Sunday, December 31, 2006
IN DEATH SADDAM WILL BECOME A LEGEND, BEYOND HIS WAR CRIMES
AND THE UNITED STATES WILL REMAIN GUILTY FOR GIVING HIM WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
After spending far too many hours reading far too many stories on the reactions from across the planet to the news that Saddam Hussein has been executed, it's overwhelmingly obvious that while few regret the dictator is dead, there is a huge amount of dissent and anger at the method and timing of the execution and the 'justness' of the trial that preceded it.
While President Bush and Australia's prime minister John Howard crow about the "fairness" of the trial Saddam faced, there are few takers for such praise in the legal world. This wasn't a trial of justice, it was all about vengeance. As the fast-tracked execution shows.
It's also quite stunning to see just how many commentators, blog commenters, letter writers and opinionists, the world over, are going out of their way to point out that Saddam has been put out of Iraq's misery quick smart in order to kill off the future trial he faced for the gassing of the Kurds in the late 1980s.
Because in order for Saddam to have received a "fair and just trial" over that appalling massacre, there would have been much information going down on the public record about where Saddam actually got the toxic chemicals and the relevant delivery systems that made the massacre of more than 5000 Kurds possible. Not to mention the tens of thousands of Iranians killed in horrific ways by some of the very same chemical weapons that he used to massacre the Kurds.
The biological and chemical weapons that Saddam used on the Kurds and the Iranians were supplied by the United States, and there are US Senate records to prove it.
What this means is that a legend will now quickly form, and it's one that appears to be true, unfortunately, that Saddam was taken out before too much about the United States' complicity in arming up his regime with weapons of mass destruction during the 1980s is exposed to the harsh, unforgiving daylight of international legal scrutiny.
That Saddam was executed so publicly - via the leading nightly news stories and front page photos and Google and YouTube videos, and so brutally - being hung from the neck in a shabby room with gleeful voices mocking him - only showed just how callous and medieval the Iraqi legal system of today is.
It's supposed to be anything but. This is not the Modern Iraq fantasy that was, and continues to be, sold to the American and Western public.
The photos and videos are shocking of the execution are shocking. Probably more so because Saddam did not go fighting and screaming to his death, but managed to maintain a presence of dignity amongst his obvious fear. He did not beg for forgiveness, nor do did he apologise for his crimes.
He went down claiming he was a militant who was not afraid to die. The video shows that, while nervous, he was not terrified of the fate about to befall him. Most people would have a hard time imagining themselves meeting their death this way.
Again, this was a largely unforeseen fallout reaction for those whose job it is to market and sell the liberation of Iraq as taking that nation into the 21st century of fresh, new democracies.
Did America really spend half a trillion dollars and lose 3000 soldiers just so the Iraqis could go back to hanging people in dank rooms amongst cheering and mocking laughter?
It was never supposed to be this way.
Saddam was supposed to be served up a cold dish of justice for his crimes against humanity, and the world was supposed to learn the full extent of everything he was responsible for. Not simply just a small, (by comparison) massacre of villagers, some of whom had tried to kill him.
Compared to what Saddam did to the Kurds and to the Iranians (during the Iran-Iraq War), the massacre he was convicted for was almost the least of his crimes.
But Saddam is dead, and the the air will never be truly cleared of how the United States propped up and armed up his regime during the 1980s.
Instead, legends and conspiracy theories will flourish around the extremely disturbing facts of what happened back then.
The good news may well be that Saddam is dead.
The bad news is that he is set to become a dead legend of Hitleresque proportions.
And while Saddam hung from the thick rope for nine minutes, his neck broken, car bombs across Baghdad killed dozens of Iraqis and another seven (or more) American soldiers.
Saddam, it seems, got off easy in the end.
The Iraq Civil War is now set to become even more deadly in the year ahead. The insurgency is running rife and is smashing great holes in the US military, and the once holy strength of the America's Army. Just as Saddam promised before the war began.
Death has now claimed Saddam Hussein.
But death will now claim hundreds, if not thousands, or tens of thousands, more American and Iraqi lives.
The Last Minutes Of A Tyrant's Life - Prayers, Cry For Calm, Jeers And Mocking
"I Watched Saddam Die"
The Reaction To Saddam's Execution From Iraqi And Arab Media
Arab Haj Pilgrims Outraged At Execution, Viewed As An Insult To Muslims, Mostly For The Timing
United States And Iran Stand United....In Their Satisfaction At The Death Of Saddam
World Leaders Welcome And Condemn Death Of A Dictator
Europeans Denounce Saddam's Execution
Palestinians Say They've Lost A Leader, And Supporter
The Victory Of Vengeance Over Justice
Vatican Denounces Execution, Says Saddam's Death Was Tragic
India Condemns Execution, Protests Erupt
Taliban Says Saddam's Death Will Intensify Jihad
Friday, December 29, 2006
Incredible scenes of jubiliation are now being reported across Iraq as television screens fill with images of the execution of Saddam Hussein.
For millions of Iraqi Shiites, the news that this brutal dictator is dead will be greeted like a gift from God, particularly as it comes at the start of the Eid festival.
Go to 'Your New Reality' for full coverage
Excerpts from a comprehensive review in the UK Independent :
The history of Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein has been full of fake turning-points - the capture of Saddam in 2003, the supposed handover of sovereignty to Iraqis in 2004, the parliamentary elections and referendum in 2005.
All these events were greeted by the White House and Downing Street at the time as important and encouraging signs of progress, justifying the invasion of 2003. But with every year the war has become more intense. Iraqis are now dying at the rate of about 1,000 a week, according to the UN. Civil war is raging in central Iraq. The war against the US soldiers has also escalated, though American casualties are far lower. The country is awash with blood.
There were two real turning-points of very different kinds in Iraq in 2006: the blowing up of the Shia al-Askari shrine in Samarra on 22 February; and the Republican defeat in the US mid-term elections, in which Iraq was the main issue, on 7 November. The first was the starting gun for the present sectarian bloodbath. The second also had a vast effect within Iraq as the US began to contemplate failure.
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.
Amid this bloodbath, it is difficult to pick out long-term trends. However, several were clearly visible in 2006:
* There is civil war between Shia and Sunni in central Iraq, and it is getting worse by the day. The most important battle is for control of Baghdad.
* The US is becoming weaker in Iraq because of its evident failure to gain control of the country, and because of the Republicans' defeat in the mid-term elections. The number of Americans who support continuing the war is decreasing.
* The US tried, under its astute and affable envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, to conciliate the Sunni by offering them positions in government, limiting provisions in the constitution they disliked and seeking to talk to the insurgents. The strategy shows little sign of working, and Khalilzad's star is waning.
