Saturday, March 07, 2009

Pigs may not fly but they sure float in Iraq

"We are the sons of the province, and we are ready to run the province," said Ahmad Abu Risha, who inherited the leadership of the Awakening movement after his brother, Abdul Sattar, was killed in a suicide bombing in 2007.

That's from Liz Sly's "Iraq's Sunni Awakening movement takes first place in Anbar province elections" (Chicago Tribune) and Mafia Don Ahmad Abu Risha bragging about coercing the electoral 'commission' into swinging the vote his way. Shakey Risha is a thug. He was born a thug and, hopefully some day very soon, he will die a long, slow, painful thug death. Maybe when the US military pulls out? Maybe he can cry in vain in his dying gasps for the US military to save him?

That would be poetic. The thug runs his own little syndicate in Al Anbar Province and he stomped his feet and threatened massive violence if he didn't get his way in the (rigged) election results. Now we're seeing him revealing even more of his tiny being: "We are the sons of the province." Pig. Dumb ass, uneducated pig.

And don't you dare say, "That's the culture." No, that was not the dominant culture in Iraq. The dominant culture did not, for example, feel the need to do an animal sacrfice at every government ceremony. (And we do grasp that when US 'sensititivies' or 'fears' are too great, the sacrifice is done prior to the ceremony, right? ) These are the uneducated thugs the US elected to work with, the backward, backwater hicks of Iraq.

The braindrain was of no concern to the US government because they'd already installed thugs (and would continue doing so). There was no concern over Iraq becoming a 'democracy' -- ignore the lip service. The plan was for Iraq to be controllable and stable enough for money to be made. The first part meant puppets would be installed and the second part meant they would pick wack jobs for the puppets. Not educated people who might honestly embrace democracy, of course not. The international history of the US is one of extreme violence when democracy actually starts to take hold or awaken in a people. When Chile 'foolishly' thought they could have a democracy and that the Western world would embrace them for it, you get slaughter and the installation of Pinochet. It's the same in country after country.

'Democracy' espoused by the US overseas is just a band-aid to plaster over the bleeding. "Yes, there has been a lot of killing, but democracy is coming! It's coming!" If it ever shows, it'll have to stagger across a globe bloodied and bullied., stepping over so many corpses that "killing field" is an insufficient phrase.

And it happens over and over again, the US installs these thugs to intimidate the local people. Shakey Risha is a pig and a crook. When he began threatening mass violence because he didn't like the results of the election, the correct response would have been to have let the results stand and carted his ass off to prison. (Don't worry, the Godfather's cement 'business' would have stayed in the Family.) Instead, everyone catered to him. Nouri sent in representatives, the US military sent in representatives (and sent the military back in to the province in large numbers in case the violence Shakey was threatening broke out). The results should have stood. Instead, a thug was catered too.

Ten, twenty years from now, when young adults come to the US to speak of what happened to their families in Al Anbar Province, remember there was a moment when the thug could have been put in his place; however, the US that elevated him (and put him on the payroll) continued Shakey's elevation.

Sly notes:

The final result helped soothe Awakening tempers but stirred the ire of the Islamic Party, which has governed Anbar since 2003. It alleges the result was fixed to mollify the Awakening and head off the threat of violence.
"People think the results were made up--a deal with the government in Baghdad and also the Americans to satisfy Abu Risha," said Khamis Ahmed Abtan, the outgoing deputy head of the provincial council, who is affiliated with the Islamic Party and who worries that an Awakening-led administration will introduce tribalism to local government.
"Anbar is going to be ruled according to emotions and according to affiliations of tribes," he said. "We're already seeing it. People are saying, 'We're of X tribe, so we've got to have X job.' I don't think this is good for the security of the province."

That's the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP), an Arab party and the party of Iraq's Sunni vice president Tariq al-Hashimi. Feb. 18th, IIP's Sami Safwat was shot dead in Baghdad.

Dahr Jamail is back in Iraq. In his latest report, he explores the destroyed medical services in Iraq. From his "Medical Care At Last, At a Price" (Dissident Voice):

Prompt medical care is at last on offer in Iraq, for those who can find the dollars for it.
"Why would I want to go to government-run hospitals where there is no care, no functioning instruments, long lines, and in the end the same doctor who treats you there can treat you at a private hospital," says Mohammed Abbas, 35, an employee at Iraq’s Ministry of Oil.
Abbas, speaking at the private Saint Raphael Hospital in the Karrada area of Baghdad, wanted treatment on time, and was prepared to pay for it. Like him, many are coughing up money for private treatment. When they have money, that is, in an economy with more than 50 percent unemployment.
For medical care, many scramble to find money somehow. "It is a catastrophe at the government-run hospitals," says Hayder Abud, 30, at the private hospital for a check-up. "When you finally get a doctor to see you there, they are so rushed and sleep deprived, you can’t be sure you are getting proper treatment."
Most treatment at government hospitals is free. Getting an x-ray at a private hospital may cost 40 dollars. But at a private hospital the job can get done on time.
"Iraq's Ministry of Health is struggling," said Khaled, administrative manager at the Saint Raphael Hospital, requesting that his last name not be used. "We have had problems with the Ministry of Health because they are angry at us for treating so many more people nowadays."

Meanwhile AP's Kim Gamel reports on a study sponsored by al-Maliki's government and the World Health Organization that attempts to examine mental health in Iraq and finds that, of those who self-identify as having mental disorders -- 16.5% of the total number surveyed, almost 70% have thought of suicide. (No, thinking of suicide is not the same as doing it and thinking of suicide is not uncommon in a non-war zone.) Gamel notes that a random sample (just like the 2006 Lancet study) was done involving 4,332 Iraqis (less than the number surveyed for the Lancet study). Harvard Medical School's Ronald Kessler states that Iraqis seem to have adapted and that's probably true but equally true is that the numbers are lower than one might expect (as Kessler admits) for another reason: the stigma of mental illness and disorders in Iraq.

The e-mail address for this site is

liz sly
dahr jamail