Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Why Elections Won't Quell Iraq Resistance

Published on Wednesday, December 15, 2004 by the Boston Globe
Why Elections Won't Quell Iraq Resistance
by Molly Bingham

The composition of the Iraqi resistance is not what the US administration has been calling it, and the more it is oversimplified the harder it is to explain its complexity.
I spent from August 2003 until June this year in Baghdad researching the resistance. That's obviously not a comprehensive study, but it does provide a more complete picture of the resistance than the administration's. My objective is not to romanticize the fighters or their fight, but merely to better understand what our realistic choices are in Iraq and the Middle East.

Here are some myths about the Iraqi resistance that need to be dispelled.

The resistance only began after months of America "botching" the occupation.

While three of the fighters I spoke to had waited several months to "join" the resistance, the bulk of those involved decided within days of the end of the "ground war" on April 9 that they would fight. Only three had done voluntary military service, and only one of them was still on active military duty.

Of the five fighters I spent the most time with, all of them had begun organizing resistance cells within a week of April 9. They started small with friends. One man, a teacher, had neither been a member of the Ba'ath party nor an admirer of Saddam. He started as a guide for foreign fighters and later looked for a group of like-minded men he could work with. With no military experience, he soon became a weapons procurer for an ever widening group of cells.

The resistance in Iraq is made up of Ba'athi dead enders, regime loyalists, common criminals, Islamic extremists, and driven by a vast number of foreigners with contacts to Al Qaeda.

While there are certainly those elements involved, it is misleading to describe the resistance in those terms. I met no one who had recently been released from prison or who knew of any connections with Al Qaeda, and I only met one foreign fighter. (I would not, however, be surprised if Al Qaeda or other militant Islamic movements have become active in Iraq since I left.) I met Shia and Sunnis fighting together, women and men, young and old. I met people from all economic, social, and educational backgrounds.
The original impetus for almost all of the individuals I spoke to was a nationalistic one -- the desire to defend their country from occupation, not to defend Saddam Hussein or his regime.
However, two things should be noted. First, after the capture of Saddam a year ago, I sensed the growing power of Islam within the fighters. Second, in the absence of a solid government or civil structure it is not surprising that a Muslim community would revert to Koranic law, even if only temporary.

The Iraqi resistance is a monolithic, tightly organized structure with a leadership that can be obliterated and a fixed number of fighters who can be eliminated.

The many levels of violence in Iraq after the US attack on Fallujah last month reveal the absurdity of this myth. Of the 15 resistance members who told me about their lives, most were from the same small neighborhood of Adhamiya in Baghdad, but were not necessarily in the same cell or command structure. By the end of 2003, these cells had grown while maintaining their independence. They were no longer carrying out attacks in their own home turf but were traveling to other areas of the country. The rise in attacks over the past year has been attributed as reactions to the transfer of power to the Allawi government in July 2004, or to the elections in January. However, more likely, it is simply an indication of improved funding, coordination, and resources.
Attacking Fallujah neither decapitated the resistance nor eliminated its support. Rather it is a powerful recruiting poster for Iraqis not yet engaged in the struggle and for foreigners motivated to join what they view as a Jihad.

Nationwide elections will provide Iraq with a legitimate government, and the violence in the country will subside significantly.

The notion that after elections the resistance will have nothing left to fight against is untenable. There is no government that can emerge from the current process that will be viewed as legitimate in their eyes. The resistance will continue until American influence has disappeared from Iraq's political system.
The political dead end described above is the fate the resistance has chosen. They view themselves, and are viewed by others, as Iraqis and Muslims, declaring their fight to be for their homes, their nation, their honor, and their faith against the imposition of a political structure by a foreign nation. Their struggle against us is not much more complicated than that, and it seems to me that the violence will remain until we are gone.

Molly Bingham, a photographer and writer, is a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.
© 2004 Boston Globe Company

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Ramsey Clarke to defend Saddam

Wednesday 29 December 2004, 20:36 Makka Time, 17:36 GMT

Ramsey Clark said Washington should also be put on trial
Saddam sees lawyer for the first time
Saddam's legal team slams ICRC
Impartial judgement for Saddam?

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Former US attorney-general Ramsey Clark is to join Saddam Hussein's defence team, a spokesman for the ousted Iraqi president's lawyers says.
Ziad Khasawna said on Wednesday that Clark, who held the office of attorney-general under US president Lyndon Johnson, had "honoured and inspired" the legal team by agreeing to help defend Saddam.

