Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Another joins the military coup chorus

As prime minister in Japan, Junichiro Koizumi made strenuous efforts to enhance relations between his government and the Bush administration so as to strengthen his own power base. Koizumi, who took office in 2001, was quick to voice support for the U.S.-led war.
Koizumi brushed aside questions on the constitutionality of his decision to dispatch Self-Defense Forces personnel to Iraq for humanitarian activities with the twisted argument that the areas where SDF troops operated were "noncombat zones."
The whole process of the SDF dispatch to Iraq must be scrutinized.
In Britain, the Iraq Inquiry was formed at initiative of the labor government, which was also in power when the country entered the war. In the Netherlands, it was the current prime minister who authorized the dispatch of Dutch troops to Iraq.
In Japan, the Liberal Democratic Party, now an opposition force, along with the administration headed by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's Democratic Party of Japan, should realize that such moves have nothing to do with partisan political maneuvering.
Koizumi's decision must be questioned
What exchanges did Koizumi have with his ministerial team about the international situation regarding Iraq at the time? What discussions were held among legal experts within the government and what advice did they offer the prime minister?

The above is from Japan's Asahi editorial "Examination of the Iraq war." The Iraq Inquiry is having an impact. And the London Inquiry, chaired by John Chilcot, would have even more of an impact if it was covered, truly covered. Not the nonsense Amy Goodman finally offered after she was shamed into doing so (click here if you missed her little stunt). In Japan, there are calls for some form of questioning, some form of accountability. The Inquiry may end up being a white wash. I have no idea, no one really does. People can make predictions but that's all they are at this point. What is known is that the public record is getting a lot of information. Some of which is incorrect. And people supposedly concerned with the truth would serve the cause better by bird-dogging the testimonies, not by ignoring them.

March 7th, elections are supposed to be held in Iraq. These are Parlimentary elections and the Parliament will then select a prime minister. Yesterday, NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro (All Things Considered) offered a report on the campaigning:

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro: Nouri al-Maliki is Iraq's unlikely strongman. Initially seen as a weak compromise candidate when he was installed as prime minister four years ago, Maliki is now accused by his rivals of being a dictator in waiting. To secure another term, he needs to win big in Iraq's Shi'ite south. On a multi-city tour of the region this past week, Maliki told the crowds that he is a man who can deliver.

Nouri al-Maliki: We have achieved security. We've signed huge oil contracts which will give Iraq money. I'm not telling you that we want to achieve something, we have already achieved something.

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro: Maliki's coalition, called "State of Law," did well in provincial elections last year but more recently his popularity has waned according to some Iraqi analaysts. A series of high profile terrorists attacks in Baghdad and elsewhere have called into question his security credentials and what some call his heavy-handed approach to governance has also provoked criticism. Maliki's main rival in the south is the Iraqi National Alliance It includes the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, or ISCI, and Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's political bloc. ISCI's leader, Ammar al-Hakim, was also campaigning in the south this week. Speaking to a crowd in Diwaniyah, he said the time is right for change.

Ammar al-Hakim: Iraq deserves better than what it has now. With the grace of God and your help, the Iraqi National Alliance will be able to revive this country.

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro: Both sides are using whatever means they can to secure votes. In last year's provincial elections, Maliki won significant support from so-called tribal support councils that he established. In return for money and positions, tribal leaders promised to deliver votes for the prime minister -- and they did.

Of the process thus far, Olivia Ward (Toronto Star) offers this recap:

The election started with a call for unity, which gradually unravelled with scores of people killed in bombings, candidates targeted for assassination or attack, and up to 400 would-be candidates disqualified under a "de-Baathification" law meant to prevent a resurgence of Saddam Hussein's supporters.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki could benefit from the ban, imposed after a "non-partisan" committee supplied dubious evidence against the candidates, many of them al-Maliki's opponents.
His chief rival, former prime minister Iyad Allawi, stands to lose – along with many moderate Iraqis. Allawi failed to hang onto power in the 2006 election, when Shiite religious parties threw their weight behind al-Maliki.

Among the parties competing for votes is the Ahrar Party and they issued the following release today:

Ahrar's plan to secure Iraq's borders is supported by 60 percent of voters according to a new poll

The finding emerged from a poll of 1,000 voters across Iraq.

