2A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, April 19, 2004 N ATION/ WORLD
Bremer: Iraq not ready for takeover NEWS IN BRIEF
HE U T
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraqi
security forces will not be ready to
protect the country against insurgents
by the June 30 handover of power, the
top U.S. administrator said yesterday
- an assessment aimed at defending
the continued heavy presence of U.S.
troops here even after an Iraqi govern-
ment takes over.
The unusually blunt comments from
L. Paul Bremer came amid a weekend of
new fighting that pushed the death toll
for U.S. troops in April to 99, already the
record for a single month in Iraq.
Coalition officials have been
acknowledging for months that Iraqi
police, security and military forces
won't be able to fight insurgents alone,
and that the transfer of security duties
from U.S. forces to Iraqis will be slow-
er than originally hoped.
But Bremer said the fighting across
the country this month exposed the
depth of the problems inside the secu-
"Events of the past two weeks show
that Iraq still faces security threats and
needs outside help to deal with them.
Early this month, the foes of democra-
cy overran Iraqi police stations and
seized public buildings in several parts
of the country," he said. "Iraqi forces
were unable to stop them."
"It is clear that Iraqi forces will not
be able, on their own, to deal with
these threats by June 30 when an Iraqi
government assumes sovereignty,"
Bremer said in a statement issued by
the U.S. coalition.
With U.S.-led forces fighting on two
fronts and insurgent violence flaring
elsewhere, April's U.S. combat death
toll is nearing that of the entire Iraq
From March 30, when U.S. troops
entered Iraq, to May 1, when Presi-
dent Bush declared major combat
over, 115 U.S. servicemembers were
killed. And until now, the single-
month record for U.S. troops killed
was 82, in November.
Violence on Saturday killed six
Marines and five soldiers, bringing the
toll in the first 17 days of April to at
least 99. In fighting over the weekend, at
least 40 Iraqis were killed, bringing the
Iraqi total in April to more than 1,050.
Iraq's defense minister - Ali
Allawi, a Shiite Muslim - appointed
by U.S. officials two weeks ago,
announced his two top generals, a
Sunni and a Kurd, establishing repre-
sentatives of the country's three main
communities in the senior defense
The army's top general will be Gen.
Babakir Zebari, who commanded Kur-
dish militiamen in the north for
decades and fought alongside coalition
troops during last year's invasion. The
chief of staff will be Amer al-Hashimi,
a Sunni and former general in the Iraqi
infantry until he retired in 1997.
U.S. officials have been rebuilding
the military from scratch, arranging
the training of recruits and naming
Allawi as its civilian head.
But the recent violence has shown
the weaknesses and conflicted feelings
of the armed forces.
Spanish leader orders troops out of Iraq
The prime minister ordered Spanish troops pulled out of Iraq as soon as possible
yesterday, fulfilling a campaign pledge to a nation still recovering from terrorist
bombings that al-Qaida militants said were reprisal for Spain's support of the war.
The new Socialist prime minister issued the abrupt recall just hours after his
government was sworn in, saying there was no sign the United States would
meet his demands for staying in Iraq - U.N. control of the postwar occupation.
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's party won the March 14 general election amid
allegations that outgoing Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar had provoked com-
muter-train terrorist bombings, that killed 191 people three days earlier, by back-
ing the war in Iraq. Zapatero pledged to remove Spanish troops in his winning
campaign. But his announcement - a setback for the United States - was a
bombshell, coming just hours after his government was sworn in, and as his for-
eign minister planned to travel to Washington to discuss the dispute.
In a five-minute address at the Moncloa Palace, Zapatero said he had ordered
Defense Minister Jose Bono to "do what is necessary for the Spanish troops sta-
tioned in Iraq to return home in the shortest time possible."
PISTI A, Serbia-Montenegro
Investigators look into deaths of U.S. officials
Investigators searched for evidence and interviewed eyewitnesses yesterday in
an attempt to find out why a Jordanian U.N. police officer opened fire on U.S.
correctional officers in Kosovo, killing two.
The Jordanian officer was also killed in the shootout Saturday at the U.N.-run
prison in the northern town of Kosovska Mitrovica.
