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times magazine article - sunnis vs. shi'ites conflict

Old 04-15-07, 03:30 AM
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times magazine article - sunnis vs. shi'ites conflict

had a chance to read this article, thought it spelled out the current conflict in the middle east pretty well in laymen terms. Probably gonna read 'the shiah revival...by vali nasr to further grasp this conflict a little better. If anyone has any good info or books on this topic would love to read it. If I find an internet link to the times article I'll post it here. I believe it was the April 2 edition of times (its the cover story). I can only assume the story is pretty accurate because i don't really have much of a background otherwise. Kinda why i want some input if anyone here has some on this conflict...author paints a pretty bleak picture for the middle east. Seemed like the U.S. relit the fires of sunni and shi'ite tensions. Wonder what would have happened if we stayed out of iraq...
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Old 04-15-07, 08:38 AM
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sounds very interesting whatever it is
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Old 04-15-07, 08:53 AM
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Time article.
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Old 04-15-07, 12:33 PM
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a few points that need clarification I think (not an expert, but I've been following these events daily in the newspapers): Saddam was hung in the morning so al-Maliki showed his secularism, so he wouldn't be associated too much with Islam and people would realize his rulings wouldn't hinge on religion.

Second, I sincerely doubt that there was that much intermixing, secularism and general well-being during Saddams reign - do you really think Saddam didn't exploit division as much as they served him?

Third, when the author says nearly every household has an AK-47 - yes, they do, which is allowed by law and generally encouraged by the government and the troops. Do you wanna be unarmed in a country like Iraq? Even if the country were peaceful, Ak's are the easiest to buy and they're reliable.

Lastly - most of the Middle East is Sunni, which ain't too pleased about the idea of a Shi'ite democracy right in the middle of the Middle East. The article was right when it said Sunni's have traditionally had a monopoly on power in Iraq, but once Saddam was gone, the ascendency of Shi'ites was a given - 80% of Iraq is Shi'ite, less than 20% is Sunni with a few other religions tossed in there. There was no doubt from the beginning that the Shi'ites would come into power, but the Sunnis were by and large still thinking they had a monopoly on power, that the Shi'ites were beneath them, hence the bombings to cow them into submission. When the Shi'ites got sick and tired of the bombing, the Mahdi army, once confined to the slums, rose to prominance, attracting members from outside the slums to organize the death squads.

With the security crackdown (on both Sunni and Shi'ite death squads), things are looking better and the government and people are being given a chance to rebuild. So far the generals (yes - current and retired generals alike) say the signs are looking good, the surge is showing visibly positive results, and with only 40% of brigades over there, there's still more to come.

All in all, the article has alot of true facts, but most of them are dated, at least 1-2 years old. Things have changed alot on the ground in Baghdad and the outlying areas, especially within the past few months (hell, al-sadr leaving is a great sign in and of itself) - the book on Iraq isn't written yet and won't be so long as the US doesn't give up and keeps trying to mend this country. Like I said before, most of the other countries are Sunni, with Iran being Shi'ite - and they've all pretty much promised to jump into Iraq and side with/arm a sect should the US leave and a massacre break out.
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Old 04-15-07, 01:17 PM
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From what I understand... Saddam essentially cracked down on the religious fundamentalists in his country out of concern that they might ferment rebellion. He promoted religious "balance" in the sense that he promoted the minority Sunni view and ruthlessly held the Shi'ites and Kurds in check. We could do the same thing in Iraq, if we had total control of that country (which is a Humpty Dumpty scenario at this point) and if we picked one of the devils-we-know and promoted them in the conflict, no matter what the cost in blood.
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Old 04-15-07, 03:39 PM
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so if 911 never happend and we never entered iraq do you guys think we would be seeing what we are right now in iraq? Sure Hussein would probably still be in power, and there is no doubt he needed to be gone (i believe we had a ample chance in the 80's at this though. Didn't we provide arms to him? i do remember rumsfeld shaking hands with him...). Im still confused though because hussein or any of those death squads we are trying to squelch in iraq weren't responsible for 911. why aren't we after bin laden? Does the U.S. just think that if we stabilize iraq it will create a domino effect across the middle east into afghanistan and that will significanly curb terrorism at home and abroad? it is gonna be scary to see what happens when we eventually leave for good (or most us troops leave that is). thanks for linking the times article crazyronin
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Old 04-15-07, 03:51 PM
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We probably wouldn't be seeing these death squads if Hussein were still in power for a reason - he'd massacre them. If Hussein ever found a death squad member, he'd level his entire village in retribution.

