Sunday, December 31, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SUNDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2006 Bangladeshi activists of an Islamic group shout slogans as they protest the execution of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2006. The banner in Bangla reads 'Hang U.S President Bush'. World political and religious leaders were divided over whether Saddam Hussein's execution Saturday would serve as a milestone toward peace or motivation for further conflict in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Pavel Rahman) Note: Such demonstrations occurred in several countries, but they received little or no attention in U.S. media. The wreckage of a vehicle used in a bomb attack lie on a road in Baghdad, December 31, 2006. A car bomb killed one person and wounded four others in central Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source said. REUTERS/Namir Noor-Eldeen(IRAQ) Note: This does not appear to be the same incident reported by Reuters elsewhere (see below), as the location and casualty toll differ, nor does it appear to be the incident reported by IRIB. Once again, we have an incident described only in a photo caption. -- C Baghdad Interior Ministry source says 12 bodies found in various places showing signs of torture. A car bomb near a Sunni mosque killed two people and wounded eight on Saturday in al-Dhubat street in Adhamiya district in northern Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source said. Two killed and two wounded when unknown men fired a katyusha rocket in the capital's northwest district of Kadhimiyah. One killed and six others wounded in a car bomb attack in the northern neighbourhood of Hurriyah, a day after 37 people died in a triple car bomb attack in the same area. One person was killed and five wounded in a car bomb explosion in the Sshawaqha neighbourhood of downtown Baghdad. Near Fallujah Police station in Garma, near Fallujah, is attacked and burned. Attackers have portraits of Saddam in their vehicles, according to this report. (Note: This is a news service I am not familiar with, but this account seems credible. Does anyone know more about Voices of Iraq? It's predominantly Arabic but offers this English translation of one story. -- C) U.S. military says it detained 5 suspected militants in Fallujah, and 15 more in nearby Habaniya. Hawijah A group of gunmen in vehicles attacked an Iraqi army checkpoint in Hawijah, west of Kirkuk, killing three soldiers and wounding another two, local police captain Ata'allah Mahmud said. Note: There have been comparatively few reports of violence today, but I note that I found some incidents in Middle Eastern sources that were not mentioned by the major western wire services. It is likely that the attention of reporters and authorities is largely elsewhere today. -- C Other News of the Day Saddam composed, defiant, on-message to the end.
By STEVEN R. HURST, Associated Press Writer By several accounts, Saddam was calm but scornful of his captors, engaging in a give-and-take with the crowd gathered to watch him die and insisting he was Iraq's savior, not its tyrant and scourge. "He said we are going to heaven and our enemies will rot in hell and he also called for forgiveness and love among Iraqis but also stressed that the Iraqis should fight the Americans and the Persians," Munir Haddad, an appeals court judge who witnessed the hanging, told the British Broadcasting Corp. Another witness, national security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie, told The New York Times that one of the guards shouted at Saddam: "You have destroyed us. You have killed us. You have made us live in destitution." "I have saved you from destitution and misery and destroyed your enemies, the Persian and Americans," Saddam responded, al-Rubaie told the Times. "God damn you," the guard said. "God damn you," responded Saddam. New video, first broadcast by Al-Jazeera satellite television early Sunday, had sound of someone in the group praising the founder of the Shiite Dawa Party, who was executed in 1980 along with his sister by Saddam. Saddam appeared to smile at those taunting him from below the gallows. He said they were not showing manhood. Then Saddam began reciting the "Shahada," a Muslim prayer that says there is no god but God and Muhammad is his messenger, according to an unabridged copy of the same tape, apparently shot with a camera phone and posted on a Web site. Saddam made it to midway through his second recitation of the verse. His last word was Muhammad. The floor dropped out of the gallows. "The tyrant has fallen," someone in the group of onlookers shouted. The video showed a close-up of Saddam's face as he swung from the rope. Then came another voice: "Let him swing for three minutes."
Read in Full (This article also has some accounts of reaction in Iraq. The account of Saddam's last moments is about halfway down.) The AFP account adds some very interesting details about the comportment of the executioners. (Now remind me -- who is it the U.S. is gearing up to kill next? I seem to remember a lot of talk in D.C. about some guy named Muqtada . . . --C)
During the final minutes of his hanging the executioners sent Saddam to the gallows with mocking taunts, chanting the name of one of his most bitter opponents as they readied his noose and filmed the scene. In the latest footage of the execution, apparently captured on a mobile phone and now spreading across the Internet, Shiite witnesses to Saddam's hanging can be heard chanting "Moqtada, Moqtada, Moqtada!" The reference is to Moqtada al-Sadr, a radical Shiite cleric whose father and uncle were murdered by Saddam's agents, and who has risen to prominence since Saddam's fall as a politician and militia leader. The deposed dictator appears to react angrily and sarcastically to the chants, but remains composed during his last minutes. He appears standing on a dusty steel platform in a dark hall in the north Baghdad military base, his hands bound and a rough hemp rope round his neck. As Saddam drops through the metal trapdoor his last prayer, the "shahada" or final testimony, is caught short: "There is no God but God, and Mohammed is his prophet. There is no God but God and Mohammed..." Noise erupts in the room as the filmmaker struggles to get a shot of Saddam's face, hanging lifeless to one side. "The tyrant has fallen, damn him!"
AFP also gives an account of Saddam's burial. The U.S. provided air transport for Saddam's body to burial place in town of Awja. (Also sometimes rendered as Ouja.)
TIKRIT, Iraq (AFP) - Saddam Hussein, the notorious despot whose image once adorned every public building in Iraq, has been buried privately and in the dead of night, one day after swinging from the gallows. At a covert ceremony in a village hall, tribal elders, clansmen and provincial leaders gathered in the bitter cold after hours spent slicing through red tape in Baghdad to fly their hero home on a US aircraft. "In the presence of (Salaheddin) Governor Hamad al-Shakti, clan chief Ali al-Nada and scores of the people of Awja, we buried the body at around 3:30 in the morning," Saddam's cousin Hamid Suleiman al-Majid told AFP on Sunday. After the burial, hundreds of grim-faced mourners from the nearby town of Tikrit sidestepped a vehicle ban to walk the four kilometres (two miles) to pay their respects at the fresh grave, which was drapped in an Iraqi flag. Hanging their heads, raising their hands in prayer and wiping away tears, men gathered in traditional dress and leather jackets around the fresh cement sealing the hole in the marble floor of a village hall. Saddam was lowered into the ground less than 24 hours after his execution for crimes against humanity. His cousin said the Americans and US-backed Iraqi government had banned a traditional presidential-style wake. "The American forces and the Iraqi government ordered the body to be buried quickly without holding a wake," he said. The deputy Salaheddin governor, one of three officials to escort Saddam's body back, told local television how officials had persuaded the government to release the body in accordance with the family's wishes. Abdullah Hussein Jabara said Saddam's face was bruised but there were no traces of aggression on the body -- which had been shrouded and filmed by Iraqi television in footage beamed around the world as proof of death. Some Iraqi Sunnis had seized on the bruises to claim that Saddam had been tortured, but his cousin and officials said they were caused by the hanging. A Sunni cleric then washed the corpse, Jabara said, put it in a coffin and prayed over it near the Iraqi prime minister's office inside the heavily fortified Green Zone, seat of the Baghdad government and the US embassy. Jabara said the delegation had needed to secure American permission, from as high up as President George W. Bush, for a US aircraft to fly Saddam home on a 180 kilometre (110-mile) journey which would be too dangerous by road. "We went to contact the Americans to secure a plane and that took more time than expected because it needed the approval of the US State Department and even Bush personally, we were told," he said. Saddam's body was then flown out of Baghdad at 1:00 am and was met at an air base 90 minutes later by a police car that escorted the small cortege to Awja, finally arriving at 3:15 am to waiting clansmen. A government official in Baghdad also said a US helicopter flew Saddam's body to Tikrit. There was no official comment from either the American embassy or military. "After a cleric made sure the body was washed and coffined, we prayed on the body and buried it at around 4:00 today," Jabara said. While emotions ran high, there was no "bad behaviour that did not fit the occasion".
Read in Full Reaction in Iraq to the execution is, of course, sharply mixed.
Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily. BAGHDAD, Dec. 30 (IPS) - New divisions appear to be opening up between Iraqi political and religious leaders following the execution of Saddam Hussein Saturday. Former president Saddam Hussein was hanged at an army base in the predominantly Shia district of Khadamiya in northern Baghdad outside of Baghdad's Green Zone just before 6am local time. The execution of the 69-year-old former dictator was witnessed by a representative of Prime Minster Nouri al-Maliki and a Muslim cleric among others. The execution appears already to be generating more sectarianism, which has already claimed tens of thousands of lives in the war-torn country. Sectarian divisions have opened up primarily between Shias and Sunnis, who follow different belief systems within Islam. Several Shia leaders, particularly those of Iranian origin, say the execution would be a blow to resistance against the Iraqi government by Saddam loyalists. In Baghdad's sprawling Shia slum, the Sadr City, where most of the three million inhabitants are loyal to the Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, people danced in the streets while others fired in the air to celebrate the execution. National security advisor Mouaffaq al-Rubaii, a Shia, declared that "we wanted him to be executed on a special day." [Apparently a reference to Eid al-Adha.] Celebrations in Kurdish areas were no expression of unmixed joy, even though Kurds were persecuted more than any other group under Saddam's regime. "The world ignored Saddam's crimes when he committed them," Azad Bakir, a 35-year-old engineer in the northern Kurdish city Arbil told IPS on phone. "But we are committing the same crime again by executing him like this." And few Sunnis were cheering Saddam's death. A senior member of the Islamic Party who asked not to be named said the timing of the execution at the start of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha would prove a grave mistake. The festival marks the end of the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. Muhammad Ayash, a spokesman for the Association of Muslim Scholars, a leading Sunni group, said Saddam had served his country well, and had been punished for the wrong reasons. "He was executed for the good things he did such as fighting the U.S. aggression against the Arab nation," Ayash told IPS. "He stopped the dark Iranian plans in the area, and helped Palestinians survive the continuous Israeli crimes." In predominantly Sunni cities like Beji, Ramadi and Saddam's hometown Tikrit, people fired shots in protest and swore to avenge the execution of the "legitimate president" of Iraq. snip The resistance to occupation is expected to continue. A spokesman for the Al-Mujahideen Army resistance group in Ramadi told IPS that his group saw Saddam Hussein simply as the leader of the Ba'ath Party who was "a helpless man in jail when we conducted our heroic operations against invaders." The spokesman, who refused to give his name, added: "We praise his bravery in facing death, but his death will not increase or decrease our carefully planned actions until the U.S. invaders and their allies leave our country." Across Iraq, Saddam seems to have won respect for the calm with which he went to his execution. And that could increase sympathy for him and his family.
