Thursday, October 25, 2007

Iraq snapshot

October 25, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, the price of oil per barrel skyrockets again, conflict continues between Turkey and northern Iraq, CODEPINK represents the people, and more.
Starting with war resistance.  Ted Rall ( offers his reflections on resistance during Vietnam and resistance today: "Soldiers who want antiwar Americans to march to demand that they be brought home should take a cue from Vietnam veterans.  They marched with peace protesters and threw their medals at the Capitol.  Soldiers serving on the front refused orders.  Some fragged their officers.  Vietnam Veterans Against the War claimed more than 50,000 members by 1971.  That year saw numerous dramatic acts of dissent by U.S. troops, including 50 veterans who marched to the Pentagon and demanded that they be arrested as war criminals.  Fifteen vets took over and barricaded the Statue of Liberty for two days.  These acts swayed opinions and helped convince lawmakers it was time to withdraw.  Some soldiers in Iraq have offered resistance.  After being denied conscientious objector status, Petty Officer Third Class Pablo Paredes went AWOL in 2004.  He was sentenced to two months in the brig and three months hard labor.  Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada refused to be sent to Iraq in 2006, telling the media that the war's illegality would make him a party to war crimes.  Army Specialist Darrell Anderson, faced with a second tour of duty after being wounded by a roadside bomb deserted and fled to Canada.  'I went to Iraq willingly,' said Anderson. 'I wanted to die for my country.  I thought I was going to go there and protect my family back home.  All I was doing was killing other families there.'  The Army decided not to prosecute him.  Several other deserters have applied for political asylum in Canada, but they're only a fraction of the thousands who went there during the 1960s and 1970s."
In the October 18th snapshot, we noted someone considered AWOL (and noted he "may or may not be a war resister"):  "Robert Przybyski" -- the last name is missing an "l" (my fault) Przybylski.  John Vandiver (Stars and Stripes) provides an update, "Capt. Robert Przbylski, the Baumholder-based officer who has been absent without leave since Oct. 10, remains missing but does not appear to be in any danger, authorities reported Wednesday. . . .  Army officials remain tight-lipped about the circumstances involving the captain's disappearance."
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, 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, Blake LeMoine, 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, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty 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 [(877) 447-4487], 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.
The National Lawyers Guild's convention begins shortly: The Military Law Task Force and the Center on Conscience & War are sponsoring a Continuing Legal Education seminar -- Representing Conscientious Objectors in Habeas Corpus Proceedings -- as part of the National Lawyers Guild National Convention in Washington, D.C.  The half-day seminar will be held on Thursday, November 1st, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the convention site, the Holiday Inn on the Hill in D.C.  This is a must-attend seminar, with excelent speakers and a wealth of information.  The seminar will be moderated by the Military Law Task Force's co-chair Kathleen Gilberd and scheduled speakers are NYC Bar Association's Committee on Military Affairs and Justice's Deborah Karpatkin, the Center on Conscience & War's J.E. McNeil, the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee's Peter Goldberger, Louis Font who has represented Camilo Mejia, Dr. Mary Hanna and others, and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's James Feldman.  The fee is $60 for attorneys; $25 for non-profit attorneys, students and legal workers; and you can also enquire about scholarships or reduced fees.  The convention itself will run from October 31st through November 4th and it's full circle on the 70th anniversary of NLG since they "began in Washington, D.C." where "the founding convention took place in the District at the height of the New Deal in 1937,  Activist, progressive lawyers, tired of butting heads with the reactionary white male lawyers then comprising the American Bar Association, formed the nucleus of the Guild." 
Turning to the US where there is an opposition party in Congress: CODEPINK.  The only voice of sanity in the halls of Congress attended the House Foreign Relations Committe hearing yesterday as Secretary of State and Anger Condi Rice prepared to deliver her usual non-performance as Congress delivered their own.  The Let's All Pretend It's Still A Democracy road show was interrupted by CODEPINK's Desiree Anita Ali-Fairooz who, with red pain on her hands, spoke the truth no one elected can or will, "You've got the blood of millions of Iraqis on your hands."  (See As Cedric and Wally's joint-post yesterday.)  "Stylish" Condi pretended not to notice. White House flack Dana Perino pronounced it "despicable.  And unfortunately, it seems that increasingly Congress is being run by CODEPINK."  Oh, if only.  Instead War Hawk Tom Lantos had all of CODEPINK kicked out of the hearing and Congress returned to its usual ineffective posture. CODEPINK's Desiree Fairooz, Lis Hourican, Lori Purdue, Medea Benjamin and Zool Zulkowitz were arrested but "The Deputy Chief of Staff of the House Foreign Relations Committee contacted the Capitol Police later in the day to again relay that their is a policy of that committee to not arrest Citizen protesters but to instead escort them out of the room."  The arrest of Benjamim effected a planned action today.
