Sunday, September 18, 2005

Reporting from outside the US mainstream media focused on Iraq

Ty and Jess doing the posts. We'll start it off with Dahr Jamail's thing highlighted here last Friday or Thursday. We love Dahr, the community loves Dahr and we want to be sure everyone saw it. This is from "Meanwhile, in Iraq...:"

In Tal-Afar, the propaganda spewed by the US military (and Iraqi "government") was that the operation was to fight terrorists coming into Iraq via Syria. If that were true, why did the US military remove troops from the border with Syria who were supposed to be preventing infiltration by foreign fighters? Instead of guarding the border, as they should, they engaged in the operation against Iraqi Sunni Turkmen. Working in unison, the US military launched the heavy-handed attack with the "authorization" of Prime Minister Ibrahm Jaafari, the leader of the Shia Dawa Party. Jaafari even went so far as to venture to Tal-Afar on Tuesday to visit troops and have his photograph taken.
"Authorization" was given by the Iraqi government for the attack on Tal-Afar, just as "authorization" was given by then interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi for the November, 2004 massacre in Fallujah. "Authorization," when the US military would never, ever allow any foreign power jurisdiction over American forces, least of all a puppet government.
Correspondents with Azzaman media in Tal-Afar miraculously made it into the city and reported that residents are disputing reports that US and Iraqi soldiers have killed scores of "insurgents." Like Fallujah, these residents of Tal-Afar are reporting that most of the people killed were civilians who had no place to go so they chose to stay in their homes. People also stayed because they feared persecution at the hands of the Peshmerga and Badr Army.
I recently interviewed an Iraqi man from that area at the Peoples’ UN conference in Perugia, Italy. He told me, "Most people in Mosul and Tal-Afar would rather be detained by the Americans now, because they know if Iraqi soldiers or Iraqi police detain them they will be tortured severely, and possibly killed. This gives you an idea of how bad it is with these Iraqi soldiers, even in the shadow of what the Americans are still doing in Abu Ghraib."
As for "foreign fighters," one of the Azzaman correspondents quoted a resident of Tal-Afar as saying, "We used to hear (from news reports) of the presence of some Arab (foreign) fighters in the city, but we have seen none of them."

Next we'll move on to what Skip's e-mailed from Australia's ABC, Reuters' "UK denies scrapping Iraq withdrawal plans:"

Britain has had to abandon plans for a sharp reduction in its troop numbers in Iraq next year because of fears the country is sliding towards civil war, the Sunday Telegraph newspaper reports.
Britain's Ministry of Defence disputes the report, saying it has never set a timetable for withdrawing its 8,500 troops and that any reduction in troop numbers would depend on conditions in Iraq.
But it confirms that soldiers from the 7th Armoured Brigade, better known as the Desert Rats, would be redeployed to Iraq before the end of the year.
That suggests thousands of British troops will remain in the country well into 2006.

So now England's in it again. They were talking about making Afghanistan their focus. Wonder how much pressure came from the U.S. By the way, C.I.'s attitude is to let the pull quotes speak for themselves but we did ask (and were told it was fine) if we could make editorial comments in these posts.

Polly, one of the members from England, e-mails to make sure we're all aware of this news from the BBC, "Iraqi MP is shot dead in ambush:"

A member of parliament from Iraq's Kurdish region has been killed by gunmen north of Baghdad, officials say.
Faris Hussein, his driver and at least one other person died, and another MP Haider Qassem was wounded.
The group were on their way to Baghdad late on Saturday when they were ambushed by unknown insurgents.
Iraq is in the grip of a fresh wave of violence which began on Wednesday with the death of 114 people in a suicide bomb attack on a crowd of labourers.

Fine tune-istas just keep looking at bloodshed and seeing blood roses. ("Blood roses, blood roses, back on the street now . . ." from Tori Amos' "Blood Roses" off Boys For Pele.) We should probably note that this is the entry that just focuses on Iraq but we're guessing members knew that when we started off by quoting Dahr.

