Good clips Mideast news

Mideast Archive

Sunday, June 08, 2003

Intra-Times Battle Over Iraqi Weapons A dustup between two New York Times reporters over a story on an Iraqi exile leader raises some intriguing questions about the paper's coverage of the search for dangerous weapons thought to be hidden by Saddam Hussein.
  An internal e-mail by Judith Miller, the paper's top reporter on bioterrorism, acknowledges that her main source for such articles has been Ahmad Chalabi, a controversial exile leader who is close to top Pentagon officials. Could Chalabi have been using the Times to build a drumbeat that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction?
  The Chalabi connection surfaced when John Burns, the paper's Pulitzer Prize-winning Baghdad bureau chief, scolded Miller over her May 1 story on the Iraqi without clearing it with him.

Aftenposten Nettutgaven: "An armed Iranian exile group listed as a terrorist organization by the USA and European Union may now get US support to help topple Iran's ruling regime. The Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO)"

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

SCHEER: Saving Private Lynch: Take 2: The video was artfully edited by the Pentagon and released as proof that a battle to free Lynch had occurred when it had not. This fabrication has already been celebrated by an A&E special and will soon be an NBC movie. The Lynch rescue story -- a made-for-TV bit of official propaganda -- will probably survive as the war's most heroic moment, despite proving as fictitious as the stated rationales for the invasion itself. If the movies, books and other renditions of "saving Private Lynch" were to be honestly presented, it would expose this caper as merely one in a series of egregious lies marketed to us by the Bush administration.

Are We Safer?: by Stephen F. Cohen - critics of the war have no reason to regret their views. No sensible opponent doubted that the world's most powerful military could easily crush such a lesser foe. The real issue was and remains very different: Will the Iraq war increase America's national security, as the Bush Administration has always promised and now insists is already the case, or will it undermine and diminish our national security, as thoughtful critics believed? In the weeks, months and years ahead, we will learn the answer to that fateful question by judging developments by seven essential criteria:...

Monday, May 19, 2003

The dollar, the euro, oil, and the Iraq war: "The dollar is the world reserve currency. This gives a huge subsidy to the US economy because if a country wants to hold lots of dollars in reserve they must supply the US with goods and services in return for those dollars. In return the US creates a bit more credit. The more dollars there are circulating outside the US, the more goods and services the US has imported virtually for free.
   This is how the US manages to run a huge trade deficit year after year without apparently any major economic consequences. No other country can run such a large trade deficit with impunity. It is in effect getting a massive interest-free loan from the rest of the world.
   One of Europe's primary objectives, if not the primary objective, of setting up the Euro was to try and get some of this free lunch for Europe. If the Euro became a major reserve currency, or better still replaced the dollar as the major reserve currency, then Europe too could get something for nothing. This would be a disaster for the US.
   ... As countries converted their dollar assets into Euro assets the US property and stock market bubbles would, without doubt, burst. The Federal Reserve would no longer be able to print more money to reflate the bubble as it is currently openly considering doing, There is, however, one major obstacle to this happening: OIL! Oil is of course by far the most important commodity traded internationally, and if you want to buy oil on the international markets you usually have to have dollars.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

WorldNetDaily: Report: 12-year-old Palestinian boy's martyrdom 'staged': The "martyrdom" death of 12-year-old Palestinian Mohammed al-Dura at the hands of Israeli soldiers -- which received widespread international news coverage and spurred on the current intifada, inspiring countless "suicide bombers" to attack Israel -- was actually a "staged" piece of street theater, according to an in-depth report in the current issue of WND's monthly magazine, Whistleblower. [I don't know how credible this is. Who is WND?]

Arundhati Roy: Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy (Buy One, Get One Free), presented in New York City at The Riverside Church May 13, 2003.

Iraqi children face death through malnutrition: "More than 300,000 Iraqi children face death from acute malnutrition, twice as many as before US and British forces invaded the country in March, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned on Wednesday. Many of these -- nearly eight per cent of all Iraqi children under five -- could be saved if the occupation forces ensured that aid convoys could move around freely and kept looters away from water plants and pipelines, it said. The agency, charged with protecting children around the globe, said a survey taken in Baghdad indicated that 7.7 per cent of children under five in urban centres were suffering from acute malnutrition, nearly twice as many as one year ago."

Odyssey of Frustration ( long account of the frustrations of a US Army WMD inspector team in Iraq - false leads, abandoned hazardous radioactive materials, looted sites, lack of Arabic capacity. Never mentions the UN, but the implicit comparison to the UN WMD inspections is damning.

