|15/12/03||GI Special 155: Insurrection In Hilla|
GI Special: firstname.lastname@example.org 12.16.03
Insurrection In Hilla
"Resistance To Occupation Will Grow"
(Sami Ramadani was a political refugee from Saddam's regime and is a senior lecturer in sociology at London Metropolitan University)
The joy was deep, but the pain, too, was overwhelming as I remembered relatives and friends who lost their lives opposing Saddam's tyranny or in his wars.
I remember my disappeared and dearest school friend, Hazim, whom I hugged goodbye in 1969 at the canteen of the college of medicine in Baghdad. I never saw him again. Although only 15, Hazim had the courage to distribute anti-Ba'athist leaflets at our school in Baghdad within months of the 1963 CIA-backed coup that brought the Ba'athists to power. I remember, too, my dear friend Ghassan, who died in a hospital in Canada after many years in exile. He didn't live to see the moment he had waited so long for.
What will the Americans do with their captive? Is Saddam going to face a trial? Will the truth of his mass murders and crimes come out? Will the trial shed light on how the US backed him and supplied him with chemical weapons? Will it reveal how the US encouraged him to launch the war on Iran, causing the death of a million Iranians and Iraqis? Will the trial go into the alliances with and support for Saddam by so many of members and parties now in the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council? The dark clouds over Iraq haven't lifted yet.
Thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed by the US-led unjust and immoral war, and the death toll continues to rise as innocent people are being killed in US military raids, bombardments and Sharon-style collective punishment, and harmed by the depleted uranium shells used by the US-led forces. So at this moment of joy, other questions keep intruding: Who is going to try Bremer, Bush, Rumsfeld and Blair? Will Iraq ever be free?
One thing I do know: Saddam was not leading the resistance from his dirty little hole. This was acknowledged yesterday by an unlikely source - Sherif bin Ali, a relative of the last Iraqi king, Faisal II, and a strong supporter of the US-led invasion. "The truth must be spelt out," he said, "Saddam has nothing to do with the resistance. His cowardly surrender confirms what we have known all along... It is time to negotiate with the resistance. It is time to call on the resistance to declare a truce."
It has suited the US to blame Saddam for the resistance to the occupation and to use him as a pretext for the continued occupation. But Bin Ali is merely confirming what the CIA and US Congress sources have recently confirmed: that there are no less than 15 organisations involved in the resistance, which enjoys widespread support. A recent CIA report admitted that, "there are thousands in the resistance - not just a core of Ba'athists", and concluded that "the resistance is broad, strong and getting stronger".
Saddam's surrender is likely to embolden the political forces in Iraq which, until now, feared that a call for the immediate end to the occupation might help Saddam return to power.
The largely peaceful resistance in Baghdad and the so-called Shia areas of Iraq will also attract greater attention. In the past two weeks, trade union leaders in Baghdad and the south have been arrested. The occupation authorities shamelessly used Saddam's 1987 law barring trade union activity within state institutions. But such opposition will be difficult to suppress.
This week in Hilla, a so-called Shia city, a militant but peaceful mass insurrection succeeded in deposing Iskander Jawad Witwit, the US-appointed governor. The thousands who besieged the governor's office called for free elections to replace him.
Now that Saddam is no longer a bogeyman to scare the people with, trade union and other mass opposition is likely to increase, complementing and coalescing with the armed opposition.
One demand is now uniting nearly all Iraqis, from armed resisters to trade unionists to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Elections! And it is the one demand to which the US has refused to agree, because it has accurately assessed the likely result. That is also why it swiftly moved to stop elections of city mayors and why, a few weeks ago, it sacked the elected dean of Baghdad university after his outspoken criticisms of the occupation authorities.
Saddam's ignominious end is likely to weaken US-led efforts to divide the Iraqis along sectarian and national lines. In memory of all those who died resisting Saddam's tyranny, the peaceful and armed resistance is likely to intensify and attract greater support across the world, including that of the American people.
IRAQ WAR REPORTS:
Fresh Wave Of Attacks
"The Resistance Will Increase;"
"Now All The People Who Oppose The Americans Will Join"
Violence continued with a flurry of car bombings and attempted bombings against Iraqi police stations Monday. In the worst blast, a four-wheel drive vehicle packed with explosives drove through the razor wire protecting the station in Baghdads district of Husainiyah, demolishing the buildings facade and damaging nearby shops. Eight Iraqi officers were killed and 10 officers and five civilians were wounded.
