The Command Post
Iraq
March 31, 2004
Iraqis Drag U.S. Corpses Through Streets

From the AP via Yahoo:

FALLUJAH, Iraq - Jubilant residents dragged the charred corpses of American contractors through the streets Wednesday and hanged two of them from the bridge spanning the Euphrates River. Five American soldiers died in a roadside bombing nearby. The White House blamed terrorists and remnants of Saddam Hussein's former regime for the "horrific attacks" that killed the four civilian contractors.

"There are some that are doing everything they can to try to prevent" a June 30 transfer of sovereignty to an Iraqi government, White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters.

The four contract workers were killed in a rebel ambush of their SUVs in Fallujah, a Sunni Triangle city about 35 miles west of Baghdad and scene of some of the worst violence on both sides of the conflict since the beginning of the American occupation a year ago.

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WMD Hunt to Go On
From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :
The United States search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq will continue despite the failure so far to find them.

The new American chief inspector Charles Duelfer has briefed American senators in Washington.

He says the hunt for the weapons themselves will continue, but the focus will now be on whether Saddam Hussein intended to develop such weapons.

We've been looking at the program in its totality,” he said.

The hunt will go on until we're able to draw a firm and confident picture of what the programs were and where the regime was headed with respect to them.”

Italy Stands Firm

From The Australian :

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said in remarks published on Wednesday that the government would keep troops in Iraq despite political and public opposition.

We will stay in Iraq. There can be no doubt about that. We will not be intimidated,” he told La Stampa newspaper.

Frattini's remarks came after leftwing opposition leader Romano Prodi said he would have pulled Italian troops out of of Iraq if his party were in power unless the US-led occupying force was under UN control.

Prodi, the current European Commission President, is widely expected to challenge Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in the next parliamentary election, set for 2006, as the leader of the Olive Tree coalition of centre-left parties.

But Frattini insisted that the Italian presence in Iraq was justified.

3 Brits Injured

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Three British soldiers have been injured in an explosion in southern Iraq, Britain's Ministry of Defence said on Wednesday.

A ministry spokesman said an improvised explosive device had gone off near a vehicle south of Basra.

He had no further details on the extent of the injuries or the explosion itself.

And from CNN :

Spokesman Paul Sykes said the troops are receiving medical treatment. One of them was seriously injured, Sykes said, but he didn't know the exact nature of the wounds
Five Troops Dead; Foreign Nationals Murdered

Five military personell were killed in al-Anbar today when a roadside bomb roadside bomb exploded.

Earlier in the day, up to six foreign nationals were killed when a mob approached the two vehicles they were riding in, set them afire and dragged the bodies out of the vehicles. There are reports that at least one body was dragged through the streets and stones were thrown at the other bodies.

Reuters has this account:

Reuters Television footage from Falluja showed two civilian cars ablaze. Residents shouted “Long Live Falluja” and “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) as they danced around the vehicles waving their arms in the air and making the victory sign.

Pictures showed at least one person kicking a burnt corpse as it lay on the ground and stamping on its head.

A dead man, who appeared to be a foreigner with fair hair and in civilian clothes, lay in the road beside one of the cars, his feet on fire and blood stains on his white shirt.

March 30, 2004
Rice to Testify [Updated]

[Ed note: This story has been moved to the Global War on Terror Section. Please continue commenting in that section. Thank you]

Australian Parliament debates Iraq Pullout Timetable

From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

The House of Representatives has begun debating whether a deadline should be set for the withdrawal of Australian troops from Iraq.

Prime Minister John Howard has moved a motion in Parliament to express support for the troops to remain in Iraq “until their task is completed”.
[…]
He says the Opposition's plan to pull troops out of Iraq by Christmas represents cutting and running on Australia's allies and on Iraqis.

Mr Howard wants Parliament to pass his motion opposing the setting of arbitrary timelines for the withdrawal of Australian troops.

See Op Ed article on Labor's extraordinary policies (plural) on this issue.

March 29, 2004
Lawyers Fight over Saddam's Case

From The Australian :

A public tussle over who has the right to represent Saddam Hussein broke out Monday between a French and a Jordanian lawyer, each claiming they had been given the high-profile case by relatives of the ousted Iraqi president.

Jacques Verges, a French lawyer who has won a controversial reputation for taking on Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie and the terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal as clients, insisted to AFP that he had been “well and truly designated by relatives” of Saddam.

On Saturday, he announced he had received a letter from Saddam's nephew Ali Barzan al-Tikriti asking him to represent his uncle, who was captured by US forces in Iraq in December.

Verges brushed off a claim by Jordanian lawyer Mohammad Rashdan published Monday in the French newspaper Le Parisien, that “Mr Verges is not the legitimate counsel of Saddam Hussein”.

Rashdan said that Saddam's wife and eldest daughter, Raghad, who was now living in Jordan, “called me two days after his (Saddam's) capture to make me personally his lawyer.”

As for Saddam himself, he's not talking. Again, from The Australian :

He doesn't have a lawyer in the room, but Saddam Hussein apparently is practicing what most attorneys would advise: Don't talk. Diplomatic and military officials say the former Iraqi leader has provided little useful information in interrogations so far.

But the article goes on to say something quite significant :

The questioning of Saddam - initially handled by the CIA - is now a joint CIA-FBI operation, a sign that the aim is changing from finding intelligence to gathering evidence for any eventual trials. The people who are asking the questions at the moment are from the FBI, said a US intelligence official.
Robin's Winds of War: March 29/04

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.

TOP TOPICS

Other Topics Today Include: Marines return to Iraq; BBC's Gilligan changes mind; one step from uranium enrichment in Iran; more on the Madrid bombing; Islamic bonds in Germany; ethnic cleansing in Kosovo; forced conversions in Egypt; Hizboallah and Hamas link up; return to Mogadishu; end of Pakistani border operation; Thai bar bombing; bulldozers in an unexpected place.

Read The Rest…

Terror in Uzbekistan

A series of terror attacks in Uzbekistan have killed at least 19 people, including two female suicide bombers.

Prosecutor-General Rashid Kadyrov said the events began Sunday night with an explosion that killed 10 people at a house being used by an extremist in the central province of Bukhara (search).

There were also two attacks on police Sunday night and early Monday, killing three policemen, and two homicide bombings near the Chorsu bazaar in Tashkent's Old City, which killed three policemen and a young child, he said.

Monday in Iraq
  • Four insurgents were killed and two soldiers wounded in Mosul.
  • bq. British troops have clashed with dozens of ‏Iraqis after they tried to evict anti-coalition activists from a ‏‏government-owned building, the BBC reported Monday.
Last Oil-For-Food Wheat Contract Signed

From the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation):

The Australian Wheat Board has beaten the Americans by winning a tender to Iraq for 460,000 tonnes.

The sale will help to overcome fears that it could lose out to the United States in post-war Iraq.

The order comes under the United Nations oil-for-food programme and this contract will be the last offered to wheat producers.

From 1 April, the Iraq Grains Board will take over wheat contracts, members of which visited Canberra this week.

Australia became Iraq's largest wheat supplier after the 1991 Gulf War, when Baghdad closed its doors to American wheat.

Iraq had cut its wheat imports from Australia by almost half, following Canberra's support for the US position on Iraq, and was reported to be seeking fresh supplies from France.
[…]
Fears had grown in Australia of greater competition from the United States last week when US wheat exporters returned to Iraq for the first time since the early 1990s. They sold 160,000 tonnes.

Before Saddam Hussein was toppled by US-led forces, Iraq's taste for Australian wheat had risen to two million tonnes a year, around two-thirds of its total imports.

And from the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) , a slightly different emphasis on the story :

Australian exporter AWB has won a major contract to supply wheat to Iraq, securing the sale of 460,000 tonnes worth $100 million.

It is part of the last contract co-ordinated by the United Nations, before Iraq reverts to an open market system.

The United States is already selling wheat into the market, but AWB's Michael Long is confident trade relationships and competitive pricing will win the day for Australia.

The Iraqis have made it very clear that they expect a level playing field, that they expect competitive prices,” he said.

You know they're very accomplished people, they're very accomplished negotiators.

“They know what the world market scene is and we'll have to be on our toes to make sure we're continually pricing this wheat at an aggressive level, but taking into account our quality advantage and our freight advantage into the market as well.”

See this post from almost exactly one year ago, and the relevant Op Ed piece.

Australia has already supplied 100,000 tonnes of wheat to Iraq in short-term aid. But set against that is the outstanding debt from pre-1991 sales of AU$513 million which is not being officially written off. Yet.

March 28, 2004
Assassination Attempt in Mosul

From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

A police chief has escaped an assassination bid that left four policemen wounded near Mosul, where five members of one family were injured in a separate incident, police said.

There was an assassination attempt early this evening targeting Major General Mohammed Khairi al-Barhawi, the police chief of Nineveh governorate,” a Mosul officer, Colonel Mozahem Khalaf Abdelrahman, told AFP.

A gun battle broke out between his bodyguards and the attackers, and there were casualties on both sides,” he said, without giving numbers.

The Iraqi police asked for US troops to provide back-up support but the soldiers arrived too late at the scene of the attack in the centre of Mosul, he said.

The attackers, who were riding in a white car, opened fire from automatic rifles at Mr Barhawi, who was also in a car.

Colonel Abdelrahman said four policemen were wounded during the clashes with the assailants who escaped.

He also said that four mortar rounds, apparently targeting a police station in the al-Rashidiyeh neighbourhood in the north of Mosul, fell short of their target and landed in and around a civilian house.

Five members of one family were wounded in the house, he said.

Sunday Iraq News
March 27, 2004
Roadblock Tragedy

From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Iraqi police say a three-year-old boy was killed and eight other people were injured when US troops opened fire on their car near a checkpoint in Saddam Hussein's home town of Tikrit.

The police say US troops stationed inside the local council offices opened fire on the car as it drove past.

Hospital authorities have confirmed that the three-year-old boy, six female members of his family and a male relative were taken to hospital along with another man.

The boy died and a man and woman were in a critical condition.

A US military spokesman would only say three Iraqi civilians were wounded when their car failed to stop at a checkpoint and was engaged by US troops.

Iraqi Driver Shot

From the Kyodo News Agency [Japan] via The Australian :

An unidentified assailant shot dead the Iraqi driver of a civilian truck carrying supplies to Japan's military in southern Iraq, Japanese media reported today.

The gunman attacked the truck in an apparent attempt to rob it, Kyodo News agency said, quoting Iraqi police. The truck was travelling between the southern cities of Basra and Nasiriyah when it was attacked, the agency said. Japan's Defence Agency confirmed that a civilian truck hired to transport supplies to Japanese troops in Samawah was attacked, but gave no other details. Japan's humanitarian mission in the region had not been affected by the incident, an agency spokesman said on condition of anonymity.

Oil for Food Programme : How the Scam Worked

From the New Zealand Herald : How much is missing?

…at least US$11 billion ([NZ]$17 billion), depending on who is doing the counting - or rather, the guessing, since the UN has been curiously disinclined to investigate where all that money went.
[…]
To understand what happened - or better, what might have happened, because the UN isn't releasing documents and balance sheets - you have to go back to 1996, when the international body set up a system whereby Iraqi oil could reach the market only if the proceeds went to the “humanitarian relief” of the Iraqi people.

Two years later, at the end of 1998, the UN appointed a Swiss company called Cotecna to administer the programme, which would supervise the flow of some US$100 billion ([NZ]$155 billion) in oil receipts, before it was finally shut down last November, when the UN reluctantly surrendered the job to the US-appointed Iraqi governing council in Baghdad.

What was Cotecna? For one thing, the former employer of Kofi Annan's son, Kojo, who was on the payroll until shortly before the contracts were awarded, when he became a contract consultant.

Cotecna's job involved squaring the income from oil sales against the goods that were allegedly purchased.

If Saddam's Iraq wanted to import ambulances from Saudi Arabia, the contract of sale had to be approved and the incoming goods inspected by Cotecna, as did tens of thousands of other items, from Russian hoes to Belarus welding rods.

In the first year alone, Cotecna pocketed $6 million ([NZ]$9.3 million) for its services. After that, because the UN isn't saying, its share of the bounty is anybody's guess.

When Claudia Rosett of the Wall Street Journal began looking into the Oil For Food programme, she soon came up with one explanation: Many of the suppliers, like the Jordanian manufacturer of school desks listed on contract records, simply did not exist.

As Rosett has noted, Cotecna was responsible for approving “tens of billions worth of supplies inbound to a regime much interested in smuggling, and evidently accustomed to dealing in bribes and kickbacks”. The issue, she explained in one of her painstakingly detailed investigations, was never “whether the monitors were cheap, but whether they were trustworthy”.
[…]
Before Oil For Food was handed over to Iraq, the UN conducted an urgent, last-minute review of thousands of contracts. Rosett calls it a “house cleaning”, but whatever description is used, some 1500 supplier contracts - one in four - were immediately suspended or banned outright from further participation.
[…]
According to the best estimate of the nonpartisan US Government Accounting Office, Oil for Food generated at least $10 billion ($15.4 billion) for Saddam's family and a further $1 billion ($1.54 billion) to pay the 1000-plus UN bureaucrats who were supposed to be keeping it honest.

Again, the focus is on Kofi Annan, who helped to set up Oil For Food in 1997 and installed his close friend and fellow diplomat Benon Sevan as its director.
[…]
For his part, a po-faced Annan now concedes “it is highly possible there has been quite a lot of wrongdoing”, and has authorised an internal investigation.

Go read the whole thing, as in the interest of sticking to the bald facts, I've editted out all the good bits.

OK, an example:

Neither Rosett nor congressional investigators hold much hope that it will be more than a whitewash - and the UN has other matters that it would much prefer to talk about, starting with a $1.2 billion ([NZ]$1.86 billion) interest-free loan from Washington to renovate its decaying New York headquarters.

George Bush rejected the request, saying the UN could have the money at the standard interest rate now being charged to American home-buyers.

As all the world knows, Bush doesn't have much of a way with words, which probably helped to keep the communications terse but diplomatic.

If the President was given to wit, he would have told Kofi Annan to get it from Saddam, who owes the UN big-time.

French lawyer to defend Saddam Hussein

MAARIV: French lawyer to defend Saddam Hussein

The French lawyer Jacques Verges has announced that he will head deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's defense team. The lawyer said he received a letter from Hussein's nephew asking him to represent Saddam Hussein.

“I was ready to represent him anyway, and then I received a letter from Hussein's nephew”, said Verges. The letter said “within my power as Saddam Hussein's nephew, with this letter, I officially appoint you to act as my uncle's legal representative in his defense”.

Verges has in the past represented Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, and the international terrorist Carlos. He is currently serving as defense attorney for Tarik Aziz, Saddam Hussein's former deputy and foreign minister.

Deadly Week in Iraq
  • Four Iraqis, including a child, were killed in an attack on the governer's office in Mosul. At least nineteen others were injured.
  • On Friday, four Iraqi Civil Defense Corps members were killed while raiding a hideout in Tikrit.
  • Near Kirkuk,, four people going to a wedding died when the vehicles struck a mine.
  • Gunmen shot and killed an Iraqi police officer late Friday while he was walking home in Kirkuk.
  • On Friday, Time magazine employee Omar Hashim Kamal, died from injuries sustained on Wednesday.

[Other sources: Reuters, AP, UPI]

Violence Across Iraq Kills 20

Not a good day in Iraq: A US marine was killed in Fallujah, and an ABC camerman was shot in the head while filming the clashes. 18 other non-coms were killed in the same day, most of who were Iraqi officials (members of the Civil Defence Force or police) or civilians. Read the full story at FOX.

Posted By Alan at 10:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Saddam betrayed by bodyguard

BBC: Saddam betrayed by bodyguard

Panorama reports that after eight months on the run, the hiding place of the ousted Iraqi leader was given away by an aide known as “the fat man”.

The programme, to be broadcast on BBC One on Sunday, says Mohammed Ibrahim Omar al-Musslit gave away the secret after being arrested and interrogated.

Saddam Hussein was captured on 13 December near his home town of Tikrit.

Mr Musslit was a loyal lieutenant of Saddam Hussein. He was one of the people who accompanied the Iraqi leader as he fled Baghdad in a white Oldsmobile, as US troops entered the city on 9 April 2003.

But Panorama will reveal that he was quickly broken by interrogators after being captured in Baghdad, and led American troops to his boss just hours after being arrested in December.

UN counter-terror chief to play "bigger role" against global terrorism

Times of India:

The UN Security Council has created a new post for director of its counter-terrorism committee as the United Nations tries to take a bigger role in the global fight against terror.

“The United Nations cannot remain passive, cannot play a secondary role in such a big threat as terrorism,” said Spanish ambassador Inocencio Arias, who heads the committee.

Madrid attack suspect linked to al-Qaida, terrorism in Iraq

Calgary Sun:

The spotlight is on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian linked to the al-Qaida terror network, for the deadly Madrid railway attacks, a French investigator said yesterday. Al-Zarqawi, suspected of heading a terrorist organization in Iraq, is now believed to have been the brains behind the recent Madrid attacks, which killed 190 people and wounded more than 1,800.
March 26, 2004
Oil Well Blast; Plus Latest from Iraq

[AP]

An oil well at the Northern Oil Company in Khabaz was set afire by insurgents. The terrorists used explosives in the attack, which caused a fire that raged for 24 hours before it was extinguished.

Fighting in Fallujah:

The latest surge of violence claimed four lives in Fallujah, a Sunni Muslim bastion west of Baghdad, local hospital director Hatem Samir told AFP.

“Four were killed and two were injured in the battle and transported to our hospital,” Samir said.

There was no immediate confirmation from the US military on the violence which rocked the city for more than three hours.

(Reuters has an updated version of the above story)

Human Rights Abuses in Iraq sweeping, common

EurekAlert:

Nearly half of the households surveyed in southern Iraq report that human rights abuses occurred among household members between 1991 and 2003, according to a study in the March 24/31 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

[…]

Respondents averaged 38 years of age, and were mostly of Arab ethnicity (99.7 percent) and Muslim Shi'a (96.7 percent). “Overall, 47 percent of those interviewed reported 1 or more of the following abuses among themselves and household members since 1991: torture, killings, disappearance, forced [military service], beating, gunshot wounds, kidnappings, being held hostage, and ear amputation, among others. Seventy percent of abuses were reputed to have occurred in homes. Baath party regime-affiliated groups were identified most often (95 percent) as the perpetrators of the abuses; 53 percent of the abuses occurred between 1991 and 1993, following the Shi'a uprising, and another 30 percent between 2000 and the first 6 months of 2003,” the authors write.

Also:
Extent of Saddam's abuses jolts experts
Survey finds killings, beatings, other atrocities common in 12 …
Iraqi rights abuses widespread: survey
Iraqi Docs Forced To Cut Off Ears
Sweeping Rights Abuses in Iraq Included Doctors

Iraqis worse off, accuses former development secretary

Guardian:

Chaos in Iraq has left Iraqis feeling worse off than under Saddam Hussein, Clare Short, the former international development secretary, said yesterday.

She said the conflict was a “disaster for the Middle East and a disaster for the people of Iraq”. She called for coalition troops to be withdrawn and replaced by the UN.

Human rights probe urged

Daily Times:

The United Nations human rights investigator for Iraq urged rich nations on Thursday to provide more money and forensic experts to examine dozens of mass graves discovered in the year since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

In a report presented to the UN human rights body in Geneva, Andreas Mavrommatis said families of thousands of missing Iraqis, notably Kurds and Shi’ite Muslims, deserved to know their fate and to retrieve their relatives’ remains.