Read in Full Hundreds said to travel to Saddam's grave. Unclear whether authorities are trying to enforce a travel ban to Awja, although it appears Tikrit is blockaded.
Hundreds of Iraqis have travelled to pay their respects to Saddam Hussein who was buried early Sunday in his hometown, 24 hours after his execution, The Associated Press reports. The former Iraqi dictator was buried in a religious compound in the village of Ouja, near Tikrit, close to his sons Qusay and Uday, who were killed during a gun battle with U.S. forces in 2003. Scores of relatives and other mourners attended the burial ceremony shortly before dawn. Many of them wept and moaned, while others knelt before his flag-draped grave. A large photograph of Saddam was propped up on a nearby chair. "I condemn the way he was executed and I consider it a crime," said 45-year-old Salam Hassan al-Nasseri, one of Saddam's clansmen who attended the interment. Mohammed Natiq, a 24-year-old college student, said "the path of Arab nationalism must inevitably be paved with blood. God has decided that Saddam Hussein should have such an end, but his march and the course which he followed will not end." After Saddam's execution, police blocked off the entrances to Tikrit, a Sunni Arab stronghold, and said no one would be permitted to enter or leave the city for four days. Despite the decree, armed men took to the streets, marching and firing in the air and calling for vengeance for Saddam's death. It wasn't clear whether police had lifted the Tikrit travel ban to allow people to pay their respects to Saddam.
Read in Full WaPo's Nancy Trejos finds Iraqis she spoke with attach little importance to Saddam's demise. Excerpt:
By Nancy Trejos, Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, December 31, 2006; Page A21 BAGHDAD, Dec. 30 -- Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein had been dead no more than 11 hours, but to Um Noor, he might as well have died three years ago. "We've forgotten about him," Noor said late Saturday afternoon, as she stood in the jeans store she owns in central Baghdad. Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death in November for his role in the 1982 execution of about 150 people in the Shiite town of Dujail. Like many Iraqis, Noor once feared Hussein, who rose to power 24 years ago by ruthlessly wiping out his enemies. When U.S. troops ousted him in 2003, many Iraqis believed their days of living in fear were over. But three years later, Iraqis are still a terrorized people. Now, instead of Hussein, they fear the car bombs that maim and kill every day, the kidnappers who snatch people off the streets in broad daylight, the mortar shells that fall on residential neighborhoods. And they fear each other, as Shiite Muslims fight Sunni Arabs in what is spiraling into a civil war. Despite an infusion of billions of dollars in reconstruction funds from the United States, they are watching their quality of life deteriorate. They spend hours each day with no electricity. They wait in long lines for fuel. And they pay higher prices for food while their salaries remain the same. "Everything is worse," Noor said. "What did we gain from him being gone?" The initial jubilation among many Iraqis following Hussein's execution Saturday morning gave way to the realization that his death would not bring an end to the daily violence that Iraqis now endure or improve the services they could once count on.
Read in Full World Reaction to Hanging of Saddam Demonstrators organized by Fatah protest the execution in the West Bank. (These demonstrators reveal their sympathy for Iraqi Sunni Arabs and the former Baathist regime by including Iran in their condemnations. Iran, of course, approved of the execution. -- C)
ENIN, West Bank (AFP) - Carrying a symbolic coffin for Saddam Hussein, more than 1,000 Palestinians have demonstrated in Jenin in the northern West Bank, in response to the ex-Iraqi president's execution. Demonstrators carried pictures of Saddam and chanted slogans against Iran, the United States and Israel in a rally instigated by moderate Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah party on Sunday. Some 200 Palestinians demonstrated in protest at Saddam's execution on Saturday in the West Bank town of Bethlehem. The former Iraqi dictator was one of the most popular Arab leaders among Palestinians, due in part to his payments of millions of dollars to the families of suicide bombers and anti-Israel fighters, as well as his missile attacks on Israel during the 1991 Gulf War.
Palestinians in Jordan also hold prayers and rally in memory of Saddam. Former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani hails execution of Saddam as "divine justice. However, current President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad says "the execution prevented exposure of the secrets and crimes the former dictator committed during his brutal rule," according to AP. Iraqi-Americans interviewed by IPS regret the hasty execution, saying it aborts the opportunity for a full investigation and airing of the crimes of the former regime, including the complicity of the Reagan administration and Donald Rumsfeld specifically.
By Aaron Glantz. SAN FRANCISCO, California, Dec 30 (IPS) - Iraqi-Americans reacted with sadness to the execution of Saddam Hussein Saturday, calling the former Iraqi president's death by hanging early this morning Baghdad time a missed opportunity for justice. An Iraqi tribunal set up by the U.S. government had convicted Hussein of murder in the killings of 148 Shiite Muslims from the Iraqi town of Dujail, where assassins had tried to kill Hussein in 1982. The crime, while severe, is actually one of his smaller-scale atrocities. In 1988, Hussein's government began the Anfal campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Kurds of northern Iraq. More than 100,000 Kurds were killed, many of them lined up and stripped before being machine gunned and dumped into trenches. "As a Kurd, I don't think Saddam should have been executed right now," Kani Xulam, founder of the Washington-based American Kurdish Information Network, told IPS. "They say suffering brings about compassion," he said, "but if suffering is not validated, is not honoured, is not heard, then people turn into cynics. Those are the issues that the Kurds feel, that I as a Kurdish activist feel." In death, Xulam said, Hussein will escape justice for gassing Kurdish civilians with chemical weapons, as well as the brutal murders of thousands of Shiites who rose up against his regime at George Bush Sr.'s urging after the 1991 Gulf War. Those killings, taken together, account for most of those buried in mass graves unearthed after the U.S. military invaded Iraq and toppled the regime in 2003. Xulam said he was hoping that the public airing of evidence of Hussein's crimes would bring closure to his victims and greater understanding to Iraqi society as a whole. Now, he said, such closure may be impossible. "Justice is not being served as far as I can see," he said. "There's a miscarriage of justice; 142 killings is a tiny speck in the larger crimes that he has committed. Imagine if Hitler were alive to be prosecuted. A lot of details of his crimes would have come out. Hitler committed suicide, but Saddam was captured and I think this trial should have continued." Shakir Mustafa, a Baghdad-born professor at Boston University, agreed with Xulam's analysis. "During the trial, Saddam sounded really ready to provide such details," Dr. Mustafa said. "For the Dujail case, for example, Saddam said 'Yes, I wanted these men executed because they committed a crime. They wanted to assassinate me.' He volunteered these and other details and I think the Iraqi people would be interested in hearing about what he says he had done for Iraq's security." Another reason Hussein's hanging is unlikely to bring closure to his victims, Mustafa said, is the fact that his trial was carried out under an unpopular U.S. occupation. The trial "lacks legitimacy," he said. "[It's] being done by an occupying force and government that very much lacks legitimacy itself, so that closure, I don't think its coming," he added. From the beginning, observers note, Hussein's trial had been directly supervised by U.S. officials. It was funded by a 138-million-dollar grant from Congress and by a large staff of foreigners working out of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad called the Regimes Crime Unit. Previous key moments of Hussein's trial had coincided closely with the needs of the George W. Bush administration. In August, the trial recessed only to reconvene on Sep. 11, the anniversary of the al Qaeda terror attacks on the United States. And Hussein was sentenced to death shortly before the U.S. midterm congressional elections in November. Scott Horton, the chair of the International Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association, who worked on the trial, told IPS there was little doubt that the death sentence was intentionally handed down on the eve of the elections. He said Washington exercised especially tight control over the tribunal's schedule. "Access to the courtroom is controlled by the Americans, security is controlled by the Americans, and the Americans have custody over the defendants who must be produced before the trial can go forward, so whether they have the trial on day x or day y depends on the Americans giving their okay," he said. "What is really being presented here is the narrative of people in power, the victors not the victims," Professor Mustafa said. "The Americans, not the Iraqis. Not people like me and my relatives who lost loved ones, but people who are deciding things in Iraq now." Some observers believe Washington closely managed the trial in order to avoid having Hussein reveal damaging secrets about his past relations with U.S. presidents, especially Ronald Reagan. In November 1983, Reagan removed Iraq from the U.S. government's official list of nations that "support international terrorism". That opened the door to full diplomatic and economic cooperation between Iraq and the United States. The next month, Reagan he sent an emissary to Baghdad bearing a personal letter for Hussein. That emissary was none other than recently departed Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld. A declassified official note at the time read: "Saddam Hussein showed obvious pleasure with the President's letter and Rumsfeld's visits in his remarks." Rumsfeld also met Hussein's foreign minister Tariq Aziz. According to a State Department memo made available by the non-profit National Security Archive in Washington, Rumsfeld told Aziz: "The United States and Iraq share many common interests," and the Reagan administration had a "willingness to do more" to "help Iraq". Throughout this period, the Reagan administration largely ignored reports that Saddam Hussein was using chemical weapons against the Iranian army and against domestic Kurdish insurgents. "While condemning Iraq's resort to chemical weapons," a U.S. government press release read, "the United States finds the Iranian regime's intransigent refusal to deviate from its avowed objective of eliminating the legitimate government of Iraq to be inconsistent with accepted norms." With Hussein's execution, his precise relationship with the United States government during the Cold War will go unexplored, as will any investigation into possible U.S. complicity with specific crimes. Companies that sold chemical weapons and other instruments of terror to Hussein are also likely off the hook with his death. "I think there are companies that supported Saddam inside the U.S. and Europe," the American Kurdish Information Network's Kani Xulam told IPS. "My fear now is that they will go scot-free." (END/2006)
