Thursday, August 8, 2013


At Black Agenda Report, Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo and Kevin Berends have a piece called "Under Obama, Tyranny is the New Transparency:"

Many of the mechanisms that have been reserved to hunt down and eviscerate the lives of African Americans are now being used to destroy white lives.”Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden may never get the opportunity to meet and compare notes about reshaping the world's understanding of the US surveillance-cloaked-as-national-security-state. Yet their courage in blowing the whistle on high governmental criminality has recast the US Empire in ways unimaginable since the 1960’s. Both whistleblowers are of European descent—a heritage still laden with privilege in the US. The Obama administration's zeal when it has encountered dissent has broadened the State's parameters for seek and destroy missions. Gone are the comforts of skin privilege with Obama-as-agent-for-the-1% sending clear signals that in these United States everyone is a suspect—except the politicos and their overlords.
On July 31, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning was acquitted of the most serious charge of aiding the enemy that could have carried a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. However, he still faces nearly two dozen additional charges in connection with his leak of classified information to WikiLeaks. While unexpected, these charges could possibly land Manning in prison for over a hundred years. Meanwhile, Edward Snowden, after exposing wide-spread illegal surveillance of American citizens and foreign governments fled the US to Russia to avoid the incarceration and torture that Manning has endured.
Everyone is a suspect—except the politicos and their overlords.”
Manning and Snowden were both on tracks that enjoyed the many advantages of white privilege. Manning, a high school graduate, was not assigned to the mess hall as a cook but rather trained as an intelligence analyst, receiving a Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI) security clearance. According to No FEAR employment data a significant level of complaints have been filed against the Army by African-Americans for job discrimination. Many African Americans with the same level of education as their fellow white troops find themselves in positions that do not lend themselves to upward mobility. Edward Snowden was also a high school graduate, a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and later hired by Booze Allen as a technical contractor for the United States National Security Agency (NSA). According to Snowden, his life was "very comfortable," earning a salary of "roughly US $200,000." With this substantial salary, Snowden was stationed in Hawaii and enjoying the American dream—a dream that most African-Americans with a high school degree can only imagine and far removed from Dr. King's celebrated vision.
All that was required of Manning and Snowden to harvest the bounties of white privilege was that they look the other way when faced with—in Manning's case—war crimes, including the callous slaughter of innocent civilians and its cover-up by his superiors in Iraq—and in Snowden's case—sweeping invasions of privacy domestically and worldwide. Both witnessed government corruption. And both put duty to their fellow citizens above their own personal benefit, effectively throwing any possibility of a comfortable life and “rewarding” career overboard when they decided to expose the lies, crimes and corruption inside the US government.

I think we should all be considering those realities and should be aware that the corporate media will use anything to distract us or turn us against each other.

We need to wake up and we need to focus on the now because things are getting really scary these days and the government shouldn't be allowed to slither away from accountability.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, August 8, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, protests continue in Iraq, Falluja calls for Nouri to be fair, Ramadi's protest is targeted with a bombing, why are security measures being taken in Baghdad, we fact check Barack since the press seems unable to, and more.

Season one, episode 15 ("Hard Ball" written by Matt Hubbard) of the sitcom 30 Rock, starlet Jenna Maroney (played by Emmy award winning Jane Krakowski) is in damage control over her comments so she goes on Hardball and speaks with Chris Matthews (host) and Tucker Carlson.

Jenna: I have just as much right to my opinion as you or Chris.

Chris Matthews:  I'm not sure you do.  You've been on this show for 20 minutes now.  You sang six bars of something called "Muffin Top" --

Jenna:  Thank you.

Chris Matthews:  -- and then told a disgusting story about fleet week.

Tucker Carlson:  I guess this is the state of political discourse in this country and that's fine, let's just embrace it.  Let's have our policies determined by former Cable Ace Award nominees. 

Jenna:  First, I was great in that Arliss.  Second of all, if the president is so serious about the war on terror, why doesn't he hunt down and capture Barack Obama before he strikes again?  It's time for a change, America.  That's why I'm voting for Osama in 2008.  [Pause.]  Oh, no comeback? You burnt!

