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    World News
4/14/03 - 4/20/03

Sunday  4/20/03

US bars access to oil ministry, power plant  4/20/03 Al Jazeera: "Meanwhile, employees of a major Baghdad power plant were also bewildered by the presence of several explosive devices planted around the Jameela facility, which supplies one third of the capital’s electricity. Trip-wire detonators could be seen strung across doorways inside the building, and packs of ready meals (MRE), trademark of western military forces, were visibly scattered across the floor. Plant director Nasser Hussein expressed serious concern over the work stoppage. The landmines, he said were intended to control rather than destroy the premises. “We are ready, but we have one problem. The mines, which the Americans have planted to control the Jameela plant, will hamper the distribution of electricity in all parts of the city and will deny the citizens this service.” "

Graham in Iraq Will Be Adding Insult to Injury  4/20/03 Arab News: "Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham and an avid preacher of the new-style Christian fundamentalism, is coming to town… Graham is anti-Islam. He does not make any excuses for it. He called Islam a “very evil and wicked religion.” Graham, like his fellow American preachers, is stubbornly ignorant of history and other religions."

3 US Soldiers Injured  4/20/03 Dawn, Pakistan: "Three American soldiers were injured when a United States military helicopter was struck by ground fire while on a reconnaissance flight in Balochistan on Friday, security officials told AFP. The incident occurred in the Loti mountains, 450km south of here on Friday evening, they said."

Israel wants to extricate remaining Iraqi Jews  4/20/03 Haaretz: ""The message we are getting from the Americans," the Israeli officials said, "is that there is no immediate danger. Give us a week or two in order to stabilize the situation and then we will see, they are saying." Another problem that the organizers in Israel are facing is the lack of willingness on the part of the Iraqi Jews to leave the country for Israel. This appears to be the message that the Jewish Agency, the Mossad and third parties are receiving from the community." - but this move is required in order to counter rising Arab demographics in Israel.

Anthrax, chemicals and nerve gas: who is lying? Growing evidence of deception by Washington  4/20/03 Independent, UK: "The timing of the nuclear allegation was crucial in persuading the US Congress to grant President Bush full war powers against Iraq a few weeks later. Several angry congressmen who voted in favour now want to know how and why they were misled. "This is a breach of the highest order, and the American people are entitled to know how it happened," Henry Waxman of California wrote to the President last month. "I believed that you had access to reliable intelligence information that merited deference... The two most obvious explanations – knowing deception or unfathomable incompetence – both have immediate and serious implications." "

Iraqi Civilians Face Massive DU Crisis  4/20/03 "Hundreds of tonnes of depleted uranium used by Britain and the United States in Iraq should be removed to protect the civilian population, said the Royal Society, Britain's premier scientific institution, contradicting Pentagon claims it is not necessary."

Illicit Arms Kept Till Eve of War, an Iraqi Scientist Is Said to Assert  4/20/03 NYT: "The Americans said the scientist told them that President Saddam Hussein's government had destroyed some stockpiles of deadly agents as early as the mid-1990's, transferred others to Syria, and had recently focused its efforts instead on research and development projects that are virtually impervious to detection by international inspectors, and even American forces on the ground combing through Iraq's giant weapons plants." So the US went to war to stop an R&D effort?

Juggling War and Peace in Venezuelan Miami  4/20/03 Radio Progresso, Miami: "Because of this situation, most Venezuelan leaders in Miami seem to be interested in portraying Venezuela as a place where “war” is in place and “peace” is a dream. Such analysis doesn’t reflect realities in Venezuela, but it intends to forward narrow-minded political agendas by Venezuelan opposition leaders both in Venezuela and abroad. Such discourse expects to bring more people and groups in Miami together to unite in an “anti-Chavez” front; however, by presenting this Venezuelan picture of chaos, they are diminishing possibilities for Venezuela to attract foreign investment."

Nigeria Awaits President Result, Ruling Party Ahead  4/20/03 Reuters 

America nervous as militant cleric's rallies attract mass support  4/20/03 Telegraph, UK: "Every day, the rallies held by Battle to prevent Chalabi taking power grow bigger. Every day the American marines in the eastern Iraqi town of Kut, close to the Iranian border, become more nervous. Mr Abbas is a militant Shia cleric with an unnervingly fine grasp of the political possibilities of post-war Iraq. Some days ago, he walked into Kut town hall and simply took it over, accompanied by hundreds of supporters, many of whom had crossed the border from Iran. Now thousands attend his meetings, while the marines consult with rival tribal leaders on how to get him out. Yesterday's rally was bigger than ever. As he spoke, Mr Abbas voiced what are quickly becoming the standard demands: an Islamic, Shia-dominated state for Iraq, and an end to American occupation."

