Friday, January 24, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Friday, January 24, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri continues to terrorize Anbar, Iraqis continue to protest Nouri, Iraq's Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi has no "Red Notice" with INTERPOL (though the press 'forgot' to tell us that), and much more.

This month, Larry Everest (Revolution Newspaper) asked, "How is the U.S. imperialist media dealing with the ongoing carnage in Iraq?"

And he answered, "One example was the January 10 New York Times front-page story titled, “Fallujah’s Fall Stuns Marines Who Fought There.” This article is an exposure of the bankruptcy and illegitimacy of the U.S. imperialist media. People need to reject this drumbeat to think like Americans, and see the world through the lens of the American empire, and start thinking about humanity!"

And that is one answer.  But the reality is that you can count on a handful the number of outlets outside of Iraq treating Nouri's assault on Anbar Province with any reality.  Most either ignore what's taking place or else they carry the party line of 'bad terrorists are here and must be killed!'  Say the word "terrorist" and everyone loses their voice apparently.

That's why it's been so effective in killing liberties in the US, this so-called War on 'Terror.'  It's a mental stop sign in the same way "Communist" was for so many in the US at the middle of the 20th century. For some, the term terrifies them.  For others, they're just terrified someone will call them "terrorist."  But not many want to say,"Hold on a second, let's get serious."  So if you holler "terrorism!" or "terrorist!," you can usually dominate the conversation and the narrative.  No one asks you for proof, no one questions.

And that's how Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's chief thug and prime minister, has gotten away with a series of War Crimes over the last weeks.   The Geneva International Centre for Justice notes the continued assault on Anbar Province:

In the wake of the 1st of January 2014, the 600.000 residents of Fallujah, one of the main cities in al-Anbar, found themselves encircled by the government forces. The residential areas were under the military attack. This time it was claimed that al-Qaeda and ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) had taken over the city. Indeed some fighters wearing such signs were seen to have set police stations and government buildings on fire; however these people encountered strong resistance from the local residents.
Furthermore, the witnesses mentioned that these acclaimed terrorist fighters appeared as soon as the government’s army arrived and took positions in the surroundings of the city. Many of the contacts of GICJ in Fallujah and Baghdad therefore believe that disguised militia groups affiliated with the al-Maliki’s party were channelled into the city in order to provide the necessary pretext for an attack and gain the military support from the Western countries.
As of January 6, the main eastern, northern and southern checkpoints were closed and the army refuses to allow people, medicine or food items to enter or leave the city.  Even the Iraqi Red Crescent could not enter anymore. Families who wanted to flee could only leave under extreme difficulties. These sanctions were imposed even though the residents of Fallujah publicly affirmed numerous times that the city had not been taken over by any terrorist.
Al Maliki’s official portrayal of terrorists brought him the immediate support from the USA as well as from Iran. Also, Russia announced its support. Other voices however, such as the senior EU lawmaker Struan Stevenson, a member of the European parliament, warned in an open letter published on 7 January 2014 that “Iraq is plummeting rapidly towards civil war and genocide”. In a second letter published on 20 Januaray 2014 Stevenson’s further warned that claims by al-Maliki were “utter nonsense”. Still, he had “convinced his American allies that he is fighting a war on terror and they are pouring in rockets, drones and other military hardware which Maliki is using to bomb and kill civilian targets”.
Al-Maliki insists once again to demolish all demonstrations and to use force against all the cities that witness resistance against his policies. The continuing use of the army against densely populated cities can only lead to another huge humanitarian disaster. Many residents are fleeing, not in fear of terrorists but in fear of the government forces and over hundred people have already lost their lives during the attacks by tanks and by air that mainly targeted the residential areas in the outskirts of the city.

National Iraqi News Agency reports that the Iraqi military's mortar shelling last night left 4 people dead and 32 more injured "including women and children" and today's military shelling of Falluja left 5 people dead and 14 more injured -- "most of them women and children."   Collective punishment is what Nouri's pursuing.  If you doubt that:  Iraqi Spring MC notes that Nouri's army shelled Falluja General Hospital.

