“How does blood flow from a ghost?” (In: “They Didn’t Ask: What’s After Death?” Mahmoud Darwish, 1942-2008)*
“Nothing so terrible has happened to us since the Crusades.” An Iraqi friend
In November 2010, Iraq’s former Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz, under the shadow of execution, wrote to his lawyer requesting to be buried in Jordan and to be returned to his homeland: “after Iraq is liberated.” He feared his body would be desecrated – or exhumed by Iraq’s puppet government.
Fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tareq Al Hashemi, who is wanted on terrorism charges in Iraq, has fled to Saudi Arabia amid growing controversy over the role of the Gulf monarchies in the region’s volatile geopolitics.
Hashemi, a leading Sunni politician, is facing charges that he ran death squads at the height of the Shia-Sunni sectarian conflict in Iraq, which saw thousands killed, during the US-led nine-year occupation of that country. Hashemi denies the charges, but the authorities in Baghdad claim they have evidence that he personally directed Sunni death squads.
WASHINGTON, Dec 16, 2011 (IPS) – Defence Secretary Leon Panetta’s suggestion that the end of the U.S. troop presence in Iraq is part of a U.S. military success story ignores the fact that the George W. Bush administration and the U.S. military had planned to maintain a semi-permanent military presence in Iraq.
We are getting an insight into the rise of Al-Qaeda in Iraq – who pays for it and does it get its money? We will also reveal details about Iran’s secret war inside Iraq, and America’s massive use of air power – is it as pecise as they claim?
Iraq is back in the news, at least for a moment. The occasion is “A truly historic end to seven years of war”, in the words of Lt. Col Mark Beiger, quoted in the Washington Post, referring to the final withdrawal of “combat” troops from the country. It’s a cause for celebration: “‘Operation Iraqi Freedom ends on your watch!” exclaimed Col. John Norris, the head of the brigade. ‘Hooah!’ the soldiers roared, using an Army battle cry.”
One may recall President George W. Bush announcing the end of major combat operations on May 1, 2003, speaking on board an aircraft carrier under a sign declaring “Mission Accomplished”. More than seven years later, the announced “end” of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” may be similarly illusory.
With a general election in Iraq scheduled for January 2010, the U.S. is encouraging the Iraqi legislature to pass the requisite election law, while international oil corporations continue to compete for contracts to exploit Iraq’s natural energy resources.
After a meeting at the White House on Tuesday with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Obama said, “We are very interested, both of us, in making sure that Iraq has an election law that is completed on time so that elections can take place on time in January.”
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NEW YORK – In an important ruling affecting the public’s access to records regarding the cases of Guantánamo detainees, a federal court today denied a government motion to seal unclassified information related to those cases. Judge Thomas F. Hogan of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, citing a “First Amendment and common law right to access” judicial records, ruled that the government cannot suppress unclassified documents and must seek court approval to seal specific information.
The following can be attributed to Jonathan Hafetz, attorney with the ACLU National Security Project:
“Today’s decision is a victory for transparency. For far too long, the government has succeeded in keeping information about Guantánamo secret, and used secrecy to cover-up illegal detention and abuse. The decision marks an important step towards restoring America’s open court tradition that is essential to both accountability and the rule of law.”
The news from Iraq on Wednesday shows that the Iraqi government’s hold on power is fragile, and that it faces shadowy coup plotters from within and a continued guerrilla insurgency from without. Parliament is so divided that it had to go home after vehement wrangling in which the shoe-throwing journalist, Muntazar al-Zaidi, figured prominently. Al-Zaidi continued to be lionized by many Iraqis, including in Fallujah, where a student rally in his defense drew the fire of the US military. The British prime minister, Gordon Brown, showed up unexpectedly in Baghdad, to announce that British troops would be out of the country by June. Turkey bombed positions of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq for a second straight day.
On November 27 the Iraqi parliament voted by a large majority in favor of a security agreement with the US under which the 150,000 American troops in Iraq will withdraw from cities, towns and villages by June 30, 2009 and from all of Iraq by December 31, 2011. The Iraqi government will take over military responsibility for the Green Zone in Baghdad, the heart of American power in Iraq, in a few weeks time. Private security companies will lose their legal immunity. US military operations and the arrest of Iraqis will only be carried out with Iraqi consent. There will be no US military bases left behind when the last US troops leave in three years time and the US military is banned in the interim from carrying out attacks on other countries from Iraq.
Prisoners are being summarily executed in the government’s high-security detention centre in Baghdad. Robert Fisk reports
Like all wars, the dark, untold stories of the Iraqi conflict drain from its shattered landscape like the filthy waters of the Tigris. And still the revelations come.
The Independent has learnt that secret executions are being carried out in the prisons run by Nouri al-Maliki’s “democratic” government.
The hangings are carried out regularly – from a wooden gallows in a small, cramped cell – in Saddam Hussein’s old intelligence headquarters at Kazimiyah. There is no public record of these killings in what is now called Baghdad’s “high-security detention facility” but most of the victims – there have been hundreds since America introduced “democracy” to Iraq – are said to be insurgents, given the same summary justice they mete out to their own captives.
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The big bang is not that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s majority Shi’ite/Kurdish 37-member cabinet in Baghdad has approved the draft of a security pact with the George W Bush (and Barack Obama) administrations allowing the US military to stay in Iraq for three more years; it’s that the 30-strong Sadrist bloc will move heaven and Earth – including massive nationwide protests – to bloc the pact in the Iraqi National Assembly. Continue reading →