Friday, March 23, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- March 23rd edition

March 23, 2003: Iraqi soldiers search for what they thought was a downed American pilot along the banks of the Tigris River. No pilot was found, and the U.S. denied that any aviator had been lost over Baghdad.

March 23, 2002:

Britain points up fears of nuclear threat from Iraq

Britain is distancing itself from US assertions of links between Iraq and al-Qaeda, and justifying a tougher policy towards Baghdad over its suspected pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.

British diplomats said yesterday that the government would soon release information to support its concerns about Iraq's alleged programmes. The move would probably coincide with Tony Blair's US visit next month.

Downing Street advisers said there was no evidence of direct links between al-Qaeda and Iraq. But they agreed with statements by Dick Cheney, US vice-president, that there was the potential for a dangerous marriage between countries producing these weapons and terrorist groups.

Read the rest at the Financial Times

March 23, 2003:

U.S. finds suspected Iraq chemical plant

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. forces on Sunday pressed to find the first cache of Saddam Hussein's chemical and biological weapons, seizing a suspected chemical factory in southern Iraq and checking other sites based on leads from captured Iraqis and documents.

Officials cautioned it was premature to conclude any forbidden weapons had been located.

Coalition military leaders were keenly interested in a site they took control of in Najaf, south of Baghdad, and were interviewing two captured Iraqi generals for information about Saddam Hussein's suspected biological and chemical weapons.

Read the rest at USA Today

March 23, 2004:

Mosque attacks fuel fears of Iraq civil war

BAGHDAD - Sheik Nadhim Khalaf, a Sunni Muslim cleric, narrowly escaped when four men opened fire on his car, gunning down his son and brother-in-law. But he says he has ordered his followers not to take revenge, or even to look too hard for the killers, because he fears a civil war.

A series of attacks on Sunni and Shi'ite neighborhood mosques and religious figures this month has killed about a dozen people and prompted clerics of the two Muslim sects to publicly proclaim their solidarity.

Read the rest at the Boston Globe

March 23, 2005:

U.K. Troops May Stay in Iraq Until at Least 2006, Panel Says

March 24 (Bloomberg) -- British troops will probably have to stay in Iraq until at least 2006 because leaders of the U.S.-led military coalition failed to anticipate the insurgency that followed the 2003 invasion and the amount of reconstruction needed, the U.K. House of Commons Defense Committee said.

Military leaders didn't make adequate provision for management of the rebuilding program after the handover of power to the interim Iraqi government in June, the committee said in a report for the Ministry of Defence. As a result, British troops, based in southern Iraq, have had to take on jobs that should be done by civilians, the panel said without giving specifics...

The U.K. has an 8,100-strong force in Iraq, the Defense Ministry said. This is the second biggest force behind the U.S. which has 150,000 servicemen, making up most of the total of 175,000 coalition forces.

Read the rest at Bloomberg

March 23, 2006:

Rumsfeld refuses to be pinned down on likely time frame for U.S. troop withdrawal

WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld declined to predict on Thursday when U.S. forces would be out of Iraq, a decision President Bush has said would be up to a future U.S. president and a future Iraqi government. "I've avoided predicting the timing," Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon...

"The level of the forces in Iraq will depend on conditions on the ground and the recommendations of the commanders," Rumsfeld said. He added that he had not yet received a recommendation from Gen. George Casey, the top commander in Iraq, on whether or when to reduce the size of the force.

He said he still anticipated a drawdown of U.S. troops this year "because we think the government will be formed, it will meet with reasonable acceptance," and Iraqi security forces will perform well.

There are now about 133,000 American troops in Iraq. Military officials have expressed hope they can reduce the number below 100,000 by year's end.

Read the rest at the San Diego Tribune