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Facade of Iraqi 'Sovereignty" crumbling

Fraudulent Iraqi 'Sovereignty' exposed as
threats, resignations, killings, chaos escalate

Mid-East Realities - MER - www.MiddleEast.Org - 13 August 2004: The events are so fast-paced these days. One day pro-consul Paul Bremer limps and slinks out of Baghdad after a secret 'ceremony' to appoint long-time U.S. collaborators to be 'interim' Prime Minister, President, etc. of occupied 'sovereign' Iraq. Another day the appointees throw out of the country the largest Arab television network, Aljazeera, stepping up still further their threats and intimidation of everyone who won't comply with their dictates. Then CIA-guy, now 'interim Prime Minister', Iyad Allawi indicts one of his competitors, himself another fraudulent tough-guy type who Americans saw not long ago waving to them as he sat with the President's wife at the State of the Union speech. And soon thereafter the American army with all of its high-tech firepower is sent to attack another of Allawi's competitors, this one hold up in Najaf in the Imam Ali Mosque.

Reports from Iraq this morning indicate that Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr may have been injured today while meeting with supporters, and what's to happen next has everyone on edge as rarely before. Other reports from Iraq are of a wave of protest resignations against the American occupation and puppet government, with increased threats against the U.S. and its regime now coming in public even from other Iraqi officials approved by the Americans.

These three articles help put the whole situation in clearer focus, a major task these days.

Najaf officials quit in protest

Scores of Iraqi civilians have been killed in US attacks on cities

- Several Iraqi officials working within the interim government have resigned in protest of the US-led assault on Najaf and Kut.

Sixteen of Najaf's 30-member provincial council resigned in protest at the US-led assault on the Najaf as fighting between the al-Mahdi Army loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr and US occupation forces entered its eighth day.

"We have decided to resign due to what has befallen Najaf and all of Iraq from the hasty US invasion and bombardment of Najaf," the council said in a statement to the press.

The council's resignations came several hours after the deputy governor of Najaf resigned in protest against the US offensive on the city.

"I resign from my post denouncing all the US terrorist operations that they are doing against this holy city," Jawdat Kadam Najim al-Kuraishi, deputy governor of Najaf, said on Thursday morning.

On Thursday evening, the director of tribal affairs at the Iraqi Interior ministry announced his resignation through Aljazeera and said he could no longer work with the interim government in good faith given the "carnage and barbaric aggression of the US-led forces in Najaf".

"I am a part of this nation, I am a part of these people. My fellow tribesmen are now fighting in Najaf and Sadr city," said Major-General Marid Abd al-Hasan.

Meanwhile, Basra's deputy governor for administrative affairs, Hajj Salam Awdeh al-Maliky, warned that he may openly join al-Sadr's fight if his offer to send 1000 Iraqi police, special security and national guardsmen to Najaf is refused by the interim government of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

Some national guardsmen in Basra had even said they would not hesitate to join al-Sadr's militia if al-Maliky's offer was rejected.

Al-Maliky had warned that Basra would turn into a battlefield if

US occupation forces stormed the inner sanctum of Najaf.

"Basra will become another Najaf," he said.

Can't Blair see that this country is about to explode? Can't Bush?

By Robert Fisk in Baghdad

The Independent on Sunday (UK) - August 1, 2004 :
The war is a fraud. I'm not talking about the weapons
of mass destruction that didn't exist. Nor the links
between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida which didn't exist.
Nor all the other lies upon which we went to war. I'm
talking about the new lies.

For just as, before the war, our governments warned us
of threats that did not exist, now they hide from us
the threats that do exist. Much of Iraq has fallen
outside the control of America's puppet government in
Baghdad but we are not told. Hundreds of attacks are
made against US troops every month. But unless an
American dies, we are not told. This month's death toll
of Iraqis in Baghdad alone has now reached 700 - the
worst month since the invasion ended. But we are not told.

The stage management of this catastrophe in Iraq was
all too evident at Saddam Hussein's "trial." Not only
did the US military censor the tapes of the event. Not
only did they effectively delete all sound of the 11
other defendants. But the Americans led Saddam Hussein
to believe - until he reached the courtroom - that he
was on his way to his execution. Indeed, when he
entered the room he believed that the judge was there
to condemn him to death. This, after all, was the way
Saddam ran his own state security courts. No wonder he
initially looked "disorientated" - CNNs helpful
description - because, of course, he was meant to look
that way. We had made sure of that. Which is why Saddam
asked Judge Juhi: "Are you a lawyer? ..Is this a
trial?" And swiftly, as he realised that this really
was an initial court hearing - not a preliminary to his
own hanging - he quickly adopted an attitude of

But don't think were going to learn much more about
Saddam's future court appearances. Salem Chalabi, the
brother of convicted fraudster Ahmad and the man
entrusted by the Americans with the tribunal, told the
Iraqi press two weeks ago that all media would be
excluded from future court hearings. And I can see why.
Because if Saddam does a Milosevic, he'll want to talk
about the real intelligence and military connections of
his regime - which were primarily with the United

Living in Iraq these past few weeks is a weird as well
as dangerous experience. I drive down to Najaf. Highway
8 is one of the worst in Iraq. Westerners are murdered
there. It is littered with burnt-out police vehicles
and American trucks. Every police post for 70 miles has
been abandoned. Yet a few hours later, I am sitting in
my room in Baghdad watching Tony Blair, grinning in the
House of Commons as if he is the hero of a school
debating competition; so much for the Butler report.