Ayad Jamal Aldin said: "We have a detailed and credible plan drawn up by former generals and security experts to end the violence on Iraq's streets and protect our country's borders.

"We will allocate more resources to securing our borders, and we will enlarge and improve the Iraqi Army and police to ensure that no terrorists or drugs can enter Iraq.

"This government has lost control and is controlled by outsiders and corrupters intent on dividing and destroying us. Ahrar has a plan to make Iraq more secure."

For further information, contact:

Ahrar Media Bureau
Tel: +964 (0)790 157 4478 / +964 (0)790 157 4479 / +964 (0)771 275 2942

About Ayad Jamal Aldin:

Ayad Jamal Aldin is a cleric, best known for his consistent campaigning for a new, secular Iraq. He first rose to prominence at the Nasiriyah conference in March 2003, shortly before the fall of Saddam, where he called for a state free of religion, the turban and other theological symbols. In 2005, he was elected as one of the 25 MPs on the Iraqi National List, but withdrew in 2009 after becoming disenchanted with Iyad Allawi's overtures to Iran. He wants complete independence from Iranian interference in Iraq. He now leads the Ahrar party for the 2010 election to the Council of Representatives, to clean up corruption and create a strong, secure and liberated Iraq for the future.

Iraqi Christians are again under assault. Last week saw 5 killed in Mosul, yesterday saw 3 more killed in Mosul. Anne-Beatrice Clasman (DPA) reports:

About 1.5 million Christians lived in Iraq when the United States launched the invasion in the spring of 2003 to bring down the regime of dictator Saddam Hussein. Today, according to unofficial estimates, they number about 750,000.
More than 730 Christians have been killed since the US-led invasion. The stark figures don't provide a human face - the dead include a young man on his way to university and the owner of a housewares store, both killed in early February. Most Christian victims die in the capital, Baghdad, or in Mosul in the north where they are mixed up in the frontline of a power struggle between Arabs and Kurds.
Among the Christians who have been killed are 12 clergymen who now are revered by their parishes as martyrs. Some of the slayings of students, pharmacists, doctors and priests are attributed to al-Qaeda terrorists. But who is responsible for the other killings? According to the Hammurabi human rights organization, more than 70 per cent of the murders of Christians were never explained.

We'll again note this statement Human Rights Watch issued yesterday:

