The Trial of Saddam Hussein and The Fallout of The War

The Trial of Saddam Hussein


The fallout in the Middle East from the regime change in Iraq

Friday, December 19, 2008

British Troops To Finally Come Home

Gordon Brown has stated that most of the 4,100 British troops would leave Iraq by the end of July 2009. However, he has ruled at an enquiry into this most misguided of wars.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Abu Ghraib To Reopen

Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq is to reopen as a prison in a year, and a facility will be constructed within the prison to act as a museum documenting Saddam Hussein's crimes.

Abu Ghraib has not held prisoners since 2006. A section of the site will be converted into a museum, featuring execution chamber exhibits and other displays of torture tools used by Saddam's regime.

However, there will be no documentation of the abuse carried out there by US military personnel that was revealed in 2004.

Iraq's deputy justice minister, Busho Ibrahim, is quoted by The Associated Press as saying that the American brutality was "nothing" compared with the violence and atrocities of Saddam and the Baath party.

"There is evidence of the crimes (Saddam committed) such as the hooks used to dangle prisoners, tools used to beat and torture prisoners and ... the execution chambers in which 50 or 100 people were killed at once."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sanctions Breached

Mabey & Johnson, a British bridge construction company, has admitted that it may have made corrupt payments to Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq to win an export order.

Mabey & Johnson have been under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office for more than a year.

In its recent annual results Mabey said that in April this year, it "disclosed to the SFO evidence that had come to light suggesting that in 2002 the company may have indirectly made two payments to the Iraqi regime in breach of UN sanctions".

Mabey added that it "has recently been notified of allegations that certain historical contracts may have been procured through corrupt acts".

The company has called in a firm of City lawyers, Herbert Smith, to carry out its own inquiry into all the corruption allegations. New managers have been installed at the firm.

The UN report in sanctions busting alleges that Mabey paid a $202K kickback between 2001 and 2003, and was given a $3.6M contract by the Iraqis.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Way of The World

The veracity of the justification by the Whitehouse for going to war in Iraq has taken another knock.

The journalist Ron Suskind has published a book "The Way of The World" in which he claims that the White House ordered the CIA to forge and backdate a handwritten letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam Hussein, to link the Iraq regime to Al Qaeda.

"The White House had concocted a fake letter from Habbush to Saddam, backdated to July 1, 2001. It said that 9/11 ringleader Mohammad Atta had actually trained for his mission in Iraq –- thus showing, finally, that there was an operational link between Saddam and al Qaeda, something the vice president's office had been pressing CIA to prove since 9/11 as a justification to invade Iraq.

There is no link

The Whitehouse has stated that the claim is nonsense.

Whatever the truth or otherwise of the allegations, no matter what evidence is presented, there will be those who believe them and those who don't.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The House of Saddam

BBC2 at 9:00PM this Wednesday begins broadcasting the House of Saddam, a four part dramatisation of Saddam's time in power.

The series starts in 1979, when Saddam seized the presidency, and ends in 2006 with his execution.

Israeli actor Igal Naor plays Saddam.

Naor said he was asked for blessings by ordinary Arabs, as he filmed House of Saddam in Tunisia.

"We were shooting a few walkabouts that Saddam used to do in the streets of Baghdad.

It involved hundreds of extras and a lot of ordinary Tunisians. Every time I got out of my trailer people were coming to me as if they had never heard of Saddam's death.

They acted as if I was Saddam himself, calling me by his name, asking for my blessing, and wishing me victory in the war.

I checked with the production whether someone asked them to do this. The answer was no

Nowt so queer as folk!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Knit A Saddam Doll

Those of you with a penchant for knitting may, or probably may not, be interested to know that there is a knitting pattern available for a Saddam doll.

Rachael Matthews has written a book which contains designs for a number of dictators, including; Saddam Hussein, Pol Pot, Hitler and Idi Amin.

Why would anyone want to knit a dictator?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Banquo's Ghost

Izzat al Douri, a key former member of Saddam's regime who is still on the run, has allegedly released an audio message telling President Bush that this would be a "decisive year" and vowing to continue fighting American forces.

This message, if genuine, is regarded more as an election tactic (an election date has yet to be set in Iraq, but is likely to be called) rather than a direct threat to President Bush.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Watchlist

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has stated that the US has produced a watch list of suspected and known terrorists, containing the names of more than one million people. According to the ACLU the list is growing by an average of over 20,000 records per month.

Among those on the watchlist are rather bizarrely Saddam Hussein who was actually hanged in 2005, decorated war veterans, and US senator Ted Kennedy.

