Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Kurds, Yazidis, Christians

The people here are Yazidis, adherents of an ancient religion with roots in Zoroastrianism. Iraqi and American officials pinned responsibility for the bombings on Sunni Arab extremists, who consider the Yazidis devil worshipers.
[. . .]
Immediately after the attacks, Kurdish security forces moved into Qahtaniya and other Yazidi villages, having already made a fortress of Sinjar, a city a few miles north. They surrounded the towns with earthen berms, set up checkpoints and created what was in effect a wall between the Yazidi areas and the Arab villages to the south, towns that have become crippled by drought and dominated by Sunni insurgents.
While Qahtaniya lies far outside the boundaries of Iraqi Kurdistan, the semiautonomous Kurdish region, the Kurds have a long history in the area, which had a significant Kurdish population until 1975, the year of a failed Kurdish uprising.
[. . .]
"We could throw all the Arabs out of the city," said Karim Sinjari, the Kurdish government's minister for internal affairs, whose own family was forced out in 1976 after he took part in the Kurdish uprising. "But the Americans told us we have to wait."

The above is from Campbell Robertson's "Followers of Ancient Faith Caught in Iraq’s Fault Lines" in this morning's New York Times. The entire article is worth reading, but that's the point that should catch attention especially Karim Sinjari declaring, "We could throw all the Arabs out of the city. But the Americans told us we have to wait." Not, "The American forces told us 'no'." The American forces said "wait."

The Kurds have made one power grab after another and Robertson does a fine job of sketching that out including how Qahtaniya would not directly seen made for a power grab due to its surrounding areas; however, it could be used as "a bargaining chip for political negotiations over the status of Kirkuk".

From the Yazidis to another religious minority in Iraq, Christians, Deborah Haynes and Tim Albone's "Exodus of Christians as killers step up religious cleansing in Iraq" (Times of London) explores the targeting of Iraqi Christians:

Some Christians blame al-Qaeda for the attacks while others speculate that Kurdish elements might be involved as part of a political ploy to coerce minority sects into supporting Kurdish parties before forthcoming provincial elections. This allegation is strongly denied by the Kurdish authorities.
The 69-year-old grandmother whose house, a two-storey building with orange trees in the garden, was destroyed blamed Kurdish paramilitaries. "I suspect they were Peshmerga [armed Kurdish fighters] because their Arabic was broken and they looked like Kurds," the woman said. She, her husband, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren have fled to a village outside Mosul after the attack on Saturday. Two other houses in their neighbourhood were also destroyed.
Fuad Hussein, chief of staff for Masoud Barzani, president of the largely autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region, rejected the idea that Kurdish forces had played a part in any violence against Christians in Mosul.
"That is a campaign conducted by Baathists as well as other terrorist elements in Iraq who are trying to sour the good relationship between the Kurds and the Christians," he said.
"Every time there is a campaign against Christians anywhere else in Iraq proper ... they come towards Kurdistan for a safe haven."
Yonadam Kanna, one of only two Iraqi Christians in parliament, said that al-Qaeda or foreign elements with a political agenda were the likely suspects. "Al-Qaeda is targeting everyone in the country, especially non-Muslims," he said.

The crisis is creating more refugees (and note that some Iraqi Christians living in Mosul fled there for safety from Baghdad in 2007). Corinne Reilly's "Iraqis are being attacked and killed for returning to their homes" (McClatchy Newspapers) addresses some of what is happening to those external refugees forced back into Iraq:

Only a small fraction of the roughly 5 million Iraqis who've fled their neighborhoods in fear since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion have gone back, although returns have picked up since the Iraqi government last month began urging people home.
In Baghdad, where most of the sectarian cleansing has taken place, about 8 percent of the people who moved within the country have gone back to their neighborhoods, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Many Iraqi families have returned to their old homes in peace, but a disturbing trend already is emerging: They're being targeted and attacked, and in some cases killed, for trying to go home. Some have been threatened. Others have found explosives tied to their front doors. Some have had their homes blown up.
The trend, along with an uptick in sectarian and ethnic violence in northern Iraq and growing tensions among rival Shiite factions in the south, is a worrisome development for American political and military leaders who're increasingly eager to declare victory in Iraq so more U.S. troops can be sent to Afghanistan.

