Tuesday, June 24, 2003

US 'admits' it is facing political sabotage in Iraq

"Whether or not it is connected to the power outage today, I don't know. But it is a broader issue that we're contending with," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Coalition efforts to get the country back up and running after the crippling effect of 13 years of international sanctions and an intense bombing campaign, have been hit by suspected sabotage blasts on three fuel pipelines in the last two weeks.

Although the US authorities have yet to account for the explosions - one of which on the main oil export pipeline from Kirkuk in the north to Turkey has delayed oil flows - Iraqi officials have said they were deliberate attacks.

"Remnants of the former regime want to send a message that things are bad and they are seeking to sabotage the progress we are making," the official said.

Sounds pretty good, right?

But according to Iraqis interviewed for this article something important is missing from that analysis.

They argue it is heavy-handed American raids, along with the failure to restore basic services, that are fuelling the violence and insecurity, not Saddam loyalists.

“The Americans are just using the Baath as an excuse to stay in the country... They don’t want an Iraqi government. So they just talk about the Baath,” said Ali Jassem, a Shiite Iraqi who lives in a slum and is unemployed. “We will rise up and fight the Americans. We have just moved from one dictatorship to another.”

Rumsfeld in that Pentagon briefing refused to commit to a date the United States would return Iraq to its people. But it was apparent by his look of disbelief anyone would ask such a silly question, his smirk, and his hand gestures when saying it will happen 'ultimately' that it's years down the road.

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