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Iraq: the resistance continues

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    US DETENTION OF SUSPECTS PROVES A PR DISASTER The Age, 3/29/04 http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/03/28/1080412234082.html The American military is holding
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 3, 2004
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      The Age, 3/29/04

      The American military is holding about 8000 Iraqi security detainees
      without trial or formal charges, most of them in a prison where at
      least six US guards have been criminally charged with abusing
      inmates. While legal under the Geneva Conventions, the detentions are
      proving disastrous to the image of the US-led occupation authority as
      hundreds of Iraqis freed this month spread stories of dismal
      conditions and say they were never told why they were arrested.

      US officials insist they treat the prisoners fairly, but the widely
      circulated stories about seemingly arbitrary arrests fuel the sense
      of injustice here. In one such case, Mahmoud Khodair said American
      soldiers blasted into his basement apartment six months ago and
      dragged him off, accusing him of aiding insurgents. Like hundreds
      more, he was released earlier this month with no explanation of why
      he was arrested or why he was ultimately cleared to go home.

      "Nothing has changed since Saddam," Mr Khodair said. "Before, the
      Mukhabarat (secret police) would take us away and at least they
      wouldn't blow down the door. Now, some informant fingers you and gets
      $100 even if you're innocent." It is a problem the US recognises and
      it is crafting a new approach.

      Iraq a year later ... the resistance continues
      By FinalCall.com News
      Updated Mar 22, 2004, 12:13 am

      Iraqi students hold national flags during a demonstration outside
      Baghdad's Mustansiriyah University March 13, in protest against the
      new U.S.-backed interim constitution. Students also demonstrated in
      the Shiite holy city of Najaf, south of Baghdad, and the northern
      Sunni city of Mosul. Many Shiite students boycotted classes to
      protest the new draft law. Photo: AFP

      (FinalCall.com) - Seven United States soldiers were killed March 12-
      14 and 19 were wounded, according to Army and U.S. officials, after a
      lull in U.S. military deaths and the guerilla-style warfare that has
      claimed close to 250 U.S. soldiers since President George Bush
      declared the war in Iraq was over in April 2003.

      Iraqi civilians, meanwhile, continue to be struck down, caught in
      between U.S./UK forces and those fighting the coalition's occupation.
      Five civilians were killed near the town of Baguba, 35 miles
      northeast of Baghdad, when a mortar hit their village, near a U.S.
      military base. On March 13, three Iraqis were wounded when an errant
      mortar-type bomb hit an apartment complex next to the Iraqi
      coalition's headquarters in Baghdad, a U.S. military official told

      And the body of a policeman from Fallujah, west of Baghdad, who had
      been reported missing on March 12, was discovered riddled with bullet
      holes, a police officer told the Associated Press.

      Yet, the conservative think tank, The Conference on Foreign Affairs,
      released a report at Final Call press time stating that "significant
      progress" has been made in reconstruction and the political
      transition in post-conflict Iraq.

      An editorial in the German weekly Die Zeit summed up the dilemma
      faced by the international community as it pertains to assessing the
      reality of Iraq. "With terror attacks on Shiites and indications of
      civil war from Kirkuk to Kerbela, the situation in Iraq confirms the
      view of the professional pessimists every day. Can it get worse?
      Professional optimists can also point to the situation in Iraq,
      because the government council has signed an interim constitution
      designed to back the country until August 2005. This is a success for
      the U.S. administrator. But whose view is correct?"

      "The Iraq of today cannot be easily mapped onto a neat diagram of
      sect or political party," Rahul Mahajan, author of the book, "The
      U.S. War on Iraq: Myth, Facts and Lies," told The Final Call. He said
      understanding the relationship between Iraqi society and the Iraq
      state after three decades of Ba'ath Party rule is crucial to the
      success of the post-war reconstruction efforts.

      An editorialist in Financial Times argues that the U.S. narrative of
      what is going on concerning the violence is portrayed as the action
      of terrorists who are targeting coalition troops and Iraqi security,
      as the June 30 date for the occupation's formal handover to an
      interim government nears. "That looks to be a serious
      misinterpretation," he wrote.

