Thursday, June 17, 2010

Iran and Turkey not close, really, honest

Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) reports on US military 'team building efforts' between Kurdish and Arab security forces, "The deployment is a sign of how seriously U.S. commanders view the threat of an Arab-Kurdish conflict. An initiative of Army Gen. Ray T. Odierno, the commander of American troops in Iraq, the deployment of U.S., Arab and Kurdish forces was originally billed as a means to protect lightly guarded towns and villages on both sides of the line that were hit last summer by Al Qaeda in Iraq suicide bombings." But how effective these exercises can be in the best of times is unknown and certainly Kurdish forces are not experiencing the best of times as northern Iraq remains under assault by the Turkish and Iranian military. With at least two Turkish soldiers killed this week in border clashes with the PKK, the Turkish military has been bombing northern Iraq and sent in at least 800 soldiers on the ground. You really think 'team building' is going to take or this is the time?

Ivan Watson and Yesim Comert (CNN) report that Turkish officials say they've pulled their soldiers out of Iraq and that "At least 12 Turkish soldiers and sailors have been killed by increasingly bold rebel attacks over the last three weeks. But the fighting has been upstaged by Turkey's rapidly deteriorating relations with former ally Israel." The fighting has been upstaged by whom? By a media that can't cover more than one story at a time? By a feeding frenzy resulting from a bunch of chicken s**t producers and editors who are so scared of losing their jobs that they cover exactly what everyone else is covering because everyone else is covering it?

And Iran? Ranj Alaaldin (Guardian) notes:

Over the past month Iran has continuously and relentlessly shelled villages along its border with Iraqi Kurdistan, displacing thousands, wounding many and killing one 14-year-old girl.
The ostensible target of these attacks is the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan, an Iranian-Kurdish militant movement known as Pejak. However, the decision to send military units across the border and establish bases (according to Kurdish sources) could be part of a broader Iranian strategy to maintain a long-term physical presence inside Kurdish territory. At the very least it is a provocative measure that Iran may justify on the basis of what it considers to be a threat posed by Pejak, but the reasons may go beyond this.
Cross-border incursions (shelling included) have been a convenient way for neighbouring states to send a subtle message to Iraq's political actors. This includes reminding them of the limitations on the level of success they can achieve, particularly as American troops withdraw.

The 14-year-old he's mentioning was Basouz Jabbar Agha. And the Iranian military entered Iraq and set up a base in northern Iraq. (Which Iran will no doubt insist -- if outlets produce photos -- is really on the Iranian side of the border and that Iraq is trying to advance into their territory. Similar to the 'explanations' offered when Iran attempted to seize an Iraqi oil well (last December).

Meanwhile Middle East Newsline reports that the "U.S." military has asserted that Iraq does not intend to shut down an Iranian opposition camp." That's Camp Ashraf. US Lt Col Bob Owen is quoted stating, "United States Forces-Iraq has absolutely no control over Camp Ashraf. Camp Ashraf is in the complete hands of the government of Iraq. Camp Ashraf is not closing on July 1st." Camp Grizzly, the US base, is closing and it's said to have 'protected' the MEK residents of Camp Ashraf. Said to? The assault last July by Nouri's forces was carried out in full of the US military and they did nothing to stop it. Earlier the US government and military had promised the residents protection and led them to believe this was protection with no end-date. Whereas the Bush administration was not afraid to press on this issue, the Obama administration has never known what the hell was going on in Iraq. (Call it "Chris Hill Syndrome.") A year after the deadly assault, Camp Grizzly is closing and the US military's flacks are insisting to the press that Camp Ashraf, like a Celine Dion song, will go on.

This in contrast to a report Press TV is carrying which has Iraq eager to crack down on the MEK. The report is filled with laughable assertions about 'terrorist operations' in Iran -- current and future -- when the MEK in Iraq is not shuttling back and forth to Iran. The Iranian government has also accused the United Kingdom of backing the MEK (under the Bush Doctrine and the Obama Doctrine, that allegation alone gives Iran the 'right' to bomb the United Kingdom). Sify reports the UK Foreign Office denies the charges. Reuters notes that Iran is also accusing "France, Sweden and other Western nations" of the same support and claiming that they arrested MEK from Iraq on Saturday in Tehran while residents of Camp Ashraf deny the charge. As all the above takes place, Benjamin Harvey (Bloomberg News) reports Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan denies that Iran is an ally of his country. The article avoids the two countries (Turkey and Iran) attacking northern Iraq and Kurdish terrorists or 'terrorists.'

The Kurdish region was the subject of a report issued yesterday. Human Rights Watch released "They Took Me and Told Me Nothing: Female Genital Mutilation in Iraqi Kurdistan" (link goes to HTML overview, report is in PDF format). The 80-page report documents the continued and widespread practice of FGM in the KRG. Besides the wire services, the New York Times' Namo Abdulla and Timothy Williams, CNN and BBC's Jim Muir covered the report. At Babylon & Beyond (Los Angeles Times blog), Becky Lee Katz and Asso Ahmed note:

Nadya Khalife, a Middle East and North Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch, called for action from the Kurdish authorities. “FGM violates women’s and children’s rights, including their rights to life, health, and bodily integrity. It’s time for the regional government to step up to the plate and take concrete actions to eliminate this harmful practice because it simply won’t go away on its own," Khalife said.
"Eradicating it in Iraqi Kurdistan will require strong and dedicated leadership on the part of the regional government, including a clear message that FGM will no longer be tolerated."

Stephen Jones (Epoch Times) also covers the report:

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines FGM as comprising "all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for nonmedical reasons."
FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women, says the WHO.
The practice is relatively uncommon in the rest of Iraq, but has taken root in Kurdistan, where it is sometimes advocated by local Sunni Muslim clerics.

You can also refer to Jason Van Boom's "Call for Kurdistan to Ban Female Genital Cutting" (Illume).

Turning to the Gulf Disaster, Senator Byron Dorgan is the Chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee and he addresses the Disaster in the video below.

And we'll close with this from World Can't Wait's "Obama's Capitalist Drilling + Oil Spilling + Planet Killing!:"

On April 20th 2010 the world witnessed what is becoming one of the worst man made environmental disasters in history. The oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon oil platform will have severe consequences for humanity and life on the planet for years to come.
And who is too blame?
While mainstream media and the Democrats want to pretend that this disaster is just another problem left over from the Bush Regime that Obama was encumbered with, Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report in his article Yes, Obama Is 'Engaged' – in a Colossal Crime put it this way, "Any meaningful discussion of the oceanic version of Chernobyl would challenge a political system in which huge corporations are empowered to seek profits with absolutely no regard for the consequences to Earth or Man." And Ford is dead on here. Obama is engaged in a colossal crime and has been since before his election. Ford quoted a statement from Obama during a campaign speech in August 2008 in Florida,
"My interest is in making sure we've got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices. If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage – I don't want to be so rigid that we can't get something done."

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