Monday, September 20, 2010

Violence continues in Baghdad today as does the stalemate

Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports today has already seen two mortar attacks on the Green Zone, a Baghdad car bombing which left seven Iraqi soldiers injured and a Baghdad roadside bombing which left two people injured. This follows yesterday's assault which Janine Zacharia and Aziz Alwan (Washington Post) summarize as six Baghdad car bombings and a Falluja suicide bomber claiming 37 lives and leaving over one hundred people injured. Michael Jansen (Irish Times) obseves, "The attacks on both Sunni and Shia civilians were a departure from insurgents' recent strategy of targeting military installations, police posts and government offices. Attacks on civilians going about their daily rounds are designed to undermine public confidence in Iraq’s armed forces and police which have assumed full responsibility for security following the end of US combat operations in the country." Meanwhile Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) reports on the continued political stalemate:

Two dozen members of Iraq's newly elected Parliament, including leaders of most of the main coalitions, actually met in Parliament here on Sunday.
"The people have cast their votes," one of them, Mahmoud Othman, told the rest. "We cannot ignore them."
In fact, they can and have, and after the unofficial rump session on Sunday of a body elected more than six months ago but still not functioning, it was clear they might continue to do so for some time to come.

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 thirteen days with no government formed.

Press TV reports, "Iran, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey will attend the seventh conference of the Interior Ministers of Iraq's Neighboring Countries" on Tuesday. This month is supposed to be 'big.' Iraq's supposed to be on the verge of forming a government finally! It's allegedly been on the verge of that for over six months now. Nouri has promised that stalemate over or continued, Iraq will finally have a census this month. (This was supposed to have taken place years ago and is required by the country's Constitution.) Nothing, Nouri has maintained, will stop it. However, nothing was supposed to stop this month's gas field auctions either . . . and . . . yet Jijo Jacob (International Business Times) reports that the bidding on three fields has been postponed until October 20th.

On WBAI this morning Law and Disorder Radio (10:00 a.m. EST over the airwaves and also streams live online at WBAI and streams at anytime at its own website and airs on other radio stations throughout the week), hosts Michael Ratner, Heidi Boghosian and Michael Smith address a number of issues including, with Iraq Veterans Against the War's Jose Vasquez, the issue of Iraq. Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Stand Up Barack" went up yesterday. And we'll close with Gene Clancy's "Iraqi prisoners escape U.S. custody" (Workers World):

On July 15, as part of their ballyhooed “withdrawal” from Iraq, U.S. officials under the command of Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno handed over an infamous U.S. prison, Camp Cropper, to the Iraqi puppet government. Although they ceremoniously gave a large wooden key to the Iraqi military, about 200 of the 1,500 inmates remained under U.S. control, guarded by U.S. soldiers. The 200 include former members of Saddam Hussein’s government and senior foreign and Iraqi insurgents.

A few days later, four “high value” prisoners escaped from the Iraqi-controlled part of the facility, now renamed Camp Karkh. Several Iraqi guards and the new warden also went missing.

Many pundits in the U.S. were aghast and wondered aloud about the quality of the Iraqi military that is supposed to take up the slack left by departing U.S. troops.

Now, the U.S. occupation has a new reason to be embarrassed. On Sept. 9, four more “dangerous” Iraqis escaped from the same prison, only this time it was from the U.S.-controlled section, dubbed Compound 5 and guarded by U.S. soldiers. The U.S. command offered no details on how the escape happened, who was to blame, or who the people were that escaped. An Iraqi military spokesperson, Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, said that the men were facing the death penalty.

A spokesperson for new U.S. Ground Commander Gen. Lloyd Austin, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the “sensitivity” of the matter, said the general had apologized to Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki.

As of Sept. 12, none of the escapees had been captured. Residents of the Jihad neighborhood located near the prison reported a virtual lockdown of the area: Local people were banned from driving their cars.

A place for torture

Camp Cropper was originally built to handle captured members of the government of Saddam Hussein. Hussein himself was held there during his illegal trial and execution.

During the so-called surge in Iraq, Camp Cropper became infamous, along with other U.S. prisons in Iraq. While the U.S. media trumpeted the policy of “winning hearts and minds,” U.S. troops indiscriminately swept up civilians in brutal raids and deposited them in prisons like Camp Cropper. ABC-TV in 2007 reported widespread overcrowding with sewage backed up and covering the floor. One inmate reported being unjustly arrested and suffering for two years before being released with no hearing or trial.

Gen. Odierno, an architect of the “surge,” was referred to as a “bash, mash and slash” officer by other members of the military. (Shrapnel online magazine, Aug. 10) Apparently, this was supposed to be a compliment.

In the past Odierno was often noted for opposing an early pullout of U.S, troops. Sympathizers with his position decried the “weak” Iraqi forces fielded by the Iraqi government.

The theme of an imperialist power despising its own puppet allies, often with racist overtones, is a constant one, starting with the Romans and continuing with the British in India and Afghanistan and the U.S. in Vietnam. Seldom if ever does an occupying power consider that their own imperialist policy is the problem in the first place.

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