Hundreds of Iraqis flocked to the village where Saddam Hussein was born on Sunday to see the deposed leader buried in a religious compound 24 hours after his execution.
Dozens of relatives and others, some of them crying and moaning, attended the interment shortly before dawn in Ouja. A few knelt before his flag-draped grave. A large framed photograph of Saddam was propped up on a chair nearby. ...
His burial place is about two miles from the graves of his sons, Odai and Qusai, in the main town cemetery. The sons and a grandson were killed in a gunbattle with the American forces in Mosul in July 2003. ...
On Saturday, Iraqis watched television images of a noose being slipped over Saddam's neck and his white-shrouded body, the pre-dawn work of black-hooded hangmen. They went to bed as new video emerged showing Saddam exchanging taunts with onlookers before the gallows floor dropped away and the former dictator swung from the rope.
Most of the great butchers of the 20th century died of old age, in their own beds, some of them honored by millions. Not a single one met justice in the sense accepted in free states across the world. The handful who died otherwise are aberrations, victims of strange events that act as models for nothing.
There is one single exception -- the hanging of Saddam Hussein on December 30, 2006 ...
From AP: Israel ready for any 'whisper of peace'.
In an apparent gesture to Syria, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday he is open to "any whisper of peace" from Israel's enemies.
Syria has recently signaled it would like to reopen peace talks with Israel, which broke down seven years ago. Olmert has rejected the offers, citing Syria's support for anti-Israel militant groups in Lebanon and the Palestinian areas.
In a speech to graduates of an air force pilot's course, Olmert indicated he is softening his opposition.
"The state of Israel is open to any whisper of peace from our neighbors and across our borders," he said.
This is another in a series of recent capitulations by Olmert. As Charles Johnson put it, the Olmert cave-in is nearly complete. There's not much left, short of giving Ahmadinejad some GPS coordinates as a good-faith measure.
From Reuters: Olmert suggests Palestinian prisoner release.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert suggested on Sunday he could release some Palestinian prisoners this week, even though Gaza militants have yet to free a captured Israeli soldier. ...
Israel has also recently hinted at more flexibility over the release of Palestinians responsible for violence against Jews -- those who it says have "blood on their hands."
From AP: Israel to remove West Bank roadblocks.
Israel agreed Monday to remove some of the military roadblocks that have hindered Palestinian travel in the West Bank, one of several gestures aimed at boosting moderate President Mahmoud Abbas in his bitter struggle with the militant Islamic Hamas.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert approved streamlining checkpoints and removing roadblocks "to strengthen moderate (Palestinian) elements," according to a statement from his office. Olmert has already offered $100 million in frozen tax income to Abbas and indicated he might release some Palestinian prisoners. ...
Removing roadblocks has also stirred opposition. Only a fraction of the more than 400 permanent barriers in the West Bank would be taken down, but the Israeli army commander in the West Bank, Brig. Gen. Yair Naveh, warned in a closed meeting that even that would aid Palestinian militants in attacking Israelis, according to security officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was private.
Israel rejected Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' request for a quick release of prisoners to bolster nascent peace moves, saying Friday that Palestinian militants must first free a captured Israeli soldier.
The decision was a setback for the moderate Palestinian leader as he jockeyed with the radical Islamic Hamas group for popular support in the increasingly turbulent West Bank and Gaza. Abbas had hoped Israeli concessions would strengthen his argument that talks — not violence — are the Palestinians' best hope for achieving a state.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, himself fighting low approval ratings, has sought in recent weeks to re-energize his government with a push to revive long-stalled peace efforts with the Palestinians.
The Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot reported Friday that Olmert was prepared to hold back-channel talks to resolve the intractable disputes that derailed previous peace efforts, including the final borders of a Palestinian state, the status of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees. Olmert spokeswoman Miri Eisin declined to comment on the report.
Democrats and Republicans on Wednesday remembered the late former President Gerald R. Ford as a man who led the nation out of the dark days of the Watergate scandal.
Ford, 93, "died peacefully" Tuesday evening at his home in Rancho Mirage, California, his widow, Betty Ford said in a statement. An official cause of death was not announced.
"His life was filled with love of God, his family and his country," she said.
Although funeral arrangements have not been announced, U.S. Capitol Police officers said they were told to prepare for Ford's casket to come to Washington's Capitol Rotunda on Saturday, according to The Associated Press, and a service at the city's National Cathedral was expected Tuesday.
In a brief address to the nation, President Bush called Ford a "great man" who was a "true gentleman."
Ford replaced President Richard Nixon who resigned in 1974 during a scandal surrounding the burglary of Democratic party offices at the Watergate Hotel.
"He assumed power in a period of great division and turmoil," Bush said. "For a nation that needed healing and for an office that needed a calm and steady hand, Gerald Ford came along when we needed him most."
In Ford's honor, Bush ordered U.S. flags at all government buildings to fly at half-staff for 30 days.
This caricature was originally posted on August 28, 2006. To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.
The Iraqi High Tribunal's appellate chamber on Tuesday upheld Saddam Hussein's death sentence in the Dujail massacre case, Judge Aref Shaheen announced.
Shaheen said the court's decision was the final word in the case.
The toppled Iraqi dictator's execution must take place before January 27, Shaheen said. Iraqi law requires a death sentence to be carried out within 30 days.
