Paul Wolf: Continuing Unrest in Iraq


Richard Moore

Date: Fri, 18 Apr 2003 17:56:53 -0400
To: •••@••.•••
From: Paul Wolf <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Continuing Unrest in Iraq

  1.  All according to the notebook

  2.  Political Party in Mosul Emerges With Own Army

  3.  Self-proclaimed rulers emerge in Iraq

  4.  Arabs face evictions as Kurds take revenge

  5.  Iraqis battle for homes of Kirkuk

  6.  Mosul scene to daily Arab-Kurd-US violence

  7.  Poverty and despair behind Iraq's ethnic violence

  8.  Tens of thousands in Baghdad call for US withdrawal

  9.  For the people on the streets, this is not liberation
      but a new colonial oppression

 10.  US forces behind anarchy in Iraq: Pak analyst

 11.  Jordanian volunteers: Baghdad's fall was a ‘deal'

 12.  Saddam Sealed Betrayal Deal: Iraqi Diplomat

 13.  Iran won't recognize U.S.-led Iraq government

 14.  Russia eyes East Asian arms market

All according to the notebook

Iraq Notebook -- April 19, 2003

By Paul Belden, Asia Times Online

BAGHDAD - Before Iraq, I'd never been in a situation as a reporter
where so many people took such an abiding interest in exactly what
I wrote down in my notebook. In post-battle Baghdad, they don't
trust your memory, and they don't trust you, either. Before they'll
even talk to you, they demand to see your press pass, and then,
while they're telling their story - often with a death-grip on your
shirtsleeve to make sure you don't wander off - they want to watch
you write it down, too.

Sometimes even that isn't enough. When Haider Abbas Farhan, a man
in his late 30s whom I buttonholed on the Karada Dakhl on the east
bank of the Tigris, grew suspicious of my note-taking diligence,
he simply grabbed my pad out of my hands started writing in it
himself. He didn't write much - just the number two, twice, the
figures traced side by side in my notebook in a wavering see-Jane-run
learner's scrawl that took up a quarter of the page. But he got over
the gist of his tale.

"Here," he said, locking eyes with mine and pointing at his own.
"I look. With my eye, I look." He grabbed my shirtsleeve. "Twenty-two
person. Four children. And the mother." He let go and began acting
out the scene of a convoy being strafed by a machine gun, playing all
the roles himself. He kept looking over to make sure I was writing
it down. "All dead. Three days ago. In Adhamyia. I look. With my eye,
I look."

There happened to be an armored US Marine patrol parked with engines
rumbling half a block away, and suddenly Haider pivoted toward them
and thrust his arm out in their direction like a power-tripping
traffic cop. "Amrikee soldier," he said, raising his voice. "No good!"
And now he was starting to get worked up. In a quick role switch, he
pantomimed the re-loading of a magazine - cha-chingk, cha-chingk -
and this time he aimed his imaginary Kalashnikov or whatever it was
straight at those soldiers' heads. "Powpowpowpowpow!" he said.

Jesus Christ - I nearly hit the pavement. A couple of those soldiers'
heads happened to be poking out of the hatch of a steel green
amphibious killer-turtle tank thing with a prow like a ship sporting
twin .50 caliber machine guns, which was considerably more firepower
than Haider was even pretending to unload. And the whole point of
his story had been how quick on the trigger they were with those
guns. It didn't stop him one bit: "One week, two weeks, wait, wait,"
he said. "Powpowpowpowpow." He noticed my somewhat distracted state
and started dancing up and down in frustration while unleashing a
torrent of abusive Arabic for which I didn't need a translator:
"Write this down, you fucking moron!" he was obviously screaming.

So I wrote it down. Yeah, the media have been accused of being
gullible in the matter of civilian casualties, and sure, he could
have been bullshitting me. But I did what I could to check his story
out. I went to the US Army public information office in the Palestine
hotel to ask about any recent firefight in Adhamyia, but they didn't
know anything - when anybody was even home. I asked some soldiers on
a checkpoint, but they knew even less than I did. There'd been lots
of firefights, they shrugged.

So I hired a driver and went over to Adhamyia myself. Sure enough,
there was a convoy of burned-out cars sitting in a row of crumpled
black heaps in the street across from a mosque that had also been
shot to pieces. Certainly something lethal had gone down in this
place; there were bullet holes and smashed glass everywhere. The
mosque's clock tower had a hole in it halfway up where a tank shell
had gone clean through. A line of glass-fronted pharmacy stores and
mom-and-pop shops along the street had been utterly devastated. The
entire neighborhood had been shot to pieces.

When the locals got wind that there was a journalist on the scene,
they of course began crowding around to make sure he was earning his
pay. It turned out that the story making the rounds was this: The
mosque, called Abu Hanifa, a beautiful one of yellow and blue mosaic
tiles, had been the place in which Saddam Hussein had made his stand
against the invaders. When an American tank column had come through
this neighborhood on its way to the city center, about two miles away,
there had been a fierce battle. Many jihadis had been killed, along
with not a few civilians. They ushered me into and through the mosque,
and I counted 11 new graves in the courtyard.

Somewhere along the way, a heavyset middle-aged woman in a blue hijab
(scarf) shouldered her way to the front and began speaking her piece.
I quote her here not because what she had to say was extraordinary,
but precisely because it wasn't. That is to say, as nearly as I could
tell, this woman summed up the prevailing sentiment of many people in
Baghdad who lived through the destruction in their city and who
aren't trying to curry favor with the government to come.

She said: "I say that America - Bush - George Bush - is the enemy of
the gods. He say the gods sent him to save the Iraqi people, but he
killed the Iraqi people. He destroyed everything of the Iraqi people."

In one variation or another, I've written that sentence down many
times over the past four days - and nearly every time, I've had
somebody looking over my shoulder to make sure I was getting it down

Political Party in Mosul Emerges With Own Army

By David Rohde, The New York Times, April 17, 2003

MOSUL, Iraq, April 17 -- Across this battered city, Iraqi political
parties have slowly begun opening up new offices this week. But only
one group shares a base with American Special Forces soldiers, has a
private army trained by the Americans and is guarding a local
hospital alongside American troops.

"I believe the I.N.C. will succeed," predicted Nabeel Musawi, the
41-year-old deputy director of the Iraqi National Congress. "I
believe the I.N.C. is the future of Iraq."

The group, headed by the wealthy Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi, has long
been the focus of a split in the American government. Dismissed by
officials at the State Department and Central Intelligence Agency as
having too little support inside Iraq, the I.N.C. is strongly backed
by the Department of Defense, in particular by Deputy Defense
Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz.

But in Mosul and other cities, local leaders have already expressed
vehement opposition to a government headed by exiles.

Two weeks ago, the American military airlifted Mr. Chalabi and 600
of his self-declared Free Iraqi Fighters into southern Iraq near the
city of Nasiriya. Earlier this week, military officials appointed Dr.
Muhammad Zobaidi, a representative of the Iraqi National Congress,
to manage Baghdad and serve as its de facto mayor.

In the north, about 230 of Mr. Chalabi's fighters have undergone
training at an Iraqi military hospital turned by the Americans into
a special operations base. On the outside wall of the base, the
words "Iraqi National Congress" have been painted.

Mr. Chalabi, a 58-year-old banker who has not lived in his country
for more than 40 years, pays the salaries, weapons and food of the
fighters out of his own pocket, Mr. Musawi said. The Pentagon,
which commands the fighters, is providing the training and

The soldiers are paid $150 a month, a small fortune for Mosul,
where the city's chief judge, for instance, makes $50 a month.

Mr. Musawi, 42, a software developer and Iraqi exile from London,
has big plans for the group. Joint patrols with American forces.
Joint patrols with the local police. And projecting the I.N.C. as
a local authority in town.

"I was very pleasantly surprised by the reception our people are
getting here," Mr. Musawi said as he sat in a compound guarded by
American soldiers. "People not only know who we are, they are very
pleased to see us."

But in a series of interviews over the last several days, few
people in Mosul seemed to have heard of the congress. Gen. Abdul
Aziz Omar, Mosul's new police chief, said he knew nothing about
joint patrols with the group.

"We have no idea about the I.N.C.," he said. "They entered with
the agreement of American forces."

Told they were an opposition group, General Aziz shrugged and said
dozens of groups had opened offices in the city. "Anyone can come
here and raise a flag," he said.

