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Ed Webb's List: iraq discussion 09

    • Seasoned observers find preposterous the prospect that a crash training program could double the size of both the police and the army and turn them into effective, upright and independent security forces in the space of two years or so. (Obama wants to begin drawing back down U.S. forces in only 18 months.) Nor would mere basic training address the problems of illiteracy, drug use, corruption, desertion and ethnic grievances.
    • Obama is in danger of being misled by the inside-the-Beltway think tank consensus on what happened in Iraq, and of applying those "lessons" to Afghanistan. Even if the two actually resembled one another, the Washington story about Iraq is full of holes. But they are very different countries, societies and situations. Bush caught a break with his surge, inasmuch as it coincided with a massive shift in the local power balance. Obama will have to be very lucky indeed to catch a similar break in Afghanistan.
    • He said, in his opinion, the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was legal – a view rejected by critics who say it violated international law – but was of "questionable legitimacy."


      "It did not have the democratically observable backing of the great majority of member states, or even perhaps of the majority of people inside the U.K.," he said.


      In London, an anti-war rally in 2003 drew an estimated 2 million demonstrators – the largest street protest in a generation.

    • The late Iraqi dictator is lauded on a mysterious satellite channel that began broadcasting on the Islamic calendar's anniversary of his 2006 execution.
    • The Associated Press tracked down a man in Damascus, Syria named Mohammed Jarboua, who claimed to be its chairman.


      The Saddam channel, he said, "didn't receive a penny from the Baathists" and is for Iraqis and other Arabs who "long for his rule."


      Jarboua has clearly made considerable efforts to hide where it's aired from and refuses to say who is funding it besides "people who love us."

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    • The British oil giant BP will today take control of Iraq’s biggest oilfield in  the first important energy deal since the 2003 invasion. The move has  created uproar among local politicians invoking resentful memories of their  nation’s colonial past.
    • Many Iraqi MPs say that the deal is illegal, and that the constitution should  give them, not the Oil Minister, the final say over the country’s vast  resources.

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    • This 67-page report documents a wide-reaching campaign of extrajudicial executions, kidnappings, and torture of gay men that began in early 2009. The killings began in the vast Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, a stronghold of Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia, and spread to many cities across Iraq. Mahdi Army spokesmen have promoted fears about the "third sex" and the "feminization" of Iraq men, and suggested that militia action was the remedy. Some people told Human Rights Watch that Iraqi security forces have colluded and joined in the killing.
    • using religious and ethnic divisions
        to split Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia   to control their oil rich provinces
    • The Baath Party that's surfaced in the aftermath of Iraq's Jan. 31 provincial elections is composed of secular Sunni Muslims — who dominated Saddam's party — and a few Shiites. Some Iraqis welcome its return as an alternative to religious politics, but others dread it, especially Shiites and Kurds, who were on the receiving end of Saddam's despotism.
    • Despite the success of the provincial elections, it remains to be seen whether they've put Iraq on a path to unity after five years of sectarian strife, or whether the divisions among Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, and within those groups between Islamists and secularists, will prove to be more powerful than Iraqi nationalism is.

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