War In Iraq Updates
Saddam Hussein addresses the nation, via letter :
"On the occasion of Ramadan, when our people live in the most difficult circumstances because of the occupation, killing, and destruction, they are holding to their faith and courage.
"They are rejecting humiliation and aggression from their near neighbor and the ones faraway.
"Some of them came as invaders from across the Atlantic, encouraged by cowardly Zionism and its illegal interests and heinous aggression. Some of them came from the east of Iraq.
"You know, brothers, that I am free in ideology and doctrine but, because I am detained by the invading forces, my opportunities to express myself are limited."
"It was only a few times that I managed to address you through the farcical, so-called trial, when the microphones were not switched off.
"Fighting the invaders, is a right and a duty ... I call upon you my brothers and comrades in the courageous resistance, no matter whoever you are and no matter wherever you live, to embrace righteousness and justice in your jihad (holy war).
"I urge you to be tolerant with the ones who lost the right way ... The door for forgiveness must be open to everyone until the hour of liberation, which is now at hand, God willing.
"But remember that your near-term goal is confined to freeing your country from the forces of occupation and their followers and not to be preoccupied in settling scores.
"We remember it is the great unified Iraq, which is not split by any color, segment or allegation, that makes us proud.
"When you achieve victory, remember you are God's soldiers and, therefore, you must show genuine forgiveness and put aside revenge over the spilled blood of your sons and brothers, including the sons of Saddam Hussein.
"You must remember what the prophets taught us, including the two honorable ones, Muhammad and Jesus, the son of Mary. Both forgave and turned to God, beseeching him to forgive those whom they had forgiven, including those who had hurt them.
"And you know very well that Saddam Hussein never surrendered to any threat ... and Saddam Hussein will remain as you knew him."
Saddam Hussein al-Majid, President and commander-in-chief of the holy warrior armed forces.
From the Washington Post :
Saddam's chief defense lawyer, Khalil al-Dulaimi, said the former president dictated the letter during a four-hour meeting in a Baghdad detention center on Saturday. Al-Dulaimi typed the letter on Sunday.
Al-Dulaimi said that during the meeting, they discussed Saddam's two current trials. In the one, he is charged with killing of 148 Shiites from the town of Dujail in the 1980s, and in the other he is charged with genocide against the Kurds during a military offensive in 1987-88, codenamed Operation Anfal.
He urges Sunnis to forgive their Iraqi opponents, including those who helped the U.S. forces track down his two sons _ Odai and Qussai _ who were killed in a battle with American soldiers in the nothern city of Mosul in 2003.
The verdict and possible sentences against Saddam and seven co-defendants in the Dujail case will be handed down on Nov. 5, the chief investigating judge Raid Juhi said Monday.
Saddam's genocide trial against the Kurds began on Aug. 21. The trial, of which 15 sessions have been held so far, is due to resume on Tuesday.
100 DEAD IN 48 HOURS OF ATTACKS
From the Washington Post :
Militias allied with Iraq's Shiite-led government roamed roads north of Baghdad, seeking out and attacking Sunni Arab targets Sunday, police and hospital officials said. The violence raised to at least 80 the number of people killed in retaliatory strikes between a Shiite city and a Sunni town separated only by the Tigris River.
The wave of killings around the Shiite city of Balad was the bloodiest in a surge of violence that has claimed at least 110 lives in Iraq since Saturday. The victims included 12 people who were killed in coordinated suicide bombings in the strategic northern oil city of Kirkuk.
"This has pushed us to the point that we must stop this sectarian government," Ali Hussein al-Jubouri, a Sunni farmer in Duluiyah, said as he searched for the body of a nephew reportedly killed in the violence around Balad.
The slaughter came as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Sunday renewed pledges by the Iraqi government to break up the militias, and as al-Qaeda in Iraq and other Sunni Arab insurgent groups declared a new Islamic republic in the western and central parts of the country.
OUST THE PM, GOV, SAYS SUNNIS - BRING BACK STRONGMEN TO REIGN
From the Australian :
Iraq's fragile democracy, weakened by mounting chaos and a rapidly rising death toll, is being challenged by calls for the formation of a hardline "government of national salvation".