While governments around the world are reticent, the BBC audience weighs in with sharp perspectives Some samples: (and you can add your own, BTW):
Justice has been poorly served. Saddam was not tried for many other serious crimes. Justice would have been as well served by pushing Saddam against a wall and shooting within 24 hours of his capture. He deserved no more. However it is for the rest of us that a proper trial and full facing of his crimes was due, this hasn't happened. His death will do little to heal the rifts within Iraq, mis-handling post invasion made Saddam irrelevent. This is political oppertunism not a foundation for peace. barry b, London Many countries speak against the execution of Saddam after his death. These countries never came forward to contain the US in its unilateral actions of imposing sanctions against Iraq or the US invading it illegally. This is hypocracy. What is so shocking is the deadly silence of the Arab League. With Saddam's execution, the US policy is given clean chit to kill any Arab ruler, any time on any pretext. The threat of the US to world peace is real with the exit of Saddam and destruction of Iraq. C. Sachidananda Narayanan, Tirunelveli, India. for all those arabs hailing saddam as the great arab hero, its quite sad that this is the best we can come up with. Bush is no better, but that does not mean we as arabs have to lower our standards and accept anyone that seems to stand up to bush as a hero, we really should think better of ourselves, after all its from our part of the world that one the greatest civilizations sprang... lets stop killing each other and stop being sheep to leaders like saddam, nasrallah or even saniora! Nassim, Dubai The timing was bad! Why did the government Of Iraq and its allies decide to hang Mr. Sadam Hussein on the Idi day? Did they want to humiliate the world moslems!! Bachu. Bachu Mubarak, Kampala Uganda Saddam's execution came shocking to me. What he did was wrong and he should have been punished. In the end, Thanks to the US, it would only help them by widenning the SHIA/Sunni (the muslim) gap more on a broader level. The time was literally inapproproate. They attacked Afghanistan in the time of Ramadan, now Saddam's death on Bakr-Eid, what are they trying to prove? The mockery is pathetic for a man who is about to die. Our Prophet Mohammad showed respect even to his worse enemies. It is wrong Mohammad Zohaib Kazi, Karachi What on earth gives you the right to invade that country and kill their leader? No matter what a terrible leader he is... that is HIS country! Is that so called "human rights"??? Yihui, Oxford, Shanghai Bush believes that Sadam is evil and that America is the axis of goodness .What a shame to hear that from the mouth of an American president! I wasn't expecting him to utter such rubbish comments .The saga of Bush as a butcher will be read by the whole Arab nation .His hawkish attitude is a common feature among the Bush's family;it has been handed from one generation to another . The execution of Saddam will plunge Irak in the depths of chaos , insecurity and sectarian war . What a shame!!!!! behri mustapha, morocco
Or, of course, you can offer your reaction here at TiI Commentary and Analysis John Collins discusses U.S. complicity in the crimes of the Saddam Hussein regime, and the memory hole.
An existential question: If journalism is the first draft of history, then what is journalism that denies history? Is it still journalism? The question came to mind Friday night as CNN's Anderson Cooper led Americans through the initial moments following the execution of Saddam Hussein. Conveniently carried out just five minutes past the hour when "Anderson Cooper 360" goes on the air, the execution provided an opportunity for viewers to think about the long story of the Iraqi leader's brutal reign. Yet when it came to informing the audience about one key aspect of that history - the role of the United States in helping to create and maintain the "butcher of Baghdad" - CNN offered only amnesia. In the rush to celebrate the death of the "butcher of Baghdad," we are up to our necks in denial. Throughout the CNN broadcast, as news gradually trickled in concerning the details of the execution, viewers were treated to a highly selective loop of stock images of the condemned: Saddam brandishing a tribal sword offered as a gift by one of his fawning subjects, Saddam firing a gun, Saddam laughing his cartoonish dictator laugh, Saddam defiantly reading a statement at the start of the U.S. invasion in 2003, Saddam smoking a cigar, Saddam being checked for lice by U.S. military doctors, Saddam wildly gesturing during his recent trial. And the photo of Saddam shaking hands with U.S. envoy Donald Rumsfeld back in December 1983? Absent. With the inevitable headline ("Death of a Dictator") already in place, the storyline was set. This was to be about Saddam facing "justice" for crimes that he alone committed. The U.S. presence in the story was to be, at most, a ghostly one limited to providing legal and moral guidance from behind the scenes. As if to confirm this paternalistic and self-serving fiction, CNN's Elaine Quijano dutifully reported from Waco that President Bush, not wanting to appear that he was "gloating" over the final humiliation of the Iraqi leader, was keeping a low profile. Viewers who were dissatisfied with "Anderson Cooper 360" might have found themselves turning to the New York Times for a better sense of perspective. Yet while yesterday's obituary in the Times was impressive for its length (over 5000 words), it provided little more in terms of historical context. Rather than offering readers a responsible assessment of their own government's role in the life and crimes of the Iraqi leader, author Neil MacFarquhar elected to repeat the kind of sensational details Americans have come to expect when the country's designated enemies are profiled: Saddam as megalomaniac (he believed "he was destined by God to rule Iraq forever" and possessed "boundless egotism and self-delusion"), Saddam as Mafioso (the "Corleone-like feuds" of his family "became the stuff of gory public soap operas"), Saddam as traumatized child ("persistent stories suggest that Mr. Hussein's stepfather delighted in humiliating the boy and forced him to tend sheep"), Saddam as sadistic murderer (while reading the names of Baath party officials allegedly involved in a supposed coup plot, "Mr. Hussein paused from reading occasionally to light his cigar, while the room erupted in almost hysterical chanting demanding death to traitors"), Saddam as narcissist ("He dyed his hair black and refused to wear his reading glasses in public, according to interviews with exiles"), Saddam as paranoid ("Delicacies like imported lobster were first dispatched to nuclear scientists to be tested for radiation and poison"), and on and on. And the inconvenient history of U.S. support for the man now being mentioned in the same breath as Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot? Aside from a single reference to the U.S. decision to back Iraq in its war with Iran, the obituary is silent. All other references to the U.S. cover events from 1990 onwards. The choice of verbs tells it all: Saddam, his regime, and his country are variously described as being "toppled," "routed," "penetrated," and "expelled" by U.S. military might. One has to look to the bloggers, muckrakers and scholars to find the verbs that tell the rest of the story: "installed," "provided," "enabled," "encouraged," and "sold." Reading and watching the kind of mainstream coverage provided by CNN and the New York Times during the last 48 hours, one could be forgiven for believing that the relationship between Saddam and the U.S. had always been one of enmity and violence. Yet as Juan Cole and others have tirelessly pointed out, the U.S. government began "enabling" Saddam as early as 1959 when the CIA enlisted his help in undermining the government of Abdul Karim Qasim.
Read in Full Juan Cole expects the hanging of Hussein will only deepen divisions:
The body of Saddam, as it swung from the gallows at 6 a.m. Saturday Baghdad time, cast an ominous shadow over Iraq. The execution provoked intense questions about whether his trial was fair and about what the fallout will be. One thing is certain: The trial and execution of Saddam were about revenge, not justice. Instead of promoting national reconciliation, this act of revenge helped Saddam portray himself one last time as a symbol of Sunni Arab resistance, and became one more incitement to sectarian warfare. Saddam Hussein was tried under the shadow of a foreign military occupation, by a government full of his personal enemies. The first judge, an ethnic Kurd, resigned because of government interference in the trial; the judge who took his place was also Kurdish and had grievances against the accused. Three of Saddam's defense lawyers were shot down in cold blood. The surviving members of his defense team went on strike to protest the lack of protection afforded them. The court then appointed new lawyers who had no expertise in international law. Most of the witnesses against Saddam gave hearsay evidence. The trial ground slowly but certainly toward the inevitable death verdict.
Read in Full Must endure annoying ad to enter Salon. Boston Globe's Colin Nickerson tells the story of the 399th Combat Support Hospital, an Army Reserve Unit near Mosul. (This is a pretty familiar story, that hasn't changed in fundamental ways since the days of MASH. But one important angle, that Nickerson doesn't really note, is that Iraq's health care system has collapsed, and only U.S. military hospitals can adequately care for Iraqi victims of violence. -- C) Richard Clarke continues his rant against the Bush admin for invading Iraq, diverting attention from major international crises, in a WaPo op-ed. (One could read one piece of his argument as being that Iraq has been bad for imperialism in the Americas and elsewhere, but you don't have to agree with all his objectives to accept the gist of the argument. -- C) QUOTE OF THE DAY In the aftermath of the international crimes against humanity of 2001 we have tortured, we have murdered, we have brutalised and killed the innocent - we have even added our shame at Abu Ghraib to Saddam's shame at Abu Ghraib - and yet we are supposed to forget these terrible crimes as we applaud the swinging corpse of the dictator we created. Who encouraged Saddam to invade Iran in 1980, which was the greatest war crime he has committed for it led to the deaths of a million and a half souls? And who sold him the components for the chemical weapons with which he drenched Iran and the Kurds? We did. No wonder the Americans, who controlled Saddam's weird trial, forbad any mention of this, his most obscene atrocity, in the charges against him. Could he not have been handed over to the Iranians for sentencing for this massive war crime? Of course not. Because that would also expose our culpability. Robert Fisk


