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TO 2 MILLION SHIITES CONVERGE ON KARBALA
march comes as Shiites are flexing newfound strength since the fall of
Saddam, whose mostly Sunni Muslim government severely repressed Iraq's
Shiite majority. Shiites have been setting up local administrations to
reestablish order, and religious leaders have emerged as key sources of
political power, especially in southern Iraq
Two groups of 100 men
white robes slashed their heads with long sharp swords in a self-mutilation
ritual, spraying blood on those near them.
(David Guttenfelder and Basem Mroue in the Independent, April 22, 2003)
Hamid Dabashi, Brandeis University's Yitzhak Nakash and the Washington
Post's Caryle Murphy discuss the implications on Jim Lehrer's NewsHour
UNDER THE CONTROL OF MACHINES
fear of taking American casualties has been a major obstacle to warfare
since Vietnam. Donald Rumsfelds revolutionary vision of the Pentagon
hopes to change that by instituting a radical shift to automation. The
Predator unmanned aircraft equipped with hellfire missiles is only a partial
step in that direction. The next generation of robot weapons will not
have to rely on human guidance at all. It will be programmed to seek out
and destroy on its own. All the operator needs to do is press the "enter"
key on a computer keyboard. The New York Times Magazine takes a look at
the most recent developments.
(Matthew Brzezinski, New York Times Sunday magazine, April 20, 2003)
U.S. HAS WON THE WAR, BUT FINANCIALLY, THE COUNTRY IS ON DANGEROUS GROUND
U.S. may control Iraqs political future, but foreign creditors now
control $8 trillion of U.S. financial assets, and we are now facing a
balance of payments deficit of $3 trillion. Much of that is owed to Europe,
which is now facing a third year of disappointing returns from Wall Street.
Niall Ferguson analyzes the situation in the New York Times Week in Review.
(Niall Ferguson, New York Times, April 20, 2003)
U.S. OBJECTS TO LETTING U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTORS BACK INTO IRAQ
The United States has rejected demands that U.N. inspectors
be included in the search for Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. While
the U.S. says it does not need the extra help at this time, critics charge
that the administration needs to to justify the rationale for going to
war, and for that reason it may be useful to have independent observers
on the ground. The counter argument is that Blix was less aggressive than
the U.S. might have wished for when he ran inspections for the U.N. (Jim
Lehrer NewsHour with the New York Times' Judith Miller, Hans Blix and
US ambassador to the U.N. , John Negroponte, April 22, 2003)
YORK TIMES GETS SCOOP ON IRAQS CHEMICAL WEAPONS, BUT WHAT ABOUT
Times Judith Miller reported that Iraq destroyed its chemical arsenal
just days before U.S. troops invaded. The only problem is that Miller
wasnt allowed to talk to the Iraqi scientist who allegedly revealed
the information to the U.S. Armys Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha.
Miller had to promise the army not to try to contact the source directly,
and she had to agree to submit to military censorship concerning the nature
of the chemicals found. The heavy reliance on hearsay information at a
time when the U.S. is desperate to find evidence that weapons of mass
destruction really were in Iraq has raised a few questions.
Shafer comments in Slate
Miller's story in the New York Times (April 21, 2003)
U.S. IS NOT THE FIRST TO DREAM OF USING IRAQ TO STABILIZE THE MIDDLE EAST
Yale historian Paul Kennedy notes that Britain had similar notions nearly
90 years ago. Observes Kennedy: "The ideas of World War I-era imperialist
intellectuals such as Mark Sykes and Leo Amery bear an uncanny resemblance
to those of today's American neo-conservatives and provided their political
masters with similar justifications for an expansionist policy. They,
too, wanted to diminish French, Russian and German influence in the region.
They sought secure access to Middle East oil, and to sites for staging-posts
and air bases. They also believed that British genius could reconcile
Arab and Jewish interests in Palestine. .."
