Saturday, July 06, 2013

More violence including attacks on bars and social clubs in Baghdad

Fred Mann (Wichita Eagle via Kansas City Star) reports on the efforts to keep Osama Jamal Abdallah Mahdi from being executed in Iraq.  His Iraqi-American uncle Musadik Mahdi is pleading for help from the US government (specifically Senator Pat Roberts and US House Rep Mike Pompeo) to prevent his 32-year-old nephew from being executed.  The offense is a November 26, 2008 bombing which claimed the life of "an Iraqi army officer."

You knew it wasn't a journalist because there's no effort to solve those crimes.  But let one of Nouri's thugs with guns get killed and suddenly, it's time for an uproar.  Osama Jamal Abdallah Mahdi was arrested January 15, 2010 for the crime which he denied committing.  He was tortured and forced to confess -- this is not open to dispute, Amnesty International's examination found multiple torture wounds -- at his hearing he noted he was forced to confess and attempted to withdraw his confession but the judge refused to let him.  There were no eyewitnesses to offer testimony and only Osama's forced confession and the confession of a man who was originally charged (but, in exchange for a life sentence and not the death penalty, the man testified against Osama) link him to the murder.  The judge refused to receive the proof provided by Osama's "boss at an oil refinery near the Green Zone in Baghdad [which] provided proof" Osama was at work when the bombing took place.

In April,  Amnesty International released a  report entitled [PDF format warning] " Death Sentences and Executions in 2012" which finds the five countries executing the most people are China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United States. The report notes there were at least 129 executions in Iraq last year.  From the report:

A stark rise in executions was reported in Iraq, making it the country with the third highest number of executions in the world and with the biggest rise in confirmed executions from 2011.  At least 129 people were executed, almost twice the known total for 2011 (at least 68) and the highest figure since 2005.  Executions were often carried out in batches, with up to 34 in a single day.  At least five women were executed, and at least two were sentenced to death.  Amnesty International recorded at least 81 new death sentences in total, but the real figure is possibly in the hundreds.  According to government statistics, death sentences numbered between 250 and 600 in each of the previous five years.  Most death sentences were imposed for terrorism-related offences, others for murder.  All death sentences are automatically reviewed by Iraq's Court of Cassation, and then need to be ratified by the presidency before an execution can be carried out.  Hundreds of people remained on death row with ratified death sentences; they could be executed at any time.
Abid Hamid Mahmoud, Saddam Hussain's presidential secretary and bodyguard, was executed by hanging on 7 June.  He had been sentenced to death in 2010 by the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal (SICT) together with Tariq Aziz, the former Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, and Sadoun Sahkir, the former Interior Minister.  All three were convicted of participating in the crackdown on opposition political activitsts under Saddam Hussain.  Tariq Aziz and Sadoun Shakir remain at risk of imminent execution.  On 16 December, Iraqi Vice-President Tareq al-Hashemi, now in exile in Turkey, and his son-in-law Ahmed Qahtan, were sentenced to death in absentia for possession and use of weapons.  These were their fifth respective death sentences in 2012, with the others imposed for terrorism-related offences.
Many trials of those sentenced to death failed to meet international standards for fair trials, including the use of "confessions" obtained under torture and other ill-treatment.  Defendants described how they suffered systematic torture while in detention, including being beaten with cables, burned on the face with cigarettes, and given electric shocks to the hands, wrists, fingers, ankles and feet, or were left in a room with water on the floor while an electric current was applied to the water.  But courts continued to include "confessions", even if formally withdrawn, as part of the evidence when handing down a sentence.  Some Iraqi television stations broadcast these self-incriminating "confessions" before the opening of a trial.
Four Iraqi men, Nabhan 'Adel Hamdi, Mu'ad Muhammad 'Abed, 'Amer Ahmad Kassar and Shakir Mahmoud 'Anad, were sentenced to death on 3 December, for membership of an armed group and involvement in terrorism-related offences, after an unfair trail in Anbar, western Iraq.  They were reported to have been tortured after their arrest, while being held incommunicado for several weeks at the Directorate of Counter-Crime in Rmadi, the capital of Anbar province.  Their "confessions" were then broadcast on local television channel, al-Anbar, on 24 and 25 April.  When brought to trial, they told the Anbar Criminal Court that they had been forced under torture to "confess." Witness testimony from fellow detainees and photographs of some of the men's injuries supported their allegations.  The medical examination of one of the men also revealed burns and other injuries consistent with torture.  No investigation into their torture allegations is known to have been held.

 Maybe the administration could do something to help Osama Jamal Abdallah Mahdi?

Very unlikely.  In a State Dept press briefing April 9th, spokesperson Patrick Ventrell was asked about the huge increase in the number of executions and how basic standards of justice were not being met and Ventrell responded, "I'd have to look into seeing what contacts we may have raised human rights concerns."  And if he bothered to look, he failed to note it in any follow up briefing.

Hopefully, international attention on Osama Jamal Abdallah Mahdi will increase and this will force the courts to reconsider the verdict.  If not, he'll become just the latest victim of the violence in Iraq -- a great deal of which is state-carried out violence.

Through Friday, Iraq Body Count counts 155 people killed in violence so far this month.  So the first five days saw an average of 31 deaths a day.  Today?   National Iraqi News Agency notes a Tirkit bombing claimed the lives of 2 police officers and left five people -- "including a judge" -- injured, a Mosul armed clash left 1 bystander killed and another injured, an attack on a Ramadi police checkpoint left two police officers injured, a Kirkuk bombing killed 2 men and 2 women, a Falluja motorcycle drive-by left 1 person dead, assailants stormed a Khalis store and killed the owner, a Falluja car drive-by left 1 person dead, an armed attack on a Falluja checkpoint (guns, grenades) left two police officers injured, a Mosul home invasion left 1 contractor dead (it was his home) and his sister injured, and 3 power towers were bombed in Anbar Province.  That's 11 reported dead and 11 reported injured.