The former top US justice official, who arrived on Tuesday in Jordan where the defence team is based, has become known as a left-wing lawyer and firm critic of US foreign policy since leaving office.

He visited the ousted leader in Baghdad in February 2003 just before the US-lead invasion and has also been involved with the defence of former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic, on trial for war crimes at a UN court in The Hague.

Clark comment

Clark said in the Jordanian capital Amman that his principle concern was protecting the former president's rights, who only saw a lawyer for the first time this month - a year after his capture.

"In international law, anyone accused of crime has the right to be tried by a confident, independent and impartial court, and there can be no fair trail without those qualities," he said.

"The special court in Iraq was created by the Iraqi governing council, which is nothing more than a creation of the US military occupation and has no authority in law as a criminal court," he said.

The Iraq Special Tribunal was established by the US-led administration in Iraq last December to try members of the former government.

Clark also said the US itself must be tried for the November assault on Falluja, destruction of houses, torture in prisons and its role in the deaths of thousands of Iraqis in the war.

A new Vietnam...

American officials, including the President himself and his defence secretary, vehemently deny that saying Iraq is a different situation altogether.
Yet, US field commanders have admitted that their troops are facing an escalating guerrilla war with an average of 25 attacks everyday.The mounting number of casualties from combat operations has exacerbated US worries and opinion polls have shown that an increasing number of American citizens are not happy with the present situation in Iraq.
A Gallup poll published on 8 July 2003 indicated that 42% of the US public think the war in Iraq is going badly compared to 13% in May.
The tactics of searching neighbourhoods, blockading cities, mass round-up operations, and torturing and killing of civilians are fuelling the resentment of the Iraqi people toward occupation forces.
Resistance is gaining momentum in the central and mid-northern regions of Iraq while the Shia dominated regions in the south have been relatively quiet so far.
However, Iraqi resistance groups are not clearly defined yet, and only four groups - unknown before - have revealed their identities and warned the occupation forces that they will fight until Iraq is free.
These are:
The Armed Islamic Movement for al-Qaida
The National Brigades of Iraqi Resistance
The National Front of Fedayeen
The Salfist Jihad Group.
US Troops are facing an escalating guerrilla war In IraqUsing rocket-propelled grenades, mines, explosives and mortars, the Iraqi resistance fighters are costing the occupation forces a lot in life and equipment.Regardless of whether the attacks are orchestrated by Saddam as the US says, the truth is that Iraqi citizens are disillusioned with an occupation that has left them without jobs, incomes, security, electricity and clean water.Paul Wolfowitz, the US Deputy Secretary of Defense and a chief architect of the war on Iraq, has admitted that the Pentagon had been partially wrong in its post-war assumptions, saying: "Some conditions were worse than we anticipated."

That was about one year ago, what Do you Think??

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Sunday December 26, 2004
Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) A video posted by an Iraqi insurgent group Sunday purported to show last week's suicide attack at a U.S. base in Mosul, with a fireball rising from a white tent. The group claimed that the bomber slipped into the base through a hole in the fence during a guard change.

The footage showed a black-garbed gunman wearing an explosives belt around his body apparently the suicide bomber, identified in the tape as Abu Omar al-Mosuli bidding farewell to his comrades. The video gives no further details about the bomber beyond his name.

The Ansar al-Sunnah Army had earlier said it would release a video of last Tuesday's attack, which killed 22 people, including 18 U.S. service members and civilian contractors.

The bombing the deadliest attack on a U.S. base in Iraq has prompted a U.S. military investigation into how the bomber got onto the heavily guarded site and how security at bases can be improved. Three Iraqi National Guardsmen and a fourth ``non-U.S. person'' were also killed. The military has not said whether that fourth man was the bomber.

The U.S. military has said the attacker probably was wearing an Iraqi military uniform, and one general said the Iraqi security forces may have been infiltrated. The Iraqi chief of staff, Gen. Babaker B. Shawkat Zebari, said in an interview with The Associated Press that the bomber may have bought a uniform from the market but was not a member of the Iraqi security forces.

In the first section of the video with a time signature of Dec. 20, a day before the attack three gunmen wearing black masks and clothes and holding automatic rifles are shown sitting in front of a black banner with the group's name on it. One of them, apparently al-Mosuli, sits on the left, wearing an explosives belt.

The gunman in the center reads a statement describes how the attack will be carried out. No mention is made of wearing a uniform. The authenticity of the video could not be independently verified.

