Thursday, August 25, 2011. Chaos and violence continue with at least 19 reported dead and over seventy injured, Iraq's Ambassador to the US agrees US troops in Iraq beyond 2011 is a done-deal, tensions continue between Turkey, and much more.
Luis Martinez (ABC News) reports, "The cost of U.S. military intervention in Libya has cost American taxpayers an estimated $896 million through July 31, the Pentagon said today." A matter of weeks, Barack Obama told the American people (via the foreign press since he wasn't even in the US when he started the Libyan War). We're also told that there must be cuts, cuts, cuts to US government spending. An unpopular war -- an illegal war -- that the American people never supported and almost one billion spent on Barry's little adventure. $896 million could have been spent on schools, seniors, children, jobs programs, you name it. Yesterday on KPFA's Flashpoints Radio, one of the segments was a broadcast of a talk Michael Parenti gave on his book tour to promote his latest book The Face of Imperialism.
Michael Parenti: Now what does Libya teach us? I mention Libya in this book but I didn't say that much about it because this book was in production and all before this stuff started here. It came out in April. Libya shows us just what I've been trying to say. Libya's sin was that it had charted a different course. It had a leader, "dictator," as everybody called him. Nobody in the west, by the way Now you tell me in the last 20 years how many of you read and heard [Hosni] Mubarak of Egypt described as a dictator? He was always President Mubarak, isn't that right? That's right. President Mubarak. How many -- how many here hear the Saudi Arabia family described as dictators? No. Saudi Arabia. Man, come on. Libya is like Athens compared to Saudi Arabia. Yeah. It's run -- it's run by the Saudi family with their Wahhabi fanatical Islamics who, you know, throw acid in a woman's face if it is uncovered -- and creepos like that. Okay. So what we had in Libya is a 'humanitarian intervention' -- and I'll end it right here, if you read this book I hope you can anticipate these things --- sponsored by the UN which becomes aerial and ground war against the existing government and the people. Even when the government -- and this is what happened in Yugoslavia, which is in the book, and Iraq -- Even when the government calls and Libya too did it in the second month and offers to negotiate, the attacks continue because the goal is really not a negotiated settlement. The goal is to unsettle. And so they bombed Libya for six months just as they bombed Yugoslavia for two and a half months, almost three months. The bombing is sponsored by the United Nations, not the bombing of Iraq or Yugoslavia. With Yugoslavia, China and Russia vetoed it. This time China and Russia, not that close to or friendly with Libya, just abstained. But even with the UN going in, the attacks in each of these cases is not carried out by the UN, it's carried out by NATO. And behind NATO, it's carried out essentially by the US. And that means massive bombing, destruction of facilities, ports, houses, hospitals, food supply depots and the like. Drones, helicopter gunships strafing civilians. The loss of life estimates 20, 30, 40 a day of Libyan civilians who were the civilians that the NATO forces were 'protecting.' They came in to rescue them -- but to save you, we had to blow you up and kill some of you. Pretenses and lies about atrocities? I remember in the first week, somebody being interviewed -- and I think it was on Amy Goodman to -- and he said, "Yes, 10,000 have been slaughtered by Gaddafi." What? 10,000? The fight had just begun, these small 'rebel' groups, we hear. But somehow Gaddafi had gone out there and he had killed 10,000. Who? Where? What locales? For what motive? What were the disturbances that led him to do that? But these kind of things come up. What you do is you demonize the leader -- whether it's a [Slobodan] Milosevic, a [Manuel] Noriega or Saddam Hussein -- who was a butcher. Saddam Hussein was a killer and a murderer and a torturer. But when he was doing that, they loved him in Washington. They adored him. He was -- he was a staunch ally. They loved him. It's when he got out of line on the oil quotas, that's when they started. It's when he refused to privatize his economy, he kept it state run, and he started training Iraqis in engineering and sending them abroad -- men and women. It's when he kept some of the reforms that the previous democratic government had had. Remember, it was a democratic government back then. And when the US went in and said, "We're going to teach these poor wittle Iraqi-wakis what democracy is, teach them how to do democracy because they don't know." Five thousand year civilization, they don't know how to do democracy. But the Americans, we know how to do democracy. Look at our democracy. Isn't it great? Don't you feel good? I mean, it's the most expensive democracy in the world. We spend 20 billion dollars every four years to elect the president, I mean who wouldn't want to match that democracy? And then the role of the media --again so predictable. Massive demonization of the leader gives license to bomb his people. But not concerned about democracy in Egypt. Not concerned about democracy in Saudi Arabia. See, it's here. Let me go back to the first points of this talk, I'll be wrapping it up now. It's here that the liberal critics come in and say, "You see how confused they are. They're going against Libya because it's not a democracy, but they're giving aid to Saudi Arabia and to the dictator Mubarak for 30 years in Egypt. How confused." They're not confused, you're confused, you stupid ass. They know which democratically elected presidents are theirs and which ones are not that are really, sincerely trying to make changes like [Salvador] Allende was doing and people like that and those are the ones they target. They know which dictators they like and support and work with and which ones they dislike. And you can also see now the death squads will be coming in as in Kosovo and in Iraq. The IMF and the World Bank which Gaddafi kept out of Libya for forty years, they're already getting ready to come in. Oil companies are coming in but that was going to happen anyway because Gaddafi, in the last seven or eight years, he saw what happened to Iraq and he started softening and making overtures and saying, "Okay, SAPs, you can bring them in." Structural Adustment Programs -- meaning cutting back on the social wage, letting private capitol take over some of the oil companies and all that. He was -- He was beginning to. But not enough. Not enough. He was not a real vassal state. He was not leaving that thing wide open. He was still had certain protections in there and he also had abuses and the like to. The goal is privatization deregulate everything, every body's poorer, every body's weaker. Wipe out the social wage -- that is the social services and the communal needs that are there. The potential enemy state becomes a vassal state. That is just some of the things the book is about.
