|The Iraq War|
Report for 2003-04-07
The closer we are to the hour "X" (taking control of Baghdad by the British-American command) the more contradictory information coming from the capital of Iraq becomes. Apart from military confrontation, both sides fight on the information battleground in an equally furious way, and this fight affects outward things immeasurably greater since the world views the real situation in Baghdad according to its virtual image.
A certain stereotype has already formed. Two different informational arrays broadcast daily: mass media working for the anti-Iraq coalition graphically speaking about details of just another victory of the American and British troops, taking control of new Iraqi territories, etc. Iraqi and Arab media disprove this information reporting from the territories purportedly occupied by the coalition forces but in fact being controlled by the Iraqi army.
Since the end of the last week the world has been regularly watching Saddam Hussein - in the street surrounded by enthusiastic Iraqis, at the meeting with the military, at the council of his ministers and sons. The Whitehouse hastened to claim - the USA is not sure that it was Saddam himself on the film of Iraqi television. The allies still suppose the idea that the person holding the military meetings and walking along the streets of ruined Baghdad might not be Saddam, but his double. America has turned Hussein into a symbolic image possessing features of a leader, hero and martyr and the same time. Authenticity as a category may only interest Pentagon and does not impact mobilization of Baghdad defenders for their struggle against the aggressor.
A distinctive comment was given by CNN observers: if it was really Saddam Hussein on the pictures then it is a signal to the coalition forces: "I am alive and will continue fighting".
The next day after the whole world saw the president of Iraq walking about Baghdad, the president of the USA broke out into abuse towards him. In a daily Saturday broadcast appeal to the nation Bush accused Hussein of "acts of meanness and murder", stating that "during the operations Saddam's assassins use women and children as human shields". Bush also claimed that the Iraqi officials "killed Iraqi citizens who saluted the coalition troops, forced Iraqis to fight [by] threatening to torture or murder their families, executed prisoners of war, organized attacks under cover of white flags, hid military units in civilian areas, schools, hospitals and mosques, did their best to maximize casualties among the civilian population and used those casualties for propaganda". No accusation was proved. Lies continue. The same day, April 5th, Victoria Clark, an official Pentagon representative admitted that the USA has no evidence of the main accusation against Hussein - that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.
Nevertheless, the coalition command is in such a hurry to announce victories one after another that even their own mass media have to cool their blaze. For example, Saturday morning Frank Torp, a representative of the American command reported American tanks to have taken their stand in the center of Baghdad stating that the case in point is not "just a simple raid into the capital of Iraq". However, tens of journalists, as BBC reporters put on the air, failed to find any tracks of American presence. Later the coalition HQ had to tone down their claims - this time it is a matter of a "powerful strike" against the positions of the Iraqi regime.
The same contradictory picture accompanied the takeover of the airport in Baghdad. As far back as on Friday the coalition command announced that they had taken control of the international airport named after Saddam Hussein that is located near Baghdad and renamed it. As brigade general Vincent Brooks said, "the airport has got a new name: the international airport of Baghdad, and it has become the gate to the Iraqi future". But already on Saturday the Minister of Information of Iraq claimed that the Iraqi army had managed to take the international airport back. Saturday evening fedayeens - Iraqi militiamen - arranged a demonstrative automobile parade. They drove along the most significant highways of the city shooting in the air and shouting anti-American slogans. According to a BBC estimation this action made it evident that the regime of Saddam Hussein continues to control the Iraqi capital. Thus, neither repeated takeover announcements by the coalition command, nor the most terrible censorship that a few well-known American journalists have already fallen to, were able to made the international public opinion mistake [these] tales for reality.
Saturday evening Saddam Hussein made another appeal to the people of Iraq. He called the population to "protect the homeland, especially Baghdad, crush the enemy, strike and cause new wounds to it". "Repulsion of aggression, resistance inside and outside Baghdad" was said to be the national duty of the Iraqis. The message was read out by the Minister of Information Mohammed as-Sahaf.
