Thursday, September 09, 2010

1 of the 2 soldiers shot dead Tuesday is identifed

Wednesday evening in Concord, where McClamrock's parents and five siblings live, friends gathered at Concord ARP Church, where his father is the pastor.
They recalled a deeply religious young man who had joined the Army a year ago after feeling a divine calling. They prayed for the families of the other dead soldier and the nine wounded soldiers.

The above is from David Perlmutt's "S.C. native killed after combat role ends in Iraq" (South Carolina's Herlad) about the Tuesday death of Pfc James McClamrock, one of 2 soldiers shot dead in northern Iraq. He was 22-years-old and his 18-year-old sister Kathryn shares how she learned her brother was dead. Meanwhile Xinhua reports, "A preliminary result of an investigation into Tuesday's shooting incident, during which two U. S. soldiers were killed by an Iraqi soldier in northern Iraq, indicated that the attack was a "deliberate" one, the U.S. military said in a statement on Wednesday." Along with the 2 US soldiers killed in the attack, nine more were wounded. Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) notes this of Soran Rahman Falih Wali, the shooter who was killed:

A relative, Zargan Kfoor, described Mr. Wali as a dedicated soldier who had recently married and become more devout. Only hours before the attack, he and an official on the base said, Mr. Wali had escorted eight detainees to a police operations room on the base.
"At the time, he was not angry about anything, and his attitude was good," said the official, Awni Abdul Hussein.
Mr. Kfoor, however, said that Mr. Wali had been teased by some of the Americans he worked with, possibly because of his religious views.
"His reactions were very strong," he said.

In the face of the false cries that the Iraq War is over, Scott Taylor (Halifax Herald) explores some realities:

Given that about 50,000 U.S. troops — including about 4,500 Special Forces troops and overwhelming tactical air assets — will remain in Iraq for at least another year, one can hardly claim that U.S. military involvement has concluded. When you add to that total the tens of thousands of foreign, private, security contractors who still ply their trade in Iraq, even the self-delusional would be hard pressed to argue that the American occupation has ended.
However, for those who will themselves into believing that the ordeal is over, there is still no denying that the entire war was a fiasco. The numbers do not lie.
Between March 20, 2003, when the first aerial bombardment began in Baghdad, and May 1 of that year, when former president George Bush stood on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and proclaimed an end to all major combat operations in Iraq, 139 American soldiers had lost their lives in the so-called combat phase.
During the Americans’ post seven-year rebuilding phase, the U.S. troop death toll climbed to 4,427 with another 34,265 wounded and injured in Iraq.
The price tag for the Americans’ involvement in Iraq has been pegged at over $750 billion dollars. That figure, of course, does not include the destruction of Iraqi buildings and infrastructure.

The following community sites -- and -- updated last night:

Jake Hess is the reporter the Turkish government imprisoned. He's now been released and he speaks with his imprisonment to Margaree Little and Shaun Joseph (US Socialist Worker). From the interview we'll emphasize this section:

[Socialist Worker]: WHAT IS U.S. policy with regards to Turkey and the Kurds? Why does the U.S. seem to be hostile to Kurds in Turkey, yet allied with the Kurds in Iraq?