The story is not over -- not by a long shot -- but the saga of the Libyan resistance to the superpower might of the United States and its degenerate European neocolonial allies will surely occupy a very special place in history. For five months, beginning March 19, the armed forces of a small country of six million people dared to defy the most advanced weapons systems on the planet, on terrain with virtually no cover, against an enemy capable of killing whatever could be seen from the sky or electronically sensed. Night and day, the eyes of the Euro-American war machine looked down from space on the Libyan soldiers' positions, with the aim of incinerating them. And yet, the Libyan armed forces maintained their unit integrity and personal honor, with a heroism reminiscent of the loyalist soldiers of the Spanish Republic under siege by German, Italian and homegrown fascists, in the late 1930s.
The Germans and Italians and Generalissimo Franco won that war, just as the Americans, British, French and Italians may ultimately overcome the Libyan army. But they cannot convey honor or national legitimacy to their flunkies from Benghazi, who have won nothing but a badge of servitude to foreign overseers. The so-called rebels won not a single battle, except as walk-ons to a Euro-American military production. They are little more than extras for imperial theater, a mob that traveled to battle under the protective umbrella of American full spectrum dominance of the air. They advanced along roads already littered with the charcoal-blackened bodies of far better men, who died challenging Empire.
WBKO reports there will be a send-off ceremony Saturday for the almost 600 Kentucky National Guard members scehduled to deploy to Iraq for a year. Angela Deines (Capital-Journal) reports that there was a send-off ceremony yesterday for 267 members of the Kansas National Guard who are headed to Fort Hood and then onto Iraq for a year long Operation New Dawn deployment. She quotes married couple Rosa and Spc Michael Comeau. The husband states, "It's never fun leaving home. But we kind of need the money." (The economy's been a better draft for the military than the old lottery system.) While Rosa Comeau states, "I just want him to leave so he can come back." This will be Spc Michael Comeau's second tour of duty in Iraq.
Some might find it strange for all these troops to be deploying on year long tours of Iraq in August 2011. But that's only if you really thought the US military was leaving December 31, 2011. Those who still need to believe in fairy tales should avoid the interview Josh Rogin (Foreign Policy) did with Iraq's Ambassador to the US Samir Sumaida'ie who states, "The principle that there will be some military presence [in Iraq beyond 2011] to help train Iraqi military and police has been largely agreed upon." This jibes with both what US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said on Friday and what Ali al-Dabbagh (Nouri al-Maliki's spokesperson) said over the weekend. Sumaida'ie addes, "You'll see it when you see it. Americans want everything now or yesterday. We don't do it like this. We do it in our own sweet time." Rogin adds:
Sumaida'ie tried to explain what's really going on here. He said that there is a consensus among all political players, with the exceptions of the followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, that Iraq needs some American military support, particularly when it comes to training, past the end of this year. "However, the form that this will take and the legal details are still being debated," he said.
He said the debate over the number of U.S. troops to remain in Iraq has ranged between 8,000 and 20,000, and that they would be non-combat forces limited to the training of Iraqi military and police forces.
Dar Addustour reports that political activists and youth organizations are gearing up for a demonstration September 9th in Baghdad's Tahrir Square. The protesters assert that the actions on the 9th will return Tahrir Square to the demonstrators and send notice to Nouri al-Maliki and his Cabinet that they need to resign. The 9th is being called "The Dawn of the Liberators" and the protests will kick off at 11:00 a.m. The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "We live for an idea, and ideas are Bullet Proof!" Revolution of Iraq's major iraqi revolution adds that they will not rest "until we achieve complete freedom and expell the occupier, change the Constitution and establish fair elections to form a national government" that represents Iraqis. In related news, Al Rafidayn notes that the Sadr bloc is planning to issue an evaluation of Nouri al-Maliki. Per Moqtada al-Sadr, the bloc gave Nouri six months to show improvement in basic services, addressing corruption and other issues raised by the protesters. Last time, Moqtada sided with Nouri in an attempt to bury and derail the protests. His supporters may or may not allow that to be an option this time. Al Mada reports that yesterday Iraqi President Jalal Talabani gave a speech to Nouri al-Maliki and his cabinet, a speech in which he declared that Iraq was 'in bloom.' Other pearls Jalal tossed out included, "We need more facts, not just negatives."
