Sunday, October 09, 2005

Reporting from outside the US mainstream media focused on Iraq

A former US Marine blamed Thursday, October 6, incessant resistance attacks in occupied Iraq on the American "genocide", accusing the US army of training soldiers to be desensitized.
The daily attacks now doled out to US-led forces and Iraqi civilians are "because of the brutality that the Iraqi people saw at the start of the invasion," Jimmy Massey, a former staff sergeant, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
In a book released Thursday in France, he charges that US military training has created troops so desensitized to violence that battleground brutality in Iraq is rampant and has helped fuel the resistance seen there today.
He writes that he and other Marines in his unit killed dozens of unarmed Iraqi civilians because of an exaggerated sense of threat, and that they often experienced sexual-type thrills doing so.
Massey, who left Iraq in May 2003, wrote the book after being discharged from the Marines with a diagnosed case of post-trauma stress syndrome.
"It's been a healing experience," he said. "It's allowed me to close a lot of chapters and answer a lot of questions."

The above, sent in by Ben, is from "Ex-Marine Blames Iraqi Attacks on US 'Genocide'" (Islam Online). We're doing our Sunday entries on what's being reported outside the US mainstream media. This entry focuses on Iraq.

Brady e-mails to note (via Watching America) Pierre Marcelle's "Thousands of Lynndie Englands" (France's Liberation):

Upon hearing the verdict imposed Tuesday on that symbol of torture, Lynndie England, to three years in prison, one longed to spontaneously whisper into the ears of magistrates at her Fort Hood court martial: you must not have seen what happened at Abu Ghraib. But this would have been to overlook the fact that there is nothing more blind than one that doesn't wish to see, and that if eight soldiers like England are to be condemned for various "breaches of honor," it is clear that holding senior officers accountable for the aforesaid "honor" of the military (what a beautiful oxymoron! ...) was never intended.
At the beginning of 2004, when those extraordinarily images of England humiliating Iraqi prisoners were discovered, one wondered what there was about the torturers that could have brought about, consciously or unconsciously, this culture of making war (or of obeying such orders). Eighteen months later, it has all been settled. Quite the opposite of the popular consensus, a few black sheep and scapegoats have been identified, "depraved" ordinary soldiers like England, who will have to face the music for their commanders.

Dominick e-mails to note Sameer Yacoub's "Six Marines killed in Iraq bomb attacks" (The Irish Examiner):

Eight days before Iraqis were to go to the polls to approve or reject the new constitution, officials across the country were still waiting to get copies of the document to pass out to voters. Distribution began in a few Baghdad neighbourhoods, but did not appear to have begun elsewhere.
Some shopkeepers in Baghdad refused to hand out the document and some people refused to take it, fearing reprisals by militants determined to wreck the crucial October 15 referendum.

Despite this, as Lynda e-mails to note, "US envoy: Charter will not split Iraq" (Aljazeera):

A top US official has dismissed Iraqi Sunni Arab concerns that the new constitution due to be voted on in a week could lead to the break-up of Iraq.
Voicing hope on Sunday that the document would be endorsed, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch told a Cairo news conference: "We see the political process in Iraq as providing an opportunity to the country to rebuild itself.
"We [the US government] don't see this as dividing Iraq, we favour a unified Iraq," Welch said.

Polly e-mails to note Kim Sengupta's "Iraqi violence hits new peak for British troops" (The Independent of London):

However, Mr Kuba also acknowledged that more than 500 corpses have been found in Iraq since its interim government was formed April. About 320 others have been killed in a wave of suicide bombings, roadside blasts, drive-by shootings and beheadings. "Combating the killing of innocent civilians is now the nation's number one challenge", he said.
Two US soldiers were killed at the weekend in western Iraq, bringing to eight the number of American fatalities in a series of offensives the US and Iraqi forces have launched against insurgents in preparation for the referendum.
A "yes" vote in the referendum and the subsequent federal constitution will lead to a fundamental shift of power to the Shia south with its lucrative oilwells. And, with the high stakes involved, the region is now an amphitheatre for heavily armed militias fighting each other as well as the British forces.
It was unclear last night who was responsible for the attempt to kill Mr al-Rashid, whose Badr Brigade is the military wing of the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution, (SCIRI), the largest Shia party in the government.
The Jordanian-born leader of the Sunni group al-Qa'ida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, has threatened to "eradicate"the "apostates" of the Badr Brigade. But Badr fighters have also been skirmishing with the al-Mehdi Army led by the radical Shia cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr.

