Monday, February 10, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Monday, February 10, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, there's an assassination attempt on the Speaker of Iraq's Pariament, beastly gas bags weigh in flaunting their ignorance, NPR is delighted by 'fun' bombing victims, NPR is among the many outlets that failed to cover Human Rights Watch's report on the abuse of Iraqi women, feminist or 'feminist' outlets in the US also ignored the report (Women's e-News did cover it), the assault on Anbar continues, and much more.

Let's start with the gas bags.  Former US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey insists the US didn't fail and didn't lose Iraq and blah blah blah.  You know what, Foreign Policy pimps war.  They hire idiots like Thomas E. Ricks (oh, we'll to him, just wait) and when they seek outside views, the views are never outside.

Everyone in the US did not support Bully Boy Bush trying to destroy Iraq.  But the only voices Foreign Policy wants to offer are the voices of war.  James Jeffrey pushed for war on Iraq.  He just needs to sit his ass down.  He's an embarrassment.  He writes today yet somehow ignores last week's Human Rights Watch report.

Then there's the breasty Thomas E. Ricks who wants to quote Toby Dodge.  I don't have time to track down what Ricks is quoting.

Here's reality, if Dodge said what Ricks says Dodge said, he's not just a little wrong, he's damn stupid.

First off, Dodge is quoted stating that Nouri said any changes to the (2008) Status Of Forces Agreement would have to go through the Iraqi Parliament.  No, that's not the issue and it wasn't an issue.  This was not about approval for amendments.

The stumbling block for the administration was the issue of immunity.  It was present in the 2008 SOFA.  If only amendments to it required a vote, then the State Dept's Brett McGurk lied to Congress last week.

If Toby Dodge said or wrote what Man Boobs Ricks repeated, Dodge doesn't know a damn thing.

I've never heard of anything so stupid from a supposed expert before.

The Status Of Forces Agreement was a three year contract which governed 2009, 2010 and 2011.  The Parliament voted on it Thanksgiving Day 2008.

For 2011?  Nouri and other political leaders told the US that Parliament would not vote for a continued US presence so -- and McGurk testified to this just last week -- US government gave up.

As portrayed by Ricks, Dodge also doesn't grasp the argument Senator John McCain has presented.

This is more crap from Thomas E. Ricks -- the blogger who makes Thomas Friedman come off timely and relevant.

From the gas bags to the journalists, if you're ever trying  to figure out just how worthless NPR can be, they demonstrated it today as Mark Memmott made clear he wants to be the new Hedda Hopper.

As he makes clear here, he never learned about reporting.  He spent his time instead on the phone gossiping.

At least 21 people died in a bombing today.  We noted it, we noted the death toll.

We didn't note that they were suicide bombers or suicide bombers in training.

But Memmott does.  He 'backs it up' by linking to AP, for example.

AP had no one present at the bombing.

It's hearsay.

It's already been established -- thought not for Memmott or any of the US press because they're so stupid and so they're deceitful -- but it's already been established that the 'terrorists' killed in an assorted aireal bombings carried out by the Iraq military were often not terrorists.

In the Arabic world, they've been more than fine with doing journalism.  Visiting the areas, speaking to the people involved, documenting it with video.

Journalism is not presenting as fact one side's claims.  Those of us old enough to remember Vietnam, are fully aware that the government -- the US government -- repeatedly lied about who got killed and the numbers killed.  It's no different than The Drone War today and all the lies US President Barack Obama and others in the administration tell about 'terrorists' -- who apparently stopped to attend a wedding, for example.

What may be known is that 20 or 21 or 22 people died in a bombing.  Who those people were?

That's the slutty US press which can never stop whoring.  Women in Baghdad die, they're "prostitutes."  That's the sort of the US press does (AFP has picked it up as well).  Dead women who can't defend themselves are labeled prostitutes and the US press treats it as gospel.

There have always been prostitutes in Iraq -- male and female.  And many outlets know it.  Certainly the Go-Go Boys of the Green Zone were frequenting Baghdad prostitutes in 2003 and 2004.

