Thursday, March 11, 2010

I Hate The War

Ayad Allawi told Western officials that aides to Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister, had hidden ballot papers and falsified computer records in an effort to retain power. “They are stealing the votes of the Iraqi people,” his spokesman told a press conference called to set out the main claims.
The claims could trigger a fresh round of violence and undermine the credibility of the next government at a time when US troops are preparing to leave Iraq. Full election results have yet to be announced but Mr Allawi -- a former Prime Minister -- and Mr al-Maliki are vying for the top job. Partial results show both men doing well in their respective strongholds.
The Iraqi National Movement, the alliance led by Mr Allawi, has filed 30 complaints alleging voter fraud. Mr al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition has threatened to sue him for defamation.

The above is from Oliver August's "Ayad Allawi accuses Nouri al-Maliki's group of fraud in bid to retain power" (Times of London). We're not gas bagging the election. We're not horse racing it here. We don't note the 'preliminary' count (from four provinces!) or other breathless bulletins. The above are serious charges being made and, as August goes on to explain, some of them have been verified. Is Nouri al-Maliki willing to break the law to hold on to power?

You've just dropped your popcorn only if you haven't been paying attention. Is there anyone Nouri won't target. Moqtada al-Sadr goes with another bloc and Nouri allegedly retaliates by threatening to arrest al-Sadr if he enters Iraq. Threats and bluster. The US government can certainly pick the biggest psychopath when installing puppets.

Which goes a long way towards explaining a report released today. For background, the Iraqi Parliament votes on Prime Minister, not the people. And, in 2006 (following the December 2005 vote), they went with their choice . . . until the American government said "NO." Finally (April 2006), they went with US pin-up Nouri. He's been prime minister since April 2006. Four years next month. Keep that in mind. Four years and how did the most recent play out for Iraqis?

During the year the following significant human rights problems were reported: arbitrary or unlawful killings; insurgent and terrorist bombings and executions; disruption of authority by sectarian, criminal, and extremist groups; arbitrary deprivation of life; disappearances; torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; impunity; poor conditions in pretrial detention and prison facilities; denial of fair public trials; delays in resolving property restitution claims; immature judicial institutions lacking capacity; arbitrary arrest and detention; arbitrary interference with privacy and home; other abuses in internal conflicts; limits on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and association due to sectarianism and extremist threats and violence; limits on religious freedom due to extremist threats and violence; restrictions on freedom of movement; large numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees; lack of protection of refugees and stateless persons; lack of transparency and significant widespread corruption at all levels of government; constraints on international organizations and nongovernmental organizations' (NGOs) investigations of alleged violations of human rights; discrimination against and societal abuses of women and ethnic and religious minorities; human trafficking; societal discrimination and violence against individuals based on sexual orientation; and limited exercise of labor rights.
Insurgent and extremist violence, coupled with weak government performance in upholding the rule of law, resulted in widespread and severe human rights abuses. Although their influence and ability to attack has significantly weakened since 2007, terrorist groups such as AQI and other extremist elements continued to launch highly destructive attacks, attempting to fuel sectarian tensions and undermine the government's ability to maintain law and order. Extremist and AQI attacks continued against ISF and government officials. AQI and other extremists also conducted high-profile bombings targeting urban areas, particularly prominent government buildings, Shia markets, and mosques, and killing Shia religious pilgrims. Religious minorities, sometimes labeled "anti-Islamic," were often targeted in the violence. Insurgents also carried out a number of attacks against other civilians. During the year, despite some reconciliation and easing of tensions in several provinces, the government's human rights performance consistently fell short of according citizens the protections the law provides.

That's from the 2009 "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices" put out by the US State Dept today and specifically from the section on Iraq. It's a read, to put it mildly, it's a read. Read it and recall (or learn for the first time) those times last year when Iraqi Security Forces beat up journalists or when Nouri and even Jalal Talabani (President of Iraq) sued the press. And marvel over how they have a free press in Iraq . . . as long as Nouri gives his okay.

"And if the Nouri don't mind and we take a little time and sing one more song . . ." (Nod to Jackson Browne's "The Load Out/Stay" off of Running On Empty.)

And in Nouri's Iraq, the report says, it appears children are being bought and sold into servitude. Oh what a happy moment for 'democracy,' right?

Read the report. And just when you think you can't get more disgust along comes a new wrinkle or something you'd forgotten.

The report contains the strongest remarks regarding the persecution of the LGBT community from the US government so far:

During the year there were reports of discrimination and violence against gay men and lesbians, mostly by nongovernmental actors. Press reports in April indicated that approximately 60 gay men had been murdered during the first four months of the year, most of them in Baghdad. According to UNHCR, during the year approximately 30 boys and men from Baghdad were murdered because they were gay or perceived to be gay. On April 4, local and international media reported the discovery of the bodies of nine gay men in Sadr City. Three other men were found tortured but alive. Numerous press reports indicate that some victims were assaulted and murdered by having their anuses glued shut or their genitals cut off and stuffed down their throats until they suffocated. The government did not endorse or condone these extra-judicial killings, and the MOI publicly stated that killing men or lesbians was murder.
On May 29, Muqtader al-Sadr, leader of the JAM militia, ordered that the "depravity" of homosexuality be eradicated. Although he publicly rejected outright violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) individuals, reports attributed the killings of gay men to radical Shia militias, as well as to tribal and family members shamed by the actions of their LGBT relatives.
Authorities had not announced any arrests or prosecutions of any persons for killing, torturing, or detaining any LGBT individuals by year's end.

No hemming, no hawing. If only they could have found that voice last year.

Reading the report, you'll wonder where the press was during the bulk of this? Sort of the way you may wonder where they were when the events Oliver August reports were taking place. But you can't explore fraud and do your gas bagging so real stories on the elections suffer. And, as the State Dept report demonstrates, Iraqis suffer.

There is no liberation, there is no democracy.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4380. Tonight? 4382.

The e-mail address for this site is