Saturday, April 06, 2013

Nikita: 'Tipping Point'

Weekend, yeah!  Nikita airs on The CW.  Remember, no repeats, new episode very week until the season finale (I think in six more episodes).

Remember the guy Nikita was trapped with, the medical guy who could have fixed Michael's hand but was taking all those children to experiment on so Nikita had to shoot him to save the children?

Well he's back.  Or his image is.  He appears on a monitor in the midst of a mission Nikita and Michael are on.

Image:  Who we are isn't nearly as important as what we can do.  Please open the case.  If we'd wanted to kill you, we would have.

In the case?  A hand for Michael.  State of the art.

Division will do one mission for them and they will attach the hand. 

 Meanwhile, a rebellion is brewing at Division.  Sonya goes into the server room and sees a man in there.  Before she can get a good look, he sets off an explosion.  What was he doing in there?

There's a rebellion brewing.  Rachel works in the main area like Sonya.  She's the one who let the man in.  There's Rachel and two men that are part of the rebellion.  And she asks the men to sound out others so that they can build their ranks.


Michael and Nikita and a guy we've never seen before do the mission.  Doing that mission results in the death of a man we've never seen before.   Which only breeds hostility.

Afterwards, Rachel walks right into Nikita by accident.

"How's Michael?" she asks before saying unconvincingly, "He must be devastated."

She tells Nikita she remembers when Percy died and how Nikita spoke to them, "And you made that promise.  You're the reason we're all going to get out of here someday."


I'm surprised Nikita couldn't tell she was being talked to sarcastically.

So Nikita does the second part of the mission while Michael's hand gets attached.

She takes what they stole -- after fighting people they stole it from -- and puts it in a car that drives up.  Without a driver.  No one is in the car.  After she drops the thing (weapon?) in, the car pulls off.

Sean tells Alex he's worried about her and that he saw the chair when they were on that mission.  Remember when Alex was kidnapped by Amanda a few weeks back?  And Alex saw or 'saw' Larissa, the doctor who was going to help her but ended up dead.  I always suspected Larissa was a fraud.  But I thought she was pretending.  She may not have even existed.  That's what Sean appears to get at when he tells her he saw the chair.  It's a chair that was used on people before to implant fake memories.

Alex is furious that Sean's suggesting Amanda programmed her.

Ryan wants to find out who's part of the rebellion in Division. He tells Alex this results from her speech to everyone last episode and that now Division is at a tipping point.   Sean's convinced he can come up with a trap.  Alex asks Nikita what happens when they catch the leader?  They're going to torture the person, kill the person?

Nikita says they'll make an example of the person.  They'll put the person in front of Division and then forgive the person.  This isn't the old Division, Nikita insists.


Sean's plan (that I don't understand) works.  Someone's trying to hack into something and they're in the control room so Alex, Ryan and Sean are looking when Rachel looks up, obviously guilty and then tries to make a run for it.

Sean tackles her and she pulls a knife out of her boot and stabs him in the leg.

She's taken to an interrogation cell where Ryan and Alex interrogate her.

Ryan tells her that she doesn't "have to take the fall for any of the others."

She insists that she will ("I will take the fall for the others") and that they're at "the tipping point."

The tipping point?  Ryan's confused.  He'd used that term . . . with Alex.




Ryan:  Rachel says that she's the leader but that isn't true.  Is it?  She's not taking the fall for the others.  She's taking the fall for you.

Alex:  Well somebody has to look out for them.  If they stay, you and Nikita and this place?  You're going to get everyone killed.

Ryan:  Alex, you can't possibly believe that.

Alex:   've seen it.  If Division is left standing, more people are going to die.  Just like Jason.  And Larissa --

Ryan:  Larissa?

Alex:  -- and all the other girls.

In her mind suddenly Alex is flashing on being brought to America as part of a Russian prostitution ring and seeing the other Russian women.


Ryan:  What?  What other girls?

She pulls a gun and aims it at Ryan.

Alex:  No, I will not let you hurt them again.


Ryan:  Alex, what are you doing?

Alex:  Just stay away from me!

Rachel: Do it!  He's going to turn us both in.

Ryan:  Alex.  Think.  It's not too late to fix this.  Alex, give me the gun --

She flashes on Amanda.  (Sean was right, she was in that chair.  And Larissa is most likely a made up character who was never there.)  She shoots Ryan in the stomach.

She tells Rachel to hit her with the gun and that Rachel has to get caught to preserve the secret.  Rachel will then say nothing while the plan moves forward.

Rachel does as told. But worries what happens if Ryan recovers and blows the lid off on Alex being the leader?

Michael and Nikita find Alex at Ryan's bedside.  Alex says Rachel would have shot her if Ryan hadn't jumped in front and taken the bullet.  She also talks like a mind programmed robot.  Which I keep hoping Michael and Nikita catch because they keep looking like what?  But apparently they just assume Alex is stunned.

The last scene is the man who owns the warehouse that Michael and Nikita stole whatever from.  He's speaking to a blond man and how he agreed to let the blond man send the people into rob but there wasn't supposed to be shooting.  The man is Asian and apparently a foreigner.  He says there will be trouble with State.  The blond says that they've already taken care of it.


Also, Michael's hand.  If Nikita hadn't done the entire mission (dropping the whatever into that car), then Michael's hand would have gone bad, decayed and caused him tremendous pain.

Am I the only one who feels like if they could do that after it was attached, they could do it at any point in the future?


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


 
Friday, April 5, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Brett McGurk returns to Iraq (pray for Iraqi women), the US stabs the Kurds, Iraqiya and others in the back, The Erbil Agreement is now officially shredded by McGurk, Nouri issues an arrest warrant for Finance Minister Rafi al-Issawi, protests continue, and more.

Never think Thug Nouri al-Maliki possesses any sanity. 
  World Bulletin News reports that a Baghdad court has "issued arrest warrants and inquiry against outgoing Finance Minister Rafi al-Issawi on charges of 'involvement in issues of financial and administrative corruption'."  This is not something minor.  Protests have gone in Iraq for over 100 days.  They kicked off December 21st.  From that day's snapshot:


After morning prayers, Kitabat reports, protesters gathered in Falluja to protest the arrests and Nouri al-Maliki.  They chanted down with Nouri's brutality and, in a move that won't change their minds, found themselves descended upon by Nouri's forces who violently ended the protest.  Before that, Al Mada reports, they were chanting that terrorism and Nouri are two sides of the same coin.  Kitabat also reports that demonstrations also took place in Tikrit, Samarra, Ramdia and just outside Falluja with persons from various tribes choosing to block the road connecting Anbar Province (Falluja is the capitol of Anbar) with Baghdad.  Across Iraq, there were calls for Nouri to release the bodyguards of Minister of Finance Rafie al-Issawi.  Alsumaria notes demonstrators in Samarra accused Nouri of attempting to start a sectarian war.


So what happened yesterday?  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports:



Iraq's Finance Minister Rafei al-Essawi said Thursday that "a militia force" raided his house, headquarters and ministry in Baghdad and kidnapped 150 people, and he holds the nation's prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, responsible for their safety.  Members of the al-Essawi's staff and guards were among those kidnapped from the ministry Thursday, the finance minister said. He also said that his computers and documents were searched at his house and headquarters. He said the head of security was arrested Wednesday at a Baghdad checkpoint for unknown reasons and that now the compound has no security.

