Generals: Iraq War Has Fueled Terrorism;
Iraqi Politicians Attack Talabani
For his Call for US Bases
Prominent retired US general bitterly criticized the conduct of the Iraq war by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on Monday at an open meeting sponsored by Congressional Democrats. Excerpts:
‘ The Iraq conflict, which began in March 2003, made “America arguably less safe now than it was on September 11, 2001,” Batiste, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq in 2004-2005, told a hearing on the war called by U.S. Senate Democrats.
“If we had seriously laid out and considered the full range of requirements for the war in Iraq, we would likely have taken a different course of action that would have maintained a clear focus on our main effort in Afghanistan, not fueled Islamic fundamentalism across the globe, and not created more enemies than there were insurgents,” Batiste said.
Batiste, who was among retired generals who called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld earlier this year, poured scorn on the war plan along with two other retired military men at the Democrat-sponsored session.
They said the Pentagon let the insurgency grow by not sending enough U.S. troops and made enemies by abusing Iraqis.
“Probably 99 percent of those people were guilty of absolutely nothing,” Batiste said of thousands of Iraqis that U.S. forces held at Abu Ghraib prison. “But the way we treated them, the way we abused them, turned them against the effort in Iraq forever.” ‘
Bush told Wolf Blitzer he thought Iraq was a comma (hat tip to Wonkette). But Iraq is very clearly an exclamation point. Now you know why the whole policy has been wrong. Bush has been trying to close off a dependent clause, not realizing he was forcefully making a declarative statement.
Al-Hayat reports that [Ar.] Iraqi political figures criticized Iraqi President Jalal Talabani Monday for having called for a permanent American military presence in Iraq, and for having said that the country needs two American air bases to prevent “foreign interventions in Iraq.” Talabani’s remarks were reported in the Washington Post.
Shaikh Khalaf al-`Ulyan, a member of the Sunni fundamentalist Iraqi Accord Front, emphasized that “The American presence in the country is dependent on the security situation. A timetable for withdrawal has become an urgent need at the present moment, even if some of the political blocs do not support an immediate withdrawal.” He added, “The request by the president of the republic for a long-term American presence contravenes the prerogatives of the president of the state, which are guaranteed by the text of the Iraqi constitution, since the question of whether the US troops stay or go must be debated in parliament.” He insisted that the Iraqi Accord Front “will never permit the establishment of permanent bases on Iraqi soil on the pretext of protecting it.” He accused unnamed political forces of deliberately provoking a security crisis in Iraq in order to keep the American presence.
Qusay Abdul Wahhab of the Sadr Movement said that Talabani’s statements contradict the express desires of the parliamentary blocs that are demanding the departure of the Occupation forces from the country. He pointed to the joint coordination among these blocs to arrive at a specific instrumentality for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq in the shortest time possible. He added that the plan was being worked on, and that “the parliamentary blocs will not permit the government to make [unilateral] decisions on this matter, especially since the al-Malik government promised to study the document signed by 140 MPs asking for a timetable for withdrawal and for no futher extenstion of the American military presence in the country.”
Salih Mutlak of the Iraqi Front for National Dialogue (secular Sunni) called Talabani’s request “a new political game” intended to strike at Iraq’s sovereignty and to concentrate on promulgating plans for partition [of Iraq].” He said that the failure of the government to deal with the security situation in the country had pushed it to depend on the American forces, but that the latter had also failed in finding deeprooted solutions to the question of security in the country.
These Sunni Arab MPs in parliament, at least, do not want a long-term US presence, contrary to what Talabani implied about a change of mind on this issue among the country’s Sunni Arabs.
British troops in Basra have killed Omar al-Faruq, a major al-Qaeda terrorist. Faruq had been brought up in Kuwait and was said to have had Iraqi parents. But somehow he ended up in Indonesia, which was his major base of operations after he fough the Soviets in Afghanistan. He was in an Afghnistan prison when he escaped last year. Nobody knows why he was in Basra, a largely Shiite city inhospitable to al-Qaeda. Some Shiites have charged that Gulf Sunni states are funding Sunni terrorism in Basra . . .
Reuters reviews major political violence in Iraq on Monday. Although it reports 8 dead, other reports give 12 or more.