Iraq: March 16, 2003


Many of the coalition ground troops in Kuwait are leaving their camps had heading for jumping off positions near the Iraq border. This, as it implies, that operations against Iraq are likely to start shortly. 

There was unrest in southern Iraq during the Shiite Ashura religious ceremonies. Hundreds were arrested by Iraqi secret police, and there were several deaths and many wounded. The incident took place in Karbala, the town containing the most revered Shia shrines.

World opinion is generally against an invasion of Iraq. But reporters getting to Iraqi exiles, refugees and those inside Iraqi (but not near a government "minder") get just the opposite attitude. Most Iraqis ask journalists, "when will the Americans come to free us." It's a strange world.

The US has told Turkey that there is no need for American troops to pass through Turkey. Also, the US has withdrawn the $15 billion aid package offered to the Turks, and has warned the Turks not to send troops into northern Iraq. The Kurds in northern Iraq have threatened to fight any Turkish troops that enter northern Iraq. There are several hundred American troops (mainly Special Forces, plus some CIA people), in northern Iraq. 


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