COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY BRIEFING WITH
BRIGADIER GENERAL MARK KIMMITT,
DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR COALITION OPERATIONS;
AND DAN SENOR, SENIOR ADVISER, CPA
LOCATION: BAGHDAD, IRAQ
TIME: 10:10 A.M. EDT
DATE: FRIDAY, MAY 14, 2004
MR. SENOR: Good afternoon. I just have a few quick announcements. General
Kimmitt has an opening briefing, then we will be happy to take your questions.
Ambassador Bremer's schedule today, his main public event was a meeting with
Diyala province officials, which was here today. He met with the Diyala police
chief, the mayor of Baqubah, a main city in Diyala. This is part of our broad
outreach effort as we engage in consultations across the country as we move
closer and closer to sovereignty and the formation of the Iraqi interim
government. Ambassador Bremer is also meeting today with individual members of
the Iraqi Governing Council, same -- as part of his effort to engage in wide
consultations. And as you know, Mr. Brahimi is continuing with similar efforts
in pursuit of the formation of the interim government, as is the Iraqi Governing
At the Diyala event -- meeting today, Ambassador Bremer addressed the issue of
the role of coalition forces in Iraq post-June 30th. A number of you may have
seen the wire stories. Just to reiterate our position, that coalition forces do
technically have a legal right to remain in Iraq through the constitutional
process, under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1511. However, we do not
anticipate that being an issue because the U.S., to my knowledge, never stays --
U.S. forces never stay in a foreign country in a situation like we would be
staying in Iraq post-June 30th, if we are not wanted. This is, of course, a wild
hypothetical because we anticipate a close partnership with the Iraqi interim
government post-June 30th. The majority of Iraqis we deal with anticipate a
close partnership. The Iraqi leaders anticipate a close partnership. We all
agree that there will be a significant terror threat here post-June 30th, and
the Iraqi Security Forces certainly will not be in a position to defend against
that terror threat, and so there will be a need for U.S. forces. There seems to
be a real consensus around that.
Finally, we welcome the recent decision by the Iraqi Board of Supreme Audits to
hire Ernst & Young to investigate alleged abuses in the administration and
management of the oil-for-food program. The Board of Supreme Audits conducted an
open and transparent tender process, which closed on April 20th. Following a
technical review of the submitted proposals, Ernst & Young was selected.
Ambassador Bremer believes that the investigation must be comprehensive,
independent and transparent, and has full confidence in the Board of Supreme
The CPA is not -- and I would like to stress this -- is not conducting its own
investigation. We are facilitating the work of the Board of Supreme Audit(s). We
consider the Board of Supreme Audits' examination of alleged oil-for-food abuses
to be another important and concrete step toward returning sovereignty to Iraqi
officials, who should be out front on such an important issue, one that affected
the daily lives of the Iraqi people over a number of years.
And finally, on the issue of investigations, there is some confusion, I think,
relating to al-Sabah, the Iraqi newspaper sponsored by the coalition under the
Iraqi Media Network. Mr. Ismail Zayer, who was the -- until recently the editor
of al-Sabah and has resigned -- there's been some mixed -- confusing reports
about the basis for his decision to leave and what has gone forward since.
The past financial management practices of Mr. Zayer and his nephew are under
active investigation, following his departure from the newspaper. He refused to
cooperate with the Harris Corporation, which is the contractor, in getting to
the bottom of the financial documents and financial practices of al-Sabah, and
so he resigned. And Harris is, as I said, conducting the investigation. They
have hired a local Iraqi accounting firm to take the lead on that.
GEN. KIMMITT: Thank you.
The coalition continues offensive operations, and in the past 24 hours conducted
1,866 patrols, 20 offensive operations, and captured 59 anti-coalition suspects.
Today at Abu Ghraib 293 prisoners were released. The next prisoner release will
be on 21 May at approximately 1000 hours, and we anticipate 475 prisoners to be
released. Twenty-two prisoners delayed today are expected to be released on May
In the western zone of operations, the Al Anbar remains stable. The situation in
Fallujah remains calm. Joint operations and planning continue with the Fallujah
Brigade, and a substantial infusion of money for rehabilitation has increased
local confidence in both the Fallujah Brigade and Iraqi security forces. In
Fallujah, the coalition engineers met with the contractor conducting work under
the Fallujah cleanup and restoration contract. We anticipate a significant
increase in hiring over the next week as additional cleanup and restoration
contracts some online, totaling over $1.5 million.
