War News for Monday, December 5, 2005
Bring 'em on: Three Iraqi bomb disposal experts seriously wounded in Baquba
Bring 'em on: US soldier killed by roadside bomb in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Three Iraqis injured in car bomb attack on American patrol in Baquba
Bring 'em on: French engineer kidnapped in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Twenty insurgents reportedly killed by Iraqi forces in Al-Adhaim
Bring 'em on: Joint US/Iraqi patrol hit by roadside bomb in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Sadr Sheik assassinated in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Ex Iraqi PM survives shoe assassination attempt in Najaf
Bring 'em on: Lt Col in the Iraqi police gunned down in Baghdad
: Rumsfeld to be sacked and Joe Lieberman to replace him?
Segregation, compliments of Uncle Sam
: Civil rights groups have protested new rulings that make segregation of sexes in Iraqi schools compulsory. Education ministry has issued regulations under which mixed teaching even at university level will be forbidden. Already male teachers are not allowed to lecture at high schools and institutes of girls in many provinces in the country. The rights groups have written to Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari complaining that schools and universities were being pressured by sectarian factions to apply strict Islamic rules. In some universities and schools, girls are forced to wear the veil or scarf and forced to attend classes separately. Mixed education at the primary and tertiary levels was part of the country’s secular system until the 2003 U.S. invasion of the country.
Baghdad University - Resistance a National Duty
: The majority of respondents differentiated between “resistance” which they justified and ‘terrorism” which they condemned. The study found that resisting “occupation troops” was a national duty for many respondents. However, the respondents agreed that killing of civilians and attacks on infrastructure by whichever group were unjustified.
: The defence team in the trial of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has walked out, on the third day of hearings. The incident happened after defence lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi questioned the legitimacy of the special Iraqi court. Saddam Hussein and seven former aides deny charges of murdering 148 men in Dujail, north of Baghdad, following an assassination attempt in 1982. Two defence lawyers have been murdered in recent weeks and the team has argued it cannot present its case properly.
UN - Trial not Fair
: The UN said yesterday said that Saddam Hussein's trial would never satisfy international standards because of ongoing violence and flaws in Iraq's legal system. John Case, the UN's human rights chief in Iraq, said the murder of two defence lawyers, continued threats against judges, lawyers and witnesses and weaknesses in the Iraqi justice system had caused grave doubts about the trial's legitimacy.
Saddam to Run?
: Saddam Hussein's defence team has been inundated by requests from Iraqis to have the ousted leader run in Iraq's upcoming elections, a member of the team says. "We received scores of verbal and written requests from Iraqi citizens, the man-in-the-street kind, appealing to have President Saddam run for elections," said lawyer Issam Ghazawi on Wednesday.
: Israel should take "bold and courageous" action against arch-foe Iran's nuclear programme, similar to its 1981 air strike on the main Iraqi atomic reactor, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.
: Iran plans to construct a second nuclear power plant, despite international concern over its nuclear programme, state television reported today. The broadcast said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Cabinet ministers decided last night to build the reactor in Khuzistan province, south-western Iran. The province was the site for a French-made power plant in the mid 1970s that was stopped after 1979 Islamic revolution. Iran’s first nuclear power plant, which was built by Russia, is to go on stream in 2006.
: In May 2004, the White House dispatched the U.S. ambassador in Germany to pay an unusual visit to that country's interior minister. Ambassador Daniel R. Coats carried instructions from the State Department transmitted via the CIA's Berlin station because they were too sensitive and highly classified for regular diplomatic channels, according to several people with knowledge of the conversation. Coats informed the German minister that the CIA had wrongfully imprisoned one of its citizens, Khaled Masri, for five months, and would soon release him, the sources said. There was also a request: that the German government not disclose what it had been told even if Masri went public. The U.S. officials feared exposure of a covert action program designed to capture terrorism suspects abroad and transfer them among countries, and possible legal challenges to the CIA from Masri and others with similar allegations.
: Diverse forces are assembling to bring Bush administration officials to account for war crimes.
Cindy Sheehan, Gold Star Mother for Peace, insists: “We cannot have these people pardoned. They need to be tried on war crimes and go to jail.”
Paul Craig Roberts, Hoover Institution senior fellow and assistant secretary of the treasury under Ronald Reagan, charges Bush with “lies and an illegal war of aggression, with outing CIA agents, with war crimes against Iraqi civilians, with the horrors of the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo torture centers” and calls for the president's impeachment.
Anne-Marie Slaughter, dean of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton and former president of the American Society of International Law, declares: “These policies make a mockery of our claim to stand for the rule of law. [Americans] should be marching on Washington to reject inhumane techniques carried out in our name.”
: The internet provides not just a vital means of organisation for Islamic militants but also a huge opportunity for propaganda. That is presumably the intention of the message that has recently shown up on several jihadi websites with details of a competition to design a new website for a militant group in Iraq, calling itself Jaish Al-Taifa Al-Mansura, to showcase its messages and videos. The winner will be given the chance, the group says, to fire three long-range missiles at an American army base in Iraq by - in the words of the announcement - "pressing a button on his computer with his own blessed hand, using technology developed by the jihad fighters".
McCain OK's pay to print propaganda programme
: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said he did not know if that was standard procedure in Iraq. But, he said on NBC's "Meet the Press," if the stories were accurate, "if that's the way to get stories, I'm not terribly offended by it."
: The UK is sending a former NI policing chief to Basra in southern Iraq to carry out a review of policing there. The BBC has learned Sir Ronnie Flanagan is going to Iraq because of growing concerns about the infiltration of the country's police force by insurgents. Sir Ronnie is the former chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, formerly the RUC.
: It might seem like life in Basra is better than ever, but just below the surface there is a darker reality. Shiite fundamentalist politicians now govern Basra and are using their private armies to run the city. They have banned alcohol, forced more women to veil and kidnapped and killed reporters. “The militias and the police work closely together to protect the people,” an officer said. “And the militias,” he said, “have better intelligence than we do.” The people of Basra tell us the central government has very little authority here. They say that the militias are in charge and that the police are helping them. Even the police chief says he doesn't trust 60 percent of his force.
UK General - Criminal Charges
: British general is facing possible criminal charges over one of the most controversial incidents of the Iraq war, The Sunday Times has learnt. The allegations levelled against Major-General Peter Wall relate to alleged attempts by senior officers to prevent an investigation into the deaths of a British tank commander and an unarmed Iraqi civilian.
Opinion and Commentary
Insurgents in Fallujah
Someone should have told the insurgents in Fallujah that the war is over and that they should all go home. Just 24 hours after President George W Bush declared that his Iraqi strategy was “nothing less than complete victory”, 10 US Marines were blown to pieces in an explosion which was so deadly that an immediate news blackout was ordered.
One reason for the delay was the shock caused by the incident: the Marines of regimental combat team 8, 2nd US Marine Division, were killed in a massive explosion caused by an “improvised explosive device” made from artillery shells. But the most compelling reason for the postponement was that the marines died less than a day after their commander-in-chief had made a major speech to launch his long-awaited National Strategy for Victory in Iraq.
When the President revealed his new initiative in front of an enthusiastic audience at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis – the document runs to 35 pages – he got right to the heart of the matter by claiming that victory was on the horizon and that “our mission in Iraq is to win the war. Our troops will return home when that mission is complete”.
It sounded good and the officer cadets cheered for all they were worth – as sailors they would not be called on to do any foot-slogging in Iraq – but nothing was said about what this victory will look like or how easily it will be achieved.
The main problem is that nobody knows how long it will take to defeat the insurgents or if the fledgling Iraqi security forces can handle the case. On paper, it looks quite promising. At the last count, the Pentagon claimed that almost half of the total of 212,000 listed Iraqi forces are “combat ready”. What this means is that 87,000 have already completed their training and are in the field alongside US forces in the counter-insurgency war.
In that role they are classed as being “trained and equipped” but there is a world of difference between getting a man to wear a uniform and bear arms and preparing him to take part in serious counter-insurgency operations.
“The best of their number are the guys who were already soldiers who served in Saddam Hussein’s forces,” a US commander, recently returned from Iraq, told the Sunday Herald. “They know the score and some of them are pretty hard cases, but they are still a minority. Most of the recruits only get their first serious training when they’re involved in a fire-fight.”
The predicament is marginally worse in the police forces, which have borne the brunt of the casualties in almost three years of violence.
Less than one third of the 110,000 police personnel are reckoned to be loyal and trustworthy and they come at the bottom of the pecking order as far as equipment is concerned. Most are armed with obsolete and unreliable Soviet sidearms, there are few armoured vehicles and communications are primitive.
In operations, there are still frequent confusions about who has primacy and this leads to a tendency for the Iraqis to back off and leave the action to US forces. For that reason, most US commanders on the ground in Iraq are pretty sanguine when they ponder an early withdrawal of their forces.
It plays well in downtown America where votes could be won or lost in next year’s Congressional elections, but on the streets of Iraq, talk of pulling out has an unreal quality. In British-controlled Basra, once a relatively quiet sector, intelligence reports now claim that the situation is worse than it was under Saddam.
Following a clash between British soldiers and Iraqi policemen in August, Basra’s chief of police admitted that 80% of his officers were not under control and refused to obey orders.
Most are members of the Badr Organisation, the military wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and were trained in southern Iraq by the Iranian Republican Guard.
So fragile has the security position become in Basra that the British Army admits that it has curtailed many of its “hearts and minds” operations. Greater use is being made of helicopters – deadly roadside bombs have accounted for eight recent deaths – but the greatest threat comes from within.
According to a briefing paper produced by the authoritative Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) the Shia militia have infiltrated to such an extent as to make security almost impossible: “Evidence also suggests that these militia groups are carrying out abuses under the guise of their police authority, acting as death squads, abducting and murdering opposition leaders and former Ba’athists.
“The result is that the primary loyalty of many of the forces Britain is training lies with the militia which has close ties to Iran, and which is increasingly posing a threat to British forces.”Gulf War 1
The French theorist Jean Baudrillard famously once stated that the first Gulf War did not take place. By this he did not mean that nothing happened, but that its presentation in the media consisted of an overwhelming barrage of the signs of War, which bore essentially no relationship to the annihilation of a Third World army by the most advanced military power in history. In short it was a simulation of war. This was perhaps the most extreme example of what Baudrilliard referred to as the ‘ecstacy of communication’, that in our Information Age, concepts spin at such a rate that their outlines become lost and their original meanings are replaced with empty alternatives.
Fifteen years later, the same charges can be levelled against the recent Iraq ‘War’ and the country’s subsequent occupation. Most importantly, I believe that a process akin to that Baudrillard highlighted is being actively employed to simulate a civil war in Iraq. False-flag intelligence operations are aimed at sowing seeds of a sectarian strife that was largely non-existent prior to the invasion. Thus, even many Sunni Iraqis are coming to believe that the well-organised death squads run from the CIA-controlled intelligence hub are actually the Badr Brigade they often claim to be; and thus British SAS men in Arab disguise plant bombs at Shia religious festivals to be blamed on fanatical Wahabi Sunni ‘insurgents’.
Whether such tactics succeed in provoking further, autonomous acts of violence directed against the civilian population is much less significant than the impact they are able to exert within the media. This Anglo-American intelligence operation acts as a factory churning out the signs of Civil War: a ‘wave of tit-for-tat sectarian violence’ and the consequent ethnic cleansing. The signs are produced to be picked up by the media and spun and spun until nothing is left but a nebulous Civil War with no internal logic or structure, with the occupying forces as powerless to intervene as they were in the Balkans while Iraq splits into Rubiae’s desired four to six autonomous provinces. Those few journalists, like Yasser Salihee and Steven Vincent, who break the mould and start to investigate the actual authorship of extrajudicial killings themselves become victims.
When one former CIA operative candidly claimed that ‘Intelligence services are the heart and soul of a new country’ (Washington Post)), they were inadvertently expressing a position that Noam Chomsky might call ‘vulgar Marxist’. What they were actually confessing is that the essence of a state is the organisation of violence as the ultimate coercive measure and that the intelligence apparatus functions as its brain. Little wonder then that the US is so closely involved with intelligence services the world over, or that both coup d’états and savage repressions of sectors of the population deemed opposed to US interests have emanated from the offices of these same services.
To penetrate the media smokescreen of spontaneous, uncontrollable violence and understand the role of intelligence operations in the creation of a beholden, occupied client state or series of statelets is fundamental to understanding the processes in Iraq today. It is also fundamental to recognising that the presence of Anglo-American forces in Iraq does not merely exacerbate the present violence; in Iraq we are the violence. Occupation
Many who believe the US should be fighting in Iraq compare the war with World War II. Those that oppose the war in Iraq compare the war with Vietnam. I am one of those that don’t see a connection with WWII other than we had a “Pearle Harbor” on September 11th 2005.
But was that when the war started? There are many terror attacks around the world for various reasons. According to Osama Bin Laden we were attacked for two reasons. One was our support of Israel and the other was because of our stationing of Troops in their Holy Land, Saudi Arabia.
The war in Iraq was originally sold to the American people as an urgent measure to prevent Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) from ending up in the hands of terrorists ready to strike the US. President Bush told us that the administration knew the tonnage of chemicals and biological agents. He also claimed Saddam was seeking nuclear material. Hindsight is 20/20. There were no WMD. Many supporters still claim that even President Clinton believed that there were WMD, as if Clinton was their guru and to blame for being wrong also.
All of this is water under the bridge. The US is occupying the country of Iraq against he wishes of the rebels (ie the insurgents). The war is more like Vietnam than World War II – we are caught in middle of a civil war.
I believe the mission is complete. We have investigated the WMD claim and have toppled the government of Saddam Hussein. It is time to start pulling our troops out of Iraq.