September 26, 2005
IRAQ: STILL A 'COUNTRY OF CRISES'
** Arab and Turkish outlets focus on "misguided" Tal 'Afar operation.
** Concern about an eventual civil war grows, most pointedly in European papers.
** Significant debate among Iraqi newspapers about the draft constitution
** Papers consider Zarqawi's role after his broadcast call for targeting Iraqi Shia.
A 'campaign of vengeance' in Tal 'Afar-- Some sources argued military operations in Tal 'Afar aimed to prevent Sunnis from participating in the constitutional referendum. Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV stated, "These [operations] are intended to keep the people away." Iraq's anti-coalition Al-Basa'er claimed "known political groups...inflamed the crisis," leading to a "misguided attack" by U.S. forces and Iraqi troops. Turkish outlets called the Tal 'Afar operation a "campaign of vengeance" to "intimidate the world." One Saudi Arabian analyst recommended that the methods used in Tal 'Afar be "reconsidered."
'Sectarian sedition'-- Euro dailies stated that Iraq is "on the brink" of civil war. Germany's left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau judged that terrorists are fueling violence by "widening the rift between Shiites and Sunnis." The British Independent posited that with each "fresh atrocity" the potential for civil war grows. A French analyst said a weak central government is the real problem. Pan-Arab Asharq al-Awsat argued "sectarian groups" cannot "face reality" and are "busy with factional and political affairs." Iraq's independent Al-Mashriq countered that Iraqis are united while Iraqi pro-coalition PUK-affiliated Al-Ittihad stated those calling for violence "want to see [Iraq] destroyed through sectarian war."
Constitution debate rages-- Iraqi outlets addressed issues relating to the constitution. Independent Al-Sabah declared that multiculturalism in Iraq makes it "impossible to reach a consensus," as other papers echoed Al-Ittihad's suggestion for a "national campaign" to "educate people about the articles of the constitution." Independent Al-Qasid argued that Iraq's National Assembly Speaker "should have established committees to explain the importance of the constitution's articles and paragraphs." Ad-Dawa Party-affiliated Al-Bayyan called for constructive "political dialogue." Weekly Dar Al-Salam, affiliated with the Iraqi Islamic Party, clarified that their reasons for "objecting" to parts of the draft constitution "have nothing to do with sectarian circumstances."
Who is Zarqawi and what is his role?-- Al-Bayyan also accused "secular regimes" of "supporting Zarqawi." Other Iraqi outlets contended that Zarqawi's reprisal attacks in Baghdad specifically "target the Shia." SCIRI-affiliated Al-Adala claimed "some associations" have issued "ambiguous statements" about support for Zarqawi. Right-of-center France Soir argued that Zarqawi is trying to make the Tal 'Afar operation look like an "anti-Sunni attack." However, the Hizbullah-affiliated Al-Alam news channel interviewed individuals who argued that Zarqawi "is imaginary, [created by] the occupation forces...to make Iraqis hate one another."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, email@example.com
EDITOR: Sarah Reed
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 75 reports from 24 countries over September 05 - 21, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "Signposting The Exit"
The left-of-center Guardian editorialized (9/21): "The domestic political implications of this turn of events are very great. The timing could not be worse for Tony Blair, forced to defend once again the folly of his support for the U.S. adventure in Iraq just when he was hoping to remind next week's Labor conference of the government's achievements in other fields.... No one is arguing for an immediate pull-out, and Britain must discharge its responsibilities. But events are driving the need for a far clearer route towards a final handover. Thirty months since the invasion, Iraq has lost none of its volatile power to shape the party political battle back home. Mr. Blair should be very worried."
"Britain And Basra"
The conservative Times commented (9/21): "The argument that a military presence must be maintained until absolute security is created for Iraq is unlikely to be sustainable. Absolute security or stability in Iraq is improbable in the short term. What 'security' should mean is that Iraqi soldiers and police officers are able to ensure a satisfactory level of law and order and that there is no danger that terrorists could overthrow a democratic government in Baghdad. Despite the trauma of what occurred in Basra on Monday, progress is being made. It is Britain's responsibility to ensure that Basra is again firmly part of that process."
"Paying The Price For Being Spread Too Thin"
The conservative Daily Telegraph argued (9/21): "After Monday's dramatic events in Basra, the government should not only shelve plans to transfer some of the 8,500 troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. It should reinforce them as the political process edges towards elections under a new constitution. The Army has performed admirably with limited means, but its insufficiency has been thrown into sharp relief by the recent killings and rioting."
"Caught In A Dilemma Of Our Own Making"
The center-left Independent maintained (9/21): "We, like the Americans, are caught in a dilemma. We are both a cause of the problem and a protection against it.... It is a dilemma of our own making, and we must start addressing it honestly. In the end the Iraqis have a better chance of developing a viable state when they are rid of the whole taint of occupation. We need to give a clear signal to the Iraqi population that this is our intention as soon as circumstances allow. That means giving some form of time framework. In the meantime, we must do more to help the Iraqis sort out at least the criminal activity burgeoning beneath the cover of insurrection, and to bring in its neighbors to help with a solution. On this week's evidence, we are failing on all counts."
"Iraq Myths Are Cruelly Exposed"
The conservative tabloid Daily Mail judged (9/21): "Just one thing is certain after Monday. Immediate withdrawal of our forces when the supposedly more peaceful parts of Iraq are in such a febrile state would be dangerously irresponsible. But to shy away from the imperative to debate a clear exit strategy and timetable would be an unforgivable betrayal of the Iraqi people--and of the British soldiers Mr. Blair sent to war on a lie."
"Blair's Only Option In The Gulf Is A Total Withdrawal"
The right-of-center tabloid Daily Express editorialized (9/21): "Tony Blair and George Bush cannot still be clinging to the unrealistic belief that, once they set up the framework of a democracy, the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds will all live contentedly together.... The only other answer as to why the troops remain must be that they are protecting the West's oil supply.... But is it worth putting the lives of our soldiers on the line in an increasingly dangerous and unpredictable war zone to ensure the liquid gold keeps flowing?... The time has come to call a halt to this declining situation. Mr. Blair must tell us at the conference next week when he is bringing our troops home."
"Bring Brits Home Now"
The left-of-center tabloid Daily Mirror concluded (9/21): "Our armed forces did a magnificent job helping to boot out Saddam Hussein, but they can't stay in Iraq forever. And they must not be dragged into the crossfire of a bloody civil war. It's time for Tony Blair to draw up a plan for bringing the battalions home."
"The Ominous Nature Of This Horrific Violence"
The center-left Independent editorialized (9/15): "The final draft of the constitution will...be presented to the United Nations. In a month's time, Iraqis will vote on whether to accept it or not. But how many more Iraqis will have died in that time? And how badly will inter-religious relations have been damaged? Iraqi civil war is not yet inevitable. Inter-marriage between Sunnis and Shias is relatively common in some parts of Iraq. There are still large mixed areas.... But, with each new day of violence, the strength of the moderates is diminished--and, with each fresh atrocity, the chasm of civil war opens a little wider."
"A Deadly Deception"
The left-of-center tabloid Daily Mirror commented (9/15): "The President met understandable skepticism when he told the UN how well the war is going. It clearly isn't, as most nations knew it would not. In large parts of Iraq life is a real struggle two years after Saddam fell.... How the situation can be saved is impossible to know. But Mr. Bush could start by not insulting our intelligence by pretending he is winning."
The right-of-center tabloid Sun held (9/15): "It is barely believable that some countries of the world can witness the events in Iraq and not recognize what they see. The very name United Nations has become a tasteless joke. Will anything good ever come out of this corrupt and shambolic organization?"
FRANCE: "A Commando Operation In Basra"
Adrien Jaulmes wrote in right-of-center Le Figaro (9/21): "The complete impunity which surrounded the delivery of the two British soldiers to the militia by the Iraqi police and the level of street violence against the British tanks suggest that the alleged calm in the Shiite regions of Iraq remains doubtful. The incident is one more worrisome sign of the degrading situation in Basra, which had until now been spared the violence spreading in the rest of Iraq. It also stands as proof of the growing influence of the radical militia led by Moqtada al-Sadr. Because of a situation that is increasingly looking like an Iraqi civil war, because of a central government overwhelmed by events, the Shiites are increasingly turning to religious militia for protection. According to certain sources, the local police forces in Basra are completely controlled by al-Sadr’s men."
"Iraq On The Brink Of Civil War"
Thomas de Rochechouart judged in right-of-center France Soir (9/15): "This latest attack is the last in a long series against the Shiites by groups close to Zarqawi, who wants to plunge the country in civil war.... The political situation in Iraq has led many Sunni leaders to adopt a strategy of chaos. While the Shiites have resisted the Sunnis’ attempts to provoke them, the attack on Tall Afar could be interpreted as an anti-Sunni attack. This is how Zarqawi is presenting the situation in order to incite more and more anger among the Sunnis. And so Iraq, caught in the cycle of attacks and reprisals, is on the brink of a civil war."
Jean Levallois concluded in regional La Presse de la Manche (9/15): "Despite the cruelty of such an acknowledgment, one is tempted to say that there was less death through violence in the days of Saddam. The collateral effects of the war in Iraq are obviously great. Here is a country that was suffering because of measures adopted against it, and which today is being confronted with a super-human task: forcing the cohabitation of groups who obviously do not want to cohabitate."