Saying such inquiries would enable national reconciliation, he also said probes into crimes against humanity committed during Saddam’s minority, Sunni-dominated administration should be speeded up. Saddam is in US custody, pending a trial.

And more:

One witness, he said, told him 40 to 50 people had been forced onto trucks in Baghdad and driven among burning tyres while handcuffed and blindfolded. They were burned alive. (Emphasis added)
South Korean troop deployment likely

Reuters:

South Korea will push ahead with deploying troops to Iraq as soon as possible, although a delay is inevitable while Seoul and Washington decide on a new location, a senior South Korean government official said on Friday.
Report accuses inadequate planning, bent rules in contract awards

From Financial Times:

The US Department of Defense planned inadequately for the initial stages of postwar Iraq reconstruction and “cut corners” in awarding and monitoring contracts using taxpayers' money, according to a Pentagon report.

[…]

Responding to the report, Colonel Joe Conley of the Army's Defense Contracting Command in Washington, which was responsible for the $122m in contracts, said: “This report represents a serious injustice to the hardworking contracting officers and specialists of this command. It is riddled with faulty assumptions, erroneous conclusions, and egregious misinterpretation of contract law and procedures.”

Others:
Report rips SAIC over Iraq contracts
Review faults Pentagon for Iraq contracts
Early Pentagon contracts in Iraq were badly done, report says

Military deaths and injuries in Iraq to date

United States:
Deaths - 584 (Hostile Action: 394; Non-hostile causes: 190)
Injuries - 3,383 (Hostile Action: 2,949; Non-hostile causes: 434)

United Kingdom:
Deaths - 58

Italy:
Deaths - 17

Spain:
Deaths - 8

Bulgaria:
Deaths - 5

Ukraine:
Deaths - 3

Thailand:
Deaths - 2

Denmark:
Deaths - 1

Estonia:
Deaths - 1

Poland:
Deaths - 1

Source: Associated Press

23.5 Billion yen pledged to Iraq's reconstruction

Japan Today:

Japan on Friday pledged a combined 23.5 billion yen in grants for five projects aimed at assisting the reconstruction of Iraq, including repairing and upgrading old hospitals and providing fire engines.

Japan plans to spend billions more yen on public utilities in Iraq.

US soldiers buying their own body armor

From the Associated Press:

Soldiers headed for Iraq are still buying their own body armor and in many cases, their families are buying it for them despite assurances from the military that the gear will be in hand before they're in harm's way.

Body armor distributors have received steady inquiries from soldiers and families about purchasing the gear, which can cost several thousand dollars. Though the military has advised them not to rely on third-party suppliers, many soldiers say they want it before they deploy.

Last October, it was reported that nearly one-quarter of American troops serving in Iraq did not have ceramic plated body armor, which can stop bullets fired from assault rifles and shrapnel.

The article goes on to discuss mistrust between soldiers, soldiers' families and the military.

Australian Labor Party "clarifies its position"

From The Australian :

The Labor Party appeared to edge back from its controversial pledge to withdraw all Australian troops from Iraq by Christmas if it won elections due later this year.

Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd said that a Labor government would consider leaving some soldiers to protect Australia's mission and diplomats in Iraq.
[…]
Howard defied Australian public opinion in contributing 2000 troops to the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003. About 900 personnel remain in and around Iraq, some 90 of them tasked with guarding Australian diplomats and officials.

In addition to raising the possibility that these 90 soldiers would remain in Iraq, [Australian Opposition Foreign Affairs Minister] Rudd said a Labor government would also continue other forms of support for Iraqi reconstruction - a point absent from [Australian Opposition Leader] Latham's recent statements.

When it comes to the long-term stability of Iraq, more than half the equation lies with providing people with jobs, food and medical supplies,” Rudd said.

The Herald quoted unnamed Labor Party lawmakers as arguing in favor of a continued Australian presence in Iraq.

We should keep the forces protecting the diplomats and we should keep them there training the Iraq army,” said one legislator. “That's good stuff for the long-term future of that country.”

A list of all Australian troops in Iraq under “Operation Catalyst” ** is available on the web. After deducting troops guarding Australian interests, training, and providing infrastructure support.. well, see for yourself.

** From Encarta : Catalyst :
1. A chemical that accelerates chemical reaction: a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any change
2. stimulus to change: somebody or something that makes a change happen or brings about an event

March 25, 2004
Report on US Morale Problems

From The Australian :

Suicide rates among US soldiers deployed in Iraq are higher than average for the army as a whole and nearly three quarters of the soldiers surveyed reported low morale in their units, a major US army study released Thursday has found.

The study said the low morale correlated with soldiers' uncertainty over how long they would be serving in Iraq and disappointment over tours of duty that were longer than expected.

OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom) soldiers reported significant levels of behavioral health concerns and stress; and low levels of personal morale and unit cohesion,” the report concluded.

They expressed a desire for help with behavioral health problems, but reported barriers to receiving assistance,” it said.

The study, the first of its kind in a combat zone, was ordered by the army's surgeon general in July after a rash of five suicides.

It found that the suicide rate was higher than average for the army as a whole although lower than that for young males in the general population.

The rate last year was 17.3 soldiers per 100,000 compared to 12.8 per 100,000 for the army as a whole. The rate for US males aged 20 to 34 was 21.5 per 100,000.

Australian Opposition Leader : Troops Home by Christmas

From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

The [Australian] Federal Government has continued its criticism of the Opposition leader's plan to bring Australia's military forces back from Iraq by the end of the year.

Labor leader Mark Latham has come under a sustained attack from senior government ministers and the US ambassador to Australia.

They say Mr Latham's wish to bring the troops home before Christmas is damaging to Australia's alliance with the United States.

In Question Time, Labor siezed on Prime Minister John Howard's indication that troops could remain in Iraq indefinitely.

Asked if the Australian deployment was for less than two years or for an indefinite period, Mr Howard said: “We don't have a cut-and-run strategy.

“It's not the Australian way to cut and run. It's the Australian way to do the job and see it through and that's what we intend to do.”

Mr Howard says Mr Latham is at odds with Labor's spokesman on foreign affairs.

The Prime Minister says Labor's Kevin Rudd wrote to him in November last year, urging the Government to strengthen its presence in Iraq.
[…]
But Mr Latham this morning said he would not back down from Labor's timetable to bring the 850 Australian troops home from Iraq.

He says his plan to withdraw the troops once control of the country is handed over to an interim Iraqi government is a realistic one.

In May last year [Mr Howard] said he didn't want Australians deployed in Iraq for years,” Mr Latham told Channel Nine.

So on his original timetable you would have been expecting that later this year or early next year he would have been bringing the troops home.

“He's been chopping and changing and that's not good for the defence of Australia.”

1 Killed, 1 Wounded at Taji

From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

One US soldier was killed and another wounded when their convoy came under attack north of the Iraqi town of Taji, according to United States Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt.

The convoy was hit by a roadside bomb and small arms fire.

The US troops responded and killed three attackers, Brig Gen Kimmitt told AFP.

March 24, 2004
Another Musayyab Slaying

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Gunmen have assassinated an Iraqi police chief, a day after nine policemen and trainees were killed in a drive-by shooting in the same town south of Baghdad, police said.

Juwad Kathim, an Iraqi police spokesman in Hilla, said Lieutenant Colonel Yaseen Khudier died instantly when attackers riddled his car with bullets in the nearby town of Musayyab, about 60 kilometres south of Baghdad.

The gunmen escaped.

The shooting came less than 24 hours after insurgents killed nine policemen and cadets in a minibus in Musayyab.

Last week guerrillas ambushed and killed a Dutch and a German engineer near the town.

March 23, 2004
Grenade Attack at Baghdad Sheraton

A grenade hit a high floor of the Sheraton hotel, hotel guards said. The lobby of the hotel was strewn with glass.

The hotel is mostly used by foreign contractors and journalists. No injuries were reported.

There has been no confirmation on this incident from the military.

Iraq News Roundup
  • 494 Iraqi prisoners were freed yesterday. “We no longer consider them a security threat to the coalition,” said Colonel Jill Morgenthaler.
  • #52 Dead: Adel Abdullah Mahdi Al Duri, a former leading official in the dissolved Baath Party, died Sunday in his hometown in Al Daur.
US adds Ansar al-Islam to terrorism list

ABC Australia:
The United States Government has expanded its list of foreign terrorist organisations to include a militant group active in Iraq.

The US State Department describes Ansar al-Islam as one of the leading groups engaged in anti-coalition attacks in Iraq.
March 22, 2004
UK Troops Hurt in Iraq Protest

Demonstrations got out of hand in Iraq today with explosives and bombs going off, causing injury to fourteen British soldiers, three of them seriously.

The official reports say that the demonstrators were calling for demanding more security jobs, but other reports say that some of the demonstrators were shouting slogans praising Saddam Hussein and others were protesting the killing of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

3 Killed, 9 Wounded Overnight

From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

A United States soldier and an Iraqi interpreter have been killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad.

Nine soldiers were also wounded in clashes in the capital overnight.

A US military spokesman said the soldier and his interpreter died and three other soldiers were wounded after insurgents exploded an improvised explosive device as their patrol passed by.

Another six soldiers were lightly wounded by rocket propelled grenades, light arms fire and small bombs as they searched for insurgents and weapons in Baghdad.

Seven suspects were arrested in the sweep and weapons and ammunition were seized.

At Samarra, north of Baghdad, a US soldier died as he and his colleagues were testing their weapons prior to heading out on patrol.

Car Bombing Reported in Baghdad

From the AP via The Australian :

A Car bomb blew up near a US Air Force base north of Baghdad today, killing two Iraqi civilians and wounding 25 others, an Iraqi Civil Defence Corps official said.

The explosion occurred outside the base near the town of Balad, about 80km north of Baghdad, Saeed Kadhim said.

He said the wounded had been taken to nearby hospitals. US officials in Baghdad could not confirm the attack.

Andrew's Winds of War: March 22/04

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET 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.

TOP TOPICS

  • Israel is planning a systematic war against Hamas, characterizing the terrorist group as a strategic enemy of Israel. As Israel prepares to withdraw from Gaza, they want to inflict as much damage as possible to Hamas while they are still in proximity to the terrorists. This strategy appears to have already borne fruit, as Israeli forces killed Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, spiritual leader of Hamas, with an airstrike on his car while he was en route to a mosque.

Other Topics Today Include: rocket attacks in Baghdad; power sharing in Iraq; the value of UAVs; IAEA 'suspicious' of Iran's nuke program; terrorism optempo; al Qaeda nukes; Kosovo flares up again; terrorist apology; and Dr. Seuss.

Read The Rest…

March 21, 2004
Rocket Attacks in Baghdad Kill Soldiers, Citizens

Two U.S. soldiers were killed by rocket fire and one U.S. soldier was killed in an accident yesterday.

A U-S official says at least three rockets were fired at the U-S-led coalition compound. Two of the rockets landed inside the headquarters, but did not cause any damage. A third rocket landed outside the compound, killing the two Iraqis and wounding five. The U-S soldier was hurt after being hit with flying glass
Stating the Obvious

From The Australian :

Iraq was not on the threshold of civil war and its people had no desire to see the return of their former leader Saddam Hussein, [Australian] Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said today.

Mr Downer said it was foreigners, not Iraqis, who had been behind some of the recent uprisings in the lead-up to this weekend's first anniversary of the coalition of the willing's attacks on Iraq.
[…]
I don't think we are anywhere near on the threshold of a civil war in Iraq,” he told ABC television.

You have got to understand who these insurgents are in Iraq and some of them … are foreigners who are coming across the border and committing acts of terrorism as we have seen in other parts of the world.”
[…]
I think one of the things in the west people need to get a grip on is that the Iraqi people are entitled to their own view about this issue and their own view is they don't want to go back to Saddam Hussein and they are not on the threshold of a civil war.
[…]
Mr Downer reiterated he would try to persuade the incoming Spanish government not to withdraw its troops from Iraq because he believed it would send the wrong message to terrorists.

That will send a message to al-Qaeda that terrorism can work, you can change the policies of western and friendly countries by acts of violence,” he said.

Blast heard near US compound

From the AFP, via The Australian :

A number of blasts believed to be rocket explosions were heard Sunday in the vicinity of the compound housing the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, a coalition official told AFP.

The capital's main convention centre shook and people screamed after the blasts, at around 10am (6pm AEST). There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

March 20, 2004
Iraqi Policeman Killed, Another Arrested

From The Australian :

An Iraqi policeman was shot dead west of the northern city of Kirkuk today - hours after US troops arrested a police officer suspected of plotting anti-American attacks, Iraqi police said.

Mohammed Omer Abdullah, 42, was killed when three men opened fire with automatic weapons at a checkpoint on a road outside Kirkuk, prompting soldiers manning the position to return fire, Lieutenant Colonel Rashid Mohammed said.

It's believed that one of the attackers was hit,” the officer said. A search was underway for the assailants who fled in a white utility.

The attack on the Riyaz-Biji road, 45km west of Kirkuk, came at 8am local time (4pm AEDT).

Earlier, US troops arrested Colonel Hamid Mutlaq al-Mufraji at his Kirkuk home for alleged links to anti-US attacks that took place in Hawijah, 50km west of the oil city, a police officer said.

Mufraji had served in the police force under the regime of former dictator Saddam Hussein.

March 19, 2004
Kofi Annan calls for Blood For Oil Inquiry

From The Australian :

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan today called for an independent “high-level” enquiry into allegations of fraud and corruption in the UN program that supervised Iraqi oil sales under Saddam Hussein.

In a letter sent to the 15-nation UN Security Council, he said the inquiry would need the council's backing and that he would send a more detailed proposal, which diplomats said would come next week.
[…]
Annan said earlier today it was “highly possible” that there was widespread wrongdoing in the UN-run program, which kept six out of 10 Iraqis alive in the last years of Saddam's regime.

These allegations, whether or not they are ultimately shown to be well-founded, must be taken seriously and addressed forthrightly, in order to bring to light the truth and prevent an erosion of the trust and hope that the international community has invested in the organisation,” Annan wrote in his letter to the council.

I propose to establish an independent, high-level enquiry to investigate the allegations relating to the administration and management of the program, including allegations of fraud and corruption.”

The program, which began in December 1996 and ended in November, was the largest aid scheme in the history of the United Nations, and oversaw tens of billions of dollars in transactions.

The UN official who ran the program, Benon Sevan, has denied any improper behaviour.

Hundreds Protest in Sydney

From The Australian :

More than 1000 people have joined a march in Sydney to mark the first anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq.

The rally began in Hyde Park, with protesters chanting “end the occupation, no justice no peace” as they marched along Elizabeth Street in the city centre towards the US Consulate.

Carrying banners and chanting “troops out now”, the protesters are calling on the Howard government to withdraw Australian troops from Iraq.

Protesters are expected to topple a statue of Mr Howard in Sydney's Hyde Park in a parody of Saddam Hussein's statue being pulled down in Baghdad.

But it's not just in Sydney, there's also protests scheduled in Brisbane and elsewhere; Also from The Australian :

In Darwin, organisers expect about 50 people to turn out in central Raintree Park at 10am (CST) to support an “End The Occupation” rally including speakers and political satire street theatre.

UPDATE: But wait, there's more!
Not as many as predicted by organisers though. From another article in The Australian :

Around 1000 anti-war protesters gathered in Brisbane today to demand an urgent withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Yesterday, organisers had predicted “several thousand” participants.

There were rather more in Melbourne, a city of over 3 million people. Including an unknown number of people turning up with contrary views. Also from The Australian :

Protestors marched in Melbourne's CBD today to mark the first anniversary of the war in Iraq.

Protest organiser the Victorian Peace Network said about 3000 people were involved in the march, one of several to be held around the country today and tomorrow against Australia's involvement in the war against Iraq.
[…]
The protest was largely peaceful, but a scuffle broke out between a group of young people, one of whom held a sign saying “Students say: we support our troops”, and protesters.

A man holding a sign which contained a swastika inside a star of David caused a ruckus when he was asked to remove it.

And let's not forget Tasmania (that little triangular shaped island to the south-east of the mainland about the size of New York State, or England), in yet another article from The Australian :

About 500 people rallied in Hobart today protesting against the United States-led occupation of Iraq.
[…]
Hobart Peace Coalition spokesman Ian Newman said today's crowd was respectable, despite being well down on last year's huge attendance of 20,000 people.

To put things in perspective, Sydney has 4 million, Melbourne 3.5 million, Brisbane 1.5 million, Darwin about 70,000, and the whole state of Tasmania 500,000.
And yes, there are such things as Tasmanian Devils, their jaws can easily break bones, and they hunt in packs.

UPDATE : The ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) has some slightly different numbers :

In Sydney, former intelligence analyst turned Greens political candidate Andrew Wilkie addressed a rally of about 2,000 people.
[…]
In Melbourne, 2,000 people have heard from the father of Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks and the executive officer of the Victorian Council of Churches, Maureen Postma.
[…]
Brisbane's rally attracted more than 500 people, who heard from speakers including the ALP's national president, Carmen Lawrence. [ALP - Australian Labor Party, sorta the equivalent of the US Democrats, in opposition to PM John Howard's Liberal/National Coalition]
[…]
Tasmanians gathered in Hobart's Franklin Square for a silent vigil and march.

No mention of dozens in Darwin. Or any of the other state capitals, Adelaide and Perth. Nor the National capital Canberra, where I live. I didn't see any protestors today, and I was at a church fete near Parliament House and the US Embassy, but I could easily have missed them. There were over a thousand people, possibly two, at the fete, by the way.

UPDATE : Pictures of the demo in Melbourne available at Silent Running. See also Op Ed piece.

Kerry's Iraq Anniversary Speech
Today marks the one year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. It is an important day to recognize the courage and enormous skill of the United States military. Our men and women in uniform are the best and the brightest the nation has to offer, and their efforts to defend Democracy should be honored each and every day. We also must remember those that have given their lives in the fight for freedom.

“Before the war started, I repeatedly called on the President to build a genuine coalition to reduce the military and financial burden on the United States, to go to war only as a last resort, and to have a plan to win the peace. I voted to give him the authority to go to war only when he promised me and other members in Congress that he would do these things. He broke those promises.

“He misled the American people in his own State of the Union Address about Saddam's nuclear program and WMD's, and refused - and continues to refuse - to level with the American people about the cost of the war. Simply put, this President didn't tell the truth about the war for the beginning. And our country is paying the price.

“It's time for George Bush to start being consistent on Iraq. It's time for him to finally find the right policy for Iraq. It's time to take the target's off the backs of U.S. soldiers, reduce the burden on America's taxpayers, and finish the job in Iraq

Alan here: Ok … even after a year's practice even we who produce this site sometimes blur the lines … so I've edited Michele's comment here (with her knowledge). But there's good news! You can read all her thoughts on the topic over at A Small Victory. While you're there leave a comment and tell her how smart and pretty she is …

Text of President's Speech

“No Neutral Ground”


I particularly want to thank the members of the diplomatic corps who are here, thank the ambassadors for coming today. We are representing 84 countries, united against a common danger, and joined in a common purpose.

We are the nations that have recognized the threat of terrorism, and we are the nations that will defeat that threat.

Each of us has pledged before the world, we will never bow to the violence of a few. We will face this mortal danger and we will overcome it together.

As we meet, violence and death at the hands of terrorists are still fresh in our memory. The people of Spain are burying their innocent dead. These men and women and children began their day in a great and peaceful city, yet lost their lives on a battlefield, murdered at random and without remorse.

Americans saw the chaos and the grief and the vigils and the funerals, and we have shared in the sorrow of the Spanish people.

Ambassador Ruperez, please accept our deepest sympathy for the great loss that your country has suffered.

The murders in Madrid are a reminder that the civilized world is at war. And in this new kind of war, civilians find themselves suddenly on the front lines.

In recent years, terrorists have struck from Spain to Russia, to Israel, to East Africa, to Morocco, to the Philippines and to America. They've targeted Arab states, such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Yemen. They've attacked Muslims in Indonesia, Turkey, Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan. No nation or region is exempt from the terrorist campaign of violence.

Each of these attacks on the innocent is a shock and a tragedy, and a test of our will. Each attack is designed to demoralize our people and divide us from one another.

And each attack much be answered, not only with sorrow, but with greater determination, deeper resolve, and bolder action against the killers. It is the interest of every country and the duty of every government to fight and destroy this threat to our people.

There is a dividing line in our world, not between nations and not between religions or cultures, but a dividing line separating two visions of justice and the value of life.

On a tape claiming responsibility for the atrocities in Madrid, a man is heard to say, “We choose death while you choose life.” We don't know if this is the voice of the actual killers, but we do know it expresses the creed of the enemy. It is a mindset that rejoices in suicide, incites murder and celebrates every death we mourn.

And we who stand on the other side of the line must be equally clear and certain of our convictions. We do love life, the life given to us and to all. We believe in the values that uphold the dignity of life: tolerance and freedom and the right of conscience. And we know that this way of life is worth defending.

There is no neutral ground — no neutral ground — in the fight between civilization and terror, because there is no neutral ground between good and evil, freedom and slavery, and life and death.

The war on terror is not a figure of speech. It is an inescapable calling of our generation.

The terrorists are offended not merely by our policies, they're offended by our existence as free nations.

No concession will appease their hatred. No accommodation will satisfy their endless demands. Their ultimate ambitions are to control the peoples of the Middle East and to blackmail the rest of the world with weapons of mass terror.

There can be no separate peace with the terrorist enemy. Any sign of weakness or retreat simply validates terrorist violence and invites more violence for all nations.

The only certain way to protect our people is by united and decisive action.

In this contest of will and purpose, not every nation joins every mission or participates in the same way. Yet every nation makes a vital contribution, and America is proud to stand with all of you as we pursue a broad strategy in the war against terror.

We're using every tool of finance, intelligence, law enforcement and military power to break terror networks, to deny them refuge and to find their leaders.

Over the past 30 months, we have frozen or seized nearly $200 million in assets of terror networks. We've captured or killed some two-thirds of Al Aida's known leaders, as well as many of Al Aida's associates in countries like the United States or Germany or Pakistan or Saudi Arabia or Thailand.

We're taking the fight to Al Aida allies, such as Ansar al-Islam in Iraq, Jemaah Islamiah in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Our coalition is sending an unmistakable message to the terrorists, including those who struck in Madrid: These killers will be tracked down and found. They will face their day of justice.

Our coalition is taking urgent action to stop the transfer of deadly weapons and materials. America and the nations of Australia and France and Germany and Italy and Japan and the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, Canada, Singapore and Norway have joined in the Proliferation Security Initiative, all aimed to bind together to interdict lethal materials transported by air or sea or land.

Many governments have cooperated to expose and dismantle the network of A.Q. Khan, which sold nuclear secrets to Libya, Iran and North Korea.

By all of these efforts, we are determined to prevent catastrophic technologies from falling into the hands of an embittered few.

Our coalition is also confronting the dangerous combination of outlaw states, terrorist groups and weapons of mass destruction.

For years, the Taliban made Afghanistan the home base of Al Aida. And so we gave the Taliban a choice: to abandon forever their support for terror or face the destruction of their regime.

Because the Taliban chose defiance, our coalition acted to remove this threat, and now the terror camps are closed and the government of a free Afghanistan is represented here today as an active partner in the war on terror.

The people of Afghanistan are a world away from the nightmare of the Taliban. Citizens of Afghanistan have adopted a new constitution guaranteeing free elections and full participation by women. The new Afghan army is becoming a vital force of stability in that country. Businesses are opening. Health care centers are being established. And the children of Afghanistan are back in schools — boys and girls.

This progress is a tribute to the brave Afghan people and to the efforts of many nations.

NATO, including forces from Canada, France, Germany and other nations, is leading the effort to provide security. Japan and Saudi Arabia have helped to complete the highway from Kabul to Kandahar, which is furthering commerce and unifying the country.

Italy is working with Afghans to reform their legal system and strengthening an independent judiciary.

Three years ago, the people of Afghanistan were oppressed and isolated from the world by a terrorist regime. Today, that nation has a democratic government and many allies, and all of us are proud to be friends of the Afghan people.

Many countries represented here today also acted to liberate the people of Iraq. One year ago, military forces of a strong coalition entered Iraq to enforce United Nations demands, to defend our security, and to liberate that country from the rule of a tyrant.

For Iraq, it was a day of deliverance. For the nations of our coalition, it was the moment when years of demands and pledges turned to decisive action.

Today, as Iraqis join the free peoples of the world, we mark a turning point for the Middle East and a crucial advance for human liberty.

There have been disagreements in this matter among old and valued friends. Those differences belong to the past. All of us can now agree that the fall of the Iraqi dictator has removed a source of violence, aggression and instability in the Middle East.

It's a good thing that the demands of the United Nations were enforced, not ignored with impunity. It is a good thing that years of illicit weapons developed by the dictator have come to the end. It is a good thing that the Iraqi people are now receiving aid instead of suffering under sanctions. And it's a good thing that the men and women across the Middle East looking to Iraq are getting a glimpse of what life in a free country can be like.

There are still violent thugs and murderers in Iraq, and we're dealing with them. But no one can argue that the Iraqi people would be better off with the thugs and murderers back in the palaces.

Who would prefer that Saddam's torture chambers still be open? Who would wish that more mass graves were still being filled? Who would begrudge the Iraqi people their long-awaited liberation?

One year after the armies of liberation arrived, every soldier who has fought, every aid worker who has served, every Iraqi who has joined in their country's defense can look with pride on a brave and historic achievement.

They've served in freedom's cause. And that is a privilege.

Today in Iraq, a British-led division is securing the southern city of Basra. Poland continues to lead the multi-national division in south-central Iraq. Japan and the Republic of Korea — of South Korea have made historic commitments of troops to help bring peace to Iraq.

Special forces from El Salvador and Macedonia and other nations are helping to find and defeat Baathist and terrorist killers. Military engineers from Kazakhstan have cleared more than a half a million explosive devices from Iraq. Turkey is helping to resupply coalition forces.

All of these nations and many others are meeting their responsibilities to the people of Iraq. Whatever their past views, every nation now has an interest in a free, successful, stable Iraq.

And the terrorists understand their own interest in the fate of that country. For them, the connection between Iraq's future and the course of the war on terror is very clear. They understand that a free Iraq will be a devastating setback to their ambitions of tyranny over the Middle East. And they've made the failure of democracy in Iraq one of their primary objectives.

By attacking coalition forces, by targeting innocent Iraqis and foreign civilians for murder, the terrorists are trying to weaken our will. Instead of weakness, they're finding resolve.

Not long ago, we intercepted the planning document being sent to leaders of Al Aida by one of their associates, a man named Zarqawi. Along with the usual threats, he had a complaint. “Our enemy,” said Zarqawi, “is growing stronger, and his intelligence data are increasing day by day. This is suffocation.”

Zarqawi's getting the idea. We will never turn over Iraq to terrorists who intend our own destruction. We will not fail the Iraqi people, who have placed their trust in us. Whatever it takes, we will fight and work to assure the success of freedom in Iraq.

Many coalition countries have sacrificed in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Among the fallen soldiers and civilians are sons and daughters of Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

We honor their courage. We pray for the comfort of their families. We will uphold the cause they served.

The rise of democratic institutions in Afghanistan and Iraq is a great step toward a goal of lasting importance to the world. We've set out to encourage reform and democracy in the greater Middle East as the alternatives to fanaticism, resentment and terror.

We've set out to break the cycle of bitterness and radicalism that has brought stagnation to a vital region and destruction to cities in America and Europe, and around the world.

This task is historic and difficult. This task is necessary and worthy of our efforts.

In the 1970s, the advance of democracy in Lisbon and Madrid inspired democratic change in Latin America.

In the 1980s, the example of Poland ignited a fire of freedom in all of Eastern Europe.

With Afghanistan and Iraq showing the way, we are confident that freedom will lift the sights and hopes of millions in the greater Middle East.

One man who believed in our cause was a Japanese diplomat named Katsuhiko Oku. He worked for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. Mr. Oku was killed when his car was ambushed.

In his diary he described his pride in the cause he had joined. “The free people of Iraq,” he wrote, “are now making steady progress in reconstructing their country, while also fighting against the threat of terrorism. We must join hands with the Iraqi people in their effort to prevent Iraq from falling into the hands of terrorists.”

This good, decent man concluded, “This is also our fight to defend freedom.”

Ladies and gentlemen, this good man from Japan was right. The establishment of a free Iraq is our fight. The success of a free Afghanistan is our fight. The war on terror is our fight. All of us are called to share the blessings of liberty and to be strong and steady in freedom's defense.

It will surely be said of our times that we lived with great challenges. Let it also be said of our times that we understood our great duties and met them in full.

May God bless our efforts.

[Transcript provided by CNN]

The President's One Year Later Speech

The president has just delivered his remarks on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Whitehouse has a streaming webcast here, and here's the first flash release from the AP:

Bush says there's “no neutral ground” in the fight against terror, just as there's no neutral ground between “good and evil” or “life and death.” The president says the battle is an “inescapable calling.”

He says any sign of weakness or retreat simply validates terrorist violence.

Two Sides To Every Story

… and here you can read Al Jazzera's report of demonstrations today against the new Iraqi constitution. Read the article, though … the arguments have the flavor of reasoned discourse and freedom of speech, not just mindless partisan ranting.

Posted By Alan at 11:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Powell Protested in Baghdad

Colin Powell made a surprise visit to Iraq yesterday, but his appearance in Baghdad was marked with a protest by Arab reporters:

..[A]as Powell began to give a news conference, with L. Paul Bremer, the top U.S. official in Iraq, by his side, Arab journalists walked out to protest the shooting deaths of two Iraqi reporters, allegedly by U.S. troops.

One Arab journalist stood up as soon as Powell walked into the room at the Baghdad convention center and read a statement saying that after one year of “U.S. occupation,” Americans cannot provide security in Iraq.

“We demand an open investigation in front of the mass media,” the Arab journalist said. “We also demand that security be guaranteed to journalists” working in Iraq, he said.

Seconds later, more than 20 journalists walked out of the room

.

March 18, 2004
Dan's Winds of War: March 18/04

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 Dan Darling. of Regnum Crucis.

TOP TOPICS

  • There is a special analysis up on the Madrid bombings for those seeking further information on the tragedy of 3/11 and their larger implications for the war on terrorism. A communique from the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades today is ordering all cells to cease operations in Spain proper as well as endorsing President Bush in the 2004 US elections (thereby fullfilling one of the theories that I put forth in the analysis). In addition, it seems there may be a link between suspected mastermind Jamal Zougam and London-based al-Qaeda supporters from Finsbury Park mosque, a location that has come up in conversation a few times in the past.
  • The powerful bombing of a Baghdad hotel killed at least 29, with the none other than Abu Musab Zarqawi. The fact that both Egyptian and Jordanian nationals were staying at the hotel would also make it an attractive target for Zarqawi, especially given his purported hatred for the Hashemite monarchy.

Other Topics Today Include: Iraq Briefing; Iran Reports; 13% of British Muslims support al-Qaeda attacks; 12 Taliban dead; French say bin Laden slipped the dragnet; Tajik bust would-be plutonium dealer; 2nd Hama in the making; Saudis kill Khaled Ali Haj; Yemen arrests al-Qaeda members; Turks foil 3rd wave of suicide bombings; al-Qaeda recycling names; and 4 African nations unite against the GSPC.

Read The Rest…

Another Hotel Blast [Updated]

FOX TV is reporting there has been an explosion at a hotel in Basrah, killing at least three people.

Basrah is an area that has been under control of British troops and has been relatively quiet.

Update: The blasts and deaths have been confirmed. It's also been confirmed that it was a car bomb that caused the explosion.

The death toll has been raised to four.

It looks like the car did not get as close to the hotel as the driver had intended. There are reports that soldiers and/or policemen were able to shoot at the car and stop it from approaching further.

Update2: Fox now has a link up. They are reporting five dead, including a child.

Update 3

The vehicle was apparently parked outside of the hotel, so the reports of police firing on the car are incorrect.

The terrorist parked the car and walked away. Civilians spotted him and handed him over to police.

Gunmen Kill Three at Iraqi TV Station
Gunmen have opened fire on a minibus carrying employees of a U.S.-funded Iraqi television station northeast of Baghdad, killing three and wounding eight, company officials say.

They said earlier reports from some witnesses and hospital officials that a bomb had also been used in the attack were incorrect.

The officials said the employees of Diyala Television were being driven to work in the minibus east of the town of Baquba on Thursday when guerrillas pulled up in a car and opened fire.

Two Bomb Planters Killed in Kirkuk
Two people were killed while trying to plant a bomb under a bridge over the Zab river near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Thursday, police said.

“The bodies of two people wearing traditional Arabic clothes and explosive charges were found at the scene,” police officer Karim Ali Jabburi said.

“The bodies are mutilated, so it is difficult to identify them,” he said.

Jabburi said the bridge was on the main road linking Kirkuk to the northern city of Mosul.

The road is used frequently by civilians, US troops and trucks transporting goods from Syria and Turkey

.

Death Toll From Yesterday Lowered

The official death toll from the attack on the Lebanon Hotel yesterday has been lowered from 29 to 17.

March 17, 2004
al-Qaeda Suspected in Hotel Bombing
US commanders said the blast appeared to be the work of al-Qaeda or its Iraqi counterpart, Ansar al-Islam, both of which have been blamed for a spate of car bombings in Iraq since last summer.

Speaking at the scene, Colonel Ralph Baker said: “This matches the typical profile of those two groups. We think this was a car bomb as it left far too big a crater to have been a rocket attack.

Updates on Hotel Bombing

*

It was huge boom followed by complete darkness and then the red glow of a fire,” said 16-year-old Walid Mohammed Abdel-Maguid, who lives near the hotel. A U.S. soldier a mile away said the blast - which took place about 8 p.m. - felt as though it were next door.
  • Vice President Dick Cheney said that “thugs and assassins” were behind the bomb attack that rocked Baghdad on Wednesday, but the US administration insisted it would not derail plans for a democratic Iraq .
  • [6:43] Death toll updated to 29

[To be updated]

27 Dead In Baghdad Hotel Blast
A MAJOR blast has decimated a hotel in central Baghdad this morning, killing as many as 27 people and injuring more than 40 accoring to US troops on the scene.

Iraqi authorities claimed the source of the blast at the Mount Lebanon Hotel was a “rocket attack”.

But the scale of the devastation suggested it could not have been a small rocket-propelled grenade, and there are fears it may have been some sort of crude missile or a stash of explosives ignited by a small rocket.

US sources at the scene said it was more likely a car bomb, perhaps even driven into the entrance of the hotel.

(NEWS.com.au)

Blast Rips Through Baghdad Hotel, At Least 10 Dead
A powerful blast ripped through a Baghdad hotel and several neighboring buildings on Wednesday evening, killing at least 10 people and sending a plume of flames and smoke into the night sky in the center of the city.

Rescuers pulled several bodies out of the rubble of the Mount Lebanon Hotel, a small hotel used mainly by Iraqis and Arabs, and blazing buildings nearby. They said several more people were believed to still be Rescuers pulled several bodies out of the rubble of the Mount Lebanon Hotel, a small hotel used mainly by Iraqis and Arabs, and blazing buildings nearby. They said several more people were believed to still be trapped inside.

(Reuters/Haaretz)

Several Dead After Blast Rips Through Baghdad Hotel
A powerful blast ripped through a Baghdad hotel and neighboring houses Wednesday evening, killing several people and sending flames and smoke into the night sky in the center of the city.

Correspondent Luke Baker said several bodies were being pulled out of the rubble of the Mount Lebanon Hotel, a small hotel used mainly by Iraqis and Arabs.

The hotel, neighboring buildings and several cars were ablaze, and rescuers said many people were trapped under the rubble. The blast sent a column of flame and smoke into the night sky.

(Reuters)

Blast Hits Palestine Hotel Area: ABC News

ABC News is reporting the Baghdad blast has struck an area near the Palestine Hotel.

Unedited video footage, streamed via ABCNews.com, shows scores of wounded, with massive flames engulfing an area more that appears more than one block wide.

ABC is reporting witnesses describe a car bomb exploded in a residential and commercial area near the Palestine Hotel.

Massive Explosion Levels Baghdad Hotel
Witnesses say an explosion in central Baghdad on Wednesday destroyed a hotel.

Some witnesses say a car bomb caused the blast, while others say it was a rocket attack. Authorities haven't confirmed the cause.

Early reports said the blast shook the Palestine Hotel, where many foreign contractors and journalists are based. TV footage showed heavy damage to a building and rescuers picking through fiery rubble.

The explosion occurred behind Firdaus Square, where a bronze statue of Saddam Hussein was felled April 9 during the Marines' entry to Baghdad.

(AP)

Major Bombing In Baghdad

All news networks now carrying FLASH traffic: what looks to be a large car bombing Firdaus Square in Baghdad. Casualties and fatalities certain. This is within the past fifteen minutes.

UPDATE — Fox News ticker: “Baghdad's Mount Lebanon Hotel destroyed.” Several killed.

Video on all news channels: casualties being removed from burning wreckage.

France's War for Oil

Trent Telenko writes:

Read this NY Post article. Color me unsurprised:

“Many Americans are convinced even today that the war in Iraq was all about oil. And they're right - but oil was the key for French President Jacques Chirac, not for the United States. In documents I obtained during an investigation of the French relationship to Saddam Hussein, the French interest in maintaining Saddam Hussein in power was spelled out in excruciating detail. The price tag: close to $100 billion. That was what French oil companies stood to profit in the first seven years of their exclusive oil arrangements - had Saddam remained in power.”

Hey A.L., you still wanna argue the French haven't gone evil with a capital “E?”

Blix Believed Iraq Posessed Banned Arms

L.A. Times reports that Hans Blix personally believed Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, though he still believes the inspections process could have eventually made a conclusive determination:

U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said Tuesday that until the final days before the war, he and U.S. officials — and perhaps even Saddam Hussein — believed that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. But rather than taking the time to find out for sure, he said, the momentum of war preparations made the Bush administration deaf to evidence that contradicted their conclusions.

“They were wrong. Their conviction was based on faith, and it was wrong,” he said. Given a little more time, Blix added, the weapons inspectors might have been able to discredit some of the misinterpreted intelligence.

The lessons Washington should learn, he said, are to use more critical judgment and less reliance on defectors, and to “get off the spin.” The administration's portrayal of its intelligence was meant to create “a far more ominous picture than there was,” Blix said.

“Saddam was not a threat to the region, he was not a danger to his neighbors,” Blix said. “He was a horror to his own people. The rest was an oversell.”

Blix conceded that his own gut feeling at the time, based on Hussein's past intentions and capabilities, was that Iraq did have unconventional weapons. “I thought that there were weapons of mass destruction like everyone else.”

The fact that Hussein's Republican Guards were equipped with gas masks and biohazard suits suggests that the Iraqi leader's own scientists had misled him about the military's capabilities.