The Transportation Security Administration has flatly denied the one million names figure; they say it contains a "mere" 450,000 people.

So that's alright then!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Saddam's Son's Cars Found

Police in Iraq have discovered five cars that were once owned by Odai, one of the sons of Saddam Hussein.

The cars, two Rolls Royces and several vintage classics, were stolen from Odai Hussein's palace after the US invasion in 2003. They were then buried in an orchard in Baghdad's Dora neighborhood.

The thieves planned to smuggle the cars out of the country, and sell them. However, police learned of the plan and arrested three people.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

$10BN Lawsuit

The Iraqi government has served a number of foreign companies with a $10BN civil lawsuit. The companies, including Daimler, Siemens and B. Braun are accused of colluding with Saddam Hussein.

The lawsuit describes the kick backs etc involved in the United Nation's food-for-oil program in Iraq as "the largest financial fraud in human history."

The lawsuit has been filed in the US federal court in New York, and alleges that 2,200 companies from 66 countries paid a total of $1.8BN in kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's regime in exchange for supply deals.


"Its impact on the people of Iraq when far beyond financial loss.

The corruption of the OFFP (oil-for-food program) affected the very lives and health of the Iraqi people

Daimler allegedly sold Mercedes trucks and spare parts to the Iraqi government. The A UN-sponsored report by Paul Volcker claims that an area manager at Daimler agreed in 2001 to pay a 10% kickback on a deal to sell an armoured van to Iraq, at an inflated price.

Daimler maintained at the time that it did not knowingly pay kickbacks.

Siemens has been accused of paying a six-figure sum as a bribe to the regime, to secure energy and medical-equipment contracts.

Chickens are coming home to roost!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Yellowcake Goes To Canada

550 metric tonnes of yellowcake (concentrated natural uranium), the last vestige of Saddam Hussein's nuclear program, arrived in Canada on Saturday.

The shipment removed the risk of it being used by insurgents and smugglers crossing to Iran.

Yellowcake can be enriched for use in reactors and, at higher levels, nuclear weapons using sophisticated equipment.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Police Seize Boris's Cigar case

The British police have confirmed that they are examining an Iraqi cigar case belonging to London mayor Boris Johnson, in order to determine whether it is a looted Iraqi artifact. Johnson handed over the case on Monday.

Johnson took the case in 2003 from the bombed-out home of former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz.

Johnson was then working as a journalist, and had been taken to Aziz's ransacked villa. He is quoted in The Daily Telegraph:

"And there, just by my toe, protruding from beneath a piece of dusty plywood, was the cigar case.....the circumstances in which I came by this object were so morally ambiguous that I cannot quite think of it as theft."

He added, rather ruefully:

"Well, I suppose we should be grateful for one thing, it seems that a Western politician is finally going to pay the price for his involvement in the Iraq war."

Much a do about nothing!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Lara Logan Slams Iraq Coverage

Lara Logan of CBS puts the boot into the lamentable US media coverage of the Iraq occupation.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bush Regrets Rhetoric, Not The War

As per the Chicago Tribune

Reporter: "Do you actually just regret your war rhetoric, or do you regret having gone to war with Iraq?"

"I don't regret it at all," Bush replied. "Removing Saddam Hussein made the world a safer place."

"The guy said, 'Now what could you do over?' " Bush said of the Times interviewer. "First of all, you don't get to do things over in my line of work. But I could have used better rhetoric to indicate that, one, we tried to exhaust the diplomacy in Iraq; two, that I don't like war."

The president told French television in an interview taped before his arrival in Paris last week: "Sometimes my rhetoric was a little—was misunderstood. I mean, I can remember saying, you know, 'dead or alive,' which sent ... signals that could be easily misinterpreted."

All very well, but in this world it's actions not words that count.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Fifth Trial

The fifth trial by the Iraqi High Tribunal begins July 21, this trial will cover the 1999 assassination of Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr.

Among the defendants are former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz and Ali Hassan al-Majid, aka "Chemical Ali."

Aziz, Majid and six other co-defendants currently face charges in the Iraqi High Tribunal on war crimes for the execution of 42 businessmen in 1992.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bush Aide Blasts Bush and Media

Scott McClellan, the former White House press secretary, is to publish a book next week highly critical of The Whitehouse's Iraq venture.

McClellan resigned from the White House on April 19, 2006, after nearly three years as Bush's press secretary.

In "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception" McClellan says that President Bush failed to be "open and forthright on Iraq" and relied on "propaganda" to sell the war.

