Saddam to present UN with suicide note

Just what is Saddam’s game? The Independent in London is reporting that the final document Iraq will present to the United Nations on Saturday (Someone’s brown-nosing by turning in homework early!) will declare that the country is “devoid of weapons of mass destruction.” … Oh, boy.

Sigh. Just what is Saddam’s game? The Independent in London is reporting that the final document Iraq will present to the United Nations on Saturday (Someone’s brown-nosing by turning in homework early!) will declare that the country is “devoid of weapons of mass destruction.”
Oh, boy.
Iraq promises to deliver a 7,000-page document describing the state of the country’s biological, chemical, missile and nuclear technologies in both Arabic and English. All the technologies, it claims, are kosher by U.N. standards.
OK. Show of hands. Who believes this? I don’t. And I’m still puzzled by the alleged assertion by the Iraqi official who said the country would protect itself with weapons of mass destruction.
What are they thinking? Has Saddam really entered a suicidal phase? If he thinks the French and the Russians will rein in the United States this time, he’s sorely mistaken. Is he hoping to provoke an armageddon on the banks of the Tigris so he can attempt to lob some chems into Israel? Has he decided, fatalistically, that the United States will attack no matter what so he may as well get the show started?
I’m honestly befuddled by this assertion that Iraq has nothing to declare. This can only lead to trouble, since Saddam must feel he has one or two tricks left to pull out of his hat.
Al this is taking place in an environment of mutual suspicion. An Iraqi vice president accused the inspectors of being spies for the United States and Israel, a not unrealistic charge as the U.S. did exactly that from 1991-1998. And George W. Bush continued to say the weapons inspections were not working. (He says this after a week of work.)
“One of my concerns is that in the past he has shot at our airplanes,” Bush said. “Anybody who shoots at U.S. airplanes or British airplanes is not somebody who looks like he’s interested in complying with disarmament.”
(It should be noted that the no-fly zones aren’t sanctioned by the United Nations and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the targeting and firing by Iraqi anti-aircraft positions aren’t material breaches of UNSCR 1441. That must piss off Bush.
(And in a further sign of the fragmented Bush policy, Secretary of State Colin Powell described the inspections as “off to a good start” and “working as intended.” Guess he didn’t get the memo.)
Well, when — or if, I suppose I should say although I think a war is inevitable — the bombs start falling, at least journalists will be on the ground. (Which might be the Pentagon’s plan all along. Hmm.) Actually, this is just part of the propaganda effort by the brass in the Pentagon to get some Ernie Pyle-like coverage of individual heroism from the front lines. I’m convinced the only stories that get past the military censors will be those that talk up the bravery of “our boys.” But perhaps I’m just cynical. Perhaps the military really is interested in getting honest stories out about combat and the war, stories that show the military in action, warts and all.
Right. And the Bush White House will suddenly drop its obessions with secrecy and controlling the message that have marked its dealings with the press since the start of Bush’s presidential campaign.
(By the way, I’ve applied for the military bootcamp at Fort Benning, but I’ve not heard back from the Army yet.)

Addendum to Iraqi use of WMD

More thoughts on the Iraqi’s possession of WMD.

Previously, I metioned a report from MEMRI that quoted an “unidentified senior Iraqi official” as saying that Iraq would use chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction to repel the Yankee invaders. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this at the time, but hasn’t Iraq told the UNMOVIC folks it has zero, zero, zero WMD? Granted, this story is out of Al-Quds Al-Arabi, a London-based, pro-Saddam Arabic language paper, but still… This is very weird.
In related news, U.S. president George W. Bush warned Iraq again that it was in danger of being shitcanned if it didn’t cooperate with UNMOVIC. The signs from Iraq are “not encouraging,” Bush said. The signs? Cameras and gear tagged by inspectors in 1998 have been removed from the Karamah misslile site. This might be serious or it might indicate that desperate Iraqi soldiers had stripped the gear and sold it for extra money.
But Bush’s war mongering is more upsetting. The inspectors have been there, what? A week? Five days? And the deadline for accounting for all weapons isn’t until Dec. 8. Bush says he wants an international coalition to disarm Saddam, but he seems a twee impatient to get the shooting started now, Now, NOW. His constant warnings are unlikely to convince anyone except Britain, and his insistent sabre-rattling and undercutting of the inspectors will do little but convince the rest of the world of America’s bad intentions. Bush needs to shut the hell up and let the inspectors at least pretend to do their jobs.

Al Qa’ida group threatens Iraqi Kurdistan

Bush threatens Saddam (again), Turky threatens to move into Iraqi Kurdistan (again) and Russia threatened by financial meltdown (again.)

