Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Green Zone was attacked by a suicide bomber (Iranian media accuses US)

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers via the San Francisco Chronicle) reports that the attack on Parliament on Monday was a suicide car bomber and Issa observes, "The admission that a suicide car bomber had penetrated the fortified Green Zone, the first suicide attack there since April 2007, sent a wave of concern across the capital about the abilities, and loyalties, of Iraq's security agencies." As Sheikah (Dar Addustour) notes the questions about the attack in terms of how heavily protected the Green Zone is and how a "strange car with unknown identities" was able to penetrate the Green Zone. Al Rafidayn notes the need for permits to carry explosives in the Green Zone and indicates that some aspect of the attack was caught on cameras "deployed" in the area. This is major news and has been treated as such in the Iraqi press for two news cycles. As part of Monday's violence, it was noted as an aside in the small number of US outlets that cover Iraq. And a large number of that small number treated the notion that it could be a suicide bomber as some sort of Iraqi delusion. But it was a suicide bomber (not a mortar or a rocket) and the US press is strangely silent. Hmmm.

Why is that?


Maybe the answer can be found in one of the many bad US 'reports' on Joe Biden, US vice president, visiting Iraq? Let's see . . . How about CNN? The most telling statement in CNN's write-up: "Violence in Iraq remains at its lowest overall level since 2003, according to the White House." Oh, okay. If the White House says that. I mean whatever the White House says, right? That is the motto, "Whatever the White House says," in a free society, right? That is the motto of a functioning press in a democracy, right? "Whatever the White House says."

That motto apparently having been lost in translation, Iraqi correspondents haven't felt the need to follow it which is why Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported earlier this week that violence is on the rise in Iraq with over 100 recorded deaths this month in Baghdad alone.

But, hey, what does Sahar Issa know? She's just an Iraqi on the ground in Iraq. How would she know about violence? Surely the White House, desperate to spin, is a more accurate voice on Iraqi violence, right? (To be clear, that was sarcasm. Of course, Sahar Issa would know a great deal more about Iraqi violence than the White House would know or would admit to knowing.)

One thing that may force the US press to cover the attack on the Parliament seriously is Iran's Press TV getting the facts wrong including insisting today it was a mortar attack and (most important to the US government) attempting to implicate the US military in the attack.
W.G. Dunlop (AFP) reports Joe Biden and Nouri al-Maliki met and made statements to the press after including Biden's that, "Drawing down our forces is not only in the best interest of Iraq, but it's in the best interest of the United States of America as well, and the best interest of the relationship." And notes this from Dunlop's report, "Besides Prime Minister Maliki, he is also due to meet President Jalal Talabani and parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi." And here's Aswat al-Iraq, "US Vice-President, Joe Biden, is scheduled to visit north Iraq Kurdistan Region's capital of Arbil later on Wednesday, to confer with its President, Massoud Barzani, on several issues related to the bilateral relations between the United States and Kurdistan Region, a Kurdisan government source reported." So if you work for a French or Iraqi news outlet, you can report. If you work for the US, you just offer predictions, insisting, as most US outlets yesterday that things which hadn't taken place would take place, not that they were scheduled, not that they were planned, but they would take place. Might it also indicate that the French and Iraqi outlets have a better mastery of the English language than does the US outlets? Yeah, I think so too.

Al Rafidayn reports
that "hundreds" of Moqtada al-Sadr's followers protested Biden's visit by taking to the streets of Najaf and Basra. In Basra, they chanted slogans such as "No, no, to America! No to colonization!" and "Death to America! Death to Israel!" while carrying banners with statements such as "We demand the Iraqi government expel the Zionist Biden from Iraq." Aswat al-Iraq report that Biden's scheduled to visit Erbil today. Erbil is in the KRG and the Kurdistan Regional Government is in the news today for another reason. Al Rafidayn is reporting a crackdown is taking place with the arrest of approximately 2636 people -- a list that includes journalists and activists.

In other news, Aswat al-Iraq reports the breaking news that Anbar Province intends to announce its intention to become semi-autonomous: "West Iraq's Anbar Province's Council has stressed on Wednesday its intention to announce itself an independent 'Region' next Sunday, following the Council's 16 members agreement, its Member, Muzhir Hassan told Aswat al-Iraq news agency." That announcement would make it the first province to follow Salahuddin Province's recent move. Currently only three of Iraq's 18 provinces are semi-autonomous, the three that make up the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Also of interest, Al Sabaah reports that the Minister of Planning and Development, Qassim Hilfi, has declared that Iraq has a housing shortage (yes, that has been noted repeatedly for at least four years now) and that it needs to construct 2 million housing units to end the crisis.

In the US, Bradley Manning is finally headed for a military courtroom and an Article 32 hearing on December 16th at Fort Meade, Maryland. Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." Manning has been convicted in the public square despite the fact that he's been convicted in no state and has made no public statements -- despite any claims otherwise, he has made no public statements. Manning has been at Quantico in Virginia, under military lock and key, for months. In March, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. David E. Coombs is Bradley's attorney and he provided a walk through on Article 104. UK Indymedia notes that Saturday, December 17th, there will be a demonstration outside the US Embassy in London:

This solidarity event outside the U.S. embassy in London will be on Bradley's 24th. birthday - a day that many of his supporters will gather outside of Ft. Meade and U.S. embassies worldwide. We invite you to join us in London to demand FREEDOM FOR BRADLEY MANNING and an END TO THE WARS!

*If you can't make it to London, we encourage you to hold a solidarity vigil for Bradley at your closest U.S. embassy or military base or instalation involved in the war on Afghanistan and Iraq.

*More details of the London embassy demonstration to be released in the coming weeks.

**More information on the Bradley Manning case and solidarity in the U.S.

***More information on the Dec 17th. London embassy demonstration
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