Friday, February 18, 2005


Journalists and Terrorists

Most violence in present day Iraq is generally attributed to ‘insurgents’. It seems that in most people’s minds in America, the word ‘insurgents’ means only one thing: ‘terrorists’.

I have often wondered how this conviction took hold of these people’s minds. I can only find one answer: the mass media. But this is only a partial answer!

I don’t know exactly how many daily acts of violence are taking place these days. But we were told that before the elections the figure was around 100. (My personal belief is that the actual figure is higher.) We are further told that around 80 of these acts are directed at the US army. But which ones do you get on your news? Mainly acts of terrorism. It’s the media.

Many wrong things have been done in Iraq by a multitude of parties. Many Iraqis knew of these things. But it is the mass media that can make the international public aware of them. Examples are many. The few that caught the attention of people worldwide, such as Fallujah, the devastation of Najaf and Abu Ghraib… have been exposed by the media.

It only stands to reason that any patriotic force operating in Iraq in opposition to what they see as an occupation should desire maximum media exposure of what is happening on the ground. This would serve their purpose of exposing wrongdoing and making people aware of the resistance to the occupation to rally support for their cause. It is in the interest of any such national resistance to have maximum media coverage.

The result of the lack of such coverage was that the resistance was associated in the minds of many people (even inside Iraq) with acts of terrorism… those acts that get media coverage. That certainly does not serve the purpose of such a resistance movement.

All this leads one to think that it would be a central objective of the resistance not to attack the media and the journalists working inside Iraq. But the media and those journalists have been viciously attacked for the past two years. Some of those attacked were people who were dedicated to giving the world a better picture of what was going on in Iraq, at considerable personal risks.

I have mentioned in a previous post that the nature and magnitude of attacks on Iraqis going to polling stations on Election Day had clearly separated the terrorists form the national resistance. I now contend that attacking the media and journalists is another parameter.

Who has been abducting the journalists? I hope that the answer to this question is evident by now. Some people may still argue that there is no such thing as a nationalistic resistance in Iraq and that all those people are terrorists and fanatical suicide bombers. They are entitled to their opinion of course. But the consequences of such a view to both Iraq and America can be disastrous.

Another, equally important question that is more difficult to address, naturally follows: Who has been attacking the media in Iraq and making its work of covering events on the ground more difficult? … and why?


Look at their actions, not their words. The fact that these groups negotiate the exchange of the journalists for cash shows they are criminals, nothing more, nothing less.

Abu Khaleel,

I think its a great idea to take a hard look at the insurgency to see if we can form a clearer picture of who they are and what they want.

It has been almost two years since the US/coalition overthrew Saddam in an invasion that the majority of people on earth (and their governments) opposed. All of these countries have media outlets that we can assume would be happy to find a champion in Iraq that justified their position. An insurgency group that had a platform that presented an alternative to the US/current Iraqi government goal of stabilizing and rebuilding a democratic Iraq.

But there is nothing. They attack US forces, they attack Iraqi government forces, they attack Iraqi civilians, they destroy infrastructure, they reject electoral participation.

The reason many people default to an opinion that the 'insurgents' are illegitimate is that they have not made a legitimate case for themselves. They don't seem to have a 'story' other than the odd US atrocity that gets far more media coverage than their own atrocities.

You live in Iraq - right? Please explain to us who the insurgents are, and what their vision is for a future Iraq.

We can then compare their claims, if they indeed have any, to the reality of their actions.

Are you whining that the insurgents (a noble, patriotic anti-imperialist resistance) are not getting good press? I do not accept the premise that a Machiavellian opponent is masquerading as the resistance and deliberately targeting journalists to tilt press coverage against the nationalistic resistance.

The terrorists are Sunni Jihadist. A great many of the nationalistic resistance reflect the remnants of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime. They were criminal thugs yesterday; they are criminal thugs today. The true patriots of Iraq took to the polls on January 30th.

Strategy PageIraqi and coalition forces are getting hit with 50-60 attacks a day. Most of these are ambush type attacks that result in no casualties. Dozens, sometimes over a hundred, of the attackers, or suspects, are arrested every day. Interrogations of these men, and examination of documents seized, indicates that there is no one anti-government organization behind the attacks. But the attackers are not broad-based either.

The "resistance" is spontaneous in the sense that many Sunni Arab Iraqis will, because they have guns and an opportunity, take a shot at Iraqi security forces or American troops. If the Iraqi cops in the neighborhood are Kurdish or Shia Arab, a bunch of local guys will agree to just up and kill one of "them."
Is there any truth to this?

