Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Nouri's sometime concern over sovereignty

While Nouri's made nice in China, he's wanted in Spain. New Sabah reports on the decision by the Spanish court to call Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and chief thug of Iraq, before them along with members of Iraq's Defense Ministry and representatives of the United Nations in an attempt to make sense of the massacre on Camp Ashraf in April in which 35 people were killed. Nouri's official spokesperson (and president of his fan club) Ali al-Dabbagh insists that no other state can do what Spain thinks it can and that it encroaches "on national sovereignty" and, apparently, on Nouri's inalienable right to slaughter freely.

Camp Ashraf is where a group of Iranian dissidents leave. Marxists, they took part in the early stages of the Iranian revolution of the late 70s. They ended up in Iraq where Saddam Hussein granted asylum. Throughout their long stay in Iraq, they are not known to have created any internal problems. But Iran doesn't want them in Iraq. Not an issue when Hussein was in power; however, a big deal to the current installed government. Following the US invasion, the US disarmed the group. The residents of Camp Ashraf turned over their arms with the promise from the US that they would be protected. That has not been the case. Since 2009, Nouri has repeatedly sent the Iraqi military into the camp to terrorize the people and he, Hoshyar Zebari, Jalal Talabani and others have been making public statements in Iran and elsewhere promising to evict the residents of Camp Ashraf by the end of this year. They have also repeatedly lied including recently insisting that the International Red Cross was helping them with forcing the residents out of Iraq. The Red Cross immediately issued a statement explaining that they were doing no such thing.

The Spanish court is calling for Nouri to appear before it in October. Ali al-Dabbagh insists that Nouri is under obligation to do so. So are they about to curtail Nouri's traveling? They do realize that should he try to avoid a subpoena, certain countries have agreements that would compel them to take Nouri into custody and turn him over to Spanish authorities. This isn't a civil case. BBC News notes, "Under Spain's universal justice doctrine, grave crimes committed in other countries can be prosecuted." The BBC's article omits Nouri's name (maybe everyone's still recovering from Friday's strike?) but AP notes that Nouri is being asked to testify and they note that Judge Fernando Andreu plans to explore the April 8th massacre as well as the July 2009 one in which 11 Camp Ashraf Residents were killed. We'll remind that the same judge had earlier offered to kill the probe of 2009 (this offer was made at the start of the year) if the Iraqi government would launch their own probe. They refused to do so.

While Nouri bends over backwards to appease Iran, the Iranian military boasts of their control over Iraq. Press TV reports:

A senior Iranian military commander says the Islamic Republic will continue efforts to completely weed out the Party for Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) terrorist cell.
Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) clashed with PJAK terrorists and inflicted heavy casualties on them during recent days with the purpose of establishing sustainable security and fighting against insecurity and instability in northwestern areas of the country, commander of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Ground Forces Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour said on Monday.
A top Iranian military commander, Delavar Ranjbarzadeh, said on Monday that the IRGC has taken full control of three bases of the PJAK terrorist cell near the Iraqi border.

Alsumaria TV offers
the weakly worded: "Iranian Revolutionary Guards Chief in Sardasht, northwestern Iran, announced that Iranian Forces took over three rebel camps of the Kurdish Party for free life in Iraq." Wait. Wasn't Ali al-Dabbagh whining about "national sovereignty"? Iran invades Iraq and he's got nothing to say about sovereignty? Al Sabaah notes that Iran's military has "penetrated deep into Iraqi territory" and that at least 30 Iraqi families have been displaced as a result. They also note the Iraqi woman injured yesterday by the shelling from the Iranian military

Iran's also boasting that they won the 80s Iran-Iraq War. If the US government ever had the brains to leave Iraq, it would appear that happy neighbors Iran and Iraq might be at each other throats in a matter of minutes. Especially once they weren't able to bond over their mutual hatred of the US presence on the ground in Iraq.

In other news, Alsumaria TV notes that Parliament went along with Nouri's call to reduce the number of ministries from 46 to 29 but "in principle." Next week, Parliament expects Nouri to appear before them and they will do another vote. Now, Al Mada reports, Nouri's State of Law political slate is pushing to do away with the independent electoral commission.

Amnesty International released the following yesterday on planned executions in Iraq:

81 death sentences reportedly approved by President

The Iraqi authorities should halt the imminent execution of five senior officials under former president Saddam Hussain, Amnesty International said today.

