Monday, October 03, 2011

7,000 US troops in Iraq in 2012?

In Iraq, Political Stalemate II continues. The political blocs are set to meet up at Iraqi president Jalal Talabani's home Tuesday evening in an attempt to reach some form of understanding. Political Stalemate I (the period following the March 7, 2010 elections) ended when the political blocs and the US brokered the Erbil Agreement. However, Nouri al-Maliki followed it in terms of retaining the prime minister post but, once he had that, immediately tossed aside the Erbil Agreement and did not honor what other political blocs were suppopsed to receive -- including the creation of a new security commission that would have been headed by Ayad Allawi who is the head of Iraqiya which came in first in the March 7th elections.

Al Mada reports that there is not a lot of hope going into Tuesday's meet-up though Allawi is stating that he's "hopeful." Kurds continue to feel shut out and call for the Erbil Agreement to be honored as well as for something other than the oil & gas draft bill Nouri has proposed. As to the issue of the US military withdrawing at the end of the year, the article quotes a source reminding that the decision is Nouri's since he is the leader of the armed forces. Al Mada also reports Allawi is stating "no" to immunity for US troops that would remain in Iraq beyond the end of the year. Allawi notes that US Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani last week while Talabani was in the US and Biden stated that immunity is a must for US troops. The article also notes that Nouri has stated no US troops will remain in Iraq after the end of the year . . . except for trainers which is okay and universally recognized as being okay. And as we noted over the weekend, if Nouri has the power to ask for trainers than he has the power to grant immunity to them. The two have to go hand-in-hand to exist. Meanwhile National Alliance MP Mansour al-Tamimi speaks of 7,000 US troops remaining in Iraq after December 31st. This would supposedly anger the Sadr bloc but Nouri's State of Law is also at loggered heads with the Sadr bloc over the issue of amnesty.

Al Mada also reports
on Ayatollah al-Lami, a feminist who protested last Friday in Baghdad's Tahrir Squre and was abducted and tortured by a group which claims to 'defend Iraqi women's freedom' but actually is under Nouri's control. Photographs demonstrate that once abducted by Nouri's group, al-Lami's face was beaten and wounds on her back showed other signs of torture. Nouri has targeted the protesters for months now as well as journalists that cover the protests. This has led to a loud outcry from international human rights organizations as well as NGOs. One such group would be the International Crisis Group which last week issued a series of recommendations (see the September 27th snapshot) including that the US government and the international community need to publicly call out Nouri's government as needed: "Publicly express disapproval of the Iraqi government's and parliament's failures regarding long-overdue reform." Don't expect that to happen any time soon. When the LGBT community was being targeted, the US government ignored it and that was after the White House flipped to Democratic control. Regardless of which party holds the White House, they apparently both want continued occupation of Iraq and will overlook anything and everything in order to continue the illegal war.

In other protest news, Dar Addustour reports that college students in Erbil protested yesterday about education issues and that security forces fired in the air or on the crowd (it's not clear) to disperse the students.

US State Dept employee Peter Van Buren is the author of the new book We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (American Empire Project) which was released last week. Saturday, he spoke with Scott Simon (NPR's Weekend Edition):

SIMON: Mr. Van Buren, in the end, did you do more harm or good in Iraq?

BUREN: I think the best that I could hope for is that I didn't do much harm, in the sense that the things that we did probably disappeared the same way water poured into the desert goes away. In a moment, you don't even realize it was ever there. We saw the problems. We couldn't help but see the problems. And instead of spending the money to bring clean water to children, we spent the money on Arabic language translations of American novels. When we had a chance to actually help farmers, we did it only by accident, only because of Dairy Carey's efforts. When we really decided to spend some money, we spent it on a giant Potemkin chicken factory that serves no one. So the harm was what we didn't do more than what we did do.

Bonnie notes Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "La Femme Barack" went up last night. On this week's Law and Disorder Radio -- a weekly hour long program that airs Monday mornings on WBAI and around the country throughout the week and is hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights), topics explored include the Irvine 11 (student protesters) with attorneys Lisa Holder and Dan Stormer, and Joe Allen on his new book People Wasn't Made To Burn about a share cropping family and the obstacles they faced.

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