It was a hilarious moment and no one could top it . . . until Tuesday night when Barack Obama chose to channel his inner starlet on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Pure Jenna is the only way to describe Barack declaring, "And the odds of people dying in a terrorist attack obviously are still a lot lower than in a car accident, unfortunately."

Unfortunately?  Was that a Freudian slip or is Barack just the airhead we always secretly knew he was?

In the gab-fest, Jay Leno notes the Sunday embassy and consulate closures and wonders is it "safe to say that we learned about these threats through the NSA intelligence program? Is that a fair assessment?"  Barack has an interesting reply.

Barack Obama:  Well, you know, this intelligence-gathering,uh, that we do is a critical component of counterterrorism. Uh, And obviously, with, uh,  Mr. Snowden and the disclosures of classified information, it's raised a lot of questions for people. But what I said as soon as it happened I continue to believe in, which is a lot of these programs were put in place before I came in. I had some skepticism, and I think ther's a --  we should have a healthy skepticism about what government is doing. I had the programs reviewed. We put in some additional safeguards to make sure that there's federal court oversight as well as congressional oversight, that there is no spying on Americans. 

There is spying on Americans, the meta data recording alone is spying. Christopher H. Pyle (CounterPunch) observes, "With the blessing of this secret court [FISA], the National Security Agency (and well-paid companies like Booz Allen) have recorded billions of phone calls and e-mails belonging to nearly all Americans, with the intent of searching them later."  Informing Congress? Most claim they knew nothing about it.  Glenn Greenwald (Guardian) reported last week:

Members of Congress have been repeatedly thwarted when attempting to learn basic information about the National Security Agency (NSA) and the secret FISA court which authorizes its activities, documents provided by two House members demonstrate.
From the beginning of the NSA controversy, the agency's defenders have insisted that Congress is aware of the disclosed programs and exercises robust supervision over them. "These programs are subject to congressional oversight and congressional reauthorization and congressional debate," President Obama said the day after the first story on NSA bulk collection of phone records was published in this space. "And if there are members of Congress who feel differently, then they should speak up."
But members of Congress, including those in Obama's party, have flatly denied knowing about them. On MSNBC on Wednesday night, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct) was asked by host Chris Hayes: "How much are you learning about what the government that you are charged with overseeing and holding accountable is doing from the newspaper and how much of this do you know?" The Senator's reply:
The revelations about the magnitude, the scope and scale of these surveillances, the metadata and the invasive actions surveillance of social media Web sites were indeed revelations to me."

But it is not merely that members of Congress are unaware of the very existence of these programs, let alone their capabilities. Beyond that, members who seek out basic information - including about NSA programs they are required to vote on and FISA court (FISC) rulings on the legality of those programs - find that they are unable to obtain it.

Two House members, GOP Rep. Morgan Griffith of Virginia and Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida, have provided the Guardian with numerous letters and emails documenting their persistent, and unsuccessful, efforts to learn about NSA programs and relevant FISA court rulings.

Additionally, there are no safeguards with a secret court and there never will be which is why secret courts go against democracy.

Barack Obama:  We don't have a domestic spying program. What we do have are some mechanisms where we can track a phone number or an email address that we know is connected to some sort of terrorist threat.

A lie.  Where are the fact checkers?  The phone calls are all collected -- not just ones related to a so-called terrorist threat.  (Fact check?  Have you read Politico's 'transcript'?  They not only do away with Barack's uh-uhs, they 'help' him with verb choice.  Someone explain to Politico that a transcript is a transcription of what was said, not what fans wish was said.)

Barack Obama:  And that information is useful. But what I've said beforeuh, you know, I want to make sure I repeat, and that is we should be skeptical  uh about the potential encroachments on privacy. None of the revelations show that government has actually abused ih these powers, but they're pretty significant powers.

There's the ignorance of a man who didn't learn American history in Indonesia (naturally) and who struggled with basic classes after he finally came back to America (as his own grandmother admitted). The government has clearly abused powers and Barack and others know that which is why the programs were kept secret from the American people.

