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12 Sept 2004 - MiddleEast.Org - MER is Free
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The Neocons are 'Fucking Crazies' Says Colin Powell himself

MER - Mid-East Realities - MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 12 Sept:

The U.S. policy in the Middle East is already a disaster of historical proportions.

Together with Israel the U.S. has set the region on fire - in recent times going back to the Iranian revolution, the U.S.-sponsored Iraqi invasion of Iran, the U.S.-sponsored Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and of course the U.S.-sponsored Israeli occupation and brutal subjugation of the Palestinians. Then there is Afghanistan, Chechnya, and we can throw into this mix what has happened in Algeria and the brutal police states the U.S. sponsors from Cairo to Amman to Riyadh and the Gulf. Plus of course the historical degredations of Abu Ghraib and the indelible pictures of torture and sexual humiliations which will define the American attitude toward Arab and Muslims, rightly or wrongly, for years into the future. The dirty fingerprints of the CIA and the Pentagon are all over everything in the Middle East now -- from one disaster to another.

In a new book being published in a few days no less an authority than U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell himself is quoted describing the top neo-conservatives in the Bush administration as 'fucking crazies' during the build-up to war in Iraq. (as usual details at MiddleEast.Org)

Today the U.S. is using battle tanks and helicopter gunships to attack crowds on the streets of Baghdad and in cities throughout Iraq. It is a miserable hate-creating tactic the Americans have learned it seems from the Israelis. In the short run they rule through overwhelming fire-power, brutal intimidation, incessant covert-operations and ever-more-expensive money bribes. In the longer run they create the fuel for their own vilification and another generation of resistance fighers more hate-filled and more determined than the last.

US fires missiles at Baghdad crowd

The casualties were all civilians, said an Iraqi journalist

Sunday 12 September 2004 5:37 AM GMT - Aljazeera: Up to 10 Iraqis have been killed and 35 others injured after US helicopters fired missiles at a crowd in a central Baghdad street.

The attack, which also killed a Palestinian journalist, follows fierce clashes which began when US military vehicles, firing stun grenades, entered Haifa street in the centre of the capital at about 2am (1100 GMT) on Sunday, an Iraqi journalist told Aljazeera.

A US armoured vehicle was set ablaze and as a group of Iraqi men gathered around the burning vehicle, US helicopters swooped in and fired machine guns and missiles at the crowd, killing
up to 10 Iraqis and injuring 35 others.

Twenty-eight year old Palestinian television journalist, Mazin al-Tumaisi, was also killed and two photographers wounded, when the US missiles struck.

Al-Tumaisi, who worked for Saudi television Akhbariya and as a fixer for the Arab satellite channel al-Arabiya, was killed covering the fighting in Haifa Street, said Al-Arabiya reporter Ahmad Salih.

An Iraqi cameraman working for Reuters and an Iraqi photographer working for Getty Images were also wounded slightly by flying shrapnel, said a source at the London-based news agency.

Several vehicles were also set ablaze and the sound of heavy machine gun fire reverberated for three hours from the vicinity.

US forces withdrew from the area at around 7.30am.


A US armoured vehicle was set
ablaze in the clashes

All the casualties were civilians, the journalist said, adding that bodies were left in the street for more than half an hour before an ambulance was able to remove them.

A number of residential buildings were also damaged and US helicopters have continued to hover over the area, opening fire repeatedly, the journalist added.
Meanwhile, more than a dozen explosions shook central Baghdad at dawn on Sunday and thick plumes of smoke rose above the Green Zone compound housing Iraq's interim government, the US embassy and other consulates.

Abu Ghraib blast

Outside Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, a car bomb exploded on Sunday morning, wounding at least three people, the Iraqi Health Ministry said.

In central Ramadi city, west of Baghdad, seven Iraqis were injured during clashes between US forces and unknown armed men on Sunday morning, Aljazeera has learnt.

Four Iraqi policemen have died
in an Amiriya car blast

The clashes coincided with a mortar bomb attack targeting a US military base west of the city.

Meanwhile, three Iraqi policemen were killed and four others injured after the driver of a vehicle the policemen were pursuing blew himself up.

The explosion took place on a road near the main highway in Amiriya, west of Baghdad.