PUK peshmergas.JPG
Peshmergas at their posts in July (© 2002 Christopher Allbritton)

Mulla Sdeeq.JPG The Christian Science Monitor has a terrific article on the troubles that Ansar al-Islam is giving to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan on the Shinirwe Front, on the border between Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran. While I was there in July, I interviewed Mullah Sdeek (left), deputy chairman of the Islamic Movement, which controls one of the territories abutting ‘s. “We have been working as a mediator between [] and the government to try to change their idea and to convince them to come down to the negotiating table,” Sdeek said at the time. Well, that hasn’t been working. Since the recent capture of ‘s leader, Mullah Krekar, in the Netherlands after his dismissal from Tehran, the group has threatened to capture foreigners such as U.N. and human rights workers as bargaining chips to win the release of Krekar. Note: This group bargains hard; it beheaded 42 PUK peshmergas it captured in October of last year and made all the inhabitants — including the children — of the small village of Kheli Hama watch. (By the way, an Iraqi Kurd was arrested in Kabul for plotting to kill the Afghan president and defense minister. This is likely the work of Ansar al-Islam, so these guys aren’t sitting around.)
The full interview with Mullah Sdeek can be read here.


Map courtesy of the Christian Science Monitor

From the Dept. of Hypocrisy:

So let me get this straight: After a congressional inquiry looks into whether the FBI and CIA are to be faulted for not following leads of a possible money trail between the Saudi government and two of the 9/11 hijackers, the Bush administration cautions against jumping to conclusions. But when it comes to going to war in Iraq and killing lots of people, based on a lot of “might possess”, “could use” or “possibly hand over to terrorists” various forms of weapons of mass destruction, we’re supposed to just, I don’t know, take Bush’s word for it?

Continue reading “Al Qa’ida group threatens Iraqi Kurdistan”

No-fly zones attacks not a material breach

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said yesterday that Iraqi firing on allied planes patrolling the no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq was not a violation of UNSCR 1441, no matter what the United States may say.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said yesterday that Iraqi firing on allied planes patrolling the no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq was not a violation of UNSCR 1441, no matter what the United States may say.
“The United States believes that firing upon our aircraft in the no-fly zone, or British aircraft, is a violation — it is a material breach,” said Scott McClellan, a spokesman for the White House.
Ah, no, said Annan. “Let me say that I don’t think that the Council will say this is in contravention of the resolution of the Security Council.” The Russians agreed with Annan: “Recent claims that Iraq’s actions in the ‘no-fly’ zones can be seen as a violation of the U.N. Security Council resolution 1441, have no legal grounds,” the Russian foreign ministry said.
UNSCR 1441’s eighth paragraph says, “Iraq should not take or threaten hostile acts directed against any representative or personnel of the United Nations or of any member state taking action to uphold any Council resolution.”
The problem with this wording is that there is no Council resolution explicitly setting up the no-fly zones. They were established in 1991 after the Gulf War by the United States, France and the United Kingdom to protect the Kurds and Shi’ite minorities from Saddam’s murderous reprisals after the Gulf War. (France pulled out after 1998’s Desert Fox operation.) I did a search on the legality of the zones and found that the United States usually cites UNSCR 688 in defending the zones. But there’s nothing in the resolution authorizing their set-up. At best, their continued existence is a mark of implicit approval by the Council. Another view, which I’ve come to hold, is that the Council has recognized that there’s not a lot it can do about them anyway and U.K. and U.S. vetoes keep Russia and France from introducing resolutions to end them.
That’s not to say I don’t think they should be there. I was quite happy to have allied war planes high above me when I was in the country, otherwise the Kurds would never have achieved the levels of autonomy they have. Still, they’re a pretty flimsy excuse to try to declare Iraq in material breach, and thankfully the United Nations sees through that ruse.
Of course, now it just means there is more time to move troops and armor into the region.

Much news and catching up… (LONG POST)

Hi all. Sorry for the delay in posting. Not only have we seemed to enter a “phony war” period regarding impending hostilities with Iraq without anything definite happening, but I also needed to take a little break. Be that as it may, there have been some interesting stories to show in the last few days.

Hi all. Sorry for the delay in posting. Not only have we seemed to enter a “phony war” period regarding impending hostilities with Iraq without anything definite happening, but I also needed to take a little break.
Be that as it may, there have been some interesting stories show up in the last few days. First off, United Nations weapons inspectors have gone … back to Iraq. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) Hans Blix, the chief of the inspectors, holds the fate of Iraq in his hands and he has said he will asses the intent of any delays on the part of the Iraqis as to whether foot-dragging is obfuscation or simple foul-ups. Considering that much of my time in Iraq was characterized by hurrying up and waiting — and I was in friendly territory! — I wonder if the, ah, “flexible” concept of time in societies other than northern European ones will be taken into account. Blix is Swedish after all; I hear they frown on tardiness. At any rate, Iraq has until Dec. 8 to present UNMOVIC with a full accounting of its weapons of mass destruction programs or it will be in “material breach” of UNSCR 1441. We’ll see what happens. (P.S. When the Iraqis fire on Allied aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones in the south and the north, does that constitute a “material breach”? Some in the Bush administration want it to be so. Please note, Operations Northern Watch and Southern Watch have never been sanctioned by the UN and Iraq has never accepted them.)

Continue reading “Much news and catching up… (LONG POST)”