Iraq's government should bolster security to protect the lives of Christians in Mosul, Human Rights Watch said today. Since February 14, 2010, five Christians have been killed in Mosul in separate attacks that appear to be politically motivated, given the country's looming national election.
Human Rights Watch called on the government to take immediate measures, such as an increased security presence in Chaldo-Assyrian neighborhoods before and during the elections, to help prevent a repeat of a campaign of violence that devastated the community in Mosul in late 2008.
"Iraq's authorities need to act now to stop this campaign of violence against Christians from spreading again," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "In particular, the government needs to see that those responsible for these murders are swiftly arrested and prosecuted to protect Mosul's Christians from further violence."
According to information obtained by Human Rights Watch, on February 16, assailants impersonating secret police approached Zaya Toma and his cousin, Ramsin Shmael, while they waited at a bus stop in Mosul's al-Tahrir district on their way to the university they attend. Speaking in Arabic, the assailants asked Toma, a 22-year-old engineering student, and Shmael, a 21-year-old pharmacy student, for their identity cards. Although identity cards in Iraq do not indicate religion or ethnicity, assailants have often used the victim's name as a marker of his or her religious or ethnic affiliation.
After Toma produced his card, one of the assailants shot him point-blank in the head, killing him instantly. Ramsin tried to run but was shot twice; one bullet shattered his teeth. The assailants fled, apparently assuming they had killed both students, although Shmael survived. Family members arrived on the scene before the police, to find Toma lying in a pool of blood, his books on one side of his body, his identity card on the other.
The incident has devastated the broader family of Toma and Shmael, who escaped to northern Iraq from Baghdad in the summer of 2007 after receiving threats to kill them unless they converted to Islam. Family members say they want to move again - this time out of Iraq - to join the hundreds of thousands of Chaldo-Assyrians who have fled since 2003.
"By killing Zaya, they have taken everything from us," a family member told Human Rights Watch. "Our only crime is that we are Christian,"
The attack was one of several killings of Christians in Mosul the same week:
  • On February 20, the body of Adnan Hanna al-Dahan was found in northern Mosul. The 57-year-old Syrian Orthodox grocer had been kidnapped by unknown assailants from inside his shop a few days earlier.
  • On February 17, the bullet-ridden body of Wissam George, a 20-year-old Assyrian studying to be a teacher, was found after he disappeared that morning on his way to school.
  • On February 15, gunmen stormed a grocery store and killed Fatukhi Munir, its owner.
  • On February 14, Rayan Salem Elias, a Chaldean man, was shot dead outside his home.
While the identities of the perpetrators remain unknown, the spike in attacks against Christians comes only days ahead of Iraq's March 7 parliamentary vote. Families of the victims and community leaders believe the violence is politically motivated and are appealing to the government for protection.
The Chaldean archbishop of Mosul, Emil Shimoun Nona, said the most recent killings could prompt a new wave of refugees fleeing northern Iraq, where Christians live in constant apprehension. Since 2003, between 250,000 and 500,000 Christians - or about half the Christian population - have left the country, according to the UN High Commission for Refugees. In January, Archbishop Nona was installed as successor to Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, whose body was found in March 2008, ten days after kidnappers seized him as he was leaving the Holy Spirit Church in Mosul.
Human Rights Watch said that the recent attacks recall the campaign of targeted killings against Chaldo-Assyrians in Mosul in late 2008 that the organization documented in a 51-page report, "On Vulnerable Ground: Violence against Minority Communities in Nineveh Province's Disputed Territories," released in November 2009. The orchestrated violence left 40 Chaldo-Assyrians dead and led to a mass exodus of more than 12,000 from their homes in Mosul. Assailants targeted Christians in their homes, in workplaces, and in places of worship.
Those killings began shortly after the Christian community lobbied the Iraqi parliament to pass a law that would set aside a greater number of seats for minorities in the January 2009 provincial elections. The attacks escalated after Christians held demonstrations in Nineveh and Baghdad in response to parliament's decision (later amended) to drop a provision in the provincial elections law ensuring political representation for minorities.
The report also documented intimidation and restrictions on freedom of movement by Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq of other minority groups in Nineveh, including Yazidis and Shabaks, during the 2009 provincial elections.

Meanwhile ever since John Jenkins, British Ambassador to Iraq, made it a 'hot topic,' military coup in Iraq just doesn't go away. The latest to wade in is Adil Abdel-Mahdi, Iraq's Shi'ite vice president. DPA reports that he has expressed concerns about "militarization" in Iraq and what that could mean for the country's future, noting, "There is a historical precende in this case. The country is set for military coups."

In the US, the Orange County Register notes the potential meanings of Gen Ray Odierno's remarks earlier this week and editorializes that the US military must leave Iraq . . . or at least 'combat' troops: "We think it would be a mistake to keep combat troops in Iraq beyond August. But our leaders might think differently when crunch time comes."

Yesterday we had to flip the template because the archives and everything else were messed up. In flipping the template, a new way of listing the permalinks took place. If you to the left, you may have a few problems. My problems would include: You're reposting every damn thing Amy Goodman does? Not of use. And I find it makes On The Wilder Side -- yeah, I'll name the site -- all the more laughable because Amy Goodman regularly excludes the Green Party. Ava and I marveled throughout 2008 how pathetic the damn Green Party was as it rushed over and over to lick Amy Goodman's boots. They're online spokespersons are pathetic masochists. One example: the GOP convention got 1 week of coverage with the show expanded to two hours daily, the Democratic Party convention got 1 week of coverage with the show expanded to two hours daily and the Green Party? They got a headline. Not even a lead headline. They didn't even get the full acceptance speech of their nominee played on Democracy Now! But Greens keep taking that s**t and, in the process, demonstrating that they never want be a real party because they don't think they're worthy of being a real party. You want to be a real party? Start acting like one. I'm not in the mood for the pathetics who gladly grab crumbs. Anymore DN nonsense and I'm pulling On The Wilder Side. (And it nonsense. They're not writing anything of their own, they're just reposting DN! over and over. It's nothing but a damn infomerical.) I don't have time for that s**t. Somebody spits on you, you don't spend every day trying to tongue bathe their boots. Stand up and act like a grown up, show some spine or just admit that you're useless and you always will be useless. The Green Party should have spent 2009 becoming a full fledged party for the left. It certainly had the best recruiting chances it would ever have. Instead, it continued to play pathetic and play Kid Sister to the Democratic Party (I'm referring to the national Greens as well as their online gas bags, some state organizations, such as the Michigan Green Party, are serious political parties). You're never going to recruit anyone to your party except pathetic masochists if you can't stand up for yourself. Spending your every waking hour to promote the show of a woman who regularly renders your party invisible is damn pathetic. You need to figure out if you're a political party or a fan club. Play "Please, sir, may I have another" on your own time, with the blinds drawn.

