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July 4, 2006

Snow Jobs, Zarqawi, and
Bogus Peace Plans


by Dahr Jamail

"My personal opinion is that the only way we will lose this war is if we pull out prematurely," said Col. Jeffrey Snow, who commands a brigade of soldiers in Iraq. Snow, as reported by AFP on June 30, fears losing public support in the U.S. for the ongoing occupation of Iraq because of "negative perceptions" at home due to news that is "always bad."

Reuters reported, also on June 30, Snow admitting that resistance attacks in Baghdad have risen despite the recent security crackdown that brought tens of thousands of American and Iraqi soldiers, new checkpoints, and curfews in the capital city.

The same Col. Snow, unable (or more likely, unwilling) to provide statistics on the increased number of attacks, instead used the excuse that the steps the U.S. military took to tell the Iraqi people about the new security measures kept resistance fighters informed of the military's plans. On that note, it couldn't be more obvious that someone in his position is there for his ability to follow orders, rather than his aptitude for the application of logic.

In another dazzling flash of brain activity, Snow, who obviously thinks "war" is a suitable term for the illegal occupation of Iraq, commented, "We expected there would be an increase in attacks, and that is precisely what's happened." He also added, "I believe that these attacks are going to go down over time. So I remain optimistic."

Snow is obviously annoyed with the fact that select media outlets continue to report the increasing violence, ongoing deaths of Iraqi civilians and U.S. soldiers, and that the country is, at this point, essentially as devastated as it was when Hulagu Khan's Mongols sacked Baghdad 748 years ago.

Just three days before the flash of brilliant analysis by Snow, the Iraqi health ministry announced it had received 262 corpses within the previous four days as the result of armed operations all over the country. It also reported that 580 people were injured in the same time period, and did not count people known to have been abducted and murdered but whose bodies have not yet been found.

But Snow seems to be less concerned with the reality on the ground than he is with the public perception of the hell that Iraq has become. While he admits that his own troops have come under a greater number of resistance attacks, he preferred to offer his professional critique of media coverage on the failed state of Iraq.

"Our soldiers may be in the crosshairs every day, but it is the American voter who is a real target, and it is the media that carries the message back each day across the airwaves. So when the news is not balanced and it's always bad, that clearly leads to negative perceptions back home," said the leader of the 1st Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division, which has been in Iraq nearly one year.

Determined to leave reporters with a warm, fuzzy feeling inside about the situation in Iraq, as well as to explain his obvious contradictions, Snow added, "The way I would answer that is that attacks here recently are up in our area. However, the overall effectiveness is down. So you may perceive that as doublespeak."

While Snow was busy contemplating his gift for doublespeak, the next day, July 1, a car bomb attacked a police patrol in Sadr City, Baghdad, killing at least 62 people and wounding over 100.

With the plan to secure Baghdad, Operation Forward Together, now three weeks old, and the so-called terror leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, killed, the security situation has only continued to deteriorate.

"Killing Zarqawi has not improved the situation in Iraq one bit," said Loretta Napoleoni, Fulbright Scholar at Johns Hopkins University and author of the books Terror Inc. and Insurgent Iraq. While speaking to an audience in Seville, Spain, where we both gave lectures about the situation in Iraq this past weekend, the expert on Zarqawi and terror groups now operating in Iraq added, "In fact, it might well have made things worse. There is evidence to back the claim that al-Qaeda gave information to the Multinational Forces about Zarqawi to have him killed, since they had been having problems with him for quite some time. Thus, killing him may well have strengthened the link between al-Qaeda and Sunni resistance groups in Iraq."

When I interviewed Napoleoni, she told me that the image of Zarqawi portrayed by Western media outlets was basically the antithesis of reality. "He [Zarqawi] was not in control of the Sunni resistance. He was in control of a very small group of jihadists, predominantly foreign fighters. He was extremely unpopular among the other factions of Sunni resistance fighters. Some of the members of the resistance even tried two times to remove him because he was a negative political influence."

While talking with Napoleoni, I wondered if Col. Snow truly believed his own rhetoric. I asked her what she thought of the constant assertions in Western corporate media outlets that Zarqawi was the "leader of the Iraqi resistance."

"Well it's not true. It's absolutely not true," she told me. "I don't know what they base these kinds of statements on. The resistance in Iraq is quite complex, including the Shia factions, and of course al-Zarqawi was not in control of that. Finally, al-Zarqawi was a foreigner. This is the key element. The Iraqi resistance would never follow a foreigner as a leader."

