Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, January 20, 2009.  Chaos and violence continue, Iraq gears up for the provincial elections, al-Maliki tries to oust a police chief, Barack Obama is sworn in and more.
In the US, Barack Obama took the presidential oath of office today and Iraq Veterans Against the War issued the following:
IVAW members and chapters got together recently to produce an ad calling for an end to the war in Iraq. This ad will be broadcast a few minutes before Barack Obama takes the oath of office (at noon EST) on NBC in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Miami, Chicago, Philadelphia, Albuquerque, New York City, and Washington DC as a reminder that the war goes on, and that electing a new President is not enough to bring it to an end.   
For supporting arguments and further information about the content of this ad, click here. IVAW would like to thank Baked Goods Productions, The Flobots and Beau Weaver for generously contributing their talent to create this ad.  
Iraq Veterans Against the War depends upon the support of individuals in order to continue organizing for an end to the Iraq war, care for our veterans, and justice for the people of Iraq. 2009 will be a pivotal year for U.S. involvement in Iraq, and it is more important than ever that we keep the pressure on to bring this occupation to an end. Support IVAW, click here to make a donation now.
Sunday the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier died of wounds suffered following an improvised explosive device in eastern Baghdad Jan. 18 at approximately 11 a.m."  M-NF announces the deaths (like the previous ones) and the Defense Department then follows by issuing the name after the fallen's survivors have been notified.  For example, Monday the Defense Dept announced, "The Department of Defense announced today the death of an Airman who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Senior Airman Omar J. McKnight, 22, of Marrero, La., died Jan 17 as a result of a non-hostile incident in Balad, Iraq. He was assigned to the 6th Security Forces Squadron, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla."  The military's problem with that announcement is the death they identified was never announced by M-NF.  January has seen eight US service members deaths and the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is 4229.
Friday Haitham Kadhim al-Husani was assassinated, shot dead in Baghdad.  Sunday  deaths included Hassan Zaidan al-Luhaibi. Jonny Dymond (BBC) reported that a Mosul suicide bombing claimed the life of the "vice- president of the Sunni National Dialogue bloc" who "was leading his party's campaign for provincial elections to be held at the end of this month." In addition, Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) notee that al-Luhaibi's "son Falah is a parliament member". Sam Dagher (New York Times) explained al-Luhaibi "was barred from holding elected office because he had been a senior member of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party" and he had been "an army general who commanded Iraq's military academy.  He was among the senior officers involved in Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and its long war with Iran in the 1980s."   Ernesto Londono and Zaid Sabah (Washington Post) explained, "The attack occurred amid bitter competition between Sunni Arabs and Kurds for control of Nineveh province, one of four that includes areas claimed by both Arabs and Kurds."
Provincial elections -- which were supposed to take place no later than 2008 to meet the 'benchmark' -- are scheduled for January 31st.  Even if they take place, they still do not meet the 'benchmark' for progress because they are not taking place in all provinces.  Fourteen of Iraq's eighteen provinces will hold elections.  The United Nations has regularly and repeatedly warned that violence would most likely increase in Iraq as provincial elections approached.  AP's Kim Gamel and Hamza Hendawi explain that the elections are for 444 seats (444 from all 14 pvoinces) and that 14,431 people are competing for those seats.  Timothy Williams (NYT's International Herald Tribune) notes a new poll of Iraqis has found 41% of those surveyed cite a preference for secular candidates and 31% prefer candidates from religious parties. Though religious markings and artificats are not supposed to be used in the campaigns, Anthony Shadid reported today that "everyone from the Communist Party to the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a powerful Shiite party, has resorted to Shiite imagery."  Saturday Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) reported that the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, was attempting to make the elections all about himself: "He is not on any ballot in the provincial elections scheduled for Jan. 31. But in agreeing to be the public image of the Coalition of the State of Law, a group of candidates running primarily on his record, Maliki has effectively turned the contest into a referendum on his rule. The elections will be the most crucial test so far of Maliki's attempt to bolster the central government's authority -- and his own. If he succeeds in establishing a nationwide base of local politicians ready to support him and the idea of centralized government, Maliki will have cemented his three-year transformation from little-known lawmaker to the most powerful Iraqi statesman since Saddam Hussein."  The following day, Timothy Williams and Mudhafer al-Husaini (New York Times) explained that al-Maliki had demanded that Abudel Haneen al-Amara be kicked out as the police chief in Wasit Province and be replaced with a successor hand picked by al-Maliki leading to huge objections including objections over the timing.  The reporters quoted a local council member, Sayyd Sattar al-Masqsusi, stating, "It's really not good to replace him at this time.  We called the minister of the interior himself and he didn't know about the replacement and was as surprised as we are.  Only God and Maliki know the reasons behind the change at this time."  Monday Anthony Shadid (Washington Post) explored Basra where elections are expected to continue and solidify "Shiite Islamic parties" control of the area. Meanwhile Sam Dagher (New York Times) explores Anbar Province and finds that the US backed and elevated tribes may take control in the elections.  Anbar is where the "Awakening" Councils were 'birthed' (created by tossing US money around).  Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal's Baghdad Life) reports that the estimated 100,000 "Awakening" Council members are still not under Iraqi control and that the US is expected to continue paying the bulk of members until April when al-Maliki may finally pay the cost.  So come April, the Iraqi government might finally take over payment.  Strange.
