Friday, November 26, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the US government stands accused of aiding a group they've designated as a "terrorist organization," Rome prays for Iraqi Christiains while other countries work to expell them, Thug Nouri 'officially' is named prime minister designate, and more.
Today violence continues in Iraq and let's start there.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing which injured three people, a second which injured six and 2 Tikrit roadside bombing which claimed 3 lives and left twenty-two people injured. Yesterday Reuters noted a Samarra roadside bombing which injured "police officer Nabeel Abbas Ashraf, head of the Huwaish police station, and two of his body guards," 2 Tuz Khurmato roadside bombing which injured two children and four Iraqi soldiers, another Tuz Khurmato roadside bombing which injured a police officer, a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded three people (including one Iraqi soldier) and a Baaj grenade attack claimed the life of 1 tailor.
The Iraq War is not about oil many insist. Then why is human life worth so damn little to the press? Hammoudi reports on it, Reuters reports on it. That's really it. Contrast that with the oil tanker -- OIL tanker -- exploding. Alsumaria TV reports it was "an accident," that it claimed 2 lives with nine more wounded and the explosion took palce "on the Iraqi-Jordan border" yesterday. CNN covers itReuters covers it.. AP covers it. Press TV covers it. Bloomberg News covers it. AFP covers it. BBC News covers it. We can go on and on but I believe the point is made. It's not the 'numbers' because 2 (or 3 lives -- on is misisng in some reports, in others the person is listed as dead) and nine injured is less than 4 killed and thirty-one injured. But one gets massive attention. And then some wonder why people -- like Alan Greenspan? -- say the Iraq War was all about oil?
It certainly wasn't about creating a democracy. March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "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. November 10th a power sharing deal resulted in the Parliament meeting for the second time and voting in a Speaker. And then Iraqiya felt double crossed on the deal and the bulk of their members stormed out of the Parliament. David Ignatius (Washington Post) explains, "The fragility of the coalition was dramatically obvious Thursday as members of the Iraqiya party, which represents Sunnis, walked out of Parliament, claiming that they were already being double-crossed by Maliki. Iraqi politics is always an exercise in brinkmanship, and the compromises unfortunately remain of the save-your-neck variety, rather than reflecting a deeper accord. " After that, Jalal Talabani was voted President of Iraq. Talabani then named Nouri as the prime minister-delegate. If Nouri can meet the conditions outlined in Article 76 of the Constitution (basically nominate ministers for each council and have Parliament vote to approve each one with a minimum of 163 votes each time and to vote for his council program) within thirty days, he becomes the prime minister. If not, Talabani must name another prime minister-delegate. . In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister-delegate. It took eight months and two days to name Nouri as prime minister-delegate. His first go-round, on April 22, 2006, his thirty day limit kicked in. May 20, 2006, he announced his cabinet -- sort of. Sort of because he didn't nominate a Minister of Defense, a Minister of Interior and a Minister of a Natioanl Security. This was accomplished, John F. Burns wrote in "For Some, a Last, Best Hope for U.S. Efforts in Iraq" (New York Times), only with "muscular" assistance from the Bush White House. Nouri declared he would be the Interior Ministry temporarily. Temporarily lasted until June 8, 2006. This was when the US was able to strong-arm, when they'd knocked out the other choice for prime minister (Ibrahim al-Jaafari) to install puppet Nouri and when they had over 100,000 troops on the ground in Iraq. Nouri had no competition. That's very different from today. The Constitution is very clear and it is doubtful his opponents -- including within his own alliance -- will look the other way if he can't fill all the posts in 30 days. As Leila Fadel (Washington Post) observes, "With the three top slots resolved, Maliki will now begin to distribute ministries and other top jobs, a process that has the potential to be as divisive as the initial phase of government formation." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) points out, "Maliki now has 30 days to decide on cabinet posts - some of which will likely go to Iraqiya - and put together a full government. His governing coalition owes part of its existence to followers of hard-line cleric Muqtada al Sadr, leading Sunnis and others to believe that his government will be indebted to Iran." The stalemate ends when the country has a prime minister. It is now eight months, nineteen days and counting. Yesterday, Thursday November 25th, Nouri was finally 'officially' named prime minister-designate. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) explains, "In 30 days, he is to present his cabinet to parliament or lose the nomination." Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) adds, "Even if Mr. Maliki meets the 30-day deadline in late December -- which is not a certainty, given the chronic disregard for legal deadlines in Iraqi politics -- the country will have spent more than nine months under a caretaker government without a functioning legislature. Many of Iraq's most critical needs -- from basic services to investment -- have remained unaddressed throughout the impasse." Jane Arraf (Al Jazeera) offered, "He has an extremely difficult task ahed of him, these next 30 days are going to be a very tough sell for all of these parties that all want something very important in this government. It took a record eight months to actually come up with this coalition, but now what al-Maliki has to do is put all those people in the competing positins that backed him into slots in the government and he has a month to day that from today."