Saturday, December 30, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SATURDAY, December 30, 2006 Photo: U.S. Army soldiers from 2nd Batallion, 17th Field Artillary Regiment patrol in a street in eastern Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2006. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic) December became the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Iraq in two years after the U.S. military reported six more combat deaths, leaving the tally just two short of the emotive 3,000 mark. Three U.S. marines died on Thursday from wounds suffered in combat in Iraq's western Anbar province. One soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in northwest Baghdad and another soldier was killed in Anbar on Friday, the military said on Saturday. Another statement announced the death of a U.S. soldier killed by a roadside bomb in southwest Baghdad on Friday. The latest deaths take the number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq since the invasion of March 2003 to 2,998, according to icasualties.org, a Web site that tracks U.S. deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. The number who died in December is now 109, three more than the previous high this year in October, and the highest since November 2004 when 137 U.S. servicemen and women died. OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Baghdad: A series of three coordinated car bombs exploded in a district in Baghdad, killing 15 people and wounding 25. The three cars exploded in rapid succession some 10 hours after the pre-dawn execution of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.
Two car bombs went off in succession on Saturday in the Shiite Hurriya city in Baghdad, killing and wounding scores of people, eyewitnesses said. "A car bomb went off today at 3:30 pm (Baghdad local time) near a popular market in al-Hurriya I, northwest of Baghdad, killing and wounding an unidentified number of casualties," an eyewitness told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). Another eyewitness said "a second car bomb was detonated, few minutes apart, near a market in al-Hurriya II, and that scores of shoppers were killed or wounded." It was not possible to immediately contact police sources to report the death toll. The blasts came only hours after the former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was hanged. Yet another car bombing, this time outside the Al-Iskan children's hospital north of Baghdad, killed at least two people and wounded eight.
A car bomb killed two people and wounded eight in Baghdad's western Mansour neighbourhood. A car bomb in the southern Baghdad neighbourhood of Saidiya wounded two policemen. Fallujah: The Iraqi police said on Saturday angry gunmen attacked and burnt out a police station and a court building in Garma district near Falluja. The gunmen later fled the scene after they burnt out the buildings of the police station and court with no reports of casualties, the source added. "U.S. forces rushed and cordoned off the area and raided some houses nearby," the source said. The source said "the gunmen were in cars that carried portraits of the former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein." A U.S. base in Falluja came under mortar attacks while explosive devices went off near two U.S. patrols in separate incidents in central Falluja, according to a security source on Friday. Tal Afar: A suicide bomber with explosives strapped to his body killed five people and wounded six in the northern city of Tal Afar. Kufa: Police in Kufa, near the Shi'ite holy city of Najaf, said 36 people were killed and 58 wounded by the car bomb at a market packed with shoppers ahead of the week-long Eid al-Adha holiday. They said a mob killed a man they accused of planting the bomb in the town about 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad. Mahmudiya: Police said the bodies of four people who had been tortured and shot dead were found in Mahmudiya, about 30 km (20 miles) south of Baghdad. Touz Khormato: Four Iraqi army soldiers were killed and a fifth was wounded in an armed attack on an army checkpoint in Touz Khormato town, Salah Eddin province, on Friday. Shatra: Eyewitness reported an exchange of gunfire between Mahdi Army elements and tribesmen in the town of Shatra, north of Nasriyah, according to Nasriyah News Net. The police closed all roads leading to the town and banned vehicles from entering following the clashes, which broke out because a member of the tribe was being held by Mahdi militiamen at the Martyr Sadr's Bureau. Similar clashes erupted in Hayy, south of Kut. >> NEWS Saddam dead at dawn: Saddam Hussein was hanged at dawn in Baghdad today, with the former Iraqi dictator refusing to wear a hood and yelling "God is great" as he stood on the gallows.
Citizens in the Shi'ite district of Abu Dshir, south of Baghdad, distributed sweets and chanted religious slogans in celebration of the news of Saddam's execution, but many voiced their doubts. "I doubt that he was really executed because they were supposed to broadcast the whole procedure for the people," said Walaa' Nusayif, 35, "I think that whatever images of his execution they broadcast will be doctored." Meanwhile in Karbala, citizens fired celebratory gunfire while the police declared an emergency in fear of violence breaking out. "I didn't sleep at all," said Mohammed Abdul Hussein, a civil servant, "I had a sense that he would be executed at dawn, so I kept the electric generator on all night until we saw the news on satellite channels." Police officials in Karbla stated that the increased security measures were a precaution against any retaliatory or terrorist attacks against citizens. Despite the celebratory environment, many citizens showed indifference. "Will the execution of Saddam return the smile to the faces of Iraqis who are suffering from fear and terrorism?" asked Um Hussein, "I doubt it because things will only get worse. Abu Ali, a retired state employee, said politicians decided Saddam's execution because they were searching for some gains in Iraq. "Saddam's execution means nothing to me because it will not bring back security to me," he said. Celebrations were also reported in the southern Iraqi cities of Najaf, Kut, Amara, Nasiriya and Basrah. There were protests and parades with demonstrators carrying posters of Saddam in the Sunni towns of Tikrit, Baiji, Ramadi and Garma. Police blocked the entrances to Tikrit and said nobody was allowed to leave or enter the city for four days. Despite the security precaution, gunmen took to the streets of Tikrit, carrying pictures of Saddam, shooting into the air, and calling for vengeance. Security forces also set up roadblocks at the entrance to another Sunni stronghold, Samarra, and a curfew was imposed after about 500 people took to the streets protesting the execution of Saddam. A couple hundred people also protested the execution just outside the Anbar capital of Ramadi, and more than 2,000 people demonstrated in Adwar, the village south of Tikrit where Saddam was captured by U.S. troops hiding in an underground bunker. Saddam Hussein's Baath Party exhorted Iraqis to "strike without mercy" at the U.S. occupiers and Shi'ite Iran to avenge the execution of Iraq's former president but warned them not to be drawn into a civil war. "Today is your great day. Strike without mercy at the joint enemy in Iraq -- America and Iran," the party said in a statement posted on an Iraqi Web site on Saturday. "Forget your organisational structures and take the stand of honour you deserve which is to take revenge for Saddam Hussein," said the statement, posted on the www.albasrah.net. (...) The pan-Arab Baath Party, which ruled Iraq for more than three decades until Saddam's fall but is now banned, warned followers to avoid harming fellow Iraqis. "Let your destructive response be by stepping up jihad (holy struggle) against the occupation and against Iran," said the statement. "Avoid reactions against Iraqis because this is what Iran and America want, which is to turn your holy jihad against the American-Iranian invasion into a civil war." "Our revenge from America and Iran is in defeating the occupation and causing it bigger losses."
The United Nations, the Vatican and Washington's European allies all condemned the execution on moral grounds. Many Muslims, especially Sunnis, making the haj pilgrimage to Mecca were also outraged by the symbolism of hanging Saddam on the holiest day of the year at the start of Eid al-Adha -- some Shi'ites also said his death was a suitable gift from God.
>> REPORTS December shaping up to be one of the worst months for Iraqi civilian deaths in Iraq since the AP began keeping track in May 2005. Through Thursday, at least 2,139 Iraqis have been killed in war-related or sectarian violence, an average rate of about 76 people a day, according to the AP count. That compares to at least 2,184 killed in November at an average of about 70 a day, the worst month for Iraqi civilians deaths since May 2005. In October, AP counted at least 1,216 civilians killed. The AP count includes civilians, government officials and police and security forces, and is considered a minimum based on AP reporting. The actual number is likely higher, as many killings go unreported. IraqSlogger: ARMY TIMES POLL: UNHAPPY TROOPS The American military, staunch supporters of President Bush and the Iraq war -- has grown increasingly pessimistic about chances for victory, according to the 2006 Military Times Poll, with results published in Army Times. Excerpts from the article are below.
The survey, which polled 6,000 active duty people at random (...) found that for the first time, more troops disapprove of the president's handling of the war than approve. The president's rating is low -- barely one-third of service members approve of the way of his handling the war. (...) In 2004, when the military was feeling most optimistic about the war, 83 percent of poll respondents thought success in Iraq was likely. This year, that number was only 50 percent. Only 35 percent of the military members polled this year said they approve of the way President Bush is handling the war, while 42 percent said they disapproved. The president's approval rating among the military is only slightly higher than for the population as a whole. In this year's poll only 41 percent of the military said the U.S. should have gone to war in Iraq in the first place, down from 65 percent in 2003. Almost half of those responding think we need more troops in Iraq than we have there now. A surprising 13 percent said we should have no troops there.
read in full... Missing Links: ANOTHER NEWSPAPER REPORT ON POTENTIAL CRIMINAL CASES AGAINST IRAQI GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS According to the London pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat, a spokesman for Saleh al-Mutlak's National Dialogue Front (Sunni) said officials in the current and former Iraqi governments should be brought before international courts for prosecution for crimes against humanity worse than those of Saddam Hussein. The spokesman, Mohamed Dayani, said the parliamentary opposition alliance has presented more than 600 supporting documents as evidence to war-crimes courts, and has sent many files which confirm the commiting of these crimes by officials of the various governments under the occupation, including the "governing council", the "transitional" and the "interim" governments, up to and including the present government. He said the targets include a group of important political and military persons involved in creation of death-squads, and genocide (ibada jamaiya: group extermination) against Iraqis, and the persons include Abdulaziz al-Hakim, head of SCIRI and leader of the UIA parliamentary group; Ibrahim Jaafari, the former Prime Minister; Abu Hassan al-Amari, head of the Badr Corps; Baqr Jabbar Solargh, Interior Minister under Jaafari and currently Finance Minister; Muwaffaq al-Rubaie current national security adviser; along with a group of senior Iraqi army officers. Dayani added that there has been formed a judicial council made up of Arabs, Americans and Europeans, to study these documents and files that have been presented by the parliamentary opposition to the special court for war crimes. read in full... Alive In Baghdad: CHRISTMAS SPECIAL - 12.25.2006 Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Eid Sa'eed, and whatever else you may celebrate. This week we're taking a look back at 2006, and a year of video about Iraq, by Iraqis. link >> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS Media Lens Message Board: THE WESTERN ANTI WAR MOVEMENT - THE LEFT BOOT OF IMPERIALISM? The silence of the western antiwar movement on the lynching of Saddam Hussein is deafening and is increasingly beginning to prove what a lot of discerning people have suspected all along - that the mainstream anti-war movement (including large parts of its left wing) in the west is the well concealed left boot of western imperialism, the conscience of the conqueror. The main reason given by western radicals - including many on this board for ignoring the assassination of the deposed Iraqi president is the crimes against humanity he has allegedly committed. How many of these 'left' activists then would welcome a Chinese invasion of the British Isles, the sacking of British cities, the incarceration and torture of tens of thousands of English youths in concentration camps scattered along the Yorkshire Dales, the murder of a million British citizens (the equivalent of the Iraq dead) if the reason Beijing gave for the invasion was to arrest, try and execute Tony Blair for the limitless war crimes he has directly and indirectly carried out in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine over the last three years - killing in Iraq alone (in 3 years) more than Saddam killed in 35. Saddam Hussein has not been tried; he has been executed by the west's leaders, while their 'radical' sons look the other way. If a serial killer was brought to trial in the UK and during the trial three of his defence lawyers were kidnapped, tortured and murdered, (clearly by state agents) the media lens message board for one will be heaving with anger and righteous fury, but now there is only silence. Saddam Hussein was a tyrant, but as president of Iraq, he represented something which nobody ever talks about these days, the sovereignty of his nation, by his judicial murder by a foreign invader the sovereignty of every poor third world nation has just been executed. The reason why the left in the west cares so little about that is because the sovereignty of poor nations is as much a threat to them as it is to their ruling circles. (...) The primary contradiction for the last 500 years has not been between classes but between nations, the poor and the rich ones. It has been a struggle by the west to dominate and control the rest of humanity. While the ordinary people in the west do not participate in the oppression willingly, many of them share the same patronising and superior attitudes of their leaders. Thus even when they support the struggles of the oppressed in the poor world it is with conditions and qualifications that are never applied to them when they face similar circumstances. It is this ingrained and unconscious superiority that made then overlook the humiliation of Saddam - checking his hair on camera for lice, something they would have baulked at if it had probably been done on the German Herman Goring - who was treated with great personal dignity - in full uniform and well groomed throughout the trial at Nuremberg as was Slobodan Milosevic another 'northern tyrant'. read in full... The Horny Rabbit: COINCIDENCES OR CHOREOGRAPHY? So ... ... the day after Bush has his war-thinking team down Crawford way ... ... and just a few days before W. tries to convince the nation that his plans for Iraq are enjoying a new beginning ... ... Saddam Hussein "coincidentally" reaches paradise on the end of a rope? This thing is more choreographed than Oklahoma. link Mirza Yawar Baig: THE BLACK BULL DIED TODAY They did it. They gave this Ummah a sacrifice on the day of Eid ul Adha. What an unforgettable Eid!! A human sacrifice. Not a sheep or goat. What a message!! Wow!! What a powerful message