Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Real Baghdadi

This is from a very interesting LA Weekly article (thanks Aton for posting it):

'Although some Americans may not have gleaned this fact from U.S. media coverage at the time, there was a postinvasion honeymoon of about six months, and Al-Baghdadi immersed himself in it, even as Iraqi collaborators like him came under pressure from their families, neighbors, tribes and religious leaders to stop aiding the Americans, or face death.

One of the biggest mistakes he saw was the arrogance exhibited by some American soldiers as an occupying force; they considered Iraqis inferior in every respect because of how easily the coalition conquered Iraq. But, Al-Baghdadi argues, “The majority of Iraqis didn’t believe in the war. We believed Saddam was using the war to oppress his own people. That is why we didn’t fight.”

Faris Al-Baghdadi, though, was a man full of fight. When Operation Iraqi Freedom brought down Saddam, it had been only a few years since Saddam’s secret police had detained Al-Baghdadi, imprisoned and tortured him. His shattered and missing front teeth, which a dentist in the San Fernando Valley is now painstakingly repairing, are a constant reminder of his final, monstrous torture session in 1999. A Pepsi can was slammed into his mouth while electric wires were attached to his testicles. The can was jammed into other areas of his body, a rape by object, which is almost unimaginable. “They tried to take my manhood,” he says today. “They could not.”

Al-Baghdadi had reason to despise America but didn’t. During the Gulf War, his baby boy was killed in the Allied bombing of Nasiriyah, where he was stationed at the Ali Air Force Base as a first lieutenant under Saddam. He dug a small grave in the garden and buried his son but blamed Saddam, who used Al-Baghdadi’s family and thousands of others as human shields.

He took part in the Shia uprising at the end of the Gulf War in March 1991. Like thousands of other Shia rebels, he believed that American and coalition forces would aid their coup after George H. W. Bush called them to rise up against Saddam: “to take matters into their own hands.” Instead, in what some Middle East experts see as a devastating betrayal of Iraq’s citizens, the first George Bush decided not to help because of concerns about destabilizing the region. In a 1992 statement regarding the removal of Saddam, Dick Cheney said that had the U.S. toppled Saddam during the first war, “the question is, What do you put in its place? You know, you then have accepted the responsibility for governing Iraq.”

The Shia rebels and their families were ravaged and brutally suppressed by Saddam’s Republican Guard. While records of Al-Baghdadi’s torture do not exist, Major Jason Vose, who became the translator’s closest friend, says, “I do not doubt for a moment that he endured the torture and abuse from the former regime.”

Released from Saddam’s prison a nearly broken man, Al-Baghdadi left for Baghdad, joining his wife and his new baby girl, Samah. He watched in fury as the U.N. embargo imposed by Bush Sr., and then Bill Clinton, cut off essential supplies to the region. According to UNICEF and World Health Organization (WHO) reports, more than 1 million people died in Iraq from lack of medicine and food. Yet Iraq’s leadership, as reported in a 1997 analysis by USAF Lieutenant Colonel Randy T. Odle, “... still lived in the opulence enjoyed prior to the sanctions.” And did so until the 2003 invasion.'

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Iraq signing oil contracts without oil law

The capitalists see it as a good thing, naturally.

Iraq: Baghdad may yet fulfill its potential
By Carola Hoyos
Published: May 26 2009 05:25

After almost 40 years of exile, international oil companies are about to return to Iraq.

For companies such as BP, Shell, Total and ExxonMobil, Iraq represents the biggest opportunity in decades.

Not since the fall of the Soviet Union led to the revival of Russia’s industry and significant discoveries in central Asia, has such a promising oil frontier emerged.

The companies are among those expected to bid next month for oil service contracts. They hope their work in helping revive Iraq’s tired old fields will lead to being allowed to tap its vast undeveloped reserves.

Iraq has reserves of 115bn barrels, but war, sanctions and underinvestment have meant the country is able to produce only about 2.4m barrels a day, a fraction of its potential.

But the fall in oil prices – to about $60 a barrel, from $147 last July – has left a gaping hole in Iraq’s budget. As a result, politicians in Baghdad have finally become serious about writing contracts that oil companies are willing to accept, even without a hydrocarbons law.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Iraqi govt finally tackling corruption

It looks like the Iraqi government is trying hard to clean up its image before the elections. It's a bit late, in my opinion.

