Saturday, March 31, 2012

Murdered Iraqi American woman buried in Najaf

"An Iraqi-American woman found bludgeoned to death in her California home last week, with a threatening note left beside her body, was buried in her native Iraq on Saturday. Family members wept uncontrollably by her graveside and her father asked God to exact revenge on those responsible for her death."

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Only 10 heads of state at Arab League Summit

AP: "In a snub to Iraq, only 10 heads of state from the Arab League's 22 members attended, with the rest sending lower-level officials. Especially notable were the absences of the rulers of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and most other Gulf countries, as well Morocco and Jordan — all of them headed by Sunni monarchs who deeply distrust the close ties between Baghdad's Shiite-dominated government and their top regional rival, Iran.

...The Gulf countries also see Iraq as too soft on Syria. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have talked of arming Syria's opposition, apparently eager to bring the fall of Assad and break the Sunni-majority country out of its alliance with Iran."

Iraq is back

Many Iraqis like to think so.

Liz Sly of the WP: "Arab leaders assembled in Baghdad on Thursday for a landmark summit marked by lavish hospitality, speeches hailing Iraq’s return to the Arab fold — and a rocket explosion at the Iranian Embassy on the edge of the fortified Green Zone, where the gathering was taking place.

It was a day full of symbolism for a newly assertive Iraq, anxious to shed its reputation as the region’s outcast, a country too dangerous, too dysfunctional and too tainted by its associations with both Iran and the United States to accomplish anything so ambitious as a summit attended by Arab heads of state."

Monday, March 26, 2012

Invitees of Arab Summit mostly Sunni

'The invitees are almost all Sunni, and though many nations are not sending their heads of state, the fact that all have said they will come is considered a signal of Iraq's reacceptance into the Arab fold after more than two decades of isolation. Only Syria, which was suspended from the Arab League in November because of its government's brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, will not be there.

Arab states "are seeing Iraq rising again. It is showing independence," Zebari said. "And it is not an Iranian-controlled and -occupied country as they thought." '

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Salafi media: Shia are "worse than Jews"

'Several Salafi channels in tightly controlled Saudi Arabia have appeared to seize on Syria to escalate their case against Iran and Shiites in general, analysts add. Salafis are ultraconservative Sunnis whose interpretations of Islam overlap with those of al Qaeda.

"There will be slaughter and killing in every Arab country if the Syrian revolution is extinguished," said a news anchor this month on the Saudi-based Safa channel, adding that "Shiites are worse than Jews." '

Mosul is ruled by Al Qaeda

Reuters: 'Baghdad's ministers describe Iraq's crippling infrastructure problems as an opportunity to invest. Occasional explosions are dismissed as the last throes of isolated cells trying to show they are still relevant in a country where the overwhelming majority is committed to peace.

But during a visit of several days in Iraq's third largest city, security officials and residents of Mosul painted a picture far worse than commonly understood from Baghdad.

Far from being furtive and on the run, al Qaeda and its allies maintain a hold over economic and political life that shows little sign of loosening. Residents speak fearfully.

Um Qassim's family of nine are Shi'ites from the small Shabak minority, one of the many ethnic groups that share Iraq's most diverse city. They have had to abandon their home and move into two rooms across town.

"They have displaced all the Shabak from their houses to eastern Mosul. Whoever resists, they kill him or bomb his house," Um Qassim said.

As she began speaking to Reuters, her husband approached, clearly agitated: "Be careful, do not mention your real name," he said. "Keep in your mind that they can reach us anytime."

Shop owners say they are forced to pay protection money to the militants. Security officials say the fighters are raising millions of dollars per month here, which they use to fund bomb attacks across Iraq.

"They keep coming, every three months, to take $300 - $100 per month - always at the same time but not the same person," said a pharmacist, who spoke to Reuters only when his shop was empty and became silent whenever a customer entered.

"They are very organized and very polite. I cannot get rid of them. The pharmacist next door refused to pay. They planted a bomb inside his pharmacy and one of his workers lost his leg."

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Many Iraqi Sunna & Shia still distrust each other

A must read in the NYT: 'In places like Al Adel, some Shiite families view the Sunni families who stayed behind as complicit partners of the violent Sunni militants who overran many mixed neighborhoods. But many Sunni families say they now feel like they are being hounded by returning Shiites who, for the first time in centuries, have the force of the government and army at their backs.

...Many Sunni families watched over houses vacated by their Shiite neighbors, but Mr. Majid believes others invited squatters and became the eyes of Sunni militants, passing along information about their Shiite neighbors."

