On Ending Military Occupations in the Middle East
Some Iraqis find it ironic that President Bush called for a withdrawal of foreign troops from Lebanon before the elections, but that elections were held in Iraq under conditions of foreign military occupation. Some quotes from the Knight Ridder story:
“He must have forgotten that his army is occupying Iraq,” said Sa’ad Abdul Aziz, 21, an engineering student at Baghdad University. “What about the Republican Palace that they are using as a U.S. embassy?” . . .
“America should get out of Iraq immediately and without conditions, just like it is asking neighboring Syria to withdraw from the Lebanese Republic,” said Sheikh Nasir Al-Saidi, imam of a mosque in the restive Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, in a front-page article Saturday in the newspaper Azzaman. . .
“Everyone in Iraq would like to see foreign troops leave,” said Walid al Hilli, of the DAWA Party, which is part of a Shiite coalition that won a majority in the January elections. “But we would like to see the foreign troops leave Iraq when there is enough security inside Iraq, which does not exist now. We’re working hard to get Iraqi troops and Iraqi policemen ready to keep security inside Iraq. We don’t exactly know the situation in Lebanon. Can the police secure Lebanese cities?”
Although the US military was supposed to have gone to Iraq to protect us all from weapons of mass destruction, Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, actually allowed the most sophisticated weapons sites to be systematically looted, doing nothing about it. It is almost as though he did not actually care about WMD and went to Iraq for other reasons. The NYT writes Sunday
In the weeks after Baghdad fell in April 2003, looters systematically dismantled and removed tons of machinery from Saddam Hussein’s most important weapons installations, including some with high-precision equipment capable of making parts for nuclear arms, a senior Iraqi official said this week in the government’s first extensive comments on the looting.
The Iraqi official, Sami al-Araji, the deputy minister of industry, said . . . “They came in with the cranes and the lorries, and they depleted the whole sites,” Dr. Araji said. “They knew what they were doing; they knew what they want. This was sophisticated looting.” . . .
Dr. Araji said equipment capable of making parts for missiles as well as chemical, biological and nuclear arms was missing from 8 or 10 sites that were the heart of Iraq’s dormant program on unconventional weapons. After the invasion, occupation forces found no unconventional arms, and C.I.A. inspectors concluded that the effort had been largely abandoned after the Persian Gulf war in 1991.
. . . his account raises the possibility that the specialized machinery from the arms establishment that the war was aimed at neutralizing had made its way to the black market or was in the hands of foreign governments.
“Targeted looting of this kind of equipment has to be seen as a proliferation threat,” said Gary Milhollin, director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control . . . ‘
And the American people actually gave these people a second term!
Meanwhile, Ukraine really did begin its phased withdrawal from Iraq. Likewise, Poland is beginning its disengagement. Its departure would leave only the UK and Italy with any significant number of combat troops among the coalition. Spain, Norway, Thailand, Holland, and several Latin American countries have pulled out as well. The US is becoming increasingly isolated in facing the Iraq quagmire, as former allies (pulled in by false promises that they would only be doing light peace keeping) peel off.
Ash-Sharq al-Awsat reports that the clan members of the victims of the Mosul bombing, most of them Shiites, want to take revenge for the deaths of loved ones. Their clan elders, however, are attempting to calm them down, fearing the outbreak of civil war.
It also reports that the family of Ra’id Mansur al-Banna in Salt, Jordan, held a funeral for him at which they celebrated his “martyrdom.” Al-Banna was the suicide bomber who killed dozens of persons at a clinic in largely Shiite al-Hilla last week. The news of this celebration has enraged Iraqi Shiites. The depth of feeling on both sides is a good reminder that if violence should break out between Sunni and Shiite Iraqis, it would almost certainly involve neighboring countries.
Patrick Quinn of AP tells the truth about Baghdad, perhaps the world’s most dangerous city.
‘ By day or night, Baghdad has become a cacophony of automatic weapons fire, explosions and sudden death, its citizens living in constant fear of being shot by insurgents or the security forces meant to protect them. Streets are crammed with passenger cars fighting for space with armored vehicles and pickups loaded with hooded and heavily armed Iraqi soldiers. Hundreds of bombs in recent months have made mosques, public squares, sidewalks and even some central streets extremely dangerous places in Baghdad. On Haifa Street, rocket-propelled grenades sometimes fly through traffic. Rashid Street is a favorite for roadside bombers near the Tigris River. ‘
When Farnaz Fassihi of the Wall Street Journal admitted as much in a private email last October, she was forbidden to report from Iraq for two weeks. I guess Paul Gigot can’t dictate the news to the Associated Press. I’d wager most Americans have no idea how bad it is in Baghdad.