Nir Rosen: Al Qaeda’s threat to US is a lie

January 15, 2010

RT’s Anastasia Churkina sits down for an exclusive interview with journalist and film-maker Nir Rosen, who spends months ever year in the Middle East. Rosen talks about the truth behind Al Qaeda, Afghanistan and Iraq, and the real reasons for America’s military involvement there.

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As Pentagon Cancels Rendon Group Contract, US-NATO Spokesman Defends Using Company to Profile Journalists

Updated: Sept 3, 2009

Democracy Now!
Sept. 1, 2009

As Pentagon Cancels Rendon Group Contract, US-NATO Spokesman in Afghanistan Defends Using Company to Profile Journalists

The Pentagon is canceling its contract with the private public relations firm The Rendon Group to produce background profiles of journalists seeking to cover the war. One journalist profiled was Nir Rosen, who got a hold of his profile. The Rendon Group reported to the Pentagon that Rosen’s reporting in Afghanistan was “highly unfavorable to international efforts.” The Rendon Group profile also mentioned Rosen’s appearance on Democracy Now!, when he stated his belief that the war is unwinnable and that the US should withdraw. We speak with Col. Wayne Shanks, the public affairs officer for US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

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Col. Wayne Shanks, public affairs officer for US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Nir Rosen, independent journalist who has covered the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2003. He is a fellow at the NYU Center on Law and Security. In July, he was embedded with the US military in Afghanistan.

via As Pentagon Cancels Rendon Group Contract, US-NATO Spokesman in Afghanistan Defends Using Company to Profile Journalists

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New America Foundation: Briefing on Beirut (video)

Dandelion Salad


Is Lebanon on the brink of civil war? What are the implications for the region? What is America’s role in the current crisis?

Vodpod videos no longer available. from posted with vodpod


May 13, 2008

Featured Speakers

  • Rami Khouri (by phone)
    The Daily Star
  • Hisham Melhem
    Bureau Chief
    Al Arabiyah
  • Nir Rosen (by phone)
    Former Fellow, New America Foundation
    Fellow, NYU Center on Law and Security
  • Daniel Levy
    Director, Middle East Policy Initiative, New America Foundation/The Century Foundation
  • Flynt Leverett
    Director, Geopolitics of Energy Initiative
    New America Foundation

This site carries a Creative Commons license, which permits non-commercial re-use of New America content when proper attribution is provided. Please click on this image for more details.
New America® is a registered trademark of the New America Foundation.


Lebanon does not want another war. Does it? By Robert Fisk

Disturbing Stirrings – Ratcheting Up For War on Iran by Stephen Lendman

Are the Clashes in Beirut a Signal of the inception of a new War for the “New Middle East”?

Mosaic News – 5/9/08: World News from the Middle East

Inside Story: Lebanon’s army (video)

Iraq Does Exist By Ghali Hassan

Dandelion Salad

By Ghali Hassan
12/16/07 “ICH

The history of trying to obfuscate the truth and distort the image of Iraq has always been the aim of the U.S. aggression against the people of Iraq. There is the added factor now of new breed of ‘journalists’ and ‘bloggers’ ever on the lookout for a story that will tell Westerners all they need to know about Iraq, its problems, dangers, and prospects. Despite all of this, Iraq remains a nation of proud people struggling to liberate themselves from a murderous colonial Occupation.

In a recent interview (“Iraq Doesn’t Exist Anymore“) with the self-described ‘leftists’ blogger Mike Whitney, Nir Rosen made untruthful and unsubstantiated statements regarding the situation on the ground in Iraq and the Occupation of that country by U.S. forces and their collaborators.

Let’s start with the fact. Nir Rosen is an Israeli-American (‘dual loyalty’) citizen of Iranian descent. Before he was recruited for the war on Iraq, Rosen once wrote; I had dreamed of joining Israel’s elite special forces” to murder defenceless Palestinians and Arabs. Like many of the new breed of journalists who have been drafted into service, Rosen was an embedded ‘reporter’ with U.S. Armoured Cavalry Regiment in western Iraq. Embedded journalism is the antithesis of independent journalism. In embedded journalism, journalists have to serve power and cover-up war crimes. With his “Middle Eastern appearance”, Rosen is the perfect face of U.S. imperialism.

Rosen publishes in many of the U.S. mainstream media outlets, such as the New York Times, Times Magazine and the Boston Review. However, if Rosen articles about the Middle East, Iraq in particular, had any shred of truth in them, they wouldn’t appear in the New York times, Times Magazine or the Boston Review. Because if Rosen deviates from what Noam Chomsky calls the ‘doctrinal framework’ or the line of serving power, he wouldn’t get his rubbish published there.

In the interview Rosen told Whitney: “The main reason that things have gone so horribly wrong in Iraq is there was no plan for anything; good or bad. The looting was not ‘deliberate’ American policy. It was simply incompetence. The destruction of Iraq’s cultural icons was incompetence, also – as well as stupidity, ignorance and criminal neglect. I don’t believe that there was really any deliberate malice in the American policy; regardless of the malice with which it may have been implemented by the troops on the ground. The destruction of much of Iraq was the result of Islamic and sectarian militias-both Sunni and Shiite-seeking to wipe out hated symbols. The Americans didn’t know enough about Iraq to intentionally execute such a plan even if it did exist. And, I don’t think it did”.

So Rosen and Whitney want us to believe that, the illegal invasion of Iraq was not planned and the decision to disband the Iraqi Army and Police in order to create chaos and insecurity was not deliberate. The mass murder of innocent Iraqi civilians and the destruction of Iraq, including Iraq’s cultural heritage was simply “incompetence”, according to Nir Rosen.

