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Tag Archives: Iraq

Deadly Protests in Iraq Push Country to Brink of Revolution, by Middle East Eye

Iraq is yet another shining success for the neoconservative vision of the Middle East. From Middle East Eye at theantimedia.org:

Major protests were set to take place across Iraq on Friday as anger continued to mount over power cuts, unemployment and water shortages in the south, as well as the heavy-handed government response to demonstrations.

Protesters attempted to gather in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, as well as in public spaces across the country, as a mounting death toll and reports of arbitrary arrests by security forces and militias stoked resentment.

Thousands gathered in Nasiriyah, Dhi Qar province, which has been a hotspot for protests in the south. Placards and Twitter hashtags referred to a “hunger revolution”.

At least 16 people have been killed and hundreds wounded and arrested since protests began less than two weeks ago in Basra over power cuts and high water salination.

 

Some activists have put the death toll much higher, but repeated government shutdowns of the internet have made documenting the violence difficult. The Ministry of Defence has claimed that 274 security personnel have been injured.

In a statement on Friday, military spokesperson Brigadier General Yahya Rasool said that the “right to peaceful protest is guaranteed by the Iraqi constitution” and that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had “instructed the security forces to facilitate and protect peaceful protests”.

However, the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights said on Friday that 336 people had been arrested and then released during the protests in the south.

Amnesty International quoted sources in Baghdad saying that protesters were being “beaten and killed” under the cover of the internet blackouts.

“Deliberately disabling the internet is a sinister restriction to the right to freedom of expression and strongly indicates that the authorities have something to hide,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, in a statement on Thursday.

“We fear this blackout is deliberately designed to give carte blanche to the security forces to repress peaceful activists without being recorded and held accountable.”

To continue reading: Deadly Protests in Iraq Push Country to Brink of Revolution

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Middle East Alliances, Old and New, by Rebecca Gordon

A review of US policies and wars in the Middle East, and it’s not very pretty. From Rebecca Gordon at tomdispatch.com:

My father and I always had a tacit agreement: “We will never speak of That Part of the World.” He’d grown up in an Orthodox Jewish family in Norfolk, Virginia. His own father, a refugee from early-twentieth-century pogroms in what is now Ukraine, had been the president of his local Zionist organization. A liberal in most things (including his ardent opposition to both of the U.S. wars against Iraq), my father remained a Zionist to his dying day. We both knew that if we were ever to have a real conversation about Israel/Palestine, unforgivable things would be said.

As a child in the 1950s, I absorbed the ambient belief that the state of Israel had been created after World War II as an apology gift from the rest of the world to European Jews who had survived the Holocaust. I was raised to think that if the worst were to happen and Jews were once again to become targets of genocidal rage, my family could always emigrate to Israel, where we would be safe. As a young woman, I developed a different (and, in retrospect, silly) line on That Part of the World: there’s entirely too much sun there, and it’s made them all crazy.

It wasn’t until I’d reached my thirties that I began to pay serious attention to the region that is variously known as the Middle East, the Arab world, or the Greater Middle East and North Africa. And when I did, I discovered how deep my ignorance (like that of so many fellow Americans) really was and how much history, geography, and politics there is to try to understand. What follows is my attempt to get a handle on how the Trump presidency has affected U.S. policy and actions in That Part of the World.

Old Alliances…

The United States has a long-standing and deep alliance with Israel. During the Cold War, Washington viewed that country as its bulwark in the oil-rich region against both a rising pan-Arab nationalism and real or imagined Soviet encroachments. In fact, according to the Library of Congress’s Congressional Research Service, “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $134.7 billion current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding.”

To continue reading: Middle East Alliances, Old and New

 

War Doesn’t Make Sense Anymore, by Tom Streithorst

Any defenders of the US warfare state who wish to answer the following question, write to your heart’s content in the comment section below. The question: what has been the purpose of the last seventy years of US warfare? From Tom Streithorst at theamericanconservatie.com:

It’s become obsolete, the days of conquest are behind us, yet the military-industrial complex grinds on all the same.

America spends more on its military than all its enemies put together yet it still can’t win wars. Failed adventures in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan have drained America’s power and diminished its prestige. The bloated Pentagon budget actually makes us weaker.

Here’s the weird bit: nobody seems to care. If any other government department spent as much and accomplished as little, the populace would be in arms, complaining about wasteful government spending. Instead we mumble “Thank you for your service” and increase defense appropriations.

War has always been brutal and destructive, but once upon a time it had a purpose. William of Normandy invaded Britain knowing victory would make him rich beyond dreams of avarice. Soldiers followed Genghis Khan, Hernan Cortes, and Napoleon Bonaparte for the opportunity to steal gold, land, or slaves from their defeated enemies. Loot captured in war could transform a man’s life, give him the money he needed to buy land or start a business. For thousands of years, the opportunities inherent in battle gave many men their only chance to escape their impoverished origins. Success in war could turn a brigand into a king.

