War News for Wednesday, January 11, 2006
News coming out of Iraq appears to be slow these past days, this is due to the fact that Muslims around the world are just finishing their second day of Eid al-Adha and it may be the case that the insurgents, or more likely the reporters, are taking some time off for the religious holiday. Speaking of reporters in Iraq, how would you like to be sentenced to 30 years in prison for speaking your mind?
Reporters Without Borders released a bulletin today regarding the case of the arrested Kurdish writer, Dr. Kamal Sayid Qadir, who was sentenced for 30 years by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) for criticising key figures of the KDP leadership. Reporters Without Borders said: "We find it hard to believe that Iraq's Kurdish authorities can say this after just sentencing a lawyer to 30 years in prison for defamation. Only extremely repressive countries have recourse to such heavy sentences for so-called crimes of opinion."I'll put up a news post later.
Update 1: Looks like the insurgents haven't taken time off.
Bring 'em on: Three US soldiers killed by a roadside bomb in Fallujah
Update 2: Is this significant?
Via the Jerusalem Post
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has met radical Iraqi leader Muqtada al-Sadr in the firebrand Iraqi cleric's first major appearance on the regional scene, Saudi media and Iraqi officials said Wednesday.
State-run Saudi TV showed the US-allied monarch receiving the black bearded, anti-American al-Sadr at a reception held for Muslim dignitaries for the annual hajj pilgrimage.
"It was a good meeting and King Abdullah expressed (to al-Sadr) the kingdom's support for Iraq's national unity," one Iraqi official attending the hajj said condition of anonymity as he was unauthorized to speak to the media. Federalism still on track
: The most influential politician in Iraq today issued a veiled warning to Sunni Arabs that Shiites would not allow substantive amendments to the country’s new constitution, including to the provision that keeps the central government weak in favour of strong provincial governments. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, said in an address in honour of the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha that provincial governments would remain strong in the constitution, which can be amended for four months after the next government is installed. “The first principle is not to change the essence of the constitution. This constitution was endorsed by the Iraqi people,” he said.
Update 3: The Money Game:
Tax Increases Coming
The Bush administration's upcoming budget blueprint for the U.S. government will "tighten the belt," White House chief of staff Andrew Card said on Wednesday.
Speaking to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Card gave no budget details in a speech that was short on particulars and long on reminders that the country was at war and that sacrifices were required. He also spoke mysteriously about a "dark cloud that seems to be gathering around the political world" but did not explain.
Meanwhile Paul Craig Roberts has this to say
President George W. Bush has destroyed America's economy along with America's reputation as a truthful, compassionate, peace-loving nation that values civil liberties and human rights.
Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard University budget expert Linda Bilmes have calculated the cost to Americans of Bush's Iraq war to be between one and two trillion dollars. This figure is 5 to 10 times higher than the $200 billion that Bush's economic adviser, Larry Lindsey, estimated. Lindsey was fired by Bush, because Lindsey's estimate was three times higher than the $70 billion figure that the Bush administration used to mislead Congress and the American voters about the burden of the war. You can't work in the Bush administration unless you are willing to lie for dub-ya.
Americans need to ask themselves if the White House is in competent hands when a $70 billion war becomes a $2 trillion war. Bush sold his war by understating its cost by a factor of 28.57. Any financial officer any where in the world whose project was 2,857 percent over budget would instantly be fired for utter incompetence.
Bush's war cost almost 30 times more than he said it would because the moronic neoconservatives that he stupidly appointed to policy positions told him the invasion would be a cakewalk. Neocons promised minimal US casualties. Iraq already has cost 2,200 dead Americans and 16,000 seriously wounded--and Bush's war is not over yet. The cost of lifetime care and disability payments for the thousands of US troops who have suffered brain and spinal damage was not part of the unrealistic rosy picture that Bush painted.
Dr. Stiglitz's $2 trillion estimate is OK as far as it goes. But it doesn't go far enough. My own estimate is a multiple of Stiglitz's.
Opinion and Commentary
Whatever Washington and London may say to justify the overthow of Saddam Hussein, the inescapable conclusion is that Iraq is today a “failed state”. Such is the main result of the illegal war, launched in March 2003 on the basis of lies and forgeries, and which shows no sign of ending.
History will almost certainly record that President George W Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair are responsible for one of the biggest — possibly criminal — blunders in the modern history of their respective countries. If there were any justice in this world, they would be put on trial to account for their actions.
What does a “failed state” mean in practice?
It means that Iraq has become a lawless country, broken up on ethnic lines, ruled by violent militias, without an effective central government, without a national army, and without any agreement among its citizens regarding the identity, cohesion or future governance of their state.