We provided arms to Iraq, yes - back then Iraq and Iran were at war, and the US decided (however rightly or wrongly), to provide arms to Iraq, which was deemed the lesser of the two evils at that time.

There has been evidence cropping up that Saddam had ties to al-qaeda, but the jury's still out. You can find numerous cnn and washington post stories saying there was no link, so I'll post a WSJ article here which takes the otherside: http://www.opinionjournal.com/column.../?id=110006953

There currently are no democracies in the Middle East - at this point we're staying in Iraq (rightly or wrongly) to finish the job. The hope is it will provide a beacon for others to adopt democratic measures, as well as creating a self-sufficient US ally in the Middle East, sort of like Japan in post-WW2 Asia. The hope currently is that when US troops pull out, Iraq will be stable, peaceful and able to defend itself.
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Old 04-15-07, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Chaos
There has been evidence cropping up that Saddam had ties to al-qaeda, but the jury's still out. You can find numerous cnn and washington post stories saying there was no link, so I'll post a WSJ article here which takes the otherside: http://www.opinionjournal.com/column.../?id=110006953
Actually, saying "the jury's still out" is pretty disingenuous. The jury returned with a verdict a long, long time ago -- while there may have been some isolated contact between elements in Iraq and al Qaeda, there was absolutely no connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Indeed, a secular Iraq was just as much the enemy as the United States, and much of the claims made by the right-wing in this area (the imagined Prague meeting with Mohamed Atta, the "haven" given to Abdul Yasin in the form of arrest and imprisonment by Saddam's forces after the FBI and federal prosecutors had released him from their custody) are sketchy at best. The bipartisan 9/11 Commission unequivocably stated that there was no collaborative relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda, and this finding has been backed up by any number of additional studies and reports.

Originally Posted by Chaos
There currently are no democracies in the Middle East - at this point we're staying in Iraq (rightly or wrongly) to finish the job. The hope is it will provide a beacon for others to adopt democratic measures, as well as creating a self-sufficient US ally in the Middle East, sort of like Japan in post-WW2 Asia. The hope currently is that when US troops pull out, Iraq will be stable, peaceful and able to defend itself.
Certainly, countries like Algeria, Palestine, and Lebanon would probably define themselves as "democracies", but that's just quibbling. What Chaos is presenting is essentially the neo-con argument for invading Iraq -- establishing a "beachhead for democracy" in the Middle East will produce a "domino effect" that will topple oligarchies and monarchies and sweep in a new wave of progressive freedoms and civil liberties across the region. He also espouses the idea of our acquiring a permanent military foothold in that oil-rich region -- which many people suspect is the real motive for our invasion.

I don't want to argue with that position -- I think Chaos does a good job of summarizing the neoconservative rationale for war -- because that's been done to death many times before. But clearly the other rationales for war -- WMDs, liberating the Iraqi people, supporting the UN, etc. -- really don't hold a candle to the theory that Chaos advances.
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Old 04-15-07, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Chaos
We provided arms to Iraq, yes - back then Iraq and Iran were at war, and the US decided (however rightly or wrongly), to provide arms to Iraq, which was deemed the lesser of the two evils at that time.
Ironically, Iran was a democracy before the U.S. conspired to overthrow the elected prime minister Mossadegh in the 50's and then prop up a puppet monarchy. That monarchy was later overthrown in a popular uprising that subsequently installed Khomeini as supreme leader of an at least partially democratic government. It's not a friendly one to be sure, but it's a lot closer to a democracy than Saudi Arabia or Kuwait are. Naturally, that nascent democracy was so terrible that it was worth propping up another dictator in Iraq to fight it.

I only point this out because the simple fact is that the U.S. has, historically, been a force operating against democracy in the middle east. America has fought for its own interests rather than the spread of democracy. Anyone who believes this has suddenly changed is probably a little naive.


Originally Posted by Chaos
There currently are no democracies in the Middle East - at this point we're staying in Iraq (rightly or wrongly) to finish the job. The hope is it will provide a beacon for others to adopt democratic measures, as well as creating a self-sufficient US ally in the Middle East, sort of like Japan in post-WW2 Asia. The hope currently is that when US troops pull out, Iraq will be stable, peaceful and able to defend itself.
Yes, there are democracies in the middle east. Just not perfect and friendly ones. Iran has serious human rights abuses and rather murky circles of power behind the front of the republic, but it is a democracy. Americans don't seem to like admitting that. Perhaps it's because this war of good vs evil/terrorism/etc. is supposed to be a clear and simple one, and it really messes up the "righteousness of the cause" thing when you're fighting a democracy and so many of your allies are dictators and monarchs with their own records of human rights abuses.

