Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The violence continues

Violence continues today in Iraq. Reuters notes a Baghdad sticky bombing which injured Hassan Ibrahim ("grain board director") and a passenger while killing Ibrahim's driver, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured three people, another Baghdad roadside bombing which injured one person, a second Baghdad sticky bombing which claimed the life of 1 "Baghdad municipality female employee," a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer and left five more injured, and, dropping back to yesterday for both of the following, 1 person shot dead in front of his Mosul home, a Baghdad drive-by (with assailant on a motorcycle) in which 2 people were shot dead. In addition, Aswat al-Iraq notes that 1 Integrity Commission employee was wounded in a Basra bombing.

Yesterday's snapshot opened with this paragraph:

Starting with rumors. Press TV reports that a "prominent Iraqi cleric [in] Muqtada al-Sadr's group" states he saw "Israeli jet fighters" drilling on a US base in Iraq for the last week at night. The source states the base was al-Asad Airbase. That base is in Al Anbar Province and before the start of the Iraq War was Qadisiyah Airbase. Global Security notes, "Qadisiyah Airbase is named after the great battle of May 636 at Al Qadisiyah, a village south of Baghdad on the Euphrates. The Iranians, who outnumbered the Arabs six to one, were decisively beaten. From Al Qadisiyah the Arabs pushed on to the Sassanid capital at Ctesiphon, enabling Islam under Caliph Umar to spread to the East. During the 1980s, Baathists publicly regularly called the Iran-Iraq War a modern day 'Qadisiyah' exploiting the age-old enmity in its propaganda and publicizing the war as part of the ancient struggle between the Arab and Persian empires." During the first Gulf War in the 90s, the CIA says, housed alcohol bombs and HD bombs. Since the start of the ongoing Iraq War, the base has been used (first) by the Australians and (now) by the US. Global Security notes it is Iraq's "second largest airbase." In 2008, Eric Talmadge (AP) reported the base was "big enough to support 20,000 troops), was also called "Camp Cupcake" and housed "a Burger King, a Pizza Hut, and round-the-clock Internet access." The Jerusalem Post picks up on the story and adds, "Officials in Iraq were not notified of the military drill, which was reportedly conducted in coordination with US armed forces." Reuters notes the Israeli military's denial of the story and also notes, "Washington's ally Israel accuses Tehran of using its declared civilian nuclear reactor programme to conceal a plan to develop atomic bombs that would threaten the Jewish state. Israeli leaders have not ruled out military action against Iran."

Al Rafidyan covers the story here. Dar Addustour adds an on the record denial from Lt Gen Anwar Ahmed, commander of Iraq's airforce, who states the rumors aren't true and that Iraq will not allow its soil to be used as a launching ground for attacks on neighboring countries. And Lt Col Dave Lapan, Pentagon spokesperson, is quoted calling the rumors "ridiculous."

Today Al Rafidayn reports on Alia Hussein, 2nd Lt Alia Hussein. The 28-year-old holds a law degree and is a graduate of Iraq's police academy and is a traffic police officer in Basra. Col Riad Jassim is quoted noting that Lt Hussein is the first woman in Basra to enter the traffic police unit as a lieutenant and that it is "a new experience which provides confidence in women's access to jobs in other fields."

Turning to political news, Ayas Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) reports that State of Law (Nouri al-Maliki's coalition) is very touchy about criticism Iraqiya (political slate headed by Ayad Allawi) has been making regarding Nouri's continued inability to name a Minister of Defense, a Minister of National Security an a Minister of Interior. State of Law insists that the criticism is unfounded. (Nouri was supposed to have named these posts -- per the Constitution -- by the end of December. Staffing a complete Cabinet was how you move from prime minister-designate to prime minister. However, he was waived through without naming a full Cabinet.) State of Law maintains Nouri will make nominations any day; however, Acommok points out that the posts need to be completed this week because the Parliament is about to begin a month long vacation.

And we'll close with this from Phyllis Bennis' "Justice or Vengeance?" (ICH):

There was an unprecedented surge of unity, of human solidarity, in response to the crime of 9/11. In the United States much of that response immediately took on a jingoistic and xenophobic frame (some of which showed up again last night in the aggressive chants of "USA, USA!!" from flag-waving, cheering crowds outside the White House following President Obama's speech). Some of it was overtly militaristic, racist and Islamophobic. But some really did reflect a level of human unity unexpected and rare in U.S. history. Even internationally, solidarity with the U.S. people for a brief moment replaced the well-deserved global anger at U.S. arrogance, wars, and drive towards empire. In France, headlines proclaimed "nous sommes tous Américaines maintenant." We are all Americans now.

But that human solidarity was short-lived. It was destroyed by the illegal wars that shaped the U.S. response to the 9/11 crime. Those wars quickly created numbers of victims far surpassing the 3,000 killed on September 11. The lives of millions more around the world were transformed in the face of U.S. aggression — in Pakistan alone, where a U.S. military team assassinated bin Laden, thousands of people have been killed and maimed by U.S. drone strikes and the suicide bombs that are part of the continuing legacy of the U.S. war.

These wars have brought too much death and destruction. Too many people have died and too many children have been orphaned for the United States to claim, as President Obama's triumphantly did, that "justice has been done" because one man, however symbolically important, has been killed. However one calculates when and how "this fight" actually began, the U.S. government chose how to respond to 9/11. And that response, from the beginning, was one of war and vengeance — not of justice.

The president's speech last night could have aimed to put an end to the triumphalism of the "global war on terror" that George W. Bush began and Barack Obama claimed as his own. It could have announced a new U.S. foreign policy based on justice, equality, and respect for other nations. But it did not. It declared instead that the U.S. war in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and beyond will continue.

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