Today it is trade and technology, not conquest, that makes us rich. It is a cliché of the left that America went to war in Iraq to take their oil. This is a serious misreading of history. For one thing, had George W. Bush told Saddam to either share his oil wealth with ExxonMobil or face invasion, Saddam would have certainly complied. For another, Korean, Russian, Angolan, and Chinese companies all control more Iraqi oil fields today than do American firms. Had we gone to war to steal Iraqi oil, we might have done a better job of it.

At least in the developed West, conquest is profitable no more. This has been true for over a century. Back in 1910, Norman Angell wrote “The Great Illusion,” a pamphlet proclaiming that war was obsolete. He noted that the intertwined nature of the global economy made war almost as destructive to the victor as the vanquished. Should they go to war, Angell observed, Germany and England would be slaughtering potential clients, not capturing prospective slaves. And victory in the Franco-Prussian War hadn’t made Germany richer: “When Germany annexed Alsatia, no individual German secured Alsatian property as the spoils of war.”

To continue reading: War Doesn’t Make Sense Anymore

Iraq Protesters Storm Airport, Oil Offices Amidst Energy Crisis; Foreign Companies Begin Evacuations, by Tyler Durden

Fifteen years after the US invasion, Iraq still has a way to go before it becomes a model Middle East democracy. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Widespread protests have gripped multiple Iraqi cities for a week in response to government corruption, rising unemployment, and an electricity shortage which has left residents suffocating in soaring summer temperatures. 

What began as anger over a continued failing infrastructure, however, has increasingly turned into political protests and clashes with police after May 12th parliamentary elections tainted by broad allegations of fraud failed to produce a new government.

And now Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has weighed in publicly on the side of the protesters, stating they are facing an “extreme lack of public services”.

Sistani’s words were issued via live television broadcast during a significant escalation in the Shia hotbed of Najaf on Friday, where hundreds of protesters stormed the city’s international airport, bringing air traffic to a halt.

Video showed demonstrators rushing through security barriers while chanting demands, and multiple fires were lit just outside the terminal. Iraqi police appear to have held back, as the protesters numbers were significant — possibly into the thousands according to social media footage — and were able to block key access points to the airport. State TV reported that security was restored and operations resumed as normal by late Friday.

Though sporadic protests over the country’s failing electricity grid have been ongoing throughout the summer, last weekend witnessed the first significant clashes with security forces in the southern city of Basra, resulting in an least one death. And this weekend’s clashes appear to be escalating with at least two more deaths reported in Amara, the capital of the Maysan province on the border with Iran.

In response, Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi reportedly held an emergency homeland security cabinet meeting Friday and personally went to the restive southern city of Basra to address and attempt to calm the current unrest.

To continue reading: Iraq Protesters Storm Airport, Oil Offices Amidst Energy Crisis; Foreign Companies Begin Evacuations

Sen. Paul to Hold Hearing on ‘Unauthorized War’s Effect on Federal Spending’, by Daniel McAdams

Those unauthorized wars have been a big ticket indeed. Perhaps more essential than an accounting of those costs is how the US can fight unauthorized (by Congress) wars in the first place. From Daniel McAdams at ronpaulinstitute.org:

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Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) announced today that on Wednesday, June 6th, he will be holding a hearing on the enormous costs of the endless wars which continue to be fought under the 2001 Congressional Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed after the 9/11 attacks.

According to a press release from Paul’s office, the hearing “will explore both the financial impact and the constitutional implications of open-ended war under the existing Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and examine the potential ramifications if Congress adopts the revised AUMF proposed by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Tim Kaine (D-VA).”

Unlike the great majority of Congressional hearings, Paul’s line-up of witnesses actually promises to provide some serious debate and cogent analysis of the issue. Noted Constitutional scholars Judge Andrew Napolitano (a member of the Ron Paul Institute Board) and Professor Jonathan Turley will provide expert testimony. The two will be joined by Christopher Anders, Deputy Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.

The Corker/Kaine revised AUMF is sold as Congress finally waking up to its Constitutional war obligations, but as Sen. Paul has noted in a letter to his Senate colleagues, “it is clear upon reading that the Kaine/Corker AUMF gives nearly unlimited power to this or any President to be at war anywhere, anytime and against anyone, with minimal justification and no prior specific authority.”

By many estimates, Iraq and Afghanistan alone have cost the American taxpayer close to $3 trillion with no end in sight and no “victory” in sight. That does not include money spent to overthrow and murder Libya’s Gaddafi, to raise an army of jihadists to overthrow Assad in Syria, and to expand the US military presence to 50 out of 53 African countries. And, of course, to backstop Saudi Arabia’s genocide in Yemen.

