Monday, March 31, 2003

The top story on page 1 in the New York Times of Saturday, March 29, 2003 ("White House Says War Is 'On Track'; Show of Support: Bush Assails Hussein — Syria and Iran Warned Not to Interfere") makes just a single mention of aid to Iraq: "Mr. Bush said on Sunday that relief aid would begin flowing into Iraq within 36 hours — only to have that schedule delayed by days as British and American forces struggled to secure control of the port of Umm Qasr, and to ensure that the waters through which aid ships would pass were free of mines."

A piece on the Kurds in northern Iraq, by the way, "Kurds and G.I.'s Rout Militants in North," also page 1, still offers no translation of pesh merga.

The word pacification crops up again, as Patrick E. Tyler writes, in "Airstrikes Continue as Allies Consider Timing of a Thrust," again page 1: "A successful pacification in Najaf could radiate out to other cities in the south, most notably Basra, where residents have shown signs of willingness to revolt against well-armed Baath Party loyalists still in charge."

Tyler also reports that "the long-delayed aid ship, Sir Galahad, docked at the port of Umm Qasr at the head of the Persian Gulf and began unloading food and medical supplies. Aid workers said the aid could not yet be distributed in much of the Basra region because of the daily firefights and skirmishing that have prevented British forces from rendering the area safe.

"At the United Nations, the Security Council voted unanimously to free billions of dollars in Iraqi oil revenues to purchase relief supplies, chiefly food and medicine, but also desperately needed drinking water supplies. The resolution gives the secretary general, Kofi Annan, supervisory authority over the oil-for-food program for the next 45 days.

"Aid workers have said that while many Iraqis have adequate food stocks, the population lives in poverty and 60 percent of the country's 26 million people depend on government or United Nations food handouts.

"The situation for the population of Basra remains the greatest worry for coalition forces."