Saturday, September 21, 2013

War Crimes

The weekend!  And good news, someone wants Barack tried for War Crimes!!!!

From ICH:

September 20, 2013 "Information Clearing House - "RT" - Bolivian President Evo Morales will file a lawsuit against the US government for crimes against humanity. He has decried the US for its intimidation tactics and fear-mongering after the Venezuelan presidential jet was blocked from entering US airspace.
“I would like to announce that we are preparing a lawsuit against Barack Obama to condemn him for crimes against humanity,” said President Morales at a press conference in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz. He branded the US president as a “criminal” who violates international law.
In solidarity with Venezuela, Bolivia will begin preparing a lawsuit against the US head of state to be taken to the international court. Furthermore, Morales has called an emergency meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to discuss what has been condemned by Venezuela as “an act of intimidation by North American imperialism.” 
The Bolivian president has suggested that the members of CELAC withdraw their ambassadors from the US to send a message to the Obama Administration. As an additional measure he will call on the member nations of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas to boycott the next meeting of the UN. Members of the Alliance include Antigua and Barbuda, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Saint Lucia.

“The US cannot be allowed to continue with its policy of intimidation and blockading presidential flights,”
stressed Morales.

The Venezuelan government announced on Thursday that President Nicolas Maduro’s plane had been denied entry into Puerto Rican (US) airspace.

“We have received the information from American officials that we have been denied travel over its airspace,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said, speaking to reporters during an official meeting with his South African counterpart. Jaua decried the move “as yet another act of aggression on the part of North American imperialism against the government of the Bolivarian Republic.”

Wouldn't that be great to see Barack held accountable for his War Crimes?

On the weekend, I often do an "Idiot of the Week."

I'm not feeling it this weekend, sorry.

But how about a "Genius of the Week"?  My nominee would be Norman Pollack and I'd note this from his latest CounterPunch article:

The recent shooting-down of the Summers appointment as Fed chair may signal Obama’s reversal of fortunes, that coupled with his foreign-policy unilateralism (which even in the US is starting to meet resistance), so that, finally, the American public will begin to realize they have a Judas Iscariot at the top, who has betrayed not merely his campaign promises, but his pledge of faith to the Constitution down the line, from civil liberties to making war, and in ever-widening circles, the poor, the national estate (as FDR would phrase it), and democracy itself. Just today (September 18) we see in the New York Times the confusions surrounding Obamacare, an excellent article by Sharyl Gay Stolberg, whose title says it all, “Ex-Officials Are Reaping Profit After Assisting on Health Law,” in which his team constructs a law favorable to the Health Industry and then, through the revolving door, proceeds to join the interests to be regulated, and an editorial, “The Money Behind the Shutdown Crisis,” which implicitly takes Obama’s program at (liberal) face-value, chastising the Far Right for attacking it, using the threat of a government shut-down as pretext for eliminating it.

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

Friday, September 20, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, a mosque is bombed, an important anniversary takes place, a man in Karbala attempts to set himself on fire, the KRG votes in provincial elections tomorrow, we look at who the biggest loser could be (hint, if things go bad for the PUK, the biggest loser will most likely be a woman), and more.

Iraq received some attention from the world's press today.  For violence.  That's what the western media caught.  What they missed was how important today was.

Violence isn't the only story in Iraq.  Today was the nine month anniversary of the start of the ongoing protests.  Dropping back to the December 21st snapshot:

AFP says the new crisis "threatens to reignite a long-running feud between the secular, Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc" and Nouri and his State of Law political slate.  What the heck are we talking about?  Look at this Reuters photo (individual photographer is not credited by the news agency or we'd note him or her by name) of the thousands who turned out to protest in Falluja today demanding Nouri al-Maliki resign as prime minister.
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.

Aymenn J Al-Tamimi Tweets of today's protests:

  1. : Friday protest placard from : "We won't forget the targeting of mosques of the Ahl as-Sunnah':

Iraqi Spring MC notes Baghdad protested and called for the detainees to be respected, in Ramadi they noted the right of the citizens to defend themselves and the right to call for an unresponsive government to be dissolved, they gathered in Mosul (despite 5 bridges being closed to try to stop the protest),  they gathered in Tikrit, they gathered in Samarra,  and they gathered in Jawala,

National Iraqi News Agency quotes an Anbar sit-in organizer, Sheikh Mohammed Fayyad, stating: "The citizens participated in the prayers that held in the courtyard northern Ramadi and eastern Fallujah cities , stressing that the goal of this trickle is to send one again a message to the governing in Baghdad that our demonstrations are peaceful and backed by citizens deep conviction."

It's not easy to protest in Iraq.  As Shajwan Tweeted last month:

A protest is the citizens best way in speaking their needs, not in though! No freedom of speech!

They have the Constitutional right to protest but, as the picture indicates, when they try to exercise that right, Nouri's thugs descend.   Nouri's worst attack on the protesters was the  April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported 53 dead for several days now -- indicating that some of the wounded did not recover.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

The theme of today's protests was solidarity with Basra.  Basra?  Sunnis are being killed there in targeted executions.  BRussells Tribunal explains:

  Sunni Endowment Diwan announced last Monday the closure of Sunni mosques in Barah following a number of assassinations and killings during the past weeks in the second largest city of Iraq.  The office of the Diwan in Basrah stated that Sunni mosques in Basrah will only call for prayers (Adan) from the speakers of mosques and advised Sunni sect members to hold prayers at homes for the sake of saving their lives.
Saad Qusay, a very active journalist and correspondent in Basrah raised concerns some days ago about the escalated violence, stating that not even one single day goes by without witnessing an assassination or killing by militants using silencer guns.
Targeted assassinations and killings
On 17 September an Imam of the Sunni mosque Balad Salama in the district of Abi Al-Kaseeb was assassinated, Elaph, a London-based and widely read electronic newspaper, reports. The Imam was shot dead, close to his mosque, by militants who were in a passing car in the district of Abi Al-Kaseeb, a widely Sunni populated district. Two other people from Basrah were assassinated by militias last Monday, Elaph said today. In the same district, militants kidnapped Talal Abdul-Hafed Faroq, a clerk of the Sunni Endowment Diwan, who owns a grocery shop, and killed him a while after the kidnapping, Basrah News Agency reported.
Sheikh Nateq Yasseen, an Imam and speaker of Al-Sibelyat mosque, was assassinated by militant groups. Sheikh Yasseen was a former member of the municipal council of Abo Al-Kaseeb district.
Two worshippers were targeted and got killed thereafter at the district of Al-Ma’kal in Basrah. Meanwhile, a cleric at the Sunni Endowment Diwan in Basrah was injured due to an explosion of a bombed car inside the yard of the Diwan. Abdul-Kareem Al-Kazragi, director of the Sunni Endowment Diwan of south Iraq said that a bomb was placed in a bus taking the Diwan’s employees. Luckily none of the employees was injured as they had to do overtime for auditing work and the bus exploded causing no human casualties. Mr. Al-Kazragi called for strengthening security measures for the protection of the Sunni Endowment Diwan offices.
In the Al-Zubair district west of Basrah, militants using guns with silencers killed a worshipper close to Al-Kudairi mosque. Two brothers were kidnapped in Al-Jomhoreya quarter in Basrah by unknown militants who killed them and thrown their bodies before their house. One of the two brothers owns a shopping center, according to a security sources speaking to the Basrah News agency.  Three civilians killed and eleven others injured last Sunday when a bombed car exploded at an industrial street in Basrah.

