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Andrew's Iraq Report: May 17/04

Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. This briefing is brought to you by Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted dot com.

TOP TOPICS

  • A suicide car bomb killed the head of Iraq's Governing Council and at least eight other Iraqis in Baghdad. Abdel-Zahraa Othman, also known as Izzadine Saleem, was the second member of the Governing Council to be assassinated. The council selected Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer, a civil engineer from the northern city of Mosul, to replace Saleem. Although this may be a difficult blow to U.S.attempts to stabilize Iraq, the Governing Council was slated to turn whatever power it had over to the interim government July 1. If this attack doesn't derail the transition, the new government should be able to move on from this attack without great difficulty.

Other Topics Today Include: the U.S. puts down an uprising in Baghdad; Coalition command structure revised; Fallujah townspeople and al-Sadr discuss cooperation; al-Sadr's political success; Saddam told he could be given back to 'his' people.

REPORTS FROM THE FIELD

IRAQI POLITICS

  • Representatives from Fallujah reportedly met with Motaqda al-Sadr Sunday to discuss taking up common cause against the Coalition. If true, this could be a disastrous turn of events for the Coalition. But at the same time, one of the former Iraqi generals in charge of the security force in Fallujah called on its leaders to support American efforts to stablize Iraq. So the question remains, which side will come out on top? (Hat tip: The Agonist.)
  • As the June 30 deadline for handover of power to an interim Iraqi government looms close, the United States is hard at work on the new American embassy in Baghdad. The embassy will be responsible for helping the new Iraqi government keep the peace while a final government is put in place, meaning that a great deal of responsibility will rest on controversial ambassador John Negroponte after 30 June. And a lot of questions remain over the precise role the embassy will play, the authority it will hold, and the goals it will try to achieve.

THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE

  • Phil Carter examines the expected guilty plea from the first of the MPs to be prosecuted for Abu Ghraib. Phil hits the nail on the head when he points out that "The fact that [their superiors] didn't know about these events isn't enough. If they should have known about them, by doing proper nighttime inspections and spot-checks, and they didn't know, then they're still legally culpable." I'll go one further and say that leaders at the prison should have known what was going on, and they were either negligent for not knowing or knew what was going on and didn't say anything.
  • Colin Powell was in Jordan Sunday trying to repair U.S.-Arab relations in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal. Unsurprisingly, King Abdullah II of Jordan used this meeting as an opportunity to try and gain U.S. support for the Palestinians against Israel once again, suggesting that reported Arab anger over Abu Ghraib may well be a front by Arab governments (not known to be overly concerned about public opinion in their own dealings) to put pressure on the Bush administration to undertake some favored positions.

ETCETERA

  • If you haven't done so already, you need to read Dan Darling's rationale for the war in Iraq and what to do next. (Part II is here.) You may disagree with it, but Dan raises points that deserve to be argued on the merits.
  • The troops are still there. So is the Winds of Change.NET consolidated directory of ways you can support the troops: American, Australian, British, Canadian & Polish. Anyone out there with more information, contact us!

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