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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Iraqi coalition on brink of collapse as country descends towards civil war

Iraqi coalition on brink of collapse as country descends towards civil war
· Key ally tells PM to choose between him and Bush
· Iranian leaders to meet Talabani at Tehran talks

Jonathan Steele in Irbil, Robert Tait in Tehran and Julian Borger in Washington
Saturday November 25, 2006


Iraq's precarious government was teetering yesterday as a powerful Shia militia leader threatened to withdraw support after sectarian killings reached a new peak and the country lurched closer to all-out civil war.
The prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, was forced to choose between his US protectors and an essential pillar of his coalition, when Moqtada al-Sadr declared his intention to walk out, potentially bringing down the government, if Mr Maliki went ahead with a meeting with President George Bush in Jordan next week.

Mr Maliki, a moderate Shia, faced the dilemma as the cycle of killings reached new levels of savagery. Yesterday, there were reports that at least 60 Sunnis had died in revenge killings and suicide attacks, including one episode in which Shia militiamen seized six Sunnis as they were leaving a mosque, doused them with petrol and set them alight, while soldiers reportedly stood by. In another attack, gunmen burned mosques and killed more than 30 Sunnis in Baghdad's Hurriya district before US forces intervened.

The violence added new urgency to a regional summit in Tehran this weekend on Iraq's fate. Iraq's neighbours, particularly Syria and Iran, have been accused of pulling strings in the Iraqi chaos, and Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is today due to play host to his Iraqi counterpart, Jalal Talabani.

The Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad, was invited but reports from Damascus suggested he would not attend. Syria restored diplomatic relations with Iraq this week after a 24-year gap.

In a reflection of the importance Iran attaches to the summit, Mr Talabani is also expected to meet the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the ultimate say on foreign policy.

Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, predicted that Mr Talabani's visit would produce "important agreements". He described the violence and the US-British occupying forces as "two sides of the same coin" adding: "The two issues should be taken into consideration jointly and a comprehensive solution found."

Observers in Tehran said the government there hoped to use its summit as an overture to Washington. "The Iranian leadership are trying to use Mr Talabani, who has a special role inside Iraq and has never criticised Iran, as a mediator between Tehran and Washington," said Saeed Leylaz, a political analyst. "Mr Ahmadinejad is hopeful that he can attract America's attention through Iraq."

One unknown quantity at the summit will be how much sway the Ahmadinejad government has over Mr Sadr, who visited Tehran last January and met senior Iranian officials, including the country's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani.

The broader question, growing more urgent each day, is whether anyone can now control the cycle of violence. Thursday was the most deadly day for Iraqi civilians, and morgue statistics showed that the past month has been the bloodiest since the 2003 invasion, according to the UN, with 3,709 civilians killed.

Since taking office, Mr Maliki has been under constant US pressure to disarm the Mahdi army and other Shia militias, while remaining beholden to them to stay in power. The Sadr party demanded yesterday that Mr Maliki "specify the nature of its relations with the occupation forces", demanded a timetable for a US withdrawal, and issued its ultimatum over the scheduled Bush-Maliki meeting in Jordan next Wednesday and Thursday.

"There is no reason to meet the criminal who is behind the terrorism," said Faleh Hassan Shansal, a Sadrist MP.

The White House appeared determined that the meeting should go ahead, after President Bush attends a Nato summit in Latvia on Tuesday. "The United States is committed to helping the Iraqis and President Bush and prime minister Maliki will meet next week to discuss the security situation in Iraq," said Scott Stanzel, a deputy White House spokesman.

Mr Sadr's people have six cabinet seats and 30 members in the 275-member parliament. Their vote in the intra-Shia haggling helped to select Mr Maliki as prime minister over other Shia rivals.

Mr Sadr used Friday prayers in the main mosque in Kufa, his headquarters in the Shia heartland south of Baghdad, to focus on Sunni leaders. He urged them to help end the slide into sectarian civil war.

Appealing directly to Harith al-Dari, the leader of the Association of Muslim Scholars, a radical Sunni organisation which has always denounced the US occupation, Mr Sadr told the congregation: "He has to release a fatwa prohibiting the killing of Shias so as to preserve Muslim blood and must prohibit membership of al-Qaida or any other organisation that has made Shias their enemies."

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2006

Saturday, November 04, 2006


The Following was taken off the Yahoo News Boards

by: meantoannoyuh2k (162/M/Wherever) 11/04/06 11:56 am
Msg: 224 of 227
12 recommendations

...someone help me off the floor...

OK. KKKonz...You have converted me. I have become a believer in God...

Know Why?


The Bush Era is so stocked with twisted irony and bizarre takes that no human writer could do it justice.

My GOD this is awful. Perle can go to the deepest ring of Hell along with all the other egomaniacal KKKonz who did this to the world.


The Writer was reacting to the following story:

By BARRY SCHWEID, AP Diplomatic Writer
Fri Nov 3, 6:38 PM ET

A leading conservative proponent of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq now says dysfunction within the Bush administration has turned U.S. policy there into a disaster.

Richard Perle, who chaired a committee of Pentagon policy advisers early in the Bush administration, said had he seen at the start of the war in 2003 where it would go, he probably would not have advocated an invasion to depose Saddam Hussein. Perle was an assistant secretary of defense under President Reagan.

"I probably would have said, 'Let's consider other strategies for dealing with the thing that concerns us most, which is Saddam supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorists,'" he told Vanity Fair magazine in its upcoming January issue.

Asked about the article, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said, "We appreciate the Monday-morning quarterbacking, but the president has a plan to succeed in Iraq and we are going forward with it."

Other prominent conservatives criticized the administration's conduct of the war in the article, including Kenneth Adelman, who also served on the Defense Policy Board that informally advised Bush. Adelman said he was "crushed" by the performance of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

The critiques come as growing numbers of Republicans have criticized Bush's policies on Iraq. The war, unpopular with many Americans, has become a top-tier issue in next week's congressional elections.

Perle said "you have to hold the president responsible" because he didn't recognize "disloyalty" by some in the administration. He said the White House's National Security Council, then run by now-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, did not serve Bush properly.

A year before the war, Adelman predicted demolishing Saddam's military power and liberating Iraq would be a "cakewalk." But he told the magazine he was mistaken in his high opinion of Bush's national security .

"They turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the postwar era," he said. "Not only did each of them, individually, have enormous flaws, but together they were deadly, dysfunctional."

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Memo To Don Young

To: Don Young
From: An AlaskaVoter
Subject: Democracy and Your Conditions of Employment.

Don, it has come to my attention that you refuse to campaign for your office.

According to the conditions of your employment, you are supposed to stand for election every two years.

Let me remind you that “stand for election” doesn’t mean standing thousands of miles away from Alaska in your residence in Virginia or standing in your Bermuda shorts in the Marianas.

Standing for election means coming home and mixing it up with your opponents. But you have refused to debate your campaign opponents this campaign season.

Your main opponent, Diane Benson, flew to Sitka for the Alaska Day parade because she knew you would be there, but you cancelled when you learned that she did so. Then, a few days later, she traveled to Fairbanks to a meeting you were scheduled to attend and, again, you learned that she would be there and you cancelled on those nice folks who wanted to talk to you.

I thought it was very accommodating of Diane Benson to help you meet your employment condition of “standing for election,” but then I learn, through the newspaper, that you are not actually campaigning when you travel to Alaska three weeks before an election.

The problem as I understand it is, if you had debated with Diane, the Congressional Accounting Office or someone might misconstrue this as campaigning and you might have to reimburse the federal government for your plane ticket to Alaska. With only $2 million in the bank, your campaign can ill-afford that. I understand.

I also understand that you want to be scrupulous as to appearance; a clear bright line between campaigning and doing “the people’s work”. The lavish reception in your honor during the GOP Convention in Philadelphia, courtesy of Jack Abramoff and Preston Gates & Ellis, was clearly on one side of the line and the fact-finding trip you took to the Northern Marianas Islands, an Abramoff client, was on the other side of the clear bright line.

But you know what? This memo isn’t about splitting legal hairs. It’s about your job. It’s on the line.

It’s on a clear, bright line called election day.

You see, this month (October) is on track to being the deadliest month for our soldiers this year and the fourth deadliest since the start of the war. Nearly three thousand of our soldiers and guardsmen have died, supposedly for democracy. You yourself have said they are over there fighting for democracy. My question, therefore, is simple:

Don, don’t you owe it to those who are dying over there to participate in the process called democracy here at home?

There are other issues on the voters’ minds that relate to your job: our economy is turning sideways, our social contracts are broken, and Congress has become something akin to the K Street bordello. You, Congressman, need to stand up and face these issues in front of us voters.

In response to an Anchorage Daily News reporter’s question, your campaign manager said: "A campaign event? We do not have any campaign events."

Don, your campaign manager has just earned my designation as the Maytag Repairman of the 21st Century: all dressed up with nothing to do.

In truth, I have lived with you so long, I have become strangely attached to that the ‘eau de bull’ that suffuses your tenure. But, Don, fewer and fewer Alaskans are so sentimental.

Recent polls show that you are an incumbent in trouble.

With nearly total name recognition, you barely eked out a majority in the Craciun poll (52%) and you fall short of that goal in the more recent Hays Research Group poll (43%). In the Hays poll, that pesky Diane Benson trails by only nine points. In both polls, there is a relatively large block of undecided voters. And it’s not just polls, Don; it’s the voters. The 102,000 votes cast in the Republican primary included 21,000 voters who deliberately did not vote for you. You received only 81,000 of those primary votes.

Don, maybe the Independents and Non-Partisans who voted in the Republican Primary were trying to tell you something. And maybe, just maybe, you will get the message on November 7.