Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Iran and Iraq increase ties

"We hope occupation of Iraq will end as soon as possible and the Iraqi people will build a unified and independent state without presence of aliens and successfully achieve development," the Tehran Times quotes Iranian Chair of Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani declaring Monday in a Baghdad press conference with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. Alsumaria explains:

Promoting and developing bilateral relations between Iraq and Iran on cultural, trade and economic levels is the headline of former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani's visit to Iraq who stressed at his arrival to Baghdad the necessity to enhance bilateral relations. Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki who welcomed the Iranian guest emphasized the importance of exchanging visits between both countries on high levels. Al Maliki asserted that Iranian-Iraqi relations have overcome the effects of the former regime polices noting that Iraq is keen on establishing optimal relations with neighboring countries.

The Mujahideen Khalq Organization (MKO akak People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran) was raised by Talabani, according to Xinhau which reports he declared he wants them out of Iraq. Xinhau also notes that the two met at Talabani's "residence at the edge of the heavily fortified Green Zone in Central Baghdad" as Rafasnjani began his "first visit to Iraq since Iran's Islamic revolution in 1979." UPI notes the increased ties between the two countries:

Both countries reached a series of agreements during the visit, which brought a series of top officials to Iran. For his part, Fawzi Hariri, the Iraqi minister of industry, signed a memorandum of understanding with his Iranian counterpart, Ali-Akbar Mehrabian, to expand ties in the mining industry.
Iran's judiciary chief, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, also welcomed renewed ties between the neighboring countries, adding that Iraq's progress promises "a brilliant prospect" for improved relations.

This in addition, Hurriyet reminds, to the "four-way electricity network" between Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey that was announced on Saturday. But the deal to increase mining and industrial ties is just between Iran and Iraq. Prensa Latina notes that this is a reciprocal visit following Talabani's "three-day visit to Teheran".

While Iraq and Iran strengthened their ties -- no, that wasn't one of the planned US goals of the illegal war, the US made its own Iran-related announcement.

Meanwhile an Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy offers what the visit meant for the people in "Who should care?" (Inside Iraq):

Today was one of the worst days in the life of the western side of Baghdad. An Iranian official who started his visit to Baghdad yesterday decided to visit the holy shrine of Imam Mousa al Kadhim in Kadhemiyah neighborhood. For the sake of the guest, all the roads were blocked and hundreds of different security forces spread everywhere. And for his sake also, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis couldn't go to their schools, offices and stores. For the sake of the guest, the taxi drivers could earn a penny to their families. For the sake of the guest, my uncle who suffers a heart failure and came from another province to go to a hospital in Baghdad had to make a long trip to reach the hospital and I don't know whether he caught his turn or not and for the sake of the guest,I had to pay extra money to the taxi driver to get me to the office because my driver couldn't leave his house.

This was going to be the first entry, this morning, just FYI. However, I was going through the e-mails which asked about certain sections of Tom-Tom's bad writing and on the phone with a friend from back in the day, so we ended up with the lengthy entry that I just posted. Every time I would think that entry was done, I'd see a question or comment in an e-mail or my friend would insist, "You have to at least allude to ____." The thing ended up so long and something needed to go up right then so it did. Which is why this entry will have a ton squeezed into it. This was supposed to be spread out between the two. And the following really needs emphasis.
The US military issued the following press release yesterday:

