The War in Context  
  Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives     
Taking Arabs seriously
By Marc Lynch, Foreign Affairs, September/October, 2003

For the hawks in the Bush administration, one of the keys to understanding the Middle East is Osama bin Laden's observation that people flock to the "strong horse." Bush officials think U.S. problems in the region stem in part from "weak" responses offered by previous administrations to terrorist attacks in the 1980s and 1990s, and they came into office determined to reestablish respect for U.S. power abroad. After nearly two years of aggressive military actions, however, the United States' regional standing has never been lower. As the recent Pew Global Attitudes survey put it, "the bottom has fallen out of Arab and Muslim support for the United States."

The failure to find dramatic evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction has spurred widespread debate in the Middle East about the real purpose of the recent war, which most Arab commentators now see as a bid by the United States to consolidate its regional and global hegemony. U.S. threats against Iran and Syria play into this fear, increasing a general determination to resist. And the chaos that followed the fall of Baghdad, the escalating Iraqi anger at what is always described as an American occupation, and the seemingly ambivalent U.S. attitude toward Iraqi democracy have reinforced deep preexisting skepticism about Washington's intentions. [ complete article ]

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Three Turkmen shot dead in Kirkuk after Turkmen-Kurd fighting in nearby town
By Agence France Presse, August 23, 2003

Three Turkmen were shot dead by police in Iraq's northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk, Kirkuk Governor Abdul Rahman Mustafa said.

The deaths came a day after fighting between Turkmen and Kurds in nearby Tuz Khurmatu left eight dead on both sides, while two more Turkmen were killed by US soldiers as the US-led coalition faced the spectre of growing ethnic fighting. [ complete article ]

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The Pyongyang games
By Fred Kaplan, Slate, August 21, 2003

Finally, George W. Bush seems to be facing the reality he has tried to avoid for the past nine months -- that the only practical way to stop North Korea from building atom bombs is through diplomacy. Negotiations begin this Wednesday in Beijing, with delegates from the six key powers -- the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan, and Russia -- and time set aside for informal but crucial bilateral talks between the Americans and North Koreans, as well. [ complete article ]

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Sergio Vieira de Mello's final words: 'Don't let them pull the U.N. out of Iraq'
By Theola Labbe, Washington Post, August 23, 2003

As soon as he could pick himself up off the floor of his room and remove the shard of glass embedded in his right leg, Army 1st Sgt. William von Zehle rushed toward the sound of the explosion.

The 52-year-old retired fire chief from Wilton, Conn., surveyed the rubble and carnage. As he pondered what to do, a man in a blue U.N. baseball cap approached. "We have two people trapped! Sergio and Gil are trapped!" the man said.

The names meant nothing to von Zehle, he recalled today. But he went to look.

Sergio was alive, conscious and in excruciating pain. For the next three hours, von Zehle worked to set him free. He had no rope, no bucket, no flashlight, none of the equipment that could be found on any firetruck in Wilton.

All the while, the two men talked. Von Zehle did not realize he was listening to the last words of the U.N. special representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello. [ complete article ]

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Inside Israel's secret prison
By Aviv Lavie, Haaretz, August 22, 2003

Detainees are blindfolded and kept in blackened cells, never told where they are, brutally interrogated and allowed no visitors of any kind. Dubbed 'the Israeli Guantanamo,' it's no wonder facility 1391 officially does not exist.

M, who serves in the Intelligence Corps reserves, remembers the first time he was sent to do guard duty at Camp 1391. Before climbing to the top of the observation tower he received an explicit order from the responsible officer: "When you're on the tower you look straight ahead only, outside the base, and to the sides. What happens behind you is none of your business. Do not turn around." [ complete article ]

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Inside story of the hunt for Bin Laden
By Rory McCarthy, The Guardian, August 23, 2003

With the US election nearing and mounting concerns about Washington's second great military project - Iraq - George Bush more than ever needs the incalculable political boost that Bin Laden's capture would bring.

The Saudi's last known hiding place was in the caves of Tora Bora in the Spin Ghar mountains of eastern Afghanistan. It was December 2001 and the Taliban regime was collapsing across Afghanistan under the weight of America's bombing campaign.

Hundreds of al-Qaida fighters were holed up in the caves, where Bin Laden was heard making a radio address exhorting his men to fight. He also made a 33-minute video recording. Looking gaunt and tired, he described the September 11 attacks as "blessed strikes".

"We say that the end of the United States is imminent," he said. It was the last the world saw of him. [ complete article ]

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Aid groups reduce operations in Iraq
By Daniel Williams, Washington Post, August 22, 2003

Independent humanitarian operations in Iraq began to erode today as the United Nations announced a reduction of about a third of its Baghdad headquarters staff, the International Committee of the Red Cross said that an unspecified number of foreign workers would be withdrawn and other organizations considered changes in personnel or security arrangements. [ complete article ]

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Hollywood isn't holding its lines against the Pentagon
By Jonathan Turley, Los Angeles Times, August 19, 2003

With the reality of entrenched opposition in Iraq resulting in increasing U.S. fatalities there, the opposition at home to the occupation is hardening by the day. The military appears to have come up with a solution: Change reality.

In what has been described as a "Pentagon infomercial," the Defense Department has hired a former producer of the TV show "Cops" to film postwar Iraq from its perspective. Though producer Bertram van Munster has denied that he is shooting a propaganda piece, it is clear that the Pentagon is gearing up to frame its own account -- and history -- of the Iraq war.

The Pentagon has a long history of propaganda efforts. Indeed, the Pentagon is hard at work participating in a number of movies that will deliver its message on the legitimacy of the war and its own conduct in Iraq. [ complete article ]

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Will Lebanon's horror become Iraq's?
By Robert Baer, Washington Post, August 24, 2003

As soon as I heard about the truck bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad on Tuesday, my first thought was, oh, no, here we go again, the nightmare of Beirut, 1983.

The U.N. bombing has all the markings of a professional terrorist attack, the same expertise we saw in Lebanon during the '80s, even the same delivery system that was used to kill 241 U.S. servicemen in their Beirut barracks on Oct. 22, 1983 -- the strike that brought U.S. policy in Lebanon to a halt and altered the course of Middle East politics.

Like the one in Beirut, the U.N. truck bomb was expertly placed. It wasn't just designed to do massive damage -- although it did. It was apparently intended to hit the office of Sergio Vieira de Mello, the U.N. secretary general's special representative to Iraq. Using a suicide bomber ensured that the bomb went exactly where it was supposed to go. The attack may even have been timed to coincide with a news conference underway inside the building so that the bomb would kill as many people as possible. [ complete article ]

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U.S. heads fail to win Iraqi hearts
By Paul McGeough, Sydney Morning Herald, August 22, 2003

The escalating selection of targets by the resistance is as menacing as it is studious.

Initially, the hits were small-time and almost exclusively on US troops; then low-key sabotage of infrastructure; a few foreign contract workers and a couple of journalists; then the embassy of Jordan (one of the weakest governments that the US might attempt to bully into providing troops to put an Arab face on the occupation); more daring strikes on infrastructure (oil and water); and now the UN itself - the big daddy of the army of humanitarian organisations that flock to people and places in crisis.

