Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 01, 2007

Kirkuk-Haifa Pipeline Article Was Written in 2003

Juan Cole today highlighted a Haaretz story about a revival of the dormant Kirkuk-Haifa pipeline:

Some in the Pentagon and in Israel have not given up on the hope of a Kirkuk-Haifa pipeline to bring Iraqi petroleum to Israel. Oh, yeah, like that is going to happen. First of all, the Iraqi government's position is that it is bound by Arab League strictures on trade with Israel. Second, Sunni Arab guerrillas would fill such a pipeline full of holes every hour of every day. Third, it almost certainly would not make economic sense even if it were possible politically. Talk about a pipe dream :-). You just worry that this crackpot idea was one of the motives for the Neoconservatives for the Iraq War. What a waste.

An hour ago a Technorati search for pipeline haifa kirkuk came up with 43 blogs. Those I  checked were induced by the Cole multiplier post above. People obviously invested brain and bytes to discuss this recent and relevant development.

Folks, you have been had, just like the good Professor Cole.

The story you point to was published on August 25 2003!

To your credit it wasn't your fault!

Using the link Cole provides, the only date shown on the page is on the top and it is today's date, August 1, 2007.

The URL that is underlying Cole's link is:
Using that link there is only the top date visual on the page at the Haaretz site, August 1, 2007.

But when you click this:
you will see word-by-word the same article, with the same title, by the same author, with the same date on the top of the page, but with one slight difference.

Above the headline at the second link the Haaretz site says:

Last update - 02:51 25/08/2003

Oooppps. The story without the "Last update" Cole linked to is definitely the same 2003 story.

Proof that the story is old:

The National Infrastructure Minister Yosef Paritzky, mentioned in the article was dismissed in July 2004. The story under the August 1 2007 date can not be current. Also proof, the good folks at Common Dreams archived it under a 2003 URL when it was published.

How did this happen?

Check again on the URLs I show above. The difference between those two are the highlighted "amp;" sequences.

The language that codes the usual HTML pages you see in your web-browser, uses special 'tags' for special characters. The tag for the copyright sign © is ©.  The tag for the ampersand sign & is &. Your web-browser converts such tags into the readable letter.

This is a problem with some half assed commenting software, like Haloscan, used by several well traveled blogs, that mixes these up when you copy and paste such special tags within them.


Find a blogging site that uses Haloscan comments like Eschaton. Then:

  • Copy the second link above (with the & tags, both lines)
  • Make a comment at the Haloscan site by clicking on 'comments' (at Eschaton or elsewhere - not here as we use a different system with other bugs)
  • Paste the link into a new comment at the end of the Haloscan window, check for the & and publish it.
  • Go back to that comment, look at it, click on it and check your browser URL line.
  • Now copy that browser URL line into your blog post and you are screwed.

Doing the above the & tags have been converted to simple & characters. For Haaretz links the unwanted conversion done by the Haloscan comment system results into faulty links that do no longer display the publishing date of an article.

Nothing bad or manipulative intended happened here - Cole didn't screw up - he just discovered a bug ....

Maybe the person who sent Cole that link or maybe he himself copied it in a program where the '&' was converted into '&' even though that wasn't in any way intended. (Haloscan isn't the only buggy software in this regard). The result of such a hiccup is in this case a different webpage where the crucial publishing/update date is not shown and only today's date is shown. (Haaretz' webmasters should definitly fix that crude behavior on their site too.)

All that said, the lesson here is to stay alert and not to believe what this or that piece on the web says without some plausible confirmation. You may speculate about such, but do not believe them.

Stay leery folks!

Posted by b on August 1, 2007 at 19:14 UTC | Permalink


Brilliant b.

Posted by: beq | Aug 1 2007 19:28 utc | 1

what would we do w/out you!!

Posted by: annie | Aug 1 2007 20:12 utc | 2

thank you. I was wondering about that. I had a Time magazine article (that I KNEW was written in 2003 or so) come up with today's date as well. Luckily, I knew what the correct date was - or I would've been fooled as well.

Posted by: Mme. LaFarge | Aug 1 2007 20:30 utc | 3

Raw Story still links to the Haaretz article, actually they embed it under their masthead.
I read it there yesterday, and while I didn't recall that I had read it three years ago, it sure did seem familiar. The whole idea of running a very long pipeline across western Iraq, when they can't even keep the much shorter one to Turkey from being sabotaged seemed ridiculous then, as it does now.
What's interesting to speculate is how this thing got resurrected, and why.
Great catch, b.

Posted by: Dick Durata | Aug 1 2007 20:58 utc | 4

Oops, four years ago.