It also means that, in such a “failed state”, non-state actors, such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaida, find the freedom to operate. There is talk of the “Talibanisation” of Iraq, of the country becoming a breeding ground for extremism and terror, which could spill over its frontiers and infect its neighbours.
Iraq is also a country under foreign military occupation, with no realistic prospect of the occupation ending in the very near future. In fact, Iraq is trapped in a dilemma. Bush and Blair say they will withdraw their troops when the Iraqis are strong enough to keep order on their own, but the longer the occupation lasts, the less likely it is that a legitimate Iraqi government will emerge and win wide support.
The elections last December 15 were hailed in some quarters as the first step towards creating a peaceful, united and democratic Iraq. The continuing daily slaughter of innocent Iraqis and the lack of any spirit of compromise between the leaders of the various communities tell a different story.
The survival of the present interim government seems to depend on the protection of foreign forces. The same would apply to any government formed as a result of the current rounds of fierce bargaining.
The question, therefore, is not whether a “new” Iraq is rising from the ashes but rather whether worse times are still to come. Some observers fear the outbreak of a civil war. Others claim that the guerrilla attacks, the kidnappings, killings and “ethnic cleansing” taking place on a daily basis mean that a civil war has already begun.TV Review:- Iraq the Bloody Circus
Over here in the UK the TV channel More4 (the uppity sibling of Channel 4) is showing a number of interesting documentaries on Iraq under the title “Iraq The Bloody Circus”. I watched Peter Oborne’s programme last night and it was highly revealing as to what is happening on the ground at this very moment. A few salient points from the programme were:
1 American and British forces have more or less given up control of huge sways Iraq over to the radical religious fundamentalist groups; who are now effectively policing the Iraq towns and cities. The upside to this that much of the insurgency action has tailed off, the downside of this is that Religious law is being implemented. We know what that means, Iran MkII.
2 The recent Iraq elections were nothing more than media events for the consumption of the American news and the general pubic. The true meaning of them on the ground is meaningless. The Tribal, religious leaders are the ones charge and no one elected them.
3 Oborne interviewed a young US Army intelligence officer and asked him what he would do if he come across Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr who is in effective control of large portion of the south- and just happens to be wanted for murder. The officer smiled and said he would do “nothing” when Oborne pressed him on why, the poor guy grinned and said there had been a deal cut “higher up” that Sadr wouldnt be arrested. He then shifted uncomfortably and said that they/he shouldnt really be talking about that like oops I’ve said too much.
4 Iraq is falling under the infulence of Iran. Richard “Face of Darkness” Perle appeared from the bowels of hell to belligerently say that Iraq would not go the way of Iran. Oborne then proceeded to show that Perle is a deluded wanker, see point 2.
Its pity these shows are on the less well known Channel, I hope they get repeated on the main Channel 4 in the future, if only to hear the sound of Freeper heads exploding. You can see some of the clips from the shows via the site. The Exit PR Game
Iraq's armed national resistance is willing to support an honorable American troop withdrawal and recognize "the interests of the US as a superpower," according to a Baghdad source with intimate knowledge of the insurgents. He was interviewed this week in Amman, where he had driven twenty hours from Baghdad for conversations.
I interviewed this source, who insisted on anonymity, to explore the political aims of the resistance movement against the US occupation. Is theirs only a decentralized military strategy, or is there a shared set of demands that might lead to peace? The source, who is known and respected by several American media outlets, comes from one of Baghdad's once-mixed neighborhoods of Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds and Christians. In his mid-40s, he ekes out a living as a guide and translator for visiting reporters and occasional peace activists. The source spoke with urgency about the need for greater American understanding of the Iraqi resistance, so far faceless in the West.
While recent surveys show 80 percent of Iraqis supporting a US military withdrawal, opposition voices are rarely ever reported in American public discourse. Security conditions do not permit the insurgents to establish an overt political arm, like Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, American officials celebrate the large Iraqi voter turnout in the December 15 elections while not acknowledging that most of those same voters favor a US withdrawal. Instead of heeding the Iraqi majority, Newsweek reported that American military officials accused the insurgents of "cynically using the election process" in a new strategy they called "talk and fight."
The United States can be accused of the same designs, continuing its air war and offensive ground operations while attempting to co-opt local insurgents into an alliance with the "coalition" (a k a "occupation") forces against the jihadists linked with Abu Musab al- Zarqawi. The "sticking point" in this US gambit is the insurgents' demand for a timetable for US troop withdrawal. If the United States secretly decides to withdraw, which is a distinctly remote scenario, an "invitation" might be arranged with a red carpet and flowers. Otherwise, the insurgency will continue to develop in response to the occupation.