Speculation on the next target is endless while speculation about the perpetrators, particularly by key members of the American administration, is veering dangerously towards a fundamental error in understanding the challenge confronting the US in Iraq. [ complete article ]

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A price too high
By Bob Herbert, New York Times, August 21, 2003

How long is it going to take for us to recognize that the war we so foolishly started in Iraq is a fiasco -- tragic, deeply dehumanizing and ultimately unwinnable? How much time and how much money and how many wasted lives is it going to take?

At the United Nations yesterday, grieving diplomats spoke bitterly, but not for attribution, about the U.S.-led invasion and occupation. They said it has not only resulted in the violent deaths of close and highly respected colleagues, but has also galvanized the most radical elements of Islam.

"This is a dream for the jihad," said one high-ranking U.N. official. "The resistance will only grow. The American occupation is now the focal point, drawing people from all over Islam into an eye-to-eye confrontation with the hated Americans.

"It is very propitious for the terrorists," he said. "The U.S. is now on the soil of an Arab country, a Muslim country, where the terrorists have all the advantages. They are fighting in a terrain which they know and the U.S. does not know, with cultural images the U.S. does not understand, and with a language the American soldiers do not speak. The troops can't even read the street signs." [ complete article ]

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Iraq: U.S. seeks U.N. help, offers 'arrogance'
By Thalif Deen, Inter Press Service (via Yahoo), August 22, 2003

''The issue of ceding authority is not an issue we have had to discuss today,'' Powell told reporters [after he came to the United Nations on Thursday to explore support for a new U.S. resolution that would convince reluctant member states -- including France, Russia, India, Pakistan and Turkey -- to provide troops for a proposed multinational force for Iraq].

''You have to have control of a large military organization. That's what U.S. leadership brings to the (U.S./U.K.) coalition,'' he said.

Powell added that he was working on ''language'' in the resolution that would call on U.N. member states ''to do more."

One observer labeled that as ''trademark arrogance''.

''The Bush administration believes that it can strong-arm or purchase votes in the Security Council for a resolution that gives the United Nations much responsibility, but little authority,'' said Chris Toensing, editor of Middle East Report and executive director of the Middle East Research and Information Project.

The request, he told IPS, is driven by domestic politics: as congressional and presidential elections approach next year the administration needs to offer the public ''good news'' about Iraq. [ complete article ]

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Security may not be safe issue for Bush in '04
By Dana Milbank and Mike Allen, Washington Post, August 22, 2003

The wave of violent death this week in Iraq, Israel, Gaza and Afghanistan brought to the fore a reality that President Bush has been reluctant to discuss: Peace is not at hand.

A confident Bush stood in the Rose Garden less than a month ago, saying, "Conditions in most of Iraq are growing more peaceful," boasting of "dismantling the al Qaeda operation" and pronouncing "pretty good progress" toward Middle East peace and a Palestinian state within two years.

Those sunny characterizations may yet prove true, but Bush allies and foes alike are coming to the conclusion that the progress may not be noticeable by the time Bush faces the voters again in 15 months. For a president who has staked his reputation on making "a tough decision to make the world more peaceful," this could be a big problem. [ complete article ]

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The Sunni insurgency in Iraq
By Ahmed S. Hashim, Middle East Institute, August 14, 2003

This paper addresses the insurgency that broke out after the official end of hostilities. Specifically, it attempts to do four things. First, it will seek to ascertain the nature of the violence that took place in Iraq after the end of hostilities: is it insurgency, guerilla warfare, or terrorism? Terminology is important. Second, the paper will address the origins, goals, and operational art of the insurgency. Third, it will look at prospects for the insurgency: will it remain decentralized and low-level, characterized by harassing attacks, or transform itself into a national liberation struggle? Fourth, this paper addresses the U.S. response to the insurgency and makes recommendations about how to respond effectively and what it might be done to prevent a full-fledged war of national resistance.

The Power of Terminology: Insurgency, Guerrillas, Terrorists, Partisans?

The term one chooses to define or characterize the ongoing violence in Iraq matters for many reasons; my concern is the power of terminology.

First, the term one chooses to refer to something such as the ongoing violence in Iraq betrays one's political biases and stance. The Administration's views are politicized, in that to admit that there is resistance by Iraqis beyond regime supporters is to admit that a wide range of Iraqis are fighting occupation. This is not something that Administration officials wish to hear, given the constant refrain that one of the key goals of the war was the liberation of the Iraqis from an evil dictatorship.

Second, terminology matters because the term one chooses may determine the solution to a problem. If Administration officials continue to believe that the cause of the ongoing violence is solely the former regime, we will fall prey to focusing exclusively on groups or individuals associated with the defunct regime. By rooting them out the violence will cease, so goes the logic. That might not be the case, but it explains why the deaths of 'Uday and Qusay in July were greeted with euphoria by the Administration and why U.S. forces are relentless in their pursuit of the former Iraqi leader, Saddam.

Third, terminology also matters because if we characterize it incorrectly, we will devise and implement the wrong methods to deal with it. The views of U.S. senior officers who have characterized the insurgency as "classical guerilla warfare" – a position which is at the opposite end of the spectrum from those of senior administration officials -- are overly pessimistic and even more importantly, possibly erroneous in a number of ways as will be discussed below. [ complete paper ]

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Killing of Hamas leader ends truce
By Chris McGreal, The Guardian, August 22, 2003

Five Israeli missiles incinerated Ismail Abu Shanab in Gaza city yesterday, killing one of the most powerful voices for peace in Hamas and destroying the ceasefire that Palestinian leaders believed would avert civil war.

Israeli helicopters struck the car carrying the third highest Hamas leader in retaliation for Tuesday's suicide bombing of a Jerusalem a bus on Tuesday, killing 20 mostly orthodox Jews, including six children.

But the missiles also buried a seven-week ceasefire already strained by Israeli killings of Islamic militants and retaliatory suicide bombings, and threw the US-led road map to peace deeper into crisis. [ complete article ]

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Abu Mazen cannot commit suicide
By Danny Rubinstein, Haaretz, August 22, 2003

Not even the bloody suicide bombing in Jerusalem will bring Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) to relentlessly pursue the activists of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. He and his ministers in the Palestinian government will not use force to restrain the Islamic fanatics; they will not even confiscate their weapons. Abbas and his Minister of State for Security Affair Mohammed Dahlan are no doubt under great pressure from the Americans to do just that and the Israeli government is also insisting on it - but in the present reality in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, it is simply not possible. [ complete article ]

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Anger and fear mix in capital
By Pamela Constable, Washington Post, August 21, 2003

Across an edgy and horrified capital today, Iraqis from all walks of life denounced the bombing of the main U.N. facility at the Canal Hotel, expressing appreciation for the agency's humanitarian mission and contempt for the terrorists who carried out the brazen attack.

But while the world mourned Sergio Vieira de Mello, 55, the popular U.N. special representative who was crushed in the rubble, and condemned the assault on a symbol of international aid and cooperation, Iraqis' outrage was sharpened by the fact that many victims of the blast, which injured more than 100, were unarmed fellow Iraqis.

