Assessing the battle in Najaf and the growing Iraqi Resistance
So what lessons can be learned from the recent US assault on Najaf? Patrick Cockburn writing from Iraq for CounterPunch on August 28 says that “the lesson for the US and Britain should be that they ignore his (Ayatollah Sistani) views at their peril and need to meet his demand for elections which will produce a legitimate and credible Iraqi authority.” Cockburn also says that Najaf showed “that Sistani alone has the authority among Iraqis to bring battles to an end.” Milan Rai also acknowledges this is a real victory for Sistani in that it gained him more popularity, while diminishing the influence of US placed Iraqi leader Allawi.
The popularity of leaders like Sistani is just part of the growing resistance to the US occupation. Juan Cole reports that other Arab and Muslim leaders are calling for active resistance, with the most recent call to action coming from Shaikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, and old time Muslim Brotherhood cleric resident in Qatar. Cole provides this comment from al-Qaradawi “All of them (US military personnel and civilians) are invaders who came from their country to invade our country and fighting them [in Iraq] is a duty.”
This increasing resistance has been documented well in a longer report by Steve Negrus writing for the most recent issue of Middle East Report, as well as a lengthly report from the Middle East branch of Chatham House. The Chatham report is instructive because in addition to assessing the ?transition? in Iraq, the spent half the report looking at the ongoing resistance and its implications for the entire region.
Finally, this resistance is also taking others forms, such as the recent meeting in Beruit of hundreds of Iraqis attempting to set up a government independent of US influence. Islam Online reported on August 31 that “They have discussed the shape of the cherished rule after ejecting the US forces out of the country – away from sectarian-based political regime adopted by the US occupation forces,” Abdel-Amir Al-Rikabi, the general coordinator of the conference sessions.
More on the Torture Report and how Kerry can do Iraq better
Despite all the hand wringing over the new report on prison abuses at Abu Ghraib, little attention has been paid to how the US has been changing the rules on International Law and treatment of prisoners. According to a recent posting on Foreign Policy in Focus, Colonel Daniel Smith says “Unfortunately, the Schlesinger report itself tends to undercut standards for ethical treatment of detainees. It asserts that (and implicitly rejects) conforming to the International Committee of the Red Cross? (ICRC) interpretation of the Geneva Conventions would mean that interrogation operations would not be allowed. The panel bases this conclusion on the fact that the ICRC recognizes only two classes of detainees–civilians who must be charged with and tried for a crime and enemy combatants subject to release when hostilities end–while the U.S. insists there is a third class, ‘unlawful combatants,’ for those who do not fit into either of the Geneva categories.”
On September 1, John Kerry spoke to the annual convention of the American Legion. At that meeting Kerry said that he could win the war on terror and do better than the Bush administration. In regards to Iraq Kerry says:
No one in the United States doubted the outcome in Iraq or how swiftly the war would be won. — We knew we had the best-trained troops in the world and true to form, they performed magnificently, and we are all proud and grateful.
But the certainty of winning the war placed the most solemn obligation on the civilian leadership of this country, to make certain that we had a plan to win the peace.
The Army Chief of Staff General Shinseki told Congress we would need several hundred thousand American troops to win the peace and do the job properly. His candor was rewarded with early retirement and his advice ignored, sending a chilling message through the ranks of the professional military.
By dismissing the State Department’s plan for post-war Iraq and proceeding unilaterally, the civilian leadership simply did not put the mechanism in place to secure the country. They were unprepared for the looting, insecurity, and insurgency that burst out with the fall of Saddam’s regime.
They failed to secure Iraq’s borders, and so allowed thousands of foreign terrorists, Islamist militants, and intelligence agents to penetrate and destabilize post-war Iraq.
This analysis flies in the face of what has been coming out of Iraq and even how Kerry voted when the US was preparing to go to war in the Fall of 2002. We could not find any resistance or substantive questioning from Kerry of the Bush administration’s call to war.
Protests against the Republican National Convention
Members of Media Mouse spent much of the last week covering the protests outside the Republican National Convention (Media Mouse coverage wrap-up). On August 29 an estimated 500,000 people participated in a legally sanctioned march against Bush while other protests throughout the week resulted in nearly 1,800 arrests. The numbers of people participating in the RNC protests are the largest since the February 15, 2003 antiwar protests. While the protests were largely symbolic in nature, hopefully they will be the catalyst for a renewed movement against the occupation of Iraq.
Bush Addresses the Republican National Convention
After a week of speeches in which various Republicans, and one Democrat, trumpted the Bush administration’s war record, President Bush spoke on Thursday and spelled out how he would keep on killing innocent civilians around the world. Raul Mahajan of Empire Notes has put together a sentence by sentence analysis of Bush’s speech.
Iraq Veterans to Bush and Kerry: Talk about Iraq, not Vietnam
Last Sunday’s 500,000 person anti-Bush protest in New York featured a new group–Iraq Veterans Against the War. The Boston Globe published an article looking at the group and why they were marching against Bush. It is not surprising that veterans are beginning to turn against the Iraq war, the same thing happened in Vietnam as casualties rose and it became clear that war was essentially unwinnable. However, rather than having their voices heard, most veterans are being shut out of the campaign as the Bush and Kerry campaigns debate Vietnam and not Iraq causing veterans groups to demand that Bush and Kerry start talking about Iraq.
Medicine Shortage in Iraq
The United Nations is reporting that Iraq is still lacking vital medicines. There are three principal reasons for the shortage of medicine: the devestating sanctions instituted after the Gulf War, neglect by Saddam Hussein, and the looting of hospitals during the invasion of Iraq.