Friday, June 13, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Friday, June 13, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack talks Iraq, Nouri kills social media in Iraq, Nouri arrests students in Baghdad, Angelina Jolie talks refugees, more people realize Nouri is the problem in Iraq, and much more.

Iraq continues to unravel.  Erin Cunningham Tweets about an important piece this week on Iraq:

"Iraq now seems to be inexorably if unintentionally breaking apart," by WaPo's &

On the White House;s South Lawn this afternoon, en route to boarding a helicopter, US President Barack Obama stopped to make a few comments on Iraq:

Yesterday, I convened a meeting with my National Security Council to discuss the situation there, and this morning I received an update from my team.  Over the last several days, we’ve seen significant gains made by ISIL, a terrorist organization that operates in both Iraq and in Syria.  In the face of a terrorist offensive, Iraqi security forces have proven unable to defend a number of cities, which has allowed the terrorists to overrun a part of Iraq’s territory.  And this poses a danger to Iraq and its people.  And given the nature of these terrorists, it could pose a threat eventually to American interests as well.

Now, this threat is not brand new.  Over the last year, we’ve been steadily ramping up our security assistance to the Iraqi government with increased training, equipping and intelligence.  Now, Iraq needs additional support to break the momentum of extremist groups and bolster the capabilities of Iraqi security forces.  We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq, but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraqi security forces, and I’ll be reviewing those options in the days ahead.
I do want to be clear though, this is not solely or even primarily a military challenge.  Over the past decade, American troops have made extraordinary sacrifices to give Iraqis an opportunity to claim their own future.  Unfortunately, Iraq’s leaders have been unable to overcome too often the mistrust and sectarian differences that have long been simmering there, and that’s created vulnerabilities within the Iraqi government as well as their security forces.
So any action that we may take to provide assistance to Iraqi security forces has to be joined by a serious and sincere effort by Iraq’s leaders to set aside sectarian differences, to promote stability, and account for the legitimate interests of all of Iraq’s communities, and to continue to build the capacity of an effective security force.  We can’t do it for them.  And in the absence of this type of political effort, short-term military action, including any assistance we might provide, won’t succeed. 
So this should be a wake-up call.  Iraq’s leaders have to demonstrate a willingness to make hard decisions and compromises on behalf of the Iraqi people in order to bring the country together.  In that effort, they will have the support of the United States and our friends and our allies. 
Now, Iraq’s neighbors also have some responsibilities to support this process.  Nobody has an interest in seeing terrorists gain a foothold inside of Iraq, and nobody is going to benefit from seeing Iraq descend into chaos.  So the United States will do our part, but understand that ultimately it’s up to the Iraqis, as a sovereign nation, to solve their problems.
Indeed, across the region we have redoubled our efforts to help build more capable counterterrorism forces so that groups like ISIL can’t establish a safe haven.  And we’ll continue that effort through our support of the moderate opposition in Syria, our support for Iraq and its security forces, and our partnership with other countries across the region. 
We’re also going to pursue intensive diplomacy throughout this period both inside of Iraq and across the region, because there’s never going to be stability in Iraq or the broader region unless there are political outcomes that allow people to resolve their differences peacefully without resorting to war or relying on the United States military. 

We’ll be monitoring the situation in Iraq very carefully over the next several days.  Our top priority will remain being vigilant against any threats to our personnel serving overseas.  We will consult closely with Congress as we make determinations about appropriate action, and we’ll continue to keep the American people fully informed as we make decisions about the way forward. 

He took a few questions and we'll note this response: "And obviously, our troops and the American people and the American taxpayers made huge investments and sacrifices in order to give Iraqis the opportunity to chart a better course, a better destiny.  But ultimately, they're going to have to seize it.  As I said before, we are not going to be able to do it for them.  And given the very difficult history that we’ve seen in Iraq, I think that any objective observer would recognize that in the absence of accommodation among the various factions inside of Iraq, various military actions by the United States, by any outside nation, are not going to solve those problems over the long term and not going to deliver the kind of stability that we need."

