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)
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.
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)
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."
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.
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.
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.
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 ...