Sunday, February 23, 2014







As Al-Monitor's Amal Sakr pointed out earlier this month, over 9.5 million Iraqis -- out of 34.7 million -- "are living below the poverty line." Iraq's chief thug and prime minister Nouri al-Maliki's on year eight, the end of his second term, and he's done so very little to help improve the Iraqi economy or create jobs.

That's all changing, however.

This week, Nouri introduced a new jobs program.

And if he can get people to carry around video camera or use their cell phones to film, he can create even more jobs by turning the whole thing into a television program.

He could make a programming bloc of it, pairing it with the forced confessions which already air on Iraqi TV.

The program could be called Who Wants To Be A Vigilante?

In a country marked by poverty, Nouri's grand idea?

Vigilante justice -- which is more justice than the country currently has, granted.

Al-Shorfa reports Nouri's attempting to turn the country into bounty hunters.  Kill a 'terrorist' and you'll get 20 million dinars (that sounds better in Iraqi currency, in US dollars it's $17,172.53) and 30 million dinars ($25,758.80) if they capture the 'terrorist' alive.

Anyone else bothered by this?

Apparently not.

White House hasn't said a word.

So if you are an Iraqi in Iraq and you have someone you dislike, grab your gun, find them and shoot.

All you have to do is claim the person was a 'terrorist.'

You might get a reward.

But certainly you won't get prison because Nouri's not doing 'Most Wanted.'  No, he's not providing a list of ten people for you to hunt down.

He's leaving it up to you to determine who is and who isn't a 'terrorist.'

And, hey, mistakes get made.

So you kill an innocent person or two.

Again, is anyone else bothered by this?

Vigilante justice in Iraq.

There are thousands of people on death row in Iraq right now -- at least 50 are foreign nationals from other countries.  There have been repeated cries for a moratorium.  These are ignored.

And Iraqis are encouraged to embrace and cheer on executions.

Into this environment, you want to turn the country into vigilantes?

At what point is the US government going to assist the Iraqi government with supporting rule of law?

Those of us who had to sit through those awful 2011 Congressional hearings where the State Dept offered one tight-lipped official after another -- who could never explain what the billions they were getting for Iraq were going to be spent on -- well know, the State Dept was going to work on so many issues.  Rule of law was one.  Women's rights was another.

They boasted loudly -- in generalities.

Well, as  Human Rights Watch recent report entitled (PDF format warning) "'NO ONE IS SAFE: Abuses of Women in Iraq's Criminal Justice System" proves, the State Dept clearly failed at attempts to improve the lives of women or the rule of law.

Fiscal Year 2012 is the most recent year USAID has posted numbers for.  In FY2012, USAID spent $13.5 million of US tax payer dollars -- spent them in Iraq on strenghtening what?

The rule of law and human rights.

The big ticket item for that year?  $148.4 million -- US tax payer money -- was spent in Iraq on "Democracy and Governance."

Talk about money wasted.  Sadly, it's not refundable.

The State Dept never gets asked about any of those problems.

It's hard to tell if the US press is just an enabler or a co-conspirator.

At any rate, it was just weeks ago that Nouri made the same appeal but without cash.

There was no embrace of it so now Nouri's tossing money and hoping that will put over the plan.

The plan, please note, that reveals what a total failure Nouri al-Maliki is.

With all the weapons provided by the US and other foreign governments, with all the 'intelligence' the US military is currently providing Nouri, with command of the Iraqi forces, the unconstitutional Tigris Operation Command, SWAT, the federal police and so much more, he still can't defeat the people he's defined as the 'enemy' (the ones others call Iraqis).

Mike Phipps (BRussells Tribunal) observes:

The pernicious narrative, peddled by the Iraqi Government and picked up in the mainstream media, that Al-Qaeda had taken over Fallujah, was a long way from the truth. But it helped to secure an immediate delivery of arms to the Iraqi regime from its US puppeteers to help quell the protests in Anbar.
For protests is what they are. They began over a year ago, demanding the freeing of tens of thousands of detainees held without charge by the security forces. Brutal torture and rape - regardless of gender - are widespread in Iraq’s jails. Last year alone, the state executed 169 people, putting it third in the league behind China and Iran.
The Iraqi Government’s accusation of an external Al-Qaeda takeover was made to justify a ferocious siege and bombardment of the Fallujah and Ramadi.  As Iraqi activist Haifa Zangana has pointed out, “Al-Maliki selectively chooses not to mention the regime's own militias: Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Iraqi Hezbollah, the Badr brigades, factions of the Mahdi army and the Mokhtar army. The latter's leader has bragged on Baghdadiya TV, about their responsibility for several attacks. No investigation has been done and no one was arrested. There is also hardly any mention of the Iraqi Special Forces inherited from the occupation, especially trained by Colonel James Steele under US ambassador John Negroponte and attached now directly to al-Maliki's office. Above all, there is no mention of the plethora of foreign-led special operation agents, private security contractors, and organised networks of professional killers, some of whom, many Iraqis believe, are protected by the regime, in the shadow of the US' biggest embassy in the world, in the fortified green zone in Baghdad.”
Government shelling of the towns in Anbar Province has been intense. Human Rights Watch has accused the regime of “indiscriminate mortar fire in civilian neighbourhoods” and “killing its own citizens unlawfully”. Hundreds of people have been killed and more than 200,000 displaced.
The Pentagon is considering following up its arms shipments with the deployment of more troops in the region to train Iraqi forces. This would be fitting, given the atrocities the US military inflicted on this unhappy country along with a deliberate sectarian set of state institutions. It is almost ten years since the first round of collective punishment was inflicted on Fallujah - by US forces.
The 2004 bombardment was a war crime. NGO's and medical workers estimated that between 4,000 and 6,000 mostly civilians were killed. In addition, 36,000 of the city's 50,000 homes were destroyed, along with 60 schools and 65 mosques and shrines, and up to 200,000 residents were forced to flee.
Months later, the US admitted that it had used white phosphorous as a battlefield weapon in the assault on Fallujah. A documentary on the Italian RAI channel showed images of bodies recovered afterwards, which it said proved the incendiary, similar in effect to napalm, had been used against men, women and children who were burned to the bone. Unconfirmed reports suggest the Iraqi regime is using similar munitions this time around.

Xinhua reports that Nouri's forces are boasting that they've retaken Sulaiman Bek and killed 48 rebels.  That might pass for 'success' to the extreme stupid.  But those paying attention to the seven-week-plus operation Nouri's launched -- a campaign of terror on Anbar -- are fully aware that, when the Anbar assault was launched weeks ago, Sulaiman Bek was controlled by the Iraqi government.  And those paying attention are also aware that Sulaiman Bek is not in Anbar Province, it's in Salahuddin Province.

In other words, Nouri's assault on Anbar can seen as causing Nouri's government to lose control of Sulaiman Bek and exposing the utter weakness of Nouri's leadership.

Those really paying attention are probably also remembering that five days ago, February 17th, Nouri's forces were boasting that they'd retaken Sulaiman Bek.

Maybe this time their boasts are accurate?


AFP observes:

Authorities have tried everything from wide-ranging operations against militants and offers of training and jobs for tribesmen who fight for the government, to restricting vehicle use in the capital.

But nothing has yet succeeded [. . .]

But nothing has yet succeeded.

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