Indeed, watching any Western television station in
Baghdad these days is like tuning in to Planet Mars.
Doesn't Blair realise that Iraq is about to implode?
Doesn't Bush realise this? The American-appointed
"government" controls only parts of Baghdad - and even
there its ministers and civil servants are car-bombed
and assassinated. Baquba, Samara, Kut, Mahmoudiya,
Hilla, Fallujah, Ramadi, all are outside government
authority. Iyad Allawi, the "Prime Minister," is little
more than mayor of Baghdad. "Some journalists," Blair
announces, "almost want there to be a disaster in
Iraq." He doesn't get it. The disaster exists now.

When suicide bombers ram their cars into hundreds of
recruits outside police stations, how on earth can
anyone hold an election next January? Even the National
Conference to appoint those who will arrange elections
has been twice postponed. And looking back through my
notebooks over the past five weeks, I find that not a
single Iraqi, not a single American soldier I have
spoken to, not a single mercenary - be he American,
British or South African - believes that there will be
elections in January. All said that Iraq is
deteriorating by the day. And most asked why we
journalists weren't saying so.

But in Baghdad, I turn on my television and watch Bush
telling his Republican supporters that Iraq is
improving, that Iraqis support the "coalition," that
they support their new US-manufactured government, that
the "war on terror" is being won, that Americans are
safer. Then I go to an internet site and watch two
hooded men hacking off the head of an American in
Riyadh, tearing at the vertebrae of an American in Iraq
with a knife. Each day, the papers here list another
construction company pulling out of the country. And I
go down to visit the friendly, tragically sad staff of
the Baghdad mortuary and there, each day, are dozens of
those Iraqis we supposedly came to liberate, screaming
and weeping and cursing as they carry their loved ones
on their shoulders in cheap coffins.

I keep re-reading Tony Blair's statement. "I remain
convinced it was right to go to war. It was the most
difficult decision of my life." And I cannot understand
it. It may be a terrible decision to go to war. Even
Chamberlain thought that; but he didn't find it a
difficult decision - because, after the Nazi invasion
of Poland, it was the right thing to do. And driving
the streets of Baghdad now, watching the terrified
American patrols, hearing yet another thunderous
explosion shaking my windows and doors after dawn, I
realise what all this means. Going to war in Iraq,
invading Iraq last year, was the most difficult
decision Blair had to take because he thought -
correctly - that it might be the wrong decision. I will
always remember his remark to British troops in Basra,
that the sacrifice of British soldiers was not
Hollywood but "real flesh and blood." Yes, it was real
flesh and blood that was shed - but for weapons of mass
destruction that weren't real at all.

"Deadly force is authorised," it says on checkpoints
all over Baghdad. Authorised by whom? There is no
accountability. Repeatedly, on the great highways out
of the city US soldiers shriek at motorists and open
fire at the least suspicion. "We had some Navy Seals
down at our checkpoint the other day," a 1st Cavalry
sergeant says to me. "They asked if we were having any
trouble. I said, yes, they've been shooting at us from
a house over there. One of them asked: That house? We
said yes. So they have these three SUVs and a lot of
weapons made of titanium and they drive off towards the
house. And later they come back and say 'We've taken
care of that.' And we didn't get shot at any more."

What does this mean? The Americans are now bragging
about their siege of Najaf. Lieutenant Colonel Garry
Bishop of the 37th Armoured Divisions 1st Battalion
believes it was an "ideal" battle (even though he
failed to kill or capture Muqtada Sadr whose "Mehdi
army" were fighting the US forces). It was "ideal,"
Bishop explained, because the Americans avoided
damaging the holy shrines of the Imams Ali and Hussein.
What are Iraqis to make of this? What if a Muslim army
occupied Kent and bombarded Canterbury and then bragged
that they hadnt damaged Canterbury Cathedral? Would we
be grateful?

What, indeed, are we to make of a war which is turned
into a fantasy by those who started it? As foreign
workers pour out of Iraq for fear of their lives, US
Secretary of State Colin Powell tells a press
conference that hostage-taking is having an "effect" on
reconstruction. Effect! Oil pipeline explosions are now
as regular as power cuts. In parts of Baghdad now, they
have only four hours of electricity a day; the streets
swarm with foreign mercenaries, guns poking from
windows, shouting abusively at Iraqis who don't clear
the way for them. This is the "safer" Iraq which Mr
Blair was boasting of the other day. What world does
the British Government exist in?