The five, who were transferred from US to Iraqi custody last week, have been convicted of crimes against humanity by the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal (SICT) and could be executed within a month if the Iraqi Presidency approves their sentences. A Ministry of Justice official told Iraqi media that he expected the ratification of the death sentences within days.
Amnesty has questioned the fairness of trials before the SICT, which was established to try Saddam Hussain and others accused of responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during his rule. The court has been subject to repeated political interference undermining its independence.
Watban Ibrahim Hassan al-Tikriti, former Minister of Interior, and Sab’awi Ibrahim Hassan al-Tikriti, former Head of Intelligence - both half brothers of ex-President Saddam Hussain - were sentenced to death in 2009 after being convicted of crimes against humanity.
Senior army and security officials Sultan Hashem Ahmad and Hussain Rashid al-Tikriti were sentenced to death in 2007 after being convicted of participation in the so-called Anfal campaign against Iraq’s Kurdish minority in 1988 in which some 180,000 Iraqi Kurds died. The fifth man, ‘Aziz Saleh Nu’man, a senior Ba’ath party official, was sentenced to death last month for his role in the brutal suppression of the 1991 uprising against Saddam Hussain by the Shi’a community in southern Iraq.
The five were among a group of 206 “high value” detainees and prisoners handed over to the Iraqi authorities by the US military on 14 July.
Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Director Malcolm Smart said:
"While the Iraqi authorities have a responsibility to bring to justice those responsible for the gross human rights crimes committed under Saddam Hussain, they must not use the death penalty under any circumstances.
"It is a violation of the right to life and the ultimate form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.
"These men must not be executed. The Iraqi authorities should commute these and all other death sentences and declare an immediate moratorium on executions."
In a letter to the Iraqi Minister for Justice last month, Amnesty raised concern at Iraqi news reports that the Iraqi Presidency had approved 81 out of a total of 516 death sentences submitted for ratification since 2009. According to other news reports, a further 20 sentences were referred for ratification on 14 June alone.
The death penalty was suspended for a time after the US-led invasion of Iraq but restored in August 2004. Since then, hundreds of people have been sentenced to death and many have been executed.

And the Mandaeans have begun a religious ceremony. Al Sabaah reports that the community entered into a five day ritual starting today which includes fasting (for two days). The community is estimated to have 500 families. Each morning will begin with the ritual of bapsitam for the chidlren of the Sabean Mandaeans. It is estimated that 53,000 Mandaeans have left Iraq (or been killed) from their record high in the 1990s. Most have left since the start of the Iraq War and left as a result of the chaos and violence as well as being targeted by other Iraqi groups. They are a gnostic religion.

We'll close with this from Chris Hedges' "America's Disappeared" (Information Clearing House):

Dr. Silvia Quintela was “disappeared” by the death squads in Argentina in 1977 when she was four months pregnant with her first child. She reportedly was kept alive at a military base until she gave birth to her son and then, like other victims of the military junta, most probably was drugged, stripped naked, chained to other unconscious victims and piled onto a cargo plane that was part of the “death flights” that disposed of the estimated 20,000 disappeared. The military planes with their inert human cargo would fly over the Atlantic at night and the chained bodies would be pushed out the door into the ocean. Quintela, who had worked as a doctor in the city’s slums, was 28 when she was murdered.
A military doctor, Maj. Norberto Atilio Bianco, who was extradited Friday from Paraguay to Argentina for baby trafficking, is alleged to have seized Quintela’s infant son along with dozens, perhaps hundreds, of other babies. The children were handed to military families for adoption. Bianco, who was the head of the clandestine maternity unit that functioned during the Dirty War in the military hospital of Campo de Mayo, was reported by eyewitnesses to have personally carried the babies out of the military hospital. He also kept one of the infants. Argentina on Thursday convicted retired Gen. Hector Gamen and former Col. Hugo Pascarelli of committing crimes against humanity at the “El Vesubio” prison, where 2,500 people were tortured in 1976-1978. They were sentenced to life in prison. Since revoking an amnesty law in 2005 designed to protect the military, Argentina has prosecuted 807 for crimes against humanity, although only 212 people have been sentenced. It has been, for those of us who lived in Argentina during the military dictatorship, a painfully slow march toward justice.
Most of the disappeared in Argentina were not armed radicals but labor leaders, community organizers, leftist intellectuals, student activists and those who happened to be in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Few had any connection with armed campaigns of resistance. Indeed, by the time of the 1976 Argentine coup, the armed guerrilla groups, such as the Montoneros, had largely been wiped out. These radical groups, like al-Qaida in its campaign against the United States, never posed an existential threat to the regime, but the national drive against terror in both Argentina and the United States became an excuse to subvert the legal system, instill fear and passivity in the populace, and form a vast underground prison system populated with torturers and interrogators, as well as government officials and lawyers who operated beyond the rule of law. Torture, prolonged detention without trial, sexual humiliation, rape, disappearance, extortion, looting, random murder and abuse have become, as in Argentina during the Dirty War, part of our own subterranean world of detention sites and torture centers.
We Americans have rewritten our laws, as the Argentines did, to make criminal behavior legal. John Rizzo, the former acting general counsel for the CIA, approved drone attacks that have killed hundreds of people, many of them civilians in Pakistan, although we are not at war with Pakistan. Rizzo has admitted that he signed off on so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. He told Newsweek that the CIA operated “a hit list.” He asked in the interview: “How many law professors have signed off on a death warrant?” Rizzo, in moral terms, is no different from the deported Argentine doctor Bianco, and this is why lawyers in Britain and Pakistan are calling for his extradition to Pakistan to face charges of murder. Let us hope they succeed.
We know of at least 100 detainees who died during interrogations at our “black sites,” many of them succumbing to the blows and mistreatment of our interrogators. There are probably many, many more whose fate has never been made public. Tens of thousands of Muslim men have passed through our clandestine detention centers without due process. “We tortured people unmercifully,” admitted retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey. “We probably murdered dozens of them …, both the armed forces and the C.I.A."

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