Saturday, August 04, 2007

Cold winds blowing

Joshua Landis of the well-known and well-regarded blog and the University of Oklahoma reflects on the potential scope of the recent Bush executive order freezing the assets of persons deemed to be undermining the Siniora regime in Lebanon, in the light of his own recent experiences. He writes:
Comment by JL: In the comment section of the last post, several readers remarked that the wording of this executive order was broad enough and ill-defined enough that it could easily be used to harass journalists and perhaps even bloggers. Some readers suggested this was nonsense, placing their faith in US authorities to respect freedom of speech.

I will recount a personal anecdote that reflects on this. On my return from my last two trips out of the United States, I have been stopped by Homeland Security at the exit ramp of the airplane and retained for four hours or so of interviews and security checks, while notification was sought from authorities in Washington to see if I could be released, causing me to miss my onward flights. My calling cards, contents of my wallet, and personal papers were scanned to add to my computer files. My luggage was also screened for indications of who I had met and what I had done.

Why has my name on the security-threat list? The only conclusion I could come to is that one of my many admirers in Washington had placed me there in order to amuse themselves. When I inquired how I might get my name removed from the list, I was told to have "my lawyer" make inquiries at a Washington address. My hunch is that this would be an exercise in futility even if I were to retain a lawyer. Homeland Security is under no legal obligation to release the reason for which I was replaced on the list. I will have to play the Syrian game of figuring out who I know in the security apparatuses of Washington who might have access to my files and can help to clear up the matter. Security services seem to be surprisingly similar on both sides of the Atlantic.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your ordeal at the airport, Badger. In case you're interested in some more background information about the recently cancelled Iraqi opposition (resistance) conference in Damascus, the 2005 Beirut Symposium recently mentioned by A. Al-Kalemji, and the so-called Political Office of the Iraqi Resistance etc, I'd like to draw your attention to an important article by Saad Daoud K. posted on yesteday at 06.20pm. The title translates as 'Some of what needs to be said: observations on the subject of the (resistance)front'. Salah Al-Mukhtar also posted some observations on immediately after the conference was cancelled (which also appeared on the iraq4ever blog).

6:34 AM  
Blogger badger said...

Thanks for the references, I'm going to read those. Btw it wasn't me involved in the airport ordeals, I was just reporting what Josh Landis said he had been put through.

7:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry - that's what comes of scanning your posts in haste from my desk at work!

8:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been offline for a while and now see this and am confused. I thought this Bush order had been issued relative to anyone who undermines the government of Iraq. Has a similar order now been issued with respect to Lebanon as well? Any other countries any one knows of?

This is pretty horrific stuff.

8:50 AM  
Blogger badger said...

Yes, Lebanon too! Here's a link to a report of the announcement. Pretty soon we'll need Brookings expert analysts to keep track of these things

9:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Badger, as I’m sure you will have noticed, the article on about Resistance Fronts which I mentioned is actually in 3 parts: (part 1: 28 July) (part 2: 1 August) (part 3: 5 August)

Here’s a link to Salah Al-Mukhtar’s observations on the cancelled opposition conference in Damascus: (previous page: 24 July)

(By the way, Al-Mukhtar has posted a series of interesting articles on recently, analysing some of the conspiracies which have beset the Resistance and the Ba’ath. If you’re interested I’ll try and dig out the references when I have time.)

5:54 AM  
Blogger badger said...

Thanks. I've been working my way through that three-part series, it's quite interesting. Any enlightenment on who the writer Saad Daoud Qiryaqous (?) is? The other thing I can't figure out is the references to a conference in Beirut, not the 2005 Beirut Symposium that Q describes as the beginning of the whole pernicious idea of sidelining the real resistance, but something more recent. I'm sure eventually it will be revealed to me.

There's a button you can click on at the left of any of al-Mukhtar's titles on the articles section of that gives a list of his other recent articles, so I think I can save you some time there. My biggest problem is trying to fit these accounts into the very, very fragmentary chronology we've got so far: (1) Meeting corresponding to the Guardian article apparently excluding the Baath; (2) Izzat Al-Douri announcement he was going to try to bring together a group; then (3) attempted intermediation by Ad-Dhari; then (4) "Syrian" cancellation of a meeting planned for July 23, (and then come the following post-mortems and analyses you've called my attention to). I feel I'm missing some major event in there, no doubt a lot of events...

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Badger, I don’t know anything about the author of the article I drew your attention to – which may be continued in a fourth part, judging by the concluding sentence. However, various pointers suggest that he may be affiliated with the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance (an ally of the offical Ba’ath Party, now led by Izzat Ibrahim Al-Douri, along with the Communist party of Iraq / cadre ) of which Awni Al-Kalemji is a spokesman. I note that his article is also posted on the IPA website:

I think you can disregard vague reports to the effect that Al-Douri was trying to bring together a rival front – that strikes me as a bit of a red herring. Saad Daoud Q. refers to the fact that the Ba’ath and the IPA formed the nucleus of a genuine Resistance Front, established in 2005, which has been deliberately sidelined by the announcement of a new Front by people affiliated with the notorious 2005 Beirut Symposium (and with Allawi’s motley crew), which was heavily criticised by the Ba’ath at the time. Renegade Ba’athist and Syrian protégé Mohammed Younis Al-Ahmed, the main target of Al-Mukhtar’s ire, is also part of this conspiracy against the genuine Resistance – his people are known to have engaged in the secret talks with the US - and representatives of Maliki! - in Amman which preceded the precipitate liquidation of Saddam Hussein.

On the other hand, the Damascus conference scheduled for 23 July seems to have been intended to bring these two warring groups (the genuine and counterfeit resistance leadership) together under one umbrella. It is noteworthy that Dr. K. Al-Murshidi (alias Abu Mohammed), the political spokesman of the offical Ba’ath Party led by Al-Douri, was a member of the organising committee! Hence Harith Al-Dhari’s – apparently futile - appeal to Mohammed Younis Al-Ahmed to “end his conflict with Al-Duri, since now is not the time for side-quarrels…that serve the occupation.” A recent article on Conflicts Forum entitled ‘Selling the Resistance’ sheds light on some of the machinations of the usurper Mohammed Younis Al-Ahmed:

With regard to another conference in Beirut which you asked about, it is significant that it is mentioned in the same breath as the secret talks in Amman (November 2006) – presided over by the ubiquitous Allawi -in the article by Saad Daoud Q. “The troubles of the American administration in Iraq, create a golden opportunity for the ambitious to play political roles and look for ways to increase their wealth. Therefore they launched initiatives to circumvent the resistance option, and offered to save the faces of the occupiers under the pretext of finding a solution to the Iraqi crisis. They held Symposia, held secret and public meetings and launched initiatives, and organized meetings to mediate between United States and British officials in Beirut and Amman…” (Unlike you, I don’t read Arabic and have to rely on automated translations which take a bit of deciphering…)

5:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A fourth - and apparently concluding - installment of Q's article was published on the website of the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance ( yesterday. I haven't had time to study it yet...

You could always email the website for more details about the author, Badger. I'm pretty sure he represents the IPA, a former opposition grouping composed of dissident left-wing Ba'athists, patriotic communists and Arab nationalists, which has been allied with the official Ba'ath Party since 2002, when IPA Secretary General Abdul Jabbar Al-Kubeisi visited Baghdad and offered his assistance to President Saddam Hussein in resisting the looming US invasion.(Kubeisi was detained at Camp Cropper between September 2004 and December 2005).

3:35 AM  

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