Sunday, December 18, 2005

Reporting from outside the US mainstream media focus on Iraq

Some of Allawi's campaign posters show himself and Safiya Al-Suhail. I can only guess Safiya being used in his campaign posters is meant as a gesture to Iraqi women who have felt more oppressed this year than ever. The problem is that if there's one woman Iraqi females can't relate to- it's Safiya Suhail. She's the daughter of some tribal leader who was assassinated abroad in the eighties or seventies- I'm not sure. She was raised in Lebanon and when she's on TV she comes across as arrogant, huffy and awkward with her Iraqi accent tainted with the Lebanese dialect.
It's a poster war. One day, you see the posters of Allawi, featuring Safiya Suhail, the next day, Allawi's big face is covered with pictures of Hakim and Sistani. Allawi's supporters have been complaining that Hakim’s supporters were sabotaging campaign posters.
[. . .]
Allawi is still an American puppet. His campaign posters, and the horrors of the last year, haven't changed that. People haven't forgotten his culpability in the whole Fallujah debacle. For some Iraqis, however, he's preferable to Hakim and Ja'affari after a year of detentions, abductions, assassinations and secret torture prisons.
There's a saying in Iraq which people are using right and left lately, and that I've used before in the blog, "Ili ishuf il mout, yirdha bil iskhuna." He who sees death, is content with a fever. Allawi et al. seem to be the fever these days…

The above is from Riverbend's "Elections..." (Baghdad Burning) and was noted by Denise who pointed out that there are women in Iraq, "regardless of whether [John F.] Burns wants to speak to them or not."

Bully Boy tried to spin tonight. Here's reality for American troops on the ground. Fatalities for the month? 42 (in eighteen days). Total since the invasion? 2155. Total of Iraqi fatalities? Unknown but the press has accepted the 30,000 figure now that the Bully Boy's used it.

Now here's image, via Kyle's highlight, "US Policies Speak Louder Than Dollars: Acehnese" (

The image of the US in tsunami-hit parts of Asia may have enjoyed a boost thanks to its aid donations, but its invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, along with its pro-Israeli stance, continue to incense Muslims across the region.
"I don't like the leader of the American people. I don't mind the people, I just don't like their leader," Yan, a 35-year-old Acehnese dried fish trader who bears deep scars on each arm from injuries sustained in the tsunami, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
"We saw how the US is an arrogant nation. They think they are a superpower and the international police, that they rule everything," added the merchant, who lost his parents, grandparents and three brothers in the catastrophe.
"We don't hate the people -- we just don't understand the way the American government thinks."
A recent Gallup poll, conducted in 10 nations that comprise 80 percent of the world's Muslim population, found that the majority of them strongly doubt the US is trying to establish democracy in the Middle East and many think the Iraq war has done more harm than good.
A similar poll released on December 1 showed that most Arabs doubted that spreading democracy was the real US objective.
Oil, protecting Israel, dominating the region and weakening the Muslim world were seen as US goals, according to the survey, which included interviews with 800 people in each of Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.

Here's some more reality, via DK, "US troop pullout from Iraq to take years: Powell" (China's Xinhuanet):

Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said it would take some years for the United States to withdraw its troops from Iraq although the pullout could start in 2006.
"So one way or the other, I think a draw down will begin in 2006, but essentially just to walk away, to say that we're taking all of our troops out as fast as we can would be a tragic mistake. It's going to be years," Powell said in an interview with the BBC World TV Channel on Sunday.

More reality comes via Lynda's highlight, "Iraq captors free German hostage" (Al Jazeera):

Susanne Osthoff, the German woman taken hostage in Iraq, has been freed, Germany's foreign minister says.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign minister, did not say how she was freed.
"I am glad to be able to announce to you ... that Mrs Susanne Osthoff is no longer in the hands of the kidnappers," he said on Sunday. "As of today, she is in the safety of the German Embassy in Baghdad."
Steinmeier added: "Our impression after talking to her is that she is in good physical condition."

On the CPT hostages, Anne notes "Still no word on Cdns kidnapped in Iraq" (Canada's Star Phoenix):

One week after they were threatened with death, there was no word Saturday on the fate of two Canadians being held hostage in Iraq.
A week ago, a group called the Swords of Righteousness Brigades threatened to kill James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden, along with a Briton and an American if U.S. and Iraqi authorities didn't release all Iraqi prisoners.
In Toronto on Saturday, members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams, waiting for news about their friends, tried to cope with the fact there's been no word on their fate.
"We are very concerned about our four colleagues and are working for their return," said Sheila Provencher, 33, a full-time Iraq Team member currently working out of Amman, Jordan.
In a news release Saturday night, the Christian Peacemaker Team in Iraq asked its supporters to contact President George W. Bush and ask him to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.

