January 31, 2004
Unco-operative Saddam for Iraqi Court : Bremer
From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :
Ousted dictator Saddam Hussein remains in Iraq and will be handed over to a special court being set up by the US-appointed Governing Council to face charges of genocide and invasion of neighbouring countries, US administrator Paul Bremer said in an interview published on Saturday.
The 2002 NIE: Read It For Yourself
While tracking links about the most recent airborne terror concern, I came across this WaPo link to the excerpt from the 2002 National Intelligency Estimate discussing the probabiliites and confidences of WMD in Iraq. It's one of the documents of which so much has been made, and thanks to the link and Adobe Acrobat, you can read the excerpt for yourself. Do so here, and I've posted a screen cap of one key passage below (click to see it full-sized).
Death Toll now 18
Separate attacks in Iraq have claimed 18 lives, including nine killed in a suicide car bombing in the country's northern city of Mosul.
Dutch Embassy Hit By RPG
Attackers fired two rocket-propelled grenades at the Dutch Embassy in Iraq on Friday, hitting the roof with one and setting it on fire. The blaze was quickly extinguished, and there were no injuries.
Two Bombings, 12 Dead
Two bombings in Iraq on Saturday killed 12 people, including three American soldiers, and wounded at least 45 others, according to the U.S. military and news agency reports.
A roadside bomb killed three American soldiers Saturday when it ripped through their convoy near the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, while a car bomb outside a police station in Mosul left nine people dead and 45 others wounded.
No Evidence CIA Slanted Iraq Data
So say WaPo:
Congressional and CIA investigations into the prewar intelligence on Iraq's weapons and links to terrorism have found no evidence that CIA analysts colored their judgment because of perceived or actual political pressure from White House officials, according to intelligence officials and congressional officials from both parties.
Why do I not think this is the final word?
January 30, 2004
Carbondale, CO Honors The Fallen
Now, Therefore Be It Proclaimed, That for the purpose of honoring our war dead, the United States flag that Carbondale flies at its Town Hall shall be lowered and flown at half staff each and every Monday at 8:00 a.m., beginning January 19, 2004, and raised again each Tuesday at 8:00 a.m.
Carbondale is a town of 5,000 residents.
Another Democratic Congressman On Iraq
U.S. Rep Steve Israel of Long Island just returned from visiting Iraq, and sent this note to his constituents:
Israel has posted photos of his trip on his congressional web site.
(Cross-posted at Late Final.)
January 29, 2004
Oil, Oil, Someone's in Trouble
Is it chicken roosting time? Here, from MEMRI, is a short list of the countries/people who allegedly benefitted from Saddam's oil vouchers. Yesterday, we posted about the possibility of Saddam bribing Chirac.
Merde in France says:
Blood money. Looks like some of the moolah splashing around French political circles thanks to barrels of Iraqi oil went to pay for hyping the Iraqi regime. Here is a web page covering a presentation organized at the Paris 9th district City Hall in June 2000 called 'Irak: the Forgotten Land' organized by 'L'association Jeunes France-Irak'.
Iraqi blogger Hammoribi chimes in:
These individuals should be followed up not only by the Iraqis but by the UN to investigate the breach of the UN sanction at that stage! This breach is coin with two faces, one is the breach of sanction and the other is the breach of using the money for propagand or things other than the food for the starved Iraqi children!
From another Iraq blogger, Zeyad of Healing Iraq:
Now you know why Iraqis suffered from the UN sanctions. Now you know why hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children had to die during the last ten years. Now you know why those people were vehemently anti-war.
Meanwhile, CNN, Fox and NYT have nothing on their front page in relation to this story. We'll have to watch the Iraqi bloggers for this one.
Update: A word of caution from Tom Maguire.
MEMRI's List: Who Were the Benificiaries of Saddam's Oil Vouchers?
MEMRI: The following report from MEMRI's Baghdad office is a translation of an article which appeared in the Iraqi daily Al-Mada,(1) which obtained lists of 270 companies, organizations, and individuals awarded allocations (vouchers) of crude oil by Saddam Hussein's regime. The beneficiaries reside in 50 countries: 16 Arab, 17 European, 9 Asian, and the rest from sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Only a portion of the 270 recipients are listed and identified.
[ed. note: Read the background MEMRI provides and the other notes, as well as endnotes, with the article]
The following is a partial list and description of individuals and organizations that MEMRI has been able to identify:(2)
Canada: Arthur Millholland, president and CEO of the Calgary-based Oilexco company, received 1 million barrels of oil.
United States: Samir Vincent received 10.5 million barrels. In 2000, Vincent, an Iraqi-born American citizen who has lived in the U.S. since 1958, organized a delegation of Iraqi religious leaders to visit the U.S. and meet with former president Jimmy Carter. Shaker Al-Khafaji, the pro-Saddam chairman of the 17th conference of Iraqi expatriates, received 1 million barrels.
Great Britain: George Galloway received 1 million barrels. Fawwaz Zreiqat received 1 million barrels. Zreiqat also appears in the Jordanian section as having received 6 million barrels. The Mujahideen Khalq(3) in Britain received 1 million barrels.
France: The French-Arab Friendship Association received 15.1 million barrels. Former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua received 12 million barrels.(4) Patrick Maugein of the Trafigura company received 25 million barrels. Michel Grimard, founder of the French-Iraqi Export Club, received 17.1 million barrels.
Switzerland: Glenco Re, the largest commodity trader in Switzerland, received 12 million barrels. Taurus, which has been associated with Iraq for 20 years and was the first company to renew its business with Iraq after the fall of Saddam, received 1 million barrels. Petrogas, which is listed under three sub-companies - Petrogas Services, Petrogas Distribution, and Petrogas Resources - and is associated with the Russian company Rosneftegazetroy, received 1 million barrels. Alcon, listed in Lichtenstein and associated with larger oil companies, received 1 million barrels. Finar Holdings, which is listed in Lugano, Switzerland, and is under liquidation, received 1 million barrels.
Italy: The Italian Petrol Union received 1 million barrels. West Petrol, an Italian company that trades crude oil and oil products, received 1 million barrels. Roberto Formigoni, possibly the president of Lombardia, received 1 million barrels. Salvatore Nicotra, a former NATO pilot who became an oil merchant, received 1 million barrels.
Spain: Basem Qaqish, a member of the Spanish Committee for the Defense of the Arab Cause, received 1 million barrels. Ali Ballout, a pro-Saddam Lebanese journalist, received 1 million barrels. Javier Robert received 1 million barrels.
Yugoslavia: Four Yugoslav political parties received vouchers: the Yugoslav Left party received 9.5 million barrels. The Socialist Party received 1 million barrels. The Italian Party received 1 million barrels. Another party, whose name in exact transliteration is “kokstuntsha” - possibly Kostunica's party - received 1 million barrels.
Other political parties: The Romanian Labor Party received 5.5 million barrels. The Party of the Hungarian Interest received 4.7 million barrels. The Bulgarian Socialist Party received 12 million barrels. The Slovakian Communist Party received 1 million barrels.
Austria: The Arab-Austrian Society received 1 million barrels.
Brazil: The 8th of October Movement, a Brazilian Communist group, received 4.5 million barrels. Fuwad Sirhan received 10 million barrels.
Egypt: Khaled Gamal Abd Al-Nasser, son of the late Egyptian president, received 16.6 million barrels. 'Imad Al-Galda, a businessman and a member of the Egyptian parliament from President Mubarak's National Democratic Party, received 14 million barrels. Abd Al-Azim Mannaf,(5) editor of the Sout Al-Arab newspaper, received 6 million barrels. Muhammad Hilmi, editor of the Egyptian paper Sahwat Misr,(6) received an undisclosed number of barrels. The United Arab Company received 6 million barrels. The Nile and Euphrates Company received 3 million barrels. The Al-Multaqa Foundation for Press and Publication received 1 million barrels.(7)
Libya: Prime Minister Shukri Ghanem received 1 million barrels.
Sub-Saharan Africa: Chad's foreign minister received 1 million barrels.(8) Four South Africans are listed: Tokyo Saxville received 4 million barrels. Montega received 4 million barrels. Both are associated with the African National Party.
Palestinians: The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) received 4 million barrels. The PLO Political Bureau received 5 million barrels. Abu Al-Abbas received 11.5 million barrels. Abdallah Al-Horani received 8 million barrels. The PFLP received 5 million barrels. Wafa Tawfiq Al-Sayegh received 4 million barrels.
Oman: The Al-Shanfari group received 5 million barrels.
Syria: Farras Mustafa Tlass, the son of Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass, received 6 million barrels. 'Audh Amourah received 18 million barrels. Ghassan Zakariya received 6 million barrels. Anwar Al-Aqqad received 2 million barrels. Hamida Na'Na', the owner of the Al-Wafaq Al-Arabi periodical, received 1 million barrels.
Lebanon: The son of Lebanese President Emil Lahoud received 4.5 million barrels. Former MP Najjah Wakim received 3 million barrels. Nasserist Party head Osama M'arouf received 3 million barrels. National Arabic Club Chairman Faisal Darnika received 3 million barrels.
Jordan: Former Islamist MP and head of the Engineers Union Leith Shbeilat(9) received 15.5 million barrels. Former MP and Jordanian Writers Union head Fakhri Qi'war received 6 million barrels.(10) Former Jordanian chief of staff Mashhour Haditha received 1 million barrels. Former MP Toujan Al-Faisal received 3 million barrels.(11) The Jordanian Ministry of Energy received 5 million barrels. Muhammad Saleh Al-Horani, the Amman Stock Exchange head and former Minister of Supplies, received 4 million barrels. Lawyer Wamidth Hussein Al-Majali received 6 million barrels.(12)
Qatar: Qatari Horseracing Association Chairman Hamad bin Ali Aal Thani received 14 million barrels. Gulf Petroleum received 2 million barrels.
The Indian Congress Party received 1 million barrels.
Indonesia: Indonesian President Megawati received 1 million barrels as “the daughter of President Sukarno,” and 1 million barrels as Megawati.
Myanmar: Myanmar's Forestry Minister received 1 million barrels.
Ukraine: The Social Democratic Party received 1 million barrels. The Communist Party received 6 million barrels. The Socialist Party received 1 million barrels. The FTD oil company received 1 million barrels, as did other Ukrainian companies.
Belarus: The Liberal Party received 1 million barrels. The Communist Party received 1 ton [sic] of oil. The director of the Belarussian president's office received 1 million barrels.
Russia: The Russian state itself received 1,366,000,000 barrels. The list also included the following:
Companies belonging to the Liberal Democratic Party received 79.8 million barrels - the list notes the name of party president Vladimir Zhirinovsky. The Russian Communist Party received 1 million barrels. The Lukoil company received 63 million barrels. The Russneft company received 35.5 million barrels. Vladimir Putin's Peace and Unity Party received 34 million barrels - the list notes the name of party chairwoman Saji Umalatova. The Gazprom company received 26 million barrels. The Soyuzneftgaz company received 25.5 million barrels - the list notes the name Shafrannik. The Moscow Oil Company received 25.1 million barrels. The Onako company received 22.2 million barrels. The Sidanco company received 21.2 million barrels. The Russian Association for Solidarity with Iraq received 12.5 million barrels. The Ural Invest company received 8.5 million barrels. Russneft Gazexport received 12.5 million barrels. The Transneft company received 9 million barrels. The Sibneft company received 8.1 million barrels. The Stroyneftgaz company received 6 million barrels. The Russian Committee for Solidarity with the People of Iraq received 6.5 million barrels - the list notes the name of committee chairman Rudasev. The Russian Orthodox Church received 5 million barrels. The Moscow Science Academy received 3.5 million barrels. The Chechnya Administration received 2 million barrels. The National Democratic Party received 2 million barrels. The Nordwest group received 2 million barrels. The Yukos company received 2 million barrels. One Russian company which phonetically reads as Zarabsneft received 174.5 million barrels. Vouchers were also granted to the Russian foreign ministry, one under the name of Al-Fayko for 1 million barrels, and one to Yetumin for 30.1 million barrels. The Mashinoimport Company received 1 million barrels. The Slavneft Company received 1 million barrels. The Caspian Invest Company (Kalika) received 1 million barrels. The Tatneft Tatarstan company received 1 million barrels. The Surgutneft company received 1 million barrels. Siberia's oil and gas company received 1 million barrels.
In addition, the son of the former Russian Ambassador to Iraq received 19.7 million barrels. Nikolay Ryjkov, a former prime minister of the USSR, received 13 million barrels. The Russian President's office director received 5 million barrels.
Iraq Minister: WMDs Carefull Hidden
Iraqi foreign minister Hoshiyar Zebari said Thursday Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction had been carefully hidden, but he was confident they could be discovered.
January 28, 2004
Did Saddam Bribe Chirac?
Documents from Saddam Hussein's oil ministry reveal he used oil to bribe top French officials into opposing the imminent U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Oddly, the article is entitled Iraqi govt. papers: Saddam bribed Chirac, but the body of the article never mentions Jacques Chirac personally receiving any improper payments, and this article in the Independent (which appears to be the Times' source) never points the finger directly at Chirac. So take this for what it's worth - if the IGC really has the goods on top French officials, whether or not they go as high as Chirac, we should see more on this in the near future.
