Monday, February 16, 2009

Sheik Risha of the 'construction' business

Over the weekend, AP reported that Iraq War veteran Timothy Scott took his own life Thursday. Timothy killed himself in Nova Scotia ("at his mother's home") after self-checking out and going to Canada. WITN (link has text and video) adds, "Reports indicate 59-year-old Bonnie Scott called police Thursday to say her 22-year-old son was in her driveway and had a gun. Officials say when they arrived, Marine Lance Corporal Timothy Scott fled, then shot himself." Michael Macdonald (The Canadian Press) adds:

A base spokeswoman confirmed Scott served in Iraq from January to August 2007, and then from April to October in 2008.
Having joined the Marine Corps in November 2005, he was later awarded two Sea Service Deployment Ribbons, an Iraqi Campaign Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the National Defence Service Medal.
He is thought to have left his unit sometime around Feb. 10, crossing the Canada-U.S. border at Woodstock, N.B., early the next day.

Of the recent suicide reports at the start of the month, Veterans for Peace (PDF format warning) notes:

The United States military is scrambling to head off what has turned into an epidemic of suicides. As reported on CNN, 24 service members killed themselves in January of this year, six times as many as in January of last year. 2008 was the fourth consecutive year of increases in soldier suicides.
Veterans For Peace Executive Director Michael McPhearson said this is not a surprise to him. "It is tragic. It is the culmination of years of continuous deployments and general stress the Armed Services have been put under because of an invasion and subsequent occupation that should have never happened."

Meanwhile AP reports a "big send-off" is planned Tuesday in Madison, Wisconsin for the 3,000
Army National Guard soldiers who are deploying to Iraq.

Iraq Veterans Against the War's Adam Kokesh (at Adam Kokesh: Revolutionary Patriot) has a recent post up detailing his travels and more and we'll note these two paragraphs on political races and on upcoming actions:

Meanwhile, back in the homeland, there is a serious effort underway to get Peter Schiff to run against Chris Dodd for his US Senate seat. It looks like it would be tough race, but the line up of Schiff's puritan philosophy of a true free market against Dodd's corrupt version of corporatism would be juicy enough to make it a race worth supporting for our movement. For those of you wondering about his positions outside of the economy, take heart in this quote from the man himself: "I have no faith in government. There is no evidence that they're going to do the right thing." I guess that makes him one of us! If you haven't yet, please pledge to contribute to the Schiff money-bomb scheduled for February 21st. You can use the widget at the top-right of this page or click here to go straight to their site.

We do plan to get a couple days of surfing in (embarrassing photos to come) before I fly back home, but then it's back to business. I'll be in California for a week, San Diego, LA, and San Francisco before visiting my Mom for her birthday on Valentine's Day in Pebble Beach. Then on to Colorado for a week. Ok, yes, I will take a day or two for Ron-ski and get some snowboarding in. Then Texas for the Freedom and Liberty Movement State convention. I went to their regional convention in Houston a couple weeks ago, and the way they are organizing there from the bottom up before there is even a name for the new organization let alone a structure is truly amazing. I will also be helping out with Winter Soldier Austin on February 28th. Then it's on to DC for a few days for a workshop, then up to Nashua for the New Hampshire Liberty Forum and on to an event at Kent State. Then I'll be in St. Louis supporting Matthis Chiroux resisting deployment at his US Army separation hearing. Then of course, back to DC to mark the sixth anniversary of the war in Iraq, and finally, back to Santa Fe. Did I mention that I will be driving the whole way?

That's at Adam's blog so it should be obvious he's speaking for himself. For those who did not grasp that, he is. IVAW is a non-partisan organization and the veterans in it are from a wide range of political beliefs. No veteran need be, for example, a Democrat to join up, they only have to be a veteran who wants to end the Iraq War.

We've noted A.N.S.W.E.R.'s announcement and participation in the upcoming March action; however, we haven't noted their press release in full. It's too lengthy for a snapshot (which is why it's only been excerpted in those) but we'll note it this morning in full:

Why We're Marching on the Pentagon
Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine... Occupation is A Crime

We are organizing a Mass March on the Pentagon on Saturday, March 21, and it is important that you and your family, friends, co-workers and fellow students put on your marching shoes that day. People are coming from all over the country. Simultaneous demonstrations are taking place in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

March 21 Color 8.5x11
Download the 2-sided color ANSWER flyer, which has this statement on the back
Why are we still marching even after the war criminal George W. Bush has left office? Because the people must speak out for what is right. More than 1 million Iraqis have died and tens of thousands of U.S. troops have been wounded or killed.

