Monday, March 23, 2009

The Iraqi disaster

The sixth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq is a sad occasion for the balance sheet: during six years of occupation 1.2 million citizens were killed, 2,000 doctors killed, and 5,500 academics and intellectuals assassinated or imprisoned. There are 4.7 million refugees: 2.7 million inside the country and two million have fled to neighbouring countries, among which are 20,000 medical doctors. According to the Red Cross, Iraq is now a country of widows and orphans: two million widows as a consequence of war, embargo, war again and occupation, and five million orphans, many of whom are homeless (estimated at 500,000). Almost a third of Iraq’s children suffer from malnutrition. Some 70 per cent of Iraqi girls no longer go to school. Medical services, not so long ago the best in the region, have totally collapsed: 75 per cent of medical staff have left their jobs, half of them have fled the country, and after six years of "reconstruction" health services in Iraq still do not meet minimum standards.
Because of the use of depleted uranium in ammunition by the occupation, the number of cancer cases and miscarriages has drastically increased. According to a recent Oxfam report, the situation of women is most worrisome. The study states that in spite of optimistic bulletins in the press, the situation of women keeps deteriorating. The most elementary supplies are still not available. Access to drinkable water is for large parts of the population a problem and electricity is functioning only three to six hours a day, and this in a state that was once a nation of engineers. More than four in 10 Iraqis live under the poverty threshold and unemployment is immense (28.1 per cent of the active population). Besides 26 official prisons, there a some 600 secret prisons. According to the Iraqi Union of Political Prisoners, over 400,000 Iraqis have suffered detention since 2003, among which 6,500 minors and 10,000 women. Torture is practiced on a large scale, and some 87 per cent of detainees remain uncharged. Corruption is immense: according to Transparency International, Iraq, after Somalia and Myanmar, is the most corrupt country in the world. The American Foreign Affairs journal calls Iraq "a failed state". This is symbolised by the fact that Iraq, a state that has the third largest oil reserves in the world, must import refined oil on a massive scale. Authorities are on the verge of giving oil concessions for 25 years to international (also European) oil companies, though they have no mandate or legal authority to do so. Instead of being paid reparations for the enormous destruction wrought on the infrastructure of the country, entailing billions in oil revenues lost, Iraq is again in line to be robbed. There is large scale ethnic cleansing going on against the Turkmen, the Christians, the Assyrians and the Shebak. Kirkuk is being "Kurdicised" by massive immigration and illegal settlements (of Israeli inspiration) and its history falsified.

The above, noted by Marci, is from Lieven De Cauter's "A Forgotten Humanitarian Disaster" (Information Clearing House, De Cauter is with the Brussells Tribunal). Iraqi is the forgotten disaster in every way including by the New York Times which can't be bothered with reporting on it this morning.

Frank Ucciardo did a report on the Iraq War for CBS' Up To The Minute
. A friend at CBS asked why Ava and I didn't cover that? (A) It's not a proper program and we were focusing on the evening broadcast news and (B) we were trying to be kind. Click here for the video and, note, the text accompanying does not reflect Ucciardo's report.

Frank Ucciardo: March 2003, the US launches it's Shock and Awe campaign against Saddam Hussein with an aerial assault on the Iraqi capitol Baghdad. But the real shock and awe may have been the cost of US lives and dollars. Six years later the Iraq War has cost more than 4200 confirmed US lives and racked up a staggering price tag estimated to be in excess of 605 billion dollars.

Frank Ucciardo (sit down interview): A lot of people are wondering whether or not the costs of dollars and lives has been worth it in Iraq?

Hamid Al Bayati (Iraq Ambassador to the US): Of course worth it. Saddam was regime which was against the West in general, against the international community, Saddam didn't comply with the UN resolution, he invaded Kuwait [C.I. note: He needs to learn English and that's not being harsh, we'll get to his bio in a second but his next words are of no known language]. He aquired, developed and used chemical weapons against the Iraqi people and neighboring countries.

George W. Bush (May 1, 2003 footage of him standing beneath the "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" Banner): Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and its allies have prevailed.

Frank Ucciardo: Has the mission in Iraq been accomplished? Seriously?

Hamid Al Bayati: The general picture for us Iraqis is that Iraq, the region and the war is much safer without Saddam regime.

Frank Ucciardo: When you saw Saddam Hussein hanged [December 30, 2006], what went through your mind? What went through your heart when you saw him being hanged?

