Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The never-ending stalemate and Basra and the Brits

Syria's Day Press reports, "President [Bashar] al-Assad's received on Wednesday a delegation from the Iraqi List led by Iyad Allawi. Talks dealt with the latest developments in Iraq and the ongoing efforts and negotiations among different Iraqi blocs to form an Iraqi government." DPA adds, "Allawi's meeting in Syria comes as a coalition of Iraqi Shiites, known as the National Alliance, are due to hold a third day of talks Wednesday evening after they failed to meet their own deadline to nominate a candidate for the position of prime minister." While that meeting was going on, Alsumaria TV notes, "Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al Moallem discussed with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon the situation in Iraq. [. . .] The Syrian Foreign Minister affirmed that Iraq’s security is bound to the country’s national unity stressing the necessity for all Iraqi components to take part in shaping up Iraq’s future."

And if you're late to the ongoing stalemate, March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted last month, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's six months and twenty-two days with no government formed.

It takes a lot of stupid to hail 'progress' in Iraq when they have no government, when elections took place over six months ago and the results were not honored. When Nouri's term long ago expired but he remains in office, not as a 'caretaker,' but as a tyrant. And if you're missing the point, Alsumaria TV reports, "The Iraqi cabinet Tuesday approved a $733 million deal for Leighton Offshore Private Ltd. Singaporean Oil Company to build a new oil export terminal in the southern city of Basra, a spokesman for the Iraqi government said." That's not the actions of a caretaker government. A caretaker government ensures that electricity is supplied, that trash is picked up -- all the things Nouri's government has FAILED to do. A caretaker government does not negotiate a multi-million dollar contract.

WikiLeaks is set to release documents on the Iraq War in the coming weeks. If you missed it, the US government has launched a disinformation campaign. Behaving like a CIA-front group, Wired (non-magazine) has farmed out one attack on WikiLeaks after another. Maybe that's how Wired remains around despite its lousy business model? I don't know. I just know that convicted felons aren't taken seriously by real journalists but Wired has long been in bed with the felon who turned snitch. And I know that Wired is now attacking WikiLeaks with more lies which some are more than willing to advance. We're not interested.

We've focused on the information WikiLeaks provides. We never repeated the alleged criminal charges against Julian Assange -- and you'll note how they didn't stick, those 'explosive' charges. Wired's now trying to paint Julian as an ego maniac. They have a helper in a whore who is claiming that even pro WikiLeaks people were bothered that the Afghanistan document release did not redact names. Excuse me?

Yeah, there were the usual posers and a few human rights groups who were uncomfortable or worse with that. But we're sympathetic to them -- and we're far from alone -- and have never attacked them for not redacting the names. It's not their job to redact. (They'll reported redact the names on the Iraq release.) It's their job and their mission to put information out there. If you don't like that, too bad, but that's their mission. So some collaborators got exposed?

Guess what, happens all the time with collaborators. I'm sorry a collaborator is so damn stupid that didn't know history. But that is what happens. "Their lives are in danger!" Their lives were in danger for collaboration the moment they started to collaborate. Again, check the historical record and stop being such an alarmist nervous Nell. Boo-hoo, that's what being a collaborator brings. Equally true, collaborator or not, they're in danger because they're in a war zone and WikiLeaks didn't send in an army of troops to start a war.

There are a number of e-mails asking why we aren't responding to this charge or that charge about WikiLeaks. The only charge about WikiLeaks that ever matters is if they have documents that are not legitimate. Everything else is a distraction. Do they do the job they set out to do, the job they defined? Thus far, they do.

Defence Management Journal reports:

The British withdrawal from Basra in 2007 was "a huge mistake" and a "defeat" for the British Army, according to senior American commanders.
In the BBC's Secret Iraq documentary, one US General said the move by British troops from Basra Palace in the city centre to Basra International Airport left local people to be "terrorised" by militias.
General Jack Keane (ret'd) told the BBC's Secret Iraq programme: "I think it was a huge mistake to pull out of Basra and to go out to the airfield and to leave the people of Basra to be subjected to the Iranian surrogates who brutalised them, intimidated them, terrorised them."

In real time, we noted the regional withdrawal and then the Basra one and how embarrassing it was for the British military. Since, we've noted how the Iraq Inquiry has bent over backwards to avoid exploring those realities. (Known realities. Shortly before the Basra pullout, there was the abandoned base in the area, abandoned due to attacks, which the British military fled and which was torn apart by attackers in less than 24 hours.) Few outlets noted the reality on the British military mission in Iraq -- and even fewer of US outlets noted it. The Telegraph of London always covered it and today their Thomas Harding reports:

Some of the evidence in BBC Two's Secret Iraq was not given to the Chilcott Inquiry into Iraq. The comments will revive debate about whether the British pull-out from Basra in September 2007 was a prudent tactical move or a humiliating retreat.
The retired US general Jack Keane says: ''I think it was a huge mistake to pull out . . . and to leave the people of Basra subject to the Iranian surrogates who brutalised them, intimidated them, terrorised them."
A US colonel, Peter Mansoor, who was executive officer to the US commander Gen David Petraeus, says Basra was in "dire straits". "I don't know that you could see the British withdrawal from Basra in 2007 in any other light other than a defeat," he said.

BBC News adds

In the last three months of 2007, after the British pulled out of the centre of Basra, 45 women were killed by the militia for "un-Islamic" behaviour.
"They started killing unveiled women," one long-term Basra resident recalled.
"I had to buy an AK-47 for personal protection. They started killing people who sell alcoholic drinks and barbers who shave beards."

And we'll again close with this announcement from World Can't Wait:

Wednesday October 20 7:00 pm
Screening: Collateral Murder

Posted by in 2010, this film is shot from U.S. Army Apache helicopters in 2007 in Baghdad, as they kill 12 Iraqi civilians, including two journalists. The Army is charging Army Intelligence Specialist Sgt Bradley Manning with the leak.

Ethan McCord, shown in the film rescuing 2 injured children, and Josh Stieber, another dissident veteran of Bravo Company 2-16, the unit responsible for the killings, will discuss the incident, and their opposition to continued American military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

LGBT Center, 208 West 13th St, NYC

Sponsored by World Can't Wait 866 973 4463

The event will be professionally webcast @

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