Humanitarian aid for Iraqi external refugees has failed repeatedly. In the case of Jordan, the monies were turned over to the Jordanian government and did not reach the actual refugees. As refugees struggle to survive in other countries (often while not being allowed to work except in some blackmarket job), the puppet government in Baghdad makes deals with host countries that lead to further restrictions on the refugees. For example, Jordan got a sweet deal on oil and then announced it was busing and flying Iraqi refugees back to Iraq -- whether they wanted it or not.

Mary Beth Sheridan (Washington Post) reports on the meet-up in London yesterday where the puppet government staged a tag sale on the people's oil.

In the US presidential race, Rachel notes this from Team Nader:

Pass It On: Am I Right or Am I Right?


Pass It On: Am I Right or Am I Right? .

Many have been fooled by Obama's rosy campaign rhetoric, particularly about 'reaching across the aisle' to wage bipartisan reform. But a real look at his actual platforms reveal striking similarities with Republicans. Reaching across the aisle is easy, it seems, when there is no aisle to reach across.

Meanwhile, Obama's bipartisan rhetoric hides a host of bipartisan evils. In this article, one brave reporter is willing to give Obama's Iraq and Palestinian platforms a hard look. His conclusion? Neither Obama nor McCain will get us out of Iraq, and neither will question the ongoing economic and military imperialism that allows the United States to perpetuate its own occupation of Iraq and Israel's occupation of Palestine.


Ashley Sanders
The Nader Team

Today's Pass It On article was written by Marc Abizeid and was published in City on a Hill Press. You can read the original article here.



Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate, Matt Gonzalez is his running mate. Wednesday October 15, Ralph Nader will speak at Cooper Union (NYC) at six p.m. and the following day the independent presidential candidate at noon "Ralph will take to the street in front of the NYSE to protest the bailout at Federal Hall, 26 Wall St. NYC."

Vernon was happy to see his highlight up yesterday. On this end, I was happy to read his e-mail. Oklahoma community members have endorsed John McCain and Sarah Palin in the presidential election. Oklahoma community members who want something from that campaign highlighted should e-mail as Vernon and others are doing. Your vote is your vote. Every American community member has explored all the candidates and made the decisions that are best for them. Vernon highlights this from Team McCain:

ICYMI: McCain-Palin Campaign Conference Call On Barack Obama's Economic Plan

"Barack Obama today proposed a 90-day foreclosure moratorium. Obama, himself, when Senator Clinton proposed such a foreclosure moratorium, labeled it a 'disastrous' policy and proceeded to rail against it. Now he's proposing it."

-- Doug Holtz-Eakin

ARLINGTON, VA -- Today, the McCain-Palin campaign held a press conference call with former Congressman Rob Portman and senior policy adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin to discuss Barack Obama's economic plan:

Rob Portman: "I think Americans were hoping today that Senator Obama would tell us that he has now decided the economy is bad enough he is not going to move forward with his tax increases.

"You recall that earlier in the campaign he'd indicated that he might not move forward with his tax increases if the economy were weak. The economy is certainly weak, and it's weakening every day. Instead what we heard today were a lot of new promises for new spending adding to the $860 billion in additional spending that he's already promised during the campaign and that is not the way we are going to get ourselves back on track. More spending in fact is going to make the situation worse. It's one of the reasons we're in the trouble we're in. The deficits mounting every year and the debt has hurt our economy in a very direct way by hurting the value of the dollar and increasing the costs for everything from the price of imported oil to our groceries.

"Instead what Senator McCain is focused on is pro-growth, pro-jobs tax relief while keeping spending under control. And one of the things that I thought was interesting about Senator Obama's proposals today was the talk about changing the way in which people can withdraw funds from their defined contribution plans, their IRA's or their 401K's. And as I read his remarks it sounds like he was saying that people would be able to withdraw funds out up to $10,000 without penalty.

"Some of you know I spent a lot of time working on this legislation when I was in Congress and of course there is currently a hardship withdrawal for 401K's and most plans permit that. There's also withdrawal by the way for first time home buyers and there's also the ability to get a loan up to $50,000. So I'm not sure what impact that would exactly have except that is would be taking out of retirement savings, assets at a time when those assets are likely be at a very low value. So it's not clear that there is the need for any new policy in this area because of the consistent ability to deal with hardships and to take out a loan but second it seems like it would be just the wrong thing to encourage American families today who are already struggling to figure out how they are going to be able to prepare for their retirement.

"The final thing that Senator Obama said that I thought was something that we should all agree with which is that we need a new ethic of responsibility in this country and Senator McCain has been talking about that the entire campaign in terms of personal responsibility with health care for instance and allowing people to keep more of their hard earned money. But if we are talking about a new ethic of responsibility, it seems as though we should start with the federal government and it certainly would not be a new ethic of responsibility to have us not only begin spending over $860 billion in new programs under the existing economic plans Senator Obama has laid out but now additional spending at a time when we are facing big deficits in part because of the economic situation we're in and the lower revenue, and the debt that has built up that is requiring us to borrow more and more money including from foreign governments and banks that's putting pre ssure on the dollar and therefore hurting the economy."


Doug Holtz-Eakin: "I think what we saw today was the hypocrisy of Barack Obama's economic policy continuing at the very same time he's threatening the weak American economy with tax increases, explosive spending proposals, expensive health mandates, a weak energy policy and protectionist trade inclinations. He pretends to offer a, quote, rescue package to Americans, when in fact the rescue is simply from the threat of his own policies. If you look at what he proposed today, I think it reveals the genuine problem. He already had the Tax Policy Center, a group he likes to tout as the non-partisan arbiter, say that John McCain's policy is better for growth, and we can see why in what he put out today.

"He proposed a New American Jobs tax credit. That would be a $3,000 tax credit per new job in the United States over the next two years. This is going to be a very expensive proposal that's going to cost about $170 billion had it been in place in 2007. But think about what it'd have to do. He's going to offer a $3,000 credit at the same he's proposing an expensive $12,000 per employee mandate for health insurance, and while the credit would last for two years, the mandate would go on forever. Indeed, at the current rates of inflation, that'd be about a $15,000 mandate at the time it expired. You will hardly undo the damage with a $3,000 credit.

"He's, at the moment, dead set on raising the top marginal tax rates, raising dividends and capital gains tax rates. Those top marginal tax rates will affect the small businesses. They create 56% of small business income. Small businesses, those under 50 employees, have created 331,000 jobs in the United States in 2008, despite all the weaknesses out there. They are the only businesses that are creating jobs. They are the only ones doing, on their own, what Barack Obama ostensibly wants to accomplish with this job credit. He wants to raise their taxes. He would be better off dropping the jobs credit and simply stopping the tax increases, letting these folks do the job that they're doing. His plan with the expensive mandates from health, has been estimated to cost more than 225,000 jobs. It would force employers to lower wages by more than $3 an hour. John McCain's tax policy, in contrast, would provide a very flexible, even-handed subsidy to all for ms of private insurance, provides for portable insurance that's not linked to employers, and will not cost Americans their jobs.

"Barack Obama today proposed a 90-day foreclosure moratorium. Obama, himself, when Senator Clinton proposed such a foreclosure moratorium, labeled it a 'disastrous' policy and proceeded to rail against it. Now he's proposing it.

"Senator McCain doesn't want people in foreclosure. He's taken an aggressive stance to use a portion of the $700 billion that the American public has devoted to financial and economic rescue to make sure that we simultaneously accomplish the goals of keeping Americans in their homes, supporting housing values for every homeowner in America, and stabilizing the value of the toxic mortgage-based assets that's plaguing the financial system.

"So, Barack Obama would be much better served to solve the fundamental problems than undertake a 'disastrous' policy that would only be a band-aid after the fact. So, we're seeing more of the same from Barack Obama, lots of talk, nothing that's going to substantively help the American economy, and tomorrow we'll hear from John McCain."


"Tomorrow, however, he will now turn to the economy, to the pressures facing American families and businesses and we'll talk about the specific new measures to address those hurt worse by the financial crisis, unlike Barack Obama who has stood on the sidelines at moments of great national crisis. John McCain has consistently addressed the issues that have faced Americans throughout this period, with proposals that will make their lives easier and more bearable in the times of great financial distress, and so we'll look forward to John McCain's remarks tomorrow."

Listen To The Conference Call

And Vernon is going to let his list (mentioned yesterday morning) run in the gina & krista round-robin Friday, so look for that later this week.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.