Many people in the capital said they now felt more personally vulnerable than ever before, even during three decades of repressive rule under Saddam Hussein. A surprising number said that although they were glad to be free of the ousted president, a growing sense of chaos and instability was beginning to make them long for the orderly atmosphere of his police state. [ complete article ]

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Afghan violence snares civilians
By Scott Baldauf, Christian Science Monitor, August 21, 2003

The apparent ambush on police here in Logar province is just one of a spate of attacks that have left more than 90 people - the vast majority of them Afghan civilians - dead in the past 10 days alone. From the bombing of a minibus full of women and children in Helmand Province to the nighttime assault on a border security post in Khost, these recent attacks are part of what US and Afghan officials say is a pattern of shifting attacks away from well-armed US bases and toward more vulnerable civilians, aid workers, and local officials.

Whatever the origin of these attacks, the effect is being felt across Afghanistan, as foreign aid organizations pull out foreign staffers, and Afghans lose hope that the international community will ever rebuild their country. [ complete article ]

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The occupying power can't thwart terrorist attacks. Rather than admit that the security problem demands a political solution, a scapegoat is found in the form of an impotent council. The council lacks the resources, power, or credibility that it would need to impose authority, but it serves as a good whipping boy for occupiers who refuse to admit the political weakness that is hidden behind their military strength.

U.S. official tells Iraqis to assert more authority
By Dexter Filkins and Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times, August 21, 2003

Sharp differences emerged today between the top American administrator in Iraq and the country's interim government as the United States sought to calm a city unnerved by the truck bomb that killed 20 people in the United Nations headquarters.

Iraqi officials described a tense meeting between L. Paul Bremer III and the Iraqi Governing Council. Mr. Bremer, they said, demanded that the 25-member Council exert more authority, condemn the bombing strongly and communicate better with the Iraqi people.

Mr. Bremer's office did not respond to a request for comment. But a memo prepared by two of his staff and dated today listed measures that the Iraqi Council should be encouraged to take, including calling on Iraqis to "take responsibility for their own security" by joining a newly created Iraqi civil defense force and holding "town hall meetings" in their local districts.

The confrontation clearly reflected a growing American conviction that a greater and more visible Iraqi involvement in government might allay some hostility to the American-led occupation. Iraqi officials said the Council had responded by saying it lacked authority to convince Iraqis it was effective or relevant. [ complete article ]

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International organizations tighten security, evacuate staff
By Carol J. Williams and Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times, August 21, 2003

Olive-colored U.S. Army cranes, bulldozers and dump trucks removed wreckage from the U.N. headquarters here Wednesday, and international organizations scrambled to protect their staffs from a repeat of the truck bombing that destroyed it.

Rescue workers scoured the wreckage for possible survivors. At least one more body was pulled from the tangled ruins. Atop the devastated compound, the blue-and-white U.N. flag stood at half-staff, limp in the leaden, 110-degree heat.

Officials of the U.S.-led occupation administration kept a low profile, remaining within their fortress-like headquarters at the former presidential palace. Cellular and satellite telephones were answered with recordings stating that the numbers were temporarily unavailable. [ complete article ]

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Muted feelings for 'martyr' with a grudge
By Chris McGreal, The Guardian, August 21, 2003

Praise for the mass murder [exacted in Jerusalem by Raed Mesk - who disguised himself as an ultra-orthodox Jew so he could kill 20 people, including six children] was muted even in [Hebron,] a city with a bitter history at the hands of a few hundred deeply religious and well armed Jews who have embarked on a kind of ethnic cleansing of the town centre.

The hall hired for the suicide bomber's wake, without his body, was largely empty, perhaps in part because the army had arrested 17 relatives. It was also surprisingly devoid of the Hamas flags which usually adorn such events. In terms of numbers of dead, the Jerusalem bombing was the costliest attack on a bus in the past three years of intifada.

Yet many Palestinians kept their distance. Some said they feared the slaughter would mean an end to the six-week-old ceasefire and faltering peace process, which offers the only glimmer of hope for an end to the conflict.

Others privately speculated that the Hamas leadership had not authorised the attack, and that it had been carried out unilaterally by the Hebron faction.

But whatever the Palestinians' views on the bombing, there was common agreement that the Israelis had brought the attack on themselves.

"The ceasefire means nothing to the Israelis," said Abdul al-Nsary, an uncle of the suicide bomber. "The assassinations didn't stop, the barriers and roadblocks didn't disappear, the settlers are still attacking us. If only they stopped one thing - assassinating militants - the ceasefire would be a success. But the Israelis won't give it this chance." [ complete article ]

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De Mello knew sovereignty, not security, is the issue
By Jonathan Steele, The Guardian, August 21, 2003

"My time here could come to an abrupt end," Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN's special representative to Iraq, commented just three weeks ago as I sat on a sofa in the Baghdad office which on Tuesday became his tomb. He never seriously imagined he would be an assassin's target, and his reference to an "abrupt end" was delivered with a smile.

It was a standard line in the conversations he enjoyed having with journalists whom he knew and trusted, leaving it to us to decide what was on or off the record at the risk of jeopardising his job. That trust was one element in the gamut of qualities, along with charm, brilliance, accessibility, dedication and compassion, that made him the "best public servant in the world", as one American admirer described him yesterday. For three decades de Mello had worked as a UN official at human rights trouble-spots in every continent, combining diplomatic flair and tough negotiating skills with barely concealed anger at the suffering he witnessed.

In Iraq, the point that dominated his thinking was that Iraqis had to recover their independence. The primary issue was not security, but sovereignty. Only if Iraqis began to feel the occupation of their country was coming to an speedy end would there be a reduction in the sense of humiliation which helped to sustain the resistance. [ complete article ]

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Repeat: Iraq is not a modern-day Germany
By R.S. Zaharna, Christian Science Monitor, August 21, 2003

When Iraq invaded and occupied Kuwait in 1990, the US put together an international coalition to end the occupation. Now, the Iraqis find themselves under occupation by the US as it tries to forge an international contingent to sustain its own occupation. And, unlike the Japanese and Germans, who had declared war on the US, the Iraqi people may be wondering what they did to forfeit their national sovereignty. They were neither defeated nor victorious. And why, they ask, with more than 5,000 years of history behind them as the birthplace of civilization, are they now not capable of governing themselves? [ complete article ]

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To many Arabs, the U.S. and U.N. are one entity
By Megan K. Stack, Los Angeles Times, August 21, 2003

The silence said the most: Aside from a chorus of official sympathy and condemnations, the devastation of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad drew barely a shiver on the Arab street and in the Middle Eastern media Wednesday.

In a shift made blazingly clear with the bombing, the United Nations' status has become so thoroughly degraded in the Arab world that many people here no longer draw a distinction between the international body and the United States. It has long been criticized as puny and has traditionally been mistrusted in these parts, but the U.N.'s inability to stop the war in Iraq has sowed new seeds of resentment.

"Didn't they see it coming?" Mohsen Farouk, a 36-year-old carpenter from Cairo, demanded. He decried the deaths of innocent people but insisted that nobody should be surprised. "It was just a matter of time," he said. "The U.N. is just a puppet of the U.S., and anyone who is angry with the U.S. is likely to consider the U.N. a target." [ complete article ]

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Guerillas ensuring U.S. pleas for help fall on deaf ears
By Paul McGeough, Sydney Morning Herald, August 20, 2003

The plan is working. This dramatic escalation of the guerilla war in Iraq is about isolating the United States.

Washington has been shopping for governments and aid agencies that will join what it calls "the mission" without questioning America's absolute control or nagging about a greater oversight role for the UN.

