Friday, November 2, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Nouri tries to stage a trade fair in Baghdad, the government of Turkey feels threatened by Kurds in the region, mass arrests continue, and more.
All Iraq News reports that US Ambassador to Iraq "Stephen Beecroft" (that's how he's billed -- maybe he's finally dropped the three names) is praising the Baghdad International Fair which just started. Al Mada notes the fair started Thursday and that the first Baghdad International Fair was in 1957 though it wasn't called that until 1964. Alsumaria notes this is the 39th Baghdad International Fair and that twenty countries are participating. Yang Lina (Xinhua) quotes Nouri al-Maliki declaring, "Iraq is now the investment opportunity in the region that everything here needs for reconstruction, particularly its infrastructure."
Everything you need here -- if what you need is no booze, if what you need is security forces who do not obey the law they're supposed to enforce. In fact, here's a YouTube video of Nouri's forces executing someone on the spot. Iraq, where there's so much corruption, you may not even notice the bombings. Baghdad, infamous for kidnapping and killing foreigners. Or maybe you'll be like Peter Moore and just suffer for years in captivity without being killed.
Nouri attended the opening ceremony and then split. If you were Nouri, you would too. That's a pathetic showing. And if you doubt it, consider the 8th Erbil International Fair was last month and had 23 countries participating. Poor, inept Nouri, always living in the shadow of the KRG. Hurriyet notes that, despite sharing a border with Iraq, "not many Turkish firms attended the event." It appears to be shaping up to be another Arab League Summit type event -- where people grade on the pity scale and say, "It's a success! Regardless of the fact that it accomplished litte or even nothing, it's a success!" Poor Nouri, between his threats against corporations and his authoritarian streak, there's little to attract international investors to Baghdad.
And it's going to be evident for a prolonged period becauseDar Addustour notes it's a ten day event. The KRG where there's, by comparison, safety. Where religious zealots will not prevent your consumption of alcohol. Where you aren't confined to a pen named the "Green Zone." And the KRG already has a business image -- a strong one. Businesses don't fear they're going to be ripped off. Of course Nouri has given Baghdad a strong image as well -- as a contract-breaking center. And the only thing worth less than a written contract with the Baghdad government is Nouri's word.
Moving over to violence, Alsumaria reports a roadside bombing just south of Mosul claimed the life of 1 contractor who was killed "on the spot" according to source with the police. Alsumaria also reports that in Salahuddin Province a student was shot. All Iraq News notes that Turkish warplanes began bombing northern Iraq in the early morning hours today. Today's Zaman adds that there are reports "that four Turkish F-16 jets struck the PKK targets in the region." This is part of the ongoing struggle between the Turkish government and the PKK. Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described the PKK in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk." Ofra Bengio (Minority-Opinion) offers this take today:
The signs are not hard to read. Most dramatically, the traditionally marginalized Kurds of Syria have found new energy in the cauldron of the Syrian uprising and are now demanding a federal system in which they would gain significant autonomy in a post-Assad Syria. The extremely restive Kurds of Turkey are pressing for what they call democratic autonomy. The Kurds of Iran, typically unremarked upon in the media, are stirring beneath their blanket of obscurity. But most important of all these are the Kurds of Iraq. Iraq was the epicenter of the Kurds' great leap forward in the early 1990s: the establishment of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which is a euphemism for a de facto Kurdish state. It is to the KRG experience that Iranian, Syrian and Turkish Kurds increasingly look for lessons and guidance, and rightly so.
This is an ongoing struggle throughout the region. In Turkey, that gets resolved only by recognition and equality of the Kurds. The Kurds there have been denied inclusion and that's what's fueled the struggle. It's what's led to a hunger strike. Ivan Watson and Gul Tuysuz (CNN) report, "Turkey's government announced Friday that at least 682 inmates were participating in a hunger strike in at least 67 prisons across the country, but it insisted that no protesters were in critical condition." Daren Butler (Reuters) explains, "Jailed Kurdish militans on hunger strike in Turkey may start to die within the next 10 days, Turkey's main medical association warend on Thursday, saying the prime minister's dismissal of the protest as a 'show' risked hardening their resolve." Gareth Jenkins (Great Britain's Socialist Worker) reports:
Up to 200 people from Kurdish and Turkish organisations protested outside the Turkish embassy today, Friday.