Transcript of Kay's Opening Statements
The following is the statement former U.S. Weapons Inspector David Kay made to the Senate committee before questioning:
KAY: As you know and we discussed, I do not have a written statement. This hearing came about very quickly. I do have a few preliminary comments, but I suspect you're more interested in asking questions, and I'll be happy to respond to those questions to the best of my ability.
I would like to open by saying that the talent, dedication and bravery of the staff of the [Iraq Survey Group] that was my privilege to direct is unparalleled and the country owes a great debt of gratitude to the men and women who have served over there and continue to serve doing that.
A great deal has been accomplished by the team, and I do think … it important that it goes on and it is allowed to reach its full conclusion. In fact, I really believe it ought to be better resourced and totally focused on WMD; that that is important to do it.
But I also believe that it is time to begin the fundamental analysis of how we got here, what led us here and what we need to do in order to ensure that we are equipped with the best possible intelligence as we face these issues in the future.
Let me begin by saying, we were almost all wrong, and I certainly include myself here.
Sen. [Edward] Kennedy knows very directly. Senator Kennedy and I talked on several occasions prior to the war that my view was that the best evidence that I had seen was that Iraq indeed had weapons of mass destruction.
I would also point out that many governments that chose not to support this war — certainly, the French president, [Jacques] Chirac, as I recall in April of last year, referred to Iraq's possession of WMD.
The Germans certainly — the intelligence service believed that there were WMD.
It turns out that we were all wrong, probably in my judgment, and that is most disturbing.
We're also in a period in which we've had intelligence surprises in the proliferation area that go the other way. The case of Iran, a nuclear program that the Iranians admit was 18 years on, that we underestimated. And, in fact, we didn't discover it. It was discovered by a group of Iranian dissidents outside the country who pointed the international community at the location.
The Libyan program recently discovered was far more extensive than was assessed prior to that.
There's a long record here of being wrong. There's a good reason for it. There are probably multiple reasons. Certainly proliferation is a hard thing to track, particularly in countries that deny easy and free access and don't have free and open societies.
In my judgment, based on the work that has been done to this point of the Iraq Survey Group, and in fact, that I reported to you in October, Iraq was in clear violation of the terms of [U.N.] Resolution 1441.
Resolution 1441 required that Iraq report all of its activities — one last chance to come clean about what it had.
We have discovered hundreds of cases, based on both documents, physical evidence and the testimony of Iraqis, of activities that were prohibited under the initial U.N. Resolution 687 and that should have been reported under 1441, with Iraqi testimony that not only did they not tell the U.N. about this, they were instructed not to do it and they hid material.
I think the aim — and certainly the aim of what I've tried to do since leaving — is not political and certainly not a witch hunt at individuals. It's to try to direct our attention at what I believe is a fundamental fault analysis that we must now examine.
And let me take one of the explanations most commonly given: Analysts were pressured to reach conclusions that would fit the political agenda of one or another administration. I deeply think that is a wrong explanation.
As leader of the effort of the Iraqi Survey Group, I spent most of my days not out in the field leading inspections. It's typically what you do at that level. I was trying to motivate, direct, find strategies.
In the course of doing that, I had innumerable analysts who came to me in apology that the world that we were finding was not the world that they had thought existed and that they had estimated. Reality on the ground differed in advance.
And never — not in a single case — was the explanation, “I was pressured to do this.” The explanation was very often, “The limited data we had led one to reasonably conclude this. I now see that there's another explanation for it.”
And each case was different, but the conversations were sufficiently in depth and our relationship was sufficiently frank that I'm convinced that, at least to the analysts I dealt with, I did not come across a single one that felt it had been, in the military term, “inappropriate command influence” that led them to take that position.
It was not that. It was the honest difficulty based on the intelligence that had — the information that had been collected that led the analysts to that conclusion.
And you know, almost in a perverse way, I wish it had been undue influence because we know how to correct that.
We get rid of the people who, in fact, were exercising that.
The fact that it wasn't tells me that we've got a much more fundamental problem of understanding what went wrong, and we've got to figure out what was there. And that's what I call fundamental fault analysis.
And like I say, I think we've got other cases other than Iraq. I do not think the problem of global proliferation of weapons technology of mass destruction is going to go away, and that's why I think it is an urgent issue.
And let me really wrap up here with just a brief summary of what I think we are now facing in Iraq. I regret to say that I think at the end of the work of the [Iraq Survey Group] there's still going to be an unresolvable ambiguity about what happened.
A lot of that traces to the failure on April 9 to establish immediately physical security in Iraq — the unparalleled looting and destruction, a lot of which was directly intentional, designed by the security services to cover the tracks of the Iraq WMD program and their other programs as well, a lot of which was what we simply called Ali Baba looting. “It had been the regime's. The regime is gone. I'm going to go take the gold toilet fixtures and everything else imaginable.”
I've seen looting around the world and thought I knew the best looters in the world. The Iraqis excel at that.
The result is — document destruction — we're really not going to be able to prove beyond a truth the negatives and some of the positive conclusions that we're going to come to. There will be always unresolved ambiguity here.
But I do think the survey group — and I think Charlie Duelfer is a great leader. I have the utmost confidence in Charles. I think you will get as full an answer as you can possibly get.
And let me just conclude by my own personal tribute, both to the president and to [CIA Director] George Tenet, for having the courage to select me to do this, and my successor, Charlie Duelfer, as well.
Both of us are known for probably at times regrettable streak of independence. I came not from within the administration, and it was clear and clear in our discussions and no one asked otherwise that I would lead this the way I thought best and I would speak the truth as we found it. I have had absolutely no pressure prior, during the course of the work at the [Iraq Survey Group], or after I left to do anything otherwise.
I think that shows a level of maturity and understanding that I think bodes well for getting to the bottom of this. But it is really up to you and your staff, on behalf of the American people, to take on that challenge. It's not something that anyone from the outside can do. So I look forward to these hearings and other hearings at how you will get to the conclusions.
I do believe we have to understand why reality turned out to be different than expectations and estimates. But you have more public service — certainly many of you — than I have ever had, and you recognize that this is not unusual.
I told Sen. [John] Warner [chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee] earlier that I've been drawn back as a result of recent film of reminding me of something. At the time of the Cuban missile crisis, the combined estimate was unanimity in the intelligence service that there were no Soviet warheads in Cuba at the time of the missile crisis.
Fortunately, President Kennedy and [then-Attorney General] Robert Kennedy disagreed with the estimate and chose a course of action less ambitious and aggressive than recommended by their advisers.
But the most important thing about that story, which is not often told, is that as a result after the Cuban missile crisis, immediate steps were taken to correct our inability to collect on the movement of nuclear material out of the Soviet Union to other places.
So that by the end of the Johnson administration, the intelligence community had a capability to do what it had not been able to do at the time of the Cuban missile crisis.
I think you face a similar responsibility in ensuring that the community is able to do a better job in the future than it has done in the past.
Davies Resigns from BBC
The chairman of the BBC board of governors has resigned following criticism in the Hutton Report.
Main Points of the Hutton Report
BBC and Andrew Gilligan
Former U.S. weapons inspector David Kay is testifying before the Senate in regards to finding weapons of mass destrution in Iraq.
It's being aired live on both Fox, C-Span and CNN. You can also watch it on the C-Span website.
We will print partial transcripts as soon as we get them.
Tony Blair's Statement on the Hutton Report
Prime Minister Tony Blair has made a statement following the publication of Lord Hutton's report into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly.as provided by the 10 Downing Street website:
With your permission, Mr Speaker, I will make a statement following Lord Hutton's report into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly.
A bit of editorializing on my part:
The Guardian was blogging the statement live.
Palace Demolition Authorised
From The Australian :
US authorities today prepared to demolish Saddam Hussein's five palatial homes in the village where he was born, having stripped them of expensive marbles, tiles and valuable furniture.
Ambulance Bomb in Baghdad
From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :
A powerful suicide car bomb tore off the front of a hotel occupied by a government minister and destroyed a police station in the centre of Baghdad early Wednesday, killing at least three people.
January 27, 2004
Le Monde Names Names
“million oil barrels was offered to individuals who have nothing to do with the oil activities”
Read the whole awkwardly translated article.
Assasination Attempt on Bremmer
This just in:
27 January 2004; 1500 EST: At approximately 0200 this morning, a second assassination attempt was made against US Ambassador Paul Bremmer as he was traveling in an armored vehicle in the vicinity of the Baghdad airport. His convoy attacked was although there were no known injuries to any coalition members. —Analyst Laura Manfield
No link yet, but word is Northeast Intell Network is reporting the same.
Radiation Detected on Four Trucks
The Stryker brigade's nuclear, chemical and biological reconnaissance platoon detected high levels of radiation on four trucks attempting to cross the Iraq-Turkey border, officials said Monday.
Two CNN Employees Killed in Attack
Two CNN employees were killed, and a third was lightly wounded Tuesday afternoon when the cars they were traveling in came under fire.
Roadside Bomb Kills Three Soldiers
A roadside bomb west of Baghdad killed three U.S. soldiers and one Iraqi Tuesday, a U.S. military spokesman said. One U.S. soldier and three Iraqis were wounded in the blast, the spokesman said.
January 26, 2004
Kay on WMD: "components of Saddam's WMD programme ... went to Syria" - consistent with 2001 NATO Report on Iraqi WMD
Outside the Beltway recently posted an item on David Kay's conclusion that “components of Saddam's WMD programme … went to Syria.”
Specifically, David Kay indicated this in the January 25 edition of the Telegraph:
- - - - - - -
Saddam's WMD hidden in Syria, says Iraq survey chief
David Kay, the former head of the coalition's hunt for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, yesterday claimed that part of Saddam Hussein's secret weapons programme was hidden in Syria.
In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Dr Kay, who last week resigned as head of the Iraq Survey Group, said that he had uncovered evidence that unspecified materials had been moved to Syria shortly before last year's war to overthrow Saddam.
“We are not talking about a large stockpile of weapons,” he said. “But we know from some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials that a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam's WMD programme. Precisely what went to Syria, and what has happened to it, is a major issue that needs to be resolved.”
Dr Kay's comments will intensify pressure on President Bashar Assad to clarify the extent of his co-operation with Saddam's regime and details of Syria's WMD programme. Mr Assad has said that Syria was entitled to defend itself by acquiring its own biological and chemical weapons arsenal.
Syria was one of Iraq's main allies in the run-up to the war and hundreds of Iraqi officials - including members of Saddam's family - were given refuge in Damascus after the collapse of the Iraqi dictator's regime. Many of the foreign fighters responsible for conducting terrorist attacks against the coalition are believed to have entered Iraq through Syria.
A Syrian official last night said: “These allegations have been raised many times in the past by Israeli officials, which proves that they are false.”
- - - - - - -
It is important to note in supporting Kay's claim (and in response to the chorus of “no WMD” claims - including, oddly from Kay) that the strong international consensus as late as 2001 was that Iraq had WMD. See, e.g., pages 7 - 10 of this 2001 NATO Report - in which, e.g., Defense Secretary Les Aspin of the Clinton Administration warns about the dangers of WMD proliferation by Iraq and other Middle Eastern and Southern Asian nations.
Kay's Two Stories on WMD
David Kay, the outgoing leader of a U.S. weapons search team in Iraq, says that part of Saddam Hussein's secret weapons program was hidden in Syria, a published report said Sunday.
This would seem to verify a DEBKA story that I posted—skeptically—on January 9.
Which makes Kay's widely-reported denial of Iraqi WMD stockpiles really confusing:
Though Kay has said new information has been uncovered about Iraq's programs — particularly its efforts to build missiles — he has since concluded there are no weapons stockpiles to be found.
Given how the statement was obviously going to play in the press and the campaign trail, why not mention them both simultaneously? They're rather connected.
Update (2251): The Telegraph story.
Saddam Rewarded Supporters With Oil
Iraq's former dictator Saddam Hussein rewarded 200 of his leading supporters abroad by giving them millions of barrels of crude oil, government officials said.Full article from IOL...
(Hm. Maybe it really was all about the oillllll!?)
[Cross-posted to Electric Venom]
Baghdad Ribbon Cutting CeremoniesLINK
Iraqi Minister of Electricity Ayham al Samaraie and Brigadier General (P) Steven R. Hawkins, Commander, Task Force Restore Iraqi Electricity (TF RIE) joined distinguished guests for two ribbon cutting ceremonies in Baghdad today. The informal ceremonies recognized TF RIE’s support of the Coalition’s efforts to provide stable and dependable electricity throughout Iraq.
The first ceremony highlighted the rehabilitated Ma’ari Substation in Baghdad that features a new and rehabilitated Control Center, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system as well as remote transfer units. The $14 million projects will provide for monitoring and control over distribution of electrical power in Baghdad. Unlike in the past, this new distribution system will allow hospitals and other critical need areas to now receive a continuous supply of electricity. It also will ensure reliable and consistent service to all neighbourhoods, factories, schools, and office buildings throughout Baghdad.
The second ribbon-cutting followed Ma’ari at the Baghdad South substation and heralded the activation of the 400 KV Baghdad (South) to Diyaniwa electrical power line, a critical main electric line reinforcing and stabilizing the Baghdad super ring electric architecture. The 5 month, $10 million project will add substantial stability to the power grid and will allow bulk generation to flow to and from Southern Iraq and Baghdad.