that I am sure has shaken all the thrones of the puppets who are watching the events. Poor puppets!! Saddam Hussain, they say, is dead. The news reporting is one good example of the pimp press in full swing. If anyone who is not suffering from amnesia can recall, 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' was a phrase coined by American foreign policy experts to lie to their own nation and the world and justify their invasion of Iraq. Then their lie was exposed but by then their objective of looting Iraq's oil had also been accomplished. They had control of the oil fields. And in the process a few hundred thousand Iraqis died at the hands of Americans; well that is inevitable - collateral damage. As they say Weapons of Mass Deception - which of course the pimp press is responsible for and continues to perpetrate on the world. Death is not the "item" in the news. It is the death of the myth of American justice and freedom. So now we can all breathe freely as we see the true nature of the animal before us. Even those who continued to insist on living in doubt can deny it no longer. But watch out!! This news item and a million like it, floating on the net or shouting themselves hoarse on the TV are all focused on trying to make you and me distracted from the reality of what we are seeing here. So they talk about how brutal Saddam was and how many people he killed and how he 'started' the Iraq-Iran war. The issue of course is none of those things. If these were in fact issues, then we would see Bush and all his cronies and most of their puppets sitting on thrones in their gilded prisons, swinging from the gallows long before Saddam came anywhere near them. The issue is America's right to invade a sovereign nation. Any country's right to invade and occupy another sovereign nation and loot its wealth. That is the issue. Are we, the people of the world saying that it is the right of America or anyone with the power to do so, to take by force what they want from whoever they want? Are we, the people of the world, saying that it is the right of the rapist to rape? Are we, the people of the world, saying that it is the right of the bandit or the highway robber to hold you up and take from you what he wishes by force? Because in my opinion, by remaining silent, that is exactly what we will be saying. You decide what you want to do. I have already made my decision as you can see. read in full... Left I on the News: ALL SADDAM'S FAULT Headline:
Saddam's reign leaves destruction behind
The article is exemplified by its final paragraphs:
Wahid Abdel Meguid, deputy director of Cairo's Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said Iraq will need decades to recover from Saddam. "Saddam leaves behind misery and destruction everywhere," he said. "It is a society imbued with fear."
Yeah, that was Saddam's fault. George Bush and U.S. imperialism had nothing to do with it. Remarkable how powerful Saddam has been in the last few years from the inside of a jail cell, isn't it? Re-read Hannah Allam's article about how much fear has increased just in the last year and tell me about how it was all Saddam's fault. Saddam was no saint. But the blame for the destruction and fear reigning in Iraq (not to mention the million and a half Iraqis killed by the sanctions and the U.S. invasion and occupation) lies squarely in Washington, D.C. link Abu Aardvark: SADDAM'S EXECUTION COMES AT THE HANDS OF THE SAME FORCES WHICH HAVE TURNED IRAQ INTO A BLOODY MASS GRAVE Ghassan Cherbel summed up a common view in his al-Hayat column yesterday which argued that "the fate of Saddam Hussein the person is not important." It is absurd to defend Saddam, he writes, given his well-known crimes, even if - echoing a very common theme in the Arab debates - Iraq's condition today is worse than under Saddam. But executing Saddam today amounts to a death sentence against Iraq itself. Saddam was a horrible dictator, but at least during his rule Iraq existed - and from Cherbel's Arab nationalist perspective, the destruction of Iraq is the worst of all. Al-Quds al-Arabi focuses on the ways in which Saddam's execution will inflame the Iraqi internal situation. It describes the decision by the Americans to execute Saddam at this time as yet another strategic error in a long line of American strategic errors. It argues that the execution will put an end to any hope of political dialogue with the Sunni community, and will have a very negative impact on American - (Sunni) Arab relations far beyond Iraq. It predicts a dramatic escalation in the size and destructiveness of attacks on American targets, as the Baathist insurgency seeks revenge and abandons any faith in the political process (which it has in fact threatened, in a statement reported in al-Quds al-Arabi yesterday). The transfer of Saddam from American to Iraqi authority is fooling nobody at all. Tahir al-Udwan, a prominent Jordanian journalist, writes that Saddam's execution will be and should be judged as an American act, regardless of who actually executes him. The trial lacks all legal legitimacy, he writes, and can not be taken seriously as a legal exercise (relatedly, I saw Tareq Aziz's lawyer on al-Arabiya arguing that the execution is actually illegal under Iraqi law - which requires 30 days in between sentencing and the execution). Echoing Cherbel's formulation above (and many other Arab commentators) Udwan writes that Iraq itself is being snuffed out by the same forces which will hang Saddam. Al-Quds al-Arabi editor Abd al-Bari Atwan (in the course of a depressing essay which claims that Saddam will go to his death with head held high) similarly argues that Saddam's execution comes at the hands of the same forces which have turned Iraq into a bloody mass grave. read in full... Angry Arab: DON'T CRY FOR ME MESOPOTAMIA Yet again, the Bush administration looks stupid exactly when it thinks it is being smart, or when it thinks it is being strategic in its actions. (...) The Iraqi people of course has the right if they wish to exact a punishment on Saddam for his crimes against Iraqis (and against others). But the execution has been marred by a number of issues that will later serve to backfire against the ruling puppet government of Iraq, and its backers in the US. 1) The entire course of legal and political processes in Iraq, including the weekly or monthly elections, are not legitimate in the presence of the American occupiers. All day long, administration propagandists kept stressing that this was an Iraqi decision. Yeah. Sure. This year, Iraqi puppet officials, including the former puppet prime minister, admitted that in fact the ruling prime minister of Iraq can't order a police officer on a mission without the authorization of US occupiers. And they now want us to believe that the Iraqis acted entirely on their own, as if they can. And the timing itself: it was not dictated by US calculations? And Iraq is not supposed to be sovereign and independent? And the 140,000 US troops are merely there for purposes of traffic control around the country? Whether they are elections or trials, the processes under foreign occupation are not legitimate or valid, certainly not in the eyes of Arab public opinion. 2) The trial itself, like everything that the US managed in Iraq, were bungled. If the US occupiers wanted to show Arabs a legal system or a court proceeding unlike what they have in their own countries, the US failed miserably, just as it failed miserably in translating any of its empty rhetorical promises. The trial was in fact as cartoonish and as politically managed as trials in neighboring Arab countries. From the changes of the judge (and whatever happened to that judge who went missing as soon as he said in "court" that he does not consider Saddam to be a tyrant?), to the selection of the crimes--clearly intending to spare Gulf countries, Europe, and US embarrassment from their association with the crimes of Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war years. That was why Dujayl--of all his crimes--was chosen. And notice that the Anfal trial was rushed in order to not link it to his other crimes during the time. 3) The decision to execute Saddam will further aggravate sectarian tensions in the region. Sistani had to even change the day of `Id Al-Adha. Even the `iD can be changed by that most cowardly of clerics--who was cowardly under Saddam and is cowardly under US occupation. Of course, this could not have been inevitable. In other words, had the puppet governments of Iraq not act in blatantly sectarian ways and forms--and the US occupation was clear from the beginning on utilizing--typically unsuccessfully--and exploiting sectarian differences in Iraq, the people of Iraq could have come together to condemn the crimes of Saddam and to accept a fair and legitimate trial. But the successive Shi`ite sectarian governments of US-occupied Iraq, and their sectarian Shi`ite militias, brought many of the Sunnis of Iraq closer with Saddam. And the support that the puppet government of Iraq receives from Iran and from Hizbullah--openly or not so openly, it does not matter--only serves to reinforce the sectarian cast of the ruling puppet government. This execution will go down as a sectarian decision and not as a political or legal decision, as it should be, because the ruling government a) relies on a foreign army of occupation; and b) because the ruling government employs sectarian death squads that have been killing Sunni Iraqis and Palestinians; c) because the ruling death squads are inspired by a Grand (not at all) Ayatollah who left his house only once in 6 years. AlArabiya (a virtual arm of the propaganda apparatus of the occupation) thought it was being smart when it asked a Shi`ite cleric to first appear and praise the execution. But that cleric is known to be an advocate for occupation. 4) This will not represent the end of the Ba`th Party. In fact, the Iraq Ba`th Party got rid of its worse baggage. Now the Ba`th can unfortunately rally and re-emerge without having to answer or account for the crimes of Saddam. Now they can claim that they did not know, and did not authorize--that it was all Saddam and his two sons who are all dead. The Ba`th Party will come back, just as the Taliban seem to be returning--yet another sign of the failures of the Bush Doctrine. Not a single element of that doctrine was fulfilled, or will be fulfilled. And the Ba`th party, I always argued, is as brutal in the underground as it is in government. 5) Arab regimes are more secure than ever--not from their people (who are either sleeping or outraged over Danish cartoons) but from the wrath of the US. All Arab regimes now know that the option of another US war against any other Arab regime is ruled out for a long time to come. That option was squashed by the stupidity of this administration, and the abysmal failures of the Bush doctrine. Arab regimes are now secure in the belief that the US will resort to threats but threats of a different kind. This explains the recent self-confident tone of the Iranian and Syrian regimes. 6) The quality of the US puppets in Baghdad have in a weird (and unfortunate way) increased the credibility of Saddam in the eyes of some Iraqis and more non-Iraqi Arabs. 7) Revenge attacks will be planned and executed, in Iraq and beyond. The execution of Saddam will be seen by Ba`thists and non-Ba`thists alike as killing of a "leader" and will be used to justify the assassination of Middle East leaders, especially those who are close to the US. 8) People in the region will look back at Saddam with some nostalgia because Arab leaders are now more submissive and subservient than ever to US/Israel, and Saddam's bombast and bluster in his last years will be remembered. 9) It is a sign that the Bush administration has nothing to offer but same of the same. Some brilliant mind in the White House I suspect came up with this idea of the execution hoping that it will galvanize American public opinion--they don't think beyond that. 10) It may be a sign that the US is ready to leave Iraq. It may be part of tying the knots before leaving; they are trying to make sure that Saddam will not be there after they leave. 11) It is because Saddam was such a brutal tyrant, he deserved to be tried in a legitimate and real court; where a non-sectarian government can make him account for his crimes. But that was not to be in the presence of a sectarian puppet government, backed by foreign occupiers. read in full... Born At The Crest Of The Empire: A FEW MORE STRAY THOUGHTS Why is it so important that America knows that Bush was asleep during the execution? (AP, NYTimes, AFP) Obviously, the White House wanted that out there. Second, I'm not going to put the "noose" picture up because it's on the front pages everywhere. For some reason I'm finding that pervasiveness very strange. Third, now that Saddam is dead, the secrets so successfully suppressed during the trial, are forever kept: The US's role in the Iran/Iraq war, the US and European supply of the precursors for Saddam's chemical weapons arsenal. (There's a reason the US wanted him tried and executed for Dujail before/instead of the Halabja gassing.) link Layla Anwar: TO SADDAM HUSSEIN I don't care what they say about You . The misuses and abuses of power, the Dujails, the Anfals and the rest of the well knitted pieces of grossly exaggerated melodramas. I know one Truth Sir,You stayed in Iraq and did not run away like the rest. You did not seek asylum in the USA , Egypt or Jordan like others. You did not pack your bags nor your millions. You stayed and that is what matters to me. (...) What pains me most is that they succeeded in massacring yet another TRUE IRAQI. A true Iraqi amongst many thousands. And this is what You are . Granted, you had your downsides , your shadow. But it pales in comparison to what the "Land of the Free " is doing to us. Your shadow is like a ray of sunlight, Sir. (...) They say you were authoritarian and totalitarian. Come and see them now. See their Fascism infesting the streets. See it in every neighborhood, see it in every corner . You said Women are the Pioneers of this Arab Ummah , come and look at us now. Rape has replaced sexual intercourse, censorship replaced education and forced domestication has replaced public life. You said Education is the sign of a Progressive Ummah. Our schools and universities are empty.And our Brains drained and killed. You said Health is Free for all. Our hospitals are dilapidated and our doctors in exode. You said Kurds are our brothers, they are now being trained as snipers by Israel. You said Christians and Muslims are part of this mosaic called Iraq. The Christians are fleeing by thousands and the churches are deserted. read in full... >> BEYOND IRAQ A Tiny Revolution: MORE FROM THE GOEBBELS ARCHIVE Wow, people can really deceive themselves:
...National Socialist Germany feels itself the leader of the entire civilized world. It would cease to exist were we to give up before the enemy's assault. We are God's instrument today, fulfilling a great historical mission. It cannot be postponed. We must do it, or humanity will collapse. We all know this. This is a struggle between light and dark, between truth and falsehood, between true humanity and inhuman barbarism. Germany carries the banner. All the oppressed and tortured peoples look to us in hope, because they expect from us alone a new order and the salvation of the world. -Joseph Goebbels, January 2, 1944
Fortunately, of course, when OUR pundits say stuff like this it's really true! read in full... QUOTE OF THE DAY - 1: "First it was weapons of mass destruction. Then when there were none, it was that we had to find Saddam. We did that, but then it was that we had to put him on trial. So now, what will be the next story they tell us to keep us over here?" -- Spc. Thomas Sheck, 25, who is on his second tour in Iraq, as news of Saddam's execution appeared on television at the mess hall at Forward Operating Base Loyalty in eastern Baghdad QUOTE OF THE DAY - 2: "The fact that atrocities worse than those caused by [Saddam Hussein] are now going on during the occupation, should make the Bush administration feel ashamed that they have made Saddam's brutal dictatorship look like a walk in the park." -- from "Saddam's Execution" at Raed in the Middle


