Sunday, July 10, 2011

And the war drags on . . .

In the big news coming out of Iraq right now, Al Mada reports Moqtada al-Sadr has posted a statement to his website announcing that he will not be reactivating the Mahdi militia even should the US extend its occupation beyond 2011. Why?

Well he calls it "growing evil within the ranks." Apparently, there's a cancer on his thuggery. He claims, in his statement, that "grief, pain and sorrow" over the current make up of the Mahdi and people claiming to be in. Goodness, if you left Iraq in 2007 and the Mehdi continued without you, if you set up house in Iran all that time and the Medhi lived without you, you ever think maybe that they could get along just fine without your 'leadership'?

That may be the lesson Moqtada's learned. A lot of people pinned their hopes on Moqtada. Consider them the kind-of-against-the-Iraq-War Nation magazine writers. (They know who they are.) They didn't need to challenge Barack because Moqtada was going to ensure the SOFA was followed. So they could just stay silent as the cry of "End the war now!" became "End the war in three years." They and so many like them hid behind A Thug Named Moqtada. And they whored for him. They stayed silent as his thugs carried out an assualt on Iraq's LGBT community. They propped him up like he was a saint. Because as long as Moqtada said no-to-continued-war, they didn't have to.

Oh, those little cowards.

And they're not just cowards, they're stupid cowards. Moqtada's announcement isn't a shocker.

While the MSM was pimping his power, we have regularly and repeatedly noted that Moqtada's 'power' has been drastically weakened. We noted that was the conclusion of US, French, British and two neighboring (neighboring Iraq) countries. We noted that he wasn't able to turn out millions or even 10% of the Baghdad population in a protest. He followed that with a 'protest' that was a march through Sadr City by his militia. What were they? 15,000? That's generous. Very generous. The press was even more generous. As the march went through Sadr City, many inhabitans stepped out of the front doors of their homes to take a look and the press was oh-so-very-happy to count those observers as participants.

Though the press was out-to-lunch, Moqtada wasn't. That's why he organized the march to begin with, to prolong the illusion that he still had a firm grip on power. It would appear he needs to regroup.

For some strange reason -- insanity? -- CNN files a report they headline "Radical Iraqi cleric threatens to revive brigade to attack U.S. troops" and spend two paragraphs on a maybe as opposed to what's definite in the statement Moqtada posted. Here are paragraphs three and four from Mohammed Tawfeeq's report:

On Sunday, in a statement posted on his official website, al-Sadr said he would not reactivate his Mehdi Army in full, even if U.S. forces remained in the Middle Eastern nation into 2012. He cited a spike in corruption and crimes perpetrated recently by people claiming to be members of his movement for this decision.
But the Shiite cleric, who is based in Najaf, about 100 kilometers south of Baghdad, did not rule out calling again on members of the so-called Promised Day Brigade, a small group of hand-picked fighters dedicated to attacking U.S. and coalition troops.

A "small group." Small groups being all that Moqtada can count on these days. He didn't rule it out in his statement. Nor did he say he would. He did say, flat out, that the Mahdi militia would not be re-activated but somehow that's not the lede for CNN.

For months and months, Moqtada al-Sadr has threatened that if the US military remains in Iraq beyond 2011, he would reactivate his Mahdi militia. Today he announces that will not be happening and somehow CNN can't find that as the main point of their story. They have to dick around for two paragraphs with things that weren't addressed instead of focusing on what the statement made clear.

Now Moqtada's not known for his word so he could change his mind tomorrow. But having made this announcement, it's now harder for him with his alleged 'followers.'

Moqtada bluffed and bluffed. And then he caved.

This is the story that should dominate Monday. But possibly some in the press are too invested in the all-powerful-Moqtada storyline to grasp or convey reality.

I have no idea. But Moqtada's announcement is news unlike the weekly 'reports' news outlets have provided for months now that Moqtada will reactivate the Mahdi militia.

It would appear that the only serious objection to Nouri and the US government coming to an agreement to extend the Iraq War just dropped out of the equation.

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 4469. Tonight? PDF format warning, DoD lists the the number of Americans killed serving in Iraq at 4472. That doesn't include the US service member announced dead today. Press TV notes that today's death brings to 3 the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq so far this month.

Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing injured two people while targeting a Deputy Minister (Salam al-Khafaji) at the Ministr of Displacement and Migration and, dropping back to yesterday, 2 people were shot dead in Kirkuk with another two injured and 1 college student was shot dead in Mussayab.

New content at Third:

Pru notes Ken Olende's "Man-made famine hits Horn of Africa" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

The Horn of Africa is facing its worst drought in 60 years, and the United Nations says ten million people could face famine.

The drought is affecting Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda. Ethiopia and especially Somalia are threatened with devastation.

Already tens of thousands of starving people have walked to overcrowded refugee camps in northern Kenya.

The Independent newspaper reports that 1,200 children are arriving at the camps every day.

The largest camp was intended to house 90,000 people, but there are currently 370,000 people living there.

The British government has pledged £38 million in food aid to Ethiopia. But the country is still burdened with an external debt of £2.5 billion.

The truth is that in the modern world, famines are caused by politics, not nature.

People are starving not because there is no food, but because they cannot afford the food that is there.

Countries caught up in recent imperialist intervention are suffering the most.

Somalia was establishing a government under the Union of Islamic Courts in 2007, but it didn’t meet with US approval.

The US military sponsored and supported an Ethiopian invasion that was disastrous for both Ethiopia and Somalia.


US secretary of state Hillary Clinton visited three African countries in June calling for further opening up of trade.

Last week unmanned US military drones, costing nearly £3 million each, attacked the city of Kismayo in southern Somalia.

The US was trying to assassinate local Islamist leaders.

The Hellfire missiles frequently used in such attacks cost £42,000 each.

The US-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network said the famine’s impacts have been “exacerbated by extremely high food prices”.

Food prices in Kenya have risen by 80 percent, while in Ethiopia they have jumped by 41 percent.

The fluctuations in food prices are pushed by the neoliberal policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The IMF forces economies to open up to free trade, rather than concentrating on food security for local populations.

During the current financial crisis, food speculation has made the problem far worse.

Figures from the World Development Movement reveal that hedge funds, investment bankers and pension funds have poured over £125 billion into food markets since the financial crisis, betting on the rising price of food.

The system is responsible for starvation. Getting rid of the system is the way to end it.

The following should be read alongside this article:

Protests spread across Africa and threaten rulers

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