But the UN withdrew from prewar Afghanistan in the face of violence that was a pinprick by comparison with the carnage at Baghdad's Canal Hotel and despite an initial statement that the UN will be staying in Iraq, The Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, will be seriously examining a complete withdrawal. So will dozens of other aid agencies.

And governments, especially in the Arab world, will be even more reluctant to respond to United States' pleas for troops.

That is the resistance's message to the world - keep out.

If it has to deal with an occupation force, the Iraqi fighters do not want a diffuse identity - just Washington, thank you. [ complete article ]

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U.S. options: more troops or more help
By Howard LaFranchi, Christian Science Monitor, August 21, 2003

The deteriorating sense of order in Iraq presents the United States with two possibilities it had hoped to avoid: increasing the number of US forces there, or taking steps to internationalize security forces on the ground.

For the Bush administration, dipping deeper into the military reserves may be politically unpalatable - and may not yield, in any case, the kind of personnel a postwar reconstruction requires. At the same time, the resistance of countries to have their troops operate under US auspices means Washington would have to accept some international controls to get more foreign participation - something that is anathema to the Pentagon in particular. [ complete article ]

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Who wants to go to Iraq now?
By Robert Fisk, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 20, 2003

What United Nations nation would ever contemplate sending peacekeeping troops to Iraq now? The men who are attacking the United States' occupation army are ruthless, but they are not stupid. They know that President Bush is getting desperate, that he will do anything -- that he may even go to the dreaded Security Council for help -- to reduce U.S. military losses in Iraq.

But yesterday's attack on the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad has slammed shut the door to that escape route.

Within hours of the car bomb explosion, we were being told that this was an attack on a "soft target," a blow against the United Nations itself. True, it was a "soft" target, although the machine gun nest on the roof of the U.N. building might have suggested that even the international body was militarizing itself. True, too, it was a shattering assault on the United Nations as an institution. But in reality, yesterday's attack was against the United States. [ complete article ]

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Who is behind the violence in Iraq?
By Faleh A. Jabar, BBC News, August 14, 2003

The violence appears to be well-organised and continuous. It benefits from a general atmosphere of discontent, wounded national sensibilities, penalised marginal groups, Arab and Iranian media agitation, good funding, and the CPA's self-imposed isolation from the public and the cultural blunders it has made in dealing with local communities.

Although political and ideological violence is still detached from mainstream institutional engagement or peaceful street politics, it may well gain strength if and when hardships continue.

The war to win peace, to win the hearts and minds of Iraqis, and, above all, to help them return to normality and regain ownership of their own country, has become a decisive issue. [ complete article ]

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Iraq the ungovernable
By Paul Reynolds, BBC News, August 20, 2003

The UN has been in a difficult position in Iraq - one which, if not redefined, may become impossible.

It has been subservient to the US and UK and has not restricted itself to humanitarian operations only. If it had, there might not have been an attack.

But, using its mandate under Security Council resolution 1483, it has played an advisory role in setting up the Iraqi Governing Council, many of whose members are anti-Saddam veterans.

According to Iraq specialist Toby Dodge, Senior Research Fellow at Warwick University, UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello himself, who died in Tuesday's bomb, was "clearly associated with the formation of the Iraqi Governing Council.

"This helped to make the UN a target," he told BBC News Online.

"The attack might also have been intended to block off any American retreat using the UN. This was a potent and diabolical message - that even the UN is unacceptable." [ complete article ]

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A life devoted to the victims, the hungry and the silenced
By Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times, August 20, 2003

The killing of Sergio Vieira de Mello, the secretary-general's special representative and the U.N.'s top diplomat here, leaves a hole in the effort to help Iraqis rebuild and reconcile. His calm, evenhanded interventions in volatile hotspots won respect for the United Nations and built a legacy that colleagues insist proves he did not die in vain.

Vieira de Mello "was the U.N., in a way," said Salim Lone, his spokesman here. "Wherever there was suffering, he was there."

He was also often there for the healing. His shepherding of East Timor from bloody ethnic chaos to joyous independence last year drew praise and admiration from a wide spectrum of political, ethnic and religious leaders.

East Timor President Jose Alexandre Gusmao said his country was shocked by the death of the man he called a "courageous friend and great leader."

"Sergio Vieira de Mello endeared himself to the people of East Timor with his common touch, sensitivity, sense of humor and charisma," Gusmao said. "As a leader he fought tirelessly for democracy, human rights and sustainable justice." [ complete article ]

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How America created a terrorist haven
By Jessica Stern, New York Times, August 20, 2003

Yesterday's bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad was the latest evidence that America has taken a country that was not a terrorist threat and turned it into one.

Of course, we should be glad that the Iraq war was swifter than even its proponents had expected, and that a vicious tyrant was removed from power. But the aftermath has been another story. America has created -- not through malevolence but through negligence -- precisely the situation the Bush administration has described as a breeding ground for terrorists: a state unable to control its borders or provide for its citizens' rudimentary needs. [ complete article ]

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Blast highlights U.S. failure to end chaos in Iraq
By Robert Collier, San Francisco Chronicle, August 20, 2003

The truck bomb explosion that wrecked U.N. headquarters in Baghdad on Tuesday thrust the U.S. occupation of Iraq deeper than ever into chaos and uncertainty.

Amid the horror, many things were unclear -- the identity and aims of the group that carried out the attack, the effect on a jittery Iraqi public, the response of the world community.

What was clear was that Iraq has become a complete mess in which U.S. troops suffer casualties almost every day and the American-led civilian administration has failed to bring economic revival or even a basic sense of law and order. [ complete article ]

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U.N. was wary of role under U.S.
By Dafna Linzer, Associated Press, August 19, 2003

The United Nations went into post-war Iraq with more trepidation than usual -- there was little security, the United States had waged a war without U.N. backing and relations with Washington were at an all-time low.

The strains led the U.N. Security Council to authorize a loosely defined mission which was forced to work with the U.S.-led occupation. The cooperation and a dependence on U.S. security may have compromised U.N. neutrality, many suggested.

But Tuesday's bombing, which took the lives of at least 20 people at the U.N.'s Baghdad headquarters, may have cost the organization even more. For the first time, U.N. employees, willing to brave war and disease to help the world's needy, demanded the United Nations leave Iraq and spoke angrily about having gone there in the first place. [ complete article ]

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Staff in shock after explosion claims the life of the U.N.'s own 'action man'
By Anne Penketh, The Independent, August 20, 2003

Sergio Vieira de Mello's last telephone call was to summon rescue workers to the wreckage of his office where he lay dying after yesterday's bomb blast.

It was clear from the moment of the blast that the top UN envoy in Iraq must be seriously hurt, because the bomb exploded right outside the window of his third floor office, destroying that section of the Canal Hotel where the UN headquarters are located.

News that one of the most respected figures in the UN system was critically injured shocked thousands of international staff, who watched the tragedy unfold live on television. [ complete article ]

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Overcoming terror
By Philip Zimbardo and Bruce Kluger, Psychology Today, July 24, 2003

Log on to the Department of Homeland Security's Web site,, and click on "nuclear blast."

Thanks to the recently formed agency, ordinary citizens can now get a crash course in emergency preparedness in the event that a big bomb is dropped on their block.

