[Marxism] In Baghdad, imperialist officials don't get around much anymore

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sun Dec 5 21:41:05 MST 2004


This isn't a report from some maverick left winger, but from the [very
pro-occupation] Defence Minister of Australia, who found he was unable
to visit the Australian Embassy. 
 
Peace, David McReynolds NYC 
 
Baghdad Worse Than Ever, Says Hill 
by Patrick Walters Herald Sun 
 
http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5478,11597627%5E401
,00. html December 6, 2004 
 

Robert Hill has learnt first-hand the new perils involved in visiting
strife-torn Baghdad. 
 
Such has been the escalation of violence in the run-up to the January 
30 elections that for the first time in four visits, the Defence
Minister could not make it to the centre of the Iraqi capital last
Friday. 
 
So dangerous has the main highway to and from the airport become, with
daily suicide bomb attacks, he did not visit the Australian embassy or
the Green Zone that comprises the headquarters of the US-led coalition
forces in Iraq. 
 
"This is the first time I've been unable to do that. It's very dangerous
- a number of countries are no longer travelling along it," Senator Hill
told The Australian yesterday. 
 
"I would have (travelled into central Baghdad) if we'd had a helicopter,
but they were being used for more important tasks." 
 
Senator Hill's visit coincided with a surge of violence in Iraq that
killed more than 60 people over the weekend and led senior UN official
Lakhdar Brahimi to warn that holding elections would be "impossible" in
the current security environment. 
 
Senator Hill acknowledged Iraq's central area, including Baghdad, was
going through a "very difficult phase". 
 
"I would say it's more violent than on any of my previous visits," he
said. 
 
"It's a more dangerous place than it's been since the downfall of
Saddam's regime. The insurgency is really quite intensive and
extensive." 
 
Instead of making the hazardous run into the city, Senator Hill
travelled in an armoured convoy to the US-run Camp Victory, a short
distance from Baghdad airport. 
 
In a day-long visit, he discussed security in Iraq and
counter-insurgency operations with General George Casey, the overall
commander of the US-led multinational forces in Iraq, and the deputy
chief of staff for strategic operations, Major General Jim Molan. 
 
The two officers canvassed possible future roles for Australia's
military in training Iraq's security forces in the areas of logistics
support and senior officer training. A 50-strong Australian army
advisory team will complete its training of three Iraqi battalions early
in the new year. 
 
Accompanied by Australia's special forces commander, Major General Mike
Hindmarsh, Senator Hill also met Australian ambassador Howard Brown and
Air Commodore Greg Evans, the new commander of Australian forces in the
Middle East. 
 
Senator Hill said General Casey had told him the taking of Fallujah was
a critical step in overcoming the largely Sunni-backed insurgency. 
 
But with insurgents lacking a centralised command structure, military
operations would continue with a key goal being to support the
counter-insurgency capabilities of the Iraqis themselves. 
 
"There is a view among the Sunnis and those who were part of Saddam's
regime that not only have they lost, but they will continue to lose
through the building of a new democratic system," Senator Hill said.
"They are are fighting back, and they see the January 30 national
elections as a critical event." 
 
He said one of the biggest changes of recent months was the extent of
intimidation against those who supported Iraq's democratisation process,
and against their families. 
 
But there was determination the elections would go ahead, with the key
issue still the participation of the major Sunni political parties. 
 
"There's no doubt the majority of Iraqis want the elections, but there's
still going to be major challenges in relations to the Sunni triangle,"
he said. "There is a greater risk in the insurgents being seen to be
winning a deferral. You run the risk of further undermining the
confidence of the majority of Iraqis." 
 
At a weekend conference in Bahrain, Senator Hill met US President George
W. Bush's new national security adviser Stephen Hadley and his Iraqi
counterpart Qassim Daud. 
 
*** 
 
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