Re: US wants pilgrims home from Mecca by 17 Feb.!
- Interesting how the government that promotes itself
as the champion of world freedom, particularly
freedom of religion, presumes to dictate when the
Hajj pilgrims come home :-)
>First, here is a very short but rather alarming item
>that appeared on the front page of the Beirut
>newspaper "as-Safir" for Wednesday, 5 February 2003.
>The climax of the Hajj ceremonies this year is on 10
>February (where the Hajj pilgrims hear a sermon
>outside on the mountain `Arafat, near Mecca). The
>conclusion of Hajj activities is set for 13 February.
>Right now there are about two million pilgrims
>gathering around the Islamic holy sites near Mecca.
>If this report is accurate, it appears that the US
>wants all the pilgrims disbursed (and out of the air)
>by about 17 February . . . for some reason.
>Below that report from Wednesday is a report from the
>Saudi English-language paper "Arab News" of 4
>February, which provides related information -- as
>well as the usual American propaganda crapola.
>as-Safir, Beirut, Wednesday, 5 February 2003
>Washington rushes the return of Hajj pilgrims.
>Diplomatic sources say that a number of Islamic
>countries have recieved American "instructions" asking
>them to bring their Hajj pilgrims back within no more
>than four days after they complete the rites of the
>Hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca and its
>environs. The sources say that various airlines are
>preparing to implement the most extensive civil
>"evacuation" in history!
>War two weeks after Haj: Pentagon source
>By Barbara Ferguson, Arab News Correspondent
>WASHINGTON, 4 February 2003 � The US will go to war
>against Iraq two weeks after Haj, which is scheduled
>to end Feb. 13, a former deputy secretary at the US
>Defense Department told Arab News yesterday.
>�During this massive air attack, the last thing you
>want is cluttered airspace,� a former deputy secretary
>at the Defense Department told Arab News.
>The �buzz� at the Pentagon, he said, is that Gulf War
>II will begin two weeks after Haj, before the end of
>�The big thing is that you don�t want, right after Eid
>Al-Adha, hundreds of airplanes flying all over the
>place, and the Saudis certainly wouldn�t want anyone
>stranded in the Kingdom,� he said.
>Gulf War II will begin with 3,000-guided missiles
>ripping apart Iraqi military and leadership targets
>within the first 48 hours, aimed at facilitating a
>two-pronged ground attack, it was reported yesterday.
>Defense officials also revealed that US warships and
>aircraft bombers would fire an estimated 700 Tomahawk
>cruise missiles during the first two days of high-tech
>strikes. This means that the attack will be 10 times
>more powerful than the opening days of 1991 Gulf war.
>If the US makes the decision to go to war, Pentagon
>officials continued in their briefing, the air
>campaign will be carried out by 600 Air Force and Navy
>radar-jamming, attack and support planes flying from
>bases in the Gulf region and elsewhere, and from four
>or five US aircraft carriers and a British carrier.
>The US Army�s 3rd Infantry Division and a sizable
>contingent of Marines would be assigned to attack
>north from Kuwait, while a force spearheaded by the
>4th Infantry Division would move south from Turkey,
>Pentagon military and civilian officials told
>Military observers see the steady leaking of details
>about the US war plan as part of a last ditch strategy
>by the US to pressure Saddam Hussein to choose exile
>to pave the way for disarmament and the establishment
>of a democratic government in Baghdad.
>�I think the Bush administration was set on war as
>their foreign policy as soon as they were elected,�
>said Simona Sharoni, professor of peace and conflict
>studies and Middle East politics at the Evergreen
>State College in Washington State.
>�These military operations will rebuild the US
>military, and provide a huge allocation for more money
>for the military budget. The US agreed to let the
>weapon inspection teams return to Iraq in order to
>create an ultimatum, because they realized it would
>not be good for them to act unilaterally.� They were
>looking for a �smoking gun� to justify an attack, she
>The �smoking gun� may well be the release of US
>obtained transcripts of Iraqi officials gloating over
>their success in deceiving UN inspectors, which
>Secretary of State Colin Powell will make public when
>he addresses the UN Security Council tomorrow.
>US officials said the conversations on the tapes,
>obtained by American electronic interceptions, reveals
>the Iraqis saying �Move that�, �Don�t be reporting
>that�, and �Ha! Can you believe they missed that?�
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