News Release

Iraq: · Fostering Civil War? · Domestic Disconnect

NIR ROSEN
Available for a limited number of interviews, Rosen has spent a total of two and a half years in Iraq since the invasion; he returns to the Mideast in ten days. His most recent piece is “Hijacking Eid and Hanging Saddam: Timing and Hostile Repartee Creates Further Division,” which notes: “For Sunnis [the important Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha] began on Saturday the 30th of December. For Shias it [began] on Sunday the 31st. According to tradition in Mecca, battles are suspended during the Hajj period so that pilgrims can safely march to Mecca. This practice even predated Islam and Muslims preserved this tradition, calling this period ‘Al Ashur al Hurm,’ or the months of truce.

“By hanging Saddam on the Sunni Eid, the Americans and the Iraqi government were in effect saying that only the Shia Eid had legitimacy. Sunnis were irate that Shia traditions were given primacy (as they are more and more in Iraq these days) and that Shias disrespected the tradition and killed Saddam on this day. Because the Iraqi constitution itself prohibits executions from being carried out on Eid, the Iraqi government had to officially declare that Eid did not begin until Sunday the 31st. It was a striking decision, virtually declaring that Iraq is now a Shia state.”

Rosen is a fellow at the New America Foundation and is author of the book In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq.
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RICHARD FALK
Falk is professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and distinguished visiting professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of more than 20 books; most recently he coauthored the book Crimes of War: Iraq. His most recent piece is “The Flawed Execution of Saddam Hussein.”

Falk said today: “The Iraq policy pursued by the Bush presidency is increasingly unpopular with the American people, enjoying real support from only about 20 percent of the public. Despite this stark political fact, reinforced by the escalating violence and rising body counts in Iraq, the Bush White House gives no sign of changing course on Iraq, even to the limited extent recommended recently by the bipartisan Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, and mandated by the outcome of the American midterm elections in November. It is against this background that the timing of the execution [of Hussein] can be best understood. Bush seems as determined as ever to carry on with the war, and even now seems inclined to increase the number of American troops on the ground in Iraq.”
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The Washington Post reports today: “Democratic leaders set to take control of Congress tomorrow are facing mounting pressure from liberal activists to chart a more confrontational course on Iraq and the issues of human rights and civil liberties, with some even calling for the impeachment of President Bush.

“The carefully calibrated legislative blitz that Democrats have devised for the first 100 hours of power has left some activists worried the passion that swept the party to power in November is already dissipating. A cluster of protesters will greet the new congressional leaders at the Capitol tomorrow. They will not be disgruntled conservatives wary of Democratic control, but liberals demanding a ban on torture, an end to warrantless domestic spying and a restoration of curbed civil liberties.

“The protest will be followed by an evening forum calling for the president’s impeachment, led by the Center for Constitutional Rights, antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan and a pro-impeachment group called World Can’t Wait.” See: “Activists on the Left Applying Pressure to Democratic Leaders: Liberals Seek Bolder Approach to War, Spying.”

A protest will be held at Upper Senate Park (Delaware and Constitution, just north of the Capitol) starting at noon on Thursday, Jan. 4, just as members of Congress are being sworn in.

An evening program will take place Jan. 4, 7 p.m. at the National Press Club, 529 14th Street, N.W., a few blocks from the White House.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167