Wednesday, January 04, 2012







"Recently the media has been filled with announcements that the war in Iraq has finally ended. But in a war fought not only by enlisted foot soldiers, but also largely by corporations, mercenaries, and drones, what constitutes an end?" asks Iraq War Veterans Against the War's Joyce Wagner:

Although it is an important and significant milestone, the withdrawal of troops from Iraq does not necessarily signify an end to occupation. The US footprint is still heavy in the form of corporate contractors who employ indentured servants (under the euphemism "third country nationals") and mercenaries without oversight, accountability, or transparency.
The Iraqi resistance movement is preparing for what it calls, "the second face of the occupation." According to a statement released by Uday al-Zaidi, this includes structures imposed by the US such as the sectarian government and its divisive constitution. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed, families have been destroyed, displaced, and forced into refugee status all over the world. We support self-determination for the people of Iraq, and continue to work toward our goal of making reparation with the people who have been so deeply affected by this war and its aftermath.
[. . .]
Meanwhile, over 4,000 American service members have been killed, and many more are living with physical disabilities and invisible wounds, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Military Sexual Trauma, and Major Depressive Disorder. Troops are living with undiagnosed traumatic brain injuries, many of which go undetected for months or even years. Instead of being treated when they return, many service members receive orders to deploy to Afghanistan, even though a part of them remains at war in Iraq. If this nation wants to honor its veterans, we need them to honor our right to heal.
And, of course, some who might be thought to be returning will remain to guard the embassy and train on weapons and, in addition, many have instead been repostured (Pentagon's term) into surrounding countries with the plan that they can dart back into Iraq should the White House determine that this is needed. Ted Koppel established that fact with a report last month on Rock Center with Brian Williams (NBC):
Ted Koppel: This is the man who might actually have to deal with that nightmare, Lt Gen Robert Caslan. General, how are you going to get 1320 people out of there? I mean if you've 24 hours notice that something like this was going to happen, you're telling me the Iraqi government would evacuate immediately? Would get them all out of there?

Lt Gen Robert Caslan: I would argue that we do have, in theater, whether it's in Kuwait or elsewhere in theater, that we fall under the central command, Centcom, and I feel confident that Centcom has the necessary assets to take whatever measures they need to to counter that attack.

In Iraq currently, Rebecca Santana (AP) reports that some Sunnis are exiting mixed neighborhoods out of fear. Why? The political crisis has frightened them. It started with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordering questionable arrests of Sunnis -- over 500 of them. He insisted they were "terrorists" and "Ba'athists." More recently, after a trip to DC and photo ops with Barack Obama, Nouri began going after Iraqi politicians. Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi went to the KRG on business and, the day after he arrived, Nouri al-Maliki has an arrest warrant sworn out on him. Nouri accuses him of being a terrorist. He currently remains in the KRG, a house guest of President Jalal Talabani. Along with targeting the vice president, Nouri is demanding that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his duties. Nouri heads the political slate State of Law which came in second in the 2010 elections. Iraqiya, headed by Ayad Allawi, came in first. al-Hashemi and al-Mutlaq are both members of Iraqiya. The editorial board of the Louisville Courier Journal (via the Leaf Chronicle) covers the political crisis:

For starters, the timing supports fears that Mr. al-Maliki is moving to purge the government of meaningful Sunni participation. In addition to seeking Mr. al-Hashemi's arrest, Mr. al-Maliki asked the parliament for a no-confidence vote against another prominent Sunni leader, Saleh al-Mutlaq, a deputy prime minister. Mr. al-Maliki also threatened to exclude Iraqiya, the main Sunni party, from participation in the unity government.
Meanwhile, hundreds of former members of the Baath Party, through which Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq as leader of the Sunni minority, have been arrested in recent weeks, and Sunni officials' compounds in Baghdad have been surrounded by Mr. al-Maliki's security forces.
All in all, the situation reeks of Shiite vengeance against Sunnis and strongly suggests that Mr. al-Maliki intends to become a new Iraqi dictator.

And that possibility, Nouri as the new dictator, may be why the Speaker of Parliment spoke out this week. Al Mada reports Osama al-Nujaifi has called for the Iraqi military to promote national unity and not suppress the people, noting that human rights abuses by the military are threatening the country. He also called on the military to stay out of political disputes. Dar Addustour adds that he declared public freedoms to be among the most important accomplishments in the transformation of Iraq to a democracy. He decried the use of violence against Iraqis and the arbitrary arrests. AFP quotes al-Nujaifi stating, "We find that human rights in Iraq have suffered massive violations. Human rights have not been achieved amid the deteriorating of the political process in Iraq. It is clear the development of the nation is based on how much human rights are respected. Losing these rights is destroying democracy." Adam Schrek (AP) observes, "The televised comments by Osama al-Nujaifi, one of the country's top Sunni officials, are yet another salvo in a growing political crisis sparked when Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government issued an arrest warrant for the country's top Sunni politician last month." Asli Aydintasbas (Newsweek) interviews Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and quotes him stating:

The U.S. left my country with challenges beyond our capacity to solve. Maliki cannot be part of a solution. We [Sunnis] cannot reach a reconciliation with Maliki anymore. Anyone else could replace him within the Shiite national alliance. But it has to be someone who believes in rule of law, the future of [Iraqi] institutions
Another member of Iraqiay that Nouri has been targeting is Finance Minister Rafe al-Essawi whom Jack Healy and Michael R. Gordon (New York Times) profiled Saturday and noted that Nouri had tried to get the Cabinet to toss him out but the Cabinet had refused. al-Esawi told the New York Times, "Maliki now wants just to get rid of his partners, to build a dictatorship. He wants to consolidate power more and more. Someone else should be prime minister." The day after the comments ran, there was an attempt on al-Essawi's life. Press TV reported he was the target of a roadside bombing Sunday which left "three of Essawi's bodyguards, two officers and one soldier" wounded. Dan Morse (Washington Post) reports Essawi is calling for an investigation and Morse writes, "Essawi is widely regarded in Iraq as a moderate official. But it's no longer just Iraqiya that Nouri's State of Law is going after. Aswat al-Iraq reports:

Al-Iraqiya spokeswoman Maysoon al-Damalouji expressed her astonishment and denunciation of the "irresponsible" statement made by the State of Law MP Hussein al-Asadi against President Jalal Talabani.
In a statement issued by her office, received by Aswat al-Iraq, she added that "Al-Iraqiya Bloc considers these statements a new unilateral rule and attacking the partnership in decision making".
She added that "the attack against al-Iraqiya Bloc will cover all other political blocs, which warns in severe deterioration in the political situation and demolishing the Iraqi state".
Damalouji pointed out that Asadi accused President Talabani with "terrorism" for hosting his deputy Tariq al-Hashimi till a just trial is made.

Asked about Talabani being called a terrorist by State of Law, US State Dept spokesperson Victoria Nuland declared in today's press briefing, "Well, we don't think name calling is the right solution here." Way to stake out a brave position there.
It needs to be noted that Nouri al-Maliki has sued and threatened to sue others for less and yet he has not condemned the statement by a member of his bloc, he's let it linger out there, the charge that Jalal Talabani is a terrorist. Next time Nouri kicks his feet and screams in public, remember that. Or remember that it was Saturday when he was claiming people needed to be civil.

Truest statement of the week
Truest statement of the week II
A note to our readers
Editorial: 2011, over at last
TV: The Toxic Drips Of Tiny Penises
Radio show of 2011
The Make Out Song of 2011
2011 Trend: Sucky Comic Book Films
NDAA=War on Bill of Rights (Sara Flounders)
Death sentence dropped (UK Socialist Worker)

"What's Taylor Marsh really up to?"
"Another year"
"Barack finally gets something right!"