Yesterday's snapshot noted a Ramadi suicide bomber took his own life and that of three police officers with five more left injured. Today Michael S. Schmidt and Omar al-Jawoshy (New York Times) report the death toll reached 7 (including five police officers) with four more and one civilian left injured. The reporters add, "The head of the police in Anbar Province, Maj. Gen. Hadi Rizaich, said that security officials had some warning that there was going to be a car bomb attack in Ramadi on Wednesday night, but had been unable to find the car."
Today saw three suicide bombings. Reuters notes a Basra suicide car bomber took his own life and left 4 other people dead with another thirty-four injured while in Falluja a suicide car bomber took his own life and the lives of 4 police officers with another five left injured and in Garma a suicide bomber and a suicide car bomber paired up, one after the other, taking their own lives and the lives of 3 police officers with five more left injured. Reuters also notes that a Falluja roadside bombing left three Iraqi soldiers injured, a Baghdad car bombing claimed 1 life and left fourteen more injured, a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed 1 life and left two more people injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing left five people injured, a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and dropping back to last night, a Kirkuk rocket attack left "an employee of the state-run oil products company" injured..Aswat al-Iraq notes a bombing targeting 7th Army Commander Maj Gen Ismail al-Duleimy who escaped unharmed but whose driver was killed and his two bodyguards injured.
Meanwhile Al Mada reports MP Sabah al-Saddi, who serves on the Integrity Commission, is calling out Nouri al-Maliki for disregarding the problemsin the Ministry of Electricity. The minister resigned following questions about various contracts resulted in charges of fraud and corruption. Sabah al-Saadi notes that the Deputy Prime Minister was involved in the scandal and remains in place. al-Saadi states that this is "a continuation of a series of failures to solve the electicity problems" and that Nouri is doling out positions based upon loyalty and not upon qualifications and that the biggest victimin all of this is the Iraqi citizen. In addition,Aswat al-Iraq reports that the "Integrity Commission has detained a doctor in a hospital in southern Iraq's Amara city, the center of Missan Province, accused of taking bribes from his patients".
Aswat al-Iraq reports there was a demonstration today at the Foreign Ministry and that the Undersectrary Mohammed al-Haj Hmoud "received on Thursday the demands of demonstrators, condemning the aggressive acts against Iraqi sovereignty by Turkey and Iran" and activist Raad Abbas is quoted stating that "the motive of our demonstration is to inform the Iraqi Foreign Ministry that the aggressive attacks on nothern Iraq are rejected and we demand the Iraqi government to take a firm attitude towards the violations against the Iraqi sovereignty." The Economist notes:
THE dull thud of mortar shells echoes across the barren mountains separating Turkey from Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. Columns of armoured vehicles trundle along the border as Turkish F-16 fighter jets screech over their targets: rebels of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). On a nearby peak hundreds of Kurdish "peace mothers" keep vigil for their sons; some of them soldiers in the Turkish army, others PKK fighters inside Iraq. They won't come down, they say, until Turkey halts its air strikes. The army is blocking buses containing thousands of Kurds who want to join the protests, paralysing traffic in the narrow mountain roads. "They are being used by the PKK -- we won't allow it," says a stony-faced corporal.
The scenes are ominously reminiscent of the worst excesses of the 1990s, when some 3,000 Kurdish villages were emptied and destroyed, and torture and extra-judicial killings of dissidents were rife.
Although the PKK has itself been guilty of numerous human rights abuses, and has frequently deliberately targeted civilians, the recent escalation in its campaign did not come out of nothing. In the run-up to the 12 June general election, the PKK had scaled back its attacks in the hope that, once the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had secured a third consecutive term in power, it would be prepared to launch peace negotiations.
The AKP duly won the election, securing nearly half of the popular vote. But, rather than becoming conciliatory, flushed with its electoral triumph, the AKP became more hard-line. A total of 36 members and sympathisers of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) won seats in parliament in the June election. One was immediately stripped of his seat. Five others had run for parliament from prison, where they were being held on remand on charges of belonging to a PKK front organisation. The Turkish courts refused to release them pending the completion of their trial. Not only did Erdogan reject calls for negotiations but he refused even to acknowledge that there was a "Kurdish problem", claiming that his government had already granted the country's Kurds all the rights that they needed.
