Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, June 27, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, Turkey makes noises about an armed mission into northern Iraq, the US military announces another death, Falluja remains under siege, a paper editorializes in favor of Adam Kokesh, and more.
Starting with war resistance, Ehren Watada has provided a spark fueling actions in Washington.  Watada is the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq (June 2006) and the first to be court-martialed for it (a kangaroo hearing that ended in a mistrial back in February).  Linda Averill (ZNet) observes that Watada's "defiance, amplified by an effective defense effort, inspired many anti-war activists, including Gibbs" referring to Molly Gibbs who attempted to get Congressional attention for Watada but only "got the runaround" from Senator Patty Murray and decided, "I'm done dealing with my congressional representatives.  It is in our hands.  We have to do something."  Which for Gibbs including counter-recruitment at high schools and joining with others in SDS, Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace and United for Peace of Pierce County in actions like shutting down ports which, Averill observes, take those participating "from demonstrators and lobbyists into direct actors against the war masters, blocking streets and facing arrest as needed."  And, in Hawaii, Watada is hailed as a hero at a "War and Peace Art Exhibit."  Gary T. Kubota (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports the Maui event brought over "100 artists and writers" to 1134 Makawao Ave (exhibit closes Saturday -- may move to "galleries in California, Oregon and Arizona") and included a piece by Tom Seweel involved the "scanned . . . faces of more than 3,00 American soldiers who have died in Iraq into the stars and stripes of the U.S. flag."  Along with adult artists, the exhibit in Maui (closes Saturday, repeating) also included artwork done by children.  Watada inspires as do others standing up.
The movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.
Iraq Veterans Against the War have been targeted by the US military brass in an attempt to force them to stop speaking out.  The three targeted are  Liam Madden, Cloy Richards and Adam Kokesh.   Bob Audette (Brattleboro Reformer) speaks with Madden who explains he will not enter agree to any deals to end the matter -- deals offered by the military brass -- until the note in writing "that my statements are neither disloyal nor inaccurate."  Madden also discussed the strong reception to Iraq Veterans Against the War's summer base tour which goes to Camp Lejune in Jacksonville, NC tonight at 7:00 pm and follows with: Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina on June 18th 7:00 pm; the US Social Forum in Atlanta, GA on June 30th at 7:00 pm; Fort Benning in Columbus, GA on July 1st at 7:00 pm; a fundraiser in Philadelphia on June 3rd at 6:00 pm; a fundraiser in NYC on July 5th at 7:00 pm; the Naval Sub Marine Base in Groton, CT on July 6th at 7:00 pm; and concluding at Fort Drum in NY on July 8th at 4:00 pm.   And Kokesh is the subject of an editorial from the Charleston Gazette which basically states that the brass needs to back off and cites
VFW head Gary Kupius' statements echoing that ("These Marines went to war, did their duty, and were honorably discharged from the active roles.  I may disagree with their message, but I will always defend their right to say it.") before concluding: "Kokesh and Kurpius both merit praise for defending free speech as guaranteed in America's Bill of Rights."
In Iraq, Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Governmental and political parties' sources in Khalis disputed a U.S. military statement that was issued a few days ago; the statement said that a U.S. helicopter killed 17 terrorists but these sources say these men were protecting their own town from terrorist attacks.  They said that Abbas Muthafar Hashim, Shakir Adnan, Ali Jawad, Jassim Jaleel, Abbas Jaleel, Kamal Hadi, Jamal Hassan and Mohammed Abdul Kareem were killed and 8 others were injured.  They noted that the killed were members of what is called the popular committees that protect the area from the terrorists attacks, as they said."  The US military press release on that incident was issued Friday, June 22nd and noted that those killed were "17 al-Qaeda gunmen" and that they US forces "observed more than 15 armed men attempting to circumvent the IPs and infiltrate the village.  The attack helicopters, armed with missiles, engaged and killed 17 al-Qaeda gunmen and destroyed the vehicle they were using."  Obviously the people of town differ with the US military on the dead and, since they knew the dead and didn't just observe them from the air, one would assume a follow up by the military is in order.  Those very likely wrongful deaths make the news as Molly Hennesy-Fiske (Los Angeles Times) reports this from today, "Witnesses said U.S. troops opened fire on civilians in the sprawling Sadr City neighborhood of the capital after a passerby fired a revolver into the air to settle a family dispute.  The ensuing gunfire left two men dead and three injured, witnesses said.  A spokesman for the U.S. said he had not received reports of soldiers firing at civilians." 