During the whole of Sunday the coalition forces were trying to secure several directions that will be used to storm the Iraqi capital. There were battles at the outskirts of Baghdad too. CNN reported that the coalition units had made significant progress, completely surrounding and blockading Baghdad. Yet the commander of the 1st brigade of the 3rd Mechanized Division Colonel Grimsly said that the roadway Baghdad-Kirkuk at the north of Iraq is still controlled by the Iraqi army and "we're still to seize it".
On Sunday an automobile column of Russian diplomats and journalists left Baghdad and was shot at. According to Alexander Minakov, the reporter of the "Russia" TV channel who was in the column, the cars got under heavy fire from the coalition forces directed at Iraqi positions along the path of the convoy. "All the 8 automobiles in the column were damaged", said the reporter. "There are holes in all of them. 2 bullets got into the rear side of our jeep, where we had our baggage and equipment". As a result of the shooting incident 5 Russian journalists were wounded. Minakov confirmed the information that the column was fired at with M-16 rifles that the American soldiers and marines are armed with. American officials denied their connection to this incident. Speaking on CNN an American official said that there were no coalition units where the column was passing and it was attacked by Iraqi forces. Instead [he said], the Americans knew of the departure and had assured its safety.
Post-war plans. Without waiting for Baghdad to be captured, Washington announced its plan for the post-war period in Iraq. According to Reuters, presentation of that document is to happen in the nearest future and will take place in Umm-Qasr, which is controlled by the coalition forces. There is no information about who will form a part of the future Iraqi government, but it has become known that each department will be lead by an American military man helped by up to 4 Iraqis. It is expected that the government of Iraq will consist of 23 ministries in total. Decision regarding future staff will remain in American hands, in particular, those of the Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. According to his words, the new Iraqi government will be created not sooner than 6 months after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. It is the period that was required for Kurdistan government formation. But in Iraq everything is more complicated and it will take more time, stressed Wolfowitz.
With each new day of the war it's becoming more and more clear that Washington does not consider the UN as a serious partner in the process of formation of the post-war Iraq. The National Security advisor Condoleezza Rice clearly left the UN out of a leading role in this process. "I think after liberation of Iraq paid by our soldiers' lives it is absolutely natural to expect the coalition to play the leading role", Rice said. As for the UN, in the post-war development of Iraq it will be offered two roles: delivery of humanitarian help and the "oil for food" program realization. State Secretary Colin Powell spoke more diplomatically. According to his words, the role of the UN in the post-war reconstruction of Iraq is to be determined by the Security Council, and Iraq should be led by a government formed from local representatives, but for all that no members of the now-ruling party Baath should be allowed.
The American public opinion. An informative survey was held by the Los Angeles Times. According to its results the overwhelming majority of Americans (75%) support the war in Iraq and 68% of the respondents fully support the politics of the president of the United States George W. Bush (the highest level of popularity of the Whitehouse leader since summer 2002). 50% advocate that the UN should perform the post-war reconstruction of Iraq and not the USA. About a half of the respondents believe that the military action will help stabilize the Near-East situation, about 62% reckon that this intervention will help make the world safer. Only 18% of the US citizens suppose that George bush started the war in Iraq being guided by his personal interests or political motives. About 42% of Americans think that the USA must undertake a similar operation in Syria, and 46% opposed this idea. Almost a half of the respondents support invasion of Iran if that country fails to stop its nuclear weapons program, but 36% were categorically against such an action.
These results are quite symptomatic. They mean that the American propaganda has already succeeded in its "black deed" of forming the idea of a threat coming from the "evil axis" in the American public opinion. The Gallup service has published the results of a survey related to the race aspect in the attitude towards the war. Afro-Americans support the war least of all - only 29% of them favor the decision to start the war. White Americans are tuned more aggressively - 78% of them consider the decision right. On average, according to Gallup, 72% support the war. It is by 9% less than in 1991, when American troops participated in banishment of Iraqi units from Kuwait, says Washington Profile.
[Translated by Necroman.]
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