Thursday, January 29, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, January 29, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the UN kind-of finds a voice, we examine how voiceless it's been in Iraq. Human Rights Watch releases an important new report, Senator Patty Murray continues to fight for veterans and can claim a win today, and much more.

First off, Dirk Adriaensens has another important article, this one is entitled "Iraq: Media professionals assassinated in 2014." We will note it in the next snapshot (hopefully a Friday snapshot and not a Saturday one -- but the next one regardless).  It's an important topic, it's an important issue.  However, since the September 8, 2011 assassination of Iraqi journalist and activist Hadi al-Mahdi, I have to be in place for this topic.  I'll go to that place next time but there's too much to do to fall apart now.

So instead we'll zoom in on the United Nations.

Today, Human Rights Watch issued their [PDF format warning] 25th annual World Report which, as usual, is a wealth of information about the world.  Here, our focus is Iraq.

While the report rightly calls out the actions of the Islamic State, unlike many, it doesn't limit itself to that nor does it pretend that the Islamic State sprung up in a vacuum or that it was an initiating action.

In Iraq, the Islamic State exists as a response -- specifically as a response to an abusive government.

HRW's report notes:

On December 30, 2013, security forces attacked demonstrators in a public square in Ramadi where Sunnis had gathered every Friday for a year to protest perceived government abuses of the Sunni population. The attack left 17 people dead and helped to trigger renewed conflict in Anbar province that continued throughout the year. The army closed the main eastern, northern, and southern checkpoints to Fallujah, and elsewhere in Anbar, refusing to allow people, medicine, or food to enter or leave the city.

The government failed to investigate the April 23, 2013 attack on a demonstration camp in Hawija in which soldiers, federal police, and SWAT forces fired on a crowd of about 1,000 demonstrators, killing more than 50.

Those are part of the injustices that bred the reaction that is the Islamic State in Iraq.

Let's note the  April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll eventually (as some wounded died) rose to 53 dead.   UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

That is appalling.

The shock and outrage many felt was completely understandable.

But somehow that shock didn't make over the ocean and over the airwaves to the United States.

The minute that took place, the White House should have repudiated Nouri al-Maliki.

They refused to do so.

The cowardly and craven administration continued to embrace thug Nouri.

8 children killed.  Peaceful protesters killed and wounded.

In an attack order by Nouri al-Maliki and carried out by Iraqi forces he commanded.

Here's the weak ass response from the US government:

The United States strongly condemns the actions that resulted in the death and injury of civilians and security personnel in Hawija.  We regret that this violence took place before ongoing efforts to reach a peaceful resolution of this situation were given sufficient time to succeed.
All sides should immediately refrain from further violence or provocative actions.
U.S. officials have been in contact with senior Iraqi leaders to help defuse political and sectarian tensions. We call for a transparent investigation with the broadest possible participation.  Perpetrators of unlawful actions – whether from the government, security forces, or protestors – must be held accountable under Iraqi law.

The United States expresses its heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and urges all Iraqis to move beyond this tragedy and to work together to prevent any recurrence.

All sides should immediately refrain from further violence?

What violence had the dead children participated in?


Not that most Americans know because the US media never bothered to report on the protests themselves -- even though they were spread out across Iraq and lasted over a year -- but these protests weren't just male or one type of male.  Women participated, children participated.

And Iraq's challenged or disabled communities participated.

We noted that.

Check any Friday piece here during the year  of protests and you'll encounter a look at the diversity of the protests.

But we need to grasp what so many have refused to -- the dead and wounded in Hawija also included the challenged or disabled.

These were peaceful protesters.

What kind of monster orders an assault on peaceful protesters?

What kind of monster orders an assault on children?

What kind of monster orders an assault on people in wheel chairs?

BRussells Tribunal carried a translation of one activist who was an eye-witness to what went down:


I am Thamer Hussein Mousa from the village of Mansuriya in the district of Hawija. I am disabled. My left arm was amputated from the shoulder and my left leg amputated from the hip, my right leg is paralyzed due to a sciatic nerve injury, and I have lost sight in my left eye.
I have five daughters and one son. My son’s name is Mohammed Thamer. I am no different to any other Iraqi citizen. I love what is good for my people and would like to see an end to the injustice in my country.

When we heard about the peaceful protests in Al-Hawija, taking place at ‘dignity and honor square’, I began attending with my son to reclaim our usurped rights. We attended the protests every day, but last Friday the area of protest was besieged before my son and I could leave; just like all the other protestors there.

Food and drink were forbidden to be brought into the area….

On the day of the massacre (Tuesday 23 April 2013) we were caught by surprise when Al-Maliki forces started to raid the area. They began by spraying boiling water on the protestors, followed by heavy helicopter shelling. My little son stood beside me. We were both injured due to the shelling.