Anyone who has paid serious attention to the aggression against the Iraqi people knows that Rosen is patently dishonest and lack moral principles when he touts the situation there was the result of “incompetence” and the destruction of much of Iraq was the result of the militias. The aggression was not a deliberate “malice” according to Rosen; it just happened. According to Robert H. Jackson, the Chief Prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trial in 1945 wrote: “Any resort to war — any kind of war — is a resort to means that are inherently criminal. War inevitably is a course of killings, assaults, deprivations of liberty, and destruction of property”. Imagine Rosen describing the aggression in Jackson’s term.

The interview was simply a rehashing of Rosen’s crude simplification that fills a need felt by many pro-Occupation fascists to have it confirmed for them that what happen in Iraq was “unintentional”. Our mission was to “spread democracy” and “freedom” because we jus have too much o them in the West. It is just something gone wrong in Iraq and we had no control over it. Once again we are misled by a typical example of the Western man led by moral principles to promote ‘good’.

Repeating the same rubbish he has been perfecting, Rosen told Whitney: “The violence in Iraq was not senseless or crazy, it was logical and teleological. Shiite militias were trying to remove Sunnis from Baghdad and other parts of the country, while Sunni militias were trying to remove Shiites, Kurds and Christians from their areas. This has been a great success. So you have millions of refugees and millions more internally displaced, not to mention hundreds of thousands dead. There are just less people to kill”. Of course, Whitney did not challenge Rosen during the interview, and the interview is posted on all Zionist and pro-Occupation websites.

Whitney and Rosen know very well that before the U.S. illegal aggression against Iraq, Iraqis were living in harmony regardless of religious or ethnic backgrounds. No racist journalist should deny the fact that before the aggression, Iraq was a safe country for every one, including Westerners like Whitney, Rosen and their ilk. Baghdad is a city of one million Kurds. The “great success” of terrorising Iraqis is happening under the radar screen of the Occupation. Indeed, sectarianism is brought by the invasion and subsequent Occupation, like the Cholera epidemic. It is encouraged and nurtured because it is a vital instrument of the Occupation.

Different militia and extremist groups are working as paid death squads for the Occupation. Iraqis have publicly denounced the violence as without distinction (between ‘Sunnis’ and ‘Shiites’) carried out by criminal gang and death squads on the U.S. pay roll. To increase the violence and justify the ongoing Occupation, the U.S. began inciting one faction against the other. Of course, every thing is ‘masterminded’ by the phantom of “al-Qaeda”. [1]

The current division and political violence is an imperialist-Zionist ploy designed to destroy Iraq as a nation. The destruction of Iraq (physically, culturally and militarily) has been the ideological dream of the Israeli leaders and their Zionist supporters in the U.S., the pro-Israel Jewish Lobby. The recent U.S. Senate vote to partition Iraq along ethnic/religious lines is the beginning of an old scheme for the Middle East. This imperialist-Zionist scheme is rejected by the overwhelming majority of Iraqis who are loudly demanding the end to the murderous Occupation.

Rosen failed to admit that Iraqis fought an eight-year war against Iran defended their country with pride regardless of religious affiliation. Iraqis do not see themselves in terms of ‘Shiites’ or ‘Sunnis’. Iraqis identify themselves as Muslim-Arab and see themselves as Iraqis first. They showed this loyalty during the Iran-Iraq war. According to U.S. military findings, when the Iraqi government “initiated a total call-up of available manpower in 1986, the response was good. No draft riots occurred; young men-even college students—reported without incident. The fact that the public answered the call tells us that Iraqis support their government … Eighty-five percent of the army belongs to the sect of Shiism”. [2]

The needless killing of more than 1.3 million innocent Iraqis, mostly women and children, appeared to have escaped Rosen’s reporting. In fact since 1990, the U.S. and Britain declared outright intent to use disproportionate force, mortally targeting Iraqis as a national group. Some 1.5 million Iraqis died, including 500,000 infants, as a result of the 13-years U.S.-UK enforced UN sanctions.

Countless U.S. soldiers are publicly condemning their criminal actions in Iraq. Writing in the Vermont’s Rutland Herald, Matt Howard, a U.S. Marine, reflects on his participation in the deliberate and unprovoked war of aggression against the Iraqi people: “We did not go to war with the country of Iraq; we went to war with the people of Iraq. During the initial invasion we killed women. We killed children. We senselessly killed farm animals. We were the United States Marine Corps, not the Peace Corps, and we left a swath of death and destruction in our wake all the way to Baghdad.”

In Rosen’s view, the total destruction of urban centres such as Fallujah, Tel Afar, Samarra, Al-Qaim, Haditha, Tikrit, and Ramadi, among other cities and towns by indiscriminate bombing is not considered war crimes perpetuated with intent to terrorise and pacify the entire Iraqi population.

It is important to remember that from the outset of the Occupation, the U.S. Administration embarked on dividing Iraqis into religious and ethnic groups and hence planted the first seed for disunity and violence. The U.S.-imposed “Iraqi Governing Council” was the best example of a colonial-imposed puppet government formed along ethnic and sectarian lines. The puppet government is simply an extension of the Occupation. It is voids of anything resembling a democracy. It has no political control whatsoever beyond the ‘Green Zone’ where it is protected by the Occupation. Its main function is to provide a façade and legitimise the Occupation. The recent “agreement” to extend the Occupation in flagrant violation of Iraqi sovereignty is a case in point.

Back in August 2007, Nir Rosen told Amy Goodman of DemocracyNow news: “It’s too late for anything good to happen in Iraq, unfortunately. If the Americans stay, we’ll see a continuation of this civil war, of ethnic cleansing, until all of Iraq is sort of ethnically—or sectarian, homogenous zones, which is basically what’s already happened. If the Americans leave, then you’ll see greater intervention of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, supporting their own militias in Iraq and being drawn into battle. But no matter what, Iraq doesn’t exist anymore”. Not as simple as that, Mr. Rosen.

