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Civil War in Iraq: The Salvador Option and US/UK Policy
Thursday, 19 October 2006 14:54

by Craig Murray,


As the catastrophe in Iraq continues to unfold, an unresolved question remains on the role of Bush, Blair, and the US/UK military. To what extent were they passively incompetent in facilitating the decline into civil war, and to what extent were they actively pursuing policies that promoted that outcome?

The adoption of the 'Salvador Option' by the US in Iraq was reported and discussed from the beginning of 2005 onwards. As described by Newsweek, the Salvador Option looked something like this:

Following that model, one Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders familiar with the discussions. It remains unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called "snatch" operations, in which the targets are sent to secret facilities for interrogation. The current thinking is that while U.S. Special Forces would lead operations in, say, Syria, activities inside Iraq itself would be carried out by Iraqi paramilitaries, officials tell NEWSWEEK.

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US Congressman Denis Kucinich took up the issue in April of this year in a letter to Donald Rumsfeld:

Dear Secretary Rumsfeld:

I am writing to request a copy of all records pertaining to Pentagon plans to use U.S. Special Forces to advise, support and train Iraqi assassination and kidnapping teams.

On January 8, 2005, Newsweek magazine first published a report that the Pentagon had a proposal to train elite Iraqi squads to quell the growing Sunni insurgency. The proposal has been called the "Salvador Option," which references the U.S. military assistance program, initiated under the Carter Administration and subsequently pursued by the Reagan Administration, that funded and supported "nationalist" paramilitary forces who hunted down and assassinated rebel leaders and their supporters in El Salvador. This program in El Salvador was highly controversial and received much public backlash in the U.S., as tens of thousands of innocent civilians were assassinated and "disappeared," including notable members of the Catholic Church, Archbishop Oscar Romero and the four American churchwomen. According to the Newsweek report, Pentagon conservatives wanted to resurrect the Salvadoran program in Iraq because they believed that despite the incredible cost in human lives and human rights, it was successful in eradicating guerrillas.....

...About one year before the Newsweek report on the "Salvador Option," it was reported in the American Prospect magazine on January 1, 2004 that part of $3 billion of the $87 billion Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill to fund operations in Iraq, signed into law on November 6, 2003, was designated for the creation of a paramilitary unit manned by militiamen associated with former Iraqi exile groups. According to the Prospect article, experts predicted that creation of this paramilitary unit would "lead to a wave of extrajudicial killings, not only of armed rebels but of nationalists, other opponents of the U.S. occupation and thousands of civilian Baathists." The article further described how the bulk of the $3 billion program, disguised as an Air Force classified program, would be used to "support U.S. efforts to create a lethal, and revenge-minded Iraqi security force." According to one of the article's sources, John Pike, an expert of classified military budgets at www.globalsecurity.org. "the big money would be for standing up an Iraqi secret police to liquidate the resistance."...

...News reports over the past 10 months strongly suggest that the U.S. has trained and supported highly organized Iraqi commando brigades, and that some of those brigades have operated as death squads, abducting and assassinating thousands of Iraqis.

The evidence that the US directly contributed to the creation of the current civil war in Iraq by its own secretive security strategy is compelling. Historically of course this is nothing new - divide and rule is a strategy for colonial powers that has stood the test of time. Indeed, it was used in the previous British occupation of Iraq around 85 years ago. However, maybe in the current scenario the US just over did it a bit, creating an unstoppable momentum that, while stalling the insurgency, has actually led to new problems of control and sustainability for Washington and London.

So, what did Blair know of and approve in the implementation of the Salvador Option? How does he feel about it now? Maybe someone should ask him.



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Comments (1)add comment

jon said:

Excellent article. I think there is plenty of evidence that this is a manufactured insurgency. Sure, there are proud Iraqis who are out there resisting on their own, and there are bonafide jihadists attracted by the smell of blood in the water. But there seem to be plenty of "others", too, who want nothing more than the complete breakdown of law and order in the country, and the latter seem to have gotten their wish.

1. On the Samarra Mosque bombing in February Kurt Nimmo wrote:

According to reports appearing on the humanitarian Iraqi League organization’s Iraqi Rabita website...at least two witnesses saw "unusual activities by the ING [Iraqi National Guard] in the area around the mosque." Two mosque guards reported four men in ING uniforms had blindfolded them and planted explosives. A second witness, Muhammad al-Samarrai, the owner of an internet cafe in the area, was told to stay in his store and not leave the area. From 11 pm until 6:30 am, ten minutes before two bombs were detonated, the area surrounding the mosque was patrolled by "joint forces of Iraqi ING and Americans," according to al-Samarrai.

2. In September of 2005, the international press reported:

Iraqi police detained two British soldiers in civilian clothes in the southern city Basra for firing on a police station on Monday, police said. "Two persons wearing Arab uniforms opened fire at a police station in Basra. A police patrol followed the attackers and captured them to discover they were two British soldiers," an Interior Ministry source told [the Chinese news agency] Xinhua. The two soldiers were using a civilian car packed with explosives, the source said. He added that the two were being interrogated in the police headquarters of Basra. The British forces informed the Iraqi authorities that the two soldiers were performing an official duty, the source said. British military authorities said they could not confirm the incident but investigations were underway.

Later these two British terrorists were 'rescued' from their Iraqi jail cell by Her Majesty's finest, spirited away, never to face trial. Reuters would add this note to the pictures of the two that had gotten into the hands of the BBC and other news organizations: "ATTENTION EDITORS - THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT REQUESTS THAT THE IDENTIFICATION OF THIS MAN IS NOT REVEALED, EITHER VIA PIXELLATION OF THEIR FACES OR BY NOT PUBLISHING THE PHOTOS."

3. In October of 2005, The Boston Globe reported that

[An] inquiry [into car theft rings] began after coalition troops raided a bomb-making factory in Fallujah last November and found a sport utility vehicle registered in Texas that was being prepared for a bombing mission. Investigators said they are comparing several other cases where vehicles evidently stolen in the United States wound up in Syria or other Middle East countries and ultimately into the hands of Iraqi insurgent groups--including Al Qaeda in Iraq, led by Jordanian-born Abu Musab Al Zarqawi. Citing the sensitive nature of the ongoing inquiry, investigators wouldn't say how many specific cases they have found, and FBI spokesman Edwin Cogswell in Washington did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Yes, of course! They "evidently" came from a terrorist ring of car thieves who ship expensive, American-made SUVs around the world at considerable cost only to blow them up in Iraq (and probably Palestine)! That these vehicles would attract all the wrong kind of attention (read: the killing of the Blackwater contractors in Fallujah in March 2004) on the dusty highways & byways of Iraq seems never to cross our compliant press' minds.

Not to mention the suspicious deaths of investigative military personel like the UK Military Police Capt. Ken Masters and US Army Col. Ted Westhusing, both ruled suicides.

Is all of this (and there is plenty more) the "Salvador Option" underway?
October 21, 2006
Votes: +0

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