But they couldn't report on the prostitution.  One denied it.

Off Our Backs was the only US publication to treat the prostitution in Baghdad issue seriously.

NPR didn't take it seriously.  But then they rarely take issues that impact women seriously.

The disgusting Mark Memmott finds it 'cute' that people died.  He'd insist he finds it cute that 'terrorists' died.  But he can prove they were terrorists.  The only source for that is the Iraqi government.  The same government that labels peaceful protesters as "terrorists."

Memmott's never felt the need to report that either -- even though Nouri's been labeling protesters as "terrorists" since 2011.

In Iraq, a lot of people get labeled as 'terrorists.'  An Iraqi female journalist, for example, was falsely labeled as one.  And the police knew it was false.  They tortured her anyway.  Because they didn't like her articles, they didn't like her reporting on the government's short comings.

Mark Memmott has a case of the giggles today and amuses himself with Iraq.

I guess he couldn't laugh last week when Human Rights Watch's released their report entitled (PDF format warning) "'NO ONE IS SAFE: Abuses of Women in Iraq's Criminal Justice System"?

That must be the explanation for his failure to write about that.  No one at NPR wrote about it for the website.  None of NPR's national programs covered it.

But let Little Marky have the opportunity to giggle over the-gang-who-couldn't-shoot-straight 'terrorists' and he's ready to run with it.  (Strangely, when Nouri's air forces bombed and killed a group of men at the end of last week -- a group of men who turned out to be Iraqi soldiers --  Mark Memmott had no interest in writing about that.)

Mark Memmott takes the Iraqi government on their word despite the fact that journalists are supposed to question and to present claims they can't verify as claims.

I don't trust Nouri's government because, unlike Mark Memmott, I pay attention.  This is from HRW's report released last week:

The report finds that security forces carry out illegal arrests and other due process violations against women at every stage of the justice system, including threats and beatings. Israa Salah (not her real name), for example, entered her interview with Human Rights Watch in Iraq’s death row facility in Baghdad’s Kadhimiyya neighborhood on crutches. She said nine days of beatings, electric shocks with an instrument known as “the donkey,” and falaqa (when the victim is hung upside down and beaten on their feet) in March 2012 had left her permanently disabled. A split nose, back scars, and burns on her breast were consistent with her alleged abuse. Israa was executed in September 2013, seven months after we met her, despite lower court rulings that dismissed charges against her because a medical report documented she was tortured into confessing to a crime. 

Do you get what happened there?  Mark Memmott can't because he's so stupid.

But most of us can read that paragraph above and note that Israa Salah was not only tortured by Nouri's forces, she was also put to death "despite lower court rulings that dismissed charges against her."

That should outrage most people.

She was executed even after a court had determined she had been tortured to give a false confession.

She was executed even after a court dismissed all charges against her.

Most people can grasp that the woman shouldn't have been executed but instead should have been immediately released.

Mark doesn't want to tell that story because it doesn't let him giggle or suck up to Nouri al-Maliki and others in power.

It's an uncomfortable story, not a chuckle.

And more and more -- especially with their ludicrous on air 'recipe' segments -- NPR can't offer anything but breezy nonsense.

Morning Edition did not report on Human Rights Watch's investigation.  Terry Gross did not invite HRW onto Fresh Air to discuss the findings.  All Things Considered?  Nothing was considered when it came to the Human Rights Watch report because All Things Considered ignored it as well.  Diane Rehm had a whole hour Friday to fill, her so-called 'international hour' -- and yet she served up nonsense and crap and didn't even touch on Iraq.  Why do you have radio programs, public radio, when you refuse to cover investigations and human rights abuses.

Let's go to the report again:

For example, Fatima Hussein (not her real name), a journalist accused of involvement in the murder of a parliamentarian’s brother and of being married to an Al-Qaeda member, described physical and sexual torture in early 2012 at the hands of one particular interrogator in Tikrit, Colonel Ghazi. She described Ghazi tying her blindfolded to a column and electrocuting her with an electric baton, hitting her feet and back with cable, kicking her, pulling her hair, tying her naked to a column and extinguishing cigarettes on her body, and later handcuffing her to a bed, forcing her to give him oral sex, and raping her three times. “There was blood all over me. He would relax, have a cigarette, and put it out on my buttock, and then started again,” she said. 
Women who spoke with Human Rights Watch, who all explicitly denied involvement in alleged crimes, also described being pushed towards confessions by interrogators threatening to hurt loved ones. Fatima described Ghazi passing her the phone, with her daughter at the end of the line, before threatening: "I'll do to your daughter what I did to you." 

Again, the Human Rights Watch's report is entitled (PDF format warning) "'NO ONE IS SAFE: Abuses of Women in Iraq's Criminal Justice System."  Ramzy Baroud (Arab News) notes the report:

“No One is Safe” presented some of the most harrowing evidence of the abuse of women by Iraq’s criminal “justice system.” The phenomenon of kidnapping, torturing, raping and executing women is so widespread that it seems shocking even by the standards of the country’s poor human rights record of the past. If such a reality were to exist in a different political context, the global outrage would have been so profound. Some in the “liberal” western media, supposedly compelled by women’s rights would have called for some measure of humanitarian intervention, war even. But in the case of today’s Iraq, the HRW report is likely to receive bits of coverage where the issue is significantly deluded, and eventually forgotten.
In fact, the discussion of the abuse of thousands of women -- let alone tens of thousands of men -- has already been discussed in a political vacuum. A buzzword that seems to emerge since the publication of the report is that the abuse confirms the “weaknesses” of the Iraqi judicial system. The challenge then becomes the matter of strengthening a weak system, perhaps through channeling more money, constructing larger facilities and providing better monitoring and training, likely carried out by US-led training of staff.
Mostly absent are the voices of women’s groups, intellectuals and feminists who seem to be constantly distressed by the traditional marriage practices in Yemen, for example, or the covering up of women’s faces in Afghanistan. There is little, if any, uproar and outrage, when brown women suffer at the hands of western men and women, or their cronies, as is the situation in Iraq.

Is that fair?  Are feminists ignoring the report?

Feminism is global.  I can't speak for what all of the world is doing.  But for Third, we did "Editorial: War Crimes against women and the outlets that ignore them" and it notes the US coverage - or lack of it -- including:

Ms. magazine's blog never noted the report.
While Women's Media Center has a campaign which insists "Don't Let Women's Voices Be Silenced in 2014," they have thus far let Iraqi women be silenced by refusing to write an article or even a Tweet about the HRW report (and they've 28 Tweets since the report was released).
B-b-but the report just came out!
Last Thursday.  And Women's e-News has managed to cover it. Sarah Sheffer covered it for The NewsHour (PBS).
By contrast, NPR refused to cover it -- on air or at the website.
They did 'tax' themselves by re-running an AP report.
Women are tortured and raped, disappeared into prisons, their children threatened and this isn't news to Women's Media Center?
WMC makes time on their awful Twitter feed to whore for the daughter of celebrities  but they can't do a damn thing for Iraqi women?

So, yeah, in the US, there is a need to call out.

Trina was on the phone earlier and she's addressing this at her site tonight because of something she saw online -- something covered by a feminist outlet that wasn't really news but the feminist outlet still can't cover the Human Rights Watch report.

The silence in the US -- whether from the feminist press or the mainstream press -- is shameful.

Today the European Union's Foreign Affairs Council issued a statement which includes:

The EU considers that internal political divisions and sectarian tensions have significantly contributed to the deterioration of the security situation inside Iraq, to which a security response alone cannot be sufficient. The EU renews its call on all of Iraq's political and religious leaders to engage in dialogue and to speak out against sectarianism and violence. It encourages the Government of Iraq to reinforce the rule of law and take decisive  measures to promote inclusiveness and advance reconciliation, as Iraq's long term security and stability depend on an inclusive political process. 

The EU is closely following the developments in Anbar province, including in the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, and encourages the Government of Iraq to strengthen cooperation between its security forces and local Anbar tribes. The EU is deeply concerned by the large numbers of Internally Displaced Persons fleeing the conflict zones and emphasises the importance of protecting civilians. The EU also encourages efforts by the Government of Iraq to ensure the provision of essential services as well as access by humanitarian agencies to areas affected by the fighting.

Let's move to violence and then we'll come back to the elections.

In today's big news, know it's not the gossip, it's that the Speaker of Parliament survived an assassination attempt.   Reuters notes, "The speaker of Iraq's parliament narrowly escaped death on Monday when a roadside bomb exploded near his convoy close to the northern city of Mosul, his office said."  Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) offers, "In the northern province of Nineveh, a roadside bomb went off near the convoy of Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi and Governor Atheel al- Nujaifi, also brother of Osama, south of the provincial capital of Mosul, a local police source told Xinhua."  NINA notes the bombing left six security guards injured,  AFP adds, "Mosul and the surrounding Nineveh province, where Nujaifi’s brother Atheel is governor, is one of Iraq’s most violent areas, with attacks regularly targeting security forces, government officials and civilians."

The US State Dept issued the following statement today:

Press Statement
Marie Harf
Washington, DC
February 10, 2014

The United States strongly condemns today’s attack on the convoy of the Speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, Osama al-Nujaifi, in Ninewa province. Speaker Nujaifi has been a strong partner of the United States’ efforts in Iraq and we are grateful that he was unharmed in the attack.
Today’s attack exemplifies the danger terrorist groups pose to all Iraqis, and the importance of Iraqi leaders from all communities working together to isolate militant groups from the broader population. The United States stands with the Iraqi people and will continue to work closely with Iraqi political and security leaders to combat those who commit such senseless acts.

Osama al-Nujaifi is a Sunni, a group persecuted and targeted by Nouri.  In doing so, Nouri has allowed Shi'ite militias to operate in Iraq -- this after militias were supposedly outlawed.  But more than just allowing them to operate, Nour  is supporting Shi'ite militias.  In September, Tim Arango (New York Times) broke the story:

In supporting Asaib al-Haq, Mr. Maliki has apparently made the risky calculation that by backing some Shiite militias, even in secret, he can maintain control over the country’s restive Shiite population and, ultimately, retain power after the next national elections, which are scheduled for next year. Militiamen and residents of Shiite areas say members of Asaib al-Haq are given government badges and weapons and allowed freedom of movement by the security forces.

Loveday Morris (Washington Post) picked up the topic on Sunday and reported:

Members of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, an Iranian-backed Shiite group responsible for thousands of attacks on U.S. forces during the Iraq war, admit they have ramped up targeted killings in response to a cascade of bomb attacks on their neighborhoods.
“We’ve had to be much more active,” said an Asaib Ahl al-Haq commander who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Sajad. “Those who are trying to incite sectarianism, we have to deal with them,” he said, drawing his hand over his throat like a knife.

Again, it's Loveday Morris and the Washington Post -- not AP as some outlets have wrongly credited the article.  Although the credit on this reposting of Loveday Morris' article may seem the most incorrect and brazen.

 Over the weekend, NINA reported:

The Arab Political Council in Kirkuk expressed on Saturday 8 Feb. its surprise at the unjustified silence of the parliamentary political blocks, parties and organizations towards the humanitarian tragedy in Anbar province, and especially the city of Fallujah.
Chairman of the Council , Sheikh Abdul Rahman Munshed al- Assi told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / : "We are very concerned for the effects and consequences of the current crisis, humanly and politically, a matter that requires everyone to stand and think to find an urgent solution to stop the bloodshed now ongoing in al-Anbar.

