Saturday, October 03, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Saturday, October 3, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, one outlet joins The New Yorker in breaking the silence on prostitution in Iraq, Hillary Clinton can't address the topic but maybe if she focuses on the 'business' aspect of the sex trade she'll find a voice, and much more.

Friday morning, we again noted The New Yorker report on prostitution in Iraq written by Rania Abouzeid and that CNN's Arwa Damon had Tweeted about it but that it was otherwise being ignored.

From the article:

In 2012, Iraq passed its first law specifically against human trafficking, but the law is routinely ignored, and sexual crimes, including rape and forced prostitution, are common, women’s-rights groups say. Statistics are hard to come by, but in 2011, according to the latest Ministry of Planning report, a survey found that more than nine per cent of respondents between the ages of fifteen and fifty-four said they had been subjected to sexual violence. The real number is likely much higher, given the shame attached to reporting such crimes in a society where a family’s honor is often tied to the chastity of its women. The victims of these crimes are often considered outcasts and can be killed for “dishonoring” their family or their community.

Since 2006, Layla, a rape victim and former prostitute, has been secretly mapping Iraq’s underworld of sex trafficking and prostitution. Through her network of contacts in the sex trade, she gathers information about who is selling whom and for how much, where the victims are from, and where they are prostituted and trafficked. She passes the information, through intermediaries, to Iraqi authorities, who usually fail to act on it. Still, her work has helped to convict several pimps, including some who kidnapped children. That Saturday night, I accompanied Layla and Mohammad on a tour of some of the places that she investigates, on the condition that I change her name, minimize details that might identify her, and not name her intermediaries.

Friday on PRI's The World, Carol Hills spoke with Raina Abouzeid about her report.  Excerpt.

Rania Abouzeid:  But she's told me on more than one occasion that she sees this as her life's cause that she is absolutely determined regardless of the personal violence that she is often threatened with, because it is a dangerous job to sort of move undercover and pretend that you're a pimp or that you're a retired pimp in her case to get access to these brothels and to get into these nightclubs and to have the kind of relationships that she has with pimps and prostitutes.  But she's nonetheless absolutely devoted to this cause.

Carol Hills:  You accompanied her as she tried to get information and she was sort of under cover as a pimp herself in order to get information.  What did you observe her do in order to get information?

Rania Abouzeid:  One of the reasons she can do this was because she was in the trade many years ago.  She has those sort of connections and she mines those connections.  So she's a known quantity if you like in this underworld in Iraq.  And she, uh, she taps into those connections and she uses them to expand her network and it also gives her a kind of street cred, if you like, with these people that she's dealing with.

Carol Hills:  Can you give a couple of examples of the kind of women or girls that are finding themselves in the sex trade.

Rania Abouzeid:  Well it's mainly women and girls who don't have the support of their families -- either because they're fleeing from their families because of some sort of domestic abuse or they've been displaced and their usual family network isn't around them so they're -- so they're in an alien environment, if you like. And you know what one of the young ladies in my piece found herself in a very rough neighborhood because it was cheaper and it didn't take long for pimps and their women in this trade -- for one of these pimps to find her and to offer her free shelter, free food, a sense of stability and that's how she was lured into this trade.

Carol Hills:  You just mentioned that many of the pimps are women and that really surprised me.  How-how does that happen?  It's so different from -- at least our image -- of how prostitution and the sex trade operate.

Rania Abouzeid:  Yes, it's a very different model to the sort of western stereotype of the pimp -- the male pimp -- who's sort of controls the women.  In Iraq, actually in much of the developing world, these are criminal networks that are run by women.  But there are men behind them.  There's quite a tangled web of men behind them and corrupt police and militia men in the case of Iraq.

Carol Hills:  Is the current Iraqi government doing anything about this?

Rania Abouzeid:  Well in August of this year, the Women's Affairs Ministry which was always short of money anyhow was closed down as part of downsizing.  And that was one body that was supposed to sort of advocate for women's affairs.  And it was shut down.

And it was shut down.

As we noted September 10th, "What 'reform' under Haider means thus far is that quotas are going and gone -- meaning minority populations will not be represented or have a seat at the table.  In addition, shutting down the Ministry of Women's Affairs -- not a budget concern since it never had a real budget -- means that there will not be bodies in the government to track the treatment (or mistreatment) of certain segments."

Why is it that when Haider al-Abadi falsely sold his announced moves as 'reform' no one wanted to call them out -- no one in the press.  They wanted to pretend that closing down an underfunded ministry would, in fact, address corruption.

Instead, it leaves a segment of the population without any real resources.

And where were our brave defenders of women's rights in the United States?

I don't want to hear any two-faced women's 'leader' announce yet again: "Human rights are women's rights."

I don't want to hear that or anything else if they were no where to be found when Haider al-Abadi was trying to dismantle the Ministry of Women's Affairs.

Hillary Clinton, for example, was more than happy to vote (2002) to destroy Iraq and to continue to support the illegal war until it became a problem in 2007 as she was seeking the Democratic Party's 2008 presidential nomination.

Today, she's again seeking that nomination but she has nothing to say about Iraqi women.

The notion that some fluff in a badly (ghost)written book means she no longer has to answer for Iraq is one pimped by the whores who want to ignore what a War Hawk Hillary is.

