Monday, March 23, 2009

"Nothing really changed in Iraq after six years"

When the US military started what they called Operation Iraq Freedom, I really felt so happy for one thing. I thought Iraq would be free again and we would have real government with politicians who really care about Iraq future and its people. I had a real big hope that services will be the best again and we would live happily again. I never thought that we would start killing each other for the sake of some strangers or to kidnap each other for money but I was completely wrong. I was sure that the American administration had planned very well for the stage after the war but I was wrong again. Nothing really changed in Iraq after six years. To be honest, we have one big change. Now we have hundreds of political parties that do nothing to Iraq and all they care about is their interests. After six years, the Americans approved that they came without any plan because most Iraqis are still poor and deprived from the simplest human rights. Iraqi governments and the American administration failed completely in putting Iraq once again on the right path.
I have to admit that after six years of the invasion, ALL MY DREAMS HAD GONE WITH THE WIND

The above is from "GONE WITH THE WIND" written by one of McClatchy's Iraqi correspondents (Inside Iraq). Yes, that opinion is in contrast to the coward who fled Iraq until after the US invasion (the ambassador to the US, see the previous entry). Meanwhile BBC News reports that Abdullah Gul, President of Turkey, is in Baghdad ("first by a Turkish head of state for more than 30 years") and is meeting with President Jalal Talabani as well as Nouri al-Maliki. Among the topics to be discussed are the PKK. Hurriyet notes that the visit comes as the trade relationship has strengthened, "Turkey’s exports to Iraq have risen 75 percent in the first two months of the year, said State Minister Kürşad Tüzmen, adding that the export target for this year is $5 billion." Paul de Bendern, Shamal Aqrawi, Mohammed Abbas and Charles Dick (Reuters) explain:

Gul's visit comes less than a year after Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan came to Baghdad, marking a milestone in Iraq's efforts to end its regional isolation after U.S.-led troops toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Turkey regularly shells PKK targets in Iraq. It killed at least four PKK guerrillas this month. The rebels are fighting for an independent ethnic homeland in southeastern Turkey.

The US has filed criminal charges in Iraq. For the background before we get to the criminal charges, we'll note this from the Feb. 25th snapshot:

Saturday, May 12, 2007 an al-Taqa attack on US soldiers took place resulting in 4 US soldiers and 1 Iraqi translator being killed immediately and three US soldiers missing. The three missing were Jospeh Anzack, Byron Fouty and Alex Jimenez. In May of 2007 (23rd), the family of Joseph Anzack was informed his body had been identifed. Still missing were Byron Fouty and Alex Jimenez. July 11, 2008 the press reported (citing Byron Fouty's step-father for confirmation) that the remains of both soldiers had been identified. That afternoon the US Dept of Defense released a statement: "The Department of Defense today announced the deaths of two soldiers previously listed as "Missing-Captured" while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. On July 10, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner positively identified human remains recovered in Iraq July 9 to be those of two soldiers who had been previously listed as 'Missing-Captured.' . . . Jimenez and Fouty were part of a patrol that was ambushed by enemy forces south of Baghdad on May 12, 2007. They were assigned to the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y. The Department of Defense previously announced the names of soldiers killed in the attack. They were Pfc. Joseph J. Anzack, Jr., 20, of Torrance, Calif.; Sgt. 1st Class James D. Connell, Jr., 40, of Lake City, Tenn.; Pfc. Daniel W. Courneya, 19, of Nashville, Mich.; Cpl. Christopher E. Murphy, 21, of Lynchburg, Va.; and Sgt. Anthony J. Schober, 23, of Reno, Nev."

Now for the criminal charges. CNN reported last night:

The U.S. Army has filed a criminal complaint in Iraq against 12 people suspected in an ambush south of Baghdad nearly two years ago that left seven U.S. soldiers dead, the military said Sunday.
The Army says the Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella insurgent group led by al Qaeda in Iraq, claimed responsibility for the May 12, 2007, attack. The Army did not release details about charges against the 12 suspects, who are in custody.

