A delegation of families from the northern Iraqi city of Mosul were forcibly removed from the offices of the interim government yesterday after trying to present Prime Minister Allawi with a petition signed by several hundred thousand residents affirming that non-combattant civilians still occupied many neighborhoods of that city. The delegation, consisting of about fifty doctors, nurses, teachers, shopkeepers and their families told reporters that they were concerned about recent statements by the Prime Minister that only “terrorists, insurgents loyal to Sadam Hussein, and foreign interlopers” now lived in the ancient sprawling town, and that all peace loving Iraqis had fled the rebel stronghold long ago. In a statement later that day, Allawi told the press that the delegation had offered no concrete support for their claims, and that, thus far, he had received no reports from coalition forces or Iraqi National Guardsmen of a single civilian still occupying the city.
“The Western press,” said Allawi, “is far too gullible. You believe the unsupported claims of parties with obvious ulterior motives. Of course doctors and nurses are going to say that.” When asked about the petition, he said that his years working with the CIA taught him how easy it is to forge such documents, and that most of the people had probably been bribed to sign it. “They hope that by putting me in the impossible position of trying to prove a negative, they can slow down our plans to liberate Mosul from the terrorists that now occupy it. The burden of proof should be on them, as they’re the ones making positive claims, and so far, I’m not convinced.” He suggested that if the delegation of families persisted in making such “irresponsible and unsupported allegations,” they should go back to Mosul and get some real proof of the supposed civilians living there. When asked what would constitute proof, the Prime Minister rejected video tapes, photographs, or audio tapes from unconfirmable sources, all of which, he said, could be doctored. “I guess that’s their problem,” he said.