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Thursday, December 18, 2003

Iraq updates

Two recent stories about Iraq caught my eye.

First, Florida Senator Bill Nelson told Florida Today that the Bush administration had warned that Iraq could attack the east coast of the US with WMD:
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Monday the Bush administration last year told him and other senators that Iraq not only had weapons of mass destruction, but they had the means to deliver them to East Coast cities.

Nelson, D-Tallahassee, said about 75 senators got that news during a classified briefing before last October's congressional vote authorizing the use of force to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Nelson voted in favor of using military force.

Nelson said the senators were told Iraq had both biological and chemical weapons, notably anthrax, and it could deliver them to cities along the Eastern seaboard via unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones.

"They have not found anything that resembles an UAV that has that capability," Nelson said.
Gee, the administration pushed some intelligence that turned out to be iffy. Huh.

The second story comes from the Philadelphia Inquirer, which reported about a top-secret US military report that "predicted that guerrilla attacks would increase" after Saddam Hussein's arrest.
The theory is that the Sunnis think it is better to force Americans out now, while there is still a chance of restoring Sunni political power. The Sunnis, including Hussein, have dominated Iraq's political system for most of the last century. They do not want to wait for elections, caucuses, a constitution that would hand power to the majority Shiites, or the creation of an anti-Sunni coalition of Shiites and Kurds.

The influence of radical Islamists in the resistance is also likely to grow with Hussein gone. In the coming months, possible confusion caused by the large rotation of U.S. troops and activities aimed at preparing for the transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis on July 1 also could encourage an increase in attacks.
Whether this proves true or not, the US military doesn't expect a lot of quick benefits from the arrest:
The top U.S. military official in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, yesterday conceded that Hussein's capture had had little effect on the pace of attacks on American troops. He said U.S. troops had clashed with insurgents about 18 times in the last 24 hours. That was the same as the average for the last two weeks, although drastically lower than the 40 attacks a day a month ago.

"We expect it'll be some time before we see any possible effects of what we've accomplished," Sanchez said. "As I've stated over and over, we expect the violence to continue at some level for some time. We're prepared for that."
As I've said, continue to expect a "long, hard slog."

P.S. Thanks to various readers who have been sending me interesting stories (Strom's "new" daughter, Israel's pursuit of EU membership, etc.).

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