Sunday, November 19, 2006

Through the Times Quickly

Edward Wong and Khalid Al-Ansary contribute "Iraqi Sheiks Assail Cleric for Backing Qaeda" in this morning's New York Times. Last week, while the puppet (Nouri al-Maliki) was out of the country (he was in Turkey), a warrent was issued for Harith al-Dhari (do a search of this site for entries on this). Who in the puppet government decided the time was right to issue such a warrant (al-Dhari was, and remains, in Jordan)? Someone realized quickly there was a problem and, in response to outrage, the puppet government attempted to back pedal and claim it was never an arrest warrant, it was an investigative warrant. A laughable lie because he was accused, in the warrant according to Jawad al-Bolani (the Interior Minister), of leading violence and terrorism (among other things).

The reporters refer to the "Anbar Salvation Council." That's not the full translation. "Anbar Awakening and Salvation Council" is the name of the group. The report tells you that: "In the interviews last week, he accused the Anbar council of trying to cozy up to the Iraqi government in return for money." It doesn't tell you that al-Dhari is correct about the taking of money from the government. If you think back, you will remember the laughable report the Times front paged one Monday morning. Al-Anbar Province was not going to be a hot spot anymore "tribes" were going to work with the puppet government. Okay, it was September 18th, see "NYT: Caught in the spin." It was a pay off and it was a waste of money if the intent was to calm the region. It didn't work. That was September 18th. US soldiers continue to die there. Iraqis continue to die there. There is no calm.

So who paid them off for their latest statement? Who has the money? That's who they speak for. They're the 'tribal' puppets. And they don't represent any 'tribes' anymore that al-Sadr any longer has control of the militias he once held the reigns to. Equally interesting is the attempts to use the Pakistani press to push the propaganda (it's called blowback). The US military is making a full out assault on the public's understanding. That's not implying al-Dhari is a hero or heroic, that he's the would-be savior of Iraq. That is stating most reporters right now are aware of the effort and where it's coming from. It would be surprising if those at the Times weren't aware of it as well.

It's not even about al-Dhari, it's about weakening the Muslim Scholars Association which has been a vocal critic of the puppet government and called for the foreign troops to leave Iraq. So a group of people who supposedly represent 'tribes' and supposedly were going to bring peace to Al-Anbar back in Septemember (two months ago) but didn't because they couldn't are still the nobodies they were then, with no influence and no power in the region (let alone the country) hold a press conference in Baghdad to attempt to draw blood on al-Dhari and hopefully deliver a blow to the Muslim Scholars Association. They're being paid to attack and you can consider them the Not So Swift Floaties of Iraq.

It's about as real and interesting as Lindsey Lohan and Hillary Duff 'feud' but reality doesn't matter when there's propaganda to advance. (There's a sentence in the article we may highlight this evening.)

Kirk Semple's offers "A Captain’s Journey From Hope to Just Getting Her Unit Home."
While Stephanie A. Bagley's efforts to ensure that no one serving under her is killed (Semple notes that she has "barred her troops from foot patrols in the most violent neighborhoods and eliminated all nonessential travel") the following should stand out:

On these patrols, the Americans, swaddled in Kevlar from head to hips, travel in Humvees and other armored vehicles. The Iraqis, wearing only bulletproof vests, ride in soft-skinned pickup trucks and S.U.V.'s, the only vehicles they have.
The Iraqi policemen begged the Americans not to make them go out. They peeled off their clothes to reveal shrapnel scars from past attacks. They tugged the armored plates from their Kevlar vests and told the Americans they were faulty. They said they had no fuel for their vehicles. They disappeared on indefinite errands elsewhere in the compound. They said they would not patrol if it meant passing a trash pile, a common hiding place for bombs.
The Iraqis eventually gave up and climbed into two S.U.V.'s with shattered windshields and missing side windows, and the joint patrol moved out. One Iraqi officer draped his Kevlar vest from the window of his car door for lateral protection. During a lunch break, the officers tried to sneak away in their cars.

Whose lives matter? Whose lives have value? Saying, "Oh, Iraq's a poor country, they can't afford the things the troops have" is nonsense -- the US government is responsible (as long as it continues the war and the occupation) for providing.

Eddie notes Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily's "Education Under Siege" (IPS):

The recent kidnapping of scores of academics in Baghdad highlights the desperate situation of the educational system in occupied Iraq. Armed men wearing Iraqi police uniforms abducted as many as 150 academics from the Ministry of Higher Education on Tuesday. Alaa Makki, the head of the Parliament's education committee called the action a "national catastrophe" and the minister of higher education, Abed Dhiab al-Ujaili, announced that teaching in all of Baghdad's universities would be halted "until we find out what happened," and because "we are not ready to lose more professors."
While 70 of the academics have been released since then, others remain missing. Academics, along with other professionals, have been increasingly targeted by sectarian violence which continues unchecked across much of Iraq. Thousands of professors and university researchers have long since fled the war-torn country.
An administration manager of a large university in Baghdad spoke with IPS on condition of anonymity: "Iraqi universities have turned into militia and death squad headquarters... Pictures of clerics and sectarian flags all over are not the only problem, but there is the interference of clerics and their followers in everything."
The university employee, who said he fears for his life each day he goes to work, explained that religious clerics now had the authority to "sack teachers and students, forbid certain texts, impose certain uniforms and even arrest and kill those who belong to other sects or those who object to their behaviour." He angrily added, "Our government seems to approve all that, as no security office ever intervened to protect teachers and students or make any change to the situation."

And remember that last week (Wednesday?) al-Maliki banned free speech at universities. (Politics, he felt, were beyond the range of upper level educations.)

Here's what's going on today. After this goes up, Isaiah's latest goes up. After that, illustrations for The Third Estate Sunday Review will go up (we're still working on the edition). Once they're up, my hope is to move them down lower (earlier) so that Isaiah's comic is the top entry until this evening.

Due to members requests, there is a morning entry. In response to a visitor who wants to "correct the record" -- no, in the national edition of the paper, there was not a story on Abeer. There was an online story. Written by a reporter far removed from the story (he was in NYC). The paper ran no story. The website did. I don't pay for the website. I pay for the paper. (And paid twice last week -- for the subscription and for copies while I was on the road.) Thanks for the attempt to "correct the record" but it failed.

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