Iraqi resistance fighters early this morning carried out an audacious raid in Baghdad, from which Paul Wolfowitz, USA Deputy Defence Secretary, barely escaped with his life. Wolfowitz was staying in the heavily defended al-Rasheed hotel in the centre of the Iraqi capital, along with a number of other top-ranking USA military officials, when several co-ordinated rocket attacks were launched against the hotel, at the same time and from different parts of the area.
Initial investigations reported that another USA soldier was killed, and several others were injured by the attack, which took place in one of the most heavily defended parts of the USA military command-and-control complex. Three hours after the attack, a hurried news conference was arranged, at which Wolfowitz appeared in an attempt to downplay the significance of the event. During the press conference, however, Wolfowitz looked shaken, and was still wearing the casual clothes he had on the night before.
“There are a few who refuse to accept the reality of a new and free Iraq. We will be unrelenting and we will pursue them,” said the Zionist Pentagon ‘chicken-hawk’ official. However, the prospects of anyone responsible being found are slim, since the attack will be seen by many Iraqis as a daring act of heroism, and the operatives will almost certainly be given protection by local supporters. Indeed, the only thing that USA military found in the hours afterward was a trailer used to transport one of the rockets to the hotel vicinity.
A spokesperson for the occupation force said six of the eight rockets fired by unknown fighters hit the Rasheed Hotel shortly after 6.00am local time (0300 GMT), but local residents told reporters that they heard around twenty explosions. An Iraqi woman who works with the USA-led force, and who arrived immediately after the attack said that she saw blood on the ground and several wounded soldiers evacuated on stretchers.
A staunch supporter of Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine, and one of those who urged the war against Iraq even before the 9/11 attacks in Washington and New York, Paul Wolfowitz was sleeping in his room on the twelfth floor of the luxurious hotel, when the attack took place. The third, eighth, and tenth floors of the hotel were damaged by the rockets, and a 30-centimeter diameter hole could be seen on the western front, where balconies collapsed and windows were shattered. A side of the hotel was also defaced by the impact of the shells.
The hotel was a trademark centre for business visitors during the Saddam Hussein regime, and was taken over by the US army after it occupied Baghdad in April. It stands within a heavily fortified compound where the coalition headquarters is located. The attacks were the second on the building since late September, and will leave at least one foolish soldier’s family with nothing but grief.
Wolfowitz flew into Baghdad on Friday, starting his second tour of the country in three months. During the visit, he urged that efforts to create a new Iraqi army and police force be stepped up, to counteract the growing resistance from Iraqi guerrillas, which are carrying out over thirty attacks a day against USA forces, leading to mounting casualties on the occupiers’ side. Three more USA soldiers were killed on Friday alone, and this attack brings to 109 the number of soldiers killed by hostile fire in the country since President George W. Bush declared the major combat over on May 1st.
Danny Dayus maintains the World Crisis Web