German spies offered help to Saddam in run-up to war  4/20/03 Telegraph, UK: "During the meeting, on January 29, 2002, Lt Gen Haboosh says that the Iraqis are keen to have a relationship with Germany's intelligence agency "under diplomatic cover", adding that he hopes to develop that relationship through Mr Hoffner. The German replies: "My organisation wants to develop its relationship with your organisation." In return, the Iraqis offered to give lucrative contracts to German companies if the Berlin government helped prevent an American invasion of the country."

PRESIDENTIAL POLLS:Buhari losing  4/20/03 Vanguard, Nigeria: "The chairman of the Board of Trustees of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Admiral Augustus Aikhomu, says the presidential candidate of his party in yesterday’s polls, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, as well as its governorship candidates should not expect to win as, according to him, the results would be worse for the party than it was in the National Assembly polls. Aikhomu said from his observation, yesterday’s polls results would follow the pattern of the penultimate weekend parliamentary elections. He, however, said ANPP would not come out of the presidential/gubernatorial elections worse off because it neither prepared, nor the people never wanted its candidates but because of the electoral fraud allegedly perpetrated by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)."

Saturday  4/19/03

topSenators, Congressmen put pro-Israel stance in writing  4/19/03 Haaretz: honoring a fellow settler state.

A dangerous groundswell of resentment is building up on the streets of Baghdad  4/19/03 Independent: "And then you remember that you are standing in Baghdad, where nobody has held a free demonstration in more than 25 years. Then you hear a loud noise. It grows as you walk closer to the mosque. By the time you reach the main gate it is a deafening roar. They are shouting slogans forbidden under the secular rule of Saddam, slogans which, if George Bush could hear them, would surely cause him to revolve with anxiety: "With our blood and our souls we will defend Islam." The same slogans rattled the walls of the Shah's palaces in Iran a quarter of a century ago."

Baghdad's banks stripped as US soldiers stand by  4/19/03 Independent: "A wave of brazen bank robberies has swept through the centre of Baghdad in the past few days in full view of the occupying American forces, and the astonishing dimensions are only now becoming clear. A tour of 20 banks in the city by The Independent yesterday found 15 wrecked, torched and looted… Within hours of the marines' deployment at the bank, they shot dead three Iraqi men on the street with their tank's 7.62mm machine-guns. No one knows how many civilians have been shot by American soldiers in Baghdad in similar circumstances. The dead men were not connected with the people raiding the bank." Winning the hearts and mind, like in 'Nam.

Australians found MiGs Iraq never had?  4/19/03 "While it is conceivable that Iraq had a MiG-25PU in service, this would be extremely unlikely. The stranger it is that the only photo of the supposedly captured 51 MiGs shows an aircraft Iraq was not known to have." The Russians know their own planes!

Bush Plans to Ask U.N. to Lift Penalties Against Iraq in Phases  4/19/03 NYT: "The step-by-step approach was described as the latest American tactic to counter assertions by France, Russia and other Security Council members that they would oppose lifting sanctions without a broader role for the United Nations than the one envisioned by Washington."

Pentagon Expects Long-Term Access to Four Key Bases in Iraq  4/19/03 NYT: right up until the choppers take off from the embassy roof in Baghdad.

Speaking their peace - For some celebrities, backing peace has its rewards  4/19/03 SF Chronicle 

Friday  4/18/03

topUS should be "embarrassed" over failure to find WMDs: ex-spies  4/18/03 AFP 

Senior Baath Party official captured; Thousands of Iraqis demand US forces to leave  4/18/03 Al Bawaba: "Meanwhile, thousands of people carrying Korans and waving banners demonstrated outside a Baghdad mosque on Friday demanding the United States leave Iraq. In the first Friday prayers since U.S. tanks drove to the heart of the Iraqi capital last week, Imam Ahmed al-Kubaisi said in his sermon the United States invaded Iraq to defend Israel and denied that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. His followers poured out of the mosque after prayers chanting anti-U.S. slogans and waving banners that read "No to America. No to Secular State. Yes to Islamic State." "

FICKLE 'VICTORY' - It vanishes when you claim it  4/18/03 "A line in the sand, so to speak, was crossed when, the next day, U.S. troops fired directly into a crowd of demonstrators in the northern city of Mosul, killing at least 10. As the unrest continues, the casualties are mounting by the hour. The majority Arab population of the city rose up against the prospect of having Mashaan Juburi – a former commander of Saddam Hussein's personal bodyguards – ensconced by the occupation forces as regional overlord. His Excellency, Lord Juburi, also led the Iraqi military units that crushed a 1991 uprising in the predominantly Shi'a southern portion of the country."

The ever-threatening Shi'ite factor ...  4/18/03 Asia Times: "In particular, Sistani's aides say that Sadr is targeting those Shi'ite leaders with links to neighboring Iran, whom Sadr, according to the aides, seeks to remove from Najaf. Thus they claim that the Jimaat-i-Sadr-Thani supporters went to the ayatollah's house to tell him "leave Najaf because he [was] not Arab". There are suggestions that another high clergy with links to Iran, Sayyed Mohammad Said al-Hakim, has become a target of the violent group. It is believed that he has ties with the Iran-based Supreme Assembly of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SAIRI), led by Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir Hakim."

Syria offers to expel 8 members of Saddam’s inner circle  4/18/03 Debka: "DEBKAfile’ Exclusive sources: Syria offers to expel 8 members of Saddam’s inner circle in a message reaching Washington through Russian intelligence channels. They are former vice president Izzat Ibrahim Al-Douri, Saddam’s bureau chief Abd Hamoud, Baath party boss Aziz Salah, special security service chief Hanni Tefalah, Republican Guards Secretary Kemal Mustafa, Republican Guards Commander Seif A-Din Suleih, Iraqi Intelligence Commander Taher Jaloul and Special Republican Guards commander, Gen. Barzan Suleiman Tikriti. This is Damascus’s first admission to harboring Saddam’s top aides as first exposed in DEBKAfile on April 5. Its language hints at Syrian willingness to discuss extradition."

France and Russia prepare for battle over UN sanctions  4/18/03 Independent, UK: "The French President, Jacques Chirac, also hinted of the battle to come by stressing: "Now it is up to the United Nations to define the modalities of the lifting of sanctions."

A Message From The Amir Of The Mujahideen In Baghdad  4/18/03 Jihad Unspun: "First of all I must carry the salutation of 8000 Mujahideen in Iraq. (n.b. not the Iraqi army but Mujahideen who have come voluntarily from Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Algeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Albania, Bosnia etc) I carry the salutation of the brave who are eager to meet the enemy to die for the sake of Allah (swt)… I will start off by explaining why the Iraqi forces retreated from Baghdad and from all other cities. This is not an issue of defending the soldiers of the Baath Party, as you are all well aware what our stance is regarding the Baath kufr regime, rather a matter to purify the truth (Haq) of the situation. All that happened in this withdrawal was in accordance with our consultation between the leadership of the Mujahideen and the leadership of the Iraqi forces. This after the bombing in Baghdad by the enemy of Allah had intensified to the level that they themselves started to send bombs each one weighing 10 000 tonnes. A new type of bomb was released one that compares to small nuclear type bombs over Baghdad. They (US) used it because it was a new type of bomb that had not been banned internationally and they dare not use Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) because they themselves would not be able to defend themselves against such weapons. After all this we realise they are going to persist in bombing, killing and destroying without desiring to come and fight face to face. After all this we realise the enemy of Allah in the Pentagon is sitting and they do not know what to do. Especially when they faced resistance in Umm Qasr, which is only a small place (consists of 2 roads), and it took them 14 days to take control of 2 small roads."

Baghdad - A Lying Marine  4/18/03 Jihad Unspun: "The Marines have next to nothing to do with restoring power. Neither does the army. Power is being restored by Iraqi power plant workers going back to work, without pay, on their own. The Marines guard the power plants, but otherwise do nothing else. I know this because I saw it with my own eyes."

Venezuelans Protest Cuba Crackdown, Meddling  4/18/03 Reuters 

Roddy Stinson: 'Avoid wearing of uniform' general warns local soldiers  4/18/03 San Antonio Express News: "Because of recent instances of harassment of uniformed personnel, Porr, the commanding general at Fort Sam Houston, felt compelled to warn the men and women who serve under him to use caution when traveling, shopping and dining in San Antonio. "Two separate incidents against military personnel have occurred," Porr reported. "In the first incident, two males on the city's Northeast Side made threatening gestures and pounded on the car window of a drill sergeant and his spouse while they were on their way home. "The second incident involved two sailors, in uniform, who were accosted by several males who said, 'You'd better not go to war,' as they departed a River Walk restaurant." "

Documents link Russia to Saddam  4/18/03 Scotsman, UK: "The most serious allegations concern certificates, bearing the Russian twin-headed eagle, showing that five Iraqis had graduated in spy training from a Moscow organisation called the Special Training Centre. Checks this week show there is no private company by that name - increasing speculation that Iraqi agents attended an official Russian spy school. More documents from the same Baghdad villa - a secret service headquarters - claim Russia passed Iraq a list of freelance hitmen who could be hired for assassinations. Other papers found in the rubble of Iraq’s capital are claimed to detail how Russia passed Iraq details of phone calls between Tony Blair and Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi."

Civilians face health risk after latest use of depleted uranium  4/18/03 Sydney Morning Herald: "Hundreds of tonnes of depleted uranium used by Britain and the United States in Iraq should be removed to protect the civilian population, said the Royal Society, Britain's premier scientific institution, contradicting Pentagon claims it is not necessary. The society's statement fuels the row over the use of depleted uranium (DU), which is an effective tank destroyer and bunker buster but is believed by many scientists to cause cancers and other severe illnesses. The society was incensed because the Pentagon had claimed it that had the backing of the society in saying DU was not dangerous."

Chalabi's fighters accused of lawlessness  4/18/03 Telegraph, UK: as usual, the US associates itself with the criminal element. And this is published in a conservative UK newpaper.

Thursday  4/17/03

topIsrael: the ultimate winner  4/17/03 AL Ahram 

Exiled Shiite Chief: Iraqis Should Rebel  4/17/03 AP: "The exiled leader of the biggest Iraqi opposition group called Thursday on Iraqis to converge in the Shiite holy city of Karbala to oppose a U.S.-led interim administration and defend Iraq's independence. Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution of Iraq, chose the southern Iraqi city and the date next Tuesday because of their connections to Hussein, the grandson of Islam's Prophet Muhammad and one of Shiite Islam's most revered heroes."

U.S. Troops Accused of Killing Iraqis  4/17/03 AP: "Anarchy and violence in Iraqi's third-largest city have drawn U.S. Marines into confrontations for two straight days, and hospital officials said 17 Iraqis died and at least 17 others were injured. The U.S. Central Command, while acknowledging a gunbattle on Tuesday, had no immediate comment on a second day of violence reported Wednesday by Mosul residents and hospital personnel. Hospitals said 14 people died Tuesday, while U.S. officers put the death toll around seven. Three more Iraqis were reported fatally shot Wednesday and 17 wounded. "They are killing us and no one's talking about it," Zahra Yassin said at a hospital with her wounded son. "We want Saddam back. At least there was security." "

Colombia: Cruz Roja denuncia asalto  4/17/03 BBC Mundo: "El Comité Internacional de la Cruz Roja, CIRC, denunció este miércoles que dos de sus camiones que transportaban ayuda humanitaria fueron asaltados y luego incinerados por un grupo de personas armadas que se identificaron como miembros de la guerrilla de las FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia)."

Something is Going Terribly Wrong - The Army of Occupation  4/17/03 Counterpunch: by Robert Fisk - "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?"

A crusade after all? Plans of some Christians to evangelize as they offer aid pose dilemma for Iraqi reconstruction.  4/17/03 CS Monitor: "As Christian relief agencies prepare to enter Iraq, some have announced their intent to combine aid with evangelization. They include groups whose leaders have proclaimed harshly negative views of Islam. They are also friends of the president. The White House has shrugged its shoulders, saying it can't tell private groups what to do, though legal experts disagree." An accelerant is added to the mix.

NATO to end defense deployment in Turkey  4/17/03 IHT 

U.S. bombed bases of Iranian rebels in Iraq  4/17/03 IHT: "The group, Mujahidin Khalq, has been labeled a terrorist organization by the United States since 1997. But the biggest beneficiary of the strikes will be the Iranian government, which has lost scores of soldiers in recent years to cross-border attacks by the guerrillas, who have sought to overthrow Iran's clerical regime."

Marines shoot seven dead as Mosul spirals out of control  4/17/03 Scotsman: "US MARINES in the chaotic northern Iraqi city of Mosul yesterday admitted shooting dead seven Iraqis and wounding several others during a violent demonstration. As military spokesmen confirmed details of Tuesday’s firefight, there were reports of four more deaths and several wounded yesterday, in another incident involving US forces. Media reports from the city described US soldiers caught in an increasingly anarchic situation. Locals said that in the confusion after Iraqi police opened fire to stop a bank robbery, US troops fired back in their direction. The bank robbers were killed but two children were wounded, their injuries blamed on US gunfire." Trigger happy grunts, just like in 'Nam.

France left out of Iraq stability force  4/17/03 Telegraph, UK: "Denmark's staunchly pro-American prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said that Washington had asked him to put together a 3,000-strong stabilisation force as quickly as possible to patrol Iraqi cities. Mr Rasmussen said that Spain, Italy, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia were ready to help and that others were coming around. Italy has approved the dispatch of 1,000 paramilitary policemen."

Wednesday  4/16/03

topArab world set to foot the war bill  4/16/03 Al Jazeera: "The US-led war on Iraq could cost as much as $1,000 billion in lost production in Arab countries, a UN economic seminar in Beirut warned on Monday."

Pentagon draws fire for preacher engagement  4/16/03 Al Jazeera: "The Bush administration has scored an apparent own goal in its effort to win the hearts and minds of the Arab world. Muslims in the US are outraged that evangelist Reverend Franklin Graham will be preaching on Good Friday to the Defence Department. Graham stirred controversy in 2001 when he called Islam a “very evil and wicked religion.” "

Republican Guard commander cut deal with US forces  4/16/03 Al Jazeera: "The mystery of what happened to the Iraqi Republican Guard defending Baghdad appears to have been solved if a report in today's Le Monde is to be believed. The French daily reports that Maher Sufyan, Commander of the Republican Guard reached an agreement with American forces in which he ordered his forces to surrender in exchange for his transfer via an American Apache helicopter to an undisclosed safe haven."

Syria dominates Middle East agenda  4/16/03 Al Jazeera: "In Iran, where the developments are being viewed with increasing alarm, officials reacted by stating that any US-military action against Syria would be seen as a prelude to action against Iran. Mohsen Rezai, secretary of the Iran’s powerful Expediency Coucil, underlined that any military action against Syria would be unjustified. “If Syria is attacked, Iran should not stay neutral,” he said. The French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin spoke to the US secretary of state, Colin Powell late on Monday and a senior foreign ministry spokesman said on Tuesday that the talks had covered “the escalating war of words between Washington and Damascus.” According to the spokesman, the French foreign minister is stated to have told Powell that the “war in Iraq has sparked a feeling of worry and humiliation in the Arab world.” "

Venezuela has proof Washington was behind failed coup, general  4/16/03 AP: "Army Gen. Melvin Lopez, secretary of Venezuela's National Defence Council, said Tuesday "proof exists" the U.S. administration was involved in the mid-April putsch. He declined to give further details. "We have the evidence," Lopez said during an interview broadcast by Venezuela's state-run television channel. Lopez said three U.S. military helicopters were on Venezuelan territory during the coup."

US Pushes Syria’s Back Against the Wall  4/16/03 Arab News 

US admits Mosul killings  4/16/03 BBC: "Brigadier-General Vince Brooks said US marines and special forces soldiers fired at demonstrators on Tuesday after they came under attack from people shooting guns and throwing rocks. "Fire was indeed delivered from coalition forces, it was lethal fire and some Iraqis were killed as a result, we think the number is in the order of seven and we think there were some wounded as well," he said. A BBC correspondent in the city says Mosul is extremely tense."

Anti-American protests are intensifying in Iraq  4/16/03 China Post: "Anti-American protests intensified here and in southern Iraq on Tuesday, as U.S. forces struggled with the delicate task of rebuilding the country after toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein. Exasperated U.S. military officials tried to hamper the media from covering new demonstrations in Baghdad while some 20,000 people in the Shiite Muslim bastion of Nasiriyah railed against a U.S.-staged meeting on Iraq's future."

Hundreds of U.S. Soldiers Emerge as Conscientious Objectors  4/16/03 Common Dreams 

Embedded Photographer: "I Saw Marines Kill Civilians" by MICHEL GUERRIN for Le Monde  4/16/03 Counterpunch: "With my own eyes I saw about fifteen civilians killed in two days. I've gone through enough wars to know that it's always dirty, that civilians are always the first victims. But the way it was happening here, it was insane." And Americans wonder why 1/3 of the French wanted Saddam to win.

