Friday, August 26, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Muammar Gaddafi vanishes after promising to fight to the death. Isn't that just what Saddam Hussein did? And of course, when Saddam disappeared and US troops suffered the very first losses from the Iraqi insurgency in 2003, we were told – by the US proconsul Paul Bremer, the generals, diplomats and the decaying television "experts" – that the gunmen of the resistance were "die-hards", "dead-enders" who didn't realise that the war was over. And if Gaddafi and his egg-headed son remain at large – and if the violence does not end – how soon will we be introduced once more to the "dead-enders" who simply will not understand that the lads from Benghazi are in charge and that the war is over? Indeed, within 15 minutes – literally – of my writing the above words (2pm yesterday), a Sky News reporter had re-invented "die-hards" as a definition for Gaddafi's men. See what I mean?
Needless to say, all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds as far as the West is concerned. No one is disbanding the Libyan army and no one is officially debarring the Gaddafi-ites from a future role in their country. No one is going to make the same mistakes we made in Iraq. And no boots are on the ground. No walled-off, sealed-in Green Zone Western zombies are trying to run the future Libya. "It's up to the Libyans," has become the joyful refrain of every State Department/ Foreign Office/Quai d'Orsay factotum. Nothing to do with us!
But, of course, the massive presence of Western diplomats, oil-mogul representatives, highly paid Western mercenaries and shady British and French servicemen – all pretending to be "advisers" rather than participants – is the Benghazi Green Zone.
Barack's Libyan War is like an old fashioned cake put in an oven but, oops, there was a loud noise and now it's fallen flat.
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
And go into the archives and you'll see that we warned in real time that the Republicans were going on the record in their objection to Hill but they wanted the Dems to push it (which the Dems did) because Hill was going to be the fall guy for the administration. The Republicans never intended to blame General Ray Odierno for a worsening Iraq. It wouldn't go over with their base. But a diplomat? Someone they could dub an "egg head"? Especially someone who looked the part?
I hear alternate theories from friends in the administration but one that seems very popular is that Barack had to continue the Iraq War ('somewhat') because if he just pulled the troops out (as many Americans believed he promised when running for president) and it went to hell, he would be blamed.
Geneva/Baghdad (ICRC) – Women in Iraq who must shoulder the burden of caring for their families alone because their husbands have been killed, arrested or disabled by war injuries, or have gone missing, are among those worst affected by the consequences of years of armed conflict. While recognizing the efforts that have already been undertaken to improve their situation, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) calls for further action to be taken on the part of all concerned.
"Women heading households and their dependents have to struggle with extremely harsh living conditions," said Magne Barth, the head of the ICRC delegation in Baghdad, at a press conference today in the Iraqi capital. He presented the results of a survey carried out by the ICRC to acquire a better understanding of the state of Iraqi women supporting their families alone. The survey involved interviews with 119 women and depicted the hard choices they have to make in order to feed their families in the absence of a husband, father or brother. The ICRC also released a film today that highlights the difficulties the women have to face.
"Around 70 per cent of them spend more than they earn. They have to borrow money, sell what little they own and avoid expenses by going without health care or by taking their children out of school," said Mr Barth. "Moreover, 40 per cent of the families we surveyed have to send children, usually sons as young as 12 or 13 years old, out to work."
An estimated one million women struggle to feed their families and continue to depend, to some extent, on outside help. The ICRC strives to help them overcome the loss of a former breadwinner. In particular, it aids them in their efforts to register with Iraq's welfare allowance system. "Since 2009, the ICRC has reimbursed the travel expenses incurred by nearly a thousand women, mainly in Baghdad and Anbar, but also in Basra and Missan, when they had to gather the various documents required to apply for the allowance," said Mr Barth. "Around 6,000 more women will be given financial support this year and next to tide them over until they start to receive benefits from the social welfare system."
"We also offer micro grants to those willing to start an income-generating activity," he said. "However, the grants cannot meet all needs, and not all women are able to launch a small business."