Jake Hess: WELL, THE U.S. doesn't really have a policy toward the Kurds as a people; they're viewed as a minority in the various countries they live in. The U.S. presumably looks at the Roma of Europe in the same way, for example. The U.S. record on Kurdish issues in disgraceful in both Iraq and Turkey. Currently, the U.S. is trying to maintain good relations with Iraqi Kurds, as the area under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government is one of the few reasonably peaceful, stable and pro-American areas in Iraq. (As an example of how safe it is, I even hitchhiked when I was there.) For their part, Iraqi Kurds generally support the U.S. project in Iraq and want the U.S. to stay. They're afraid a U.S. withdrawal could result in the emergence of a new dictator, ethnic war spreading to the Kurdish areas and any number of other undesirable outcomes. The Iraqi Kurds are a traumatized people, and they want to prevent another disaster from occurring. It hasn't always been like this, of course. The U.S. has betrayed Iraqi Kurds several times. For example, in the 1970s, the Nixon administration encouraged Iraqi Kurds to revolt against the Baghdad government in order to help give the Shah of Iran leverage in a border dispute with Iraq. Nixon and Kissinger poured $16 million worth of secret aid into the conflict and armed the Kurds with Soviet weapons distributed by Israel. The U.S. abruptly cut off the funding after Iran and Iraq settled their dispute, leaving the Kurds vulnerable to an Iraqi crackdown that ended with thousands of deaths and some 200,000 refugees, according to the Pike Committee Report, which added that the Kurds might have reached an agreement with Baghdad, had the U.S. not encouraged them to hold out. As is well known, the U.S. went on to support Saddam Hussein's vicious repression of the Kurds in the 1980s and 1990s, leading to unbelievable slaughter and hardship, but the people who were responsible for these things during the Reagan and first Bush administrations remembered that they loved the Kurds of Iraq when it came time to invade again in 2003. Some people express their love in ways that the rest of us find difficult to understand. The U.S. supplied Turkey with the majority of the weaponry it used to depopulate Kurdish villages and commit other human rights violations in the 1990s, as the Arms Trade Resource Center and Human Rights Watch have documented in outstanding reports. Despite the fact that they have never attacked U.S. citizens of the U.S. itself, the Bush administration deemed the PKK a "common enemy" of Iraq, Turkey and the U.S. in 2007, and the U.S. has provided Turkey with actionable intelligence on PKK positions across the border.
As the recently departed U.S. ambassador to Turkey, James Jeffrey, pointed out, Washington and Ankara are currently exploring ways to deepen their common war against the PKK, including through new arms sales. Jeffrey said, "We're trying to get as much as possible for Turkey as soon as possible."

There's much more of interest in the interview but we went with the section on Iraq. Of interest to the Kurds in Iraq is the disputed (and oil-rich) region of Kirkuk which both the KRG and the government or 'government' out of Baghdad claims. Long forgotten is that a census was supposed to take plaace and a referendum on the issue of Kirkuk. Allegedly the long delayed census will take place next month -- and Nouri and company insist that is the case whether or not a prime minister has been picked. Gilbert Gatehouse reported from the region on Tuesday's The World (PRI -- link has audio and text):

GATEHOUSE: And, whether the Iraqis here like it or not, that is exactly what the Americans are going to do, by the end of next year. For the moment it all seems to be working terribly well. We’ve got Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen patrolling these villages together and hanging out with the local kids. The question there is, what happens when the Americans take themselves out of this equation and leave the Arabs and the Kurds to keep the peace between themselves on their own. I meet Ibrahim Jibrail in the house of the village “mukhtar,” or leader. Jibrail wears the traditional baggy Kurdish tunic and a turban.


GATEHOUSE: He lived through Saddam Hussein’s attempt at ethnic cleansing and he says that if the American soldiers leave, that cooperation we’ve seen could easily falter, and the conflict between Arabs and Kurds could break out again. The rapid reduction in the number of American troops in Iraq has been accompanied by a show of almost unshakeable optimism, at least in public, on the part of the US military and the State Department. And yet, their outgoing overall military commander here, General Raymond Odierno, said recently that UN forces might be needed to keep the peace between the Arabs and the Kurds after the US fully withdraws at the end of next year. The commanding officer in charge of Kirkuk, Colonel Larry Swift, is more cautious.

LARRY SWIFT: Political problems, absolutely. We’ve got them right now. Plenty of them. The issue has been, and will continue to be, are Kirkuk’s problems going to remain in the political realm. I think it’s going to be an extraordinary challenge for those inside the provincial council in the government of Iraq and the [SOUNDS LIKE] Kurd Regional Government, and in the State Department to sort these things out. But I think everyone agrees that if it spills over to any other realm, everyone’s going to lose.

GATEHOUSE: The trouble is, Kirkuk and its surrounding area sits on a sea of oil. And with so much historical baggage, without the Americans to keep the two sides apart, the fear is that the Arabs and the Kurds could decide that the only way to resolve those problems is through a return to conflict. For The World, I’m Gilbert Gatehouse, Kirkuk.

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends