Wednesday, December 10, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the plight of Iraqi Christians is the focus of a US tour, the head of a Baghdad division embarrasses themselves in expression and appearance, Great Britian may leave Iraq, and more.
Starting in the US where Gregg Krupa (Detroit News) explains Cardinal Mar Emmanuel III Delly ("patriarch of Bablyon") is on a three week visit to the US and met yesterday "with members of the largest Chaldean community outside of Iraq, here in Metro Detroit." Krupa reminds, "Christian clerics have been murdered in Iraq, amid the continuing civil strife and social discord under the American-led occupation and attempts by Muslim extremists to root them out of their homes. Tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled the country during the five years and nine months of war. Some have settled temporarily in Syria, Jordan, Turkey, and the United States and in Europe. International migration officials say that an increasing number has turned up in Lebanon, another country in the Middle East with a significant Christian population." AP notes the visit is to raise attention for the issues effecting Iraqi Christians including the safety crisis and Catholic Culture explains he expressed his puzzlement "as to why they [foreign military forces in Iraq] have not done more to bring about peace and security." Wayne Peal (Mirror) quotes Dave Nona, who attended a Tuesday ceremony by the Cardinal, on the issue of Iraqi Christians migrating to the US, "I would say it was about 12,000 because of homeland security. We're hoping that some 15,000 - 18,000 will be allowed to enter next year." Krupa reports that Tuesday speech noted, "All Iraqis were better off before the American-led invasion and occupation, he said, citing recent statements by President Bush and former adminsitration officials 'who admit that mistakes have been made'." Meanwhile Christian Newswire reports that "former Governor David Beasley, who has worked on numerous humanitarian projects in the Middle East since leaving politics, claimed the United States had failed in its responsibility to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians who have been forced to flee religious persecution in Iraq. The official position of Secretary Condoleezza Rice is that there is no religious persecution of Christians in Iraq." Catholic Leader notes that Chaldean Auxilary Bishop Shlemon Warduni of Baghdad Patriarchate shared with Vatican Radio last week that less than 800 of the 2,500 Christian families who fled Mosul in October due to attacks have returned. In other persecution news, NPR's Corey Flintoff (Morning Edition) reported last week from Basra on the racism there, "Although they have lived in Iraq for more than 1,000 years, the black Basrawis say they are still discriminated against because of the color of their skin . . . Long relegated to menial jobs or work as musicians and dancers, some of them have recently formed a group to advance their civil rights." Dropping back to religious news, Jenan Hussein and Adam Ashton (McClatchy News) report that the barbaric sacrifice of lambs continues in Iraq and will we hear any of the uproar from those screaming their heads off recently over the fact that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin hunted, the same crowd lying that she was shooting wolves from helicopters? The barbaraci practice of sacrificing animals continues and not a peep. And it needs to be noted that the sacrifice take place anytime the US and Iraq stages a public event. If they're dedicating a new building or they're doing some other big announcement, an animal's being slaughtered. Translation, the US military has endorsed animal sacrifices throughout the occupation of Iraq. It's interesting that the US military is expected to participate in those ceremonies (and if a sacrifice takes place before or after, it is part of the ceremonies) but were they to do the same in the US, they'd be arrested. It's also interesting when you consider that the US military is not supposed to promote religion but many are being asked to stand through these ceremonies which is participation. Equally true is that animal sacrifices goes against the personal religious beliefs of some serving in the US military. Just as the US should never go along with appeasing any host country by not allowing female service members to drive a vehicle, they should never go along with an animal sacrifice and should make it very clear that if one is done, it is done 24 hours before or 24 hours after any joint US-Iraq ceremony so as not to give the impression that the US condones or encourages animal sacrifices.
Turning to the puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki. For over two weeks now, US outlets have filed story after story about the 'mighty' al-Maliki. He's unstoppable, they gushed. He's on the rise. He's the future, Moqtada al-Sadr's the past. No one can touch him. Blah, blah, blah. None of it was news and none of it reflected reality. But the long ass-kiss may finally be ending. While the never-ending smooch was ongoing, the simmering tensions between al-Maliki and the Kurdish Regional Government was largely ignored (Rubin and others at NYT did cover it). Today Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) reports that the puppet's "coalition of support is fraying" due to the conflict with the Kurds but "[w]hile the growing Kurdish-Shiite rift may be the biggest threat yet to Maliki's tenure, what may ensure his survival are fears of the political battle that would follow his ouster and wreck many of the gains in Iraq's young democracy."
Yesterday's snapshot noted Reuters journalist Ibrahim Jassam who is wrongly being held by the US military despite the Iraqi court system ordering that Ibrahim be freed. Ibrahim is one of many reporters suffering in the 'free' Iraq. Last Wednesday's snapshot noted the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq's "Human Rights Report" [PDF format warning, click here]. The report was the latest (thirteenth) and noted the attacks on the press especially in the Kurdish region where journalists spoke of being "arrested, harassed and ill-treated by KRG police. . . . Local journalist associations have condemned the conduct of the KRG authorities while other journalists were also prevented from covering the military operations." And the snapshot included:
. . . last month saw another journalist targeted in the Kurdistan region. Adel Hussein is the journalist and he's been convicted to six months of prison for the 'crime' of "writing an article about homosexuality". Reporters Without Border notes: "Sexual practices are part of the individual freedoms that a democratic states is supposed to promote and protect. Furthermore, Hussein did not defend homosexuality. He limited himself to describing a form of behavior from a scientific viewpoint. . . . We are astonished to learn that a press case has been tried under the criminal code. What was the point of adoptiong -- and then liberalising -- a press code in Kurdistan region if people who contribute to the news media are still be tried under more repressive laws?" The Committee to Protect Journalists is calling for the immediate release of Adel -- "a doctor and a freelance journalist with the independent weekly Hawlati". CPJ's Robert Mahoney (Dept Director) states, "A judge of all people should know that ignorance of the law is no excuse. This is the second time in a month that a court in Iraqi Kurdistan has sent a journalist to prison in violation of the new press law. We call on the authorities to ensure that the new legislation is widely promulgated and enforced, and we urge the appeal court to overturn this conviction and free Adel Hussein immediately." The other reporter referred to was Shwan Dawdi whose conviction was overturned by the court of appeal. Yahya Barzanji (AP) quotes the Kurdistan Journalist Union's Zirak Kamal stating, "We will appeal this unjust verdict and we hope that Kurdistan officials intervene and solve the problem." BBC explains the Kurdish government is attempting to say that Adel "violated a public decenty law" by reporting.
In a new development,
The Committee to Protect Journalists announces that Adel was pardoned Sunday by KRG President Massoud Barzani and quotes CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney stating, "We are relieved that President Barzani intervened to right this injustice. We call on the authorities to ensure that the new legislation is enforced and that Adel Hussein is the last journalist to be sent to prison in Iraqi Kurdistan because of his work." Reporters Without Borders notes:
Reporters Without Borders welcomes yesterday's release of physician and freelance journalist Adel Hussein from prison in Erbil (330 km north of Baghdad) under a pardon granted by the president of the Iraqi region of Kurdistan at the start of every religious festival.
Hussein had been in prison since 24 November, when he was found guilty of offending public decency under article 403 of the criminal code for writing an article about homosexuality for the independent Kurdish-language weekly Hawlati.
Turning to the topic of Blackwater -- Monday 5 mercenaries turned themselves into US federal authorities for charges stemming from the September 16, 2007 slaughter in Baghdad, Tina Susman and Usam Redha (Los Angeles Times) guage Iraqi opinion on the development. A veteran of Iraq's military, Ali, tells the reporters, "It means no one is above the law, even if he's an element of foreign forces. It also means the victims will get justice." An unnamed police officer states, "Because they killed 17 innocent people, of course they should be arrested." It's very rare that Iraqis are quoted or their opinions reported on.
Take McClatchy's Leila Fadel being interviewed by Paul Jay for the Real News Network in what is supposedly a nine minute interview about Iraqi suspicion of the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement. Yet at 2:37 in, she's still not talking about Iraqis. And she's wasted everyone's time with what appears to be a defense of McClatchy's AWFUL coverage from Baghdad of the treaty. She's yammering on and on endlessly about the Arabic version of the agreement ('which we translated into English") and who gives a damn, Leila? What do we care about? Well, how about you explain how Adam Ashton, in Iraq for McClatchy, couldn't (for McClatchy) write the truth about the treaty; however, Ashton works for The Modesto Bee and one Saturday, while still in Iraq, he could (for The Modesto Bee) write the realities that McClatchy wouldn't allow? How about you trying explaining that?
In what plays like yet another attempt to excuse the AWFUL reporting by McClatchy coming out of Baghdad, Leila begins referring to the "way that Maliki has sold the agreement to the population and has talked about it is as the end of the American occupation, he has won a date" -- uh, Fadel, he doesn't control the US press and the US press went with that -- including the Baghdad division of McClatchy that you head -- so how about taking a little damn responsibility or is that too difficult?
And, since you're now in DC and since the White House posted an English language version of the agreement (on Thanksgiving, as soon as the Iraqi Paliament voted it into effect -- as they said they would), why don't you address what that says?
And since you haven't read the White House version -- availabe for three weeks now -- maybe you ought to lose the attitude evident at 3:32 regarding Iraqis? (How "a lot of them haven't read" the Arabic version or done so well enough "to have an opinion.") In fact, if the average Iraqi that hasn't read the agreement in full doesn't have the right to an opinion in your opinion, then maybe you just should just close yourself off until you MAKE the time to read the White House version, published at the White House's website. You are, after all, a reporter and what's required and expected of you is a great deal more than what's required and expected of civilians whose country is occupied and under attack and who live in fear and do not have US passports that allow them to breeze in and out of Iraq at will? And, by the way, the Iraqis that "don't believe" in all the hog wash you have sold via McClatchy? They're right. They're right not only because it's a one-year treaty that either side can cancel in 2010 or 2011 -- which means you embarrass yourself in public when you bore us all with what's going to happen in 2011. But you don't need to know about that cancellation clause -- a clause Fadel 'forgot' to note when discussing the Arabic version for over 2 minutes (though that clause is also in the Arabic version). You only need to know that no US Embassy in any country is not protected by the US military. You only need to grasp that a larger embassy would require a larger US military force to protect it. You only need to realize that as long as the US Embassy remains in Baghdad, US forces will be on the ground in Iraq. That's reality. Here's some more -- don't show up for an inteview looking like a Los Molcajetes waitress serving chips and salsa. And for any little whiner at McClatchy who feels that's .just so harsh, let me be really clear: What McClatchy and others have done with regards to the treaty OUT DOES what Judith Miller did. Judith Miller (wrongly and laughably) believed that there were WMDs in Iraq. She should have shown skepticism, she shouldn't have been a stenographer. (And she was one of many.) But this illegal war continues because 'reporters' lie. LYING about the treaty, lying to Iraqis and Americans to lull them into a false belief that the war is winding down is nothing but an attempt to reduce pressure on the governments of both countries. You are servicing the adminstration, you are not servicing the people. And with all the lies that led to the illegal war having been exposed as lies, to provide new cover is outrageous and goes far beyond (my opinion) anything Miller could have hoped to do. In 2004 and 2005, we were regularly noting that if the Judith Millers got the US over there, the Dexter Filkins kept the US over there and they did so by lying in print regularly.
From Iraq, McClatchy rouses themselves enough to note little bits of violence . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing wounded five people today while another roadside bombing detonated in Mosul.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad.
Yesterday the Defense Dept's inspector general released a report [PDF format warning, click here]. Mike Mount (CNN) reports that the study shows, "The U.S. Marine Corps kenw of the threat posed by roadside bombs before the start of the Iraq war, yet did nothing to buy protective vehicles for troops . . . Additionally, Marine leaders in 2005 decided to buy up-armored, or reinforced, Humvees instead of Mine Resistant Ambush-Protected vheicles to shield troops in Iraq from mines and other explosives -- a decision that could have cost lives, according to the report obtained Tuesday by CNN." Washington Post's Derek Kravitz explained last night, "After the inspector general's report became public, the Pentagon announced late today that it would order up between 2,800 to 10,000 of the vehicles, called MRAP-All Terrain Vehicles, for the Army and Marine Corps.":
Thomas Harding (Telegraph of London) reports that Gordon Brown, UK Prime Minister, will allegedly declare in early 2009 that British forces will withdraw from Iraq. This comes as the BBC reports Conservatives in the British Parliament are calling for a public investigation of the "origins and conduct" of the illegal war.
In US political news, Paul Street (ZNet) observes that president-elect Barack Obama's War Hawk nature was always evident (and Street called it out in real time and is the author of Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics):
The Times was wrong to suggest a significant change in Obama's concept of "reality" in regard to Iraq. Those willing to look seriously beneath the "antiwar" campaign imagery his marketers crafted for liberal and progressive voters can easily determine that there is no fundamental discontinuity. Obama voted to fund the illegal occupation without conditions in 2005 and 2006. He worked to support pro-war over antiwar Democrats in the 2006 congressional primaries. He distanced himself from U.S. Congressman Jack Murtha's (D-PA) early and courageous call for withdrawal from Iraq in 2005. He lectured progressives on the alleged need to not be seen as "working against the president" on Iraq (after the Democrats' 2006 congressional victories) and on how Democrats shouldn't "play chicken with the troops" (a preposterous conservative smear) by calling for immediate withdrawal from Iraq. He voted against a troop withdrawal proposal by Senators John Kerry and Russ Feingold in June 2006, arguing that setting a firm date for retreat would "hamstring" diplomats and military commanders. .
In the fall of 2006, Obama told the Chicago Council on Global Affairs that "The American people have been extraordinarily resolved [in support of the Iraq occupation]...They have seen their sons and daughters killed or wounded in the streets of Fallujah." This was a remarkable comment in light of the two massive assaults (notorious across the Middle East and Muslim world) the Pentagon launched (indiscriminately slaughtering civilians in large numbers) on that Iraqi city in April and November of 2004.
Obama's heralded "antiwar speech" of October 2002 (given when he was still a state senator) opposed the planned invasion of Iraq on pragmatic, not principled grounds. It criticized the imminent invasion as a strategic mistake (a "dumb war"), neglecting to mention its criminal and immoral nature, its petro-imperial motivations, and the large number of Iraqis it would kill and maim.
Consistent with those omissions, Obama has never criticized the ethics or legality of Operation Iraqi Liberation (O.I.L.). He has always refused to significantly note Iraqi casualties (including more than 1 million civilian dead) and he denies the broader Holocaust the U.S, has imposed on Iraq. He told CNN's Candy Crowely last July that the United States should not apologize to anyone for any of its foreign policies under Bush and he has repeatedly claimed that the U.S. invaded the Iraq with "the best of intentions" (democracy- and freedom-promotion). He even told Wisconsin autoworkers last February that that the U.S. must "stop spending billions of dollars a week trying to put Iraq back together."
Obama's 2002 "antiwar speech" came down from his Web site in 2003 because he decided to run for the U.S. Senate that year. He was nowhere to be seen around downtown Chicago when two nights of massive demonstrations took place there against Bush's invasion in March of 2003. And during the 2004 Democratic Convention, where he made the Keynote Address that made him an overnight celebrity (a "BaRockstar"), Obama told the New York Times that he might have voted (like Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and John Edwards) to authorize Bush to invade Iraq if he had been in the U.S Senate and had access to the same "intelligence" as other U.S. Senators in the fall of 2002.
Obama's spokespersons have been consistently mushy and deceptive about his Iraq withdrawal plans, making it clear to serious investigators that Obama will continue the occupation indefinitely. He told FOX News thug Bill O'Reilly this summer that "the Surge" had "succeeded beyond our wildest imaginations" and he has refused to sign on to legislation seeking to ban private "security" contractors like Blackwater from Iraq and Afghanistan.
reporters without borders
the committee to protect journalists
telegraph of london
the los angeles times
the new york times
the washington post