Step one, says the terse tip sheet, is to "take cover." Step two: "Assess the situation." Step three? "Limit your exposure to radiation."

While the well-meaning 300-word document goes on to reveal a few other curious dos and don'ts for a doomsday scenario (e.g., ingesting potassium iodide is definitely a bad idea when radioactive iodine is coursing through the atmosphere), what's missing from the text is an acknowledgment of the psychological damage that such cursorily assembled, blithely disseminated information can wreak on the public. Presumably intended as a mental health balm in this time of unprecedented global stress, these simplistic big-blast CliffsNotes merely skate atop the frozen pond of the nuclear nightmare, ultimately leaving the befuddled citizen to wonder--and often panic--about the real and present danger that lurks just beneath the ice. [ complete article ]

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Why the U.N. is a target
By Paul Reynolds, BBC News, August 19, 2003

The attack on UN headquarters in Baghdad, in which the Special Representative Sergio Vieira de Mello died, might have been carried out not only because the Iraqi resistance objects to all occupiers.

There could have been a specific reason as well, tied to a vote in the Security Council last week.

On 14 August the Council gave its approval to the recently formed Iraqi Governing Council and it also approved the establishment of a United National Assistance Mission in Iraq (Unami).

The UN might therefore have been seen by the Iraqi resistance as an instrument of the United States and Britain in their occupation of the country. [ complete article ]

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Canadian crossroads at the invasion of Iraq
By Norman Madaraszi, Islam Online, August 19, 2003

As a committed member of the United Nations Organization, Canada opposed the unilateral decision taken by the US and England to invade Iraq. How have the terms of its lengthy relationship with the US been affected by this internationalist stance?

The information age has made the USA every country's neighbor. With foreign military bases gripping the planet like ants on a sugar cube, the US President is a ruler whose decision-making now literally has implications for most sovereign peoples.

At an earlier time, when communication was not computed in gigas and traveling was confluent with spatial distance, only a handful of countries could lay claim to literally being a neighbor of the US. Canada was one of them. In the words of Canada's former Prime Minister, the late Pierre Trudeau, this privilege was "in some ways like sleeping with an elephant." [ complete article ]

Related article Discontent Americans consider Canada.

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Bus blast in Israel deals deadly blow to truce
By Barry Moody, Reuters, August 19, 2003

A suspected Palestinian suicide bombing ripped apart a bus in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish area of Jerusalem Tuesday, killing at least 20 people including children and dealing a deadly blow to a truce.

The sides of the bus were ripped apart, and a coach nearby was also badly damaged. Severed limbs lay across the street and an acrid smell of burning hung in the air.

"There are 20 dead," Avi Zohar of the Magen David Adom ambulance service told Reuters at the scene.

Israeli media said at least 100 others were wounded in the blast. A spokesman for rescue workers said the dead included three children. [ complete article ]

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Chief U.N. envoy in Baghdad killed in blast
By Evelyn Leopold, Reuters, August 19, 2003

Sergio Vieira de Mello, 55, the top U.N. envoy in Iraq and a rising star in the United Nations leadership, was killed on Tuesday in a Baghdad bomb blast on U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, chief U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard announced.

Vieira de Mello, a Brazilian, who had frequently been mentioned as a candidate for secretary-general, had been trapped under the rubble with rescuers trying in vain to reach him.

U.N. Secretary- General Kofi Annan confirmed with "deepest regret" the death of Vieira de Mello, his special representative in Iraq, Eckhard said..

The tough, debonair Brazilian, fluent in English, French, Spanish and his native Portuguese, has handled some of the world body's most difficult missions, from Kosovo in the Balkans to East Timor in the Pacific. [ complete article ]

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U.S. shifts aim from Kabul to Baghdad
By Bryan Bender, The Age, August 19, 2003

As the hunt for Saddam Hussein grows more urgent and the guerilla war in Iraq shows little sign of abating, the Bush Administration is continuing to shift highly specialised intelligence officers from the hunt for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan to the Iraq crisis, according to intelligence officials involved.

The activity, involving both analysts in Washington and specially trained field operatives, followed the transfer of hundreds of elite commandos from Afghanistan to Iraq, Pentagon officials said. It reflected the priority of capturing Saddam quickly, ending the guerilla war, and locating possible weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

It also gives further ammunition, however, to critics who have long claimed that fighting the Iraq war would divert resources and attention from the hunt for bin Laden and other al-Qaeda fugitives. [ complete article ]

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Afghan democrats face threats
By Dan Morrison, Christian Science Monitor, August 19, 2003

During the dark years of Taliban rule, members of Afghanistan's opposition Republican Party worked underground, fearful of beatings, arrest, and execution.

Twenty-one months after a US-led coalition drove the radical Islamic movement from Afghanistan, they are still underground.

"The police threaten us all the time,'' says Faiz Mohammad Ghori, a student member the Republican Party in the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif. "We have to keep our heads down - you never know when they're coming back.''

Afghanistan's fledgling opposition parties say the Northern Alliance factions that helped oust the Taliban in 2001 are using threats and force to keep them out of elections scheduled for next year. [ complete article ]

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Iraq becomes a battleground in war on infidels
By Robin Gedye, The Telegraph, August 19, 2003

Muslim fundamentalists from throughout the Middle East are being drawn to Iraq for a protracted guerrilla war, senior military officials said yesterday after a wave of weekend sabotage attacks.

"Far from a new Vietnam, we appear to be heading for a new Afghanistan, Somalia or Chechnya as the next battleground between Islam and the infidels," said one official in Washington. [ complete article ]

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Silent witnesses reveal the growing lawlessness of Baghdad
By Harry De Quetteville, The Telegraph, August 18, 2003

At Baghdad's central mortuary, a host of silent witnesses give the lie to coalition claims that Baghdad is becoming a safer place to live.

Despite Gen Ricardo Sanchez's assertion that violence here is "no worse than in any American city", the blood-stained stretchers, coffins and bullet-torn bodies have piled up here in recent months. Some new arrivals wait outside the building in the searing sun while space is found for them in the coolers inside. [ complete article ]

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U.S. admits cameraman was shot dead at close range
By Justin Huggler, The Independent, August 19, 2003

The American army admitted yesterday that its soldiers killed an award-winning Reuters cameraman. Mazen Dana, a Palestinian, was shot dead by a US tank crew at close range while trying to film outside Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison on Sunday, after a mortar attack on the prison.

The Americans claimed that the soldiers mistook the camera Mr Dana was holding for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher - a claim that was immediately rejected by journalists who witnessed the killing.

"We were all there, for at least half an hour. They knew we were journalists," said Stephan Breitner of France 2 television. "After they shot Mazen, they aimed their guns at us. I don't think it was an accident. They are very tense. They are crazy. They are young soldiers and they don't understand what is happening." [ complete article ]

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Blast rips through UN headquarters in Baghdad
By Reuters, August 19, 2003

A car bomb explosion tore through the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad on Tuesday, destroying part of the building, and witnesses said at least three people were killed and dozens wounded. [ complete article ]

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Why the lessons of Vietnam do matter
By Pepe Escobar, Asia Times, August 20, 2003

Just as it took a few years for the Americans to lose the hearts and minds of the South Vietnamese, it took them only a few weeks to lose the hearts and minds of the majority of Iraqis - which ultimately means losing the war, whatever the strategic final result. Topographic denials - this is the Mesopotamian desert, not the Indochinese jungle - don't work, nor do denials saying that the Iraqis are not as politicized as the Vietnamese were by communism. These totally miss the point: as happened in Vietnam, what is happening now in Iraq has everything to do with patriotism and nationalism. [ complete article ]

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Israelis worry about terror, by Jews against Palestinians
By Ian Fisher, New York Times, August 19, 2003

Two and a half years ago, a 10-month-old Israeli girl, Shalhevet Pas, was shot to death in her stroller by a Palestinian sniper here in Hebron, a city where the competing claims of Jews and Palestinians to the land, holy places and the past grind together with particular pain. Last month, her father, Yitzhak Pas, a settler who lives here, was arrested with almost 10 pounds of explosives in his car.

Investigators have not publicly linked the two events, but the little they have said about Mr. Pas hints at something more than revenge against his daughter's killer. Rather, their remarks suggest, he and five others, including three arrested last week, are members of a Jewish underground group who were aiming to carry out attacks on Palestinians.

The case is so delicate that it is under a gag order, and Mr. Pas and another suspect were arrested on a secretive military warrant, rarely used against Jews though often against Palestinians suspected of carrying out terror attacks.

But at the faltering start of a peace effort opposed by many right-wing Israelis, worry about terror attacks by Jews is growing. In the last two years, a top Israeli security official said, at least 7 Palestinians have been killed and 19 wounded in unsolved shootings attributed to Israeli civilians in the West Bank. The major source of that concern, the official said recently, is dozens of "hill people" -- radical Jewish settlers in the West Bank, like some of those who live here -- who present a "very serious situation for the democracy of Israel." [ complete article ]

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Israeli pits U.S. politics against 'road map' plan
By Julia Duin, Washington Times, August 18, 2003

Israeli tourism minister Benyamin Elon has embarked on a "Bible Belt tour" to exploit evangelical Christian enthusiasm for Israel, to lure Christian tourists back to Israel and to derail President Bush's "road map" to Middle East peace.

Mr. Elon visited in Memphis, at the juncture of Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi, as his first stop.

Some evangelical Christian leaders say the "road map," which they argue puts Israel at a disadvantage in the Middle East, must go if the president retains his Christian base in next year's presidential elections.

"We either have to oppose the road map or oppose the Bible," says Mike Evans, founder of the Jerusalem Prayer Team, a coalition of 1,700 churches. "Evangelicals have no debate on this issue." [ complete article ]

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Israeli law targets 'mixed' families
By Joshua Mitnick, Washington Times, August 18, 2003

More than 20,000 Arab families face the agonizing choice of breaking up or leaving Israel after passage of a law banning Palestinian spouses of Israelis from obtaining citizenship or residence permits.

The amendment to the national citizenship law, passed two weeks ago, mainly affects Palestinians who have married Arab Israelis and joined them in Israel without obtaining the proper papers from Israel's Interior Ministry, often for years or even decades.

Salwa Abu Jaber, an Israeli Arab mother of four, said she lies awake at night waiting for police to come for her husband, Mahmoud, whom she married more than 10 years ago. [ complete article ]

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Judy Miller's war
By Alexander Cockburn, Counterpunch, August 18, 2003

Lay all Judith Miller's New York Times stories end to end, from late 2001 to June 2003 and you get a desolate picture of a reporter with an agenda, both manipulating and being manipulated by US government officials, Iraqi exiles and defectors, an entire Noah's Ark of scam-artists.

And while Miller, either under her own single by-line or with NYT colleagues, was touting the bioterror threat, her book Germs, co-authored with Times-men Steven Engelberg and William Broad was in the bookstores and climbing the best seller lists. The same day that Miller opened an envelope of white powder (which turned out to be harmless) at her desk at the New York Times, her book was #6 on the New York Times best seller list. The following week (October 21, 2001), it reached #2. By October 28, --at the height of her scare-mongering campaign--it was up to #1. If we were cynical...

We don't have full 20/20 hindsight yet, but we do know for certain that all the sensational disclosures in Miller's major stories between late 2001 and early summer, 2003, promoted disingenuous lies. There were no secret biolabs under Saddam's palaces; no nuclear factories across Iraq secretly working at full tilt. A huge percentage of what Miller wrote was garbage, garbage that powered the Bush administration's propaganda drive towards invasion.

What does that make Miller? She was a witting cheer-leader for war. She knew what she was doing. [ complete article ]

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Ten policemen killed in worsening Afghan violence
By Sayed Salahuddin, Reuters, August 19, 2003

Taliban guerrillas have killed 10 policemen, including a provincial police chief, taking the death toll to more than 90 in one of Afghanistan's bloodiest weeks since U.S.-led forces overthrew their strict Islamic regime in 2001.

Abdul Khaliq, police chief of Logar province, and several other senior police officers from the province south of Kabul were among those killed in an ambush on Monday, Logar's military commander Fazlullah Mojadidi told Reuters.

He said the police chief had been returning from a funeral for two family members of a police officer who were killed in a rocket attack blamed on the Taliban.

"They were in their cars when the incident happened," Mojadidi said. "There is no doubt that the Taliban were behind it." [ complete article ]

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Hambali: The driven man
By Baradan Kuppusamy, Asia Times, August 19, 2003

Last week's capture of Hambali, 38, who real name is Riduan Issamuddin, has in effect ended the career of a successful and dedicated Islamic militant who was fired by zeal at the age of 20 to leave his Indonesian village and go off to defeat the "enemies of Islam".

He never returned.

When arrested in Thailand, Hambali, who hails from the village of Sukamanah in Cianjur, West Java, was the most wanted terrorist suspect in Southeast Asia. Intelligence agencies and police from Indonesia, Malaysia and the United States, as well as testimony by those arrested for the October 12 bombings in Bali, put Hambali as the mastermind of those blasts and the one who handled US$36,000 to finance the operation.

Captured operatives have called him the operational head of the Jemaah Islamiya group, which seeks to create a pan-Islamic state in the region, and the Southeast Asian leader of the al-Qaeda network. [ complete article ]

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Baghdad on the Hudson
By Michael R. Gordon, New York Times, August 15, 2003

Imagine that the blackout that struck the United States on Thursday was a daily phenomenon. And imagine that the New York City police force was only a third its authorized strength, that criminals walked the streets and that gun battles could be heard at night.

The power disruptions that Americans have endured in the Northeast the last couple of days provide a taste of the new and very unsettling experience that many Iraqis have endured for months now. And it is an enormous problem for the American-led coalition.

If ending the threat of weapons of mass destruction was the Bush administration's sole reason for intervening, it could proclaim its job done and turn over the administration of Iraq to the United Nations.

But the administration also wants to establish a pro-American government in Baghdad and reshape the political contours in the region. Winning the support of the Iraqis is thus not a secondary objective. It is a part of the core mission. [ complete article ]

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Iraq’s SCIRI, caught between Tehran and Washington
By Mahan Abedin, The Daily Star, August 19, 2003

One of the more encouraging features of the occupation of Iraq has been Washington’s desire to co-opt the country’s Shiites into the post-Baathist polity in a way that reflects their majority status. This has led the US to deal with the most well-organized Shiite force in the country: the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI).