Sen. Paul’s hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management will take place on June 6th at 2:30 p.m. eastern time in SD-342, Dirksen Senate Office Building.

http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/congress-alert/2018/june/04/sen-paul-to-hold-hearing-on-unauthorized-war-s-effect-on-federal-spending/

Trump’s Plan for Iran: Put Terrorists in Charge, by Ron Paul

Regime change in Iran will build on the policy’s successes in Iraq, Syria, and Libya. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitutue.org:

Back in the 2008 presidential race, I explained to then-candidate Rudy Giuliani the concept of “blowback.” Years of US meddling and military occupation of parts of the Middle East motivated a group of terrorists to carry out attacks against the United States on 9/11. They didn’t do it because we are so rich and so free, as the neocons would have us believe. They came over here because we had been killing Muslims “over there” for decades.

How do we know this? Well, they told us. Osama bin Laden made it clear why al-Qaeda sought to attack the US. They didn’t like the US taking sides in the Israel-Palestine conflict and they didn’t like US troops on their holy land.

Why believe a terrorist, some responded. As I explained to Giuliani ten years ago, the concept of “blowback” is well-known in the US intelligence community and particularly by the CIA.

Unfortunately, it is clear that Giuliani never really understood what I was trying to tell him. Like the rest of the neocons, he either doesn’t get it or doesn’t want to get it. In a recent speech to the MeK – a violent Islamist-Marxist cult that spent two decades on the US terror watch list – Giuliani promised that the Trump Administration had made “regime change” a priority for Iran. He even told the members of that organization – an organization that has killed dozens of Americans – that Trump would put them in charge of Iran!

Giuliani shares with numerous other neocons like John Bolton a strong relationship with this group. In fact, both Giuliani and Bolton have been on the payroll of the MeK and have received tens of thousands of dollars to speak to their followers. This is another example of how foreign lobbies and special interest groups maintain an iron grip on our foreign policy.

Does anyone really think Iran will be better off if Trump puts a bunch of “former” terrorists in charge of the country? How did that work in Libya?

It’s easy to dismiss the bombastic Giuliani as he speaks to his financial benefactors in the MeK. Unfortunately, however, Giuliani’s claims were confirmed late last week, when the Washington Free Beacon published a three-page policy paper being circulated among National Security Council officials containing plans to spark regime change in Iran.

To continue reading: Trump’s Plan for Iran: Put Terrorists in Charge

Coming Attraction: Lunatic Loose in West Wing, by Ray McGovern

Ray McGovern recounts his history with John Bolton. From McGovern at consortiumnews.com:

As Uber-Hawk John Bolton prepares to take over as national security adviser on Monday, Ray McGovern looks back at when Bolton was one of the “crazies” in the George W. Bush administration.

John Bolton’s March 22 appointment-by-tweet as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser has given “March Madness” a new and ominous meaning.  There is less than a week left to batten down the hatches before Bolton makes U.S. foreign policy worse that it already is.

During a recent interview with The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill  (minutes 35 to 51) I mentioned that Bolton fits seamlessly into a group of take-no-prisoners zealots once widely known in Washington circles as “the crazies,” and now more commonly referred to as “neocons.”

Beginning in the 1970s, “the crazies” sobriquet was applied to Cold Warriors hell bent on bashing Russians, Chinese, Arabs — anyone who challenged U.S. “exceptionalism” (read hegemony).  More to the point, I told Scahill that President (and former CIA Director) George H. W. Bush was among those using the term freely, since it seemed so apt.  I have been challenged to prove it.

I don’t make stuff up.  And with the appointment of the certifiable Bolton, the “the crazies” have become far more than an historical footnote.  Rather, the crucible that Bush-41 and other reasonably moderate policymakers endured at their hands give the experience major relevance today.  Thus, I am persuaded it would be best not to ask people simply to take my word for it when I refer to “the crazies,” their significance, and the differing attitudes the two Bushes had toward them.

George H. W. Bush and I had a longstanding professional and, later, cordial relationship.  For many years after he stopped being president, we stayed in touch — mostly by letter.  This is the first time I have chosen to share any of our personal correspondence.  I do so not only because of the ominous importance of Bolton’s appointment, but also because I am virtually certain the elder Bush would want me to.

Scanned below is a note George H. W. Bush sent me eight weeks before his son, egged on by the same “crazies” his father knew well from earlier incarnations, launched an illegal and unnecessary war for regime change in Iraq — unleashing chaos in the Middle East.

To continue reading: Coming Attraction: Lunatic Loose in West Wing

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