Monday, June 26, 2006

NYT: On Iraq schools, al-Maliki's plan and Casey's "plan"

The increase has pointed out many of the infrastructure problems that plague the country. Hussein al-Rifaii, a former high school teacher and political prisoner under Mr. Hussein who is now the general director of schools in eastern Baghdad, said the country needed approximately 5,000 new schools, an increase of almost 50 percent.
The schools that exist are in need of repair. Only 20 percent of schools in central and southern Iraq had working toilets, the ministry report said. A quarter had trash bins.
The enrollment figures are encouraging, but also describe the chaos of the war. The southern provinces with the highest flows of Iraqis fleeing violence have the largest rises, while Diyala, a province to the north of Baghdad that has been nearly as violent as the capital, registered the second-lowest rise in primary school enrollment growth, after Baghdad.
The ministry administered about double the number of early examinations in 2006 compared with 2005, as more students changed schools because their families moved.
Even the bookkeeping told a story. The Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq was included in figures the first year after the invasion, but later dropped, as if in an acknowledgment, at least in the bureaucracy, of the area's relative autonomy.

The above is from Sabrina Tavernise's "Amid Iraqi Chaos, Schools Fill After Long Decline" in this morning's New York Times. What you won't find in the article is any mention of Falluja or, for that matter Ramadi.

As Ruth noted, Nora Barrows-Friedman interviewed Dahr Jamail on KPFA's Flashpoints last Tuesday. Before the interview Jamail, Barrows-Friedman interviewed an Iraqi in Ramadi about what was going on there. Besides the bombings (from US airplanes), the water and power being shut off, etc., he also raised the issue of the schools (or maybe have been answering a question from Barrows-Friedman -- the broadcast is archived, you can listen to it). Children can't go to the schools. There was a remark made to the effect of 'The teachers understand this,' but the children can't go out. It's similar to a point Jamail will make when he comes out that, along with problems of supplies, hospitals in Ramadi's biggest complaint is that the military operation (US) going on in the city is preventing people from coming to the hospital that need treatment and care.

I'll also add that the eight percent growth mentioned in the article from 2002 to 2006 "by American government estimates" is, by American government estimates (including the CIA) actually between 2004 and 2006. That's when you go from an estimated 24 million to 26 million. That may be a population growth or it may just be due to the fact that better figures were available after the illegal invasion. (24 million was the American government's estimate, from many different branches, for 2002, 2003 and 2004.)

From Tavernise's "Iraqi Premier Offers 'Reconciliation,' but No New Plans for Amnesty," we'll note this:

"How can you call this amnesty?" said Sadoon al-Zubaidy, a Sunni Arab from the former Parliament. "We're talking about releasing people who are either proven innocent or who have not been charged with anything. We have a twisted kind of logic here."
Indeed, one government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to be seen as critical, said, "Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the principles in that plan have been included in the Constitution and in the political program of the government."
Negotiating with what some Sunni Arabs call Iraqi resistance fighters, and including them in any amnesty, is critical to success in quelling the insurgency, Sunni Arabs say. But such fighters seek to force Americans out of Iraq by violent struggle, and offering them amnesty would run counter to American policy here.
"We want outspoken acknowledgment for the national resistance, and it must be a direct statement," said Dhafir al-Ani, a member of the largest Sunni Arab bloc in Parliament.
The Sunni Arab demand leaves Mr. Maliki in a delicate place, and he avoided taking it on directly. "For he who wants to build, we offer a hand with an olive branch," he said. "For he who insists on aggression, terror and killing, we offer him a hand that carries a strict legal position."

Other details are covered already in the Iraq snapshot last night. On the above, we'll again note Tom Hayden: "All military stalemates end in agreements between enemies who have fought and suffered. If there can be no consideration of amnesty for those the US is fighting, then there can be no settlement short of US military victory. "

Martha notes Michael Abramowitz and Thomas E. Ricks' "Democrats Cite Report On Troop Cuts in Iraq Pentagon Plan Like Theirs, Senators Say" (Washington Post):

Senate Democrats reacted angrily yesterday to a report that the U.S. commander in Iraq had privately presented a plan for significant troop reductions in the same week they came under attack by Republicans for trying to set a timetable for withdrawal.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said that the plan attributed to Gen. George W. Casey resembles the thinking of many Democrats who voted for a nonbinding resolution to begin a troop drawdown in December. That resolution was defeated Thursday on a largely party-line vote in the Senate.

"That means the only people who have fought us and fought us against the timetable, the only ones still saying there shouldn't be a timetable really are the Republicans in the United States Senate and in the Congress," Boxer said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "Now it turns out we're in sync with General Casey."

(The Casey "plan" was addressed yesterday morning.)