Unmanned aerial system fires weapons in combat; proves capabilities, makes history
Multi-National Division – North PAO
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq – A team of Soldiers from Alpha Troop, , 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, made history Feb. 23 when the unmanned aerial vehicle they were operating became the first armed Warrior Alpha unmanned aerial system to fire missiles in combat.
Staff Sgt. Jerry Rhoades, Cpl. Phillip Cheng and Spc. James Pegg were operating the UAS in support of 5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division. The team was providing surveillance for U.S. and Iraqi ground troops in the Diyala province when insurgents engaged the Coalition forces.
“We neutralized both targets – [the ground forces] were satisfied,” Rhoades said.Although systems operators are trained to deploy the weapons platform, this was the first time the Warrior Alpha system engaged a target in combat.
“We know we have the capability, but we’ve never had the opportunity to use it before,” Cheng explained.
Task Force ODIN was activated in Iraq in 2007 as one of many initiatives to help defeat the threat of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and give Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition (RSTA) support to lower echelon field commanders.
At an Army Aviation Association of America conference in May 2007, Gen. Richard Cody, then Vice Chief of Staff of the Army who ordered the creation of TF ODIN in 2006, said the task force “is really showing us why we need to put UAS inside the CABs…anytime you can see the enemy and he doesn’t know you’re watching is a good thing – but not good enough. You also must be able to do something about it, and that’s what we’ve been able to do.”
Rhoades said using UAS weapon systems could help save time and lives.
“Say we see someone emplacing IEDs,” he explained. “If we can see it, our customer can see it, and they can call in a team to diffuse it - but that puts ground troops in harm’s way. If we have Hellfires on board, we can get authorization, take out the whole emplacement, and no ground troops get injured.”
Pegg said he hopes Task Force ODIN operators will be called upon to use Warrior Alpha weapons more frequently now that the system has proven effectiveness in combat.
“I hope we do, and believe we probably will,” he said.
Rhoades agreed, saying, “We were happy to be able to be a part of it, and show the ground forces what we are capable of.”

That is not a 'happy event' and it's one that will probably be ignored. It is alarming and it is the same distancing from the killing as dropping bombs from above. The further one is physically removed from the killing, the less 'real' it seems.

This morning's New York Times has an article on a legal case in Iraq. We're not interested in Iraqi 'justice' because it doesn't exist. Instead, we'll note this blog post at the New York Times which analyzes the elections. It should have been an article in this morning's paper.

At the Washington Post's Post Global, Endy M. Bayuni's "American Humiliation After Iraq" offers:

It took years for Americans to realize that it was a war they could not win. Nixon and Kissinger agonized over whether to cut the country's losses and leave Vietnam, or stay and maintain America's integrity, pride and international standing.
In the end, it was public opinion in America that forced the United States government to swallow the bitter pill of defeat. It was not so much the thought of the Vietnamese death toll as the rising death toll of young Americans drafted into the military that turned the public opinion against its own government.
Americans suffered the humiliation of a war defeat as it never had before. One would expect that that trauma and scar would have been enough to prevent the United States from launching another war in a foreign land. Bush and Cheney did not read history well, and they took America to another war some 40 years later, which is where we are today: a war America cannot win, and an ethnic war just waiting to erupt as soon as American troops pull out.
The real question to ask is not whether the United States should send the soldiers back if ethnic strife returns in Iraq. The problem of Iraq is for the Iraqis to solve, and for its immediate neighbors to help. Unless Americans are still thinking of controlling Iraq's oil, they really have no business meddling in Iraqi politics.

Iraq's Foreign Ministry announces:

Foreign Minister Meets U.S. Secretary of States

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari met on Monday March 2nd 2009 Ms. Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State on the sidelines of the International Conference for the reconstruction of Gaza in Sharm El-Sheikh.

During the meeting they discussed bilateral relations and President Barack Obama's plan for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, as well as Iraq's regional relations in addition to discussing Iraq's welcome to host the Ministerial Meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Egypt, Jordan and the United States in Baghdad in the coming period.

Mrs. Clinton welcomed and supported the convening of the next ministerial meeting in Baghdad during the meeting and thanked the approval of the Iraqi Government on the nomination of the new American ambassador in Baghdad, Mr. Christopher Hill.

This is a State Dept photo of Secretary of State Clinton in Egypt with US Ambassador to Egypt Margaret Scobey and Ibrahim Hairat who is the Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chief of Protocol, Arab Republic of Egypt.


The US State Dept is currently promoting this action:


Text the Secretary a question about her
trip to the Middle East and Europe.
Inside U.S.: 90822
Outside U.S.: 202-255-6299
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Here's another photo from Hillary's diplomatic mission to Egypt where she's speaking to President Hosni Mubarak.


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