Myers Addresses Violence in Iraq, Afghanistan
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 12, 2005 The recent spike in violence in Iraq represents an attempt to discredit the new Iraqi government and cabinet, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Pentagon reporters here today.
Similarly, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers said, a May 11 incident in Jalalabad, Afghanistan -- in which at least three people died and scores were injured -- appears tied up to the political process there, including President Hamid Karzai's reconciliation program.
An after-action report by Army Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, commander of Combined Forces Command Afghanistan, determined that the Jalalabad incident "was not necessarily the result of allegations about disrespect for the Koran" by guards at the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Myers said.
A magazine article said U.S. interrogators in Guantanamo Bay had flushed a copy of the Korean down a toilet, and the Jalalabad violence was widely reported to have grown from anti-American protests sparked by the article. Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, commander of U.S. Southern Command, is in Guantanamo Bay "digging into this issue," Myers said, but no interrogation logs reviewed so far have confirmed such an incident.
One log entry, still unconfirmed, did note that a detainee had been found "ripping pages out of the Korean and putting them in the toilet to stop it up as a protest," Myers said.
Several other log entries showed that detainees had been "irritated" when a copy of the Koran had been moved, but no confirmation has been made that a copy was ever thrown into a toilet, Myers said.
Members of Joint Task Force Guantanamo "are sensitive to the religious beliefs and practices of the detainees in U.S. custody," noted a statement issued May 11 by U.S. Southern Command. The statement said Craddock directed an inquiry into the validity of information in the magazine article after it surfaced May 10.
Meanwhile, in Iraq the surge in terrorist attacks, many using vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, generally involves "Iraqis blowing up Iraqis," Myers said.
"I don't know how (the insurgents) expect to curry favor with the Iraqi population when we have Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence," he said.
In response, Myers said, coalition forces are continuing their ongoing strategy, which he described as "to get the Iraqis in front of this process."
Polls show that Iraqis "are sick and tired of this violence" and are increasingly coming forward with intelligence about insurgent activity. "The intelligence is better and better every day from the Iraqis," Myers said.
The increase in violent attacks underscores the fact that the Iraqis and coalition are dealing with "a very violent insurgency" and "a thinking and adapting adversary," he said.
Their use of vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, which Myers called "a very tough device to thwart," demonstrates their adaptability, he said.
Insurgencies typically last three to nine years, and countering the one in Iraq is a "tough fight," Myers said.
"In the end, it is going to have to be the Iraqis that win this," he said.