Archive for June, 2004

Iraqis have lived this lie before

Wednesday, June 30th, 2004

by Haifa Zangana the Guardian

In Iraq, we have an expression: same donkey, different saddle. Iraq’s long-heralded interim government has now formally assumed sovereignty. Official labels and tags have duly changed. The US administrator will now be an ambassador, while Sheikh Ghazi al Yawar and Iyad Allawi, US-appointed members of the former governing council, are to be known as president and prime minister.

To formalise the change, the UN has already issued a resolution under which “multinational forces” will replace “US-led forces”. On the issue of control over US troops, the message is clear: the US forces are there to stay only because “Iraqi people” has asked them to. But which Iraqi people? Do they mean the new administration headed by the CIA’s Iyad Allawi? And why does all this sound strangely familiar?

In Iraq we don’t just read history at school – we carry it within ourselves. It’s no wonder, then, that we view what is happening in Iraq now of “liberation-mandate-nominal sovereignty” as a replay of what took place in the 1920s and afterwards.

Unravelling of a nation ‘liberated’ by the West

Wednesday, June 30th, 2004

by Kim Sengupta Independent (UK) full article

At the Nato summit in Istanbul the US and Britain squared up to France yet again. But this time the row was not over Iraq. They quarrelled over which troops should be sent to a country that had already been liberated; a country where power has already been handed over. Amid the wrangling, one man cut a forlorn figure. Hamid Karzai, the Afghan leader appointed with a nod of approval from the West, cares little whether it is a Nato response force or reserve troops that fly in. He simply needs help. “I would like you to please hurry. Come sooner than September, please.” September is when elections are due.

Tony Blair may have pledged that Afghanistan would not be abandoned, but after the Taliban was ousted, Washington and London’s focus shifted east to Iraq. Meanwhile, the toll of dead and maimed is rising. The infrastructure is non-existent, opium production is rocketing, warlords control large swathes of the country, and the Taliban are back. Afghanistan is unravelling piece by piece.

Attack Iran, US Chief Ordered British

Wednesday, June 30th, 2004

By Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent UK Telegraph Article

America’s military commander in Iraq ordered British troops to prepare a full-scale ground offensive against Iranian forces that had crossed the border and grabbed disputed territory, a senior officer has disclosed.

An attack would almost certainly have provoked open conflict with Iran. But the British chose instead to resolve the matter through diplomatic channels.

“If we had attacked the Iranian positions, all hell would have broken loose,” a defence source said yesterday.

“We would have had the Iranians to our front and the Iraqi insurgents picking us off at the rear.”

The incident was disclosed by a senior British officer at a conference in London last week and is reported in today’s edition of Defence Analysis. The identity of the officer is not given.

“Some Iranian border and observation posts were re-positioned over the border, broadly a kilometre into Iraq,” a Ministry of Defence spokesman said.

The incident began last July when Revolutionary Guards pushed about a kilometre into Iraq to the north and east of Basra in an apparent attempt to reoccupy territory which they claimed belonged to Iran.

Lt Gen Ricardo Sanchez then ordered the British to prepare to send in several thousand troops to attack the Revolutionary Guard positions.

The Revolutionary Guard Corps has 125,000 soldiers, making it 25 per cent larger than the entire British Army, and is equipped with 500 tanks, 600 armoured personnel carriers and 360 artillery weapons.

The incident is reminiscent of the exchange during the Kosovo conflict between the American general, Wesley Clark, the supreme allied commander Europe, and Gen Sir Mike Jackson, the British commander.

When Gen Clark told Gen Jackson to send British troops into Pristina airport to prevent Russian troops from taking control Gen Jackson refused. He was reported to have said: “I am not going to start World War Three for you.”

The Iran-Iraq incident lasted around a week and was resolved by a telephone conversation between Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, and Kamal Kharrazi, his Iranian counterpart, British officials said.

“It did look rather nasty at the time,” one official said. “But we were always confident it was a mistake and could be resolved by diplomatic means. We got in touch with Baghdad and said, ‘Don’t do anything silly; we are talking to the Iranians.’ “

While Mr Straw was trying to resolve the issue peacefully, British military commanders on the ground were calming their Iranian counterparts, the ministry said.

