Thursday, August 30, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, August 30, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Wikipedia 'cleans up' al-Maliki's history, Texas gears up for a major rally against the illegal war on Saturday and more.
Starting with war resistance.  The Seacoast reports some of the statements from last Saturday's rally for peace in Kennebunkport, Maine and quotes Eli Israel declaring, "We are not fighting insurgents, we're fighting Iraqis in their own neighborhoods.  We were there -- we saw the truth."  The rally was there since Bully Boy -- haunted by the memory of Camp Casey -- has preferred to spend his summer vacation instead of at the ranchette in Crawford, Texas.  Among the over 4,000 present were the Ragin' Grannies, members of Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Cindy Sheehan, and Dennis Kucinich.  Sheehan declared, "In August 2005, I went to Crawford to ruin the vacation of the man who has ruined all of my vacations."  IVAW's Liam Madden told the crowd, "Our government has failed us.  This war will not end by an act of Congress.  It will end through an organized and collective act of conscience." 
Eli Israel is a member of IVAW and the first US service member to publicly refuse to serve in the illegal war while stationed in Iraq.  At Courage To Resist (video and text) Israel declares, "The last few months have changed my life forever.  From Soldier, JVB Protective Service Agent, and Sniper in the middle of an occupation war, to anti-war veteran within days. . . . I'm hoping to use my experience and my education to change the course our country has been on: To end the policies of occupation.  To stop the avoidance of domestic defensive measures.  To end the violations of domestic liberties.  And to stop the heavy-handed offensive actions around the world which are done in the name of security, but which instead result in more insecurity."  He is also attempting to regain his veterans' benefits, get his discharge upgraded, etc.  Courage To Resist has started a donation page that will help with those costs as well as the costs of getting Eli Israel throughout the country to tell his story.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko,Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at 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. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.
Last Saturday the big peace event was in Kennebunk Port, this Saturday?  Iraq Veterans Against the War will be in Texas. Texans For Peace are staging an American People's Poll on Iraq in Fort Worth, Texas featuring many speakers including IVAW's Adam Kokesh, Leonard Shelton and Hart Viges as well as Diane Wilson, Tina Richards, Ann Wright and many others. Click here for the press release. There is not a fee to attend, the event is Saturday, in Fort Worth, Texas which is also where the Republican Straw Poll will be "taking place in General Worth Square". People will begin arriving at nine in the morning, the speeches will begin at 1:30. There will be music and entertainment. Though the event is free, people can donate and Texans For Peace is encouraging everyone planning to attend to print up tickets online. The tickets will be used for a number count of those attending. No one will be turned away because they didn't have access to a computer to print up the ticket.
Throughout the day (nine to five, this is a Saturday) there will be canvassing and straw polls, the pre-rally entertainment starts at one p.m. and the peace rally begins at 1:30 and lasts until 3:30. Fort Worth is a city in Texas, part of the Dallas and Fort Worth region known there as "DFW." Suburbs, towns and cities in the area include Denton, Plano, Arlington, Irvining, Bach Springs, Desoto, Duncanville, Lewisville, Addison, Grand Prairie and a host of others. There is a point. Texans for Peace notes that you can catch the Trinity Railway Express to Fort Worth and that at 12:30 pm volunteers will be helping transport people to the rally.

Community member Diana and her family took part in the April 2006 immigrants rally in downtown Dallas that had at least a half million participants making it the largest protest in Dallas' history. She noted the traffic issue when she shared her experiences from that rally. Today, she explained over the phone that the easiest thing for people to the north, east or south of Fort Worth wanting to attend Saturday's events but unsure of how to get there is to utilize the Trinity train. She suggests grabbing a Dart Express Train and taking it to Union Station (in downtown Dallas). You can pick up the TRE there. ("It's the big, brown -- same brown as UPS uses --train that runs right next to the two light rails," says Diana.) ADDED: Dallas and Billie both note that there is also a solid white train. Billie: "Brown or white, they are real trains that look like trains, not the light rail." Texans for Peace notes that the TRE (Trinity Railway Express) runs from eight in the morning until eleven at night on Saturdays.  September will kick off many actions across the country calling for an end to the illegal war and this Saturday, Texas kicks off the action in Fort Worth. 
In Kennebunkport last week, Dr. Dahlia Wasfi spoke and Common Dreams has posted her speech in full.  We'll note this from the speech:
There has been debate recently within the American peace movement on the issue of support for the Iraqi resistance. The argument has been made by some that we don't support the resistance in Iraq because it's different than it has been for other countries we've invaded. That "what is understood to be 'the Iraqi resistance' is a disaggregated and diverse set of largely unconnected factions…There is no unified leadership that can speak for 'the resistance'…...There is no unified program, either of what the fight is against or what it is for…(Bennis, 2007)"
Well -- judge not lest we be judged, for this is an offensive display of the arrogance of empire.
We sit here 8000 miles away with our luxuries of electricity and water, while Iraqis suffer in the desert heat with no relief, and we tell them they are disorganized. This is fiddling while Iraq burns. People are dying; the question is moot.
We are not fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq; we are slaughtering people's children. We went in to liberate Iraqis from a ruthless dictator we imposed upon them who allegedly killed 300,000 during his 30 year reign of terror. We've accomplished more than triple that in a fraction of the time.
If ever there were legitimate resistance to illegal occupation, it is in Iraq.
If ever there were a people struggling for democracy and independence, there are Iraqis.
If ever there were a people who have known suffering at the hands of bloodthirsty American imperialism, there are Iraqis.
Meanwhile, if "knowledge is power" -- what's Wikipedia.  Mike (Mikey Likes It!) observes that the online encyclopedia has 'cleaned up' puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki's history, removing all references to his exile period in Iran and Syria as well as the fact that he served in the post-invasion interim government on the De-Baathification Commisson
As AFP has reported of al-Maliki, "His first job in post-Saddam Iraq was one perhaps better suited to someone of his background than the premiership; he was head of the de-Baathification commission that booted Saddam's supporters out of public office."  In fact, everything Wikipeida apparently allowed a user from MOREnet to remove has been reported by many outlets.  But the reality of al-Maliki is no longer available to Wikipedia readers. Vanishing it doesn't alter the fact that he left Iraq and lived in Iran and Syria nor does it take away the fact that he served on the De-Baathification Commission.  De-de-Baathing Iraq has been a problem for him to put it mildly.  This month's 'alliance' created by him did not include Sunnis and he's basically tossed out the US White House's 'benchmarks' two and sixteen.  As he continues to turn a blind eye to the thugs serving in his own Interior Ministry who regularly target Sunnis, Wikipedia readers would probably be better served knowing that al-Maliki in fact served on the De-Baathification Commission.  [Mike's write up has been reposted at]
In news of Iraq, Nancy Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that "the Pentagon said Wednesday that it won't make a single unfied recommendation to President Bush during next month's strategy assessment, but instead will allow top commanders to make individual presentations. . . . Military analysts called the move unusual for an institution that ordinarily does not air its differences in public, especially while its troops are deployed in combat."  Meanwhile, Karen DeYoung and Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) obtained a a draft copy of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on Iraq which they term "strikingly negative" and finds that "Iraq has failed to meet all but three of 18 congressionally mandated benchmarks for political and military progress".  The reporters were provided the report out of fear that it the US administration would attempt to water it down or classify sections of it ("as some officials have said happened with security judgments in this month's National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq").
In Iraq, Moqtada al-Sadr declared yesterday that he was asking his forces (Mahdi Army) to stand down for six months (cease operations).  Joshua Partlow and Saad Sarhan (Washington Post) obeserve, "Some officials interpreted the statement to mean Sadr had called off attacks on U.S. soldiers as well as Iraqi opponents, but a source close to Sadr said some fighting would continue in the name of 'self-defense'."  Ewen MacAskill (Guardian of London) reminds, "Mr Sadr, who has thousands of armed men at his command, has called truces before but these have been short-lived."  Carol J. Williams (Los Angeles Times) reports, "Aides to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr appeared Thursday to place conditions on his call for a six-month halt to militia operations . . .   The militia operations were frozen for no more than six months, said the aide, Abu Firas Muteri, 'and the halt can be revoked at any time if there is a need for that'."