Although a large proportion of Kurdish nationalists are sympathetic to the PKK, there are many who are opposed to the organisation and appalled by its often indiscriminate use of violence. But Erdogan has refused even to meet with non-violent Kurdish nationalists.
Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News states that Iraq's government has given a "tacit green light" for the bombings because "Iraq opposes a ground assault by Turkey into its northern territory but is also uncomfortable with the presence of outlawed groups in the area, an Iraqi official said, calling for consultation before any military move." Hurriyet also reports, "In Ankara, Iraq's ambassador to Turkey, Abdul Amir Kamil Abi Tabikh, suggested that his country would not object to any ground incursion by Turkish troops to chase the Kurdish militants 'as long as the operation is in line with the bilateral treaties.Turkey's safety means Iraq's safety,' Turkey's Anatolia news agency quoted the ambassador as saying.."
Ali Abdel-Azim (Al Mada) reports that Knights of the State of Law -- a militia associated with Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law -- is causing problems not just in their threats on Kuwait (or their current attempts to take over Nineveh Province -- the Nineveh issue isn't noted in the article) but also in all the time and effort it's causing State of Law to deny that a conspiracy is currently taking place. Alsumaria TV adds, "State of Law Knights Party part of State of Law Coalition threatened Kuwaiti Government on Tuesday of counterattack and popular mobilization within 48 hours if it persists on building Mubarak port. Kuwaiti mobilization on the borders will not stop Iraqis from thwarting violation on Iraq. In a press conference attended by Alsumarianews, the party's secretary general Abdul Sattar Jaber Al Abboudi said that the previous statement of State of Law Knights has given Kuwaitis a 10 day deadline starting August 13 to pressure the Kuwaiti Government over Mubarak port."
By Joan Wile, author, "Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace" (Citadel Press)
On Sunday, Aug. 21, I had the privilege of speaking via conference call with several young people from the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. It was the occasion of what they have termed the "Global Day of Listening," during which the kids spoke with supporters and sympathizers all over the world for approximately 5 and a half hours.
I was immensely saddened to hear that they are discouraged about the prospects of peace in their beleaguered country. The kids stated more than once that things are worse than they were the last time they held the conference call a few months ago, and that their hopes for peace have dwindled down to almost zero. This was in marked contrast to earlier conversations in which I participated, when they projected a sense of ebullience and hope. I had the impression in those past talks that they felt confident that they could make a difference through their admirable efforts to end the conflicts within their nation.
Yesterday, they expressed their belief that the Afghan people desire that our troops leave their country in a responsible manner as soon as possible, that our military presence there essentially contributes to the decreasing potential for peace. Yet, they see little chance of our withdrawal in the foreseeable future.
The publication recently of a report in numerous Online publications that an agreement is about to be signed which would allow thousands of U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan until at least 2024 certainly reinforces the young peoples' despair. US Troops May Stay in Afghanistan Until 2024 | Common Dreams
The group (AYPV) of mostly teen-agers is located 100 miles to the north of Kabul in a mountainous province called Bamiyan. Their lives are extremely difficult. By contrast, an average middle-class American youngster's life seems like a rhapsodic fantasy. One of the younger ones, for instance, walks miles daily to obtain fresh water for his family. School is a luxury oftentimes, given that some must work the farms or market potatoes full-time to help support their families. The landscape is desolate, and there is a lack of warm clothing to protect against the extreme cold. Despite their hardships, though, this group of juveniles manages to devote themselves to the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. Among their many activities, they cleared through substantial debris to create a Peace Park, in which they planted trees and shrubs.
They have made a number of beautiful short videos very effectively urging peace. (See below.) They've traveled 100 miles through difficult and even perilous terrain to Kabul for their periodic Global Days of Listening.
Their mentor and interpreter is Hakim, a doctor from Singapore, who has spent several years organizing the AYPV, writing eloquent articles promoting their cause, creating and producing their videos, and interpreting in several languages, including excellent and fluent English, for their global conference calls. Influenced by Gandhi and Noam Chomsky's writings, Hakim gave up his private medical practice to focus on leading the young Afghans to pursue peace.
I tried to help them feel more positive as best I could, telling them I had lived many, many years and learned that things often change, even when you don't expect them to. I urged them to keep up their wonderful and inspiring actions, and that we peace grannies (the Granny Peace Brigade, Grandmothers Against the War, Grandmothers for Peace International, and the Raging Grannies, among many) would do the same.
But, they need so much more solace and stimulation than I or any one person could provide. I hope readers of these words will be moved as I was by the plight of these kids we threaten with our instruments of war. Please contact them by writing email@example.com. They are very heartened by words of encouragement from people from other locales, particularly the United States, a principal cause of the chaos they must endure. Ask to be notified of the various ways you can help them
Finally, please watch this very brief video made by the youngsters. They will steal your heart.