Iraq trade minister resigns amid scandal

Published: May 25, 2009 at 3:59 PM

BAGHDAD, May 25 (UPI) -- Iraqi Trade Minister Falah al-Sudany, accused of bribery, has resigned ahead of a scheduled vote of no confidence in parliament, officials said Monday.

Sudany was the first Cabinet minister in the history of the modern Iraqi state, dating back to the 1920s, made to publicly answer corruption charges, McClatchy Newspapers reported.

Sudany was interrogated on national television over a two-day period, struggling to answer a list of bribery allegations brought by the head of parliament's Integrity Committee, who alleged that Sudany and his brothers took a $40 kickback for every ton of rice imported into Iraq, the news service said.

A vote of no-confidence was set for Tuesday.

McClatchy said the Integrity Committee is also preparing to quiz other government agency officials, such as the ministers of electricity and oil.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

As the "resistance" continues...

Innocent Iraqis continue to die. Since 2003 I've heard the claim that the "legitimate" resistance does not target innocent civilians. I'm not sure what we're supposed to call people who kill Americans and Iraqi civilians with the same bomb. There are those who don't mind killing Iraqis while they kill US soldiers, or they will try to justify it by insisting that the Iraqis who died will go to heaven. This has happened many times in the last five years, with the attack on July 13, 2005 being perhaps the best example of the apathy some suicide bombers have for Iraqi kids, considering their primary aim is to kill US soldiers.

LAT: "Three American soldiers on foot patrol were among 25 people killed Thursday in Iraq in a fresh upsurge of violence that brought to 60 the number killed in the last 24 hours, the U.S. military and Iraqi police said.

The Americans were killed in the south Baghdad neighborhood of Dora by a roadside bomb that detonated near their patrol, the military said in a statement. According to Iraqi police, five U.S. soldiers also were wounded.

A dozen Iraqis were reported killed in the blast, in a busy shopping street in a once mostly Christian area known as the Assyrian market, police said. Dora is a former Sunni insurgent stronghold that has been largely pacified with the help of the Awakening Councils, comprising Sunnis who joined up with U.S. forces to fight the insurgency.

...Thursday's attacks came a day after a car bomb exploded at a busy market in the Shula district of northwest Baghdad, killing 35 people and shattering a relative lull in the capital over the last three weeks. April saw a spate of high profile bombings that caused hundreds of civilian casualties, but May had so far been quieter."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pics of abuse at Abu Ghraib were AQ recruitment tool

"Pictures from Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib have been among al Qaeda's most widely used and most potent recruitment tools in the post-9/11 era. Since early 2002, not a day has passed without Guantánamo being mentioned somewhere on the jihadi Internet. Outrage over Abu Ghraib was the single most important motivation for foreign jihadists going to Iraq in 2004 and 2005."

It's too bad our Arab brothers did not see the pictures of Iraqis tortured at Abu Ghraib before 2003.

PS: One of Saddam's Mukhabarat was waterboarded: 'The man was Muhammed Khudayr al-Dulaymi, head of the M-14 section of Mukhabarat, one of Saddam’s secret police organizations, Windrem reports. “His responsibilities included chemical weapons and contacts with terrorist groups.” Duelfer, “the man in charge of interrogations of Iraqi officials,” is quoted as saying: “To those who wanted or suspected a relationship, he would have been a guy who would know, so [White House officials] had particular interest.” Duelfer doesn’t cite Cheney’s office, but Windrem writes that “two senior U.S. intelligence officials at the time tell The Daily Beast that the suggestion to waterboard came from the Office of Vice President Cheney.”

PPS: I don't think anybody should feel too bad about waterboarding this scum bag.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Saddam's Killing Fields

I'm reposting this documentary because the YouTube clips I linked to in this post have been removed.

PS: I'm glad I found this video, the entire documentary, which was made in 1993. If you want to understand how the Iraqi Kurds and Shia felt about Saddam's regime before 2003, this is a must see documentary. Even Sunni Arabs might be enraged, as they should be, because many Iraqi Sunni Arabs were murdered by Saddam's regime.

A few parts are untranslated, like the interviews with Iraqi Shia who fled to Kurdistan. At 14 minutes into the video, survivors of the 1991 massacre in the south tell of relatives who were tortured and then killed in front of them. At 25 minutes there is incredible footage of the southern marshes that was taken in the 70s, and then footage of how it looked in the 90s, after Saddam's regime drained them.

