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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Grievances fuelling insurgency

Today Knight Ridder will report on a National Intelligence Estimate completed in October 2003. According to the article
[the National Intelligence Estimate] concluded that the insurgency was fueled by local conditions - not foreign terrorists- and drew strength from deep grievances, including the presence of U.S. troops.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Iran's Minister of Defence scores rhetorical points against US

Today Iran's Minister of Defence, Brigadier General Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, will make a speech at the first nationwide gathering on the goals of the Ministry (source). In that speech he will use US human rights abuse as a rhetorical device to criticise the US Administration. He is quoted as saying
the human rights favored by US President George Bush are based on clandestine cells, torture, terror, wire tapping of American civilians, sacrilege to religious sanctities, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and attack on civilians.

It is among the wonders of the 21st century that the US administration with its black record of activities claim leadership of the world towards democracy and human rights...

The US disgrace due to its crimes in Abu Ghraib prison indicates that the US administration has no respect for the most basic principles of human rights ... the US through such shameful acts has been completely isolated and hated in the world.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Washington Post on Iraqi sectarian violence

Today Nelson Hernandez and Bassam Sebti of the Washington Post will write an article with the cautious title Apparent Death Squad Is Linked to Iraqi Ministry (another copy here). It will contain the following statement
The [arrest of 22 members of a death squad] is the first hard evidence to support the widely held suspicion among Sunni Arabs that vigilantes in the country's Shiite-dominated police force are rounding up Sunnis and killing them.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Australian viewers -- Dateline tonight

According to today's Sydney Morning Herald:
MORE photographs have been leaked of Iraqi citizens tortured by US soldiers at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad.

Tonight the SBS Dateline program plans to broadcast about 60 previously unpublished photographs that the US Government has been fighting to keep secret in a court case with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Other countries might want to check the Dateline website for transcripts.

From mparent7777's livejournal blog called Crimes and Corruption of the New World Order, this is one of 6 photos said to be from the new set. The rest of can be found here.

Further reading:

Torture strengthens insurgency

Today the International Crisis Group will release Middle East Report No. 50 called In their own words: Reading the Iraqi insurgency. The objective of the report is to help the US defeat the insurgency by winning hearts and minds, which means understanding how the insurgency gains its legitimacy and delegitimises the occupation (page 4).
As U.S. officials repeatedly have acknowledged, this war will not be won on the battlefield, at least not on the battlefield alone. All three principal actors have been hobbled by non-military factors: the U.S. by the collapse of its legitimacy in Iraqi eyes and by growing scepticism at home; its Iraqi allies by a credibility deficit; and the insurgency by accusations of sectarianism and resort to ghastly methods. Perceptions, in others words, will play a critical part in the conflicts outcome. Prevailing in this arena requires, at a minimum, taking seriously what the armed opposition says, understanding how it resonates and why, and addressing the legitimate grievances it expresses.
The executive summary states that respect for human rights is key to countering negative perceptions about the occupation
Countering the insurgency requires taking its discourse seriously, reducing its legitimacy and increasing that of the Iraqi government. The harm from excessive use of force, torture, tactics that inflict widespread civilian injury and reliance on sectarian militias outweighs any military gain. It is essential for the U.S. to hold the new government accountable and make clear that long-term relations, economic aid and military cooperation depend on disbanding militias, halting political killings and respecting human rights.
In the body, the report describes the insurgency's tactic of legitimising the occupation
Mirroring the coalitions own accusations, the insurgency repeatedly charges its enemies with waging a dirty war in which U.S. forces engage in heavy military assaults while subcontracting torture and forced disappearances to local allies.[174] These include the Badr Corps, the Saqr and Dhib police commandos and the national guards.[175] The U.S. is condemned for relying on sectarian-based death squads and turning a blind eye to numerous crimes committed against Sunni Arabs in general.[176]
Consequently, of the 6 recommendations made at the end of the report (page 26), 4 of them relate to ending human rights abuses by the Coalition and its Iraqi allies. They are
  • closely monitoring, controlling and, if necessary, punishing, the behaviour of security forces;
  • halting recourse to the most questionable types of practices, including torture and extraordinary methods of interrogation and confinement, collective punishment and extra-judicial killings;
  • ending the use of sectarian militias as a complement to, or substitute for, regular armed forces and beginning a serious process of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) of militia fighters;
  • the U.S. holding the new government accountable and making clear that longer-term relations, economic assistance and future military cooperation will depend on the steps it takes to rein in and ultimately disband militias, halt politically-motivated killings and respect human rights and the rule of law;

Further reading, opinions and commentary:


[174] In October 2005, al-Jaysh al-Islami devoted a special edition of al-Fursan to the alleged massacre in al-Iskan, a Sunni neighbourhood of Baghdad. The article included details of an alleged joint operation of Interior Ministry forces and the Badr Corps on 11 August 2005. Insurgents claimed there were mass detentions, and they later uncovered near the Iranian border the desecrated bodies of those who had been arrested. Numerous videos purporting to document such crimes have been released by Jaysh Ansar al-Sunna and Tandhim al-Qaida.

[175] The Badr Corps regularly is dubbed the Ghadr Corps (meaning perfidious, traitorous, insidious); the National Guard (al-Haras al-Watani) is called the Pagan Guard (al-Haras al- Wathani).

[176] See Jaysh Ansar al-Sunna communiqué, 12 August 2005, alleging that the Badr Corps had engaged in atrocities with U.S. blessing. The insurgents claims undeniably have been served by actions undertaken by the Coalition and its allies. A forthcoming Crisis Group report will examine these actions in more detail.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Republicans in house committee vote down torture investigation

Today the vote on three resolutions seeking information about Administration torture policies will be reported. The resolutions demanded
  • Information on a practice that has been called extraordinary rendition, or sending suspects abroad to countries where they would allegedly be tortured for information.
  • Documents about U.S. policies regarding U.N. anti-torture conventions.
  • Documents and records involving Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's December trip to Europe, during which she was dogged by reports of alleged secret European jails.
It will be defeated by the Republican Party on almost straight party lines.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

CIA chief fired for opposing torture

This week Robert Grenier, head of the CIA counter-terrorism centre, will be fired. Vincent Cannistraro, a former head of counter-terrorism at the agency, will tell the Sunday Times that the reason for the firing was that Grenier "expressed misgivings about the secret prisons in Europe and the rendition of terrorists." Head of the CIA Poter Goss is also believed to have blamed Grenier for allowing leaks to the press about "black sites" in Europe on his watch.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Creating terrorists

Today the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff signed a new classified counterterrorism. Included in the strategy is an order to the military to focus on terrorist information-gathering systems, personnel and ideology. The strategy will be reported on in the New York Times.

The document is unusual for admitting the negative impact military actions can have

"The way we conduct operations choosing whether, when, where and how can affect ideological support for terrorism. Knowledge of indigenous population's cultural and religious sensitivities and understanding of how the enemy uses the U.S. military's actions against us should inform the way the U.S. military operates."

That has been clear in the situations ranging from disgrace suffered by the United States after revelations of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib to instances when Arab media emphasized pictures of crosses or rosaries hung from artillery tubes by American soldiers. Such photographs were used to argue that the counterterrorism effort was a war on Islam. Pentagon officials involved in writing the strategy point out that the American military's efforts to aid tsunami victims in southeast Asia and to assist victims of Pakistan's earthquake did more to counter terrorist ideology than any attack mission.

The NYT quotes one senior Pentagon official involved in writing the strategy as saying that the Defense Department had identified more than 30 new terrorist organizations affiliated with Al Qaeda that had sprung to life since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.