Today was the nine month anniversary of continuous protests in Iraq.  You might think the world media could make time to cover the brave people who turn out despite being targeted, despite being followed, despite being called "terrorists" by Nouri al-Maliki.  They have shown so much strength and so much courage and could inspire the whole world if only the world knew what was taking place in Iraq.

Meanwhile Dar Addustour reports a  man in Karbala today launched his own protest. To register his objection to the lack of jobs in Iraq, 30-year-old Ali Mohammed attempted to set himself on fire in front of a Karbala government building.  He and his wife have four children and no income. So he threw gasoline on himself and attempted to burn himself to death but security officials were able to stop him before he set himself ablaze.

Violence continues in Iraq today with an attack on a mosque.  Xinhua reports, "The attack occurred when two improvised explosive devices hidden inside the air cooling system exploded in the Musab bin Omair Mosque near the city of Samarra, 120 km north of the capital Baghdad, as people were gathering in the mosque for noon prayers, a police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.Al Jazeera adds, "Samarra is a largely Sunni Muslim city that is home to a revered Shia shrine."  Ghazwan Hassan, Isabel Coles and Louise Ireland (Reuters) quote survivor Saleh al-Shamani, "During the Friday prayer suddenly a huge explosion took place. Black smoke filled the mosque, we could not see each other. I tried to stand, but I couldn't as I had some injuries in my legs."  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports 18 dead and twenty-nine injured.

Mahmud Saleh (AFP) offers this perspective, "The blasts came a day after the bodies of 10 young men who had been shot dead were found in Baghdad, another reminder of the sectarian conflict in Iraq, during which militants frequently carried out summary executions."  While true, a better context would be to drop back to last Friday.  This was a Sunni mosque that was attacked.

That also happened last week.  AFP reported then, "Two roadside bombs exploded outside a mosque in the Iraqi city of Baquba killing 30 people, as Sunni Muslim worshippers were leaving following Friday prayers, police said. A further 25 people were wounded in the blasts, which went off in quick succession. The second tore through a crowd of people who had rushed to help those hurt in the first.  It was not immediately clear who carried out the attack."

Saleh also notes a Samarra mortar attack left 1 woman and her daughter dead and the woman's husband was left injured, while a second mortar attack claimed the life of another young female and left two members of her family injured and a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 doctor if police are believed (if medical sources are believed, the doctor was shot dead).  In addition, NINA reports a Baquba roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left two people injured, and 1 Iraqi soldier was kidnapped in Hawija.  Dar Addustour reports 42 corpses have been discovered dumped throughout Baghdad in the last 24 hours and that people see this as a sign of a return to a civil war.

We note repeatedly how the State Dept refuses/forgets to note violence in Iraq.  A State Dept friend called me to say it was noted in today's press briefing.  I held off the joy.  I'm glad I did.  Here's the exchange between State Dept spokesperson Marie Harf and Said Arikat (Al Quds Daily Newspaper):


MS. HARF: Iraq.

QUESTION: I wonder if you have any comments on the spike in violence in Iraq, including some accusations of ethnic cleansing.

MS. HARF: Yes, let me see what I have here. And I know we’ve talked about this for months now, actually – the levels of violence in Iraq – and it’s obviously something we take very seriously and remain deeply concerned about. We condemn, of course, in the strongest terms the recent terrorist attacks in Iraq.
We’ve said this and we’ll say it again, but these attacks are reprehensible, and quite frankly, they don’t represent what a majority of the Iraqi people want. These are extremist elements, terrorist elements in Iraq. We’ve talked about some of the spillover effect from Syria that it’s having, unfortunately, on Iraq. And we will continue to stand with the Iraqi people against this violence and our commitment to support efforts to bring those responsible to justice.
I would also note, I think, that just happened recently was a national conference of Iraq’s leaders from across the political spectrum to sign initiatives to ease tensions and set a direction, in fact, towards resolving political differences. So clearly, this violence is reprehensible, but I would note a positive step in terms of the political side and all parties being a part of it right now.

It took Said asking for Harf to address the topic and she had to flip through her cheat sheet notebook because she's still -- all these months later -- unprepared for her job and thrown by any question on Iraq -- despite the fact that the State Dept now leads the US mission in Iraq.

 EFE points out that today's mosque attack "came hours after leaders of most of Iraq’s political parties signed a pact of  'honor and social peace' to confront a resurgence of sectarian violence."  As we noted yesterday, the document is worthless.  Similar ones have been signed and changed nothing.  Already, that appears to be the case with the latest pretense at peace.  NINA notes Nouri's Dawa political party announced today that they should get every Iraqi citizen to sing the (worthless) statement.  They're for real?  Nouri refuses to conduct a census but they think they can get everyone in Iraq to sign that worthless contract.  Mushtaq Hussein Ali (Kitabat) notes the lack of substance among the signers and in the document itself.

Cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr was one of the leaders who didn't attend the fake conference Thursday.  Dar Addustour reports that he's announced he will use Sundays to meet with people face to face.  This can be read as a poke at Nouri's worthless weekly announcements (Nouri makes those on Wednesdays).  Wael Grace (Al Mada) speaks with the Sadr bloc and they explain their position is that Nouri heads the government, he's refused to implement power sharing, so the ball's in his hands and its up to Nouri to solve the problems (that he created).  As we noted yesterday, this is a US-led effort to make Nouri look good.  Asked about it in today's press briefing, US State Dept spokesperson Marie Harf played down the US involvement:

QUESTION: Is the U.S. taking any part in this reconciliation effort?

MS. HARF: The U.S. clearly supports all these efforts by Iraqi political leaders that constructively and cooperatively address the complex issues. I don’t have any more details for you than that. Obviously, senior people on the ground and here are in constant contact with our Iraqi counterparts.

From Thursday's snapshot:

The US Embassy organized the faux event with Brett McGurk acting as lead (and as usual, unable to keep his trap shut -- and somebody tell his latest wife that, true or false, there are rumors -- two reporters passed it on to me -- that his zipper's again come down).  The point was to create this 'reset' for Iraq that would have the press citing this non-event as a starting point and not the April event so many outlets are currently using.
 That would be the  April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported 53 dead for several days now -- indicating that some of the wounded did not recover.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).
 The US State Dept ordered a re-set point to be established ahead of Nouri's expected visit to the White House later this month.  They really want the press focusing on this non-event, on this so-called peace conference (which accomplished nothing) as opposed to focusing on the massacre as Nouri and Barack pose together for pictures.
 Today's staged event wasn't about peace.  It wasn't about the Iraqi people.  It was about spiffing up Nouri before he hits the US so that Barack is protected.

Also not attending was Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi who has been engaging in conversations via his Twitter feed.  Here's one example.