“It seems that, at any rate, he might not have been all that well-informed, that they might have fooled him a bit about what they were doing, that he was more optimistic about getting new weapons and so forth,” Blix said. “I think there's always a risk that in a totalitarian state that people will tell the dictator what they think he wants to hear.”

March 16, 2004
Shootings in Iraq Kill Civilians, Iraqi Police Officers

An Iraqi woman working as a translator was killed in a drive-by shooting in Mosul. The woman, who was not identified, was on her way to work at the U.S Military base. Her brother, who was also in her car, was injured.BAGHDAD, Iraq Two German civilians working on a water supply project and two Iraqis - a driver and a policeman, were killed in a drive-by shooting Tuesday south of Baghdad, police and hospital officials said.

Near Mussayab, two Iraqi police officers were wounded and two German civilian water workers as well as two Iraqi policemen were killed in an attack.


The six victims were traveling in two cars when they were attacked, Omran said. He said the Germans were carrying weapons because they had been attacked in the same area before.
Blogger's parents among those killed in Mosul

Election Projection's Scott Elliott's parents were among those killed in Mosul yesterday.

Three baptist aid workers from U.S. killed, 2 injured in northern Iraq drive-by shooting

Our thoughts are with Scott and his family.

(thanks to the mysterious “jones” who left the info in the earlier post)

With Liberation Comes ... Opinion Polls

The Oxford Research International poll is full of findings. Some headlines (via KUNA):

Almost half (49%) of those questioned believe the invasion of their country by US and UK troops was right, compared with 39% who said it was wrong …

… Some 57% said that life was better now than under Saddam, against 19% who said it was worse and 23% who said it was about the same. Iraqi people appeared optimistic about the future, with 71% saying they expected things to be better in a years time, 6% predicting it will be worse and 9% the same. Overall, 70% said that life was good now, compared with 29% who said it was bad …

Just a quarter -25% - said they had confidence in coalition forces to deliver their needs. There were far higher levels of confidence in Iraqi religious leaders (70%), local police (68%) and the new Iraqi army (56%). More than half (51%) were opposed to the continued presence of coalition forces in Iraq, against 39% who supported it.

Read the BBC report here.

Democracy. Whiskey. Sexy. Telemarkety.

Welcome Back ...

Hi. Yes, I'm still alive. And thanks for coming by the site. Here's some news Japan says it's staying in regardless of Spain's move (via AFX). Now that global terrorists have learned that homeland intimidation works, we'll see how long it takes for them to state a similar tragedy in Tokyo.

Posted By Alan at 06:45 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack
March 15, 2004
Three Southern Baptist aid workers killed in drive-by
RICHMOND, Va. (BP)—Three Americans researching needs for humanitarian projects in northern Iraq were killed and two were wounded in a drive-by shooting March 15 in Mosul. The workers were in the area under the auspices of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board.

Killed were Larry T. Elliott, 60, and Jean Dover Elliott, 58, of Cary, N.C., and Karen Denise Watson, 38, of Bakersfield, Calif. The Elliotts had served with the International Mission Board in Honduras since 1978 and transferred to the Middle East in February 2004. Watson had been with the board since March 2003.

Three Baptist aid workers from U.S. killed, 2 wounded in northern Iraq drive-by shooting

MilBlogger Killed in Iraq

BOB ZANGAS was killed last Wednesday in an ambush south of Baghdad. He was a Marine Corps Reservist working in a civilian capacity for the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Go read his final entry in his weblog, and pay your respects.

Semper Fi, Bob.

Originally posted at The Indepundit.

Spanish Troops to Leave Iraq

In a move that surprises no one, the PM-elect of Spain has promised that he will officially withdraw all Spanish troops from Iraq.

Once he puts together his governing coalition, is installed as prime minister and consults with political parties, “the Spanish troops which are in Iraq will be returning home,” he told Cadena Ser radio.
March 14, 2004
Roadside Bombs Kill Six Soldiers Over Weekend
A bomb exploded late Saturday night killing three US troops and injuring a fourth on patrol in southeast Baghdad, a senior military official said.
…[A] similar attack in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit that killed two American soldiers and wounded three others.
Hours later, west of the city, a newly arrived soldier from the US national guard was killed when the convoy he was travelling in was hit by a separate bomb attack at about 6:30 am (0300 GMT) Sunday.
March 13, 2004
Uprising in Iran?

Noted by SR - this posting on a photoblog/discussion board out of Iran

Mar 13, 2004
The demonstrations began some hours ago. Fereydunkenar is a small town in the northern province of Mazandaran. The people attacked and were able to liberate a building used by the Islamic Republic's security forces (Sentry Post #2). They then started moving to the city of Babolsar, but were soon confronted by Mazandaran's provincial security forces. They've been pushed back into Fereydunkenar and the latest news I've heard is that the small town is now divided between the rebels and the security forces and the scene of fierce street battles.

At least 5 people have been killed and scores injured.

Numerous photos of street demonstrations are included in the article.

There is also this -

Deadly clashes rocked, today, the northern city of Fereydoon-Kenar located by the Caspian sea in the Mazandaran province. Several protesters have been killed and tens of other wounded and arrested.

Several official buildings, including the Security divison, have been damaged as the crowd retaliated to the regime forces extreme brutality and use of lethal force.

The situation is very tense and the regime forces have blocked all accesses to the city in order to avoid the spread of riots to the neighboring cities, such as, Babolsar and especially Amol where sporadic clashes have happened in the last days.

Currently no reflections on the major wire services…

Iraqi Policemen Tied to Killings

The possibility that members of the U.S. led Iraq police force are actually working against the coalition is a frightening one. But it appears to be so. Arrests made in the murder of two U.S. civilians in Iraq included two Iraqi policemen.

American officials said today that four men arrested in connection with the killing of two American civilians working for the American occupation authority were apparently members of the new 70,000-member American-trained Iraqi police force.

A fifth man seized in the killings was a former member of the police force under Saddam Hussein, an American spokesman said, while the sixth man was described as a civilian.

In related news, the two murdered civilians have been identified:

At a news conference in Baghdad, American officials identified one of the victims as Fern L. Holland, 33, of Tulsa, Okla., a Washington lawyer who was in Iraq to lead classes in democracy and women's rights. Her American companion was identified as Robert J. Zangis, 44, of Prince William County, Va., a computer software salesman and former Marine Corps helicopter pilot who fought in Iraq last year as a reservist, then returned here to work with Iraqi newspapers and broadcasting outlets on issues of press freedom.
Roadside Bomb Kills Two Soldiers
A roadside bomb killed two American soldiers and wounded four others Saturday, the first casualties suffered by an Army regiment taking over security in Saddam Hussein's hometown as part of a giant troop rotation in Iraq.

The bomb destroyed the troops' armored Humvee as they patrolled through downtown Tikrit at around 5 a.m., hours before the outgoing 4th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment handed over security duties in the area from to the 18th Infantry Regiment at a ceremony on Saturday.

In the attack, gunmen opened fire on the rear vehicle in the three-Humvee patrol, then the bomb went off by the second Humvee, said one of the soldiers at the scene.

Full Story

March 11, 2004
American Charged in Iraq Conspiracy

CNN

An American woman and self-declared antiwar activist was arrested Thursday on charges of conspiring with the Iraqi government in New York and Baghdad.

A federal indictment states Susan Lindauer in January 2003 delivered a letter to the home of a U.S. government official saying she had contacts with members of the Saddam Hussein regime “in an unsuccessful attempt to influence United States foreign policy.”

CNN has learned that the government official mentioned is White House chief of staff Andrew Card.

Update On Civilian Contractors Executed In Iraq

Updating Michele's post below, CBS reports that among the two civilian Department of Defense contractors and the Iraqi translator killed by terrorists disguised as policemen was Fern Holland, a program manager for women's initiatives in Iraq:

Holland was working with Iraqi women on the newly developed Iraqi constitution and was leading women's rights efforts in the part of the country where she was killed.

The way it happened, reports [Dan] Rather, suggests that anti-American forces have adopted new tactics of disguise and deception.

Thirty-five miles south of Baghdad, on the road to the town of Hillah, the two American civilian employees of the Department of Defense and their Iraqi translator were executed by terrorists disguised as Iraqi police manning a fake checkpoint.

Polish coalition forces later arrested five suspects still driving the Americans' car with the bodies hidden inside.

Bremer has requested that the FBI investigate the slayings of the Americans said Dan Senor, spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition.

In the slaying, it was not yet known whether the gunmen were specifically targeting coalition officials. “We're starting to form views on that,” Senor said.

Senor said some reported details of the attack were incorrect, but would not elaborate. He did not identify the dead, pending notification of their families.

Via Tim Blair

March 10, 2004
Arrest Rumors

Rumors are circulating that the former head of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party has surrendered to U-S forces, and Iraqi police arrested a leader of the terrorist group Ansar al-Islam.

Digging around for confirmations.

Rebels Disguised as Policemen Kill Three

Gunmen posing as police killed three people Tuesday; two American civilians and an Iraqi translator. The gunmen stopped the car in which the three were traveling outside HIllah. They were all employees of the coalition — at a makeshift checkpoint south of Baghdad, the coalition said Wednesday.

Polish troops later found the car and arrested the five Iraqis in the vehicle. They also found the three bodies of the victims, who were all coaltion employees, in the car.

[various sources]

March 09, 2004
Some Headlines ...

… you just gotta love. From The Lakeland Ledger / AP: Blix Likens Iraq War to Witch Hunt. Hans notes:

“The governments were like the witch hunters of past centuries. They were so convinced that there were witches in Iraq that every black cat became proof of it,”

The White House reply:

“Maybe Mr. Blix felt we should trust in the good intentions of Saddam Hussein.”
Posted By Alan at 08:54 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack
Constitutional Critics

Many news outlets today, here Kansas.com, have picked up an AP story noting … if you can believe it … that the “Iraq Constitution Faces Tough Critics.” Shocker, but read the story for the rest of the dog-bites-man analysis.

Posted By Alan at 08:50 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack
March 08, 2004
Entire Text of Iraqi Constitution

It's a long one, but worth reading through. We'll pick out some of the highlights later.

Full text below.

council.jpg

Raw Data: Iraqi Constitution

Monday, March 08, 2004

LAW OF ADMINISTRATION FOR THE STATE OF IRAQ FOR THE TRANSITIONAL PERIOD

8 March 2004

PREAMBLE

The people of Iraq, striving to reclaim their freedom, which was usurped by the previous tyrannical regime, rejecting violence and coercion in all their forms, and particularly when used as instruments of governance, have determined that they shall hereafter remain a free people governed under the rule of law.

These people, affirming today their respect for international law, especially having been amongst the founders of the United Nations, working to reclaim their legitimate place among nations, have endeavored at the same time to preserve the unity of their homeland in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity in order to draw the features of the future new Iraq, and to establish the mechanisms aiming, amongst other aims, to erase the effects of racist and sectarian policies and practices.

This Law is now established to govern the affairs of Iraq during the transitional period until a duly elected government, operating under a permanent and legitimate constitution achieving full democracy, shall come into being.

CHAPTER ONE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES

Article 1.

(A) This Law shall be called the “Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period,” and the phrase “this Law” wherever it appears in this legislation shall mean the “Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period.”

(B) Gender-specific language shall apply equally to male and female.

© The Preamble to this Law is an integral part of this Law.

Article 2.

(A) The term “transitional period” shall refer to the period beginning on 30 June 2004 and lasting until the formation of an elected Iraqi government pursuant to a permanent constitution as set forth in this Law, which in any case shall be no later than 31 December 2005, unless the provisions of Article 61 are applied.

(B) The transitional period shall consist of two phases.

(1) The first phase shall begin with the formation of a fully sovereign Iraqi Interim Government that takes power on 30 June 2004. This government shall be constituted in accordance with a process of extensive deliberations and consultations with cross-sections of the Iraqi people conducted by the Governing Council and the Coalition Provisional Authority and possibly in consultation with the United Nations. This government shall exercise authority in accordance with this Law, including the fundamental principles and rights specified herein, and with an annex that shall be agreed upon and issued before the beginning of the transitional period and that shall be an integral part of this Law.

(2) The second phase shall begin after the formation of the Iraqi Transitional Government, which will take place after elections for the National Assembly have been held as stipulated in this Law, provided that, if possible, these elections are not delayed beyond 31 December 2004, and, in any event, beyond 31 January 2005. This second phase shall end upon the formation of an Iraqi government pursuant to a permanent constitution.

Article 3.

(A) This Law is the Supreme Law of the land and shall be binding in all parts of Iraq without exception. No amendment to this Law may be made except by a three-fourths majority of the members of the National Assembly and the unanimous approval of the Presidency Council. Likewise, no amendment may be made that could abridge in any way the rights of the Iraqi people cited in Chapter Two; extend the transitional period beyond the timeframe cited in this Law; delay the holding of elections to a new assembly; reduce the powers of the regions or governorates; or affect Islam, or any other religions or sects and their rites.

(B) Any legal provision that conflicts with this Law is null and void.

© This Law shall cease to have effect upon the formation of an elected government pursuant to a permanent constitution.

Article 4.

The system of government in Iraq shall be republican, federal, democratic, and pluralistic, and powers shall be shared between the federal government and the regional governments, governorates, municipalities, and local administrations. The federal system shall be based upon geographic and historical realities and the separation of powers, and not upon origin, race, ethnicity, nationality, or confession.

Article 5.

The Iraqi Armed Forces shall be subject to the civilian control of the Iraqi Transitional Government, in accordance with the contents of Chapters Three and Five of this Law.

Article 6.

The Iraqi Transitional Government shall take effective steps to end the vestiges of the oppressive acts of the previous regime arising from forced displacement, deprivation of citizenship, expropriation of financial assets and property, and dismissal from government employment for political, racial, or sectarian reasons.

Article 7.

A) Islam is the official religion of the State and is to be considered a source of legislation. No law that contradicts the universally agreed tenets of Islam, the principles of democracy, or the rights cited in Chapter Two of this Law may be enacted during the transitional period. This Law respects the Islamic identity of the majority of the Iraqi people and guarantees the full religious rights of all individuals to freedom of religious belief and practice.

(B) Iraq is a country of many nationalities, and the Arab people in Iraq are an inseparable part of the Arab nation.

Article 8.

The flag, anthem, and emblem of the State shall be fixed by law.

Article 9.

The Arabic language and the Kurdish language are the two official languages of Iraq. The right of Iraqis to educate their children in their mother tongue, such as Turcoman, Syriac, or Armenian, in government educational institutions in accordance with educational guidelines, or in any other language in private educational institutions, shall be guaranteed. The scope of the term “official language” and the means of applying the provisions of this Article shall be defined by law and shall include:

(1) Publication of the official gazette, in the two languages;

(2) Speech and expression in official settings, such as the National Assembly, the Council of Ministers, courts, and official conferences, in either of the two languages;

(3) Recognition and publication of official documents and correspondence in the two languages;

(4) Opening schools that teach in the two languages, in accordance with educational guidelines;

(5) Use of both languages in any other settings enjoined by the principle of equality (such as bank notes, passports, and stamps);

(6) Use of both languages in the federal institutions and agencies in the Kurdistan region.

CHAPTER TWO FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

Article 10.

As an expression of the free will and sovereignty of the Iraqi people, their representatives shall form the governmental structures of the State of Iraq. The Iraqi Transitional Government and the governments of the regions, governorates, municipalities, and local administrations shall respect the rights of the Iraqi people, including those rights cited in this Chapter.

Article 11.

(A) Anyone who carries Iraqi nationality shall be deemed an Iraqi citizen. His citizenship shall grant him all the rights and duties stipulated in this Law and shall be the basis of his relation to the homeland and the State.

(B) No Iraqi may have his Iraqi citizenship withdrawn or be exiled unless he is a naturalized citizen who, in his application for citizenship, as established in a court of law, made material falsifications on the basis of which citizenship was granted.

© Each Iraqi shall have the right to carry more than one citizenship. Any Iraqi whose citizenship was withdrawn because he acquired another citizenship shall be deemed an Iraqi.

(D) Any Iraqi whose Iraqi citizenship was withdrawn for political, religious, racial, or sectarian reasons has the right to reclaim his Iraqi citizenship.

(E) Decision Number 666 (1980) of the dissolved Revolutionary Command Council is annuled, and anyone whose citizenship was withdrawn on the basis of this decree shall be deemed an Iraqi.

(F) The National Assembly must issue laws pertaining to citizenship and naturalization consistent with the provisions of this Law

(G) The Courts shall examine all disputes airising from the application of the provisions relating to citizenship.

Article 12.

All Iraqis are equal in their rights without regard to gender, sect, opinion, belief, nationality, religion, or origin, and they are equal before the law. Discrimination against an Iraqi citizen on the basis of his gender, nationality, religion, or origin is prohibited. Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the security of his person. No one may be deprived of his life or liberty, except in accordance with legal procedures. All are equal before the courts.

Article 13.

(A) Public and private freedoms shall be protected.

(B) The right of free expression shall be protected.

© The right of free peaceable assembly and the right to join associations freely, as well as the right to form and join unions and political parties freely, in accordance with the law, shall be guaranteed.

(D) Each Iraqi has the right of free movement in all parts of Iraq and the right to travel abroad and return freely.

(E) Each Iraqi has the right to demonstrate and strike peaceably in accordance with the law.

(F) Each Iraqi has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religious belief and practice. Coercion in such matters shall be prohibited.

(G) Slavery, the slave trade, forced labor, and involuntary servitude with or without pay, shall be forbidden.

(H) Each Iraqi has the right to privacy.

Article 14.

The individual has the right to security, education, health care, and social security. The Iraqi State and its governmental units, including the federal government, the regions, governorates, municipalities, and local administrations, within the limits of their resources and with due regard to other vital needs, shall strive to provide prosperity and employment opportunities to the people.

Article 15.

(A) No civil law shall have retroactive effect unless the law so stipulates. There shall be neither a crime, nor punishment, except by law in effect at the time the crime is committed.

(B) Police, investigators, or other governmental authorities may not violate the sanctity of private residences, whether these authorities belong to the federal or regional governments, governorates, municipalities, or local administrations, unless a judge or investigating magistrate has issued a search warrant in accordance with applicable law on the basis of information provided by a sworn individual who knew that bearing false witness would render him liable to punishment. Extreme exigent circumstances, as determined by a court of competent jurisdiction, may justify a warrantless search, but such exigencies shall be narrowly construed. In the event that a warrantless search is carried out in the absence of an extreme exigent circumstance, the evidence so seized, and any other evidence found derivatively from such search, shall be inadmissible in connection with a criminal charge, unless the court determines that the person who carried out the warrantless search believed reasonably and in good faith that the search was in accordance with the law.

© No one may be unlawfully arrested or detained, and no one may be detained by reason of political or religious beliefs.

(D) All persons shall be guaranteed the right to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, regardless of whether the proceeding is civil or criminal. Notice of the proceeding and its legal basis must be provided to the accused without delay.

(E) The accused is innocent until proven guilty pursuant to law, and he likewise has the right to engage independent and competent counsel, to remain silent in response to questions addressed to him with no compulsion to testify for any reason, to participate in preparing his defense, and to summon and examine witnesses or to ask the judge to do so. At the time a person is arrested, he must be notified of these rights.

(F) The right to a fair, speedy, and open trial shall be guaranteed.

(G) Every person deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall have the right of recourse to a court to determine the legality of his arrest or detention without delay and to order his release if this occurred in an illegal manner.

(H) After being found innocent of a charge, an accused may not be tried once again on the same charge.

(I) Civilians may not be tried before a military tribunal. Special or exceptional courts may not be established.

(J) Torture in all its forms, physical or mental, shall be prohibited under all circumstances, as shall be cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. No confession made under compulsion, torture, or threat thereof shall be relied upon or admitted into evidence for any reason in any proceeding, whether criminal or otherwise.

Article 16.

(A) Public property is sacrosanct, and its protection is the duty of every citizen.

(B) The right to private property shall be protected, and no one may be prevented from disposing of his property except within the limits of law. No one shall be deprived of his property except by eminent domain, in circumstances and in the manner set forth in law, and on condition that he is paid just and timely compensation.

© Each Iraqi citizen shall have the full and unfettered right to own real property in all parts of Iraq without restriction.

Article 17.

It shall not be permitted to possess, bear, buy, or sell arms except on licensure issued in accordance with the law.

Article 18.

There shall be no taxation or fee except by law.

Article 19.

No political refugee who has been granted asylum pursuant to applicable law may be surrendered or returned forcibly to the country from which he fled.

Article 20.

(A) Every Iraqi who fulfills the conditions stipulated in the electoral law has the right to stand for election and cast his ballot secretly in free, open, fair, competitive, and periodic elections.

(B) No Iraqi may be discriminated against for purposes of voting in elections on the basis of gender, religion, sect, race, belief, ethnic origin, language, wealth, or literacy.

Article 21.

Neither the Iraqi Transitional Government nor the governments and administrations of the regions, governorates, and municipalities, nor local administrations may interfere with the right of the Iraqi people to develop the institutions of civil society, whether in cooperation with international civil society organizations or otherwise.

Article 22.

If, in the course of his work, an official of any government office, whether in the federal government, the regional governments, the governorate and municipal administrations, or the local administrations, deprives an individual or a group of the rights guaranteed by this Law or any other Iraqi laws in force, this individual or group shall have the right to maintain a cause of action against that employee to seek compensation for the damages caused by such deprivation, to vindicate his rights, and to seek any other legal measure. If the court decides that the official had acted with a sufficient degree of good faith and in the belief that his actions were consistent with the law, then he is not required to pay compensation.

Article 23.

The enumeration of the foregoing rights must not be interpreted to mean that they are the only rights enjoyed by the Iraqi people. They enjoy all the rights that befit a free people possessed of their human dignity, including the rights stipulated in international treaties and agreements, other instruments of international law that Iraq has signed and to which it has acceded, and others that are deemed binding upon it, and in the law of nations. Non-Iraqis within Iraq shall enjoy all human rights not inconsistent with their status as non-citizens.

CHAPTER THREE THE IRAQI TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT

Article 24.

(A) The Iraqi Transitional Government, which is also referred to in this Law as the federal government, shall consist of the National Assembly; the Presidency Council; the Council of Ministers, including the Prime Minister; and the judicial authority.

(B) The three authorities, legislative, executive, and judicial, shall be separate and independent of one another.

© No official or employee of the Iraqi Transitional Government shall enjoy immunity for criminal acts committed while in office.

Article 25.

The Iraqi Transitional Government shall have exclusive competence in the following matters:

(A) Formulating foreign policy and diplomatic representation; negotiating, signing, and ratifying international treaties and agreements; formulating foreign economic and trade policy and sovereign debt policies;

(B) Formulating and executing national security policy, including creating and maintaining armed forces to secure, protect, and guarantee the security of the country’s borders and to defend Iraq;

© Formulating fiscal policy, issuing currency, regulating customs, regulating commercial policy across regional and governorate boundaries in Iraq, drawing up the national budget of the State, formulating monetary policy, and establishing and administering a central bank;

(D) Regulating weights and measures and formulating a general policy on wages;

(E) Managing the natural resources of Iraq, which belongs to all the people of all the regions and governorates of Iraq, in consultation with the governments of the regions and the administrations of the governorates, and distributing the revenues resulting from their sale through the national budget in an equitable manner proportional to the distribution of population throughout the country, and with due regard for areas that were unjustly deprived of these revenues by the previous regime, for dealing with their situations in a positive way, for their needs, and for the degree of development of the different areas of the country;

(F) Regulating Iraqi citizenship, immigration, and asylum; and

(G) Regulating telecommunications policy.

Article 26.

(A) Except as otherwise provided in this Law, the laws in force in Iraq on 30 June 2004 shall remain in effect unless and until rescinded or amended by the Iraqi Transitional Government in accordance with this Law.

(B) Legislation issued by the federal legislative authority shall supersede any other legislation issued by any other legislative authority in the event that they contradict each other, except as provided in Article 54(B).

© The laws, regulations, orders, and directives issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority pursuant to its authority under international law shall remain in force until rescinded or amended by legislation duly enacted and having the force of law.

Article 27.

(A) The Iraqi Armed Forces shall consist of the active and reserve units, and elements thereof. The purpose of these forces is the defense of Iraq.

(B) Armed forces and militias not under the command structure of the Iraqi Transitional Government are prohibited, except as provided by federal law.

© The Iraqi Armed Forces and its personnel, including military personnel working in the Ministry of Defense or any offices or organizations subordinate to it, may not stand for election to political office, campaign for candidates, or participate in other activities forbidden by Ministry of Defense regulations. This ban encompasses the activities of the personnel mentioned above acting in their personal or official capacities. Nothing in this Article shall infringe upon the right of these personnel to vote in elections.

(D) The Iraqi Intelligence Service shall collect information, assess threats to national security, and advise the Iraqi government. This Service shall be under civilian control, shall be subject to legislative oversight, and shall operate pursuant to law and in accordance with recognized principles of human rights.

(E) The Iraqi Transitional Government shall respect and implement Iraq’s international obligations regarding the non-proliferation, non-development, non-production, and non-use of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and associated equipment, materiel, technologies, and delivery systems for use in the development, manufacture, production, and use of such weapons.

Article 28.

(A) Members of the National Assembly; the Presidency Council; the Council of Ministers, including the Prime Minister; and judges and justices of the courts may not be appointed to any other position in or out of government. Any member of the National Assembly who becomes a member of the Presidency Council or Council of Ministers shall be deemed to have resigned his membership in the National Assembly.

(B) In no event may a member of the armed forces be a member of the National Assembly, minister, Prime Minister, or member of the Presidency Council unless the individual has resigned his commission or rank, or retired from duty at least eighteen months prior to serving.

Article 29.

Upon the assumption of full authority by the Iraqi Interim Government in accordance with Article 2(B)(1), above, the Coalition Provisional Authority shall be dissolved and the work of the Governing Council shall come to an end.

CHAPTER FOUR THE TRANSITIONAL LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY

Article 30.

(A) During the transitional period, the State of Iraq shall have a legislative authority known as the National Assembly. Its principal mission shall be to legislate and exercise oversight over the work of the executive authority.

(B) Laws shall be issued in the name of the people of Iraq. Laws, regulations, and directives related to them shall be published in the official gazette and shall take effect as of the date of their publication, unless they stipulate otherwise.

© The National Assembly shall be elected in accordance with an electoral law and a political parties law. The electoral law shall aim to achieve the goal of having women constitute no less than one-quarter of the members of the National Assembly and of having fair representation for all communities in Iraq, including the Turcomans, ChaldoAssyrians, and others.

(D) Elections for the National Assembly shall take place by 31 December 2004 if possible, and in any case no later than by 31 January 2005.

Article 31.

(A) The National Assembly shall consist of 275 members. It shall enact a law dealing with the replacement of its members in the event of resignation, removal, or death.

(B) A nominee to the National Assembly must fulfill the following conditions:

(1) He shall be an Iraqi no less than 30 years of age.

(2) He shall not have been a member of the dissolved Ba’ath Party with the rank of Division Member or higher, unless exempted pursuant to the applicable legal rules.

(3) If he was once a member of the dissolved Ba’ath Party with the rank of Full Member, he shall be required to sign a document renouncing the Ba’ath Party and disavowing all of his past links with it before becoming eligible to be a candidate, as well as to swear that he no longer has any dealings or connection with Ba’ath Party organizations. If it is established in court that he lied or fabricated on this score, he shall lose his seat in the National Assembly.

(4) He shall not have been a member of the former agencies of repression and shall not have contributed to or participated in the persecution of citizens.

(5) He shall not have enriched himself in an illegitimate manner at the expense of the homeland and public finance.

(6) He shall not have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude and shall have a good reputation.

(7) He shall have at least a secondary school diploma, or equivalent

(8) He shall not be a member of the armed forces at the time of his nomination.

Article 32.

(A) The National Assembly shall draw up its own internal procedures, and it shall sit in public session unless circumstances require otherwise, consistent with its internal procedures. The first session of the Assembly shall be chaired by its oldest member.

(B) The National Assembly shall elect, from its own members, a president and two deputy presidents of the National Assembly. The president of the National Assembly shall be the individual who receives the greatest number of votes for that office; the first deputy president the next highest; and the second deputy president the next. The president of the National Assembly may vote on an issue, but may not participate in the debates, unless he temporarily steps out of the chair immediately prior to addressing the issue.

© A bill shall not be voted upon by the National Assembly unless it has been read twice at a regular session of the Assembly, on condition that at least two days intervene between the two readings, and after the bill has been placed on the agenda of the session at least four days prior to the vote.

Article 33.

(A) Meetings of the National Assembly shall be public, and transcripts of its meetings shall be recorded and published. The vote of every member of the National Assembly shall be recorded and made public. Decisions in the National Assembly shall be taken by simple majority unless this Law stipulates otherwise.

(B) The National Assembly must examine bills proposed by the Council of Ministers, including budget bills.

© Only the Council of Ministers shall have the right to present a proposed national budget. The National Assembly has the right to reallocate proposed spending and to reduce the total amounts in the general budget. It also has the right to propose an increase in the overall amount of expenditures to the Council of Ministers if necessary.

(D) Members of the National Assembly shall have the right to propose bills, consistent with the internal procedures that drawn up by the Assembly.

(E) The Iraqi Armed Forces may not be dispatched outside Iraq even for the purpose of defending against foreign aggression except with the approval of the National Assembly and upon the request of the Presidency Council.

(F) Only the National Assembly shall have the power to ratify international treaties and agreements.

(G) The oversight function performed by the National Assembly and its committees shall include the right of interpellation of executive officials, including members of the Presidency Council, the Council of Ministers, including the Prime Minister, and any less senior official of the executive authority. This shall encompass the right to investigate, request information, and issue subpoenas for persons to appear before them.

Article 34.

Each member of the National Assembly shall enjoy immunity for statements made while the Assembly is in session, and the member may not be sued before the courts for such. A member may not be placed under arrest during a session of the National Assembly, unless the member is accused of a crime and the National Assembly agrees to lift his immunity or if he is caught in flagrante delicto in the commission of a felony.

CHAPTER FIVE THE TRANSITIONAL EXECUTIVE AUTHORITY

Article 35.

The executive authority during the transitional period shall consist of the Presidency Council, the Council of Ministers, and its presiding Prime Minister.

Article 36.

(A) The National Assembly shall elect a President of the State and two Deputies. They shall form the Presidency Council, the function of which will be to represent the sovereignty of Iraq and oversee the higher affairs of the country. The election of the Presidency Council shall take place on the basis of a single list and by a two-thirds majority of the members’ votes. The National Assembly has the power to remove any member of the Presidency Council of the State for incompetence or lack of integrity by a three-fourths majority of its members’ votes. In the event of a vacancy in the Presidency Council, the National Assembly shall, by a vote of two-thirds of its members, elect a replacement to fill the vacancy.

(B) It is a prerequisite for a member of the Presidency Council to fulfill the same conditions as the members of the National Assembly, with the following observations:

(1) He must be at least forty years of age.

(2) He must possess a good reputation, integrity, and rectitude.

(3) If he was a member of the dissolved Ba’ath Party, he must have left the dissolved Party at least ten years before its fall.

(4) He must not have participated in repressing the intifada of 1991 or the Anfal campaign and must not have committed a crime against the Iraqi people.

© The Presidency Council shall take its decisions unanimously, and its members may not deputize others as proxies.

Article 37.

The Presidency Council may veto any legislation passed by the National Assembly, on condition that this be done within fifteen days after the Presidency Council is notified by the president of the National Assembly of the passage of such legislation. In the event of a veto, the legislation shall be returned to the National Assembly, which has the right to pass the legislation again by a two-thirds majority not subject to veto within a period not to exceed thirty days.

Article 38.

(A) The Presidency Council shall name a Prime Minister unanimously, as well as the members of the Council of Ministers upon the recommendation of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister and Council of Ministers shall then seek to obtain a vote of confidence by simple majority from the National Assembly prior to commencing their work as a government. The Presidency Council must agree on a candidate for the post of Prime Minister within two weeks. In the event that it fails to do so, the responsibility of naming the Prime Minister reverts to the National Assembly. In that event, the National Assembly must confirm the nomination by a two-thirds majority. If the Prime Minister is unable to nominate his Council of Ministers within one month, the Presidency Council shall name another Prime Minister.

(B) The qualifications for Prime Minister must be the same as for the members of the Presidency Council except that his age must not be less than 35 years upon his taking office.

Article 39.

(A) The Council of Ministers shall, with the approval of the Presidency Council, appoint representatives to negotiate the conclusion of international treaties and agreements. The Presidency Council shall recommend passage of a law by the National Assembly to ratify such treaties and agreements.

(B) The Presidency Council shall carry out the function of commander-in-chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces only for ceremonial and protocol purposes. It shall have no command authority. It shall have the right to be briefed, to inquire, and to advise. Operationally, national command authority on military matters shall flow from the Prime Minister to the Minister of Defense to the military chain of command of the Iraqi Armed Forces.

© The Presidency Council shall, as more fully set forth in Chapter Six, below, appoint, upon recommendation of the Higher Juridical Council, the Presiding Judge and members of the Federal Supreme Court.

(D) The Council of Ministers shall appoint the Director-General of the Iraqi National Intelligence Service, as well as officers of the Iraqi Armed Forces at the rank of general or above. Such appointments shall be subject to confirmation by the National Assembly by simple majority of those of its members present.

Article 40.

(A) The Prime Minister and the ministers shall be responsible before the National Assembly, and this Assembly shall have the right to withdraw its confidence either in the Prime Minister or in the ministers collectively or individually. In the event that confidence in the Prime Minister is withdrawn, the entire Council of Ministers shall be dissolved, and Article 40(B), below, shall become operative.

(B) In the event of a vote of no confidence with respect to the entire Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers shall remain in office to carry out their functions for a period not to exceed thirty days, until the formation of a new Council of Ministers, consistent with Article 38, above.

Article 41.

The Prime Minister shall have day-to-day responsibility for the management of the government, and he may dismiss ministers with the approval of an simple majority of the National Assembly. The Presidency Council may, upon the recommendation of the Commission on Public Integrity after the exercise of due process, dismiss the Prime Minister or the ministers.

Article 42.

The Council of Ministers shall draw up rules of procedure for its work and issue the regulations and directives necessary to enforce the laws. It also has the right to propose bills to the National Assembly. Each ministry has the right, within its competence, to nominate deputy ministers, ambassadors, and other employees of special grade. After the Council of Ministers approves these nominations, they shall be submitted to the Presidency Council for ratification. All decisions of the Council of Ministers shall be taken by simple majority of those of its members present.

CHAPTER SIX THE FEDERAL JUDICIAL AUTHORITY

Article 43.

(A) The judiciary is independent, and it shall in no way be administered by the executive authority, including the Ministry of Justice. The judiciary shall enjoy exclusive competence to determine the innocence or guilt of the accused pursuant to law, without interference from the legislative or executive authorities.

(B) All judges sitting in their respective courts as of 1 July 2004 will continue in office thereafter, unless removed from office pursuant to this Law.

© The National Assembly shall establish an independent and adequate budget for the judiciary.

(D) Federal courts shall adjudicate matters that arise from the application of federal laws. The establishment of these courts shall be within the exclusive competence of the federal government. The establishment of these courts in the regions shall be in consultation with the presidents of the judicial councils in the regions, and priority in appointing or transferring judges to these courts shall be given to judges resident in the region.

Article 44.

(A) A court called the Federal Supreme Court shall be constituted by law in Iraq.

(B) The jurisdiction of the Federal Supreme Court shall be as follows:

(1) Original and exclusive jurisdiction in legal proceedings between the Iraqi Transitional Government and the regional governments, governorate and municipal administrations, and local administrations.

(2) Original and exclusive jurisdiction, on the basis of a complaint from a claimant or a referral from another court, to review claims that a law, regulation, or directive issued by the federal or regional governments, the governorate or municipal administrations, or local administrations is inconsistent with this Law.

(3) Ordinary appellate jurisdiction of the Federal Supreme Court shall be defined by federal law.

© Should the Federal Supreme Court rule that a challenged law, regulation, directive, or measure is inconsistent with this Law, it shall be deemed null and void.

(D) The Federal Supreme Court shall create and publish regulations regarding the procedures required to bring claims and to permit attorneys to practice before it. It shall take its decisions by simple majority, except decisions with regard to the proceedings stipulated in Article 44(B)(1), which must be by a two-thirds majority. Decisions shall be binding. The Court shall have full powers to enforce its decisions, including the power to issue citations for contempt of court and the measures that flow from this.

(E) The Federal Supreme Court shall consist of nine members. The Higher Juridical Council shall, in consultation with the regional judicial councils, initially nominate no less than eighteen and up to twenty-seven individuals to fill the initial vacancies in the aforementioned Court. It will follow the same procedure thereafter, nominating three members for each subsequent vacancy that occurs by reason of death, resignation, or removal. The Presidency Council shall appoint the members of this Court and name one of them as its Presiding Judge. In the event an appointment is rejected, the Higher Juridical Council shall nominate a new group of three candidates.

Article 45.

A Higher Juridical Council shall be established and assume the role of the Council of Judges. The Higher Juridical Council shall supervise the federal judiciary and shall administer its budget. This Council shall be composed of the Presiding Judge of the Federal Supreme Court, the presiding judge and deputy presiding judges of the federal Court of Cassation, the presiding judges of the federal Courts of Appeal, and the presiding judge and two deputy presiding judges of each regional court of cassation. The Presiding Judge of the Federal Supreme Court shall preside over the Higher Juridical Council. In his absence, the presiding judge of the federal Court of Cassation shall preside over the Council.

Article 46.

(A) The federal judicial branch shall include existing courts outside the Kurdistan region, including courts of first instance; the Central Criminal Court of Iraq; Courts of Appeal; and the Court of Cassation, which shall be the court of last resort except as provided in Article 44 of this Law. Additional federal courts may be established by law. The appointment of judges for these courts shall be made by the Higher Juridical Council. This Law preserves the qualifications necessary for the appointment of judges, as defined by law.

(B) The decisions of regional and local courts, including the courts of the Kurdistan region, shall be final, but shall be subject to review by the federal judiciary if they conflict with this Law or any federal law. Procedures for such review shall be defined by law.

Article 47.

No judge or member of the Higher Juridical Council may be removed unless he is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude or corruption or suffers permanent incapacity. Removal shall be on the recommendation of the Higher Juridical Council, by a decision of the Council of Ministers, and with the approval of the Presidency Council. Removal shall be executed immediately after issuance of this approval. A judge who has been accused of such a crime as cited above shall be suspended from his work in the judiciary until such time as the case arising from what is cited in this Article is adjudicated. No judge may have his salary reduced or suspended for any reason during his period of service.

CHAPTER SEVEN THE SPECIAL TRIBUNAL AND NATIONAL COMMISSIONS

Article 48.

(A) The statute establishing the Iraqi Special Tribunal issued on 10 December 2003 is confirmed. That statute exclusively defines its jurisdiction and procedures, notwithstanding the provisions of this Law.

