Sunday, November 05, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2006 Supporters of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein chant anti-U.S. and Iraqi government slogans in Tikrit, 175 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad, November 5, 2006. A visibly shaken Saddam Hussein was found guilty of crimes against humanity on Sunday and sentenced to hang by the U.S.-sponsored court that has been trying him in Baghdad for the past year. REUTERS/Nuhad Hussin A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier died at approximately 1 p.m. Saturday when terrorists [sic] attacked his patrol with small-arms fire in western Baghdad. One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died from non-hostile causes Saturday while operating in Al Anbar Province. Other Security Incidents Baghdad Mortars landed on Adamiya, a Sunni district of Baghdad, killing three people and wounding 11, police said. Reuters also reports: AP has additional detail on events in Adamiyah, but counts only 8 injured. "Police said at least three people, including a two-year-old child, were killed and eight wounded in clashes between gunmen and Iraqi police in Baghdad's dominantly Sunni Azamiyah district. Residents said rockets and mortars began falling on the area beginning Saturday night and blamed Mahdi Army fighters for the attacks." Also from AP: AP continues: "New checkpoints popped up on major roads, including within the heavily fortified Green Zone that houses Iraqi government offices and the U.S. and British embassies. A heavy police presence and larger than normal numbers of U.S. troops patrolled the streets. Despite the overwhelming response, police reported relatively little violence on Sunday, likely because of the peaceful nature of most celebrations and the curfew clamped on Baghdad and the neighboring provinces of Salahuddin and Diyala." [It's a sad day indeed when this constitutes "relatively little" violence. -- C] Fallujah Masked machine gun toting insurgents shot up the headquarters of U.S. forces in the former insurgents stronghold of Fallujah, said a local policeman, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. No deaths or injuries were reported. [This is a revealing tidbit, if true. It suggests HQ hunkered down in its bunker, unable to control the streets immediately outside -- C] Baqubah Hundreds of people defied a curfew to protest against the death sentence handed to former president Saddam Hussein. Police said their forces had fired warning shots, wounding one person. Balad U.S. helicopters struck the town of Balad, killing two people and wounding five, including two policemen, the Joint Coordination Center between U.S. and Iraqi forces in Tikrit said. Kirkuk A bomb exploded near a truck in the city of Kirkuk, killing the driver and wounding two people, police said. Hawija A bomb exploded near a police patrol in Hawija, 70 km (43 miles) southwest of Kirkuk, wounding five people, including two policemen, police said. Yusufiya U.S.-led forces killed an insurgent in a raid near Yusufiya, 15 km (9 miles) south of Baghdad, and found a large weapons and explosives cache in another raid near Baiji in which 15 suspects were detained, the U.S. military said. Other News of the Day Iraq high tribunal sentences Saddam Hussein, his chief of intelligence and half-brother Barzan Ibrahim, and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, head of Revolutionary Court, to death by hanging. Former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan sentenced to life imprisonment. Three Baath party officials from Dujail sentenced to 15 years, one is acquitted. Court session features theatrics. AP reports:
Saddam Hussein was convicted and sentenced Sunday to hang for crimes against humanity in the 1982 killings of 148 people in a single town, as the ousted leader, trembling and defiant, shouted "God is great!" As he, his half brother and another senior official in his regime were convicted and sentenced to death, Saddam yelled out, "Long live the people and death to their enemies. Long live the glorious nation, and death to its enemies!" The trial brought Saddam and his co-defendants before their accusers in what was one of the most highly publicized and heavily reported trials of its kind since the Nuremberg tribunals for members of Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime and its slaughter of 6 million Jews in the World War II Holocaust Nouri al-Maliki, the Shiite prime minsiter, declared the verdicts as history's judgement on a whole era. snip The death sentences automatically go to a nine-judge appeals panel, which has unlimited time to review the case. If the verdicts and sentences are upheld, the executions must be carried out within 30 days. A court official told The Associated Press that the appeals process was likely to take three to four weeks once the formal