So far, the fighters' activities have been limited to guarding
the city's general hospital and a munitions dump. At the hospital,
where Mr. Chalabi's troops stand guard alongside Americans,
workers seemed confused by them. Some referred to them as coming
from southern Iraq. Others said they were American troops.

That can be a double-edged sword. Being closely associated with
American forces appears to give the congress additional clout on
the ground. But it also makes them vulnerable to being depicted
as American puppets.

Most of the 230 fighters being trained here are from the Basra
region in southern Iraq. Many had moved to Iran and lived as
refugees following a failed Shiite uprising against Mr. Hussein
in 1991. One trainee said he was 16.

"I don't believe in others," said Saleh Farhood Abdullah, 43,
one of the fighters here. "I like this organization because it

is democracy."
Mr. Musawi insisted the group was here to help all Iraqis and
would not be used as political leverage by Mr. Chalabi. But he
pointed out that the party was perfectly positioned to help lead
a new government.

"The only political entity on the ground is the I.N.C.," he said.
"All the rest are just political groups."

Self-proclaimed rulers emerge in Iraq

Al Jazeera, April 17, 2003

In the post-invasion chaos in Iraq, jockeying for political power
has begun with individuals proclaiming themselves rulers. On
Thursday, the US was forced to deny sanctioning the appointments
of two Iraqis claiming to be the governor and mayor of Baghdad.

The political jockeying for position in Iraq has gathered steam
even as the United States prepared to bring in tens of thousands
of new troops to stabilize the country following the invasion.

On Wednesday, two close associates of an Iraqi opposition leader
said they had been elected governor and mayor of Baghdad by tribal
and religious chiefs acting with the consent of occupying US troops.

But Captain Joe Plenzler, a spokesman for the US marines here, shot
down the claim. "Anyone declaring themselves as mayor or anything
else is just not true. The US government has not appointed anyone."

"Anyone can call themselves anything they want to," Plenzler said,
adding "But future appointments like this will be handled through
USAID (the US Agency for International Development)."

Mohammed Mohsen Zubeidi, a veteran anti-Saddam Hussein politician,
earlier looked official enough with a huge media entourage to boot
as he proclaimed himself head of a new interim administration for
Baghdad. His "appointment" was among the two denied by the US.

Zubeidi said Iraq's political life was reawakening, and that he
had beeen coordinating with the US forces here and meeting with
them every day. But he said he has had no contact so far with
Jay Garner, the retired US general named by Washington as civil
administrator to overlook the post-war reconstruction of Iraq.

Chalabi in Baghdad

Meanwhile, the pro-US Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi returned to
the capital Baghdad on Wednesday on his first visit to the city
since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1958. "Our plans are to
establish ourselves here, to set up an office and begin the work
towards reconstructing democracy and civil society in Iraq,"
said a Chalabi aide Zaab Sethna.

"His first plan is to go see his old home and then start building
democracy in Iraq," added Sethna. A statement by the Iraqi National
Congress of which Chalabi is head said he and the leaders of four
other political groups would meet in Baghdad shortly to constitute
the Iraqi Leadership Council.

The council of five, which could be expanded will not have anyone
from the US in it. Besides Chalabi, the others are Shi'ite Supreme
Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) representative
Abdelaziz Hakim, Ayad Allawi of the Iraqi National Accord and the
heads of two Kurdish groups -- Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani.

The Baghdad meeting is said to be complementary to the consultation
process which began in Nassiriya on Tuesday under US chairmanship.

Restoration work

In the meantime, work is on in Baghdad and other cities to
restore health care, water, electricity, gas distribution and
other essential services. A US military spokesman said the marines
hoped to restore electricity supplies to more than 50 percent of
the population of in Baghdad by Friday.

Efforts were also underway to revive the Iraqi media. The radio
began broadcasting Wednesday and television will start in a few

A meeting of journalists who used to work on the previously state-
owned newspapers was scheduled for Saturday. The three papers will
resume publication, but under different names and management.

--- Al Jazeera with agency inputs,2763,939139,00.html

Arabs face evictions as Kurds take revenge

Once-repressed group say they are only reclaiming what is theirs

Michael Howard in Daqouq, Iraqi Kurdistan

Friday April 18, 2003, The Guardian

Iraqi Arabs claim they are being forcibly expelled from homes and
villages in and around the northern city of Kirkuk by Kurds who are
bent on undoing years of their own forced expulsion at the hands of
the Iraqi regime.

As many as 2,000 people from four villages near the town of Daqouq,
about 17 miles south of Kirkuk, are reported to have left property
and land that once belonged to Kurds, after being served with
eviction notices by an official from the Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan - which took control of the area following the fall of
Kirkuk on April 10.

The Arab villagers have sought refuge in the homes and tents of
fellow members of the Shummar tribe in a larger village nearby.

"This is the legacy Saddam left us," said Walid, a farmer from the
village of al-Untasir, who came to Daqouq to plead his case with
PUK officials. "Now we have no safety, no land and no future." He
said he and his family had been forced from his home by gunmen who
then stole his tractor.

With the US military struggling to retain even a tenuous grip over
Iraq's northern cities, a wave of reprisals by the Kurds against
their former Arab oppressors is sweeping the region.

In Kirkuk, Arab residents of the Qadassiyah district say they have
been the target of looting and a drive-by shooting by Kurds. They
said three houses in the area had been seized by armed men who then
spray-painted the word girow, Kurdish for "taken", on the outside.

PUK officials yesterday denied that expulsion represented their
official policy, but conceded that some Kurds may have pretended
to be PUK officials in order to "pursue criminal activities".

"The Arabs are our brothers," said Juma Ahmed Majid, head of the
PUK's Daqouq office. "But Kurds used to own, farm and live on all
this land and were driven off it by Saddam in the 1970s. We have
long dreamed of being able to return and it is our right."

In a conciliatory message to Arab tribal leaders in and around
Mosul and Kirkuk, Massoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan
Democratic party, condemned the attacks and promised to bring to
justice any Kurds caught looting Arab villages.

"No Kurd is allowed to attack the property, life or integrity of
any Arab citizen in any village, district or in the centre of main
cities," he said. "The Arabs have full right to self-defence in
such incidents."

Settling claims over displaced people and confiscated property in
Iraq is one of the most sensitive and potentially explosive issues
facing post-war authorities in the country.

For Kurds, Kirkuk has become a symbol of their repression and
arouses great passion.

Since the 1991 Gulf war, the Iraqi regime has systematically
expelled an estimated 120,000 people - mostly Kurds, but also
Turkomans and Assyrian Christians - from Kirkuk and other towns
and villages in this oil-rich region in a process known as

There are thought to be as many as 400,000 displaced people in
northern Iraq.

Yesterday's outcry from the Arab community in the north is likely
to add to growing criticism of the US and British forces for what
is increasingly looking like an ad hoc strategy for defusing
Iraq's political and social minefields.

With the past week's looting, violence and unrest in Mosul and
Kirkuk, US forces who have arrived from fighting against Iraqi
troops are now being asked to play the role of peacekeepers.

But it is debatable whether there are enough of them to make a
difference, or whether they are adequately prepared for the role.

"They had a long time to plan for issues such as this, but it
seems nothing was done," said Hani Mufti, London director of
the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch.

She said the Kurds' right of return to property and land seized
by the Ba'athist regime should be recognised, but warned: "If a
plan for the gradual and orderly return of these displaced
citizens is not drawn up and implemented soon there is a real
possibility of inter-ethnic violence."

She said that the Kurds in Kirkuk should not take the law into
their own hands. "Right up until the collapse of the regime they
were the victims of terror," she said.

"Now they should not turn around and do the same thing to the
Arabs. They were also victims of Saddam."

A senior Kurdish official called yesterday for an international
commission to settle the issue of internally displaced people in
the north.

"This has to be an organised process," said Hoshyar Zebari,
foreign relations chief of the Kurdistan Democratic party, one
of the two Kurdish groups controlling the self-rule area.

"Kurds have been the victims of the Arabisation process for so
many years. There should be an international committee headed
by a prominent personality to supervise the return of displaced
people to their homes, while at the same time not encroaching on
human rights.",0,7541568.story?coll=bal-home-headlines

Iraqis battle for homes of Kirkuk

Conflict: Disputes over property could trigger a bloody cycle of
vengeance between Arabs and Kurds.

