Morning Report: September 22, 2005

Iraqi political scene. Iraq the Model carries a roundup of Iraqi politics. 'The political scene in Iraq these days is full of events with the parties feeling that time for starting campaigning is approaching. However these campaigns took the form of exchanged attacks and accusations without presenting programs or platforms for development and reform which are much needed. Perhaps the only player who preferred to act quietly is Allawi who stayed away from the lights while making continuous tours to gather support from as many parties and trends as possible to form a mid-liberal trend with no sectarian or ethnic identity. ... Maybe what's going to assist Allawi this time is that he didn't join the cabinet although encouraged to do so by the Sheat and the Kurdish blocs; this together with the poor performance of the current government when compared to Allawi's made Allawi seen as a better alternative by many Iraqis especially that a new alliance backed by the clergy is not likely to appear anymore after the intense differences that emerged between the major players in the present alliance namely the SCIRI, the Da'wa, Fadheela Party and the Sadrists and the differences reached the degree of armed clashes in some cases after which the Sadrists said they will be entering the next elections alone. Chalabi being the founding father of the alliance sensed the critical situation which made him make an announcement saying "I made the alliance and I can form a stronger one..." this announcement reflects the depth of the problems this alliance is going through, in the first time Chalabi remained silent while he built the alliance and he tried to stay away from the media but now I think he's facing a tough situation that pushed him to adopt this daring attitude and stop being silent. ... In such atmospheres critical of the governmental performance, the governing parties found themselves surrounded in a weak position and took a decision to respond by releasing a controversial report accusing Allawi's cabinet of massive corruption. This report which took a lot of attention and coverage in the past few days took the political battle to the lands of the opposition represented by the Iraqi bloc of Allawi and the former defense minister Hazim Sha'lan who's joining Allawi's alliance now after he formed his own movement. Everyone here know how dangerous corruption is and we said it more than once that it is just as dangerous as terrorism so attempts to fight corruption are welcome but the latest report was lacking a mechanism for a solution or even the precursors for a plan and was more like a shot taken to weaken the position of the political opponents.' Read the full report at the link. (ITM)

UK pulls forces from Basra streets. British forces are being removed from patrols in Basra, southern Iraq, in the wake of recent Iraqi/British clashes. Fox reports: 'British troops in the tense southern city of Basra greatly reduced their presence in the streets Thursday, apparently responding to a call from the provincial governor to sever cooperation until London apologized for storming a police station to free two of its soldiers. For the second day, no British forces were seen with accompanying Iraqi police on patrols of Basra, as they routinely had in the past. Elsewhere, a roadside bomb hit a U.S. convoy in southern Baghdad, killing one soldier and wounding six others Wednesday. Suspected insurgents gunned down at least eight Iraqis in four separate attacks Thursday, officials said. In an interview with Associated Press Television News in Baghdad Thursday, Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie called Monday's attack by British forces on a police station in Basra "a flagrant violation of Iraqi sovereignty." At least five Iraqis were killed during a day of clashes between British forces and Iraqi police and demonstrators on Monday. British armor crashed into a jail to free the two soldiers who had been arrested by Iraqi police and militiamen. Earlier, a crowd attacked British troops with stones and Molotov cocktails.' (Fox)

Missing Iraqi defense funds. The Belmont Club offers a preliminary analysis of reports of massive embezzlement from the Iraqi defense budget. Wretchard notes that irrespective of whatever funds may have gone missing, the Iraqi army has successfully procured a formidable arsenal. '... in the light of the equipment that is physically in evidence, at least in training and operations, the Independent's depiction of the absence of Iraqi equipment seems something of a stretch.' Full post at link. (Belmont Club)

Manuscript fragment ends. Also from the indispensable Wretchard, a historian looks back at Tal Afar: 'Two groups of men fought in a place called Tal-Afar about 3,532 years ago. One group of men, called 'insurgents', soundly defeated another group called Americans, and their allies the Kurds, but for reasons unclear in the manuscript fragments, the insurgents evacuated the battlefield although they could hardly be pressed by the Americans, who were apparently a people who frequently cursed, yelled and ran from place to place in fear.' Such would be the account if based on Michael Ware's article at Time magazine, which is long on atmospherics and short on 'the who, what, where, when of the narrative.' Further complicating matters for this historian is the competing narrative offered by another fragment. Read the full post at the link. (Belmont Club)

Simon Wiesenthal, 1908-2005. Simon Wiesenthal, the famous Nazi Hunter has died in Vienna at the age of 96, the Simon Wiesenthal Center announced today (September 20th). "Simon Wiesenthal was the conscience of the Holocaust," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the International Human Rights NGO named in Mr. Wiesenthal’s honor, adding, "When the Holocaust ended in 1945 and the whole world went home to forget, he alone remained behind to remember. He did not forget. He became the permanent representative of the victims, determined to bring the perpetrators of the history’s greatest crime to justice. There was no press conference and no president or Prime Minister or world leader announced his appointment. He just took the job. It was a job no one else wanted. The task was overwhelming. The cause had few friends. The Allies were already focused on the Cold War, the survivors were rebuilding their shattered lives and Simon Wiesenthal was all alone, combining the role of both prosecutor and detective at the same time." Overcoming the world’s indifference and apathy, Simon Wiesenthal helped bring over 1,100 Nazi War Criminals before the Bar of Justice. There will be a news conference at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Tuesday, September 20th at 10 am.' (Simon Wiesenthal Center)