Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mirror, Mirror








John Glaser ( offers his take on how the upcoming 2012 election season will play out:
The Obama administration's so-called shift in war strategy -- from country-wide military occupation to targeted special operations and training missions -- is Orwellian claptrap for more of the same. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, in remarks in Washington in mid-September, said that by 2014 "the US remaining force will be basically an enduring presence force focused on counterterrorism." The technocratic pedantry obscures the reality that the war will continue.
Yet, watch and see in the upcoming 2012 campaign how much Obama will use this 2014 date as a stump speech to coddle gullible Obama voters into casting their ballots -- again -- for a reincarnation of their supposed nemesis, George W. Bush. See if Obama gets reelected on a promise that the war in Afghanistan has nearly ended (that is, if recession-conscious Americans can conceive of going to the ballot box with any intention other than voting themselves other peoples' money).
As a matter of fact, watch how much Obama's similarly broken promises vis-a-vis ending the Iraq war will be completely stricken from the presidential debates. The Obama administration has spent years badgering the Iraqis into accepting a large contingency of US troops and contractors to remain in Iraq beyond the December 2011 deadline for a full withdrawal. To push this through, Maliki circumvented the Iraqi Parliament to make the decision dictatorially. Now that Obama has succeeded in strong-arming the continuation of the US occupation of Iraq, they are demanding US soldiers maintain immunity from Iraqi law.
Sadly, John Glazer's prediction is sound, based on past actions and highly likely of coming true. Al Mada calls it the largest US occupation since the Marshall Plan, the US State Dept's intent to send 16,000 employees into Iraq. Approximately 80% of these 16,000, the paper notes, are not State Dept workers but instead are contractors. It's noted that the prospects of graft and corruption are high due to the size of the mission (which will include training Iraqis). Al Sabaah notes that Jalal Talabani met with a number of editorial boards to discuss various issues including the decision to approve 5,000 US troops to stay in Iraq beyond 2011 (that's last week's decision). Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "The statement, which appeared in most Iraqi newspapers Tuesday, is the first by any American or Iraqi official to detail the size of the U.S. training contingent that the Iraqis have requested. It seemed to make clear that there were no further discussions likely on the thorny issue of immunity, something U.S. officials have always said was a non-negotiable condition of leaving American troops in Iraq."
Is that what it seemed?
Because eight hours before McClatchy found it, when I was commenting this morning, I was being nice and moving right along.
What did it seem?
It seemed like Jalal was shooting off his mouth again and trying to make himself look important. What am I referring to? His inflation of his duties as High Commander of the Iraqi military. It's a title, that's all it is. And if Jalal doesn't get that, he must be one of the many Iraqi politicians who's never read the country's Constitution.
Let's quote it. Chapter 2, Article 70, Section I, "Perform the duty of the Higher Command of the armed forces for ceremonial and honorary purposes."
That's the Constitution. If we're going to go off into the world of what-it-seems-like, then let's be realistic about what it seems like -- as opposed to using "seems" to cover for our own wishes and desires.
Jalal Talabani can't stop bragging about himself. That was key to his first term, it remains the hallmark of his second term. What stood out the most in his comments would be his inflating his non-existent powers into somehow the equivalent of the commander-in-chief powers that Nouri al-Maliki currently holds as prime minister.
If we accept that Jalal doesn't have the powers he said he has, that he was (as usual) stroking his own image, then anything else he says is filtered through that prism as well which would negate the so-called "seems" that McClatchy wants to exist.
Meanwhile Al Sabaah reports that Nouri is publicly floating the idea of obtaining military equipment from France or Russia and Nouri notes that negotiations with the US are ongoing. Walter Pincus wonders "So what's the goal of our being in Iraq again?" (Washington Post):

It's been more than eight years since Saddam was deposed, yet Iraq — and even Baghdad — remain a war zone for Americans. Along with those 5,000 private contractor guards needed on the ground, the State Department is now looking to hire a contractor to provide drones for aerial surveillance.
In addition, last Wednesday, the Swedish defense group Saab AB announced that it had received a $23.7 million order from State to buy its Giraffe multi-mission radar system and related services. Two units owned by the U.S. Army are now on loan to State to protect the U.S. Embassy and other buildings in Baghdad's Green Zone. State had to buy its own drones now because the units take 15 months to build. Then it will return the others to the Army.
The embassy area is "the target of rocket and mortar attacks on an almost daily basis," according to a State document justifying the purchase. The Giraffe system provides 360-degree coverage with a single unit, says the document, and the capability "to detect, sense and warn of prospective rocket, artillery and mortar attacks." State even believes it needs protection against "ordnance launched against U.S. personnel via unmanned aerial vehicles, an identified high-risk potential for future attacks," according to the document.

Sahfiq Qazzaz asks a similiar question, one that can be summed up as "What have the Kurds gotten out of this?" (Rudaw):

Amid all of this, the feeling of helplessness among American officials with regard to the situation in Iraq is coupled with their concerns about the dangerous conditions in a country that was expected to fare better.
A report by veteran politicians James Baker and Lee Hamilton in 2006 emphasized the need for a "strategic shift" in Iraq, asserting that Iraq can convince Kurds to lower the bar on their demands only through a strong centralized system, winning the public's loyalty and establishing a united national identity.
To put it in another way, the report's recommendations called for a government in Iraq that can save the country from falling off a cliff. This would have provided the opportunity or the Bush administration to have a speedier withdrawal less marked by defeat.
The events of the last few years showed that the report's strategy was not realized. Eight years after the liberation of Iraq, Professor Michael Gunter says, "Most Shias and Sunnis try to restore the situation to the past… and there are some in the Kurdistan Region who believe it's better for them to militarily confront Baghdad sooner rather than later lest in the future the balance of power would be less in Kurds' favor."

Dan Zak (Washington Post) reports
from Anbar Province and quotes the head of the Security and Defense Committee for the Province, Eifan al-Issawi, stating, "The Iraqi police and army forces are in dire need of aid from the U.S. [. . .] We need continuous support for our forces because al-Qaeda is not an easy enemy and should not be taken lightly."
BridgingDivide posted a video to YouTube last month entitled "Iraq - Interview with a Battered Woman."
ASUDA Women's Shelter
Suleimaniyah, north IRAQ
interview with a battered woman
code name
Since my childhood I have lived a miserable life. I grew up in a small village, coming from a poor family. My father's economic condition was very poor. When I was a child, I had so many dreams that never came true. I had hoped that marriage would mean a prosperous new life for me. But, on the wedding night, when people usually talk about where to spend a pleasant evening with family, instead my husband spoke about all the people whom he had robbed and murdered. So I regretted getting married to him from the first day. Even when I went home to my parent's house, three days after the wedding, everyone in our family, even the neighbors could see how clearly sad I was. They all asked if there was a big problem, like if I wasn't still a virgin. Or that maybe I had a physical disability or something. I was very depressed, and cried a lot. I knew that my life had been ruined. I knew that none of my dreams would come true. One of the reasons my life was ruined was my mother. One of my cousins wanted to marry me, but my mother did not agree because he was not very good-looking and not very well educated. She negotiated with him as if she were selling an animal and in the end . . . my mother and uncle did not agree on an amount of money and changed their minds. My cousin's family was willing to pay only 9,000 Iraqi Dinars, but my mother demanded 20,000. Neither side reached an agreement, so the relationship between our two families deteriorated. So, she decided that I should marry a husband in the traditional way, in an arranged marriage, the bride and the groom not knowing one another before the wedding day. On the day of the ceremony, the groom ran away. He was only brought back with the help of some elderly people who were there at the time, and finally, we were married against our will. When the Mullah had asked him if he agreed to marry me, at first he did not respond. Eventually, he responded "yes." My father and uncle then said that we were still young, and that we would get used to the situation. But after we got married, the situation got worse every day. Our new family never had a nice moment. I had always tried to be very good to my husband, but he always looked for an excuse to abuse me. He failed to find anything positive in my behavior. He would complain about the food or how I did my work. For example, when he felt that I was being too good to him, and he was unable to find any other excuse, he would complain about the way I washed his clothes, or did my other chores. He would start to argue with me, and kick me out of the house. When he would kick me out, I had to go back to my mother's house. My mother would get angry at me, saying that I was shameful for leaving my home, for leaving my husband. She told me that it is shameful for a woman to divorce her husband. While at my parents' house, I was unable to leave or go outside. It was like a prison. It was like when I am here [at the shelter], and I can't go out. It was the same at my parents' house. After a while, I had no choice but to return to my husband. Then in 2004, I had twin girls named Hana and Niga. My husband got very angry because I visited a doctor before delivery, and was told that I was pregnant with twin girls. When my husband found out about the two girls, he divorced me right in front of everyone, saying he no longer wanted me as his wife. Despite this, I kept living with him, as I was no longer welcome at my parents' house. I stayed with my ex-husband for about 9 months, until I delivered the twin girls without a real divorce. When the girls were 9 months-old, I got pregnant again. The baby was a boy. After reaching 5 or 6 months pregnant, my husband took me to a medical assistant paying him $730 to abort the baby. It was December 5th. I will never forget that day. He took me to the medical assistan, who then gave me a lethal injection for the fetus, which put me in a lot of pain. But the baby did not die the same day. It died the next morning between 10 or 11 AM, a Friday. I will never forget that day. At around 12, the baby was aborted from my body, and my disabled baby Niga was laying next to me. After a few moments, she also died. I lost two of my children in the same hour. I called my husband and asked him where he was. He told me that he was out somewhere, off to a public bath to take a shower. I told him that both Niga and the baby had died, but he wouldn't believe that both had died at the same moment. He told me not to tell anyone, not to cry, and that he would come home immediately. When he got back, he buried the aborted baby boy in a little ditch in our garden, and went to tell our neighbors that our girl Niga had just died. They already knew she was not well, as I had been taking her to the hospitals for the last four or five months. The neighbors came and took Niga to the cemetery for burial, while my husband stayed behind to finish burying the baby boy in the backyard. I lived in very difficult conditions during the three or four days of mourning for Niga, and had to be taken to the hospital a few times for internal bleeding. A doctor told me that it looked like my baby had not died normally, that it looked like a surgical operation. He asked me to tell him who had performed the abortion, so that legal action could be taken against the perpetrator. But I was afraid of my husband, and couldn't say anything. I didn't give them the name of the medical assistant who performed the abortion even though I knew him well -- his name is [. . .]. I even know where he lives. He had charged us $730 exactly, then asked for $50 more. When my husband found out that it was a baby boy, he argued with the assistant, and refused to pay the extra $50. He then threatened him, sending him messages that he would tell others that he was doing this kind of work. I am not aware of how this was resolved, as I was very ill. Afterwards, I continued living with my husband anyway, not letting anyone know about the abortion. For this reason, my parents stopped talking to me, and no one attended my daughter's funeral, because I was divorced from my husband. No one came to visit me, so he started telling me that if I had lost two children without any family membmers to pay condolences, he had to take more control over me. I had to say "yes" and agree to his every word, I had to tell him this, because I had nowhere else to go. I continued to live with him this way until March 2nd. At around 6PM my brother-in-law came to my house, asking me to have sex with him. I refused, so he shot at me with a gun. He called my husband to say that he had found me with a strange man in the house. My husband believed him, so I had to run to the neighbor's. He helped me to escape, taking me to a place far from my husband. I stayed the night there. The next morning he handed me over to the army, who brought me to Asuda. I have been living in shelters ever since, in a bad mental state. I have so far, during my three years living in shelters, received no support from the government, not even for the divorce procedures. I still haven't seen a judge, and don't know the legal status of my own divorce. I have seen no good from the legal system. I haven't seen my children in two and a half years.
Today Bushra Juhi (AP) reports on the increasingly bleak picture for Iraqi women as it becomes more and more evident that little will be done to restore their rights. Juhi notes that the World Health Organization estimates that one-fifth of Iraqi women have been abused. Prior to the Iraqi war, they had more rights than any women in the region. The US installed thugs who specialized in ignorance and thuggery and they repeatedly dismantled the rights of women. As MADRE notes, "Despite promises of 'democratizing' Iraq, the US supported Islamist political forces bent on dismantling women's legal rights." Under the US occupation, Islamist militias have waged a systematic campaign of violence against women in their bid to remake Iraq as an Islamist state. There has been a sharp rise in gender-based violence within families, including domestic battering and 'honor killing.' Newly adopted Shari'a laws, such as Article 41 of Iraq's Constitution, have degraded women's rights, making them more vulnerable to abuses." MADRE partners with the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq and, over the summer, Marcia G. Yerman (Women's Media Center) spoke with OWFI's Yanar Mohammed:
Yanar Mohammed cofounded OWFI during the U.S. invasion of her country in 2003. In two rooms inside a burned out bank, she put a sign on the door proclaiming Women's Freedom in Iraq. "One thing led to another," she said, but from day one, the profile of the group reflected the philosophy that "anything military would not lead to a solution for the women of Iraq."
In addition to setting up safe houses in 2004 to protect women from domestic abuse and honor killings, Mohammed fought sexual trafficking and advocated for women who were incarcerated. She runs a newspaper and a radio station under the banner name of Al Mousawat, which means "equality."
Beyond providing services, Mohammed demands parity for women with the men of Iraq and promotes secular and human rights, earning her the antagonism of Islamic fundamentalists -- who have threatened her life. She sees the power of these religious extremists as a direct result of the military occupation of Iraq. "The Americans did more harm than good," she said. "Under Saddam, women were educated." She pointed to how the occupation had left a vacuum for the rise of Islamists -- who wrote a new constitution taking away women's gains. She noted, "In a religious group, there is not moderation. You are not equal to men." Currently, Mohammed sees the popularity of the Shiite leadership waning. "You can't force democracy through a gun."
Mohammed talked about Iraqi mothers who come to Tahrir Square dressed in traditional garb, holding pictures of their missing sons. Beyond being poor, deprived, and desiring social change, they want to know where their children are. It is impossible to penetrate the many layers of security in Iraq, with detainees held in jail without due process as a result of "anti-terrorism" laws.

No comments: