Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Panetta, non-withdrawal and more

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's visit to Iraq this week has not yet resulted in more press covergae than former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' Never-Ending Farewell Tour but give it time. On the trip, he stated that the US military would defend itself against Iran whom Panetta alleges is supplying weapons to Iraqi militias and that it would defend itself against Iraqi militias such as Moqtada al-Sadr's militias. Al Mada reports that Nouri al-Maliki's spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh stated that the US military would not do military operations against al-Sadr. (It's not in the article but I'm told on the phone that al-Dabbagh also declared yesterday that the Panetta is mistaken and no military action against Iran will take place using Iraq as a staging platform as a result of the existing outlines in the SOFA and the Strategic Framework Agreement.)

Meanwhile Al Mada reports that Nouri's coalition partners are stating they are not partners in the talks regarding withdrawal or extension, that they have been shut out of those discussions. It's stated that Nouri is taking over the issue and doing so claiming he's responsible for the security of Iraq. The article reminds that Nouri named himself Minister of the Interior, Minister of Defense and Minister of National Security -- instead of naming people to those posts.

David S. Cloud and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) explore the domestic terrain in Iraqi leadership when it comes to extension:

At this point, it remains unclear whether Allawi and Prime Minister Nouri Maliki can make peace. Without rapprochement, Maliki does not have the political protection to win parliamentary approval for a security agreement that would allow a small number of American troops to remain in Iraq. Currently, Maliki relies on the political support of anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr to stay in office, and Sadr wants all U.S. troops out at the end of the year.
Members of Allawi's Iraqiya list, meanwhile, wonder why they should support an extended American military presence, when the deal to form a government that the U.S. helped broker in November has not been realized. They see Maliki serving as acting interior and defense minister and feel the U.S. government didn't live up to its commitments.

Nouri's assault on Iraqi citizens continue. AFP notes, "Human Rights Watch called on the Iraqi government Wednesday to revise a draft law it said contained provisions that violate international law. The New York-based watchdog said it had obtained a copy of the draft law, saying it curtailed freedom of assembly and expression, and contravened Iraq's own constitution."

The only cnadidate currently in the presidential race who would end the wars is US House Rep Ron Paul who announced yesterday that he would not seek re-election to the House but would instead focus solely on his run for the Republican presidential nomination. Tonight on Adam vs. the Man (7:00 pm EST on RT), Adam Kokesh interviews Ron Paul.

Meanwhile Tim Arango (New York Times) reports:

Advocates say that the administration is ignoring a directive from Congress to draft a contingency plan to expedite visas should those Iraqis who worked for the United States government, especially interpreters for the military, come under increased threat after American forces are drawn down at the end of the year.
“This is not a priority right now for anyone in the government,” said Becca Heller, who runs the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project at the Urban Justice Center in New York. “Not enough people in the Obama administration care about this topic.”
The flow of Iraqis to the United States this year could be the smallest since 2007, when the Bush administration was facing an uproar for not effectively addressing the refugee crisis.

We'll go over the article in today's snapshot. Right now we'll close with this from Chris Hedges' "A War Against Dissent: A Cautionary Tale : Carlos Montes and the Security State" (Information Clearing House):

On May 17 at 5 in the morning the Chicano activist Carlos Montes got a wake-up call at his home in California from Barack Obama’s security state. The Los Angeles County sheriff’s SWAT team, armed with assault rifles and wearing bulletproof vests, as well as being accompanied by FBI agents, kicked down his door, burst into his house with their weapons drawn, handcuffed him in his pajamas and hauled him off to jail. Montes, one of tens of thousands of Americans who have experienced this terrifying form of military-style assault and arrest, was one of the organizers of the demonstrations outside the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., and he faces trial along with 23 other anti-war activists from Minnesota, as well as possible charges by a federal grand jury.

The widening use of militarized police units effectively nullifies the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which prohibits the use of the armed forces for civilian policing. City police forces have in the last few decades amassed small strike forces that employ high-powered assault rifles, armored personnel carriers, tanks, elaborate command and control centers and attack helicopters. Poor urban neighborhoods, which bear the brunt of the estimated 40,000 SWAT team assaults that take place every year, have already learned what is only dimly being understood by the rest of us—in the eyes of the state we are increasingly no longer citizens with constitutional rights but enemy combatants. And that is exactly how Montes was treated. There is little daylight now between raiding a home in the middle of the night in Iraq and raiding one in Alhambra, Calif.

Montes is a longtime activist. He helped lead the student high school walkouts in East Los Angeles and anti-war protests in the 1960s and later demonstrations against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was one of the founding members of the Brown Berets, a Chicano group that in the 1960s styled itself after the Black Panthers. In the 1970s he evaded authorities while he lived in Mexico and he went on to organize garment workers in El Paso, Texas. He and the subpoenaed activists are reminders that in Barack Obama’s America, being a dissident is a crime.

“It was an FBI action, as I recall,” Sgt. Jim Scully told reporters of the Pasadena Star-News. “We assisted them.”

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