My son, who stood next to my wheelchair, refused to leave me alone. He told me that he was afraid and that we needed to get out of the area. We tried to leave. My son pushed my wheelchair and all around us, people were falling to the ground.

Shortly after that, two men dressed in military uniforms approached us. One of them spoke to us in Persian; therefore we didn’t understand what he said. His partner then translated. It was nothing but insults and curses. He then asked me “Handicapped, what do you want?” I did not reply. Finally I said to him, “Kill me, but please spare my son”. My son interrupted me and said, “No, kill me but spare my father”. Again I told him “Please, spare my son. His mother is waiting for him and I am just a tired, disabled man. Kill me, but please leave my son”. The man replied “No, I will kill your son first and then you. This will serve you as a lesson.” He then took my son and killed him right in front of my eyes. He fired bullets into his chest and then fired more rounds. I can’t recall anything after that. I lost consciousness and only woke up in the hospital, where I underwent surgery as my intestines were hanging out of my body as a result of the shot.

After all of what has happened to me and my little son – my only son, the son who I was waiting for to grow up so he could help me – after all that, I was surprised to hear Ali Ghaidan (Lieutenant General, Commander of all Iraqi Army Ground Forces) saying on television, “We killed terrorists” and displaying a list of names, among them my name: Thamer Hussein Mousa.

I ask you by the name of God, I appeal to everyone who has a shred of humanity. Is it reasonable to label me a terrorist while I am in this situation, with this arm, and with this paralyzed leg and a blind eye?

I ask you by the name of God, is it reasonable to label me a terrorist? I appeal to all civil society and human rights organizations, the League of Arab States and the Conference of Islamic States to consider my situation; all alone with my five baby daughters, with no one to support us but God. I was waiting for my son to grow up and he was killed in this horrifying way.
I hold Obama responsible for this act because he is the one who gave them these weapons. The weapons and aircrafts they used and fired upon us were American weapons. I also hold the United States of America responsible for this criminal act, above all, Obama.

Americans should be outraged.

They should be outraged that Bully Boy Bush installed Nouri as prime minister (2006) and then (in 2010) when Nouri lost the election Barack Obama demanded that Nouri get a second term.

Americans should be outraged by that.

They should be outraged by what Nouri did.

They should be outraged with a press that failed to report honestly and accurately what Nouri was doing to the Sunnis.

 They should be outraged with the United Nations.

UNICEF did step up to the plate.

They called out the murders of 8 children.

UNAMI didn't publicize it.  The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq wasn't interested.

It's never interested when Sunnis are targeted and attacked.

Today UNAMI issued the following statement:


UN Calls for Inquiry into the Alleged Massacre in Diyala Province 

Baghdad,29 January 2015 - The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG) Mr. Nickolay Mladenov welcomes the announcement by the Iraqi Government of its decision to conduct a full investigation into the alleged killing of dozens of civilians by armed groups in the village of Barwanah in Diyala province. 
“It is the responsibility of the Government to ensure that all armed forces are under its control, that rule of law is respected and that civilians are protected in all areas of the country, including those areas recently liberated from ISIL. Any individual found by this investigation to have been responsible for killings must be held accountable according to law”, Mr. Mladenov said, adding that those who have fled from ISIL should be allowed to return to their homes in peace and security that must be provided by the local police in line with national and international human rights standards.  

Don't mistake that for bravery.

It's not.

It's not even honesty.

They're not initiating a call for an investigation.

They wouldn't have said one damn word if the Iraqi government hadn't announced an investigation.

UNAMI is disgusting.

It's been one leader in bed with Nouri after another.

It's been whorish employees who, let's remember, didn't blame Nouri for the lack of potable water, couldn't take the leadership of Iraq, but could blame Iraqi women -- IRAQI WOMEN -- for the lack of potable water -- the United Nations could -- and, yes, did -- hold a press conference during which Nouri was never called out for his failure to put money into Iraq's water and sanitation facilities but did pile all the blame for cholera onto Iraqi women.

That's shameful.

That's disgusting.

Let's name the figure involved:  Dr. Naeema al-Gasseer.

We called her out.

Search in vain for others in the US who called her out.

The United Nations didn't call out her, she still has her post at WHO.

The United Nations is no friend to the people of the world.

It has made that very clear in Iraq.

They do a monthly toll.

They leave out Anbar.


The real question is why the press doesn't explain why.

The press knows.

The UN doesn't count Anbar because Iraqi forces kill Sunnis in Anbar.

A count would acknowledge that and the UN would rather protect killers than protect the people.

Let's go back to Human Rights Watch's report for this:

On September 14, Abadi order the air force to cease strikes on civilian areas even where ISIS was present, but airstrikes continued in Fallujah and northern Iraq to the end of the year. 

They're wrong on the date.

It was September 13th.

The Iraqi military began bombing civilian areas in Falluja in January of 2014.  These were daily bombings.

And the United Nations never said one damn word.

This despite the fact that the bombings were War Crimes -- legally defined and legally recognized as such.

But the United Nations couldn't speak up for the victims.

Day after day, week after week, month after month, these bombings went on.

Sunnis were injured and killed daily.

And the United Nations stayed silent until September 13th.

Once new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi mentioned these bombings publicly, insisting that they had stopped, then the United Nations found their voice.

PM orders army to stop shelling civilian areas, vows to protect civilians and restore security to all of
21 retweets 8 favorites

That was their first statement ever.

It remains their only statement.

Let's drop back to our Sunday, September 14th entry to clarify what actually happened:

Third's "Editorial: The bombing of civilians continues in Iraq" notes Iraq's new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, ordered an end to the military bombing civilian targets on Saturday -- or that al-Abadi said he gave that order -- yet Falluja General Hospital was bombed today.
Iraqi Spring MC notes the bombings of residential neighborhoods in Falluja also continued today with 6 civilians left dead  and 22 more injured.
A very important question needs to be asked:  Did al-Abadi give the order he said he did?
If he didn't, he lied.
If he did, the military is not listening to the new prime minister. 

When Haider announced the bombings had ended, suddenly UNAMI wanted in on it, wanted to share the glory.

Just like today.

Wednesday the Iraqi government announces some form of an investigation into the slaughter of over 70 Sunnis and Thursday UNAMI finally finds interest in the topic.

Slaughter took place Monday.

UNAMI couldn't be bothered with it until after the Baghdad-based government announced an investigation.

UNAMI does not exist as a body that champions the rights of the Iraqi people.

It exists as a megaphone for the Baghdad-based government -- a government that has long abused the people.

Turning to today's US State Dept press briefing:

QUESTION: The Iraqi Government apparently is investigating allegations that there was a massacre in Diyala province, in which 70 Sunni villagers were killed by Shiite militias. Do you have something on that, given particularly the sectarian tensions we’ve seen under the previous government? Any U.S. comment on it?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, these are serious allegations. And as you mention, the Government of Iraq has initiated an investigation to determine the facts behind these claims. We strongly support this investigation. If these allegations are confirmed, those found responsible must be held accountable.
I’d also note that Prime Minister Abadi has repeatedly stressed the importance of ensuring that all militia fighters are demobilized and integrated into formal Iraqi security structures, and that is something that he has been working on for months now since he took office.

QUESTION: But isn’t it also policy that some of the militias – or you’re trying to train local fighting forces to come together to ward off the – and fight against the ISIL groups? So how does that fit in with the --

MS. PSAKI: That it should be integrated into the formal Iraqi security structure. And so that is the effort, and regulated through that. So that is the effort that has been underway for several months.
And it's not just the UN.  Part of the United Nations problem is its never-ending desire to cover up for the actions of the United State

Oh, Jen Psaki, you're quite the prankster.

Does the State Dept look forward to this investigation?

After the April 23, 2013 massacre in Hawija, remember what the State Dept said?

April 24, 2013, when Nouri's government announced an investigation into what was the killings that Nouri ordered, what did the State Dept spokesperson Patrick Ventrell say?  He said, "I don’t have an update from yesterday, other than to say you heard us – well, the only update is I believe that the Iraqi Government has called for an investigation. So we do want a fair, transparent, timely investigation that has broad participation."

Did the State Dept want it then?

Because I'm confused.

Nouri never followed up and the State Dept never issued another statement.

But today Jen Psaki thinks she can pretend that it's different and now the State Dept really, really cares.

No, they don't.

 Moving on, the US Army announced yesterday, "The U.S. Army Security Assistance Command, also known as USASAC, has implemented and completed a case for delivery of 250 Mine Resistant Armor Protected, or MRAP, vehicles to the Iraqi government."  Good.  Maybe Haider's government can share those with Iran as well?  Jeremy Binnie (IHS Jane's Defence Weekly) reports, "In an apparent reflection of the growing power of Iraq's pro-Iranian militias, an M1A1 Abrams tank has been spotted in videos showing a large convoy of vehicles operated by Kataib Hizbullah."

In the US, Adam Ashton (Olympian) reports that Senator Patty Murray's efforts to help veterans has resulted in an additional 124 jobs at the VA Puget Sound with an additional "$22 million to hospitals in the Puget Sound region."  Senator Murray serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and was Chair of the Committee.  Ashton quotes her calling the move "a great step in the right direction, but there is still much more work to do" and  "VA has been struggling with access to care for far too long, so today’s announcement that VA Puget Sound will hire additional full-time employees to care for our veterans is great news."