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Tuesday, July 15, 2003

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Wednesday, June 04, 2003

I have decided to temporarily abandon this site during the summer, and post everything on the home page. Thanks.


Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Blame Saddam, Not the Sanctions

Newsday reports:

Throughout the 13 years of UN sanctions on Iraq that were ended yesterday, Iraqi doctors told the world that the sanctions were the sole cause for the rocketing mortality rate among Iraqi children.

"It is one of the results of the embargo," Dr. Ghassam Rashid Al-Baya told Newsday on May 9, 2001, at Baghdad's Ibn Al-Baladi hospital, just after a dehydrated baby named Ali Hussein died on his treatment table. "This is a crime on Iraq."

It was a scene repeated in hundreds of newspaper articles by reporters required to be escorted by minders from Saddam Hussein's Ministry of Information.

Now free to speak, the doctors at two Baghdad hospitals, including Ibn Al-Baladi, tell a very different story. Along with parents of dead children, they said in interviews this week that Hussein turned the children's deaths into propaganda, notably by forcing hospitals to save babies' corpses to have them publicly paraded.

All the evidence indicates that the spike in children's deaths was tragically real - roughly, a doubling of the mortality rate during the 1990s, according to humanitarian organizations. But the reason has been fiercely argued, and the new accounts by Iraqi doctors and parents will alter the debate."

About time we realize that Saddam, not the sanctions, are to blame.
[Hat-tip to Daimnation]


Wednesday, May 21, 2003

The US Should Separate Turkey and the Kurds

In the policy paper I will soon be posting to this site on how to build a liberal and democratic Iraq, I make one of the hallmarks of the plan the permenant basing of US troops in the Kurdish controlled sections of Northern Iraq, to counterbalance the Turks and Iranians who are still entertaining the idea of overtly participating in Iraqi politics.

This report from Stratfor underscores the importance. Since it is subscriber's only, I am posting it in full.

Turkey and Iraqi Kurds: Tension and Detente
May 16, 2003

Summary: Several recent incidents suggest a Turkish-Kurdish detente. However, beneath the surface, Ankara's geopolitical concerns remain -- and a confrontation
between the two seems inevitable.

Analysis: Relations between Turkey and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) seem to be on the upswing, with several
events in recent weeks marking a seeming detente and the development of a working relationship.

On May 14, Turkey dispatched a Foreign Ministry delegation to northern Iraq, led by former Turkish Ambassador to Baghdad Selim Karaosmanoglu. The visit
followed a soft-spoken request from the Kurdish Parliament that Turkey withdraw troops from the region, as well as reports that Turkish energy companies had inked deals with the PUK to begin developing Iraq's northern oil fields -- indirect recognition of Kurdish sovereignty in northern Iraq.

On the surface, these incidents and statements point to an easing of tensions that could, in the long run, lead to a de facto -- if not formal -- peace between Turkey and Kurds in northern Iraq. The incidents, however, belie Ankara's determination to prevent the establishment of an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq and the fundamental conflict between the two groups. While working together on some surface issues, tensions between Ankara and Arbil will continue -- and eventually could draw Washington into the conflict.

Turkey sees preventing an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq as necessary for protecting its national interests. There are approximately 12 million Kurds living in Turkey and an estimated 20 million in the region where Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran meet. Ankara fears that an independent Kurdistan in Iraqi territory would encourage a separatist movement inside Turkey proper. However, Ankara has been limited in its actions in northern Iraq since the end of the war by Washington's assurances that the status quo will continue; the U.S. military has refused to allow more Turkish forces into the region.

The seeming niceties between Turkey and the PUK and KDP have not redefined the fundamental distrust between the two. In fact, according to Stratfor sources within the Turkish government, the Turkish delegation sent to northern Iraq in effect issued an ultimatum to the Kurds.

The delegation warned that the Kurds should not try to convert Kirkuk and Mosul through "creeping Kurdish penetration" into the cities' local governments, community centers and businesses. It also warned the Kurds to stop demanding the withdrawal of Turkish troops from northern Iraq and said that they should not rely on foreign sponsors -- a reference to the United States -- to support them in their opposition to Turkey. The delegation suggested that the Kurds turn to Ankara for their long-term survival.