Covering the plan and other issues for the Times is Eric Schmitt who didn't get the memo that you just don't mention Ramadi at the Times. From his "Troops to Stay in West Iraq, General Says:"

American troops recently ringed the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi with new checkpoints and outposts in an effort to break the grip insurgents hold on that city. Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, has been the scene of some of the fiercest regular battles between United States troops and insurgent fighters.
General Sattler said the United States and its Iraqi allies had no intention of carrying out an offensive in Ramadi similar to the late 2004 assault on Falluja by the Marines.
A senior Marine officer, interviewed earlier this month by e-mail, said American commanders voiced worries that some of the newer Iraqi units might not be willing to fight in Ramadi.
"The concern is that once the common Iraqi soldier gets the word, a number of them will not be available," said the senior officer, who was granted anonymity to discuss confidential military assessments because he is not authorized to comment publicly. "If the Iraqis bring more than 50 percent of their manning levels to the fight, I will be surprised."

As Dahr Jamail explained on RadioNation with Laura Flanders yesterday, they can't do an assault. The US military is having to go neighborhood to neighborhood due to troop levels and the fact that so many are pulling out of the so-called coalition. Add in that, as Kim Sengupta and Raymond Whitaker reported in the Independent of London, British troops already are occupied with Basra and other areas of southern Iraq.

We'll close out this entry by, again, noting Dahr Jamail and Ali Fadhil's "Rebuilding Not Yet Reality for Fallujah" (click here for IPS, here for the report at Dahr's site):

Infrastructure in Fallujah is just as bad as any other part of Iraq. Water, electricity, cooking gas, fuel, telephone and mobile services are very poor. All of the residents interviewed complained about the government's indifferent attitude towards them. The majority believed it was for sectarian reasons, although some others thought it is the same all over Iraq.
The mayor of Fallujah was not available to interview, but in his latest appearance on television he announced his resignation. In his statement televised on Jun. 14, he declared firmly, "The Americans did not fulfill their promises to me and so I resign."
Similar reports about the situation in Fallujah were made by the United Nations Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) on May 21: "there is still slow progress on humanitarian issues, according to local officials."
The report stated that two-thirds of the city's residents had returned, but 15 percent remained displaced in the outskirts of Fallujah, "living in abandoned schools and government buildings."
"Approximately 65,000 people are still displaced out of Fallujah," reported Bassel Mahmoud, director of the city's reconstruction projects.
The IRIN report, similar to what IPS found here, said, "Despite Baghdad allocating 100 million dollars for the city's reconstruction and 180 million dollars for housing compensation, very little can be seen visibly on the streets of Fallujah in terms of reconstruction. There are destroyed buildings on almost every street. Local authorities say about 60 percent of all houses in the city were totally destroyed or seriously damaged and less than 20 percent of them have been repaired so far... Power, water treatment and sewage systems are still not functioning properly and many districts of the city are without potable water."
Residents complained to IPS that they had less than four hours of electricity per day, and there was great frustration that at least 30 percent of the allocated reconstruction funds were shifted to pay for extra checkpoints and security patrols in the city.
And while the residents continue to wait for the promised compensation funds, of the 81 reconstruction projects slated for the city, less than 30 have been completed and many others will most likely be cancelled due to lack of funding, according to a Fallujah council member who spoke with IPS on condition of anonymity.
Current estimates of the amount needed to rebuild Iraq are between 70 and 100 billion dollars. Only 33 percent of the 21 billion dollars originally allocated by the United States for reconstruction remains to be spent. According to a report by the U.S. inspector general for reconstruction in Iraq, officials were unable to say how many planned projects they would complete, nor was there a clear source for the hundreds of millions of dollars a year needed to maintain the projects that had been completed.

Remember to listen, watch or read (transcripts) Democracy Now! today. The e-mail address for this site is And Micah just e-mailed highlights on WBAI today (this is probably the only entry early this morning):

2:00-3:00 Cat Radio Cafe
WBAI's annual celebration of PEN's Prison Writing Awards. With readings by PEN Prison Writing Committe members Jackson Taylor, Claudia Menza, Nick Burd, Marie Ponsot, Harding Lemay, Bibi Wein, Elsbeth Lindner. Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.

7:00-8:00 pm: Building Bridges: Your Community and Labor Report
Hosts Mimi Rosenberg and Ken Nash travel from a hog processing plant in Tar Heel, North Carolina to rural parts of Mexico and Brazil in a report on dangerous working conditions, the downside of Free Trade and global agribusiness.

9:00-11:00 pm:
The New Class War in America
The first broadcast of an event jointly hosted by WBAI and the NY Society for Ethical Culture on June 13, on the topic that dare not speak its name, "The New Class War in America." It featured Paul Krugman, economist and Op-Ed Columnist of The NYTimes; Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!; Greg Palast, author of the new book, "Armed Madhouse: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War"; and Randi Rhodes of Air America's "The Randi Rhodes Show." With questions from the audience that filled to overflow the NYSEC auditorium that night. Edited for WBAI by Christopher Zguris.

Times given are EST. Also note that today on WBAI, at ten a.m. EST, the latest episode of Law and Disorder will be broadcast.