The shooting was the latest shock for the U.N. mission in the province, which
is still grappling with the fallout from violent clashes last month between ethnic
Albanians and Serbs that killed 19 and injured more than 900 in Kosovska
"The shooting struck a huge blow at the very idea of peacekeeping," said Alex
Anderson, the Kosovo project director of International Crisis Group, a Brussels-
based think-tank. It will "affect the perception of the peacekeepers among the
In Belgrade, the Serbian Orthodox Church said the shooting "proves that the
Hamas plans to avenge
assassination of leader
Cal/for reprralsfollows death of
Hamas leader in Israeli missile strike
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Hamas
threatened "100 unique reprisals" against Israel
for killing its leader, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, as hun-
dreds of thousands of mourners flooded the
streets yesterday in a show of strength and fury.
But it remained unclear whether the Islamic mili-
tant group could still carry out large-scale attacks.
It has failed to do so in the three weeks since Israel
assassinated Rantisi's predecessor, Hamas founder
Sheik Ahmed Yassin, on March 22. Israel killed
Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi in a missile strike
on his car Saturday, along with two bodyguards.
Hamas chose a replacement for Rantisi yester-
day, but did not disclose his name - a sign that
Israel's systematic campaign to wipe out the
Hamas leadership ahead of a planned withdrawal
from the Gaza Strip has put the Islamic militant
group on the defensive.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon yesterday
picked up the support of key Cabinet ministers
for his unilateral "disengagement" plan, including
the Gaza withdrawal, assuring him of a Cabinet
majority ahead of a hard-fought referendum
among the 200,000 members of his Likud Party.
Sharon told the Cabinet yesterday that he
would forge ahead with his plan and continue to
"hit the terror organizations and their leaders."
Cabinet minister Gideon Ezra said the overall
Hamas leader, Damascus-based Khaled Mashaal,
was also a target. Rantisi was in charge of the
Palestinian areas and reported to Mashaal.
The killing of Rantisi set off demonstrations -
some of them violent - across Gaza and the
West Bank, as well as in Arab countries.
In the West Bank, Israeli troops shot and criti-
cally wounded a 14-year-old Palestinian boy in a
clash between stone throwers and soldiers.
Israel rebuffed international criticism, includ-
ing that of several European countries. It said
Rantisi - like Yassin - was targeted because he
directed bloody Hamas attacks against Israelis
and was planning more.
Palestinians reach to touch the body of the late Hamas
leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi as he is carried through the streets
during his funeral in Gaza City, yesterday.
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U.N. does not control the situation."
Rice: Bush did not
order Iraq war in Jan.
National security adviser Condoleez-
za Rice forcefully disputed yesterday an
assertion that President Bush decided in
early January 2003 to invade Iraq, three
months before official accounts say the
decision was made.
The statement, in Washington Post
reporter Bob Woodward's new book
about the run-up to war, is "simply not,
not right," Rice said.
Bush said at a prime-time news con-
ference on March 6 that a U.N. Security
Council resolution authorizing action
was days away. Ten days later, having
failed to win approval, the resolution
was withdrawn, and the assault began
Rice did not deny the private conver-
sation between her and Bush just after
New Year's Day in which Woodward
said the decision was made, but she
said the writer had misinterpreted what
Slovakia elects PM's
former ally president
A one-time ally of Slovakia's authori-
tarian ex-prime minister won a presi-
dential runoff election, defeating his
former mentor to lead the country into
the European Union, preliminary
results showed yesterday.
With all districts counted, lawyer Ivan
Gasparovic beat Prime Minister
Vladimir Meciar with 60 percent, or
about 1 million, of the votes, the Central
Election Commission said. Turnout was
at 43.5 percent. "I thank all who have
helped me to reach this result," Gas-
parovic said at his election headquarters.
"I hope that I will be able to show them
my gratitude through my work."
Meciar, 61, is still remembered for
his authoritarian leadership style, while
Gasparovic, 63, is largely known for his
former loyalty to Meciar.
The presidency has symbolic impor-
tance as Slovakia joins the EU on May 1.
U.S. astronaut takes
off for space station
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A Russian rocket roared into space
today carrying an American, a Russian
and a Dutch man to the international
space station on the thirdmanied iiisi§on
since the halt of the U.S. shuttle program.
American Michael Fincke, Russian
Gennady Padalka and Andre Kuipers of
the Netherlands, representing the Euro-
pean Space Agency, were to spend two
days en route to the ISS aboard the
spacecraft. The capsule is the only means
to get to the orbital outpost since the sus-
pension of U.S. space shuttle flights fol-
lowing the 2003 Columbia disaster.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports
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