Iraq: il ruolo di Siria e Iran; discordanze USA

Vice primo min. Irak, Barham Saleh, ha accusato Siria e Iran di appoggiare la resistenza, e avanzato generiche minacce di reazione.

· Un rapporto di un dirigente CIA al governo, al termine di visita in Irak, sottolinea la debolezza delle forze di sicurezza irakene, e il pericolo che la violenza aumenti se i sunniti non vanno a votare.

· Bush ha incontrato il pres.irakeno Yawer, sunnita, nel tentativo di indurre i sunniti a votare. Si è rivolto a soldati in stadio del Sud California, regionie che ha avuto alta % di vittime.

· La Defense Intelligence Agency accusa forze speciali USA di intimidazione nei confronti dei propri agenti per coprire violenze su prigionieri. Emerge scontro FBI-militari anche su Guantanamo. I rapporti in questione sono stati resi noti in seguito ad ingiunzione di tribunale Federale su richiesta di organizzazioni umanitarie.

Divergenze tra responsabili USA su Siria.

John Abizaid, comandante USA in M.O., ha affermato che Siria sta facendo sforzi per bloccare afflusso di guerriglieri in Iraq ed ha arrestato almeno un dirigente baathista sulla lista nera USA, condividendo con USA i risultati delle interrogazioni.

· Negli ultimi mesi diverse missioni USA hanno fatto pressione su Siria (colpita con sanzioni).

Altri esponenti USA ritengono che Siria stia solo facendo finta di collaborare, ma lascia che resistenza irakena sia diretta da Damasco.

· La differenza di opinioni potrebbe trovare spiegazione nel fatto che i comandanti USA brancolano nel buio riguardo l’organizzazione della resistenza.

