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News titles, 10-17/9/03 I apologise for this introduction. It is long, self indulgent and incoherent, and if I were made of sterner stuff I wouldn't send it. But I think that under the present circumstances, in which everything seems to be reduced to its elements, it may be useful to try to exchange thoughts at this high level of generalisation. If only in the hope that someone might help me break out of the sort of inextricable logical knot in which I seem to be entangling myself. So here goes: The main stream of British political theory follows two lines of thought - the one based on the contention of Thomas Hobbes that government is established by an act of violence but that nonetheless, any government, even a tyranny, is better than no government; the other, based on John Locke, that men reduced to a 'state of nature', in the absence of government, will voluntarily agree among themselves to make the sacrifices necessary to forming a self governing society. I am inclined to Hobbes' view but Locke has undoubtedly had the greater influence, and this may help to explain why the British (and the Americans, who have also - in their public ideology at least - adopted Locke) have been willing so breezily to break up other peoples' systems of government - most notably in the dismantling of the Austro Hungarian and Ottoman Empires at the end of the First World War. This huge revolution in world affairs could be said to have been at the root of many of the horrors of the twentieth century which have continued into the twenty first, with the wars on Jugoslavia (undoing what was supposed to be one of the main gains of the First World War) and on Iraq. Eastern Europe and the Middle East, reduced by British and American interference to a 'state of nature' still have not arrived at a stable and reasonably secure mode of government. One of the great problems of establishing such a system of government is 'legitimacy'. What is it that makes us feel such and such a government is 'our' government and therefore ought to be obeyed, or at least endured, even if we don't agree with it? The answer is very much in the realm of myth - by which I don't mean something that is untrue but something that is a mental construction, an opinion or an article of faith. These have a truth of their own. It might be the myth of a common racial or national character (a myth which becomes the foundation stone of political society once we accept the principle of 'the right of nations to self determination'); the myth that authority derives from God (Holy Roman Empire; Caliphate); the myth that it derives from the people (democracy. Which is every bit as fanciful as the others. Its fantastic nature is well summarised in the opening sentences of On the Sovereignty of the People by the great theorist of the Counter-Revolution, Joseph de Maistre: 'The people is sovereign. Over whom is the people sovereign? Over the people. So the people is subject'). Iraq is a country that is very rich in well-established forms of self-organisation based on widespread religious or family connections. The Iraqis are much more capable and advanced in these respects than we are. Such extra-national loyalties worked well in the context of a religiously based Empire, grouping many different and interesting kinds of people, but they have not easily reconciled themselves to the straitjacket of the nation-state, which is the only form of political organisation the powers dominating the world after the First World War (collapse of the Austrian and Ottoman Empires) and Second World War (collapse of the British and French Empires) recognise. Instead of coming together to agree a social contract, as Locke's theory would suggest they ought to do, they have tended to jostle each other until one imposes its domination by force, in accordance with the theory of Hobbes. Which is what happened in Iraq. With Saddam Hussein. Just as it happened in England after the Wars of the Roses. With Henry Tudor. We should in this context remember that, certainly from the reign of Henry VIII and the Reformation until the middle of the eighteenth century, Europe was full of refugees from all parts of the British Isles all feeling much the same way about their native land as Yasser Alaskary and his friends felt about Iraq under Saddam Hussein. And Hussein's brutality towards the Kurds had nothing over the brutality to which the Scots and Irish were subjected - except of course for the progress in technology on which we all like to pride ourselves in the present age. The myths that are required to be believed if the nation state is to work can be divided into two broad categories - the national myth (we are all Iraqis) and the government myth (this is 'our' government). With regard to the first there seems to be general agreement among Sunni and Shi'i that they are all Iraqis but there are still problems developing politics on this basis. President Hussein had to come down heavily on the original extra-national pan-Arab ideology of his own Ba'ath Party; and, though the Iraqi tendency among the Shi'i seems pretty dominant (the racial Arab/Iranian divide is difficult to bridge) there is still a tendency that is willing to identify with Iran and this was the only tendency that was able to maintain an armed opposition to President Hussein's government throughout the 1990s. There is, however, no sense of common nationality between the Arabs and the Kurds, who have made it quite clear that they regard their identity as 'Iraqis' as something imposed by necessity, to be sloughed off at the earliest possible moment. This instability in the national identity is a huge disadvantage because it means that politics turns round these issues and not around the social or economic interests of a community who believe they have a common identity. Coming from Northern Ireland I have some experience of this. It means that the conditions have not been established for the second myth, the myth of 'our' government. Certainly there is no government anyone can recognise as legitimately their own existing in Iraq at the present time. Iraq is clearly in the famous 'state of nature'. Neither the 'Coalition' Provisional Authority, nor the 'Interim Governing' Council have any legitimacy. Legitimacy of a sort may exist among the Kurds but nowhere else. In the Hobbes view such government is initially established by violence and its legitimacy is based on fear, but over time it develops a more relaxed, mythic legitimacy. This could have happened with Hussein's government, especially if it had managed to survive and to pull Iraq through the horrors that had been imposed by the UN throughout the 1990s (it almost did. And this was a remarkable political achievement, deserving of respect). It is very unlikely that either the CPA or the IGC will ever attain to that status though the idea of instituting a reign of fear (a radical suppression of 'Ba'ath remnants') is obviously in the mind of Ahmad Chalabi. It would be nice to think one could jump straightaway to the mythic legitimacy without having to pass through the force and the fear. There are two possible sources of such legitimacy - God (from above) or 'the people' (from below). With regard to God, most, or at least many Iraqis believe that they have His Word in the form of the Quran, and traditionally many of the lawmaking/interpreting functions we would associate with Government have been fulfilled by the mullahs, who have developed a vast expertise in practical and legal interpretation of the Quran and its related traditions. This decentralised power, exercised through the believer's personal, voluntary and loving acceptance of the mullah's authority, is difficult to reconcile with the demands of a nation state, and traditionally the Shi'i schools of jurisprudence have developed in opposition to state power. The Iranian experiment in bringing the two together was very remarkable. At the time of the Iranian Revolution, the 'Tudeh', the Communist Party, seem to have assumed that because they had the notion of state power and the mullahs didn't, alliance with the mullahs would deliver power safely into their hands. They turned out to be horribly wrong. The Communists were massacred and the mullahs went on to produce something new under the Sun - something that should, theoretically have been impossible - a state based on Shi'i principles of jurisprudence. If Iraq were a more or less homogeneous Shi'i society it is quite possible that Najaf might have been able to achieve something similar. The Zogby opinion poll which appears in this news mailing finds, however, that a majority of Iraqis, including a majority of Shi'i, see the USA as a political model to be followed; and that only a minority (though it is quite a sizeable one) want an Islamic state, whether Sunni or Shi'i. This suggests a preference for democracy - rule by 'the people'. But political reality is based, not on the inchoate desires of people answering opinion poll questions, but on determined political action by perhaps small numbers of people who are motivated by faith in an ideal. Ideals tend to be totalitarian. 'Democracy' emerges when none of the existing totalitarian tendencies is sufficiently strong to impose its will on the others. Stable democracy occurs when, behind the competing ideologies, a self-perpetuating 'establishment' emerges that is sufficiently powerful, ruthless and supple to control the game. That is what has happened in the USA and the UK which have been correctly characterised, by Josef Goebbels, not as 'democracies' but as 'plutocracies'. It is very doubtful if such an establishment can be planted from outside the country with a view to serving external interests, sufficiently strong to keep whatever is thrown up by the forces of Iraqi civil society under control. But that is what the Americans appear to be trying to do, through the privatisation and globalisation of the oil industry. The two