Thursday, September 29, 2005


John Pilger blames Basra on the British

John Pilger, News Statesman, Monday 3rd October 2005


He had more than three facts at his finger tips but was still able to come to exactly the wrong conclusion, adding such totally useless statements as

Although reported initially by the Times and the Mail, all mention of the explosives allegedly found in the SAS men's unmarked Cressida vanished from the news. Instead, the story was the danger the men faced if they were handed over to the militia run by the "radical" cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. "Radical" is a gratuitous embedded term; al-Sadr has actually co-operated with the British. What did he have to say about the "rescue"? Quite a lot, none of which was reported in this country. His spokesman Sheikh Hassan al-Zarqani said the SAS men, disguised as al-Sadr's followers, were planning an attack on Basra ahead of an important religious festival.

"When the police tried to stop them," he said, "[they] opened fire on the police and passers-by. After a car chase, they were arrested. What our police found in the car was very disturbing - weapons, explosives and a remote-control detonator. These are the weapons of terrorists.
The story more likely goes like this: the Two Scousers were caught with supplies to refresh another SAS team, which they were going to meet. No one has shown there were bombs in the kit, although there was a large amount of weapons, amunition and some comms. equipment. Even if there was a cache of explosives, its existence in the car does not necessarily mean it was going to be used to blow Iraqis up. It might have been there to blow Iranians up. It might be standard kit for SAS men to carry to blow holes in buildings if they find the need to do so.

It is now established there is a team of 25-30 British special forces operating in the Basrah area, and on the Iran-Iraq border, to deal with the influx of bombs that are being manufactured in Iran. The bombs used against British Forces vehicles have been forensically shown to be Iranian. It is said one of the jobs of the special forces teams is to drop listening devices on the border to attempt to catch those bringing th bombs over.

No one can be sure who is who in Iraqi Police uniform. The Two Scousers [SEE Scouser in] were part of a team who were well aware that Shite militas operate in Police uniforms when they want to kidnap people, or that Iraqi Policemen in uniform sometimes act on behalf of militas rather than the Iraqi government.

Pilger might have asked why the British military would want to set off bombs for any reason. He would want to examine the speeches of Al Sadr or those of other militia leaders.

There is a well-documented history of dirty war by the British Army, especially well-documented in Northern Ireland, Mau Mau Kenya, Borneo, but this does not mean the British are now engaged in a dirty war in the Basrah area. In reality all armies engage in dirty wars because wars are dirty and those fighting them want to win. The British are renowned for their psychological warfare expertise. But it does not mean they are currently broadcasting lies, in Arabic to stir up trouble or achieve gaols they cannot achieve by more conventional means.

If Pilger is willing to propogate bilge such as this:

The Anglo-American goal of "federalism" for Iraq is part of an imperial strategy of provoking divisions in a country where the communities have long overlapped, even intermarried. The Osama-like promotion of al-Zarqawi is integral to this. Like the Scarlet Pimpernel, he is everywhere but nowhere. When the Americans crushed the city of Fallujah last year, the justification for their atrocious behaviour was "getting those guys loyal to al-Zarqawi". But the city's civil and religious authorities denied he was ever there or had anything to do with the resistance.

"He is simply an invention," said the imam of al-Kazimeya Mosque in Baghdad. "Al-Zarqawi was killed in the beginning of the war in the Kurdish north. His family even held a ceremony after his death." Whether or not this is true, al-Zarqawi's "foreign invasion" serves as Bush's and Blair's last veil for their "war on terror" and botched attempt to control the world's second-biggest source of oil.

then we are pretty safe we can almost completely ignore the bog standard, anti-western agit-prop line he is trying to peddle. We know the Ba'thist are the major cause of the insurgency, but that all the insurgent groups, Ba'ath or Islamist, nationalist, tribal, are cooperating to some degree for maximum effect.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Saddam's slow Revenge

The secret history of U.S. mistakes, misjudgments and intelligence failures that let the Iraqi dictator and his allies launch an insurgency now ripping Iraq apart

By Joe Klein

Finished reading The Sunday Times 25 September 2005 version of this Time article.

Is there another phrase for I told you so? Right from the beginning of this website - which was never a war blog - I have written, again and again, the insurgency was possible because of the stashes of arms and money plus the outside help. Now we learn that even the tyrant would be surprised to know how effective it has been. But we shake our heads, eyes shut, when we learn that the man responsible for organising the insurgency, and for the deaths of Iraqis as well as occupation forces,is living in Damascus and has had a friendly visit from a CIA man to ask him if he would like to chat about how to stop the insurgency.

We are enured to the incompetence and lack of foresight of both the U.S. and British administrations, despite the slow roll of revelations which both comfort the anti-war lobby and put the pro-war faction (including me) in a similar position to Hitchens, chewing right though ones finger to the bone, thinking it was a pencil.



Postman Pat

(sorry for silly Engleeesh joke) sent me his latest post mentioning statements made by Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld at different (Senate/Congressional?) Hearings on the same day 27, March 2003, on how to pay for the war, in response to my mentioning the AltNet article, The Failed War for Oil.

He also sent the eia country analysis brief for Iraq, updated June 2005, which is a must for all those following Iraq.

I picked up on this, under 'refining' :

According to former Oil Minister Issam Chalabi, Iraqi refineries currently are operating at only 50 percent-75 percent of capacity, forcing the country to import around 200,000 bbl/d of refined products, at a cost of $200-$250 million per month. This does not include the additional cost of steep government subsidies on the consumer price of gasoline, which runs at under 10 cents per gallon. It is estimated that, overall, direct and indirect oil subsidies cost Iraq $8 billion per year. Subsidies also encourage illegal smuggling of oil out of Iraq, and exacerbate shortages within the country. In order to reduce Iraq's need for oil product imports, significant investment will be needed to perform refinery upgrades (Iraq had identified dozens of such projects prior to the war) and possibly to build new refineries.

which leads me to a flight of fancy: we (UK) paying $7 a gallon, you (US) $2-3 dollars, who can't afford to drive around willy-nilly, just for the hell of it, tank up on subsidised 10c. a gallon and drive around Baghdad in our 4x4s...but the image got stuck on the SUVs flying high up into the air over those newly imported Iranian bobs, or of us being kidnapped and later ceremonially decapitated.

Anyone interested in following my on-going gripe about the disparity between US and UK domestic vehicle fule retail prices cn follow some of the posts at Norfolkskies.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


You don't need many facts to make a sensible suggestion said Baghdadskies weblogger. A few basic facts gleaned from newspaper articles and a bsic background knowledge and you're off. I never was a war blogger. My interest was always looking for parallels for current events in modern Iraqi history.

What gives with The Two Scousers story? Initial reports would not explain exactly what they were doing, but it was easy to opine they were looking for the Iranian bombs - so I did.

The latest reports, such as The Sunday Times 25 September 2005, Playing with Fire, suggest the two men were part of 23 SAS personnel who are trying to stop the flow of weapons and bombs into southeren Iraq. As also in The Sunday Times, SAS in secret war against Iranian agents, Michael Smith and Ali Rifat.

Meanwhile we learn who the governor of Basrah, Mohammed Musabah al-Wa'eli, is from this Boston Times report - Corruption pervades government in Basra: Islamists faulted amid killings, By Thanassis Cambanis, August 8, 2005.

Wa'eli took office after the January elections on a platform of sweeping out rampant corruption. The previous governor, from the dominant Islamist party in Iraq, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, presided over an oil-smuggling boom and a collapse in the few public services still functioning in Basra after the US invasion.

Wa'eli, from the Fadhila Party (the name means virtue), is an Islamist whose political platform is indistinguishable from that of the Supreme Council, the Da'wa Party, or any of the other Shi'ite Islamists who hold nearly every seat on the provincial council. But his anti-corruption rhetoric has struck a chord, wresting power from the once-dominant Supreme Council. But his effort has barely begun to chip away at the web of smuggling, kickbacks, and embezzlement that has alienated much of Basra.

The Telegraph, 23 September, 2005: Shia militia fires up anti-British hatred after SAS rescue, By Adrian Blomfield, demonstrates the British are on a hiding to nothing. Badghdadskies' Arm-chair General prognostication that it would be better to retreat tactically, might prove right. Without the numbers what good can they do? However, if the aim is to keep informed of what the Iranians are up to, then an urban presence is essential, if unpopular with the Shi'ites.

Had a telephone conversation with a friend in foreign lands, just now, in which I suggested that a left-wing article, The Failed war for Oil, in AltNet arguing the original U.S. idea of getting their hands on Iraqi oil (i.e. ensuring the supplies of..) is already going wrong because the oil fields are being wrecked by pumping with obsolete equipment. it is suggested a position will be reached where it will no longer be cost effective to start from scratch prospecting for more oil fields, using modern technology. Hence the U.S. plan to re-coup the cost of the war and the occupation from the proceeds of Iraqi oil will be seen as a pipe dream, and the cost will become one to the American taxpayer.

Even the pro-war (strategically-minded) lobby with their capitalistic antennae will recognise the game is up, lobbying for withdrawal.

Iran is the big question. It won't be long before a mad senator is suggesting a nuclear strike on Tehran would be the simplest way to solve the Middle East crisis. Indeed it would. Creating a nuclear waste land between Pakistan and the Gulf would be much the simplest solution.

memories of a childhood in Iraq in the 1950s * thoughts on events in the Middle East

Location: United Kingdom

expatriot in Middle East as child, retired teacher.

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