Staying with CODEPINK, Tuesday Karen Miller (Free Speech Radio News) reported, "The original purpose of the database was to share information about dangerous criminals, sex offenders, fugitives and members of terrorist organizations among different levels of law enforcement. It has since become apparent that peace activists have been added to the watch list. Medea Benjamin of the anti-war group, Code Pink, was recently refused entry into Canada when she was on her way to attend a peace rally. That's why Code Pink members decided to protest today in front of the Canadian embassy in Washington DC. Benjamin has been arrested a number of times for anti-war actions, but she says Canada's decision to bar entrance to some activists is troubling: 'One, the FBI should never be putting non-violent misdemeanor offenses on a criminal database. Second, Canada should not be using a US database to say who can come into a country.' At today's protest, Code Pink delivered over 20,000 petitions from US and Canadian citizens collected over the last 2 weeks urging Canada to change its policy."  From the October 4th snapshot:
Yesterday, Wright and CODEPINK's Medea Benjamin attempted to enter Canada "crossing near Buffalo to attend a conference sponsored by a Canadian peace coalition in Toronto."  As CODEPINK notes, "At the Buaffalo-Niagara Falls Bridge they were detained, questioned and denied entry. . . .  The women were questioned at Canadian customs about their participation in anti-war efforts and informed that they had an FBI file indicating they had been arrested in acts of non-violent civil disobedience."  Benjamin explains, "In my case, the border guard pulled up a file showing that I had been arrested at the US Mission to the UN where, on International Women's Day, a group of us had tried to deliver a peace petition signed by 152,000 women around the world.  For this, the Canadians labeled me a criminal and refused to allow me in the country."  Wright declares, "The FBI's placing of peace activists on an international criminal database is blatant political intimidation of US citizens opposed to Bush administration policies.  The Canadian government should certainly not accept this FBI database as the criteria for entering the country." 
AP reported yesterday that Ann Wright and Medea Benjamin "plan to fly to Ottowa on Thursday at the invitation of several members of Parliament."  Due to the arrest, Medea Benjamin was not able to fly to Ottawa.  Ann Wright did.  The Canadian Press reports that Wright "is being detained at Ottawa airport" and that "while other passengers passed through Customs, Wright was held back."  AP quotes CODEPINK's Dana Balicki stating, "She's being turned away from the border and she's being banned from Canada for the next year."
Turning to some of the reported violence in Iraq . . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports three Baghdad roadside bombings in the afternoon as US troops attempted to defuse them (no reported casualties or fatalities).  Reuters notes a Khalis mortar attack that claimed the lives of 2 women and 2 children while a Mahaweel roadside bombing claimed 1 life.
Reuters notes Iraqi police shot dead a child in Kufa.  An alleged terrorist, to be sure.  Kim Gamel (AP) reports a Sunni school teacher Ahmed al-Janabi  was kidnapped today and later discovered "with three gunshots to his eyes."
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad.  Reuters notes 8 corpses in Baquba and 1 was discovered in Mahaweel.
In a press conference yesterday Joint Chiefs of Staff Major and Director of Operational Planning General Richard Sherlock repeatedly stressed the hope of a diplomatic solution to the issue of the continued strain between Turkey and northern Iraq due to the "issue for several decades in that area in that area" and also stated that "there are a number of US forces staioned in the northwest portion of Iraq.  As far as where specifically they're stationed or in what strengths, I don't want to go into -- at this point in time, again, this is a bilateral issue that we are working with both nations to try to produce what's an acceptable solution to both."  Evren Mesci (Reuters) notes Turkis president Abdullah Gul has stated an attack by the PKK was "repelled . . . near the Iraqi border" today.  CBS and AP note Gul declared patience was running thin and that Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, declared "that U.S. objections would not stop Turkey from crossing into Iraq to eliminate Kurdish rebels."
