The International Crisis Group is warning 350,000 people may die in the Darfur region of the Sudan unless the world community helps avert a humanitarian crisis there. Over the past year, Arab militias backed by the Sudanese government have forced more than one million black Christian Africans to flee their homes. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in fighting. In one attack this weekend, villagers told Reuters that Arab militias killed 56 people. Earlier this month Human Rights Watch accused Sudan of committing “ethnic cleansing” and crimes against humanity. Oxfam is warning that food and fresh water levels are becoming dangerously low. In a recent article in the Boston Globe former National Security Advisor Anthony Lake wrote “In eerie similarity to 1994 Rwanda, the United Nations Security Council, not wanting to disrupt ongoing peace efforts, cannot even muster a statement of condemnation —-— while the Sudanese government flouts the already agreed cease-fire, delays at the negotiating table, starves the displaced, and continues to support its killer militias.” This comes at a time that the Bush administration appears to be heading toward normalizing relations with the Sudanese government. Last week Sudan was taken off the State Department’s list of nations considered uncooperative in the so-called war on terror. It remains on the list of sponsors of state terrorism.
Tonight President Bush plans to give a primetime televised address from the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania outlining his vision for the future of Iraq, the so-called June 30th handover and Iraqi elections.
The speech comes just a day after four-star General Anthony Zinni, who was once in charge of all American troops in the Middle East, appeared on 60 Minutes and scathingly criticized the administration’s handling of Iraq. Zinni, the former commander-in-chief of the United States Central Command said, “At this stage, it should be evident to everybody that they’ve screwed up.” He later added, “To think that we are going to 'stay the course,' —-— the course is headed over Niagara Falls. I think it’s time to change course a little bit, or at least hold somebody responsible for putting you on this course. Because it’s been a failure.”
The Associated Press has released a videotape that appears to back up Iraqi claims that the US bombed a wedding party last week killing about 40. The US has admitted to waging the attack but denied a wedding party was hit. However the video appears to show before-and-after footage from the wedding and some victims and survivors of the attack appear to be in the wedding video.
In Fallujah, two U.S. soldiers died Sunday bringing the total U.S. death toll to nearly 800. The total number of Iraqis killed is not known but it is at least 11,000. A new survey by the Associated Press found that 5,500 Iraqis died violently in Baghdad and the provinces of Karbala, Kirkuk and Tikrit in the first 12 months of the U.S. occupation. In the Shiite holy city of Kufa, US forces raided a mosque over the weekend killing 32 Iraqis loyal to cleric Muqtada al Sadr.
Newsday is reporting that The Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that the U.S.-funded Iraqi National Congress led by Ahmad Chalabi has been used for years by Iranian intelligence to pass disinformation to the United States. One intelligence source told Newsday “Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the United States through Chalabi by furnishing through his Information Collection Program information to provoke the United States into getting rid of Saddam Hussein.” Patrick Lang, the former head of DIA operations in the Middle East, described what Iran did as “one of the most sophisticated and successful intelligence operations in history.”
The U.S. government is also reportedly intensifying its investigation into how the INC’s leader Ahmad Chalabi managed to obtain highly classified Pentagon and CIA material and then pass it on to Iran. According to the New York Times, federal espionage statutes prohibit anyone from knowingly passing classified information to a foreign power, even though, in this case, the United States has supported Chalabi. While Chalabi denies the charge, he admitted on CNN Sunday that in December he met with the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Iranian president, Mohammad Khatami, as well as the Iranian minister of information. Meanwhile Time is reporting that the ex-intelligence chief for Chalabi who has been accused of being an Iranian agent has relocated to Tehran.
Chalabi was also the prime source for several of the New York Times exposes on Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction. Last year Times reporter Judith Miller sent an email to her colleague John Burns that read “I’ve been covering Chalabi for about 10 years, and have done most of the stories about him for our paper. … He has provided most of the front page exclusives on WMD to our paper.” The trade journal Editor and Publisher noted last week that the Times has yet to run any corrections on Miller’s reporting.
The New York Times is reporting that a military intelligence unit that oversaw interrogations at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq was also in charge of questioning at the Bagram detention center in Afghanistan where two prisoners died in December 2002 from blunt force injuries to their legs. Two former detainees who served time at Bagram told the Times they were physically tortured and sexually humiliated by the American jailers. At times their hands were chained to the ceiling while black hoods were placed over their heads. In related news the Los Angeles Times is reporting that two military intelligence officers who appeared in some of the photos taken at Abu Ghraib have been ordered not to leave Iraq as the U.S. investigates the reports of abuse. Meanwhile the lawyer for one of the U.S. soldiers facing court martial for his role in the prison torture, said his client will testify that the commander of US troops in Iraq, Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, either witnessed some of the abuse taking place or personally heard about the abuse allegations. The military has denied this is true.
Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia was sentenced to one year in prison Friday after a military jury convicted him on charges of desertion after he refused to return to fight in Iraq. Meija returned from Iraq in October on leave and then went into hiding. He gave himself up in March announcing that he didn’t want to fight in an “oil-driven war.” He also said that he witnessed the torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners.
In Israel, the country’s Justice Minister Yosef Lapid said Sunday that the Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip reminded him of actions the Nazis took against him family during World War II. The minister said seeing a picture of a Palestinian woman by the rubble of her old home reminded him “of my grandmother in the Holocaust.”
On Saturday, India swore in its first non-Hindu prime minister, Manmohan Singh who is a sikh. Singh is leading the Congress party which defeated the ruling Hindu nationalist BJP party in elections two weeks ago.
In New York, more than 1,700 police officers and firefighters have filed lawsuits against the city claiming they got sick from working at Ground Zero and the Fresh Kills Landfill where 2 million tons of debris were taken after the Sept. 11 attacks. According to the Daily News, workers have reported suffering from permanent lung conditions, asthma, chronic coughs, and having glass lodged in their lung tissue. More than 300 firefighters have already retired with disabilities related to injuries or illnesses suffered at Ground Zero.