The Revolutionary Guard was believed to be behind the seizure of eight Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel last week after they strayed across the disputed border between Iraq and Iran.

The eight men, who were delivering patrol boats to the Iraqi riverine patrol service, were released – but not before they were paraded blindfolded on Iranian television.

It’s All a Part of the Marvelous Tapestry…

Wednesday, June 30th, 2004

New York Times Article:Iraq’s New Leaders Ease Purge of Baathists

The Iraqi Baath party became dominated by Saddam’s fellow Sunni Muslims and oversaw oppression of the Shi’ite majority, including the bloody suppression of an uprising in 1991.

Shi’ite leaders warned of unrest if senior Baathists returned: “The people in central and southern Iraq will be furious. They will revolt,” said Abdul Karim al-Mohammadani, a southern tribal leader on the commission.

New York Times Article:President Bush Urges All Autocrats to Yield Now to Democracy

In his address, delivered at Galatasaray University, President Bush returned to a familiar theme — the need to confront terrorism by forcefully encouraging Muslim nations to modernize.

He sought to link the invasion of Iraq to a strategy aimed at promoting democracy in what he called the “broader Middle East,” an area that aides said might stretch from North Africa to the Indian subcontinent.

New York Times Article:Iraq Mortar Attack Injures 11 US Troops

Al-Jazeera reported that the group responsible for beheading two other foreign hostages had announced it was freeing the three Turks.

The abduction of the Turks was claimed by Jordanian terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose followers killed American Nicholas Berg last month and South Korean Kim Sun-Il last week.

New York Times Article:Abducted Marine Reportedly Deserted

But several hostages have been executed. The latest victim appears to be Specialist Keith Matthew Maupin, an American soldier who vanished after an ambush on his convoy near Baghdad on April 9.

On Monday, Al Jazeera, which has been first to broadcast a number of videos showing the killing of Americans, broadcast a video it said ended with kidnappers shooting Specialist Maupin in the head. Army officials said they could not confirm that he had been killed.

Intelligence officials said it is not clear if the kidnappings are coordinated, although they suspect that some of the captors are at least loosely tied to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant thought to be behind much of the mayhem in Iraq.

Now Here’s a Spooky Article from the Council on Foreign Relations-‘Clash of Civilizations’ anyone?

Monday, June 28th, 2004

A Global Power Shift in the Making
By JAMES F. HOGE, JR. full article

Published: June 24, 2004
From the July/August 2004 issue of Foreign Affairs.

James F. Hoge, Jr. is Editor of Foreign Affairs. This article is adapted from a lecture given in April at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C.

The transfer of power from West to East is gathering pace and soon will dramatically change the context for dealing with international challenges — as well as the challenges themselves. Many in the West are already aware of Asia’s growing strength. This awareness, however, has not yet been translated into preparedness. And therein lies a danger: that Western countries will repeat their past mistakes.

Major shifts of power between states, not to mention regions, occur infrequently and are rarely peaceful. In the early twentieth century, the imperial order and the aspiring states of Germany and Japan failed to adjust to each other. The conflict that resulted devastated large parts of the globe. Today, the transformation of the international system will be even bigger and will require the assimilation of markedly different political and cultural traditions. This time, the populous states of Asia are the aspirants seeking to play a greater role. Like Japan and Germany back then, these rising powers are nationalistic, seek redress of past grievances, and want to claim their place in the sun. Asia’s growing economic power is translating into greater political and military power, thus increasing the potential damage of conflicts. Within the region, the flash points for hostilities — Taiwan, the Korean Peninsula, and divided Kashmir — have defied peaceful resolution. Any of them could explode into large-scale warfare that would make the current Middle East confrontations seem like police operations. In short, the stakes in Asia are huge and will challenge

…Militarily, the United States is hedging its bets with the most extensive realignment of U.S. power in half a century. Part of this realignment is the opening of a second front in Asia. No longer is the United States poised with several large, toehold bases on the Pacific rim of the Asian continent; today, it has made significant moves into the heart of Asia itself, building a network of smaller, jumping-off bases in Central Asia. The ostensible rationale for these bases is the war on terrorism. But Chinese analysts suspect that the unannounced intention behind these new U.S. positions, particularly when coupled with Washington’s newly intensified military cooperation with India, is the soft containment of China.

