Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Margaret Flowers writes a must-read column

I've called out Margret Flowers for weak columns.  So let me applaud her for "Open Letter To MoveOn:"

Dear MoveOn,
It is with great sadness that I watch you making last-gasp desperate attempts to save Obamacare and Obama’s reputation. You look foolish when you say that “Of course, it’s a good law” at the same time as your constituents see through the Obamacare illusion.  The law is becoming less popular because people are beginning to see through the false partisan claims of Democrats.  And worse, you are actually playing right into the Republican’s trap, really the trap of Wall Street and big business interests.
It’s time for honesty. Obamacare is policy that has roots in the Nixon administration, was updated by the Heritage Foundation, a Right-wing think tank, and supported by people like Newt Gingrich. It was first put in place by Republican Governor Mitt Romney in Massachusetts (where it has not worked). The ACA further privatizes our health care by pouring hundreds of billions of public dollars into the pockets of private health industries. It is accelerating the privatization of our public health insurances, gutting our safety net and fomenting greater consolidation of our health delivery system into private hands. It sets the stage to completely privatize the pillars of the old Democratic Party: Social Security and Medicare.
Obamacare is the opposite of single payer. And supermajorities of those who vote for Democrats support single payer, Medicare for All. This is one of the reasons that people are not in the streets to save it. In this time of health care crisis in which 80 million went without needed care last year because of the cost and 4 million families went bankrupt because of medical costs and illness over the past two years, why do you think it is so hard to sell them on Obamacare? Because it is the opposite of what people want and need.

Please make a point to share this very important column with your friends and family.

And, thank you, Dr. Margaret Flowers for writing a needed and very strong column.

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

Tuesday, November 19, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue,  Brett McGurk's lies about Iraq to Congress last week get exposed, Camp Ashraf members can sue the US government for failure to protect them, we look again at counter-insurgency, vast areas of Iraq are flooded, US Senator Patty Murray rallies Congress to pass legislation to stop assault in the ranks, and more.

US Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee and serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Today her office issued the following:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                 CONTACT: Murray Press Office
November 19, 2013                                                                        (202) 224-2834
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, as the Senate debates the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) joined a bipartisan group of female Senators on the floor to speak out against sexual assault in the military and call on her colleagues to support some of the historic changes being made to prevent this scourge. Sen. Murray also highlighted her legislation with Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), which has been included in the NDAA bill, to provide trained military lawyers to victims of sexual assault in all service branches.
“When our best and our brightest put on a uniform and join the United States Armed Forces, they do so with the understanding they will sacrifice much in the name of defending our country and its people. But that sacrifice should never have to come in the form of abuse from their fellow service members,” said Senator Murray in her speech. Thanks to bipartisan cooperation, the work of thousands of dedicated advocates, and the voices of countless victims who have bravely spoken out we are poised to make a difference on an issue that women everywhere have brought out of the shadows.”
In August, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel directed immediate implementation of several measures to “gain greater consistency of effort and enhance oversight, investigative quality, pretrial investigations and victim support” in cases of military sexual assault. Among other measures, the directive includes implementation of trained lawyers to provide victims in all branches with guidance through the legal process, similar to the legislation introduced by Senators Murray and Ayotte.
Full text of Senator Murray’s speech below:
“I first want to thank Senator Mikulski and Senator Collins for helping to bring many of us to the floor today to discuss an issue that: cuts across partisan lines, has plagued our nation’s military, and has gone unaddressed for far too long.
“Military Sexual Assault is an epidemic. And it has rightly been identified as such by the Pentagon. It is absolutely unconscionable that a fellow servicemember, the person you rely on to have your back and to be there for you, would commit such a terrible crime. It is simply appalling they could commit such a personal violation of their brother or sister in uniform. But, what’s worse, and what has made change an absolute necessity - is the prevalence of these crimes.
“Recent estimates tell us that 26,000 servicemembers are sexually assaulted each year. And just over 3,000 of those assaults are reported. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, about one in five female veterans treated by VA has suffered from military sexual trauma. One in five.
“That is certainly not the act of a comrade. It is not in keeping with the ethos of any of the services. And it can no longer be tolerated. And that is why the women of the Senate have been united in calling for action. 
“There has been much made of the fact that there are now 20 women in the Senate – a historic number that I think we all agree still needs to grow. But it’s also important to remember that the number alone should not be what’s historic. Instead, it is what we do with our newfound strength to address the issues that are impacting women across the country. With this bill, the first Defense Authorization of this Congress, we are doing exactly that.
“We are taking historic action to help servicemembers access to the resources they need to seek justice without fear. And, one way this bill will help do just that, how it will: protect our servicemembers, assist victims, and punish criminals -- is through the inclusion of a bill I introduced, across party lines, with Senator Ayotte.
“Our bill, which is included in the base bill, creates a new category of legal advocates, called Special Victims’ Counsels, who would be responsible for advocating on behalf of the interests of the victim. These SVCs would also advise the victim on the range of legal issues they may face. 
“For example, when a young Private First Class is intimidated into not reporting a sexual assault by threatening her with unrelated legal charges -- like underage drinking -- this new advocate would be there to protect her and tell her the truth.
“Since January, the Air Force has provided these advocates to over 500 victims through an innovative new pilot program. Ten months later, the results speak for themselves: 92% of victims are “extremely satisfied” with the advice and support their SVC lent them throughout the military judicial process, 98% would recommend other victims request these advocates, 93% felt that these advocates effectively fought on their behalf.
“In describing their experience with an advocate, one victim shared that, “Going through this was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life. Having a Special Victim Counsel helped tremendously . . . No words could describe how much I appreciate having one of these advocates.”
“Through our bipartisan efforts the Defense Authorization bill will also enhance the responsibilities and authority of DoD’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office – also known as SAPRO.
“This improvement will help to provide better oversight of efforts to combat military sexual assault across the Armed Forces. SAPRO would also be required to regularly track and report on a range of MSA statistics, including assault rates, the number of cases brought to trial, and  compliance within each of the individual services. 
“Some of this data collection and reporting is already being done.
“So this requirement would not be more burdensome, but it would give that office authority to track and report to us on the extent of the problem.
“I believe the great strength of our military is in the character and dedication of our men and women who wear the uniform. It is the courage of these Americans, to volunteer to serve, that are the Pentagon’s greatest asset. I know it is said a lot, but take a moment to really think about it. 
“Our servicemembers volunteer to face danger, to put their lives on the line, to protect the country and all its people. When we think of those dangers, we think of IEDs. We think of battles with insurgents, we shouldn’t have to focus on the threats they encounter from their fellow servicemember.
“And we should never, never allow for a culture in which the fear of reporting a crime allows a problem like this to fester year after year.
“These are dangers that cannot be accepted, and none of our courageous servicemembers should ever have to face. Earlier this year when I asked Navy Secretary Ray Maybus about the sexual assault epidemic, I was glad that he told me that “concern” wasn’t a strong enough word to describe how he feels about this problem. He said he is angry about it. 
“And I know many of us here, particularly many of my female colleagues who have dedicated so much time to this issue, share this feeling and want to put an end to this epidemic. So, I am hopeful that we can work quickly to do right by our nation’s heroes.
“Because when our best and our brightest put on a uniform and join the United States Armed Forces, they do so with the understanding they will sacrifice much in the name of defending our country and its people. But that sacrifice should never have to come in the form of abuse from their fellow service members.
“I’m proud that the women of the Senate have taken this issue head on. And what should never be lost in the effort to enact the many changes that have been proposed, is that for too long this was an issue that was simply swept under the rug. That’s no longer the case.
“Thanks to bipartisan cooperation, the work of thousands of dedicated advocates, and the voices of countless victims who have bravely spoken out -- we are poised to make a difference on an issue that women everywhere have brought out of the shadows.”
Meghan Roh
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834

RSS Feed for Senator Murray's office

From the Senate, let's note the way the US government spends the money they collect in taxes.  Kristina Wong (Washington Times) reports that while other countries are below poverty level and Iraq rakes in over $100 billion in oil, Iraq remains the target of charity.  Specifically, there's a reconstruction fund that two countries are pulling out of -- but not the United States.  And the US government gave Iraq $470 million of US tax payer dollars in Fiscal Year 2013 and, for Fiscal Year 2014, the US government plans to give $500 million.  This has nothing to do with the $573 million dollar loan -- again these are US tax payer dollars -- the US government is granting Iraq to purchase military weapons.

There is some concern over all the US tax dollars being poured into Iraq.  Last week,  Brett McGurk, the State Dept's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq and Iran Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, appeared  Wednesday before the  US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa (see last week's "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot" and "Iraq snapshot").

US House Rep Brad Sherman:  I want to focus on finances.  How much money did we give Iraq this year?  How much do they get from oil?  And are they pumping oil as quickly as they can or are they constraining their production in accordance with OPEC rules?

Brett McGurk:  In terms of money, we're not really giving Iraq much money at all anymore.  Our assistance levels have gone down dramatically.

US House Rep Brad Sherman:  But it's still well over a billion?

Brett McGurk: Uh, no.  I believe that the most recent request is now of under a billion.  It's gone from 1.5 billion last year to, uh, FY13 [Fiscal Year 2013]  to about 880 million.  And I can again brief you on the glide path in terms of our overall presence.  

The actual request by the State Dept is $1.18 billion.  What Wong's reporting on?  It's in addition to that.   So Wong's reporting $1.073 billion for Iraq in FY14 plus the $1.18 billion the State Dept is requesting for Iraq.

As we noted last week, Brett McGurk lied to Congress over and over..  Let's stay with that theme for a moment.  Today the UNHCR issued the following:

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) calls for renewed efforts from states to relocate former Camp Ashraf residents, also known as Camp New Iraq.
Since the 1 September 2013 attack on Camp New Iraq where 52 residents died, there has been limited progress in moving the remaining residents to a third country. UNHCR encourages all Member States to share in the international efforts, admit residents and offer them a long-term solution.
UNHCR and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) also call upon the Government of Iraq to take all possible measures to ensure the safety of the residents. UNHCR and UNAMI remain gravely concerned about the fate of seven missing individuals formerly residing in Camp New Iraq who disappeared on 1 September and call on the authorities to locate them, ensure their wellbeing and safeguard them against any forcible return.
Since 2011, UNHCR, together with UNAMI, has been engaged in an effort to find relocation opportunities outside Iraq for some 3,200 former residents of Camp New Iraq. In total, UNHCR has so far been able to secure the relocation to third countries of 300 residents.

As of September, Camp Ashraf in Iraq is empty.  All remaining members of the community have been moved to Camp Hurriya (also known as Camp Liberty).  Camp Ashraf housed a group of Iranian dissidents who were  welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. This is key and demands the US defend the Ashraf community in Iraq from attacks.  The Bully Boy Bush administration grasped that -- they were ignorant of every other law on the books but they grasped that one.  As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp repeatedly attacked after Barack Obama was sworn in as US President. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out."  Those weren't the last attacks.  They were the last attacks while the residents were labeled as terrorists by the US State Dept.  (September 28, 2012, the designation was changed.)   In spite of this labeling, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."  So the US has an obligation to protect the residents.  3,300 are no longer at Camp Ashraf.  They have moved to Camp Hurriyah for the most part.  A tiny number has received asylum in other countries. Approximately 100 were still at Camp Ashraf when it was attacked Sunday.   That was the second attack this year alone.   February 9th of this year, the Ashraf residents were again attacked, this time the ones who had been relocated to Camp Hurriyah.  Trend News Agency counted 10 dead and over one hundred injured.  Prensa Latina reported, " A rain of self-propelled Katyusha missiles hit a provisional camp of Iraqi opposition Mujahedin-e Khalk, an organization Tehran calls terrorists, causing seven fatalities plus 50 wounded, according to an Iraqi official release."  They were attacked again September 1st.   Adam Schreck (AP) reported that the United Nations was able to confirm the deaths of 52 Ashraf residents.  In addition, 7 Ashraf residents were taken in the assault.  This month, in response to questions from US House Rep Sheila Jackson Lee, the  State Dept's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq and Iran Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Brett McGurk, stated, "The seven are not in Iraq."

So today the UNHCR issues a call for action.  It's by no means the first time they've done that and they'll do it again as needed.  But we're not talking about the United Nations, we're talking about Brett McGurk and the US State Dept.

