Thursday, October 10, 2013

Iraq: The Wild West in the Middle East

Lawless and corrupt.  And we're not talking about the rebels, insurgents, militants or terrorists.  We're talking about the government of Iraq headed by chief thug and prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Tim Arango of the New York Times had an explosive report.  Possibly if Prashant Rao (AFP) hadn't been attending a wedding when it broke, it would have received some attention from other journalists.  But AFP struggles when he's gone.  Struggles badly. (As we've noted before their death count can sit idle for days if Prashant not in Baghdad.)  Prashant returned from his social function and didn't bother to check the news he'd missed.

Arango's report is the most important report on Iraq so far this year.  September 28th in print (27th online),  Tim Arango (New York Times) broke the story that Nouri al-Maliki (prime minister and chief thug of Iraq) is supporting Shi'ite militias  that are killing Sunnis.   Arango noted:

The group, which is backed by Iran and split off from the Sadrist movement several years ago and was responsible for many deadly attacks on the American military when it was here, has seen its political wing welcomed into the government by Mr. Maliki. And as the security forces have proved ineffective in stemming attacks by Sunni insurgent groups, the group’s armed unit, according to militiamen, is increasingly working in secret with the government.
“We don’t do anything until the government asks us,” said one of the group’s leaders, who gave his name as Abu Abdellah. “We have a direct connection with the leaders of the security forces.”
In supporting Asaib al-Haq, Mr. Maliki has apparently made the risky calculation that by backing some Shiite militias, even in secret, he can maintain control over the country’s restive Shiite population and, ultimately, retain power after the next national elections, which are scheduled for next year. Militiamen and residents of Shiite areas say members of Asaib al-Haq are given government badges and weapons and allowed freedom of movement by the security forces.       

Do you grasp that?  A New York Times 'arts' reporter who dabbles with reporting on Turkey didn't grasp it.  No one else appears to notice it.  When we again noted it in yesterday's snapshot, the public account was flooded with e-mails (call out a journalist and it will get attention) some of which insisted the story couldn't be true -- not that Tim Arango was making it up but that I was.  There was no report! 

No offense, but I can only work with so much.  If you're not functionally literate, don't e-mail this site.  Sorry to be rude but when we note " September 28th in print (27th online),  Tim Arango (New York Times) broke the story that Nouri al-Maliki" and you don't have the brains to click on the link to see if it's a real article, I really can't help you.  I don't know that anyone can.

Yes, the report exists and it damn well needs to be amplified.

If you're not familiar with Senator Patrick Leahy's work with regards to human rights and US government funding, you can [PDF format warning] click here and be taken to the US State Dept's site and the April 13, 2012 report entitled "Leahy Vetting: Law, Policy, Process."

All week, Bob Somerby's gotten his underwear in a twist insisting that reporters are failing on the shutdown because they're quoting both sides of the partisan divide and not telling readers what will happen.  Buy a f**king clue, Bob Somerby, reporters don't predict the future.  They can't look two weeks into the future and tell you what will happen.  If you can't grasp that, you're not much of a media critic.  Now they can quote experts or 'experts' predicting what might happen but even that requires the balance that you so deride.

Reality: The law is the law.

Meaning while Bob gets his drawers soiled and nasty, in the real world, where things are life and death, reporters are failing.

There is no question as to what the Leahy amendment says.  As the State Dept report notes in its opening:

Leahy Law (State) “ No assistance shall be furnished ... to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights. ”

Nouri arming and paying Shi'ite militias to kill Sunnis is a violation of the law -- of basic international law in fact.  It also requires that the US stop aid to the security forces in Iraq, per the Leahy Amendment.  Now that doesn't mean that it will happen.  (Most Democratic Senators I've spoken with this week fear a tantrum out of the White House.)  But that is the law. 

And reporters don't have to predict the future to note that the law was broken.

In Iraq, the US currently shares 'terrorist' information with Nouri and his forces, they also have the US Army's Special Ops doing counter-terrorism 'training' (especially with Nouri's thugs that make up his SWAT forces), they have last December's MOU -- that we covered at length while everyone except the Congressional Research Service spent 2013 ingnoring.

All of this aid has to be cut and new aid -- which Nouri's seeking in his visit to DC scheduled for the end of the month -- stopped under the Leahy Amendment.

Will it?

Probably not.  This is one of the most corrupt and lawless administrations that the US has recently seen -- I'm referring to Barack there, not Nouri.

John Kerry gabs about human rights without meaning it.  He pretends to be a shocked old woman while making dubious charges against Syria but stays silent as Sunnis are hunted in Iraq -- with the full approval, the open approval and backing of Nouri al-Maliki.

Are you bothered by the violence in Iraq?

Reality, there are no vacuums where people exist. 

Anything that takes place is a response or counter-response.  In Iraq, that means the violence breeds and thrives because Nouri has a lawless and violent government.

Back to the State Dept report.  The second thing it notes:

Leahy Law (Defense) “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to support any training program involving a unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of Defense has received credible information from the Department of State that the unit has committed a gross violation of human rights , unless all necessary corrective steps have been taken.” - DOD Appropriations Act for FY2012 (Div. A, P.L. 112 - 74), Sec. 8058

Is UNICEF no longer "credible"?  Is that what Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is attempting to maintain?

Because there is 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 have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported 53 dead for several days now -- indicating that some of the wounded did not recover.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

The slaughter is appalling.  But let's just zoom in on the 8 children.

Nouri's forces slaughtered 8 children.

That's when Hagel needs to pull the 'trainers' and the 'advisers' and others under DoD that remain in Iraq.  His failure to do so is not only a violation of the law, it's also gross abuse of human rights.

8 children were slaughtered in Iraq by Nouri's forces.

We were all appalled by Sunday's bombing of a school that killed children and it got massive US press coverage for Iraq.  It's still getting it in fact.

But when UNICEF issues a report on 8 children slaughtered by Nouri's forces, the US press looks the other way -- as they've done so many times before to support corrupt and abusive regimes backed by the White House -- East Timor, Cambodia, so many slaughters, so much bad history.

It can change.  You can make it change.

That won't happen by refusing to use links and e-mailing me that Tim Arango never reported what I'm quoting and linking to.  But that sort of stupidity may let you sleep in blind comfort at night.  It doesn't, however, do a damn thing to help the Iraqi people.

Nouri is lawless and a thug.  When that's what at the top of the government, it will breed violence and there will not be any peace.

The following community sites -- plus the Guardian,, Pacifica Evening News,  Jody Watley and Cindy Sheehan -- updated last night and this morning.

  • ---------------------
    Dona jumping into C.I.'s entry to add something.  Last night's theme posts  on favorite Bette Davis film?  Not all showing up because blogger/BlogSpot is playing catch up and RSS-feeding posts they ignored last week and the week prior.  So here are last night's community theme posts:

    "Old Acquaintance" (Ann)
    "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?" (Betty)
    "The Letter" (Trina)
    "beyond the forest" (Rebecca)
    "Dark Victory" (Ruth)
    "All About Eve" (Kat)
    "Jezebel" (Marcia)
    "Dead Ringer" (Stan)
    "Now, Voyager" (Elaine)
    "The Little Foxes" (Mike)

    Back to C.I.

    Reuters notes 42 people have been executed by the 'government' in Iraq this week.  On the topic of the death penalty, we'll close with this from the Center for Constitutional Rights (link to the report on the right -- permalinks -- does not work -- I'm pulling this from the e-mail to the public account, the links in it work so you can access the report that way):

    THE 2013 REPORT

    In May 2013, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) undertook a fact-finding mission in California and Louisiana to evaluate the death penalty as practiced and experienced in these jurisdictions under a human rights framework. The mission examined whether the death penalty was being applied in a discriminatory manner, and if the conditions on death row met the U.S.’s obligation to prevent and prohibit torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

    The mission interviewed death-row prisoners, exonerees and their family members, advocates, legal counsel, and non-governmental organizations in both states, analyzing the information gathered against the backdrop of international human rights law. Based on the interviews conducted and documentary review, the mission concludes that the use of the death penalty in California and Louisiana fails to protect a number of basic rights, rendering the United States in breach of certain fundamental international obligations. Specifically, the mission finds California and Louisiana violate the principle of non-discrimination in the charging, conviction and sentencing of persons to death. Both states treat prisoners condemned to death in a manner that is, at minimum, cruel, inhuman or degrading, and in some cases, constitutes torture.

    “Everything here is about death. . . . The thought of being executed, you don’t ever get used to that.”

    -- Kevin Cooper
    prisoner on death row

    The e-mail address for this site is