Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Snakes (and veils) in schools, League of Righteous a-okay with US trainers

As Iraq has received less and less attention from US outlets, we've turned to the Arabic media more and more. And that's fine and we can do a full snapshot -- if needed -- just from coverage of Iraq in Arabic. However, it is sad that so many outlets have forgotten and ignored Iraq. The first to walk away in the US was the so-called 'independent' media. Panhandle Media ran from Iraq. Not that they ever really covered it, to be honest. During Vietnam, Pacifica had reporters covering the war. Left 'independent' publications featured reports from Vietnam. From time to time, Free Speech Radio News would speak to an Iraqi on the phone and while such coverage was appreciated it only underscored how out of date much of the 'independent' broadcast media was, pretending there was no way to know what Iraqis thought or to reach them or to speak to them. But mainly, they ignored Iraq. The Nation would run a cover insisting that they would not support anyone who wasn't calling for an immediate end to the Iraq War and then hope and pray no one remembered it. If you ever doubt that we're probably better off that all the Democratic Party house organs have lost interest in Iraq, you had only to catch Amy Goodman's pro-US government Democracy Now (with CIA contrator guests!) yesterday.

But what was a fleeting moment on Democracy Now! became a full blown embarrassment for In These Times. Rebecca Burns' "Is the Iraq Occupation Really Drawing to a Close?" could be a strong piece but falls apart due to the insistence of the once radical magazine to treat its audience as Little Golden Book readers. What would Joel Weinstein think if he could see an article about US imperialism in the magazine he started bend over backwards to pretend the commander in chief isn't involved?

Burns is cute with the words declaring, "With all 46,000 U.S. troops in Iraq scheduled to withdraw by December 31, the White House and Pentagon have issued contradictory statements on whether the United States will seek to keep a force of several thousand troops in the country for training Iraqi security forces." Yes, the White House and Pentagon did issue contradictory statements -- they did so on Saturday and they both contradicted the AP report. The White House and the Pentagon have not issued any statements contradicting each other. But Burns is cute with the words. It's not a lie because they did contradict AP. It's just misleading.

It gets worse. She runs with an anonymous quote from the an unidentified State Dept official while ignoring official statements given on the record by the State Dept -- the official statements won't fit the crap she's selling. Which is? "But what are the real issues at stake as the Pentagon continues to press for an agreement?"

Yes, it's the Pentagon. That's her claim anyway. And maybe her readers are as stupid as Amy Goodman thinks her own viewers are?

If they are that stupid, they'll think, "That damn General James Jeffrey! Engaged in those negotiations!"

Of course, if they have any common sense, they'll realize James Jeffrey is the US Ambassador to Iraq, appointed by and serving at the discretion of the President -- that would be Barack Obama. If they grasp that, all the lies Rebecca Burns has carefully constructed to present Barack The Innocent up against that out of control Pentagon. Poor Barack, he's practically Joan Crawford in Sudden Fear or Female On The Beach. Again, it's this presentation from the Cult of St. Barack that has helped so many Americans see Barack as weak. Were it true, he would be weak. But it's not true. Samantha Power is his point person and is overseeing the negotiations as he wants. Joe Biden is supposed to visit Iraq shortly to press on this issue.

And then there's this section of the report:

Second, while U.S. military officials have attempted to portray the issue of immunity as an uncontroversial one -- a commander at Fort Bliss said of the issue, "We shouldn't see American soldiers in Iraqi courts on trumped-up charges" -- Iraqi reluctance to grant continued immunity for U.S. troops stems from a growing body of evidence that the U.S. military has covered up serious crimes committed by its forces in Iraq. The Iraqi government has launched an investigation into a 2006 incident after WikiLeaks released a diplomatic cable alleging that Iraqi civilians had been shot in the head by U.S. troops, rather than killed in an airstrike as the military reported.

Really? Reading that, what are you to take away?

Most readers would no doubt take away that WikiLeaks released documents that informed the Iraqi government, the world, about an incident in 2006.

Burns should be ashamed of herself.