Abu Khaleel,

"We are further told that around 80 of these acts are directed at the US army. But which ones do you get on your news? Mainly acts of terrorism. It’s the media."

The media often discusses the number of attacks on US troops. They show graphs whose intent is to identify trends in insurgent activity. Every casualty is promptly reported.

Very often these attacks just don't represent stories. The attacks are not effective. A few pot shots at a patrol with no injuries or casualties does not make for exciting news. If on the same day an insurgent blows up a bunch of civilians at a church/mosque, it gets more traction.

I think the biggest proof that the 'freedom fighters' are really just violent thugs, terrorists, sunni extremists, etc., is exactly because they have no story.

Even when the media tries to give them coverage, and spin stories in their favor (i.e. elections can't take place because of legitimate insurgency), it turns out not to be true.

I got two suspects that come to mind. The bush mafia and sharron the butcher. They make no secret of their rights to quash decent. And since the Stalinist bush and his mentor sharron the butcher were behind the Communist Manifesto for the AntiAmerican unPatriot assult on Freedom and Democracy they call it Patriot Act ain't that a hoot!

Tucked way down deep they wrote laws to not only take the Americans freedom of speech and free press away, they insisted on appointing the DOD as World Press Censor. And they gave themselves the power to take any action necessary to convince all countries that it would be to their advantage to not promote Anti bush/sharron news. Even if they had to use force.
The world must only allow Pentagon approved press coverage to make the world believe we are only trying to promote Peace in the Mid East. However as in Orwell's 1984, and my favorite Animal Farm, peace is bushspeak for WAR.

This policy in written in their back room bunkers. The Democrats and Republicans signed this document into law without reading it. Don't take my word, go to and see for your selves.

The free press has been the targets. Cowards like bush/sharron go after easy prey, like children, and reporters. rummy has just about shut Al Jeezera down, I just read they are to be on the privatized chopping block.

Yes, I believe these two terrorist are killing off anyone that dares report on their war crimes. But the witness have spoken out as they did in the prison abuse.

I also believe the two terrorist killed the gentleman that they blame on Syria. Why would I believe they know it was Syria so quickly? After all they lied on wmd, haven't caught bin laden either, the poor "Intelligence" and I use that word with contempt, since bush is the intelligence FAILURE, not his cia and fbi flunkys, was with der leader. He is now being snitched out by the cia and fbi x employees that warned him of 911 and he went on another vacation and fired the only ones that were intelligent to connect the explicit dots. bush is very proud to brag about not reading. After all god speaks to his gut, and we know what his gut told him to do!

He and his evil partner in terror sharron will some day get caught in their own web of terror. Too many know the truth, and they are now singing loud.

There is lots of evil people in the world, however, what is so disgusting about these two serial killers is the fact they say they are peace loving. I don't know about Jewish teachings, but bush claims Christ is his leader. Well, Christ never murdered anyone. And he taught Peace with his actions. He never used napalm on poor innocent people to give them peace. So if bush is christian, I'd rather go to hell.

Democracy my ass. Check out Riverbend's post today. You anti American bush nut's go walk a mile in an Iraqi womans shoes now since the elections most likely will put them in the back of the bus. Before we "liberated" Iraq, the Iraqi women were more liberated than lots of American women today. But since der leader can't be bothered with Culture or facts of everyday peoples lives, he brags about liberating women! Well, maybe it's time for the Suffragettes to return and teach the liberator some freedom lessons since he screwed them out of the freedom they had before he sold their rights to some cia puppet and oil company.

Oh bush has been after venezuela's Chavez oil. He's using the private owned by the wealthy media to again try to overthrow an elected govt.

We've seen this old movie many times. Oh, and he failed already 3 or 4 times with his attempted coup!!! Ha!

Peace is not war
bush is not a peace man

I'm still praying for you AK. You are so level headed in this mess. I hope I can maybe get some of your strength because you could teach us all a thing or two. I do admire you, please feel free to send your strength and faith my way. I'm getting hot headed again. If they don' lock that moron up in jail soon, I'm pulling my hair out. I don't look good bald.

your friend

Abu Khaleel, I think that the journalists are kidnapped for $$$ and terrorist propaganda.

Hello Abu Khaleel,
One reason for the crime wave is the +50% unemployment rate. Of course, if Iraq was a nation of choirboys we could roll our eyes and act appalled, but $1000 to shoot or kidnap somebody is serious money. Trickle down thru US military is humiliating. Withdraw US troops from the cities and turn on the reconstruction money machine on your way out.