Iraqi Leader Blames Neighbors For Tide of Foreign Fighters

Associated Press
December 7, 2004 5:36 p.m.
An Iraqi deputy prime minister expressed impatience Tuesday with neighboring countries for not doing enough to prevent foreign fighters from joining the insurgency, and Russian President Vladimir Putin said he “cannot imagine” how Iraq’s elections can go forward next month amid the violence.
Also Tuesday, two U.S. servicemen were killed, the military said. A soldier was slain by small-arms fire while on patrol in Baghdad and a Marine died in a vehicle accident in western Anbar province.
Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh, in a speech to the Iraqi National Council, didn’t specify which countries were to blame for allowing foreign fighters into Iraq. He said earlier, however, that Iraqi police had arrested a Syrian citizen driving a car packed with artillery shells and other explosives.
“There is evidence indicating that some groups in some neighboring countries are playing a direct role in the killing of the Iraqi people and such a thing is not acceptable to us,” Mr. Saleh said, adding that talks with foreign leaders to stop the problem had gotten nowhere.
“In my opinion, we have reached a stage in which if we do not see a real response from those countries, then we are obliged to take a decisive stance,” Mr. Saleh said, without giving details.
In the past, Iraq has blamed much of its insurgency on foreign fighters and has called on its neighbors — particularly Syria and Iran — to guard their borders more closely against infiltration. Neighboring countries have expressed concern that instability in Iraq poses a threat to the entire region.
Report from Outgoing CIA Officer
In a farewell assessment of Iraq’s security and political situation, the Central Intelligence Agency’s senior officer there wrote that a stronger government and economy are necessary to avoid descent into wider violence, a U.S. official said Tuesday.
It’s critical to have the Sunni population take part in the Jan. 30 election, the officer wrote in a mixed review of the situation, according to the U.S. official.
The official discussed the Baghdad station chief‘s classified assessment on condition of anonymity. The chief, whose identity is confidential, is leaving Iraq after completing a scheduled tour, the official said.
The officer’s assessment was first reported Tuesday in The New York Times. It was distributed around the U.S. government in late November, the official said.
The chief wrote, according to the officer, that Iraq’s interim government is getting organized and enjoys more legitimacy in the public’s eyes than the former U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council. The assessment also praised the resilience of many Iraqis faced with a challenging situation.
However, he also said Iraqi security forces, being built to take over security from American troops, are improving but not quickly enough to keep pace with the increasingly violent insurgency. This, in turn, has prevented the government from projecting authority throughout the country.
A key issue is whether Sunni Muslims will participate in the elections. The officer predicted that violence would only increase if they did not.
Sunni Muslims represent one-fifth of Iraq’s nearly 26 million people, and wielded the power under Saddam Hussein. They fear the election will give Shiite Muslims, with 60% of the population, an overpowering grip on the nation. U.S. and Iraqi officials are concerned that a boycott by Sunnis could undermine the legitimacy of a new government. The CIA officer says this will lead to increased violence.
Although the Bush administration has said it plans to stick to the Jan. 30 election date despite the violence, Mr. Putin expressed doubts4 about the date in a meeting in Moscow with interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.
On Monday, President Bush met with interim Iraqi President Ghazi al Yawer and said it was impossible to “guarantee 100% security” in Iraq, but pledged the U.S. would do everything it could to make the elections as safe as possible.
Mr. Yawer, a Sunni Muslim, expressed resolve to defeat the insurgents, saying “victory is not only possible, it is a fact.” He said most Iraqis want the elections. His White House visit was seen as a way to persuade Iraq’s political minorities, comprising mostly Sunni groups, not to boycott the elections.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bush, appearing before cheering U.S. forces Tuesday, declared that terrorists won’t be able to control Iraq’s destiny because “free people will never choose their own enslavement.”
Mr. Bush said that as election day in Iraq approaches, “we can expect further violence” but also said that the balloting must proceed.
The terrorists and insurgents “know democracy will give Iraqis a stake in the future of their country,” Mr. Bush said. “When Iraqis choose their leader in free elections, it will destroy the myth that the terrorists are fighting a foreign occupation and make clear that what the terrorists really are fighting is the will of the Iraqi people.”
Mr. Bush addressed troops at a stadium at Camp Pendleton in southern California, which has experienced one of the largest casualty rates in Iraq.
Documents on Prisoner Abuse Released
Separately, U.S. special forces accused of abusing prisoners in Iraq threatened Defense Intelligence Agency personnel who saw the mistreatment and once confiscated photos of a prisoner who had been punched in the face, according to U.S. government memos released Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The special forces also monitored e-mails sent by de
fense personnel and ordered them “not to talk to anyone” in the U.S. about what they saw
, said one memo written by the agency’s chief, who complained to his Pentagon bosses about the harassment.
Prisoners arriving at a detention center in Baghdad had “burn marks on their backs” as well as bruises and some complained of kidney pain, according to the June 25, 2004 memo.
FBI agents also reported seeing detainees at Abu Ghraib subjected to sleep deprivation, humiliation and forced nudity between October and December 2003 — when the most serious abuses allegedly took place in a scandal that remains under investigation.
The ACLU memos reveal behind-the-scenes tensions between the FBI and U.S. military and intelligence task forces running prisoner interrogations at Guantanamo Bay and in Iraq as the Bush administration sought better intelligence to fight terrorists and the deadly Iraq insurgency.
“These documents tell a damning story of sanctioned government abuse — a story that the government has tried to hide and may well come back to haunt our own troops captured in Iraq,” said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the New York-based ACLU.
The documents were released only after a federal court ordered the Pentagon and other government agencies to comply with a year-old request filed under the Freedom of Information Act filed by the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans for Peace.
A spokesman for U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida, which directs special military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, declined to comment on specific allegations.
Elsewhere in Iraq:
• Militants bombed two churches in the northern city of Mosul. Deputy provincial Gov. Khasro Gouran said one blast struck a church in eastern Mosul, wounding three people. An hour later, gunmen stormed the Chaldean Christian church in western Mosul, forced out the few people inside, rigged explosives and set them off, Father Ragheed Aziz said. No casualties were reported.
• A U.S. Army tank company commander accused of killing a wounded member of a militia led by radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr in Iraq will be court-martialed5, the Army said Tuesday. Following the military equivalent of a civilian grand-jury investigation, First Armored Division commander Maj. Gen. Martin Dempsey decided to go ahead with the court-martial of Capt. Rogelio Maynulet, division spokesman Maj. Michael Indovina said in a statement. He will be tried on charges of assault with intent to commit murder and dereliction of duty.
• U.S. troops have captured 34 Iraqis, including 10 wanted for making explosive devices to attack coalition forces. Meanwhile, south of Baghdad, a roadside bomb killed three Iraqi National Guardsmen Monday night. Iraq has seen a wave of attacks in recent days targeting the country’s security forces, who tend to have less training than their American counterparts and are thus far more vulnerable. More than 80 Iraqi security force members have been killed since Friday in a series of attacks.
Copyright © 2004 Associated Press

U.S. Sees Efforts By Syria to Control Border With Iraq



December 10, 2004; Page A3

Senior military officers and other U.S. officials say Syria has made a serious effort in recent weeks to stanch the flow of fighters moving across its border into and out of Iraq, and has arrested at least one former Iraqi Baathist accused by the U.S. of helping to finance and coordinate the insurgency.