Posted by: Dick Durata | Aug 1 2007 20:59 utc | 5

Yes, Brilliant is the correct word. Thanks again b

Posted by: Rick | Aug 1 2007 22:14 utc | 6

Yes, b, not only super HTML sleuthing, but you have, time and again, proven yourself to be a great investigative reporter.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 2 2007 2:02 utc | 7

Still the question: why was this revived. Remember Cole was pro-war, and was the initiator of educating us all about the Sunni/Shia divide well before there was one -- when 40% of all marriages were between the sects (almost an even 50%). Seems to me, Cole was surreptitiously pushing the divide and conquer meme, which our beloved slothrop has fallen so deeply for. I watch carefully what he is pushing. He seems to be a "normalizer" of empire to me.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 2 2007 2:08 utc | 8


Often I see Juan Cole as just too ingrained with the establishment. Billmon also sufferred from this at times, although to a far lesser degree. Bernhard's fresh insight is a blessing.

Posted by: Rick | Aug 2 2007 3:31 utc | 9


when you find the decisive genealogy of iraqi comity, you let me know.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 2 2007 3:44 utc | 10

Often I see Juan Cole as just too ingrained with the establishment. Billmon also sufferred from this at times, although to a far lesser degree. Bernhard's fresh insight is a blessing.

Totally agree rick, on both points. Thanks for saying so.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 2 2007 4:13 utc | 11

when you find the decisive genealogy of iraqi comity, you let me know.

Bend over, slothrop, and I'll look for it. Ba da boom! (They don't call it the "seat of civilization" for nothing.)

(Oh, yeah, I know, the Arabs are subhuman brutes and troglodytes who have been killing each other back and forth forever, since time immemorial, in a manner which makes the white McCoys and Hatfields look civilized. Thank God us civilized white people here in the US don't kill each other like savages. Where would I be without slothrop to remind me of this daily?)

sloth, why do you always discount the ability of empire to create dissent where there was previously relative harmony; to divide and conquer, through holding the populace hostage economically, and through sheer "El Salvador Option" brutality, mayhem, and murder? Why is what is so clear to everyone else here at MoA so opaque to you? (You can answer in more than the usual 3 words if you like. What was becoming of Calvin Coolidge comes across as lack of precision and clarity when you employ brevity.)

Yes, Rick. Oddly enough, despite his feigned inscrutable Marxism, slothrop relies far too much, and far too uncritically, on establishment sources, too -- generally leading to faulty analysis.

Everyone has their own personality, their own strengths and weaknesses. Billmon was an uncommonly fine and entertaining writer, unparalleled in his use of mordant sarcasm and in finding the telling prior reference to impeach a source. He treated us to uniquely trenchant economic and financial analysis, and he had a way of contextualizing events within the greater stream of history. B has proven to have a steadier hand on the tiller, is less personally troubled by the swells and sloughs of public opinion, employs his sharp eye for technical detail in finding unknown veins worthy of our investigation, and most importantly for me, I apprecciate his unwavering commitment to treating each human, regardless of who they are or where they come from, equally.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 2 2007 5:05 utc | 12

Cole is still a valued analyst. Billmon was an invaluable analyst and, blessed be to b, is still sorely missed, at least by me.
'Ingrained with the establishment' is bullshit criticism. I disagree on both points.

Posted by: Dick Durata | Aug 2 2007 5:15 utc | 13

Dick Duranta,

The "Establishment" and the "Elite" are two different animals. And I value Cole's comments very much.

Posted by: Rick | Aug 2 2007 5:22 utc | 14

Sorry, didn't not mean to spell Durata wrong.
It's getting late here for me.

Posted by: Rick | Aug 2 2007 5:27 utc | 15

#15 -hey, same with the double negatives of mine - a mistake by a tired soul.

Posted by: Rick | Aug 2 2007 5:29 utc | 16

Cole was pro-war? Got links?

Posted by: Beefmother | Aug 2 2007 6:20 utc | 17

In honor of our billmon: A classic scene in cinema history; where ever he may be...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 2 2007 6:28 utc | 18

...and most importantly for me, I apprecciate his unwavering commitment to treating each human, regardless of who they are or where they come from, equally.

I second that. I'd like to offer a toast to Bernhard in gratitude for all that he does and makes possible for us here.

Bartender, a bottle of chilled, dry chamagne with glasses for all...

Posted by: Bea | Aug 2 2007 6:41 utc | 19

Make that *champagne* ...

Posted by: Bea | Aug 2 2007 6:42 utc | 20

Yeah bea, too bad this isn't international, cause I'd be the first in line to buy our B a drink

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 2 2007 7:02 utc | 21

Hello. I am contacting conservative bloggers around the country since I am one as well. I hope this email is not an intrusion.

Anyway, I would like it very much if you would go to
and vote for me for best political blog and best overall blog as well, IF AND ONLY IF you feel my blog is of a high quality. I really think I have a legitimate shot at winning. If you are open to spreading the word, that would be cool as well.

Thank you.

eric aka

P.S. If you are open to doing a link exchange, I get some pretty decent traffic.

Posted by: eric | Aug 2 2007 7:37 utc | 22

don't bother checking out eric's site folks. looks like he is a LGF wannabe.

Posted by: dan of steele | Aug 2 2007 8:05 utc | 23

@eric - I am contacting conservative bloggers around the country

So why do you post here?