I'm not trying to blindly bash the U.S. or defend Iran here. I think the current regime in Iran is, in many ways, absolutely reprehensible. However, the moral picture is not as clear and one sided as many would like it to be. This is not a struggle of freedom and democracy versus monarchies and terrorism. It's a struggle with democracies and dictators on both sides, with everyone looking out for #1. Don't buy into the good vs. evil pap. Ask the tough questions. Learn from history. Don't do this yet again ten to twenty years down the road.
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Old 04-15-07, 05:36 PM
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i find it amazing that sunnis and shi'ites can't some how share the power in iraq right now. From the article, the author points out that both sects follow the same basic tenets of the islamic faith, their only difference being that they are in disagreement over who is the prophet muhammeds rightful descendent. what pety bullshit!

this isn't the reason though they are fighting now it appears. They probably don't fully realize it but shi'ites and sunnis are more alike than they are different from what i have read about them. It seems like they could easily coexist in iraq and in the internation community someone is gonna have to pull out the peace card and stand firm on it. Will this happen? i presume so, but not in the near future. If these sects basically follow along the same ideological lines, why the hell dont they just power share? sounds naive, but it is what is going to have to happen because the're will always be sunnis and shi'ites in the world.

oh yeah btw, from my understanding al qada (spelling?) is a pretty informal terrorist org. so by squelching the death squads and suicide bombings in iraq and at best bring a semblence of democracy to the region, will bring only stability in that region for however long but al qada is spread out internationally and leaving bin laden to roam free (assuming he is still alive) is a little scary. Doesn't exactly seem like we are getting at the core of al qada by being in iraq right now. The are all over the world from what i have read. Probably in America at a few flight schools. They do seem to have a lot of patience for their next martyr attack against the U.S......

Last edited by bhome83; 04-15-07 at 05:40 PM.
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Old 04-15-07, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by bhome83
i find it amazing that sunnis and shi'ites can't some how share the power in iraq right now. From the article, the author points out that both sects follow the same basic tenets of the islamic faith, their only difference being that they are in disagreement over who is the prophet muhammeds rightful descendent. what pety bullshit!

this isn't the reason though they are fighting now it appears. They probably don't fully realize it but shi'ites and sunnis are more alike than they are different from what i have read about them. It seems like they could easily coexist in iraq and in the internation community someone is gonna have to pull out the peace card and stand firm on it. Will this happen? i presume so, but not in the near future. If these sects basically follow along the same ideological lines, why the hell dont they just power share? sounds naive, but it is what is going to have to happen because the're will always be sunnis and shi'ites in the world.
First of all, only 15% of the Iraqi population is Sunni Arab -- the Sunni Kurds make up 20%, and Shiites make up about 60%. Complicating things further, the majority of the oil fields are in traditionally Shiite areas. Saddam was a Sunni, and persecuted the Shiites and the Kurds pretty ruthlessly during his reign, so now these groups want their revenge. On a larger scale, the majority of the Middle East is Sunni, but Iraq/Iran is Shiite, and there is a very significant battle for supremacy between these two branches.

You just can't dismiss the differences between these sects as "petty bullshit". A significant block of Islamic religious dogma came about after the imans split from the caliphate -- as someone pointed out in an earlier thread, imagine if Paul and Peter had split up into rival factions after the death of Jesus, and then measure their canonical impact after that. The Paulists would say that the message of Peter was apocryphal, and the Peterists would say the same about the letters of Paul. Hopefully, that gives you some idea of the significance of the centuries-old Sunni-Shia feud -- I would highly encourage you to do some research online into the differences between the various Islamic sects.

What we did in Iraq was give a good solid kick to a hornet's nest. Politically, there are Iraqis commited to finding a political solution to that nation's ills -- but we may been well beyond the voice of reason.
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Old 04-15-07, 06:05 PM
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the article mentions how tensions seemed to be at ease prior to the iraqi elections in 2005. It seems like the original tensions between the sects weren't much of an issue before the elections (i.e. shi'ities and sunnis were living together, marrying, etc.) So did the election of 2005 basically rekindle a simmering fire? that is what the article seems to suggest. I always thought it was more of a religious struggle but the author seems to say its basically just a power struggle now. 'eye for eye, tooth for a tooth.' guess we'll see how that turns out.
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Old 04-15-07, 06:24 PM
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Not really, the Sunnis were bombing the Shi'ites for awhile before and after the elections; and for a long time, the Shi'ites did nothing, just lived on. Then Sammara got bombed, a very holy mosque for Shi'ites, then the death squads appeared - a reaction to continuous Sunni suicide bombers; the death squads carried out revenge killings on any Sunnis.

