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[casi] News titles, 1-8/10/03



News titles, 1-8/10/03

[NOTE: Juan Cole's blog is of variable quality but this week he has been on
top form, noticing all sorts of little things everyone else seems to have
missed. Readers could probably skip the rest of this mailing and go straight
there (its at the end). Otherwise the main news has been David Kay's
statement to Congress, the formation of the White House-powered Iraq
Stabilisation Group, Turkey's decision to send troops to Iraq, the UN
Security Council turning down the latest US resolution, and the closure of
'Camp Cropper' in Baghdad airport.]

No conclusive proof has yet been found that the previous Iraqi government
possessed the means to defend their country against the weapons of mass
destruction routinely employed by the British and American armies. But those
who supported the war are still able to point (as Anne Clwyd did very
effectively at the recent Labour Party conference) to the fact that mass
graves have been discovered. The authenticity of some photographs of mass
graves has been questioned on this list but there cannot be any real doubt
that mass graves exist. It would be extremely improbable, under the
circumstances, if they did not exist.

They date back, for the most part, to 1991, and the aftermath of the United
Nations Gulf War. While the war was going on, one assumed the end result
would be the breakup of Iraq into a chaos of competing armed factions and
the intervention of Turkey and Iran and possibly also Syria and even Saudi
Arabia. It seemed that the only way this could be prevented would have been
a United Nations/United States imposed military dictatorship. Instead, the
United Nations (I stress the United Nations. This is a crime committed by
the United Nations. The United States may have been behind it but it was
done under the authority of the Security Council, the only body in the UN
that possesses political power) decided to allow - indeed to facilitate -
the maintenance of the existing dictatorship. In suppressing his rebellion,
President Hussein was to all practical intents and purposes acting as much
under a mandate of the United Nations as the United States was when it
expelled him from Kuwait.

It should not be doubted that the problem was real. In the usual accounts of
what happened we learn, both from the right and from the left, that 'the
people' rose and took power in most of the provinces of Iraq. But although
'the people' can rise, they cannot take power. Power is taken by smaller,
more determined groups, usually armed and often driven by passionate
commitment to an ideology.

The elements that were taking power were the Kurdish separatist parties in
the North and the Shi'i militias - al-Dawa and the Supreme Council for the
Islamic Revolution - in the South. All of these had supported Iran in the
recent and immensely bloody ten year long Iraq/Iran struggle. It is
generally believed that most Iraqi Shi'i supported the Iraqi side, but this
makes little difference. The armed and organised elements best equipped to
take power in 1991 had fought alongside the Ayatollahs.

We can easily imagine the Kurds asserting their independence, leading to war
with what was left of the Ba'ath Party and the Sunni Arabs for Kirkuk and
Mosul, possibly - and unnoticed by the world - producing a massacre of
Turkomen and Assyrians, but almost certainly an intervention from Turkey. At
the same time there would be a determined effort to establish an Iranian
style polity in the South, with or without actual Iranian aid. Both the
Kurdish and the Shi'i parties were much more overtly militant than they are
now. The Kurds had been at war with the Iraqi state over Kirkuk and Mosul
since the 1970s. SCIRI has learned to use a more accommodating language but
still, only the most ignorant of western journalists could apply to the late
Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim the title of 'moderate'. Insofar as the
word has any meaning, which isn't very far, the campaign he was conducting
in Iraq during the 1990s could certainly be called 'terrorist'.

The rising was of course accompanied by a massacre of people associated with
the Hussein regime - and, presumably, their families. That must have
resulted in the creation of a few mass graves. Did the Ba'ath Party, after
it had regained control, open these up and reinter the corpses? Or are they
among the graves that are being discovered at the present time? At any rate,
the centralised Ba'ath Party authority was re-established with immense
brutality. It is difficult to imagine how it could have been established any
other way (later on in the nineties Saddam tried more seductive methods but
they were hardly an option in the conditions of 1991). And it would be
difficult to argue that the alternative - anarchy and a civil war that would
probably involve most of Iraq's neighbours - would have been any better.