great totalitarian ideologies of the area are pan-Arabism (which cannot accommodate the Kurds) and Islamism (which is bedevilled by the Sunni/Shi'i split). Neither of these are national ideologies. Saddam Hussein attempted to cramp the original Ba'ath pan-Arab ideology into national boundaries but for the moment his experiment seems to have failed. Its very difficult to imagine a functioning democracy on the US/UK model emerging on the basis of a confrontation between pan-Arab secularism, Sunni Islamism, Shi'i Islamism and Kurdish national separatism. It is difficult, then, to avoid the conclusion that Iraq is doomed to a Hobbes style jostling for power until one element comes out on top and imposes itself on the others (President Hussein Mk II) or, better, several elements emerge, each sufficiently powerful to impose a compromise. I am sick at the thought of it and this lengthy, rambling screed has been an attempt to avoid coming to this conclusion, or at least to put it off, but I can see nothing else. Under other circumstances it might have been possible to envisage the United Nations as a sort of universally recognised substitute for God which could have conferred legitimacy 'from above' in the way the Pope used to do in the Holy Roman Empire. But the way in which the UN has been abused by the permanent members of the Security Council, especially the US and UK, and especially over the past ten years in relation to Iraq, has cut that particular avenue off. So far as Iraq is concerned it is as if all the struggles of the twentieth century never took place. We are back to 1920, and the break-up of the Ottoman Empire, and have to start all over again. News, 10-17/9/03 (1) FUTURE OF IRAQ * Benign Autocracy Is Answer for Iraq [This LA Times article is unusually blunt in arguing that autocracy is necessary not because the Iraqis are not yet ready for democracy, but because they are not yet ready for a democracy that is likely to favour US interests] * Iraqi Says New Gov't Setup May Take Years [Fouad Massoum, chairman of the committee studying the constitutional process, wants to proceed at a stately pace] * Iraq Council Leaders Pressing For Power [Chalabi and the SCIRI want to go fast. General account of the fault lines in the 'Governing Council' presented as lying between those with parties (fast) and those without (slow)] ECONOMY * Cheney's Carpetbaggers: Looking for The Loot at the End of the Tunnel [Extract from lengthy Executive Intelligence Review account of the process by which the US oil industry hopes to be paid by Iraqi oil revenues for the cost of reconstructing the Iraqi oil industry (largely destroyed by US bombing and sanctions)] * Cost of Iraq's oil-field repairs balloons past earlier estimates * Governing Council appoints central bank governor * Retired Iraqi officers issue appeal to CPA for more money [At present they get $20 a month] * Bremer issues new pay scale for state workers ['The order also states that public service employees that lost their civil service positions as a result of the CPA's order on the de Ba'athification of Iraqi society would not be entitled to retirement benefits.'] CIVIL SOCIETY * What Iraqis Really Think We asked them. What they told us is largely reassuring [Zogby International survey, commissioned by American Enterprise Magazine. This has been the subject of interesting contributions to the list from Drew Hamre, Alexander Sternberg (who gave us access to the main findings) and Milan Rai. Drew points out that: 'Zinsmeister spins a case for "the comparative gentleness of this war" by contrasting those who knew someone killed in fighting this spring (roughly 30%) versus those who knew someone killed by Iraqi security forces during Saddam's rule (roughly 50%). But Zinsmeister misquotes the poll. The latter percentage is of people who knew someone "killed IN WAR (emphasis added) or by security forces" during Saddam's rule (which included two calamitous conflicts).' Another example of something along the same lines. Zinsmeister says: 'We asked "Should Baath Party leaders who committed crimes in the past be punished, or should past actions be put behind us?" A thoroughly unforgiving Iraqi public stated by 74% to 18% that Saddam's henchmen should be punished.' Note how 'Baath Party leaders who committed crimes in the past' in the first sentence becomes 'Saddam's henchmen' in the second'. All that has been established is that a majority think people who committed crimes should be punished. And here is another equally meaningless revelation: A majority think life in Iraq will be better in five years time than it is now. It could hardly be worse (or could it?).] * CPA establishes facilities protection service * Fourteen Iraqi political parties form alliance * Girl Power and Post-War Iraq [Powerful piece by Riverbend on the condition of women in the new Iraq] * Defining federalism for Iraq [Outline of a Kurdish vision of a new Iraqi constitution. The proposal that each part should be responsible