From yesterday's State Dept press briefing:
QUESTION: Yes, can we go to Iraq?
MS. NULAND: We can.
QUESTION: Yes, of course there was a lot of explosions today (inaudible), but on the eve of the war, the Costs of War project by Watson Institute of International Studies at Brown University issued an assessment that the war cost $2 trillion – quite staggering – and could conceivably cost $6 billion, with, like, 123,000 civilian Iraqis dead and many, many others.
So I wanted to ask you what – on the 10th anniversary, what are the lessons learned for U.S. foreign policy and indeed, the implications?
MS. NULAND: I think we’ll have more to say as we get closer to the 10th anniversary. But the path to the relationship that the U.S. and Iraq have today has obviously been challenging, but through our sustained efforts, we’ve now forged a strategically important bilateral relationship, one that continues to be a top priority for us, a top priority for Iraq. The challenges are complex. They remain.
But as compared to where we were in the Saddam era, we now have a bilateral security agreement, we have deep economic interests and ties, we have a security relationship, we have a political relationship. Both countries have made enormous sacrifices to get us where we are and to start this new chapter, but we’re committed to Iraq for the long term and we’re committed to its prosperity, its unity and integrity, and to its ability to be a strong democracy in the region.
QUESTION: The Syrian-Iraqi border is becoming a lawless frontier, and in fact, the U.S. is probably aiding the government in trying to control some of the al-Qaida elements that control actually both sides of this frontier. And at the same time, there is a possible breakaway by the KRG, they’re threatening, and so on. I wonder what you’re doing, or if you could share with us some of the things that you are doing, one, to convince the KRG to remain confederated with Iraq, and second, to help the Iraqis control their border?
MS. NULAND: First, with regard to our contacts with the KRG, you know that we maintain a broad and deep relationship with them. We are in constant contact with them, as we are with all of the major leaders and groups in Iraq. And our message to all of them is the same, that the Iraqi constitution calls for a unified country where the groups can coexist, can make political compromises with each other, that there’s a lot of work undone. And we are encouraging all sides to continue the dialogue about how Iraq can move forward, and particularly in the area of completing its work on energy, et cetera, so that all Iraqis can benefit from that.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. NULAND: Thank you very much.
UPI turns the above into Iraq being called "better off" by "a U.S. State Department spokeswoman said."
But that's not accurate. As we noted back in November 2004 when explaining why NPR shouldn't have brought Robert Kagan on to 'analyze' then-Senator John Kerry's run for president on the Democratic Party's ticket:
What is Kagan's conflict of interest appearance? (An issue NPR has still not addressed.) It's not that he writes an op-ed for The Washington Post. Dvorkin does toss out the "hawk" issue but without ever addressing it. But he also doesn't address a very important fact: who is Robert Kagan married to?
He's married to Victoria Nuland. For all I know, she's a wonderful person. But that's not the issue. The issue is who Ms. Nuland works for. Want to take a guess on that?
Did you guess Dick Cheney? If you did, you may be more informed than Dvorkin or Montagne because possibly they are unaware of that fact. Possibly, they haven't done the basic work required -- Montagne to know about the "guest" she is introducing; Dvorkin to address the issue of Kagan as a commentator/interpreter of John Kerry's remarks.
Michele Norris' husband worked for the Kerry campaign. (Warning: we're going down a very basic road here. But apparently, it's not one that NPR can navigate by themselves so let's move slowly to allow them to keep up.) Since Norris' husband is involved with attempting to get what we will call "team A" into the White House, Norris has the appearance of a conflict of interest and her reporting duties can not include commenting or covering the campaigns. That's a simple path to follow whether you agree with it or not.
But with Kagan, the path has a huge u-turn and veers off to God knows where. Kagan's wife works as Cheney's deputy national security adviser. That's Ms. Nuland' s title. So in effect, Ms. Nuland's employed by "team B" -- she's apparently not working on team B's campaign, but she works for team B. Potentially, Kagan has a vested interest in the outcome of the 2004 election.