(Paul Kennedy in the Washington Post, April 20, 2003)
FLAP OVER HOW LONG THE U.S. PLANS TO STAY IN IRAQ
now, most observers have expected the U.S. to keep a long term military
relationship with its protégés in Iraq, and when the New
York Times reported that U.S. troops would eventually concentrate themselves
in four military bases at key locations, it hardly seemed surprising.
The Times didnt count on Donald Rumsfeld who went ballistic, charging
that no discussions about future deployments have been made yet.
( Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt in the New York Times, April 21, 2003)
lashes out at the New York Times story in a Pentagon news conference
tells reporters: "
There haven't been decisions made, there
haven't been conclusions reached, and it's just a fact that the implication
that, as it says here, that the United States is planning a long-term
military relationship with an emerging government of Iraq -- there isn't
even an emerging government to plan it with at the present time -- one
that would grant the Pentagon access to military bases -- a subject that
has not come up with anybody senior -- and "project American influence
into the heart of the unsettled region" -- I mean, not so! Not so!
And I would say enormously unhelpful
I mean, let me just get this
off my chest. (Laughter.) I have no idea who these people talked to. But
I'll tell you, if I were a journalist, I would find -- remember who they
are, and I'd write their name down, and I would rank them right at the
bottom in terms of reliability, credibility, judgment, knowledge. They
Rumsfeld, Defense Department Press Conference, April 21, 2003)
IS NO STRANGER TO IRAQ. IN 1983 DONALD RUMSFELD LOBBIED SADDAM TO LET
THE GIANT CONSTRUCTION FIRM BUILD A NEW OIL PIPELINE.
President Reagan dispatched Donald Rumsfeld to chat with Saddam on December
20, 1983, there was no discussion of the U.S. concern over Iraqs
use of chemical weapons. Instead, the topic that dominated the conversation
was oil. Bechtel wanted to build a pipeline. Rumsfeld wanted Saddam to
increaseoil exports and Saddam wanted a promise from Washington to keep
Israel from attacking the pipeline that he hoped would transit Jordan
to Aqaba. Rumsfeld also wanted Saddams help in controlling Syria.
The National Security Archives publishes A photocopy of the declassified
State Department notes of Rumsfelds 90-minute discussion with Saddam.
(U.S. State Department declassified secret memorandum, December 20, 1983pdf
Security Archives recap of U.S. dealings with Saddam during the Iran-Iraq
War (with declassified State Department documents)
Institute for Policy Studies: The U.S. has a long history of oil serving
as the driving force in relations between the U.S. and Iraq.
WILL MEET WITH NORTH KOREANS ON APRIL 23-25.
state Department's Richard Boucher explains: "We intend to conduct
serious talks on the situation created by North Korea's pursuit of nuclear
weapons, and, indeed our interagency delegation for those talks has already
departed Washington and is on its way to Beijing.
The interagency U.S. delegation will be headed by Assistant Secretary
of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs James Kelly. The North Korean
delegation will be headed by Deputy Director General Li Gun from the American
Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Chinese delegation
will be headed by Director General for Asian Affairs in the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, Mr. Fu Ying.". (U.S. State Dept. Briefing, April
OIL INDUSTRY WILL NEED MASSIVE NEW INVESTMENT
Taylor, AT Energy Ltd. Writes in the Middle East Economic Survey that
Iraqs oil production capabilities have suffered from 13 years of
neglectnot the war. The suggestion that oil will finance Iraqs
reconstruction is delusory. What Iraqs industry needs now is investment
and upgrading. Iraqs petroleum ministry is highly competent and
should retain control, but the best arrangement may be production sharing
agreements with foreign producers.
(Alan Taylor, MEES, April 21, 2003)
TORN BETWEEN TWO POLES
Syrias president Bashar al Assad was educated in England and had
high hopes of modernizing Syria and loosening the rigid system installed
by his father. But Bashar also depends on Syrias old guard to hold
on to his position. As a result, the reform process has stumbled and Bashar
feels he needs to be cautious about how he deals with his own domestic
(Shibley Telhami, the Brookings Institution, April 20, 2003)
HAS MORE EXPERIENCE DEALING WITH TERRORISM THAN THE U.S.