* The Shia, never comfortable with the US-led forces but prepared to work with the US for their own ends, are increasingly hostile to the occupation. The percentage of Shia who agree with armed attacks on US-led forces rose from 41 per cent to 62 per cent in the first nine months of 2006.
* The US is considering negotiations with Iran and Syria, though this would be a confession of weakness. It also knows that they would look for concessions, such as a US withdrawal and an increase in their regional influence. Sunni powers like Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt are increasingly worried by Shia successes in Iraq and Lebanon.
* The Kurds are losing confidence that Iraq will hold together, though they do not want to be blamed for it coming apart. Kurdistan is the only peaceful part of Iraq.
* The militias grew stronger during the year because the army and police cannot provide security.
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.Inside Baghdad, it is the Shia who are advancing, using their superior numbers. Sunni are being pushed back into the south and west of the city. But in the furthest outskirts, in dusty towns that were once mixed, the Sunni are on the attack. There is brutal fighting in towns such as Balad, one of the few places with a Shia majority north of Baghdad, and Mahmudiyah, on the main road to the south. The Sunni are increasingly in a position to encircle Baghdad.
The US troops are largely bystanders in this ferocious civil war. Where they do intervene it is usually to defend the Sunni, angering the Shia. It is a nasty feature of present-day Iraqi politics that Sunni, Shia and Kurds all see themselves as victims and have little sympathy for or knowledge of the woes of others. In conversation, they tell of atrocities committed against their own community but scarcely mention the killings perpetrated by their own militias and gunmen. Shia describe their Sunni opponents as "Wahabis" and cat's-paws of Saudi Arabia, while Sunni view Iraqi Shia as pawns of Iran.What options are open to the US? It could reinforce its troops with 20,000 to 30,000 more men, but these numbers add little security in a city the size of Baghdad. It could pull back to its bases, prepared to intervene in support of Iraqi government forces. But these bases depend on vulnerable supply lines. It could pick a fight with the militias, notably the Mehdi army of Muqtada al-Sadr, as it did before in 2004 - it would win militarily, but it cannot eliminate the Sadrists because they are too numerous and too popular.
Negotiations are unlikely to succeed that do not have at their centre an agreement for a timetable for US and British withdrawal. It is their presence in Iraq that is destabilising the region. Their departure should also be unambiguous, with no American bases established inside Iraq.
The US and Britain have argued that this would lead to the Iraqi government unwinding, and would embolden the insurgents. But both these processes are going on already. Sunni resistance to the occupation has created a sympathetic environment for al-Qa'ida-type organisations to flourish in central Iraq. The longer the war goes on, the more entrenched the fanatical Islamic groups will become.
The last justification for keeping US troops in Iraq was that "at least they prevent civil war", but they are failing to do so. It might be useful to have foreign forces acceptable to both sides, but the US and British occupiers do not, in the eyes of Iraqis, have the legitimacy to act as mediators.
The coming year is likely to see the battle for Baghdad intensify. Iraq will probably continue to exist, but as a loose federal state. The Kurds always wanted this; indeed, they would like independence if they dared to take it, but they fear the reaction of Turkey, Iran and Syria.
After the horrors of this year, Sunni and Shia will hardly be able to co-operate closely in future. The sense of Iraqi identity may have been damaged beyond repair. But, more than most states, Iraq is dominated by its capital and Shia and Sunni will continue to fight to rule Baghdad until they either win or know there is no hope of victory.Go Here To Read The Full Story
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
IRAN announced it is ready to offer "comprehensive assistance" to Iraq. There is more talk of helping out with the 'service sector' than security, for now. Although an Iranian spokesman basically said you can't have a healthy economic environment within Iraq without security.
THE United Nations Security Council resolutions imposed upon Iran last week are more about saving face for the United States and Britain, claims the Iranian president, than being a united front of world powers against Iran's plans for nuclear energy expansion.
The Iranian president has also blasted the United Nations for completely ignoring the fact that Israel is armed with an estimated 200 nuclear weapons, while there is no proof that Iran has any, or is working towards developing even one such weapon.
THE United States claims that Iran is heading into a "downward spiral" over its non-compliance with the International Atomic Energy Agency for its nuclear programs. Iran is now believed to be planning to counter the recently imposed United Nations Security Council sanctions by replacing the US dollar with the Euro for most of its major oil and trade deals.
Ethiopia has invaded Somalia, with the blessing of the United States. Ethiopian forces have reached the outskirts of Somali's capital Mogadishu. The Islamists who chased the savage warlords from power in Somalia earlier this year have now declared a 'holy war' against Christian-dominated Ethiopia.
Ethiopia says the Islamists are in retreat. The Islamists say they have made tactical withdrawals.
Almost half a million Somalis are now believed to be in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Ports and major routes have closed, food and fuel prices have surged.
ISRAEL is now planning a series of what they call "pin-point" strikes against Gaza positions from which Palestinian militants are firing Kassam rockets into Israel-occupied territory. The 'truce', however, remains in place.
In another sign of faltering relations between the United States and Israel, the US announced it will join EU and Arab League condemnation of Israel's plans to build new, illegal settlements in the West Bank.
DID the United States Secret Service bust an Iraqi government minister out of jail and smuggle him into Jordan? It sure sounds like they did.
NORTH Korea continues to defy the United States by playing a complicated game of aggressive diplomacy during six party talks on the future of its nuclear weapons programs. The United States wants to talk about the weapons, but North Korea would rather talk about why the US is trying to stop its international business ventures and why President Bush is so insulting towards the North Koreans.
South Korea now claims that the United States offered to take North Korea off its roster of international terrorist states if they began dismantling their nuclear weapons. NK said no.
The Taliban has confirmed that its top commander has been killed during fighting in Afghanistan. Akhtar Mohammad Osmani is believed to have been essential in not only military planning, but overseeing the financial transactions of the Taliban.
THE chief of the Phillippines' alleged Al Qaeda-linked group, Abu Sayvaf, was killed in early September.
Khaddafy Janjalani was one of the United States' most wanted terrorists. The bounty on him was worth $5 million. It took more than three months for DNA results to confirm the body was that of Janjalani.
STEPHEN J. Sniegoski claims that the 'War On Iraq' is a war fought by the United States on behalf of, and for the direct benefit of, Israel. He explains why here.
An interesting story from April 2003 discussing Israel's plans to pump oil from the then
"newly conquered Iraq" to Haifa. It sounded like plans for a new pipeline were all ready to go following the successful invasion. No word now on what happened to those plans.
SADDAM Hussein will be executed within 28 days. He has written a letter to the people of Iraq, urging them not to hate each other, or the American soldiers in their midst :
"I call on you not to hate because hate does not leave space for a person to be fair and it makes you blind and closes all doors of thinking. I also call on you not to hate the people of the other countries that attacked us... Dear faithful people, I say goodbye to you, but I will be with the merciful God who helps those who take refuge in him and who will never disappoint any honest believer.''
THE United States is planning to install anti-missile radar and defence systems in Japan in the next few years.
PAKISTAN is planning to try and secure its border with Afghanistan by installing massive minefields and a fence system.
IF peace and stability is not restored to Afghanistan, claims former US deputy secretary of state, Richard Armitage, then the stability of Pakistan and India will become increasingly at risk.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Juan Cole, of 'Informed Comment,' has compiled a Top Ten of American-media pumped myths about the Iraq War.
He shreds the last strands of credibility from such fictionals as :
- The United States can still the 'War On Iraq'.
- There is no civil war now raging in Iraq.
- The controversial Lancet Study, which proposed war-related deaths in Iraq were over 600,000, is seriously flawed and unreliable.
- Most of the violence in Iraq is confined to Baghdad, and surrounding districts.
- Iraq is "the central front in the War On Terror".
- Sunni resistance fighters will follow Americans home with terror attacks if they are not beaten and destroyed in Iraq.
Interesting to note that Juan Cole's site is now one of the most popular amongst United States' intelligence agencies, full of desperate analysts trying to understand the truth about what is happening in Iraq.
From the story :
Bush and others in his administration have argued that setting such a timetable would give a significant military advantage to the guerrillas fighting US forces and opposed to the new government. That assertion makes sense only if there were a prospect that the US could militarily crush the Sunni Arabs.
There is no such prospect.
The guerrilla war is hotter now than at any time since the US invasion. It is more widely supported by more Sunni Arabs than ever before. It is producing more violent attacks than ever before. Since we cannot defeat them short of genocide, we have to negotiate with them.
And their first and most urgent demand is that the US set a timetable for withdrawal before they will consider coming into the new political system. That is, we should set a timetable in order to turn the Sunni guerrillas from combatants to a political negotiating partner.
Saddam Hussein To Be Exected Within 30 Days - Appeals Rejected
Claim : New US Defence Secretary Visited Baghdad To Deal With American Troop Mutiny In Anbar
1000 British Troops Raid And Then Destroy HQ Of Shiite Death And Torture Squads, Working Under Cover Of Iraqi Police
Basra Raid Infuriates City Council, Refuse To Co-Operate With British Forces
Americans Slowly Realise That President Bush Faked His "Reality Moment" On Iraq, And That He Intends To Stay The Same Old Course
Christmas Day In Iraq : More Than 70 People Killed, Dozens Found Tortured, Dead
Sunday, December 24, 2006
ETHIOPIAN JETS HIT TARGETS IN SOMALIA AS THOUSANDS OF FOREIGN JIHADISTS POUR IN
ETHIOPIA'S PRIME MINISTER DECLARES WAR ON SOMALI ISLAMISTS
Less than two weeks ago, the prime minister of Ethiopia declared that his country had finished preparations for war with the Islamic Courts now controlling most of neighbouring Somalia.
This followed the meteoric rise of the Islamist movement in Somalia, where in less than eight months they have seized control of the Somali capital Mogadishu, taken control of key port cities and facilities and have surrounded the small town where the US-backed interim government is biding its time, protected by troops from Ethiopia.
Where this has the looming potential for all out war across the Horn of Africa is that Somali neighbour Eritrea has sent its own troops in to back the Islamists. Eritrea and Ethiopia have long regarded each other as hostile enemies.
Ethiopia, meanwhile, regards the presence of the Islamic Courts in Somalia as a "clear and present danger" and they fear not moving fast enough to stop the spread of the Islamists control and influence.
Ethiopia is a majority Christian country, but there are still millions of Muslims living peacefully, for the most part, as a quiet minority. Ethiopia fears what may happen if the Islamists can rally support amongst Ethiopian Muslims. Ironically, that will be far easier to do if Ethiopia launches a full-scale war against Muslims in Somalia.
The United States, meanwhile, backs Ethiopia, claims the Islamic Courts are actually Al Qaeda, and is preparing to deploy an African force, as well as establishing an Africa Command.
Yesterday and today, Ethopia launched jet fighter attacks against what it said were Islamist positions. Ethiopians tanks and attack helicopters have now entered Somalia.
From news.com.au :
Ethiopian forces defending Somalia's weak interim government have launched airstrikes against Islamist fighters in an escalation of a conflict that threatens to engulf the Horn of Africa.
Ethiopian Information Minister Berhan Hailu said the operation targeted several fronts including Dinsoor, Bandiradley and Baladwayne and the town of Buur Hakaba - close to the administration's encircled south-central base Baidoa.
It was the first use of airstrikes and Ethiopia's first public admission of its military involvement in Somalia, whose government is surrounded by fighters of the Somalia Islamic Courts Council (SICC) backed by mortars and machineguns.
"After too much patience, the Ethiopian government has taken self-defensive measures and started counter-attacking the aggressive extremist forces of the Islamic Courts and foreign terrorist groups," Berhan told Reuters, saying "anti-Ethiopian" elements had massed along the border.Both sides have rained rockets, mortars and machinegun fire across several parts of a slim frontline near Baidoa.
Amid the explosions, pick-up trucks armed with heavy weapons have ferried supplies forward and collected the injured.
In the Islamist port city of Kismayu, hundreds of women and children waved goodbye to 1,000 men who had volunteered for the frontline.
Dressed in a ragtag of fatigues, the men sped off in camouflage-painted trucks to the chants of "Victory is ours".
Further north in Mogadishu, scores of women and children gathered in one of the main markets to badger men walking along the streets to join the war.
"They told me to wear their clothes if I will not go to war," said Abdi Rashid. "They said I'm not a man, because all men are on the frontline, so I should wear women's clothes."Military experts estimate Ethiopia has 15,000-20,000 troops in Somalia, while Eritrea has about 2,000 behind the Islamists.
The conflict kicked into a higher, more deadlier, gear less than two weeks ago, when the Ethiopian prime minister declared that his nation was preparing for a full-blown war with Somalia's Union of Islamic Courts. The Islamists, for now, control the Somali capital Mogadishu, key port cities and most of the southern and central regions of the country.
The US-backed Somali transitional government is now holed up the small town of Baidoa, where they beg for help from Ethiopia and the West, while Islamists train mortars and machine guns on the government compound.
