Washington suffered a double blow in its plans for Iraq yesterday as France and Germany balked at the Bush administration’s proposals for an international force while British Prime Minister Tony Blair gave a cautious response to a call for 5,000 extra British troops.
The draft resolution sponsored by the United States attempts to create a United Nations mandate for an international force while keeping the troops under US command.
Washington is urgently seeking ways to reduce the burden on its 140,000 troops in Iraq, because of increasing casualties and the cost of occupation.
But skepticism is running high in the corridors of the UN, where diplomats have not forgotten the diplomatic bloodletting of last winter that resulted in the US and Britain invading and occupying Iraq without UN authorization.
The French and others are determined to make it clear the UN is in no way legitimizing the US decision to go to war against Iraq. France holds veto power over the resolution.
Many states also want the UN role in the political process to be put on a much firmer basis. The US is anxious to get that approval before the General Assembly meets later this month.
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld toured Iraq yesterday where he said Washington will speed up training for Iraqi security forces, including former members of Saddam Hussein’s military and intelligence services.
He said the U.S. military is "looking at ways of accelerating" the process of bringing former members of Saddam’s military–and possibly his security services–into the Iraqi security forces.
Meanwhile, Rumsfeld may be the only person in Iraq who does not have complaints about the country’s massive shortages of electricity. After returning on a Black Hawk helicopter from one downtown compound to an American base near the city’s airport, Rumsfeld said quote "For a city that’s not supposed to have power, there’s lights all over the place. It’s like Chicago."
According to a report in the Arab-language Al-Hayat newspaper, a delegation from the Israeli intelligence service, the Mossad, visited Baghdad last month in order to coordinate its anti-terrorism efforts with U.S. forces in Iraq.
Basing its report on comments made by an anonymous Kurdish official, the newspaper claimed that the delegation carried out a field tour in the Iraqi capital and aerial tours in a U.S. military helicopter above Mosul, Tikrit and Ramadi.
The official claimed that U.S.-Israeli security coordination in Iraq has been stepped up.
While there have been reports that Israeli companies have been invited by the U.S. to do business in Iraq, this is the first report of Israeli security officials visiting the country.
Iran’s spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei mentioned last week that an Israeli delegation visited Baghdad, without identifying the nature of its mission.
A civilian affiliated with oilfield services giant Halliburton was shot and killed in Iraq, the second person connected to the firm to die in an attack in a month.
The employee, who was not identified, worked for Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root and was assigned to a team supporting Army mail delivery.
The U.S. military in Baghdad confirmed that a U.S. civilian contractor was killed Wednesday in Iraq, but would not offer any details.
An American civilian contractor employed by KBR was killed Aug. 5 when a remote-control bomb exploded under the truck he was driving north of Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit.
Halliburton, the oil field-services and construction company formerly led by Vice President Dick Cheney, has major contracts for reconstruction in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Iraq’s new foreign minister said on Thursday Turkish troops should not be let into Iraq as peacekeepers as their presence could undermine the security of the country rather than improve it.
Turkey’s Prime Minister brushed off the foreign minister’s objections to a Turkish presence in Iraq, saying that his country — which is in talks with U.S. military officials on a possible deployment — would decide for itself.
The father of a soldier killed in an incident in Iraq that former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch survived said that Lynch’s million-dollar book deal will taint the memory of the soldiers killed in the ambush.
Randy Kiehl, the father of Army Specialist James Kiehl said quote "Pretty severe, isn’t it? That she makes money off the death of my son and off the deaths of so many others."
On Tuesday, a publisher announced that Lynch signed a $1 million deal for a book that will tell Lynch’s story. Kiehl called Lynch a profiteer and said he also blames the publisher and others who waved that million-dollar check in front of her.
The Pentagon is spending millions of dollars to develop "environmentally friendly" lead-free bullets for all of the US Armed Forces.
They will still kill you, the thinking seems to be, but the environment will not suffer so much. The Pentagon is paying Minnesota-based Alliant, the world’s largest ammunition maker, $5 million to develop lead-free combat bullets.
A former Howard University professor and Palestinian activist is scheduled to be jailed for the second time in five years for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating the Palestinian group Hamas’s finances and activities.
Abdelhaleem Ashqar, who taught at Howard for three years, gained national attention for a six-month hunger strike in 1998 while he was jailed for not cooperating with a New York grand jury. In a separate case last month in Chicago, a court again held Ashqar in civil contempt for refusing to talk to a grand jury even after he was granted immunity.
Unless he wins an appeal, Ashqar said he will fly to Chicago on Friday to go to jail rather than participate in what he called a "witch hunt" against Palestinians fighting Israeli oppression.
Authorities allege that Ashqar organized meetings with activists from the Islamic Resistance Movement in Philadelphia in 1993 and Oxford, Miss., where he was a graduate student, in 1994. He has never been indicted or charged with a crime.
Miguel A. Estrada, a Honduran-born lawyer selected by President Bush to be a judge on a powerful U.S. appellate court gave up his two-year quest to win Senate confirmation in the face of unshakable Democratic opposition to a nomination laden with partisan, ethnic and constitutional overtones.
Bush reluctantly withdrew the nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit after Estrada told him he wanted to move on with his legal career and family life.
In an angry statement released by the White House, the president said Estrada had received "disgraceful treatment" from Democrats who blocked a confirmation vote. He called it "an unfortunate chapter in the Senate’s history."
Democrats and liberal activists, who portrayed the Washington lawyer as an extreme conservative unwilling to answer basic questions about his judicial philosophy, quietly claimed a significant victory.