"Iraq In Search Of Democracy"
Joseph Yacoub in Catholic La Croix (9/12): "Imposing democracy is the opposite of democracy. How can Iraqi society become democratic with a model imposed from the outside, when democracy means by definition power of the people. Who has the authority to impose democracy in Iraq other than its people? One of the conditions for democracy is security. In Iraq, we are very far from having reached security.... If the U.S. believes it can transform Iraq to their specifications, they are mistaken. Iraqi society needs a central government.... Democracy requires certain preambles. The Americans, in their stubbornness, think they can proclaim democracy. They are wrong. And by proclaiming this they are ignoring Iraq’s true problems. Considering Iraq’s past history, Iraq cannot produce a miracle.... Democracy is not a consumer product. It cannot be exported, it must invent itself."
GERMANY: "Occupiers Demonstrate Their Power"
Sonja Hegasy commented in leftist Die Tageszeitung of Berlin (9/21): "The dangerous development between the police forces and the military in the south of Iraq signals two new conflicts. First, the clash took place in the formerly rather quiet Shiite region. The British soldiers had been seen in this area as citizens in uniforms who tried to de-escalate the situation ever since the invasion. This relation was now destroyed. Second, it is no longer a conflict between the so-called insurgents or terrorist groups and the occupying power, but between Iraqi police officers and foreign troops.... Iraq needs a clear political strategy to establish a rule of law; this includes the respect for the executive authorities, such as the police and the prosecutors. The information chaos on the British side does not imply that they went the official path.... Only the strict acknowledgment of the rule of law could pacify the situation in Iraq and establish a sound cooperation between the Iraqis and the occupiers."
"The Terrorist Traps"
Karl Grobe commented in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (9/15): "For a long time, organized terrorists in Iraq moved away from any legitimate political resistance, though the mass murderers, who committed horrendous attacks on innocent children, women and men, use political slogans. They intend to widen the rift between Shiites and Sunnis as much as possible in order to start a civil war. Iraq's political forces must not walk into this perfidious trap. The danger of it is indeed very great. The political and administrative failures of the parties and persons to rebuild Iraq make the bloody business easier for the terrorists. As long as no credible and effective government is in place in Baghdad, the constitution process drags along so sluggishly, and the young state and the foreign troops attack suspected rebel and terrorist centers in such an undifferentiated way, the hope for peace will remain vague."
Dietrich Alexander editorialized in right-of-center Die Welt (9/8): "Saddam, the stubborn and obstinate autocrat, has confessed some of his crimes? That is hard to believe, given that the oppressor has not yet shown any scruples or remorse…. Why should he incriminate himself? Maybe because he is sure he will not avoid the death penalty. Only a few doubt that he, who has killed so many people without charging them, will get the highest penalty. However, Iraq will show whether it is on the path to a civil society by the way it treats its enemies. Kurdish President Talabani's recent words should not be part of public discussion over Saddam's guilt. Talabani should know that his office forbids him to make any comment on pending trials."
Wolfgang Günter Lerch commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (9/8): "The current situation in Iraq cannot be equated with Afghanistan's situation under the Taliban, when terror ruled the country. Under the Taliban, terrorism was not just pursued by persons or groups, who wanted to erase their enemies, but it was a terror system inclined to get worse. Since the Taliban came to power in 1996, they plunged a harsh Islamic country, which ended the freedom of movement and education for women.... Iraq today looks completely different from Afghanistan under the Taliban. Despite the terror and the insecurities parts of the Iraqis feel due to the brutal attacks, a vivid and pluralistic life has emerged in recent years. Although the situation should not be euphemized, one must acknowledge that the region around Basra in southern Iraq is relatively calm, and that the Kurdish leadership in northern Iraq succeeded in creating an economically prospering autonomy.... Terror centers are Baghdad and the so-called Sunni triangle, where an armed 'resistance' of Islamists and former Baath Party followers are gathering around al Qaida leader Zarqawi. But they could not prevent Iraq, which is not a democracy in the western sense, from creating parties, holding a rather 'clean' election on January 30 and drafting a constitution in a difficult process. This draft might not satisfy many, but it is an achievement after all. Iraq knows civil activities Afghanistan could only have dreamt of."
RUSSIA: "Tank Diplomacy"
Aleksey Andreyev said in reformist Novyye Izvestiya (9/21): "With reports about fierce fighting west of Baghdad and incessant terrorist attacks in the north of the country, a conflict between the occupying forces and the local authorities they patronize is fraught with a far deeper political crisis than debates on the future of the constitution. Following the Basra accident, the British must find their position ambiguous. As they hunt down ubiquitous al-Qaida agents, on the one hand, and have to stand up to influential Shia radicals, on the other, they now face a conflict with the local authorities to boot. This is another arrow in the quiver of Prime Minister Tony Blair's political opponents at home who are demanding an early withdrawal of the British troops from Iraq."
AUSTRIA: "Inferno Baghdad"
Senior columnist Ernst Trost argued in mass-circulation tabloid Neue Kronenzeitung (9/15): "The victims' toll must run into three-digit figures in order to make the headlines. Daily violence is part of Iraqi everyday life. Those days where nothing happens for 24 hours are rather unusual. Al-Qaida and the Sunni rebels are inventing more and more variations to conduct their bloody business. Fear is present everywhere and everyone is only waiting for the next inferno. As we saw recently, this constant tension is enough to produce a deadly panic. And the people? To us, they are anonymous and it is rare that we learn something about their individual fates that lends an identity to the dead. Those who are at home in the metropolis at the Tigris know their lives are worth less there than elsewhere on the planet. And there is no silver lining in sight."
"The Logic Of Terror"
Martin Stricker held in independent Salzburger Nachrichten (9/15): "It's sick logic at first glance: because Kurdish and U.S. troops proceed against Sunni extremists at the orders of a Shiite-dominated government, Shiite laborers are dying in Baghdad.... There are indications a civil war is about to begin. And yet, Iraqis are going to vote on their constitution in October. Sunni leaders have rejected it, but are calling on people to participate in the vote. Boycott, like in the parliamentary elections in January, is no longer the order of the day. It is possible that Abu Mussab al Zarqawi's murderers in religious disguise will lose their base and become more and more isolated. That would be the only cause for hope."
BULGARIA: "Iraq Casts Doubt On The Hyperpower’s Capabilities"
The nationalist, occasionally anti-U.S. Monitor commented (9/20): "So the U.S. continues to lose in Iraq.... After giving up on the initial excuses for the war, now Washington is about to give up on making Iraq an example of democracy in the Middle East.... America will have to learn some unpleasant lesson about the global realities after the Cold war. It’s a world that does not tolerate an infinite American hegemony and the achievement of goals thorough military means."
HUNGARY: "Those Gasping For Breath"
Staff writer Tibor Posa wrote in right-of-center Magyar Nemzet (9/10): "In Iraq the new constitution will probably fail in the October referendum because of the resistance of the Sunnis. If this happens, everything has to be started all over again and the Iraqis have fiddled away a year and a half. Four, nine, twelve years--these are the American predictions about the entire withdrawal of troops. The actions of Iraqi rebels are not decreasing, and it cannot be excluded that an extensive civil war will break out."
ROMANIA: "The Geography And Demography Of Terror"
Filon Morar wrote in intellectual weekly Revista 22 (9/7): "It seems we’re living in a new paradigm that defines our century: terrorism. This is the new totem word, a real modern fetish. The new contemporary god is counter-terrorism.… Of course, neither in Europe nor in the U.S. does the magnitude of the phenomenon resemble the one in Iraq, where hardly a day goes by without an attack of some sort. Iraqis have developed…an unnatural and morbid familiarity to terrorism. The trivialization of terrorism in Iraq is the result of this familiarity with chaos, anomy and terror. This situation cannot be found elsewhere in the world as well, even though the media...gives us the impression of a siege and of an immediate and imminent threat.... Everything can be defined as terrorism…: Bush is a terrorist for some, while Zarquawi is a terrorist for others.... In fact, the most horrible thought is that anybody, anywhere, anytime and anyhow can be a terrorist or a victim of terrorism. Terrorism has something democratic in that it makes us all equal in the face of death and is not discriminatory."
SPAIN: "Violence Without Hope"
Left-of-center El País editorialized (9/15): "Far from diminishing, violence seems to be growing in Iraq. The 'ironing' of the city of Tel Afar by U.S. troops and the new Iraqi regular army...seems useless and counterproductive.... Unfortunately, we can consider that yesterday the campaign of al-Qaida and a part of Sunni insurgents began...to try to transform the referendum campaign into a civil war. This may explain why, in August, the number of attacks, especially suicidal ones, decreased, in order to concentrate them on such terrible attacks as those of yesterday.... It is paradoxical that, some hours later, from the rostrum of the UN, George Bush's speech made a turn (in his policy), assuring that we all have to face the symptoms of terrorism, the problems that lead the oppressed to this form of violence, for the war against terrorism 'will not be won by force of arms alone,' but also in 'the battle of ideas.' 'Either hope will spread,' he said, 'or violence will spread.' This is an obviousness that has been pointed out by many, at least since 9/11, and to which Bush has hardly paid attention to until now. But it does not serve much in a day of violence and hopelessness like the one yesterday."
"Terrorism In Iraq"
Conservative ABC commented (9/15): "It is not the 'resistance' that drowns in blood the hope of ordinary people, but terror in its purest state that makes a car-bomb blow up. An important nuance in order not to get lost in semantic questions."
TURKEY: "The Apocalyptic Scenarios"
Derya Sazak commented in mass appeal Milliyet (9/13): "Iraq has turned into a land of debris in the aftermath of 9/11. The referendum is soon to be held in Iraq and the country will have so-called democracy. How will it be possible to go to the ballot boxes while Sunni cities like Tal Afar are under bombardment? Iraq continues to shed its blood in the name of democracy and freedom. It seems that the Bush administration, suffering from domestic weakness due to Katrina, is trying to intimidate the entire world with the Tal Afar operation. It also looks very sad for the U.S. to have so many unfortunate events, including 9/11, as well as having Bush in charge. Sad enough that by his policies, President Bush is harming both his country and the entire world.... Currently the U.S. is using all of its resources to bomb Iraq instead of spending for its own population of poor people. Moreover, all of this is happening as a result of ‘lies’ and a ‘stubborn’ attitude. Former Secretary of State Powell has recently admitted with great regret that he was misled by the CIA prior to the Iraq occupation.... It looks like truly apocalyptic stories will begin to emerge if the secrets of 9/11 are unleashed."
"The U.S., Saudi Arabia And Iraq"
Husnu Mahalli wrote in conservative-sensational Aksam (9/13): "Saudi Prince Bandar will be the new crown prince when Prince Sultan becomes the new king of Saudi Arabia. Serving U.S. interests is their common goal. Given the strong U.S. connection, why should we believe that the U.S. genuinely wants to bring democracy to Saudi Arabia? Anyone who feels sympathy about the Greater Middle East and North Africa Initiative had better think about some basic facts. The events of 9/11 have also brought some facts. There were 2,000 Americans who died in the 9/11 attacks, but in return 200,000 were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Saddam was captured, but Al Qaeda and the Taliban are now stronger than before. The events in Iraq are posing a threat to everyone, most notably to Turkey. Iraq is about to be divided and it will bring civil war in its wake. Turkey is unreasonably silent about the operation in the Turkmen city of Tal Afar. But Turkey will have to take a position about Iraq sooner or later."
"Constitution Crisis in Iraq"
Kamuran Ozbir wrote in the nationalist Ortadogu (9/9): "The history of politics includes many lessons about federalism, which can either be a unifying force or a source of division for a country. A country can be unified if all groups can be satisfied under a federal system. If this condition cannot be met in Iraq, the federal system will inevitably lead to division and civil war. The referendum on the new constitution means that the future of Iraq is in the hands of Iraqis. An effort toward federalism in Iraq was resurrected after the demise of Saddam’s regime, and it currently serves the interests of the Shiites and the Kurds.... There are 22 countries in the world that have adopted a federal system, most prominently the United States, Switzerland, Belgium, Malaysia, and Australia. Federal systems are capable of treating racial, religious, and culturally distinct groups in an acceptable way. But the most important element for the success of a federal system is whether the people in a country believe that living under the same roof will be to their benefit. It remains to be seen if Iraq will be an example of such success."
"The Human Tragedy in Talafar"
Kenan Akin argued in the nationalist Ortadogu (9/7): "The U.S. army in Iraq is conducting a campaign of vengeance in Talafar, and initial figures indicate more than 200 dead and thousands leaving their homes. The operation in Talafar, which is being carried out by U.S. forces in cooperation with Kurdish peshmerge, looks like a massacre. There are claims that the U.S. wants to change the demographic composition in Talafar. … The U.S. claims the causes of freedom and democracy to justify its presence in Iraq, but we have seen nothing more than blood and tears so far. The U.S. is being bitterly criticized by everyone, including the American people. Even UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is warning of growing terrorism in Iraq. Iraq has turned into a terrorist country, where it is possible to carry out every kind of violence. The U.S. bears the major responsibility for this situation. For the future, it appears that Iraq will be divided into three. It seems inevitable that what starts as a federation will end up as a complete division. It is sad to see this, because Iraq used to be an Arab land where Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, and Turkmen and Assyrians could live as well."
"Behind the Scenes in Talafar"
Emin Pazarci wrote in the tabloid Bugun (9/7): "The U.S. continues its operations in Talafar, and there are reports of heavy clashes. Talafar is a typical Turkmen city, so naturally the current operation targets Turkmen. But it does not cover all of the Turkmen population, because the U.S. problem is really with the Sunni Turkmen. In fact, the Turkmen population in Talafar is not unified. Most of the Shiite Turkmen are directly engaged with Iran, while the Sunni Turkmen look more to Turkey. There is also a tribal Shiite Turkmen family there controlled by Barzani. … The area is very important for Barzani, and he wants to open a office in Talafar by using his family’s link to the region. Once Barzani gains control over Talafar, the Kurdish influence will undoubtedly prevail. Having Talafar under Barzani’s control would also serve U.S. interests, because the insurgents in Talafar are coming from Syria and being supported by the Sunni Turkmen. The Bush administration is not happy about the current situation in Talafar.... It seems that in near future, Barzani will control the city and will manage to expand Kurdish influence significantly. He plans to create strong bonds with the Syrian Kurds as well. The Turkmen link with Turkey will be cut off."
IRAQ: "The Essence Of Political Statements"
Dr. Ali Khalif wrote in SCIRI-affiliated Al-Adala (9/21): “Political statements must clearly indicate their real meanings without ambiguity. Many statements have been issued concerning terrorist attacks in Iraq and in particular the recent campaign by Zarqawi proclaiming war against the Shiites. But, some associations have issued statements ambiguous statements about Zarqawi that make it difficult to determine if they support or reject him. They have not condemned Zarqawi but rather have given him religious advice to stop threatening people. If Zarqawi has been responsible for the massacres of Ashura, Al-Musayyeb, Karbala and Kadumiya and many other attacks, how can they regard him as a man of religion? The problem is that those statements advise Zarqawi not to target Shiites but tacitly condone attacks on the government and its civil and military facilities… I think this a clear provocation for violence. Moreover, those statements have warned the Iraqi people not to go to Karbala during the Sha’ban pilgrimage so that they will not be subjected to terrorist attacks. I believe that we must thank them for issuing such statements because they claim they care about pilgrims’ safety. But, they should have issued statements warning Zarqawi not to attack Shiite pilgrims rather than telling people not to go to Karbala to participate in their holy rituals freely… For this reason, there must be a very clear stance that either indicates they support Zarqawi and his terrorists or they are against him. They should not have issued statements that include some ambiguous phrases that are difficult to comprehend. The Iraqi people have clearly identified their enemy and for this reason statements must correspond with this fact. We welcome and appreciate anybody who condemns terror. However, this condemnation must include clear and accurate phrases and it must reflect a consistent stance.”
"Is the Constitutional Drafting Process Enough?"
Hamid Tarish Al-Saidi wrote in pro-coalition PUK-affiliated Al-Ittihad (9/21): “Working for the will of the Iraqi people is the essential factor in properly applying the mechanics of the constitution and exercising its articles. Lack of will yields an empty constitution that is nothing but a nicely composed document, as was the case with the constitution during our tyrannical times when it contained a lot of words with little effect. Furthermore there is little use in affecting political change--this is the case nowadays in Iraq, although there have been several successive governments the results have all been deprivation, illness, and oppression due to the government’s lack of will.... One cannot imagine people demanding certain rights and freedoms and protesting violations without having any idea about constitutional protection as disseminated through the draft constitution. They should know the limits of the government’s reputation for truthfulness and its ability to conduct internal investigation in the event of constitutional violations. This is where education plays a vital role in establishing awareness of the constitution and its rights and freedoms. It is no shock to find an increase in illiteracy that is largely hidden among us--there is general lack of awareness and astuteness in Iraqi society and this is exactly what the former regime intended to ensure the continuity of its authority. Based on the heritage of our civilization and the multicultural composition of our society it shouldn’t be difficult to reach new levels of education and knowledge. The daily suffering and dilemmas confronting Iraqi citizens has contributed to isolating them and distracting them from real issues that prevent them from decision making and reaching their intellectual potential; this may contribute to a popular rejection of the political process and the efforts for Iraqis to secure their rights. Thus, we should acknowledge the fact that it is not enough to have a draft constitution that includes beautiful ideas, but we must also possess sufficient mechanisms to enact and enforce the constitution while closing the loopholes and making it airtight.”
Mahdi Abbas stated in independent unbiased Al-Manar Al-Yawm (9/21): “Why are innocent Iraqis being killed everyday in Al-Kadumiya, Baghdad Al-Jedida and other Iraqi cities? What have they done to be condemned by car bombs? Is it Iraq’s destiny to suffer death, destruction and wars as a part of their life?...The American invasion of Iraq has come under the slogan of establishing democracy and freedom that will set a good example for the entire Middle East. However, our conditions have worsened day after day since the invasion. Everyday, dozens of souls are killed and most are unarmed civilians who just want to earn a living. But, when will this Iraqi bleeding stop? When will the Iraqi people feel secure and safe like other normal humans in the world? We envy our Syrian, Jordanian and Iranian neighbors whenever we visit them because we make a comparison between our current situation and theirs… Blood, death, killing and explosions have become a usual sight that our children and elderly have become used to seeing everyday. This may destroy our children’s spirits and create many psychological problems for them. Our children feel sorrow when they are watching children’s shows on Pan Arab satellite channels because they see other children play and enjoy life while Iraqi children cannot have normal lives like other children due to the threat of being wounded or killed by car bombs. In addition, U.S. military convoys pose a danger as do crowds that gather. There is nothing left for Iraqis aside from their dreams. They can dream of security and stability and they can dream of going to the theatre and cinema and spending evenings outdoors in safety; may God help them until their dreams materialize.”
