Friday, July 30, 2004

The Adults Take Over 

Under pressure from allies, the U.S. has agreed to share command of the NATO training force that will supply "military equipment, protection for U.N. personnel and training for both its regular forces and border guards" to the interim government of the paradise-on-earth we have made of Iraq:
NATO clinched a deal on Friday to start training Iraqi forces next month after the United States, faced with resistance from France, agreed to shelve its demand that the mission come under U.S.-led coalition command.

"This alliance is united on Iraq," NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer declared after envoys from the 26 allied nations met for the sixth time in three days on an issue that rekindled tensions over last year's Iraq war.

He told a news conference around 40 NATO officers would leave for Iraq in early August to help the insurgency-plagued government rebuild its ministry of defense and military headquarters . . . .

Washington had pressed for an immediate decision to put NATO's mission under the command of the U.S.-led multinational force in Iraq, arguing this was essential to ensure the safety of NATO staff in a dangerous environment.

"The French, Germans and others forced the Americans to retreat," said a senior French diplomat.

Some said Paris, Europe's fiercest opponent of last year's U.S.-led invasion, wanted to avoid handing Washington any international support on Iraq that could enhance President Bush's chances of re-election.
But why? The Americans, acting alone, have done such a remarkable job keeping all the people of Iraq safe and secure -- as Robert Fisk's catalogue of horrors in the Independent makes plain:
Iraq, we are told by Mr Blair, is safer. It is not. US military reports clearly show much of the violence in Iraq is not revealed to journalists, and thus goes largely unreported. This account of the insurgency across Iraq over three days last week provides astonishing proof that Iraq under its new, American-appointed Prime Minister, has grown more dangerous and violent.

But even this is only a partial record of events. US casualties and dozens of Iraqi civilian deaths each day are not included in the reports. But here are the events, as recorded by the United States military on 20, 22 and 23 July. Few were publicly disclosed.

20 July

Baghdad: A US aircraft was attacked by a surface-to-air missile over Baghdad airport. An improvised explosive device detonated under a bridge near al-Bayieh fire station. A second bomb exploded when the "Facility Protection Service" arrived. In other areas, there were four bombings, three RPG assaults and six gun attacks, almost all on US forces.

North of Baghdad: A civilian supply convoy was attacked at Samarra. A bomb exploded on a bus in Baquba, killing six. A mine went off in Balad. A US convoy was attacked with RPGs and gunfiree at Salman Pak. There were roadside bombings of US forces at Mandali, Samarra, Baquba, Duluiya and Muqdadiyeh, and three grenade attacks (at Tikrit, Samarra and Kirkuk, with shootings at Muqdadiyeh, Balad, Hawija, Samarra, Tikrit and Khalis.

West of Baghdad:An American foot patrol set off a landmine at Khalidiya. A civilian tractor hit a mine at Hit. There was an RPG attack on a school in Karmah. Roadside and other bombs also detonated in Fallujah, Hit, Ramadi and Qaim. There were also attacks on US troops at Hit, Karmah, Saqlawiyeh and Ramadi.

South of Baghdad: International troops discovered two 107mm rockets aimed at the house of the governor of Diwakineh, and a roadside bomb detonated near Iskanderiyeh. In Basra, the city council co-ordinator and his three bodyguards were killed near a police checkpoint by three men in police uniform.
And the transition to democracy is running right on schedule:
The conference of top civic and tribal leaders to pick a national assembly was postponed Thursday amid allegations of fraud and corruption.

The announcement of the delay came as violence and kidnappings by insurgents seeking to undermine the U.S. presence and the new Iraqi government continued, especially in Ramadi, where three sons of the governor of Al Anbar province were seized. On Wednesday, at least 68 Iraqis died in the deadliest car bombing since Iraq gained sovereignty last month.

Early today, Powell made an unannounced trip to Baghdad where he was expected to hold talks with senior Iraqi officials, Associated Press reported. Powell is the highest ranking U.S. official to visit Iraq since the interim government took power June 28.
If he has a spare moment, perhaps Secretary Powell can try to locate some of the millions in oil revenues that the CPA and its cronies, under Paul Bremer's command, stole from the people of Iraq:
A comprehensive examination of the U.S.-led agency that oversaw the rebuilding of Iraq has triggered at least 27 criminal investigations and produced evidence of millions of dollars' worth of fraud, waste and abuse, according to a report by the Coalition Provisional Authority's inspector general.

The report is the most sweeping indication yet that some U.S. officials and private contractors repeatedly violated the law in the free-wheeling atmosphere that pervaded the multibillion-dollar effort to rebuild the war-torn country.

More than $600 million in cash from Iraqi oil money was spent with insufficient controls. Senior U.S. officials manipulated or misspent contract money. Millions of dollars' worth of equipment could not be located, the report said . . . .

In one case, a senior U.S. advisor "manipulated" the contracting system to award a $7.2-million security contract. The contract was later voided and the money returned.

In another incident, a contractor billed $3.3 million for nonexistent personnel working on an oil pipeline repair contract. A security contractor guarding the pipeline overcharged the CPA by $20,000. Both incidents are under criminal investigation.

In another example, a military assistant to a Pentagon employee gambled away part of a $40,000 grant issued to help coach an Iraqi sports team, the report found . . . .

Many of the report's findings concern the handling of Iraqi oil revenue, which was placed into a special account called the Development Fund for Iraq. All told, more than $20 billion passed through the account, which was not subject to the same stringent contracting and accounting rules as U.S. government money.

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