Attacking hospitals is an international no-no.  Nouri al-Maliki is a War Criminal and collective punishment is a War Crime.  Daoud Kuttab (Crimes Of War) explains:

Under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, collective punishments are a war crime. Article 33 of the Fourth Convention states: “No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed,” and “collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.” Israel, however, does not accept that the Fourth Geneva Convention or the Additional Protocols apply to the West Bank de jure, but says it abides by the humanitarian provisions without specifying what the humanitarian provisions are.
By collective punishment, the drafters of the Geneva Conventions had in mind the reprisal killings of World Wars I and II. In the First World War, Germans executed Belgian villagers in mass retribution for resistance activity. In World War II, Nazis carried out a form of collective punishment to suppress resistance. Entire villages or towns or districts were held responsible for any resistance activity that took place there. The conventions, to counter this, reiterated the principle of individual responsibility. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Commentary to the conventions states that parties to a conflict often would resxort to “intimidatory measures to terrorize the population” in hopes of preventing hostile acts, but such practices “strike at guilty and innocent alike. They are opposed to all principles based on humanity and justice.”
The law of armed conflict applies similar protections to an internal conflict. Common Article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 requires fair trials for all individuals before punishments; and Additional Protocol II of 1977 explicitly forbids collective punishment.

This week UNAMI issued their [PDF format warning] latest human rights report on Iraq which included, "The deliberate or indiscriminate targeting of civilians constitutes a gross violation of international humanitarian and human rights law and of Iraqi law."

So why is the assault on Anbar allowed to take place -- let alone continue -- without a huge outcry from all over?

It's accomplished nothing.

All Iraq News reports 2 Tikrit bombings left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and four more injured, an armed clash in Ramadi left 13 fighters dead and that a home invasion late last night in Basra left 2 women dead (mother and daughter).  NINA also notes a Hamrin home bombing which left two police injured, Joint Special Operations Command declared they killed 2 suspects in Mosul, 1 Sahwa was shot dead outside of Kirkuk, and an armed clash in Falluja left 2 Iraqi soldiers dead and four more injured.  Through Thursday, Iraq Body Count counts 839 violent deaths this month.

 Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports it is thought 75% of the residents of Falluja have fled.  The United Nations Refugee Agency issued the following today:

GENEVA, January 24 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency on Friday reported that more than 65,000 people had over the past week fled the conflict in the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in central Iraq's Anbar province. Since fighting broke out at the end of last year, more than 140,000 people have been made homeless by fighting according to Iraq's Ministry of Displacement and Migration.
This is the largest displacement Iraq has witnessed since the sectarian violence of 2006-2008. This number comes on top of the 1.13 million people already internally displaced in Iraq and who are mostly residing in Baghdad, Diyala and Ninewa provinces.
UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva that people in Anbar, including UNHCR staff, had reported that many civilians were unable to leave conflict-affected areas where food and fuel were now in short supply.
"Most of the recently displaced remain outside Fallujah city, accommodated by relatives or staying in schools, mosques and hospitals where resources are running low. Host families are having difficulties sustaining the burden of caring for the displaced," he said.
The spokesman added that UNHCR and its humanitarian aid partners had managed to distribute tarpaulins, blankets, sleeping mats, food, and hygiene supplies. On Thursday, UNHCR delivered 2,400 core relief kits. The Ministry of Displacement and Migration and the Iraqi parliament have also sent aid.
"Many of the displaced, nonetheless, are still in desperate need of food, medical care, and other aid. As the insecurity has spread, many families who fled several weeks ago have been displaced again," Edwards said.
The UN in Iraq has asked the government to facilitate the opening of a humanitarian corridor to reach displaced and stranded families in Anbar province. In recent weeks, several bridges leading into the conflict area and communities hosting displaced people have been destroyed, making access difficult. Currently, it is impossible to reach the area from Baghdad and relief agencies are using roads coming from northern Iraq.
Meanwhile, other areas of Iraq including Baghdad, Erbil, Kerbala, Salah-al-Din and Ninewa have witnessed the arrival of thousands of displaced people. People are reportedly without money for food and lack suitable clothing for the rainy conditions. Children are not in school and sanitary conditions, particularly for women, are inadequate.
"Establishing camps for the newly displaced is not our preferred option and may prolong displacement. But, if the government of Iraq opts to establish sites, UNHCR is ready to provide tents and core relief items as well as provide support to camp management," Edwards said in Geneva,
In northern Iraq, at the request of the Erbil government, UNHCR has refurbished the Baharka temporary site to host people arriving from Anbar. Tents, electricity and sanitation facilities have been installed and the facility is ready to accommodate up to 300 families should the government decide to open the site. In Suleymaniya, some sections of Arbat camp, originally built for Syrian refugees, have been made available to accommodate internally displaced Iraqis. There are some 300 displaced families in Suleymaniya.
Planning is under way to field additional mobile teams to strengthen capacity in Anbar and teams could also be dispatched to other provinces hosting the displaced.

F. Brinley Bruton (NBC News) quotes Peter Kessler, UNHCR spokesperson, stating, "“People are still fighting and mortars are still landing. People don’t have access to food."  Yang Yi (Xinhua) quotes UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards stating, "Most of the recently displaced remain outside Fallujah city, accommodated by relatives or staying in schools, mosques and hospitals where resources are running low. Host families are having difficulties sustaining the burden of caring for the displaced."  And on the topic of mosques,  Kitabat reports that 'acting defense minister'  Saadoun al-Dulaimi (he's not the Minister of Defense -- only Parliament can make someone that -- so he's something else, maybe Nouri's little sex toy?) declared that they (the Iraqi government) will bomb and target any home or mosque they think might contain a terrorist.  Any home or mosque.

Are we really so sick, twisted and fearful as a people that we're going to allow ourselves to be scared into silence by the calculated use of the term "terrorist"?

To me this looks a lot like genuine terrorism.

قوات المالكي تقوم باعدام مواطن في بعقوبة وتمثل بجثته. .

 Via Iraqi Spring MC, some of the dead in Baquba that Nouri's forces murdered.  Notice the Iraqi soldiers in the background.  No effort is made to remove the three dead people.  Or to cover them.  they're displayed.  Why?

Because they're "kills" and the Iraqi military is displaying their "kills" in order to frighten the nearby residents.

The attack isn't just the bullets, the mortars and the bombs.  Nouri's attack on Anbar is also psychological.  

Again from UNAMI  [PDF format warning] latest human rights report on Iraq:

The impact of violence on ordinary Iraqi women, men, boy and girls cannot be underestimated. Apart from the increasing risk of becoming a direct victim of violence, the fear of violence severely limits their ability to enjoy fundamental human rights and freedoms, including freedom of movement, as many people start to confie their activities outside their homes to essential tasks, which in turn impacts on their ability to access basic services, such as education and health care. Furthermore, there are an increasing number of civilians who are the secondary victims of violence -- particularly those whose family members have been killed or wounded . Besides the psychological and emotional suffering, the death or injury of family members sometimes deprives households of breadwinners or those who are contributing financially to their households. Families of injured and disabled people have to bear significant costs (both financial and physical ) involved in ensuring adequate medical care and support.

The attacks from Nouri's forces are acts of terrorism.

But if anyone confronted him, Nouri would probably blow them off.

Earlier this month, Felicity Arbuthnot (Morning Star) pointed out, "Fallujah, Ramadi and much of western Iraq has been demonstrating for a year against the vicious, sectarian, US-imposed puppet government of Nouri al-Maliki."  Since December 21, 2012, protests have been ongoing throughout Iraq over Nouri's corruption and criminality.  These protests continue.  Iraqi Spring MC notes protests continued in Anbar, Samarra, Rawa, Jalawla and Tikrit (pictured below) and also protests continued in Falluja, Baiji, and Baquba.