Meanwhile the tensions between Turkey and northern Iraq continue.  Al Jazeera reports that Turkish General Yasar Buyukanit declared today, "I have said [in April] that we need a cross-border operation and that this would bring benefits.  I repeat this view now."  "BBC correspondents say attacks in Turkey by rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) have increased recently, sometimes carried out by rebels based across the border in northern Iraq," notes the BBC as well as the fact that Buyukanit's statements may also have Parliamentary intent (attempting to prove the controlling party -- AK party -- is "weak on terrorism") right before the elections scheduled for the fourth week next month.  Damien McElroy (Telegraph of London) reports that Turkey is shelling villages in Iraq currently as "part of an effort by Turkey to create a de facto 10-mile buffer zone inside Iraq and stop terrorists of the Kurdish independence movement, PKK, infiltrating its borders from their mountain training camps.  Turkey has mobilised more than 20,000 of its soldiers in an operation to stop the PKK using Iraq as a staging post for a new campaign of violence.  Yesterday Turkish newspapers sounded an alarm over the terrorist group after it staged an Iraqi-style suicide truck bomb attack on Turkish troops for the first time."  Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which generally announces every visit in Iraq or abroad with a dignitary, carries no annoucement of this meeting.  The alleged statements come at a time when the US is not seen positively around the world.  Alan Fram (AP) reports that an international poll ("46 nations plus the Palestinian territories") found that "wide-ranging majorities think the U.S. does not consider their intersts when formulating policy; worry that U.S. customs are hurting their countries; and think the U.S. contributes to the gap between rich and poor nations", that even the 'coalition' partner England has gone from "75 percent favorable" opinion "in 2002 to 51 percent now".
In news of other neighboring countries, Al Jazeera reports that during a visit to Iran by Jalal Talabani, Iraq's president, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared, "The main elements of insecurity in Iraq which are behind the current atrocities are the US and the Zionist regime intelligence services and some accompanying nations."
In Iraq, Asad al-Hashimi remains 'at large.'  al-Hashimi is Iraq's Culture Minister.  Richard A. Oppel Jr. (New York Times) notes the arrest warrant issued yesterday for al-Hashimi resulted in a raid on the minister's home and that some Sunnis are seeing the efforts against al-Hashimi as "a trumped-up attempt to discredit a Sunni leader."  John Ward Anderson (Washington Post) reports, "A statement by Hashimi's party, the Iraqi Accordance Front, the largest Sunni bloc in parliament, said two gunment involved in the attack had been tortured into falsely implicating Hashimi. The minister, in a telephone interview with the al-Jazeera satellite television network, said the case was 'fabricated' to damage his party and 'to run us out of the country'."  AP notes the incident in question took place Feburary 8, 2005 and was an "ambush against then-parliamentary candidate Mithal al-Alusi, according to governmental spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh.  Al-Alusi escaped unharmed but two of his sons were killed."   Al Jazeera quotes Mithal Allusi stating, "He is on the run now and hiding in one of the houses of an Iraqi official in the Green Zone."  Ned Parker and Saif Hameed (Los Angeles Times) observe that Mithal al-Alusi is yet another exile who came back to Iraq after the US invaded -- could we poll on how many holding powerful positions in the puppet government actually never went into exile -- and "Returning to Baghdad from exile in Germany he headed a committee that purged thousands of Iraqis from government jobs because of their membership in Iraq's ousted ruling party.  He allied himself with Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority, the kingmakers in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq".
Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that claimed the lives of 3 people and left ten more wounded, a Baghdad car bombing "targeting an Iraqi police checkpoint on the western side of Al Jadiriyah Bridge" which left 1 police officer dead and 3 more wounded as well as 3 civilians wounded, a Diyala attack using gunfire and a mortars with the mortar attack resulting in 5 deaths and fifteen being wounded.  Molly Hennessy-Fiske (Los Angeles Times) reports a Samarra roadside bombing that killed "four Iraqi police commandos" and wounded three more.  Reuters reports a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 7 lives.
Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the combined mortar and gunfire attack in the Diyala province resulted in 14 Iraqis being shot dead (thirteen more wounded), an attack on a Kirkuk police station that left 4 police officers dead, an Iraqi soldier was shot dead in the Salaheddin province, two men were shot dead in Basra, a police officer was shot dead in Al Zubair and "Men in Iraq Ministry of Interior commandos uniforms executed a 60 year-old-man in front of his grocery shop in Mariam makret in central Samara this afternoon."  Reuters notes that "two members of the Assyrian's Beth-Nahrain Association Union" were shot dead in Mosul.
Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 21corpses discovered in the capital today, while in Tikrit the detached head of someone "wearing an Iraqi military hat" was discovered in a bus station, and 1 corpse was discovered in Kirkuk.
Today, the US military announced: "One Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West was killed June 26 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province."  The announcement brings the total number of US service members killed in the illegal war to 3568 since the start of the illegal war (ICCC).  The monthly total thus far is 91 which puts June (so far) behind May (126) and April (104) but ahead of March, February and Januray.  The total thus far also makes June 2006 the most deadly June for US service members since the war began.  In June of 2003, 30 US service members were announced dead, in June of 2004 42 were announced, in June of 2005 78 were announced dead, and in June of 2006 61 were announced dead (ICCC).
Yesterday, Ellen Massey (IPS) article on Iraqi women was noted but the link was included.  Click here to read Massey's article.  Today Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) reports on the two month seige of Falluja (attacked in April of 2004 and destroyed in November of 2004) noting that "Cars have not been permitted to move on the streets of Fallujah for nearly a month now.  A ban was also enforced on bicycles, but residents were later granted permission to use them" which prompts a school teacher named Ala to say (this is sarcasm for any who miss it), "Thank God and President Bush for this great favour.  We are the only city in the liberated world with the blessing now of having bicycles moving freely in the streets."  al-Fadhily notes that aid is being prevented (by the US military) from reaching the city and that "[m]edical services are inaccessible".
Finally, the poodle is no longer prime minister.  In England, Gordon Brown has succeeded Tony Blair as prime minister.

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