Robert Kagan is a neocon. He's the husband of the woman who was Dick Cheney's deputy national security adviser. Victoria Nuland is a neocon. While she's a State Dept spokesperson -- proving that failure is the only thing DC rewards -- Nuland also was part of the team plotting the Iraq War. So when UPI bills her just as State Dept spokesperson, that's really not accurate. Many years ago, Jebediah Reed did an article for Radar about who made money by supporting the Iraq War and The Nation's Jonathan Schell pointed out, "There doesn't seem to be a rush to find the people who were right about Iraq and install them in the mainstream media." It's really telling how welcoming the 'peace' candidate of 2008 has been to neocons (Robert Kagan's an adviser and his language often pops up in Barack's speeches, such as his 2012 State of the Union speech).
Here we've noted that we could have really become something in the '00s on the left. Instead, we became the photographic negative image of all we loathed about the right in the nineties. (We most recently pointed that out here.) John Stauber, one of the real truth tellers, returns today with a piece at CounterPunch that should shame so many of the faux left:
Think hard. Think about fundamental, radical, democratic, social and economic change, who might bring it about and how. Ask yourself if the the rich elite, the 1%, are going to fund that. Leave The Nation and Mother Jones on the shelf; turn off Ed Schultz, Rachel Madow and Chris Hayes; don’t open that barrage of email missives from Alternet, Media Matters, MoveOn, and the other think tanks; and get your head out of the liberal blogosphere for a couple days. Clear your mind and consider this:
The self-labeled Progressive Movement that has arisen over the past decade is primarily one big propaganda campaign serving the political interests of the the Democratic Party’s richest one-percent who created it. The funders and owners of the Progressive Movement get richer and richer off Wall Street and the corporate system. But they happen to be Democrats, cultural and social liberals who can’t stomach Republican policies, and so after bruising electoral defeats a decade ago they decided to buy a movement, one just like the Republicans, a copy.
His analysis of Occupy will have many crying -- and a few names (especially two attorneys who host a radio show and whored for Occupy) on the left cr**ping their pants. We'll note the section on the Iraq War:
After the 2004 flop of the Kerry/Edwards campaign, luck shone on the Democrats. The over-reach of the neoconservatives, the failure to find those weapons of mass deception (sic), the endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, turned American public opinion, especially among the young, against the Republicans. Growing anti-war sentiment, which had little to do with the organized anti-war movement, delivered to the Democrats what Governor Mario Cuomo called “The Gift.” The horrific Iraq war, he explained to a Democracy Alliance gathering, was the gift that allowed the Democrats to take control of the US Congress.
It was at this point in early 2007 that the truly dark and cynical agenda of the professional Progressive Movement and the Democratic Party revealed itself. Under Pelosi the Democrats could have cut off funding for Bush’s unpopular wars and foreign policy. Instead, with PR cover provided by MoveOn and their lobbyist Tom Matzzie, the Democratic Congress gave George Bush all the money he wanted to continue his wars. For the previous five years MoveOn had branded itself as the leader of the anti-war movement, building lists of millions of liberals, raising millions of dollars, and establishing itself in the eyes of the corporate media as leaders of the US peace movement. Now they helped the Democrats fund the war, both betting that the same public opposition to the wars that helped them win control of the House in 2006 could win the Presidency in 2008.
We didn't get change because change was never defined. They offered a ink blot that people could project onto. Change means end the war to you? Oh, sure then, that's what it means? Strengthening labor unions? Oh, sure that's exactly what it means! And to go with the ink blot campaign, a cypher candidate.
One who has no appreciation for democracy. The Iraqi people went to the polls in March 2010 and Nouri and his State of Law came in second to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya. Instead of urging Nouri to step down, Barack Obama backed him for a second term he hadn't earned. For eight months, the political system was paralyzed because Nouri would not step aside. Then Barack had officials work on the US-brokered Erbil Agreement which circumvented the Constitution and the will of the people to award Nouri a second term.
Yasmine BahraniYasmine Bahrani (McClatchy Newspapers) offers a take on the illegal war:
The most common excuse given is that there was bad intelligence. Recently on a documentary called "Hubris: The Selling of the Iraq War" was shown on MSNBC, a major planner of the war, Colin Powell's chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson, said there had been a hoax Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. We wonder whether his "stuff happens" explanation is acceptable.
Personally I was opposed to the war not because I had any inside information but because I worried about my relatives in Iraq. Most of them told me they were glad to be rid of Saddam Hussein, and soon after the invasion, I tried to give the new Iraq a chance. However 10 years on, those same relatives, who were comfortable before the war, still don't have electricity, water or security. Car bombs explode fairly regularly and kill innocents at markets, schools and other civilian locations. Human Rights Watch charges that the regime is violating the rights of vulnerable citizens, especially women and Christians.
They agree life under Saddam Hussein was difficult, but it has become more difficult under Nouri al-Maliki. On the anniversary, the Iraqi people I know are asking why their choice must be limited to the two evils of tyranny and chaos.
Iraqi's have suffered under Little Saddam and, these days, they're beginning to ask questions of Barack.
Obama, If you Cannot Hear Us Can you Not See Us?
Wake Up, this is an IRAQI REVOLUTION Not a Sectarian One!
Iraqis Did not Vote for an Iranian Dictatorship
Women Rights in Democratic Iraq Are NON-EXISTENT!
The above is what was written on a large sign protesters in Samarra carried in today's demonstration.
When will Barack hear the voices of the Iraqis, crying out for freedom? As he continues to arm Little Saddam (Nouri al-Maliki), as plans continue to provide Nouri with F-16s, it's really past time Americans said "NO!" to supporting authoritarian regimes. Protesters have been shot dead for the 'crime' of protesting. But still the protests continue. At what point does the US President recognize the suffering and stop playing footsie with Nouri al-Maliki?
Who knows but the protesters got a little more support today with photographic evidence of Abu Ghraib -- now back under Iraqi management. In this photo, is that guard carrying an actual rubber hose? That's what it appears. There are several photos Iraq Revolution has posted of Abu Ghraib. Is that supposed to pass for morning prayers? The US Gulag at Guantanamo Bay doesn't even (publicly) allow the prisoners to be forced into that mockery and desecration of morning prayers as evidenced by this Reuters photo by Deborah Gembara. Why do they protest? Maybe one answer is found in Mustafa al-Kadhimi's report for Al Monitor:
It was not easy for Bashir Ali, 55, to recall what he lived through when he was in the prisons of Saddam Hussein’s regime during the 1980s. He could not hold back his tears when he recalled being raped to force him to confess for plotting against the regime and for belonging to the Islamic Dawa party. But when he compares Iraq back then to what it is today, what he says is surprising: “Ten years after Saddam Hussein’s regime has ended, what we have is not better.”
Ali, a Shiite from southern Iraq, is an unusual witness because he does not look at things from the perspective of his personal tragedy. He said, “Today, there are no public services, no security, and Iraq is on the brink of civil war. We are almost at an impasse. Yes Saddam was unjust, but his reign provided security and public services. The regime that succeeded him has betrayed our dream in having security and stability.”
Today's protests were noted on Twitter:
In Baghdad efforts were once again made to stop the citizens from exercising their rights to protest -- and, as Ayad Allawi (leader of Iraqiya) has previously pointed out -- to stop them from exercising their rights to worship. Alsumaria notes efforts to prevent worshippers from reaching mosques. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) adds that federal police "used batons and water hoses" in an attempt to prevent Sunnis "from reaching a prominent mosque in northern Baghdad." Iraqi Spring MC notes that worshipers were prevented from utilizing Ramadan Bridge to enter Adhamiya. AP notes at least five protesters wounded on the bridge and quotes Abdul-Rahman al-Azzawi stating, "We were showed with water and the policemen started to beat us. I do not know the reason behind this savage attack. We were only going to a mosque, not to al-Maliki's office in the Green Zone." Al Jazeera adds:
Iraqi security forces had prevented worshippers from holding Friday prayers at the mosque last week as well, a development that reflects heightened sectarian tensions nearly a decade after the US invasion of Iraq.
Abdul-Rahman al-Azzawi was among of a group of people who tried to cross the 14th of Ramadan bridge when they were met by security forces.
"We were showered with water and the policemen started to beat us,'' he said.
"I do not know the reason behind this savage attack. We were only going to a mosque, not to al-Maliki's office in the Green Zone,'' referring to the heavily secured quarter in the center of Baghdad where many officials have their offices.
Despite these efforts, National Iraqi News Agency reports Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and Iraqiya MPs Salman Jumaili and Dhafi al-Aani took part in worship at Abu Hanifa Mosque in Adhamiya. Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi demanded that federal forces open a road to allow the protesters to enter. Iraqi Spring MC offers a photo of others who made it to the mosque in Adhmiya.
National Iraqi News Agency reports the Ramadi protesters today arrested a man who was attempting to burn protesters cars and they "handed him over to Aljazeerah police station in Ramadi." They note that, unlike some of the federal forces, they did not torture the man, simply placed him under arrest. Roy Gutman (McClatchy Newspapers) reports from Ramadi:
Along both shoulders of the road, the tribal leaders have erected more than 100 canvas tents, where they display posters with their 17 demands, all couched as fitting within current legal order. There s a threat, however, of other means: A hand-painted banner at a political rally that followed a recent religious servicesummed up the mood best: “Beware the patient man, if he gets angry.”
Protests also took place in Jalawlaa, Baquba, Falluja, Samarra, Baiji and Kirkuk. On Kirkuk, Sunday, National Iraqi News Agency reported "the General Coordinator of the popular committees overseeing the sit-ins of Kirkuk Bunyyan Sabbar al-Obeidi was killed today." Of Sunday's assassination of Bunyan-Obeidi, Alsumaria noted the activist was killed by unknown assailants in a civilian car who began shooting as they passed. AFP added, "Obeidi’s death comes two days after activists said security forces fired on a demonstration in Mosul, another north Iraq city" -- 3 protesters died in Mosul assault last Friday. At the demonstration in Kirkuk today, protesters held a symbolic funeral for Bunyan-Obeidi and you can see them carrying a coffin in this Iraqi Spring MC video. Earlier this week, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad (Guardian) reflected on the protests:
Every Friday, thousands of peaceful demonstrators have poured into the streets of Ramadi, Mosul and Falluja mimicking the Arab spring protests elsewhere in the region.In Mosul and Falluja, tent cities have sprung up in public squares. Some have even demonstrated in Sunni areas of Baghdad, braving the draconian Friday security measures imposed on them.
But perhaps more remarkable is the scene inside the tent. Among the tribal sheikhs and activists around Abu Saleh are former enemies and victims, men who feared him and men who hunted him on behalf of the Americans. Sensing an opportunity, Sunni factions have put aside their differences to mount a common front against Baghdad.
Moving over to violence, Yang Yi (Xinhua) reports, "A female Iraqi candidate for the upcoming provincial elections and her husband have been killed in the northern part of the country, police said Friday. Unidentified gunmen killed Kamisa Ahmed Al-Bachari and her husband late Thursday evening when they were returning from a wedding party in Al Arish village, south of Mosul, about 400 km north of Iraq's capital Baghdad, a local police source told Xinhua." National Iraq News Agency adds that an armed attack on a Tal Afar checkpoint resulted in the deaths of 2 police officers. Alsumaria notes three police officers were injured in a Baghdad mortar attack, 1 police officer shot dead on the streets of Mosul (gun had a silencer on it), and, dropping back to last night, an attack on a mosque to the south of Falluja left Iman Jbeil Majid al-Issawi dead. Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports an armed attack in Al Rayash in which 8 Iraqi soldiers were killed. AFP notes a home invasion outside Baquba which claimed the lives of Khalil al-Anjili and 1 son with 2 more killed outside the home -- resulting of 17 Sahwa killed so far this month. Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 158 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month.
Yesterday saw an attack on the Ministry of Justice. Adam Schreck (AP) notes Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi is calling for an investigation into the attack and stating, "This blatant security violation targeting an important government building in the middle of the capital only shows the weakness of the security forces (and) their limited capabilities,"
Alsumaria reports that Dhi Qar Province announced yesterday their figures for 2012 marriages which included 360 underage marriage. And when Iraq talks underage marriage, they're referring, as in this article, to girls as young as ten-years-old.
Do not mistakenly picture two little ten-year-olds holding hands, looking like the "Love is . . ." comic strip. While the wife may be as young as ten, the husband is generally in his fifties.
These are the figures for one province only. It's appalling. It's not a joke, it's not a meet-cute story to be shared years from now. It is abuse plain and simple. That's why the United Nations Population Fund has their End Child Marriage initiative. They note:
The campaign, Too Young to Wed, which launches on the first International Day of the Girl Child, calls attention to this egregious human rights violation. Beyond providing new data and co-sponsoring a high-level panel on this issue, UNFPA is working with governments and partners at all levels of society to deliver comprehensive programmes addressing the needs of vulnerable and married girls.
Start here by getting the facts, watching the videos, viewing the multimedia exhibit and sharing what you know with friends and colleagues.
Child marriage is not cute. Children need to be children, they don't need to be married off to adults. They don't need to have their learning and their lives stunted or taken away from them. Extreme poverty is at the root of many child marriages in Iraq.
And child marriage is only one of the many ways in which females suffer in Iraq.
The International Committee of the Red Cross notes:
ICRC assists female breadwinners who face severe hardship because their husbands have been killed, arrested, disabled by war injuries, or are missing. It helps them to register with the Iraq's welfare system and offers them grants to start small businesses and become financially independent. In 2012:
- 810 female breadwinners, among them 202 with physical disabilities, representing more than 4,300 beneficiaries, received an ICRC grant;
- with the support of local NGOs and the ICRC, almost 4,000 female breadwinners (with close to 16,000 dependents) were helped to apply for social assistance. They also received cash payments from the ICRC to offset costs.
The Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq's Yanar Mohammed pointed out this month, "Iraqi women have witnessed all kinds of crimes and grievances which accompany all wars; first of which is the loss of 10% of the Iraqi female population’s husbands and fathers, leaving more than 3 million women and girls with no source of income or protection, thereby turning them into a helpless population which is deprived of all components of human dignity. In result, 3 million widows and female orphans of war are currently vulnerable to being exploited by the human beasts which were raised inside the green zone to enjoy the riches of Iraq, while depriving the 99% of resources and making sure to trample upon the human dignity of a female population who became victims of trafficking, sexual exploitation, polygamy, and religious pleasure marriages."
You can't talk about the Iraq War without acknowledging what was done to Iraqi women. As Sami Ramadani (Guardian) observed yesterday, "Women and children pay the highest price. Women's rights, and human rights in general, are daily suppressed." The link there goes to Haifa Zangana (Guardian) column from last month about the state of Iraqi women:
The plight of women detainees was the starting point for the mass protests that have spread through many Iraqi provinces since 25 December 2012. Their treatment by the security forces has been a bleeding wound – and one shrouded in secrecy, especially since 2003. Women have been routinely detained as hostages – a tactic to force their male loved ones to surrender to security forces, or confess to crimes ascribed to them. Banners and placards carried by hundreds of thousands of protesters portray images of women behind bars pleading for justice.
[. . .]
No wonder, ten years after the invasion, the Iraqi authorities are accused by US-based Human Rights Watch of "violating with impunity the rights of Iraq's most vulnerable citizens, especially women and detainees". HRW's account is echoed by a report by the Iraqi parliament's own human rights and women, family and children's committees, which found that there are 1,030 women detainees suffering from widespread abuse, including threats of rape.
Responding to these findings, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki threatened to "arrest those members of parliament who had discussed the violence against women detainees". Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Hussain al-Shahristani has acknowledged that there are 13,000 prisoners in custody accused of terror offences, but he only mentioned women detainees in passing:
"We transferred all women prisoners to prisons in their home provinces."Al-Shahristani's statement is one in a long list of contradictory and misleading statements by the regime's most senior officials – from al-Maliki speaking of "not more than a handful of women terrorists", to his contradictory promise that he will pardon all "women detainees who have been arrested without a judicial order or in lieu of a crime committed by some of their male relatives". That assurance was followed by parading nine women, cloaked in black from head to toe, on the official state TV channel, al-Iraqiya, as a gesture of the regime's "good will".
Protesters and Iraqi human rights organizations estimate that there are as many as 5,000 female detainees. The truth is leaking out, drip by drip. A few weeks ago, 168 women detainees were released and there were promises of another 32 waiting to be released. No one accused of torture, rape or abuse has yet been brought to justice.