"People did this to say, `We can do this even though you caught Saddam,' " said Salem Abed Ali, 40, who was rocked at his breakfast table this morning, along with his wife and two children, when a bomb exploded across the street, at a police station in the Husseiniya neighborhood. "They want to keep battling inside Iraqi lands."
In his national address on Sunday, President Bush cautioned Americans that the "capture of Saddam Hussein does not mean the end of violence in Iraq." His warning appeared to be confirmed in the rubble, shredded cars and bloodied bits of human being at the sites of the two bombings today, one of them at a place where American military investigators work but had not yet shown up for the day.
"Saddam does not have the power to do these things," said a police lieutenant in Husseiniya, Ali Ismael, 25, his forehead bandaged and his shirt dotted with bloody specks from the blast there. "His ability is too weak. Last night we saw him in a hole."
Some Iraqis believe Mr. Hussein's capture may actually fuel the insurgency.
"Of course there will be violence, and resistance will increase," said Col. Ibrahim Mutlak, director of police patrols for Salahadin Province, where Mr. Hussein's hometown, Tikrit, is. "Lots of people didn't want to join the resistance because they didn't want to be called Saddam supporters. But now all the people who oppose the Americans will join."
In Ramadi and Khaldiya, two other strongholds for Mr. Hussein west of Baghdad, huge crowds chanted in support of him and fired off weapons this evening, apparently because of rumors that he had not in fact been captured.
There were also reports of exchanges of gunfire with passing American troops in Ramadi, possibly resulting in Iraqi casualties, though that could not immediately be confirmed.
While many police stations have been reinforced with blast walls and huge barriers of dirt, the station in Husseiniya, a working-poor neighborhood of mostly Shiite Muslims in the far north of Baghdad, had little protection other than concertina wire and an ordinary wall of concrete block.
Col. Hamad Ghazan of the police said he was looking out the window of the building's second story at 7:55 a.m., during a change of shifts, when he saw a four-wheel-drive vehicle, painted like a taxi, speed toward the entrance of the building. One police officer, he said, shot at the vehicle, which then careened through the concertina wire and hit his own car, parked out front, preventing it from making its way to the building's entrance. Then it exploded.
"It was a very, very big explosion," he said. "If my car hadn't been there, he would have gotten inside. And it would have been much worse."
The blast hurled the vehicle's engine block, and part of the chassis, into the courtyard and carved out a crater perhaps five feet deep in the asphalt road. The inside of the building was shattered, with windows blown out and plaster raining down the floor. This morning, a foot of the bomber, along with part of his face, were still sitting the courtyard, surrounded by curious neighbors.
About 45 minutes later, in the upscale neighborhood of Amariya, two men driving cars with bombs attacked the city's police unit that investigates serious crimes like bank robbery, murder and car theft rings.
An Iraqi investigator, Ali Abdel al-Sada, 32, said he was outside the building when he saw an old Peugot speed toward the entrance gate and explode. At least seven Iraqi police officers were injured, officials said.
A few seconds later, a white Land Cruiser sped through the smoke and debris, as its driver let off shots from an automatic rifle, Mr. Sada said. The vehicle forced its way down a passageway that leads to the building's front door. The attacker and the building's guards exchanged fire and the attacker escaped without setting off his bomb, which described as two huge underwater mines placed the vehicle.
"You can destroy a submarine with this," he said.
Sgt. Dave Scott, 37, a detective and National Guardsman from St. Louis, said there was also a "mound" of plastic explosives in the car. He said that it was only by chance that the American soldiers who usually work at the unit were not there at the time of the blast.
"We were actually pretty lucky, because we were scheduled to be out on an early mission, but it got canceled at the last minute," he said. "We probably would have been there."
Sergeant Scott he doubted that Mr. Hussein's arrest would stop further attacks. "It doesn't look like it's slowed down, whoever is doing this," he said. (The Sgt. has got it right.)
SOLDIER DIES FROM NON-HOSTILE GUNSHOT WOUND
HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND
BAGHDAD, Iraq A Coalition Joint Task Force (CJTF-7) soldier died today at approximately 7:30 a.m. local time from a non-hostile gunshot wound.
The soldier was transported to the 28th Combat Support Hospital.
Fort Carson Soldier Falls From Vehicle, Dies In Iraq
Written By:Jeannie Piper mailto:email@example.com, Web Producer 9.News.com 12.15.03
AR RAMADI, Iraq - A Fort Carson soldier died Monday when he fell out of a vehicle that hit a bump in the road. The soldier, identified as Spc. Rian C. Ferguson, 22, of Taylors, S.C., suffered chest trauma, the military said. He was assigned to the Regimental Support Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.
