Monday, September 16, 2013

Iraq snapshot

Monday, September 16, 2013. Chaos and violence continue, WHO buries a report, everyone wants to speak on Wednesday, Syria remains in Barack's cross-hairs, and more.

Today had significance with regards to recent history.  Eric Boehlert (Huffington Post) informs, "Ten years ago this week, and six months after the United States launched a preemptive invasion of Iraq as part of the larger War on Terror, President Bush publicly conceded the administration had 'no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with' the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States."  History's strongest gift to the present is to serve as an instructive guide of sorts.  Around the world, people feel they are seeing history attempt to repeat with Iraq standing in for Syria and Barack standing in for Bully Boy Bush.  Richard Cohen (New York Daily News) observes:

If life were a movie, President Obama would look into the mirror and see George W. Bush. He would rub the mirror and Bush would still be there, giving him that galling smirk. Obama would quickly understand: Here he is, like the predecessor he so (rightly) loathed, metaphorically trudging the vast Arabian desert, searching for Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Already, the Syrian debacle has taken on aspects of Iraq. Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons are, as we once thought about Saddam Hussein’s, on the move. “Today, we have information that the regime began to move chemical materials and chemical weapons to Lebanon and to Iraq,” Gen. Salim Idriss, the opposition’s military leader, told CNN . “The regime is behaving like Saddam Hussein,” he later added.

We'll return to the topic of Syria later in the snapshot.  The US government has succeeded in burying a report on the true costs of war.  The report in question was to be published by the World Health Organization and the study was undertaken by WHO and the Iraqi government in response to the huge number of birth defects now appearing in Iraq.

Just last week, Iraq's Dr. Samira Alaani started a petition calling for the suppressed report to be released:

My name is Dr Samira Alaani and I am a pediatrician working in Fallujah General Hospital. In the years since US forces attacked our city my colleagues and I have recorded a horrifying increase in the numbers of babies born with congenital defects: spina bifida, heart abnormalities and defects that I do not even have a name for. Many do not survive. For those that do, we care for them as best we can with the limited resources we have.
I have worked in Fallujah as a Pediatrician since 1997 but began to notice something was wrong in 2006 and began logging the cases; we have determined that 144 babies are now born with a deformity for every 1000 live births. We believe it has to be related to contamination caused by the fighting in our city, even now, nearly 10 years later. It is not unique to Fallujah; hospitals throughout the Anbar Governorate and many other regions of Iraq are recording increases. Every day I see the strain this fear puts on expectant mothers and their families. The first question I am asked when a child is born is not ‘is it a boy or a girl?’ but ‘is my child healthy?’

When I heard that the Iraqi Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) were going to carry out research I finally felt a glimmer of hope. I knew it would only confirm what we already knew; that there had been a rise in birth defects, but I saw it as a stepping stone to finally spur Iraq and the international community into action.

The research is now complete and we were promised that it would be published at the beginning of 2013, yet six months later the WHO has announced more delays. We worry that this is now politics, not science. We have already waited years for the truth and my patients cannot wait any longer. The WHO has another option. The data should be published in an open access journal for independent peer review. The process would be fast, rigorous and transparent.

My patients need to know the truth, they need to know why they miscarried, they need to know why their babies are so ill but, most importantly, they need to know that something is being done about it. The Iraqi Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization need to release this data and give us answers.
Please sign this petition and show that the rest of the world has not forgotten about the people of Iraq.

Currently, the petition has 51,736 signatures.   Last March, Dhar Jamail (Al Jazeera) reported on the birth defects and noted:

A frequently cited epidemiological study titled Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2009 involved a door-to-door survey of more than 700 Fallujah households.
The research team interviewed Fallujans about abnormally high rates of cancer and birth defects.
One of the authors of the study, Chemist Chris Busby, said that the Fallujah health crisis represented "the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied".

Those are precisely the reasons Dr. Samira Alaani started her petition.  But the petition may have been rendered moot today.  Dr Mozhgan Savabieasfahani (Al Jazeera) reported this morning:

A short and anonymous report just appeared on the World Health Organization (WHO) website. It is titled "Summary of prevalence of reported congenital birth defects in 18 selected districts in Iraq." Previously, this report was referred to on the WHO website as a "joint study" with the Iraqi Ministry of Health (MoH) which began in May-June 2012. It was to examine the prevalence of congenital birth defects in a number of geographically dispersed areas of Iraq which were exposed to bombardment or heavy fighting, or were unexposed.