On November 5, Hussein was sentenced to death by hanging for his role in the 1982 killings of 148 people in Dujail, a mostly Shiite town north of Baghdad. Hussein's attorneys appealed, and the appellate chamber began reviewing the case December 5.
Hussein's chief defense attorney, Khalil al-Dulaimi, said he had heard about the decision, but said it came from "an illegitimate and unconstitutional court."
"We are not surprised by this crazy ruling," al-Dulaimi said.
The lawyer, speaking from Amman, Jordan, said three other members of the defense team met with Hussein on Tuesday before the decision was announced and described him as being in high spirits.
Under international law, most governments have the power to stay any executions, but Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has said his government would not do so in Hussein's case.
The White House released a statement praising the court's decision.
"Today marks a milestone for the Iraqi people's efforts to replace the rule of a tyrant with the rule of law," said Scott Stanzel, deputy White House press secretary.
"We look forward to seeing the written judgment. Saddam has received due process and the legal rights that he denied the Iraqi people..."
UPDATE I -- Dec. 27: From CNN: Baathists: 'Grave consequences' if Hussein's hanged.
The Baath Party, the political movement that ruled Iraq during the Saddam Hussein era, is warning there will be "grave consequences" if former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is executed.
Saying it would hold the United States responsible, a message appeared on al-basrah.net Tuesday that read: "The Baath and the resistance are determined to retaliate in all ways and all places that hurt America and its interests if it commits this crime."
If the execution is carried out, the largely Sunni-Arab Baathists said they also will retaliate against members of the Iraqi High Tribunal.
And they vowed a complete shut-down of peace negotiations between the Baathists and coalition forces.
The Baathists have been operating as part of the insurgency against the U.S. and its allies since Hussein's regime fell in 2003.
UPDATE II -- Dec. 29: Looks like Old Man 2006 got to the lever first. From CNN: Hussein executed, Iraqi TV stations report.
Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has been executed, according to two Arabic language media outlets.
Hussein was hanged before dawn on Saturday in Iraq, at about 6 a.m. (10 p.m. Friday ET), the U.S.-backed Al-Hurra television reported.
Al-Arabiya reported that Barzan Hassan, Hussein's half-brother, and Awad Bandar, former chief justice of the Revolutionary Court, were hanged after Hussein. All three were convicted of killings in the Iraqi town of Dujail nearly 25 years ago.
Earlier, Munir Haddad, a judge on the appeals court that upheld the former dictator's death sentence, and an adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki each confirmed the paperwork needed for Hussein's execution had been prepared late Friday.
"All the procedures have been completed," Haddad said.
At the same time, a U.S. district judge refused a request to stay the execution.
Attorney Nicholas Gilman said in an application for a restraining order, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Washington, that a stay would allow Hussein "to be informed of his rights and take whatever action he can and may wish to pursue."
Haddad had called Gilman's filing "rubbish," and said, "It will not delay carrying out the sentence," which he called "final."
UN Secretary General-designate Ban Ki-moon, in a television interview broadcast Sunday urged Tehran to resume stalled talks with three European powers.
"I urge the Iranian government authorities to engage in negotiation with" Britain, France and Germany, the three countries which led more than two years of fruitless talks with the Iranians to scale back their nuclear ambitions, Ban told a US television before Iran was hit with UN nuclear-related sanctions on Saturday.
"The Iranian nuclear issue has great implications on regional and global issues," said the former South Korean foreign minister who is to succeed Kofi Annan as UN chief on January 1.
On Saturday, the 15-member UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution, sponsored by Britain, France and Germany, mandating sanctions targeting Iran's sensitive nuclear and ballistic missile programme over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities.
But a defiant Iran vowed Sunday to start work immediately on drastically expanding its capacity to enrich uranium.
To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.
From The Washington Times: Holiday pies won't fly this year by Audrey Hudson.
Airline travelers carrying aboard potential explosives -- holiday desserts containing more than 3 ounces of liquid -- are being encouraged by Homeland Security officials to find other means of transportation for the goodies.
"These items are permitted but may require further inspection. Keep in mind that many holiday foods like cake and pie have characteristics similar to liquids, gels and aerosols," listed one travel tip released yesterday by the Transportation Security Administration.
"If you are not sure if an item is a liquid, gel or aerosol it is best to pack the item in your checked bag or ship it to your destination in advance," says the travel guide.
Amy Kudwa, a spokeswoman for the TSA, will discuss the holiday travel checklist with reporters at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport today and demonstrate common holiday travel mistakes.
One air marshal said screening holiday pies is a "half-baked idea."
"That's outrageous; people would have gooey pumpkin pie leaking all over their luggage," said one airport security official.
UPDATE -- Dec. 24: We'll post something new late tomorrow. In the meantime, Merry Christmas, everyone!
Blogalicious, edited by Deborah Ulher, is a "cookbook of favorite recipes from the blogosphere," including submissions by Michelle Malkin, Charles Johnson, Robert Spencer, Glenn Reynolds, Eugene Volokh, Scrappleface, and many, many others (see the link for the full list of bloggers).