I think there are several driving groups behind the insurgency, and none of them want a democratic Iraq. But they will definitely play the 'freedom fighter' card and manipulate the emotions of the Iraqis who end up serving as their hired guns.

The previous 'anon' was certainly correct that money and crime are big drivers here. He wants the US to 'turn on' the reconstruction money before the door bruises our backsides on the way out...

But it is rather tragic that reconstruction has in many cases stalled precisely because of the precarious security situation that the 'freedom fighters' are causing.

The people driving the insurgency know this.

Anon: I believe the unemployment rate in Iraq is closer to 70%.

CPA, MAKE THEM PAY! If they don't return what they stole, prison hard labor should be punishment. Huntsville bush's favorite death camp. Touche!
And the insurgents as some of the bush brainwashed like to call them, when they aren't calling them terrorist are Iraqi's with plenty of anger at their occupiers. Torture and rape rooms are now used against them by the ones using the "freedom fighter card" the ussof a. What saddam did to them is now being done by the liberators. Oh and under saddam they had power and water. We on the other hand were claiming to be the good guys. Another lie. We stole Iraqi money and gave bags and bags of their money to contractors. I'd be shooting the looters that tried to loot my own self. Who wouldn't. What's the use of NRA if you can't defend your self? Reconstruction didn't stop because of insurgents, it stopped because of greedy war profiteers that promised the moon, and jobs. But I bet anyone would become an insurgent to fight the freedom haters destroying and stealing without "christian" shame.

What Iraqi's need is their own NRA!! That is fighting fire with fire!
Thats what american freedom is really about. Guns, guns, and more guns. Do unto others as bush likes to say. It's equal rights that make freedom free :-)

Charles, you gonna send your kids to Iran whenever boss bush sounds the call to arms? Heck, you can even fight for what ever the excuse is too. They had and 84 year old man in paper that they offered 30,000 bucks to re=enlist. He got out of service back when truman was President. They must need all able or unabled bodied to come to the aid of Exxon, cause they sent him 2 invites to fight for corporate donors and spread more democracy cause it's good to be free like us and Iraq. Maybe your wife can join up. Make it a family value war. That's the american christian duty don't ya think?

I can't join in the fun, little case of dejavu

Remember this?

The intelligence unit, known as Battalion 316, used shock and suffocation devices in interrogations. Prisoners often were kept naked and, when no longer useful, killed and buried in unmarked graves.

Newly declassified documents and other sources show that the CIA and the U.S. Embassy knew of numerous crimes, including murder and torture, committed by Battalion 316, yet continued to collaborate closely with its leaders.

In order to keep U.S. dollars flowing into Honduras for the war against communism in Central America, the Reagan administration knowingly made a series of misleading statements to Congress and the public that denied or minimized the violence of Battalion 316.

These are among the findings of a 14-month investigation in which The Sun obtained formerly classified documents and interviewed U.S. and Honduran participants, many of whom - fearing for their lives or careers - have kept silent until now.

Here we have even more Freedom american style. Iraqi's have seen some of our freedoms points of interest, but there is so much more liberation by uss of a can give,0,3704648.story

They hate us for our freedom. Go shopping everyone!

