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[casi] News titles, 3-10/9/03

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)



*  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
*  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)



*  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
*  U.S. Soldier Killed in Iraq Attack [Wednesday 10th September, North of
*  Three U.S. Soldiers Wounded by Land Mine [Fallujah, Tuesday, 9th
September and mortar attack, Monday, 8th September, at Balad]



*  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]


*  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)


*  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)


*  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 [ 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


*  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
*  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]


*  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.]

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