Sunday, September 25, 2005

UK government admits Iraq mass graves story is untrue

Downing Street admits Iraq mass graves story is untrue,12956,1263901,00.html

"Downing Street has admitted to The Observer that repeated claims by Tony Blair that '400,000 bodies had been found in Iraqi mass graves' is untrue, and only about 5,000 corpses have so far been uncovered."


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

"It was a booby-trapped car laden with ammunition and was meant to explode in the centre of the city of Basra in the popular market."

The following is taken from Global Research:

British "Undercover Soldiers" Caught driving Booby Trapped Car.

September 20, 2005

Why were undercover British "soldiers" wearing traditional Arab headscarves firing at Iraqi police? The incident took place just prior to a major religious event in Basra.

The report suggests that the police thought the British soldiers looked "suspicious". What was the nature of their mission?

Occupation forces are supposesd to be collaborating with Iraqi authorities. Why did Britsh Forces have to storm the prison using tanks and armoured vehicles to liberate the British undercover agents?

"British forces used up to 10 tanks " supported by helicopters " to smash through the walls of the jail and free the two British servicemen."

Was there concern that the British "soldiers" who were being held by the Iraqi National Guard would be obliged to reveal the nature and objective of their undercover mission?

A report of Al Jazeera TV, which preceeded the raid on the prison, suggests that the British undercover soldiers were driving a booby trapped car loaded with ammunition. The Al Jazeera report (see below) also suggests that the riots directed against British military presence were motivated because the British undercover soldiers were planning to explode the booby trapped car in the centre of Basra:

[Anchorman Al-Habib al-Ghuraybi] We have with us on the telephone from Baghdad Fattah al-Shaykh, member of the Iraqi National Assembly. What are the details of and the facts surrounding this incident?

[Al-Shaykh] In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate. There have been continuous provocative acts since the day before yesterday by the British forces against the peaceful sons of Basra. There have been indiscriminate arrests, the most recent of which was the arrest of Shaykh Ahmad al-Farqusi and two Basra citizens on the pretext that they had carried out terrorist operations to kill US soldiers. This is a baseless claim. This was confirmed to us by [name indistinct] the second secretary at the British Embassy in Baghdad, when we met with him a short while ago. He said that there is evidence on this. We say: You should come up with this evidence or forget about this issue. If you really want to look for truth, then we should resort to the Iraqi justice away from the British provocations against the sons of Basra, particularly what happened today when the sons of Basra caught two non-Iraqis, who seem to be Britons and were in a car of the Cressida type. It was a booby-trapped car laden with ammunition and was meant to explode in the centre of the city of Basra in the popular market. However, the sons of the city of Basra arrested them. They [the two non-Iraqis] then fired at the people there and killed some of them. The two arrested persons are now at the Intelligence Department in Basra, and they were held by the National Guard force, but the British occupation forces are still surrounding this department in an attempt to absolve them of the crime.

[Al-Ghuraybi] Thank you Fattah al-Shaykh, member of the National Assembly and deputy for Basra.

Text of report by Qatari Al-Jazeera satellite TV on 19 September (emphasis added)

Is this an isolated incident or is part of a pattern?

More significantly, have the occupation forces been involved in similar undercover missions?

Syrian TV (Sept 19, 2005) reports the following:

Ten Iraqis - seven police commandos, two civilians and a child - were killed and more than 10 others wounded in the explosion of two car bombs near two checkpoints in Al-Mahmudiyah and Al-Latifiyah south of Baghdad while hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were heading towards the city of Karbala to mark the anniversary of a religious event.

And in a significant incident in the city of Basra, which is also marking the same religious event, Iraqi demonstrators set fire to two British tanks near a police station after Iraqi police had arrested two British soldiers disguised in civilian clothes for opening fire on police. Eight armoured British vehicles surrounded the police station before the eruption of the confrontations. A policeman at the scene said the two detained Britons were wearing traditional Iraqi jallabahs [loose cloaks] and wigs.

An indepth independent inquiry should be ordered by Britain's House of Commons into the circumstances of this event.

Michel Chossudovsky Global Research Editor, 20 Sept 2005


UK denies storming Iraqi jail to free soldiers

Reuter, 20 September 2005

British forces have freed two undercover soldiers from jail in Basra after a day of rioting in the Iraqi city that was sparked when the soldiers fired on a police patrol.

An Iraqi Interior Ministry official says British forces stormed the jail using six tanks and that dozens of Iraqi prisoners escaped during the raid.

But Britain's Ministry of Defence says the release of the two soldiers had been negotiated and it did not believe the prison had been stormed.

"We've heard nothing to suggest we stormed the prison," a ministry spokesman said. "We understand there were negotiations."

Lisa Glover, spokeswoman for the British embassy in Baghdad, says three people have been wounded in the operation to free the soldiers.

She did not give further details of how the soldiers were freed.

The events in the mainly Shiite city are likely to worsen relations between British forces responsible for security in southern Iraq and the local population.

Police and local officials say the two undercover soldiers were arrested after opening fire on Iraqi police who approached them.

They say the men were wearing traditional Arab headscarves and sitting in an unmarked car.

"They were driving a civilian car and were dressed in civilian clothes when shooting took place between them and Iraqi patrols," an official in Basra said.

Mohammed al-Abadi, an official in the Basra governorate, says the two men looked suspicious to police.

"A policeman approached them and then one of these guys fired at him. Then the police managed to capture them," Mr Abadi said.

"They refused to say what their mission was. They said they were British soldiers and (suggested) to ask their commander about their mission."

Tank ablaze

Furious crowds pelted British armoured vehicles with rocks and petrol bombs after the shooting incident.

A British soldier was engulfed in flames as he scrambled out of a burning tank during the rioting.
He was pelted with stones by the crowd.

The tank tried to reverse away from trouble after it was attacked by Iraqis flinging petrol bombs, burning furniture and tyres.

Iraqis had driven through the streets with loudhailers demanding that the undercover Britons remain in jail.

Basra, capital of the Shiite south, has been relatively stable compared with central Iraq, where Sunni Arab insurgents have killed thousands of Iraqi and US troops, officials and civilians with suicide attacks, roadside bombs and shootings.

But relations remain tense between the British military and some local groups.

British Defence Secretary John Reid confirms in a statement that the two undercover soldiers are back with British forces, but sheds no light on their mission or how they were released.

"The situation in Basra is currently calmer after a day of disturbances," he said.

"At this stage it is not possible to be certain why these disturbances began."

The main ally of the United States, Britain said on Sunday it would if necessary increase the number of troops in Iraq, where it has about 8,500 soldiers.

Copyright Reuters 2005



How Britain invented terror bombing in 1920s Iraq

Extracts from an article at en.internationalism:

How Britain invented terror bombing in 1920s Iraq

Churchill was in no doubt that gas could be profitably employed against the Kurds and Iraqis (as well as against other peoples in the Empire): 'I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poison gas against uncivilised tribes.'

Today in 1993 there are still Iraqis and Kurds who remember being bombed and machine-gunned by the RAF in the 1920s.

A Kurd from the Korak mountains commented, seventy years after the event: 'They were bombing here in the Kaniya Khoran. Sometimes they raided three times a day.'

Wing-Commander Sir Arthur Harris (later Bomber Harris, head of wartime Bomber Command) was happy to emphasise that 'The Arab and Kurd now know what real bombing means in casualties and damage. Within forty-five minutes a full-size village can be practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed or injured.'

It was an easy matter to bomb and machine-gun the tribespeople, because they had no means of defence or retaliation. Iraq and Kurdistan were also useful laboratories for new weapons; devices specifically developed by the Air Ministry for use against tribal villages. The ministry drew up a list of possible weapons, some of them the forerunners of napalm and air-to-ground missiles:

Phosphorus bombs, war rockets, metal crowsfeet [to maim livestock] man-killing shrapnel, liquid fire, delayed-action bombs. Many of these weapons were first used in Kurdistan".

Hugh Trenchard, the RAF's chief of staff between 1919 and 1927 mentioned earlier, submitted a report to the Cabinet shortly after the RAF had temporarily quelled anti-British unrest in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Trenchard reported that Churchill had first employed aerial bombardment against Iraq's Kurds as a means of finding "some cheaper form of control". Trenchard enthusiastically endorsed the verdict of the British High Commissioner for Iraq that "a free and vigorous use of aerial resources" had proven to both highly potent and cost-effective.

The RAF chief of staff concluded prophetically:

"Air power is of vital concern to the Empire and in Iraq, under the control of an air officer, further evidence is accumulating of its great potentialities. A continued demonstration, until its effectiveness is beyond dispute, may have far-reaching results, in that it may lead to still further economies in defence expenditure, not only in Iraq, but also in other Eastern territories where armed forces are required to give effect to British policy and uphold British prestige".

Aerial bombardment had proven to be a satisfactory method of mass killing.

Jonathan Glancey (The Guardian, 19 April 2003) reports that the RAF "flew missions totaling 4,008 hours, dropped 97 tons of bombs and fired 183,861 rounds for the loss of nine men killed, seven wounded and 11 aircraft destroyed behind rebel lines".

The British bombing of Kurdistan was the first use of aerial bombardment.

British forces engaged in their third Afghan War soon after this also used this tactic.

The monster 'Bomber Harris' became notorious "for his ruthless championing of saturation bombing against German civilian and military targets" (Jonathan C. Randal, After Such Knowledge, What Forgiveness? My Encounters with Kurdistan, p. 5).

The British military certainly took to aerial bombardment with gusto as a means of spreading mass terror.

In 1921, Wing Commander J. A. Chamier suggested that the best way to demoralise local people was to concentrate bombing on the "most inaccessible village of the most prominent tribe which it is desired to punish.

All available aircraft must be collected, the attack with bombs and machine guns must be relentless and unremitting and carried on continuously by day and night, on houses, inhabitants, crops and cattle"(cited in Glancey, op. cit.).

After proving it in the colonies, this tactic was then deployed during World War II to a massive extent - first of all in the British and German blanket bombing campaigns against each other's populations, which included the massacre of the workers of Dresden in 1945.

In Dresden, preliminary sorties were flown using high explosives to remove the roofs from buildings.

This was followed by targeted bombing of phosphorous devices into houses, factories, offices, schools and hospitals, with the objective of spreading a devastating firestorm as rapidly as possible.

An estimated 150,000 to 200,000 people - many of these war refugees - were killed over three weeks. This was a casualty rate far in excess of the death toll exacted in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which were also just another example of a massive terror bombing campaign.

Churchill, Harris, Lawrence, Chamier, Trenchard and Hitler were certainly all terrorists of the first order....


British bombing of innocent Iraqis in the 1920s - to safeguard oil interests.

Extracts from 'Iraq, 1917'

by Robert Fisk, 17 June 2004, in The Independent.

Britain occupied Iraq in 1917.

"Full sovereignty" to Iraq... that's what the British falsely claimed more than 80 years ago...

British officials believed that control of Mesopotamia (Iraq) would safeguard British oil interests in Persia (Iran)...

Within six months, Britain was fighting a military insurrection in Iraq and David Lloyd George, the prime minister, was facing calls for a military withdrawal.

"Is it not for the benefit of the people of that country that it should be governed so as to enable them to develop this land which has been withered and shrivelled up by oppression? What would happen if we withdrew?" Lloyd George would not abandon Iraq to "anarchy and confusion".

By this stage, British officials in Baghdad were blaming the violence on "local political agitation, originated outside Iraq", suggesting that Syria might be involved...

In 1920, an insurgency broke out in the area of Fallujah, where Sheikh Dhari killed a British officer, Colonel Leachman, and cut rail traffic between Fallujah and Baghdad. The British advanced towards Fallujah and inflicted "heavy punishment" on the tribe...

The Royal Air Force, with Churchill's support, bombed rebellious villages and dissident tribesmen in Iraq.

Churchill urged the employment of mustard gas, which had been used against Shia rebels in 1920.

Squadron Leader Arthur Harris, later Marshal of the Royal Air Force and the man who perfected the firestorm destruction of Hamburg, Dresden and other great German cities in the Second World War, was employed to refine the bombing of Iraqi insurgents...

In 1924, Harris had admitted that "they [the Arabs and Kurds] now know what real bombing means, in casualties and damage; they know that within 45 minutes a full-sized village can be practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed or injured".

TE Lawrence - Lawrence of Arabia - remarked in a 1920 letter to The Observer that "it is odd that we do not use poison gas on these occasions".

Air Commodore Lionel Charlton was so appalled at the casualties inflicted on innocent villagers that he resigned his post as Senior Air Staff Officer Iraq because he could no longer "maintain the policy of intimidation by bomb".

He had visited an Iraqi hospital to find it full of wounded tribesmen.

After the RAF had bombed the Kurdish rebel city of Sulaymaniyah, Charlton "knew the crowded life of these settlements and pictured with horror the arrival of a bomb, without warning, in the midst of a market gathering or in the bazaar quarter. Men, women and children would suffer equally."

Already, we have seen the use of almost indiscriminate air power by the American forces in Iraq: the destruction of homes in "dissident" villages, the bombing of mosques where weapons are allegedly concealed, the slaughter-by-air-strike of "terrorists" near the Syrian border, who turned out to be a wedding party. Much the same policy has been adopted in the already abandoned "democracy" of Afghanistan.

Copyright: The Independent.

Iraqi Interior Minister says the 2 British soldiers were not handed to any militia.

Source BBC World at One Radio programme.

On the BBC radio news programme, The World at One, 21 September 2005, the Iraqi Interior Minister stated that the two British soldiers arrested by the Iraqi police were not handed over to any militia, but were kept in the police station.

It was also stated on the programme that it was quite normal for 'militias' to be integrated into the police; the police were bound to contain people who had previously belonged to various organisations.

Iraqi Interior Minister Baqir Solagh Jabr disputed the British military’s account of how it freed the captured soldiers in the southern city of Basra on Monday.

He told the BBC that the two British soldiers never left police custody or the jail in Basra, were not handed to militants, and that the British army acted on a “rumor” when it stormed the jail looking for them.

Iraq's interior minister disputed the British military's account. Bayan Jabor told the BBC the men had never left police custody or the jail in Basra and were not handed to militants.,1280,-5292689,00.html

Iraqi Interior Minister Baqir Solagh Jabr disputed the British military's account of how it freed the captured soldiers in the southern city of Basra on Monday.

He told the BBC that the two British soldiers never left police custody or the jail in Basra, were not handed to militants, and that the British army acted on a ``rumor'' when it stormed the jail looking for them...

In Basra, British and Iraqi forces continued to disagree about what had happened there.
Two Iraqi citizens who were wounded in clashes between British forces and Iraqi police died in a hospital Wednesday, raising the civilian death toll to five, police said.


Some of the views of the public

From the BBC 'talking point' site:

What exactly were our "special forces" up to, in plain clothes and a car packed with weapons? Today our media, en masse, is diverting our attention by claiming that insurgents are joining the Iraqi police. Isn't that exactly what "our boys" are doing, but in reverse?

Tim, UK

What violence means for invading troops is less than irrelevant, what really matters here is the fate of millions or Iraqis who have seen their country and lives devastated by the so-called 'liberation' perpetrated by the US-UK axis of carnage.

Gonzalo Vuez Villanueva, Santiago, Chile

I was shocked by the hypocrisy of the British forces in Iraq. How can they expect the local population, including the Sunnis, to respect the authority of the Iraqi government if the British forces themselves violate the rules of law, force their way into police stations and free prisoners? Get out of there before more embarrassing events like this happen.

Akbar Niazbutt, United Kingdom

The recent "incident" will reinforce the fact that the British are occupiers and not "helpers". What kind of mission were the two Brits on anyway? That is a very interesting question. They might have easily be suspected of playing the part of insurgents. It opens up for the question; is the insurgent story just a hoax? Is it all staged by the US and their ever so helpful Brits?

Einar Davidsson, Oslo, Norway

This simply makes a mockery of all the claims by the American and British government saying that they want the Iraqis to be responsible for their own security. When they try they are attacked by the British army. Things can only go from bad to worse as we have now made it clear that we, the British army, not the Iraqi security forces will decide what happens in Iraq.

Arthur, Derby, UK

From The British government has a lot of explaining and fence mending to do if it wants to avoid the mistakes of the US forces which led to the current situation in the Sunni areas north of Baghdad. The presence of the armed British military in civilian clothing is a situation which no doubt will be used by Sunni and pro-Saddam elements to argue that some of the recent attacks against Shias were organized by the British and US troops as part of a plan to confuse the situation in Iraq. The British forces should mend their relations with the local community to gain their trust and confidence.

Saad Al Attar, Basra, Iraq

From What happened is a message of warning that the honeymoon between the Iraqis in the south and the British soldiers has come to an end. Years have passed since the toppling of Saddam, but the supposed project of democracy is moving from bad to worse.

Ahmed Nashaat, Cairo, Egypt

Hang on - two British soldiers were arrested by the legitimate Iraqi police force and a tank was used to break them out of jail? Am I missing something, or isn't that an outrageous attack on the very police force we are supposed to be bolstering and supporting? If Iraq has broken down to that extent, then surely something else must be done, because what is happening now is clearly not working.

Katherine, London, UK

I was shocked by the hypocrisy of the British forces in Iraq. How can they expect the local population, including the Sunnis, to respect the authority of the Iraqi government if the British forces themselves violate the rules of law, force their way into police stations and free prisoners? Get out of there before more embarrassing events like this happen.

Pieter Visser, Cambridge, UK


Tuesday, September 20, 2005