All this followed, with the inevitability of a theorem, from the policy that
was adopted by George Bush Sr and (if it is worth mentioning) John Major.
Just as the mass departure of the Albanians from Kosovo was a direct result
of the war launched by NATO in 1998, so the massacre and counter-massacre in
Iraq in 1991, with its horrible cortege of mass graves, was the direct
result of the United Nations refusal to allow Saddam Hussein an honourable
way out of the trap he had fallen into when he invaded Kuwait. That, and the
refusal of the United Nations forces to take responsibility for the mess
they had created.

The murderous chaos we are seeing at the present time is a chaos that was
always just under the surface of Hussein's regime and it goes far towards
explaining his brutality. It isn't discreditable to the people of Iraq. On
the contrary, what we are seeing is a civil society that is much more lively
and diverse than we have been for a very long time. It would be difficult
for anyone these days to talk of 'oriental fatalism' as particularly
characteristic of Islam or of the Middle East. But the process by which all
that liveliness, diversity and passion gets battered into the shape of a
peaceful, democratic state is long and complex. One of the early stages of
it is the imposition of a unified state structure. In Western European
history this phase goes under the general name of 'absolutism'. This is
what, in the face of unimaginable difficulties, Saddam Hussein was trying to
do. It is now what 'we' ('the British people', who are now, as part of the
'coalition', sovereign over Iraq) have to try to do. It may be doubted if we
are capable of it, but that is the responsibility Mr Blair has put upon our
shoulders.

News, 1-8/10/03 (1)

STATE OF THE PRETEXT
[Note: Articles, notably by Charles Duelfer and Colin Powell, arguing that
the ISG findings justified the war, were posted to the list after this
mailing was closed. They should appear next week]

*  Officials Say Bush Seeks $600 Million to Hunt Iraq Arms [Nice to learn -
from one Judith Miller - that President Hussein's palaces are being well
cared for - 'the Iraq Survey Group spent its first weeks installing
air-conditioned trailers, a new dining facility, state-of-the-art software
and even a sprinkler system for a new lawn']
*  In Iraq, U.S. Finds No Banned Weapons [Account of David Kay debacle from
Washington Post]
*  Russia Hid Saddam's WMD's [This was forwarded to the list by Darin
Zeilweger under one of his many imaginative and witty noms de plume (but
perhaps 'Darin Zeilweger' is itself and elegant and witty nom de plume). Its
very good. Almost as good as last week's story from the New York Post that
silly old Saddam - the butcher - had been fooled - buffaloed - by his
scientists into thinking he had chemical, biological and nuclear weapons
when really he hadn't (a rather dangerous game for the scientists to play, I
would have thought). But neither of them are quite as good as the story we
had a few weeks ago, also sent by one of the D.Zeilweger emanations, about
the column of trucks headed from Iraq to the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon which
the CIA noticed without appreciating its significance. The Lebanon story is
best because after all a war with Lebanon/Syria is desirable but a war with
Russia really isn't. Not yet anyway. Otherwise the gist of this story is
that Iraq HAS got rid of its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons while
retaining a knowledge base to reconstitute them later should circumstances
change. Which is more or less what I think too.]
*  Survey Group head's link to arms industry [Glen Rangwala reminds us of
certain facts concerning the career of David Kay]
*  Extracts from Robin Cook's diary
*  Revelation casts doubt on Iraq find [The test tube found in the fridge is
reminiscent of the nuclear plans found buried in the garden. The UN
inspection team (you remember. The competent one) said the fact the stuff
had been buried away for the past ten years was an indication that there
ISN'T an ongoing programme. The article also partly answers a query I made
to the list. I said I couldn't access the full report. Apparently no-one can
access it - including members of the Iraq Survey Group whose report it is
supposed to be]
*  No uranium, no munitions, no missiles, no programmes [Glen Rangwala makes
an especially important point about missile research. Once sanctions are
lifted Iraq would have the legal right to these missiles. Unlike chemical,
biological and nuclear weapons there is no reason why they should not have
been preparing for that happy day. This, the strongest part of Mr K's case
is therefore largely irrelevant. However since under Res 1441 the Iraqis
were obliged to declare everything, anything that is discovered that wasn't
declared can be taken, under the US/UK interpretation of 1441 (which no-one
else shares), as a valid pretext for war]