John and I submitted the above cartoon along with John's recipe for a Tonic Collins and a recipe from me for corn casserole. I haven't seen the completed book yet, but it looks like a fun collection -- as you might imagine, some bloggers took a humorous approach. We also designed and illustrated the cover, which you can see by clicking on the link above. Rich, bloggy goodness!
UPDATE -- Dec. 21 Thanks to Andy Van Fossen, Dwayne Roberts, and Casey Smith for catching the typo.
From CNN: U.S., North Korea meet one-on-one.
Financial experts from the United States and North Korea met Tuesday to address Washington's campaign to isolate the North from the international banking system, the key stumbling block blamed for Pyongyang's 13-month boycott of nuclear talks.
The meeting came on the sidelines of six-nation arms talks that entered a second day Tuesday with discussions focused on the implementation of a disarmament pledge signed by the North last year. ...
The North staked out a tough position as the six-nation talks opened Monday, demanding a long list of previously stated preconditions for its disarmament such as the lifting of all U.N. sanctions and U.S. financial restrictions.
It repeated its assertion that it be considered a nuclear weapons power and that the talks be transformed into negotiations over mutual arms reductions in which it would be accorded equal footing with the United States. The North said it would increase its nuclear arsenal if its demands are not met.
The North also renewed its demand for a nuclear reactor for electricity.
The latest North Korean nuclear crisis erupted in 2002 after U.S. officials said the North had admitted having a secret nuclear program in violation of a 1994 disarmament deal, leading to the North's withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
From AP: Gates: Iraq failure would be 'calamity'.
Robert Gates assumed the helm at the Pentagon on Monday, warning in his first public remarks as defense secretary that failure in Iraq would be a "calamity" that would haunt the United States for years.
The former CIA chief pledged to give President Bush his honest advice on the costly and unpopular war, and said he would go to Iraq soon to see what U.S. commanders believe should be done to quell the growing violence.
"All of us want to find a way to bring America's sons and daughters home again," Gates, 63, said after taking the oath of office as defense secretary from Vice President Dick Cheney at a Pentagon ceremony. "But as the president has made clear, we simply cannot afford to fail in the Middle East. Failure in Iraq at this juncture would be a calamity that would haunt our nation, impair our credibility, and endanger Americans for decades to come."
He takes office as Bush conducts a wide-ranging review of his approach to the 3 1/2 year-old Iraq conflict. The fighting, teetering on the edge of a civil war between sects, has seen more than 2,940 Americans die at a cost to U.S. taxpayers exceeding $300 billion.
Officials say the options Bush is studying run from a short-term buildup of thousands of more troops to a pullback of U.S. combat units so they can focus on training Iraqis and hunting terrorists. Bush said last week that he would wait until January to announce his new strategy, to give Gates a chance to offer advice.
Gates said he wants to hear the views of U.S. commanders on how to improve the situation, "unvarnished and straight from the shoulder." The remarks seemed to contrast with critics' complaints that the man he replaced, Donald H. Rumsfeld, did not listen enough to the advice of the military's top officers.
To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.
Iran's Holocaust-denial conference is over. MEMRI President and Founder Yigal Carmon explained the real purpose of the conference: The Role of Holocaust Denial in the Ideology and Strategy of The Iranian Regime:
In order for Ahmadinejad to bring his plans [of eliminating Israel] to fruition, however, he has to demonize the Jews and the State of Israel. Demonization is a necessary precondition for genocide. As we well know, Hitler first engaged in a major campaign of demonization of the Jews before actually murdering them en masse. Ahmadinejad and the Iranian regime are taking the same path, and are conducting a similar virulent, antisemitic campaign of demonization.
To this end, Iranian state-controlled television produces various TV series dedicated to the demonization of Jews. These include classic blood libels, depicting Jews as using the blood of non-Jewish children to bake their Passover matzos, and as kidnapping non-Jewish children to steal their body parts. Jews are reduced to sub-human levels, depicted as pigs and apes. They are accused of persecuting the Prophet Muhammad in voodoo ritualistic scenes, and as tormenting a historic figure reminiscent of Jesus on the Cross. All these TV series exist alongside others that deny the Holocaust.
Again, it should be stressed that all these phenomena are interrelated, and are state-directed at the highest level. It is most indicative that Ahmadinejad's first public appearance after coming to power was made before television producers.
All this is done in order to achieve the goal of demonization of Jews and Israel, which, as I mentioned earlier, is vital for their elimination. However, it is not possible to demonize a people as long as it is viewed as a victim of the Holocaust. Therefore, as long as the Jews are perceived as victims of the Holocaust, this demonization cannot take root. Holocaust denial is thus vital, in order to wipe out the image of the Jews as victims.
This is the reason why these three elements - Holocaust denial, the elimination of the State of Israel, and demonization of the Jews - are constantly present in statements by Ahmadinejad and other senior Iranian officials.
You can also see such demonization in the finalist cartoons in Iran's Holocaust cartoon context (see examples within this post). Accompanying the CNN story is a photo of Ahmadinejad shaking hands with an Orthodox Jew, which seems to contradict the idea that anti-Semetism is a factor. But look again at how Jews are consistently depicted in the Iranian contest cartoons and throughout the Middle East, and it becomes clear that the photo is just that: a photo op.
