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[casi] News, 1-8/10/03 (4)



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

SECURITY

*  US forces face night of terror in Kirkuk
*  US Facing Deadlier Foe in Iraq: Commander
*  Accusations fly between Czech troops and Shi'ite cleric in Iraq
*  Troops kill rioters in Baghdad and Basra
*  U.S. troops, Iraqi militias at odds over security roles
*  Attack targets Iraqi Shia party
*  US closes notorious Baghdad prison camp    
*  Christian Translator Killed in Iraq, Branded as a Traitor
*  Violence rages in Iraq as UN balks at US resolution

JUAN COLE'S CORNER

*  Juan Cole - Informed Comment


SECURITY

http://english.aljazeera.net/Articles/News/ArabWorld/US+forces+face+night+of
+terror+in+Kirkuk.htm

*  US FORCES FACE NIGHT OF TERROR IN KIRKUK
Aljazeera, 3rd October

A carefully planned series of resistanceattacks, causingdeath and injury,
are reported tohave broughtchaos throughout the northern city of Kirkuk in
Iraq.

The night of terror began with a mortar bomb attack followed by a deadly
operation launched by two resistance fighterswho blew themselves up outside
a dry cleaners frequented by US troops in Kirkuk.

At least six explosions rocked the northern city. The first explosion caused
by a mortar attack destroyed a US Humvee vehicle and wounded two American
soldiers.

US Major Peter Mitchell told Aljazeera.net: "We are aware of reports of an
attempt by atleast oneindividual to ignite himself near a dry cleaners but
we have no official confirmation about a series of attacks."

However Lieutenant Shaker al-Riyashi of the civil defence said there were
"two youths who wore explosive belts strapped to their bodies but we were
not able to identify them because they were badly mutilated."

The attack at the dry cleaners occurred about 11:30 pm (19:30 GMT) when the
shop was empty. It triggered a fire that was quickly doused, Riyashi said.

The US military initially said they had no report of any incident. The
attacks came as the top US commander in Iraq, Lieutenant General Ricardo
Sanchez, said his forces were facing a deadlier foe, and after three US
soldiers were killed in separate attacks in the country's central region.

Iraqi police chief Colonel Khattab Abd Allah said the "suicidebombing" was
the first incident of its kind to take place in Kirkuk since the fall of
Saddam Hussein's regime almost six months ago.

At least six explosions caused by rocket propelled grenades and mortars
shook several parts of the city within 20 minutes, Abdullah said, adding
that there were no immediate reports of casualties.

According to Abd Allah the blasts occured in residential sectors in the
south, center, east and southwest of the city. At least one of the
explosions was heard near a US position in the city, witnesses contacted by
AFP said.

A senior security source said US troops rushed to the scene of the first
blast in the southwestern sector of Kirkuk and transferred to a hospital two
soldiers wounded in the attack. The source said he believed the blast was
caused by a bomb.

The source, who declined to be named, said the second blast was caused by a
mortar which targetted a US position in the centre of Kirkuk. The attacks
came on the same day as three US soldiers died in separate resistance
operations

The same location was hit by a second mortar about 10 minutes later.

The fourth blast was also caused by a mortar that hit a police station in
eastern Kirkuk, he said, adding that two other blasts targetted two US
positions in the centre of the town, including the military's civil affairs
office.

Minutes after the last explosion an AFP correspondent said he heard US
warplanes fly over Kirkuk while US troops and local police began patrolling
the city.

Less than two hours later, calm returned to Kirkuk where an AFP
correspondent said the local police were still patrolling the streets to
look for the assailants.


http://www.arabnews.com/?page=4&section=0&article=32949&d=3&m=10&y=2003&pix=
world.jpg&category=World%22

*  US FACING DEADLIER FOE IN IRAQ: COMMANDER
Arab News (Saudi Arabia), 3rd October

BAGHDAD, 3 October 2003 (AFP): The US commander in Iraq said yesterday the
US-led forces were facing a deadlier foe on the ground, as troops traded
fire with gunmen in the flash point city of Fallujah nearly six months after
the coalition ousted Saddam Hussein from power. "The enemy has evolved and
he is a little more lethal, a little more complex, a little more
sophisticated and in some cases a little more tenacious," Lt. Gen. Ricardo
Sanchez said.

The general said his soldiers were dying on an average of three to six a
week, with another 40 being wounded over the same period. Sanchez said he
did not think US troops would be leaving the country any time soon despite
his forces laying the groundwork for Iraqi sovereignty, which in principle
should free US forces to go home.

"It will definitely be years. We never said it would be anything less than
years," Sanchez said, as he surveyed Iraq's deadly security situation.

A soldier was killed late Wednesday in a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG)
attack in Samarra, 100 kilometers north of Baghdad, at the same time as
another was struck down by small arms fire in the capital. The attacks came
just four hours after a bomb claimed the life of a soldier in Tikrit, the
hometown of Saddam. Their deaths brought to 88 the number of soldiers killed
in Iraq since US President George W. Bush declared major hostilities over on
May 1.

Fresh attacks were launched on US troops yesterday, with witnesses saying at
least three Americans were injured in separate incidents, but the US Army
was not immediately able to confirm the reports.

In Fallujah, west of Baghdad, a witness said two US soldiers were wounded
and four Iraqi civilians hurt by return fire shortly after midday when a
10-man patrol was hit by a drive-by shooting. A US Army spokeswoman said the
violence started when a crowd gathered in front of the mayor's office and an
Iraqi sprayed gunfire at them and at the building.

The 82nd Airborne Division was called to the scene but there were no
immediate reports of casualties, she added. One witness, Hossam Ali, told
AFP "unidentified assailants drove past them in a car and opened fire on
them," in the center of Fallujah, a bastion of Sunni Muslim conservatives
where anti-US attacks are frequent.

"Two US soldiers were wounded" in the incident, that occurred at 12:45 p.m.
(0845 GMT), he said adding that the car fled the scene of the attack. "US
troops returned fire and hit four people, including a woman, a child, a man
who was passing by and a member of the Iraqi police," said Ali, who was
walking down the street at the time of the incident.

Iraqi police Lt. Jassem Mohammad confirmed that four civilians were rushed
to hospital after they were hurt by gunfire in Fallujah, 50 kilometers from
the capital. But the officer was not able to identify the source of the
gunfire. Following the shootout, a man riding a motorcycle fired an RPG at
the municipal building, but missed his target and then fled on foot, said
municipal security guard Mohammad Qassem.

