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The Iraq War 2003
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April 29, 2003   Click for more news  NEW - Iraq Books Map of Iraq  Baghdad Map  Baghdad Street Map


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These pages include current news and opinion and key documents concerning the war. Older news is archived at MEWNews and the MEW Web Log
Note - MidEastWeb makes no claims regarding the accuracy of the reports, which are often conflicting, and usually has no way of verifying them. There have been many conflicting claims.  
Headlines We'd like to see + Your Comments on the war  

US War Commentary Follows the Pentagon

CNN Executive Explains Why They Can't Tell the Truth about the Middle East

More MidEastWeb Opinion - Is it Wrong?    Analysis  WMD- Now ? or Never  Family Enterprise  

 .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 


Iraq's Former Deputy PM Aziz in U.S. Custody
Shi'ite Pilgrimage to Karbala
Confusion in forming a New Government
Iraq War Casualty Summaries April 25
Interim Gov't Meeting Agrees to Meet Again
Baghdad Maverick Mayor Arrested, but Shiites set up Services
Iraqi UN Liaison in Custody

Corruption at CNN
Opinion - Iraq: The Incomplete Menu!
Letter to a Friend

Baghdad Maverick Mayor Arrested, but Shiites set up Services

[Mewnews, April 28] BAGHDAD, Iraq -- U.S. forces arrested Baghdad's self-appointed mayor on Sunday, bundling Muhammad Mohsen al-Zubaidi and seven of his top aides into an Army Humvee after he defied warnings to stop acting as the city's chief administrator. Zubaidi is only one of several such do-it-yourself government initiatives that have sprung up in Iraq, in the absence of US leadership.

Shiite clerics have taken over administration of large swaths of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities. Rather than threaten the clerics with arrest, the Army has given them freedom of action, even offering picture identification tags to the armed guards of one Shiite cleric who is part of an Iran-directed religious administration in the city's largest slum. Kadhem Al Husseini al Haeri, an Iraqi cleric who has been based in the Iranian holy city of Qum for 30 years, is the principal authority behind the Shiites now seizing control of parts of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities.

Interim Gov't Meeting Agrees to Meet Again

[Mewnews, April 29] The leaders of Iraqi factions met again yesterday with General James Garner and agreed to meet again in four weeks. At that time, they may form an interim government, if it is possible. It was not explained  what is to happen if it is not possible and who is to rule Iraq in the interim before the interim government. This meeting in Baghdad was a larger and somewhat different forum from the one that had met previously 10 days ago and agreed to meet in 10 days. It is not clear how the participants are chosen, or how this haphazard membership can form a working group. The meeting on Monday hosted 250 people, a rather large group to be expected to take decisive action.

Iraqi UN Liaison in Custody

[Mewnews, April 29] The Iraqi chief liaison to U.N. weapons inspectors became the 13th official on the United States' most-wanted list to be taken into custody, military officials said Sunday. The official, Lt. Gen. Hussam Muhammad Amin, is No. 49 on the list of the 55 most-wanted Iraqis. The military said he surrendered to American forces west of Baghdad.

Iraq's Former Deputy PM Aziz in U.S. Custody

[Mewnews, April 25]  - Tareq Aziz, Iraq's former deputy prime minister and one of the best-known figures in Saddam Hussein's old guard, surrendered to U.S. forces on Thursday and is in custody.

U.S. Central Command in Qatar and officials in Washington said that Aziz, No. 43 on the U.S. military's list of the 55 most wanted members of Saddam's former ruling elite, gave himself up to U.S. troops in Baghdad and was "under coalition control."

"He turned himself in," a U.S. official, said on condition of anonymity. "He was a major regime figure for a long, long time. He was the public face of the regime for a long time. He was close to Saddam for many years."

The US will be questioning Aziz about Iraqi links to Al-Qaeda and WMD development, but it is possible that Aziz, a  Christian and relative outsider, knows nothing.

In addition, Farouk Hijazi was detained near Iraq's border with Syria on Friday.

He was director of external operations for Iraq's intelligence agency in the mid-1990s, when it allegedly attempted to assassinate former President George Bush, father of the current U.S. leader, during a visit to Kuwait.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said of Hijazi,  "He is significant. We think he could be interesting but I would rather not give any details."

Shi'ite Pilgrimage to Karbala

[Mewnews, April 25] Hundreds of thousands of Shi'ites came on foot to the Shi'a shrine in Karbala, in the first such pilgrimage in many years. Saddam had forbidden the pilgrimages on foot, fearing revolt. A few pilgrims chanted anti-US slogans, but there were no violent demonstrations, and most of the hate was directed at Saddam Hussein.

On Friday, some Sunni clerics inveighed at the US occupation in their sermons, but there were apparently no disorders, as there were the previous Friday.

Confusion in forming a New Government

[Mewnews, April 25] The US appears to be of several minds regarding formation of a government and reconstruction. On the one hand it has discouraged Pentagon favorite Ahmad Chalabi officially and has tried to eliminate the authority of INC's self installed mayor of Baghdad, Zobaidi. On the other hand, Chalabi and Garner were to have lunch together in the near future, and it is not clear if the INC is or is not really running Baghdad.

