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Category Archives: Iraq

Iraq not to allow “Israel” use its airspace for strike on Iran: Official

Press TV

Iraq has warned Israel against the consequences of using its airspace to carry out a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

“They (Americans) have assured us that they will never violate Iraqi airspace or Iraqi sovereignty by using our airspace to attack any of our neighbors,” Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani said on Monday.

“We have also warned Israel that if they violate Iraqi airspace, they will have to bear the consequences,” he added.

Shahristani noted that Iraq’s National Security Council has passed its warning to Israel “through countries that they have relations with.”

Asked how Iraq would react to any Israeli attempt to attack Iran’s atomic sites, Shahristani said, “Obviously, Iraq wouldn’t be disclosing its reaction, to allow Israel to take that into account.”

The US, Israel and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program, with the Israeli regime repeatedly threatening to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities based on the unfounded allegation.

On April 16, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee adopted “Senate Resolution 65,” according to which the US will provide the Israeli regime with diplomatic, economic and military assistance if Tel Aviv decides to launch an attack against Iran.

The resolution, which was adopted on the day marking the 65th anniversary of the creation of the Israeli regime, is yet to be approved by the US Senate…

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From Iraq, a tragic reminder to prosecute the war criminals

(Iraqi cancer patient- file photo)

by John Pilger

The dust in Iraq rolls down the long roads that are the desert’s fingers. It gets in your eyes and nose and throat; it swirls in markets and school playgrounds, consuming children kicking a ball; and it carries, according to Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, “the seeds of our death”. An internationally respected cancer specialist at the Sadr Teaching Hospital in Basra, Dr. Ali told me that in 1999, and today his warning is irrefutable. “Before the Gulf war,” he said, “we had two or three cancer patients a month. Now we have 30 to 35 dying every month. Our studies indicate that 40 to 48 per cent of the population in this area will get cancer: in five years’ time to begin with, then long after. That’s almost half the population. Most of my own family have it, and we have no history of the disease. It is like Chernobyl here; the genetic effects are new to us; the mushrooms grow huge; even the grapes in my garden have mutated and can’t be eaten.”

Along the corridor, Dr. Ginan Ghalib Hassen, a paediatrician, kept a photo album of the children she was trying to save. Many had neuroplastoma. “Before the war, we saw only one case of this unusual tumour in two years,” she said. “Now we have many cases, mostly with no family history. I have studied what happened in Hiroshima. The sudden increase of such congenital malformations is the same.”

Among the doctors I interviewed, there was little doubt that depleted uranium shells used by the Americans and British in the Gulf War were the cause. A US military physicist assigned to clean up the Gulf War battlefield across the border in Kuwait said, “Each round fired by an A-10 Warhog attack aircraft carried over 4,500 grams of solid uranium. Well over 300 tons of DU was used. It was a form of nuclear warfare.”

Although the link with cancer is always difficult to prove absolutely, the Iraqi doctors argue that “the epidemic speaks for itself”. The British oncologist Karol Sikora, chief of the cancer programme of the World Health organisation (WHO) in the 1990s, wrote in the British Medical Journal: “Requested radiotherapy equipment, chemotherapy drugs and analgesics are consistently blocked by United States and British advisers [to the Iraq Sanctions Committee].” He told me, “We were specifically told [by the WHO] not to talk about the whole Iraq business. The WHO is not an organisation that likes to get involved in politics.”

Recently, Hans von Sponeck, the former assistant secretary general of the United Nations and senior UN humanitarian official in Iraq, wrote to me: “The US government sought to prevent WHO from surveying areas in southern Iraq where depleted uranium had been used and caused serious health and environmental dangers.”

Today, a WHO report, the result on a landmark study conducted jointly with the Iraqi Ministry of Health has been “delayed”. Covering 10,800 households, it contains “damning evidence”, says a ministry official and, according to one of its researchers, remains “top secret”. The report says that birth defects have risen to a “crisis” right across Iraqi society where DU and other toxic heavy metals were by the US and Britain. Fourteen years after he sounded the alarm, Dr. Jawad Al-Ali reports “phenomenal” multiple cancers in entire families.

Iraq is no longer news. Last week, the killing of 57 Iraqis in one day was a non-event compared with the murder of a British soldier in London. Yet the two atrocities are connected. Their emblem might be a lavish new movie of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Two of the main characters, as Fitzgerald wrote, “smashed up things and creatures and retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness… and let other people clean up the mess”.

The “mess” left by George Bush and Tony Blair in Iraq is a sectarian war, the bombs of 7/7 and now a man waving a bloody meat cleaver in Woolwich. Bush has retreated back into his Mickey Mouse “presidential library and museum” and Tony Blair into his jackdaw travels and his money.

Their “mess” is a crime of epic proportions, wrote Von Sponeck, referring to the Iraqi Ministry of Social Affairs’ estimate of 4.5 million children who have lost both parents. “This means a horrific 14 per cent of Iraq’s population are orphans,” he wrote. “An estimated one million families are headed by women, most of them widows”. Domestic violence and child abuse are rightly urgent issues in Britain; in Iraq the catastrophe ignited by Britain has brought violence and abuse into millions of homes.

In her book ‘Dispatches from the Dark Side’, Gareth Peirce, Britain’s greatest human rights lawyer, applies the rule of law to Blair, his propagandist Alastair Campbell and his colluding cabinet. For Blair, she wrote, “human beings presumed to hold [Islamist] views, were to be disabled by any means possible, and permanently… in Blair’s language a ‘virus’ to be ‘eliminated’ and requiring ‘a myriad of interventions [sic] deep into the affairs of other nations.'” The very concept of war was mutated to “our values versus theirs”. And yet, says Peirce, “the threads of emails, internal government communiques reveal no dissent”.

For Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, sending innocent British citizens to Guantanamo was “the best way to meet our counter terrorism objective”. These crimes, their iniquity on a par with Woolwich, await prosecution. But who will demand it? In the kabuki theatre of Westminster politics, the faraway violence of “our values” is of no interest. Do the rest of us also turn our backs?

Iraqi Shias, Sunnis hold unity prayers to dismiss violence

Press TV

Thousands of Iraqis have held unity prayers across the nation to show solidarity against attempts to push the country into sectarian strife.

The joint Shia-Sunni Friday Prayers came against the backdrop of growing anger countrywide over what Iraqi authorities, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, describe as attempts to sow sectarian strife.

On May 19, Maliki called on Iraqis to hold joint prayers every Friday in a bid to reduce violence after a series of terrorist attacks on Shia and Sunni holy sites across Iraq killed scores of people.

“Those who target mosques are enemies of Sunnis and Shias alike, and are planning to ignite (sectarian) strife,” Maliki said in a statement on Sunday.

More than 400 people have been killed in bombings and others acts of violence in Iraq since the start of May.

On May 21, at least 42 people were killed and many others injured in a series of terrorist attacks across Iraq. A day earlier, nearly 100 people were killed in multiple attacks.

The Iraqi premier has blamed militant groups and the remnants of the former Ba’athist regime for the violence. He has also accused some regional countries of fueling the violence in his country in a bid to topple the Iraqi government.

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said on May 2 that April was the deadliest month in Iraq since 2008 as terrorist attacks killed over 700 people and injured more than 1,600 others across the country.

UNAMI also stated that Baghdad was the worst affected governorate, with a total of 211 killed and nearly 500 injured.

US unveils Iraq WMD “Curveball-Style” lies vs. Syria

Building a Pretext to Wage War on Syria: As NATO Terror Front Collapses, US Drums Up Familiar WMD Lies

by Tony Cartalucci, source

The last two weeks have seen a series of victories for the Syrian Army across Syria. It appears that 2 full companies of so-called “Free Syrian Army” fighters have been annihilated near Damascus, while government forces have restored order in parts of Homs and along the previously porous Lebanese-Syrian border.

Time has run out for the West, and it appears that they are desperately seeking any excuse to rescue their failing proxy war. When urgent, but otherwise unjustified military intervention is needed, a “humanitarian” pretext is usually invented – as it was in Libya.

Failing that, as the West has already clearly done in Syria, an even more tenuous narrative has been resurrected from its well-earned grave. CNN has reported in their article, “Hagel: Evidence of chemical weapons use in Syria,” that:

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Thursday that the United States has evidence that chemical weapons have been used in Syria.

This comes a couple of days after an Israeli intelligence official said Damascus was using weapons banned under international law against its own people in the country’s civil war. Syria has said rebels have used chemical weapons.

U.S. President Barack Obama has said the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons against its own people in the country would be a “game changer.”