The protest marked the 52nd day since 63 Kurds in Turkish prisons started a hunger strike. They have been joined by 600 others.
Some may be near death. Thousands of Kurds around Europe have gone on solidarity hunger strikes.
Kurds make up roughly 30 per cent of the population in Turkey and have faced decades of repression. Thousands of Kurds, including MPs and mayors, are political prisoners.
Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdish nationalist party, the PKK, has been held in prison since 1999.
Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently dismissed the hunger strikes—but protests have broken the wall of silence.
Mehmet Aksoy from the Kurdish Federation told Socialist Worker, "We want freedom for Öcalan, for there to be meaningful negotiations. And we want an end to the ban on using Kurdish in the law courts and in schools.
"We want the cries of the hunger strikers to be heard. We are here today to call on the international community to pressure Turkey into meeting our demands as the only way to bring a just and honourable peace."
The KRG (three provinces in Iraq) are the closest to a Kurdish homeland. As such, the government of Turkey has long been threatened by it, afraid that the KRG would result in (louder) cries among Turkey's Kurdish population for a section of Turkey to set up a homeland. UPI notes, "Turkey will not condone a separate autonomous Kurdish government in Syria, similar to the one in Iraq, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said." Hurriyet quotes Erdogan stating, "We cannot let playing of such a scenario [Kurdish autonomy] here [in Syria]. We told this to [KRG President Massoud] Barzani too. We wanted him to know this." Whether he heard it or not, Emirates News Agency reports, "His Highness General Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces has received Masoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq who is on current visit to the UAE."
The statements by Turkish government officials will not be surprising to the KRG nor will they be all that important to the KRG either. There are a number of issues, however, that are important to the KRG. For example, the Kurdistan Regional Government notes Glen Campbell's BBC World Service News report:
Iraqi Kurds in Britain have begun a campaign for the mass murder of their people in Iraq in the late-1980s to be formally recognised as genocide.
At least 180,000 Kurds were killed by Saddam Hussein's forces.
The justice4genocide campaign says many more died in atrocities carried out by regimes from the 1960s onwards.
It is petitioning the UK government to declare the mass killing of Kurds as a genocide and press the European Union and United Nations to do the same.
Though not everyone may agree on genocide, there's this believe that everyone will agree on voting. Al Mada reports that the United Nations is urging Iraqis to vote in the upcoming provincial elections scheduled for April 20th currently. If UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler really wants Iraqis to turn out for the provincial elections, he might try working on a slogan -- something like, "Vote in the provincial elections -- the only ones so far that the US government doesn't overrule."
The US government did let the 2009 provincial elections -- both sets (the KRG did not hold them at the same time the other provinces -- minus Kirkuk -- did). It was the Parliamentary elections of 2010 that they overruled because they wanted their pet Nouri al-Maliki to get a second term as prime minister after Nouri's State of Law came in second to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya. So they backed him on his eight month political stalemate and then they negotiated the Erbil Agreement guaranteeing him a second term as prime minister.
That legal contract found the political blocs granting that concession to Nouri in exchange for Nouri making concessions to them. Nouri got what he wanted (the second term) and then discarded the contract. That created the current stalemate. Now the second place Nouri that the US re-installed in 2010, wants to shut out Iraqiya by forming a majority-government. Al Mada reports that a split if evident in Parliament over the move. And Al Mada quotes State of Law MP Abdul Salam al-Maliki stating that the answer is a majority government and that anyone who disagrees with that is not a supporter of democracy. It's as if State of Law got all the MPs who fell on their heads.
And the UN continues to grade on the pity scale. "Poor inept Nouri, but he managed . . ." Reality, no one has to handhold the KRG to get them to plan their provincial elections. Reality, the disputed Kirkuk Province? That was supposed to have been decided by the end of 2007 -- per the Iraqi Constitution -- that's Article 140. Nouri ignored that in his first term and he ignores it in his second and, guess what, Kirkuk won't be voting in the provincial elections. But let's all pretend that 14 of the 18 provinces voting is amazing and flatter Nouri.
