Monday, July 25, 2011

A little ditty 'bout Iraq and Iran

AP reports Sidkan Mayor Ahmed Qadir states 2 Iraqis were killed last night with another three left injured from Iran shelling the area in their continued assaults on PJAK (Kurdish group). Over the weekend, AFP quoted the International Committee of the Red Cross, "The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has provided humanitarian assistance to over 800 internally displaced people in northern Iraq, all of whom have been driven from their homes by the recent shelling in the mountains of Qandil. Having left behind all their belongings, the majority of these people are now living under makeshift shelters, tents, or sharing crowded houses with relatives and friends, while a few families could afford renting very basic accomodation." This morning IRIN notes, "Nearly 200 families have been displaced in Iraq's self-ruled northern Kurdish region due to Iranian shelling since mid-July of Iranian Kurdish rebels based inside Iraq, say officials."

Meanwhile the Iranian government is claiming complete support from Baghdad for the assault that's displacing (and killing) Iraqis. The Tehran Times reports:

The Iranian ambassador to Baghdad has said that the Iraqi officials are serious in dealing with the terrorist group PJAK (the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan), emphasizing they regard Iran’s action against terrorists as justified.
Iraq regards this group as a terrorist one and believes that Iran has the right to take action against the group, Ambassador Hassan Danaiifar told reporters on Sunday.

Though a large number of exiles now in power in Baghad have strong ties to Iran, it's equally true that the Iraqi people as a whole are more likely to remember the Iran-Iraq War -- especially those taught about it in school -- of the eighties. As Iraqis are killed and displaced while Iran violates Iraq's sovereignty in its pursuit of PJAK, don't be surprised if Nouri's image collapses even more. All he really had going for him was the (false) claim that he could provide security. As the last months have demonstrated, he can't provide it internally and he's now allowing Iraq to be invaded by another country.

Iran's also telling him what to do with regards to the residents of Camp Ashraf. Iranian dissidents were welcomed into Iraq in the 80s by Saddam Hussein. It's always been a sore spot for the Iranian government. When the US invaded in 2003, they moved to disarm Camp Ashraf and the deal agreed to was: You disarm, we protect you. Along with threats, there have now been two massacres on Camp Ashraf -- both launched by Nouri al-Maliki (both occurring since Barack became president). Tarsem King is a British MP in the House of Lords (and a member of the Labour Party). At Huffington Post, he notes:

Sadly, however, the U.S. Embassy in Iraq refuses to recognise the magnitude of the Iranian threat. As another humanitarian catastrophe looms large over Camp Ashraf, U.S. Ambassador Lawrence Butler made the extremely troubling suggestion that the residents of Ashraf should disperse and move to another location in Iraq.
Amazingly, two days prior to that, an Iraqi daily had reported that the Iraqi President, having just arrived from a visit to Tehran, delivered a "message" on Camp Ashraf to the U.S. Embassy from none other than the Iranian regime's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Seeing the regime's fingerprints on Iraqi decisions is troubling as it is. But, hearing the echoes of Khamenei's orders on the fate of Iranian dissidents from the corridors of the U.S. Embassy is mind-boggling.

The US press response has generally been bitchy. Tim Arango (New York Times) picked up the baton last week to continue that tradition with a one-sided look at the group, offering a selective history and apparently an exchange by the even bitchier Lawrence Butler that was supposed to recall the great cat fights between Krystal and Alexis in the eighties:

Now they are unwelcome in Iraq but believe they should be given protection in the United States — even though their group, known as the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, remains on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.
"You probably have in mind Hawaii," said Ambassador Lawrence E. Butler, the American diplomat who has been negotiating with the group in recent sessions here.
"I suspect you don’t want to go to Guantanamo," he added.

Arango's not an expert on many things and that includes international law. Presumably British MP Tarsem King is aware of international law and he notes, "The U.S., which recognised the residents of Ashraf as "protected persons" under the Fourth Geneva Convention in 2004, is morally and legally obligated to protect the residents. But, in the broader context, it should realise that abandoning Ashraf is tantamount to giving the Iranian regime an upper hand in Iraq."

I know Wesley Clark. That's never stopped me from calling him out if I thought it was warranted. I've also defended him when I thought he was treated unfairly. (And if you're looking for examples of either, you're more likely to find it in the TV pieces Ava and I do for Third than here.) I have held off noting Arango's article because I still can't grasp how it made it into print. This includes Butler smearing Wesley with the statement, "How much was he paid" [to speak out on the behalf of Camp Ashraf residents]? And Butler adding, "He doesn't get out of bed for less than $25,000." Arango does speak to Clark who is quoted . . . for three words. Wesley's never been an expert in bitchy. If he were fluent in it, no doubt, Arango would have quoted him at length.

I do love the yellow journalism of the New York Times. Whenever you might forget just how biased they are, they always pop to remind you. (For any who wonder, I have never received a penny on anything related to Camp Ashraf. We covered it here due to the fact that the residents were being ridiculed by the press. I had no clue about them and called up a friend at the UN and said, "Walk me through who these people are." As bad as Arango's article is, three or four years ago, it would have been considered a valentine to Camp Ashraf. Reporters felt no need to even pretend to be objective and openly ridiculed the residents, their beliefs and anything else they could get their hands on. Had that not happened, we wouldn't have started covering Camp Ashraf.)

Kat's "Kat's Korner: The Real and The Synthetic" and Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Spanked on the Global Stage." Law and Disorder Radio begins airing this morning WBAI at 9:00 am and all around the country throughout the week. Attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) host the program and the first half is an excellent speech given by Michael Ratner. I do not promote nor recommend the second half. I do not promote nor recommend trash and trash is someone who takes money from an organization and then when the organization's under attack rushes to collect more coin by trashing it. The Christic Institute did strong work and might still be around today, might have been able to withstand the right-wing attacks, were it not also for cheap little hustlers trashing it from the faux left.

Title of this entry is, of course, a nod to John Mellencamp's classic "Jack & Diane."

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