In the central-south zone of operations, in Karbala there were a number of
mortar, rocket-propelled grenade and sniper attacks on the former Mukhaiyam
Mosque, currently being secured by 20 Iraqi police and other coalition forces.
Last night six mortar rounds impacted vicinity of the complex, wounding a number
of troops. And today there were three incidents, beginning at 9:30 when
coalition forces were attacked with 11 mortar rounds. In the second incident at
12:20, a coalition soldier was wounded from a sniper attack. And in the third
incident, at 12:30, coalition forces were attacked with 11 mortar rounds.
Coalition forces determined the point of origin and destroyed the mortar system
and crew without collateral damage.
In An Najaf today there were a number of engagements responding to attacks by
Muqtada's militia. At 8:40, coalition forces reported four mortar rounds
impacting near the An Najaf main Iraqi police station. Two rounds impacted
inside the walls of the compound and two rounds impacted just outside the walls.
At approximately the same time, two tanks came under fire from three
rocket-propelled grenades while passing eastbound through a traffic circle. The
tanks reported small-arms and RPG fire coming from the north, the west and the
east. Elements at the main Iraqi police station also reported a large volume of
small-arms and RPG fire directed at their location.
At 10:00 today, coalition forces reported extensive rocket- propelled grenade
and small arms from the amusement park and moved to engage the enemy. Tanks
provided supporting fires as a scout platoon cleared buildings and the park. At
11:30, units at the main Iraqi police station reported continuing small-arms,
rocket-propelled and mortar fires coming from the West Side in the old city. Two
tanks from the main station moved towards that location and encountered a large
volume of small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire but did not have contact
with the main -- with the suspected mortar position. Tanks returned to the main
station while still in contact.
At 11:30, elements positively identified an enemy 60-millimeter mortar position
and rocket-propelled grenade teams inside a cemetery. Helicopters confirmed this
visually but were unable to engage the enemy due to their proximity to the Ali
shrine. Ground troops were called, engaged, and destroyed the mortar teams at
Finally, charges were referred against Specialist Charles A. Graner to a general
court-martial. The seven charges against Specialist Graner are conspiracy to
maltreat detainees, dereliction of duty for willfully failing to protect
detainees from abuse, cruelty and maltreatment, maltreatment of detainees,
assaulting detainees, committing indecent acts, adultery and obstruction of
Of note, a military judge will arraign Specialist Graner along with Sergeant
Frederick, Sergeant Davis, on May 20th, and all three court-martials will face
trial by general court-martial. A date and place have not yet been set for these
MR. SENOR: And with that, we will be happy to take your questions.
Yes, sir. Go ahead.
Q (Through interpreter.) Thank you.
General Kimmitt, the operation militaries have started in Najaf and we have
information that say that U.S. forces have attacked the Shrine of Ali. This is
the place that is considered the third most sacred place for Muslims after the
tomb of the prophet and a site in Saudi Arabia.
When you started the operation, military options -- does it mean that you lost
patience to deal with Muqtada crisis and to deal with the sanctity and the
importance of this site? This operation that you are now conducting, is it for
you to go beyond the red lines that were determined by the religious
authorities? And you have said that you have greatest respect for the religious
authorities. How are you going to deal with the reaction of the Iraqi street?
GEN. KIMMITT: As always, that's a very good question.
Let's go ahead and put that board up.
It is important to understand that we have not attacked the Shrine of Imam Ali.
We continue to respect the Shrine of Imam Ali. We continue to respect the red
lines that have been established by the religious clerics. And it is sad that
there have been attempts by groups to use that red line to hide behind that to
kill Iraqi police and to kill coalition forces.
Let me give you an example. This is a shrine, as we well know. We want to stay
away from that shrine. We understand its significance. You had Iraqi -- excuse
me -- terrorist forces inside that cemetery firing at these Iraqi police
stations -- one here and one here -- using mortars from that location to try to
kill Iraqi police here and Iraqi police here. We've sent coalition forces
against that cemetery to try to stop those rocket propelled grenades and
mortars. It is clear what is going on. Muqtada's militia is attempting to use
those red lines and use those religious shrines much like human shields. He is
hiding behind those, fully understanding that we will treat it with respect and
they will not treat it with respect.