In nearby Khaldiya, an eight-vehicle military convoy hit a land mine. There
were no casualties, although the blast ripped a water main, witnesses said.
Witnesses also reported an RPG attack on an American convoy by Fallujah late
yesterday, but there did not appear to be any casualties.

Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday he wanted
Turkish Parliament to decide "rapidly" whether to send Turkish peacekeeping
troops to Iraq to help Washington maintain security there. In an apparent
concession to its NATO ally, the United States earlier agreed on joint
action with Turkey against hundreds of Turkish Kurdish rebels holed up in
northern Iraq, which could include military action.

"We want a decision from the assembly rapidly on sending the troops,"
Erdogan told the local news channel NTV. The United States has made it clear
in the past that it would be in charge of any military operations in Iraq
and is wary of any Turkish involvement in action against Kurds there.


*  ACCUSATIONS FLY BETWEEN CZECH TROOPS AND SHI'ITE CLERIC IN IRAQ
RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 41, 3 October 2003

Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has reportedly accused Czech doctors
working in the southern Iraqi city of Al-Basrah of distributing a passage of
the Koran on which derogatory comments were written, Czech radio reported on
30 September. Czech Defense Ministry spokesman Ladislav Sticha responded by
calling al-Sadr's allegations "an act of provocation that is clearly aimed
at destabilizing the situation in Al-Basrah." He added that the defamatory
comments were written "in very poor English and contain a number of
grammatical errors frequently made by local people."

Meanwhile, Czech Ambassador to Kuwait Jana Hybaskova told CTK on 20
September that Shaykh Sabah Saidi, an associate of al-Sadr, has made threats
against the Czech field hospital. Hybaskova traveled to Al-Basrah to meet
with local authorities and said she and the authorities believe the text is
a forgery and a provocation, and that the Czech field hospital will continue
to operate. She added that the hospital's relations with the local
population remain good. (Kathleen Ridolfo)


NO URL

*  TROOPS KILL RIOTERS IN BAGHDAD AND BASRA
by Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad
Sunday Independent, 5th October

British and American troops fired into crowds of rioting former Iraqi
soldiers in Basra and Baghdad yesterday, killing one man in each city.

In both places unrest broke out as the ex-soldiers, out of a job since the
Iraqi army was dissolved in May, were queuing for hours to collect a
promised pay-off of $40 each. A British military spokesman, Major Simon
Routledge, said that in the Basra incident a British soldier heard gunfire
and then shot and killed an Iraqi holding a weapon. Troops also fired rubber
bullets to disperse the crowd.

In Baghdad hundreds of Iraqis threw stones and charged towards American
soldiers, who fired in the air and beat them back with batons. "Get out of
here. It is very dangerous," said a harassed Iraqi police officer as he
stood beside the burned-out remains of a police car.

In the nearby Yarmuk hospital Hussein Hatem, an ex-soldier, was lying on a
bed with an X ray clutched to his chest showing that he had two bullets
lodged in his thigh. "It started when one man went to get a drink of water
after we had been queuing for five hours," said Mr Hatem. "The US soldiers
wouldn't let him get back in the line and beat him and us with long batons
and electric cattle prods. Then we started throwing stones at them and they
fired back."

The riot shows how friction between Iraqis and occupation troops can easily
explode into violence, even when the authorities hand out money with the aim
of defusing tensions. A few hours earlier, an attack on American troops with
rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns left one US soldier dead and
another wounded.

At one stage during the riot the ex-soldiers, all conscripts, began the old
pro-Saddam chant: "With our spirit, with blood we will be your martyrs O
Saddam." Walid Jabber, a by stander, said bitterly: "I am a Shia from
Nasiriyah, but I would like to bring back Saddam." Probably many of those
chanting pro-Saddam slogans do so primarily to annoy the Americans, though
it is unlikely that they knew what the ex-soldiers were shouting about.

In the wake of the riot, gangs of demonstrators roamed the prosperous
al-Mansour suburb attacking drink stores, four of which were reported to
have been burned out.

The thousands of Iraqi police recruited by the Coalition Provisional
Authority (CPA) have reduced the amount of looting and armed robbery in the
capital, but the pin-prick guerrilla attacks are also becoming better
organised. Members of the US-appointed Governing Council, fearful of
assassination, are all living in heavily guarded houses.

A long line of 15ft high concrete slabs now protects Saddam's old Republican
Palace, the CPA headquarters, where it overlooks the Tigris river. As under
the old regime swimming in the river, an unhealthy pursuit in any case
because of raw sewage, is once again forbidden because of fear of underwater
saboteurs.


http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/nation/6932974.htm

*  U.S. TROOPS, IRAQI MILITIAS AT ODDS OVER SECURITY ROLES
by Drew Brown
Philadelphia Inquirer, 5th October

BAGHDAD - Shiite Muslim militiamen swagger in increasing numbers through the
streets around Baghdad's mosques and elsewhere in Iraq these days, openly
carrying AK-47 rifles, pistols and other weapons in defiance of the
U.S.-backed Coalition Provisional Authority.

"Our position is that we are not going to tolerate militias," Lt. Gen.
Ricardo Sanchez, the top coalition commander, said Thursday. "And where we
find them, we are going to go ahead and disarm them."

The militias threaten to undermine the central authority of the U.S.-led
coalition. They are becoming a headache for American troops and a nascent
Iraqi security apparatus struggling to establish law and order six months
after Saddam Hussein's ouster.

And American forces are not sure how to respond: If they crack down too
hard, they risk more armed confrontations, a situation that could spin out
of control quickly.

Iraq is awash in guns, and there are many armed groups associated with the
various political parties, especially with the powerful exiles on Iraq's
interim Governing Council. But the resurgent Shiite militias are a special
case. Long persecuted under Saddam, they are relishing their newfound
political and social freedom, and many vow to die rather than give up those
liberties.

On Wednesday, U.S. soldiers exchanged fire with a group of about 50
militiamen and police at a Baghdad mosque. Miraculously, no one was hurt,
and the soldiers withdrew to avoid risking a bloody confrontation.

The exchange illustrates the fine line that American troops must tread in
trying to establish security while avoiding inflaming tensions with the
country's Shiite majority, whose cooperation is essential to a stable future
in the country.

It also underscores that in dealing with these new vigilante gangs, U.S.-led
forces may find themselves in the cross hairs of the newly established Iraqi
police forces.

Torn between loyalties, the police are more likely to side with their
countrymen.