The vehicle was traveling near Al Asad, Iraq. The accident is being investigated.
The soldier is the 31st to die from the Colorado Springs post.
Sgt. Defends Freedom To Criticize War
Perhaps I missed something in the staff sergeants letter "Clark crossed the line" [Nov. 10]. Politics aside, the general is retired, which in my book means he can do and say what he pleases. Hes earned the right.
Furthermore, to question the leadership that has pressed this nation into war is not only expected, but also what anyone should demand from our leaders. To blindly follow orders like lemmings is not our doctrine nor is it part of our societal fabric.
To debate Iraq "after everything is said and done" would be a greater disservice to the American fighting force than saying nothing at all. Clarks silence would validate the "regime change," with which he so clearly disagrees. One could counter, at what number of American dead should we begin to question what we are doing?
If we are to keep our opinions to ourselves, then why bother to write Army Times? Why take an oath to support and defend the Constitution? Why not just abridge freedom of speech or press?
Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Brown
Army Times 12.15.03
Do you have a friend or relative in the service? Forward this E-MAIL along, or send us the address if you wish and well send it regularly. Whether in Iraq or stuck on a base in the USA, this is extra important for your service friend, too often cut off from access to encouraging news of growing resistance to the war, at home and in Iraq, and information about other social protest movements here in the USA. Send requests to address up top. For copies on web site see:http://www.notinourname.net/gi-special/
Fresh Meat For Bushs Slaughterhouse;
South Dakota Engineers Activated For Operation Iraqi Oppression
Gov. Mike Rounds thanked hundreds of people in Huron, Parkston, Wagner and Madison on Dec. 3 at activation ceremonies for the 153rd Engineer Battalion of the South Dakota Army National Guard.
The 485-member 153rd Battalion has headquarters in Huron. The soldiers in the battalion soon will report to an out-of-state mobilization center for training and then deploy to support Operation Iraqi Freedom.
(For news of thousands of soldiers calling in their opposition to the war, see the interview with GI Rights Hotline coordinator Teresa Panepinto at www.socialistworker.org)
Silly Hysteria Department:
Jets Scrambled For Pissed Off Granny
WHATS UP: U.S. military fighter jets, which have patrolled the skies since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, quickly responded Nov. 25 when an American Airlines flight leaving Miami reported a incident on board.
But they may not have been needed. The problem, according to a Reuters report, was that an elderly woman thought to be in her 70s was angry with flight attendants, who called for help because they were worried she might attack. The airliner returned under military escort to Miami, where the woman was removed from the flight.
"Modest" 53% Think Iraq War Worth Fighting
The capture produced no boost in the number of Americans who say the Iraq war was worth fighting, a modest 53 percent. And even with Saddam's apprehension, just 14 percent say the war is going better than they expected for the United States; nearly twice as many, 27 percent, say it's going worse.
IRAQ RESISTANCE ROUNDUP
Resistance Hitting Pipelines Once A Day;
Occupation Troops Withdrawn From Protection Duty
Hashim Abdul Ghafour Shakir, deputy director of the government-run Oil Pipelines Company, which manages 4,200 miles of pipelines, estimated that there was an average of one attack per day by guerrillas or looters on the pipelines between here and Baghdad. On Tuesday, saboteurs damaged three pipelines, including one to Bayji.
The pipelines, just a few feet underground, make easy targets. A broken oil pipeline usually takes one to four days to repair, Mr. Shakir said, while one carrying liquid propane gas can take up to three weeks because the entire pipeline first has to be drained.
Mr. Shakir also acknowledged that the lines' enormous lengths made them difficult to protect. "Sure, they need some backup or support," he said. He suggested that the United States Army run helicopter patrols.
Maj. Josslyn Aberle, a spokeswoman for the Fourth Infantry Division, which operates in northern Iraq, said American soldiers no longer had any responsibility for protecting the pipelines, though they might respond to explosions.
Managers have been meeting daily with workers from Kellogg, Brown & Root, but the Iraqis have received nothing more than empty promises, Mr. Riyadh Ghassab, the director general, said.
"They have consumed a lot of tea here," he said. "A lot of tea and paper, because all we get is paperwork from them. "
NO WIN; BRING THEM ALL HOME NOW
"Saddam Would Kill You In Private;
The Americans Will Kill You In Public"
It's great that he's caught, but it wasn't him who screwed up the petrol and the electricity and everything else so badly, so now a canister of gas that was 250 dinars costs 4,000, if you can get one," said Ghazi, a 52-year-old dentist. "This is an oil country and it should be rich. It should not be Afghanistan."
