Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Brett gets slapped down (somebody tell him he's not the Ambassador)

Friday's snapshot noted many explosive remarks.  Nouri, for example, stated he was going to form a majority government and that he was going to call for early elections.  The US State Dept's Pervert for the Middle East Brett McGurk announced that the answer for Iraq was a majority government.


Dar Addustour reports the US Embassy in Baghdad is walking back Brett's remarks, insisting he mispoke and/or was mistranslated. Looks like for now Stephen Beecroft remains the US Ambassador to Iraq and Brett's going to have to answer to him. That must be very hard for Brett who wanted so desperately to be Ambassador.  But he's not.  No, he's not.  We might have to say it a few more times for him to accept it.

RT (Russia Today) reports today:

One of the gravest casualties of the 10-year US-led war in Iraq is the destruction of the country’s cultural heritage, Iraqi archaeologist and architect Ihsan Fathi told RT.
On top of thousands of looted or illegally obtained cultural artifacts during the war, billions of dollars have also been transferred out of “Iraq’s Central banks to US without any paper trail.”
“I’m sure that everything that was stored in the Central and other banks was sent to the US without any documentation and now is kept in archives,” Fathi said. “Huge amounts of documents representing historical importance that cannot be assigned a monetary value were taken by the US.”
And all attempts to reclaim the country’s stolen treasures failed: “The Iraqi government was trying to get them back but the American Administration wanted to strike a deal and return only half of the documents,” he explained.

In the abstract, the above is true.  But now when you bring  "valuable Jewish manuscripts" into it, and RT does.

Reporting would require noting that these were cultural artifacts which the government of Iraq stole from the Jewish population and these were government records -- spying -- on Iraqi Jews.

Who do they belong to?

Not to the Iraqi government.  This nonsense does not fly and RT can pimp it as long as it wants and people can look as stupid as they please.  It doesn't change the fact that, post-invasion in 2003, the Jewish population was targeted and decimated.  There's only a handful left.

These are Jewish artifacts and they belong to the Jewish people.  Israel is not the only place where Jews reside but it is considered, by some, to be a homeland.  So if that's where the records are now, that's where they are.

We wouldn't argue for valuable Sunni artifacts to be given to the Iranian government or for Native American treasures to be handed over to the US government.  We certainly won't argue that a government that ran Jews out of Iraq in the last 10 years has claim to Jewish artifacts.

The US military found the records, submerged in water,  and they were brought back to the US.  If they have been indeed transferred to Israel, good.  RT has a story that makes several excellent points and then they muddy it by bringing up this.  Cultural heritage is about a culture, not about a location -- especially when the people have been run out of an area.  Making an argument that the Iraqi government is entitled to these artifacts is almost as outrageous as arguing that Germany has claim to Jewish artifacts.  When you attack a people, you especially give up any claims.

RT does a better job covering  the BBC Arabic and Guardian newspaper documentary James Steele: America's Mystery Man In Iraq:

Steele’s role in the Middle East has been blamed with fueling the Iraqi civil war between Sunnis and Shias, the peak of which saw 3,000 people killed every month. At the behest of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Steele and Coffman committed various human rights violations but were never implicated by subordinates, in part because they never tortured prisoners themselves.

They worked hand in hand,” Gen. Muntadher al-Samari, who worked with Steele and Coffman for over a year, told The Guardian in March. “I never saw them apart in the 40 or 50 times I saw them inside the detention centers. They knew everything that was going on there…the torture, the most horrible kinds of torture.”

The new report is the first time Gen. Petraeus has been mentioned in connection with US-sanctioned torture sites in Iraq. Both Steele and Coffman worked directly under Petraeus during the counter-insurgency in the initial years of the Iraq conflict.

The Guardian/BBC Arabic report describes how, during that time, each torture site was under the bureaucratic command of its own interrogation committee.

In possibly related news, National Iraqi News Agency reports, "Iraqiya Hurra coalition demanded the government to sue the United States in international courts and claim compensation for material and moral damage in Iraq throughout the occupation years."