"Corruption, Terrorism, And The Victimization Of The Iraqi People"
Abdul Hadi Mahdi wrote in pro-coalition PUK-affiliated Al Ittihad (9/21): “When the last war began, political analysts and Iraq specialists expected that the country would be very wealthy and have the ability to reconstruct its infrastructure and pay its debts through oil revenues. If the fortune and oil revenues of Iraq are used productively then Iraq will not need any assistance from others--it still has many resources in spite of the wars and the disasters that befallen it… Session 67 of the Transitional National Assembly turned out to be a big shock due to corruption and the waste of public funds. These violations occurred because of administrative corruption that spread throughout government directorates and institutions. Horrible numbers exceeded all the expectations when it was discovered that billions of dollars had been wasted. This corruption only deepened Iraq’s wounds. The Iraqi people were surprised to know that the most egregious thefts happened in the Ministry of Defense which is supposed to be responsible for protecting the new Iraq from its enemies. The embezzlement from the Ministry of Defense is equal to the budget of many countries so how can Iraqis trust those who are stealing from their country? And other ministries are no different, they’re mired in corruption as well … Iraq needs strict and forceful policies towards anyone who tries to steal from Iraqis. Our country still has wound from the former era. Additionally, the TNA, which represents millions of Iraqis, should take firm stance against this disaster. It must reveal all of the names of those who involved in corruption. Corruption is more dangerous than terrorism and the National Assembly must see that officials who are convicted submit to justice and return what was stolen. Moreover the subject should not become a political issue--that would only deflect from the issue and obscure the facts in a way that would hinder a solution to this tragedy. We hope that all political parties, especially those that participated in the Transitional Government, will take the lead in issuing clear statement that reject any members who may be convicted of corruption. Corruption is a big disaster that needs to be dealt with by extracting its roots. Those who are responsible for the fortunes of the people and then at the same time steal from them have already forsaken their principles and participated in the killing of their people.”
"What We Want And What They Want"
Muhammad Al-Badri opined in PUK-affiliated Al-Ittihad (9/20): "Terrorists kill innocent people under the cover of religion; they also destroy infrastructure, intimidate communities, and detonate car bombs in markets or explosive belts amid people, under the pretext they will go to heaven. It seems that they do not know that such deeds will definitely condemn them to hell. They claim that they fight the Americans to force them out of Iraq. However, these attacks and explosions will prolong the Americans’ tenure here. I think that this is the main goal of terrorists in Iraq because they secretly take their salaries from the Americans while declaring publicly that they are against the Americans.... Those who want to rid the country of occupation must first work officiously and sincerely to rebuild the country and this must be done according to an objective and scientific basis. They must struggle to restore security and stability and they must work hard to reestablish and strengthen security forces and other government offices. They must draft a constitution that guarantees the rights of all Iraqis so that citizens can feel as though they are equal and will all defend the new Iraq.... Those who want to expel the occupation from the country must believe in democracy and the political process aside from the language of rifles and car bombs..... This will restore the humanity to Iraqi citizens--humanity that was devastated over the past thirty five years of the dictator’s regime that resorted to killings, mass graves and chemical weapons..... Those who call for violence and fighting hate the new Iraq and want to see this country destroyed through sectarian war, contrary to the ambitions of the majority of Iraqis who hope for a quiet, secure, and stable Iraq."
"Disgraceful Iranian Infiltrations"
Ahmad Al-Rub’ee had this to say in the Baghdad edition of independent, London-based Asharq al-Awsat (9/20): "Our friends coming from Iraq’s southern provinces speak about disgraceful infiltrations from Iranian intelligence and in coordination with some political parties that are affiliated with Iran. There are strange stories that speak about interference in the appointment of government employees, the monitoring of political opponents and money spent on specific groups and areas.... The coming Iraqi election will be a rare chance for all good and peaceful groups in Iraq to establish a wide national alliance that includes all non-sectarian and independent groups that have no affiliations with any regional powers, especially Iran. This alliance must present a civil and humanitarian alternative for the Iraqi people, to replace the current sectarian project that is based on alliances with foreigners under the pretext of the country’s interest. Sectarian groups have proven that they are unable to face reality and were busy with factional and political affairs at the expense of national unity. It would be disastrous for Iraq if an Iranian canton were established in south of Iraq. We know for sure that such territory will have no future. However, Iraq will pay heavily for the cost of such a plot before it is able to thwart it--the Iraqi people do not need more sacrifices.”
Dr. Ali Khalif editorialized in SCIRI-affiliated Al-Adala (9/19): "Recent terrorist attacks have been dominated by slogans and incidents that have proven their treachery. These attacks have recently changed their methods, from general targets to specific ones--Zarqawi announced that he will target the Shi’a. He actually should have said this at the beginning of his campaign since his target all along has been the Shi’a. We need to think again about Zarqawi’s statement and the statements of the organizations and the associations that condemned his statement. The most important thing is that those associations’ statements have proven that Zarqawi is alive and present where many other associations in the past have denied his existence... Zarqawi loathes the Shiites because he is a creation of the deposed dictator who had the same hatred towards them. Zarqawi represents a segment of the series of genocide the former regime perpetrated against the Shi’a. Zarqawi could not hide his hatred when he accused patriotic and political Islamic groups that fought the former regime of killing the Iraqi people in an attempt to provoke sectarianism within Iraq’s community.... We want to establish a new Iraq, which must be free from terrorism, injustice and tyranny. Hence, everyone should work in order to achieve this goal and we should not remain silent about any genocide that may be committed against the Iraqi people. Many statements have been published condemning governmental operations against terrorists but it is not easy to understand whether or not these statements condemn terror because they use misleading expressions that make it difficult to determine their stance. These expressions have different meanings but in fact they attack the government more than condemning terrorism.... Some groups must revise their policies to bring them in line with the current reality. Indeed, there is no more tyranny and the political competition in this country must be civil--it can not depend on killing, beheading and kidnapping. We call on those groups to stop accusing others and join in the current political process. They should not think about their former dreams which evaporated when the sun of freedom and democracy rose in Iraq."
"We Have Debated Our Constitution For The Benefit Of The Americans Over Iraqis"
Mariam Al-Sunati stated in independent Al-Qasid (9/19): "Last week, senior Iraqi leaders visited the U.S. and other countries and perhaps these visits are important in a normal situation but in a situation similar to the current Iraqi situation citizens do not care about such visits. Regarding the Iraqi constitution, which was submitted to the United Nations, there are many citizens who do not know anything about the articles of that constitution. The IECI wanted to educate Iraqis about the constitution through the use of posters or commercials however we know that the constitution cannot be explained to people through such materials.... The Iraqi National Assembly speaker should have established committees to explain the importance of the constitution’s articles and paragraphs throughout the country. More than 75% of Iraqis do not know about the constitution’s articles, especially those articles agreed on between the United Iraqi Alliance and the Kurdish Coalition. We know that these two main lists have made some amendments to the draft constitution in consultation with the American Ambassador, who was a mediator and solved some crises… We do not care if the constitution was explained to the Americans but we care about its explanation to the Iraqi people--we want them to know about the articles and paragraphs it contains. Iraqi citizens are fed up with television symposia that speak about the constitution because these fora do not give citizens any information on the constitution’s articles or paragraphs. Iraqi citizens do not even know how many pages there are in the draft constitution because our newspapers haven’t gotten them yet. On the other hand, the United Nations and the United States know all those details because the draft constitution reached them before it reached the Iraqi people."
"I’ll Vote Against the Constitution"
Yousif Fadhil editorialized on the Al-Soat Al-Iraq ("The Voice of Iraq") website (9/19): "Yes, the Constitution has many merits, but it also contains many weak points. The most significant of these is the haste with which the constitution was written. The reason is not that Iraq needs a constitution; Iraq lived without a permanent constitution for long periods and nothing happened. It will not hurt us if we wait for another year to discuss its articles and research its unprofessional writers. The haste is because of the American agenda--not the Iraqi agenda! Therefore, Iraq ought to modify its conditions that currently serve the interests of the United States and those currently in office! I think Iraq is not yet qualified for federalism. Iraq needs a long time to prepare and practice the democratic process if it is to enjoy positive results. A constitution is one of the fruits of democracy. I am sure the ratification of a flawed constitution will lead to instability, erratic actions, and damage to all of Iraq. I will participate in the electoral process because it is the civilized way to represent people in the state. I will respect the results even if they are against my vision and beliefs. I might be wrong. I will try to correct things in the future in a democratic way. Yes, there is a price to implement democracy and it must be paid, but it is less costly than the substitute--dictatorship!"
"A Country Of Crises"
Rahman Meshawi editorialized in independent, lately anti-coalition Az-Zaman (9/15): "Iraqi citizens are extremely lucky in what political leaders (during interviews) like to call ‘The New Iraq.’ After being blessed by God with patience and the ability to endure all sorts of weather conditions and impossible crisis that require the government’s sedative explanations of difficulties caused by ‘former regime elements:’ power crises, fuel crises, water crises, crises with corruption, an unemployment crisis, and traffic crises, in addition to other escalating crises that have taken root under the era of the former regime. Those would include: the security crisis, sewage crises, and a crisis with food rationing items. But the main problem isn’t these crises themselves or the fact that, according to some political geniuses, they’ll need 5 – 10 years to be solved, but it is the fear of those holding positions of power to maintain the courage to resign when that becomes an item of last resort--as we usually see happen in democratic countries after incidents causing losses of life or economic devastation. So this crisis will determine whether we head towards democracy or tyranny. Thank God that all governments that have assumed power since the toppling of the former regime until the coming elections are following the White House’s map, and only God knows what could happen if the elected government strengthens its grip on power. Some crises might end while others might be created, but again, we always have the ‘former regime’ to blame."