“These projects signal a major turning point in our efforts to bring stable, secure power to the Iraqi people”, said Randy Richardson, the Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Electricity. “Ma’ari and Baghdad South are critical components of our overall goal of rebuilding and stabilizing Iraq’s power systems after decades of neglect and misuse. In the weeks and months ahead, the Coalition will continue to bring new projects online to grow capacity and to improve the quality of life of every Iraqi,” concluded Richardson.
David Kay on WMD: "I don't think they exist."
David Kay gave quite an interview to NPR yesterday:
David Kay, who recently resigned as head of the U.S. group searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, now says he doesn't think stockpiles of such weapons existed. He no longer believes that Iraq had a large-scale production program in the 1990s.
U.S. intelligence agencies need to explain why their research indicated Iraq possessed banned weapons before the American-led invasion, says the outgoing top U.S. inspector, who now believes Saddam Hussein had no such arms.
Robin's Winds of War: Jan 26/04
Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's “Winds of War” is brought to you by Robin Burk.
Other Topics Today Include: Blair, Straw defend the decision to invade Iraq; Iraqi WMD in Syria?; Iraqi Marines; power struggle in Iran; prisoner swap in ME; Israel & her neighbours; al Qaeda supporter indicted in US; China and France get together; German armed forces restructure.
January 25, 2004
Get Out The Link!
Many readers have supported us with donations, which we appreciate. But the best way to support The Post is with traffic. So with the final push in New Hampshire to get out the vote, we ask that you help us “Get Out The Link.”
Support Command Post this Monday by sending the www.command-post.org URL to everyone in your contact list who you think might enjoy the site. We're not picky: we just want to introduce people to The Command Post, and think the day before the primary is a great day to do so.
So “Get Out The Link” on Monday the 25th, and thanks for reading The Post!
Howard Dean: Iraqis Are Worse Off Now
“You can say that it's great that Saddam is gone and I'm sure that a lot of Iraqis feel it is great that Saddam is gone,” said the former Vermont governor, an unflinching critic of the war against Iraq. “But a lot of them gave their lives. And their living standard is a whole lot worse now than it was before.”
Feel free to refute or defend the statement while I dig up some links.
Syria denies receiving Iraq arms
Syria has strongly denied allegations that it has been harbouring Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
US pilots missing in Iraq crash
Two US pilots are missing after their helicopter crashed during a search and rescue mission in the Iraqi city of Mosul, US officials have said.
Blair defends Iraq WMD reports
LONDON, England (CNN) -- Intelligence reports suggesting Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction were correct, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said in an interview with a Sunday newspaper.Full article...
Mass Arrests follow Attacks
From The Australian :
An American soldier died today of wounds suffered in a grenade attack on his Bradley vehicle that was patrolling the central Iraqi town of Beiji the day before, said Major Josslyn Aberle, a spokeswoman for the 4th Infantry Division.
There's also a roundup of yesterday's attacks:
In Khaldiyah, some 110km west of Baghdad, three US soldiers were killed and six more were wounded yesterday when a vehicle, possibly driven by a suicide bomber, exploded at a US checkpoint near a bridge across the Euphrates river, the US command said.
Explosion near Baghdad Hotel
From The Australian :
A Hotel in the centre of Baghdad was rocked by a large explosion early Sunday, but there were no immediate reports of any casualties, a reporter at the scene said.
January 24, 2004
Powell: It's 'Open Question' Whether Iraq Had WMD
And even more fuel for the fire. Reported widely, here via Wired:
Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Saturday it was an “open question” whether stocks of weapons of mass destruction would be found in Iraq and conceded it was possible Saddam Hussein had none.
I can't wait to read the comments on this one …
Truck Bomb in Samarra
From The Australian :
Three people were killed and four wounded today when a truck bomb exploded outside a courthouse in the northern Iraqi city of Samarra, a local official said.
More Violence in Iraq Claims Two U.S. Soldiers
The two soldiers were part of a convoy that was driving just south of Fallujah when the bomb exploded.
Later, a bomb - nprobaly meant for a U.S. patrol that had just passed through - exploded, killing three Iraqis and wounding 40 others, including seven U.S. soldiers.
Earlier today, a sniper shot and wounded a U.S. soldier.
Also, the LA Times is reporting that a helicopter crash has killed two soldiers.
And in northern Iraq, two U.S. pilots were killed when their OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter crashed outside Qayyarah on Friday. The cause of the helicopter crash, the fourth this month in Iraq, was not immediately known, according to U.S. military officials.
January 23, 2004
Profile: Ayatollah Ali Sistani
Hmmm … kind of nice over here on the Iraq page. Been spending so much time getting 2004 ramped up for the primaries that I started to miss PTG's sardonic wit.
The BBC has an informative profile of Shia cleric Ayatollah Ali Sistani here, which is worth reading (but don't let the picture startle you).
Halliburton Finds Possible Iraq Kickbacks
Well … fuel for the fire. From Yahoo / Reuters:
Halliburton Co. workers may have taken kickbacks from a Kuwaiti subcontractor supplying U.S. troops in Iraq, causing a potential $6 million overcharge to U.S. taxpayers, the company said on Friday.
U.S. Troops Capture Iraq Rebel Leader
Gotcha. From Yahoo/AP:
U.S. forces in Iraq captured a leader of the insurgency who is believed to be a close associate of Abu Musab Zarqawi, described by some as a key link between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein, a senior American official said in Washington on Friday.
Cleric Asks Iraqis to Await U.N. Inquiry
An influential Shiite Muslim cleric urged his followers Friday to refrain from the kind of mass protests witnessed in Iraq's two largest cities this month until a U.N. team determines whether nationwide elections are feasible.
They're Baaack ...
… sort of: UN Team in Iraq to Study Staff's Return. Reported in this instance by the Bradenton Herald, and widely in general.
Castro Slept With Saddam
Metaphoricallly speaking, of course.
A senior Defense Department official tells us one of the alarming after-action intelligence reports that reached the Pentagon is that the communist government of Cuba shared intelligence on the United States with Saddam Hussein's regime.
[Full story at Washington Times]
Iraq Support Stable, Bush Not Seen as Unilateralist
Public support for the U.S. military operation in Iraq has remained strong since the capture of Saddam Hussein, despite the continuing American casualties there. Nearly two-thirds of Americans (65%) feel the war was the right decision, which represents little change from December, shortly after Hussein's capture (67%). That event also boosted the public's sense of progress in Iraq; even so, fewer than a quarter (22%) say things there are going very well there.
David Kay Replaced as WMD Adviser
Flash from live FOX News:
David Kay (head of the US WMD search) has been replaced. According to Reuters, he stated that he expects nothing more to be found, and that he never believed that there were large stocks of weapons to be found.
UPDATE from Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - David Kay has quit his post as leader of the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which so far has failed to find any actual arms, and will be replaced by former U.N. weapons inspector Charles Duelfer, the CIA said on Friday.
Coalition Provisional Briefing from Baghdad
Over the past week, there has been an average of 18 daily engagements against coalition military forces, just over two attacks daily against Iraqi security forces, and just over one attack daily against Iraqi civilians. The coalition remains offensively oriented to kill or capture anti-coalition elements, terrorists and conspirators against the Iraqi people, and to establish a safe and secure environment. In the past 24 hours, the coalition has conducted 1,492 patrols, 29 offensive operations, 15 raids, and captured 105 anti-coalition suspects.
In the northern zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 196 patrols and conducted a neighborhood engagement in Mosul where 105 homes were searched, resulting in the confiscation of a number of illegal weapons. Coalition forces hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of phase two of the Mosul Regional Confinement Center. The current class of corrections officers and prison guards graduated in conjunction with the opening ceremony. Forces conducted a cordon and search of a house in western Mosul and detained their primary target, Sima Fakhri Hamid al-Talir (ph), the facilitator for suspected suicide bombers in the Mosul region. One-hundred and ninety-two Civil Defense Corps personnel graduated in Diyala, bringing the total number of ICDC soldiers in the northern region to 3,700.
In the north-central zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 184 patrols, eight raids, and captured 31 individuals. In a raid near Abu Saida, coalition forces targeted four personnel responsible for a series of rocket-propelled grenade attacks on coalition forces. The raid resulted in the capture of two targets: Ahmed Jamil Mohammed (ph), a member of the Jaburi tribe, and Ayuh Khalil Abrahim (ph), a member of the Ghalali (ph) tribe.
Coalition forces found 10 personnel digging up a weapons cache on the side of the road two kilometers east of Bahia (sp). The personnel attacked the convoy, and coalition forces returned fire, capturing two of the individuals. The Iraqi Civil Defense Corps has the site secured and are recovering the weapons.
Working independently in the village of Jazra at Maklaq (sp), Iraqi Civil Defense Corps soldiers raided a building, looking for individuals suspected of being involved in RPG attacks against coalition forces. Two of the targeted individuals were captured, and soldiers located and confiscated five rocket-propelled grenades and two AK-47 rifles.
Coalition forces raided seven locations in Baiji, looking for members of a Fedayeen cell. Forces captured nine individuals, including three people specifically targeted for suspected involvement in anti-coalition activities.
In Baghdad, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted eight offensive operations, 470 patrols and captured six enemy personnel.
Tomorrow 669 candidates will graduate from two Iraqi Civil Defense Corps academies in the Baghdad region. This will bring the total number of ICDC soldiers in Baghdad to over 3,300.
In the western zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted eight offensive operations, 220 patrols, cleared three caches, captured 13 personnel and detained entry to 37 personnel at Trebil and one at Husaybah, all because they lacked passports.
Coalition forces conducted a cordon-and-search in Usafiyah (sp) to capture or kill anti-coalition forces in the area. The enemy personnel Sadiq Sukani (sp) and his brother are suspected of killing Iraqis who have cooperated with coalition forces. The operation was conducted without incident and resulted in the capture of both targets.
The Iraqi border police and custom personnel continue to operate the Arar border crossing site. In the last 24 hours, 2,400 hajj pilgrims and 54 buses crossed the border at Arar, en route to Mecca. A total of 5,255 pilgrims and 155 buses have entered Saudi Arabia so far from the western zone of operations to celebrate the hajj.
Civil Affairs teams met with coalition and municipal leaders to discuss methods to improve the water quality in Al-Tash (sp). Due to infrastructure deterioration, some of the populace have been forced to take water from local irrigation canals. Teams are developing quick-impact and long-term projects to provide potable water to the Al-Tash (sp) community, at a cost of $64,000.
In the central south zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 91 patrols, captured 13 personnel and escorted 31 convoys. A coalition patrol detained 38 illegal persons and three minibuses at the border crossing point 20 kilometers north of Badrah City. The illegal persons were deported to Iran, and the vehicles and drivers were handed over to the border police.
In the southeast zone of operation, 2,500 pilgrims crossed the border yesterday. Five thousand remain at the camp at Safwan, and the hajj committee has requested doubling of the daily flights up to 5,000 personnel, in order to get the backlog cleared.
Iraq Operations In Tikrit Area Of Iraq
The former regime elements we have been combating have been brought to their knees. Capturing Saddam was a major operational and psychological defeat for the enemy. But a more important result of his capture is the increase in accurate information brought forward by Iraqis allowing us to conduct numerous precise raids to kill or capture financiers, IED-makers, and mid-level leaders of the former regime. These groups are still a threat, but a fractured, sporadic threat with the leadership destabilized, finances interdicted and no hope of the Ba'athists' return to power.
The number of enemy attacks against our forces has been declining since a peak in November during Ramadan. And now their desperate attacks are targeting civilians; terrorist car bombs have killed
Snippets from the briefing:
Iraqis to receive higher pensions
Baghdad, January 23 -- The Ministry of Finance today announced that pension payments to all public sector pensioners will increase with effect from 1 January 2004. Under the new arrangements, pensioners will no longer be paid a flat rate. Those with longer service and higher grades of service at retirement will be awarded higher pension payments.
First quarter pension payments for the lowest-paid pensioners are set to rise from 90,000 ID to a minimum of 95,000 ID. Those in receipt of a full pension with over 25 years’ service will see their pensions rise from 90,000 ID to a minimum of 125,000 ID for the first quarter.
Under Saddam Hussein, pensioners used to receive as little as 15,000 ID a quarter.
Pensioners will also once again be able to draw their pension from a neighbourhood bank branch rather than the central Pension Department, making it easier to access their money.
It will take some time to collect information on length of service and grade of pensioners at retirement. But all pensioners will receive the minimum increase with their February pensions. When their full entitlement is calculated, it will be backdated and paid to 1 January.
This change in the pension system will make future reform efforts easier. The Ministry of Finance is committed to ensuring that all public sector workers are adequately provided for when they retire.
January 22, 2004
BBC reporter explores Kurdistan in a nice series of articles
Kurdistan is different - there are trees unlike much of the flat desert land in the south, the traffic lights work, the people speak an entirely different language. And they like going to the pub.
Iraq laundresses killed in attack
Four Iraqi women who worked for the US army have been killed in a gun attack on their minibus.
