Monday, April 21, 2003

I have been very busy around the house, the twins are due any day now, so I have not had any time for blogging. It will probably remain very slow around here for the next two weeks.

Saturday, April 12, 2003

My favourite Russian webpage is no longer doing daily war updates, probably due to a lack of a war, but they have, however, decided to describe the American higher education system:

I read a lot of commentaries left apparently by American citizens, which absolutely reeked of ignorance, on this site. Much of those comments were strewn with expletives and provided an impression that Americans somehow are very uneducated, easily guiled and highly agressive people. As it may be true for some part of the population, it is very misleading to put all Americans under that rubric. The United States has a highly capable and viable elite guiding the nation in the national interest as they see it; the point to be made is that this elite exists and undoubtedly possesses a high level of intellectual and work sophistication which enables it to successfully carry out complex undertakings in the interest of the United States. That is the conclusion which every one should be making in regard to the United States, thus avoiding the pitfall of underestimating this nation.

The strength of the generic American intellectual assets is their superlative specialization in one field, often at the expense of breadth of education, leading people in other nations, who have received an education tailored for breadth, to incorrectly assume that Americans are indeed ignorant. Such a problem exists in the U.S. education system, but it is not ubiquitous and it is not all-pervasive. There are schools and colleges which are considered elite and which prepare the stratum of executives and decision makers for the U.S. needs. They are of course Harvard and other Ivy League schools. Thus, the overall social system of the U.S. consists of the vast majority of people who merely are educated to carry out their little piece of a greater plan, and a small layer of well-educated people who are in fact expected to take up cognitively challenging positions requiring creative, original and extensively structured thought. Although the majority of the U.S. population are unquestionably specialists, that elite layer of superlatively educated people, the generalists, probably exceeds in their cognitive potential the elites of many smaller nations. At this moment, it is still conceivable to state that the U.S. graduate system of education in the Ivy League schools is unmatched in scope in any other nation in the world. Certainly, every nation possesses several great world-class universities which are obliged by design to churn out the cadres of the elite; but in sheer number and strength of the educational fundamentals, only a handful of those around the world can even compare.

This structure of the U.S. educational system is not perfect from the point of view of an idealistic generalist, and it could be improved to be more generalist, but this improvement to provide as many generalists as possible is not within the interest of a capitalist society. Plus, of course, the intellectuals who are somehow not accepted in the elite, if they are too numerous, tend to do what the dissidents in the Soviet Union used to do: namely, heap unending scorn on the elite to which they were unable to attach themselves due to there inherently turbulent and unpleasant personalities. This pitfall is skillfully avoided by making as many people cogs in the great economic machine as possible, and reserving the thinking positions only for those who are selected by the rigorous educational system and are guaranteed to understand that rocking the boat is not in their best interest.

Hence from this the understanding of the U.S. social structure can be derived, putting to rest the general, but false, consensus that Americans are somehow simply stupid. Nothing is further from the truth, and the underestimation is very much hurtful to the understaning of the American phenomenon.

Friday, April 11, 2003

The Saudi newspaper Arab News is reporting that> General Nizar al-Khazraji was also killed in Najaf along with the Shia cleric, and friend of Tony Blair, Abdul Majid Al-Khoei.

Who is General Nizar al-Khazraji? The BBC ran a profile on him back in September 2002:

General Khazraji first came to prominence during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, and by the end of that decade had been made head of the country's armed forces.

He claims to have warned Saddam during the Gulf War that the invasion of Kuwait had been a mistake.

He subsequently fell from favour and in 1995 fled to Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, travelling on from there to Jordan.

Since the late 1990s he has lived in Denmark.

In late 2001 Danish police launched an investigation into allegations that General Khazraji had been involved in the poison gas attack on the Kurdish town of Halabjah in March 1988.

The general has rejected these allegations, dismissing them as black propaganda spread by Baghdad in order to discredit him.

The Kurdish community is divided over the question.

The two main Iraqi Kurdish groups, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), are reluctant to press the issue, believing that a high-profile prosecution of General Khazraji could discourage other Iraqi generals from defecting.

European Kurdish groups, on the other hand, have called for him to be tried on war crimes charges.

General Khazraji is believed to still enjoy support within the Iraqi military, and this - together with his refusal to become involved in the squabbles within the Iraqi opposition community - has led some observers to see him as a kind of Iraqi Hamid Karzai.

