Wednesday, March 14, 2007

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We started reading the names this morning at sunrise. Carlos Arredondo, Ann Wright and others held down the first day. Countless others will read throughout the week. Join us. This Endless War Memorial is a follow up to an event held in Washington DC on January 29th when a group of nine activists turned a courtyard in the Rayburn House Office Building into a Memorial. We filled the pool in the courtyard with over 1000 white roses, and read the names of Iraqis and US service members for approximately 10 minutes when we were arrested by the Capitol Police. As we were preparing for this memorial, it became apparent that out of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed in the illegal war and occupation there are only several thousand names recorded. History is taking its course over the graves of the nameless, and we cannot stand by and let this happen. Our memorial is the result of the cooperation of many local groups working together to honor and remember those who have died for a lie. The groups are listed below to illustrate the diversity of our coalition. Granny Peace Brigade NYC, The Critical Voice, Artists Against War, Not in Our Name, World Can't Wait, Peace Action New York State, Raging Grannies, Grandmothers Against the War, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Campus Anti-War Network, Grey Panthers, Code Pink, Brooklyn Parents for Peace, Father Luis Barrios, Iglesia San Romero de las Americas, Chelsea for Peace, Granny Peace Brigade Philadelphia, United for Peace and Justice NYC, Veterans for Peace, Chapter 34, War Resisters League.

The above, noted by Jonah, is from nycnion's "Endless War Memorial-All Week in Times Square: All week long, New Yorkers will be reading the names of the Iraqis and US soldiers killed in Iraq" (NYC Indymedia). Days away from the four-year mark of the start of the illegal war. Reuters is rerunning a number of articles worth noting. One is Ahmed Rasheed's "Four years on in Iraq, will I live or die?" (Reuters):

When U.S. forces invaded Iraq four years ago, I never expected to find myself three weeks later standing guard outside my house with an AK-47 assault rifle to ward off looters.
It was April 9, 2003, the same day a statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down live on television. U.S. forces had swept virtually unopposed into the capital. Saddam had fled.
The looters who were ransacking Baghdad made me feel uneasy as they sped past my home, their cars stacked with anything they could lay their hands on.
But I dared to think about a better future.
I did not dwell on the chaos that accompanied Saddam's collapse, preferring to enjoy new-found freedoms.
A few days later I took out a satellite dish I had kept hidden for five years in a big pigeon cage. Being caught with one meant prison under Saddam. I used a screwdriver to scrawl "Satellite Freedom" into the wall.
Those days of hope were short-lived.
I first tasted the sour new reality when American troops arrested my 70-year-old brother-in-law in May 2003 in the city of Samarra, where my wife's family lives.
Saeed Hassan's family was distraught. We eventually found out he had been taken to the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. I was a lawyer, so I began going there, trying to find out why he had been arrested.
Hassan spent a year in Abu Ghraib. He was killed in April 2004 when insurgents fired mortar bombs at the jail. An American soldier once told me Hassan had been detained because he was a security risk. I never found out why.

From Aseel Kami and Ahmed Rasheed's "Dreams of bombs, bad guys haunt Baghdad's children:"

Iraqi children are haunted by dreams of bad guys wielding knives or kidnapping relatives. For some, like 13-year-old Zaman, the nightmares become reality. She was abducted, beaten and threatened with rape.
"Zaman suffers from shaking, nervousness, a stutter and sleep disorder," said Haider Abdul-Muhsin, a psychiatrist at Baghdad's Ibn Rushd hospital who treats children suffering the consequences of war, four years after the U.S. invasion.
Abdul-Muhsin said Zaman was abducted in Baghdad last month on her way home from school. Zaman was not at the hospital when Reuters visited, but Abdul-Muhsin said few children he had treated recently had affected him as much.
"An elderly woman asked her to help her carry some plastic bags across the road to find a taxi. While she was taking her bags back from Zaman, she grabbed her and forced her into the taxi. She anesthetised Zaman and tied her up," he said.
The girl was held in a room with 15 other girls for seven hours before being released by police who raided the house.
"They beat her, they told her that they would send her to insurgents as a forced 'bride'," Abdul-Muhsin said.
Four years of war and now sectarian chaos that threatens to tear Iraq apart has had an enormous impact on children.

And you can click here for some of the costs.

What's it all about, al-Maliki? This AP story, noted by Ned, gives one answer:

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki fears the Americans will torpedo his government if parliament does not pass a law to fairly divvy up the country's oil wealth among Iraqis by the end of June, close associates of the leader told The Associated Press on Tuesday.The legislature has not even taken up the draft measure, which is only one of several US benchmarks that are seen by al-Maliki as key to continued American support, a crucial need for the survival of his troubled administration.
[. . .]
The al-Maliki associates said US officials, who they would not name, told the prime minister that US President George Bush was committed to the current government but continued White House support depended on positive action on all the benchmarks - especially the oil law and sectarian reconciliation - by the close of this parliamentary session June 30.

With more on the oil, Diana notes Antonia Juhasz' "Whose Oil Is It, Anyway?" (New York Times via Common Dreams):

Since the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration has been aggressive in shepherding the oil law toward passage. It is one of the president’s benchmarks for the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a fact that Mr. Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Gen. William Casey, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and other administration officials are publicly emphasizing with increasing urgency.
The administration has highlighted the law’s revenue sharing plan, under which the central government would distribute oil revenues throughout the nation on a per capita basis. But the benefits of this excellent proposal are radically undercut by the law’s many other provisions — these allow much (if not most) of Iraq’s oil revenues to flow out of the country and into the pockets of international oil companies.
The law would transform Iraq’s oil industry from a nationalized model closed to American oil companies except for limited (although highly lucrative) marketing contracts, into a commercial industry, all-but-privatized, that is fully open to all international oil companies.
The Iraq National Oil Company would have exclusive control of just 17 of Iraq’s 80 known oil fields, leaving two-thirds of known — and all of its as yet undiscovered — fields open to foreign control.
The foreign companies would not have to invest their earnings in the Iraqi economy, partner with Iraqi companies, hire Iraqi workers or share new technologies. They could even ride out Iraq’s current “instability” by signing contracts now, while the Iraqi government is at its weakest, and then wait at least two years before even setting foot in the country. The vast majority of Iraq’s oil would then be left underground for at least two years rather than being used for the country’s economic development.
The international oil companies could also be offered some of the most corporate-friendly contracts in the world, including what are called production sharing agreements. These agreements are the oil industry’s preferred model, but are roundly rejected by all the top oil producing countries in the Middle East because they grant long-term contracts (20 to 35 years in the case of Iraq’s draft law) and greater control, ownership and profits to the companies than other models. In fact, they are used for only approximately 12 percent of the world’s oil.
Iraq’s neighbors Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia maintain nationalized oil systems and have outlawed foreign control over oil development. They all hire international oil companies as contractors to provide specific services as needed, for a limited duration, and without giving the foreign company any direct interest in the oil produced.
Iraqis may very well choose to use the expertise and experience of international oil companies. They are most likely to do so in a manner that best serves their own needs if they are freed from the tremendous external pressure being exercised by the Bush administration, the oil corporations — and the presence of 140,000 members of the American military.

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antonia juhasz