NOTE: Entries on these pages contain excerpts from the news stories or external pages to which the entry is linked.

March 2003
The Ministry Of Information Speaks

ministry_of_information.jpgBAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said Monday that U.S. and British forces are being "defeated on all fronts and are retreating in the face of strong strikes" carried out by a popular resistance.
Sabri accused the coalition of wanting to exploit Iraqi natural resources and being a pawn of "the Zionists," referring to Israel and its supporters, which he repeatedly accused of inciting the war.

"If they continue to be stubborn with their aggression, we will attack them with all they have," Sabri said. "No one will be safe except for those who surrender to us on the battlefield."
He said, "Americans are talking a lot of lies and fabrications because lies are the golden rule of the American administration.

"They have been lying to their people, they have been lying to world public opinion and now they are falling victim to their lies."

He added, "They only have one chance, which is to withdraw quickly. That will save them more losses."

Sabri said Iraq is following the rules of the Geneva Conventions.

"I can assure you that the prisoners [of war] are being treated very well, according to the Geneva Conventions and our Islamic values."

» - Iraqi foreign minister: Coalition in 'quagmire' - Mar. 31, 2003

Excerpt made on Monday March 31, 2003 at 01:36 PM | View Full Entry »
"Benedict Arnett"

iraq_arnett.jpgBAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. war plan has "failed," veteran war correspondent Peter Arnett told Iraqi TV in an interview that aired Sunday. Following is a transcript of that interview:
IRAQI TV HOST: ... Let us start with a question about the general image that you look now in Iraq.
ARNETT: In answer to your question, it is clear that within the United States there is growing challenge to President Bush about the conduct of the war and also opposition to the war. So our reports about civilian casualties here, about the resistance of the Iraqi forces, are going back to the United States. It helps those who oppose the war when you challenge the policy to develop their arguments.
HOST: (In Arabic first) What have you seen until now, have you been to some of these places where civilian casualties have been seen during these two days?

ARNETT: Yeah, I think American policy and strategy is the weakest when it comes to the Iraqi people. The U.S. administration is concerned with the possibility of killing civilians, because the international community is very concerned about the Iraqi people. President Bush says he is concerned about the Iraqi people, but if Iraqi people are dying in numbers, then American policy will be challenged very strongly.

Continue Reading ""Benedict Arnett"" » »

Excerpt made on Monday March 31, 2003 at 01:39 AM | View Full Entry »
Paper Trails

When the first wave of American soldiers swept out of the desert and headed north toward Baghdad, the Iraqis weren't the only ones who experienced shock and awe. In the thick of battle, U.S. commanders discovered that the Iraqi army was able to jam the global-positioning systems the military uses to pinpoint everything from cruise missile attacks to the location of troops on the ground. "It was a technological preemptive strike," says a senior military source.

It was also a prime example of how private companies violated the embargo that the U.S. and the United Nations imposed on Iraq more than a decade ago. Russian firms supplied the jammers to Iraq in the past few years--they didn't exist during the first Gulf war--prompting a personal protest from President Bush to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

The news about the GPS-blocking devices is just the beginning of what's likely to be a series of revelations detailing how companies--including American ones--helped supply Saddam Hussein's war machine during the past decade.

Continue Reading "Paper Trails" » »

Excerpt made on Sunday March 30, 2003 at 02:17 PM | View Full Entry »
Bird's Eye View

Images of Iraq taken by commercial satellites are allowing the public an unprecedented close-up view of the conflict.

Since the last Gulf war, several high-resolution satellites have been launched with the aim of providing detailed views of the Earth for town planning, pollution monitoring and environmental management.

Now, these spacecraft are turning their lenses on Iraq and their images show the conflict zone in remarkable detail, revealing bomb damage, burning oil trenches and sandstorms.

A series of images of central Baghdad taken over the past few days has just been released by Digitalglobe, the company that manages the Quickbird satellite.

Quickbird was launched on 18 October, 2001, and is said to produce the highest resolution images of the Earth from space outside the military. Details as small as 0.9 of a metre can be seen.
For a wider view of the region, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) has released images of the sandstorms that swept the region.

Another view of satellite imagery is available via the Near Real-time Satellite Images of Iraq website maintained by Kinetic Analysis Corporation.

» BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Satellites look down on Baghdad

Excerpt made on Saturday March 29, 2003 at 06:08 PM | View Full Entry »
Bush Against War

Bush is against the war in Iraq, and wants everyone to know it.

No it's not United States president George Bush who's against the coalition attacks, but a community radio station in Salt River, Cape Town, employing a novel tactic to spread its anti-war message - by playing John Lennon's Give Peace A Chance for 48 hours this week.

Programming at Bush Radio 89.5FM was suspended on Tuesday in favour of the 1972 song, with only hourly news and anti-war comments from listeners broadcast between the 4-minute 20-second track.
The station is now back to normal programming, but Zane Ibrahim, the Bush Radio director behind the scheme, said the campaign would continue "until the madness stops".

"We started this campaign when Bush gave us a 48-hour ultimatum last week. Then we gave him an ultimatum.

"We try to find people who are pro-war, but it is like pulling hens' teeth."

The continuous playing of the track uses subliminal messaging and the "broken record technique" Ibrahim learned while studying at the University of British Columbia in Canada.

"This appeals to people's morbid curiosity. They switch off, but then they switch on again to check we're still playing the song.

» IOL : Bush is against the Iraq invasion

Excerpt made on Friday March 28, 2003 at 11:23 PM | View Full Entry »
Between Iraq And A Hard Place

Baghdadis are preparing for the worst after US President George Bush's latest threats and are fully aware that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will destroy Iraq before letting someone else take it over

"We know he will burn [Iraq]. He will burn the oil, and he will burn himself if need be. He will never surrender. The only way to take Iraq from him is to kill everyone in Iraq first," said Azad, 38, from Amman, after slipping across the Iraq-Jordan border earlier this morning.

Iraqis are expecting to die in the next few days and seem resigned to whatever faith befalls them. Many Iraqis with the means to do so have phoned relatives living abroad and given them last minute instructions concerning estates, finances, family concerns and wills.

» IslamOnline - Views Section

Excerpt made on Thursday March 27, 2003 at 02:15 PM | View Full Entry »
Improbable Soldiers

Baghdad - Washington may fear Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will use biological or chemical arms, but so far his lethal weapons of choice have been tribal chiefs, suicide bombers, militias, women and sandstorms.
On Tuesday, Saddam called on strategically important tribal chiefs, who potentially have hundreds of thousands of armed men under their command, to fight invading troops without waiting for further orders.
"Track down the enemy and hit them everywhere you find them," he said in a statement read on his behalf on state television by Information Minister Mohammed Said al-Sahhaf on Tuesday evening.

"These are the days of the great victory awaiting all the honest people of the world," the message said.

Continue Reading "Improbable Soldiers" » »

Excerpt made on Wednesday March 26, 2003 at 12:32 AM | View Full Entry »

iraq_soldier.jpgNASIRIYAH, Iraq -- They haven't showered for a week. Five of those days, they've worn chemical-protection gear 24/7, long-sleeved charcoal-filled suits that don't allow chemicals in or any air out. Sandstorms blow grit that sticks to sweaty brows.

On top of that, they damn well better pay attention.

"The lack of urgency that runs through your guys' brains is going to get you killed," Steelworker Chief Michael Neumann, 37, of Norris Town, Pa., shouted at Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 Tuesday morning.
Battalion 4 Seabees face not only the threat of chemical weapons and hostile Iraqis, they also must deal with harsh conditions and the expectations of leaders who want to keep them alive.

Continue Reading "Conditions" » »

Excerpt made on Tuesday March 25, 2003 at 11:38 PM | View Full Entry »
Risky Business

LONDON (Reuters) - Reporters covering the war in Iraq are trained in everything from dodging live fire to escaping a minefield, but the death of two journalists this weekend has driven home the ultimate risk of reporting the conflict in a fierce competition for news.
Lloyd and Moran, a freelancer for Australia's ABC news, were each making their way with other journalists across Iraq rather than traveling with coalition forces, stirring a debate about the risks of independent reporting in a war seen by some editors as the most dangerous since Vietnam.

From Britain's Sky news to Brazil's TV Globo, hundreds of reporters have descended on Iraq and surrounding countries to cover the battle, scouring the desert and cities for news.

Continue Reading "Risky Business" » »

Excerpt made on Monday March 24, 2003 at 02:11 PM | View Full Entry »
In Their Shoes

I wanted to join the human shields in Baghdad because it was direct action which had a chance of bringing the anti-war movement to the forefront of world attention. It was inspiring: the human shield volunteers were making a sacrifice for their political views - much more of a personal investment than going to a demonstration in Washington or London.
We on the bus felt that we were sympathetic to the views of the Iraqi civilians, even though we didn't actually know any. The group was less interested in standing up for their rights than protesting against the US and UK governments.

I was shocked when I first met a pro-war Iraqi in Baghdad - a taxi driver taking me back to my hotel late at night. I explained that I was American and said, as we shields always did, "Bush bad, war bad, Iraq good". He looked at me with an expression of incredulity.

