Saturday, April 14, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- April 14th edition

April 14, 2006: Iraqi merchants watch a soldier from the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team as he patrols Mosul.

April 14, 2002:

Gulf war veterans demand inquiry

Military veterans have written to the prime minister demanding a public inquiry into the health effects of serving in the Gulf War.
Many of those who served in the Gulf conflict in 1991, say they have suffered a range of disorders, some claiming their children suffered birth defects.

They believe the government has ignored their plight and refused to recognise the existence of "Gulf War illness".

Read the rest at the BBC

April 14, 2003:

Syria said to be providing haven for Iraqi leaders

WASHINGTON — At least one and perhaps more senior officials of Saddam Hussein's toppled regime have fled into Syria, U.S. officials charged Monday, prompting the Bush administration to threaten economic sanctions against Iraq's most friendly neighbor.

Intensifying a drumbeat of tough remarks toward Syria as the war in Iraq winds down, administration officials also renewed charges that Syria possesses chemical weapons and criticized its sponsorship of terrorist groups, including Hezbollah and Hamas, which oppose peace with Israel.

"Syria is indeed a rogue nation," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. "We do know for certain that Iraqi officials have crossed the border and gone into Syria. And it's very important for Syria not to harbor those officials."

Read the rest at USA Today

April 14, 2004:

20,000 soldiers' Iraq duty to be extended 90-120 days

The Pentagon will announce as early as Thursday a plan to keep about 20,000 Army troops in Iraq for 90 to 120 days longer than scheduled to help combat rising violence, Pentagon officials said Wednesday.
The Army forces, primarily from the 1st Armored Division and the 2nd Armored Calvary Regiment, had been scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of May after spending a year in the region. The plan to delay their departure would break a pledge given to all troops when they deployed to Iraq last year that they would not be there longer than 12 months.

Notification of families began Wednesday, officials said.

There are now about 135,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, the highest number since President Bush declared major combat over on May 1. About 20,000 of those are soldiers who had been scheduled to leave Iraq over the next two months.

Read the rest at USA Today

April 14, 2005:

London Ricin Finding Called a False Positive

The claim that traces of the deadly poison ricin had been found in the London apartment of alleged al Qaeda operatives, first broadcast around the world in early January 2003, has been proved wrong, a senior British official said yesterday...

Discovery that the initial ricin finding was a "false positive" was made "well before the outbreak of the war in Iraq," on March 19, 2003, Smith said.

Within days of the apartment raid, British authorities spoke of concerns about possible ricin attacks. Public speculation followed, both there and in the United States, about links between the arrested men and Abu Musab Zarqawi, whom U.S. intelligence had tried to identify as linked to al Qaeda, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and a camp in northern Iraq where ricin was made.

Vice President Cheney, speaking of Hussein and his terrorist allies, told a Chamber of Commerce audience on Jan. 10, "The gravity of the threat we face was underscored in recent days when British police arrested . . . suspected terrorists in London and discovered a small quantity of ricin, one of the world's deadliest poisons."

A week later at the White House, then-press secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters, "When you read about people in London being arrested for possession of ricin, there clearly remain people in the world who want to inflict as much harm as they can on the Western world and on others."

In his Feb. 5 speech to the U.N. Security Council, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell put up a slide that linked a "U.K. poison cell" to Zarqawi.

After U.S. troops seized the northern Iraq camp linked to Zarqawi, Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN's "Late Edition" on March 30: "We think that's probably where the ricin that was found in London came [from]. . . . At least the operatives and maybe some of the formulas came from this site."

Read the rest at the Washington Post

April 14, 2006:

U.S. criticizes Iraq's leave-at-will soldier policy

ABU GHRAIB, IRAQ - U.S. and Iraqi commanders are increasingly critical of a policy that lets Iraqi soldiers leave their units virtually at will — essentially deserting with no punishment. They blame the lax rule for draining the Iraqi ranks to confront the insurgency — in some cases by 30 percent or even half.

Iraqi officials, however, say they have no choice but to allow the policy, or they may gain virtually no volunteers.

Most armies threaten imprisonment or fines for soldiers who abruptly leave their units, but the Iraqi army does not require its soldiers to sign contracts. That means they can treat enlistments as temporary jobs. Soldiers can even pick up their belongings and leave during missions — and often do without facing punishment.

In the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Division that oversees part of this district just west of Baghdad — also the site of the notorious prison — U.S. trainers said only about 70 percent of Iraqis were present, attributing many of the 300 truant soldiers to the policy.

The commander said a shortage of troops is the unit's biggest problem — and pinned the blame on both the policy and unmotivated soldiers.

"Under the military agreement, they can leave anytime," said Col. Alaa Kata al-Kafage, while his troops waited for a roadside bomb to be detonated. "After (soldiers) get paid and save a little bit of money, they leave."

Read the rest at the Houston Chronicle