"The Irrational Media Coverage Of Othman Al-Obeidi"
Amr Al-Mijar wrote in independent unbiased Al-Mashriq (9/15): "A colleague of mine has previously addressed this subject.... What we’re talking about here is the ‘simple’ or emotional treatment of the young Iraqi man who saved many Iraqis from drowning during the A’emma bridge incident, the martyr Othman Al-Obeidi. Many media organizations went on to say that Al-Obeidi ‘set an example for national unity’ and ‘cemented brotherhood’ among Iraqis.... There’s no doubt that the conditions Iraq is enduring make it necessary to invest in any honorable example to further strengthen bonds between Iraqis, but to portray this example as a unique one, never before presented, is a true media catastrophe.... Did the Iraqis who went to defend Palestine in 1948 ask each other what religion or sect they belonged to and did they consider that when their blood mixed on the battlefield and they carried the wounded among them? Did Iraqi cities segregate people of different backgrounds by barricades that were only removed on April 9, 2003? The actions of the heroic martyr Othman Al-Obeidi are actions of an Iraqi and need no sectarian or political spin."
Iraqi Islamic Party affiliated weekly Dar Al-Salam explained (9/15): "It’s very important for general opinion in Iraq and abroad to understand that our reasons for objecting to some items in the draft constitution have nothing to do with sectarian, political, or circumstantial considerations as alleged by some, but is based on Islamic and patriotic considerations intended to support the interests of Iraqi people. These considerations have always formed the basis for any approval or rejection, and we have always reflected an Islamic national platform, not a sectarian one, and if some see our position as a reflection of the Sunni position, that’s fine because Sunnis in Iraq are like other patriotic groups eager to preserve the unity of Iraqis and the social bonds of their society, which in the end, is an Islamic policy not restricted to Sunnis only. We’re glad to find influential groups and segments in Iraqi society taking the same stance which confirms the righteousness of our perspective and underscores the fact that different Iraqi groups sense the same danger and formulated their reaction on the same Islamic and national basis."
"Why Do They Insist On Destroying Tal Afar?"
Weekly, anti-coalition Al-Basa’er, affiliated with the Muslim Scholars Association, editorialized (9/14): "The city of Tal Afar was well-known for its patriotism and sacrifice in defending Iraq’s values and homeland; this city was one of the first to resist British occupation and its citizens were able to liberate their city after a severe battle with the enemy.... Today, this city again resists the British and the American occupation of Iraq and has since the beginning of the war. Tal Afar has caused the occupation forces to suffer huge losses. However, there are some citizens who stood with the occupation forces against their own people. There were many initiatives by different groups wanting to solve problems that arouse among the citizens of Tal Afar but these attempts were thwarted by known political groups who claimed that what was happening in Tal Afar was terrorism. These groups deliberately inflamed the crisis and in the end, a misguided attack was waged against this city by the occupation forces in cooperation with an elected Iraqi government. This government, like the former government, gave the green light to the occupation forces to attack and destroy the city of Fallujah.... They attacked Tal Afar in order to satiate their hatred and bring an end to the brave resistance of its citizens. These acts will never affect the honest and patriotic Iraqis who will continue their jihad to defeat and destroy evil and force the occupation out of Iraq."
"The Islamic Emirate Of Al-Qa’im"
Salim Rasoul commented in Al-Dawa Party affiliated Al-Bayyan (9/14): "We know that the terrorist ideology of al-Qaida in Iraq is focused on establishing extremist emirates--we know that fact very well and the Islamic world knows it too. The fact is, secular regimes consider radical Islamic emirates to be a clear and present danger to their existence and they prevent them from entering their countries. At the same time, these secular regimes ally themselves with terrorists and provide them with money, weapons, and material support to kill Iraqi people. Now, after we exposed this supposed emirate will those regimes continue supporting Zarqawi?... The pan-Arab media report that the official policy of Arab states is that they are neutral and don’t support Baghdad. Some of these regimes announce that they support the Iraqi resistance in order to expel the occupation from Iraq. When we say resistance we mean the radical Zarqawi movement. Do not blame us if we distrust the official Arab stance but we formulate our ideas according to what’s published in the Arab media which is definitely reflective of Arab regimes. What the terrorists perpetrated in Al-Qa’im is an example of what they want to implement throughout the world. Those terrorists began in Iraq and they may expand to neighboring countries. Therefore, these countries had better support Iraq to eradicate this destructive ideology."
"Who Are the Iraqis Who Will Ratify The Constitution?"
Abdul Hadi Mahdi argued in pro-coalition, PUK-affiliated Al-Ittihad (9/14): "When the January 30th elections were announced some bet they would fail due to the deteriorating security situation and the lack of skills of the Iraqi police and army at the time. Many political parties demanded postponement of the elections until the security situation stabilized.... But, on election day, Iraqis defied predictions when millions of them turned out en masse and went to the polls in ways that amazed observers.... Recently we started to hear statements that included unacceptable expressions revealing mistrust of fellow Iraqis. The masses of millions will keep moving forward to vote for the constitution while some of our brothers, who were added to the constitutional committee, say in their press conferences that they want a constitution that all Iraqis agree upon. What this really means is that the people who did not participate in the elections are the only Iraqis. We hope that those people will use the right words to unite the Iraqi people."
"On Tal Afar"
Ismaeel Zayyer had this to say in independent Al-Sabah al-Jadeed (9/14): "Our enemies have begun lamenting the victory of Iraqis’ will and thus began displaying their hatred towards the new Iraq.... The security forces killed 157 and detained more than 200 terrorists while the Iraqi Army suffered less than four causalities. These figures show the government’s well-organized and firm policy against terrorism.... Sunni political groups such as the Muslim Scholars Association should not endeavor to harm people who belong to other sects. In fact, their duty is to fight Sudanese, Syrians, and Saudis who have entered the country to behead and loot. Where were those who weep for national unity today when Zarqawi turned Tal Afar into 18 weapons caches? Where were they when terrorists intimidated the city?"
Dr. Ali Khalif had this to say in SCIRI-affiliated Al-Adala (9/13): "There is no doubt that terrorism emanates from different sources, some of which are material and other immaterial. Terrorists are trying to spread their ideologies throughout the world by manipulating emotions and beliefs. At times they take advantage of unique situations in countries, such as Iraq, to attract simplistic minds, luring them into terrorism. Iraqis however have seen through these types of ideologies and we are calling on them to fight the internal and external sources of terrorism. The Iraqi minister of defense demonstrated that Tal 'Afar was a haven for terrorists and their weapons caches. There is no doubt that there are many internal sources for terrorism that we must eradicate because they are interrelated with external terrorist groups and we must ensure that we eliminate terrorist hotspots to prevent terrorists from slipping away and hiding in other cities as has occurred before. The problem is that we have to deal with those who support and provide refuge for terrorists because they are the real danger. It is unreasonable to expect that foreign terrorists who come to Iraq can conduct operations without an incubator or local cover. All of us need to fight terrorist ideologies and those who incite terrorism."
"The Constitution And The Referendum"
Adnan Sherkhan wrote in independent Al-Sabah (9/13): "It is rare that political groups achieve all of their demands in democratic systems of governance. Dictatorial regimes, on the other hand, install the dictator as guardian of the people, one who enacts legislation that suits him and forces people to obey his orders. Multiculturalism in a country like Iraq makes it impossible to reach a consensus that can satisfy every group. Some groups objected to the draft constitution because it didn't contain certain issues they felt were necessary to include in the constitution.... We understand that the Iraqi people have a right to peacefully demonstrate and express themselves publicly therefore those who wants to reject the constitution must use their democratic rights to do so. With a two-thirds vote in three provinces, voters can reject the constitution as permitted under the TAL. However, we do not understand why some of those who want to reject the constitution hoisted Saddam's picture in their demonstrations. There have even been some threats from these groups who claim they will burn the land if the constitution is ratified. It seems that there are still some people who have dictatorial thoughts. Nevertheless, the Independent Electoral Commission has set October 15 as a date for the referendum. Therefore, we have to quickly reach an agreement on the draft constitution so that the United Nations can print millions of copies and distribute them with ration cards. We must also begin a national campaign to educate people about the articles of the constitution. If we continue to have major disputes about the constitution Iraqi citizens will not benefit from it; we hope that national media outlets, civil society organizations and political parties will take responsibility for educating citizens about the constitution."
SAUDI ARABIA: "Iraqi And Syria"
Riyadh’s moderate Al-Jazira editorialized (9/20): "Regardless of what the Americans say about Iraq and its salvation, there is growing evidence that the situation in Iraq is deteriorating. The war against Iraq was based on lies. Therefore, we should view the American threats against Syria in its proper American context not as a matter which concerns Iraq and its people."
"Inciters Of Sectarian Sedition In Iraq"
Abha’s moderate Al-Watan commented (9/20): "The Sunni institutions in Iraq as well as in the entire Islamic world condemn the escalation [of violence] against the Shi’a because they understand that there are those who wish to turn Iraq into a theater for an inter-Islamic war. The Iraqi Shi’a leaders have demonstrated a very high degree of awareness and cautioned against dangers of falling into this wicked plan."