Police said several other women were wounded in Wednesday's attack near the town of Falluja, about 50 kilometres (32 miles) west of the capital Baghdad.
They all worked as cleaners and laundry staff at a US base near Baghdad. LINK
Day of Violence in Sunni Triangle
“Insurgents” in the Sunni Triangle area of Iraq launched several attacks in one day.
Two U.S. soldiers were killed and one seriously wounded in a mortar attack on a U.S. military encampment near Baquba.
In one attack, assailants fired from a car and killed two Iraqi policemen, Lieutenant Hakam Hilmi and 2nd Lieutenant Ibrahim Khaled, and wounded three other Iraqis. An Iraq civilian was also killed as his car came upon the scene and was hit with gunfire.
In Habbaniya, a bus carrying women home from work was ambushed. Three of the women were killed.
Rebuilding Iraq Armed Forces
Well, good afternoon, everybody. Glad I'm finally here and I'm happy to tell you that I just spent the better part of the afternoon at the Kirkuk military training base watching the 3rd Battalion and 4th Battalion train; so, fresh from the training base to be able to give you any input that you might want to hear about that. Again, I'm going to give you a prepared statement, I will then embark upon any questions that you have.
Over the past several months, Coalition Military Assistance Training Team, known as CMATT, has been engaged in training the Iraqi army. We are developing forces which are under political control, accountable to the nation, and defensive in capability and intent. Our vision is to man, train, and equip nine infantry brigades, a small coastal defense force, and the beginning of an aviation element to establish the foundation of the Iraqi army run by Iraqis.
I have come to you today about three things. First is the process by which we are recruiting, training and employing the Iraqi army. Second is the benefit an Iraqi force will provide to the Iraqi people. And third and most importantly, we are building the values we expect of a professional military in a democratic society.
Sippets of the briefing:
January 21, 2004
Chaplain Puts Green Beret Past to Use
VOLTURNO BASE, Iraq — By day, this military camp is a self-contained American bubble in a bizarre setting. Off-duty soldiers listen to country music, watch big-screen basketball, eat grilled steaks, read e-mail from home and jog around an artificial lake, built on a landscaped former resort for Saddam Hussein's cronies and loyalists.
More at the link
Army Deploys 'Shadow' Unmanned Air Vehicle in Iraq
HABBANIYAH, Iraq, Jan. 20, 2004 – Having better intelligence than your enemy is vital to the success of a military operation, and the current situation in Iraq is no exception.Photos at link
January 20, 2004
Iraqi Border Open to Pilgrims During Hajj
RAMADI, Iraq— For the first time in more than three decades, Iraqis are able to participate in the Hajj pilgrimage without preferential oversight from the former regime.
The Hajj Pilgrimage occurs annually and constitutes one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The ritual journey to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, is an important event in the life of Muslims, both those actually traveling and those who hope to do so within their lifetime.
Task Force “All American” soldiers have been quietly assisting the Iraqi security forces who have taken the lead the efforts to facilitate the safe travel of the Hajj pilgrims. Over the past two days, more than 2,400 Iraqis have crossed the Iraqi border at Ar Ar into Saudi Arabia to participate in the Hajj.
Iraqi border guards and customs agents are operating the Ar Ar border crossing and managing traffic into Saudi Arabia. Iraqi Civil Defense Corps troops have been actively involved in the security of the routes and rest areas with additional support from Red Crescent volunteers, who have been integral in providing support for the travelers.
120 Baathists Renounce Political Party
MOSUL, Iraq – Former high-ranking members of the Ba’ath Party renounced affiliation with their political party in today Rabiah on the Syrian border, in a meeting with the leaders of the 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade (Stryker), 2nd Infantry Division, attached to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).
The meeting took place in a schoolroom filled with 120 Ba’athists, and was led by the town mayor and Lt. Col. Buddy Carman, regiment commander. Before the Ba’athists stood to take an oath renouncing the party, Carman made it clear what taking the oath meant.
“This pledge is voluntary, there will be no payment, no promise of jobs,” he said.
Following the mass renouncement, Carman thanked the group for their support for the rebuilding of Iraq.
“I think that just as Iraq was once powerful, it’ll be powerful again,” Carman said. “Iraq has a bright future and America and other coalition countries will join Iraq as brothers.”
Earlier in the day there was another denunciation in Tal Abtah, south of the city of Mosul, hosted by 5th battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). That brings the total to four cities in northern Iraq that have held mass denunciations in cooperation with coalition forces.
CPA Announces $18 Billion Iraq Jobs, Reconstruction Program
WASHINGTON, Jan. 19, 2004 – A senior Coalition Provisional Authority official today announced an $18 billion jobs and reconstruction program for Iraq that aims to create 50,000 jobs by the June 30 handover of sovereignty.
The main purpose of the program "is to help rebuild your country," retired U.S. Navy Rear Adm. David Nash, director of the CPA's program management office, told Iraqis during a Baghdad news conference.
About $12.4 billion is earmarked for 2,300 construction projects spread across Iraq, Nash pointed out, to include roads, schools, power plants and other infrastructure work. Many projects funded by the program, he noted, should be up and running by March.
About a third of the $18 billion will be used for training Iraqis and purchasing needed equipment, he said.
The admiral noted that many contractors already had signed on, and that he hopes the program would provide 50,000 new jobs for Iraqis by the time the coalition returns sovereignty to the Iraqi people.
It would take three to four years, Nash estimated, to complete all of the projects funded by the program. He also noted that security would play an important role in the program's success.
Nash acknowledged that the U.S.-funded reconstruction program won't be able to address all of Iraq's infrastructure-renewal needs, but he expressed optimism that the international community also would pitch in toward the rebuilding process.
Iraqis participating in the reconstruction program will learn new skills, the admiral noted, and will assist Iraq in taking its rightful place among the nations of the world.
The program puts "Iraqi men and women back to work, providing decent, honorable jobs for all," Nash pointed out. "These jobs will bring the dignity of honest earnings to Iraqi families, while providing tangible improvements in the quality of life for all Iraqi families."
January 19, 2004
Joe's Iraq Briefing, Jan 19/04
Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. In addition, our "Winds of War" coverage of the global War on Terror is a separate breifing today.
* Spirit of America is loading medical & school supplies for Iraqi civilians on Jan. 21st at Camp Pendleton, and Armed Liberal is helping to coordinate the effort. If you're in the area, be there!
* Zeyad has an excellent post that discusses the Shi'ites and Sunnis in Iraq, their history, and the current situation.
* I haven't seen much coverage of this, but Iraq may be about to get its own 4-star U.S. Army Command, which ais a level equal to CENTCOM. It sounds technical, but if true it has very big implications for the whole region.
* Could the key to al-Awda's defeat in Iraq be... printing new money? It doesn't get much coverage, but Trent Telenko thinks the effect could be huge.
Other Topics Today Include: Baghdad blast; Foiled blasts; Anti-helicopter tactics; Body armor on the way; Marines learning Arabic; Sean Penn again; The CERP issue; Alaa's advice; Iraqi government maneuverings; Iraqi booze-runners; Liberal hawks reconsider Iraq; Who has troops there?; Saddam photos; Ba'ath poker; Support the Troops.
January 18, 2004
Large Weapons Cache Uncovered In AR Ramadi
RAMADI, Iraq – Members of Task Force “All-American” conducted cordon and search missions in western Ramadi last night to capture anti-Coalition forces identified in previous interrogations. In addition to the 23 personnel detained in the operations, two weapons caches, which were the largest found to date in Al Anbar province, were also captured.
At the first site, Coalition Forces found: three SA-7 missiles, 105 rocket-propelled grenades, 125 RPG boosters, 16 RPG launchers, two RPG sights, two 14.5 mm anti-aircraft machine guns with 3,000 rounds, one Belgian 7.62 mm machine gun, one MG-42 World War II German crew-served weapon, ten 7.62 mm machine guns with 18,800 rounds, two 7.62 mm sniper rifles, three spare 7.62 mm barrels, three 7.62 mm bipods, one .50 caliber machine gun with 700 rounds, three Russian RPK machine guns, 20,000 .22 caliber rounds, 500 .30 caliber rounds, 200 9 mm rounds, 2,300 5.56 mm rounds, 40 60 mm mortar rounds with two mortar tubes and four tripods, 15 82 mm mortar rounds with four mortar tubes, six fuses and three tripods, one mortar baseplate and two fragmentation grenades.
More on This Morning's Bombing [with photo]
Rich has some pictures, including this one of the crater the explosion left. Be sure to read the rest of Rich's post; there's a ton of interesting information he shares about Iraq.
CNN is reporting that the bomber(s) may have used innocent Iraqi citizens to pull this attack off:
A suicide bomber who killed nearly two dozen people in Baghdad on Sunday attempted to enter a heavily fortified zone around coalition headquarters and may have used eight unsuspecting Iraqis in the back of his truck to disguise his intentions, a security source told CNN.
Update on Car Bomb
The car bomb exploded near the main entrance leading to the U.S. military and civilian headquarters in Baghdad.
Almost all victims were Iraqi citizens; there are reports that among the dead are two American citizens, possible DoD workers.
At least 28 people, including six Americans, were wounded by the blast, which occurred at about 8 a.m. near the "Assassin's Gate" to Saddam Hussein's former Republican Palace complex, now used by the U.S.-led occupation authority for headquarters. The gate is used by hundreds of Iraqis employed by the Coalition Provisional Authority, the formal name of the U.S.-led occupation authorities, as well as U.S. military vehicles.
Fox TV is reporting that immediately after the bombing, American soldiers announced an offer of $25,000 and no questions asked for information on the attack.
Baghdad Homicide Bomber Kills 23
A homicide bomber who detonated at least a half-ton of explosives in his car killed at least 23 people - including possibly two Department of Defense workers - and injured another 60, CNN is reporting.
Said Paul Bremer, chief administrator of the Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority:
January 17, 2004
NCO Awarded For Stopping Attack At Checkpoint
Sgt. 1st Class David A. Ainslie of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart for his service during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Ainslie was wounded while conducting stability operations in Mosul, Iraq. His platoon established a vehicle checkpoint when the troops were attacked by Iraqi gunmen.
“I was run over by a vehicle and four other Soldiers were wounded during the attack,” Ainslee said. “We were able to stop the vehicle (and) shoot the gunmen before they were able to do more damage. We captured four rocket propelled grenades and four AK-47 assault rifles during the skirmish.”
While recovering from his injuries, Ainslie is serving as the rear detachment first sergeant for Company D, 3rd Battalion, 502nd Infantry of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky. LINK
Task Force “All American” continued operations in the Al Anbar province
At 9 a.m. this morning, elements of 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division identified an improvised explosive device north of Habbaniyah. Upon further analysis, the device was found to be four SA-3 warheads, each wrapped in approximately 45 pounds of TNT. Approaching traffic was stopped while an explosive ordnance disposal team disarmed the devices.
Last night at approximately 7 p.m. in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment’s area of operations, soldiers identified 36 explosions impacting near a border checkpoint. A quick reaction force conducted reconnaissance of the point of origin and observed a van traveling east. The force was engaged with two rocket-propelled grenades near the point of origin and the coalition forces returned fire, killing two enemy personnel. The unit subsequently conducted a cordon and search of a compound where the identified van stopped and captured six enemy personnel. They also confiscated an RPG launcher and a 62 mm Chinese rocket.
During the last 24 hours, Task Force “All American” conducted 213 patrols, to include 13 joint patrols, and cleared three weapons caches. LINK
RAKKASANS LEAVE; STRYKERS TAKE OVER
MOSUL, Iraq – The 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), handed over control of part of northwest Iraq today to the 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, in a ceremony outside the town of Tallafar.
Col. Michael Linnington, commander, 187th Inf. Rgt., relinquished control to Lt. Col. Buddy Carman, commander, 1st Squadron, 14th Cav. Rgt., during the relief in place ceremony in front of an audience of the leaders of the 101st, including Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, division commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Marvin L. Hill, division command sergeant major.
Since arriving in Iraq, the 3rd Brigade Rakkasans participated in many key battles during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Once major combat operations stopped, the Rakkasans made their way to northern Iraq and worked hard on stabilizing and rebuilding the region. They helped with local government elections, trained Iraqi military and police, and worked on several projects in the region, Gen. Petraeus said.
“(This) showed what could be done to improve the life of the Iraqi people by working with Iraqis of all tribes, ethnicities and religions,” Petraeus said.
The Rakkasans will soon be leaving for America, leaving the Stryker Brigade in charge of the area and completing projects.
Linnington thanked his soldiers for their exceptional duty and Iraqis for their help in restoring the country. “Today is a great day for the Rakkasan soldiers who are heading home to family and friends,” he said.
The incoming Carman spoke about his readiness to finish off where the 101st soldiers began.
“Thank you for your excellent work,” he told the Rakkasans. “We have our work ahead of us now. We’re up to the task and poised to complete this mission so that one-day we too will return to our families."
The departing soldiers are ready to get home to their families, and satisfied with the job they did to bring stability and peace to Iraq.
“It feels great,” said Sgt. Rickey Flagg, Charlie Company, 326th Engineer Battalion, attached to 3rd Bn. 187th Inf. Rgt. “I’ve been away a whole year and my wife had my first son on Aug. 13th.