"The Americans promised freedom and prosperity; what's this? Go up to their headquarters, at one of those checkpoints where they point their guns at you, and tell them that you hate them as much as Saddam, and see what they do to you," said Mohammad Saleh, 39, a building contractor.
"The only difference is that Saddam would kill you in private, where the Americans will kill you in public," he said.
Angry Demonstrators Attack Police Stations, Government Buildings
Angry Iraqis used rocket-propelled grenades to attack police stations and trashed a government office in a show of force after the US military announced the former dictator's capture.
In Baghdad demonstration degenerated into fighting and attacks on two police stations in the Sunni Muslim quarter of Adhamiyeh in the northern sector of the capital Monday afternoon.
"About 100 assailants attacked two police stations in the district with automatic weapons and RPGs from along the roofs and in the street," Lieutenant Haidar Zuheir said.
The attack came after police fired into the air to disperse the loyalists approaching one station, said Ali Abdul Jaber, a witness. The protesters scattered into adjacent streets but then began to aim at the police station.
The exchange of fire lasted several hours and when night fell, a foot patrol of American soldiers entered Adhamiyeh.
About 200 people protested in Adhamiyeh on Sunday evening with portraits of the deposed leader. "Saddam is the glory of our country," they chanted.
In the Sunni rebel stronghold of Fallujah, 35 miles west of Baghdad, pro-Saddam demonstrators sacked the regional government offices, forcing police guards to flee, journalists at the scene said.
The demonstrators stormed into the building, broke up the furniture, computers and air conditioning and then destroyed documents.
They set all the wreckage alight in a huge bonfire outside, the correspondents said. Two large pictures of Saddam and Iraqi flags were hung from the top of the building.
US soldiers were not seen around the government offices when the demonstration took place but were deployed in force Monday night.
Troops took control of the sacked building and stationed themselves around the local Iraqi police station which had been deserted in the afternoon.
Military aircraft dropped flares and US soldiers used loudhailers to call on residents to give up their arms. They threatened to "shoot anyone seen with a gun in his hand."
Some 30 miles further west in Ramadi, protesters took to the streets and stormed the governor's building and put up Saddam posters.
A Few Get It;
Hussein Irrelevant To Resistance;
Iraqis Fighting To Free Their Country From U.S. Imperialism
"In a sense, this brings us to the moment of truth about the character of the insurgency," said retired Army colonel Andrew Bacevich, a professor of international studies at Boston University.
"If the insurgency was motivated by a hope to restore the old regime, then one might think that things will now collapse," Bacevich said.
"But if the insurgency has all along been about something other than simply restoring the Baathist party, as many of us think, we will find that it will continue regardless of the fact that Saddam is captured," he said
Some experts say the insurgency is durable. They point out that after Saddams sons, Qusay and Uday, were killed in a gun battle this summer with U.S. troops, insurgents stepped up attacks.
W. Patrick Lang, a retired Army intelligence officer and an authority on the Arab world, said the insurgency is being fueled by Iraqi nationalism
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the manner in which Saddam was living makes it clear that "he was not managing the insurgency, and he had very little influence. "This is significant and disturbing because it means the insurgents are not fighting for Saddam, theyre fighting against the United States."
What do you think? Comments from service men and women, and veterans, are especially welcome. Send to the E-mail address up top. Name, I.D., withheld on request. Replies confidential.
Iraqis Know Who The Enemy Is:
(THANKS TO Y WHO E-MAILED THIS IN: Y WRITES:)
Lou Dobbs (on CNN's MoneyLine) says that he's baffled why Iraqis aren't showing more gratitude towards the US occupation and their capture of Saddam.
Well, it's because the Iraqis know full well the cost of US interventions in Iraq.
It was ordinary Iraqis who paid the price in blood for the Baath Party's CIA-assisted consolidation of power. It was ordinary Iraqis who were conscripted and forced to fight a US-backed (and armed) war against Iran, at a cost of millions of victims on both sides. It was ordinary Iraqis that died and suffered under the US-backed UN-imposed sanctions.
It was ordinary Iraqis that had to live through some of the most intense aerial bombardments in history.
