Iraq in chaos on Saddam anniversary

One year after the capture of Saddam Hussein, the United States seems as far as ever from fulfilling George Bush's promise to stabilise the country.

    Saddam was caught after eight months on the run

    The world's news networks rolled out year-old footage on Monday

    of a

    bedraggled and grubby Saddam being examined by a US army medic shortly after

    being dug out of a hole by US forces.

    But in the United States, the sense of confidence those images intially

    inspired was in short supply.

    Anti-US violence and the troubled

    preparations for elections still scheduled for 30 January now

    dominate US headlines rather than Saddam and moves to bring him to

    trial.

    About 1300 American troops have died in Iraq since the March

    2003 invasion, more than 1000 in combat.

    Seven more US troops were killed in combat in Iraq on Sunday,

    the military announced, and seven Iraqis died in a car

    bombing in Baghdad on Monday - the latest evidence that the job in

    Iraq is far from over.

    A US magazine reported on Sunday that Saddam planned the anti-US

    campaign well before his capture on 13 December last year.

    War crimes charges

    US News and World Report quoted military intelligence as saying

    that in late 2002 Saddam sent more than 1000 security and

    intelligence officials to two military facilities near Baghdad for

    special training.

    Americans also had rare word of their former nemesis in reports

    that he had launched a hunger strike to protest his detention, a

    development firmly denied by the US military.

    Since the 2003 invasion Iraq has
    been convulsed by daily violence

    Saddam faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    He is accused in particular of illegally invading Kuwait, and of massacring thousands of Iraqi Shias and Kurds in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

    Saddam is expected to deny the charges, and his legal team has repeatedly accused the United States of denying

    them access to their client.

    The 67-year-old former president is being held in US custody in

    a secret location in Iraq and has reportedly received recent

    treatment for an enlarged prostate gland, hernia problems and eye

    trouble.

    A year ago, Bush said his capture had been essential for the

    emergence of a free Iraq. He called upon Iraqis to reject violence

    and come together build a new Iraq.

    Iraq reconstruction

    Detaining the ousted Iraqi leader boosted the stock market and

    the dollar, and the price of oil fell.

    Opinion poll support for the Iraq

    war rose and the US public also showed itself more confident that U

    sama bin Ladin would be caught.

    A year later, the US death toll in Iraq increases every day.

    Charges against Saddam

    - Ethnic cleansing of Kurds

    in 1988

    - Gassing Kurds in Halabja in 1988

    - Invasion of Kuwait in 1990

    - Crushing of Kurd and Shia rebellions after 1991 Gulf War

    - Killing political activists over 30 years

    - Massacre of members of the Barzani tribe in 1983

    - Killing of religious leaders in 1974

    Thousands of Iraqis have also lost their lives in that time in

    countless rocket attacks, bombs and the killing of

    individuals

    The United States has ordered an increase of 12,000 in the

    number of troops in Iraq - taking the total to about 150,000 - before

    the elections.

    The Bush administration has also had to admit that the violence has

    held up the reconstruction of Iraq.

    The US army has begun more than 1000 reconstruction projects in Iraq

    but dire security threatens their completion, the US officer in

    charge of rebuilding the war-torn country said on Thursday.

    "Security and reconstruction go hand in hand," said US army

    engineer corps commander Brigadier General Thomas Bostik, who still

    emphasised the importance of the projects to bringing stability to

    Iraq.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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