Monday, January 26, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Monday, Janaury 26, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Baghdad International Airport is shut down due to a shooting, Angelina Jolie visits Iraqi and Syrian refugees, Sunnis continue to be targeted, truth teller Chelsea Manning remains in prison, Google plays nice with the White House while betraying WikiLeaks (and the US Constitution) and much more.

Wassim ABdul-Zahra (AP) reports an Emirati plane was shot at during its landing today at Baghdad International Airport -- an airport he describes as "the highly secure Baghdad airport."  Clearly, it's not highly secure.  When airports are "highly secure," planes landing don't get fired at.  Earlier today, Iraqi Spring MC noted that Baghdad International Airport had been shut down with all flights cancelled.

  • All Iraq News reports that one of the two injured passengers on the plane was a child.

    In other violence, Alsumaria reports a Mahmudiya roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left three more people injured and a Shaab roadside bombing left five people injured.

    And Iraqi Spring MC reports that Falluja General Hospital received the corpses of 4 civilians and seven wounded civilians today -- a result of the Iraqi military's one-year-plus of bombing residential neighborhoods in the Sunni city of Falluja.

    These attacks would not be tolerated by the Shi'ite Prime Minister of Iraq if the victims were Shi'ites. Haider al-Abadi became prime minister in August and, September 13th, he announced these daily bombings -- which are War Crimes -- had been stopped.

    Either he's a liar or the Iraqi military does not listen to their commander in chief.

    Within 24 hours of his announcement that the bombings had ended they were already going on again.

    And they continue each day.

    Maybe four lives don't matter to the international community?

    I'd hope they would but maybe they don't.

    If they don't, try to grasp that this is four people dead today.  Today.  These bombings have been going on daily since January of last year.  Over 12 months of these daily bombings -- which, again, are War Crimes -- the toll adds up -- the number dead and the number injured.

    And the international community should be demanding answers starting with whether Haider al-Abadi lied or if he's just so ineffective that the Iraqi military blows off any order he gives them?

    Staying with the topic of the targeting of the Sunnis . . .

  • My senses no longer bear the pain &sadness cause I cant save innocent Sunni civilians who are die every day, by shia Gangs in

  • Ahmed Rasheed, Stephen Kalin and Robin Pomeroy (Reuters) report:

    Sunni politicians and tribal chiefs from Iraq's eastern Diyala province accused Shi'ite militias on Monday of killing more than 70 unarmed civilians who had fled clashes with Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) militants.

    Interior Ministry spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan denied the claims, saying ISIL was trying to undermine the reputation of Iraqi security forces.

    The Minister of the Interior is a laughable joke and far from a trusted source on the topic of thugs murdering Sunnis.  As Loveday Morris (Washington Post) noted last October:

    The new interior minister is Mohammed Ghabban, a little-known Shiite politician with the Badr Organization. But there is little doubt that Hadi al-Amiri, head of the party and its military wing, will wield the real power in the ministry.

    The Badr militia ran notorious Shiite death squads during Iraq’s sectarian war, after infiltrating the Interior Ministry. A leaked 2009 State Department cable said sources had indicated that Amiri may have personally ordered attacks on up to 2,000 Sunnis. Amiri has denied such allegations.

    Margaret Griffis ( counts 215 people dead from violence (299 injured) today while, over the weekend, she added Friday, Saturday and Sunday's numbers coming up with the total of 692 people killed and another eighty-nine injured.

    Yesterday actress, director and United Nations Refugee Agency Special Envoy Angelina Jolie visited Iraq.

    These are among the Tweets noting the visit.

    Special Envoy Angelina Jolie is in . Check out the latest videos & photos:
    20 retweets 15 favorites

    Special Envoy Angelina Jolie visited Syrian refugees & displaced Iraqi citizens in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq
    101 retweets 65 favorites

    The UNHCR notes this was Angelina's fifth visit to Iraq:

    The UN refugee agency's Special Envoy Angelina Jolie is in Dohuk, Iraq, visiting Syrian refugees and displaced Iraqi citizens in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to offer support to 3.3 million displaced people in the country and highlight their dire needs.
    Since Ms Jolie's last visit to Iraq in September 2012, the scale and gravity of the humanitarian situation have increased dramatically, as the conflicts in Syria and Iraq intensify and become intertwined.
    "It is shocking to see how the humanitarian situation in Iraq has deteriorated since my last visit. On top of large numbers of Syrian refugees, two million Iraqis were displaced by violence in 2014 alone. Many of these innocent people have been uprooted multiple times as they seek safety amidst shifting frontlines."
    While a massive aid response has been launched by UNHCR and partners, an estimated 330,000 people across the country still live in sub-standard shelters as they face their first winter away from home.
    On Sunday, Ms Jolie visited internally displaced Iraqis living in an informal settlement and a formal camp at Khanke, a 40 minute drive from Dohuk city. Together, the sites now accommodate more than 20,000 people from the Yazidi minority who fled Sinjar and surrounding areas in early August. Jolie spoke to people with dramatic stories of escape, including people who managed to flee their imprisonment by walking through the night and hiding by day. She also met elderly women who were among the 196 Yazidis recently released by insurgents and now staying in the informal settlement at Khanke.
    The women recounted their ordeal of kidnap, detention, escape, and release. Jolie listened to the stories of extreme hardship and loss, including from people who still have sons, husbands and daughters detained, and others who had heard their daughters were moved to Syria. Others had lost all contact with their loved ones and had no idea of their fate.
    "Nothing can prepare you for the horrific stories of these survivors of kidnap, abuse and exploitation and to see how they cannot all get the urgent help they need and deserve," Jolie said. "The needs so dramatically outstrip the resources available in this vast crisis. Much more international assistance is needed," the Special Envoy added.
    Funding shortfalls have affected the scale and type of programmes to help survivors of violence and human rights abuses alongside the provision of shelter and other assistance. While much aid has been provided by the government, UNHCR and partners over the last six months -- including 34 new camps built or under construction -- aid operations are hampered by lack of funding alongside security constraints. UNHCR, for example, has received only 53 per cent of its required USD 337 million for its response to internal displacement in Iraq during 2014 and has received the go-ahead to proceed on projected funding for only 31per cent of its required USD 556 for 2015.
    The Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) is hosting some 900,000 displaced people, placing an enormous strain on hosting communities, authorities and infrastructure. The huge influx of people from Mosul and Sinjar between June and August 2014 caused a three-month delay in the start of the school year, as over 700 public schools in Dohuk were occupied by uprooted people. An estimated 20 per cent of the five million people in the KRI are either displaced Iraqis from elsewhere or refugees.

    "I am very thankful to the Kurdish authorities for hosting so many displaced Iraqis alongside Syrian refugees at a time when they are facing so many challenges," the Special Envoy said.

    "The international community has to step up and do more," Angelina declared.

    The weekend also brought reports of a possible execution.  Ben McGrath (WSWS) reports:
    A video purportedly showing the death of one of the two Japanese hostages held by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was released late Saturday night. The other hostage is still being held by the group, which has reduced its ransom demand from $100 million per person to a prisoner exchange involving a woman held in Jordan over a 2005 terror bombing.
    The newest video is a still picture with audio showing one of the hostages, reporter Kenji Goto, holding a picture of the other hostage, Haruna Yukawa, beheaded.

    The accompanying audio is Goto speaking in English and issuing ISIS’s new demand for the release of Sajida al-Rishawi. “It is simple. You give them Sajida and I will be released,” he says.

    Will Ripley (CNN -- link is video) reports on the issue here.  The Malaysian Star explains Sajida al-Rishawi went to Jordan with her husband:

    Rishawi and her husband targeted a wedding in a hotel ballroom. After Shamari noticed that his wife was having trouble detonating her explosives, he pushed her out of the room. He then blew himself up, klling 38 people, reported the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
    Rishawi fled the scene but was captured by the authorities shortly after. 
    She appeared in a dramatic televised confession in November 2005 wearing the bombs that she had planned to set off.

    According to CNN, Rishawi said on air that her husband planned the attack and taught her how to use the explosive belt. 

    Iraqi Spring MC notes that the Spanish government is using "terror" as the stated reason for sending 300 troops into Iraq.  And Amanda Dolasinski (Fayetteville Observer via Stars and Stripes) points out:

    Now, more than three years after the U.S. military presence in Iraq was thought over, about a quarter of the Panther Brigade will return with a new mission to help train Iraqi forces to fight the Islamic State.
    About 1,000 paratroopers from the brigade will deploy this week as part of the Operation Inherent Resolve mission.

    As we noted in yesterday's "Editorial: We speak out when?" at Third:

    The White House sent US Secretary of State John Kerry to argue, December 9th, to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Congress must pass an authorization for US President Barack Obama's actions in Iraq and Syria and that this legislation must include that Barack can send US combat troops into Iraq.
    When do we plan to address that?
    The peace movement -- or what now passes for it -- keeps ignoring it.
    They have time to trash a film and trash a dead man.
    Because they 'care,' you understand.
    They just don't want to work to stop Congress from okaying ground troops for combat in Iraq.
    A number of groups are planning a protest in DC . . . for mid-March.
    Do you really think Congress won't have passed an authorization by then?
    And are you unable to plan a protest and to call for people to demand their representatives in Congress refuse to give Barack authority to put US troops into combat?
    Just US troops being in Iraq means they may get into combat.
    That's what happened to Canadian forces.
    Last week,  the Canadian government acknowledged that  combat took place for Canada and the Islamic State.  Al Jazeera reports:

    Canadian special forces have clashed with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group by exchanging gunfire in Iraq in recent days, in the first confirmed ground battle between Western troops and ISIL, a senior officer has said.
    The Canadians came under mortar and machine gun fire while training Iraqi troops near front lines and shot back in what Canadian special forces commander Brigadier General Michael Rouleau described as self-defence, killing the ISIL fighters. 
    Rouleau said the melee had taken place in the previous seven days and was "the first time we've taken fire and returned fire" in Iraq, where the armed group has overrun large areas.

    Just US troops being on the ground in Iraq means possible combat.

    All Iraq News reports, "An officer within the Canadian Army confirmed that a Canadian special force clashed with militants of the ISIL in Iraq for the second time within few days. "

    But let's all pretend it's not possible.

    A number of Canadians were pretending that until last week.

    Pretending works really well if you want to live in denial.  Chelsea Manning is imprisoned for truth telling but those who refuse to call out US President Barack Obama -- there are so many, like the ass that went on Flasphpoints -- so-called leader of Courage to Resist -- earlier this month who trashed Hillary Clinton for what was done to Bradley.

    But Little Jeff never could mention Barack, could he?

    Barack declared Chelsea guilty -- publicly.  He's also the one who made the decision to go after Chelsea.  He could have stopped it at any time.  But Wee Wee Little Jeff couldn't call out Barack.


    Little Jeff has no courage at all.

    Let's talk Chelsea.  Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released  military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Private Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December 2012. At the start of 2013, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial. The court-martial was supposed to begin before the November 2012 election but it was postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a record of his actual actions. February 28th, Bradley admitted he leaked to WikiLeaks.  And why.

    Bradley Manning:   In attempting to conduct counter-terrorism or CT and counter-insurgency COIN operations we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and not being suspicious of and avoiding cooperation with our Host Nation partners, and ignoring the second and third order effects of accomplishing short-term goals and missions. I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as [missed word] as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.
    I also believed the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of time by different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment everyday.

    For truth telling, Brad was punished by the man who fears truth: Barack Obama. Tuesday, July 30, 2013, Bradley was convicted of all but two counts by Colonel Denise Lind, the military judge in his court-martial.  August 21, 2013, Bradley was sentenced to 35 years.  August 22, 2013, Manning issued a statement through NBC's Today show thanking supporters and declaring, " I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility). I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back."

    Chelsea Manning remains imprisoned.  Nick Ford (Muscatine Journal) noted her last week:

    Given this history of knowing ignorance, how could Obama not know about Chelsea Manning? Obama’s history of protecting other big political dissidents is also abysmal. Just ask Edward Snowden, who had to flee the country to make sure he wasn’t detained like Chelsea Manning, before he released information to the public that the government found embarrassing. Is that a sign of a free society?
    I suspect Obama does know who Chelsea Manning is, but for some reason she doesn’t count as someone who has been persecuted for her struggles as someone who is transgender — despite the fact that during her pre-trial hearing Marine Corps Master Sgt. Craig Blenis defended the pretrial detention on the basis of Manning’s gender dysphoria because “that’s not normal, sir.”

    Imprisoning Chelsea wasn't enough, going after Ed Snowden wasn't enough.  Barack's war on truth tellers never ends.  This is made even more clear by a press release WikiLeaks issued this morning:

    Today, WikiLeaks' lawyers have written to Google and the US Department of Justice concerning a serious violation of the privacy and journalistic rights of WikiLeaks' staff. Investigations editor Sarah Harrison, Section Editor Joseph Farrell and senior journalist and spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson have received notice that Google had handed over all their emails and metadata to the United States government on the back of alleged 'conspiracy' and 'espionage' warrants carrying up to 45 years in prison.
    Importantly, the warrants reveal for the first time a clear list of the alleged offences the US government is trying to apply in its attempts to build a prosecution against Julian Assange and other WikiLeaks staff. The offences add up to a total of 45 years of imprisonment.
    The US government is claiming universal jurisdiction to apply the Espionage Act, general Conspiracy statute and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to journalists and publishers – a horrifying precedent for press freedoms around the world. Once an offence is alleged in relation to a journalist or their source, the whole media organisation, by the nature of its work flow, can be targeted as alleged 'conspiracy'. Julian Assange, WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief said: 'WikiLeaks has out endured everything the Obama administration has thrown at us and we will out endure these latest "offences" too.'
    The alleged offences are:

    • Espionage: 18 U.S.C. § 793(d) - imprisonment up to 10 years
    • Conspiracy to commit espionage: 18 U.S.C. § 793(g) - imprisonment up to 10 years
    • The theft or conversion of property belonging to the United States government: 18 U.S.C. § 641 - imprisonment up to 10 years
    • Violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act: 18 U.S.C. § 1030 - imprisonment up to 10 years
    • (general) Conspiracy: 18 U.S.C. § 371 - imprisonment up to 5 years
    In a letter to the US Department of Justice and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, WikiLeaks lawyers have requested further details on the investigation. They state, "We have reason to believe that these warrants were issued in violation of the Privacy Protection Act of 1980 ("PPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 2200aa et. seq, which protects journalists and publishers from being forced to turn over to law enforcement their journalistic work product and documentary materials. The subjects of these warrants are journalists working for a publishing organization."
    The US Department of Justice confirmed to US federal court on 19 May 2014 that it was "very clear that the main, multi-subject, criminal investigation of WikiLeaks 'remains open and pending'," but that to release additional information would "harm" the "ongoing Department of Justice (“DoJ”) and FBI criminal investigation and pending future prosecution". In 2012 the US government stated in military court that the target of the DoJ investigation included the "founders, owners and managers of WikiLeaks". The investigation began as early as February 2010 and has involved search warrants and court orders for the records of WikiLeaks' associates.
    Assange said: 'I call on president Obama to do the right thing and call off his dogs--for his own sake. President Obama is set to go down in history as the president who brought more bogus "espionage" cases against the press than all previous presidents combined.'