The attacks now are partly revenge, partly jockeying for power. The death squads reflect Shi'ite anger over the Sunni extremists but all in all both sides are trying to grab power for themselves. No matter what happens, the Sunnis won't hold as much power as the Shi'ites due to their low numbers (something they well know), so they tried to cow the Shi'ites back with fear. The Shi'ites know they have four times the number of people as the Sunnis - at this point the US is urging the Shi'ites to cut the Sunnis in a bit on the reins of power, so as to dampen feelings of loss of power.

The latest surge of US troops is meant mainly to quell the death squads, to put enough boots on the ground so neither Sunni nor Shi'ite can carry out attacks and the Iraqi government can get a handle on the situation as they develop their own forces.

At least thats the gist I've been getting from the papers.

If you want a better picture, read the papers - I recommend New York Times (quite liberal, dead set against the war) and the Wall Street Journal (conservative in an economic sense - whatevers best for the economy) - both sides have their opinions and carry different stories to support those opinions. You can get a decent sense of whats happening by reading both.

Last edited by Chaos; 04-15-07 at 06:28 PM.
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Old 04-15-07, 06:48 PM
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anyone know of any good books that aren't too technical and speak more in laymen terms about the arab-israeli conflict? i have 'the shia revival...' on hold at my library and want a good book on another contentious issue in israel to complement it. i have very limited surface knowledge on the israeli-arab-palestinian conflict.
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Old 04-15-07, 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Chaos
There has been evidence cropping up that Saddam had ties to al-qaeda, but the jury's still out. You can find numerous cnn and washington post stories saying there was no link, so I'll post a WSJ article here which takes the otherside: http://www.opinionjournal.com/column.../?id=110006953
Any person who is reasonably knowledgable of terrorist affairs knows that AQ and other groups intermingle together all the time. They help each other out. It would be no surprise if AQ was linked to every goddamn country in the Middle East, as well as other countries in Asia and north Africa. I still find it innocuous to even investigate if Saddam was linked to them. So what. It's a waste of time and money. We already know AQ is linked to Saudi Arabia, so why haven't we invaded them? So, logic has nothing to do with the current war on terror. It's a half-ass war, with half-ass politicians trying to pander to not only Americans, but our enemies as well. And that's dangerous. And will backfire.

Originally Posted by Chaos
There currently are no democracies in the Middle East - at this point we're staying in Iraq (rightly or wrongly) to finish the job. The hope is it will provide a beacon for others to adopt democratic measures, as well as creating a self-sufficient US ally in the Middle East, sort of like Japan in post-WW2 Asia. The hope currently is that when US troops pull out, Iraq will be stable, peaceful and able to defend itself]
Finish what job. We have so many jobs in Iraq, everyone is confused on just where we draw the line and say, "Ok Iraqis, we're done here." We will NEVER be done in Iraq. Some might have you think otherwise, but they are simply naive of the situation or are lying to you.

Democracies are perfect for terrorism. Why? Because with a "civilized" and "democratic" society, by default you are not as "bad" as the terrorists and will always be a few steps behind in dealing with them appropriately. Your society is also open to mass murders which can kill thousands and tens of thousands.

So bring on democracy and civilization to Iraq. Let's see how wonderful it can benefit the civilians. My estimation, in 5-10 years we'll have a country similar to Saddam's. The Iraqis will demand it. They will demand it because they will find out politics does not cure terrorism and will want to revert to the old ways of dealing with criminals. The Iraqis need something like Saddam's former government, and some of what Americans have as well. Iraq cannot simply distance itself from its cultural history of violence and conflict at this point so quickly.

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Old 04-15-07, 07:27 PM
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heh, not too long ago people were calling it ludicrous that Saddam would consort with terrorists, then when evidence starts cropping up nullifying their argument, its changed it to one of indifference.

The US is the world's lone superpower - like it or not, responsibility comes with that. Other countries have the luxury of sitting on their ass and being ambiguous with their actions and words - we don't. Either the US takes a stand in Iraq and finished what was started or a massacre will ensue - no one else is gonna do what needs to be done.

