BlueHummingbird News

The New Iraq

Iraqi Sovereignty

From AP at CBS News: June 28, 2004
Iraqis 'Have Their Country Back'
(CBS/AP) With a brief ceremony two days ahead of schedule, Iraq was returned to sovereignty Monday. President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the two determined architects of the war against Saddam Hussein, celebrated the move. "The Iraqi people have their country back," Mr. Bush said. At around 10:26 a.m. Baghdad time — 2:26 a.m. ET — legal documents handing over sovereignty were handed over by U.S. governor L. Paul Bremer to interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. "This is a historical day," Allawi said. "We feel we are capable of controlling the security situation." Almost immediately, Bremer headed home on an Air Force jet. The new U.S. ambassador, John Negroponte arrived in the country later in the day to oversee a massive diplomatic mission in Baghdad. In the capital, the streets were almost empty and there were no exuberant scenes of jubilation ... Mr. Bush said: "We have kept our word" to deliver freedom and a new government to the Iraqi people. "We pledged to end a dangerous regime, to free the oppressed and to restore sovereignty," he said. Though Mr. Bush and Blair referred to the transfer as a handover of "full sovereignty," some 138,000 American troops remain in Iraq and the United States will have the main role in Iraqi security. ... Mr. Bush offered Allawi a green light to impose martial law if necessary and take other hard-line measures to deal with terrorists. ...

Commentary at t r u t h o u t: Tuesday 29 June 2004
Tuck Tail and Run By William Rivers Pitt

Commentary at The NYT: June 29, 2004
Who Lost Iraq? By PAUL KRUGMAN

From The Associated Press at Yahoo: Tue, Jun 29, 2004 6:52pm ET
Saddam to Face Charges in Iraq Thursday By JIM KRANE
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqis and the world will get their first glimpse of Saddam Hussein since his capture in December when he and 11 of his top lieutenants are brought to court Thursday to face war crimes charges likely to include the 1988 chemical weapons massacre of Kurds and the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. ... Iraq will take legal custody of Saddam from the U.S. Army on Wednesday and the former dictator is to make his first court appearance Thursday, where he will be informed of the charges in his arrest warrant, Prime Minister Iyad Allawi announced Tuesday. ... The trial itself won't take place for months. ...

From The Australian Broadcasting Corp.: Wednesday, June 30, 2004. 7:26pm (AEST)
Iraq re-instates death penalty By Matt Brown in Baghdad
The Iraqi Government has approved re-instating the death penalty. In an interview published in a local Arabic newspaper, President Ghazi al-Yawar said the decision was taken shortly after the transfer of power from occupying forces. ...

From Reuters at Lycos: Wednesday, June 30, 2004 7:08 p.m. ET
U.S. Says Attacks Zarqawi Safehouse in Falluja
FALLUJA, Iraq (Reuters) - The U.S. military said on Thursday they had attacked a safehouse belonging to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant Washington says is allied to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. It said the attack took place in a suburb of the restive city of Falluja, but gave no further details, although witnesses said four people were killed when a house in the city was hit by a missile fired from a U.S. warplane. "On June the 30th, multinational forces conducted another strike on a known Zarqawi network safehouse in southwest Falluja based on multi-confirmations of Iraqi and multinational intelligence," Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of operations for the U.S. military in Iraq, said in a statement. ...

From The Guardian: Thursday July 1, 2004
US will override Baghdad in war on terrorism By Rory McCarthy in Baghdad
Military strikes may continue, warns general
American commanders will risk launching high-profile military actions at targets in Iraq even if they go directly against the wishes of the new Iraqi government, a senior US general said yesterday. Lieutenant General Thomas Metz, the second most senior American officer in Iraq and the force's tactical operations commander, said the US military was prepared to risk provoking "friction" with the new government in strikes against "professional terrorists". ...

From CBS News: July 1, 2004
Saddam: 'Real Criminal Is Bush'
BAGHDAD, Iraq - (CBS/AP) In his first public appearance in months, Saddam Hussein rejected charges of war crimes and genocide, telling a judge in Baghdad "this is all theater, the real criminal is Bush." ... Although Saddam is officially in Iraqi legal custody, for security reasons and at the request of the prime minister, he will remain in a U.S.-controlled jail guarded by Americans until the Iraqis are ready to take physical custody of him. That is expected to take a long time. ...

From The BBC: Saturday, 3 July, 2004, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
Israeli interrogators 'in Iraq'
The US officer at the heart of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal says she has evidence that Israelis helped to interrogate Iraqis at another facility. Brig Gen Janis Karpinski told the BBC she met an Israeli working as an interrogator at a secret intelligence centre in Baghdad. A BBC reporter says it is the first time a senior US officer has suggested Israelis worked with the coalition. The Israeli foreign ministry said the reports were completely untrue. ...

At The Telegraph: (Filed: 04/07/2004)
Rumsfeld gave go-ahead for Abu Ghraib tactics, says general in charge
By Julian Coman in Washington
The former head of the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad has for the first time accused the American Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, of directly authorising Guantanamo Bay-style interrogation tactics. Brig-Gen Janis Karpinski, who commanded the 800th Military Police Brigade, which is at the centre of the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal, said that documents yet to be released by the Pentagon would show that Mr Rumsfeld personally approved the introduction of harsher conditions of detention in Iraq. ... Replying to Gen Karpinski's allegations, a spokesman for the Pentagon told The Telegraph: "Mr Rumsfeld did not approve any interrogation procedures in Iraq. The Secretary of Defence was not in the approval chain for interrogation procedures, which would have remained within the purview of Central Command, headed by Gen John Abizaid." ...

At The Independent (UK): 05 July 2004
Legality of Iraq occupation 'flawed' By Marie Woolf, Chief Political Correspondent

From The Associated Press at Yahoo: Mon, Jul 05, 2004 6:06am ET
Iraq Militant Cleric Vows to Keep Fighting By FISNIK ABRASHI
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Militant Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who led an April uprising that left hundreds dead, called Iraq's new interim government "illegitimate" and pledged to resist occupation forces to the "last drop of blood." ... "Resistance is a legitimate right and not a crime to be punished," he said. ... "There is no truce with the occupier and those who cooperate with it. We announce that the current government is illegitimate and illegal," al-Sadr said. "It's generally following the occupation. We demand complete sovereignty and independence by holding honest elections." On June 12, al-Sadr issued a statement saying he was ready for a dialogue with the new government if it worked to end the U.S. military presence. It was unclear what prompted his apparent reversal, though al-Sadr has made contradictory statements in the past. Earlier Sunday, Allawi told ABC's "This Week" that he had met with al-Sadr representatives "who want to try and mediate." "The position of the government is very clear," Allawi said. "There is no room for any militias to operate inside Iraq. Anything outside law and order is not tolerated, cannot be tolerated. The rule of law should prevail. Every one of us, every individual, starting from the president downward should be answerable to the law." ...

From Associated Press at Yahoo: Mon, Jul 05, 2004 3:08pm ET
U.S. Airstrike on Fallujah House Kills 10 By DANICA KIRKA
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The U.S military launched a coordinated airstrike Monday on a safehouse in the turbulent city of Fallujah, the military said. At least 10 people were killed, officials and witnesses said. ... Four 500-pound bombs and two 1,000-pound bombs were dropped, the military said. The military said the operation employed precision weapons and underscored the resolve of coalition and Iraqi forces "to jointly destroy terrorist networks within Iraq." ... Al-Sadr issued a statement Sunday from his office in the Shiite holy city of Najaf calling the new Iraqi government "illegitimate" and pledging "to continue resisting oppression and occupation to our last drop of blood." But al-Sadr's spokesman in Baghdad, Mahmoud al-Soudani, clarified at a news conference Monday that the statement was not a call to arms. He said that many of al-Sadr's supporters in Baghdad had begun taking up arms again and he needed to correct their misperceptions. "We are still committed to the cease-fire," al-Soudani said. ...

From The NYT: July 8, 2004
Iraqis Defend Power to Declare Martial Law By EDWARD WONG
BAGHDAD, Iraq, July 7 - Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and other government ministers formally unveiled a sweeping law on Wednesday that would allow them to declare martial law to curb unrest. "We will use this law and the items in the law whenever it is necessary to defeat our enemies," Mr. Allawi told reporters. "The law is really designed to be part and parcel of the rule of law and it respects human rights." Under the rules, Iraqi and American officials say, the Iraqi government can call on the United States military for assistance - something American military officials said they would be willing to provide as long it does not violate their own rules for the use of force. Under the final wording of the law, a draft version of which was obtained by The New York Times on Tuesday, there are some checks on the use of the powers, which permit the prime minister to order the detention of people deemed to be security risks, impose curfews and order house-to-house searches. ... Bekhtiar Amin, the minister of human rights, defended the law by saying it was "very similar to the Patriot Act of the United States and there are very few differences between them." ...

At The Guardian: Thursday July 8, 2004
Iraq PM given sweeping powers By Jonathan Steele in Baghdad

Opinion at Information Clearing House: 07/08/04
How the Iraqis See It By Sam Hamod

From THE ASSOCIATED PRESS at The NYT: Filed at 11:06 a.m. ET July 9, 2004
Report Says Key Assertions Leading to War Were Wrong
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The key U.S. assertions leading to the 2003 invasion of Iraq -- that Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological weapons and was working to make nuclear weapons -- were wrong and based on false or overstated CIA analyses, a scathing Senate Intelligence Committee report asserted Friday. Intelligence analysts fell victim to ``group think'' assumptions that Iraq had weapons that it did not, concluded a bipartisan report. ...