AP covers the story here. In other news, Jonah notes Christian Red's "David Wright helps Iraq war vet attend World Baseball Classic" (New York Daily News):

U.S. Army Sgt. Felix Perez maneuvered his wheelchair onto the pristine turf at Dodger Stadium, his mother Marta and stepfather Frank Torres following close behind.
It took about a minute before Perez - New Jersey-raised and a diehard Mets fan - was deluged by the first of numerous greetings from Team USA players.
"What's up, dude?" outfielder Adam Dunn asked as he shook Perez's right hand.
Then Perez's face lit up. David Wright made his way over, huddling close to Perez near the U.S. dugout. "Good to see you," said Wright.
Last week, Perez had what he thought was the experience of a lifetime when he attended the elimination game between the U.S. and Puerto Rico in Miami. After Wright smacked the game-winning hit that advanced Team USA to the semifinals and eliminated Puerto Rico, a security guard spotted Perez near the U.S. clubhouse and helped the Miami resident score a backstage pass to the celebration inside. Perez met all the players, including one of his Mets idols, Wright. Perez didn't think that dizzying moment could be matched until he got a call from a Team USA PR representative Friday. "You're going to L.A.," the representative told Perez.

Jonah notes it might not be "news-news." It fits. And it made my eyes water (good tears), like when Peter Davis won the Academy Award. Which is our transition to Rick Warner's "'Hearts & Minds' Director Sees Similarities in Iraq and Vietnam" (Bloomberg News via Jakarta Globe):

Peter Davis's 1974 documentary "Hearts & Minds" showed how lies, ignorance and hubris led the United States into a disastrous war in Vietnam. Someday, he fears, a similar film might be made about American involvement in Iraq.
A restored version of the Oscar-winning movie was released last week in New York and will be released nationally in the United States in April and May. Davis said the timing couldn't be better.
"We're still haunted by Vietnam," the 72-year-old filmmaker and journalist said by telephone from his home in Maine. "We still have this intervention monkey on our backs. We have to stop seeing ourselves as the cop on every beat in the world."
While Davis acknowledges differences between the wars in Vietnam and Iraq, he sees striking similarities.
"We flew into both on the wings of lies," said Davis, who covered the Iraq War for Nation magazine. "In Vietnam, it was lies about an alleged attack on a US ship in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964. In Iraq, it was lies about weapons of mass destruction and connections that never existed between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden."
Ignorance of history, religion and foreign cultures played a key role in both wars, Davis said.
"We didn't understand Iraq any better than we understood Vietnam," he said. "In Vietnam, we didn't even understand that the Vietnamese hated the Chinese. We thought Chinese communism was rolling over the country, but the Vietnamese disliked the Chinese as much as the US."

That's a personal plug, I know Peter Davis. In NYC, Hearts & Minds is currently showing at Cinema Village (22 East 12th St).

Saturday actions took place across the US including in DC where there was a March on the Pentagon.

DC protest 2

Brandon notes World Can't Wait's "Stop the Crimes of Your Government:"

"That which you do not resist and mobilize to stop you will learn – or be forced – to accept."
From the Call to Drive out the Bush Regime, 2005
Barack Obama is sending a surge of 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.
An antiwar movement that does not move immediately to oppose the Obama doctrine of shifting the central front of the war on terror to Afghanistan, no longer deserves to be called an anti-war movement.
Millions of people voted for Obama because they thought he would end the war. Yet Obama filled his cabinet with Hillary “Obliterate Iran” Clinton, Robert Gates, James Jones and Susan Rice (“a kettle of hawks,” said Jeremy Scahill).
He is not only continuing an unjust war by leaving 80,000 troops and 17 permanent bases in Iraq, and all over the region, including nuclear carrier-led task forces with enough firepower to "annihilate" any country in the region, but Obama is enlisting many progressive sections of society to support and be complicit in waging a spreading war for U.S. hegemony and imperialist expansion known as the "war on terror."

That's a section of the letter. You can read it in full and sign on (if you choose) by clicking here. In the letter you'll see last Saturday and Thursday's events announced -- which World Can't Wait will be posting about later in the week (possibly today) -- but don't think that means the letter had a sign-by-date and that it's too late to sign on now. You can still sign on. Thanks to Brandon for grabbing an excerpt of the letter. It was mentioned in an e-mail last week and a friend mentioned it Saturday (during the march) and again Sunday but -- as I explained both times -- send me a copy or read it to me. I don't have time online. I'm either reading the e-mails or I'm writing an entry. My surfing days ended around the time this site started.