By approaching the Kurds with a threatening tone, the delegation is trying to re-establish dominance in the region and plant doubt regarding the extent to which the Kurds can rely on the United States. The PUK and KDP both worked with the United States during the war, but Washington has been careful not to promise them an independent Kurdistan. Even so, both groups will look to the U.S. military as a counter to a Turkish military invasion. At the same time, Ankara has held back sending a massive military deployment to the region, due to fears of a clash with Washington.

Ankara hopes to whip up support for an expansion of Turkish military activities in northern Iraq by pointing to a guerrilla group, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), also known as KADEK. The group operates in both northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey but has been largely inactive since the 1999 arrest of leader Abdullah Ocalan. The PKK recently warned that any attempt to disarm it would trigger a full-scale war. Turkey claims the PKK has about 5,000 guerrilla fighters living in the mountainous regions of northern Iraq.

After meeting with the Kurds in the north, the delegation headed to Baghdad to meet with U.S. officials. There, the Turks will ask for Washington's permission to expand operations targeting the PKK in northern Iraq. Any change in Turkey's role in the region would need at least a nod from the U.S. administration in Baghdad.

From Ankara's point of view, now is the time to act. The situation in northern Iraq has not solidified, and Turkey wants to change the situation before it becomes institutionalized in the Kurds' favor. Ankara, however, cannot act without the United States, and it is unclear -- despite Turkish claims to the contrary -- that Washington will abandon the Kurds any time soon.

The US must move fast to stabilize the region.


Monday, May 12, 2003

Making Chirac Take Responsibility For His Actions

Just a thought--wouldn't it be interesting if the Iraqi people were to take French President Chirac to task for his responsibility in Saddam's regime's genocides?

Just think about it for a second: the French president has been an outspoken defender of the International Criminal Court (ICC), claiming that it should have the full right to prosecute anyone for war crimes or crimes against humanity. Although I personally think the ICC is flawed, why not take him on his word?

Chirac has been known to maintain a close relationship with Saddam and his family, helped him in his quest for nuclear power, and transferred arms and ammunition up till the eve of the war. On the other hand, groups have called for an investigation into American and British war crimes during the war for Iraq--why not look to the reasons for the war?

Chirac undoubtedly knew about the genocides, the policies of forced Arabization, and Saddam's aggressive intentions with weapons of mass destruction. And yet he maintained the ties with Saddam: the mark of an accomplice.

Then, once that case is made, another can be brought against him for supporting the Syrian Ba'ath and the Hizbullah. The French have never denied their feelings toward their former colony and the "militant" organization--I am sure that a compelling case can be made in this respect as well.

I think the case against Chirac will stand the test of an impartial court--especially with the troves of documents discovered in Iraq after the war. Wouldn't it be nice to take the French president on his word, and see if he continues to support the ICC even after he becomes a defendant?

[cross posted at Comments?

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Syria Can't Keeps Its Hands Out of the Pot

Once again we are reminded that Syria does more than just harbor terrorists. It trains them.

It turns out, as Jane's reports, that the two suicide bombers in Tel Aviv were not only British citizens but also met and then were sent to train around Damascus, either by al-Qaeda or the Hizbullah.

Bad timing, what with Powel in the region and all.


Monday, April 28, 2003

French Have Out-done Themselves

Much can be written about the French, who have no-one to blame for their current prediciment but themselves.

This report is incredibly interesting:

France briefed Iraq on war: report
April 27, 2003

FRANCE gave Saddam Hussein's regime regular reports on its dealings with US officials, The Sunday Times reported, quoting files it had found in the wreckage of the Iraqi foreign ministry.

The conservative British weekly said the information kept Saddam abreast of every development in US planning and may have helped him to prepare for war.

One report warned of a US "attempt to involve Iraq with terrorism" as "cover for an attack on Iraq", according to The Sunday Times.

Another, dated September 25, 2001, from Naji Sabri, the Iraqi foreign minister, to Saddam's palace, was based on a briefing from the French ambassador in Baghdad and covered talks between presidents Jacques Chirac and US President George W Bush.

Chirac was said to have been told that the US was "100 per cent certain Osama bin Laden was behind the September 11 attacks and that the answer of the United States would be decisive".

After all this, and after scuttling to Iran to coordinate strategy with the Ayatolla, the French should be isolated.