However, the travel ban imposed on him by the Danish authorities for as long as he remains under investigation means that even if he changed his mind about taking an active part in Iraqi politics, his opportunities to do so could be limited.

To certain American intelligence agencies, it seemed like such a shame that a potential successor to Saddam Hussein would be kept from fulfilling his destiny by some silly Danish laws:

Copenhagen - Former Iraqi General Nizar al-Khazraji, touted as a possible successor to President Saddam Hussein, is now in Kuwait after escaping from Denmark last month with the help of the CIA the Danish daily Politiken reported on Sunday.

Citing a report by the former head of the CIA's counter-terrorism department - a copy of which was obtained by the paper. Apparently the US sees Khazraji as their preferred successor for Saddam in a post-war Iraq, a view that is not shared by the Pentagon.

The ex-CIA official, who completed the confidential report on March 28, said the US intelligence services secretly extracted Khazraji and that he was currently helping US forces in the war against Baghdad.

On March 22 the BT newspaper first reported that the CIA might have been behind a move to spirit Khazraji, believed to be the highest ranking officer to have defected from Iraq, to Saudi Arabia.

The ex-CIA official who wrote the report, Vincent Cannistraro, has declined to comment on the document.

Khazraji, who has been charged with war crimes for alleged chemical weapon attacks on Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s, went missing from his house arrest in Denmark on March 15.

It seems as if he General might be able to take over after all. Then this happened:

Earlier in the day in the southern city of Najaf, this correspondent happened on a crowd of Iraqis who had been at the Ali Mosque, one of Shiite Islam’s holiest shrines, just half an hour earlier. They said that former Iraqi Gen. Nizar Al-Khazraji and Islamic scholar Abdul Majid Al-Khoei had both been executed by Iraqi residents of Najaf.

Another independent Iraqi witness to the incident who spoke to Arab News said that the two potential Iraqi leaders of the city, who were supported by the US, “were chopped into pieces with swords and knives inside the Ali Mosque by Iraqis who accused them of being American stooges.”

Another witness said that a US Special Forces soldier, who had been acting as their bodyguard, was also killed in the incident.

Al-Khoei’s death has since been confirmed by his family in London, as was the death of one of his aides.

However, there has been no confirmation of Al-Khazraji’s death.

Reuters is now saying that four other people were also killed along with the cleric: (via the New York Times):

KUWAIT (Reuters) - The nephew of an Iraqi cleric hacked to death by a mob in an Iraq mosque said on Friday his uncle's murderers had killed a total of six people in the attack and taken control of the holy Muslim city of Najaf.

U.S. forces stationed nearby were doing nothing to restore order, he said, quoting residents of Najaf, which is some 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad.

``The Americans are five kilometers from Najaf and do not want to interfere,'' said Jawad al-Khoei, a nephew of murdered cleric Abdul Majid al-Khoei.

``They (Khoei's killers) are in control of Najaf -- the city center and the mosque. The security situation is very bad.''

Initial reports said that Khoei and another cleric, Haider Kelidar, were shot and stabbed to death on Thursday at Iraq's holiest Shi'ite shrine, Imam Ali Mosque.

However, Jawad, himself a cleric, told Reuters that four other people had also died in the attack.

``About 100 people entered the mosque and killed six people, including Khoei,'' he said, sobbing as he spoke by telephone from the Iranian city of Qom.

``Khoei was shot at five times then dragged off out of the mosque where he was stabbed to death with knives and swords.''

Khoei was the son of Ayatollah Seyyid Abdulqasim Musawi al-Khoei, who died in 1992 while under house arrest, which was imposed on him when Saddam crushed a Shi'ite uprising in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War.

Khoei defected to London shortly after the uprising and returned to Najaf after U.S. forces took control of it last week. Supporters said he was helping restore order in the city.

Here is a little reality check from the Daily Kos:

White House, June 2002: “One year after President Bush signed the tax cut into law, the economy is growing, consumer spending is up and America is on the path to economic recovery.”

Reality, April 2003: Almost two years after the tax cut, the opposite is true. The economy is now barely growing, far less than the required 3% growth needed to create jobs and provide sustainable growth. The economy looks shaky as jobless claims remain above 400,000, the unemployment rate refuses to drop, the percentage of the population in the labor force continues to shrink, the deficit continues to expand, industrial production and retail sales continue to shrink, the stock market is unable to recover and stay at previous levels and consumer confidence remains at all time lows.