AFP's WG Dunlop offered this observation on Barack's comments.

Immediately after Barack's remarks were aired live, Andrea Mitchell Reports (MSNBC -- link is video) went to a pre-recorded interview with Senator John McCain.

Senator John McCain:  Well our Director of National Intelligence, General [James] Clapper, has already said what is happening in this area of Syria - Iraq has now been dramatically expanded and also has enriched does post a threat for attacks to be planned on the United States of America.  That is the opinion of our Director of National Intelligence.  And I share it.

Andrea Mitchell:  What should the president do?  He says he's only ruled out ground troops.  So he is considering military options.  We're expecting decisions. What would you advise him to do?

Senator John McCain: Andrea, I think that -- I think the national security team should be replaced. But that's not going to happen.  So then, he should bring in other individuals such as General [Jack] Keane, the architect of the surge which succeeded and we had it won, people like the Kagans at  the Institute for the Study of War  [Kimberly Kagan and Fred Kagan], other -- and Ambassador Ryan Crocker.  I think I would put [former top US commander in Iraq] David Petraeus on a plane to Baghdad right now and try to sort all this out.  And, also, Maliki has got to be more inclusive.  He's got to completely change, the way he's treated the Sunni and it may be too late, I don't know.  Maybe it needs to be somebody else?   But now we need to move forward. We've got to plan not only on the military side of it but on the political side of it as well because it's clear that the Sunnis have been alienated completely by Maliki and the way he's handled his leadership in Iraq. 

A few things on the above.

James Clapper?  Could Clapper be right?

Clapper lied to Congress.  The matter should have immediately been turned over to the Justice Dept and Barack should have asked for a resignation.

That didn't happen.

So Clapper has no standing now.  McCain can cite him all he wants but Clapper is a known liar who went before the Congress and lied.  When an official does that, they need to resign.

Clapper could be 100% right that this group of people -- whatever you term them -- are or will plan attacks on the US.  But he's a liar who's disgraced his name and few are going to rush to believe him.

McCain may have seen information -- I'm sure he has -- independently that makes him believe Clapper's assertion.

I don't believe the assertion.  There's no support being presented to the public for it.

There's also no common sense argument for it.

This group allegedly wants to take over not just Iraq but Syria as well.  They're also going to expand to attacks on the US?


Should they take over Iraq, if they also want to take over Syria, that would be their goal.

And if they achieved that?  They'd go for the region.

I don't see where they -- as Clapper believes -- would be making one advance after another in the region and suddenly decide to focus on the US.

It doesn't make sense.

Doing so would slow their attempted march to take over the region.

Doing so would also unleash a response (and hatred and anger) aimed at them from the US and it would mean a full out war.

So I don't see how they'd want to court that anger and the combat response that would follow.

They might.

But thus far, we have allegations only and we have common sense.  And common sense does not back up the allegations.

That McCain would suggest a group that includes the neocon Kagan family (which also includes Barack advisor Robert Kagan and his wife Victoria Nuland who's with the State Dept) isn't surprising (he is right-wing).  But due to other comments by McCain in the past, we should note that he made clear he was not calling for US troops back into Iraq. ("I do not envision a scenario where ground troops are on the ground [. . .] I would not commit to putting American boots on the ground in order to achieve that in deference to that weariness that you so accurately describe.")

The Lead with Jake Tapper (CNN -- link is text and video) notes today:

Hillary Clinton told the BBC Thursday that she is against air strikes in Iraq.
"I agree with the White House's rejection and reluctance to do the kind of military activities that the Maliki government is requesting, namely fighter aircraft to provide close support for the Army and also to go after targets. That is not a role for the United States," Clinton said.

All the hawks are avoiding calling for troops in Iraq because the American people have spoken.  And the Republicans saw that marching into an illegal war harmed their party while Democrats posing as against the war managed to put them back in power.  The peace movement can take a well deserved bow right now for their part in opposing the illegal war and for their part in helping influence popular opinion by speaking out.

We'll note this exchange from Andrea's interview with McCain:

Andrea Mitchell:  So far we have spent years trying to get Maliki to be more  democratic, not be oppressive and exclusionary to the Sunnis.  We've basically driven these Sunnis into the arms of the radicals.  So what make us think that with American help, American airstrikes, more military equipment from the US that he'll change at all.

Senator John McCain:  Well he has to or he has to be changed.  One of the two.  It is an unacceptable situation

I agree with McCain on that.  (I agree with another point he made so much that I'm carrying it over to Third and will nominate it for a 'truest statement of the week.')  Nouri is the problem.  Nouri has attacked Sunnis.  He's run off the vice president, he's attacked a Sunni member's home at dawn leading to the death of many including the Sunni politician's brother.  He's attacked Sunni protesters.  He's attacked the Sunni population at large.

Nouri has bred the violence in Iraq.  Brookings Institute Ken Pollack appeared this afternoon on MSNBC's The Cycle.  Excerpt.

Abby Huntsman:  You even warned the Obama administration years ago that this was coming.  Did they not listen or did they not take you seriously?

Kenneth Pollack: The administration had a different narrative about Iraq, they had a different view about what was going to happen there. And myself and numerous other people were basing our warnings on not just Iraq itself but lots of other civil wars like this over the course of history and what we've seen happen there.  And I think if you look at what was happening there, it was pretty obvious that this was the course that things wanted to go to but the administration wanted to think about Iraq in a as the narrative that they stuck to.  But I think you're right, Abby, that we've got to concentrate on moving forward, on dealing with the situation that we have.  You know, we'll leave it to the historians to sort out, you know, who shot John and under what circumstances. 

Luke Russert: Ken, Luke Russert here in Washington, and one thing I found fascinating from talking to my sources on the Hill, is the degree to which this is Sunni versus Shia and how Sunnis are so just fed up with al-Maliki.  You're not actually seeing remnants of Sadam's old army joining forces with the ISIS.  How much of a problem is that for the US moving forward because this is a very organized, militant group that had military training and knows the country inside and out.

Ken Pollack:  Luke, you put your finger on the critical thing that's going on here, alright.  We can't think of this as just being ISIS -- a group of Iraqis and Syrians out of Syria who've invaded Iraq and it has nothing to do with Iraqi politics.  It's all Iraqi politics. First, as I said, ISIS has a very heavy Iraqi component and, as you said, they are now joining  up with all of these Sunni militias inside of Iraq and that is the force that together is advancing on Baghdad.  And what it speaks to is the complete alienation of Iraq's Sunni community as a result of Maliki's treatment of them over the last two, three, four years.  And it's why  if we're going to deal with the problem, if we're actually solve the situation, pull Iraq out of this civil war, it can't be about military operations, it can't be just about bombing stuff because the fundamental problem is political and we're going to have to deal with that and that's even harder than the military one.  [. . .]  The bottom line here is somebody has got to convince Maliki to change his ways.  He's got to change his way of doing things or else has got to  help the Iraqis bring about a new political leadership that will bring the Sunnis back in [to the government, to the process],  that will deal with the problems in the Iraqi military, that will curb the powers of the prime minister so that all Iraqi ethnic groups aren't frightened of another prime minister like Maliki.  And at the end of the day, I think the military component -- the most useful piece of it is, the Iraqis, in particular, the Shia, are desperate for it so that becomes the leverage we have And I think that the President actually put it the right way.  That, if they want our military support, the price for it is that they're going to have to reform their politics.  Because if they don't reform their politics, there's no point in giving them that military system because the problems are not going to abate. 