``One of the lions from our martyrdom-seeking brothers will infiltrate the defenses of the enemy at the Morez base in Mosul. He will slip through a hole in the camp's wire, exploiting the changing of the guard,'' the gunman said. ``We have been observing their schedule for a long time.''

``This lion will then proceed to his target, and he will take advantage of lunch time, when the dining hall is crowded with the crusaders and their (Iraqi) allies,'' he said. ``The operation will then be carried out.''

``Let Bush, Blair and Allawi know that we are coming and that we will chase them all away, God willing,'' he said, referring to President Bush and prime ministers Tony Blair of Britain and Ayad Allawi of Iraq.

The two men then embrace the one wearing the explosives belt.

An image then shows a map of the base, as one of the gunmen points out locations using a military knife. One location is marked ``the dining hall'' in Arabic.

A later outdoor video image shot on Tuesday, when the attack occurred shows a fireball rising from the distance with the accompanying sound of the explosion. A final image shot from a vehicle driving past the base shows the torn white tent that served as the base mess hall.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Information Clearing House has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Information Clearing House endorsed or sponsored by the originator.

Monday, December 27, 2004

War Crimes

War CrimesEditorial12/23/04 "Washington Post" -- THANKS TO a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and other human rights groups, thousands of pages of government documents released this month have confirmed some of the painful truths about the abuse of foreign detainees by the U.S. military and the CIA -- truths the Bush administration implacably has refused to acknowledge. Since the publication of photographs of abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in the spring the administration's whitewashers -- led by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld -- have contended that the crimes were carried out by a few low-ranking reservists, that they were limited to the night shift during a few chaotic months at Abu Ghraib in 2003, that they were unrelated to the interrogation of prisoners and that no torture occurred at the Guantanamo Bay prison where hundreds of terrorism suspects are held. The new documents establish beyond any doubt that every part of this cover story is false. Though they represent only part of the record that lies in government files, the documents show that the abuse of prisoners was already occurring at Guantanamo in 2002 and continued in Iraq even after the outcry over the Abu Ghraib photographs. FBI agents reported in internal e-mails and memos about systematic abuses by military interrogators at the base in Cuba, including beatings, chokings, prolonged sleep deprivation and humiliations such as being wrapped in an Israeli flag. "On a couple of occasions I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water," an unidentified FBI agent wrote on Aug. 2, 2004. "Most times they had urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18 to 24 hours or more." Two defense intelligence officials reported seeing prisoners severely beaten in Baghdad by members of a special operations unit, Task Force 6-26, in June. When they protested they were threatened and pictures they took were confiscatedOther documents detail abuses by Marines in Iraq, including mock executions and the torture of detainees by burning and electric shock. Several dozen detainees have died in U.S. custody. In many cases, Army investigations of these crimes were shockingly shoddy: Officials lost records, failed to conduct autopsies after suspicious deaths and allowed evidence to be contaminated. Soldiers found to have committed war crimes were excused with noncriminal punishments. The summary of one suspicious death of a detainee at the Abu Ghraib prison reads: "No crime scene exam was conducted, no autopsy conducted, no copy of medical file obtained for investigation because copy machine broken in medical office." Some of the abuses can be attributed to lack of discipline in some military units -- though the broad extent of the problem suggests, at best, that senior commanders made little effort to prevent or control wrongdoing. But the documents also confirm that interrogators at Guantanamo believed they were following orders from Mr. Rumsfeld. One FBI agent reported on May 10 about a conversation he had with Guantanamo's commander, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, who defended the use of interrogation techniques the FBI regarded as illegal on the grounds that the military "has their marching orders from the Sec Def." Gen. Miller has testified under oath that dogs were never used to intimidate prisoners at Guantanamo, as authorized by Mr. Rumsfeld in December 2002; the FBI papers show otherwise. The Bush administration refused to release these records to the human rights groups under the Freedom of Information Act until it was ordered to do so by a judge. Now it has responded to their publication with bland promises by spokesmen that any wrongdoing will be investigated. The record of the past few months suggests that the administration will neither hold any senior official accountable nor change the policies that have produced this shameful record. Congress, too, has abdicated its responsibility under its Republican leadership: It has been nearly four months since the last hearing on prisoner abuse. Perhaps intervention by the courts will eventually stem the violations of human rights that appear to be ongoing in Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan. For now the appalling truth is that there has been no remedy for the documented torture and killing of foreign prisoners by this American government. Copyright: Washington Post.
(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Information Clearing House has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Information Clearing House endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

Friday, December 24, 2004

Major US Defeat

Major US Defeat In Fallujah Claimed

Lions Of Fallujah Hail
Major Victory Over US ForcesBy Muhammad Abu NasrFree Arab Voice And Omar Al-Faris, JUS12-17-4

A massive US ground offensive on Fallujah yesterday has ended in humiliating defeat for the Americans. While dust storms disabled US airpower, matters were further complicated when Allawi troops fled the battleground after 15 minutes of fighting and Mujahideen launched devastating attacks under the cover of poor visibility.

In a new development on the Fallujah battlefield, US forces attempted to wage a massive ground offensive on the city yesterday to destroy the center of the Resistance in the south of the city, but were repulsed by the Mujahideen. In news received from Mafkarat al-Islam, the details on the situation were revealed in a report filed at 7:20pm last night Mecca time.

Shaykh As'ad ad-Dulaymi, official spokesman for the city's Mujahideen, said that more than 400 US tanks and 200 armored vehicles took part in the attack along with about 4,000 US troops, in addition to support from Allawi "national guards," in what was the biggest massing of US forces in the battle for the city so far. No other attack of this scale had been mounted either in this offensive or in the first siege of Fallujah in April 2004. Ad-Dulaymi said that the Americans apparently wanted to make today the last day of the resistance in Fallujah.

US forces began to amassing troops at 8am, local time yesterday that required Mujahideen, to move out of the al-'Askari and al-Wahdah neighborhoods and into the southern part of the city where they could help defend the main center of the resistance in the an-Nazal neighborhood.

Shaykh ad-Dulaymi said that the American attack began at 10:30am. Just fifteen minutes into the battle, the Allawi "national guard" fled from the battle field, and ultimately from the whole battle zone, leaving the US forces to fight the Mujahideen alone. With the Allawi troops out of the way, US forces had to take up front line positions.

The first sign that the Americans were beginning to falter came at about 12 noon when US occupation troops also began to flee from the battlefield, abandoning their weapons. The gradual collapse of the US lines continued until victory was granted to the Mujahideen at 3:15pm when the US troops began their withdrawal from the battle field towards the east and to the Nuwwab ad-Dubbat, al-Mu'allimin, and the Jami' al-Aqsa areas at the northern extremities of Fallujah adjacent to the railroad tracks.

US forces used loudspeakers to call for a one-hour truce in order to remove their wounded from the battle theatre. The Americans addressed the Mujahideen by saying "If you are real fighters, then display chivalry." The Mujahideen responded with hand-held microphones from a mosque, reading out a statement written by Shaykh Abu As'ad ad-Dulaymi in which he said that Allah had commanded them "not to have faith in the Christians, Jews, and infidels among you." He said, "You speak of chivalry now after you have suffered the pain and humiliation of punishment. So taste what you have been promised." The Mujahideen read Shaykh ad-Dulaymi's statement four times while the Americans made their same appeal dozens of times over.

US warplanes initially took part in the attacks on the city, but at 1:30 pm, US bombers dropped "friendly fire" on a unit of US troops by mistake, due to poor visibility. The air campaign was subsequently halted.

Shaykh ad-Dulaymi said that it was impossible at that time to give an accurate count of US losses, but that 90 clouds of thick black smoke mixed with flame were rising into the sky - signs of destroyed US vehicles, most of them Abrams tanks and Bradley armored vehicles. He said that the Mujahideen pursued the retreating Americans who fled along various routes and that there were indications that some Americans had been taken prisoner.

Shaykh Abu As'ad ad-Dulaymi praised the mercy of Allah for the fact that as the Americans gathered for battle at 8am the skies were clear, but then winds began to pick up and intensify until by 9am there was a yellow dust storm blowing that reduced visibility to less than 10 meters. This allowed the Mujahideen to take cover from the aircraft and tanks and to move about with ease being accustom to these conditions while the dust storm paralyzed US forces.

The American defeat Wednesday is the biggest American defeat ever in the city of Fallujah since the start of the US aggression against it. It is evident that the Mujahideen have learned their lessons very well from earlier attacks. It should be remembered that yesterday's storm was a factor that worked to the great advantage of the Mujahideen while preventing the Americans from using their airpower. In addition, the storm distracted US troops on the ground while facilitating surprise guerrilla attacks by the Mujahideen that sowed great confusion in the ranks of the Americans however the situation is fluid and remains volatile.