WHITE MAN'S BURDEN

*  4,000 U.S. non-combat evacuations in Iraq ['A total of 3,915 evacuations
from the region have been for non-combat medical problems. A combination of
what the Pentagon is calling evacuations for "psychiatric" and
"neurological" problems make up 22 percent of the total, with 478 and 387
evacuations, respectively. Another 544 evacuations have been for "general
surgery," 290 for gynecological reasons and 118 for orthopedic problems.']
*  US Iraq budget- devil in the details ['The administration's $20.3 billion
request for Iraqi reconstruction has been under the hot lamp of
Congressional scrutiny, but the vastly larger portion of the emergency
spending bill  $65.6 billion for Pentagon activities, military operations
and classified programs  has drawn few complaints.' Part of it is simply
making up all the stuff that was used in the course of the invasion. Note
the '$339 million for classified research and development ... part of the
planned life of bringing a weapons system online' and then think of David
Kay whining about Iraqi research and development for a handful of missiles
capable of going further than 150 km]
*  White House to Overhaul Iraq and Afghan Missions [Formation of the '"Iraq
Stabilization Group," which will be run by the national security adviser,
Condoleezza Rice'. Difficult to know why a senior official should think 'the
problems in Afghanistan are less complex'. Oh, I've got it! No media]


and, in News, 1-8/10/03 (2)

TURKS AND KURDS

*  US, Turkey agree on rebels [If PKK/KADEK are expelled from Iraq where are
they to go? And will their brother Iraqi Kurds stand by and let it happen
(foolish question. Of course they will)? And no-one will draw the obvious
comparison between the policy of Saddam in relation to the Kurds and that of
the Turks ...]
*  Turkoman leader survives assassination attempt in Iraq
*  Kurdish daily criticizes U.S. immunity deal with former Iraqi Defense
Minister [Kurdishmedia.com accuses former Iraqi Defense Minister Sultan
Hashim Ahmad of involvement in the Anfal campaign]
*  Time for the US to talk to KADEK [Having made a cynical remark to the
effect that the Kurds of Southern Kurdistan would do nothing for their
brothers from Northern Kurdistan, I should include this, an article by (I
assume) an Iraqi Kurd from KurdishMedia.com arguing for a US/KADEK
rapprochement (and that the US should ditch the treacherous Turk). He says,
interestingly, that 'the selection of the charismatic Dr. Mahmoud Osman to
sit on the Iraqi Governing Council shows that the US is not necessarily
shying away from all Kurds associated with KADEK, as Dr. Osman has
frequently spoken in support of the party' . He also gives some pro-Israeli
and pro-US remarks from Abdullah Ocalan]
*  Turkey's parliament OKs peacekeepers ['"The decision that came out of
parliament is not one that will be executed immediately, this instant,"
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. "Time will decide. The process
will depend on developments."' I continue, rightly or wrongly, to read
Erdogan as a good guy operating under huge pressure both from two sets of
bad guys, the army and the US. And prevaricating. With style.]
*  In their Iraqi mountain hideaway Turkey's most wanted men stay loyal to
the cause [Guardian account - I think it is the first account I have ever
seen - of PKK in Southern Kurdistan]
*  Iraqi leader attacks US over plan to use Turkish troops [Patrick Cockburn
tells us that 'The Turkish soldiers are expected to replace US forces in the
towns of Ramadi and Fallujah' which seems unlikely. If it is true it is a
huge service which surely demands a huge reward (elimination of the PKK?)]

OTHER FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS

*  Jordan to train 30,000 Iraqi security forces
*  Saddam's fall triggers change in Gulf [This article, from the Jordan
Times, tells us that the Gulf region is more stable now that there is a
massive US military presence in the middle of it, enabling less defence
spending and more long term economic planning]
*  Resolute Iranian Pilgrims Meet Awed G.I.'s [Pilgrims, sometimes 1,000 a
day, risking minefields, bandits and the desert to get to Karbala and Najaf]
*  Bush signals backing for Syria sanctions