No, the Iraqis are not grateful. Whatever relief they may have that Saddam is caught, is outweighed by the fact that the power which created Saddam is the same power that is now directly occupying their country. A power that has more planes and rockets and bombs and firepower than Saddam could have dreamt of. And that's a terrifying thought.
There is absolutely nothing the US government can do to win the hearts and minds of Iraqis.
The Iraqi people have lived and suffered through the lies and deceits of imperialist countries. And they are living through this lies today. Their daily experience confirms the collective history that Iraqis have of living under occupation.
And let me tell you that being oppressed by a foreign occupation leaves no illusions and no confusions as to who the enemy is. Even the Iraqi stooges in the us-appointed government have to pay lip service to the people's yearning for freedom. The resistance will only grow and become more organized. With Saddam out of the picture, the Shiite majority may start playing a more pronounced role in the resistance. The Shiites in Lebanon played a HUGE role in the resistance against the Israeli occupation.
It's too soon to tell. But who knows? Maybe the Bush administration is gonna wish they never caught Saddam.
GET SOME TRUTH: CHECK OUT TRAVELING SOLDIER
Telling the truth - about the occupation, the cuts to veterans benefits, or the dangers of depleted uranium - is the first reason Traveling Soldier is necessary. But we want to do more than tell the truth; we want to report on the resistance - whether it's in the streets of Baghdad, New York, or inside the armed forces. Our goal is for Traveling Soldier to become the thread that ties working-class people inside the armed services together. We want this newsletter to be a weapon to help you organize resistance within the armed forces. If you like what you've read, we hope that you'll join with us in building a network of active duty organizers. http://www.traveling-soldier.org/
Military Dictator Reminds Iraqis They Have No Rights;
Demonstrators Punished" And "Ringleader" Arrested
TIKRIT, Iraq Chanting "Saddam is in our hearts, Saddam is in our blood, " about 700 people rallied in Saddam Husseins hometown on Monday to protest his arrest by U.S. troops.
Soldiers and police monitoring the demonstration chanted back: "Saddam is in our jail,", which is based here.
A brawl erupted when the security forces waded into the crowd to arrest a ringleader of the protest, said Lt. Col. Steven Russell who commands a battalion in 4th Infantry Brigade. The man was handed over to Iraqi police.
"They were reminded that protests are not authorized and that participation in protests is punishable," Russell said. (Another showboat Lt. Col. As usual, the resistance will soon be reminding Lt. Col. Russell whose country he has invaded and occupied. And, unfortunately, it will be the grunts who pay the price with their lives, not shit-mouth Russell.)
OCCUPATION ISNT LIBERATION
BRING ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW!
REPORT FROM BASRA
General News Round-Up, By Ewa Jasiewicz, Occupation Watch
British soldiers are coming under attack more now that they did during the war according to an anonymous soldier source based in Basra. Conversation at an undisclosed military location revealed that a British convoy came under fire yesterday on the highway to Basra Airport, home to British Forces Divisional HQ and corporate war profiteers Bechtel. The source said that a vehicle had been hit and soldiers returned fire but there were no injuries.
Probed further, he said, 'Our lads are coming under attack more now then they were during the war. We're getting shot at every day. There's much more danger now than during the war'.
He went on to say that the situation was beginning to mirror that of the occupation in Northern Ireland where 'soldiers are going to start getting killed everyday and it'll barely make the papers'. He stressed that 'It seems like everyone's forgotten about us back home'.
When questioned about heavy machine gun fire heard two days ago at approximately 4.30pm near Coalition Provisional Authority South HQ (based in the former Baath Republican Palace), he put it down to 'tribal warfare'. Asked to explain the situation with regards to this warfare he said, 'There's whole villages out there, thousands of people, with tribes fighting each other. We don't want to get in the middle of that. Us going in there with eight of us? I don't think so'.
This statement implied that troop levels were either too low to, or there was an unwillingness for, British Forces to carry out their obligations under the 1949 Geneva Conventions to provide for the safety of the civilian population. British Troops can be mustered up to contain and kill protestors as happened with a spontaneous demonstration involving former soldiers demanding survival-benefits in Maqal in September and also in Majal Al-Kabir in June, where four demonstrators were shot dead, protesting against British forces inflaming of religious-cultural taboos by humiliating women by entering their rooms without permission.
The heavy gun fire erupted in rapid continual bursts lasting 20-30 seconds two days ago. A corporate manager frequenting the Palace told me, 'The gunfire came from beside the Palace'. Beside the palace? Who would risk almost certain death blasting off a heavy-ammo machine gun outside the HQ of the British Occupation Administration? For what? Stress release? A frustration vent? Some kind of 'prolonged symbolic warning?' The fire must have been directed at the Palace itself.
