RT News

Monday, June 11, 2007

Cold War & CIA Slogan

During the last cold war (1945 to 1989) the Muslims stood with America in its fight against communism. Many Arabs countries, le.g. Saudi Arabia, refused to recognise the Republic of China or the Soviet Union, although both have supported the Palestinians while America supported and armed Israel. Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda men accepted CIA money and arms to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. The dismantling of the Soviet Union left America as the only super power attacking others with impunity. At this moment there is an ongoing USraeli anti-Muslim crusade. It is a golden chance for Putin to support the Muslim revolutions and to defeat America and its mercenaries and agents in government. The cold war will produce a multi- polar world where American arrogance can be neutralised.

Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the Gulf supported Bush senior in his attack on Iraq. The CIA has succeeded so far in promoting the idea that Russia is as bad as America. Arabs will remain stupid as long as they don´t identify America as the enemy and work toward gaining friends, like Russia.

This is an old CIA slogan which equated friendly Russia with criminal America. Why should the USSR be with Arabs when most Arab leaders were towing the American line. Arabs and Muslims must identify America as the enemy and work to gain Russia as a friend.

Bush steps on the tail of the Iranian lion.
Ahmedinejad and Bush are heading towards a real heavy weight match. Bush is rushing all types of vessels and submarines in preparation for the imminent attack on Iran, probably before the end of June 2007. Bush needs to prove to Putin that America still has teeth to bite despite its humiliation in Iraq. In return, Ahmedinejad challenged Bush by saying that Iran is like a lion resting in his den and will devour those who dare to step on its tail. It is high time for Putin to regain Russia´s superpower status by anouncing his support for Iran in order to stop American provocations at Russian borders.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

U.S. Arming "Insurgents"

U.S. Arming "Insurgents"

For U.S. Unit in Baghdad, An Alliance of Last Resort

By Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Foreign Service

06/09/07 "Washington Post" --- - BAGHDAD, June 8 -- The worst month of Lt. Col. Dale Kuehl's deployment in western Baghdad was finally drawing to a close. The insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq had unleashed bombings that killed 14 of his soldiers in May, a shocking escalation of violence for a battalion that had lost three soldiers in the previous six months while patrolling the Sunni enclave of Amiriyah. On top of that, the 41-year-old battalion commander was doubled up with a stomach flu when, late on May 29, he received a cellphone call that would change everything.

"We're going after al-Qaeda," a leading local imam said, Kuehl recalled. "What we want you to do is stay out of the way."

"Sheik, I can't do that. I can't just leave Amiriyah and let you go at it."

"Well, we're going to go."

The week that followed revolutionized Kuehl's approach to fighting the insurgency and serves as a vivid example of a risky, and expanding, new American strategy of looking beyond the Iraqi police and army for help in controlling violent neighborhoods. The American soldiers in Amiriyah have allied themselves with dozens of Sunni militiamen who call themselves the Baghdad Patriots -- a group that American soldiers believe includes insurgents who have attacked them in the past -- in an attempt to drive out al-Qaeda in Iraq. The Americans have granted these gunmen the power of arrest, allowed the Iraqi army to supply them with ammunition, and fought alongside them in chaotic street battles.

To many American soldiers in Amiriyah, this nascent allegiance stands out as an encouraging development after months of grinding struggle. They liken the fighters to the minutemen of the American Revolution, painting them as neighbors taking the initiative to protect their families in the vacuum left by a failing Iraqi security force. In their first week of collaboration, the Baghdad Patriots and the Americans killed roughly 10 suspected al-Qaeda in Iraq members and captured 15, according to Kuehl, who said those numbers rivaled totals for the previous six months combined. He is now working to fashion the group into the beginnings of an Amiriyah police force, since the mainly Shiite police force refuses to work in the area.

"This is a defining moment for us," said Kuehl, who commands the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, attached to the 1st Infantry Division.

But aligning Americans with fighters whose long-term agenda remains unclear -- with regard to either Americans or the Shiite-led government -- is also a strategy born of desperation. It contradicts repeated declarations by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that no groups besides the Iraqi and American security forces are allowed to bear arms. And some American soldiers worry that standing up a Sunni militia could have dire consequences if the group turns on its U.S. partners.

"We have made a deal with the devil," said an intelligence officer in the battalion.

The U.S. effort to recruit indigenous forces to defend local communities has been taken furthest in Anbar province, where tribal leaders have encouraged thousands of their kinsmen to join the police. In the Abu Ghraib area, west of Baghdad, about 2,000 people unaffiliated with security forces are now working with Americans at village checkpoints and gun positions.

Kuehl said he recognizes the risks in dealing with an unofficial force but decided the intelligence that the gunmen provided on al-Qaeda in Iraq was too valuable to pass up.

"Hell, nothing else has worked in Amiriyah," he said.

It was about 2 a.m. on May 30 when Capt. Andy Wilbraham, a 33-year-old company commander, first heard military chatter on his tank radio about rumors that local gunmen would take on al-Qaeda. Later that morning, a noncommissioned officer turned to him with the news: "They're uprising."

"It was just a shock it happened so fast," Wilbraham said.

By noon, loudspeakers in mosques throughout Amiriyah were broadcasting a call to war: "It is time to stand up and fight" al-Qaeda. Groups of men, some in black ski masks carrying AK-47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, descended on the area around the Maluki mosque, a suspected al-Qaeda in Iraq base of operations, and launched an attack. For the most part, Kuehl's soldiers stood back, trying to contain the violence and secure other mosques, and let the gunmen do their work.

The next day, a Thursday, al-Qaeda counterattacked. Using machine guns and grenades, its fighters drove the militiamen south across several city blocks until they were holed up in the Firdas mosque, soldiers said. "I was getting reports every 10 minutes from one of the imams: 'They're at this point. We're surrounded. We're getting attacked. They're at the mosque,' " Kuehl recalled. He dispatched Stryker attack vehicles to protect the militiamen.

"We basically pushed that one back just by force," said Capt. Kevin Salge, 31, who led the Stryker team of about 60 men to the mosque. "We got in there. Our guns are much bigger guns. Then freedom fighters, Baghdad Patriot guys, started firing."

Spec. Chadrick Domino, 23, was with a Stryker unit that drove north of the mosque to set up a perimeter to prevent others from joining the fight. About noon, he was the first member of his team to walk into a residential courtyard. He may not have had time to see the machine gunner who killed him.

To the Americans, the fighters on both sides appeared nearly identical. They wore similar sweat suits and carried the same kind of machine guns. "Now we've got kind of a mess on our hands," Salge remembered thinking. "Because we've got a lot of armed guys running all over the place, and it's making it very hard for us to identify which side is which."

By afternoon, the Americans had secured the Firdas mosque and were helping treat the wounded who lay in the courtyard. Kuehl drove out from his headquarters to meet with the leaders of the militiamen and work out the terms that would guide their collaboration in coming days. Kuehl agreed to help if the militiamen did not torture their captives or kill people who were not affiliated with al-Qaeda in Iraq. The militiamen agreed to hold prisoners for no more than 24 hours before releasing them or handing them over to the Americans. They in turn wanted the Americans not to interfere and to provide weapons.

"We need them and they need us," Kuehl said. "Al-Qaeda's stronger than them. We provide capabilities that they don't have. And the locals know who belongs and who doesn't. It doesn't matter how long we're here, I'll never know. And we'll never fit in."

The militiamen, who call themselves freedom fighters, are led by a 35-year-old former Iraqi army captain and used-car salesman who goes by Saif or Abu Abed. In an interview, he said he had devoted the past five months to collecting intelligence on al-Qaeda in Iraq fighters in Amiriyah, whose ranks have grown as they have fled to Baghdad and away from the new tribal policemen in Anbar province. He has said his own group numbers over 100 people, but American soldiers estimate it has closer to 40. At least six were killed and more than 10 wounded in the first week of collaboration with Americans.

"These guys looked like a military unit, the way they moved," Wilbraham said. "Hand and arm signals. Stop. Take a knee. Weapons up."

Ali Hatem Ali Suleiman, a leader of the Sunni Dulaimi tribe who works in Anbar and Baghdad, said many of the fighters in Amiriyah belong to the Islamic Army, which includes former officers from Saddam Hussein's military and is more secular than other insurgent groups. The fighters have been organized and encouraged by local imams.
"Let's be honest, the enemy now is not the Americans, for the time being," Suleiman said. "It's al-Qaeda and the [Shiite] militias. Those are our enemies."

The American soldiers initially asked their new allies to wear white headbands and ride around in the Strykers to point out al-Qaeda households. But the joint patrols didn't work because the local fighters were disoriented after riding in the enclosed Strykers and couldn't find the right houses, Salge said.

Before long, he added, "people everywhere were wearing headbands, and I'm pretty sure that a lot of them were al-Qaeda."

The Americans then supplied reflective armbands that could be seen from their vehicle scopes, and had the fighters ride in Iraqi army Humvees instead of Strykers. They also gave the fighters plastic flex cuffs, to subdue captives, and flares -- red to use if they are in trouble and green to signal when a raid is over.
On June 1, a Friday, the fighters directed the soldiers to a large weapons cache. Sniper rifles, Russian machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and thousands of rounds of ammunition were stashed in a secret room, accessible only by removing a circuit-breaker box and crawling through a hole. While the Americans were tallying the haul, an explosive detonated outside, wounding several soldiers, including one whose feet were blown off.

In return for their services, the militiamen had one request: Give us the weapons in the cache.

"Who are these guys really?" Salge remembered worrying. He told them to talk to the battalion commander.

Kuehl said later that he would probably supply weapons to the militiamen, but in limited amounts. The fighters have given the Americans identification, including fingerprints, addresses and retinal scans, so the soldiers believe they could track down anyone who betrayed them. "What I don't want them to do is wither on the vine, " Kuehl said.

On Wednesday, a week after the fighting broke out, the Islamic Army issued a statement declaring a cease-fire with al-Qaeda in Iraq because the groups did not want to spill more Muslim blood or impede "the project of jihad." American soldiers played down the statement and suggested it did not reflect the sentiments of the men they are working with in Amiriyah.

Later that night, Wilbraham led his tank unit on an overnight mission to allow the militiamen to arrest seven al-Qaeda in Iraq members. The raids were to begin at 1 a.m., but two hours later the tanks were waiting on deserted streets, with no sign of the group. Then Wilbraham was told the militiamen had called off the raids.

The tank driver, Spec. Estevan Altamirano, 25, expressed skepticism about his new partners.

"Pretty soon they run out of al-Qaeda, and then they're going to turn on us," he said. "I don't want to get used to them and then I have an AK behind my back. I'm not going to trust them at all."

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Rising Persian influence is a sign of Iraq's ascendance, not Iran's.

Its newly ascendant Shiites no longer have to suppress their Persian roots, which tie them closely to Iran

By Borzou Daragahi, Times Staff Writer
April 16, 2007

NAJAF, IRAQ — Persian script laces and flows across the walls of Najaf's seminaries.

Shiite Muslim religious scholars in the ancient city's turquoise-tiled edifices bury their noses in Koranic texts illustrated with Persian calligraphy, in scenes that evoke Mesopotamia's rich history.

For centuries, Najaf has been a key shrine city and center of worship for much of Iraq's people. But for centuries, Iraq's Ottoman and Arab rulers rarely considered Najaf part of their own history. It was always considered a troublesome outpost of the enemy: Iran.

They were right, for the most part. Historically and culturally, Najaf has long been under Persia's sway.

But so has much of Iraq.

The reading of the Koran in this country differs from the rest of the Muslim world: The rhythm and cadence of Sunnis are unique to Iraq and the Shiites' are unique to Iran. Persian dishes such as fesenjan, a pomegranate stew, are a standard part of Mesopotamian fare. Even this nation's capital carries a Persian name, Baghdad.

The sectarian nature of the war between Shiite and Sunni Arabs in Iraq reflects a centuries-old battle between Persia and the Arab world.

It is a point often misunderstood by U.S. policymakers and ground commanders, who perceive the reemergence of Persian influence among Iraq's newly powerful Shiite Muslim majority as proof of meddling by the regime in Tehran.

Rising Persian influence is a sign of Iraq's ascendance, not Iran's.

"Iraq has been part of the Persian sphere of influence for more than 400 years," said Karar Dastour, an Iraqi Shiite intellectual who lives in southern Tehran and travels to Iraq. "But governments have always tried to crush anything that had the scent of Shiism or Iran. They were never accepted."

Violent Sunni Arab rejection of Iraq's Persian roots plays out daily on the streets of the capital. In February, three bombs went off in the Shorja market in central Baghdad, killing more than 70 people. It was the fifth time the place, whose name means "salty well" in Persian, was struck in less than a year. Shiite Muslims were the intended targets, but so too was a landmark established long ago by Iranian merchants.

When saboteurs blew up the Golden Mosque in Samarra last year, an attack widely viewed as the accelerant of the current civil war, they destroyed the handiwork of Iranian artisans.

In their Internet postings, Sunni Arab insurgents, many of them officers during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, describe their attacks on Shiites as settling accounts with "Safavids," a reference to the 16th century dynasty that embraced Shiite Islam as the official religion of Persia. Shiite Safavids and Sunni Ottomans fought for decades in a conflict that infused sectarianism into what had been a centuries-old ethnic and political conflict between Arabs and Persians.

"There has always been conflict between the Arabs and Iranians, and they always tried to involve Iraq," Sheik Humam Hamoodi, an Iraqi Shiite politician and cleric who lived in Tehran during Saddam Hussein's rule, said in an interview last year. "Both have wanted to use Iraq as the trench for their battles."

Ignoring the protests of many Shiites, the British forces who forged modern-day Iraq after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire placed a Sunni Arab tribal leader at the country's helm. They dismissed the quarrelsome Shiite clerics as Iranian-backed interlopers in their plans to create an Iraq dominated by Sunni Arabs.

Minority rule

Iraq's 20th century leaders tried to graft a Sunni-dominated Arab identity onto a country that was majority Shiite. Even during the relatively benign years before Hussein's rise in the late 1960s, Shiites visiting Sunni Arab towns such as Tikrit and Fallouja feared for their lives. Pilgrims visiting Samarra, which housed the famous Shiite shrine destroyed by Sunni insurgents last year, rushed to make it back to Baghdad by sundown.

The battle over Iraq's identity accelerated under Hussein, who brutally suppressed what he saw as the non-Arab elements of his country's character. Hussein equated Persians to "flies," invaded Iran and subsequently killed tens of thousands of Iraqi Kurds and Shiites, dubbing them Iranian collaborators.

Hussein banned ceremonies of Ashura, the annual festival-like holiday commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, revered by Shiites as a saint. He ordered the desecration of Shiite shrines and the silencing and execution of the sect's clerics, many of them of Persian descent or married into Persian families. Offices and banks were ordered to stay open on Nowruz, the Persian New Year that falls on the first day of spring and is celebrated by Iraqi Kurds as well as Iranians, Tajiks and Afghans.

"There was a sectarian dimension and there was an ethnic dimension to his hatred," said Musayeb Naimi, editor of Al-Wifaq, a Tehran-based Arabic-language newspaper. Hussein's downfall after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 ended the enforced separation between Iran and Iraq, much to the frustration and rage of Iraq's long-dominant Sunni Arabs. Industrially incapacitated, Iraq must import electricity, foodstuffs, appliances and automobiles from Iran and other neighboring countries such as Turkey and Syria.

Persian cultural influences, long suppressed, have reemerged in the last four years. After Hussein's ouster, Iranian and Iraqi Shiites embraced during mass commemorations of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, rites once banned under Baath Party rule.

Those rites have now become symbols of Shiite power. Sunni insurgents repeatedly attacked the pilgrims headed to Karbala last month, killing more than 200.

Persian has become common on the streets of Najaf and Karbala, as well as in Baghdad's Convention Center, where the Iraqi parliament convenes. Colorful posters of imams Ali and Hussein, of the kind found in pious Iranian enclaves, appear more frequently in Iraqi markets and homes.

Young Iraqi women have begun wearing the same Grace Kelly-style head scarves and short overcoats favored by Iranians.

Motorcycles, popular among youths in Iran but banned during Hussein's rule, traverse Baghdad streets, as do the heroin and opium that have become a habit for young Iranians.

Unease among Sunnis

To many Sunni Arabs, all those have been disturbing signs of a Persian ascendancy.

Brought up on a diet of Arab nationalist propaganda, Sunni Iraqis see their country's drift into the Persian sphere of influence as foreign. At first Sunni insurgents attacked mostly U.S. troops, whom they saw as an occupation force. But as the Shiite-dominated government took hold in early 2005, the attacks took a sharply sectarian turn. Seconds before his execution, Hussein cursed both the Americans who overthrew him and the "Persians" who shouted populist Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr's name as he stood on the gallows.

A bitter Jan. 2 television debate about Hussein's legacy on the satellite channel Al Jazeera underscored the ethnic underpinnings of Sunni Arab rage against Iraq's new Shiite order.

The debate pitted Mishaan Jaburi, a Sunni Arab politician, against Sadeq Moussawi, a Shiite journalist and supporter of the current government.

During the debate, which was posted on the Internet and rapidly became famous here, Jaburi waved sheets of white paper at Moussawi, screaming, "These are your documents! You are an Iranian citizen …. You are Persian."

"Your father killed Kurds," Moussawi snapped back.

"You are Iranian," Jaburi reiterated. "These documents show that [you]applied for Iraqi citizenship in May 2004."

Moussawi didn't bother denying the accusation. "We will settle accounts with all of you," he said instead.

Yet many of Iraq's Persian-influenced citizens are neither loyal to nor fond of the government in Tehran. Many Shiites fought on Iraq's side in the war against Iran. And most Iraqis who sought shelter in Iran during Hussein's rule experienced hardship and bigotry. But culturally and politically, they cleave toward Iran instead of Washington's preferred proxy powers — Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Iraqi Shiites have some leaders, including the cleric Sadr, who are Arab nationalists. In the last year, however, many of them have strayed from the Arab world, angered that Arab countries have shunned Iraq's newly crystallizing Shiite identity.

Persians and Shiism have become so intertwined that opposition to Tehran's policies across the region has taken on a Sunni character. Ethnic Baluchi separatists in southeastern Iran fight under the banner of a Sunni Muslim group linked to the Al Qaeda terrorist network. And in a growing number of cases, Iran's Shiite Arab separatists have converted to Sunni Islam.

Even as Sunnis fight Shiites, accusing them of being Iranians, Shiites have begun to whisper about the identity of Iraq's Sunnis.

"The Sunnis of Iraq aren't really Arabs," one Iraqi Shiite diplomat said recently. "They're Turks."