McClellan claims that Bush and his aides "confused the propaganda campaign with the high level of candor and honesty so fundamentally needed to build and then sustain public support during a time of war."

McClellan also accuses the media of being "probably too deferential to the White House" when it came to public discourse over the choice to invade Iraq.


"The collapse of the administration's rationales for war, which became apparent months after our invasion, should never have come as such a surprise...

In this case, the 'liberal media' didn't live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Restraint Urged

Judge Rauf Abdel-Rashid, at the trial of the former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, called on all parties involved in the case yesterday to show self-restraint and maintain professional behaviour during the trial.

Judge Rauf Abdel-Rashid urged the legal teams, defendants and plaintiffs to refrain from mutual abuse and show appropriate behaviour in court.

On Sunday, there were sharp exchanges between Aziz and one of the witnesses, Mahir Rashid.

Rashid said his brother, one of the executed traders, had been killed on the instigation of Aziz's son, who was involved in trading in foreign currencies and saw his brother as a threatening competitor.

Aziz dismissed the accusations and insults were traded.

The trial continues.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Aziz Stands Trial

The trial of Saddam's former Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, and his seven co defendants resumed yesterday in Baghdad.

They are on trial for their alleged roles in the execution of 42 merchants in 1992.

Aziz appeared or himself, without legal representation, as his lawyers have not been granted visas.

Aziz told the court that the trial was based on personal revenge:

"Focusing on the membership of the Revolutionary Command Council means revenge. I know it is a personal revenge."

A guilty verdict carries the death penalty.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Aziz Due To Appear

Tariq Aziz, the former Iraqi deputy prime minister, is set to appear before the Iraqi High Tribunal tomorrow without the new legal team that he demanded three weeks ago.

Aziz faces charges linked to the execution of 42 Baghdad merchants in 1992.

He may now have to seek a new court date, or represent himself on Tuesday.

His son, Ziad Aziz, who is based in Amman has told the media that French lawyer Jacques Verges, four Italian lawyers and a French-Lebanese attorney will be unable to attend Tuesday's hearing in Baghdad because they have not received their visas.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Retired judge Arthur Brennan, a former senior US official in Iraq, has accused the State Department of misleading Americans over the true situation in Iraq.

Judge Brennan also alleged that poor performance by the department had led to the loss of billions of dollars, and warned that some of the money could be funding outlaws and insurgents, including the Mehdi Army.

Brennan made his allegations during testimony at a Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearing on Monday.


"The actual policies and performance of the State Department in Iraq were not what they are represented to be.

The Department of State has negligently, recklessly and sometimes intentionally misled the US Congress, the American people and the people of Iraq.

In a sense, the Department of State has contributed to the killing and maiming of US soldiers, the deaths of thousands of Iraqi civilians; the bolstering of illegal militias, insurgents and Al-Qaeda.

Billions of US and Iraqi dollars have been lost, stolen and wasted, it is likely that some of that money is financing outlaws and insurgents such as the Medhi Army.

James Mattil, chief of staff for the Office of Accountability and Transparency in Baghdad between October 2006 and October 2007, accused the Administration of failing to demand meaningful action from the Iraqi government on fighting corruption.

"It seems reasonable to conclude that the reasons are either, gross incompetence, willful negligence or political intent on the part of the Bush administration and more specifically, the Department of State."

Doubtless history will ultimately judge just how badly thought through and executed the decision to invade and occupy Iraq really was.

Unfortunately by the time that happens, many more people will have died a lot more money will have been wasted and those responsible for the decision and execution will have long since retired and/or died.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Cost of The Occupation

Aside from the ongoing loss of civilian and military lives, the continuing occupation of Iraq is also having a devastating impact on the finances of the USA.

According to congressional analysts, the eventual total cost of the Iraq war and the occupation could be as high as $ 1.5 trillion (that's TRILLION not BILLION!).

This cost does not include the cost of rebuilding Iraq's shattered infrastructure.

The occupation phase of the Iraq war is costing the United States $1,538 a second, or $92,333 a minute, or $5,540,000 an hour.

Despite that, McCain (were he to become president) wants to keep troops there for up to 100 years.

How does he intend to pay for this?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Saddam Feared AIDS

Diary extracts published by Al-Hayat indicate that Saddam Hussein feared catching Aids and other STDs, whilst he was in jail.

Seemingly the US guards were using Saddam's washing line to dry clothes, and he demanded that they stop.

Saddam is quoted from his diary:

"I explained to them that they are young and they could have young people's diseases.

