Iraq Theater

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.

Iraq war conscientious objector released

Conscientious Objector Sgt. Camilo Mejia has been released from military prison after serving a nine-month sentence for refusing to return to fight in Iraq. The 28-year sergeant applied for objector status after witnessing the killing of civilians and the abuse of detainees in Iraq. Upon his release, Meija said "I certainly want to continue to lend my voice to the movement for Peace and Justice, of which I feel privileged to be a part." (Democracy Now, Feb. 22)

Iraqi women face sharia regime

In the words of female Iraqi National Alliance legislator Jenan al-Ubaedy, what women can expect from the implementation of Sharia law:

"[The husband] can beat his wife but not in a forceful way, leaving no mark. If he should leave a mark, he will pay. He can beat her when she is not obeying him in his rights. We want her to be educated enough that she will not force him to beat her, and if he beats her with no right, we want her to be strong enough to go to the police."

Conscientious objector to face court martial?

An Army hearing officer has recommended a court-martial for a soldier charged with desertion after he refused to deploy to Iraq.

In a Feb. 16 report, Lt. Col. Linda Taylor recommended that Sgt. Kevin Benderman face a general court-martial, the most serious type. The procedure requires approval from Fort Stewart's General Court Martial Convening Authority.

Benderman, an Army mechanic, refused to accompany his unit Jan. 7 for a second tour in Iraq, 10 days after he gave notice that he was seeking a discharge as a conscientious objector. He said he became opposed to war after serving in the 2003 invasion.

Two Brits convicted of Iraq abuse

After a five-week court martial, British solider Lance-Cpl. Mark Cooley, 25, was convicted of feigning punches to a bound prisoner and of tying up another man and hoisting him on a forklift. Cpl. Daniel Kenyon was convicted of aiding and abetting the abuse and failing to report it. Lance-Cpl. Darren Larkin, 30, pleaded guilty earlier to one count of battery after he was shown in a photo standing with both feet on an Iraqi who was tied up on the ground. Cooley and Kenyon face up to two years in prison and Larkin faces up to six months in jail when they are sentenced.

Deadly shoot-out in Kuwait

Bahrain's Gulf Daily News provides a more detailed report on the deadly Jan. 31 firefight in Kuwait than was deemed worthwhile by most US media. The battle raged for nine hours in al-Qurain, just south of Kuwait City, leaving five dead. It was apparently sparked when security forces raided a supposed terrorist safehouse. The house was connected to a mosque, and owned by an imam. "Security forces ...

Ritter on the "Salvador Option": already in place?

Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter argues in a Jan. 25 piece for al-Jazeera that the so-called "Salvador Option" for Iraq has already been used. He writes that in the months after Paul Bremer took over the Coalition Provisional Authority in June 2003, "the streets of Baghdad crawled with scores of assassination squads." Dozens of Baathist leaders were rubbed out by the Iran-backed Badr militia, with the collaboration of the CIA and Pentagon Special Operations. The Badr militia was later reined in by Bremer as an unreliable proxy, but this unlikely alliance between radical Shi'ites and US military forces could be rebuilt.

"Climate of fear" for Iraq elections

Bahrain's Gulf Daily News reports that Iraq's elections are taking place under a "climate of fear," with at least 30 killed Jan 27 alone in roadside ambushes, twin suicide attacks in Samarra and fighting on Baghdad's Haifa Street, which seems to be an insurgent stronghold. Two US troops were among the dead--just one day after a helicopter crash killed 31 Marines, making the 26th the bloodiest day of the war so far for Iraqi forces.

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