Monday, October 19, 2009

Iraq snapshot

Monday, October 19, 2009.  Chaos and violence, the US military announces another death, bridge bombings continued over the weekend, Nouri visits the US, there is still no election law for the 'intended' elections to be held in Iraq in January, and more.
Today the US military announced: "CONTINGENY OPERATION BASE SPEICHER, TIKRIT, Iraq -- a Multi-National Division - North Soldier was killed and two were injured in a vehicle accident approximately five miles west of Mosul, Iraq, Oct. 18. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense.  The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website [. . .]. The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." The announcement brings to 4350 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.
As always, violence continued in Iraq today.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad diner bombing claimed 1 life and left ten people injured, a Baghdad bus bombing claimed 1 life and left eight people injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing wounded three people, a Diyala Province roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 person, a Faulluja suicide bombing claimed the life of the bomber and the lives of 2 police officers (four more injured) while there were two assassination attempts by bombings: In Kirkuk, Qais Amer Naji, Head of Criminal Investigation Bureau, survived a sticky bombing and, in Salahuddin Province, Abdulrahman Khalid (District Commissioner) was targeted with an assassination attempt via bombing but survived. Reuters notes a Mosul mortar attack which resulted in four people being injured, a Mosul car bombing claimed the life of "a former army officer, who heads a small political party" and a Garma car bombing which left four police officers injured.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the Head of the Bureau of Tribal Affairs Thenoon Younis was assassinated in Mosul today and two by-standers were injured.  Reuters notes 1 person shot dead in Mosul.
Still with the violence, Friday Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported "a pontoon bridge in Ameriyah" was blown up leaving the "area which is now completely isolated." As noted in Friday's snapshot, "Those who remember the 2006 bridge bombings and the violence that followed, should take into account that this could be step-one of a multi-violence attack that follows." The bridge bombings are back. Uthman al-Mokhtar (Washington Post) reported Saturday, "Insurgents detonated a truck loaded with five tons of explosives Saturday on a bridge here that links western Iraq to Jordan and Syria, pulverizing part of the overpass and paralyzing traffic for hours. Another, smaller bridge was also destroyed in Fallujah, where a roadside bomb struck an Iraqi military patrol on the highway, killing four soldiers and wounding 14 others, said Sulaiman al-Dulaimi, a spokesman for the Fallujah General Hospital." Iran's Press TV notes, "'A truck was driven over the bridge on a highway in Ramadi at around 4:00 am (0100 GMT) and subsequently exploded,' police Major Imad Abboud told AFP, adding that the highway is used heavily by the departing US military to transport equipment out of the country. It is also being used by local civilians."
Meanwhile Thomas Grove, Shamal Aqrawi and Janet Lawrence (Reuters) report that today eight members of the PKK would cross the border into Turkey (from Iraq) and turn themselves over "to Turkish military forces [. . .] in a gesture of support for Turkey's Kurdish initiative". AP says it is 34 turning themselves over but only 8 of the 34 "are rebels". Hurriyet Daily News reports this took place at 4:00 pm: "The group comprised 26 people, including nine women and four children, from the Mahmur camp in northern Iraq and eight PKK members from the Kandil Mountains. The group is coming 'not to surrender but to open the way for peace,' DTP co-leader Ahmet Türk said earlier Monday at a press conference in Silopi, on the Turkish side of the border. NTV television reported that they would be taken in by Turkish authorities for questioning once they're in the country."  BBC News adds, "As Kurdish Turks gathered in Istanbul, thousands of supporters waving PKK flags were waiting in Silopi to greet the 34 Kurds as they crossed the border. Some had come from a refugee camp in Makhmour, south of Mosul in Iraq." Deutsche Welle quotes Turkish government spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin Allen stating, "It is a very good sign, it is one first fruit of the democratic initiative."
Last Tuesday's snapshot included the news that England was attempting to forcibly deport Iraqis back to Iraq. Over the weekend,  BBC reported that approximately 30 refugees are "being refused re-entry to Iraqi" allowing the UK to 'only' unload ten of them Thursday. Even so, the inhumane UK Border Agency announces it will be sending even more back. Coalition illegal war of choice partner Italy's Aire Italy provided the flight to Baghdad.  Rod Nordland and John F. Burns (New York Times) numbered the forced deported at 50 with Iraq only accepting 9 of them. Amnesty International's London office issued "Asylum removals to Iraq put lives in danger, says Amnesty:"

