Bush’s Iraq Incubator of Terror
Syria Deploys 7,000 to Block Infiltrators
The New York Times reports that the CIA is growing increasingly alarmed about Bush’s Iraq as an incubator of terrorists, and the probability that at some point they will target the US at home.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat/ AFP: Demonstrators in Baghdad from the center and south of Iraq demanded Tuesday that Coalition troops leave their country. They are considering staging a two-day sit-in at Firdaws Square at the center of the capital. Their spokesman, Mustafa Shabar, said, “The demonstrators represent their provinces, since it is not possible to call all the notables and elite to this place.” He added, “the object of this demonstration and the sit-in afterwards is to project the voice of Iraq, which demands that the occupation forces depart from our country.” Hashem Mahdi of Amara, 70, said that the clans of his region had elected him to represent them at the demonstration. He said Iraqis could defend themselves. One of the demonstrators quoted, Hadi Ismail, 33, was a Kurd from Diyala, who complained that the government wanted US troops to remain.
Syria has deployed 7,000 troops along its border with Iraq to forestall its territory being used as for transit to Iraq by radical jihadi volunteers. The Baath government of Syria is dominated by esoteric Alawite Shiites. Both their minority, Shiite background and Baath secularism lead the Syrian elite to be extremely alarmed at the rise of radical Sunnism in Iraq, fearful that it could blow back on Damascus. In 1982, the Syrian regime killed 10,000 persons in Hama, claiming that they were radical Sunnis bent on overthrowing the regime and instituting a theocracy. The London Times explains the attractions of the Syrian route for the jihadis.
Police in Manchester, UK, arrested a North African man of French nationality on evidence they found in Iraq. His flat mate had been killed fighting US troops in February. North African radical Muslims have increasingly been drawn to volunteer to fight in Iraq. With the victory of the secular government in Algeria, and the effective semi-police states in Morocco and Tunisia, the radicals have little room for maneuver at home, making the possibility of fighting in Iraq attractive to them. One US general estimated that 25 percent of North African militants have left their home bases to go fight in Iraq. It is not clear to me what population he is thinking of. The Armed Islamic Group in Algeria? If it is the GIA, this statistic could make sense. See above, concerning Manchester.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports that the emergency room physicians of Basra have announced a one-week strike to protest their treatment by Iraqi troops, who had beaten them up after bringing in a wounded soldier.
Meanwhile, unemployment may hover around 50 percent in reality in Iraq, and for many Iraqis it is scarier than the staccato of bombings and sniping.
Then there is that epidemic of corruption.
On that score, the US, with its often corrupt contractors and carpet baggers, is not in a position to lecture the Iraqis. About $100 million is missing from just one south-central project, drawing the interest of the US attorney general for the eastern district of Virginia.
The Iraqi minister of justice criticized the US for limiting Iraqi government access to Saddam Hussein. He suspects that there are things that the US does not want Saddam to spill the beans about. He said, “it seems there are lots of secrets they want to hide”. Donald Rumsfeld was sent to Iraq in 1984 to reassure Saddam that State Department condemnations of him for using chemical weapons were pro forma and that the US nevertheless wanted an alliance with him against Iran.
Lt. General John Vines is hoping that the US will be able to send home from Iraq one division (about 20,000 men) in spring of 2006, if the Iraqis are able to hold successful elections in December of 2005. He is assuming that the permanent parliament will have more legitimacy and that it will help wind down the guerrilla war. He warned that everything would depend on the conditions on the ground. So far, it must be noted, no political process or event has had the slightest impact on the guerrilla movement. And, the prospect of there still being 118,000 US troops in Iraq next year this time isn’t exactly call for uncorking the good champagne.