To credit both the historical Baath-fighting resistance in the south and the efforts of the working class British soldiers patrolling the streets of Basra, many people are relieved, appreciative and speak well of the British soldiers saying 'they are nice, they are good'. And they do get a lot of thumbs up when they drive by too. 'But American - NO', add most people, as US troops were the first to come through and occupy the area, shooting, beating and searching people indiscriminately and behaving aggressively - probably due to desert-battle and colleague death trauma (70% of the front line of advance was slaughtered coming into Iraq, meaning the second joined the battered first and the third line became the second line etc etc) and suspicion of Fedayheen blended into the local population everywhere.
Three days ago I met a woman by chance in the offices of a Kuwaiti subcontracting firm who began to tell my friend that soldiers had raided her house in Hor Zuber approximately three weeks ago. She said she had no sons, just three daughters, and that no one in her family had done anything wrong.
'They came in and messed up everything, they wrecked my television set - why did they do that? - and they terrified my daughters. My youngest is having nightmares now, she's totally afraid'. She also alleged that they had stolen 20,000 ID ($10), however my friend felt this was a lie, spun to capitalize on the incident. However, if it was, why was the amount so low, why not lie about more? In saying that, $10 is a weekly wage for many of the 30% of the 24 million and rising Iraqi population currently able to work. The alleged search occurred at 4 am and the unit did not have a translator with them, a requirement under current occupation regulations. 'They didn't bring one until much much after they had left', she said.
Former soldiers demanding survival-payment from the CPA have rioted outside CP South HQ twice in the past four days, hurling rocks and abuse at the tank-flanked gates. The ex-soldiers were given anti-rebellion payments of $120 twice in July and August, but since then have received a fraction if anything at all. Local people complain that some individuals claimed benefits three times in the names of different people, defrauding their desperate former colleagues.
The military arm of the state was the biggest employer in Iraq; weapon (chemical and ordinary artillery) production, tank and vehicle manufacturing, compulsory service, and wars - both that against the Kurds, Shia and Communists - and Iran and Kuwait, created a military occupation of Iraq's population long before the multinational forces invaded. Iraq was living on a war-footing, off a war economy, under attack, for nearly a generation during its lost wars on Iran and Kuwait. Saddam's internal empire forging, and all the blood letting, life cheapening, chemical incineration of entire villages, torture as a means
of mass (policy) communication, population transferring, and home-demolishing it struck with it, has left its coerced Shia slaves, traumatized, impoverished and desperate for funds to feed their families.
Former Baathists of all ranks are being executed on an almost daily basis. The revenge-killings are thought to be the work of religious Shia parties whose members suffered the most under the dictatorship. Those still in power in local government are protected in their movements by Iraqi police and in position by the Occupation Administration. One, a former intelligence officer, was pointed out to me by a former Baath party youth propaganda teacher, a position she said she carried out under duress, at a heavily-guarded cabinet dinner in the exorbitant Cassa Sultan Hotel.
Three weeks ago, the head of the Democratic Athurian Party in Basra was killed by unknown religious party members for supplying British troops with alcohol.
Incendiary devices are found in Basra on a daily basis (5-9 estimate). Locals and private security firm bodyguards say they're not serious and are simply moneymaking scams by local pranksters or gangsters eager to net the cash reward offered by the Brits for discovered bombs.
Improvised Electronic Devices (IEDs) are cheap and easy to make, especially given the unexploded tank shells, mines and munitions still lying around all over the country, many of which are being scavenged and recycled by the resistance into an effective anti-Occupation arsenal. 'They are doing everything they can to stop this, but its very hard, its hard to prove who planted them', told me one private bodyguard. One large IED was found and diffused outside of the home of the boss of Iraqi-Kuwaiti manpower recruitment company Dehdari. The local rumor mill, based on reasonable logic, has it that he is a CIA agent, netting and vetting Iraqi workers for key KBR construction contracts and crucial and sensitive service provisions for the Palace (CPA HQ).
Iraq's biggest oil company - The Southern Oil Company has been on high security alert for the past week following the resistance victory over the oil fields in Kirkuk where production is negligible now following daily pipeline and infrastructure attack.
The old Baath 'Palace' itself is little more than a British Colonial-era-style mahogany paneled house set in basic green-lawned grounds (The emperor has no clothes!). The asphalt inner-roads are navigated by golf-buggy cruising plumy press officers whose refusal to answer questions is a smile-carried charmed, 'I couldn't possibly tell you that'.