Friday, December 29, 2006


PHOTO: Residents hold banners condemning the killing of Saheb al-Amiri, a senior Sadrist official, during a demonstration in Kufa, about 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad December 29, 2006. Iraqi officials in the city of Najaf said on Thursday that a raid which killed a top aide of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr was a violation of the deal that transferred U.S. control of Najaf to the Iraqi army. The banner reads 'The people of Kufa condole the death of Saheb al-Amiri.' REUTERS/Ali Abu Shish (IRAQ) [Story about this man below. – dancewater]

Security Incidents for December 29, 2006

BASRA - A British patrol was hit by a blast south of Basra and one British soldier was slightly wounded, Captain Olly Pile said.

KHALIS - A suicide bomber killed 10 people and wounded 11 near a Shi'ite mosque in the town of Khalis, 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

RAMADI - The U.S. military said gunmen shot a policeman and a woman and wounded three others, including two children, when they attacked their home in Ramadi on Wednesday. A U.S. statement said Iraqi police later arrested 13 suspects.

BAGHDAD - U.S. forces killed two suspected insurgents and wounded two civilians in a raid on an al Qaeda target in Baghdad on Friday, the U.S. military said. A U.S. statement said its forces "regret the injuries the local nationals sustained".

JURF AL-SAKHAR - Gunmen attacked a police checkpoint in Jurf al-Sakhar, 85 km (53 miles) south of Baghdad, killing two and wounding seven, a police source said.

BASRA – A British soldier was killed when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb.

BAGHDADUS troops killed four people and destroyed explosives and two buildings in Thar Thar. Two more were killed and two captured and two wounded in a separate raid in Baghdad. A cache of AK-47s were seized in that raid.

Bring ‘em on: Seven US troops were killed on Christmas Day, six on the day after and nine on Wednesday. I really don’t know which ones were mentioned on this blog already, since it is nearly impossible to keep straight when the US Department of Defense waits days to announce they were dead – and some announcements in the press does not mention a name. There is one reported death yesterday of US troops and one report of a UK troops killed today. I have no doubt those numbers will go up. Please click the link to see the entire list of coalition deaths.

Security Incidents from earlier this week, translated from Iraqi Press:

BAGHDAD - The Iraqi Christian website Ankawa.com reports that "fundamentalist religious groups" kidnapped five civilians and killed three others who were selling Christmas trees and decorations in the districts of Karrada, Arasat and Ghadeer in Baghdad, Wednesday and Thursday.

BAGHDAD - The Ebaa Agency reports through eyewitness accounts that five civilians were wounded in clashes Wednesday between American troops and Mahdi Army militiamen in the Ubaidi district, northeast of Baghdad. American forces, supported by armored vehicles and helicopters, had cordoned the districts of Ubaidi, Kamaliya and Orfeli, east of Sadr City yesterday and were searching for weapons, according to locals. There were nighttime clashes until early Wednesday morning at the nearby Habibiya district.

BAGHDAD - Islam Memo adds that American troops detained nine gunmen in police uniforms who were manning a fake checkpoint near the Rashad police station in the Mashtal district, northeast of Baghdad.

BAGHDAD - The Shi'ite districts of Kadhimiya and Amil were bombed with mortars, according to the Buratha News Agency. The agency also reported violent nighttime clashes near the main street separating the mixed districts of Sahha, Abu Dshir and Mechanic in Dora, south of Baghdad, between whom it described as "popular committees" and "terrorists." The Islam Memo website, on the other hand, described the incident as an attempt by Mahdi Army militiamen to occupy the mosques of Ibrahim Al-Khaleel, Al-Radhwan and Al-Fanyan in Saidiya and Dora.

BAGHDAD - Haqq Agency reported that militants in the Sunni district of Adhamiya beheaded a man who was purportedly one of the perpetrators of the car bomb explosion in Adhamiya, near the Imam Abu Hanifa Mosque yesterday. The militants brought their victim to the main market square near the mosque and announced to people that he was responsible for the bombing and then proceeded to decapitate him in public. A statement on the Iraq News Network by the National Front for the Liberation of Iraq described the suspect as a citizen of Sadr City, named Abdul Amir Jassim Al-Sa'idi, who carried a SCIRI ID. The statement added that the suspect's wife, who was captured with him, was still being interrogated.

MUQDADIYA - Buratha News also posts eyewitness accounts [ of….] sectarian clashes have been taking place for the fifth day in a row [in areas around this town]. Sources say that armed groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda in Iraq have been waging war against the mixed village of Abu Saida with mortars, RPGs and machine guns to kick out the few remaining Shia families there. Residents said the police force and MNF have not interfered so far.

IN COUNTRY - Security incidents in Iraq, according to Interior and Defense Ministry sources: 1- 51 corpses with signs of torture and gun wounds were uncovered in different parts of Baghdad. 2- Five explosions in Baghdad killed 20 people and injured 67 others. 3- Gunmen attacked police positions in the mixed Saidiya district, with no news of casualties. 4- Four civilians were wounded from a roadside bomb explosion targeting a police patrol in Mosul, north of Iraq. 5- Three policemen and two civilians were wounded from a roadside bomb explosion at the Camp Sarah district, east of Baghdad. 6- Unknown gunmen attacked a bus carrying employees of the Ministry of Higher Education, wounding two people at Yarmouk, west of Baghdad. 7- Three Iraqi soldiers were wounded in a roadside bomb explosion at Suwaira, 40 km southeast of Baghdad. 8- Iraqi Army forces killed 33 militants and captured 39 others in different parts of the country. 9- Gunmen killed a policeman in Kut, southeast of Baghdad. 10- Three unidentified corpses with signs of torture and gun wounds were discovered in Basrah. 11- Three decapitated corpses were found near Muqdadiya, northeast of Baghdad.

Another one from Al Jazeera:

RAMADI - The US military said gunmen shot a policeman and a woman and wounded three others, including two children, when they attacked their home in Ramadi on Wednesday. A US statement said Iraqi police later arrested 13 suspects.


Review of the Year: Iraq Tears Itself Apart

In Samarra, nobody was killed by the explosion itself, though it wrecked the great golden dome of the shrine. But the attack led to a Shia onslaught on Sunni Arabs. Shia restraint, already close to breaking point, finally gave way after more than two years of bombs aimed at army and police recruits, who were mostly Shia, as well as at purely civilian targets. Within days, 1,300 people, mostly Sunni, were dead. People caught in the wrong areas at the wrong time were dragged from their cars and slaughtered. …. Iraq is disintegrating. In areas where there was a mixed population - above all in Baghdad itself - there have been mass killings. After the Samarra bomb, the capital began to divide up into hostile districts, each protected by its own militiamen. The militias themselves became stronger as everybody wanted armed men they could trust at the end of their street. Shia and Sunni families - whichever was in a minority - received letters, often enclosing bullets, telling them to move within 24 hours or be killed. Few dared to stay. By the end of the year, the UN High Commission for Refugees estimated that 1.6 million Iraqis had fled within the country and another 1.8 million had gone abroad, mostly to Jordan and Syria. At one point, an estimated 1,000 people a day were crossing the border into Jordan and a further 2,000 a day into Syria.

“Liberated” Fallujah

A U.S. base in the restive city of Falluja, 55 km west of the capital Baghdad, came under mortar attacks while explosive devices went off near two U.S. patrols in separate incidents in central Falluja, according to a security source on Friday."Six mortar shells were fired at the Falluja train station, used by the U.S. forces as a military base, at 10:00 p.m. on Thursday," the source told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). The station was taken by the U.S. troops as a base after the second Falluja battle in November 2004. The station has been rendered defunct ever since.

“Liberated” Kirkuk on Thursday

Iraqi police captured two suspects accused of robbing and kidnapping people on the highway between Kirkuk and Mosul and of stealing their cars. Both men were from the village of Karab Rut near al Hawija and were believed to have kidnapped many civilians and stolen at least nine cars. A roadside bomb exploded near a police patrol in the Ihtifalat district of Kirkuk. The bomb was remotely detonated but caused one reported injury among the police patrol from the Mikdad police station. Three Iraqi police were injured when a roadside bomb exploded near their convoy on the road between Kirkuk and Hawija. Their police car was destroyed and one of the officers was seriously injured.

VIDEO: Alive in Baghdad Christmas Special

Doctor Shortage

So, I'm finally settled down here in my parents' house, have been for almost a week now. Why did I suddenly leave Baghdad? It's actually because I'm expecting my second child in a couple more months, and I'm a bit too spoiled to deliver a child in Baghdad's hospital system. Here's just some info on what the health system is like there now:

When I went back to Baghdad in October, I looked up my old doctor to go see her. She had received a threat from some unknown groups, stopped practicing, and was looking to leave the country. I looked up a few other doctors I knew, and the same story was repeated each time, "Misafra"- 'she's travelling.' I knew of four different young women, all well into their pregnancies, who were receiving no prenatal care, because their doctors had stopped practicing or left the country. One of those women has since given birth to a healthy girl, the other one is expecting any day now. Again, all without any prenatal care. This seems to be the new trend in Baghdad. So many middle-class citizens are leaving the country because of the situation. And so many of these are doctors. Not only are they leaving because of the bombs and kidnappings around them, but because alot of these assassinations and kidnappings are targetting Iraq's educated men and women, especially doctors. It's a sad situation which is leaving people with few choices. Iraq's hospitals, which were in a sad position during the embargo years, seem to have slipped even further into third-world status, with few good doctors sticking around.

The Other Iraq Report

The new report, entitled "Iraq's Sectarian and Ethnic Violence and Evolving Insurgency: Developments through mid-December 2006" is by Anthony H. Cordesman, who holds the Arleigh A. Burke chair in strategy at the center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. The 92-page report was released to none of the media hoopla and obsession that greeted the Iraq Study Group report chaired by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former Democratic congressman Lee Hamilton. But it is even more frank and harsh in its assessments of the current chaos in Iraq than the ISG document. The CSIS report acknowledged what we predicted and then saw confirmed in the fall: that the ill-fated U.S.-led Operation Together Forward II in Baghdad had only made "slow progress in clearing the volatile neighborhoods, and the initiative lacked sufficient forces to maintain peace in cleared areas" "Baghdad was the center of the sectarian conflict, but violence spread to surrounding towns -- particularly Baquba, Balad, and Amara -- as the civil war threatened to engulf the entire country," the report said. Cordesman noted that the United Nations had concluded that by mid-December, sectarian violence was killing 120 Iraqis a day. Back in the spring, we warned that the escalating violence by that point was on schedule to kill more than 30,000 people a year in Iraq., even if things did not get any worse. Cordesman has now confirmed things have gotten worse than that. The U.N. figures he cites mean that even if the current levels of violence in Iraq do not deteriorate further (in fact they show every sign of doing so) 43,800 people will die next year there at the current rates of carnage.

Crisis In Housing Adds to Miseries of Iraq

Along with its many other desperate problems, Iraq is in the midst of a housing crisis that is worsening by the day. It began right after the toppling of Saddam Hussein, when many landlords took advantage of the removal of his economic controls and raised rents substantially, forcing out thousands of families who took shelter in abandoned government buildings and military bases. As the chaos in Iraq grew and the ranks of the jobless swelled, even more Iraqis migrated to squalid squatter encampments. Still others constructed crude shantytowns on empty plots where conditions were even worse. Now, after more than 10 months of brutal sectarian reprisals, many more Iraqis have fled their neighborhoods, only to wind up often in places that are just as wretched in other ways. While 1.8 million Iraqis are living outside the country, 1.6 million more have been displaced within Iraq since the war began. Since February, about 50,000 per month have moved within the country. Shelter is their most pressing need, aid organizations say. Some have been able to occupy homes left by members of the opposing sect or group; others have not been so fortunate. The longer the violence persists, the more Iraqis are running out of money and options.

