4 Apr 03. As the showdown for the final battle of Baghdad commences with news this morning that US forces have taken 80% of the Baghdad airport facility, the Editor is reminded of the Bob Newhart sketch on Pearl Harbour where he says, “I can’t tell you the whole story, but we win.” 300 Iraqis are reported killed with many armoured vehicles destroyed. International opinion is hardening for a swift end to the war and the removal of the brutal Iraqi regime.
We reported last week on the terrible weather and lack of POWs and lack of troops. As we said this often happens in war and within a few days the situation had changed to one of rapid advance and the taking of Republican Guard forces. It is likely that the US deployed its MLRS rockets to destroy the Republican Guard. In the last conflict one element of the Republican Guard was totally destroyed by an MLRS unit having been pounded by B-52s for weeks. The surviving 12 men, including the commander emerged from the dust and debris, to shake the hand of the MLRS commander on his strike capability!
As coalition troops take more ground, more evidence of atrocities, particularly local population repression, torture chambers and random shootings are emerging on a daily basis. There appeared to be few volunteers for suicide attacks so the one that took place had the charge detonated remotely. One US unit found an underground ‘fertiliser’ depot guarded by soldiers. When the US soldier said that in his country soldiers did not guard fertiliser plants, there was no answer!
At one time it appeared that the coalition was losing the war of words and that the anti-war sentiment was growing rapidly. However extensive polling in the UK and Australia showed that public support for their governments’ positions on the war was overwhelmingly favourable, clearly indicating the fact, which is widely known within the journalistic communities of both countries, that the freedom allowed to BBC and ABC journalists had encouraged the recruitment of left-wing journalists who often did not hesitate to shape stories to fit their own prejudices. This had now resulted in a situation where, because of the impact, for example, of BBC World Service radio and television, the Western media had presented a picture which falsely represented the resolve and capabilities of the Coalition.
The likelihood of any Arab country entering into the fray, apart from the Syrian story reported below, has now receded and it is likely that the whole world and the Arab world will breathe a collective sigh of relief once Saddam’s monstrous regime has been dismantled, bringing much needed stability to the region
The final move on Baghdad is likely to be taken cautiously with an incremental approach to specific targets rather than an all out assault. Once Basra has been contained, this will influence the final decision by the Iraqi army troops to stand or give up leaving the hard core militia and Republican Guard to be dealt with.