Meanwhile Al Mada reports that armed men in SUVs are yet again storming Baghdad social clubs and bars to threaten patrons and owners in an attempt to force them to close down.

If that seems familiar, there's a reason.  From the  the September 5th snapshot:

In other violence,  Alsumaria reports that armed forces in police uniforms attacked various social clubs in Baghdad yesterday, beating various people and firing guns in the air.  They swarmed clubs and refused to allow anyone to leave but did make time to beat people with the butss of their rifles and pistols, they then destroyed the clubs.  AFP adds, "Special forces units carried out near-simultaneous raids at around 8:00 pm (1700 GMT) on Tuesday 'at dozens of nightclubs in Karrada and Arasat, and beat up customers with the butts of their guns and batons,' said an interior ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity. 'Artists who were performing at the clubs were also beaten,' the official said."  The assaults were ordered by an official who reports only to Nouri al-Maliki. In related news the Great Iraqi Revolution posted video Friday of other attacks on Iraqi civilians by security forces and noted, "Very important :: a leaked video show Iraqi commandos during a raid to Baaj village and the arrest of all the young men in the village .they threatened the ppl of the village they will make them another Fallujah and they do not mind arresting all village's men and leave only women . they kept detainees in a school, and beating them, u can see they burned a car of one of the citizens"

September 6h, Alsumaria noted that Iraqiya, led by Ayad Allawi, has called out the assault on the social clubs and states that it is violation of the Constitution as well as basic human rights.  Iraqiya spokesperson Maysoun al-Damalouji called on the security forces to respect the rights of the citizens.  Tamim al-Jubouri (Al Mada) added that the forces working for Nouri attacked many clubs including Club Orient which was established in 1944 and that the patrons including Chrisitans who were surprised Tuesday night when Nouri's forces entered and began breaking furniture, beat patrons and employees and stole booze, cell phones and clothing.  So they're not only bullies, they're also theives.  Kitabat explained that the people were attacked with batons and gun butts including a number of musicians who were performing live in the club including singer Hussein Basri.  Alsumaria added that the Baghdad Provincial Council states that they were not informed of the assaults on social clubs.  September 13th, Mustafa Habib (Niqash) reports:
Unexpected raids on Baghdad's bars, as well as beaten customers, shocked locals last week. But it's not just drinkers who are upset. Activists say it's the government's latest plan to curb personal freedoms while MPs pondering re-election in the mainly-Muslim nation haven't said a word.   
Last week, government security forces raided a number of clubs, bars and other establishments in Baghdad without warning, closing many of them by force that same night. The clubs seem to have been targeted both because they were selling alcohol and because they hosted known intellectual cliques. As a result, the attack has raised serious fears of an attack on personal freedoms and concerns that Islamic parties are trying impose their religious ideology on other Iraqis.
Although Iraq is a mainly Muslim nation and Islam forbids the consumption of alcohol, there are also diverse minorities in Iraq and many of these allow alcohol drinks; often members of these groups will be the ones that run bars or liquor stores.  
And on September 4, a number of clubs, bars and restaurants in the affluent Baghdad neighbourhoods of Karrada and Arasat were raided. Many of the patrons on the night – and this included members of the security forces and other officials – were injured or beaten as a result.
 One eyewitness told NIQASH that the raiders had been violent. "They were brutal," he said. "They entered and told us all to get out immediately. They then went around smashing everything up, including tables and chairs. And then those who were guarding the entrance started beating the people who were trying to leave with sticks and their rifle butts."
Ahmed al-Utabi, a well-known poet, was at the Writer's Union Club when it was stormed by security forces. "At first, we thought there was a bomb or an explosive device inside the club and that was why the security forces asked us to leave," al-Utabi said. "Then we were really surprised to see them smashing everything up inside the club."

These attacks in the past usually occurred while attacks against Iraq's LGBT community were being carried out so we may soon find out that awful practice is returning as well.

Another constant problem for Iraq is the lack of potable (drinking) water.  Alsumaria notes that Basra is currently building an irrigation canal with the hope that it will be able to provide the province with drinking water.  The news comes the same week that All Iraq News reported 50 people in Diwaniyah Province's Shamiyah district had been poisoned with an unnamed al-Diwaniyah Health Directorate source stating, "The citizens were poisoned due to the spread of chlorine material from one of the water projects where they were transported to the hospital for treatment."

In other news, Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani is scheduled to visit Baghdad tomorrow.  NINA reports he is expected to meet with Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.  Al Mada adds that he is also scheduled to meet with a group from Moqtada al-Sadr's movment to discuss common goals.  Alsumaria observes that the relationship between the KRG and Baghdad has been strained for some time as a result of disputes over the budget, oil, disputed areas, the Peshmerga and other issues.  'Other issues' should include The Erbil Agreement because, since the summer of 2011, the Kurds have been calling (along with Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqiya) for Nouri to implement The Erbil Agreement that all political blocs in Iraq signed off on in November of 2010.

In the US, there's been little but silence to last week's remarks by Gen Martin Dempsey that the US would be sending more troops back into Iraq -- remarks made at a public press conference at the Pentagon.  Last night, Dale McFeatters (Chicago Sun Times) may have become the first US columnist to write of it:

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, has recommended that U.S. commanders find ways to improve Iraq’s military capabilities. This would involve additional weapons and training and, although neither government would say so publicly, some level of U.S. involvement in operations.
The language accompanying the proposal suggests that it is a done deal. We could hardly let the Iraqis say they were open to military cooperation with the U.S., an embarrassing admission in itself, and then humiliate them by slapping down the offer.

Maybe others will follow suit?  Maybe not.

The following community sites -- plus, Adam Kokesh, Tavis Smiley, Pacifica Evening News, ACLU and  Iraq Inquiry Digest -- updated last night and today:

The e-mail address for this site is


iraq iraq iraq iraq iraq iraq

I Hate The War

Why, oh, why, didn't I note this NBC News report by Ian Johnston and Alex Stambaugh?  Three e-mails lament that I missed it.

I didn't miss it, I just didn't care.  Paul Bremer is painting.  And?  The 'art' is bland and boring.  It's actually rather barbaric in certain instances (notes how he handles corners).  We've called out Paul Bremer plenty of times and will call him out again, I'm sure, but I really wasn't interested in his painting, sorry.  A point could have been made that millions of Iraqis are dead and many millions more severely wounded and cannot dabble in painting the way Bremer does. 

That said, I've never felt the need to take on Bully Boy Bush's painting either.

Given the choice to having either man painting or in a position where they are making life-and-death decisions, I gladly choose to have them painting.  Outside of a few patrons and critics, no one suffers from their paintings.

Also true, while Bremer needs to be held accountable for his actions, he's been held accountable for the actions of others.  Press favorite Colin Powell began trashing Bremer non-stop in 2004 to the press who ran with the trashing but never put Saint Colin's name to it.  Colin is a bitch.  That's all he's ever been, that's all he ever will be.  His career is a joke and the only reason it was ever elevated was because of the press.  He knew how to court them.  And when the Iraq War was obviously going wrong -- though the press still wouldn't admit it -- Colin knew the press had to hang it on someone and began feeding Bremer to the wolves.

Bremer is not innocent of misdeeds and crimes in Iraq.  But Bremer has also been held accountab le for the actions of Bully Boy Bush and Colin Powell as a result of Powell's efforts with journalists.  So if I'm going to note Bremer, it's going to be for a serious issue (that he's responsible for) and not to engage in the never-ending dog pile.

I'm also not interested in people writing about Jessica Lynch today that smear her falsely as a liar.  Jessica Lynch did not lie to the press about what happened.  She could have.  The US government had already done so.  Instead, she showed bravery and character at a time when few stood up to Bully Boy Bush.  She told the truth.  So if you're a writer who wants to talk about lies -- say Chilcot Inquiry -- and you bring up the lies told about Jessica Lynch (told by the US government) but you never note that she publicly rejected those lies then I really don't have any use for you, your 'reporting' or your 'commentary.'  Speaking of commentary, before looking over notes on the e-mails this week, I had planned to take on Michael Rubin's latest on Iraq at the right-wing Commentary.  Due to another complaint from e-mails to the public account (community members e-mail the private e-mail address so complaints to the public account are from visitors or drive-bys), we have no room for Rubin.  But I will give him a link -- even though I disagree with basically everything he's written in the column.

Another complaint in the e-mails to the public account is that I ignored the big news about the wedding this week?  Wait, we covered the groom killed at his own wedding -- his bride injured as well as many of their guests -- due to a bombing.  That's what I told Shirley Friday when she was passing on the complaints.

No, not that wedding.  That wedding didn't even register apparently.  A real shame and a sign of just how violent Iraq still is that what should have resulted in its own individual report by various news agencies was instead only reported on by National Iraqi News Agency

The wedding that had visitors complaining was the 92-year-old man who married a 22-year-old woman.

Here's an example of the story that won't die.

I'm not really sure why this is of interest -- especially when contrasted with a wedding that was bombed and that left the bride injured and the groom dead.

People fall in love for various reasons.  Is someone doubting that the two are in love? 

I have no idea.

Already one nasty comment left at the article runs to the bedroom.

The bedroom really isn't the only issue in a marriage.

Considering the age difference, I would guess the bedroom was a minor issue in the marriage.  I could be very wrong on that guess and they could have a very lively sex life.  Whatever they have, good for them.

There's no indication that either was forced into the marriage.  92 is an adult as is 22 so they hopefully married because they wanted to and saw some future together. 

If people are worried about the young woman being exploited, I would guess that, on average, a woman's less likely to be exploited by a 92-year-old male.  If people are worried that she's a gold digger, the man's a farmer.  Presumably, he makes a good living but he's not Iraq's answer to Howard Hughes.

It's rather telling what passes for news.  Two adults marry and news agency (and some visitors of this site) think their age difference makes it news.  Two adults try to marry but a bombing disrupts their wedding and the same outlets can't report that.

A groom is killed, the bride and 12 guests are left injured equals "not news"?

The reality is that the wedding bombing was news.

The wedding of the 22-year-old to the 92-year-old is not news.  It being passed off as news speaks to a prurient impulse in the news media (and the news consumers), a need for 'scandal' and 'shock' over reality.  We can apparently pretend to be outraged that a young woman is taking an old man for a ride or that an old man has trapped a young woman (there's no indication that either has happened) because we can handle (and stage manage) pretend emotions.  But the very real emotions that would arise from addressing the bombing of the Mosul wedding is just too much for our news industry these days.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4488.

The e-mail address for this site is

Friday, July 05, 2013

Iraq snapshot

Friday, July 5, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, protesters are attacked in Iraq, the press largely ignores it, Nouri's control over Iraqi forces isn't as strong as he would hope, Moqtada and his parliamentary bloc continue to call out the US, Ed Snowden may have sanctuary, Venezuela really celebrates its independence,  Barack is revealed as impotent on the world stage in so many ways, and more.