April 8, 2008 during The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Hour, Senator Barabara Boxer brought up the thugs on the US payroll and noted $182 million a year was being paid by the US tax payers.  "Why don't you ask the Iraqis to pay the entire cost of that program?" Boxer asked.  When US Ambassador Ryan Crocker tried to dance around the issue, Boxer stated, "I asked you why they couldn't pay for it. . . . I don't want to argue a point. . . . I'm just asking you why we object to asking them to pay for that entire program giving all that we are giving them in blood and everything else?"  Crocker's response was he would carry the suggestion back to Iraq.  The "Awakening" Councils were supposed to have been turned over to Iraqi control in November.  That has not taken place.  Nor is al-Maliki assuming the payment.  All this time later.   In more non-progress, Timothy Williams (NYT's International Herald Tribune) notes that yesterday Iraq's Parliament again delayed their vote on selecting a new Speaker and now intend to vote on the 4th of February.   December 23rd was when Mahmoud al-Mashhadani was relieved of his duties as Speaker.  All this time later and they still have no Speaker.
In some of today's reported violence . . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which targeted the Ministry of Higher Education's deputy minister and left four people wounded, another Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded two people, a third Baghdad roadside bombing which also wounded two people, a Baghdad car bombing that resulted in five people being injured, a Mosul grenade attack that left six people injured and a bomber in Mosul who took their own life and left three police officers wounded.  Reuters notes a Baquba bombing that injured three people.
Reuters notes a 1 real estate agent shot dead in Mosul (and a child injured) and another Mosul shooting which claimed a life.
Today Barack Obama had his coming out party.    Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Debutante Barack" first ran January 4th and features Bully Boy (holding Barack's hand) declaring, "In 2004, they asked if I should have a big 'bash while the country is at war?' But you've got over 60 D.C. bashes planned, we got two wars and a recession." Barack replied, "A girl's gotta have a coming out party."  Apparently regardless of the cost and regardless of the economy.   Scott Mayerowitz (ABC News) reports, "The country is in the middle of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, which isn't stopping rich donors and the government from spending $170 million, or more, on the inauguration of Barack Obama.  The actual swearing-in ceremony will cost $1.24 million, according to Carole Florman, spokeswoman for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies."  Yesterday Free Speech Radio News reported on "the most expensive inauguration in history" taking place while DC's homeless were "displaced and scrambling just to get through the next few days."
Tanya Snyder: Washington, DC officials are working to clear the downtown area of homeless people for the festivities.
Brian Anders: We don't want people to know that there are poor people living in the nation's capitol living on the streets.  That would be insane.
Tanya Snyder: Brian Anders is a homeless advocate who works with Empower DC a grassroots group that organizes low-income Washingtonians.  He says many of the people who sleep on the streets downtown are being moved far outside the city and they have a lot of concerns about this upheaval?
Brian Anders: Are they going to be allowed to come back downtown?  Are they going to be put somewhere else where it's too far for them to get back downtown?  Are they going to be able to get their property back?  Especially if they don't have identification? What about those folks who are on medications?  What about those folks who have substance abuse issues?  I mean we're not dealing with the bigger questions -- I mean, it's conveniant to move them out because you don't want to see them obviously.  But the reality, these are human beings.
Tanya Snyder: City shelters are opening up for inauguration day too, serving hot drinks and showing TV coverage of the festivities downtown.  But DC's mayor closed the downtown Franklin Shelter last fall removing 300 emergency beds for homeless men.  Some domestic violence survivors are also losing their emergency shelter for the days surrounding the inauguration.  Advocate Baylis Beard-Hunting says that the people whose homes are unsafe can normally get subsidized hotel rooms
Baylis Beard-Hunting: Of the two places that they currently have available, one of those hotels is kicking out the clients from Crime Victims Compensation for the period during inauguration because they say they've been booked for many years back.  So clients check out on Friday, check back in on Wednesday.
Tanya Snyder: Washington only has fifty beds in the whole city dedicated to domestic violence victims so the hotels often become an essential resource for people needing to escape a violent situation at home.
Baylis Beard-Hunting: I know clients who are bartering food cards, any resource they have available, babysitting other people's children for a space on the couch, a space on the floor, you know whatever they can find.
Kimberly Wilder (On The Wilder Side) was noted in "2008: The Year of Living Hormonally (Year in Review)" and she can do a strong post and she can do a weak one.  On the strong, check out this one. On the weak?  As e-mails complain,  another post where she attempts to make nice with Barack Obama because what's a Green Party member to do but suck up to the Democratic Party?  Words that could haunt the next four years: "And, I am aware of the setbacks in Obama's message and platform: Promoting a surge in Afghanistan, keeping nuclear energy on the table as a possibility, not acknowledging racial disparities enough" meek, meek, meek.  The Afghanistan War is a crime and a mistake and wants to list is under "setback"?  Is that the Green position? From the same post:  "And, while our electoral system is somewhat broken, we used the system we have in place, my candidate -- Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party -- was allowed to run (as were some other independent and third party candidates)" meek, meek, crap.  Was your candidate 'allowed' to run?  Did they also let her drink out of the water fountain?  What the hell is that?  Being grateful your candidate was "allowed to run"?  And, more to the point, where was she allowed?  She wasn't allowed to run in Oklahoma where she wasn't on the ballot and could not be a write-in.  18 states "allowed" her to run as a write-in but there's little indicating that states fully counted their write-in votes.  But, hey, she was "allowed" to run, right?  Barack promises more deaths in Afghanistan and if the Green Party is too chicken s**t to call him about because he's bi-racial passing for Black, good to know.  For the empire, that's good to know.  They will, no doubt, act accordingly when choosing future candidates.   Several e-mail to note that while Kimberly doesn't appear to believe a Green Party (or Green president) would make much difference (except maybe in selecting the menu?), the Green Party is offering "The First 100 Days: What would a Green Administration look like?"  Many are videos, some are text.  On the latter, we'll note this from Morgen D'Arc's response
A Green administration in Washington D.C. will launch the first mandate for women that the United States has ever known. It will reflect a comprehensive Green plan that highlights constitutional equal rights and an administration tone and orientation that in seriously addressing the problems for women that stem from inequality will also positively impact the attitudes of people toward women that together will work to achieve the issues detailed in the Women's Rights section of the Green Party Platform and other Green positions to improve conditions for women in the United States.  
The United States, as the richest country in the world and a leading model of democracy, has never taken the opportunity it has always had to lead by example to the rest of the world for achieving equality, safety and quality of life for women. In nearly 100 years of acquiring the right to vote, women total only 15% of congress, earn only 70% of male pay, comprise the largest most severe segment of poverty in the country, are battered, raped and killed in domestic and other violence in staggering numbers including in the military and by returning soldiers. The U.S. still has a large number of women trafficked under violent and slave conditions for forced sex, which is rape.    
A Green administration will prove its agenda for women by establishing a Department of Women to which significant funds are appropriated and which the department's head officer directly reports to and advises the President. This department will represent women domestically as well as in international relations and initiatives regarding women. It will work closely with all organizations relating to women and be a tri-partisan department.
Meanwhile wacky Alice Walker earned laughs today by declaring that Barack means "we have a chance now, as a country, to take our rightful place in the leadership of the owlrd and in the caring of the world."  Caring starts with your own damn family, Alice.  You have a grandson, Tenzin, whom you refuse to see, one you've never seen.  Before you sit down to chat about 'joy' to the public again, get your own damn house in order.  There's something very, very shameful about you and Amy Goodman referring to your marriage to a White man (Mel Leventhal) and ignoring that you had a daughter (Rebecca Walker) -- one you now refuse to see, your only child.  We'll come back to Alice in a moment but shame on Amy Goodman.  Now we know Amy's worthless so it's no surprise she pimped out Barack's inauguration via "Black" as opposed to addressing the reality of race in America.  But she had Bob Moses on.  So talk.  You bring on Bob during a war, let's talk about Bob's days in Canada as Bob Parris.  Let's talk about his war resistance then and contrast it with the two wars that are ongoing today.  Can't do that, apparently, because it wouldn't allow the Little Red Firehouse to rock with self-adulation. [On war resistance, click here for Krystalline Kraus' most recent article regarding US war resisters in Canada.]  As usual, Alice was trying to play "mother love" and embarrassing herself.  She declared, "And it's very hard for people to think in terms of doing what is best for everyone -- and everyone, including people of different colors and different classes."  And different sexualities, Alice?  You of all people should care about that but you always excuse away and ignore homophobia.
Hillary Is 44 doesn't and they explain the con game Barack pulled.  He added Bishop Eugene Robinson to the Hoporium Concert on Sunday in order to mitigate the outrage over his decision to put HOMOPHOBE Rick Warren in charge of the religious competition of today's inauguration.  But then Team Obama decided to make sure Bishop Robinson got bumped up early and wasn't part of the HBO broadcast.  And Team Obama initially attempted to play innocent and act like it was HBO's fault.