US and France Vie for Iraq's Shiites  4/16/03 Debka, Psyops, Israel: "Fleischer did not quote the two presidents as agreeing that France would not “grant asylum to Iraqi leaders”. Indeed, Chirac turned out to be saying one thing and doing another. According to DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources in the Persian Gulf, the telephone call notwithstanding, the French pressed ahead with their anti-American front, building it across the Arab world, through Iran and inside Iraq. As they spoke, Saddam’s foreign minister Naji Ali Sabri was on a plane bound for Paris - and he was not alone. DEBKAfile’s sources have learned that the Iraqi nuclear scientist Jafer Jafer told his US captors that he too had been bound for Paris for the promised political asylum. But he made the mistake of picking the wrong escape route. To avoid the gridlock set up in Damascus by the teeming high-ranking fugitives from Baghdad, he headed out through Jordan, was recognized in Amman and handed over to the Americans. France’s anti-American program had several more tentacles. As American officials addressed the first meeting of Iraqi opposition and factional leaders at Abraham’s reputed birthplace of Ur near Nasiriyah, French diplomats and intelligence officers landed in Tehran for a day of meetings with Mohamad Bakr Al Hakim, head of the Iran-backed Supreme Assembly for Islamic Revolution in Iraq – SAIRI, who for that reason boycotted the US-sponsored parley. The French visitors were there to persuade the cleric to instruct his followers in Baghdad, Najef, Karbala and Basra to join in founding an anti-American coalition of forces in Iraq. Aware of what the French were up to, Washington arranged for the Kurdish PUK leader Jalal Talabani, a close friend of the Shiite cleric and Iranian leaders, to reach Teheran at the same time as the French contingent. His task was to make sure Al Hakim was not caught up in French toils. They are still talking. Wooed at every hand, 20,000 Iraqi Shiites staged a vocal protest rally in Nasiriyah to shake their fists against the American-sponsored Iraqi opposition leaders and shout “America will not decide for us but the Hawza!” (religious medressa). This surge of activity on Tuesday, April 15 was Act One of the confrontational contest being fought among the United States, Iran, Syria, Iraqi faction leaders and the Lebanese Hizballah for control over Iraq’s largest group, 12 million Shiites. None of the contestants can afford to lose. For America , defeat would mean losing post-Saddam Iraq, meaning that after winning the war against the Saddam regime, the US would lose the country. For France , defeat would mean bankruptcy for its anti-war campaign against Washington, carrying the punishment advised by Rice: the push from valuable and lucrative positions in the Muslim and Arab world. “ It is worth recalling that Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini charted his 1979 Islamic Revolution against the pro-American Shah of Iran from a place of asylum near Paris, after fleeing from Najef, his first place of exile from Iran. Then as now, French leaders placed friendship for the Shiites ahead of ties with the United States."

Pro-Saddam gangs challenge marines' control of Tikrit  4/16/03 Guardian: "Gangs of Arab tribesmen armed with Kalashnikovs and machine guns were still in control of much of Tikrit last night, a day after US marines apparently liberated the town. Hours after the Pentagon announced the war in Iraq was virtually over, Arab youths established their own checkpoint on the edge of Saddam Hussein's former stronghold."

The nightmare scenario: freedom to choose rule by the ayatollahs  4/16/03 Guardian: "About 5,000 Shia Muslims - 20,000, according to one Arab television station - marched through Nassiriya, one of the bigger towns on the banks of the Euphrates, shouting: "No to America, No to Saddam". Like many Iraqis, they are ecstatic that Saddam Hussein has gone but they do not want the US either. They do not refer to "liberation" but to "aggression". One Nassiriya resident said the demonstrators wanted not western-style freedom but government by their ayatollahs."

WMDs out of Mideast: Powell - Exerts pressure on Syria: New U.S. stance creates a potential rift with Israel  4/16/03 National Post, Canada: "The statement heralded a potential divide in Washington's relations with Israel, which has chemical weapons as well as an undeclared arsenal of more than 200 nuclear warheads that it is unlikely to give up."

The Elusive Weapons of Mass Destruction  4/16/03 Pacific News: "It is perhaps for this reason that the White House has been so adept at converting both the Afghanistan and Iraqi conflicts into "wars of liberation." This redefinition of their original purpose may play well with the American public, but it is causing the United States to lose all credibility with Middle Easterners, who see "liberation" as a well-worn code term for "conquest," and the search for weapons of mass destruction as mere pretext for the extension of American hegemony over the region."

Plot to assassinate Imam Jamil suspected  4/16/03 SF Bay View: "We feel that the Imam is in grave danger and should not be returned to the facility run by Warden Hugh Smith. If, through his writings, Warden Smith has the ability to influence a judge, a state prosecutor and a local sheriff, imagine what influence he has over his staff and the inmates at Reidsville? If the warden wrote in such a way as to create so much fear in Sheriff Barrett that she decided to evict a prisoner with no disciplinary problems, who’s to say that Imam Jamil will not encounter others who are equally afraid - and willing to act upon Warden Smith’s instructions to “get rid” of the Imam."

