|Southwest Asia News Digest
Combat Is Not Over in Iraq
Sept. 18 (EIRNS)According to President Obama, the mission of the 50,000 U.S. troops remaining in Iraq is no longer combat, but rather to "advise and assist" the Iraqi security forces in establishing security in Iraq. That this is a lie, has been assumed from many quarters since before Obama made the announcement, but now it comes from an unexpected source: the commander of U.S. special forces in Iraq.
Col. Mark E. Mitchell told the New York Times that raids by U.S. and Iraqi special forces have actually spiked since the Aug. 31 announcement. One of the battles that his troops and other U.S. troops were involved in was an intense firefight in Diyala province, last week, that lasted three days and saw the first U.S. air strike inside Iraq since June 2009.
Reporting on the incident, McClatchy News quotes an Iraqi lieutenant insisting that Iraqi forces were facing no more than 25 insurgents, and yet were completely incapable of handling them without American help. "Three-quarters of our soldiers only care about their salaries. They have no readiness to fight. And to add to it, we have no good command that can plan and lead the army to victory," the lieutenant said.
Obama Administration Divided over U.S. Role in Yemen
Sept. 16 (EIRNS)The New York Times reports that senior U.S. State Department and military officials are deeply divided over plans to counter the growth of al-Qaeda in Yemen, by ramping up the pace and the amount of military aid consisting of weapons and training.
The Obama Administration is also preparing to defend its claimed authority to authorize the assassination of a U.S. citizen abroad, in particular, a radical Muslim cleric in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki. The New York Times reports that the Administration is circulating a draft legal brief with proposed arguments to dismiss the lawsuit challenging the plans to kill al-Awlaki, which was filed by his father. The lawsuit argues that this an extrajudicial (i.e. no grand jury indictment and trial under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments) killing of a U.S. citizen.
The position of the Yemeni government on this, is unclear.
Saudi Diplomat Seeks Asylum in U.S.
Sept. 13 (EIRNS)A Saudi diplomat in Los Angeles reportedly has asked for political asylum in the United States, claiming his life is in danger if he is returned to Saudi Arabia. Ali Ahmad Asseri, the first secretary of the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles, in a letter, also reportedly criticized the role of militant imams in Saudi society. He has threatened to expose what he describes as politically embarrassing information about members of the Saudi royal family, living in luxury in the United States.