The Iraq War 2003
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April 29, 2003 Click for previous news NEW - Iraq Books Map of Iraq Baghdad Map Baghdad Street Map
These pages (including the back links) are a
chronicle of the war until its end. This section is no longer updated regularly, but from time to time we do put
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| .as the image of the Iraqi leader tumbled to the ground the
decades of pain and anger welled up and the crowd surged forward to jump on the statue to smash it to pieces. It is a
true expression of their anger at over 25 years of rule, they are seeking to vent their anger at the government and joy
that it has now fallen.
This is an historic moment and it took place in front of ordinary Iraqi people, US marines and the gathered media of the world. - Rageh Omaar - BBC April 9, 2003
The Coalition's Scorpion
The Director of Policy Planning at the U.S. State Department, Richard Haass, admitted that he was unable at this stage to imagine a post-Saddam Iraqi state. This represents the height of humility, which can only be compared to the American inability to understand the societies of the region and their ideologies. In order to keep entertaining television watchers, he said, "I guess Iraq will not follow the model of the American Congress, nor the British system. It might not be entirely secular, but it might not be entirely religious either."
The reality of Iraq today is a long shot from being entertaining or exciting, especially since the administrator Paul Bremer, reflecting his administration's loss in Washington, does not know what he wants of and for the country, except to tighten the coalition's control over the land and oil. The only new thing that Haass said was that he admitted that several years would be needed to establish democracy in Iraq. By saying this, he unveiled the reality of the promises that President Bush made to his people to win their support in his decision of waging war against Iraq, and to the Iraqi people so that they wouldn't defend Saddam Hussein during the war.
Today, after several weeks of occupation, the situation of the coalition does not fare any better from that of the Iraqis who are suffering humiliation at the hands of those who came to liberate them from the oppressive regime of Saddam. It is obvious that there is no question of a new liberation battle now, even if the daily attacks on the American troops represent a problem for the coalition, which even thought it could reduce the number of troops only one month after toppling Saddam.
This is the new vicious circle that the invader troops have locked themselves in, and which was heightened by Bremer's failing to address the political forces in the country since he sought to minimize the opposition and reinforce the tribes' power, as if they were a school for democracy. He supposed that a decision to dissolve the Iraqi army and raise the banner of uprooting the Baathists would be enough to pave the way for his ambitions and push everyone - politicians, clergy and tribe leaders - to be reassured about the post-invasion project.
Theoretically, it was obvious that the resistance operations would increase, after the awakening of April 9, when Saddam's statue was toppled - an image that will never erase from minds of the Iraqi people all the dark suffering they went through. Every time the American soldiers will behave like cowboys and tighten their grip over civilians, the problem will get even worse. They can no longer convince anyone of the legitimacy of their actions just because they are following Baathists and groups of the former regime. For everyone knows that these groups in a country that was ruled by oppression might represent millions of people. Could the coalition eliminate them under the pretext of 'cleansing' campaigns?
The 'cleansing' of the school programs from Saddam's pictures and Baath party slogans is a much easier task. Neither the coalition nor Bremer, who is fond of putting big titles to his projects, understands that the most complex thing is being convinced that the Iraqis will not prefer occupation to persecution and oppression. The Baath party is still able, although it is dissolved, to bother the Americans, no matter what they did to the "desert's scorpion," and no matter how much the number of its partisans decreased... simply because they consider any attack on them or trap coming from the Baath party. The top administrator admitted that he had made a mistake; but it is too late if he wants to gain popularity among those who suffered the former regime's oppression and are now facing the coalition.
Furthermore, the scandal of President Bush and Premier Tony Blair who claimed the presence of weapons of mass destruction has raised general doubts over the occupation forces' intentions. Inventing an alibi for the war gives millions of people in the liberated country of Saddam added reason or incentive to refuse any formula suggested by Washington as a political map for their country.
While awaiting this map, which might be postponed to the next fall with the provisional administration, "the desert's scorpion" or anyone else will not be able to pretend to eliminate the resistance, Islamic or Baathist, for the victims of the occupation are the victims of the former regime and they don't have much to lose.
The occupation is neither needed nor desired, especially in Iraq where Bremer has fallen into the trap of the governor's ambitions and has minimized the roles and forces that can only watch the fate of the "desert's scorpion" hoping it will speed the departure of the occupation or at least establish an Iraqi rule that enjoys the citizens' support, thereby turning the coalition into a simple security tool.
Could this be just a figment of the imagination? The answer lies in the possibility of seeing the weapons scandal spreading.
ILos Angeles Times
April 15, 2003
Mr. Eason Jordan's admission that CNN had to suppress the news from Baghdad in order to report it brought back memories for me.