Shonna e-mails to note "Civil war forecast in Iraq" (Canada's CBC):

The head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, says Iraq is on the verge of a civil war and there is no clear strategy to prevent it.
Speaking to the BBC Saturday, Moussa said the situation is very tense. "A civil war could erupt at any moment, although some people would say it is already there," Moussa said.
"There are a lot of individuals now playing games with the future of Iraq and there is no clear strategy, there is no clear leadership."

Pru e-mails to note Simon Assaf's "Occupation fuels Iraq’s civil war" (the UK's The Socialist Worker):

A United Nations (UN) report has revealed that the carnage tearing Iraq apart is being fuelled by the US, Britain and their allies.
A "shadow war" is taking place in which US-backed militias are targeting Sunni and Shia Muslims opposed to the occupation, fanning the flames of sectarian and ethnic strife.
This war can be measured in the number of bodies found in rubbish dumps, by the side of roads, or floating in the river Tigris.
The victims are often bound, tortured and then shot in the head and chest.
According to the UN assistance mission in Iraq, police from the interior ministry, part of the US-backed regime, have been sweeping through areas kidnapping and murdering opponents.
The UN team reported that in one incident "the bodies of 36 men, blindfolded, handcuffed, bearing signs of torture and summary execution, were found on 25 August near Badhra [a town east of Baghdad].
"Families of the victims reported to the human rights office that the men had been detained on 24 August in the al-Hurriya district of Baghdad, following an operation carried out by forces linked to the ministry of the interior."
This ministry is run by Bayan Jabr, a senior member of the pro-occupation Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri). Sciri’s 10,000-strong militia, the Badr Brigades, dominate the ministry.
US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld admitted this week that after two and a half years of occupation the US has only been able to field about 1,000 Iraqi troops capable of fighting without US support.
This failure means the US military is relying heavily on Kurdish and Shia militias to bolster their forces. Shia Muslims opposed to the occupation are also being targeted. US troops backed by their Iraqi allies have been trying to silence radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Clashes between those opposed to the occupation and the Badr Brigades have become a daily feature of Shia areas, while senior members of Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army have been assassinated.
A bomb exploded near Sadr’s home in Najaf on Wednesday of last week killing six of his bodyguards.
The revelations about the shadow war in Iraq have raised new questions about the role of the two SAS men arrested in Basra and then snatched back by British forces. They were accused of being part of a 24-strong team taking part in a "secret war" in southern Iraq.
According to the Sunday Times, the two men were on a mission "to identify routes used by insurgents and either capture or kill them". These revelations confirm the report carried by Socialist Worker (24 September) of a campaign against Muqtada al-Sadr's supporters in the south.
The Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni organisation that took part in the governing coalition, and the Association of Muslim Scholars, which opposes the occupation, have also accused the police of targeting Sunni Muslims in a deliberate policy to ferment sectarian strife.
These attempts to stir sectarian ­tensions follow a pattern established in the attacks on Turkmen -- ethnic Turks -- in the north of Iraq.
The US military, backed by the Badr Brigades and Kurdish peshmerga militias, assaulted the Turkmen city of Tel Afar last month. The operation against the city of 200,000 was conducted under a blanket of silence after journalists were banned from the area.
A journalist from Iraq's Azzaman daily, who managed to sneak into the city, reported that locals were living in fear of the militias. A local reporter, 25 year old Salim al-Jabburi, was killed by the Badr Brigade when they found him sheltering in his family home.
His family claims he was found dead in his bedroom with bullet wounds in his chest, neck and head.
Reports from inside Tel Afar claim that after the assault all Turkmen policemen, including the chief of police, were dismissed and replaced by members of the Badr Brigades.
The Turkmen of Tel Afar, who are mainly Sunni Muslims, joined the uprising against the occupation in April 2004 and have faced two major assaults by the US military.
But the attack last month was the first to use militias from different Iraqi ethnic and religious groups.
The UN team that compiled cases of abuse carried out between 1 July and 31 August 2005 also noted a disturbing rise in disappearances and torture. The UN received reports of "ill-treatment of detainees and inadequacies in judicial procedures".
It adds: "Furthermore, first and second hand accounts from Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, Kirkuk and the Kurdish governorates, as well as corroborating information from other credible sources, consistently point to the systematic use of torture during interrogations at police stations and within other premises belonging to the ministry of the interior."
The UN report confirms warnings issued by the International Committee of the Red Cross that the US military is continuing to sanction torture even after the revelations from Abu Ghraib prison in April 2004.
Now three US soldiers have ­broken the silence and told Human Rights Watch about systematic abuse carried out in their base near Fallujah.
The soldiers said, "Detainees were forced to hold five-gallon jugs of water with their arms outstretched and perform other acts until they passed out.
"Soldiers also applied chemical substances to detainees' skin and eyes, and subjected detainees to forced stress positions, sleep deprivation, and extremes of hot and cold. Detainees were also stacked into human pyramids and denied food and water."
One officer stationed near Fallujah described how soldiers regularly broke the limbs of their captives with baseball bats.
According to an unnamed source from Ramadi hospital, the main hospital in the al-Anbar province that includes Fallujah, there have been 20 cases recently of Iraqis who claim that their arms and legs were deliberately broken by US troops.
They said that they were beaten because there was not enough space in the camp to hold any more suspects.
To read the UN report go to
To read testimonies from the US troops compiled by Human Rights Watch go to
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Brenda e-mails to note Riverbend's "Constitution Conversations..." (Baghdad Burning):

I frowned and tried to hand her the Arabic version.
"But you should read it. READ IT. Look- I even highlighted the good parts… the yellow is about Islam and the pink is about federalism and here in green- that’s the stuff I didn’t really understand."
She looked at it suspiciously and then took it from me.
I watched as she split the pile of 20 papers in two- she began sweeping the top edge of the wall with one pile, and using the other pile like a dustpan, she started to gather the wilted, drying tooki scattered on the wall.
"I don't have time or patience to read it. We're not getting water- the electricity has been terrible and Abu F. hasn't been able to get gasoline for three days... And you want me to read a constitution?"
"But what will you vote?" I asked, watching the papers as they became streaked with the crimson, blood-like tooki stains.
"You’ll actually vote?" She scoffed. "It will be a joke like the elections... They want this constitution and the Americans want it- do you think it will make a difference if you vote against it?"
She had finished clearing the top edge of the wall of the wilting tooki and she dumped it all on our side. She put the now dusty, took- stained sheets of paper back together and smiled as she handed them back, "In any case, let no one tell you it wasn't a useful constitution- look how clean the wall is now! I'll vote for it!"
And Umm F. and the hedge clippers disappeared.
It occurred to me then that not everyone was as fascinated with the constitution as I was, or as some of my acquaintances both abroad and inside of the country were. People are so preoccupied trying to stay alive and safe and just get to work and send their children off to school in the morning, that the constitution is a minor thing.
The trouble is that as the referendum gets nearer, interest seems to diminish. We see the billboards and the commercials on various channels all about the 'distoor' and we hear the radio programs and the debates on channels like Arabiya and Jazeera, but there isn't real public involvement.
In August, there was more enthusiasm about the referendum. It was taken for granted that the Kurds, and Shia affiliated with SCIRI or Da'awa, would vote in the referendum. It was surprising, however, when the Association of Muslim Scholars (influential Sunni group) started what could almost be called a campaign encouraging Sunnis (and Shia) to vote against the constitution. The reasons they gave were that federalism, at this time and under the circumstances, would contribute to the division of Iraq, and also that the constitution encouraged secular and ethnic friction.
For a few weeks, there was actual interest on the part of Sunnis, especially in rural areas, to take part in the referendum. There were arguments about whether the referendum should be boycotted like the elections or whether it was the duty of Iraqis in general to vote it down.
And then the military operations on Sunni areas like Tel Afar, Ramadi, Qaim and Samarra began once again. The feeling has been that Sunni areas are being intentionally targeted prior to the referendum to keep Sunnis from voting. When your city is under fire, and you've been displaced with your family to some Red Crescent tent in the middle of the desert, the last thing you worry about is a constitution.
Sunnis are being openly threatened by Badir's Brigade people and the National Guard. Two days ago, in 'Ras il Hawash' in the area of A'adhamiya in Baghdad, National Guard raided homes as an act of revenge because prior to the raid, they were attacked in A'adhamiya. People from the area complain that every home they raided, windows were broken, doors kicked in, tables overturned, people abused and money and valuables looted.

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