Astonishingly

, the West is attempting to repeat tales of “WMD’s” in Syria, just as it infamously did in Iraq. In the Washington Post’s “U.S. intelligence agencies: Assad used chemical weapons ‘on a small scale’,” the nature of this “evidence” is elaborated on (emphasis added):

Hagel said the intelligence agencies’ assessment was reached with “varying degrees of confidence,” meaning that they lacked proof or overwhelming evidence. He said the conclusion was “reached within the last 24 hours” and that the White House delivered a letter outlining the findings to Congress Thursday morning.

letter from the White House via the Washington Post exposed further just how tenuous the evidence actually is (emphasis added):

Our intelligence community does assess with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent sarin. This assessment is based in part on physiological samples. Our standard of evidence must build on these intelligence assessments as we seek to establish credible and corroborated facts. For example, the chain of custody is not clear, so we cannot confirm how the exposure occurred and under what conditions. We do believe that any use of chemical weapons in Syria would very likely have originated with the Assad regime.

Physiological samples indicating sarin – in other words – samples taken from people exposed to sarin, could have been produced in a number of ways. It is confirmed that Libya’s chemical weapon stockpiles included sarin and mustard gas. In the Washington Post’s 2011 “Libya’s poison gas unaffected by turmoil, official says,” it was stated:

Experts believe that Libya destroyed about 3,300 bombshells designed to carry mustard and sarin gas chemicals years ago, as part of its deal to end decades of economic and diplomatic isolation with the West.

But some 10 metric tons of mustard sulfate and sarin gas precursor remain stockpiled in barrels at three locations in the Libyan desert south of Tripoli, where Moammar Gaddafi has holed up in a last-ditch fight to keep from being overthrown.

Many experts worry that the barrels are ripe for picking by terrorists linked to al-Qaeda.

Of course, since 2011, it is now confirmed that the so-called “Libyan rebels” were actually Al Qaeda terrorists operating under the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) which has been confirmed to have subsequently traveled  to Syria to join Al Qaeda’s al-Nusra franchise in NATO’s proxy war there.

It is just as likely that NATO’s proxy forces brought along with them not only small arms and cash from Libya, but also heavier weapons, including possibly chemical weapons – and specifically – sarin and mustard gas.

Considering that the Syrian government knows the use of chemical weapons would basically hand the moral, strategic, and geopolitical initiative over to the West, and in light of its recent gains made using conventional weapons and tactics, it makes it all the more likely any real sarin to be found and used in Syria was the work of NATO proxies attempting to produce a plausible casus belli. Terrorists operating in Syria have already been caught using other chemical weapons.

And yet still, despite all of this doubt, the Western political establishment has hailed the so-called “findings” as the “game changer” required to green-light US military intervention.

Remember “Curveball” 

It is absolutely imperative to recall the propaganda campaign conducted prior to invading Iraq in 2003. Chemical weapons were also used as a pretext for an otherwise unjustified war. The “intelligence” used by Hagel’s predecessors was admittedly fabricated on-demand.

In the British Independent’s article, “Man whose WMD lies led to 100,000 deaths confesses all: Defector tells how US officials ‘sexed up’ his fictions to make the case for 2003 invasion,” it stated:

A man whose lies helped to make the case for invading Iraq – starting a nine-year war costing more than 100,000 lives and hundreds of billions of pounds – will come clean in his first British television interview tomorrow.

“Curveball”, the Iraqi defector who fabricated claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, smiles as he confirms how he made the whole thing up. It was a confidence trick that changed the course of history, with Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi’s lies used to justify the Iraq war.

He tries to defend his actions: “My main purpose was to topple the tyrant in Iraq because the longer this dictator remains in power, the more the Iraqi people will suffer from this regime’s oppression.”

We can already envision the establishment defending in hindsight its next “noble lie” to unseat “the tyrant in Syria.”

The Independent continues:

But Mr Janabi, speaking in a two-part series, Modern Spies, starting tomorrow on BBC2, says none of it was true. When it is put to him “we went to war in Iraq on a lie. And that lie was your lie”, he simply replies: “Yes.”

US officials “sexed up” Mr Janabi’s drawings of mobile biological weapons labs to make them more presentable, admits Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, General Powell’s former chief of staff. “I brought the White House team in to do the graphics,” he says, adding how “intelligence was being worked to fit around the policy”.

“How “intelligence was being worked to fit around the policy,” indeed is the most important aspect of the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, and is without doubt what is being done in Washington, Doha, Riyadh, and Tel Aviv in regards to Syria now.

The “Curveball-style” lies told about Iraq are now being repeated about Syria by an increasingly unhinged West who has tried every trick in the book, and is flipping back to the beginning to start over again. The question is, can the world afford to be led down this path again, knowing exactly where it ends? Nations and people outside the Wall Street-London international order are tasked with foiling this criminal war of aggression – unable this time to plead ignorance to the West’s true intentions.

‘US illegally obtained and kept thousands of Iraq’s cultural treasures’

Tank at the entrance of the Iraqi National Museum

One of the gravest casualties of the 10-year US-led war in Iraq is the destruction of the country’s cultural heritage, Iraqi archaeologist and architect Ihsan Fathi told RT.

On top of thousands of looted or illegally obtained cultural artifacts during the war, billions of dollars have also been transferred out of “Iraq’s Central banks to US without any paper trail.”

“I’m sure that everything that was stored in the Central and other banks was sent to the US without any documentation and now is kept in archives,” Fathi said. “Huge amounts of documents representing historical importance that cannot be assigned a monetary value were taken by the US.”

And all attempts to reclaim the country’s stolen treasures failed: “The Iraqi government was trying to get them back but the American Administration wanted to strike a deal and return only half of the documents,” he explained.

The Iraqi architect estimated there are about “35,000 small and large items missing from the National Museum of Iraq… The Iraqi museum, for example, was plundered before their very eyes. The plundering lasted for three days without the occupation forces stepping in at all.”

Also, in cities like Babylon artifacts were damaged after Polish troops took over the area and “used heavy armor, tanks and helicopters” for “construction work for their military infrastructure … and seriously damaged many archeological sites in the area.”

RT: Mr. Ihsan Fethi, you witnessed the looting of Iraqi cultural treasures. Everybody knows what was happening in Iraq after the American occupation. What will be the consequences of all this for Iraq’s culture?

Ihsan Fethi: As you know, our civilization originated on the territories where Iraq is now. We have historic landmarks that are over 10,000 years old. And everybody thinks that Iraq is responsible for preserving this cultural heritage. But unfortunately, Iraq is the world leader in having destruction visited on its historic sites. This destruction started during the Mongol invasion in 1258 and continued all the way to the 20th century, when the Iraqi state was formed. We’ve suffered great losses.

During the 1991 occupation, the Americans reached the suburbs of Hillah. Many of the museums in the city were looted, and the US forces just let that happened. But even more damage was done in 2003, when Iraq was occupied. I will not talk about the nature of that operation right now – whether that campaign was to liberate or occupy our country. It surprises me that some intellectuals in Iraq still refuse to call this campaign an occupation. The UN Security Council resolution #1483, passed on May 22, 2003, calls the international military contingency in Iraq occupying forces. This was the official status of the international coalition. This was an occupation.

Prior to the occupation a number of international organizations – including those for protection of archaeological sites which are responsible for preserving these very sites – had officially informed the USA and President Bush in particular, that as a consequence, the cultural and historical heritage of Iraq might be found in deplorable state. Among cultural advisers to President Bush there were four experts who were suggesting that the preservation of Iraqi historical and cultural landmarks should have been his priority task.

RTStill, the US allowed the looting of Iraqi historical landmarks, or maybe even gave a spur to this.  Can you tell us the exact number of looted sites if there is such information at all?

IF: This is a frequently asked question, too, and the answer is clear to me. People who were in charge of Iraqi museums didn’t have any detailed lists or catalogues that would enroll all cultural and historical monuments and antiquities. In particular, it refers to the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad, which is regarded as one of the world’s largest and most important museums. The museum items should have been inspected annually, but unfortunately, the inspection was either not carried out at all, or it was not full. That is why we can’t define the exact number of stolen artifacts. However, some experts tend to think that there are about 35,000 small and large items missing from the National Museum of Iraq.

RT: And they haven’t been regained, right?

IF: To our regret, only a small portion has been returned. Valuable artifacts are always looted when there is a conflict and the atmosphere of chaos reigns. And international experience has proven that at best only 10 percent of them are usually regained.

RT: The former regime is considered to have taken special care of rare gold artifacts and gold bars, which were of great importance. Were these items stolen, too? 

IF: A great number of gold artifacts and gold bars were kept in some palaces of the former president. This gold has been misappropriated. Iraqi authorities had no idea about the amount of the stolen antiquities. In addition, large amounts of currency have been also misappropriated. The country’s Central banks and other banks had accounted for billions of dollars, and now all these funds have been transferred to the USA without any paper trail.