Thug Nouri brokered a deal with -- among others -- Moqtada al-Sadr to remain as dictator of Iraq. Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports, "The Mahdi Army has also in effect seized control of cellblocks at one of Iraq's largest detention facilities, Taji prison. Within months of the U.S. hand-over of the prison in March, Mahdi Army detainees were giving orders to guards who were either loyal to or intimidated by them, Iraqi and U.S. officials say [. . .] Senior Sadr supporters are being brought into the Interior Ministry at high-level positions, according to Mahdi Army members and Iraqi officers. One Sadr commander who is being given the rank of brigadier general said he knew of 50 others who were being recruited for officers' positions." And if there's anything more frightening than the current Iraq prison system it's grasping that the Mahdi Army is more or less in charge of some of them. Paul Walsh (Minneapolis Star Tribune) reports that the Minnesota National Guard is sending 80 members to Iraq and the question should be why?
The government in Iraq is nothing but exiles installed by the US. It's not a real government, it's not of the people -- easily demonstrated when the people's voice was rejected this month. So why is the US military being used to prop up this corrupt regime? And when does it end?
The 'government' lacks the consent of the governed. So to keep these exiles in place, the US military will have to stay on the ground in Iraq for years to come?
That's not democracy, that's thwarting the will of the people.
Condemning the recent attacks on Christian communities in Iraq, Parliament calls on EU High representative Catherine Ashton to treat the problem of the safety of Christians within Iraqi borders as a priority and urges the Iraqi authorities to "drastically increase their efforts for the protection of Christian and vulnerable communities". MEPs also call on the European Union to strengthen the fight against terrorism.
Iraqi Christians have been targeted throughout the illegal war. The latest wave of attacks began October 31st with the assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad in which at least 70 people were killed and at least 70 were injured. Adnkronos reports that 7 hand written threats against Iraqi Christians have turned up throughout Baghdad this week and they quote "Christian community leader" Abdullah al-Nawafili stating, "Threats of these types have been coming in over the past few days that push us to leave the country." Vatican Radio reports that Cardinal Leonardo Sandri delivered a liturgy last night at St Peter's Bascilica in Rome and called for "peace and reconciliation":
Survivors from that terrible tragedy, who since November 11th have been receiving treatment in Rome's Gemelli hospital, were also present Thursday. They were the physical testimony of the wounds that the Iraqi Christian community has suffered and continues to suffer, for the faith. Speaking to them Cardinal Sandri spoke of the saving mystery of martyrdom. "Our thoughts, hearts and prayers go to Iraq and many other parts of the world, where to this day loyalty to baptism is answered in blood, for He who loved us to the Cross."
The targeting of various minorities in Iraq has led to the region's largest refugee crisis in years. Jennifer Macey (Australia's ABC) reports on Salah Azuhari, a Mandaean who fears persecution should Australia force him to return to Iraq. Guess what happened in Iraq? The Mehdi militia and Badr militia attacked his family. ABC's Hana Vieva translated his story, "He and his family were tortured, his family was bombed. His uncle received a nail to his head. So they basically bashed a nail through his brain. He was susequently kidnapped, tortured and put around dead bodies, other dead bodies." Salah, like other Iraqi refugees seeking asylum around the world, has no idea whether or not he will be granted santuary. The British government plans to keep deporting but human rights don't matter in the United Kingdom, apparently. Rosalind English (UK Human Rights Blog) notes one road bloc to the government's plan to deport:
Now the European Court of Human Rights has informed the UK government that it would apply "Rule 39″ to any Iraqi challenging their deportation. Rule 39 of the Rules of Court means, in effect, that anyone from Iraq who takes their case to the European Court will automatically be allowed to remain in the UK, at least temporarily. Rule 39 is the enforcing mechanism whereby the obligation in Article 34 not to interfere with an individual's effective exercise of the right to submit and pursue a complaint before the Court confers upon an applicant a right of a procedural nature – which can be asserted in Convention proceedings – this is distinguishable from the substantive rights set out under the Convention.