MEMRI's Carmon explains:
First and foremost is their explicit opposition to Israel's existence. This is why members of the anti-Zionist Jewish sect of Neturei Karta were invited, following the ongoing, strong ties maintained by the Iranian regime with them. Then comes the demonization of Jews in order to justify the agenda of elimination. Thus the invitation of Holocaust deniers, such as Frederick Toben, who not only denies the Holocaust, but also claims that the Jews intentionally spread the AIDS virus in the U.S.
Apparently members of the Neturei Karta see the existence of a Jewish state as more evil than genocidal anti-Semitism. Ahmadinejad is more than glad to exploit them for his own agenda, and they in turn have allowed it. Of course Ahmadinejad will shake hands with Jews -- the ones who are useful and know their place.
Western leaders today who say they are shocked by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's conference this week denying the Holocaust need to wake up to that reality. For the majority of Muslims in the world, the Holocaust is not a major historical event that they deny. We simply do not know it ever happened because we were never informed of it. ...
What's striking about Ahmadinejad's conference is the (silent) acquiescence of mainstream Muslims. I cannot help but wonder: Why is there no counter-conference in Riyadh, Cairo, Lahore, Khartoum or Jakarta condemning Ahmadinejad? Why are the 57 members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference silent on this?
Could the answer be as simple as it is horrifying: For generations, the leaders of these so-called Muslim countries have been spoon-feeding their populations a constant diet of propaganda similar to the one that generations of Germans (and other Europeans) were fed — that Jews are vermin and should be dealt with as such? In Europe, the logical conclusion was the Holocaust. If Ahmadinejad has his way, he shall not want for compliant Muslims ready to act on his wish.
UPDATE -- Dec. 26: More on Neturei Karta at FoxNews: Ahmadinejad Handshake Leaves Rabbi's Neighbors Crying Foul.
The group denies that they are "a small sect or an extremist group of 'ultra-orthodox' Jews," but rather are "fighting the changes and inroads made by political Zionism during the past 100 odd years," according to the site.
"Zionism is a fundamentally heretical movement which denies the Divine imperative that Jews remain in exile until the day when all mankind will be miraculously redeemed,” Weiss told a gathering of protesters in New York City in November.
The Neturei Karta's U.S. branch is based in a sprawling but dilapidated tenement in Monsey, a village ringed with strip malls boasting clothing bargains and fast-food shops that offer kosher pizza and falafel.
It's Jewish small-town America.
At a time when most Americans prepared to celebrate Christmas, menorahs twinkled from the tops of minivans as men dressed in black with long, curly side locks hitched rides home and bicyclists, their prayer-shawl tassels twisting in the wind, raced home for Hanukkah celebrations.
Rafael, a nearly 20-year resident of the community, said Neturei Karta has only a handful of members. He, along with other residents interviewed by FOXNews.com last week, declined to give their full names, fearing reprisals within the community.
"[Weiss] definitely does not represent any part of the Jewish community except for his little hole in the wall," Rafael said. "I really believe he should be considered a traitor to the country.
"This is a very, very good country and I think that someone who goes ahead and does what he does — hugs and kisses the enemy of the world — should be considered a traitor. Revoke his citizenship."
Weiss and his group have made headlines with protests in Washington and in photo opportunities with the Palestine Liberation Organization.
"Nobody embraces him," said Simon, a 10-year resident of Monsey who declined to give his last name. "The blood pressure goes up."
CAIR is representing the six imams removed from a US Airways flight last month and has asked for a meeting with the airline to seek an out-of-court settlement. It maintains that police and witness reports detailing the imams unusual behavior before their removal last month were ethnically and/or religiously motivated.
The imams say they were praying and did not, as the reports say, change seats and make remarks critical of President Bush and the Iraq war.
Pilots and air marshals called the incident a "PC probe" to intimidate passengers and crew from reporting suspicious behavior by Muslim passengers and are fearful the incident will set off a domino effect of lawsuits.
Such lawsuits would be bad enough. But what if the law itself was turned against airline security? At the Star-Tribune, Katherine Kernsten suggests that the bogus imam incident is purposefully being used to promote an anti-profiling bill.
In the past few weeks the public relations campaign for the Profiling Act has moved into high gear. On Tuesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations advised American Muslims to beware of the dangers of "flying while Muslim." In light of recent allegations of "airport profiling," it said, the council has set up a toll-free hotline for pilgrims traveling to Mecca for the hajj, or annual pilgrimage, who believe that their rights have been violated.
The End of Racial Profiling Act has languished until now. What did it need to reinvigorate it? New congressional leadership, and that's coming in January. But it needed something else in this media age: a high-profile incident to jump-start it.
Pajamas Media has a the police report on the Faking Imams.
More articles in our previous cartoon: Safety On Board.
This is another cartoon you'll find in our new book, Black & White World III, which can still be ordered online in time for the holidays through Cox & Forkum, The Steyn Store, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com. The cartoon was originally posted on June 17, 2005.
[Sen. Patrick] Leahy also revealed that Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., will chair a new subcommittee on human rights. The new panel's agenda will include overseeing legislation on torture and detainee treatment.
Here's what Durbin said back in June that inspired the cartoon:
"If I read this [FBI report] to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings," Durbin said.
The AP later reported Durbin's tearful non-retraction:
Under fire from Republicans and some fellow Democrats, Sen. Dick Durbin apologized Tuesday for comparing American interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp to Nazis and other historically infamous figures.