However, this uneasy alliance has been beset with problems from the start. The raiding of numerous SCIRI offices and safe houses after the fall of Baghdad came amid a general harassment of SCIRI cadres and sympathizers, particularly members of its armed wing, the Badr Corps. Yet there are also strong indications SCIRI will prove to be a reliable partner for the US as it seeks to forge some kind of representative government in Iraq. [ complete article ]

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The e-mails, the rewritten dossier and how Blair made his case for war
By Kim Sengupta and Nigel Morris, The Independent, August 19, 2003

The extent to which Downing Street sought to convince a doubting British public of the need to go to war in Iraq was exposed before the Hutton inquiry yesterday.

Hitherto unpublished official papers disclosed at the inquiry showed grave doubts at the highest level of government about its own case for supporting the invasion of Iraq.

Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair's chief of staff, admitted a week before the publication of the Iraq weapons dossier that it did "nothing to demonstrate a threat, let alone an imminent threat from Saddam", the inquiry was told yesterday. [ complete article ]

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Baghdad welcome going sour for U.S. soldiers
By Andrew Cawthorne, Reuters, August 18, 2003

When U.S. soldiers first rolled into Baghdad and overthrew Saddam Hussein, Iraqis embraced them but as civilian deaths mount they have become widely shunned and feared.

Rather than hailing occupying troops as liberators, many of Baghdad's five million residents sullenly cross streets with their heads down at the sight of a U.S. soldier or tank.

"We are full of fear, bad fear. They were in my area for one month and I did not have any contact with them. They see us, we see them, nothing more," businessman Ammar Abbas said.

"We cannot live here together, us and the American forces. They should go now." [ complete article ]

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Delays, politics, underfunding stymie struggle against nuclear, other doomsday arms
By Charles J. Hanley, Associated Press (via San Francisco Chronicle), August 16, 2003

The global machinery for confronting the threat of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons -- the machinery of treaties and sanctions, inspectors and detectors -- is sputtering and stalling, just as the dangers seem more real by the day.

In Vienna, a U.N. agency struggles through its 19th year with a frozen budget as it works to keep nuclear bombs from spreading worldwide. In a neighboring glass tower beside the Danube, experts hired to detect secret nuclear tests close up shop over weekends. Their treaty is on hold.

Plans to burn thousands of tons of fearsome chemical weapons, in the United States and Russia, have quietly slipped years into the future. The U.N. chemical inspector corps, meanwhile, is understaffed and politically handcuffed.

As for biological arms, negotiators recently labored for seven years on an enforcement regime -- inspectors -- for the 1975 treaty banning germ weapons. But the United States has now shut down those talks. [ complete article ]

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U.S. says it doesn't know how many detainees in Cuba
Reuters, August 12, 2003

The US government said today it had neither an exact count nor all the names of hundreds of people captured in Afghanistan over a year ago and now detained at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

US government lawyers made the disclosure during a court hearing in a case on behalf of Falen Gherebi, a Libyan national believed to be in US custody in Cuba.

In May, a US District Court said it did not have the authority to consider whether Gherebi was being held lawfully and remanded the matter to an appeals court.

At the appeals court hearing on Monday, the planned debate over the government's right to hold Gherebi dissolved into a more basic discussion over whether the US government even had kept complete records on the people being held. [ complete article ]

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The power beyond their grasp
By Vivienne Walt, Washington Post, August 17, 2003

Ali Hassan shook his head in dismay at the current state of his life. "Twenty-three years I worked in the Ministry of Justice," he said. "I was an accountant in the ministry's auditing department. Now where am I?

"Two weeks ago I sold our refrigerator and television just to get some money. I have four children at home," said the small, gray-haired man, standing among 300 or so demonstrators outside Baghdad's new Union of Unemployed Iraqis. "I'm happy Saddam is gone -- but I need a job."

And to whom did he and the other demonstrators turn? Chanting their demands for work, they marched toward Saddam Hussein's old Republican Palace, headquarters of the Coalition Provisional Authority -- the almost all-American body, headed by L. Paul Bremer III, that runs Iraq. When I asked one of the organizers why they didn't go to their own leaders in the Iraqi Governing Council, he looked blank. "We don't know where they are," he said.

That's no surprise. One month after the council's 25 members were handpicked by Bremer's office, its members work in a largely empty office building, surrounded by American military cordons and coils of barbed wire. They carry American-issued MCI cell phones, with an American area code (914). [ complete article ]

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Suicide bombers can be stopped
By Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek, August 25, 2003

Scholars who have studied the phenomenon tend to look at the personal profiles of suicide bombers for some sign of a pattern. Generally, they are Muslim (with the exception of the Sri Lankan rebels), young, single, and have some religious education. They are usually not newcomers to their political cause, or to terror tactics. All this is interesting, but why do some choose this path and not others? After all, there are tens of millions of young, single Muslims and only a few hundred suicide bombers, who are found in a few specific places. In searching for better answers, I have been struck by two phenomena -- the rise of suicide bombings in Russia, and their decline in Turkey. [ complete article ]

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Raiders of the night find the pickings are slim
By Paul McGeough, Sydney Morning Herald, August 18, 2003

Chomping on a fat cigar during a late night interview, Lieutenant-Colonel Bill Rabena declares [Aadamiyah, the southern tip of what the Americans have dubbed the Sunni-triangle] to be Baghdad's Gotham City. He talks of the nightly raids on Iraqi homes as "precision surgery" that, in his view, has reduced the Iraqi resistance to a dying effort. [...]

A few nights later their target is a former senior Baath party official. He is not at home, but while the women and young men of the house are detained on the rooftop and patted down for concealed weapons, even in their hair, the house is ransacked for documents and weapons.

And, it seems, money. The Herald photographer Jason South watches as one of the US soldiers pockets a small wad of US cash from a handbag he comes across as he goes through the contents of a wardrobe in a ground-floor room.

A week later, as Colonel Rabena's men mount up, one of them declares to his mates, all of them incongruously sucking on a ChupaChup lollipop: "I hope I get to kill an Iraqi tonight." [ complete article ]

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Killed Reuters cameraman grew up in conflict
Reuters, August 17, 2003

Most foreign journalists in Iraq can dream of the safety of home when things get tough, but for Mazen Dana, a Palestinian cameraman for Reuters killed in Baghdad on Sunday, home itself had proved dangerous enough.

Dana, killed by a bullet on the outskirts of Baghdad, spent most of his decade with Reuters working in his strife-torn home town of Hebron on the West Bank, where he was shot at and beaten numerous times. [ complete article ]

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Sabotage threatens Iraq's economy
By Justin Huggler, The Independent, August 18, 2003

Sabotage left two fires burning out of control on the main pipeline exporting Iraqi oil to Turkey yesterday and the main pipe supplying water to Baghdad was bombed, flooding a motorway and leaving the city of five million without water. And, last night, a Reuters cameraman was shot dead while filming outside Iraq's main prison, which had earlier come under mortar attack.

