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ISSUE: #. 82. April 21, 2003

ANTI-U.S. PROTESTS IN BAGHDAD

U.S. TROOPS FIRE ON PROTESTERS IN MOSUL

GARNER & BECHTEL CHART CORPORATE-MILITARY OCCUPATION

ETHNIC CLEANSING IN KURDISTAN; SHI'ITE MILITIAS STAKE TURF

ALSO: RUMMY'S COMPANY SOLD NUKES TO NORTH KOREA!!!

CURRENT HOMELAND SECURITY COLOR ADVISORY CODE: YELLOW

By Bill Weinberg




THE IRAQ FRONT
1. Protests in Baghdad as U.S. Consolidates Occupation
2. U.S. Troops Suppress Protests in Mosul; 17 Dead
3. U.S. Secures Oil Installations; OPEC Calls Emergency Meet
4. Oil Pipeline to Syria Cut Off
5. Race Against Humanitarian Disaster; Pentagon in Denial
6. Civilian Casualties: Still Mounting
7. Cheney on Targeting Journalists: You Are an "Idiot"
8. CNN's Hired Guns Get Trigger-Happy
9. U.S. Assailed on Museum Plunder; Black Marketeers Profit
10. Did U.S. Take Baghdad in "Secret Deal"?
11. U.S. Races With Iraqis to Nab Saddam's War Criminals
12. Jay Garner: Merchant of Death
13. Bechtel Gets Top Contract; French Fume
14. Pentagon Assembles Occupation "Cabinet"
15. Shi'ites Factionalized, But Prepare Resistance
16. Iraqi Christians: No Islamic State
17. Ethnic Cleansing in Kirkuk: Kurds Turn Tables on Arabs
18. Iraqi Monarchists Plot Return of the King
19. Iraqi Diplomat Eyed for Oklahoma City Bombing Link
20. UPI: Saddam Was Pawn of CIA

GLIMMERS OF HOPE
1. Conscientious Objection Surges in Military

THE SUBCONTINENT
1. More Border Violence In Kashmir
2. Political Archaeology at Ayodhya

NUCLEAR PARANOIA
1. North Korean Nukes: Courtesy of Donald Rumsfeld
2. North Korean Warhead Found in Alaska?
3. Japan Launches Spy Satellites to Monitor North Korea

NEW YORK CITY
1. Terror Alert Lowered--Except in NYC
2. Libeskind Consolidates Grip on Ground Zero Development
3. Thought for the Week



THE IRAQ FRONT

1. PROTESTS IN BAGHDAD AS U.S. CONSOLIDATES OCCUPATION
Tens of thousands of Iraqis demonstrated against the US in central Baghdad April 18 after religious leaders spoke out against the military occupation. Converging from several mosques, protesters carried banners reading "No Bush, No Saddam, Yes to Islam," and "No to America, No to Secular State, Yes to Islamic State." In a rare show of unity, the protesters included both Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims. "We are Sunni and Shiite brothers, we will not sell this nation," some chanted, said Reuters. A front-page photo in the New York Times April 19 showed protesters gathered in front of Baghdad's Abu Hanifa mosque. The Times said one banner read "No to sectarianism, one Islamic state," below the legend "No to America." At one mosque, Sheik Ahmed al-Kubeisy said US troops should leave the country before Iraqis expel them, Qatar's al-Jazeera TV reported. Addressing the US, he said, "You are the masters today. But I warn you against thinking of staying. Get out before we kick you out."

Meanwhile, the head of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), Ahmad Chalabi, being groomed by Washington as potential new Iraqi leader, made his first public appearance in Baghdad. He said he expected an Iraqi interim authority to take over most government functions from the US military in "a matter of weeks rather than months." Chalabi told a crowd in Baghdad April 18: "The United States of America does not want to run Iraq... That is the policy of the United States, that's what President Bush has said, and I believe him." The New York Times reported April 19 that Chalabi has taken up residence in a mansion in one of Baghdad's wealthiest areas, where he is protected by US soldiers.

Iraqi engineers supported by US troops said they hoped to have Baghdad's biggest power plant going in a matter of days. But sporadic fighting continued. An armored unit of the US Army's 4th Infantry Division attacked an airfield north of Baghdad April 18 after images from an unmanned surveillance plane indicated the presence of paramilitary forces.

Mohammed Mohsen Zubaidi, an official in Ahmad Chalabi's INC, announced on April 17 he had been chosen to head an interim council to run Baghdad. Reuters said it could not reach US officials to confirm the announcement, but the New York Times admitted April 14 that Zubaidi (rendered by the paper "Zobaidi") "is the closest thing this battered capital has to a mayor."

The US military brokered talks between Iraqi tribal, political and religious factions in the southern city of Nasiriyah beginning April 14--but the largest Shi'ite faction boycotted the meeting, and Chalabi only sent a representative rather than actually attending. Delegates drew up 13 principles calling for a democratic, federal Iraq. "We have no intention of ruling Iraq," said Zalmay Khalilzad, Bush's envoy to the Iraqi opposition. "We want you to establish your own democratic system based on Iraqi traditions and values." But Newsday reported April 16 that protesters outside the meeting chanted "No to America and no to Saddam!" The New York Times reported April 20 that the US insisted at the talks on a long-term American military presence in Iraq.

In a bid to put an end to looting, US Marines launched joint patrols of Baghdad with city police, backing up police cruisers with Humvees fitted with machine guns and rocket-launchers. US Marines also raided Baghdad's Palestine Hotel April 15 morning. The hotel is where foreign journalists are staying, and also where the US has set up a temporary operations base. Marines kicked down doors, rousing journalists from their beds and pointing M-16s in their faces, according to the AP. Marines press officer Sgt. Jose Guillen said the troops were checking the hotel to ensure it was "100% safe."