"Some may believe that my remarks crossed the line," the Illinois Democrat said. "To them I extend my heartfelt apologies."
His voice quaking and tears welling in his eyes, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate also apologized to any soldiers who felt insulted by his remarks.
"They're the best. I never, ever intended any disrespect for them," he said.
From CNN: Annan chides U.S. in farewell speech.
Kofi Annan had some strong words Monday for the United States in his farewell speech as secretary-general of the United Nations. ...
"When power, especially military force, is used, the world will consider it legitimate only when convinced that it is being used for the right purpose, for broadly shared aims, in accordance with broadly accepted norms."
There are few greater compliments for America then being chided by Annan for not kow-towing to world opinion. Annan went on to say:
As things stand, accountability between states is highly skewed. Poor and weak states are easily held to account, because they need foreign assistance. But large and powerful states, whose actions have the greatest impact on others, can be constrained only by their own people, working through their domestic institutions.
That gives the people and institutions of such powerful states a special responsibility to take account of global views and interests, as well as national ones. ...
In fact, it is only through multilateral institutions that states can hold each other to account. And that makes it very important to organize those institutions in a fair and democratic way, giving the poor and the weak some influence over the actions of the rich and the strong.
Allow me to translate: By "some influence over the actions of the rich and the strong" Annan means "the legal force to counteract the sovereignty of America." Good riddance to Annan. Too bad the U.N. itself won't follow him.
Jules Crittenden does a lot more translating.
My fourth lesson, therefore, is that governments must be accountable for their actions, in the international as well as the domestic arena. Every state owes some account to other states, much like the popular “Monopoly” board game by Parker Brothers. Poor and weak states, in impoverished regions like Baltic Avenue, are easily held to account by large and powerful colonial states with vast railroad and utility holdings and multiple hotels on Boardwalk.
But who holds such players in account? This is why we need multilateral institutions like the United Nations to act as the independent “banker” in this complicated international board game. Our role is to act as a bulwark against unilateral players who threaten to run roughshod around the board in their monocles and spats. We keep a close eye on the money tray and extend credit to weaker nations who are struggling to pass “GO.” We also manage “FREE PARKING” and “COMMUNITY CHEST,” and pass “GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL” resolutions against the rogue Zionist entity occupying Marvin Gardens.
Also see Day by Day.
This cartoon is a response to this Day by Day cartoon.
Like last year, we are being beaten by Chris Muir's Day by Day. Fortunately he is a friend as well as a nemesis. We had some fun with Chris' characters last time round (see here and here). This year we decided to employ some of his T&A tactics, but the results are mixed. In case it isn't obvious, we grafted the head of Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei onto the body of Day by Day's Jan. Kind of an Ayatollah Jan. Or a Bearded Lady. At a minimum, we have the transgender Islamist votes locked up.
UPDATE II -- Dec. 16: The Weblog Awards are over, and you can see the results here. Thanks to a surge in votes from you readers, we managed to edge past Day by Day to get second place! That's one each, against each other. If there's a next time, I think we'll be in trouble if Chris decides to campaign more. Congratulations to Least I Could Do for winning first place. And thanks again to everyone who took the time to vote. You really made a difference.
Private Saudi citizens are giving millions of dollars to Sunni insurgents in Iraq and much of the money is used to buy weapons, including shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, according to key Iraqi officials and others familiar with the flow of cash.
Saudi government officials deny that any money from their country is being sent to Iraqis fighting the government and the U.S.-led coalition.
But the U.S. Iraq Study Group report said Saudis are a source of funding for Sunni Arab insurgents. Several truck drivers interviewed by The Associated Press described carrying boxes of cash from Saudi Arabia into Iraq, money they said was headed for insurgents.
Two high-ranking Iraqi officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity, told the AP most of the Saudi money comes from private donations, called zakat, collected for Islamic causes and charities.
Some Saudis appear to know the money is headed to Iraq's insurgents, but others merely give it to clerics who channel it to anti-coalition forces, the officials said.
In one recent case, an Iraqi official said $25 million in Saudi money went to a top Iraqi Sunni cleric and was used to buy weapons, including Strela, a Russian shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile. The missiles were purchased from someone in Romania, apparently through the black market, he said.
Overall, the Iraqi officials said, money has been pouring into Iraq from oil-rich Saudi Arabia, a Sunni bastion, since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq toppled the Sunni-controlled regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
This is yet another example of a state sponsoring terror within Iraq yet not suffering consequences for it. Somebody once said: "From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime."
UPDATE -- Dec. 12: Saudi ambassador to U.S. resigns, paper reports.
Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Prince Turki al-Faisal, abruptly resigned his post after 15 months on the job and left the country, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday, citing U.S. officials and foreign envoys.
Al-Faisal told his staff he was leaving to spend more time with his family, the newspaper reported, citing Arab diplomats. His predecessor, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, held the job for 22 years. ...
The departure also came days after Turki fired a consultant who wrote an opinion piece published in The Washington Post that suggested the Saudi kingdom would back Iraq's Muslim Sunnis in the event of a wider sectarian conflict.
The article by a Saudi government security adviser, Nawaf Obaid, said the kingdom would intervene with funding and weaponry to prevent Shiite militias from attacking Iraq's Sunnis and suggested Saudi Arabia could bring down world oil prices to squeeze Shiite power Iran.