French have been dealing with Middle eastern terrorism for the last two
decades. That may explain why they were hesitant to charge into Iraq without
first considering the consequences.
(Jeremy Shapiro, Brookings, Spring 2003)
CLASHES WITH HIS PUTATIVE PRIME MINISTER ABU MAZEN
may be the most severe leadership crisis yet to hit the Palestinian movement.
Neither Arafat nor Abu Mazen can seem to agree on who should be in the
new government, or what their functions should be. The dispute underscores
Arafats growing weakness and his difficulty in giving ground.
(Danny Rubinstein in Haaretz, April 22, 2003)
FRETS OVER IRAN
Iraq out of the way, Israel now fears there may be no counterweight to
Iran. A fundamentalist backlash against the U.S. is everyones worst
(Leslie Susser, JTA, April 22, 2003)
CHANGES THE LANDSCAPE FOR ISRAEL
Usher, writing in Al Ahram, sums up the tectonic shift: "The conquest
of Iraq has created a new situation in an old world," Ariel Sharon
told Israel's Yediot Aharonot newspaper on Wednesday, one of a slew of
interviews the Israeli prime minister has given for the Jewish Passover
holiday. It is an accurate description, applying equally to him and the
Palestinian Authority's Prime Minister designate Mahmoud Abbass (Abu-Mazen).
Both men are trying to graft the "new situation" into old casts
and finding that mould does not always fit."
THE U.S. MEDIA FAILING TO PROVIDE CONTEXT? YOU BET!
American journalism Reviews Lori Robertson deconstructs the Great
Duct Tape Scare of last February and remarks that panic can make a great
story, while placing events in context tends to diminish viewer interest.
Robertson surveys how the various media outlets reacted to the stampede.
(Lori Robertson, American Journalism Review, April 2003)
MOST VIOLENT PLACE IN IRAQ
Phillip Robertson writes in Salon:
The donkey had lost its mind and walked in dumb circles in
the dead center of the road. We nearly ran it over on our way back to
Mosul, on April 13, two days after the city fell. As the damaged animal
walked the same tight circle, its brain stuck in a deep rut, the sight
of it made the driver Rashad laugh. A dog drank black oil from a ditch.
Incomprehensible things would appear whenever we drove into this city,
rising up in front of the car in a slow horror show. These apparitions
have come to mark the place for me now that Mosul is fast becoming an
Arab version of Mogadishu, complete with no-go areas, haphazard self-defense
militias and armed criminal gangs. No one is safe.
The city is going through a violent political mutation. Various factions
are combining and coming into being in the chaos of the old regime's demise,
assembling out of its bitter proteins. Some former Baathists and Iraqi
military men are beginning to organize underground opposition to the American
occupation, collecting at mosques around the city. There are Iraqi provocateurs
and on the other side American soldiers who have accidentally wounded
civilians. In the middle are Iraqis who are trying to re-create a civil
society. They are failing
Only the chaos is certain. The New York Times has called this city of
more than 600,000 "the most violent place in all of postwar Iraq,"
with at least 31 dead and 150 wounded in clashes in the past nine days.
Arabs are fighting with Kurds. Pro-Saddam residents are fighting with
anti-Saddam Arabs. And just about everyone is angry at the United States.
For Americans, especially, Mosul is not a safe place
(Phillip Robertson, Salon, April 21, 2003)
War may or may not be justified, but in the end it is about killing
other human beings, and in the confusion of combat, the ones being killed
are not always the enemy. Peter Maas in describing the progress of the
marine's 3rd Battalion notes that "collateral damage is far easier
to bear for those who are responsible for it from afar--from the cockpit
of a B-1 bomber, from the command center of a Navy destroyer, from the
rear positions of artillery crews. These warriors do not seefaces of the
mothers and fathers they have killed. They do not see the blood and hear
the screams and live with those memoriesfor the rest of their lives...The
Third Battalion could not feel as joyous as the officers in the rear,
the generals in Qataar and the politicians in Washington... it was war
as it has always been, war at close range, war as Sherman described it,
bloody and cruel."
