*US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz criticized Turkey in an interview on CNN for not giving practical support to the US war effort in Iraq. On Turkish news site said, ‘ In his criticism, Wolfowitz singled out the Turkish military for not playing “a leadership role” on the Iraq issue. He suggested that, without involving itself directly in politics, the Turkish military could have said strongly that “it was in Turkey’s interest to support the United States.” ‘ This statement, even if hedged in this way, is truly scarey and demonstrates that Wolfowitz should be impeached. He is suggesting that the military of a democratic country should speak out on politics. And he is implying that it should do so in opposition to the will of the Turkish public and its elected representatives. If he thinks it would have made a difference, that can only be because of the Turkish military’s past history of making coups when its will was thwarted by civilian politicians.
Would we want a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who stepped up to the podium and said, “I don’t care what President Bush or Secretary Rumsfeld or Congress think, I say a war on China is necessary at this juncture, and that they cannot afford to ignore the strongly held feeling about this of the US officer corps!” ??
Do we really want a high official of the US Defense Department going about saying that such statements from the military are desirable in a democratic society? Is this where Wolfowitz is taking the US?
Some 90% of the Turkish public opposed the US war in Iraq. In wishing ex post facto for a stronger military voice in that debate, Wolfowitz reveals himself to have openly militarist leanings. He is unfit for the office he holds and should be called on the mat before Congress for this outrage.
*Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim is on his way back to Iraq from his long exile in Iran. He will make a public appearance first in Basra to test the political waters. He is said to be planning to become a spiritual guide and to turn his political party, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq over to his brother, Abdul Aziz. Before he left Iran, the Ayatollah said, “The future of Iraq belongs to Islam. And making efforts to preserve Iraq’s independence is our key challenge.”
*In his Friday Prayers sermon at the Muhsin Mosque in Sadr City, Baghad, Kazim al-Nasiri, a cleric, told “tens of thousands of worshippers that a senior religious figure from the holy city of Najaf,”–Kazim al-Ha’iri, “had issued a recent edict on the fate of the Ba’athists.” He said, “The message is clear. The hawza cannot protect them – these Ba’athis, these Saddamites – who are now coming out. This is unacceptable to the hawza . . . It is permissible to kill them.” The Bush administration has appointed several mid-level Baathist managers to important positions, angering Shiites and others persecuted by the regime. Kazim al-Ha’iri [Haeri] is not actually in Najaf, but rather in Qom. Or he was, last I knew. He has been in exile in Iran for many years, and is a Khomeinist. He is playing figurehead for the leader of the Sadr Movement, Muqtada al-Sadr. This open call to vigilante violence against members of the old regime constitutes and important challenge to the US task of keeping the peace. The mayor/police chief of Najaf itself, appointed by the US military, is a Sunni former Baathist, which has provoked demonstrations in the Shiite holy city. Al-Ha’iri is saying the mayor should be assassinated.
*For interesting background on Paul Bremer, the new American civilian administrator of Iraq, see Bill Berkowitz, WorkingforChange
*PS for reporters and other writers reading my site: The name Kazim or Kadhim is properly spelled with a “K” in English, not a “Q”. Likewise it is al-Hikmah Mosque with a “K” in the middle. The ‘K’ and ‘Q’ represent different sounds in Arabic, and are not interchangeable. Also, with regard to vowels: Arabic only has three short ones, a, i, and u. Thus, a spelling like Hezbollah or Haeri represents Persian/Iranian pronunciation, not Arabic. In Arabic it would be Hizbullah and al-Ha’iri or al-Hairi. No ‘e’s’ or ‘o’s’ in Arabic.