  1. الجمعة الموحدة في قضاء عنه بمحافظة الانبار: .
  2. الجمعة الموحدة في مدينة سامراء بمحافظة صلاح الدين: .
  3. الجمعة الموحدة في مدينة تكريت بمحافظة صلاح الدين: .

Nouri has repeatedly attempted to end the protests.  He's threatened them, he's labeled them terrorists, his forces have attacked them, have followed them from the protests to their homes, his forces have killed them, and so much more.  But of a year and a month, they've protested non-stop.  

Last week, Abdullah Salem (Niqash) reported:

All eyes have been on Anbar. But a series of assassinations of Sunni Muslim tribal heads and clerics who have been leading demonstrations in Ninawa leads to worrying conclusions. Extremists from both Shiite and Sunni Muslim groups have the common goal of getting rid of this society’s leaders and causing havoc here too.

Earlier this week, assailants broke into the home of the Sunni Muslim cleric Radwan al-Hadidi. Al-Hadidi was one of the leaders of the Sunni Muslim anti-government protests in the area and several days earlier he had made a speech criticising extremist Sunni elements. He told media that it was easier to talk with a wall than it was to talk to Al Qaeda. Yet at the same time al-Hadidi was also firmly opposed to the policies of the Shiite Muslim-led government in Baghdad and had demanded that it be dissolved and that the Iraqi Constitution be re-written.

The men who broke into al-Hadidi’s house murdered him.

This was not an isolated case. Several of the leaders of the demonstrations in this area have been assassinated over the past year. The murders started after demonstrators started to carry guns - and they started to carry guns after the Iraqi army broke up a demonstration in Hawija, near the city of Kirkuk, in late April. In doing so, they killed around 40 demonstrators and injured hundreds of others.
“Rumours started circulating that there were now Shiite Muslim militias killing the protest leaders,” says Abdul-Salam Raouf, a local journalist. “Allegedly they were supported by Iran and they included the likes of the League of Righteous led by Qais Khazali and Hezbollah in Iraq led by Wathiq al-Battat.”

One of the first protest leaders to be murdered was Haitham al-Abadi who was attacked on August 19, 2013. The attack on al-Abad also saw another tribal leader, Ahmad al-Ramawi injured.

Later that month gunmen targeted Barzan al-Badrani, a prominent tribal leader who took part in the protests. He was murdered using a pistol with a silencer in central Mosul.

Another protest leader, Tharwi al-Kourz al-Shammari, was also killed in Mosul, next to his house by unidentified gunmen. Yet another protest leader Thaer Hazem Abed was killed by gunmen in September. 
Then on October 11, cleric Ali al-Shamma was murdered after he finished his Friday sermon in Mosul.

Tuesday, Nouri's government announced the executions of 26 people.  Thursday, the announcement was 11 more people were hanged.  Tuesday, Human Rights Watch issued World Report 2014 which noted 2012 saw Nouri's government execute at least 129 people while 2013 saw the number increase to 151.  Today another human rights organization attempts raises the issue.  Amnesty International notes:

Saudi Arabian national Abdullah Al Qahtani is at imminent risk of execution in Iraq. He is one of six men who were reportedly tortured into “confessing” to being members of terrorist organization al-Qaeda.
Four of Abdullah's six co-defendants were already executed. Abdullah is next.
Thanks in part to the calls of Amnesty supporters, Abdullah’s execution had been temporarily delayed. However, Abdullah's time is once again running out.

Please help stop the imminent execution of Abdullah al-Qahtani.

If you use the link, they have a contact form you can use. Meanwhile Iraqi Spring MC reports Nouri's forces carried out a campaign of arrests in Adhamiya (Baghdad neighborhood that has been protesting Nouri for over a year) focusing on the youth -- the protesters have been predominately young adults.  NINA reports:

Army troops closed on Friday evening al- Adhamiya district and the roads leading to it and prevented citizens from entering or leaving it after the arrest of Sheikh Mahmoud Abdel-Aziz al-Ani, head of the Council of Scholars of Iraq , and Abdul Sattar Abdul-Jabbar Imam and preacher of al-Imam al-Aadham Mosque .Eyewitnesses in al- Adhamiya district said in a telephone contact with / NINA / that the security forces deployed their military vehicles in different districts in al-Adhamiya especially near its entrances and main streets as a proactive step on the invitations to hold a sit-in in front of Abu Hanifa mosque in protest at the arrest of the two sheikhs .
The eyewitnesses confirmed that the security forces have forced the owners of the shops and restaurants to close their shops for fear of the evolution of the situation.

Kitabat notes the rising calls for the two to be released.  Iraq's Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi remains in Turkey.  May 8, 2012, INTERPOL stupidly issued a "Red Notice" for Tareq.


We noted then that they were breaking their own rules.  The lazy, western media loved it and repeated it -- not reported because they don't know enough to know the basic facts to report.

Guess who no longer has a "Red Notice"?  Did you guess Tareq?  If so, you're correct.

There are 41 people still wanted by Iraq with INTERPOL "Red Notices."  Tareq is no longer one of them.

The press that made such a big deal of it last year is no where to be found.  The idiots can always be counted on to scream, "FIRE!" They just can't be counted to ever actually report.

The Red Notice was cancelled last week.

Where has the press been?

Again, they couldn't shut up about the "Red Notice" -- in terms of being a parrot and repeating what they were told.  They couldn't offer any real facts and certainly no analysis.  As the saying goes, there's no app for critical thinking.

NINA notes that Iraq's Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi met today with US General Ray Odierno and KRG President Massoud Barzani spoke with US Senator John McCain about the Iraq crisis while both were in Davos Switzerland today.  Yesterday's snapshot noted the speech Osama al-Nujaifi gave at the Brookings Institution in DC.  Today Brookings' Fred Dews blogs about the event and ends with  "Get the full event audio."  Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports, "Nujaifi, the most senior Sunni Arab in the Iraqi government, said Barack Obama and vice-president Joe Biden had agreed to send direct support to the Sunni tribes, whose leaders had led the Awakening movement that stabilised the province throughout 2007."

At today's US State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Marie Harf:


MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Yeah. Yesterday --

MS. HARF: And then I think I’m a little tight on time, so we’ll do a few more and then – yeah.

QUESTION: Okay. Very quickly. Yesterday, the speaker of the house – the speaker of the Iraqi parliament Usama al-Nujayfi gave a speech at Brookings. He gave a very bleak picture of what’s going on in Iraq, and he said that we are at a turning point, at the fork of the road, so to speak, alluding to the next elections, suggesting that Maliki should not run for a third term. Would you advise the current prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, that if he runs for a third term, that would be more decisive to the country?

MS. HARF: Again, Said, this is – got to your question on General al-Sisi – we don’t take a – well, don’t be frustrated. It’s our position. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Okay, I’m – okay, that is your position that --

MS. HARF: We don’t take a position on who should lead countries.


MS. HARF: I don’t have more details about our discussions with the prime minister about the upcoming elections. We’ve said that the upcoming elections are an important step in Iraq’s future – that we will work with whoever the leader is of Iraq.

QUESTION: But also, the U.S. was really instrumental and sort of crafting the constitution. And he specifically addressed Article 142, which remains to be a very decisive article among all Iraqis. Would the U.S. also provide technical and legal advice on how to amend that article?

MS. HARF: I don’t think we need to tell the Iraqis what to do with their own constitution. Obviously, we provide a range of diplomatic and political, military advice to the Iraqis, but I just don’t have anything more on that.

al-Nujaifi also touched on elections today.  Missy Ryan (Reuters) reports:

Usama al-Nujaifi, a Sunni, said in an interview during a visit to Washington that he feared attempts to discourage voting or "provoke the situation" in Sunni areas, or to sideline certain would-be candidates, were designed "to weaken Sunni representation in parliament."
He also warned that poor security could pose problems for the parliamentary polls, scheduled for April 30.
"If the security conditions worsen, the elections could be postponed (or) if they are held, they will take place under inappropriate conditions," he said.