Saudi Arabia denied the assertions, and Faisal said he terminated a consultancy agreement with Obaid, who had said the views were his own and not those of the Saudi government.
Today President Bush responded to the just-released Iraq Study Group report, including its recommendation to open talks with Iran and Syria (see below). Bush was receptive to the idea while emphasizing that "victory in Iraq" is important to our security. But with today also being the 65th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, I couldn't help but recall, and be inspired by, an article in the latest Objective Standard that I linked to earlier this week: "No Substitute for Victory": The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism by John Lewis. In this excellent, must-read essay, Dr. Lewis compares today's approach to war with that of the 1940s. Here's another excerpt:
In 1945, Americans knew that there was truly "no substitute for victory," as General MacArthur said in his farewell speech to Congress. In 1945, Americans also knew the meaning of "victory." It was not a mere word, empty of content. It named a specific task, and a precise goal. To say that our aim today is "to attain victory" can be as empty and futile as urging a college student to "do well," or a businessman to "succeed." What constitutes "doing well"? What is "success"? How will we know when we have achieved "victory"? The question is: What is it that we really need from the enemy?
History offers yet another example. The words proclaimed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which defined the terms of victory, and which he held intransigently for over two years, are "Unconditional Surrender." Bringing long-term peace to the world, said FDR,involves the simple formula of placing the objective of this war in terms of an unconditional surrender. . . . Unconditional surrender means not the destruction of the . . . Japanese populace, but does mean the destruction of a philosophy . . . which is based on the conquest and subjugation of other peoples.
In other words, continued FDR:We have learned that if we do not pull the fangs of the predatory animals of the world, they will multiply and grow in strength . . . [they] must be disarmed and kept disarmed, and they must abandon the philosophy which has brought so much suffering to the world.
The term "Unconditional Surrender" has been closely linked to Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant, who demanded "no terms except unconditional and immediate surrender" from his southern foe at Fort Donelson, Kentucky. For this victory, Grant was heroized as "Unconditional Surrender" Grant. To Americans of the time, "U. S." stood for Ulysses S. Grant, for the United States, and for Unconditional Surrender. Americans demanded nothing less than victory, and equated victory with their own identity as a nation.
This is what we must regain today: the sense of ourselves as right to drive victoriously over a viciously evil enemy. We must demand the unconditional surrender of the Islamic State in Iran--and of every other Islamic Totalitarian State on earth--to the legitimate laws of man, the laws that protect individual rights.
This is just a glimpse of the essay's analysis, so as I urged before: Read the whole thing. And when you do, contrast it to what Bush said today about our enemies. The CNN headline captures the essence: Bush tells Iran, Syria how they can join Iraq talks.
After talks with his top Iraq war ally President Bush on Thursday indicated that Iran and Syria might be included in regional talks about Iraq, if they meet certain conditions. ...
The Iraq Study Group report also called on the United States to hold talks on the war with Iraq's neighbors, including Syria and Iran, a nation which has not enjoyed diplomatic relations with Washington in the nearly three decades after the Iranian revolution.
"Having an international group is an interesting idea," Bush said.
"We have made it clear to the Iranians that there is a possible change in U.S. policy, a policy that's been in place for 27 years," said Bush. "And that is that, if they would like to engage the United States, that they've got to verifiably suspend their [nuclear] enrichment program."
So there's been a "change in U.S. policy." Bush would like us to believe that we nonetheless have Iran on the defensive and that the West has set the terms. But in reality it is Iran that is setting the terms. The Islamic Republic is an openly hostile enemy who is not only pursuing nuclear weapons in violation of numerous agreements but is also actively involved in killing our troops in Iraq -- and yet they have suffered no negative consequences. It is an act of appeasement to even consider talks with Iran because it rewards their past behavior. Iran has set the terms by pursuing whatever policies are in their interest while the West merely reacts with words. Why would Iran suddenly begin to punish themselves for our sake, just because we asked, when their current strategy is working just fine?
Until the Iranian regime is defeated militarily, there can be no meaningful talks. Bush may admit that the situation in Iraq is "bad," but until he admits that Iran is the real source of the problem, the situation will only get worse.
UPDATE -- Dec. 10: Tim Sumner comes up with at least one good reason to talk with Iran.
This is another cartoon from our new book, Black & White World III, which can still be ordered online in time for the holidays through Cox & Forkum, The Steyn Store, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com. The cartoon was originally posted on February 23, 2006.
From the Atlanta Journal Constitution: Adviser breaks with Carter on Mideast book.
A longtime adviser to former President Jimmy Carter has resigned his position as a Carter Center fellow for Middle East Affairs in response to Carter's new book. "Being president doesn't give one the prerogative to bend the facts to reach a prescribed reality," said Kenneth Stein, the first executive director of the Carter Center.
The Emory University professor, who teaches Middle Eastern history and political science, said he picked up a copy of Carter's latest book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" last week. After reading it, he decided to resign.
Stein bluntly criticized the book in a letter to Carter, Emory President Jim Wagner and John Hardman, the Carter Center's current executive director.
"President Carter's book on the Middle East, a title too inflammatory to even print, is not based on unvarnished analysis; it is replete with factual errors, copied materials not cited, superficialities, glaring omissions, and simply invented segments," Stein wrote. "Aside from the one-sided nature of the book, meant to provoke, there are recollections cited from meetings where I was the third person in the room, and my notes of those meetings show little similarity to points claimed in the book."
UPDATE -- Dec. 8: Soccer Dad notes: "It's not just the bias in the book that Stein objects to, but to Carter's dishonesty in writing it. "Copied materials not cited" is a charge of plagiarism."
US President George W. Bush told Iraqi Shiite leader Abdel Aziz al-Hakim that Iran and Syria must halt their "destructive activity" in Iraq, a Bush aide said.
Bush said later in a television interview he was confident that Hakim and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki "are committed to ending murder" in the violence-riven country. ...
Hakim, who heads the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and leads the largest bloc in Iraq's parliament, said after the meeting that he opposed a regional or internationally-imposed resolution to the country's problems.
What sort of "destructive activity"? From ABC News: EXCLUSIVE: Iranian Weapons Arm Iraqi Militia.
U.S. officials say they have found smoking-gun evidence of Iranian support for terrorists in Iraq: brand-new weapons fresh from Iranian factories. According to a senior defense official, coalition forces have recently seized Iranian-made weapons and munitions that bear manufacturing dates in 2006.
This suggests, say the sources, that the material is going directly from Iranian factories to Shia militias, rather than taking a roundabout path through the black market. "There is no way this could be done without (Iranian) government approval," says a senior official.
Iranian-made munitions found in Iraq include advanced IEDs designed to pierce armor and anti-tank weapons. U.S. intelligence believes the weapons have been supplied to Iraq's growing Shia militias from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is also believed to be training Iraqi militia fighters in Iran.
Evidence is mounting, too, that the most powerful militia in Iraq, Moktada al-Sadr's Mahdi army, is receiving training support from the Iranian-backed terrorists of Hezbollah.
Two senior U.S. defense officials confirmed to ABC News earlier reports that fighters from the Mahdi army have traveled to Lebanon to receive training from Hezbollah.
There have already been a number of other reports about Iran's proxy war in Iraq (see here, here, here, and here). So a terrorist-sponsoring Shiite state is supplying Shiite militias in Iraq with weapons and training. And yet rather than go on the offensive and take the fight to the source -- Iran -- Bush is betting that "moderate" Shiite Islamists in Iraq will somehow decide to crack down on the murderous Shiite Islamists.
If that approach seems more than a little suicidal to you, then I highly recommend the following essay in The Objective Standard: "No Substitute for Victory": The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism by John Lewis. This is a must-read analysis of the War on Terrorism that compares two starkly different approaches to waging war against a determined, ideologically motivated enemy. Dr. Lewis covers a broad range of important issues, so excerpts will not do it justice. But compare the following to Bush's approach above. From the essay:
History is clear: All-out force against fanatical killers is both practical and moral. It led us to our two most important foreign policy successes—the defeats of Germany and Japan in 1945—and to the permanent peace with those nations that we take for granted today. Such a course was practical and moral then, and it is practical and moral now—an affirmation, and a defense, of life and civilization. ...
The political centerpiece of Islamic Totalitarianism today—the state in which Islam is most militantly welded to political power and contempt for America and the West—the world leader in the violent spread of Islam—is Iran.
The Iranian Islamic State was born in an act of war against America—the seizure of the American embassy in 1979—and has chanted “Death to America” ever since. Even Muslims at odds with Iran for sectarian reasons, such as many followers of Osama Bin Laden, draw inspiration from it as they engage in their own jihads against the West. Bin Laden’s most important effect in this regard has been to energize and empower radical Muslims to rise above the petty squabbles between Persian and Arab, and between Sunni and Shiite, to join Iran against the “Great Satan”: America. Hezbollah, Hamas, and company are dependent on Iran for ideological, political, and economic strength. It is Iran that addresses the U.N. as a world leader; it is Iran that is openly committed to acquiring the weapons needed to take control of the Middle East; it is Iran that poses as the defender of Muslims against the West (for instance, through loyal clerics in Iraq); and it is Iran that has gained power since the U.S. removed its strongest regional opponent in Iraq.
The conclusion is inescapable. The road to the defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism begins in Tehran. America, acting alone and with overwhelming force, must destroy the Iranian Islamic State now. It must do so openly, and indeed spectacularly, for the entire world to see, for this is the only way to demonstrate the spectacular failure and incompetence of the Islamic fundamentalist movement as a whole.
Read it all. Note especially the photo of a 1945 memo regarding Shintoism.
UPDATE -- Dec. 6: From U.S. News & World Report: The Mullah Menace by Mortimer B. Zuckerman.
Question: What's the most dangerous geopolitical development in the 21st century? Answer: Iran's emergence as the Middle East regional superpower. Why? Because it places the center of the world's increasingly stretched energy resources more and more under the influence of an oil-rich, fundamentalist, pro-terrorist, anti-Semitic regime that has not only nuclear ambitions but the means to realize them.
From The Daily Star: Siniora vows to stay on despite mounting pressure.