The United States quickly announced it would support a deployment of African troops into Somalia to protect the government from Islamists. The US accuses the Islamic Courts of being in league with Al Qaeda, a charge the Islamists regard as a fiction, and more US propaganda.
Some background on the conflict, and how it became a reality of 'The Fourth World War.'
From Shabelle.net :
The major problem for the United States and Ethiopia right now is that the Islamic Courts are not altogether unpopular with Somalis, who utterly despised the warlords that ruled and destroyed their nation for more than a decade.
Somalia lost its central government in 1991 when tribal warlords toppled former president Mohammed Siad Barre. Peace talks in the Sudanese capital Khartoum have ended in failure early this month after Islamic Courts demanded that all Ethiopian forces in the country leave.
The Islamists have chased out most of these warlords, and the locals are happy. They're not so happy about the introduction of Islamist Sharia Law, but from the wealth of media coming out of Somalia and Ethiopia, it appears just how hardcore the Sharia Law in use depends on where you live in Somalia.
In some towns the local clerics don't allow music and dancing or uncovered women, but in other villages the rules are far more lax.
That the United States ended up backing Somali warlords against the Islamists is yet another ironic shock, considering it was some of these very same warlords who killed, or helped to kill, almost two dozen American special forces officers during the infamous 'Black Hawk Down' raids on Mogadishu in the early 1990s.
Why does this conflict between Ethiopia and the Islamists in Somalia have such potential to become a full-blown war stretching across the Horn of Africa?
From the London Times :
The Horn of Africa, one of the world’s most volatile regions, edged closer to war today after Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, said that his country had completed preparations to take on a powerful Islamic alliance in neighbouring Somalia.The following story, from the Washington Post is a few weeks old, but it hits some of the same key points about why this conflict has the potential to spill out across the Horn of Africa :
Mr Zenawi told the Ethiopian parliament that the Islamists presented a "clear and present danger" to Ethiopia, whose main regional foe — Eritrea — was arming them.
He said that attempts to settle the crisis through dialogue and negotiation had proved fruitless.
The Islamists, who now control most of Somalia, later met in emergency session in the capital, Mogadishu, and vowed to defend the country against a "reckless and war-thirsty" Ethiopia.
However, at the same time the Supreme Islamic Council of Somalia, a coalition of 11 Islamic organisations that wrested power earlier this year from local warlords, invited Washington to send an official delegation to Mogadishu for talks.
Council spokesman Abdurahim Muddey said: "We are inviting the United States to send a delegation to see what is happening in Somalia... The US delegation will be received by our foreign relations chief, Ibrahim Hassan Addow, who is himself an American citizen."
The United States has accused the Islamists of links to al-Qaeda and encouraged Ethiopia to send 5,000 troops to support a rump government based in the border town of Baidoa.
The Islamists’ supreme leader, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, has been designated a "terrorist" by the US, which earlier this month warned that Somali extremists may be plotting suicide attacks in Kenya and Ethiopia.
Intelligence sources say Washington has indicated to Ethiopia that it would not oppose a military operation to remove the Islamists, but regional experts say such an action would ignite the entire region.
Eritrea and Ethiopia fought a devastating border war in 1998-2000 and have several unresolved border disputes.
It is feared both would soon be directly embroiled in any fresh conflict.
Washington previously ran a covert operation to support Somali warlords fighting the Islamists for control of Mogadishu that collapsed in June when the city fell.
The warlords carved up Somalia in 1991 after the Cold War dictator, Mohamed Siad Barre, was overthrown and since then has known nothing but anarchy.
And so, then, how to avoid such a war becoming a reality?
Ethiopia acknowledges sending military advisers to Somalia, although Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has threatened to send tens of thousands of troops across the border if the Council of Islamic Courts attacks.
Experts have warned that Somalia has become a proxy battleground for Somalia's neighbors, Eritrea and Ethiopia. A recent confidential U.N. report said 6,000 to 8,000 Ethiopian troops were inside Somalia or near its border with Ethiopia, backing the interim government. The report also said 2,000 troops from Eritrea were inside Somalia supporting the Islamic militia.
Somalia has not had an effective government since 1991, when warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on each other. The current administration was formed with the help of the United Nations two years ago, but it has failed to assert any control outside the town of Baidoa.
The Council of Islamic Courts, meanwhile, has steadily gained ground since taking over Mogadishu in June and now controls much of southern Somalia.
The United States has accused the Islamic group of sheltering suspects in the 1998 al-Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
From the Toronto Star :
If a full-scale war in Somalia is to be averted, the international community must first look to its meddling neighbours and help Ethiopia and Eritrea resolve their unresolved tension, argues Terrence Lyons, an associate professor at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution in his paper "Avoiding Conflict in the Horn of Africa."
Lyons says the 2000 peace process that ended the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea is falling apart – in particular, failing to demarcate a new border between the countries – and only by ending this stalemate can regional war be averted.
International involvement is now key – both in helping facilitate peace talks and avoiding strong-arm tactics that could draw foreign fighters and incite the wider war that Osama bin Laden called for during his last taped message
Across Africa, A Growing Sense That The United States' Power Really Isn't So Super
Ethiopia Claims Thousands Of Jihadists From Pakistan, Egypt Pouring Into Somalia
Ethiopian Jets Bomb Somalia - Dead Lie In The Streets
Trial Militias Seize Police Station In Central Somalia
US Government Approves Deployment Of Peacekeepers
Ethiopia Confirms Counterattack On Somali Islamists
The Allure Of Africa's Oil
Friday, December 22, 2006
DEMANDS US LEAVE BEHIND "HEAVY WEAPONRY" AND BASES
THE WORLD'S FASTEST GROWING REFUGEE CRISIS
Bush Co. and the American military has been negotiating with insurgency and resistance groups in Iraq since shortly after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
As we know now, the insurgency became a self-fulfilling prophecy when the US sacked hundreds of thousands of Iraqi army and police officers and sent them home with their guns, ammo and looted explosives in May-July, 2006.
It's never been entirely clear from the American side just how successful these negotiations with those Bush-branded "terrorists" have been. They're barely mentioned in the US media.
In the Arab world, Gulf media regularly reports on these meetings, discussions and negotiations. The Americans are portrayed as being hard bargainers who want the resistance to lay down their arms. Something the resistance simply will not do, when there are Army uniformed death squads roaming the cities and villages slaughtering whole families.
In short, the insurgency and resistance groups claim they are fighting the American occupation, but they are also protecting themselves, their families and their communities from the Shiite avengers once kept in check by Saddam Hussein's insanely brutal security forces.