Dennis is a terrorist in Scotland working with Cecile in Madison, Wisconsin.  Finding out that all phone calls are tracked or all e-mails are read does not mean Dennis and Cecile stop communicating. They have to communicate.  They may try to communicate in code -- but if they're terrorists, they should already be doing that.  The only people these programs had to be kept secret from were the American people who would instantly grasp that these are unconstitutional and an abuse of government power.

Barack Obama: And I've been talking to Congress and civil libertarians and others about are there additional ways that we can make sure that people know nobody is listening to your phone call, but we do want to make sure that after a Boston bombing, for example, we've got, uh, we've got the phone numbers of those two brothers -- we want to be able to make sure did they call anybodUh, and if we can make sure that there's confidence on the part of the American people that there's oversight, then I think we can make sure that we're properly balancing our liberty and our security. 

He thinks?  Who really gives a damn what Barack, a whore for Big Business, thinks?  In three more years he's just another idiot we have to spend millions on each year while his own income (from corporate whoring) goes untouched when it comes to health or security issues.  Who gives a damn what he thinks?  He's not a king, he's a public servant who works for the people -- you know the one group he didn't mention consulting with.  Because he's such a chicken he hasn't had the guts to face a real conference on these issues.

Barack Obama:  But there have been times where they slip back into Cold War thinking and a Cold War mentality. And what I consistently say to them, and what I say to President Putin, is that's the past and we've got to think about the future, and there's no reason why we shouldn't be able to cooperate more effectively than we do. 

Well, golly, what leader of another country wouldn't love a lecture from Barack?  Does his preening ego ever fall into check?  And let's point out one more time, with temporary asylum, Putin (or whomever is president) is not supposed to have any input.  As far as anyone knows, the Russian government's system was followed.  That means the body in charge made the decision.  Yet Barack and his administration have repeatedly lied and implied or stated that Putin was responsible for the decision.  These lies debase the White House.

Jay Leno:  And Putin seems to me like one of those old-school KGB guys. 

Barack Obama:   Well, he headed up the KGB. 

No, he didn't.  And considering Ann Dunham's actions in Indonesia,  I don't know where you get off knocking the KGB.  Wikipedia on Putin and the KGB:

Putin joined the KGB in 1975 upon graduation, and underwent a year's training at the 401st KGB school in Okhta[disambiguation needed], Leningrad. He then went on to work briefly in the Second Chief Directorate (counter-intelligence) before he was transferred to the First Chief Directorate, where among his duties was the monitoring of foreigners and consular officials in Leningrad.[36][37]
From 1985 to 1990, the KGB stationed Putin in Dresden, East Germany.[38] Following the collapse of the East German government, Putin was recalled to the Soviet Union and returned to Leningrad, where in June 1991 he assumed a position with the International Affairs section of Leningrad State University, reporting to Vice-Rector Yuriy Molchanov.[37] In his new position, Putin maintained surveillance on the student body and kept an eye out for recruits. It was during his stint at the university that Putin grew reacquainted with his former professor Anatoly Sobchak, then mayor of Leningrad.[39]
Putin finally resigned from the active state security services with the rank of Lieutenant colonel on 20 August 1991 (with some attempts to resign made earlier),[39] on the second day of the KGB-supported abortive putsch against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.[40] Putin later explained his decision: "As soon as the coup began, I immediately decided which side I was on", though he also noted that the choice was hard because he had spent the best part of his life with "the organs".[41]

And Barack's spy connections?  As John Pilger has explained:

In his book Dreams From My Father, Obama refers to the job he took after he graduated from Columbia in 1983.  He describes his employer as, and I quote, "a consulting house to multi-national corporations."  For some reason, he doesn't say who his employer was or what he did there.  The employer was Business International Corporation which has a long history of providing cover for the CIA with covert action and infiltrating unions on the left.  I know this because it was especially in my own country, Australia.  Obama doesn't say what he did at Business International and there may be absolutely nothing sinister but it seems worthy of inquiry and debate as a clue perhaps who the man is. During his brief period in the Senate, Obama voted to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He voted for the PATRIOT Act.  He refused to support a bill for single-payer health care.  He supported the death penalty.  As a presidential candidate, he received more corporate backing than John McCain. He promised to close Guantanamo as a priority but instead he's excused torture, reinstated military commissions, kept the Bush gulag intact and opposed habeaus corpus. 