Officials from neighboring nations gathered in the Saudi capital Riyadh April 19 to consider the situation. The emergency meeting was attended by the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Iran, Egypt and Bahrain. The opening statement called for the occupation of Iraq to be as brief as possible and criticized US threats against Syria. "We absolutely refuse the recent threat Syria which can only increase the likelihood of a new circle of war and hatred, especially in light of the continuing deterioration of the Palestinian situation," said the statement, read by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal.

(Combined sources: wire services, al-Jazeera, UK Guardian, Newsday, NYT. For overview, see UK Guardian, April 18) [top]

2. U.S. TROOPS SUPPRESS PROTESTS IN MOSUL; 17 DEAD
Witnesses told AFP and other wire services that at least 10 people were shot dead and several wounded in Mosul when US troops opened fire on a crowd after it turned against an American-installed local governor. According to eye-witnesses, US Marines fired when the crowd noisily interrupted the governor's speech. AFP claims that the US has been banning the press from anti-US protests in Iraq. It reported that US forces tried to stop the media from covering a third day of protests by Iraqis outside Hotel Palestine April 15. (Free Speech Radio News, April 16)

( http://www.fsrn.org)

The New York Times report of the incident didn't mention protests, only saying that US forces came under fire in Mosul's central square and fired in self-defense. The paper did note that it was the second such incident in as many days, leaving a total of 17 Iraqis dead. There were no US casualties. (NYT, April 17) [top]

3. U.S. SECURES OIL INSTALLATIONS; OPEC CALLS EMERGENCY MEET
A front-page photo in the April 16 New York Times showed US troops guarding the Baba Gourgour oil refinery in Kirkuk. The caption noted: "Allied troops now control all of Iraq's oil fields." The Financial Times reported April 14 that a team from the [Halliburton-subcontracted] Boots & Coots International Well Control, working with Kuwait teams, had put out the last of the oil well fires at Iraq's al-Rumeila oil field.

(See also WW3 REPORT #81

The UK Independent's Robert Fisk in Baghdad wrote April 14: "US troops have sat back and allowed mobs to wreck and then burn the Ministry of Planning, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Irrigation, the Ministry of Trade, the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Information. They did nothing to prevent looters from destroying priceless treasures of Iraq's history in the Baghdad Archaeological Museum and in the museum in the northern city of Mosul, or from looting three hospitals. The Americans have, though, put hundreds of troops inside two Iraqi ministries that remain untouched--and untouchable--because tanks and armoured personnel carriers and Humvees have been placed inside and outside both institutions. And which ministries proved to be so important for the Americans? Why, the Ministry of Interior, of course - with its vast wealth of intelligence information on Iraq--and the Ministry of Oil. The archives and files of Iraq's most valuable asset--its oilfields and, even more important, its massive reserves--are safe and sound, sealed off from the mobs and looters, and safe to be shared, as Washington almost certainly intends, with American oil companies."

"It would seem more preparation was made by the coalition to protect oil wells than to protect hospitals or water plants," said Amnesty International secretary-general Irene Khan. (Khel.com, India, April 15)

Concerned about a possible price crash, OPEC has called an emergency meeting in Vienna this week, pledging to take steps to stabilize oil prices at $25 a barrel. Prices have fallen sharply since peaking at almost $40 a barrel on Feb. 27, before the invasion of Iraq. "Prices will be stabilized," said Algerian Oil Minister Chakib Khelil. "Our objective remains to maintain prices in the range of $22 to $28 a barrel and, if possible, around $25." Most OPEC members have been producing at maximum capacity to keep supplies plentiful during the war. Chakib Khelil said OPEC members would agree to return to production quotas fixed in March. (AP, April 20)

.

4. OIL PIPELINE TO SYRIA CUT OFF
US military officials shut down a pipeline used to illegally pump oil from Iraq to Syria, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced April 15--despite the fact that the US is calling for sanctions against Iraq to be lifted now that Saddam is out of power. Since 2000, up to 200,000 barrels per day, representing $1.2 billion per year, flowed through the pipeline.

However, at the same time, there are signs of military de-escalation. The< Pentagon decided not to send the Army's 1st Cavalry Division into Iraq. At least two attack submarines have returned from the Persian Gulf, and two of the five aircraft carrier battle groups in the area are set to return to their home ports. (Newsday, April 16) [top]

5. RACE AGAINST HUMANITARIAN DISASTER; PENTAGON IN DENIAL
With sanitation and other basic services still immobilized, the anti-sanctions group Voices in the Wilderness met April 16 with the Pentagon's Civil Military Operations Center (CMOC) at their Palestine Hotel headquarters to discuss the humanitarian crisis facing Baghdad and other cities. Voices in the Wilderness says cholera outbreaks have already been reported in Basra and the central Iraqi city of Hilla. Some local clinics are up and running, but few medications are available. Prior to the war, the Pentagon set up Humanitarian Operations Coordination Centers in Qatar, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as disaster assistance response teams (DART), to coordinate relief efforts between the US military and UN and non-governmental organizations. Not only are HOC and DART personnel not in Baghdad yet, but Voices in Wilderness says CMOC "was not even aware of the existence of these other military-humanitarian coordinating bodies."