Dear Abu Khaleel,
A most timely post, given the aftermath of the elections and what keeps happening, as for instance the increasing sectarian bombings and attacks against Shiite civilians, in the West purported to be the work of ‘Sunni Salafis’ (!!!), and the kidnapping (while she was going to interview the Fallujah refugees) and video of Italian anti-war journalist Giuliana Sgrena (who will, I’m very afraid, end up like Margaret Hassan).
You – and most reliable Iraqi & foreign witnesses, and common sense besides – maintain that there is an Iraqi nationalistic resistance to the occupation, made up of course of former Baathists of different factions, but in greater numbers by other Iraqi nationalists, by traditionalist Salafis, by leftist anti-imperialist factions, plus many, many apolitical Iraqis who resent the foreign occupation of their land, or had some relatives killed or maimed by the US military, and who want the US out. The members of this national resistance are undoubtedly those who downed most of the nearly 1,500 US troops killed up to the present.
The picture given by Western media (on US tips) is completely different: there is no resistance but only terrorists, a crazy gang of Wahabi al-Qaidists suicide bombers (supported by a few cynical Saddamist spooks from the former regime) killing mainly Iraqi civilians and beheading hostages in order to impose their tyranny on the common Iraqis, who are – through the IP & ING, and now through their vote - supporting the continuing occupation (LOL!), or in order to cause civil war (why? out of sheer despite at the onward march of ‘democracy’, is the answer given by the ‘Charleses’ of Western media).
Leaving aside for a second the identity of the perpetrators of these latter actions, there is indeed a problem of information on the part of the Iraqi national resistance. They seem to be completely unable to inform the international media properly, or to disown radically and with clarity some actions not made at all, I suspect, by the Iraqi resistance. As I wrote to you months ago, for instance the ‘Resistance Reports’ published by Islammemo are little more than triumphalist propaganda (contrary to what our friend Alvaro Frota says, in the few cases I was able to check their content about a specific incident against what some other anti-occupation witness reported about the same incident, I found them to be altogether untrustworthy – see, for instance, some weeks ago, how the bomb at the Australian Embassy was reported by Islammemo and how it was reported instead by Dahr Jamail, who was on the very spot). I imagine it has to do with the nature of the Iraqi resistance, that is mainly spontaneous, composed by a great number of local small groups just doing their actions locally, without a national network or a common political expression. By now they should create that national network, and a political front: either to lead the resistance on in the struggle, or, if it is possible, to negotiate in view of a national reconciliation with the new elected Government. You see, when something like the Hassan or the Sgrena kidnapping happens, the condemnation of the deed by the Assembly of the Sunni Ulemas is not enough to give the lie to US-friendly media outlets: being the resistance so very fragmented, who can tell that they are talking on behalf of all groups, or exclude that some unknown local group has done that action? As you write, “It is in the interest of any such national resistance to have maximum media coverage. The result of the lack of such coverage was that the resistance was associated in the minds of many people (even inside Iraq) with acts of terrorism…”.

As for those who are actually “abducting the journalists” and trying to provoke civil war by sectarian bombings, as you write “the answer to this question is evident by now”. Actually it should have been evident since the beheading of the American Berg, some anti-war young man whose abduction and murder in April 2004 did most timely put in second place, in the eyes of the American public, the shock of the Abu Ghraib torture and rape scandal. False flag operations, covert death squads, ‘psy-ops’ of a very dirty nature have been a trait of US strategy all through the world, like in the Vietnam of the Fifties (read ‘The Quiet American’, the excellent novel by which Graham Greene – and British MI6 – spilled the beans), in Central America (where Negroponte was active), or in the Italy of the years 1968-80. One has to keep in mind that apart from the US military & secret services there are in Iraq a veritable army of between 30 and 50 thousand foreign mercenaries (some of them Israelis), not to mention Allawi’s ‘Baathists who turned’… In the beginning this sort of operations was, I suppose, useful to discredit the Iraqi resistance, branding it as ‘terrorism’. Now I’m afraid the agenda might be worse: to engineer some sort of Shiite-Sunni civil war, what is needed to maintain the military occupation of Iraq. Indeed the present spin is that the US occupation has to continue ‘in order to avert civil war’.
Again, the real Iraqi resistance should now put its own house in order, finding a common and loud voice; and do it fast.

I seem to recall a report from an Australian journalist who was kidnapped last year. His captors, a small and evidently opportunist group, became convinced of his neutrality, but before releasing him they referred to higher up. The first visitor was also convinced, but the next scary hardline guy wasn’t, and wanted the journalist handed over to him. However the original captors decided to let him go anyway, apparently without much fear of repercussions from above.
Reinforces the impression, which some recent US Army reports seem to support, of a largely "headless" insurgency. Is this easier or harder to deal with than one with a conventional chain of command?
Reminded also of the AP report on the wedding massacre at Makr Al Deeb, when a tribal relative of those killed swore that "for each one of ours, ten of theirs will die." Wonder what his score is up to now? Abu can maybe comment, to the Arab culture how important is payback or revenge for a wrong - does the impulse fade with time or get stronger? This would relate to the increasing pointlessness of the insurgency: if it is mainly diehard Baathists, on a strategic level they must know that they can’t "win" in the sense of defeating both the US troops and the Government troops once the latter gain greater legitimacy following the election. But if you’ve been offended enough, fighting to the bitter end may be the only aim? And presumably you don’t give a damn about world opinion and media reports.
Also depends of course on what is meant by "win." There seems to be a tendency now to measure the insurgency in terms of "attacks per day," currently running in the 80 to 100 range.
For US forces to begin significant withdrawals, if that’s what they want to do, what is an acceptable figure - 50, 20, zero?
Perhaps the combined forces can do it, but could it be that in terms of innocent casualties in the Sunni areas, the bloodletting has only just begun?
Abu can’t answer this, and I shouldn’t ask him, but what would he do if a wounded tribal relative showed up on his doorstep, seeking refuge? Turn him away? Turn him in? Or help him?

