Monday, November 21, 2011

More on the negotiations the US media continues to ignore

Al Mada reports that the Parliament has summoned Nouri al-Maliki -- who may or may not attend the session -- to answer questions regarding Iraqi security forces and their state of readiness as well as what the US military presence will be in Iraq after the end of the year. Dar Addustour notes US Vice President Joe Biden's visit is expected to take place in December and that Iraq's Supreme Security Committee is currently negotiating with the US on the number of trainers that could stay beyond 2011. A source on the committee states that currently the Comittee is willing to offer "partial immunity" to 750 trainers. The article also notes the US delegation that was present in Baghdad on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and met with Nouri and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

Not noted in the article but the group also met with the KRG. There's a photo at the KRG website and an article.

massoud barzani with US delegation

We'll note the article when the KRG offers it in English. (It's in Arabic, Persian and Kurdish currently. I read Arabic, it's not a ground shaking press release. Very basic. But when they put it into English they will most likely send it to the public e-mail account and we'll note it then. The article just notes that they discussed security concerns and the continued partnership between the KRG and the US. On the far left in the photo above is KRG President Massoud Barzani. I'm noting the photo because it was known that the delegation would also go to the KRG and, not seeing any articles on that visit, I still thought there was a change the official KRG page would post a photo of the meet-up.)

In other news, Russia Today (link has text and video) reports on the vast billions that 'vanished' in Iraq -- billions of US tax payer dollars -- and how they have not been and will not be recovered:

The Commission on Wartime Contracting estimated that between $31 billion and $60 billion has been lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The figures seem even more staggering, considering the overall amount the US has committed to rebuilding Iraq: roughly $62 billion.
Peter Van Buren was a head of an Iraq Reconstruction team, working for the US State Department.
US State Department Foreign Service Officer told RT that "The squandering of resources occurred on very small levels: a couple of thousand dollars here and there and zoomed all the way up into hundreds of millions of dollars that were spent on hospitals that never opened or prisons that never took any prisoners in."
The Commission on Wartime Contracting is out of business now, after Congress cut its funding.
The details of their probe is sealed until 2031.

By sealing the records, the Commission has wasted tax dollars conducting a review that will not be accessible for another 20 years. The US government did not have the money to waste right now on such a review. Possibly commissioners should consider returning their salaries and waiting 20 years to be paid? On the sealing of those records, Diana West (Washington Examiner) notes

News traveled slowly up Capitol Hill. "We learned of this development after the fact," the two original Senate co-sponsors of the commission, Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Jim Webb, D-Va., wrote on Nov. 7 to the archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero.
Noting that the commission hadn't thought to ask or even inform Congress about deep-freezing the documents for the next two decades, the senators asked "that the National Archives make a full disclosure of the commission's files and records as quickly as possible, consistent with protections for privacy, proprietary information, and other applicable laws."
There, as they say, the matter stands. And what an outrage. Locking up vital public records is not behavior becoming to a democratic republic. It is a peremptory and arbitrary act of authoritarianism.
With the "overclassification" of government documents rampant, it fits into a democracy-imperiling trend. "Simply stated," the senators wrote, "we need to live in the light."

With the US State Dept taking over the management of billions of US tax dollars that will be spent in Iraq, the lessons learned from the commission need to be public and questions need to be asked of the State Dept which has thus far refused to cooperate with Congress or with the SIGIR's office by sharing how they will spend your money.

One group with an influx of money is Oxfam thanks to the Weir Group's violation of United Nations sanctions during the Saddam Hussein era of Iraq. BBC News reports:

In February this year, the Scottish government announced that £1.5m of the £13.9m seized from Weir last year would be used to support water development in Iraq and humanitarian programmes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The remainder of the money will be used to fund community projects in Scotland.
Scottish ministers have allocated £120,000 towards Oxfam's programme to help up to one million widows in Iraq, where there are 330,000 in the capital Baghdad alone.

In September of 2009, Hamid Azad, Muslim Aid Acting CEO, observed, "During Ramadan this year millions of people are going to sleep without food. In Iraq alone 5 million orphans and 2 million widows are living in desperate conditions. We are very concerned as to the amount and the effectiveness of the support they are receiving as the international community is not coming forward to help people with the much needed assistance they require."

Iraq saw a great deal of violence last night. Aswat al-Iraq reports on the targeting of Abdul-Munim Nassar last night, " A group of unknown gunmen have opened fire Sunday night on the hosue of an Iraqi media man southwest of Baghdad, causing no human losses, according to the Chairman of the Iraqi Society for Defense of Journalists Rights on Monday." Aswat al-Iraq also notes that a Kirkuk car bombing last night injured Jabbar Mohammed Ibrahim (Director of Kirkuk's Youth & Sports) and one other person whose leg was amputated, a Kirkuk bombing targeted the home of an Iraqi soldier leaving two people wounded, also last night a Kirkuk bombing injured "a member of Iraq's Human Rights Department," and an armed assault last night on the home of the Director of the Kurdish Asavish Forces resulted in one guard being killed and another left injured while today two bombings (under a car) in Baghdad's Adamiya district left three people injured. Meanwhile Al Rafidayn reports Moqtada al-Sadr has stated that the Governor Qassim Fahdawi (Anbar Province) should provide evidence that the Mahdi Army has plans to assassinate him (the governor). Dar Addustour notes that the govenor states that the evidence is a document that Nouri al-Maliki forwarded to him from Iraqi intelligence services. Meanwhile Dar Addustour notes the government denials that Baghdad's nightclubs are being closed for religious reasons. When these closings take place (a) they're usually for religious reasons and (b) they're usually followed by violence against alocohol stores and dealers -- many of whom are Iraqi Christians.

We'll close with this from Sarah Lipton-Lubert's "The Shaheen Amendment Promises Basic Fairness for Servicewomen. Now Let's Get a Vote!" (ACLU Blog of Rights):

Today, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen took a historic stand for military women. Now it’s our turn to stand with her.

More than 400,000 women serve in the armed forces and put their lives at risk to preserve our rights and safeguard our freedom. Yet these women are denied access to the same care available to the civilians they protect. If you’re a woman putting your life on the line for your country in the U.S. military, your health insurance won’t cover abortion care even if you’re a victim of sexual assault.

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