And what proof is offered for this Zionist propaganda? None. In fact all the evidence pointed to a premeditated and deliberate U.S.-Zionist plan to destroy Iraq as a nation and replace it with a collection of dependent fiefdoms. It is true, if the Americans stay, we’ll see a continuation of a U.S.-perpetuated violence and ethnic cleansing. But this is not what Rosen meant. Rosen failed to acknowledge that the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq is supported by the overwhelming majority of Iraqis and will remove the primary cause of the violence.

Where all these militias and criminals came from? Who trained them, armed them and finance them? Whitney didn’t ask. Nowhere in the interviews and scattered articles does Rosen tell us that the militias were the creation of the Occupation and that the violence is the only pretext left to justify the ongoing Occupation. Why Iraqis didn’t “hate each other” before the illegal invasion of their country is totally ignored by Western media and remains a mystery to most Westerners.

Furthermore, Whitney did not challenge Rosen how the Americans managed to protect the Iraqi Oil Ministry while at the same time turn blind eye to the looting and burning of Iraq’s most important buildings and Iraq’s cultural heritage. If the looting was not “deliberate” American policy, there must be a selective “incompetence”. Reports after reports showed clearly that the looting was pre-organised policy to strip Iraq of its Muslim-Arab identity and history. It is important to remember that at the time of looting and destruction, the British journalist Robert Fisk was in Baghdad and witnessed a systematic and deliberate attempt to destroy Iraq as a nation.

Again, Whitney failed to ask Rosen how the Americans were able to build the largest C.I.A. station (“U.S. Embassy”) in the world, “the size of Vatican City, with the population of a small town, its own defence force, self-contained power and water, and a precarious perch at the heart of Iraq’s turbulent future”, while most Iraqis left without food, drinking water and electricity. Why Iraq’s healthcare services, including major hospitals and medical centres, and Iraq’s education system including, schools and university remained destroyed and dysfunctional, while Americans are busy building military bases, described by many as “bustling American towns, replete with Burger King, Pizza Hut, shops, traffic regulations and young bikers clogging the roads”? In fact, like most people, many Americans now openly admit that there is a plan to occupy Iraq permanently and loot Iraq of its natural resources.

Finally, Like in Vietnam, the Americans offer the Iraqi people a choice: either you submit to a murderous colonial Occupation or we break you. The Iraqi people refused to submit and the Americans failed to break them.

U.S. policy in Iraq is not simply “incompetence”; it is “an essential component of U.S. policy [since 1990], constituting premeditated genocide against the people of Iraq”, writes Ian Douglas, a professor of Political Sciences and a member of the organising committee of the Brussels Tribunal. Furthermore, the U.S. failed in its imperialist strategy in Iraq not because of “incompetence”, but because “the Iraqi Resistance prevents Iraqi oil from reinforcing the occupation or paying for America’s global war of aggression”, added Douglas. [3].

One question that Mike Whitney didn’t ask Rosen which may clarify Rosen’s perspective is, why thousands of Iraqi scientists, professors, intellectuals and other professionals have been murdered in cold blood? Why at least 40 per cent of the educated and experienced Iraqi professionals have been threatened and forced to leave the country? The aim is to destroy Iraq’s independence by liquidating Iraq’s human resources.

There is no doubt that the premeditated aggression and murderous Occupation of Iraq by U.S. forces and their collaborators have succeeded in destroying the physical state of Iraq and terrorising the Iraqi population. “But, of course, the spirit of the Iraqi people is indestructible. They cannot be broken. They will resist, drive out all intruders, and they will recover. The people of Iraq will overcome the catastrophes of recent years”, writes Denis Halliday, former UN assistant secretary-general and one of the very few honourable voices in the West to publicly condemn the deliberate genocide in Iraq.

Iraq does exist. We should never forget the fact that there is an Iraqi nation and nationalism represented by legitimate National Iraqi Resistance. The U.S. government and its collaborators may have succeeded in killing many innocent Iraqis and removed a sovereign government but the U.S. failed and will not success in its attempt to destroy the Iraqi nation and the Iraq people’s will to resist the Occupation.

Today more than ever there is a need for honest and independent journalists who can stand up and against the active complicity of the mainstream media and in support of the people of Iraq struggle for freedom and independence. Nir Rosen is just another propaganda agent who has shown to be part of a murderous colonial Occupation.

Ghali Hassan is an independent writer living in Australia.


[1] Hassan, Ghali, Iraq: Occupation and Sectarianism; Varea, Carlos, Iraq: Sectarian Violence in Iraq and the New War in the Middle East; Wolf, Max, For Iraq, the ‘Salvador Option’ becomes Reality.

[2] Marine Corps Historical Publication – FMFRP 3-203, Lessons Learned: Iran-Iraq War, December 10, 1990 Chemical Weapons.

[3] Douglas, Ian, Notes on genocide in Iraq. [PDF]. This document should be read by any concerned citizen.

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Terror is a tactic – Interview with Nir Rosen By Mike Whitney

Iraq war is a betrayal of American democracy By Matt Howard (IVAW)

Terror is a tactic – Interview with Nir Rosen By Mike Whitney

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
11/30/07 “ICH

Question: Is the “surge” working as Bush claims or is the sudden lull in the violence due to other factors like demographic changes in Baghdad?

Nir Rosen: I think that even calling it a surge is misleading. A surge is fast; this took months. It was more like an ooze. The US barely increased the troop numbers. It mostly just forced beleaguered American soldiers to stay longer. At the same time, the US doubled their enemies because, now, they’re not just fighting the Sunni militias but the Shiite Mahdi army also.

No, I don’t think the surge worked. Objectively speaking, the violence is down in Baghdad, but that’s mainly due to the failure of the US to establish security. That’s not success.

Sure, less people are being killed but that’s because there are less people to kill.

