Thursday, May 19, 2011

Does anyone leave Iraq?

As the US attempts to extend the US military's stay in Iraq and as the British get ink for their kind-of-sort-of-we're-out-and-it's-for-real-this-time-we-promise 'departure' (see yesterday's snapshot or this Washington Post report by Tim Craig), the question becomes does anyone leave Iraq? Really?

Kevin Rudd replaced John Howard as Prime Minister of Australia and the move came in part due to Rudd and his party's opposition to the Iraq War and Rudd's promise that he would pull Australia troops out of Iraq. Rudd was kicked to the curb in about the same time it took for Gordon Brown to win and lose the post of prime minister in England.

For those who've forgotten, June 1, 2008 is the date when Australian forces 'departed' Iraq. In that kind-of-sort-of way.

australian forces

Today Alison Middleton (Australia's ABC) reports on the return of Australian troops from Iraq -- as does Nadja Hainke (NT News). And Australia's Defence Dept issues the following statement:

Security Detachment Home from Iraq

Australian Defence Force (ADF) members of Security Detachment Seventeen, known as SECDET XVII, returned home to Australia today after a successful eight-month deployment to Iraq.

The 33-member team was deployed as part of Operation KRUGER, the ADF’s contribution to the provision of security and support for the Australian Embassy and its staff in Baghdad.

A parade was held at the Australian Baghdad Embassy on 14 May 11 to transfer responsibility to the new rotation, SECDET Eighteen (XVIII), from the Brisbane-based 1st Military Police Battalion.

Commander of Australian Forces in the Middle East, Major General Angus Campbell, said that the members of SECDET XVII had accomplished their mission of supporting Australian diplomats.

“Although security in Baghdad is improving, it’s essential our Embassy staff are protected while undertaking their important duties,” Major General Campbell said.

“Your contribution in providing security has been invaluable to the successful Australian diplomatic mission in Iraq.”

The ADF has been providing security to the Australian Embassy in Bagdad for eight years.

During the deployment, SECDET XVII supported more than 1127 security activities for Embassy staff, averaging five separate tasks per day.

The detachment was raised by the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Darwin and comprised personnel drawn from seven units across the Army and Air Force.

Officer Commanding SECDET XVII, Major Shaun Richards, said his unit had continued the achievements of previous deployments and built on Defence’s reputation for professional service in support of its Foreign Affairs partners.

“Our efforts in providing security to the Australian Embassy in a difficult environment have allowed the diplomatic effort to succeed in its mission to promote Australia’s national interests.” Major Richards said.

SECDET XVII arrive home in Australia on Thursday, 19 May 11.

Media note:

Imagery can be found at:

Media contact:

Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664

And on the subject of departing Iraq, Raber Y. Aziz (Zawya) reports:

The Swedish ambassador to Iraq denied claims of a behind-the-curtains deal between the two countries to deport Iraqis in return for loans being dropped.
Refugee groups have alleged that deals were signed between Iraq and certain EU countries by which Iraq would receive deported Iraqi refugees and in exchange, debts owed to these countries would be cancelled.
"What is circulated on the media about a deal... to deport Iraqis is not true," Ambassador Karl Magnus said, adding that, "we reject asylum only to Kurds because the Kurdistan Region is enjoying security and economic stability therefore Kurdish Iraqi citizens do not need asylum in our country."

Why would people think that? Forget that there actually is a signed agreement -- as has been well reported over the last months -- between Sweden and Iraq. It might have something to do with the continual deportation of Iraqis from Sweden. Back in June of last year, Sweden kicked 56 Iraqis out and did so with no regard to the warning from the United Nations that it was not safe for refugees to return. That was not the first time they'd forcibly deported Iraqis. Nor was it the last time. I believe the most recent was in January of this year (see this CNN report).

And on that note, let's note something else. If you're a blogger or a columnist in some small town weekly, you may have an excuse for writing your 'comical' pieces on the donkey from Iraq. If you're a serious news outlet -- hello, NPR and others -- you have no excuse.

The Iraq War created the largest refugee crisis in the MidEast. No one needs your attempts at 'cute' as you 'report' on an Iraqi donkey making it to the US. No one needs it. It's not funny and it only demonstrates how truly shallow and insensitive you are.

Serious news outlets should have ignored the story or used it to comment on the detestable US policies regarding Iraqi immigrants. Instead, they just knew they were Disney and had a Cool Running on their hands. What they actually had on their hands should have immediately been washed off and then they should have promised to keep their hands above their waists and out of their pants at all times when in public from now on.

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oh boy it never ends