Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Other Items

KUNA reports that Abdurrazaq Qassem was kidnapped yesterday in Basra where he is "the director of Basra International Airport." Abdul-Razzaq Hashim is the spelling Reuters offers. The targeting of officials continues in Iraq.

The photo is of a small child named Bully Boy of the United States being taken to the cockpit to see how planes fly. It's from a 2006 trip to Iraq. Last month, Bully Boy had a lay over in Iraq and elected to land at al-Asad Air Base in the Anbar Province. Apparently, any future trips by the Bully Boy will have to cross Basra's airport off the list of possibilities the same way that Baghdad's been crossed off.

On small children, Vince notes "Eric Alterman, The Democrats, and the 'Stab in the Back'" by Paul Street (ZNet):

The Nation's snotty, radical-baiting columnist Eric Alterman (1) doesn't get it. In the latest issue of The Nation, the know-it-all Democrat Alterman warns us (rather belatedly and unoriginally) about "The Coming Stab in the Back Campaign" (2).
"Having exposed their country to the ignominy of certain defeat in Iraq," Alterman notes, "the Bush administration and its neoconservative allies are seeking to salvage their crumbling reputations by blaming their critics for the catastrophe their policies have wrought. We are witnessing the foundation for a post-Iraq 'stab in the back' campaign" -- a right-wing public relations offensive that will question the national loyalty of those who recognize the reality of U.S. failure and place the blame "for a supposedly premature withdrawal to those who refuse to play along."
The allegation will be that evil "left" war opponents like (believe it or not) Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Zbigniew Brzezinski stuck a fatal and treasonous dagger in the White House’s virtuous war for “Iraqi Freedom” by not “supporting the troops.”
The "stab in the back campaign" is real and underway. But there are two key problems with Alterman's column. The first difficulty is that the vicious, Nazi-like campaign (3) he seems to think he discovered has been well known and widely commented upon for some time by now (4). The second and more relevant problem is that the Alterman says nothing about why leading Democrats have at least partly earned the absurd backstab charge. He does not grasp that the Democrats have made themselves into big fat Iraq War Swift-boating targets by failing to admit and confront the elementary fact that the invasion of Mesopotamia is a brazenly imperialist and mass- murderous crime.

In fairness to AlterPunk he can't call the Democratic leadership out over worshiping at the crotch of the US military without first removing his own tongue. And he don't wanna, no, he don't wanna.

Turning to the crisis in Iraq that has resulted in over four million Iraqi refugees (internally and externally). At the end of last month, Amnesty International released "Iraq: Refugee crisis unfolds amid global apathy:"

The international community is failing to address adequately Iraq's spiralling refugee crisis leaving the main host countries of Syria and Jordan shouldering too much of the responsibility, Amnesty International said in a report published today. As a result, these two countries are now tightening border controls, and so cutting off the main escape routes for people fleeing from sectarian and other violence in Iraq.
The report, Millions in flight: the Iraqi refugee crisis, commends the Syrian and Jordanian governments for largely keeping their borders open to date but accuses other states of doing too little to help them cope with the huge demands they face in meeting the needs of the almost 2 million Iraqi refugees whom they now host.
"The desperate humanitarian situation of displaced Iraqis, including the refugees and those who remain within Iraq, has been largely ignored by the world," said Malcolm Smart, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International. "A deepening humanitarian crisis and greater political instability across the wider region are looming, unless the international community meets its obligation to shoulder a fair share of the responsibility for protecting and assisting Iraqi refugees."
At least four million Iraqis are now displaced and their numbers continue to rise at an estimated rate of 2,000 people per day, making this the world's fastest growing displacement crisis. Syria now hosts 1.4 million Iraqi refugees and Jordan an estimated 500,000 or more, while 2.2 million people are displaced but still remain within Iraq itself.
"We are very concerned that the new visa requirements being introduced by Syria and Jordan will prevent Iraqis receiving the protection they need. We urge both governments to keep their borders open to those fleeing for their lives," said Malcolm Smart. "However, other states must do more to assist these two countries by providing increased financial, technical and in-kind bilateral assistance to enable them to meet the health, schooling and other needs of the refugees, and by accepting greater number of especially vulnerable refugees for resettlement."
Amnesty International is also calling for on-going assistance from the international community to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as well as national and international humanitarian organizations to enable them to continue to provide and expand their current work to protect and assist Iraqis in need.
"The modest steps taken by the international community do not measure up to the magnitude of the crisis," said Malcolm Smart. "Moreover, some states are taking negative measures, such as forcibly returning rejected asylum seekers to Iraq, cutting off assistance to those denied asylum and even revoking the refugee status of some Iraqis."
The report criticises the slow pace of resettlement of those considered most vulnerable among the Iraqi refugees in Jordan and Syria, including victims of torture and other grave abuses. It notes that between 2003, when the US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussain, and 2006, the number of Iraqi refugees resettled in third countries fell by more than a half despite rising political violence. According to UNHCR, 1,425 Iraqi refugees were resettled in third countries in 2003 but only 404 in 2006.
"The international community must accept a shared responsibility by resettling Iraqis from Jordan and Syria, particularly the most vulnerable, in a more expedient manner with a view to increasing the overall resettlement quotas in third countries," said Malcolm Smart. "In particular, having regard to their direct involvement in the conflict, the states that make up the US-led Multi-National Force need to do more to alleviate the plight of those who have been forced from their homes by the violence, including those still in Iraq and the refugees in Syria, Jordan and other countries."
In addition to the report released today Amnesty International will be publishing next week a report looking at the situation of Palestinians in Iraq.

That's the external refugees. What about the internal refugees? There are the orphans (the crisis that has received very little attention) living on the streets and by their wits, there are people fortunate enough to have family or friends who take them in and there are the "tent cities" all over Iraq. But BBC reports there is now a new move within Iraq -- citing the UNHCR Iraq Support Unit's Andrew Harper, BBC notes that "up to 11 governors were restricting access" to their regions "because they lacked resources to look after the refugees." The UN estimates that each month, 60,000 Iraqis are forced from their homes and that the 4.4 million Iraqi refugees includes 2.2 million externally displaced and 2.2. million internally.

Lastly, Susan Faludi discusses her new book (The Terror Dream) on KPFA's The Morning Show with Philip Maldari today.

October 12th, NOW with David Brancaccio will air a one hour program, "Child Brides: Stolen Lives" documenting "the heartbreaking global phenomenon of forced child marriage, and the hope behind breaking the cycle of poverty and despair it causes." They've created an e-Card you can send to friends and family or to yourself to provide a heads up to the broadcast (and there is no cost to send the e-Card).

On Friday, October 12 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW's Senior Correspondent Maria Hinojosa travels around the world for a revealing exploration of early child marriage in developing countries, and how people can act locally and globally to solve the problem.
The hour-long special, "Child Brides: Stolen Lives," marks the first time the subject has been documented in a primetime television newsmagazine. Countries visited include Niger, India and Guatemala.
The stakes are high: child brides typically experience high rates of childbirth complications, HIV infection, partner violence, and a cycle of poverty. An estimated 100 million girls will be married over the next 10 years.
In her report, Hinojosa takes viewers on a journey of sorrow, healing and hope, including scenes of an illegal midnight wedding in India where children as young as three are married. In each country, Hinojosa shares the work of brave community members who are campaigning to end the centuries-old practice of child marriage - sometimes putting their own lives at risk.

Click here for more on their "Child Brides: Stolen Lives" upcoming broadcast.