From Inter Press Service: July 9, 2004
IRAQ: Arms Suppliers Scramble to Feed Hungry Market By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Jul 9 (IPS) - When the 15-member U.N. Security Council legitimised the U.S.-imposed interim government in Baghdad in June, the five-page unanimous resolution carried a provision little publicised in the media: the lifting of a 14-year arms embargo on Iraq. The Security Council's decision to end military sanctions on Iraq has triggered a mad scramble by the world's weapons dealers to make a grab for a potentially new multi-million-dollar arms market in the already over-armed Middle East. The former U.S.-run Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which handed over power to the new Iraqi government Jun. 28, finalised plans for the purchase of six C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft, 16 Iroquois helicopters and a squadron of 16 low-flying, light reconnaissance aircraft -- all for delivery by April 2005. ...

From The Associated Press at MSNBC: 6:35 p.m. ET July 12, 2004
Iraqi president offers amnesty, vows crackdown
Al-Yawer threatens to use ‘very sharp sword’ against insurgents
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi interim President Ghazi al-Yawer said Monday that the government would soon offer amnesty to insurgents, but he also vowed to use a “very sharp sword” against anyone threatening the security of the country. ...

From Salon: [09:26 PDT, July 15, 2004]
Hersh: Children sodomized at Abu Ghraib, on tape By Geraldine Sealey
" ... (Seymour) Hersh gave a speech last week to the ACLU making the charge that children were sodomized in front of women in the prison, and the Pentagon has tape of it. The speech was first reported in a New York Sun story last week ...
Hersh: " ... The women were passing messages out saying 'Please come and kill me, because of what's happened' and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It's going to come out." ... "

From VOANews: 15 Jul 2004, 21:37 UTC
Pentagon Investigating New Cases of Prisoner Abuse By Deborah Tate
A key lawmaker says new allegations of prisoner abuse by U.S. military personnel are being investigated by the Defense Department. The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Republican Senator John Warner, ... "We are still uncovering, as late as this morning, other incidents, other cases, that will be promptly investigated by the Department of Defense, allegations relating to variances to the Geneva Convention, and indeed the rules and regulations of the Department of Defense as regards detainees," he said. ...

From The NYT: July 16, 2004
Congress's Inquiry Into Abuse of Iraqi Prisoners Bogs Down By ERIC SCHMITT
WASHINGTON, July 15 - The Congressional investigation into the abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison has virtually ground to halt, as a senior Senate Republican said Thursday that no new hearings would be held on the matter until this fall at the earliest. The Republican-controlled House Armed Services Committee made it clear weeks ago that it believed that the several current military investigations of the scandal were sufficient, and that summoning commanders to Washington would only hinder American operations in Iraq. That left the issue to the Senate Armed Services Committee, whose chairman, Senator John W. Warner, a Virginia Republican, has held a series of hearings, but none since May 19. On Thursday, Mr. Warner said he would hold off calling any more witnesses until several criminal prosecutions and seven pending Pentagon inquiries were completed. ... "We're not in a position to try to have an independent investigation at this point," Mr. Warner told reporters ... When pressed Thursday to give a schedule of when hearings might resume, Mr. Warner expressed frustration and replied testily: "I can't give you a schedule. Take a look at all those investigations. What can you do until they are finished?" ...

At Common Dreams: JULY 16, 2004 11:05 AM
New Claims of Serious Abuses at Abu Ghraib Surface

From The Independent: 16 July 2004
UN nuclear watchdog challenges Britain to reveal Niger intelligence By Anne Penketh
The United Nations nuclear watchdog yesterday challenged the Government to share intelligence which it used to accuse Saddam Hussein of trying to buy uranium from two African countries for a nuclear bomb. Lord Butler of Brockwell said the Government's claims were "well-founded," after admitting "significant controversy" surrounded the reliability of government statements about Iraqi attempts to buy uranium ore. ... Governments are bound by UN resolutions to submit to the IAEA any information concerning illegal Iraqi weapons. Lord Butler said Britain had "further intelligence from additional sources" in 2002 that Iraqi officials visited Niger in early 1999 to buy uranium ore. ... Lord Butler said. "We conclude that, on the basis of the intelligence assessments at the time, covering both Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the statements on Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa in the government's dossier, and by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, were well-founded." ... IAEA officials have expressed frustration that Lord Butler's team appeared more willing to share information with the press than with the UN body charged with investigating Iraq's nuclear programme.

From The NYT: July 16, 2004
Iraq Premier Forms Security Service to 'Annihilate' Terrorists By Somini Sengupta
BAGHDAD, Iraq, July 15 -Prime Minister Iyad Allawi of Iraq on Thursday announced the establishment of an Iraqi security service to "annihilate" terrorist groups in his country, appealed to countries with large Muslim populations to send troops to Iraq and sought to dissuade any countries from negotiating with hostage-takers. ...

From The Sydney Morning Herald: July 17, 2004
Allawi shot prisoners in cold blood: witnesses By Paul McGeough in Baghdad
Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings. ... The Prime Minister's office has denied the entirety of the witness accounts in a written statement to the Herald, saying Dr Allawi had never visited the centre and he did not carry a gun. But the informants told the Herald that Dr Allawi shot each young man in the head as about a dozen Iraqi policemen and four Americans from the Prime Minister's personal security team watched in stunned silence. ...

From The Independent: 17 July 2004
No 10 admits Hutton cover-up By Colin Brown, Kim Sengupta and Andrew Grice
Downing Street admitted yesterday that MI6 embarked on an unprecedented cover-up after it withdrew intelligence supporting the Government's dossier on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction because it was unreliable. ...

From The BBC: Sunday, 18 July, 2004, 20:29 GMT 21:29 UK
Fourteen killed in Falluja strike
Fourteen people have died in a US air strike on a house in the flashpoint Iraqi city of Falluja, doctors say. Hospital sources said women and children were among the dead. Deputy US Secretary of State Richard Armitage, on a visit to Baghdad, said the strike had been authorised by Iraq's interim government. ... The US military said the latest air strike - the sixth on the city in the past month - was aimed at "a known terrorist fighting position in southern Falluja". ...
"We heard the sound of jet fighters and then we heard four explosions in the house occupied by civilian residents," Lt Saad Khalaf of the police force in Falluja told the Associated Press news agency. ...

Commentary at Today's Alternative News: 07/13/2004
Whitewash from Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and 9/11
By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
The real purpose of a government report is to place the blame where it does the least damage to the political party in office. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's "Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq" carefully follows this time-honored rule. At the July 9 press conference heralding the release of the committee's report, Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kans.) blamed the misinformation used to start a war on a "flawed process" that would be fixed with "reforms." ...
Commentary at Intervention Magazine: July 18, 2004
The Big “Mistake” By Mick Youther
Everybody makes mistakes, but Bush’s “mistake” cost thousands of lives and countless billions of dollars.
( )
Commentary at The Star: Jul. 18, 2004. 01:00 AM
Bushites are trying to rewrite history because they failed to see what millions did:
There was no reason to attack Iraq
Commentary at What Really Happened: Jul 19, 2004 08:29 AM PST
Iraq: The Trail of Disinformation

From Reuters: Tue Jul 20, 2004 05:00 AM ET
Iraq Says It Will Hit at Countries Backing Rebels
DUBAI (Reuters) - Iraq is ready to retaliate against countries it accuses of supporting violence wracking the country, the country's defense minister warned Tuesday. Hazim al-Shaalan mentioned no countries by name but accused old foe Iran of "blatant interference." Iraq has also complained in the past about guerrilla fighters entering the country from Syria. "We are prepared to move the arena of the attacks on Iraq's honor and its rights to those countries," he was quoted as saying by the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper. ...

From AFP at SpaceWar: Jul 21, 2004
Bush green lights arms sales to Iraq
WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President George W. Bush on Wednesday gave the green light to US arms sales to Iraq's fledgling government, which faces deadly insurgent violence nearly one month after assuming power. "I hereby find that the furnishing of defense articles and services to Iraq will strengthen the security of the United States and promote world peace," Bush said in a memorandum for US Secretary of State Colin Powell. ...

From The Guardian: Wednesday July 21, 2004
'Bin Laden wanted invasion' By Nicholas Watt
Britain and the US have guaranteed that the west will face a decade-long war with the forces of Osama bin Laden after the "strategic blunder" of invading Iraq, Robin Cook told the Commons. ...

From The Denver Post at The Tri-Valley Herald: Wed., July 21, 2004 3:36:59am PST
Documents detail wider abuse of Iraqi prisoners By Miles Moffeit and Arthur Kane
Pentagon papers indicate probe of assaults outside of Abu Ghraib prison

From The Washington Post: Thursday, July 22, 2004; 3:20 PM
Army IG Found No 'Pattern' to Detainee Abuse By Fred Barbash
An Army investigation has concluded that the abuse of detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq was the result of individual acts of indiscipline, not of any systemic problem or flawed policy. ...

From The Washington Post: Thursday, July 22, 2004; Page A14
Fearing Big Battle, Residents Flee By Doug Struck
U.S. Weighs Move on Samarra, Now Controlled by Factions
BAGHDAD, July 21 -- Tens of thousands of people have fled Samarra, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, in recent weeks, expecting a showdown between U.S. troops and heavily armed groups within the city, according to U.S. and Iraqi sources. ...

At The Christian Science Monitor: the July 23, 2004 edition
Fallujah parallels in Ramadi By Ann Scott Tyson
A major battle this week in the Sunni Triangle city make it harder for US forces to handover security to Iraqis.