Since December 21st, Fridays in Iraq have meant protests.  The actions have been going on now for over six months.  The western media has largely ignored the attacks.  That happened again today as many outlets -- including the BBC -- wrote about 'big violence' that was only two more dead than an attack on the protesters.  But western outlets like the BBC ignored the bombing targeting the protesters.  This happens every week.  You'd think six months of dedication on the part of the Iraqi people would translate into coverage but the western media's not interested in Iraq.

Today saw protesters stand up yet again.   Iraqi Spring MC notes people turned out in Falluja, in Baiji, in Samarra, and in Ramadi (where Nouri's SWAT forces were out in full force and arrested some attempting to protest).   Falluja, Al Mada reports, is where speakers announced that the government thinks the observation of the month of Ramadan will disrupt the protests but the protesters and their will will not be broken. 

 The protesters were attacked most obviously in Sammara.  Iraqi Spring MC Tweeted about what took place:

: حسب شهود عيان السيارة كان يقودها احد عناصر القوات الحكومية وكان يروم ركنها لكنها انفجرت به

That's the remains of a car bombing that targeted Samarra's protest today and the Tweet notes that eye witnesses saw one of Nouri's forces in the car.  Pakistan's Daily Times notes, "The bomber wore an army uniform, police said."

Alsumaria reports that the preachers in the province (Salahuddin) are saying that the security failed the protesters.   All Iraq News reports that  12 people are dead from the Samarra bombing and another nineteen are injured.  NINA notes the Motahidoon Alliance denounced the attack on the sit-in and termed the attack, "continuation of the attempts to silence the voices opposing the Government's unjust and forceful trend. [. . . ] The peoples' will cannot be defeated, and the martyres' blood is a force that keeps the protestors moving to the end of the road of reform."  The Motahidoon Alliance is part of Iraqiya and it is led by Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.   Kareem Raheem and Janet Lawrence (Reuters) report :

Protest organiser Adnan Al-Muhanna called on Sunnis to take to the streets daily and follow the example of Egyptians.
Egypt's first freely elected president Mohamed Mursi was toppled on Wednesday after the army intervened following mass demonstrations against his rule, a year after the Islamist was sworn into office.
"Demonstrations can make the change. Neither elections nor weapons can do that," Muhanna said. "Within one year, the Egyptians changed the Mursi regime through demonstrations because they were well-organized."

In other violence, NINA notes police shot 2 suspects dead in Hawija, a Kut car bombing claimed 1 life and left seventeen injured, an armed attack to the south of Falluja left two people injured,  and armed attack in Falluja left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and another injured as well as one police officer injuredMu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports, "The deadliest attack was in the Qurait area in northern Baghdad, where 14 people were killed and 31 others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a Shi'ite mosque during the evening pray, a local police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.Reuters states that the suicide bomber was a woman.  In addition, NINA notes a Baghdad car bombing claimed 1 life and left nine more people injured.

Yesterday saw at least 14 deaths and at least thirty-four injured.  Three of the dead?  Doctors killed in Baghdad. 

All Iraq News noted that  the Parliament's Health and Environment Committee "discussed several amendments on Physicians Protection Law preparing for a vote to be endorsed by Parliament."  Alsumaria added that Moqtada al-Sadr declared these attacks cannot be allowed, called for an immediate investigation into the attacks on the three doctors and declared that Iraq cannot allow the hands of terrorism to target and impair the medical community."  If you missed it, recent violence has required Iraq to utilize hospitals in other countries.  The "brain drain" in the early years of the war has not been repaired and has left Iraq without a sufficient number of medical providers.  Nouri's been prime minister for seven years now.  Why the hell he didn't implement fast track programs of training is a question the Iraqi people should be demanding answers to.  Instead, he continues to try to pad out Iraq's medical community by importing nurses from other countries.  At a time when Iraqis face massive unemployment and with all the billions Iraq sits on, there was plenty of time, plenty of people to start up a nursing program that could have turned out LVNs and RNs very quickly and had them working in the hospitals instead of importing nurses into the country.

Iraq can't afford more violence aimed at doctors.  That's what Moqtada's smart enough to grasp although it escapes Nouri.  A second brain drain is possible.  Violence is again increasing in Iraq.  Today, 3 doctors were killed in Baghdad.  This is the sort of thing that can lead to a panic.  If you're a doctor in Iraq and you've told yourself things will get better, you've said you want to honor the Iraqi people and you've stayed?  The violence has never ended and at some point -- when doctors are being targeted again -- you have to ask yourself exactly how much longer you can wait for the violence to end?  For some, it won't take much to push them out of Iraq at this point.

Meanwhile  All Iraq News reports today, "MP, Iqbal al-Ghurabi, of al-Ahrar bloc within the Sadr Trend called to close the US Embassy in Iraq due to its interference in the Iraqi internal affairs."  This is not an isolate remark but part of a series of responses from Moqtada and his Sadr bloc.

Sunday,  All Iraq News reports cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr issued a response to a question in which he declared Iraq's next prime minister will not conduct business with the occupying US.  He states, "We will nominate a Prime Minister who loves Iraq and Iraqis and will not deal with the US occupiers to let down Iraq and its honor -- and will not let the USA possess its wealth."  This is said to be in response to statements US Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Beecroft recently made.  Dropping back to last Friday's snapshot:

Al Rafidayn reports that the US Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Beecroft met with the Iraqi media and answered questions.  Among them, a new Iraqi prime minister?  Parliamentary elections are scheduled for 2014.  Beecroft stated it is the job and right of the Iraqi people to pick their leaders and the US is prepared to have a diplomatic relationship with any Iraqi chosen to represent the people.  He refused to speculate on any particular person.  He was asked about the F-16 fighters and stated that they would not be delivered until September 2014.