paperwork was submitted. During Sunday's hearing, Saddam initially refused the chief judge's order to rise; two bailiffs pulled the ousted ruler to his feet and he remained standing through the sentencing, sometimes wagging his finger at the judge. Before the session began, one of Saddam's lawyers, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, was ejected from the courtroom after handing the judge a memorandum in which he called the trial a travesty. Chief Judge Raouf Abdul-Rahman pointed to Clark and said in English, "Get out." snip U.S. officials associated with the tribunal said Saddam's repeated courtroom outbursts during the nine-month trial may have played a key part in his conviction. They cited his admission in a March 1 hearing that he had ordered the trial of 148 Shiites who were eventually executed, insisting that doing so was legal because they were suspected in the assassination attempt against him. "Where is the crime? Where is the crime?" he asked, standing before the panel of five judges. Later in the same session, he argued that his co-defendants must be released and that because he was in charge, he alone must be tried. His outburst came a day after the prosecution presented a presidential decree with a signature they said was Saddam's approval for death sentences for the 148 Shiites, their most direct evidence against him. About 50 of those sentenced by the "Revolutionary Court" died during interrogation before they could go to the gallows. Some of those hanged were children. "Every time they (defendants) rose and spoke, they provided a lot of incriminating evidence," said one of the U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. Under Saddam, Iraq's bureaucracy showed a consistent tendency to document orders, policies and minutes of meetings. That, according to the U.S. officials, helped the prosecution produce more than 30 documents that clearly established the chain of command under Saddam. One document gave the names of everyone from Dujail banished to a desert detention camp in southern Iraq. Another, prepared by an aide to Saddam, gave the president a detailed account of the punitive measures against the people of Dujail following the failed assassination attempt. Saddam's trial had from the outset appeared to reflect the turmoil and violence in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. One of Saddam's lawyers was assassinated the day after the trial's opening session last year. Two more were later assassinated and a fourth fled the country. In January, chief judge Rizgar Amin, a Kurd, resigned after complaints by Shiite politicians that he had failed to keep control of court proceedings. He, in turn, complained of political interference in the trial. Abdul-Rahman, another Kurd, replaced Amin. Hearings were frequently disrupted by outbursts from Saddam and Ibrahim, with the two raging against what they said was the illegitimacy of the court, their ill treatment in the U.S.-run facility where they are being held and the lack of protection for their lawyers. The defense lawyers contributed to the chaos in the courtroom by staging several boycotts.
Read in full Reaction is joyous in Shiite districts, grim in Baathist heartland. Quassim Abdul-Zahra describes it for the AP. Excerpt:
Iraqi Shiites broke into celebratory gunfire and wild jubilation on Sunday after Saddam Hussein was sentenced to hang, but his fellow Sunnis paraded through their former leader's hometown of Tikrit chanting, "We will avenge you Saddam." In Sadr City, the Shiite stronghold of northeast Baghdad, hundreds of thousands of people poured out of their homes and youths took to the streets dancing and singing, despite a total curfew declared for Sunday over the most restive parts of the country. "Execute Saddam," they chanted. Many carried posters of radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi Army militia effectively runs the district. "This is an unprecedented feeling of happiness," said Sadr City resident Abu Sinan, 35. "The verdict declares that Saddam is paying the price for murdering tens of thousands of Iraqis," he said. . . . "This is the fate of all those who violated the sanctity of the citizens and shed the honest blood. This is the disgraceful end to the person who brought ordeals, pains and reckless wars to this country," Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said in a television address to the nation following the verdict. Al-Maliki urged an end to rampant sectarian violence between Shiites and Sunnis, and called on Saddam supporters in the Sunni-led insurgency to end their fight. "I say to all deluded remnants of the previous regime: The period of Saddam and his party is gone as did other dictators' like Mussolini and Hitler," said al-Maliki, a Shiite who was forced into years of exile during Saddam's rule. Al-Sadr, who commands a massive following among Shiites, called