Hamid Al Bayati: Well the Iraqis who suffered -- I suffered -- I'm one of the Iraqis who suffered. I lost eight members of my family during Saddam's regime. I have another brother who was kidnapped and killed in 2005.

Frank Ucciardo: You personally when Saddam was hanged, did you have a feeling that you were getting justice?

Hamid Al Bayati: I felt at that time that we could have better Iraq after Saddam executed and security would not have been improved dramatically in Iraq without executing Saddam because he was encouraging resistance even in the court he was encouraging people to resist and he was sending letters from his hiding place. So we know that as long as Saddam lived, his followers, his loyalists, they were hoping that he would come back.

Frank Ucciardo: Is the US involvement ever going to end in Iraq?

Hamid Al Bayati: I think that the Status Of Forces Agreement, the SOFA which was signed, stated clearly that all US forces should be withdrawn by the end of 2011. There will be no extension from that.

Frank Ucciardo: But earlier this week, Iraqi *President* Nouri al-Maliki said US troops may remain in some areas that are not completely secure.

Frank Ucciardo (back to the sit down interview): There's been some recent violence involving al Qaeda and I'm wondering whether or not you'll ever be free of the presence of al Qaeda in your country? How much of a factor will that be in the future of Iraq?

Hamid Al Bayati: Al Qaeda's much, much weaker now --

And that's where we have no more interest in that nonsense. al Qaeda in Iraq is a homegrown group that develops after the start of the illegal war. It is one group among the resistance and it is the group a lazy press always rushes to blame thereby misinforming the public. Wikileaks posted a RAND study this month. The November 2008 study is over 300 pages and [PDF format warning] entitled "Intelligence Operations and Metrics in Iraq and Afghanistan, Fourth in a Series of Joint Urban Operations and Counterinsurgency Studies" and authored by Russell W. Glenn and S. Jamie Gayton. It notes some of the complexities of the resistance:

The many overlapping insurgent, terrorist, criminal, and other foes that together comprise the heterogeneous enemy in Iraq -- and an only somewhat less varied one in Afghanistan -- continue to feed on their damaged societies. What appear to be random bombings, kidnappings, and other atrocities sometimes constitute a well-conceived insurgent campaign of exhaustion.

That slides by with the mind-numbing repetition of "al Qaeda in Iraq." "*" section is because Jalal Talabani is the president of Iraq and Nouri al-Maliki is the prime minister. Again, Ava and I were trying to be kind and the report didn't fit our scope. Another example where we were kind was putting To The Contrary in "The Katrina goes to . . ." instead of including it in the Iraq article. If we had included it, we wouldn't have just noted that Kim Gandy waste everyone's time by babbling on about a movie she has clearly never seen -- unless she's ignorant she can't comprehend a basic plot line -- or the program wasted everyone's time babbling on about pregnancy -- condemning all women who were pregnant and not married to a man -- whether they were living with a woman or living with a man. In Kim Gandy and the others eyes, the only valid relationship was a legal marriage between a man and a woman. No, that's not feminism. Kim Gandy and Eleanor Holmes Norton should be ashamed. And they can claim they don't feel that way but they failed to state that on air. We would have pointed out that when the Pentagon releases figures on sexual assault in the military and the number increases that's a damn more important story than a less than 3% increase in the rate of pregnancy in the US.

Back to CBS' report. Al Bayati has no excuse for not being able to master the English language. He spent the bulk of the last two decades in England and he is a British citizen. Only in 'liberated' Iraq could a citizen of another country be an ambassador. (Yes, he also holds Iraqi citizenship.) He's one of the many cowards who spent years and years agitating for the US to go in and do what he and his cowardly cohorts were too damn scared to do: Overthrow Saddam.

In the future, the US government's position should be that no US service members are sent in to fight a battle that cowards of the country won't fight themselves. (No, all these cowards who fled Iraq did not go in fighting when the US invaded. They were and are cowards which is why it will be very interesting on the day the US actually leaves -- probably many, many years from now -- since these cowards have never stood up a day in their lives.) Al Bayati was part of INDICT -- a board member actually (1995-2002). They were so 'brave,' that British group, that they compiled rumors. They didn't take up arms, they didn't do anything but beg and beg other countries to do what the cowards were too chicken to do for themselves. He was also a member of the cowards' other big organization Iraqi National Congress in London (1992-1998). For those new to those cowardly and lying organizations, SourceWatch notes, in their Rendon Group entry:

The Rendon Group is a secretive public relations firm that has assisted a number of U.S. military interventions in nations including Argentina, Colombia, Haiti, Iraq, Kosovo, Panama and Zimbabwe. Rendon's activities include organizing the Iraqi National Congress, a PR front group designed to foment the overthrow of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

So let's be really clear, it doesn't matter that he's an ambassador appointed by the puppet regime, he has blood on his hands -- including US blood -- and he has no business being treated like a diplomat. If the US had any self-respect at all, they would have refused his diplomatic credentials and refused to allow him entry into this country.

