Monday, October 29, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Monday, October 29, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, oil prices continue to soar, the US military reports a general wounded, a former US soldier attacks the press (disgracing himself and the country), and more.
Starting with war resisters.  Saturday protests took place around the world.  Brett Clarkson (Toronto Sun) reports that their protests included chants of "George Bush we know you, your daddy's a killer too!," that at least 1500 marched "from the U.S. Consulate to Moss Park in opposition to the Canadian military presence in Afghanistan and the U.S. war in Iraq" and that among those standing up for peace was US war resister Patrick Hart formerly "of the 101st Airborne Division, stationed in Fort Campbell, Ky.  Hart, who is facing deportation from Canada, went AWOL in August 2005".  Meanwhile Nicholas Davis (Toronto Sun) tells the story of Isaiah Trickey -- who grew up in Kenabeek Ontario with his two brothers and three sisters and both of his parents -- realization growing up that his mother was a historical figure.  Isaiah's mother is Minnijean Brown Trickey one of The Little Rock Nine who stood up to racism, violence and the Arkansas National Guard to attend Little Rock Central High in 1957 therebysmashing the "Whites Only" policy at the high school.  Over the years -- she served in the Clinton administration's Department of Interior -- when asked how a young, teenage woman could stand up, she's usually responded with some variation of, "It had to be done."  Which it did but that didn't mean it didn't require tremendous bravery and strength for all nine of The Little Rock Nine (or their parents, as Minnijean Brown Trickey always notes).  She married Roy Trickey in September of 1967 (by the way -- most of this isn't in the article, we're having a history lesson -- a needed one if any of this is new to you). Members of the SNCC, they actively protested the war in Vietnam.  When Roy Trickey received his draft notice, he applied for CO status but when that was not granted, they left the US for Toronto, made a home there and raised their six children.  The marriage ended in 1992 and Minnijean Brown Trickey returned to the US in 1999.
Turning to Hawaii, Rachel Gehriein (Kaui Garden Island News) reports that the Kaua's Peace 'Ohana rally on Saturday, "Supporter Linda Estes had one goal in mind as she held a sign in support for Lieutenant Ehren Watada.  Watada, a Honolulu native, was the first commissioned officer in the U.S. armed forces to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq in June 2006.  Watada believe the war to be illegal and wound make him party to war crimes."
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."
On this week's Progressive Radio, Matthew Rothschild interviewed Tariq Ali.
Matthew Rothschild: How stuck is the United States right now in Iraq?  I mean Bush is trying the so-called surge of course and there seems to be no end in sight.
Tariq Ali:  There is no end in sight till the US troops and the troops of their allies are withdrawn from that region.  As long as US troops remain there, the area will be destabilized.   The big question now is: Are the Iraqi parties going to succeed -- and the Iraqi groups -- going to succeed to rise above narrow identity politics and create a national government which preserves and maintains the unity of Iraq?  This is an open question.  I can't answer definitively one way or the other the way the occupation has gone it's sort of quite strange that when there are imperial, colonial style occupations, one of the things they do is divide the country.
Matthew Rothschild: It seems that the Bush administration is kind of leaning that way right now.
Tariq Ali: It does look like it.  And Peter Galbrath and other Democrats writing in The New York Review of Books are more or less arguing for that.  It's deeply shocking.
Matthew Rothschild: He's been pushing for that for awhile.  Of course he's also been a lobbyist for the Kurds in the north.
Tariq Ali: He has.  I think that is what explains it.  But you know the nation that you can create a US-Israeli protectorate in northern Iraq and call it Kurdistan is not going to work because even as we speak the Turkish armies are massing on the border, the Turkish parliament has approved by an overwhelming majority -- I was surprised by the size of the majority -- that Turkey has the right to cross the border and take out the Kurds.  Essentially, they've done that so that is going to destabilize them.  And the Mediterraen -- cause Turkey is sort of a staunch pillar of NATO and has been since the second world war.  So if they're now going to antagonize the Turks for the sake of creating a tiny protectorate in northern Iraq, it's not going to look good for them. 
Matthew Rothschild: What do you make of the just kind of bread and butter arguments that are thrown around here in the United States for justifying the continued occupation? Tariq Ali, one is that we need to stay there for humanitarian reasons, that there's going to be a bigger bloodbath if we leave?
Tariq Ali: This is one of the more grotesque arguments which I hear.  You know, if you look at it, you go in, you occupy a country, nearly a million people are dead -- civilians -- not combatants, 2 million refugees, the entire social infrastructure of the country is destroyed, it's divided basically into three regions and then you say if we leave there will be a mess.  How could there be a bigger mess? 
Tariq Ali went on to note that when the US leaves it won't be sunshine and flowers "but in the medium term there's a much, much better chance for Iraqis sorting this out than with foreign troops and bases on their soil."  Elaine will note the interview tonight at her site Like Maria Said Paz. 
Ali spoke of the growing tensions between Turkey and northern Iraq.  From Friday's snapshot: "Meanwhile, CBS and AP report that Turkey has decided to put on hold the decision of what to do about or not do 'until the prime minister visits Washington in November before deciding on a cross-border offensive into northern Iraq, the country's top military commander said Friday'."  If th assessment was accurate, it fell through quickly.  Eric Margolis (Toronto Sun) notes, "No one should be surprised by the dangerous crisis between Turkey and Iraq-based Kurdish separatists. Critics long warned the U.S. invasion of Iraq would inevitably release the genii of Kurdish nationalism. Creation of a virtually independent, U.S.-backed Kurdish state in northern Iraq was certain to provoke Turkish fury."  Barbara Miller (Australia's ABC) reports that "weekend talks between Iraqi and Turkish officials have broken down" and quotes Kurd and Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari state that the Turkish demands (turning over PKK leaders) "is a very heavy demand".  Noting that 40 "Turks have been killed by the PKK in the past month," Lara Marlowe (The Irish Times) also sees the realationship between the two countries "continue to deteriorate".
Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) observes, "Iraqi Kurdish officials, for their part, appear to be politely ignoring American calls for action, saying the only serious solution is political, not military. They have taken their own path, allowing the guerrillas to exist on their territory, while at the same time quietly trying to persuade them to stop attacks."  Tim Butcher (Telegraph of London) reports, "Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq are warning local people to prepare to run for the hills if Turkey attacks" and quotes Kurdish farmer Mohammed Rajoul declaring, "They came and said we must get ready.   They said if we see Turkish planes or helicopters we must not hide in our hourses but must hide outside among the rocks.  This is the first time we have been told to prepare for attacks and we are afraid."  As the tensions escalate, oil prices soar.  AP reports, "Oil prices rose above $93 a barrel to a new trading high Monday in Asia on growing political tensions in the Middle East, a weak dollar and worries about the supply outlook ahead of winter." BBC also notes that crude has broken $93 a barrel.  Mark Shenk (Bloomberg News) informs the price per barrel hit $93.80 "in New York after Mexico shut a fifth of its production and the dollar fell to a record low."  Moming Zhou and Steve Goldstein (MarketWatch) note that after reaching $93.80 the price dropped to . . . $93.53 thereby closing "at a new record high".  New Zealand's The National Business Review warns, "Prices are approaching all-time highs set in 1979 and early 1980, when prices rose to $38 a barrel, or the equivalent of $96 to $101 a barrel or more in today's dollars."