After the meeting, Voices in the Wilderness issued a press release entitled "Heavy-handed and hopeless, the US military doesn't know what it's doing in Iraq." Within 24 hours, the group reports on its web site, Voices in the Wilderness was banned from meeting with the CMOC, or with international journalists working out of the Palestine Hotel. Asks Voices in the Wilderness: "If the freedom to critique US policies in Iraq regarding humanitarian issues is being curtailed already, then exactly what does this mean for building 'democracy' here?"

The UN reported April 17 that aid deliveries to Iraq are finally starting to get through. 100 trucks of food crossed into the stricken country from Turkey and a new supply route has opened up via Jordan. (Reuters, April 17) [top]

6. CIVILIAN CASUALTIES: STILL MOUNTING
Ali Ismaeel Abbas, a 12-year-old boy who lost his arms and suffered severe burns when a US missile struck his Baghdad home, is recovering from a skin graft in a hospital in Kuwait. His uncle says he has gradually conveyed to the boy that his pregnant mother, father, brother and 12 other relatives were all killed in the attack. (Newsday, April 18) But little Ali was only taken to Kuwait for treatment because the media happened to pick up on his case. It is unknown how many like him suffer in silence.

Newsday reported April 15 on the case of Ali Mustapha, a four-year-old boy who was blinded for life when he picked up a cylindrical object in the street outside his Baghdad home. It turned out to be live explosive from a US cluster bomb. "These are not the kind of weapons you use in cities," protested Steve Goose of Human Rights Watch. But a US Central Command spokesperson countered that the cluster bombs were aimed at Iraqi missile systems and artillery and "we had to use them in an urban environment because that was where Saddam Hussein put those weapons."

The web site Iraq Body Count continues to monitor world press reports to arrive at a daily update of the total Iraqi civilian dead. Each incident is listed separately, noting the location, number dead, weaponry used and media source. At press time, the minimum estimate stands at 1,878 and the maximum at 2,325.

See also WW3 REPORT #81 [top]

7. CHENEY ON TARGETING JOURNALISTS: YOU ARE AN "IDIOT"
AP asked Dick Cheney April 9 about charges that US forces had deliberately targeted journalists in the Iraq fighting. "The suggestion that the US would have deliberately attacked journalists is obviously completely false," Cheney said. "You'd have to be an idiot to believe that." He said the soldiers believed they were under attack, and the incidents were "simply the acts of troops in a combat zone." On April 8, a reporter for al-Jazeera TV was killed when US forces bombed his office. Nearby, US artillery battered the office of Abu Dhabi television, trapping 25 reporters. That same day, two cameramen, one from Ukraine and one from Spain, were killed when a US tank fired into the Palestine Hotel.

See also WW3 REPORT #81 [top]

8. CNN'S HIRED GUNS GET TRIGGER-HAPPY
The media watchdog group Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) expressed concern that a CNN team reporting from Iraq was traveling with an armed guard, saying it set a "dangerous precedent" that could imperil other journalists. RSF made the comments after an incident in Tikrit in which a CNN-hired security guard fired his machine gun at a checkpoint after the CNN convoy came under fire. "There is a real risk that belligerents will believe all press vehicles are armed," warned RSF. (Reuters, April 14) [top]

9. U.S. ASSAILED ON MUSEUM PLUNDER; BLACK MARKETEERS PROFIT
The head of President George Bush's Cultural Advisory Committee, Martin Sullivan, stepped down in protest following the looting of Baghdad's national museum, accusing the US of complicity in the plunder of priceless Mesopotamian cultural treasures, some dating back 7,000 years. In an April 14 letter to Bush, Sullivan said he was resigning as chairman of the President's Advisory Committee on Cultural Property, a position he had held since 1995. "The reports in recent days about the looting of Iraq's National Museum of Antiquities and the destruction of countless artifacts that document the cradle of Western civilization have troubled me deeply, a feeling that is shared by many other Americans," he wrote. Calling the looting a "tragedy," Sullivan charged it was allowed to take place "due to our nation's inaction."

Experts at an April 17 UNESCO conference called to examine the damage to Iraq's cultural heritage charged that much of the looting at the national museum was carried out by organized gangs who traffic in works of ancient art. "It looks as if at least part of the theft was a very deliberate, planned action," said McGuire Gibson, of Chicago University's Oriental Institute, who is president of the American Association for Research in Baghdad. "Some very important pieces which you would find in any introductory art book have been lost," said Gibson. (Palestine Chronicle, April 20)

Two other members of the President's Cultural Advisory Committee have also stepped down in protest of the debacle. (BBC, April 18) Over two dozen FBI agents have arrived in Iraq to search for looted relics. Interpol is also sending a team. (UK Guardian, April 18) US infantry have been dispatched to protect the Mesopotamian ruins of Ur. (Washington Times, April 20)

Baghdad's National Library and Koranic library were also burned in the rampage that followed Saddam's fall. Abdel Karim Answar Obeid, an administrator at Iraq's religious ministry, said thousands of Korans--many hand-written and some hundreds of years old--were lost. "If you talk to any intellectual Muslims in the world," said Obeid, "they are crying right now over this." (San Francisco Chronicle, April 16)

The Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) has passed a "Resolution Regarding War and the Destruction of Antiquities" protesting that the plunder was allowed to take place despite a pre-war AIA resolution demanding measures to protect Iraq's antiquities. The AIA notes that many relics stolen in the lesser wave of looting following the 1991 Gulf War have since surfaced on the international antiquities market. (Archaeology Magazine, May/June 2003)

See also WW3 REPORT #81 [top]

