Saturday, May 28, 2005

Iraq and the Middle East

As the violence in Iraq continues, George W Bush has been holding court to middle east leaders Arial Sharon, Israeli PM, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Leader. There is still no clear ‘roadmap’ and scepticism is still strong with many issues yet to be resolved. Sharon still has to appease his own people in regards to pulling back from part of the ‘occupied territories’ and dismantling Israeli settlements. These concessions, however, will do little to soften Hezbollah’s position. But the appearance of Abbas in the ‘Rose Garden’ in Washington D.C, is a sign to some that progress may be on its way.

Iraq has seen continued attacks throughout the week. Today [Saturday] saw two suicide bombs in northern Iraq killing at least five people. Friday saw nearly forty killed in similar attacks around the country. A Japanese businessman, Akihiko Saito, kidnapped on the 8th May, was confirmed dead after a video showing his ‘execution’ was posted on an insurgent internet site. He was the sixth Japanese citizen to be killed in Iraq. At least 200 foreigners kidnapped since 2003, around 30 have been killed by their hostage takers.
The US led counter-insurgency drive continued with battles seen near Hillah and Baquba. A US helicopter was reportedly downed by small arms fire, according to the BBC, Thursday. The two OH-58 Kiowa single engined aircraft were on a reconnaissance mission when they came under fire. Two persons on board were killed the US confirmed Friday.
And the confusion continues as regards the status of Abbu Musab Al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. As members of the new Iraqi government contradicted each other a statement was issued on the insurgent website suggesting Zarqawi was ‘recovering’ after ‘being treated by doctors’ and was said to be ‘overseeing the battle’ against the Americans.
[18:56 GMT 28/05/2005]

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