Our soldiers will not stand at those locations and allow their fellow Iraqis at
those police stations to be killed while the terrorists are using that cemetery
as a place to shoot rockets from, as a place to shoot rocket-propelled grenades
from, and as a place to shoot mortars from.
We certainly understand the strategic significance of the Imam Ali shrine. The
coalition has tremendous respect for the Shi'a religion, the Shi'a Islam
religion. We want to do everything we can to avoid widening this concern for
Muqtada to something far graver than Muqtada. I would ask you to go back to
Muqtada's militia and say, "Why are you using this shrine to store weapons? Why
are you using the shrine as a place to set up firing positions? Why are you
using the shrine as a location to shoot mortar rounds at coalition forces and
Iraqi forces that are inside legitimate Iraqi police stations? What gives you
the right to violate the Shi'a religion? What gives you the right to use this to
protect yourself and your troops? If you want to fight the coalition forces, go
outside the city of Najaf. Do not hold it hostage, do not hold the Shi'a
religion hostage, and do not allow the sites to be held hostage to your
MR. SENOR: Carol?
Q Carol Rosenberg with the Miami Herald. General, do you know how that hole got
in the gold dome of the shrine? And do you have anything on a helicopter that
GEN. KIMMITT: We don't have any helicopters down that I'm aware of.
If our forces were coming down this road and we're being shot at from a cemetery
from north to south, I would go ask Muqtada -- if there is, I haven't seen it,
but if there is a hole in that shrine, go ask Muqtada who put that hole in the
shrine. I suspect that he will tell you that it was coalition forces. But I
suspect if you look very carefully, the coalition does not yet have ammunition
that can shoot to the north and then turn around and head south.
MR. SENOR: Next question.
Yes, sir. Go ahead.
Q Gregor Mayer from the German Press Agency. General, there were reports that in
Nasiriyah Muqtada militias have taken over -- would have taken over public
buildings and police stations. What do you know about that?
GEN. KIMMITT: Right. I got the -- as I was walking in, I was handed this report.
Following Friday prayers today at 1400, a group of 40 to 50 members of the Jaysh
al-Mahdi assembled in the courtyard outside the governor's new office and the
Euphrates. Four were -- crowd were carrying RPGs; the rest, small arms.
It would appear that there was a conflict between the governor, the police and
the police chief against these people, and it would appear, from this report,
that there was a altercation and engagement at the governor's building. And I am
just reading this as I give this to you, but it would look that -- and there was
also an engagement on one of the bridges. But it looks like forces in Nasiriyah
have things under control at this point.
MR. SENOR: Yes, ma'am?
Q Tara Sutton, Channel 4 News. Oh, sorry. (Chuckles.) U.K.
The ordnance disposal units of the ICDC in Fallujah have been reporting that
they've been finding cluster bombs in Fallujah. Could you confirm or deny
whether the U.S. Marines used cluster bombs in Fallujah during the fighting last
GEN. KIMMITT: We have no reports of Marines using cluster bombs during this
Q Thank you.
MR. SENOR: Yes?
Q (Through interpreter.) Manarah (sp). General Kimmitt, we would like more
clarification about Najaf. Two days before the press conference, you talked
about a mediation that some Shi'ite sides have done. And there were like seven
points that they agreed on, and there was agreement from the CPA about it --
And now, concerning these assaults, we leave Muqtada al-Sadr and the subject of
Muqtada al-Sadr aside. But the question is, the Murjaya (sp), the authority,
have to take the last decision because they have gained the respect of all the
Moslems. There was an agreement. There was a violation of the agreement. The
reasons for this violation -- is it because of Muqtada al-Sadr or
misunderstanding at the hands of coalition forces? We would like more
explanation about all this.
GEN. KIMMITT: First of all, I'm not certain that we have an agreement. We are
not aware of an agreement. We're not aware of a negotiated settlement. But what
we are aware of is that we have Iraqi police, legitimate Iraqi police who have
been trained by your country who answer to your country that occupy police
stations inside Najaf. They also have a responsibility to protect not only the
city of Najaf, the governor and all the other legitimate institutions of
What we do understand is those police were fired upon by Muqtada's militia. What
we do understand is that we had troops that were being wounded, we had people
that were coming under grave danger from these mortar locations. There is an
inherent right of self- defense for the police and an inherent right of
self-defense for the coalition soldiers. We were exercising that inherent right
today against those that would attempt to kill your police and my soldiers.