      Nevertheless, the Coalition Provisional Authority is saying not to
      worry, because the armed elements of the old regime of Saddam Hussein
      that are still in Iraq, in large part leading the attacks against
      U.S. and UK forces, are hunted down every day.

      Scott Ritter, author of "Frontier Justice: Weapons of Mass
      Destruction and the Bushwhacking of America" and the former UN
      weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998, says that the anti-U.S.
      resistance in Iraq today is Iraqi in nature and more broadly based
      and deeply rooted than acknowledged.

      "Though the Bush administration consistently characterizes the nature
      of the enemy in Iraq as terrorist, and identifies the leading
      culprits as foreign fighters, the notion that al-Qaeda or al-Ansar al-
      Islam are using Baghdad (or any urban area in Iraq) as an independent
      base of operations is far-fetched," Mr. Ritter said.

      But the spin doctors won't quit. Dr. Mustafa Alain, an expert on Iraq
      at the Royal United Services Institute in London, says that "there
      must be a mastermind" behind the terror attacks in Iraq; "We are not
      talking about a group of amateurs."

      Furthermore, the U.S. media continues to portray the recent attacks
      on Iraqi Shiites as a deliberate attempt by elements linked to al-
      Qaeda to foment inter-community strife and civil war. Michael Ratner,
      president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said the U.S.
      government is clearly desperate "to get some sort of cover for its
      naked aggression."

      So desperate that the Pentagon continues to pay $340,000 a month
      for "intelligence collection" to the political organization in Iraq
      led by Ahmad Chalabi, a member of the provisional government,
      according to the New York Times.

      The story said that the U.S. government admitted that much of the
      information provided by the group before the war proved useless. A
      later review in early 2004 by additional government agencies
      concluded the same thing, the newspaper said. It was the Knight-
      Ridder newspapers' group that broke the story that the payments,
      which were authorized by Congress in 1998, were continuing.

      One other issue that is sure to provoke the ire of the opposition to
      the occupation is a little-talked about Article (59)c in the interim
      constitution, which says that the Iraqi Interim Government will be
      empowered to conclude binding agreements regarding the presence and
      role of foreign forces in Iraq. This means, according to analysts,
      that a temporary un-elected body, rather than the elected government,
      will sign defense pacts with the U.S. and its associates.

      While Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani said he strongly objected to un-
      elected bodies making any long-standing commitments on behalf of
      Iraq, observers say they expect the nation's interim rulers will be
      under massive pressure to grant Washington whatever it wants on the
      military front.

      Washington observers said that, after a month of acrimonious debate,
      the Pentagon, rather than the State Department, was put in charge of
      reconstruction, so the military, rather than the civilian agencies of
      the U.S. government, will be calling the shots when it comes to
      spending the $18 billion allocated to rebuild Iraq. According to
      analysts, Article (59)c essentially denies Iraq the most basic
      attribute of sovereignty: control over its own territory.

      -Saeed Shabazz

      US citizen charged with spying for Iraq
      NEW YORK, March 11: US federal prosecutors said on Thursday they had
      arrested a US citizen, charged with acting as a paid spy for Iraqi

      An indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court charged Susan
      Lindauer with acting as an unregistered agent of the Iraqi
      Intelligence Service (IIS) and engaging in prohibited financial
      transactions with the government of Iraq.

      Lindauer, 41, allegedly made multiple visits to the Iraq's United
      Nations mission in New York from Oct 1999 through March 2002 and met
      several IIS members.

      The indictment noted that the IIS, as well as coordinating counter-
      intelligence activities, played a role in numerous terrorist
      operations, including the attempted assassination of former president
      George Bush.

      "Additionally, the IIS located, intimidated, and killed Iraqi
      defectors and dissidents living abroad," it said. Lindauer was
      arrested on Thursday morning in her hometown of Takoma Park,
      Maryland, and was to be brought before a judge in Baltimore later in
      the day. She will be formally arraigned in New York on March 15.

      During her visits to the UN mission, Lindauer allegedly accepted
      various payments - totalling around 15,000 dollars - in return for
      services provided in the course of her "ongoing intelligence
      relationship" with the IIS.

