Violence rages in Iraq after Hussein's
Eighteen protesters killed by US troops
Compiled by Eamon Martin
Dec. 17 (AGR) Joy at the capture of Saddam Hussein gave
way to resentment towards the United States on Monday as Iraqis confronted
afresh the bloodshed, shortages and soaring cost of life under US
While Washington and London were still congratulating themselves on
the capture of Hussein, US troops shot dead at least 18 Iraqis protesting
in the streets of three major cities in the country.
Dramatic videotape from the city of Ramadi showed unarmed supporters
of Saddam Hussein being gunned down in semi-darkness as they fled
from American troops after a rally of up to 750 people. Eleven of
the 18 dead were killed by US soldiers in Samarra. All of the killings
came during demonstrations by Sunni Muslims against the American seizure
Many had hoped Husseins capture would put an end to the Iraqi
insurgency that has been carrying out escalating deadly attacks against
US troops every day. Any such hope was swiftly crushed the day after,
when suicide bombers killed eight Iraqi policemen and injured at least
30 civilians in two suicide bomb attacks in Baghdad.
In what may well be a clear indication that the resistance to US occupation
will continue despite the capture of the former Iraqi leader, occupation
security documents showed there were 30 attacks on US forces around
Baghdad alone in the first 24 hours after Husseins incarceration.
Two car bombs were detonated outside Iraqi police stations in different
parts of the city on Dec. 15. The attacks in the Husainiyah and Ameriyah
neighborhoods followed a similar car bomb attack the day before in
which 17 people were killed in Khalidiyah, just 12 hours after the
former Iraqi leader was taken into US custody.
As mentioned before, US forces also met civil resistance on the streets.
Pro-Hussein demonstrations were immediately held in several Iraqi
towns, casting doubts on claims by the US-led occupation that the
people of Iraq universally welcomed his arrest.
In Tikrit, 10 miles from where Hussein was captured, about 700 people
rallied in the town center chanting Saddam is in our hearts,
Saddam is in our blood. The US army later sent hundreds of troops
and dozens of tanks through the center of the town to calm locals
whom 122 Battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Steven Russell described
as uppity. Police had earlier fired in the air to disperse
a protest by 250 girl students in the tense city.
In Fallujah, troops killed another two Iraqis on Monday night, police
and journalists said, after pro-Hussein demonstrators sacked regional
government offices, forcing police to flee.
The pair were shot inside a car, said Iraqi police Lieutenant Hamid
After attacking the government building, Iraqi demonstrators broke
up furniture, computers, air conditioning units, and destroyed several
documents. They then set all of the wreckage alight in a huge bonfire
outside, journalists said. Two large pictures of Hussein and Iraqi
flags were hung from the top of the building.
United States: more sovereignty = more violence
After Husseins capture, US President George W. Bush predicted
that there would be continuing violence. The terrorists in Iraq
remain dangerous. The work of our coalition remains difficult and
will require further sacrifice, he said at a press conference
We expect to see an increase in violence as we move forward
towards sovereignty, Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top
US commander in Iraq, said in a frank assessment this week echoed
by Bush and L. Paul Bremer III, the occupations administrator.
Bush warned that catching Hussein would not end attacks by people
who do not accept the rise of liberty in the heart of the Middle
East, implying a pledge for a better life many Iraqis say Bush
is failing to keep.
Bush said he doubts that Saddam Hussein will have much reliable information
to share about the resistance inside Iraq, or about the existence
of those elusive weapons of mass destruction, the given reason for
the US-led invasion in March. Bush described his defeated adversary
as a deceiver, a liar, a torturer and a murderer.
So far Hussein has denied under interrogation that his government
had links with international terrorism, and has repeated his assertion
that the alleged weapons of mass destruction do not exist.
Bush said Tuesday that Hussein deserves the ultimate penalty
but it will be up to the people of Iraq to decide whether he should
Iran meanwhile headed a chorus of voices demanding Hussein be tried
before an international court.
An international court should determine who equipped this dictator
to disrupt our region and impose three big crises, an Iranian
government spokesman said, referring to Husseins invasion of
Iran, Kuwait, and then this years US invasion of Iraq itself.
Hundreds of thousands of Iranians died in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war,
a conflict in which the United States, Britain, France, and as well
as a number of key Arab states, backed Iraq when it invaded its neighbor.