I find it amusing how you say democracy is perfect for terrorism, yet are probably one of the first to cry when you find out someones tapping phones, or keeping terrorists up at night to get some intel out of them. Yeah, Democracy turns a blind eye alot of the time, but its still better than an authoritarian government that will repress its own citizens to save itself (and don't think about saying Bush is authoritarian or some BS like that - leave rhetoric like that to the politicians).

As for what the Iraqis will demand and what till turn out - who are you to say? It ain't over 'til its over. The sense of fatalism and inability to change something before its even concluded is a common trait in europe due to their vast history of seeing the rise of fall of countless regimes. Appeasement, premature surrender and a sense of inescapable fate - its something thats completely un-American. Looking back at values, Americas values evolved differently than europes - we don't have a long history, we don't heave a sigh and give in when things seem lost and we hold to the belief that ones fate is never written - if history is any indication, America is the last one to give in during a war.

As for the Iraqis, they'll decide whats right for them. True, it won't be what we had in mind (hell, Japan took a different turn than we imagined and they were alot more malleable in post-WW2). The Iraqis want freedom and the chance to live a peaceful life - its human to want such things. Only time will tell if they're willing to pursue it.

Edit: I agree that our half-ass politicians want to half-ass this war, catering to the terrorists and are unwilling to truly fight it the way it should be fought. Seems alot of the time no ones got the guts to take a stand on anything that polls unfavorably with their base. But with the new troop surge I hold out hope that we'll stay in Iraq long enough to get the Iraqis on their feet - once they can support themselves, we'll see what they do, hopefully they'll be able to stand on their own feet.

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Old 04-15-07, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Chaos
I find it amusing how you say democracy is perfect for terrorism, yet are probably one of the first to cry when you find out someones tapping phones, or keeping terrorists up at night to get some intel out of them. Yeah, Democracy turns a blind eye alot of the time, but its still better than an authoritarian government that will repress its own citizens to save itself (and don't think about saying Bush is authoritarian or some BS like that - leave rhetoric like that to the politicians).
I have no problem with government tapping my lines. I don't have anything to hide.

I don't have a problem keeping terrorists up at night and torturing them either--except that we need to make sure they are terrorists...minor thing I know considering the current administration, but if I'm going to rip the nutsack off a terrorist, I kinda want to be sure he's a bad guy, and not some poor man who got rounded up at the wrong place at the wrong time, or who was the subject of a revengeful neighbor who said he was a terrorist.

You see, someone like me has substantiated proof of the person being tortured is a terrorist while our current administration doesn't care about evidence or proof. They only want "results" to propagandize to the public.

Call me old fashioned, but I believe in proof of foul actions of a person before I subject a person to torture.
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Old 04-15-07, 09:02 PM
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Of course the person being interrogated should be checked to make sure they're a terrorist - there isn't anyone who would disagree with you on that point.

And the government only taps the lines of suspected terrorists; for anyone missing the reference, that was the whole argument behind the controversy - was it a targeted tapping of phone lines or was it a dragnet -the former most would agree is a good idea, the latter reminiscent of 1984.

Lest it should be forgotten, it's in al-qaeda's handbook (literally) to declare yourself an innocent and say the US tortured you for no reason at the first sign of cameras.

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Old 04-15-07, 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Chaos
heh, not too long ago people were calling it ludicrous that Saddam would consort with terrorists, then when evidence starts cropping up nullifying their argument, its changed it to one of indifference.
One, there is no "evidence". The Journal piece was by Claudia Rossett, who is paid journalist hack for a neoconservative thinkpiece; the Weekly Standard article she references, The Mother of All Connections, by Stephen Hayes and Thomas Joscelyn, has been thoroughlydebunked on multiple occasions. It is just as ludicrous and unsubtantiated a claim as repeated right-wing claims of uncovered WMDs -- it's just not true, and it is disingenuous of anyone at this late point to suggest that "the jury is still out". The jury has come back, delivered a judgement, and then gone home for dinner and to catch up on their rotisserie league. It's over, fini, done, and no two-year-old Wall Street Journal editorial hack job can take the place of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Second -- and I need to stress this point even more strongly than the first one -- no one else is buying into this idea with indifference. That's just DVD Polizei... and the views and opinions of DVD Polizei do not in any way represent my own views, or the views of those critical of the Iraqi invasion, or indeed of any right-thinking person in the free world.
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Old 04-15-07, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by NCMojo
Second -- and I need to stress this point even more strongly than the first one -- no one else is buying into this idea with indifference. That's just DVD Polizei... and the views and opinions of DVD Polizei do not in any way represent my own views, or the views of those critical of the Iraqi invasion, or indeed of any right-thinking person in the free world.
One; I'm willing to admit I was wrong about the Saddam- al-qaeda link, but you're not offering much proof - the article you link to that debunks the 2-yr old link I posted is to an article thats 3-yrs old. Give me a recent article that talks about whats known now and I'll change my tune.


