Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Turkey wants predator drones

Despite widespread protests in Iraq against the bombings of northern Iraq by the Turkish and Iranian armies (last week saw protests against the bombings in, among other places, the KRG, Baghdad and Falluja), Reuters reports the Turkish government feels what's needed is to 'beef up' the attack via ground attacks which are already in the planning stages. Today's Zaman adds, "Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin said in response to questions from reporters as to whether Turkey is pondering a ground operation in northern Iraq that talks with the Kurdish regional administration in northern Iraq are still under way and that a cross-border ground offensive could be launched at any time just like aerial strikes." August 17th, the Turkish military began the latest assault on northern Iraq. They like to claim a certain number of killed terrorists (they're referring to the PKK) while the PKK disputes that number. What is known is that the real victims of the Turkish warplanes are the farmers and shepherds who have been forced to flee their homes or killed by the bombings. The Turkish government is outraged by an attack over the weekend and are trying to p.r. the attack by referring to the dead as "people" -- it was an attack on Turkish forces (a PKK atack). Having faced condemnation from around the world for the way their bombings are effecting Iraq's civilian population, Turkey's now trying to present attacks on their forces as attacks on civilians. (Yes, security forces are people. The point is that in the past the Turkish government has repeatedly identified these forces as forces -- police officers, soldiers, etc. -- but they're now trying to manage public opinion and are using "people." You will see that in multiple reports because this is a wave of p.r. that they are just commencing.) The PKK is a Kurdish group that fights for Kurdish independence. (Iran is targeting another Kurdish rebel group, PJAK.) Over the weekend, Craig Whitlock (Washington Post) reported that the Turkish government has requested "a fleet of Predator drones" from the White House, drones they would use on northern Iraq. If such a request is honored (and done so publicly), Barack may see a backlash from the US Kurdish population.

Meanwhile Dar Addustour reports that the conflict between the Kurds and Nouri's State of Law is increasing. Already upset over the oil proposal Nouri and his Cabinet have made, attempts at meeting to discuss theproposed law have been brushed aside by Nouri. This conflict has already led the Kurds to threaten publishing the Erbil Agreement. Meanwhile Alsumaria TV reports, "Kurdistan leader Massoud Barazani and head of Al Iraqiya list Iyad Allawi, discussed in Arbil the situation in Iraq and obstacles hindering the political process, Kurdistan Presidency announced. Both parties called to resolve all pending issues in favor of Iraqis’ interest, the presidency added." Citing an unnamed source, Aswat al-Iraq adds that the two "discussed the differences between Arbil and Baghdad, and the impacts of the Iranian and Turkish bombardment of the border areas in Kurdistan Region."

Thursday journalists and activist Haid al-Mehdi was assassinated in the kitchen of his apartment. UNESCO issued the following yesterday:

The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom today condemned the killing of one of the most prominent and outspoken radio journalists in Iraq.

The body of Hadi al-Mahdi, the 44-year-old host of a popular talk show on Baghdad’s Radio Demozy, was found on 8 September after he was shot dead in his home in the capital, according to a statement from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Mr. al-Mahdi’s show was renowned for being uninhibited for its discussions of many subjects, including corruption in Iraq, and the statement noted that, according to the non-governmental organization (NGO) Reporters without Borders, the journalist had received threats before his death.

“Hadi al-Mahdi and other fearless journalists and commentators are the very soul of democratic debate,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova as she called for an investigation into the killing.

“They practise the fundamental human right of freedom of expression for the benefit of us all. Those who kill journalists must be brought to justice, lest fear paralyze both the media and the ordinary people who rely on professional journalists for the news and analysis that inform their political choice.”

Last week saw the British inquiry into the torture and murder of Iraqi Baha Mousa at the hands of British forces issue a finding, a whitewash. Chris Marsden covers it for WSWS. British Forces News reports today:

Mr Mousa's father, Iraqi police colonel Daoud Mousa, will respond to the damning inquiry report at a press conference in London and urge the authorities to bring prosecutions.

His solicitor Phil Shiner, from Birmingham-based Public Interest Lawyers, will detail which charges are being sought.

Two of the nine Iraqis who were detained with and suffered abuse alongside Mr Mousa will also address the press conference.

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