Olive notes Reuter's "US network to appeal unfair dismissal ruling" via Australia's ABC (and note, the article is about the American ABC):

US television network ABC News will appeal a ruling by a British employment panel that found the it unfairly dismissed a London-based freelancer because he refused an assignment to Iraq.
Richard Gizbert, a long-time war correspondent, claimed he had been sacked because he refused an assignment to Iraq.
The 48-year-old Canadian had covered wars in Bosnia, Somalia and Chechnya for the network beginning in the early 1990s, but he did not want to after he had children.
Last year, the network declined to renew his contract. ABC News says it made the decision for strictly financial reasons and not for his refusal.
The panel disagreed, saying that ABC News' testimony during the case was inconsistent.
Mr Gizbert is seeking $US4 million in damages.

James in Brighton notes Jason Bennetto's "Gay couple 'threatened by troops' over civil ceremony" (The Independent of London):

A gay couple due to marry in one of Britain's first civil partnership ceremonies have received death threats claiming to be from British soldiers in Iraq.
Police are investigating the claim after a letter was sent to Gino Meriano days before the law changed to allow same-sex partners similar legal rights to married couples.
The message was written on official British Army notepaper and claimed to have been sent by members of a battalion currently serving in Iraq.
It threatened to "exterminate" Mr Meriano and his partner of seven years, Mike Ullett, if they went ahead with plans to take part in one of the first civil partnership ceremonies to be held tomorrow.

And Dominick notes "Iraq reports some violent intimidation of voters" (The Irish Examiner):

Bulgaria started withdrawing its 400-strong battalion and will transfer its military responsibilities in the city of Diwaniya to government forces. The Bulgarian defence ministry said that "with the elections conducted, Bulgaria’s infantry battalion has concluded successfully its mission in Iraq."

Finally, we note Pru's highlight, "Occupation is a disaster for the warmongers" (The Socialst Worker):

Veteran anti-war campaigner Tariq Ali gave a speech analysing the problems for the US in Iraq at last weekend's peace conference.
The war in Iraq is a complete and utter disaster. For the people of Iraq there is more suffering today than under the previous government. You have unlimited torture, the use of chemical weapons, limitless killing of civilians by the occupation forces in Iraq.
That is why it is our duty to build a peace movement that calls for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the country. People ask, "If we leave, won't there be a messy civil war?" But what do they think is going on now?
Every one of the colonial occupations of the 20th century has led to a mass ethnic cleansing. When imperialists find they cannot control the situation they try to divide the population.
That is what is going on in Iraq today. Having failed to occupy the country, because of the resistance mounted inside Iraq, they have moved on to Plan B. They are now trying to divide Iraq into three bits.
But this creates massive contradictions for the US in the region. There's Turkey on one side and Iran on the other.
There will be the risk of setting off a new wave of opposition. While most of the Arab regimes are puppets that are unlikely to open their mouths, the people of the Middle East are opposed to the occupation of Iraq.
Every opinion poll in Iraq, even ones carried out by pro-imperialists, reports that 60 to 70 percent of the population are opposed to the occupation. Large swathes of Shia don’t support the politicians that speak in their name.
I have no doubt that the occupation will get messy. George Bush and Tony Blair are building military bases in Kurdish areas.
Every time politicians on either side of the Atlantic open their mouths they say they won't allow "terrorists" to change "our way of life". But all the Iraqis are saying is, "Get out of our country." It is the governments in the US and Britain that are changing the Iraqi people's way of life by creating this ugly war against them.
We need to stop these absurd laws against terrorism. The 90 day detention proposal was defeated, and thank heaven for that. But it’s not that 28 days is much better.
Why do they want to torture prisoners psychologically and physically by holding them without charge? It's to soften them up before they appear in court.
That's why it’s important to keep the peace movement and find different ways of moving to keep up pressure on our politicians, who only act when they are pressured from below.
Conferences like this are useful, but we must understand some of the complexities of the situation in Iraq.
There is no single resistance. But if we had nobody resisting then Bush and Blair would have claimed victory. If there's an anti-war movement in the US today, it's because large swathes of Iraqi people fought back.
This attempt to write off the resistance as "terrorists" is as old as imperialism itself. If they pass laws saying it is no longer legal to support the resistance we will defy these law.
But it's not going to be easy for the US. I do not believe it has the troops necessary to go to war with any other country.
This occupation cannot last. For good or bad, it’s the Iraqi people who will determine the future. I recently returned from a trip to Cuba and Venezuela. The officials there had large maps of Iraq pinned on their wall--they pointed to them and said, "They're fighting for us as well."
© Copyright Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original and leave this notice in place.

The e-mail address for this site is