In other words, failure to comply with an interim measure indicated under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court could give rise to a violation of Article 34 of the Convention (see, for instance, Shamayev and Others v. Georgia and Russia, no. 36378/02, § 470, ECHR 2005-III).86. In practice the Court applies Rule 39 only if there is an imminent risk of irreparable damage. While there is no specific provision in the Convention concerning the domains in which Rule 39 will apply, requests for its application usually concern the right to life (Article 2), the right not to be subjected to torture or inhuman treatment (Article 3) and, exceptionally, the right to respect for private and family life (Article 8) or other rights guaranteed by the Convention. The vast majority of cases in which interim measures have been indicated concern deportation and extradition proceedings.
Meanwhile, The Local reports that Sweden plans to continue deporting Iraqi refugees. Reporters get targeted in Iraq as well. Al Baghdadiya earned Nouri's ire when they broadcast about the assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church. He immediately declared them in league with the attackers and shut them down. Ammar Karim (AFP) reports today that Al Baghdadiya has pulled out of Iraq, issuing a statement which includes: "Given the persistent desire of the prime minister to prevent Al Baghdadiya from working in Iraq, the management of the channel has decided to close its bureaus in the country. We are sorry to have had to take this deicison, but we believe that efforts to block the people from expressing their views and daily suffering will not stop Al Baghdadiya from fighting for freedom of the press, the investigation of corruption and freedom of opinion." This is at least the third TV station Nouri has banned -- Zawra was banned in 2006 and Al Sharqiyah in 2007.
When not cracking down on the press, Nouri likes to plan assaults on minority communities. Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) reports that the European Union is calling for the US to remove the People's Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK) from their "list of terrorist organizations." The MEK is a group of Iranian dissidents who sought shelter in Iraq for decades. After the US-led invasion, the US military provided protection for the group which is hosed at Camp Ashraf. The US got 'promises' from the 'government' of Nouri al-Maliki that the residents of Camp Ashraf would be safe and turned control over to him at the start of 2009. In July 2009, Nouri launched an assault on the camp in which at least 11 people were killed and at least four hundred were injured. When the assault took place, Amnesty International issued the following statement:
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC STATEMENT AI Index: MDE 14/021/2009 28 July 2009 Iraq: Camp Ashraf residents attacked Amnesty International is seriously concerned at today's attacks by Iraqi forces on unarmed residents of Camp Ashraf which left several people injured and led to the arrest of at least eight others. Hundreds of armed Iraqi security forces are said to have stormed the camp, north of Baghdad, at around 3pm local time. They used tear gas, water canons and batons against unarmed Iranian residents who tried to stop them from entering the camp. Video footage seen by Amnesty International clearly shows Iraqi forces beating people repeatedly on different parts of the body, including the head. Dozens of people are said to have been injured. Two of them, Reza Chelcheraqi and Mohammad-Reza Shahsavandi, are believed to be in serious condition. At least eight people, including Hasan Besharati, Humayoun Deyhim, Gholam Reza Behrouzi, Hosein Fili, Mehdi Zareh and Naser Nour Ebadian, were arrested and their current whereabouts are unknown.In the last few months the Iraqi government has publicly stated that it wants to take over full control of Camp Ashraf, in Diyala governorate, north of Baghdad. On 27 July government spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh told an Iraqi satellite television channel that the government "will take over the responsibility of internal security affairs of Camp Ashraf". The authorities are reportedly planning to establish a police outpost inside the camp. Amnesty International calls on the Iraqi government to investigate the apparent excessive use of force by Iraqi security forces. The government should reveal the whereabouts of the eight people detained and ensure that they are protected from torture or other ill-treatment, as well as from forcible return to Iran. Background Around 3,400 residents of Camp Ashraf are members or supporters of the People's Mojahedeen Organization of Iran (PMOI), an Iranian opposition organization whose members have been resident in Iraq for many years. Until recently the PMOI was listed as a "terrorist" organization by the European Union and other governments, but in most cases this designation has now been lifted on the grounds that the PMOI no longer advocates or engages in armed opposition to the government of Iran.The US forces provided protection for the camp and its residents, who were designated as "protected persons" following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but this situation was discontinued following the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the US and Iraqi governments, although the SOFA makes no reference to Camp Ashraf or its residents. Public Document **************************************** For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or email: email@example.com International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK www.amnesty.org
Damien McElroy (Telegraph of London) observed of the assault, "The American-installed government in Iraq has shown its true colours. By fighting its way into an Iraqi camp of Iranian dissidents, possibly killing 11 people in the process, it has earned brownie points in Iran. American disapproved, but its diplomatic internvention was limited to medical assistance." US forces were present. They watched as Nouri's thugs terrorized the camp. They stood and watched. They are there to protect the installed 'government' of Nouri. They are not present for the people.
From the MEK to the PKK. Throughout the Iraq War, the White House has insisted (whether occupied by Bully Boy Bush or by Barack Obama) that the PKK was a terrorist group and that the government or 'government' in Baghdad had the full support of the US in clamping down on the PKK. For nearly five years, the US has shared information from surveilance drones with Baghdad in the alleged effort to curtail the PKK. The PKK is a group housed in the southern part of Turkey and 'hidden' in the northern mountains of Iraq which fights for a Kurdish homeland. It may also turn out to be a US-backed group. Press TV provides this background on the PKK: "The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by much of the international community, including Turkey, Iran and the European Union member states. More than 40,000 people have lost their lives in PKK attacks. The PKK terrorists launch their attacks mainly from Iraq's Qandil mountain range in the areas under the control of Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani. Tel Aviv and Israeli companies are also reported to support Kurdish terrorists in the Qandil mountain range."
Jill Dougherty (CNN)quotes one-time US Ambassador James F. Collins insisting, "Leaking information of this kind will be detrimental to building the trust among officials necessary to conduct effective and productive diplomacy."
They're arguing, grasp this, that evidence -- eye witness testimony, forensics, etc -- is actually a bad thing because without it criminals could 'build trust' in their neighborhoods.
Exposing the crime is not the crime. And it's ridiculous and pathetic that anyone wants to argue that -- Collins remains on the government payroll via Carnegie Endowment. If the US actions were/are embarrassing, that's due to the US actions, not due to later leaking of the actions.
Do not confuse the crime with the exposure. And do not fall for the bulls**t flying out of the mouths of people who apparently should be behind bars themselves since they have so little respect for the laws they once swore to uphold.
Glenn Kessler (Washington Post) notes, "The London-based daily al-Hayat reported that WikiLeaks is planning to release files that show Turkey has helped al-Qaeda in Iraq - and that the United States has helped the PKK, a Kurdish rebel organization. The documents reportedly suggest that the United States has supported the PKK, which has been waging a separatist war against Turkey since 1984 and has been classified by the State Department as a terrorist organization since 1979." Jason Koutsoukis (Sydney Morning Herald) adds, "A report in The Jerusalem Post said the US military documents referred to the PKK as 'warriors for freedom and Turkish citizens' and said the US had set free arrested PKK members in Iraq. The documents also say US forces in Iraq have given weapons to the PKK." Aras Coskuntuncel and Sevil Kucukkosum (Hurriyet Daily News) report:
Reports speculate that the leaked diplomatic cables will show that Washington aided the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and that Turkey helped al-Qaeda in Iraq. Anxiety mounted Friday as the United States contacted its allies through its embassies in an attempt to brace for the release of what could amount to millions of documents. U.S. officials briefed counterparts in Ankara about some documents WikiLeaks will publish that relate to Turkey, Turkish Foreign Ministry officials told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Friday.
Which would mean, if true, that -- domestically -- that Eric Holder should immediately order the arrests of George W. Bush and Barack Obama for proving material aid and support to terrorists. Isn't that what they keep doing to US citizens who are not in fact supporting terrorists? But the US government is? If they are, they need to be behind bars.
I guess if I were a criminal about to be exposed to the world I'd probably try to distract by whining "Unfair! Unfair!" as well. But apparently, I have little more respect for the laws than those elected who take an oath to uphold the Constitution.
Shashank Bengali (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that "this morning, the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, Jim Jeffrey, called WikiLeaks 'an absolutely awful impediment to my business, which is to be able to have discussions in confidence with people'." Once was a time someone mouthing the words Jeffrey has would be someone considered unsuitable for diplomatic service or service to the country -- such is the lowered standards of the times we live in that he will most likely not even be called out by the press.