Its great that hes caught, but it wasnt him
who screwed up the petrol and the electricity and everything else
so badly; so now a canister of gas that was 250 dinars costs 4,000,
if you can get one, said Ghazi, a 52-year-old dentist, from
his car as he waited to buy gasoline with hundreds of other drivers
Other drivers echoed the complaints of chronic fuel shortages in a
country with the worlds second-largest oil reserves, as well
as of their treatment at the hands of troops who have killed civilians.
The Americans promised freedom and prosperity; whats this?
Go up to their headquarters, at one of those checkpoints where they
point their guns at you, and tell them that you hate them as much
as Saddam, and see what they do to you, said Mohammad Saleh,
39, a building contractor.
The only difference is that Saddam would kill you in private,
where the Americans will kill you in public, he said.
The Americans can think what they want, but Saddam was not a
symbol for us, said Hamjed Abdullah who is studying to be an
imam. We are fighting for our country and our religion. We are
not fighting for Saddam.
Abdullah was speaking at the Garden of Paradise Martyrs cemetery
on the grounds of Baghdads Abu Hanifa Mosque, an area of stiff
opposition to foreign presence in Iraq.
It is the same whether Saddam is alive or dead, said cemetery
caretaker Abdel Hadi Jasem, 57. The resistance will continue
bombing their [US] tanks and their headquarters. We must kick them
Iraqi protesters oust appointed governor
Last week, Iraqi demonstrators in Hilla converged on the US-installed
provincial governors office on Dec. 7 with banners, sleeping
mats, cooking pots and a simple demand: Iskander Jawad Witwit should
After three days and nights of continuous protests, Witwit did just
that. But the demonstrators have refused to budge.
As soon as Witwit resigned, the local representative of the US occupation
authority appointed a former Iraqi air force officer as acting governor.
To the protesters, that was unacceptable. The new governor, they insisted,
should be chosen not by an American but by Iraqis through an
Yes, yes for elections! shouted the protesters, a collection
of students, clerics and middle-aged professionals whose ranks swelled
to more than 1,000 on Dec. 11. No, no to appointment!
The protesters have pledged to continue their sit-in outside the governors
office they have erected tents and dug latrines until
their demand is met.
President George Bush promised us democracy, said Kadhim
Abbas, the owner of a carpet factory, who brought three dozen employees
to the protest. How can you have democracy without elections?
Sources: Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, Independent (UK),
Los Angeles Times, Reuters, Washington Post
Pro-segregation Thurmond fathered
By Rupert Cornwell
Washington, DC, Dec. 15 After a lifetime of silence,
a retired teacher in Los Angeles has confirmed that she is the
illegitimate mixed-race daughter of Strom Thurmond the
former South Carolina senator who for decades led the segregationist
movement in the American south.
On Wednesday, Essie Mae Washington-Williams, now 78 years old,
will make an official announcement about her secret past in
Columbia, the capital of her fathers home state. In doing
so she will confirm a story that had long swirled around Thurmond,
who died aged 100 last June just five months after retiring
as the longest-serving senator in American history.
To the very end of his career he was as famous for his eye for
the ladies as for any legislative achievement.
Until now Washington-Williams has denied the rumors, insisting
that she and Thurmond were merely friends. Despite
recent money problems - she received intermittent financial
help from the former senator but declared personal bankruptcy
in 2001 - she insists her motive in going public is not to seek
money from the Thurmond estate. Most of Thurmonds fortune
has been divided between his three surviving children from his
second marriage. I want to bring closure to this,
she told The Washington Post. This is part of history.
Washington-Williams was born in October 1925, the daughter of
Essie Butler, then a 16-year-old who did cleaning work at the
Thurmond family home in Edgefield, South Carolina. At the time
the young Strom, then 22, was a teacher and a high school sports
At the age of six months, Essie Mae was taken by her aunt to
live with relatives in a suburb of Philadelphia.
At 16 she met her father for the first time when she returned
to Edgefield to see her mother, who was dying of an incurable
kidney disease. Essie Maes mother insisted she meet Thurmond,
by then a prominent local lawyer and state senator, and took
Essie to see him in his office.
The meeting lasted around 20 minutes. He called her a
very lovely daughter, and Washington-Williams was equally
delighted. I was very happy. I knew I had a father somewhere,
and it was wonderful to meet him, she said.