US troops accused of carnage  4/16/03 Sydney Morning Herald: "United States troops opened fire on a crowd hostile to the new pro-American governor in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul yesterday, killing at least 10 people and injuring as many as 100, witnesses and doctors said. The shooting overshadowed the start of US-brokered talks aimed at sketching out a post-Saddam Iraq. At Mosul hospital Dr Ayad al-Ramadhani said the American soldiers had fired into a crowd that was becoming increasingly hostile towards governor Mashaan al-Juburi as he was making a pro-US speech in the city." One more step towards a massive US defeat.

Tuesday  4/15/03

topAt least 10 killed in Mosul shooting, US denies accusations it is to blame  4/15/03 AFP: "At least 10 people were shot dead and scores wounded in the northern Iraqi town of Mosul, a hospital doctor said, with witnesses claiming US troops had opened fire on a crowd after it turned against an American-installed local governor."

Prominent Jewish educator arrested - He protests Pat Robertson appearance  4/15/03 Boston Globe 

Tests rule out suspect bio-labs  4/15/03 CNN: Tom Joyner suggests that the LAPD could help plant the evidence they so clearly need.

Lakota UN Representative: The World Must Resist America's Tyranny  4/15/03 Counterpunch: "United Nations Representative Tony Black Feather, Lakota, said if the world wants to understand the invasion and occupation of Iraq, ask an Indian. "Our territory was liberated by the Americans when gold was discovered in the Black Hills," Black Feather said of the gold rush 153 years ago. The same United States government invading the Middle East assaulted the sovereignty and self-determination of Indian Nations, Black Feather said. "The world must stand together against tyranny." "

The Sacking of Baghdad - Burning the History of Iraq by ROBERT FISK  4/15/03 Counterpunch: "So yesterday was the burning of books. First came the looters, then the arsonists. It was the final chapter in the sacking of Baghdad. The National Library and Archives ? a priceless treasure of Ottoman historical documents, including the old royal archives of Iraq, were turned to ashes in 3,000 degrees of heat. Then the library of Korans at the Ministry of Religious Endowment was set ablaze. I saw the looters. One of them cursed me when I tried to reclaim a book of Islamic law from a boy of no more than 10. Amid the ashes of Iraqi history, I found a file blowing in the wind outside: pages of handwritten letters between the court of Sharif Hussein of Mecca, who started the Arab revolt against the Turks for Lawrence of Arabia, and the Ottoman rulers of Baghdad."

Shias protest at authority granted to tribal leader  4/15/03 Financial Times: "Dozens of agitated young men carrying black flags, symbolising Shia Islam, marched in protest yesterday outside Basra's university hospital, where a conference room is the seat of a newly formed local council. "No, no Mozahem," chanted the crowd, referring to Sheikh Mozahem al-Tamimi, the tribal leader entrusted by British forces to head a local authority. "No Ba'ath and no tribes," said one of the demonstrators. We want the hawza [the religious centre in the holy city of Najaf] to rule us." "

More wars ahead, Americans think  4/15/03 IHT: "There has, not unusually for a president at a time of war, been a jump in Bush's approval rating - it is now at 73 percent - while Americans overwhelmingly approve his handling of foreign affairs. . But there are also indications that at least as of now, the Democrats are not in as strong a position as many had hoped on the issue on which they hope to retake the White House - the economy. . In fact, Americans are exactly divided, 42 percent to 42 percent, on which party would do a better job in managing the economy. And there has been a 7-point jump since January, to 54 percent, in the number of Americans who said they had confidence in Bush's ability to make the right decisions about the economy, even as they express concern about its performance under the president. . The improving view of his capacity to manage the economy might be a function of the overall jump in Americans' view of him because of the battle in Iraq."

Robert Fisk: Would President Assad invite a cruise missile to his palace?  4/15/03 Independent, UK: "So now Syria is in America's gunsights. First it's Iraq, Israel's most powerful enemy, possessor of weapons of mass destruction – none of which has been found. Now it's Syria, Israel's second most powerful enemy, possessor of weapons of mass destruction, or so President George Bush Junior tells us. No word of that possessor of real weapons of mass destruction, Israel – the number of its nuclear warheads in the Negev are now accurately listed – whose Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, has long been complaining that Damascus is the "centre of world terror"."

