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Conflict with Iraq


Battle Lines
Tom Brown
Tom Brown
Battle Lines is an ongoing Web log (blog) dedicated to providing a broad perspective on the latest news and developments from the war in Iraq. Response and suggestions are welcomed.

Tom Brown has been an editor, reporter and software analyst for The Seattle Times for 20 years.

April 08, 2003

The U.S. resumes its search for the only U.S. POW missing from the Gulf War

That would be Scott Speicher, whose F/A-18 was shot down on the first night of the 1991 war, apparently by a MiG-25. As reported here on March 21, he intially was reported as killed in action. Over the years as clues accumulated that he might still be alive, his status was changed to missing/captured.

A CIA/Defense Intelligence Agency team is preparing to enter Iraq to try to determine what happened to him.

British intelligence says Saddam escaped again

A quick end to the Iraq war is essential for the safety of U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians. Coalition casualties in the war remain low, given the intensity of the fighting, but they’re inching up. And Iraqi civilian deaths are accelerating at a pace that is dangerous to U.S. hopes to secure Iraqi goodwill.

But ending the war quickly may well depend on the capture or provable demise of Saddam Hussein. The U.S. thinks Saddam was, in fact, killed when four tons of bombs from a B-1 slammed into a block containing a restaurant, apartments – and a suspected bunker or other meeting place of the Iraqi president.

British intelligence, however, believes Saddam was lucky again and left just before the bombing.

Civilian casualties rise

Despite U.S. attempts to minimize them, civilian casualties are quickly rising. The Iraqi government says 1,252 civilians have died and another 5,103 have been hurt in 21 days of fighting. The web site Iraq Body Count estimates civilian dead at between 917 and 1,095. In truth, it is unlikely that anyone has a reliable estimate at this point. Urban warfare is raging in Baghdad and continues either fiercely or sporadically in other cities.

One result is growing desperation and outrage in the Arab world. Here’s one example, by Essam Al-Ghalib of Saudi Arabia’s English-language Arab News.

“This is no longer a war against Saddam and his regime, if it ever was,” he writes. “It has become a war against the Iraqi people.”

Al-Ghalib’s account is notable because his dispatches have contained some of the most even-handed reporting in the Arab press.

So, do Iraqis feel liberated?

It depends. Some Iraqis have lost all or most of their families to coalition bombing or gunfire and are angry and disillusioned. Others, whose families have suffered at the hands of the Saddam regime, have greeted Coalition troops warmly. Still others have deeply ambiguous feelings. They’re glad Saddam is gone, but don’t trust the U.S. and Britain and decry the near anarchy in some cities.

Among those who certainly feel liberated are about 150 children who were released from an Iraqi prison as U.S. Marines moved into northeast Baghdad. Some had been there as long as five years. Their crime? Failing to join the youth wing of Saddam’s ruling Ba’ath Party.

Postwar relief plans are in disarray

Conditions in Iraqi cities are becoming more desperate daily. There are shortages of water, food and electricity. Hospitals are crammed with victims of the fighting and are running out of supplies. Furthermore, there's still no organized plan for postwar relief.

11 journalists killed in 21 days of fighting

Wars are always dangerous for reporters and photographers, and this one has proved no exception. Three more newsmen were killed by American forces in Baghdad.

A flicker of light in the North Korea tunnel

UN Security Council members were, not surprisingly, unable to agree on a statement condemning North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Nonetheless, there are bits of encouraging news about the five-month standoff between Pyongyang and Washington.

It appears that China finally is beginning to lean on Kim Jong-Il’s Stalinist regime, having assessed the consequences of possible conflict between the U.S. and North Korea. There also have been private contacts between the U.S. and the Pyongyang government.

The U.S. and North Korea also seem to have come to an understanding not to deliberately antagonize one another further, at least now.

 
Posted by tbrown at April 8, 2003 10:00 PM

Tom Brown Katherine Long, research editor at the Seattle Times and 18-year editor and reporter, substituted for Tom Brown the week of April 14.

 ARCHIVES
April 2003
March 2003

 RECENT ENTRIES
Signing off
The Saddam Files
Demonstrations in Karbala
Building a government from scratch
Smoking gun?
The irony of freedom
Dispatches
Where are the weapons?
Cultural advisors quit over antiquities issue
Baghdad reality check

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