Friday, May 16, 2003

Whatever Happened to Bin Laden?: Springmann complained himself right out of a job. Now a lawyer, he has obtained more information on the questionable "engineers" with no engineering knowledge whom he was ordered to permit into the United States. "What I was protesting was, in reality, an effort to bring recruits, rounded up by Osama bin Laden, to the United States for terrorist training by the CIA. They would then be returned to Afghanistan to fight against the then-Soviets." But then they turned their talents against the post-Soviet power: us. In the parlance of spook-world, this is called "blowback." Bin Laden and his bloody brethren were created in America's own Frankenstein factory. It would not do for the current president nor agency officials to dig back to find that some of the terrorists we are hunting today were trained and armed by the Reagan-Bush administration. And that's one of the problems for agents seeking to investigate groups like WAMY, or Abdullah bin Laden. WAMY literature that talks about that "compassionate young man Osama bin Laden" is likely to have been disseminated, if not written, by our very own government.

Statement From UK Minister Charges Illegal Conduct: "The situation in Iraq under international law is that the coalition are occupying powers in occupied territory. Under the Geneva Convention of 1949 and the Hague regulations of 1907, the coalition has clear responsibilities and clear limits to its authority. It is obliged to attend to the humanitarian needs of the population, to keep order and keep civil administration operating. The coalition is legally entitled to modify the operation of the administration as much as is necessary to fulfil these obligations but is not entitled to make major political, economic and constitutional changes. The coalition does not have sovereign authority and has no authority to bring into being an interim Iraqi government with such authority, or to create a constitutional process leading to the election of a sovereign government. The only body that has the legal authority to do this is the UN Security Council."

Saving Private Lynch story 'flawed': "There was no [sign of] shooting, no bullet inside her body, no stab wound - only road traffic accident. They want to distort the picture. I don't know why they think there is some benefit in saying she has a bullet injury."
   Witnesses told us that the special forces knew that the Iraqi military had fled a day before they swooped on the hospital. Dr Uday was surprised by the manner of the rescue "We were surprised. Why do this? There was no military, there were no soldiers in the hospital," said Dr Anmar Uday, who worked at the hospital. "It was like a Hollywood film. They cried 'go, go, go', with guns and blanks without bullets, blanks and the sound of explosions. They made a show for the American attack on the hospital - action movies like Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan."
   ... There was one more twist. Two days before the snatch squad arrived, Harith had arranged to deliver Jessica to the Americans in an ambulance. 
   But as the ambulance, with Private Lynch inside, approached a checkpoint American troops opened fire, forcing it to flee back to the hospital. The Americans had almost killed their prize catch.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Bush's Boomerang:[Useful capsule history of British/US involvement in Iraq.] With the monarchists now discredited, the US began cultivating a rival--and bitterly anti-communist--Arab nationalist group, the Baath Party, in a bid to destabilize Qasim. In 1959, the young Saddam Hussein was part of a CIA-backed Baathist hit squad that attempted to assassinate Qasim. In February 1963, the Baathists took power in a bloody coup, and unleashed a reign of terror on Iraq's left, as well as the long-suffering Kurds in the north. The CIA, which had been monitoring the Iraqi left, provided the names of who to round up--as it would later do in Indonesia and Chile. The CIA director at the time was John McCone, a longtime Bechtel executive.

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Urban war in plain sight: With the conventional war in Iraq all but over, U.S. forces are working to clear pockets of resistance in Baghdad and other cities where, as U.S. ground forces advanced three weeks ago, thousands of Iraqi soldiers and other loyalists simply removed their uniforms and went home. The battle is now being waged from rooftops and other vantage points against isolated attacks on U.S. troops. The enemy is no longer a conventional Iraqi soldier. It's one who has chosen to strike under cover of darkness. U.S. officials here say some are former Baath Party members or the Fedayeen Saddam paramilitary force. American forces have responded by deploying dozens of sniper teams--such as Osborne and Field--to thwart those attacks. Their standing order: Shoot to kill anyone who fires on U.S. troops or equipment. In the last two weeks, this team alone has recorded more than 20 enemy kills. "All day, you build up for the moment when you fire the shot," Field, 23, says as he and his partner take positions in a hostile zone. "Then there's a feeling of exhilaration, and you feel like you've really done something for your country. You've taken someone out." .... Both men said they were raised in religious homes. Both said they have learned to separate their feelings from their duties.
[Reassuring to know that these folks will be back in the US before long, trained to snipe and to override their consciences.]

Reports Of Weapons 'Greatly Exaggerated': There is no question that Saddam's regime produced, and used, terrible weapons. The odds are that forces will uncover evidence of them. But this is a long way from the claims made in the run-up to war, or the accounts now offered about why the weapons remain so hard to find.

Amy Goodman Interview with Robert Fisk - on the pillage of Baghdad, on Saddam Hussein (in Belarus?), on the coming decades of war. Long.