And this does not refer only to the objects of value. They have also moved out of the country tons of documents that captured the history of Iraq. These documents are priceless. All that gold is nothing compared to those historical documents that are now locked up somewhere in a US archive. The government of Iraq has attempted to return these documents home, but the Americans are trying to make a deal here and offer to return only half of the documents. The reason they are giving is that they are trying to repair the documents from the presidential palace and Iraqi special services archives, but no one knows the true story behind this.

Also, a lot of documents have been moved from the Foreign Ministry and state security agencies to the US by Adnan Makiya, with the help of the occupation authorities – allegedly for the Iraq Memory Foundation. This operation had been planned long before the war. We have the information that these documents were sold to one of the American universities. Things like this should not be allowed to happen.

RT: Is it true that there are some valuable Jewish manuscripts among the misappropriated documents, including one of the oldest copies of Torah, which is now said to be in Israel?

IF: Yes, there are some documents in the stolen archives that belonged to Iraq’s Jewish community. Some of these centuries-old documents are now in the USA. According to international regulations, the occupation authorities have no right to move local cultural and material values. On the contrary, it is their duty to preserve these values. Iraq must insist on its right to recover all of the illegally moved objects, down to the very smallest ones.

RT: So, Iraq has lost some valuable pieces of its cultural heritage under the conniving eye of the occupational authorities. But is it possible, on the other hand, that the present-day level of culture in the Iraqi society is insufficient to address the task of preserving Iraq’s historical heritage?

IF: Yes, of course. I would say that we should blame not just Iraqi people, but also trade unions and other civil society organizations for not taking necessary measures in order to preserve the great Iraqi heritage. Even archeologists didn’t do anything.

But interestingly, when the US occupation ended, some of Bush’s advisors resigned over the fact that the US and other countries didn’t do anything to preserve Iraqi historical sites. They were protecting objects like the Oil Ministry and others that were strategic to the US occupation forces. Even Americans themselves acknowledge that they are responsible for the destruction of many archeological sites, especially in Babylon. This city was first occupied by US forces, and later they handed it over to the Polish troops.

Several thousand Polish soldiers lived there, they used heavy armor, tanks and helicopters; they were doing construction work for their military infrastructure. This seriously damaged many archeological sites in the area. Later, the US occupation authorities offered a laughable amount of money – some $20 million – for the restoration of damaged archeological objects. Several years ago at a conference in Paris, I addressed some ranking State Department officials and demanded that the US provide at least $1 billion for the restoration of Iraqi historical buildings. But the US didn’t respond to that.

In many cases, Americans just allowed our museums to be looted. The National Museum was looted within three days. And Americans would not do a thing to keep the exhibits safe. That’s why Americans should take full responsibility for that.

British staff disclose US abuses in secret jail in Iraq

Press TV

The British forces who were present at a secret US prison in Baghdad have unveiled new details regarding some of the most shocking human rights abuses to occur in Iraq during the US-led invasion of the country in the facility.

On Tuesday, the Guardian published a report based on interviews with British soldiers and airmen from the UK Royal Air Force and Army Air Corps who had been given guard and transport duties at the secret prison at Baghdad International Airport, known as Camp Nama, during the US-led war in Iraq.

“I saw one man having his prosthetic leg being pulled off him, and being beaten about the head with it before he was thrown on to the truck,” said a British serviceman who had served at Camp Nama.

According to the report, Iraqi prisoners were subjected to electric shocks and routinely hooded.

The witnesses also said the detainees at Camp Nama were held for long periods of time in cells the size of large dog kennels.

A probe launched by Human Rights Watch disclosed that the detainees at the secret center were subject to “beatings, exposure to extreme cold, threats of death, humiliation and various forms of psychological abuse or torture.”

General Stanley McChrystal, the then-commander of US Joint Special Operations Forces in Iraq, was frequently seen at the prison, the report added…

The legacy of horror for children in Iraq

(Iraqi children-File photo)

Unite Against the Warmongers

by HOWARD LISNOFF, source

Children are innocent and often the innocent victims of U.S. warfare. Despite protections, most written after the carnage of masses of civilians during World War II, the U.S. quickly jettisoned its commitment to the protection of civilians and children by the rules of international and U.S. law as soon as the burning embers of war cooled. Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Nicaragua, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are among the places most notable for the murder of children in wars in which the U.S. has waged. From conventional weapons to nuclear weapons and on to drone warfare, we do it all!

Just ten years ago I stood along with my wife and hundreds of other protesters in front of the federal building in Providence, Rhode Island wearing a rubber mask of George W. Bush with a sign hanging from around my neck that read “War Criminal.” The sign gained the attention of a reporter from the Associated Press and the interview she conducted with me reached around the world. I noted that reports had already been cited in the media that children had been killed in the bombardment of Baghdad. As I expected, some of the postings on the Web about my observations at the beginning of the Iraq War drew the contempt of those who naively believed that Iraq possessed so-called weapons of mass destruction and that the government of Iraq had links to Al-Qaeda. As usual, the masses marched in step to the beat of the warmongers!

When a person counters militarism in the U.S., or puts his or her feet on the ground in protest to U.S. wars, there’s a price to be paid. That’s a given. But absolutely nothing could prepare me for the airing on Democracy Now of the segment “Ten Years Later, U.S. Has Left Iraq with Mass Displacement & Epidemic of Birth Defects, Cancers” (March 20, 2013). Al Jazeera’s Dahr Jamail reports in that segment of the program that congenital birth defects in the city of Fallujah, the site of some of the heaviest fighting of the war, has surpassed those recorded in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki following the use of nuclear bombs in those cities at the end of World War II. The culprit in these grotesque birth defects is the suspected use of depleted uranium munitions by the U.S.

The Geneva Conventions are clear that the targeting of civilians by these types of munitions, including weapons such as white phosphorous, are clearly banned. But the U.S. has long noted that these casualties are known as collateral damage and of no real interest to the so-called imbedded reporters from major media outlets who served as cheerleaders during the years of war in Iraq and who in any case have long since left the scene.

The images of Iraqi babies with horrific birth defects are too awful to describe, except that the world needs to know the graphic results of the evil of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and others! Innocent infants are seen with the single eye of a cyclops, with heads so enlarged as to hardly be recognizable compared to a normal child, and with limbs and internal organs scattered across what should be a human body in ways that are impossible to imagine!

And cancers increased in the general population from 40 out of 100,000 people in 1991 in Iraq to 1,600 out of 100.000 in 2005!

When I became a war resister against the Vietnam War, I knew that I was risking my freedom. Images of children with the burnt skin of napalm attacks, bodies of men, women, and children massacred in ditches at My Lai, and the dead and wounded of my own generation at Kent and Jackson State were very powerful and moved me to action and resistance. It was said that the U.S. war against the Vietnamese was immoral because this nation had never been attacked by Vietnam. How different are the innocent of Iraq, where the U.S. inflicted unspeakable horrors on an entire people in the name of regime change and oil?

Return of the living dead

(File photo)

by PEPE ESCOBAR, source

Uncle Marx never thought about this one: history repeating itself as double tragedy after already being a farce in the first place. Let’s examine the case in hand. First of all, take a close look at this Wall Street Journal op-ed from September 2002, in the hysterical run-up towards the invasion of Iraq.

Title: The Case for Toppling Saddam. Author: Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu – then out of the Israeli government.

It’s all here: a “dictator who is rapidly expanding his arsenal of biological and chemical weapons” and “who is feverishly trying toacquire nuclear weapons”; the Saddam equals Hitler parallel; the portrayal of (de facto nuclear power) Israel as helpless victims of Palestinian “terror”; the claim that Saddam could produce nuclear fuel “in centrifuges the size of washing machines that can be hidden throughout the country – and Iraq is a very big country”; the cheerleading of a unilateral pre-emptive strike; and the inevitable conclusion that “nothing less than dismantling his regime will do”.

Fast-forward over 10 years to this week in Israel. The scene: press conference of Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and visiting US President Barack Obama. Anyone watching it live on al-Jazeera, from the Middle East to East Asia, must have thought they were watching a geopolitical Back to the Future – and frankly, Michael J Fox at least oozed charm.

No charm here; this was more like an eerie, suit-and-tie Return of the Living Dead. Bibi and Obama were at pains to stress the US-Israel bond was “eternal”. Actually Bibi preferred to stress that Iran’s (non-existent) nuclear weapons posed an existential threat to Israel. He repeated, over and over again, that Obama was adamant; Israel was entitled to do anything to defend itself, and its security would not be anyone’s responsibility, even Washington’s.

Obama, for his part, once again stressed that Washington’s official policy towards Iran was not containment – but to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. He stressed the “window of opportunity” was getting narrower; and, of course, that all options were on the table.

The thought that the president of the United States (POTUS) willfully ignores the verdict of his own alphabet soup of intel agencies on Iran might raise eyebrows in a rational world. But this is not reality; more like a trashy reality show.