The violence in Iraq was not senseless or crazy, it was logical and teleological. Shiite militias were trying to remove Sunnis from Baghdad and other parts of the country, while Sunni militias were trying to remove Shiites, Kurds and Christians from their areas. This has been a great success. So you have millions of refugees and millions more internally displaced, not to mention hundreds of thousands dead. There are just less people to kill.

Moreover, the militias have consolidated their control over some areas. The US never thought that Muqtada al Sadr would order his Mahdi Army to halt operations (against Sunnis, rival Shiites and Americans) so that he could put his house in order and remove unruly militiamen. And, the US never expected that Sunnis would see that they were losing the civil war so they might as well work with the Americans to prepare for the next battle.

More importantly, violence fluctuates during a civil war, so people try to maintain as much normalcy in their lives as possible. It’s the same in Sarajevo, Beirut or Baghdad—people marry, party, go to school when they can—and hide at home or fight when they must.

The euphoria we see in the American media reminds me of the other so-called milestones that came and went while the overall trend in Iraq stayed the same. Now Iraq doesn’t exist anymore. Thats the most important thing to remember. there is no Iraq. There is no Iraqi government and none of the underlying causes for the violence have been addressed, such as the mutually exclusive aspirations of the rival factions and communities in Iraq.

Question: Are we likely to see a “Phase 2” in the Iraq war? In other words, will we see the Shia eventually turn their guns on US occupation forces once they’re confident that the Ba’athist-led resistance has been defeated and has no chance of regaining power?

Nir Rosen: Shiite militias have been fighting the Americans on and off since 2004 but there’s been a steady increase in the past couple of years. That’s not just because the Americans saw the Mahdi army as one of the main obstacles to fulfilling their objectives in Iraq, but also because Iraq’s Shiites—especially the Mahdi army—are very skeptical of US motives. They view the Americans as the main obstacle to achieving their goals in Iraq. Ever since Zalmay Khalilzad took over as ambassador; Iraq’s Shiites have worried that the Americans would turn on them and throw their support behind the Sunnis. That’s easy to understand given that Khalilzad’s mandate was to get the Sunnis on board for the constitutional referendum. (Khalilzad is also a Sunni himself)

But, yes, to answer your question; we could see a “Phase 2” if the Americans try to stay in Iraq longer or, of course, if the US attacks Iran. Then you’ll see more Shiite attacks on the Americans.

Question: Hundreds of Iraqi scientists, professors, intellectuals and other professionals have been killed during the war. Also, there seems to have been a plan to target Iraq’s cultural icons—museums, monuments, mosques, palaces etc. Do you think that there was a deliberate effort to destroy the symbols of Iraqi identity–to wipe the slate clean–so that the society could be rebuilt according to a neoliberal, “free market”model?

Nir Rosen: There certainly was no plan on the part of the occupying forces. In fact, that’s the main reason that things have gone so horribly wrong in Iraq; there was no plan for anything; good or bad.

The looting was not “deliberate” American policy. It was simply incompetence. The destruction of Iraq’s cultural icons was incompetence, also—as well as stupidity, ignorance and criminal neglect.

I don’t believe that there was really any deliberate malice in the American policy; regardless of the malice with which it may have been implemented by the troops on the ground. The destruction of much of Iraq was the result of Islamic and sectarian militias–both Sunni and Shiite–seeking to wipe out hated symbols. The Americans didn’t know enough about Iraq to intentionally execute such a plan even if it did exist. And, I don’t think it did.

Question: The media rarely mentions the 4 million refugees created by the Iraq war. What do you think the long-term effects of this humanitarian crisis will be?

Nir Rosen: Well, the smartest Iraqis–the best educated, the professionals, the middle and upper classes—have all left or been killed. So the society is destroyed. So there is no hope for a non-sectarian Iraq now.

The refugees are getting poorer and more embittered. Their children cannot get an education and their resources are limited. Look at the Palestinian refugee crisis. In 1948 you had about 800,000 Palestinians expelled from their homes and driven into Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and elsewhere in the Middle East. Over time, they were politicized, mobilized and militarized. The militias they formed to liberate their homeland were manipulated by the governments in the region and they became embroiled in regional conflicts, internal conflicts and, tragically, conflicts with each other. They were massacred in Lebanon and Jordan. And, contributed to instability in those countries.

Now you have camps in Lebanon producing jihadists who go to fight in Iraq or who fight the Lebanese Army. And this is all from a population of just 800,000 mostly rural, religiously-homogeneous (Sunni) refugees.

Now, you have 2 million Iraqi refugees in Syria, a million in Jordan and many more in other parts of the Middle East. The Sunnis and Shiites already have ties to the militias. They are often better educated, urban, and have accumulated some material wealth. These refugees are increasingly sectarian and are presently living in countries with a delicate sectarian balance and very fragile regimes. Many of the refugees will probably link up with Islamic groups and threaten the regimes of Syria and Jordan. They’re also likely to exacerbate sectarian tensions in Lebanon.

They’re also bound to face greater persecution as they “wear out their welcome” and put a strain on the country’s resources.

They’ll probably form into militias and either try go home or attempt to overthrow the regimes in the region. Borders will change and governments will fall. A new generation of fighters will emerge and there’ll be more attacks on Americans.

Question: You have compared Iraq to Mogadishu. Could you elaborate?

Nir Rosen: Somalia hasn’t had a government since 1991. I’ve been to Mogadishu twice. Its ruled by warlords who control their own fiefdoms. Those who have money can live reasonably well. That’s what it’s like in Iraq now—a bunch of independent city-states ruled by various militias—including the American militia and British militias.

Of course, Somalia is not very important beyond the Horn of Africa. It’s bordered by the sea, Kenya and Ethiopia. There’s no chance of the fighting in Somalia spreading into a regional war. Iraq is much more dangerous in that respect.

Question: Is the immediate withdrawal of all US troops really the best option for Iraq?

