Sunday, December 26, 2010

And the war drags on . . .

ERBIL, Iraq – It's Christmas morning in northern Iraq, and the parishioners of St. Joseph's Church are emerging from their homes into the bright desert sunlight. With two Iraqi friends, I drive along narrow avenues decorated with twinkling lights and the occasional inflatable Santa. We pass a clutch of men wearing bright sweaters, pressed slacks, and loafers. A trio of women breaks into tight smiles; one is wearing a red skirt with a band of white snowflakes.
We round the corner, and we’re surprised to see that a shimmering tanker truck is blocking the road to the church. Frowning men in uniform wave their arms. As one of the largest Christian centers of worship in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish autonomous zone in northern Iraq, the church is a potential target. We’re urged to park down the block. But high security is better than nothing at all. Throughout Iraq, celebrations of Christmas have been muted or gone underground. Following a round of text messages, purportedly from Al Qaeda, ordering priests to cancel Christmas or else, outward festivities were called off in Kirkuk and Basra.

The above is from Nathan Deuel's "Iraqi Christians Celebrate in Exile" (Daily Beast) about Christmas in the Kurdish north, where it could be openly celebrated. Jennifer Riley (Christian Post) adds, "The particularly somber Christmas in Iraq this year is due to the unprecedented level of attacks against the country’s tiny Assyrian Christian community. Following the Oct. 31 massacre, a series of bomb explosions in Christian neighborhoods in Baghdad and Mosul killed several more believers. Extremists have also in recent months broken into the homes of Christians and murder them in their living room." October 31st, Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad was attacked. It began the latest wave of attacks on Iraqi Christians. Some have fled to the KRG, others have left Iraq. AFP reports, "Iraqi Christians who survived the deadly storming of a Baghdad church attended a special Christmas mass on Sunday in France, where they were evacuated following the attack. [. . . Elish] Yako said at least five of the wounded have returned from France to Iraq and six are still in hospital, while others have applied for asylum. France has said it also plans a second evacuation flight for a further 93 Christians."

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, the number of US military people killed in the Iraq War since the start of the illegal war was 4433 (but listed as 4430 by the Defense Dept which hadn't updated at the time). Tonight? PDF format warning, DoD lists the the number of Americans killed serving in Iraq at 4433 still.

Before we move to violence, let's note Girlie In The Green Zone. Girlie is a newbie to Iraq whose outlet has already had to correct her work and whose outlet better drop to their knees and pray no one looks into her background because it will not pass any objectivity test. One wonders why in the world a news outlet was unable to do the basic work required before assigning her to Iraq. Is it really worth jeopardizing the outlet's reputation to assign her? Her work is cutesy at best, at worst, as the outlet is finding out, riddled with inaccuracies. The outlet would be smart to find another beat for her before others stumble across that which is out in the open, out in the public. I doubt others who stumble upon it will be as kind as I am and merely run a blind item. Nor do I believe that others will draw a line between the outlet and the girlie.

Now on to violence.


Reuters reports that Saturday saw a Mosul roadside bombing which wounded three people, a second Mosul roadside bombing which also injured three people and a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured four people.


Reuters reports
that Iraqi soldiers shot and killed 1 civilian (they're calling it a mistake), 1 suspect was killed in a Mosul shooting and 2 police officers were injured in a Baghdad attack. Today Reuters notes a Baghdad attack on the Ministry of the Interior's Brg Shamil Dawoud which left him and his driver injured.

Tomorrow we leave holiday schedule. I'm still trying to decide whether we go back on it Thursday or Friday. I'll decide by Tuesday.

New content at Third:

Pru notes "Greek workers set for seventh general strike of the year" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

Workers in Greece were to end a year of struggle with a general strike this Wednesday 15 December—the day of the government’s budget.

The Pasok Labour-style party is attempting to push through massive austerity at the behest of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

There has been a wave of resistance to this attack, with this week’s action being the seventh full general strike this year.

“The government has gone on a generalised attack after a long period of saying that it would not need to make any more cuts,” said Panos Garganas, the editor of the Workers Solidarity newspaper in Greece.

“But the crisis is getting worse so it is pushing through cuts in wages in the public sector.

“This is producing a generalised response. There have been a number of confrontations with the government, including all‑out strikes.

“The seafarers struck for seven days, while the local authority workers struck for five days.

“Transport workers struck for five days this week, there’s an all-out strike by bank workers, and media workers are to strike on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 December.

“This latest strike has been coordinated from below. We are seeing a new, huge explosion of anger and the vote in parliament won’t be the end of it.”

The following should be read alongside this article:

Massive general strike shows power of Greece's workers

© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.

The e-mail address for this site is