednesday 10th September, North of Baghdad] * Three U.S. Soldiers Wounded by Land Mine [Fallujah, Tuesday, 9th September and mortar attack, Monday, 8th September, at Balad] IN IRAQ (c) INFRASTRUCTURE * Transcript of Interview with Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum [The Iraqis must feel that the oil is theirs. It should be privatised but that is a decision that can only be made by a democratically elected Iraqi government. 'Priority should be given to American companies.' Bad Baathists must be weeded out. The people have to be educated out of nationalism] * Turkey to supply electricity to Iraq * Frozen Iraqi assets in Jordan may go to Jordanian businessmen ['as a way of paying 'money owed to them by the Hussein regime' by which is meant contracts made by President Hussein's regime which the usurpers have refused to fulfil, preferring to keep the business to themselves] * Kuwaiti National Bank part of consortium to run Trade Bank * Live from Iraq, it's the real story [The San Francisco Chronicle discovers Riverbend and recounts the story of the bridge that could have been rebuilt by Iraqis for $300,000 but is instead being rebuilt by US contractors for $50m] THE WORLD AT LARGE * Norwegian aid workers pulled out of Iraq [We learn that 'also in Arbil the security situation has now deteriorated'. Arbil was the capital of the KDP, where everything ought to be hunky dory, so what does that mean? (written before the bomb in Arbil in 'Security' above)] * Poles bring relief as US tries to shed burden * Fresh row over UN role in Iraq * Denmark compensates families of Iraqis killed in incident * Iraq Will Not Attend OIC Summit in Malaysia [Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said Sunday ... "There'll be no representative from Iraq attending the summit because the country is still under occupation."] * Iraq's oil export to Asia rises [SOMO, it appears, is still in existence] * UK to send 1,000 more troops to Iraq AND, IN NEWS, 3-10/9/03 (3) US POLICY * Put the Iraqis in Charge - Why Iraq is proving much tougher than Afghanistan [by Bernard Lewis. Actually Iraq isn't proving tougher than Afghanistan (unless restoring Afghanistan into the hands of the warlords was the intention. Which, of course, it might have been). Its just that there are journalists in Iraq, so the failure is visible. Lewis however thinks that the solution is easy, since Iraq has its own Hamid Karzai, in the form of A.Chalabi. The fact that Mr Chalabi is the most unpopular man in Iraq is neither here nor there for this believer in democracy and freedom. The problem however has been badly framed. The real problem is how to get rid of the journalists. Perhaps this problem will be solved by the 'Saddam dead-ends' who are making Iraq such a disagreeable place for westerners of any description.] * Halliburton's Deals Greater Than Thought [Important, detailed account: 'Brown and Root's revenue from Operation Iraqi Freedom is already rivaling its earnings from its contracts in the Balkans' So perhaps Iraq isn't such a failure after all] * Latest Iraq threat: cash crunch * U.S. rushed post-Saddam planning [The enthusiastically pro-war Washington Times, for reasons best known to itself, reveals the existence of a secret report, "Operation Iraqi Freedom Strategic Lessons Learned" which 'shows that President Bush approved the overall war strategy for Iraq in August last year. That was eight months before the first bomb was dropped and six months before he asked the U.N. Security Council for a war mandate that he never received.' It also seems to me to complain that a mission to plant weapons mass destruction was bungled. At least that's the only sense I can make of the following (note the word 'exploitation'): "Weapons of mass destruction (WMD) elimination and exploitation planning efforts did not occur early enough in the process to allow CentCom to effectively execute the mission. The extent of the planning required was underestimated. Insufficient U.S. government assets existed to accomplish the mission."] * In north Iraq, a general with a civil touch [David Petraeus and the 101st Division, presented as the US army's success story in and around Mosul] * The sick smell of panic [The New York Post, satisfyingly upset at the appeal made to the UN. A detail: when I got it off the NY Post website there was a link encouraging me to find further material on Iraq that brought me to ZNet ...] * U.S. President expands executive order on property confiscation [Now that the pickings from the first wave of theft are running out] * Rumsfeld, on Iraq Tour, Cites 'Remarkable Progress' [Includes this: 'Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the top American military commander in Iraq, said tonight that the roadside bomb attacks were becoming "increasingly sophisticated" and appeared almost certainly to be the work of foreign fighters, possibly including members of the terrorist group Hezbollah, who brought their bomb-making expertise to Iraq from Syria, Lebanon and other countries.' This is becoming an oft repeated theme and may be an indication of what is next on the agenda. Hezbollah, after all, won an Arab victory which obviously cannot be allowed to stand. And taking out