Back to the gab-fest.

Jay Leno:  [. . .] the NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Some call him a whistleblower. What do you call him?

Barack Obama: Well, we don’t know yet exactly what he did, other than what he's, uh,  said on the Internet, and. uh,  it's important for me not to prejudge something.

Jay Leno: Got you.

Barack Obama:  Hopefully, at some point he'll go to trial and uh he will have a lawyer and due process, and we can make those decisions. I can tell you, uh,  that there are ways, if you think that the government is abusing, uh, a program, of coming forward. In fact, I, through executive order, signed whistle-blower protection for intelligence officers or people who are involved in the intelligence industry. So you don't have to break the law. You don't have to, uh, divulge, uh, information that could compromise American security. You could, uh,  come forward, come to the, uh, appropriate individuals and say, look, I've got a problem with what's going on here, uh, I'm not sure whether it's being done properly. If, in fact, uh, the allegations are true, then he didn't do that. And, uh,  that is a huge problem because a lot of what we do depends on, uh,  terrorists networks not knowing, uh, that, in fact, we may be able to access their information. 

What a liar.  But a press that can't do an honest transcription of a TV segment can't handle a fact check.

Barack can make all the lofty claims he wants, that doesn't make them true.  This is the editorial board of Bloomberg News from June 10th:

But anyone seeking to pass judgment on Snowden should try to understand the dilemma he describes. He says he didn’t want to live in a society that engages in the sort of program he worked on. Based on statements from President Barack Obama and members of Congress, it seems unlikely that Snowden would have found much support from inside government for his view that the program was abusive. So he concluded -- perhaps irresponsibly, perhaps arrogantly -- that going public was the only way to force a change.
Snowden’s case highlights the difficulty, if not impossibility, of debating U.S. national security policy in this age of ubiquitous technology: How do you build informed public consent for surveillance when the only people who know about those programs can’t talk about them? And without the public’s consent, how can those programs be legitimate in a democratic society?
Those questions aren’t new, but Snowden’s revelations give them new importance. Those who think what he did was wrong need to do more than just criticize his actions. The goal should be to make it easier for others like him to follow their consciences without breaking the law. And we need to have the public debate that Snowden concluded was lacking -- a point that can’t reasonably be contested, even by his angriest detractors.
The Obama administration may be tempted to respond to Snowden’s actions by intensifying its policy of intimidating would-be leakers through prosecutions. Yet as this case demonstrates, the prospect of imprisonment doesn’t deter everyone. The administration and Congress should instead acknowledge that members of the intelligence community need better avenues for reporting practices they find to be abusive - - if only because, absent such avenues, there will be more Edward Snowdens.

Barack's remarks were troublesome and filled with errors.  At one point he insisted, "If we don't deepen our ports all along the Gulf -- places like Charleston, South Carolina, or Savannah, Georgia or Jacksonville, Florida -- if we don't do that, those ships are going to go someplace else.  And we'll lose jobs [. . .]"  Dan Quayle was crucified for his spelling of potato but Barack can list cities that are not "all along the Gulf" but claim that they are and no one corrects him?

 We all have to play stupid so the princess isn't outshined?

Larry Johnson (No Quarter) addresses Barack's claims of specific threats:

If you are waiting for the Al Qaeda terrorist offensive, stop waiting. It is here. But it is not in focused in the 22 countries where Barack Obama, choosing the route of a coward, shuttered US Embassies. Nope. It is in Iraq:

The United Nations said Thursday that July was Iraq’s deadliest month in more than five years, describing a series of bombings and shootings as an epidemic of sectarian-tinged violence that had killed 1,057 Iraqis and wounded 2,326. The organization’s acting special representative for Iraq, Gyorgy Busztin, said in a statement that the severity of the mayhem was the worst since 2008, when Iraq verged on civil war after the American-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein and his Sunni minority from power. Many of the attacks in July were aimed at members of the Shiite majority that has dominated Iraq’s politics since the withdrawal of the American military at the end of 2011.
This is the deadly harvest the is the work of George W. Bush and now, Barack Obama.
The current warning issued by the Obama Administration is bulls**t. As I wrote earlier this week, Obama and members of Congress claim it is “specific” but, rather than focus on stopping a specific threat, they insist in the same breath that they don’t know what, when or how. That ain’t specific!

Meanwhile the Cambridge Chronicle notes:

The government is beginning to sound like the boy who cried wolf. First it was Bradley Manning and his leaks which damaged national security. Those leaks occurred in 2010 and we’ve yet to see how in any way they’ve damaged our national security.

Over 500 hundred people have died in Iraq just this month alone. Seems that’s more damaging to national security than Bradley Manning, who, by the way leaked documents showing the number of people killed in Iraq is greater than what the government is reporting. We’ve been here before, the Pentagon Papers proved that what the government knew and what they were telling the country about what was going on in Vietnam, were two different things.

Now they’re saying the same thing about Edward Snowden and his leaks telling of government collection and storage of data, they say the leaks are a great threat to our national security.

Geoffrey Ingersoll (Business Insider) raves over a photo of Falluja residents.  He seems unaware that it is part of the ongoing protests.  Click here for Iraqi Spring MC's photo of the same huge group from another angle.   NINA notes the sermon delivered by Sheikh Mohammed Mattar said there could be no "calm as long as their rulers rule it in unfair" and:

The preacher of Fallujah demanded al-Maliki to run the country in a fair and equitable manner.  
He pointed out that protesters and demonstrators in six provinces will stay in the streets of the sit-in, braving harsh weather conditions of heat and cold to claim their rights usurped by the Iraqi government."

The Falluja and Ramadi protests have been among the strongest in the country and part of the reason Nouri al-Maliki delayed the vote in Anbar Province.  Since December 21st, ongoing protests have been taking place in Iraq.  Today at a Ramadi sit-in, a protester was injured when 2 bombs targeting the protesters went off. NINA reports another Ramadi bombing claimed the life of 1 woman and left her husband injured, and, last night, a Tikrit car bombing killed 19 people while leaving fifty more injured.  In addition, NINA reports 1 suspect was killed by Nouri's forces in Asriah village, a Haqlaniya bombing claimed 2 lives, 1 police officer was shot dead in Balad, and a Samarra bombing claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers and left two more injured.

Violence last month, Iraq saw two prison breaks on July 21st (prison break wasn't announced until Monday, July 22nd). All Iraq News reports, "The Premier, Nouri al-Maliki issued a general amnesty for the escapee security elements or who joint terrorist groups."  This was quickly followed by another report as Nouri rushed to change his earlier remarks, "A statement by Maliki's office received by AIN cited 'The mistake is that he said the amnesty involves those who joint terrorist groups while the intended are those whose absentees exceeded the limits."

Considering how the prison breaks are seen as a major indictment of Nouri's so-called leadership, it's no real surprise that he fumbles even when speaking of them. Dropping back to July 27th:

The Washington Post editorial board notes, "Iraq’s renewed conflict gained attention this week because of the spectacular attack by al-Qaeda on two prison facilities, including the Abu Ghraib facility near Baghdad. The coordinated assault led to the escape of hundreds of security prisoners, including a number of top al-Qaeda leaders."  The editorial board of the Bangkok Post observes, "To put things into perspective, it is universally accepted today that when the US-led invasion of Iraq was mounted in March 2003, al-Qaeda was a non-entity in the country, even though it was falsely... " Yesterday, one escapee was captured in an eastern Baghdad mosque.  KUNA reports, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki on Saturday fired director of the prison service and referred senior security officers investigations against the backdrop of the mass prisoner breakout."  NINA explains, "He listened to the report and statements by a number of the prisons' officers, he ordered the arrest of the officers, who primary report shows that they were negligent in their duty. Ordered that the report be referred to justice. They are: Commander of Federal Police Fourth Division, Commander of Federal Police Regiment charged with the Prison's security and his Deputy, as well as on duty Federal Police personnel. Maliki also ordered firing Director General of Prisons and refer him to justice."  All Iraq News also notes, "The Prime Minister ordered to detain several officers on the bases of their neglect for their duty including the Chief of Staff of the Iraqi Army Fourth Division, the Commander of the Federal Police Regiment along with his assistances, the intelligence elements, Federal police elements who were inside the prison during the jailbreak time."

Dar Addustour notes the federal government supposedly has documents implicating a number of Abu Ghraib prison guards in the prison break there and that "treason" charges may be brought. Aswat al-Iraq adds, "Iraqi ministry of justice revealed documents and correspondence between Baghdad Central Prison and the federal police, informing the plans to attack the prison before four days. In a statement, copy received by Aswat al-Iraq, the ministry added that the information was delivered on 17 July, 2013." AFP reports one of the escapees still on the lose supposedly killed his brother yesterday:

On Wednesday night, a group of militants went to the house of a policeman in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, dragged him into the garden and executed him, said army Staff Lt Gen Abdulamir Al Zaidi.
The policeman's brother, an Al Qaeda member whose name was not given, led the group of killers, apparently as an act of revenge for informing on him. The militants also bombed the house, and left a car bomb at the scene that exploded after a crowd gathered, killing 10 and wounding 58.

That's the assault Betty noted last night.

Violence has people considering different approaches.  From the July 16th snapshot:

On the violence, ABC News Radio quotes Baghdad University professor Nabil Mohammed stating, "People can’t say that things are getting better or are going to be better in the near future.  People are just looking for something to help them survive."
Hence the return of the proposed 'moats.'  This time the 'protective trench' would be around dispute Kirkuk.  Yerevan Saeed (Rudaw) reports:

Two months ago Kirkuk’s Provincial Council decided in a majority vote to dig a 58-kilometer security trench around the city, in a controversial decision to control entrance into the oil-rich and violence-wracked area which is at the center of a dispute between Iraq’s different ethnic and religious groups.
This plan would leave the city with four main entrances, which are to be monitored by surveillance cameras. The trench itself is to be reinforced with barbed wire and regular police patrols.
Hassan Turhan, a Turkmen official in Kirkuk’s provincial council, first proposed a security trench in 2012. But Kirkuk officials only put the plan into action this year, particularly after a series of deadly bombings that killed dozens and wounded hundreds.

Nouri began proposing the idea of a moat around Baghdad to protect the city.  That idea never took off.  Whether or not it will take off this time remains to be seen.    World Bulletin notes:

Iraqi Turkmens are the third-largest ethnic group in Iraq and live primarily in Kirkuk and Tuzhurmatu. Kirkuk Province is a historically diverse area; in addition to ethnic Turkmens, there are also many Arabs and Kurds. Friday's blast in the city took place in an area of previous ethnic, sectarian and political clashes.
Mehmet Tütüncü, the general director of the İstanbul-based Iraqi Turks Culture and Mutual Aid Society (ITKYD), told Today's Zaman that there is a bomb blast every day of the week in Iraq and pointed out that there are many more attacks occurring in predominately Turkmen areas as compared to other ethnic groups in Iraq.
“It is very hard to say who is behind the attack in Kirkuk, but I can easily say that there are many attacks directed at areas where Turkmens live,” Tütüncü said, underlining the fact that the Turkmen community is the only unarmed ethnic group in Iraq.

The plan was put forward weeks ago.  Today, it suddenly finds objection. AFP reports today that the "unusual plan" is provoking anger among "Arab leaders."  Two minor 'leaders are quoted near the end of the article and their complaints are that this is a land grab.  That's an interesting call that is not backed up -- not even a faulty argument is presented on how it would be a land grab.  So file the whole thing under the failures of Nouri (in 2007, he was supposed to implement Article 140 of the Constitution -- he refused to do so and has continued to do so putting him in violation of the Constitution and his oath to uphold it).