Sahib al-Aamiri and The Shaheed Allah Foundation

Sahib al-Aamiri was a lawyer who was the the head of the Shaheed Allah [Martyr of God] foundation. He was deeply religious and deeply charitable. Like many who work with the poorest of the poor in Iraq he became a Sadrist and in his personal capacity was active in politics. The key word in the preceding sentence is “personal”. The Shaheed Allah founation is a charity for orphans and the poor it’s not part of the Mehdi Army it is renowned for the charity work it does - particularly for widows, orphans, and street children. So was its director. Moreover contrary to what you’ll read in the Western reports it was not a political organisation. There’s no doubt he was a Sadrist, there’s equally no doubt that a less likely candidate for leading a bomber cell could be found anywhere in Iraq. At 4AM this morning green zone government troops from a unit conspicuously loyal to SCIRI and led by American army of occupation troops burst violently into his home. However who it was who actually shot him dead in front of his wife and children was the American “advisor” in command of the raid. [This killing was reported on 12/27/06. This report came from Gorillas Guides new home on the web. – dancewater]

Killing of al Aamiri Leads to Further Postponement of Iraqi Parliament

The resumption of Iraq's parliament has been delayed by the killing of a senior aide to politically and militarily powerful Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Sahib al-Amiri was killed by a U.S. soldier during a joint raid with Iraqi forces in the southern holy city of Najaf, which infuriated Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Washington Post correspondent reported. ….. That dashed Maliki's hopes of getting the anti-U.S. Sadr to end a parliamentary boycott of his 30 parliamentarians and four Cabinet ministers. Sadr called the boycott last month over Maliki's meeting with U.S. President George Bush in Jordan. The shooting was also embarrassing for the U.S. military, which last month handed over security of Najaf to Iraqi forces in an elaborate ceremony, the Post said. [I rather doubt they were embarrassed and I rather doubt the US “advisor” knew who he was killing or why. – dancewater]

More Troops But Less Control

Under the increasing number of attacks and the escalating chaos, it has apparently become U.S. military policy to bulldoze or bomb houses whenever attacks are launched on their patrols. This is particularly the case in places like Fallujah, Samarra, Siniya, Ramadi and other Sunni dominated areas. Sectarian conflict has roared between Shias and Sunnis, who follow different beliefs within Islam. This year has shown how the U.S. military is dealing with sectarian violence. While it carried out collective punishment in cities like Fallujah and Ramadi, it has ignored Shia death squads. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki leads a Shia-dominated government. Many Sunnis believe the U.S. military has long been favouring Shia politicians and their militias. "They are just pretending they are concerned about sectarian war, and they are trying to convince the world that they are dealing with it seriously," Yassir Mahmood of the Beji city council told IPS. Beji is located 200 km north of Baghdad in an oil-rich area where attacks on U.S. troops are commonplace. Sunnis are concerned how far U.S. forces will take that tilt next year. "They (the U.S. military) lifted their checkpoints around Sadr City in Baghdad saying it was ordered by Maliki," Mahmood said. "Yet, when it comes to our Sunni areas they increased killing of innocent civilians." Most of the victims of death squads are Sunnis, whose bodies are found on the streets of Baghdad every day. Many bodies show signs of torture, particularly holes drilled into them, and wounds and deformation caused by acid.

Snipers Stalk Marine Supply Route in Western Iraq

The mission on the road linking Fallouja to Baghdad could be seen as a microcosm of the Marine mission in Al Anbar: nothing likely to be made into a Hollywood war movie, just a "persistent presence" to wear down the insurgency. But there are moments of adrenalin-pumping drama. On this day, the Marines shot an Iraqi spotted planting a roadside bomb. When Lance Cpl. William Shaw was lifting the wounded Iraqi into a vehicle to be taken to a field hospital, the Marine was shot in the back by a sniper. The round struck the back plate in the flak vest worn by the 22-year-old from Fort Bend, Texas. A few inches lower, and Shaw might have been killed or his spine severed. The explosive ordnance detail was called to examine the bomb. It was fake. Fake bombs are a recent wrinkle in the insurgents' game plan. The strategy, apparently, is to fire at Marines who arrive to neutralize the devices.


Sunni Tribe Warns: Don’t Execute Saddam

The Basrah Network posts a statement by the Al-Bu Farraj tribe in the Anbar governorate, west of Iraq, warning the government from carrying out the death sentence against Saddam Hussein. "If the traitorous government touches one hair of our beloved leader, then they will dream of ever living or moving around Baghdad or passing the highway between Baghdad and Syria and Jordan," said the statement.

Iraq Denies Has Taken Custody of Saddam

Iraq's Justice Ministry denied on Friday that it had taken custody of Saddam Hussein from the U.S. military and said the former president would not be executed for at least a month. Asked about a comment from a defence lawyer that Saddam had been handed over to Iraqi authorities, a senior Justice Ministry official told Reuters: "This is not true. He is still with the Americans." He added that the ministry, which is in charge of punishments, would not execute Saddam before Jan. 26.

Saddam Execution Set to Destabilise Iraq Further

Saddam was convicted last month for ordering the killing of 148 Shias in Dujail town in 1982 in revenge for an assassination attempt against him. He was sentenced to death by hanging. The completion of the nine-month trial that saw 39 court sessions, through which three defence lawyers and a witness were murdered, will most likely inflame Iraq's political divide further. Hashim al-Ubaydi's son was sentenced to death by a 'revolution court' of the Saddam regime. But he is not pleased to see that Saddam Hussein will be executed in the present circumstances. "I was an opponent of Saddam and his policies, but I support putting him through a real national court away from occupation influence. I cannot forgive or forget that my son was executed, but as an Iraqi nationalist I cannot accept to see the president of my country put to trial in such a ridiculous way by invaders and their tails." Many Iraqi leaders say the timing of the trial and execution will enlarge the cracks between already divided Iraqis.

US Transfers Saddam to Iraqi Authorities

Lawyers representing Saddam Hussein reported Friday that the condemned former leader was no longer in U.S. custody and issued an appeal to stop his execution. The physical hand-over of Saddam to Iraqi authorities was believed to be one of the last steps before he was to be hanged, although the lawyers' statement did not specifically say Saddam was in Iraqi hands. "A few minutes ago we received correspondence from the Americans saying that President Saddam Hussein is no longer under the control of U.S. forces," according to the statement faxed to The Associated Press. n Baghdad, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has signed the death sentence against Saddam, a government official said. ...."Our respect for human rights requires us to execute him, and there will be no review or delay in carrying out the sentence," Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said in comments released by his office Friday. Al-Maliki said those who oppose the execution of Saddam were insulting the honor of his victims. His office said he made the remarks in a meeting with families of people who died during Saddam's rule.


“I believe everyone, to some extent, is influenced by the militias,” Colonel Miska said. “While some Iraqi security forces may be complicit with the militias, others fear for their families when confronting the militia, and that is the more pervasive threat.” Looking at a map he had his intelligence officers create, which highlights current battle zones and details the changing religious makeup of neighborhoods, Colonel Miska noted just how many different forces, each answering to different bosses, currently occupied the battlefield. “Who would design this mess?” he said. “It is like an orchestra where everyone is playing a different song.” His main focus, he said, is trying to establish some kind of unity of command. As it stands, the police and military answer to different ministries, and within the police force the bureaucracy is divided even further between the regular police and the national police. On top of that are about 145,000 armed men who work as protection detail for the Facilities Protection Services, with minimal oversight, according to United States military officials. There are also thousands of Shiite militia members and Sunni insurgents posing as security forces. Colonel Miska tried to define where American forces fit in the tangle of competing interests, which is only further complicated by the complicity and direct participation of top government officials.

Kurds Crack Down On ‘Islamists’

Kurdish authorities have arrested 30 suspected members of Islamist groups active in the semi-independent Kurdish region in northern Iraq. Many of the suspects were said to be members of Ansar al-Islam, a group whose members are sworn enemies of the Kurdish regional governments in the area. Ansar had their bases in the Province of Sulaimaniya and for long were the Kurds biggest headache. Kurdish leaders had even sought help from former President Saddam Hussein to check their advance on the city. The U.S. bombed their bases during the 2003 war that toppled Saddam Hussein. But Ansar are reported to have remobilized and are said to be now a force to reckon with not only in the north but also in central Iraq.

PM Postpones Government Reshuffle

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has not been able to muster enough support to introduce new changes in his government. Parliamentary blocs have been adamant in their attitude not to give any concession that would have seen a reformed government brought to light this year. Maliki had promised President George Bush during a meeting held in Amman recently that he would form a national unity government as part of efforts to contain terror and violence. The Prime Minister had hoped to have the unity government in place before Bush’s much-awaited for announcement of his new Iraq strategy.

2007 Budget Estimated A $41 Billion

The government has approved the budget for 2007 estimated at $41 billion. The budget is the biggest in the years since the 2003 U.S. invasion due to skyrocketing oil prices. Saffa al-Safi, state minister for parliamentary affairs, said the figures for the 2007 budget “are encouraging in comparison with previous budgets.” One fourth ($10 billion) of the money available for 2007 has been earmarked for development and reconstruction. Allocations for security are the second largest, totaling $7.5 billion. Allocations for education have been doubled to $2.6 billion and there will be a 7% increase for the health sector for which $1.8 billion has been earmarked.

Iraq Expands Diplomatic Ties With World Countries

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs plans to set up 15 new diplomatic missions in 2007. Foreign Minster Hoshyar Zebari said by the end of 2007 Iraq should have nearly 80 embassies across the world. Zebari made the remarks during a meeting with local media representatives in which he also talked about relations with neighboring countries as well as the security situation. He said the government was determined to take up “effective measures” to reinstate security and improve public services.


US Frees Iranians Held In Iraq

“Two of the Iranian diplomats who were detained by the American forces were released this morning in the presence of the Iraqi National Security Advisor Mowaffak al-Rubai and the Iranian ambassador to Iraq,” Hasan Kazemi Qomi, the report said. It gave no further details. Mr Rubai refused to confirm the releases, saying: “I do not wish to comment on this.” The US military press office in Baghdad referred questions about the Iranians to the office of the secretary of defence in Washington, which did not immediately respond to an inquiry. On Wednesday, military spokesman General William Caldwell said US forces were holding two Iranian nationals detained last week in the Iraqi capital on suspicion of weapons smuggling. “There was an operation on the morning of December 21 based on intelligence. We conducted a raid on a site in Baghdad,” Gen Caldwell said. Ten people were arrested in the raid and “documents, maps, photographs and videos” were seized which, he said, linked them to “illegal activities”. After interrogation it was discovered that two of the 10 were Iranians.

Kidnapping Suspect Seized In Iraq

The US military says Iraqi special forces backed by American advisers have captured an Al Qaeda cell leader believed to be behind the June kidnapping of two US soldiers who were found tortured and dead. A US statement says the man was captured in a raid on Tuesday in Yusifiya, just south of Baghdad. It says he was seen commenting on a video CD, which was played at a mosque, showing the kidnapping of the soldiers.

Reporter Returns to Baghdad

When I was last here in 2005, it took guts and guards, but you could still travel to most anywhere in the capital. Now, there are few true neighborhoods left. They're mostly just cordoned-off enclaves in various stages of deadly sectarian cleansing. Moving trucks piled high with furniture weave through traffic, evidence of an unfolding humanitarian crisis involving hundreds of thousands of forcibly displaced Iraqis. The Sunni-Shiite segregation is the starkest change of all, but nowadays it seems like everything in Baghdad hinges on separation. There's the Green Zone to guard the unpopular government from its suffering people, U.S. military bases where Iraqis aren't allowed to work, armored sedans to shield VIPs from the explosions that kill workaday civilians, different TV channels and newspapers for each political party, an unwritten citywide dress code to keep women from the eyes of men. Attempts to bring people together have failed miserably. I attended a symposium called "How to Solve Iraq's Militia Problem," but the main militia representatives never showed up and those of us who did were stuck inside for hours while a robot disabled a car bomb in the parking lot. Then there was the Iraqi government's two-day national reconciliation conference, which offered little more than the grandstanding of politicians whose interests are best served by the fragmenting of their country. The message was: The south is for the Shiites, the north is for the Kurds, the west is for the Sunnis, and the east is open for Iran. Baghdad, the besieged anchor in the center, is a free-for-all.