Kitabat explains that these raids took place in the Green Zone, were carried out by the Iraqi military and that Nouri, yesterday evening, was insisting he knew nothing about them.    In another report, Tawfeeq quotes al-Essawi stating, "My message to the prime minister: You are a man who does not respect partnership at all, a man who does not respect the law and the constitution, and I personally hold you fully responsible for the safety of the kidnapped people." BBC News adds, "Rafie al-Issawi, a prominent member of the al-Iraqiyya political bloc, said about 150 of his bodyguards and staff members had been arrested on Thursday."


That was day one of the protests.  The targeting of Rafie al-Issawi was the final straw.


The arrest has echoes and implications that go far beyond your average arrest warrant.  Not only will this likely impact the ongoing protests, there's the fact that provincial elections are supposed to be held in 15 days (in 12 of Iraq's 18 provinces).  al-Issawi is a member of Iraqiya and a Sunni and this will be seen as yet another attempt by Nouri to influence the elections by painting his political rivals as crooked.  (Iraqiya beat Nouri's State of Law in the March 2010 parliamentary elections.)

In December 2011, when most (but not all) US troops left Iraq (15,000 remain in the surrounding area -- in addition to those in Iraq), you had something similar take place.  Dropping back to the December 19, 2011 snapshot:



CNN reported this afternoon that an arrest warrant had been issued for Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi by the Judicial Commitee with the charge of terrorism.  Omar al-Saleh (Al Jazeera) terms it a "poltical crisis" and states, "The government says this has nothing to do with the US withdrawal, that this has nothing to do with the prime minister consolidating his grip on power.  However, members of al-Iraqiya bloc, which Hashimis is a member of, say 'No, [Maliki] is trying to be a dictator."  Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) observes, "The arrest warrant puts Mr. Maliki on a possible collision course with the Kurds, who run their own semiautonomous region in the north and participate in the central government but have longstanding disputes with Baghdad over oil and land; and with Sunni Arabs in provinces like Anbar, Diyala, Nineveh and Salahuddin who have pressed in recent weeks for more autonomy from Baghdad with the backing of the Kurds."


What the hell is going on? 


Over the weekend, Nouri went for another power grab. 



It actually started before Saturday but the press was ga-ga over photo-ops.  'Last soldier out! No, really, last US soldier out! Except for the ones still there! Don't look behind the curtain!'   And apparently covering for Barack was more important than telling Americans what was taking place in Iraq.


Late Saturday night online (Sunday in print), Liz Sly (Washington Post) noted that the 'government' in Iraq is "unraveling faster than had been anticipated Saturday." Really?  All in one day.  Well,  no, not in one day.  She continued,  "In recent days, the homes of top Sunni politicians in the fortified Green Zone have been ringed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, and rumors are flying that arrest warrants will be issued for other Sunni leaders."


Days?


Plural.



"In recent days."  



Golly, seems to me if you know -- for even just one damn day -- that Nouri's goons -- in tanks, no less -- are 'ringing' his political opponents home, you report it then.  Yet even with Sly reporting this late Saturday -- by which point it was already all over the Iraqi media -- you had Jim Axlerod (CBS News) filing garbage and crap and pretending that was covering Iraq. 

The targeting of Tareq al-Hashemi only ensured that Nouri's power-grab became more obvious.  For months before that happened, you had Iraqiya, the Kurds and Moqtada al-Sadr calling on Nouri to honor The Erbil Agreement and stating that he was ruling like a dictator --  Ayad Allawi said it outright to a British publication; Saleh al-Mutlaq told CNN Nouri was the new Saddam.  We'll come back to The Erbil Agreement because the US government officially trashed it this week -- but the US press 'forgot' to report that.  Imagine that. 





May they cut off his cock and shove it down his throat.  Let's talk Iraqi women.  Sophie Ghaziri (Al Arabiya) explained last month how the US-led Iraq War destroyed the status of women in Iraq:

Women in the country once had a place in society; held prominent and important roles across the public and private sectors. But after two wars, an authoritarian administration and U.N. sanctions Iraq has been left crippled with most women struggling to meet their most basic needs; most living in poverty.
The daily life of ordinary, poor women in Iraq is tough as they are without income, social security and are constantly at risk of being abused. Not to mention the women who still remain locked up in Iraqi prisons for unspecified reasons, or as blackmail to get their male loved ones to hand themselves over to security forces and confess to charges the government has brought against them.
Those women are the ones that sparked protests in Iraq over the last couple of months. Those women are the ones who face daily abuse, torture and no respect. The plight of female detainees brought thousands onto to the streets carrying placards of those who still remain behind bars, looking for justice.

In Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale, fundamentalist militias take over the United States and women lose all rights and agency.  What was a brilliant but scary novel has become reality for Iraqi women. 

Symbolism matters in Iraq today and has mattered.  Canada deserves applause for their recent move.  Fan-Yee Suen (CTV News) reported Monday on Stephanie Duhaime:

Duhaime, a Sudbury native who is fluent in English, French and Arabic, was appointed as the charge d’affaires of Canada’s newly created diplomatic mission in Iraq on Monday.
The new one-woman semi-ambassadorial post -- the Canadian embassy in Jordan will continue to work full-time to restore diplomatic relations in Iraq -- is meant to expand Canada’s engagement with the country at a time of economic prosperity.

I don't care about (or know) Stephanie Duhaime's politics.  I do care about the fact that Iraqi officials are forced to interact with women in power and that the Iraqi people see this.  Iraqi women have great strength and are fighting their way back to equality.  The very least foreign countries can do is to make clear that women are forces within government. 

That was too much for the sexist in the White House.  US President Barack Obama can't be bothered with symbolism -- even though his own electoral victory was in large part due to symbolism.  Before he was sworn in, he was asked to appoint a woman to be the US Ambassador to Iraq.  He and his team chose to ignore that request.

In addition, Barack found four people he could support as US Ambassador to Iraq -- all were men.  He first nominated the idiot Chris Hill, then he nominated James Jeffrey, then he nominated Brett McGurk and then he nominated R. Stephen Beecroft.

Hill, Jeffrey and Beecroft were all confirmed.  No, three different Ambassadors to Iraq in one term does not make for stability and that's another criticism of the lack of consistency the US government has provided in dealings with Iraq.  But Brett McGurk went under for a reason.

He slept with Gina Chon when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House.  He and Chon were both married to other people.  Some idiots in the US want to act like that doesn't matter.  It matters and we'll get to it.  Chon was a reporter, he was working for the US government.  Chon allowed him to vet her copy (he read it before her editors did) and that's so wrong.  It's also equally true, you're not supposed to sleep with your sources.  That is a major ethical lapse.  Because he was Barack's nominee when all this came out, Columbia 'Journalism' 'Review' and others wanted to dismiss this.

You had a government employee sleeping with a reporter covering the government's actions in Iraq and CJR wants to pretend it's a private matter?  There is whoring and then there is whoring.  They made themselves a joke (and we did the parody at Third).

Whores abound in the US and they like to pretend that Republicans killed Brett's nomination.  No, his penis killed his nomination.  Republicans couldn't block Hagel.  The White House was approached by three Democratic senators stating that they couldn't vote for McGurk.  That's why McGurk pulled his nomination.  The three senators were Democrats and they also had brains. 

I don't give a damn who sleeps with whom in the US.  I don't care.  I have no idea who's cheating, who's faithful, it really doesn't matter to me.  In the US.

Iraq isn't the US.  Iraq has been destroyed by the US.  You cannot send Brett McGurk back to Iraq and without him taking his baggage.  When the affair emerged last year, it didn't matter in the Iraqi press that Gina and Brett were married to each other now.  The scandal and his texts about "blue balls" were all the rage in Iraq -- in a way that even Rhianna's semi-nude outfits aren't (and every one of those outfits get tons of attention).

In Iraq, Brett McGurk is known now as a man who sleeps with married women.  Iraqi women could not have met with him if he'd been made Ambassador.  They would have been risking their own safety.

If it's not clear to you, you need to follow closely this excerpt from Jonathan Hiles (Harvard Record) report on a panel about the Iraq War:

Apart from damaging the environment, the war has also given rise to civil disorder and religious extremism, leading to great victimization of women. Ms. [Yanar] Mohammend [of Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq] said that many women and girls were trafficked abroad during the war’s first years and that growing numbers are now being been sold to "entertainment houses" frequented by government officials in Iraq. A large portion of victims are orphans of the war, and 65 percent are 17 years old or younger, she said.
The "honor killing" of women suspected of "immoral" conduct has also increased. OWFI estimates that at least 1,000 Iraqi women die annually in the "honor killings," which are often committed by family members. In 2010 an employee of the Baghdad morgue told OWFI that it receives 300 to 500 women each year whose bodies have the "signature" marks of an honor killing, "which could be like a hand chopped off."
Section 409 of the criminal code, written after the U.S. invasion, sets a three-year sentencing cap for a man who "surprises his wife or one of his female dependents…in a state of adultery…and kills her." According to Ms. Mohammed, the Iraqi government rarely enforces even this punishment. Iraq's Constitution, finalized in 2005, has expanded the role of Sharia Law, which allows polygamy and arranged marriages for minors, among other things. Ms. Mohammend claimed that the previous legal system involved a "more humane" combination of secular and religious law, while Iraq’s new Constitution "feels like it was written in the Middle Ages."
Ms. Mohammed argued that U.S. authorities are partly responsible, since they have supported religious zealots in order to lend an Islamic fa├žade to neo-liberal economic reforms. "Policies against the working class, the new labor code that’s being written, the suppression that's going on against the labor demonstrations…it all goes hand in hand, it's not just the women."
Religious extremists outside of government have persecuted gay teenagers, murdering dozens in Baghdad alone. According to Ms. Mohammed, U.S. authorities, in conjunction with the Iraqi government, have chosen to obscure the true nature of the problem by referring to gay killings as "emo killings." The "emo" culture is generally associated with teen alienation, fashion and punk music. "You ask any Iraqi what's the meaning of emo, nobody knows."


Can you start to get it now?  The desire of the press to play stupid -- scary thought: It's not pretending to be stupid, it actually is that stupid -- and to whore for a president is appalling.  Sending Brett McGurk into Iraq as the US Ambassador to Iraq would mean Iraqi women were stripped from the political process or they were at risk of 'honor' killings because they associated with a man who came to Iraq earlier and slept with a married woman.  Americans are not held in high regard (for good reason) in Iraq as it is.  You bring in Mr. Can't Keep It In His Pants and you're kicking women out of the process because it is not safe for them to have been to have met with him.

And that's what the three Democratic senator based their object to McGurk on.

He withdrew his nomination.

That should have been the end of it.

But alas and alack, look who's back in Iraq.

The filth is back in Iraq.  Kitabat reports that Brett McGurk, a US State Dept advisor, dined with journalists at the American Embassy in Baghdad and declared that a majority government was fine and dandy.  We'll come back to that outrageous shift in policy in a moment.  We're going to stay focused on women.

Let's put a curse on Brett right now:  If even one woman is 'honor' killed because she interacted with Brett McGurk, may he be grabbed by Iraqis who cut off his cock and shove it down his throat.  He damn well knows the baggage he carries.  May he be cursed from the four corners of the earth.  While I don't myself practice witchcraft, I do have Pagan and Wiccan friends (hello, upstate New York) who do and, yes, they will work the spellcraft.  And hopefully it will take.  Because no Iraq woman should die due to Brett McGurk being unable to keep it in his pants or because Barack Obama cares so damn little about Iraqi women.

Not that he cares a great deal about Iraqi men or children either.

Where Barack Obama flips the middle finger to the Iraqi people.  Let's go back to Kitabat reports that Brett McGurk, a US State Dept advisor, dined with journalists at the American Embassy in Baghdad and declared that a majority government was fine and dandy. We mentioned The Erbil Agreement earlier.  It's amazingly important and so rarely reported on by the western press which appears to have mistaken a major in whoring for one in journalism.

In March 2010, Iraq held parliamentary elections.  They have a parliamentary government and the person with the most members in their 'Congress' is named prime minister-designate and given 30 days to form a cabinet.  Not a partial cabinet.  A full cabinet.  You do that in 30 days or someone else named prime minister-designate.

The winner of the 2010 elections?  Iraqiya headed by Ayad Allawi.  It's a mixed political slate attempting to include of all Iraq.  Iraqiya offers and embraces a national 'we are all Iraqis' identity.  It is also the political slate that has female members of Parliament and not tokens.  (Al-Fadhila's Susan Sa'ad is not a MP I would want to represent me but she's also not a token.  One of the few non-Iraqiya female members who can make that claim.)  In the 2009 provincial elections a thread in those results was that it appeared Iraqis were moving away from a (US-imposed) Sunni-Shi'ite split and going for a national identity.  This was confirmed in the 2010 results when Nouri's State of Law was defeated by the new Iraqiya coalition (whose members were killed in the lead up to the election, whose members were barred from running by the Justice and Accountability Commission). 

Nouri stomped his feet and demanded a recount.  The results were the same.

It was now time for Nouri to step down and for a new prime minister to emerge via the process outlined in the Constitution.

But Nouri refused to allow that to happen.  It's as though, in January 2009, Bully boy Bush announced he wasn't leaving the White House and Barack Obama wasn't going to be named president.

Nouri kept the country of Iraq in an eight-month political stalemate while he refused to step down as prime minister.  He was only able to do that with the backing of the governments of Iran and the United States.  Nouri is a White House puppet.  He was first appointed by the Bush White House when they didn't want Ibrahim al-Jaafari to become prime minister in 2006.  By 2010, Nouri's secret prisons, torture cells, corruption and much more were well known and documented.  While Barack and others in the White House love to sneer at the Iranian government's alleged embrace of torture, their hands are just as dirty.

And the Iraqi people had gone to the polls.  They had expressed their wishes and the votes were counted and then recounted.  And yet the US that supposedly wanted to introduce 'democracy' to Iraq immediately pissed on democracy, pissed on the voters, pissed on the Iraqi Constitution.

During the eight month political stalemate, US officials repeatedly pressured the political blocs to let Nouri have a second term.  No surprise, most said no and said no repeatedly.  After it hit the eight month mark, US officials began telling the political leaders that Nouri was willing to go another eight months, that nothing would ever get done in Iraq.  So why not be the adult in the room, give Nouri a second term as prime minister and, in exchange, we'll put your concerns on paper in a legally binding contract that Nouri will have to follow. 

Their concerns?  One example.  Kirkuk is oil rich.  Because it's oil rich, it's disputed.  The semi-autonomous KRG in the north claims it and the Nouri's Baghdad-based government claims it.  How do you solve who gets it?  Well Iraq wrote and passed a Constitution in 2005.  Article 140 explained how this would be addressed: A census and a referendum.  Nouri took an oath in 2006 to obey the Constitution.  He never implemented Article 140.  Before you say, "Maybe he was busy," the Constitution mandates that Article 140 be instituted no later than December 2007.  Nouri ignored the Constitution.