MR. SENOR: Sewell.
Q Sewell Chan with The Washington Post. I have two related questions for both
Dan and General Kimmitt, please.
Dan, when you talked earlier about the status of U.S. forces in Iraq after June
30th, was your statement in connection with tomorrow's ceremony transitioning
CJTF-7 to the new Multinational Force Iraq?
MR. SENOR: No. There were some confusing reports, from my understanding, out of
Washington that needed some clarifying. And Ambassador Bremer sought to address
that earlier today, and I was just reiterating what he had said.
Q Great, thanks.
And for General Kimmitt, related to that. Is there any change in either the
jurisdiction or authorities of the U.S. forces in Iraq in conjunction with this
transition, or is it mostly sort of a formality? Could you address that?
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, it's certainly more than a formality. It is trying to get
the proper command structure for the days, weeks and months ahead. There has
been a concern for some period of time that a -- simply a core headquarters, a
Combined Joint Task Force headquarters, was not sufficient to handle the range
of military operations, from peace support, civil military operations, these
types of operations on the ground, and at the same time strategic engagement,
where we're talking to the sheiks, we're talking to the political authorities.
Those are typically functions that are performed by two different headquarters.
The three-star headquarters, which will be commanded by General Metz, who will
command Multinational Corps Iraq, will focus on the tactical fight; will focus
on the day-to-day military operations and the maneuvering of the six
multinational divisions on the ground. The Multinational Force Iraq headquarters
will focus more on the strategic engagement; will certainly be involved in the
tactical operations, but only to the extent that they have somewhat of an
operational and strategic impact on this country. The multinational force
headquarters will also be in charge of the training, equipping and fielding of
the Iraqi security forces.
So the work was just such that, in our hierarchies in the military, there was a
proper decision made to set up two headquarters for the two separate functions
that will be needing to go on for some period of time.
Q If I may just follow up, sir, quickly. When was that decision made? And also,
is it reasonable to infer that General Sanchez's role is evolving as part of
GEN. KIMMITT: The decision was made some time ago. I don't know the exact date.
I can find that out for you. General Sanchez certainly will be focused more, as
he is now, on the strategic aspects, but some of those tactical aspects and
operational aspects that you see on operations such as Najaf and throughout the
country, General Metz and his Multinational Corps Iraq headquarters will sort of
be focusing on the day-to-day maneuvering of forces on the ground.
MR. SENOR: Luke.
Q General Kimmitt, I just wonder if you could give us a clearer idea of what the
objective is and the tactics are in Najaf. You've said that you don't want to
get engaged in fighting too close to religious shrines and that sort of thing,
but inevitably you are being drawn closer into them. We had tanks inside the
cemetery today. One way or another, the Mosque of Imam Ali has been hit, it
would appear. So what are the U.S. forces trying to do, and what is going to be
the technique or the tactic to avoid having any desecration of shrines?
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, I think the first thing is we can talk more about what we
want to avoid rather than what we want to conduct. We certainly want to avoid
any notion or any perception that the coalition forces are not respecting the
religious sites in both Karbala and Najaf. We also want to avoid being drawn
into an attempt by the part of Muqtada's militia to create an incident that has
strategic impact. You know, obviously what we don't want to do is allow Muqtada
to become a martyr, put himself in front of a great religious shrine and then
all of a sudden draw fire. We're just not going to do that. It pays -- has no
benefit. It might have some tactical value, but it has significant strategic
But let's talk about what we are going to do. We are going to continue to stay
focused in a peaceful way on achieving a resolution to the situation in Najaf.
Those objectives remain fixed: restoration of legitimate Iraqi control inside
Najaf, delivery of Muqtada al-Sadr to an Iraqi judge for Iraqi justice. And we
continue to focus on achieving this through peaceful discussions, the use of a
large group of interested stakeholders. But throughout all this, we've got to
understand that while this is going on, while we continue to reintroduce Iraqi
security forces into the city of Najaf, that we have a responsibility, we have a
right, we have an obligation to defend ourselves when Muqtada's militia attempts
to kill our forces.
Q And so just quickly to follow that up, it is no longer the objective,
therefore, to capture or kill Muqtada or destroy the Mahdi Army?
