Sunday, April 26, 2009

And the war drags on . . .

In Iraq today, the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement turns out not to have any teeth and Iraqi Christians are targeted again.

But we'll get to those in a bit. Thursday and Friday saw Iraq rocked by bombings and approximately 150 people killed in the big bombings alone. Now this followed an earlier attack on a military base where Iraq stone-walled the press (as did the US military) and the reporters let the story go, there was no real effort (then or since) to find out how many people were injured and how many people died. This time al-Maliki needed a different distraction and someone appears to have seized on the 'bright' idea of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. From Thursday's snapshot:

Ernesto Londono and K.I. Ibrahim (Washington Post) provide context, "The assertion, made by Maj. Gen. Qassim Atta, the spokesman for Iraq's security forces, was startling because many intelligence officials believe Baghdadi is a mythical figure created to give the Sunni insurgent organization an Iraqi face. Iraqi authorities in the past have made similar claims that turned out to be incorrect." The 'capture' may be true and it may, indeed, have taken place today. Then again, it may be an attempt to distract from the large death toll from the two bombings.

Tim Cocks (Reuters) reports, "Iraq's prime minister said on Sunday he could confirm that authorities had arrested Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, an al-Qaeda ally who western officials and security analysts have long suspected does not really exist." The casual observer may say fine. Those paying attention, however, will scour Cocks' report for mention of DNA. DNA entered the picture when al-Maliki's claims were met with skeptiscm last week. At which point Nouri began insisting it was al-Baghdadi and they were testing the DNA. Today al-Maliki says it is al-Baghdadi but forgets to mention the DNA?

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4274 and tonight? 4278. In some of the violence reported over the weekend . . .

Laith Hammudi and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report a Mosul home invasion in which a police officer was shot dead and, dropping back to last night, 2 Iraqi soldiers shot dead in Mosul. Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer, 1 person shot dead outside his Mosul home and 2 brothers shot dead in Mosul.

That was not the only violence. Laith Hammoudi and Hussein Kadhim explain the US raided a home in Kut (Wasit Province) "at dawn," during which two adults -- one male and one female -- were killed by the US military who also made 4 arrests (Iraqi police) or 6 arrests (US military) were made including the arrest of an Iraqi police officer. BBC reports Nouri al-Maliki is claiming Iraqis were not informed and didn't give permission; therefore the raid was illegal and a violation of Iraq's soveriegnty. al-Maliki is calling for those responsible for the two deaths to be turned over to Iraqi officials. Repeating, al-Maliki is calling for US service members to be turned over to Iraqi officials for a trial. We'll come back to that, here's BBC:

The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says it is the most serious dispute between the US and Iraq since the agreement came into force at the start of the year.
One senior local official said the actions had rendered the pact "meaningless".

Imagine that, the treaty "meaningless"? Now who could have seen that coming? (Anyone paying attention.) Reuters reports Kut was the scene of a crow of "hundreds" protesting the deaths today:

As a funeral procession made its way through Kut, carrying the cloth-draped coffins of the two people killed in the raid, protesters shouted angry slogans and demanded the release of the seized men, calling Americans "criminal occupiers."
"We condemn this horrific incident. Innocent people were killed and the city is now very tense," said Latif al-Tarfa, governor of Wasit province.

Here is the US military statement in full on the raid:

Coalition forces arrested six suspected members of the JAM Special Groups and Promise Day Brigade and killed one suspected network criminal early Sunday in Al Kut.
In an operation fully coordinated and approved by the Iraqi government, Coalition forces targeted a network financier, who is also responsible for smuggling weapons into the country to support JAM Special Groups and Promise Day Brigade.
Coalition forces approached a residence believed to be the location of the suspect, as forces approached the residence an individual with a weapon came out of the home. Forces assessed him to be hostile, and they engaged the man, killing him. During the engagement, a woman in the area moved into the line of fire and was also struck by gunfire. A Coalition forces medic treated her on site, but she died of her wounds before she could be evacuated.
Forces apprehended six other JAM Special Groups and Promise Day Brigade associates without incident.
The Government of Iraq has requested the temporary assistance of US forces for the purpose of supporting Iraq in its effort to maintain security and stability, including cooperation in the conduct of operations against terrorist and criminal groups, and remnants of the former regime.

I hate it when pedestrians toss themselves in front of gunfire, don't you? Those people will do anything for attention! Seriously, that's got to be the lamest excuse offered. It is much more likely that two civilians were killed. Two innocents were slaughtered. And let's be real clear that will happen when someone's too chicken s**t to order daytime raids. I'm not talking about the ones on the ground in that raid, I'm talking about the ones who ordered it.

By its very nature, a nighttime raid, when people are sleeping and it is dark, is going to provide the potential for many more deaths. I don't buy the release, I think it's insulting to the Iraqi people and I think the night raids need to be ended immediately. It's as embarrassing as Hillary or Barack having to sneak into the country. The US military can't do a raid during the day? I've never bouth the waves of Operation Happy Talk but after six years on the ground in Iraq, the US military can't do daytime raids? That's really telling.

In terms of al-Maliki and his latest crackpot remarks. Those are crackpot remarks and the puppet's forgetting who pulls the strings. Don't expect him to walk through the December elections with an easy smile. By remaining in the country -- occupying it -- this is Barack's plan because he adopted it and continued it -- and by letting the US installed puppet al-Maliki think he can make certain calls, it was only a matter of time before he'd call for the heads of US soldiers. It's why Barack should have immediately started the withdrawal. After he kissed Nouri's ass last July (and that's what he did, he smacked his lips to Nouri's butt), everyone familiar with the meeting knew that if Barack was sworn in, there would be problems because al-Maliki sees Barack as weak. (And that was evident by the patronizing remarks Nouri was making about helping to 'educate' Barack on the Iraq situation.) So now the madman (George W. Bush) is gone and Nouri thinks he has a pushover to push around. So he's demanding that US soldiers be turned over to him.

That is offensive and it's also stupid. US soldiers involved in that incident did not order themselves to go on a house raid. If Nouri wants to demand justice, he needs to demand the officers who ordered that raid are turned over. It's doubtful he'll do that but he'd love to have two American citizens in his court and use them in some sort of throwback to feeding Christians to the Lions in Rome. That's why the troops needed to leave for their sake. It was important for Iraqis that US troops leave for a number of reasons -- including to take back their country (and take it back from a US installed puppet). But for US troops, the reason they needed to get the hell out was al-Maliki stopped listening near the end of 2006. He has delusions and that's long been noted. The man is paranoid and any doctor would diagnose him as such. That's been obvious for three years. And he sits on billions, which has concerned US officials, that he won't spend. He's not enhancing his own lifestyle to the degree you'd expect for someone sitting on all that money. So why has he been sitting on it? And what's been obvious for over a year now to US diplomatic staff in Iraq is that Nouri's power mad.

That sort-of finally leaks out to a small degree on the front page of the New York Times today where Sam Dagher's "Iraq Resists Please by U.S. To Placate Hussein's Party" runs. You learn that the US and England visited Jordan earlier this month in an attempt to convince "Saddam Hussein's top generals" to return to Iraq (and this followed the officials attending a year's worth of meetings between these exiles and reps from Nouri's government). Not for prosecution. To help stabalize the country. They refused. They don't trust Nouri and they don't trust him because of his actions and his many public statements. Dagher notes:

On March 28, Mr. Maliki's Shiite-led government arrested a prominent Sunni leader on charges of heading a secret armed wing of Mr. Hussein’s Baath Party. A week later, the prime minister accused Baathists of orchestrating car bombings that killed more than 40 people. On Monday, he lashed out again, saying the Baath Party was "filled with hate from head to toe."

That's why it's a sort-of. al-Maliki's been making statements (and taking actions) for months and months. Dropping back to March only is a sort-of. It's no one's fault but the US government. They installed the corrupt al-Maliki knowing he was corrupt but they thought they could control him. The de-de-Baathification? That became a 'benchmark'. And so what?

What was the point of those 'benchmarks'? They were supposed to allow progress claims to be evaluated. And they were supposed to prevent blood and money being tossed at a puppet government which did nothing. But Nouri didn't do a damn thing. None of the benchmarks took place in 2007. The year they were supposed to. (The provincial elections 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces held in January were supposed to take place in 2007, for example.) There was no effort by the US Congress -- don't just blame Bush here -- to say, "These benchmarks aren't being met. The deal was, Iraqi did A, B, C, D, E . . . and we continued the funding. We are cutting off the funding." That never happened and Nouri signed off on these benchmarks.

He signed off on them and then he blew them off.

Now Nouri, who loves his show trials, is calling for the heads of US soldiers? That's why the minute Barack was sworn in, he should have done what he promised on the campaign trail, moved to immediately begin withdrawal. He didn't. And now the US troops will not only have to deal with the chaos and violence they had to in 2008, they're also now going to have to know that any mission their commanders send them on could get them tossed in an Iraqi prison.

That was one of the areas of concern with violence reported today. Another is the continued assualt on Iraqi Christians. Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) reports Kirkuk was the location where 2 women were "murdered in their home" tonight (their throats were slit) and the location where a father and three sons were shot in their home. All attacked were Christians. AFP says the father, Yussef Shaba, was shot dead and two sons (Bassel and Samer) were left injured and they identify the mother in the first attack as Mouna Latif Daoud and the other woman as her (unnamed) daughter.

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Isaiah's latest goes up after this. Pru notes "Obama and the CIA 'mistakes'" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

On a visit to CIA headquarters, President Barack Obama stated it was time to admit “mistakes” and “move forward” – by promising CIA agents would not face legal action over their involvement in torture and adding “you should be proud to be members of the CIA”.
This followed his decision to release memos detailing CIA torture that were requested under freedom of information legislation.
The memos revealed, among other things, that two people were subjected to a form of near-drowning, known as waterboarding, a total of 266 times.
The CIA defended waterboarding, claiming it was only used for two two-hour sessions a day. In each session detainees suffered effective drowning six times for between 10 and 40 seconds.
The CIA interrogation programme, which former president George Bush ruled lawful, also included slamming prisoners into walls, shackling them in uncomfortable positions and sleep deprivation.
Despite Obama’s pledge, pressure is growing for legal action against those who both authorised and carried out torture.
© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.
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sam dagher
laith hammoudi
mcclatchy newspapers