Monday, October 24, 2005

Reporting from outside the US mainstream media focused on Iraq

Nowadays in post-invasion Iraq, everybody is on somebody's hit-list. Different political groups have emerged with contradictory interests and views, and some are resorting to violence against rivals.
Iraqi political analyst Liqa Makki said the hit-list phenomenon has in the past afflicted many countries, but Iraq's case is much too complex.
"The most confusing thing about them is the diversity of targets. It is painful to say it, but we have to acknowledge that those who carry out those assassinations have managed to make every Iraqi think that he or she is a potential target somehow," he said.

The above is from Ahmed Janabi's "Everyone is a target in Iraq" (Aljazeera) and Lynda e-mailed to note it.

Polly e-mails to note "Judge warns of Iraq 'black hole'" (BBC):

France's top anti-terrorist judge has warned that Iraq is a black hole which has helped to radicalise some young Muslims and drawn them into violence.
In an interview with the BBC, Jean-Louis Bruguiere says some Muslims are receiving training in Iraq before returning to Europe to carry out jihad.
He also warns that the terror threat facing Europe remains very high.
Combating Islamist terrorist cells is becoming harder as they are fragmenting in unpredictable ways, he says.
New weapons
Judge Bruguiere is one of Europe's most experienced anti-terrorism investigators, who has specialised in tracking Islamist groups since the 1980s.
In his interview with the Today programme, he says he is pessimistic about the immediate future - saying the terror threat in Europe and the rest of the world remains very high.

Olive e-mails to note "US confirms four contractors killed in Iraq" (Reuters via Australia's ABC):

A military spokesman said the attack occurred on September 20 when insurgents fired rifles and rocket-propelled grenades at a convoy guarded by US troops after it made a wrong turn in Duluiya, near Balad north of Baghdad.
"Task Force Liberty soldiers responded to assist the convoy, administered first aid to two wounded contractors and evacuated the remains of four contractors killed in the attack," the spokesman said in a statement.
No reason was given why the military had not released information on the attack earlier.
Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper gave an account of the incident which recalled the slaying of four contractors killed by a crowd in Fallujah in March 2004, an incident which provoked the first of two major US offensives last year against rebels in the city west of Baghdad.
The Telegraph, quoting a US officer in the area who had spoken to soldiers involved, said the victims were American employees of Halliburton unit Kellog, Brown & Root, the biggest US military contractor in Iraq.
At least two of the men were dragged alive from their vehicle, which had been badly shot up, and forced to kneel in the road before being killed, it said.
"Killing one of the men with a rifle round fired into the back of his head, they doused the other with petrol and set him alight," the newspaper report said.

Billy e-mail to note Emad Mekay "IRAQ:Two Years Later, U.S. Still Can't Keep the Lights On" (IPS):

The reconstruction of Iraq is failing rapidly despite repeated claims of progress by the George W. Bush administration, according to a number of U.S. officials and reports released here this week. Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman issued a report that found reconstruction efforts in the occupied Arab country have consistently fallen short of the objectives set by the administration two years ago.
This view was echoed by Stuart W. Bowen Jr., special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, in a congressional hearing Thursday. Bowen, whose office issued several reports and audits in the past about Iraq, said that the security situation is sapping money and energy out of the reconstruction effort and that much less money than originally envisioned will be spent on Iraqi projects.
According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a congressional watchdog agency, about 30 billion dollars was authorised through August 2005 to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure and train and equip its security forces. But Bowen said Washington will have to be more realistic about what can actually be spent of that amount.
"We are going to provide something less than that," Bowen said pointing to a significant gap between the original plans and what is being achieved on the ground in Iraq. The GAO itself says that only 13 billion dollars of the 30 billion dollars were actually disbursed so far.
"The existence of this gap may subject the U.S. to criticism for not fulfilling what was perceived as a promised number of projects," Bowen said.
The Waxman report assesses reconstruction work in three key sectors of the Iraqi economy -- oil, electricity and water. It found that the administration's actual results on the ground are far less than what is publicised. "Oil production remains below pre-war levels, electricity production is unreliable and well below the goal of 6,000 megawatts of peak electricity output, and a third of Iraqis still lack access to potable water," says the report. "Billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent, but there is little to show for the expenditures in Iraq."

