Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, December 2, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Margaret Griffis' Antiwar.com Iraq death toll for November is released, Erbil and Baghdad strike a deal, the government of Lebanon kidnaps a woman and her child, and much more.

Well I'm learning
It's peaceful
With a good dog and some trees
Out of touch with the breakdown 
Of this century
They're not going to fix it up
Too easy
-- "Electricity," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her For The Roses

Big News Networks salivates, "In a significant development, the Lebanese army has arrested one of the wives of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr Al Bakr Al Baghdadi near the border with Syria when they tried to enter the country using fake identity."  The woman is named in some reports as Saja Al Dulaimi.  Some identify her as a Syrian, some as an Iraqi.  All say she was arrested with a child -- some say a boy, some say a girl.  Though only reported today, Gulf Daily News says the arrests took place "10 days ago."

In Iraq today, there are many problems.

One of the biggest is the sense of lawlessness.  For Sunnis, that means their relatives disappear in the so-called justice system.  Security forces show up to arrest Laith al-Mutlaq -- with or without an arrest warrant -- and Laith isn't home but his grandmother is or his wife or his brother or his child or some other relative.  So the security forces haul that person off.

Where did they get that was okay?

Because US military commanders spent the first years of the Iraq War acting like thugs by basically kidnapping women married to Iraqi militants they were seeking.

That was illegal and unethical.

And it set the new Iraqi government down this road.

Very few people objected in real time or since.

The woman who is one of the wives of al-Baghdidi?

If she's done something herself, she should be arrested.

There's no way in the world the child has done anything.

It's doubtful the woman's done anything illegal.

(And in the midst of Barack's amnesty plan, don't try to pull the nonsense of 'she was trying to enter Lebanon illegally!')

The child?  Boy or girl, a DNA test was performed.

I'm doubting seriously that the mother gave permission for that test.

That's another violation.

You can try to pretty it up all you want but these thug actions that should be called out.

If you're not getting it, listen to the boasting that the Oman Tribune reports on:

A Lebanese security source said the arrest was “a powerful card to apply pressure” in negotiations to secure the release of 27 members of the Lebanese security forces captured by militants in August near the Syrian border – a view shared by other Lebanese officials who confirmed the arrest. 

What's taking place is a kidnapping.

These are thug actions.

The US government needs to condemn these actions but it won't.

It will, however, go out of its way to attack the Islamic State for kidnapping women.

I don't care who the woman married, I don't care who she sleeps with.

Unless and until she's broken the law herself, she shouldn't be detained.

Anyone detaining her without just cause based on her actions is a thug who is practicing kidnapping.

This is not acceptable and it is not normal.

The AP attempts to normalize it with paragraphs like this one:

If their identities are confirmed, Lebanon may use the pair as bargaining chips to win the release of soldiers and police taken hostage by the terrorists in cross-border attacks earlier this year.

If tomorrow,  Sarah al-Assam kidnaps Michelle Obama because her husband was killed in one of Barack's Drone War attacks in Lebanon, you better believe the press will express outrage.

And they should.

By the same token whatever Saja Al Dulaimi's husband has done is his responsibility.

If she's done nothing and the government of Lebanon is kidnapping her and attempting to use her hostage status as a bargaining chip, that is illegal and it is unethical and it must be called out.

Refusal to do so?

We've already seen how this ends.

It became normal in Iraq because so very few of us had the guts to call it out.

You either call out what's being done to Saja Al Dulaimi.or you accept that it's now the normal.

Don't look to the US State Dept to stand up for human rights.  From today's State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Marie Harf.

QUESTION: Were you able to confirm if the Lebanese army really called the wife – one of the wives of the head of ISIL?

MS. HARF: I don’t think – let me see what I have on this. I know there have been a number of reports on this. Given this was an operation by the Government of Lebanon, I’d refer you to them for more information. I know there are a lot of conflicting reports about who they may have taken into custody, but they’ll have the most updated facts. I can’t confirm independently facts for you.

QUESTION: But if it’s true, what’s the importance of this development?

MS. HARF: Well, we’ll see if it’s true. Okay.

In Brussels today, the US Secretary of State John Kerry performed only slightly better than Maria Harf:

MS. PSAKI: The next question will be from Carol Morello of The Washington Post.

QUESTION: After all your discussions today with various representatives about the need for countries to pull their own weight, can you finally tell us whether you have secured any concrete commitments that the United States has long sought for all these countries to send enough troops to Afghanistan and soon, so the burden does not fall disproportionately on the United States again? And on a related matter, when you sit down tomorrow with the Iraqi foreign minister, is the United States prepared to offer any additional aid beyond what has already been announced?
And lastly, would the United States approve --

SECRETARY KERRY: When we sit down with whom?

QUESTION: With the foreign minister of Iraq. Mr. --

PARTICIPANT: Prime minister.

QUESTION: Excuse me, the prime minister of Iraq, Mr. Abadi. Would the United States approve if Lebanon decides to take the wife and son of al-Baghdadi and offer them as a prisoner swap for hostages held by ISIL?

SECRETARY KERRY: With respect to your last question, I’m just – I’m not – I don’t think we engage in that kind of negotiation, period. But I’m not up to speed. I don’t have the details of what the circumstances are, who’s holding who. I saw a news flash earlier on this. I don’t have all the input on it, so I’m not going to comment further with respect to that, except that we don’t negotiate, and I think people know that.

Meanwhile, who knew the State Dept's Brett McGurk was an Alanis Morissette fan?