Why hasn't the United Nations publicly called otu the continued mass arrests which largerly target Sunnis in Iraq? From yesterday's snapshot:
On violence, yesterday was the end of the month. Iraq Body Count's counts 253 reported violent deaths in Iraq for the month of October. Last month, their total was 356 which means a reduction of about 100 deaths. AFP, forgetting fairy tales are for bedtime, notes the government total for October is 136. AFP also forgets to note that there were over 550 reported mass arrests in Iraq in the month of October. Nouri's round up largely focused on Sunnis.
Today, Alsumaria reports that in Mosul alone, last month saw the arrest of 90 for 'terrorism.' It really is amazing how US and European press ignore these ongoing mass arrests. Already today Alsumaria is reporting a mass arrest of 9 people for 'terrorism.'
In the US, April Baer (OPB -- link is text and audio) reports, "A federal jury in Portland has awarded $85 million in damages to twelve former soldiers who were exposed to hazardous material while on duty with the Oregon Guard. The jury deliberated for two days on evidence presented in a three-and-a-half week trial." Teresa Carson (Reuters) adds, "Each Guard soldier was awarded $850,000 in non-economic damages and another $6.25 million in punitive damages for 'reckless and outrageous indifference' to their health in the trial in U.S. District Court in Portland." Mike Francis (Oregonian) quotes Jason Arnold stating, "It's a little bit of justice" and Aaron St. Clair stating, "We're not disposable. People are not going to make money from our blood."
America has many great qualities, each of which makes us the greatest nation in the world. Few of these qualities are as vital, however, to America's success as the strength and determination of our war fighters. For more than 225 years, Americans have signed up, at great peril to themselves, to defend the ideals upon which this nation was founded.
Once a year, on Veterans Day, all Americans turn their eyes to this group of heroes and honor their service to our nation. Nov. 11 is a special day. It is a reminder for us to always respect and pay tribute to our men and women in uniform who served. But in my opinion, and I know others agree, one day is not enough. Many veterans will tell you they signed up to serve expecting nothing in return. It is that type of selflessness that makes our veterans unique. We should mirror that selflessness and celebrate our veterans throughout the year.
By now you have all heard about the actions of two brave men, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, on September 11, 2012, in Benghazi, Libya. Their actions while under fire to rescue other Americans were astounding. They could have delayed taking action, but didn't. They could have made excuses to not take action, but didn't. Even when they were ordered to "stand down," they didn't. They stepped up and did the right and courageous thing to save the lives of other Americans.
But Glen and Tyrone were everyday people from everyday backgrounds, and all of that has been lost in the noise around who told whom to do what and when.
For how they died, we'll refer to the Chair of the House Oversight Committee:
Committee Chair Darrell Issa: On September 11, 2012, four brave Americans serving their country were murdered by terrorists in Benghazi, Libya. Tyrone Woods spent two decades as a Navy Seal serving multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2010, he protected the American diplomatic personnel. Tyrone leaves behind a widow and three children. Glen Doherty, also a former Seal and an experienced paramedic, had served his country in both Iraq and Afghanistan. His family and colleagues grieve today for his death. Sean Smith, a communications specialist, joined the State Dept after six years in the United States Air Force. Sean leaves behind a widow and two young children. Ambassador Chris Stevens, a man I had known personally during his tours, US Ambassador to Libya, ventured into a volatile and dangerous situation as Libyans revolted against the long time Gaddafi regime. He did so because he believed the people of Libya wanted and deserved the same things we have: freedom from tyranny.
That's US House Rep Darrell Issa speaking at the House Oversight Committee (he is the Chair of the Committee) on October 10th. We covered the hearing in the October 10th and October 11th snapshots. That Doherty and Woods were working for the CIA was not news if you were at the hearing. That and the large number of injured CIA personnel were obvious at the hearing -- and why US House Rep Jason Chaffetz kept objecting and stating that certain things were classified. Today, the media wants to treat it as news.