US House Rep Joseph Wilson:  . . . but a real tragedy has been the murders at Camp Ashraf.  Since December 2008, when our government turned over the protections of the  camp to the Iraqi government, Prime Minister Maliki has repeatedly assured the world that he would treat the residents humanely and also that he would protect them from harm.  Yet it has not kept the promise promise as 111 people have been killed  in cold blood and more than a thousand wounded in five attacks including the September 1st massacre, what is the United States doing to prevent further attacks and greater loss of life in terms of ensuring the safety and security of the residents

Brett McGurk:  Congressman, first let me say thank you for your-your service and your family's service.  Speaking for myself and my team who've spent many years in Iraq and have known many friends we've lost in Iraq, it's something we think about every day and it inspires our work and our dedication to do everything possible to succeed under very difficult circumstances.  Regarding Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty, the only place for the MEK and the residents of Camp Liberty to be safe is outside of Iraq.  Camp Liberty is a former US military base  We lost Americans, right nearby  there, as late as the summer of 2010.  We lost a number of Americans to rocket fire and indirect fire attacks and our embassy compounds were the most secure facilities  in the country as late as the summer of 2010, that was when we had about 60,000 troops in the country in the country doing everything that they possibly could do to hunt down the rocket teams that we knew were targeting us.  Uh, there are cells in Iraq  -- we believe directed and inspired from Iran -- which are targeting the MEK, there's no question about that.  And the only place for the MEK to be safe is outside of Iraq.  That is why the State Dept and the Secretary have appointed a colleague of mine, Jonathan Winer, to work this issue full time. to find a place for them to go. Right now, there's about 2900 residents at Camp Liberty and Albania's taken in about 210, Germany's agreed to take in 100 and that's it.  We need to find a place for these - these people to go.  It is an urgent and humanitarian issue, an international humanitarian crisis.  And I went to the camp to meet with the survivors, to speak with the families, and what they told me and I promised them to do everything I possibly could to get them to safety.  Uh, it is incumbent upon the Iraqi government to do everything it possibly can to to keep them safe -- and that means the T-walls and the sandbags and everything else.  Uh, but the only place for the residents to be safe is outside Iraq.  Since the tragic attacks at Camp Liberty on September 1st 1300 Iraqis were killed, 52 people were massacred at Camp Ashraf.  This was a tragic, horrifying act.  But since then, 1300 Iraqis in the country have been killed.  The country is incredibly dangerous and the MEK, to be safe, have to leave Iraq and we want to find a place for them to go.  

"It's an urgent and humanitarian issue, an international humanitarian crisis," insisted McGurk to Congress last week.

And the State Dept supposedly takes the issue seriously.


It was the UNHCR fueling the conversation on the Ashraf community today.  Not the State Dept.  They issued no statement.  They didn't even raise the issue at their press briefing today.

Or yesterday.

Or Friday.

Or Thursday.

Or Wednesday -- the day McGurk testified to Congress.

Or . . .

Do we see the pattern?

McGurk lies to Congress last week claiming that the US is providing leadership and raising awareness but it's done nothing on the most basic terms.

They only hired a person in the middle of September to oversee the issue in response to the over-fifty deaths and 7 kidnappings.

And, here's a little info the administration doesn't want the MEK thinking about, due to the Geneva obligations the US government owes to Camp Ashraf residents, the US government is now legally liable.  It didn't honor international law -- law which the US signed onto -- so survivors of the dead can file charges -- international court would be the best place, since this is international law -- against the US government and so could the families of the kidnapped.

Considering the fact that the US government's reputation is mud on the world stage thanks to all the wars and all the illegal spying, international courts could be harsh on the US.

And when the US didn't provide security?

People probably grasp this because the law is so rarely reported on.

The US government is liable.

People get hurt all the time!

Yes, indeed they do.

But, under Geneva, the US was supposed to guarantee the safety of these people.

And the US government can't even argue human error, act of god or any other legal claims.

That's because the US stationed no one, not one person, to protect the residents.  But that was the US obligation.  And they failed to honor it and people died as a result.

That's a lot of money.

Most likely, the US would reject any legal finding -- which would just demonstrate, even more, to the global community that the US government has no respect for the law.

In other words, if I were MEK, I'd be looking for a lawyer to file charges right away.

To get rich?  No.  To force the US government to address the 7 hostages and get them out of harm's way.

And, FYI, the court to file in would, in fact be, the International Court of Justice. -- it has jurisdiction over Geneva issues.

Starting to get why the US government should have gotten off its lazy ass years ago?  The only thing McGurk got right was what we've said for years: They're not safe, they need to be out of Iraq.

When then-Secretary of Hillary Clinton refused to comply with a federal court order, we started noting the reality that the minute the Ashraf community was out of Iraq, the US was no longer obligated under Geneva to provide protection.  It's a shame that the US government refused to honor its obligation but its even more of a shame -- legally -- that it didn't honor its agreement and over 50 people were killed and 7 kidnapped.  That's on the US government.

And when you're legally liable, little news flash here for the White House, you work every day to get the people you are liable for out of Iraq so that you're no longer liable.  There are 2900 to resettle out of Iraq currently.  The State Dept needs to get to work.

Let's move to another US government failure, counter-insurgency.  Richard Sisk (DoD Buzz) reports:

The vaunted counter-insurgency (COIN) strategy promoted by retired Gen. David Petraeus that guided the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has come under renewed and caustic criticism from one of its reluctant practitioners, both as a general and diplomat.
“In short, COIN failed in Afghanistan,” said Karl Eikenberry, the retired Army lieutenant general and former chief of Combined Forces Command Afghanistan who was later U.S. Ambassador to Kabul.

Counter-insurgency -- sometimes spelled today counterinsurgency -- has a long and damaging history.  It is war on a native people, it is colonization.  It failed repeatedly in Vietnam -- whether the French pursued or the US did.  It was a failure in terms of accomplishing anything other than murdering innocents.

It was a failure and a world-wide stigma which is why the US military walked away from it.

Then a series of bloody thirsty War Whores like Petreaus, Sarah The Sewer Sewall, Samantha A Problem From Hell, Montgomery McFate and so many others worked to sell this brutal, xeonphobic War Crime and idiots like George Packer quickly enlisted to try to popularize it.  At the end of last month, Andrew Gavin Marshall (Dissident Voice) wrote about counter-insurgency:

 Prior to the surge, Petraeus was initially sent to Iraq in 2004 given the responsibility of training “a new Iraqi police force with an emphasis on counterinsurgency.” While in Iraq, Petraeus worked with a retired Colonel named Jim Steele, who was sent to Iraq as a personal envoy of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. Steele acquired a name for himself in ‘counterinsurgency’ circles having led the U.S. Special Forces training of paramilitary units in El Salvador in the 1980s, where he turned them into efficient and highly effective death squads waging a massive terror war against the leftist insurgency and the population which supported them, resulting in the deaths of roughly 70,000 people.1
Jim Steele had to leave a promising military career after his involvement with the Iran-Contra scandal – trading arms to the Iranians for their war against Iraq to finance the death squads in Central America – and so he naturally turned to the private sector. But he had so impressed a Congressman named Dick Cheney, that when Cheney was Vice President, he and Rumsfeld maintained a cozy relationship with Steele who was then sent to Iraq in 2003 to help train the Iraqi paramilitary forces. Steele, working with David Petraeus and others, helped establish “a fearsome paramilitary force” which was designed to counter the Sunni insurgency which had developed in reaction to the U.S. invasion and occupation, running ruthless death squads which helped plunge the country into a deep civil war. Petraeus’ role in helping to create some of Iraq’s most feared death squads was revealed in a 2013 Guardian investigation. 2
However, in 2005, the Pentagon had openly acknowledged that it was considering employing “the Salvador option” in Iraq in order “to take the offensive against the insurgents.” John Negroponte, who had been the U.S. Ambassador to Honduras when the U.S. was running death squads out of Honduras in Central America was, in 2005, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq. The Pentagon and the CIA were considering what roles they could play, possibly using U.S. Special Forces, to help train Iraqi “death squads” to hunt down and kill “insurgents.” 3
Within the first three years of the Iraq war and occupation, the British medical journal, The Lancet, published research indicating that between 2003 and 2006, an estimated 650,000 – 940,000 Iraqis had died as a result of the war. 4 A survey from 2008 indicated that there had been more than one million deaths in Iraq caused by the war. 5
This is referred to as a “counterinsurgency” strategy. In 2006, General Petraeus wrote the forward to the Department of the Army’s Field Manual on Counterinsurgency, in which he noted that, “all insurgencies, even today’s highly adaptable strains, remain wars amongst the people.” 6 A 1962 U.S. counterinsurgency guide for the U.S. war in Vietnam said it even more bluntly when it noted that, “The ultimate and decisive target is the people… Society itself is at war and the resources, motives, and targets of the struggle are found almost wholly within the local population.”7

Iraq Body Count notes that, through yesterday, there have been 412 violent deaths in Iraq.  National Iraqi News Agency reports an armed attack in Mosul left 2 Iraqi soldiers dead, a Mosul bombing claimed the life of 1 young girl and left eight other members of her family injured, 1 military officer was killed in a Mosul clash, "two members of Facilities Protection" were shot dead in Mosul, a Mosul roadside bombing left four people injured (three were police), a Balad Ruz sticky bombing claimed the life of Muhammad Al-Khalidi's secretary, an Aanah roadside bombing left one person injured, and, as they conducted terrorizing raids in Tarmiya, a bomb claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left three more injured.

The rains continue in Iraq.  All Iraq News reports a four-year-old boy in Hilla died from the rains.  Alsumaria notes the Dhi Qar Provincial Council shut down on government operations -- including schools -- for Tuesday and Wednesday as a result of the heavy rains and flooding throughout southern Iraq.  Alsumaria also reported the Dhi Qar Provincial Council was asking Nouri for 200 billion dinars to address the flooding.  Dar Addustour reports that Nouri and the Cabinet of Ministers state they'll give 200 billion dinars to each province effected by the flooding.  Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports there is a current rush to restore the damns in southern Iraq to prevent a repeat of last year's massive flooding.  If Iraq had a real leader -- and not Nouri al-Maliki -- these dams would have been restored in the dry season and there'd be no mad dash, a year later, to fix what should have already been addressed.  Safaa Abdel-Hamid and Mohammed al-Mah (Alsumaria) reports that Anbar Province's civil defense directorate is warning Anbar residents that the flooding could be dangerous for another reason -- landmines.  Flooding could transport the land mines and flooding could also conceal them leading someone to step into the water and onto a landmine.  Last April, UNICEF noted:

It is estimated that more than 1,730 square kilometers of land in Iraq is contaminated with landmines and unexploded ordinance, affecting 1.6 million Iraqis in around 4,000 communities across the country.
Of these, nearly one million children are affected by the presence of landmines with hundreds having been maimed or killed by exploded cluster bomblets since 1991. The most recent Iraqi child victimized is a twelve year old boy who lost one eye and both his hands from a munition that exploded when he was herding sheep near Basra in March, 2013. 

Dar Addustour reports Baghdad is flooded -- by rain and by lack of proper sewage, let's remember Nouri's been prime minister since 2006 and Baghdad's public sewage hasn't been updated since the 1970s -- and is expected to be tomorrow as well.  (You can use the link to see the photos of cars trying to navigate a flooded road.)  Kitabat notes that the lack of public works to address the (expected) heavy rains have led to flooding and that people are heading to schools across Iraq seeking protection from the floods.  Kitabat also notes that the leader of Sadr's bloc in Parliament is calling for Nouri to appear before the Parliament to answer questions as to what was done to prepare for the season's heavy rains.

Could this have been anticipated?  Dropping back to December 26th of last year:

All Iraq News notes that Baghdad is receiving the most rainfall it's seen in thirty years. Alsumaria adds that the last days alone have seen the amount of rainfall Baghdad usually receives in a full year (note the picture of the three men walking down the street with water up to their knees). Kitabat notes that the rain is destroying the infrastructure (check out the photo of the man who's apparently  trying to get home with bags of groceries).
This is not just due to rainfall.  This is also the result of Iraq's crumbling infrastructure -- infrastructure Nouri al-Maliki has had six years to address and he's done nothing.
Alsumaria notes yesterday's rains have caused 3 deaths and two people to be injured in Baghdad -- two deaths from a house collapsing due to the rain and one from electrical death (with two more injured in that as well) and that main streets in the capital are sinking.   All Iraq News notes Baghdad has been placed on high alert because of the torrential rains.
You could mistake Baghdad for Venice in this All Iraq News photo essay which notes that students are forced to walk through the high standing water to get to schools.   They also note of Tuesday's rainfall:  Baghdad had the most yesterday (67 mm) followed by Hilla, Azizia and Karbala (rainfall was also recorded in Samawa, Rifai and Basra -- of those three, Basra was the highest and Baghdad's rainfall was three times Basra's).   It's not just Baghdad.  Alsumaria notes that after ten house collapses in Wasit Province village, the Iraqi Red Crescent began evacuating the entire village. Dar Addustour notes Nouri issued a statement yesterday that he's going to oversee a committee that will try to address the situation.

Yes, none of what's going on in Iraq right now is a surprise and had Nouri really addressed the situation as he claimed he was doing last December, Iraqis wouldn't be suffering as much as they are today.

the washington times

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