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)
The US military claims it has taken into custody Sabawi Ibrahim Hassan, half-brother of Saddam Hussein and a supposed key figure in the insurgency. Iraqi officials told the AP that Hassan had been captured by Syrian authorities in the northeast of that country, and handed over to US forces as a gesture of good faith following recent accusations that Damascus is aiding the Iraq insurgents. (AP, Feb. 27)
At least 22, including both rebels and government troops, are dead in fresh fighting with presumed Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. The bloodiest clash was in Helmand province, where troops were ambushed on night patrol. "Our mujahideen killed the soldiers in an ambush," Taliban spokesman Abdul Latif Hakimi told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.
Dionisio Ribeiro Filho, 59, was shot in the head at the entrance to the Tingua forest reserve, just outside Rio de Janeiro, after he defended it from poachers and illegal palm tree cutters. His death followed the Feb.
The latest witness in the high-profile case of a Yemeni sheikh being heard in a Brooklyn federal courtroom was a New York Univeristy linguist. The scholar, Bernard Haykel, was called in to translate the word "jihad," which is repeatedly referenced in secretly-recorded tapes of the sheikh, Mohammed Ali Hassan al-Moayad, who is charged with material support to al-Qaeda and Hamas. To the dismay of federal prosecutors, Haykel said jihad can mean "Anything that basically furthers the cause of Islam and is understood to be doing good"—not necessarily armed struggle. (NYT, Feb. 25)
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.
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.
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)