Friday, April 20, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- April 20th edition

April 20, 2005: Giovanni Stella with the Italian Air Force stationed at Tallil, Iraq, jumps through the Ali Air Base/Boston Marathon finish line as he and three fellow countrymen came in first place in the team event with a time of 2 hours, 42 minutes.

April 20, 2002:

Blair dossier on Iraq is delayed indefinitely

The long-awaited dossier Tony Blair has promised would justify his support for a US-led military offensive on Iraq is being delayed indefinitely by an unresolved dispute at the highest levels of government.

Number 10 is thought to have encountered resistance to the plan among senior Whitehall officials, some ministers, and the secret intelligence service MI6.

Intelligence officials believe Downing Street and sectors of the Foreign Office acted precipitately by letting it be known that such a dossier was in the pipeline before Easter and before a final draft had been fully cleared through the internal Whitehall machinery.

Senior defence sources said there were debates within government on how much could be included in such a document without revealing sensitive information or compromising intelligence sources.

Read the rest at Financial Times

April 20, 2003:

U.S. may keep bases for military in Iraq

The United States is planning a long-term military relationship with the emerging government of Iraq, one that would grant the Pentagon access to military bases and project U.S. influence into the heart of the unsettled region, senior Bush administration officials say.

U.S. military officials, in interviews last week, spoke of maintaining perhaps four bases in Iraq that could be used in the future: one at the international airport just outside Baghdad; another at Talil, near Nasiriya in the south; the third at an isolated airstrip called H-1 in the western desert, along the old oil pipeline that runs to Jordan; and the last at the Bashur air field in the Kurdish north.

The Americans are already using these bases to support continuing operations against the remnants of the old government, to deliver supplies and relief aid, and for reconnaissance patrols. But as the invasion force withdraws in the months ahead, turning over control to a new Iraqi government, Pentagon officials expect to gain access to the bases in the event of some future crisis.

Read the rest at the San Francisco Chronicle

April 20, 2004:

The problem with Iraq: Is it faulty US perception?

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. – President Bush insists that the current violence in Iraq is the work of "a few people" and "violent groups." If this is the situation, it should be relatively easy to control, and US actions should have broad Iraqi support. Neither appears to be the case.

Members of Iraq's Governing Council have objected to the assault on Fallujah and have urged talks. Many in the new Iraqi Army and police refuse to confront fellow Iraqis. The Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a significant Shiite Muslim leader, is taking a soft line toward rival cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Is the US once more acting abroad on the basis of perceptions less related to realities on the ground than to American objectives and hopes?

The US attacks on Fallujah, in reprisal for the death and mutilation of the four civilian contractors, are understandable in an American context. Those responsible must be brought to justice; failure to react would have been seen as weakness. Although the US insists that it is applying force in a discriminating way, casualties among noncombatants cannot be avoided. In a land of tribes and extended families, each Iraqi killed increases the numbers who hate the US.

The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) closed Mr. Sadr's newspaper, has threatened his arrest, and now confronts his Mehdi army militia. The working assumption of the CPA has been that Sadr is not broadly popular and represents only a fringe of majority Shiites. If Sadr is of such marginal importance, why did the authority take the highly risky step of closing his newspaper? Sadr is Iraqi - as is his militia - and whatever the views of other Iraqis may be, it is difficult for them openly to oppose fellow countrymen challenging an occupying power.

The coalition is talking tough: Sadr and his fighters are "thugs." They may be, but when only Americans are using such terms and even Sadr's Iraqi enemies are silent, the words have little credibility.

Language employed in such a situation can be tricky. The Bush administration learned early on not to use the term "crusade." But is President Bush aware, in his constant reference to "freedom," that for many Iraqis, "freedom" may not refer to individual liberties but to freedom from the occupying power? And has he considered how most Iraqis react to reports that the US is planning 14 "enduring bases" in Iraq?

Read the rest at the Christian Science Monitor

April 20, 2005:

Iraq Will Establish Unique Ties With Iran: Iraqi Ambassador

TEHRAN (MNA) -- Iraq's ambassador to Tehran, Mohammad Majid al-Sheikh, said on Wednesday that the government of the Iraqi prime minister designate Ibrahim Jaafari will try to establish a unique relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In an interview with the Mehr News Agency, al-Sheikh said that the Islamic Republic of Iran has always been at the side of the Iraqi nation and that the relations between the two nations are on the rise.

"We seek amicable relationship with all our neighbors" without interfering in each other's internal affairs, the ambassador noted. "We want all neighbors to help us in reconstructing a new Iraq so that a unified Iraq will take shape and live in peace and complete security with regional countries."

The Iraqi envoy said that there are deep cultural, historical, religious, and social ties between the Iranian and Iraqi nations and the development of relations between the two states is a must.

The Iraqi embassy is ready to arrange for the visit of Iranian pilgrims to the holy shrines in Iraq, he said, adding that the Iraqi people are eager to see the Iranian pilgrims in their country.

Read the rest at AINA

April 20, 2006:

Unforeseen Spending on Materiel Pumps Up Iraq War Bill

With the expected passage this spring of the largest emergency spending bill in history, annual war expenditures in Iraq will have nearly doubled since the U.S. invasion, as the military confronts the rapidly escalating cost of repairing, rebuilding and replacing equipment chewed up by three years of combat.

The cost of the war in U.S. fatalities has declined this year, but the cost in treasure continues to rise, from $48 billion in 2003 to $59 billion in 2004 to $81 billion in 2005 to an anticipated $94 billion in 2006, according to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. The U.S. government is now spending nearly $10 billion a month in Iraq and Afghanistan, up from $8.2 billion a year ago, a new Congressional Research Service report found.

Annual war costs in Iraq are easily outpacing the $61 billion a year that the United States spent in Vietnam between 1964 and 1972, in today's dollars. The invasion's "shock and awe" of high-tech laser-guided bombs, cruise missiles and stealth aircraft has long faded, but the costs of even those early months are just coming into view as the military confronts equipment repair and rebuilding costs it has avoided and procurement costs it never expected.

Read the rest at the Washington Post