Monday, August 10, 2009

At least 48 dead in Iraq, 231 wounded

July 28th there was a bank heist resulting in the death of at least 8 guards and, it turned out, the robbers were guards for Iraq's Shi'ite vice president. What's taken place since have been efforts to appease thug v.p. Adel Abdul-Mahdi. The Iraqi police has had to negotiate the story with Adel and that includes frequently lying in print that it was the 'tremendous' help of Adel which allowed the bank robbers to be caught. (An improvement over Adel's original demand which was the press lie that only one of his guards were involved in the robbery.) Iraqi journalist Ahmad Abdul Hussein published an article entitled "8000 blankets" in Al Sabah which dealt with allegations about the robbery and deal with bribery during the January provincial elections and that the lawsuit could have been to raise cash to influence the elections scheduled for January 2010 -- a lawsuit is now filed against the paper. Alsumaria reports a demonstration is scheduled this Friday in Baghdad "in defense of press freedom which was most damaged by the aftereffects of Rafidain's Bank heist in Al Karrada. The protest is due on Friday at 10:30 in the morning in Al Mutannabi Street carried out by the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory in cooperation with other parties to respond to Jalal Eddin Saghir, a leader in Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council who called in his Friday sermon to sue Al Sabah Newspaper on account of the “8000 blankets” article." Ammar Karim (AFP) reports that Al Sabah editorialized on the matter yesterday with a call for people such as Grand Ayatollah Ali Husseini to step in and defuse the remarks of Jalal Eddin Saghir, a member of the v.p.'s political party: "The language that Saghir used was full of insults and incitements against Al-Sabah newspaper, its editors and one of its reporters. This is not how Islamic discourse should be."

Violence has gathered the US and international press' attention. We'll move to it but we open with the attacks on the press because they are not being reported and they are as important and they are starting to intimidate the few western reporters in Iraq. Mosul, remember when no one paid attention to that and we were talking, this time last year, about how it was the emerging hot spot? Today's violence is in the village Khazan which is to the eat of Mosul and it's in Baghdad. Laith Hammoudi and Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) report, "Early morning bombings Monday in Baghdad and Mosul killed at least 48 people and injured 231, the third large-scale attack on civilians in the past 10 days." The Telegraph of London counts 25 dead and seventy injured in the bombing outside of Mosul which also destroyed thirty-five homes. The Times of London notes the bombings were truck bombings while, in Baghdad, car bombings were utilized. In addition, Reuters notes 6 Baghdad roadside bombings today resulting in 4 deaths and sixty-eight injured and a police officer shot dead in Mosul.

We're about to highlight two things and, honestly, I'm less hesitant about highlighting the Washington Times than the first 'outlet.' Rosa Brooks is a joke and she no longer contributes to Democracy Arsenal because Crazy Babsie's daughter now works for Barack where she has floated the proposal that the US register all reporters. Yes, that whole family is crazy, yes, that whole family is trash. By the way, I'm thinking we may need to note Babsie's ever changing hair styles since a friend reminded me of how she goes to town on Hillary. Of course, Hillary's hairstyles usually are an improvement while Babsie still looks like the sewer dweller she is regardless of what she does with that dried out, badly dyed hair. (Honestly, Babsie, is there no conditioner or hot oil treatment available in the underground?) So with that, here's the opening of Michael Cohen's "Metrics, I Don't Need Your Stinking Metrics" (Democracy Arsenal):

Over at the New York Times we have a good example of how the new American Way of War (COIN) mantra has infected public discourse on Afghanistan:

But as the Bush administration learned the hard way in Iraq, poorly designed measurements can become misleading indicators -- and can create a false sense of progress. That is especially difficult in a war like the one in Afghanistan, in which eliminating corruption, promoting a working democracy and providing effective aid is as critical as scoring military success against insurgents and terrorists.

To the first point, the Bush administration created measurements for judging success in Iraq (18 in all) and then made lowering civilian casualties the most important one -- even though it wasn't one of the original 18. So to be clear the individuals who created a false sense of progress were the ones who were pushing different benchmarks then those generally agreed upon. And it's still happening today: the surge in Iraq is constantly portrayed as a success even though its founding element -- political reconciliation -- has not been achieved.

In a sense this is a big problem with using metrics to define progress in war time - they can either represent false indicators of success (see Vietnam War and body counts) or they can be changed to fit a particular political and military narrative (see Iraq War and surge success). Or they can cloud over the fact that the underlying mission is fundamentally flawed, not in the national interest or due to resource and political constraints not achievable.

If Cohen wants to explore the reality of COIN -- an attack on civilians -- we'll be happy to highlight the outlet again. Otherwise, that's a one time only. Eli Lake (Washington Times) reports on a study to be released today by the National Defense University and written by Najim Abed al-Jabouri (COIN connection, by the way) which will argue:

U.S. efforts to rebuild the [Iraqi security forces] have focused on much needed training and equipment, but have neglected the greatest challenge facing the forces' ability to maintain security upon U.S. withdrawal: an ISF politicized by ethno-sectarian parties.
These ties pose the largest obstacle to the ISF in its quest to become genuinely professional and truly national in character. A professional military force holds the best prospect of gaining and keeping the trust of the people, but a force riven with destructive sectarian and ethnic loyalties is a recipe for civil war."

The thrust of the paper is that ISF is being used as militias by various government figures to fight out sectarian wars and turf battles. Meanwhile Chris Johnson and Lou Chibbarro Jr. (Washington Blade) report on a fundraiser for Iraq's LGBT community which became the staging area for a number of allegations:

A fundraising event to benefit an LGBT community center in Lebanon last week took a surprise turn when stunned audience members were shown graphic photographs of beheaded corpses and images purportedly depicting U.S. soldiers preparing to execute gay Iraqis.
Two gay Iraqi refugees, who declined to use their real names, delivered a presentation at the Human Rights Campaign headquarters July 24 in which they detailed alleged abuses of fellow gay Iraqis while calling on their audience to donate funds to Helem, a Lebanon-based center that works to address the plight of LGBT people in the Middle East.
One of the Iraqis, who goes by the name "Hussam," showed the audience of about 80 people gruesome images, including shots allegedly of a beheaded man who was gay and another of the victim’s twin brother grieving over the severed head.
While asserting that anti-gay violence in Iraq is often committed by Iraqis, Hussam also said U.S. service members were involved in anti-gay hostility. For example, he said service members displayed signs in front of their barracks with the words "F**k Off F**s."
But the reaction from the audience turned from anger to shock when Hussam said U.S. service members had detained Iraqi civilians perceived to be gay and executed them.

Bonnie notes Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Telemarketer in Chief" went up last night.
Law and Disorder begins broadcasting in a bit on WBAI, today's show features Heidi Boghosian speaking about animal rights (others as well but Heidi's popular in the community so that's your heads up) and the first segment features Conn Hallinan apologizing for Barack -- note, he's the one. Not the Michaels who give him plenty of room to make a statement of strength and, instead, little Connie whimpers about his hopes and his disappointment and how he just knows, just knows, just knows, if he could get into the White House and just speak to Barack, he could make it right. Connie, the behavior describing? The legal term for it is "stalker." Grow the hell up. (That begins broadcasting on WBAI at ten a.m. EST.)

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