Mixter's not a fine tune-ista. Brandon e-mailed about this on Friday wanting it in the roundup.
This is Mixter from Watching the Watchers with "Bring troops home now:"

Face it. It's over. Whatever grand scheme our dear leader had in mind -- democracy and freedom for Iraq (HAH! Like that was the plan all along!) -- it's over.
Iraq is engaged in a civil war. The "insurgents" blew up scores of civilians again yesterday. I thought we were hanging out in Iraq to protect these people so they could be free? We were going to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, remember? If I was an Iraqi citizen, I'd want the U.S. to get the fuck out now. The longer we stay, the more innocent Iraqis will die because al-Qaeda and the Sunnis want to rid the country of the "crusaders" and those who support them.
There is nothing we can do to prevent this civil war, and no good can come with us being there during their civil war. A civil war WE started. Because we are SO concerned about their freedom.

Hilda e-mails to note AAP's "Latham backs NZ's approach to US relations" from The New Zealand Herald:

Australia should follow the example of New Zealand, which had made itself the safest country on earth through distancing itself from the United States, former opposition leader Mark Latham said today. Speaking ahead of the long-awaited launch of his diary today, Mr Latham said he reached the conclusion that Australia needed to renegotiate the alliance with the US after dining with then US Ambassador Thomas Schieffer, who he referred to in his diary as Brains ("Schieffer brains").
"We should have a look at how New Zealand has made itself the safest country in the world," he told ABC radio. "There is no terrorist threat to New Zealand that has been identified but (there is) one here. If you go supporting bad American policy you make yourself a bigger target and you stir dissent in your own country," he said.
"If the Americans continues with Bush's policies they will never win the war against terror. They are bogged down in this for the rest of our lifetime.
"If Iraq is an example of how they are going about their work, they are never going to win that. They are just going to maximise dissent and aggression against them and nations that join in bad foreign policy as a neo-colonial partner of the US are obviously going to run into a lot of strife. "That's the Australian dilemma led by John Howard."

Gareth e-mails to pass on Patrick Cockburn's "What has happened to Iraq's missing $1bn?" from England's The Independent:

One billion dollars has been plundered from Iraq's defence ministry in one of the largest thefts in history, The Independent can reveal, leaving the country's army to fight a savage insurgency with museum-piece weapons.
The money, intended to train and equip an Iraqi army capable of bringing security to a country shattered by the US-led invasion and prolonged rebellion, was instead siphoned abroad in cash and has disappeared.
"It is possibly one of the largest thefts in history," Ali Allawi, Iraq's Finance Minister, told The Independent.

[. . .]
Most of the money was supposedly spent buying arms from Poland and Pakistan. The contracts were peculiar in four ways. According to Mr Allawi, they were awarded without bidding, and were signed with a Baghdad-based company, and not directly with the foreign supplier. The money was paid up front, and, surprisingly for Iraq, it was paid at great speed out of the ministry's account with the Central Bank. Military equipment purchased in Poland included 28-year-old Soviet-made helicopters. The manufacturers said they should have been scrapped after 25 years of service. Armoured cars purchased by Iraq turned out to be so poorly made that even a bullet from an elderly AK-47 machine-gun could penetrate their armour. A shipment of the latest MP5 American machine-guns, at a cost of $3,500 (£1,900) each, consisted in reality of Egyptian copies worth only $200 a gun. Other armoured cars leaked so much oil that they had to be abandoned. A deal was struck to buy 7.62mm machine-gun bullets for 16 cents each, although they should have cost between 4 and 6 cents.

Erika e-mails to note Aljazeera's "Iraqi lawmakers back draft constitution:"

Iraq's parliament has approved a draft constitution four weeks before the text is put to a referendum.
The National Assembly only approved a final text of the constitution on Sunday, giving little time for the United Nations to print five million copies and distribute them nationwide ahead of the referendum.
Husain al-Shahristani, the deputy speaker of parliament, told reporters it was an absolute final draft of the text, which has been held up repeatedly by last-minute amendments.
"There is no way there will be any changes now," he said. "The draft is being submitted to the United Nations and will be presented to the Iraqi people soon."

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