Take the Saddam trial. The entire Arab press -
including the Baghdad papers - prints the judge's name.
Indeed, the same judge has given interviews about
his charges of murder against Muqtada Sadr. He has
posed for newspaper pictures. But when I mention his
name in The Independent, I was solemnly censured by the
British Government's spokesman. Salem Chalabi
threatened to prosecute me. So let me get this right.
We illegally invade Iraq. We kill up to 11,000 Iraqis.
And Mr Chalabi, appointed by the Americans, says I'm
guilty of "incitement to murder." That just about says
it all.

Iraq's sovereignty called into question
by Ahmed Janabi

US military presence remained the same after 28 June 2004

Aljazeera, 11 August 2004: The nature of the relationship between the interim Iraqi government and the US army in Iraq is deeply controversial. Some see it as cooperation, others label it collaboration.

Ordinary Iraqis, who have been suffering for decades due to the consequences of wars and UN sanctions, were more than willing to give Allawi's US-appointed government a chance to restore stability and end military occupation.

The phrase "handing over sovereignty to Iraqis" had gained much support before the interim Iraqi government took office on 28 June 2004, with a sizeable segment of the Iraqi population looking forward to a new life.

However, given the fact that the US forces' military operations in Iraq have not substantially changed since the "handover of sovereignty", many Iraqis have again raised the vital question: Has sovereignty really been restored and the occupation ended? Or were Iraqis misled?

We look to the day
when Iraqi people are able to handle their issues themselves and we can go back home"

Corporal Major TV Johnson,
First Marine Division spokesman

On the ground, US military deployment has not changed; the number of foreign troops is increasing and recent statements by US officials - since the so-called handover of authority on 28 June - that the US military is staying in Iraq for years to come, have led citizens to doubt whether a new life is on the horizon.

Illegal process

Iraqis opposed to the presence of foreign troops in the country argue that Iraqi sovereignty as of now is non-existent.

Salah al-Mukhtar, a former Iraqi ambassador to India, says the whole process of Iraqi sovereignty is void according to the UN charter.

"The UN charter is based on sovereignty; member states are sovereign countries and, according to that, it is illegal that an occupying force enjoys the right to steal the sovereignty of a country and return it back according to a UN resolution.

"Therefore, any UN resolution granting sovereignty to Iraq is unlawful, because that means the UN is acknowledging the occupation," he adds.

Iraqi government officials' regular statements that Iraq has become a sovereign state and that occupation has gone do not go down well with some in the country.

A spokesman for the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMS), Muhammad Ayash al-Kubaisi, cited the recent arrest of the editor-in-chief of the association's mouthpiece newspaper al-Basaer (Insight) as an example of "absent" sovereignty.

"How can a group of foreign soldiers stop an Iraqi citizen like Dr Muthana al-Dhari and arrest him if there is a sovereign government? What are those soldiers doing in the heart of Baghdad? Why did the Iraqi police not arrest him instead?" al-Kubaisi said.

"Moreover, after two days of interrogations, they handed al-Dhari over to the Iraqi police, as if they are saying to them we are finished with him, take him if you like now."

Iraqi detainees

The status of Iraqi detainees, who are held without charge by the US army in Iraq, has not changed since the handover of responsibilities.

"US occupation forces are still enjoying the right of establishing prisons and the searching of houses," al-Mukhtar said.

Al-Mukhtar says the interim Iraq
government is remote controlled

Al-Kubaisi said that last week US forces released two of his friends from prison, after months of detention, without charge.

"Jamal and Kamal Shakir spent months in prison without charges, and they were released without being told why they were being released.

"I talked to them; they do not know why they were arrested in the first place, and prison officials were unable to tell them anything about the motives which led to their arrest and subsequent release," he said.

Less intimidation

Aljazeera.net spoke to Corporal Major TV Johnson, spokesman for the First Marine Division in Anbar governorate in Iraq, who insists that US-led forces in Iraq coordinate everything with the Iraqi Government.

The continued presence of US
forces troubles many Iraqis

But he says US troops cannot afford to let the new Iraqi police operate alone at present.

"Iraqi police are still in need of more personnel and equipment, and the situation right now means it will continue to need the help of the multinational forces," he said.

Johnson blames the attacks on police stations for the slowness in the development of an Iraqi police force, saying they make young men and women less keen to join the police.

He says the US-led forces in Iraq coordinate with Iraqi authorities when it comes to the arrest of those he describes as "bad actors" or when they need to search an Iraqi area or house, but sees a day when US forces will not be there.

"We look to the day when Iraqi people are able to handle their issues themselves and we can go back home," he said.

Decisions of sovereignty

Salah al-Mukhtar described the relationship between US officials and the interim Iraqi government as remote-controlled.

"The US-installed Iraqi president, Ghazi al-Yawir, announced last month that there would be a pardon for those Iraqis who carried guns before the formation of Iyad Allawi.

"But the US ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte, sent him the instructions through the media, when he said those who killed Americans would not be pardoned.

"The following day all Iraqi officials announced in their media statements that the planned pardon would not include those who killed Americans in Iraq. Where is the sovereignty?"

The interim Iraqi government offered a limited amnesty on 7 August 2004 pardoning those Iraqis who have committed minor crimes, and excluded those who have killed US soldiers and Iraqi police.

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