World Can't Wait was one of the sponsors of the March on the Pentagon Saturday. A.N.S.W.E.R. was another and they have photos up and a report which includes:

The Arlington County Police mobilized in full riot gear in an attempt to block the demonstrators from delivering symbolic coffins at the doorsteps of the war corporations. They brought tear gas, snarling dogs and pointed guns loaded with rubber bullets directly at demonstrators. The Arlington County Police also put out an absurdly low count of the demonstration, which was more than 10,000 people.
In Los Angeles, a simultaneous demonstration drew 4,000 people, which culminated with a dramatic die-in at the Kodak Theater. Another 4,000 demonstrated in San Francisco, where police carried out violent attacks on demonstrators and arrested numerous people.
"This is the launch of the anti-war movement in the post-Bush era. Bush is gone, but the occupation of Iraq continues, the war in Afghanistan is escalating, and the people of Palestine are living under a state of siege," stated Brian Becker, National Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition.

I have no idea what the count was but it was a lot more than 10,000 in DC. In the "Roundtable," Elaine estimated 50,000 and Ruth said 70,000. I offered nothing because I didn't attempt to count and had no idea but it was way more than 10,000. If you click on this photo A.N.S.W.E.R. has provided, you'll see the yellow signs that Mike thought were the most effective.

Iraq Veterans Against the War was another sponsor of the March on the Pentagon and, from IVAW, we'll note Jen Hogg's "BUT OVERALL, THE PENTAGON SAYS THAT MORE SEXUAL ASSAULT REPORTS ARE JUST WHAT IT WANTS TO SEE.:"

I know the title sounds like a possible misquote but, taken direct from the Army Times, the reality of how the military is mishandling sexual assault in its ranks couldn't be clearer. Nor could the detrimental effect this misconduct has on the military and its members be any clearer or the need to address, prevent and treat it be any more timely.
The official DoD SAPRO FY2008 (SAPRO is the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, ) press release does not fare much better. Statistics are used to misrepresent the situation.
The press release, which can be seen below, uses selective reporting to make it seem as though 38% of reported cases go to court martial (how many are convicted is a statistic that is not tallied by the DoD, oddly enough).

IVAW's Peter Sullivan reflects on the anniversary of the Iraq War here and IVAW's Jennifer Pacanowski contributes a moving poem reflecting on veterans and the US.

The Kurdistan Regional Government notes:

Ambassadors from Baghdad celebrate Newroz holiday with Iraqi and KRG officials

Erbil, Kurdistan - Iraq ( – Ambassadors, heads of missions, and charge d’affaires from more than 30 embassies in Baghdad visited Erbil from 20 to 22 March for Newroz, the Kurdish New Year holiday. The Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in collaboration with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), provided an opportunity for the delegation to participate in the festivities and to gain a better understanding of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, who has spearheaded the KRG effort to broaden ties with the international community, hosted a dinner reception for the delegation. He said, “It is a great honor and pleasure to celebrate Newroz with so many friends from the international community. I hope that this visit will be a springboard for future visits and further cooperative activity.”

He added, “I know that some ambassadors are here for the first time. I welcome you to see the progress we have made in the Region as part of a federal, pluralistic, and democratic Iraq. I would like to assure you all that the Kurdistan Region will continue to play a positive role in the political development of Iraq, guided by our Constitution.” Prime Minister Barzani thanked Iraq's Foreign Minister Zebari, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbawi, and all of the officials for their hard work in arranging the event.

Newroz is a holiday particular to the Kurdish tradition, although many neighbouring peoples mark the beginning of spring with a similar holiday. Picnics, dances, and retreats to places of natural beauty are typical activities.

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, who traveled with the delegation from Baghdad, spoke on the eve of Newroz. “I am delighted that finally, together, we succeeded in hosting you here as part of the Foreign Ministry's efforts to revitalize and activate the diplomatic life in Iraq. We wanted to introduce you to this part of Iraq.” He added, “And it is in our future plans that there would be further visits to other parts of Iraq: to the south, to the marshes, to Basra, and to the holy shrines, as the situation permits us to do so. We are committed, in fact, to introduce you to all parts of this beautiful country.”

From left: Ambassador of Greece, Minister Zebari, Ambassador of Kuwait, Minister Bakir, Ambassador of Italy

On behalf of the visiting diplomats, Greek Ambassador Panayotis Makris thanked the Iraqi Foreign Ministry and the KRG for their efforts. He also remarked on the impressive progress of the Kurdistan Region.

Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, Head of the KRG Department of Foreign Relations, welcomed the delegation. “This is the time of year when the people of the Kurdistan Region celebrate renewal, growth, and hope.” He added, “We in the KRG are pleased to welcome you to our Region. I would like to sincerely thank the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their hard work and cooperation in facilitating this visit. And I invite our esteemed guests to explore the Region’s abundant potential for investment and business partnership as a gateway to all of Iraq.”

The delegation was treated to a variety of cultural events. On Newroz eve, the traditional Newroz fire and Kurdish musical and dance performances were held at Sami Abdul Rahman Park in Erbil. On Newroz day, the delegation had a chance to take in the beauty of the mountainous countryside, visiting the Bekhal waterfall and Pank resort. The Prime Minister’s dinner reception followed. Guests were entertained with live Kurdish, Arabic, and Assyrian music each night.

On the final day, the delegation toured the ancient citadel, the Erbil Convention Center, and the new airport. Ambassadors and representatives were impressed with the accomplishments and development of the Region, and expressed their gratitude to the Federal Foreign Ministry and the Kurdistan Regional Government for the initiative.

Several KRG Ministers participated in the proceedings, including State Interior Minister Karim Sinjari, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, Health Minister Abdul Rahman Osman Yones, Tourism Minister Nimrud Baito, Civil Society Minister George Mansour, Minister for Extra-Regional Affairs Mohammad Ihsan, Minister for Sports and Youth Taha Barwary, Governor of Erbil Nawzad Hadi, and Deputy Head of the Department of Foreign Relations Hogir Shalli.

The number of diplomats and foreign business people in the Kurdistan Region has grown steadily. There are currently 13 diplomatic offices in Erbil, and a number of other nations have begun the legal and logistic process of establishing offices as well.

List of participating nations:

Diplomatic Visit to Erbil, Kurdistan Region in Iraq for the Newroz New Year Celebrations 20 - 22 March 2009

  • Czech Republic (ambassador)
  • Democratic Republic of Algeria (ambassador)
  • European Commission Delegation to Iraq (ambassador)
  • Federal Republic of Brazil (ambassador)
  • Hellenic Republic of Greece (ambassador)
  • Kingdom of Bahrain (ambassador)
  • Kingdom of Denmark (ambassador)
  • Kingdom of Sweden (ambassador)
  • Organization of the Islamic Conference (ambassador)
  • People’s Republic of China (ambassador)
  • Republic of Austria (ambassador)
  • Republic of Italy (ambassador)
  • Republic of Kazakhstan (ambassador)
  • Republic of Korea (ambassador)
  • Republic of Serbia (ambassador)
  • Republic of the Sudan (ambassador)
  • Russian Federation (ambassador)
  • Slovak Republic (ambassador)
  • State of Kuwait (ambassador)
  • Syrian Arab Republic (ambassador)
  • United Arab Emirates (ambassador)
  • United States of America (ambassador)

  • Canada (charge d’affaires)
  • Federal Republic of Germany (charge d’affaires)
  • Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (charge d’affaires)
  • Japan (charge d’affaires)
  • Kingdom of Belgium (charge d’affaires)
  • Kingdom of Morocco (charge d’affaires)
  • Kingdom of the Netherlands (charge d’affaires)
  • Palestine (charge d’affaires)
  • Republic of Yemen (charge d’affaires)
  • United Kingdom (Acting Head of Erbil office)
  • United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (Head of Erbil office)

  • And Iraq's Foreign Ministry (equivalent of the US State Dept -- one visitor e-mailed asking what the Foreign Ministry was) notes:

    20 March, 2009

    Foreign Ministry Organizes Visit to Kurdistan Region for Diplomatic Missions Accredited in Baghdad

    Upon the Kurdistan Region's invitation, Foreign Ministry organized a visit to the Region for Diplomatic Mission's accredited in Iraq on the occasion of Nouruz for the period 20-22nd. Mar. 2009.

    Ambassadors, Charge d'affairs and their families arrived at Erbil international Airport accompanied with Foreign Ministry Undersecretary and number of Ambassadors in the Ministry headquarters on Friday, The Ambassadors were received by Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, who headed the delegation that received high level officials in the Region.

    The Kurdistan Regional Government prepared a program for this celebration to the diplomatic missions including activities and visits to different places in the Region.

    Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Celebrity President" went up last night. The e-mail address for this site is