Violence within Iraq continued over the weekend.  Sunday news came of ever more attacks on officials.   Jenan Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) reported that a "prominent member of the Supreme Election Committee in Basra" was shot dead in Basra today and that on Saturday a member of the Islamic Party was shot dead in Basra with three more being wounded and two being kidnapped. Reuters noted that the "retired police brigadier-general" was shot dead in Mosul, that a police officer was shot dead in Hawija and that a woman was shot dead in a Kut home invasion today while Saturday there was a Mosul gunfire attack on "a police colonel and his driver".  The Kansas City Star reported, "Eleven tribal leaders who had banded with U.S. troops to fight the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaide in Iraq were kidnapped Sunday" -- the leaders were Sunni and Shi'ite sheiks and "members of the Salam Support Council" and a spokesperson for the group blames the Mahdi Army for the kidnappings while a family member of one of the kidnapped blames "Sunni extremists" (the corpses of Mishaan Hilan has already been discovered). AFP noted that last "Monday, Sadr had warned his fighters to obey the current six-month suspension of his Mahdi Army militia or face being branded as traitors."  Amit R. Paley (Washington Post via San Jose Mercury News) noted the 11 kidnapped "had banded with U.S. soldiers to fight the Sunni insurgent group Al-Qaida in Iraq," that the kidnapping was "the latest in a string of such attacks" and that "Hadi al-Anbaki, a spokesman for the mostly Shiite council, said the attack was carried out by the Mahdi Army, a militia controlled by the anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.  'This was an ambus,' Anbaki said.  The kidnapping highlighted the complex and quickly shifting nature of the bloodshed convulsing Iraq, with Shiite and Sunni groups increasingly targeting members of their own sects who align themselves with U.S. forces."  Friday, Diane Rehm pointed out on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, the reported reduction in Shi'ite on Sunni and Sunni on Shi'ite violence has been replaced with inner-sect violence in Iraq.  Camilla Hall (Bloomberg News) notes, "Ten Sunni and Shiite Muslim tribal sheikhs were seized on Oct. 27 as they returned to Diyala from a meeting in Baghdad to discuss combating al-Qaeda."  Eleven were kidnapped but Mishaan Hilan's corpse has already been reported discovered.  BBC is reporting that 8 of the kidnapped have been rescued and citing the Iraq Defence Ministry as their source.
Turning to some of today's violence . . .
A bombing in Baquba resulted in mass fatalities.  CNN reports a bicycle bombing took place near an Iraqi police base.  CBS and AP cite eye witness police recruit Akram Salam who believe "it must have been an inside job because the suicide bomber apparently was able to penetrate heavy security surrounding the police camp without being searched.  He said police failed to stop the bomber when he changed course suddenly from the main road toward the recruits" and quote Salman stating, "The police are infiltrated.  Many people join the police but they have affiliations with al Qaeda.  The infiltrators made it easy for the bomber to attack us.  There are two main checkpoints on the main road leading to the camp, it would be impossible for a man on a bicycle to pass without being properly searched."  Ross Colvin (Reuters) reports the death toll from the Baquba bombing rose to 30 Iraqi police officers or recruits. 
In other bombings?
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing that left four people wounded, a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded three, a Tikrit car bombing that claimed 3 lives and left nine wounded, a Tirkit rocket attack on "a children playground . . . killing one child and injuring 7 others." Reuters notes that Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Dorko, US general, has been injured in a Baghdad roadside bombing ("wounds were not life threatening").  Reuters notes a Siniya car bombing that claimed 8 lives and left thirteen wounded.
Reuters notes 3 women and 1 man were shot dead in a Mosul home invasion, 1 person shot dead in Iraq and a police officer was shot dead in Falluja.  Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports , "Iraqi police said that an American convoy killed Citizen Qadir Noori, 45, he was driving his car on a main road connecting Kirkuk to Arbil."
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) report 4 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.  Reuters notes 20 corpses (headless) were discovered west of Baquba, northeast of Baghdad.  BBC says the Iraqi government denies the discovery.
Turning to criticism of the illegal war.  Gethin Chamberlain (Telegraph of London) speaks with "[o]ne of the most senior British commanders in Iraq" who says "that there is no point in fighting on in Basra, likening British troops in the city to 'Robocop' and admitting that innocent people were hurt as a result of their actions."  Meanwhile Joshua Partlow (Washington Post via Truthout) speaks with members of the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division and Sgt. Victor Alarcon tells him, "I don't think this place is worth another soldier's life."  And criticism mounts in Australia as well.  Paul Bibby (Sydney Morning Herald) reports that Andrew Wilkie ("former Australian intelligence officer turned Greens candidate" and "former Lieutenant-Colonel") has stated the death of two Australian soldiers in Afghanistan (Matthew Locke last week and David Pearce earlier in the month) should not have happened, that they "died unnecessarily because we should not have still been there" and he pins the reason Australian troops are still in Afghanistan on the US led illegal war in Iraq. Wilkie: "We would not have been in Afghanistan now if we had finished the job back when we could have finished the job in 2002. But because we were distracted by Iraq we really drew down on our forces in Afghanistan to go to Iraq. That allowed the anti-Government forces, primarily the Taliban, to be the serious threat that they are. Those two diggers died unnecessarily." Australia holds national elections Saturday, November 24th. Bully Boy athletic cup holder John Howard may or may not remain as prime minister. Australia's Herald-Sun reports that Wilkie's running mate, Bob Brown has made similar comments -- Brown: "That said, we ought not be in Afghanistan because the Bush administration backed by John Howard made a huge strategic error there at the start of this decade when they withdrew troops from Afghanistan, having taken over the country, got rid of the Taliban and went to the invasion of Iraq."
But while some realize it's time to leave, scum holds on -- as Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, the return of human cockroach, CIA asset and professional liar Chalabi. Youssef informs that puppet of the occuaption Nouri al Maliki named Chaliabi "as head of the services committee . . . tasked with bringing services to Baghdad" last month.. 
Finally in DUMB ASS news . . .  Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today that Mario Lozano who WRONGLY shot dead Nicola Calipari, an Italian intelligence agent, has told Reuters the person responsible for the death is Giuliana Sgrena stating, "She went out there, she wanted to mingle with the terrorists and all that. Then she gets caught. Now we have to send, now we have to send good men to go after this one person that knows that she put herself in the situation. She knows that if she's going to go talk to terrorists, she knows there's a 99 percent chance she will get caught. So why'd she do that for? Is beyond my... I don't understand. So it's her fault that this is happening, it's not my fault. It's not my fault, it's not America's fault, it's not the Italian government's fault, it's Sgrena's fault."  Lozano, not Sgrena, pulled the trigger.  Sgrena did not go to Iraq to kill anyone, to rape anyone -- not even a 14 year-old girl, to steal law, or anything else.  She went there to report and if Lozano can't grasp that what she did is a great deal more important than what he did that goes to the lousy education system we have the United States and military brass that prefer to order attacks on journalists instead of honoring the First Amendment.  In the case Calipari he died.  Sgrena was wounded as was Andrea Carpani.  The fault for the two wounded and the death of Calipari is the US military which knew Sgrena was being taken to the Baghdad International Airport and apparently did not convey to those on the ground (which would include Lozano).  The press attempting to cover a story is not to blame and that's embarrassing assertion coming from anyone.  Lozano shot and killed Calipari.  Not because Sgrena was doing her job but because his superiors weren't doing their job.  Blaming Sgrena is embarrassing in and of itself, doing so when your actions have already sparked one international incident is begging for another one.  This attitude, more than anything else, should demonstrate that the US military does not 'preserve' our freedoms.  Our freedoms (under attack, to be sure) are guaranteed by the Constitution and preserved by American citizens.  For making it clear that in his training by the US military, the freedoms Americans have and their importance was never stressed, Lozano -- dumb ass though he may be -- may deserve a huge thanks.  His thanks are undercut by his blatant chauvinism ("good men") and the fact that he seems to be under mistaken belief that US soldiers had a damn thing to do with Sgrena's rescue.  (They did not.)   Reporters are not above criticism, but to imply that when they are hurt, kidnapped or killed while attempting to do their job -- however well or poorly they do the job -- is disgusting.  Lozano killed Calipari.  Pushing the blame off on Sgrena won't bring Calipari back to life or change the fact that Lozano shot him.  That's reality.  Reality is also that the Italian judge who announced the decision not to pursue charges yet has yet to release the opinion itself.  Translation, it's not smart to anger a country when charges against you aren't completely dropped.

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