According to witnesses, Wednesday's incident began after American soldiers
in a humvee and an artillery ammunition carrier arrived before dusk to
investigate a demonstration at al Bayai mosque, in a southwestern Baghdad
slum populated mostly by Shiites. Soldiers had tried to arrest Sheik Moayed
al Khazraji, a militant cleric there, two days earlier but were chased away
by an angry crowd. When soldiers arrived Wednesday, a cleric with a bullhorn
was whipping up the crowd.

"If we give you the order, are you ready to fight the Americans?" witnesses
quoted the cleric as saying. "Are you willing to be crushed by American
tanks? Are you ready to fight for Islam?"

When the U.S. soldiers arrived, the crowd surged toward them, pelting their
vehicles with stones. A soldier on one vehicle responded by firing a
.50-caliber machine gun over the demonstrators' heads.

The situation gave the Iraqi police officers standing about 100 yards away
little choice, the officers said.

"When they 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."

Sanchez said this was the first he was aware of Iraqi police deliberately
firing on American soldiers.

The militias formed mainly in Baghdad and the southern city of Najaf, about
90 miles south of Baghdad and home to the holiest shrine of the Shiite
branch of Islam, after the assassination Aug. 29 of Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir
al Hakim.

Hakim was a Saddam foe who led the 10,000-strong Badr Brigade, an exile
group that fought on the side of the Iranians in their 1980-88 war with Iraq
and waged a low-level guerrilla campaign against Saddam in southern Iraq for
years afterward. Hakim died in a car bombing outside the Najaf shrine that
killed at least 78 other people and wounded more than 100.

After American-led forces ousted Saddam, the Badr Brigade voluntarily
disarmed. But after Hakim was assassinated, its members began appearing in
the streets of Najaf, frustrated by the lack of protection from coalition
forces.

In Baghdad, coalition authorities have yet to deal effectively with a
problem that took shape Aug. 31 during Hakim's funeral at the city's
Khadimiya mosque, a prominent Shiite shrine in the northwest of the city: As
hundreds of thousands of mourners packed the streets, hundreds of armed Badr
Brigade militiamen were posted in the crowd and dozens kept a tight security
cordon around Hakim's coffin.

U.S. soldiers had stayed away to avoid angering the crowd. And they have cut
a wide swath around the mosque in the weeks since Hakim's death.


http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/E863D707-E5F3-4D67-9DE2
621D7DA2A4E6.htm

*  ATTACK TARGETS IRAQI SHIA PARTY
Aljazeera (from AFP), 7th October

An employee of Iraq's main Shia political grouping has died after an
explosion at the party's offices in the northerncity of Kirkuk.

The worker was killed in the suspected resistance attack targetting the
Supreme Assembly for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SAIRI).

Mortarshells slammed into the party's office, killing Khalil Karam Hasnawi,
29, and wounded a second person, said SAIRI's chief Izz al-Din Musa in
Kirkuk.

"The goal of these attacks is to wreck the future of Iraqis and disturb
security," he said in the oil-rich town, 255km north of Baghdad.

Musa claimed the attacks were carried out by al-Qaida. US occupying forces
and Shia groupingsin Iraq regularly blame incidents on al-Qaida and
Baathist elements.

SAIRI's leader Ayat Allah Muhammad Bakr al-Hakim was killed, along with
about 83 civilians, inan Augustcar bombing in Najaf.

SAIRI is represented on the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, amove
which has angered both Sunnis and Shias in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq.

Later in the day an explosion hit the foreign ministry buildingin Baghdad
and gunfire was heard in the area, reported an AFP correspondent.

The compound is near a USmilitarybase.

"One mortar hit inside the compound," said Police Captain Ali
Khadim. "There were no casualties."

Khadim said the bomb landed inside the complex but did not hit the ministry
building.


http://www.jordantimes.com/Tue/news/news5.htm

*  US CLOSES NOTORIOUS BAGHDAD PRISON CAMP
Jordan Times, 7th October
    
BAGHDAD (AFP)  The US military said Monday it shut down a makeshift prison
camp at Baghdad airport that had drawn criticism for the conditions in which
hundreds of Iraqis were held in tents in the scorching Iraqi summer heat.

"It has been closed," said US military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel George
Krivo, adding that the prisoners already had been moved out and that troops
were busy dismantling the facility.

The camp, which housed common criminals, former ranking members of the
ousted Iraqi regime and others accused of attacking US troops, was sharply
criticised by human rights groups after former detainees said they were held
in inhuman conditions.

Krivo said the prisoners were moved to "superior facilities" that were not
available when the camp was set up in April.

This, he said, was in line with US policy to provide detainees with "the
best possible facilities."

Amnesty International said in June that the conditions in which the
prisoners were held at the camp "may amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment, banned by international law."

The International Committee of the Red Cross, whose representatives had
visited the prisoners at the camp, said it would continue monitoring
detention conditions.

"We will closely follow the issue and the people transferred from this
prison camp," said Nada Doumani, an ICRC spokeswoman in Baghdad.

Human rights groups say Camp Cropper was one of the biggest detention
facilities in US occupied Iraq, alongside Abu Gharib prison near Baghdad.

Surrounded by razor wire, the camp housed supporters of ousted President
Saddam Hussein as well as suspected looters who ransacked the capital after
the April 9 fall of his regime.

Among the high-profile prisoners who spent time at the camp was former
Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz, according to human rights groups.

Former inmates described conditions as only fit for animals, saying they
were crowded in canvas tents in heat that soared above 50 degrees
centigrade, and had to use holes dug in the ground as latrines.

One of the men detained at the camp earlier this year told AFP that
prisoners who committed the slightest misdemeanour were made to stand in the
sun for hours, their ankles and wrists tied.

"The worst offenders had their hands tied behind their backs and were put
face down on the ground in the sun for two hours," Qays Al Saiman, 54, said
in July.

US officials said last month they were holding 10,000 prisoners in Iraq,
including about 4,400 classified as "security detainees," described as
people who attacked or planned attacks against coalition forces.

"Generally speaking, security detainees are held separately from other
detainees," said Krivo.


NO URL

*  CHRISTIAN TRANSLATOR KILLED IN IRAQ, BRANDED AS A TRAITOR
Associated Press, 3rd October

Napoleon, a translator for the U.S. Army, was shot to death, along with his
16-year-old son, early Thursday in Khaldiyah by four men. The victims were
sleeping on the sidewalk next to their house to escape the heat.

Napoleon's family is Christian and uses Western names, hence his unusual
name. Relatives set up a tent outside his home to receive condolences next
to a wall riddled with bullet holes and stained with dried blood.