Nir Rosen: It really doesn’t matter whether the Americans stay or leave. There are no good options for Iraq; no solutions. The best we can hope for is that the conflict won’t spread. The best thing we can say about the American occupation is that it may soften the transition for the ultimate break up of Iraq into smaller fragments. A couple of years ago, I said that the Americans should leave to prevent a civil war and to allow the (Sunni) rejectionists to join the government once the occupation ended. Turns out, I was right; but, obviously, it’s too late now. The civil war has already been fought and won in many places, mainly by the Shiite militias.

The Americans are still the occupying force, which means that they must continue to repress people that didn’t want them there in the first place. But, then, if you were to ask a Sunni in Baghdad today what would happen if the Americans picked up and left, he’d probably tell you that the remaining Sunnis would be massacred. So, there’s no “right answer” to your question about immediate withdrawal.

Question: November is the 3rd anniversary of the US siege of Falluja. Could you explain what happened in Falluja and what it means to Iraqis and the people in the Middle East?

Nir Rosen: Falluja was a poor industrial town known only for its kabob which Iraqis stopped to get on the way to picnic at lake Habbaniya. There were no attacks on the Americans from Falluja during the combat-phase of the US invasion. When Saddam’s regime fell, the Fallujans began administering their own affairs until the Americans arrived. The US military leaders saw the Sunnis as the “bad guys”, so they treated them harshly. At first, the Fallujans ignored the rough treatment because the tribal leaders leaders wanted to give the Americans a chance.

Then there was a incident, in April 2003, where US troops fired on a peaceful demonstration and killed over a dozen unarmed civilians. This, more than anything else, radicalized the people and turned them against the Americans.

In the spring of 2004, four (Blackwater) American security contractors were killed in Falluja. Their bodies were burned and dismembered by an angry crowd. It was an insult to America’s pride. In retaliation, the military launched a massive attack which destroyed much of the city and killed hundreds of civilians. The US justified the siege by saying that it was an attack on foreign fighters that (they claimed) were hiding out in terrorist strongholds. In truth, the townspeople were just fighting to defend their homes, their city, their country and their religion against a foreign occupier. Some Shiite militiamen actually fought with the Sunnis as a sign of solidarity.

In late 2004, the Americans completely destroyed Falluja forcing tens of thousands of Sunnis to seek refuge in western Baghdad. This is when the sectarian clashes between the Sunnis and Shiites actually began. The hostilities between the two groups escalated into civil war.

Falluja has now become a symbol throughout the Muslim world of the growing resistance to American oppression.

Question: The political turmoil in Lebanon continues even though the war with Israel has been over for more than a year. Tensions are escalating because of the upcoming presidential elections which are being closely monitored by France, Israel and the United States. Do you see Hezbollah’s role in the political process as basically constructive or destructive? Is Hezbollah really a “terrorist organization” as the Bush administration claims or a legitimate resistance militia that is necessary for deterring future Israeli attacks?

Nir Rosen: Hizballah is not a terrorist organization. It is a widely popular and legitimate political and resistance movement. It has protected Lebanon’s sovereignty and resisted American and Israeli plans for a New Middle East. It’s also among the most democratic of Lebanon’s political movements and one of the few groups with a message of social justice and anti imperialism. The Bush Administration is telling its proxies in the Lebanese government not to compromise on the selection of the next president. This is pushing Lebanon towards another civil war, which appears to be the plan. The US also started civil wars in Iraq, Gaza and Somalia.

Question: The humanitarian situation in Somalia is steadily worsening. The UN reports that nearly 500,000 Somalis have fled Mogadishu and are living in makeshift tent cities with little food or water. The resistance–backed by the former government–the Islamic Courts Union– is gaining strength and fighting has broken out in 70% of the neighborhoods in Mogadishu. Why is the US backing the invading Ethiopian army? Is Somalia now facing another bloody decades-long war or is there hope that the warring parties can resolve their differences?

Nir Rosen: After a decade and a half without a government and the endless fighting of clan-based militias; clan leaders decided to establish the Islamic Courts (Somalis are moderate Shaafi Muslims) to police their own people and to prevent their men provoking new conflicts. Islam was the only force powerful enough to unite the Somalis; and it worked.

There have only been a half-dozen or so Al Qaida suspects who have-at one time or another—entered or exited through Somalia. But the Islamic Courts is not an al Qaida organization. Still, US policy in the Muslim world is predicated on the “War on Terror”, so there’s an effort to undermine any successful Islamic model, whether it’s Hamas in Gaza, or Hizballah in Lebanon.

The US backed the brutal Somali warlords and created a counter-terrorism coalition which the Somalis saw as anti-Islamic. The Islamic Court militias organized a popular uprising that overthrew the warlords and restored peace and stability to much of Somalia for the first time in more than a decade. The streets were safe again, and exiled Somali businessmen returned home to help rebuild.

I was there during this time.

The Americans and Ethiopians would not tolerate the new arrangement. The Bush administration sees al Qaeda everywhere. So, they joined forces with the Ethiopians because Ethiopia’s proxies were overthrown in Mogadishu and because they feel threatened by Somali nationalism. With the help of the US, the Ethiopian army deposed the Islamic Courts and radicalized the population in the process. Now Somalia is more violent than ever and jihadi-type groups are beginning to emerge where none had previously existed.

Question: The US-led war in Afghanistan is not going well. The countryside is controlled by the warlords, the drug trade is flourishing, and America’s man in Kabul, Hamid Karzai, has little power beyond the capital. The Taliban has regrouped and is methodically capturing city after city in the south. Their base of support, among disenchanted Pashtuns, continues to grow. How important is it for the US to succeed in Afghanistan? Would failure threaten the future of NATO or the Transatlantic Alliance?

Nir Rosen: Although the US has lost in Afghanistan; what really matters is Pakistan. That’s where the Taliban and al Qaeda are actually located. No, I’m NOT saying that the US should take the war into Pakistan. The US has already done enough damage. But as long as America oppresses and alienates Muslims; they will continue to fight back.

