Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, March 4, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's assault on Anbar continues, his State of Law prepares to boycott Parliament on Thursday, is Nouri waiting to serve warrants on his political rivals,  and so much more.

Alsumaria reports that Parliament's Foreign Relations Committee announced that a private plane was charted to bring Iraqi college students studying in the Ukraine back to Iraq.

Ukraine?  We've been noting events outside of the snapshots for the most part.  We're bringing it into the snapshot today.

We're going to start with who Glenn Greenwald got into bed with this time, a billionaire who bought Glenn's ass and mouth.   When he broke the Ed Snowden story, we gave him credit for that.  And it would have been great to offer praise over and over.  But he's Glenn Greenwald and his circle jerk has always been pretty nasty.  Now it's apparently involved in attempting to overthrow governments.

Chris Floyd (CounterPunch) reports, "The Western intervention in Ukraine has now led the region to the brink of war. Political opposition to government of President Viktor Yanukovych — a corrupt and thuggish regime, but as with so many corrupt and thuggish regimes one sees these days, a democratically elected one — was funded in substantial part by organizations of or affiliated with the U.S. government, such as the National Endowment for Democracy (a longtime vehicle for Washington-friendly coups), and USAID. It also received substantial financial backing from Western oligarchs, such as billionaire Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay and sole bankroller of the new venue for “adversarial” journalism, First Look, as Pandodaily reports."  Marcy Wheeler of Empty Wheel fame and now part of  Omidyar's First Look was speculating on who in the US might have been involved in the attempt to destabilize the Ukraine and Mark Ames (PandoDaily) pursued that angle:

Wheeler is partly correct. Pando has confirmed that the American government – in the form of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) – played a major role in funding opposition groups prior to the revolution. Moreover, a large percentage of the rest of the funding to those same groups came from a US billionaire who has previously worked closely with US government agencies to further his own business interests. This was by no means a US-backed “coup,” but clear evidence shows that US investment was a force multiplier for many of the groups involved in overthrowing Yanukovych.
But that’s not the shocking part.
What’s shocking is the name of the billionaire who co-invested with the US government (or as Wheeler put it: the “dark deep force” acting on behalf of “Pax Americana”).
Step out of the shadows…. Wheeler’s boss, Pierre Omidyar.

Yes, in the annals of independent media, this might be the strangest twist ever: According to financial disclosures and reports seen by Pando, the founder and publisher of Glenn Greenwald’s government-bashing blog,“The Intercept,” co-invested with the US government to help fund regime change in Ukraine.

What's going on in the Ukraine?  Left Voices explores that with  attorney, human rights expert and international law professor Francis A. Boyle.  (Click here for  SoundCloud.)


Andrea Sears: This is Left Voices for Monday, March 3, 2014.  I'm Andrea Sears.  Tonight [. . .] is the crisis in the Ukraine a popular uprising or an orchestrated coup d'etat?  Russian forces have virtually occupied the Crimean peninsula without firing a shot and pro-Russian demonstrators have taken over the regional government building in the city of Donetsk in the eastern Ukraine.  Secretary of State John Kerry is threatening to cast Russia out of the G8 and the newly installed government of Kiev is calling on NATO for assistance.  From the protests in Kiev to the ouster of former Prime Minister Yanukovych to the military stand-off, the press is buzzing with depictions of corruption overthrown, massing troops and reported threats.  In the US, Russia is being condemned on all sides.  Without acknowledging any irony, [US Secretary of State] John Kerry, who voted for the invasion of Iraq, accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of "invading another country on a completely trumped-up pretext," calling it an incredible act of aggression.  Meanwhile, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has called the Obama administration weak and indecisive and urged the President to do more than deliver empty threats to thugs and dictators.  And Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is calling Russia an enemy of the United States.  At the height of the civil unrest in Kiev there were scattered reports that far right elements were playing a major role in the protests but there's been little follow up.  Francis Boyles is a professor of law at the University of Illinois College of Law and author of several books including Foundations of World Order.  Boyles says an audio tape that has appeared on YouTube -- allegedly a recording of a conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt, the US Ambassador to the Ukraine tells part of the story that's been missing. 

Francis A. Boyle: It's clear what happened was that the United States government orchestrated a neo-Nazi coup d'etat in Kiev.  And the people in power there now are fascists, neo-nazis, anti-Semites.  You have at least four people from Svoboda in the government including one in charge of the security policies and another from right sector that's basically neo-Nazi skinheads.  So we launched a coup d'etat, put these people in power in Kiev and now it appears that Secretary of State Kerry is going over there to consolidate them in power and demonstrate the support of the US.  UK Foreign Minister [William]  Hague was just there.  It looks like we've mobilized NATO to their defense at least in terms of statements -- so far not troops, but we'll have to see what happens, how those further developments -- I don't know.  But one could certainly understand why Russia is concerned about us putting neo-Nazis in power in Ukraine and overthrowing a democratically elected government which we did do.

Andrea Sears:  How much of this is the power play over the tension between Russia and the European Union and the United States over the eastern expansion of NATO into former Soviet states.  Has this been a major part of the conflict?

Francis A. Boyle:  Yes, of course, that's what this is really all about.  As you know, Soviet President Gorbachev agreed with President Bush Sr. that, if he went along with the reunification of Germany that NATO borders would not move to the east.  Unfortunately, he was so naive as to note get that written in a treaty and only accepted oral assurances.  So the moment Clinton came to power, NATO was moved to the east right up to the borders of Russia and there two prizes left were Georgia and Ukraine.  In fact, Ukraine under the previous administration before Yanukovych signed a partnership for peace agreement with NATO and NATO membership was -- is the next step.  The European Union, this so-called association agreement, had security provisions in there which would have required cooperation with NATO.  And I regret to say today the European Union pretty much functions as a stalking horse and catch-all for NATO.  So this is all about extending NATO into Ukraine itself.

Fatimah (Carbonated TV) observes this is taking place on the anniversary of the start of the illegal war on Iraq (March, 2003):

 It is therefore rather ironic that the US, which led the attack in Iraq, is warning Russia that it is considering economic and diplomatic options that will isolate Russia for “being on the wrong side of history.”
Around 112,017 - 122,438 civilian deaths were recorded by Iraq Body Count (IBC) between 20 March 2003 and 14 March 2013 during the Iraq War. Although the conflict came to an end in 2011, the number of deaths is constantly increasing due to the ongoing insurgency the invasion wrought.
What’s worse, the grave mistake was never acknowledged by the then or current governments of the Western countries involved in the false cause.
So, is it not an act of sheer hypocrisy when such unapologetic invaders accuse another country of “violating international law” for committing the same mistake after a decade?
When Russia decided to attack Ukraine on Saturday, President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. would consider the aforementioned action against Russia.
Secretary of State John Kerry also condemned Russia’s “act of aggression over phony pretexts” in Ukraine.

The irony and hypocrisy of both of these statements is just unmistakable, especially when the White House – despite several appeals from the United Nations – has failed to halt its illegal drone program in Afghanistan, Yemen and several parts of Pakistan.

Singer-songwriter and musician Liz Phair (Exile in Guyville being her major classic) Tweeted:

  • "We can't allow a nation (USSR) to enter another country just because they don't like the way a situation turns out" um, Iraq? Afghanistan?

  • Chris Marsden (WSWS) offers:

    Kerry and Obama have spent the past days consolidating a strategic alliance of imperialist and regional powers against Moscow—insisting above all that the European powers, led by Germany, take a hard line on Ukraine and on economic sanctions. In addition, Washington has repeatedly met with the leaders of Georgia and Moldova, encouraging both to make a high profile stand against Russia to encourage others to do the same.
    On February 26, Kerry spoke to the US-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission, announcing additional US assistance “to help support Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic vision,” while denouncing Russia’s continued military presence in the breakaway Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

    Dave Lindorff (CounterPunch) weighs in noting:

    Of course there’s also the matter of the US role — overt and covert — in helping to fund and organize the mobs who ousted the elected government of Ukraine. That too was a violation of international law. For years now, the US has, through its National Endowment for Democracy, US AID, and other government and quasi-government bodies, been funneling money to anti-government groups in Ukraine (as it did also in Egypt and Russia itself, and as it is doing now in Venezuela and other countries whose leaders it opposes). The leaked tape of the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland and the US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt discussing how to staff the new government of Ukraine after the anticipated collapse of the elected government shows how deeply the US was involved in the undermining of the government of Ukraine. Again, this interference in another country’s political system is a horrendous violation of international law.

    Nouri al-Maliki's assault on Anbar continues.  NINA notes Nouri's military bombed Ramadi today leaving 10 family members dead. While in Falluja?  Nouri's bombing of a residential neighborhood left 2 women dead and two children injured.  Felicity Arbuthnot (CounterPunch) reports on one day of Nouri's attacks on civilians in Falluja:

    On Thursday 30th January a source with contacts in Fallujah gave the names behind the statistics of just a few of the injured arriving at Fallujah General Hospital:
    Iman Mohammed Abdul Razzaq – 40 years old (female)
    Isaac Saleh Mohammed – 4 years (Male)
    Abeer Mohammed Saleh – 18 years old (female)
    Shorooq Borhan Ali – 7 years (female)
    Ashoaq Mohammed Jassim – 25 years old (female)
    Sarah Mohammed Odeh – 13 years old (female)
    Fatima Mohammed Odeh – 15 years old (female)
    Saleh Mohammed Abdul Razzaq – 45 years old (male)
    The hospital has been repeatedly shelled, the latest attack on the night of 9th - 10th  February. Al-Maliki’s militia have been filmed dragging the body of a young man behind a car and setting bodies alight.

    Nobel Peace Laureate Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron’s regimes are as culpable for their continuing support and facilitating of al-Maliki’s crimes against humanity as were Bush and Blair in the lies that delivered Iraq’s ongoing death and destruction.

    Proving that stupid reporters are all over north America and not just in the US, Philippe Labrecque offers a pool of stupidity at The Huffington Post Canada which opens:

    The oppressive treatment reserved to the Sunni minority by the Shia majority government under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has opened the door to al-Qaeda's ex- affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), to gain influence and entrench itself to the point that the black flag of al Qaeda has been raised over Fallujah, a city for which the U.S. Marines fought hard and shed much blood in 2004.

    Poor Philippe, scared of his own shadwo, convinced al Qaeda's overrunning Iraq and thug Nouri is fighting a righteous battle.  Worship of government lies is a dangerous religious mind-set all its own.

    Poor stupid Philippe.  Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's  Marina Ottaway (Foreign Policy) has a better grasp on the issues:

     Of the 18 provinces in Iraq, 12 are in open conflict with Baghdad, including the three Kurdish ones. All are -- or hope to be soon -- oil or gas producers. With 93 percent of Iraq's revenue derived from hydrocarbon sales, the country could pay a high price if relations deteriorate further.
    Fraught relations between Baghdad and its provinces is, at least in part, a result of the U.S. occupation -- and of Washington's inability to decide whether to support a decentralized federal state or try to rebuild a strong center so that Iraq would not disintegrate. U.S. advisers favored the impossible: federalism, decentralization, Kurdish autonomy, but also a strong central government. Instead, the Kurds in 2005 forced through a constitution that gave their region considerable autonomy and severely restricted Baghdad's authority. The Kurds were elated, but American fears of a break-up of the country increased. As a result, the United States welcomed Maliki's growing assertiveness, backed him again after the 2010 elections, and ignored his growing authoritarianism. Iraqi provincial officials, on the other hand, grew resentful of Baghdad's heavy-handedness and increasingly envious of Kurdish autonomy.

    If you're not getting how right she is and how wrong Philippe is, NINA reports:

    The Rapporteur of the House of Representatives, Mohammed al-Khalidi said: "The presidency of the parliament has received a formal letter from the Basra Governorate Council, calling to transfer of the governorate to province."
    He told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / "The Council has received a letter addressed to the council and the Council of Ministers and signed by a number of members of the provincial council in Basra, demanding to transfer Basra to a province ."

    Alsumaria notes that Ayad Allawi's coalition issued a statement today declaring that the indiscriminate shelling on the people of Anbar needed to cease immediately and that the government needed to enter into negotiations with the peaceful protesters.

    Ayad Allawi headed the coalition that beat Nouri al-Maliki in the 2010 elections.  Allawi should be prime minister.  But the White House disrespected the Iraqi voters and democracy and schemed to subvert the will of the people in order for thug Nouri to get a second term as prime minister.

    The demands of the protesters.

    The protests are going on right now.  They started December 21st 2012.

    In February, the last time the non-Iraqi press paid serious attention to the protests,  the press whored for Nouri and pretended he was responding to the demands.  He got his headlines, AFP, AP and everyone else refused to cover the protests and Nouri never met one damn demand of the protesters.

    Layla Anwar (An Arab Woman Blues) has summed up the primary issues of the protesters as follows:

    - End of Sectarian Shia rule
    - the re-writing of the Iraqi constitution (drafted by the Americans and Iranians)
    - the end to arbitrary killings and detention, rape and torture of all detainees on basis of sect alone and their release
    - the end of discriminatory policies in employment, education, etc based on sect
    - the provision of government services to all
    - the end of corruption
    - no division between Shias and Sunnis, a one Islam for all Iraqi Muslims and a one Iraq for all Iraqis.

    Nouri lied and pretended he would meet the demands of the protesters.  He lies so very often.   NINA reports:

    al-Anbar Provincial Council accused on Sunday 2 March the military forces of not being serious in resolving the current crisis and end the military operations in the province.
    Vice Chairman of the Council Faleh al-Issawi said in a statement to the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / that the army is not serious in ending the crisis and resolving the situation and ending the military operations in spite of the initiatives launched by the provincial council and the elders and notables.
    Al-Issawi said that there are many initiatives launched by the local government of the council and the governor and tribal leaders and elders of Anbar, which included the withdrawal of military units and end the armed manifestations in addition to stop the random shelling , but the government does not listen to the initiatives and it is not serious in ending the crisis of the province.

    If you're late to the realities the Council is speaking of, from Saturday's "Nouri's cease-fire (just another lie):"

    A cease-fire?
    This a simplistic term.
    So if Nouri's saying he's extending  a cease-fire for Falluja the meaning does not require extreme analysis to comprehend its meaning.  Cease fire.
    Fighting stops.
    But Nouri is the biggest liar on the world stage and would still hold the title even if Kim Jong Il were still alive.
    If 6 'terrorists' were shot dead today in Falluja, for example, there is no cease-fire.
    If the military's shelling of western Falluja (Nassaf Village) today left three civilians injured, there is no cease-fire.
    If another Falluja shelling leaves 1 child dead and nine people injured, there's no cease-fire.
    So Thursday's hoseannas repeated by Sabah Karhot, Chair of the Anbar Provincial Council, to All Iraq News that Nouri's extended a 'cease-fire,' "'The duration granted by the Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki to suspend the military operations in Fallujah city, was extended for a week''?
    It's garbage.

    Nouri al-Maliki's word is always garbage.

    Parliament wants to address the ongoing assault on Anbar in a Thursday session.  Groups are announcing they will be present.  Iraqiya says they will be attending.  The Kurdish Alliance says they will be attending. Yesterday, Al Mada reported on the refusal by Nouri's State of Law to attend and quoted them insisting that such a hearing would be nothing but insults.  And today?  NINA reports:

    MP, of the State of Law Coalition, Sadiq al-Labban said that his coalition is boycotting the meetings of the Council of Representatives, and will not attend the meeting of the Council to discuss Anbar crisis, on Thursday . "
    He told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA /: "The issue of the Anbar is a military issue , not a political , therefore it cannot be discussed in the House of Representatives , on the grounds that the armed forces are fighting the terrorists of ISIS , backed by Anbar tribes ."

    Not only is there no military solution, Nouri's assault on ANBAR has only revealed how weak he truly is as one city or town after another has been lost to him.

    Today, Democracy Now! and Amy Goodman finally and briefly found Falluja:

     AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to Iraq. A new report by Truthout has revealed doctors, residents and NGO workers in the city of Fallujah are accusing the Iraqi government of war crimes and crimes against humanity in its ongoing attack against the city. According to one account, at least 109 civilians have been killed and 632 wounded since January, when Iraqi government forces began shelling Fallujah in its fight against militants.
    For more on this, we’re joined by Dahr Jamail, staff reporter at Truthout. He’s joining us from Doha, Qatar.
    Dahr, tell us what you found.

    DAHR JAMAIL: By phoning in to several doctors in Fallujah—well, one of them, in fact, who is—had to flee because her home was being shelled, so she had to take her family and leave—but after speaking with all three of them, I found, you know, the really shocking numbers that you just discussed as far as the total numbers of dead and wounded. But in addition to that, they’re all claiming, from different parts of the city, that it’s really indiscriminate firing, that the military, the Iraqi military, that they all are referring to as Maliki—as in Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri al-Maliki’s military—that Maliki’s army has been shelling the city indiscriminately, that they aren’t—they aren’t seeing any official targets or anything military for them to target, that the main hospital, Fallujah General Hospital, has been shelled, that we have a situation where apparently several mosques have been shelled, and unknown numbers of civilian homes have also been shelled. And in addition to the numbers that you just spoke of, we—according to Dr. Ahmed Shami, the head of—the chief of resident doctors at Fallujah General Hospital, there’s been at least 10 children killed, 40 wounded, and in addition to that, five women killed and at least 35 wounded. And those statistics are now a few days out of date, and the shelling has continued since I wrote this report.

    Let's go back to the topic of violence and start with the attack everyone was covering.

    Yang Yi (Xinhua) reports, "Iraqi security forces freed many hostages held by suicide bombers who stormed the city council of Samarra city in Iraq's Salahudin province earlier on Tuesday, leaving five people killed and 48 wounded, a provincial police source said."  Ghazwan Hassan, Ahmed Rasheed, Ned Parker and Angus MacSwan  (Reuters) note the rebels held the council and court house "for four hours," that 4 police officers were killed as well as 3 civilians  -- shot by Nouri's forces who "opened fire to retake the site."  Mahmud Saleh (AFP) adds that "Two bombers dressed in police uniforms shot dead a policeman and took control of the council headquarters with employees inside, a police lieutenant colonel said."  Alsumaria counts 6 suicide bombers.

    That wasn't the only violence in Iraq.


    National Iraqi News Agency reports a Mosul suicide bomber and a car bombing attacked police headquarters leaving the suicide bomber dead and 1 member of the police dead with four more injured, a south Baghdad (Latifiya area) sticky bombing killed 1 person, a battle in Kraw Village left 1 Sahwa dead and another injured, an Eraibi roadside bombing left 2 police members dead and one person injured,  a Hit roadside bombing left 1 police member dead and three more injured, and an al-Muqdadiya sticky bombing left one person injured.


    National Iraqi News Agency reports  a battle in Kraw Village left 1 Sahwa dead and another injured,  1 police member was shot dead "and an intelligence officer injured" in Qayyarah (the intelligence officer has been identified as Captain Maher Jassim),  security forces announced they killed 5 suspects in Ramadi, 1 police member was shot dead in Imam Wayis,  the Interior Ministry announced 1 suspect was killed in Um Tasah, border guards shot dead 1 person attempting to enter Iraq from Syria, 2 people were shot dead "walking in al-Karabilah area" in Anbar, a battle in Ramadi left 4 rebels dead, and an armed battle in Alsjer left 2 Iraqi soldiers dead and four injured,  All Iraq News adds a battle in western Baghdad left 3 rebels dead.  Alsumaria notes security forces state they killed 9 suspects in Nineveh Province. and the Ministry of the Interior states they killed 3 suspects west of Baghdad.

    Iraq was briefly noted in today's US State Dept press briefing moderated by Jen Psaki:

    QUESTION: Okay. Tensions between the Kurdistan Regional Government and Baghdad have escalated over the past week, ever since the Baghdad government formally suspended the budget, the 2014 budget of the Kurdistan region.

    MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

    QUESTION: What’s your position on the suspension of the KRG’s budget?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, we urge Iraq’s Council of Ministers, the Iraqi parliament, and Iraq’s regional, sub-regional governments to address the outstanding issues that remain as quickly as possible so that the national budget can move forward to a vote. While this is essentially an internal Iraqi matter, U.S. officials are engaged as appropriate with senior Iraqi leaders to support efforts to resolve differences through direct dialogue and the political process, consistent with the Iraqi constitution. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk arrived in Iraq on Monday, and he will meet with officials in Baghdad and Erbil to address ongoing issues and urge all sides to reach a swift resolution.

    QUESTION: You don’t have anything specific about the suspension of the budget? Because Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan region, has called that a declaration of war against our people.

    MS. PSAKI: I think I just conveyed to you what our position is. Obviously, Deputy Assistant Secretary Brett McGurk is on the ground. We of course believe that these issues should be addressed as quickly as possible.

    The worthless State Dept ignores the human rights abuses but whores for oil.  We have little room here but Alsumaria is reporting that another arrest warrant has been issued against Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi -- this one calling him an enemy of the state.  We're bringing it up because it's thought that this is a series of warrants and that one not yet issued, but which may be issued, is for Moqtada al-Sadr, cleric and movement leader.

    I'm not accusing Moqtada al-Sadr of any crimes.  I don't believe Tareq is guilty of any.  But an Iraqi MP e-mailed about this story and the rumors in Parliament that Moqtada fled to Iran because he was tipped off that the Nouri had ordered the criminal court to prepare a warrant for him.

    Cleric and movement Moqtada al-Sadr announced his political retirement February 15th.  February 18th, he delivered a speech --  CounterPunch posted the speech in full  -- emphasizing his decision. February 26th,  NINA noted the rumors that Moqtada left Iraq today, "The sources noted in a press statement that Mr. Muqtada al-Sadr left today's afternoon the city of Najaf heading to the Islamic Republic of Iran in order to complete his religious studies and stay away from the political scene as he officially announced for all Iraqis."

    Again, I'm not accusing Moqtada of crimes.  I do accuse Nouri of using the courts to go after his political rivals.  And I'm noting this due to an e-mail from an Iraqi MP who believes that the warrant against Tareq (who's already been illegally convicted in Iraq and sentenced to the death penalty four or five times now) is part of a series of warrants Nouri has had the Iraqi courts prepare against his rivals.

    ahmed rasheed