for its own defense appears absurd but it is designed as only a temporary measure. Vahal Abdulrahman remarks with regret that 'During the decade of 1990's, the Kurdistan Regional Government took various measures to turn Kurdish into the primary language in Iraqi Kurdistan. Year after year, the Arabic language became more distant to the Kurdish children and teenagers resulting in the birth of a generation of Kurds who lack the ability to speak even basic Arabic.' He also argues that all Arabs should be expected to know Kurdish.] * Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid [Guardian obituary for the patriarch of the Chaldaean Catholic Church] JUAN COLE'S CORNER * Juan Cole ‹ Informed Comment [Some items picked up from Juan Cole's blog: ‹ death of an Albanian soldier in Iraq (which didn't seem to get much attention elsewhere but has apparently provoked a storm in Albania) ‹ kidnapping of Kareem Ghatheeth, a Baath Party "Security Director," by the Badr brigades on suspicion of being behind the Najaf bombing ‹ account of Ayatollah Hussein al-Sadr, met by C.Powell on his recent visit ‹ a brief account of the divisions in Turkmen politics ‹ dismissal and arrest of Najaf police chief for corruption] AND, IN NEWS, 10-17/9/03 (2) SECURITY * Suspicion falls on Chechens for Iraqi blasts [This would be very convenient for the purpose of getting Russia on board ...] * Suicide bomber hits U.S. compound [Arbil, Wednesday 10th September] * [Two US soldiers killed, Tuesday and Wednesday, 9th and 10th] * 2 trucks destroyed in attack on convoy [Thursday, 11th September] * Trafficking in chaos on streets of Baghdad [Locke's theory of the social contract is disproved by the traffic problem in Baghdad] * US killing of eight Iraqi police fuels anger in troubled town [Friday, 12th September, Fallujah. And two US soldiers killed in Ramadi] * A hail of bullets, a trail of dead, and a mystery the US is in no hurry to resolve [Robert Fisk's account of the killing of the Fallujah plicemen and the mysteries surrounding it. He reminds us that some time ago (see 'U.S. Troops Step Back In a Tense Iraqi City ' in News, 9 16/7/03 (1)) the Americans were to all intents and purposes chased out of Fallujah by this same Fallujah police] * US, Shiites say arms crisis averted [in Najaf. The Badr brigades get to keep their arms, but don't carry them on the streets] * Iraqi munitions sites remain vulnerable * New Iraqi army is born in desert [Account of training in Kirkush camp] * Fallujah police chief shot dead [Monday 15th September. And US soldier killed in central Baghdad. Note also; 'There is widespread discontent with the coalition forces, the majority of whom treat the Iraqi people with violence and contempt," Rajaa Habib Khuzai (a member of the 'Governing Council') told a joint news conference with Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio.'] * Iraq's Security Weakened by Fear [Washington Post account of the impossible position of the Iraqi police, especially in Khaldiya whose chief of police was killed soon after the article was published] * Iraqi cop chief ambushed [in Khaldiya, see'Iraq's Security Weakened by Fear'] * US Reveals 4,000 Extra 'Security Detainees' in Iraq [They hadn't been mentioned before because "They didn't fit into any category." For this same reason they didn't have any rights, but they didn't ask for any rights, so that's OK. They are '"those who have attacked coalition forces" or were suspected of involvement in or planning of such attacks' but 'only a "negligible" number had been detained since major combat operations were declared over'. They haven't been interrogated (no attempt made to to verify the charges against them) because "They didn't fit into any category." And so it goes on. Oh, they've got a category now. They are "security detainees."] * U.S. Forces Arrest Shoemakers Fearing They Turn Glue Into Bombs [See 'US Reveals 4,000 Extra 'Security Detainees' in Iraq'] IRAQI RESISTANCE * Ansar Al-Islam says it is regrouping, calls for fatwa against U.S. * Iraqi fighters reject label of terrorist [Unusual account of life in the Iraqi resistance] AND, IN NEWS, 10-17/9/03 (3) "INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY" * Changes sought to U.S. resolution on Iraq [Amendments from France and Germany, and Russia. The text of the amendments and of the original US resolution have been posted to the list by Nathaniel Hurd (French - German Proposed Amendments to US Draft, Friday, September 12, 2003)] * More troops will not boost security in Iraq ‹ Schroeder [Schroeder sensibly observes that "If more soldiers were to be sent to the country, then it would be better if they came from countries which have a closer relationship with the Islamic faith" and proposes that Germany could help to train Iraqi police and soldiers. In Germany] * Spanish Judge Jails Al-Jazeera Reporter [Tayssir Alouni. Note also Atwar Bahjat, detained by the Americans] * Iraq and the divided world [Summary of the present state of the debate