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY

*  Donors grapple with $56 billion bill for Iraq [Agreement 'to set up a
separate trust fund outside Washington's direct control']     
*  Oil-For-Food Director says delays will impact program's closing
*  U.K. representative to Iraq says Coalition can go it alone [In itself
this is an item of no interest whatsoever but it seems good every once in a
while to remind outselves of the existence of Sir Jeremy Greenstock]
*  UN-US discord over Iraq deepens [Useful outline of the differences. Annan
insists that if the UN is seen as simply an auxiliary to the US it will be
putting the lives of its personnel at risk to no great purpose. It needs
either to be in control or to have no official role at all. The opponents of
the US draft resolution believe that power should be transferred to Iraqis
(necessarily the Governing Council) prior to the drafting of a new
constitution. The US insist that a constitution must precede a handover to
the Iraqis. Behind this is of course the US desire to keep control over the
process of rebuilding and all the lucrative contracts it involves; and the
French and Russian desire to get their own feet back in the door.
Paradoxically, as an interesting letter to Jacques Chirac from Youssef
Aschkar, 'president du Parti laique et social du Liban', posted to the list
by Andreas - AS-ILAS - argued (and as I have also argued on occasion) the UN
option would free the US to pursue further adventures. In the heads of the
invaders a conflict must be going on between the desire to keep control and
the desire to move on to the next one. I would be inclined to encourage them
to go for keeping control]
*  Polish gov't under fire over Iraq missiles [Polish Defence Ministry had
announced that 'Polish troops had found Roland-type missiles manufactured
this year in an Iraqi zone controlled by the Polish-led international
military force'. And has now had to retract.]    
*  U.S. is dealt setback as it seeks U.N. help in Iraq


News, 1-8/10/03 (3)

ADMINISTRATION

*  Educators fired for being Baath Party members upset
*  Baghdad University President dismissed for not excluding Ba'athist
professors [This story is rather strange in the light of the story given
last week (News, 24/9-1/10/03 (2) - Dismissal of Shi'i dean of Baghdad
University) that the same Higher Education Minister Ziad Abd al-Razzaq had
sacked a popular and democratically elected Shi'i dean in favour of a former
Baathist ...]
*  Schools reopen in Iraq
*  'Iraqi Legal System Needs Time to Recover' ['the first postwar meeting of
Iraq's Judicial Council, the country's top judicial body which was disbanded
in 1977 during the rule of Saddam's Baath Party ..... most of the senior
judges in civil courts who served during Saddam's rule have been reinstated
back in their jobs.']
*  Iraq Awards Mobile Network Contracts
*  Back To School, No Anti-Occupation Books [Haven't yet got round to
devising a version of local history in which the role of the western powers
is perceived as having been benign]

GENERAL REFLECTIONS

*  'Iraq is not a lost battle. We should not sit idle' [Wideranging
discussion with Isam al Khafaji, anti-Baathist, who joined the US inspired
Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council then resigned in protest
against the lack of consultation. The article is long but worth reading in
its entirety as giving an almost optimistic non-hysterical view of the
situation.]
*  Why we are winning in Iraq [Frank J Gaffney Jr gives an upbeat assessment
but makes little effort to conceal the fact that he has barely strayed
outside the confines of the palaces or talked to anyone who doesn't have an
interest in making upbeat assessments. He remarks on 'the industriousness
and innovation of Iraqi engineers, scientists, technicians and laborers.
For decades, their skills were largely suppressed - or at least not rewarded
- by the Baathist regime.  Now they are being turned loose, with
transformative effects.' But the question how these engineers, scientists,
technicians and laborers acquired their skills doesn't seem to have occurred
to him. Another point. He greatly admires the way money stolen from Iraqi
bank accounts frozen in the US has been used by local military commanders
such as D.Petraeus as a slush fund for buying local support. Am I wrong in
thinking that under UNSC Res 1483, para 23 such money should be going to the
UN controlled Iraqi Development Fund?]
*  A land ruled by chaos [This is a very interesting, but long article by
Suzanne Goldenberg travelling up through the South of Iraq towards Baghdad.
The picture she draws of that largely Shi'i area shows a people who welcome
the fall of Saddam but are terrified by the power vacuum it has created. She
also observes the strong emergence of traditional forms of social
organisation together with their rivalries. I only give extracts but the
whole is worth reading.]
*  Iraq will be poor 'for years' [say the US-based Institute of
International Finance]
*  Welcome benign US imperialism [Indian journalist Arnab Neil Sengupta in
the Lebanon Daily Star argues that national independence for countries like
India and Iraq has just been a regrettable blip in the history of
Imperialism which is the natural mode of government in the world]


and, in News, 1-8/10/03 (4)