All the while, terrorist attacks by Sunnis, Shia and the always-mysterious 'foreign fighters' result in dozens of dead and injured, most of whom require vengeance on their behalf by their brothers, fathers, uncles, neighbours, co-workers.
And on and on the circles of death and bloodshed turn and twist. The hurricane of violence that never really fades away.
For the Americans, the War On Iraq can barely get any worse.
Millions of Iraqis blame the US not only for occupying their country and letting these forces of death loose amongst them all, but they also blame Americans for actually playing a part in the major terrorist attacks, be it via the CIA, private security forces or the ubiquitous Mossad counter-terror operatives.
The Iraqis were liberated and they were given the chance to vote in democratic elections, but those now in government simply cannot supply the security that Iraqis are demanding, be they Shiite, Sunni, Kurd or Christian. If a government can't protect its own people from dozens of major terrorist attacks each and every week, then what good are they?
Amongst all this terror and horror and paranoia, insurgency leaders have appeared now and then to proclaim an offer of a 'truce' with the Americans.
What makes today's announcement so unusual, then, is that it comes with clear, heavy demands.
From CNN.com :
The leader of an umbrella organization for Iraqi insurgent groups is offering the United States a one-month truce to withdraw all U.S. forces from Iraq and turn over its military bases "to the mujahedeen of the Islamic state."
...Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Mujahideen Shura Council, said that if U.S. forces begin withdrawing from Iraq immediately and leave their heavy weaponry behind, "we will allow your withdrawal to complete without anyone targeting you with any explosive or anything else."
"We say to Bush not to waste this historic opportunity that will guarantee you a safe withdrawal," al-Baghdadi said on the audiotape.
The United States was given two weeks to respond to the offer.
The Mujahideen Shura Council is an umbrella group formed in late 2005 that includes several terrorist and insurgent groups, including al Qaeda in Iraq.
Obviously, the United States is not going to agree to such a truce, or withdrawal, but it shows just how powerful the forces of the resistance and the insurgency now view themselves. They know they may be the last chance the United States has of stopping Iraq from being consumed by Iran's Shia.
And then, inside this sectarian war, the superhuman savagery of the revenge attacks and death-inducing torture, Sunnis and Shia are talking to each other, about how they are going to get rid of the Americans once and for all from their lands.
From Dahr Jamail :
The displacement of Iraqis from Iraq is currently the world's fastest-growing refugee crisis, according to the Washington-based group Refugees International which works towards providing humanitarian assistance and protection for displaced people.
The United Nations estimates that at least 2.3 million Iraqis have fled the growing violence in their country. They estimate that 1.8 million Iraqis have fled to surrounding countries, while another half million have vacated their homes for safer areas within Iraq. An estimated 40,000 people are leaving Iraq every month for Syria alone, according to the UN.
He provides a concise explanation for the growth of sectarian violence in Iraq during the past twelve months :
Sectarian violence increased in Iraq after the bombing last February of an important Shia shrine located in Samarra, 60 km north of Baghdad. Shia death squads started appearing in massive numbers afterwards to carry out mass killings of Sunnis, and setting fire to their mosques.
U.S. forces failed to provide protection for civilians on either side. Meanwhile, armed Iraqi resistance to the U.S. occupation increased rapidly during 2006.
"Resistance fighters are Iraqis who are trying to put an end to this vicious occupation," a senior political analyst at Baghdad University told IPS on condition of anonymity. "The Americans ignited sectarian war so that they reduce the action of national resistance, but the result came to be the opposite, and they are being hit harder and more often."
The Sunni-dominated areas of Baghdad and western Iraq faced the worst U.S. military operations during 2006. The policy of siege, raids and large-scale detentions led to massive killing of civilians in cities like Haditha, Karma and Ramadi. "Those Americans take us all for terrorists," the manager of a human rights NGO in Ramadi to the west of Baghdad told IPS.
- "We cannot go to work, cannot go to pray in our mosques, and cannot send our children to schools," young mother Um Rheem from the Shaab quarter in Baghdad told IPS.
"Many Sunni men have been killed by Shia death squads who have the full support of the government and Americans." Such fears are common in many areas in Baghdad where the Sunnis are a minority.
Other areas have other problems to live with. "In areas where Sunnis are a majority, death squads attack in hundreds, taking advantage of curfews and using government police cars," Mahmood Abdulla from the predominantly Sunni Jihad quarter of Baghdad told IPS.
"When we defend ourselves and our homes, they shell us with mortars and Kaytousha missiles. All of this takes place under the eyes of Americans and Iraqi government officials."
Shia Iraqis complain that they cannot go to Sunni dominated areas for work, and they cannot travel on the highway that leads to Syria and Jordan for fear of Sunni militias looking for revenge.
"Sunnis who lost family members would kill any Shia they find, and so we cannot go through their areas," Sa'arat Hassan, a vegetable merchant at the Jameela wholesale vegetable market in Baghdad told IPS.
250 Political Assassinations In One Week : Five Tribal Chiefs Taken Out, Hundreds Of Prominent Iraqs Shot, Stabbed, Tortured To Death, Blown Up In Bombings
Another US Plan For Iraqi Peace Dashed : Shiite Leadership Refuse To Isolate Or Cut Ties With Shiite Powerhouse Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr
Iraqis Suffer Through The Worst Year Yet Of American Occupation - Millions Have Fled Their Homeland, Millions More Face Starvation
US Tries To Force Isolation On Moqtada al-Sadr, But Fails
US Spends $120 Billion On Iraq War In 2006, Projections For 2007 Hit $170 Billion
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Arubdhati Roy supplies a detailed and troubling look inside the 'War On Terror' now being waged by India. Once again, close examination of a country's use of the 'War On Terror' to fight other battles also reveals how the cover of the terror war can be exploited.
It also gets into what hapens once the headlines of 'Terrorists Caught' fade and the court cases begin. Like in the United States, the UK and Australia, what appears to be the 'official story' is anything but when it is taken apart in a court room
The whole story is definitely worth a read.
From the UK Guardian (exccrpts) :
Five years ago this week, on December 13 2001, the Indian parliament was in its winter session. The government was under attack for yet another corruption scandal.
At 11.30 in the morning, five armed men in a white Ambassador car fitted out with an improvised explosive device drove through the gates of Parliament House.
When they were challenged, they jumped out of the car and opened fire. In the gun battle that followed, all the attackers were killed. Eight security personnel and a gardener were killed too.
The dead terrorists, the police said, had enough explosives to blow up the parliament building, and enough ammunition to take on a whole battalion of soldiers. Unlike most terrorists, these five left behind a thick trail of evidence - weapons, mobile phones, phone numbers, ID cards, photographs, packets of dried fruit and even a love letter.