Second, "s**t." I use the word. I am not someone who never curses. (I don't curse around children, I don't curse in public speeches.) Here, if I use the term, it appears "s**t." It does that because we're supposed to be work safe. Random Notes is a great blog but it's one that's about to get pulled. Susan can run her site however she wants and should. But I can't have the s-word appearing in full at this site. It is supposed to be work safe and if people are using that word in the titles to their posts and the new permalinks show your latest title, I can't have it. You've got one. I'll be Betty about it. You've got one and I've got a lot of complaints on it. Those are valid complaints. It's not "Susan's a bad writer!" No one thinks she is. But it is about whether or not this site is "work safe." So that's one strike and you only get one. Next time, it's pulled. That's not because Susan's a bad writer. She's not. She's a wonderful writer with a strong point of view who needs to run her site in the way that she feels is best. But, again, we are "work safe" and we can't have that sort of thing up. It was made worse by the fact that she posted at night so for an hour or so it was at the top of the permalinks when anyone visited this site. The first thing they saw on the left was the s-word and, again, e-mails came in complaining and I understand the complaints.

Third, Scott Horton (see, we're naming names, Yazz will be so happy). Harper's is probably going to be pulled from the link just because I'm tired of friends in the real press this morning laughing about Horton being "highlighted". I don't promote the crazy. He's a joke to the Real Press and he's earned that reputation. We've linked to Harper's forever but I'm just not in the mood for jokes from friends. (If he offered anything of value, that would be different. He doesn't. But he's so very good at 'explosive' 'scoops.' That don't always pan out. But that's what happens when a professor mistakes himself for an investigative reporter, right?) If there's a way -- I don't know that there is -- to pull some of the titles of posts and just leave the site's name, that would allow Harper's to remain on the roll (and anyone whose problems is headlines that are not work 'safe').

Still on the template "Your name goes here." I don't know. That's a site that didn't put their name in. We attended two hearings yesterday and neither are in the snapshot because time I would have spent condensing the hearings were instead spent on redoing the template (fairly easy) and then re-adding links. Nearly 160, I believe. That took forever. I put in the link and if they're not set up to where their name is automatically read -- Courage To Resist is one that isn't -- then it's not showing up and I'm in no hurry to go back into the template again.

Some sites were ditched. I'd already noted yesterday morning that if the site was no longer there, it would be ditched. So that was Ehren Watada (an example I used yesterday morning). And it was a large number of other sites -- the Nader-Gonzalez campaign site, for example, was another one that no longer displayed anything. In addition, some sites were worthless and got ditched as a result. (These were professional sites. Only one blogger/blogspot site was ditched. They used to link to Third, they no longer do, I pulled them.) If you think something was overlooked -- and it very well may have been, I spent an hour on that and was rushing through it and on the phones during it -- e-mail and I'll see what happened. (And a site you think is gone may be there but not showing under that title such as "Your name goes here" or "Joomba site" -- "Joomba" is what Courage to Resist is under.) One site that will go up is Fresh Air whenever I've got the time to go back into the template. I loathe Terry Gross on every level. But her show offers not just audio but transcripts. So it's accessible to all. For that reason, her site will go on the permalinks when I have time to go into them next.


A.N.S.W.E.R. and other organizations are sponsoring March 20th marches in DC, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The march is to demand the withdrawal of all US and NATO troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

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