for peaceful celebrations and said violence against Sunnis would be considered treason. "You are called upon now to perform a thanksgiving prayer," said a statement issued by his office which blared from the speakers of mosques across the sprawling slum of 2.5 million people. Celebrations were heady but mostly peaceful throughout the predominantly Shiite south, where Saddam's elite Republican Guard massacred thousands during a failed uprising in 1991. A line of cars festooned with plastic flowers wound through the streets of the holy city of Najaf, and crowds burned portraits of Saddam and his family. A bedridden Salih Mahdi said Saddam's sentencing would help heal the loss of his brother Ali. Then 22, Ali Mahdi was arrested in Saddam's 1982 crackdown on the opposition Dawa party and has not been seen since. "Damn you Saddam," the retired civil servant said sobbing, his wife and two sons by his side. "You are cruel and cowardly and it was our misfortune that you ruled and terrorized us." "Beloved martyrs, rest in peace. Saddam is executed," read a placard placed in the window of a minibus in Kut, 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of Baghdad. Celebratory gunfire also rang out in Kurdish neighborhoods across the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, where taxi driver Khatab Ahmed, 40, sat on a mattress in his living room to watch trial coverage with his wife and six children. "Thank God I lived to see the day when the criminals received their punishment," Ahmed said. The mood was starkly different in Tikrit, deep in the Sunni heartland north of Baghdad, where support for Saddam runs hand-in-hand with deep distrust of Iraq's new Shiite-dominated government. Gunshots rang out from rooftops and street corners as Saddam addressed the court, and Sunni insurgents with AK-47s and heavy machine guns paraded in scores of vehicles in defiance of the curfew. A crowd about 1,000-strong, including some policemen and many people holding pictures of Saddam aloft, marched down main streets, chanting: "We will avenge you Saddam." "The violence will only rise in the area after the hanging of Saddam, but the Americans care nothing about spilled Iraqi blood," said retired school teacher Mohammed Abbas, 60. He predicted Sunni militants would take revenge. "We are tribal people ... when any ordinary member of our tribe is killed, we will kill one from the enemy tribe, to say nothing of an important person like Saddam," Abbas said. Muhssin Ali Mohammed, 36, said Saddam would remain an important figure for Iraqis regardless of the verdict. "Whether or not Saddam is executed, he ruled Iraq for about 40 years and he has a history," Mohammed said. "No one can delete it, not the Iraqis or the Americans," Mohammed said.
Read in Full Amnesty International condemns the trial. Excerpt:
AFP - Amnesty International has condemned the death sentences handed to Saddam Hussein and two of his senior allies, describing their trial as a "shabby affair, marred by serious flaws". The London-based human rights group -- which opposes capital punishment -- said the trial should have helped the process of establishing justice and the rule of law in Iraq but was in fact "deeply flawed and unfair". "This trial should have been a major contribution towards establishing justice and the rule of law in Iraq, and in ensuring truth and accountability for the massive human rights violations perpetrated by Saddam Hussein's rule," said Malcolm Smart, director of the Middle East and North Africa programme. "In practice, it has been a shabby affair, marred by serious flaws that call into question the capacity of the tribunal, as currently established, to administer justice fairly, in conformity with international standards." Amnesty charged Sunday that "political interference undermined the independence and impartiality of the court", prompting the first presiding judge to resign and the appointment of another to be blocked. The court also failed to take adequate measures to protect witnesses and defence lawyers, three of whom were killed during the trial, it added. Saddam himself was denied access to legal counsel for the first year after his arrest, while there appeared to have been inadequate responses to complaints by lawyers throughout the judicial process, Amnesty said. "Every accused has a right to a fair trial, whatever the magnitude of the charge against them. This plain fact was routinely ignored through the decades of Saddam Hussein's tyranny," Smart continued. "His overthrow opened the opportunity to restore this basic right and, at the same time, to ensure, fairly, accountability for the crimes of the past. It is an opportunity missed." Amnesty's charges were backed by some British Muslim groups, who said there would now be no opportunity to force Saddam to explain issues surrounding the Iran-Iraq war and the invasion of Kuwait.
Read in Full Around the region, reaction is joyous in Shiite areas, Kurdistan and Kuwait. Elsewhere in the Arab world, Saddam gets little sympathy except in Palestine, but the trial and verdict are seen as illegitimate, according to this writer for AFP.
Jean-Marc Mojon | Cairo, Egypt Saddam Hussein's death sentence on Sunday drew an outpouring of vengeful glee among the ousted Iraqi despot's former foes in the Middle East and muted discontent from Sunni radicals. Iraq's Shi'ites, led by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, rejoiced when the deposed president was sentenced to death by hanging for his role in ordering the deaths of 148 Shi'ite villagers in the village of Dujail in 1982. "The Iraqi martyrs now have the right to smile," said al-Maliki, as the verdict appeared set to further widen the bitter sectarian divide that has set the country ablaze in recent months. The mood was similar in neighbouring Shi'ite Iran, which fought a devastating eight-year war against Saddam's regime. "They should really make him suffer, wrench him up and down the scaffold, everybody should spit on him," seethed Abbas Afshar (46), a taxi driver, who said he lost dozens of comrades on the front lines of the war. The Foreign Ministry in Tehran hailed the verdict but was careful not to give Washington any credit for toppling Saddam. "Even if Saddam and his accomplices are the agents who carried out these crimes, we cannot forget the Western protectors of Saddam who by supporting him prepared the ground for the execution of his crimes," spokesperson Mohammad Ali Hosseini said. But officials in Israel -- arch-foe of both Saddam and Iran -- declined to comment on the verdict, wary of how the key United States ally's reaction would go down in Saddam's homeland. "We prefer not to state our position on the matter which could be used by the rebels in Iraq who are attempting to drag Israel into the conflict there," a senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official said, asking not to be named. In Kuwait, which Saddam invaded in 1990, a sense of satisfaction at the Iraqi dictator's doom filled the streets. "A life sentence would have been better than the death penalty, because he must suffer like he made others suffer," said 46-year-old Khaled, whose brother went missing during the war. At the Kuwait stock exchange, women ululated in joy when they heard that Saddam and two aides had been sentenced to death, witnesses said. Kurds were keen to see the execution put on hold until Saddam is judged in a current trial for his role in the alleged genocide committed against Iraq's Kurdish minority during the 1988 Anfal campaign. Meanwhile, there were no such expressions of joy and satisfaction in most other Middle Eastern countries, where Saddam long symbolised Arab strength and pride. While many Sunni governments were less than swift to comment on the verdict, the governing Palestinian movement Hamas stood out and mourned the man who championed the cause of the Palestinian people. "We as the Palestinian people support whoever supports our people and president Saddam Hussein was one of those," said Fawzi Barhum, spokesperson for the Islamist militant movement. Highly popular in the Palestinian territories, Saddam gave money to the families of people killed by Israeli forces and relatives of suicide bombers when the intifada, or uprising, broke out in September 2000, until he was toppled by the US-led invasion in 2003. In Egypt, the leader of the powerful opposition Muslim Brothers minimised the charges of crimes against humanity Saddam has been facing and lashed out at the US-led occupation of Iraq. "There is no doubt Saddam Hussein was a tyrant and a despot who harmed Iraq and generated the disastrous situation in which his country is now engulfed," Mohammed Mehdi Akef said. "But what are all these crimes that Saddam committed during his lifetime if you compare them to the crimes of the occupiers and those who help them? Nothing," he said. The verdict of the much-publicised trial, which was one of the key objectives of the US administration that sent troops into Iraq in March 2003, drew accusations of conspiracy in the war-torn country's Sunni towns. "The hanging of the former Iraqi president is part of an American scheme. He was a symbol of liberation in Iraq," declared Dr Muzahim Allawi, a university professor, in Saddam's hometown of Tikrit. "The sentence was pre-prepared in Washington and Tel Aviv," spat civil servant Qusay Addai, bitterly.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS Glenn Greenwald skewers the contortions of members of the war party as they try to shift blame. Specifically, Powerliner Paul Mirgenoff blames the Iraqi people. Ahmed Amr explains the U.S. strategy in Iraq. Excerpt:
Bush surrenders Iraq to Maliki’s death squads by Ahmed Amr When the time eventually comes to make historic documentaries about the Iraq war, there is one scene that will leave no doubt about the dark and sinister nature of George W. Bush. The timing is a week before mid-term elections. Along with his senior aides, the president is holding a videoconference with Nouri Al-Maliki – the Prime Minister of Iraq. After an extraordinary public feud, the two men kiss and make up in front of the cameras. But both walk away from the encounter – which was initiated at the request of Maliki – with the understanding that the United States will abandon efforts to tackle the death squads in Iraq. The hastily arranged meeting was the result of a little spat between the administration and the Iraqi government on how best to deal with reign of terror in Iraq – largely attributed to Iranian trained and indoctrinated Shia militants that have infiltrated Maliki’s security forces. A week earlier, the American military had attempted to arrest a notorious death squad leader by the name of Abu Deraa. But because the Prime Minister’s political allies are also the parties and militias that field the death squads – Maliki intervened to prevent similar ‘violations of Iraqi sovereignty’ from taking place in the future. As the Commander In Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces, Maliki was making a power play and exercising his ‘right’ to protect his death squad allies from any interference by Bush’s troops. But Maliki didn’t stop there. He demanded more American funding and accelerated training of the very same Iraqi security forces that moonlight as death squads. And, of course, Bush had no other option but to comply with the absurd request to provide American tax dollars to further enhance the criminal capabilities of the militia infested police and army. There is no exaggerating the extent to which Iraqi security forces – especially the police – have become auxiliary forces that owe their allegiances to the Shia militias and parties that engineered Maliki’s rise to power. Even War Party media operatives like the Washington Post can no longer hide the fact that there is little that distinguishes the Iraqi police from the Shia death squads. “The American soldiers and civilians who train the Iraqis are constantly on guard against the possibility that the police might turn against them. Even in the police headquarters for all of western Baghdad, one of the safest police buildings in the capital, the training team will not remove their body armor or helmets. An Armed soldier is assigned to protect each trainer.” (Wash Post, 10/31/2006) An exasperated American trainer, John Moore, is quoted as saying “We don’t know who the hell we’re teaching: Are they police or are they militia.” We now have Judith Miller’s New York Times acknowledging that “much of Iraq is a place without rules or laws, in which armed gangs, sometimes dressed as police officers, can come into any house and do exactly as they please.” (Sabrine Torernice, NYT, 10/29/2006). Of course, to get a clearer picture of the nature of the evil that stalks Iraq, we can’t be entirely dependent on the American media moguls who played a pivotal role in marketing this murderous venture. To measure the extent of the blank evasive space one regularly encounters in the America’s mainstream media, contrast their coverage to a recent article by Kim Sengupta - “Operation enduring Chaos: The retreat of the coalition and the rise of the militias” (The Independent, 10/31/2006). “This is a shadowy struggle, which involves tortured prisoners huddled in dungeons, murder victims mutilated with knives and electric drills, and distraught families searching for relations who have been “disappeared.” Iraq’s savage sectarian war is now regarded as a greater obstacle to any semblance of peace returning than the insurgency. Yet, ironically, the death squads are the result of US policy. At the beginning