And not because they give a damn about Doherty and Woods but because they think it clears the administration. One charge being tossed around (as 'fact' by some) is that the CIA was the target of the attack. That's interesting. You're saying Libyan terrorists knew that was a CIA outpost? That's very interesting. Equally interesting is the lie that Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty working for the CIA means the four deaths are a CIA problem or have nothing to do with the administration. A US Ambassador is supposed to travel with a security detail. This was the point Chaffetz was constrained to make in an open hearing but kept coming close to it.
If Chris Stevens were traveling to Benghazi to hear a briefing from the CIA and a Turkish asset, he was traveling. The fact that the CIA was on end-point for the trip did not relieve the administration of the responsibility to provide Stevens with security while en route and one he arrived.
There are a lot of lies being told and once again it's not to help anyone except Barack Obama. Americans have a right to know what happened. At this point, they still don't. And nothing 'emerging' today changes the larger story.
Douglas Sloan (Oxonian Globalist) observes, "On the same day that President Barack Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage, an openly homosexual American solider experienced his 714th day of incarceration. He had not been convicted of any crime. Bradley Manning, the alleged Wikileaks informer, has been in custody since May 2010, and was in solitary confinement for nine months." Bradley Manning, like Barack's kill-list, is a topic the faux left doesn't want to address in an election year. Alexander Reed Kelly (TruthDig) notes of Gary Dorrien's The Obama Question: A Progressive Perspective which is meant to churn out the vote for Barack:
The chapter titled "Moral Empire and Liberal War," which serves to justify Obama's expansion of the American military establishment, is the most telling in terms of its omissions. According to a Google Books search, the name "Bradley Manning" appears nowhere in the section's 30 pages. Neither do the words "whistle-blower" or "rendition." "Surveillance" comes up once, and the unmanned drone war, which has claimed dozens of civilian lives in Pakistan since Obama took office, gets a passing mention in a single paragraph.
But though whores might wish Bradley would just disappear, he remains and possibly the hatred being spewing by the faux left has to do with the fact that Bradley is the ghost that haunts them, the truth that mocks them.
Monday April 5, 2010, 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." In March, 2011, 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. The Article 32 hearing took place in December. At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial. Bradley has yet to enter a plea and has neither affirmed that he is the leaker nor denied it. The court-martial was supposed to begin this month has been postponed until after the election .
Douglas Sloan explains:
Not only have Manning's reputation and credibility been attacked using his homosexuality, but his defence centres on the assertion that he struggled with gender identity issues. As a result of having to suppress his homosexuality due to the prevailing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy, Manning's defence deems that he was not mentally fit to be given access to classified information, and as such the blame for the leak lies with his superiors. That homosexuality can be considered a defence in such a case seems to undermine both the work done by LGBT rights groups and the progress that the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' represents. To view it as a plea of homosexuality, however, is to misunderstand the issue at hand. Manning's defence is more one of aggravated mental disturbance than of sexuality, for all this aggravation was a consequence of his sexuality and the military's reaction to it. Questions must be asked of an institution that drove a man to such extremes that he would go for a weapons rack during a counselling session, send pictures of himself in women's dress to his commanding officer and potentially leak thousands of sensitive documents. Whether he was responsible for the leak or not, his situation hardly reflects well on the American military.
Today is Bradley's 894th day imprisoned. He has still not had a trial. There are 365 days in a year. Barack has imprisoned an American citizen for close to three years. Barack has denied Bradly his Constitutional right to a fair and speedy trial. David E. Coombs and will be speaking December 3rd in DC. This Day In WikiLeaks notes that and two other events:
Bradley Manning's attorney David Coombs will be giving his first ever public presentation on December 3 at the All Souls Church Unitarian in Washington D.C. The presentation will give an overview of pending defence motions in U.S. v. PFC Manning, as well as other facts about the case.
A rally will be held at Fort Meade on November 27, the first day of Bradley Manning's hearings related to his unlawful pretrial punishment.
An Election Day demonstration will be held at the U.S. Embassy in London on November 6. Anthony Timmons of WISE Up Action will speak about Bradley Manning.