Abha’s moderate Al-Watan editorialized (9/13): "U.S. troops have resorted to military power in Iraq in the last two years.... These methods have increased the suffering of the civilians pushing them to become more hostile.... Americans followed the same method when they encircled cities close to the Syrian border and they bombed the area. They did not take into consideration the 300,000 people living there.... There is an American determination in using such methods which do not consider causing human disasters.... The power of the militants are not affected by such methods.... The American army and the Iraqi government should reconsider these methods that only tend to move the civilians from the line of fire and make them fuel for the war."
"Stability Of Iraq Through Political Dialogue"
Conservative Al-Nadwah editorialized (9/11): "Since becoming a major post for foreign fighters to infiltrate Iraq, American and Iraqi troops yesterday pressed to regain control over Tal Afar. While any attempt for peace in Iraq is welcomed, the military plays an important role, but the political role is more important. It is obvious that political parties are backing the daily attacks in Iraq. However, political reconciliation must come about to regain unity in Iraq, which can only be reached through political dialogue."
LEBANON: "After The Bloody Massacre"
The following exchange appeared on pro-Hizbollah affiliated Al-Alam news (9/16):
Anchor: "Following the bloody massacres that took place in Baghdad and the [issuing] of the voice recording attributed to Abu Mus’ab Al-Zarqawi promising [all-out] war against Shiites in Iraq…observers questioned [whether or not] Zarqawi [really exists] and if the U.S. occupation is not behind these massacres…."
Reporter: "After the bloody massacres on Wednesday and Thursday in Iraq, and after Zarqawi’s voice recording was heard, observers were questioning…why the U.S. occupation Army does not know where Zarqawi is hiding, [since] they easily discovered Saddam Hussein’s [hiding place]…."
Unidentified Iraqi male: "Zarqawi is imaginary, [created] by the occupation forces in order to occupy the Iraqi nation and to make Iraqis hate one another…."
Reporter: "The other question being asked by observers is why, if Zarqawi really exists, does he not fight U.S. occupation forces [instead] of declaring war on Shiites…. Several [Iraqi] religious and political figures answer this question saying that the U.S. occupation [forces] in Iraq are the ones who are executing and supporting these bloody massacres in Al-Kathimiya and Baghdad…. [It is also said] that weapons and expertise are offered to [those executing the massacres]….with the aim of creating sectarian strife…. The first pictures attributed to the [person] called Zarqawi were aired on CNN…. Afterwards, the so-called Tanthim Al-Qaida fi Bilad Al-Rafidayn (Al-Qaida in Iraq) stated that these pictures really were Zarqawi [along] with one of his assistants who was killed by U.S. forces…. U.S. intelligence asserted that Zarqawi has more than 16,000 extremist gunmen, including 4,000 [followers] of the [Iraqi] Baath Party…. Another question now raised by observers is if Americans always said it is easy to find [those who post] recordings on websites, why does this not apply to Zarqawi? One [participant] on the internet did some [research] on the Al-Qaida [in Iraq] website and found that the company hosting the site is American and operating in Texas…."
"The American Threats Against Syria"
Nizar Abdel-Kader observed in Arab nationalist As-Safir (9/14): "It seems that American-Syrian relations are about to start a dangerous phase after the failure of all easy measures adopted by the Bush administration to convince Syria to implement U.S. demands.... If we review the latest U.S. statements, particularly that of U.S. ambassador to Iraq, we conclude that this is the first time the U.S. speaks frankly about infiltration of foreigners through Syrian seaports and airports in Latakia, Aleppo, and Damascus--in contrast with earlier American statements that previously spoke of the infiltration of foreigners through the long Syrian-Iraqi borders. Syria was also accused of establishing camps to train these terrorists on its own territory.... What is also noteworthy is that Syria was accused of working on changing Iraq into a regime similar to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.... It is clear that American-Syrian relations are going to witness increasing deterioration because of developments in Iraq or because of Syria’s position on events in Lebanon and Palestine.... In a diplomatic sense, these statements are a warning that precedes a declaration of war. The Syrian government should be really wise in its approach to the U.S. threats."
QATAR: "Supporting Americans Does Not Serve Anyone Who Cares For His Future"
The following interview occured on government-owned, editorially-independent Al-Jazeera tv program "Harvest of the Day" (9/19):
Live interview with Dr. Mohammed ‘Ayyash Al-Kubaysi, representative of Association of Muslim Scholars abroad, in Beirut:
Al-Jazeera: "What [needs to be done] regarding all this daily bloodshed in Baghdad and [elsewhere]?"
Dr. Al-Kubaysi: "We denounce any attack that targets any innocent civilians in Iraq, regardless of their sect, ethnicity, [or affiliation]. We also denounce hypocritical condemnations, which we have started seeing. There are statements denouncing [attacks] that target certain individuals or groups from certain sects, but they do not denounce the heinous organized crimes committed in Tal ‘Afar, Al-Rutba, Al-Qa’im, and elsewhere. We believe that we need a unified position to denounce all attacks that target innocent civilians…. We believe that the occupation caused and is behind all this…. Everyone [should be] convinced to unify their efforts…to liberate [Iraq] from the occupation. We…hope that our fellow Shiite scholars abroad, especially in Lebanon…will have a role in convincing some who belong to their sect that supporting the Americans is not beneficial to them because supporting the Americans does not serve any sect, party, or anyone who cares for his future in [Iraq]."
Al-Jazeera: "Everyone warns against sectarian strife in Iraq. Are we not [seeing such] strife, even though many do not call it that?"
Dr. Al-Kubaysi: "The occupation is planning strife because [such turmoil] justifies its [presence]. But I [believe] the Iraqi people…will overcome this ordeal that they are enduring…. The unbalanced, unjustified, and illegitimate reaction to the heinous crimes committed in Tal ‘Afar came from [Zarqawi], who is not Iraqi. All Sunni clergymen denounced the speech of this person, which proves that we cannot be [dragged] into unbalanced and [poorly] thought out reactions that may [create problems]."
"Violence Will Not Lead to Stability"
Dr. Sa'd Al-Hadithi, a professor of political science at Baghdad University, commented to government-owned, editorially indepedent Al-Jazeera news (9/14): "In the beginning…we said that the cause of the deterioration of the security situation in Iraq is due…to political factors. Therefore, [the situation] must be remedied…through a balanced political process that will include all political groups and will exclude extremist groups, which could be…[eventually] confronted militarily. Relying solely on…military solutions based upon collective punishment, surrounding cities, and indiscriminate shelling has definitely led, thus far, to the exacerbation of the security situation…. Violence will not lead to stability…. It appears that [attacks] will continue in the coming days, [as] the border is left open for anyone to cross. In spite of all of their technological and military capabilities, and their modern equipment, U.S. forces are not able to control the border through which, they say, most of the infiltrators [are crossing into Iraq]. This confirms that the U.S. administration’s strategy to fight [insurgent] groups in Iraq is [by] attempting to [draw] them into Iraq, and to make Iraq the battlefield. [U.S. forces] are not concerned about innocent Iraqi civilians who are the victims of this conflict…."
"Far From Humane"
Mr. Al-'Alayan, representing the National Council for Dialogue, told an interviewer for government-owned, editorially indepedent Al-Jazeera program "Harvest of the Day" (9/13): "We denounce these operations launched by U.S. and Iraqi forces to strike innocent citizens in their homes. These operations cannot have been [launched] to rid [Iraq] of resistance or terrorism, as they claim…. These operations [are designed] to uproot an entire population. [They] killed innocent women, children, and the elderly. [There is a complete] destruction of infrastructure and homes. These operations are far from humane.... These [operations] are intended to keep the people away from the referendum and to force them not to participate in the upcoming elections, as happened in previous elections. This is a [well devised] plan that has been applied for that purpose."
"Attacks In Tal 'Afar Occurring According To Plan"
Walid Khaled reported from Baghdad for Al-Jazeera news (9/12): "Attacks have spread from Tal ‘Afar in northern Iraq through Basra [all the way] to Al-Rutba in western Iraq. This [is occurring] according to the U.S. and the Iraqi Government’s intentions and plans, since threats against areas with a Sunni majority have increased one month before the [scheduled] referendum on the constitution."
"Tal 'Afar And Falluja"
Walid Al-Zubaydi, a journalist in Baghdad, stated on Al-Jazeera news (9/9): "We think that the timing of [the announcement indicates that]…this attack on Tal ‘Afar [aims at] disrupting ongoing talks concerning the constitution and referendum…. This period is supposed to be a time of discussions [instead of] a time of warfare and clashes. It is clear that this…attack on Tal ‘Afar is similar to the pre-election period during which U.S. forces decided to launch a crushing attack on Falluja, which they destroyed, shifting [the focus] away from the issue of demands to postpone the elections or to include those who boycotted them [to the issue of Falluja]. However, the occupation administration in Iraq insisted on destroying a whole city. Talks on Tal ‘Afar are [being conducted] on the same schedule and [according to the same] method. It is clear that…[these attacks] and the destruction of Tal ‘Afar will [cause disruption] in areas along…the Syrian border and [further], right into Baghdad."
Al-Jazeera: "What is happening and what will occur in Tal ‘Afar is an exact repetition of the scenario of Falluja."
Mr. Al-Zubaydi: "[Yes]. What is the U.S. administration seeking with this disruption of the situation in Iraq? What does it want to achieve by this?
