Just noting two new videos about my favorite author of all time, Octavia Butler.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Tuesday, July 6, 2021.
Yesterday, Rania Khalek appeared on THE KATIE HALPER SHOW and discussed, among other things, Iraq.
Over an hour into it, they'll get to Iraq. Disagree with Rania. Certain groups did not "save" Iraq. The groups she's referring to -- the militias -- have tortured and have done so for years. I don't know why she feels the need to defend them. We defend people here, we don't defend groups. We certainly do not distort reality. The militias torture and have long tortured. You can't be in favor of, just to stay recently, protests and support the groups that attack the protesters. That threaten their families. That resort to violence to shut them up. That assassinate them.
I realize we're dealing with a complex issue and that if the discussion in the video above had been more focused, Rania might have been able to make some points that are currently missing -- and needed. I also think it's important that Iraq gets attention. So we're including the video.
But I will never, ever support thugs who hunt down children to kill them because they might be gay. When Rania wants to talk about that, she may have something really worth saying but, as it is, I don't think she's even aware of that period of recent Iraqi history.
In any situation, there's always a push to make someone the 'good guy' and I don't play that game. Sometimes you have many actors and sometimes they're all harming.
Talk to Sunnis in Anbar, for example, about the militias and you'll get a completely different reading than what's Rania's offering. But then, no one -- not one media outlet -- talks to Sunnis in Anbar. Sunnis have become the forgotten people of Iraq when it comes to the media.
And before some idiot trapped in duality attempts to shoot back, "Well Shi'ites have to love them!"? No, they don't have to love them and many don't. And I'm sorry that you're so stupid that you don't grasp that what we were discussing above, before we got to naming the Sunnis, was Shia v. Shia. I'm sorry that you're too stupid to grasp that the protesters in The October Revolution are mainly Shi'ite. That's who the militias are attacking.
And they're even attacking their own members. Quick, prove you know anything about this situation by naming the Shi'ite referred to on social media as "the martyr." Can't do it, can you? US media didn't cover it so you're lost and left out. But he chose to be part of the protests and he was also a newbie in an Iranian-linked militia in Iraq. "Was" because he was assassinated by the militia he was a part of. That's why he's referred to as "the martyr."
US troops need to leave Iraq. But even if they did so tomorrow -- and they should -- that would not make Iraq safe. The US government has spent years ensuring that democracy and safety are missing from Iraq. They overturned the 2010 election results because they didn't like what the voters did (kicked out Nouri al-Maliki). They (the US government -- Samantha Power was one of the loudest voices) argued that Nouri was needed for Iraq.
Giving Nouri the second term was a disaster and led to the rise of ISIS.
Time and again, the US government has backed thugs because they wanted control and control was more important than the well being of the Iraqi people.
The government in Iraq is a joke and doesn't represent the Iraqi people.
I'm glad Rania talked about Iraq but was surprised because she doesn't usually. She talks about neighboring Syria very often. And that's fine. But Syria and Iraq are not the same thing. And she doesn't appear to have specific knowledge of Iraq. Even so, at least Iraq got a mention on a lefty program -- that's something that hardly ever happens these days.
Staying with the topic of Iraq where Robert Pether remains behind bars. Peter Murtagh (IRISH TIMES) reports:
Robert Pether is an Australian citizen, but he lives in Elphin in Co Roscommon with his wife, Desree; two sons, Flynn (18) and Oscar (16); and eight-year-old daughter, Nala, who all hold Irish passports.
An engineer, he was arrested in April with his Egyptian colleague, Khalid Radwan, without explanation in the office of the governor of the Iraqi central bank in April, following a dispute over payments between the bank and building contractors.
Now, six French, Irish and British lawyers have petitioned the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, part of the office of the UNHCR, to become involved.
“This is a very, very egregious case. It is just blackmail,” according to one of the lawyers who have petitioned the UN, French arbitration lawyer Pierre Pic.
Australian citizen Robert Pether has apparently been abandoned by his own country which does nothing to object to his imprisonment in Iraq. (The Australian Embassy staff didn't even meet with Pether until May 3rd, 26 days after he was imprisoned.) It's now been over forty days that he's been held in a prison with no charge (they say they are holding him for "questioning"). His appeal for bail was denied on May 11th. He was told by his own government that it was safe to go to Baghdad for a meeting. He showed up at the meeting but there was no meeting. Instead, he was hauled off to an Iraqi prison. DessyMac Tweets:
Last week, Christopher Knaus (GUARDIAN) reported:
No charge has been laid and his family says the Iraqi authorities have denied him proper access to a lawyer, held him for long periods in solitary confinement, and strictly controlled contact with the outside world.
Now, Pether’s lawyers have lodged a complaint with the United Nations working group on arbitrary detention, which has the ability to investigate cases of deprivation of liberty imposed arbitrarily or inconsistently with the international standards.
