Monday, November 16, 2009

Sahwa members assasinated by assailants wearing Iraq military uniforms

AFP reports that 13 Sahwa members have been assassinated in Sadan village today. Sahwa is also known as "Awakening Council" members and "Sons Of Iraq" and were placed on the US payroll by the US military in an attempt to -- according to US Gen David Petraeus and then-US Ambassador Ryan Crocker in testimony to Congress in 2008 -- to get these Sunnis to stop killing and wounding US military service members and to get them to stop destroying US military equipment. Nouri al-Maliki was supposed to have taken over payment for the Sahwa near the close of 2008. He was also supposed to have integrated them into the Iraqi forces. Neither's happened. Despite non-stop media hype in November and at the start of this year and again in April, Nouri had still not taken up payment and the bulk were not integrated into Iraqi forces. (Nouri repeatedly stated -- as late as mid-2008 -- that he had no intention of bring Sahwa into the Iraqi forces.) Last week, Richard Sale (Washington Times) reported, "A [US] congressional staffer who spoke on condition that he not be named because he was discussing sensitive intelligence said that after the U.S. stopped paying Sunni forces directly in June, it wasn't long before payments to the tribes 'simply stopped. You got paid if you were a power in the government, and the tribal leaders were last on [Prime Minister Nouri al-] Maliki's list,' the staffer said." AFP reports that the 13 were killed "execution-style" by assailants wearing "Iraqi army uniforms". Among those murdered was Sahwa leader Attala Ouda al-Shuker and his three sons. Xinhua has a text and audio report here. The attack is being blamed (by Iraqi officials) on, you know this is coming, al Qaeda in Iraq. What was, according to Petraeus, a very small group and, according to the now top US commander in Iraq Gen Ray Odierno, a group that had suffered severe push back must be the most well connected group in the world if they're doing everything they're accused of. And the way they manage to get all these Iraqi military and police uniforms. Simply amazing. (Alternative explanation: It's predictable and unbelievable to blame every incident of violence on al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.)

In England there is an ongoing inquiry into Baha Mosua's death -- Baha is an Iraqi who died while in British custody. The November 9th snpashot noted that day's developments: British soldiers Gareth Aspinall and Garry Reader testified that Baha was abused repeatedly while in British custody, that he was beaten to death and that they were ordered to keep quiet about what took place. Earlier this morning, Robert Verkaik (Independent of London) reported that Donald Payne, already convicted for his role in Baha's death (and kicked out of the military) will testify today. Verkaik notes that Reader and Cooper identified Payne and Aaron Cooper as being responsible for the death of Baha -- to clarify that, they did not see him killed. They saw Payne and Cooper enter the room, they heard the cries and shreiks of Baha while the two were in the room and they saw Baha died after the two men left the room. The Daily Mail reports that Payne has testified today that he saw "every member of the unit commanded by Lt [Craig] Rogers, known by the call sign G10A, 'forcefully kick and/or punch' the group of Iraqi prisoners that included Mr Mousa." Payne also asserted that abuses covered up by him were done due to "misguided loyalty."

In the US, there is no change. Bill Mears (CNN) reports that the photos of abused prisoners blocked for release by the Bush administration are still blocked by the Barack administration:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates notified the high court late Friday that he was issuing an order to block the release.
The photos have been at the center of a years-long lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union. Congress last month gave the Obama administration specific authority to prevent any release of the 44 photos. Afterward, Gates signed a certificate of authorization, or order, to prevent the photos' release, saying their disclosure would endanger U.S. troops serving abroad.

BBC News adds, "Initially, Mr Obama had suggested that he would not attempt to block the release of the photographs but he reversed this decision in May. He said then that the release of such images would be 'of no benefit' and might inflame opinion against the US. "

Scott Pelley (CBS News -- link has text and video) reports on efforts to rescue/rebuild Iraq's marshes.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Gesture" went up last night.

We'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "WILL WE EVER STOP THE KILLINGS?" (Veterans Today):

Every time the young stick-up man tugged at my companion's purse with his left hand, she would pull back, causing the muzzle of the pistol he held in his right hand to swing back and forth. Its line of fire each time was directed across my chest and if he accidentally or deliberately squeezed the trigger this piece might never have been written.
"Give him your purse!" I insisted, meaning that hanging on to it wasn't worth our lives. Still, she refused and the tug-of-war in the parking lot of my apartment building continued.
"Here!" I said to the gunman, pitching my wallet to him, "take this!" He caught the wallet, turned and fled across a wide, deserted ballpark. Even in the darkness, we could follow him running for a long way, silhouetted in the lights of the U.S. Capitol, lit up at night ahead of him like a giant white cake.
A few days later I received a call from a Maryland department store inquiring if I had sent a young man to buy a TV set on my credit card. A store detective arrested the youth and I dutifully showed up in court on the day of the trial only to learn he had skipped.
Not long afterwards, a judge who lived in my building made page one of the Washington Star for resisting the gunmen who jumped him in the same parking lot. From his hospital bed he told reporters we Americans had to “stand up” to armed robbers, a noble sentiment spoken through his pain, considering all the bullets they pumped into his body.
We were lucky, my friend and I. We could have been killed, as so many others are being killed each day. As Jill Lepore writes in the November 9th "The New Yorker," the U.S. "has the highest homicide rate of any affluent democracy, nearly four times that of France and the United Kingdom and six times that of Germany." UK averages about 60 gun homicides annually and Germany averages fewer than 200. More Americans are being murdered on our city streets than in all our foreign wars.

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