Remember, she can talk business opportunities brought about by the destruction of Iraq, she just can't address the problems facing the Iraqi people.

Moving from a presidential aspirant to the actual US President, Barack Obama mentioned the Middle East briefly this week.


He forgot Iraq.

On the issue of Russia and the air strikes in Syria garnered a lot of press attention this week.  To a lesser extent so did the announcement of the government of Iraq that they would be sharing intelligence with Russia.

The latter topic was addressed this week on Fresh Air (NPR -- link is audio and text) when Dave Davies spoke with the Washington Post's Joby Warrick.

DAVIES: The other development here is that the Russians recently announced an agreement with Iraq and Iran to share intelligence about ISIS. They didn't let the Americans know about this, right? I mean, what are we to make of that?

WARRICK: It's clearly a slap in the face of the Obama administration because, you know, the Iraqis are supposedly our allies. The Iranians certainly aren't, but we've tried to work with them in finding ways - you know, common interest - in going against ISIS. But here, you know, Russia is asserting its own role without telling the United States and essentially giving the signal or the message that the U.S. has been ineffective and been powerless. As Putin said in his speech at the U.N., it's made the situation much worse, so Russia is moving in, again, in a very dramatic fashion to say we're going to take charge here. We're going to help bring a solution to the region. If eventually it leads to a more cooperative effort between the U.S. and Russia and others in doing something against ISIS, that'll be great. I think it's way, way too early to say if that's - if we can have that kind of a hopeful outcome.

Still on Russia, Kevin Liptak (CNN) reports, "In a joint statement Friday, the governments of nations fighting ISIS -- including the United States, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia -- said Russia's military strikes 'constitute a further escalation and will only fuel more extremism and radicalization'."

Oh, Russian strikes will do that?

Fuel more extremism and radicalization?

Russian strikes will do that?

Not US strikes in Syria or Iraq?

Because the US government has no diplomatic efforts in Iraq, just more bombs dropped.

Friday the Defense Dept bragged:

Airstrikes in Iraq
Bomber, fighter, attack, fighter-attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 20 airstrikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
-- Near Huwayjah, six strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL ammunition cache, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL vehicle bomb assembly area and an ISIL mortar system.
-- Near Albu Hayat, a strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Beiji, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed 17 ISIL tactical fighting positions and wounded an ISIL fighter.
-- Near Kirkuk, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Kisik, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL rocket
-- Near Ramadi, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL command and control node.
-- Near Mosul, a strike destroyed an ISIL tactical vehicle.
-- Near Sinjar, four strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Tal Afar, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

And there's this:

  • In other violence, Al Jazeera notes twin suicide bombers took their own lives in different parts of Baghdad today while also killing 24 other people.

    Still on violence, this week saw the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) issue their figures for the month of September:

    Baghdad, 1 October 2015 – According to casualty figures released today by UNAMI, a total of 717 Iraqis were killed and another 1,216 were injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in September 2015*.

    The number of civilians killed was 537 (including 42 civilian police and casualty figures in Anbar), and the number of civilians injured was 925 (including 38 civilian police and casualty figures in Anbar).

    A further 180 members of the Iraqi Security Forces (including Peshmerga, SWAT and militias fighting alongside the Iraqi Army / Not including casualties from Anbar Operations) were killed and 291 were injured.

    “The United Nations remains deeply concerned by the ongoing violence and the high rate of ensuing casualties”, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Jan Kubis said. He however noted that “the cycle of violence, displacement and migration, should not hamper the need to properly and meaningfully address the key economic, security, social and institutional reforms that will help stabilize the situation and restore hope among the Iraqis”.

    Baghdad was the worst affected Governorate with 840 civilian casualties (257 killed, 583 injured). Diyala suffered 67 killed and 86 injured, Salahadin 87 killed and 64 injured, Ninewa 75 killed and 8 injured, and Kirkuk 16 killed and 6 injured.

    According to information obtained by UNAMI from the Health Directorate in Anbar, the Governorate suffered a total of 204 civilian casualties (28 killed and 176injured).

    *CAVEATS: In general, UNAMI has been hindered in effectively verifying casualties in conflict areas. Figures for casualties from Anbar Governorate are provided by the Health Directorate and are noted below. Casualty figures obtained from the Anbar Health Directorate might not fully reflect the real number of casualties in those areas due to the increased volatility of the situation on the ground and the disruption of services. In some cases, UNAMI could only partially verify certain incidents. UNAMI has also received, without being able to verify, reports of large numbers of casualties along with unknown numbers of persons who have died from secondary effects of violence after having fled their homes due to exposure to the elements, lack of water, food, medicines and health care. For these reasons, the figures reported have to be considered as the absolute minimum

    In other failures for Haider al-Abadi, Press TV reports there are now over 800 confirmed cases of cholera in Iraq.

    Reuters reports that July saw Haider al-Abadi refusing to pay the salaries to workers -- "pensioners, civil servants, doctors, teachers, nurses, police and workers at state-owned companies" -- in Iraqi cities controlled by the Islamic State.  And what are people saying about this move?

    The Iraqi government’s decision to choke off funding for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) by cutting off all wages and pensions in cities controlled by the group has plunged people into hardship and could help the insurgents tighten their grip, officials and residents say.

    Way to go, Haider al-Abadi, way to make things even worse.