Saturday, February 06, 2010

US citizen kidnapped in Baghdad

There are two possible scenarios when talking about the specter of a coup in Iraq in the aftermath of the U.S. occupation of the country.
The chaos, which some described as "creative", was in their eyes a means to put the house in order. They believed partial or total destruction leads to reconstruction.
This is what armed groups fighting under the umbrella of resistance might resort to do as part of a coup to change the status quo.
The other likelihood is a bid by an army general or armed factional groups to barge into the presidential palace as a final resort to gain power. Of course the possibility for this to happen is almost impossible so long as U.S. troops are in the country.
In the second instance there is no need for the plotters to bring radio and television under their control. Media are no longer pivotal for a coup. Every faction have their own media today.
Who will be storming the presidential palace? Certainly the armed forces. And if Iraqi political factions and their armed militias contemplate such a step, they will have to do it through their stooges in the army.

The above is from Fatih Abdulsalam's "Will there be a coup d'etat in Iraq?" (Azzaman) and for those who think the possibility is impossible, they should remember that England's current ambassador to Iraq testified to the Iraq Inquiry last month and raised the possibility of a military coup all on his own. (According to US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill, John Jenkins was misquoted -- he wasn't misquoted, he testified in public and his remarks can be viewed via online streaming or found in the transcript of his testimony at the Iraq Inquiry website -- and we covered Jenkins' testimony in the Jan. 8th snapshot and Hill's claims of misquoting in the Jan. 27th snapshot.)

No one knows what's coming but tensions are high with the non-stop bombings of this week as well as the attempts to ban candidates from elections currently scheduled for March 7th. James Cogan (WSWS) reports:

An Iraqi appeals court on Wednesday overturned a ruling that had banned hundreds of candidates from standing in the March 7 election on the grounds they had links with or held the views of Saddam Hussein’s now illegal Baath Party. The decision immediately heightened already sharp sectarian tensions, with competing factions of the Iraqi ruling elite vying for dominance in Washington’s puppet regime.
The candidate ban was imposed by the Justice and Accountability Board, an anti-Baathist judicial body headed by Ali Faysal al-Lami, a prominent Shiite fundamentalist. Lami is aligned with the major Shiite parties that dominate the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and is suspected by the US military of having close relations with the Iranian regime.
The Justice and Accountability Board’s decisions were blatantly political. In effect, Lami ruled that opposing the domination of parliament by Shiite religious parties was equivalent to promoting the return to power of the Baath Party, which, representing the interests of a Sunni ruling stratum, espoused an Arab nationalist and secular ideology. In total, he excluded 458 candidates from Sunni-based and secular coalitions. Among those banned were Saleh al-Mutlaq, one of the most prominent Sunni politicians, Abdul Kader al-Obeidi, the current defence minister, and a number of serving Sunni members of parliament.

Li Laifang (Xinhua) observes
, "Tolerance is much needed on the road leading Iraq into a democratic and prosperous nation. Among the blocs competing the March election are many secular and cross-sectarian ones, reflecting a good step toward the reconciliation. To solve the impasse caused by the ban, law should be respected and tolerance is also needed. After all, the development of Iraq cannot do without a legally and fairly elected government, and the unity of the Iraqi people." Gabriel Gatehouse (BBC News) provides this context:

The dispute reflects both the sectarian fault-lines within Iraq and geopolitical tensions between Washington and Tehran.
Amid the multitude of different Arab parties and coalitions competing for seats in this election, it is possible to discern two more or less distinct political directions.
One draws its support broadly from Iraq's majority Shia population and is to a greater or lesser extent sympathetic to the government in Tehran.
The other relies largely on Sunni Arabs and secularists whose policies range from Iraqi and pan-Arab nationalism to open nostalgia for the relative stability of the Saddam-era.

Nada Bakri (New York Times) reports that some politicians (Sadrists, Speaker of Parliament Ayad al-Samarrai) are already campaigning despite the supposed postponement of campaigning. No word on whether the 'banned' candidates are campaigning.

Meanwhile Suadad al-Salhy, Ahmed Rasheed and Michael Christie (Reuters) report that the Shi'ite milita group League of Righteous (Asaib al-Haq) has kidnapped a US contractor. Ernesto Londono and Leila Fadel (Washington Post) report the man is Issa T. Salomi and that he was working for the US military who "has been missing since Jan. 23". BBC News posts video of Issa speaking while flanked by his kidnappers.

Let's talk truth and let's talk accountability because no one seems to want to. If Issa dies? That's blood on Barack's hands. The League of Righteous? Their leader and top lieutenants were in US custody, in US prisons in Iraq. Barack made the call to release them. Despite the fact that they had killed 5 American soldiers. Barack decided that since 5 British citizens were kidnapped by the League, the ring leader and his flunkies would be released. And how did that work out? Only one has been returned alive (Peter Moore), 3 corpses have been handed over and 1 remains status unknown (though the British government has considered him dead for months). American lives didn't matter to Barack. He's the World President, apparently, not the American one. Didn't feel his first duty was to protect the five fallen. Felt his first duty was to secure release for British hostages -- releases their own inept prime minister was unable to secure.

The only one who should be more worried than Barack right now is a so-called 'man of the cloth' whose work with 'insurgents' in Baghdad is well known by both the US and UK military and who took to claiming that the British hostage whose status is still unknown would be released in a matter of days . . . claiming that weeks ago. The attention getter isn't speaking to the press these days, is he? He's crawled back under his rock.

For those late to the party we'll drop back to 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."

Somebody needs to answer for it and that person is Barack Obama. A working press would have long demanded to know what took place and why. But you don't have a working press, you have a bunch of lap dogs yapping at White House press feedings.

We'll note this from Debra Sweet's "CBS, the National Prayer Breakfast - and the New Poster Boy for Theocracy?" (World Can't Wait):

Our lunch-time protest against CBS was very spirited – CBS freaked out and called the police on our relatively small gathering, but 6 of us managed to get in the doors and tried to deliver some of the messages that have been collected demanding the Super Bowl not feature Focus on the Family’s anti-abortion ad.
Shelby Knox was there: especially moving was her story about the 14 year old girl living in Lubbock, TX who ends up in a Crisis Pregnancy Center and is lied to, manipulated and told she just has to give birth. Sunsara Taylor was there too, her usual fiery self. Some NYU students as well as others came out; and a few people stopped on the street and joined on the spot.

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the new york times
nada bakri
the washington post
ernesto londono