Dream, dream, wet settler dream

The powers that be in Israel – neocon-infested US corporate media avalanche of denials notwithstanding – were absolutely essential in the whole Iraq War cheerleading operation; Ariel Sharon, at the time, boasted that the strategic coordination between Israel and the US had reached “unprecedented dimensions”.

Bibi was just a cog in the wheel then – as Jim Lobe details here – quoting Bibi’s pearls of wisdom dispensed to a misinformed-to-oblivion US Congress in 2002.

Every usual “Israeli official” suspect at the time was breathlessly spinning that Saddam was only months away from a nuclear weapon. The bulk of WMD “intelligence” presented to Congress and faithfully parroted by corporate media was filtered if not entirely fabricated by Israeli intelligence – something duly detailed, among others, by Shlomo Brom in his study An Intelligence Failure, published by the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies of Tel Aviv University in November 2003.

Of course it didn’t matter that UN inspectors found no nuclear weapon program evidence on site. Of course it didn’t matter that Saddam son-in-law Hussein Kamel, who had defected to Jordan in 1995, had told UN inspectors in detail there had been no WMDs whatsoever since 1991.

Now it’s double tragedy, and double farce, all over again. Yet even Nepalis building glitzy towers in Dubai know that the ”Bomb Iran” hysteria is Tel Aviv’s tactic to change the subject from the relentless land confiscation/ethnic cleansing in slow motion in Palestine and consequently the de facto total impossibility of a two-state solution.

Here, Jonathan Cook succinctly details the frankly scary political configuration in Israel after the recent elections. The Israeli website Ynet has reported that Israeli settlers can’t stop hailing their brand new “wet dream” cabinet. Translation: the ultimate nail in the coffin of the already dead and buried “peace process”.

So here’s a modern geopolitical parable that would puzzle Aesop. Bibi publicly insults POTUS. He unabashedly supports Mitt Romney (who?) in the US presidential elections. He hits the “peace process” with a barrage of Hellfire “facts on the ground” (with loads of Palestine “collateral damage”). He sticks to his one and only message; Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran. And then POTUS, in theory the mighty Double O Bama with a license to kill (list) but actually behaving like an accidental tourist, lands in Israel with his kill list between his legs, to bask in Bibi’s glory.

No wonder the rabid American neo-con/Israeli firster/Bomb Iran crowd is gloating. Over 10 years ago their mantra was “Real Men go to Tehran”. The question now is whether POTUS will be able to grow a set of proper cojones and stare them down.

British, U.S. spies ignored intelligence before Iraq invasion

Press TV

Britain and U.S. spying agencies had ignored intelligence before invasion of Iraq that the country had no active weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), it has been revealed.

MI6 and CIA had been told through secret channels by Saddam’s foreign minister and his spy chief that Iraq had no WMDs, media reports said.

This is while that former Prime Minister Tony Blair told parliament in the run-up to the war that intelligence showed Iraq’s nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programme was “active”, “growing” and “up and running”.

According to a special Panorama programme in the BBC, British and U.S. spying agencies were informed by top sources months before the invasion that Iraq had no active WMD programme, and that the information was not passed to subsequent inquiries.

The programme explains how Naji Sabri, Saddam’s foreign minister, told the CIA’s station chief in Paris at the time, Bill Murray, through an intermediary that Iraq had “virtually nothing” in terms of WMD.

Meanwhile, Panorama confirms that three months before the war an MI6 officer met Iraq’s head of intelligence, Tahir Habbush al-Tikriti, who also said that Saddam had no active WMDs.

The meeting in the Jordanian capital, Amman, took place days before the British regime published its now widely discredited Iraqi weapons dossier in September 2002.

Lord Butler, the former cabinet secretary who led an inquiry into the use of intelligence in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, tells the programme that he was not told about Sabri’s comments, and that he should have been.

Butler says of the use of intelligence: “There were ways in which people were misled or misled themselves at all stages.”

When it was suggested to him that the body that probably felt most misled of all was the British public, Butler replied: “Yes, I think they’re, they’re, they got every reason think that.”

The war against Iraq fiasco, ten years later

(Iraqi children with birth defects-File photo)

by Rodrigue Tremblay, source

International law? I better call my lawyer; he didn’t bring that up to me.
– George W. Bush, U.S. president (2001-2009), (December 12, 2003)

I told George Bush as early as August 2002, during a meeting in Detroit, that we would support him if he receives the authorization from the UN. —I told him: ‘To have the backing of the U.N., it will be necessary that you establish more clearly that he [Saddam Hussein] has weapons of mass destruction.’ —There was no such evidence. Since he [George W. Bush] did not provide sufficient evidence, he did not get the support of the U.N. … Without an authorization from the United Nations, Canada must stay away from military interventions abroad, even if they are carried out by its allies.
– Jean Chrétien, Prime Minister of Canada (1993-2003), (March 13, 2013)

Those who were 100 percent certain there were weapons of mass destruction [in Iraq, before the March 2003 invasion] had less than zero percent knowledge.
– Hans Blix, former chief United Nations weapons inspector, August 2010

I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.
– Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Chairman (inThe Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World, 2007)

He who wants to kill his dog accuses him of having rabies.
– old French saying

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the decision by the Bush-Cheney administration to invade the country of Iraq and initiate what can be called a war of choice. This is a good time to briefly look back at this unsavory historical episode.

Public opinion polls indicate that a majority of Americans now think the 2003 Iraq war, in which tens of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of Americans died, was a mistake. In the UK, the other country most involved with the Iraq war, a similar poll taken recently indicates that only 28 percent of Brits now believe the war was justified and made the world a safer place.

Other polls also indicate that George W. Bush has a good chance to be considered, if not the worst, certainly among the worst presidents the United States ever had. The man had no moral compass.

Indeed, his personal and unilateral decision to launch an illegal war of aggression in 2003—against Iraq, a country that had not attacked the United States—based on disingenuous lies, fabrications, disinformation and propaganda, and in violation of the United Nations’ Charter, whose Security Council refused to authorize the American aggression, will go down in history as one of those abuses and pretexts that devious politicians resort to when they want to circumvent international law in order to promote some narrow personal or national interests.

But Iraq had a lot of oil, and it was considered in certain circles an enemy of Israel, a country that the current generation of American politicians supports blindly. That was enough to want to topple its government and take control of it.

In the summer and fall of 2002, distressed by nothing less than a neocon cabal and a series of outrageous lies by the Bush-Cheney administration, I began writing a book denouncing the coming war of aggression against Iraq.

The book was initially published in French six weeks before the March 20, 2003 military assault against Iraq under the title Pourquoi Bush veut la guerreWhy Bush Wants War, a book presently out of print (now a collector’s item). It was published one year later, this time in English, under the title of The New American Empire, and, a few years later, was published in Europe under the title of Le nouvel empire américain and it was also translated into Turkish under the title Yeni Amerikan ImperatorLugu.

The book described the type of cabal and aggressive war campaign in the Bush-Cheney administration and in many American media to push the United States toward an illegal war of aggression in the Middle East in order to overthrow Iraq’s Saddam Hussein regime and to exert an overt influence in the way that country uses its natural resources.

Indeed, the 2003 American war against Iraq was primarily an economic war, because the government of Saddam Hussein was excluding U.S. and U.K. companies from Iraqi oil resource development. This was in retaliation for these two countries supporting unconditionally Israel’s decades-long oppression of the Palestinians. As a consequence, the Bush-Cheney administration and its vassal Tony Blair in England felt that they had to intervene militarily in order to prevent French, German, Russian, and Chinese oil companies to develop Iraq’s oil, while U.S. and U.K. oil company interests were excluded. Basic economic interests were thus at play and international law was powerless to stop the military onslaught.

The pretext found was to accuse Iraq to harbor “weapons of mass destruction” that it could possibly and eventually use against its neighbors. Such so-called “weapons of mass destruction” were never found because they never existed in the first place, as the Hans Blix U.N. inspecting commission had publicly certified. The entire propaganda operation by the Bush-Cheney administration was nothing more than a lie and a fraud.

Mind you, the 2003 Iraq war was triggered by the Bush-Cheney administration after the United States was already involved in a protracted war against Al Qaeda fundamentalist conservatism in Afghanistan, and this since the fall of 2001 under a United Nations’ authorization and in retaliation for this latter country Taliban government’s support for the 9/11 terrorists.

Another oft-repeated lie by the Bush-Cheney administration was that the government of Iraq had been involved, one way or another, in the 9/11 attack. Not a thread of evidence has ever been produced to that effect, while all indications were to the contrary that secular Saddam Hussein was vehemently opposed to the religiously-bent Al Qaeda terrorist network of Osama bin Laden.

The American people and a majority in Congress would probably not have supported the Iraq military invasion had there not have been a barrage of propaganda that originated from the pro-Israel Lobby in the media and the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Libby-Perle cabal inside the U.S. government. These two campaigns had a tremendous impact in persuading a passive public still shaken by the 9/11 terrorist attacks that the lies it was fed were facts.

We pretend to live in countries of laws and not of men and that nobody is above the law. This can be disputed, however, in light of the fact that no one in the Bush-Cheney regime in the U.S. and in the Tony Blair regime in the U.K. has been held accountable to date for this massive abuse of power, aprima facie impeachable offense. Instead, most of the actors in this tragedy have been rewarded with plush nominations.

The U.S. military officially withdrew from Iraq in 2011, but that country is still in a mess and it will suffer economically and politically for decades to come the destruction and destabilization it has been subjected to by the 2003 U.S.-led military invasion.

Iraq at the brink: A dafter the invasion

(Iraq-file photo)

by Ramzy Baroud, source

Soon after the joint US-British bombing campaign ‘Operation Desert Fox’ devastated parts of Iraq in Dec 1998, I was complaining to a friend in the lobby of the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad.

I was disappointed with the fact that our busy schedule in Iraq – mostly visiting hospitals packed with injured or Depleted Uranium Victims – left me no time to purchase a few Arabic books for my little daughter back in the states. As I got ready to embark on the long bus journey back to Jordan, an Iraqi man with a thick moustache and a carefully designed beard approached me. “This is for your daughter,” he said with a smile as he handed me a plastic bag. The bag included over a dozen books with colorful images of traditional Iraqi children stories. I had never met that man before, nor did we ever meet again. He was a guest at the hotel and somehow he learned of my dilemma. As I profusely, but hurriedly thanked him before taking my seat on the bus, he insisted that no such words were needed. “We are brothers and your daughter is like my own,” he said.

I was not exactly surprised by this. Generosity of action and spirit is a distinct Iraqi characteristic and Arabs know that too well. Other Iraqi qualities include pride and perseverance, the former attributed to the fact that Mesopotamia – encompassing most of modern day Iraq – is the ‘cradle of civilization’ and later due to the untold hardship experienced by Iraqis in their modern history.

It was Britain that triggered Iraq’s modern tragedy, starting with its seizure of Baghdad in 1917 and the haphazard reshaping of a country to perfectly fit the colonial needs and economic interests of London. One could argue that the early and unequalled mess created by the British invaders continued to wreak havoc, manifesting itself in various ways – spanning sectarianism, political violence and border feuds between Iraq and its neighbors – until this very day.

But of course, the US now deserves most of the credit of reversing whatever has been achieved by the Iraqi people to acquire their ever-elusive sovereignty. It was US Secretary of State James Baker, who reportedly threatened Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz in a Geneva meeting in 1991 by saying that the US would destroy Iraq and “bring it back to the stone age.” The US war which extended from 1990 to 2011, included a devastating blockade and ended with a brutal invasion. These wars were as unscrupulous as they were violent. Aside from their overwhelming human toll, they were placed within a horrid political strategy aimed at exploiting the country’s existing sectarian and other fault lines therefore triggering civil wars and sectarian hatred from which Iraq is unlikely to cover for many years.

For the Americans, it was a mere strategy aimed at lessening the pressure placed on its and other ally soldiers as they faced stiff resistance the moment they stepped foot in Iraq. For the Iraqis however, it was a petrifying nightmare that can neither be expressed by words or numbers. But numbers are of course barely lacking. According to UN estimations cited by the BBC, between May and June 2006 “an average of more than 100 civilians per day (were) killed in violence in Iraq.” The UN reserved estimates also placed the death toll of civilians during 2006 at 34,000. That was the year that the US strategy of divide and conquer proved most successful.

Over the years, most people outside Iraq – as in other conflicts where protracted violence yields regular death counts – simply became desensitized to the death toll. It is as if the more people die, the less worthy their lives become.

The fact remains, however that the US and Britain had jointly destroyed modern Iraq and no amount of remorse or apology – not that any was offered to begin with – will alter this fact. Iraq’s former colonial masters and its new ones lacked any legal or moral ground for invading the sanctions-devastated country. They also lacked any sense of mercy as they destroyed a generation and set the stage for a future conflict that promises to be as bloody as the past.

When the last US combat brigade had reportedly left Iraq in Dec 2011, this was meant to be an end of an era. Historians know well that conflicts don’t end with a presidential decree or troop deployments. Iraq merely entered a new phase of conflict and the US, Britain and others, remain integral parties of that conflict.

One post-invasion and war reality is that Iraq was divided into areas of influence based on purely sectarian and ethnic lines. In western media’s classification of winners and losers, Sunnis, blamed for being favored by former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, emerged as the biggest loser. While Iraq’s new political elites were divided between Shi’ite and Kurdish politicians (each party with its own private army, some gathered in Baghdad and others in the autonomous Kurdistan region), the Shi’ite population was held by various militant groups responsible for Sunni unfortunates. On Feb 8, five car bombs blew up in what was quickly recognized as “Shi’ite areas”, killing 34 people. A few days earlier, on Feb 4, 22 people were also killed in a similar fashion.

The sectarian strife in Iraq which is responsible for the death of tens of thousands, is making a comeback. Iraqi Sunnis, including major tribes and political parties are demanding equality and the end of their disfranchisement in the relatively new, skewed Iraqi political system under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Massive protests and ongoing strikes have been organized with a unified and clear political message. However, numerous other parties are exploiting the polarization in every way imaginable: to settle old scores, to push the country back to the brink of civil war, to amplify the mayhem underway in various Arab countries, most notably Syria, and in some instances to adjust sectarian boundaries in ways that could create good business opportunities.

Yes, sectarian division and business in today’s Iraq go hand in hand. Reuters reported that Exxon Mobil hired Jeffrey James, a former US ambassador to Iraq (from 2010-12) as a ‘consultant.’ Sure, it is an example of how post-war diplomacy and business are natural allies, but there is more to the story. Taking advantage of the autonomy of the Kurdistan region, the giant multinational oil and gas corporation had struck lucrative deals that are independent from the central government in Baghdad. The latter has been amassing its troops near the disputed oil-rich region starting late last year. The Kurdish government has done the same. Unable to determine which party has the upper hand in the brewing conflict, thus future control over oil resources, Exxon Mobile is torn: to honor its contracts with the Kurds, or to seek perhaps more lucrative contracts in the south. James might have good ideas, especially when he uses his political leverage acquired during his term as US ambassador.

The future of Iraq is currently being determined by various forces and almost none of them are composed of Iraqi nationals with a uniting vision. Caught between bitter sectarianism, extremism, the power-hungry, wealth amassing elites, regional power players, western interests and a very violent war legacy, the Iraqi people are suffering beyond the ability of sheer political analyses or statistics to capture their anguish. The proud nation of impressive human potential and remarkable economic prospects has been torn to shreds.

UK-based Iraqi writer Hussein Al-alak wrote on the upcoming tenth anniversary of the Iraq invasion with a tribute to the country’s ‘silent victims,’ the children. According to Iraqi Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, he reported, there is an estimated 4.5 million children who are now orphans, with a “shocking 70 percent” of them having lost their parents since the 2003 invasion.

“From that total number, around 600,000 children are living on the streets, without either shelter or food to survive,” Al-alak wrote. Those living in the few state-run orphanages “are currently lacking in their most essential needs.”

I still think of the kindly Iraqi man who gifted my daughter a collection of Iraqi stories. I also think of his children. One of the books he purchased was of Sindbad, presented in the book as a brave, handsome child who loved adventure as much as he loved his country. No matter how cruel his fate had been, Sinbad always returned to Iraq and began anew, as if nothing had ever happened.

After Syria, sedition in Iraq (II)

(Iraq-file photo)

Part II

by Sadeq Khanafer – Hussein Mallah, Al Manar

In Part I of the “After Syria, Sedition in Iraq,” We presented a report on Iraq’s position, its strategic importance, oil and resources. Those elements are considered to be among the most attracting elements to list this country on the American-Western plans to disintegrate and weaken the region until totally destroy it through divisions and finding disaccords on the sectarian, doctrinal, ethnic and even tribal levels between the small countries-to-be.

In Part II, we are going to present the political background of the recent crisis broke out in the western and northern governorates. We will also highlight the foreign role in this regard, starting from the American administration and not ending with Turkey, some Gulf countries, especially Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

It might be political stupidity to limit the ongoing events in Iraq within local political affairs, noting that some demands, such as reforms and releasing the detainees, might be righteous. Therefore, this case must be viewed in general.

The Western Scheme

Targeting Iraq is not new matter. Since the Sykes-Picot agreement, it has been a target of many western plans. However, the most seriousness today is that it comes at a time of “mobile sedition” hitting several Middle Eastern countries. Symbols of division are quiet clear, in addition to the already set plans among Washington strategies.

The organized scheme started with dividing Sudan into clashing north and south. This plan is applicable to many countries in our region. For instance, the way to tribal divisions is being paved in Libya, since sectarian and doctrinal divisions do not exist. Southern Yemen is also very close to division, not to mention the struggle in Egypt, the confederation of Palestinians in Jordan, and Syria which is meant to be the starting point of divisions.

Perhaps the main causes behind acceleration in implementing the scheme in Iraq was the humiliated withdrawal of US occupation troops from Iraq, and its disability to set any military base that serves its interests to control the region. For this reason, the Americans hurried to take advantage of their allies, locally and regionally, to ignite struggles inside Iraq.

This is what Iraqi political analyst, Abbas Al-Mousawi, assured during an interview with Al-Manar website. “The US support to the current incidents on the Iraqi lands is clear, especially its good relations with the Turkish and Qatari governments, the most two supporters and seditious parts in the ongoing events,” Mousawi stated.

Mousawi’s opinion came along with that of Habib Fayyad, the expert in strategic affairs, who reminded us of “the US-West project, in cooperation with some regional sides, based on worsening the sectarian atmosphere and going on with the sedition.”

Fayyad told Al-Manar website that regarding the critical political and social combination in Iraq, “we can expect that the current events would spread sedition more and more, and enlarge the gap between Muslims.”
He further considered that “among the causes of what is taking place in Iraq, are the sanctions imposed on the Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki due to his refusal to apply western policies in dealing with the Syrian issue.”

Alternative for Syria

According to the expert in Turkish affairs Mohammad Noureddine, “the recent events in Iraq occurred during the past weeks aren’t different from those happening in Syria. Countries seeking to topple regime there are the same countries seeking to move the crisis to Iraq. This aims at hitting many birds with one stone. The pioneers of those countries are Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.”

Mousawi also assured this analysis. “There is intimidation, as well as Qatari and Turkish intervention in the crisis after failing to settle the struggle in Syria, besides the highly expected peaceful solution on the basis of applying the Geneva Accord; therefore, they started provocation in Iraq,” says Mousawi.

Turkey’s Role, Goal

Ankara’s way of intervention in the Iraqi affairs unveiled the true face of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s governmental policy towards Iraq and the whole region. This was especially after announcing his positions on the Syrian crisis. Turkey’s Justice and Development Party found the changes in the region, especially in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, an opportunity to play a regional role after it had lost the chance to join the European Union. Why not? It’s a way to revive the Ottoman Empire’s glories.

To achieve its goals, Ankara took advantage of the Syrian events. It supported, armed and sheltered militant groups. The same was done in Iraq, where Turkey directly intervened several times in its affairs. It also ignited sectarianism calling some groups to oppose the government and the protestors not to recede their demands. Among those interventions, for example, sheltering the sentenced to death Iraqi Vice President Tareq Al-Hashemi, who is accused of committing “terrorist” crimes, as well as attempting to lobby the Kurds and ignite them against the central government.

Governorates protests in the west of Iraq assured the total Turkish involvement in attempting to destabilize Maliki’s government, since slogans supporting divisions by establishing sectarian provinces were raised, along with signboards and flags of the foreign sides supporting these protests, the first of which is Turkey for it seeks the following:

Increasing pressure on Maliki after his positions on the Syrian crisis
Intervening in the Iraqi affairs
Lobbying the Iraqi Kurds and building political and economic relationships with them
Benefiting from the oil resources, especially in the North
Pressuring on Iran in an attempt to change its position towards Syria
In this context, Noureddine explained that “Turkey’s ultimate goal is Syria and its regime.” In addition, he said “the Turkish role is more influential than that of other states due to its geographic position between Syria and Iraq.”

He also noted that Ankara followed a two-goal policy with Baghdad:

Adopting the suggestions of Maliki’s opponents, among which are the Kurdish Coalition and the Iraqi List
Igniting sectarianism, especially that Turkey considers itself as one of the Sunni Muslims’ guardians

Gulf Goals

Ankara’s targets inside Iraq intersect with some regional countries’, especially the Gulf States, which had frozen relations with Baghdad for some time. The most significant among them are Qatar and Saudi Arabia, that were accused by Iraqi milieus of direct involvement in the mobile explosions , as well as in the ongoing events through funding some movements and organizations, and supporting their leaders.

Perhaps Arab satellite channels’ coverage of the Al-Anbar movements uncovers the identity of the supporting countries, especially since such channels are owned and funded by those countries, led by Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

According to Iraqi sources, the clearest goals of those two countries from igniting struggle in Iraq are:

Cracking down Maliki’s government, and trying to topple it and change the regime
Disconnecting links between Iraq and Syria after the failed plans to topple the regime in Damascus
Targeting Iran by hitting Syria and weakening Iraq
Making Iraq busy with its local afairs to prevent it from playing its regional role
In this context, Fayyad considered that “the Gulf (Qatari-Saudi) standpoints in the region are fixed on the Syrian crisis in the meantime, through their insistence to stay till the end of the regime toppling battle and the bloody events.”

“It is not strange that those countries tend to hit and dry up the sources of the Syrian government’s power,” Fayyad added, believing that the Gulf goals in Iraq are:

Causing local sectarian and ethnic riot
Pressuring Maliki’s government to recede its positions from Syria
Causing local instability, which – in their opinion – makes Iran busy and leads it to recede its support to the Syrian government.

Western Movements… Messages to the East

Because Syria represents the bound in the opposing axis that links Iran with resistance movements in Lebanon and Palestine, it was a must to target it for being the main pillar of this axis. This is with respect to the Western-Gulf viewpoint, which seems unable to get closer to the Islamic Republic, due to the latter’s strategic position and military abilities; thus, their only escape to press on Tehran is to humiliate its Iraqi allies.

Moreover, Fayyad assured to Al-Manar website that there is Western and regional annoyance from the Iranian support to the Syrian regime. This is because those sides hold Tehran responsible for Syria’s steadfastness.

“West, in the meantime, considers Iraq an Iranian backyard, and is convinced that playing in this place might influence the Iranian position’s immunity and support for Damascus,” he stated.

On the other hand, Fayyad said that “the forthcoming new round of negotiations between Iran and the six countries about the nuclear issue, in addition to the riot inside Iraq, might cause pressure on Iran to retreat during the negotiations.”

All the above do not keep aside the Turkish actor that, beside the Gulf position towards Iraq, wants to set a base from which it can spread the discord in Syria into several places in the region, starting from Iraq and reaching…

After Syria, Sedition in Iraq I

R2P and genocide prevention

(File photo)

The Good Intentions That Pave the Road to War

by DIANA JOHNSTONE, source

Paris.

Opposing genocide has become a sort of cottage industry in the United States.

Everywhere, “genocide studies” are cropping up in universities.  Five years ago, an unlikely “Genocide Prevention Task Force” was set up headed by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and former defense secretary William Cohen, both veterans of the Clinton administration.

The Bible of the campaign is Samantha Power’s book, “A Problem from Hell”.  Ms. Power’s thesis is that the U.S. Government, while well-intentioned, like all of us, is too slow to intervene to “stop genocide”.  It is a suggestion that the U.S. government embraces, even to taking on Ms. Power as White House advisor.

Why has the U.S. Government so eagerly endorsed the crusade against “genocide”?

The reason is clear.  Since the Holocaust has become the most omnipresent historical reference in Western societies, the concept of “genocide” is widely and easily accepted as the greatest evil to afflict the planet. It is felt to be worse than war.

Therein lies its immense value to the U.S. military-industrial complex, and to a foreign policy elite seeking an acceptable pretext for military intervention wherever they choose.

The obsession with “genocide” as the primary humanitarian issue in the world today relativizes war.  It reverses the final judgment of the Nuremberg Trials that:

War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.

Instead, war is transformed into a chivalrous action to rescue whole populations from “genocide”.

At the same time, national sovereignty, erected as the barrier to prevent strong nations from invading weaker ones, that is, to prevent aggression and “the scourge of war”, is derided as nothing but a protection for evil rulers (“dictators”) whose only ambition is to “massacre their own people”.

This ideological construct is the basis for the Western-sponsored doctrine, forced on a more or less reluctant United Nations, of “R2P”, the ambiguous shorthand for both the “right” and the “responsibility” to protect peoples from their own governments.

In practice this can give the dominant powers carte blanche to intervene militarily in weaker countries in order to support whatever armed rebellions they favor. Once this doctrine seems to be accepted, it can even serve as an incitement to opposition groups to provoke government repression in order to call for “protection”.

One among many examples of this cottage industry is a program called “World Without Genocide” at the William Mitchell College of Law in my home town, Saint Paul, Minnesota, whose executive director Ellen J. Kennedy recently wrote an article for the Minneapolis Star Tribunewhich expresses all the usual clichés of that seemingly well-meaning but misguided campaign.

Misguided, and above all, misguiding.  It is directing the attention of well-intentioned people away from the essential cause of our time which is to reverse the drift toward worldwide war.

Ms. Kennedy blames “genocide” on the legal barrier set up to try to prevent aggressive war: national sovereignty.  Her cure for genocide is apparently to abolish national sovereignty.

For more than 350 years, the concept of “national sovereignty” held primacy over the idea of “individual sovereignty.” Governments basically had immunity from outside intervention despite human-rights violations they perpetrated within their borders. The result has been an “over and over again” phenomenon of genocide since the Holocaust, with millions of innocent lives lost in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Congo, Guatemala, Argentina, East Timor — the list is long.

In fact, Hitler initiated World War II precisely in violation of the national sovereignty of Czechoslovakia and Poland partly in order, he claimed, to stop human rights violations that those governments allegedly perpetrated against ethnic Germans who lived there. It was to invalidate this pretext, and “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”, that the United Nations was founded on the basis of respect for national sovereignty.

Of course, there is no chance that the United States will abandon itsnational sovereignty.  Rather, all other countries are called upon to abandon their national sovereignty – to the United States.

Ms. Kennedy’s lengthens her list by arbitrarily grouping disparate events under the single label of “genocide”, mostly according to their place in the official U.S. narrative of contemporary conflicts.

But the significant fact is that the worst of these slaughters – Cambodia, Rwanda and the Holocaust itself – occurred during wars and as a result of wars.

The systematic rounding up, deportation and killing of European Jews took place during World War II.  Jews were denounced as “the internal enemy” of Germany.  War is the perfect setting for such racist paranoia.  After all, even in the United States, during World War II, Japanese American families were dispossessed of their property, rounded up and put in camps.  The result was not comparable, but the pretext was similar.

In Rwanda, the horrific slaughter was a response to an invasion by Tutsi forces from neighboring Uganda and the assassination of the country’s president.  The context was invasion and civil war.

The Cambodian slaughter was certainly not the fault of “national sovereignty”.  Indeed, it was precisely the direct result of the U.S. violation of Cambodia’s national sovereignty. Years of secret U.S. bombing of the Cambodian countryside, followed by a U.S.-engineered overthrow of the Cambodian government, opened the way for takeover of that country by embittered Khmer Rouge fighters who took out their resentment against the devastation of rural areas on the hapless urban population, considered accomplices of their enemies. The Khmer Rouge slaughters took place after the United States had been defeated in Indochina by the Vietnamese.  When, after being provoked by armed incursions, the Vietnamese intervened to overthrow the Khmer Rouge, they were condemned in the United Nations by the United States for doing so.

Some of the bloodiest events do not make it to Ms. Kennedy’s “genocide” list.  Missing is the killing of over half a million members of the Indonesian Communist Party in 1965 and 1966. But the dictator responsible, Suharto, was “a friend of the United States” and the victims were communists.

But while ignoring over half a million murdered Indonesians, she includes Bosnia on her list.  In that case, the highest estimate of victims was 8,000, all men of military age.  Indeed, the NATO-linked International Criminal Tribunal (ICTY) has ruled that the 1995 Srebrenica massacre was “genocide”.   To arrive at this verdict, despite the fact that the alleged perpetrators spared women and children, the ICTY found a sociologist who claimed that since the Muslim community of Srebrenica was a patriarchy, murdering the menfolk amounted to “genocide” in a single town, since the women would not return without the men.  This far-fetched judgment was necessary to preserve “Bosnia” as Exhibit A in the case for NATO military intervention.

It is generally overlooked that Srebrenica was a garrison town where the Muslim men in 1995 were not all natives of that originally multi-ethnic town and had been carrying out attacks on surrounding Serb villages.  Nor have Western media given much attention to the testimony by Srebrenica Muslim leaders of having heard the Islamist party leader, Alija Izetbegovic, confide that President Clinton had said that a massacre of at least 5,000 Muslims was needed to bring the “international community” into the Bosnian civil war on the side of the Muslims.  Those Muslim leaders believe that Izetbegovic deliberately left Srebrenica undefended in order to set up a massacre by vengeful Serbs.

Whether or not that story is true, it points to a serious danger of adopting the R2P principle.  Izetbegovic was the leader of a party which wanted to defeat his enemies with outside military aid.  The world is rife with such leaders of ethnic, religious or political factions.  If they know that “the world’s only superpower” may come to their aid once they can accuse the existing government of “slaughtering its own people”, they are highly motivated to provoke that government into committing the required slaughter.

A number of former U.N. peacekeepers have testified that Muslim forces in Bosnia carried out the infamous “Marketplace bombings” against Sarajevo civilians in order to blame their Serb enemies and gain international support.

How could they do such a horrid thing?  Well, if a country’s leader can be willing to “massacre his own people”, why couldn’t the leader of a rebel group allow some of “his own people” to be massacred, in order to take power?  Especially, by the way, if he is paid handsomely by some outside power – Qatar for instance – to provoke an uprising.

A principal danger of the R2P doctrine is that it encourages rebel factions to provoke repression, or to claim persecution, solely to bring in foreign forces on their behalf. It is certain that anti-Gaddafi militants grossly exaggerated Gaddafi’s threat to Benghazi in order to provoke the 2011 French-led NATO war against Libya.  The war in Mali is a direct result of the brutal overthrow of Gaddafi, who was a major force for African stability.

R2P serves primarily to create a public opinion willing to accept U.S. and NATO intervention in other countries.  It is not meant to allow the Russians or the Chinese to intervene, say, to protect housemaids in Saudi Arabia from being beheaded, much less to allow Cuban forces to shut down Guantanamo and end U.S. violations of human rights – on Cuban territory.

U.S. intervention does not have a track record of “protecting” people.  It is easier to imagine an effective intervention where none has been attempted – for instance in Rwanda – than to carry it out in the real world.

In December 1992, a Marine battalion landed in Somalia in “Operation Restore Hope”.  Hope was not restored, Marines were massacred by the locals and were chased out within four months.  It is easier to imagine an effective intervention where none has been attempted – for instance in Rwanda – than to carry it out in the real world.

For all its military power, the United States is unable to make over the world to its liking. It has failed in Iraq and in Afghanistan. The 1999 “Kosovo war” is claimed as a success – only by studiously ignoring what has been going on in the province since it was wrested from Serbia by NATO and handed over to Washington’s ethnic Albanian clients.  The “success” in Libya is publicly unraveling much faster.

Like all the R2P advocates, Ms. Kennedy exhorts us “never again” to allow a Holocaust. In reality there has “never again” been another Holocaust.  History produces unique events which defy all our expectations.

But what, people ask me, if something that dreadful did happen?  Should the world just stand by and watch?

What is meant by “the world”?  The Western ideological construct assumes that the world should care about human rights, but that only the West really does.  That assumption is creating a deepening gap between the West and the rest of the world, which does not see things that way.  To most of the real world, the West is seen as a cause of humanitarian disasters, not the cure.

Libya marked a turning point, when the NATO powers used the R2P doctrine not to protect people from being bombed by their own air force (the idea behind the “no fly zone” UN resolution), but to bomb the country themselves in order to enable rebels to kill the leader and destroy the regime.  That convinced the Russians and Chinese, if they had had any doubts, that “R2P” is a fake, used to advance a project of world domination.

And they are not alone and isolated.  The West is isolating itself in its own powerful propaganda bubble. Much, perhaps most of the world sees Western intervention as motivated by economic self-interest, or by the interests of Israel.  The sense of being threatened by U.S. power incites other countries to build up their own military defenses and to repress opposition militants who might serve as excuses for outside intervention.

By crying “genocide” when there is no genocide, the U.S. is crying wolf and losing credibility. It is destroying the trust and unity that would be needed to mobilize international humanitarian action in case of genuine need.

Turkey shifts focus from Syria to Iraq as US: former US envoy

RB comment: Obviously Iraq needs to be careful because from all the other news about Turkey that does not seem to be a plan with good intentions.

Press TV

Turkey’s focus is shifting from Syria to Iraq as the United States remains reluctant to militarily intervene in Syria, former US envoy to Baghdad and Ankara says.

According to a Friday report by the Turkish daily Hurriyet, former US Ambassador to Iraq and Turkey Jim Jeffrey said there are several reasons why Ankara’s strengthening ties with Baghdad are overshadowing its role in Syria’s crisis.

The former US envoy said Iraq is now emerging as a potential source of stability unlike before, as well as a major oil exporter.

A Turkish official recently stated, “Iraq is now more important for us,” adding, “You saw this shift during Undersecretary of the Turkish Foreign Ministry Feridun Sinirlioglu’s visit to Washington two weeks ago as well.”

Ankara is well aware of the unwillingness that Washington has signaled for military intervention in Syria, the report said.

In an interview with the New Republic magazine published on January 28, Obama responded to domestic criticisms of the US administration’s failure for military action against Syria by saying he is fully aware of the limitations Washington faces for such an action.

“I am more mindful probably than most of not only our incredible strengths and capabilities, but also our limitations,” the president said.

According to the report, Jeffrey interpreted Obama’s recent remarks to suggest an end to long-term, massive ground wars that fight the very population of a country.

“He is absolutely right. That period is over. Because it was not particularly successful,” he said.

After Syria, sedition in Iraq

Part I

by Sadeq Khanafer, Hussein Mallah, source

Almost a year after the American withdrawal from Iraq, several political and security crises took place. Perhaps the most dangerous are those currently taking place in both the Western and Northern provinces. The troubles are being more sectarian, which threaten re-pushing the country toward riot and divisions, and aim at suppressing the emerging Iraqi power both at political and social levels.

To shed light on the secret plans prepared for Iraq and later to other regional countries, we display -in a three-part report- this plan from A to Z.

The Role and Position of Iraq

The Republic of Iraq is one of the West Asian countries overlooking the Gulf area. Its borders distribute as follows: Kuwait and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the South, Turkey to the North, Syria and Jordan to the West, and Iran to the East. Its total area is 438317 squared kilometers.

Strategic Position

Iraq’s position has so long been strategic. Before 22 centuries, Alexander’s the Great army had crossed its land on its way to India. Iraq was also targeted by the Mongols, which, throughout its invasion, continued to the other Levant countries. Iraq has also been a commercial intersection point between the Arabian Peninsula, Central Asia, and India. Moreover, it was a center for exchanging ideas and cultures between the East and the West.

The importance of Iraq’s strategic position in the modern history is represented by being an overland route between the former Soviet Union and the open seas. Also it is the aerial link between Europe and Asia. All the land routes, linking southeast Europe and the eastern part of the Mediterranean with the southern Gulf Region, as well as Iran, Pakistan, and India to the east, pass through Iraq. Moreover, Iraq links the three Islamic worlds: the Arab, the Persian, and the Turkish. The Iraqi land spreads from Turkey to the Gulf, in which it represents the eastern gate of the Arab World.

The geographical position of any country might be a factor either of its power or its weakness. It might also make it an object of other countries’ greed mostly on the level of its strategic regional importance, which makes it present among the world strategies and in the “Grand” countries’ accounts. This is what is happening in Iraq, which was, and still, of critical position in the Middle East for it is in its center and affects it on various levels.

Iraq is among the regions, where, along their very old history, different policies, various ideologies, and struggling powers had met. They wanted, at a time or another, to magnetize the countries of the region and take control over a part of them. Many experts asserted that Iraq’s importance lies behind being a part of the Gulf, the geographic center of the Middle East, its magic gate, and charming treasure.

Thus, Iraq became a vital target for western strategies via regional alliances. It climbed to the top of international interests due to several factors, among which is its richness in petroleum, its special strategic position. Not to mention the successive regional events that took place in the last decades such as the Arab-Israeli wars, the “Iraqi-Iranian War”, the Second Gulf War, the American Occupation, and the so-called “Arab Spring.”

For this reason, controlling Iraq and attempting to divide it became a strategic goal of the US and Western policies, who dream of the Empire since the downfall of Iraq links Turkish western-controlled zones with the Gulf, isolates Syria and Iran from each other, thus mixing everything up in the region.

Petrol… a Blessing and Curse at a Time

What made it worse on Iraq was its huge oil wealth in which the accurate reserves hit 143.10 billion barrels. This classify it the second known oil reservoir in the world after the Saudi Arabia. Its daily exporting potential is 3 million barrels. Not to mention, Iraq was in 2012 the second country in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). It is supposed to increase its production to 5 million barrels per day by 2014. Definite gas reserves are 3158 billion squared meters. This amount prompted Iraq to be the tenth worldwide to have pure gas reserves.

It is noteworthy that Iraq was not supplied with the advanced techniques of oil drilling used in other countries. Those techniques would improve the rates of exploring oil from the newly discovered areas, and estimate the expected extractable quantities with more than 360 billion barrels, which would be sufficient to go on producing the available energy for three and a half centuries.

Iraq holds unexpected oil reserves. Among its 74 explored oil fields, only 15 fields were invested, according to oil experts. The first pillar of Iraqi economy is that of oil. However, unlike other Gulf countries, oil isn’t its only resource. Iraq is one of the founding countries of OPEC, its oil business started in 1925.

According to strategic experts in the Pentagon and the US National Security Council, “Iraq is the pumping heart of the Arab-Asian region. Controlling Iraq equals controlling oil, as well as strategic lines of transportation.”

One Federal, Independent, Sovereign State

According to the current constitution, Iraq is a federal independent sovereign country. Its regime is parliamentary democratic. The federal government is composed of Executive Authority, Legislative Authority and Judicial Authority, besides several independent committees. According to the constitution, Iraq is composed of 18 governorates, including one district known as Iraqi Kurdistan, which in turn includes the governorates of Irbil, Dohuk and Sulaymaniyah. Iraqi Kurdistan is the only legally identified zone inside Iraq. It has its own government and its own official forces.

In 2011, the estimated population of Iraq was 32,665,000 persons. Iraq comprises a variety of nationalities, ethnics and religions. Most of the Iraqi residents are Arabs, besides a good many Kurds, Turkmen come after, Assyrians, Shabak, as well Armenians, Charkas and other nationalities. Several foreign communities in Iraq estimated to be tens of thousands.

What is going on in Iraq?

Perhaps those proceedings would explain some of which is going on inside Iraq, especially the protests ignited in western and northern governorates (Al-Anbar, Saladin, Ninawa, Kirkuk, and Diyala), but especially in Al-Anbar. It might also explain the tension between the central government and the Iraqi Kurdistan, in addition to terrorist explosions killing hundreds of innocent civilians in many Iraqi regions from time to time.

Before the protests took place in Al-Anbar and other regions, tension dominated the political atmosphere starting with the Vice President Tareq Al-Hashemi’s terrorism case, judicial sentences and refuge to Turkey, and not ending with the big problems between Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan, continuous discord between the Republic of Iraq Coalition led by the Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and the Iraqi National List led by Ayad Allawi.

West Iraq protests were caused by arresting the Protection Commander of the Minister of Finance Rafea Al-Issawi, member of the “Iraqi List”, due to “terror” accusations. But this showed the issue as sectarian more than political.
Although some local and regional sides hurried to exploit the events and ignite sectarianism, unveiling devil intents for partition, as well as settling old political accounts with Al-Maliki, and perhaps with the whole Iraq; some Iraqi sides worked hard to save unity and get rid of riot, emphasizing on the necessity not to sectarianize the crisis, but rather to limit it with the political and judicial side. This is due to how critical the situation in Iraqi and Arab world is.

Until now, things seem to be escalating according to the Iraqi and regional data. This is clear under the attempts to link the unsound situation in Iraq with the exploding crisis in Syria, especially that some protest leaders are pointing at adopting division in Iraq, and flaming fires that would not only burn Iraq, but would also affect its neighboring countries.

Unstable Governorates, Geographically, Demographically

Al-Anbar Governorate:
Located to the west of Iraq; it is the largest province with an area of 138.000 kilometers squared. Its estimated population is more than 3.46 million persons. Before 1961, it was known as Dulaim.

Ninawa Governorate:
Located north Iraq; its center is Mosul, the second of great Iraqi cities. Its area is 32.308 kilometers squared. Its estimated population is 3.5 million persons.

Saladin Governorate:
It is one of the central Iraqi provinces. It was founded in the 1970s upon cutting wide areas from Baghdad and Kirkuk. Its area is 24.363 kilometers squared, and its population is around 1.34 million persons.

Diyala Governorate:
Its center is the city of Baaquba, to the northeast of Iraq. Its area is 17.685 kilometers squared. As for its population, it hits 1.40 million persons.

Kirkuk Governorate:
It is located in the center of northern Iraq, spreads over 9.679 kilometers squared, and is populated by more than 1.32 million persons who vary between Arabs, Turkmen, Kurds, and Assyrians. It is known for oil production in which six oil fields exist, the hugest is in the city of Kirkuk. Oil reserves are approximately 13 billion barrels.

Iraqi Kurdistan Governorate:
It is a federal entity, or a self-governed region north Iraq. Its capital is Irbil Province. It is bounded by Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, Syria to the west, and other Iraqi regions to the south. It is composed of three provinces: Dohuk, Sulaymaniyah, and Irbil. Its total area is 83.643 kilometers squared, and its population is more than 5 million people.

Translated by: Zeinab Abdallah