Wednesday, August 18

Operation Censorship

Over the course of the last few days there have been reports that Iraqi officials want the press out of Najaf. Maru at WTF is it now, brought this new development to my attention:
Iraqi officers threaten reporters
By Stephen Farrell
August 18, 2004

IRAQI police have threatened to kill every journalist working in the holy city of Najaf, where US forces are locked in a tense stand-off with Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army.

After a series of veiled warnings to leave on Sunday, two marked police cars pulled up at dusk outside the Sea of Najaf hotel on the outskirts of town, where Arab and Western journalists are staying.

Ten uniformed policemen walked into the hotel and demanded that the al-Arabiya, Reuters and AP correspondents go with them.

Journalists told them they were not there, but the policemen found and arrested Ahmed al-Salahih, the al-Arabiya correspondent, who the day before had been given a special exemption from the earlier eviction orders.

A uniformed lieutenant then told the assembled journalists and hotel staff: "We are going to open fire on this hotel. I'm going to smash it all, kill you all, and I'm going to put four snipers to target anybody who goes out of the hotel. You have brought it upon yourselves."
Nice, you couldn't ask for a less ambiguous request, I'll be packing my shit up now and getting the hell out of Dodge. They must have a new angle of attack that the world should not see, maybe some suprise remodeling or a big cake and they don't want to ruin the suprise. Just in case you were worried about the Ali iman Shrine Allawi assures us that all wil be fine:
After US marine commanders last week issued a hawkish threat "to finish this fight that the Moqtada militia started", Mr Allawi moved swiftly to defuse alarm even among his own senior government officials, reassuring Iraqis: "The holy shrine will remain safe from all attacks that could possibly harm its sacredness."
Glad to know that the sacreliciousness of the shrine will be maintained, even though we pretty much have blasted the shit out of the holiest of cemetaries. It is also nice to see the marines have stepped up their macho rhetoric, cause god knows we need more of that. A quick trip over to Juan Cole reveals some interesting charges, that the marines may have engaged the mahdi fighters on their own:
Alex Berenson and John Burns of the New York Times make the explosive allegation that local Marines in Najaf launched the attack on Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Militia on August 12 all on their lonesome, without direction from the Pentagon in Washington. At most, they had authorization from the American-appointed governor, Ali al-Zurfi, though he won't take responsibility for it all, either.
So who in fact is in command of our troops on the ground. And if a local provisional governor can authorize attacks made by US forces, I can only imagine the variety of uses that someone with scores to settle could accomplish, using our men. I must be a cynical bastard to believe that those american appointed officials over their would not have the best interests of our troops at heart. Oh, now I know why, I am increasingly convinced that Dubya does not have the country's best interest at heart. Cole also has the latest on the labarynthine tale that I have previously referred to as the Plame Identity and the Pakistani Supremecy, there now seems to be a question as to who outed Khan. I'm off to find out more about it myself. Later