Democracy for Iraq?…Don’t believe it for a minute!


Richard Moore

    Troops Fire on Crowd in Mosul-many dead and injured 
    U.S. Kills 12, Injures 100 as They Fire on Protestors
    Protests flare ahead of Iraq talks

To: "mer" <•••@••.•••>
From: "MER NewsFlash!" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Troops Fire on Crowd in Mosul-many dead and injured
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2003 22:24:32 -0400

MID-EAST REALITIES - MER - www.MiddleEast.Org -
Washington - 4/15/2003:    General Jay Garner is now in
charge in Iraq -- known for his close ties with the
Israelis.  He reports to General Tommy Franks --
himself in charge of the whole Middle East region and
constantly flying from one US base to another in nearly
every country in the region except Syria and Lebanon. 
Franks reports to the Pentagon of course, where no less
than the American Secretary of Defense is in charge of
approving requested expenditures from the now $2
billion plus slush fund allocated to 'rebuilding' Iraq
-- and we all know who are the main advisers to Donald
Rumsfeld....Wolfowitz, Feith, Perle, et. al.   And of
course the new Commander-in-Chief in Iraq is then
President George W. Bush, current occupant of the White
House, whose closest foreign friend and most frequent
foreign White House guest so far, is none other than
General Ariel Sharon, current Prime Minister of Israel.

Oh yes, let's also mention the new de facto High
Commission of Iraq and Afghanistan, Zalmay
Khalilzad...long-time U.S. National Security Council

So there you have it...the modern-day occupation of the
Iraq, a key country in the heart of the Arab world and
Islam.   Forget all the rhetorical swashbuckling about
'the Iraqi people' and 'democracy'.  The democracy the
Americans have in mind for Iraq will be akin to what
they have brought to the Palestinians -- CIA at the
top, agents throughout, quisling officials in the news
flying around to this and that meeting to get their
marching orders and payoff-bank accounts.

On the very day the American army brought invited and
approved Iraqis to a desert tent in a first step to set
up the occupation government (remember Vichy France
anyone), US Troops had to put down protests in
Nassiriya and perpetrated a massacre in Mosul.  And
this what we know about so far....
    U.S. Kills 12, Injures 100 as They Fire on Protestors
  At least 10 dead as US troops in firefight in northern Iraq

MOSUL, Iraq (AFP - 4-15-03 - 11:30pm)    At least 12
people were killed and scores wounded in the northern
Iraqi city of Mosul when US troops fired on a crowd
angered by a speech by the new US-backed governor,
witnesses reported.

The charges were denied by a US military spokesman in
the city Tuesday, who said troops had first come under
fire from at least two gunmen and fired back, without
aiming at the crowd.

But the incident overshadowed the start of US-brokered
talks aimed at sketching out the country's future
leadership in the southern city of Nasiriyah, a Shiite
Muslim bastion where 20,000 people marched through the
city chanting "No to America, No to Saddam."

The firefight in Mosul broke out as the newly-appointed
governor of the city was making a speech from the
building housing his offices which listeners deemed was
too pro-US, witnesses said.

"There were protesters outside, 100 to 150, there was
fire, we returned fire," a US military spokesman said,
adding the initial shots came from a roof opposite the
building, about 75 metres (yards) away.

"We didn't fire at the crowd, but at the top of the
building," the spokesman added. "There were at least
two gunmen, I don't know if they were killed."

"The firing was not intensive but sporadic, and lasted
up to two minutes," the spokesman said.

But witnesses charged that US troops fired into the
crowd after it became increasingly hostile towards the
new governor, Mashaan al-Juburi.

"They (the soldiers) climbed on top of the building and
first fired at a building near the crowd, with the
glass falling on the civilians. People started to throw
stones, then the Americans fired at them," said Ayad
Hassun, 37.

"Dozens of people fell," he said, his own shirt stained
with blood.

"The people moved toward the government building, the
children threw stones, the Americans started firing,"
another witness, Marwan Mohammed, 50, told AFP.

According to a third witness, Abdulrahman Ali, 49, the
US soldiers opened fire when they saw the crowd running
at the government building.

An AFP journalist saw a wrecked car in the square and
ambulances ferrying wounded people to hospital, while a
US aircraft flew over the northern city at low

A doctor at the city hospital, Ayad al-Ramadhani said:
"There are perhaps 100 wounded and 10 to 12 dead."

The process of finding a new Iraqi leadership after the
fall of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein got underway in
Nasiriyah, the first meeting of opposition groups since
the launch of the war on March 20, with US officials
expected to discuss the process of forming an interim

But the man tipped to become Iraq's next leader, Ahmad
Chalabi, head of the US-backed Iraqi National Congress,
was not due to attend.

Iraq's leading Shiite Muslim opposition group was also
boycotting the talks, amid distrust over the US role
and division over who should lead Iraq.

Chalabi, who has insisted he is not a candidate for a
post in the interim administration to be run by retired
US general Jay Garner, planned to send a

Dozens of representatives from Iraq's fractious mix of
ethnic, tribal and opposition groups, including those
formerly in exile, were said to be invited although no
official list was given.

The New York Times quoted Garner as saying his mission
to rebuild Iraq's political structures would be messy
and contentious.

His fears appeared justified as the talks in the Shiite
bastion sparked a demonstration estimated by
journalists to number around 20,000 people, led by
religious figures.

"Yes to freedom... Yes to Islam... No to America, No to
Saddam," the crowd chanted as they marched through the
centre of Nasiriyah.

The Pentagon meanwhile said it was not yet ready to
declare victory after nearly four weeks of war, but US
commanders expressed hope the main stage of hostilities
was over with the fall of Saddam's hometown of Tikrit
on Monday.

The commander of a 16,000-strong Iraqi military unit
surrendered control of an area of western Iraq
extending to the Syrian border, after US central
command said it was continuing to consolidate its

US officials switched their focus to neighbouring
Syria, alleging Damascus has been developing weapons of
mass destruction, prompting appeals for calm from the
United Nations and Arab and European governments.

US officials have accused the regime of President
Bashar al-Assad of state terrorism, developing weapons
of mass destruction and of harbouring fugitive Iraqi

"We will examine possible measures of a diplomatic,
economic or other nature as we move forward," US
Secretary of State Colin Powell said.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer branded Syria a
terrorist state, while Defence Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld claimed Syria had carried out a chemical
weapons test "over the past 12, 15 months".

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon joined the
offensive, describing Assad as "dangerous," and urging
Washington to put "very heavy ... political and
economic pressure" on Syria.

The Syrian government hit back on Tuesday, condemning
"the threatening language and the baseless accusations
levelled by certain American officials against Syria
with the aim of striking a blow at its firm position,
influence its decisions and it commitment to
international legitimacy."

Syria's ambassador to the United Nations also denied
the allegations, accusing Washington of double
standards over its support for Israel, the strongest
military power in the Middle East.

"We don't have weapons of mass destruction," Rostom
al-Zoubi said in an interview with CNN. "It is Israel,
which has a big arsenal of weapons of mass

European Union foreign ministers have urged Washington
to tone down its rhetoric, while the Arab League and
Egypt have also condemned the accusations.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan warned such statements
could destabilize the whole Middle East.

The formal surrender by the commander of 16,000 Iraqi
army troops who controlled the vast area along the
Syrian border marked another dramatic step toward the
end of the war.

"I am ready to help. Thank you for liberating Iraq and
making it stable," Iraqi General Mohammed Jarawi told
US Colonel Curtis Potts after signing the surrender.

A scaledown of the 300,000-strong US force deployed in
the region was also already underway.

Two US aircraft carriers -- the USS Kitty Hawk and the
USS Constellation -- were due to head home from the
Gulf as early as this week. More than 1,000 US soldiers
were also due to start leaving Turkey Tuesday, local
officials said.

But life in Baghdad remained far from normal six days
after US troops entered. Most shops remained closed,
and many parts of the city still lacked water or

And US forces tried for the first time Tuesday to
prevent the media from covering a third day of anti-US
protests outside the hotel housing a US operations base
in central Baghdad.

     Protests flare ahead of Iraq talks
               By Adrian Croft

TALLIL AIRBASE, Iraq (Reuters - 15 April) - The United
Iraqis today on how to rule the country now Saddam
Hussein has gone, but anti-U.S. protests erupted even
before they began.

As participants gathered at a U.S. air base near the
southern Iraqi city of Nassiriya, scepticism ran deep
among groups united by little other than delight Saddam
was finished and unease at being seen as too close to
the United States.

Arabic television channels showed thousands of Iraqis
protesting in Nassiriya against the talks, saying they
wanted to rule themselves and chanting: "No to America,
No to Saddam".

In a sign of how hard the process may be, one major
exile group stayed away and another sent only minor
officials to the talks that failed to start as planned
at 10 a.m. (7:00 a.m. British time).

Three hours later, a spokesman for one group told
Reuters by telephone that participants were still
preparing to meet.

U.S. officials say Iraqis should govern themselves as
soon as possible. The aim is to help them generate
their own nationwide decision-making structure, but
Tuesday's short-term goal was just for the diverse
factions to get acquainted.

"A big part of the meeting is getting to know each
other, so the meeting starts when they get together,"
said a U.S. military spokesman.

Officials from the interim U.S.-led administration for
Iraq say they hope to do most of their work in three to
six months and then hand over to an Iraqi government.
However, the U.S. military authority in the country
looks set to stay longer.


Ahmad Chalabi, a high-profile leader backed by the
Pentagon, was not attending the talks but sent a
representative. The main Shi'ite Muslim opposition
group decided not to come at all.

"It is not to the benefit of the Iraqi nation," said
Abdelaziz Hakim, a leader of the Iran-based Supreme
Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI.

"From the beginning, independence has been our
manifesto. We don't accept a U.S. umbrella or anybody

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw put a brave face
on the boycott, saying SCIRI were enjoying their new
democratic right to choose, and tried to dampen
expectations about the meeting.

"It is not a one-off, it's the beginning of a process
to restore governance," he told a news conference in
the Gulf state of Qatar, home to U.S. Central Command
war headquarters.

"This is not an American or British operation but one
we have sponsored to get things going," he said, when
asked if it would have been better for the United
Nations to run the talks.

That question elicited a swipe at U.N. Security Council
permanent members France and Russia, who have dashed
Anglo-American hopes that once the war was over they
might set aside their vocal opposition to U.S. policy
on Iraq.

Straw said London and Washington saw a vital role for
the United Nations but that Security Council members
had to accept the new reality on the ground in Iraq and

"It is the responsibility of all members of the
Security Council, but particularly those with vetoes,
not to play games but to recognise this new reality and
to move forward," he said.

The United Nations, promised some sort of role by
Washington under pressure from Britain, will attend as
an observer.


The meeting will be overseen by Jay Garner, the retired
U.S. general who will head the interim Office for
Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) until
Iraqis take over.

"My fear right now is every day we delay we're probably
losing some momentum, and there's perhaps some vacuums
in there getting filled that we won't want filled," he

About 60 Iraqis, representing radical and mainstream
Shi'ite and Sunni Muslim groups, Kurds and supporters
of the monarchy overthrown in 1958, were expected to
attend the meeting 375 km (235 miles) southeast of

If the talks succeed, similar meetings may be held
elsewhere in Iraq to draw together as many different
voices as possible.

A spokesman for Chalabi told BBC radio leaders of the
Iraqi opposition planned to hold their own meeting in
Baghdad soon.

"Iraqis must rule Iraq, we don't need either an
American general or a U.N. bureaucrat in charge," said
Zaab Sethna.

One problem is that Saddam's ruling Baath Party was so
pervasive it will prove hard to govern the country
without them.

Members of his police are patrolling again in Baghdad,
but a British ORHA official said they were only small

"We've been successful in taking the head off the
regime, in taking off the top layer," Brigadier General
Tim Cross told BBC radio. "Most of the other people who
are trying to rebuild their lives will put aside the
Baathist regime with great pleasure."

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