Tag Archive: Saddam


Nafeez Ahmed was the original Muslim 9/11 truth scholar. His book The War on Freedom – the earliest work of its kind – made a 9/11 truther of Gore Vidal. He is also a star contributor to the book I edited, 9/11 and American Empire v.2.

Nafeez’s controlled demolition of the war-criminal BBC, reproduced below, nicely complements Tony Rooke’s moral victory over the BBC in Monday’s court case.

-KB


 

Seven Myths About the Iraq War: How BBC Newsnight failed journalism on the 10 year anniversary of the invasion

 

by Nafeez Ahmed

Veterans Today

As a participant in BBC Newsnight special, “Iraq – 10 Years On“, I found myself feeling slightly miffed at the lack of real debate on the crucial issues.

On the one hand, Newsnight presented a number of narratives of the war and its aftermath as ‘fact’, which are deeply questionable. On the other, there were no serious, factually-grounded criticisms of the war, despite a diverse panel which included people who did not support it.

As author of a major book on the war and its historical context, Behind the War on Terror: Western Secret Strategy and the Struggle for Iraq, as well as co-author of a new report, Executive Decisions: How British Intelligence was Hijacked for the Iraq War, I consider myself to be reasonably informed. Yet BBC Newsnight failed almost entirely to bring any of these issues to light.

What follows is my Newsnight-inspired Iraq War Myth-Busting exercise, based on what was, and wasn’t, discussed on the show.

MYTH 1. Sectarian violence has increased in postwar Iraq because sectarianism has always existed in Iraq, and the removal of Saddam allowed it to erupt

One of the first Newsnight bloopers started with a short introductory clip from John Simpson, the BBC’s World Affairs Editor. Amongst other things, Simpson talked about the rise of sectarian Sunni-Shi’a violence in postwar Iraq, and argued that while Saddam’s regime had clamped down on sectarian divisions, regime change effectively unleashed those previously suppressed divisions and allowed them to worsen.

This was the first of many oversimplifications about the escalation of sectarian violence in Iraq. The reality, as pointed out on the show by my colleague in the audience, anthropologist Professor Nadje al-Ali, is that prior to the war, generic sectarian antagonism was unheard of in Iraqi society. Although Saddam’s regime was unequivocally sectarian in its own violence against Shi’as and Kurds, as a mechanism of shoring up the Ba’athist regime, Iraqis did not largely identify in sectarian terms. As one Iraqi blogger living in Baghdad noted:

“I always hear the Iraqi pro-war crowd interviewed on television from foreign capitals (they can only appear on television from the safety of foreign capitals because I defy anyone to be publicly pro-war in Iraq)… They go on and on about Iraq’s history and how Sunnis and Shia were always in conflict and I hate that. I hate that a handful of expats who haven’t been to the country in decades pretend to know more about it than people actually living there. I remember Baghdad before the war- one could live anywhere. We didn’t know what our neighbors were- we didn’t care. No one asked about religion or sect. No one bothered with what was considered a trivial topic: are you Sunni or Shia? You only asked something like that if you were uncouth and backward. Our lives revolve around it now. Our existence depends on hiding it or highlighting it- depending on the group of masked men who stop you or raid your home in the middle of the night.”

Missing from the BBC Newsnight discussion was the fact that the Bush administration planned from the outset to dominate Iraq by pursuing the de facto ethnic partition of the country into three autonomous cantons. The private US intelligence firm, Stratfor, reported that the US was “working on a plan to merge Iraq and Jordan into a unitary kingdom to be ruled by the Hashemite dynasty headed by King Abdullah of Jordan.” The plan was “authored by US Vice President Dick Cheney” as well as “Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz”, and was first discussed at “an unusual meeting between Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan and pro-US Iraqi Sunni opposition members in London in July” 2002.

Under this plan, the central and largest part of Iraq populated largely by Sunnis would be joined with Jordan, and would include Baghdad, which would no longer be the capital. The Kurdish region of northern and northwestern Iraq, including Mosul and the vast Kirkuk oilfields, would become its own autonomous state. The Shi’a region in southwestern Iraq, including Basra, would make up the third canton, or more likely it would be joined with Kuwait.

Ultimately, of course, the specific detail of this plan did not come to fruition – but the ‘divide-and-rule’ imperial thinking behind the plan was implemented. As one US Joint Special Operations University report documented, “US elite forces in Iraq turned to fostering infighting among their Iraqi adversaries on the tactical and operational level.” This included disseminating and propagating al-Qaeda jihadi activities by “US psychological warfare (PSYOP) specialists” to fuel “factional fighting” and “to set insurgents battling insurgents.”

Pakistani defence sources thus reported in early 2005 that the Pentagon had  ”resolved to arm small militias backed by US troops and entrenched in the population,” consisting of “former members of the Ba’ath Party” – linked up with al-Qaeda insurgents – to “head off” the threat of a “Shi’ite clergy-driven religious movement.” Almost simultaneously, the Pentagon began preparing its ‘Salvador option’ to sponsor Shi’ite death squads to “target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers” – a policy developed under the interim government of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

Ironically, the same Allawi also made an appearance on Newsnight via Baghdad, rightly criticising the current government for failing to incorporate an inclusive, non-sectarian political process. But Newsnight didn’t bother to ask him about his role in engendering the very sectarian violence he now criticises by sponsoring death squads.

MYTH 2. We went to war in Iraq based on a legitimate parliamentary process, even if lots of people demonstrated against it – most Brits approved the war according to polls

When an audience member asked why the British government still went to war despite the millions of people who protested against it, Independent columnist John Rentoul argued that the war was in fact an example of proper democratic process – because ultimately the MPs voted for it. He pointed out that we don’t run democracies based on “mob rule” – i.e. just because people protesting in the street  don’t want something – but on the basis of consensual parliamentary procedures. To this, host Kirsty Wark added that 54% supported the war according to opinion polls at the time.

Really?

In mid-March, before the war, “just 26% of the public was saying in mid-March that they approved of British involvement without a ‘smoking gun’ and a second UN vote, while 63% disapproved.” It was only once the bombs began to drop that public opinion drifted slightly in favour of the war. Where did Kirsty Wark’s 54% figure come from?

Disingenuously, it comes from an ICM poll which “found a persistent majority against the war, reaching a low point of 29% support (and 52% oppose) in February. Support then rose to 38% in the final pre-invasion poll (14-16 March, the same weekend as MORI’s) and jumped to 54% just a week later, with the war only a few days old.

Kirsty’s 54% claim applies after the war – before the war, the majority of the British public was overwhelmingly opposed to the invasion, a fact which was not reflected in the parliamentary process.

And of course, since then, opposition to the war continued to grow dramatically.

MYTH 3: The Iraq War was, at worst, a colossal cock-up, simply because we didn’t have good intel on the ground about WMDs etc. So we didn’t really go to war on the basis of a lie, we went to war because our intel was wrong.

As I tried to point out in my brief intervention on the show, this whole debate about whether the public approved the war or not to some extent misses the point – which is that the Iraq War was ignited on the basis of false claims about Saddam’s WMD. Those false claims were promulgated by senior American and British officials precisely to manipulate public opinion, and pressurise the political system into a pre-made decision to go to war, irrespective of the UN, irrespective of international law, and irrespective of whether WMD really existed.

It’s this fact which ultimately brings to light the extent to which our political system, certainly when it comes to foreign policy decisions, is broken, and has yet to be repaired. The historical record confirms that all the intelligence available to British and American security services, including information passed on through the UN weapons inspections process throughout the 1990s, confirmed unequivocally that Saddam had no functioning WMDs of any kind.

Amongst the intelligence available to the allies was the testimony of defector General Hussein Kamel, Saddam’s son-in-law and head of Iraq’s WMD programmes. He provided crates of documents to UN weapons inspectors, as well as authoritative testimony on the precise nature of the WMD programmes that Saddam had embarked on in preceding years. He was even cited by senior officials as the key witness on the threat posed by Saddam’s WMD’s. What these same officials conveniently omitted to mention is that Gen. Kamel had also confirmed to UN inspectors in 1995 that Iraq had destroyed its entire stockpile of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and banned missiles, in 1991, shortly before the Gulf War – exactly as Saddam had claimed. Yet such intelligence was ignored and suppressed.

MYTH 4: The decision to go to war was based on a legitimate parliamentary process, legal advice from the Attorney General, as well as consultations with the UN.

In reality, the decision to go to war was made jointly by senior American and British officials prior to any democratic process, behind closed doors, and irrespective of evidence or international law. This is confirmed by a range of declassified official documents.

A leaked policy options paper drafted by officials in the Cabinet Office’s Overseas and Defence Secretariat (8th March 2002), records that:

 

Read Full Article here

Wars and Rumors of War

Power Struggle  : Special Interests  –  History

Maliki takes over Iraq’s security services

IRAQ WARS

by Staff Writers
Baghdad (UPI)

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a longtime friend of Tehran, has systematically infiltrated his operatives into the country’s intelligence services, rebuilt by the CIA after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 as a buttress against Iranian influence.

These services are a crucial component in what is increasingly seen as Maliki’s intention to establish himself as the supreme power in Iraq as it drives to become one of the world’s energy superpowers.

“The institutionalization of a new Iraqi intelligence apparatus after the fall of Saddam Hussein has been a tumultuous process,” observed the U.S. global security consultancy Stratfor.

Since the Americans began reshaping the intelligence services that Saddam had built into the most formidable pillar of his brutal regime, there’s been a struggle between the majority Shiites, many of whom lean toward Shiite Iran, and the Sunni minority that was the backbone of Saddam’s Baathist regime — and its security services.

The Americans found, as they had in Germany after World War II, that they needed the experienced operatives of the ousted regime to create new intelligence structures, in 1945 to combat the Soviet Union, after 2003, to counter an expansionist Iran.

They brought back hundreds of Sunni veterans of Saddam’s General Security Service and the many other branches of his elaborate intelligence network.

That didn’t sit well with the Shiites, who were empowered after Saddam’s downfall.

The core of the new system is the Iraqi National Intelligence Service, organized and funded by the CIA, and the Ministry of State for National Security.

The INIS, established in 2004, was initially headed by a Sunni, a former air force general named Mohammed Abdullah Shahwani who defected from Saddam’s regime in 1990 and played a key role in an ill-fated, CIA-backed plot to topple Saddam in 1996.

He recruited hundreds of former Baathists, with the CIA’s blessing. Many were veterans of Saddam’s infamous General Intelligence Directorate, which became Iraq’s leading foreign intelligence service, and in particular Department 18, which ran operations against Iran.

When Maliki was elected prime minister in 2006, the dominant Shiites sought to sabotage the Sunni-dominated INIS.

Maliki brought one of Saddam’s former generals, Sherwan al-Waeli who after the dictator’s fall played an increasingly important role in Maliki’s Shiite Ad-Dawa party. He built up a large cadre of supporters within the MSNS and by 2009 has built up a force of 1,500-2,000 intelligence operatives to rival Shahwani’s 1,200-strong INIS.

Informed sources say the Maliki-controlled MSNS runs as many as 20,000 personnel, giving the premier, who also controls the defense and interior ministries, power unrivalled since Saddam Hussein’s heyday.

The MSNS strength cannot be independently verified. But Stratfor observes the department “has expanded quickly to serve as a regime intelligence service” along the lines of Saddam’s Special Security Service.

The SSS, headed by his youngest son Qusai, was established in 1982 as a presidential intelligence service to protect the dictator. It had agents in every other intelligence and security organization in Iraq.

The pro-CIA Shahwani, who resisted Maliki’s personal takeover of the security services, resigned under pressure as INIS chief in 2009 after dozens of his men had been killed, either by rival Iraqi organizations or Iran’s intelligence apparatus.

Shahwani claims 290 of his officers were killed in 2004-09. Since then “the competition between the INIS and MSNS due to factional allegiances has only grown,” Stratfor observes.

INIS officers claim Maliki’s regime has issued arrest warrants against another 180. Stratfor reports “500 INIS officers have been killed and 700 imprisoned since 2004.

“The INIS appeared to mount a response in 2009, when Shiite sources within the INIS reported that MSNS personnel also were being assassinated,” it said.

“They claim the culprits were the hard-line former Baathist officers reinducted into the INIS.”

This internecine warfare is exposing Iraq to untold dangers as it wrestles with persistent security challenges as Iran’s influence increases following the U.S. withdrawal.

That could jeopardize Iraq’s economic future and its potential energy power.

“Instead of institutionalizing and focusing on threats to Iraq, the intelligence services have been fighting and focusing on threats to the regime,” Stratfor noted.

“Al-Maliki and other Shiite leaders will now try to enforce complete authority over all the Iraq’s intelligence services but it remains to be seen how well they can perform.”

 

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