Not only were the sappers unhindered but so were the escapees:
The Taliban statement said it took four and a half hours for all the prisoners to clear the tunnel, with the final inmates emerging into the house at 3:30am. They then used a number of vehicles to shuttle the escaped convicts to secure locations.
Government officials corroborated parts of the Taliban account. They confirmed the tunnel was dug from the nearby house and the prisoners had somehow gotten out of their locked cells and disappeared into the warm Kandahar night.
I love that bit about how the prisoners "somehow" got out of their "locked cells" don’t you? And what about that bit about "the warm Kandahar night". Plainly inside that reporter there’s a lyricist just panting to escape — just like those Taliban prisoners now that I think of it.
And before any Americans who happen to be reading this throw their eyes up to heaven and start muttering about corrupt and inept Afghan guards, can I just remind them that as the Taliban statement gloatingly pointed out, the guards at that prison "includes foreign invaders" you get no prizes whatsoever for guessing which country most of those "foreign invader" guards come from. Having now seen them in action in Irak, and Afghanistan all I can say about the performance of the inept and brutal buffoons in the US Forces and the government led by President Barack Obama which they serve, is that they and the Taliban fucking well deserve one another
Comments Off Posted on January 4th, 2011 by Saba Ali
José Luis Gómez del Prado, Chairman of the United Nations Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries, has provided a damning indictment of private military and security companies (PMSCs), the use of which has expanded hugely over the past two decades.
The Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the rights of peoples to self-determination was established in July 2005 pursuant to Commission on Human Rights resolution 2005/2. It succeeded the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the use of mercenaries, which had been in existence since 1987 and was serviced by Mr. Enrique Bernales Ballesteros (Peru) from 1987 to 2004 and Ms. Shaista Shameem (Fiji). In March 2008, the Human Rights Council extended the mandate of the Working Group for a period of three years.
In the early 1990s, the DynCorp company was contracted by the United States to air-spray Colombian cocaine plantations, train the national army, and dismantle drug rings. By the middle of 2010, however, the U.S. Department of Defense had nearly 210,000 mercenaries in Iraq and Afghanistan, or about 20 per cent more personnel than the regular military. The worldwide U.S. total is about 240,000, with two-thirds of them coming from host countries and third countries. The main companies are American and British; many of their board members have come through the revolving door between high military ranks and the private war business. The industry, minuscule before 2001, now has a value of about $200 billion a year.
Some PMSCs are so notorious that they have changed their names (Blackwater, for instance, now calls itself Xe). In Iraq, they have intensified political instability and public hatred of the occupying forces. Blackwater/Xe may also have been involved in using white phosphorus as a chemical weapon in Fallujah. In Colombia, Washington gave DynCorp immunity from prosecution over long-term diseases, including cancers, caused by its spraying. In Croatia, MPRI company staff cannot be tried for ethnic cleansing (with which many Croatian officers have been charged). In Iraq, the mercenaries have immunity from criminal prosecution. Victims have to make civil claims at their own expense in U.S. or British courts — as do PMSCs’ own staff, many of whom are victims of poor training and equipment, and brutal employment practices. As for the work, PMSCs have carried out rendition flights, tortured captives, and engaged in open combat, frequently causing terrible civilian casualties. Washington has circumvented a U.N. arms embargo by contracting MPRI to equip and train the Croatian army. In effect, many PMSCs are agents of foreign policy. The 1989 U.N. International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, which covers individuals and not companies, is not adequate to deal with the current situation. It is extremely disturbing that PMSCs are taking over the military functions of the state, in apparent freedom from domestic or international accountability. The sooner they are brought within the ambit of international criminal law, the better.
It’s well worth your while reading the full report on Norgrove’s death from The Independent instead of just the first three paragraphs that I’ve given below. I didn’t believe the original storyline from the moment I read it. From the original reports I suspected that the US special forces troops had gone in using the wrong weapons, the wrong tactics , and above all the wrong attitude. That, as usual, they’d indulged themselves in the excessive use of violence and that the very person they were supposed to be rescuing was dead as a result. Why? The giveaway was the claim that she’d been killed by one of her captors who was wearing a suicide belt.
I find that claim very difficult to believe. Suicide belts are put on just before their wearer goes to attack his target by blowing himself up in his target’s immediate vicinity. In this instance we were supposed to believe that somebody slept in a suicide belt and detonated it as the rescue took place.
What in God’s name were the Americans thinking of – chucking fragmentation grenades around in a confined space holding the hostage they were supposed to be rescuing? Then they lied about it. This is the sort of thing that loses you allies fast, and the British government is already under strong political pressure to get to hell out of Afghanistan.
