Once Upon a Time in Iraq
9pm, BBC Two
The film-maker James Bluemel, whose powerful 2016 series Exodus told the story of the European refugee crisis, turns his attention to documenting the legacy of the Iraq war. Told through first-person testimony, this series interviews Iraqi civilians, soldiers and journalists, who recount their histories of the war. We open with the story of Waleed Neysif, who was only 18 when the war began in 2003 and who initially supported it in the hope the country would be westernised. Ammar Kalia
Pick of the day: Once Upon A Time In Iraq
9pm, BBC Two
The 2003 invasion of Iraq is given a fresh perspective in a series from James Bluemel, the director of the acclaimed Exodus: Our Journey, which put camera phones in the hands of refugees fleeing to Europe. His compelling new documentary is a mosaic of individual witnesses to the US-British conquest and its Isis-infested aftermath, but instead of the usual gamut of politicians and generals, these are “normal” Iraqis ranging from comedians, formerly West-obsessed teens, a farmer’s wife from Saddam Hussein’s home town, Tikrit, and a Saddam loyalist. We also hear from Americans, including a chilling ex-Marine who seems to have modelled himself on Rambo.
Um Qusay, dressed in a black, sequined abaya and hijab, takes a slow drag on her cigarette as she recalls the execution of Iraqi men in her village who tried to assassinate their president. A Rambo-esque former US marine readies himself with a swig of tequila before sharing his violent tale.
Once Upon a Time in Iraq, a new documentary series airing on BBC Two from tonight, conveys the complex road to the Iraq war through the eyes of civilians, journalists and soldiers, 17 years on from an invasion that has fractured the world.
Mark Alan, a retired schoolteacher from Fort Collins, Colorado, is something of a late developer. He was 42 when he "came to faith” and 65 when he married for the first time, with Duygu, a Protestant convert from Turkey. “It was love at first sight,” Alan, now 73, recalled in a telephone interview with Al-Monitor. The couple settled into a comfortable life in the Aegean port city of Izmir. “I always felt safe in Turkey, I had a real heart for the Turkish people,” Alan said. Then in a single day, their whole world fell apart. Alan was on his way back from the United States last June when he was pulled aside at the airport by Turkish police and told he was banned from entering the country ever again. “They didn’t explain why,” Alan said. He insisted that he had no role in the local church in Izmir where his wife served as a book keeper.
Alan is among more than 50 foreign Protestants, including Finns, Germans and South Koreans, who have been summarily banned from Turkey as recently as June 26 on the grounds they present “a threat to Turkey’s public order and public health.” Some 26 are US citizens.
The wave of deportations began soon after Andrew Brunson, a pastor from North Carolina, was freed from a jail near Izmir in October 2018 after serving two years on outlandish terrorism charges linked to the failed July 2016 attempt to violently topple Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The evictions are continuing full throttle and tearing families like Alan’s apart.
On June 5 of this year, Joy Anna Crow Subasiguller, the American wife of a Turkish pastor in Ankara, was notified by Turkey’s Interior Ministry that her residence permit was not being renewed. She was given 10 days to leave. No reason was offered to the 39-year-old mother of three. She is still breastfeeding the couple’s 4½-month-old daughter, Derin Mercy.
“I am sad at the prospect of my family having to leave our home, my husband’s precious family, and our friends and church family,” Subasiguller told Al-Monitor. She is appealing the decision in a Turkish court. Subasiguller has lived in Turkey for the past 10 years. She said she expected an answer within one or two months. Similar appeals have all been rejected.
Thousands of people travelled from several southern Iraqi provinces to Baghdad in the early hours of Sunday morning, protesting an end to monthly, government-allocated compensation as part of an economic reform package announced by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.
“They fired on us upon direct orders from Kadhimi and killed two of us,” protester spokesperson Sheikh Amer Shalan Rafawi told Rudaw.
[Ronan] Farrow, who has the distinction, along with Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor of the Times, of receiving a Pulitzer Prize for witch-hunting, is relatively quiet these days. The last article of his New Yorker lists was posted February 25.
It may well be that the immediate electoral concerns of the Democrats, once Weinstein was disposed of, loom large in this. The charges of sexual misconduct leveled by former staffer Tara Reade in March against Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic Party presidential campaign, were received coldly by the Times and the media generally (except for its openly pro-Trump wing). Unquestionably, in that case, the #MeToo campaign and its slogan of “Believe women” cut across the plans and politics of the Times, the New Yorker, Time and the sections of the American ruling elite for whom they speak.
Reade’s claims have been treated with skepticism, as they may well deserve, and she has more or less disappeared from the headlines.
Alyssa Milano, Jessica Valenti and other #MeToo promoters have made clear that whether they believe Reade or not, that will not stand in the way of their supporting Biden. Valenti’s comments on Medium (“The Importance of Believing Women—Even When It’s Politically Inconvenient”) were remarkable for their sophistry and anti-democratic spirit. She argued it was the responsibility of feminists “to come to the aid of a woman [Reade] who accuses a powerful man. We can listen to her story, believe her, and speak out about what Biden has done—not just to Reade, allegedly, but to the many women he has made feel uncomfortable or diminished over the years. Doing all of this doesn’t mean we can’t vote for Biden. We can be loyal to our feminist values while recognizing the moral obligation we have to reduce harm and oust the dangerous bigot who currently sits in the White House.”
Valenti manages to combine disregard for the presumption of innocence (“allegedly” seems thrown in here just for decoration), ridiculous concern for women made “uncomfortable” by Biden and subservience to “lesser of two evilism” and the big business Democrats. The worst of several possible worlds …
Farrow too presumably belongs to this #MeToo/pro-Biden camp. His silence may in part be self-censorship: “Let’s keep everything under wraps until after November.” Or he may simply have been given the word to keep his mouth shut.
Matching funds must be spent for primary activities, including ballot access petitioning. For the general election, there are public campaign grants for parties that received over 5% of the popular vote in the previous election, which the Green Party did not do in 2016. The campaign will have to raise funds separately for the fall general election. No other campaign in 2020 has qualified for matching funds. The Democrats and Republicans reject matching funds because they can raise more money from the millionaires and billionaires who they represent, and no other third-party has achieved matching funds.
The campaign has raised nearly $220,000, from more than 4,000 people in more than 7,000 donations.
Hawkins/Walker plans to use the matching funds to get on the ballot in 50 states and Washington, DC by hiring ballot access petitioners. This is especially difficult during the COVID crisis. Attached are pictures of Hawkins/Walker petitioners gathering signatures. Hawkins/Walker will use much of the matching funds to hire petitioners.
In the last few weeks, a slew of war hawks and Bush-era officials, including Colin Powell, John Bolton and John Bellinger III, have announced their support for Joe Biden. According to recent reports, more will soon follow. However, progressives should be careful. The enemy of your enemy may not be your friend. The growing list of so-called GOP defections reveals a very stunning commonality: they all (like Biden) promoted and supported the Iraq War.
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