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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

UK inquiry into Iraq War : the drum beats before 9/11

Iraq inquiry: British officials heard 'drum beats' of war from US before 9/11 :

The first session of Sir John's public inquiry into the events before, during and after the war is hearing evidence from senior civil servants about British policy and plans for Iraq in 2001.

The British policy on Iraq was put under formal review at the start of 2001, when George W Bush arrived in the White House as US president.

Sir William Patey, then head of Middle East policy at Foreign Office said that in February 2001, the UK knew that some in the new US administration wanted to topple Saddam.

He said: "We were aware of the drum beats from Washington.However, he said that Britain was not then willing to engage in regime change in Baghdad. Our policy was to stay away from that."

Sir Peter Ricketts, then the political director at the FCO, recalled that in the summer of 2000, Condoleeza Rice, Mr Bushs national security adviser, had written an academic article suggesting Saddam should be removed.

But the inquiry heard that in 2001, the settled view of the UK government was that attacking Iraq would have been illegal under international law.Sir Peter said: "We quite clearly distanced our self from regime change. It was clear that was something there would not be any legal base for."

In 2001, Britain and the US were committed to a policy of containing Saddam, through economic sanctions, restricting his oil sales through the oil-for-food programme, and the imposition of no-fly zones in southern and northern Iraq. The two diplomats told the inquiry that the containment policy was failing in 2001, but that it could have been been viable if the United Nations had agreed a new "smart sanctions" regime in July 2001.

The new sanctions regime would also have thwarted those in the US who were arguing for a more confrontational policy towards Iraq.The new sanctions regime would have certainly satisfied us, Sir William said. It would have been arguable even against the hawks in Washington.

But Russia refused to back the new sanctions, because of its commercial interests in Iraq. The Russians were being given lots of contracts. It was virtually impossible to change the Russian view, Sir William said.

Sir Peter also revealed that there was a disagreement between Britain and the US about whether it was worth trying to get UN weapons inspectors back into Iraq.There was a dominant feeling in the US that a weapons inspection regime was risky, he said. Some Americans felt Saddam would pull the wool over the inspectors eyes about his military programes.Sir Peter said: We had more confidence in the weapons inspectors. It was an area where we probably disagreed with many on the American side.

Who's who in the Iraq inquiry

As Sir John Chilcot's Iraq inquiry opens, who's on the committee and who will they be talking to?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

US drone strategy raises concern in Pakistan

Unmanned drones are often the US weapon of choice in rugged areas such as Pakistan's South Waziristan province, which is located along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

But their use is generating growing anger. Piloted half a world away, drones let the US wage long-distance, remote-controlled warfare over Afghanistan and Pakistan.

As the attacks kill more and more civilians questions surrounding their use increase.

Monday, November 16, 2009

ONLF reported recent gains.

The officials of the Ogaden Liberation Front ( ONLF) have Thursday said they took over the control of more Ethiopian military bases with fighting that continued in the Somali region under Ethiopian control recently.

Abdukadir Hassan Hirmoge, the deputy chairman of ONLF guerrillas, claimed victory in clashes between both sides which continued in the region in over the past days, saying that they attacked more Ethiopian-controlled areas like Dudume Adde and Dufan - about 20 kilomitres from Dhagah-bur - and many other military positions, pointing out that they took over all the bases of the Ethiopians that they attacked in the recent fighting.

Mr. Hirmoge said that they also inflicted more casualties on Ethiopian troops and captured more weapons from them, adding that they will continue their fighting against the Ethiopians, whom he accused of committing actions against the Somalis in the region, such as raping, robbing, killing and so on.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Judge Richard Goldstone Report.

South African jurist Richard Goldstone, the inquiry also accused Hamas of war crimes and said both sides should investigate the allegations or face international prosecution. Over 1,300 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli attack, a majority of them civilians. Nine Israelis were killed by Palestinians and another four by so-called friendly fire. The bipartisan, non-binding House measure calls the Goldstone inquiry “irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy.”

Monday, November 9, 2009

Riz Khan - The Goldstone report dispute

The UN General Assembly will debate the Goldstone report, which concluded that both Israel and Hamas committed war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity, during the war on Gaza last winter. We ask: what is the fate of the Goldstone report?