Saturday, May 26, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- May 26th edition

May 26, 2006: Georgian soldiers commemorate Georgian Independence Day in Baghdad's Green Zone

May 26, 2002:

Don't go soft on Saddam, Bush told

President George W Bush last night was under fierce pressure from Republican hawks not to back down from the use of force to remove Saddam Hussein from power, after military commanders gave warning of the grave risks of attacking Iraq.

Conservative critics cautioned Mr Bush that the administration's credibility was on the line and urged him against reverting to President Clinton's policy of "containment" of Saddam.

"Surely the President will step in and save the day," urged William Kristol, the editor of the influential Weekly Standard newspaper. "His presidency is on the line. As is the credibility of the United States and the whole security structure . . . of the post 9/11 world."

Read the rest at the Telegraph

May 26, 2003:

US accused of deserting diplomatic path in Iraq

France concluded in early January that the US had abandoned the diplomatic path to disarm Iraq via the United Nations and was already determined to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

The conclusion, confirmed to the FT by French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin, lay at the heart of the confrontation between the US-led coalition and the anti-war camp championed by France, Germany and Russia. "I realised then that those who wanted to make war had a free hand," Mr de Villepin said.

The clash, which shook transatlantic relations and caused a major split within Europe over allegiance to Washington, is examined in depth in an FT report beginning on Tuesday.

Bush administration officials indicate that the French assessment was justified.

A senior aide to President George W. Bush says the critical "internal moment" in the White House came in the second week of December, when the president was briefed on Iraq's weapons declaration. "It was not even a credible document," the White House official said.

The president was told that the Iraqi regime appeared to have made a decision not to cooperate with the UN process of disarmament. "This was more of the same. It was checkmate."

"A tinpot dictator was mocking the president. It provoked a sense of anger inside the White House. After that point, there was no prospect of a diplomatic solution," said one person who worked closely with the National Security Council during the days after the declaration was delivered on December 8.

Read the rest at Financial Times

May 26, 2004:

Shiite Cleric: Fighting in Iraq's South Making U.S. Enemies

A senior Shiite cleric warned Monday that clashes between U.S. troops and the Shiite militia of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr (search) could create enemies for America -- even after U.S. troops leave Iraq.

"This war has planted a lasting strife in our country," Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Taqi al-Modaresi told The Associated Press as he sat cross-legged in a bare room.

"Even if the Americans withdraw from Iraq, the Shiites have patience and perseverance," al-Modaresi said, implying that angry relatives would likely hold grudges against the Americans for many years.

Al-Modaresi, who has tried to mediate between the U.S.-run coalition and al-Sadr, said he feared those who suffered at the hands of the Americans during the nearly 2-month-long uprising might try to "harm American and Western interests."

Al-Modaresi, one of Iraq's five Shiite grand ayatollahs, spoke as this Shiite holy city 50 miles south of Baghdad was recovering from weeks of fighting, which ended here after al-Sadr's militiamen repositioned from the center of town.

However, clashes persist elsewhere, especially around the holy city of Najaf, 50 miles to the south, and its twin city Kufa, an al-Sadr stronghold that U.S. forces entered early Sunday, killing about 34 militiamen.

U.S. officials insist they will not negotiate directly with al-Sadr, whom they describe as a thug. The Americans demand that al-Sadr, the son of a grand ayatollah murdered by suspected Saddam Hussein's agents, disband his "illegal" militia.

Al-Sadr launched his uprising after the U.S.-run coalition closed his newspaper, arrested a key aide and announced a warrant charging al-Sadr in the April 2003 assassination of a moderate cleric.

Read the rest at Fox News

May 26, 2005:

Iraq unveils unprecedented security offensive

The Iraqi government on Thursday promised a massive military operation to seal off Baghdad and root out the insurgents who have killed more than 600 people since the newly-elected government took power a month ago.

Bayan Jabr, interior minister, who heads Iraq's police forces, said on Thursday that an impenetrable cordon of 40,000 police and soldiers would make movement in or out of Baghdad impossible for several days next week.

“Our goal is to change the posture of the government from defence to attack,” he said.

The clampdown marks the most determined effort by Iraq's new government to assert its control after a surge of violence eroded hopes that the political progress would help defeat the insurgency.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Mr Jabr, Saddoun al-Duleimi, the defence minister, said the government means to enforce the law not only against killers, but also against “anyone who commands them or gives them shelter.”

Read the rest at Financial Times

May 26, 2006:

Iraq Backs Iran On Nuclear Goal

BAGHDAD, May 26 -- Iraq's foreign minister said Friday that Iran had the right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful uses but that he hoped for a diplomatic solution to a crisis that has strained Iran's relations with the United States.

"We think there is a principle, which is that the Islamic Republic of Iran and other countries have the right to possess nuclear technology if it is for peaceful purposes," Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi foreign minister, said at a televised news conference in Baghdad with his visiting Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki.

At the same news conference, Mottaki said Iran had changed its stance on holding direct talks with the United States on the Iraq situation. "The American side tried to use this decision as propaganda, and they raised some other issues," he said. "They tried to create a negative atmosphere, and that's why the decision which was taken is suspended for the time being."

While trying to assuage fears that the United States and Iran are headed for war, Mottaki renewed Iranian vows that force would be met with force.

"The risk of a confrontation is minimal," Mottaki said, "but in the event that Americans attack Iran from anywhere, Iran will respond by attacking them in the place that we were attacked from."

Read the rest at the Washington Post