SECURITY

*  US forces face night of terror in Kirkuk [2nd October. Some apparently
rather futile explosions and two kids blow themselves up beside an empty dry
cleaners.]
*  US Facing Deadlier Foe in Iraq: Commander [Incidents around Fallujah, 3rd
October]
*  Accusations fly between Czech troops and Shi'ite cleric in Iraq [The
Czechs are accused of distributing a defaced copy of the Qu'ran. The Czechs
seem to be accusing someone local of doing it as a provocation which seems
equally unlikely]
*  Troops kill rioters in Baghdad and Basra [Saturday 4th October.
Apparently detailed account by Patrick Cockburn]
*  U.S. troops, Iraqi militias at odds over security roles ['"When they (US
soldiers) started shooting at the mosque, we started shooting at them," said
Jassim Mohammed, 35, an Iraqi police officer. "We started shooting because
we are Muslims first and policemen second. Besides, our job isn't to protect
the Americans. It is to protect Iraqis."]
*  Attack targets Iraqi Shia party [SCIRI in Kirkuk]
*  US closes notorious Baghdad prison camp [Closure of 'Camp Cropper' in
Baghdad Airport]    
*  Christian Translator Killed in Iraq, Branded as a Traitor [One little sad
story among many]
*  Violence rages in Iraq as UN balks at US resolution [Monday 6th October
in al-Haswah, just west of Baghdad and in Ramadi, bringing the post-May 1st
total of US army personnel killed to 92]

JUAN COLE'S CORNER

*  Juan Cole - Informed Comment
[Riots in Baghdad ('by nearly 2000 former members of the Iraqi secret
police, who want their jobs back' and by Shi'ites protesting against the
arrest of Moqtada Sadr supporter Shaikh Moayad al-Khazraji)
 Turkish Troops Rejected "Unanimously" by Iraqi Governing Council (and
other indications that the wishes of the IGC don't count for very much. The
article ends by pointing out that 'inside the Kurdish regions of Iraq, the
Kurdistan Regional Government is being allowed by the Coalition Provisional
Authority to tender petroleum development contracts itself, rather than
going through Baghdad.' One wonders if that includes rights over fields near
Kirkuk and Mosul)
 Iranian Factions divided on which Iraqi Shiites to support (reminding us
that Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, new leader of SCIRI, unlike his assassinated
brother, is not 'an Object of Emulation (a cleric who is followed by many
laymen)'
 Waxman, Corporations Angry about Tender Process in Iraq
 Attacks on US, Bulgarian Troops in Kirkuk and Karbala; Firefight in Beiji
(and, in Beiji, the US reinstated a police chief it had dismissed several
months before)
 Al-Hakim Calls for Iranian Role
 Najaf Religious Authorities Rebuke IGC on Nationalities Law (Grand
Ayatollah Ali Sistani pronounces against dual nationality and for the first
time declares that religious approval will be necessary for the legitimacy
of any future government)
 Process of Writing New Constitution Delayed (he says the French and the
Germans are arguing for early elections on the basis of an earlier
constitution. Cole himself has argued for this but I thought the French were
pressing for the IGC itself to assume the role of government)
 Jordanian Islamists ask Government not to Train Iraqi Police
 Unemployment Riots in Baghdad and Basra for Second Day (and in Hilla,
which Suzanne Goldenberg tells us has been relatively a success story for
the occupation)
 Secret Deal between US and Iran on Iraq
 Iraqis Forbidden to work for Some US Contractors (on the grounds, not
totally unreasonable, that they might be a security risk)
 Sadrists Have Some Tribal Support in Southern Cities (Cole argues that
Sadr is a substantial figure)
 Wesley Clark Calls for Criminal Investigation of Bush Iraq policy {if
Clark becomes President and sees this through it will put Mr Blair, assuming
he is still in place, in an interesting predicament]
 Iyad Alawi takes over Presidency of IGC (on October 1, from Chalabi)]






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