This joint investigation was initiated following widespread public alarm over unusual increases in poor reproductive and birth outcomes in Iraq after the US-led invasion. Across Iraq, increasing numbers of birth defects appear to be surfacing, including in Mosul, Al-Ramadi, Najaf, Fallujah, Basra, Hawijah, and Baghdad. In some provinces, cancers also are rising. Sterility, repeated miscarriages, stillbirths and severe birth defects - some not found in any medical books - are reported widely.

This explains why many public health scientists awaited the release of the WHO/MoH report on birth defects in Iraq.

The doctor continues her coverage at Salem-News, noting:

Another unusual and outrageous feature of this report is its anonymity. No author(s) are listed or identified. An anonymous report is rarely seen in epidemiological reporting given the multiple questions that often arise when interested readers examine complicated study designs, large data sets, and multiple analysis. Identification of corresponding authors is critical for the transparency and clarity of any report. Without author names and affiliations, without identified offices in the MoH, the reader must ask, who is responsible to answer for this report? To whom must the public direct their questions and concerns about this report?
The WHO has simultaneously broadcasted and vanished from this report.
The described methods of this report are not without fatal shortcomings. First and foremost, an epidemiologic study must clearly show that individuals who were selected for the study accurately represent the population of interest. To that end, methods must offer clear and justifiable criteria for the inclusion of individuals in the study, and for their exclusion from the study.
The methodology section of this report simply declares that the selection criteria were "determined by the Ministry of Health". The critical questions of "on what basis" and "why" remain unanswered. Selection criteria have major and critical influences on an epidemiological investigation and are universally expected to be fully discussed, even in short reports.
We cannot tell whether selection bias, a common problem in epidemiological studies, has occurred here. If it has, then the study is fully discredited. Based on information available in this report, we cannot rule out selection bias issues. The undisclosed criteria for recruitment of participants appears to have "included areas that had and had not been exposed to bombardment or heavy fighting."
The maps and tables in the report do not indicate which areas were exposed to bombardment or heavy fighting and which areas were not. Another fatal shortcoming of the report is that the exposed and unexposed populations remain unidentified throughout. How is a comparison between two population's rates of "spontaneous abortions", "stillbirths", or "congenital birth defects" possible if their exposure status is never described?

What happened?

The US government went after WHO and it wasn't pretty.  Nouri shared their interest in killing the report.  (He has remained silent on the birth defects epidemic since he first became prime minister.)  He bought off the Ministry of Health which then demanded that WHO not list them on the report.  For a change, the head of the ministry is not accused of lining their pockets.  Instead, Majeed Hamadaminie Jamil is said to be using the money to provide more clinics to in-need provinces. 

 The violence never stops in Iraq.  National Iraqi News Agency reports 3 Mosul bombings left three people injured, a Ramadi roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left another injured, an armed clash in Diyala left 1 militant dead, the Islamic Party's Dhafer al-Rawi was kidnapped in Rawa, 1 police officer was shot dead in KarbalaBrigadier General Ismail al-Jubouri was injured in an assassination attempt in Mosul (a suicide bomber detonated in the midst of the general's convoy), a Mosul bombing claimed the lives of 2 police officers and left a third injured, a Tikrit roadside bombing left two people injured, a Baghdad suicide bomber claimed the lives of 10 other people and left thirty injured, this morning 22 homes of "employees of the security services and the army in different areas south of Mosul" were blown up and last night four shops in Sheikh Hamid (to the north of Tikrit) were blown upAll Iraq News adds, "Two employees within the Shiite Shrines Directorate were killed when unidentified gunmen attacked the holy shrine of Imam Ahmed bin Musa al-Kadhim in Muqdadiya district."

The Kurdish Globe reminds the UN's death toll for last month was 800 Iraqis killed and that 5,000 have been killed so far this year.  Yesterday's violence claimed 67 lives according to Iraq Body Count which also notes 574 violent deaths for the month so far through yesterday.