Hefty concrete wall-slabs ring it. The grounds bear trailer offices and press rooms, carpeted and soft-lit, and a trailer cafeteria with a chalet-like interior, decorated with Technicolor vivid pictures and posters of rolling desert and field landscapes. The staff are Pakistani and Philippino workers (for security reasons, to limit poisoning-possibilities), who serve up iced-tea, curries, tuna-pasta salads, fruit jellies, sponge-cakes and every all-American condiment you can think of. Contractors chow down with intelligence officers, and lone soldiers stir plates of tumeric-yellow oily spuds beside jabbering media spin-doctors and decree forgers. White marquees dot the approach to the 'palace', home to Nepalese Ghurka and Fijian troops, serving their British masters as security guards, patrolling the palace and manning the main back gate.
This writer was rejected by the Head of CPA South, former British ambassador to Pakistan Sir Hilary Synnott.
He wasn't expecting me, I tagged along with an Economist/Financial Times journalist but I had a covering letter from Red Pepper Magazine which I write for once a month, But, it was of no use. 'He thinks you might not respect things like 'off the record', I was told by the Bond-like canny press officer. 'Based on what, exactly?', I replied. 'He doesn't know which paper youre from, he's never heard of it'. 'He can call up my editor she can clarify everything for him' 'He's made up his mind', was the apologetically smile driven end.
I had to content myself with earwigging on conversations in the Press Office/political advisory office: 'We need a coffee shop at the palace, do you think we can find a firm to provide one? We can have anyone as long as its KBR (all-round chortle chortles) 'What about Iraqis providing one? 'They can't do that.' 'Why not', 'They don't know how to make cappuccinos', (Chortle) and listlessly reading the press/political advisory office pinboards and trying to figure out if the TE Lawrence quote up on one was utterly racist or not: 'Better let them do a poor solution than you presenting the best. For the land is theirs and the future and your time is short'.
The offices of the BBC lie next to the palace, perfectly positioned to digest the freshly-fed news and regurgitate it on to the British public, straight from the Chief's mouth, and into the inboxes of UK content and news controllers, monitoring with military precision what is allowed to be known, where the Occupation and any dying Iraqi civilians or soldiers, dropped off the news agenda along with the last shot-off limb.
Bremer Lunacy Rolls On;
"Journalists Are Always Assassinating People"
Indeed the headquarters of Paul Bremmer, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, is one of the more bizarre institutions ever seen in the Middle East. It is wholly divorced from the world around it. The last time I was there I was stopped by a friendly Gurkha soldier who was happy to talk about Katmandu but otherwise was determined to let nobody into the building. Then a security officer from Texas, so far as I could tell from the accent, stopped me belligerently saying: "Journalists are always assassinating people. We are not letting you in."
One of the curiosities about US and British attitudes to political events in Iraq is that it is often based on the belief that ordinary Iraqis do not know what is happening. In fact they are politically very sophisticated. For over a decade many of them have had nothing to do but listen to foreign radio broadcasts in Arabic from the BBC, Monte Carlo and Voice of America. The quality of news they listen to is probably higher than that viewed or heard by most people in Europe or the US.
Iraqis learned from an early stage after the fall of Baghdad that the only thing that had an impact on policy makers in Washington was physical violence. This does not mean that they all favored or would take part in guerrilla war. Very few regretted the departure of Saddam Hussein. But they knew that moderate opposition to US policy would get nowhere. This is an important point.
DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK
WMD FOUND IN SADDAM'S BEARD
Bush: Whiskers No Longer a Threat to U.S.
The search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq came to an end today as U.S. military officials found chemical, biological and nuclear weapons hidden in the scraggly beard of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
The Iraqi madman had instructed his weapons scientists to create the WMD in microscopic form so that he could carry them around on his person at all times, the officials said.
U.S. General Ricardo Sanchez said that the discovery of WMD nestled in Saddam's unkempt facial hair closes the book on one of Operation Iraqi Freedom's most enduring mysteries.
"Now we know why we never found the weapons of mass destruction," General Sanchez told reporters. "We never dreamed they were tiny enough to be hidden on someone's face."
The general added that Saddam was capable of launching his deadly weapons cache merely by shaking his head.
After he was captured, Saddam received a shave and a haircut from the Halliburton Company, who charged the former dictator the entire $750,000 he had in his possession.