''He was killed because he was a spy and a traitor,'' said a neighbor. He
and other townspeople spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing they might be
targeted in any vendetta.

Since the ouster of Saddam Hussein's regime and the capture of Baghdad in
early April, Fallujah and Khaldiyah, part of the notorious ''Sunni
Triangle,'' have become a center for anti-American sentiment, with attacks
against U.S. troops an almost daily occurrence.

Working with the U.S. troops is risky business in the region, with vendors
advised against selling much-needed ice to the Americans. U.S. soldiers also
have been refused entry to some restaurants in Fallujah.

Even motorists are warned to stay well away from U.S. military convoys
passing through the area.

Napoleon's family say he was killed not because he was working for the
Americans, but because he was a member of the country's Christian minority.

Napoleon was a former major in Saddam Hussein's al-Quds ( Jerusalem ) Army,
a militia force that supposedly included millions of volunteer fighters as a
backup to the regular army.

''He was my officer in the al-Quds Army, and we considered him part of our
family, until he began working with the Americans,'' said the neighbor, a
carpenter.

Others in the area said Napoleon was warned several times to quit his job
with the Americans, including once when a percussion grenade was thrown next
to his house.

''Warning leaflets were sent to him, and people talked to him, asked him to
quit, but he wouldn't. I think he was happy with the wages,'' said another
neighbor.

Translators are paid an average of $300 a month, a large sum by Iraqi
standards.

Napoleon's brother blamed the Americans for his brother's death.

''When the Americans kill Muslims, we pay the price. Muslims can't get to
the Americans, so they target the Christians,'' he said.

Neighbors insist otherwise.

''Why wasn't his brother killed? It was not his religion that killed him, it
was his line of work. That was his doom,'' said the carpenter.


http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=1512&ncid=1276&e=2&u=/afp/20
031007/wl_afp/iraq_worldwrap

*  VIOLENCE RAGES IN IRAQ AS UN BALKS AT US RESOLUTION
Yahoo, 7th October

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Three more US soldiers and an Iraqi translator were reported
killed in bomb attacks in Iraq (news - web sites), while a mortar targetted
the foreign ministry, as efforts to stabilize and rebuild the war-torn
country remained in political limbo.

[.....]

Two US soldiers attached to the 82nd Airborne Division and an Iraqi
interpreter were killed and two were wounded in al-Haswah, just west of
Baghdad, at approximately 10:40 pm (0740 GMT) Monday, a US military
statement said.

Less than an hour earlier at Ramadi, a flashpoint town 110 kilometres (66
miles) west of Baghdad, a soldier from the 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment had
been killed and another wounded, also in a bomb attack, a military
spokesperson said.

The military also said a US soldier was wounded in a bomb attack south of
Baghdad on Monday while three others were wounded by a blast as they
patrolled ousted president Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s home town of
Tikrit, north of the capital.

The deaths brought to 92 the number of US soldiers killed in combat since US
President George W. Bush (news - web sites) declared official hostilities
over on May 1.

[.....]


JUAN COLE'S CORNER

http://www.juancole.com/

*  Juan Cole - Informed Comment

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

[.....]

 Riots in Baghdad

Rioting continued for the third day in Baghdad, this time by nearly 2000
former members of the Iraqi secret police, who want their jobs back.

In southwestern Baghdad, a thousand Shiites staged a sit-in at the Ali Kazem
al Bayai mosque to protest the arrest of their prayer leader, Shaikh Moayad
al-Khazraji, by US troops. They blocked a road near the mosque. The US
military claimed to have found weapons stockpiled in the mosque. Al-Khazraji
is a follower of the radical Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr. The
demonstrators threatened to return with guns on Wednesday if al Khazraji
were not released. He had been taken into custody briefly last week, then
released, and that incarceration had also produced demonstrations. According
to AP, 2 CPA sport utility vehicles showed up at 4 pm, and appear to have
been accosted by the Shiite crowd, leading to a gunfight in which grenades
also exploded, lasting over a quarterof an hour. The protesters stood their
ground. At night, 200 US soldiers went in to seal off the area, backed by
helicopters and six M1A2 tanks.

More protesters came. More US troops showed up. The standoff ceased with the
advent of the midnight curfew.

CPA administrator Paul Bremer lamely characterized all this violence as mere
"demonstrations" and said "we have demonstrations in all democracies
throughout the world." I know it is his job to try to put lipstick on this
pig of security situation, but surely a diplomat of his experience could
have found a less transparently phony response?

We don't in fact often see grenades tossed into the French foreign ministry
or M1A2 tanks accosting radical Catholic protesters in front of the Notre
Dame, or riots in the Tuilleries by 2000 former French intelligence agents.


 Turkish Troops Rejected "Unanimously" by Iraqi Governing Council

The complete powerlessness and irrelevancy of the so-called Interim
Governing Council was demonstrated Wednesday when the US welcomed the
Turkish parliament's offer of peace enforcing troops for Iraq.

The American-appointed IGC, which supposedly oversees Iraqi government
ministries, has repeatedly said it does not want troops in Iraq from
neighboring countries. Kurdish IGC member Mahmoud Othman said, according to
the Australian edn. of the Daily Telegraph, "The council is unanimous in
issuing a communique against the sending of Turkish forces to Iraq. It is
the wrong thing to do. It does not add to security. It is not useful. This
is our (the council's) position and it is unanimous."

Interim Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari had rejected the prospect of Turkish
troops several weeks ago.

Masoud Barzani, head of the Kurdish Democratic Party, condemned the idea of
Turkish troops in Iraq, saying it would not add to security, but rather
"will create problems we do not need." He said the US will bear the
responsibility if, as a result, the security situation deteriorated, and
would have to answer the questions that would be raised by the Iraqi people.
(-al-Zaman)

The Independent reported, "In a rebuttal of claims by American and British
officials that real authority has been delegated to Iraqis, Mr Othman said:
"The general council does not have much power and if you don't have real
authority you lack credibility. We will be seen by Iraqis as puppets." As an
example he said the CPA had decided to send 30,000 Iraqi policemen to be
trained in Jordan at a cost of $1.3bn (780m) in the teeth of objections
from the council. "We don't agree with it," said Mr Othman. "We could train
them for one third of the money. The US wants to do a favour to the
Jordanians at our expense. In any case, Jordanians are generally
pro-Saddam." He added that there was a complete lack of transparency on how
the CPA and the Pentagon were spending funds in Iraq, opening up
opportunities for corruption. "The US Congress is supposed to give $20bn to
Iraq but the Iraqis have no say in how it is spent," Mr Othman said. He
believes the best solution is not for the US to leave entirely but to pull
its soldiers out of the cities."

This episode, as Othman implies, demonstrates conclusively that the IGC has
no authority whatsoever and is a mere creature of the American
administration. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in a fatwa issued on Monday had
underlined its lack of legitimacy, insofar as it is not elected.

Meanwhile, 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.
See:

http://www.globalpetroleum.com.au/

This way of proceeding is really quite extraordinary.


 Iranian Factions divided on which Iraqi Shiites to support

According to al-Sharq al-Awsat, reformist president Ali Khatami of Iran is
supporting Abdul Aziz al-Hakim of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution
in Iraq, and had invited him to Iran. It says the reformists had refused to
meet with the radical Muqtada al-Sadr on his visit to Iran last June,
whereas many hardliners supported Muqtada and continue to do so.

Al-Sharq al-Awsat maintains that the hardliners in Iran, including the
Revolutionary Guards, the Quds Brigade, and the security unit attached to
Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei, had grown cold toward the al-Hakims in
recent weeks. The reason was that the al-Hakims had refused to serve as
tools of Iran in Iraq and had insisted on the Supreme Council for Islamic
Revolution in Iraq having a seat on the American-appointed Interim Governing
Council. He says that Khamenei had sent a delegation to Najaf to represent
him there, and had wanted Abdul Aziz al-Hakim to subordinate himself to it
and to him after the assassination of his elder brother, Muhammad Baqir
al-Hakim, on August 29. Khamenei is represented in Najaf by Ayatollah Ali
al-Haeri. Khamenei and his circle felt that SCIRI should be led by an Object
of Emulation (a cleric who is followed by many laymen), and Abdul Aziz
al-Hakim lacks this stature. By accepting Ali al-Haeri as the SCIRI
spiritual guide, he could have repaired that gap.

Al-Sharq al-Awsat also alleges that the Revolutionary Guards are supporting
the radical Sunni Ansar al-Islam group, and that al-Hakim pleaded with them
to stop doing so. I don't find the allegation plausible, and often find that
in its Iran coverage the newspaper reports such conspiracy theories
uncritically, apparently because its Iranian sources wish to have the
Americans overthrow the ayatollahs.

SCIRI and the al-Hakims have long had good relations with Khamenei and the
hardliners, and I am not entirely sure that the shift that al-Sharq al-Awsat
reports is so clear or absolute as this article makes it seem. Muhammad
Baqir al-Hakim had accepted the Khomeinist doctrine of the Rule of the
Cleric, which Ali Sistani and others in the Najaf tradition reject. I doubt
Abdul Aziz has changed his mind about this, and the doctrine puts him closer
to the hardliners in Iran than to the reformers. On the other hand, it is
true that the Iranian hardliners would be upset about Abdul Aziz serving on
the Interim Governing Council. But then the Iranians are also said to be
giving money to Ahmad Chalabi, who also serves on the IGC, so how upset
could they be?


 Waxman, Corporations Angry about Tender Process in Iraq

The American-Iraqi Chamber of Commerce, the ambassador to the US of Qatar,
several US companies, and Henry Waxman are all angry about the lack of
transparency and the appearance of cronyism in the tendering of contracts
for Iraqi reconstruction. Sam Kubba of the chamber of commerce said,
"Sometimes we feel that they are just going through the motions and that a
decision has already been made." Kubba said tenders issued by the CPA, in
which bids sometimes had to be submitted within a couple of days, were often
a logistical nightmare as communications problems prevented companies from
getting their bids in on time. "The impression you get with such short lead
times is that it's already been given to someone and therefore they don't
mind giving such notice," he said. "I think everything should be as
transparent as possible.""

http://www.forbes.com/work/newswire/2003/10/07/rtr1101978.html

One thing that confuses me is that Kubba is talking about the tenders being
issued by the CPA. I thought they were all done in Washington by US AID or
the Army Corps of Engineers?

Meanwhile, Representative Henry Waxman has issued a wide-ranging letter
incisively criticizing what he says is an unresponsiveness of US AID and
other tendering agencies, as well as giving evidence that substantial
amounts of money are being wasted in Iraq. See:

http://www.mees.com/postedarticles/oped/a46n40d02.htm


Tuesday, October 07, 2003

 Attacks on US, Bulgarian Troops in Kirkuk and Karbala; Firefight in Beiji

Guerrillas fired grenade launchers at Bulgarian troops in Karbala and at US
troops in Kirkuk on Monday. Early Monday morning grenades fell on a city
square where US troops were deployed in the northern, largely Kurdish city.
The US took no casualties in the attack. Rioting unemployed Iraqi former
military men were dispersed by US troops in Kirkuk, who killed two of them.

In the southern Shiite shrine city of Karbala, a camp used by the 500
Bulgarian troops was fired on around 5 am. Bulgarian troops in Karbala have
repeatedly come under fire since they deployed to the city, but have
suffered no casualties. They say they expect further attacks as hundreds of
Iranian pilgrims come to the shrine city on pilgrimage next week. (al Zaman,
Novinite).

In the oil refining town of Beiji in the Sunni Arab region, the 4th Infantry
Division had been pinned down Sunday for 75 minutes by fierce rounds of rpg,
mortar and light arms fire. Remnants of the Fedayeen Saddam appear to have
been part of the attacking force. As in Baghdad, Basra and Hilla, there had
been riots by unemployed soldiers seeking $40 in severance pay from the US
on Saturday, which led to the more extreme fighting on Sunday. Iraqi police
from nearby Tikrit who tried to come to the rescue could not get close. Only
the arrival of US helicopter gunships turned the tide. On Monday the US
reinstated a police chief it had dismissed several months before, in hopes
he could restore order. He immediately met with clan chieftains to discuss
their demands.


 Al-Hakim Calls for Iranian Role

Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, member of the Interim Governing Council and head of the
Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, called in a statement
distributed to politicians and clerics in Iran for that country to play a
major role in Iraqi reconstruction. Al-Hakim said that Iran had stood with
the Iraqi people against the Baath regime throughout the past two decades.
He said that the old historical ties between the two countries make it
natural for Iran to contribute in key ways to putting Iraq back on its feet.
Al-Hakim is a hardliner close to Iran's Supreme Jurisprudent, Ali Khamenei.
But he met Monday with the Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, reformist
Mehdi Karrubi.