White House, June 2002: “The tax cut will help create 800,000 jobs by the end of 2002.”

Reality, April 2003: From June 2002 onwards, the economy lost 185,000 private sector jobs by the end of 2002, and has lost an additional 243,000 private sector jobs so far in 2003. This brings the total private sector job losses since the recession began in March 2001 to 2,629,000. This is the worst performing job market in modern American economic history. 25 months after the recession, the private sector job market has yet to bottom out. In the 1990-1991 recession, the private sector job market bottomed out after 20 months. In 1981, after 25 months, the private sector job market had not only bottomed out after just 14 months, it had returned to pre-recession levels after 25 months.

White House, June 2002: “The tax cut helped shorten the duration and impact of the recession.”

Reality, April 2003: The NBER, the official arbiter of recessions, has yet to agree this recession is even over yet over two years after it began because of conflicting signals from the economy.

Thursday, April 3, 2003

All that follows is the latest from Moscow. It seems to be much less optimistic than the American / British reports form yesterday.

April 2, 2003, 1335hrs MSK (GMT +4 DST), Moscow - Exceptionally difficult and unstable situation has developed on the US-Iraqi front by the morning of April 1. The coalition troops are persistently trying to take control of the strategic "triangle" Karabela - Al-Khindiya - Al-Iskanderiya. At the same time the coalition units are continuing their advance toward Al-Kut and An-nu-Manyah, but so far the US forces were unable to take any of these towns. To move forward the US units are forced to leave behind large numbers of troops needed to blockade the towns remaining under Iraqi control. The An-Najaf and An-Nasiriya garrisons are still involved in active combat deep behind the coalition forward lines.
The coalition command had to deploy two brigades from the 101st Airborne Division to blockade and to storm An-Najaf and An-Nasiriya. These two brigades will replace elements of the US 1st Marine Division (the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit under the command of Col. John Waldhauser) that has been fighting in this area for the past six days. These "heavy" attack brigades are currently being deployed to the area of intense fighting near Al-Hillah.
Rough estimates show that the territory "captured" by the coalition forces still contains at least 30,000 Iraqi regular troops and militia engaged in active combat. Military experts are already warning the US command about the danger of underestimating the enemy: doing so may seriously complicate the situation of the attacking forces and foil the coalition's very optimistic plans.
On the other hand, the Iraqi command is being forced to withdraw its troops under the protection of towns. Iraqis are also forced to minimize all active combat operations outside the city limits as the desert terrain maximizes the enemy's advantage in aviation and its technological superiority in reconnaissance and targeting systems. This robs the Iraqis of their mobility and forces them to resort to "fortress-like" type of warfare, which, clearly, is significantly reducing their combat effectiveness.
Near Karabela the command of the 3rd Mechanized Infantry Division has completely abandoned its plans to storm the town. After blocking Karabela on three sides the 3rd Infantry Division directed its main thrust toward the towns of Al-Musaib and Al-Khindiya. Heavy combat is continuing in this area for the second day. The US is continuously escalating the intensity of its attacks and is using nearly all artillery and tank units available to the strike group's command. Nevertheless, the coalition forces are still unable to penetrate the Iraqi defenses. The commander of the 3rd Infantry Division Major General Buford Blount is reporting fierce Iraqi resistance. According to the General, elements of the 2nd Iraqi Republican Guard "Medina" Division that are defending these positions maintain high combat potential and are repelling all attempts to break through their lines. During the past day and today's early morning the [coalition] field commanders have reported the loss of up to 5 tanks, 7-10 APCs and IFVs and no less than 9 killed. At least one helicopter was hit and made an emergency landing. Two more helicopters reported taking serious damage and their situation so far is unknown. Iraqi losses [near Karabela], based on the US reports from the battlefield, include at least 300 killed and up to 30 destroyed tanks and APCs. In the morning the coalition forces have ceased the attack and now the Iraqi positions are being engaged by aviation. The next [coalition] attack is anticipated during the night.
Heavy fighting is continuing in the town of Al-Hillah. Despite strong aviation and artillery support the US Marine units are still unable to strengthen their positions on the left bank of the Euphrates and to push the Iraqi forces out of the town. During the past 24 hours the US Marines in Al-Hillah lost up to 5 armored vehicles; at least 10 soldiers were killed or wounded. According to the reports by the US commanders, the Iraqi losses during this time amount to at least 100 killed; 10 reinforced strongholds inside the town have been destroyed; there are reports of 80 Iraqis captured during a cleanup operation in the occupied part of the town.
A crisis situation has developed in the area of Al-Divania. Having encountered no initial Iraqi opposition elements of the US Marine 2nd Expeditionary Unit begun advancing toward the town but were met with heavy artillery and mortar fire and were forced to assume defensive positions resorting to close combat. The exchange of fire continued for nearly seven hours resulting in up to 12 destroyed US tanks and APCs and up to 20 killed or wounded Marines. Currently the Iraqi positions are being attacked by artillery and aviation.
Yesterday's attempts by the US troops to storm the part of An-Nasiriya on the left bank [of the Euphrates] yielded no results. After moving behind the Iraqi positions, while simultaneously attacking them from the front, the US troops still were unable to break the Iraqi defenses and by morning were forced to return to the their starting positions. The coalition losses in this engagement, according to reports by [the US] field commanders, were 2 killed and up to 12 wounded; a [US] helicopter took a hit and made an emergency landing in the northern part of An-Nasiriya.
Also no results came from the coalition attempts to capture An-Najaf. All US attacks were repelled. There have been reports of 3 destroyed APCs and at least 5 killed or wounded coalition troops.
Near Basra the British forces are still unable to tighten their blockade of the city. During the night the Iraqis attacked British units near the village of Shujuh and threw the British back 1.5-2 kilometers. According to the Iraqi reports, at least 5 British soldiers were killed in this attack. The British, on the other hand, have reported 2 missing and 4 wounded soldiers. Iraqis have reported that a destroyed British tank and two APCs were left behind on the battlefield.
Tactical attack units from the US 82nd Airborne Division and the 22nd SAS Regiment, earlier deployed to northern Iraq near the town of Al-Buadj, were destroyed and dispersed as the result of a daylong battle with the Iraqi troops. The exact number of [coalition] losses is still being verified. Intercepted radio communications show that the coalition troops are retreating in small groups and have no exact information about their own losses. Currently the remaining units are trying to reach the Kurdish-controlled territory. It is believed that up to 30 [coalition] soldiers were killed or captured by the Iraqis.
Military analysts believe that today and tomorrow will decide the outcome of the attack on Baghdad that begun two days ago. If the coalition forces fail to break the Iraqi defenses, then by the weekend the US will be forced to curtail all attacks and to resort to positional warfare while regrouping forces and integrating them with the fresh divisions arriving from the US and Europe. Such a tactical pause in the war, although not a complete halt in combat operations (the coalition command will continue trying to use localized attacks to improve its positions), may last seven to fourteen days and will lead to a full re-evaluation of all coalition battle plans.

Tuesday, April 1, 2003

There have been a few technical difficulties at the Russian site, but in any case all that follows are the two latest reports:

March 29, 2003, 0924hrs MSK (GMT +4 DST), Moscow - During the past day the situation on the US-Iraqi front remained largely unchanged. The US is continuing reinforcing the attack group near Karabela for a thrust toward Baghdad. By the morning of March 29 up to 20,000 coalition troops were massed in the area of Karabela. This forces includes up to 200 tanks, 150 artillery systems and more than 250 helicopters. The order for the attack will be given by the coalition commander Gen. Tommy Franks, who, according to intercepted radio communications, will personally inspect the troops during the next several hours.

Around 1900hrs yesterday an Apache attack helicopter crashed. Intercepted radio communications show that the helicopter was heavily damaged in a combat mission. The helicopter's pilot lost control during landing and the helicopter crashed, causing serious damage to another helicopter that landed earlier.

The coalition troops have so far failed to take An-Nasiriya despite of the categorical orders from the command and more than 800 combat missions by the strike aircraft. All attempts to break through the Iraqi defense were met by Iraqi counterattacks. After 24 hours of fighting the coalition troops only managed to advance several hundred meters in two sectors near An-Nasiriya at the cost of 4 destroyed armored personnel carriers, no less that 3 Marines killed by sniper and mortar fire, 10 wounded and 2 missing in action. The exact Iraqi losses are being determined.