Turning to broken record news, Hoshyar Zerbari -- Iraq's Foreign Minister and apparent KC and the Sunshine Band fanatic, has only one song to sing these days, "So please don't go, Don't go, Don't go away, Please don't go, Don't go, I'm begging you to stay . . ."  On the United Kingdom's planned withdrawal from Basra, Martin Fletcher (Times of London) notes Zerbari has questioned and critiqued Britain's committment to the illegal war and quotes Zerbari declaring, "I am worried, absolutely worried."  So worried in fact that he rushed to give Bassem Mroue (AP) a soundbyte as well, this time on the reports that US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Gen. David Petreaus will give to Congress (after the White House 'polishes' it): "The whole world is waiting anxiously to see what this report will indicate.  I personally believe that this report would not provide any magical solutions or provide any magical solutions or provide and instant answers to the difficulties and challenges we are going through."  Zebari, take a breath.  Anyone remembering the Zebari of 2003?  The one who told Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) that the US had to give up control of Iraq "because their present course -- occupation by America alone -- won't be successful."  Apparently, Zebari doesn't remember that.  But he's a busy guy.  He's also announced he's hosting "a meeting with Iraq's neighboring countries, the five permanent members of the United Nations, and the G-8 during the first week of September."
AP reports Zebari's also issuing statements regarding Iran allegedly shelling "Kurdish guerilla positions in border areas" which the government of Iran claims is launching attacks in Iran.  In a rush of words, Zerbari explains that this "has been ongoing and unfortunately has become a daily or a routine practice.  Recently, we summoned the Iranian ambassador and handed him a note of protest. . . . [We] demanded an immediate cessation of these attacks on innocent people because it has led to extensive damage to the property, to the environment of the area and it also has led many people to leave their homes because of the continuation of the shelling."  The PEJAK is the group accused of shelling Iran, they are also accused of shelling Turkey and launching attacks there and a splinter group of the PKK which is considered a 'terrorist' group by many countries (including the US).  They are a Kurdish group (Zerbari himself is a Kurd) and the Turkish government has been very vocal about their belief that actions launched by the group from Iraq are ignored.  The Turkish Daily News reports, "In a speciall session called after the alleged bombing in northern Iraq by Turkey and Iran, the parliament of the northern Iraqi government called on both its neighbors to find a solution to the conflict through dialogue, reported the NTV news channel yesterday.  Parliament speaker, Adnan Mufti, stated that the stability of the region was severely threatened due to the shelling of northern Iraqi territories."  As Lenore G. Martin (Boston Globe) noted today the US "administration's polices are pushing Turkey toward Iran rather than planting it firmly in the US security network."  Martin notes pre-illegal war fears in Turkey that the Iraq War would result in the northern section of Iraq becoming a Kurdish state thereby encouraging a similar, ongoing push led by the PKK.  Martin sketches out the conflict:
With the revival of PKK violence in Turkey in 2004, Turkish fears concerning Kurdistan are becoming a reality. The PKK is ensconced in the Kandil mountains of Northern Iraq, killing Turkish soldiers almost daily, and has set off bombs in major Turkish cities. The Kurdish Regional Government, led by Massoud Barzani, refuses to isolate or oust the PKK.
In response, the Turkish military has assembled a large force at the border and threatened to invade northern Iraq. The United States is warning Turkey not to, fearing that a major Turkish military incursion will destabilize Kurdistan, currently the most stable region in Iraq.
This stability is ephemeral. Indeed, signs of trouble are already evident, due in part to the contest between Kurds and the rest of Iraq over oil-rich Kirkuk. The instability is likely to continue, whether the constitutionally mandated referendum over Kirkuk's fate is held or not. The Sunni and Shia will not live quietly with the inclusion of Kirkuk into the Kurdish Regional Government -- at least without an oil-sharing agreement, which has proved elusive.
While Iraq's Foreign Minister critiques the British decision to withdraw, David Miliband, UK Foreign Secretary, has his own (and presumably the British government's take).  Thomas Harding (Telegraph of London) reports that Miliband has indicated what others think (including the US) really isn't the issue declaring "we will always take British decision in the British national interest.  Our decision about Basra are about the situation on the ground in Basra not the situation on the ground in Baghdad" (with Harding noting that was "in reference to America's zone of control").
Turning to some of today's violence . . .

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports three police officers wounded in a Baghdad roadside bombing while another Baghdad roadside bombing wounded four civilians, a third had no known fatalities or injuries but a fourth claimed 1 life (two more wounded) while 2 Kirkuk roadside bombings which left a bodyguard of police brigadier Burhan Taeeb wounded; while "Wednesday night" a Kirkuk car bombing claimed 3 lives (four wounded).  CNN reports that "at least four Iraqi police officers" were wounded while they attempted to dismantle a bomb planted on a bridge in Baghdad: "Insurgents have targeted bridges in and around the Iraqi capital in recent months, including a suicide bombing in June that killed three U.S. soldiers and wounded six other near Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad.  That blast triggered a highway overpass to collapse on the Americans."
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that Abu Haider Al-Hasnawi was shot dead ("head of Najaf oil warehouses"); while yesterday
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
Today the US military announced: "One Task Force Lightning Soldier was killed by an explosion near his vehicle while conducting combat operations in Diyala province, August 29."  And they announced: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed and another wounded during combat operations in a western section of the Iraqi capital Aug. 30."
ICCC's total for the number of US service members announced dead this month is 77 so far with 3735 being the number since the start of the illegal war.
Another thing we'll be noting through the end of the week -- events for  Army of None, published by Seven Stories Press, available at Courage to Resist and many other places, which is written by Aimee Allison and David Solnit. Tonight there will be a release celebration for the event at Club Oasis (135 12th St., btwen. Madison and Oak Sts., Oakland 6 blocks E. of Broadway/12th St. -- click here for East Bay express' map of Club Oasis' location). The event is free and open to all. The authors will be there, Jeff Paterson will have a slide show, there will be a puppet show, poets, snakcs, a dj . . . The event starts at 6:30 pm. More information can be found [Warning: MySpace page] by clicking here.

Aug 29, at 12:00P, Aimee and David on KPFA Radio! @ KPFA Radio 94.1;
Aug 30, at 6:00P
Army of None Book Release Party & Tour Kick-Off @ Oasis Restaurant & Bar - Oakland, CA;
Sep 14 at 4:00P
Army of None Workshop - San Jose, CA @ Californians for Justice, San Jose, CA;
Sep 14 at 7:30P
Army of None Book Release/Signing - San Jose, CA @ Dowtown San Jose - Location TBA; Sep 15 at 12:00P Army of None Tour in Pittsburgh, PA;
Sep 19 at 7:00P
Army of None Tour in Cleveland, OH;
Sep 20 at 6:00P
Army of None Tour @ Kent, OH;
Sep 23 at 6:00P
Army of None Tour @ Milwaukee, WI;
Sep 24 at 6:00P
Army of None Tour in Milwaukee, WI @ Milwaukee, WI;
Sep 25 at 7:00P
Army of None Tour @ Madison, WI;
Sep 26 at 6:00P
Army of None Tour @ Madison, WI;
Sep 27 at 6:30P
Army of None Tour @ May Day Books, Minneapolis MN;
Sep 28 at 10:00A
Army of None Tour @ High Schools in Minneapolis, MN;
Sep 28 at 7:30P
Army of None Tour @ Lyndale United Church of Christ, Minneapolis MN;
Sep 29 at 1:00P
Army of None Tour @ Rondo Community Outreach Library - St. Paul, MN;
Oct 12 at 7:00P
Army of None Tour @ Bluestockings Bookstore - New York City;
and Oct 17 at 7:00P
Army of None Tour @ Sanctuary for Independent Media - Troy, NY

Looking for a deal? Find great prices on flights and hotels with Yahoo! FareChase.