 Ali Abedl Sadah (Al-Monitor) reported yesterday:

In a statement distributed to the media, Sadr said, “We will nominate as a candidate a prime minister who loves Iraqis and whom they love. He will not be hated by non-believers, and will show modesty in dealing with believers. He will be one of them.” He continued, “The prime minister ... will not deal with the unrighteous occupier, in order to give Iraq prestige, independence, dignity and honor.”
"The Americans," he said, "will not be able to manipulate the fate, rights, wealth and souls in Iraq again.” Sadr then addressed the US ambassador, saying, “Your threat will not be useful. Deal with us however you wish ... We will deal with [the Americans] in ways that you have never seen before.”
The Mahdi Army, an armed branch of Sadr's movement, engaged in bloody armed combat with American forces from 2004 to 2007. However, things changed after Sadr decided to freeze his fighters’ activity and senior officials close to the movement confirmed in 2008 that the movement would turn to political action. Yet Sadr's recent remarks directed at the US ambassador indicate that he desires to rise to power after the 2014 parliamentary elections.
Tariq Kikhany, a leading figure of Sadr's movement, said, “Our political weight grew from 2003 until the April 2013 provincial elections." In a phone interview with Al-Monitor, Kikhany said, “For the 2006 to 2010 term, the movement won 30 seats. The number of seats, however, increased to 41 for the current term.”

 Some who dismiss Moqtada will dismiss his statements as idle threats.  They'd do well to remember the rumors that, in the fall of 2010, the Iranian government stated they would back Moqtada as the next prime minister of Iraq and that he should just go along with them now on Nouri al-Maliki.

Nouri can't hold on forever.  He can't even hold onto his security forces.  Dropping back to the June 13th snapshot:

 Jason Ditz ( notes:

The Iraqi military’s violent attacks on Sunni Arab protesters weren’t the panacea that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was expecting them to be, but it also cost the army 1,070 troops, according to officials.
The troops, ethnic Kurds, mutinied when they were ordered to attack a Sunni Arab town where protests were taking place, and then refused to attend “disciplinary re-training” meant to ensure that they wouldn’t hesitate to attack Iraqi towns if ordered in the future.

AFP reports that Tuz Khurmatu Mayor Shallal Abdul explains the troops are still in their same positions, they're just now working for and paid by the Peshmerga -- the elite Kurdish fighting force.

At Niqash yesterday, Shalaw Mohammed elaborated on this development:

Hundreds of Kurdish soldiers recently deserted from the Iraqi army. Were they responding to government injustice - or getting on side with others of their own ethnicity? And what does this mean for the Iraqi army? Can it still be relied upon?

The hundreds of Iraqi Kurdish soldiers who deserted the Iraqi army recently indicate once again the depth of ethnic and sectarian divisions in Iraq’s armed forces. According to information obtained by NIQASH, dozens of Iraqi Kurdish soldiers deserted when the Iraqi Ministry of Defence ordered members of the Iraqi army’s 16th Brigade and 12 Iraqi Kurdish officers to move from the disputed town of Tuz Khormato in the Salahaddin province – currently declared a disaster zone after multiple bomb blasts - to other duties a little further south, and mostly to the town of Sulaiman Bek, where Sunni-Arab protestors had become violent; in fact, gunmen took control of the town for several days.

“Our mission is to serve in the disputed areas,” Captain Recot Mohammed, the spokesperson for the 16th Brigade, told NIQASH. “So when we were given the order to move from Tuz Khormato without any apparent justification, we threatened to desert.”

And it’s not just the Iraqi Kurdish who have problems with these kinds of orders. “There are signs that the Iraqi army can no longer cope with a crisis in which it is confronting large fractions of the Iraqi population,” wrote a European peace-activist think tank with a special focus on Iraq, the Brussels Tribunal, in a roundup of events after anti-government protestors were killed by the Iraqi army earlier this year. “Many soldiers prefer to desert the army rather than shoot at protesters. Most deserters are Sunni, but some are Shia who don’t want to fight in strange places for something they don’t believe in.”

As Nouri finds the forces less than eager to help him become the new Saddam Hussein, the US remains in Iraq -- diplomatically and militarily.    Yesterday, Donna Gorman (Huffington Post) wrote of her husband year long deployment with the State Dept in Iraq which began this morning:

Our youngest child, 5-year-old Ainsley, has taken it the hardest. She snuck into our bedroom last night, as per usual, threw her arms around her daddy and said, "I don't want you to die in Baghdad, daddy."
What the what? She's 5. Let me tell you, neither of us was quite sure how to respond to that small trauma. We didn't think she even understood that he was leaving, let alone sophisticated enough to process the fact that we're sending him into harm's way. We knew it was going to be hard on our sons, who are 13 and almost 10, and who know exactly what's going on in Iraq and in the region. We figured our 7-year-old daughter might have some questions for us: After all, she's still traumatized by the duck-and-cover that we lived through here at the Embassy in Jordan just two years ago. But Ainsley? We didn't even try to explain it to her.
Explain to the other kids, yes. They all know their daddy is a policeman of sorts -- a federal agent with the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service. They usually see him in a suit and tie, but they've also seen him dressed in his federal agent gear. They've seen his office, with its cool gadgets and photos of him and his colleagues at work. They've eavesdropped on many a dinner conversation and phone call, when riots and shootings and all manner of bad guys are discussed. And of course they've seen him run out the door in a hurry when some emergency crops up. So, they know what he does for a living, and they are proud of his work. But I didn't realize, not until that late night comment from my baby, that even she understands the risks he is about to face because of his job.

