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In the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriya, 22 people have been killed including at least 12 Italians and eight Iraqis, after a suicide bomb exploded outside an Italian military police station. This marks the first time Italy suffered combat-related fatalities in Iraq. The U.S. headquarters in Baghdad also came under mortar attack last night. No casualties were reported.
Yesterday in Baghdad, the U.S. top general in Iraqi, Ricardo Sanchez admitted that the U.S. was still in a war in Iraq. He said “We are not walking away, we are not faltering, we are going to win this battle, and this war.”
Today’s attack in Nasiriya comes a day after Paul Bremer, the American overseeing the Iraqi occupation, was rushed back to Washington for an emergency meeting on the state of Iraq. He met at the White House with Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and CIA director George J. Tenet. One Defense Department official told the New York Times Bremer was called to Washington to defend his approach in Iraq. According to the New York Times, the leaders discussed the future of the Iraqi Governing Council, the possibility of installing an interim Iraqi leader as the U.S. did in Afghanistan and other means of handing more power to Iraqis.
A new Gallup poll of residents of Baghdad have found that only 5 percent of those polled believe the United States invaded Iraq to “assist the Iraqi people” and only 1 percent believe the U.S. invaded to establish a democracy there. 43 percent of those polled feel the U.S. invaded to “rob Iraq’s oil.”
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Turkey is warning it will preemptively attack northern Iraq unless the U.S. removes Kurdish rebel groups from the mountains of Northern Iraq. Turkey’s Foreign Minister told the Los Angeles Times, “Turkey has the right to take preemptive action to defend its own security interests, just as Israel and the United States do. The U.S. government must take this issue seriously.”
The Senate Tuesday voted 89 to 4 to impose diplomatic and economic sanctions against Syria unless the country makes major concessions to the U.S. Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd voted against the measure saying he feared the vote could “later be used to build a case for a military intervention against Syria.”
Meanwhile Newsday reports that the U.S. intelligence community is ramping up warnings of the possibility of a Syrian nuclear threat. A new report by the CIA given to Congress this week said for the first time that “We are looking at Syrian nuclear intentions with growing concern.” But independent experts questioned Syria’s nuclear ambitions. One former National Security Council member Vincent Cannistraro said the report seems to be based less on intelligence than on the “prevailing political winds generated by the neo-conservatives.” Global Security Specialist John Pike described Syria’s nuclear weapons program as “starting from less than scratch.”
In Ramallah, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia today called for an immediate and comprehensive cease-fire with Israel. He also called for the resumption of negotiations over President Bush’s road map to peace. Qureia said, “To the Israelis, we want peace and security and independence that will not be realized unless we work together. Let’s help each other stop this cycle of hell.” Qureia’s call came during a parliamentary session during which he also criticized the construction in the West Bank of an Israeli wall which he referred to as a Berlin wall and an apartheid wall.
A new United Nations report has found that the wall will carve off nearly 15 percent of the West Bank and separate almost 700,000 Palestinians from their farms, jobs and schools. Israel has rejected the findings saying the figures are greatly exagerrated.
A new study by the British firm Control Risks has found President Bush’s foreign policy has increased the risks US multinational companies face overseas. The firm concluded “US unilateralism is creating a security paradox: by using US power unilaterally and aggressively in pursuit of global stability, the Bush administration is in fact creating precisely the opposite effect.”
On the campaign front, Senator John Kerry’s chief spokesman resigned Tuesday in protest following the firing of Jim Jordan, Kerry’s campaign manager. The campaign’s deputy finance director also resigned yesterday although no reason for the departure was made public.
And billionaire financier George Soros has announced he is giving $5 million to MoveOn.org in the form of a challenge grant to help the group defeat Bush in 2004. Soros told the Washington Post getting Bush out of office is the “”central focus” of his life. Soros also recently helped launch the new liberal think tank Center for American Progress which is headed by John Podesta, Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff.
Agence France Press is reporting that at least seven protesters in the Dominican Republic were killed Tuesday by police as workers staged a 24-hour general strike. Protester demands included lower gas prices, better state hospitals, and an end to foreign debt payments and IMF agreements. One police officer was also killed.
And a 23-year-old Afghan woman has won a prize at the Miss Earth contest but may face prosecution if she returns to Afghanistan for appearing at the contest in a bikini. The head of the Afghanistan Supreme Court told the Associated Press, “I hope that this lady regrets her actions.”