Second: Enlighten me then - what do you suggest is the correct view, the view of truth that only a "right-thinking person" should hold?

You make it sound as if anyone disagreeing with you about the Iraq invasion is thinking wrongly - so by all means, enlighten me to the errors of my ways

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Old 04-16-07, 08:53 AM
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i find it amazing that a mainstream us magazine actually wrote something that says people are different.
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Old 04-16-07, 09:29 AM
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Damned insurgency and sectarian violence. Coordinated by so-called religious leaders who are nothing more than power-hungry warlords struggling to remain relevant to a population ready for peace and freedom, fueled by external groups who care nothing for Iraq but yearn for any opportunity to blacken the eye of the Great Satan regardless of collateral damage. Look to Kurdistan for a vision of what Iraq could and should become. Sorry for the semi-coherent nature of my post. I need coffee.
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Old 04-16-07, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Chaos
One; I'm willing to admit I was wrong about the Saddam- al-qaeda link, but you're not offering much proof - the article you link to that debunks the 2-yr old link I posted is to an article thats 3-yrs old. Give me a recent article that talks about whats known now and I'll change my tune.
Part of the reason that you won't find much recent information on the Saddam-al Qaeda link is because this issue was pretty much conclusively settled 2-3 years ago. I linked to the 9/11 Commission earlier... this time, I'll link to Wikipedia, which itself contains links to both the 9/11 Commission report, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report and the DOD reports that all confirm the absence of a working relationship.

Originally Posted by Chaos
Second: Enlighten me then - what do you suggest is the correct view, the view of truth that only a "right-thinking person" should hold?
Well, typically, a "right-thinking person" bases their opinions on substantiated evidence. They recognize that there are different points-of-view, and they do an appropriate amount of research so that they can effectively argue both their own position, and the counter position. If you're claiming that "the jury is still out" concerning an Iraq-al Qaeda link, then it seems pretty clear that you didn't even bother to search the Google" -- and that's pretty much the bare minimum amount of research that any "right-thinking" person would have performed.

Originally Posted by Chaos
You make it sound as if anyone disagreeing with you about the Iraq invasion is thinking wrongly - so by all means, enlighten me to the errors of my ways
Actually, the last paragraph of my previous post was really just a mild jab at DVD Polizei, who has occasionally advanced some pretty, uh, "radical" notions here on the forum, but who I still count as a friend and an ally.

I apologize for the tone of my post. In the Political forum, I am somewhat legendary for my sanctimonious pie-holing, so don't take anything too personally. As a rule of thumb... if you make claims or accusations on this forum, you can probably expect to be called on it, and to have to do some research to back up what you can say. As long as you are willing to concede when you're mistaken -- or, like me, if you just fall into the habit of never being wrong -- then everything will be A-OK, hunky-dory.

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Old 04-16-07, 01:28 PM
  #24  
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ok, I get it now. I admittedly haven't been ever much concerned about the Saddam-al qaeda link so I never kept up and my info is way behind the times, I could very well be wrong, I dunno.

otherwise, I haven't been to the Political forums in a long time, so I didn't realize the jab wasn't at me. I just get really worked up when someone says I'm thinking wrong and not offering any reasons as to why.

Cheers to some better debates.

Last edited by Chaos; 04-16-07 at 03:13 PM.
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Old 04-16-07, 03:09 PM
  #25  
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http://www.weeklystandard.com/Utilit...0&R=1130E22D73

Who's Spinning Intel?

Captured Iraqi documents tell a different story.
by Thomas Joscelyn
04/13/2007 12:00:00 AM



LAST WEEK, the Washington Post ("Hussein's Prewar Ties To Al-Qaeda Discounted") covered the latest round in Senator Levin's ongoing struggle to prove that the connection between Iraq and al Qaeda was nothing more than a fiction. Levin has been at this game for a while, and this time the Post's story centered on Levin's request for the declassification of a report written by the Pentagon's acting inspector general, Thomas F. Gimble. The report's conclusion: a Pentagon analysis shop, once headed by former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith, "developed, produced, and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al-Qaida relationship, which included some conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community, to senior decision-makers."