<> An Iraqi journalist told Aljazeera Iraqi police explained that as the patrol approached the vehicle, the driver blew himself up.

Time to consider Iraq withdrawal

Financial T'imes - September 10 2004: This week a macabre milestone was passed in Iraq. More than 1,000 American soldiers have now been killed since the US-led invasion of the country began nearly 18 months ago. The overwhelming majority lost their lives after President George W. Bush declared major combat operations over in his now infamous "Mission Accomplished" photo-opportunity in May last year.

In that time, an unknown number of mostly civilian Iraqis, certainly not less than 10,000 and possibly three times that number, have perished, and hundreds more are dying each week. After an invasion and occupation that promised them freedom, Iraqis have seen their security evaporate, their state smashed and their country fragment into a lawless archipelago ruled by militias, bandits and kidnappers.

The transitional political process, designed to lead to constituent assembly and general elections next year, has been undermined because the nervous US-dominated occupation authority has insisted on hand-picking various permutations of interim Iraqi governors, mostly exiles or expatriates with no standing among their people. Whatever Iraqis thought about the Americans on their way in - and it was never what these emigré politicians told Washington they would be thinking - an overwhelming majority now views US forces as occupiers rather than liberators and wants them out.

The aftermath of a war won so quickly has been so utterly bungled, moreover, that the US is down to the last vestiges of its always exiguous allied support, at the time when Iraq needs every bit of help it can get. The occupation has lost control of big swathes of the country. Having decided that all those who lived and worked in Iraq under Saddam Hussein bore some degree of collective guilt, Washington's viceroys purged the country's armed forces, civil service and institutions to a degree that broke the back of the state, marginalised internal political forces, sidelined many with the skills to rebuild Iraq's services and utilities and, of course, fuelled an insurgency US forces have yet to identify accurately, let alone get to grips with.

There are signs that US officials are beginning to "get it" - in the phrase Donald Rumsfeld, US defence secretary, patronisingly used this week to characterise Iraqis' grasp of the security situation. But if they are increasingly aware that what they have created in Iraq is a disaster, they seem at a loss to know what to do about it.

The core question to be addressed is this: is the continuing presence of US military forces in Iraq part of the solution or part of the problem?

As occupying power, the US bears responsibility for Iraq under international law, and is duty-bound to try to leave it in better shape than it found it. But there is no sign of that happening.

The time has therefore come to consider whether a structured withdrawal of US and remaining allied troops, in tandem with a workable handover of security to Iraqi forces and a legitimate and inclusive political process, can chart a path out of the current chaos.

Faced with a withdrawal timetable, Iraqis who currently feel helpless will know that the opportunity to craft a better future lies in their hands.

Take security. Iraqi forces are being rebuilt to take over front-line tasks. This is slow work, but that is not the real problem. It is that those forces already trained cannot stand alongside a US military that daily rains thousands of tonnes of projectiles and high explosives on their compatriots. Each time there is a siege of Fallujah or Najaf, with the US using firepower that kills civilians by the hundred, these Iraqi forces melt away. Until eventual withdrawal, there would have to be a policy of military restraint, imposed above all on those US commanders who have operated without reference to their own superiors, let alone the notionally sovereign Iraqi government.

Politically, if next year's elections are to have any chance of reflecting the will of the Iraqi people, the process must be opened up. Last month's national conference or proto-assembly was monopolised by expatriate politicians aligned with the interim government of Iyad Allawi. The only way national coalitions can be woven from Iraq's religious and ethnic patchwork is by including the opposition to the occupation. That means negotiating with the insurgents, probably through religious leaders of the stature of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. It also means an amnesty, which should help Iraqi authorities acquire the legitimacy to crush jihadist and other hold-outs.

Ideally, the US would accompany withdrawal by stating it has no intention of establishing bases in Iraq, and instead wishes to facilitate regional security agreements. That would be more stabilising than the current policy of bullying neighbours such as Iran and Syria, whose borders with Iraq the US in any case cannot control.

None of this will be less than messy. But whether Mr Bush or John Kerry wins the upcoming election, the US will eventually have to do something like this. Chaos is a great risk, and occupiers through the ages have pointed to that risk as their reason for staying put. But chaos is already here, and the power that is in large part responsible for it must start preparing now to step aside and let the Iraqis try to emerge from it.

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