Saturday, June 05, 2010

Iraqiya candidate assassinated, Sahwa stripped of right to bear arms

In Iraq, the violence never ends. Anthony Shadid (New York Times) reports that assailants (in Iraqi soldier and officer uniforms) have shot dead Faris Jassim al-Jabbouri who is a member of Iraqiya and had been a candidate (unsuccessful) for Parliament in the March elections. He is the third Iraqiya candidate to be shot dead. Moreover, Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) observes, "Al Jubori is the third candidate killed in Mosul from the same bloc." [Correction 6-6-10, One month] before the election, one was shot dead and last month another was shot dead. Jamal al-Badrani, Muhanad Mohammed, Matt Robinson and Jon Boyle (Reuters) report on the assassination but with a different twist, "A police source, who asked not to be named, said Jubouri was shot dead by gunmen in police uniform overnight in his home near the restive northern city of Mosul." Reuters also notes a late Friday Baghdad roadside bombing which injured 6 people. In other Friday violence, Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) notes a Diyala Province roadside bombing which claimed 2 lives and a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed 2 lives (four more wounded) -- these are in addition to bombings noted in yesterday's snapshot and today Mohammed Al Dulaimy notes a Baquba roadside bombing today which left two Iraqi soldiers wounded.

Meanwhile the targeting of Sunnis by the government or 'government' continues. Hilmi Kamal (Reuters) reports that the country's military states that Sahwa ("Awakenings" or "Sons Of Iraq") are no longer allowed to carry weapons, "Today, Saturday, we received an order from the Defence Ministry ground forces leadership to withdraw all the badges of Sahwa personnel and replace them with new ones that do not authorize them to carry weapons." It's certainly interesting timing. One could even argue Nouri was planning an assault on the Sunnis -- as opposed to these one at a time killings -- and that's why he was disarming the Sahwa. There is a context that this is taking place in: Nouri's refusal to stand down. As with everything else he's done in the last three months, this has to do with his desire to hold onto the position of prime minister. Since the Parliament is supposed to be sitting (for the first time, new Parliament) within two weeks, why is Nouri issuing orders? Again, there's a context, it's the same one that goes to the deals he's signed after elections concluded March 7th -- deals with foreign corporations and on control of Iraqi assets. There is a context for this.

The Independent of London reports that following his description on BBC1's Question as one of "the two most duplicitious men in public life" (Peter Mandelson being the other one), War Hawk and Tony Blair's platonic lover Alastair Campbell sniffed, "It doesn't bother me. It just doesn't bother me. If you've been compared to Goebbles, and occasionally Hitler, and Pol Pot and Rasputing -- it doesn't bother me." Gee, if all these comparisons are being made, might it be time for you to do a serious self-inventory?

This week, the wall-to-wall was Israel and Palestine. Iraqi Pundit raised some issues that you can be sure other people (especially Iraqis) noticed as well:

This news was greeted with anger and several demonstrations and protests against in several Middle East capital cities. The TV stations have non-stop coverage of this story. Who can blame them? Nobody deserves to be killed. But I do understand that the activists had to know there would be trouble when they heard the Israeli warnings. And the Israeli soldiers know they face death every day when they put on their uniforms. I repeat, nobody deserves to be killed. But why is it that so often people are more horrified by the deaths of Palestinians than others?
This brings me to ask again where are the protests when Iraqis are killed while buying vegetables at the market, offering condolences at funerals, going to school, or engaging in other ordinary civilian activities. The message is when Palestinians or their supporters die, it's a tragedy. When Iraqis die, it's just another news story. Why?

And we'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "USA: Acronym for United States of Assassinations?" (CounterCurrents):

What the United Nations independent investigator on extrajudicial killings would like is for countries that employ surprise drone attacks to first prove they have attempted to capture or incapacitate suspects. The investigator, Philip Alston, issued a 29-page report Wednesday that the New York Times termed “Highly Critical” of such attacks by the U.S. and, says the Associated Press, “called on countries to lay out rules and safeguards for carrying out the strikes.” By going after terrorist networks, Alston warned, the U.S. example “could quickly lead to a situation in which dozens of countries carry out ‘competing drone attacks’ outside their borders against people ‘labeled as terrorists by one group or another,’” Charlie Savage reported for the Times. “I’m particularly concerned that the United States seems oblivious to this fact when it asserts an ever-expanding entitlement for itself to target individuals across the globe,” Alston is quoted as saying. “This expansive and open-ended interpretation of the right to self-defense goes a long way towards destroying the prohibition on the use of armed force contained in the U.N. Charter,” Alston pointed out.

Alston can demand restraint all he likes but the administration of Nobel Peace Prize recipient Barack Obama is not apt to listen. Obama has dramatically stepped up such attacks by the CIA over the occasional sorties resorted to by his predecessor. Washington’s thinking appears to be, Why should U.S. troops risk storming some alleged terrorist hideout when a CIA operator in far-off Langley, Va., needs only to manipulate a computer screen to have a drone wipe them out?

Reasons against using the drones include the possibility there may be innocent persons in the same building as the alleged terrorists. Only a week ago the military conceded its own drone operators called in an airstrike in February that killed 23 Afghan civilians, including women and children. Another argument against drones is that the alleged terrorists have no opportunity to surrender or to get a jury trial. The U.N.’s Alston also warns that for CIA operators thousands of miles from the point of attack “there is a risk of developing a ‘PlayStation’ mentality to killing.” Yet another argument against the drones is that the survivors of those killed regard such attacks as cowardly and each successful (from the CIA’s viewpoint) air strike only increases the public’s resolve to resist the U.S. occupation. Friends and relatives of the slain innocents turn bitterly against the U.S. This situation, by the way, is nothing new. U.S. and British air attacks on German facilities in occupied France during World War II were frequently so off target that the French Resistance pleaded with the U.S. to stop the bombing and to let them take out the Nazi targets from the ground, even at great risk to themselves. Sadly, 70,000 French civilians were killed by Allied aerial bombardments gone awry. “So far,” says international legal authority Francis Boyle of the University of Illinois at Champaign, “all CIA drone attacks have been murders, assassinations, and extrajudicial executions--a grave violation of international human rights law, the laws of the countries where the attacks took place, and of US domestic law.” Boyle added, “All CIA drone strikes in Pakistan are criminal and a grave violation of international human rights law.”

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