Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bedding down with terrorists

But first the project faces more prosaic nemeses. Before it has even been made public, it has set off three investigations into charges of corruption, a widespread problem that has severely hindered improvement in Iraq after the war.
"Everything in the project is suspicious," said Abbas al-Dihlegi, who runs the provincial council's integrity committee. With billions of dollars expected from private investors, both foreign and Iraqi, officials and shopkeepers on Rasheed Street suspect that much of the money will end up in the pockets of politicians or connected contractors. The watchdog group Transparency International recently named Iraq the fifth most corrupt country in the world, out of 180 nations studied.
Mr. Dihlegi said the initial $7 million contract to draw up the plan and provide a short list of contractors was awarded to Al Miemari without competitive bidding from other firms. "That is against the rules," he said. He noted that one of the firm's partners, Thaeir al-Faili, was a former deputy minister of reconstruction and a current member of the board of Baghdad's investment commission, which will grant all contracts for work on the project.
"This is a conflict of interest," Mr. Dihlegi said.

The above is from Riyadh Mohammed and John Leland's "In Heart of Iraq, a Plan to Revive the Pulse of a Central Artery" in yesterday's New York Times and reading it the first response is: "It takes more than pretty." So millions are going to be wasted on a beautification project while potable water and reliable electricity continue to wait? So there'll be a major shopping center for the rich among all the poverty? Sounds like the Chile Augusto Pinochet built. Well, no surprise, that was a US project at 'liberation' as well. Nouri as the new Pinochet? It plays.

Some things don't play. This from Warren P. Strobel and Mohammed al Dulaimy's "Can a city awash in guns, grenades and explosives ever be safe?" (McClatchy Newspapers) for example:
"Rather than trying to ignite a Sunni-Shiite sectarian war, U.S. and Iraqi analysts said, they're aiming to discredit Maliki's government with mass-casualty bombings that also limit the government's ability to function."

Why doesn't it play? It's not helped by unnamed 'analysts'. But the real problem? Don't scream 'Fire!' over and over, stand to the side and calmly wonder why people are running. Strobel and McClatchy repeatedly pushed the notion that it was 'good Shia' not responding to attempts to start a 'sectarian war.' 'Sectarian war' is what they like to call the ethnic cleansing which took place in Iraq as the Shia thugs the US installed into power went about purging the country. A minority population was targeted by the occupiers and their puppets. They were murdered in large numbers and they make up the bulk of Iraq's refugee population. But 'sectarian war' sounds so much prettier and implies some equality between the two sides. There was no equality. One side was backed by the US, the UK, Australia and various other super powers and then there were the Sunnis. One side not only had the backing, it also had control of US forces. All it had to do was insist that a group of 'insurgents' did this or were planning that and the US forces coudl storm whatever street, neighborhood or enclave.

The same press that ignored what was happening decided, this year, to portray attacks as an attempt by Sunnis to re-start a 'sectarian war.' It's amazing how, with no proof, it's a minority population responsible and how, with no proof, they 'know' the motives.

Well they spent months telling us that various attacks were attempts to restart a sectarian war -- ignoring that the losing side in an ethnic cleansing had little to gain in restarting the ethnic cleansing -- and now Strobel and McClatchy (who pushed that spin for months) want to show up and insist that it's an attempt to discredit Nouri?

It's really amazing if you just stop for a moment and be rational. That's not taught in J-school so we'll excuse the dullards of the press for a bathroom break. But for the rest of us, violence took place in Iraq. That much is known.

And the press did what? They offered two narratives this year. In the first narrative, Sunnis were the 'bad guys' trying to force the (empowered and in power) Shias into a war. In the second narrative, Sunnis are the 'bad guys' trying to discredit the poster for the Shia thugs: Nouri al-Maliki.

Does no one ever notice that? Does no one ever notice that the press is identifying with the installed and not telling the story of Iraq?

Once upon a time, there was alarm and dismay over the fact that the US press identified with the US and told the story from the US point of view. That continues today with the press refusing to report what happens and instead forever siding with the puppets the US installed.

The thugs installed who protect other thugs. Last night, Alice Fordham's "Peter Moore freed after US hands over Iraqi insurgent" (Times of London) reported:

The British hostage Peter Moore was dramatically set free yesterday after the United States handed over an Iraqi insurgent suspected of planning the deaths of five American servicemen.
Mr Moore, an IT consultant, was freed by League of the Righteous, or Asaib al-Haq (AAH) -- an extremist Shia group allied to Iran -- after 31 months and spent his first night of freedom at the British Embassy in Baghdad. He is expected to fly home today.
David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, said that officials had worked tirelessly to secure his release but strongly denied that the British Government had given ground to his captors. He said: "There were no concessions in this case. There was no -- quote, unquote -- deal."
Foreign and Commonwealth Office sources confirmed, however, that the transfer from US custody a few days ago of Qais al-Khazali, a cleric and commander of AAH, helped to pave the way for Mr Moore’s release. They also admitted that British diplomats had been pressing the US to hand over al-Khazali to the Iraqi administration.