It is thought that a vore would see Kirkuk go to the KRG.  So Nouri's delayed the vote, repeatedly ignoring the Constitution.

Okay, say US officials, we'll put it in writing, it'll be a binding contract and Nouri will have to honor it.  [He wasn't honoring the Iraqi Constitution but he was going to honor a contract?]  US officials did this with the leader of each political bloc to get them to agree that Nouri would get a second term.  This is the US-brokered Erbil Agreement.

It is extra-constitutional because it goes around the Constitution which clearly defines how someone becomes prime minister.  For example, Nouri never formed a full cabinet.  Back in July, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support."  Those positions were supposed to have been filled before the end of December 2010.  They were not.  They are still not filled.  Nouri refused to fill them because once the Iraqi Parliament confirms a nominee, that nominee is autonomous.  Nouri can't fire them, only the Parliament can.  (Which isn't easy.  Nouri's gotten Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi convicted of 'terrorism' and sentenced to death with the Baghdad courts he controls but he can't get Parliament to strip Tareq of his title.)

Because he was governed by The Erbil Agreement and not the Constitution, he didn't have to meet any requirements.  And he trashed The Erbil Agreement.  Immediately.  A census was supposed to take place in Kirkuk the first week of December 2010.  Nouri called it off, said it was postponed.  It's never been brought up again.  He was supposed to appoint Ayad Allawi to head an independent national security agency.  Immediately after President Jalal Talabani named Nouri prime minister-designate, Nouri told Parliament that Allawi's position would have to wait.  It's 'waited' ever since.

The US image in Iraq wasn't good before then.  For obvious reasons (an illegal war that destroyed Iraq).  Barack Obama's election meant that Iraqis thought a real change might be coming.  They were hopeful.  They no longer are.  They have seen through Barack Obama and his 'withdrawal' which is actually more counter-terrorism US troops in Iraq today than at the start of 2012.  (Not surprising because he told the New York Times he'd do that when he was first running for the presidency.) But what it mainly did was send the message to Iraqi political leaders that the US can't be trusted.  For example, there is so much damage in the trust that did exist among Kurdish leaders.  They now realize they will be screwed over every time.  It didn't have to be this way.

Barack could have supported the will of the Iraqi people, the votes, the attempt at democracy.  He refused to do so.  Let's again note John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast):



Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments [in Iraq]. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq’s first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."


What The Erbil-Agreement put forward was a power-sharing government.  This week, Brett McGurk announced that the US government now supports a majority-government.  that's what Nouri has been insisting on all along.  He couldn't accomplish that at the ballot box -- hell, he couldn't even win a term as prime minister at the ballot box -- but now the US is backing his power grab.  This is major news and will have huge implications on the way the Iraqi people see the US.

Nouri went to Karbala today.  Speaking alongside his political cronies, Nouri refused to take off his sunglasses.  None of the over 16 people standing beside him required sunglasses but Nouri had to hide his eyes.  He has to hide a lot.  Alsumaria reports that he accused other political parties and slates of being terrorists. And what is a reach around to Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq, he declared that some political parties work to keep smaller ones from success.  (al-Mutlaq is currently the leader of the National Dialogue Front which is a part of Iraqiya.  al-Mutlaq and Nouri have gotten very tight as al-Mutlaq's leadership has fallen into question.)  He also pushed his desire for majority government -- again, something the voters did not sign off on -- and declared it was the only way to end the "political impasse." Kitabat notes that he declared this is what has kept Iraq from moving forward.  Parliamentary elections are currently supposed to take place in March of 2014.  Nouri called for early elections and said the 2010 elections were marred by vote rigging.  This is the piece of crap that the United States government has backed -- under Bush, under Barack.  There's not a damn bit of difference between Bush and Barack except Barack can speak properly and Bully Boy Bush knew how to come off human (and not like the first place winner in a Leonard Nimoy competition).


Alsumaria reports that Brett McGurk has announced he will be entering discussions with various political leaders on how to solve the political crisis.  Well it's "crises" -- not crisis.  And the roots go back to the failure of Nouri to honor The Erbil Agreement and the failure of the US to keep their promise that they would ensure The Erbil Agreement would be honored.  It's 2013.  It's a little damn late, even if the US was trying to strong arm Nouri, for the 2010 contract to be honored (because come 2014, new parliamentary elections will be held).  But why would any Iraqi politician expect either Nouri or the US government to be honest at this point?  With their track record of lying over and over, why should Nouri or the US government be trusted?

Chain smoking cigarettes
Enemies across the table
Wonderin' if I can ever trust anyone again

-- "Darkness 'Til Dawn," written by Jacob Brackman and Carly Simon, first appears on Carly's Another Passenger

Wonderin' if I can ever trust anyone again
Kitabat reports protesters in Kirkuk and Hawija today called out the "traitors" -- Cabinet ministers who returned to the Cabinet meetings -- as usual the list of the denounced included Saleh al-Mutlaq.  The people do not feel the government is representing them.  NINA reports that Hayde al-Mulla has declared today that Iraqiya wants the protesters' demands to be met before they return to Cabinet sessions.  NINA notes, "Thousands demonstrated in the protest squares in Ramadi and Falluja, on the international highway connecting Iraq with Syria and Jordan, carrying banners criticizing the Government for having double standards and demanding it put a stop to the executions and random arrests as well as not to discriminate between citizens."  Organizer Mohammed al-Dulaimi declared that Nouri's government refuses to listen to the demands of the people but instead to respond with "executions and random arrests."

Today they also protested in Jalawlaa, Baiji, Samarra, Tikirt, and Baquba.  They protested despite attempts to stop them. National Iraqi News Agency notes, "Security forces closed off all roads leading to the sit-in yard north of Ramadi before noon today."  Despite this, NINA notes that "thousands of people flocked to the main sit-in squares north of Ramadi and eastern Falluja."  Iraqi Spring MC reports that the Baghdad mosque was raided and one was raided in Nineveh ProvinceArbitrary arrests of activists are taking place in Diyala Province and Nouri's forces disrupted morning prayers in Muqdadiya.  In Samarra, NINA reports, Sheikh Hussein Ghazi declared that Iraq ranked "first in the world in human rights violations and corruption and criminality against the Iraqi people."  And the outlet notes that Sheikh Yunis al-Hamdani in Falluja observed that Nouri bears "responsibility for assassinations and executions against Sunnis" and called on the Kurds to join in the cry to stop the mass executions.  Iraqi Spring MC reports that the protesters in Falluja asked that the "BBC Make the Unmissable, Unmissable!!"  But the BBC didn't rush to provide coverage.




On the topic of violence,  National Iraqi News Agency notes that a Baquba bombing has left a number of people injured, a Hilla roadside bombing has claimed 5 lives and left two more people injured,  an armed attack outside Kirkuk left three Sahwa injured, an armed attack to the north of Tikrit left 2 Sahwa dead and one injured, a Hilla car bombing claimed 2 lives and left two more injured, and a Tikrit sticky bombing claimed 1 life.  All Iraq News adds that seven people were injured in the Baquba bombing, a Mahawil bombing claimed 3 lives and left seven more people injured, and, dropping back to last night, a farmer and his son were kidnapped from their Samarra farmQassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) notes that a Baghdad bombing (Abu Ghraib) claimed the lives of 3 Iraqi soldiers. Alsumaria notes 1 corpse was discovered in Mosul.  In addition, AFP's Prashant Rao Tweets:


. security message - 'Rocket casing discovered near the US consulate in Arbil' in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan



We noted the excavations yesterday.  Arwa Damon has a strong story at CNN on the topic


Misery
Now you tell me
Who you gonna get to do the dirty work
When all the slaves are free?

-- "Passion Play," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on Joni's Night Ride Home

When all the slaves are free.  In the US, Lynne Stewart is a political prisoner, tossed in prison not for breaking a law but for breaking an agreement.  Sentenced and then re-sentenced to even more time.  She's over 70, she's a grandmother and her cancer has returned.  If Barack had any compassion, he would move to release her immediately.  She's an attorney who used her degree to try to defend people, not to try to get rich.  She was the people's attorney and now she remains behind bars, the victim of Bully Boy Bush and Barack Obama.  There is a petition calling for a compassionate release of Lynne due to her health.  Ralph Poynter, her husband, notes:

5,600 and counting! Individuals are reaching out to their friends, family and colleagues. Organizations are reaching out to their members. People throughout the world are joining together in the effort to free Lynne Stewart.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu sent this Cri de Coeur: “It is devastating, totally unbelievable. Is this in a democracy, the only superpower? I am sad. I will sign. Praying God’s blessings on yr efforts.”
+Desmond Tutu
Pete Seeger declared: “Lynn Stewart should be outa jail!” on a postcard signed “old Pete Seeger” accompanied by a drawing of his banjo.
Your outpouring of support has lifted Lynne’s spirits as she undergoes the ravaging effects of chemotherapy. On March 20, she sent this message to each and every one of you from her seven-person cell in the Federal Medical Center, Carswell, Texas:
“I want you, individually, to know how gratifying and happy it makes me to have your support. It is uplifting, to say the least, and after a lifetime of organizing it proves once again that the People can rise.
“The acknowledgement of the life-political, and solutions brought about by group unity and support, is important to all of us. Equally, so is the courage to sign on to a demand for a person whom the Government has branded with the ‘T’ word — Terrorist. Understanding that the attack on me is a subterfuge for an attack on all lawyers who advocate without fear of Government displeasure, with intellectual honesty guided by their knowledge and their client’s desire for his or her case, I hope our effort can be a crack in the American bastion. Thank you.” — Lynne
Lynne Stewart devoted over 30 years of her life to helping others as a criminal defense lawyer. She defended the poor, the disadvantaged and those targeted by the police and the State. Such had been her reputation as a fearless lawyer, ready to challenge those in power, that judges assigned her routinely to act for defendants whom no attorney was willing to represent.
Now Lynne Stewart needs our urgent help or she may die in prison. Our determination can compel the Bureau of Prisons to file the motion for compassionate release that will free Lynne Stewart.
Check out the Justice for Lynne Stewart website www.lynnestewart.org to view the signatories (up to 03/31/13), the postcard from Pete Seeger, Archbishop Tutu’s message as well as Lynne Stewart’s letter back to him, and much more.
Remind your friends to sign the petition and to disseminate it to others. Ask each person to get five people to sign, and each of those five to ask five people of their own. In five stages, you will have reached another 3,000 people!
Ralph Poynter





iraq












the associated press
qassim abdul-zahra
arwa damon

Thursday, April 04, 2013

45 years ago today . . .

Thursday.  Also, sadly, the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Ajamu Baraka (CounterPunch) writes about what happened:


April 4th is an anniversary that I suspect many people in the U.S., including those in government, would prefer that people ignored. On that date 45 years ago, James Earl Ray, supposedly acting alone, murdered Martin Luther King Jr. on a balcony of the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee — silencing one of the great oppositional voices in U.S. politics.
Unlike the celebrations organized around the birthday of Dr. King, with which the U.S. government severs Dr. King from the black movement for social justice that produced him and transforms his oppositional stances into a de-radicalized, liberal, integrationist dream narrative, the anniversary of the murder of Dr. King creates a challenge for the government and its attempt to manage the memory and meaning of Dr. King. The assassination of Dr. King raises uncomfortable questions — not only due to the evidence that his murder was a “hit” carried out by elements of the U.S. government, but also because of what Dr. King was saying before he was killed about issues like poverty and U.S. militarism .
The current purveyors of U.S. violence will find attention to Dr. King’s anti-war and peace position most unwelcome, especially with a black president that has been able to accomplish what U.S. elites could have only dreamed of over the last few decades – the normalization of war-making as a legitimate tool to advance the geo-political interests of the U.S. and its’ colonial allies. So reminding people of Dr. King’s opposition to U.S. warmongering and the collaboration of liberals in that warmongering then and now, produces a strange convergence of political forces from both ends of the narrow U.S. political spectrum that have an interest in suppressing King’s anti-war positions.



It's really true, they don't want you to know about MLK.  They want you to know "I Have A Dream" which is an important moment but a 'past' one in that the argument is that the Civil Rights Movement took care of all of that (of course it didn't).  They do not want you to know about what he spoke out against, that heroes can speak out and that one did.

Knowing that is the first step in grabbing your power and owning it.

And people owning their own power is the thing that scares the government the most.

That's the ultimate lesson here.

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

 
Thursday, April 4, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, a dig brings attention to 4,000 years prior,  Iraqiya continues to be targeted, Nouri faces more criticism, even a Nouri supporter admits things aren't the good, Joan Wile stands up against The Drone War, Cindy Sheehan peddles for peace and more.


Phys.org reports
on finds a team of archaeologists from the University of Manchester are making in Iraq -- specifically in historical Ur. The team is lead by Dr. Jane Moon and Professor Stuart Campbell.  They began with satellite imagery before going to Ur where they've found a "complex at about 80 metres square -- roughly the size of a football pitch.  They believe the building goes back 4,000 years, going back to early Sumer and was "connected to the administration of Ur."   Ancient Digger explains:

Tell Khaiber, as the site is called, is playing host to one of the first major archaeological projects with extensive participation by foreign scientists since the hiatus caused by the political situation and hostilities of the Iraqi war. Consisting of an international mix of six British archaeologists representing four UK institutions and four Iraqi archaeologists from the State Board for Antiquities and Heritage of Iraq, the team expects to uncover not just monumental buildings, but evidence that may shed new light on the environment and lifeways of the people who inhabited the site.


Archaeology Magazine adds, "The area has been closed to foreign scholars since the 1950s, when a military air base was constructed nearby."  Noted Iraqi archaeologist Donny George passed away March 11, 2011.  For many around the world, with Iraq either closed off due to Saddam Hussein or due to violence, George was the ambassador for the early historical civilization.  May 26, 2005, he was a guest on Neal Conan's Talk of the Nation (NPR) and discussed Iraq's historical importance.  Excerpt.


 
CONAN: Give us an example, if you would. Is there a piece that is of particular significance that--or at least significance to you?
 
Mr. GEORGE: Well, at the beginning, you see, we lost some very, very important masterpieces, like the Warka vase, like the mask of the lady from Warka, but these came back. But now one of the most important pieces that is still missing is the headless statue, half-natural-size, of the Sumerian King Natum(ph), which--we still don't have it. And, by the way, this piece is inscribed on the back shoulder, and it could be one of the rare examples, the first examples, of this mentioning the word 'king' in the history of mankind. So this is -- I mean, every single piece has its own significance.
 
CONAN: We're talking with Donny George, director of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. You mentioned Sumer; this was an early, maybe the earliest, human civilization...
 