From Reuters: Fri Jul 23, 2004 03:29 PM ET
Egyptian Diplomat Seized by Militants in Iraq By Edmund Blair
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Militants have seized an Egyptian diplomat in Baghdad and demanded that Egypt should not cooperate with U.S.-led forces, Al Jazeera reported Friday. The Arabic satellite television station showed a video tape of Mohamed Mamdouh Qutb -- the first diplomat known to have been abducted in a wave of hostage-taking that has swept Iraq -- sitting in front of six masked men dressed in black. "The group said the abduction was in response to comments by Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif that Egypt is ready to offer its security experience to the temporary Iraqi government," Al Jazeera said. ...
U.S. forces mounted an air strike on Falluja Friday in the latest of a series of such raids targeting suspected guerrillas led by Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, accused by Washington of having links to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda. ... Zarqawi's group has claimed responsibility for many suicide attacks and the beheadings of an American, a South Korean and a Bulgarian. ...
Gunmen assassinated Brig. Gen. Salim Blaish, a senior member of Iraq's fledgling armed forces, as he traveled to Friday prayers in the northern city of Mosul, police said.

From MSNBC News Services: 4:11 p.m. ET July 26, 2004
Egyptian freed, but 5 new kidnappings reported
Two Jordanians, two Pakistanis, Iraqi shown in videos
BAGHDAD, Iraq - An Egyptian diplomat was freed by his captors Monday, but militants in Iraq said they had kidnapped two Jordanians, two Pakistanis and an Iraqi, all of them contract workers for the U.S. military. Egypt's foreign ministry said that Mohammed Mamdouh Helmi Qutb, the third-ranking diplomat at the Egyptian mission in Baghdad, was released in good condition. He had been abducted Friday as he was leaving a mosque. Militants said they had taken him to deter Egypt from sending security experts to help the new Iraqi government. The announcement came just minutes after the pan-Arab television station Al-Jazeera read a statement from the militants saying they had decided to release Qutb because he was a good religious man and had good morals. The group said it had refused to accept large amounts of money to release him, the station said.
In the new kidnappings, a group calling itself the Mujahedeen Corps threatened to kill the Jordanian drivers within 72 hours unless their company, Rami al-Ouweiss, ceased cooperating with U.S. forces. ...

From AP at The Independent: 28 July 2004
Iraq police station bomb 'kills 68' By Paul Garwood
A suicide car bomb today killed 68 Iraqis outside a police recruiting centre in Iraq, said local health officials. The attack in Baqouba, which killed 21 people in a passing bus, was the deadliest bombing in Iraq since the United States transferred sovereignty to an interim government on 28 June. The bombing came amid an intense surge in violence: 35 "insurgents" and seven Iraqi police were killed in clashes southeast of Baghdad, a US soldier was killed in a bomb attack and a police officer was assassinated. ... Iraq's persistent insurgency pushed a Jordanian company working for the US military here to announce Tuesday it was withdrawing from Iraq to secure the release of two Jordanian employees kidnapped by militants. ... Militants have kidnapped more than 70 foreigners, mainly truck drivers, in recent months as part of the 15-month-old insurgency.

At The Independent: 28 July 2004
Baghdad is a city that reeks with the stench of the dead By Robert Fisk

From The Mirror: Jul 28 2004
Ex-dictator's lawyer says he had brain scan and could die
SADDAM Hussein has suffered a minor stroke and could die before his trial, his defence lawyers claim. The multinational legal team is still awaiting permission to visit the deposed Iraqi ruler. ...
At The Daily Record: Jul 28 2004
Saddam's had stroke, say lawyers
Also at Aljazeera: 7/28/2004 6:00:00 PM GMT
Saddam could die before his trial

At Rolling Stone Magazine: Jul 28, 2004
The Secret File of Abu Ghraib By OSHA GRAY DAVIDSON
New classified documents implicate U.S. forces in rape and sodomy of Iraqi prisoners

Commentary at The Guardian: Wednesday July 28, 2004
The real reasons Bush went to war By John Chapman
WMD was the rationale for invading Iraq. But what was really driving the US were fears over oil and the future of the dollar

From Reuters: Thu Jul 29, 2004 11:46 AM ET
Group Vows to Hit Muslims Who Send Troops to Iraq
DUBAI (Reuters) - An Islamist militant group threatened Thursday to attack Muslim countries that send troops to Iraq as proposed by Saudi Arabia and welcomed by the United States. ... The group behind Thursday's message said it was addressed to the Saudi government and Pakistan "who are seeking to send Muslim forces to Iraq to please their masters, the Jews and Christians." ... Earlier Thursday Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who was visiting Saudi Arabia, called on Muslim nations to join a proposed force of Islamic troops in Iraq. ...

From The BBC: Thursday, 29 July, 2004, 15:47 GMT 16:47 UK
Iraq 'is al-Qaeda battleground'
Iraq has become a "battleground" for al-Qaeda with "appalling consequences" for the Iraqi people, MPs have warned. The Commons foreign affairs committee says the failure to establish law and order has created a "vacuum" into which militias and criminals have poured. In a report on the war on terrorism they urge ministers to encourage Muslim countries to send forces. ...

From The Associated Press at The Boston Globe: 7/29/2004 15:41
Britain says human rights law impossible to apply in Iraq By Jill Lawless
LONDON (AP) The British government expressed ''regret and sympathy'' for the deaths of civilians in Iraq, but argued in court Thursday that it would be impossible to apply domestic and European human rights laws in Iraq. ...

From AP at Excite: Jul 29, 7:06 PM (ET)
Saddam Suffers From Prostate Infection By RAWYA RAGEH
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Seven months after being taken prisoner, former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein suffers from a chronic prostate infection but has rebuffed suggestions that a biopsy be performed to rule out cancer, Iraq's human rights minister said Thursday. ... There have been several media reports saying his health was deteriorating, something the U.S. military denied Thursday. "Saddam did not have a stroke, and he is not dead," 1st Sgt. Steve Valley told The Associated Press. He did not provide further information. A Jordanian-based spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, the only neutral entity with access to Saddam, said Thursday the organization had no information about a downturn in Saddam's health. "Saddam's sickness was rumors spread by the media," Mu'in Kassis told The Associated Press. The ICRC said it has visited him at least twice to check on his condition and carry messages to his family. ...

From Xinhua: ( 2004-08-01 01:34:27
Iraq demands return of airplanes from Iran: minister
BAGHDAD, July 31 (Xinhuanet) -- Iraqi Defense Minister Hazim AlShaalan has announced that his country intends to start negotiations with the Iranian government to restore the airplanes smuggled to Iran by the former Iraqi regime, reported Al Sharq AlAwsat newspaper Saturday. The former Iraqi regime transferred a number of military and civil airplanes to Iran during the first Gulf war in 1991 to preserve them from the danger of the air raids of the coalition forces, but Iran refused to return them after the end of the military operations. ...

From AFP at Yahoo: Mon Aug 2,11:49 AM ET
US troops surround Najaf home of Shiite militia leader
NAJAF, Iraq (AFP) - US troops surrounded the home of wanted Shiite Muslim radical leader Moqtada Sadr in the central Iraqi holy city of Najaf, an AFP correspondent witnessed. ...

From Reuters: Mon Aug 2, 2004 01:32 PM ET
U.S. Spies on Iraq's Insurgency Through Eagle Eyes By Luke Baker
BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraqis may not know it, but Big Brother is up there somewhere, watching closely. Patrolling 10,000 feet or more above Iraq's dry, hot expanses, small unmanned spy planes known as UAVs or Predators are helping the U.S. military keep an ever closer watch on anything untoward going on down below. From a concrete hangar at Balad Air Base, north of Baghdad, pilots sitting in soft leather armchairs can home in on the smallest suspect elements anywhere in Iraq, then work with ground forces to try to stifle guerrilla activity. ... At the same time, the planes can be used to monitor Iraq's oil and power infrastructure, keeping an eye on saboteurs who try to blow up pipelines or thieves who steal copper cabling: common events that have greatly disrupted Iraq's reconstruction. ... About 100 Predators have so far been built by General Atomics, a U.S. military contractor, but only about 75 of them are still in operation. The number employed in Iraq is confidential, but several take off each day from Balad, scanning a country the size of France for up to 27 hours at a time. As well being able to relay real-time color images from heights of up to 25,000 feet, the Predators can also be armed with missiles to act as offensive aircraft. Rather than being controlled by pilots in Iraq, they are frequently operated via satellite by people sitting in a bunker in Nevada, back in the United States, from where a decision can also be taken to unleash the plane's Hellfire armaments. With their almost inaudible flight -- the drones are powered by a four cylinder engine similar to a snowmobile and cruise along at 70 knots -- they have been used to stage stealth attacks on suspected insurgent hideouts and the like. ...

From AFP at The Sydney Morning Herald: August 3, 2004
I was right on Iraq, says Bush
Washington - US President George W. Bush defiantly defended the war in Iraq today, saying the invasion was "the right decision" and holding out hope that weapons of mass destruction might yet be found. "Knowing what I know today, we still would have gone on into Iraq. We still would have gone to make our country more secure," he said. He maintained the now-deposed Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein, had posed a threat to global security at the time of the invasion. "He had the capability of making weapons. He had terrorist ties." Mr Bush alleged that Saddam possessed arsenals of chemical and biological weapons before the war, but US-led forces have not found such stockpiles. ... "We all thought we'd find stockpiles of weapons. We may still find weapons. We haven't found them yet," the president said. "But what we do know is that Saddam Hussein had the capability of making weapons. The decision I made was the right decision. The world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power." ...

From The Associated Press in Najaf at The Guardian: Wednesday August 4, 2004
Police kidnapped by Sadr's militia
The radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's militia has kidnapped 18 Iraqi police officers, apparently to force authorities to release detained militants, police said yesterday. The kidnappings took place as Mr Sadr's aides accused authorities of trying to arrest officials in the cleric's Mahdi army. The new tensions appear to threaten a fragile ceasefire. ...

From Aug 5, 2004
Iraqi Cleric Al-Sadr Calls for New Uprising
Baghdad - The radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has called on his followers in Iraq to rise up and fight U.S. troops. The message comes as clashes broke out in at least three cities between his supporters and U.S. and Iraqi security forces. The message went out at midday in the mosques of the impoverished Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, named after the firebrand cleric's esteemed father. Moqtada al-Sadr's representatives said the truce between his followers and the U.S. military is over. ...