The ICRC supports all efforts aiming to improve the situation of women heading households. It will continue to assist the women and others involved in helping them.
For further information, please contact:
Claire Kaplun (French, English, Spanish), ICRC Iraq, tel: +964 780 913 1626
Marie Claire Feghali (Arabic, English, French), ICRC Iraq, tel: +962 777 399 614
Hicham Hassan, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 41 or +41 79 536 92 57
"Allegedly" because, as the world watches the blood lust and bragging from the Turkish military, it gets a bit difficult to believe this is really about the PKK, especially when the Turkish government's well known animosity to and fear of the Kurdistan Regional Government is factored in. For years the government of Turkey has brutalized and attaked their own Kurdish population (that was what birthed the PKK) and kept the minority population down. But birth rates -- ask Israel -- can turn a minority into an equal or even the majority. And the government of Turkey fears the semi-autonomous KRG region and fears it becoming more independent because it might force the Kurds within Turkey to truly rise up against a government that has racistly attacked them over the years and who, now, after years of abuse can only point to the just started TV broadcast in Kurdish as proof of 'advancement' and 'progress.'
When you fear and possibly loathe a region that's close to your border, maybe you indiscriminately bomb the hell out of it to get it further away from your border?
As 9 deaths continue to result in carpet bombing, people begin to wonder if the point really isn't to push the residents of the mountains of northern Iraq further and further in to the country, further away from Turkey in the hope that, 'out of sight, out of mind,' they won't inspire the Kurds within Turkey to demand equality.
Alexander Christie-Miller (Christian Science Monitor) observes:
The assault comes amid rising tensions [within Turkey] between the Turkish government and the country's Kurdish minority since June elections. Candidates backed by the Kurds, who make up almost a fifth of Turkey's population, performed well in the poll, garnering 36 seats. But after some members of parliament were barred because of PKK-related convictions, the Kurdish bloc boycotted parliament – a boycott that is still in effect.
In recent years Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has repeatedly said it plans to redress the long-running grievances of the country's 15 million Kurds, who are seeking greater cultural and political autonomy. Among other initiatives, the government has loosened restrictions on the use of the Kurdish language, launching a Kurdish state TV channel.
Along with the Turkish military, northern Iraq is also being assaulted by the Iranian military. Patrick Markey (Reuters) informs, "Along the Iraqi northern Kurdish region's borders with Iran and Turkey, hundreds of refugees have fled since mid-July to small camps to escape attacks by Iraq's neighbours on rebels hiding along the frontier in their long war for Kurdish self-rule. Iraqi Kurds say they are caught in the middle as Turkey and Iran attack their villages across the border while Ankara and Tehran court their local government with foreign investment that has helped make the Kurdish region the most stable part of Iraq." I don't think it's quibbling to dispute Markey's word choice of "hundreds of refugees have fled" because one of the largest objections to the bombings is that it is creating refugees. Refugees did not flee, refugees were created. The hundreds fleeing were fleeing their homes, were hoping to escape to safety. They became refugees as a result of the actions of the military of Turkey and the military of Iran.
And someone needs to point out that the last thing Iraq needs at this late date is even more internal and external refugees. They are the site of the refugee crisis in the Middle East already.
How bad are the attacks? Alsumaria TV reports, "Sadr Front leader Moqtada Al Sadr called on Tuesday to put in place an immediate political solution to overcome the violations of neighbouring countries in northern Iraq and dispatch a delegation to Iran to end this issue. Al Sadr renounces any attack by any country on Iraqi territories and refuses to use Iraqi territories to launch attacks against other countries." Today's Zaman notes that "Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said on Tuesday that his government condemns both the Turkish and Iranian attacks along the border." David R. Arnott (MSNBC) notes that media attention has focused elsewhere while northern Iraq has been bombed and Arnott provides various photos from Reuters and AFP including the first photo which of Kurdish women in Rainia mourning the deaths of the civilians on Sunday.