Just as [with] Falluja, this announcement means that fighters, if they are indeed in Tal ‘Afar, will spread to the U.S. supply roads between Baghdad, western Iraqi cities, and Tal ‘Afar. Hence these areas will turn into large theaters of war. How will there be a referendum and how will [voters] reach [voting centers]…?"
An anchor for Al-Jazeera News quoted (9/9): "Foreign relations officer for the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq Abd Al-Salam Al-Kubaysi warned Iraqis against relying upon the referendum [as a means] to derail the constitution; he called this a ruse by the enemy, [achieved] through media deception and fraud…."
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: "We Are One People With One History and One Blood"
A representative of the Al-Shimmari tribe commented on Al-Arabiya news (9/15): "We criticize every government…since the fall of the past regime for not providing security and services. The Iraqi Government must carry out its genuine mission and take on the historic responsibility [to protect] the people. It must make security its [primary] concern.... We also demand that a timetable [be set] for the withdrawal of the occupation forces from Iraq. We call on our people to [exercise] self-restraint and not be drawn into the plans of the enemies of the people of Iraq.... We [say] to the world that we are one people with one history and one blood."
"The Issue Is Not Sunnis And Shiites"
Fitah Al-Sheik, a member of the Iraqi National Assembly, stated on Al-Arabiya news (9/14): "The Iraqi people are still [being killed]…without security officials [working effectively]. I hold the occupation forces completely responsible, because they have not completely turned over [responsibility for] security to the Ministry of the Interior and Iraqi forces…. I think Saddam’s trial and the departure of the occupier are the two main points [needed] to stop the bloodshed and terrorism.... The issue is not Sunnis and Shiites…. It is not, as the media is reporting, a revenge [operation]. The Sunnis…are now prepared for the upcoming political process…. I say that those who carried out these operations are ‘masters of the occupier'.... All of Iraq is a battlefield.... Late last night until early this morning, U.S. forces cordoned off Sadr City and conducted raids and made arrests…. It seems the U.S. forces are again trying to [stir up] the Iraqi people and, with the many terrorist operations going on, [show them] that without the occupying U.S. forces, Iraq will not be stable.... If the situation remains as it is…the bloodshed will continue with the continued [presence] of the occupation. Anyone who wants to keep the occupier in Iraq wants to keep bloodshed in Iraq. If some parties in Iraq think they can only operate with the presence of the occupier…this is unacceptable to the Iraqi people."
"Save The People Of Iraq From This Criminal And Hateful Plan"
Al-Arabiya news quoted Sheikh Khalaf Al-'Aliyan (9/13): "We denounce these statements and condemn them. We ask the free world, humanitarian organizations, the UN, the Arab League, the Islamic Conference, and the governments of all Arab nations to intervene in order to stop the criminal operations that are currently being carried out on the cities of Tal 'Afar and Al-Qa'im by U.S. forces and the sectarian government forces. Hundreds of innocent people who committed no sins and have no connection with terrorism have died. We demand that international committees be formed to investigate and save the people of Iraq from this hateful, criminal plan."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
AUSTRALIA: "Iraq Boils Over"
The popular tabloid Daily Telegraph judged (9/21): "In Iraq, the process of implementing democratic change, of building peaceful institutions and establishing autonomous government, is a matter of two steps forward, one back. The questions are obvious. Why are we engaged in this situation if even local police can't be relied upon? If we're not wanted, why don't we withdraw? But one incident such as this [in Basra] does not mean the work in Iraq is pointless. Elsewhere in Iraq--in fact, everywhere in Iraq--there are encouraging signs that progress is being made, that ordinary Iraqis are beginning to reap the benefits which elected governments are obliged to deliver. The chaos and confusion in Basra is deeply regrettable. But it should not become an excuse for an abandonment of the Iraqi cause."
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR): "A Dangerous Erosion Of Trust In Iraq"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post editorialized (9/21): "Sadly, the latest incident, in which British tanks and armored vehicles were used to secure the release of two undercover soldiers arrested by police for allegedly firing on them, threatens a working relationship with Iraqi authorities that helped quarantine the south from the worst of the violence wracking the country.... It is a measure of the breakdown in relations that Basra Governor Mohammed al-Waili has called the army action a barbaric act of aggression. During the operation to free the men, an armored vehicle breached the perimeter wall of the jail in a Basra police station, cars were crushed and two Iraqis killed in rioting. The incident is bound to be seen as a humiliation by many Iraqis--something the insurgents will use to their advantage. It will also strengthen the hand of firebrand Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who has built strong local support for his stand against foreign troops in Iraq. There is a strong possibility that the referendum will reject the draft constitution and that a drafting process that took 10 months will have to start over again. Any further breakdown in what little law and order remains would be a fresh tragedy for Iraqis. The British army needs to do whatever it can to rebuild the trust of civilian authorities in Basra."
NEW ZEALAND: "Bombs Get The Iraq Headlines, But Real Story Is Elsewhere"
The Taranaki Daily News editorialized (Internet version, 9/8): "It is the bombs, fatalities and mayhem that make the news in Iraq because that is the nature of news-gathering.... Now, Iraqis are about to face another stage in their bumpy ride...which will be hugely significant but will probably make the headlines only when the bombs go off. The country's draft constitution, which twice missed its deadline in tension and debate, has finally been approved by the interim parliament and is on its way to a five-million print run and on to ballots in 18 provinces. Despite 2,000 U.S. deaths, 20,000 Iraqi deaths--mostly among terrorists and from their suicide attacks on civilians--and the $NZ300 billion cost so far, this has to be seen, even by the war's fiercest critics, as progress. Besides, few of those critics are foolish enough to advocate America's immediate exit, which would flush all of that sacrifice and cost down the drain. Force-feeding democracy at the point of a gun might be a dubious foreign policy, especially in the heart of the Muslim Middle East, but 135,000 U.S. troops are there now and failure would be a disaster for much more than merely the United States.... Now that [Saddam Hussein] has gone, the nature of the enemy and his instability has changed--to a totalitarian ideology with undisguised global ambitions that should make everyone, within and outside the faith, shudder. Human rights groups, feminist groups, minority rights groups and countless others that have free reign in open, liberal Western societies should hope that the U.S.-led coalition prevails. And despite the headlines, it is--slowly. Bombs and lives are cheap in Iraq, so progress cannot be measured against them. The quieter action behind the scenes, and the will of the brave Iraqi people, is the long-term reality."
SINGAPORE: "America's Eroding Credibility"
Washington Correspondent Leon Hadar took this view in the pro-government Business Times (9/14): "There is little doubt that the Bush administration's Baghdad-New Orleans double feature is eroding the credibility of America abroad, making it more difficult for the Administration to mobilize support from Congress and American citizens to expand U.S. military and financial commitments in the Middle East.... Some of the critics of the Bush administration have expressed their hope that the war in Iraq and the hurricane in Louisiana could ignite public demand for political change in the United States. This would usher a new era in which a re-energized progressive movement will promote social-economic equality at home and diplomatic internationalism abroad. It would demand 'sacrifices' from the American people to help close the gap between the 'haves' and have-nots' in the country, and spread freedom and democracy around the world. Such expectations reflect much wishful thinking on the part of those public intellectuals who are nostalgic about the sense of National Greatness that was supposedly projected by the political dynasties of the Roosevelts and the Kennedys in the 20th century.... While many Americans will demonstrate their generosity by helping the victims of Katrina, the long-term response will be in the direction of erecting more barriers between the 'haves' and 'have-nots'--more gated communities and less of a drive towards a shared community. Similarly, while Americans will support a tough and even a deadly military response to terrorist attacks, there is very little support among them for promoting nation-building worldwide. That sentiment will probably become even more pronounced as a result of the depressing experience in Iraq."
SOUTH KOREA: "No Reason To Delay Iraq Withdrawal"
Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized (9/7): "As the threat of a terrorist attack for nations with troops in Iraq continues to grow, it is being said that the Bush Administration’s policy on Iraq has become ‘mission impossible’ and troops should be quickly withdrawn. Even within the U.S., the Bush Administration’s Iraq policy has a mere 40 percent or so approval rate from the public. That is why almost all the nations that sent troops to the Gulf state have either completely withdrawn or have plans to. There is one country, however, that is acting unconcerned. That would be the ROK. Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung recently said he would extend the deployment of Korean troops in Iraq, which ends at the end of this year. Furthermore, the ROKG and the ruling party say they are considering reducing the 3,200 troops currently stationed there by 1,000. Why reduce the number of Korean troops in Iraq instead of completely withdrawing them? Are they going to continue to push the issue along, as if nothing is wrong, having sent them carelessly to begin with? Do they want to bear the full burden of America’s failed Iraq policy until the very end? The ROKG and the ruling party are frustrating to watch as they think so lightly of the national interest and public opinion."
