Thursday, August 02, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- August 2nd edition

August 2, 2006: A Soldier from the 101st Airborne Division posts a warning notice to insurgents in Diyala province.

August 2, 2002:

Post-Saddam Iraq will cost you, US warned

The fall of Saddam Hussein could trigger Iraq's collapse into anarchy unless the US is prepared to follow any military campaign with a commitment to democracy, tens of thousands of peacekeeping troops, and substantial economic support, Congress was told yesterday.

Showing further evidence of deep misgivings about the outcome of a US invasion, King Abdullah of Jordan said that even Tony Blair, Mr Bush's only significant supporter for a campaign against President Saddam, was uneasy about the venture.

"Blair has tremendous concerns about how this would unravel," he told the Washington Post.

In the second day of Senate hearings described as the beginning of a national dialogue on whether and how to go to war against President Saddam, Iraqis and US experts on Iraq offered a stark assessment of what might happen the day after the Iraqi dictator's fall.

They were unanimous in warning that if the administration wanted to prevent Iraq falling apart, it would have to do more than it had done in Afghanistan after the Taliban's collapse.

Several expert witnesses told the Senate foreign relations committee that it was unlikely that post-Saddam Iraq would divide into three defined mini-states: a Kurdish north, a Shi'ite south and a Sunni-dominated centre. Internal divisions in the ethnic and religious groups and a general sense of Iraqi nationhood would prevent such a neat split.

Rend Rahim Francke, director of the Iraq Foundation, which favours democracy, said: "The system of law and order will break down, endangering public safety and putting people at risk of personal reprisals.

"There will be no police force, no justice system, no civil service and no accountability. In this confusion, people will be inclined to take justice into their own hands."

Phebe Marr, a former professor at the National Defence University,said: "Iraq could slip into the category of a failed state, unable to maintain control over its territory and its borders."

Read the rest at the Guardian

August 2, 2003:

U.S. Cool To New U.N.Vote

Despite increasing pressure to "internationalize" the postwar reconstruction of Iraq, the Bush administration is not actively pursuing a new U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing broader international participation out of concern that greater U.N. involvement could reduce U.S. control.

Five months after the U.N. Security Council refused to endorse the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration and key U.N. members remain at odds over a formula that would relieve the military and financial burdens the United States is bearing almost alone.

Publicly, senior administration officials say that Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is "exploring" the possibility of a second U.N. resolution to replace or amend Resolution 1483, passed in late May, which effectively granted the United States control over Iraq's economy and its political process until an internationally recognized government takes power in Baghdad.

"The notion that we are somehow philosophically or ideologically opposed to some type of new U.N. resolution is not accurate," Douglas J. Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy, said yesterday.

But when pressed on the issue, administration officials acknowledge that they have concerns about any resolution that would diminish the authority enjoyed by L. Paul Bremer, the chief civilian reconstruction official, and U.S. military commanders to manage the postwar situation in Iraq.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz on Tuesday told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that while the administration "would welcome any resolution that would make it easier for countries to contribute peacekeeping troops," he would be "very concerned" about one that would "put limitations on what Ambassador Bremer and our people can do in Iraq."

Read the rest at the Washington Post

August 2, 2004:

Fighting flares around Sadr home

A woman was killed in clashes in Najaf after US forces surrounded the home of rebel Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr.

US armoured vehicles cordoned off the Zahra neighbourhood, reports said. The sounds of heavy gunfire, mortar shelling and grenade blasts followed.

Witnesses told AP news agency Mr Sadr was in the house at the time. US forces are now said to have withdrawn.

Mr Sadr led uprisings against coalition forces in several cities in April before a truce was agreed.

Over the last few weeks, Mr Sadr's fiery rhetoric against the US presence had softened, and he had pledged to lead a peaceful campaign of resistance.

The interim government of Iyad Allawi has also made some conciliatory moves towards Mr Sadr, who is thought to command significant sympathy among the Shia community.

The fighting in Najaf on Monday afternoon appears to have started when US troops backed by Iraqi security forces approached Mr Sadr's house - surrounded by members of his militia, the Mehdi Army.

Smoke and loud explosions were heard for about one hour.

The soldiers are now reported to have withdrawn from the area, though a spokesman for the cleric told the BBC that US troops remain in the city.

The director of the city's Hakim hospital confirmed that a woman had died. He said three people had been injured.

There has been no comment yet on the operation from the US military.

Mr Sadr's militia waged fierce battles against the US-led coalition after his paper was closed down and one of his deputies arrested in March.

A ceasefire was reached in June and last month the newspaper was allowed to resume publishing.

During truce negotiations earlier in the year, Iraqi officials had said Mr Sadr would not face arrest despite an arrest warrant issued over the murder of a rival cleric.

But the US military had previously threatened to capture or kill Mr Sadr.

Read the rest at BBC News

August 2, 2005:

Terrorism: The Laws of Cause, Effect Still Rule

Let’s talk dirty.