of last year, with no end to the Sunni insurgency in sight, the Pentagon was reported to have decided to train Shia and Kurdish fighters to carry out “irregular missions.” The policy, exposed in the US media, was called the “Salvador Option” after the American-backed counter-insurgency in Latin America more than 20 years ago, which led to 70,000 deaths and countless instances of human rights abuse.” “As the US and British policies in Iraq reach the last stages of unraveling, there are increasingly frantic calls to the Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, from Washington and London to rein in the government-sponsored death squads. The problem is that the militias, well armed and entrenched, are connected to political parties who know that Mr. Al Maliki is dependent on their support.” Just one little correction needs to be made to Sengupta’s account. It wasn’t the “US media” that exposed the Salvador option – it was Seymour Hersh, the legendary journalist who broke the story on the My Lai massacre and prison abuse at Abu Ghraib. For every new expose, the mass media moguls reward Hersh with an extended exile to the wilderness of the alternative press. From the earliest days of the American occupation, rumors began to emerge that operatives recruited from the ranks of the Badr Brigades were systematically infiltrating Iraqi Security Forces. For those who haven’t being paying attention, Badr is an Iraqi Shia militia that was trained in exile by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. It is the armed wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) – a political creature that was established and financed by the theocratic regime in Tehran. Aside from SCIRI operatives, the Iraqi Security Forces recruited militia members from Moqtada Sadr’s Mahdi Army and militants from Maliki’s Dawa party. The man responsible for masterminding the recruitment and integration of death squads into the new Iraqi security forces was Bayan Jabr - a SCIRI leader who first appeared on the scene on Emperor Paul Bremer’s task force assigned to implement a purification program targeting Baathist military officers and bureaucrats In April 2005, Bayan Jabr was appointed interior minister in Iraq’s transitional government. Ten thousand miles away, Professor Juan Cole, an expert on the Middle East from the University of Michigan – had Jabar on his radar screen. He set off the alarm bells. “Bayan Jabar is clearly an old time revolutionary deeply committed to SCIRI’s paramilitary actions. I’d say there is likely to be some trepidation among Iraqi moderates about his now taking over Interior.” I mention Juan Cole – because he is exactly the kind of seasoned well informed Middle Eastern analyst whose talents could have been deployed to chart more rational policies in Iraq. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the neo-con seal of approval to qualify as a mainstream pundit. Sure enough, within one month of his appointment, Bayan Jabr – technically Iraq’s senior police officer - put his death squads out on the streets of Baghdad and started a purge of Sunni officers. “In May 2005, Shiite militia groups in Iraq began depositing corpses into the dumps of Baghdad. The victims, overwhelmingly Sunni, were typically handcuffed, their corpses showing signs of torture – broken skulls, burn marks, electric drill holes; by that October, the death toll attributed to such groups had reached 500.” (Harper’s Magazine – 08/06/2006.) Where is Bayan Jabr today? He’s the Iraqi finance minister and a key ally of Maliki. The latest media farce is to portray Nouri Al-Maliki as a man out to curb the violence and chaos in our Mesopotamian colony. According to this fable, The Prime Minister is caught between Iraq and a hard place - forced to navigate a treacherous path between a desire to assert the Iraqi State’s monopoly of violence over ‘rogue’ elements in the security forces and the Shia parties that engineered his ascension to power. There is only one problem with this tale of Maliki’s woes. The Prime Minister is the defacto chairman of the death squads – a radical partisan leader who is out to insure Shia supremacy in the new Iraq. Maliki, Bayan Jabr and Moqtada Sadr are cut of the same ideological cloth. They are men who have spent a lifetime in the quest to convert Iraq into a Shia theocracy – by any means necessary.
