Monday, August 31, 2009

Iraq snapshot

Monday, August 31, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Nouri rages in front of the international community, a Shi'ite political party appears to have a new leader, 20-year-old planes found in Serbia, frauds and fakes and John F. Burns, and so much more.
Today a Shi'ite political party goes through the motions of choosing a leader.  The story starts on  Wednesday when Iraqi politician Abdul Aziz al-Hakim died of lung cancer in Iran.  Thursday a memorial was held in Tehran, Friday in Baghdad and Saturday he was buried in Najaf. Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) reported, "Hakim, carried in a plain wooden coffin, was buried in a public square next to his late brother Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr Hakim, whom he had succeeded as leader of the Council in 2003 after his sibling's assassination in a deadly car bombing.  At the public ceremony, Hussein Hakim, a member of an affiliated charitable group, the Mihrab Matyr Foundation, read passages from Hakim's will, anointing Ammar Hakim, 38, as the Supreme Council's new chief."  If you're scratching your head, it may be because of "Supreme Council" which is a Shi'ite political party Abdul Aziz al-Hakim was the head of:  the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.  Or you might be scratching your head over the fact that a father willed a political party to his son?  Yes, it is strange.  Suadad al-Salhy and Tim Cocks (Reuters) report that, today, party elders nominated Ammar al-Hakim to lead the party -- the party his father already willed him -- and that it's "a choice that must now be voted on." Supposedly the advisory council votes on the nomination tomorrow.
Get to the top and slide back down            
Get to the bottom and climb back up           
Sell the vineyard           
Call the lawyer            
Get to the top and slide back down           
Get to the bottom climb back up                 
-- "Snakes and Ladders," written by Joni Mitchell, recorded by Joni and Don Henley on her album Chalk Mark In A Rainstorm
Staying with Iraqi politics, snakes and ladders,  AFP reports that out of concerns over traffic congestions, Nouri al-Maliki has banned convoys . . . unless it's his convoy, or convoys for Iraq's President or Speaker of Parliament. An Iraqi corresondent for McClatchy Newspapers (at Inside Iraq) states Nouri's only recommending the banning and goes on to explain, "The problem of these convoys is blocking roads.  Sometimes we are obliged to wait for more than half an hour in intersections waiting for the convoy to arrive to and then pass.  People are forced to wait and wait in order to allow 'the masters' pass.  We have 275 parliament members, more than 30 ministers, three members of presidency council, three members of parliament presidency panel, the deputies of prime minister and ministers in addition to tens of parties' leaderships and prominent figures.  Those people are accompanied by tens of vehicles and tens of soldiers who are armed to the teeth.  Can you imagine life with all these convoys?"
In other snakes and ladders developments, today comes news on the national census in Iraq.  Missy Ryan and Aseel Kami (Reuters) report that the national census --  long promised, long mandated, never implemented -- got kicked down the road again and Nouri's spokesmodel Ali al-Dabbagh announced the news today declaring that the census announced for October 2009 will be held in April 2010.  Nouri has no time for the census but he's got plenty of time to scream "Ba'athists! Ba'athists!"  Black Wednesday took place two Wednesdays ago and was when numbrous bombs went of in Baghdad with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs being two targets.  Over 101 Iraqis died in the bombings and over 500 were injured. Nouri has accused Ba'athist in Syria.  He had a for-show confession broadcast with the person (probably tortured into confessing) claiming to be responsible for the Ministry of Finance bombing -- that was the smaller of the two.  The claim was more confessions would be broadcast that week.  The week has passed.  Where are those confessions, Nouri?
As Nouri's stamped his feet demanding Syria turn over to him a list of people, Syria's responded stating that Nouri needs to follow the law and if he has evidence, present it.  The two then egnaged in a race to see who could withdraw their ambassadors first.  BBC reports today that Turkey is attempting to mediate the situation as Nouri's upped the rhetoric now claiming that there are terrorists training camps in Syria.  Does Nouri really want to go there?  Don't we all remember the claims of terrorists training camps in Iraq?  And how that never panned out.  Nouri's latest claim is based on another for-show confession which broadcast Sunday.  This person claimed he was trained in Syria to carry out attacks.  Strangely, he doesn't appear to have confessed to any attacks. 
Not content to be a screaming, raging fool in the region, Nouri's got bigger dreams.  Xinhua reports that he's demanding the UN Security Council begin a tribunal to investigate the bombings.  Is Nouri aware that demanding an international tribunal makes it appear he's even weaker than many already think he is?
Yesterday, Iran's Press TV reports, that country's Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, had a face to face meeting with Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, during which al-Assad called Nouri's charges "unacceptable" and repeated the demand that evidence be presented before Syria extradite anyone.  Ned Parker, Saif Hameed and Usama Redha (Los Angeles Times) reports, "Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, shuttled between Baghdad and Damascus on Monday in an effort to contain the dispute between the two countries, who only renewed diplomatic relations three years ago."  CNN quotes Burak Ozugergin, spokesperson for Turkey's Foreign Ministry, stating, "Our foregin minister's visit has the objective of reducing tensions between the two sides."  On the topic of the bombing targeting the Foreign Ministry in Baghdad, the Telegraph of the London reports that Iraqi officials are claiming the bomber was held by the US in Camp Bucca until three months ago.  As usual, there's no evidence backing that up.  If true, someone might need to explain how he apparently left Camp Bucca, headed to Syria and started training at the alleged terrorist camp.  No, Nouri's paraonid rantings do not make much sense . . . ever.
In other get-it-together Thug Nouri news, Rod Nordland (New York Times) reports the Ministry of Defense believes that they have "19 MIG-21 and MIG-23 jet fighters" in storage in Serbia.  In storage . . .since 1989.  Over 20 years.  BBC explains, "At the moment Iraq's air force has no jet fighters, only helicopters, and it had been planning to buy 18 F-16 fighters from the US manufacturer Lockheed Martin. It is not known if the discovery of the MiGs will change that."  Only Frank James (NPR) seems to grasp that planes stored for 20 years are not only out of date, they're probably going to require a lot of work to get them ready to fly.  James notes how they were put in storage in Serbia -- and in Iran -- because Saddam Hussein was hiding them.  Strangely, the announcement has not led --at present -- to any outcries that Serbia was 'in bed' with the Butcher of Baghdad and hiding things from the international community which, by 2002, was very interested in what Iraq did and did not have. 
Iraq did not have WMDs and the UN didn't think Iraq had them and Bully Boy Bush's declaration that the US would begin bombing forced the UN inspectors to leave Iraq immediately.  That's reality and it's not in dispute at present unless your a piece of crap who sold the illegal war and can't get honest all this time later.  Yeah, we're talking about the New York Times' John F. Burns.  Burnsie was hoping to pollute young minds so Dexter Filkins' old buddy waddled onto a college campus.  While there, when not eating, Burnsie made a big ass out of himself.  Shelton Burch (K-State Collegian) reports,
It's something that the US government and a huge portion of the US press refused to recognize and it remains the lesson unlearned from the illegal war. Doubt it?

