*Daniel Pipes, who has thrown around accusations that academics critical of American nationalism or Likud aggression are “pro-terrorist,” has now openly come out in favor of supporting the Mujahidin-i Khalq terrorist organization that had been based in Saddam’s Iraq and supported by the Baath. This group was among those that took US embassy personnel hostage, and blew up 81 high Iranian officials in the early 1980s. Pipes and his co-author argue that the MK has been functioning as an “army” on Iraqi soil, aiming its operations at the Iranian regime. Pipes has again revealed his true colors. This is Bush’s nominee to the US Institute for Peace?
*Lord Goldsmith, the British attorney general, told UK PM Tony Blair that the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq and reconstruction efforts may be illegal in international law without a further UN Security Council resolution authorizing those efforts. The memo, from some time ago, has just been leaked. His concerns derive from the language of the 4th Geneva Convention, which govern the behavior of military occupying powers. The Guardian writes that ‘He listed specifically the limitations placed on the authority of an occupying power under international law. These included attempts at “wide-ranging reforms of governmental and administrative structures”, any alterations in the status of public officials or judges except in exceptional cases, changes to the penal laws, and the imposition of major structural economic reforms.’
*Some of Lord Goldsmith’s concerns may be allayed by the announcement by the Bremer team that no Iraqi transitional government is likely to emerge until at least July. There were demonstrations by Shiites on Monday against such delays in moving to an Iraqi national authority of some sort. Others of his concerns may actually be addressed by the UN Security Council, which seems to be looking with favor on a resolution ending sanctions on Iraq and implicitly recognizing the changed status quo.
*British troops will be replacing US Army forces in Baghdad, in hopes they will do a better job at policing, something US troops have not been trained for. The British have generally done a better job of restoring order to Basra than the Americans have done in the capital. One British officer was quoted in the Mirror saying: “”We have three months at best to get this right. It is absolutely crucial the people of Baghdad can be persuaded we are there to help them. Otherwise, the whole point of the operation could totally collapse and we could have a new war on our hands against the Iraqi people we came to liberate. The American troops in Baghdad are not doing what is necessary. They are tired, they want to go home and they do not have the training for the job that needs to be done. After 30 years of being in Northern Ireland, as well as the Balkans, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan, we know we have those skills and have offered our help.”
*Meanwhile, the coalition forces say they are going to begin collecting machine guns from the Iraqi populace. I fear some of the militiamen carrying them may not give them up without a fight, and that a fight in a Baghdad slum may be hard to win politically.
*In Pakistan, Qazi Husain Ahmad, head of the fundamentalist Jamaat-i Islami, has insisted that Gen. Pervez Musharraf retire from the military and become a civilian president by August 15, or face a nationwide campaign of popular protests against his rule. The Commonwealth recently rejected Pakistan’s application to rejoin on the grounds that Pakistan’s parliament still lacks full sovereignty and can by over-ruled by Gen. Musharraf. The religious parties in parliament, with nearly 20 percent of seats, have been instrumental in paralyzing its workings because they refuse to turn to legislation until 19 martial law amendments passed by diktat by Musharraf last summer are repealed. Ironically, the fundamentalists, who used to reject democracy as a Western fallacy, have emerged as the most stalwart defenders of the 1973 constitution, which pre-dates the martial law amendments of Gen. Zia ul-Haq and of Gen. Musharraf. This development supports the arguments of those who say the fundamentalists can be drawn into democratic horse trading if they are not excluded from politics by authoritarian regimes.