While the violence continues, journalists in Iraq face more problems and no one seems to even notice.  An except for Ayad Allawi, no one seems too concerned.  

  1. أن سلب حق الاعلام في التعبير عن رأي الجماهير ظاهرة خطيرة وتتطلب عدم السكوت.
  2. أستنكر قرار الحكومة بأغلاق مكاتب في ، حيث أن هذه الخطوة تأتي في إطار تكميم الأفواه.
  3. The closure of the Baghdadia news channel conveys the government’s silencing policy.

The Tehran Times reports that "another group" of the Ashraf community has been resettled to Albania.  They don't specify how many but note that Albania had already taken in 159 members of the Ashraf community earlier. All Iraq News states 210 members were admitted to Albania.

Camp Ashraf housed a group of Iranian dissidents who were  welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. This is key and demands the US defend the Ashraf community in Iraq from attacks.  The Bully Boy Bush administration grasped that -- they were ignorant of every other law on the books but they grasped that one.  As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp repeatedly attacked after Barack Obama was sworn in as US President. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out."  Those weren't the last attacks.  They were the last attacks while the residents were labeled as terrorists by the US State Dept.  (September 28, 2012, the designation was changed.)   In spite of this labeling, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."  So the US has an obligation to protect the residents.  3,300 are no longer at Camp Ashraf.  They have moved to Camp Hurriyah for the most part.  A tiny number has received asylum in other countries. Approximately 100 were still at Camp Ashraf when it was attacked Sunday.   That was the second attack this year alone.   February 9th of this year, the Ashraf residents were again attacked, this time the ones who had been relocated to Camp Hurriyah.  Trend News Agency counted 10 dead and over one hundred injured.  Prensa Latina reported, " A rain of self-propelled Katyusha missiles hit a provisional camp of Iraqi opposition Mujahedin-e Khalk, an organization Tehran calls terrorists, causing seven fatalities plus 50 wounded, according to an Iraqi official release."  They were attacked again September 1st.   Adam Schreck (AP) reported that the United Nations was able to confirm the deaths of 52 Ashraf residents.  Shreck also noted when the last of the Ashraf residents left Camp Ashraf this month.



US Senator Robert Menendez issued a statement on the attack which included, "I hold the Iraqi government directly responsible to protect the community, to investigate this matter thoroughly, and to prosecute the perpetrators of this heinous act. I am deeply concerned for the seven hostages who were taken during this attack. The Iraqi government should act swiftly to determine their whereabouts and ensure their safety. There is added urgency for the global community, as well as for the United States, to help resettle this community outside of Iraq, and end this cycle of ongoing terror attacks."  Seven Ashraf hostages? Nouri's government denied they existed but they did and do. Last week, UNHCR issued the following statement:

These seven are all known by UNHCR to be asylum-seekers, and the agency hopes to have an opportunity to interview them. In light of the numerous and persistent reports over the past week that these individuals may be at risk of forced return to Iran, UNHCR calls upon the Government of Iraq to locate them, to ensure their physical security, and to safeguard them against return to Iran against their will.

US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher issued a statement noting them and the continued attacks on the Ashraf community.  He observed, "The refugees disarmed themselves with faith in U.S. Government guarantees of their safety. If we fail them, nobody will believe us again." The World Organisation Against Torture issued a statement and a call for action:

According to the information received, on 1st September 2013 seven Iranian exiles, members of the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI), an Iranian opposition group, were abducted from Camp Ashraf during an attack carried out by the Iraqi security forces, which also led to the death of 52 people and several injured[1]. The seven residents are: Ms. Fatemeh Tahoori, Ms. Vajihe Karbalaey, Ms. Mahnaz Azizi, Ms. Lila Nabahat, Ms. Zahra Ramezani, Ms. Fatema Sakhie and Mr. Mohammad Ratebi.  
According to the same information received, on 12th September 2013, Mr. Kamel Amin, Deputy of the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights, confirmed the arrest of seven members of the PMOI and announced that they are in the custody of the security forces.
OMCT is gravely concerned about the fate and safety of Ms. Fatemeh Tahoori, Ms. Vajihe Karbalaey, Ms. Mahnaz Azizi, Ms. Lila Nabahat, Ms. Zahra Ramezani, Ms. Fatema Sakhie and Mr. Mohammad Ratebi. OMCT urges the Iraqi authorities to immediately disclose their exact whereabouts and to guarantee their physical and psychological integrity at all times, in accordance with international human rights law.
OMCT fears that they may be forcibly returned to Iran, where they would be at risk of torture and other forms of ill-treatment. OMCT recalls to the Iraqi authorities the absolute prohibition of sending a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he or she would be in danger of being subjected to torture and other forms of ill-treatment or other serious human rights violations.
OMCT further urges the Iraqi authorities to immediately release them in the absence of valid legal charges that are consistent with international law and standards, or, if such charges exist, to bring them promptly before an impartial, independent and competent tribunal and guarantee their procedural rights at all times.
Action requested
Please write to the authorities in Iraq urging them to:
i.           Immediately disclose the exact whereabouts of Ms. Fatemeh Tahoori, Ms. Vajihe Karbalaey, Ms. Mahnaz Azizi, Ms. Lila Nabahat, Ms. Zahra Ramezani, Ms. Fatema Sakhie and Mr. Mohammad Ratebi;
ii.         Guarantee, in all circumstances, their physical and psychological integrity, including by not forcibly returning them to Iran, where they would be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment;
iii.        Order their immediate release in the absence of valid legal charges that are consistent with international law and standards, or, if such charges exist, bring them promptly before an impartial, independent and competent tribunal and guarantee their procedural rights at all times;
iv.        Guarantee unconditional access to all members of their family and their lawyers;
v.         Guarantee that they are examined by independent doctors and receive adequate medical care;
i.           Carry out a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the circumstances of these events, the results of which must be made public, in order to bring those responsible before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal and apply penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;
ii.         Ensure the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards.


Ø  Prime Minister, H.E. Nouri Kamil Al-Maliki, Email:;
Ø  Minister of Justice, H.E. Hassan al-Shammari, Ministry of Justice;
Ø  Minister of Human Rights, H.E. Mohammed Shia´al-Sudani, Ministry of Human Rights,
Ø  H.E Mr. Mohammad Sabir Ismail, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Iraq to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Email:, Fax. +41 22 733 03 26
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Iraq in your respective countries.

While they call for action, Iraq's Ambassador to the US is attempting to keep Iraq on the American   radar.  The Associated Press' Lara Jakes Tweets:

  1. CORRECTION: Twitter Q&A with Ambo to US is at 11a ET on WEDNESDAY

  2. Hamdulilah: Ambo to US won't let drop off the DC FP radar. Twitter Q&A with him baccher, 11a ET. Ahlan wah Salen!

Also planning to speak on Wednesday is Osama al-Nujaifi.  NINA explains:

Media Bureau of the Speaker of Parliament announced that Speaker Usama al-Nijaifi, plans to hold a press conference on Wednesday, Sep. 18, at the Parliament building. [. . .]  Political source sources said that in the press conference, Nijaifi will talk about his visits to each of Ankara and Tehran.

 Wednesday has become the day for political speeches in Iraq.  Haider Najm (Niqash) reports:

Did he really say that? In mid-August the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki decided to start giving a weekly, televised address to the nation. The idea is apparently modelled on the way the US president works. And al-Maliki’s most recent speech was all about his ideas to solve the Syrian crisis next door.

Al-Maliki’s initiative contained nine points. These involved calling for an immediate ceasefire in all of the Syrian territories as well as a halt to the supply of weapons and financial means to parties fighting in Syria. Al-Maliki also called for continued support of the United nations as it investigates the use of chemical weapons in Syria and rejected the idea of any overt, foreign interference in Syrian affairs.

Suffice to say, the initiative was roundly criticised by both locals and external parties. That is, if anybody even paid any attention to al-Maliki’s ideas – which are mostly considered completely impossible because of the complexity and pitch of the Syrian conflict. Even many Arabic-speaking television channels and commentators ignored it.

A source from inside one of the European embassies in Baghdad reported that his masters were not taking the suggested initiative seriously. Apparently the head of the embassy was told to procrastinate over a response.

And while Shalal Kado, a member of the Syrian Kurdish council, thought the initiative was a nice idea, he told NIQASH that: “everyone – the opposition, the Syrian government and all regional actors – are really only waiting for the response of the US or Russia”.