Kirkuk is oil-rich disputed territory.  The semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government claims Kirkuk as their own as does the central government in Baghdad.  The Kurds are thought to be the largest ethnic group in the world without a homeland.  That could change and some fear an event this month might be leading to such a change.  Dropping back to the July 31st snapshot:

 As a global representative of the KRG, [President Massoud] Barzani is also a leader to many Kurds across the world.  Arabic News Digest notes, "Mr Barzani called Kurdish political parties in Syria, Turkey and Iran to a "nationalist convention" to be held in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, in order to discuss the Kurdish situation in these countries and examine the possibility of establishing autonomous rule there, as a prelude to a future territorial unification."  Dr. Kemal Kirkuki (Rudaw) notes, "The idea of a National Conference was first initiated years ago by President Barzani, who also heads the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Abdullah Ocalan, head of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the late Idris Barzani, and Jalal Talabani, secretary general of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Iraq’s president. But political turmoil and different regional and international factors always posed a barrier to making this goal a reality. What is happening now is the revival of the ideas of those four leaders."

Yesterday, Aso Fishagi (Rudaw) reports:

As Kurdish leaders across the Middle East prepare for a National Conference due later this month, some Iraqi leaders have voiced concern about the true intentions of the meeting.
An official from Iraq’s ruling State of Law coalition says that Baghdad has no objection to such a conference as long as it does not debate the separation of Kurdistan, and that outcome of the talks do not mean  a threat to Iraq or the region.
“If a National Conference is to find a better life for Kurds in Iraq and the region, we have no issues with that,” State of Law spokesman Ali Shalla told Rudaw. “The era of dictatorship and marginalization is over and no one should be able to control what we want to do.”
However, if the intention is to separate Kurdistan from Iraq, then Baghdad will certainly take a stance, Shalla added. He said that the organizers should invite some Iraqi MPs to attend the event.
“We hope that some Iraqi MPs, especially those who are known to be friends of the Kurds, get invited to the conference so that Baghdad knows what is discussed there and avoids any suspicions,” he said.

Hiwa Barznjy (Niqash) reports:

Kurdish groups and political parties from various different countries will finally come together in Iraqi Kurdistan at the end of August to work out how to form a united front in the face of regional conflict. Its the first time in recent history?

Finally the meeting that many people of Kurdish ethnicity had been trying to organise for years will happen. On July 22, representatives from 39 different Kurdish parties met near Erbil in the semi-autonomous state of Iraqi Kurdistan to prepare for just such a meeting in August. The meeting gathered parties from the four parts of the region that many Kurds like to call “greater Kurdistan” and which involve Kurds from areas in Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria.

The Kurdish people are one the largest ethnic groups in the world without an actual homeland and Kurdish living in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey share a language, culture and ethnicity. For many, the idea of a nation of their own, a greater Kurdistan, is something to strive for – and in fact, this is one of the biggest conflicts between militant Kurdish fighters who believe in that dream and the governments of the various countries in which they live, such as, for example, Turkey.

During this first meeting a preparatory committee was formed. It was made up of 21 representatives of Kurdish groups, with six from Turkey, five from Iraqi Kurdistan, five from Iran, four from Syria and one representative from the Kurdistan National Congress, a coalition of organisations from across Europe, formed by exiled Kurdish politicians, lawyers, and activists.

The last thing the meet-up needs is non-Kurds -- especially unneeded is Nouri's State of Law.  The meet-up, if it takes place, will be a huge moment for the Kurds -- their moment.  A great deal will need to be discussed and it needs to be a Kurdish conversation.

Meanwhile, what's going on in Baghdad?   NINA reports motorcycles and "pulled and pushed vehicles" have just been banned in Baghdad.  The official excuse is Eid al-Fitr.  Dar Addustour reports there are rumors of a palace coup against Nouri  -- Nouri's convinced foreign governments (plural) have banded together and hired assassins who now have the credentials not only to move freely in the Green Zone but also to walk directly up to the entrance of his home.  Poor Nouri, when you project evil onto others, it has a way of screwing up your own mind.  Already paranoid, he now fears constantly for his safety.

Finally,  Eugene Robinson (Washington Post via Miami Herald) observes, "If the new, decentralized al-Qaida is such a threat that 19 American embassies, consulates and other diplomatic posts have to be shuttered for a week, we have a decade of wrongheaded U.S. policy to blame." That would shut the mouths of most braying asses but not Chuck Schumer.

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