At the time Thurmond was a racial progressive who favored greater
educational opportunity for black people, and who sought to
prosecute whites who carried out lynchings. But in 1948 he changed
political course, running for president on a Dixiecrat
program, backing segregation and carrying four Deep South states.
In 1957, he conducted a 24-hour filibuster, still the longest
in Senate history, against a civil rights bill. And in the mid-1960s,
he left the Democratic party in protest against President Lyndon
Johnsons civil rights program and became a Republican.
The secret of Thurmonds liaison remained intact despite
regular visits by Ms Washington-Williams to the US capital,
where she met her father in his Senate office. At the end of
each trip he would give her money, and in 1998 she sent him
a Fathers Day card, receiving a personally-signed thank-you
note in return.
While Thurmond was alive she denied all suggestions that the
two were any more than family friends. Her motive, she told
the Post, was to protect Thurmonds political career and
spare herself and her own four children from embarrassment.
But now Thurmond is dead, the story has emerged - a 20th-century
equivalent of the alleged relationship between Thomas Jefferson,
the third US president and author of the Declaration of Independence,
and his slave girl Sally Hemmings. Washington-Williams confirmed
through her lawyer at the weekend that she is prepared to take
a DNA test to prove her claims.
Source: Independent (UK)
Mushrraf narrowly escapes assassination attempt
By Phil Reeves
Dec. 15 Pakistani authorities on Dec. 14 were investigating
whether the countrys military ruler, President Pervez Musharraf,
was the target of an assassination attempt after a bomb detonated
on a road minutes after his motorcade passed.
The explosion happened about a mile from the Islamabad International
Airport as the president was returning home after a visit to the
southern city of Karachi. Witnesses said the blast occurred at
a bridge close to a military compound. Sheharyar Khan, whose car
was stopped at a roadblock shortly afterwards, said, As
the presidents motorcade passed, a huge explosion blew up
A military spokesman, Maj Gen Shaukat Sultan, said Musharraf was
safe and sound. He said it was a terrorist act,
but only an investigation would determine whether it was aimed
at the Pakistani leader.
However, another official confirmed that the president, who seized
power in a bloodless coup in 1999, was the target of the bomb.
An Interior Ministry official told the Associated Press: Definitely,
definitely, it was meant for President Musharraf.
Police and soldiers cordoned off and searched the area. There
was a large crater in the road where the bomb exploded.
Musharraf has long been considered at risk of attack, despite
the strength of support he has from Pakistans military and
intelligence services. He has angered Pakistans militant
Islamist groups by backing the United States after the 11 September
terrorist attacks, for which he was rewarded with substantial
financial aid from abroad. But that also made him many enemies
at home, especially among the religious militant groups.
He has led a nationwide hunt for al-Qaida suspects that has resulted
in the capture of hundreds of guerrillas, many of whom have been
handed over to the US. They include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the
suspected planner of the Sept. 11 attacks who was caught in Rawalpindi
earlier this year. The hunt is continuing for al-Qaida leader
Osama bin Laden, believed by some to be hiding near the Afghan-Pakistan
There have been at least two prior attempts to kill the Pakistani
leader. In October a court convicted three Islamic militants for
attempting to assassinate him in Karachi last year, handing them
10-year jail terms. The militants belonged to al-Almi faction
of Harkat-ul Mujahideen, a group also accused of planning a suicide
attack last year outside the US consulate in Karachi which killed
Yesterdays developments were watched closely in neighboring
India. Relations between India and Musharraf reached a low point
last year, when the countries massed their armies along the border,
but tensions have eased in recent months.
Talat Masood, a former senior defense official, said it was too
early to say who was behind yesterdays attack, but the most
likely suspects were extremist religious forces opposed to Musharrafs
policy on Afghanistan and his efforts to reform Islamic schools
that have become hotbeds of radicalism.
Masood said: I think these are the forces who want to eliminate
The explosion happened on the same day that Indonesias President,
Megawati Sukar-noputri, arrived in Pakistan on an official visit;
she is to meet with Musharraf today. Pakistan and Indonesia are
the worlds two largest Muslim nations. Pakistan has been
ruled by its military for more than half of its 56 years. Musharraf
held legislative elections in Pakistan last year, but remains
in charge of the country, having amended the constitution before
the vote to give him the power to dismiss parliament and the prime
In 1999, the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif refused to allow
an aircraft Musharraf was on to land; the military then seized
control of the country and arrested Sharif.
Source: Independent (UK)