For its part, China is modernizing its military forces, both to improve its ability to win a conflict over Taiwan and to deter U.S. aggression. Chinese military doctrine now focuses on countering U.S. high-tech capabilities — information networks, stealth aircraft, cruise missiles, and precision-guided bombs.

…engagement must be the order of the day, even though some Bush officials remain convinced that the United States and China will ultimately end up rivals. For them, the strategic reality is one of incompatible vital interests.

full article

In Anger, Ordinary Iraqis Are Joining the Insurgency

Monday, June 28th, 2004

by Edward Wong
new york times: full article

BAQUBA, Iraq, June 27 — At a teahouse in this palm-lined city, jobless men sit on wooden benches talking about killing American soldiers.

“Tell us one benefit they’ve given us since they’ve come here,” Falah, a 23-year-old man in a shabby checkered shirt, said to an Iraqi reporter.

He boasted about driving a friend to stage attacks on American patrols. The two wait in a farm field by the main road. When the Humvees roll by, his friend fires a rocket-propelled grenade, Falah said. The two hit the ground. The soldiers open fire, but the Iraqis lie still until the patrol leaves.

“I really didn’t ask my friend whether they have a boss or not and whether they organize their work or not,” he said. “I really don’t care as long as I can take part and drive the Americans out of our country. We are all resistance.”

Terrorism Debate Enrages Iraqi Victims

Sunday, June 27th, 2004

By Michael Georgy Reuters: full article
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Some came on crutches. Others carried pictures of homes or vehicles shattered by explosions.

But none of the hundreds of Iraqis who gathered at a convention center Sunday for a conference for “victims of terrorism” believe they will win compensation after the U.S. occupation formally ends Wednesday.

“My son was killed by a bombing in Kerbala. I have tried to get compensation but nothing has worked. We are just hearing more talk today,” said Jamila Khilkhaz, 55.

…A packed conference sponsored by the independent Legal Rights Council quickly descended into anger as the group told victims that not everyone would be eligible for compensation.

Many left early, missing a brief appearance by interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who promised his government would give the issue “great importance.”

Defining terrorism is tricky in a country where the laws of conflict mean nothing to people who have lost their relatives, or legs or homes to mortars, bullets or bombs.

Legal Rights Group left Iraqis with the impression they could only seek compensation if wounded by terrorists.

   …Allawi declined to say whether he shared the view that those hit by American weapons should also be regarded as victims of terrorism and compensated, saying he had to wait for the findings of the conference before commenting.

Now wait a minute. Just who is it that ‘laws of conflict mean nothing to’?? Since the US invasion of Iraq is every bit as illegal as Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, where are the UN sanctions and reparations? I know. Silly question.

Beheadings Fuel Fresh Backlash Against US Muslims

Sunday, June 27th, 2004

Bush baby learned from daddy’s October Surprise that there’s nothing like hostages, in this case beheaded ones, abroad to win an election at home. article
EAGLESWOOD TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (AP) — The recent beheadings of two Americans in the Middle East have added fuel to the angry backlash against Arab-Americans and Muslims that began after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The murders of Paul Johnson and Nicholas Berg triggered hate mail, verbal attacks and anti-Muslim signs. Muslims received death threats and their mosques were vandalized.

“Since 9/11, every time there is an incident overseas attributed to Muslims or Arabs, we go on orange alert ourselves,” said immigration lawyer Sohail Mohammed.

“There are individuals here who are off the wall, who think that every woman who wears a hijab or every man named Mohammed is out to blow things up.”