The 2006 incident was reported in real time. McClatchy Newspapers, Democracy Now, the Guardian and many others covered it in 2006. We covered this at length in the September 2, 2011 snapshot -- how this was covered and much more including:

Annie Gowen (Washington Post) adds that Nouri al-Maliki's spokesperson Ali al-Moussawi is stating that the investigation into what happened in Ishaqi will be reopened as a result of the cable. We'll ignore the rhetoric of the spokesperson and note Nouri has some sort of a viral outrage that comes and goes. Now he's outraged. But this slaughter happened a month before he became prime minister-designate (the first time, April 2006) and a month after he was prime minister (May 2006), the US military released their white wash report. In fact, from the June 2nd headlines on Democracy Now!:
Iraqi PM: US Killings of Iraqis "Daily Phenomenon"
Meanwhile, Iraq's Prime Minister has lashed out at the US military over what he has called the "daily phenomenon" of US attacks on Iraqi civilians. In an interview with the New York Times, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki said many troops "do not respect the Iraqi people." Maliki went on to say: "They crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion. This is completely unacceptable."
Again, it must be a kind of viral outrage that comes and goes. Monday's snapshot noted, "Over the weekend, Al Rafidayn reported that the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has refused to meet with Nouri al-Maliki and other politicians. For the last 8 weeks, al-Sistani has refused them. Why? His clerics say that he feels the people's needs are not being addressed and that the government has failed to deliver basic services and to reduce corruption." Aswat al-Iraq reports today Ahmed al-Safi, the Grand Ayatollah's representative, called out today "the absence of trust among political entities" (and it's seen as if the criticism was coming from the Grand Ayatollah).

Got it? The incident was known in 2006, as was the white wash. (We've also covered the issue of immunity and the fact that Iraqis have been vocal about the fact that Americans punished by the American legal system have not been punished as they would have been in Iraq. Specifically, Steven D. Green's life sentence instead of death sentence caused huge outrage. Don't expect Rebecca Burns to report on that, In These Times was never interested in the gang-rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, not even when they tried to pretend they were interested in the Iraq War.)

Again, when you see the lies, distortions and deliberate misinformation Panhandle Media provides, we should all be glad that they lost interest in Iraq.

In the real world, Political Stalemate II continues. The Kurds remain at odds with Nouri. Dar Addustour reports that Nouri's spokesperson states that a Kurdish delegation will arrive October 24th in Baghdad to speak with Nouri and the Kurdish bloc states they will be insisting that the Erbil Agreement be implemented.

The Erbil Agreement ended Political Stalemate I after over eight months of deadlock following the March 7, 2010 elections in which Nouri al-Maliki's slate came in second to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya. Per the Constitution, Allawi should have been named prime minister-designate and given first right to form a coalition. Nouri refused to allow that to happen.

The political blocs and the US hammered out an agreement in Erbil back in November. It would allow Nouri to continue as Prime Minister and, for that concession, the other political blocs would get various things in return.

What the Iraqi people wanted -- as evidenced by their votes -- was of no interest to the US government.

Nouri agreed to the Erbil Agreement. And because of it, he was named prime minister-designate and then prime minister. And he tossed aside the agreement the minute he got what he wanted.

Al Mada adds that KRG President Massoud Barzani states that the Erbil Agreement is not the problem, that all the participants agreed upon the agreement. It is the failure to implement the Erbil Agreement that is the problem and that goes to the inability of the government to work as a real partnership. Al Rafidayn reports Nouri is insistning that there are certain foreign areas that need instruction from Iraq on how to build a country. He really is deluded. Al Mada notes that the National Alliance is calling for the creation of a committee to amend the Constitution.

Turning to the issue of education in Iraq, Dar Addustour reports there's an effort underway to replace Mohammad Tamim as Minister of Education due to a large number of complaints. Among other education issues in the last three months, there is the fact that illiteracy is increasing (not surprising in a war zone) which Parliament responded to by passing a law (basically declaring war on illiteracy -- in an LBJ type way). More recently test scores have been a repeated issues -- Al Rafidayn has especially covered that issue in recent months. And he probably won't be helped by Al Rafidayn's report that a group of Iraqi elementary school children were frightened by poisonous snakes -- no one was hurt. Al Mada notes a new issue in Mosul schools -- one causing a problem for Christian families -- females -- teachers and students -- are being forced to wear hijabs (veils).

Political Stalemate II also includes the inability of Nouri to appoint a full Cabinet. Per the Constitution, he should not have moved from prime minister-designate to prime minister for that reason (per the Constitution, a new prime minister-designate) should have been named. Dar Addustour reports that the Federal Supreme Court rejected yesterday a lawsuit filed against Nouri and the Parliament for the failure to name heads of the security ministries (Minister of Defense, Minister of Interior and Minister of National Security). And Al Mada notes that the League of Righteous has declared they have no problem with American trainers being in Iraq next year.

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