Today Suadad al-Salhy, Mohammed Abbas, Khalid al-Ansary, Missy Ryan, Mohammed Abbas and David Stamp (Reuters) report, "Iraq said on Thursday its judges could soon free the leader of a Shi'ite group believed to be behind the 2007 kidnapping of Briton Peter Moore if they found no criminal evidence, only a day after the hostage was released."

Thug-love, Nouri's thug-love. They're going to free al-Khazali. The US already did. From the June 9th snapshot:

This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."

The US government decided the lives of 5 US service members didn't matter, the US government decided that justice didn't matter. The US government decided they'd get in bed with terrorists and even sleep in the wet spot without a single complaint. It's not a pretty picture. Right now some on the right are accusing Barack Obama of not 'getting' terrorism or of being soft on it. It's surprising that they haven't run with the story of the League of Righteous which really does more to establish that charge than Barack golfing (although Barack golfing does provide a visual). Mona Mahmood, Maggie O'Kane and Guy Grandjean (Guardian) report:

The men – including Peter Moore, who was released yesterday after more than two years in captivity – were taken to Iran within a day of their kidnapping from a government ministry building in Baghdad in 2007, several senior sources in Iraq and Iran have told the Guardian. They were held in prisons run by al-Quds Force, a Revolutionary Guard unit that specialises in foreign operations on behalf of the Iranian government.
The former US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, told the BBC he was "90% certain" Moore was held in Iran for some of his two and a half years in captivity.
One of the kidnappers told the Guardian that three of the Britons – Jason Creswell, Jason Swindlehurst and Alec Maclachlan – were killed after the British government refused to take ransom demands seriously.
Part of the deal leading to the release of Moore involved
the handing over of the young Shia cleric Qais al-Khazali, a leading figure in the Righteous League.

Today is New Year's Eve. The plan is to do a snapshot this afternoon/evening. Unless there's some serious news out of Iraq on Friday, no snapshot. It is the end of the year and the end of the decade. I've done two morning entries here. In addition to the snapshot, today will also see Martha & Shirley's year-in-books and Kat's look back at the decade in music -- the decade. Friday, I'll do at least one morning entry on Iraq, Kat will offer a look back at the year in music and I'll do a year-in-review. (I haven't written it, I haven't had time to think about it, I don't know what it's going to be.) Either tonight or tomorrow Ruth will look at the 2009 for radio and Isaiah will post two new comics on Friday (although one may go up late tonight). Beth's "Reflecting on 2009 (Beth)" went up Sunday.

In the New Year, March 20th, there's a DC action being called by A.N.S.W.E.R. and others.


Closing with this from John Pilger's "Welcome to Orwell’s World 2010" (Information Clearing House):

Barack Obama is the leader of a contemporary Oceania. In two speeches at the close of the decade, the Nobel Peace Prize winner affirmed that peace was no longer peace, but rather a permanent war that “extends well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan” to “disorderly regions and diffuse enemies”. He called this “global security” and invited our gratitude. To the people of Afghanistan, which America has invaded and occupied, he said wittily: “We have no interest in occupying your country.”
In Oceania, truth and lies are indivisible. According to Obama, the American attack on Afghanistan in 2001 was authorised by the United Nations Security Council. There was no UN authority. He said the “the world” supported the invasion in the wake of 9/11 when, in truth, all but three of 37 countries surveyed by Gallup expressed overwhelming opposition. He said that America invaded Afghanistan “only after the Taliban refused to turn over [Osama] bin Laden”. In 2001, the Taliban tried three times to hand over bin Laden for trial, reported Pakistan’s military regime, and were ignored. Even Obama’s mystification of 9/11 as justification for his war is false. More than two months before the Twin Towers were attacked, the Pakistani foreign minister, Niaz Naik, was told by the Bush administration that an American military assault would take place by mid-October. The Taliban regime in Kabul, which the Clinton administration had secretly supported, was no longer regarded as “stable” enough to ensure America’s control over oil and gas pipelines to the Caspian Sea. It had to go.
Obama’s most audacious lie is that Afghanistan today is a “safe haven” for al-Qaeda’s attacks on the West. His own national security adviser, General James Jones, said in October that there were “
fewer than 100” al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. According to US intelligence, 90 per cent of the Taliban are hardly Taliban at all, but “a tribal localised insurgency [who] see themselves as opposing the US because it is an occupying power”. The war is a fraud. Only the terminally gormless remain true to the Obama brand of “world peace”.

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