The 9/11 suicide hijackers — all Arabs — attacked the United States instead of Brazil or Japan because the US government has been neck-deep in the politics of the Arab world for a generation, whereas the Brazilian and Japanese governments haven’t.

There is a connection between Washington’s Middle Eastern policies — its support for oppressive Arab regimes, its military interventions in the region, and its uncritical backing for Israeli government policies — and the fact that Americans have become the preferred targets for Islamist terrorist attacks.

Indeed, no other non-Muslim nation except Israel was a target for Islamist terrorist attacks until after the invasion of Iraq in March, 2003.

And the attacks since then have been aimed at the citizens of countries that were complicit in that invasion: Londoners, not Parisians; Spaniards, not Germans; Australians holidaying in Bali, not Japanese holidaying in Malaysia.

There you have it: Two full paragraphs of obscenity.

Prime Minister Tony Blair himself says so.

He informed us last Tuesday that any attempt to link the terrorist attacks that struck the London transport system on July 7, and the subsequent failed attempts on July 21, to his decision to follow the Bush administration in invading Iraq was “an obscenity”.

That’s nonsense, of course. All the comments in the first two paragraphs of this article are about cause and effect. You may agree or disagree with the analysis, but discussions of cause and effect are still permissible and even necessary. So how does Blair — and President George W. Bush in Washington, and Prime Minister John Howard in Canberra, and their partners elsewhere — get away with forbidding us to talk about what is causing all this?

The key technique, which they all use, is to claim that any attempt to explain why these attacks are happening is also an attempt to condone and justify them.

Blair gave a virtuoso demonstration of the technique in his last press conference on Tuesday.

He urgently needed to put some distance between his decision to invade Iraq and the phenomenon of young, British-born Muslims, not of Arab origin, blowing themselves and a large number of Londoners up.

So he deployed his considerable rhetorical skills to change the subject.

What he said was this. “It is time we stopped saying: OK, we abhor (Al-Qaeda’s) methods but we kind of see something in their ideas or they have a sliver of an excuse or a justification for it.’ They have no justification for it. Neither do they have any justification for killing people in Israel. Let’s just get that out of the way as well. There is no justification for suicide bombing in Palestine, in Iraq, in London, in Egypt, in Turkey, anywhere.”

Nobody had actually said that suicide bombings are justified.

What they are saying, in increasing numbers, is that actions have consequences, and that the reason a few young British Muslims became suicide bombers in 2005, whereas none at all became suicide bombers in 2000, is precisely the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

As the US Central Intelligence Agency pointed out recently, the invasion of Iraq has turned the country into a breeding ground for a new generation of Arab jihadis in the Middle East.

What it failed to add was that it has also spread the virus of terrorism into Muslim communities in Western countries that previously contained only a few fanatics (as any community does).

Until Iraq, none of them contained people so filled with rage and so convinced that they were involved in a holy war that they were willing to blow themselves and dozens of strangers up.

The problem is that the invasion of Iraq made it look (to those already susceptible to such extreme religious arguments) as if the Islamist extremists, who had barely any credibility outside the Arab world even ten years ago, were right.

If there were no terrorists in Iraq, why did Western countries invade it?

Because there is a Judaeo-Christian conspiracy to destroy Islam, stupid.

If there is another terrorist attack in the United States, it is more likely to come from within the resident Muslim community, as it has in Britain, than from foreign infiltrators.

Most American Muslims, like most British Muslims, are appalled by the radical doctrines that are sweeping some of their young men and women away.

But it is self-serving nonsense on the part of the governments of these countries to pretend that this is just some inexplicable outburst of violence by weird Muslim people.

The laws of cause and effect still rule.

Read the rest at Arab News

August 2, 2006:

French fries back on House menu

French fries are back on the menu in the US House of Representatives, three years after the name was ditched in favour of "freedom fries".

House Republicans renamed fries and French toast in 2003 to protest at France's opposition to the war on Iraq.

The patriotic name change hit the headlines at the time but the change back is getting much less coverage.

A House official would only say that fries are no longer being offered under the "freedom" nomenclature.

The Washington Times newspaper contacted aides of the two congressmen behind the move to "freedom fries" to see if they could shed light on the change back.

"We don't have a comment for your story," a spokeswoman for Republican representative Bob Ney told the newspaper.

At the time, Mr Ney, who together with Walter Jones pushed for "freedom fries", said the action was "a small but symbolic effort to show the strong displeasure of many on Capitol Hill with the actions of our so-called ally, France".

The move followed the lead of a North Carolina restaurant whose owner said he got the idea from similar protest action against Germany during World War I, when sauerkraut was renamed liberty cabbage and frankfurters became hot dogs.

The switch to "freedom fries" was seen as reflecting the anti-French sentiment among some lawmakers who felt President Jacques Chirac betrayed the US by opposing its policy on Iraq.

Read the rest at BBC News