Wednesday, November 23, 2011

US and Iraqi forces conduct dawn raid

Al Mada reports that a coalition of State of Law lawmakers are planning to hold a press conference today in which they will declare their intent to isolate Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi. Among the Speaker's 'crimes' are supporting the splintering of Iraq (FACT CHECK: al-Nujaifi supports the Iraq Contitution and has repeatedly noted Article 119 sets out how a province becomes semi-autonmous), meeting with "Turkey's controversial Prime Minister" (FACT CHECK: Nouri al-Maliki, Jalal Talabani, Massoud Barzani and other of the country's leaders have all met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan) and other 'serious' offenses.

Reality, Nouri's been battling Atheel al-Nujaifi for months now -- that al-Nujaifi is the Governor of Ninawa Province. Last spring, Nouri was calling for him to step down. He didn't step down and he's popular enough to remain in power. He has, however, noted that Nouri's sent the Iraqi military into the province in what appears to be a power grab. And Atheel al-Nujaifi has joined his citizens in protesting.

In addition, Osama al-Nujaifi belongs to Iraqiya -- the political slate that came in first in the March 7, 2010 elections. Nouri's State of Law, of course, came in second. Osama al-Nujaifi has also refused to be the rubber stamp Nouri wants and has instead led the Parliament as though it were an independent body -- that's probably his most serious "crime" in Nouri's eyes.

And while Nouri is stomping his feet about Salahuddin Province's desire to become its own semi-autonomous region, it should be noted that he's encouraging Dujail to break away from Salahuddin and when Dujail 'voted' and decided they wanted to be part of Baghdad province, Nouri and his minions raised no objections, didn't scream about the electoral commission or anything.

Dar Addustour notes that, yesterday, 190 MPs attended the session of Parliament where ten bills were read and that it was recommended that no US forces continue in Iraq beyond the end of this year. (Aswat al-Iraq says 243 MPs attended.)

Meanwhile Reuters notes that last night in Samarra, a pharmacy was attacked and the owner shot dead while today in Dhuluiya "Iraqi security forces arrested a former military officer and his 19-year-old son" -- ah, Reuters is being cute. It was US and Iraqi forces. Aswat al-Iraq explains, "A Joint Iraqi-U.S. force has arrested an former high-ranking Iraqi Army officer in Dhiloyiya township of Salah al-Din Province, in an air-landing operation on Wednesday, a police source reported." They quote Abdul-Latif Kamel, the officer's brother, stating, "At 2 am this morning 4 US planes, carrying Iraqi soldiers have landed the soldiers on my brother's house, began to beat him and force him and his son to put-off their clothes, chained them and drove them to an unknown destination." In addition, Aswat al-Iraq notes, "At least 9 Iraqi civilians have been injured in a booby-trapped car explosion and mortar shell attacks on Hawija township of northern Iraq's Kirkuk Province on Wednesday, a Hawija hospital source reported." Also the Turkish military continues bombing northern Iraq. AFP reports, "Turkey has bombed the Sulaimaniyah and Arbil provinces of Iraq’s autonomous northern Kurdish region, wounding one civilian, Kurdish officials said on Wednesday." Press TV notes that in addition to injuring 20-year-old Iraqi Hassan Abdullah, Qalat Dizah's Mayor Ismail Baz Hamed states, "The bombing caused heavy damage to farms and livestock in Qalat Dizah."

Peter Van Buren is the author of the new book We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (American Empire Project). In his latest column at The Huffington Post, Van Buren notes the militarization of diplomacy in Iraq in terms of all the contractors the State Dept will now have working for it:

Some State Department officials have privately complained of becoming full-time contract managers, not practicing diplomats. One commenter lamented "Officials will be prisoners on the ridiculously large but poorly constructed compound and will be unable to leave the grounds without a security package so large and costly that being out of the Embassy will be the exception rather than the rule." State's own Inspector General laid out its concerns in a May 2011 report, concluding "Because of the complexity and considerable cost of construction, staffing, and logistics, there is a risk the Embassy will not have a fully operational medical system prior to the military's departure." Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta reminded the Hill that State will require thousands of contractors to provide security and other services that had been provided by the Pentagon. "Yes there are risks involved," Panetta said. "Do we have any other alternatives? No."

State's responses have been weak. Can't travel safely outside the Green Zone? "The Embassy will attempt to mitigate the loss of tactical intelligence by establishing closer working relationships with the Government of Iraq." Although Embassy medical plans do not currently include the capability for handling a mass casualty event, Embassy officials magic-wanded the problem away by stating that "even the US military's current combat support hospital can be overwhelmed by a large enough number of casualties." Meanwhile, State "will continue to explore possibilities for mitigating the impact of a mass casualty event."

We'll close with this from Ross Caputi's "Fallujah Remembered by a US Marine who Helped Destroy it in 2004" (World Can't Wait):

It has been seven years since the 2nd siege of Fallujah -- the American assault that left the city in ruins, killed thousands of civilians, and displaced hundreds-of-thousands more -- the assault that poisoned a generation, plaguing the people who live there with cancers and their children with birth defects.
It has been seven years and the lies that justified the assault still perpetuate false beliefs about what we did.
The American veterans who fought there still do not understand who they fought against, or what they were fighting for.
I know, because I am one of those American veterans.
In the eyes of many of the people I "served" with, the people of Fallujah remain dehumanized and their resistance fighters are still believed to be terrorists. But unlike most of my counterparts, I understand that I was the aggressor, and that the resistance fighters in Fallujah were defending their city.

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