Hoping to shed some light on how people like Col. Snow, along with so many U.S. citizens, remain so ignorant about the reality on the ground in Iraq, I asked Napoleoni, who lectures regularly on the financing of terrorism as well as being an economist, another question.

Who is actually conducting the terrorism in Iraq? "The majority of the suicide missions are carried out by non-Iraqis. There are lots of people coming from the Gulf. There is a jihadist Web site that lists the names of the martyrs, and you can see that they come from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and even from the Emirates. This is the majority of the suicide missions. Some people come from Syria and Jordan, but the vast majority of people come from the Gulf."

So much for ongoing attempts by the Cheney administration to implicate Syria and Iran in collaborating with the Iraqi resistance. All Cheney needs to do is have his puppet, Mr. Bush, ask his pal, the king of Saudi Arabia, why they are allowing so many martyrs into Iraq.

Col. Snow take note, because if you really want to know what you are attempting to hide from people in the U.S., you should ask Napoleoni. According to her, the reason why Zarqawi and the few terrorist groups operating in Iraq are given so much media attention is because the Cheney administration "needs to personalize the enemy and needs to have a dichotomy between good and evil. This has been, very much, the Bush administration's policy right from the beginning. His [Bush's] first speech after 9/11 was 'You are either with us or you are against us.' So he clearly stated there is nothing in between. So al-Zarqawi had to be an evil individual the same way that Saddam Hussein was portrayed as an evil individual because, you know, there is a moral battle here."

Col. Snow and other gullible U.S. citizens should heed her conclusion about why the myth of Zarqawi was blown so large and wide. "Of course this [moral battle] is the umbrella under which the economic battle and the hegemonic battles are taking place," she said.

While we were discussing the U.S.-propagated myth of Zarqawi, I decided to ask Napoleoni to comment on the absurd statements made by Western corporate media outlets claiming that Zarqawi was in control of Fallujah during the November 2004 massacre in the city.

"Al-Zarqawi was never in control of Fallujah," she told me. "In fact, he was never in Fallujah." As we discussed the second U.S. assault on Fallujah in depth, she mentioned that negotiations between resistance groups, tribal leaders, and the U.S. military were happening right up to the launching of Operation Phantom Fury against Fallujah.

"The reason why that negotiation failed was because after it was agreed, the Americans basically demanded to have al-Zarqawi, and of course the people of Fallujah couldn't give him to the Americans because he was not in Fallujah," she said, confirming what I'd been told by my sources in the city.

Another recent clue as to why resistance attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces have been on the rise as of late is the "failed" reconciliation plan put forth by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

The vague plan offered by the Shia-dominated puppet government was flawed from the beginning, and when I asked Napoleoni what she thought of the "plan," she said, "I don't think it is going to work at all. I think it is a window-dressing for the West. I think it is one of these political decisions in order to sell an image to the West saying, 'Oh, the new government in Iraq is actually offering peace. But this peace is going to be rejected; therefore the new government has no other choice but to continue repressing the people.'"

She continued, "I don't think there was anything in that proposal that was written in order to bring a deal. Because if you look at this, it is impossible for any of those groups to accept it. It's too vague, for a start. Also, it basically prohibits amnesty for anybody who has done any activity motivated by political violence. So of course this was rejected because there was no way an amnesty is going to be accepted by the Sunni when we are in a situation where the government is in the hands of the Shia."

There is one thing that Col. Snow said about the U.S. corporate media that he and I agree on. Napoleoni, who worked for several banks and international organizations in Europe and the U.S. as well as having brought heads of state from around the world together to create a new strategy for combating the financing of terror networks, agreed as well.

And that is when Col. Snow told reporters, "It is the American voter who is a real target."

This piece originally appeared at Truthout.org.

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    Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, Dahr Jamail writes about the effects of the US occupation on the people of Iraq, since the mainstream media in the US has in large part, he believes, failed to do so.

    Dahr has spent a total of 5 months in occupied Iraq, and plans on returning in October to continue reporting on the occupation. One of only a few independent reporters in Iraq, Dahr will be using the DahrJamailIraq.com website and mailing list to disseminate his dispatches and will continue as special correspondent for Flashpoints Radio.

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