From AFP at Yahoo: Thu, Aug 05, 2004 6:58pm ET
Fierce fighting erupts between coalition troops, Shiite militia in Iraq
NAJAF, Iraq (AFP) - Coalition troops backed up by US airpower battled Shiite Muslim followers of a radical Iraqi cleric in the fiercest fighting since a truce was brokered in June. ... Najaf's general hospital said nine people died in the fighting and another 34 were admitted with injuries. The hospital itself was attacked by rockets early Thursday, killing a doctor and seriously wounding four other staff members. ... Sadr spokesman Sheikh Ahmed al-Shaibani said the militia was "ready to confront (US forces) and use whatever means possible" to boot them out of the holy city. In what could be a sign of a fresh coordinated onslaught against foreign troops, Sadr's representative in Iraq's second-largest city, Basra, declared a holy war on British forces after four militiamen were arrested. ... In Baghdad's Sadr City, five people were killed and 58 wounded in fighting between US forces and Sadr's Mehdi Army, the health ministry said. Iraq's US-backed interim government pledged not to negotiate. "We are not going to go into any negotiations. We are going to fight these militias. We have enough power and enough strength to stop and kick those people out from the country," Interior Minister Falah al-Naqib said. ... It was the arrest of one of Sadr's key deputies that helped to trigger the firebrand cleric's first standoff with the coalition last Spring. The latest clashes followed the arrest Saturday by US-led multinational forces of Sheikh Mithal al-Hasnawi, Sadr's representative in Karbala, another Shiite holy city south of Baghdad. ...
Also from AP at Yahoo: Thu, Aug 05, 2004 8:05pm ET
Al-Sadr Militia Battles U.S., Iraq Troops By ABDUL HUSSEIN AL-OBEIDI
NAJAF, Iraq - Militant Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's militia battled U.S. and Iraqi troops Thursday in the holy city of Najaf, sparking clashes in other Shiite areas that killed at least 20 Iraqis and a U.S. soldier. An al-Sadr spokesman threatened a "revolution" unless American forces agree to a new cease-fire. ...

From The Associated Press at The Boston Globe: 8/6/2004 10:37
Rebel Shiite cleric blames ''occupier'' for church attacks, kidnappings in Iraq
By Abdul Hussein Al-Obeidi
KUFA, Iraq (AP) Firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose militia is locked in a fight with U.S. and Iraqi forces, called the United States the enemy of the Iraqi people on Friday and blamed it for all the violence plaguing the country. Iraq's interim government had called America a partner, al-Sadr said in a sermon read for him in the Kufa mosque. ''I say America is our enemy and the enemy of the people, and we will not accept its partnership.'' ... ''I blame the occupier for all the attacks going on in Iraq, such as the attacks on the churches and the kidnappings,'' he said in the sermon read by an aide, Sheik Jaber al-Khafaji. ''America is the greatest of Satans,'' he said, adding that violence was in the interest of foreign troops who want ''to create divisions and to control our dear country'' ... In his sermon, al-Sadr called on his followers to continue the path of jihad or holy war even if he got killed. ...

From The Associated Press at The Boston Herald: Saturday, August 7, 2004
Heavy U.S. air strikes batter Iraqi holy city
NAJAF, Iraq - U.S. helicopter gunships and fighter jets pounded Shiite Muslim insurgents hiding in a sprawling cemetery yesterday in the most intense fighting in this holy city since the fall of Saddam Hussein. The U.S. military said 300 militants were killed in the past two days. ...

From THE ASSOCIATED PRESS at The NYT: August 8, 2004 5:52 p.m. ET
Iraq Issues Warrants for Chalabi, Nephew
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Iraq has issued arrest warrants for Ahmad Chalabi, a former Governing Council member with strong U.S. ties, on counterfeiting charges, and for his nephew Salem Chalabi -- head of the tribunal trying Saddam Hussein -- on murder charges, Iraq's chief investigating judge said Sunday. ...

From AP at the Guardian: Monday August 9, 2004 5:16 PM (UK)
Iraq Cleric Vows Fight to Death Vs. U.S. By ABDUL HUSSEIN AL-OBEIDI
NAJAF, Iraq (AP) - A radical Shiite cleric vowed to fight to the death as his loyalists battled U.S. troops for a fifth straight day Monday, and bombings in Sunni regions outside Baghdad - including a failed attempt to assassinate a deputy governor - killed at least 10 Iraqis. The fighting with Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia began to have economic fallout. Iraq's southern oil company stopped pumping oil to the southern city of Basra - where militiamen were controlling main streets - because of threats to infrastructure, an official with the company said. ... Al-Sadr on Monday vowed to keep up the battle, rejecting calls a day earlier from interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi for the militiamen to stop fighting. ``I will continue fighting,'' al-Sadr told reporters. ``I will remain in Najaf city until the last drop of my blood has been spilled. Resistance will continue and increase day by day,'' he said. ``Our demand is for the American occupation to get out of Iraq. We want an independent, democratic, free country.'' ... In Basra, masked al-Sadr followers patrolled some main streets Monday and set up checkpoints. No Iraqi police or British troops could be seen, witnesses said. The Mahdi Army threatened Monday to take over local government buildings in Basra if U.S. troops did not leave Najaf, and also said they would target oil pipelines and ports in southern Iraq. ...

From JTA: Tuesday, August 10
Franks: Threat on Israel justified pre-emption
The threat of a missile attack on Israel was one reason justifying a pre-emptive strike against Iraq, Gen. Tommy Franks said. Franks, who retired from the U.S. military last year after leading the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, said he supported the Bush administration policy of pre-emption. “The reason we could not afford to give up time is because we wanted the water infrastructure to remain in place,” Franks said Monday at the National Press Club. “We wanted the oil infrastructure in Iraq to remain in place. We did not want to subject ourselves and Israel to the potential consequence of a long-range missile being fired into Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.” Franks also said Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians fuels anti-U.S. resentment in the Middle East.

From AFP at Channel News Asia: 11 August 2004 2205 hrs (GMT + 8 hours)
US military prepares 'major assaults' against Sadr army in Iraq
NAJAF, Iraq : The US military said it was poised to crush a Shiite Muslim uprising, which Iraqi officials have blamed for halving key oil exports, after British forces struck militia bastions in the south of Iraq. Reinforced US forces and Iraqi national guardsmen are preparing for "major assaults" against the Mehdi Army of militia leader Moqtada Sadr, which is hunkered down in the holy city of Najaf, the military said. ...

From AFP at Aljazeera: Thursday 12 August 2004, 22:18 Makka Time, 19:18 GMT
US bombing of Kut kills civilians
Heavy US bombardment of Kut has killed 75 people and wounded 150, one day after clashes between police and Shia fighters in the southern Iraqi city, a Health Ministry official said. ... On Wednesday, Iraqi police and security forces were locked in clashes with fighters who attacked Kut's city hall, police stations and national guard barracks, said a statement from the Polish-led occupation force in the area. ...

From The Guardian: Friday August 13, 2004
Shias call for split from Baghdad By Michael Howard
Shia leaders in southern Iraq yesterday called for a breakaway movement from the central government in Baghdad to protest against the heavy-handed approach to the insurgency. As the health ministry said that at least 172 Iraqis had died and more than 600 had been injured since Wednesday in fighting across southern Iraq, at least two prominent Shia figures called for the separation of some southern governorates from Baghdad. Basra's deputy governor, Salam Uda al-Maliki, said he backed a breakaway as the interim government was "responsible for the Najaf clashes." In Nassiriya, meanwhile, Aws al-Khafaji, the representative of Moqtada al-Sadr, echoed the call. "We have had enough of Baghdad's brutality," he said. "The authorities in Nassiriya will no longer cooperate with Baghdad." He said it was a response to "the crimes committed against Iraqis by an illegal and unelected government, and occupation forces." Such a move, if decided upon by three governorates, could be legal according to the interim constitution, which Shia leaders rejected when it was drawn up last March.
Most of the big cities in southern Iraq have been caught up in the insurgency. Worst affected yesterday was Kut, where at least 72 people died, while fighting also raged in Amara and Diwaniya. Violence also broke out in the Shia districts of Sadr City and Shula in the Iraqi capital, as well as in downtown Baghdad's notorious Haifa street. Thousands of demonstrators in Baghdad, Basra and Nassiriya protested against the Najaf offensive.

From The Telegraph: (Filed: 15/08/2004)
Explosions rock Najaf as talks break down By Neil Barnett and Aqeel Hussein in Najaf
Thousands of demonstrators from across Iraq converged on Najaf yesterday, taking advantage of a truce to march in support of the radical Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr. The marchers, carrying banners and shouting slogans, vowed to liberate the shrine from an American-imposed siege following more than a week of fierce street-by-street fighting. ...

From The Telegraph: (Filed: 15/08/2004)
Rumsfeld escapes blame in 'whitewash' Abu Ghraib report By Julian Coman
A Pentagon report on prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison is being labelled a whitewash before it has even been released. The report is the result of the internal inquiry launched by Gen George Fay in April after the now notorious images of mistreated Iraqi prisoners were broadcast around the world. Critics are arguing that its final conclusions, some of which were leaked last week to the Baltimore Sun, amount to a deliberate cover-up to protect senior military and civilian figures in the Pentagon. Due to be published by the end of the month, the report will call for disciplinary procedures to be launched against up to two dozen military intelligence officers, all of whom arrived at Abu Ghraib last October, when the worst abuses began. But no action against senior military figures will be called for. Even more controversially, the role of the Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, has been judged to be outside the investigation's remit, despite allegations that extreme treatment of prisoners was authorised at the highest levels. ...

From The NYT: August 16, 2004
Iraqi Conference on Election Plan Sinks Into Chaos By JOHN F. BURNS
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 15 - A conference of more than 1,100 Iraqis chosen to take the country a crucial step further toward constitutional democracy convened in Baghdad on Sunday under siege-like conditions, only to be thrown into disorder by delegates staging angry protests against the American-led military operation in the Shiite holy city of Najaf. ... The fighting in Najaf, which resumed Sunday after the Allawi government walked out of truce talks, is part of a wider insurrection across southern Iraq by militiamen loyal to Mr. Sadr, who has cast himself as a tribune of the Shiite underclass and as the leader of a national resistance movement against American troops. ... For weeks, at caucuses across the country, thousands of Iraqis competed for election to the conference, and for the say that would give them in shaping the country's political future. A two-week postponement of the gathering, ordered in hope of broadening participation, did not yield any breakthroughs, particularly in persuading influential Sunni Muslim groups like the Muslim Clerics Association, or Mr. Sadr, to abandon their boycott of the process. ...

From Knight Ridder Newspapers: Sun, Aug. 15, 2004
Offensive resumes in Najaf, prompting desertions of Iraqi troops
By Hannah Allam, Tom Lasseter and Dogen Hannah
BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. and Iraqi forces launched a renewed assault Sunday on Shiite Muslim militiamen in the southern holy city of Najaf in a risky campaign that was marred from the onset by an outcry from Iraqi politicians and the desertion of dozens of Iraqi troops who refused to fight their countrymen. The latest siege began Sunday afternoon, a day after Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's administration announced that fighting would resume after negotiations between government officials and aides to Muqtada al-Sadr failed to end the militant cleric's 10-day rebellion. The failed cease-fire talks, desertions and renewed fighting further undermined Allawi's leadership just as Iraq was poised to take its first step toward free elections by picking a national assembly. More than 100 delegates walked out of a national conference that was hailed as Iraq's first experiment with democracy after decades of dictatorship. Enraged over the fresh violence in Najaf, the delegates left the meeting hall declaring that, "as long as there are airstrikes and shelling, we can't have a conference." ...
Sunday's showdown in Najaf was troubled even before the fighting resumed. Several officials from the Iraqi defense ministry told Knight Ridder that more than 100 Iraqi national guardsmen and a battalion of Iraqi soldiers chose to quit rather than attack fellow Iraqis in a city that includes some of the holiest sites in Shiite Islam. Neither U.S. military officials nor Iraqi government officials would confirm the resignations. "We received a report that a whole battalion (in Najaf) threw down their rifles," said one high-ranking defense ministry official, who didn't want his name published because he's not an official spokesman. "We expected this, and we expect it again and again." ...

At The Telegraph: (Filed: 16/08/2004)
Police expel journalists from Najaf By Adrian Blomfield in Najaf
Police fire at reporters as US tanks roll up to shrine By Adrian Blomfield in Najaf

From The Associated Press at ABC News: Aug. 16, 2004
Iraq Delegates Urge Al-Sadr to End Fight
NAJAF, Iraq — With U.S. tanks rolling closer to a holy Shiite shrine in Najaf, participants at a national conference voted Monday to send a delegation here to coax firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to end his renewed uprising against U.S. forces. ...

From Reuters: Tue Aug 17, 2004 05:54 PM ET
Iraqi Peace Mission Snubbed by Rebel Cleric Sadr By Michael Georgy
NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) - Radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Tuesday refused to meet an Iraqi peace delegation because of "American aggression" as U.S. troops pounded militia positions in Najaf near the country's holiest Islamic sites. ...

From The Herald Sun: 18aug04
Reporters get death threats from police By Stephen Farrell
IRAQI police have threatened to kill every journalist working in the holy city of Najaf, where US forces are locked in a tense stand-off with Moqtada Sadr's Mehdi Army. ...

From The Associated Press at The Boston Globe: 8/18/2004 19:15
Radical Shiite cleric accepts peace plan to end fighting in Najaf
By Abdul Hussein Al-Obeidi
NAJAF, Iraq (AP) Radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr accepted a peace plan Wednesday calling for his militiamen to disarm and leave their hideout in a revered Shiite shrine, raising hopes of ending a battle that has threatened to undermine Iraq's fledgling interim government. ...
From AFP: (19/08/2004)
Sadr camp pledges to disarm after Iraqi government threat; US skeptical
NAJAF, Iraq (AFP) Moqtada Sadr will disarm his militia and leave a holy shrine following a ceasefire, an aide to the radical Shiite Muslim cleric said, hours after Iraq's defence minister threatened to crush his rebellion. But US national security advisor Condoleezza Rice warned that Sadr could not be trusted to keep his word and that he would have to be "dealt with." ... "Sayyed Moqtada Sadr has sent a message to the national conference in which he accepted all the conditions extended to him, but there must be a ceasefire for the steps to be implemented," said one of his aides, Ahmed al-Shaibani. ... On Monday, delegates had passed a resolution calling on Sadr to disarm, abandon the Imam Ali shrine and transform his organisation into a political party. ... Sadr "can't have a militia running the streets," said Rice. "He can't occupy the holiest shrine in Shiadom. He has to be dealt with and I'm quite certain he will be." ...

From Reuters: Thu Aug 19, 2004 01:49 AM ET
Loud Blasts Heard Near Shrine in Iraq's Najaf
NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) - At least five loud explosions on Thursday echoed from near holy sites in the Iraqi city of Najaf where a radical Shi'ite cleric has remained holed up despite earlier agreeing to leave a sacred shrine. ...

From Thu Aug 19, 2004 05:28 PM ET
U.S. Planes Pound Najaf After 'Final Call' to Sadr By Michael Georgy
NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) - U.S. warplanes pounded areas near a shrine early Friday where radical Shi'ite militiamen were holed up after their leader, Moqtada al-Sadr, defied a final demand from Iraq's interim prime minister to disarm. Suspected U.S. AC-130 gunships struck repeatedly against positions held by Sadr's militiamen, sheltering in and around the Imam Ali mosque in Najaf, Iraq's holiest Shi'ite Muslim shrine. ... "This is the final call for them to disarm, vacate the holy shrine, engage in political work and consider the interests of the homeland," interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi told a Baghdad news conference. ... U.S. warplanes also attacked targets in the restive Sunni Muslim city of Falluja west of Baghdad, witnesses said. U.S. warplanes have bombed targets almost daily over the past week in the city of 200,000 people, which is a hotbed of anti-U.S. insurgents. ... The rebellion has badly dented Allawi's authority, killed hundreds and rattled world oil markets. Oil prices hit a new record of $48.75 for a barrel of U.S. light crude. ... White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Sadr had to meet Baghdad's demands. ...

From The Independent: (Filed: 21/08/2004)
American blitz of Najaf fails to break Sadr army
By Toby Harnden at the Imam Ali mosque
Rebels still control shrine By Toby Harnden in Najaf
Insurgents last night remained in control of one of Islam's holiest sites, despite claims by Iraq's interim government that its forces had entered the mosque and made mass arrests...
From Arab News: Saturday, 21, August, 2004 (06, Rajab, 1425)
Sistani Takes Over Mosque By Naseer Al-Nahr
BAGHDAD, 21 August 2004 — Militiamen loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr yesterday removed their weapons from the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf and handed it over to Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric. ... The surprise pullback came a day after Iraq’s interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, threatened to storm the mosque. Throughout Thursday, US warplanes bombed militia positions in the town in fighting that killed 77 people and wounded 70 others. ...
At The Washington Post: Saturday, August 21, 2004; Page A01
Militants Leaving Shrine In Najaf By Karl Vick
Fighters Remain In Walled Plaza

At The Tehran Times: Sunday August 22, 2004
Ayatollah Sistani: Occupiers Should Leave Iraq

At Reuters: Sat Aug 21, 2004 03:43 PM ET
Sporadic Clashes in Najaf, Handover Talks Hit Snag By Michael Georgy
From Reuters: Sat Aug 21, 2004 07:09 PM ET
U.S. Launches Fresh Assault on Sadr Forces in Najaf By Michael Georgy
NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) - U.S. forces launched a fresh assault on Shi'ite rebels in the embattled Iraqi city of Najaf on Sunday after talks on transferring control of the mosque at the center of a two-week siege ran into difficulties. A U.S. military AC-130 gunship unleashed rapid cannon and howitzer fire on positions held by rebels loyal to radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a Reuters witness said. ...

At AlterNet: August 23, 2004
The Thief of Baghdad By Pratap Chatterjee
Missing: one-third of the Pentagon's equipment and $1.9 billion of Iraqi money. Guess who has it?

From The Herald: August 23 2004
Muslims urged to get US ‘filth’ out of Iraq By CAMERON SIMPSON
NEARLY 100 prominent Muslims yesterday called on followers around the world to support resistance to American forces in Iraq and the government installed in June. In an appeal released by the offices of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the 93 figures from nearly 30 nations, from Germany to Indonesia, said the aim should be to "purify the land of Islam from the filth of occupation". ...
Also from Reuters at ABC (AU): Monday, August 23, 2004. 6:14am (AEST)
Senior Muslim figures back Iraqi insurgents
Ninety-three prominent Muslim figures opposed to US troops in Iraq have called on Muslims around the world to support resistance to US forces and to the Iraqi government installed in June. ...