The Guardian has not seen a copy of the confidential complaint.
But it is understood the complaint urges the UN to urgently appeal to the government of Iraq. It says the pair are being detained as leverage in the business dispute between the bank and CME, and have not been informed of a criminal charge, despite more than two months of detention.
Peter Murtagh, in a second article, notes what it's been like behind bars for Robert:
However, Pether and his Egyptian colleague, Khalid Radwan, were arrested when they came back. Quickly, Iraqi security “took every piece of paper out of Robert’s bedroom and out of his office, took every file, every hard drive, his laptop and his phone”.
A request to be allowed to speak with the Australian embassy was refused. Soon they were taken to a detention centre called D6 where both were held in solitary for the first 12 days.
There he was held, his lawyer’s petition now claims, “in a 2sq m cell with the lights permanently on”, where he was “blindfolded, interrogated, screamed at, threatened, insulted and shown torture rooms”.
On April 12th, Pether was charged with “impersonating a company”, though this allegation was “quickly and easily disproved” and the charges were dropped, says the petition.
Soon after, Pether was transferred to the al-Muthanna, a military detention centre, but neither he nor Radwan have been charged with any offence.
90 days held behind bars with no charges brought but threats made -- showing him torture rooms is a threat -- an action intended to intimidate -- and this is Iraq? No one should want to do business with them and no foreign companies should send employees to Iraq. This makes it very clear that there is no responsible government in charge.
This is an embarrassment to the Iraqi government and yet they continue to make the situation worse by holding Robert. A functioning government would have long ago moved to kill this story by releasing Robert. Instead, they're whining about wanting international investment and foreign businesses but this is what they're allowing to be done -- 90 days behind bars, no charges, denied medical assistance, shown torture rooms, etc.
In other news, UNI-SPUTNIK report:
Alarm sirens were turned on at the US embassy in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, the air defense system was activated over an "unknown object" in the sky above the embassy, Iraqi television channel Sl Sumaria reported citing a security source.
:Alarm sirens went off at the US embassy, the C-RAM system was activated . . . due to the detection of an unknown object in the sky above the US embassy," the source said.
If alarms went off, why did they go off? AFP explains, "US forces shot down an armed drone above their embassy in Baghdad on Monday night, Iraqi security officials said, hours after a rocket attack on a base housing US soldiers in the west of the country." It was one attack, there was another. Seth J. Frantzmen (JERUSALEM POST) reports:
A day after rumors of an attack on US forces in Syria by pro-Iran militias, the militias made good on their threats with two rounds of attacks on the US in Iraq. During the afternoon, rockets targeted Al-Asad base and by the evening, drones were reported to have targeted an area near the US embassy.
Though no one is boasting they carried out the Sunday attack, there are threats being made. Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) explains:
The leader of an Iran-backed Iraqi militia has vowed to retaliate against America for the deaths of four of his men in a U.S. airstrike along the Iraq-Syria border last month, saying it will be a military operation everyone will talk about.
Abu Alaa al-Walae, commander of Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada, said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press in Baghdad that the electoral victory of Iran’s hard-line judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi as president will strengthen Iran-backed militant groups throughout the Middle East for the next four years.
Al-Walae, who rarely gives interviews to foreign media organizations, spoke to the AP on Monday in an office in a Baghdad neighborhood along the Tigris River.
This is the latest public threat. Before Biden hit them in Iraq, they'd made many public statements proclaiming threats. And somehow, it appears that many in the US were unaware. I'm sure some were unaware, the US media doesn't do a good job of covering Iraq. But some were playing willfully dumb and were aware of the public threats.
We were noting yesterday that Moqtada was no longer a movement leader and idiots and members f the Mooki fan club felt the need to e-mail and say that's not true. He is a Shi'ite cleric. He continues to have a large cult (though it has shrunk). But he's not a movement leader. The October Revoltuion has nothing to do with him, they kicked him aside. And they, like most Iraqis, deplore corruption.
Moqtada is part of the corruption. He's been a 'leader' for how long now and no improvement in Sadr City at all. He's also a big part of the government as Adam Tooze notes:
Corrupt Moqtada is in the news for more than just the above, he's also being talked of because of his latest bit of self-created drama. Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) explains:
Iraq’s populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr told his followers on Monday he would be “killed”, words analysts said were to garner pre-election support and send a warning to Iran.
Mr Al Sadr has a huge following on the Iraqi street and has a history of making bombastic statements to shore up support against foreign intervention, specifically against US troops.
He also wields the power, through his family’s religious legacy, to encourage thousands of his followers to take to the streets.
“It seems that something will activate the Sadrist movement, which is my death or my killing. I will be a martyr and my death will revive something that has disappeared,” Mr Al Sadr told a group of clerics during a meeting.
Oh, that wacky Moqtada. Nahwi Saeed Tweets: