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January 05, 2008



I've been agin the Iraq war since it first was mooted. And I've disbelieved those silly figures since first they were published. To oppose the war is to find yourself on the same side as regiments of liars and fools. Hey ho.


Now then, with your interest in things Muslim, are you familiar with this (I wasn't)? From today's FT:-
"Yaroslav Trofimov’s The Siege of Mecca, based on a wealth of information amassed from classified documents and face-to-face interviews, offers a gripping, highly informed narrative of this momentous event[1979]. Trofimov places the siege in its historical context, and illustrates how the al-Sauds’ response would pave the way for a wave of Islamist extremism and terrorism inspired by the conservative Wahabi creed.

Short of suitably trained men, the al-Sauds’ attempts at dislodging the rebels were a fiasco. The natural choice for outside help was Jordan, a fellow Muslim monarchy with a British-trained army. However, the al-Sauds had booted these rival Hashemites out of Mecca in the 1920s. As a Saudi official tells Trofimov, the fear was that “if the Jordanians come to Mecca, they will never leave!”

Losses mounted. A failure to broadcast Friday noon prayers from the mosque exposed the Saudi claim of victory for the lie it was. With rebels entrenched in the vast network of the mosque’s underground tunnels, and the National Guard no longer considered loyal to the regime, the al-Sauds turned to Washington for help.

CIA operatives were quickly converted to Islam so they could enter Mecca, but their plan to gas out the jihadists backfired with the gas knocking out the Saudi forces instead. The French Foreign Legion then came to the rescue, pumping gas through specially bored holes before overpowering the rebels."

Mick H

Sounds interesting. I vaguely recollect the siege at the time, but it was never major news and does seem to have been forgotten since. The reviews at Amazon.com are all very positive - http://www.amazon.com/Siege-Mecca-Forgotten-Uprising-al-Qaeda/dp/0385519257/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1199563521&sr=8-1


The Lancet did not do the study, it was done by Johns Hopkins University. The Lancet published it, but trying to discredit the report by saying that Richard Horton is anti-war, ergo "his" study is false is silly when his journal did not do the field work. (Actually it would be silly anyway.)

Mick H

I imagine you didn't read the report I linked to, Britmex. My point in referring to Richard Horton is simply that though he's entitled to his political views, as editor of a prestigious medical journal it doesn't inspire confidence in his impartiality when he uses the findings of a controversial report published by that journal, and set up by individuals who themselves were opposed to the Iraq war and who rushed publication in time for the US elections, to use his position in pursuit of a political agenda, and claim that we "know" that civilian casualties were much higher than reported. It strongly suggests that there were other criteria apart from the quality of the Johns Hopkins report itself which encouraged him to publish it.

Informed comment

"The Lancet published it, but trying to discredit the report by saying that Richard Horton is anti-war, ergo "his" study is false is silly..."

Nonsense. He is the editor and therefore in control of what is published. Publication bias is a known issue in medical journals, and editors will cherry pick papers that they think will give them kudos, be widely cited by the medical literature, or will lead to major media interest. That is why they issue embargoed press releases to the media. Whether or not Horton's views will have influenced the decision to publish is a moot point.

However, Horton appeared on Newsnight after one of the studies, perhaps the first, explaining how he had rushed publication through in order to influence military tactics in Falluja. That shows a distinct influence of his views on the editorial process. Since no one can argue that Horton is a military tactician of any magnitude, his primary influence must have been his anti-war stance.

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