Baghdad hasn't hosted a summit since 1990

WP: "Baghdad has not hosted an Arab summit since 1990, only two months before then-ruler Saddam Hussein invaded neighboring Kuwait. After that, Iraq was all but ejected from the Arab fold, put under years of international sanctions, then mired in the near-civil war that followed the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and fall of Saddam."

Osama bin Laden funded Bali attack

Jakarta Globe, March 23: "Osama bin Laden gave the Jemaah Islamiyah $30,000 (Rp 322 million) to carry out terror attacks in Southeast Asia, a key witness in the ongoing trial of Bali bombmaker Umar Patek told a Jakarta court yesterday."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Salam Fayyad: Stop using Palestinian cause to justify murder

'Extremists must stop using the Palestinian cause to justify their acts of violence, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said on Wednesday after a deadly attack on a French Jewish school.

"It is time for these criminals to stop marketing their terrorist acts in the name of Palestine and to stop pretending to stand up for the rights of Palestinian children who only ask for a decent life," the Palestinian premier said in a statement.'

I like Salam Fayyad.

Syrian rebels committed serious abuses

LAT: 'Syria's armed rebels have committed "serious human rights abuses," including kidnappings and torture, and reportedly executions, of security personnel and civilians, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.

The group painted a dark picture that is in stark contrast to the "freedom fighter" image that the rebels and their political allies outside Syria have sought to project to the world.'

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

20 bombs exploded at 13 sites in Iraq: 46 killed

LAT: "The targets of the attacks included Shiite Muslim pilgrims, Iraqi police, an army patrol, government officials and guards outside a Christian church in Baghdad."

Monday, March 19, 2012

There are murderous racists in America

Well Iraq is not the only country where a bigot can get away with murder. The story of a young black teenager murdered by a racist "neighborhood watch" schmuck with a gun has energized American media. Weeks after I read about the story on Gawker and Raw Story, the murderer has not been arrested. Today the story caught fire in mainstream media (except for FOX News).

In Florida, if you are a man with some authority, you can kill a man or a kid, claim self defense, and the government will look the other way, just like in Iraq! But ordinary and extraordinary Floridians are PISSED and they're doing something about it. I've been perusing some of the comments for the petition to arrest the murderer. One woman (an MD) wrote: "I can't wait for the FBI to get involved since the State of Florida is dragging its racist heels!"

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

After the White House initially said it's a local matter, the US Dept of Justice and the FBI announced they would launch their own investigations.

This type of murder, the type that comes from racism, has happened a lot in America's history, but in 2012? OMG it's embarrassing. Americans should be better than this.

Sadrists want electricity, water, and education

CNN: "Tens of thousands of followers of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr marked the ninth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq on Monday by demanding improvements in public services in the war-torn country.

Some of the protesters carried coffins marked "electricity," "water" and "education" through the streets of the southern oil city of Basra. Others carried cables and water containers to express their frustration with the lack of basic utilities."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Iraqi govt is complicit in murders

HRW: “The government has contributed to an atmosphere of fear and panic fostered by acts of violence against emos,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Instead of claiming that the accounts are fabricated, Iraqi authorities need to set up a transparent and independent inquiry to address the crisis.”

So now Iraqi authorities are saying the accounts of murder are fabricated? How sad and embarrassing for Iraqi Shia!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Harsh sanctions may strengthen Iranian regime

just like sanctions strengthened Saddam, Chomsky argues:

'The sanctions against Iran may have the same effect as their predecessors against Iraq, which were condemned as “genocidal” by the respected U.N. diplomats who administered them before finally resigning in protest.

The Iraq sanctions devastated the population and strengthened Saddam Hussein, probably saving him from the fate of a rogues’ gallery of other tyrants supported by the U.S.-U.K. – tyrants who prospered virtually to the day when various internal revolts overthrew them.'

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Extremists want to control women

A great comment by Hillary Clinton: “Why extremists always focus on women remains a mystery to me, but they all seem to. It doesn’t matter what country they’re in or what religion they claim. They want to control women. They want to control how we dress. They want to control how we act. They even want to control the decisions we make about our own health and bodies.”

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Torture in Syria worst in 30 years

LAT: "The scale of torture in Syria since an antigovernment uprising began a year ago amounts to crimes against humanity and is the worst the country has experienced in 30 years, says an Amnesty International report released Tuesday."

Bad guys can't hide anymore

I'm watching Friday's Real Time With Bill Maher again and I liked what Bill said: bad guys can't hide anymore. The internet is allowing normal people to expose the criminals of the world, like Kony, the first person to be indicted by the International Criminal Court. The Telegraph's headline: 'Luis Moreno Ocampo, the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, has defended the creators of the Kony 2012 viral video hit, saying that the campaign has "mobilised the world".'

I posted this on fb and wanted to post it here too, just in case you have not seen it.

The internet has become useful in so many ways.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The ironies in Islam

I have always wondered if some people chuckle when they read the parts of the Qur'an that say gay people should be killed and then they read the parts that say Allah is "merciful and compassionate". Merciful and compassionate? Really?? Murder and compassion are mixed together. There is tragic ironic comedy in Islam. The Qur'an is like a gun: it gives people confidence, but it can be very dangerous when placed in the wrong hands (or mind).

Huffington Post: "Officials and human rights groups estimated as many as 58 Iraqis who are either gay or believed to be gay have been killed in the last six weeks alone – forecasting what experts fear is a return to the rampant hate crimes against homosexuals in 2009. This year, eyewitnesses and human rights groups say some of the victims have been bludgeoned to death by militiamen smashing in their skulls with heavy cement blocks.

A recent list distributed by militants in Baghdad's Shiite Sadr City neighborhood gives the names or nicknames of 33 people and their home addresses. At the top of the paper are a drawing of two handguns flanking a Quranic greeting that extolls God as merciful and compassionate."

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Killed for wearing American jeans

There are mujrimeen among the Shia in Baghdad, and they kill in the name of Islam:

"Youngsters in Iraq are being stoned to death for having haircuts and wearing clothes that emulate the ‘emo’ style popular among western teenagers.

At least 14 youths have been killed in the capital Baghdad in the past three weeks in what appears to be a campaign by Shia militants.

Militants in Shia neighbourhoods, where the stonings have taken place, circulated lists yesterday naming more youths targeted to be killed if they do not change the way they dress.

Al-Bayaty said the killings appear to have been carried out by extremist Shia militias in mostly poor Shia neighborhoods and said she suspected 'there's complicity of the Ministry of Interior in the killings.'

Photos of the victims were released on Facebook, causing panic and fear among Iraqi students."

Read more:

I understand now why so many people believe Iraqis lived better under Saddam.

Democrats & Republicans agree: "containment" is not an option with Iran

Today I watched last night's episode of Real Time With Bill Maher. Bill asked the Israeli ambassador to the US if there is any difference between Obama's view on Iran and the Republicans' view. Bill said he doesn't see a difference, and the ambassador seemed to agree. That means the US policy is to seek end to the Supreme Leader's regime. There might be a difference in how they would like to achieve this goal.

He also asked the Israeli ambassador about settlements in the West Bank. Bill asked if he supports Israel, does he have to support Likud? Does an Israel supporter have to support settlements? The ambassador said no, and that Israel supports peace.

I was impressed by Bill's comments on settlements. The Israeli ambassador, who is also American, made a case to overthrow the dangerous regime in Iran. I too would like to see the end of the backward regime in Iran, but I would rather not see a war like the wars with Iraq. There are other ways to overthrow despots. Obama seems to have the right policy. Having said that, it would be nice to see the end of the Ayatollahs' power.

I'm hoping to see the end of Islamic stupidity and injustice in Baghdad too. Yesterday it was revealed that 'At least 90 Iraqi teenagers with "emo" appearances have been stoned to death by religious extremists in Baghdad in the past month after an inflammatory interior ministry statement dubbed it "devil worshiping" ' (thanks Aton for the link). The Iraqi government, which is filled with backward Shiite fundamentalists, is complicit in the murders.

Also during the show Bill said that he "got crap from the left and the right this week". He defended his defense of Rush Limbaugh. I thought that was a bad idea just a couple days ago, but Bill made some good points: Rush Limbaugh is not like Bill Maher, which a few conservatives have asserted. Sarah Palin called it hypocrisy, but it really isn't hypocrisy. Bill said Limbaugh didn't even make a joke. He said Limbaugh is "a stupid fat fuck who's not funny" but we should not push him off the air just because he was offensive. It's true that Rush has the freedom to be offensive, and of course freedom of speech is one of our most important rights, but Limbaugh's sponsors also have the freedom to pull their ads from his show, just like ABC had the freedom to fire Bill Maher a decade a ago.

There is one thing Rush Limbaugh and Bill Maher probably agree on: the US must help Israel against Iranian threats of annihilation.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Iraqi activists try to get tough on "honor killings"

On International Women's Day I was reminded that "honor killings" still exist in Iraq. Thanks Haydar for sharing.

'Near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, a father doused his three teenage daughters with boiling water and shot them because, he told a court, he suspected they were having sex. Two died.

He said he killed them to defend his honor.

Murder in Iraq can carry a death sentence but under laws that activists say are far too lenient for so-called “honor killings”, the father was jailed for just two years. Medical examinations showed the girls were virgins.

The light sentence was a result of Article 409 of Iraq’s penal code which is often used in cases of “honor killings” by men. Women’s activists in Iraq, led by the only woman in Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s cabinet, Minister of State for Women’s Affairs Ibtihal al-Zaidi, are lobbying to change the law.'

Continue reading

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Palestinians are an invented people?

Apparently many schmucks in America and Israel think so. I used to hear this a lot from the Zionuts on the Yahoo message boards more than a decade ago. Evidently Newt Gingrich (schmuck extraordinaire who wants to be President) also believes this:

'The campaign sugar daddy of Newt Gingrich (and soon, Romney) is Sheldon Adelson, a multibillionaire casino owner and hawkish Zionist who endorses Gingrich’s view that the Palestinians are “an invented people” who have no historic claim to a homeland. Gingrich told Aipac that “if an Israeli prime minister decides that he has to avoid the threat of a second Holocaust through pre-emptive measures, that I would require no advanced notice to understand why I would support the right of Israel to survive in a dangerous world.” '

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Saddam could have had nuclear weapons by mid-1990s

if he had not invaded Kuwait, the author of this article argues:

'By demonstrating Iraq’s vulnerability, the attack on Osirak actually increased Hussein’s determination to develop a nuclear deterrent and provided Iraq’s scientists an opportunity to better organize the program. The Iraqi leader devoted significantly more resources toward pursuing nuclear weapons after the Israeli assault. As Reiter notes, “the Iraqi nuclear program increased from a program of 400 scientists and $400 million to one of 7,000 scientists and $10 billion.”

Iraq’s nuclear efforts also went underground. Hussein allowed the IAEA to verify Osirak’s destruction, but then he shifted from a plutonium strategy to a more dispersed and ambitious uranium-enrichment strategy. This approach relied on undeclared sites, away from the prying eyes of inspectors, and aimed to develop local technology and expertise to reduce the reliance on foreign suppliers of sensitive technologies. When inspectors finally gained access after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, they were shocked by the extent of Iraq’s nuclear infrastructure and how close Hussein had gotten to a bomb.

Ultimately, Israel’s 1981 raid didn’t end Iraq’s drive to develop nuclear weapons. It took the destruction of the Gulf War, followed by more than a decade of sanctions, containment, inspections, no-fly zones and periodic bombing — not to mention the 2003 U.S. invasion — to eliminate the program. The international community got lucky: Had Hussein not been dumb enough to invade Kuwait in 1990, he probably would have gotten the bomb sometime by the mid-1990s.'

How Israeli leaders justified attack on Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981

'On June 7, 1981, eight Israeli F-16 fighter jets, protected by six F-15 escorts, dropped 16 2,000-pound bombs on the nearly completed Osirak nuclear reactor at the Tuwaitha complex in Iraq. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Defense Minister Ariel Sharon saw the reactor as central to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s quest to build nuclear weapons, and they believed that it posed an existential threat to Israel.

The timing of the strike was justified by intelligence reports suggesting that Osirak would soon become operational. Two days later, Begin explained the raid to the public: “We chose this moment: now, not later, because later may be too late, perhaps forever. And if we stood by idly, two, three years, at the most four years, and Saddam Hussein would have produced his three, four, five bombs . . . another Holocaust would have happened in the history of the Jewish people.” '

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Iranian Canadian sentenced to death in Iran for "desecrating Islam"

Amnesty International: 'Saeed Malekpour, a Canadian resident, was sentenced to death for "insulting and desecrating Islam" after a program he developed for uploading photos online had been used to post pornographic images without his knowledge.

Iran's 2009 law on “cyber crimes” allows the use of the death penalty. Malekpour, accused of being part of “a network of decadence on the Internet,” could be executed at any time.

Saeed Malekpour was arrested in 2008 when he went to Iran to visit his family. He was held in solitary confinement for a year, brutally tortured, and forced to make a “confession” which was aired on Iranian television. He was sentenced to death in October 2010 after a trial in a Revolutionary Court that lasted about 15 minutes; his death sentence was upheld in January 2012.'