My main concern was to not catch a venereal disease, an HIV disease, in this place

Given the circumstances, that should have been the least of his concerns.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Aziz Trial Begins

The trial of Tariq Aziz began in Baghdad Tuesday. The former Iraqi deputy prime minister is charged with executing 42 merchants who were accused of breaking state price controls in 1992.

He has been held in jail for the last 5 years, awaiting trial.

The trial was adjourned until 20th May.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Waste

Aside from the appalling waste of lives that the failed Iraq intervention has caused, there has also been a significant waste of money.

An audit performed by The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), of US funded reconstruction projects, has found that millions of dollars have been wasted because many schemes have never been completed.

SIGIR highlights delays, costs, poor performance and violence for failure to finish some 855 projects.

It also noted that many other projects (in the audit of 47,321 projects) had been falsely described as complete.

The financial cost to the US taxpayers currently exceeds $100BN.

How long will the American people tolerate being ripped off in this manner by their own government, and corrupt construction companies?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Another Trial

The fourth trial of figures from Saddam Hussein's regime will begin next week, when former deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz and six others face charges relating to the execution of 42 merchants in 1992.

Aziz will stand trial with, amongst others, Saddam's half brother Watban Ibrahim al-Hassan and former Central Bank chief Issam Mula Hawish.

The trial is scheduled to start Tuesday, and deals with the execution of 42 merchants accused by Saddam's government of being behind a sharp increase in food prices when the country was under sanctions.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


The Iraqi government has won a ruling to recover money from Saddam Hussein's Swiss bank account.

Switzerland's Federal Supreme Court has ordered the freezing of US$300M, which was deposited into a Swiss bank account by Khalaf al-Dlimi, Saddam's personal lawyer.

Switzerland will transfer the frozen money, which is legally the property of Iraq, to the Development Fund of Iraq by June 13th.

Dlimi has the right to file an objection to the court ruling with the sanctions commission of the UN Security Council.

Let us hope that the money is used wisely by the government.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Chemical Ali Hospitalised

Ali Hassan al-Majid, aka Chemical Ali, has been admitted to hospital after a three day hunger strike.

Majid is on death row, having been sentenced to death for genocide last June.

His execution, along with those of former defence minister Sultan Hashim al-Tai and former armed forces deputy chief of operations Hussein Rashid al-Tikritis, has been delayed by legal wranglings.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

US Knew of Kuwait Attack

Ranjit Singh Kalha, former ambassador to Iraq, states in his book "The Ultimate Prize: Oil and Saddam's Iraq" that the US had prior knowledge about Saddam Hussein's attack on Kuwait in 1990.

Kalha quotes the US envoy in Baghdad, April Glaspie, as telling Saddam on July 25, 1990:

"We have no opinion on Arab-Arab conflict, like your border disagreement with Kuwait."

Iraq invaded Kuwait on August 2nd 1990.

The US envoy also told Saddam:

"We hope you can solve this problem using any suitable methods... All that we hope is that these issues are solved quickly."

Kalha states that on July 27, 1990, the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US was called to the Pentagon and told, "Iraq is going to invade Kuwait."

The day before the Iraqi attack on Kuwait began, Kuwaiti defence minister Sheikh Salem al-Sabah received a text from the US:

"We do not want to alarm you unnecessarily, but we think the contingency plan should be put into effect... under no circumstances should the Emir be allowed to spend the night in Kuwait city. He should cross into Saudi Arabia and go to Khafji, 20 kilometers south of the border."

The US government decided to punish Saddam because he had gone beyond the agreed script, and taken over all of Kuwait instead of a few islands and its main oilfield.

The seeds of the current conflict were sown in the conflict of 1990, which was brought about because of US ineptitude.

Given the above, does anyone really believe that the US has the capability (diplomatically and politically) to resolve the current troubles in Iraq?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Bush Passes The Baton

Having declared "Mission Accomplished", less that five years ago in Iraq, President Bush is now seeking to pass the baton for this costly never-ending war to the next president of the United States.

Bush said that if the United States is defeated in Iraq then "the Taliban in Afghanistan and al-Qaeda in Pakistan would grow in confidence and boldness. And violent extremists around the world would draw the same dangerous lesson they did from our retreats in Somalia and Vietnam."

Notwithstanding his partisan view of history, the US was right to leave Vietnam. Regrettably for the troops fighting in Iraq they will be there for many years to come.

Senator Edward Kennedy said:

"It's abundantly clear that President Bush is simply trying to run out the clock and hand off the mess to the next president."

Mission Not Accomplished!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Happy Anniversary?