Hezbollah would be largely a matter of letting the Israelis off the leash. It wouldn't require much if any of US resources] * Bush Seeks $87 Billion and U.N. Aid for War Effort [' the President said that $66 billion of the $87 billion would be for military and intelligence operations over the next year in Iraq and Afghanistan "and elsewhere," and that the rest would be for reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, including restoring basic services like water and electricity.'] * Dems Demand Details of Iraq Operations AND, IN NEWS, 3-10/9/03 (4) FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS * Saudi Crackdown Encourages Iraq Jihad, Clerics Say [Interesting thesis that, given the US inspired state terrorist campaign in Saudi Arabia 'Most youth think the only safe road is to go to Iraq.'] * An Unlikely Alliance [Stratfor.com envisages a Washington/Tehran alliance which would allow the Shi'ites (and therefore Iran) to dominate Iraq. A daring thesis, perhaps a little too clever for the present guardians of US foreign policy. But it makes pleasant reading by comparison with most of what I have to inflict on the world because it treats the parties - in particular the Iranians - as reasoning human beings with legitimate interests of their own. And it makes the point, well worth making, that there has been a principle of organisation in Iraq, specially among the Shi'ites, that has really been very impressive (and belies the idea that after thirty years of dictatorship the Iraqis are incapable of organising themselves. On the contrary thirty years of dictatorship have given them quite a lot of useful experience in organising themselves and this is creating a headache for the invaders). It also states as an interesting fact that deserves to be better known that the Mullahs have seen off the Iranian student revolt; and claims that they deliberately let the IAEA see weapons grade uranium because they are using the issue as a bargaining counter. The weak point of the argument seems to me to be the assumption that the Iraqi Shi'ites are tributary to Iran. The article seems to have some quite absurd misprints I have tried to indicate.] * Angry Turkey Wants Clarification on Troop Deployment [after Hoshyar Zebari, the Kurdish-Iraqi 'foreign minister' said he didn't want them] * Jordan backs interim participation in Arab meeting, denies formal recognition ['Zebari would be allowed to attend open sessions and not closed-door meetings'] * Main points of the Arab League resolution on Iraq [Astonishingly weak Arab League resolution which is all to do with punishing members of the Iraqi government and not at all to do with punishing the usurpers] * Arabs Allow Iraq Council Delegate to Attend Talks [with, it seems, no reservations] LIVING HISTORY * Wife of Tariq Aziz says husband was loyal to country, not Hussein [Tariq Aziz appears to have been to President Hussein what Colin Powell is to President Bush] * Kuwait identifies six more POWs * British army officer cleared of abuse charges [Tim Collins] * Spies who are coming out from the cold [Account of Iraqi foreign intelligence service, especially the branch dealing with Iran, portrayed as the only part of it that was any good] * Who's Counting the Dead in Iraq? [I point out, not for the first time, that under Article 17 of the 1949 First Geneva Convention the US and British armies are required to 'ensure that the dead are honourably interred, if possible according to the rites of the religion to which they belonged, that their graves are respected, grouped if possible according to the nationality of the deceased, properly maintained and marked so that they may always be found.' It goes on 'For this purpose, they shall organize at the commencement of hostilities an Official Graves Registration Service, to allow subsequent exhumations and to ensure the identification of bodies, whatever the site of the graves, and the possible transportation to the home country.'] * Mosul Residents Talk of Supposed Betrayer [More on the murder of President Hussein's sons in Mosul] * 'I became the profane pervert Arab blogger' [Account of blogging activities of 'Salam Pax' in the last days of President Hussein's regime] BURIAL OF THE PRETEXT * The whistleblower [Evidence to Hutton Inquiry by top analyst in the defence intelligence staff, Brian Jones: "In particular ... on the advice of my staff, I was told that there was no evidence that significant production had taken place either of chemical warfare agent or chemical weapons."] * UNMOVIC head says U.S., U.K. wmd claims unfounded [The acting head of the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), Demetrius Perricos: "It is now approximately nine months that inspections have been carried out and nothing has been found."] * Blix says Iraq's weapons declaration may have been true ['"With this long period, I'm inclined to think that the Iraqi statement that they destroyed all the biological and chemical weapons, which they had in the summer of 1991 may well be the truth," Blix told CNN television.' Cool as ever.] _______________________________________________ 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 firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk