Thursday, September 20, 2018

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, September 20, 2018.

If the obscene militarism, violence & death perpetrated by the US empire is one of your top issues, never let anyone shame you for not supporting Democrats.

Let's start with a voter issue.  I support war resisters.  I have no problem with someone going to Canada rather than take part in a war.  Make a life there, it's fine.  It's even heroic.  But if you make a life there, make a life there.

Melanie Green (TORONTO STAR) reports on efforst in Canada to register voters for the US elections:

“We’ve met Americans who came here 50 years ago as Vietnam War resisters, have never voted in the U.S. but are determined to cast their ballot this time around,” Mivasair said. “We’re going to be on the sidewalk across from Trump Hotel at lunchtime on Monday to tell all U.S. citizens that their vote can tip the balance.”

I'm bothered by that.  I'm also bothered by the possibility that childish temper tantrums -- take the We Move To Canada crowd who fled the US because they didn't like the outcome of an election (staying and fighting was just too much for that tepid crowd) -- who are now Canadian citizens, but apparently did not denouce their US citizenship in the process, will be eligible to vote.

But let's stick with war resisters.  You left for good reason.  You left knowing there was a chance that you could never return to the US.  You were making your life in Canada.

I've repeatedly objected to the efforts of refugees to the US -- such as the anti-Castro crowd -- coming to this country and then using it as a base to try to mount a military attack on their former country of residence.  If you've been lucky enough to be accepted by another country, make your life there.  Don't use that new host country as a staging platform for war.  You need to let it the hell go.

That's true of the war resisters who went to Canada -- during Vietnam.  (During the ongoing Iraq War?  Canada has not granted permanent status to these veterans.  If they want to vote in the US elections, that's different.) 

If you stepped on US soil, you would be arrested.  I'm not saying you should be but I am saying that is the law.  If you deserted the US military or avoided the US military draft and went to Canada, you will be arrested if you are caught on US soil.  (Gerald Ford offered an 'audition' process and members of the two types of war resisters who participated in that program all the way through are not going to be arrested.  Most who participated -- I believe the Carter adminstration argued it was 77% -- chose to live in the US.  Jimmy Carter offered asylum -- to those who applied -- if they were drafted but not if they had been inducted.)

I argued, in real time, for a blanket amnesty and one that would not require any process.  People like US House Rep Elizabeth Holtzman betrayed the war resisters of the Vietnam era.  In fact, Liz went on PBS to sell the betrayal -- THE NEWSHOUR, of course.   She lied repeatedly to the press insisting that Carter's plan was just the start and there would be more.  There was never more.  She distracted from the moment knowing it had to happen immediately or never.

We didn't get the blanket amnesty.  Which means the law remains that -- unless you successfully went through Ford or Carter's program -- if you step on US soil you will be arrested.

So I'm not understanding why you believe you would have a right to vote in a US election?  You have made your life in Canada.  As far as I'm concerned, your participation in the 2018 election would be as a foreign actor/agent.  You chose to leave the US and go to Canada where you made a life.  The law doesn't let you come back -- without being arrested and imprisoned -- so why do you feel you have a right to vote in a US election now, all this time later?

Many Americans would not agree with you on that 'right'.  That's in part because so little is known about war resisters -- in part because organizations that took money to help them during the Iraq War and pretended to care about the topic -- yes, Courage To Resist, I mean you -- haven't focused on the Iraq War in forever.  They make their cause around, for example, Reality Winner or whatever that woman's name is.  She did hideous things.  Her only claim to 'fame' is that she released a document on the 2016 election that might or might not be accurate.  But in terms of war --  war that Courage to Resist supposedly opposes -- Reality Winner was a willing tool of imperialism and was actively responsible for the deaths of dissidents -- including in Iraq and Afghanistan.  That's who they rally around because they're not about stopping wars.  They're those disgusting Socialists who want to take over the Democratic Party.  I'm not referring to Democratic Socialists with that statement.  If you're confused as to what I'm referring to, educate yourself.  They've always been around, these tricksters.  They're unwilling to stand up and fight but they latch on to anything that might be a mounting cause because they want to pretend they have momentum.  So they're hitchikers on the highway of causes.  They've existed forever. 

And Courage To Resist, sadly, is among those people.

I support war resisters.  I have helped war resisters.  In the current era, I didn't worry about proving my points regarding the Iraq War.  Sadly, some couldn't get away from that.  And when war resisters hit a wall in Canada, they often stayed at that wall because their support -- such as it was -- needed to prove a point in Canada. 

No, get the war resisters safety in Canada.  Fight the war absolutely, but when it came to the lives of war resisters get them safety.  I did.  And when people kept asking how -- resisters who were in Canada or wanted to go there -- I explained how in one post that remains up here.  The method that my group used worked and the war resisters we worked with -- during this Iraq War era -- have Canadian citizenship.  They can't be expelled.  Sadly, the same can't be said for the other group who seemed less concerned with getting asylum for war resisters -- who needed asylum -- and more concerned with litigating the Iraq War through immigration procedures and court cases.

When I posted here how easy it was -- and it is very easy -- I worried because the Iraq War was still going on (and still is).  I had advised a few war resisters of the method in person and in e-mails -- war resisters in Canada who were frustrated because their supporters were not helping them.  (Again, these supporters wanted condemnation from the Canadian government of the Iraq War.  That was not going to happen.  Indochina was a French imperial war that the US grabbed the baton on.  That's why Canada could go ahead with asylum then.  It was a different reality with Iraq.)  But I was seriously worried about putting it up here because I had no second strategy.  That was the only one that worked -- and as I noted, I built on the advances of the LGBT community.  Posting it, I thought, "It's going to be everywhere and I would prefer it remain underground."  Because when it was everywhere, it wasn't going to be useful anymore.  But after I outlined how any US war resister could get citizenship in Canada -- and how the group of war resisters I helped got that citizenship by using this method -- I didn't see any of the US organizations rushing to repost or steal the method.  I wasn't surprised by the Candian reaction.  I'd spoken with Candian politicians -- including Olivia Chow -- about it for sometime and knew that the position of the Canadian organizations would be to ignore it because they wanted their legal victory on the Iraq War more than they wanted asylum for the war resisters.  But I was surprised that Courage To Resist and the few others who pretended to be interested in war resisters didn't move to popularize the method or even use it quietly.

I'm trying to be very clear as to where I stand on war resistance because I should have started dictating this snapshot an hour before I did.  The delay was over this issue.  Do we include it?  If so, do we bury it deep in the snapshot?  No.  That's hypocrisy.  My point has always been that if you go to another country and make a life there, that's where your life is.  I support war resisters, I do not support those who have left a country -- any country -- doing what THE STAR reports is happening.

In Iraq, the country has a Speaker of Parliament -- as of last Saturday -- but it still does not have a prime minister or a persident.

Yesterday, the US State Dept issued the following:

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 19, 2018

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Heather Nauert: ‎
Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke with Mohammed Halbusi, Iraq’s new Speaker of the Council of Representatives. The Secretary congratulated Speaker Halbusi on his new position and underlined that the United States looks forward to working with him in this most important new role. The Secretary pledged to continue to stand with Iraqis as they pursue security, prosperity and stability. The Secretary emphasized his support for Iraq’s territorial integrity and sovereignty especially at this critical time. Finally, the Secretary noted his support for Iraq’s efforts to form a moderate, nationalist, Iraqi government, pursuant to the constitutional timeline, that is responsive to the aspirations of the Iraqi people. 

So that's the Speaker of Parliament.  Let's turn to the post of the presidency.  The PUK thinks they get to dictate this post.  They don't.  But they are floating Barham Saleh and he's so thrilled to be their nominee that he's rejoined their party after leaving it in 2017. 

RUDAW noted some Tweets about Saleh -- including these two Tweets:

Last election @BarhamSalih with his not even 1 year old party CDJ, campaigned against PUK/KDP as being corrupt. But when ppl didn't fall for this farce in last election and you as a vein politician need a party to put you in power - principles don't matter, perfect man for

@BarhamSalih should be ashamed of himself. Only 5 months ago, he publicly and strongly denied rejoining PUK even if they offer him Iraqi presidency. Many senior members of other parties split to join his party, now he left them all. This tells you enough about the guy.

Of course, he left -- fled -- Iraq in 1979 and didn't return until after the US-led invasion of 2003, so he's used to returning.  Following the Gulf War, the KRG was semi-autonomous and even a coward like Barham Saleh could have returned to the KRG and would have been safe there.  But some cowards are such big cowards that they have to wait until the US invades to return. 

There are huge efforts taking place to make Saleh look like the choice.  That includes efforts by the US and oil empires as well -- remember, Saleh sold the Kurds out to ExxonMobil.  Most recently, IRAQI NEWS joined the effort:

Iraqi Kurdish politician Barham Saleh has obtained approval from the head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Masud Barzani, to be the Kurdistan Region’s nominee for the presidency of Iraq.
A KDP source told Baghdad Today that Saleh, a former prime minister of Kurdistan, who was reinstated on Wednesday as a member of the region’s second ruling party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, had met with Barzani twice away from media coverage and won the latter’s approval of his nomination for Iraq’s Presidency.
The source said the KDP is expected to officially declare its support for Saleh within the next few days.

Massoud Barzani doesn't even like Saleh.  Never has.  Now he's going to back Saleh?  Saleh's seen as an impediment to Kurdistan autonomy and Barzani is going to back him?

KURDISTAN 24 reports:

The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) will have its own candidate for the Iraqi presidency, a spokesperson for the party said on Wednesday.
Mahmood Mohammed, the spokesperson for the KDP, said in a statement that the Iraq president position should be shared by the people of Kurdistan and not a single party.
According to the spokesperson, officials from the KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) had agreed in a recent meeting that the Kurdish parties should agree on one candidate for the Iraqi president role.
“The Kurds should decide on one candidate similar to the united position and program we had in Baghdad,” he stated.

The PUK was supposed to inform the KDP of their candidates before making a final decision, but after the return of Barham Salih to the party, he was nominated for the Iraqi presidency unilaterally, Mohammed explained.

Let's move over to the topic of prime minister.  Who will it be?  Unknown at this time.  We do know that it won't be Hayder al-Abadi or Hari al-Amari -- or that both have stated that publicly.  Hayder's meanwhile launched another bid for the post this week despite his announcement last week.

RUDAW notes:

Hadi al-Amiri, the head of Fatih Alliance withdrew from the race, while former Oil Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi and former head of the Hashd al-Shaabi committee Falih Alfayyadh are potential Shiite-party nominees for prime minister.

"I think it is a sacrifice when Hadi al-Amiri, who was to a large extent the only candidate for al-Bina bloc, is withdrawing and rejecting to become a nominee for prime minister, just in order to protect the situation in the state," said Ahmed al-Jarba, an MP from the al-Bina bloc, on Thursday.

Burhanadin al-Ishaq, an MP from Fatih which encompasses al-Bina, also spoke highly of Abdul-Mahdi.

"Dr. Adil Abdul-Mahdi is one of the prominent Iraqi politicians. He had worked in the previous governments and in many prominent blocs... He is an admired person,” Ishaq said. 
He added they would not stand against any other nominee, indicating al-Bina is open to other candidates.

Naif al-Shamary from former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s Wataniya said the next prime minister should have a "strong" personality and be a "good decision maker" in order to save Iraq from all the crises engulfing it.
The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the largest in the Kurdistan Region, seems to agree for Abdul-Mahdi to run for premier considering him to be an experienced political for the current situation in Iraq.  

Abdul-Mahdi has long been a favorite of the US intelligence community; however, he's never managed to become prime minister.  He has been a vice president of Iraq.  He stepped down in 2011.  Remember why?  It's a good reason in 2018.

In 2011, he quit, resigned.  Nouri al-Maliki was prime minister.  Iraqis were protesting corruption and Nouri was concerned because of what was taking place in neighboring countries.  He asked the protesters to stop protesting, give him 100 days and he would end corruption.  They did.  He didn't.  And Abdul-Mahdi stepped down over the government corruption.

That was a brave stand in 2011.  In 2018, with Iraqis even more outraged by the corruption, it's an even braver stand.  Weakening the stand?  Prior to resigning, American officials had noted Abdul-Mahdi regularly stopped investigations into corruption when they were targeting his own staff.  This might be a dead issue were it not for Nouri al-Maliki thinking he stands a chance at returning as prime minister.  As a result of that belief, Nouri has started a whisper campaign against Abdul-Mahdi that's expected to grow louder over the next few days.

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