Posted by: b | Aug 2 2007 8:07 utc | 24

@Beefmother 17:

You are right to be skeptical. I apparently misremembered. Cole was in favor of the Afghanistan war, and was in favor of removing Saddam, but he had a bad feeling about invading Iraq. He asks:

"What will happen if US bombs damage the Shiite shrines, the holiest places for 100 million Shiite Muslims in Lebanon, Iran, Pakistan, India, Bahrain? What will happen if there is a riot in a shrine city like Karbala and US marines put it down by killing rioters? Do we want 100 million Shiites angry at us again?

proving that you can managed the lobster's expectations and reactions by turning up the heat slowly.

This little gem from his first month should engender a rueful laugh:

If the recent rise in prices to around $28 a barrel is in fact mainly a result of speculation in the hedge markets and based upon a strong likelihood that Bush will go to war against Iraq, it may mean that the administration is shooting itself in the foot politically. The rise in prices has badly hurt the stock market and could contribute to a lengthening economic malaise...

28 Bucks a barrel? Oil was cheap enough to burn back then.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 2 2007 9:36 utc | 25

i would just like to say it disturbs me when people refer to billmon in the past tense.

i miss him.

Posted by: annie | Aug 2 2007 14:37 utc | 26

there is no support for your claims malooga in any history of iraq i'm aware of. if any colonialist used divide and rule in iraq, it would be the ottomans who for centuries largely excluded shia arabs, kurds, others from power. as for the british, they inherited the ottoman model and employed sharifian elites to manage the mandate. for the britiosh, iraq was not uganda. the monarchy reproduced the administrative hierarchy. generally, the factionalism of iraq's tribal politics often precluded viable democratic nationalism, with the exception of the iraq communist party.

the only incidental support for your argument wrt occupation is the decision by bremer to require the interim government to reflect the demographic reality of iraq. this attempt was undermined by debaathification and institutional collapse. there is simply no proof i've found that bremer of the pentagon sought, as a principle of occupation, to create civil war. nor is their any support for the view bremer et al. surreptitiously pursued a policy of partition. the strong federalism of the constitution was supported by sciri and the kurds among others, not occupation authorities per se.

i once thought w/ good reason the occupation wanted all along to partition iraq. there is a defacto partition of the country because of civil war, and there was and is support for partition in the foreign policy establishment. but the pentagon ran the show, and they desired otherwise.

but, malooga, you can probably refute all of this by incantatory reference to "chomsky" or some other employment of wishful thinking you believe to be your various truths about everything. it's clear to me, reading your stuff over the years, your superhuman outrage is rarely submitted to the honor of facts.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 2 2007 15:56 utc | 27


slothrop suffers from what we once use to call in the old days - 'using the red flag to attacke the red flag'

so i wouldn't worry too much - sloth's sources seem to be exactly the same as william kristols. the 'fact's that slothrop brings could have been brought by any murdoch mendiant on the payroll anywhere where his filth flourishes

whether it is slolthrop or william kristol - you'd think it was a happy ol time over there except for the savages - whp are evidently without culture or sense

i remember slothrop mirrored kristol at the beginning - when he too suggested that the dead enders, the foreign fighters etc would be liquidated & it would fall in the face of mighty american power. that anyone here suggested a national character to the resistance was beyond the pale for sloth

& now history is telling him - that his mighty american power is on its knees - militarily & politically

& when our sloth approaches an apology it is in the form of the recent apologists - who call this war a bit of a blunder - those who cannot see the might inhumanity that is at the very core of the u s empire

but again & again what is the most worrying for me - is that in the stlye of a murdochian mendiant - the iraqi people & their loss & suffering - are nowhere to be seen - in the so-called 'facts' that he brings

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 2 2007 16:44 utc | 28

& of course b has been kind enough to link on the fron page to iraq today & i would have thought there were enough facts there for even a savant like sloth to be sated

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 2 2007 16:51 utc | 29

there is plenty of evidence that the invasion of Iraq was intended to weaken Iraq & to strip it of its role as a powerful Mid-East country. And there's a a number of tactics towards this. One of which was to exploit sectarian contention whereever possible or create it if need be. Also, from the colonizers standpoint, unending sectarian strife is actually more beneficial than a partition.

and one interesting thing about USA's "divide & rule" strategy in Iraq is how it played into the hands of the Baathists who have used the horror of the resulting violent sectarian divide to persuade Iraqi's towards a nationalist solution.

Still for now, it is an absolute fact that Iraq today is far far more sectarian than before the invasion. That is a bottom line.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Aug 2 2007 16:51 utc | 30


you believe what you want, of course. but you'll not find knowledgeable accounts--i haven't found them anyway--supporting your claim.


you've become an effete slander machine. wtf happened?

there are many very good histories i have linked to before:

Graham E. Fuller and Rend Rahim Francke, The Arab Shia: The Forgotten Muslims, New York: Saint Martin's Press, 1999.

