Saturday, April 30, 2011

She can't dress for s**t!




And they were all impressed with your Halston dress
And the people that you knew at Elaine's
And the story of your latest success
You kept 'em so entertained
But now you just don't remember
All the things you said
And you're not sure that you want to know
I'll give you one hint, honey
You sure did put on a show


Tuesday Chen Zhi (Xinhua) noted, "The Iraqi government is preparing to accept the presence of more than 15,000 U.S. servicemen in Iraq to protect the U.S. interests after the deadline of U.S. troops' pullout by the end of 2011, an Iraqi newspaper reported on Tuesday. [. . .] It also said that thousands of employees working for foreign security firms will stay in the country to protect the U.S. embassy staff, American civil contractors, engineers and investors." Nouri went on to hold a press conference that day declaring that he had made no deal "to keep 10,000 or 5,000 or 1,000 or even 100 US troops in Iraq." In addition, Nouri stated that Iraq's forces could protect the country internally (meaning the military can take on the people of Iraq); however, it was not yet ready to defend itself from external threats and would not be for at least two years -- that especially included the Iraqi air force.
Rudaw interviews Babaker Zebari who is the Chief of Staff of Iraqi Joint Forces. Excerpt:

Rudaw: What does the US say about its army presence in Iraq?

Zebari: If we ask them to keep their army in Iraq, I think they will respond positively because they have fears about the region.

Rudaw: How about yourself?

Zebari: Yes, I am personally worried, too.

Rudaw: This means the US army must stay then?

Zebari: We are soldiers and this is a political decision that must be made by the politicians. We can only give our impression to the politicians and they will decide.

Rudaw: What is your impression?

Zebari: We have conveyed our impression to the politicians which is that the Iraqi army will not be ready to control Iraq until 2020.

These remarks are consistent with remarks Zebari has made since 2007. Last August, BCC News reported, "Gen Zebari told a defence conference in Baghdad that the Iraqi army would not be able to ensure the country's security until 2020 and that the US should keep its troops in Iraq until then." Ayas Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) reported yesterday that Iraqi observers believe that a narrative will be found to excuse the government extending US forces' stay beyond the end of this year. David Ali (Al Mada) adds that should a withdrawal take place the unresolved Article 140 of the Constitution (calling for a referendum to be held on the status of Kirkuk by 2007) would lead "armed groups" to attempt to game the system.
While some try to have an adult discussion about reality, others resort to fairy tales. Adult child Brian M. Burton (Foreign Policy) grabs the big box of Crayolas and scribbles:
Over the past few weeks, top U.S. officials have started to publicly press the Iraqi government to decide whether it will allow thousands of American troops to stay in the country after the expiration of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) on December 31st. On recent trips to Iraq, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen appeared to signal that the U.S. government desires a continued American military presence past the end of the year. "Time is short for any negotiations to occur," Admiral Mullen warned last week.
In one sense there is less here than meets the eye. Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen are probably less concerned with whether Iraq wants the troops or not than with simply getting an answer for practical purposes. Complying with the SOFA's requirement that all American troops leave is a massive logistical undertaking, and it would be much better to know whether a residual force will be needed before the final stages of withdrawal begin in earnest this summer. Any extension of the U.S. military presence if troops were to remain past the 2011 withdrawal deadline requires a request by the Iraqi government. U.S. officials hoped that the Iraqi government would share their own assessment of the lack of readiness of the country's security forces and ask for a continued presence sufficiently far in advance of the deadline to enable an orderly transition. Instead, the Iraqi government has been bogged down in its own internal troubles and has made no official moves toward renegotiating.
But the problem is that, while cajoling Iraq into giving an answer, American leaders send a counterproductive, if unintended, signal that the United States wants a longer-term military presence. To be sure, there is some basis for such a position: a residual American force could continue to train Iraqi forces, provide intelligence and other important support capabilities, and, in northern Iraq, help maintain the peace between the forces of Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdish government. Iraq is also incapable of defending its borders and airspace from external threats. Yet however well-intentioned or seemingly obvious these arguments seem in Washington, they are unlikely to sway the Iraqi government because they ignore the domestic imperatives faced by Iraq's political leaders.
He scribbled, "In one sense there is less here than meets the eye. Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen are probably less concerned with whether Iraq wants the troops or not than with simply getting an answer for practical purposes." Yeah and next the White House is sending Regis and Meredith over so they can ask, "Is that your final answer?" Guess they raise them mighty stupid at the Center of a New American Security. Forget what Robert Gates has repeatedly testified to Congress, forget what the US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey has stated, forget what the heads of each division of the military -- Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force -- have repeatedly testified to Congress. Forget? More likely: Don't know. Again, they appear to raise them mighty stupid at the CNAS.
If you want the Iraq War to continue, I'm not going to call you "stupid" just for that. I'll disagree with you and disagree with you strongly. But "stupid"? Stupid is reserved for the idiots -- grown adults -- who need fairy tales. Right now the US and Iraq are determining what will happen. No one is served by the child-like and stunted fantasies of Brian Burton. He needs to grow the hell up and someone needs to ask CNAS if they're a think tank or a fairy tale tank? Of course, CNAS tells many fairty tales about counter-insurgency which they claim saves lives but which is and has always been seen historically as war on a native people. Brendan McQuade (CounterPunch) provides an overview:

Today the War on Terror involves American military forces and intelligence operatives in at least 75 countries, not just Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan but the Philippines, Colombia, Yemen, Somalia and "elsewhere in Middle East, Africa and Central Asia." The CIA is now on the ground in Libya and questions about the twenty years General Khalifa Hifter spent in suburban Virginia and a possible CIA ties are rising. Leon Panetta, the CIA director Petraeus is set to succeed, just held five days of secret talks in Turkey regarding the rebellion in Syria. As the United States continues to involve itself in conflicts like these, counterinsurgency becomes increasingly important. In places like Pakistan, Libya and Syria, where an overt military presence is political difficult, the CIA leads. Under Petraeus' command, we can expect the CIA to become even more active in this regard.

As Philip Giraldi, a retired CIA counterterrorism expert, told me when I interviewed him in the summer of 2009: "The military's got a huge tail whenever it goes it has an enormous footprint. The CIA operates in smaller units. They're civilians. They can blend in. They can have predator [drone] bases in places that politically sensitive like inside Pakistan. For example, the other predators are operating out of Africa. They operate in Djibouti. There's a French military base where the CIA people are stationed. The French would not let an American military presence but they would accept an intelligence group under civilian auspices."

Political circumstances have not always favored counterinsurgency. In the Vietnam years, the CIA was the leading proponent of counterinsurgency and the military was quite resistant. It needed the backing of President Johnson to force its agenda on a recalcitrant generation of traditional military officers. After the Tet Offensive, the military embraced counterinsurgency but only for a time. After Vietnam, everyone -- including the CIA -- distanced themselves from counterinsurgency.

When I asked Giraldi who was the leading counterinsurgent today in the CIA, he told me: "Nobody comes to mind. When I was teaching at the CIA school back in the early eighties, the counterinsurgency people -- the Special Operations Group is what it was called at the time -- was down to about forty guys and, you know, no leaders, no renowned figures. It wasn't that kind of thing. It was an adjunct of the Special Activities Division, which I was in, and was sent in do training in various places in Asia and Africa."

CNAS and former journalists like Thomas E. Ricks join the great unwashed of academia in attempting to 'rebrand' counter-insurgency today.
To return to reality we'll note this from Amy Belasco's March 29th Congressional Research Service's [PDF format warning] "The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11:"
Funding to train Iraqi forces fluctuated between $3.0 billion and $5.5 billion from FY2004 to FY2008. In 2008, Congress became reluctant to rebuild Iraqi security forces as Iraqi government revenues rose rapidly with the swell in oil prices.
In response to congresional concerns raised in September 2008 House Budget Committee hearing on a GAO report suggesting that there would be an Iraqi budget surplus of from $67 billion to $79 billion in 2008 due to oil prices, members called for "burdensharing" by Iraq in the rebuilding of its security forces.
This push to require Iraq to share the burden of rebuilding its security forces resulted in restrictions prohibiting U.S. funding of security forces as well as other "infrastructure" projects in Iraq, including those to rebuild security forces in the FY2008 Supplemental, as well as various requirements to report the readiness and transfer of responsibility to Iraqi units, and the overall costs to train both Iraqi and Afghan security forces. DOD has not provided estimates of these total costs for either Iraq or Afghanistan.
In FY2008, U.S. funding dropped from $3 billion in FY2008 to $1 billion in FY2009 as Congress halved the ISFF request. In its initial FY2010 request, DOD did not ask for any funds but then modified that to request $1 billion in the FY2010 supplemental for expenses that DOD believed were necessary but the Iraqi government would not cover, an amount Congress approved.
UPI reports Kurdish MP Dilair Hassan would like to see some US troops remain in Iraq. Reports deny that a UN force would remain in Iraq but that may be the case. Meantime, Rohan Gunaratna (Sri Lanka Daily Mirror) notes:
Given the delays in the UN seeking similar mechanisms to bring alleged war crimes by US forces in Iraq or Afghanistan under discussion, is the allegation that the UN exercises double standards fair?
The UN levelling allegations of war crimes against Sri Lanka in a report is not unique. It is a common challenge faced by coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, Russian forces in Chechnya and elsewhere in the caucuses, Pakistani forces in FATA and in Swat, Israeli forces in occupied Palestine, and Indian forces in disputed Kashmir and in its northeast. All these theatres have produced civilian suffering, injuries and deaths. As such, instead of singling out Sri Lanka, Colombo should call the UN to launch an investigation into all on-going major conflict zones especially Iraq and Afghanistan where as a proportion more civilians have been killed by US and British forces. Nobel laureate Mohamed Mustafa ElBarade former Director General of the UN body, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), [December 1997 to November 2009] called international criminal investigation of former Bush regime officials for their roles in fomenting the war on Iraq. Over a million civilians have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and the fighting is still continuing. Nonetheless, human rights have become a political instrument used by Western and other nations to pressurize other countries.

The government of Sri Lanka has many problems of its own to deal with (click here for Amnesty International reports on Sri Lanka), but it obviously intends to note the tragedies and crimes that are the US-led wars. They have more traction than usual with the publication of Mohamed ElBaradei's book and his assertion that there should be a War Crimes probe of the Bush administration. (When ElBaradei, former UN nuclear inspector, calls for the same of Barack's administration, we'll take him seriously and not assume he's just trying to generate publicity for a book that's going to be a hard sell.)

Still on the UN, the Himalayan News Service reports, "The Nepali Army is considering sending its troops to restive Iraq to become a part of the 'stationary force' under the United Nations, a highly placed source said.The UN had asked Nepal to commit around 222 personnel -- including 35 personnel for mobile units -- for deployment in Iraq around four months ago."
In related news, Alsumaria TV reports, "The Sadr Front affirmed on Thursday that in case the Mehdi Army has to resume armed opposition, it will include in addition to its Iraqi members other sects and components and non Iraqis as well to fight against the US military if US forces stay in Iraq beyond their scheduled departure late this year." And yesterday, Alsumaria TV reported on US Maj Gen Bernard Champoux "blamed Mahdi Army for some of the latest assassinations in Baghdad. Iraq should establish good relations with the neighbouring countries that are uninvolved in providing armed groups with weapons and missiles, the US Commander stressed."
Assassinations and other violence continues, Reuters reports a Buhriz home invasion (by assailants wearing Iraqi military garb) in which 3 brothers were killed and a fourth was injured and 1 of the assailants was shot dead, 1 Iraqi military officer was shot dead in Baghad and, dropping back to Thursday for both, a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 1 Iraqi soldier and 1 Iraqi military doctor (and left two more Iraqi soldiers injured) and a Baquba home invasion in which an Iman, his wife and their daughter were killed. AFP identifies the Iman as Basheer Mutlak. Aswat al-Iraq adds that the daughter was 9-years-old and adds, "A police officer was killed late Thursday by gunmen in al-Shurqat district, a police source said on Friday." Reuters also notes 2 Bahgdad roadside bombing which claimed 3 lives and left twenty eight injured, a Kirkuk attack in which 1 person was injured and 1 person shot dead in Mosul.

Al Mada reports Ammar al-Hakim, head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (Shi'ite political body), is calling out the continued inability of the government to function and stating it's harmful to Iraq. Iraq lacks a Minster of the Interior, Defense and one for National Security. Not really sure that bickering is the country's biggest problem.

Surveying the region, Tariq Ali (Guardian) observes:
In January, Arab streets resounded to the slogan that united the masses regardless of class or creed: "Al-Sha'b yurid isquat al-nizam!" – "The people want the downfall of the regime!" The images streaming out from Tunis to Cairo, Saana to Bahrain, are of Arab peoples on their feet once again. On 14 January, as chanting crowds converged on the ministry of interior, Tunisia's President Ben Ali and his family fled to Saudi Arabia. On 11 February the national uprising in Egypt toppled the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak as mass rebellion erupted in Libya and the Yemen.
In occupied Iraq, demonstrators protested against the corruption of the Maliki regime and, more recently, against the presence of US troops and bases. Jordan was shaken by nationwide strikes and tribal rebellion. Protests in Bahrain spiralled into calls for the overthrow of the monarchy, an event that scared the neighbouring Saudi kleptocrats and their western patrons, who can't conceive of an Arabia without sultans. Even as I write, the corrupt and brutal Ba'athist outfit in Syria, under siege by its own people, is struggling for its life.
The dual determinants of the uprisings were both economic – with mass unemployment, rising prices, scarcity of essential commodities – and political: cronyism, corruption, repression, torture. Egypt and Saudi Arabia were the crucial pillars of US strategy in the region, as confirmed recently by US vice-president Jo Biden, who stated that he was more concerned about Egypt than Libya. The worry here is Israel; the fear that an out-of-control democratic government might renege on the peace treaty. And Washington has, for the time being, succeeded in rerouting the political process into a carefully orchestrated change, led by Mubarak's defence minister and chief of staff, the latter being particularly close to the Americans.
In his column, Tariq wonders who will reshape the MidEast? In Iraq, at least, it may very well be US-backed and supported thugs. It's Friday, the day of protest and yet it's been transformed to the day of oppression. Namo Abdulla (Reuters) shows up in the KRG at Sulaimaniya, site of "the largest and most sustained of rallies across of Iraq" only to find that "heavily armed troops" have put down the legal demonstrations: "This week, Sulaimaniya's Liberation Square, where protesters had camped out for weeks chanting 'freedom, freedom, freedom,' was a military zone watched over by hundreds of armed forces. The ruling parties have said the demise of the protests represented a success over 'trouble-makers' staging 'politically motivated' demonstrations."
And don't expect to hear a peep out of the US government over the latest assault on freedom of speech and the right to assembly. "Democracy" is just a word tossed around when you're caught on camera.
Ramadi was hard to catch on camera today with the imposed media embargo. Don't look for the White House to call Nouri out for that either. And don't look for the US to convincingly play dumb on this one, US reconnaissance planes flew over the demonstration repeatedly. Iraqi Revolution reports that a cleric speaking to the assembled declared, "We demand the withdrawal of the US occupation forces and the release of the detianees." And the cleric vowed they would "sit continuasly until we acheve all the demands." And Mosul?
The Iraqi Revolution reports, "Clerics of the mosques within the city of Mosul Iatbon on Arabic channels, which have bcome accessible to the West and the non-coverage permanently to the sit-ins in Iraq depiste the demonstrations in Iraq. Demonstrators in all the provinces of Iraq have been subjected to repression by the government forces." Wire, so frequently used to keep protesters away from demonstrations in Baghdad, has made its appeareance in Mousl as security forces attempting to keep protesters from the site of protest. Mosul saw reports of gun fire. And the media emargo will continue.

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
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"The UN and Iraq"
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"The Event"
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"Free press?"

Friday, April 29, 2011






The file said officials then received a call in July 1964 from a mother distressed that her 27-year-old daughter had agreed to marry Mr Obama Sr.

The woman is presumed to be Ruth Nidesand, who became Mr Obama Sr.'s third wife and was white, like Miss Dunham.

At the time several US states still had laws banning inter-racial marriage. Miss Nidesand left the US to be with Mr Obama Sr. the following month.



Yesterday's snapshot included the following: "You pretend to know, Tim Arango, how the protests started in Iraq -- well they re-started. They were enough last year to force the Minister of the Electricy out. But you weren't covering Iraq then and are apparently unfamiliar with that aspect of the protests. " That was incorrect.
I was wrong. My apologies. Tim Arango writes to inform that he was present in Iraq when the Minister of Electricity resigned following protests last year. I stand corrected. I was wrong. Arango was present for that.
A community member found this claim by Tim Arango: "Prior to the Sadrist protest against the Americans, that issue was not a defining aspect of the protests." That was during his exchange with Dan Hind at Hind's The Return of the Public. No, that is not correct. We noted that this morning and that if he had a comment on it before the snapshot went up, it would be included. He replied to Jim's e-mail, "I don't think i have a further comment other than to say that the protests that began in february here have been about a variety of issues: services, corruption, jobs, civil liberties, Bahrain, detainees (especially in Sunni areas) -- at some of them you can hear anti-american slogans, and there have been some smaller gatherings that speak about the american military, but the overall message is that they want to perfect and improve their fledgling democracy. Of course, the Sadrists held their big protest on April 9 against the troops, and demanding that they leave on time." (Jim and everyone who works the e-mails can write back or not, that's their decision. I can't engage in private conversations via e-mail with writers covered here -- critiqued here -- because that creates a layer of conflict of interest and we can take that up tonight in "I Hate The War.)
Again, that's not correct. The protests in Iraq can be seen a series of unconnected brush fires starting at the end of January. By Februray 3rd, connective tissue is beginning to form with all people-led demonstrations.
People-led? These are demonstrations by and for the people. There are no marching orders (though Nouri will claim they are being led from outside of Iraq, and he will claim they're backed by 'terrorists' and by 'al Qaeda'). People-led, people-driven. These are very different from the Moqtada al-Sadr let-me-order-my-merry-band-of-followers. February 25th is the first day of protest where you see real connections between the movements in Baghdad and the ones in Ninevah Province or elsewhere. In addition to previous snapshots, I went over this with 2 protesters in Baghdad this morning on i.m., on the phone with a community member in Mosul and via e-mail with a protester in Falluja. February 25th was dubbed "The Day Of Rage." Protests prior to the 25th were not 'national.' Meaning there might be one in Hawija and one in Baghdad and the two weren't coordinated for a specific day. The occupation and corruption were key issues in the protests, however, even when unrelated. The Baghdad protesters were surprised that there would be a claim that they occupation was not an issue since banners were present calling for US troops to be out of Iraq. And, in fact, the whole point of attempting to storm the US-created and occupied Green Zone had to do with reclaiming that section of Iraq for Iraq. Opposition to the US occupation has always been a part of the national protests.
What's going on is Tim Arango isn't present for protests outside of Baghdad (a comment Iraqi community members make loudly in the community newsletters and one that's already up here in a Saturday entry from weeks ago) and probably the paper was not present for most in Baghdad. That's certainly explains why Stephanie McCrummen and the Washington Post were owning the story of what happened on The Day of Rage (such as here) and the New York Times missed it. The New York Times embarrassed itself as journalistic organizations -- international ones -- and human rights organizations called out what happened on Feb. 25th but the Times?
Their deference to Nouri al-Maliki is rather sad when you consider that the paper had a few outstanding reporters in Iraq (including Damien Cave) and now they're just lackeys. If Tim doesn't like that judgment call on my part, try explaining why Nouri's trashing of protesters and telling people not to participate in the Day of Rage receives more prominence than the Day of Rage actions? In the article about the Day of Rage -- or allgedly about it -- Jack Healy and Michael S. Schmidt don't open with the attack on journalists or attacks on protesters. They do one setnence and then want to rush to "high-ranking Iraqi officials." And then it's time for paragraphs on Nouri and it's paragraph seven before we actually meet a protester -- in a story about the Day of Rage. Paragraph seven of a 16 paragraph story. And for some reason, we still have to meet the US military in the story. Don't think that the last nine paragraphs are about the protesters or -- and this goes to Dan Hind's issue -- explaing what brought to protesters out in the streets. Now let's contrast that with Stephanie McCrummen's article for the Post -- which is award-worthy. Here's the opening:
Iraqi security forces detained hundreds of people, including prominent journalists, artists and intellectuals, witnesses said Saturday, a day after nationwide demonstrations brought tens of thousands of Iraqis into the streets and ended with soldiers shooting into crowds.
Four journalists who had been released described being rounded up well after they had left a protest at Baghdad's Tahrir Square. They said they were handcuffed, blindfolded, beaten and threatened with execution by soldiers from an army intelligence unit.
"It was like they were dealing with a bunch of al-Qaeda operatives, not a group of journalists," said Hussam al-Ssairi, a journalist and poet, who was among a group and described seeing hundreds of protesters in black hoods at the detention facility. "Yesterday was like a test, like a picture of the new democracy in Iraq."
Protesters mostly stayed home Saturday, following more than a dozen demonstrations across the country Friday that killed at least 29 people, as crowds stormed provincial buildings, forced local officials to resign, freed prisoners and otherwise demanded more from a government they only recently had a chance to elect.
And that's just the opening. And, as we've noted before, the New York Times editorial board has commented on these events . . . even though the paper's reporters never filed on it. Woops. This is what has so many people outraged about the bad coverage. In fairness to the reporters for the Times, the paper wasn't interested at all in Iraq. They were Cairo-obsessed and flooding the zone on that -- pushing Iraq right out of the paper during this very key time (one that you better believe will be in the history books) -- and then they did a brief withdrawal on Cairo before setting off to Libya. Somewhere in all of that, they tried to flood the zone on the Japan tsunami but only demonstrated that they do their best tsunami work when most of the staff is on vacation (see January 2005).
Show me where the Times took serious what the Post did? Again, from Stephanie's article:
Ssairi and his three colleagues, one of whom had been on the radio speaking in support of protesters, said about a dozen soldiers stormed into a restaurant where they were eating dinner Friday afternoon and began beating them as other diners looked on in silence. They drove them to a side street and beat them again.
Then, blindfolded, they were driven to the former Ministry of Defense building, which houses an intelligence unit of the Iraqi army's 11th Division, they said. Hadi al-Mahdi, a theater director and radio anchor who has been calling for reform, said he was blindfolded and beaten repeatedly with sticks, boots and fists. One soldier put a stick into Hadi's handcuffed hands and threatened to rape him with it, he said.
Where's the paper's coverage of that?
The Times has never known what was going on -- at least not judging by what's made it into the paper. (And it's falling back into its habit of rendering Iraqi women invisible.) Tim Arango overestimates the influence of Moqtada al-Sadr in my opinion (see April 19th snapshot and, as I noted then, that's in contrast with the State Dept so I will applaud Arango for refusing to go along with the State Dept's official line -- though I do think the State Dept is right in this case). He basically elevates Moqtada to officialdom and there is no higher status for the New York Times. So unless it's a small protest ordered by Moqtada (the April 8th one), the paper's really not interested. They'll serve up a ton of quotes from all the people who weren't at the protest and try to pretend that such an article actually covered the protests. Or they'll go ga-ga for Ahmed Chalabi all over again and treat his attempts at deflecting attention from protests against the Iraqi government as genuine protests.
Real protests are led by the people. They don't have to be ordered to show up. The Iraqi people have shown up for their events. And those events aren't connected to Moqtada or Chalabi so the paper's not interested. Real violence took place on February 25th but, to read the New York Times, it was the protesters who were violent -- they knocked over two of the barricade walls to the Green Zone!!!! The kidnapping and torturing of journalists and protesters never happened to read the New York Times' report. It's amazing that the paper not only took sides but took sides against the people. The paper's done a lousy job covering the protests. Dan Hind's criticism actually was on the mark. You do not learn about the protesters from the paper of record. Instead you learn what Nouri thinks or what some lying flack for the US military thanks -- and the spokesperson quoted about what a great job the Iraqi military was doing was a lying flack.
More importantly that's the end of Feburary. Where's the paper's coverage of the ongoing assault in Mosul? Where is that? Does Moqtada need to call a protest in Mosul for it to get attention from the New York Times?
These questions go beyond Tim Arango who is a reporter and not an editor for the paper. He's pitching ideas and many who covered Iraq for the paper can share their difficulties -- and many have shared them in e-mails to this site -- in convincing someone with the paper in the US that ____ is a story in Iraq and needs to be covered.

But a question he should be asking himself is: Where is the humanity? It took Sabrina Tavernise to bring the humanity onto the pages of the New York Times (Dexy and Burnsie appeared to see the whole thing as a video game). Others who followed her managed to keep that alive. It's gone now. And it's hard not to be reminded that this is the paper that reported on the murder (not the gang-rape) of Abeer in near real time but couldn't name her. This is the paper that when the truth came out that 14-year-old Abeer was gang-raped and murdered, that she was gang-raped as her five-year-old sister and her parents were killed in the next room, still couldn't name her. This is the paper that 'reported' on an Article 32 hearing on the crimes and the conspiracy (the murders and gang-rape were carried out by US soliders) and still couldn't name her. By contrast, Ellen Knickmeyer at the Post was reporting on Abeer from the minute the news came out that US soldiers might have been responsible for the crimes (and they were, and they either entered a plea of guilty or were convicted) and she had no problem providing a name.
Sabrina Tavernise provided Iraqi people with the dignity they deserve and gave them life on the pages of the New York Times. It's really sad that this accomplishment which Cara Buckley, Alissa J. Rubin, Damien Cave and so many others kept alive is now disappearing. That may be due to the fact that articles that do make the paper (as opposed to the ones that only show up on the paper's blog) have to be shorter and shorter and shorter. (It's always surprising when a paper comes to the conclusion that they're selling to non-readers.) But it's happening.
Happening tomorrow, according to Iraqi Revolution's al-Obeidi, "the sons of Mosul preparing for a major demonstration tomorrow". They note a sit-in took place at the Anbar University (link goes to video reports from Al Jazeera).
To the President of Iraqi Parliament
we condemns in our name and the name of all the civil society activists and Iraqi bloggers and on behalf of every Iraqi citizen who tries to exercise his the rights within Iraqi constitution, which went out to vote for under the threats of terrorism, we raise your condemnation of the ongoing attacks against demonstrators in tahreer Square and the failure of troops to secure their safety , but on the contrary troops supported
the infiltrators who tries to sabotage the demonstrations
Today one of the founding member of our site and civil society activists and free Iraqi citizen suffered brutal attack and was severely beaten in front of the eyes of army troops without your security forces try to move , is this our new and this democracy that we fight for it?
We invite you to stand and condemn and questions the security forces and to demands from the Government to implement the demands of demonstrators into a realistic, real way and to stop putting obstacles in front of them and trying to sabotage their free demonstrations , they are exercising their right to expression, and we remind you that their voices are the tools that got you
today to power ,
and it will remove of any institution Governor that can not fulfill
its duty to serve the nation,
democracy requires a national army and a Governor to serve the citizen wither they support or opposite their views ,
it is your responsibility either you fulfill it or leave it to those who can
media and the protesters and activists are part of the duty of any democratic institution plays its role effectively and freely is the responsibility and obligation your job to follow who performs them and guarantee to secure for all
For Iraq and for freedom and the Constitution
Condemn and call
Iraqi streets web site
collation of activists and bloggers from Iraq
Iraqis go up against outrageous odds and circumstances to protest and make their voices heard. Front Line notes:
Front Line expresses concern regarding the attack against Iraqi human rights defender and blogger Mr Hayder Hamzoz on 22 April as he was taking part in a regular Friday protest in Sahat Al -Tahrir, a public square in Baghdad. Hayder Hamzoz attends the protests at Al-Tahrir square every Friday and uses his mobile phone to record the events to put up on Twitter and Facebook.
On 22 April he was approached by young men who asked him about his Qalaxy mobile phone (a type of mobile that facilitates connection to social media networks) and then took the phone away. It is reported that he managed to take back his phone, but the group was then joined by more than 9 people at which point Hayder Hamzoz ran to escape the assault. The men reportedly grabbed him and beat him up using their hands and feet, causing him to bleed and almost faint. His phone was confiscated.
The security forces who were around at the time reportedly stopped protesters and friends of Hayder Hamzoz from rendering assistance to him. The attackers then made away with the phone under the watchful eye of the security forces who did not interfere. Following the attack, Hayder Hamzoz, along with human rights defender Hanaa Adwar, went to the army officer who was in charge of the surrounding area but he refused to listen to their story. Later that night the attackers called him on another number and told him not to record or post anything anymore.
Hayder Hamzoz was the only protester to be attacked by the assailants, a matter which casts doubt as to their real motives. It is suspected that the assailants are security men in plainclothes who apparently attacked him as a reprisal against his peaceful cyberactivism.
Hayder Hamzoz, aged in his early twenties, is a prominent blogger and documentalist who runs a popular blog titled Iraqi Streets 4 Change. He also organises the coverage of peaceful Iraqi protests over the internet and has set up along with others a short messaging service which does not require subscription to the internet. Along with his colleagues, he also utilises social media networks to mobilise and document peaceful mass protests to encourage the Iraqi government to expedite democratic reforms. It is believed that the attack on Hayder Hamzoz is related to his peaceful and legitimate work as a blogger.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

No Class In That Family






O our people everywhere in the pure land of Iraq ...

What was expected happened and the occupation supported, corrupt government bared its teeth when the forces in Nineveh province, raided AlAhrar Square last night, controllled and closed all entrances all under the supervision and orders of war criminal Naser Ghannam, commander of the government second battalion, and then have these forces led by the offender Colonel Ismail al Joubouri randomly opened fire on the crowd which resulted in a large number of martyrs and wounded, including the brothers stationed from the popular movement to save Iraq:

1 - Brother Khalid al-Khafaji, Fri 2 - Brother Rakan Abdullah al-Obeidi 3 - Brother Ghanim Abid 4 - Brother Haitham Jubouri 5 - Brother Mohammad AlKadhy, and we shall relsease a detailed list of names in a later statement.

This cowardly criminal act which flows directly in the interest of the American occupation and survival, is only appropriate to the authority of the war criminal Nuri al-Maliki, who will bear legal and moral responsibility in full for every drop of blood shed being Minister of Interior and Minister of Defense.

While we promise the children our brothers to continue to demonstrate and picket, we declare after depending on God the case of civil disobedience in Medeenat Elremah until the criminals are tried in court in the city of Mosul, on top of this list of war criminals is Nasser Al-Ghannam and Colonel offender Ismail Jubouri, which we call upon the renowned Jabour tribe , to disown him like the people of Heet disowned the rootless Nasser Al-Ghannam, which has become a wanted criminal not only for the people of Mosul, but for all the Iraqi people, and we call on this occasion on our people to exercise restraint and to work closely and avoid giving them the opportunity to lure us into violence and confrontation and the need to maintain a peaceful and civil protest and without prejudice to public and private property.

((And no victory except from Allah, the Mighty Holy))

Popular movement for the salvation of of Iraq

Oday Al Zaidi

NCRI notes Monday's assault on the people of Mosul, "On April 25th, al-Maliki's forces opened fire on protesters in Mosul and killed and injured dozens of people. Al-Baghdadia TV quoted witnesses and announced: The forces of the 2nd Division that had entered Mosul two days ago, started indiscriminate arrest of a large number of demonstrators. The protesters, picketing at Mosul's Ahrar square (Freedom square), are asking the leaders of the southern and central tribes to intervene, join them, and support them." An e-mail from Iraq Veterans Against the War notes that Mosul has "become the epicenter of the continuing protests" and, "Last week, Iraqi Facebook pages administered directly by protest organizers reported that government security forces encircled their camp, surveiled and taunted them, and called on them to end their sit-in. Protesters also reported that a low-flying American military helicopter swept towards the demonstrators, in what was interpreted as an attempt to intimidate them. Their response, captured in the video below, was to throw shoes. Demonstrations have been joined by dozens of women, who are calling for the end of the U.S. occupation and the release of their sons and brothers who are held in both Iraqi and US prisons throughout Iraq. This week tribal chieftains from nearby Anbar province joined the Mosul prostests as well." Today the Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "A member of Ghannam's henchmen has now announced live on air that he and 16 other members of Ghannam's force are resigning because they cannot accept his comands to detain women demonstrators as well as shoot at demonstrators. He also stated that there are Iranian officers in Ghannam's force in the 2nd Regiment."
Let's move over a second to one of Iraq's neighbors, Syria. Eleanor Hall (The World Today with Eleanor Hall, Australia's ABC -- link has text and audio) summarizes the current events as follows, "Now to Syria where anti-government protesters say that government security forces shot dead at least six more people in Deraa overnight in a new round of clashes. Human rights groups say that up to 400 people have now died since the protests began in mid-March. The United Nations Security Council held emergency talks on the issue and the secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, led Western nations in expressing alarm at the deadly Syrian government crackdown." AFP adds, "UN chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed 'increasingly grave concern' at the bloody crackdown on protesters in Syria, especially at the use of tanks and live ammunition by security forces" and quotes Ban Ki-Moon stating, "Syrian authorities have an obligation to protect."
And what about the obligations of Iraqi authorities? Where's the "increasingly grave concern" for the Iraqi protesters? When even the governor of Ninevah Province is calling out the Iraqi military's attacks on the people of Mosul, where's the concern from the United Nations? Human rights groups -- Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Women's Freedom in Iraq -- have decried the targeting of protesters (and the targeting of Iraqi journalists). Where's the concern for what's happening to Iraqis from the UN -- or, for that matter, from the US government?
I'll get a pen and make a list
And give you my analysis
But I can't write this story
With a happy ending.
Was I the bullet or the gun
Or just a target drawn upon
A wall that you decided
Wasn't worth defending?
-- "I Can't Help You Anymore" written by Aimee Mann, first appears on her album The Forgotten Arm
On Mosul, War News Radio posts video from Link TV's Moasic which is from Al Jazeera:
Al Jazeera: In Iraq, security forces opened fire on protesters in Mosul city's Ahrar Square. In light of the events, the Ninevah Provincial Council suspended its official duties in the province for one day, in protest of the security forces attack on Mosul demonstrators. In this video, people rising up are trying to reach Mosul's Ahrar Square. Security forces prevented them from doing so in an open fire on them with live bullets. There is no doubt that this video will be followed by others. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was unexpectedly confronted on three different levels. These days it comes from al Mosul. These are stressful days for every ruler that finds himself surrounded by angry protesters calling for his downfall unless he meets a list of demands. Their first no is a firm rejection of the Ninevah Provincial Council's nomination of a new police commander in the province who protesters accuse of killing hundreds of Iraqis. The second no comes as a rejection to Nouri al-Maliki's invitation for delegation of Mosul residents to meet with him. What is the purpose of such a meeting when their demands are as clear as the sun at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. The government of Baghdad is politically marginalizing Mosul and imposing its security mechanism on the city -- security forces arrest whomever they want and impose arbitrary rules on the people's movements to impede traffic and daily life. And this rejection is based on the marytyrs.
Speaker at protest: Brothers in your name and in the name of all honorable people, we reject this offer! We reject this offer! We say to al-Maliki -- we say to al-Maliki that those who want to talk to us can come to us They can meet with us here in the Square.
Al Jazeera: Then came an official rejection -- in addition to that of the masses -- to the curfew and teh ban on demonstrations because as soon as the curfew is imposed, the people take to the streets en mass. Their actions are reciprocated as if the issue is some sort of struggle to break the people's will and see who will last longer. An additional facet was added to the issue when security forces fired live bullets at protesters. The Constitution of the country allows the people of the country to stage sit-ins and protests but then the land seems to be devoid of a Constitution. Powerism imposed on the people telling them either you stay home or live bullets from above and probably to your heads is what you can expect. In reality a number of Mosul residents were hit after security forces forcibly dispersed protests; however, this has been tried and proven: As soon as people hear the sounds of bullets, feelings of nationalism and revenge are born inside of them. 'Why are they killing us and depriving us of our rights?' So the ruler applies in the end, 'How I wish hadn't killed and how I wish I had met their demands on the very first day.'
Still on the protests but moving over to the KRG, Christian Peacemaker Teams have been on the ground in the KRG reporting on the violence. CPT publishes this piece by Annika Spalde today:
On Monday 11 April, the four of us from the CPT short-term delegation accompanied the CPT Iraq team to the central square in Suleimaniya to meet the demonstrators and the people organizing the demonstrations.
As soon as we entered the square, we were surrounded by twenty-thirty men of different ages. One of them started asking CPTer Michele Naar Obed, "Have CPT done the report that you were talking about? What are you doing to tell the world about what's happening here?"
I started talking with a young man standing next to me. He had been a student at the university, but was now unemployed. "Our leaders are worse than Saddam," he said, with a tired voice. "They have learnt from Saddam. There are no human rights for us here." In his opinion, many of those who come to the square each day are unemployed. "It is very difficult to get a job if you don't have a connection to one of the parties, PUK or KDP. And if you don't have a job, you have no money. You can't even afford to buy a cup of tea."
Michele told one of the men questioning her that Amnesty International would publish a report on the repression against protesters in Iraq and Kurdistan the following day. He said they would mention this from the stage as an encouragement to the people that the information is getting out.
After a half hour we met with two organizers of the protests in a café. One was a journalist, the other works for an international non-governmental organization. They told us how, in mid-February, the demonstrations started in a very spontaneous way, with inspiration from the people's nonviolent fight for democracy and human rights in Tunisia and Egypt. After just a few days of demonstrations, representatives from different sectors of society created a committee to coordinate activities and to think strategically. One decision they took early on was to always follow the principles of nonviolence. Another was to have an "open mike" at the square, where anyone could share his or her opinions and experiences.
The demonstrations at the square in Suleimaniya have become a daily event for almost two months. Demands to the government that it prosecute persons responsible for the killing of unarmed protesters, have not been met. There is no dialogue between the demonstrators and the authorities. The ad hoc committee organizing the demonstrations is thinking about its next step. They have written and published a "Roadmap for a peaceful transition of power in Southern Kurdistan," where they would call for the resignation of the president, among other things.
We're going to be pulling from the Amnesty report mentioned above. But first, Tim Arango (New York Times) reports:

When he returned to his native Kurdistan in February to join the flickering of a protest movement, Dr. Pishtewan Abdellah, a hematologist who lives in Australia but also carries an Iraqi passport, suspected that the demonstrators might face harsh treatment from the Kurdish authorities. At several protests during the last two months security forces have opened fire, and an estimated 10 people have been killed and dozens wounded, according to human rights activists.
What Dr. Abdellah did not anticipate, though, was a barrage of one of this country's more peculiar menaces: death threats by text message.
Death threats by text message. Hmm. I want to text you, I do what? April 12th, Amnesty International issued the report [PDF format warning] "DAYS OF RAGE: PROTESTS AND REPRESSION IN IRAQ" and pulling from the section on the KRG:
At around 2.30pm as I had just finished a phone conversation with a friend, three men confronted me and asked me to give them the mobile. Other men arrived within seconds, including from behind, and then I received several punches on the head and different parts of the body. I fell to the ground, they kicked me for several minutes, but I managed to stand up. They put one handcuff on my right wrist and attached it to someone else's left wrist. But I managed with force to pull my arm away and the handcuff was broken. I ran away towards the Citadel but within seconds another group of security men in civilian clothes blocked my way and they started punching me and hitting me. There were now many security men surrounding me and kicking me. There was blood streaming from my nose and from left eye. My head was very painful.
They put me in a car . . . One security man told me I was one of the troublemakers. I was taken to the Asayish Gishti in Erbil. I was first asked to go to the bathroom to wash my face wash my face which was covered in blood. I was then interrogated in the evening and the person interrogating me kept asking about why I was in the park and kept accusing me of being a troublemaker. I was asked to sign a written testimony. When I said I needed to see what is on the paper he hit me hard. Then I signed the paper without reading it. I stayed there for two nights sharing a room with around 60 people. Then on the third day I was taken to a police station where I stayed for one night before I was released. I was not tortured in the Asayish Prison or in the police station."
As noted earlier this month, "There are many more in the KRG who share stories and one of the most disturbing aspects -- something that sets it apart from the arrests/kidnappings of activists elsewhere in Iraq -- is how and when the forces appear. The report doesn't make this point, I am. Forces in the KRG show up as people are on the phone or have just finished a call. It would appear that beyond the physical abuse and intimidation, they're also violating privacy and monitoring phone calls." Tim Arango's article today makes that even more clear. How do you call someone to threaten them over the phone or to text them over the phone? You start by knowing their phone number. How do you get that information if you don't personally know the person? How do you end up with their cell phone number? Privacy is not being respected within the KRG and the big question is are telecoms cooperating with the government to spy on residents and, if so, when did this spying begin?

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The experts on racism: Silly White Boys












Chen Zhi (Xinhua) notes, "The Iraqi government is preparing to accept the presence of more than 15,000 U.S. servicemen in Iraq to protect the U.S. interests after the deadline of U.S. troops' pullout by the end of 2011, an Iraqi newspaper reported on Tuesday. [. . .] It also said that thousands of employees working for foreign security firms will stay in the country to protect the U.S. embassy staff, American civil contractors, engineers and investors." DPA reports Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and puppet of Iraq, is insisting that no agreement for 50,00 US troops to remaing. He goes further, 'There is no agreement to this day with the US administration to keep 10,000 or 5,000, or 1,000 or even 100 US troops in Iraq." You may notice that while he bandies about many figures none of them are the 15,000 that was reported. AFP reports Nouri held a press conference today in Baghdad and stated, "In terms of the level of the external deence of Iraqi sovereignty, Iraq has a shortfall. These forces will not be complete in one or two years because they need a lot of money and training, especially in terms of air defence. But there is no danger for Iraq. No neighbor of Iraq's wants to enter Iraq by force. So our sovereignty is protected, especially in light of the circumstances and changes in the region." Rebecca Santana (AP) explains, "Many Iraqi leaders privately acknowledge the country's security shortcomings, including its lack of intelligence gathering capabilities and its inability to protect its own airspace." Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) also notes that "Iraq's air force will need support beyond this year".
That is surprising . . .
only if you're late to the party.
Four years late in fact. From the June 14, 2007 snapshot:

The [PDF format warning] Pentagon report has many sections and one of interest considering one of the 2007 developments may be this: "There are currently more than 900 personnel in the Iraqi Air Force. . . . The fielding of rotary-wing aircraft continued with the delivery to Taji of five modified UH II (Iroquois) helicopters, bringing the total delivered to ten. The final six are scheduled to arrive in June. Aircrews are currently conducting initial qualifications and tactics training. The Iroquois fleet is expected to reach initial operation capability by the end of June 2007." By the end of June 2007? One of the developments of 2007 was the (admission of) helicopter crashes. US helicopters. British helicopters. Some may find comfort in the fact that evacuations and mobility will be handled by Iraqis . . . whenever they are fully staffed and trained. Four years plus to deliver the equipment, training should be done in ten or twenty years, right?
It's long been known that the Iraqi air force would not be ready. One of the first to cover the story after the 2008 election -- when much of the press was so eager to pretend all bad news ceased to exist -- is Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times and you can refer to her "Iraq Can't Defend Its Skies by Pullout Date, U.S. Says" as a starting point. On the topic of withdrawal, 'withdrawal' and safety, Kelley B. Vlahos ( offers:
Therein lies the rub -- and the fear -- that the Iraqis won't be able to protect the oil, the rights to which are already being carved up among Western interests, as well as Asia and Russia. The Iraq oil ministry, hoping to boost oil production capacity from today's approximately 2.7 million barrels per day to 13.5 million bpd in seven years, announced a fourth round of bidding in April for a dozen new oil exploration blocks.
Although the U.S hardly dominated the first licensing round in 2009, Exxon Mobil still got in a toehold, as did British Petroleum (BP) and the Netherlands-based Royal Dutch Shell. Now, no one can read the reporting on the 2003 secret memos containing the minutes of meetings between British ministers and senior oil executives just before the invasion of Iraq and not be convinced that big oil had not played a decisive role in the Brits' decision to help us overthrow Saddam. As Jim Lobe pointed out in his recent column, it was one of several self-serving reasons for regime change.
Apparently, according to the memos, the Bush Administration was using fertile oil and gas prospects as bargaining tools to build a "coalition of the willing" (more like "coalition of the drilling"), and BP and Shell were among the companies that were promised a piece of the action. "Iraq was a straightforward smash and grab," charges writer Conn Hallinan.
"What always puzzles me is that people think oil is not at the base of it. Given that the U.S. imports two-thirds of its oil, and 65 percent of the world's reserves lie in the Middle East, what kind of fool would the U.S. be not to pay attention to those reserves?"
One thing you shouldn't do is lie. We favor a full withdrawal of US troops -- an immediate withdrawal. That has always been this community's position. (See "Should This Marriage Be Saved?" from 2004.) From futher right on the spectrcum, Kelley B. Vlahos calls out the Iraq War and does so without lying. I'm being very kind because I realize how little media coverage in the Beggar Media (that would be the "independent" media -- Pacifica Radio, The Nation, et al) there is. So I'm not naming the idiot who seems to think lying is the way to argue for a withdrawal. This time. Next time liar lies, I will be calling him out. And let me be really clear on this, don't cite the New York Times without doing your damn home work. If you're talking violence and you cite NYT as a reputable publication for violence figures, you better know those figures were correct. (That month they weren't and we called it out here and noted how the ministries figures were higher, how Iraq Body Count's monthly toll was higher, how AFP's totals were higher.) I have no idea why anyone would be stupid enough to accept the Times at face value after it helped sell the Iraq War unless they just wanted to lie and knew the paper of record would help them along. There is some solid reporting in the Times -- no that doesn't include the boy who fancies himself Dorothy Parker (nor was Dorothy Parker a hard news reporter, she fell under feature articles with her arts beat -- books and plays). But if you're trying to argue that the US should leave because violence is down, quit lying. Violence is not down. When US officials try to sail a wave of Operation Happy Talk with that b.s., they at least have the brains to say, 'when compared to the sectarian war of 2007 and 2008.' Stop lying. Again, next time, I will call you out and do so loudly. I will school you on everyone of your sources and how you misquoted them or didn't do the basic research required to determine whether their report was accurate. The cause of the violence in Iraq has always been the occupation. Don't start lying now. Thomas E. Ricks -- as he moved from journalist to COIN think tanker -- began trying to shame people who called for an end to the Iraq War by insisting that when US forces pull out, Iraq will suffer a meltdown. Apparently, possessing manboobs allows you to make predicitions. I have no idea what the future holds for Iraq. But we've never lied and claimed that when the US finally left -- whenever that was -- that the Iraqis would group hug and break out into Sister Sledge's "We Are Family." It is highly likely that when the US finally stops occupying Iraq, violence will rise. That's due to the fact that Iraqis are not represented by people they trust. And the US military has propped up a puppet regime for years now. So it is very likely that when their bodyguards pull out, the puppet government may finally have to address the wrath of the people.
But that doesn't change the fact that violence is going on right now in Iraq and has been every year of the illegal war. It doesn't change the fact that any poli sci class on rebellions, resistance and revolution will tell you that occupations breed violence. There's no need to lie in order to advocate for a withdrawal from Iraq. But when you do lie in order to advocate for withdrawal, you make the rest of us look like liars. So the next time you lie, you will be loudly called out here. (The obvious solution is to stop lying to make your case. Your case was solid without lies.)
And the above is not about Tom Hayden. A friend with The Nation just called asking for a link to a piece Tom wrote. Here's the Iraq part:
In Iraq, Obama made a surprising commitment to withdraw all American troops by December of this year, a pledge that has been derided by military commanders and national security insiders. The game, it is suggested, is to induce the Baghdad government to "invite" the United States to stay past the December deadline. Obama remains a sphinx as to his ultimate intentions, but a serious obstacle to delaying the withdrawal is posed by Moktada al-Sadr, with a powerful bloc in the Iraqi parliament, armed militias in the wings and supporters in Iran possessing great influence. On the other side, Saudi Arabia is strongly opposed to a US total withdrawal, which would leave Iraq in the Shiite orbit dominated by Iran.
Sadly, American public opinion is shaped by American casualties, which means the peace movement has little influence over Obama's decision concerning Iraq. Peace sentiment was highest in the years 2003–07, when 3,899 American soldiers were being killed and 28,890 wounded in Iraq. Since then the death toll has dropped from 903 in 2007, to 313 in 2008, to 148 in 2009, sixty in 2010, and fourteen as of early this April. The American public has zero interest in Iraq, although that might change if Obama's leaves a small contingent of US troops in the midst of sectarian violence in violation of his previous pledge.
I disagree with pretty mcuh everything above. (Tom's entitled to his opinion and he hasn't lied above.) Last week we repeatedly noted that Moqtada is not seen as strong by government analysis -- two Arab states, the British and the US government. His influence is seen as dwindling. We even quoted from a Congressional study in yesterday's snapshot about how Moqtada is now hemmed in since he is a part of the Cabinet. (In fact, his bloc is over-represented in the Cabinet.) It would have been nice for Tom to have explained why he feels Moqtada -- who has repeatedly caved in the past -- has 'strength' but the above is all there is on Iraq in his essay.
I disagree with the claim put forward that the deaths don't register because they're few. They're not few. But they're not covered. Repeatedly, to note a funeral, to note a passing, we have to go to regional media. When's the last time the New York Times gave significant coverage to a death of US soldier in Iraq? And there are soldiers who have died from New York state, neighboring New Jersey and Connect. among others. No we had to listen to the New York Times staffer who's 'husband' died in Iraq. Even though he'd broken up with her and even though the paper knew that the woman wasn't being either convincing or truthful (and she really pissed off the soldier's family and friends). Now they were happy to promote this woman who didn't live with the man, certainly wasn't married to him, wasn't even involved with him prior to his leaving for Iraq, they were happy to present her as the grieving widow. So apparently for a death to register at the New York Times, you've got to have some woman working for the paper insisting, "He was my husband!"
And our pathetic 'independent media'? The last five soldiers killed in combat -- killed in combat, not just dying -- in Iraq were not even included as a headline by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! She didn't even have time for them -- she who grandstanded on the Iraq War, she who attacked ABC for attempts to censor Ted Koppel's Nightline programs noting the fallen.
Again, this is opinion and Tom may be right. But I think he's wrong and I firmly believe that. If you asked people how many US soldiers deployed to Iraq have been died since the end of 'combat operations' (August 31, 2010), most people wouldn't know the answer (PDF format warning -- 31). 31 have died since he and the media (except for AP) declared the Iraq War over. Most people do not know that number. If you asked them the number when Barack was inaugurated (4229) versus the number today (PDF format warning -- 4452), they wouldn't know. Since "We want to end the war and we want to end it now!" was sworn in as president, 223 US soldiers have died. Again, most people do not know that. That's not because they're idiots and it's not because they don't care. It's because the media isn't interested. In the last 12 weeks, Diane Rehm has given Iraq four minutes out the 12 "international" hours she offers (one each Friday). Four minutes. Wow. Want to pretend the media gives a damn about Iraq in this country? They don't.
NPR raised funds this go round -- and did quite well raising funds -- by insisting that you got Iraq coverage from them. The reality was, you really hadn't been getting it. But Kelly McEvers was back in Iraq and you had her and Mike Shuster both reporting. But two or three reports from Iraq a week worked into Morning Edition and All Things Considered doesn't really cover it. The non-reporting shows, the gas bag shows, need to be covering Iraq. There's no excuse for it. You've got 47,000 US troops still over there. You've got 4452 who have died there. You've got an uncounted number of wounded back home. You've got diplomatic staff that's over there and that's been over there and back, you've got contractors . . . This is a large number of Americans and it's an onoging war -- as AP noted in the fall of 2010 when everyone else was rushing to call it over -- and where's the coverage?
Add in that UPFJ, as Tom damn well knows, posted immediately after the 2008 election their little 'war is over go home' message. The Iraq War wasn't over. Tom's on the steering committee of UPFJ, he needs to call that out. As far as I know, the only ones who've repeatedly called that out are Justin Raimondo ( and this community. Tom didn't write the note, he didn't even sign off the note. I know that and I'm not trying to accuse him falsely of writing the note. But he needs to publicly rebuke that action because it was a tactical disaster and it dispirited the peace movement back then but today it has enraged young peace activists. And if Tom wants to be heard by the high school and college activists, he's going to have to call out that boneheaded move by ____ at UPFJ or else he'll just have to accept the anger that UPFJ is the focus of.
And let me say one more thing on this subject. I don't give a damn who wins this election or that election. In terms of national politics, the Congress and the White House flipped and the policies were exactly the same. But some of these people whose whole life is wrapped up in electoral politics -- and in the Democratic Party -- better grasp real quick that you're losing the committed activists. They're growing up with no alligence to the Democratic Party because no one in that party will call out the War Hawk in the White House. We're seeing a lot of people soured on election politics, we're seeing a lot of young people interested in the Green Party and other third parties, we're seeing a revival of real Socialists (the type represented by WSWS which has convictions) and we're seeing a lot o peace activists who now lean right. I don't know Justin Raimondo or I'd ask him, but should be seeing a huge bump in readership because it is becoming the campus bible for many peace activists. It has become the only game in town. (And good for Justin and Kelley and all the others at Big praise to them for having ethics when Republicans were in the White House and when Democrats were in the White House.) It's exactly this sort of movement on the ground that explains why Gore couldn't carry states he should have in 2000. Don't blame Ralph Nader for people being disenchanted with the Democratic Party. And all you've done is allow to happen again. As a poli sci major whose domestic emphasis was campaign politics, I find it alarming that the Democrats have lost the "true believers" and they don't even care -- or worse, don't notice. The true believer is the voter who follows the news and votes and votes and votes. Most will never be as politically active as they were in college, it will lessen and lessen over time. But they will have established a voting pattern. And that, statistically, remains. These are the young voters the Democratic Party lost and doesn't even realize it. (If community members are interested, we'll come back to this topic Thursday night.)
We in the United States are not any different from the people of Iraq in terms of wants and desires. And in Iraq, they saw two national elections -- one in 2005 and one in 2010. In one, Shi'ites turned out in large numbers, in the other Sunnis turned out in large numbers. And they look around and they see that it didn't really matter in terms of their lives. Unemployment didn't improve, potable water didn't flow from the pipes, electricity was not a given. And the Iraqi jails and prisons -- public and secret -- continued to disappear people regardless of election outcome. And that's why they protest. That's why they go into the streets and risk being beaten or shot or killed or kidnapped or rounded up by Iraqi forces (or Kurdish forces for those in the KRG). They show tremendous bravery and a desire for the basics that were promised them.
They protest whether or not reporters are present. They're fully aware that the international media has largely abandoned them. It's really easy to protest in Egypt when you know the whole world's watching because every news outlet in the world sent in reporters. In Iraq, not even the appalling reports that Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have been releasing on what's happening to the protesters (and the Iraqi journalists covering the protests) has managed to move the ones who determine what appears in your paper or what floats across your TV screen.
The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "Today the Shiyoukh of Mosul called upon all International Humanitarian Agencies including the UN to come to Mosul and see at first hand what is happening. But I believe that all these NGOs are quite deaf, blind and dumb." Dar Addustour reported on the ongoing attempts to intimidate the people of Mosul. While the military in many other Arab countries spent the year thus far defedning the people, in Iraq, the military attacks the people. Dar Addustour counts 10 people injured in Mosul yesterday by the Iraqi military. The paper notes that Nineveh Province Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi suspended work hours yesterday to protest the military's attack on demonstrators and they quote the governor stating, "We reject the use of the security forces against protestors and demonstrators who have today been demonstrating for 17 days." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN -- note the photo that runs with the story) notes 1 protester was killed in Mosul and twenty-one were wounded due to the 'security' forces firing on them today and "After the incident, local officialssaid provincial Gov. Atheel al-Nujaifi called for acts of civil disobedience across the province in response to the shootings." Aswat al-Iraq reports, "Ninewa Province's Governor, Athil al-Nujeify, has charged the Province's Ninewa Security Operations command with responsibility for recent 'bloodshed' in Mosul, the center of the province." They quote Nujaifi stating, "I burden the Ninewa Operations Command with responsibility for bloodsheds among demonstrators who had organized sit-in demonstrations in central Mosul's al-Ahrar (Liberation) Square." Does Maliki -- does the US -- really think you can bully and push around people like this? These aren't people taking up guns (I'm not condemning or applauding those who have taken up guns), these are people using the rights guaranteed to them in their Constitution and being attacked by Iraqi military for it. Does no one see what happens next? Does no one realize the distrust this is breeding in Iraq? This is insane. The United Nations should have strongly condmended it some time ago.

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