Morning report: August 12, 2004

US, Iraqi forces strike Sadrist rebels in Najaf. Allied forces have surrounded militiamen loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr in Najaf and are launching a major offensive against them, according to this CNN report on Najaf operations. A recent report from Reuters says US Marines have seized the center of Najaf.

Mohammed on Najaf. Mohammed at ITM has some thoughts on Najaf. A friend who owns a hotel in Najaf tried to persuade the militiamen to leave the premises, but the hotelier's family, concerned for his safety, told him to leave them alone. Most civilians are said to have deserted the area. Regarding the al-Sadr militia, Mohammed writes: 'I was talking about this with some of my friends and I was trying hard to explain that the government was patient to show that force is not the only nor the 1st choice to confront problems but it will be the last choice and after exhausting all other possible solutions. All this to show that Iraq’s policy will be entirely different from that of the dictatorships that ruled in the past. A policy that seeks what’s best for the people rather than the government’s will or desire, to avoid any possible losses among people. However the truth has to be said and as one of my friends said, “what you say is true but the militias in question were the ones who raised arms and that was 1st choice, and here responding with force will be a self defense rather than a choice made in haste”.' Read the post at the link.

Iran regime's Shahab missile test successful. The IRI successfully tested the latest version of its Shahab-3 missile, which is said to be capable of striking Israel and US bases in the Persian Gulf. The missile, based on a North Korean model and modified with Russian technology, has a range of 1,300 kilometers. The CNN story adds that 'A senior Israeli defense source said Israel believed Tehran was developing a Shahab-4 missile with a range of 1,700 km (1,056 miles) capable of reaching Europe.'

Ahmad Chalabi returns from Iran; Iraqi Interior Ministry won't arrest. According to this AP article appearing on Fox News, former GC member Ahmad Chalabi - who faces a variety of accusations in Iraq - returned from a trip to Iran but appears to be safe from arrest, at least for now, as the Interior Ministry says it will not arrest Chalabi. The criminal charges against Chalabi stem from a stash of counterfeit Ba'athist-era currency that was found in a raid on his Baghdad home in May. His nephew, Salem Chalabi, faces murder charges.