The proposal, which is being widely discussed in political and intelligence circles in Baghdad, is to replace the Shia-led Government of Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister, with a regime that is capable of imposing order and confronting the sectarian militias leading the country to the brink of civil war.
Saleh al-Mutlak, a prominent Sunni politician, travelled to Arab capitals last week seeking support for the replacement of the present Government with a group of five strongmen who would impose martial law and either dissolve parliament or halt its participation in day-to-day government.
Other Iraqis dismissed the idea that a unilateral change in the leadership would be desirable or even possible.
"The only person who can undertake a coup in Iraq now is General George Casey (the US commander) and I don't think the Americans are inclined to go in that direction," said Ahmed Chalabi, the head of a rival political party.
A suspension of the democratic process would be regarded as a severe blow to US and British policy. The establishment of democracy has been the allied coalition's cornerstone and successful elections last December had been hailed as a cause for optimism.
But Anthony Cordesman, an influential expert on Iraq at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said there was a "very real possibility" that Mr Maliki could be toppled in the coming months.
"Nobody in Iraq has the military power to mount a traditional coup, but there could be a change in government, done in a back room, which could see a general brought in to run the Ministry of Defence or the Interior," Mr Cordesman said.
"It could be regarded as a more legitimate government than the present one as long it doesn't favour one faction."
This weekend Dr Mutlak, who leads the Iraqi National Dialogue Front, the fifth-largest political group in the National Assembly, vowed to press ahead with his plans. "We think Iraq is now in a tragic state," he said.
"Maliki must step down. He has done nothing up to now. Hundreds of Iraqis are being killed almost daily and thousands are being removed from their homes in sectarian purges, and he takes no action."
Dr Mutlak's proposal is evidence of an increasing frustration with Mr Maliki, who has failed to stop violence and to revive the economy. Iraqi officials estimated last week that up to 100 people, mostly civilians, were being murdered every day.CONCERN OVER IRAQI TROOPS FAILING TO STAND UP SO AMERICAN FORCES CAN STAND DOWN
From the Washington Times :
Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is expressing growing concern about how quickly Iraq's emerging security forces can take over the job of fighting insurgents, say defense sources familiar with his briefings in Washington last week.
Contrasting Gen. Casey's latest assessments with more optimistic ones he gave early this year, the sources described him as "more sober" and "more concerned" about the progress of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). The Bush administration's opportunity to bring home troops and reduce battlefield deaths is tied directly to the ISF's ability to assume the counterinsurgency mission.
Sources did not describe Gen. Casey's mood as pessimistic. They say he still expresses confidence that the coalition eventually will win, but the timing is much more in doubt.
"His concern is the Iraqis are not standing up quickly enough to take this mission," said a defense source with knowledge of Gen. Casey's discussions in Washington. He briefed President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other senior leaders.
Said an Army official at the Pentagon, who asked not to be named, "There is resignation that we are in this for the long haul. It's harder to plan now because your world has been turned upside down. Soldiers are being delayed in assignments and surprised by freezes and short-fused reassignments. Families are in a pressure cooker not knowing whether stability is all but thrown out the window. The question that must be asked is how long can this pace be sustained?"
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, a military analyst and a hawk on Iraq, said the past three months of intense Sunni-versus-Shi'ite violence, coupled with attacks from Iraqi insurgents and al Qaeda terrorists, might be designed to influence the U.S. midterm elections on Nov. 7 in favor of candidates who want a quick troop exit from Iraq.
"This is all orchestrated around the election," Gen. McInerney said. "It's simple. It should come as no surprise."
Other military analysts have said the huge increase of killings is a typical insurgent tactic. Invade key cities -- in this case, Baghdad -- and create mass death and chaos in an attempt to weaken the will of the coalition and dampen the U.S. public's war support.
He said that since the bombing of the Shi'ite Golden Dome mosque in February, "we have seen the nature of the conflict evolving from an insurgency focused against us to a struggle for the division of political and economic power among the Iraqis."
He said he had been on a course in July to cut two brigades, or about 15,000 U.S. troops, but instead increased the number of troops when violence flared in the capital.
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