Allies not telling truth - things are going wrong
by Robert Fisk Wednesday March 26, 2003

So far, the Anglo-American armies are handing their propaganda to the Iraqis on a plate.

First, on Sunday, we were told - courtesy of the BBC - that Umm Qasr, the tiny Iraqi seaport on the Gulf, had "fallen". Why cities have to "fall" on the BBC is a mystery to me; the phrase comes from the Middle Ages when city walls literally collapsed under siege.

Then we were told - again on the BBC - that Nasiriyah had been captured. Then its "embedded" correspondent informed us - and here my old journalistic suspicions were alerted - that it had been "secured".

Why the BBC should use the military expression "secured" is also a mystery to me. "Secured" is meant to sound like "captured" but almost invariably means that a city has been bypassed or half-surrounded or, at the most, that an invading Army has merely entered its suburbs.

And sure enough, within 24 hours, the Shia Muslim city west of the junction of the Euphrates and Tigress Rivers proved to be very much unsecured, indeed had not been entered in any form - because at least 500 Iraqi troops, supported by tanks, were still fighting there.

With what joy did Taha Yassin Ramadan, the Iraqi Vice-President, inform us all that "they claimed they had captured Umm Qasr but now you know this is a lie". With what happiness did Mohamed Said al-Sahaff, the Iraqi Information Minister, boast that Basra was still "in Iraqi hands", that "our forces" in Nasiriyah were still fighting.

And well could they boast because, despite all the claptrap put out by the Americans and British in Qatar, what the Iraqis said on this score was true.

The usual Iraqi claims of downed US and British aircraft - four supposedly "shot down" around Baghdad and another near Mosul - were given credibility by the Iraqi ability to prove the collapse of their forces in the south was untrue - quite apart from the film of prisoners.

We know that the Americans are again using depleted uranium munitions in Iraq, just as they did in 1991. But yesterday, the BBC told us that US Marines had called up an A-10 strike aircraft to deal with "pockets of resistance" - a bit more military-speak from the BBC - but failed to mention that the A-10 uses depleted uranium rounds.

So for the first time since 1991, we - the West - are spraying these uranium aerosols in battlefield explosions in southern Iraq, and we're not being told. Why not?

And where, for God's sake, does that wretched, utterly dishonest phrase "coalition forces" come from? There is no "coalition" in this Iraq war. There are the Americans and the British and a few Australians. That's it.

The "coalition" of the 1991 Gulf War does not exist. The "coalition" of nations willing to "help" with this illegitimate conflict includes, by a vast stretch of the imagination, even Costa Rica and Micronesia and, I suppose, poor old neutral Ireland, with its transit rights for US military aircraft at Shannon. But they are not "coalition forces". Why does the BBC use this phrase? Even in World War II, which so many journalists think they are now reporting, we didn't use this lie. When we landed on the coast of North Africa in Operation Torch, we called it an "Anglo-American landing".

And this is an Anglo-American war, whether we - and I include the "embedded ones" - like it or not.

The Iraqis are sharp enough to remember all this. At first, they announced that captured US or British troops would be treated as mercenaries, a decision that Saddam himself wisely corrected yesterday when he stated that all prisoners would be treated "according to the Geneva Convention".

All in all, then, it has not been a great couple of days for Bush and Blair. Nor, of course, for Saddam although he's been playing at wars for almost half the lifetime of Blair.

So here's a question from one who believed, only a week ago, that Baghdad might just collapse and that we might wake up one morning to find the Baathist militia and the Iraqi Army gone. If the Iraqis can still hold out against such overwhelming force in Umm Qasr for four days, if they can keep fighting in Basra and Nasiriyah, why should Saddam's forces not keep fighting in Baghdad?

Of course, this might all be a miscalculation. The pack of cards may be more flimsy that we think. But suddenly, the quick and easy war, the conflict of "shock and awe", doesn't seem so realistic. Things are going wrong. We are not telling the truth. And the Iraqis are riding high on it all.

© NZ Herald

here is a link to a website which gives information on the effects of depleted uranium
(the US/UK ammunition mentioned in the article above)

warning : pictures at this link may seriously upset

by Fintan Dunne, Editor 10th March, 2003

The Pentagon has threatened to fire on the satellite uplink positions of independent journalists in Iraq, according to veteran BBC war correspondent, Kate Adie. In an interview with Irish radio, Ms. Adie said that questioned about the consequences of such potentially fatal actions, a senior Pentagon officer had said: "Who cares.. ..They've been warned." According to Ms. Adie, who twelve years ago covered the last Gulf War, the Pentagon attitude is: "entirely hostile to the the free spread of information."

"I am enormously pessimistic of the chance of decent on-the-spot reporting, as the war occurs," she told Irish national broadcaster, Tom McGurk on the RTE1 Radio "Sunday Show."

Ms. Adie made the startling revelations during a discussion of media freedom issues in the likely upcoming war in Iraq. She also warned that the Pentagon is vetting journalists according to their stance on the war, and intends to take control of US journalists' satellite equipment --in order to control access to the airwaves.