Lebanese Premier Fouad Siniora vowed Sunday to remain in office despite opposition supporters camped outside his offices for the third day calling on him to resign. As nationalist songs were blaring from the nearby tents of the opposition in Downtown Beirut, a Mass was held at the Grand Serail to commemorate the assassination of Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel.
Gemayel died in a shooting ambush in a Christian suburb of Beirut last month.
The service was led by Beirut Maronite Bishop Boulos Matar and attended by Siniora, his anti-Syrian ministers, Gemayel's family, and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, as well as other politicians from the March 14 Forces.
Siniora said the protests would not achieve the opposition's goal, hinting that they might take counter-action if the Hizbullah-led sit-in drags on.
"A solution to any problem does not come through the street because this means might trigger a counter-means and we will not reach any result," Siniora told reporters after the Mass.
"I will not leave; I am going to stay here for as I enjoy Parliament's confidence. I am here by the confidence of the Lebanese and the constitutional institutions," he said.
Siniora and his supporters describe Hizbullah's campaign as a coup attempt led by Syria and its ally, Iran. "We are used to coups d'etat in Lebanon and the Arab world and we know its results and there was one attempt in 1961 and it failed," he said, "so why try something that is already known to fail?"
To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.
From The Arizona Republic: Muslims, others protest; US Airways' removal of imams from flight called offensive
A group of about 100 Muslims gathered at Tempe Beach Park on Friday, in front of US Airways headquarters, to appeal for equal treatment and justice. ...
They were there to protest the removal last week of six imams, or Islamic spiritual leaders, five of whom live in the Valley, from a US Airways flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix. The incident has drawn national attention and could result in a lawsuit against the airline. ...
A US Airways spokeswoman said the pilot "absolutely made the right call" in having the men removed from the flight last week after at least two people, including an off-duty flight attendant, complained about their behavior.
From The Washington Times: Marshals decry imams' charges
Air marshals, pilots and security officials yesterday expressed concern that airline passengers and crews will be reluctant to report suspicious behavior aboard for fear of being called "racists," after several Muslim imams made that charge in a press conference Monday at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. ...
Federal air marshals and others yesterday urged passengers to remain vigilant to threats. ...
The imams say they were removed from the Phoenix-bound flight because they were praying quietly in the concourse. They had been in Minnesota for a conference sponsored by the North American Imams Federation.
But other passengers told police and aviation security officials a different version of the incident. They said suspicious behavior of the imams led to their eviction from the flight. The imams, they said, tested the forbearance of the passengers and flight crew in what the air marshal called a "[political correctness] probe."
"The political correctness needs to be left at the boarding gate," the marshal said. "Instilling politically correct fears into the minds of airline passengers is nothing less than psychological terrorism."
The passengers and flight crew said the imams prayed loudly before boarding; switched seating assignments to a configuration used by terrorists in previous incidents; asked for seat-belt extensions, which could be used as weapons; and shouted hostile slogans about al Qaeda and the war in Iraq.
Flight attendants said three of the six men, who did not appear to be overweight, asked for the seat-belt extensions, which include heavy metal buckles, and then threw them to the floor under their seats.
From The Washington Times: How the imams terrorized an airliner
The pilot said the airlines are not "secretly prejudiced against any nationality, religion or culture," and that the only target of profiling is passenger behavior.
"There are certain behaviors that raise the bar, and not sitting in your assigned seat raises the bar substantially," the pilot said. "Especially since we know that this behavior has been evident in suspicious probes in the past."
"Someone at US Airways made a notably good decision," said a second pilot, who also does not work for US Airways.
All links via Little Green Footballs, including: Non-Flying Imam: 9/11 Hijackers Were Not Muslims
[T]the only way to counter ideological jihad is to speak the truth: U.S. Airways did the right thing by removing these six provocateurs from the plane.
UPDATE II -- Dec. 5: From Investor's Business Daily: Tale Of Fibbing Imams.
When the story first broke, the imams denied they chanted "Allah." Yet, several witnesses in the police report say they did. The imams also claimed they were handcuffed and harassed by dogs. "Six imams. Six leaders in this country," Shahin complained. "Six scholars in handcuffs." But the police report puts the lie to both those claims, too.
Shahin also claimed that a local FBI agent pleaded with US Airways to sell the Saintly Six imams another plane ticket, telling airline reps that the government had "no problem" with the men. "Never happened," says an FBI spokesman in Minneapolis
Three parallel investigations into the removal of six imams from a US Airways flight last month have so far concluded that the airline acted properly, that the imams' claims they were merely praying and their eviction was racially inspired are without foundation.
UPDATE IV: From The Wall Street Journal: On a Wing and a Prayer by Debra Burlingame.
Ultimately, the most despicable aspect about the imams' behavior is that when they pierced the normally quiet hum of a passenger waiting area with shouts of "Allahu Akbar"and deliberately engaged in terrorist-associated behavior that was sure to trigger suspicion, they exploited the fear that began with the Sept. 11 attacks. The imams, experienced travelers all, counted on the security system established after 9/11 to kick in, and now they plan not only to benefit financially from the proper operation of that system but to substantially weaken it--with help from the Saudi-endowed attorneys at CAIR.
US Airways is right to stand by its flight crew. It will be both dangerous and disgraceful if the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Transportation and, ultimately, our federal courts allow aviation security measures put in place after 9/11 to be cynically manipulated in the name of civil rights.