Morning Report: November 5, 2004

Blair criticizes Chirac, Schroeder. British Prime Minister Tony Blair recently criticized Jacques Chirac of France and Germany's Gerhard Schroeder for their countries' lack of support for reconstruction in Iraq, and called on them to work more closely with the US administration. The French and Iraqi governments appear to be trying to patch relations after Iyad Allawi, on Thursday, accused anti-liberation countries like France of being "mere spectators" in the war that deposed Saddam Hussein; Chirac, in turn, missed a Friday meeting with Allawi. Chirac stated that he was unable to attend the Friday meeting on account of the memorial service for the late Sheik Zayed of UAE and denied snubbing the Iraqi leader, according to this CNN report.

US prepares for Fallujah incursion. American forces continued airstrikes on Fallujah in preparation for an expected assault on the enemy stronghold in Iraq. The US is awaiting approval for the assault from Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. A recent Debka bulletin states: 'US commanders say Friday deferred assault on two insurgent bastions [Fallujah and Ramadi] is imminent.' Detailed information about Fallujah may be found at Global Security.

Analysis by Alaa. 'The “negotiating” team from Falujah has written a letter to the government stating the terms and conditions for solving the crisis from their point of view. It is an arrogant letter demanding more or less surrender and reinstatement of the apparatus of the Saddam regime under thinly disguised pretexts and carefully crafted sentences. These conditions were described by Kassem Dawood the minister of Security affairs as “laughable”. It is noteworthy that this minister himself is a Sunni.

It is important to tell you that apart from the Saddamists, their religious extremist allies do not properly belong to any established Sunni sect. So it is a common mistake, even by many ill-informed Iraqis and Moslems, to imagine that the branch of Salafi Wahabists who advocate and practice violence, are Sunnis. In fact they are against all established denominations of the Islamic religion. The origin of this creed is a small breakaway fringe group that migrated to the Arabian Peninsula long time ago and remained a small obscure sect until the advent of “Muhammad Abdul Wahab”(and hence Wahabism), and his puritanical preaching, in what is now called Saudi Arabia, more than two centuries ago. The founders of the present Saudi dynasty used this movement first to expand their power and eventually gain political control of the Arabian Peninsula. Later on the Saudis themselves clashed with the movement and brutally suppressed the so called "Ikhwan" rebellion in the 19th century. Nevertheless Wahabism remains the official creed of the present regime in S.A. and some other Sheikdoms and small states in the Peninsula. This is not to say however, that all Wahabists are terrorists and extremists. Mostly it is just another of these religious sects and people tend to inherit these labels from their ancestors. The rise of the current dangerous terrorism in its present form, in the name of Islam, is quite a recent phenomenon, and as I have said in a previous post, has a lot to do with the cold war and its aftermath; and can be precisely traced to the events in Afghanistan and Iran in the seventies and eighties of the last century.' - The Mesopotamian, November 1

India, Israel near defense deal. 'Israel is close to striking a USD 230 million deal with India under which it would sell 50 Eagle/Heron unmanned aerial vehicles to New Delhi', reports the Press Trust of India. The Eagle/Heron is a medium-altitude, long-range reconnaissance drone.