Wednesday, October 12, 2011

In Iraq, pretty much everyone's a target

Al Rafidayn reports on Iraq's dwindling Jewish community which has fallen throughout the war from "tens of thousands" to seven in Baghdad. The article cites an AFP report on Jews who had left and quotes one stating, "We were reluctant to leave Iraq, it was the only home we knew." However, throughout the war, Jews have been targeted with kidnappings, threats, and murder. For example, in 2007, a Jewish man (the husband of a dentist) was kidnapped from his Baghdad home. A Jewish man shares that his Muslim neighbors treated him with "affection and love" but that it became harder to live there and harder to conceal his religion because it is noted on the national ID card that Iraqis must show when traveling through the many checkpoints. His family home was illegally seized and turned into a space for livestock despite the fact that they have the documents that go back to the 1920s proving they own the property.

All of Iraq's religious minorities have been targeted and live under the threat of violence. Compass Direct News reports on a family in Iraq that converted from Muslim to Christian:

"When our relatives come from Baghdad, we need to move everything that is Christian,” Nuria’s mother said. “In short, we are living two lives. It is very hard on children. We are adults, and it is hard for us to live double lives, but for children it is worse. Even their personality will be affected.”
Nuria and her family, whose names must be withheld for their safety, are Iraqi Arabs who converted from Islam to Christianity. Whereas Assyrian Iraqis are accepted as Christians by ethnic identity, Iraqi Muslims believe Arabs have no business becoming Christians; it is not possible, according to society and the constitution.
Nuria’s parents, like many converts in Iraq, struggle to raise their children as Christians in a society that will only accept them as Muslims. If the children say they believe in Jesus, they face beatings and scorn from their teachers. Because their identification cards say they are Muslims, they cannot enroll in Christian schools, and they must take Islamic religion classes. Likewise, because of their identity cards they later would only be able to marry another Muslim under Islamic rites.

Many are targeted in Iraq which has, in the last week, since an increase in assassinations of and assassination attempts on government officials. Today, Aswat al-Iraq reports, "A security source disclosed today that there is a list of VIPs of the province to be killed or liquidated. The list contains a number of tribal sheikhs, clergymen and artists." In addition, Dar Addustour reports cab drivers are targeted with kidnapping, murder and extortion. Allegedly a gang has been captured in Baghdad which was taking taxis to kill the driver and then steal the car.

Even in 'safe' Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government, things are not as 'safe.' Along with documented human rights abuses, violence does exist there and the most northern region is being bombed by the Turkish military. Aswat al-Iraq noted yesterday, "Turkish artillery resumed its bombing of Kurdish border areas in Seedkan, east Arbil, border control sources said today. [. . .] Kurdistan border areas are under periodical Turkish and Iranian shelling under the pretext of chasing PJAK and PKK parties member, which led to a number of killings and material damages."

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'."

And if you doubt the presumptions Turkey believes it can make regarding the KRG, Dar Addustour reports Turkish officials met in Baghdad with US officials (meet-up took place at the Turkish Embassy) to declare that they would not allow -- they would not allow -- Kirkuk to become part of Kurdistan and that they are alarmed by talk of implementing Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution (Article 140 outlines how the disputed area of Kirkuk will be resolved -- a census will be held, followed by a referendum, leaving the issue up to the inhabitants of Kirkuk).

In Iraq, everyone's a target. Sunnis, Shi'ite pilgrims, everyone. Remember that the next time the White House tries to insist what a 'success' the Iraq 'experiment' has been.

Except for Third, everything listed below updated last night or this morning:

Blogger/Blogspot's not reading the feeds currently. David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. This is from his "Free Trade Agreements Killing Jobs and Labor Rights" (TruthOut):

Last week President Obama broke his campaign commitment and put three free trade agreements up for a vote in Congress. Business interests, ecstatic at the prospect, promise they'll bring us jobs. Experience tells us, however, their promises are worthless.
Nineteen years ago, when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was in Congress, supporters said it too would create jobs and protect labor rights. Before agreeing to new free trade treaties with Colombia, South Korea and Panama, Congress should look at the dismal record.
Promise #1. A typical pro-business study predicted in 1992 that NAFTA would create 130,000 U.S. jobs in two years, double U.S. exports to Mexico, and create 609,000 jobs there. Today Tom Donahue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, repeats the promise, saying the three new treaties also "are about creating jobs."
According to the Economic Policy Institute, however, between 1993 and 2004 the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico ballooned by $107 billion, which cost 1,015,290 U.S. jobs, 123,000 in California. But although those jobs went south, Mexico lost far more jobs because of the treaty than those relocated from the U.S.
Mexico lost a million jobs just in the first year the treaty took effect. Because the treaty allowed U.S. grain companies to dump corn in Mexico, 1.3 million farmers lost their livelihood as well. Pork dumping cost another 120,000 jobs. Eliminating its domestic content laws cost the jobs of thousands of auto parts workers.
Six million people from Mexico came to live and work in the U.S. as a result of this displacement. The Colombian FTA has a provision identical to that in NAFTA, which led to the corn dumping, so those farmers will be uprooted too.

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