Thursday, August 30, 2012

Violence and weapons

Violence never ends in Iraq.  Alsumaria reports that a middle school student was kidnapped in Kirkuk after two cars filled with unknown assailants pulled into his neighborhood and grabbed him and a Ramadi roadside bombing left three people injured while a Hawja roadside bombing left a captain in the Iraqi military and a Sahwa leader injured.

Yesterday brought news of the last 9 of 140 US tanks being handed over to Nouri's Baghdad-based government.   Alsumaria notes that the 140 US tanks are in addition to the 170 tanks Iraq has purchased from Russia. AFP doesn't mention the tanks purchased from Russia but does note the tanks  "are part of Baghdad’s efforts to build up its military, which U.S. and Iraqi officials admit cannot secure the country’s borders, airspace, or maritime waters."  Meanwhile Alsumaria reports that the US Embassy in Baghdad has declared in a statement that how Nouri chooses to use the F-16 fighter jets is not a concern of the US.  Really?  Dropping back to yesterday's snapshot:

 In related news, AKnews reports that Monday saw NGOs protesting in Erbil to register their opposition to the US government's plan to sell Baghdad F-16s and that the NGO's issued a statement which included:

The US is selling F-16 fighters to the Iraqi government while the majority of the Middle East regimes who used heavy weapons against their peoples are being pressed on to leave power and to get stripped of their heavy weapons.  The Iraqi government is not under any external threats from the air or the ground from borders.  The purchase of these fighters is not necessary.  Each of these planes have been purchased with a huge amoung of money which the Iraqi government could use on providing services to the people and reconstructing the country.  The government could buy passenger planes instead of F-16s.  Our concern and fear of the Iraqi government's purchase of those planes stems from our experience with the former Iraqi governments that used heavy weapons against their people.

Please note, that's not a concern to the US government.

And where is Nouri right now?

Oh, that's right: Iran.

The government in Tehran publicly summoned him on Tuesday and he scooted right over.   According to  James Risen and Duraid Adnan's "U.S. Says Iraqis Are Helping Iran to Skirt Sanctions" (New York Times) earlier this month, the White House knows Nouri's government is helping Iran circumvent economic sanctions.  And now the F-16s will be turned over to Iraq with the US Embassy in Baghdad declaring how Nouri uses them and what he does with them is not any business of the US government's?

I seem to recall the last time a similar statement was made.  And it was conveyed though diplomatic staff as well.  Anyone else remember?  April Glaspie?  July of 1990, US Ambassador to Baghdad Glaspie conveyed to Saddam Hussein that, "We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait.  Secretary [of State James] Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America."  That was a bloodbath (and why the UN has kept Iraq in Chapter VII all these years later).  Remember that should another blood bath follow.  The US government has yet again refused to stand up for humanity and instead given tacit approval to a dictator to carry out his most macabre fantasies.

Nouri's been on an execution kick this week with at least 26 hangings so far for the week, nearly 100 for the year.  The Voice of Russia reports European Union Policy Commissioner Catherine Ashton "says that the growing number of executions in Iraq is openly at variance with the global trend towards the abolishment of capital punishment."  Though Nouri tries to render the executed invisible to ensure that no one can question the legal judgments, they were alive, they had names, they had families.  Habib Toumi (Gulf News) reports on one of the executed this week:

Mazen Mohammad Nashi Al Masawi is said to be among those executed by the Iraqis, but no formal statement has reached the family.
“We never suspected anything about Mazen heading to Iraq,” Mohammad, the father, said. “He was a student at the Business and Management College at the King Abdul Aziz University and spent most of his free time at home. He looked normal and behaved normally and he did not exhibit any sign or indication of extremism or fanaticism,” he said, quoted by local daily Okaz on Wednesday.

As already noted, Nouri is in Tehran, Al Mada reports on that here.  How nice for Nouri that he's able to drop everything at a moment's notice and travel to Tehran.  Good to know that Iraq is doing so well and that the Iraqis finally all have potable water and electricity 24 hours, 7 days a week.  Good to know he's tackled unemployment and the disappeared and all the other issues that should be taking up his time.  But none of them mattered in his first term as prime minister so why should they matter now?

On the disappeared, all this time later, there is still no amnesty law.  Currently in Mosul and Baghdad, inmates in two prisons are on hunger-strikes (more prisons may have joined this) calling for the passage of an amnesty law.  Nouri's been accused of rushing through executions to ensure that they take place before any amnesty law might stop them.  Al Rafidayn reports that Nouri's State of Law is insisting that people are wrong when they say State of Law is stalling on the amnesty law.   And possibly State of Law is telling the truth?  This could be just another example of how State of Law lacks the ability to lead on any issue.

And while State of Law denies accusations that they are stalling on the long-planned amnesty law, Al Mada reports that they're also demanding the enactment of a law to ban Ba'athists.  Ba'athists were the dominant party in Iraq under President Saddam Hussein.  Paul Bremer implemented the White House's desired purge of Ba'athists from government following the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.  The call for a law and the demand that the Justice and Accountability Commission begin purging will no doubt be praised by the usual goons (the same ones who openly wished Nouri would steal the 2010 election, for example).  But the reality is that in early 2007, Iraq accepted -- Nouri signed off on -- White House benchmarks calling for reconciliation and ending the Ba'athist purge.

The Ba'athists have already been purged.  This really isn't about that.  What it's about is the provincial elections which are scheduled for 2013 and the parliamentary elections which are scheduled for 2014.  A lot of Nouri's opponents were eliminated from running in the 2010 parliamentary elections through creative use of the Accountability and Justice Commission -- a commission that Iraq's Parliament thought had lapsed.  Already a goonie in the US has praised the return this year of the commission.  There's nothing to praise here.  And, again, Iraq was supposed to be moving towards reconciliation.  (Equally true, the Iraq Inquiry presided over by John Chilcot in England has heard from one witness after another -- UK government officials -- about how this purge was the worst thing for Iraq and how much damage it has done and continues to do.)

The following community sites -- plus IVAW, Adam Kokesh, Dissident Voice, Diane Rehm, NYT's At War  -- updated last night and this morning:

  • The previous entry is a topic we'll probably return to in the snapshot because it's so badly written.  It's one of those mornings where you want to say, "Thank you, it's nice to meet you to but I'm on the computer as you can see."  But people mean well and I'm being a bitch, so anyway.  The interruptions made the entry more scattershot than it should have been (this one was pretty much written before the previous entry).  If we're not able to return to the topic -- Kimberly Rivera will be covered in the snapshot regardless -- today, I'll probably pull it over to Third and we'll make it an editorial.

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