The Iraq and Afghanistan war will drag on for years unless we act now. The cost in lives and resources is criminal regardless of whether the Democrats or Republicans are in charge of the government.

We must also act to end U.S. support for Israel's ongoing war against the Palestinian people. The Bush Administration gave the green light and provided the weapons and the money for Israel’s recent war against the Palestinian people in Gaza. More than 5,000 Palestinians were killed or wounded; the majority of casualties were civilians, including hundreds of children, in this high-tech massacre. "We the People" pay the bill as the U.S. provides $2.5 billion a year for Israel's massive military machine.

Why We Say: Bring All the Troops Home Now Not Later!

If Bush’s war and occupation of Iraq was an illegal action of aggression--and it was--how can the new government say that it can only gradually end the war over a number of years? The Iraqis don't want foreign military forces running their country. No one would!

The Pentagon has employed 200,000 foreign contractors (mercenaries) and 150,000 U.S. troops to maintain the occupation of Iraq. They have no right to be there. A few thousand are being brought out of Iraq only to be redeployed to occupy Afghanistan, and the fools in the media proclaim "the war is winding down." That is not true.

President Obama decided to keep the Pentagon just as it was under Bush. He even selected Bush appointee Robert Gates to keep his position as chief of the Pentagon. Gates announced that the new administration would double the number of troops sent to Afghanistan. That is certainly not the "change" most people thought was coming following the end of Bush’s tenure.

These are wars for domination in the Middle East and Central Asia.

The people of the United States want change. We are sick and tired of wars of aggression waged abroad under false slogans of "national security." These are wars that reap massive profits for corporate weapons-makers with the promise of winning control over the vast oil and natural gas reserves in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Working people may have another definition for "national security." What really makes the people "insecure?" Ask the 2.3 million families who are losing their homes because they are being foreclosed when they can’t pay their steep debts to the banks. Ironically, when these same parasitic bankers couldn’t pay their debts, the federal government rushed in with a $2.5 trillion bailout using our tax dollars.

Or ask working-class students who are being laid off from their jobs just as tuition costs soar out of reach. What defines "security" for millions of young people whose future is at stake? Do they want tax dollars spent to kill poor people abroad or to finance education?

We will march on Saturday, March 21, the sixth anniversary of the start of the Iraq invasion, to demand that taxpayer dollars be used to meet people’s needs--here and everywhere. This year's real Pentagon war budget will top $1 trillion.

This amount could create 10 million jobs, provide healthcare and education for all, rebuild New Orleans, and repair much of the damage done in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. We need money for jobs, housing, health care and education, not for wars of aggression.

The occupation of Iraq alone costs $12 billion each month. This amounts to $400 million each day, $16.7 million per hour and $278,000 per minute.

The Pentagon war machine does not act in our interests. Its wars benefit the biggest corporations and banks that seek to control the markets and riches of the Middle East. The people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine are not our enemies. They want to live free from colonial-type domination. Only a people’s movement demanding an end to U.S. wars and militarism can win justice for people here and abroad.

Go to for details about transportation, meetings and to get involved. Buses will be traveling to Washington, D.C. from across the country.

Sidney notes Ann McFeatter's "Grim news on Iraq" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) and I've added "[one]" because I believe the word's left out of McFeatter's sentence (Barack had only one question that mentioned Iraq):

On the day of President Barack Obama's first prime-time press conference, four more Americans were killed in Iraq. Yet the new president, who was elected in part because of his opposition to the war in Iraq, got only [one] question on Iraq, and that was whether he would override the Bush administrations refusal to permit the news media to cover the return to U.S. soil of the caskets of soldiers killed there and in Afghanistan. (Obama said the matter is still under review.)

Obama noted that the moment the burdens of his new office were driven home to him came as he signed letters to the families of fallen soldiers. Americans killed in Iraq since 2003 number 4,244. Officially, another 31,035 have been wounded. There is no official U.S. count of how many Iraqi civilians have died; the number is believed to be nearly 100,000.

The invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003; next month, the sixth anniversary of the war will be observed. Is the United States any closer to winning the war or withdrawing its troops?

With the end of the Bush administration came a flood of new memoirs about the war and candid observations from military officials in charge. All offer gloomy prospects for Iraq, despite Obama's promise to withdraw combat troops within 16 months. (Note the emphasis is on combat troops. Thousands of support troops are expected to stay.) There are 145,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

Dahr Jamail is back in Iraq. In his most recent report, he covers "construction" and Anbar. As you read through the excerpt below (use link for his full report which also contains photos) note the last name mentioned who has been in the news a great deal recently:

Today, leading sheiks like Aifan will tell you that they are in "the construction business." That’s a polite phrase for what they’re doing, and the rubric under which a lot of the payouts take place (however modest actual reconstruction work might be). Think of it this way: Every dealer needs a front man. The U.S. bought the sheiks off and it was to their immediate advantage to be bought off. They regained a kind of power that had been seeping away, while all the money and arms allowed them to put real muscle into recruiting people in the tribes they controlled and into building the Awakening Movement.

The reasons -- and they are indeed plural -- why the tribal leaders were so willing to collaborate with the occupiers of their country are, at least in retrospect, relatively clear. Those in al-Anbar who had once supported, and had been supported by, Saddam Hussein, and then had initially supported the resistance became far keener to work with occupation forces as they saw their power eroded by al-Qaeda-in-Iraq.

AQI proved a threat to the sheiks, many of whom had initially worked directly with it, when it began to try to embed its own fierce, extremist Sunni ideology in the region -- and perhaps even more significantly, when it began to infringe on the cross-border smuggling trade that had kept many tribal sheiks rich. As AQI grew larger and threatened their financial and power bases, they had little choice but to throw in their lot with the Americans.

As a result, these men obtained backing for their private militias, renamed Awakening groups, and in addition, signed "construction" contracts with the Americans who put millions of dollars in their pockets, even if not always into actual construction sites. As early as April 2006, the Rand Corporation released a report, "The Anbar Awakening," identifying America’s potential new allies as a group of sheiks who used to control smuggling rings and organized crime in the area.

One striking example was Sheik Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, who founded the first Awakening groups in al-Anbar and later led the entire movement until he was assassinated in 2007, shortly after he met with President Bush. It was well known in the region that Abu Risha was primarily a smuggler defending his business operations by joining the Americans.

Not surprisingly, given the lucrative nature of the cooperative relationship that developed, whenever an Awakening group sheik is assassinated, another is always there to take his place. Abu Risha was, in fact, promptly replaced as "president" of the Anbar Awakening by his brother Sheik Ahmad Abu Risha, also now in the "construction business."

Sheik Ahmad Abu Risha is the thug who got his way, the thug who got the elections results changed. The thug that both George W. Bush and Barack Obama have 'paid their respects to' and been photographed with. He didn't like the results of the January 31st elections so he threatened violence. Instead of being shut down right then and there, he was catered to. The results were changed for him. If you're late to the party, refer to the following:
  1. The Common Ills: Sheik Risha stomps his feet and threatens

    Oh, yes, that voice of peace Sheik Risha. And what did LAT quote him saying? "If the percentage is true, then we will transfer our entity from a political ... - 75k - Cached - Similar pages -
  2. The Common Ills: Iraq snapshot

    But it's rush down to make nice with Sheik Risha when, if it was anyone else, the US military would be ..... More of Common Ills' photos tagged with image ... - 88k - Cached - Similar pages -
  3. The Common Ills: Iraq snapshot

    The party issued a statement on Sunday accusing Sheik Ahmed and Mr. Mutlaq of practicing "intimidation and extortion" in order have ... "Ahmed Abu Risha is a bandit and thief," he said. .... More of Common Ills' photos tagged with image ... - 86k - Cached - Similar pages -
  4. The Common Ills: Iraq snapshot

    Oh, yes, that voice of peace Sheik Risha. And what did LAT quote him saying? "If the percentage is true, ..... More of Common Ills' photos tagged with image ... - 85k - Cached - Similar pages -
  5. The Common Ills: And the counting of ballots continues

    We get our way, the sheik appears to say, or out come the bullets and the guns. .... More of Common Ills' photos tagged with image ... - 68k - Cached - Similar pages -
  6. The Common Ills: Iraq snapshot

    Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Sheikh Sattar Abo Risha, the head of Anbar awakening council .... permalink posted by Common Ills @ 2:45 PM ... - 78k - Cached - Similar pages -
  7. The Common Ills: Iraq snapshot

    On Tuesday, Sheikh Saleh Fezea Shneitar, his son and nephew were killed outside of Falluja -- the sheikh ..... More of Common Ills' photos tagged with image ... - 93k -

Thursday the Kurdistan Regional Government announced:

Iran's Foreign Minister conducts first visit to Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Erbil, Kurdistan Region – Iraq ( – Mr Manouchehr Mottaki, the Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, today conducted the first visit of an Iranian Foreign Minister to the Kurdistan Region in Iraq. This comes as part of Foreign Minister Mottaki's official visit to the Republic of Iraq.

Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani and several senior Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials met the Foreign Minister, and afterwards held a joint press conference. President Barzani said, “This visit is an encouraging sign for strengthening the relationship between our Region and Iran.” He added, “We in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq want good neighbourly relations based on mutual understanding, and I am happy to welcome this first visit of an Iranian Foreign Minister to the Region.”

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and Deputy Prime Minister Omer Fattah also received Foreign Minister Mottaki. Investment and business opportunities, historical and cultural ties, and trade partnerships were the main topics of discussion.

The KRG leadership welcomes this visit as part of its policy of expanding relations with members of the international community. Solidifying friendship with Kurdistan’s neighbours has been a focus of KRG Prime Minster Nechirvan Barzani's administration.

Minister Mottaki has come to the Kurdistan Region in Iraq to discuss the consolidation of economic cooperation between the KRG and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Mr Mottaki also acts as Iran’s Chairman for the Iran-Iraq Joint Economic Council, and supports continued economic and commercial cooperation between Iran and the Kurdistan Region.

Foreign Minister Mottaki announced the new Consul-Generals of Iran’s Consulates in Erbil and Suleimaniah. Accompanying Mr Mottaki on his trip from Baghdad were Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zibari, Iraq’s Ambassador to Iran, Iran’s Ambassador to Iraq, and other relevant officials. Minister Mottaki departed Erbil in the late afternoon for Suleimaniah, where he will meet with other senior officials.

Last Wednesday the Foreign Ministry of Iraq issued the following:

11 February, 2009

Foreign Minister Meets Iranian Counterpart in Baghdad

His Excellency Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari met on Wednesday 11/2/2009, at the Foreign Ministry headquarters with Mr. Minoshehar Mottaki, Iranian Foreign Minister and his accompanying delegation visiting Iraq for discussions that concern the two countries .

Minister Zebari and his Iranian counterpart discussed in a closed meeting the political aspects and issues that concern the relations between the two countries. Minister Zebari congratulated the Iranian Foreign Minister on the thirtieth anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, and praised his efforts in resolving outstanding issues between the two countries, such as borders, water and oil.

His Excellency Minister Zebari stated that the path was paved and open for the development of relations between the two countries in all fields and the need for continued support for Iraq's Government, adding that Iran was one of the first countries that supported the new Iraq and its national government since the formation of the interim Governing Council after the fall of the former regime.

On his part, Mr. Mottaki expressed his pleasure at being in Baghdad, adding that one of the major reasons for his visit is to convey an invitation from Iranian President Ahmadi Nejad to His Excellency President Jalal Talabani to visit Iran in the near future, and praised the efforts of His Excellency Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari in the development of relations between the two countries, especially during the past three years in reaching high levels, commending the efforts of the Ambassadors of both countries in developing them. Mr. Mottaki congratulated the Government and people of Iraq for the success of the provincial elections and its high participation rate in addition to security and stability in the country, describing it as a translation of the will of the Iraqi people for self determination.

The two foreign ministers held a press conference attended by many local, Arab and foreign media where they touched on the nature of Iraq and Iran's relations and their growing stages in addition to future projects between the two countries.

The meeting was attended Foreign Ministry Undersecretaries and Ambassadors and the Iraqi ambassador in Tehran and Iran's ambassador in Baghdad.

Foreign Minister Mottaki arrived this morning to Baghdad International Airport heading a large delegation which was received by Mr. Labeed Abbawi, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary, and senior officials from the Ministry.

Look at the photo on the Iraq side and note no women. Marvel over that and the nonsense claims of 'progress.' Marvel over who the hell does Iraq think it's fooling with its claims to be concerned about the rights of women. One side of that table is Iraq's and there's not one woman seated. It's not a surprise that the theocratic government of Iran is hostile to women and women's rights but remember that photo the next time the puppet government in Iraq wants to pretend they care at all about women's rights.

In the New York Times today, Steven Lee Myers' "Reopening of Museum in Baghdad Is Uncertain" reports on the power struggle between the Ministry for Tourism and Antiquities and the Culture Ministry as to whether or not the museum will open next Monday. The Culture Ministry's Jabir al-Jabiri is stating that the museum is not opening and his ministry is over the Ministry for Tourism and Antiquties while MfTaA's Baha al-Mayahi states yes, they are opening next Monday. Meanwhile Michael Christie, Missy Ryan and Elizabeth Piper (Reuters) report 8 dead and twenty-six wounded in two Baghdad roadside bombings today.

notes this from Ralph Nader's "It's Going to Take a Civic Jolt" (Information Clearing House):

Some staffers in Congress privately assert that the Democrats are not acting like a majority party. It is worse than that. They are not acting-period.
From their majority status in 2007 to 2009 and a Democratic President in the White House, the Congressional Democrats are not moving swiftly to repeal the ban on Uncle Sam negotiating drug prices from volume discounts under the drug benefit law. They are not moving to amend the Patriot Act, regain control of warrantless surveillance, strengthen the corporate criminal laws and enforcement budgets. Congress is not even pushing to require taxing Hedge Fund manager's income as ordinary income not as capital gains.
I cite these policies because they are policies much favored by many Democratic lawmakers. But in practice lawmakers duck and duck and duck from translating their beliefs into contentious action vis-à-vis the lobbyists and their captive legislators.
Senator Chris Dodd and the vast majority of the American people want to do something about credit card company abuses and gouges. But he is surrounded not just by the Republicans on the Senate Banking Committees but high-ranking Democrats beholden to the financial goliaths who, are demanding and receiving hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts.
There is word from the politicians that consideration of health care insurance-apart from a quickly enacted expansion of some coverage for more poor children-will be put off for a year. The trade unions' top priority to enact labor law reforms, supported by Obama during his presidential campaign, are being held back by the Democrats.
There is even doubt whether the District of Columbia will get a voting Representative in the House when push comes to shove in the Senate.
The one-subject-at-a-time attitude is coming from the White House. "Obama doesn't want it now" is a common phrase used by legislators to excuse themselves from exercising the separate but equal Congressional powers. This pretext applies to taking away some of the hugely expensive and unnecessary weapons systems like the F-22 aircraft decried by many military and retired military analysts. The vast, bloated military budget is sacrosanct on Capitol Hill as it is in the White House.
At a time of widely perceived needs for Congressional action, with large corporations busy applying for corporate welfare and on the defensive, the Democrats are not generating any momentum for standing for and with the people. Even in the midst of food contamination, illnesses and fatalities, they cannot turn around forty years of delay on giving the Food and Drug Administration adequate authority and inspectors to protect our food supply.

Bonnie reminds that Kat's review of Schuyler Fisk's debut album, "Kat's Korner: Download The Good Stuff," went up yesterday as did Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Rose Ceremony."

And today? I didn't realize it was a holiday. I think the only ones in the house who knew were Jim and Dona. Ava, Wally and I woke up and did our normal routines. Dona popped in a second ago to ask if anything was planned for the day off? We (Ava, Wally and I) didn't know it was a holiday or that we had a day off from speaking on the road. Wally quickly called Kat and said, "Go back to bed." If I'd known, I would have slept in at least another hour. But e-mails are asking if there's a snapshot today? I don't know. If I do a snapshot, other community sites will feel they have to post. So I probably won't unless there's some big news out of Iraq. I will do another entry today and that may or may not be about Iraq. It might be about the non-stop attacks (Monica Davey joins in this morning) on a senator opposed to the illegal war and, if so, it will ask why alleged 'left' sites are attacking the man? It will ask why those allegedly so 'hurt' over being called racists are smearing the only Black senator in the US Senate with lies. I'm really sick of those right-wingers posing as lefties. I've had with them, with their racism and with their ignorance. Really, do not post another word if you do not know your facts. It was embarrassing enough when that idiotic site was ripping apart Kim Gandy for her refusal to endorse Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party's presidential primary. Kim Gandy can be ripped apart in any language, using any tone anyone wants. (I like Kim. I've called her out numerous times here.) But there is one rule. It's not "you must be polite." It is, "You must be accurate." Kim Gandy personally endorsed Hillary during the primaries, Kim Gandy took to the road to speak out in favor of Hillary's campaign. Attacking Kim Gandy for not supporting Hillary just flaunts that site's incredible ignorance and how fact free they are.

They refuse to be bound by the facts. And then they want to whine to other sites about how mean people are to them and how they're called racists and how that's so mean and blah, blah, blah. Quit attacking the only Black senator with lies if you don't want to be called racists. Quit using right-wing talking points about immigrants if you don't want to be called racists.

So that might be the topic of the other entry today. But there will be three today.

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