As he realised I was serious, he slowed down and started to speak in broken English about the evils of Saddam's regime. Until then I had only heard the President spoken of with respect, but now this guy was telling me how all of Iraq's oil money went into Saddam's pocket and that if you opposed him politically he would kill your whole family.

It scared the hell out of me. First I was thinking that maybe it was the secret police trying to trick me but later I got the impression that he wanted me to help him escape. I felt so bad. I told him: "Listen, I am just a schmuck from the United States, I am not with the UN, I'm not with the CIA - I just can't help you."

Continue Reading "In Their Shoes" » »

Excerpt made on Sunday March 23, 2003 at 10:08 PM | View Full Entry »

Afraid that the US and Britain will abandon them, the people of Safwan did not touch the portraits and murals of Saddam Hussein hanging everywhere. It was left to the marines to tear them down. It did not mean there was not heartfelt gladness at the marines' arrival. Ajami Saadoun Khlis, whose son and brother were executed under the Saddam regime, sobbed like a child on the shoulder of the Guardian's Egyptian translator. He mopped the tears but they kept coming.

"You just arrived," he said. "You're late. What took you so long? God help you become victorious. I want to say hello to Bush, to shake his hand. We came out of the grave."

"For a long time we've been saying: 'Let them come'," his wife, Zahara, said. "Last night we were afraid, but we said: 'Never mind, as long as they get rid of him, as long as they overthrow him, no problem'." Their 29-year-old son was executed in July 2001, accused of harbouring warm feelings for Iran.

"He was a farmer, he had a car, he sold tomatoes, and we had a life that we were satisfied with," said Khlis. "He was in prison for a whole year, and I raised 75m dinars in bribes. It didn't work. The money was gone, and he was gone. They sent me a telegram. They gave me the body."

The marines rolled into the border town after a bombardment which left up to a dozen people dead. Residents gave different figures. A farmer, Haider, who knew one of the men killed, Sharif Badoun, said: "Killing some is worth it, to end the injustice and suffering." The men around him gave a collective hysterical laugh.

The injustice of tyranny was merged in their minds with the effects of sanctions. "Look at the way we're dressed!" said Haider, and scores of men held up their stained, holed clothes. "We are isolated from the rest of the world."

Continue Reading "Reasons" » »

Excerpt made on Saturday March 22, 2003 at 02:42 PM | View Full Entry »
Selling Yourself

sun_chirac.jpgTHE Sun hit Paris yesterday to show the world our disgust at the cowardice of President Jacques "The Worm" Chirac for wriggling out of his responsibilities to the West.

We took copies of a French edition of our newspaper labelling Chirac as Saddam Hussein's whore.

Describing his actions as those of a "Paris harlot", The Sun argued he was as big a threat to the civilised world as Iraq's tyrant.

Sadly but predictably, the poor, misled French people backed their spineless president to the hilt.

On a sunny Champs Elysées, student Angelique Roulois, 18, nearly choked on her baguette when she saw our headline.
On the back page was an open letter to the people of France.
"The whole civilised world, not just Britain, is disgusted with the way France's president and politicians have behaved over Iraq."

"Last month we accused Chirac of behaving like a worm. Today we say to the people of France: We did not go far enough. Your president is not just a worm. He has behaved like a Paris harlot."

» The Sun Newspaper Online - UK's biggest selling newspaper

Excerpt made on Friday March 21, 2003 at 10:56 PM | View Full Entry »
No Turning Back

Don't go back, Mr. President. You walked away from the United Nations at great cost and with great courage. Don't go back.

No one knows when this war will end. But when it does, you'll have to decide the terms. Yet in the past few days both you and Tony Blair have said you will seek a new U.N. resolution, postwar, providing for the governance of Iraq.

Why in God's name would we want to re-empower the French in deciding the postwar settlement? Why would we want to grant them influence over the terms, the powers, the duration of an occupation bought at the price of American and British blood? France, Germany and Russia did everything they could to sabotage your policy before the war. Will they want to see it succeed after the war?

Continue Reading "No Turning Back" » »

Excerpt made on Friday March 21, 2003 at 12:37 AM | View Full Entry »
Bill Please

Indeed, the 250,000 troops poised to attack Iraq with an arsenal of sophisticated weapons suggest not only a massive campaign, but also an expensive one.

Yet in spite of its detailed planning for the war and a rebuilding of Iraq, the administration continues to duck questions about how much the effort will cost taxpayers. And instead of pressing for a price tag and way to pay it, irresponsible House and Senate leaders now are rushing to pass a major tax cut the administration has requested.

By pursuing tax breaks before budgeting for a costly war, Congress is sending the nation down a path it can ill afford
So far, administration officials even refuse to ask Congress for war funding, though some lawmakers say they expect a White House request of $90 billion to $100 billion. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the first month of fighting will cost at least $10 billion, and each subsequent month $8 billion.

Nor has the administration broached the subject of paying for the sweeping reconstruction of Iraq that Bush pledges to undertake. The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a defense think tank, says the cost of a five-year U.S. occupation and rebuilding effort could range from $25 billion to $105 billion.
Supporters of an outsized tax cut say Congress would be foolish to guess how much the Iraq campaign would cost and set that money aside, given the uncertainties about how long the war and occupation will last.

Lawmakers are more foolish, though, to give out big tax breaks while ignoring more pressing financial obligations. That's like a family planning a shopping spree before it sets aside enough money to pay the food bill and mortgage payment.

For 140 years, since the Civil War, Americans have shown they are willing to make financial sacrifices to pay for the nation's conflicts. Now politicians not only claim no such sacrifice is needed for the Iraq campaign, but they also insist that the public can reap new dividends. That's a false bargain.

The cost of the war ultimately must be paid. The only question is whether the financial sacrifice will be made by current or future generations.

» - Washington shuns talk of Iraq conflict's cost

Excerpt made on Thursday March 20, 2003 at 10:19 PM | View Full Entry »

iraq_warplane.jpgSo how did we get to this point?

According to some officials, Mr Bush had made up his mind to tackle Iraq in the days immediately following the 11 September attacks.

Having seen the devastation caused by the use of conventional means, the thinking went, imagine an attack using chemical or biological weapons.

In the months that followed, the president seemed to veer from one justification to another: the violation of UN resolutions, Saddam Hussein's possible links to al-Qaeda, the brutal treatment of his people.
But the real explanation is 11 September and the president's new-found doctrine of pre-emptive action to eliminate threats to America's security.

And there is something else.

This president, for better or worse, genuinely believes that to stop terrorism the Muslim world - and the Middle East in particular - needs, and deserves, a democratic "make-over", and that Iraq is the place to start.

Of course, it is unlikely the US would be on the brink of war were it not for the president's tendency to see the world in terms of "black and white" and "good and evil".

» BBC NEWS | Americas | Analysis: Bush's moment of destiny

Excerpt made on Wednesday March 19, 2003 at 11:28 PM | View Full Entry »
No More Turning A Blind Eye

"There was a machine designed for shredding plastic. Men were dropped into it and we were again made to watch. Sometimes they went in head first and died quickly. Sometimes they went in feet first and died screaming. It was horrible. I saw 30 people die like this. Their remains would be placed in plastic bags and we were told they would be used as fish food . . . on one occasion, I saw Qusay [President Saddam Hussein's youngest son] personally supervise these murders."

This is one of the many witness statements that were taken by researchers from Indict -- the organisation I chair -- to provide evidence for legal cases against specific Iraqi individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. This account was taken in the past two weeks.

Another witness told us about practices of the security services towards women: "Women were suspended by their hair as their families watched; men were forced to watch as their wives were raped . . . women were suspended by their legs while they were menstruating until their periods were over, a procedure designed to cause humiliation."

The accounts Indict has heard over the past six years are disgusting and horrifying. Our task is not merely passively to record what we are told but to challenge it as well, so that the evidence we produce is of the highest quality. All witnesses swear that their statements are true and sign them.

For these humanitarian reasons alone, it is essential to liberate the people of Iraq from the regime of Saddam. The 17 UN resolutions passed since 1991 on Iraq include Resolution 688, which calls for an end to repression of Iraqi civilians. It has been ignored. Torture, execution and ethnic-cleansing are everyday life in Saddam's Iraq.

Continue Reading "No More Turning A Blind Eye" » »

Excerpt made on Tuesday March 18, 2003 at 09:53 PM | View Full Entry »
That's What Friends Are For

SYDNEY, March 17 (Reuters) - Staunch U.S. ally Australia accused France on Monday of being obstructionist and hypocritical in threatening to use its veto to kill a U.N. Security Council resolution authorising war on Iraq.

Stepping up his rhetoric against French opposition to a U.S. assault on Iraq, conservative Prime Minister John Howard said President Jacques Chirac's affirmation over the weekend that France still intended to use its veto was inconsistent.

Howard said Paris had backed the earlier Resolution 1441 threatening Iraq with dire consequences if it failed to get rid of its alleged weapons of mass destruction and it was clear Baghdad had not complied.

He said Paris had also acknowledged that the U.S. military build-up in the Gulf had pressured Iraqi President Saddam Hussein into improving his cooperation with U.N. weapons inspectors.

» Reuters AlertNet - Australia attacks France again over Iraq veto vow

Excerpt made on Monday March 17, 2003 at 01:50 AM | View Full Entry »
Monster In The Closet

In 1989, the State Department released a report that described in gruesome detail Iraq's violation of human rights, specifically how Iraq's President Saddam Hussein tortured his own people for allegedly being disloyal.

But despite the atrocities outlined in the report, which President Bush now refers to when speaking about his desire to remove Hussein from power, the United States, under the first Bush Administration, refused to vote in favor of a United Nations resolution calling for an inquiry into Iraq's treatment of its population and possibly indicting Hussein for war crimes and human rights abuses.
... 1989, the first Bush administration refused to join the UN in publicly protesting the forced relocation of at least half a million ethnic Kurds and Syrians in the late 1980s, even though the act violated principles of the 1948 Genocide Convention, according to Middle East Watch, a human rights organization.

The Bush and Reagan administrations also declined to punish Iraq when it used poison gas against Iranian soldiers in 1984 and Kurdish citizens in 1988. Moreover, the US did not oppose the fact that Hussein bought 45 American helicopters, worth about $200 million, with assurances they were for civilian use, then transferred them to his military.

Armitage said in 1990 that that "in retrospect, it would have been much better at the time of their use of gas if we'd put our foot down," according to an August 1990 story in the Los Angeles Daily News.

Continue Reading "Monster In The Closet" » »

Excerpt made on Sunday March 16, 2003 at 09:12 PM | View Full Entry »
Nobel Advice

Hungarian writer Imre Kertesz, the winner of the 2002 Nobel Literature Prize, called on the European Union to mend ties with the United States over a potential war on Iraq, in an interview with the Nepszabadsag daily newspaper on Friday.

"It is very painful for me that the ties between Europe and America have suffered such a terrible wound. This is not normal," Kertesz, who currently lives in Berlin, told the mass-circulation newspaper.

European countries "completely forget that without America, they could not have gotten rid of the dictatorships of Hitler and Stalin.

"It is possible that without America, France would now be a socialist state, a people's republic," he added.

"They also ignore that a balance of forces during the Cold War made possible western Europe's undisturbed economic development."

"I am not saying that now we should fall on our knees before America in gratitude for all this, but I maintain that no European politics can exist without America," he said.

"A common political conflict must not cause such a deep rift between two cultures that are basically being fed by each other," said Kertesz, a 72-year-old Holocaust survivor.

» Mend ties with US over Iraq, Kertesz tells EU :

Excerpt made on Saturday March 15, 2003 at 04:57 AM | View Full Entry »
Lessons Learned

The French are good for something after all: We can learn a lot from this enemy. That's one of the lessons drawn by eminent British historian Paul Johnson.

In next week's issue of Forbes, Johnson offers "Five Vital Lessons From Iraq."

Lesson one. "We have been reminded that France is not to be trusted at any time, on any issue." Centuries of history have proved this to Great Britain, "but it still comes as a shock to see how badly the French can behave, with their unique mixture of shortsighted selfishness, long-term irresponsibility, impudent humbug and sheer malice."

'French Support Always Has to Be Bought'

"Americans are still finding out - the hard way - that loyalty, gratitude, comradeship and respect for treaty obligations are qualities never exhibited by French governments. All they recognize are interests, real or imaginary. French support always has to be bought. What the Americans and British now have to decide is whether formal alliances that include France as a major partner are worth anything at all, or if they are an actual encumbrance in times of danger."

Continue Reading "Lessons Learned" » »

Excerpt made on Friday March 14, 2003 at 10:43 PM | View Full Entry »
Plan To Aid

Aid agencies face the vast task of planning for a war in Iraq which could start within days, severely disrupting the food distribution system on which 16 million people are reliant.

Supplies bought in advance could make a huge difference for up to two million people expected to flee their homes, but donors are loathe to give money before bombing starts.

Fears of a humanitarian disaster are partly based on the precarious conditions that Iraqis currently live under.

More than half the country's 23 million people are under 15, a quarter of children under five are malnourished and 30% of babies are born at a low birth weight.

A quarter of Iraq's people have no access to clean drinking water, and UNICEF fears tens of thousands of children are so weak that diarrhoea caused by dirty water could kill them.

Continue Reading "Plan To Aid" » »

Excerpt made on Thursday March 13, 2003 at 10:53 PM | View Full Entry »
Bursting The Bubble

As American and British troops prepare to invade Iraq, public opinion in these countries does not support war without U.N. authorization. The rest of the world is overwhelmingly opposed to war. Yet Saddam Hussein is regarded as a tyrant who needs to be disarmed, and the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1441 which demanded that Saddam destroy his weapons of mass destruction. What caused this disconnect?

Iraq is the first instance when the Bush doctrine is being applied and it is provoking an allergic reaction. The Bush doctrine is built on two pillars: (1) The United States will do everything in its power to maintain its unquestioned military supremacy; and (2) the United States arrogates the right to preemptive action.

These pillars support two classes of sovereignty: American sovereignty, which takes precedence over international treaties and obligations, and the sovereignty of all other states. This is reminiscent of George Orwell's Animal Farm: All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. To be sure, the Bush doctrine is not stated starkly; it is buried in Orwellian doublespeak. The doublespeak is needed because the doctrine contradicts American values.

Continue Reading "Bursting The Bubble" » »

Excerpt made on Wednesday March 12, 2003 at 11:45 PM | View Full Entry »
We Can See Everything

US forces are dropping vast quantities of leaflets into Iraq. They carry a mixture of threats and calls for Iraqi soldiers to desert their posts.

Click through the gallery to see some examples.
Top: "Do not risk your life and the lives of your comrades!"

Bottom: "Leave now and go home. Watch your children learn, grow and prosper."
"We can see everything"

Top: The US warns Iraqis that they are being closely watched and should not use nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons.

Bottom: "The coalition has superior satellite technology which allows coalition forces to see the preparation and transportation of nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons. Unit commanders will be held accountable for non-compliance."
"Severe retribution"

Top: This leaflet, with its picture of soldiers in gas masks, again warns against the use of weapons of mass destruction.

Bottom: "Any unit that chooses to use weapons of mass destruction will face swift and severe retribution by coalition forces. Unit commanders will be held accountable if weapons of mass destruction are used."

» BBC News | In Pictures: Propaganda war - US leaflets

Excerpt made on Tuesday March 11, 2003 at 06:55 PM | View Full Entry »
Faulty Accounting

UNITED NATIONS -- Saddam Hussein secretly planned to launch 75 missiles armed with chemical or biological warheads during the 1991 Persian Gulf War if Baghdad were hit with nuclear weapons, according to a new report by U.N. weapons inspectors.

The Iraqi president authorized his field commanders to unleash a counterattack with 50 Al Hussein missiles armed with poison gas and 25 armed with deadly microbes. The warheads and the missiles, which could fly 400 miles, were hidden in four places outside the Iraqi capital, the report says.

Saddam's aides told U.N. inspectors that the dictator is convinced his weapons of mass destruction deterred U.S. and other armies from advancing to Baghdad during the 1991 conflict.

Continue Reading "Faulty Accounting" » »

Excerpt made on Monday March 10, 2003 at 01:35 AM | View Full Entry »

un_logo.jpgThe Bush administration's determination to topple Saddam Hussein has rearranged conventional theories of international law -- the body of treaties and opinions by which nations navigate through conflicts ranging from the rate of tariffs to the throw weight of missiles.

Should President Bush defy the United Nations and launch a war against Iraq, critics say he will violate the U.N. Charter and rules that allow defensive wars only when the U.N. Security Council enacts a resolution of support.

International law experts supporting the president say the definitions of "defensive war" now on the books were written at a time that never envisioned suicide hijackers and terrorist cells that strike with neither warning nor in the uniform of a nation.
state from warring upon another, granting an exception in Article 51 for cases of self-defense -- notably in response to an armed attack. Another section of the charter requires any state that considers itself under threat to seek a resolution of support in the Security Council as opposed to taking unilateral preemptive action.

The United States has invoked Security Council Resolution 1441 as the basis for its assertion that military authorization is necessary. The resolution, passed unanimously on Nov. 8, reasserts an earlier U.N. resolution demanding that Iraq destroy its weapons of mass destruction and refrain from human rights abuses.

Continue Reading "Legal?" » »

Excerpt made on Sunday March 09, 2003 at 02:46 AM | View Full Entry »
All About Saddam

The next few weeks may witness the end of Saddam Hussein's rule, and perhaps his life. Every morning, in his office in Baghdad, he reads summaries of the foreign press telling of US and British forces mustering against him. But he has always been an optimist.

President Saddam once told King Hussein of Jordan he considered every extra day of life a gift from God since he narrowly escaped with his life in 1959, after trying to assassinate the Iraqi President, Abd al-Karim Qassim. "I consider myself to have died that day," he said.

Despite his smoking and drinking, President Saddam has always made a fetish of physical health. In the past few days, he has ordered overweight army officers and officials to forfeit half their salaries if they fail an annual fitness test. He also ordered officials of the ruling Ba'ath Party caught gambling to be jailed for three years.
Saddam has long had a strong sense of his own mission. He sees himself as the latest in a long line of Iraqi and Arab rulers from Nebuchadnezzar to Saladin. At the height of the Iran-Iraq war in the 80s, when resources were short, he even started to rebuild the ruins of ancient Babylon using unpleasant, mustard-coloured bricks, each with his name imprinted on it.

Continue Reading "All About Saddam" » »

Excerpt made on Saturday March 08, 2003 at 03:15 PM | View Full Entry »

The French authorities say they are investigating a US newspaper report that a French company has been illegally supplying Iraqi aircraft with spare parts.

The Washington Times on Friday quoted unnamed intelligence officials as saying the company, which has not been named, sold parts for French-made Mirage F-1 jets and Gazelle attack helicopters - an activity banned under United Nations resolutions.

But a French diplomatic source described the allegations as "just a press report".
The report said the alleged acquisitions by Baghdad appear to be part of efforts to beef up its air force ahead of a possible US-led military attack.

It said the company sold the parts to a trading firm in the United Arab Emirates, which then conveyed them to Iraq by truck.

Intelligence services apparently discovered the activity, which had been taking place as late as January, in the last two weeks.

» BBC NEWS | Middle East | France probes 'Iraq Mirage deal'

Excerpt made on Friday March 07, 2003 at 07:21 PM | View Full Entry »
In The Name of Peace

President George Bush held a rare prime-time news conference Thursday. Following are some of his remarks on key issues.
I appreciate societies in which people can express their opinion. That society -- free speech stands in stark contrast to Iraq. [...] I recognize there are people who don't like war. I don't like war.

I wish that Saddam Hussein had listened to the demands of the world and disarmed. That was my hope. [...] But in the name of peace and the security of our people, if he won't do so voluntarily, we will disarm him, and other nations will join him -- join us in disarming him.

Continue Reading "In The Name of Peace" » »

Excerpt made on Thursday March 06, 2003 at 11:48 PM | View Full Entry »
Recipe for War

Let's start with Saddam. Surely the funniest line of the week was his spokesman's explanation of why Iraqi TV was not showing Saddam's men destroying his Al Samoud missiles, as the U.N. had demanded. The Iraqi spokesman said it was because if the Iraqi people saw this, they would be so angry at the U.N. there's just no telling what they might do. Right, and if my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a bus.

The reason Saddam is not showing this to his people is because it makes him look weak, and his whole regime depends on his maintaining a facade of invincibility. Giving into the demands of the bespectacled Hans Blix is not a healthy thing for Saddam. It's like the Godfather taking up knitting. It evinces weakness, and Saddam rules by fear.
What continues to breathe life into Saddam's camp is not the Arab street (which already smells his weakness and mostly wants him gone) but the French street, which is so obsessed with countering U.S. power that it can't acknowledge what is happening right before its eyes: Saddam is finally doing some real disarming, not because the U.N. sent more inspectors to Baghdad, as France demands, but because Mr. Bush sent the 101st Airborne to Kuwait.

But Mr. Bush also has some dangerous blind spots. Every day he asks us to ignore more and more troubling facts, and every day it seems more and more that Mr. Bush has mustered not a coalition of the willing, but rather, as one wag put it, "a coalition of the billing." It is very disturbing that so many of our "allies" have to be bribed or bludgeoned into joining this war.
But it's also probably too late. For Mr. Bush and for the U.S., the costs of leaving Saddam in place - having made Washington blink and abandon its allies in the region - would be enormous. I suspect that when the small group of war hawks persuaded Mr. Bush to begin a huge troop buildup in the gulf back in July - without consulting Congress or the country - they knew that it would create a situation where the U.S. could never back down without huge costs.

This reminds me of the joke about the man who gets lost and asks a cop for directions, and the first thing the cop says is, "Well, you wouldn't start from here." No, I wouldn't have - but here is where we've been put. So those who argue against the war have to admit that doing nothing now would mean perpetuating Saddam's tyranny and giving succor to all dictators. And those, like myself, who have argued that removing Saddam is the right thing to do have to admit that the risks of doing so are rising so high, and the number of allies we have for the long haul becoming so few, that it may be impossible to do it right.

» Chicken a la Iraq

Excerpt made on Wednesday March 05, 2003 at 01:06 AM | View Full Entry »
Don't Mess With Texas

President Bush said yesterday that the 1993 bomb plot by Iraqi agents that threatened the lives of members of his family has nothing to do with the current U.S. military buildup against the regime of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Skeptics have suggested that one of Bush's motives is deeply personal as he trains U.S. military might on Iraq, and wholly unconnected to the stated U.S. concerns over Iraqi ties to
"The fact that he tried to kill my father and my wife shows the nature of the man. He's cold-blooded. He's a dictator and he's a tyrant," Bush said. "The decision I'm making and have made to disarm Saddam Hussein is based on the security of the American people."

Bush said war is not a certainty. But he continued to make his case that Iraq is a threat to the country because of its "terrorist ties - ties with people who hate America." And he brushed aside the recent destruction of Iraqi missiles as insufficient evidence that Saddam was finally abiding by U.N. resolutions to disarm.
For more than a year, Bush has been the world's leading proponent of using the threat of force to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, but he has rarely addressed the brush his family had with the Iraqi dictator.

In April 1993, a plot to detonate a car bomb near former President Bush as he took part in a celebratory victory tour of Kuwait, which was liberated from Iraq in the Gulf War, was uncovered. Also traveling with the president were his wife, Barbara, brothers Neil and Marvin and current first lady, Laura. The younger Bush stayed in Texas, where he was preparing to run for governor.

Kuwaiti security forces foiled the scheme to blow up a Toyota Land Cruiser packed with 175 pounds of plastic explosives near the former president's entourage.

» Bush denies push to oust Saddam is related to '93 plot against family

Excerpt made on Tuesday March 04, 2003 at 06:40 PM | View Full Entry »
A Real Proposal

If the U.S. government really wants to get a U.N. resolution that would put Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in a box, here is how to do it. And if the French really want to beef up inspections, here is how to do that, too.

The method is by making stronger specific demands on Iraq, ranging from overflights and U.N. forces inside Iraq to out-of-country interviews of scientists, and to create a veto-proof mechanism for follow-up resolutions including the use of force.

At present, no U.S. resolution can pass the Security Council without France, Russia and China -- all of whom have vetoes as council permanent members -- on board, and no French resolution without the United States on board. A strong resolution will have to serve both sides.
It isn't useless for the United Nations to demand more. Iraq has almost always given in after 1991 when the U.N.'s demands have been clear and specific, even while looking for new ways to evade the intentions of the demands. If there are strong demands, and a Security Council capacity to promptly add more demands when needed, the paths for evasion can be closed off.

The crux of the matter is for the Security Council to authorize itself to fix the holes in its own package as fast as they are discovered, without any vetoes to obstruct it. This means that it will have to be able to decide by simple majority votes on every kind of follow-up, including the use of force. This proviso turns any U.N. timetable into a constraint on Saddam, as it ought to be, not on the United Nations and the United States.

» United Press International: Atlantic Man: Convincing the U.N. on Iraq

Excerpt made on Monday March 03, 2003 at 02:26 AM | View Full Entry »
Phoney Peace

London - The US and Britain are prepared to launch war against Iraq immediately after the United Nations Security Council votes on a second resolution, regardless of its outcome, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
A senior minister told the Telegraph: "Win or lose at the UN, the Iraqi army will get flattened quickly. It will be almost immediate. We are not going to hang around."

The right-wing paper quoted an unnamed minister as saying: "There is a sense of immediacy. It will be two, three weeks from now. Not longer. This is a phoney peace."

Britain's Sunday Express tabloid reported that the US and Britain were set to order military strikes within a fortnight on Iraq, which is accused of failing to give up weapons of mass destruction.

The right-wing newspaper said, however, that Blair was convinced that Britain and the US would win backing for a second UN resolution, and the first bombing raids were expected to swiftly follow the vote.

» Attack after UN vote, regardless of outcome

Excerpt made on Sunday March 02, 2003 at 04:34 AM | View Full Entry »
The War They Didn't Start

If war comes to Iraq, the Kurds of Kifri will be right in the line of fire. Iraqi officials have threatened that the moment the first American bomb lands, they will reply with a chemical assault on the town.
Kifri is barely two hours' drive from Baghdad and at the southern tip of Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. For years, the town has lived under the shadow of Saddam Hussein's forces. From its southern edge, a big Iraqi military base dominates the skyline. On the left, Baghdad's tanks are dug in and, to the right, is a missile silo.

Shells crash into the surrounding fields regularly and at night machineguns open fire without warning.

The town's misery has been dragged out for more than a decade. In 1991, its residents were forced to flee for the mountains when Iraqi troops rolled into town. Five years later, the Iraqis returned and they fled again. Mr and Mrs Nasir slept rough for 10 days.

In one vicious attack since then, the Iraqis used phosphor bombs that left victims horribly burnt.
Wafa Kamal, 22, a housewife, wearing a bright pink dress, said: "In my house there are six children and four adults. But my uncle is sick with cancer and cannot walk. So we'll have to stay."

"I've bought some bread and sugar. What else can I do? Most of all, it's the gas that scares me. But nobody's told us what to do if it comes. All we can do is pray."

» Telegraph | News | We will gas you when US bombs fall, Kurds told

Excerpt made on Saturday March 01, 2003 at 01:21 PM | View Full Entry »