EXPRESS CHECKOUT

Remembering Iraq

Posted in Politics + Diplomacy by expresscheckout on 4 August, 2006

View from Baghdad

Leaked memo shows outgoing British ambassador sees trouble ahead for Iraq
The Daily Star
August 04, 2006

Iraq is more likely to slide into civil war than turn into a democracy, Britain’s outgoing ambassador to Baghdad wrote in a diplomatic cable that was leaked Thursday. On the political front, three ministers could lose their jobs in the  coming weeks, a member of Parliament said Thursday, amid rumors of a Cabinet reshuffle.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said the main thrust of Ambassador William Patey’s final cable to London was similar to comments Patey has made in public – that Britain should stay the course.

But excerpts quoted by Brtain’s public broadcaster, the BBC, suggested a far more pessimistic assessment for prospects in Iraq than Britain has previously disclosed.

“The prospect of a low intensity civil war and a de facto division of Iraq is probably more likely at this stage than a successful and substantial transition to a stable democracy,” Patey wrote.

Echoing Patey’s grim remarks, the head of the US Central Command also said sectarian violence in Baghdad was as bad as he has ever seen and could lead to a civil war.

“Sectarian violence probably is as bad as I’ve seen it, in Baghdad in particular,” army General John Abizaid told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “If not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war.”

Patey’s warning was addressed to Blair and senior ministers, including the foreign and defense secretaries, and to military top brass.

“Even the lowered expectation of [US] President [George W.] Bush for Iraq – a government that can sustain itself, defend itself and govern itself and is an ally in the war on terror – must remain in doubt,” Patey said.

Describing the main Shiite militia, he wrote: “If we are to avoid a descent into civil war and anarchy then preventing the [Mehdi Army] from developing into a state within a state, as Hizbullah has done in Lebanon, will be a priority.”

Patey did, however, also say that the situation in Iraq was “not hopeless” but would remain “messy and difficult” for the next five to 10 years.

Blair denied the telegram indicated his government was not painting a truthful picture of the situation on the ground.

“What he said in his telegram that was leaked was exactly what he said in his public interviews last week,” Blair told a news conference.

“There’s absolutely no doubt about what the purpose of the sectarian violence is … The purpose is to put extremists in charge of countries rather than those committed to democracy. What should our response be? However difficult it is, stay the course,” Blair said.

“That’s what we’re doing, and however tough it is we will see it through. And actually if you read the whole of the telegram that’s precisely what William is saying.”

On a visit to London July 24, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said his government would focus on ending violence in Iraq and enabling the withdrawal of the US-led multinational forces, which include a 7,200-strong British contingent.

In another day of unrest, at least 10 people were killed and 32 wounded by a roadside bomb that exploded among street vendors in central Baghdad, a police source said.

The source said the bomb appeared to have been buried in rubbish in Amin Street in Shorja District and that most of the casualties were civilians.

Meanwhile, Hassan Sunaid, a lawmaker from the prime minister’s Daawa Party, told AFP that three ministers are to be replaced by mid-August ” … because these people are just not effective.”

He added that the rumors swirling around Parliament right now hinted it would be one of the ministers charged with fighting the rising tide of sectarian violence.

There has been rising criticism of Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani in particular for his inability to stem the violence in Baghdad. – Agencies

Route Irish Baghdad Iraq March 12 2005

US troops ‘took turns’ to rape Iraqi girl
BBC NEWS

August 07, 2006 

The case is the latest in a series of scandals for the US army. A US military court has heard testimony of how three soldiers took it in turns to hold down and try to rape an Iraqi girl aged 14 in Mahmudiya in March.

The girl and three family members were allegedly killed by four US soldiers.

Graphic details of the attack at the family’s home came in a sworn statement by one of the accused, James P. Barker.

The preliminary hearing will decide whether to court-martial the four. The case is one of a series of atrocities blamed on US forces in Iraq.

Along with Sergeant Paul Cortez, Private Jesse Spielman, and Private Bryan Howard, Specialist Barker is charged with rape and murder.

The four are alleged to have helped a former private – Steven Green, who has since left the army – plan, carry out and cover up the attack. Mr Green has pleaded not guilty in a federal court and will be tried separately in the US.

A fifth soldier is alleged to have lied to cover up for his colleagues.

‘Whisky and golf’

Investigator Benjamin Bierce interviewed Mr Barker, 23, on 30 June and took down his statement, he told the hearing at a US military base in Baghdad.

On the day of the attack the soldiers had been drinking Iraqi whisky mixed with an energy drink and practising golf strokes at a checkpoint south of Baghdad, Mr Barker’s statement said.

One of the soldiers, Steven Green, said he “wanted to go to a house and kill some Iraqis,” it alleged.

The four eventually went to a house about 200 metres (yards) away and put the parents and their five-year old daughter in the bedroom, but kept the older girl in the living room.

According to Mr Barker’s statement, he and Mr Cortez took it in turns to rape or attempt to rape her.

Mr Barker heard shots from the bedroom, and Steven Green emerged with an AK-47 in his hand saying “They’re all dead. I just killed them.”

Steven Green, who has pleaded not guilty, is being tried separately

According to the testimony, Mr Green then also raped the girl and shot her dead.

Her body was doused in kerosene and set alight.

The first day of the hearing on Sunday saw an Iraqi army medic describe how he found the bodies of the four Iraqis.

He told prosecutors he was ill for weeks after witnessing the crime scene.

Proceedings are expected to continue for several days.

Pictures depicting torture in Iraq

Caption: ‘Iraq today’

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