The next entry opens with an Iraqi who stayed in Iraq through it all and the opinion of Iraq today, no surprise, is different from that of the coward who spent decades lobbying the US to do what he was too chicken to do.

Speaking of the idiot men Iraq's appointed as ambassadors (and all their ambassadors are men -- though we're never supposed to notice that) the Foreign Ministry announces:

Iraq's Ambassador in Romania Urges Iraqis to Return Home to Rebuild their Country

In the quest of Iraqi diplomatic missions abroad to provide services to Iraqi's, Iraq's ambassador to Bucharest, Mr. Adel Murad met with members of the Iraqi community and discussed with them ways to overcome problems and obstacles.

The ambassador stressed that Iraqis love their country and wish to contribute to it, stressing that Iraq is stable and secure and needs its people to for reconstruction.

The Iraqi community expressed their willingness to return to Iraq to help in the development of health and educational institutions suitable with their professions.

No, it is not safe to return to Iraq. And note that refugees are not "chickens." Iraqi refugees should be accepted by the US. But a rule should be in place that refugees do not use a host country to plot against their former country. You want to get on with your lives? By all means, the US should welcome you. You want to spend a decade or two plotting how to drag the US into a war with your former country? You need to be kicked out. And if that means you have to return to your former country and if that means you may be tortured or killed, that's really on you because all refugee status should give you is the chance to start your life over, not the chance to plot and scheme a war. Want to fight your own country? Don't be a coward and run off from it. ("Coward" does not apply to actual refugees and those include members of the military who decide that a war is wrong ethically or legally and that they cannot participate in it. A coward is someone who wants war but doesn't want to fight it themselves. Like all the exiles now in control of the Iraqi government.)

In other news, David Bauder (AP) contributes an article about 60 Minutes which notes the CBS news program's renewed ratings success:

"We stand on the shoulders of giants," correspondent Scott Pelley said, "but I dare say this program has never been better than it is right now."
In an office where the sense of history and pride is palpable - Executive Producer Jeff Fager has Emmy Awards on the floor because he's run out of shelf space - some of his colleagues weren't ready to go as far as Pelley. But they do think "60 Minutes" was wise in how it has dived into stories about the economy and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Bauder's article was published today. Point, there's no excuse for not noting that Don Hewitt is very sick. 60 Minutes is Hewitt's baby and while its renewed ratings success is wonderful it's really appalling that Hewitt is so ill and the article doesn't note that and includes what can be read (especially considering his condition) swipes at him. (I know Don Hewitt and may be taking that article too personally but, considering he created the program and how ill is he, I do not know how else that AP article can be taken.)

In Iraq, Mohammed Abbas, Tim Cocks and Charles Dick (Reuters) report a Baghdad bombing at a bus terminal has claimed at least 9 lives with at least twenty-three people left injured.

The Kurdistan Regional Government notes:

President Barzani meets EU's foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Brussels

Brussels, Belgium ( - As part of an extensive European tour, Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani visited Brussels on Wednesday. During his one-day visit, Mr Barzani met Mr Javier Solana, the European Union's High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).

The President and Mr Solana exchanged views on the latest developments in Iraq and on issues of particular interest to the Kurdistan Region. President Barzani expressed his appreciation for the European Union’s commitment to a federal and democratic Iraq and urged the EU to encourage trade and investment in the Kurdistan Region as a gateway to all of the country.

Earlier in the day President Barzani welcomed a delegation of the Iraqi federal parliament and met Iraq's ambassador to Belgium.

The President’s visit to Brussels and his European tour are part of the Kurdistan Region’s efforts to encourage international support for Iraq’s political process and to attract foreign investment to the Kurdistan Region. Earlier this month he visited Italy, the Vatican, Germany and the UK.

Dr Fuad Hussein, Chief of Staff of the Kurdistan Region Presidency, and Mr Burhan Jaf, Head of the KRG Mission to the EU, were part of the President’s delegation in Brussels.

Photo gallery of President Barzani's European tour

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Celebrity President" went up last night.

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