“I think we’ve done a lot for these people. They’ve been oppressed for years and we came over here and helped them learn how to live independently,” he said.
U.S. Death Toll Tops 500
With the death of three U.S. soldiers this morning, the number of U.S. soldiers in Iraq passed the 500 mark.
In all, three U.S. soldiers and two Iraqi civil defense workers were killed by [this morning's] blast, and two other U.S. soldiers were wounded. That brought the total number of U.S. soldiers who've died since the beginning of the war to 500, of whom 346 died from hostile actions and 154 from non-hostile causes, according to the Defense Department. Most deaths have occurred since President Bush declared an end to major combat on May
CNN's Michael Holmes talked about the recent attack in an interview today:
HOLMES: Many of these roadside bombs are set off by remote control, not necessarily even wired. They are using things like car alarm transmitters to set off some of these bombs these days, and they can be set to anything, an old gas canister, even dead animals used to hide the bomb.
Five Killed by Roadside Bomb
Three U.S. soldiers and two Iraqi civil defense force members were killed Saturday morning when a powerful roadside bomb detonated north of Baghdad, splitting open the gun turret of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle they were traveling in, according to the 4th Infantry Division.
January 16, 2004
IAEA Confirms Yellowcake Found in Rotterdam Likely From Iraq
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — The U.N. nuclear watchdog confirmed Friday that Iraq was the likely source of radioactive material known as yellowcake that was found in a shipment of scrap metal at Rotterdam harbor.
Yellowcake, or uranium oxide, could be used to build a nuclear weapon, although it would take tons of the substance refined with sophisticated technology to harvest enough uranium for a single bomb.
A spokeswoman for the International Atomic Energy Agency said the Rotterdam specimen was scarcely refined at all from natural uranium ore and may have come from a known mine in Iraq that was active before the 1991 Gulf War.
"I wouldn't hype it too much," said spokeswoman Melissa Fleming. "It was a small amount and it wasn't being peddled as a sample."
The yellowcake was uncovered Dec. 16 by Rotterdam-based scrap metal company Jewometaal, which had received it in a shipment of scrap metal from a dealer in Jordan.
Company spokesman Paul de Bruin said the Jordanian dealer didn't know that the scrap metal contained any radioactive material. He said the dealer was confident the yellowcake, which was contained in a small steel industrial container, came from Iraq.
Jewometaal detected the radioactive material during a routine scan and called in the Dutch government, which in turn asked the IAEA to examine it.
Fleming said the agency will compare the chemical composition of the sample to other samples of ore taken from Iraq's al-Qaim mine, which was bombed in 1991 and dismantled in 1996-97.
She estimated that the Rotterdam sample contained around 5 pounds of uranium oxide.
President Bush came under heavy criticism last year when he asserted in his State of the Union address that Iraq was shopping in Africa for uranium yellowcake -- intelligence that turned out to be based on forged documents.
Coalition Forces in Iraq
At this time, 35 countries, in addition to the United States, have contributed a total of approximately 22,000 troops to ongoing stability operations in Iraq. These 34 are Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Georgia, Honduras, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Thailand, the Philippines, Romania, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.
Multi-National Division (South East) -- MND (SE) (U.K.)
* Headed by the U.K. it has several national contingents under its command, including the following:
Multi-National Division (Central South) -- MND (CS) (Polish)
* MND(CS) is headed by the Polish and has several national contingents under its command, including the following:
101st Airborne Redeployment
CAMP DOHA, Kuwait – The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), which landed in Kuwait in February 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, is beginning its 10,500-mile, three-month odyssey back home to Fort Campbell, Ky., with a massive transfer of troops and equipment by air and land.
Brig. Gen. Jeffery Schloesser, 101st Airborne Division assistant division commander (support), has overseen the division’s redeployment operations in Kuwait, which serves as the primary staging area for all equipment and personnel returning to the U.S. The 101st Airborne Division’s first redeployment convoys arrived shortly after the beginning of the new year and are currently washing their equipment, vehicles and just a few of the division’s 200-plus aircrafts that will be shrink-wrapped and sent back to Fort Campbell.
“This is the largest operational move of soldiers, Marines and Coalition Forces that anyone really remembers, and that goes all the way back to Normandy in World War II,” said Schloesser, who arrived in Kuwait from Iraq in late December.
Roughly 20,000 soldiers with or attached to the 101st Airborne Division are scheduled to be sent home by early March. Approximately 4,000 “Screaming Eagles” who aren’t essential to the redeployment of equipment through Kuwait will fly directly back to the United States from Iraq, with a stop in Incirlik, Turkey.
The next homes for the majority of the 101st Airborne Division, albeit briefly, will be Camps Doha, Udairi and Arifjan in Kuwait.
Around 6,000 vehicles and 1,600 containers will pass through the bases from the division. There the battle-tested soldiers are readying their vehicles and equipment for U.S. Customs inspections.
“If anybody could be prepared, we are prepared,” Schloesser remarked. “The Kuwaitis on post have bent over backwards for this. They have allowed us to reopen camps that were only open for the first part of the war back in the March-April time frame.
“They have allowed us to take a good amount of the commercial shipping port facilities that they have and dedicated them for our military and the same thing goes for their airports.”
Soldiers who think they are approaching the finish line will find one last steep mountain to climb. No vehicle can board the ship destined for Fort Campbell via Jacksonville, Fla., without having been thoroughly washed, a process that can take around six hours per vehicle.
“I’ve spent a lot of time on wash racks, on aircraft parking positions as well as on the base camps, and there is not a Screaming Eagle down here who is not motivated,” Schloesser said. “It’s natural as you come down and start washing things and cleaning up that actually you would start to lose a little bit of motivation. I have not yet seen that.”
In addition to washing out all foreign soil from U.S. equipment, helicopters must undergo a special “shrink wrap” process to protect their sensitive equipment from the ocean environment.
The aircraft that are going to go home through the port on the ships can be exposed to salt water. The division’s aviation units wrap their aircraft in the cocoon-like plastic wrap and suck the air out, giving the helicopters a protective plastic covering.
“It goes all around the aircraft, protects it from the salt water which could cause corrosion. If it’s going home via the ship – and a large number of our aircraft are, some two hundred – they’re going to be shrink-wrapped,” Schloesser said.
Aircrafts severely damaged in combat are considered a biohazard and will be properly disposed of in theater instead of going back to Fort Campbell, according to Schloesser. One issue that has been resolved is what the division will do with the makeshift armor and “Dohuk” weapon mounts the 101st soldiers have utilized to reinforce their vehicles in Iraq. The “Dohuk” mounts, named after the Iraqi town the division had contracted to manufacture the M249 stands, will be staying in theater to support the next rotation of Operation Iraqi Freedom units. Any protective armor welded onto the vehicles will go back to Fort Campbell; otherwise it will stay in Iraq.
A Demonstration of Support
Because most of the mainstream media believes that good news is no news when it comes to Iraq, you may have missed this one:
This morning at 10 a.m., a pro-coalition demonstration occurred in downtown Ar Ramadi. It was organized to demonstrate against terrorism and show support for the unity of Iraq. The group stopped at the Government Center and the organizers took pictures with the Mayor and Chief of Police as a show of public support for their Iraqi civic leaders. At its peak, the crowd reached approximately 1,000 people.
Photos of Saddam's Capture Surface
Though the Pentagon has not officially issued photos of the December 13 capture and they will not confirm the authenticity of these pictures, they are believed to be actual photos of Saddam's capture, his "hideout," and a box filled with U.S. currency.
The pictures have been circulating on the internet and the Pentagon, obviously, is not happy they have gotten out. Anonymous government officials have verified that the pictures are genuine.
You can see a gallery of the photos here.
January 15, 2004
Statement By Adnan Pachachi
Adnan Pachachi, president of the Iraqi Governing Council, held a news conference in Baghdad today as he prepares to lead a delegation to the U.N. His opening statement was in Arabic, but you may read an English translation here (via WaPo). Most of the statement is standard diplomatic expectation-setting, but I thought the following was interesting it that it reflects a slant not often reported in mainstream media:
I am not denying that there are a few differences in points of view in regards to the selection process of the members of the Transitional National Assembly. The differences are not related to the principles but the details, for we all agree that the best way to select the National Assembly is direct general elections, if it was possible to prepare for them and conducting them in a correct manner to include true representation at the will of the Iraqi people during the remaining short period to regain authority and sovereignty.
Iraqi Women Protest Proposed Law Changes
About 100 Iraqi women led by a minister protested in central Baghdad against a Governing Council proposal to scrap the secular family affairs code and place it under Muslim religious jurisdiction.
Link via Roger L. Simon, who says:
A horrible move is afoot in Iraq. A proposal is in front of the Governing Council to return the family affairs code back to religious jurisdiction. Naturally, Iraqi women are protesting this because we all know what Sharia means for equality of the sexes. It will virtually legislate misogyny, allowing men to summarily divorce their wives, etc.
Simon links to a Financial Times article that has more on this troubling development.
Progress in Iraq
Shias Protest in Basra
From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :
Tens of thousands of Iraqis have gathered outside the main Shia Mosque in the southern city of Basra to demand direct elections for the country's new authorities.
7 Insurgents Killed
From The Australian :
Seven Iraqis were killed by US soldiers in three separate incidents yesterday north of Baghdad, the US Army said today.
Dan's Iraq Report: Jan 15/04
Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's briefing is brought to you by Dan Darling of Regnum Crucis.
* Former Clinton NSC official Ken Pollack takes a look at what happened to Iraq's WMDs in a lengthy Atlantic Magazine article that should serve as required reading for everyone involved in both sides of the debate.
* Joe takes a look at the importance of understanding tribes when it comes to dealing with the Iraqi insurgents. In a related post, Art of Peace looks at the tribal dynamics behind the situation in Fallujah.
* The troops are still there. So is the (UPDATED) Winds of Change.NET consolidated directory of ways you can support the troops. That means American, Australian, British, Canadian and Polish troops... not to mention Iraqi and Afghan children. [updated January 15, 2004]
Other Topics Today Include: Rundown of attacks and counterattacks; Ba'ath Poker updates; Saddam a POW; New use for Saddam statues; Syria to return cash; No early elections; Germans noticing progress; More tests on mortar shells; The 'shipped to Syria' issue.
F.B.I. Director Calls Attack Quite Likely
From tomorrow's NYT:
The F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, said on Wednesday that terrorists would "quite probably" strike the United States again and that Al Qaeda remained a major threat despite the lowering of the nation's threat status last week.
January 14, 2004
No Chemical Agent in Iraq Mortar Shells
Tests by Danish and American experts indicate there is no chemical warfare agent in mortar shells unearthed in southern Iraq, but conclusive word will only come from a lab in Idaho. Earlier examinations had indicated a blister agent was in the shells, which apparently date to the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. The U.S.-led Iraq Survey Group conducted tests on five of 36 shells found Friday and all came up negative, the Danish army said Wednesday in a statement from Copenhagen. Those results contradicted Danish and British field tests that were positive for a blister agent. "Based on the tests, the experts conclude that none of the shells contain chemical warfare agents," the Danish army statement said, adding that more studies are needed for final confirmation.
Terrorists Planning Iraq Attack
The following is a transcript from Special Report With Brute Hume that aired last night on Fox.
BRIT HUME, HOST: The administration is not saying anything about this, and it is not even clear officials know anything about it. But some sources in Iraq are talking about a development that could prove an important turn in the search for weapons of mass destruction. For more on this we turn to the man who so often seems to know things before everybody else.
Fox News foreign affairs analyst Mansoor Ijaz, who joins us now from Berlin.
Mansoor, what's up?
MANSOOR IJAZ, FOX NEWS FOREIGN POLICY ANALYST: Well, Brit, what I have learned in the last 24 hours is that about three days ago in the northern part of Iraq, a convoy of trucks and jeeps and cars was brought across from Iran where some of the Kurdish Peshmergah -- these are these Kurdish rebels that are sort of like Mujahideen, if I may put it that way, from the old Afghan War.
They intercepted one of those trucks that were carrying a large warhead that had extremely sophisticated plastic -- C- 4 plastic explosives in it. And when the driver of that truck was put under interrogation, he then admitted that as many -- there were a total of 30 warheads that apparently were scheduled to come across.
One of them got caught, and 29 made it across somehow or the other. Of those 29, we are told now that somewhere between six and 12 of them may have, in fact, been laden with chemical explosives that would be then attached to a rocket of some sort inside Iraq that's already there in a separate convoy. And that those warheads would then be exploded over, for example, an encampment near the Coalition Provisional Authority (search) or something like that.
Now, what alarmed me about this and the reason that I felt it was necessary to get this out as soon as possible, is because I have now heard three times in the last week, from separate sources that I have been talking to that something big is being planned for Baghdad. In which the idea that is being put forward is to kill as many as 3,000 to 5,000 people at one shot; something that would be similar to a World Trade Center (search) type of attack. In that part of the world, the only way you could get that done is if you launched a massive chemical or biological attack.
HUME: Now, talk to me a little bit about the Kurdish forces who were involved in this event. Are these -- are they friendly to the United States and the coalition? Are they not? And what -- you know, and how credible are they?
