War News for Monday, October 10, 2005
Bring 'em on: Three Iraqi policemen and three Iraqi civilians killed in car bomb attack in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Two thousand families become refugees as US forces continue attacks in Al Anbar
Bring 'em on: Iraqi man shot dead in Iskandariya
Bring 'em on: Unknown number of casualties after a roadside bomb attack in Saklawiya
Bring 'em on: Bodyguard of Iraqi member of parliament killed in Mosul
Bring 'em on: Two policemen killed and one injured by gun attack in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: US consulate hotel under mortar attack in Hillah
Bring 'em on: US soldier killed in IED attack in Ramadi
Bring 'em on: Four civilians killed in clashes with US forces and insurgents in Ramadi
Goldsmith - Iraq Bound
: Reports state Lord Goldsmith is expected to push senior Iraqi lawyers to arrest and charge the suspected murderers with the deaths of the Royal Military policemen. He will also seek to have war crimes charges brought against "Chemical Ali" over the execution of Engineers Staff Sgt Simon Cullingworth and Sapper Luke Allsopp.
Arab League very worried
: A high-level delegation from the Arab League began a visit to Iraq Sunday to lay the groundwork for a trip by its chief and stem the divisions between the country`s communities, officials said.
And rightly so say Sunnis
: The campaign for the draft charter suffered a blow Saturday when 21 Sunni Arab groups urged voters to reject it, saying in a joint statement: "This constitution bears in it the germs of Iraq`s division, the loss of its Arab identity and the plundering of its national wealth."
: Millions of Iraqis are expected to go to the polls on Saturday to vote on a constitution they have never seen, as increasing violence and worsening communal tensions hamper distribution of the document.
: The senior United Nations envoy to Iraq today met representatives of the Turkman and Arab communities in Kirkuk who are concerned about high numbers of newly registered voters in the area.
: The most powerful and feared institution here in southern Iraq's largest city is a shadowy force of 200 to 300 police officers, known collectively as the Jameat, who dominate the local police and who are said to murder and torture at will. They answer to the leaders of Basra's sectarian militias.
: On Saturday, al-Waili said British forces are compromising security in the region by conducting raids and arrests without coordinating them with Iraqi security forces. On Thursday, British forces detained 12 Iraqis in a raid on a home in Basra, accusing them of being members or supporters of the al-Mahdi militia, which is suspected of carrying out recent attacks on British and US troops in the region with help from neighboring Iran.
: Standing on the top of the control tower at Basra aiport, the commander Group captain Ian Wood points to an area with several stationary aircraft "That's where we had machine gun fire yesterday, that's where some rockets went over yesterday as well. There is no doubt we have seen a steady rise in violence over the recent period as we approach some pretty important matters like Saddam Hussein's trial and then there is, of course, the referendum."
: The United States debated launching military strikes inside Syria against camps used by insurgents operating in neighbouring Iraq, a US magazine reported overnight. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice successfully opposed the idea at a meeting of senior American officials held on October 1, Newsweek reported, citing unnamed US government sources.
: Saddam Hussein could be executed before the Iraqi Special Tribunal finishes charging him with all his alleged crimes, a source close to the tribunal said Sunday.
: Three out of four Japanese people oppose extending the non-combat mission of their country's 600 troops in southern Iraq beyond its planned end in December, a newspaper poll showed on Monday.
Opinion and Commentary
What is Terror?
When the "war on terror" mantra was coined, it all boiled down to what are you going to sell to American and world public opinion. It was much easier to market a war against al-Qaeda - pictured as a cartoonish bunch of demented Arab, Wahhabi freaks with no agenda except evil destruction of the American way of life - than to tell the world about the real deal: as Arabs see it, this is a war against Arab nationalists bearing a very long list of widely-documented grievances and exploitation and a very clear, concrete set of demands: self-determination in all its forms all over the Arab world and the end of foreign occupation, domination and interference.
The key data in all this drama is what the people who live in the Middle East themselves think. A very helpful guide is a study on Middle Eastern public opinion - conducted in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Palestine - and released by the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan. The results are devastating. One of the most important findings is that the Arab street does not identify a "clash of civilizations"; they identify their woes as direct consequences of British colonialism and US foreign policy.
In the poll the qualifications most associated with the US and the UK were "racist", "aggressive", "morally decadent" and "imperialistic". People were always very careful to note that they admired Western societies for their open atmosphere, individual liberties and technical progress, but they certainly don't envy the West's social problems. People in the Middle East are proud of their family and traditions. Their anger is fundamentally directed towards Anglo-American foreign policy. A majority considers that the US is run by a "Zionist lobby". Over 70% complain that the US and the UK try to dominate countries through the offer of foreign aid. And crucially, less than 20% of Egyptians, Syrians and Palestinians see the US as supporting democracy in the region.
American and British policy in Iraq and US bias in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are almost universally rejected. Distrust of America is even higher among Middle Eastern youth. Only 15% to 20% of young people between the ages of 16 and 24 have anything good to say about the US. The majority supports Sharia law as a source for legislation. But only a tiny minority said they wanted a Taliban-like interpretation of Islamic law.
How is "terrorism" defined in the Middle East? For over 85% of the population in four of the five countries polled (64% in Lebanon), the US war on Iraq was an act of terrorism. Ninety percent in all countries polled say that Israel's killing of Palestinian civilians is terrorism. Hamas and Hezbollah are not terrorist groups: they are regarded as legitimate resistance organizations. For a majority of Jordanians and Palestinians, even al-Qaeda's fight is legitimate. And to top it all, the US is also seen as a major violator of human rights. The majority of people polled had just a simple wish: if only the Americans would leave us alone.
It won't happen, especially because the neo-con narrative remains the same: it's all about the conquest of Southwest Asia. But the former incarnation of the "war on terror" can always be exhumed - especially after the London bombings, or to compound the hysteria preceding attacks against Syria or Iran. The techniques are always the same: manipulation of public opinion; a widespread disinformation campaign; selected paid agents infiltrated in the media; paranoia campaign through color-coded terror alerts; alarmist announcements of another "inevitable" September 11. As Vice President Dick Cheney himself has announced, just like the war against communism the "war on terror" will go on for decades.
It works. Only a few months ago, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll - before the Iraq quagmire led Bush's number to collapse - 56% of Americans still believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the start of the war, while 60% believed Iraq was connected to al-Qaeda.
Journalist with Balls
In a Sunday Times article yesterday, Irish journalist Carole Coleman recounted her interview with Pres AWOL last year. George W Bush was so upset by Carole Coleman’s White House interview that an official complaint was lodged with the Irish embassy. The RTE journalist explains why the president made her blood boil. You can watch the interview here.
What Bush didn't say
The President didn't tell you that Iraq has become an al-Qaeda haven because of mistakes made by the Bush team. He tried, instead, to debunk such charges by arguing that Islamists hated us before the Iraq war started. True, but irrelevant.
The Iraq war didn't trigger al-Qaeda's crimes, but it strengthened the hand of Islamic radicals in the region.
Prior to the Iraq war, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was an obscure jihadi holed up in the Kurdish mountains along with a small band of Islamists. U.S. forces knew his location and could have destroyed him. Instead, our mistakes turned him into the most dangerous Islamist radical in the region.
The President didn't tell you that Iraq descended into its current violence because the Bush team invaded with no plan for the postwar era. Donald Rumsfeld sent too few troops to stabilize the country. Iraqi insurgents quickly perceived our weakness, and the country became a magnet for radicals from elsewhere.
According to the CIA, Iraq has assumed the role once played by Afghanistan as a proving ground for Islamic extremists. These radicals can get trained in Iraq for urban warfare. Arab leaders say the violence is already spilling into their countries.
So we made Zarqawi into what he is today and provided him with a base. What do we do now? The President didn't tell you how we can dry up this terrorist haven we've facilitated in Iraq.
Bush claimed to have "a comprehensive, specific military plan" that involves training Iraqi military forces so we can draw down U.S. troops. He echoed what Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the senior commander in Iraq, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Sept. 29: The military is eager to turn responsibility over to Iraqi forces.
That assumes that the Iraqis are capable of assuming leadership. A skeptical Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) told Casey: "Most people that I talk to say... they are not ready to do that."
The President didn't tell you that only one battalion out of about 80 battalions of the Iraqi army - fewer than 1,000 men - is fully capable of planning and operating on its own. About 30 battalions could take the lead if U.S. forces support them.
But the issue is much bigger than training Iraqi forces. What matters is motivation: whether Iraqis know for what and against whom they are fighting. In an Iraq fractured into religious and ethnic factions, Iraqi forces also have conflicting loyalties. That makes it hard for an Iraqi military to jell.
The President didn't tell you that most senior U.S. military officers believe the Iraqi insurgency can't be defeated by military means. The key is political. Unless Iraq's factions can find common ground, the low-level civil war will continue and the Iraqi military won't be able to assert control.
The President did speak of the need to support Iraqi democracy, as Iraq moves toward a vote on a constitution next weekend and elections in December. But he didn't tell you that the draft constitution is splitting the country further, as minority Sunnis fear it shuts them out of power and a share of Iraq's oil.
Dear Mr Blair
The war and occupation of Iraq have been an unmitigated disaster both for the people of Iraq and Britain. Countless innocent Iraqis have lost their lives and still more innocents have been killed on our streets. British soldiers, many of whom do not want to serve in Iraq, have been killed, wounded or maimed.
The United Nations' mandate for the occupation of Iraq expires this December. We call on you to initiate the first steps to end this carnage by announcing that British troops will be brought home by the end of this year.
If you do this, you can stop the killing of any more Iraqis by British troops. You can save the lives of our soldiers. You can make Britain's streets safer. You can defend civil liberties rather than erode them.
Brian Eno, Dame Anita Roddick, Tony Benn, Professor Richard Dawkins FRS, Billy Bragg, Dr Richard Horton FRCP, (Editor The Lancet), Tracey Emin, Maxi Jazz, Harold Pinter, John Williams, (guitarist), Tony Woodley, (Gen. Sec. T& GWU), Julie Christie, Mark Rylance, (actor), Lindsey German, (Stop the War Coalition), Rose Gentle, (mother of Gordon Gentle), John Pilger, Stewart Hemsley, (Pax Christi UK), Andrew Murray, (Stop the War Coalition), Brent Hansen, (broadcaster), Kate Hudson, (Chair CND), A L Kennedy, Haifa Zangana, John Keane, (artist), Ian Rickson, (Artistic Director, Royal Court Theatre), Margaret T Cook, Maysoon Pachachi, John Austin MP, Benjamin Zephaniah, Reg Keys, (father of Tom Keys), Ken Loach, Katherine Hamnett, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Caroline Lucas, (Green MEP), Peter Brierley, (father of Shaun Brierley), Tariq Ali, John Rees, (National Sec. RESPECT), Mundher Al Adhami, Katie Mitchell, (theatre director), Professor Sebastian Balfour, Matt Black (Coldcut), Bruce Kent, Jamie Read, (artist), Adrian Mitchell, Rashad Salim, (artist), George Galloway MP, Allan Green, (Nat. Sec. Scottish Socialist Party), Mary Balfour, (MD Drawing Down the Moon), Professor Steven Rose, Keith Sonnet, (Dep. Gen. Sec. UNISON), George Monbiot, Michael Kustow, (writer and producer), Dr Kamil Mahdi, Linda Smith, (Chair RESPECT), Professor Hilary Rose, Linda Riordan MP, Victoria Brittain, Professor A. Almaini, Craig Murray, Dr Alex Scott-Samuel FFPH, Michael Rosen, Kim Longinotto, (documentary director), Tony Graham, (theatre director), Dr Richard Drayton, Mark Curtis, (author), Yvonne Ridley, Chris Nineham, (Stop the War Coalition), Professor John Sloboda, (co-founder Iraq Body Count), Greg Hersov, (theatre director), Professor Tim Shallice FRS, Martin Rowson, Nicolas Kent, (Director Tricycle Theatre), Professor John Rosenhead, Professor David Seddon, Paul Mackney, (Gen Sec NATFHE), Alan Simpson MP, Nigel Kennedy, Said K Aburish, (author), Colin MacCabe, Professor Hala Afshar, Phillip Knightley, Michael Walling, (Art. Dir, Border Crossings), Caroline Kennedy, (Pres. English Language Theatre, Costa Rica), Eugene Skeef, Mohammed Aref, (science writer), Jonathan Chadwick (theatre director), Penny Woolcock, (film director)