Maas in The New York Times Magazine, April 20, 2003)
Effect of Seeing the War on Arab Television
The following is a translation of a column in the March 31 edition
of the Beirut newspaper As Safir. It is a letter from a former Lebanese
army officer to his cousin, explaining why he suddenly volunteered to
fight against the United States:
could no longer take sitting around for hours as if drugged, or like an
idiot, in font of the satellite TV channels, watching my people being
killed by bombing raids, or under the rubble of their destroyed homes.
I couldnt take the conversations with my neighbors about the various
types of mass killing weapons, or the range of cruise missiles, or the
latest models of jet fighters being used, or the legendary capabilities
of Apache helicopters. ...As for the demonstrations, they will remain
in my opinion, emotional expressions, or perhaps political statements
by their organizers and participants, but they will not quiet the rage
I need to be the one killed, not the one watching.
In all honesty, I see impact and power in the protests occurring in Europe
and America that I cant achieve here. I dont understand politics,
but over there they are acting according to their conviction that this
aggression is against their national interests and against the honor of
their people. They reject American dominance, and they reject the unipolar
(i.e. American) world.
My problem is very simpleI cant just sit around and watch.
Didnt the Prophet, or Imam Ali, I cant remember, say the person
who is silent in the face of truth is like a dumb devil. What can I do!
I thought about it....
I heard that some young people are volunteering to go to Iraq. They are
not more patriotic than I, I thought. Some of them barely know how to
fire a weapon. I value their patriotism, but I can help our people in
Iraq at least as much as they can.
I asked around about how to do it, so I registered, and now I am preparing
my affairs so as not to leave any problems for my family...
You want to know the truth? I feel so much more at peace with myself since
I made the decision. Nothing is worse than the feeling we have that we
are dead before dying. How long will I turn my eyes away from the eyes
of the Iraqi children gazing at me, over the TV screens, frozen by terror.
How long will I cover my ears from the screams of Iraqi mothers as they
weep for their husbands and children, whose bodies have been so mangled
that they have become unrecognizable, except by a loving wife or mother.
I tell you the truth. I didnt make this decision quickly. I had
wanted to go to Palestine, but I couldnt find my way there, even
though Palestine inhabits me. So I said to myself, It is the same battle.
Now there is just a wider front. A defeat in Iraq will kill our future.
The enemy is the same. Israel is fighting us with American weapons and
American financial aid and American political protection. And now here
comes America itself, with its own army, to Iraq fighting us in our own
land. And Iraqis are fighting back.
As long as the road to Iraq is open, thanks to Syria, which has taken
a courageous stand, then why not move. The other day, I saw pictures of
Syrian volunteers in Mosul (Northern Iraq), and I have been hearing the
news about all the volunteers from Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Yemen, and
Jordan who are now in Baghdad, or on their way. My cousin, do you want
me to be less patriotic, or less willing to sacrifice my own life, than
these people who have traveled so far from their homes? And we are so
Whenever I look at the faces of the people of Basra, Nasiriyya, Najaf,
and Karbala, I feel like I know them. They are like our fathers and uncles.
I have seen the face of my own mother in the faces of many Iraqi women.
And sadness overcame me as I saw them standing at the metal barriers of
US and British military checkpoints, begging for some food and water to
bring back to their families under siege.
If I stay here, I will die out of sheer depression. But there, may be
I will save a child or an old man or a woman by disarming an explosive
meant to kill them. May be I can disassemble an unexploded missile, thereby
protecting the life of some people who have been visited by death from
faraway. People will die on their appointed day, and you know that death
will come to us, no matter where we happen to be. I am tired of sitting
around and crying; it humiliates me."
volunteer, As Safir, March 31, 2003 via Muslim Wakeup.com)
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