iraq gets serious

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    http://www.arabtimesonline.com/arabtimes/breakingnews/view.asp?msgID=2686
    7th Sep 2003

    UN works on new Iraq resolution

    UNITED NATIONS, (AFP) - The UN Security Council labored to reconcile key differences over a new US resolution for a multinational force in Iraq, where anger raged on after last week's murder of a top Shiite cleric.

    As President George W. Bush prepared to address the United States over the weekend in a speech on Iraq, US overseer Paul Bremer in Baghdad said Iraqi security forces would double in size within one year.
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    Meanwhile the White House announced that Bush will defend his embattled efforts to rebuild war-ravaged Iraq in a rare Sunday prime-time speech.
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    Since major combat was declared over on May 1, the roughly 140,000 US soldiers in Iraq have withstood a guerrilla-style campaign that has killed more Americans than died in the original invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.

    And the administration is expected to seek 70 billion dollars more from Congress to defray rebuilding costs of Iraq. US lawmakers of both parties have stepped up appeals for Bush to lay out his strategy to the public.
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    In Iraq, Bremer announced new goals for Iraq's security forces. "It would be realistic to say in a year we would have 90,000 to 100,000 Iraqis" under arms, he said.

    That would include a 15,000-member army, as many as 25,000 border guards, and a police force that would fall just short of 75,000, Bremer said at a press conference along with visiting Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the top US military commander in Iraq.

    At present, some 55,000 Iraqis man the security forces, mainly the police.

    Rumsfeld later spoke with US troops in Mosul and in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, 175 kilometers (110 miles) north of Baghdad, as tensions simmered in Najaf where the first Friday prayers were held since last week's car bomb massacre in the Shiite holy city.
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    Thousands of Shiite Muslims, raging at Saddam's ousted regime and the US occupiers, packed the streets.

    Militiamen armed with Kalashnikovs stopped all vehicles entering the square around the city's main shrine in a bid to head off any new bombing following last Friday's devastating blast.

    Seyyed Sadreddin al-Kubbanji, head of the Najaf branch of Hakim's Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, however used the weekly sermon to call on the majority Shiites to assert their voice non-violently.
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    http://ap.tbo.com/ap/breaking/MGATD6MP9KD.html

    Sep 6, 2003

    Shiite Cleric Calls for Resisting U.S. Occupation, Strengthening Militia

    By Tarek Al-Issawi Associated Press Writer

    NAJAF, Iraq (AP) - An Islamic militia disbanded by the United States has emerged with weapons and in uniform in Iraq's holiest Shiite Muslim city, a sign Najaf could become a new flash point in the aftermath of a key cleric's assassination.

    Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld continued his inspection tour of the country Saturday, traveling to the ancient city of Babylon.

    The Badr Brigade - the armed wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq - was disarmed on U.S. orders shortly after the fall of Baghdad five months ago. Its defiant reappearance takes on particular significance because its new leader also sits on the U.S.-picked Iraqi Governing Council.

    Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim took over the leadership of the Supreme Council after his brother, Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, was killed in a massive car bombing of the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf.

    Shortly after the Aug. 29 bombing, which killed between 85 and 125 people, armed men wearing Badr armbands have been seen in the streets of Najaf and Karbala, another sacred city for Shiites.

    At Friday prayers, a deputy of the slain cleric told an overflow crowd of more than 15,000 people at the shrine to support the Badr Brigade.

    "The Badr Brigade must continue to exist and thrive. They must be supported and recognized," said the imam, Sadreddine al-Qobanjial-Qobanji, to chants of "We are all Badr Brigade."

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    The Shiites, the majority of Iraq's 25 million people, were long oppressed under Saddam's Sunni-led regime.

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