Sunday, October 30, 2011

And the war drags on . . .

Charley Keyes (CNN) report that the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has released another report and Keyes emphasizes the findings on the Falluja Waste Water System project:

After seven years of work, deadly insurgent attacks amidst some of the heaviest fighting in Iraq, cost overruns and other problems, the system opened in May. But rather than a rush of success, the effect has been just a drip. By last month, only 6,000 houses were connected to the system. The initial cost estimate was $35 million but the actual cost so far has reached $100 million and may take much more before completion.During construction, workers were continually under attack and stretches of pipeline repeatedly were blown up. Three U.S.reconstruction officials returning from the site were killed by an improvised roadside bomb in 2009, among other deadly incidents related to the project.

Nathan Hodge (Wall St. Journal) adds that the SIGIR is highlighting the problems as part of his call for "robust oversight" by the State Dept which will be in charge after December 31st. The State Dept was addressed in the report released last week, [PDF format warning] "Iraqi Police Development Program: Opportunities Program Accountability and Budget Transparency." The 18-page report (plus appendices) painted a disturbing picture of an out of control State Dept which refused to answer questions or provide information but expects tax payers to fork over money.

The SIGIR explained, "We believe this audit raises serious concerns regarding the PDP [Police Development Programs]'s long-term viability. The continual downsizing of the program, the planned use of unspent funds, and the lack of transparency regarding the use of program funds for 'Embassy platform' purposes (e.g., security, life support, and aviation) raise red flags about the program's fund requirements." The report notes:

Without specific goals, objectives, and performance measures, the PDP could become a "bottomless pit" for U.S. dollars intended for mentoring, advising, and training the Iraqi police forces. Meetings held with Iraqi police officials and training courses provided could simply become "accomplishments," without any indicators of changes in the management and functioning of the Iraqi police forces that can be attributed to this costly program.

Again, they won't provide answers -- they refused to provide answer to Congress as well -- but the State Dept wants billions. This is how you get corruption and waste. But apparently the Democratic Party was not opposed to the Iraq War all those years when Bush occupied the White House, they were just jealous that their donors weren't getting the big contracts. Now they get to use tax payer money to reward their own donors and they no longer feel that oversight is necessary. That's because war is big business.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, the number of US military people killed in the Iraq War since the start of the illegal war was 4481. Tonight? PDF format warning, DoD lists the the number of Americans killed serving in Iraq at 4485.

Reuters notes 1 attorney was shot dead in Mosul, 1 police officer was shot dead in Mosul, a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers with three more injured, a Falluja car bombing injured five people (three were police officers), a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers and an armed attack on a Mosul restaurant left 1 man dead.

In other violence, Today's Zaman notes that the Turkish government has declared that Iraq's government needs to grasp that "neutrality is not an option" for them with regards to the PKK. Meanwhile the shelling of northern Iraq by the Turkish military has not stopped. Aswat al-Iraq notes, "The source told Aswat al-Iraq that the shelling continues against the PKK forces, pointing out that the most affected are the border areas and their villages, where the people left after having their properties damaged."

New content at Third:

Isaiah's latest goes up after this. Pru notes this from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

Turkey: Earthquake highlights oppression of Kurdish minority

comment on article | email | print
Share on: Delicious | Digg | reddit | Facebook | StumbleUpon

by Ron Margulies in Istanbul

This week an earthquake has killed hundreds in south-eastern Turkey, in and around the Kurdish town of Van.

This is a very poor part of the country. The town’s population has swollen in the past 20 years from a few hundred thousand to well over a million, as a result of the war between the Kurdish national movement and the Turkish army. Peasants from the surrounding countryside have flooded in to escape the war and to search for work.

The creaking infrastructure cannot cope, and there are no jobs.

When I visited two years ago there were ramshackle, poorly-built buildings everywhere—even in the town centre. One newspaper has reported that none of the 10 sellers of ready-mix concrete in the town hold the necessary official quality certificates.

It is these buildings, inhabited by the poorest, which collapsed when the earthquake hit. They include a student hall of residence. So far, the official death toll is 366 and this is expected to rise.

The earthquake hit in the middle of extensive military operations by the Turkish army against the Kurdish PKK.

The fighting has been intense for the past two months, with dozens dead on both sides. It was revealed at the beginning of the summer that the Turkish state and PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan had been holding talks and negotiations for the previous five years. Clearly these have now broken down.

In recent weeks the PKK has been reminding the state that there is no military solution, that the PKK cannot be defeated by arms. Last week, 25 Turkish troops were killed in one day. The army’s response, as always, has been to wage further war, blindly and needlessly causing further bloodshed.

© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.

The e-mail address for this site is