Sunday, September 06, 2009

And the war drags on . . .

"Iraqis are still dealing with lingering ethnosectarian histories, Arab-Kurd tensions, and violent extremist groups such as al Qaeda and other external actors who seek to exploit any fissures. The Iraqis are still deterrmining the nature of their federal state and the balance of powers between the central and provincial govenrments. [. . .] I see Arab-Kurd tensions as the greatest single driver of instability in Iraq -- and it does complicate the security situation in the north to an extent. While our combined operations have degraded al Qaeda, there is still a presence in the north, and those cells work to exploit tensions between the ISF and the Kurdish peshmerga and police forces," the top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno, tells Joint Forces Quarterly (PDF format warning, click here). Today Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) notes Odierno's desire to slow the draw-down planned (for "combat" troops) through next August and she observes, "If that does not happen, Obama may be faced with the choice of whether to leave one unpopular war unfinished in order to escalate another that is rapidly losing public support."

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 4336 and tonight? 4338. Violence continued today.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured five people, a Baghdad car bombing which injured six, a second Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded four people and two Baquba roadside bombings which injured "four explosive experts". Reuters drops back to Saturday to note a Baghdad car bombing that injured five people (three were Iraqi soldiers).


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an attacks on 2 Mosul police checkpoint which claimed the lives of 2 police officers, an attack on a Mosul army checkpoint which claimed the life of 1 Iraqi service member and a Mosul home invasion that killed a police officer (it was his house) and his daughter. Reuters notes another Mosul home invasion in which 1 woman and "her 3-year-old grandchild" were shot dead.

Meanwhile Nouri al-Maliki attempts to create an international crisis as he goes after Syria with accusations that they harbor the two masterminds behind Black Wednesday's bombings. Ned Parker and Caesar Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) report Nouri continues to air 'confessions':

Two confessions have been shown on state television and a third was aired at a news conference. The first confession was of an Iraqi arrested for the Aug. 19 attack, who blamed Baath Party leaders in Syria for planning the attack. The other confessions have shown foreign fighters recounting their alleged travels through Syria. There is no way to verify whether the taped remarks were genuine or staged. But they mark a concerted effort to blame Syria in part for recent security breaches.

They provide the transcript to one 'confession' and that's reporting. I don't question their right to do so. However, we're not quoting from it. The current 'government' of Iraq has already notched up a bulky history of torturing people for 'confessions' and I will not knowingly allow the possible work-product of torture to go up here. Meanwhile Adam Ashton reports on the PKK for McClatchy Newspapers. In doing so, he may be the first reporter for a western outlet to visit them since Deborah Haynes (Times of London) did. Haynes report of the visit was published as denials were being made by the KRG of even knowing where the PKK was in the region. After Haynes' report was published, reporters were 'encouraged' not to visit the PKK's camp again. From Ashton's report:

Interviewed in their camps in the Qandil Mountains, a historic retreat for Kurdish independence movements since the 1960s, PJAK leaders are defiant.
"Sometimes we've been asked to disarm, but we don't take those requests into consideration," said Agir Shaho, 31, a PJAK commander and member of the organization's seven-person board of coordinators, flanked by armed guards. "If we do what they're asking, we won't have freedom."
The group says it's killed hundreds of Iranian police and soldiers since 2004 in raids on their outposts. Inside Iraq, Shaho and several hundred PJAK fighters find cover in stone houses topped with plastic tarps and disguised with dead tree branches. They move across the border on foot, and grow their own food in irrigated gardens.
PJAK is an offshoot of the larger and better-funded Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which has fought in Turkey -- often finding sanctuary in northern Iraq -- since the 1980s in clashes that have killed tens of thousands of people. They share the objective of establishing Kurdish autonomy in a region that covers parts of Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran.

New content at Third:

Truest statement of the week
Truest statement of the week II
A note to our readers
Editorial: Accountability
TV: Ugly wallpaper
War Criminal sentenced to life with no parole
From the CrackPot 'mind' of Jerry Merryitt
US imprisons reporter
Idiot of the week

Isaiah's latest goes up after this. Pru notes the following from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

This article should be read after: » Outbreak of the Second World War: Who were the ‘guilty men’?
Stalin’s unholy alliance with Hitler
by Chris Bambery
When German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop arrived in Moscow in August 1939 to meet his Russian counterpart, Russian dictator Joseph Stalin turned out to greet him.
As the date of Hitler’s attack on Poland approached, the Germans rushed to convince the Russian government of the benefits of a non-aggression pact between the two states – a secret agreement partitioning Poland, granting the Baltic States to Russia and offering Russia generous trade arrangements.
When the agreement was finalised Stalin invited Ribbentrop to celebrate. The Soviet dictator toasted Hitler, Ribbentrop toasted Stalin.
On 17 September, shortly before Poland surrendered to Germany, the Russian army invaded from the east.
After Poland surrendered, Stalin and Hitler issued a joint statement calling for Britain and France to accept the new order and make peace, stating, “If, however, these efforts of both governments remain unsuccessful, it will be established thereby that England and France bear the responsibility for the continuation of the war.”
In December 1939 Stalin assured Hitler that the alliance between Russia and Germany was “cemented in blood”.
Attacks on fascism ceased to appear in the Russian press and the world’s Communist parties switched from supporting a “people’s war against fascism” to opposing “imperialist war” in the wake the pact.
Eight hundred exiled German communists were transferred across the Soviet border into the welcoming hands of Third Reich’s Gestapo.
Stalin could point to the refusal of the British and French to seal a pact against Hitler but his priority was not fighting fascism but establishing control of Eastern Europe in order to create a buffer zone between Russia and Germany.
Stalin was prepared to trade with anyone to obtain that.
The subsequent argument deployed by the Kremlin to justify the Hitler-Stalin Pact was that Russia bought vital time to prepare its defences.
Yet until Germany attacked Russia in June 1941, Stalin refused to countenance that the Führer would break his word. It was Hitler who bought time. With his eastern frontier secure, he was free to attack westwards into France.
The supplies flowing from the Soviet Union to the Third Reich were vital to Hitler’s ability to wage war. They kept flowing until German troops invaded Russia.
Because Stalin trusted Hitler he prevented any preparations for that attack. Hitler’s onslaught almost destroyed Stalin’s regime.
The realisation that Hitler was intent on bringing down genocide on the Russian people ensured resistance stopped the Germans just short of Moscow.
The following should be read alongside this article: »
Outbreak of the Second World War: Who were the ‘guilty men’?
[updated to correct error in dates]
© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.
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