The Americans have also failed to advance near An-Najaf. Every coalition attack was met by massive artillery barrages from the Iraqi side. Later during the day the Iraqis mounted a counterattack throwing the US forces back by 1.5-2 kilometers. No fewer than 10 Marines were killed or wounded. After exchanging fire for six hours both warring sides remained in the same positions. Iraqi losses in this area are estimated to be 20 killed and up to 40 wounded.

Near Basra the British troops pushed the Iraqi defense lines on the Fao peninsula but were unable to capture the entire peninsula. The British advance was a maximum of 4 kilometers from the highway leading to Basra. Radio intercepts show that in this attack the Iraqis shot down a British helicopter. Additionally, two tanks and one APCs were destroyed by landmines. At least 2 [British] servicemen were killed, around 20 were wounded and 15 were captured by the Iraqis.

Exchange of fire continued in the area of the Basra airport. The Iraqis destroyed one coalition APC wounding two coalition soldiers. The Iraqi losses are difficult to estimate, but available information suggests that up to 20 Iraqi soldiers and local militia members might have been killed in the air and artillery strikes.

All attempts by the British troops to break through the Iraqi defenses from the south along the Al-Arab river have yielded not results. The British command reported that it is unable to storm Basra with the available forces and will require no less than two additional brigades and at least five additional artillery battalions. Thus, to avoid further casualties the British are adopting defensive tactics, while trying to maintain a tight blockade around Basra and trying to improve their positions with small localized attacks. The British are also maintaining pressure on the Iraqi positions on the Fao peninsula.

The psychological levels among the city's residents, according to interviews, is far from critical. The Iraqi military made several public announcements to the residents offering them a chance to leave the city. However, most of the residents do not want to leave, fearing the faith of the Palestinian refugees, who, after losing their homes, gained pariah status in the Arab world. Basra's residents were extremely depressed by the video footage aired by the coalition command showing Iraqis on the occupied territories fighting for food and water being distributed by the coalition soldiers. The city's population views this as a sample of what awaits them if the Americans come...

At the Al-Kuwait airport the unloading of the 4th Mechanized Infantry Division is continuing and is expected to be completed by the night of April 1. During a night flight one of the US military transport aircraft requested an emergency landing. What happened to the plane is still being determined.

Currently the coalition command is deciding how better use the 4th Infantry Division. The complete deployment [of the division] and preparations for combat are expected to take at least 10 days. However, the combat units require immediate reinforcements and it is possible that the [4th Infantry} Division will be joining combat in stages, as the units become ready. This will mean a considerable reduction of the Division's combat effectiveness.

A report was obtained, prepared by the Al-Kuwait-based [coalition] Psychological Operations Tactical Group for the [coalition] Special Ground Forces Command. The report analyzed the effectiveness of the information and propaganda war. According to the report, analysis of the television broadcasts, intercepted radio communications, interrogations of Iraqi POWs show that psychologically the Iraqis are now "more stable and confident" that they were during the last days before the war. This, according to the report, is due primarily to the coalition's numerous military failures.

"...Following nervousness and depression [of the Iraqis] during the first days of the war we can now observe a burst of patriotic and nationalistic feelings. ...There has been a sharp increase in the number of Iraqi refugees, who left the country before the war, returning to Iraq. A "cult of war" against the US and the UK is now emerging among the Iraqis...", the report states. [Reverse translation from Russian]

[Coalition] analysts believe that if this attitude of the Iraqis is not changed within the next 7 days, a "resistance ideology" may take over the Iraqi minds, making the final [coalition] victory even more difficult. In response to this report the US Army Psychological Operations command decided to combine all Iraqi POWs into large groups and to distribute the resulting video footage to the world media. A more active use of the Iraqi opposition was suggested for propaganda work in the occupied villages. The same opposition members will be used to create video footage of the "repented" Iraqi POWs and footage of the local [Iraqi] population "opposing Saddam."

Radio communications intercepted during the last five days suggest that the coalition is using Israeli airfield for conducting night air strikes against Iraq. Combat aircraft are taking off regularly from the [Israeli] Hatzerim and the Navatim airbases do not return to the same bases but fly toward the border with Jordan while maintaining complete radio silence.

Possibly these are just Israeli Air Force exercises, However, [Russian] radio intercept and radar units observe increased intensity of radio communications coming from the Jordanian air force and air defense communication centers during such overflights, as well as changes in the operating modes of the US Army "Patriot" tracking radars deployed in Jordan. This indicates the Israeli airbases as used as forward airfield or that some of the coalition air force units are based there. Normally the IAF F-15I fighter-bombers and A-4N strike aircraft operate from the Hatzerim airbase and the F-16 fighter-bombers operate from the Nevatim base.

Experts believe that these airbases may be used by the F-117 stealth bombers "officially" based at the Al-Udaid airbase in Qatar. Using these two locations minimizes the risk to the F-117s by allowing them to fly along the left bank of the Euphrates (in the direction of Turkey) and to avoid the dangerous maneuvering over Iraq.

The destruction of the telephone stations in Baghdad did nothing to disrupt the communications of the Iraqi army. The coalition command acknowledged this fact after analyzing the dense [Iraqi] radio traffic. Because of that the USAF was ordered to employ the most powerful available [conventional] munitions against predetermined strategic targets. This attacks will be carried out immediately before renewing ground advance.

March 30, 2003, 2042hrs MSK (GMT +4 DST), Moscow - No significant changes have been reported during March 29-30 on the Iraqi-US front. Positional combat, sporadic exchange of fire and active search and reconnaissance operations by both sides continue along the entire line of the front.

American troops continue massing near Karabela. As was mentioned in the previous update, the US group of forces in this area numbers up to 30,000 troops, up to 200 tanks and up to 230 helicopters. Latest photos of this area suggest that the [US] troops are busy servicing and repairing their equipment and setting up the support infrastructure.

According to radio intercepts, the coalition commander Gen. Tommy Franks has visited the US forces near Karabela. He personally inspected the troops and had a meeting with the unit commanders. Currently no information is available about the topics discussed during the meeting. However, it is believed that the [coalition] commander listened to the reports prepared by the field commanders and formulated the main objectives for the next 2-3 days.

The current technical shape of the coalition forces was discussed during the meeting at the coalition central headquarters. During a personal phone conversation with another serviceman in the US one participant of this meeting called this technical state "depressing". According to him "...a third of our equipment can be dragged to a junk yard right now. We are holding up only thanks to the round-the-clock maintenance. The real heroes on the front lines are not the Marines but the "ants" from the repair units. If it wasn't for them we'd be riding camels by now..." [Reverse-translated from Russian]

Based on the intercepted radio communications, reports from both sides and other intelligence data, since the beginning of the war the coalition lost 15-20 tanks, around 40 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, more than 50 military trucks and up to 10 helicopters. In addition to that there have been at least 40 more disabled tanks, about the same number of disabled APCs and IFVs, about 100 disabled wheeled vehicles of all types and around 40 disabled helicopters. These numbers are based on the analysis of non-classified technical reports received daily by the Pentagon.

During the attack last night up to two US Marine battalions attempted to push the Iraqis out of their defensive positions near An-Najaf. Despite of the preliminary 4-hour-long artillery and aerial bombardment once they approached the Iraqi positions the US troops were met with heavy machine-gun and RPG fire and were forced to return to their original positions. One US tanks was destroyed by a landmine and two APCs were hit during this night attack. Radio intercepts show that 2 Marines were killed and 5 were wounded. The latest attempt by the US troops to improve their positions on the left bank of the Euphrates near An- Nasiriya was also a failure. Despite of all the precautions taken to ensure the tactical surprise the US forces were met with heavy fire and returned to the original positions. According to the reports by the [US] field commanders, three Marines were missing in action and four were wounded in this engagement.

These failed attacked have once again confirmed the fears of the coalition command that the Iraqi forces were much better technically equipped than was believed before the war. In particular, the DIA [US Defense Intelligence Agency] intelligence report from February 2003 insisted that the Iraqi army practically had no night vision equipment except for those systems installed on some tanks and serviceability of even that equipment was questioned. In reality, however, the coalition troops have learned that the Iraqis have an adequate number of night vision surveillance systems and targeting sights even at the squadron level and they know how to properly use this equipment. A particular point of concern [for the coalition] is the fact that most Iraqi night vision systems captured by the coalition are the latest models manufactured in the US and Japan. After analyzing the origins of this equipment the US begun talking about the "Syrian connection". In this regard, the US military experts have analyzed Syria's weapons imports for the past two years and have concluded that in the future fighting [in Iraq] the coalition troops may have to deal with the latest Russian- made anti-tank systems, latest radars and radio reconnaissance systems resistant to the effects electronic counter measures.

In the same area [An-Najaf] a coalition checkpoint manned by the US Marines was attacked by a suicide bomber - an Iraqi soldier - who detonated a passenger car loaded with explosives next to the US troops. At least 5 of them were killed.

In a closed radio address to the coalition troops the coalition command asked the soldiers to show "patience and restrain" and "not to let loose their emotions and feelings of anger" [Reverse-translated from Russian] The radio address was recorded following an incident in the area of Umm Qasr when, in plain view of the locals, British soldiers executed two Iraqis after finding a submachine-gun in their house; and after a US attack helicopter returning from a combat mission opened cannon fire on a passenger car and its occupants. It was announced [by the coalition] that both of these incidents will be investigated. However, military psychologists believe that these incidents are the result of the troops being subjected to enormous stress; psychologists say that these soldiers require medical treatment.

Near Basra the British forces have completely abandoned offensive operations and switched to positional warfare. Isolated attacks continue in the airport area - still not under full British control - and on the Fao peninsula where the Iraqis continue to hold a large staging area.

According to the British field commanders, the troops are extremely exhausted and are in dare need of rest and reinforcements. Three British soldiers went missing and two more were wounded in this area during the past 24 hours.

A supply convoy of the 3rd Motorized Infantry Division was ambushed last night to the south of An-Nasiriya. In the course of the attack 10 fuel trucks were destroyed, one escorting APC was hit, 8 troops were wounded and 1 is missing. So far it is not known who was behind the attack: the Iraqi army combat reconnaissance units or the partisans operating in this area.

Analysis of the information coming from the combat zone shows a rapid decline in the [coalition's] contacts with the media and increasing restrictions on all information except for the official reports. For example, since yesterday morning all phone and Internet lines used by the coalition troops to maintain contact with relatives in the US and Europe have been shut down at the division level and below. Not only does this indicate that the coalition command is trying to change the course of the information war, but this also points to a possible upcoming massive coalition attack against the Iraqi forces and an attempt on the part of the [coalition] commanders to prevent any information leaks.

[Russian] analysts believe that all the talk about a "two-week timeout" in the war is nothing more than a disinformation attempt by the coalition. Forces and equipment currently available to the coalition will be sufficient for at least 1-2 weeks of active combat; this is comparable to the duration of a major combat operation. It is likely that such an operation may take place during the next day in the area of Karabela. Goals of this operations have already been discussed in previous reports.

At the same time the coalition is already planning a new large-scale operation that will utilize the new forces currently being deployed to the region. Based on our [Russian] intelligence and that of our allies [Russian] military experts believe that this large-scale operation will be launched from the general vicinity of Karabela and will develop into a wide maneuver around Baghdad from the west ending in the area of the Tartar lake east of Al-Hadid (or east of the Tartar lake at Samarrah). From this point a part of the force will continue advancing toward Saddam Hussein's home town of Tikrit and from there it will turn toward Baghdad from the north through Samarrah and Baahkuba; meanwhile the rest of the [coalition] force will strike the rears of the Iraqi forces fighting in the north near Kirkuk and Mosul. Such an operation would require up to 60,000 troops, no less than 300 tanks and 200 helicopters. It is believed that such forces can be put together by April 15 and by April 18 they should be ready to attack.

Certain available information points to a serious conflict between the coalition command and the US political and military leadership. The [US] Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld - the main planner and lobbyist of the military operation against Iraq - accuses the coalition command and Gen. Tommy Franks personally of being passive and indecisive, which [in Rumsfeld's opinion] led to the lengthening of the conflict and the current dead end situation. In his turn Franks in front of his subordinates calls the Secretary of Defense the "old blabbermouth" and an "adventurist" who dragged the army into the war on the most unfavorable terms possible. However, most [US military] officers believe that both military leaders are responsible for the coalition's military failures. Rumsfeld allowed gross errors during the planning of forces and equipment required for the war, while Franks did not show enough strength to get the right forces and the right training for the troops in this campaign and, in essence, surrendered to the whims of the politicians...

It is entirely possible that the future of this war will see the departure of one of these two commanders. Some reports suggest that Rumsfeld has already proposed to President Bush a change in the coalition command. However, Bush declined this proposal calling it untimely and damaging to the morale of the troops and that of the American people.

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