The inspector general determined that Feith's shop did nothing illegal, but still maintained that his office's analyses were "inappropriate." Why? According to the inspector general, Feith & Co. did not sufficiently explain that their conclusions were at odds with the CIA's (and the DIA's) judgments. That was enough for Levin to go on the attack once again.

But Levin's story, which was simply repeated without any real investigation by the Post or even the inspector general's office, relies on a false dichotomy. The senator now pretends that the CIA and other intelligence outfits had reached a rock-solid conclusion that there was no noteworthy relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda in 2002, but Feith's shop improperly pressed on. The Post summarized the inspector general's report as saying: " the CIA had concluded in June 2002 that there were few substantiated contacts between al-Qaeda operatives and Iraqi officials and had said that it lacked evidence of a long-term relationship like the ones Iraq had forged with other terrorist groups."

This is simply revisionist history at its worst.


Although there were certainly disagreements between the CIA and Feith's shop, both argued in 2002 that there was a relationship between Saddam's Iraq and al Qaeda. George Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, stated the CIA's position quite clearly in an October 7, 2002 letter to then head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Bob Graham (D-FL). Tenet explained, "We have solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda going back a decade." Iraq and al Qaeda "have discussed safe haven and reciprocal non-aggression." Tenet warned, "We have credible reporting that al-Qaeda leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire WMD capabilities. The reporting also stated that Iraq has provided training to al-Qaeda members in the areas of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs." And, "Iraq's increasing support to extremist Palestinians, coupled with growing indications of a relationship with al-Qaeda, suggest that Baghdad's links to terrorists will increase, even absent US military action."

Tenet was far from alone in these assessments. Michael Scheuer, the one-time head of the CIA's bin Laden unit, also used to be certain that Iraq and al Qaeda were working together. Scheuer's first book on al Qaeda, Through Our Enemies' Eyes, which was published in 2002, went into elaborate detail about the support the Iraqi regime was providing to al Qaeda. Among the areas of concern was Iraq's ongoing support for al Qaeda's chemical weapons development projects in the Sudan.

In 2004, after fashioning a career as a critic of the Bush administration, Scheuer did an about face. He suddenly claimed that there was no evidence of a relationship. He even decided to re-write history--literally. He revised Through Our Enemies' Eyes to be consistent with his newly formed opinion by claiming he was simply mistaken.


The bottom line is that members of the CIA, including the Agency's director, certainly believed in 2002 that there was a relationship between the Iraqi regime and al Qaeda. And no matter what he says now, Senator Levin knows that. In a June 16, 2003 appearance on NewsHour, Senator Levin explained:

"We were told by the intelligence community that there was a very strong link between al-Qaida and Iraq, and there were real questions raised. And there are real questions raised about whether or not that link was such that the description by the intelligence community was accurate or whether or not they [note: "they" here refers to the intelligence community, not the Bush administration] stretched it."
The idea that Feith's analysts cooked up the connection, while the CIA shunned the very notion, is pure fantasy--a fantasy dreamed up by Senator Levin and some former CIA members who have repeatedly made clear their disdain for the Bush administration.


But all of this is almost entirely beside the point. Instead of focusing on Levin's "who said what in Washington" game, we'd be better served by focusing on the best evidence available: Saddam's own intelligence files. Here, the Post's account is thoroughly lacking.

The story leads off with this startling conclusion, purportedly gleaned from the inspector general's report:

Captured Iraqi documents and intelligence interrogations of Saddam Hussein and two former aides 'all confirmed' that Hussein's regime was not directly cooperating with al-Qaeda before the U.S. invasion of Iraq "
Taking the denials of Saddam and his goons at face value is, of course, ridiculous. But exactly which "captured Iraqi documents" confirmed that Saddam's regime and al Qaeda were "not directly cooperating?" The Post doesn't say. And the inspector general did not perform a thorough review of the Iraqi intelligence documents captured during the Iraq war.


Here is just a small sample of what some of the Iraqi intelligence documents and other evidence collected in postwar Iraq has revealed:

1. Saddam's Terror Training Camps & Long-Standing Relationship With Ayman al-Zawahiri. As first reported in THE WEEKLY STANDARD, there is extensive evidence that Saddam used Iraqi soil to train terrorists from throughout the Middle East. Among the terrorists who received Saddam's support were members of al Qaeda's Algerian affiliate, formerly known as the GSPC, which is still lethally active, though under a new name: al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Joe Klein, a columnist for Time magazine and an outspoken critic of the Bush administration, has confirmed the existence of Saddam's terrorist training camps. He also found that Iraqi intelligence documents demonstrated a long-standing relationship between Saddam and al Qaeda bigwig Ayman al-Zawahiri.