Kyle e-mails to note "Ideology Governed Post-war Iraq Policy: US Diplomat" (Islam Online):

A veteran US diplomat who served as a government adviser in Iraq has said that the US policy in the Arab country at the initial stage of the occupation was driven by neoconservative ideology rather than careful preparation and clear understanding of issues.
"What one needs to understand is that these decisions were ideologically based," said Ambassador Robin Raphel, who has been with the foreign service since 1977 and once served as assistant secretary of state.
The unusually candid remarks were made in a July 2004 interview for a relatively obscure history program at the US Institute of Peace, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP) Saturday, October 22.
The interview has remained unnoticed until now, when increasing numbers of Americans began to question the Bush administration's involvement in Iraq.
Raphel, who served as a trade adviser to the Iraqi government from April to August 2003, took particular issue with decisions by then administrator Paul Bremer to launch debaathification of the country and disband the Iraqi military.
"They were not based on an analytical, historical understanding. They were based on ideology. You don't counter ideology with logic or experience or analysis very effectively," she said.
"The ideology was what has come to be called neoconservatism and the whole belief that this would be an easy war, that we would be welcomed with open arms."

Gareth e-mails to note Patrick Cockburn's "Death toll of US troops in Iraq approaches 2,000" (The Independent):

The number of American soldiers killed in Iraq was climbing inexorably towards 2,000 yesterday, with the announcement of the 1,996th casualty since the invasion in 2003. US forces suffered 15,220 wounded over the same period.
Many of the 7,159 soldiers too seriously wounded to return to duty have injuries that would have killed them in previous conflicts.
The significance of the milestone is that it comes at a time when support in the US for military action in Iraq is dwindling. There is no sign of insurgent activity diminishing, with 23 US military personnel killed in the past week, mostly by roadside bombs.
The most severe fighting is confined to Sunni provinces, with 23 per cent of the Americans having been killed in Anbar province and 22 per cent in Baghdad. 28 per cent died as a result of bomb attacks, and 24 per cent through gunfire.
Confidence in the US and Britain that soldiers are dying to protect the great majority of Iraqis from a minority of insurgents will be damaged by a leaked Ministry of Defence poll. It shows 45 per cent of Iraqis think attacks on occupying troops are justified.
The poll, commissioned by senior British military officers and published by The Sunday Telegraph, reveals a very high level of hostility towards the occupation. It is striking that resistance is common to Shia and Sunni communities.

Pru e-mails to note an interview with Medea Benjamin, "Peace conference gets global backing" (Socialist Worker):

Anti-war campaigners from around the world are coming together to discuss their opposition to the current occupation of Iraq. Delegates from the US, Britain and Iraq will come together in solidarity.
The Stop the War Coalition are calling on peace campaigners, trade unionists, progressive activists, community organisations and political parties to send delegates to the International Peace Conference on 10 December.
One of the activists attending from the US will be Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of Code Pink: Women for Peace, a women's group that has been organising creative actions against the occupation of Iraq.
"There has to be much more coordination between anti-war campaigners in Britain and the US," she told Socialist Worker.
"Both movements have been through very difficult times. The leaders of both our countries have been returned with a new mandate -- which they have chosen to interpret as a vote of confidence for the Iraq war.
"It is very important to be part of a global organisation and to return to the level of coordination that made the global demonstrations of 15 February 2003 possible.
"We now have the opportunity to get the troops out of Iraq. Public opinion is on our side. Even the architects of this war are now divided about how to proceed. We can be effective -- but we have to move now.
"In June of this year the US polls shifted, with over 50 percent saying they thought the war was a mistake. And in September, for the first time, the majority said that they want the troops out of Iraq sooner rather than later -- even if Iraq is not stable. That's a massive shift.
"Some people might be fooled by the arguments surrounding the constitution, thinking that people coming out to vote means that we have brought democracy to Iraq.
"But even if they do believe that, their conclusion has to be the same as ours -- that it is time to get the troops out of Iraq."
For details of how to sign up for the Peace Conference go to
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