IJAZ: Yes. It's a good question. The strange thing here is that what I have been told is that the sources that got this information out, what they saw on the ground physically going on is that the Kurdish leaders that had -- the Kurdish rebels that had caught this guy had taken the warhead and were actually trying to sell it back to the Iranians along with their silence. Because there's something else going on here that's of a larger political nature.
We now know that during the past week, the reformists in Iran have been pummeled and stopped from allowing their candidates to be fielded for the upcoming elections. We also know that there is, as we have said here before about a month and a half, two months ago, that there is a wintertime offensive being prepared with the help of the Iranian and Revolutionary Guard in Afghanistan, maybe with the help of Al Qaeda, maybe even bin Laden, al Zawahiri, and people like that who, as we've said here before, are in Iran right now.
And at the same time, they're trying to launch something in Iraq. The idea of which would be the wag the dog scenario, where if your domestic politics, you can't fix it, and it's getting too much pressure under honor the mullahs in Iran right now. Better to start the fire and ratchet it up a notch on both sides outside, both in Afghanistan and Iraq at the same time.
HUME: Now, how great a likelihood do you believe that you are finding this out or others finding this out, and it getting out, will have on it actually happening?
IJAZ: Well, I think the first thing we've got to do is go and talk to those Kurdish rebels and find out where the heck those other convoy trucks went. The second thing that we need to do, and I talked with General McInerney earlier this evening to determine what the range is, what type of warheads would be used and how these things could be put together. He made a very strong recommendation, and I agree with that, that we need to get Global Hawk One back in theater. Because if these things...
HUME: That thing out of there now?
IJAZ: ... these chemical warheads were attached -- they are out of there right now, and they're not in theater. And the trouble is that they're in desolate areas in which these rockets could be launched from.
And remember, a chemical weapon, to have massive -- the most massive impact that it can have to have a midair burst. Which means that it needs to be launched from, let's say, 100 kilometers away or 50 kilometers away or 200 kilometers away.
These are areas that our people are just not, you know, focused on right now because we've got so much work to do in and around the urban areas in Iraq. So I think we need to get down to finding out where that convoy of 29 warheads are and do that immediately. And get our Kurdish friends to help us rather than trying to sell them back to the Iranians. That doesn't make any sense.
HUME: Oh, we've got just a few seconds left. The credible of your sources, your assessment?
IJAZ: They're unimpeachable. Again, I think they've been right all along. We'll find out in the coming days in a print report about the bin Laden story in great detail. Everything has been verified. We will see that.
HUME: Thank you Mansoor.
Top Baathist Captured
U.S. forces in Ramadi have captured a top Baathist -- number 54 on the most wanted list of Iraqi fugitives -- coalition officials announced Wednesday.
US Soldier Dies in Mosul
From The Australian :
An American soldier has died in a non-hostile incident in northern Iraq, the US military said today, raising the US death toll since the Iraq conflict began to 496.
Suicide Bombing in Baquba
From The Australian :
At least one person was killed and several were injured in a suicide car bombing at a police station in the centre of the restive Iraqi town of Baquba Wednesday, police said.
A British colonel, hailed for his impassioned speech to soldiers on the eve of last year's Iraq war but later accused of mistreating prisoners, is to quit the Army later this year, his wife has told a British newspaper.The complete text of Colonel Collins' speech is available.
We go to liberate, not to conquer....and much more.
Ba'ath Party Leaders Denounce Saddam, Terrorism
Former Ba'athist leaders in Northern Iraq are now with the program, according to the news out of Central Command:
No major media has yet reported on this meeting which, according to this write-up, seems to have been somewhat emotional and impassioned.
(Cross-posted at Late Final.)
Al-Douri Relatives Arrested
Could he be next?
Four relatives of the most-wanted member of Saddam Hussein's former regime were arrested during a raid by U.S. soldiers on Wednesday.
Counterinsurgency in Tribal Socieities
We've covered "Small Wars" before here on Winds of Change.NET, and also noted both the importance of Iraq's tribal structure and Lt. Col. Alan King's successes in dealing with many Iraqi tribes.
Tribal societies are always tricky for outsiders, and there are real implications for counterinsurgency wars under these conditions. Fortunately, the Brothers Judd blog has an excellent feature covering counterinsurgency generally, incl. experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you want to get a feel for what's happening on the ground, grasp the underlying challenges of counterinsurgency, then broaden your understanding, start right here.
January 13, 2004
al Qaeda Members Arrested in Iraq
Short news item on Fox:
As U.S. forces in Iraq faced hostile fire in the air and on the ground, raids in northern Iraq yielded several members of the Al Qaeda terror network, military sources told Fox News.
Apache Helicopter Crashes
A U.S. Apache crashed near Habbaniyah on Tuesday. All crew survived the crash, which was most likely caused by hostile fire.
January 12, 2004
Agent of a Foreign Power: "Spy" For Saddam Convicted In Chicago
The AP reports that a Palestinian-born Chicago man who published a community newspaper praising Saddam and denouncing the U.S. and Israel has been convicted under a federal law requiring agents of foreign governments to register with the U.S. government.
Prosecutors maintained that the Palestinian-born Dumeisi spied on Iraqi dissidents because he was desperate for money and admired Saddam Hussein as the only true friend of the Palestinian cause in the Mideast. They cited evidence of at least $3,000 in payments from the Iraqis to the debt-ridden publisher.
The story also quotes the U.S. Attorney for Chicago, Patrick J. Fitzgerald (also the lead prosecutor on the Valerie Plame investigation):
This sends an important message that people can't come to our country and spy on their fellow residents.
Army War College article says invasion of Iraq was 'strategic error'
From SFGate / AP:
A report published by the Army War College calls the Bush administration's war on terrorism unfocused and says the invasion of Iraq was "a strategic error."
Attacks Have Decreased Since Saddam's Capture
Attacks against coalition forces in Iraq have dropped 22% in the four weeks since Saddam Hussein's capture, military records show. U.S. military officers say the decline in attacks, after months of growing intensity, is the first proof that Saddam's capture and recent U.S. offensives have dampened, but not eliminated, resistance to the occupation.
Andrew's Winds of War: Jan 12/04
Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted dot com.
* Up to half of the candidates for Iran's parliamentary elections have been barred from next month's elections, prompting a number of serving ministers to stage a sit-in in protest. President Mohammad Khatami says he will hold talks with the Guardian Council in hopes of reversing the decision. If Khatami fails, it could lead to his resignation; this showdown will have significant effects on the future direction of Iran's politics. (Hat tip: Instapundit).
Other Topics Today Include: OIF II kicks off; Iraqis riot for jobs; America claims it has proof of Russian perfidy; and the Dutch may have found a few of Saddam's WMDs; Why the war is important; Syria; Uzbekistan; North Korea.
Japan Sends Troops to Iraq
Japan's decision to send forces to Iraq is a "historic move," said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers during a press conference here today.
Soldier Killed in Bombing
A U-S soldier has been killed and two wounded in a roadside bombing in the Iraqi capital today.
January 11, 2004
In Blow to U.S. Plans, Top Shiite Demands Direct Elections
Hmm. There always seems to be someone who doesn't want to follow the script. From NYT:
In a blow to White House plans for a smooth handover of power to an Iraqi transitional government by July 1, the most influential Shiite cleric in Iraq said today that members of an interim assembly had to be chosen through direct elections.
Iraqis Serious About Security
This story out of Central Command:
An Iraqi also did this:
For the time being, there are now more reports of Iraqis thwarting terrorist acts in their own country than of Iraqis or al Qaeda pulling them off.
(Cross-posted at Late Final.)
Frontline Dispatch: The Capture of Saddam
A PBS Frontline crew in Iraq has been posting online dispatches from the field. The latest is up, and it covers, among other things, the reaction in a Nasiriya cafe to the capture of Saddam Hussein:
Isra'a is in disbelief. "It's not confirmed, but he is saying that an Iranian channel claims Saddam has been captured near Tikrit."Not so, it seems. Read the rest here.
Pass The Link
Reader Pass The Gas noted this first-person Iraq account by Rocky Mountain News writer Bill Johnson in our comments. It's an interesting counterpart to the Nagl article below (although Johnson is not, by any stretch, a Rhodes scholar with a Ph.D. in counterinsurgency). That said, his opinion counts as much as the next person, and you should give it a read.
Tests Indicate Blister Agents in Shells
[Follow-up to this story]
Preliminary tests indicate that the shells do contain or have contained blister agents.
Officials are hesitant to release any specific findings yet as some previous weapons found in Iraq were thought to contain mustard gas and didn't.
Ali Nimir, a former colonel in a Republican Guard artillery unit, said: "I remember seeing boxes of these kinds of armaments in our base two years ago. We were told that they were chemical weapons.
So, you may be thinking; Would the use of gas in a terrorist attack really be that big of a deal? If these shells are definitely found to contain nerve agents, how much does it matter?
January 10, 2004
A MUST Read: Professor Nagl's War
For / against, it's about the peace / it's about the oil, Capt. Spin / PTG ... whatever your view, this NY Times Magazine account of Maj. John Nagl's experience in the Sunni Triangle is required reading.
Adding to the compelling nature of the piece: In addition to serving as third in command of his tank battalion, Nagl is West Point grad, Rhodes scholar, Gulf War vet, Bronze Star recipient, and has a Ph.D. from St. Antony's College, the leading school of foreign affairs at Oxford, in counterinsurgency.
This is a long article ... 13 web pages ... and requires the free NYT registration. But trust me: it's the first Must Read of 2004.
Invasion Was On Agenda Pre-Sept 11: Ex-Treasury Secretary
From the headline at The Age, which I have in the title above, this sounds like a smoking gun against the Iraq invasion as a post-Sept. 11th reaction. Reading the article, it's not quite so direct. It seems former Treasury Sec. Paul O'Neill has told CBS News that:
"From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," O'Neill told the CBS television program 60 Minutes.More interesting is this:
Bush took office in January 2001 - and in his first three months in power, officials were already looking at military options to remove Saddam from power, according to documents that O'Neill and other White House insiders gave author Ron Suskind.Make of this what you will. For the record, Bush fired O'Neill in December 2002 for publicly speaking out against the Bush tax cut plan.
Update on Weapons Find
The story has been picked up by most major news sites/stations.
Some of the major details:
There were 36 mortar shells found in a swampy area.
Though the mortars - if they contain blister agents - can be considered WMDs, they are most likely leftovers from the Iran-Iraq war that ended in 1988.
Six killed in Iraqi protest
British troops and Iraqi police fired into a crowd of armed, stone-throwing protesters in this southern city, killing six people and wounding 11, according to witnesses and officials.
"Chemical Weapons" found in Iraq - BBC
Danish troops have found dozens of mortar rounds in southern Iraq which could contain chemical weapons according to initial tests.As always, take initial reports with a grain of salt.
Russian Arms in Iraq
US officials have found evidence corroborating White House allegations that Russian companies sold Saddam Hussein high-tech military equipment that threatened US forces during the invasion of Iraq last March, a senior State Department official said yesterday.
Putin denies it all.
January 09, 2004
Saddam Given POW Status
US officials say the ousted Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, is being treated as an "enemy prisoner of war". A Pentagon spokesman said he was given the status as he was the leader of the "old regime's military forces".
Saddam Hussein has been given the status of "enemy prisoner of war."
Because Saddam is being treated as a POW, he can be brought to trial for war crimes. It also means that his treatment falls underThe Geneva Conventions, rules of which can be found here.
While the news has been confirmed by Pentagon lawyers, Colin Powell is claiming he knows nothing about it.
UPDATE: CNN now has the story.
Faces of Valor
Kimberly Hampton was an only child who wanted to be a pilot since she was young, her parents said. She grew up in Easley and wrote a paper for her third grade class that described how she had always wanted to fly, they said.
Thanks to Ed of Rook's Blog for the link.
Senior Syrian journalist reports Iraq’s WMD located in three Syrian sites
Via the DEBKA file website.
* * *
Nizar Najoef, a Syrian journalist who recently defected from Syria to Western Europe and is known for bravely challenging the Syrian regime, said in a letter Monday, January 5, to Dutch newspaper “De Telegraaf,” that he knows the three sites where Iraq’s WMD are kept. The storage places are:
1. Tunnels dug under the town of al-Baida near the city of Hama in northern Syria. These tunnels are an integral part of an underground factory, built by the North Koreans, for producing Syrian Scud missiles. Iraqi chemical weapons and long-range missiles are stored in these tunnels.
2. The village of Tal Snan, north of the town of Salamija, where there is a big Syrian airforce camp. Vital parts of Iraq’s WMD are stored there.
3. The city of Sjinsjar on the Syrian border with the Lebanon, south of the city Homs.
Najoef writes that the transfer of Iraqi WMD to Syria was organized by the commanders of Saddam Hussein’s Special Republican Guard, including General Shalish, with the help of Assif Shoakat , Bashar Assad’s cousin. Shoakat is the CEO of Bhaha, an import/export company owned by the Assad family.
In February 2003, a month before America’s invasion in Iraq, DEBKAfile and DEBKA-Net-Weekly were the only media to report the movement of Iraqi WMD, the efforts to bring them from Iraq to Syria, and the personal involvement of Bashar Assad and his family in the operation.
Najoef, who has won prizes for journalistic integrity, says he wrote his letter because he has terminal cancer.