“The Syrians have made an effort to control the borders better,” Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. military commander in the Middle East, said. “We believe that they have moved to a certain extent against some of the foreign fighter networks.”

Gen. Abizaid said Damascus hasn’t done enough to stop “former Baathists from operating in their country. And we’re not completely satisfied that they’ve stopped the flow of foreign fighters ideologically linked to” terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. But, he said, “The Syrian government understands that, ultimately, a stable Iraq is to the benefit of Syria” and allowing extremists to operate on Syrian soil “ultimately works against the Syrian government.”

“It’s clear they’re doing more on the border, ” he said. “We can see it….But are they doing enough? In my mind no, not yet.”

The suggestion of a new approach from Syria is at odds with recent harsh criticism coming out of Washington and from Iraqi officials. In an interview this week, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said the “damage [Syria and Iran] are doing inside of Iraq is killing Americans.” Iraq’s national security adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie yesterday accused Syria of allowing insurgent leaders to direct operations from Damascus and to allow insurgents to freely cross the border into Iraq. “It is very difficult to convince me that the Syrian government does not know about these activities,” he told Reuters.

The view from key U.S. military officers in the field appears to be different. Another senior military officer described a series of recent steps the Syrians have taken to tighten up their border with Iraq, including increasing the number of troops and checkpoints and building berms to make crossing over more difficult. According to this officer, the Syrians have made “hundreds of arrests at the border” and have used their security forces “to go after guys” that the U.S. has asked for.

Meanwhile, a civilian U.S. official said the Syrians arrested one comparatively big fish in recent weeks, at the request of the U.S. The person arrested is believed to be a former Iraqi military officer involved in the Iraqi insurgency. The Syrians haven’t turned the former officer over to the U.S. or to Iraqis, “but there is intelligence coordination going on,” according to the U.S. official, with Syria sharing the result of his interrogation.

Officials in Washington and the region agree that Damascus has provided haven for former supporters of Saddam Hussein, some of whom are believed to be financing and helping direct the insurgency, and for a long time made no effort to halt the flow of fighters across its border into Iraq.

One Pentagon official who favors harsher treatment of Damascus dismissed any changes in Syrian behavior as cosmetic, and said the Syrians recently allowed a meeting of former Iraqi Baathists supporting the insurgency to take place in Lebanon.

Indeed, views differ over how seriously to take recent changes in Damascus’s behavior — and whether to meet it with more engagement or additional pressure.

Late last year, Congress approved the Syria Accountability Act, mandating new penalties on Damascus for supporting anti-Israeli terrorism and for its misbehavior in Iraq. In May, President Bush imposed new sanctions. Some lawmakers are calling for additional penalties, as well as a downgrading in diplomatic contacts.

U.S. diplomats and political officers in the field say Syria’s changed behavior began after a series of meetings with U.S. officials this fall. In mid-September, Assistant Secretary of State William Burns met with Syrian leader Bashar al Assad in Damascus and strongly protested Syria’s failure to control its borders, according to a U.S. official. He also complained that the Syrians were allowing so-called former-regime elements to coordinate the insurgency out of Damascus and that Syrian Baathists allied with Mr. Assad also were providing support to the insurgency, the official said.

While Mr. Burns made no specific threats, he pointedly reminded the Syrian leader of the U.S.’s Syria legislation, and Mr. Assad pledged to improve Syri
a’s efforts with Iraq, the official said. Still, U.S. officials remained extremely skeptical that he would follow through.

Mr. Burns’s visit to Damascus was followed by several other visits by U.S. civilian and military officials, including a meeting in late September among senior U.S., Syrian and Iraqi military officers and civilian officials.

At that meeting, the U.S. provided the Syrians with a list of senior individuals involved in the insurgency whom the U.S. wanted arrested or expelled from Syria.

It isn’t clear why there is such a gap in perception with regard to Syria and its support for the Iraq insurgency. One reason for the rift may be that U.S. officials still don’t have a clear picture of how the insurgency in Iraq is organized and financed.

“If you ask each of the division commanders [in Iraq], ‘Who is the enemy?’ you will get a different answer from each — if you get a coherent answer at all,” said one senior defense official who has recently traveled to Iraq.

Leave a Reply