Not surprisingly, prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee seized the opportunity to compare the assault to the September 11 attacks in the US only three months previously.
On December 14 2001, the day after the attack on parliament, the Special Cell (anti-terrorist squad) of the Delhi police claimed it had tracked down several people suspected of being involved in the conspiracy.
The next day, it announced that it had "cracked the case": the attack, the police said, was a joint operation carried out by two Pakistan-based terrorist groups, Lashkar- e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. Three Kashmiri men, Syed Abdul Rahman Geelani, Shaukat Hussain Guru and Mohammad Afzal, and Shaukat's wife, Afsan Guru, were arrested.
In the tense days that followed, parliament was adjourned. The Indian government declared that Pakistan - America's closest ally in the "war on terror" - was a terrorist state.
On December 21, India recalled its high commissioner from Pakistan, suspended air, rail and bus communications and banned air traffic with Pakistan. It put into motion a massive mobilisation of its war machinery, and moved more than half a million troops to the Pakistan border.
Foreign embassies evacuated their staff and citizens, and tourists travelling to India were issued cautionary travel advisories. The world watched with bated breath as the subcontinent was taken to the brink of nuclear war. All this cost India an estimated pounds 1.1bn of public money. About 800 soldiers died in the panicky process of mobilisation alone.
For all these reasons it is critical that we consider carefully the strange, sad and utterly sinister story of the December 13 attack. It tells us a great deal about the way the world's largest "democracy" really works.If you follow the story carefully, you will encounter two sets of masks. First, the mask of consummate competence (accused arrested, "case cracked" in two days flat), and then, when things began to come undone, the benign mask of shambling incompetence (shoddy evidence, procedural flaws, material contradictions).
But underneath all of this - as several lawyers, academics and journalists who have studied the case in detail have shown - is something more sinister, more worrying. Over the past few years the worries have grown into a mountain of misgivings, impossible to ignore.
Through the fissures, those who have come under scrutiny - shadowy individuals, counter-intelligence and security agencies, political parties - are beginning to surface. They wave flags, hurl abuse, issue hot denials and cover their tracks with more and more untruths.
Thus they reveal themselves.
The official version of the story of the parliament attack is very quickly coming apart at the seams. Even the supreme court judgment, with all its flaws of logic and leaps of faith, does not accuse Afzal of being the mastermind of the attack.
So who was the mastermind?
A genuine inquiry would have to mean far more than just a political witch-hunt. It would have to look into the part played by intelligence, counter-insurgency and security agencies as well.
Offences such as the fabrication of evidence and the blatant violation of procedural norms have already become established in the courts, but they look very much like just the tip of the iceberg.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
TOWERS BLOWN UP, DAILY SUPPLY ALL BUT GONE
"AMERICAN FORCES ARE INCAPABLE OF FACING THE MILITIAS"
Where do you begin trying to update on events in Iraq in the past two weeks alone?
Iraqis are dying at an average closing in on 100 per day. Shiite and Sunni neighbourhoods are mortaring each other across the Euphrates River. American forces on the ground are running out of equipment, vehicles and after the recent successful strike by insurgents on the US Army's biggest ammo dump in Iraq, Marines and soldiers are short on bullets.
The Saudis have more than hinted they will deploy their own forces into Iraq to protect vulnerable Sunnis if the ethnic cleansing continues. The American-backed Iraqi president and prime minister are losing their grip on power, as more and more Shiites in Baghdad turn to Moqtada al-Sadr's 50,000 strong mix of army and militia for protection.
American forces have been all but defeated in any traditional sense of historical warfare. The most high-tech, best-funded, most capable Army in the world has been done over by the Ba'athist resistance Saddam Hussein helped organise before the war began in March, 2003.
Departed US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld talked in early 2003 about how they had to do everything they could to stop Americans from getting caught up in an urban warfare zone. It is ironic, then, that it was decisions made, or in some cases ignored, by Rumsfeld that allowed the resistance to become what it is today.
Until only last week, US President Bush was proclaiming they would have Victory In Iraq and stay "until the job is done".
But President Bush is now the most unpopular American president fighting the most unpopular war in American history.
However, Americans are being prepared by the media for the next stage in the Iraq War.
US President Bush wants to send some 30,000 more troops into Baghdad.
Moqtada al-Sadr's army and militias are said to total 50,000, with hundreds of thousands of supporters to provide cover, supplies and hiding places.
Barely two out of ten Americans support sending more troops.
The troops being sent are not battle-hardened killers, for the most part. But they will be facing brutal death squad assassins, who have beheaded their own countrymen, drilled into living skulls and blown up women and children.
Americans now there will be a slaughter, of Americans. But as Bush would say, "further sacrifices will be made."
But Bush is facing vast opposition for his plan. His last shot at whatever Victory in Iraq is supposed to be.
The Joints Chiefs of Staff, for starters, don't like the idea. Neither do a lot of generals, in the US and on the ground in Iraq. The American people clearly hate the idea, and the quietening right wing media can't sell it to their own hardcore audiences.
Everyone understands what tens of thousands of National Guard and Army Reserves sent into the hellstorm of death that is now Baghdad will mean. Mass casualties of US troops, if they are forced to face off against the Shiite militias.
There is a rising, chilling, reality dawning in the United States.
Bush is really going to do this.
He is going to send hundreds of more kids, maybe thousands more, to their deaths, to try and get a win in this war.
Bush is set to go against his allies, friends, parents, military advisers and the wishes of most Americans. But perhaps most importantly, he wants to deploy more troops against the wishes of the US Army, and the National Guard.
Expect more key resignations in the senior ranks of the US military if the 'Bush Baghdad Or Bust' urban massacre goes ahead. And expect more near-or-active mutinies amongst un-armoured, ill-equipped US troops in Iraq.
From the New York Times :
Over the past six months, Baghdad has been all but isolated electrically, Iraqi officials say, as insurgents have effectively won their battle to bring down critical high-voltage lines and cut off the capital from the major power plants to the north, south and west.
The battle has been waged in the remotest parts of the open desert, where the great towers that support thousands of miles of exposed lines are frequently felled with explosive charges in increasingly determined and sophisticated attacks, generally at night. Crews that arrive to repair the damage are often attacked and sometimes killed, ensuring that the government falls further and further behind as it attempts to repair the lines.
And in a measure of the deep disunity and dysfunction of this nation, when the repair crews and security forces are slow to respond, skilled looters often arrive with heavy trucks that pull down more of the towers to steal as much of the valuable aluminum conducting material in the lines as possible. The aluminum is melted into ingots and sold.
