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International Briefs

Indypendent Staff Jun 6, 2008

U.S. Casualties Plummet As Iraqi Death Toll Soars

Nineteen U.S. troops were killed in Iraq in May, the lowest one-month total since the war began. A total of 4,090 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq. Meanwhile, the non-partisan group Just Foreign Policy now estimates that 1.22 million Iraqis have been killed in the conflict. For more, see justforeignpolicy.org.

Bolton Dodges Citizen’s Arrest for War Crimes

British journalist and activist George Monbiot was dragged off the stage May 28 at the Hay Book Festival after trying to make a citizen’s arrest of John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and one of the architects of the Iraq War.

Citing the rulings of the Nuremberg Tribunals that were convened at the end of World War II to judge Nazi war crimes, Monbiot said Bolton and other highlevel Bush administration officials were guilty of launching a war of aggression and should face efforts to bring them to justice wherever they travel in the world. “[This] is the first attempt ever to arrest one of the perpetrators of the Iraq War, and I believe that is a precedent and I would like to see that precedent followed up,” Monbiot told the BBC. For more, see monbiot.com.

Protests Grow Against Deal for Permanent Bases

Tens of thousands of Iraqis protested in several cities on May 30 against negotiations between the U.S. and Iraqi governments to allow the United States to maintain long-term military bases inside Iraq.

“The Iraqi people, due to their commitment to Islam and holy Qur’an, reject any kind of hegemony by the oppressive states, including the U.S., over Muslims whether it be security hegemony, military, or propaganda,” Ayatollah Sheikh Mohammad Mehdi Asefi told the Iranian-based Alalam News Service.

Opponents of the bases have vowed to continue weekly protests even as the Bush administration is looking to finalize the agreement by July 31 and have it sent to the Iraqi parliament for final approval. The accord would also cover the powers of occupying U.S. forces, immunity for U.S. personnel, and control of Iraqi airspace. The White House contends that such a pact does not require a vote by the U.S. Congress.

Australia Withdraws Iraq Troops, Targets Afghanistan

Fulfilling a campaign promise he made last year, Australia’s new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd withdrew all of his country’s 550 combat troops from Iraq on June 1. However, the Australian government plans to maintain a 1,000-troop force in the Uruzgan province in southern Afghanistan and is calling on European nations to contribute another 10,000 troops to the U.S.-led war effort in Afghanistan. Angus Houston, chief of the Australia Defence Force, recently testified before parliament that he expected Western forces to remain in Afghanistan at least until 2018.