MORE THAN 40 IRAQI ARMY RECRUITS EXECUTED IN ESCALATING VIOLENCE
In one of the most brutal attacks yet, Iraqi insurgents, disguised as police officers, stopped three busses carrying unarmed Iraqi army recruits, and forced the recruits to lie down. Most were then shot in the back of the head. Hours later, Ed Seitz, assistant regional security officer at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, was killed in a mortar attack near the airport. (BBC, October 24, 2004)
-Washington Post on the massacre
THE HUNT FOR MARGARET HASSAN
British officials admit that they have no clues to the identity of the kidnappers of the head of CARE in Iraq. That makes it especially difficult to negotiate for her release.(Peter Beaumont, Jason Burke, The Observer, October 24, 2004)
Senator Carl Levin (Dem. Michigan) has released a new report charging that Douglas Feith, the third most powerful figure in the Pentagon, provided his own version of intelligence leading to the war in Iraq, which differed from the assessments of intelligence agencies to a far greater extent than has been previously reported. Levin charges that Feith never told Congress that the more sober intelligence assessments existed.
(Douglas Jehl, The International Herald Tribune, October 22, 2004)
-Senator Carl Levin's full report in pdf format
THE FIGHT IN FALLUJAH
Salah Hemeid, writing in Al Ahram Weekly, argues that although the U.S. has killed hundreds of people in Fallujah and wounded thousands, the American strategy misses an important point: Iraq's Sunnis may not have liked Saddam, but a sizeable faction supported him because he guaranteed that the Sunnis would remain in power and get the lion's share of Iraq's limited resources. The U.S. in contrast is seen as being prepared to hand power to the Shiite majority. (Sahla Hemeid, Al Ahram, 21 October, 2004)
CHINA'S SEARCH FOR ENERGY SECURITY
A new book, Liberating Taiwan, published by China's Military Publishing house, contemplates a war in the year 2008, after which China armed with carrier battle groups has destroyed U.S. military bases in the Pacific and seized control of major shipping lanes. The final blow is an oil embargo imposed by China on the U.S., Japan and their allies. The fanciful scenario highlights China's growing awareness of the importance of oil. With the world's fastest growing economy, China now burns 6.3 million barrels of oil a day, and accounts for 40% of the global increased demand for oil since 2000. (Jamestown Foundation, October 19, 2004)
-Chinese Military Power Page
A compendium of defense information on China.
TAKING BIODEFENSE TOO FAR?
Susan Wright reports in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that the Bush administration may be getting ready to spend a fortune on protecting the public from biological weapons that not only do not exist now, but may never exist. (Susan Wright, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November-December, 2004)
IRAN BALKS AT EUROPE'S CARROT AND STICK APPROACH ON NUKES
Europeans are ready to allow Iran to have nuclear energy, but want guarantees that Iran will not enrich its own uranium fuel or manufacture plutonium. Over the weekend, the Iranians dismissed the European offer as "unbalanced" and announced that they will continue enriching uranium on their own. Hans Blix has cautioned that Iran's known nuclear sites probably do not have enrichment equipment. That would very likely have been moved to secret locations, which the west does not know about. (Beirut Daily Star, October 25, 2004)
FULL REFORM IN THE MIDDLE EAST? DON'T COUNT ON IT
There has been a lot of talk about democratization in the Middle East, but so far it is mostly talk. The same Arab regimes control the political process as before, and they are not about to change anytime soon. Amy Hawthorne scans the current landscape for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (Amy Hawthorne, CEIP, October, 2004-a full pdf version of the 20-page report is available in the right hand column of the CEIP summary)
AFGHANISTAN, ELECTIONS HIGHLIGHTED ETHNIC DIFFERENCES
It is not just the candidate who counts, it is also the tribal group he represents. Hamed Karzai, a Pashtun, enjoys more "cross over" appeal than the other candidates, but that may not be enough. (Eurasianet.org, October 21, 2004)
THE TALIBAN MAY BE READY TO DEAL WITH KARZAI