Mr. GEORGE: That's right.
 
CONAN: ...speaking a language that appears to have no relation to any language anywhere else.
 
Mr. GEORGE: That's right. Yeah.
 
CONAN: This is a great mystery and--but these were the people who first invented the hydrographic civilization that we emerged from.
 
Mr. GEORGE: That's right. I mean, modern scholars believe that the Sumerians are the descendants of the first people coming to Mesopotamia. Those were the people coming from the Neolithic period. Those were the people who started the villages. Those were the people who actually, with the villages, started the animal domestication and agriculture and a lot of -- villages planning and, you know -- but then, in about 4,500 BC, we learn that these are Sumerians. We don't have the writing then, but in about 3,200 BC we started having the writing, the inscription that they themselves invented at the beginning. It was a kind of pictographic. And, you see, this is the greatness of the people: Out of nothing, they invent something, something very important, something that can exchange ideas and can accumulate ideas between generations and generations. That was the writing. Now we have it here.

Last month, Ur was the topic of the geo quiz on PRI's The World.  (What is the ancient capital of Mesopotamia?  Ur. Following the quiz, Marco Werman speaks with anthropologist Elizabeth Stone about Ur.)  AP reports of the newly discovered  complex that it would have existed "around the time Abraham would have lived there before leaving for Canaan, according to the Bible."  Last week, Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) spoke with Dr. Jane Moon about the dig:

The last major excavation at Ur was performed by a British-American team led by Sir Charles Leonard Woolley in the 1920s and the 1930s. After the 1950s revolution, which toppled Iraq’s monarchy, a nearby military air base put the area off limits to foreign archaeologists for the next half century.
“What Wooley found were these tremendous monumental buildings, but it’s difficult to tell a coherent story about them because they were restored again and again and again, and what you see is neo-Babylonian, 7th century BC – very much later,” says Moon. “He wasn’t able to see what they were really used for and that’s where I’m hoping our modern methods might be able to say something.”
At Ur, Wooley also discovered a spectacular treasure trove that rivals King Tut’s tomb. At least 16 members of royalty were buried at Ur with elaborate gold jewelry, including a queen’s headdress made of gold leaves and studded with lapis lazuli. Other objects included a gold and lapis lyre, one of the first known musical instruments.
In the 1930s, the treasures were split between the British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania, which funded Wooley’s work, and the newly created Iraq museum.
Moon says it’s impossible to tell whether the new site might contain similar finds.
“Ultimately we’re not looking for objects we’re looking for information.… I guess it’s always a possibility. In archaeology you can always be surprised.”

For more on Wooley's historic dig, you can refer to the American Journal of Archaeology (see PDF link on the page for the article by Naomi F. Miller).  Moon's team is one of six foreign teams recently authorized to do excavations.

From Iraq's glorious past to its murky present.  Violence is increasing in Iraq, Iraq Body Count counted 407 violent deaths in Iraq last month.  Today, for example,  Alsumaria reports that a suicide bomber in Mosul has left eight Iraqi soldiers injured.  All Iraq News adds the suicide bomber was in a car.  In addition, All Iraq News notes, "A missile hit a headquarter of an Iraqi Army regiment in al-Hanka village of Shurqat district of northern Salah-il-Din province on Thursday." The National Iraqi News Agency notes that a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left two more injured, and a Mosul shooting left two police officers injured, a Kirkuk roadside bombing left a police officer woundedTang Danlu (Xinhua) reports, "In a separate incident, gunmen using silenced weapons shot dead a civilian in the town of Tarmiyah, some 40 km north of Baghdad, a local police source anonymously told Xinhua."   Alsumaria notes 1 guard was killed in Abu Ghraib.


As noted in Tuesday's snapshot, Monday evening saw  Dar Addustour, Al-Parliament, Al-Mustaqbal and Al-Nas  attacked in Baghdad, their employees threatened (five people stabbed, more left with bruises and fractures), offices destroyed and cars set on fire (a fifth Baghdad newspaper, Al Mada, was threatened but not attacked).  Al Mada notes that the National Union of Iraq Journalists have condemned the attacks.  All Iraq News adds that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi denounced the attacks, "Nujaifi assured that targeting the journalists is a dangerous issue and against the dialogue and democracy in Iraq.  He stressed that the repetition of such attacks is a justification for the ignorant of the performance of the press in Iraq."


All Iraq News reports that the National Dialogue Front's Haider al-Mulla has called out the security situation, "The terrorist attacks targeting Iraqis are going on and the security forces are dilatory in their performances so Maliki has to attend to the parliament to discuss the reasons behind the security deterioration to solve them by adopting security policies able to confront terrorism."

The security situation isn't good for candidates -- not ones who are rivals of Nouri al-Maliki.  With elections scheduled for April 20th (provincial elections in 12 of Iraq's 18 provinces),  Iraqiya is yet again targeted with death.  This happened in the March 2010 elections as well where Iraqiya candidates were repeatedly killed in the lead up to the election.  At least 12 candidates have been killed this campaign season, many from Iraqiya.  All Iraq News quotes Iraqiya MP Talal al-Zubayi stating, "The organized attacks for the candidates of the IS [Iraqiya Slate] are a part of the attempts of targeting [Iraqiya head Ayad] Allawi due to his Arabic, regional and international position."   Al Mada reports on the assassination of attorney Salah al-Obeidi who was a member of Iraqiya seeking election this month.  The 37-year-old male was one of 12 Sunni candidates killed this election cycle and 7 of the 12 were from Iraqiya.  Iraqiya beat Nouri's State of Law in the 2010 elections.  NINA notes that Moqtada al-Sadr today called for all Iraqis to participate in the elections while noting reasons for them to be less than eager after elections that appeared to produce little results.  He is quoted stating, "The reluctance in elections and no vote would be an injustice for Iraq and Iraqis, because it would be a prelude for muggers and secularists to take power in the councils and parliament."


Meanwhile Alsumaria notes that Martin Kobler is declaring all political blocs are responsible for the ongoing protests.   Kobler is the Special Envoy to Iraq of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.  Alsumaria also notes that Nouri's Operation Tigris Command has surrounded ten villages in Kirkuk and are targeting protesters involved in the sit-ins.   Al Mada notes Anbar protesters are pessimistic that any demands will be met.  And that probably has to do with the fact that the protests have now gone on for over 100 days and Nouri refuses to offer any real changes.

Deutsche Welle spoke with Nineveh Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi about the protests. Excerpt.

DW:You are Niniveh's most senior representative but you have openly supported the ongoing demonstrations in Mosul and even joined them several times over the last three months. Isn't that counterproductive?

Atheel al Nujaifi: Our local people are demanding their rights in a peaceful way. They want basic infrastructures such as water, electricity, and also employment; they are denouncing the abuses and also asking to play an active role in Iraq's government. There's a blatant lack of balance in power between Iraq's different communities after the invasion in 2003. Today, Iraq's Sunnis are subjected to systematic marginalization under the Shiite power in Baghdad.


President Nouri al-Maliki has denounced the "foreign agendas" behind the demonstrations in the country's Sunni provinces.


It's difficult to believe such an accusation when hundreds of thousands of people are peacefully demonstrating in the streets.


