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                            IRAQIS IN A DESERT TENT...MASSACRE IN MOSUL AND

MID-EAST REALITIES - MER - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 4/15/2003:
General Jay Garner is now in charge in Iraq -- known for his close ties with
the Israelis.  He reports to General Tommy Franks -- himself in charge of
the whole Middle East region and constantly flying from one US base to
another in nearly every country in the region except Syria and Lebanon.
Franks reports to the Pentagon of course, where no less than the American
Secretary of Defense is in charge of approving requested expenditures from
the now $2 billion plus slush fund allocated to 'rebuilding' Iraq -- and we
all know who are the main advisers to Donald Rumsfeld....Wolfowitz, Feith,
Perle, et. al.   And of course the new Commander-in-Chief in Iraq is then
President George W. Bush, current occupant of the White House, whose closest
foreign friend and most frequent foreign White House guest so far, is none
other than General Ariel Sharon, current Prime Minister of Israel.    Oh
yes, let's also mention the new de facto High Commission of Iraq and
Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad...long-time U.S. National Security Council
    So there you have it...the modern-day occupation of the Iraq, a key
country in the heart of the Arab world and Islam.   Forget all the
rhetorical swashbuckling about 'the Iraqi people' and 'democracy'.  The
democracy the Americans have in mind for Iraq will be akin to what they have
brought to the Palestinians -- CIA at the top, agents throughout, quisling
officials in the news flying around to this and that meeting to get their
marching orders and payoff-bank accounts.
    On the very day the American army brought invited and approved Iraqis to
a desert tent in a first step to set up the occupation government (remember
Vichy France anyone), US Troops had to put down protests in Nassiriya and
perpetrated a massacre in Mosul.  And this what we know about so far....


                                U.S. Kills 12, Injures 100 as They Fire on
                              At least 10 dead as US troops in firefight in
northern Iraq

MOSUL, Iraq (AFP - 4-15-03 - 11:30pm)    At least 12 people were killed and
scores wounded in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul when US troops fired on a
crowd angered by a speech by the new US-backed governor, witnesses reported.

The charges were denied by a US military spokesman in the city Tuesday, who
said troops had first come under fire from at least two gunmen and fired
back, without aiming at the crowd.

But the incident overshadowed the start of US-brokered talks aimed at
sketching out the country's future leadership in the southern city of
Nasiriyah, a Shiite Muslim bastion where 20,000 people marched through the
city chanting "No to America, No to Saddam."

The firefight in Mosul broke out as the newly-appointed governor of the city
was making a speech from the building housing his offices which listeners
deemed was too pro-US, witnesses said.

"There were protesters outside, 100 to 150, there was fire, we returned
fire," a US military spokesman said, adding the initial shots came from a
roof opposite the building, about 75 metres (yards) away.

"We didn't fire at the crowd, but at the top of the building," the spokesman
added. "There were at least two gunmen, I don't know if they were killed."

"The firing was not intensive but sporadic, and lasted up to two minutes,"
the spokesman said.

But witnesses charged that US troops fired into the crowd after it became
increasingly hostile towards the new governor, Mashaan al-Juburi.

"They (the soldiers) climbed on top of the building and first fired at a
building near the crowd, with the glass falling on the civilians. People
started to throw stones, then the Americans fired at them," said Ayad
Hassun, 37.

"Dozens of people fell," he said, his own shirt stained with blood.

"The people moved toward the government building, the children threw stones,
the Americans started firing," another witness, Marwan Mohammed, 50, told

According to a third witness, Abdulrahman Ali, 49, the US soldiers opened
fire when they saw the crowd running at the government building.

An AFP journalist saw a wrecked car in the square and ambulances ferrying
wounded people to hospital, while a US aircraft flew over the northern city
at low altitude.

A doctor at the city hospital, Ayad al-Ramadhani said: "There are perhaps
100 wounded and 10 to 12 dead."

The process of finding a new Iraqi leadership after the fall of Iraqi leader
Saddam Hussein got underway in Nasiriyah, the first meeting of opposition
groups since the launch of the war on March 20, with US officials expected
to discuss the process of forming an interim administration.

But the man tipped to become Iraq's next leader, Ahmad Chalabi, head of the
US-backed Iraqi National Congress, was not due to attend.

Iraq's leading Shiite Muslim opposition group was also boycotting the talks,
amid distrust over the US role and division over who should lead Iraq.

Chalabi, who has insisted he is not a candidate for a post in the interim
administration to be run by retired US general Jay Garner, planned to send a

Dozens of representatives from Iraq's fractious mix of ethnic, tribal and
opposition groups, including those formerly in exile, were said to be
invited although no official list was given.

The New York Times quoted Garner as saying his mission to rebuild Iraq's
political structures would be messy and contentious.

His fears appeared justified as the talks in the Shiite bastion sparked a
demonstration estimated by journalists to number around 20,000 people, led
by religious figures.

"Yes to freedom... Yes to Islam... No to America, No to Saddam," the crowd
chanted as they marched through the centre of Nasiriyah.

The Pentagon meanwhile said it was not yet ready to declare victory after
nearly four weeks of war, but US commanders expressed hope the main stage of
hostilities was over with the fall of Saddam's hometown of Tikrit on Monday.

The commander of a 16,000-strong Iraqi military unit surrendered control of
an area of western Iraq extending to the Syrian border, after US central
command said it was continuing to consolidate its position.

US officials switched their focus to neighbouring Syria, alleging Damascus
has been developing weapons of mass destruction, prompting appeals for calm
from the United Nations and Arab and European governments.

US officials have accused the regime of President Bashar al-Assad of state
terrorism, developing weapons of mass destruction and of harbouring fugitive
Iraqi officials.

"We will examine possible measures of a diplomatic, economic or other nature
as we move forward," US Secretary of State Colin Powell said.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer branded Syria a terrorist state, while
Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed Syria had carried out a chemical
weapons test "over the past 12, 15 months".

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon joined the offensive, describing Assad
as "dangerous," and urging Washington to put "very heavy ... political and
economic pressure" on Syria.

The Syrian government hit back on Tuesday, condemning "the threatening
language and the baseless accusations levelled by certain American officials
against Syria with the aim of striking a blow at its firm position,
influence its decisions and it commitment to international legitimacy."

Syria's ambassador to the United Nations also denied the allegations,
accusing Washington of double standards over its support for Israel, the
strongest military power in the Middle East.

"We don't have weapons of mass destruction," Rostom al-Zoubi said in an
interview with CNN. "It is Israel, which has a big arsenal of weapons of
mass destruction."

European Union foreign ministers have urged Washington to tone down its
rhetoric, while the Arab League and Egypt have also condemned the

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan warned such statements could destabilize the
whole Middle East.

The formal surrender by the commander of 16,000 Iraqi army troops who
controlled the vast area along the Syrian border marked another dramatic
step toward the end of the war.

"I am ready to help. Thank you for liberating Iraq and making it stable,"
Iraqi General Mohammed Jarawi told US Colonel Curtis Potts after signing the

A scaledown of the 300,000-strong US force deployed in the region was also
already underway.

Two US aircraft carriers -- the USS Kitty Hawk and the USS Constellation --
were due to head home from the Gulf as early as this week. More than 1,000
US soldiers were also due to start leaving Turkey Tuesday, local officials

But life in Baghdad remained far from normal six days after US troops
entered. Most shops remained closed, and many parts of the city still lacked
water or electricity.

And US forces tried for the first time Tuesday to prevent the media from
covering a third day of anti-US protests outside the hotel housing a US
operations base in central Baghdad.

                                                     Protests flare ahead of
Iraq talks
                                                               By Adrian

TALLIL AIRBASE, Iraq (Reuters - 15 April) - The United States launches talks
with divided and distrustful Iraqis today on how to rule the country now
Saddam Hussein has gone, but anti-U.S. protests erupted even before they

As participants gathered at a U.S. air base near the southern Iraqi city of
Nassiriya, scepticism ran deep among groups united by little other than
delight Saddam was finished and unease at being seen as too close to the
United States.

Arabic television channels showed thousands of Iraqis protesting in
Nassiriya against the talks, saying they wanted to rule themselves and
chanting: "No to America, No to Saddam".

In a sign of how hard the process may be, one major exile group stayed away
and another sent only minor officials to the talks that failed to start as
planned at 10 a.m. (7:00 a.m. British time).

Three hours later, a spokesman for one group told Reuters by telephone that
participants were still preparing to meet.

U.S. officials say Iraqis should govern themselves as soon as possible. The
aim is to help them generate their own nationwide decision-making structure,
but Tuesday's short-term goal was just for the diverse factions to get

"A big part of the meeting is getting to know each other, so the meeting
starts when they get together," said a U.S. military spokesman.

Officials from the interim U.S.-led administration for Iraq say they hope to
do most of their work in three to six months and then hand over to an Iraqi
government. However, the U.S. military authority in the country looks set to
stay longer.


Ahmad Chalabi, a high-profile leader backed by the Pentagon, was not
attending the talks but sent a representative. The main Shi'ite Muslim
opposition group decided not to come at all.

"It is not to the benefit of the Iraqi nation," said Abdelaziz Hakim, a
leader of the Iran-based Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq,

"From the beginning, independence has been our manifesto. We don't accept a
U.S. umbrella or anybody else's."

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw put a brave face on the boycott, saying
SCIRI were enjoying their new democratic right to choose, and tried to
dampen expectations about the meeting.

"It is not a one-off, it's the beginning of a process to restore
governance," he told a news conference in the Gulf state of Qatar, home to
U.S. Central Command war headquarters.

"This is not an American or British operation but one we have sponsored to
get things going," he said, when asked if it would have been better for the
United Nations to run the talks.

That question elicited a swipe at U.N. Security Council permanent members
France and Russia, who have dashed Anglo-American hopes that once the war
was over they might set aside their vocal opposition to U.S. policy on Iraq.

Straw said London and Washington saw a vital role for the United Nations but
that Security Council members had to accept the new reality on the ground in
Iraq and cooperate.

"It is the responsibility of all members of the Security Council, but
particularly those with vetoes, not to play games but to recognise this new
reality and to move forward," he said.

The United Nations, promised some sort of role by Washington under pressure
from Britain, will attend as an observer.


The meeting will be overseen by Jay Garner, the retired U.S. general who
will head the interim Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance
(ORHA) until Iraqis take over.

"My fear right now is every day we delay we're probably losing some
momentum, and there's perhaps some vacuums in there getting filled that we
won't want filled," he said.

About 60 Iraqis, representing radical and mainstream Shi'ite and Sunni
Muslim groups, Kurds and supporters of the monarchy overthrown in 1958, were
expected to attend the meeting 375 km (235 miles) southeast of Baghdad.

If the talks succeed, similar meetings may be held elsewhere in Iraq to draw
together as many different voices as possible.

A spokesman for Chalabi told BBC radio leaders of the Iraqi opposition
planned to hold their own meeting in Baghdad soon.

"Iraqis must rule Iraq, we don't need either an American general or a U.N.
bureaucrat in charge," said Zaab Sethna.

One problem is that Saddam's ruling Baath Party was so pervasive it will
prove hard to govern the country without them.

Members of his police are patrolling again in Baghdad, but a British ORHA
official said they were only small fry.

"We've been successful in taking the head off the regime, in taking off the
top layer," Brigadier General Tim Cross told BBC radio. "Most of the other
people who are trying to rebuild their lives will put aside the Baathist
regime with great pleasure."

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