Juan Cole , professor of Middle Eastern and South Asian History at the University of Michigan and author of Sacred Space and Holy War: The Politics, Culture and History of Shiite Islam (I.B. Tauris, 2002), provides usefull background analysis of the Shia reolt in post-Sadam Iraq. Its the best analysis I've seen so far: Shiites in Revolt: Why Paul Wolfowitz Is in a State of Shock (PUBLISHED April 23 and POSTED: April 30, 2003)
Not surprisingly, the British press report the US meeting supposed to dsesign a new government for Iraq quite differently than do the US press. Here is the Guardian (UK) account Delegates agree new talks on government (PUBLISHED and POSTED: April 29, 2003) A few quotes to indicate the nature of the new Iraqi "democracy":
Apparently to disguise the poor attendance, officials refused to supply a list of those invited.... US and UK officials would not say how they had worked out the invitation lists. The two parties which had the largest representation in Iraq before Saddam's Ba'ath party imposed one-party rule were excluded.... There were no representatives from the powerful Shia clergy, who have called for an immediate withdrawal of US forces.
Yet again, US troops 'kill 13 Iraqi protesters' . [From The Guardian (UK)]. Later in the day, here is more information, from Phil Reeves in The Independent (UK), including a detailed analysis of the major holes in the US forces acount, suggesting that the US is, once again, lying: At least 10 dead as US soldiers fire on school protest (PUBLISHED and POSTED: April 29, 2003)
"The occupiers of Iraq are running into trouble. Last week, six Iraqis were shot dead in Mosul by US troops. Every such incident deepens the bedrock of Iraqi public sympathy for armed resistance against the troops....The language of the American forces is beginning to sound grimly familiar....They describe people firing at them from within crowds of civilian demonstrators. They live in dread of car bombs and suicide attackers. They say that the majority of Iraqis like them but add that there is a small element lodged in the fabric of Iraqi society that is determined to make trouble."
As reported by Human rights Watch: Northern Iraq: Civilian Deaths Higher Since War Ended (PUBLISHED and POSTED: April 27, 2003)
A new stage in the Anti-American struggle in Iraq, stoning the "liberators", who have no interest other than the freedom and welfare of the Iraqis: Iraqis emulate Palestinians by stoning troops And, the Iraqi administration in Kut doesn't take kindly to the "liberators": Keep Out of Town Hall, Kut Tells US Troops (PUBLISHED April 25 and 27 and POSTED: April 26, 2003)
The story of the Baghdad cultural looting gets weirder and weirder. The US tries to blame journalists for much of the damage! (" the US reconstruction team in Baghdad was briefing that much of the damage was caused by journalists "trampling" on objects dropped by looters.... Its publicists spent yesterday trying to convince reporters that the scale of the looting had been exaggerated") Meanwhile, the US Ambassador tries to pretend the US wasn't warned in detail of the danger: "We did not think the Iraqis would go knock down their own heritage. Maybe we should have expected it" He went on to say "Yes, we worried about oil. If we had not protected the oil, what would we use to rebuild Iraq?" Obviously no US resources would be used! They'd only be used to kill and dominate Iraqis, never to help them rebuild! And Chalabi's men claim to rescue stolen artifacts, but many people believe its a stunt to build their popularity: Chalabi's men hand 'rescued' artefacts back to museum (PUBLISHED April 27 and POSTED: April 26, 2003)
The Guardian (UK) is reporting that, as claimed by us cynical antiwar folks, the US is, indeed, planning to take over the Iraqi oil industry: American to oversee Iraqi oil industry Meanwhile, the US makes it clear that "democracy" doesn't mean choosing your government, but accepting the government the US chooses for you; Rumsfeld's rejection of Islamic state angers Shias (PUBLISHED April 26 and POSTED: April 25, 2003)
Kim Sengupta's view of the start os the anti-American war: Pilgrims threaten jihad against American forces [From Independent (UK)] (PUBLISHED April 24 and POSTED: April 25, 2003)
Suzanne Goldenberg in Bghdad reports that, exactly as many of us had predicted, the US is turning to Baath party officials to restore order and counter the nascent Islamic movement. Ba'athists slip quietly back into control [From Guardian (UK)] (PUBLISHED and POSTED: April 21, 2003)
Another potential danger looming for the people of Iraq from depleted uranium.. Do "liberators" take a chance on poisoning those they claim to "liberate"? When the dust settles: Depleted uranium may be far more dangerous than previously thought - and we could be dealing with the fallout for many generations to come (PUBLISHED April 17 and POSTED: April 21, 2003) Its important to realize that there is NOT a scientific consensus on these risks. For a contrary view of these health risks the British Royal Society has published a two-part report on Depleted Uranium which concludes that the risks posed are low: Health hazards of depleted uranium munitions Yet even the Royal Society feels that the risk is not completely negligable and that it is important that the DU in Iraq be cleaned up, contrary to US claims: Scientists urge shell clear-up to protect civilians: Royal Society spells out dangers of depleted uranium "We recommend that fragments of depleted uranium penetrators should be removed, and areas of contamination should be identified and, where necessary, made safe."
They came as liberators, with no intention to stay and occupy, so they said then. Now ... Senator: New Iraq Government Could Take Five Years What will they say in five years? Meanwhile, the US motivations become clearer: Pentagon Expects Long-Term Access to Four Key Bases in Iraq (from The New York Times). Obviously they will make sure that any new government agrees to this. So much for democracy. (PUBLISHED and POSTED: April 20, 2003) [For the record: Rumsfeld deniea this.]
Here is a detailed account of the massive anti-American demonstrations in Baghdad, April 18th: Over 200,000 Iraqis Demonstrate in Baghdad and other cities: "Iraq for the Iraqis!" (PUBLISHED April 18 and POSTED: April 19, 2003)
Kim Sengupta in Baghdad reports on the Iraqi questions fueling anti-American sentiment: 'They did the destroying. So why can't they get everything working again?' (PUBLISHED April 19 and POSTED: April 19, 2003) "Janan Matti, the director of the plant, said: "I had asked the Americans if they could spare us some diesel, but they said they did not have any. As far as the work is concerned, we are doing it ourselves."
I am flabergasted at how rapidly the Americans have transformed the aura of "liberation" into occupation and Iraqi anti-American hatred. Robert Fisk here predicts "That America's war of "liberation" is over. Iraq's war of liberation from the Americans is about to begin. In other words, the real and frightening story starts now. " For the people on the streets, this is not liberation but a new colonial oppression (PUBLISHED and POSTED: April 17, 2003)
Evidence from the Miami Herald: of how Iraqis feel about their "liberators" In bombed neighborhoods, everyone 'wants to kill Americans' (PUBLISHED April 15 and POSTED: April 17, 2003)
Now that US troops have restored "Iraqi Freedom" they've barred the Iraqi Peace Teamfrom meeting with the international journalists in the Palestine Hotel or with the U.S. Civil Military Operations. Evidently they were upset about a a press release highlighting the failures of the U.S. military's attempts to oversee humanitarian intervention in Iraq Barred! US military bans peace team members from Palestine Hotel Isn't Freedom wonderful! (PUBLISHED and POSTED: April 17, 2003) Then, the reporters were denied access to anti-American demonstrators: US bans media from protests (PUBLISHED April 16 and POSTED: April 17, 2003)
Did US Encourage Baghdad Plundering? I have been e-mailed this article, translated from the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter and based on an interview with Khaled Bayomi, faculty member and doctoral student at the University of Lund who is currently in Baghdad. Bayomi claims that USA encouraged ransacking (English) or Swedish version. Anyone having further reliable evidence, please forward so we can find out if this account is true. (PUBLISHED April 11 and POSTED: April 12, 2003) Here are some key quotes:
In the afternoon it became perfectly quiet and four American tanks took places on the edge of the slum area. The soldiers shot two Sudanese guards who stood at their posts outside a local administration building on the other side of Haifa Avenue. Then they blasted apart the doors to the building and from the tanks came eager calls in Arabic encouraging people to come close to them.
The entire morning, everyone who had tried to cross the road had been shot. But in the strange silence after all the shooting, people gradually became curious. After 45 minutes, the first Baghdad citizens dared to come out. Arab interpreters in the tanks told the people to go and take what they wanted in the building.
The word spread quickly and the building was ransacked. I was standing only 300 yards from there when the guards were murdered. Afterwards the tank crushed the entrance to the Justice Department, which was in a neighboring building, and the plundering continued there".
Another must read article providing further evidence of the studied indifference, if not active encouragement, of the US troops to the destruction of Baghdad, as late as Monday, April 14, after five days of destruction and Iraqi and worl-wide outrage, by Kim Sengupta in Baghdad (from The Independent (UK)): Another chaotic day in Baghdad: Crowds besiege the job club as others go looting (PUBLISHED and POSTED: April 14, 2003)
"As hundreds streamed into the meeting at the al-Wiyah Club in the city centre, set up to encourage civic responsibility, others looted offices in the building. United States Marines standing guard just a few yards from the entrance refused to intervene despite repeated requests, saying it was not their responsibility." Said one Iraqi quoted there: "they have allowed criminals to loot shops and encouraged them to loot public buildings. No one believes they care for Iraq or the Iraqi people."
For further documentation, here is Peter Beaumont's account of the pillage of Baghdad from The Guardian (UK) Anger swells amid anarchy: · Barricades go up on Baghdad streets · Reports of vigilante killings · Iraqis condemn US for failure to intervene (PUBLISHED and POSTED: April 13, 2003)
Baghdad was bursting with anti-American feeling yesterday as r esidents saw their city being stripped by its own citizens. US forces rarely intervened and in some cases even waved treasure-laden men through checkpoints.... Looting appeared to have been encouraged by the decision of US forces to reopen two strategic bridges over the Tigris, giving gangs access to new territory in the parliamentary district which had so far survived destruction.... . 'The army of America is like Genghis Khan,' snapped Fouad Abdullah Ahmed, 49, as US tanks rumbled by without stopping. 'America is not good and Saddam is not good. My people refused Saddam, and they will refuse the Americans.' One young man went further: 'If this continues in Baghdad we'll kill any American or British soldier,' said Rahad Bahman Qasim, 30."
But the US did protect what mattered to them: Americans defend two untouchable ministries from the hordes of looters . Everyone knows that the first Ministry is that of Oil, but what is the other? (PUBLISHED and POSTED: April 14, 2003)
James Meek in theguardian (UK) reports from Baghdad that the US is doing little of any serious value to improve the situation in bghhdad, either in terms of getting services running, or in providing any security US neglect casts dark shadow over a city without light or much love for the invaders (PUBLISHED and POSTED: April 16, 2003)
There is a growing feeling that the occupiers are obsessed with protecting themselves, to the exclusion of taking risks in protecting civilians. Most troublingly, there is a sense that US efforts to restore essential services are more about self-boosting short-term fixes, and not about helping skilled Iraqis put the city back on its feet.
As we contemplate the unthinbkable destruction of 5,000 years of history in the Iraqi National Musem [see: Andrew Gumbel and David Keys US Blamed for Failure to Stop Sacking of Museum from The Independent (UK) ] ,its important to keep in mind that precisely this danger was discussed in detail with the war planners many months ago, as documented in this Washington Post piece: Pentagon Was Told Of Risk to Museums On NPR (The Connection, April 16) an American Archiologist described this as the worst catastrophe to hit a cultural institution in the history of the world. (PUBLISHED and POSTED: April 14, 2003) On April 20 the Washington Tines reported Troops were told to guard treasures So why didn't they?
First it was the National Museum, now it's the National Library and the library of Korans at the Ministry of Religious Endowment as Robert Fisk (as usual) reports. Os course, the US Marines did nothing as the last repository of the Iraqi national culture was incinerated. Library books, letters and priceless documents are set ablaze in final chapter of the sacking of Baghdad (PUBLISHED and POSTED: April 15, 2003)
ABC (Australia) published reports that US troops fired on a crowd protesting a pro-American speaker in Mosul, killing 10. US forces deny shooting at crowd. More details are provided by the Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) US troops defend 'killing 10' in Mosul crowd . Al Jazeera in contrast, reports 17 were killed: (PUBLISHED April 16 and POSTED: April 15, 2003)
For alternative perspectives on the "liberation" of Bghdad, Robert Fisk, describes a rather cynical reaction to the sudden collapse of the despotic (and despised) regime: A day that began with shellfire ended with a once-oppressed people walking like giants . (PUBLISHED and POSTED: April 10, 2003)
"And so last night, as the explosion of tank shells still crashed over the city, Baghdad lay at the feet of a new master. They have come and gone in the city's history, Abbasids and Ummayads and Mongols and Turks and British and now the Americans. The United States embassy reopened yesterday and soon, no doubt, when the Iraqis have learned to whom they must now be obedient friends.... But winning a war is one thing. Succeeding in the ideological and economic project that lies behind this whole war is quite another. The 'real' story for America's mastery over the Arab world starts now. "
Ropbert Fisk again, one day later: Baghdad: the day after: Arson, anarchy, fear, hatred, hysteria, looting, revenge, savagery, suspicion and a suicide bombing (PUBLISHED and POSTED: April 11, 2003) And on Who is to blame for the collapse in morality that followed the 'liberation'? (PUBLISHED april 12 and POSTED: Posted April 11, 2003)
More Robert Fisk on the destruction of Baghdad, with an emphasis on the destruction of its archeological tradition. as the Americans watched: A civilisation torn to pieces (PUBLISHED and POSTED: April 13, 2003) A few quotes:
" And so the gun-fighting that broke out yesterday between property owners and looters was, in effect, a conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims. By failing to end this violence by stoking ethnic hatred through their inactivity the Americans are now provoking a civil war in Baghdad."
Beware the "liberators".
US-backed militia terrorises town
(PUBLISHED April 8 and POSTED:April 9, 2003)
Sadam Statue Falls! What role did the US play? MUST SEE! If the account here is true, the world has just been treated to an enormous made for tv lie! The pictures shown "round the world" of the Sadam statue being pulled down appear to have been a put up job by the Pentagon and the Iraqi National Congress with at most 200 Iraqis involved. By showing only close-ups, the size of the crowd was hidden. also hidden was the role of the Iraqi National Congress, with its convicted felon Ahmed Chalabi as leader. See: The photographs tell the story... Also interesting is this Boston Globe analysis of the pictures and their creation Snap judgments: Did iconic images from Baghdad reveal more about the media than Iraq? Further, this comment from The Guardian (UK) also discusses the US role in this incident and waht it signifies for the future: Symbolic in more ways than one: The toppling of a giant Baghdad statue of Saddam Hussein, and the part the US played in it, provided plenty to think about, says Brian Whitaker (PUBLISHED April 9 and 10 and POSTED: April 10, 2003)
This is a nice background piece by Rupert Cornwell on Ahmed Chalabi , the convicted felon whom the Pentagon apparently wants to put in control of newly-conquered (or "liberated") Iraq: Profile: Ahmed Chalabi - the saviour of Iraq, or a c hancer whose time has come? (PUBLISHED april 12 and POSTED: April 11, 2003)
Those who believe the myth that Colin Powell is really different than the rest of this administration will be interested in his latest statements. He describes the war as an investment of politcal capital Of course, investments aren't made without hope of returns: Military to Tap Interim Rulers (PUBLISHED April 10 and POSTED: April 11, 2003)
"We believe that the coalition, having invested this political capital and life and treasure into this enterprise, we are going to have a leading role for some time as we shape this process." He went on to clearly explain the role of the UN in this investment startegy: "We believe the U.N. has a 'vital' role to play and that was a very carefully chosen word. It means the U.N. is very important to the process. We need an endorsement of the authority and an endorsement of what we're doing in order to begin selling oil in due course, and in order to make sure that humanitarian supplies continue to flow in for the Oil for Food program."
Analysis, Commentary, & Domestic Reaction
Here is the transcript of Amy Goodman's interview with Robert Fisk on Democracy Now! from Pacifica Radio: Robert Fisk: Looking Beyond War (PUBLISHED April 23 and POSTED: April 25, 2003)
Patrick Cockburn provides important analysis of those social and ethnic factors behind the looting and the pending internal strife: Poverty and despair behind Iraq's ethnic violence: With so many Iraqis living on the edge of starvation, it is hardly surprising they took the chance to loot anything they could (POSTED: April 14, 2003)
Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies has published these TALKING POINTS -- The Day After the Statues Fall (PUBLISHED April 10 and POSTED: April 11, 2003)