GEN. KIMMITT: Muqtada's militia must go away. There's no doubt about it. And as
you have seen and we have seen over the last month and a half, this is an
organization that has spent most of its existence attacking the legitimate
institutions of a democratic society here in Iraq.
Look what they're attacking. They're attacking police stations; they're
attacking media stations; they're attacking government buildings, governors'
buildings. They are trying to achieve through the barrel of a gun what should be
achieved in this country through the ballot box. They're attempting what can
only be called seditious behavior as they attempt to take over this nation and
various parts of this nation so that they can for whatever they're final
That army must go away. That army must be destroyed. In fact, to even call it an
army is giving it a dignity it doesn't deserve. So it must go away. All the
organs of that army must go away as well -- the financiers, the planners, the
In the case of Muqtada al-Sadr, clearly we have a strong desire and an intention
and an objective to see him face an Iraqi judge. We also have a strong desire
not to allow himself to become either a martyr or a victim. So the Iraqi people
have spoken. Through their judge they have delivered an indictment that says
Muqtada al-Sadr must face justice and must face a trial for his connection to
the murder of Ayatollah al-Khoei. We are attempting to facilitate that process.
MR. SENOR: Yes?
Q Hi. Peter Kenyon from NPR.
General, we've had reports from Najaf residents that a cleric, Kubanji (ph), was
not able to give his Friday sermon because of the presence of Sadr men, either
right in front of or perhaps even in part of the shrine. Do you have any
information from your commanders or other sources down there who's in control of
GEN. KIMMITT: We have said for some period of time that the people of Najaf have
been concerned about the ongoing presence of Muqtada's militia inside that town.
They are -- continue to try to extort goods and services from the townspeople,
goods and services from the stores. The town of Najaf creates much of its
revenue, generates much of its revenue from the tourist trade as the Shi'a
faithful come to the town of Najaf to worship. That is all being stopped, that's
all being held up, it is being obstructed. And that's why I used the term Najaf
is being "held hostage" by Muqtada's militia, because this town is right now
sort of in a stasis, and the problem of Muqtada's militia must be resolved. It
is certainly the desire of the people of Najaf, it is certainly the desire of
the legitimate clerical, governmental, tribal leaders in the area, and it's
certainly the desire of the coalition.
MR. SENOR: Yes, go ahead.
Q (Through interpreter.) General Kimmitt, you have talked about the fact that
you are still looking for a peaceful resolution. What do you mean about peaceful
measures, and how can you get there because you're closing the door for
negotiations. You have talked about a Iraqi judge. Nobody believes in the
independence of the Iraqi justice. Even the IGC last Wednesday have said that
the CPA has generated that warrant to arrest. When you talk about helicopters,
the BBC Arabic has said -- on the Internet has a picture of a helicopter that is
hovering over the place of the engagement.
GEN. KIMMITT: On the second question, or the second point, the question was
asked were there any helicopters shot down or go down anywhere in the south of
Iraq today. The card I just received, we've gone back to our commanders and we
said have there been? Answer: There are no reports of a helicopter being shot
down or going down for any reason today.
I would prefer to use the term "doors opening" rather than "doors closing" on
the peaceful resolution. We continue to engage clerics, we continue to engage
responsible civic leaders, the governor of Najaf, legitimate institutions,
because we do want to see this achieved in a peaceful manner. If those who are
facilitating this process could simply cause Muqtada and his militia to stop
trying to kill Iraqi police in the city of Najaf, would stop trying to rob from
the people of Najaf, would stop trying to interfere in the Friday prayers of the
people of Najaf, that would go a great way into bringing this -- would be a
great leap forward to bringing this to a peaceful resolution.
MR. SENOR: On the Iraqi judge, the arrest warrant was issued by him probably 10
or 11 months ago, 12 months ago. He put this -- he built the case against
Muqtada al-Sadr and built the arrest warrant and gathered the evidence and
contacted witnesses, eyewitnesses, before the CPA was even on the ground here.
He got to work, my understanding is, shortly after the murder occurred. This is
completely independent, at his own initiative, not ours. And of course we
learned about it after we had arrived here, but the civilian presence in Iraq
and the formation of the Coalition Provisional Authority both occurred sometime
after the judge began work on the arrest warrant.
Someone who hasn't asked. Go ahead.
