Bill Weinberg

Saddam tribunal judge assassinated

A judge in the tribunal created to try Saddam Hussein was assassinated by unkown gunmen along with his son outside their home in north Baghdad, two days after the tribunal ruled that a first group defendants from the Saddam regime would be tried for crimes against humanity.

Lebanon's government resigns

Lebanon's Prime Minister Omar Karami has resigned follwing a wave of angry protests in Beirut. "I declare the resignation of the government that I had the honour to head. May God preserve Lebanon," Karami said. Lahoud was a close ally of Syria, and often at odds with martyred former prime minister Rafik Hariri. President Emile Lahoud must now appoint a new prime minister, but his days may be numbered as well; "Lahoud, your turn is coming!" is a popular protest chant. France and the US alike are calling for the removal of Syria's 15,000 troops from Lebanon.

Israel blames Syria in suicide blast

Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon implicated Syria in the Feb. 25 suicide bombing of a Tel Aviv nightclub that left four dead, after the group Islamic Jihad, which maintains a Damascus office, claimed responsibility. "The terrorist attack was perpetrated by members of Islamic Jihad. Thre orders came from Islamic Jihad elements in Syria," he said.

Iraq: generals see long war

Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, the top US military commander, said Feb. 25 that the country must be prepared for a decade of war in Iraq, judging by the examples of history.  "This is not the kind of business that can be done in one year, two years probably," said Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a speech to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council. (Reuters, Feb. 25)

A yet more pessimistic analysis came from Maj Gen. Alan Stretton, who was chief of staff of the Australian force in Vietnam from 1969-70. "I really believe it will go the same way as Vietnam," he told Australian radio. "It will get no better – [only] worse – and eventually public opinion in both the US and Australia and elsewhere will demand our troops come back and when they do they will be pretending that the locals can handle it all themselves, and we will just leave a bloody mess." (AAP, Feb. 24)

Syria behind Iraq rebels?

On Feb. 24, Baghdad's al-Iraqiya TV—the US-funded government station—broadcast a "confession" by a supposed Syrian intelligence officer that his country's secret service had been assisting the Iraqi rebels.

Canada withdraws from "Star Wars," forfeits "sovereignty"

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin announced yesterday that his country will not participate in the missile defense system that the US hopes to build for North America. "This is our airspace, we're a sovereign nation and you don't intrude on a sovereign nation's airspace without seeking permission," Martin said.

Jewish Republicans: Dean supports terrorism

The Republican Jewish Coalition greeted Howard Dean's election to chair the Democratic National Committee this week with an ad campaign seeking to depict him as a supporter of terrorism.

Bush: al-Qaeda trying to kill me

Ahmed Abu Ali, 23, of Virginia, held for 20 months in Saudi Arabia, was flown to the US yesterday to face charges of plotting to assassinate President Bush. At his court hearing in Alexandria he requested permission to show scars on his back as proof he was tortured by Saudi authorities. The request was blocked by federal prosecutors, who also argued that he should be denied bail and held indefinitely, charging links to al-Qaeda and saying he would pose "an exceptionally grave danger" if released. A doctor who examined him reportedly found "no evidence of physical mistreatment." A lawsuit filed by his family is seeking release of details on his detainment and treatment in Saudi Arabia, charging he was arrested and held there at US behest. A valedictorian at the Islamic Saudi Academy in Alexandria, he went to Saudi Arabia to study, and was never officially charged with any crime there. Priti Patel of the group Human Rights First warned that the torture allegations could taint the government's case: "If the information comes from mistreatment in Saudi Arabia, it would raise questions about whether there's enough evidence for the indictment to hold." (UK Guardian, Feb. 23)

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