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
INDIA: "The Fire This Time"
Swagato Ganguly had this to say in the centrist Times of India (9/20): "A specter is haunting Iraq, the specter of civil war. If one substitutes Shias, Sunnis and Kurds for Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, many of the ingredients of India’s explosive political situation 1946-47 are in place in Iraq today. In just three days--between September 14 and 16--more than 225 people were killed and 600 injured, in multiple shootings and bombings that hit Shia neighborhoods and mosques across Baghdad and other cities.... Iraq politics today, like India in 1947, is an opera of miscalculations on the part of most actors, where rumors have real consequences running ahead of politicians' ability to control them. Once the British decided to quit India they were in a tearing hurry to leave, and could make no more than perfunctory and ad hoc arrangements for the interim period. Likewise, President Bush had Iraq’s politicians draw up a constitution according to his own deadlines--he needs a document to convince domestic opponents that Iraq has a working political process.... But it is not just that this atmosphere of miscalculations, conspiracy theories, and mass hysteria resembles the atmosphere on the Indian subcontinent during 1946-47. Some of the specifics also match. The draft Iraqi constitution is a radical one. It envisages not so much a federal republic where provinces have autonomy, but a confederation where the provinces are grouped on the basis of ethnic identity.... If Iraq cannot find a way of accommodating Sunni interests, large-scale violence along ethnic fault lines will probably be the result. A rump Sunni province carved out of Iraq would be the new Afghanistan, a devastated country that would serve as an ideal base for al-Qaida."
"Needed, New 'Look West' Policy"
G. Parthasarathy commented pro-BJP right-of-center The Pioneer (9/8): "Military intervention in Iraq could well prove to be a historic blunder for the United States, similar to the setbacks it faced in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia. Claims that Saddam Hussein was a menace because of his insatiable desire for weapons of mass destruction was hand-in-glove with the Al Qaeda have similarly been proved baseless. American international credibility has been so baldly eroded by the arguments put forward to justify military intervention in Iraq, that any claim that Iran is on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons will evoke skepticism, even within the United States.... The Pentagon recently claimed that the war against insurgency in Iraq is being won. The insurgents ... continue to pose a potent challenge to American forces and to the newly recruited Iraqi security forces, under Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari. The Americans were hoping that they could devise an exit strategy by getting the Iraqis to adopt a new, secular constitution. They have found that the ethnic and sectarian divide ... is so wide, that evolving a national consensus for a future constitution is a daunting task. Iraq could face serious divisions if the current differences between the Shias and Sunnis are not resolved. The emerging changes in Iraq will inevitably have a profound impact on developments in its Arab neighbors in the Persian Gulf ... The empowerment of Shias in Iraq will inevitably lead to a situation where countries like Saudi Arabia can no longer ignore Shia aspirations.... With our increasing dependence on imported oil and gas to meet our growing energy needs, stability in this region is crucial for our welfare and well being.... The resurgence of Shia assertiveness will also inevitably affect the politics of the region.... Even though imports from the Gulf region today barely constitute around 11 per cent of the overall imports of crude oil by the U.S., the Americans will continue to maintain a strong military, diplomatic and economic companies have a firm foothold ... A possible Chinese naval presence through base facilities in the Pakistani port of Gwadar, strategically located at the entry to the Persian Gulf cannot be ruled out. A major achievement of the Narasimha Rao Government was its introduction of new "Look East' policy that has promoted cooperation with out eastern neighbors. The time has perhaps come for us to fashion a new and more pro-active "Look West' policy to deal with the challenges that we now face to our west."
PAKISTAN: "What Is Going On In Iraq?"
M.B. Naqvi wrote in the centrist national English-language The News (9/7): "There was obvious political intent of some force that had had mortars fired and then spread the rumor of there being suicide bombers present in the vast Shia crowd assembled in the Kazmieh district of Baghdad for religious purposes. Whoever it was they were allowing their murderous malevolence to run riot. Somehow Sunni attacks on Shia targets in present circumstances in Iraq do not make sense. Iraq's insurgency is all about getting the American occupation forces out. Granted that the insurgents do not wish to see the political structures put up by Americans succeed, how is the present course calculated to achieve the objective of U.S. forces' departure from Iraq?"
NIGERIA: "Helping U.S. Out Of Iraq"
Lagos-based independent New Age commented (9/13): "Disgraced at home by the galloping ineptitude with which it handled the Katrina disaster, the Bush administration may be taking respite from the arrows and sling shots of opponents over the other fiasco: its involvement in Iraq which has become a bloody quagmire.... In Iraq itself, nothing just seems to be going right for the Americans.... The most spectacular failure of late has been the attempt to draw up a new constitution which all major groups--the Shias, Kurds and mostly notably, the Sunnis--would sign on. The Sunnis have refused, correctly seeing how the new constitution would represent a loss of power for them. And so the stalemate continues with every passing day witnessing a new atrocity.... An obvious damage, the serious blow to America’s self-constructed image of superiority and the model everyone wants to copy, is left to the Americans to handle. But the rest of the world would have to get involved to help the Americans out with some dignity left intact. Iraq’s neighbors have a pivotal role to play here. A regional initiative perhaps coordinated by the Arab League and the United Nations may be necessary to come up with a formula for a peaceful settlement. This would of necessity have to involve all the parties including insurgent groups in what is certain to be long and agonizing negotiations."
CANADA: "Louisiana, Iraq And Egypt Expose Inept Bush"
Editorial page editor emeritus Haroon Siddiqui commented in the liberal Toronto Star (9/8): "We know that Katrina exposed America's Third World underbelly, along with its deep divisions of race and class, and its proclivity to gut government services but not the funding to wage wars. It bared George W. Bush's palpable discomfort at being forced out of his make-believe world to confront ugly realities. It also served as a reminder of how some conservative governments in North America can be criminally incompetent.... The Bush administration's war on terror has created more terrorism. Its occupation of Iraq has been an unmitigated disaster. Its ineptitude in Louisiana is no different than in Iraq. It ignored predictions of impending natural disaster in Louisiana, as it had turned a deaf ear to worldwide warnings about the man-made disaster that Iraq would be. Just as the people of New Orleans had no food or water and were abandoned to the mercy of looters and thugs for days, Iraqis have had little or no drinking water, electricity or medical care and have been left to fend for themselves from criminals, kidnappers and terrorists for 29 months. Racism may have played a part in the initial indifference to the plight of the poor blacks in the south. But there has been little doubt about the contempt for Arabs, whose plight has not mattered a whit to Washington and whose lives count for so little their dead are not even counted. An outcry from an embarrassed America forced Bush to act in Louisiana. There has been no such American backlash for his debacle in Iraq. The water in New Orleans has high sewage bacteria and high lead levels. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers have been rich in sewage for years. Katrina killed hundreds. The American invasion of Iraq, and the terrorism it spawned, has killed at least 30,000. In both Louisiana and Iraq, too many people died who need not have. We hate such comparisons. They bring home some stark truths, which our media shield us from. But the rest of the world does notice.... The ethos of scratching each others' back that governs the charmed circle of the Bush administration leaves little room for the caring and feeding of ordinary citizens, in America or in Iraq, let alone for any sense of justice, fair play or honesty...."
"Patience Needed As Iraq Finds Its Way"
In an unsigned editorial, the conservative Montreal Gazette wrote (9/5): "The Charlottetown Conference gave substance to the long-simmering idea of a ‘federal union’ of British colonies in North America. Still, it took another three years…to enact the Confederation. The United States constitution had an even longer gestation.... So nobody, least of all in North America, should be surprised that Iraqis found no consensus on a constitution this summer. The ground was not exactly well prepared; under Saddam Hussein, constitutional compromise was not high on the national agenda. Unlike Canada or the U.S., Iraq has no culture of compromise or popular sovereignty. Further, the arbitrary deadlines imposed on the Iraqi process have been a mixed blessing. And of course neither early Canada nor the fledgling U.S. had to deal with dissident/criminal/ancien regime murderers such as Iraq’s ‘insurgents’…. It’s no surprise that the draft which will be put to vote in a few weeks is imperfect. It’s not easy to tell, from here, if the Sunni spokespeople--we won’t call them leaders -- taking part in the constitution talks would ever have agreed to anything. By all accounts the majority Shiites did show willingness to compromise, while the Kurds played their cards with cool competence.... Will Sunnis manifest their displeasure at the ballot box? Can they?... And there is already some reason to believe that the turnout in the constitutional referendum will be higher than the impressive almost 60% in the first legislative elections last January. If hard-line elements in the Sunni population do take part in the referendum, then they might be unable to stop the constitution; if they don’t take part, it will surely win approval. Either way, the Sunni turnout is likely to be much higher in future votes than the last one. And as more and more Sunnis come into the political process, they render it progressively more legitimate, and the bombers less so. Of such small steps is political stability built. The bombings and assassinations will continue. But cold-hearted ruthlessness cannot permanently defeat a population that enjoys free speech and fair elections. Just ask the IRA. The bombers in the shadows in Iraq would be satisfied, it seems, only with a new dictatorship of some kind. But the majority of Iraqis, having tasted the full flavor of self-government, will not let that happen. However slow the pace and convoluted the route, Iraq is making progress."
"U.S. Is Becoming What It Hates"
Foreign affairs columnist Eric Margolis commented in the conservative tabloid Ottawa Sun (9/5): "The most important news from Iraq last week was not the much ballyhooed constitutional pact by Shias and Kurds, nor the tragic stampede deaths of nearly 1,000 pilgrims in Baghdad. The U.S. Air Force's senior officer, Gen. John Jumper, stated U.S. warplanes would remain in Iraq to fight resistance forces and protect the American-installed regime 'more or less indefinitely.' Jumper's bombshell went largely unnoticed due to Hurricane Katrina. Gen. Jumper let the cat out of the bag. While President George Bush hints at eventual troop withdrawals, the Pentagon is busy building four major, permanent air bases in Iraq that will require heavy infantry protection. Jumper's revelation confirms what this column has long said: The Pentagon plans to copy Imperial Britain's method of ruling oil-rich Iraq."
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