By Douglas Birch, The Baltimore Sun, April 17, 2003

KIRKUK, Iraq - On Monday, Hamid Abdul-Razaq found squatters in his
house, gave them 24 hours to leave, and by early yesterday they had
complied. They were gone, along with his furniture, his refrigerator,
stove and just about everything else.

"It is a very ugly thing," he said, wading in leather shoes through
a flood unleashed when someone yanked the toilet from the wall.
"You come home and everything is looted. I am astounded by this."

The occupation and ransacking of Abdul-Razaq's home is part of the
settling of old ethnic scores, a legacy of Iraqi leader Saddam
Hussein's strategy to divide and rule. For most of the 1980s and
1990s, the regime favored Iraqi Arabs over Iraqi Kurds, favoritism
that extended to expelling Kurds from their homes and villages and
inviting Arabs to take their place.

Now, people in northern Iraq fear that disputes over property could
trigger a bloody cycle of vengeance among the region's mosaic of
ethnic, tribal and political groups.

Abdul-Razaq is an Arab, a farmer and chief of the Jabour tribe,
about 200 related families who have lived for generations in the
southern districts of this city. Like many other Kirkuk residents,
he fled last week after the city's capture by a Kurdish force
assisted by American Special Forces.

In the logic that prevails here, his decision to flee the chaos
put his home up for grabs. When he ventured back on Monday, he found
that the family of a Kurdish fighter had broken the lock on the front
door and moved in. On a wall out front, the squatters spray-painted
their emotional claim to the property: "This house controlled by a
family whose son was killed by the Iraqi army."

Abdul-Razaq, a burly man with a mustache and goatee, pleaded with
the armed Kurd and his family to leave, but they refused. So he
appealed to the fighter's superiors at the Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan, or PUK, one of two main Kurdish factions. The group sent
guerrillas to ask their comrade to get out.

The family left yesterday. Around the same time, someone looted and
vandalized the house, destroying nearly everything left behind.

Relocation and revenge

For at least 35 years, the Iraqi government forced tens of
thousands of politically suspect Kurdish and Turkman families out
of Kirkuk, which is situated near some of the world's richest oil
fields. At the same time, Baghdad bullied or bribed tens of
thousands of Arabs from southern Iraq to move here.

After suffering decades of discrimination, some Kurds have decided
to retaliate in kind. Kurdish fighters have moved into many vacant
homes owned by Arabs in Kirkuk. Some Kurdish freebooters are trying
to expel Arab families from farming villages south of the city.

Fearing violence, many Arab families in that area have moved out
of their homes and into tents. Others have formed armed vigilante
groups to protect themselves - firing on suspicious-looking

Top officials with the PUK and the other major Kurdish faction,
the Kurdistan Democratic Party, say they oppose the evictions but
won't order their fighters to vacate homes abandoned by owners.

"Some people who were with Saddam Hussein, who did miserable
things, were afraid after the liberation," said Salhaddin Ibrahim
Kadir, chief of the KDP in Kirkuk. "So they ran away from Kirkuk,
and their houses were empty. The Kurds who returned, they have no
houses. When someone came and saw an empty house, as is natural,
he opened the door and went in the house."

Abdul Khadir Faradun, chief of the PUK in Kirkuk, said his group
has been busy trying to stop ethnic and political fighting over
property ownership. Last weekend, he said, five PUK soldiers and
an officer were killed while trying to mediate between Kurds and
Arabs fighting over control of the Arab village of Howaja, about
25 miles south.

Faradun said the wife of a former security official recently
came in to complain that a Kurdish fighter, a pesh merga, had
moved into her family's home.

"Her husband was a very ugly man," he said. "But I took the pesh
merga out and gave them back their home. If anyone comes to me
and wants to return to his house, I will help them."

Abdul-Razaq lives next door to his brother-in-law, a colonel in
Hussein's military. Kurdish fighters had occupied that house as
well. Abdul-Razaq persuaded them to leave.

"I told them the owner bought the house with his own money, that
he lived in Kirkuk for more than 30 years" and wasn't one of the
Arabs moved in under Hussein's effort to alter Kirkuk's ethnic
mix, he said.

The squatters left. But as they did so, someone broke down
doors and rifled through closets, perhaps in search of money or

Looters also rampaged through the home of Abdul-Razaq's brother,
who lives about a mile away.

"They took everything," said Raja Mahdi Akhmad, Abdul-Razaq's
sister-in-law. "And the things they didn't take, they broke."

Abdul-Razaq was a member of Hussein's Baath Party. But he said
anyone who wanted to succeed in Iraqi society had little choice.
"If you were not Baath, you could not get a job," he said.
"They wouldn't let your child go to school. You were forced to
be Baath."

Other tensions

The friction between Arabs and Kurds is not the only tension here.
A truckload of gunmen opened fire on a United Turkman Front office
this week, killing a 7-year-old Turkman boy caught in the cross
fire. His body was paraded around the hotels where foreign
journalists stayed.

A few days earlier, gunfire erupted at another Front office on
Baghdad Way, sending bullets flying into traffic. A Turkman
official blamed Kurdish militants for the attack.

Today, Kirkuk is governed by its conquerors, the KDP, PUK and Gen.
James Parker, commander of American forces in northern Iraq. Soon,
control is supposed to shift to a committee made up of all the
major ethnic and political factions here, factions that so far
have shown little ability to get along.

Mosul scene to daily Arab-Kurd-US violence

Al-Zahraway hospital bears witness to daily Arab-Kurd-US violence as
doctors operate on casulaties by candlelight.

By Deborah Pasmantier, Middle East Online, April 17, 2003

Amid sustained bursts of gunfire and the endless wailing of ambulance
sirens, Al-Zahraway hospital has been witness to Arab-Kurd-US violence
since the northern Iraqi city of Mosul fell last week.

The Arab-majority city in mostly Kurdish northern Iraq came under the
control of US troops last Saturday morning.

But after a day of looting, the bloody account settling between the
city's Arab community, widely seen as a bastion of support for the
now ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, and the Kurds gets into
full swing.

Sporadic or heavy gunfire resounds across the city, as ambulances
ferry in victims of the fighting, both Arabs and Kurds, to the
hospital's operating theatre or in some cases straight to its morgue.

Without electricity, without water, the doctors operate on the dozens
of casualties by candlelight.

US soldiers standing outside the hospital are shocked by the scenes.

"I hoped we get a good reception. I didn't expect such violence," one
soldier said as the sound of gunfire reverberated around the hospital.
Sunday afternoon, the shooting starts at the gates of the hospital and
moves inside the complex itself before the eyes of the terrified staff.

A motorist finds himself lost in a main avenue. A mistake which cost
his life. Three men fire at a rooftop, and later a gunman is arrested,

"It's a Kurd, it's a Kurd," say the Arab doctors who refuse to treat
him. US troops step in and insist they deal with his injuries.

Monday morning. The family of a member of Saddam's Baath Party is
attacked. Two of them are wounded. They are the first casualties to
be taken to the hospital for that day.

The city is calm. Children and policemen return to the streets.
Electricity and telephone services are restored.

"That's better, the number of casualties has decreased," says Doctor
Muzahim Kawat. "The Americans listened to us: they stopped flying
their flag under our noses."

A young girl offers flowers to US soldiers.

Tuesday afternoon. The ambulance sirens begin again amid the wailing
and tears.

A woman cries, cradling her young, wounded daughter in her arms.

"They (US soldiers) shot at the crowd in front of the governorate,"
shout those bringing the wounded to the hospital.

Hospital director Ayad al-Ramadhani does not know where to start.

"There are casualties everywhere, we do not have enough space for
them," he says, as corpses pile up at the mortuary waiting to be
placed in wooden coffins.

Emergency personnel bar Westerners from entering the hospital, amid
shouts of their anger and hatred.

The US soldiers leave.

"We don't want the peshmerga Kurdish fighters or Americans. They say
they have come to ensure our safety but they are firing on us," says
Said Altah, a doctor.

Wednesday afternoon. The hospital's deputy director takes stock of
the victims from the day before: 15 dead, 28 wounded.

A few hours later coalition forces admit that US troops shot at a
crowd in the centre of Mosul, saying they were fired on first by
demonstrators who turned hostile during a speech by an American-
installed local governor.