The US has been conducting secret back channel talks with Iran about this
very possibility. Robin Wright notes in a recent LA Times article, "Iran
will participate in an international donors conference this month in Madrid,
and may end up as one of the few aid contributors. It is already offering to
provide water, electricity and technical assistance to Iraq, a top Iranian
diplomat said Friday." (Reference below).

Wright quotes Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi as criticizing the
drumbeat against Iran of Paul Bremer, which makes me wonder if he really has
been involved in the opening to Iran. It seems mainly to be supported by the
State Department. If George W. Bush has authorized State to reach out to
Iran over the objections of both Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and of
Mr. Bremer, this change would be momentous. It would suggest that Colin
Powell is gaining greater credibility with the White House, after a long
period in which the Defense Department has been allowed to virtually usurp
Department of State functions in places like Iraq. The shift may also have
something to do with the new authority being granted National Security
Council adviser Condoleeza Rice over reconstruction and security in
Afghanistan and Iraq.

Al-Hakim also complained that the major problem in Iraq remains a lack of
security. He said that the US cannot provide that security, and, indeed,
could not even protect its own troops. He urged again that the Shiite
paramilitary associated with his party, the Badr Corps, be allowed to
conduct armed patrols and provide security. The US has been adamantly
against such a step.


 Najaf Religious Authorities Rebuke IGC on Nationalities Law

The Interim Governing Council issued a new law on Iraqi nationality in
September, allowing dual citizenship. A number of the IGC members have dual
citizenship, which was prohibited under the Baath regime, and holders of
dual nationality were forbidden to hold office. The new law also allows
someone to become an Iraqi citizen even when his or her parents are unknown.

The law has drawn a sharp rebuke from the office of Grand Ayatollah Ali
Sistani and his colleagues in Najaf, who issued a fatwa or ruling denouncing
the new law. The fatwa reminds the IGC that it has no legitimacy, since it
has neither been recognized by the Najaf religious authorities nor been
recognized by the Iraqi people through any sort of election. It says that
the IGC should stick to issues such as security and services, and that it
has no business attempting to legislate broadly, more especially when its
legislation contradicts Shiite law. (-al-Sharq al-Awsat).

The fatwa is not so important for its stance on the nationality law as for
what it says about the Interim Governing Council's standing. Sistani has for
the first time openly said that the IGC lacks legitimacy and that he has
declined to give it his approval. He has also indicated that any Iraqi
government could become legitimate only if it were both elected and approved
by the religious institution.


 Process of Writing New Constitution Delayed

Seemingly irreconcilable differences will delay the writing of an Iraqi
constitution, says journalist Ahmad Mukhtar in Iraq Today. He says that the
Shiites on the Interim Governing Council demand that the drafters of the
constitution be elected. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani suggested recently that
a delegate be chosen on a proportional basis for each 100,000 Iraqis, based
on the 1997 census. (That would yield a constitutional convention of 250
delegates). Abdul Aziz al-Hakim of SCIRI has strongly insisted on elected
drafters. In contrast, the five Kurdish representatives are afraid of a
tyranny of the Shiite majority and want an appointed constitutional
committee that will safeguard the rights of minorities. "Dara Nurridin, a
Kurdish GC member, said he preferred "convention members to be selected from
among legal experts, academics and politicians rather than by popular
election." The Kurds also want a loose Federal system with substantial
provincial rights for the Kurds. Many of the Shiite representatives prefer a
strong central government.

I suspect that the IGC will go on wrangling about this issue for a long
time. No one in the Iraqi National Congress things that a constitution can
be written in six months, as Colin Powell suggested. Hell, it will take 6
months at this rate to decide how to choose the drafters.

I believe that the prospect of this delay actually pleases many in the Bush
administration, since they wish to put a strong American stamp on Iraq
before turning it over to a newly elected government. Paul Bremer came in
intending to rule the country himself for two years or so. He may
essentially get to do just that, despite having been forced to acquiesce in
the appointment of the IGC, just because the IGC cannot get its act
together. On the other hand, Bush himself may wish he could be shut of Iraq
as an issue by summer of 2004, so that it doesn't become a burden to his
reelection chances. He was assured by the neocons that Iraq would be a cake
walk and that the US would be able to keep just 25,000 troops there after
the war ended.

The US could, if it wanted, hold early elections under a modified version of
a previous Iraqi constitution, and allow the constitution-writing to happen
later. This is what the French, the Germans, the Saudis and others want. The
Bush administration's unwillingness to take that route has so far caused its
search for a new UN resolution on Iraq to fail. The draft presented was
openly attacked by UN Secretary General for marginalizing the UN, and seems
dead in the water. In turn, the US cannot hope for substantial donations of
troops or money for Iraq without the legitimacy bestowed by a UN SC
resolution.

[.....]


 Jordanian Islamists ask Government not to Train Iraqi Police

Jordan's Islamists asked the government of King Abdullah II not to train
30,000 Iraqi police, as is now planned. They said it was inappropriate given
that Iraq is occupied, since it would just help the US consolidate its
colonial position in Iraq. (-al-Sharq al-Awsat).

References

http://www.novinite.com/newsletter/print.php?id=26801

Robin Wright on Iran and Iraq

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/iraq/la-fg-usiran4oct04-1.story

Delays in writing Iraqi Constitution

http://www.iraq-today.com/article.php?id=11

New Iraqi nationality law

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2003-10/01/content_1108999.htm


Monday, October 06, 2003

 Unemployment Riots in Baghdad and Basra for Second Day

Hundreds of former soldiers rioted in Basra and demonstrated in Baghdad on
Sunday, after similar violence on Saturday in Basra, Baghdad and Hilla. In
Basra, four hundred men closed the main road. British troops fired rubber
bullents to disperse them, wounding five people. At one point an enraged
crowd pursued hapless Iraqi police into a university building when the
officers ran out of ammunition.

The former soldiers say that they have run out of money and are depending on
the US stipends of $40 a month. On Saturday, the riots were provoked by
rumors that the payments would not be made to everyone, or that this was the
last such payment. Payments could not be made on Sunday in Basra because the
list of those who would receive them had been destroyed in the riots of the
previous day. (-Reuters, al-Zaman).