The Headache of Black Gold Ownership: At the UN, the struggle promises to be merciless. Those principally affected, Russia, China, and France, permanent Security Council Members with veto rights, have no intention of clearing out for the Americans and the British. "Those are legally our reserves. If all else fails, we'll go to the Arbitrage Court in Geneva, which will lead to an immediate freeze on those reserves": as the premiere Russian oil producer, Lukoil, specified, Moscow is determined to fight to secure the contracts it signed with the former regime.
   ...the Republican Administration would like to hew a new legal framework. The acknowledged objective is to support American companies- the Mastodon ExxonMobil and the Texan and Californian "juniors"- who were shut out of the Iraqi oil sector before the war. The future oil authorities could offer some kind of legal immunity, protecting companies from lawsuits before the courts.  New dispositions could, in addition, interdict the bribes that Russian and Chinese companies readily practice.

Friday, April 25, 2003

TRO - "55 Most Wanted" Playing Card Deck Aims for Regime Change in U.S.: In the wake of the U.S.'s "pre-emptive" destruction of Iraq, her people, and her culture, the Trade Regulation Organization is issuing a "55 most wanted" playing-card deck similar to the one that the Pentagon issued two weeks ago in Iraq.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

No war for whose oil?: By YAHYA SADOWSKI - The slogan 'No war for oil' rightly presumes that the Bush administration had plans for post-war profits from Iraq's substantial oil reserves. But those plans were based on the Bush cabal's relationships not with the major oil internationals, but with smaller independent firms. Everybody has now done the maths on Iraqi oil and found that their sums don't add up. [Very interesting and challenging analysis.]

Iraq: misreading the vital signs: A paucity of original sources, a repetition of misinformation, and plain wishful thinking in the West have led to dangerous errors in interpreting the nature and behaviour of the Iraqi regime through the past decade. by DAVID BARAN

MSNBC Reveals Facts on Israel's Weapons of Mass Destruction - unfortunately the MSNBC site is graphic; hard to download the details.

Rethinking Schools - Just For Fun Map Game - interactive map quiz for mideast and N Africa

Monday, April 21, 2003

How to Wage the Peace - [A liberal pro-war view.] Improving on Saddamís rule will be easy. But democracy will take hard work. Donít believe oil riches will make it easier. And above all, donít rush it.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Argument: Robert Fisk: For the people on the streets, this is not liberation but a new colonial oppression America's war of 'liberation' may be over. But Iraq's war of liberation from the Americans is just about to begin

The Carlyle Group - Former World Leaders and Washington Insiders Make Billions from the War on Terrorism: "How will President George W. Bush personally make millions (if not billions) from the Wars on Terror and Iraq? The old fashioned way. He'll inherit it. Meet the Carlyle Group Former World Leaders and Washington Insiders Making Billions in the War on Terrorism"

Saturday, April 19, 2003

India File: The other Saddam - Mani Shankar Aiyar: It was Saddam's revolution that ended Iraqi backwardness. Education, including higher and technological education, became the top priority. More important, centuries of vicious discrimination against girls and women was ended by one stroke of the modernizing dictator's pen.
   ... Iraq under Saddam had everything going for it -- except democracy. And it was, of course, the absence of democracy that accounted for Saddam brushing aside all vested interests: his instant liberation of women, his instant dismantling of feudalism, his instant caging of the priesthood, and, therefore, his instant -- and, yes, brutal -- exclusion from Iraq of all forms of religious fundamentalism and religion-based terrorism. Which is, one thing at least that Osama bin Laden and Bush III share: they hate Saddam equally.
   If Saddam goes, the brutality of the Baath party will finally be ended.
   But other things not wonderful either will take its place. There will be a takeover of civil society by the elements sidelined over four decades of Baath rule. Therefore, along with democracy, fundamentalism and terrorism will rear their heads.
 [Very interesting piece. It does show the hypocrisy of US policy toward Saddam. This story leaves out, though, that Saddam was not the only would-be modernizer at the time he took power. There were also the leftists, whom Saddam slaughtered, with help from the US government. This is also what happened in Iran... because the US had helped the Shah exterminate the Iranian left, there was no one left to replace the Shah, when he fell, except the fundamentalists.]

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Carving Up The New Iraq: "In a special Sunday Herald investigation, we have charted the network of financial kickbacks, political pay-backs, cronyism, self-interest and ferocious ideology that underpins the entire reconstruction scheme. " - [long annotated catalog of interconnected persons and companies; not sure how well informed it is, though, since it lists (Pashtun) Afghan-American Zalmay Khalilzad under "The Arabs".]

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

News: "After days of arson and pillage, here's a short but revealing scorecard. US troops have sat back and allowed mobs to wreck and then burn the Ministry of Planning, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Irrigation, the Ministry of Trade, the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Information. They did nothing to prevent looters from destroying priceless treasures of Iraq's history in the Baghdad Archaeological Museum and in the museum in the northern city of Mosul, or from looting three hospitals.
   The Americans have, though, put hundreds of troops inside two Iraqi ministries that remain untouched -- and untouchable -- because tanks and armoured personnel carriers and Humvees have been placed inside and outside both institutions. And which ministries proved to be so important for the Americans? Why, the Ministry of Interior, of course -- with its vast wealth of intelligence information on Iraq -- and the Ministry of Oil. "

What About Private Lori?: "Lori Piestewa, 23, was killed, with the gruesome distinction of being the first native American in the US army to be killed in combat and the only American servicewoman to die in this war. "

US Troops Encouraged Ransacking Khaled Bayomi looks surprised when the American officer on TV complains that they don't have the resources to stop the plundering in Baghdad. "I happened to be right there just as the American troops encouraged people to begin the plundering."
   Khaled Bayomi traveled from Europe to Baghdad to be a human shield and arrived on the same day that the war began. About this he can tell many stories but the most interesting is certainly his eyewitness account of the wave of plundering.
   "I had gone to see some friends who live near a dilapidated area just past Haifa Avenue on the west bank of the Tigris. It was the 8th of April and the fighting was so intense that I was unable to return to the other side of the river. In the afternoon it became perfectly quiet and four American tanks took places on the edge of the slum area. The soldiers shot two Sudanese guards who stood at their posts outside a local administration building on the other side of Haifa Avenue. Then they blasted apart the doors to the building and from the tanks came eager calls in Arabic encouraging people to come close to them. "
   "The entire morning, everyone who had tried to cross the road had been shot. But in the strange silence after all the shooting, people gradually became curious. After 45 minutes, the first Baghdad citizens dared to come out. Arab interpreters in the tanks told the people to go and take what they wanted in the building."
   "The word spread quickly and the building was ransacked. I was standing only 300 yards from there when the guards were murdered. Afterwards the tank crushed the entrance to the Justice Department, which was in a neighboring building, and the plundering continued there".
   "I stood in a large crowd and watched this together with them. They did not partake in the plundering but dared not to interfere. Many had tears of shame in their eyes. The next morning the plundering spread to the Modern Museum, which lies a quarter mile farther north. There were also two crowds there, one that plundered and one with watched with disgust."
   "Are you saying that it was US troops who initiated the plundering?'
   "Absolutely. The lack of jubilant scenes meant that the American troops needed pictures of Iraqis who in different ways demonstrated hatred for Saddam's regime."

Bomb Before You Buy: Rather than rebuilding, the country is being treated as a blank slate on which the most ideological Washington neo-liberals can design their dream economy: fully privatised, foreign-owned and open for business.
   ...Some argue that it's too simplistic to say this war is about oil. They're right. It's about oil, water, roads, trains, phones, ports and drugs. And if this process isn't halted, "free Iraq" will be the most sold country on earth.
   It's no surprise that so many multinationals are lunging for Iraq's untapped market. It's not just that the reconstruction will be worth as much as $100bn; it's also that "free trade" by less violent means hasn't been going that well lately. More and more developing countries are rejecting privatisation, while the Free Trade Area of the Americas, Bush's top trade priority, is wildly unpopular across Latin America.

Swiss to keep Iraqi funds until UN backs leadership: "Switzerland will not hand over frozen Iraqi assets to a post-Saddam Hussein government backed by the United States without a United Nations resolution, the Swiss government announced Wednesday in an apparent rebuff of the Bush administration."

Sunday, April 13, 2003

A civilisation torn to pieces - Fisk: "They lie across the floor in tens of thousands of pieces, the priceless antiquities of Iraq's history. The looters had gone from shelf to shelf, systematically pulling down the statues and pots and amphorae of the Assyrians and the Babylonians, the Sumerians, the Medes, the Persians and the Greeks and hurling them on to the concrete. Our feet crunched on the wreckage of 5,000-year-old marble plinths and stone statuary and pots that had endured every siege of Baghdad, every invasion of Iraq throughout history ­ only to be destroyed when America came to "liberate" the city. The Iraqis did it. They did it to their own history, physically destroying the evidence of their own nation's thousands of years of civilisation. Not since the Taliban embarked on their orgy of destruction against the Buddhas of Bamiyan and the statues in the museum of Kabul ­ perhaps not since the Second World War or earlier ­ have so many archaeological treasures been wantonly and systematically smashed to pieces. "

Collected by Jonathan March with Radio Userland software