Saturday, September 05, 2009

Adam Ashton says the US wanted to 'fix' Iraq

I know why we stayed; I don't know why we came.
It's never going to be worthwhile, just less bad.
Those are the two conclusions I've reached in my four months in Iraq in the past year. I know they're not original, but they're mine and I've been getting to them along with you ever since we watched "shock and awe" rock Baghdad on our televisions in March 2003.

We stayed because we broke Iraq. We owed it to Iraqis to fill the vacuum and restore stability.

That's McClatchy's Adam Ashton, back in the US, writing in "Reporter reflects on Iraq: Fixing what we broke" (Modesto Bee) and playing like he can make sense of it all. A tornado rolled through and his house wasn't hit so Adam rationalizes to assuge guilt? That's what it reads like. Ashton's a solid reporter but what a load of crap. "I don't know why we came" -- but "I know why we stayed."

No, you don't. The US did not stay in Iraq "because we broke Iraq." That's the biggest load of bulls**t in the world. "I don't know why we came."

That's actually true. We know the Bush administration lied to start the illegal war and we all have hunches as to why that is, but we don't KNOW why that is. By the same token, Ashton doesn't KNOW why the US stayed but he offers a bulls**t excuse, one we rejected years ago. (See "Should This Marriage Be Saved?" from December 2004.)

It takes a lot of stupidity (willful stupidity) to believe that the US remained in Iraq to help. With all the reconstruction scandals? With no potable water? With electricity shortages?

When was the US 'fixing' Iraq?

It was trying to fix the laws in order to justify the theft of Iraqi oil. It remains focused on that and Barack's even referred to the 'need' for these laws publicly.

Adam Ashton's too smart to play dumb. He embarrasses himself when he tried to cast himself as Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday.

Tim Cocks, Shamal Aqrawi and Michael Christie (Reuters) report tensions in Nineveh Province as Mayor Barzan Said Kaka (who is Kurdish) declares "independence from the largely Arab-run council" in the province while offering a list of allegations against the council including violent crimes and claims that they aren't concerned at all with Kurds. The reporters note that the province's governor, Atheel al-Nujaifi, has made repeated statements against the Kurds and that he "has so upset mayors in 16 Kurdish areas that they're threatening to secede."

Staying with the Kurdish focus, Azad Aslan (Kurdish Globe) reports that Barham Salih, who recently resigned as deputy prime minister of the central government (under Nouri al-Maliki) is expected to "start negotiations to form the next Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)." Today the Kurdish Globe reports on the KRG's reaction to Nouri's announcement that the long-promised census will not, in fact, take place this year:

"The KRG is concerned that the decree has been issued. The census process is a national right for all Iraq, including Kurdistan Region. By holding the census, all of us would have benefited from the great information that would have been gained," said Osman Shwani, KRG Minister of Planning. Shwani explained that the delay had political backgrounds. The decree came during a meeting of the Iraqi Council of Ministers, according to a statement published by government spokesman Ali al-Dabagh on Thursday. Al-Dabagh stated that the Council of the Ministers agreed to postpone the census until October 2010 as reply to "social changes" in provinces of dispute.

Ako Muhammed (Kurdish Globe) reports that Kamal Kirkuki (Speaker of KRG Parliament) is calling out the United Nations' inept and unfocused 'help' offered in the last years. It's noted that Staffan de Mistura did very little as the UN rep in Iraq. The article notes:

UN involvement came as Baghdad halted fulfilling constitutional Article 140, which calls for returning displaced families home in the disputed areas, deporting brought-in people from those areas, and allowing the original people of those places to decide in a referendum whether to be governed by the Kurdistan Regional Government or directly by the federal government. "We insist on the resolution of this issue in accordance with the implementation of Article 140 of the Constitution, because we do not want to see our people go through hardships and tragedies again." [KRG President Massoud] Barzani also assured of their readiness to cooperate with the UN, "but this issue concerns a whole nation and we will not make any concessions on this issue in any way whatsoever.

Meanwhile an editorial wonders, pay attention Adam Ashton, if Iraq's already returning to the Saddam era? From "Iraq's freedoms under threat: Could a police state return?" (The Economist):

Old habits from Saddam Hussein’s era are becoming familiar again. Torture is routine in government detention centres. “Things are bad and getting worse, even by regional standards,” says Samer Muscati, who works for Human Rights Watch, a New York-based lobby. His outfit reports that, with American oversight gone (albeit that the Americans committed their own shameful abuses in such places as Abu Ghraib prison), Iraqi police and security people are again pulling out fingernails and beating detainees, even those who have already made confessions. A limping former prison inmate tells how he realised, after a bout of torture in a government ministry that lasted for five days, that he had been relatively lucky. When he was reunited with fellow prisoners, he said he saw that many had lost limbs and organs.
The domestic-security apparatus is at its busiest since Saddam was overthrown six years ago, especially in the capital. In July the Baghdad police reimposed a nightly curfew, making it easier for the police, taking orders from politicians, to arrest people disliked by the Shia-led government. In particular, they have been targeting leaders of the Awakening Councils, groups of Sunnis, many of them former insurgents and sympathisers, who have helped the government to drive out or capture Sunni rebels who refused to come onside. Instead of being drawn into the new power set-up, many of them in the past few months have been hauled off to prison. In the most delicate cases, the arrests are being made by an elite unit called the Baghdad Brigade, also known as “the dirty squad”, which is said to report to the office of the prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki.
The American-sponsored judicial system was supposed to protect Iraqis’ civil rights. But it is sorely overstretched, with some 1,500 people being brought into prisons every month as the Americans empty their own Iraqi jails. The number of Iraqis in American-run prisons has dropped to less than 9,000 from more than 21,000 a year ago, whereas the number in Iraq’s own jails has risen from 35,000 in February probably to more than 40,000 today.
Moreover, sentencing is getting harsher, with more people sentenced to death. On a single day in June 19 people were hanged in Baghdad. In a recent report Amnesty International, a British-based group, says that more than 1,000 Iraqis face execution, often on the basis of confessions, which, it says, are sometimes made under torture.

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