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Nov 28th, 2008

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Qaeda’s Zawahri Says U.S. Wars Behind Financial Crisis

Nov. 28, 2008

DUBAI — Al Qaeda’s second-in-command said in an Internet video the U.S. financial crisis was caused by Washington’s military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan and taxpayers were paying the price.

“This crisis is one of … the series of American economic hemorrhages after the strikes of September 11… And these … will continue as long as the foolish American policy of wading in Muslim blood continues,” Ayman al-Zawahri said on the video, posted on Islamist websites on Friday.

“The ones shouldering the burden are taxpayers, whose money was spent to rescue senior capitalists and to protect the fraudulent interest-based system from collapse,” Zawahri said.

Asked by an off-camera interviewer whether Washington would be able to resolve the crisis, Zawahri said: “They might be able to lighten their losses if they were to stop the insane hemorrhaging of funds which they are spending on wars against Muslims.” …

The video appeared to have been made earlier than an audio recording issued on November 19, in which Zawahri criticized U.S. president-elect Barack Obama for vowing to back Israel during his campaign, and warned he would fail if he follows the policies of Bush.


Related reports

Al-Qaida tape blasts Iran for working with U.S.

Personality profile of Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri



Iraq-U.S. Pact Leaves Prime Minister Maliki Stronger Than Ever

Nov. 28, 2008

BAGHDAD — Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was written off a year ago as weak and sectarian, but a pact requiring U.S. troops to withdraw has enabled him to emerge as a nationalist strongman.

His critics now complain he is overbearing and authoritarian.

Initially derided by both Sunni Arab and Shi’ite opponents as a U.S. puppet, yet also accused of being manipulated by America’s foe Shi’ite Iran, there were mutterings in Washington and Baghdad of replacing Maliki back in 2007.

Parliament’s passing of a pact on Thursday requiring U.S. troops to leave Iraq in three years shows how much things have changed. Maliki used the U.S. military presence to strengthen his power base, then negotiated its withdrawal on his own terms.

“He is by far the Iraqi politician who has benefited most from the (U.S. presence) because he has been able to exploit it to strengthen his personal prestige,” said Reidar Visser, an Iraq expert and editor of the website.

“(The pact) crowns Maliki’s efforts: a gradual drawdown that focuses on training Iraqi security forces that (is) slow enough to give him a maximum of possibility of staying in power.” …

With the help of the U.S. military, Maliki has cracked down on al Qaeda and other Sunni Arab insurgents in northern Iraq, but also on gunmen loyal to Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al Sadr — leading Sunni Arabs to rally around him and enabling him to rebuff the charge of sectarianism. …

Parliament passed the pact with 149 votes out of 198 deputies present, after he agreed to put it to a referendum next year. …

But analysts fear that he will become more authoritarian.

One effect of the pact will be that the United States will no longer be able to make its military support conditional on reforms Washington says are crucial for reconciling Iraq’s fractious sectarian and ethnic groups. …

Festering disputes with ethnic Kurds over oil reserves and land threaten to undermine Maliki’s coalition and boil over into violence.

“There will be little room for the United States to make demands in terms of national reconciliation … Maliki may feel confident to increase his assertiveness towards the Kurds, who no longer will be needed to secure his dominance,” said Visser. …

Conflict in Iraq video

New Iraqi agreement sets U.S. withdrawal timeline (MSNBC, Nov. 27, 2008) — A new Iraqi agreement sets a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq but also grants the Iraqis new authority over U.S. troops and imposes new restrictions on the U.S. military. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports. (01:50)

Thousands of Iraqis Protest U.S. Security Pact

Nov. 28, 2008

BAGHDAD — A suicide bomber killed 12 people in an Iraqi mosque on Friday while thousands of followers of anti-American Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr demonstrated in Baghdad after parliament passed a pact allowing U.S. troops to remain through 2011.

Some 9,000 people protested in Baghdad’s Shi’ite slum of Sadr City after Friday prayers, burning a U.S. flag and holding banners reading “No, no to the agreement.” About 2,500 people held a similar rally in the southern city of Basra.

“I express my condolences to the Iraqi people on this grave occasion, in which they are harmed by the … pact of shame and degradation,” Sadr, whose militia has fought U.S. troops many times, said in a statement read to followers on his behalf.

Earlier on Friday, a suicide bomber wearing an explosives-packed vest killed 12 people and wounded 17 others inside a Shi’ite mosque visited mainly by Sadr supporters 40 miles south of Baghdad, police said.

The U.S. military said the bomber killed eight people and wounded 15 others as they lined outside the mosque to enter for Friday prayers.

U.N. officials say such attacks are aimed at provoking renewed sectarian fighting between minority Sunni Arabs, once affiliated with al Qaeda, and the majority Shi’ites who are now in charge of Iraq.

In Sadr City, a roadside bomb targeting a U.S. patrol wounded one person.

Sadrist lawmakers opposed the security deal with the United States to the last, banging desks and chanting slogans during the parliamentary session that passed it on Thursday.

They consider the U.S. military presence, in place since the 2003 invasion and the toppling of Saddam Hussein, an occupation and want an immediate withdrawal. …

The deal curbs U.S. military powers to arrest Iraqis and conduct operations, shifting greater responsibility onto Iraq’s security forces to keep the peace. Violence is at four-year lows, but car bombings and suicide blasts are still common.

In the first comments by a senior Iranian figure since the passage of the pact, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, who heads a powerful constitutional watchdog, said Washington had forced its passage with pressure and threats.

“Yesterday, this pact was finally approved despite the … problems it had. This ratification was not a normal one,” Jannati, head of the Guardian Council, told Friday prayer worshippers in Tehran in a sermon broadcast on state radio. …

Iran, which enjoys close ties with Maliki’s Shi’ite-led government, has repeatedly blamed the United States for the violence and bloodshed in Iraq in the last five years.

The U.S. military has long accused Iran of arming, training and funding small Shi’ite militia units which attack U.S. troops and Iraqi forces, a charge Tehran denies.

Under the security pact, the United States will no longer be able to hold Iraqi suspects detained during the insurgency and around 16,000 mainly Sunni Arab prisoners will have to be handed over to Iraqi authorities or released.

Human rights group Amnesty International said thousands could face torture or possibly execution as a result as the pact provided no safeguards for prisoner rights. …

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