The deadly beard was then stored in an airtight container and transferred to a U.S. military laboratory in Wiesbaden, Germany for future study.
At a press conference in Washington, President Bush praised the military for removing Saddam's lethal beard once and for all.
"Thanks to the efforts of our coalition, Saddam Hussein's whiskers will no longer harbor the world's deadliest weapons," Mr. Bush said.
Later in his press conference, the President revealed that U.S. forces found Saddam after receiving a tip from Tikrit that there was an ass in a hole in the ground.
EX-DICTATOR DEMANDS BACK PAY FROM BAKER
Former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein was taken into custody yesterday at 8:30 p.m. Baghdad time. Various television executives, White House spin doctors and propaganda experts at the Pentagon are at this time wrestling with the question of whether to claim PFC Jessica Lynch seized the ex-potentate or that Saddam surrendered after close hand-to-hand combat with current Iraqi strongman Paul Bremer III.
Ex-President Hussein himself told US military interrogators that he had surfaced after hearing of the appointment of his long-time associate James Baker III to settle Iraq's debts. "Hey, my homeboy Jim owes me big time," Mr. Hussein stated. He asserted that Baker and the prior Bush regime, "owe me my back pay. After all I did for these guys you'd think they'd have the decency to pay up."
While having his hair styled by US military makeover artists, Saddam listed jobs completed at the request of his allies in the Carter, Reagan and Bush administrations for which he claims back wages:
1979: Seizes power with US approval; moves allegiance from Soviets to USA in Cold War.
1980: Invades Iran, then the "Unicycle of Evil," with US encouragement and arms.
1982: Reagan regime removes Saddam's regime from official US list of state sponsors of terrorism.
1983: Saddam hosts Donald Rumsfeld in Baghdad. Agrees to "go steady" with US corporate suppliers.
1984: US Commerce Department issues license for export of aflatoxin to Iraq useable in biological weapons.
1988: Kurds in Halabja, Iraq, gassed.
1987-88: US warships destroy Iranian oil platforms in Gulf and break Iranian blockade of Iraq shipping lanes, tipping war advantage back to Saddam.
In Baghdad today, the US-installed replacement for Saddam, Paul Bremer, appeared to acknowledge his predecessor Saddam's prior work for the US State Department when he told Iraqis, "For decades, you suffered at the hands of this cruel man. For decades, Saddam Hussein divided you and threatened an attack on your neighbors."
In reaction to the Bremer speech, Mr. Hussein said, "Do you think those decades of causing suffering, division and fear come cheap?" Noting that for half of that period, the suffering, division and threats were supported by Washington, Saddam added, "So where's the thanks? You'd think I'd at least get a gold watch or something for all those years on US payroll."
In a televised address from the Oval Office, George W. Bush raised Saddam's hopes of compensation when he cited Iraq's "dark and painful history" under the US-sponsored Hussein dictatorship.
Saddam was also heartened by Mr. Bush's promise that, "The capture of Saddam Hussein does not mean the end of violence in Iraq." With new attacks by and on US and other foreign occupation forces, the former strongman stated, "It's reassuring to know my legacy of darkness and pain for Iraqis will continue under the leadership of President Bush."
While lauding the capture of Mr. Hussein, experts caution that the War on Terror is far from over, noting that Osama bin Laden, James Baker and George W. Bush remain at large.
AFGHANISTAN WAR REPORTS
Resistance Welcomes Stooge Loya Jirga With Rocket Attack On Kabul
Early Tuesday three rockets slammed into Kabul, shattering windows and rattling nerves but causing no casualties, officials said. The blasts came as Afghan leaders were in Kabul for a constitutional loya jirga, or grand council, to ratify Afghanistan's first post-Taliban constitution dictated by the U.S. Occupation.
Wow! He Figured It Out!
"In the frontier area, we seem to have no traction, and our money doesn't work," said a U.S. counter-terrorism official familiar with the hunt for the Al Qaeda leader. Josh Meyer,The Los Angeles Times 15 December 2003
CLASS WAR NEWS
"You're a very good worker," said the efficiency expert schooled in the time-and-motion studies of Frederick Taylor, as he watched a carpenter plane a piece of wood. "Now if we can just stick a buffer on your elbow you could plane and buff the wood with the same motion."
"Yea," the carpenter responded, "and if you'd stick a broomstick up your ass you could take your notes and sweep the floor at the same time."
South Korean protesters march during a protest against the government's decision to send troops to Iraq and the US occupation of the Middle East country.(AFP/Jung Yeon-Je)
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