There is a term of art in American military parlance, "Clusterfuck" it means a confused and self-destructive military operation.
The American and British governments’ account of the death of Linda Norgrove in Afghanistan fell apart yesterday, with the revelation that she may have been killed by the US forces sent to free her.
David Cameron was forced to retract his announcement that the 36-year-old aid worker had been murdered by one of her captors. Instead, the Prime Minister said, a grenade thrown by an American soldier may have killed her.
None of the US special forces taking part initially reported throwing fragmentation grenades near Ms Norgrove, and it only came to light after video footage from head cameras worn by members of the squad was examined.
Guess what? Having done the El Salvador option in El Salvador and in Irak it seems that the death squad option is now being well and truly being exercised by some American troops in Afghanistan. Surely you’re not surprised?
On the tape, obtained by ABC News, Morlock admits helping murder three Afghans:
Dressed in a t-shirt and Army shorts, a 22-year-old corporal from Wasilla, Alaska casually describes on a video tape made by military investigators how his unit’s "crazy" sergeant randomly chose three unarmed, innocent victims to be murdered in Afghanistan.
Snip … … …
On the tape, obtained by ABC News, Morlock admits his role in the deaths of three Afghans but claims the plan was organized by his unit’s sergeant, Calvin Gibbs, who is also charged with pre-meditated murder.
Snip … … …
"He pulled out one of his grenades, an American grenade, you know, popped it, throws it, tells me where to go to whack this guy, kill this guy, kill this guy," Morlock told the investigators.
In some ways there is no comment necessary on the video confessions obtained by ABC News why on earth would anybody be surprised that American troops in Afghanistan plant weapons on corpses to try to justify killing civilians? — They did it in Irak and when they couldn’t get hold of a spare weapon they would plant a spade and pretend their victim was planting a bomb.
Why would anybody be surprised that having committed attrocities in Irak that a sergeant in the American army death squad member would boast to his comrades in Afghanistan about getting away with "stuff". Why would anybody be surprised that he went on to discuss possible “scenarios” for killing civilians in Afghanistan? — He had every reason to suppose he was among like-minded people. He had every reason to suppose that his superiors would turn a blind eye just so long as he wasn’t too blatant:
The revelations have led to calls for a credible investigation to establish whether the command environment – which favours full-on engagement with the enemy – encouraged abuses, and what, if anything, senior officers knew about the killings and substance abuse on the base. There are also question marks over whether the army’s whistleblower system failed to act on reports of a death squad.
Not only did sergeant death squad leader have reason to suppose he had a sympathetic audience amongst his immedaite comrades. He also had good reason to suppose that at the highest levels of the American command structure that there is at least one general office who publicly relishes killing people as "fun". Remember this?
General: It’s ‘fun to shoot some people’ – CNN:
Lt. Gen. James Mattis, who commanded Marine expeditions in Afghanistan and Iraq, made the comments Tuesday during a panel discussion in San Diego, California.
"Actually it’s quite fun to fight them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot," Mattis said, prompting laughter from some military members in the audience. "It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up there with you. I like brawling.
"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil," Mattis said. "You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."
I’ve seen far too much of various forms of types of cowardly and vicious behaviour towards innocent and unarmed civilians in Irak to have been even remotely surprised when I saw it in Afghanistan. And, no, it’s not just "a few bad apples".
"A few bad apples" is a comforting lie that people like to tell themselves. I understand why some people might want to lie to themselves by saying that "it’s just a few bad apples" but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is still a lie and that those telling it , even if it is only to themselves, are still liars. Nobody ever solved a problem by refusing to admit that there was a problem in the first place. It’s definitely not just "a few bad apples". From what I and other Gorilla’s Guides team members have seen day in day out for years I would have to contend that the organisational culture of the American armed forces make death squads and other warcrimes inevitable. To use another food related proverb "fish rot from the head down".
For as long as Americans continue to believe that their country is "the shining city on the hill" that they are the "good guys" and are entitled to do "whatever it takes" this sort of barbarity will take place and Americans, all of them will be associated with it in the minds of Muslims throughout the world. These attrocities are being committed by American troops, who come from American society, with American values and attitudes, amd who have been trained and indoctrinated in America by other American soldiers. The current wave of Islamophobia in America merely serves to underline to Muslims the world over that their suspicion that the soldier who actively demonstrates his hatred for "rag heads" and "muzzies" and "sand niggers" is just being a typical American is correct. That their suspicion that he is doing what other Americans would do if they had the chance is correct. And that the underlying attitude in America towards them is now and always has been that:
“The only thing these sand niggers understand is force and I’m about to introduce them to it.”