From Reuters: Wed Aug 25, 2004 08:35 AM ET
Iraq's Sistani Returns, Calls for March on Najaf By Michael Georgy
NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraq's most influential Shi'ite cleric made a sudden return to the country on Wednesday and urged Iraqis to march on the "burning city" of Najaf, where fighting is creeping ever closer to its holiest shrine. The call from Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a moderate who has said little about a crisis that has killed hundreds, could sharply escalate passions among the majority Shi'ite community. ... "We ask all believers to volunteer to go with us to Najaf," Sistani said in a statement read out on his behalf in Basra by his aide Hayder al-Safi. "I have come for the sake of Najaf and I will stay in Najaf until the crisis ends." Sistani's aides said he would leave for Najaf at 7 a.m. on Thursday with his supporters. ...
From AFP at the Australian Broadcasting Corp.: Thurs, August 26, 2004 4:23am(AEST)
Sistani returns to Iraq, US forces trap Mehdi Army
Iraq's Shiite spiritual leader has rushed back from abroad to "save Najaf" after United States forces smashed militia defences to trap hundreds of supporters of rebel cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the city's shrine. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani was treated to a euphoric welcome after crossing the Kuwaiti border on his way home from London, where he travelled for medical treatment just as the Najaf fighting began three weeks ago. Tens of thousands from Baghdad and southern Iraq pledged to answer the Iranian-born ayatollah's call to march on the besieged city of Najaf in a mission to resolve the crisis peacefully. ... A senior Shiite official said Sistani wanted all foreign troops and weapons out of the city and for Sadr's Mehdi Army to leave the shrine and the city. ...

From Juan Cole Informed Comment: Wednesday, August 25, 2004 04:20:35 PM
Sistani Returns, Launches March - Sadrist Ceasefire Announced by Juan Cole
" ... If Sistani does lead a popular march of the sort the press is describing, it might be the most significant act of civil disobedience by an Asian religious leader since Gandhi's salt march in British India. And it might kick off the beginning of the end of American Iraq, just as the salt march knelled the end of the British Indian empire."

From Reuters: Wed Aug 25, 2004 06:49 PM ET
U.S. Launches Fierce Air Attack on Rebels in Najaf
NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) - U.S. planes unleashed a fierce attack on rebel targets in Najaf early on Thursday, a Reuters witness said. The air strikes shook Najaf just after U.S. artillery fire and cannon assaults from an AC-130 gunship rattled the Iraqi city of 500,000. ...
From AFP at Aljazeera: Wednesday 25 August 2004, 23:57 Makka Time, 20:57 GMT
Iraqi police seize journalists in Najaf
From Reuters: Thu Aug 26, 2004 01:39 AM ET
Bombing in Town Near Najaf, Many Casualties-Cleric
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Explosions near a mosque in the Iraqi town of Kufa killed and wounded many people on Thursday, a Shi'ite cleric at the scene told Reuters. ...

From the ASSOCIATED PRESS at The Toronto Star: Aug. 26, 2004. 07:26 PM
Sistani, Sadr reach peace deal
NAJAF, Iraq - Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, made a dramatic return to Najaf today and swiftly won agreement from a rebel cleric and the government to end three weeks of fighting between his militia and U.S.-Iraqi forces. The renegade Muqtada al-Sadr accepted the proposal in a face-to-face meeting today with the 75-year-old al-Sistani, Iraq's most influential Shiite cleric. Hours afterward, the government also agreed to the deal. ... Fighting eased after al-Sistani arrived, when the U.S. military and the Iraqi government called a 24-hour ceasefire. ... The five-point plan called for Najaf and Kufa to be declared weapons-free cities, for all foreign forces to withdraw from Najaf, for police to be in charge of security, for the government to compensate those harmed by the fighting and for a census to be taken to prepare for elections expected in the country by January. ...

From Reuters: Thu Aug 26, 2004 11:52 PM ET
Bush Admits Iraq 'Miscalculations' - NY Times
NEW YORK (Reuters) - President Bush acknowledged for the first time on Thursday that he had miscalculated post-war conditions in Iraq, the New York Times reported. ...

From Reuters: Fri Aug 27, 2004 03:03 PM ET
Iraq Rebels Leave Najaf Shrine, Hand in Weapons By Michael Georgy
NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) - Shi'ite fighters left the holiest shrine in the Iraqi city of Najaf Friday and began turning in their weapons, after tens of thousands of pilgrims celebrated a peace agreement that ended a bloody rebellion. Religious authorities locked the doors of the Imam Ali mosque after the Mehdi Army militia of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr left. The fighters had defied U.S. military firepower and the interim Iraqi government for three weeks. Iraq's most revered cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, made a dramatic return to Najaf Thursday and persuaded Sadr to accept a peace deal to halt the fighting, after a day of violence in which 110 Iraqis were killed and 501 wounded.
Militants tossed AK-47 assault rifles and mortar launchers into wooden carts being pushed around near the shrine. Mosque loudspeaker announcements in Sadr's name gave the order. Al Arabiya television said Sadr's representatives had handed over the keys to the mosque, Iraq's holiest Shi'ite shrine. A Reuters correspondent there said Iraqi police took control of the area around the mosque, as envisaged under the deal. Several Mehdi militants refused to give up their guns while some U.S. troops -- who are supposed to leave the southern city in line with the peace deal -- were seen nearby. ...
Tens of thousands of Shi'ites arrived on the outskirts of Najaf Thursday, heeding a call by Sistani to march on the city. Just after dawn Friday, they walked past dozens of pockmarked and destroyed buildings to the mosque. ...

From Washington Post: Saturday, August 28, 2004; Page A01
Najaf Militiamen Surrender Shrine By Karl Vick and Naseer Nouri
Truce Holds as Pilgrims Enter Holy City
NAJAF, Iraq, Aug. 27 -- Militiamen loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr surrendered the sacred shrine of Imam Ali on Friday and then surrendered weapons as well, bringing a largely peaceful end to a ferocious three-week battle with U.S. forces that challenged the authority of Iraq's interim government by holding hostage one of the country's most hallowed places. ...
Several U.S. field commanders said they expected to fight the Mahdi Army again, perhaps in the northeast Baghdad slum called Sadr City, the home of many of the militiamen and the scene of sometimes-intense fighting this month. Iraqi police and U.S. forces set up roadblocks around Najaf and Kufa, which adjoins the holy city to the east, to check departing vehicles for arms. Under the peace deal, only forces of the interim government can operate and possess weapons; the Mahdi Army and foreign forces are to leave. But for now, the U.S. military will remain to monitor compliance, according to a spokesman for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. ... Sistani issued a statement thanking the thousands who answered his summons to march to the shrine. ...

From Aljazeera: Sunday 29 August 2004, 1:23 Makka Time, 22:23 GMT
Shia clerics deny opposing Iraqi resistance
Iraq's top Shia authority is denying media reports that it has opposed armed resistance against the US occupation of the country. Speaking to Aljazeera, Hamid al-Khafaf, the spokesman for Grand Ayat Allah Ali al-Sistani, denied that the Shia authority in a meeting on Saturday expressed opposition to armed resistance. "I confirm that there was no agreement among the Shia religious leaders on not resisting the multinational forces and the news was groundless and false," al-Khafaf said. ...

From The Independent: 29 August 2004
Allawi lets US forces stay in Najaf until Iraqis take control By Donald Macintyre
Baghdad - United States forces will remain in Najaf until the interim Iraqi Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, judges that control of the city can safely be handed over in its entirety to the country's own police and security forces, senior American officials said yesterday. While the formula promoted by the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani for ending three bloody weeks of fighting in Najaf provides for the withdrawal of foreign forces, US Marines and cavalry will keep their tanks, armoured vehicles and troops in defensive positions until Iraqi security forces are fully ready to take over. ...

From The NYT: August 29, 2004
In Western Iraq, Fundamentalists Hold U.S. at Bay By John F. Burns and Erik Eckholm
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 28 - While American troops have been battling Islamic militants to an uncertain outcome in Najaf, the Shiite holy city, events in two Sunni Muslim cities that stand astride the crucial western approaches to Baghdad have moved significantly against American plans to build a secular democracy in Iraq. Both of the cities, Falluja and Ramadi, and much of Anbar Province, are now controlled by fundamentalist militias, with American troops confined mainly to heavily protected forts on the desert's edge. ...

COMMENTARY at Zaman Daily: 08.30.2004 Monday
The Showdown between Sadr, Sistani and the US in Najaf By Ibrahim Al-Marashi

From AFP at Australian Broadcasting Corp.: Tuesday, August 31, 2004 6:18am(AEST)
Sadr orders Iraq-wide cease-fire
Shiite radical leader Moqtada al-Sadr has ordered a nationwide cease-fire and announced his militant movement would join the political mainstream, one of his aides says. "The commander of the Sadr movement, leader Moqtada Sadr, announced today in Najaf the end of all fighting in the whole of Iraq and the integration of his movement in the political process," Sheikh Naim al-Qaabi said. ...
From Reuters: Mon 30 August, 2004 16:49
Sadr calls for ceasefire By Andrew Marshall
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Rebel Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has ordered his militia to end attacks on U.S. and Iraqi government forces and will soon unveil plans to pursue his goals through politics rather than conflict, aides say. ...

From The Associated Press at The Journal Gazette: Mon, Sep. 06, 2004
Hitting ‘no-go’ cities considered By Jim Krane
U.S. wishes to rout rebels before elections
BAGHDAD, Iraq – A U.S. assault on one or more of Iraq’s three main “no-go” areas – including Fallujah – is likely in the next four months as the Iraqi government prepares to extend control before elections set for January, the U.S. land forces commander said Sunday. Army Lt. Gen. Thomas F. Metz’s announcement came after a month that saw attacks on U.S. forces reach an average of almost 100 per day – the highest level since the end of major combat last year. ... The rebel-held western city of Fallujah is the biggest obstacle, he said. The next biggest problem, in U.S. military terms, is Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad – and also in guerrilla hands. Metz believes the easiest of the three trouble spots to regain control is Baghdad’s Shiite Muslim slum of Sadr City. ... Assaults to retake these areas could be done consecutively or simultaneously, Metz said. He said one or more might be solved through negotiations, with leaders warning that their cities face a devastating U.S. offensive if the insurgents don’t stand down. ... The general also said the Americans’ August siege of Najaf could be considered a model for subduing rebel-held areas. U.S. and Iraqi officials consider the three-week battle a success, although it left the Shiite holy city in ruins with hundreds of Iraqi fighters and civilians dead and nine Americans killed. ...

From The Associated Press at ABC News: Sept. 7, 2004
More Than 1,000 Military Deaths in Iraq
U.S. Military Deaths in the Iraq Campaign Passed 1,000 After Spike in Fighting
BAGHDAD, Iraq — U.S. military deaths in the Iraq campaign passed 1,000 Tuesday, an Associated Press tally showed, as a spike in fighting with both Sunni and Shiite insurgents killed seven Americans in scattered clashes in the Baghdad area. ...

From Reuters: Thu Sep 9, 2004 11:54 AM ET
U.S. Forces on Offensive in Iraq Rebel Strongholds By Luke Baker
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S.-led forces launched operations in three Iraqi rebel strongholds on Thursday, killing nearly two dozen insurgents in a town near the Syrian border and bombing targets in Falluja for the third straight day. Troops mounted a major offensive in Tal Afar, a suspected haven for foreign fighters about 60 miles east of the Syrian border in northern Iraq, and went into the tense town of Samarra north of Baghdad, as well as keeping up pressure on Falluja, west of the capital, through air strikes. ...

From AFP at TurkishPress: 9/13/2004
Turkey Threatens To Stop Cooperating With U.S. In Iraq
ANKARA, Sept 13 (AFP) - Turkey, a key NATO ally of the United States, on Monday warned it would halt all cooperation in Iraq if US forces continued attacking the mostly Turkmen populated Iraqi town of Tall Afar, Anatolia news agency said. "I myself spoke to the American Secretary of State (Colin Powell)," Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told journalists here, Anatolia reported. "We stated very clearly that if it continues, Turkey will end its partnership on all areas concerning Iraq." ... Gul condemned what he called "the excessive use of force against civilian populations" in the town that lies 75 kilometers (47 miles) from the Syrian border, Anatolia said. ...
Also from "PA" News at the Scotsman: Tue 14 Sep 2004 5:44am (UK)
Turkey Threatens U.S. over Iraq Casualties

From The BBC: Thursday, 16 September, 2004, 09:21 GMT 10:21 UK
Iraq war illegal, says Annan
The United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has told the BBC the US-led invasion of Iraq was an illegal act that contravened the UN charter. ...
From The BBC: Thursday, 16 September, 2004, 19:47 GMT 20:47 UK
US says Iraq invasion was legal
The US has rejected the United Nations secretary-general's claim that the US-led invasion of Iraq was illegal. ... Authorities in the UK, Australia, Poland, Bulgaria and Japan also rebuffed Mr Annan's claims. Australian Prime Minister John Howard described the UN as a "paralysed" body and said it was incapable of dealing with international crises. ...

From AP at Yahoo: Thu Sep 16, 2:12 PM ET
Group Offers Bush Bleak Iraq Assessment By KATHERINE PFLEGER SHRADER
WASHINGTON - The National Intelligence Council presented President Bush this summer with three pessimistic scenarios regarding the security situation in Iraq, including the possibility of a civil war there before the end of 2005. ...
Commentary at The Guardian: Thursday September 16, 2004
Far graver than Vietnam By Sidney Blumenthal
Most senior US military officers now believe the war on Iraq has turned into a disaster on an unprecedented scale

From AFP at SpaceWar: Sep 16, 2004
Iraq war exerting unprecedented stress on all-volunteer force, general warns
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The war in Iraq has placed the all-volunteer US Army under unprecedented stress, raising concern about whether it will be able to continue to recruit and retain reservists in sufficient numbers, the general who heads the army reserve said Thursday. Lieutenant General James Helmly said the 205,000-strong US Army Reserves has so far met its recruitment and retention goals but it was uncertain whether that will hold next year amid the accumulating pressures of a long military engagement. "We have had the all-volunteer force for 30 years," he said. "It is an immensely strong, capable, robust force. But we have never placed it under the stresses that we're placing on it today, active and reserve." ...

From The NYT: September 19, 2004
U.S. Plans Year-End Drive to Take Iraqi Rebel Areas By DEXTER FILKINS
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Sept. 18 - Faced with a growing insurgency and a January deadline for national elections, American commanders in Iraq say they are preparing operations to open up rebel-held areas, especially Falluja, the restive city west of Baghdad now under control of insurgents and Islamist groups. A senior American commander said the military intended to take back Falluja and other rebel areas by year's end. The commander did not set a date for an offensive but said that much would depend on the availability of Iraqi military and police units, which would be sent to occupy the city once the Americans took it. The American commander suggested that operations in Falluja could begin as early as November or December, the deadline the Americans have given themselves for restoring Iraqi government control across the country. "We need to make a decision on when the cancer of Falluja is going to be cut out," the [unnamed] American commander said. "We would like to end December at local control across the country." ...

From Reuters: Sun Sep 19, 2004 01:12 PM ET
Republicans Criticize Bush 'Mistakes' on Iraq By Randall Mikkelsen
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Leading members of President Bush's Republican Party on Sunday criticized mistakes and "incompetence" in his Iraq policy and called for an urgent ground offensive to retake insurgent sanctuaries. ...

From the Associated Press at The Boston Globe: 9/19/2004 15:15
Number of foreigners taken hostage in Iraq tops 135

Commentary from Juan Cole's Informed Comment: 9/20/2004 06:05:51 AM (GMT?)
Letter to a Marine Reserve Officer By Juan Cole
" ... The Americans seem not to realize it, but it is entirely possible that the Iraqis will mount a nationwide urban revolutionary movement aimed at expelling the US. At that point the US military will be faced with a choice of committing massacres (as the Shah's troops did at Black September in 1978) or leaving. ... My angry comments on Najaf derived from several sources. ... It seems obvious to me that the US military was perfectly willing to storm the Shrine, and indeed many were itching to do so. The Washington Post quoted one Marine as saying that the shrine "might not be there much longer." ... And, it is precisely by injuring these religious feelings that the US hastens the day when the Iraqi public comes out into the streets in the hundreds of thousands and begins the revolution for Iraqi independence."

From Reuters UK: Tue 21 September, 2004 18:59
Bush defends Iraq war at the UN By Paul Taylor
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush has declared Iraq and Afghanistan to be on the road to democracy and stability and said they would become models for reshaping the entire Middle East. In an address on Tuesday to the annual session of the U.N. Nations General Assembly six weeks before the U.S. presidential election, Bush vigorously defended his decisions to invade Afghanistan and Iraq and urged the world to do more to support their reconstruction. "Not long ago, outlaw regimes in Baghdad and Kabul threatened the peace and sponsored terrorists... Today the Iraqi and Afghan people are on the path to democracy and freedom," Bush said. "These two nations will be a model for the broader Middle East," he said, playing down turmoil in both countries as they prepare for elections. ...
From Reuters: Tue Sep 21, 2004 04:47 PM ET
Bush Defends Iraq War at U.N., Asks for Help By Steve Holland
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Two years after warning the United Nations to act against Iraq or risk irrelevancy, President Bush on Tuesday defended the U.S.-led invasion and urged skeptical world leaders to help Iraq become a democracy in the face of a deadly insurgency. In a U.N. speech with election-year overtones, Bush made no apologies about his decision to go to war against Iraq in 2003 without U.N. Security Council backing based on claims Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, which were not found. ...

From Knight Ridder Newspapers Washington Bureau: Tue, Sep. 21, 2004
U.S. raid on al-Sadr office assailed by Shiite cleric By Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson
NAJAF, Iraq - U.S. forces raided the headquarters of radical Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in the heart of the holy city of Najaf on Tuesday and arrested his top advisers in the strongest blow yet to al-Sadr's nationwide insurgency. The pre-dawn raid drew an angry rebuke from the country's top Shiite cleric, whose support is vital to maintaining calm among the country's Shiite majority. "We've informed the Iraqi government of our rejection and our condemnation of American forces for entering the holy city of Najaf and approaching the holy shrine," said a statement released by the staff of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani in Najaf. "We believe there was no justification for such a military measure and hold the interim Iraqi government responsible for what happened." U.S. military and Iraqi officials declined to comment. ... The raid was the third in five days on al-Sadr's deputies and offices. In response to an arrest of a Sadr spokesman Saturday in Baghdad, an Islamist group seized 18 Iraqi national guardsmen and threatened to execute them. Al-Sadr intervened, and the guardsmen were released Monday. ...

At Knight Ridder Newspapers Washington Bureau: Fri, Sep. 24, 2004
More Iraqi civilians killed by U.S. forces than by insurgents, data shows
By Nancy A. Youssef

Commentary at The Moscow Times: Friday, September 24, 2004. Page 116.
Global Eye By Chris Floyd

Commentary at Asia Times: Sep 29, 2004
America's new strategy in Iraq By Michael Schwartz

From ASSOCIATED PRESS at The San Diego Union-Tribune: 1:39 p.m. Oct. 2, 2004
U.S., Iraqi officials declare success in Samarra assault By Zidan Khalaf
125 rebels killed
SAMARRA, Iraq – Afraid to stray from home, residents buried the dead in their gardens Saturday as U.S. and Iraqi forces battled pockets of resistance in this former insurgent stronghold, where the American military said 125 rebels were killed and 88 captured in two days of fierce fighting. The American commander declared the operation a successful first step in a major push to wrest key areas from insurgent control before January elections. ... U.S. and Iraqi commanders said they controlled 70 percent of Samarra after some 5,000 troops – including 2,000 Iraqis and 3,000 Americans – swept into the city early Friday. Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan claimed success, telling the Arab television station Al-Arabiya: "It is over in Samarra." Maj. Gen. John Batiste, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, said he was "very confident that the future of Samarra is good." ...

From Zaman: 09.26.2004 Sunday
Three Shiite Provinces Apply for Autonomy in Iraq By Salih Boztas
Ankara - Three Shiite provinces under the control of British forces in southern Iraq followed the example of the Kurdish region in the north and applied to the Bagdat (Baghdad) administration in order to be recognized as an "autonomous territory". The local administrators of Basra, Amara, and Nasiriye agreed that they wanted to unify and be granted autonomy. Basra Governor, Hasan Rasid reported that they sent their demands to interim Iraq Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. This development, confirmed also by the speaker of the parliament in Amara province, increases the disintegration anxieties of Iraq. ... Suleymaniye, Erbil and Duhok provinces in northern Iraq compose the Kurdish Autonomous Territory. The Kurdish territory, having limited sources of income, reportedly intends to conquer Kirkuk in order to obtain its oil wealth. Basra province, like Kirkuk, sits atop vast oil reserves of Iraq. Three million people live in the territory that is also home to Iraq's only seaport. Iraq Kurdistan Democratic Party (IKDP) leader Mesut Barzani's newspaper, Taakhi, endorsed the Shiites' initiative and called it a "righteous decision". ...
From AFP at Kurdish Media: 30/09/2004
Basra, Missan, Dhiqar seeking to set up federal region due to Iraqi government’s marginalisation of south.
LONDON (AFP) - Iraq’s oil-rich southern provinces are considering plans to set up an autonomous region in a move that could threaten the unity of the country, London’s Financial Times newspaper reported. Officials from the three southern provinces of Basra, Missan and Dhiqar, which account for more than 80 percent of Iraq’s oil reserves, have been holding talks on establishing a federal region in the south, following the example of the Kurdish north, the FT said. ...

From The Associated Press at Tampa Bay Online: Oct 2, 2004
Kurds Demonstrate for Kirkuk's Incorporation in Autonomous Region
SULEIMANIYAH, Iraq (AP) - About 100,000 Kurds demonstrated outside provincial government offices Saturday, demanding that the turbulent, oil hub of Kirkuk be made part of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq. ...
From The Sydney Morning Herald: October 4, 2004
Kurds on march to demand vote on autonomy By Twana Osman in Sulaimaniya
Tens of thousands of Kurds have demonstrated across northern Iraq to demand a referendum on their autonomy a day after three oil-rich provinces announced plans to set up an autonomous region in the south. ...

From Reuters: Sat Oct 9, 2004 08:51 AM ET
Sadr Fighters to Disarm Under Iraq Peace Deal By Mariam Karouny
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A Shi'ite militia led by Moqtada al-Sadr has agreed to disarm in Baghdad under a deal reached on Saturday with Iraq's interim government and U.S. officials, the chief Shi'ite negotiator said. Sadr's militia has staged two uprisings this year. If it disarms, that could help to calm the country ahead of elections, though a Sunni-led insurgency still rages in parts of central and northern Iraq. Karim al-Bakhati, negotiating on behalf of people in Baghdad's Sadr City district, said U.S. forces had promised to stop bombarding the Shi'ite slum area with immediate effect. ...

From AFP at SpaceWar: Oct 15, 2004
US launches major ground, air assault on Fallujah
FALLUJAH, Iraq (AFP) - More than 1,000 US and Iraqi ground troops advanced towards the insurgent-held Iraqi city of Fallujah on Friday in the first land operation after weeks of almost daily air strikes. ... Troops, including one US army and one US marine infantry battalion, with tanks and Iraqi special forces, joined the overnight push on Fallujah, the epicenter of the Iraqi insurgency. "Units are pushing forward... Their mission is to disrupt the enemy's ability to conduct terror attacks in this area of operation, specifically in the city of Fallujah... They'll do whatever it takes to accomplish that," Marine spokesman Lyle Gilbert told AFP. It was the biggest deployment of US ground forces since last April when marines and insurgents battled in Fallujah, leaving hundreds dead. That campaign ended in an inconclusive stand-off. Gilbert would not say if any forces had entered the rebel bastion but called it a major operation. The ground offensive followed a barrage of air and artilley strikes since Thursday. ...
From Reuters: Fri Oct 15, 2004 04:00 PM ET
U.S. Forces Arrest Iraqi Negotiator, Strike Falluja By Terry Friel
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. forces arrested Falluja's chief negotiator on Friday after air strikes on the rebel-held city that the U.S. military said were part of a drive to thwart attacks in Iraq during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. ... Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi threatened on Wednesday to attack Falluja unless its people handed over militants loyal to Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, said to be holed up there. ... The military denied the bombing campaign was a prelude to a full-scale assault to wrest Falluja from rebel hands. "This is part of ongoing operations in Falluja. It is not the beginning of a major offensive," a U.S. spokeswoman said. ...

From The BBC: Tuesday, 19 October, 2004, 11:44 GMT 12:44 UK
Bush: I would accept Islamic Iraq
US President George W Bush has said he would accept an Islamic government in Iraq as the result of free elections. Mr Bush told the Associated Press in an interview that he would accept such a result if elections were open and fair. "I will be disappointed. But democracy is democracy," he said during an interview given on Air Force One. "If that's what the people choose, that's what the people choose," he said. Free elections are expected in the country next January. Speaking as he travelled between campaign stops, Mr Bush said the US would leave Iraq "once we've helped them to get on the path of stability and democracy". ...

From The NYT: October 25, 2004
Huge Cache of Explosives Vanished From Site in Iraq
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 24 - The Iraqi interim government has warned the United States and international nuclear inspectors that nearly 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives - used to demolish buildings, make missile warheads and detonate nuclear weapons - are missing from one of Iraq's most sensitive former military installations. The huge facility, called Al Qaqaa, was supposed to be under American military control but is now a no man's land, still picked over by looters as recently as Sunday. United Nations weapons inspectors had monitored the explosives for many years, but White House and Pentagon officials acknowledge that the explosives vanished sometime after the American-led invasion last year. ...

From Associated Press at Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Wed., Oct. 27, 2004 8:26 p.m.PT
Signs point to imminent showdown in Iraq By ROBERT H. REID

From Azzaman: 2004-10-30
Israeli secret agents liquidate 310 Iraqi scientists By Mustafa Amara
More than 310 Iraqi scientists are thought to have perished at the hands of Israeli secret agents in Iraq since fall of Baghdad to US troops in April 2003, a seminar has found. The seminar, held in Cairo, was attended by politicians, journalists and experts with an interest in current Iraqi affairs. ...

From The Washington Post: Sunday, October 31, 2004; Page A01
U.S. Hopes To Divide Insurgency By Bradley Graham and Walter Pincus
Plan to Cut Extremism Involves Iraq's Sunnis
Facing an entrenched insurgency in Iraq whose ranks have grown significantly over the past year, the Pentagon has devised a new military strategy aimed at driving a wedge between various factions, defense officials said. The strategy stems from what the officials said is a deeper understanding of an insurgency that has gained strength in recent months and proved tougher and more resilient than expected. Once viewed as little more than a few thousand embittered remnants of Saddam Hussein's government, the hard-core militants in Iraq are now estimated by senior U.S. military officers to number as many as 12,000. ... The new Pentagon plan, devised over the summer, centers on enticing more Sunnis into the political process while targeting the Islamic extremist groups for elimination. ...

From The Associated Press at MSNBC: 2:56 p.m. ET Oct. 31, 2004
377 tons small part of absent Iraq explosives
Missing prewar stockpiles may total 250,000 tons
VIENNA, Austria - From the deserts of the south and west to the outskirts of Baghdad, Iraq is awash in weapons sites — some large, others small; some guarded, others not. Even after the U.S. military secured some 400,000 tons of munitions, as many as 250,000 tons remain unaccounted for. ...

From Newsweek at MSNBC: Nov. 8 issue
Hell To Pay By Rod Nordland, Babak Dehghanpisheh and Michael Hirsh
Whoever wins, the road ahead in Iraq is rough. Both Bush and Kerry have plans that depend on newly trained Iraqis. But insurgents are killing recruits, and infiltrating the forces. A report from the front
... Now the Marines and their Iraqi protegés are gearing up for the biggest offensive in Iraq since April. Barring an unexpected breakthrough in talks with local leaders, a long-awaited attack on the insurgent strongholds of Fallujah and neighboring Ramadi may come as early as this week, shortly after the American presidential election. Fighting is expected to continue at least until December, U.S. officials say. ... And so the bloody battles of the Iraq war—which never quite ended—are about to start up again in full force. ...
... For months the American people have heard, from one side, promises to "stay the course" in Iraq (George W. Bush); and from the other side, equally vague plans for gradual withdrawal (John Kerry). Both plans depend heavily on building significant Iraqi forces to take over security. But the truth is, neither party is fully reckoning with the reality of Iraq—which is that the insurgents, by most accounts, are winning. Even Secretary of State Colin Powell, a former general who stays in touch with the Joint Chiefs, has acknowledged this privately to friends in recent weeks, NEWSWEEK has learned. The insurgents have effectively created a reign of terror throughout the country, killing thousands, driving Iraqi elites and technocrats into exile and scaring foreigners out. "Things are getting really bad," a senior Iraqi official in interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's government told NEWSWEEK last week. "The initiative is in [the insurgents'] hands right now. This approach of being lenient and accommodating has really backfired. They see this as weakness." ...
... Throughout much of Iraq, but especially in the Sunni Triangle at the heart of the country, U.S. troops are unable to control streets and highways, towns and cities. And allied Iraqi troops are simply not numerous, well trained or trustworthy enough. ...

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