Tuesday, August 23, 2011

US still deploying to Iraq, Turkey still bombing Iraq

The Capital-Journal reports, "A departure ceremony will take place Wednesday for members of the 1st Battalion, 108th Aviation Regiment, Kansas National Guard, as they deploy for duty with Operation New Dawn in Iraq." That send-off will be tomorrow, 1:00 pm, at the Ramad Convention Center in Topeka. And the report notes that the Guard members are expected to spend a year in Iraq. No, the administration never really believed there would be a December 31st withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq.

Iraq, which continues to be bombed by Turkish warplanes. Sebnem Arsu (New York Times) reports, "The Turkish military killed at least 100 Kurdish separatists and injured more than 80 during air strikes into northern Iraq during the past week, an army statement said on Tuesday. It added that the strikes would continue." Apparently 'modesty' prevented the Turkish military from boasting of the family of eight they killed on Friday. Why Arsu didn't note it is a question for the New York Times. Meanwhile Ivan Watson (CNN) notes, "On Sunday night, a PKK spokesman said no rebels had been killed." BBC News adds, "The PKK has confirmed three deaths, while local reports say a family of seven were killed by the bombing." Al Rafidayn reports that the KRG's Parliament has criticized the United States for not protecting the Kurdistan region from attacks by Turkey and Iran. The Speaker of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Kamal Kirkuki, held a press conference where he stated, "The Americans have thus far unfortunately refused to carry out their duty to maintain the safety of the borders and the skies of Iraq properly."

The PKK is one of many Kurdish groups which supports and fights for a Kurdish homeland. Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described them in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk." The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has been a concern to Turkey because they fear that if it ever moves from semi-autonomous to fully independent -- such as if Iraq was to break up into three regions -- then that would encourage the Kurdish population in Turkey. For that reason, Turkey is overly interested in all things Iraq. So much so that they signed an agreement with the US government in 2007 to share intelligence which the Turkish military has been using when launching bomb raids. However, this has not prevented the loss of civilian life in northern Iraq. Aaron Hess noted, "The Turkish establishment sees growing Kurdish power in Iraq as one step down the road to a mass separatist movement of Kurds within Turkey itself, fighting to unify a greater Kurdistan. In late October 2007, Turkey's daily newspaper Hurriyet accused the prime minister of the KRG, Massoud Barzani, of turning the 'Kurdish dream' into a 'Turkish nightmare'."

Meanwhile Al Mada reports that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is in Baghdad and plans to spend the next two days attempting to mediate between the State of Law and Iraqiya political slates. He has called for a return to the Erbil Agreement which ended Political Stalemate I in November but was quickly tossed aside by Nouri al-Maliki creating Political Stalemate II which is ongoing and has lasted over eight months so far. (Political Stalemate I lasted just over nine months.) Talabani is said to be optimistic and have seen encouraging signs in the meetings among all political parties that he hosted at his home over the summer.

Dar Addustour adds that Talabani is also expected to announce the next meet-up of the political blocs and to urge that the security ministry posts are filled (filled with more than temporary or 'acting' heads) and the report notes that Iraqiya wants a national meeting to resolve the issue of Minster of Defense and Minister of the Interior.

David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. We'll close with this from Bacon's photo essay "$54 A MONTH FOR WATER YOU CAN'T DRINK" (New American Media):

LANARE, CA - When Mary Broad moved to Lanare in 1955, there were only four other families still living in this tiny, unincorporated community in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley, halfway between old Highway 99 and Interstate 5 on the cracked blacktop of Mt. McKinley Avenue.
It wasn't always this way. Lanare used to be a company town, taking its name from rancher and speculator LA Nares, one of the last of a string of speculators from the east who became owners of the old Spanish land grants - in his case, the Rancho Laguna de Tache. From 1912 to 1925 the town had a post office and a station on the Laton and Western Railway.
Lanare and its neighbors drew their water and life from the Kings River. The next town up the road even changed its name from Liberty Settlement to Riverdale to advertise its proximity. But through the first half of the 1900s, farmers tapped the Kings in the Sierras to the east, to irrigate the San Joaquin Valley's vineyards, orchards and cotton fields. Instead of flowing into the valley past Lanare and Riverdale, in most years the stretch below the mountains became a dry riverbed. Eventually Tulare Lake, the river's terminus, itself was drained for farmland and disappeared.
So, almost, did Lanare. Its people left, and only a few families remained. But in California's housing crunch of the last few decades, Lanare began to grow again. For farm laborers, truck drivers and poor rural working families, living in Lanare was cheaper than urban Fresno fifty miles away.
But for these new residents, the dry riverbed and a century of using its water for irrigation have spelled bad news. Today Lanare's water comes from a well. And in this low-lying area of the San Joaquin Valley, chemicals have become concentrated in the water table. It was no surprise, therefore, that residents discovered their water had high levels of arsenic, a poison. Since then, their effort to find water they can drink has been a search for the life of their town itself.

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