      Some of the payments were made when Lindauer visited Baghdad in early
      2002 - a trip paid for by the IIS. Prosecutors said Lindauer's
      acceptance of money, if proven, would constitute a violation of the
      statute prohibiting transactions with a government that sponsors
      international terrorism. -AFP


      Cost of the War in Iraq

      Iraqi outcry as US bans newspaper

      Hundreds of Iraqis have protested in Baghdad after a
      Shia newspaper was banned for allegedly inciting
      violence against the US-led coalition.

      Angry crowds gathered at the offices of Al-Hawza
      Al-Natiqa weekly, which is produced by supporters of
      the radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr.

      US troops earlier delivered a letter announcing a
      60-day ban on the weekly.

      The US blames Al-Hawza for inciting violence; the
      paper's supporters say the ban attacks freedom of


      "We ask everybody to come to the newspaper and stay
      there until it is reopened," read a statement issued
      by Mr Sadr's office.

      Demonstrators responding to the call chanted
      anti-American slogans and burnt a US flag in Baghdad's
      al-Hurriyah square.

      Al-Hawza's editor, Ali Yasseri, told Reuters the US
      soldiers padlocked the office and threatened to arrest
      those who did not leave the premises.

      A letter in Arabic handed out by the troops said the
      paper "misleads readers" and "constitutes a real
      threat of violence against coalition forces and Iraqis
      who work with the coalition".

      A spokesman for Mr Sadr said the paper was against the
      US occupation of Iraq, but denied the charge that it
      incited violence.

      Sheikh Mahmud Sudani said Al-Hawza had attracted
      censure because it strongly criticised the killing of
      Palestinian preacher, Sheikh Yassin, by Israeli forces
      in Gaza last week.

      'Like Saddam'

      Mr Sadr, a young cleric based in the holy city of
      Najaf, has fast risen to prominence since the US-led
      invasion in 2003.

      Huge crowds flock to his fiery sermons calling for an
      end to the US occupation of Iraq, while his supporters
      have formed an armed militia claiming to provide
      security and social welfare for Shias.

      Recent articles in Al-Hawza have accused the chief
      American administrator, Paul Bremer, of following in
      the footsteps of the deposed dictator, Saddam Hussein,
      by persecuting Shias.

      The publication has also alleged American rockets -
      rather than a car-bomb, as was widely reported -
      killed 53 Iraqis in the town of Iskandariyah recently.


      Robert Fisk, Independent, 3/30/04

      ANOTHER LITTLE lesson in democracy...

      On Sunday morning, American troops blocked the four roads into the
      square and Iraqi policemen - 90, according to the journalists of the
      Al-Hawza al-Natiqa newspaper - entered the paper's offices on the
      square and presented the staff with a signed letter from Paul Bremer,
      the US proconsul, ordering them to close down the weekly for 60 days.
      Then US troops searched the premises. A few biscuits were left lying
      on the sofa of the editor's office. And the gates were closed with a
      new lock, marked "American Made". "This is not America - this is
      Iraq," one of the paper's journalists said yesterday, pointing at the
      gate which had already been forced open by the staff.

      Now let us not be romantic. Al-Hawza al-Natiqa means "The Spoken
      (Islamic) College" and the paper is a mouthpiece of Muqtada Sadr,
      whose "Mehdi's army" brings a chill even to the heart of Paul Bremer.
      Its sin, among many, was to criticise Mr. Bremer and - in his own
      words, for he signed the letter - "to provoke violence against the
      Coalition Forces'." For coalition, read occupation.

      The letter was quite specific; anyone who disobeyed and dared to
      publish more "false reports" faced court, a possible year in prison
      and a $ 1,000 (pounds 550) fine.

      Mr Bremer was specific about the paper's alleged crimes. The letter
      was addressed to the manager of the paper, Sheikh Abbas al-Raba'i,
      and stated that his publishing licence was being revoked. He and his
      editor, Sheikh Abbas Hassan Zargani, were guilty of
      publishing "false" articles.

      "I am satisfied that your newspaper ... published many articles ...
      that made the security situation unstable and that you are
      encouraging violence against the Coalition Forces and the Coalition
      Provisional Authority (CPA)..."



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