Meanwhile the Turkish Daily News reports, "Turkish televsion channels and journalist organizations harshly criticized a broadcasting ban implemented late Tuesday by the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) on stories about the recent attacks by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).  While the anchorman of popular national channel Kanal D, Mehmet Ali Birand, criticized the blackout during Tuesday evening news, SKYTurk reported only on interesting stories from daily life, with a banner on the bottom of the screen that read "Mandatory reports off the agenda."  Vincent Boland (Financial Times of London) notes that Erdogan is set to meet with the Bully Boy in DC November 5th.  AFP notes an Iraq delegation has arrived in Turkey "led by Defence Minister Abdel Qader Mohammed Jassim" and including "Iraq's intelligence chief and senior officials from the Iraqi interior and foreign ministries".  BBC notes, "The Turkish army said on Thursday that it had killed more than 30 Kurdish rebels while fending off an attack on the Iraqi border two days earlier."  Nico Hines (Times of London) quotes the Turkish prime minister declaring, "(The United States) may not want us to carry out a cross-border operation.  But it is we who will decide whether to do one or not."  Suna Erdem (Times of London) states the meet up between the Iraqi delegation with Turkish officials is being called the "final chance".  Desperate to grab a few more minutes of almost-fame, John Howard attempts to insert himself into the conflict.  The Herald Sun of Australia reports the bully boy down under has declared that "the tensions on the Turkey-Iraq border will not help the west's battle for democracy in Iraq."  That 'battle' was lost long ago but Howard's days in office may be numbered and he needed to play lapdog one more time in public.
Puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki declared earlier this week that the PKK centers in northern Iraq would be closed.  Bobby Caina Calvan and Yaseen Taha (McClatchy Newspapers) report that Jamal Abdullah, flack for the Kurdish government in northern Iraq, declared, "We believe that the statements of Mr. Maliki about closing the centers of the PKK don't apply to us because we do not have any centers. If Mr. Maliki knows about any centers of the PKK in areas under the control of the central government, let him close these centers and we will encourage and support him. But in areas under our control, there is not a single center."   Asso Ahmed and Yesim Borg (Los Angeles Times) report, "Prime Minister Nouri Maliki promised on a visit to Turkey in November that he would shut down the PKK offices.  However, they were never formally closed, and Maliki renewed the pledge this week, as Turkey threatened to send its military across the border to attack PKK sites in northern Iraq".  Christine Spolar (Chicago Tribune) reports: "The PKK, known formally as the Kurdistan Workers' Party, is considered a terrorist group by the U.S., but the rebels have not been constricted since U.S. forces entered Iraq in March, 2003." Meanwhile, as did Deborah Haynes (Times of London) earlier this week, Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) goes looking for the PKK camps, "For a guerrilla movement awaiting assault, the PKK's leaders are surprisingly easy to find. We drove east from Arbil for two-and-a-half hours and hired a four-wheel drive car in the village of Sangassar. Iraqi police wearing camouflage uniform were at work building a new outpost out of cement blocks beside the road leading into the mountains but only took our names.  In fact the four-wheel drive was hardly necessary because there is a military road constructed by Saddam Hussein's army in the 1980s which zig-zags along the side of a steep valley until it reaches the first PKK checkpoint.  The PKK soldiers with Kalashnikovs and two grenades pinned to the front of their uniform were relaxed and efficient.  In case anybody should have any doubt about who was in control there was an enormous picture of the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan picked out in yellow, black, white and red painted stones on a hill half a mile away and visible over a wide area."
Economic factors are also at play.  Joshua Partlow and Ellen Knickmeyer (Washington Post) note that "Turkey is a leading trade partner with northern Iraq . . . Turkish construction firms are reponsible for 90 percent of rebuilding projects in Iraq's Kurdish north, officials there estimate, and Turkish companies are taking part in many private projects as well in a post-invasion building boom in the north."  Mark Bentley (Bloomberg News) explains that the Turkish National Security Council is calling for "'immediate' ecnomic sanctions against northern Iraq, including closing border crossings and halting exports of electricity."  Earlier today, BBC noted that oil prices were again rising and headed towards $90 a barrel.  Steve Hargreaves (CNNMoney) reports that they hit ninety dollars and kept going "breaking the previous record" to hit $90.60 a barrel.

Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around