* * *
Six Killed in Mosque Blast
At least six people have been killed and dozens injured by a bomb blast at a Shi'ite mosque in the Iraqi town of Baquba.
Massive Raid in Tikrit: 30 Iraqia in Custody
In one of the biggest raids since the end of major combat in the war in Iraq, U.S. forces detained 12 suspected anti-American attackers and 18 others in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit.
January 08, 2004
Powell: No Smoking Gun Showing Terrorist Ties
The song remains the same. From NewsMax:
Secretary of State Colin Powell acknowledged Thursday that he had seen no "smoking gun, concrete evidence" of ties between Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaida terror network, but insisted that Iraq had had dangerous weapons and needed to be disarmed by force.Here's the link to the full text of the secretary's remarks at the Department of State.
Military Team Seeking WMD Pulled Out Of Iraq
From the Guardian:
The Pentagon has pulled out a 400-strong military team which was searching Iraq for weapons of mass destruction, but US officers insisted yesterday that the hunt would go on."The hunt will go on."
C-5 Hit by SAM at Baghdad
FOX News (broadcast)
A C-5 was hit in one engine by a surface-to-air missile at Baghdad Airport. The aircraft returned safely to the airport with no injuries
Dan's Iraq Report: Jan 8/03
Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. In addition, we also have our global war on terror roundup. Today's briefings are brought to you by Dan Darling of Regnum Crucis.
* The 82nd Airborne Division has captured 13 in al-Anbar province, while the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment has captured Abu Mohammed, a key facilitator and financier of foreign fighters. Further raids in al-Anbar are said to have led to the capture of 128 suspects.
* US forces inside Iraq have uncovered another mass grave containing the remains of 800 Shi'ites killed in the 1991 uprising against Saddam Hussein.
* For those of you just joining us, I have an analysis of recent events that have been largely ignored by Western media outlets in Dagestan, Thailand, Nigeria, and Iraq.
Other Topics Today Include: An Iraqi interpreter's story; New Years Eve bombing; Capture in Mosul; 2nd Iraqi battalion on the way; Kirkuk tensions; Financial and legal developments; WMDs; Ba'ath poker update; Support the troops; Toy drive.
Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction Are Being Hidden In Syria
* * *
A relative of Syrian President Bashar Assad is hiding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction in three locations in Syria, according to intelligence sources cited by an exiled opposition party.
The weapons were smuggled in large wooden crates and barrels by Zu Alhema al-Shaleesh, known for moving arms into Iraq in violation of U.N. resolutions and for sending recruits to fight coalition forces, said the U.S.-based Reform Party of Syria.
The party, based in Potomac, Md., regards itself as a secular body comprised of Syrians who want to see the country embrace "real democratic and economic reforms."
One weapons-cache location identified by the sources is a mountain tunnel near the village of al-Baidah in northwest Syria, the report said. The tunnel is known to house a branch of the Assad regime's national security apparatus.
Two other arms supplies are reported to be in west-central Syria. One is hidden at a factory operated by the Syrian Air Force, near the village of Tal Snan, between the cities of Hama and Salmiyeh. The third location is tunnels beneath the small town of Shinshar, which belongs to the 661 battalion of the Syrian Air Force.
The nephew of Zu Alhema al-Shaleesh, Assef al-Shaleesh, runs Al Bashair Trading Co., a front for the Assad family involved prior to the war in oil smuggling from Iraq and arms smuggling into the country. Al-Bashair has offices in Damascus, Beirut and Baghdad.
In an exclusive interview yesterday with the London Telegraph, Assad came close to admitting his country possessed stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.
Assad told the London paper Syria rejects American and British demands for concessions on weapons of mass destruction, insisting Damascus is entitled to defend itself by acquiring its own chemical and biological deterrent.
He said Israel must agree to abandon its undeclared nuclear arsenal in order for Syria to consider any deal with the U.S.
Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported Al Bashair Trading Co. participated in the smuggling of millions of dollars worth of sophisticated arms and equipment to Saddam Hussein for three years prior to the Iraqi leader's overthrow.
Al Bashair executives met with North Korean firms before the war began, according to the Los Angeles daily. The paper's three-month investigation included the translation of 800 signed contracts found in the Al Bashair Trading Co. office shortly before U.S. troops entered Baghdad.
Just prior to the U.S.-led effort to oust Hussein, SES International Corp. signed at least 50 contracts to supply weapons and gear to Iraq, the Times said, including 1,000 heavy machine guns and up to 20 million rounds for assault rifles.
Not all the weapons were delivered, but some may still be in use by terrorists battling the U.S. occupation forces, the newspaper said.
At least one shipment of arms was completed with the help of the Syrian government in violation of a U.N. arms embargo.
SES International Corp. denied any wrongdoing, while Syria's foreign ministry refused to comment to the Times.
* * *
This is a story that has been percolating for some time. See, for example, related stories which have appeared at the Lebanese Foundation for Peace website, the NTI website, the U.S. Department of State website, the International Herald Tribune website, and in many other diverse outlets, such as the DEBKA file website and this South African television news website - News24.
Hat-tip to Mark at The Command Post for the DEBKA files tie-in.
In an extensive article published in the Los Angeles Times on December 30, 2003, staff writers Bob Drogin and Jeffrey Fleishman detailed some of the complex weapons-shipping relationships between Iraq and Syria:
* * *
DAMASCUS, Syria — A Syrian trading company with close ties to the ruling regime smuggled weapons and military hardware to Saddam Hussein between 2000 and 2003, helping Syria become the main channel for illicit arms transfers to Iraq despite a stringent U.N. embargo, documents recovered in Iraq show.
The private company, called SES International Corp., is headed by a cousin of Syria's autocratic leader, Bashar Assad, and is controlled by other members of Assad's Baath Party and Alawite clan. Syria's government assisted SES in importing at least one shipment destined for Iraq's military, the Iraqi documents indicate, and Western intelligence reports allege that senior Syrian officials were involved in other illicit transfers.
* * *
The Iraqi weapons files provide the first public evidence of Syria's extensive arms trade with Hussein's regime.
Most of Iraq's known arms smuggling schemes in the 1990s went through Jordan. Many involved "one man, one fax" offices set up by Iraqi agents or local businessmen for a specific deal. By 1998, U.N. inspectors had identified 146 Jordanian companies operating as fronts for Iraq.
Heavy pressure from Washington and other capitals finally forced Jordan's government to crack down.
Neighboring Syria, in contrast, had fought with the U.S.-led coalition against Iraq in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and had no known role supporting Iraq in the 1990s. Neither SES nor any other Syrian company is listed in confidential U.N. records that identify more than 350 companies from 43 nations that U.N. inspectors suspect helped supply prohibited unconventional weapons materiel to Iraq prior to 1998.
But the crippling of Iraq's smuggling rings in Jordan coincided with a dramatic change in Syria. The country's strongman, Hafez Assad, had been a bitter rival of Hussein for most of his three-decade reign. But the Damascus dictator died in June 2000 and his son, Bashar Assad, assumed power. Syria's long-frozen relations with Iraq soon began to thaw.
In November 2000, a newly repaired pipeline from Basra in southern Iraq began carrying 150,000 to 200,000 barrels a day of discounted oil to Syria. Another pipeline to Syria from northern Iraq opened in 2002 to carry another 60,000 barrels a day.
The flow was outside the U.N.-run "oil for food" program, which allowed Iraq to export oil to buy food, medicine and humanitarian items. Experts say Syria kept the contraband Iraqi oil for domestic use, sold its own oil at higher prices on world markets and pocketed profits of up to $1 billion a year.
In return, diplomats and intelligence experts say, Baghdad got easy access to weapons and so many smuggled goods that it opened a trade office in Tartus, Syria's chief port. Baghdad also got access to the outside world: Iraqi officials, often holding counterfeit passports, increasingly used the airport in Damascus to fly abroad.
"Syria became the most important ally for Iraq in the region, and helped it come out of its global isolation," said a Washington-based diplomat. "Damascus became the gateway for Iraq."
Experts say money may have mattered more than politics in the new alliance.
"It was purely a matter of opportunity" for Syria, said an intelligence official in the region. "I don't think empathy for Iraq came into it. It was like, 'This is going to make me lots of money and I don't mind if it hurts the Americans a little bit either.' "
Among those who prospered was SES International Corp., a conglomerate of nine aviation, construction, oil, car and other divisions based in an industrial area on the northeast outskirts of Damascus.
SES was founded in 1980. According to company documents, it has about $80 million in annual revenue and 5,000 employees. It is run by a small group of businessmen and other powerful figures with family or clan ties to the Assad regime.
Prominent among them is the president's cousin Asef Isa Shaleesh, the general manager of SES. He is the son of the late dictator's half sister. Another relative, Maj. Gen. Dhu Himma Shaleesh, heads the elite security corps that protects the president. He recently told Western diplomats that he had sold his stake in SES, but they were unable to confirm his claim.
Records reviewed by The Times show Asef Isa Shaleesh, the SES manager, made at least four trips to the Al Bashair offices in Baghdad between September 2001 and August 2002 to sign or update more than 50 SES contracts to supply Iraq's military.
Contract #23/A/2001, for example, was for SES delivery to Iraq of Russian-designed heavy machine guns.
"The Iraqis have confirmed their reception of 1,000 pieces, according to the contract," meeting notes from Nov. 11, 2001 read. "The Iraqi side is in the process of paying the Syrians for a second delivery of 500 pieces of Machines Gun BKC."
Syria's Foreign Ministry helped SES at least once, according to minutes of meetings between Asef Isa Shaleesh and Munir, the Al Bashair director, on April 7-8, 2002.
Four precision metal lathes from HMT Machines International Ltd. in Bangalore, India, had "arrived in Baghdad," the notes said, but customs officials in Malta had seized others destined for Iraq. Documents show that Syria was listed as the final destination, and do not indicate that HMT knew the lathes were headed for Iraq's military. It's unclear what Syria's government knew.
* * *
Reached by telephone, Asef Isa Shaleesh, the general manager of SES, initially invited a Times reporter visiting Damascus to his office for an interview the next day. But an aide said the next day that Shaleesh "had unexpectedly gone to Romania" and later went to Russia. He has not replied since to numerous telephone calls, e-mails and faxes.
Western intelligence had traced some of the SES deals by mid-2002, two years after they began, With reports indicating illicit transfers into Iraq, the U.S. Embassy complained to the government in Damascus that summer. Assad replied that Syria would not violate U.N. sanctions.
"The president said, 'If you know of any cases, tell us,' " a Western official recalled. When evidence was provided, he added, "the Syrians would allege that that's been stopped."
No evidence has surfaced to show that Assad approved the SES deals with Iraq. But "sanctions-busting at this level would have been hard to keep from the president," a Western intelligence official said. An official from another government agreed. "We think it very unlikely that Bashar was not aware of this," he said.
He noted that two North Koreans flew to SES headquarters in Damascus in February 2003, a month before the war, to meet Munir, the director of Al Bashair.
"A North Korean is not a tourist," the official said. "Either Syria gave direct approval. Or it turned a blind eye."
IAEA inspectors reconstructed a report of the meeting from an erased computer hard drive that they had downloaded at Al Bashair in March. The sit-down at SES apparently focused on Pyongyang's inability to deliver $10 million of sophisticated ballistic missile technology — and its flat refusal to return the $10 million.
"The North Koreans said, 'It's too hot to refund your money,' " an official familiar with the report said.
* * *
Western intelligence reports allege that several Syrian officials or their adult children were involved in shipments of tank engines, treads for armored personnel carriers, fuel pumps for missiles and other military equipment to Iraq.
One Syrian named in an intelligence report as a "key player" is Firas Tlass, head of MAS Economic Group, a business conglomerate based in Damascus. In an interview, Tlass said his companies had shipped textiles, computers and steel bars to Iraq since the late 1990s. But he said Israeli intelligence had spread false reports that he also sold weapons.
"I'm the son of the Syrian defense minister and we're Israel's enemy and they want to discredit the Syrian government and my father," Tlass said. "The only offer my company ever made to the Iraqi military was camouflage field jackets and they turned us down."
Syria's arms trade hit the headlines in March this year when Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld publicly accused Damascus of smuggling night-vision goggles and other military supplies to Iraq. He said Washington viewed "such trafficking as hostile acts and would hold the Syrian government accountable."
Syria's foreign minister called the charge "unfounded" and "an attempt to cover up what his forces have been committing against civilians in Iraq."
Damascus has sought to repair relations. Washington has praised Syria's assistance in rounding up suspected members of Al Qaeda since the Sept. 11 attacks. But President Bush signed a bill Dec. 12 barring export of military and dual-use items — equipment that could have civilian and military uses — to Syria until the White House certifies that Damascus has withdrawn troops from Lebanon, has cut support for Hamas and other terrorist groups, has stopped proscribed missile and chemical and biological weapons programs, and has acted to prevent militants from entering Iraq to attack coalition forces.
In contrast, the companies that knew the weapons and other sensitive supplies they sold to SES actually were destined for Iraq — a clear violation of U.N. sanctions — have faced little pressure. South Korea's Armitel Co. Ltd. is an example.
A 1998 spinoff from giant Samsung Electronics, Armitel develops and manufactures digital microwave systems for wireless communications. It is based in a high-tech industrial complex south of Seoul.