Iraq greeted the fifth anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein with violence and Baghdad under curfew.

Fighting broke out after midnight in Sadr City, the eastern Baghdad stronghold of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, killing six people and wounding at least 15.

US general David Petraeus stated, during testimony to the US Congress yesterday, that further troop withdrawals should be held back for at least 45 days after completing the pullout of the "surge" forces by July.

US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker warned that the "achievements" of the surge were "reversible."

Like it or not, the US will have to pull out at some stage and allow Iraq to find its own path to the future.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Sculpture Destroyed

The sculpture named after Saddam Hussein's first wife (Sajida Talfah), that was unveiled in Napoleon Garden, Holland Park, west London in February has been burned down.

Kensington and Chelsea Council paid £2,000 for the installation.

Friday, March 28, 2008


Nouri al-Maliki's, Iraq's Prime Minister, attempt to crush militia strongholds in Basra is failing; members of his own security forces defected and districts of Baghdad fell to Shia militia gunmen.

The Times notes that:

"In Baghdad, thousands of people marched in demonstrations in Shia areas demanding an end to the Basra operation, burning effigies of Mr al-Maliki, whom they branded a new dictator, and carrying coffins with his image on it."

There is now a the very real danger of civil war in the South.

Bush supports al-Maliki's tactics, referring to them as "bold".

Being bold is all very well, but competence is also required.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Anniversary

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.

Bush claims that it has been a success, and was the right thing to do.

Do the Iraqi people agree?

Were they ever asked?

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Bleak Future

As the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq approaches people are reflecting on the state of the country post Saddam.

Lufti Saber, once a key lieutenant of the first post-Saddam Iraqi prime minister, Ayad Allawi, is quoted in the Telegraph as saying that Iraq would have been better off if Saddam had been left in charge.

"None of these people trust each other.

Everything comes down to that. The whole system is set up to ensure that nobody does anything that somebody else thinks is wrong.

Saddam had a way of rising above that. As soon as he made a decision, it happened. People knew it had to be done. It didn't matter where they were in the country, they knew the floor at work had to be cleaned, just in case Saddam turned up. Now the country is engulfed in chaos and nobody does anything because they all refuse to take responsibility

He added:

"I never thought I would say it given that he sentenced me to death.

But I find myself wishing Saddam was still here. Only he had the knack of running this god-forsaken country

In five years time Iraq, if it is still in one piece, will still be a disaster area; no matter who becomes president of the USA.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pentagon Tries To Bury Report

Unsurprisingly the Pentagon tried to bury the report, released yesterday, that stated that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida (this of course had been the central plank of Bush's rationale for the invasion of Iraq).

The Pentagon cancelled a planned briefing about the report, and scrapped plans to post its findings on the internet. Unclassified copies of the report would be sent to interested individuals in the mail, military officials told ABC.

Another Pentagon official told ABC that initial press reports on the study made it "too politically sensitive".

Despite the Pentagon's attempts to bury the report, the media are awash with stories about it.

Mission Accomplished!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

No Link To al-Qaida

A detailed review by the the Institute for Defense Analyses (sponsored by the Pentagon) of over 600,000 Iraqi documents, captured after the 2003 US invasion, has found no evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime had any operational links with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network.

The review, "Saddam and Terrorism: Emerging Insights from Captured Iraqi Documents", is not due to be published officially to Congress until tomorrow.

The Defence Secretary (Donald Rumsfeld) claimed in September 2002 that the United States had "bulletproof" evidence of cooperation between the al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein.

Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed that there were many links between Saddam and al-Qaida in a February 2003 speech to the United Nations Security Council designed to rally support for the invasion.

Seemingly all of these statements made by Rumsfeld and Powell were based on false/misinterpreted intelligence.

The review was completed last year. However, it has been sat on since then as people have been reluctant to declassify it.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Saddam's Spies

Documents seized from Iraq's intelligence ministry, and other government buildings in Iraq, have revealed a large scale spying operation carried out by Saddam Hussein on American soil.

At least a dozen spy cases are being brought by the Justice Department, a number not seen since the the Cold War.

The operation included "sleeper" agents who were told to blend in to American society until they received orders from the intelligence ministry in Baghdad.

Saddam's agents were not spying on the US, in the "traditional" James Bond sense, but on opposition groups; additionally the agents were used to try to influence US policy.

Saturday, March 01, 2008


President Bush strongly urged Turkey to withdraw its forces from northern Iraq and end an offensive against Kurdish rebels there "as quickly as possible."

He said he agreed with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, "who said the incursion should be limited and should be temporary in nature."

"The Turks need to move quickly, achieve their objective and then get out ... as quickly as possible," said Bush.

Source AFP

Does Bush not see the irony of his advice?

Maybe this will help:

Friday, February 29, 2008

Chemical Ali To Be Executed

The protracted wait for confirmation of the death sentence on Chemical Ali is now over, Iraq has approved the execution of Ali Hassan al-Majid for ordering gas attacks on Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s.

An Iraqi official issued the following statement:

"The presidency has approved Chemical Ali's execution."

Under Iraqi law, Ali should have been executed by October 4, 30 days after his sentence was upheld by the Iraq Supreme Court.

No date has been set for the execution.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Mystery of The Disappearing Cigar Case

In a plot totally unlike the complexity or interest of an Agatha Christie plot, Boris Johnson (candidate for London's mayor) has found himself under police investigation for "stealing" the red cigar case of Tariq Aziz in May 2003.

Scotland Yard wrote to Mr Johnson demanding that return the red leather case, which he took from the bombed out home of Tariq Aziz in May 2003 (Aziz had surrendered to the US military days earlier).

Read the letter here.

Mr Johnson has now agreed to give back the case. However, he was somewhat surprised to find himself the subject of an investigation; given that he has never attempted to conceal the fact that he took the case. Indeed, he even wrote about it in The Daily Telegraph in 2003.

Mr Johnson's campaign team suspects dirty tricks by his opponents in May's mayoral election.

Scotland Yard now admit, privately, that they have handled the whole affair very badly.

A senior source is quoted in The Telegraph as saying:

"It is fair to say that the issue should have been handled differently. It should have been referred higher up. More senior officers should have been involved. It has not come out the way we would have wanted it to."

A complete waste of time and money!

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Cost of The War

In case anyone is wondering what the cost of the Iraq war has been to the USA, aside from the lives lost, they can read about it in The Times.

The current estimate gives a cost of around $3 Trillion.

This bill will be hanging around the taxpayers' necks for decades.

Mission accomplished!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Secrets Begat Secrets and Lies

It seems that the release earlier this week of the first draft of the "dodgy dossier", which was used by Blair to take Britain to war in Iraq, was not quite as full and frank as some may have believed.

The Guardian reports that the Foreign Office successfully fought to keep secret any mention of Israel in the release this week. The Foreign Office succeeded before a tribunal in having a handwritten mention of Israel kept secret.

What was on that handwritten note?

A reference to Israel's nuclear arsenal, and an inference that Israel had flouted the United Nations' authority in a manner similar to that of the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein.

Unfortunately for the Foreign Office, their meddling has been made public and their attempt to suppress the note has failed.

The question now arises as to what else is being withheld from the British public?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ownership of Yacht Disputed

The ownership of the 269-foot Ocean Breeze, built for Saddam Hussein and docked on the French Riviera, which is up for sale is currently under dispute.

Iraq claims that it belongs to a member of Saddam's entourage, as such it is now the property of the government of Iraq.

A court hearing will be held in March to determine ownership.

The Ocean Breeze was made for a 35-member crew and has 10 rooms, several salons with large-screen TVs, pools, saunas, gold plumbing fixtures, a prayer room and a portable helicopter pad.

It also has special fittings eg; bulletproof windows, a missile-launching system and a secret passage leading to a mini-submarine.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Dodgy Dossier - First Draft

After many years of ministerial obfuscation and evasion, the British people have been finally allowed to read the text of the first draft of the so called "dodgy dossier" that took them war in Iraq on a false premise - namely that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD.

The first draft made a series of claims about the extent and danger of the Iraqi president's weapons arsenal. However, by the time the final version (the basis for war) was released in September 2002, those had been "sexed up".

In other words, in order to justify the war, Blair and his acolytes adjusted the facts.

The first draft was written by John Williams, the former director of communications at the Foreign Office (ie a spin doctor, not a security expert). He warned that Saddam had come to power by "torture, rape and execution" and concluded that Iraq presented a "uniquely dangerous threat to the world".

There was no mention of Saddam's capability (now disproved) of launching WMD in 45 minutes.

The final dossier, allegedly written by John Scarlett, who was then the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, stated:

"Iraq's military forces are able to use chemical and biological weapons, with command, control and logistical arrangements in place. The Iraqi military are able to deploy these weapons within 45 minutes of a decision to do so."

Last night, Mr Williams told BBC Radio 4's PM programme:

"The 45-minutes claim was absolutely nothing whatever to do with me. It was news to me."