All Iraq news reports that the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the party of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, issued a statement today declaring that the Iraqi people -- and the Kurds in particular -- will not allow a dictatorship to return.  Jalal remains in Germany, recovering from a December stroke.  Dar Addustour reports that efforts are underway to make KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani President of Iraq. Still on the political, from the April 2nd snapshot, "Alsumaria reports that Salah al-Obeidi, spokesperson for the Sadr bloc, declared today that pressure is  being put upon police and military recruits to get them to vote for Nouri's State of Law slate."  Al Rafidayn reports today that Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, has also called out the efforts to pressure police and army to vote for a specific list of candidate (Al Rafidayn notes that al-Hakim avoided naming the list in question).

Mass arrests continue -- despite the protests.  NINA reports that in Kirkuk alone, 47 were taken in as part of a mass arrest.  Alsumaria reports that MP Nahida Daini is calling out the mass arrests in Diyala Province, the lack of stated reasons behind the arrests and that they appear to be an effort to prevent people from participating in the upcoming elections (April 20th).  Daini is a member of Iraqiya and she knows about violence -- in February 2012, her brother was kidnapped and discovered dead in Tikrit days later.   Violence being reported today?   National Iraqi News Agency reports 1 contractor was shot dead in Hilla late last night.  All Iraq News adds that 2 police officers were kidnapped while an Anbar Province bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left another injured.

The despicable Robert Zoellick is scheduled to share how to be unethical and criminal in a speech to Swarthmore graduates in June so we'll close with this from Patrick Bond's "What Will Robert Zoellick Break Next?" (CounterPunch):

There are two theories about Robert Zoellick, and they’ll be tested next month by a World Bank vote on a massive South African coal-fired generator loan.

The 57-year old Bank president is a nerdy man who served as number two at the Bush State Department and then in 2007 replaced the disgraced, nepotistic Paul Wolfowitz. One theory is that Zoellick is brilliant and effective. The other – which I’ll defend – is that nearly everything he touches, he breaks.

In one corner, writing in CounterPunch in 2005, is US foreign policy analyst Tom Barry: “At first glance, Zoellick could be mistaken for an ideologue, as an evangelist for free trade and a member of the neoconservative vanguard. But when his political trajectory is more closely observed, Zoellick is better understood as a can-do member of the Republican foreign policy elite – a diplomat who always keeps his eye on the prize, namely the interests of Corporate America and U.S. global hegemony.”

Ideologically, the man stood hand in hand with Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, Wolfowitz, Bolton, Negroponte and the other maniacs, admits Barry: “Zoellick was perhaps the first Bush associate to introduce the concept of evil into the construct of Bush’s radical overhaul of US grand strategy. A year before Bush was inaugurated, Zoellick wrote: ‘A modern Republican foreign policy recognizes that there is still evil in the world – people who hate America and the ideas for which it stands.’”

This, the argument continues, is merely banal Washington rhetoric. It should not distract us from Zoellick’s deeper capacity to reproduce and restructure imperial power. As Central American activist Toni Solo put it in CounterPunch in 2003, “Zoellick is neither blind nor crazy. He simply has no interest in the massive human cost, whether in the United States or abroad, of his lucrative global evangelical mission on behalf of corporate monopoly capitalism.”

The other theory is more skeptical of Zoellick’s efficacy, concluding that he’s not particularly good at what he does. Indeed, Zoellick is mainly of interest because he represents a global trend of Empire in crisis since the Millennium, featuring at least three self-immolating traits which he brings to next month’s climate showdown at the Bank.

First is the ideological fusion of neoconservatism and neoliberalism that Zoellick shares with his predecessor Wolfowitz. Both strains are bankrupt, by any reasonable accounting. Representing the former, Zoellick was at the outset a proud member of the Project for a New American Century, and as early as January 1998 he went on record that Iraq should be illegally overthrown.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

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