In an event that lasted about three hours, Burns praised American values many times. There was a reception before and after Burns' speech, as well as a period in which audience members were able to directly question him.
In the course of the speech, Burns, the longest serving war correspondent in The New York Times' history, talked about how America keeps the peace in other wars. This was a belief Burns' father, who served in the Royal airforce in World War II, taught him.
"That was true then, and it is true now," said Burns.
In his speech, Burns compared the alliances between Britain and America during World War II to the alliance between the two now in the current Iraq War. Burns said this was a whole different war on a different scale than that of World War II. What makes this war different in Burns' eye is that America is the leader of a coalition that no longer really exists.

Burnsie's so full of crap he probably has to wear a onesie out in public.  Dexy and Burnsie, the GoGo Boys of the Green Zone,  did the most to make the Iraq War a long lasting one. There were no WMDs. There was no peace. There was no 'victory' around the corner. But those two War Whores repeatedly lied in print. Dexy wants credit for being more honest in his speeches but who gives a damn what he says in public to a small crowd. He did tremendous damage in print and if Americans had known how awful the illegal war was going, before 2003 ended, you would have had a serious pushback. But liars like Dexy and Burnsie strung the public along with lies, deceptions and half-truths about what was going on in Iraq. They have twice as much blood on their hands as Judith Miller. She may have helped get the US into Iraq but it was the War Whores like Dexy and John F. Burns that kept the US military there.

And if you don't grasp that or how disgusting Burnsie is (or even, yeah, let's toss it in, why the paper moved him to London after all those GoGo Boy rumors in Iraq), check out Dave Bergmeier's "Journalist talks about challenges America faces in war time" (Abilene Reflector-Chronicle) which documents the simplistic Burnsie reducing all of Iraq to either Shi'ite or Sunni and most importantly:

While Iraq may have been a war of choice, he also knows that dictator Saddam Hussein would have acquired weapons of mass destruction if he could and used violence against his own people. Burns said he does not count himself with the cadre of media members who believe the war in Iraq was a terrible mistake. Hussein, if he could, would have tried to acquire weapons of mass destruction. United Nations weapons inspectors were led to believe that Hussein had them and the dictator did nothing to try to diffuse that belief. Burns believed that he did have those weapons and he thought President George W. Bush did what he thought was right at the time.
Burnsie stood in public and LIED.  He flat out LIED.  "The dictator did nothing to try to diffuse that belief."  Uh, Saddam allowed the inspectors in, you liar John F. Burns, you damn liar.  The UN didn't buy the case for war as presented by the Bush administration.  That's why there was no UN authorization for war. (After the invasion, which the UN did not autorize, there was a UN authorization for the occupation.) The inspectors weren't even allowed to finish inspections which Burns damn well knows but choose to lie about nearly seven years later. Bully Boy Bush gave Saddam a get-out-town-by-sundown macho b.s. warning and the UN inspectors got out of the country.  John Burns is now not just frightening to look at with that ridiculous beard which appears embedded with food and food crumbs, he's an actual menace to any democracy as he lies and rewrites history.  He should be ashamed.
He's got blood on his hands, let's turn to some of today's reported violence.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which left five people injured and a Baghdad roadside bombing which left four people wounded -- the first targeted a US military convoy and the second an Baghdad municipality convoy -- in both cases civilians were injured and, dropping back to Sunday, a Mosul roadside bombing which wounded four police officers.   Reuters drops back to Sunday to note a Mosul roadside bombing which left one young boy injured.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 woman shot dead in Mosul and 1 stationary store owner shot dead in Mosul -- both were shot dead with guns brandishing silencers.   Reuters drops back 1 police officer shot dead in Kirkuk.
That's 3 reported dead and fourteen reported injured today.  Sunday saw 7 people reported dead and twenty-one reported wounded.  Yesterday, Third noted last week's violence (August 23rd 4 dead and eleven injured. August 24th, 11 dead, twenty-nine wounded. August 25th, 4 dead, nineteen injured. August 26th, 4 dead and ten wounded. August 27th, 4 dead and fifty-one wounded. August 28th, saw 6 reported dead, 7 injured. August 29th saw 22 dead, 55 injured.)  Friday's snapshot noted reports through Thursday added up to 471 reported deaths  in August and 1,822 reported injured.  Adding Friday (28th), Saturday, Sunday and today, the totals for August are: 509 dead and 1919 injured.  That is not a complete tally. It is based on reported deaths and I'm sure there are many reported that are missed in that tally.  Steven Lee Myers' praised ICCC's "civilian count".  ICCC's count stands at 438 dead.  That is wrong, they always are hugely wrong.  And Steven Lee Myers not only can count, he can't read.  ICCC clearly labels their count "Iraqi Security Forces and Civilian Deaths Details."  By the way, when Nancy Youssef was reporting from Iraq, the outlet regularly offered a monthly death toll.  When she left, interest in that appeared to leave as well.  (Youssef is also the reporter who broke the news that the US military was keeping its own count of civilians killed.  She did that on the last day Knight Ridder was Knight Ridder before it officially became McClatchy Newspapers -- see the June 26, 2006 snapshot.)
"Unfortunately it seems liket many members of the anti-war movement have gone on vacation from protest now that we have a Democratic president. and it just makes me wonder if the past eight years we've had an anti-Bush movement and not an anti-war movement," observes Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan on her latest broadcast of Cindy's Soapbox.  Yesterday James Dao (New York Times) wanted to report on the peace movement but somehow forgot to get a comment from Cindy Sheehan.  He did make time for a lot of fakes (all but Nancy Lessing, Perry O'Brien and Michael Eisenscher were fakes -- click here for a critique of the article from last night).  Today Justin Rainmondo ( observes:
The Times cites Tom Andrews, national director of Win Without War, as saying "'most liberals 'want this guy to succeed'" and fear the unfolding disaster in Afghanistan "could be a devastating albatross around the president's neck." Whether this is a prescription for picking up the pace of liberal antiwar protests, in order to alert the Obama administration to the danger, or a rationale for inaction, so as not to have that albatross weigh even heavier around the Dear Leader's neck, is not at all clear – although I rather suspect the latter.                           
A visit to the Web site of the main antiwar coalition, United for Peace and Justice, reveals little urgency when it comes to the Afghan war, and I note the only national actions scheduled for fall are being launched by groups other than UFPJ. Evidence of those "local actions" calling for an end to the Afghan war is scant: a search of their events calendar notes very few.                  
Of course, since UFPJ is dominated by the old Commie network – the remnants of the CPUSA and its social democratic split-off, the Committees of Correspondence – this is hardly surprising. These people have long been a drag on the antiwar movement, stifling the creation of a broad-based anti-interventionism in favor of saddling protests with the familiar litany of liberal demands. Now Obama's campaign for free ice cream has totally eclipsed the ostensibly antiwar aims of the movement, inducing near complete paralysis.
Tom Andrews is a former member of the US Congress and "is Senior Advisor to the National Democratic Insitute for International Affairs" and you may be thinking, "Well what's that?" All you need to know is the chair is Madeline Albright. Mad Maddy Albright. War Monger surpreme. No, a true 'anti-war' voice is not in bed with Mad Maddy. And you need to ask yourself what was NDI doing sticking its nose into Iraq's January elections?  Erin Matthes of NDI is quoted in the linked to article about NDI's work in Iraq.  It's strange that Tom Andrews hasn't felt the need to trumpet that 'wonderful' work NDI is doing in Iraq.  Karl Vick and Robin Wright (Washington Post) revealed NDI had been in Iraq 'helping' since 2003.  In 2004, David Lindorff offered From his "DNC Meddling in the Ukraine Elections" (CounterPunch): 

What, I'd like to know, was the Democratic Party, which has demonstrated an uncanny ability to lose elections it should be able to win handily here in America, doing spending $40 million in U.S. taxpayers' dollars "helping" people and organizations in other countries to compete in elections to overturn incumbent governments overseas?            
It turns out that even as it was blowing the presidential election in the U.S., an arm of the Democratic Party, the so called National Democratic Institute, was busy over the last year spending tens of millions of dollars provided by the State Department to help the opposition in the Ukraine to challenge the government party in that former Soviet state. (A similar Republican Party organization, the Republican International Institute, was doing the same thing with more State Department money. ) Some of that help was itself of questionable legality, which is why it was all done covertly.                   
Does anyone else see the huge irony and hypocrisy here?        
The opposition party in the U.S. was actually working hand in glove with the government (and with the Republican Party!) in a subversive foreign policy effort of the Bush administration even as its chosen presidential candidate and nominal party leader, John Kerry, was campaigning against the foreign policy and foreign policy establishment of the Bush administration as inept and untrustworthy.
It takes nothing away from the students and workers of the Ukraine who took to the streets and overturned the results of a corrupt election to say that citizens in America, and especially people who call themselves members of the Democratic Party, should be outraged that they and their party, the victims of fraud and voter abuse at home, were engaged in some of the same kinds of subterfuges overseas that GOP operatives and Republican-led election bureaucracies were using against them here at home.         

The NDI.  No, no one with the peace movement would be involved with the NDI. We'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "RISE OF MERCENARY ARMIES MENACE WORLD, HELP WHITE HOUSE THWART PEACE MOVEMENT" (Global Research):

The growing use of private armies not only subjects target populations to savage warfare but makes it easier for the White House to subvert domestic public opinion and wage wars.                                                    
Americans are less inclined to oppose a war that is being fought by hired foreign mercenaries, even when their own tax dollars are being squandered to fund it.
"The increasing use of contractors, private forces, or, as some would say, 'mercenaries' makes wars easier to begin and to fight---it just takes money and not the citizenry," said Michael Ratner, of New York's Center for Constitutional Rights. "To the extent a population is called upon to go to war, there is resistance, a necessary resistance to prevent wars of self-aggrandizement, foolish wars, and, in the case of the United States, hegemonic imperialist wars."                
Indeed, the Pentagon learned the perils of the draft from the massive public protests it provoked during the Viet Nam war. Today, it would prefer, and is working toward, an electronic battlefield where the fighting is done by robots guided by sophisticated surveillance systems that will minimize U.S. casualties. Meanwhile, it tolerates the use of private contractors to help fight its battles.
Iraq offers a heart-breaking example of a war in which contract fighters so inflamed the public they were sent to "liberate" that when fighting broke out in Fallujah the bodies of privateer Blackwater's four slain mercenaries were desecrated by enraged mobs. This horrific scene was televised globally and prompted the U.S. to make a punishing, retaliatory military assault upon Fallujah, causing widespread death and destruction.                
Just as the American colonists despised the mercenary Hessians in the Revolutionary War, Iraqis came to hate Blackwater and its kindred contractors worse than U.S. soldiers, who often showed them kindness, according to a journalist with experience in the war zone.          
"It wasn't uncommon for an American soldier, or even an entire company, to develop a very friendly relationship with an Iraqi community. It didn't happen every day, but it wasn't unheard of," writes Ahmed Mansour, an Egyptian reporter and talk show host for Qatar-based al-Jazeera, the Middle East TV network.
"It was also definitely not uncommon to see American troops high-fiving Iraqi teenagers, holding the arm of an elderly woman to help her cross a street, or helping someone out of a difficult situation…This was not the case with mercenaries. They knew they were viewed as evil thugs, and they wanted to keep it that way."             
In his book "Inside Fallujah" (Olive Branch Press), Mansour says, "Mercenaries were viewed as monsters, primarily because they behaved monstrously. They never spoke to anyone using words---they only used the language of fire, bullets, and absolute lethal force. It was fairly common to see a mercenary crush a small civilian Iraqi car with passengers inside just because the mercenaries happened to be stuck in a traffic jam."