Q (Through interpreter.) Ahmed al-Hamdani (ph) -- (affiliation off mike) --
Kurdish TV station. Regarding the issue -- Al-Jazeera has said yesterday that
there are forces that belong to the peshmerga in Najaf and that they had an
interview that was broadcast twice regarding this issue. We'd like to have a
comment. Are there any peshmerga in Najaf, the holy city of Najaf?
GEN. KIMMITT: We are unaware of any current or former peshmerga forces operating
with the coalition or the Iraqi security forces in Najaf.
MR. SENOR: Yes, sir.
Q Peter Hermann from the Baltimore Sun. Are charge sheets available for Sergeant
GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah, I think they are. And also on that issue, we will have a
lawyer available after the press conference to talk about military arraignment
procedures and any other questions you may have with regards to these ongoing
MR. SENOR: Carol.
Q I just wanted to follow up. General, are you saying that the coalition didn't
fire the ordnance that put the hole in the gold dome and in the shrine, or that
if you did it's Muqtada's fault?
GEN. KIMMITT: What I'm saying is, first of all, I have not seen any reports of a
hole in the Imam Ali Shrine, so I can't comment on who did it. But I can just
tell you that, by the looks of where we were firing and where the Muqtada
militia were firing, probabilistically I would put my money on Muqtada's forces
having caused it. But it's a hypothetical since I haven't even seen a report
that suggested it happened.
MR. SENOR: Yes.
Q Stephanie Halasz from CNN. We're still trying to -- this is regarding Nicholas
Berg -- we're still trying to understand why you're -- well, you keep saying
that he was never in coalition forces' hands when we have it from several sides
that he was detained by U.S. forces, U.S./coalition forces.
GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah. That -- again, it's one of those common misconceptions, and
it may have been facilitated by some of the e-mail reports.
When that question was asked, we went up to Brigadier General Carter Hamm (sp),
the commander of the Multinational Brigade forces, whose jurisdiction extends
into Mosul. General Hamm (sp) is a friend of mine. He said, "No, Mark. That just
It is true that we have joint IP -- Iraqi police -- stations. For good reason,
we put oftentimes Military Police side by side with Iraqi police in the police
stations. That facilitates command and control. If there's a military issue,
then we can work it through there. If there's a civilian issue, if there's crime
on the street, they can talk to the military. If there's a military incident,
they can talk to the civilians. That makes sense.
In this particular IP station where Berg was brought, he was put into a cell
with other Iraqis. The Military Police did have contact with young Berg. They
found out that he was in there. Being good, compassionate Americas, they checked
in on him every once in a while and said, "Hey, do you need a toothbrush? Do you
need some soap? Anything we can do to help you."
But that is, to our understanding, the only contact that Nicholas Berg had with
American military forces during that 12-day time period between the 24th and the
6th, while in Mosul.
MR. SENOR: And the only other contact -- primary contact he had with American
officials was, as you know, the FBI visited with him three times. But as General
Kimmitt said, during the entire period, he was detained by Iraqi police in Mosul,
and he was in the custody of Iraqi police in Mosul. And I do know there's a lot
of these e-mails circulating. We're trying to get to the bottom of them. But as
far as we know, at this point, at no time was he out of custody of Iraqi police.
Q Thanks, Dan. I'm Charlie Mayer from NPR. I spoke yesterday with the chief of
police in Mosul, and he said that once the FBI became involved in this case,
they asked him to hold on to Mr. Berg. I wonder if you know about that.
MR. SENOR: Well, as I said, that does -- that's not inconsistent with the Iraqi
police having -- maintaining custody of Mr. Berg.
As far as things the FBI may or may not have asked the Iraqi police, I would
refer you to the FBI's national press office in Washington, D.C. One of our
folks at the press center could provide you the phone number and point of
Sul (sp) -- or Dan? Same difference, but Dan hasn't asked a question yet. Go
Q Dan Williams, The Washington Post. I'm afraid I'm going to ask for a rather
broad briefing of the situation in the south. A week ago the commanders in the
south were describing the American strategy for dealing with Muqtada as chipping
away or moving around the fringes of his forces to isolate him and so on, and
advance the political settlement. I wonder, in the week, has any of that
changed, especially given the fact that Muqtada's forces have shown themselves
capable of popping up from place to place, taking over neighborhoods or taking
over -- in the case of Nasiriyah today, creating some sort of havoc you say is
over. And furthermore, is there any role in the south, besides the Polish, the,
I guess, Bulgarians and the British, for other multinational forces in this
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, certainly in Nasiriyah, where the Italians are operating,
that's happening. But I think if you were to bring General Dempsey in, as he
briefed the other night, I will tell you that he would tell you that they are
still on strategy. They still continue to chip away at Muqtada's militia. They
pop up, they're dealt with, and then they move on.
