Saturday, August 01, 2009

The very busy week in Iraq

In the week when the last British troops were ignominiously ordered out of the country by the Iraqi parliament, remarkably little attention was paid to the very nasty scenes unfolding further north. Iraqi government forces launched a brutal assault on thousands of unarmed civilians in Camp Ashfraf, a "safe haven" for 23 years to thousands of Iranian refugees belonging to the People's Mujahideen of Iran (PMOI), part of the main Iranian opposition in exile, the National Council of Resistance in Iran.

The above is from Christopher Brooker's "The news from Iraq: all quiet on the northern front" (Telegraph of London) and a great deal has happened in Iraq since Sunday -- much more than most outlets covered even as 'highlights' or 'headlines.' The assault on Camp Ashraf, the British forced out (though, as usual, some remain), Australia's forces are all out, a memo by a US colonel says the US needs to leave (Robert Burns covers that here for AP), Nouri has continued to whine that he can't pay the monies owed to Kuwait and Ban Ki-Moon (UN Secretary-General) has urged both sides to get 'creative,' 29 people were killed yesterday in bombing attacks on Baghdad mosques, the inquiry into the Iraq War began in England, and that's not even all the major events.

And the war drags on. Now Nouri whines that he can't pay General Electric. In the US, if you tell GE you can't pay your bill, they turn off you electricity. Maybe it's time for something similar to happen to Nouri? He is, of course, blaming Parliament. Today, Nandini Sukumar (Bloomberg News) notes that three Americans --Shane Bower, Sara Short and Joshua Steel -- supposedly ended up in Iran, supposedly accidentally -- while visiting Iraq. Reasons for said visit aren't given but they apparently arrived on Thursday. McClatchy notes press reports from Iran stating the three have been arrested.

In today's violence, Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed assault on a Mosul checkpoint which claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier.

McClatchy's Adam Ashton returned to Iraq just before the KRG held elections (which were just last Saturday but seem so very long ago). This is from his "Iraq Connection: Dinner and democracy discussions with Kurds" (Modesto Bee):

Politicians opened their doors when I visited without notice. Shopkeepers were eager to chat about their economy.
Kurds kept asking me what I thought about their election. I'd tell them it appeared fair to me, and I enjoyed seeing their heartfelt debates about their political parties.
Still, it was troubling that so many people felt their opportunities in life would be capped without pledging allegiance to one of the dominant parties, the Kurdish Democratic Party or the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.
It could be left over from last Saturday's election, but Kurdish President Massoud Barzani seems to stare out from most buildings. His father was a famed guerrilla leader whose portrait hangs inside many government offices. Barzani's face is pasted to shop windows and his images dangles from key chains in Irbil's taxis.
Some of the people with those images tell me they keep them just to avoid suspicion from the government.
Some say the dominant parties dole out jobs and cash to keep people on their side.
A priest asked me if that's the way democracy works in America. I said, "That's the way it did at one point."

At one point, Adam? Can we get a head count on the number of 'journalists' from supposedly non-partisan outlets who have left to work for the White House?

That is among the most disgusting things about today's US press climate and it's one that no one will call out. In a few years, when a Republican is in the White House, Norman Solomon and others will (again) show up to decry the 'revolving door' but while it's a Democrat, they won't say a damn word. They won't even call out trashy Rosa Brooks (Satan Spawn of her mother) pushing a registration for US journalists. They won't say a damn word.

But, in four years or eight or twelve, when a Republican's in the White House, they'll show up to screech and scream. And they'll wonder why no one takes them seriously?

The reason no one takes you pathetic beggars seriously is because you only care about ethics when Republicans are in power. It's a situational ethics and you disgrace and embarrass yourselves.

You have no ethics. If you did, you'd grasp that wrong is wrong. It doesn't matter what party does it, if it's wrong, it's wrong.

What followed was a lengthy section that I'm pulling at Jim's request. He thinks we can use it at Third in this week's editorial and anything that let's us get done earlier at Third is something I'm all in favor of.

Reuters notes, "The fugitive leader of Saddam Hussein's Baath party called on Saturday for Iraqi insurgent groups to move into politics, suggesting a possible shift away from armed struggle." Christopher Leake (Daily Mail) explains, "The death of weapons expert Dr David Kelly is expected to feature in the new official inquiry into the Iraq War, on the advice of the Government’s most senior legal adviser."

Susan e-mailed asking about music? Third may have a music feature. Those of us on the road this week (Kat, Ava, Wally and myself) have been tossing around an idea we're going to pitch. In addition, Kat's going to try for a music review here this weekend.

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