However, another incident takes place Wednesday and at least four
people are killed and several others wounded in a gunbattle with US
soldiers who claim to have been shot at near the governorate buildings.

And the wailing sirens, tears and cries of hatred begin all over again.

Poverty and despair behind Iraq's ethnic violence

With so many Iraqis living on the edge of starvation, it is hardly
surprising they took the chance to loot anything they could

By Patrick Cockburn, The Independent, 14 April 2003

A machine-gun chattered just outside the gate of the biggest hospital
in Mosul just as Dr Ayad Ramadani, the hospital director, was saying he
blamed the Kurds for the orgy of looting and violence which had engulfed
Iraq's northern capital. "The Kurdish militias were looting the city,"
he explained. "Today the main protection is from civilians organised by
the mosques."

This is not quite fair on the Kurds, since Arabs were also doing their
fair share of looting in Mosul over the past few days, ransacking
everything from the Central Bank to the university. But there is no
doubt that the Arabs, who make up three-quarters of Mosul's population,
are blaming the Kurds for devastating their city.

The downfall of Saddam Hussein has exacerbated, to a degree never seen
before, the ethnic and religious tensions between Kurds, Sunni Arabs
and Shia Arabs, the three great communities to which almost all Iraqis
belong. But, deep though differences were between them in the past,
there is little history of communal violence in the country on the
scale of Protestants and Roman Catholics in Belfast or Muslims and
Christians in Beirut.

This may now be changing. Much of the looting in Baghdad has been by
impoverished Shias from great slums like Saddam City attacking the
homes of wealthier Sunnis, who have traditionally made up the

The United States has a lot to answer for in allowing the violence
to continue for so long. In Baghdad, American troops were notoriously
inactive while shops and homes were being looted. In northern Iraq,
mobs of looters were able to take over Mosul because almost no
American soldiers were present. The reason for their absence was that
the US had rushed 2,000 men, most of its slender forces in the north,
to take over the Kirkuk oilfields. Only a few hundred soldiers were
available for Mosul. The chants of anti-war protesters about how the
conflict is all about control of Iraqi oil do not seem as over-stated
today as they did a month ago.

The failure of the US Army to stop the looting is only the latest
manifestation of a theme evident in American policy before and during
the war. Although the conflict was being justified as a fight to
liberate the Iraqi people, their involvement was discouraged and
their existence ignored. According to one Iraqi who met George Bush
just before the war, the President was intrigued to learn, apparently
for the first time, that Iraq was inhabited by two sorts Muslims,
Sunnis and Shias, with deep differences between them.

Some of the ethnic and religious conflicts emerging should not come
as a surprise. Soon after the British captured Baghdad in 1917, the
civil commissioner, Captain Arnold Wilson, wrote a plaintive note to
London, arguing that the new state being created out of three former
Turkish provinces could only be "the antithesis of democratic
government". This was because the Shia majority rejected domination
by the Sunni minority, but "no form of government has been envisaged
which does not involve Sunni domination". The Kurds in the north,
Wilson prophetically pointed out, "will never accept Arab rule".

It is important not to project these arguments too far into the future.
Iraqi nationalism did develop after British occupation. Iraqi Shias,
the majority in the Iraqi army, did fight against Shia Iran during the
Iran-Iraq war. Kurdish leaders today do recognise that, surrounded by
hostile powers, full independence for Kurdistan is not feasible. Real
autonomy within Iraq, and a share of power in Baghdad, is the better

Iraqi liberals often argue that the extent of communal differences in
Iraq has been exaggerated and violence experienced by Shia, Sunni and
Kurd has come from the government in Baghdad. They point out that
neither the Sunni nor the Shia communities are monolithic and, in any
case, Saddam Hussein stoked communal differences to his advantage.

Some truth is evident in this, but even Iraqi opposition politicians
who have argued this optimistic view to me soon start talking about
Shia, Sunni and Kurd as if they were immutable categories. Saddam
Hussein's state was always deeply sectarian. On the day Kirkuk fell
I talked to 10 Iraqi army deserters, all private soldiers, who had
been defending a large village. Nine of them were Shias from the south
of Iraq and one was a Turkoman. Although they came from different units,
not one of the soldiers had met a Sunni Muslim who was a private soldier
or a Shia who was an officer.

The history of the past 30 years has exacerbated ethnic differences.
For instance, Kurds in the northern three provinces, which have had de
facto independence for 12 years, seldom now speak Arabic. Six weeks ago
I was speaking to about 100 peshmerga, as Kurdish soldiers are known.
(This started off as a private interview with their commanders, but in
true democratic spirit their men gathered round to shout agreement or
disagreement). When I asked how many spoke Arabic as well as Kurdish
only three put up their hands.

In 1991 the Shias and Kurds rose against President Saddam but
the Sunni heartland did not. In the following years, Shia religious
leaders within Iraq were systematically assassinated and their
followers persecuted. I used to think that Sunni or Christian friends
in Baghdad were exaggerating when they expressed terror at what would
happen if the Shias of Saddam City in east Baghdad or in the south
ever revolted, but it turns out that they were right.

What has given such a terrible edge to these differences is the
economic misery of most of the Iraqi population. Many of the looters
in Kirkuk and Mosul were triumphantly bearing home almost valueless
stolen goods like broken pieces of corrugated iron or shabby old
chairs. In Kurdistan, often presented as doing better than the rest
of Iraq, 60 per cent of the population would be destitute without the
food rations provided by the United Nations' Food-for-Oil Programme.

With so many Iraqis living on the edge of starvation, it is hardly
surprising that they took the one chance they had over the past week
to loot anything they could get their hands on. Over the past 12 years
in Baghdad you would see men standing all day in open-air markets
trying to sell a few cracked earthenware plates or some old clothes.
They were the true victims of UN sanctions while Saddam Hussein could
pay for gold fittings to the bathroom in his presidential palace.

Economic sanctions really did devastate Iraqi society. In one village,
called Penjwin, in 1996 I found that villagers were surviving by
defusing a particularly lethal Italian landmine, called the Valmara,
in order to sell the scrap of aluminium in which the explosives were
wrapped. The number of unemployed and semi-employed people and
criminals in Iraq soared during the 1990s. Looking forward to the
transition period after Saddam Hussein, the Brussels-based International
Crisis Group noted three weeks ago that "this amorphous social group
could become an important source of violence and disorder during the
transition, expanding the ranks of any destructive mobs."

For all the crimes of Saddam Hussein, the greatest reality in
the lives of most Iraqis for over a decade has been this economic
devastation. It is their terrible poverty which has given such an
edge to the fury of the mobs of looters which have raged through
Iraqi cities in recent weeks. It is exacerbating religious and
ethnic tensions which otherwise might lie dormant. Unless the Iraqi
poor feel their lives are improving, the US and Britain -- now
responsible for Iraq -- may soon find that they too have become a
target for their rage.

Tens of thousands in Baghdad call for US withdrawal

Al Jazeera, April 18, 2003

Tens of thousands of demonstrators in Baghdad protested against
the United States presence in Iraq on Friday, following Friday

Waving banners in English and Arabic reading "Leave our country,
we want peace," protestors outside of the Abu Hanifa Al-Numan
Mosque chanted "No to America, no to Saddam" and "This homeland
is for the Shia and Sunni," in a sign of unity among the two

The majority of Iraq's 25-million strong population is 60 percent
Shia, which had been ruled ruthlessly under Saddam Hussein's
mostly Sunni elitist regime. In recent days there has been
mounting discontent from among the Shia to Washington's presence
in Iraq. Protestors called for unity among Iraqis and urged all
to put aside past conflicts and differences.

Al-Jazeera TV correspondent Youseff Al-Shouly reported it was
the first non-state organized protest in the Iraqi capital in
decades, describing it as a significant development.

In the first Friday prayers since US tanks rolled into the
heart of Baghdad last week, Imam Ahmad Al-Kubaisi said in his
sermon the United States invaded Iraq to defend Israel and
denied that Iraqi possessed weapons of mass destruction.

For the people on the streets, this is not liberation but
a new colonial oppression

America's war of 'liberation' may be over. But Iraq's war
of liberation from the Americans is just about to begin

By Robert Fisk, 17 April 2003 

It's going wrong, faster than anyone could have imagined.
The army of "liberation" has already turned into the army of
occupation. The Shias are threatening to fight the Americans,
to create their own war of "liberation".