US authorities seem to be surprised at the extent of Shi'ite support and agitation against the occupation. They are also ignoring Sunni agitation agitation against the occupation, and have not decided what to do about the whole situation. US appointee Jay Garner announced that an Iraqi interim government may be formed next week. 

Earlier, Ahmad Chalabi announced that he would not be part of the interim government, but it seems he might run for leadership of Iraq in a permanent government. Chalabi later said that he believes Iraq should have a liberal constitution. Islamic parties can be part of Iraqi politics, but should not try to force their agenda on the rest of the nation according to him. Chalabi also said that the Ba'ath party continues to function as an underground in Iraq, and has made plans to disrupt the occupation and reconstruction. The INC leader said that their influence must be eliminated.

For commentary on the confusion in setting up an Iraqi government - click here


Iraq War Casualty Summaries April 25

U.S. -- 131 killed, 3 missing

Britain -- 30 killed

Iraqi military -- at least 2,320 in Baghdad, according to U.S. military. Iraq has given no figures for its military losses  Allies hold nearly 7,000 prisoners of war.

Iraqi civilians -- 1,254 killed, 5,112 wounded (last official estimate).  www.iraqbodycount.net  estimates as many as 1904 deaths. based on reports by at least two media sources.

More Iraqi Officials and Saddam Relatives Captured

[Mewnews, April 21]  The INC and US forces have announced captures of more of the former leaders of Iraq, wanted for questioning. U.S. forces in Iraq seized Saddam Hussein's science minister Abd al-Khalq Adb al-Gafar, Saddam's minister of higher education and scientific research and number 43 on the U.S. list of 55 most wanted Iraqis, was taken into custody on Saturday, a U.S. military central command statement said.

The INC  said Jamal Mustafa Sultan al-Tikriti, number 40 on the 55 "most-wanted" list, returned from Syria to surrender to them and would be handed over to U.S. forces within hours. "He is the first close member of the family to be detained," the group's spokesman, Zaab Sethna, told Reuters by telephone, saying that Jamal had served as Saddam's private secretary right up until the end. He said Jamal had fled to Syria but the INC had persuaded him to turn himself in.

Previously, Iraq's newly revived police force arrested Saddam Hussein's former finance minister - one of the 55 ex-leaders on the U.S. most-wanted list - and turned him over to the Marines, the U.S. Central Command said Saturday. Hikmat Mizban Ibrahim al-Azzawi, who also served as a deputy prime minister, was apprehended Friday in Baghdad, the command said.

Kurdish forces near Mosul gave US led forces a member of Central Command's list of most-wanted Iraqis. The wanted man is Samir Abul Aziz al-Najim, a Baath Party regional command chairman for East Baghdad and listed as No. 24 on the U.S. most-wanted list. He is the fourth person on the list in U.S. custody.

 Earlier, U.S. Special Forces captured Barzan Ibrahim Hasan, a half-brother of Saddam Hussein and a major catch, the U.S. Central Command reported on Thursday. Hasan was a presidential adviser to Saddam and had "extensive knowledge of the regime's workings," said Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks at the daily Central Command briefing. Hasan is one of three half-brothers of Saddam and the second to be captured. The first was Watban Ibrahim Hasan, who once served as Iraq's interior minister, captured last Sunday. Watban Hasan was the five of spades in the deck of playing cards the U.S. military issued to troops with pictures of wanted Iraqi officials. Barzan was the five of clubs.
See also -
Family Enterprise


Germans Offered to Spy for Iraq

[mewnews, April 21] Germany's intelligence services attempted to build closer links to Saddam's secret service during the build-up to war last year.

Documents from the Iraqi intelligence HQ in Baghdad show that an agent named as Johannes William Hoffner, and described as a "new German representative in Iraq" who had entered the country under diplomatic cover, attended a meeting with Lt Gen Taher Jalil Haboosh, the director of Iraq's intelligence service.

During the meeting, on January 29, 2002, Lt Gen Haboosh says that the Iraqis are anxious to have a relationship with Germany's intelligence agency "under diplomatic cover", adding that he hopes to develop that relationship through Mr Hoffner.

The German replies: "My organization wants to develop its relationship with your organization."

During the meeting, Lt Gen Haboosh told the German agent that Iraq has "big problems" with Britain and the United States, but he adds  that Iraq has no problems with Germany and suggests that Germany will be rewarded with lucrative contracts if it offers international support to Iraq. "When the American conspiracy is finished, we will make a calculation for each state that helps Iraq in its crisis."

Last night, a spokesman for the German government said it was "well known" that it had been offered lucrative contracts by Baghdad providing it maintained an anti-Iraq war stance. "Iraq made these kinds of promises before the war and praised Germany for its position," he said.


 Baghdad Bob Web Site and T - shirts - The Iraqi Information Minister who insisted Iraq was winning the war has a fan club.

Washington Times
April 15, 2003

Corruption at CNN
Peter Collins http://washtimes.com/op-ed/20030415-91009640.htm  

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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