Ahmed Chalabi has his faults, but he is undoubtedly brilliant.

"In 2006, Wood [the historian who made this documentary] joined the British School of Archaeology in Iraq campaign, aiming to train and encourage new Iraqi archaeologists, and has lectured on the subject."

Monday, May 11, 2009

Criminal Jarab entering Iraq via Syria again

Criminal jarab, like this guy.

US Urges Syria to Cut Flow of Foreign Fighters to Iraq

By David Gollust
11 May 2009

The United States Monday publicly called on Syria to do more to curb the traffic of foreign fighters to Iraq through Syrian territory. The transit to Iraq of foreign extremists, which had been reduced to a trickle in recent months, is reportedly increasing again.

The Obama administration has confirmed that senior U.S. envoys in Damascus last week made a direct appeal to Syrian authorities to again crack down on cross-border traffic of Arab militants, some of whom have apparently been involved in recent suicide bombings in Iraq.

The flow of foreign fighters through Syria to Iraq, which reportedly peaked at several dozen crossings a month in the middle of 2007, had been a major irritant in U.S.-Syrian relations.



'Obama last week renewed a set of sanctions against Syria that had been due to expire. In a note to Congress, he cited Syria’s support of terrorism, pursuit of nuclear weapons and missiles, as well as its actions undermining “U.S. and international efforts with respect to the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq.” '

Friday, May 08, 2009

Corruption plagues Iraqi govt

Corruption seen at root of Iraq's lack of services

Thu May 7, 2009 11:10am EDT

BAGHDAD, May 7 (Reuters) - Widespread corruption is at the root of Iraq's persistent, destabilising lack of basic services, Deputy Prime Minister Rafie al-Esawi said on Thursday. "The biggest challenge is not just the budget, which we were obliged to cut because of the drop in oil income, so that's beyond our control, but also corruption," he said.

Speaking at a conference on services in Iraqi provinces, Esawi cited a host of reasons for the lack of proper water, electricity and other basic services across the country.

Another major problem, he said, is continued violence, even though the bloodshed unleashed by the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 has fallen from its peaks in 2006-2007.

As violence fades, Iraqis focus more and more on problems plaguing daily life, such as intermittent electricity, a lack of clean drinking water and an outdated and overwhelmed sewage system.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Blackwater era ends in Iraq

Blackwater, now Xe, era ends in Iraq

BAGHDAD, May 7 (UPI) -- The era of Blackwater Worldwide, now called Xe, providing security to U.S. personnel in Iraq is over as another firm took over duties in Baghdad.

Triple Canopy, of Herndon, Va., picked up the security contract after the U.S. State Department did not renew Xe's contract in January. Iraq did not renew the company's operating license following a September 2007 shooting incident in Baghdad, CNN reported Thursday.

New Rules for Comments

I reserve the right to ban anybody from the comments section. If you repeatedly insult me and my relatives and accuse me of lying, you will be banned.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

"Stress" made him rape and murder

"Jurors began deliberating on the charges Wednesay, eight days after the trial began in U.S. District Court in western Kentucky.

Green has pleaded not guilty to charges that he raped 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi and shot her, her parents and younger sister to death in March 2006.

...But defense attorney Scott Wendelsdorf said jurors needed to take into account Green's stress and the Army's failure to address it. Jurors heard testimony that Green had spoken before the attack about having thoughts of killing Iraqis."

Monday, May 04, 2009

Zakaria and Engel (and Barney) on Real Time

I saw Bill Maher's latest last night. A very interesting episode, one of Maher's best, I thought. Bill Maher is very interesting. He's half Jewish and he supports Israel. I'm a big fan of the comedy shows that make fun of the stupidities of government, and I think Bill Maher wins the blue ribbon in this category. John Stewart is a close second. In his last episode Bill's guests were three very smart people: Fareed Zakaria, an Indian American journalist for Newsweek, Richard Engel, and Barney Frank, a US Congressman who happens to be Jewish and gay.

In the clip below Maher and his panel talk about Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and incredibly, Israel & Palestine! Maher gives some stats on Israeli settlers in the West Bank. I was pleasantly surprised. This is the first time I've heard Maher talk about Palestine. Engel basically blames the rightist shift in Israel for the lack of peace. Maher points out that religious extremists in Israel are a big part of the problem. Barney Frank tries to defend the Israeli position, saying that Gaza was an example of how pulling out doesn't work, and then Zakaria slams him in the end with the truth. Love it. America is changing. Zakaria is awesome. I like Barney Frank, but it's clear that Zakaria and Engel are the ones who know what they're talking about. I loved hearing Richard Engel say "I'm also very worried about what happens over there..."

I remember hearing Engel say that the Palestinians are essentially fighting for their homeland, and I expected to see that in Part 7, but it's not there. Whoever clipped this did not include Engel's statement on Gaza. Engel seems to understand that most Palestinians in Gaza are there as a result of ethnic cleansing that's taken place in the last 60 years.

Correction: I fast forwarded to about 40 minutes of the recording to verify what Engel said about Gaza. Engel said about 49 minutes into the episode "but if you are living in Gaza, you feel very much imprisoned, you can't leave, you have no ability to earn an income, you feel that you're bombing an area in Sderot that was really your homeland to begin with..." About two minutes of the episode was left out between Parts 6 and 7 of these clips, where they talk about Sderot and Gaza.

"Iraqis are refusing to succumb to terror"

"These pictures speak to how regular Iraqis are refusing to succumb to terror, choosing life for others even though it may mean the end of theirs." --Nibras Kazimi

Friday, May 01, 2009

Making Fun of Iranian Leader

I've posted this video before. I think it's very funny. Many Middle Easterners, however, do not see the humor in it, and some people are probably offended by it. My Iranian Austrian American ex girlfriend did not laugh and she told me that it's going too far. Many Arabs seem to agree. One of the things I love about America is that we are allowed to make fun of people, especially stupid people in government, and we make fun of stupid Americans all the time. In Iran I might be executed for posting this.

Domestic Violence in Iraq

It does not surprise me that there is domestic violence in Iraq. But genital mutilation? Honor killings?? In Kurdistan??

Iraqi women suffer regular domestic violence-UN
29 Apr 2009
Source: Reuters

BAGHDAD, April 29 (Reuters) - The vast majority of Iraqi women face domestic violence on a regular basis and many commit suicide because of it, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

Iraq and the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan should take measures to stop violence against women, including honour killings and genital mutilation, the UN mission in Iraq, known as UNAMI, said in a regular report on human rights.

"The sensitivity of Iraqi communities to issues concerning women is such that families are frequently not reporting to the authorities incidents of violence against women," it said.

To "escape the cycle of violence", many women turned to suicide.

Iraq should "investigate incidents involving gender-based violence, in particular the so-called 'honour crimes' perpetrated against women, and take measures to ensure that persons found responsible for committing these crimes are held accountable and brought to justice", UNAMI said.

UNAMI said it was concerned about threats against women because of the way they dressed, and it repeated a statement from November that women were threatened by rape, sex trafficking, forced and early marriages, murder and abduction. The 2003 U.S.-led invasion triggered a ferocious Sunni Islamist insurgency and sectarian bloodletting between once dominant Sunnis and majority Shi'ites. Religious extremists filled a vacuum of lawlessness, imposing conservative policies that were particularly intolerant of women's rights.

The violence has fallen sharply and, as extremists retreated, their influence waned.


The U.N. report, which covered the second half of 2008, said it paid special attention to the plight of women in Kurdistan, an area where ethnic Kurds, who are mostly Muslims, have enjoyed virtual independence since the end of the first Gulf War.

It said 139 cases of gender-based violence were recorded in the second half of the year in Kurdistan, which comprises three of Iraq's 18 provinces.
"Out of the total number, 77 women were seriously burned, 26 were victims of murder or attempted murder and 25 were cases of questionable suicide," the report said.

A total of 163 women were killed as a result of domestic violence in Kurdistan in 2009, compared to 166 in 2007.

Honour killings were a significant concern, it said.

The report cited an example of a father who shot and killed his 16- and 22-year-old daughters when he found out one of them was having a relationship. The father was not arrested.

The report expressed concern about female genital mutilation in Kurdistan, where many people think it is harmless and required by Islam. Some efforts were being made to address the problem, including the possibility of a law to make it illegal.

Still, a survey in the last quarter of 2008 by a German organisation found 98 percent of women in 54 villages in one area had undergone genital mutilation, the report said. (Reporting by Michael Christie; Editing by Robert Woodward)