Question: The Gaza Strip has been under Israeli sanctions for more than a year. Despite the harsh treatment—the lack of food, water and medical supplies
(as well as the soaring unemployment and the random attacks in civilian areas)—there have been no retaliatory suicide attacks on Israeli civilians or IDF soldiers. Isn’t this proof that Hamas is serious about abandoning the armed struggle and joining the political process? Should Israel negotiate directly with the “democratically elected” Hamas or continue its present strategy of shoring up Mahmoud Abbas and the PA?

Nir Rosen: Hamas won democratic elections that were widely recognized as free and fair; that is, as free and as fair as you can expect when Israel and America are backing one side while trying to shackle the other. Israel and the US never accepted the election results. That’s because Hamas refuses to capitulate. Also, Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood which is active in Egypt and Jordan and both those countries fear an example of a Muslim brothers in government, and they fear an example of a movement successfully defying the Americans and Israelis, so they backed Fatah. Everyone fears that these Islamic groups will become a successful model of resistance to American imperialism and hegemony. The regional dictators are especially afraid of these groups, so they work with the Americans to keep the pressure on their political rivals. Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah collaborates with the US and Israel to undermine Hamas and force the government to collapse. Although they have failed so far; the US and Israel continue to support the same Fatah gangs that attempted the coup to oust Hamas. The plan backfired, and Hamas gunmen managed to drive Fatah out of Gaza after a number of violent skirmishes.

Israel should stop secretly supporting Fatah and adopt the “One State” solution. It should grant Palestinians and other non-Jews equal rights, abandon Zionism, allow Palestinian refugees to return, compensate them, and dismantle the settlements. If Israel doesn’t voluntarily adopt the One State solution and work for a peaceful transition, (like South Africa) then eventually it will be face expulsion by the non Jewish majority in Greater Palestine, just like the French colonists in Algeria.

This is not a question of being “pro” or “anti” Israel; that’s irrelevant when predicting the future, and for any rational observer of the region it’s clear that Israel is not a viable state in the Middle East as long as it is Zionist.

Question: The US military is seriously over-stretched. Still, many political analysts believe that Bush will order an aerial assault on Iran. Do you think the US will carry out a “Lebanon-type” attack on Iran; bombing roads, bridges, factories, government buildings, oil depots, Army bases, munitions dumps, airports and nuclear sites? Will Iran retaliate or simply lend their support to resistance fighters in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Nir Rosen: I think it’s quite likely that Bush will attack Iran; not because he has a good reason to, but because Jesus or God told him to and because Iran is part of the front-line resistance (along with Hizballah, Syria and Hamas) to American hegemony in the region. Bush believes nobody will have the balls to go after the Iranians after him. He believes that history will vindicate him and he’ll be looked up to as a hero, like Reagan.

There is also a racist element in this. Bush thinks that Iran is a culture based on honor and shame. He believes that if you humiliate the Iranian regime, then the people will rise up and overthrow it. Of course, in reality, when you bomb a country the people end up hating you and rally around the regime. Just look at the reaction of the Serbs after the bombing by NATO, or the Americans after September 11.

Iran is more stable than Iraq and has a stronger military. Also, the US is very vulnerable in the region—both in Iraq and Afghanistan. America’s allies are even more vulnerable. An attack on Iran could ignite a regional war that would spiral out of control. Nothing good would come of it.

The Bush administration needs to negotiate with Iran and pressure Israel to abandon its nuclear weapons.

Question: Bush’s war on terror now extends from the southern border of Somalia to the northern tip of Afghanistan—from Africa, through the Middle East into Central Asia. The US has not yet proven—in any of these conflicts– that it can enforce its will through military means alone. In fact, in every case, the military appears to be losing ground. And it’s not just the military that’s bogged down either. Back in the United States, the economy is rapidly deteriorating. The dollar is falling, the housing market is collapsing, consumer spending is shrinking, and the country’s largest investment banks are bogged down with over $200 billion in mortgage-backed debt. Given the current state of the military and the economy, do you see any way that the Bush administration can prevail in the war on terror or is US power in a state of irreversible decline?

Nir Rosen: Terror is a tactic; so you can’t go to war with it in the first place. You can only go to war with people or nations. To many people it seems like the US is at war with Muslims. This is just radicalizing more people and eroding America’s power and influence in the world. But, then, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Bio: Nir Rosen is a Fellow at the New America Foundation who has written extensively on American policy in Afghanistan and Iraq. He spent more than two years in Iraq reporting on the American occupation, the relationship between Americans and Iraqis, the development of postwar Iraqi religious and political movements, interethnic and sectarian relations, and the Iraqi civil war. His reporting and research also focused on the origins and development of Islamist resistance, insurgency, and terrorist organizations. He has also reported from Somalia, where he investigated Islamist movements; Jordan, where he investigated the origins and future of the Zarqawi movement; and Pakistan, where he investigated the madrassas and pro-Taliban movements. Rosen’s book on postwar Iraq, In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq, was published by Free Press in 2006.

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“Come and see our overflowing morgues” By Mike Whitney

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
10/24/07 “ICH

Everyday, under the pretext of either Al Qaeda, insurgents, militants, or whatever imaginary name you coined, you have not ceased, not even for one day, slaughtering our innocents.

For 4 years, you have not ceased for one single day. Not during holiday periods, not during religious celebrations, not even during the day your so called God was born…if you have a God that is.”

Layla Anwar “A Perfect Baby Formula” An Arab Woman Blues

Come and see the rubble of your surgical air-strikes”

Retired Lt. Gen Ricardo Sanchez set off a firestorm recently when he described the occupation of Iraq as “a nightmare with no end in sight”. He added that US civilian leadership was “incompetent” and “corrupt” and that the best the US could hope for, given the present circumstances, would be to “stave off defeat.”

