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[casi] Italian official blasts U.S.; Americans attack hideouts in Iraq

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Italian official blasts U.S.; Americans attack hideouts in Iraq


An Italian member of the U.S.-led coalition has resigned, accusing the Bush
administration of inefficiency and failing to understand Iraq. In Tikrit,
U.S. forces killed six alleged insurgents as they pressed their search
Monday for a former Saddam deputy believed to be orchestrating attacks on

Before quitting, Marco Calamai, a special counselor of the Coalition
Provisional Authority in the southern province of Dhi Qar, criticized L.
Paul Bremer's administration for its handling of Iraq. The charges come as
Russia and France objected to the U.S. timetable for handing over power to
the Iraqis by July 1.

Rising casualties added new urgency to the task. Three more American
soldiers died Monday in separate attacks north of Baghdad, one in an ambush
on a patrol, the other by a roadside bomb.

Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said the U.S.-led coalition
attacked dozens of suspected guerrilla hideouts as it intensifyied a search
for Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, No. 6 on the most-wanted list of 55 Iraqis and
former vice chairman of Saddam's Revolutionary Command Council.

In addition to the killing of the six suspected guerrillas, Kimmitt said
coalition forces had captured 99 suspected insurgents, including a former
general in Saddam's elite Republican Guard, during 1,729 patrols and 25
raids conducted over the past 24 hours.

For the second time in as many days, American troops fired a
satellite-guided missile with a 500-pound warhead, this one at a suspected
insurgent sanctuary 10 miles south of Tikrit, Saddam's hometown.

''Clearly, we're sending the message that we do have the ability to run
operations across a wide area,'' said Lt. Col. William MacDonald of the 4th
Infantry Division. ''We have overwhelming combat power that we will utilize
in order to go after groups and individuals who have been conducting
anti-coalition activities.''

In Rome, the Italian Foreign Ministry confirmed Monday that Calamai had
resigned but gave no reason.

The Italian government of Premier Silvio Berlusconi was a strong supporter
of the United States during the war and deployed a 2,700-strong peacekeeping
force to help rebuild the country. But In an interview with the leftist
daily L'Unita, Calamai complained that the British and Americans had
marginalized the Italians. ''They don't consult us, they don't involve us.''

Calamai said only an interim authority headed by the United Nations could
turn things around.

Calamai told the Italian reporters in Nasiriyah on Sunday that the failure
of the coalition to understand Iraqi society had created ''delusion, social
discontent and anger'' among Iraqis and allowed terrorism to ''easily take
root.'' He cited last week's truck bombing at an Italian paramilitary
garrison in the city, which killed 19 Italians and 14 others.

Calamai said about $400,000 a month was supposed to be made available for
projects in Dhi Qar province alone but ''because of the muddled organization
of (the coalition), only a fraction has been spent.''

''The provisional authority simply doesn't work,'' Calamai told the
newspapers. He said only a U.N. administration could turn the tide.

There was no immediate comment from Bremer's staff.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, asked about Calamai's
resignation, said the coalition authority has made ''excellent progress'' in
several areas, including ''the physical reconstruction of Iraq, the
restoration of services to Iraqi people, the beginnings of political
authority among the Iraqi ministers and now an accelerated path to political

In Washington, President Bush met with a small group of Iraqi women on
Monday and promised the United States would not pull out of Iraq when a
provisional government is established.

''I assured these five women that America wasn't leaving,'' Bush said.
''When they hear me say we're staying, that means we're staying.''

Calamai's criticism is similar to that leveled by Anthony Cordesman of the
Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Cordesman, who went to Iraq at the invitation of the U.S. government, said
coalition authority staffers believe their headquarters is an
overcentralized bureaucracy that is unrealistic about developments in Iraq.
He said too many coalition authority workers are talking to Americans rather
than working with Iraqis.

Such criticism raises questions about the coalition's ability to oversee the
transfer of power. Although primary responsibility rests with the Iraqis,
several Iraqi politicians have said privately that the effort cannot succeed
without strong U.S. direction.

Under the plan, announced Saturday by the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing
Council, members of a national assembly will be chosen in a series of
provincial caucuses. The assembly will select a provisional government to
oversee the country until a new constitution is drafted and elections are
held in 2005.

The coalition authority will oversee the drafting of a ''basic law'' that
will serve as an interim constitution until elected representatives can draw
up a permanent one.

The United States has put together main guidelines for the interim
constitution, including guarantees of freedom of speech, religion, equal
rights and judicial independence.

Washington had insisted on withholding power until the Iraqis had ratified a
new constitution and elected a democratic government. However, differences
over how to choose delegates to write the constitution threatened political
stalemate at a time of growing insurgency and rising casualties among the
130,000 U.S. troops here.

After talks with Bremer at the White House last week, Bush agreed to an
accelerated timetable.

Although Iraqi politicians applauded the decision, the new timetable has not
satisfied France and Russia, two the sharpest critics of the Iraq war.
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin called for transferring power
by the end of December.

In Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the plan could fail to win
support within Iraq and leaves little room for input from the United

''This approach is fraught with the risk that the given agreement will not
attain the necessary legitimacy internally, as well as from the point of
view of international law,'' ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said.

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