The peaceful protesters have been targeted by Nouri.  They are arrested, they are photographed, in Falluja and Mosul they are even killed by his forces in public, in front of tons of witnesses.  Karlos Zurutuza (IPS) reports on what the protesters have to face to fight for a free Iraq:


Armoured vehicles and thousands of soldiers masked in black balaclavas guard the entrance to the city of Mosul, 350 kilometres northwest of Baghdad. Arriving here gives one the unmistakable feeling of entering a territory that is still under occupation – only this time, the Iraqi Federal soldiers, not the U.S. military, play the role of the occupying army, locals tell IPS.
Once a key trading post on the fabled Silk Road, Iraq’s second largest city was known for centuries for its high quality marble, and for having revolutionised 18th century Parisian fashion through the supply of its most emblematic product: muslin.
But the beginning of the 21st century brought dramatic changes to this city on the banks of the Tigris River. Trapped in the deadly crossfire between foreign Islamists, local insurgents and Western occupiers for a decade, the capital of the Nineveh region is now the scene of some of the largest anti-government demonstrations Iraq has seen since 2003.
Since last December, speeches and prayers have been strung between large communal meals and public tea rituals in Ahrar Square, in downtown Mosul. The same picture is also recurrent in Anbar and Salahadin, regions of Iraq where Sunni Arabs are in the majority, and where protests reach their peak every Friday.
“The federal police seal the bridges over the Tigris and thoroughly check those individuals that make it in to the square,” Ghanem Alabed, coordinator of the protests in Mosul, told IPS.
“They confiscate tents, blankets, mats … We have to pray on the (hard) ground because even our small prayer rugs are taken away. They try their best to (uproot) the camp but we still manage to sleep in the square every night.”
Being one of the most visible faces of the protests, Alabed has received both threats and bribes from Baghdad. He says he’s not the only one.
“Can you see those men on the roof of that house?” he asks, pointing towards a nearby building. “Those are cops and they spend the day taking pictures of the protesters to identify them afterwards.”


And it's not just the protesters calling Nouri out, Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports Ayatollah Bashir al-Nujaifi has spoken out publicly, calling Nouri out for the crises (plural) Iraq is facing, saying that it is due to poor management.  He noted all the billions Iraq brings in from oil and the fact that electricity is still not consistent and that public services continue to deteriorate.  Even Nouri's ally Ammar al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq, sees some problems.  All Iraq News quotes him admitting today, "There is depression and disappointment in the new Iraq since not all dreams have come true."

Northern Iraq is the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government.  Abdel Hamid Zebari (Al-Monitor) reports on the book fair taking place there:


The 2013 Erbil International Book Fair, organized by the publishing house Al-Mada for Media, Culture and Arts, showcases more than a million books in their original languages. Erbil, the largest city in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, is hosting the fair's eighth gathering, which opened April 2, in cooperation with the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Ministry of Culture and Youth.
The organizers this year deliberately chose not to feature books promoting violence or sectarianism. Al-Mada general manager Ghada al-Amili said in a statement to Al-Monitor, “There was a prior agreement between the Ministry of Culture and Al-Mada to limit extremist Islamic publishing houses. We imposed strict regulations and censorship on books that incite violence and sectarianism, and we succeeded in deterring the participation of these publishing houses, and for that we apologize to them.”
She added, “This year, more than 1.5 million original books were featured in the fair. They varied -- from scientific to philosophical, translated and biographical and all other types -- in a bid to meet the needs of buyers. We also provided extensive facilities to all participants to ensure a high level of participation in the upcoming years.”
Amili said, further, “More than 37 publishing houses from across 33 countries took part in this year’s fair.” Some Arab countries -- Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia -- took part for the first time. Space for this year's event exceeded 10,000 cubic meters.

Iraq shares borders with many countries.  To the north it's Turkey, then Iran to the east, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan and Syria to the west.  Let's start with Syria,  Al Mada notes that Nouri has asked the US government for 'help' on the border Iraq shares with Syria.  John Glaser (Antiwar.com) wonders if this is how the US government opens another front in The Drone War?  Carlo Munoz (The Hill) adds, "If approved, the drone strikes would be a significant escalation of American involvement in the war between Syrian rebels and embattled president Bashar Assad.  The Pentagon deployed a battery of Patriot anti-missile systems along the Turkey-Syria border earlier this year, but those weapons are strictly designed as a defensive measure against any cross-border violence from Syria.  The drone strikes, however, would be the first real offensive use of American military firepower against either side involved in the Syrian conflict."   Micah Zenko (Council on Foreign Relations) offers:

It is a positive sign that President Obama has (apparently) decided not to authorize drone strikes in Iraq, and that his administration insisted on a formal request from Baghdad before considering such a significant policy change. Intervening on behalf of another country to protect its borders is not something that the United States should rush into, even if the targeted individuals are suspected of belonging to a State Department-designated terrorist organization.
In March, the Wall Street Journal reported that the CIA had increased its covert training and support efforts to enhance Iraq’s Counterterrorism Service forces that are focused on AQI or al-Nusrah militants that threaten western Iraq. A senior Obama administration official stated: “This relationship is focused on supporting the Iraqis to deal with terrorist threats within their borders, and not about ramping up unilateral operations.” Training and advising another state’s security forces is a normal component of military to military cooperation, but conducting kinetic operations for them could quickly draw the United States into creating additional enemies out of what are domestic and regionally-focused terrorist groups. The CIA already serves as the counterterrorism air force of Yemen, and, occasionally, Pakistan. It should not further expand this chore to Iraq.
President Obama should also ask himself if the United States wants to open up a fifth front in its campaign of non-battlefield targeted killings, outside of Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and The Philippines.


Yesterday evening in NYC, Joan Wile, the author of Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace and one of the Raging Grannies, joined others to protest The Drone War:

Joan Wile:  We must stop preying on other nations with these immoral lethal weapons.  The war against terrorism cannot be justification for using killer drones that often miss their targets and result in the deaths of children and other innocents.  It is unthinkable that our nation, the so-called beacon of democracy, orders an anonymous person sitting in front of a screen to press a button that launches death and destruction to people thousands of miles away.  We are acting as accuser, prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner. Where is due process?


Courtney Brooks (RFERL) reports the protest drew over 50 participants and that:


Joan Wile, the 81-year-old founder of Grandmothers Against the War, had retired from activism last year to pursue her love of piano. But she told RFE/RL that she was spurred back into action and organized the April 3 rally out of a sense of horror at the effects that U.S. drone strikes are having in countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"I just found the whole thing so immoral," Wile says. "In this country, you're presumed innocent until you're found guilty. And here we were acting as judge, as jury, and executioner, without a trial."



Over 50 participants is very good when you consider that they pulled together the protest in basically 24 hours.


Let's move over to Turkey.   Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described the PKK in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk."   The issue of Turkey and the PKK was a topic Wednesday night on KPFA's Voices of The Middle East and Africa.  (Here to stream the episode, you have until April 17th, then it's gone  -- show airs every Wednesday night at 7:00 pm PST).



Malihe Razazan:  In his new year message on March 21st, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan, declared a cease-fire and called on armed militants to withdraw from Turkish territory.  He said, "Today we are waking up to a new Middle East, a new Turkey and a new future."  Ocalan's message was warmly welcomed by the million-strong crowd gathered in the city of Diyarbakir.  The next day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to apologize for "operational errors" that led to loss of life during a 2010 raid by Israeli soldiers on the Mavi Marmara ship.  Nine activists who were trying to attract the world's attention to the Israeli blockade on Gaza were killed in that incident.  Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accepted the apology and pronounced his intention to normalize relations with Israel.  Has Turkey been able to find an answer to the Kurdish question after nearly three decades of armed conflict between the Kurdistan Workers Party and the Turkish state?


They spoke with UC Berkeley Associate Professor of Sociology Cihan Tugal about the events taking place.


Cihan Tugal: This is a sea change in Turkish politics, no question about it.  And it's a sea change on multiple levels. First of all, this is the first time when we can seriously believe that there might be a long lasting peace even though this is still not a given fact. So the steps taken seem to be more serious when compared to the end of the 2000s.  That is the first level.  But the second level -- the possibility of peace, that's big.  But the second thing is the de facto recognition of the Kurdish forces, of the Kurdish political movement by the Turkish state, beyond the government, by the Turkish state.  I'm still saying "de facto recognition" because what's happening is that the Prime Minister is still using the old vocabulary about the Kurdish movement.  He's calling them "terrorists."  He is still speaking as if they are not equal partners in peace.  But the reality on the ground is that, for the first time in the last thirty years, ever since the Kurdish insurgents started in 1984, the Kurdish guerrilla is recognized as an equal partner.

VOMEANA: Cihan, the armed confrontation between Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and  the Turkish state, what were the roots of this conflict and what were the grievances of the Kurds inside Turkey?

Cihan Tugal:  The first skirmishes, the first signs of a movement, starts at the end of the 19th century.  This is when the Kurdish tribes start to lose their autonomy.  So at first, there's a tribal resistance against the loss of autonomy.  Then this turns into an Islamic tribal resistance with the Turkish state's move towards more secularism.  With the 1920s, we start to see a national movement and nationalist rebellions but there are still very strong tribal and Islamic overtones. So the national question is mixed up with -- or blended with an Islamic resistance against secularization as well as tribal resistance against the loss of autonomy.  And there is more than a dozen rebellions from 1925 to the major rebellion in 1938.  And after that point the tribal resistance is more or less gone and the rebellions do not show up again or the movement itself does not show up again until the 1960s.  So there is more or less silence.  Of course, it is more complex but I am simplifying.  And in the 1960s, the Kurdish movement comes back as a Socialist, nationalist movement and it makes a lot of inroads in the Turkish intelligentsia.  So parts of the Turkish intelligentsia are turned over to pro-Kurdish cause by the end of the 1970s and there are many Kurdish Socialist organizations as well as mixed Socialist organizations and one of these is going to be at the roots of the PKK.  And it's name changes a lot so that shouldn't concern us here but one of the Maoist organizations slowly evolves into what is today known as the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers Party.  And all the other movements lose out against the state and one major reason why the PKK survives the coup -- the military coup in Turkey in 1980 -- is because its leadership happens to be outside of Turkey at this point.  So there are conspiracy theories about this but the visible fact is that all of the other Kurdish organizations are crushed and they are the only remaining Kurdish organization.  Whatever remains of the other Kurdish organizations are further marginalized or even repressed by the PKK itself throughout the course of the 1980s.  So the main voice for Kurdish autonomy and the Kurdish rights becomes the PKK.  And when we are talking about the 1980s, it's still not only a nationalist movement, it's both a nationalist and a Socialist movement.  So there are demands for national autonomy, linguistic rights.  The demands for a separate state comes and goes.  The Kurdish movement, the PKK never becomes completely explicit about this so sometimes it's a demand for autonomy, sometimes federation, sometimes confederation.  And all of these demands are tied in with Socialist demands in the 1980s and after the 1980s.  So throughout the course of the 1990s, the movement gradually moves away from Socialism and becomes a more purely nationalist movement.

VOMEANA: You know, let's be mindful of the fact, in the 1980s witnessed a dark period for Socialist forces and labor movement in Turkey -- as it is also the military coup.

Cihan Tugal: Yes, exactly.  I don't want to over-generalize.  Not 100% of the Socialist Turks but a good majority of the Socialist Turks as well as the Socialist Kurds are looking at the PKK as an ally if not a savior.  It was perceived as a very positive force among the Socialist and some of the labor movement in Turkey in the 1980s.  But that changes a little throughout the 1990s as PKK moves away from Socialism but also liquidates the religious minority opposition within the PKK.  So there's an Alevi contingent in the PKK -- and there still is -- but they used to be a part of the leadership up until the 1990s.  And they're liquidated throughout the 1990s.  And, at the same time, the movement moves away from Socialism and, as I was saying, it becomes more and more repressive of other Kurdish forces and also other Socialist forces in Turkish Kurdistan.


Today, Daren Butler (Reuters) reports, "Turkey's main pro-Kurdish political party denied on Thursday media reports that jailed Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan had told his fighters to leave the country without their weapons under a peace plan."


In the US, Cindy Sheehan continues to stand up for peace.  Kimberly K. Fu (Reporter) notes, "Vacaville anti-war activist and Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan kicked off the first leg of her 'Tour de Peace' cross-country bike ride today, the nine-year anniversary of the death of her son in Iraq.Bay City News explains the Tour de Peace is "a three-month, cross-country bicycle tour to call for peace  in honor of her son, who was killed in Iraq nine years ago today" and that "The tour will end in July in Washington, D.C., with the final  stretch from Arlington National Cemetery to the White House."  More information can be found at Tour de Peace.  And we'll again note the press release:





FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
for Thursday, April 4, 2013
Contact: Tour Media - DeDe Miller 562/500-9079
National – Cres Vellucci 916/996-9170 cresvellucci@gmail.com




Anti-War Mom Cindy Sheehan Announces 3,000-Mile
Cross Country 'Tour de Peace' Bike Ride for Peace; 1st Leg
Begins Thursday at Son Casey's Grave, and Ends in Sacramento

VACAVILLE/SACRAMENTO, Ca. – Cindy Sheehan will begin an arduous 3 month, 3,000-mile Ride-for-Peace – dubbed "Tour de Peace" – this Thursday/April 4 from the Vacaville grave of her son to Arlington Cemetery and White House.

She will hold a press availability at 10 a.m., Thursday (April 4) at Vacaville-Elmira Cemetery (522 Elmira Road/West Side), where her son Casey is buried. He was killed in Iraq nine years ago.

The first leg of the 'Tour de Peace" runs from that Vacaville gravesite in to Sacramento, about 41 miles. Supporters are expected to welcome Cindy and the initial bike rider in Sacramento about 6 p.m. Thursday at Sierra 2/Curtis Hall (2791 24th St.).

Cindy will be available for interviews along the route, and in Sacramento at the end of the first leg.

WHAT: The Tour de Peace bike ride across the United States will follow historic Route
66 to Chicago, and other roads from there on to D.C.  Bicyclers will join in for all or part of the tour, which will include public events organized by local groups along the way. 
Complete route: http://tourdepeace.org/the-route.html

The tour begins April 4, 2013, nine years after Casey Sheehan was killed in Iraq, and 45 years after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was killed in Memphis.  It will conclude on July 3, 2013, with a ride from Arlington National Cemetery to the White House.

WHY: This August will mark 8 years since Cindy Sheehan began a widely reported protest at then-President George W. Bush's "ranch" in Crawford, Texas, demanding to know what the "noble cause" was for which Bush claimed Americans were dying in Iraq.  Neither Bush nor President Obama has yet offered a justification for a global war now in its 12th year.  The Tour de Peace will carry with it these demands:

To end wars,
To end immunity for U.S. war crimes,
To end suppression of our civil rights,
To end the use of fossil fuels,
To end persecution of whistleblowers,
To end partisan apathy and inaction.

Watch the trailer: http://youtu.be/2uBctq4dzss










pri
the world
marco werman


kpfa