Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Marital Aid" went up yesterday as did Kat's "Kat's Korner: Devendra's back, if you want him" and "Kat's Korner: Kate wants to talk"-- isn't that great? A comic and two reviews.
Okay, I am not a Danny Schechter fan. I'm not going to rehash everything here. But I am going to point out that I held him to the standards he stated and gave. I judged his work with the same standards he applied to others. He's back and some are more sympathetic to him than others (you know C.I. is sympathetic to him -- she's much sweeter than I am).
And I was reading John Stauber's "The Progressive Movement is a PR Front for Rich Democrats" (CounterPunch) and realizing why I was so pissed at Danny Schechter. That's him. He's been co-opted. I don't think he was bought off. I do think he tried to fit in with the in-crowd in the hopes of them giving him links and attention.
That didn't happen for him but that doesn't usually work out the way people hope.
Ask yourself if the the rich elite, the 1%, are going to fund that. Leave The Nation and Mother Jones on the shelf; turn off Ed Schultz, Rachel Madow and Chris Hayes; don’t open that barrage of email missives from Alternet, Media Matters, MoveOn, and the other think tanks; and get your head out of the liberal blogosphere for a couple days. Clear your mind and consider this:
The self-labeled Progressive Movement that has arisen over the past decade is primarily one big propaganda campaign serving the political interests of the the Democratic Party’s richest one-percent who created it. The funders and owners of the Progressive Movement get richer and richer off Wall Street and the corporate system. But they happen to be Democrats, cultural and social liberals who can’t stomach Republican policies, and so after bruising electoral defeats a decade ago they decided to buy a movement, one just like the Republicans, a copy.
The Progressive Movement that exists today is their success story. The Democratic elite created a mirror image of the type of astroturf front groups and think tanks long ago invented, funded and promoted by the Reaganites and the Koch brothers. The liberal elite own the Progressive Movement. Organizing for Action, the “non-partisan” slush fund to train the new leaders of the Progressive Movement is just the latest big money ploy to consolidate their control and keep the feed flowing into the trough.
The professional Progressive Movement that we see reflected in the pages of The Nation magazine, in the online marketing and campaigning of MoveOn and in the speeches of Van Jones, is primarily a political public relations creation of America’s richest corporate elite, the so-called 1%, who happen to bleed Blue because they have some degree of social and environmental consciousness, and don’t bleed Red. But they are just as committed as the right to the overall corporate status quo, the maintenance of the American Empire, and the monopoly of the rich over the political process that serves their economic interests.
Now Ava and C.I. have been making that critique for some time. And doing a great job at it. But maybe it will mean something to Danny Schechter that John Stauber has weighed in?
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
In Iraq, the US-led Iraq War has been awful for women. Women for Women International's Zainab Salbi offers a column on Iraq:
On the political front, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has not appointed a single woman to a senior cabinet position, despite the fact women are guaranteed 25% of the seats in parliament by the constitution. The Ministry of Women's Affairs, a poorly-funded and mostly ceremonial department, is the lone ministry headed up by a woman.
Constitutionally, women were able to secure the ability to pass their citizenship on to their children by non-Iraqi husbands, making Iraq one of a handful Arab countries with such a provision for their female citizens.
But on the other hand, women are no longer guaranteed equal treatment under one law in terms of marriage, divorce, inheritance and custody. That law, the Family Statutes Law, has been replaced one giving religious and tribal leaders the power to regulate family affairs in the areas they rule in accordance with their interpretation of religious laws.
Saturday, the Guardian published Peter Beaumont's look at life for Iraqi women. Here he's speaking with Hanaa Edwar is with The Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq:
Despite women's rights being partially enshrined in Iraq's post-Saddam constitution, she is angry that Iraq's women have been politically sidelined, that women are increasingly under-represented.
"In 2005, there were six women ministers. Now there is only one – the minister for women! Women are being marginalised in civil society as well. We spent two years drafting a law on domestic violence only to see it get stuck in the Shura [state] council. We have also been working on a strategy for the advancement of women's issues. Two years ago, the prime minister said he supported it. But it's just talk. There's no reality.