Juan Cole, Sacred Space And Holy War: The Politics, Culture and History of Shi'ite Islam

CHARLES TRIPP, A HISTORY OF IRAQ (2nd ed., 2002). London: CUP









and scores of peer reviewed journal articles. none of them support your claims, jony.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 2 2007 17:21 utc | 31


i was always taught close reading & you do not seem to have done that in the case of rosen nor of either of the cockburn brothers. in fact i'd suggest you are very economic with the truth on this issue

i wouldn't read allawi or suskind in a blue fit in whatever state i find myself

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 2 2007 17:38 utc | 32

the tripp is a joke

as far as i know mr nasr is very close to the seat of power

& the only book there that i have not read & would like to is the imperial life - but i imagine it is very anecdotal & wouldn't expect a great deal from a scribbler form the washington post but i will attempt to get it

otherwise i suggest you expand either your bibliography or your familiarity with the facts

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 2 2007 17:42 utc | 33

i wouldn't read

of course not.

and the things you claim to read, you have not. and next time i catch you, i'll give notice.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 2 2007 19:04 utc | 34

from p. cockburn:

Inside Iraq the regime was eager to co-opt or divide the Shia clergy. From 1998 they were allowed to carry out their religious ceremonies in Shia cities so long as these were kept within bounds. It gave some leeway to Ayatollah Muhammad Sadeq alSadr, the nephew of the Ayatollah executed in 1980. The aim was to try to drive a wedge between the Shia leaders in Iraq and those in exile. Saddam also wanted to emphasize the differences between clergy who were Iranian by birth like al-Khoie or Ali al-Sistani, al-Khoie's former student and effectively his successor, and those that were Iraqi Arabs like the al-Sadds. The regime hoped Muhammad Sadeq al-Sadr would be a counterweight to the existing Shia religious establishment. He was free to criticize Iran, sanctions and even aspects of the current regime but not Saddam Hussein himself. From the point of view of the Iraqi leader this strategy was always playing with fire. Thousands of pious and enthusiastic followers attended al-Sadr's sermons. He wrapped himself in white martyr's robes as a man expecting death. It was a grim if sensible precaution. In February 1999 I got a telephone call from the al-Khoie Foundation. A voice said that Muhammad Sadeq al-Sadr and two of his sons had been killed. On a Friday evening the Ayatollah had left evening prayers in Najaf with his sons but as their car approached a nearby roundabout it was ambushed by gunmen. Caught in crossfire, all the men in the vehicle were killed. Few doubted that the assassins were Saddam's security forces. As news spread of his murder there were hots across southern Iraq and in Saddam City in Baghdad, all of which were ruthlessly suppressed.

Iraqi opponents of Saddam Hussein were inclined to underestimate the extent to which their country was divided by deep sectarian or ethnic fault lines. They would point out that Iraqi tribes often included both Shia and Sunni. There was frequent intermarriage between Shia and Sunni. Communities were not monolithic, as in the case of Roman Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland or Christians and Muslims in Lebanon. But the secular intelligentsia which had fled abroad in the 1970s did not appreciate the degree to which the Iraq had changed since their departure. The secular middle class which stayed in Iraq, often employed by the government, had been progressively destroyed by the effect of war and sanctions. It was a lesson which Paul Bremer, the CPA and its successors took a long time to learn. The sort of educated middle class, yearning for an American or Western European standard and style of living, which was important in Moscow after the fall of Communism, scarcely existed in post-Saddam Baghdad.

There was a further compelling motive among the opposition in downplaying religious sectarianism in Iraq. The Shia leaders knew that a reason why the US-led coalition had not overthrown Saddam Hussein in 1991 was the fear that he would be replaced by a Shia regime allied to Iran. American soldiers entering Iraq had been appalled to discover numerous posters of Ayatollah Khomeini pasted on to walls by the anti-Saddam rebels. In fact the posters were of Grand Ayatollah a1-Khoie, but to US officers one elderly Shia clergyman with a white beard and a turban looked much like another. After the crushing of the uprising of 1991 opponents of Saddam by and large came to realize that the only certain way to get rid of the regime in Baghdad was for the US to launch a second war against it - and this time go all the way to Baghdad. The Americans were not [93] likely to do so if they knew the main beneficiary of Saddam's overthrow was going to be the Shia allies of the Iranian regime. A number of arguments, none of them untrue but often overstressed, were made to pacify Washington's fears. It was emphasized that the Shia clergy were theologically more quietist than in Iran and they opposed direct clerical rule. The Iraqi infantry which fought Iran to a stalemate in the 1980s was mainly Shia, though the officers were predominantly Sunni. This proved the Shia were not stooges of Iran. There was a traditional hostility between Najaf, for a thousand years the centre of Shia learning, and the Iranian holy city of Qom, which only became a theological rival to the Iraqi city in the 1920s. The result of such special pleading was that the US did not understand in 2003 the extent to which Iraq - and this was true of both Shia and Sunni-was a highly religious country. An Iraqi friend said to me: `Iranians are a secular people with a religious leadership while Iraqis are a religious people with a secular leadership.' He exaggerated a little in order to produce a neat epigram, but he was largely correct. All the while Washington remained curiously under-informed about internal Iraqi politics. In the last years of the Clinton administration some of his senior Middle East advisers attended a meeting in Kuwait, the purpose of which was to ratchet up pressure on Saddam Hussein. `What about taking advantage of the hots and disturbances following the assassination of Muhammad Sadeq al-Sadr,' asked one Kuwaiti. The Iraqi dissidents present were astonished when the Americans at the meeting looked surprised and admitted that they had never heard of al-Sadr or the popular unrest - the most significant in Iraq since the uprising in 1991 - following his death.

Exaggerating the influence of secular Iraqi leaders and underestimating that of the religious leaders was to be a recurrent theme of the US occupation. When it supposedly handed over sovereignty in June 2004 Washington backed Iyad Allawi, the former Baathist and leader of the Iraqi National Accord, as [94] interim prime minister. It was only after Allawi and Ahmed Chalabi did so badly in the election on December 15 2005 (Chalabi did not win a single seat) that the US seems to have appreciated the weakness of the secular anti-Saddam leadership which it had cultivated for so long.

hmmm. no support there.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 2 2007 19:06 utc | 35

the recent apologists - who call this war a bit of a blunder

apologist robert fisk:

IN HIS LAST HOURS as U.S. proconsul in Baghdad in the summer Of 2004, Paul Bremer decided to tighten up some of the laws that his occupation authority had placed across the land of Iraq. He drafted a new piece of legislation, forbidding Iraqi motorists to drive with only one hand on the wheel. Another document solemnly announced that it would henceforth be a crime for Iraqis to sound their car horns except in an emergency. That same day, while Bremer fretted about the standards of Iraqi driving, three American soldiers were torn apart by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad, one of more than sixty attacks on U.S. forces over the same weekend.

It would be difficult to find a more preposterous-and distressing-symbol of Bremer's failures, his hopeless inability to understand the nature of the de- [1028] bacle which he and his hopeless occupation authority had brought about. It was not that the old Coalition Provisional Authority-now transmogrified into a 3,000strong U.S. embassy, the largest in the world-was out of touch. It didn't even live on planet Earth. Bremer's last starring moment came when he departed Baghdad on a U.S. military aircraft, two U.S.-paid mercenaries-rifles pointed menacingly at camera crews and walking backwards-protecting him until the cabin door closed. And Bremer, remember, was appointed to his job because he was an "antiterrorist" expert.

wow. no help there.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 2 2007 19:25 utc | 36

nir rosen:

It was the first Friday after Ramadan, and Sumaidai had spent most of his sermon urging his flock not to be devout merely on Ramadan, but to continue on the path of piety all year long. It was time to celebrate Eid, the end of Ramadan. I was tired of my friends restricting our excursions out of fear for my safety, and demanded that we return to al-Rubai Street, where eighteen months earlier a police officer had been assassinated in front of me. The street was now closed so that families could congregate in its shops and stroll undisturbed. Hundreds of policemen stood guard and mingled with the crowds. They found a child who had been separated from his parents and had them paged on loudspeakers. Children squealed in an ancient amusement park, Young boys with drums danced and sang. They set off loud firecrackers, and I winced with each burst, uncertain of what would follow.

The United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), the dominant Shia list known as 555 for its number on the ballot, swept Iraqi elections on December 15, 2005, but still needed to ally with either Sunni or Kurdish parties to form an absolute majority that would allow it to establish a government. SCIRI favored an alliance with the federalist Kurds, opposing any deals with the Sunnis, and offered one of its own for the position of prime minister.
Moqtada supported the incumbent prime minister, Jafaari of Dawa, for the position, and also favored an alliance with the Sunni Islamist parties. He opposed the more secular, former Baathist parties, calling the participation of Ayad Allawi a deal breaker. Moqtada even criticized SCIRI for negotiating with the Kurds, but at least for now the battles were still political. Allawi and his party were hated by Moqtada's men both for having former Baathists in their ranks and because Allawi had asked the Americans to battle Moqtada in the spring and summer of 2004. Moqtada preferred talking with the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party and the Iraqi Accord Front.

Other divisions in the UIAbegan to show when SCIRI's Abdel Aziz al-Hakim publicly ruled out making changes to the constitution, infuriating the Sunnis and increasing sectarian tensions. Moqtada, a dangerous thug, was now the only bridge between Iraq's Shias and Sunnis. He may have opposed the Baathists, but he had established an excellent working relationship with radical Sunnis since the fall of Baghdad, and like them he demanded a centralized Iraq, perhaps in part because he had so much support in Baghdad. Once the most divisive figure in Iraqi politics, Moqtada had become the only one capable of halting the civil war. The choice seemed to be between civil war and a government of radical Islamists.

Iraq's Shias were triumphant, knowing that Iraq was now theirs and could not be taken away from them (except by the Americans). There was no threat of Sunnis retaking the country, because they had never taken it before; they had been given it, first by the Ottomans and then by the British. Iraq's Sunnis view all Shias as Iranians or Persians and refuse to recognize that Shias are the majority or that Shias had been singled out for persecution under Saddam.

Attacks against Shia civilians have done nothing to weaken their increasing power in Iraq, validated by the January 2005 elections. Throughout the region sectarian tensions have begun to increase. Sunnis in Jordan and Saudi Arabia are threatened by the Shia renaissance in Iraq. In December 2004, Jordan's King Abdallah warned of a "Shia crescent" from Lebanon to Iraq to Iran that would destabilize the entire region. Iraq's Shias, in turn, have demonstrated against Jordan, condemning that country for the steady trickle of suicide bombers who cross into Iraq and commit atrocities against Shia civilians.

In September 2005, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal warned that a civil war in Iraq would destabilize the entire region and complained that the Americans had handed Iraq over to Iran [246] for no reason. In response, Bayan Jabr, Iraq's Interior Minister, called the Saudi Foreign Minister a "Bedouin riding a camel" and described Saudi Arabia as a one-family dictatorship. Jabr, who had commanded the Badr Corps, also condemned Saudi human rights abuses, particularly the repression of Saudi Arabia's approximately 2 million Shias and Saudi Arabia's treatment of its women.

In Saudi Arabia, home of Wahhabi Islam, Shias are known as rafida, or "rejectionists." A highly pejorative term, it means that Shias are outside Islam. To Shias it is the equivalent of being called "nigger." Zarqawi uses the word to describe Shias, as do many other Sunni radicals in the region. Saudi Arabia's Shias have been persecuted, prevented from celebrating their festivals, and occasionally threatened with extermination. Saudi Arabia is also the main exporter of foreign fighters to the Iraqi Jihad to fight both the Americans and the Shia "collaborators."

As in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, a regional sectarian war is being fought in Iraq, with Jordan and Saudi Arabia providing support for Sunni violence in order to give Iraq's Sunnis more political leverage. Iran, of course, is supporting its client SCIRI, perhaps even funding it, as SCIRI wages war against Sunnis.

damn. nothing, jony.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 2 2007 19:37 utc | 37

The Iraq- Haifa pipeline died in 1948 if not before. By now there is nothing left, I guess. One of Chalabi’s promises before the invasion (03) was to, err, get it up to speed. Hype and fantasy imho, but pleasing to certain ears.

From Salon (04):

Zell, a Jerusalem attorney, continues to be a partner in the firm that Feith left in 2001 to take the Pentagon job. He also helped Ahmed Chalabi's nephew Salem set up a new law office in Baghdad in late 2003. Chalabi met with Zell and other neoconservatives many times from the mid-1990s on in London, Turkey, and the U.S. Zell outlines what Chalabi was promising the neocons before the Iraq war: "He said he would end Iraq's boycott of trade with Israel, and would allow Israeli companies to do business there. He said [the new Iraqi government] would agree to rebuild the pipeline from Mosul [in the northern Iraqi oil fields] to Haifa [the Israeli port, and the location of a major refinery]." But Chalabi, Zell says, has delivered on none of them. The bitter ex-Chalabi backer believes his former friend's moves were a deliberate bait and switch designed to win support for his designs to return to Iraq and run the country.>salon

See also Moon of A, 05:>moon

Posted by: Noirette | Aug 2 2007 20:11 utc | 38

its not clear how Saddams oppression of the Shia, or the Saudi's disdainful treatment of their Shia or the favoring of the Sunni by the Ottomans/British can be employed to explain todays ongoing bloody sectarian carnage in Iraq, as unleashed by the USA invasion.

We'll never know what would have happened had the Iraqi's been left to resolve their internal issues themselves. However, what the USA invasion has brought on Iraq is clearly on the outer fringe of the domain of potential outcomes -- we now have close to a million unnecessary deaths, four million fled from their homes, a total breakdown of security ...

also, what efforts has USA made to date, to improve the treatment of Saudi Shia by its close buddy - the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ?

the Iraqi's themselves blame the invasion far more than they blame sectarian differences for the devastation they are enduring. The Iraqi's could possibly be completely wrong about their own country & history but wheres the proof.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Aug 2 2007 20:38 utc | 39

Guardian, Apr. 2003: Israel seeks pipeline for Iraqi oil,2763,940250,00.html>link

Asia Times, Apr. 2003: In the pipeline: More regime change

Israel is seriously considering restarting a strategically important oil pipeline that once transferred oil from the Iraqi city of Mosul to Israel's northern port of Haifa. Given the Israeli claim of a positive US approach to the plan..>link

The Hindu, Apr. 2003: Israel eyes Iraqi pipeline project>link

Persistance! ::

Haaretz, *Aug* 2003: U.S. checking possibility of pumping oil from northern Iraq to Haifa, via Jordan>link

Posted by: Noirette | Aug 2 2007 20:38 utc | 40


the point is there is no proof afaik, beyond confident announcements from malooga, the US intended civil war.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 2 2007 20:57 utc | 41

ô slothrop

stop misbehaving like an undergraduate

call me out any time you want. but your ignorance or contempt of the death indeed genocide of the people of iraq are public record here. your consistant & conscious refusal to deal with the physical crimes of the empire in iraq have been repeated from our first rencontre & i have not read one, not one post of yours that takes into the scheme of things - the murder of iraq & its people

& it is the most telling of your many absences because the crimes, the hideous crimes of this empire are central ro its project

& it is clear you do not want to be confronted by that

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 2 2007 22:12 utc | 42

there are many crimes of empire, but not one of them is the intention of US to start a civil war. no one has offered evidence supporting maloogas's claim, least of all malooga.

it seems important for a certain kind of leftist to lie to herself on this score if the belief is generally that no US or western intervention in iraq would have assured equanimous transition to a post-saddam iraq. the history shows otherwise for those who care to know.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 2 2007 23:41 utc | 43

perhaps i have not said this in clear enough words

it is totally preposterous to me that a person can presume they are 'leftist' or indeed 'marxist' & suggest the state of things that slothrop does

i cannot imagine in this world or the next - a marxist or a leftist

- that supports the invasion of a sovereign nation
- that offers this support for 'humanitarian' reasons
- who with great deliveration demonises the resistance of that soverign nation
- who seems totally unaware of the culture or the history of that nation
- who ignores the fate, the physical fate of the citizens of that sovereign nation
- who excludes from their discourse any mention of those citizens except as 'beheaders-to-become'
- who ignores completely & again in full conscience the empire's economic imperatives (then hides the particular, the details & the real facts behind a general theory of capital that is itself impoverished in the face of late u s imperialism

there is no leftist critique in sloths arguments anymore - he has totally swallowed the whole hook - of the neocon fabulations & i think it could be asserted that the shifts & changes in sloths arguments - tho they may come from the other side of the fence - mirror exactly the shifts & changes of a william kristol or a richard perle

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 3 2007 0:26 utc | 44

i never supported the invasion, but have honestly tried to question what realistic mechanisms exist or could to intervene in the events of sovereign nations in a world in which sovereignty is increasingly arbitrary and meaningless.

i don't "demonize" the "resistance" but have made the effort to understand the diversity of opposition w/out clumsily insisting "iraqis" are some monolithic entity struggling against occupation. i work w/ the facts while you embrace a fantasy, a fantasy which i think is borderline racist

your other points are just fucking nonsense.

as for the last point, my marxism i think has been honest enough to unravel the political economy of this war--a complexity and explanation which will never surpass the resilience of your doctrinaire politics finding in all things only the ubiquitous evil of "america," and maybe a pinch of andreotti when you feel cosmopolitan.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 3 2007 1:14 utc | 45

thou dost protest in vain defeat--surrendering control to agent slothrop!

Posted by: liz | Aug 3 2007 2:31 utc | 46


first of all I am a male. My comment at #12 should have made that clear, if all the personal posts over the years mysteriously haven't.

Second of all, remember the two Brits picked up in Arab dress in Basra at a roadblock several years ago -- with the boot of their car filled with bombs. The Brits were so anxious to get these guys back that they bulldozed the whole jail. Of course, they couldn't have been sowing division with all those bombs, no, they were probably Christmas presents.


I'm glad that r'giap is able to refute your endless pages of tangential words far better than I can.

But I want to make something very clear: After the way you purposely sabotaged the experimental Bookchin thread (which was not on this blog proper) with your irrelevant snipes, a thread which was really important to me, and where I felt some real learning was going on -- indeed the only attempt to try something like that off of this blog. After you sabotaged that thread with your stinky little juvenile ad hominems, I decided to never take you seriously, or waste my time engaging you at any level. Why b puts up with such intentional destructiveness is beyond me. But I have no intention on wasting my time with a cyber-creep when there is so much important work to be done in the real world.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 3 2007 5:17 utc | 47

Chiming in.

I have recently been dealing with helping a close friend who has recently succumbed to a long-time addiction to smoking some terrible crap.

My friend, a successful well-educated fellow, falls into the same behavior that our friend slothrop has done.

His addiction controls his behaviour to the point that you cannot even waste the time to pay attention. They are selling things we have no interest in buying.

I enjoy his moniker, it is the name of the main character in the novel Gravity's Rainbow written by Thomas Pyncon back in the 1950s or so. In that book slothrop is a soldier with a life in New York after the war and a life during the 2nd World War as a sergeant leading his American troops through a series of incidents where they are not so much combatants as lucky conquerors.

So slothrop is named after a character in a novel.

I have followed this cast of characters for about 2 or 3 years and saw slothrop take refuge in the socialist robes of rememberinggiap. And rememberringgiap sheltered slothrop for slothrop's attempts at Marxist rhretoric. I gave slothrop a lot of rope then too, waiting for the big words and long sentences to make some sense.

Rememberinggiap my friend, I am sorry that slothrop's verbiage distracted me from paying attention to your own words.

I know that it is all a matter of taste and in such a symposium as this we should all have the opportunity to have our say,

So slothrop, if you are high quit smoking that stuff. And if you are sober, you haven't convinced me yet. Try studying logic and maybe a course in media studies. I still have hope for you even though I ignore your posts.

As should we all.

Posted by: jonku | Aug 3 2007 8:50 utc | 48

oh, the bookchin thread was fun! go back and look. you'll notice it was you, malooga, you whiny little prick, who first dug in w/ the personal attacks.

it's a shame for you, you come here for praise and defense of a goddamned virtual identity. I'm sorry i haven't offered sufficient respect for your great mind.

btw. apropos: this lie you repeat about US seeking civil war is it seems a lie based doomed by facts. i wasn't aware we should attend moa to circulate lies in the effort to be respected anonymously.


Posted by: slothrop | Aug 3 2007 15:08 utc | 49

In that book slothrop is a soldier with a life in New York after the war and a life during the 2nd World War as a sergeant leading his American troops through a series of incidents where they are not so much combatants as lucky conquerors.

uh, what book is that?


Posted by: slothrop | Aug 3 2007 15:11 utc | 50

@sloth 49 this lie you repeat about US seeking civil war is it seems a lie based doomed by facts.

Ioz has the best answer I can think of - FACTS.

So. To keep score. The United States is supporting: the Shia government, which funnels money and arms to Shia militias, death squads, and insurgent/terrorist groups; the Sunni opposition, which funnels money and arms to the Sunni insurgency; the Sunni insurgency directly, so that they will combat the Shia militias as well as al-Qaeda in Iraq, a group of Sunni terrorists supposedly supported by Shia Iran; the Saudis, who fund Sunni insurgents as well--almost surely--as Sunni terrorist groups; the Iraqi Kurds, who have their sights set on an independent nation that includes a de-Arabized Kirkuk; and the Turks, who have their sights set on never, ever seeing an independent Kurdish entity anywhere, anyhow, anyway, ever, amen.
But according to slothrop, the US is not even seeking a civil war in Iraq, certainly not an all out war in the Middle East - no way ...

Posted by: b | Aug 3 2007 18:17 utc | 51


Omygod! slothrop has morphed into a Christian Marxist!

By the way, my "virtual identity" has always been far less virtual than yours.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 3 2007 18:43 utc | 52

malooga, i would be very interested in reading the article

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 3 2007 19:03 utc | 53

what is described there is a clusterfuck, for sure. there's just no evidence any of this is coordinated by a policy encouraging civil war. seriously, has anyone found any credible argument defending the creation of a civil war in iraq? preposterous. no way doing so helps anyone, least of all the US.

the only explanation i can come up wrt to "ioz" chain of causation is:

-none of the factions must obtain a position of dominance. doing so would completely undermine the fading possibility of a unified iraq

-iran is the actor in this that gains more in abetting shia domination, but not at the expense of iraq's dissoplution

-the kirkuk problem will only be magnified if the kurds emerge as a dominant defender of their sectarian interests, undermining iraq's stability

-pacifying whatever provably exists as an islamist threat to iraq's nat'l integrity requires recruitment of indigenous counter-insurgency which the western sunnis seem eager to provide.

-i see no evidence, except for jihadists, that iraq's dissolution is advantageous for anyone.

-so, two ways to avoid complete collapse are 1)disarmament and reconciliation; 2) force stalemate and longterm attempts at political reconciliation.

so, "ioz" inference is sloppy w/out the benefit of some other proof.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 3 2007 19:03 utc | 54

the bookchin thread was a good one. i wish there was more of that here.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 3 2007 19:06 utc | 55

sometimes slothrop i do not know what you are looking at - mad maps, bad books - or a malevolant media

that is to say - what you are suggesting is not on offer in the reality of iraq & you know it

it is not on offer because iraq was illegally invaded & is illegally occupied. that is the causal relation behind everything & i mean everything

my position is clear. i want the us out now! today!
their every gesture is harmful. their every strategy an obscenity

& i will say what i sd to you three years ago sloth - if the us does not do that she will be defeated militarily in such a humiliating way that it will make the ridiculous escape from saigon, look like victory

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 3 2007 19:19 utc | 56

sometimes slothrop i do not know what you are looking at - mad maps, bad books - or a malevolant media

that is to say - what you are suggesting is not on offer in the reality of iraq & you know it

it is not on offer because iraq was illegally invaded & is illegally occupied. that is the causal relation behind everything & i mean everything

my position is clear. i want the us out now! today!
their every gesture is harmful. their every strategy an obscenity

& i will say what i sd to you three years ago sloth - if the us does not do that she will be defeated militarily in such a humiliating way that it will make the ridiculous escape from saigon, look like victory

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 3 2007 19:20 utc | 57

well, at last we agree.

US out.

but, i doubt seriously even malooga would make that call if he was pushing the buttons.

there simply must be some int'l coordination of force to contain the spread of violence. a vacuum will ignite a real catastrophe across the region.

parlous days.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 3 2007 19:32 utc | 58

i don't know if you have noticed, but there exists today across the regions spreading from beirut to jakarta - a catastrophe

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 3 2007 20:44 utc | 59

US out.

Take away all buttons from button-pushers.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 4 2007 5:31 utc | 60


Posted by: rdtyugyi | Jan 5 2008 2:46 utc | 61

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