Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Realities re: 'withdrawal,' the prison break, the Electricity Minister resigns

When was the last time you spared a thought - any thought, good or ill - for the war in Iraq?
It isn't actually over, the war, though it is easy to forget that, given the paucity of U.S. news coverage. Insurgents struck three Iraqi cities only yesterday, killing at least 60 in what analysts think was an attempt to ratchet up the terror level as the U.S. and Iraqi governments discuss a continued American presence in the country past 2011.
That's right: Odds are that U.S. troops will still be in Iraq in 2012, two years after the ballyhooed 2010 withdrawal of the last combat brigade.
And yet, for most of us, the Iraq war is so 2004.

The above is the opening to Patrick Kestra's "Iraq war hasn't faded as an issue for everyone" (Philadelphia Inquirer). It's a very interesting column (an "embed reunion" is the focus of it) but read the above and grasp how little of that is being conveyed by much of the media. Jay Carney lies. He's a disgrace. He just can't stop lying which is why we no longer even bother to quote him. The State Dept is a little less mainline focus, a little more out of the spotlight and, for that reason, it's usually more upfront (when compared to the White House). But yesterday's marching orders for both were to lie and claim violence in Iraq was down. When it isn't. When Stuart Bowen, US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, issued a report only weeks ago about how violence has increased this year. But look through your morning papers and you'll find a great many people repeating the White House lie that violence was down and some, like the New York Times, not even bothering to put those words into the mouth of Carney or Victora Nuland (Nuland is a State Dept spokesperson), but presenting it as fact -- as though they never reported on Bowen's finding. You don't get much coverage of Iraq these days, you get even less truths. So appreciate how much reality Kerkstra's brought to light.

In Iraq, the electricity scandal is still so fresh with so many unanswered questions (including whether the contracts really were fraudulent), but Nouri benefits from yesterday's violence -- the bloodiest day of the year so far in Iraq -- because it moves attention away from the issue. Al Mada reports that the Minister of Electricity Ra'ad Shalal al-Ani has resigned. Despite the resignation and yesterday's violence, there are MPs who accuse Nouri of ignoring Parliament. And Al Sabaah reports that Parliament has formed a committee to follow up on the issue, including the unanswered questions of the contracts. Also in Parliament, Hassan Jubouri denounced the Iraqi military's actions in Nineveh, claiming many lives had been lost as a result. Huh? If you read the US media for Iraq, "Huh?" is the response. If you read the Iraqi media, you're well aware that for months this has been a problem, that the governor of the province (who is the brother of the Speaker of Parliament) even joined the protesters to call out the abuse of the military and that the governor, Atheel al-Nujaifi has been sounding alarms over Nouri supporters attempting to form a militia in the province. From a piece we did at Third in April, "Editorial: The press covers up Iraqi protests:"

al nujaifi

That screen snap above? It's of a Mosul protest. And there's a notable there.

Let's circle him to make sure we're all on the same page.

al nujaifi 2

That's Atheel al-Nujaifi. He is the brother of Osama al-Nujaifi who is the Speaker of Parliament in Iraq. That would be called news worthy in and of itself.

Guess what else?

Atheel al-Nujaifi, pictured above, is also governor fo the province. And he broke through the military barricade, with people piling in behind him, to join the protesters in Ahrar Square. "The notorious Nasser Al Ghannam could not put a stop to the Free of Mosul -- after imposing a curfew last night starting at 1.00 a.m. this morning he proceeded with his troops to cut off all bridges and roads as well as arrest people who were marching to the Square of the Free -- HOWEVER, Atheel Al Nujaifi joined a huge demonstrations to the Square of the Free and broke the blockade. Well done Atheel Al Nujaifi! I wonder whether he has started seeing the light!"

All of that gets ignored by US media outlets. It doesn't play into the 'things are looking up' and 'turned corner' narratives. Also likely to be buried today is the report Parliament received about the Hilla prison break. Al Rafidayn reports that Parliament's Commission on Security and Defense has completed their report and it was presented today. The figures are 1275 prisoners and 400 guards and the commission felt too few guards were present at night. The commission found signs of corruption and points to the priosn population's access to military clothes and mobile phones as well as "prohibited tools." They also found the prison director to be lacking in needed experience.

In Iraq, many are celebrating the month of Ramadan. That should read, many are celebrating the month of Ramadan as a religious observance. But not all. Dar Addustour reports that prices have gone up on staples not covered by the rations card -- obviously, some are celebrating it as a chance to gouge customers. Shopper "Jabbar M" says she's not surprised by the increase in prices and that it happens each Ramadan, especially with regards to popular staples such as lentils and meat.

Community sites updated last night and this morning and we'll note them plus On The Wilder Side, Jane Fonda, Adam vs The Man and Antiwar.com:

That's everybody? No. But that's all Blogger/Blogspot's reading. Swiping from Betty's site

Everything except Third below "Iraq snapshot" updated last night -- that's five sites. They're just not showing as updated. It's a Blogger/Blogspot issue. We'll close with this from Chris Floyd's "Ishaqi Again: Another Day, Another Atrocity in the Endless Iraq War" (World Can't Wait):

There was a raid in Ishaqi last week. Armed men crept upon the sleeping houses in the dead of night. Armed men stirring in the darkness, in a land still open, like a flayed wound, to violent death and chaos from every direction, many years after the savage act of aggression that first tore the country to pieces.

They crept toward the houses. They said nothing, gave no warning, could not be clearly seen, did not identify themselves. “Thieves!” someone shouted. Someone grabbed a rifle – one kept ready at hand to guard the sleeping family – and fired a shot to scare away the raiders.

But men creeping in the darkness were not local thieves. They were soldiers of the foreign army that still occupied the land. Foreign invaders, accompanied by forces from the local army they had raised for the government they had built on the mound of a million rotting corpses.

Armed to the teeth with expensive gear bought with public money from bloated war profiteers in the invaders’ home country, the creeping men were not to be frightened off by a rifle shot fired blindly in the darkness. They saw the flash – and lit up the village with heavy gunfire and grenades. They called in a helicopter gunship hovering nearby to support them against the rifle of a villager awakened by the sound of unknown, unidentified, armed men creeping near his house and family.

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