The American-led occupation is going badly wrong before our eyes. Already US soldiers are dying daily in attacks and there is anarchy on the streets. As of yesterday, the Americans appeared to be facing an all-out assault on another front - on their efforts to rebuild the infrastructure of Iraq. [ complete article ]

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With friends like these...
By Peter Kilfoyle, The Guardian, August 18, 2003

Diplomatically, the gains of many decades have been frittered away by our blind obedience to the American administration's wars. Huge numbers of people view the British prime minister as Bush's poodle, and see Britain as no more than the errand boy for the American neo-conservatives. What price British influence in the world if Albion has no influence with its American godfather? [ complete article ]

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Saudi Arabia to question '12,000 citizens'
By Brian Whitaker, The Guardian, August 15, 2003

Saudi Arabian authorities have embarked on a vast anti-terrorism operation in which up to 12,000 citizens will be questioned at the behest of the US, a Saudi opposition group has told the Guardian.

"The Saudi government is doing a full-scale sweeping activity," said Saad al-Fagih, of the London-based Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia.

"This is causing occasional confrontations with members [of militant groups] who have taken a decision not to surrender themselves."

Several sources in the kingdom had told him of a "substantial list", provided by the US, naming Saudi citizens to be questioned or arrested, he said. [ complete article ]

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Afghan insurgents fight police; 22 killed
By Todd Pitman, Associated Press, August 17, 2003

Insurgents attacked a police headquarters in southeastern Afghanistan, sparking a battle Sunday that killed at least 15 fighters and seven Afghan police, a police chief said. It was part of a disturbing new surge of violence in the country.

The siege began shortly before midnight Saturday when about 400 guerrillas attacked the police headquarters in the town of Barmal in Paktika province, about 125 miles southeast of Kabul, said provincial governor Mohammed Ali Jalali.

The fighters, firing rockets, grenades and heavy machine guns, took over the office and held it until 5 a.m. Sunday before destroying the building and retreating amid a gunbattle with police, said police chief Daulat Khan.

The attack was the latest in a wave of violence that has underscored just how unstable Afghanistan still is after the Taliban were toppled in late 2001. Sixty-four people were killed in various attacks last Wednesday, believed to be the single deadliest day in the country since the Taliban's ouster. [ complete article ]

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Tips, traced call led to capture of Al Qaeda suspect
By Ellen Nakashima and Alan Sipress, Washington Post, August 16, 2003

Hambali, the top strategist for al Qaeda in Southeast Asia and the region's most wanted fugitive, was done in by suspicious neighbors and a telephone trace, regional security officials said today.

Around 11 p.m. Monday, about a dozen undercover Thai agents burst into Apartment 601 at a building in a city north of Bangkok, surprising the slumbering Indonesian cleric and his wife, security officials said. Hambali had a handgun, but did not have time to shoot, they said.

Aided by the CIA, authorities found him in Ayutthaya, a city about 45 miles north of the Thai capital, by tracking one of his phone calls while he was there. They were also tipped off by Muslim Thais in the community, who were wary of the foreigner who attended the local mosque and Internet cafe, but did not speak Thai. [ complete article ]

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Arms and the man
By Peter Landesman, New York Times, August 17, 2003

Profile of Victor Bout, by most accounts the world's largest arms trafficker
-- C.I.A. and MI6 agents on the ground in Africa first picked up Bout's scent in the early 1990's, when his fleet of planes began crisscrossing the continent. In the early days, they transported gladiolas; later, frozen chickens and then diamonds, mining equipment, Kalashnikov assault rifles, bullets, helicopter gunships and even, Bout says, U.N. peacekeepers, French soldiers and African heads of state. The names of the men Bout came to count as his personal friends and customers included Massoud, Mobutu, Savimbi, Taylor, Bemba. It was not until the summer of 2000 that the N.S.C. realized it had stumbled on not only the most prolific arms trafficking operation in Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan but probably the best connected (and protected) private-weapons transport and brokering network in the world.

Smith and others took their information to Richard C. Clarke, then the chief of counterterrorism for the N.S.C. ''Get me a warrant,'' Clarke responded.

But because Bout's reputed crimes were committed outside United States borders, the N.S.C. had no U.S. law to use on him. Instead, the N.S.C. initiated an operation that drew on the resources of intelligence agencies in at least seven countries and sparked cabinet-level diplomacy on four continents. Belgium issued its own warrant for Bout's arrest a year later -- not for arms trafficking but for crimes related to money laundering and diamond smuggling. In the end, the pursuit failed. Victor Bout is still at large, a fugitive from international justice. But unlike Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, he lives in plain sight -- in Moscow, under the apparent protection of a post-Communist system that has profited from his activities as much as he has. [ complete article ]

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Iraqi clerics unite in rare alliance
By Anthony Shadid, Washington Post, August 17, 2003

A popular Sunni Muslim cleric has provided grass-roots and financial support to a leading anti-American Shiite cleric, a rare example of cooperation across Iraq's sectarian divide that has alarmed U.S. officials for its potential to bolster festering resistance to the American occupation, senior U.S. and Iraqi officials say.

The ties mark one of the first signs of coordination between anti-occupation elements of the Sunni minority, the traditional rulers of the country, and its Shiite majority, seen by U.S. officials as the key to stability in postwar Iraq.

The extent of the cooperation remains unclear between Ahmed Kubeisi, a Sunni cleric from a prominent clan in western Iraq, and Moqtada Sadr, the 30-year-old son of a revered Shiite ayatollah assassinated in 1999. But ideologically and practically, it represents a convergence of interests between the two figures, who were left out of the Iraqi Governing Council named last month and, in their own communities, have emerged as influential if still minority voices of opposition to the four-month-old occupation. [ complete article ]

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Disruption in Iraq amid sabotage fears
By BBC News, August 17, 2003

Repairs to a key oil pipeline in northern Iraq could take up to a month following a suspected sabotage attack just three days after it reopened.

A fire engulfed a section of the pipeline at Baiji, north of Tikrit - hometown of ousted President Saddam Hussein - on Friday and burned for 24 hours.

The US governor of Iraq, Paul Bremer, says the closure of the pipeline will lose the country $7m a day in badly needed revenue for post-war reconstruction.

Meanwhile, a major water pipe in Baghdad has been holed amid reports of sabotage - cutting off supplies to areas in the north and flooding surrounding streets. [ complete article ]

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Iraq's Shiites impatient with U.S.
By Agence France Presse, August 17, 2003

"America does not want to acknowledge it is incapable of controlling the situation and rebuilding Iraq," said Akram al-Zubeidi, spokesman for Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, one of the top four Shiite clerics in the holy city of Najaf, 160 kilometres (100 miles) south of the capital.

"Every day, we receive dozens of complaints from Iraqis asking us to declare a fatwa against the Americans and we say no. But this 'no' will not last forever," he said, quoting the grand ayatollah. [ complete article ]

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Iran praises U.S. move against dissidents
By Associated Press (via The Guardian), August 16, 2003

Iran conferred rare praise on the United States on Saturday when its foreign minister said the State Department's closure of the offices of Iranian dissidents was a ``positive'' act.

Secretary of State Colin Powell on Friday shut down the Washington offices of the National Council of Resistance of Iran and the Mujahedeen Khalq. The council claims to be an umbrella organization for dissident groups, including the Mujahedeen Khalq, but U.S. government officials say the two are virtually interchangeable.

Mujahedeen Khalq is on the State Department's list of terrorist groups, but the United States allowed the council to operate on their territories with little interference. Following Powell's order, the U.S. Treasury froze the council's nearly $100,000 worth of financial assets in the United States. [ complete article ]

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