Sunday, NINA reported that Sheikh Ali Hatem al-Suleiman -- a Sahwa leader -- declared that "the solution of the crisis in Anbar lies in a neutral third party and implementing the legitimate demands of the protesters." and that "the government should prove its good faith by stopping the shelling of cities and sending food and medical supplies as well as oil , in addition to the full response to the legitimate demands of the protesters." Motahedoon coalition MP Salman al-Jumaili stated Sunday that solutions were being ignored as the government continued to attempt a "military solution"  and that  "any initiative to resolve the crisis in Anbar cannot succeed if it does not include stop shelling and air strikes on Fallujah and other neighborhoods first, and the return of displaced people , as well as keeping the army out of the areas of contact with citizens and then re local authorities to enforce security."  NINA also reported on Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq:

Al-Mutlaq said in a meeting with ambassadors of EU countries in the Greek Embassy in Baghdad on the occasion of handing over Greece EU presidency , that the military operations in Anbar province, left behind thousands of displaced families facing harsh conditions due to the extreme cold and lack of food and medical supplies , not to mention the other families still besieged and exposed to bombardment , threats and very difficult humanitarian situations.
Al-Mutlaq discussed , according to a statement by his press office , with a number of ambassadors from the European Union, visions to resolve the crisis of Anbar and restore security and stability to its cities, and be quick in taking positions that would lead to compensate the displaced families and ease their coming back and repair the physical damage to their properties.

Not everyone speaks out against violence.  Press TV speaks with history professor Ali al-Nashmi about the assault:

Press TV: Do you think the government will win in this battle against such forces?

al-Nashmi: No... I think the government... I don’t know, I think there is every opportunity for the Iraqi government they can win very easily when they attack Fallujah because Fallujah is a city, they are just some houses - then they can attack the extremists there using tanks or airplane or by jets.
I am surprised. They lost that opportunity because most of extremists they have escaped from al-Fallujah to other places like Baghdad and in other places they are increasing the violence.

I think if the Iraqi forces and the Iraqi government attacked the places they would achieve many things: they would achieve a military win because they would destroy those people – and they have killed many extremists; and it would be a political win because it would mean in any place in Iraq it would not be safe for al-Qaeda or al-Dasht.

NBC journalist Richard Engel  notes al-Nashmi  in his book A Fist in the Hornet's Nest: On the Ground In Baghdad Before, During and After the War, al-Nashmi was a history professor when the US invaded Iraq.  Engel reports meeting al-Nashmi in a building being remodeled:

A highly ambitious man, he gave me a tour of the new office space -- stepping over a workman scraping droplets of paint off the stone floor -- explaining the layout of the future headquarters of his new political part (the Union of Independent Intellecutals), socialist newspaper (The Dawn of Baghdad), magazine for children (as yet unnamed) and, he hoped, local television station. 
[. . .] al-Nashmi was bursting with pent-up political desires.  Twenty years earlier, al-Nashmi had been arrested and tortured by Saddam's regime for starting a movie club in his home, where about a dozen of his friends would gather in secret every week to watch and discuss foreign films.  Al-Nashmi was first accused of founding an illegal communist cell and later of being an Islamic militant, a charge that seemed especially ill-suited, considering his secular views, Western dress and polished English.

All the assault has done is add to the already intense violence.  Today?   National Iraqi News Agency reports a Kirkuk car bombing claimed 1 life, a Kirkuk sticky bombing claimed 1 life, a central Baghdad bombing (Bab aal-Muadham area) left a colonel injured, an attack on Judge Saadoun al-Hesniyani's residence left 2 security guards injured, a Falluja bombing left 3 people dead and six injured, an Aliyadhiyah roadside bombing left two Iraqi soldiers injured, a Musayyib sticky bombing claimed 1 life and left three injured, a southwest Baghdad roadside bombing (Baya area) left five people injured, a Shirqat roadside bombing left two Iraqi soldiers injured, a Hit roadside bombing left 1 police member dead and three more injured, an al-Shi'lar sticky bombing left three people injured, a suicide bombing near al-Sidikiyah bridge (near Ramadi) left 2 Iraqi soldiers and 2 police members dead with seven more injured, Falluja General Hospital was again shelled (by Iraqi military) and 1 person was killed with fourteen more left injured ("including a doctor and three nurses"),  a Nasiriyah roadside bombing left four people injured, a Baghdad home invasion left five people injured, a Samarra car bombing killed 21 people, a Mosul car bombing left eleven people injured (relatives of Nineveh Police Chief Khalid al-Hamdani), a central Baghdad sticky bombing left six people injured, a Baghdad attack (al-Obeidi area) left 1 person dead and another injured,  a Sadr City bombing left one person injured, a Mahmudiya bombing left 1 person dead and two more injured, and 1 corpse (bullet wounds) was found dumped in Abu Ghraib.