 Secret Deal between US and Iran on Iraq

The United States entered into secret negotiations with the Iranian regime
with regard to Iraq, according to al-Zaman. It said that Iranian Foreign
Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asafi gave an interview in which he detailed
the negotiations. The paper alleges that Iran agreed to cease interfering in
Iraq. In particular, it stopped its secret police and Revolutionary Guards
from continuing to establish nodes of influence in Shiite cities like Najaf
and Karbala. In return, Washington would recognize Iran's legitimate role in
the region and would negotiate in good faith about a number outstanding
issues between the two countries. Chief among these is the US concern that
Iran has a secret nuclear weapons program. Iran has made conciliatory noises
about signing the additional protocol to the Nonproliferation Treaty. US
Secretary of State Colin Powell had recently signalled Washington's
willingness to talk to Iran.

It is hard to know what to make of all this. It seems to me that there were
probably three parties contributing to Iran policy in Washington. The
Department of Defense has spoken belligerantly about Iran, and it appears
from what Wesley Clark says that Rumsfeld and company developed a plan for
seven wars after September 11, with Iran being one of them. Soon after
Saddam fell, Fox Cable News began setting up Iran and Syria as the next
targets, usually a sign of a campaign on the Right. Even before then,
Richard Perle had fingered Iran, in February:

"The United States will not be satisfied with toppling Saddam Hussein, but
also seeks to change other regimes throughout the Arab world. Richard Perle,
chairman of the U.S. Defense Advisory Board, said the regimes include those
in Iran, Libya and Syria. Perle told Arab journalists during a trip to
London last week that the U.S. tactic would differ for each country. Perle,
who is close to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, is said to be one of the
architects in the Bush administration on the policy of the toppling of the
Saddam regime, Middle East Newsline reported."

http://216.26.163.62/2003/ss_mideast_02_25.html

Perle's views are interesting because he is at a powerful nexus of the Likud
Party in Israel, which would be the main beneficiary of the seven wars, and
WASP hawks like Rumsfeld in Washington, who have their own reasons for
wanting them. Desire to overthrow the Tehran government seems likely to have
been in part behind the campaign to tag it with attempting to develop
weapons of mass destruction, which is the new capital crime for regimes
among the hanging judges in the Department of Defense.

But there are two other major policy-making centers. One is the State
Department and the other is the Coalition Provisional Government, headed by
Paul Bremer. Bremer has repeatedly warned Iran publicly against interfering
in Iraq. The US has expressed concerns about the activities of Iranian
intelligence in cities like Karbala. There is evidence of Iranian support
for the Badr Brigade and for the radical, Muqtada al-Sadr and his movement.
If the Shiite South became as unstable as the Sunni Arab Triangle, that
would possibly sink the whole US enterprise in Iraq. So from Bremer's point
of view, neutralizing an Iranian-inspired Shiite militancy is highly
desirable.

My guess is that the Perle/Rumsfeld plan for seven wars has been put on hold
because the aftermath in Iraq has not gone well. The Bush administration is
highly vulnerable to Iranian mischief-making, which if crafted well could be
done in such a way as to cost Bush the presidency in 2004. (The Iranians may
well have deliberately helped Reagan beat Carter, by being intransigent on
the embassy hostages, in 1980, so they are old hands at this sort of thing).

So Bremer would have been frantically signalling to Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz
that he needs Iran on board if his mission isn't to collapse and maybe take
the Bush administration down with it. If I am right that Bremer's voice is
heard in this respect, it would parallel the ways in which the British
Government of India often influenced British foreign policy, with Calcutta
being a policy-making center in addition to London.

Moreover, with 130,000 US troops pinned down in Iraq, the US simply doesn't
have the military capacity to attack and hold Iran. (Rumsfeld may have
insisted the brass take Iraq with so few troops to prove that future such
missions, e.g. to Tehran and Damascus, could also be accomplished with only
7 or 8 divisions, since he knew that after Iraq he was unlikely to have the
13 or 14 divisions the Pentagon officer corps preferred for such missions.
Ironically, his insistence on such a small force may well have derailed the
later plans, since the US troops were not numerous enough to establish order
in post-Baath Iraq and so got bogged down. Rumsfeld had hoped to get all but
a division or so back out by fall of 2003, i.e., by about now. Instead, he
still has 130,000 troops tied up in Iraq and is having to call up an extra
division of reserves).

If the hawks in Defense have to postpone their plans to Deal With Tehran,
then the only alternative is to send in the State Department to find some
way to trade some horses and get relations with the mullahs back to some
semblance of normalcy. Instead of acting like a Revolutionary Power
(Kissinger's characterization of France under the Revolutionary and
Napoleonic regimes) in the Middle East, as planned, the US might have to go
back to being a status quo power. Even if Bush wins again in 2004, it is not
clear that it will have the military resources to go after Iran, Syria and
the others on the list. That will only be possible if a stable government
with its own effective military emerges in Iraq in the short term, which is
capable of blunting further Iranian moves. That development seems unlikely
at all, but especially unlikely before 2006. It is possible that the hawks
hope to go after the remaining targets at that time, if the political
situation permits.

On the other side, the Iranians are giving money to a range of Iraqi
political figures, from Ahmad Chalabi to Muqtada al-Sadr. It is hard to see
how it is in their interest to stop, since they need the influence this
money buys for future contingencies.

If this analysis is correct, then the Iranians are faced with a dilemma. If
they do indeed back off from mischief-making in Iraq now, they may simply be
hastening the time when Rumsfeld feels strong enough to take out Tehran.
They have to get more out of the deal than a simple postponement of the
American war on them, if it is to be worth their while. But there is no
obvious way to tie Rumsfeld's hands as to what he will do in 2006.

The only thing they could realistically get out of such an arrangement that
would actually protect them would be US permission to develop a nuclear
weapon, and such permission seems highly unlikely to be granted, even if
Iran had this capability in the short term, which seems unlikely.

For these reasons, I am personally pessimistic that any US truce with Iran
over Iraq will hold.

References

Hirst on Syria:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1056693,00.html


Sunday, October 05, 2003

[.....]

 Iraqis Forbidden to work for Some US Contractors

The New York Times finally broke the story on Saturday of the US rebuilding
efforts in Iraq being overly expensive because there is a failure to use
experienced, reasonably priced Iraqi contractors. The situation is even
worse than the Times suggested, however. It isn't just that some contracts
are going to high-priced American firms. Rather, in some instances Iraqis
may be being positively discriminated against as "security risks." So first
they were supposed to dance in the streets at the US presence, and now they
cannot even be trusted to rebuild their own country? Here is what an
observer in Iraq says:

"[Some] American subcontractors here . . . who are working for . . . US
contractors . . . are prohibited from using Iraqi labor, contractors, or
equipment for some US military jobs. Iraqi nationals are considered a
security risk at some sites, so Indian and Sri Lankan laborers are brought
in from Kuwait. I don't know how extensive this is, or what percentage of
military projects it applies to. Iraqi equipment (such as trucks and cranes)
are also considered a risk, so some companies are bringing in equipment from
Kuwait (checked for bombs before entering Iraq - this simplifies the convoy
process and means the equipment does not need to be checked again after
arriving at the site) and elsewhere instead of using and paying Iraqi
companies and operators. I heard from a reliable source that the US military
has a list of nationalities prohibited from working on (some?) military
sites in Iraq, a list that now includes IRAQIS! Aside from the usual
suspects (Cubans, Vietnamese, Sudanese, etc), Chinese are also curiously
included. I understand why some foreign contracting companies are hesitant
to use Iraqi companies - many are fly-by-night operations, other simply
don't know how to work with Westerners (often a lack of Western-style
accounting procedures and supervising, poor quality-control, inability to
provide quick quotes, etc). But, it also appears that institutional
hindrances are being put on reconstruction companies that might want to use
Iraqi labor. I have heard of competitive Iraqi bids rejected because they
are 'Iraqi,' and hence a possible security risk. The British and American
militaries (I've heard, no one will confirm this for me) won't use Iraqi
cooks or even let them near kitchens - fear of poisoning."
For other stories on contracts see

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=68&ncid=68&e=2&u=/nyt/200310
04/ts_nyt/questionsareraisedonawardingofcontractsiniraq

and

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/story.jsp?story=450118


 Sadrists Have Some Tribal Support in Southern Cities

I often get asked by journalists and others whether Muqtada al-Sadr should
be taken seriously, or whether he is just a young punk with some ruffians
around him, as the Najaf religious elite maintains. His competitors include
Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. One informed observer in Iraq says, "The
majority of Shiites I ask say they look first towards Sistani for guidance,
but I do not know what that means since he is not organized olitically on
the ground.. Arab journalists have suggested that Sistani's support is
strongest among the middle aged and elderly, and among the middle classes.

Another of Muqtada's competitors is the Supreme Council for Islamic
Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which has a paramilitary oganization, the Badr
Corps. These are led by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, who was in Tehran in exile for
two decades but is now back and has a seat on the Interim Governing Council.

Muqtada was backed earlier this year by Ayatollah Kazim al-Haeri, who lives
in exile in Qom, though there were rumors that the two had broken off
relations in July. Al-Haeri led the clerical wing of the al-Da`wa Party and
may come back to Iraq eventually, as a power in his own right.

My firm impression from everything I've seen is that Muqtada and his
followers, the Sadrists, are a force to reckon with. They are perhaps
dominant in East Baghdad, population 2-3 million. They have serious strength
in the poorer parts of Basra. Since 25% of Basrans are said to favor an
Islamic republic, I suspect a lot of those are Sadrists. Because Muqtada has
many followers among the young slum dwellers of Baghdad, his ideas are
spreading through them to the countryside. Many of the families in East
Baghdad are recent immigrants, and retain tribal ties and loyalties. One
Arab journalist wrote this summer of the way that a Sadrist youth went back
to his village to meet with his tribal shaikh, and converted the shaikh to
Sadrism. An observer in Iraq confirms that this sort of movement is afoot.
He writes that a:

"sheik from Amara says that SCIRI has no support in Amarah and that his
tribesmen consider the Badr Corps Iranian mercs. I heard that most of the
Badr Corps in Najaf speak Farsi, not Arabic (although everyone says Najaf
and Karbala are calm). The border with Iran is not secure, anyone can come
and go as they like (many carjacked SUVs end up in Iran). His tribesmen in
Amarah and Saddam/Sadr city almost universally support Muqtada al Sadr. I
asked him what would happen if Kazim Ha'eri returned from Qom and there was
a split between him and Moqtada al-Sadr. He said everyone in Amarah and his
tribesmen in Sadr City would back Moqtada al-Sadr, despite his age and
learning, because of his father."

Muqtada demands an immediate US departure and seeks an Iran-style Islamic
Republic in Iraq.


Saturday, October 04, 2003

[.....]

 Wesley Clark Calls for Criminal Investigation of Bush Iraq policy

Presidential hopeful Gen. Wesley Clark said Friday he believes the Bush
administration should be investigated for possible criminal wrongdoing in
the case it made to the American people that Iraq was an immediate threat,
according to the Telegraph. He said an independent counsel should look into
the possible manipulation of intelligence. The pre released text of his
speech said, "Nothing could be a more serious violation of public trust than
consciously to make a case for war based on false claims. We need to know if
we were intentionally deceived. This administration is trying to do
something that ought to be politically impossible to do in a democracy, and
that is to govern against the will of the majority. That requires twisted
facts, silence, secrecy and very poor lighting."

Clark said in his memoirs that he was told by a military officer in fall of
2001 that the Bush administration intended to go to war against Iraq and
that this was part of a 5-year plan to attack 7 countries. "This was being
discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a
total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya,
Iran, Somalia, and Sudan. So, I thought, this is what they mean when they
talk about 'draining the swamp."

Opinion polls show that most Americans already believe that an Indpendent
Counsel should be appointed to investigate the White House's leak that the
wife of Ambassador Joe Wilson is a CIA undercover operative, which damaged
US national security. Perhaps Clark is right that the mandate of the Special
Prosecutor should be widened to warmongering fraud.

"Clark: Bush Should Face Inquiry"

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/10/04/wclark04.xml
&sSheet=/portal/2003/10/04/ixportaltop.html


 Iyad Alawi takes over Presidency of IGC

Iyad Alawi became president of the Interim Governing Council on October 1,
in accordance with a compromise that lets each of 9 IGC members take
one-month rotations as leaders. Alawi, b. 1945, was trained as a physician
(a neurologist) at Baghdad University and practiced in the UK He was
inducted into the Royal Society of Physicians in 1980. He is also a
businessman. His Iraqi National Accord groups ex-Baath officers, and Alawi,
a Shiite, unsuccessfully attempted to foment a military coup against Saddam
in the 1990s.

The rotation may please Washington, which according to Robin Wright of the
LA Times has put enormous pressure on Alawi's predecessor, Ahmad Chalabi,
not to embarrass President Bush by pressing for a quick turnover of power by
the Coalition Provisional Authority to the American-appointed Interim
Governing Council. Chalabi all but endorsed the French position at the
United Nations, much to the chagrin of Washington, which is trying without
much success to get a new UNSC resolution passed that would allow more
countries to send troops or money to help with Iraq reconstruction.

[.....]




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