    1. Change will only happen if there is a disengagement from sectarianism and an adoption of civil-state building that serves all Iraqis.
    2. the first step to improve the democracy in Iraq is by changing the election system
    3. This is one of many steps including respect of the constitution, all-inclusive political process and real instution-buidling.

  • While they work at establishing dialogue with the Iraqi people, Nouri just keeps doing the same old thing.  BBC News observes:

    In recent weeks, Iraqi security forces have reportedly arrested hundreds of alleged al-Qaeda members in and around Baghdad as part of a campaign the Shia-led government is calling "Revenge for the martyrs".
    But the operations, which have taken place mostly in Sunni districts, have angered the Sunni community and failed to halt the violence.

    It's not just failing to halt the violence, it's breeding violence.  Nouri has had seven years to grasp that this won't work but he's incapable of learning from his mistakes -- or even admitting that he can make mistakes. IRIN looks at what Nouri and others are attempting to 'address' the violence.  Excerpt:

    “So far, there appears to be little appetite by political leaders for the compromises necessary to halt the escalating violence,” ICG said in its monthly CrisisWatch. “Instead, the government has requested from the US additional weaponry and intelligence support in order to ‘combat terrorism’.” In August, the government arrested over 670 people, ICG said, as part of a new military operation called “Martyrs’ Revenge”.
    The operation focused on large-scale arrests of suspected “terrorists” in predominantly Sunni Arab areas on the outskirts of the capital, Baghdad, as well as seizures of weapons. While the operation saw some successes, it - like the Kirkuk trench - also poses some risks.
    “Any short-term improvements in terms of security could be outweighed in the long-term if the Sunni community feels it is being targeted by the government for a crime they have not committed,” said Hayder al Khoei, associate fellow in the Middle East and North Africa programme at Chatham House in London.
    Experts say the rise in violence in Kirkuk Province is linked to the growing strength, nationwide, of al-Qaeda and other extremist groups in recent months. Instability stemming from power-sharing disagreements makes Kirkuk an easy target for the groups.

    In other news of violence,  Carol J. Williams (Los Angeles Times) reports:

    A massacre this month at an Iranian exile camp in Iraq that killed 52 people under international protection was an act of premeditated slaughter and should be thoroughly investigated by the United Nations, two former foreign ministers told the world body Thursday.
    Former foreign ministers Bernard Kouchner of France and Sid Ahmed Ghozali of Algeria told a U.N. panel in Geneva that the Sept. 1 raid on the exile refuge known as Camp Ashraf represents "a crime against humanity." The former top diplomats also said they had grave fear for the safety of seven survivors of the attack who were taken hostage.

    As of this month, Camp Ashraf is empty.  All remaining members of the community have been moved to Camp Hurriya (also known as Camp Liberty).  Camp Ashraf housed a group of Iranian dissidents who were  welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. This is key and demands the US defend the Ashraf community in Iraq from attacks.  The Bully Boy Bush administration grasped that -- they were ignorant of every other law on the books but they grasped that one.  As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp repeatedly attacked after Barack Obama was sworn in as US President. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out."  Those weren't the last attacks.  They were the last attacks while the residents were labeled as terrorists by the US State Dept.  (September 28, 2012, the designation was changed.)   In spite of this labeling, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."  So the US has an obligation to protect the residents.  3,300 are no longer at Camp Ashraf.  They have moved to Camp Hurriyah for the most part.  A tiny number has received asylum in other countries. Approximately 100 were still at Camp Ashraf when it was attacked Sunday.   That was the second attack this year alone.   February 9th of this year, the Ashraf residents were again attacked, this time the ones who had been relocated to Camp Hurriyah.  Trend News Agency counted 10 dead and over one hundred injured.  Prensa Latina reported, " A rain of self-propelled Katyusha missiles hit a provisional camp of Iraqi opposition Mujahedin-e Khalk, an organization Tehran calls terrorists, causing seven fatalities plus 50 wounded, according to an Iraqi official release."  They were attacked again September 1st.   Adam Schreck (AP) reported that the United Nations was able to confirm the deaths of 52 Ashraf residents.

    For another aspect of the Ashraf community in the news, we'll drop back to Monday's snapshot:

    US Senator Robert Menendez issued a statement on the attack which included, "I hold the Iraqi government directly responsible to protect the community, to investigate this matter thoroughly, and to prosecute the perpetrators of this heinous act. I am deeply concerned for the seven hostages who were taken during this attack. The Iraqi government should act swiftly to determine their whereabouts and ensure their safety. There is added urgency for the global community, as well as for the United States, to help resettle this community outside of Iraq, and end this cycle of ongoing terror attacks."  Seven Ashraf hostages? Nouri's government denied they existed but they did and do. Last week, UNHCR issued the following statement:

    These seven are all known by UNHCR to be asylum-seekers, and the agency hopes to have an opportunity to interview them. In light of the numerous and persistent reports over the past week that these individuals may be at risk of forced return to Iran, UNHCR calls upon the Government of Iraq to locate them, to ensure their physical security, and to safeguard them against return to Iran against their will.

    US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher issued a statement noting them and the continued attacks on the Ashraf community.  He observed, "The refugees disarmed themselves with faith in U.S. Government guarantees of their safety. If we fail them, nobody will believe us again." The World Organisation Against Torture issued a statement and a call for action:

    According to the information received, on 1st September 2013 seven Iranian exiles, members of the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI), an Iranian opposition group, were abducted from Camp Ashraf during an attack carried out by the Iraqi security forces, which also led to the death of 52 people and several injured[1]. The seven residents are: Ms. Fatemeh Tahoori, Ms. Vajihe Karbalaey, Ms. Mahnaz Azizi, Ms. Lila Nabahat, Ms. Zahra Ramezani, Ms. Fatema Sakhie and Mr. Mohammad Ratebi.  
    According to the same information received, on 12th September 2013, Mr. Kamel Amin, Deputy of the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights, confirmed the arrest of seven members of the PMOI and announced that they are in the custody of the security forces.
    OMCT is gravely concerned about the fate and safety of Ms. Fatemeh Tahoori, Ms. Vajihe Karbalaey, Ms. Mahnaz Azizi, Ms. Lila Nabahat, Ms. Zahra Ramezani, Ms. Fatema Sakhie and Mr. Mohammad Ratebi. OMCT urges the Iraqi authorities to immediately disclose their exact whereabouts and to guarantee their physical and psychological integrity at all times, in accordance with international human rights law.
    OMCT fears that they may be forcibly returned to Iran, where they would be at risk of torture and other forms of ill-treatment. OMCT recalls to the Iraqi authorities the absolute prohibition of sending a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he or she would be in danger of being subjected to torture and other forms of ill-treatment or other serious human rights violations.
    OMCT further urges the Iraqi authorities to immediately release them in the absence of valid legal charges that are consistent with international law and standards, or, if such charges exist, to bring them promptly before an impartial, independent and competent tribunal and guarantee their procedural rights at all times.
    Action requested
    Please write to the authorities in Iraq urging them to:
    i.           Immediately disclose the exact whereabouts of Ms. Fatemeh Tahoori, Ms. Vajihe Karbalaey, Ms. Mahnaz Azizi, Ms. Lila Nabahat, Ms. Zahra Ramezani, Ms. Fatema Sakhie and Mr. Mohammad Ratebi;
    ii.         Guarantee, in all circumstances, their physical and psychological integrity, including by not forcibly returning them to Iran, where they would be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment;
    iii.        Order their immediate release in the absence of valid legal charges that are consistent with international law and standards, or, if such charges exist, bring them promptly before an impartial, independent and competent tribunal and guarantee their procedural rights at all times;
    iv.        Guarantee unconditional access to all members of their family and their lawyers;
    v.         Guarantee that they are examined by independent doctors and receive adequate medical care;
    i.           Carry out a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the circumstances of these events, the results of which must be made public, in order to bring those responsible before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal and apply penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;
    ii.         Ensure the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards.