Reacting to news reports that a plane carrying refused Iraqi asylum-seekers from the UK arrived in Baghdad yesterday (15 October), Amnesty International stressed that removals to southern and central Iraq are not safe and should not take place.
An Amnesty International spokesperson said:               
'Given the reports of killings, bombings and other human rights abuses that continue to come out of Baghdad, it is hard to comprehend that the UK government considers it a safe place to return people.          
'As far as we are concerned, removing someone to Baghdad, or elsewhere in central or southern Iraq, is likely to put their life in danger. Amnesty is opposed to all forcible returns to southern and central Iraq.                      
'Until the situation improves and it is safe to return to Iraq, these people should be offered some form of protection in the UK.'            
Reports have stated that the plane carrying the refused Iraqi asylum-seekers was turned around upon arrival and returned to the UK with the people still on board.
Owen Bowcott and Alan Travis (Guardian) report the Iternational Federation of Iraqi Refugees state it was one "Iraqi army officer" who allowed the others on board the plane not to depart and that he told them, "Those of you who want to come back, you get off, the rest stay where you are." Richard Ford and Mary Bowers (Times of London) observe, "The [UK] Home Office refused to give any explanation for the debacle at Baghdad, referring all inquiries to the Iraqi Government. A Home Office spokesman said: 'We are not giving a running commentary on this'." Those who returned?   Last night, Owen Bowcott reported that they they are reporting "they were beaten by British security guards and that no Arabic translator accompanied them.  Refugee Kawa Ali Azada tells Bowcott:
It was like a kidnapping. We had no food for 12 hours. We were kept out of sight at the airport then put on an Italian charter flight. We we arrived in Baghdad, there was an Iraqi officer with sunglasses and eagle decorations on his shoulders. [The British immigration official] started to talk to him but his English was not good so I went to help translate. The British officials didn't have an Arabic translator. [The airport commander] said he had received a message from his boss there was an Italian flight but was never told it was transporting deported Iraqis -- otherwise he would not have let it land. He said to the immigration official he had two hours to refuel the plane and leave or he would take further action. He would not take responsibility for the Iraqis because of the danger of kidnapping and bombs. The immigration officer asked what 'further action' meant and he said would burn the plane with all the people on board if it didn't leave."
Traveling this week is Nouri al-Maliki. But first he had to grandstand.  Alsumaria reports that US-installed thug of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki spent Saturday bloviating and puffing his chest about how the 'evil-doers' would be brought to 'justice' as he appeared at Baghdad's Al Rashid Hotel to grand stand on the two month anniversary of Black Wednesday or Bloody Wednesday or Gory Wednesday. That was August 19th and yesterday was August 17th but apparently a photo-op was needed for Nouri. Try to remember a two-month 'anniversary' 9-11 photo-op by Bully Boy Bush. There wasn't one. But Nouri's damn determined to milk Black Wednesday for all it's worth. As he grand stands on a pile of corpses, remember the US installed him in 2006 and US forces have been trapped in Iraq attempting to prop up the exile's illegitimate regime. That was Saturday.  Now Nouri's on the move. 
At the US State Dept today, spokesperson Ian Kelly noted, "First of all, you've seen that the Secretary [of State Hillary Clinton] has a meeting with Prime Minister Maliki. That's in about 40 minutes. There'll be a camera spray before the meeting and then I expect the Secretary will make some brief remarks as well.  There will be, of course, a discussion of bilateral issues, but I think one of the more important items on the agenda for the meeting will be tomorrow's US-Iraq business and investment conference. This conference we see as a stepping stone to greater private sector involvement and investment in the Iraqi economy. And, of course, we have had very intensive government-to-government relations, but we think that the next step is greater involvement of the private sector. So this conference is intended to encourage business-to-business connections and partner our respective business communities."
At the US State Dept, Hillary and al-Maliki greeted reporters (click here for text and video)
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: Today, the prime minister and I discussed a range of issues, and we agreed to establish a diplomatic joint coordinating committee under the Strategic Framework Agreement. In that committee, we will discuss all Chapter 7 issues that need to be resolved. Tomorrow's U.S-Iraq Business and Investment Conference will be a very important priority for both of us. By bringing together business and government leaders from both countries, we hope to pave the way for greater international investment in Iraq and closer economic ties between us. As Iraq emerges from conflict, the stability that is occurring will drive greater prosperity, which will help create a lasting peace and bring jobs that will lift families' income and give Iraqis a greater opportunity to chart their own futures. I want to thank Prime Minister Maliki and the other Iraqi leaders who are here today for their leadership on this important conference and the issue, and I want to express our pleasure at seeing the recent amendments to Iraq's national investment law. We also discussed the upcoming national elections which are critical to Iraq's future. Obviously, we are supporting the efforts to ensure that the elections are credible and legitimate, and that a new government is formed in a timely way to continue the peaceful stability and economic growth that is so important. And finally, Mr. Prime Minister, I really salute the Iraqi people. They have withstood the challenges of sectarianism, violence, and terrorism. They have made tremendous sacrifices and have achieved the right for a secure and peaceful future of progress and prosperity. The United States remains committed to Iraq and the people of Iraq.

Installed Thug Nouri al-Maliki: In the name of God, peace be upon you. In this occasion, I take the opportunity to express my happiness and pleasure to be here inaugurating the investment conference between Iraq and America. We have met Mrs. Clinton, the Secretary of State, and it was the second meeting with Mrs. Clinton. The first one was in July this year. We had talks, and our talks, in fact, concentrated on the importance of activating the strategic agreement -- framework agreement between Iraq and America.  This conference, which will be held tomorrow, and the strategic agreement between Iraq and America means that the relationship between Iraq are no more on the militant level. In fact, it moved to the economic level and other horizons. Iraq, in fact, attempts to inaugurate an extensive and comprehensive investment process, especially after the stability achieved in the country. In addition, and besides the task of reconstruction, in fact, Iraq seeks and attempts to find revenues to find new ways for increasing and promoting its revenues to cover the cost of reconstruction. In fact, we have waited to carry out or to make amendments on the investment laws in Iraq. And this conference is -- will be held after achieving these amendments. The governors and the representative of provincial councils will stay in the United States of America to coordinate and to strengthen the ties and relationships between the Iraqi governors and the American governors. The meeting with Mrs. Clinton, in fact, was fruitful and very important. We have talked and tackled different issues related to Iraq and to different -- to many issues, especially the problem of the Chapter 7. And we, in fact, discussed to get Iraq out of this chapter eventually. In fact, we have the same points of view and we have the same ambitions. And our ambitions for future are sure and as addressed. In fact, this means that we have succeeded in confronting and defeating terrorism, but we have another task, which is creating new opportunities, to create welfare and economic development. The next meeting, I hope it will be in Baghdad. Thank you very much.
Also meeting Nouri was US Vice President Joe Biden.  Xinhua quotes the vice president's office stating, "The Vice president also encouraged the Iraqi Council of Representatives to act expeditiously on an election law that will set the terms for transparent political participation in the upcoming Iraqi national elections."  This is the election law which was supposed to be passed no later than last Thursday.  Needless to say, it was not passed.  It wasnt passed over the weekened either.  Today? Xinhua explains the Parliament decided not to consider the law today but may pick it up tomorrow. Which appears to be Scarlett O'Hara Rules of Order: "Oh fiddle-dee-dee, I'll think about it tomorrow." Who knew Turner Classic Movies (TCM) was so popular in Baghdad?
The Center for American Progress' Lawrence J. Korb (Reagan-ite) is in Iraq, and blogging about it for CAP, and he notes, "A real but often overlooked danger of the upcoming Iraqi election in January 2010 is whether Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will go quietly if his party loses and he does not stay in power. History tells us that only when there is a peaceful transfer of power can a country be considered a democracy."
The latest Inside Iraq (Al Jazeera) began airing Friday and Jasim Azawi spoke with former CIA asset and Iraq's former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi on a number of topics and we'll excerpt a section on the elections.
Jasim Azawi: The former Iraqi interim prime miniters Ayad Allawi has been living in a political wilderness for more than four years but now he's banking on returning to power in the upcoming parliamentary election next January. Yet so far he has failed to build a powerful political bloc to challenge either the coalition headed by his chief nemesis, the current Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki or the Iraqi National Alliance headed by Amar al-Hakim.  Ayad Allawi has few friends in neighboring Iran due to his constant accusations of Iranian interference in Iraq. His critics -- and even some of his supporters -- say his style of rule is authoritarian and it is bound to harm him and his cause.  And now I'm joined from Baghdad by Dr. Ayad Allawi, Iraq's former interim prime minister. Dr. Allawi, welcome to Inside Iraq, let us start with the latest
Ayad Allawi: Thank you.
Jasim Azawi: and that is the Iraqi Parliament has just postponed a vote on a new election bill until Monday and this constant delay and postponement definitely is helping somebody because what is at stake is an open list vis a vis a closed list. To explain to our international viewers, an open list is where a group, they list every single candidate running for office, for parliament. While a closed list -- just like happened in 2005 -- you really don't know who you are voting for. So I'm asking you who is scheming behind this postponement?
Ayad Allawi: In fact this is another failure by the Iraqi Parliament to produce a strategic law that would -- hopefully would be cementing democracy. But unfortunately that's not the case. Likewise, the Parliament has failed in producing a law for the parties -- to say where the funding for these parties are coming from, what they are, who they are, are they national, are they sectarian, are they secular.  So there are no laws -- no laws of election. Indeed, the Iraqi people are disenchanted with the so-called closed list because usually it's either voting for the sect or voting for the -- for the leader of the list.
Jasim Azawi: Who will benefit from this? I understand you are for the open list.
Ayad Allawi:  Yes, absolutely.
Jasim Azawi: Many other politicians are for the open list including the prime minister and he said we will not accept any postponement of the elections under any circumstances. So tell me, if everyone says 'we are with the open list,' who is delaying it?
Ayad Allawi: Well frankly we -- we are -- we have been lobbying for an open list. But it is the government, it is the sectarian forces that have been lobbying in the government --
Jasim Azawi: Are you alluding to the Iraqi National Alliance headed by Amar Hakim?
Ayad Allawi: I am alluding to most of the sectarian groups in the Parliament because they were in control of Parliament -- last Parliament -- in the first elections and they decided that they should go on the closed list not the open list.  And this remains the case until now. Although there are very strong calls and lobbying from other forces in Iraq, that we need to have an open list rather than a closed list.
Jasim Azawi: Since you mention sectarian parties and sectarian blocs, perhaps some of them are affiliated with Iran? One thing I know for sure, over the past several years, you've been attacking Iran for its interferences in Iraq and there is almost like a veto by Iran against you. Is that true? Are you and Iran on the out?
Ayad Allawi: No [. . .], I've always -- I've been calling for a stable region where the trade links and economic links are the predominant feature.  Where there is a kind of security and kind of dialogue between our regional forces. I think this remains a must in the region and there is no way really to go into stability in this region without talking to each other. That's why I personally was behind the first Sharm el-Sheikh [International Conference held in Egypy which included ministers and secretaries from twenty countries as well as then UN Secretary-General Kofia Annan, November 22nd to 24th, 2004] where original forces met under the umbrella of the UN and the presence of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the  Arab League. Unfortunately this conference was not followed through by successive governments who came after me.
Jasim Azawi: We will talk about that and your relationship with the current prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.  But, please, put to the rest -- to put to rest a rumor that it has been circulating as a matter of fact it was mentioned in one of the PanArab newspapers that says Ayad Allawi had a secret trip to Iran to get the green light from Iran's Revolutionary Force to run as the sole candidate for the Iraqi National Alliance.  Is that true? Did you visit Iran secretly?
Ayad Allawi: Wll it is not true, Jasim, because it is very difficult for me to travel secretly. I can't be hiding in a suitcase. I am a known figure. It's difficult to travel. I don't travel alone usually. With a -- with a secretaries, I travel with body guards. So really this is not the case. I haven't been to Iran. I don't have an invitation to go to Iran. And my schedule, in the future, I don't have visit to Iran. So this is all fabrication --
Jasim Azawi: I'm glad we put this to rest, this fabrication at least. The newspaper perhaps will retract this information. Iraqi politicians are at a frenzy to create coalition alliances.
Meanwhile the US Boob to Iraq, Chris Hill is in the news. Mohammed Jamjoom (CNN) reports he told them Friday that the delay in the election law (still not passed -- supposed to have been passed no later than Thursday) was no big deal: "Would we like them [to] kind of get this over with early rather than late? We would, but sometimes in this country there's a tendency to do things at the last minute. So we'll see." If you were supposed to be explaining the need for political movement to the puppet government and you had FAILED you would no doubt make similar statements. The Boob is also reported on by Roy Gutman (McClatchy Newspapers) who reveals that Chris Hill went to Basra and told the business leaders "to project positive energy instead of complaining about all the things that are wrong with Iraq." Deception lessons from the Boob. As for withdrawal, Chris Hill is quoted stating, "as long as your people want us here, we will be here."

Tuesday I was on Anti-war Radio with Scott Horton and Angela Keaton. As an announcement for the show read, "Debra Sweet, Director of World Can't Wait, discusses the post-Obama antiwar movement collapse, the strange confluence of The Feminist Majority and the Bush administration in selling the War in Afghanistan, the laughable notion that the Pentagon can be used to secure human rights, Afghan warlords allied with the Karzai government whose human rights records are no better than the Taliban's and how activists can make their voices heard on antiwar issues."                     


Listen here.  


In an early evening edition of the San Francisco Chronicle Thursday, coverage of the Obama fundraiser there included: "Mike Dean of San Francisco , with the left-wing group World Can't Wait, paid tribute to Obama's Nobel Peace Prize with a huge poster showing the president wearing a medallion inscribed 'Orwell War Is Peace 2009'."            

Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan has a must read column entitled "Hopeless?" and we'll note this from it:

Not only have we collectively marched millions of miles and signed millions of petitions and made millions of phone calls to our elected officials, but many people also put all of their hope eggs in the basket of another war-monger and where has that gotten us? Nowhere except deeper into quagmires and please don't tell me that Obama wants peace when he is a pawn of the Machine that I have been trying so hard to stop.    

Since my son was killed, I have thrown everything I have at the machine. Every penny I have, every ounce of energy, every relationship and even my health have been sacrificed to end the wars and five years later there is very little to show for such a profound investment and the even sadder part is that I am not the only one in the struggle. Multiply these sacrifices by thousands of us and there's a whole lot of heartache for zippity-do-dah.

As evidenced by poor showings at anti-war marches and rallies all over the country since the Democrats came back into power in 2006, I am growing more convinced that very few people care at all about the wars and the killing and those of that do are growing weary and teary.          

Americans care about issues when those issues directly affect Americans. I believe that one thing that will get people out into the streets is a forced military conscription, or draft. But even with the threats of sending tens of thousands of more troops to the war zone, the economy is swelling the ranks of the military and for the first time in six years, recruitment is meeting its quotas. So forced conscription is unnecessary. Obama's "job's plan" turned out to be enlistment in the military. Who knew?

Read the entire thing if you're able.  I think we'll probably try to do something on it at Third on Sunday, Cindy's covering a lot of ground and she's offered the thought piece for the year.  Lastly, community member Dallas, after he read Ava and my TV piece on the faux peace activists mentioned Justin Raimondo, "Code Yellow: The selling-out of the antiwar movement" ( which we'd all missed last week (except for Dallas) so please make a point to check that out and here's a sample:
A political whore isn't "born again," as it were, on account of a single visit to Afghanistan and a talking to by the "minister of women" -- this lady has been operating the political equivalent of a house of ill repute at least since 2004.