Wednesday, May 01, 2013
THIS JUST IN! BAG LADY WITH 100 CATS OR ACTIVIST?
TOWN HALL'S ARE A FORUM FOR AN OFFICIAL'S CONSTITUENTS TO RAISE THEIR ISSUES.
SENATOR KELLY AYOTTE REPRESENTS NEW HAMPSHIRE.
SHE KINDLY ANSWERS A STUNT QUESTION FROM ERICA LAFFERTY WHOSE MOTHER WAS THE PRINCIPAL AT SANDY HOOK. LAFFERTY DOES NOT LIVE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE.
NEXT UP LAFFERTY HEADS FOR MARS TO ASK THE LAND ROVER CURIOSITY WHAT HER STAND ON BACKGROUND CHECKS IS.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Last week, Nouri al-Maliki's forces stormed a sit-in in Hawija (Kirkuk Province) killing 50 and injuing 110. Though barely covered by US outlets (exceptions being the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and AP), the assault was shocking to the rest of the world. On Inside Story (Al Jazeera), a panel discussed the attacks after yet another distorted report from Jane Arraf who is so eager to enable Nouri that she wrongly got the purpose of a commission wrong (the commission supposed to find out about the attack on the protesters, she really needs to try to tamp down on her obvious bias).
Salah Hashimi: First of all, let me disagree with your introduction that this will lead to a sectarian strife. There is absolutely no indication that this is a sectarian issue. It is between peaceful demonstrators and a government which happens to be dominated by Shia elements in Iraq. The Sunni community and the Shia community remain to be at peace with one another. In fact, early reports suggest that plenty of messages have been received from the southern regions of Iraq in support of the demonstrators and in support of the peacefulness of the demonstrations. That's number one. With regards to a massacre, I think early reports suggest that there was a scuffle between Iraqi soldiers, slightly away from the demonstrations in Hawija and that scuffle resulted in one of them being dead. Because of the media blackout on the area, the government suggested that the demonstrators were armed and they were violent and that they were the ones who killed the soldier -- as a result of which, troops massed on the demonstrations in Hawija and subsequently raided them by not only army forces but by so-called SWAT teams. Those teams are completely anonymous, their faces are not shown, no one knows where they come from and no one knows who trained them. So we have peaceful demonstrators -- and I say peaceful because, until now, we haven't had any evidence, a shred of evidence presented by the government that those demonstrators were armed or that they fired at anybody. They've been there for many, many months and nothing has happened. So why now?
Let's stop the discussion to zoom in on an element noted but not addressed: SWAT forces. Saturday, Wael Grace (Al Mada) reported that SWAT forces are under the command of Nouri and take orders from him. When "SWAT" forces are noted in the US, people have a basic understanding of the Special Weapons And Tactics forces. They came up in the sixties and had a bad image for many reasons which was why the TV series SWAT was created and aired (briefly -- two seasons) on ABC. The show was crap but people loved the instrumental theme song which made it to number one on Billboard's Hot 100 in 1976. In the US, people are also familiar with it due to the bad movie released in 2003.
On Inside Story, panelst Abudlmunaem Almula will speak of SWAT and of the Operation Tigris Command forces. However, he will use the term "SWAT" for the former but refer to the latter as "Tigris Operational Army." That's not me saying Almula's wrong in his terms. There are various terms used for the Tigris forces, some of it having to do with translation issues. Iraq is an Arabic speaking culture, conversations in English will not always be as precise with terms. The US created a force under General David Petraeus. You may remember it and its numerous names. In Iraq, it is known as "Sahwa." In English language outlets, they are known as "Awakenings" or "Sons of Iraq" (or "Daughters of Iraq"). Iraqis appearing on English language programs generally refer to them as "Sahwa." That's not strange. It's perfectly understandable.
So someone explain "SWAT" and why it's being used in English and Arabic.
These are new forces. Wael Grace made that clear in the Al Mada report and so did Almula. These just emerged. Why are they called SWAT?
It was not a term you'd encounter naturally in Arabic as we'll go into.
So why is it being used? Why is it being used in Iraq?
Are you getting the point here?
December 6, 2012, the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department Defense of the United States of America was signed. We covered it in the December 10th and December 11th snapshots -- lots of luck finding coverage elsewhere including in media outlets -- apparently there was some unstated agreement that everyone would look the other way. It was similar to the silence that greeted Tim Arango's September 25th New York Times report which noted, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."
The SWAT forces are a new development in Iraq. They emerge after the new agreement -- new training agreement -- is signed with the DoD in December. They are new forces with an American name. SWAT stands for Special Weapons And Tactics. In English, that's what it stands for. Even if you translated the four words into Arabic, you wouldn't end up with the acronym "SWAT." It's a US term.
Were Bully Boy Bush still occupying the White House and US House Rep Nancy Pelois Speaker of the House, she'd be calling for an investigation into the Hawija slaughter to find out what the US involvement was. Clearly, it includes training. If it didn't, the SWAT forces wouldn't be dubbed "SWAT."
The forces that stormed Hawija and killed protesters are forces that were trained by the US and their training was supported by US tax dollars. This killing, this slaughter, would be the topic of Congressional hearings if we had a functioning US Congress. Clearly, we don't.
50 protesters were killed for the 'crime' of taking part in a sit-in. 110 more people were injured. The US government backed Augusto Pinochet and his war crimes. Apparently the US government now backs attacks on peaceful protesters in Iraq. What's at question now is did the US just train them or were they involved in planning the slaughter? In carrying out the slaughter?
The refusal to ask these questions is a sickness. And the US has left behind sickness in Iraq. Not just in terms of birth defects and cancers. Today Doctors Without Borders released [PDF format warning] "Healing Iraqis."
Mental health disorders and emotional distress are as debilitating and agonizing as physical health problems. According to The World Health Organisation, mental health disorders are the fourth leading cause of ill health in Iraqis over the age of 5 years. There is little doubt that years of political and social repression, punctuated by wars, and followed by a post-war period characterised by interrupted and insufficient basic services have taken their toll on the Iraqi people.
The report notes that with a death toll you also have "the number of people impacted by these deaths, through injury, losing loved ones, and/or witnessing violent events in many times higher." There are many case studies in the report. We'll note one:
A young boy developed a speech impediment and started becoming aggressive towards his siblings and school friends after he witnessed the death of several people in a bombing in his neighborhood. The boy avoids going to areas close to where the bombing took place and says that he can still smell the odor of burning bodies. The boy is receiving focused trauma therapy, the use of drawing aids to help the boy articulate his feelings and fears and it's hoped that this will help address his stammer and social anxiety issues.
And the violence has not ceased, so Iraqis continued to be effected. Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 547 violent deaths in Iraq this month. Today's the last day of April and violence continues. National Iraqi News Agency reports a suicide bomber killed himself in Sulaiman Beg and claimed 2 others lives while also leaving five people injured, and a Kirkuk bombing leaves two Peshmerga injured. NINA also notes an armed clash in Mosul left three Iraqi soldiers injured, a Mosul roadside bombing left 2 police officers dead, an armed clash in Tikrit left 3 rebels dead and three more injured, a Falluja roadside bombing left one person injured, a Tikrit roadside bombing left one police officer injured, 2 Baghdad bombings claimed 3 lives and left seven people injured, and Ismail Flaiyih was assassinated in Ramadi. He was a "member of the Coordinating Committee of the Organization of Anbar sit-in Square" and he was shot dead.
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