An old man turned ninety-eight
He won the lottery and died the next day
It's a black fly in your Chardonnay
It's a death row pardon two minutes too late
And isn't it ironic... don't you think

It's like rain on your wedding day
It's a free ride when you've already paid
It's the good advice that you just didn't take
Who would've thought... it figures

Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly
He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids goodbye
He waited his whole damn life to take that flight
And as the plane crashed down he thought
"Well isn't this nice..."
And isn't it ironic... don't you think

-- "Ironic," written by Alanis Morissette and Glen Ballard, first appears on Alanis'  Jagged Little Pill.

Brett must be a huge fan of the song.  While else, on the day the government of Lebanon is in the news for kidnapping a woman and her child, would Brett Tweet the following:

About the oil deal, the following was posted to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's website today:

In today’s session, the Council of Ministers decided to approve the agreement between the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government by the Prime Minister of the Federal Government Dr. Haider Al Abadi and the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Mr. Nechirvan Barzani, which states that Iraqi oil belongs to all Iraqis, and the Kurdistan Region will provide at least 250 thousand barrels of oil per day to the federal government for the purpose of export.

The agreement also includes exporting 300 thousand barrels per day by the federal Government from the Kirkuk oil fields through the oil pipeline in the province of Kurdistan.

It has also been agreed to allocate a proportion of the financial allocations of the federal land forces of the Iraqi army to the Peshmerga forces according to the population ratio as part of the Iraqi security system.

And the State Dept's Marie Harf released the following statement:

We congratulate the Iraqi and Kurdistan Regional Governments on reaching a broad agreement on revenue management and oil exports originating from the Iraq Kurdistan Region and Kirkuk. This resolution, in line with its constitution, allows all Iraqis to benefit equitably from Iraq’s hydrocarbon sector. This agreement will further strengthen both Iraq’s Federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government as they work together to defeat ISIL.

Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) hails the agreement as "a rare and long-awaited sign of compromise."  Susannah George (McClatchy Newspapers) offers this possibility, "The deal potentially could resolve a long-standing dispute that earlier this year had the Kurds threatening to schedule a vote on independence, a move that would have possibly led to the breakup of the country at the same time that the Islamic State had seized much of northern and central Iraq."

The news allows US outlets (and others) to 'cover' Iraq while ignoring the United Nations nonsense yesterday.  Yes, their embarrassing monthly death toll.  Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 5,640 dead from violence and 2,574 left injured for the month of November. For today, she counts 205 dead and twenty-nine more injured.

In big news every outlet appears to be ignoring (it's okay, Marie Harf also failed to sell it in today's State Dept press briefing), there's a big meet-up tomorrow.  AFP reports, "US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday hosts the first high-level meeting of the 60-member coalition trying to crush the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group." At least AFP's covering it.

This is the effort Barack supposedly wanted, work on the political solution he stated was the only answer to the violence in Iraq.  But while he started bombing Iraq in August, this meet-up waits until December?

And on top of that, they downplay it.

Well, why not?

The White House has had so many 'successes' in Iraq, right?

Asked in October to identify one, Susan Rice insisted the rescue of the Yazidis on Mount Sinjar.

The rescue of the Yazidis on Mount Sinjar.

  • No, they weren't rescued.  The White House lost interest.

    Barack really struggles with the whole stay focused issue.

    New content at Third:

    That went up late Sunday and I never noted it.  So let me note it now before I forget.

    Lastly, David Bacon's latest book is The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration.  We'll close with this from Bacon's photo essay "FIESTA IN SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE - DANCERS"

    SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE (9/29/14) -- For three days during the town fiesta of San Miguel de Allende indigenous dance groups converge here, and dance through the streets from morning until late at night.  Costumes celebrate everything from religious symbols to mythologized history to a common bond with the culture of native peoples north of the U.S. border.  Almost 40% of San Miguel residents are Otomi and 20% Nahua, but the dances are performed by groups from all over Mexico.

    Indigenous people in Izcuinapan, the original native community located here, had a long history of resistance to the Spanish colonizers.  Guamare and Chichimeca people attacked the first Spanish settlement, and the Spanish viceroy was eventually forced to recognize a limited independence for the indigenous people here. 

    We'll note Bacon's photo essay again but I can't find it online currently.  When we note it again, we'll include a link.  (You can also try Googling and might have more luck than I have.)  For more on David Bacon see:

    THE REALITY CHECK - David Bacon blog

    EN LOS CAMPOS DEL NORTE:  Farm worker photographs on the U.S./Mexico border wall
    Youtube interview about the show with Alfonso Caraveo (Spanish)

    The Real News:  Putting off Immigration Reform Angers Grassroots Activists

    David Bacon Interviews Dyanna Taylor, Granddaughter of Documentary Photographer Dorothea Lange

    David Bacon radio review of the movie, Cesar Chavez

    Interviews with David Bacon about his new book, The Right to Stay Home:

    Book TV: A presentation of the ideas in The Right to Stay Home at the CUNY Graduate Center


    KPFK - Uprisings with Sonali Kohatkar

    KPFA - Upfront with Brian Edwards Tiekert

    Photoessay:  My Studio is the Street

    Photoessay:  Mexico City marches against NAFTA and to protect its oil and electricity

    Nativo Lopez dialogues with David Bacon on Radio Hermandad

    The Real News:  Immigration Reform Requires Dismantling NAFTA and Respecting Migrants' Rights/ Immigrant Communities Resist Deportations

    the christian science monitor