in the UN Security Council] * PTI opposes sending troops to Iraq [Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan 'was of the view that any such decision would further antagonize the Arab world as they had not forgotten the role of Pakistan during the Suiz crisis in 1956 when Pakistan government, under the "doctrine of supreme national interest", sided with the West against the Arab national interests.'] * Foreigners financed the U.S. war in Iraq [Mushroom in foreign servicing of the US debt (and therefore control over the US economy. Elsewhere I think I have seen that it is largely Chinese). This both finances the war and a flood of foreign imports. Which can't be good news for the US worker] * India has ruled out sending troops to Iraq, UN mandate or not: reports [Why would India's front in Kashmir (or, for that matter, Pakistan's front in Kashmir) not be seen as every bit as significant to a 'war against Terror' as the US front in Iraq?] * Immigrants sue Spanish PM for claiming terror groups link ['bottles and flasks containing what police claimed were "explosives and chemical products" found in their homes turned out to hold cologne, olive oil, honey, household ammonia and washing powder. ... Mobile phones, alarm clocks, television remote controls and the manuals that Mr Nabbar used to learn electronics were presented to press photographers as evidence that they helped plan attacks. A child's toy pistol, not included in the court evidence, was added to the display which appeared in Spanish newspapers ... "We are not talking about hypothetical or remote dangers ... " said Mr Aznar'. Apparently the 'Spanish cell' of Al Qaida also featured in a chart as part of Mr Powell's presentation at the UN] * UN work slows to a crawl in Iraq [Inhibitions on UN work since the bomb] FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS * Cabinet stresses Chalabi case criminal not political [Jordanian government reiterates its desire to have A.Chalabi brought to justice] * Iranian rebels in Iraq "contained" - U.S. military [says Sanchez. In response to a Washington Post report that 'quoted State Department officials saying they suspected the Pentagon was allowing the group to retain its weapons, move in and out of camps at will, broadcast propaganda and cross into Iran to conduct attacks.'] * Mujahedeen ready to harass US, Kurds and Tehran [More on the present state of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq. Divided between those who are resisting the Americans and those who are waiting to be used by them] * Turkey, U.S. OK plan on Kurdish rebels [and nobody is using the anodyne line about Kurds merely wanting self government which pops up every time the consequences of the Iraqi Kurds' alliance with revolutionary Iran is under discussion] * MPs condemn US attack on Jordanian hospital in Iraq [Discussion in the Jordanian parliament about the US shooting up of the Jordanian hospital near Fallujah. One MP demands $10m compensation for the murder of the Jordanian security guard on the surely obviously rather farfetched grounds that an Arab life is worth as much as an American life ...] * Occupied Iraq And OPEC Conference Meetings [Dr Fadhil J Chalabi, Executive Director, Centre for Global Energy Studies, runs through the History of OPEC to show that Iraq's status as an occupied country is not an argument against giving it a seat. Failure to allow it into OPEC will, he argues, be dangerous for OPEC itself, freeing US controlled Iraq from OPEC discipline. He is obviously right] AND, IN NEWS, 10-17/9/03 (4) BURIAL OF THE PRETEXT * AP Staffer fact-checks Powell's UN speech - key claims didn't hold up * Intelligence team criticised for false impression of Iraq's WMD [Financial Times account of the parliamentary intelligence and security committee report, stressing its criticism of the Joint Intelligence Committee. The government is exonerated from spinning or misrepresenting the JIC. It was the JIC which was spinning or misrepresenting its own intelligence] * Report reveals Blair overruled terror warning [Guardian account of parliamentary intelligence and security committee report] * No sexing up, please [Nick Cohen believes that President Hussein's wickedness was a sufficient case for war. But that having been said, most of the article elaborates on what appears to be the theme everyone has extracted from the Intelligence and Security Committee report - that the dossier wasn't sexed up in defiance of the (upper ranks of the) Intelligence services. It was sexed up in collaboration with them] * Iraq weapons report shelved [An article that appeared after this mailing had been put together says an interim report from David Kay's Iraq Survey team may appear next week. But this article is still interesting if only because it appears in the Sunday Times. The Times gave an account of the findings of the parliamentary intelligence and security committee which stressed those aspects of it that were damaging to the government (12th September). Some time ago there was an article about Rupert Murdoch by Germaine Greer, who had had experience of him in Australia. She argued that Murdoch was motivated not so much by a distinct political agenda as by a desire to be always on the winning side. The moment he felt Mr Blair was turning into a loser, he would abandon him regardless of whether he felt he was 'right' or not] * Iraqi scientists say N-programme ended long ago ["Before [Hussein Kamel's defection], we had had to sign a declaration that we cannot tell inspectors anything about the true aims of the programmes. Otherwise we were liable for dangerous repercussions," he says. "Afterwards, we had to sign another declaration: if we don't tell the truth and hand over all the documentation, then we will be punished." The material that was left after the war was kept and efforts were made to conceal it. It was, however, all found by the inspectors. A policy of total transparency was adopted in 1995] * MI6 chief defends his spies [In the Hutton Inquiry. The very unmysterious 'C' assures us that the 45-minute claim was indeed a bit of authentic Iraqi army gossip] * Blix: Iraq bluffed about WMD [As if in response to my question last week as to when Iraq got rid of its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, Hans Blix says possibly in 1999 (just after the departure of Mr Butler's team. But that obviously can't be the case, since our Prime Minister, in his key speech urging the nation to war, declared the notion to be ridiculous), '10 years ago'; or 1991. If it is 1991 (and other material published after this mailing had been compiled show that this is Blix's strong favourite), Mr Blix is puzzled by Iraq's non collaboration with the inspectors: 'They certainly gave the impression that they were denying access and so forth'. But there is no mystery to this. The inspectors were widely and credibly charged with including US spies and the US had declared its intention to assassinate President Hussein and do all in their power to bring about his overthrow. Under the circumstances could the Iraqis possibly have allowed these inspectors free access everywhere?] THE PAST * Iraq's secret environmental horror [Account of a major methyl mercury poisoning catastrophe in Iraq in the early 1970s. The story is horrific, but the author (as opposed to the editor) does not present it as a consequence of Iraqi government wickedness. Indeed there is a clear implication that the stuff was produced in the US and dumped on Iraq after its dangers had become evident] * US army's detectives scour Iraqi earth for mass graves [The article is about a 'mass grave' in Al Radwania jail. But we are told that Al Radwania jail was heavily bombed by the US air force. And presumably everyone in it. nb 'By the United Nations' definition, three bodies constitute a mass grave.' Can that be right?] * U.S. indicts son of Iraqi ex-diplomat in New York * Powell pays emotional visit to Halabja [and no-one seems to have asked him why the people of Halabja, though outside Iraqi government control, received no medical or other help over the past twelve years from the people who were making such abundant and opportunistic propaganda use of their sufferings - mainly to justify the continued imposition of sanctions on the whole of Iraq, including Halabja] * Former Iraqi defense minister urged to surrender [Letter from the commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division, David Petraeus, to former defense minister Sultan Hashim Ahmed. Petraeus is often presented as a model of what the US occupation ought to be and this letter seems to be more correct than most of what we have come to expect from the invaders. Though there is also a theatrical air to it, like something out of a rather corny novel] COMPENSATION SCAM(S) * Judge Denies Iraq Funds for 9/11 Victims [U.S. District Judge Harold Baer: '"The government contends that these funds ... are needed to rebuild Iraq," Baer wrote. "That need is clear, nonetheless one wonders whether American families who lost loved ones as a result of terrorism here and abroad ought not be compensated first."' Getting his priorities right] * Iraq wants relief from Kuwait compensation [and presumably all the other vindictive measures that were put in place to punish the bad guys] * Lawsuit Alleges al-Qaida Ties With Iraq [This article possibly explains why President Bush has suddenly dissociated himself from the Iraqi/Al Qaida link. He doesn't want all that Iraqi money to go to the victims of the September 2001 attacks in New York and Washington; or else he doesn't want yet more egg all over his face when the paucity of the evidence for an Iraqi/Al Qaida link is exposed in court (indeed, would I be right in thinking that in the amusing circumstances created by this lawsuit it will be up to a government lawyer to PROVE that there has been no Iraq/Al Qaida link?!]] _______________________________________________ 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