Opposition parties have renewed their calls for a public inquiry into the build-up to the war.

I doubt that Tony Blair cares much one way or another, given that in a supreme twist of sick irony he is now the so called Middle East peace envoy.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Graham Hudson, a contemporary British sculpture, is feeling somewhat humiliated after a piece of his work that is meant to depict Saddam Hussein's wife (Sajida Talfah) has been mistaken for rubbish.

Hudson managed to convince the local council to pay £2K for a collage of oil drum, cable wheels, cardboard boxes, paint and adhesive tape and to erect it in Holland Park.

Passers by are of the opinion that it is a pile of rubbish.

Money and time well spent!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Flying The Flag

A new Iraqi flag, sans the three green stars of Saddam Hussein's Baath party, was hoisted over the Iraqi Cabinet building yesterday.

However, don't become too attached to it, it has only a one year life span, before it is altered again.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Prince Rebukes US

Prince Andrew, The Duke of York, waded into the Iraq fiasco in an interview with the International Herald Tribune. He criticised the US administration for failing to listen to advice from Britain on how to avoid problems following the war in Iraq.

He said that the war had led to a "healthy scepticism" in Britain towards what was said in Washington, noting that the US should have learned lessons from British colonial history.

Doubtless that will go down like a lead balloon in Washington!


"..occasions when people in the UK would wish that those in responsible positions in the US might listen and learn from our experiences.

If you are looking at colonialism, if you are looking at operations on an international scale, if you are looking at understanding each other's culture, understanding how to operate in a military insurgency campaign - we have been through them all.

We've won some, lost some, drawn some. The fact is there is quite a lot of experience over here which is valid and should be listened to

American government officials refused to comment. An insider wisely told the Telegraph that it was not an area they would "want to touch with a bargepole".

The Prince is of course correct.

However, he is assuming that we really pushed our case hard at the time with Washington. After all, we only have Bliar's word for it that we made serious overtures about the post invasion strategy.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Re Baathification

Iraq's presidency council issued a law yesterday that will allow thousands of Saddam Hussein-era officials to return to government jobs.

The new law was passed by parliament on January 12. However, it was issued without the signature of the Sunni vice president, and the presidency council cited reservations and plans to seek changes in the bill.

The question is will the former officials feel safe enough to return to their old jobs?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tactical Error

It seems that Saddam Hussein allowed the world to believe the US claims that he had WMD, in order to deter Iran from launching an attack.

This at least is the view of George Piro, the FBI agent who interviewed Saddam after his 2003 capture.

Piro also claims that Saddam was surprised by the US invasion.

Piro is quoted in CBS 60 Minutes as saying:

"He told me he initially miscalculated ... President Bush's intentions. He thought the United States would retaliate with the same type of attack as we did in 1998 ... a four-day aerial attack.

He survived that one and he was willing to accept that type of attack

Now the Iraqi people have to deal with the consequences of the errors of Saddam and the US.

Monday, January 28, 2008

War in Three Months

As Bush and his colleagues try to console themselves that the so called "surge" has worked, and has achieved a measurable reduction in violence in Iraq, they may care to reflect on an interview given to The Independent by Abu Marouf the Sunni commander of 13,000 fighters who formerly fought the Americans.

Abu Marouf is threatening to withdraw his support, and allow al-Qa'ida to return, if his fighters are not incorporated into the Iraqi army and police.


"If there is no change in three months there will be war again."

Bush needs to wake up to the fact that the violence in Iraq has fallen, not because of the surge, but because the United States has handed power to the guerrillas who previously fought it.

Mission accomplished!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Flag Dispute II

Iraqi lawmakers have managed to temporarily resolve one of the least pressing problems facing their country, that of the nation's flag.

Yesterday they approved a new flag, thus appeasing the country's northern Kurds, who had refused to fly the national banner because of its connection to Saddam Hussein.

Unfortunately this is but a temporary solution, the flag will last for one year, until a more permanent design is selected. The temporary flag will no longer bear the three green stars representing the "unity, freedom, socialism" motto of Hussein's Baath Party. The former leader's handwritten "Allahu akbar" (God is great) will be replaced with an old-style Arabic font.

The question is, will there be united Iraq over which to fly a flag in ones year's time?

It is also likely that the change of flag will merely stir up trouble, drawing attention to Iraq's internal divisions, and not least wasting time on a matter of little practical importance whilst other more pressing matters need to be addressed with urgency.

Nero fiddling whilst Rome burns, is an analogy that readily springs to mind.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Flag Dispute

As if the Iraqi people do not have enough problems, it seems that there is now a dispute brewing over the country's flag.

Leaders of Iraq's Kurdish minority want the flag changed, and are threatening not to fly the Saddam Hussein-era banner during a pan-Arab meeting in the Kurdish-run north next month.

The parliament in Baghdad is trying to find a solution in time for the conference.

Haidar al-Abadi, a legislator with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Dawa party, said:

"It's a potentially explosive issue and we need to tread carefully".

The Kurds maintain that the colours of the national flag are not representative of all Iraqis and are demanding that the color yellow, which dominates their own flag, to be added.

Mahmoud Othman, a prominent Kurdish lawmaker, said:

"It is not possible to raise the flag in its present form, even for the meeting of the Arab parliamentarians.

The Kurds have been persecuted and killed under that banner. It must be changed

Iraq has far more important issues to address at this time, than that of the flag.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Past Crimes and Misdemeanours

The US House of Representatives has passed a defence bill that exempts Iraq from lawsuits dating back to the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Bush and Iraq had objected to an earlier version, that included Iraq in a provision enhancing the ability of US citizens to sue state sponsors of terrorism for damages in US courts.

The new bill waives that provision for Iraq.

The Bush administration had received complaints from Baghdad that said that the original bill would have reopened lawsuits filed against Iraq under Saddam.

The new Iraqi government complained that such lawsuits could tie up $25BN.

Quite how a terrorist supporting country could be prosecuted, and brought to book in a US court is unclear to me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

UN Contradicts US

Despite US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice claiming that the new law to allow Baathists back in from the political cold was sign of reconciliation, the UN countered her claim.

Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations' Baghdad envoy, said that Iraq lacks any true spirit of reconciliation despite parliament's decision to let former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party return to government jobs.

He said that there was still no trust between the Shi'ite-dominated cabinet and Sunni muslims, and warned that Iraq was running out of time.

"We do not feel a real spirit of reconciliation developing even if the government has accepted the law on reintegration of former Baathists.

The little intercommunity game continues but Iraq has no more time

Time is running out for Iraq and for Bush.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

No Plan No Peace

BBC 4 re ran the BBC 1 documentary "No Plan No Peace" last night, which described the criminal lack of planning that went into the post invasion occupation of Iraq by the US and UK.

In short, there was no plan!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Baathists Back

Saddam Hussein's old chums in Baathist party have been brought back in from the political wilderness. The Iraqi Parliament has passed a bill to allow some former officials from the party to apply for government positions.

This measure, if approved by the presidential council, will allow thousands of low-level Baath Party members barred from office after the 2003 US invasion to be reinstated. The Bush Administration had urged the Iraqi Government to pass such a measure. This is rather ironic, as it was the Bush administration that barred the Baath party officials from holding office in the first place; thus pushing Iraq further to the brink of collapse.

President Bush, who is currently in the Middle East trying to resolve all issues (the Palestinian question, confronting Iran and democratising Pakistan) before he leaves office, said that the vote was "an important step toward reconciliation".

The world shall watch his "progress" with interest.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Revised Death Count

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that over 150,000 civilians have been killed since the United States and Britain invaded Iraq almost five years ago.

The WHO says the figure is an estimate based on interviews with families, they caution that the actual number of civilian deaths could be as high as 223,000.

Violence is now the leading cause of death among adult male Iraqis.

A previous study by Johns Hopkins University stated that 600,000 Iraqi civilians may have been killed in violent incidents between the start of the US/British invasion and July 2006.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

US Diplomats Critical of US Policy

Nearly half of US diplomats, who do not want to serve in Iraq, say a key reason is because they do not support the Bush administration's policies there.

That is according to a survey carried out by the American Foreign Service Association, which represents the rank-and-file diplomatic corps, not political appointees.

The survey asked those who were not willing to go to Iraq why not, and those who were willing to go why.

State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, said that people who signed up as foreign service officers were expected to support the policies of the US government.

"And if people have a problem with that, they know what they can do."

Fair comment!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Bribes Investigation

Executives from GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly may be interviewed by Britain's Serious Fraud Office as part of its investigation into allegations that British companies paid bribes to Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq.

The inquiry comes in the wake of the 2005 UN report by Paul Volcker, who listed more than 2000 companies worldwide that could have been involved with bribes paid to the former Iraqi regime to secure contracts under the UN program.

The report has found evidence suggesting AstraZeneca had paid $162K in kickbacks to secure $2.9M of contracts. GSK was accused of paying $1M for business worth $11.9M.

The investigation could take years, and is expected to cost £22M.