Saturday, April 07, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- April 7th edition

April 7, 2004: Iraqi soldiers guard the scene after three suicide bombers detonated their explosives a crowded Shiite mosque in Baghdad as worshippers were leaving Friday prayers, killing at least 71 people and wounding 140.

April 7, 2002:

Middle East turmoil shakes up U.S. plans for Iraq

WASHINGTON — The escalating Israeli-Palestinian conflict has complicated U.S. military planning for the overthrow of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

A source close to the administration says anti-Saddam military planning is stalled as Secretary of State Colin Powell heads a peace mission to the Middle East.

U.S. officials say the Arab-Israeli crisis took significant time away from discussion of Iraq during British Prime Minister Tony Blair's visit to President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, this weekend. Both governments had billed Iraq as the main topic.

Read the rest at USA Today

April 7, 2003:

Legitimacy in Iraq will be everything

US tanks have launched a drive into Baghdad, while two British battle groups have pushed into Basra. In Iraq's capital and its second city the end could be in sight. With civilian casualties mounting, and chaos spreading as Saddam Hussein's regime dissolves, it is to be hoped that this conflict ends quickly.

But winning the war was always going to be easier than winning the peace. When George W. Bush and Tony Blair meet in Belfast today, it is also to be hoped they have a realistic view of just how difficult it is going to be to stabilise postwar Iraq and set it on a course towards freedom. For they will get only one chance to get the transition right and there is still little clarity on how to do so. The watchword should be legitimacy - something this invasion will have to earn, not only in Iraq and in Arab and Islamic countries but also in the world at large.

Read the rest at the Financial Times

April 7, 2004:

Violence blamed on US decision to disband Iraq army

The seeds of the growing violence in Iraq were sown when the US decided to disband the Iraqi army in direct opposition to British policy, according to senior military and intelligence sources.

Just before the war a year ago, Britain's top military officer at the time, Admiral Sir Michael [now Lord] Boyce, issued a directive to his commanders in the field to negotiate with senior Iraqi officers, the Guardian has learned. The idea was for senior officers in the Iraqi army and Republican Guard to help maintain law and order under the supervision of senior British officers.

"The last thing we wanted was to take thousands of prisoners of war," said a source.

British sources described the move to disband the Iraqi army as a huge error.

The decision was taken by Donald Rumsfeld, the American defence secretary, under pressure from rightwing "neo-cons" in the Bush administration, they say.

It is clear that British policy-makers are still seething at the American decision.

Read the rest at the Guardian

April 7, 2005:

Talabani proposes amnesty for Iraqi insurgents

The new president of Iraq, Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani, said Sunday the new Iraqi government should extend amnesty to Iraqi insurgents who had "killed combatants, including possibly US and Iraqi troops." (Iraqi insurgents are primarily supporters of the previous regime, or Iraqi citizens opposed to US "occupation" of Iraq.) The Washington Post reports that Mr. Talabani said, however, that Al Qaeda members and other foreign fighters should not be included in any general amnesty.

'There are two kinds of killing: In battle or in action, this could be covered by the amnesty. Those who are involved in killing innocent people, detonation of car bombs, killing people in mosques and in churches, these would not be covered by the amnesty.'

Talabani did not specificy if his proposal would include those who had killed US troops, but he did call for the amnesty to cover fighters loyal to radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. He also did not offer any specifics on an amnesty.

Read the rest at the Christian Science Monitor

April 7, 2006:

US admits to talks with Iraqi insurgents

The US ambassador in Iraq today admitted that US officials had held meetings with some insurgent groups, and claimed the tactic had led to a decline in attacks.
Zalmay Khalilzad, who was appointed US ambassador last June, would not specify which groups had been engaged in the talks.

But he ruled out any discussions with Saddamists or terrorists seeking a "war on civilisation", taken to mean Ba'ath loyalists or extremists linked to al-Qaida.

"We are talking to people who are willing to accept this new Iraq, to lay down their arms, to cooperate in the fight against terrorists," Mr Khalilzad told the BBC.

He said the discussions appeared to be bearing fruit. "The number of attacks on the coalition is down. I think last month was the second lowest month of attacks against the coalition."

Read the rest at the Guardian