Cornel West on Emmit Till and 9-11

Saturday, June 26th, 2004

democracy now

For me, one of the great moments of American culture actually occurred in August of 1955. Very few people want to talk about it. 1955, of course, Emmit Till was murdered by fellow citizens, a victim of U.S. Terrorism. The body was found in the Yazoo river under the Tallahatchie bridge, but his body was brought back to Chicago, and the first major Civil Rights demonstration took place. 125,000 fellow citizens walked by to take a look at Emmit Till. His mother left the coffin open so they could see. It was at Pilgrim Baptist Church, led by the Reverend Julius Caesar Austin. He introduced Mamie Till, Mobely. She walked to the lectern. She looked over at her baby whose head was five times the size of his normal head. Then she looked in the eyes of America as well as the folk at south side Chicago, she said what — I don’t have a minute to hate, I’m going to pursue justice for the rest of my life. That’s a level of spiritual maturity and moral maturity that does not give up on the Socratic attempt to interrogate the mendacity and hypocrisy of American life, but is rooted in something deep. It’s rooted in an attempt to keep track of the humanity of the very people who have dehumanized you.

Use that as a standard of responding to terrorism in light of the last two-and-a-half years. My, gosh. How fascinating. Here is Mamie Mobely, speaking on her behalf and speaking for the best of tradition, Martin King’s in the background. Fanny Lou Hamer’s voice is there A. Phillip Randolph’s voice was there. And many nameless and anonymous black leaders who knew they had to deal with a situation in which they were unsafe, unprotected, subject to random violence, and hated for who they were. That’s what it meant to be a nigger. Unsafe, unprotected, subject to unjustified violence and hated. Now, after September 11, all Americans feel unsafe, unprotected, subject to random violence, and hated. You say, hmm, now that the whole nation has been ‘niggerized,’ let’s see what the response is going to be… interesting.

I come from a tradition that says in the face of terrorism, it’s justice, not sweet revenge. Not short term retaliation. It’s justice. Hunt them down if they have committed a crime, yes. Demonize, no. And even within the black tradition, if there are black folk who demonize, they are criticized based on that tradition in light of their not aspiring to the standards of Emmit Till’s mother. And if that’s the case, that certainly the case for George Bush and other leaders. Crucial, indispensable, bringing together the best of the legacy of Athens, and the best of the legacy of Jerusalem, but in the new world context in which legacies of slavery, Jim and Jane Crow, police brutality, lynching, discrimination, red-lining in blank loans, on and on and on, always connecting one’s vision about one’s own freedom to the plight and predicament of others. Sisters of all colors, gay brothers, lesbians sisters, physically challenged, indigenous brothers and sisters, so that they all constitute overlapping and intertwining traditions of struggle. But knowing that the courage that they critically — and the courage to love I think we need to talk publicly about the courage to love. That’s what I love about the best of the Black Freedom Movement.

Congress Overwhelmingly Endorses Ariel Sharon’s Annexation Plans

Saturday, June 26th, 2004

by Stephen Zunes article
On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives, in an overwhelming bipartisan vote, endorsed right-wing Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon’s efforts to colonize and annex large sections of the Palestinian West Bank, seized by Israel in the June 1967 war.

This was not just another “pro-Israel” (or, more accurately, “pro-Israeli right”) resolution, but an effective renunciation of the post-World War II international system based upon the premise of the illegitimacy of the expansion of a country’s territory by military force.

House Concurrent Resolution 460, sponsored by right-wing Republican leader Tom Delay, “strongly endorses” the letter sent by President George W. Bush to the Israeli prime minister in April supporting his so-called “disengagement” plan. This unilateral initiative calls for withdrawing the illegal Israeli settlements from the occupied Gaza Strip, but — far more significantly — would incorporate virtually all of the illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank into Israel, leaving the Palestinians with a series of non-contiguous and economically unviable cantons, each surrounded by Israeli territory, collectively constituting barely 10% of historic Palestine. (Even in the case of the Gaza Strip, Sharon’s plan would allow Israel to control the borders, the ports, and the airspace, as well as having the right to conduct military operations inside Palestinian areas at will.)

The vote was 407 in favor of the resolution and only 9 opposed.