Naturally, Sanchez’s remarks were applauded by liberals and progressives who oppose the war, but their enthusiasm is unfounded. Sanchez is neither against the war nor for withdrawal. He simply doesn’t like losing—and the United States is losing.

It is foolish to look for support where there is none. Sanchez is just an embittered old soldier whose dream of pacifying the fiercely independent Iraqi people has fallen on hard times. He even admitted as much when he said:

“After more than four years of fighting, America continues its desperate struggle in Iraq without any concerted effort to devise a strategy that will achieve victory in that war-torn country or in the greater conflict against extremism.”

He’s right. There is no plan and the occupation has been a complete flop. But, it’s the “incompetence” that bothers Sanchez, not the decimation of a country that posed no threat to US national security. This is hardly a “principled stand”. But then why would we expect principles from a man who oversaw the activities at Abu Ghraib. A new book, “Administration of Torture”, by two American Civil Liberties Union attorneys, proves that military interrogators “abused, tortured or killed” scores of prisoners rounded up since 9-11. According to the report:

“The documents show that prisoner abuse like that found at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq was hardly the isolated incident that the Bush administration or US military claimed it was. By the time the prisoner abuse story broke in mid-2004 story the Army knew of at least 62 other allegations of abuse at different prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan, the authors report.”

Sanchez was in charge of Abu Ghraib in 2004 and is responsible for what took place there. He is not a man whose moral judgment on the war or anything else should be trusted. His recent comments should be dismissed as an empty tirade designed to distance himself from—what Lt Gen William Odom called—“the greatest strategic disaster in American history”.

Sanchez’s fundamental mistake is his belief that victory is possible in an immoral war. It is not; and the longevity of the occupation only amplifies the magnitude of the crime.

What’s particularly irksome about Sanchez’s remarks is that they perpetuate a myth about what is really taking place in Iraq and why the US effort has failed. It wasn’t Rumsfeld’s blundering that sunk the occupation. Nor was it the lack of soldiers, de’Bathification, lack of body-armour, or the steady rise in sectarian fighting. The US is losing in Iraq because it is locked in battle with a resourceful and tenacious adversary that has canceled out the US military’s technological advantages and superior firepower.

There’s a vast difference between incompetence and getting beaten. And, by every definition of guerilla warfare; the US is getting beaten. Is our opinion of ourselves so exaggerated that we cannot admit the truth?

Let’s stop making excuses. The war was doomed from the get-go; Falluja and Abu Ghraib just “sealed the deal”. After that, the resistance claimed the moral high-ground and won the support of the people. (Isn’t there anyone in the Pentagon who understands counterinsurgency?) A recent article by Ali al-Fadhily summed it up like this:

“The only factor the US did not calculate well was that Iraqis prefer starving to death to living under the dirty flag of occupiers.” (“Assassination of Sheikh Shakes US Claims”, Ali al-Fadhily)

No one wants to live under occupation and all of the surveys conducted since the invasion in 2003 indicate that more than 90% of the Iraqi people want to see the United States withdrawal. Given these results, it is obvious why the resistance has mushroomed. There will always be a growing pool of young nationalists eager to join the fray.

The US cannot prevail in Iraq nor can they impose a “political solution”—which is the other great myth currently in vogue. The only acceptable political solution to occupation is withdrawal—not puppet regimes, not “oil laws” not “benchmarks.” Withdrawal. Period.

But Bush will not withdrawal and apparently no one can force him to do so. So, the killing will continue unabated behind the media’s iron curtain while the overall situation on the ground continues to deteriorate. Eventually, after years of ethnic cleansing, sectarian fighting and stepped-up military operations; the position of the US will become untenable and the troops will come home. But the cost in human terms will be enormous. Already one million Iraqis have been killed in the war and four million others have become refugees. Credit the US media for concealing the real savagery of foreign occupation and its effects on Iraqi society. The country is in ruins.

There are only three problems in Iraq; occupation, occupation and occupation. Other than that, the Iraqi people are quite capable of resolving with their own problems and plotting their own future.

The US controls no ground in Iraq and has no popular base of support. Oil production is down, the Iraqi people are overwhelmingly against partition, and the Al Maliki government’s authority extends no further than the walls of the Green Zone. None of these bode well for the ongoing occupation. In fact, the US is doing everything in its power just to hang-on in Iraq. Baghdad has undergone massive campaign of ethnic cleansing which has transformed a city that was originally 70% Sunni to nearly 70% Shia. As journalist Nir Rosen stated, “The Shias own Iraq now. The Sunnis can never get it back. There’s Americans can do about this.”


In an interview with “Democracy Now’s” Amy Goodman, Rosen also made this sobering prediction:

“You’ll find a day when there are no Sunnis left in Baghdad. Saudi Arabia and Jordan are of course panicking about this, and they are hoping that the US will in some way arm or support Sunni militias. It’s hard for me to imagine that Sunni nations in the region will stand by and watch Sunnis pushed out of Baghdad. ..So you’ll see greater support from Saudi Arabia, from Jordan, perhaps from Yemin, from Egypt, for Sunni militias. Funding, things like that. And the civil war will spread and become a regional one.

There is no solution. We’ve destroyed Iraq and we’ve destroyed the region, and Americans need to know this. …There was no civil war in Iraq until we got there. And there was no civil war in Iraq, until we took certain steps to pit Sunnis against Shias. Now it is just too late. But, we need to know we are responsible for what’s happening in Iraq today. I don’t think Americans are aware of this….. This is going to spread and the region won’t recover from this for decades. And Americans are responsible”

Entire cities—Samarra, Tal Afar, Ramadi—have been surrounded with razor-wire so that entry and exit are limited to the heavily-guarded checkpoints. In Falluja–where 65% of the city was flattened in a brutal reprisal for the deaths of 4 mercenaries—all car traffic has been banned, residents must carry US-authorized IDs at all times, and the city cannot be entered without full-body searches and retinal scans. It’s a prison.

All of Iraq is under de-facto martial law consistent with Bush’s promise to “democratize” the Middle East. Another lie. US troops are engaged in a 5-year long low-intensity conflict against a loosely-configured nationalist army skilled at urban warfare. We won’t prevail.

As Rosen says, “Every single American who dies in Iraq, dies for nothing. He didn’t die for freedom; he didn’t die to defend his country. He died to occupy Iraq.”

Rosen’s analysis of the Iraqi nightmare is markedly different from Sanchez’s. He understands that victory was never possible and that the knock-on effects of the invasion-occupation will destabilize the entire region and upset the present balance of world power.


“Iraq has been changed irrevocably. I don’t think Iraq even—you can say it exists anymore….. What you’ll see is basically Mogadishu in Iraq—various warlords controlling small neighborhoods. And those who are by major resources, such as oil installations, obviously will be foreign-sponsored warlords who will be able to cut deals with us or the Chinese. But Iraq is destroyed, and I think we’ll see that this will spread throughout the region.”

While Nir Rosen has provided the most insightful and searing analysis of the Iraq war, Iraqi poet Layla Anwar has given voice to the war’s many victims. Anwar is a prolific blogger and her writings are not for the squeamish. Her web site, “An Arab Woman Blues, Reflections in a sealed Bottle” is frequently attacked. Her candor, cynicism, humor, intelligence and sensitivity makes her the Iraq’s finest blogger as well as an outstanding writer. Her observations give us what the media has taken away—a window into the suffering of average Iraqis who are being crushed by US aggression.

Layla Anwar:

“My father (bless his soul) and my mother kept reminding me. They said:
”Layla, Iraq is the Backbone of the Arab World.”

To be honest, I did not quite understand the full implications of such a statement, then. Today, I do.

Iraq was not only the Cradle of Civilization; it was indeed the Pillar, the Column, The Spinal Vertebrae, the Backbone of the Arab world. Now that it has crumbled, now that it has broken up, the rest will follow…

One by one…the other countries will come tumbling down…one by one, a ripple effect from Baghdad…to the rest of the World.”

Anwar’s prediction is similar to Rosen’s. The destruction of Baghdad is just the beginning of a great unwinding that will topple Capitals across the Middle East creating an entirely new and unforeseeable world order. How stupid and vain our leaders are.

Anwar’s prose is frequently a mix of compassion and rage. No one is spared—particularly not Americans. She puts a face on the millions of people who’ve been either killed or displaced by the fighting:

“Come and see our overflowing morgues and find our little ones for us…
You may find them in this corner or the other, a little hand poking out, pointing out at you…
Come and search for them in the rubble of your “surgical” air raids, you may find a little leg or a little head…pleading for your attention.
Come and see them amassed in the garbage dumps, scavenging morsels of food…

Well over half of our little ones are under-nourished or dying from disease. Cholera, dysentery, infections of all sorts….
Under-nourished does not mean on a diet like your fat little kids….. It means starved.
Come and see, come….” (“Flying Kites” Layla Anwar)

Sanchez should accept Anwar’s invitation and visit the “overflowing morgues” that he helped to create. At least then we might be able to take his ranting more seriously.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.


General claims Bush gave ‘marching orders’ on aggressive interrogation at Guantanamo by Nick Juliano

Security Contractors: Riding Shotgun With Our Shadow Army In Iraq By Nir Rosen

Dandelion Salad

News: They’ve given me a machine gun and 180 rounds of ammo, and told me not to pee for six hours.

By Nir Rosen
Mother Jones
April 24, 2007

Evening in Erbil, Kurdistan, what passes for an oasis of peace in Iraq. It’s March 2006, and I’m waiting for a ride down to Baghdad along one of the world’s most dangerous roads, a six-hour drive through the Sunni Triangle. A few years ago, I would have taken a taxi, but now the insurgents run roadblocks looking for targets—soldiers, contractors, journalists. I can’t rely on the Iraqi police, who are as likely to turn me over to insurgents for money as to be insurgents themselves. And then there are the improvised explosive devices, hidden in rubbish, wreckage, dead goats. I had a close encounter in 2003, when I rode with a convoy of trucks ferrying mail and supplies through the Sunni Triangle to U.S. Army bases. An ied detonated a second too early, exploding just in front of us rather than beneath us. We drove through the cloud of shrapnel, dust, and smoke before I had a chance to get scared. This time, though, I have a long trip south to consider all the possible dangers.

The only way to avoid being seized by one of the many militias that terrorize Iraq is to travel with your own militia, and so the documentary film director I am working for has paid $7,000 to a private security company to take us to Baghdad. Our convoy of four armored Ford F-350 pickup trucks, each containing four or five men apiece, is commanded by two American security contractors whose call signs are Steeler and Pirate (for security reasons, several contractors in this piece asked that I not identify them or their companies). Steeler is a taut guy from Pennsylvania; a former Army Ranger, he served in Iraq with the National Guard and then returned for a salary several times higher. He will take the lead vehicle, eyeing the road for potential threats, a task suited to his taciturn nature. Pirate is the convoy commander. A burly, bearded former Green Beret, he has worked as a private security contractor in Haiti and Africa. I ride in his truck, its window bearing evidence of a recent attack near western Baghdad’s Spaghetti Junction, where heavy-caliber machine-gun fire spiderwebbed the bulletproof glass. On the bed at the back of each truck, reinforced “up-armored” housings hold rear gunners and their belt-fed Russian machine guns. Our gunners are all Kurds. The insurgents are mostly Arabs, and the company Pirate and Steeler work for believes Kurds are less likely to be infiltrated, plus Kurds have a long tradition of guerrilla fighting against heavy odds.


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.