As you can tell from this board right here, the coalition forces were well
outside the city, and about the only involvement they have in Najaf is also to
make sure that there is some presence at the governor's location, as well.
But this small engagement today has been characterized as something that it
really wasn't: somehow it was a strategic shift, that somehow this was the final
attack on Najaf. Nothing could be further from the truth. Coalition forces were
taking casualties. Coalition forces had an obligation to protect their forces,
protect themselves and protect each other. They responded to those forces that
were attempting to kill them. They took care of that situation and then they
went back to their locations.
Q If I may, your description that the Muqtada sources move on, isn't that the
basic description of guerrilla warfare generally and that's what you're
GEN. KIMMITT: I wouldn't go so far as to -- I would be probably more correct
calling it counterinsurgency warfare; that this is an insurgency, they pop up.
They have shown very poor military tactics. My term "they move on" was
euphemistic. The correct term would be they die. They have shown time after time
that they attempt to fight coalition forces, and the coalition forces, with
better leadership, better discipline, better tactics and better equipment, are
overwhelmingly defeating the enemy at every turn.
Q You-all said that a year ago when things began popping in Fallujah and central
Iraq. I remember that it was drive-by RPGs and so on. Isn't there concern, in
fact, that this is an embryo, rather than the beginning of the end of something?
GEN. KIMMITT: Not in the case of Muqtada's militia, because they are so roundly
criticized, condemned and despised by their fellow Shi'a that this one probably
is going to be stillborn.
MR. SENOR: Last question. Yes?
Q Jim Rupert, Newsday. General Kimmitt, just to understand your thinking here,
what's the difference between counterinsurgency and guerrilla warfare?
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, probably neither of them are correct very simply because
both a guerrilla war, and to some extent a counterinsurgency, have some sort of
end state that they are seeking. And that's one of the hardest parts that we've
been having in understanding what causes some of the outbreaks of violence in
this country. They certainly don't have any unifying theme. What unifying them
would they have? Return this country -- in the case of the former regime
elements, return this country to an authoritarian dictatorship such as Saddam?
Well, I'm not sure my troops would rally around that flag. Or perhaps in the
case of Muqtada, to bring it to some sort of radical religious state, such as
the Taliban tried to achieve in Afghanistan. I don't think we have the vast
majority of Iraqis attempting to rally around that flag.
I think what we're seeing, perhaps, are some isolated incidents of what our
secretary of Defense often calls "deadenders," who are trying to create and
trying to attempt to push this process of democratization off the rails. We're
talking relatively small numbers in the proportions of 25 to 26 million people
here inside of Iraq. And the fact is, we have not seen great numbers of people
clinging to the cause of Muqtada. The vast majority of Shi'a in the south
despise his activities, despise what he has done to a family name that means so
much to the Shi'a religion, condemn his tactics, and condemn his abusive
In the case of what's happening -- or what happened in Fallujah, the foreign
fighters who were trying to incite, perhaps, a sectarian warfare in inside this
country, they have even less to cause people to bring allegiance to.
So all I know is we have the enemy out there, and that's an enemy that is not
only an enemy of the coalition forces, but it's an enemy of the free people of
Iraq who are seeking to move on to democracy, sovereignty; to enjoy the freedoms
and liberty of the press, of speech, of religion -- the things that we take for
granted. And the coalition continues to work in partnership with the Iraqi
people so that these small elements, such as Muqtada's militia, such as the
foreign fighters, such as some of the former regime elements, do not, one, as
suggested earlier, turn from an embryo into something larger; but even more
importantly, prevent the overwhelming voice of the people of Iraq, which is
moving towards democracy, sovereignty and freedom, to try to stop that voice
from being heard.
MR. SENOR: Thank you, everyone.
Q But, General, just to follow up, if there's --
MR. SENOR: (Off mike.) Thanks.