(B) No other court shall have jurisdiction to examine cases within the competence of the Iraqi Special Tribunal, except to the extent provided by its founding statute.

© The judges of the Iraqi Special Tribunal shall be appointed in accordance with the provisions of its founding statute.

Article 49.

(A) The establishment of national commissions such as the Commission on Public Integrity, the Iraqi Property Claims Commission, and the Higher National De-Ba’athification Commission is confirmed, as is the establishment of commissions formed after this Law has gone into effect. The members of these national commissions shall continue to serve after this Law has gone into effect, taking into account the contents of Article 51, below.

(B) The method of appointment to the national commissions shall be in accordance with law.

Article 50.

The Iraqi Transitional Government shall establish a National Commission for Human Rights for the purpose of executing the commitments relative to the rights set forth in this Law and to examine complaints pertaining to violations of human rights. The Commission shall be established in accordance with the Paris Principles issued by the United Nations on the responsibilities of national institutions. This Commission shall include an Office of the Ombudsman to inquire into complaints. This office shall have the power to investigate, on its own initiative or on the basis of a complaint submitted to it, any allegation that the conduct of the governmental authorities is arbitrary or contrary to law.

Article 51.

No member of the Iraqi Special Tribunal or of any commission established by the federal government may be employed in any other capacity in or out of government. This prohibition is valid without limitation, whether it be within the executive, legislative, or judicial authority of the Iraqi Transitional Government. Members of the Special Tribunal may, however, suspend their employment in other agencies while they serve on the aforementioned Tribunal.

CHAPTER EIGHT REGIONS, GOVERNORATES, AND MUNICIPALITIES

Article 52.

The design of the federal system in Iraq shall be established in such a way as to prevent the concentration of power in the federal government that allowed the continuation of decades of tyranny and oppression under the previous regime. This system shall encourage the exercise of local authority by local officials in every region and governorate, thereby creating a united Iraq in which every citizen actively participates in governmental affairs, secure in his rights and free of domination.

Article 53.

(A) The Kurdistan Regional Government is recognized as the official government of the territories that were administered by the that government on 19 March 2003 in the governorates of Dohuk, Arbil, Sulaimaniya, Kirkuk, Diyala and Neneveh. The term “Kurdistan Regional Government” shall refer to the Kurdistan National Assembly, the Kurdistan Council of Ministers, and the regional judicial authority in the Kurdistan region.

(B) The boundaries of the eighteen governorates shall remain without change during the transitional period.

© Any group of no more than three governorates outside the Kurdistan region, with the exception of Baghdad and Kirkuk, shall have the right to form regions from amongst themselves. The mechanisms for forming such regions may be proposed by the Iraqi Interim Government, and shall be presented and considered by the elected National Assembly for enactment into law. In addition to being approved by the National Assembly, any legislation proposing the formation of a particular region must be approved in a referendum of the people of the relevant governorates.

(D) This Law shall guarantee the administrative, cultural, and political rights of the Turcomans, ChaldoAssyrians, and all other citizens.

Article 54.

(A) The Kurdistan Regional Government shall continue to perform its current functions throughout the transitional period, except with regard to those issues which fall within the exclusive competence of the federal government as specified in this Law. Financing for these functions shall come from the federal government, consistent with current practice and in accordance with Article 25(E) of this Law. The Kurdistan Regional Government shall retain regional control over police forces and internal security, and it will have the right to impose taxes and fees within the Kurdistan region.

(B) With regard to the application of federal laws in the Kurdistan region, the Kurdistan National Assembly shall be permitted to amend the application of any such law within the Kurdistan region, but only to the extent that this relates to matters that are not within the provisions of Articles 25 and 43(D) of this Law and that fall within the exclusive competence of the federal government.

Article 55.

(A) Each governorate shall have the right to form a Governorate Council, name a Governor, and form municipal and local councils. No member of any regional government, governor, or member of any governorate, municipal, or local council may be dismissed by the federal government or any official thereof, except upon conviction of a crime by a court of competent jurisdiction as provided by law. No regional government may dismiss a Governor or member or members of any governorate, municipal, or local council. No Governor or member of any Governorate, municipal, or local council shall be subject to the control of the federal government except to the extent that the matter relates to the competences set forth in Article 25 and 43(D), above.

(B) Each Governor and member of each Governorate Council who holds office as of 1 July 2004, in accordance with the law on local government that shall be issued, shall remain in place until such time as free, direct, and full elections, conducted pursuant to law, are held, or, unless, prior to that time, he voluntarily gives up his position, is removed upon his conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude or related to corruption, or upon being stricken with permanent incapacity, or is dismissed in accordance with the law cited above. When a governor, mayor, or member of a council is dismissed, the relevant council may receive applications from any eligible resident of the governorate to fill the position. Eligibility requirements shall be the same as those set forth in Article 31 for membership in the National Assembly. The new candidate must receive a majority vote of the council to assume the vacant seat.

Article 56.

(A) The Governorate Councils shall assist the federal government in the coordination of federal ministry operations within the governorate, including the review of annual ministry plans and budgets with regard to activities in the governorate. Governorate Councils shall be funded from the general budget of the State, and these Councils shall also have the authority to increase their revenues independently by imposing taxes and fees; to organize the operations of the Governorate administration; to initiate and implement province-level projects alone or in partnership with international, and non-governmental organizations; and to conduct other activities insofar as is consistent with federal laws.

(B) The Qada’ and Nahiya councils and other relevant councils shall assist in the performance of federal responsibilities and the delivery of public services by reviewing local ministry plans in the afore-mentioned places; ensuring that they respond properly to local needs and interests; identifying local budgetary requirements through the national budgeting procedures; and collecting and retaining local revenues, taxes, and fees; organizing the operations of the local administration; initiating and implementing local projects alone or in conjunction with international, and non-governmental organizations; and conducting other activities consistent with applicable law.

© Where practicable, the federal government shall take measures to devolve additional functions to local, governorate, and regional administrations, in a methodical way. Regional units and governorate administrations, including the Kurdistan Regional Government, shall be organized on the basis of the principle of de-centralization and the devolution of authorities to municipal and local governments.

Article 57.

(A) All authorities not exclusively reserved to the Iraqi Transitional Government may be exercised by the regional governments and governorates as soon as possible following the establishment of appropriate governmental institutions.

(B) Elections for governorate councils throughout Iraq and for the Kurdistan National Assembly shall be held at the same time as the elections for the National Assembly, no later than 31 January 2005.

Article 58.

(A) The Iraqi Transitional Government, and especially the Iraqi Property Claims Commission and other relevant bodies, shall act expeditiously to take measures to remedy the injustice caused by the previous regime’s practices in altering the demographic character of certain regions, including Kirkuk, by deporting and expelling individuals from their places of residence, forcing migration in and out of the region, settling individuals alien to the region, depriving the inhabitants of work, and correcting nationality. To remedy this injustice, the Iraqi Transitional Government shall take the following steps:

(1) With regard to residents who were deported, expelled, or who emigrated; it shall, in accordance with the statute of the Iraqi Property Claims Commission and other measures within the law, within a reasonable period of time, restore the residents to their homes and property, or, where this is unfeasible, shall provide just compensation.

(2) With regard to the individuals newly introduced to specific regions and territories, it shall act in accordance with Article 10 of the Iraqi Property Claims Commission statute to ensure that such individuals may be resettled, may receive compensation from the state, may receive new land from the state near their residence in the governorate from which they came, or may receive compensation for the cost of moving to such areas.

(3) With regard to persons deprived of employment or other means of support in order to force migration out of their regions and territories, it shall promote new employment opportunities in the regions and territories.

(4) With regard to nationality correction, it shall repeal all relevant decrees and shall permit affected persons the right to determine their own national identity and ethnic affiliation free from coercion and duress.

(B) The previous regime also manipulated and changed administrative boundaries for political ends. The Presidency Council of the Iraqi Transitional Government shall make recommendations to the National Assembly on remedying these unjust changes in the permanent constitution. In the event the Presidency Council is unable to agree unanimously on a set of recommendations, it shall unanimously appoint a neutral arbitrator to examine the issue and make recommendations. In the event the Presidency Council is unable to agree on an arbitrator, it shall request the Secretary General of the United Nations to appoint a distinguished international person to be the arbitrator.

© The permanent resolution of disputed territories, including Kirkuk, shall be deferred until after these measures are completed, a fair and transparent census has been conducted and the permanent constitution has been ratified This resolution shall be consistent with the principle of justice, taking into account the will of the people of those territories.

CHAPTER NINE THE TRANSITIONAL PERIOD

Article 59.

(A) The permanent constitution shall contain guarantees to ensure that the Iraqi Armed Forces are never again used to terrorize or oppress the people of Iraq.

(B) Consistent with Iraq’s status as a sovereign state, and with its desire to join other nations in helping to maintain peace and security and fight terrorism during the transitional period, the Iraqi Armed Forces will be a principal partner in the multi-national force operating in Iraq under unified command pursuant to the provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1511 (2003) and any subsequent relevant resolutions. This arrangement shall last until the ratification of a permanent constitution and the election of a new government pursuant to that new constitution.

© Upon its assumption of authority, and consistent with Iraq’s status as a sovereign state, the elected Iraqi Transitional Government shall have the authority to conclude binding international agreements regarding the activities of the multi-national force operating in Iraq under unified command pursuant to the terms of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1511 (2003), and any subsequent relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. Nothing in this Law shall affect rights and obligations under these agreements, or under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1511 (2003), and any subsequent relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, which will govern the multi-national force’s activities pending the entry into force of these agreements.

Article 60.

The National Assembly shall write a draft of the permanent constitution of Iraq. This Assembly shall carry out this responsibility in part by encouraging debate on the constitution through regular general public meetings in all parts of Iraq and through the media, and receiving proposals from the citizens of Iraq as it writes the constitution.

Article 61.

(A) The National Assembly shall write the draft of the permanent constitution by no later than 15 August 2005.

(B) The draft permanent constitution shall be presented to the Iraqi people for approval in a general referendum to be held no later than 15 October 2005. In the period leading up to the referendum, the draft constitution shall be published and widely distributed to encourage a public debate about it among the people.

© The general referendum will be successful and the draft constitution ratified if a majority of the voters in Iraq approve and if two-thirds of the voters in three or more governorates do not reject it.

(D) If the permanent constitution is approved in the referendum, elections for a permanent government shall be held no later than 15 December 2005 and the new government shall assume office no later than 31 December 2005.

(E) If the referendum rejects the draft permanent constitution, the National Assembly shall be dissolved. Elections for a new National Assembly shall be held no later than 15 December 2005. The new National Assembly and new Iraqi Transitional Government shall then assume office no later than 31 December 2005, and shall continue to operate under this Law, except that the final deadlines for preparing a new draft may be changed to make it possible to draft a permanent constitution within a period not to exceed one year. The new National Assembly shall be entrusted with writing another draft permanent constitution.

(F) If necessary, the president of the National Assembly, with the agreement of a majority of the members’ votes, may certify to the Presidency Council no later than 1 August 2005 that there is a need for additional time to complete the writing of the draft constitution. The Presidency Council shall then extend the deadline for writing the draft constitution for only six months. This deadline may not be extended again.

(G) If the National Assembly does not complete writing the draft permanent constitution by 15 August 2005 and does not request extension of the deadline in Article 61(D) above, the provisions of Article 61(E), above, shall be applied.

Article 62.

This law shall remain in effect until the permanent constitution is issued and the new Iraqi government is formed in accordance with it.

Iraq Council Member Killed
Unknown assailants killed a member of Mosul's municipal council on Monday in a drive-by shooting in the northern Iraqi city, police said.

The council member was driving in southern Mosul when a car with three to four people in it drove up beside him and started shooting. A man travelling with him was wounded.

Police said the motive for the attack was unclear.

Details on Iraq Constitution

I'm still unable to find a full text of the interim constitution, but Bloomberg News has some details. Highlights:

“This law provides for public participation in direct elections later this year,'' the Shiite Muslim president of the U.S.-appointed council, President Muhammad Bahr al-Uloum, said at the signing in Baghdad, televised live by Cable News Network. “The eighth of March represents a turning point in the history of Iraq for regaining sovereignty on the 30th of June.''

The interim constitution guarantees rights for all Iraqis, without regard to religion, ethnicity or gender. It provides for freedom of expression and worship. The law sets up a federal system of governance, an independent judiciary, and protects citizens from government excesses

It also recognizes the influence of Islam on the country, while stopping short of making Iraq an Islamic republic. Leading clerics representing the majority Shiite population had called for a more prominent role for Islam in the new constitution. The Shiites suffered abuses under ousted leader Saddam Hussein's mostly Sunni regime.

The interim constitution will not go into effect until Paul Bremer approves it, which he is expected to.

Blasts Heard in Baghad Minutes Before Signing

Reuters:

Loud explosions have echoed across central Baghdad just minutes before the Iraqi Governing Council was due to sign an interim constitution for the country.

At least one of the blasts on Monday was caused by a rocket which hit a house in the centre of the city, witnesses said, adding that there were no casualties.

The U.S. Army said it had no immediate information on the blasts. Security forces have been on high alert for possible guerrilla attacks aimed at disrupting the signing ceremony.

Interim Iraq Constitution Approved, Signed

Signed, sealed, delivered:

Iraqi politicians gave an interim constitution a final read Monday after the country's most powerful cleric cleared the way for the charter's signing by signaling to Shiite leaders that he won't block them from adopting the accord.

The grudging consent by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani appeared to end a political crisis over the charter that wrecked a previous attempt to sign it on Friday and exacerbated tensions on the council, with some Sunni and Kurdish members accusing the Shiites of attempting to grab more power.

“We must put the interests of our nation above all of our interests. The world is waiting and expecting us to work in the service of our nation,” council president Mohammed Bahr al-Ulloum (search) told the meeting before the show of hands.

The council members then went to a public ceremony for the signing of the document.

March 07, 2004
Update on Explosions

Turns out it was a car bomb as well as ten separate explosions. AP reports:

A car bomb and at least 10 rockets exploded Sunday night in central Baghdad near the area housing the headquarters of the U.S.-led coalition, officials said.

[….]

Iraqi police said there were no casualties from the car bomb, which detonated outside the building. There was no immediate word on casualties from the rocket attacks.

Inside the Green Zone, employees at the Baghdad Convention Center, where the U.S. military press office is based, fled into the basement, said Army 1st Sgt. Stephen Valley, a military spokesman.

Four Suspected Militants Caught in Raid

AP:

Four suspected militants have been detained as hundreds of U.S. soldiers, backed by tanks and helicopters, raided Baghdad's biggest dairy processing plant.

Some 500 soldiers with the Second Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment of the First Cavalry Division, raided the plant in the western suburbs of the capital, Baghdad, Sunday morning.

A military spokesman said soldiers were searching for specific suspects sought by the U.S.-led coalition. The four detainees were not identified.

Troops entered the grounds of the eight-building plant without incident and checked identity papers of the workers, separating men and women.

After the raid, soldiers handed out Arabic-language newspapers printed by the coalition and handbills offering rewards for information about suspected militants or bombmakers.

Explosions Inside Green Zone

[Breaking]

AP:

At least 10 rockets detonated in central Baghdad tonight, near an area that houses the headquarters of the US-led coalition.

Sirens blared for several minutes, and smoke and flames were briefly visible.

The former Ministry of Foreign Affairs was on fire, a witness said.

The building was severely damaged by US bombing during the war last year.

A US military mess hall sits behind the building.

There was no immediate word on casualties.

The rockets struck on the northern edge of the Green Zone, which houses the coalition headquarters

.

Iraqis Agree on Constitution; Will be Endorsed Tomorrow
Iraqi leaders reached an agreement Sunday in Baghdad on the text of a new Iraqi constitution after ironing out differences.

Sources close to the interim Iraqi Governing Council said that differences were settled following two days of intensive consultations between five council members and Shiite spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Sistani over the rights of minorities in the country.

Read the full story

March 06, 2004
Three Wounded at Khaladiyah Bridge

From The Australian :

Three coalition soldiers were wounded when they fired on a truck packed with explosives that crashed into a barrier and exploded west of Baghdad, killing the driver, a senior US official said today.

Troops opened fire on the suspect vehicle near Khaladiyah Bridge, 80 kilometres west of the capital, US Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt said.

The truck veered into a concrete barrier near the bridge and exploded and spilled unexploded artillery rounds onto the ground.”

The driver of the truck died in the crash, two soldiers suffered minor injuries, and a third was taken to hospital to be treated for burns, he said.

Khaladiyah is just west of the rebel town of Fallujah.

British Troops Injured in Gunfight
Seven British soldiers were wounded in southern Iraq on Friday when they were patrolling a village, the British Ministry of Defense announced Saturday.

Soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Light Infantry came under fire from heavy machine guns and rocket propelled grenades in the village of Qal At Sahil in Maysan province, the ministry said.

The patrol returned fire and was successfully extracted with the aid of a Quick Reaction Force, the ministry added.

Building a Case Against Saddam
A team of 50 Justice Department prosecutors, investigators and support staff is going to Iraq beginning this weekend to assemble war crimes cases against former President Saddam Hussein and others in his former regime, a senior official said Saturday.

The goal of the effort is to sift through thousands of pages of evidence and provide a roadmap for Iraqis to use when they eventually bring Saddam and others in his administration before war crimes tribunals. U.S. officials want the world to view the trials as an Iraqi process, not one run by Americans or other foreigners.

The U.S. team includes main Justice lawyers, FBI agents, U.S. Marshals Service members and others involved in the federal criminal justice system, said a senior Justice Department official.

In other Saddam news, the Red Cross has passed on to Saddam's daughter the letter he wrote to her while in U.S. custody.

A Red Cross spokesman said the letter had been vetted by U.S. authorities and no details of it could be disclosed in keeping with the Geneva convention on prisoners of war.

Blair's Speech: 'A very serious speech, intellectually demanding'

Prime Minister Tony Blair made an eloquent speech yesterday on the case for war.

The Guardian had this to say about the speech:

It has been a long time since Tony Blair made a more thoughtful or more coherent speech about the war on terror than the one he gave in Sedgefield yesterday. Read it. Discuss it. It is important. That does not mean that the speech is beyond criticism. It is not. There are faults of omission and commission alike. But it is a very serious speech, intellectually demanding and carefully expressed throughout most of its length, about an indisputably big, difficult and complex subject. It is a speech worthy of its subject, and it deserves the respectful attention of all who take politics seriously. At a time when politics is widely felt to be so disreputable, that is no small achievement. It deserves an appropriately respectful and thoughtful response that goes beyond attitudinising.

Read the whole text below.

No decision I have ever made in politics has been as divisive as the decision to go to war to in Iraq. It remains deeply divisive today. I know a large part of the public want to move on. Rightly they say the Government should concentrate on the issues that elected us in 1997: the economy, jobs, living standards, health, education, crime. I share that view, and we are. But I know too that the nature of this issue over Iraq, stirring such bitter emotions as it does, can't just be swept away as ill-fitting the pre-occupations of the man and woman on the street. This is not simply because of the gravity of war; or the continued engagement of British troops and civilians in Iraq; or even because of reflections made on the integrity of the Prime Minister. It is because it was in March 2003 and remains my fervent view that the nature of the global threat we face in Britain and round the world is real and existential and it is the task of leadership to expose it and fight it, whatever the political cost; and that the true danger is not to any single politician's reputation, but to our country if we now ignore this threat or erase it from the agenda in embarrassment at the difficulties it causes.

In truth, the fundamental source of division over Iraq is not over issues of trust or integrity, though some insist on trying to translate it into that. Each week brings a fresh attempt to get a new angle that can prove it was all a gigantic conspiracy. We have had three inquiries, including the one by Lord Hutton conducted over six months, with more openness by Government than any such inquiry in history, that have affirmed there was no attempt to falsify intelligence in the dossier of September 2002, but rather that it was indeed an accurate summary of that intelligence.

We have seen one element - intelligence about some WMD being ready for use in 45 minutes - elevated into virtually the one fact that persuaded the nation into war. This intelligence was mentioned by me once in my statement to the House of Commons on 24 September and not mentioned by me again in any debate. It was mentioned by no-one in the crucial debate on 18 March 2003. In the period from 24 September to 29 May, the date of the BBC broadcast on it, it was raised twice in almost 40,000 written Parliamentary Questions in the House of Commons; and not once in almost 5,000 oral questions. Neither was it remotely the basis for the claim that Saddam had strategic as well as battlefield WMD. That was dealt with in a different part of the dossier; and though the Iraq Survey Group have indeed not found stockpiles of weapons, they have uncovered much evidence about Saddam's programme to develop long-range strategic missiles in breach of UN rules.

It is said we claimed Iraq was an imminent threat to Britain and was preparing to attack us. In fact this is what I said prior to the war on 24 September 2002:

“Why now? People ask. I agree I cannot say that this month or next, even this year or next he will use his weapons.”

Then, for example, in January 2003 in my press conference I said:

“And I tell you honestly what my fear is, my fear is that we wake up one day and we find either that one of these dictatorial states has used weapons of mass destruction - and Iraq has done so in the past - and we get sucked into a conflict, with all the devastation that would cause; or alternatively these weapons, which are being traded right round the world at the moment, fall into the hands of these terrorist groups, these fanatics who will stop at absolutely nothing to cause death and destruction on a mass scale. Now that is what I have to worry about. And I understand of course why people think it is a very remote threat and it is far away and why does it bother us. Now I simply say to you, it is a matter of time unless we act and take a stand before terrorism and weapons of mass destruction come together, and I regard them as two sides of the same coin.”

The truth is, as was abundantly plain in the motion before the House of Commons on 18 March, we went to war to enforce compliance with UN Resolutions. Had we believed Iraq was an imminent direct threat to Britain, we would have taken action in September 2002; we would not have gone to the UN. Instead, we spent October and November in the UN negotiating UN Resolution 1441. We then spent almost 4 months trying to implement it.

Actually, it is now apparent from the Survey Group that Iraq was indeed in breach of UN Resolution 1441. It did not disclose laboratories and facilities it should have; nor the teams of scientists kept together to retain their WMD including nuclear expertise; nor its continuing research relevant to CW and BW. As Dr Kay, the former head of the ISG who is now quoted as a critic of the war has said: “Iraq was in clear violation of the terms of Resolution 1441”. And “I actually think this [Iraq] may be one of those cases where it was even more dangerous than we thought.”

Then, most recently is the attempt to cast doubt on the Attorney General's legal opinion. He said the war was lawful. He published a statement on the legal advice. It is said this opinion is disputed. Of course it is. It was disputed in March 2003. It is today. The lawyers continue to divide over it - with their legal opinions bearing a remarkable similarity to their political view of the war.

But let's be clear. Once this row dies down, another will take its place and then another and then another.

All of it in the end is an elaborate smokescreen to prevent us seeing the real issue: which is not a matter of trust but of judgement.

The real point is that those who disagree with the war, disagree fundamentally with the judgement that led to war. What is more, their alternative judgement is both entirely rational and arguable. Kosovo, with ethnic cleansing of ethnic Albanians, was not a hard decision for most people; nor was Afghanistan after the shock of September 11; nor was Sierra Leone.

Iraq in March 2003 was an immensely difficult judgement. It was divisive because it was difficult. I have never disrespected those who disagreed with the decision. Sure, some were anti-American; some against all wars. But there was a core of sensible people who faced with this decision would have gone the other way, for sensible reasons. Their argument is one I understand totally. It is that Iraq posed no direct, immediate threat to Britain; and that Iraq's WMD, even on our own case, was not serious enough to warrant war, certainly without a specific UN resolution mandating military action. And they argue: Saddam could, in any event, be contained.

In other words, they disagreed then and disagree now fundamentally with the characterisation of the threat. We were saying this is urgent; we have to act; the opponents of war thought it wasn't. And I accept, incidentally, that however abhorrent and foul the regime and however relevant that was for the reasons I set out before the war, for example in Glasgow in February 2003, regime change alone could not be and was not our justification for war. Our primary purpose was to enforce UN resolutions over Iraq and WMD.

Of course the opponents are boosted by the fact that though we know Saddam had WMD; we haven't found the physical evidence of them in the 11 months since the war. But in fact, everyone thought he had them. That was the basis of UN Resolution 1441.

It's just worth pointing out that the search is being conducted in a country twice the land mass of the UK, which David Kay's interim report in October 2003 noted, contains 130 ammunition storage areas, some covering an area of 50 square miles, including some 600,000 tons of artillery shells, rockets and other ordnance, of which only a small proportion have as yet been searched in the difficult security environment that exists.

But the key point is that it is the threat that is the issue.

The characterisation of the threat is where the difference lies. Here is where I feel so passionately that we are in mortal danger of mistaking the nature of the new world in which we live. Everything about our world is changing: its economy, its technology, its culture, its way of living. If the 20th century scripted our conventional way of thinking, the 21st century is unconventional in almost every respect.

This is true also of our security.

The threat we face is not conventional. It is a challenge of a different nature from anything the world has faced before. It is to the world's security, what globalisation is to the world's economy.

It was defined not by Iraq but by September 11th. September 11th did not create the threat Saddam posed. But it altered crucially the balance of risk as to whether to deal with it or simply carry on, however imperfectly, trying to contain it.

Let me attempt an explanation of how my own thinking, as a political leader, has evolved during these past few years. Already, before September 11th the world's view of the justification of military action had been changing. The only clear case in international relations for armed intervention had been self-defence, response to aggression. But the notion of intervening on humanitarian grounds had been gaining currency. I set this out, following the Kosovo war, in a speech in Chicago in 1999, where I called for a doctrine of international community, where in certain clear circumstances, we do intervene, even though we are not directly threatened. I said this was not just to correct injustice, but also because in an increasingly inter-dependent world, our self-interest was allied to the interests of others; and seldom did conflict in one region of the world not contaminate another. We acted in Sierra Leone for similar reasons, though frankly even if that country had become run by gangsters and murderers and its democracy crushed, it would have been a long time before it impacted on us. But we were able to act to help them and we did.

So, for me, before September 11th, I was already reaching for a different philosophy in international relations from a traditional one that has held sway since the treaty of Westphalia in 1648; namely that a country's internal affairs are for it and you don't interfere unless it threatens you, or breaches a treaty, or triggers an obligation of alliance. I did not consider Iraq fitted into this philosophy, though I could see the horrible injustice done to its people by Saddam.

However, I had started to become concerned about two other phenomena.

The first was the increasing amount of information about Islamic extremism and terrorism that was crossing my desk. Chechnya was blighted by it. So was Kashmir. Afghanistan was its training ground. Some 300 people had been killed in the attacks on the USS Cole and US embassies in East Africa. The extremism seemed remarkably well financed. It was very active. And it was driven not by a set of negotiable political demands, but by religious fanaticism.

The second was the attempts by states - some of them highly unstable and repressive - to develop nuclear weapons programmes, CW and BW materiel, and long-range missiles. What is more, it was obvious that there was a considerable network of individuals and companies with expertise in this area, prepared to sell it.

All this was before September 11th. I discussed the issue of WMD with President Bush at our first meeting in Camp David in February 2001. But it's in the nature of things that other issues intervene - I was about to fight for re-election - and though it was raised, it was a troubling spectre in the background, not something to arrest our whole attention.

President Bush told me that on September 9th 2001, he had a meeting about Iraq in the White House when he discussed “smart” sanctions, changes to the sanctions regime. There was no talk of military action.

September 11th was for me a revelation. What had seemed inchoate came together. The point about September 11th was not its detailed planning; not its devilish execution; not even, simply, that it happened in America, on the streets of New York. All of this made it an astonishing, terrible and wicked tragedy, a barbaric murder of innocent people. But what galvanised me was that it was a declaration of war by religious fanatics who were prepared to wage that war without limit. They killed 3000. But if they could have killed 30,000 or 300,000 they would have rejoiced in it. The purpose was to cause such hatred between Moslems and the West that a religious jihad became reality; and the world engulfed by it.

When I spoke to the House of Commons on 14 September 2001 I said:

“We know, that they [the terrorists] would, if they could, go further and use chemical, biological, or even nuclear weapons of mass destruction. We know, also, that there are groups of people, occasionally states, who will trade the technology and capability of such weapons. It is time that this trade was exposed, disrupted, and stamped out. We have been warned by the events of 11 September, and we should act on the warning.”

From September 11th on, I could see the threat plainly. Here were terrorists prepared to bring about Armageddon. Here were states whose leadership cared for no-one but themselves; were often cruel and tyrannical towards their own people; and who saw WMD as a means of defending themselves against any attempt external or internal to remove them and who, in their chaotic and corrupt state, were in any event porous and irresponsible with neither the will nor capability to prevent terrorists who also hated the West, from exploiting their chaos and corruption.

I became aware of the activities of A Q Khan, former Pakistani nuclear scientist and of an organisation developing nuclear weapons technology to sell secretly to states wanting to acquire it. I started to hear of plants to manufacture nuclear weapons equipment in Malaysia, in the Near East and Africa, companies in the Gulf and Europe to finance it; training and know-how provided - all without any or much international action to stop it. It was a murky, dangerous trade, done with much sophistication and it was rapidly shortening the timeframe of countries like North Korea and Iran in acquiring serviceable nuclear weapons capability.

I asked for more intelligence on the issue not just of terrorism but also of WMD. The scale of it became clear. It didn't matter that the Islamic extremists often hated some of these regimes. Their mutual enmity toward the West would in the end triumph over any scruples of that nature, as we see graphically in Iraq today.

We knew that Al Qaida sought the capability to use WMD in their attacks. Bin Laden has called it a “duty” to obtain nuclear weapons. His networks have experimented with chemicals and toxins for use in attacks. He received advice from at least two Pakistani scientists on the design of nuclear weapons. In Afghanistan Al Qaida trained its recruits in the use of poisons and chemicals. An Al Qaida terrorist ran a training camp developing these techniques. Terrorist training manuals giving step-by-step instructions for the manufacture of deadly substances such as botulinum and ricin were widely distributed in Afghanistan and elsewhere and via the internet. Terrorists in Russia have actually deployed radiological material. The sarin attack on the Tokyo Metro showed how serious an impact even a relatively small attack can have.

The global threat to our security was clear. So was our duty: to act to eliminate it.

First we dealt with Al Qaida in Afghanistan, removing the Taliban that succoured them.

But then we had to confront the states with WMD. We had to take a stand. We had to force conformity with international obligations that for years had been breached with the world turning a blind eye. For 12 years Saddam had defied calls to disarm. In 1998, he had effectively driven out the UN inspectors and we had bombed his military infrastructure; but we had only weakened him, not removed the threat. Saddam alone had used CW against Iran and against his own people.

We had had an international coalition blessed by the UN in Afghanistan. I wanted the same now. President Bush agreed to go the UN route. We secured UN Resolution 1441. Saddam had one final chance to comply fully. Compliance had to start with a full and honest declaration of WMD programmes and activities.

The truth is disarming a country, other than with its consent, is a perilous exercise. On 8 December 2002, Saddam sent his declaration. It was obviously false. The UN inspectors were in Iraq but progress was slow and the vital cooperation of Iraqi scientists withheld. In March we went back to the UN to make a final ultimatum. We strove hard for agreement. We very nearly achieved it.

So we came to the point of decision. Prime Ministers don't have the luxury of maintaining both sides of the argument. They can see both sides. But, ultimately, leadership is about deciding. My view was and is that if the UN had come together and delivered a tough ultimatum to Saddam, listing clearly what he had to do, benchmarking it, he may have folded and events set in train that might just and eventually have led to his departure from power.

But the Security Council didn't agree.

Suppose at that point we had backed away. Inspectors would have stayed but only the utterly naïve would believe that following such a public climbdown by the US and its partners, Saddam would have cooperated more. He would have strung the inspectors out and returned emboldened to his plans. The will to act on the issue of rogue states and WMD would have been shown to be hollow. The terrorists, watching and analysing every move in our psychology as they do, would have taken heart. All this without counting the fact that the appalling brutalisation of the Iraqi people would have continued unabated and reinforced.

Here is the crux. It is possible that even with all of this, nothing would have happened. Possible that Saddam would change his ambitions; possible he would develop the WMD but never use it; possible that the terrorists would never get their hands on WMD, whether from Iraq or elsewhere. We cannot be certain. Perhaps we would have found different ways of reducing it. Perhaps this Islamic terrorism would ebb of its own accord.

But do we want to take the risk? That is the judgement. And my judgement then and now is that the risk of this new global terrorism and its interaction with states or organisations or individuals proliferating WMD, is one I simply am not prepared to run.

This is not a time to err on the side of caution; not a time to weigh the risks to an infinite balance; not a time for the cynicism of the worldly wise who favour playing it long. Their worldly wise cynicism is actually at best naivete and at worst dereliction. When they talk, as they do now, of diplomacy coming back into fashion in respect of Iran or North Korea or Libya, do they seriously think that diplomacy alone has brought about this change? Since the war in Iraq, Libya has taken the courageous step of owning up not just to a nuclear weapons programme but to having chemical weapons, which are now being destroyed. Iran is back in the reach of the IAEA. North Korea in talks with China over its WMD. The A Q Khan network is being shut down, its trade slowly but surely being eliminated.

Yet it is monstrously premature to think the threat has passed. The risk remains in the balance here and abroad.

These days decisions about it come thick and fast, and while they are not always of the same magnitude they are hardly trivial. Let me give you an example. A short while ago, during the war, we received specific intelligence warning of a major attack on Heathrow. To this day, we don't know if it was correct and we foiled it or if it was wrong. But we received the intelligence. We immediately heightened the police presence. At the time it was much criticised as political hype or an attempt to frighten the public. Actually at each stage we followed rigidly the advice of the police and Security Service. But sit in my seat. Here is the intelligence. Here is the advice. Do you ignore it? But, of course intelligence is precisely that: intelligence. It is not hard fact. It has its limitations. On each occasion the most careful judgement has to be made taking account of everything we know and the best assessment and advice available. But in making that judgement, would you prefer us to act, even if it turns out to be wrong? Or not to act and hope it's OK? And suppose we don't act and the intelligence turns out to be right, how forgiving will people be?

And to those who think that these things are all disconnected, random acts, disparate threats with no common thread to bind them, look at what is happening in Iraq today. The terrorists pouring into Iraq, know full well the importance of destroying not just the nascent progress of Iraq toward stability, prosperity and democracy, but of destroying our confidence, of defeating our will to persevere.

I have no doubt Iraq is better without Saddam; but no doubt either, that as a result of his removal, the dangers of the threat we face will be diminished. That is not to say the terrorists won't redouble their efforts. They will. This war is not ended. It may only be at the end of its first phase. They are in Iraq, murdering innocent Iraqis who want to worship or join a police force that upholds the law not a brutal dictatorship; they carry on killing in Afghanistan. They do it for a reason. The terrorists know that if Iraq and Afghanistan survive their assault, come through their travails, seize the opportunity the future offers, then those countries will stand not just as nations liberated from oppression, but as a lesson to humankind everywhere and a profound antidote to the poison of religious extremism. That is precisely why the terrorists are trying to foment hatred and division in Iraq. They know full well, a stable democratic Iraq, under the sovereign rule of the Iraqi people, is a mortal blow to their fanaticism.

That is why our duty is to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan as stable and democratic nations.

Here is the irony. For all the fighting, this threat cannot be defeated by security means alone. Taking strong action is a necessary but insufficient condition for defeating. Its final defeat is only assured by the triumph of the values of the human spirit.

Which brings me to the final point. It may well be that under international law as presently constituted, a regime can systematically brutalise and oppress its people and there is nothing anyone can do, when dialogue, diplomacy and even sanctions fail, unless it comes within the definition of a humanitarian catastrophe (though the 300,000 remains in mass graves already found in Iraq might be thought by some to be something of a catastrophe). This may be the law, but should it be?

We know now, if we didn't before, that our own self interest is ultimately bound up with the fate of other nations. The doctrine of international community is no longer a vision of idealism. It is a practical recognition that just as within a country, citizens who are free, well educated and prosperous tend to be responsible, to feel solidarity with a society in which they have a stake; so do nations that are free, democratic and benefiting from economic progress, tend to be stable and solid partners in the advance of humankind. The best defence of our security lies in the spread of our values.

But we cannot advance these values except within a framework that recognises their universality. If it is a global threat, it needs a global response, based on global rules.

The essence of a community is common rights and responsibilities. We have obligations in relation to each other. If we are threatened, we have a right to act. And we do not accept in a community that others have a right to oppress and brutalise their people. We value the freedom and dignity of the human race and each individual in it.

Containment will not work in the face of the global threat that confronts us. The terrorists have no intention of being contained. The states that proliferate or acquire WMD illegally are doing so precisely to avoid containment. Emphatically I am not saying that every situation leads to military action. But we surely have a duty and a right to prevent the threat materialising; and we surely have a responsibility to act when a nation's people are subjected to a regime such as Saddam's. Otherwise, we are powerless to fight the aggression and injustice which over time puts at risk our security and way of life.

Which brings us to how you make the rules and how you decide what is right or wrong in enforcing them. The UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights is a fine document. But it is strange the United Nations is so reluctant to enforce them.

I understand the worry the international community has over Iraq. It worries that the US and its allies will by sheer force of their military might, do whatever they want, unilaterally and without recourse to any rule-based code or doctrine. But our worry is that if the UN - because of a political disagreement in its Councils - is paralysed, then a threat we believe is real will go unchallenged.

This dilemma is at the heart of many people's anguished indecision over the wisdom of our action in Iraq. It explains the confusion of normal politics that has part of the right liberating a people from oppression and a part of the left disdaining the action that led to it. It is partly why the conspiracy theories or claims of deceit have such purchase. How much simpler to debate those than to analyse and resolve the conundrum of our world's present state.

Britain's role is try to find a way through this: to construct a consensus behind a broad agenda of justice and security and means of enforcing it.

This agenda must be robust in tackling the security threat that this Islamic extremism poses; and fair to all peoples by promoting their human rights, wherever they are. It means tackling poverty in Africa and justice in Palestine as well as being utterly resolute in opposition to terrorism as a way of achieving political goals. It means an entirely different, more just and more modern view of self-interest.

It means reforming the United Nations so its Security Council represents 21st century reality; and giving the UN the capability to act effectively as well as debate. It means getting the UN to understand that faced with the threats we have, we should do all we can to spread the values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, religious tolerance and justice for the oppressed, however painful for some nations that may be; but that at the same time, we wage war relentlessly on those who would exploit racial and religious division to bring catastrophe to the world.

But in the meantime, the threat is there and demands our attention.

That is the struggle which engages us. It is a new type of war. It will rest on intelligence to a greater degree than ever before. It demands a difference attitude to our own interests. It forces us to act even when so many comforts seem unaffected, and the threat so far off, if not illusory. In the end, believe your political leaders or not, as you will. But do so, at least having understood their minds.

Some Shiites Blame Wahhabis for Atrocities

AP: Some Shiites Blame Wahhabis for Atrocities

Some Iraqi Shiites suspect this week's deadly bombings of pilgrims may have been the work of Wahhabis, traditional enemies who consider Shiites heretics and whose warrior ancestors often raided their holy cities during two centuries of animosity.

Born on the Arabian Peninsula in the 18th century, Wahhabism is among the strictest Islamic movements and considers Muslims who do not follow its teachings to be heathens and enemies. Al-Qaida terror network leader Osama bin Laden was raised as a Wahhabi.

Shiite preacher Hazim al-Aaraji has openly accused Wahhabis and al-Qaida of carrying out Tuesday's attacks, which killed at least 181 people and wounded 553 during one of the most important Shiite holidays.

“We are not afraid of saying the truth, which is that al-Qaida and the Wahhabists are behind the attacks on Kazimiya and Karbala,” Al-Aaraji said Friday in a sermon outside the Kazimiya shrine in Baghdad.

Bomb found near Palestine Hotel

From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

United States soldiers in Iraq say a suspected bomb has been found in a bag on a street next to Baghdad's Palestine Hotel, where many foreigners are based.

They say a dog detected the bag and that a check confirmed it contained explosives.

An explosives team is now on the way to the scene.

US troops are preventing all people from walking down the street, where a number of shops are located.

March 05, 2004
NOT Constitution Day in Iraq
Iraq's 25-member Governing Council gathered Friday to sign a transitional constitution, a legal framework to guide the war-wracked nation through the early days of sovereignty.

But a potentially serious, last-minute hitch delayed the event, scheduled for 8 a.m. EST, an official said. Several Shiite members of the council expressed reservations and don't want to sign the document until those concerns are worked out, the official said. The official did not say what the reservations were.

AP reports:

Five Shiite members of Iraq's Governing Council balked at the last minute at signing the new interim constitution, complaining over concessions made to Kurds and the makeup of the presidency, a representative of one of the parties said.
“There are some reservations. We are trying to sort the problems out now,” said Hamed al-Bayati, an adviser in the Shiite Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, one of the parties that refused to sign the charter.
Constitution Day in Iraq
Iraqis prepared on Friday to sign the country's interim constitution on the tail-end of three days of mourning for victims of Tuesday's massive attack on Shiite Muslims in Karbala and Baghdad.

..

Amid tight security, the U.S.-appointed Governing Council was signing the new charter in the afternoon, a key landmark in American plans to hand over power on June 30.

The draft recognizes Islam as a source of legislation. In a concession to religious conservatives who wanted Islam to be the main source, it also states that no law will be passed that violates the tenets of the Muslim religion.

It also accepts the principle of federalism but leaves it to a future elected national assembly to decide the details of self-rule for Iraq's Kurdish minority.

Delegates hammered out a system that would allow any of Iraq's 18 provinces to choose to join together to form federal regions — a provision that opens the door for Shiites to form a self-rule region in the south similar to the Kurds' region in the north.

The U.S.-based rights group Human Rights Watch criticized the document Friday, saying it doesn't do enough to protect women's rights, particularly in the area of family law.

March 04, 2004
'Paintball Terrorists' Convicted
Three American Muslims accused of using paintball games to train for holy war were found guilty of conspiracy charges on Thursday.

Prosecutors said the three were part of a “Virginia jihad network” that underwent paramilitary training in 2000 and 2001 in hopes of joining up with the Taliban. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the group allegedly focused efforts on defending the former Afghan regime.

Masoud Khan, 34, of Gaithersburg, Md., was convicted of the most serious charges, including conspiracy to levy war against the United States and conspiracy to contribute services to the Taliban.

Army Sergeant to Be Tried in Grenade Attack
The U.S. Army intends to court-martial a sergeant accused of tossing grenades into fellow service members' tents while stationed in Kuwait. The attack killed two officers.

The court-martial, expected to take place this summer, could result in the death penalty for Sgt. Hasan Akbar, 32.

Akbar faces two counts of premeditated murder and three counts of attempted murder for the attack on 101st Airborne Division soldiers at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait on March 23, 2003, during the early days of the Iraq war.

In addition to the two officers killed, 14 people were injured.

March 23, 2003.

Militants Claim Al-Zarqawi Is Dead
A Jordanian extremist suspected of bloody homicide attacks in Iraq was killed some time ago in U.S. bombing and a letter outlining plans for fomenting sectarian war is a forgery, a statement allegedly from an insurgent group west of the capital said.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in the Sulaimaniyah mountains of northern Iraq “during the American bombing there,” according to a statement circulated in Fallujah this week and signed by the “Leadership of the Allahu Akbar Mujahedeen.”

The statement was part of a leaflet campaign by insurgent forces and has not been verified.

Just yesterday, the U.S. forces claimed that had proof that Al-Zarqawi, a Jordian terrorist, was behind the deadly attacks in Karbala and Baghdad this week.

Meanwhile, MSNBC reports:

…NBC News has learned that long before the war the Bush administration had several chances to wipe out his terrorist operation and perhaps kill Zarqawi himself — but never pulled the trigger.
Dan's Winds of War, March 4/04

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 Dan Darling of Regnum Crucis.

TOP TOPICS

  • Both Russia and Yemen have scored their own impressive victories in the war on terrorism, with Russia confirming the death of the infamous Chechen warlord Ruslan Gelayev, who ran al-Qaeda training camps in the Pankisi Gorge and Yemen captured Sayed Imam el-Sharif, a key founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.
  • Speaking of impressive, how about these female officers in Iraq, and their ongoing courage under fire?

Other Topics Today Include: Iraq Briefing; Iran Reports; Helping queer Iranians; Saudis create charity regulating body; Osama's relatives being rounded up; Pakistan arrests 3 al-Qaeda; the source of the bin Laden captured rumor; al-Qaeda and the drug trade; al-Islah supremo denies US claims; Swisscom's role in capturing KSM; 2 Venezuelan protesters killed; Kyrgyzstan becoming a possible IMU haven; US training Algerian military; New Zealand cracks down on GSPC; Abu Sayyaf member attacks Filippino ferry; and Osman Ocalan's marriage.

Read The Rest…

Iraqi Extremist Leader Arrested
Sami Ahmed, a former Iraqi intelligence service officer under Saddam Hussein, was captured late Wednesday, said Maj. Josslyn Aberle of the Tikrit-based 4th Infantry Division.

Ahmed is one of the fifteen who were detained yesterday.

March 03, 2004
Stronger Border Security in Baghdad
The US overseer in Iraq, Paul Bremer, says Washington will spend $AU80 million to pay for more border guards backed by hundreds of vehicles.

“It is increasingly apparent that a large part of this terrorism comes from outside the country and we are strengthening border protection to counter it,” he said.

The military commander in Iraq, General John Abizaid, has said the US had received intelligence warnings of the attacks in Karbala and Baghdad and probably prevented even greater carnage with special operations raids the night before.

He said US and Iraqi forces foiled a third planned attack in Basra, and thwarted plans to attack several prominent Shiite figures.

Update on Blasts

Update to this post.

Three rockets were fired at the headquarters here of the US-led coalition last night at the same time as overseer Paul Bremer was due to give a news conference, but there were no casualties, a military spokesman said. “There was a three-rocket attack in the Green Zone at 8 p.m. (1700 GMT),” the spokesman said. “One rocket impacted in the zone … and at this time there are no reports of casualties.”
Jordan Militant May Be Behind Bombings
The United States has evidence that a Jordanian-born militant was behind this week's devastating suicide bombings in Iraq, the top US commander in the Middle East said.

The statement by General John Abizaid is the most direct assertion yet by a US official that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is carrying through on a terrorist campaign inside Iraq, as described in a letter purportedly written by al-Zarqawi and intercepted recently by US intelligence.

The letter outlined plans to attack Shi'ite religious sites to foment a civil war. The Bush administration says al-Zarqawi has links to Osama bin Laden, leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist network blamed for the September 11 attacks against the United States.

As Command Post contributor Ed Moltzen wrote:

Al Qaeda's strategy in Iraq was to pull off terrorist attacks against Shiites, have it blamed on Sunnis, and create a civil war.

Here's the result: Shiites, Join Sunnis in Solidarity March

More blasts in Baghdad

Associated Press is reporting:

Five large blasts heard in central Baghdad; sirens sound in area containing headquarters of U.S.-led forces.

More details when they become available.

USA TODAY/AP: Five large explosions rumble Baghdad

Five large explosions rumbled through the center of Baghdad late Wednesday, and sirens sounded from the green zone where the headquarters of the U.S.-led occupation authority is located.

The blasts, which happened in quick succession just after 8 p.m., came nearly two-and-a-half hours after two explosions were heard. The blasts were followed by a siren and a warning in English to “take cover.”

The U.S. military press office said no planned detonations of confiscated weapons had been planned but officials had no information where the blasts occurred.

Fifteen Detained in Terror Attacks
Iraqi police and U.S. troops detained 15 people, including four thought to be Iranian, in the devastating homicide attacks against Shiite Muslim pilgrims in Baghdad and Karbala, an official said Wednesday.

[A] coalition official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said 15 people were detained in Karbala after the blasts, nine of them in Iraqi custody. The others, being held by coalition forces, included four Farsi speakers thought to be Iranians, the official said.

There was evidence that other attacks had been planned:

Iraqi officials said homicide bombers were arrested in the southern city of Basra and in police in oil-rich Kirkuk found a bomb with 22 pounds of TNT alongside a road where Shiites had planned to march.
March 02, 2004
Two loud explosions heard in Baghdad

Associated Press is reporting “Two loud explosions heard in Baghdad” through various outlets.

AP: Two Explosions Are Heard in Baghdad

Two explosions were heard Wednesday morning in Baghdad, a day after simultaneous suicide bombings on Shiite Muslim shrines in the capital and the holy city of Karbala killed at least 143 people.

It was not clear where the explosions were and U.S. military officials said they had no information.

Iraqi officials called for calm at the start of a three-day mourning period in light of Tuesday's attacks and hundreds of funerals were expected to take place.

Three Day Mourning
Shi'ite leaders have called for calm as Iraq began three days of national mourning on Wednesday and prepared for the funerals of at least 170 people killed in a string of attacks officials said aimed to spark a sectarian war.
Iraq's Governing Council looked set to delay Wednesday's planned signing of an interim constitution, hailed as a major breakthrough in restoring democracy to the occupied country.
They said the delay was out of respect for the period of mourning and the document would be signed later in the week.
Iraq's top Shi'ite leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani criticised the US-led foreign occupiers for failing to provide enough security, but called upon Iraqis to remain united.
“We call on all dear Iraqi sons to be more vigilant against the schemes of the enemy, and ask them to work hard to unite and have one voice to speed up regaining the injured country's sovereignty and independence and stability,” Sistani said

“We put responsibility on the occupation forces for the noticeable procrastination in controlling the borders of Iraq and preventing infiltrators, and not strengthening Iraqi national forces and supplying them with the necessary equipment to do their jobs,” he said in a statement. (BBC)

Aljazeera

“These sick people with guns are seeking to start sectarian strife so they can consolidate their positions,” Adel Abdel Mehdi of the main Shia party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) said.

“Their aim is to stop Iraqis from winning their sovereignty,” he said.

Bombshell NBC Report: Bush Administration Missed Chance To Get Al Qaeda Terrorists in Iraq in 2002

Maybe there's more to this story, but this NBC report sure looks like a huge black eye both for the Bush Administration and for critics who argued that the Administration exaggerated Iraq's terror connections and acted too aggressively in Iraq:

With Tuesday’s attacks, Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant with ties to al-Qaida, is now blamed for more than 700 terrorist killings in Iraq.
* * *
In June 2002, U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaida had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq, producing deadly ricin and cyanide.

The Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp with cruise missiles and airstrikes and sent it to the White House, where, according to U.S. government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council.

* * *
Four months later, intelligence showed Zarqawi was planning to use ricin in terrorist attacks in Europe.

The Pentagon drew up a second strike plan, and the White House again killed it. By then the administration had set its course for war with Iraq.

* * *
In January 2003, the threat turned real. Police in London arrested six terror suspects and discovered a ricin lab connected to the camp in Iraq.
The Pentagon drew up still another attack plan, and for the third time, the National Security Council killed it.

Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi’s operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.

The United States did attack the camp at Kirma at the beginning of the war, but it was too late — Zarqawi and many of his followers were gone.

Read the whole thing.

Iraq Death Toll Revised

Reuters now gives the combined death toll for the attacks in Karbala and Baghdad as 170, with approximately 400 injured.

4 would-be suicide bombers arrested in Iraq

MAARIV: 4 would-be suicide bombers arrested in Iraq

Iraqi police arrested four would-be suicide bombers in the southern city of Basra a short time after the suicide attacks in Baghdad and Karbala this morning, which killed over 140 people.

Two terrorists, a Syrian and an Iraqi, were detained after a car bomb was discovered outside a mosque in central Basra. Meanwhile, two women wearing explosive-belts were also arrested in the city.

Ansar-al-Islam Suspected in Iraq Bombings

Ansar-al-Islam, an al-Queda linked group, is being eyed as the culprit in today's deadly explosions in Karbala and Baghdad.

In the immediate aftermath of the deadliest post-war bombing in Iraq on Tuesday, U.S. and Iraqi officials pointed the finger at the shadowy al-Qaida-linked terrorist group, Ansar al-Islam, and its leader Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi.

Only a month ago, U.S. officials released what they said was a letter by the Jordanian militant outlining a strategy of spectacular attacks on Shiites, aimed at sparking a Sunni-Shiite civil war.

Interesting note:

If the link is proven, it means that more than half of those killed worldwide in terrorist attacks since Sept. 11, 2001, have been Iraqis.

A letter intercepted from Ansar leader Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi about a month ago stated:

“Praised be to Allah, I have completed 25 of these operations, some of them against the Shia and their leaders, the Americans and their military, the police, the military, and the coalition forces. There will be more in the future, God willing. We did not want to publicly claim these operations until we become more powerful and were ready for the consequences.”

It's a popular thought that these attacks are designed to start a sectarian war.

Death Toll in Karbala Raised (Updated)

The Fox News headline is reporting at least 145 have been killed in today's blasts.

The inside story still says 100, but various television reports keep upping the number of dead.

Reuters has a rather graphic description of the carnage:

The explosions tore men, women and children limb from limb shortly after 10 a.m. (7 a.m. British time) at the climax of ceremonies for the 10-day Ashura holiday. Nearly four hours later the death toll was at 70 people and rising.

Similar explosions killed at least 75 more in the capital Baghdad 110 kms (68 miles) north.

Many corpses were missing body parts or deeply blackened and yellowed from the heat of the blasts in Kerbala. A man's scalp and ear lay on the ground alongside rotting fruit and a muddied pool of water.

More as we get it.

Update: Fox News has changed the headline on their site - it now says 87 killed.

Update 2: It's back up to 140 now.

ABC News, which puts the death toll at 124, has this report:

Furious leaders of the country's 60 percent Shi'ite majority branded the attacks an attempt to ignite civil war.

Polish troops in Kerbala and U.S. soldiers in Baghdad said the blasts were caused by mortars which landed among huge crowds of Shi'ites in near-simultaneous attacks on the two cities.

The U.S. military said last month it had evidence al Qaeda guerrillas were planning to attack Shi'ites to spark sectarian violence.

US soldier killed near Baghdad

One US soldier was killed, and another wounded in Iraq, when their vehicle was hit by what us sources are calling an “improvised explosive device”. This is the 379th soldier KIA since the start of the war.

Via Reuters

Karbala/Baghdad Explosions

The BBC is reporting six explosions in Karbala, with a possible 25 killed.

The BBC's Paul Wood in Karbala says there are scenes of panic, with victims being carried on makeshift stretchers and women trying to get children away.

There are also reports of a blast at a major Shia shrine in Baghdad, in what may be a co-ordinated attack….

He says this was what everybody feared, that somebody would try to target this religious festival - perhaps to try to bring about a sectarian conflict and use the festival at Karbala to try to achieve that end.

The festival had been banned under Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated regime for fear it would foment rebellion.

UPDATE: CNN has a report online, which is mostly an amended article about the passing of the Iraqi constitution, earlier this week.

UPDATE: CNN television is reporting up to nine explosions in Karbala. The live pictures don't seem to show anything resembling mass panic or chaos, but visuals are limited.

UPDATE: Here is the AP wire version of events:

An Associated Reporter saw 10 bodies that appeared to be dead being loaded onto a cart and taken away, as well as many injured.

In Baghdad, three explosions targeted the Kazimiya shrine, too, killing and injuring scores of people, an Associated Press Television News reporter said.

UPDATE: Fox News UK affiliate Sky News reports at least 33 killed in Karbala, but also states the number as 25 in the same report.

UPDATE: CNN television maintains that Shiites on the street are not apparently blaming Sunnis for the attack, but regard it as the work of “infidels”. The scene in Karbala is calmer, and American helicopters are on the scene, though no US troops have entered the holy sites.

"Large explosions" in Baghdad crowd

CNN is reporting 'large explosions' in Baghdad near a large mosque packed with people. Estimated deaths are 'in the dozens” according to the field correspondent.

No links available yet.

UPDATE: Reports coming of CNN say that corresponding explosions went off in Karbala, which is in the middle of one of the largest and most important Shia religious celebration of the year (the Ashoura morning festival). The blasts could barely be heard over the ambient noise from the street they say, and celebration is continuing.

Security personal are at the site in Karbala, where gunfire has been reported.

UPDATE: Fox News is reporting at least 5 killed in the Karbala explosion, and counts the number of blasts in Baghdad as three.

An Associated Press reporter said the streets were in chaos with people running to seek shelter as a series of at least five explosions went off nearly simultaneously after 10 a.m. local time in and around the city, 55 miles south of Baghdad
March 01, 2004
Qusay and Uday... still alive?

MAARIV: Uday and Qusay alive, says Saddam’s wife

According to a London-based Arabic paper, Sajida Hussein, wife of Saddam Hussein, the deposed ruler of Iraq, is convinced that her two sons Uday and Qusay are still alive. El-Kuds el—Arabi reports that Sajida claims the photos of the dead bodies of Uday and Qusay which were poublished by US forces are forgeries.

The newspaper also reports that Sajida is currently residing in Damascus, the Syrian capital, not in Yemen as was generally thought. The U.S government disclosed this weekend that the informant who revealed the hiding place of Uday and Qusay has received the promised reward of $30 million.

Andrew's Winds of War: March 1/04

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET 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.

TOP TOPICS

  • President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the only elected President in Haiti's history, fled Sunday morning to avoid the rebellion that threatened to seize Port-au-Prince. In Aristide's wake U.S. Marines entered Haiti to help restore order, although rebel leaders claimed they welcomed foreign troops and would provide them every cooperation. The U.S. is hoping for quick UN approval of an international security force. Even if the UN does act quickly this deployment represents yet another drag on Americans forces that are stretched very thin between the war against radical Islam and American peacekeeping commitments.
  • The biggest non-secret of the blogosphere reached the big time Sunday when the New York Times published an expose of how Saddam Hussein used the UN's Oil for Food program to make billions of dollars in kickbacks. Particular kudos are due to blogger Roger L. Simon, who was one of the primary sources keeping this story alive in the blogosphere. One big question remains: what will this news do to the credibility of the United Nations, which was at the heart of the story from the beginning?

Other Topics Today Include: Iraq misses its deadline for a constitution; homegrown suicide bombers in Iraq; Iran goes after Qaddafi; 9/11 commission gets an extension; the U.S. sets its sights on Osama once again; and America prepares to send troops to Africa.

Read The Rest…

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