US President George W. Bush, trying to reverse ebbing support for the Iraq war, sought on Tuesday to tie deadly violence there directly to al-Qaeda terrorist chief Osama bin Laden.
Facing mounting calls for a US withdrawal, and intelligence findings that the unpopular war is a recruiting tool for al-Qaeda, Bush warned that a hasty US pullout would increase the risk of an attack in the US.
"However difficult the fight is in Iraq, we must win it, and we can win it," Bush said in a speech to uniformed military personnel. "Surrendering the future of Iraq to al-Qaeda would be a disaster to our country."
Bush said that bin Laden, the mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US, pulled the strings of al-Qaeda in Iraq, a group that did not exist before the March 2003 US-led invasion.
"Some say that Iraq is not a part of the broader war on terror," he said. "They claim that the organization called al-Qaeda in Iraq is an Iraqi phenomenon, that it's independent of Osama bin Laden and it's not interested in attacking America. That would be news to Osama bin Laden."
Bush did not mention a newly public US intelligence report that found that al-Qaeda had been reinvigorated and was plotting new attacks from a safe haven in remote tribal areas of Pakistan.
The report, a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) grouping the consensus findings of the US spy agencies, also declared that al-Qaeda in Iraq was the terrorist network's "most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the Homeland," meaning the US.
A previous NIE found that the war in Iraq was an effective recruiting tool for Islamist extremists, including al-Qaeda.
"The president is trying to scare the American people into believing that al-Qaeda is the rationale for continuing the war in Iraq," said Democratic Senator John Kerry.
"9/11 was not plotted in Iraq, 9/11 did not happen from an al-Qaeda in Iraq," he said. "The fact is, al-Qaeda has grown in its strength and its presence in Iraq because we are there."
The Pentagon, in its latest quarterly report to the US Congress, said last month that al-Qaeda in Iraq was "the primary threat" in restive Anbar Province but that they played a smaller role in the overall picture.
"The increasingly complex conflict has remained a struggle among and within ethno-sectarian, criminal, insurgent and terrorist groups to wrest political and economic power from the elected GoI [government of Iraq]," it said.
"Much of the violence is attributable to sectarian friction, and each faction is driven by its own political and economic power relationships," the US military said.
Also see story:
UK troops on `suicide missions' in Iraq, MPs say
CONSOLIDATION? Taiwan Thinktank deputy executive-general Doong Sy-chi said Beijing’s intimidation tactics are further alienating those who identify as Chinese Only 2 percent of respondents to a poll on constitutional amendments and national identity identified as Chinese, while 62.6 percent identified as Taiwanese, the Taiwan Thinktank said yesterday. Legislators have proposed amendments to the Additional Articles of the Constitution (憲法增修條文), which would change the definition of the nation’s territory, remove the Taiwan Provincial Government as an entity, prioritize the use of “Taiwan” for national groups at international events, and remove restrictions on defining the national emblem, national flag and national anthem. The poll showed that 80.5 percent of respondents agreed that the nation should participate as “Taiwan” at events organized by world
NO SIGN OF WAR: Only if Taiwanese showed determination to defend the nation would others be willing to help in the event of a Chinese attack, the premier said Should China launch a war against Taiwan, the military would fight to the last standing person, Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發) said yesterday, adding that the nation has fully fleshed-out defense strategies. “Beijing has continued its acts of provocation against Taiwan, but there are currently no signs that it is ready to launch a full-scale war,” Yen said at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei. Asked how long Taiwan could withstand an attack from China, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said: “Taiwan will not fall.” Any belligerent force that initiates acts of war would pay a heavy price, and so too would Beijing,
Two Japanese virtual YouTubers (VTubers) were suspended by their employers on Sunday after mentioning Taiwan and showing the national flag during a livestream, stoking controversy that was inflamed further when it was discovered that their management company issued distinct apologies in Japanese and Mandarin. While reading YouTube analytics over livestream on Thursday and Friday last week, Hololive VTubers Kiryu Coco and Akai Haato named Taiwan as contributing a high percentage of viewers. Users on the Chinese video streaming platform Bilibili were quick to criticize the two and report their accounts, prompting Hololive’s parent company, Cover Corp, to suspend the streamers for three
MISTAKE: The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy is not a UN body, and the government is committed to protecting the nation’s name, Joseph Wu said The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday condemned the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy for listing Taiwanese cities as belonging to China on its Web site, and asked that it correct the error. The organization was inaugurated in Brussels in 2016 as a global coalition of mayors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Six Taiwanese cities at the time joined the coalition as cities in “Taiwan,” the ministry said. However, officials from the Kaohsiung City Government — one of the organization’s members — last week noticed that the city was now listed on the organization’s Web site as a