Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Arrest of Sahwa leader, KBR's burn pits

A Sunni paramilitary leader and budding politician who had been trying to avoid arrest on murder charges since the summer has been jailed by Iraqi security forces, authorities said Monday.
Brig. Gen. Mustafa Kamal Shibeeb was taken into custody last week in connection with the deaths of five known members of the group Al Qaeda in Iraq who were killed in 2007 in Baghdad's Dora neighborhood, where Shibeeb commanded paramilitary fighters better known as the Awakening.

That's the opening to Caesar Ahmed and Ned Parker's "Prominent member of Awakening movement arrested in Iraq" (Los Angeles Times) and his arrest is only the latest in a series of crackdowns on political rivals of Nouri al-Maliki. As for his alleged connection (he denies) to the murder of five people suspected of being part of al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, five deaths?

Nouri's worried about five deaths?

That's funny, his best friends claimed responsibility for killing 5 US service members on a US base in Iraq and claimed responsibility for kidnapping 5 British citizens (three of which have been verified as dead) but Nouri ordered their release from prison and met with them shortly after claiming that Iraq had to be prepared to move on and that it was important to bring the League of Righteous into the political process. Sometimes five lives matter, sometimes five lives don't.

We'll note this from John Leland's "Women Ascend to Iraq’s Elite Police Officer Corps" (New York Times):

"Some people have a view of Iraqi women that for them to join the police academy is a shame," said Alla Nozad Falih, 22, wearing a star on her epaulet that marked her as a first lieutenant. Like about half of the group's members, she wore her hair uncovered except by a uniform blue beret, and like 26 of her female classmates, she joined the academy after finishing law school.
The job of officer in the national police force is among the highest paying available in Iraq, but also one of the most dangerous; officers and trainees are favorite targets of insurgents.
"It's been my desire since I was a kid to be a police officer, and now I am one," Lieutenant Falih said. "We are proud to be officers, and we encourage other women to be officers because it's a great job."

They should be proud of themselves, it's not a job that's encouraged. And, judging by Sahar Issa's report recently, this may be one of the few times they get to take pride in their accomplishments.

That's the cover to Human Rights Watch's new report [PDF format warning] "On Vulnerable Ground: Violence against Minority Communities in Nineveh Province's Disputed Territories" which explores minorities caught in the territories disputed by the KRG and the Baghdad based 'government'.

The six-year US-led occupation of Iraq failed to resolve the tensions over the disputed territories in northern Iraq, or to provide redress for the victims of the arabization policies. The US-led coalition paid scant attention to the tensions there, and a drawn-out UN mediation effort has done little to bridge the gap between Arabs and Kurds. Many of the impoverished, mostly Kurdish, victims of the arabization policies have not been able to return to their historic homes, providing a powerful rallying cry for Kurdish grievances. With a full US withdrawal from Iraq accelerating under the Obama administration, tensions long ignored by the United States threaten to blow up into full-scale conflict, destabilizing Iraq once again.
For its part, the KRG is adamantly demanding implementation of a constitutionally-mandated referendum on the future of the disputed territories -- a referendum that Kurdish officials, with their political and security presence in the area, will make every effort to ensure goes their way. The stakes are considerable: Iraq's central government stands to lose to the KRG direct control of about 10 per cent of the entire territory of Iraq, and this would close to double the territorial size of semiautonomous Iraqi Kurdistan. What lies under these lands also makes them lucrative: more than half of Iraq's large oil reserves are located in northern Iraq, much of them in this disputed area, and they contain the highest-quality oil in the country. The establishment of an enlarged autonomous Kurdistan with access to oil fields worries neighboring Turkey, Syria, and Iran, themselves home to large Kurdish populations with nationalist aspirations.

We'll go over the report later today in the snapshot. Friday's snapshot noted the Democratic Policy Committee's hearing, chaired by Senator Byron Dogran about KBR's use of burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a new development, E. Thomas Wood (Nashville Post) reports:

Contractors working for the military in Iraq and Afghanistan are fouling the nests of U.S. soldiers with pollution, poisoning the troops in the very bases meant to be their sanctuaries.
That's the central allegation in a new set of lawsuits filed in Nashville and elsewhere across the country. The legal actions name as defendants the controversial contracting firm KBR Inc. (formerly Kellogg Brown and Root), as well as Halliburton Co., of which KBR used to be a subsidiary, and a Turkish general contracting firm, ERKA Ltd.

L. Russell Keith was one of the people offering testimony to the committee Friday. WAFF reports:

Keith stood before the Democratic Policy Committee in the 21st of a series of hearings addressing the potentially life-threatening effects of open burning in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Russell said while he was stationed in Balad, he was exposed to burning daily for 15 months.
Witnesses have said that hazardous materials and medical waste were disposed of in these burn pits.

You can also see Third's "KBR burn pits kill and wound US service members" and the Democratic Policy Committee website.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.