"a largely "headless" insurgency. Is ... easier ... to deal with than one with a conventional chain of command" -

At least from a strategic 'value' sense. A headless insurgency is still violent and difficult to control from a tactical perspective.

If there was a legitimate unifying platform for the different groups - jihadis, sunni extremists, baathists, thugs, etc., they would have unified by now. Their failure is precisely because there is no fundamental positive rallying cry. 'US get out!' is empty negative rhetoric in the absence of some follow up reason. All these groups have their reasons, but they cannot be publicly iterated because they will not be broadly supported.

Get out so we can have our power back!

Get out so we can make more money!

Get out so we can impose radical islamic dogma!

Get out because we deserve to rule!

Stay so we can kill you!

Get out because we do not want democracy in Iraq to threaten our regimes!

Some of the groups are probably very well organized and well financed, and no doubt they try to help some other groups. They pay people to attack the US/IP/ING and disgruntled Iraqis do it for the sake of bounty.

Revenge killings seem to be a partial motivator. I think its not even necessarily an arab sentiment. If you killed my brother, I might want to return the favor. But that certainly doesn't explain everything. In the case of Iraq, arabs have killed far more arabs than the US has.

"they must know that they can’t "win" in the sense of defeating both the US troops and the Government troops once the latter gain greater legitimacy following the election."

Maybe that is why they didn't want elections? I think the turning point was reached on election day. It may take a while to sink in, some may never accept it (because they have nothing to lose), and some may just be in it to settle old scores, but support will wane, money will dry up, and many of the fighters will see that there are better alternatives to violence.

"Also depends of course on what is meant by "win." "

If their goal was purely to see the US leave, then they should pick up a shovel and do something to help rebuild the country. The less violence, the quicker the US can go. Once the insurgency becomes a purely tactical issue, and Iraq has sufficient forces to provide security, then the Iraqi government will ask the US to begin removing troops.

Thank goodness for your blogging because I get a minimal amount of information on what Iraq is really like from the American media.

Feb 18 By Ken Dilanian, Knight Ridder Newspapers, BAGHDAD, Iraq
American soldiers barged into the house at midnight. A bomb had exploded on the highway out front earlier that day, killing an Iraqi national guardsman.
"I want some answers," Sgt. 1st Class Glenn Aldrich demanded through an interpreter as he shoved the homeowner out his front door. The man's wife and children watched, sobbing, from a side room.
Hadn't this guy seen something? The Iraqi swore to God he hadn't.
As two soldiers with rifles stood by, Aldrich yelled into the man's face and whacked the ground with a metal baton that the Americans called a "haji-be-good stick."
"If I'm out here, and I get shot at, I'm shooting every house near me!" Aldrich, 35, yelled in his booming former drill sergeant's voice. "Because you aren't helping me catch the bad guys, and if you're not helping me, you are the bad guy."
The man stared back blankly, and Aldrich let him walk back into his house. The Americans stormed into four other homes on the block, with similar results.
After nearly 11 months in Iraq, the soldiers of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, still couldn't tell friend from foe. Frustrated by a culture they didn't understand, and tired of having friends blown up, they often felt compelled to play bad cop, even though they knew that harsh measures risked creating more enemies.
"Every time we kill one of them, we breed more that want to fight us," Aldrich said. "We end up turning neutral people against us. It's not really our fault, though, because I have to defend myself."
His men weren't always rough. Sometimes Charlie Company soldiers were pictures of restraint, and when the need arose, they improvised, taking up the role of negotiator, social worker or neighborhood fixer.
Even Aldrich, who often played the "big mean guy," as he put it, would take time to play basketball with a resident or laugh with some children.
"What's really hard is the fine line between the bad guys and the good guys," said Staff Sgt. Riley Flaherty, a lanky, fast-talking character from Ohio. "Because if you piss off the wrong good guys, you're really in trouble. So you've really got to watch what you do and how you treat the people."
On another day, however, Flaherty saw it differently. "These people don't understand nice," he said. "You've got to be a hard-ass."
Such contradictions are understandable.
The troopers of Charlie 1-8 Cav arrived in Iraq with almost no training in Arab culture or guerrilla war. In January they had just two interpreters, one of whom barely spoke English. Patrols without interpreters were disasters waiting to happen. One such patrol began randomly searching houses on a whim after midnight one night. The residents turned out to be Christians- more likely to be the targets of terrorist attacks than the perpetrators.
"Why, mister, why?" one woman in a nightgown asked. The soldiers could only shrug and leave.
Aldrich recounted how a group of soldiers used fists and an electric stun gun to punish an Iraqi teenager who'd flashed his middle finger.
"I've got 200,000 Iraqis I've got to control with 18 people," Aldrich said, referring to his platoon's patrol sector. "So I've got to command respect. And unfortunately, all that hearts and minds stuff, I can't even think about that."
At another point he added: "There are things I have to do out here that I can't explain to my chain of command, and that the American people would never understand."
The hundred or so troops of Charlie 1-8 Cav spent their days patrolling their sector in groups of two or three armored Humvees. Occasionally a tank or two would come along.
All day long, the soldiers pointed their guns at Iraqi civilians, whom they called "hajis," the Iraq war's version of "gooks" in Vietnam and "skinnies" in Somalia.
Wary of ambushes, they rammed cars that got in the way of their Humvees. Always on the lookout for car bombs, they stopped, screamed at, shoved to the ground and searched people driving down the road after curfew - or during the day if they looked suspicious.
Iraqis who didn't stop at warning shots when they approached a Humvee in the middle of the night were met with a hail of gunfire. Sometimes the dead were clearly civilians, and sometimes they were clearly insurgents. Often there was no way to tell.
The soldiers had concluded that most Iraqis lacked the courage to stand up to the insurgents, and it angered them.
"I mean, everybody in this country has a weapon. Somebody is setting up a mortar tube in your front lawn - do something! Call somebody! Shoot `em!" said Charlie Company's commander, Capt. Rodney Schmucker, 30, a West Point graduate from Latrobe, Pa., near Pittsburgh.
Early in their tour, someone from Charlie Company thought he saw gunshots from a roof while he was manning a defensive position along one of the base walls. The troopers poured heavy weapons fire into the house.
The next morning, soldiers arrived to find several female members of a family dead - and one little girl alive, clinging to her dead mother. Some of the men broke down in tears, the soldiers said.
"I will never forget that girl raising her head up," said Staff Sgt. Victor Gutierrez of Los Angeles. [And the silly Capt. thinks after that action people are going to tell him about the resistance? They are the resistance. And rightly so. And you, Capt., are a Redcoat officer. Simple as that.]
The girl was flown to a hospital, where doctors saved her life.
Aldrich recounted the story matter-of-factly. Asked if the unintentional killing of innocent civilians bothered him, he replied:
"The one thing you learn over here is that there are no innocent civilians, except the kids. And even them - the ones that are all, `Hey mister, mister, chocolate?' - I'll be killing them someday."

Says it all, really.

Yup, somebody doesn't like those journo's hanging about. With their camera's everywhere, poking and prying.

That was clear right from the start really. When the Palestine Hotel was targeted.

On another note, just reading the commentary here; if one were astute one might offer some of ones commenters the Brooklyn Bridge for sale. Some of them might buy it. On the other hand, some of them might already have sold it.

So what do you think of CNN's Jordan resigning?

I think it says a lot. upon making the remarks in Davos, a US congressman present said he was ready to conduct a full investigation into the matter - all he wanted from Jordan were some facts/evidence.

You can be sure that if Jordan had any facts, he would have presented them. This is pulitzer prize material if true! Imagine, US soldiers deliberately targeting journalists! Can you imagine a bigger headline?

Plenty of other media outlets have opinions on the matter - but non came to CNN/Jordan aid with facts.

There was nothing. The journalist was forced to slink away.

Two possible interesting developments:

1. Sunni leaders want to participate:

2. US agents in talks with insurgents:

Dear Abu Khaleel:

Two comments about your post:

The kidnapping of Giuliana Sgrena: Defaming the Iraqi Resistance is the name of the game

Italian hostage pleads for troop pullout from Iraq (Read this and aid to save a life)

Thank you for writing for the world.

I'm still optimistic that the election may result in an independent Iraq, but I sure hope this is not true:

"Ahmed Chalabi believes he has votes to become Iraqi premier."

It does not seem plausible to me, but as I keep saying, we'll see who sits, what the people who sit say and what the Iraqi people say about them.

If it is true, we certainly have our answer to the question of whether or not the elections were legitimate.

I have a question-

have the insurgents ever posted on the Internet?

and also, I was wondering like Charles if Abu Khaleel knows anything about them?

Ideally, it would be a crazy idea but interesting if people could chat with some insurgents in the safety of the anonymity of the internet.

I also wondered about Chalabi. When do results of secret ballot get announced?

I'm not sure what it would mean. The US sure didn't decide who would participate in the lists in general, and certainly we did not 'instruct' Sistani and the Shiite list on who to include - and where to place them on list.

Chalabi was obviuosly near the top. Have any journalists covered this? What does the top Shia leadership say about Chalabi?

I think we can all agree he is a very smart man (PhD applied math?), and was active, perhaps instrumental in motivating US to act. But what does he stand for?

An incredibly smart, highly motivated person could be extremely good, or extremely bad.

O.K. I just read on online Al-Jazeera that two American military officers are negotiating with several nationalist groups through an Iraqi. Maybe our two worlds are about to make headway. May God make this a positive trend!!

Abu Katya,

"An incredibly smart, highly motivated person could be extremely good, or extremely bad."

Extremely good and Chalabi are mutually exclusive notions!

Lets track back to when the fighting in Najaf was on. Mr Chalabi visits Iran. Allawi's government declare him a criminal and some anonymous coalition spokesman declares that Chalabi had been an Iranian agent all along. Mr Chalabi returns to Iraq and nothing happens to him. He immediately declares the formation of the Shia House grouping and heads to Najaf to see Sistani. Now fast forward to pre-election. Slate 169 was formed with heavy input from the participants in the Shia House which Mr Chalabi established.

There is a tendency in the Middle East to jump on conspiracy theories. In the case of Chalabi you can't help but think of conspiracies. Are we to believe that serious charges against him were dropped just one week after their announcement? Are we to believe that this guy had access at the highest levels of the Pentagon for some 10 years only to turn up to be Iranian agent? Are the DOD that stupid? And what was all the fighting between Shalaan (Defence Minister) and Chalabi in the lead up to the election all about? Have we been watching some kind of theatre whereby Chalabi is attacked by the US and their preferred man (Allawi) so that Chalabi acquires some legitimacy in the eyes of Iraqis?

I have just been watching a debate on Aljazeera in which a member of the INC (who looked and sounded as shifty as Chalabi) asserted that Jaafari is blocking a vote inside list 169 because Chalabi would win a vote. There was also a hint on the program that when Sistani says he is staying out of the politics of chosing a PM he is in fact indirectly supporting Chalabi. Why?

Now linking back to Abu Kaleel's topic, I wonder what Chalabi's militia have been up to of late. Remember the reports of lootings kidnappings and assasinations they carried out during and just after the war. They haven't come up on any reports eversince. Where are they these days?

Hello Abu Khaleel,
First I would definitely recommend your 'glimpseofiraq' series to those here who may have missed it (or are just tired of politics).
Anon 4:33, there are plenty of resistance sites mostly in Arabic, of course like arabrenewal, iraqipatrol, iraqforever, the great iraq, etc. The main thing I get out of them is they don't like the occupiers( or 'stooges') and some like old pictures of Saddam. I can't imagine an intellectual dialog with them.
I saw Chalabi today on an ABC TV interview. I think he is getting pushed out in front of Shias because of his harsh anti-baathist line. For all the supposed horsetrading, I see a lot of very hard positions from the Kurds and the Shia. I wrongly had expected some big deals to have been made by now. Is this going to get(even more)ugly?

Abu Hadi,

Nice to hear from you.

I would like to think that the US has actually done something clever and nuanced in its policy - publicly break with Chalabi in an effort to build him up because he is really our man - but i wonder if its more Chalabi playing EVERYONE.

I still can't figure how he got in with Sistani's people. What did he promise them? Why would they believe it? There were numerous groups on the list but the dominant ones seemed ideological (am I right?).

How much of the vote would he received if he had run on an independent list?

No - it wan't the US. i don't know if it serves our interest to play into an obvious conspiracy theory - and his leadership may prove divisive. That is of course, unless the leading players (with whom the US does not call the shots) have decided that he is the right one.

Could he have used his brilliant mathematical mind to navigate the nuances in the electoral law to choose the perfect tactics - the perfect equation - to make the end result - Chalabi?

Or are we being silly to worry so much over an interim national assembly that will be in power for all of 1 year? Whatever happens, Chalabi as PM is still only as strong as his legislative support. If he somehow surfs his way into the top slot, there are many people who could undercut his position from the very start.

I only know little snips from his bio. Leader of INC. Fed us most of the bad intel on WMD. Had backing of State but not DOD (or vice versa?), Banking scandals - under indictment in Jordan (?) for fraud, apparently disclosed classified info to Iran that cut him off from US support (and humiliated many top US folks), rumors of strong ties to Iran, etc.

What is the story with this guy? What does he believe in?

I think the little tussle right before election with rival was a pure positioning tactic and elections always get dirty.

If the outcome of these tortured elections is to put an unscrupulous corrupt conniving sleaze such as Chalabi into a position of power, you have to ask was it really worth it.

Mind you he can talk the talk and walk the walk, when he isn't putting the boot into the Sunnis.
Excerpts from Sunday night's ABC interview:

When Mr. Stephanopoulos asked why Prime Minister Allawi’s government failed to stop the insurgency and how the new government will deal with the same issues, Dr. Chalabi responded: "…The Iraqi government failed to stop those killers because the security plan that the United States and the coalition put together for Iraq for the period after sovereignty did not work. The government did not take the issue of the sovereignty of Iraq seriously. Iraqis must take control of the Iraqi armed forces from the recruitment, to the training, to the deployment."

When Mr. Stephanopoulos asked how the status of US forces will changes under the new government, Dr. Chalabi responded: "I believe that the agreement will deal with the issues of how the Iraqi armed forces work, how the command structure of the forces in Iraq to be organized, where the U.S. forces will be deployed, how they will deal with emergencies in Iraq, and where will they be. All these issues need to be clarified."

Dr. Chalabi on the issue of detainees: "The agreement will deal with the right or how those U.S. forces detainees Iraqis. There are thousands of Iraqis now detained by U.S. forces. We don't know why. We don't know how. And we don't know under what legal structure they are being detained. I believe that this process should be an Iraqi process."

Dr. Chalabi on the newly formed government: "We want to change the way Iraq is governed. It's no longer -- it will no longer be the government of a leader with everybody else not counting very much. We want to have a cabinet form of executive authority in Iraq, and I am perfectly willing to cooperate, as indeed are my other friends and colleagues who are competing the job of prime minister."

The Iraqi people will assert themselves as an independent people. They have elected an assembly which ran on this platform, independence, sovereignty. And I believe that the Iraqi people will not accept to be part of Iran. And the Shia of Iraq will not accept to be under the influence of Iran. But that does not mean we have to be enemies of Iran. Iran has a long border with Iraq, and we intend to have the best possible relations with Iran based on non-interference in each other's affairs, and also good neighborly relations, and no terrorism from either side against the other."

If you take him as always meaning the opposite of what he says, where does that get you?

First off, a comment on the journalism angle. There are several factors inhibiting free journalism. The US / puppet govt. has undoubtedly played a large role in stifling independent journalism, whether it is from ‘accidents’ (truly accidental or otherwise) or legislation (ban Al Jazeera) or intimidation (threats to journalists to toe the line, or else.). However, it seems that the resistance on the ground is also pretty paranoid about foreigners wandering about, and often they are abducted and questioned at a minimum. It seems that the key to survival in these cases is to avoid being passed on from group to group; whereas local Iraqi resistance tends to let genuine journalists go, the AQ element tends to exploit them for maximum propaganda effect, with fatal consequences. The poor economic situation seems also to have fuelled a demand for foreign nationals which can be ransomed off to their governments for cash; certainly journalists would make prime targets. Finally there is the ‘black ops’ element which is unknowable but possible. To me it makes no sense to kill off anti war types and journalists, since it really doesn’t scare anybody and merely confirms the stereotype of ‘crazy Muslim killers’. Could the rumours of CIA / MI ‘black ops’ masquerading as resistance be true? Given that the CIA etc. are not scared of wet-ops, and have engaged in this sort of thing in the past, it is not a question of “WOULD they do this?” but of “ARE they doing this?”. No proof, of course, but interesting to speculate about.

Second, Chalabi is a real POS. His actions are those of the career politician, squirming through one scandal and into another, yet somehow never getting caught. We have some in my country too, and I detest them. I recommend extradition to Jordan, so that he can repay the 300 million he stole from Petra bank. Preferably by breaking rocks for the resurfacing of roads. It is indicative of the sort of operation that the US ran to discredit Iraq, that it associated itself with a sleazebag like him. Sad.

What does Chalabi believe in? Well, my guess is he believes in whoever can line his pockets the best.

To Anon 8:28 thanks very much for the information.

On a second thought, may be it is better if Chalabi becomes PM. If he loses and as a consolation prize he becomes Finance or Oil Minister....

Abu Hadi - ;-)

That is probably his plan - freak everyone out that he will be next PM so they panic and offer him finance - which is what he wanted all along -

He is smart!

Seriously - when will your new democratic leaders announce PM???
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