At night on every one of the Shia Muslim barricades in Sadr City,
there are 14 men with automatic rifles. Even the US Marines in
Baghdad are talking of the insults being flung at them. "Go away!
Get out of my face!" an American soldier screamed at an Iraqi
trying to push towards the wire surrounding an infantry unit in
the capital yesterday. I watched the man's face suffuse with rage.
"God is Great! God is Great!" the Iraqi retorted.  "Fuck you!"

The Americans have now issued a "Message to the Citizens of
Baghdad", a document as colonial in spirit as it is insensitive
in tone. "Please avoid leaving your homes during the night hours
after evening prayers and before the call to morning prayers," it
tells the people of the city. "During this time, terrorist forces
associated with the former regime of Saddam Hussein, as well as
various criminal elements, are known to move through the area ...
please do not leave your homes during this time. During all
hours, please approach Coalition military positions with extreme
caution ..."

So now -- with neither electricity nor running water -- the
millions of Iraqis here are ordered to stay in their homes from
dusk to dawn. Lockdown. It's a form of imprisonment. In their own
country. Written by the command of the 1st US Marine Division,
it's a curfew in all but name.

"If I was an Iraqi and I read that," an Arab woman shouted at me,
"I would become a suicide bomber." And all across Baghdad you hear
the same thing, from Shia Muslim clerics to Sunni businessmen,
that the Americans have come only for oil, and that soon -- very
soon -- a guerrilla resistance must start. No doubt the Americans
will claim that these attacks are "remnants" of Saddam's regime or
"criminal elements". But that will not be the case.

Marine officers in Baghdad were holding talks yesterday with a
Shia militant cleric from Najaf to avert an outbreak of fighting
around the holy city. I met the prelate before the negotiations
began and he told me that "history is being repeated". He was
talking of the British invasion of Iraq in 1917, which ended in
disaster for the British.

Everywhere are the signs of collapse. And everywhere the signs
that America's promises of "freedom" and "democracy" are not to
be honoured.

Why, Iraqis are asking, did the United States allow the entire
Iraqi cabinet to escape? And they're right. Not just the Beast of
Baghdad and his two sons, Qusay and Uday, but the Vice-President,
Taha Yassin Ramadan, the Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz,
Saddam's personal adviser, Dr A K Hashimi, the ministers of
defence, health, the economy, trade, even Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf,
the Minister of Information who, long ago, in the days before
journalists cosied up to him, was the official who read out the
list of executed "brothers" in the purge that followed Saddam's
revolution -- relatives of prisoners would dose themselves on
valium before each Sahaf appearance.

Here's what Baghdadis are noticing -- and what Iraqis are
noticing in all the main cities of the country. Take the vast
security apparatus with which Saddam surrounded himself, the
torture chambers and the huge bureaucracy that was its foundation.
President Bush promised that America was campaigning for human
rights in Iraq, that the guilty, the war criminals, would be
brought to trial. The 60 secret police headquarters in Baghdad
are empty, even the three-square-mile compound headquarters of
the Iraqi Intelligence Service.

I have been to many of them. But there is no evidence even that
a single British or US forensic officer has visited the sites
to sift the wealth of documents lying there or talk to the ex-
prisoners returning to their former places of torment. Is this
idleness. Or is this wilful?

Take the Qasimiyeh security station beside the river Tigris.
It's a pleasant villa -- once owned by an Iranian-born Iraqi
who was deported to Iran in the 1980s. There's a little lawn
and a shrubbery and at first you don't notice the three big
hooks in the ceiling of each room or the fact that big sheets
of red paper, decorated with footballers, have been pasted over
the windows to conceal the rooms from outsiders. But across the
floors, in the garden, on the roof, are the files of this place
of suffering. They show, for example, that the head of the
torture centre was Hashem al-Tikrit, that his deputy was called
Rashid al-Nababy.

Mohammed Aish Jassem, an ex-prisoner, showed me how he was
suspended from the ceiling by Captain Amar al-Isawi, who
believed Jassem was a member of the religious Dawa party. "They
put my hands behind my back like this and tied them and then
pulled me into the air by my tied wrists," he told me. "They
used a little generator to lift me up, right up to the ceiling,
then they'd release the rope in the hope of breaking my shoulder
when I fell."

The hooks in the ceiling are just in front of Captain Isawi's
desk. I understood what this meant. There wasn't a separate
torture chamber and office for documentation. The torture
chamber was the office. While the man or woman shrieked in
agony above him, Captain Isawi would sign papers, take
telephone calls and -- given the contents of his bin -- smoke
many cigarettes while he waited for the information he sought
from his prisoners.

Were they monsters, these men? Yes. Are they sought by the
Americans? No. Are they now working for the Americans? Yes,
quite possibly -- indeed some of them may well be in the long
line of ex-security thugs who queue every morning outside the
Palestine Hotel in the hope of being re-hired by the US Marines'
Civil Affairs Unit.

The names of the guards at the Qasimiyeh torture centre in
Baghdad are in papers lying on the floor. They were Ahmed
Hassan Alawi, Akil Shaheed, Noaman Abbas and Moham-med Fayad.
But the Americans haven't bothered to find this out. So Messrs
Alawi, Shaheed, Abbas and Fayad are welcome to apply to work
for them.

There are prisoner identification papers on the desks and in
the cupboards. What happened to Wahid Mohamed, Majid Taha,
Saddam Ali or Lazim Hmoud?A lady in a black chador approached
the old torture centre. Four of her brothers had been taken
there and, later, when she went to ask what happened, she was
told all four had been executed. She was ordered to leave. She
never saw or buried their bodies. Ex-prisoners told me that
there is a mass grave in the Khedeer desert, but no one --
least of all Baghdad's new occupiers -- are interested in
finding it.

And the men who suffered under Saddam? What did they have to
say? "We committed no sin," one of them said to me, a 40-year-
old whose prison duties had included the cleaning of the
hangman's trap of blood and faeces after each execution. "We
are not guilty of anything. Why did they do this to us?

"America, yes, it got rid of Saddam. But Iraq belongs to us.
Our oil belongs to us. We will keep our nationality. It will
stay Iraq. The Americans must go."

If the Americans and the British want to understand the nature
of the religious opposition here, they have only to consult the
files of Saddam's secret service archives. I found one, Report
No 7481, dated 24 February this year on the conflict between
Sheikh Mohammed al-Yacoubi and Mukhtada Sadr, the 22-year-old
grandson of Mohammed Sadr, who was executed on Saddam's orders
more than two decades ago.

The dispute showed the passion and the determination with
which the Shia religious leaders fight even each other. But
of course, no one has bothered to read this material or even
look for it.

At the end of the Second World War, German-speaking British
and US intelligence officers hoovered up every document in the
thousands of Gestapo and Abwehr bureaux across western Germany.
The Russians did the same in their zone. In Iraq, however, the
British and Americans have simply ignored the evidence.

There's an even more terrible place for the Americans to visit
in Baghdad -- the headquarters of the whole intelligence
apparatus, a massive grey-painted block that was bombed by the
US and a series of villas and office buildings that are stashed
with files, papers and card indexes. It was here that Saddam's
special political prisoners were brought for vicious
interrogation -- electricity being an essential part of this --
and it was here that Farzad Bazoft, the Observer correspondent,
was brought for questioning before his dispatch to the hangman.

It's also graced with delicately shaded laneways, a creche --
for the families of the torturers -- and a school in which one
pupil had written an essay in English on (suitably perhaps)
Beckett's Waiting for Godot. There's also a miniature hospital
and a road named "Freedom Street" and flowerbeds and
bougainvillea. It's the creepiest place in all of Iraq.

I met -- extraordinarily -- an Iraqi nuclear scientist walking
around the compound, a colleague of the former head of Iraqi
nuclear physics, Dr Sharistani. "This is the last place I ever
wanted to see and I will never return to it," he said to me.
"This was the place of greatest evil in all the world."

The top security men in Saddam's regime were busy in the last
hours, shredding millions of documents. I found a great pile
of black plastic rubbish bags at the back of one villa, each
stuffed with the shreds of thousands of papers. Shouldn't they
be taken to Washington or London and reconstituted to learn
their secrets?

Even the unshredded files contain a wealth of information. But
again, the Americans have not bothered -- or do not want -- to
search through these papers. If they did, they would find the
names of dozens of senior intelligence men, many of them
identified in congratulatory letters they insisted on sending
each other every time they were promoted. Where now, for
example, is Colonel Abdulaziz Saadi, Captain Abdulsalam Salawi,
Captain Saad Ahmed al-Ayash, Colonel Saad Mohammed, Captain
Majid Ahmed and scores of others? We may never know. Or perhaps
we are not supposed to now.

Iraqis are right to ask why the Americans don't search for this
information, just as they are right to demand to know why the
entire Saddam cabinet -- every man jack of them -- got away.
The capture by the Americans of Saddam's half-brother and the
ageing Palestinian gunman Abu Abbas, whose last violent act was
18 years ago, is pathetic compensation for this.

Now here's another question the Iraqis are asking -- and to
which I cannot provide an answer. On 8 April, three weeks into
the invasion, the Americans dropped four 2,000lb bombs on the
Baghdad residential area of Mansur. They claimed they thought
Saddam was hiding there. They knew they would kill civilians
because it was not, as one Centcom mandarin said, a "risk free
venture" (sic). So they dropped their bombs and killed 14
civilians in Mansur, most of them members of a Christian family.

The Americans said they couldn't be sure they had killed Saddam
until they could carry out forensic tests at the site. But this
turns out to have been a lie. I went there two days ago. Not a
single US or British official had bothered to visit the bomb
craters. Indeed, when I arrived, there was a putrefying smell
and families pulled the remains of a baby from the rubble.

No American officers have apologised for this appalling killing.
And I can promise them that the baby I saw being placed under a
sheet of black plastic was very definitely not Saddam Hussein.
Had they bothered to look at this place -- as they claimed they
would -- they would at least have found the baby. Now the craters
are a place of pilgrimage for the people of Baghdad.

Then there's the fires that have consumed every one of the city's
ministries -- save, of course, for the Ministry of Interior and
the Ministry of Oil -- as well as UN offices, embassies and
shopping malls. I have counted a total of 35 ministries now
gutted by fire and the number goes on rising.

Yesterday I found myself at the Ministry of Oil, assiduously
guarded by US troops, some of whom were holding clothes over
their mouths because of the clouds of smoke swirling down on
them from the neighbouring Ministry of Agricultural Irrigation.
Hard to believe, isn't it, that they were unaware that someone
was setting fire to the next building?

Then I spotted another fire, three kilometres away. I drove to
the scene to find flames curling out of all the windows of the
Ministry of Higher Education's Department of Computer Science.
And right next to it, perched on a wall, was a US Marine, who
said he was guarding a neighbouring hospital and didn't know who
had lit the next door fire because "you can't look everywhere at

Now I'm sure the marine was not being facetious or dishonest --
should the Americans not believe this story, he was Corporal Ted
Nyholm of the 3rd Regiment, 4th Marines and, yes, I called his
fiancée, Jessica, in the States for him to pass on his love --
but something is terribly wrong when US soldiers are ordered
simply to watch vast ministries being burnt by mobs and do
nothing about it.

Because there is also something dangerous -- and deeply
disturbing -- about the crowds setting light to the buildings
of Baghdad, including the great libraries and state archives.
For they are not looters. The looters come first. The arsonists
turn up later, often in blue-and-white buses. I followed one
after its passengers had set the Ministry of Trade on fire and
it sped out of town.

The official US line on all this is that the looting is revenge
-- an explanation that is growing very thin -- and that the
fires are started by "remnants of Saddam's regime", the same
"criminal elements", no doubt, who feature in the marines'
curfew orders. But people in Baghdad don't believe Saddam's
former supporters are starting these fires. And neither do I.

The looters make money from their rampages but the arsonists
have to be paid. The passengers in those buses are clearly being
directed to their targets. If Saddam had pre-paid them, they
wouldn't start the fires. The moment he disappeared, they would
have pocketed the money and forgotten the whole project.

So who are they, this army of arsonists? I recognised one the
other day, a middle-aged, unshaven man in a red T-shirt, and
the second time he saw me he pointed a Kalashnikov at me. What
was he frightened of? Who was he working for? In whose interest
is it to destroy the entire physical infrastructure of the
state, with its cultural heritage? Why didn't the Americans
stop this?

As I said, something is going terribly wrong in Baghdad and
something is going on which demands that serious questions be
asked of the United States government. Why, for example, did
Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defence, claim last week that
there was no widespread looting or destruction in Baghdad? His
statement was a lie. But why did he make it?

The Americans say they don't have enough troops to control the
fires. This is also untrue. If they don't, what are the hundreds
of soldiers deployed in the gardens of the old Iran-Iraq war
memorial doing all day? Or the hundreds camped in the rose
gardens of the President Palace?

So the people of Baghdad are asking who is behind the destruction
of their cultural heritage: the looting of the archaeological
treasures from the national museum; the burning of the entire
Ottoman, Royal and State archives; the Koranic library; and the
vast infrastructure of the nation we claim we are going to create
for them.

Why, they ask, do they still have no electricity and no water?
In whose interest is it for Iraq to be deconstructed, divided,
burnt, de-historied, destroyed? Why are they issued with orders
for a curfew by their so-called liberators?

And it's not just the people of Baghdad, but the Shias of the
city of Najaf and of Nasiriyah -- where 20,000 protested at
America's first attempt to put together a puppet government on
Wednesday -- who are asking these questions. Now there is
looting in Mosul where thousands reportedly set fire to the pro-
American governor's car after he promised US help in restoring

It's easy for a reporter to predict doom, especially after
a brutal war that lacked all international legitimacy. But
catastrophe usually waits for optimists in the Middle East,
especially for false optimists who invade oil-rich nations with
ideological excuses and high-flown moral claims and accusations,
such as weapons of mass destruction, which are still unproved.
So I'll make an awful prediction. That America's war of
"liberation" is over. Iraq's war of liberation from the
Americans is about to begin. In other words, the real and
frightening story starts now.

US forces behind anarchy in Iraq: Pak analyst

IRNA, April 17, 2003 [23:23]

A former top ranking official of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence
(ISI) alleged on Thursday that the US was fanning anarchy to achieve its
sinister motives in Iraq.

In an interview with "IRNA" here, Colonel (Retd.) Sultan Amir Imam said
that behind fanning chaos and lawlessness, the US wanted to achieve its
well defined "objectives" in Iraq and later in the region.

Amir Imam, an ex-key member of ISI's Strategic Wing, stated US-led
forces, on the one hand were bent upon destruction of remaining
infrastructure across the country. While on the other, he added, the
invaders had occupied Iraq's oil resources.

"It appears, America wants to enslave the people of Iraq for a long
time. With the same objective, conspiracies are already being hatched
to encourage division of the country," he pointed out.

The analyst continued that under a plan, the US would like to divide
Iraq into three parts: One comprising Sunni Muslims, the second Shiite
Muslims and the third Kurds.

Division of Iraq, he noted, could serve America's political and economic
interests in the region in a far better manner for which the invader
could go to any limit.

Taking the United Nations as one of the hurdles in realization of its
designs, Amir Imam stated that the US weakened and bypassed the world
body and also would not tolerate any threat to its interests by the
regional countries.

"American leadership is opposed to any country in the Middle East and
the Persian Gulf that may at some stage pose challenge to Israel," he
said, adding the action against Iraq and threats to Syria and Iran were
part of the same game plan.

He also cited Hezbollah factor behind US threats to Damascus and Tehran
as Israel considers Hezbollah guerillas as a hurdle to its expansionist

Washington would like to see end to Hezbollah threat to Tel Aviv for
which it could subject Syria to aggression, he cautioned and added such
an option would immensely benefit the Zionist regime.

To a question, the analyst maintained that with the invasion of Iraq,
the US had embarked on a plan of action to remove all hurdles in the
way of Israel. He made mention of US support to some elements that
could be handy in realization of its 'objectives'.

However, he cautioned that US always moved quickly to eliminate all
those who provided support to her, making sure there is no clue
available to its conspiracies.

In this context, he mentioned the instance of former Iraqi President
Saddam Hussain, who was encouraged and supported to wage an eight-year
long war with Iran and then to invade Kuwait.

"Saddam was targeted after Washington found he was no more of any
significance to serve its interests," the analyst added.

Jordanian volunteers: Baghdad's fall was a ‘deal'

Al Bawaba, 17-04-2003, 14:46

Testimonies recently heard by Al Bawaba from homebound Jordanians
who fought in Iraq as volunteers [Mujahideen] revealed some aspects
of a possible ‘deal' that may have been concluded by the Iraqi
commander of the Republican Guard General Maher Al Tikriti, and the
US forces. The alleged agreement led to the staged ‘defeat' of
Baghdad by coalition forces in return for the commander's safety,
after he was ‘sure' that his cousin - Saddam Hussein - had concluded
a much larger one guaranteeing his safety as well.

The same eyewitnesses told Al Bawaba about the fierce fighting they
were engaged in [against US forces] on April 9, while the Iraqi
forces were retreating from their positions in and around the city
[of Baghdad] after they had received orders to stop fighting and
hand over any remaining Arab volunteer fighters to American forces.

"We were shocked by the sudden fall [of Baghdad] -- which we never
imagined," one Jordanian volunteer said, while another added, "all
the Arab fighters - which the former regime claimed to have been
in the thousands - had no clue about what was happening around
them, and in the end, every one of them [the volunteers] was trying
to save himself -- by avoiding getting captured by American soldiers."

"Later on," one volunteer said, "things started to become clearer,
and it was apparent that an agreement was reached between the
Americans and Saddam's cousin, General Maher al Tikriti, commander
of the Republican Guard unit in Baghdad." The General was given the
responsibility of protecting Baghdad by blowing its bridges and
blocking possible routes that the invading US forces may use.

Volunteers fought alone

According to one account, the Iraqi forces left Baghdad early the
morning of April 9. "There were no Republican Guards, no Fedayeen
Saddam or any other Iraqi official for that matter. No armed men
were available to face the invading US forces except what remained
of the Arab volunteers -- who were deserted," said one of the men,
adding "they left us exposed -- we were exposed and even attacked
by the retreating Iraqi forces."

"I woke up at dawn on April 9 to discover that the Iraqi armed
forces have withdrawn from their positions without notifying
the Arab volunteers - who were left on the frontlines of the
battlefield -- most of us were from Syria, Egypt, Jordan and
Lebanon," a Jordanian volunteer said. He went on by saying that
"the Arab fighters' main objective became one of saving themselves,
especially after discovering that the Iraqi forces have also agreed
[in their alleged ‘deal'] to open fire at them "which is perhaps
due to American fear that such ‘unorganized' resistance could be
faced elsewhere in Iraq."

Another volunteer said he saw Fedayeen Saddam "running while
retreating from their positions." He added that "he could not
believe himself when he saw Iraqi soldiers shooting at a group of
Arab volunteers who were taking positions near one of the bridges,
killing many of them." "The overall assessment," he said, "was
that most of the Arab volunteers were killed either by Iraqi or
American bullets. The remaining survivors were left to fall as
victims in the hands of some Iraqis [civilians] who viewed them
as supporters of a dead regime."

Al Tikriti's deal

The stories of most of these witnesses seem very similar and
equally stunning, as was the fall of Baghdad on April 9.

According to some diplomatic sources, there have been reports
about communication between the Americans and both leaders of
the Republican Guard as well as the Commanders of Saddam's
Fedayeen at top levels, prior to the war and unbeknownst to the
Iraqi leader and his sons -- Uday and Qusay, who were put in
charge of this large military outfit. The reports detailed that
initial American communication with General Tikriti failed,
however when the general had not heard from his cousin (Saddam
Hussein) following the announcement of a US aerial bombardment
of a Baghdad building (that purportedly claimed the lives of
Saddam, his two sons and other aides) he came to his own
conclusion about Saddam's whereabouts. According to the
reports, al-Tikriti did not believe the American account and
suspected that Saddam might have left Iraq for another country.
The report added that al-Tikriti perceived this a result of a
‘deal' concluded between the Russians and the US, and that
Saddam left Iraq (possibly with the Russian ambassador to Syria
and then to Moscow). Al-Tikriti's fear of being the scapegoat
was what eventually drove him to talking to the Americans,
which resulted in a ‘ceasefire' between the two sides and a
release from military duty for the Republican Guard troops
fighting under him. (

Saddam Sealed Betrayal Deal: Iraqi Diplomat

by Hadi Yahmid, IslamOnline, 17.04.2003 [01:25]

PARIS, April 16 ( & News Agencies) - The U.S. occupation
of Baghdad is the result of eight-hour tough negotiations held by the
members of the Iraqi regime, who decided to give up Baghdad to the U.S.
in return for providing safe haven for the Iraqi president and his top
aides, an Iraqi diplomat in Paris told, but refused to
be named.

"The Americans ensured the safety of Saddam Hussein and helped him
leave Baghdad," the diplomat said.

On the whereabouts of the Iraqi president, the diplomat said: "It is
still unknown -- Saddam left Iraq for an unknown destination."

Asked about the reasons that drove the Iraqi regime to give up Baghdad,
he said that the "scenario of giving up the city to the enemy was drawn
up even before the U.S.-led war," noting that Saddam's mistrusted his
elite Republican Guard.

"He was also fully aware of the fact that the Americans would take
Baghdad sooner or later," he asserted.

"Some Iraqi military units in Basra received orders that it was not
worth fighting off the U.K. troops," he said.

On the gritty resistance that was put up by some Iraqi fighters, the
diplomat said those fighters defied orders and took up their arms to
fight off the U.S.-led troops.

"As for the Arab volunteers, they were in the dark and found themselves
all of a sudden alone in the battlefield after Iraq's regular troops
had taken to their heels," he added.

The disappearance of the Iraqi army in Baghdad, no doubt, has become
the troubling question now and the talk of many people, who believe
that the Iraqi army vanished into thin air.

On April 9, Mohammed Abdul Salam, a military expert at Al-Ahram Centre
for Political and Strategic Studies (ACPS), told that
"the cakewalk entrance of the U.S. troops into the heart of Baghdad"
can be explained in accordance with three likely scenarios.

One of them, he said, has to do with a deal hammered out between the
leaders of the Republican Guard to lay down their arms without

Iran won't recognize U.S.-led Iraq government

USA Today, April 17, 2003

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said Wednesday his country
will not recognize a U.S.-installed interim administration in
Iraq and will support Syria if it is attacked.

It was the first time a senior official had defined Iran's
already well-known stance on a postwar Iraq.

"We will not recognize any administration other than an all Iraqi
government. However, we are not seeking tension or confrontation
with anybody," Khatami told reporters after a Cabinet meeting.

On Tuesday, retired U.S. Gen. Jay Garner, chosen by the United
States to lead the interim administration, opened a conference
in Ur, Iraq, with the goal of shaping Iraq's postwar government.

"The Iraqi nation will not accept any foreign rule," Khatami said.
"It is in the interests of morality, civility and international
law that an administration representing all Iraqi ethnic,
religious groups take over in Iraq and in the long term a
government is elected on the basis of one vote for each Iraqi

In the first official Iranian comment on U.S. claims that Syria
was hosting members of Saddam Hussein's regime, Khatami said the
rhetoric was a "bluff" and that Iran would support Syria if

"Syria is on the front line against Zionist pressures, defending
the cause of the Palestinian nation, freedom and peace in the
region. We will defend Syria but it doesn't mean we will engage
in military confrontation," he said.

The U.S. administration has accused Syria of harboring remnants
of Saddam's toppled regime, supporting terrorism and possessing
chemical weapons, raising fears that Syria is America's next

Khatami said the United States must learn to respect other nations
and live with them in peace.

"Their (U.S.) interests also require that they give up (bullying)
methods and live with the world in peace," he said.

Khatami called on the United States to avoid tension with Iran.

"We have big problems with America. But we don't welcome tensions
either. If we feel they are changing their behavior, then a new
situation may emerge (in our relations)," he said.

Meanwhile, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the
failure of the Iraqi Republican Guards in defending their country
against U.S.-led coalition forces would remain "an eternal
disgrace," state-run Tehran television reported.

"The world always pays tribute to defenders who resist, even if
they are defeated by the enemy, but is ashamed of their humiliating
surrender," the television quoted Khamenei as saying.

Russia eyes East Asian arms market

By Alan Boyd, The Asia Times, April 18, 2003

SYDNEY - Russia is stepping up diplomatic efforts to secure a bigger
foothold in the flourishing East Asian weapons trade as it quietly
capitalizes on the region's ambivalence toward the US-led invasions
of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam are among the targets of a
marketing blitz aimed at winning new friends for Moscow and restoring
defense industries that straddled the world during the Soviet era but
are now in serious decline.

Drawn up in the mid-1990s but disrupted by the 1997 Asian economic
crisis, the strategy has been revived as part of a redefining of
Russian security interests, as planners confront post-Cold War
uncertainties and shifting alliances.

Analysts say Moscow is keen to establish a foothold in Southeast
Asia, and to even court traditional US allies farther to the north,
to counter China's billowing economic influence and defuse a
multitude of threats to its own borders.

"Essentially they are picking up where they left off in 1997, but
with the added challenge [of] responding to global terrorism tensions
in a regional context," said a Western European diplomat. "Undoubtedly
the transfer of military technology is a core instrument of Russian
diplomatic policy, as it was right through the communist era, and of
course it was particularly the case from Asia's perspective."

East Asia is of strategic interest to Russian planners because of
its growing economic clout and the disenchantment evident in much of
the Islamic world with Washington's aggressive foreign policies.

President Megawati Sukarnoputri of Indonesia, the fiercest critic
of US intervention in Iraq, will visit Moscow next week for bilateral
talks that are expected to touch on the possible acquisition of
fighter jets, air defense systems and helicopters. Jakarta has been
denied US weapons since 1999 in retaliation for its poor human-rights
record in East Timor and other restive provinces. Conservative
legislators in Washington have blocked Indonesia's efforts to have
the blockade lifted.

Malaysia, another predominantly Muslim state, signed a US$48 million
contract last April for multi-role fighter aircraft that will be
delivered during the next three years from a joint Russia-Indian
plant. Already equipped with Russian MiG-29 fighter jets, Kuala
Lumpur is believed to be considering other acquisitions from Russia,
ranging from battlefield tanks to submarines and missile batteries.

Vietnam, a staunch ally from the Soviet era, purchased several
patrol boats last year and relies heavily upon Russian technicians
to refurbish its mostly 1970s military technology, including jets,
tanks and artillery.

Even Thailand, the closest US ally in Southeast Asia, is considering
buying Russian equipment as an alternative to the equally cheap
Chinese weapons, which are generally of poor quality and have not
lived up to pre-sale expectations.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra led a delegation of service chiefs
to Moscow in October that revealed a different ploy by cash-strapped
Russia to open up new markets: barter exchanges. "They have offered
to repay a $70 million obligation from purchases of Thai rice with
a package of satellite technology and military equipment, and the
purpose of the visit was to evaluate the equipment. There is no
commitment to buy weapons, as this was an exploratory trip,"
Defense Minister General Thammarak Isarangkura na Ayudhaya said on
his return.

Russia already matches the US deliveries of artillery, armor and
helicopters to the Asia-Pacific region, but lags badly in sales of
missiles, supersonic fighters and other more advanced military

Economic difficulties forced sharp cutbacks in military budgets
between 1997 and 2000, but Russian producers still managed to sell
350 tanks and 20 pieces of towed artillery, compared with 93 and six
units respectively for US suppliers. Each country supplied about 50

Only China and a scattering of European suppliers challenged the US
in missile deliveries. The Chinese, ironically dependent on Russian
expertise for much of their military know-how, were the biggest source
of anti-ship missiles, but trailed the US in supplies of surface-to-air

China re-entered the Russian arms market in 1994, reluctantly
putting aside three decades of ideological differences to forge a
loose diplomatic pact with Moscow as a hedge against US expansionism.

During the Cold War it was ideology that largely determined the
pattern of Asian weapons shipments, as Moscow armed the Vietnamese
against US forces and the Indians against Chinese-backed Pakistan,
while staging a misjudged occupation of Afghanistan to counter the
spread of Islamic fundamentalism.

Both the scope and penetration of Russian export shipments remain
limited, with India and China together accounting for more than 70
percent of Moscow's acknowledged global weapons sales of $4.8 billion
in 2001.

Although the tally was $1 billion more than the previous post-Soviet
record, registered in 1999-2000, it represented a market share of
only about 12 percent and was a mere one-fourth of Russian sales in
the late 1980s. By comparison, the United States sold $13 billion
worth of arms in 2001 for a 50 percent market share, benefiting from
the weakening of the dollar against other major currencies and its
technological edge over the crippled Russian military establishment.

Hamstrung by the loss of non-Russian plants after the breakup of the
Soviet Union, and an unpaid claim of $880 million on the government
from previous transactions, the 1,700 defense contractors are not
geared up to compete in export markets.

"The Russian defense industry was mainly developed to meet the
demand of the Soviet armed forces and Warsaw Treaty Organization
allies. After the end of the Cold War the dramatic reduction in
orders for equipment from the Russian Ministry of Defense created
a crisis in the defense industry and dependence on exports -
previously relatively low - increased dramatically," said Dr Ian
Anthony, an analyst at the Stockholm International Peace Research
Institute (SIPRI).

President Vladimir Putin, anxious to restore Russia's flagging
international prestige, is credited with the exports strategy, which
is based around higher production subsidies and the coordination of
more private sales through state marketing mechanisms.

He also brought back the time-honored Soviet practice - also widely
pursued by the United States and its allies - of using military
hardware as a diplomatic lever, often coupled with transfers of
energy and transport fields technology.

As the exports focus spreads to other regions, it is no longer clear
whether shipments are being driven by commerce or ideology.

Weapons have found their way to unstable regimes in Myanmar, Iran,
Syria, Libya, Yemen and much of Central America, as well as less-
volatile but smaller partners such as Greece, Bangladesh and Algeria.

Washington has charged that Moscow broke a United Nations embargo on
military sales to Iraq, equipping Baghdad's forces with night-vision
goggles and anti-missile defense systems that were later used against
US troops. Iran alone has taken delivery of more $3 billion worth of
military hardware, including submarines that some analysts fear could
one day be used against Asian oil tankers passing through the Strait
of Hormuz.

Moscow has also provided Iran with a nuclear reactor, and the US
Central Intelligence Agency says it has proof that Russia is supplying
ballistic-missile technology to Iran, Libya and Iraq, as well as China.

China's weapons-modernization program is causing particular unease as
it threatens the supremacy of the US warships that might be needed to
prevent a blockade of Taiwanese ports if Beijing reacts to resurgent
pro-independence sentiment in the renegade province.

Last year Beijing purchased eight Kilo-class submarines fitted with
missiles, two Sovremenny destroyers and two 300 FM surface-to-air
missile systems with a total value of $3.1 billion, according to
Russian data.

With an estimated expenditure of $40 billion annually since 1998,
China is now believed to be matching Japan's military budget, though
official data are much lower. This is more than the entire annual
budget of the 10 Southeast Asian countries.

"Our primary concern is the enhanced ability of the PLA [People's
Liberation Army] to penetrate and perhaps even neutralize US Pacific
Fleet defenses using the more sophisticated Russian ballistic missile
technology, in which case would be looking at a destabilizing [effect]
beyond the immediate region," said a US diplomat. "There are protocols
for transacting military hardware in what we refer to as unstable
regions. It is our contention that Moscow, whether motivated by
commercial or other objectives, is not adhering to the spirit of
these protocols."

South Asia and the Korean Peninsula also pose long-term risks of
destabilization from the influx of Russian arms, while there is a
secondary threat that weapons could find their way to insurgents in
the Indonesian archipelago, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. North Korea has
little convertible currency and spent a modest $2 billion annually
on defense in 1998-2002, ranking ahead of only Vietnam, Indonesia
and the Philippines. However, it is believed to be bartering
commodities for Russian weapons.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov admitted during a visit to
South Korea this week that Russian order books for weapons shipments
had increased sharply since Middle East tensions began to rise.
"There is no doubt that the war in Iraq has fueled the arms race not
only in North Korea but in all of the world," he told Interfax, the
Russian news agency.

"As a result of the Iraq war and the accusations of illegal Russian
arms deliveries to Baghdad, applications for Russian weapons systems
have soared ... over the past month. Thank you for the free
advertisement," Ivanov added.


    For the movement, the relevant question is not, "Can we
    work through the political system?", but rather, "Is
    the political system one of the things that needs to be
    fundamentally transformed?"

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