Reuters AlertNet - Iraq Kurds say launch attack on militant Islamists
: " An Iraqi Kurdish faction controlling part of northern Iraq said on Saturday it had launched an offensive to crush an Islamist group that both it and Washington have accused of having links to al Qaeda. A senior official of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which runs part of the Kurdish enclave it helped wrest from Baghdad in 1991, said PUK forces were determined to wipe out Ansar al-Islam during the U.S.-led war to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein" 10:25:26 PM
Al-Ahram Weekly | Baghdad vertigo: "Over the past few days, Iraqi authorities have forced large numbers of Arab and foreign journalists to leave Iraq.. Some in Baghdad believe that these measures are to cover-up massacres that special units of the Republican Guard and Feda'yee Saddam are preparing for in the event that there is even the slightest hint of revolt. Shi'ite areas in Baghdad are under siege and several arrests have been made against those of the sect residing in the capital. In Baghdad, we also hear of foreign nationals, including people from other Arab countries, attending special training camps under the supervision of Iraqi intelligence and Uday Saddam Hussein himself. .. It was also rumoured that some take up positions outside of Iraq after completing their training.
[This] was only rumour until 3 March when Iraqi television surprised us with confirmation of their existence [on] a daily programme, Homat Al-Watan (The Defenders of the Homeland), produced by the Armed Forces .. As he brandished an anti-tank bazooka, the man proclaimed to his comrades that he was at the front-line south of Basra, and was one of a group of volunteers from Egypt, Syria and Lebanon who had come to fight for Iraq and its leader. He cheered (in praise of Saddam): "Oh pride of Islam, God and the nation are with you!" A few days later, the Iraqi Ministry of Information permitted a number of satellite stations to film and conduct interviews at a training camp in eastern Baghdad where such volunteers are found. Interviews mentioned possible attacks against several targets around the world once the US hits Baghdad.
.. I asked Ali -- after I gained his trust and we became friends -- "what will the position of the Iraqi people be if the Americans come here?" Ali responded: "Will the Americans come here to do the same as they did in Japan and Germany in 1945, causing those countries to become what they are today? Or will the Americans come, as they did in 1991 and 1998 to carry out attacks here and there after which Saddam proclaims victory, and then that he is resisting an unjust siege, while continuing to crush us as he did in the past? I know there are no answers to these questions. I also know that if you asked anyone here, and if he is able to talk to you without fear, it is certain that they will tell you: May Satan come here to deliver us. They have oppressed us with humiliation, poverty and slavery; we want a solution of any kind." 5:30:56 PM
Friedman: Repairing the World: "On the environment, the president has never appreciated how damaging it was for him to scrap the Kyoto treaty, which was unimplementable, without offering an alternative. Nothing has hurt America's image more than the impression Mr. Bush has left that when it comes to terrorism — our war — there must be a universal crusade, but on the environment — the universal concern of others — we'll do whatever we want. .. for 18 months all we've been doing is exporting our fears to the world. Virtually all of Mr. Bush's speeches are about how we're going to protect ourselves and whom we're going to hit next. America as a beacon of optimism — America as the world's chief carpenter, not just cop — is gone. We need a little less John Wayne and a little more J.F.K. Once we get this Iraq crisis behind us, we need to get back to exporting our hopes, not just our fears. " 9:44:23 AM