Abducted Security Contractors Appear in Videotape

Four American security contractors and an Austrian co-worker who were kidnapped in southern Iraq six weeks ago appear to be in good physical condition in a videotape that was shot two weeks after they were taken captive. The footage, which hasn't been made public, is the first proof that all five men survived their abduction Nov. 16 in an ambush in the town of Safwan. The clip was shown to McClatchy Newspapers in Baghdad on Tuesday night on condition that the provider's name and other identifying details be withheld for security reasons. The provider said the video was shot in response to a demand for proof that the men were alive before negotiations for their release could begin. The provider was confident that the men are still living and remain in the hands of a little-known Shiite Muslim militant group that calls itself the "Mujahedeen of Jerusalem Company."

Bush Iraq Policy Murky On The Real Enemy

This year saw the emergence of a sectarian civil war in Iraq and much more open Sunni-Shiite conflict in the Middle East. Sunni regimes in the region expressed acute anxiety both about the possibility of the Sunni-Shiite civil war in Iraq spreading to their own countries and about the growth of Iranian influence. In that setting, the most striking thing about the George W. Bush administration's policy in 2006 has been its inability to identify the primary enemy in Iraq. Is it al Qaeda in Iraq? Bush often implies that they are the real enemy, suggesting that the U.S. must fight the enemy in Iraq so it doesn't have to fight them at home. Is it the armed Sunni resistance groups, who were the original target of a U.S. counterinsurgency war that is now an all but officially admitted failure? Or is it the Mahdi army of Moqtada al Sadr, which has been implicated in large-scale killings of Sunnis in the Baghdad area and which is aligned with Iran in the conflict between Washington and Tehran? And what about the Badr organisation, which is known to be responsible for mass kidnapping, torture and what many now call ethnic cleansing of Sunnis from predominantly Shiite neighbourhoods in Baghdad? Is Iraq really about the global war on terror, the alleged threat from Iran, the danger emanating from sectarian war, or simply the administration's desire to claim success against the resistance to the occupation itself? The Bush administration has not been able to issue a clear policy statement on that question. The original source of the administration's confusion over its primary enemy in Iraq was the decision to sell the counterinsurgency war in Iraq to the U.S. public in 2004-2005 as a struggle between a nascent democratic state and anti-democratic forces in the country.

…..Since Bush has touted the occupation of Iraq as the frontline in the war on terror, he might be expected to focus like a laser on al Qaeda as the primary enemy. After all, he routinely cited the threat of creating a "terrorist haven" in Iraq if the United States were to withdraw without "victory". But by continuing a war against the Sunni resistance forces and providing unconditional support for largely Shiite military and police forces, the administration has effectively taken the pressure off al Qaeda in Iraq. The major Sunni resistance organisations, which have already been in an undeclared war with al Qaeda since before the 2005 constitutional referendum, would appear to be in the best position to defeat the al Qaeda networks in Iraq if they could focus their efforts on that foe. But their main concern remains the war being waged by the U.S., Shiite and Kurdish forces against them. Bush's de facto support for militant Iraqi Shiites against the anti-jihadist Sunni resistance has been a losing proposition from every perspective. It has increased regional tensions by appearing to strengthen Iraqi forces aligned with Iran, fueled sectarian war and eased the pressure on the one enemy on which most U.S. citizens might agree should be targeted -- al Qaeda in Iraq. Clarifying the murky logic driving that policy and its consequences may be a major preoccupation of U.S. Senate committees in 2007. [They haven’t a clue. – dancewater]

ARTICLE: A More Balanced View Of What US Troops Think About Escalation

[I guess Sec. Gates didn’t find these guys when he was in Iraq. There has to be one in every crowd though – one fool had this to say: We just provide a stabilizing effect." – dancewater]


End Of Another Year

A day in the life of the average Iraqi has been reduced to identifying corpses, avoiding car bombs and attempting to keep track of which family members have been detained, which ones have been exiled and which ones have been abducted. 2006 has been, decidedly, the worst year yet. No- really. The magnitude of this war and occupation is only now hitting the country full force. It's like having a big piece of hard, dry earth you are determined to break apart. You drive in the first stake in the form of an infrastructure damaged with missiles and the newest in arms technology, the first cracks begin to form. Several smaller stakes come in the form of politicians like Chalabi, Al Hakim, Talbani, Pachachi, Allawi and Maliki. The cracks slowly begin to multiply and stretch across the once solid piece of earth, reaching out towards its edges like so many skeletal hands. And you apply pressure. You surround it from all sides and push and pull. Slowly, but surely, it begins coming apart- a chip here, a chunk there. That is Iraq right now. The Americans have done a fine job of working to break it apart. This last year has nearly everyone convinced that that was the plan right from the start. There were too many blunders for them to actually have been, simply, blunders. The 'mistakes' were too catastrophic. The people the Bush administration chose to support and promote were openly and publicly terrible- from the conman and embezzler Chalabi, to the terrorist Jaffari, to the militia man Maliki. The decisions, like disbanding the Iraqi army, abolishing the original constitution, and allowing militias to take over Iraqi security were too damaging to be anything but intentional.

OPINION: Iraq Deadly For Journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists recently released its 2006 report on threats to journalists. Iraq is by far the deadliest place for the fourth year in a row, with 32 journalists killed this year. Sadly, the violence follows a trend that started with the U.S. invasion. When you step off the elevator at the Reuters news offices in Washington, D.C., you see a large book sitting on a wooden stand. Each entry describes a Reuters journalist killed in the line of duty. Like Taras Protsyuk. The veteran Ukrainian cameraman was killed on April 8, 2003, the day before the U.S. seized Baghdad. Protsyuk was on the balcony of the Palestine Hotel when a U.S. tank positioned itself on the al-Jumhuriyah bridge and, as people watched in horror, unleashed a round into the side of the building. The hotel was known for housing hundreds of unembedded reporters. Protsyuk was killed instantly. Jose Couso, a cameraman for the Spanish network Telecinco, was filming from the balcony below. He was also killed. The difference between the responses by the mainstream press in the United States versus Europe was stunning. While in this country there was hardly a peep of protest, Spanish journalists engaged in a one-day strike. From the elite journalists down to the technicians, they laid down their cables, cameras and pens. They refused to record the words of then-Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, who joined British Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush in supporting the war.

OPINION: Why Cousin Marriage Matters In Iraq

One central element of the Iraqi social fabric that most Americans know little about is its astonishing rate of cousin marriage. Indeed, half of all marriages in Iraq are between first or second cousins. Among countries with recorded figures, only Pakistan and Nigeria rate as high. For an eye-opening perspective about rates of consanguinity (roughly equivalent to cousin marriage) around the world, click on the "Global Prevalence" map at www.consang.net. [The data they base these facts on are from the 1980’s, so I don’t know if this is still true in Iraq. – dancewater] But who cares who marries whom in a country we invade? Why talk to anthropologists who study that arcane subject? Only those who live in modern, individualistic societies could be so oblivious. Cousin marriage, especially the unique form practiced in the Middle East, creates clans of fierce internal cohesiveness and loyalty. So in addition to sectarian violence in Iraq, the US may also be facing a greater intensity of inter-clan violence than it saw in Vietnam or the ferocious Lebanese civil war. The US can't deal with a problem it doesn't recognize, let alone understand. Anthropologist Stanley Kurtz has described Middle East clans as "governments in miniature" that provide the services and social aid that Americans routinely receive from their national, state, and local governments. No one in a region without stable, fair government can survive outside a strong, unified, respected clan. But still, what does this have to do with marrying cousins? Cousin marriage occurs because a woman who marries into another clan potentially threatens its unity. If a husband's bond to his wife trumped his solidarity with his brothers, the couple might take their property and leave the larger group, weakening the clan. This potential threat is avoided by cousin marriage: instead of marrying a woman from another lineage, a man marries the daughter of his father's brother - his cousin. In this scenario, his wife is not an alien, but a trusted member of his own kin group.

No More Victims Group Continues to Aid Iraqi Children

Alaa' left Florida a little over a year ago. I had full intentions of keeping a journal during her stay; however, when I found time to write, I would draw a blank. It wasn't due to writer's block, lack of time, or even apathy. It was because I had a mixture of emotions. It was too hard to define, too hard to narrow down, too hard to describe. I'm a mother. I'm a wife. I'm a daughter. I'm a law student. I'm a Muslim. I'm an American. I could label myself all day. But, at the end of the day, I'm a human being. So was Alaa'. So were the many people who died. And, a year later, I feel that I have a responsibility to share with others what I gained from Alaa's visit. When I first met her, she had just gotten off the plane. The media surrounded us. It was the chance for that perfect shot, that memorable moment. But, I didn't reach out to hug Alaa' that night. Instead, I muttered, "Mashallah." It was one of the few Arabic phrases I knew. It was appropriate. While the phrase means Praise God, it is typically used to verbalize a cause for happiness. Likewise, it can be used to describe a beautiful child. Alaa' was beautiful. …..Alaa' underwent several surgeries during her trip to Florida. Dr. Saad Shaikh dedicated himself to helping her see again. He and his wife, Naazli, also a retinal surgeon, worked tirelessly and without pay. At the end, they thanked me for the opportunity. It reminded me that there are good people out there. ….I have a four-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son. My daughter, Layla, met Alaa'. Children are so beautiful, so innocent. Until corrupted by adults, children don't judge others. Even though neither spoke each other's language and Alaa' was blind, they held hands and danced. Layla brought Alaa' toys that she had hand-selected. When local Fox News interviewed Layla, she told them, "I got her some toys to make her feel better. The monster gave her a boo-boo in her eye." At first, I was nervous that viewers would interpret her statement as political banter coming from a toddler. The truth was, I had never explained the concept of war to my daughter. It's an adult issue. But, there was something so wise in her response.

The mission of No More Victims, a non-profit, non-sectarian, humanitarian organization, is to restore health and well-being to victims of war and to advocate and educate for peace. No More Victims believes one of the most effective means of combating militarism is to focus on direct relief to its victims. For more information, visit www.nomorevictims.org.


PEACE ACTION: Progressive Democrats of America has been working and organizing support for HR 4232 since Rep. McGovern introduced this important bill in November of 2005. Rep. McGovern spoke at the PDA "Get out of Iraq" Town Hall meeting the day after he introduced HR 4232. We continue to work for its passage as a top legislative priority. We urge you to continue organizing support for HR 4232 and to ask your Congressional member to co-sponsor the bill. PDA is committed to cutting off all funding for deployment of US troops in Iraq and for the removal of all funding for the occupation of Iraq. Please sign the online petition at www.pdamerica.org and send it to your friends.


I pray to God that the next year would be better than the one that has ended. I pray to God that the next year would be a year of peace, calm, and settlement for the Iraqi people, and for every other people like them, suffering the calamities of a stupid war ignited by fools, which left the sane people at a loss how to extinguish it…. Many happy returns… And may peace be upon you… Faiza Al-Arji


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