Other evidence of Saddam's terror training camps was reported in a paper published by the Pentagon's Iraqi Perspectives Project. A team of Pentagon analysts discovered that Saddam's paramilitary Fedayeen forces were hosting camps for thousands terror of from throughout the Middle East.

2. A 1992 IIS Document lists Osama bin Laden as an "asset." An Iraqi Intelligence memorandum dated March 28, 1992 and stamped "Top Secret" lists a number of assets. Osama bin Laden is listed on page 14 as having a "good relationship" with the Iraqi Intelligence Service's section in Syria.

3. A 1997 IIS document lists a number of meetings between Iraq, bin Laden and other al Qaeda associates. The memo recounts discussions of cooperating in attacks against American stationed in Saudi Arabia. The document summarizes a number of contacts between Iraqi Intelligence and Saudi oppositionist groups, including al Qaeda, during the mid 1990's. The document says that in early 1995 bin Laden requested Iraqi assistance in two ways. First, bin Laden wanted Iraqi television to carry al Qaeda's anti-Saudi propaganda. Saddam agreed. Second, bin Laden requested Iraqi assistance in performing "joint operations against the foreign forces in the land of Hijaz." That is, bin Laden wanted Iraq's assistance in attacking U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia.

We do not know what, exactly, came of bin Laden's second request. But the document indicates that Saddam's operatives "were left to develop the relationship and the cooperation between the two sides to see what other doors of cooperation and agreement open up." Thus, it appears that both sides saw value in working with each other. It is also worth noting that in the months following bin Laden's request, al Qaeda was tied to a series of bombings in Saudi Arabia.

The document also recounts contacts with Mohammed al-Massari, a known al Qaeda mouthpiece living in London.

4. A 1998 IIS document reveals that a representative of bin Laden visited Baghdad in March 1998 to meet with Saddam's regime. According to the memo, the IIS arranged a visit for bin Laden's "trusted confidant," who stayed in a regime-controlled hotel for more than two weeks. Interestingly, according to other evidence discovered by the U.S. intelligence community, Ayman al-Zawahiri was also in Baghdad the month before. He collected a check for $300,000 from the Iraqi regime. The 9-11 Commission confirmed that there were a series of meetings (perhaps set up by Zawahiri, who had "ties of his own" to the Iraq regime) in the following months as well.

5. Numerous IIS documents demonstrate that Saddam had made plans for a terrorist-style insurgency and coordinated the influx of foreign terrorists into Iraq. In My Year in Iraq, Ambassador Paul Bremer says a secret IIS document he had seen "showed that Saddam had made plans for an insurgency." Moreover, "the insurgency had forces to draw on from among several thousand hardened Baathists in two northern Republican Guard divisions that had joined forces with foreign jihadis."

Cobra II, a scathing indictment of the Bush administration's prosecution of the Iraq war by New York Times authors Michael Gordon and General Bernard Trainor, offers additional detail about the terrorists who made their way to Iraq in advance of the war. "Documents retrieved by American intelligence after the war show that the Iraqi Ministry of Defense coordinated border crossings with Syria and provided billeting, pay, and allowances and armaments for the influx of Syrians, Palestinians, and other fighters."

Still another IIS document contains Saddam's orders to "utilize Arab suicide bombers" against the Americans. Saddam's agents were also ordered to provide these terrorists with munitions, cash, shelter, and training.


These are just five examples of the types of documents that have been discovered in postwar Iraq. There are many more examples not listed here. They all undermine the conventional wisdom that there was never any relationship between Saddam's Iraq and al Qaeda.

But you won't see Senator Carl Levin calling attention to any of these documents. And the Washington Post has shown no interest in bringing them to his attention either. Instead, Levin and the Post like to pretend that the relationship between Saddam and al Qaeda was cooked up by neoconservatives bent on war. The Post even initially--and incorrectly--reported that a copy of a memo from Feith's shop was leaked to THE WEEKLY STANDARD prior to war. (In reality, Stephen Hayes reported on the memo months after the war began. The implication of the Post's misreporting was clear: this was all about justifying war.

But instead of worrying about a memo written by Feith's analysts, perhaps the Post should take more interest in what Saddam's files have to say. They're a lot more interesting.

Thomas Joscelyn is a terrorism researcher and economist living in New York.
Summary of the relationship between AlQuida and Saddam.
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