Read in Full It turns out that the Clinton Administration did a reality-based analysis of what an invasion of Iraq would entail. They concluded it would not be a cakewalk. [Funny thing about reality -- it's actually real -- C]Excerpt:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A series of secret U.S. war games in 1999 showed that an invasion and post-war administration of Iraq would require 400,000 troops, nearly three times the number there now. And even then, the games showed, the country still had a chance of dissolving into chaos. In the simulation, called Desert Crossing, 70 military, diplomatic and intelligence participants concluded the high troop levels would be needed to keep order, seal borders and take care of other security needs. The documents came to light Saturday through a Freedom of Information Act request by George Washington University's National Security Archive, an independent research institute and library. "The conventional wisdom is the U.S. mistake in Iraq was not enough troops," said Thomas Blanton, the archive's director. "But the Desert Crossing war game in 1999 suggests we would have ended up with a failed state even with 400,000 troops on the ground." snip The war games looked at "worst case" and "most likely" scenarios after a war that removed then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from power. Some of the conclusions are similar to what actually occurred after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003: # "A change in regimes does not guarantee stability," the 1999 seminar briefings said. "A number of factors including aggressive neighbors, fragmentation along religious and/or ethnic lines, and chaos created by rival forces bidding for power could adversely affect regional stability." # "Even when civil order is restored and borders are secured, the replacement regime could be problematic -- especially if perceived as weak, a puppet, or out-of-step with prevailing regional governments." # "Iran's anti-Americanism could be enflamed by a U.S.-led intervention in Iraq," the briefings read. "The influx of U.S. and other western forces into Iraq would exacerbate worries in Tehran, as would the installation of a pro-western government in Baghdad." # "The debate on post-Saddam Iraq also reveals the paucity of information about the potential and capabilities of the external Iraqi opposition groups. The lack of intelligence concerning their roles hampers U.S. policy development." # "Also, some participants believe that no Arab government will welcome the kind of lengthy U.S. presence that would be required to install and sustain a democratic government." # "A long-term, large-scale military intervention may be at odds with many coalition partners."
Dexter Filkins catches up with Ahmad Chalabi, back in exile in London. It's pretty ugly. A long piece, worth reading if you have a strong stomach. Here's one money quote: "Turkish coffee is served, then tea. I consider Chalabi's predicament: the Iraqi patrician, confidant of prime ministers and presidents, the M.I.T.- and University of Chicago-trained mathematics professor, owner of a Mayfair flat, complaining of being regarded, by the masters he once manipulated, as a scruffy, shiftless native." Don't forget to buy your cardboard Daddies while the supply lasts. Heavy call-ups expected after Nov. 7. Excerpt:
By Ann Scott Tyson Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, November 5 The Army's National Guard and Reserve are bracing for possible new and accelerated call-ups, spurred by high demand for U.S. troops in Iraq, that leaders caution could undermine the citizen-soldier force as it struggles to rebuild. Two Army National Guard combat brigades with about 7,000 troops have been identified recently in classified rotational plans for possible special deployment to Iraq, according to senior Army and Pentagon officials, who asked that the specific units not be named. One brigade could be diverted to Iraq next year from another assignment, and the other could be sent there in 2008, a year ahead of schedule. Next year, the number of Army Guard soldiers providing security in Iraq will surge to more than 6,000 in about 50 companies, compared with 20 companies two years ago, Guard officials said. "We thought we'd see a downturn in operational tempo, but that hasn't happened," said one official. A more sweeping policy shift is under consideration that would allow the Pentagon to launch a new wave of involuntary mobilizations of the reserves, as a growing proportion of Guard and Reserve soldiers are nearing a 24-month limit on time deployed, they said. Army officials said no decision had been made on the politically sensitive topic but that serious deliberations will unfold in the coming months. Senior Army leaders have made clear that without a bigger active-duty force, the only way they can maintain the intense pace of rotations in Iraq and Afghanistan is by relying more heavily on the reserves, which make up 52 percent of the Army's total manpower. The Army as a whole is providing the bulk of the forces in today's wars, with about 105,000 soldiers in Iraq and 16,000 in Afghanistan. Stress on soldiers and their families is mounting as active-duty combat brigades now spend only a year to 14 months home between rotations, compared with a goal of two years -- a trend that Army leaders worry is not sustainable in the long term. Reserve and Guard units are staying home on average three years, compared with a goal of four or five, Army officials said. "It goes without question that Guard brigade combat teams are going to have to deploy again to theater in less time than the . . . model originally called for," said retired Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Stephen M. Koper, president of the National Guard Association. Yet ordering more citizen-soldiers out of their communities and into war zones imposes a special burden, as reservists are older and more likely to have families and civilian jobs, and must also shoulder the task of responding to homeland disasters and other emergencies. Army Reserve and Guard leaders say that stepped-up mobilizations -- depending on their timing and scope -- could undercut recent efforts to rebuild the forces, which have suffered a depletion of manpower and equipment and have seen their units fragmented over five years of record deployments since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Read in Full Police officer in Mosul lives in constant terror. Excerpt:
By Yasemeen Ahmed in Mosul (ICR No. 200, 3-Nov-06) When Qusay Muhammad Abbas goes to work, he looks as if he is about to rob a bank - his face covered in a black mask and a machinegun strapped to his shoulder. But Abbas is no criminal. As an Iraqi policeman, he has to hide his identity to protect his life and that of his family, and needs to be well armed, since not a day goes by without a handful officers being killed or kidnapped. Major General Joseph Peterson, who oversees the US army’s training programme for Iraqi policemen, says around 4000 of them have been killed - and 8000 wounded - over the last two years. According to Peterson, 186,000 officers had been trained by October 2006, having passed through six police academies in Iraq and one in Jordan, which together turn out 3,500 graduates every ten weeks. But critics maintain that the courses are too short and the quality of recruits poor. As a result, they say, the force performs badly, with officers often linked to militias and death squads suspected of hundreds of kidnappings and murders every month. In Mosul, Abbas and his colleagues have set up a checkpoint in a residential area. They wear masks and flak jackets, and have their machine guns at the ready as they approach cars, in search of militants and weapons. Abbas, 27, describes himself as a simple man who joined the force because he could not find another job. He said he was well aware of the risks, but “I'm a young man, just married and with many financial obligations”. Abbas makes 402,000 Iraqi dinars per month plus a so-called danger allowance that brings his salary to 575.000 dinars, around 390 US dollars. Enough to risk his life? “ I’m very frank. I’ve no intention of getting involved in bloody battles unless I’m fired on,” he said. Abbas leaves his home at seven in the morning in casual clothes and rushes to police headquarters, hoping no one will recognise him. Once at work, he puts on his uniform, masks his face and goes out on patrol. The threats he faces as soon as he leaves the police compound are multiple: car bombs, roadside bombs and gunfights with insurgents who often roam the streets of Mosul. Recently, an unidentified assailant threw a hand grenade at a police patrol in the Abi Tamam neighbourhood, killing several officers. Sometimes, Abbas says he despairs of his job, “How will we be able to protect others if we are unable to protect ourselves?” That he as a policeman has to hide his face while some insurgents have no such concerns seems to him to be something of a paradox. “We stand here and check cars but any moment a roadside bomb or a car bomb can go off and separate heads from bodies, maybe those of our colleagues. This makes us feel death is very close to us,” he went on. Whenever his family hears the sound of an explosion, he says they start to worry and he has to call them, “They get very tense until I return home. But we can’t go home every day.” When he’s back with his family, he finds it hard to forget about his work, as the terrible security situation is constantly discussed. Abbas, a computer science graduate, tried to work in other fields but to no avail. After completing his education in the summer of 2003, a few months after the fall of the former regime, he was unemployed for several months before being offered a job in a government department, at 60 US dollars per month. But not long after he took the post, he was made redundant. “I walked every day until my feet got tired to find a new job, with the government or in the private sector,” he said, finally giving up and joining the police. “I was a normal citizen when I was jobless. Now I have a job but I'm a target." But officers are not just wary of insurgents, they also suspect each other of siding with them. "I’m fearful of the colleague standing next to me when we are out on patrol because he might be a terrorist,” continued Abbas. Policemen have good reason to be worried because they’ve been infiltrated by people who pass on the names, addresses and working hours of officers to militant groups.
Read in Full NYT's C.J. Chivers discusses evolving insurgent tactics, increasing effectiveness of snipers. Quote of the Day The Republican-led Congress has given President Bush a blank check on the war. With few exceptions, for the past three years GOP House and Senate leaders have shown little interest in learning how the war has been going or what Bush has been doing, as measured by congressional oversight. It's almost inconceivable that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as Woodward reported, had to clamor for nearly a year to get Condoleezza Rice to testify about Iraq. That the Senate's premier committee for national foreign policy debates could allow itself to be so humiliated speaks volumes about congressional obeisance to the Bush White House. -- Columnist Colbert I. King


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