What amounts to an electrical siege of Baghdad is reflected in constant power failures and disastrously poor service in the capital, with severe consequences for security, governance, health care and the mood of an already weary and angry populace.
There's a plan to bring in 100 diesel generators for some of the suburbs, before the ultra-heat hits again next summer. Nobody is expecting a steady flowing electricity supply, like a major European city would expect, anytime in the next four to six years.Iraqis can only be expected to be so patient. With the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq approaching, the least they could have expected from the occupation was a functioning electricity system.
IRAQ'S FIVE ENEMIES OF AMERICA
From the IraqSlogger.com :
Az-Zaman daily headlined: “The American forces are incapable of facing the militias”.
...the US is not simply facing a ‘bunch of suicide bombers and insurgents’, but that in fact, the American army in Iraq is facing five enemies at once: al-qa`ida, the loyalists to the ex-president, the criminals, the sectarian militias and the domestic insurgents.
...the report claims that the Badr militia has over 25 000 armed men and that the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq has over 3 million supporters, while the Mahdi army has 10 thousand fighters and 1.5 million supporters.
The daily headlined, in its international edition, “Tehran uses the Islamist Kurds as mediators to negotiate with the Sunnis of Iraq”.
Resistance TV : Insurgents' Pirate TV Station Broadcasts American Soldiers Dying, Insurgent Attacks, Night And Day
Only 11% Of Americans Back The 'Bush Push' For More Troops Into Iraq
Iraq Nears Failed State Chaos, United Nations Security Council Needed To Stop Explosion Of Regional Sunni Vs Shiite War
British Forces In Iraq : Dying For A Lack Of Body Armour, Shortage Of Vehicles, Doubts About Weapons
US Joint Chiefs Of Staff Said To Believe Bush Doesn't Have "A Defined Mission" For Iraq War
Washington Post : "What Could Be More Immoral Than Sacrificing American Blood And Treasure To Save Face In A Lost War?"
Pentagon Report Discusses Civil War, Iraqi Police & Army Death Squads, Ethnic Cleansing : Acknowledges Success Of Anti-US ResistanceAre We Winning In Iraq ? White House Spokesman : "I'm Not Playing The Game Anymore"
Missing In Action : Iraq As A Functional State Which The US Can Negotiate With
The Other Part Of 'Getting The Job Done' : Do America And Israel Want The Middle East To Be Engulfed By Civil War?
Thursday, December 07, 2006
CHINA : The Pentagon is growing increasingly concerned about what they claim is a strategic build-up by China of new missiles and naval weapons designed to take out US aircraft carriers and block American forces out of the Asia-Pacific region. This strategic build-up is also said to include weapons that will ""deny the United States the use of the commons -- the sea, the air, cyber and space."
IRAQ : Claims are emerging that Saudi civilians are privately finding the Sunni insurgency.
The sums involved are said to be in the millions of dollars and the money is being used to buy weapons like shoulder launched anti-aicraft missiles. The claims have been made by "key Iraqi officials". Saudi government officials have denied the reports, naturally, even though in recent days Saudi government officials have said they would send in operatives to protect Sunnis in the event of a US pullout. The controversial Iraq Study Group report also noted that Sunni Arab insurgents are scoring funds from private civilians living in Saudi Arabia. The cash is boxed up and trucked into Iraq.
Also in Iraq, 32 American Marines and soldiers have been killed since the start of December. 18 of those fatalities occured in the Anbar province. So much for the fighting being contained with a short radius of Baghdad, as the American spin machine claims....1000 British and Danish soldiers staged a massive raid in Basra, the largest raid in the city since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Shiite tribal leaders were rounded up and detained, infuriating locals. More dead women and children...More than 30 civilians were killed by US troops during raids north-west of Baghdad...
And here's something barely mentioned at all during the extensive coverage of reaction to the controversial report from the Iraq Study Group : the reactions from Iraqis.
CENTRAL ASIA : The Shanghai CoOperation Organisation (SCO), for those of us in the West at least, is the power bloc we never hear about. Non-aggressive, barely focusing on military, but instead working together on financial, developmental and cultural agreements, programs and exchanges, the SCO causes the United States (and its allies) far more worry than it should.
By the combined land mass and populations of the countries involved - China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, India, Pakistan, Mongolia and Iran - the SCO is the largest regional group in the world. But the United States, England, Israel and Australia do not get a look in, and they are rarely, if ever, invited to sit in on meetings as observers.
So why is the US worried about the SCO? Yo Bin in the Asia Times gives some concise background here.
RUSSIA : Vladimir Putin is beginning to express concerns over the nuclear program in Iran, after refusing to back US/Israel-backed UN sanctions, as did China. Putin said there are valid concerns not only about Iran's current nuclear research, but unanswered questions remain about its past experimental nuclear energy program....Russia claims it will sell some $6 billion worth of military arms in the 2006 period, including sales to China worth $1.5 billion...
ISRAEL : The Israeli government has flatout refused to enter into "peace talks" with Syria, despite the recommendations of a key US report, and offers of "open talks" from Syria. The chief point of contention remains the Golan Heights, which Syria has demanded Israel must hand back....Israel has decided to keep pretending it doesn't have hundreds of nuclear weapons
...Olmert says that Israel-Syria should not be linked to Iraq War....Hamas has announced it will never recognise Israel
SOMALIA : The United Nations has voted to send 8000 peacekeepers to the troubled state in the Horn Of Africa. The Council of Islamic Courts has vowed to fight "the invaders"....."Heavy fighting" is being reported between Somalian government troops, backed by Ethiopian fighters, and Islamist fighters. The involvement of Ethopia could unleash a broader, more brutal war in the region....
AFHGANISTAN : Talks between Afghanistan and Pakistan over insurgent attacks that Afghanistan claim are originating inside their neighbour's territory are on the verge of breaking down. Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai is "loosing patience"....Suicide bombings continue to kill civilians and NATO troops in Kandahar...Public optimism is starting to fade as Taliban continue to hit raid towns and villages and kill civilians and NATO troops...
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
RECOMMENDS MAJOR COMBAT TROOPS OUT IN EARLY 2008
REPORT ECHOES SAUDIS WISH FOR PALESTINIANS "RIGHT OF RETURN"
The new US Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates, said yesterday that the United States is not winning the 'War On Iraq'. A new report released today confirms this fact, but also says that there is no action the US military can take that will the war in any way approaching a clear and decisive victory.
Even though much detail from the Iraq Study Group's report 'The Way Forward' was leaked to the media in the past two weeks, the impact of its release has been substantial in the US, in Iraq, and in Coalition of the Willing countries like Australia and the UK.
From recommending directly that negotiations begin with Iran and Syria to help end the war, to recognising the true cost of the war on the civilians of Iraq, from revealing that ethnic cleansing is a savage reality, to recognising that one of the chief causes of Muslim anger towards US policy is its tireless support of Israel's low-boil war against the Palestinians, from boldy stating just how much American money has been wasted on the war, to admitting that many American soldiers' lives were wasted on pointless missions, from detailing the murderous sprees undertaken by some members of the Iraqi Army and police force, to recognising the true number and power of the biggest Shiite militia force (60,000 strong) the Iraq Study Report is going to shock both supporters of the war and also its harshest critics.
While President Bush had weeks to prepare for the report, and no doubt was briefed extensively before he even thought about fronting the media, he still looked wiped out, knocked about and clearly shocked by the contents of the report.
Critics have accused Bush of being locked inside a bubble of No Bad News, a characteristic that has been widely reported where he has reacted almost violently to briefers, advisors and administration officials who tried to tell him since early 2004 that the situation on the ground in Iraq was far worse than he thought, or knew.
It is clear now that President Bush didn't want to know the reality, and allowed his inner circle to filter the news he recieved, or at least, the news he chose to believe.
Perhaps he actually read the report from cover to cover. Even for someone like myself who has spent two to four hours most days reading media coverage, unclassified reports and milblogs on the Iraq War, 'The Way Forward' report hits right between the eyes.
It is that so much of the bad news, the truth, has been gathered together in this way that shocks you. You can read fragments every day for three years, but to cop the full load in one read, well, you can understand why President Bush is so clearly devastated.
There's already an enormous amount of coverage on the report's contents, and we've linked to some key summaries and 'what happens next' articles below, but for today we'll just directly quote the parts of the report that leapt out on a first reading :
"The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating . . . [Maliki's government] is not adequately advancing national reconciliation, providing basic security, or delivering essential services."
"There is no guarantee for success in Iraq . . . There is great suffering, and the daily lives of many Iraqis show little or no improvement. Pessimism is pervasive . . . the ability of the United States to influence events (has been diminished and continues to be so)"
"Iraqis have not been convinced that they must take responsibility for their own future."
"U.S. forces seem to be caught in a mission that has no foreseeable end."
"The Iraqi government cannot now govern, sustain, and defend itself without the support of the United States."
"A collapse of Iraq's government and economy would further cripple a country already unable to meet its people's needs. Iraq's security forces could split along sectarian lines. A humanitarian catastrophe could follow..."
"(In the event of the government and ecomony collapsing)...ethnic cleansing could escalate. The Iraqi people could be subjected to another strongman who flexes the political and military muscle required to impose order amid anarchy."
"The United Nations estimates that 1.6 million are displaced within Iraq, and up to 1.8 million Iraqis have fled the country.""The United States should embark on a robust diplomatic effort to establish an international support structure intended to stabilize Iraq and ease tensions in other countries in the region. This support structure should include every country that has an interest in averting a chaotic Iraq, including all of Iraq's neighbors--Iran and Syria among them."
"There is no action the American military can take that, by itself, can bring about success in Iraq."
"Because events in Iraq have been set in motion by American decisions and actions, the United States has both a national and a moral interest in doing what it can to give Iraqis an opportunity to avert anarchy."
"Many military units are under significant strain . . . many units do not have fully functional equipment for training when they redeploy to the United States."
"Given the ability of Iran and Syria to influence events within Iraq and their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq, the United States should try to engage them constructively."
"Iran appears content for the U.S. military to be tied down in Iraq, a position that limits U.S. options in addressing Iran's nuclear program ad allows Iran leverage over stability in Iraq."
"Iraq is a major test of, and strain on, U.S. military, diplomatic, and financial capacities. Perceived failure there could diminish America's credibility and influence in a region that is the center of the Islamic world and vital to the world's energy supply."
"[T]he Syrians look the other way as arms and foreign fighters flow across their border into Iraq, and former Baathist leaders find a safe haven within Syria.""Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states . . . for the most part have been passive and disengaged. They have declined to provide debt relief or substantial economic assistance to the Iraqi government."
"The United States cannot achieve its goals in the Middle East unless it deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict and regional instability. There must be a renewed and sustained commitment by the United States to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace on all fronts . . . [including] direct talks with, by, and between Israel, Lebanon, Palestinians...and Syria."
"Significant questions remain about the ethnic composition and loyalties of some Iraqi units--specifically, whether they will carry out missions on behalf of national goals instead of a sectarian agenda ."
"If the Iraqi government does not make substantial progress toward the achievement of milestones on national reconciliation, security, and governance, the United States should reduce its political, military, or economic support for the Iraqi government.""The problems in the Iraqi police and criminal justice system are profound."
"Terrorism could grow. As one Iraqi official told us, 'Al-Qaeda is now a franchise in Iraq, like McDonald's.'"
"Al Qaeda is responsible for a small portion of the violence in Iraq, but that includes some of the more spectacular acts . . . Al Qaeda in Iraq is now largely Iraqi-run and composed of Sunni Arabs. Foreign fighters--numbering an estimated 1,300--play a supporting role or carry out suicide operations."The Shiite militias that both defending territory inside Baghdad and executing Sunnis in revenge attacks "are fragmenting, with an increasing breakdown in command structure . . . The prevalence of militias sends a powerful message: political leaders can preserve and expand their power only if backed by armed force. The Mahdi Army . . . may number as many as 60,000 fighters."
"Sunni Arabs feel displaced because of the loss of their traditional position of power in Iraq."
"The Shia, the majority of Iraq's population, have gained power for the first time in more than 1,300 years."
It is well worth reading the entire report if you want to get a preview of how the 'War On Iraq' is unlikely to unfold in the next 12 to 24 months. It remains to be seen, however, whether or not Bush Co. will act on the key recommendations.Should they fail to act, however, and should the ready-to-fire Democrat majority in the US Senate keep its pre-election promises, Bush Co. may find themselves in a civil war of their own, right in the heart of Washington DC.
Iraq Panel Calls Conditions "Grave" "Deteriorating"
Iraq Report Set To Reshape US National Debate About The War
Haditha Massacre : 5 Marines To Be Charged With Murder, Homocide For Slaughter Of 24 Unarmed Iraqi Men, Women, Children
Iraqi Firefighters Bear The Heat Of Horrific Terror Attacks
New US Defence Secretary Says America Is Not Winning The War On Iraq
US Ambassador To Australia Says Iraq Is North Korea All Over Again