Armitel had signed contracts in 2001 and 2002 with SES totaling $23,431,487, the Iraqi files said.
On April 7, 2002, for example, Armitel's chairman inked a $1,859,862.18 contract with SES for "optical transmission, channel bank and auxiliary items."
But records labeled "secret" in the Al Bashair files show the Armitel equipment was "connected with the supply of air defense" and that the real buyer was the Salahaddin Co., based in northern Iraq, which was trying to develop a radar system to detect U.S. stealth bombers.
In an interview, Lee Dae Young, the 50-year-old chairman of Armitel, said he knew his equipment was headed to Iraq despite U.N. sanctions. But he said he thought he was helping Baghdad upgrade telephone and Internet service.
"We sold Iraq an optical cable system," Lee said. "Actually, now that this is over, I can tell you. We sold it to Syrians and they took it to Iraq."
Armitel had sent $8 million worth of equipment to Syria when U.S. intelligence got wind of the shipments in mid-2002. After the U.S. Embassy in Seoul complained, South Korea's Ministry of Commerce ordered Armitel to stop further shipments. An investigation was begun but Armitel was not charged. The company recently submitted proposals to the U.S.-controlled Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad for contracts to build a telecommunications network from Baghdad to Basra.
* * *
Black Hawk Crash Kills 8
A Black Hawk helicopter on a Medivac mission went down in Fallujah, killing all eight soldiers on board - four crew members and four passengers.
No cause for the crash has been determined yet.
January 07, 2004
FOX News: 35 injured in mortar attack
At 5:32 p.m. EST, FOX news is reporting six mortars fired at a coalition location with 35 injured, one soldier possibly dead.
We're Sorry, We Meant to Kill You
Afghanistan's ousted Taliban apologized Wednesday for a bomb attack in the southern city of Kandahar that killed 16 people, including many children, and called it a botched attempt to target U.S. troops....." It was a mistake by our mujahideen (holy warriors)," senior Taliban commander Mullah Sabir Momin said by satellite telephone.
Sometimes "sorry" just doesn't cut it.
Another Mass Grave
U.S. forces in Iraq have discovered another mass grave in Iraq believed to contain the bodies of hundreds of Shiite Muslims slain by toppled President Saddam Hussein's forces in 1991, a senior U.S. defense official said on Tuesday.
Link from Glenn Reynolds who summed it up succintly: It's good that they found it. It's bad that it's there.
Prisoners to be released in Iraq
From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :
The US-led coalition will release 100 people from Iraqi prisons tomorrow and hundreds more in coming weeks.
A New General for Iraq?
From the BBC via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :
The Pentagon is considering appointing a more senior general to its mission in Iraq to help oversee security issues.
January 06, 2004
Daily Iraq Roundup
The Iraqi Governing Council has come up with a plan for a new government. A key dispute is developing over how much autonomy the Kurds will be allowed. For the moment, the Kurds are being allowed to govern themselves as they have for the last 13 years. Everyone agrees there will be a parliament and democracy, with the 18 provinces allowed more autonomy than in the past. The challenge will be to come up with a form of government that will not lead to a coup and another dictator in 5-10 years.No kidding.
Ambushes, including roadside bombs, have become smaller and less frequent. There were 250 of them in November, 200 in December and the trend continues. The amount of explosives (often several artillery and mortar shells rigged to explode) has declined to the point were many of the bombs do little damage unless a vehicle is right next to it. Raids have seized a lot of bomb making material over the last few months. Better scouting and surveillance by American troops has caused the bombers to place their explosives among civilians, but this usually just hurts more Iraqis than Americans. The supply convoys are only attacked once or twice a day, and usually without much effect. Most of the ambushes are of combat patrols or civil affairs troops going about their business (visiting local Iraqi leaders and aid projects.)I don't doubt this assessment, but wonder upon what it is based. My guess is that opinion polling in Iraq is largely non-existent, and certainly unreliable in any case.
Cross-posted from OTB
Graduation Day For New Iraqi Soldiers
The Coalition Provisonal Authority says 691 members of the second battalion of the new Iraqi army are graduating today:
It's still a far cry from the world's fourth-largest military, but it seems to be a tangible step toward the Iraqization of the military there.
January 05, 2004
Osama bin Laden released another audio tape in which he denounced Saddam Hussein for getting captured alive and urged Moslems to go to Iraq to fight America. Al Qaeda is being perceived more and more as a hollow organization that talks big and acts ineffectively. Al Qaeda attacks in Iraq have killed far more Iraqis than Americans. In fact, al Qaeda has not been able to make another attack in the US since 2001, and has suffered many humiliating reverses since then.Hmm. Either the women are more careful. . . or fewer of them are in combat arms specialties.
Cross-post from OTB
January 04, 2004
New bin Laden Tape Refers to the Capture of Saddam
Al-Jazeera television is broadcasting what is said to be a new audio tape of Osama bin Laden.
US Probe Lands On Mars, Begins Search For WMD
This is, of course, satire:
"Seems like somebody doesn't want us poking around up there," said Mr. Rumsfeld.Read more at DeadBrain.
Saddam’s Capture: Was A Deal Brokered Behind The Scenes?
This story persists, here in Scotland's Sunday Herald.
According to one Israeli source who was in the company of Kurds at a meeting in Athens early on December 14, one of the Kurdish representatives burst into the conference room in tears and demanded an immediate halt to the discussions.Read the article.
CIA Setting Up secret Iraqi Police To Combat Saddam Loyalists
So reads the Albawaba headline.
According to the report, the force will cost up to $3 billion over the next three years in money allocated from the same part of the federal budget that finances the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).The story also notes that the CIA has 275 officers on the ground in Iraq.
Note that this story is reported widely ... I thought the Mid-East link would offer the most interesting reading.
Iraq’s Governing Council President Endorses Federalism
The do so "in principle," but he also counselled the country’s Kurds, eager for virtual autonomy, to be patient and not rush the issue. Why this is important:
Pachachi, a member of Iraq’s Sunni Muslim minority, committed himself to a federal framework that would most probably grant the Kurds virtual autonomy in the north and similar liberties to Iraq’s Shiite majority in the south.Read more at the Khaleej Times.
Blair Makes Visit to Iraq
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has made an unannounced visit to British troops in Basra, Iraq.
Rumors that he brought a fake turkey with him are false.
Blair Rallies Troops On Surprise Iraq Visit
Blair pulls a G.W., visiting Basra unannounced. Read more here via Reuters.
January 03, 2004
Accounts From The Front
A non-news item for a change: Today I stumbled across this site by Marine Lt. Colonel Chris Lorenzo … it’s worth visiting for the travelogues filed from Afghanistan and Iraq, and for the large number of pictures taken from the field.
1 Killed in Mortar Attack
From the AFP, via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :
One US soldier was killed and two wounded in a mortar attack on a US base in a town north of the Iraqi capital on Friday, a US military spokesman said on Saturday.
From The Australian :
Insurgents derailed a train in western Iraq, hitting it with a rocket-propelled grenade, a US military statement said today.
More Ba'athists Give In
"They're coming to us, saying they want to be part of the new Iraq," Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus said Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press. "It has slowly sunk in that Saddam isn't coming back."Hat Tip : Instapundit
Tales Of The Tyrant
In May 2002 the Atlantic published a fascinating, detailed account of Saddam Hussein's daily life during his reign. They've reposted it in conjunction with Hussein's capture, and you may read the article here. A sample:
Fresh food is flown in for him twice a week—lobster, shrimp, and fish, lots of lean meat, plenty of dairy products. The shipments are sent first to his nuclear scientists, who x-ray them and test them for radiation and poison. The food is then prepared for him by European-trained chefs, who work under the supervision of al Himaya, Saddam's personal bodyguards. Each of his more than twenty palaces is fully staffed, and three meals a day are cooked for him at every one; security demands that palaces from which he is absent perform an elaborate pantomime each day, as if he were in residence. Saddam tries to regulate his diet, allotting servings and portions the way he counts out the laps in his pools. For a big man he usually eats little, picking at his meals, often leaving half the food on his plate.
Luckiest Guys in Iraq
I stopped into my office about an hour ago to get some things I needed for my trip on Sunday. I opened my e-mail and had an e-mail from HQ.An ex-Soviet pattern 130mm HE round has about 3.5 Kg of explosive in a 33 Kg projectile, if memory serves. Enough to demolish a medium-sized house, disintegrate a light tank, or make a decent-sized crater.
January 02, 2004
Operation "Iron Grip"
From The Australian :
Heavy artillery and cannon fire rocked Iraq's wartorn capital today in an extension of a week-old US counter-insurgency offensive.There had been some previous data about this, but nothing that gave enough details so we could report it. Here's one dated Christmas Eve from a Command Post reader, "somewhere in Iraq":
I would like to have passed on the news that all is quiet here as we approach this holiest of nights. Sadly that is not the case, it was always going to an opportunity for the bad guys to give the media some "Bad News".
...And Two Pictures of Saddam Hussein
3RD BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM CAPTURES 34 SUSPECTS
One Dead in Iraq Helicopter Incident
A U.S. military helicopter was shot down west of Baghdad on Friday, killing one soldier and wounding another, the U.S. military said.
From the latest StrategyPage update:
Some 65 kilometers north of Baghdad, a thousand U.S. troops and about 400 Iraqi police conducted a series of raids to round up rebels. American troops captured nine of the eleven rebel leaders being sought while Iraqi police picked up at least 16 men who had participated in attacks on Americans and Iraqis. Several weapons caches were also seized. These operations leave the Iraqis somewhat in awe of American military prowess. That's because U.S. troops prefer to operate at night, where convoys of armored vehicles and trucks can move rapidly down roads with no lights on. The troops use their night vision goggles to see the road, but to any Iraqis, it's just these dark shapes hurtling through the night. Even scarier is the precision with which the troops appear to operate. The vehicles surround a village or large compound and dozens of American troops dismount, each one quickly going about a specific task. No shouting (many troops use personal radios or hand signals), and no milling around. And no lights. If the people the troops are looking for try to escape out a back door, American troops swiftly cut them off and arrest them, or shoot them if there is resistance. It seems like magic to Iraqis who witness this. But it's technology and training more than magic. The troops practice their raiding drills beforehand, and are briefed on the "game plan" before each operation. The commanders back at the base have access to live video from a UAV overhead (which is displayed on large, flat screen TV monitors), and Blue Force Tracker shows all commanders the position of all vehicles and helicopters at all times. Sometimes the Special Forces has the target under observation before the troops show up, as does a UAV overhead. There are also electronic intelligence troops listening in on any cell phone (or other radio) signals coming from the target location. Detective work tries to find out exactly who is in the buildings to be raided, and who is in charge. Interpreters or Arabic speaking G.I.s will then call for the senior Iraqi to let them know why the troops are there and to avoid any resistance. This is shock and awe.Cross-posted from OTB
Iraq's Road Warriors
Trent Telenko sends in a nice follow up to his August 5, 2003 "Return of the Gun Trucks" post and his recent bit on armored Hummers and wartime mobilization. According to this AP dispatch from Jim Krane, it looks like the National Guard can innovate, too:
"We believe we're still in combat," said Carpenter, 24, a lanky suntanned man from Jackson, Mich., one of about 600 soldiers in the Army's 181st Transportation Battalion.Here's where to find the whole story on Yahoo - if that fails, use the Freep link above instead.
* Wince and Nod have more on this subject, thanks to a couple of Jefferson City, Missouri businesses.
* They're not alone, either. Working with a growing team of Iraqi engineers, Reservist Capt. Darryl M. Butler of the 1st Armored Division has created a kit that turns Hummers into "Butler Mobiles."
Jihadi "Facilitator" Nabbed
From the AFP, via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :
US troops arrested an Iraqi who was believed to be smuggling foreign fighters into Iraq from Syria, and also captured 10 Muslim fundamentalists northeast of Baghdad, the military said on Friday.An additional piece of information which may be of high significance:
Meanwhile, the US 4th Infantry Division conducted a sweep Thursday...the division's 2nd Combat Brigade team arrested 10 wanted individuals in a raid "targeting Wahhabi terrorists in the area," a US military officer from Baquba told AFP on condition of anonymity.The Wahhabi sect of Islam is essentially the State Religion in Saudi Arabia.
January 01, 2004
The Mass Grave Strategic Plan
The Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq has unveiled a Mass Grave Strategic Plan, in an effort to grapple with the wreckage of Saddam Hussein's genocide.
According to the CPA, the plan is aimed at both helping grieving families, as well as providing accountability and justice. The plan was developed with Iraqis, and will focus on several atrocities, including, but not limited to:
A key part of the plan, the CPA said, includes training and assisting Iraqis with the tasks needed to handle the graves, and the remains of the victims.
(Cross-posted at Late Final.)
From the Life Goes On department, I present you New Years Eve on Bourbon Street, USA. (Go here to watch the action live.)
We Welcome 2004 With ... Willie Nelson
Welcome to the New Year, friends and readers.
I'm a Willie fan, for the record (pardon the pun) ... visit the San Antonio Express to read about the "anti-war" song Willie wrote on Christmas and plans to rush-release as a single.
May all the war news of 2004 be so banal.