Peter Beaumont (Guardian) reports on the Iraqi women who end up imprisoned:
Sabah Hassan Hussein is still not certain which powerful person or interest she offended. An Iraqi journalist and human rights activist, she says she had been investigating the serious abuse of female prisoners in Tikrit. Although she had not published her allegations she did raise them with Iraqi ministries.
Last year, in events she believes may be connected, Hussein found herself incarcerated in the same jail and suffering similar abuse to the other women.
Tricked into visiting an army barracks in Baghdad, she was arrested and transferred to Tikrit on a trumped-up charge involving the murder of the brother of an Iraqi MP and one of her colleagues who had been kidnapped and killed.The 12-month ordeal that followed, by her account, involved physical and psychological abuse, and included sexual assault.
She says she finally cracked when she was told her 20-year-old daughter, who was brought to speak to her in Tikrit, would be raped if she did not "confess".
On this week's Making Contact, Iraq is explored. Excerpt.
Yanar Mohammed: We have turned in the last ten years into a new police state. [. . .] [W]hat happened in Iraq is that the US administration wanted to empower only those who are on the right [wing] side of the political formula. And on the right side, it was mostly the Islamists. And when they dealt with the political groups who are on the ground, they dealt with them in what is understood as the rule of the jungle: Whoever has the biggest militias, whoever has the better ability to kill, those were the ones who are in the Parliament now. You do not see the political parties that are progressive in Iraq that have a history, have a big membership, you don't see them having any seats. If we were to go back to 2003 and if there was a political will to allow the times to happen in Iraq all of the political groups should have been empowered in the same way -- and especially the working class groups and the women. To cut a long story short, they did not want Iraq to become a modern state. They wanted to become another Saudi Arabia in the region. Saudi Arabia which is lying on top of a big field of oil which where the state has one function to pull the tabs of oil and to open them in full to the foreign companies.
Of course, Iraqi women have had some 'success' under Nouri's leadership. Let's drop back to the November 12th snapshot:
Staying with violence, as noted in the October 15th snapshot, Iraq had already executed 119 people in 2012. Time to add more to that total. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reported last night that 10 more people were executed on Sunday ("nine Iraqis and one Egyptian"). Tawfeeq notes the Ministry of Justice's statement on the executions includes, "The Iraqi Justice Ministry carried out the executions by hanging 10 inmates after it was approved by the presidential council." And, not noted in the report, that number's only going to climb. A number of Saudi prisoners have been moved into Baghdad over the last weeks in anticipation of the prisoners being executed. Hou Qiang (Xinhua) observes, "Increasing executions in Iraq sparked calls by the UN mission in the country, the European Union and human rights groups on Baghdad to abolish the capital punishment, criticizing the lack of transparency in the proceedings of the country's courts."
Yes, in Nouri's Iraq, women are executed and put on death row. Other rights may have withered but Nouri -- like most misogynsts -- will always support the right to proclaim a woman guilty of some crime or 'crime.'
From Amnesty International's new report [PDF format warning] "Iraq: A Decade of Abuses:"
Men comprise the great majority of prisoners sentenced to death and executed in Iraq but at least 14 women have been executed since executions resumed. The authorities have reported carrying out 129 executions in 2012, including five executions of women.
The number of women currently on death row is unknown to Amnesty International. In October 2012, the HHRO reported that at least 18 women were on death row there when they visited the Women's Prison in Baghdad.
Some women prisoners have been on death row for several years, including Wassan Talib, who was sentenced to death in August 2006 after the Central Criminal Court convicted her of murdering members of the security forces, and Samar Sa'ad 'Abdullah, sentenced in August 2005 after she was convicted of murdering several relatives despite her allegations that she was forced to confess under torture in pre-trial detention.
They're represented in mulitples on death row but there's only one woman in Nouri's Cabinet -- and he only named a woman to the post after women publicly rebuked him in January 2011 -- including women in Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's family.
In the United States, next week will see a major event from Iraq Veterans Against the War:
iraqi spring mc
national iraqi news agency
all iraq news