A New Statement for Ansar Al Islam  4/15/03 Jihad Unspun: "The American planes relentlessly bombarded the locations of Ansar Al Islam for 8 days using bombs that weight several tons which devastated many villages and claimed the lives of civilians and their livestock so that the Talbanis themselves admitted that in one night, 28 American warplanes extensively bombarded a limited Mujahedeen area. The Mujahedeen did not have any weapons that can resist the American brutal shelling because their planes were flying on high altitudes that cannot be attacked by Mujahedeen weapons. Nevertheless, the Mujahedeen resorted to performing several martyrdom operations that cast terror in the hearts of their enemies. In one of these operations an Ansar Al Islam fighter called "Aboul-Hoor" detonated himself in a car inside a location where the Americans and the Talbanis gather. The explosion killed more than 50 including an Australian journalist. In another operation, 5 Mujahedeen penetrated to a joint headquarter for the Americans and the Talbanis. 3 of the Mujahedeen named "Abou-Bassir", "Wria" and "Abou-Gharib" attacked the headquarter with hand grenades and gun fires, and they killed 40, including 15 American soldiers and CIA officers, and injured 75 including 30 Americans. The 3 Mujahedeen martyred while the other 2 returned safely to their locations."

Iran Media Leaks Secret Deal Behind Demise Of Baghdad  4/15/03 Jihad Unspun: "An Iranian news agency close to top conservative military figures attributed the fall of Baghdad to a secret tripartite agreement between Saddam Hussain, Russia and the US. According to the Baztab agency, 13 days after the start of the war, Saddam and Russian intelligence allegedly pledged to hand over Baghdad with minimal resistance to allied forces provided they spared the lives of Saddam and a hundred of his close relatives. The US, for its part, promised to safely send Saddam and his entourage to a third country."

Chávez Beats Forero (Again) - One Year After Venezuela's Counter-Coup, a Winner and a Loser Duel  4/15/03 NarcoNews 

Sen. Graham Urges Possible Missile Attack on Syria  4/15/03 NewsMax: the mad bombers at it again - "In a sharp departure from the cautious stance adopted by most in his party, Democrat presidential hopeful Sen. Bob Graham is urging the Bush administration to consider launching a missile attack on Syria."

Planner of Achille Lauro Hijacking Is Reported Captured  4/15/03 NYT 

Arabs Fear Syria Threats Signal Wider U.S. Targets  4/15/03 Reuters 

Bush, Chirac Discuss Iraq, Syria, Middle East "Road Map"  4/15/03 State Department 

Monday  4/14/03

topNew challenges await Venezuela's Bolivarian Movement  4/14/03 ANNCOL 

Former Sec. of State Lawrence Eagleburger: Bush Should Be Impeached If He Invades Syria or Iran  4/14/03 "If George Bush [Jr.] decided he was going to turn the troops loose on Syria and Iran after that he would last in office for about 15 minutes. In fact if President Bush were to try that now even I would think that he ought to be impeached. You can't get away with that sort of thing in this democracy."

US rejects Iraq DU clean-up  4/14/03 BBC: "It says no clean-up is needed, because research shows DU has no long-term effects."

Amid chaos, Baghdad frustration rises - A new US-approved Iraqi 'mayor' and police chief are named in a bid to stop the looting in the capital.  4/14/03 CS Monitor 

US starts military-build along Iraq's border with Syria  4/14/03 IRNA: "New American troop contingents and heavy military hardware, including A-10 fighter planes, M1 'Abrams' tanks, 'Apache' combat helicopters and massive bomb arsenals, have been secretly deployed in the Iraqi town of Ar-Rutbah ."

US tells Syria to co-operate or risk conflict  4/14/03 Times, UK 

U.S. Allies Also Have Chemical Weapons  4/14/03 Washington Post: "But the list of countries with likely chemical, biological or nuclear weapons programs is not confined to nations Washington may consider hostile. It also includes such U.S. allies as Israel, Egypt, Pakistan, India and Taiwan."


"There is one safeguard known generally to the wise, which is an advantage and security to all, but especially to Democracies as against despots: suspicion." -- Demosthenes

Maps & Weather

A number of maps here

Estimates of the total number of Muslims range from 0.7 to 1.2 billion worldwide and 3 to 6 million in the U.S. About 20% of all people on earth follow Islam. The religion is in a period of rapid growth.

Christianity is currently the largest religion in the world. It is followed by about 33% of all people -- a percentage that has remaind stable for decades. It is expected that, if current trends continue, Islam will become the most popular religion sometime in the mid-21st century.


Death from America

Iraq news: Soaring death rates among Iraqi children, 1999 BBC, UNICEF 500,000 child deaths

Ramsey Clark: Report to UN Security Council re: Iraq, 1/26/2000
1.5 million deaths

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