Only Iraq’s other neighbours, the Iranians, said anything nice about al-Maliki’s speech. Iranian media outlets praised al-Maliki’s “noble ideas” and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif who arrived in Baghdad on Sunday also seemed to support al-Maliki’s words, by making statements about “joint concerns with our Iraqi brothers on war-waging in the region”.

Yes, we're back on  Syria, Free Speech Radio News reported the latest today:

Dorian Merina:  The United Nations team investigating the alleged chemical weapons attack that took place in a Damascus suburb last month released a 38-page report on their findings today. Investigators concluded that chemical weapons were used on a relatively large scale in the August 21 attack against civilians, including children. The report cites evidence of Sarin in blood and urine samples of survivors, on surface-to-surface rockets and near the sites of the attacks.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon spoke to reporters today after meeting in a closed session of the Security Council.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: There must be accountability for the use of chemical weapons; any use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere is a crime. But our message today must be more than that: do not slaughter your people with gas. There must be also no impunity for the crimes being committed with conventional weapons.

Dorian Merina:  Ban Ki Moon also expressed concerns about arms flowing into the region as atrocities are committed by both sides. As fighting continued on the ground in Syria, the head of the International Commission of Inquiry Sergio Pinheiro addressed the UN Human Rights Council with similar concerns. He said neither side was respecting the rules of engagement during war.

Sergio Pinheiro:  Failure to bring about a settlement has allowed the conflict not only to deepen in its intransigence but also to widen-- expanding to new actors and to unimaginable crimes. Neither law nor decency has restrained the behavior of the parties. Influential states have an obligation to ensure that the parties to the conflict comply with the laws of war.

Dorian Merina:  Over the weekend, US and Russian negotiators reached an agreement on chemical weapon disarmament by the Syrian Regime. And the UN said it received documents from Syria on Saturday in its initial steps to join the 1992 Chemical Weapons ban treaty. But despite the diplomatic progress, Secretary of State John Kerry continued to warn of possible military action. He spoke from Paris along with the French and British foreign ministers.

 Tomorrow afternoon, Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to give a closed door briefing on Syria to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.   Manlio Dinucci (Workers World) notes, "The hammering by politicians and the corporate media about chemical weapons use in Syria, which, according to secret CIA “evidence” was used by government forces, has generated the widespread false impression that it is only Syria that now possesses such weapons and threatens the rest of the world with them. That’s the power of the weapon of mass distraction, which is able to focus public attention on a single point, making everything else vanish."  nefit.  Justin Raimondo ( reminds Barack hasn't tossed aside plans for war:

Anyone who thinks the US regime change operation in Syria is finished hasn’t been keeping up with the news.
Yes, the President and his interventionist advisors – notably Secretary of State John Kerry and US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power – have been rebuked by Congress and the American people: there will be no "shock and awe" over Damascus any time soon. The US military, for its part, has also signaled its displeasure at being asked to fight yet another futile Middle East war. Yet that hardly means the War Party has given up: far from it.

 Monday afternoon at the State Dept, spokesperson Marie Harf talked in circles:

 MS. HARF: Onto the business of the day. I have a brief statement at the top about an upcoming meeting Secretary Kerry will be having, and then we can move on from there.
On Thursday, September 19th, Secretary Kerry will host Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi for a bilateral meeting and working lunch as part of our regular consultations on a range of bilateral, regional, and global issues. While this meeting has been planned for some time, we do expect the Secretary and Foreign Minister to discuss current issues such as the DPRK and Syria.

QUESTION: When you say Syria, will that include the shape of a possible UN resolution?

MS. HARF: I don’t have anything further on that. The discussions are going on at the UN with our P-5 counterparts and with other folks as well.
Go ahead.

QUESTION: Can you tell us a little bit more about the six-month timeframe?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: How was that arrived at? And it seems sort of ambitious. Why do we have – why is it six months?