"There is still phenomenal violence against women as well as sexual harassment. I've been hearing about cases of rape in prison during interrogations. It's alarming. Terrible. And it is police officers who are doing it. There's also the issue of the religious culture we have here, which supports women being disciplined by their husbands and only considers women in terms of marriage ."
Edwar is worried about the future once again, having lived through the sectarian war and its excesses.
"I think now we're reaching a critical moment again. A moment of great danger. What we need is a new political movement. New blood. New thinking. The current generation [which has dominated Iraqi politics in recent years] has fixed religious ideas. They want to impose the past on the future.["]
While they addressed reality, others furthered lies. Take Susan Glazer and Foreign Policy. They're a little late for an Iraq roundtable, aren't they?
And I'd say that even if Saturday morning hadn't found this community again doing an Iraq Roundtable:
"Iraq Roundtable," "Iraq roundtable," "Talking Iraq roundtable," "The roundtable on Iraq." "a roundtable on iraq," "Iraq," "Roundtable on Iraq," "A roundtable on Iraq," "The Iraq Roundtable," "The Iraq Roundtable," "The Iraq Roundtable," "Iraq Roundtable," "Talking Iraq Roundtable," "Talking Iraq" and "THIS JUST IN! IRAQ!"
To be clear, Foreign Policy's roundtable, that garbage, isn't about Iraq, it's about counter-insurgency. I find it interesting, for example, that the Washington Post allows Greg Jaffe to participate in that. Greg's supposed to be a reporter for the Washington Post. As such he has to report on various things. I don't see how his embrace of counter-insurgency can be seen as neutral. The whole thing is an infomercial for counter-insurgency. That's war on a native population, for those who don't know. They try to pretty it up and distance it from the blood and bones, but that is what counter-insurgency is. And with the exception of Eliot Cohen, they're all a bunch of liars.
I'm not a fan of Cohen's and honestly didn't expect honesty from him, but he's the only one who was willing to drop the airy pose and talk about what counter-insurgency really is:
The first thing is just to remind us all, counterinsurgency is a kind of military operation. There's an American style to counterinsurgency; there was a German style to counterinsurgency; there's a Soviet or Russian style to counterinsurgency. It's just a kind of operation that militaries do, and I think particularly in the popular discussion there's this tendency to call counterinsurgency the kind of stuff that's in the manual.
[. . .]
And finally, having played a very modest role in helping get the COIN manual launched, I've got two big reservations about it. Actually three. One is a technical one, which is it underestimated the killing part of counterinsurgency and particularly what Stan McChrystal and his merry men were doing [with special operations]. I think that is a large part of our counterinsurgency success. We killed a lot of the people who needed to be killed, or captured them, and that's not something you want to talk about. You'd rather talk about building power plants and stuff, but the killing part was really important, and I think we have to wrestle with that one because it's obviously problematic.
Cohen doesn't lie, he doesn't try to pretty it up. He's detailing counter-insurgency. It's worth remembering the 2007 saw counter-insurgency especially take root in Iraq. Cohen joins the administration in March 2007 (as Condi's advisor and in April becomes Counselor to the State Department). Cohen's words are what they're all signing off on -- Greg Jaffe included. I disagree strongly with Cohen about counter-insurgency being something of value. But I will give him credit for being honest about what it actually is: "We killed a lot of the people who needed to be killed, or captured them, and that's not something you want to talk about."
Not many do. In our roundtable, I noted Stan's "What the US government did in Iraq" and asked him if he wanted to talk about it and the response he makes is that he just wants to be on the record as opposed to counter-insurgency because so few people will take a stand. He is so right. This week's Law and Disorder Radio, an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights), the topic of counter-insurgency was addressed with journalist Patrick Farrelly who was part of the BBC Arabic and the Guardian newspaper investigative team behind the recent documentary entitled James Steele: America's Mystery Man In Iraq.
Patrick Farrelly: I think we have to go back to Iraq in 2004. The Bush administration -- it was becoming very, very clear to them that the projections they had made about how they'd be welcomed in Iraq were just not true, the insurgency was growing at this extraordinary rate, more and more American soldiers were being killed and it looked like the insurgency was at that point, in the spring of 2004, just getting off the ground. So they really needed something. They needed a new strategy. They were stuck in a situation where, while they had a lot of troops on the ground, they really had very few people who actually spoke Arabic and there were very few people who actually knew anything about the insurgency. So this is where they turned to, initially, actually, General [David] Petraeus because the one thing that we've got to remember about General Petreaus -- I know that in the press and among the think tanks in Washington, he is seen as the scholar warrior, but in essence, David Petraeus' position in the US military is as a guy who is a big, big advocate of counter-insurgency. It was at this point that Rumsfeld called upon him to go back into Iraq and to organize the training of a pretty massive police force in Iraq. And he went there and straight away he saw the opportunities in terms of counter-insurgency because he saw this massive force that they could actually use to fight the insurgency. He hooked up with two people there. One was a gay -- both Special Forces veterans -- one was a guy called Colonel James Coughman and the other, more importantly, is a guy called Colonel James Steele. Steele's a fascinating character because he had been involved in the Vietnam War where, of course, counter-insurgency had a major, major outing. It's reputation in the US military at that stage was not very good in terms of the experience in Vietnam. He then emerges again in El Salvador in the 1980s as head of the MIll Group.
Michael Ratner: The Mill Group is what?
Patrick Farrelly: Is a bunch of US military advisers who were essentially training elements of what we might call the Steele Salvadorian security forces to fight the FMLN [Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front] to fight the guerrillas. I mean, we all know what happened there. Enormous amounts of people were killed by these people, enormous amounts of people were tortured. But Colonel James Steele was the guy who was in charge of the American advisers who are training these people and also directing these forces. So while most people would have viewed what happened in El Salvador as a human rights disaster, within the annals of American military history it was seen as a very, very successful counter-insurgency adventure.
In 2004, they begin training Iraqi forces. In 2006 they want to bring in Sunnis to fight Sunnis. Though they announce the Sahwa many times, it does not take off immediately.
Once it does, questions are asked about why the US is paying them -- Senator Barbara Boxer argues that if this is for protection then the Iraqi government should be paying for it. But the US government used taxpayer dollars to take counter-insurgency to a new level in Iraq. That period is the ethnic cleansing period.
The press likes to call it 'civil war.' That term implies that Iraq rose up against Iraq and eliminates any outside, foreign actors.
It was ethnic cleansing.
Why didn't the US leave after Saddam Hussein was toppled? Or after he was executed?
Because that wasn't the end. The end was installing a government that they deemed friendly (a puppet government) and this gets to the heart of counter-insurgency. It's not benevolent, it's not anthropology -- though anthropologists have disgraced themselves by taking part in it. It is choosing sides. It is saying, "This is the side that we will rise up and this is the side we will demonize." The US couldn't leave because there was still work to be done.
Kieren Kelly (BRussels Tribune) feels that the documentary left a great deal out and this is from his essay and critique:
Death squads, by nature, are not a military tactic whatever their “counterinsurgency” or “counterterror” pretensions. Indeed, to the best of my knowledge, it is a universal trait for death squad programmes to seek to conflate combatant targets with non-combatant. This is not restricted to death squad activity itself, but it part of the belligerent political discourse of the putative counterinsurgent regime. During the Cold War, the enemies were the “communists” and deliberate efforts were made to create the impression that the ideological identification was equivalent to combatant status, at least in as much as legitimising killing. The same applies to the uses of the terms “Islamist” and “militant”. Part of this process is to divide the world up into two camps – as Bush Jr said “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists”. But Bush wasn't stating anything new. Early in the Cold War, in Guatemala the motto was “'For liberation or against it.' From this Manichean vision sprung the paranoid anti-communist taxonomy that added to the list of enemies not only communists, but 'philocommunists,' 'crypto-communists,' 'castro-communists,' 'archi-communists,' 'pro-communists,' and finally the 'useful fools.'”13 In 1962, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff defined “insurgency” as any illegal form of opposition to regime rule, thus including passive resistance, joining banned unions or strikes, or anything else deemed illegal by a given regime. At this time they openly embraced terror tactics, such as those conducted by death squads, as “counterterror”.14 In South Vietnam, before there was any armed insurgency, the Diem regime conducted an horrific terror (seemingly forgotten to history) thought to have cost 75,000 lives.15 Mobile guillotines traveled the countryside to execute those denounced as communists and the campaign came to a head in 1959 with the notorious Decree 10/59 under which all forms of political opposition were made treason and any act of sabotage was punishable by death. Local officials could label anyone they wished “communist” and thus secure summary sentences of death or life imprisonment.16 Then, the US deliberately created the term Viet Cong, to conflate political dissent with combatant status, and then, when their own personnel began to reinterpret VC as referring solely to combatants, the US military then came up with another term – 'Viet Cong infrastructure'. Prados defines them as “a shadowy network of Viet Cong village authorities, informers, tax collectors, propaganda teams, officials of community groups, and the like, who collectively came to be called the Viet Cong Infrastructure (VCI).” “Sympathizers” were also counted.17 It was the “VCI” that were the main supposed targets of the “Phoenix Programme” - the US run dedicated death squad programme. Those targeted were usually tortured and/or killed,18 so the programme was a war crime in any respect, but when it was expanded throughout South Viet Nam, it was run in such a way that the vast majority of victims were not in any manner involved with the NLF. Instead of using specific intelligence to target people with at least some known connection to the NLF, lists of names were coerced from detainees physically. Cash incentives were also offered for informers, while President Thieu used the programme to kill political rivals.19 “Neutralizations” resulting from the programme were about 20,000 each year. In 1969, out of a US figure of 19,534 “neutralizations” less than 150 were believed to be senior NLF cadres and only 1 (one) had been specifically targeted.20
In Argentina most victims were not guerillas but union leaders, young students, journalists, pacifists, nuns, priests and friends of such people. 21% of victims were students; 10.7% were professionals and 5.7% were teachers or professors. 10% were Jews who were tortured in specific anti-Semitic ways. CIA noted at the time the use of “torture, battlefield 'justice,' a fuzzing of the distinction between active guerilla and civilian supporter...arbitrary arrest... death 'squads'....” Generals increasingly come to understand the threats as being Peronism and unionism. “One Argentine general is quoted as having said that 'in order to save 20 million Argentines from socialism, it may be necessary to sacrifice 50,000 lives.'”21 General Jorge Rafael Videla defined his “enemy” in the following terms: “a terrorist is not only someone with a weapon or a bomb, but anyone who spreads ideas which are contrary to our western and Christian civilization.”22
It's about killing. It's playing God and deciding who will live and who will die, who will rise and who will fall while pretending that you're letting Iraqis determine their own fate. Not unlike in 2010, when Iraqis went to the voting centers and made their voice clear only to be overridden by the US White House which insisted that Nouri al-Maliki would have a second term as prime minister even though his State of Law came in second. To do that, the White House had to find a way around the Constitution. So they came up with The Erbil Agreement. Considering all the trouble that's led to, some might argue forcing Iraqis at gunpoint might have been kinder. Of course, the humane and adult thing to do is to let a people exercise self-determination. But whether it's a Democrat in the White House or a Republican, they always think they know better than anyone else what should be done. That's why they are so very wrong, so very often.
Hugh White (The Age) reports, "John Howard has no regrets about Iraq. He maintains he was right to commit us to the invasion ten years ago today." The opinion isn't shared by everyone. Today, Andrew Dugan (Gallup) notes, "Fifty-three percent of Americans believe their country "made a mistake sending troops to fight in Iraq" and 42% say it was not a mistake." And in England? Merco Press reports a new "survey by King's College London (KCL) and Ipsos Mori [which] showed that some 52% said the war had damaged UK's standing."
John Howard was Prime Minister of Australia. A lot of people don't know that. He wasn't a very large figure on the international stage. But he did drag Australia into the war. What a proud moment for him today must be as the United Nations News Centre notes:
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a new report, voices concern about political tensions and security incidents in Iraq, which have increased in recent months, and calls on all parties to resolve outstanding issues through dialogue. Separately, Mr. Ban and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, today welcomed a generous offer by Albania of humanitarian admission for 210 residents from Camp Hurriya, located near the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
[. . .] More generally, Mr. Ban writes in the report that the security environment in Iraq remained “volatile and unpredictable” in recent months, fuelled by political and sectarian tensions.
He appeals to all parties to intensify their efforts to find solutions to longstanding political, legislative and legal issues through dialogue and in a spirit of compromise and flexibility.
The protests that erupted in late December in various parts of the country, as well as the relations between the Iraqi Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government, which deteriorated in late November over the issue of security coordination in the disputed territories, has presented “major challenges” for the Government of Iraq ahead of the upcoming governorate council elections scheduled for 20 April, notes Mr. Ban.
He urges the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government to resume dialogue, noting that transparent and accountable sharing of power and resources is essential for ensuring further political stability, economic growth and prosperity for all. “There is no alternative to peaceful coexistence in a united federal Iraq,” he stresses.
Commenting on the upcoming elections, Mr. Ban urges the relevant authorities to ensure the fair representation of women and minorities in elected bodies, including by adopting the recommendation of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) that a 25 per cent quota for women be enshrined in the electoral laws, applicable to all elections.
I have refrained from criticizing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. In part because he does so little with regards to Iraq that he doesn't pop up too often in the snapshots to begin with. But this nonsense about how there must be "fair representation of women and minorities?" You know where else they are supposed to be represented fairly? The once independent electoral commission. That wasn't years ago. That was mere months. There's only one woman who was appointed to that body in violation of the body's own rules. Instead of calling that out, the UN happily accepted it.
So let's quit pretending that Ban Ki-moon's 'urging' of representation means a damn thing or makes any kind of difference.
Now let's move to the other issue, he wants the sides to talk?
Since December 21st, Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani have been calling for a national conference.
Now I don't mean, 'since a few months ago.' That's December 21, 2011. Over a year. And the only one preventing this entire time has been Prime Minister and Thug Nouri al-Maliki -- aka Little Saddam. If you're not getting how long this has been going on, maybe we should drop back a year? March 18, 2012 was a Sunday. So let's go to March 19, 2012 which was a Monday. From that day's snapshot:
The political crisis has been going on for some time. The briefest explanation goes like this.
1) March 2010 elections are held. Nouri's State of Law comes in second to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiay. Per the Constitution, Iraqiya should have first dibs on forming a coalition.
2) Nouri bitches, whines and moans and has the US backing him so he's able to be a big baby for eight long months as Iraq cannot move forward, cannot do a thing. This is Political Stalemate I and this is where Barack Obama made the mistake and owns the tragedy that is Iraq.
3) Ayad Allawi may be a monster, may be Ned Flanders from The Simpsons, I don't know and I don't care. I do care that we have free and fair elections. I do care that when we tell Iraqis that they can solve their problems at the ballot box, we listen to what their votes say. Nouri's second place showing wasn't a surprise. Iraqis were moving towards a national identity and that was reflected in the 2009 provincial elections. The 2010 elections merely confirmed the trend.
4) A national identity would go a long way towards healing the rifst and allowing the country to come together. Instead of encouraging that, instead of respecting the votes of the Iraqi people, the White House backed Nouri al-Maliki -- already known for running secret prisons as documented time and again by the outstanding reporting of Ned Parker for the Los Angeles Times. They could have backed the Iraqi people. Without the US support, Nouri wouldn't have been able to dig his heels in for 8 months.
5) Backing Nouri included telling Iraqiya and the Kurds and others that it really was best for Nouri to stay on as prime minister and, if you'll agree to that, you'll get this. "This" was outlined in the US-brokered Erbil Agreement that the political blocs signed off on in November 2010. This ended Political Stalemate I. Parliament finally had a real session. Jalal Talabani was named President, Tareq al-Hashemi and Adil Abdul-Mahdi were named Vice Presidents. (All three held those positions before the 2010 election.) Nouri was named prime minister-designate. This is why Iraqis, in the immediate press that followed, began asking (and would continue for months after to ask), "Why did we even bother to vote? Nothing changed." Was to piss on the promise democracy, Barack Obama. Way to instill a belief in the power of the vote.
7) Nouri does what he always does, stalls. And after a month, he's wrongly moved from prime minister-designate to prime minister (he did not name a full Cabinet, the Constitution says you name a Cabinet, not part of one, not half of one, a Cabinet) or someone else is immediately named prime minister-designate. At this point, Political Stalemate II has started. Nouri is not holding the Kirkuk census and referendum as promised to the Kurds to get them on board with the Erbil Agreement, Nouri is not naming Allawi to an independent security committee as promised to get Iraqiya on board with the Erbil Agreement.
8) He stalls and he stalls. And has no intention of living up to the Erbil Agreement. If you want to talk about violence -- three ministries are security ministries: Interior, Defense and National Security. Nouri makes himself the head of all three by refusing to nominate people for the three posts. That's 13 months -- during which violence has increased -- that Iraq's three security posts have been empty.
9) Over the summer, the Kurds get tired of Nouri's excuses and call for him to return to the Erbil Agreement. Iraqiya joins the call. Other elements including Moqtada al-Sadr join the call.
10) With Nouri ignoring that call, Iraqiya announces their boycott, he calls for Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq (Sunni and a member of Iraqiya) to be stripped of his office, Vice President al-Hashemi goes to the KRG on business, Nouri insists that al-Hashemi is a terrorist and swears out an arrest warrant. (Adil Abdul-Mahdi bailed on the nonsense over the summer noting the corruption in Nouri's government after Nouri asked for 100 days to address the corruption -- another stall tactic from Nouri -- and then 100 days later attempted to pretend like something would be done. Abdul-Mahdi has used the time since to play diplomat, traveling throughout Iraq and meeting with various groups.) This is when the press pays attention. December 19th. Now on December 16th, Nouri had tanks circling the homes and offices of various members of Iraqiya -- a detail only the Washington Post's Liz Sly bothered to report. ("In recent days, the homes of top Sunni politicians in the fortified Green Zone have been ringed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, and rumors are flying that arrest warrants will be issued for other Sunni leaders.")
11) Iraqiya called off their boycott when Blinken begged them to and promised them that the Erbil Agreement would be honored. A detail Blinken leaves out. It's not one history will leave out. It's cute the way he erases his own involvement, isn't it? He got a boycott ended. That's it. The problems still remain and if he and Joe Biden can't make good on this round of promises, Iraqiya's going to start talking as badly about the administration as the Kurds are. (And, like the Kurds, they will have good reason to do so.)
The only thing that ends the crisis is a return to the Erbil Agreement. Nouri doesn't want to do that. When he doesn't want to do something he stalls and stalls some more. He wasn't supposed to become Prime Minister without a full Cabinet, but he's 15 months into this term and still has never appointed a Minister of the Interior, a Minister of Defense or a Minister of National Security.
Any reference to Blinken above refers to Antony Blinken who was then under US Vice President Joe Biden but is now Deputy National Security Adviser to US President Barack Obama.
Nouri is the problem and you inflame the problem when you pretend otherwise. When one person refuses to budge and you start saying, "C'mon, everybody, let's all give a little"? The other sides already gave. This is not about fairness. If it were about fairness the United Nations would be calling upon Nouri to honor the contract he signed (The Erbil Agreement), to implement Article 140 (as the Kurds want and the Constitution demands). It's not about fairness and the other players should cease to give in until Nouri starts giving in. They've been mature. They've been adults. Nouri has been a spoiled brat and you do not reward that behaivor unless you want more of it.
Human Rights Watch issued the following early this morning:
Iraqi authorities should order an immediate, transparent, and independent investigation into lethal police and army shootings of anti-government protesters on March 8, 2013, and others in recent weeks. The authorities should also ensure that those responsible for unlawful killings or excessive force are brought to justice.
Police may have killed one person and wounded others when they fired on protesters in Mosul on March 8, 2013. Soldiers who opened fire on demonstrators in Fallujah on January 25 killed nine people. Human Rights Watch on March 9 interviewed witnesses to the Mosul shootings, who said soldiers also searched and harassed demonstrators as they approached the protest site and tried to prevent ambulances from carrying away wounded people.
“Iraqi authorities need to intervene before further lives are lost,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Security forces are repeatedly opening fire on protesters. The government needs to find out why and hold anyone responsible for excessive use of force to account.”
The March 8 protest in Mosul was one of the ongoing regular demonstrations that have gripped Iraq’s predominantly Sunni provinces since December 2012, when government security forces arrested 10 bodyguards of Finance Minister Rafi al-Essawi, a Sunni. The demonstrations, called to protest what the Sunni demonstrators say is their unfair treatment by the government and the imprisonment of Sunnis on little or no evidence, were initially largely without incident . On January 25, however, soldiers fired at protesters in Fallujah after they threw rocks at soldiers, killing nine. Since then, soldiers and police have fired on several demonstrations, including the one in Mosul on March 8. One protester, Mahmoud Saleh Yassin, died and nine others were wounded.
Witnesses to the Mosul shootings told Human Rights Watch that federal police officers opened fire with live ammunition after protesters began throwing stones at them. It is unclear whether the police gave any warning before opening fire. This contrasts with the version of events provided by the Interior Ministry later that day, which accused “infiltrators” among the protesters with Kalashnikov rifles of starting the shooting and provoking the use of live fire by the federal police. The ministry said it had appointed an investigative committee to look into the matter further but was silent as to whether police fire had killed Yassin.
As we noted at Third yesterday, "Human Rights Watch is calling for an investigation into the March 8th assault on protesters in Mosul. This follows their call last month for an investigation into the January 25th assault on protesters in Falluja. There has been no investigation into either. In both cases, Prime Minister and Chief Thug Nouri al-Maliki's forces assaulted protesters. There has been no condemnation of Nouri from the White House for these assaults."
Last Thursday saw an attack on Baghdad's Ministry of Justice. National Iraqi News Agency quotes Minister of Justice Hassan al-Shimmari stating at a press conference today that 30 people are dead and fifty injured. Yesterday Omar al-Shaher (Al-Monitor) reported, "A Kurdish representative in the Iraqi parliament said that the minister of justice, his agents and the general managers in the ministry were not present in the building at the time of the attack. When asked whether they may have received warnings of a possible attack on the ministry, he replied, 'Perhaps'." Over the weekend, Al Mada reported that Parliament's Security and Defense Committee has received a response from the ministry about why the attacks took place? The Ministry insists it was due to a lack of money and a lack of equipment. The Iraq Times wondered, "Why target the Ministry of Justice?" Al Rafidayn reported that the Ministry was targeted because it houses the files on prisoners due to be executed. Kitabat reports that al-Shimmari declared at today's press conference in Baghdad that the death sentences would be carried out. Al Rafidayn quotes him stating that they will return to carrying out death sentences starting next Sunday.
Alsumaria reports a Baquba car bombing claimed 5 lives and left nineteen injured. National Iraqi News Agency notes an early morning Tikrit roadside bombing left one person injured, a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers and left a third injured, a Kirkuk armed attack claimed the life of "a former army officer," an attack on a Badoosh military checkpoint claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left three more injured, a Nimrod home invasion left 1 police officer dead, and, dropping back to late last night, 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead outside his Mosul home.
Prashant Rao (AFP) Tweets today:
At least 137 people killed, 425 wounded by violence in Iraq so far this month -
@AFP tally: http://www.bit.ly/AFPIraqToll
Dahr Jamail reported on Iraq from Iraq. He was one of the few unembedded Western reporters in Iraq. Today, Dahr writes about Amnesty International's recent report:
Heba al-Shamary (name changed for security reasons) was released last week from an Iraqi prison where she spent the last four years.
"I was tortured and raped repeatedly by the Iraqi security forces," she told Al Jazeera. "I want to tell the world what I and other Iraqi women in prison have had to go through these last years. It has been a hell."
Heba was charged with terrorism, as so many Iraqis who are detained by the Iraqi security apparatus are charged.
"I now want to explain to people what is occurring in the prisons that [Prime Minister Nouri al-] Maliki and his gangs are running," Heba added. "I was raped over and over again, I was kicked and beaten and insulted and spit upon."
Heba's story, horrific as it is, unfortunately is but one example of what a recent report from Amnesty International refers to as "a grim cycle of human rights abuses" in Iraq today.
The report, "Iraq: Still paying a high price after a decade of abuses", exposes a long chronology of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees committed by Iraqi security forces, as well as by foreign troops, in the wake of the US-led 2003 invasion.
Speaking on condition of anonymity because her nephew remains in prison, an Iraqi woman told Al Jazeera how he was arrested by Iraqi security forces when he was 18-years-old, under the infamous Article Four which gives the government the ability to arrest anyone "suspected" of terrorism, and charged with terrorism.
In the United States, next week will see a major event from Iraq Veterans Against the War:
March 19th is the 10th Anniversary of the commencement of the War in Iraq, A war that ended quietly in December 2011 and was quickly and deeply forgotten by many. It's consequences, though, are far-reaching and very present. As we reach the watermark of a decade since the war began it seems a fitting time to have a frank discussion of what the war has wrought for those who have participated in it.
For the veterans of this decade of war and occupation it is far from over. Every single person in Iraq is a veteran of the war. Until they have reliable infrastructure, competent and non-corrupt governance, an environment cleared of biohazards and munitions, and sophisticated healthcare the war cannot begin to end.
Over two million US service members are veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.
They came away from the experience with severe physical, mental and moral wounds that they will be coping with and overcoming for a lifetime, often with woefully inadequate support from the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration.
Haider Hamza, Aaron Glantz and Antonia Juhasz are three journalists each with expertize in different areas of the war. They will share their stories and analysis of the war and its aftermath with respect to the costs to all its veterans, Iraqi and American.
Haider Hamza is an Iraqi journalist. “For most Americans the Iraq war is a thing of the past. The U.S. has withdrawn most of its troops from Iraq, and incidents that roiled newspaper headlines seem all but forgotten. But nearly 1 million Iraqis were killed in the course of the war, 3 million injured and more than 4 million displaced. For those still struggling from physical, economic and psychological wounds, the legacy from the Iraq war can seem impossible to forget.” Hamza lived through the 2003 invasion with his family near Babylon, south of Baghdad. In his early 20s, he was a TV producer and photo editor for ABC News and Reuters, among others. He covered many of the landmark events. He was embedded with U.S. military units covering combat operations throughout Iraq. He also covered the perspective of Iraqi armed resistance as a freelance journalist. He has seen the war through many lenses. In 2007 he won a Fulbright scholarship which brought him to the U.S. where he earned a Masters Degree in global security and conflict resolution from Columbia University. He was featured on NPR's "This American Life" in 2008 when he traveled across the country offering himself up to American citizens for conversation, more often receiving lectures in return.
Aaron Glantz is an American reporter covering veterans issues, among other things, for The Bay Citizen. Before joining TBC, Glantz spent seven years covering the war in Iraq and the treatment veterans receive when they come home. Glantz's reporting has been honored with numerous awards, including a 2010 national investigative reporting award from the Society of Professional Journalists for his coverage of veterans' suicides. He was awarded the Journalist of the Year Award in 2012 by the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for his investigative work in veterans’ issues.
He has been a Rosalynn Carter Fellow for Mental Health Journalism at the Carter Center, a DART Center Fellow for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia University Journalism School and a fellow at the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media and Columbia University Teachers College.
He is author of three books, most recently The War Comes Home: Washington's Battle Against America's Veterans (UC Press 2009).
Antonia Juhasz is a leading oil and energy analyst, activist, journalist, and author. She has written three books, Black Tide: the Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill (Wiley, 2011); The Tyranny of Oil (HarperCollins, 2008); and The Bush Agenda (HarperCollins, 2006), and is currently working on her fourth. For over a decade, in writing and action, Juhasz has articulated the linkages between oil and the wars in Iraq. She is the recipient of a 2012-2013 Investigative Journalism Fellowship at the Investigative Reporting Program at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism where she is investigating oil and natural gas and the Afghanistan war. Juhasz has also been published in the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, The Atlantic, Petroleum Review Magazine, The Nation, Tikkun, and The Progressive, among other outlets. Juhasz holds a Masters Degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University and a Bachelors Degree in Public Policy from Brown University.
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