That's the diplomatic aspect of the ongoing US mission.  The military aspect?   Dropping back to the April 30th Iraq snapshot:

December 6, 2012, the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department Defense of the United States of America was signed.  We covered it in the December 10th and December 11th snapshots -- lots of luck finding coverage elsewhere including in media outlets -- apparently there was some unstated agreement that everyone would look the other way.  It was similar to the silence that greeted Tim Arango's September 25th New York Times report which noted, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions.  At the request of the Iraqi government, according to [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."

So last fall saw another Special Ops unit go into Iraq and the end of the year saw a new military agreement allowing for joint US and Iraq patrols in Iraq. From the December 11th snapshot:

In yesterday's snapshot, we covered the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department of Defense of the United States of America.  Angry, dysfunctional e-mails from Barack-would-never-do-that-to-me criers indicate that we need to go over the Memo a little bit more.  It was signed on Thursday and announced that day by the Pentagon.   Section two (listed in full in yesterday's snapshot) outlines that the two sides have agreed on: the US providing instructors and training personnel and Iraq providing students, Iraqi forces and American forces will work together on counterterrorism and on joint exercises.   The tasks we just listed go to the US military being in Iraq in larger numbers.  Obviously the two cannot do joint exercises or work together on counterterrorism without US military present in Iraq.
This shouldn't be surprising.  In the November 2, 2007 snapshot -- five years ago -- we covered the transcript of the interview Michael R. Gordon and Jeff Zeleny did with then-Senator Barack Obama who was running in the Democratic Party's primary for the party's presidential nomination -- the transcript, not the bad article the paper published, the actual transcript.  We used the transcript to write "NYT: 'Barack Obama Will Keep Troops In Iraq'" at Third.  Barack made it clear in the transcript that even after "troop withdrawal" he would "leave behind a residual force."  What did he say this residual force would do?  He said, "I think that we should have some strike capability.  But that is a very narrow mission, that we get in the business of counter terrorism as opposed to counter insurgency and even on the training and logistics front, what I have said is, if we have not seen progress politically, then our training approach should be greatly circumscribed or eliminated."
This is not withdrawal.  This is not what was sold to the American people.  Barack is very lucky that the media just happened to decide to take that rather explosive interview -- just by chance, certainly the New York Times wasn't attempting to shield a candidate to influence an election, right? -- could best be covered with a plate of lumpy, dull mashed potatoes passed off as a report.  In the transcript, Let-Me-Be-Clear Barack declares, "I want to be absolutely clear about this, because this has come up in a series of debates: I will remove all our combat troops, we will have troops there to protect our embassies and our civilian forces and we will engage in counter terrorism activities."
So when the memo announces counterterrorism activies, Barack got what he wanted, what he always wanted, what the media so helpfully and so frequently buried to allow War Hawk Barack to come off like a dove of peace.

For those who struggle with reality, you can refer to  the US Congressional Research Service published "Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights."  The report was written by Kenneth Katzman.  We'll note the part on the MoU:

Reflecting an acceleration of the Iraqi move to reengage militarily with the United States, during December 5-6 2012, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller and acting Under Secretary of State for International Security Rose Gottemoeller visited Iraq and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with acting Defense Minister Sadoun Dulaymi.  The five year MOU provides for:

* high level U.S.-Iraq military exchanges
* professional military education cooperation
* counter-terrorism cooperation
* the development of defense intelligence capabilities
* joint exercises

The MOU appears to address many of the issues that have hampered OSC-I from performing its mission to its full potential.  The MOU also reflects some of the more recent ideas put forward, such as joint exercises.

Hopefully, that's clear to even the most delusional member of the Cult of St. Barack.  And all that was before  last week's news about General Martin Dempsey (Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) declaring that the US needed to send more troops into Iraq.  See:

As Michael Evans (Times of London) noted last week, "The Pentagon is to deploy specialist training troops to help Iraq's military to stop al-Qaeda-aligned forces who are arming extremist groups over the border.   More troops were sent back in last fall with no objection from the so-called 'left' peace 'leaders' in the United States.  A new military agreement was announced and not one of our 'brave,' 'left' outlets (The Progressive, The Nation, Democracy Now!, ZNet, CounterPunch, etc., etc.) could bother to note it.  Last week they were all AWOL as Dempsey spoke publicly at a press conference in DC explaining that US troops were going back into Iraq.

There's nothing independent about so-called 'independent' media in the United States.

Wednesday, July 3rd was Venequela's Independence Day.  US Secretary of State John Kerry noted the day with the following remarks:

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Venezuela as you commemorate the day that Venezuela declared its independence 202 years ago.
Venezuela and the United States have much in common. For example, revolutionary leader General Francisco de Miranda also played a part in our own struggle for independence, participating in the Battle of Pensacola in 1781. His contribution is forever memorialized in a monument that stands in the heart of Philadelphia, the original capital of the United States. When a devastating earthquake struck Venezuela in 1812 the United States sent the Venezuelan people the first humanitarian assistance it ever provided to a foreign country. These two examples demonstrate that Venezuela and the United States have shared ties of friendship and common values since the birth of our two nations, and the ties between our people endure.
I wish Venezuelans everywhere health, happiness, and hope on the anniversary of your independence.

And their independence includes not being lackeys of the United States.  AP reports that Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro is offering NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden asylum and the President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, stated that they would be willing to provide sanctuary in Nicaragua as well "if circumstances allow." The revelations resulting from Ed Snowden's whistle-blowing have been many. Glenn Greenwald (Guardian) provided an overview Wednesday night:

The first NSA story to be reported was our June 6 article which exposed the bulk, indiscriminate collection by the US Government of the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans. Ever since then, it has been undeniably clear that James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, outright lied to the US Senate - specifically to the Intelligence Committee, the body charged with oversight over surveillance programs - when he said "no, sir" in response to this question from Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden: "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?"
That Clapper fundamentally misled Congress is beyond dispute. The DNI himself has now been forced by our stories to admit that his statement was, in his words, "clearly erroneous" and to apologize. But he did this only once our front-page revelations forced him to do so: in other words, what he's sorry about is that he got caught lying to the Senate. And as Salon's David Sirota adeptly documented on Friday, Clapper is still spouting falsehoods as he apologizes and attempts to explain why he did it.
How is this not a huge scandal? Intentionally deceiving Congress is a felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison for each offense. Reagan administration officials were convicted of misleading Congress as part of the Iran-contra scandal and other controversies, and sports stars have been prosecuted by the Obama DOJ based on allegations they have done so.

Patty Culhane (Al Jazeera) sums up Ed's revelations regarding Barack's spying on Americans as follows:

  • Keeps a record of every cell phone call made.
  • Keeps a record of all emails sent.
  • Takes pictures of all the letters mailed in the US.
  • Uses drones for domestic surveillance.
  • Reserves the right to detain people (including Americans) indefinitely without trial.
  • Can search homes without telling people they were there.
  • Can still carry out renditions.
  • Can get copies of all of your records (from the library, bank or credit card company) without a warrant.
So to sum things up, if you become a person of interest, the government can quickly find out everyone you have ever talked to and written to; everything you have ever read and bought; and everywhere you have ever been.

Xan Brooks (Guardian) reports that film director Oliver Stone spoke out in support of Ed Snowden "at the Karlovy Vary international film festival in the Czech Republic" stating, "It's a disgrace that Obama is more concerned with hunting down Snowden than reforming these George Bush-style eavesdropping techniques."  Earlier this week, Amnesty International issued the following statement:

The US authorities’ relentless campaign to hunt down and block whistleblower Edward Snowden’s attempts to seek asylum is deplorable and amounts to a gross violation of his human rights Amnesty International said today.
“The US attempts to pressure governments to block Snowden’s attempts to seek asylum are deplorable,” said Michael Bochenek, Director of Law and Policy at Amnesty International. “It is his unassailable right, enshrined in international law, to claim asylum and this should not be impeded.”
The organization also believes that the National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower could be at risk of ill-treatment if extradited to the USA.
“No country can return a person to another country where there is a serious risk of ill-treatment,” said Bochenek.
“We know that others who have been prosecuted for similar acts have been held in conditions that not only Amnesty International but UN officials considered cruel inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of international law.”
Senior US officials have already condemned Snowden without a trial, labelling him both guilty and a traitor, raising serious questions as to whether he’d receive a fair trial. Likewise the US authorities move to charge Snowden under the Espionage Act could leave him with no provision to launch a public interest whistle-blowing defence under US law.
"It appears he is being charged by the US government primarily for revealing its - and other governments’ - unlawful actions that violate human rights,” said Bochenek.
“No one should be charged under any law for disclosing information of human rights violations. Such disclosures are protected under the rights to information and freedom of expression.”
Besides filing charges against Snowden, the US authorities have revoked his passport – which interferes with his rights to freedom of movement and to seek asylum elsewhere.
“Snowden is a whistleblower. He has disclosed issues of enormous public interest in the US and around the world. And yet instead of addressing or even owning up to these actions, the US government is more intent on going after Edward Snowden.” 

Ed Snowden has revealed a great deal.  The angry reaction of the White House has less to do with spying specifics and more to do with the fact that Barack's true nature has been revealed.   Ana Palacio (The Australian) offers, "More than any other incoming American president in recent memory, Obama raised expectations worldwide. Yet he has proved to be mainly, if not solely, interested in domestic issues, resulting in a foreign policy of reaction. The Snowden affair highlights three elements of this: US-Russia relations, US influence in South America, and US relations with Europe." Stephanie Findlay (Macleans) observes that Barack's (very expensive) trip to Africa has been a bust and quotes the Wilson Center's Steve McDonald among those expressing disappointment and pointing out "the visit could have been so much more."  And, as Frank James (NPR) notes, Barack's been revealed as impotent with regards to Egypt:

The crisis of democracy in that country, specifically the military coup that overthrew former President Mohammed Morsi, has left Obama mostly a spectator to events.
Indeed, he is even less free than the average observer of the events in Egypt since he can't even use the word "coup" to describe the change in government there.
It's widely suspected that he and other administration officials have so far avoided using the word to avoid triggering a law that would require cutting off $1.3 billion of aid to the Egyptian military. That aid appears to be one of the few significant levers the U.S. has to influence events there.

Unable to command any real power on the real stage, Barack resorts to deceit and trickery to get the upper hand, ignoring the right to privacy and invading the space of any and all.  And when he's not spying on Americans, he's busy trying to trick them.  Chris Anders (ACLU Blog of Rights) offers the basics on Barack's nominee to be Director of the FBI:

While most of us are enjoying an extra-long July 4th weekend, James Comey, a top Bush lawyer who approved waterboarding and torture, is getting ready for one of his last hurdles before becoming FBI director. I'm sure that torture supporters are hoping that we spend more time at the beach and pool, and don't dig into Comey’s record.
Behind this nomination is a strange and ironic story. Beginning on Tuesday, President Obama might end up getting done what President Bush failed to do during nearly all of his last four years in office. All President Obama needs is for the Senate—and all of us—to look the other way while rubber-stamping his choice to head the FBI for the next 10 years.
As you may remember, after getting Alberto Gonzales confirmed as attorney general at the start of his second term, President Bush spent the next four years trying—and failing—to get the Senate to confirm any other members of his torture policy team. The Senate, under both Republican control and Democratic control, stood up to President Bush and turned away nominee after nominee with a record of approving water boarding or other torture. It was a principled and bipartisan rejection of rewarding the Bush administration’s torture policies.
But in a bizarre twist, James Comey—who served as deputy attorney general under both John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales, and who twice gave a thumbs-up to torture—has been nominated to be the FBI director for the next decade.