10. DID U.S. TAKE BAGHDAD IN "SECRET DEAL"?
The mystery of what happened to the Iraqi Republican Guard units defending Baghdad may be solved. Citing anonymous sources, the French daily Le Monde reported April 15 that Republican Guard commander Maher Sufyan reached an agreement with the US military in which he ordered his forces to surrender in exchange for his transfer via a US helicopter to an undisclosed safe haven. Sufyan reportedly ordered all Republican Guard forces to lay down their arms and go home. Shortly thereafter an Apache helicopter escorted him from al-Rashid camp, east of Baghdad, to an unknown location. Sufyan is not included on the infamous "deck of cards" created by US officials enumerating the most wanted fugitives from the Saddam Hussein regime. (Al-Jazeera, April 15)

Arab media are speculating that a "safqa"--secret deal--was arranged between the US and the Baath regime to hand over Baghdad. These reports point out that none of the seven rescued US POWs was hurt--all were found in good condition, dressed in pajamas rather than the standard POW uniforms. Reports also note that US tanks rolled into Baghdad with very little resistance while less-fortified Basra sustained almost three weeks of fierce resistance. Finally, tens of thousands of Baath party officials and operatives apparently managed to disappear.

Iraq's UN Ambassador Mohammad al-Douri was quoted in both US and Arab media saying, "The game is over," insisting he had not been in contact with Saddam for weeks. When asked why he used the word "game," al-Douri replied, "the war is over." Meanwhile, al-Jazeera reported that he has been allowed to travel to Syria and that he may be asked to represent the new Iraqi government at the UN.

(Jalal Ghazi for Pacific News Service, April 14) [top]

11. U.S. RACES WITH IRAQIS TO NAB SADDAM'S WAR CRIMINALS
US troops have been given a deck of playing cards depicting Saddam Hussein and his minister, with Saddam appearing as the ace of spades and Qusay, his younger son, is the ace of clubs. Each card carries a death sentence, with troops authorized to kill the targeted fugitives. But in some cases angry Iraqis may be trying to beat them to the punch.

On April 8, Newsday reported that Gen. Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali" for his purported role in gas attacks on Kurds and Iranian troops, was killed in an air attack on Basra. On April 14, the same paper reported that his henchmen were apprehended and shot by al-Wafi tribesmen of the Madan people or "Marsh Arabs," as they prepared to secure an escape route for him from Basra ahead of British troops. Tribal leader Sabah al-Wafi said he had personally been tortured by one of the apprehended officers. "Everyone shot him," he told Newsday. "Ten to 15 people shot him." Human Rights Watch says the Marsh Arabs, who numbered 250,000 as recently as 1991, today number only 40,000. "Many have been arrested, disappeared or executed; most have become refugees abroad or internally displaced in Iraq as a result of Iraq's oppression," Human Rights Watch wrote.

The US military says Kurdish forces near Mosul have handed over Samir Abul Aziz al-Najim, number 24 on the list of 55 most wanted Iraqis. He was oil minister until earlier this year and was Saddam's chief of staff for several years after the 1991 Gulf War. Saddam's half-brother, Barzan Ibrahim Hasan al-Tikriti, former head of the intelligence service, was also reported captured, as was another of Saddam's three half-brothers, Watban. Saddam's scientific adviser, Amer Hammoudi al-Saadi, number 55 in the pack of cards, also surrendered to US forces. (UK Guardian, April 18) The Baghdad headquarters of the Mukhabarat secret police has been taken over by US troops, who bar entry to the Iraqis who gather there each day seeking information on their disappeared loved ones. (Newsday, April 16) [top]

12. JAY GARNER: MERCHANT OF DEATH
Retired Gen. Jay Garner, charged with overseeing the civil administration of occupied Iraq, was ostensibly chosen for his role in the 1991 operation to aid the Kurds after Saddam brutally put down their revolt. But the folks at StopJayGarner.com say: "Here's the problem with Jay Garner: Garner is a weapons dealer, not an experienced diplomat." Garner remains--despite his new post--president of SY Coleman, which provides technical support for missile systems used in the Iraq war. "No matter your feelings about this war, appointing a weapons maker to the role of peacemaker is a recipe for whipping up anti-American feeling in the Middle East."

Garner has been a top booster of space-based weapons since the Reagan era, recently writing in Army magazine: "While the idea that lasers could be used effectively to conduct lethal engagements was promoted vigorously during the heyday of President Reagan's Star Wars program in the 1980s, the reality of using high-energy lasers in killing systems has finally come of age." He has more recently become a booster of George W. Bush, telling the New York Times April 15: "If President Bush had been president we would have won" the Vietnam war.

Garner exemplifies the revolving door between the Pentagon and defense contractors. The owner of a million-dollar home in Orlando, FLA, Garner reportedly profited from deals with his former military command. Competitor DESE Research is launching litigation against Garner and SY Coleman, claiming Garner slandered DESE executives in meetings with military contracting officials who had been in Garner's command. "Jay's very aggressive and did what he could to pull contracts, even if that meant pulling strings," a former high-ranking industry executive told the Nation. (April 28). Former lieutenant colonel Biff Baker of Army Space Command accused SY Coleman of having received $100 million in contracts solely because of Garner's Pentagon connections. SY sued Baker for defamation and the lawsuit was settled out of court in January. A friend of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Garner was named president of SY Technology (now SY Coleman) in 1997--despite having almost no experience in business.

Garner may have lied to Congress. After 1991's Operation Desert Storm, he told Congress the Patriot missile defense system was a success--even though it knocked down just one out of 88 Scud missiles the Iraqis launched at Israel and Saudi Arabia, according to the General Accounting Office. Says MIT missile expert Theodore A. Postol: "He was arrogant and very discourteous. He was part of a group of senior officers who were lying about Patriot's performance." (Washington Post, April 11).

See also WW3 REPORT #80 [top]

13. BECHTEL GETS TOP CONTRACT; FRENCH FUME
On April 17, the US Agency for International Development awarded the top reconstruction contract for Iraq to Bechtel, the giant San Francisco-based engineering firm which actually built much of Iraq's oil infrastructure in the first place over a generation ago. The costs of reconstruction my run as high as $100 billion. (NYT, April 18)

Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was in Athens for a European Union summit, where he urged the EU to arrive at a shared position on Iraq's reconstruction. (NYT, April 18) Complicating the issue is the question of Iraq's outstanding oil contracts with EU member France, as well as with Russia, which may not be honored under whatever new regime emerges. Iraq also had a huge outstanding foreign debt to France and Russia. Immediately after the fall of Saddam, US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz appealed to Paris and Moscow to write off their loans to Iraq in the name of humanitarianism. (BBC, April 10)

Greek police arrested 106 anti-war protesters after two hours of violence outside the scene of the EU summit. Protesters threw Molotov cocktails, stones, bricks and paint at police and the US, British, French and Italian embassies. (Reuters, April 16) (NOTE: Greek anarchists should learn to read the newspapers. France, of course, was opposed to the war.) [top]

14. PENTAGON ASSEMBLES OCCUPATION "CABINET"
In Kuwait, a group of potential US "ministers" is waiting to assume "cabinet" positions under Jay Garner. Although this will be an ostensibly civilian bureaucracy, the Pentagon has the last word on appointments, and has reportedly vetoed several nominees from the State Department. Chosen officials apparently include former US ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine, former Sudan envoy Timothy Carney and Robert Reilly, former director of Voice of America radio. Former CIA director James Woolsey, purportedly a champion of Ahmed Chalabi as leader of Iraq, is said to be in line to be Information Minister. Bodine was ambassador to Yemen when the USS Cole was attacked in October 2000. She later refused to allow the controversial top FBI anti-terrorist investigator John O'Neil into Yemen. Carney was in Sudan from 1995-7, and was closely involved in unsuccessful efforts to hunt down Osama bin Laden, who was then believed to be in the country.

(O'Neill would be killed in the World Trade Center attacks. See WW3 REPORT #37)

The overwhelming Pentagon control of post-war Iraq is said to be challenged by Secretary of State Colin Powell, whose position was strengthened this week when the Senate and House both insisted State should have full control of the $2.5 billion in reconstruction funds contained in the new $80 billion emergency war spending bill. A Senate version of the bill explicitly forbids the $2.5 billion being used "for any Department of Defense activity."

( UK Independent, April 5) [top]

15. SHI'ITES FACTIONALIZED, BUT PREPARE RESISTANCE
A cleric at one of Shia Islam's holiest shrines in the southern city of Karbala joined others around the country in denouncing the presence of US troops in Iraq during Friday prayers, saying it amounted to imperialism by "unbelievers." "We reject this foreign occupation, which is a new imperialism. We don't want it anymore," Sheikh Kaazem Al-Abahadi Al-Nasari told thousands of faithful at the mausoleum of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed. Sheikh Nasri denounced "those politicians who are coming back to Iraq supported by the Americans and British, who given the opportunity would only obey American orders." This was a likely reference to Ahmed Chalabi, who bills himself as a secular Shi'ite, and who left Iraq in 1958.

In Baghdad's Shi'ite shantytown, al-Hikma mosque held the first Friday prayers since repression following 1999 riots sparked by the assassination of prominent cleric Mohammad Sadeq Sadr. Some 50,000 jammed the streets of the district, al-Sadr City (formerly Saddam City). The mosque's Sheikh Mohammad Fartusi said the Shi'ite would not accept a democracy "that allows Iraqis to say what they want but gives them no say in their destiny." The shantytown was patrolled by a Shi'ite militia wielding AK-47s

Lebanon's top Shi'ite cleric Sheikh Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah urged Iraqis that same day to rebuild without Washington's supervision. "We call on the oppressed good people of Iraq…to prevent the birth of a new dictator from inside and abroad, and to open their eyes to the methods of the occupier," said Fadlallah in his sermon. (Al-Jazeera, April 18)

Jamaat Sadr-Thani, a militant underground Shi'ite group led by Muqtada al-Sadr, was behind last week's siege of the Najaf home of Shi'ite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, and continues to demand that he quit Iraq, according to al-Sistani aid Muhammad Bakr al-Mahri. He also blamed the group for the slaying of another Shi'ite cleric, Abdul Majid al-Khoei, who had just returned from exile in London and was accused of being too close to the US and UK. Muqtada al-Sadr is the son of the Shi'ite cleric killed by Saddam's regime in 1999. (Newsday, April 14)

Shi'ite militias in Baghdad's al-Sadr City shantytown are also rounding up international Fedayeen volunteers from Arab countries who came to fight for Saddam and are now turning their guns on the Shi'ites. Local Shi'ite militia leaders say they have arrested volunteers from Yemen, Algeria and elsewhere, many of them followers of the Sunni fundamentalist Wahabi sect (to which the Saudi royal family and Osama bin Laden both belong). The prisoners are being held in the local al-Mohsin mosque. (UK Independent, April 20)

See also WW3 REPORT #81

Ironically, both the US and Iran are taking advantage of the chaos in Iraq to move against Iranian guerillas that Saddam had backed in an effort to harass or destabilize the Tehran regime. The Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran--political wing of the armed People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran--said April 16 it would hold marches in Washington and across Europe to protest Iranian attacks on its Iraq bases which it said killed 28 of its members. "We want action from Europe to prevent the use of the war in Iraq by Iran's regime," Firouz Mahvi of the PMOI told Reuters in Stockholm. He said the Shi'ite Muslim clerics who dominate Iran were taking advantage of the war to "eliminate the Mujahedeen." (Reuters, April 16) Meanwhile, a military spokesman told the New York Times that US forces had "bombed the heck" out of two bases of the Mujahedeen Khalq, a Saddam-backed Iranian group on the US State Department terrorist list. The group's main military headquarters at Camp Ashraf, north of Baghdad, was apparently destroyed in US air strikes. (NYT, April 17)

See also WW3 REPORT #53 [top]

16. IRAQI CHRISTIANS: NO ISLAMIC STATE
Christians crowded into churches across Iraq Sunday to celebrate Easter, amid growing concerns over calls for an Islamic state. A longtime bishop of Baghdad used the occasion to ask that President Bush help introduce an Iraqi constitution that treats Christians as equals. "As Iraqis we have to be united more than ever during this Easter," said the Rev. Emmanuel Delly, who recently retired after 40 years as Baghdad's Chaldean bishop. "We can't meet Mr. Bush. But please tell Mr. Bush, `I am asking you in the name of all bishops to give us a good constitution,'" Delly said.

Christians, mostly Chaldeans, total 700,000 in Iraq, about 5% of the population. Under Saddam, Christian schools were nationalized, official discrimination was instated in marriage rules, requiring Christians to convert to Islam in order to marry Muslims, and unofficial discrimination persisted in employment. In northern Iraq, Muslim mobs have attacked Assyrian Christians several times in recent years, according to US State Department human rights reports. (AP, April 20)

See also WW3 REPORT # 45 [top]

17. ETHNIC CLEANSING IN KIRKUK: KURDS TURN TABLES ON ARABS
Arabs in and around the northern city of Kirkuk say they are being forcibly expelled from homes and villages by Kurds bent on reversing years of their own forced expulsion at the hands of the Saddam regime. Up to 2,000 people from four villages near Daqouq, 17 miles south of Kirkuk, are reported to have left property and land that once belonged to Kurds, after being served with eviction notices by an official from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which took control of the area following Kirkuk's fall on April 10.

US military officials are examining some 1,500 unmarked graves near Kirkuk. Thousands of Kurds in the region disappeared during Saddam's rule, although it was not immediately clear whose corpses were in the graves.

( UK Guardian, April 18)

See also WW3 REPORT #81 [top]

18. IRAQI MONARCHISTS PLOT RETURN OF THE KING
Prince Raad bin Zeid in Amman, Jordan, "head of the Royal House of Iraq," told the Financial Times he is waiting for a mandate from the masses before he takes power in Baghdad. "I won't go back to Iraq until asked by the people," said Prince Raad, 67. "But I never say no to a challenge." Meanwhile, he describes would-be Iraqi leader Ahmad Chalabi as a "friend" whose ancestors financed the Iraqi monarchy. Prince Raad was studying at Cambridge when the Hashemite monarchy was ousted in Iraq's 1958 revolution. He is today a rare voice in Jordan supporting the US invasion of Iraq. "It was funny to find that the US knew about Iraqi needs and wants more than the Arab world," he said. "The Arab media and people could not understand that Saddam had become such an absolute dictator and so terrorized Iraqis that they were happy to embrace a US soldier." He said the new Iraq should be a multi-party democracy, recognize Israel and re-open the pipeline running from Mosul to the Israeli port of Haifa via Jordan.

Of three possible contenders, Prince Raad is closest in line to Iraq's last king, Faisal II. One rival pretender is Sherif Ali bin Hussein of the Constitutional Monarchy Movement, who is a spokesman for the Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress. Another is Prince Hassan bin Talal, who is seeking a role as UN mediator in Iraq.

Prince Raad says a monarchist restoration in Iraq could heal rifts--the Hashemites are Sunni but revered by Shi'ites as descendents of the Prophet Mohammed. "The abolition of the monarchy was a big mistake. Ever since [the military coup] there's been no equilibrium, and the regime and the people have been dramatically opposed. I've witnessed 40 years of so-called republicanism, and all we've ended up with is dictatorship." He also believes a monarchist restoration could be exported elsewhere in the Arab world, pointing out that a Hashemite dynasty once ruled Hijaz in contemporary Saudi Arabia. "With the fall of Saddam, the whole Arab world is discovering what they have been missing," he said. "The Syrians have not moved for 50 years, but Baath rule is ending. We are breaking the stranglehold." (Financial Times, April 14)

NOTE: A Hashemite restoration in Iraq is said to be the special design of Pentagon advisor Richard Perle. See WW3 REPORT #79 [top]

19. IRAQI DIPLOMAT EYED FOR OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING LINK
Attorneys for a group of Oklahoma City bombing victims asked a federal judge to hold Iraq's UN Ambassador Mohammed al-Douri in contempt of court after he left the US before they could depose him as part of their lawsuit. James Peterson, attorney for the group Judicial Watch, told US District Judge John Martin that the April 11 departure of al-Douri blocked plaintiffs' efforts to pursue possible links between Iraq and the 1995 Oklahoma City attack. The families of over a dozen attack victims have filed suit against Saddam's regime under the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, contending that the bombing was "orchestrated, assisted, and directly aided by agents of the Republic of Iraq." The plaintiffs have obtained a default judgement against Iraq in a Washington DC federal court, and a judge has scheduled a hearing later this month to determine financial damages. Al-Douri was subpoenaed April 7 but did not appear in court. (Newsday, April 17)

See also WW3 REPORT #48 [top]

20. UPI: SADDAM WAS PAWN OF CIA
UPI, citing interviews with "almost a dozen former US diplomats, British scholars and former US intelligence officials," claimed April 10 that Saddam Hussein was once part of a CIA-backed hit squad. The CIA declined to comment on the report. UPI claims Saddam's first contacts with US officials date to 1959, when he was part of a CIA-authorized six-man squad charged with assassinating then-Prime Minister Gen. Abd al-Karim Qasim, who had overthrown the Iraqi monarchy the previous year and instated a left-nationalist regime. According to an anonymous former senior State Department official, Saddam, then in his early 20s, became a part of a US plot to oust Qasim. According to this source, Saddam was installed in a Baghdad apartment on al-Rashid Street directly opposite Qasim's office in the Ministry of Defense. Adel Darwish, Middle East expert and author of "Unholy Babylon," said the operation was undertaken "with full knowledge of the CIA," and that Saddam's handler was an Iraqi dentist working for CIA and Egyptian intelligence. Anonymous US officials reportedly confirmed Darwish's account.

The assassination, set for Oct. 7, 1959, was botched. One former CIA official said that 22-year-old Saddam lost his nerve and started firing too soon, killing Qasim's driver but only wounding Qasim in the shoulder and arm. Darwish told UPI that one of the assassins had bullets that did not fit his gun and that another had a hand grenade that got stuck in the lining of his coat. "It bordered on farce," a former US intelligence official reportedly said. Qasim, hiding on the floor of his car, escaped death, and Saddam--whose calf had been grazed by a fellow would-be assassin--escaped to Tikrit, thanks to CIA and Egyptian intelligence agents. Saddam then crossed into Syria and was transferred by Egyptian intelligence agents to Beirut, according to Darwish and former CIA officials. In Beirut, the CIA paid for Saddam's apartment and put him through a brief training course, former officials said. The agency then helped him get to Cairo, where he reportedly made frequent visits with CIA station chief Jim Eichelberger and CIA operative Miles Copeland.

In February 1963 Qasim was killed in a Baath Party coup, and the CIA jumped into action, providing the Iraqi National Guard with lists of suspected communists who were jailed, interrogated and summarily executed. British scholar Con Coughlin, author of "Saddam: King of Terror," quotes Jim Critchfield, then a senior CIA official, as saying the killing of Qasim and the communists was regarded "as a great victory." Saddam, meanwhile, became head of al-Jihaz a-Khas, the secret intelligence apparatus of the Baath Party, and rose through the ranks.

NOTE: The UPI report contains one serious error, referring to "Qasim's ruling Baath Party." In fact, the Baath Party was just one faction of his ruling coalition--and the faction which ultimately moved to overthrow him in 1963. See The Iraqi History Page. [top]

GLIMMERS OF HOPE

1. CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION SURGES IN MILITARY
While only a handful have gone public, several hundred US soldiers have applied for conscientious objector (CO) status since January, according to the Center on Conscience and War (CCW). "The bare minimum is several hundred, and this number only includes the ones that have come to my group and to groups we're associated with," said CCW's J.E. McNeil. "There will be others who will have gone through different channels, and some people do it on their own."

Only a small percentage of people who apply receive a CO discharge. Military statistics lag by about one year, and rulings on applications can take up to two years, so the exact number of COs in the present war will not be known for some time. Military figures also do not count applications from servicemen who are absent without leave, so they will not include Stephen Funk, a Marine reserve who publicly declared himself a CO and reported back to his California military base April 1. Funk, 20, said he realized that he was against war during his training, which included having to bayonet human-shaped dummies while shouting, "kill, kill!"

Funk has become an international symbol of war resistance. Says Aimee Allison, a CO from the 1991 Gulf War who has been supporting Funk: "Since Stephen went public, some people from Yesh Gvul [the Israeli CO movement] have contacted me to pledge their support for Stephen and to show solidarity and to thank him for making a stand."

The military granted 111 COs from the army in Operation Desert Storm before putting a stop to the practice, resulting in 2,500 soldiers being sent to prison, says CCW's Bill Gavlin. (IPS, April 15)

Funk, who also happens to be gay, told the gay news magazine The Advocate: "Ultimately, it's my fault for joining in the first place. It wasn't as well thought out as it should've been. It was about me being depressed and wanting direction in life. I saw the valuable things you can learn, like teamwork, leadership--things you can learn in Boy Scouts. I saw it as a way to learn new things and meet new people. It was a way to get what I thought was missing in my life." He said he caved in to pressure from a recruiter who exploited his vulnerability. "They don't really advertise that they kill people."

See also WW3 REPORT #80 [top]

THE SUBCONTINENT

1. MORE BORDER VIOLENCE IN KASHMIR
Indian troops killed seven Islamic militants attempting to infiltrate into Indian-controlled Kashmir from Pakistan April 20, authorities said. Hours later, a fierce gun battle raged in the Mendhar area, 150 miles north of Jammu, winter capital of Jammu-Kashmir state, a police source told AP. Since 1989, Islamic guerillas have fought to make Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority region, independent or a part of Pakistan. More than 61,000, mostly civilians, have been killed. India says Pakistan trains, arms and funds the rebels--a charge denied by Pakistan. (AP, April 20)

See also WW3 REPORT #73 [top]

2. POLITICAL ARCHAEOLOGY AT AYODHYA
Archaeologists have begun a court-ordered excavation at the hotly contested site of the sixteenth-century Babri mosque in the northern India town of Ayodhya. In 1992, the mosque was destroyed by Hindu extremists, who believe it was built on the site of a Hindu temple marking the birthplace of the god Rama. Resulting inter-communal riots left over 2,000 dead. The excavation, charged with determining whether the mosque was in fact built atop an earlier temple, follows petitions by militant Hindu organizations to build a new temple at the site. Supervised by the Archaeological Survey of India, the excavation is being closely watched by both Muslim and Hindu organizations. A yellow curtain that shielded the excavation from public view has been replaced with a pink one following an outcry from Muslims. Yellow (saffron) is considered a sacred color by Hindus. (Archaeology Magazine, May/June 2003)

Cases related to the Ayodhya dispute have been in India's judicial system for over half a century, and under British colonial adjudication another half-century before that. The issue has helped propel India's ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power. The question again exploded into violence last year when a train carrying Hindu militants from the site, where they had rallied for rebuilding the temple, was attacked by Muslim militants in Gujarat state, leaving 59 dead and sparking weeks of retaliatory violence in which over 1,000 Muslims were killed. The BJP faces crucial state elections this year and a general election in 2004, and Ayodhya is certain to be a hot campaign issue. (NYT, April 3)

See also WW3 REPORT #s 63 & 60 [top]

NUCLEAR PARANOIA

1. NORTH KOREAN NUKES: COURTESY OF DONALD RUMSFELD
When asked to comment on a Newsweek story documenting Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's role as a board director of ABB--the Zurich-based energy company that sold two light-water nuclear reactors to North Korea in 2000--Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke responded: "There was no vote on this issue and Secretary Rumsfeld does not recall [the sale of the reactors] being brought before the board at any time." ABB has declined repeated requests to make board-meeting minutes available, but there is little doubt within ABB that its board members knew about the deal.

In fact, ABB CEO Goran Lindahl visited North Korea himself in November 1999 to announce ABB's "wide-ranging, long-term cooperation agreement" with the regime and announced the opening of an ABB office in Pyongyang. Newsweek notes that board meetings attended by Rumsfeld were held before and after Lindahl's visit to Pyongyang. (Newsweek Atlantic Edition, April 14)

The ABB deal was part of the 1994 agreement in which North Korea was to be supplied with nuclear technology "less likely" to have weapons applications in exchange for officially abandoning its weapons program, which violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. North Korea announced it was withdrawing from the treaty earlier this year. In an April 10 press release, Greenpeace charges that North Korea used its weapons program as a "bargaining chip" to gain aid and nuclear technology--and that the US administration encourages such tactics by disregarding the UN and international law in Iraq and elsewhere. "If the US doesn't abide by the rules, other states certainly won't," warns Greenpeace.

See also WW3 REPORT #66 [top]

2. NORTH KOREAN WARHEAD FOUND IN ALASKA?
Seoul's Korea Times, citing a report by South Korea's National Assembly, voiced claims March 28 that the warhead from a long-range missile test-fired by North Korea was found in Alaska. "According to a US document, the last piece of a missile warhead fired by North Korea was found in Alaska," former Japanese foreign minister Taro Nakayama was quoted as saying in the report. "Washington, as well as Tokyo, has so far underrated Pyongyang's missile capabilities," he said. [top]

3. JAPAN LAUNCHES SPY SATELLITES TO MONITOR NORTH KOREA
On March 28, Japan launched two spy satellites to monitor North Korea's missile and suspected nuclear weapons programs. The launch from the Tanegashima Space Center, on a remote North Pacific island, marked a milestone for Japan's space program, previously limited to strictly non-military missions. North Korea called the launch a "hostile act," warning it might test-fire a missile in response . (AP, March 28) [top]

NEW YORK CITY

1. TERROR ALERT LOWERED--EXCEPT IN NYC
With the war in Iraq deemed all but over, the US Homeland Security Department lowered the nation's terror threat level from "orange" to "yellow." But in New York City, police officials kept the terror alert at "orange," with M-16-wielding National Guard troops in the major subway stations. "New York remains under a greater risk of terrorism than other parts of the country," said police spokesperson Michael O'Looney. (Newsday, April 17)

See also WW3 REPORT #78 [top]

2. LIBESKIND CONSOLIDATES GRIP ON GROUND ZERO DEVELOPMENT
As private architect Daniel Libeskind's power over redevelopment of the World Trade Center site becomes clearer, other architects involved in the planning are stepping down--or being let go. The latest to step down is Alex Garvin, vice president for planning at the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. (LMDC), the semi-public agency created to oversee redevelopment of the site. His departure follows the Port Authority's recent decision to drop its own contracted architect Stanton Eckstut, hired to protect the interests of the Authority, which owns the site, in any redevelopment plan. Libeskind's responsibilities will become clearer when his three contracts--with the LMDC and the Port Authority for the overall site plan, with the Port Authority for the transportation hub and with the LMDC for the 9-11 memorial--are signed this month. (Newsday, April 17)

See also WW3 REPORT #75 [top]

3. THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
"Governor Pataki says we should take the toppled statues of Saddam Hussein, melt them down, and put them in a new World Trade Center--to serve as a permanent reminder that America is a country that cannot tell Arabs apart."

Bill Maher, "Real Time with Bill Maher," quoted in Newsday, April 17

See also WW3 REPORT #81 [top]

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