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 269 violent deaths.  Now let's move over to the issue of elections.  April 30th, parliamentary elections are supposed to be held in Iraq.  World Bulletin reports:

Iraq's Independent High Election Commission asserted on Sunday that parliamentary elections will be held on schedule countrywide, including in the western volatile Anbar province.
"The elections will not be postponed anywhere in Iraq, including in Anbar," spokesman Safaa al-Musawi told Anadolu Agency.
"The commission has finalized preparations for the elections everywhere in Iraq, including in Anbar," he added.

Last week, the Justice and Accountability Commission excluded 69 candidates from the expected April 30th parliamentary elections.   In 2010, the Justice and Accountability reared its ugly head surprising many -- including Saleh al-Mutlaq. Well the Justice and Accountability Commission is back.

February 2, All Iraq News reported Nouri al-Maliki has nominated Basim al-Badri to head the Justice and Accountability Commission.  al-Badri is both Nouri's freind and a member of Nouri's Dawa political party. In 2010, the commission eliminated many candidates ahead of the parliamentary elections.  They eliminated Saleh al-Mutlaq, for example -- the current Deputy Prime Minister.  A few token Shi'ites were eliminated from running -- most of which were steadfast and vocal opponents of Nouri.  However, the bulk of the disqualified were Sunni politicians.  In all, they eliminated 511 candidates from running.

Now the commission is back and Iraq Times reported Friday that they had banned 69 of the 379 candidates they had so far checked.   Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reported that many politicians are nervous such as Saleh al-Mutlaq.

Back to Sabah who reports that the UNHCR has pointed out that, thus far, the JAC has not checked the names of prominent candidates.  (That would most likely mean Saleh al-Mutlaq's name has not yet been checked which would explain why he's worried.)   Sabah reveals they will be checking the names of 10,293 candidates in all.   He notes many observers fear the JAC is being used again as a net to remove the political rivals of Nouri.

Looking at an early list -- small list of under 300 -- initially sent to JAC, you've got a list where the only thing that really stands out is the oldest candidate on that subset was born in 1940 and the youngest in 1982.  And then if you apply a little logic, why is anyone born in 1982 someone requiring a 'Ba'athist' check.  They were 20 years old in 2002.  If their birthday was in April or later, how close could they be connected to Saddam Hussein?

Today,  National Iraqi News Agency notes they excluded 6 more candidates today.

Zooming in on one person running in the elections, Rudaw notes:

Berivan Navkhosh, the assistant head of the Akre health department in Duhok, is one of only two women hopefuls running in Iraq’s upcoming parliamentary elections. 
 Running on an independent slate, Navkhosh says, “It is to show the public that there are independent individuals running for the parliament and to show that political parties are not the only ones who nominate candidates.” 
Navkhosh was once a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the largest party in the Kurdistan Region, but says she has quit her membership in order to maintain her independence. 
"I used to be a member of KDP, but it has been a while since I resigned from the party," she says. "My family is KDP, but people who know me know that I am no longer a member of the KDP."

Changing topics, community member Marci e-mailed to inform I'd forgotten to note the new content at The Third Estate Sunday Review in of the other entries.  She is correct.  To make up for my oversight, we'll close by noting that content:

Thank you, Marci, for catching that.