Iraq War veteran, talk show hots and activist Adam Kokesh posted a 23 second video on YouTube yesterday that's getting attention from the clutch the pearls crowd.  In the video, he loads a rifle.  DC's Metropolitan Police Department issued this:

Statement from US Park Police and Metropolitan Police Department regarding Adam Kokesh video

The Metropolitan Police Department and US Park Police are aware that today Adam Kokesh posted a video that appears to have been taken in Freedom Plaza in Northwest, DC. We are in the process of determining the authenticity of the video.

Jessica Huseman (Policy Mic) is offended. Jessica is convinced that this is not helping his cause.   She doesn't give a damn about his cause, she's against it so why the hell is she even writing about him?

To ridicule him and make fun of him.  You know what, Adam serving in Iraq didn't make him a saint, nor did his speaking out against the illegal war make him above criticism or ridicule.  He can be targeted the same as any of the rest of us can be.   But maybe Jessica should look in the mirror? 

What Adam supposedly did . . . It doesn't hurt his cause.  I hope he's not arrested but if he is, that's what happens.  I personally wish he wouldn't do these sort of things.  That's not because I dislike his politics or his convictions.  I admire his integrity.  My personal problem is there are a lot of crazy people and when Jessica thinks she's being cute, she's really just handing out torches to the town mob.  I seriously worry that Adam's going to get hurt at some point.  That's not because of the gun issue, it could be the tax issue or any of his other stands.

I worry about him.  But he's an adult  so all I can do is just applaud him for the bravery and wish him the best in his political battles.  If everyone showed even half the fire and integrity Adam repeatedly does, we wouldn't have NSA spying, we wouldn't have US troops going back into Iraq, etc.  Adam's a brave activist.  He takes ethical stands.   Jessica Huseman?  She's a blathering idiot who popularizes Adam's cause while thinking she's taking him down.  If she needs additional targets to try to make herself better, she can refer to Matthew Rothschild's "Anti-Patriotic Quotes to Ponder on July 4" (The Progressive) and find a historical treasure trove of people who stood up for things they believed in.  And, at some point, Jessica Huseman might want to ask herself why, in an Age of Apathy, she's attacking anyone who's standing up for what they believe? 

Samarra protesters targeted with bombing

It's Friday, protests are taking place in Iraq.  Iraqi Spring MC notes people turned out in Falluja, in Baiji, in Samarra, and in Ramadi (where Nouri's SWAT forces were out in full force and arrested some attempting to protest).  Iraqi Spring MC Tweeted about what took place in Samarra:

: حسب شهود عيان السيارة كان يقودها احد عناصر القوات الحكومية وكان يروم ركنها لكنها انفجرت به

That's the remains of a car bombing that targeted Samarra's protest today and the Tweet notes that eye witnesses saw one of Nouri's forces in the car.

Alsumaria reports that the preachers in the province (Salahuddin) are saying that the security failed the protesters.   All Iraq News reports that  12 people are dead from the Samarra bombing and another nineteen are injured and there was also a car bombing in Kut.

Meanwhile All Iraq News notes that MP has called for the US Embassy in Baghdad to be closed as a result of 'interference.'

 Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Pants On The Ground"  went up Wednesday and  Kat's "Kat's Korner: Maps is so much better when he's original" went up yesterday.

The following community sites -- plus the  Guardian, Adam Kokesh, Chocolate City, Susan's On the Edge,,  Ms. magazine and Pacifica Evening News -- updated last night and this morning:

We'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "Obama Falsely Asserts He Is Mandela Follower" (Veterans Today):

Just as President Obama disgracefully used Martin Luther King’s Bible at his Inauguration to tie himself to the great pacifist civil rights leader, so this totalitarian-minded, warmonger president claimed in South Africa Sunday to have been inspired by Nelson Mandela, whose legacy  he said “we must all honor in our own lives.”  Coming from an American president linked so intimately to the CIA as is Mr. Obama, this declaration is laughable. It was the CIA, after all, that fingered Mr. Mandela, then head of the African National Congress, to BOSS, the country’s secret police, who, acting on the CIA’s tip, arrested Mandela and clapped him in the notorious Robben Island prison for 18 years.  Yes, that was the very same prison Mr. Obama toured with his family this week, his face reflecting a mournful aspect, as he allegedly contemplated the suffering Mr. Mandela endured to liberate his country from the white apartheid regime.

In his book about the CIA, “Legacy of Ashes,” former New York Timesman Tim Weiner writes, “The African National Congress leader, Nelson Mandela, had been arrested and imprisoned in 1962, thanks in part to the CIA.” Weiner pointed out the CIA “worked in the closest harmony” with South Africa’s BOSS. Weiner quotes Gerry Gossens, a CIA station chief in four nations during the administrations of Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter, stating that CIA officers stood “side-by-side with the security police in South Africa. The word was that they had fingered Mandela himself.”

And has Mr. Obama done anything on his watch to reform the CIA? No way! Not only does he not prosecute those CIA agents guilty of torture and murder but by his own admission he personally directs the CIA thugs who kidnap and/or assassinate suspects with no due process of law. As of now, the Pakistan government reports at least 400 civilians have been killed in the attacks, the most recent horror being 17 killed on July 3 in a Pakistan drone strike.

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