    Ø  Prime Minister, H.E. Nouri Kamil Al-Maliki, Email:;
    Ø  Minister of Justice, H.E. Hassan al-Shammari, Ministry of Justice;
    Ø  Minister of Human Rights, H.E. Mohammed Shia´al-Sudani, Ministry of Human Rights,
    Ø  H.E Mr. Mohammad Sabir Ismail, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Iraq to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Email:, Fax. +41 22 733 03 26
    Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Iraq in your respective countries.

    Today, there's an unexpected development with regards to the 7 hostages.  Alsumaria reports Nouri issued a statement declaring his security forces were not holding any hostages.

    Raymond Tanter served on the senior staff of the National Security Council during the Reagan administration.  He weighs in on the Ashraf community and Nouri at The Hill:

    While protecting Ashraf residents seems at first blush to be a minor issue, it is of great strategic import regarding U.S. credibility: If Tehran and Damascus view American diplomacy as unable to persuade Baghdad to make any compromises, the Iranian and Syrian regimes are less likely to take seriously U.S. threats to use military force.
    While tolerating the Iraqi regime as being a naysayer erodes U.S. credibility, accepting evil deeds by the regime erodes the American claim to moral exceptionalism in the world. Evil by Iraqi guardians is not the banal operations of faceless bureaucrats merely executing orders from above. Rather, their evil deeds are a part of a strategy for Baghdad to carry out the goal of Tehran to torture, persecute, and forcibly repatriate to Iran members of the main prodemocracy organization that rejects clerical rule in Iran. And because international humanitarian law precludes transfer of persons from one state to another if they face risk of persecution, the evil deeds committed by an American ally tars our moral status and credibility of U.S. deterrent and coercive threats.

    Turning to northern Iraq,  AFP offers a photo of Kurish women carrying flags with "the portrait of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani."  No, he hasn't died -- at least the death rumor's been denied.  He also hasn't returned to Iraq.   Last December,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.

    AFP's photo is about the KRG voting tomorrow in provincial elections (early voting -- for the security forces -- took place Thursday).  Kira Walker (Rudaw) offers:

    The lead-up to Saturday’s legislative elections in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region has spurred a flurry of near-celebrations on the streets of Erbil, the Kurdish capital.
    On the walls of nearly every office and home, hanging from lamp posts or moving along on the sides of busses, are the smiling, bearded or turbaned campaign posters and banners of about 1,000 candidates in Saturday’s race for the 111-seat Kurdish assembly. Colorful party flags billow in the wind.
    For many foreigners or Kurds who have spent long years abroad -- and there are many of both in this three-province Kurdish enclave that remains Iraq’s only haven of calm and economic prosperity – the elections evoke both curiosity and excitement.
    Elections in Iraqi Kurdistan, which has had its own Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, have been internationally as free and fair, and as the only successful democratic experiment in the region.

    BBC Monitoring notes, "This is the fourth parliamentary polls since Iraqi Kurds established the region in Irbil, Sulaimaniya and Dahuk provinces in 1991."  They go on to review the basics of tomorrow's vote in an easy to follow question and answer format.  The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization opines:

    The legislative elections in Iraqi Kurdistan scheduled for 21 September 2013 will be a crucial political event in the history of the autonomous region in northern Iraq, as it may be a turning point to change the political shape of the next parliament, as well as the new government cabinet. Campaigns for the fourth legislative elections in Iraqi Kurdistan started on 28 August and lasted until 17 September. Rates of pre-election violence have thus far been relatively low. Female politicians are hoping to win more seats in the regional legislature, continuing the trend of the previous legislative elections in 2009. In the 21 September legislative elections 2.8 million out of the regions 5.5 million inhabitants are eligible to vote.

    The two main parties are the KDP (led by KRG President Massoud Barzani) and the PUK (which is supposed to be headed by Jalal Talabani).  As noted earlier, Talabani's in Germany and has been for nine months.  Prashant Rao (AFP) reports that, despite this, the PUK has been using Talbani's image in various campaign materials::

    The struggles facing Jalal Talabani’s bloc, which for decades has held a duopoly on power in the autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq, could prove instructive for parties across the country. 
    Many of them, like his bloc, remain dependent on personalities rather than policies, ahead of national elections due in less than a year.
    Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) has faced tough competition from a breakaway faction as well as Islamist and Communist groupings in its home base of Sulaimaniyah ahead of the three-province Kurdish region’s September 21 parliamentary election."

    If the PUK does less well than in 2009, there will be complaining.  If the PUK does really bad, there will be outrage.   The one who will face the most criticism may be First Lady of Iraq Hero Ibrahim Ahmed who has been reluctant to heed the advice of PUK leaders and assume the presidency in her husband's absence.  Could she?  Yes.  In the plan they outlined, Hero would not be "President Hero," she would be carrying out the will of her husband while he remains in Germany.  She would be voting by proxy.  She has refused that (just as she refused to take over the position outright) arguing that to do so would leave the impression that Jalal was unable to do his job.

    She's correct people would assume that.  But Jalal has now been out of the country for nine months.  Iraq's been without a president for nine months.  Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi's recent revelation that he was refused when he attempted to visit Jalal in the hospital last April does not bode well for Jalal's health or his stature.  And it really makes the point for the posters in Arabic social media who compared the May 18th photos of 'healthy' Jalal to Weekend At Bernies. (In Weekend At Bernies, two men use Bernie's corpse to pretend Bernie's still alive.)

    If  Hero has the most to lose in tomorrow's vote, the one with the most to gain from the PUK suffering a big loss is Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari who has wanted to grab the Iraqi presidency for some time and attempted a move right after Jalal's stroke but was rebuffed by those in party leadership loyal to Jalal and Hero.

    Credit to Prashant Rao for covering the fact that Jalal's absence may negatively impact the PUK vote tomorrow but is no one going to run through what that means?  Probably not.  It appears AFP is the only western media outlet that's going to report on the KRG elections from inside the Kurdistan Region.

    Sangar Jamal (Niqash) reports on the elections:

    Nazad Jalal has never travelled quite so much before. During the past ten days, the 31-year-old political science graduate, who runs his own media website, has been touring as many places in Iraqi Kurdistan as he can get to. Jalal is standing as a candidate in elections in the semi-autonomous region, due to be held this coming Saturday, Sept.21. Special votes were cast on Thursday, Sept. 19.

    Jalal is standing as part of Iraqi Kurdistan’s largest opposition party, the Change movement.

    “I was always in touch with the people here through my work,” Jalal told NIQASH. “So I knew about how they live and their problems. But I didn’t have that much contact with them personally; I had more contact with my writers and with politicians. But now that I am campaigning in these elections, I’ve really met a lot of people and had very close contact with them.”

    Jalal is one of among 1,129 candidates in the region with similar ambitions. And they’ve all been pounding the streets, streets absolutely littered with campaign posters.

    Because of the way that elections are structured this time around – voters can vote for the candidates individually as well as for the parties in a semi-open electoral system – the campaigning has been particularly fierce since it began at the end of August.

    For example, Kasha Dara, a member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, (PUK) who will remain an MP in the Iraqi Kurdish parliament until November, is the 11th name on her party’s list. Together with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the PUK currently run the region – and during the last elections Dara was also on her party’s list, therefore got a seat. However these elections she must campaign as much as possible for herself.

    She insists she’s made the same sort of effort during the last elections though. It’s just that this system “brings the candidate closer to the people. And this will increase credibility in the elections as well as competition between candidates.”

    The biggest parties competing in the elections have helped their representatives out financially. Those parties – the KDP and the PUK which currently rule the region, the Change movement and the two Islamic parties – have also mobilized their own media outlets to support their candidates.

    One of the PUK’s candidates, Kawthar Karim, reported that her party had given each candidate around IQD12 million (around US$10,000) to help them campaign. The KDP has apparently done similar to allow candidates to print posters and cards. 

    The Change movement printed 4,000 posters for each of its candidates and the two Islamic parties also gave their candidates some cash as well as helped them print posters.

    al mada

    Friday, September 20, 2013


    As C.I. notes in the snapshot today, these people acting like war on Syria has been averted are insane.  The push is still on for the war.  And that's why the lies continue.

    Remember the nun who told the truth that I noted earlier this week?  Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya has a report on her work at ICH:

    The US intelligence community has been put to shame by the dedication and determination of a lone Christian nun. Her modest study of the videos of the Syrian chemical attack shows they were productions involving staged bodies.
    Those who take the time to read the report by Mother Agnes and the International Support Team for Mussalaha in Syria (ISTEAMS) will realize that it disgraces the entire US intelligence community for endorsing video footage that is clearly dubious and not credible upon careful study by even a layperson. 
    No one denies that chemical weapons were used. The US federal government and the  mainstream media in the US and countries allied to it have been playing a dirty game of equating the a) rejection of accusations that the Syrian government used chemical weapons with b) an outright denial that chemical weapons were used. The two are deliberately being mixed together to confuse the general public. The question is who used the chemical weapons? 

    Catholic World News notes two scholars objecting to war on Syria.  Of course, the Pope has objected as well and called for a peaceful solution.

    Which really throws me when I hear the hysterical ravings of John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi because they're both Catholic.

    I'm Catholic and I'm pro-choice.  That doesn't seem a dichotomy to me.  That's a decision for an individual to make about her own life.  War is a different matter.  And I don't get how Kerry and Pelosi can present as Catholic and blow off the Pope's call for peace.

    But maybe they're as fake ass as Catholics as they are on everything else?

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

    Thursday, September 19, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue,  the KRG holds early voting, the US government stages an event in Baghdad, Ayad Allawi learns not to humor the US, rumors spread about Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, John Kerry miraculously believes he has credibility on Syria, and much more.

    All of these words whispered in my ear
    Tell a story that I cannot bear to hear
    Just cause I said it, it don't mean that I meant it
    People say crazy things
    Just cause I said it, don't mean that I meant it
    Just cause you heard it
    Rumor has it 
    -- "Rumor Has It," written by Adele and Ryan Tedder, first appears on Adele's 21

    Rumor has it on Arabic Facebook sites (and other social media) today that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has passed away.   Last December,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently. All Iraq News reports his political party, the Kurdistan Patriotic Union, has issued a denial: "The reports that were posted via some Facebook pages regarding the death of Talabani are totally groundless."

    Iraq has three security ministries.  One person should head each one.  But Nouri never nominated people to head the ministries.  Back in July 2012, 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."

    The Iraqi Constitution explains how someone becomes prime minister.  First, the Iraqi president names a prime minister-designate.  That person then has 30 days to put together a cabinet.  Putting together a cabinet includes nominating the people, getting Parliament to agree on the people (vote their consent).  The only way someone moves from prime minister-designate to prime minister is via the Cabinet.  This does not mean a partial Cabinet.  The reason for this clause is that this is supposed to demonstrate that the person can work with the Parliament, provide leadership and, where needed, make the needed compromise.  An Iraqi who was part of drafting the 2005 Constitution e-mailed that "the entire purpose [of this process] was to prevent a Maliki type from becoming prime minister.  His failures in his second term can be traced to his failure [as prime minister designate] to work with the parliament."

    How did Nouri move from prime minister-designate to prime minister when he failed the only task for the position?  Failure to name a Cabinet (in full) in 30 days means the Iraqi president is supposed to name another person to be prime minister-designate.

    Nouri was able to ignore the Constitution in 2010 because his being named prime minister-designate ignored the Constitution as well.  The prime minister-designate is supposed to come from the political party or political slate that won the most votes.  Nouri's State of Law came in second to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya.  Allawi should have been named prime minister-designate.

    Nouri at first screamed for a recount.  When that didn't change the outcome signficantly, he dug in his heels and refused to relinquish his position.  For eight months, he refused to step down. Having the backing of the United States allowed him to do that.  They should have eased him out.

    They actually should have listened to Gen Ray Odierno who was the top US commander in Iraq at the time.  Before the March 2010 elections, Odierno was saying Nouri might not come in first (a prospect the press refused to entertain) and Odierno was saying that Nouri might refuse to step down.  But the idiot Chris Hill, apparently half-baked on who knows what, insisted that wasn't going to happen and went around Odierno to the White House which chose to believe Hill and not Odierno.  History has demonstrated the lousy US Ambassador to Iraq to be an idiot and Odierno to be someone with keen observational skills.

    The White House didn't just cover for Nouri to keep him in power for eight months after the elections, they also pushed and prodded the leaders of the various political blocs to sign off on a contract known as The Erbil Agreement.  This contract circumvented the Iraqi Constitution to give Nouri a second term (illegally give him a second term).  Since The Erbil Agreement gave him a second term, Nouri was not required to meet the 30-day rule for naming a Cabinet.

    And the effects of that illegal maneuver by the US government can be immediately seen in the increased violence today.

    "We are new to democracy, as a country, we are new to that."  We'll come back to that quote.  Right now, let's look at some of today's violence.

    National Iraqi News Agency reports 1 Mosul shop owner was shot dead in his store, a roadside bombing near Tikrit claimed 1 life and left another person injured. and an Iraqi army officer was shot dead outside RashadEFE reports, "Nine people were killed and 30 others injured Thursday in a bombing at a market west of Baghdad, Iraqi police told Efe.  The attack took place in Abu Ghraib, home of the notorious prison." Fu Peng (Xinhua) focuses on another bombing, "Also, at least two civilians were killed and 30 wounded when a truck bomb detonated near a house of a police officer in Imam Ahmed district in the city of Tuz-Khurmato, some 180 km north of Baghdad, a local police source anonymously told Xinhua.  The huge blast left some 15 nearby houses and several private cars damaged, the source said."   All Iraq News notes that the corpses of 10 young adults (ages "17 to 25") were discovered in Baghdad (all were shot dead).  EFE adds the ten were all men.  AFP provides this context, "Summary executions were commonplace at the height of the Sunni-Shiite conflict when many thousands of people were killed in cold blood. But this was the first time in several years that such a large number of bodies had been found in one place."  Found?  Reuters reports "unusual vehicle traffic" to and from an abandoned building caught the attention of children who entered them empty building and found the corpses "inside one of its rooms" according to a police source.  Fang Yang (Xinhua) also notes a police source for the information that the corpses "were blindfolded and handcuffed with bullet holes in the heads." That's 24 reported dead and 61 reported injured.
    But that wasn't all the violence.  NINA reports:

    Police source told NINA that gunmen opened fire, using guns with silencers, at a shop owner in Ishaqi district, south of Tikrit, killing him instantly, for cooperating with security forces.
    He added that 3 improvised explosive devices went off near the body of the deceased, when people and security forces gathered, killing 5 persons and wounding 18 others.
    Killed for cooperating with security forces?  And on the same day the Ministry of the Interior was attempting to spin cooperation.   Today Deputy Interior Minister Adnan al-Assadi told Al-Shorfa that Iraq's tips line was a huge success.  He insisted that there "terrorism-related notifications has increased by 40% in comparison to the figure from August."  Wow.  Nearly double.  Can al-Assadi do math?  Some people -- and at one point a talking Barbie doll -- found math to be hard.  I certainly don't consider myself to be a math expert.  But if I'm reading an article about how helpful these phone call-ins are and how their number has basically doubled and then you tell me that these tips have helped you "arrest 28 suspects," even I can see something wrong with that picture.  And that's before you factor in that 28 suspects arrested is not even a large daily number -- mass arrests account for twice that on a slow day in Iraq of late.  And let's not forget that Nouri used yesterday's weekly address to sell the Iraqi equivalent of NYC's "If you see something, say something."   If you've had a 40% increase, you use your weekly address to thank people for that, not to beg them to call your hotline.
    "We are new to democracy, as a country, we are new to that."  That was Iraq's Ambassador to the US Lukman Faily speaking at the Brookings Institution yesterday.  He was actually replying to a question from Brooking's Kenneth Pollack and speaking of the fact that Iraqi prisons contain people falsely arrested.  That's a large number of the Iraqi prison population, though Faily tried to play down the number and also tried to excuse false arrest and imprisonment with "new to democracy."  Is Iraq also supposed to be new to literacy?  One of the world's all time classic books is Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo whose main character Edmond Dantes sets off on a course of revenge after he's falsely arrested and imprisoned.  The novel was the inspiration for ABC's Revenge, as Stan noted last nightRevenge returns with new episodes Sunday, September 29th and, as she's done with the first two seasons, Rebecca will be blogging about each new episode at her site.  In the TV show, as in the book, false imprisonment destroy lives and makes a person (the falsely imprisoned in the book, the adult-daughter of the falsely imprisoned in the TV series) lash out against those responsible.

    And in that classic story, you find what continues to fuel the violence in Iraq.  Nouri's answer has repeatedly been mass arrests which have imprisoned many innocents.  This only further destabilizes the country.  And, as this takes place, the idiot Nouri doesn't even have, all these years later, ministers to head the security ministries.

    Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count puts the number of violent deaths in the country so far this month at 651.  And UNAMI issued the following yesterday:

    Baghdad, 18 September 2013 - The Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (DSRSG) for Iraq, Mr. Gyorgy Busztin, expressed extreme concern about sectarian based displacement after recent worrying reports about forcible expulsion of Al Saadoun tribal communities from Dhi-Qar and Shabak communities from Ninewa, along with killings of members of Sunni community in Basra. كوردی
    "The use of violence and intimidation against communities by illegal armed groups forcing them to flee their homes is unacceptable and a clear violation of basic human rights," DSRSG Busztin said, stressing that this worrying trend may pose grave risks for Iraq's social cohesion and may be disruptive to the ongoing efforts for national reconciliation.

    The UN Envoy called on the Iraqi authorities to protect communities from attack, ensuring their safety, security, and right to a peaceful life free of intimidation.

    The Kurdish Globe reminds the UN's death toll for last month was 800 Iraqis killed and that 5,000 have been killed so far this year.  And yet what  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reported back in July 2012 is still true today, "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." 

    "We are a new democracy, as a country, we are new to that."   Lukman Fally declared that yesterday at the Brookings Institution.  He is correct in his statement.  And we can see how the White House circumventing democracy in Iraq to give second-place Nouri a second term has effected the country in terms of immediate violence.  There's no denying the impact there.

    But there are other impacts.  We saw one today with the laughable Social Peace Conference -- it has at least four other bad names but that's the one the US used and since it was really their staged event, let's go with that.

    But before we do, let's drop back to the day after The Erbil Agreement was signed.  From the November 11, 2010 Iraq snapshot:

    Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's eight months and three days and still counting.

    Today the KRG website announces:

    Baghdad, Iraq ( - Iraq's political leaders yesterday agreed to hold the parliamentary session as scheduled on Thursday and to name an individual for the post of Speaker of the the parliament (Council of Representatives). The Speaker post will go to the Al-Iraqiya bloc, which is headed by former prime minister Ayad Allawi.
    During the meeting, which was attended by the leaders of all the winning blocs at President Masoud Barzani's Baghdad headquarters, agreement was reached on two other points: to create a council for strategic policy and to address issues regarding national reconciliation.
    President Barzani, who sponsored the three days' round of meetings, stated that today's agreement was a big achievement for Iraqis. He expressed optimism that the next government will be formed soon and that it will be inclusive and representative of all of Iraq's communities.

    Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports one hiccup in the process today involved Ayad Allawi who US President Barack Obama phoned asking/pleading that he accept the deal because "his rejection of post would be a vote of no confidence". Ben Lando, Sam Dagher and Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) confirm the phone call via two sources and state Allawi will take the post -- newly created -- of chair of the National Council On Higher Policy: "Mr. Obama, in his phone call to Mr. Allawi on Thursday, promised to throw U.S. weight behind the process and guarantee that the council would retain meaningful and legal power, according to the two officials with knowledge of the phone call." 

    With that in mind, let's turn to today's pretend event.  NINA quotes Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi speaking at the Social Peace Conference:

    What is going in the region of coups and sudden political transformations, is calling everyone to behave as wise as possible in order to avoied our people the major disasters.  The initiative put forward by Vice President Khudair Alkhozai is one of the opportunities that we should stand with unreacted attitude.

     All Iraq News notes he also criticized Nouri:


    He assured in his speech during the conference "The government failed in setting plans to protect churches and the mosques." 
    "It also failed in reducing the organized displacing process for the Shabak community in northern Iraq and al-Sadoun tribe in the south in addition to neglecting the demonstrators' demands," he concluded. 

    KRG President Massoud Barzani signed the agreement but stated temporary agreements would only lead to more violence and that the Iraqi protesters must be listened to and their demands met. Alsumaria notes that various leaders signed a sort of peace pact -- non-binding. All Iraq News notes Nouri held a press conference after and declared, "We will not consider the absence of the political leaders from the Social Peace Conference as a suspension and we will contact them."

    Photos of the event are revealing.  They are group photos.  Not crowd photos.  That allows the US helpers to hide (but they were present and spotted entering the meeting as Arabic social media notes).  More to the point, if Ayad Allawi hadn't announced he wouldn't be attending and if his political foes weren't making a to-do about that, would anyone have noticed?

    No one appears to have noticed that Moqtada al-Sadr was not present.

     All Iraq News notes Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi did not attend the Social Peace Conference.  Good.  He shouldn't.  He also announced he wasn't attending yesterday.  It's not a peace conference.  It's a US-event and Allawi shouldn't give it credence.

    Allawi has trusted the White House far too much.  He is the Al Gore of Iraq, the people's choice for leader who had the election stolen for him.  In 2000, the US Supreme Court stole the election on behalf of Bully Boy Bush.  In 2010, the White House stole the Iraqi election on behalf of Nouri al-Maliki.

    You sort of get the idea that if the US wanted any credibility with Allawi right now, they'd dispatch Al Gore to Iraq to commiserate in an "I feel you" conversation.

    Allawi's been loathe to criticize the White House for the same reason that Gore doesn't call out the Supreme Court -- it will be seen as whining.  But in this summer's interview with the BBC, prompted repeatedly, he was able to note that, yes, the White House broke their word.

    Why did they do it?

    The Erbil Agreement was made because Barack listened to idiots (including Samantha Power and Chris Hill) and refused to listen to Vice President Joe Biden who actually knew all about Nouri.  The argument was that with Nouri they could get what the US government wanted.  So they pushed for Nouri.  To get The Erbil Agreement signed by the leaders -- including Allawi -- they insisted it was legally binding.  They insisted that their promise in writing that Nouri gets a second term is as binding as Nouri's promises to them in writing -- in the same contract.  Furthermore, the contract -- they insisted -- had the full backing of the US.

    Nouri never lived up to any of his promises.  He has not implemented Article 140 of the Constitution (as the Kurds want -- and also as the Constitution requires him to do).  He's not created an independent national security commission.  He's not done any of it.

    And the White House doesn't give a damn.

    Let's go back to 2010 for a Guardian report by Martin Chulov:

    Barack Obama will today make a personal plea to Ayad Allawi to join a coalition government with his rival Nouri al-Maliki in a deal designed to end eight months of political deadlock in Iraq.
    The US president's intervention comes as fears grow among Iraqi leaders and US diplomats that Allawi – the leader of the bloc that won the most votes in March's election – will walk away from the government outlined by the Kurdish regional president, Masoud Barzani, today.
    Although Allawi is expected to let his followers take up positions in the new administration, his rejection of post would be a vote of no confidence in a deal described by the US as "a big step forward for Iraq".
    Until now, Obama has left efforts to bring about a power-sharing deal to his deputy, Joe Biden, who has made at least three trips to Iraq since the inconclusive election.

    The White House lied to Allawi.  Specifically, Barack lied to him.  They used him to give their illegal contract the air of legality and acceptance.

    Today they wanted to use him again.

    What struck me most about the BBC interview after Allawi's reluctance to name the US government as one of the betrayers (under pressure, he finally did) was how disappointed he still was by what took place.

    He was lied to and he was used.

    Attending today's event would have been embracing that all over again.

    The US Embassy organized the faux event with Brett McGurk acting as lead (and as usual, unable to keep his trap shut -- and somebody tell his latest wife that, true or false, there are rumors -- two reporters passed it on to me -- that his zipper's again come down).  The point was to create this 'reset' for Iraq that would have the press citing this non-event as a starting point and not the April event so many outlets are currently using.

    That would be the  April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported 53 dead for several days now -- indicating that some of the wounded did not recover.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

    The US State Dept ordered a re-set point to be established ahead of Nouri's expected visit to the White House later this month.  They really want the press focusing on this non-event, on this so-called peace conference (which accomplished nothing) as opposed to focusing on the massacre as Nouri and Barack pose together for pictures.

    Today's staged event wasn't about peace.  It wasn't about the Iraqi people.  It was about spiffing up Nouri before he hits the US so that Barack is protected.

    The smartest thing Ayad Allawi could have done was not participate in the farce.

     While not attending the meet-up, Allawi did Tweet:

    1. بعد التغيير بموروثه السياسي، وتعدديته الإجتماعية بحاجة لإرادة تنبثق عنها شراكة وطنية حقيقية لبناء المؤسسات
    2. With its vibrant society, needs real national power-sharing based on institution building.

    That's one example of how democracy was harmed in Iraq.  But how much harm has been done to democracy now that the Iraqi people see their own votes overturned by the White House?  We'll get a glimpse of how that may have impacted democracy's chances in Iraq early next year if parliamentary elections are held on time.

    Elections are taking place now in the KRG, provincial elections.  The three provinces of northern Iraq that make up the semi-autonomous KRG (Dohuk, Erbil and Sulaimaniya) actually started the vote today.  All Iraq News reports that this special day of voting for security forces (who will be working Saturday when the vote officially takes place) was supposed to end at 5:00 pm; however, the large turnout was something of a surprise and the Independent High Electoral Commission decided to extend the voting by one hour meaning that voting went on for 11 hours (from seven in the morning until six in the evening).  All Iraq News notes that, by noon, participation "in Erbil reached 58%" and 54% in Sulaimaniya.  AFP reports:

    The Sept. 21 vote is the first to be held in Kurdistan, a three-province autonomous region in north Iraq, in more than four years.
    It will see three main parties jostle for position in the Kurdish parliament, with long-term implications both domestically and farther afield. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of regional president Massud Barzani is widely expected to garner the largest number of seats.
    But the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which is in government with the KDP, faces a challenge from the Goran faction in its own backyard as it struggles with leadership questions as  its long-time chief Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president recovers in Germany from a stroke.

    The IHEC issued the following today:

    A delegation from the Human Rights Commission represented by the Members, Dr. Bushra al Obeidy and Dr. Fadel al Ghrawi visited on 11 September the Kurdistan Region Electoral Office (KREO) to discuss ways of cooperation between the two institutions since both institutions played a great role in supporting the democratic process in Iraq through the right of Iraqi citizen to live peacefully and participate in the elections
    The delegation was received by the IHEC Chief Electoral Officer, Mr. Mukdad al Sharify and the Board of Commissioners Members, Mr. Muhsen al Musawi and Mr. Wael al Waely
    The meeting was addressed also participation and accreditation of the Human Rights Commission as observers to monitor the upcoming parliamentary elections of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq scheduled on 21 September
    The IHEC has mobilized all its efforts for the success of the upcoming electoral process in the region

    AFP's Prashant Rao is in the KRG to report on the vote.  Today, he Tweeted:

    1. After nearly 4.5 years living in Iraq, somehow this is my first time in Arbil.
      1. I'm in Kurdistan to cover elections. For more regular Iraq news, make sure to follow 's and back in Baghdad.

    Press TV has a video report on the voting today here.

    Meanwhile,  Raja Abdulrahim (Los Angeles Times) reports:

    An Al Qaeda-linked group in Syria has seized control of a strategic town near the border with Turkey after clashing with fighters from the mainstream opposition Free Syrian Army, or FSA.
    The capture of Azaz puts the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria less than a mile from the Bab al-Salameh border crossing, which has been under opposition control for more than a year.

    This is exactly why you don't support the so-called 'rebels.' al Qaeda either is or is not a terrorist group.  The US government has maintained it is and that it is responsible for the attacks on the US in 2001.  That's not ancient history.  The White House does not need to be in bed with those who are supposed to be responsible for bringing down the Twin Towers.  But the White House is in bed with them.

    Albert Aji and Bassem Mroue (AP) add, "The U.S. and its European and Gulf allies are increasingly concerned about the rising prominence of Islamists among the rebels, who have been playing a major role in the battles against President Bashar Assad's forces." Way too late, as  Ruth Sherlock (Telegraph of London) explains, "The seizure of the town puts al-Qaeda in control of territory immediately adjoining a Nato country for the first time, a development that will heighten fears in the West about the rapidly growing power of jihadist groups within the rebellion against the Syrian regime."

    The US State Dept didn't hold a press briefing today -- apparently under the assumption that any of that clown might distract from the War Clown John Kerry's little event.  The Secretary of State continues to preach war on Syria.  And you wonder why I'm not noting FPIF and IPS with their stupid articles about how 'we won, no war on Syria!'  Are we really that stupid?  Or maybe just they are.  Syria is a target.  It remains one.  Kerry's remarks today make that clear (link is text and video):

    We really don’t have time today to pretend that anyone can have their own set of facts approaching the issue of chemical weapons in Syria. This fight about Syria’s chemical weapons is not a game. It’s real. It’s important. It’s important to the lives of people in Syria, it’s important to the region, it’s important to the world that this be enforced – this agreement that we came out of Geneva with. And for many weeks, we heard from Russia and from others, “Wait for the UN report. Those are the outside experts.” That’s a quote. “That is the independent gold standard.” That’s a quote.
    Well, despite the efforts of some to suggest otherwise, thanks to this week’s long-awaited UN report, the facts in Syria only grew clearer and the case only grew more compelling. 

    And that's about enough from him.  I love you as a person, John, but I'm having a real struggle with you as a politician right now as you lie and whore for war.

    It's also not a good day for John to be trumpeting 'facts' to the American people.  None of his 'facts' on Syria have yet to pan out.  He was ridiculed by everyone this month for his lie that he (and Chuck Hagel) had been against the Iraq War (both voted to authorize it, neither voted to end it).  And today, as al Qaeda makes its presence felt even stronger in Iraq, John wants to talk 'facts' again?

    Learn to seize your moment.  This was not John Kerry's day.  Events ensured that he would look like a liar (and on Syria, he is a liar, a big liar). Mitchell Prothero (McClatchy Newspapers) reports:

    This week’s takeover of Syrian rebel posts by al Qaida-linked fighters undercuts Secretary of State John Kerry’s assertion to Congress earlier this month that moderates make up the bulk of the guerrilla movement against President Bashar Assad’s regime and are growing stronger.
    Kerry told Congress that Islamist extremists make up only 15 to 25 percent of the rebels. But a closer examination of the composition of fighting groups suggests that his figure is low.
    Charles Lister, an analyst for IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center in Great Britain, circulated a study this week that showed that al Qaida-linked fighters and “hard-line Islamists” who coordinate closely with them number more than 40 percent of the anti-Assad forces. “Genuine moderates, with a distinctly nationalist-secular outlook,” Lister said, account for 20 to 25 percent of the estimated 100,000 anti-Assad fighters.

    Read more here:

    Again, not the day for John to lecture about 'facts.'  And it's really past time he stopped being the skirt Barack hides behind.

    Today, after a semi-lengthy delay to take an official photo of the 113th Congress' House Veterans Affairs Committee, the Committee held a hearing.  Having sat through it, I'd like to cover it.  Maybe in tomorrow's snapshot.  I'd also like to get to David Swanson's radio program this week.  I also need to note a friend standing up to the war machine (while others present fawned).   And I sat through the Brooking event so I'd like to cover that.  There's not room for any of it today.  We do have to make room for an upcoming event because it's important to get the word out on it.  From Restore the Fourth:

     Join Restore the Fourth, Access, ACLU, Center for Democracy and Technology, Demand Progress, EFF, Fight for the Future, Free Press, reddit, Mozilla, Public Knowledge & More

    Stop Watching Us: A Rally Against The NSA's Mass Surveillance | Washington, DC 10/26

     The recent NSA revelations have laid it all out: The NSA is watching us online and on our phones. The NSA has corrupted security and cryptography, undermining the fabric of the Internet. Its overreaching surveillance is creating a climate of fear, chills free speech, and violates our basic human rights -- and it operates without any meaningful oversight.

    But a movement is building to change all this. And we're about to take the next step.
    On Saturday, October 26 — the 12th anniversary of the signing of the USA PATRIOT Act — thousands of people from across the political spectrum will unite in Washington, D.C. to proclaim: Enough is enough. Stop watching us.
    StopWatching.Us is a diverse coalition including more than 100 public advocacy organizations and companies from across ideological lines, including the ACLU, Access, Demand Progress, Electronic Frontier Foundation, FreedomWorks, Fight for the Future, Free Press, Mozilla, reddit, Restore the Fourth and Thoughtworks. This coalition is working to organize the biggest mass protest of the NSA’s surveillance programs to date. Will you join us?
    Hundreds of thousands of people have spoken out since the major NSA leaks began this June. More than 560,000 people took action at StopWatching.Us by signing our petition to the U.S. Congress. Dozens of members of Congress have introduced bills aimed at reining in the NSA, and hundreds of organizations and companies are uniting to end the NSA's unconstitutional surveillance.
    But we will only succeed if we take the next step and raise our voices.
    At the StopWatching.Us rally on October 26, we’ll remind our elected officials that they work for us, not the NSA. We are demanding a full Congressional investigation of America’s surveillance programs, reform to federal surveillance law, and accountability from public officials responsible for hiding this surveillance from lawmakers and the public. And we will personally deliver the half million petition signatures to Congress.
    This will be the biggest rally for privacy the U.S. has ever seen. Will you be there?





    mohammed tawfeeq 
     prashant rao
     sam dagher
    ben lando