Sunday, February 27, 2005

War News for Sunday, February 27, 2005

Bring ‘em on: Has Syria discarded the six of diamonds?

Bring ‘em on: A bomb has ripped through a municipal building killing at least five people and injuring several in Hammam Alil, near the city of Mosul.

Bring ‘em on: IED explosion injures four soldiers during a patrol in Samara.

Bring ‘em on: Two US soldiers killed and two injured in bomb and gunfire attack in Baghdad.

Election News

Profile of a President? Ibrahim Jafari prefers to wear suits. But he could, by Shiite tradition, don the robes and turban of a cleric. His family traces its lineage directly to the Prophet Muhammad. While in exile in London, Jafari, a doctor by training, placed himself under the tutelage of a cleric. His studies earned him the distinguished rank of mujtahid, a person who can make religious rulings. "People know him as a politician," says Adnan Ali al-Kadhimi, one of Jafari's aides. "They don't know the depth of his knowledge about the ideology of Islam." That knowledge—and religious commitment—has some Iraqis worried.

Our Man in Baghdad? U.S. officials said last week they would work with whoever is elected, although they would have preferred current Prime Minister Ayad Allawi or Adel Abdul Mehdi, the interim government's finance minister. But U.S. officials have cause for concern. Al-Jaafari resisted U.S. offensives against insurgents in Fallujah and Najaf, leading to speculation that he could try to halt future American attacks. And while al-Jaafari has declared publicly that he favours human rights and an inclusive Iraqi government, he wants religion to have a key role in the government. Al-Jaafari was one of the Shiite leaders who walked out during deliberations on Iraq's transitional law because he feared it would not make Islam the sole source of Iraqi law.

Juan R. Cole, an expert on Iraq at the University of Michigan, said al-Jaafari may not suit the Americans as well as Allawi would have, but he is not expected to be hostile. "He'll get along with them," Cole said. But many here worry that Shiite clerics could pressure al-Jaafari. The Khomeini-like turbaned image of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the Iranian-born spiritual leader of Iraq's Shiites, was ubiquitous on campaign posters before the Jan. 30 elections. Al-Sistani's tacit endorsement was considered key to the success of al-Jaafari's slate.

Journalism and the Election. "The (Iraqi) election coverage I thought was outrageous. It was completely manipulated by this government. We were led to believe there would be 5,000 attacks that day and when there were only 300 that was a victory. Everything was designed to manipulate us, and we were manipulated. I guess you can argue that in Iraq there's no access for the press, they can't do anything, they can't go anywhere, it's very hard for them but, jeez, what a bad job we've done.''

A Harris poll taken earlier this month suggests just how bad a job: Sizable numbers of Americans still believe Saddam Hussein helped plan and support the 9/11 hijackers (47 percent), that some of those hijackers were Iraqi (44 percent) and that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded (36 percent). None of which is true.

Or it may suggest that people only believe what they want to believe.

The Case for War

Fresh evidence has come to light suggesting that Tony Blair committed himself to war in Iraq nearly a year before the American and British assault in March 2003. The news will heighten the pressure on the Prime Minister to reveal how Britain was drawn into the conflict, in a week when a leading QC has called into question the legal advice on which the Government went to war. Such anxiety is felt in official circles that Special Branch detectives had questioned MPs over leaks, it emerged this weekend. Downing Street has consistently refused to disclose the date on which Mr Blair promised George Bush that Britain would join the US in an invasion of Iraq. But evidence obtained by the IoS suggests that it was as early as April 2002, when the Prime Minister met President Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. A ruling by the Parliamentary Ombudsman, seen by the IoS, says the Government sought advice about the legality of a possible invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2002 as the result of "statements made in a particular press release".

Torture and War Crimes

Nearly 50 British soldiers - three times as many as previously admitted – face prosecution for murder, assault and other offences committed in Iraq, according to secret military documents seen by The Telegraph . The allegations are revealed in briefing papers sent to ministers by the Royal Military Police that contain details of 137 incidents.

Of the 137 incidents listed, 62 refer to investigations into military operations that resulted in the deaths of one or more Iraqi civilians or insurgents. Another 48 relate to military operations in which Iraqi civilians were injured. The documents also list eight investigations into the deaths of Iraqis who were in British military detention and 10 into allegations of "non-fatal" abuse. Seven of the 137 investigations were into road accidents and two others are described as operational non-violent and detainee non-violent.

Among the most serious allegations is the alleged murder of Ahmed Jabber Kareem, a 16-year-old who was arrested by three Irish Guards on May 8, 2003. The documents state that Kareem and three other Iraqis were marched at gunpoint to a dock near the Shatt al-Arab waterway in Basra. The document states: "All were released by being forced to jump into the Shatt al-Arab. K was a non-swimmer and drowned. One of the suspects' conscience got the better of him several months after the incident, as a result of which all suspects were identified."


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