MS. HARF: Well, we clearly would not have agreed to a timeline if we didn’t believe it was achievable. And you’re right; it is an ambitious timeline, but we believe the situation is so serious that action needs to be taken as swiftly as possible on an accelerated timeline to destroy these weapons.
What’s happening next, I think maybe I should say at the top is this week a couple things will be happening, right at the beginning of the timeline. The Syrian Government will have to, within the week, give a list of their full chemical weapons stockpile, their full program to the OPCW. Within the same timeframe, the U.S. and Russia will also be submitting a request to the OPCW to expeditiously, on an accelerated timeline, move forward with destruction of these weapons. The OPCW will be making a decision on that request in the same timeframe as well.
So while that’s all happening with the OPCW in The Hague, there’s a UN process going on. I’m sure you all saw the UN report that was released today. We’re in consultations with our colleagues on the Security Council about a resolution and tabling text at the appropriate point.
So those are the next sort of parts of the timeframe. But you’re right; there is a broader timeframe that is ambitious but we believe is important to work towards because the situation is so serious.

QUESTION: Did somebody come up with that six months, or is it just arbitrary?

MS. HARF: Well, it was something that was agreed to between the U.S. and the Russian delegations in Geneva. So it was part of the discussions, the broad discussions about how to move forward with this agreement.

QUESTION: On the list, how are we going to know that that is a complete list?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Well, I would say a couple things. Clearly, this is going to be the first example of the intentions of the Syria regime, how serious they are. So we hope that it will be a complete listing of their --

QUESTION: How will we know?

MS. HARF: Well, we have an assessment of the Syrian regime’s stockpile. We and the Russians agreed to an assessment of the size of the Syrian regime’s stockpile. So we know what our information says about that, and we will take a look at their submission when they actually submit it to the OPCW.

QUESTION: But are you confident that your assessment is – captures the entire universe of Syrian chemical weapons?

MS. HARF: Well, we, as everyone knows, have ways to monitor their chemical weapons stockpile, and we have an assessment that our intelligence community has put together about the size and scale of the weapons. We’ll take a look at what the Syrians come to us with.
One part of the discussion in Geneva was exactly this: the assessments. So we’ll look at what they put on the table and we will continue working with them going forward. But I think a key point of the agreement is to get inspectors on the ground as soon as possible.

QUESTION: I mean, the --

MS. HARF: So we have an assessment about the program. But what we and the Russians agreed to was that inspectors needed to immediately be allowed access on the ground to look at the scope of the program as well.

QUESTION: The reason I asked the question --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- about whether you believed that your assessment or the intelligence community’s assessment is comprehensive --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- or captures everything is that it’s very hard to do that, as you well know --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- like with North Korea, and there was a long debate over whether they had a uranium enrichment program and how ample it was and so on. And if you’re not highly confident that you’ve captured everything, is it not quite conceivable that Syria would keep some chemical weapons hidden from you?

MS. HARF: Well, nobody’s debating whether they have a program, so I think that’s a little different than the comparison you tried to make there about whether a program existed or not. But setting that aside, we do have an assessment, and the U.S. and Russia agreed that they have a stockpile that includes chemical warfare agents. Taken together, we’ve judged that this is approximately a thousand metric tons of these agents and precursors.
So we’re putting our list of the possible sites on paper. The Syrian regime will be submitting a list as well. But one of the key parts of this is to ensure that we have the full scope of the program and we can, indeed, destroy all of it. That’s one of the challenges. But it’s an important enough issue that we believe we have to take it on and accept that challenge even though it’s going to be difficult.

Lastly, the Green Party of Michigan issued the following:

Ecological Wisdom      *  Social Justice
Grassroots Democracy  *  Non-Violence

Green Party of Michigan

**  News Release  **
**  ------------  **
  September 15, 2013

For More Information, Contact:
Derek Grigsby, GPMI Chair
    (313) 706-2985

John Anthony La Pietra, GPMI Platform Committee
    (269) 781-9478

Michigan Greens Urge Diplomatic and
Humanitarian Approaches to Syria Crisis
Call on State's Congressional Delegation to Reject
Unconstitutional, Counterproductive Military Attack

    The Green Party of Michigan (GPMI) is urging Michigan's two US
Senators and 14 US Representatives to reject President Obama's call for
authorization to make war on Syria (or war by any other name), and to
instead support diplomatic and humanitarian approaches to the crisis there.

    A statement adopted last week by GPMI's State Central Committee
(SCC) starts by simply saying, "War or actions of war do not bring
peace."  It opposes the use of any weapon of mass destruction, including
chemical weapons, and calls on every country that has such weapons to
destroy them.