Ned Parker has broken many important stories from Iraq -- most notably his work exposing the secret prisons.  He appeared Thursday on Democracy Now! (link is audio, video and text):

NED PARKER: Right. I think one of the great tragedies about the United States’ relationship with Iraq, both inside Iraq and here, is that the matter is so politicized that it’s hard to have a real conversation about what needs to happen now in Iraq so that it can be stabilized. The American involvement happened. And what I wrote two years ago, for instance, was talking about, in the time of the Obama administration, the neglect, if you will, of trying to build upon the chances for success after so much bloodshed and, you know, horror during the Bush years. And there was a chance for stability in Iraq in 2010. The decision to withdraw troops on the ground from Iraq, it’s debatable whether that was a right decision or a wrong decision, but I think the core issue is matters of soft power, that don’t necessarily have anything to do with U.S. military troops. That’s—so it’s about building consensus, trying to help strengthen the foundations of democracy.
Really, the Obama administration looked for many, you know, understandable, pragmatic reasons to want to end the troop presence, because of the cost of money, the cost to soldiers’ lives, but in doing that, in disengaging—and the U.S. military, you know, praised Obama for having a responsible withdrawal timeline; they said he did the right thing there. But what he didn’t do was try to fortify a workable coalition that could govern Iraq over these past four years or to preserve the—you know, these issues that Mohammed al Dulaimy was talking about, human rights abuses. Iraq actually had a decent human rights ministry, not perfect but one that exposed secret prisons by—that were run by Prime Minister Maliki’s military. And in the government formation process in 2011, that ministry was gutted and turned into a wing basically of Prime Minister Maliki’s party. And people who had been encouraged, Iraqis, to expose these abuses by the Americans had to flee the country.

So, I think when we talk about Iraq and the failures of the Obama administration in Iraq—and I think that Iraq for America is a bipartisan failure, and it’s not about troops staying or going. It’s about these core issues that are democratic values. The Obama administration looked at how does Iraq—how does the United States get out, and how does Iraq stay stable? And what they chose was Prime Minister Maliki as their guy. And at the time they made that decision, it wasn’t necessarily a wrong choice, but they focused on personalities, and not values and building the foundations of a government that could work. And that’s a large reason of why we are where we are today, both the United States and Iraq, in terms of the implosion we are seeing.

Are you beginning to grasp the problem?  At CNN, Derek Harvey and Michael Pregent ask, "Who's to blame for Iraq crisis"? Their answer includes:

For more than five years, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his ministers have presided over the packing of the Iraqi military and police with Shiite loyalists -- in both the general officer ranks and the rank and file -- while sidelining many effective commanders who led Iraqi troops in the battlefield gains of 2007-2010, a period during which al Qaeda in Iraq (the forerunner of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) was brought to the brink of extinction.
Al-Maliki's "Shiafication" of the Iraqi security forces has been less about the security of Iraq than the security of Baghdad and his regime. Even before the end of the U.S.-led "surge" in 2008, al-Maliki began a concerted effort to replace effective Sunni and Kurdish commanders and intelligence officers in the key mixed-sect areas of Baghdad, Diyala and Salaheddin provinces to ensure that Iraqi units focused on fighting Sunni insurgents while leaving loyal Shiite militias alone -- and to alleviate al-Maliki's irrational fears of a military coup against his government.
In 2008, al-Maliki began replacing effective Kurdish commanders and soldiers in Mosul and Tal Afar with Shiite loyalists from Baghdad and the Prime Minister's Dawa Party, and even Shiite militia members from the south. A number of nonloyalist commanders were forced to resign in the face of trumped up charges or reassigned to desk jobs and replaced with al-Maliki loyalists. The moves were made to marginalize Sunnis and Kurds in the north and entrench al-Maliki's regime and the Dawa Party ahead of provincial and national elections in 2009, 2010 and 2013.

Rebecca Kaplan (CBS News -- link is text and video) covers several hypotheses as to how Iraq ended up in its current crisis and Jake Tapper (CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper) explores the current crisis with administration officials.

Iraq is finally getting serious attention from the MSM and I'm trying to be nice.  I was nice to Kenneth Pollack in yesterday's snapshot because I genuinely believed, from his writing, that he was sincere in his suggestions.  But that was with him.  With the media, I've tried to be nice.

I've tried to be so nice that I've ignored so much this week.  For example, if you're doing a discussion on Iraq and bringing up Nouri al-Maliki, I'm sorry but you're an idiot if you're calling him "president" of Iraq.  Especially if you do repeatedly.  I was kind.  I just ignored you.  I was kind to the TV network that couldn't find their own ass.  But I'm not a nice person and don't pretend to be.  And even in the "thank goodness they're noting Iraq," I can only take so much.

RT reports or 'reports:"

Even before the latest outbreak of violence and chaos in Iraq, the United States was flying secret drone missions in the country in an attempt to gather intelligence on the movements of Al-Qaeda-linked militants.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the clandestine surveillance missions have been going on since last year with the consent of the Iraqi government. Senior White House officials said the program was expanded as concerns over the possibility of a rebellion grew, but they acknowledged the activity provided little useful information for both the US and Iraq. 

I ignored the Wall St. Journal article because I was trying to be nice and also because few people would see it (the paper has a high circulation but in the online world they've cut themselves off with their paywall).  But now RT is grabbing the article which means many on the left now know about it or soon will.

And what they know?


The Wall St. Journal may have broken a hip (Do they shoot newspapers?) but it didn't break news.  It did flash ignorance.

We've long covered the use of US drones in Iraq.

Let's offer just one example.  From the January 31, 2012 snapshot:

Meanwhile AFP reports on US President Barack Obama's YouTube fest yesterday and his assertion that there was nothing wrong with the drones flying over Iraq. He is quoted declaring, "The truth of the matter is we're not engaging in a bunch of drone attacks inside of Iraq. There's some surveillance to make sure that our embassy compound is protected." 

Do you get it?

Wall St. Journal reported that drones were being used by the US in Iraq! Wall St. Journal reported it this week!

But two years ago, Barack spoke publicly about drones being used in Iraq.

So the big 'scoop' was really nothing.

It does reveal, however, how little attention people pay to Iraq -- including reporters covering it.

Alsumaria reports that Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress, declared today that failures of leadership and wrong-headed policies are responsible for the desertion of military forces when rebels storm an area.  As if to proved Ahmed's point about leadership failures, the spokesperson for Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law declared today that the governments of Turkey and Saudi Arabia are paying people to attack Iraq. So lost in his lies, Nouri can't even focus on the problems at hand.

Which would include the bombing of Saad bin Maad Mosque in Muqdadiyah.  Iraq Spring MC reports 25 corpses (burned alive) were discovered in Diayla village (killed by Nouri's forces), Nouri's forces bombed a mosque in Baijia leaving 13 people dead and twenty injured, and rebels shot down 2 helicopters in Baiji, sectarian militias kidnapped 2 people in Baiji.  NINA adds that 6 Joint Operations Command announced they killed 6 rebels in Ramadi.

Mitchell Prothero (McClatchy Newspaper) reports:

The likely breakup of Iraq into feuding ethnic and sectarian bastions accelerated Friday as Iraq’s senior Shiite Muslim cleric broke years of support for the central government and decreed that every able-bodied Shiite man had a religious obligation to defend the sect’s holy sites from rebellious Sunni Muslims led by fighters from the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Read more here:

Global Research's Tony Cartalucci argues the US is planning to break up Iraq into a federation with three regions.  

Meanwhile, Jasper Hamill (Register) reports Nouri's government is blocking Twitter and Facebook:

A Kuwaiti news agency suggested that the Iraqi government's Ministry of Communications has closed off access to the sites to hamper the rebel's communications. Pornographic sites have also been closed down.
We logged on to several Iraqi proxy servers and were unable to access the social networks, while still getting normal access to other sites. However, we did not see the image below, which is being circulated on Twitter. It appears to show that one of Iraq's biggest ISPs has been told to block Twitter and Facebook.

AFP's WG Dunlop Tweeted:

Iraqi Spring MC reports that today Nouri's forces arrested all the student protesters who lived in Baghdad's Adhamiya.  Is this the 'leadership' Barack wants Nouri to demonstrate.

As the situation in Iraq worsens, some are called on to leave.  Alsumaria reports Lockheed Martin is evacuating 25 employees.  All Iraq News reports that the government of Germany is calling for its citizens "to leave Anbar, Nineveh and Salah il-Din provinces and temporarily Baghdad due to the security breaches." ABC News Radio reports, "Americans are being evacuated from an air base in Iraq on Thursday as militants storm toward the area. Several hundred contractors from the northern facility in Balad are being evacuated to Baghdad, a Defense official confirms."  All Iraq News notes:

The United States rushed Thursday to evacuate hundreds of Americans from Iraq and was desperately making plans to rescue thousands of others as advancing al Qaeda-inspired forces vowed to attack Baghdad and topple the government.
There are about 5,000 American contractors remaining in the increasingly dangerous country, including a team that was bailed out Thursday from a base in Balad, an hour north of the threatened capital.

The three plane loads of Americans were mostly civilians who were part of one of the largest training programs for the Iraqi military — which so far has been largely impotent in the fight against bloodthirsty rebels.

Iraq's refugee problem was most noted around 2007 but it's been huge throughout the war.  The violence started off relatively low when Nouri assumed his second term as prime minister.  It quickly began rising and refugees began to climb in numbers as well.  By June 2013Matthew Woodcraft (BBC World Service -- link is audio) was reporting on the issue:

Matthew Woodcraft: ____ explained how he was new to Amman having decided to make the move from his home city of Baghdad to seek refuge in Jordan just a few weeks ago. "Iraq, she is beautiful," ____ said before exhaling a plume of smoke as he rolled the dice across the board.  "Well, she was," he added, "but we cannot be there anymore.  The religions, it's dangerous. More men arrived sounding lively, with shouts of "Salam alaikum, habibi" -- "hello, my good man" -- and handshakes all around.  Amman is witnessing a new wave of Iraqi refugees as the almost daily bombings across Iraq become ever more bloody.  As the click-clack of dice on wood continued, I spoke with **** one of the organizers of the backgammon evening, in a room away from the other men.  I asked him about the new influx of Iraqis.  This initially jocular man grew serious as he explained, "There are many who are still coming and they cannot work.  They live hand to mouth," he said. going on to tell me how the new arrivals are fleeing with little and in desperate need of help.

Today on Ronan Farrow Daily (MSNBC -- link is video) actress and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees special envoy Angelina Jolie raised the issue of Iraqi refugees.

Angelina Jolie: It really is quite terrifying as a humanitarian to think of all these people and to see what's happening in Iraq now. All the displacement.  All of the displacement. I've met people from the first Iraq War in Syria -- who then were displaced again back to Iraq -- who will now be displaced again for the fourth time. For the fourth time.

Ronan Farrow:  And 500,000 people on the run, it's a terrifying situation.  Do you in general terms feel that the US should do more?

Angelina Jolie:  That's probably -- Do I -- Yes.  Yes.  But, you know, I'm not here to -- I think it's what we -- I think it's a bigger discussion.  I think it's a bigger discussion about leadership in the world.  And I think it's -- I think it's not to point a finger at a particular person or a particular administration, but to say we are lacking in leadership in the world in general.  I don't think there is a perfect example of extraordinary leadership that is going to break through the stalemate of what is happening in the world today when it comes to intervening, assisting innocent people.  It is a much bigger situation.

The refugee situation was already a problem.  This month it has only gotten worse.  UNHCR notes today:

The UN refugee agency on Friday reported that a shortage of shelter is emerging as a key challenge for many of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have fled this week's violence in the northern city of Mosul to seek shelter in Iraq's Kurdistan region.
Local authorities say 300,000 people have sought safety in the Erbil and Duhok governorates and UNHCR monitoring teams report that many arrived with little more than the clothes they were wearing. Many people have no money, and nowhere to go. While some stay with relatives, others are temporarily in hotels where they are exhausting what funds they have. Many families in Duhok are also sheltering in schools, mosques, churches and unfinished buildings.

The UN World Food Programme notes:

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is launching an initial emergency operation to provide food assistance to 42,000 of the most vulnerable people displaced by conflict this week in Iraq.
WFP has deployed emergency and logistics staff to Erbil in the Kurdistan region to determine further food needs on the ground following the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people from Mosul to Erbil and neighbouring areas over the past two days.

In its initial response, WFP will deliver approximately 550 metric tons of food a month support the operation, at a cost of $1.5 million. An airlift of emergency food and other supplies is planned from the WFP-run UN Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD) in Dubai and another flight with non-food assistance is planned from Brindisi, in Italy.

Nouri has failed in many things and broken many promises.  For example, he was supposed to implement Article 140 of the Constitution to resolve the issue of Kirkuk.  Oil-rich Kirkuk is claimed by the Kurdistan Regional Government and by the central government out of Baghdad.  Article 140 calls for a census and referendum to resolve who can claim Kirkuk.  That failed promise may not matter because, this week, the KRG took control of Kirkuk.  Fazel Hawramy (Guardian) reports:

Kirkuk was under new management on Friday. No one was quite sure how long it would last. For Kurds, it represented a historic moment: finally in charge of the city and its surrounding areas after the Iraqi army abandoned its positions in the face of the Isis Sunni onslaught. And even for some Arabs there was a sense that security under the Kurds was better than mayhem under someone else.
Mohammad, a Sunni Arab, was six years old when his father, a civil servant, was persuaded by the government to move to Kirkuk from Baghdad. "I am happy for the [Kurdish military] peshmerga forces to stay in Kirkuk if they can bring security to the residents," he said, blaming the government of the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, for the lack of security in the country. "Maliki has filled the prisons with Sunnis and intensified the sectarian tendencies in the society."
In the Iskan and Rahim Awa districts of the city, Kurdish security forces are visible everywhere and have erected new road blocks every few hundred metres.

Finally, David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award.  We'll close with this from Bacon's "Recycling Workers In Their Own Words" (San Francisco Bay Guardian):

  Today:  Recycling Workers in Their Own Words:  Two recycling workers speak out
Yesterday:  Invisible No More:  Threatened by immigration and paid illegally low wages, East Bay recycling workers did the unthinkable: They fought back.

I first applied for a job at the Select agency in 2000.  I'd just arrived from Mexico, and a friend explained to me about the agencies, that they'll quickly send you out to work.   They sent me to some other places before ACI.  Then I was out of work for awhile, and I went down to the agency to ask them for another job.  They said the only job they had for me was in the garbage.

A lot of people had told me that this job was really bad.  The woman at the agency told me, go try it for a day, and if you don't like it you can come back here.  So I went.  At first they put me on the cardboard line.  That didn't seem so bad because it's not so dirty.  It's just that the cardboard stacks up so fast.  But then they put me on the trash line, which was a lot dirtier.  But the thing is, I needed the job.  So I worked hard, and the years passed, and I was still there.

All day every day the trucks arrive, they unload and a machine starts pushing the trash onto the line.  Down below, we start sorting it.  The line brings all the trash past the place we're standing, and first we separate out the cardboard.  The next line takes out the plastic.  Then the metal and aluminum gets taken out on another line. 


the washington post
liz sly