In January 1993, I was in Baghdad as a reporter for CNN on a probationary, three-month contract. Previously, I had been a war reporter for CBS News in Vietnam and East Asia and in Central America for ABC News. I had also made three trips to Baghdad for ABC News before the Gulf War.
Now, Bill Clinton was about to be inaugurated and there was speculation that Saddam Hussein might "test" the new American president. Would the new administration be willing to enforce the "no-fly" zones set up in northern and southern Iraq after the Gulf War?
CNN had made its reputation during the war with its exclusive reports from Baghdad. Shortly after my arrival, I was surprised to see CNN President Tom Johnson and Eason Jordan, then chief of international news gathering, stride into the al-Rasheed Hotel in Baghdad. They were there to help CNN bid for an exclusive interview with Saddam Hussein, timed to coincide with the coming inauguration of President Clinton.
I took part in meetings between the CNN executives and various officials purported to be close to Saddam. We met with his personal translator; with a foreign affairs adviser; with Information Minister Latif Jassim; and with Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.
In each of these meetings, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Jordan made their pitch: Saddam Hussein would have an hour's time on CNN's worldwide network; there would be no interruptions, no commercials. I was astonished. From both the tone and the content of these conversations, it seemed to me that CNN was virtually groveling for the interview.
The day after one such meeting, I was on the roof of the Ministry of Information, preparing for my first "live shot" on CNN. A producer came up and handed me a sheet of paper with handwritten notes. "Tom Johnson wants you to read this on camera," he said. I glanced at the paper. It was an item-by-item summary of points made by Information Minister Latif Jassim in an interview that morning with Mr. Johnson and Mr. Jordan.
The list was so long that there was no time during the live shot to provide context. I read the information minister's points verbatim. Moments later, I was downstairs in the newsroom on the first floor of the Information Ministry. Mr. Johnson approached, having seen my performance on a TV monitor. "You were a bit flat there, Peter," he said. Again, I was astonished. The president of CNN was telling me I seemed less-than-enthusiastic reading Saddam Hussein's propaganda.
The next day, I was CNN's reporter on a trip organized by the Ministry of Information to the northern city of Mosul. "Minders" from the ministry accompanied two busloads of news people to an open, plowed field outside Mosul. The purpose was to show us that American warplanes were bombing "innocent Iraqi farmers." Bits of American ordinance were scattered on the field. One large piece was marked "CBU." I recognized it as the canister for a Cluster Bomb Unit, a weapon effective against troops in the open, or against "thin-skinned" armor. I was puzzled. Why would U.S. aircraft launch CBUs against what appeared to be an open field? Was it really to kill "innocent Iraqi farmers?" The minders showed us no victims, no witnesses. I looked around. About 2000 yards distant on a ridgeline, two radar dishes were just visible against the sky. The ground was freshly plowed. Now, I understood. The radars were probably linked to Soviet-made SA-6 surface-to-air missiles mounted on tracks, armored vehicles, parked in the field at some distance from the dishes to keep them safe. After the bombing, the Iraqis had removed the missile launchers and had plowed the field to cover the tracks.
On the way back to Baghdad, I explained to other reporters what I thought had happened, and wrote a report that was broadcast on CNN that night.
The next day, Brent Sadler, CNN's chief reporter at the time in Baghdad (he is now in northern Iraq), came up to me in a hallway of the al Rasheed Hotel. He had been pushing for the interview with Saddam and had urged Mr. Johnson and Mr. Jordan to come to Baghdad to help seal the deal. "Petah," he said to me in his English accent, "you know we're trying to get an interview with Saddam. That piece last night was not helpful."
So, we were supposed to shade the news to get an interview with Saddam?
As it happens, CNN never did get that interview. A few months later, I had passed my probationary period and was contemplating my future with CNN. I thought long and hard; could I be comfortable with a news organization that played those kinds of games? I decided, no, I could not, and resigned.
In my brief acquaintance with Mr. Jordan at CNN, I formed the impression of a decent man, someone with a conscience. On the day Mr. Jordan published his piece in the New York Times, a panel on Fox News was discussing his astonishing admissions. Brit Hume wondered, "Why would he ever write such a thing?" Another panelist suggested, "Perhaps his conscience is bothering him." Mr. Eason, it should be.
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CIA Report on Iraq WMD Capabilities - October 2002
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SIPRI Iraq-UNSCOM fact Sheet
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Permanent mission to the UN - Site which harnesses information from a wide range of sources - including a statement by Tony Benn - to support the Iraqi government line.
Iraq's WMD Capabilities - Detailed technical information on missiles, chemical and biological agents at global security Web site.
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