    The statement calls the military attack still threatened by Obama,
Secretary of State John Kerry, and other US officials "illegal under
international law and counterproductive" -- and adds that it "could only
make things worse" in Syria.

    Syria does not need a "no fly" zone.  It needs a "no weaponizing"
    zone.  The White House and its allies need to stop arming one side
    of a civil war, and to persuade Russia to stop arming the other.
    Further escalating the violence will result in nothing that could
    outweigh the damage of that violence.

    Individual Michigan Greens have sent the statement -- along with
their own comments on the situation -- to their US Representatives and
to Senators Levin and Stabenow.  The positions of Michigan's House
delegation are a mixed bag, although both Senators have made public
statements in favor of military attacks.

    For Tom Mair of the Traverse Bay Watershed Greens, "The No. 1
concern brought on by the Syrian situation is the use of chemical
weapons.  Every country that has chemical weapons needs to destroy
theirs safely and that includes Syria and the rebels in Syria should
they have any chemical weapons.

    "An attack by the US on Syria will not change the use of chemical
weapons.  In fact, the Cruise missiles are said to have depleted uranium
on their warheads and on impact produce a fine dust that spreads
depleted uranium in the air and on the land.  Depleted uranium is a
deadly chemical," Mair points out.

    Linda Cree of the North Country Greens, a member of the Green
Party's  National Committee, adds:  "It makes no sense to bomb innocent
Syrians to send a message that we're opposed to Assad's alleged use of
chemical weapons.

    "To send Cruise missiles into Syria is only to add to the crimes
against humanity which most of the world sees us committing in our drone
attacks on Pakistan and other nations in the Middle East."

    Kevin Graves, a candidate for GPMI's nomination for governor in
2014, argues for a more positive approach in Syria -- starting with
"respectful cooperation of the major powers for judicious and peaceful
decisions made by the United Nations."  Even when the UN sends military
forces into a situation, he observes, they are known as "peacekeepers"
-- and building and keeping peace are what Syria needs.

    "Diplomacy is moving forward, however unintentionally stimulated by
remarks from Secretary of State Kerry which his own department labeled
purely rhetorical," adds GPMI Platform Committee chair John Anthony La
Pietra of Marshall.  "Now is the time to concentrate on getting weapons
out of Syria -- and humanitarian aid into the country and surrounding
areas impacted by the millions of refugees from the crisis."

    Bill Opalicky, the 2012 Green candidate for Michigan's 2nd
Congressional District seat, points out that taking the US into war
unilaterally would be against the Constitution -- and justify impeaching
Obama.  "As Martin Luther King noted in a similar context, silence would
be a betrayal."

    La Pietra agrees.  "Tuesday is Constitution Day -- an appropriate
time for Congress to take notice of President Obama's continued
insistence that he has a unilateral option to attack Syria regardless of
what the UN does, or how Congress votes.

    "And White House speechifying about the US as enforcer of
international law cannot hide the fact that a US attack on Syria,
unprovoked by an attack or threat from Syria, would be war as an
instrument of policy.  That is banned by many international agreements,
including the Kellogg-Briand Treaty -- not only signed by the US but
co-authored by its then-Secretary of State."

    Updated information on the positions taken in public statements by
Michigan's US Senators and Representatives on the question of
authorizing a US military attack on Syria can be found at

    For more information about the Green Party of Michigan, its values,
and its candidates, visit:

For GPMI's latest news, “like” the Green Party of Michigan USA Facebook
page and follow the party Twitter feed @MIGreenParty.

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Green Party of Michigan
PO Box 504
Warren, MI  48090-0504

    GPMI was formed in 1987 to address environmental
issues in Michigan politics.  Greens are organized
in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  Each
state Green Party sets its own goals and creates its
own structure, but US Greens agree on Ten Key Values:

    Ecological Wisdom
    Grassroots Democracy
    Social Justice
    Community Economics
    Respect for Diversity
    Personal/Global Responsibility
    Future Focus/Sustainability

For the latest news,
“like” the Green Party of Michigan USA Facebook page --
and follow us at Twitter:  @MIGreenParty.

 dahr jamail