Some Taliban commanders say they are ready to come in from the cold, once Karzai is confirmed as president. ( Jeremy Bransten, Eurasianet.org, October 23, 2004)
ANTI-CHECHEN WAR PROTESTS BREAK OUT IN MOSCOW
More than 2,000 anti-war protesters hit the streets in Moscow over the weekend to demand an end to the war in Chechnya. The war is now providing a pretext for protesting Putin's policies. (Carl Schreck, Moscow Times, October 25, 2004)
RUSSIAN TROOPS USED FLAMETHROWERS AND TANK FIRE AGAINST CHECHEN TERRORISTS IN BESLAN SCHOOL SIEGE
The extreme violence of the Russian army's assault on the school in Beslan, Northern Ossetia, while hundreds of children were still being held hostage, is becoming a political issue in Moscow. (Adam Osborn, The Independent, October 25, 2004)
RUSSIA'S RECENT CHOICE OF GOVERNORS FOR THE CAUCUSUS IS NOT HELPING MATTERS
Lawrence Uzzell notes that Moscow's insistence on centrally controlling the choice of governors for the Caucusus ignores local sensibilities, and tends to aggravate an already tense situation. (Lawrence Uzzell, The Jamestown Foundation, October 20, 2004)
ISRAELI ARMY FACES REVOLT ON THE RIGHT
A growing number of Israeli reservists warn that they may disobey orders if told to forcibly remove settlers. (Ben Lynfield,
Christian Science Monitor, October 22, 2004)
SHARON FACES OPPOSITION FROM EXTREME RIGHT YESHA RABBIS
Disengagement from Gaza has become more than a political decision, with right wing religious leaders calling the plan a catastrophe. (Haaretz, October 25, 2004)
CHILDREN AS TARGETS IN GAZA
Settlers refusing to abandon their homes in the occupied territories are one of the thorniest problems for Ariel Sharon. As tensions mount, Palestinians charge that right wing settlers are targeting Arab children on their way to school while western reporters look the other way. (Al Jazeera, October 13, 2004)
-Christian Peacemakers Report
LATEST POLL GIVES A GRIM PICTURE OF WHAT TO EXPECT IN IRAQ'S UPCOMING ELECTIONS
The International Republican Institute's latest survey of Iraqi opinion provides some grounds for rethinking the U.S. strategy in Iraq. If an election were held today, Iraq's Shiites would overtake the current transitional government and the U.S. would very likely be asked to leave. (Read Robin Wright's analysis in the Washington Post).
According to the survey , the number of Iraqis who think the country is heading in the right direction dropped from just over 50% in July and August to 41.9%. The number of Iraqis who feel it is headed in the wrong direction jumped from 31.4% to 45.30%. Those who said they didn't know, plummeted from 16.05% to 11.2%. While 24% thought getting rid of the last regime was a good idea, only 12% thought improvement in living conditions and democracy were an example of moving in the right direction. 62.6% thought poor security was an indication that the country is heading in the wrong direction. 16.7% thought the presence of foreign troops was also an indication that things are going badly. Just about everyone except the Kurds thought that the region was moving in a bad direction. Only 22%, however, indicated that they had been personally affected by violence. Iran was seen as the country most likely to instigate a civil war (50.90%). The only country considered more dangerous than Iran to internal stability was the United States. 66.70% said they considered the U.S. to be the non-neighboring state most likely to start a civil war in Iraq. 22% considered Israel to be a threat, and only 3.7% considered Al Qaeda to be a threat. 35.70% said they feel the interim government does not represent their best interests at all. An overwhelming majority disagreed with the government's handling of security.
•READ THE POLL RESULTS AS A POWERPOINT PRESENTATION...
•READ ROBIN WRIGHT'S SYNOPSIS IN THE WASHINGTON POST...
•READ JUAN COLE'S UPDATED COMMENTARY ON WHAT THE I.R.I. POLL GLOSSES OVER...
•JUAN COLE'S EARLIER CONCERNS ABOUT SPINNING THE POLL...
•ADDITIONAL POLLS ON IRAQ
FRONTLINE'S PORTRAIT OF THE CANDIDATES
Frontline's documentary on the formation of George W. Bush and John Kerry is one of the most balanced descriptions of what makes both men tick that has been produced on television. The entire documentary is now viewable on line in streaming video.
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