Democracy Now! April 9, 2003

Program Title:
Democracy Now! April 9, 2003
Series Title:
PRA Archive #: 

Looting breaks out near Baghdad as the presence of the Iraqi government diminishes: We talk to AFP reporter Ezzadin Said in the Palestine Hotel; 80 dissidents arrested in Cuba in most widespread political crackdown since the 1960s: A debate between the Cuban embassy and the wife of a jailed journalist. Hour 2: CIA reports INC leader Ahmad Chalabi would be ineffective leader to replace Saddam Hussein: A discussion with Lamis Andoni; US/UK military forces risk committing war crimes by depriving civilians of safe water: A look at humanitarian aid demands in post-invasion Iraq.

NEWS HEADLINES Story: LOOTING BREAKS OUT NEAR BAGHDAD AS THE PRESENCE OF THE IRAQI GOVERNMENT DIMINISHES: WE TALK TO AFP REPORTER EZZADIN SAID IN THE PALESTINE HOTEL Looting has broken out in the impoverished Baghdad suburb of Saddam City as a crowd of Iraqis cheered the arrival of US troops there. As U.S. forces moved through one neighborhood after another in the Shia suburb, residents seized the chance to plunder military installations and government buildings. They took computers, air conditioners, refrigerators, furniture, even Iraqi jeeps. The Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf has not yet arrived at the Palestine Hotel for his daily press briefing. Nor have the government minders shown up to accompany journalists. Iraqi state television went off the air. The Pentagon says almost an entire armored brigade - several thousand troops - is now in Baghdad, and it intends to stay there. The Pentagon plans to double the troop presence there in the next 24 hours. US troops are expanding their control over the city block by block. Iraqi resistance is much lower than before. But marines are continuing to battle snipers. And Iraqi fighters in buses and trucks are crossing the Tigris to attack US troops. US Central Command spokesman Captain Frank Thorpe says the coalition continues to be cautious and warned of tough days ahead. Earlier, Senior British military spokesman Group Captain Al Lockwood said it is too early to say the Iraqi regime has crumbled. Reuters is reporting Iraqis are asking today who is running their country. There is no sign of police or government authority on the streets of central Baghdad. One shopkeeper asked a Reuters correspondent: "To whom do we belong now?" Ezzedin Said, AFP reporter in Baghdad. Story: DISSIDENTS ARRESTED IN CUBA IN MOST WIDESPREAD POLITICAL CRACKDOWN SINCE THE 1960S: A DEBATE BETWEEN THE CUBAN EMBASSY AND THE WIFE OF A JAILED JOURNALIST It has been described as the most widespread crackdown on political dissent in Cuba since the 1960s. While the invasion of Iraq began half a world away three weeks ago, nearly 80 political dissidents were quietly arrested in Cuba. They have already been tried in court and some have been sentenced to up to 27 years in prison. International human rights organizations have condemned the arrests and the speedy trials. They have accused Cuba of targeting human rights activists, independent journalists and other dissidents. Meanwhile Cuban officials have charged the arrested individuals were traitors who had conspired with the United States to subvert Castro's government. The Associated Press has pointed out that independent journalists received some of the harshest sentences. Reporter and photographer Omar Rodriguez Saludes was sentenced to 27 years in jail. 20-year sentences were handed down to poet and writer Raul Rivero, magazine editor Ricardo Gonzalez and economics writer Oscar Espinosa Chepe. Well we are joined today by Chepe's wife, Miriam Leyva who is joining us on the phone from Cuba. We are also joined by Fernando Garcia Bielsa, First Secretary of the Cuban Interest Section. Fernando Garcia-Bielsa,/B>, First Secretary of the Cuban Interest Section, which functions as a Cuban embassy in the United States. Miriam Leyva, wife of jailed economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe. Story: CIA REPORTS INC LEADER AHMAD CHALABI WOULD BE INEFFECTIVE LEADER TO REPLACE SADDAM HUSSEIN: A DISCUSSION WITH LAMIS ANDONI The Financial Times is reporting residents of the suburb of Hay Al Ansar, on the outskirts of Najaf, were glad to be rid of Saddam Hussein's government when US forces seized the city last week. But they appear to be just as terrified, if not more so, of their new rulers ' a little-known Iraqi militia backed by the US special forces and headquartered in a little compound nearby. The Iraqi Coalition of National Unity appeared in the city last week riding on US special forces vehicles. Residents say the coalition is now stealing, looting and terrorizing their neighborhood. Meanwhile the struggle between the State Department, the CIA and the Pentagon over Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmad Chalabi's role in the post-invasion occupation of Iraq continues. A new report by the CIA claims that Chalabi has little backing among the Iraqi people and would not be an effective leader to replace Saddam Hussein. Despite strong objections by the State Department, the U.S. military airlifted Chalabi and 700 of his men to southern Iraq on Sunday, giving the INC a head start over other Arab opposition groups in establishing a political presence under U.S. protection. Chalabi and his men remain at an abandoned Iraqi air defense base near the southern city of Nasiriyah. Some officials have interpreted this as a bid by the U.S. armed forces to keep them out of trouble. The CIA has also blamed Chalabi for predicting Iraqis would welcome American troops in the initial phases of the invasion. Lamis Andoni, independent journalist who has been covering the Middle East for 20 years. She has reported for the Christian Science Monitor, the Financial Times, and the main newspapers in Jordan. Story: US AND BRITISH FORCES RISK COMMITTING WAR CRIMES BY DEPRIVING IRAQI CIVILIANS OF SAFE WATER: A LOOK AT HUMANITARIAN AID DEMANDS IN POST-INVASION IRAQ The current invasion of Iraq by the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia poses a grave threat to the right to water of Iraq's 24 million inhabitants, almost half of them children under the age of 15. Anglo-American military forces have already laid siege to numerous urban centers in southern and central Iraq, disrupting electrical, water and sanitations systems that sustain millions of civilians. With the approach of summer, when temperatures in this region regularly exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit, the likelihood of water-borne disease epidemics is alarmingly high. Those are among the conclusions of a new report by the Center For Economic and Social Rights. To talk about the report we have in our studio the Center's executive director Roger Normand and Kate Hunt of CARE International. Roger Normand, executive director for the Center for Economic and Social Rights. Kate Hunt, head of the liaison office at CARE International Related link: Center for Economic and Social Rights Story: U.S. FORCES ENTER PALESTINE HOTEL AS SIGNS INDICATE THAT IRAQ REGIME HAS LOST POWER IN THE CAPITAL: WE GO TO BAGHDAD FOR A LIVE REPORT FROM MAY YING WELSH May Ying Welsh, independent reporter in Baghdad (Complete rundowns missing on WebDacs)

Date Recorded on: 
April 9, 2003
Date Broadcast on: 
April 9, 2003
Item duration: 
59 min.
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WBAI; Amy Goodman, host., April 9, 2003
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