Unfortunately they have good reason for their suspicion, and that suspicion is spreading. There’s a reason why America’s allies pulled out of Irak leaving it to fight there alone. There’s a reason America’s allies are pulling out of Afghanistan leaving it to fight there alone. And it’s the same reason in both cases, both wars are being lost by America and for the same reason as America lost in Vietnam:
"So it wasn’t the press that was the problem. The problem was that we were in the wrong place with the wrong tactics."
My focus is on a different aspect of this border crossing closure operation from those that the writer of the Firedoglake postings highlighted. What interests me about this particular operation is how successfully the information stream was controlled and polluted by the Pakistani military.
When writing about Pakistan or Afghanistan anybody without direct access to reliable local sources is forced to rely on reports from news agencies such as AP, Reuters, or AFP. The problem with that is that western news agencies have a horrible tendency to treat as gospel whatever some military spokesman or another will tell them without doing any investigation of their own. It doesn’t seem to matter whether the person in uniform is American, or Pakistani, or German, or British, or even Danish, all that matters is that they’re in a uniform. This tendency to believe anything that somebody in a uniform says to them is an aspect of the increasing militarisation of western societies and makes news agency editors and journalists open to manipulation by soldiers who want to pollute the information stream. The article from Reuters headlined "Militants set fire to NATO tankers in Pakistan" illustrates the problem neatly and is a perfect example of deliberate information stream pollution by military sources, I’ve emphasised the critical paragraph in the extract below:
Militants set fire to NATO tankers in Pakistan | Reuters:
(Reuters) – Suspected militants in Pakistan set fire to three dozen tankers carrying fuel for NATO troops in Afghanistan on Friday, officials said, a day after three soldiers were killed in a cross-border NATO air strike.
Angered by repeated incursions by NATO helicopters over the past week, Pakistan has blocked a supply route for coalition troops in Afghanistan.
[snip] … … …
Senior local officials blamed "extremists" for the attack on the tankers in the southern town of Shikarpur. About 12 people, their faces covered, opened fire with small arms into the air to scare away the drivers and then set fire to 35 tankers.
Reuters started their report by passing on uncritically and without comment a whopping big lie fed to them by Pakistani military sources. If you’re going to start with a lie start with a really big one:
"Suspected militants in Pakistan set fire to three dozen tankers … … …
What extremists would those be?
Take a look at a road map of Pakistan. Find the port of Karachi and then going North trace the supply routes to Afghanistan. (You’re looking for two routes an eastern route and a western one) :
The Eastern leg goes through Quetta while the western leg the goes through the Kohat tunnel and the Khyber. As you trace the routes from Karachi you can see that they fork. Shikarpur, which is the town in Sindh where the convoy was attacked is below the fork. — There aren’t any "militant" groups operating in that part of Pakistan. Shikarpur is very far away from the border and from the "tribal" areas.
(As a secondary question, where were the convoy’s armed guards while all this was going on?)
Then there’s the problem with the source:
"Senior local officials … … …
That "senior local official" is either a former member of a particular branch of the Pakistani military 1 , 2 or a civilian who reports to them. A "senior local official" may well be a civilian but they’re not part of a civilian civil service as the term is understood here in the west they’re part of a civilian civil service which defers to the military and often takes its orders from them.
The Pakistani government and military are rightly outraged at an attack on their troops by a supposedly friendly NATO (read America). In response they’ve launched an operation to show how much leverage over NATO/American logistics they have. Part of that operation is to control and if necessary pollute the information stream. I find it hard to believe that twelve "militants" conveniently turned up a hell of a long way from where they normally operate and torched a convoy without any opposition either from the convoy’s guards or the local paramilitary police or army. When I look at a map and consider the facts I find it very easy to believe that the Pakistani military thoroughly understand the concept of "plausible deniability".
We have a saying in Irak which translates into English as follows:
“Away goes the white dog and now comes the black dog”.
It means, as you might suspect, that the differences between two people are so small and insignifcant that it is foolish to expect any difference between them either in their opinions or in their actions.
On "Gorilla’s Guides" as part of our masthead we have a quote from an American commander to the New York TImes‘ defense correspondent Michael R. Gordon about Arabs, in this case Iraki Arabs:
"The only thing these sand niggers understand is force and I’m about to introduce them to it."1
We have it there to remind our readers and ourselves of what American soldiers are like and the values and attitudes of the society in which they grew up that sent them here. The Iraki experience of America, Americans, American "values", American generals, and the troops commanded by those generals is that Americans react with unthinking hysterical indiscriminate violence whenever they meet opposition. And that it does not matter whether that opposition is armed or not. It does not matter who is injured or killed men, women, children, we are all sand niggers and killing sand niggers is a good thing. "The only thing these sand niggers understand is force and I’m about to introduce them to it".
"You have to understand the Arab mind," one company commander told the New York Times, displaying all the self-assurance of Douglas MacArthur discoursing on Orientals in 1945. "The only thing they understand is force — force, pride and saving face." Far from representing the views of a few underlings, such notions penetrated into the upper echelons of the American command. In their book "Cobra II," Michael R. Gordon and Gen. Bernard E. Trainor offer this ugly comment from a senior officer: "The only thing these sand niggers understand is force and I’m about to introduce them to it."
Some might like to argue that all of that was under the Bush administration but that things are different and better under President Obama. Really? “Away goes the white dog and now comes the black dog”.
"Actually it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know it’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up with you. I like brawling."
That’s the new over-all commander of the American invasion forces in Afghanistan and Irak speaking.
“Away goes the white dog and now comes the black dog”. He goes on to say this:
"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years, because they didn’t wear a veil. You know guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot ‘em."
You can watch and listen to him saying it in the YouTube video below.
“Away goes the white dog and now comes the black dog”. Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis is reflecting the values of the people he serves, their armed forces and their government. The arrogance, the unthinking fear and loathing of Muslims, the immediate resort to violence. And the viciously cynical pretence that the savage use of indiscrimante violence is somehow in aid of human rights or vindicating the rights of women. Go ask the more than one million widows in Irak or the 5 million orphans how America and Americans have vindicated their human rights. Saddam was bad but as an Iraki I can tell you from experience that America and Americans are worse.
If you go and read the comments on the Washington Post article you will find comments such as:
"This general has the right attitude. Mattis should be running the country, not just Central Command. The US would be better off as a warrior based society. Posted by: 1911a1 | July 9, 2010 7:30 AM | Report abuse
"Beautiful. I love this guy already. Maybe with him in command we’ll rightly kill all the extremists plus anyone who dares to mess with us. And as this guy understands, anyone who does deserves to die. He’s right – it IS fun to shoot ayholes like these people. Let’s kill those who need to be and be done with it and celebrate our victory as the best country in the world. Posted by: mikeinaustintx | July 9, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse
"The General is right. There are a lot of Afghans that deserve to be shot. I see nothing wrong with his statement at all Posted by: dbeins | July 9, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse
or how about this?
"I am a die hard liberal and I have no problem with the general’s comments. Barbaric men, read muslim, should be treated the same way as they treat their women. Posted by: mortified469 | July 9, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse
“Away goes the white dog and now comes the black dog”. When it comes to the American war on Islam there is no difference worth talking about between the Obama administration and the Bush Administration. None. Obama is carrying forward, and expanding, Bush’s war against Muslims. He is a little less vicious, somewhat more efficient, and a lot better at putting a pretty mask on the evil that America does in Muslim lands. “Away goes the white dog and now comes the black dog”. Both Bush and Obama are commanders in chief of armed forces renowned for their deliberate attacks on civilians as an act of policy approved at the highest levels of their command structure. Human rights? “Away goes the white dog and now comes the black dog”. Under Obama the torture camp at Bagram has become larger, busier, and worse.
“Away goes the white dog and now comes the black dog”. There is no difference between an evil American pervert in uniform who admits to enjoying killing human beings and the perverted cowards who slaughtered the Southern tribes and the Kurds for Saddam. There is no difference between this pervert who now is the overall commander for Irak and Afghanistan and who publicly flaunts his enjoyment of violence and of killing human beings and the perverted cowards in the Badr Brigade death squads who gloried in using electric drills on their victims before finally killing them.
“Away goes the white dog and now comes the black dog”. There is no difference between the (Democrat) Secretary of State who says that 500,000 dead Iraki children is a price she thinks worth paying and the Republican one who describes the children slaughtered by the Israelis in Lebanon as the "birth pangs of a new Middle East".
My brother you should save your grief in the matter of arms. It is not a question of my taking them up – I have never put them down. Do you think we stopped the death squads from coming into our neighbourhood by nicely asking them to refrain from murdering our neighbours? I can assure you that we were far from gentle with those we discovered bringing bombs into the district. When my comrades and I protected your co-religionists we did not do it by waving olive branches threateningly. – We were somewhat more direct. Would that there were more like us and that we were stronger in the north were that the case your co-religionists in Mosul could walk freely in the city that is their home instead of fleeing in despair.
Sometimes violence is justifiable, sometimes it is right to kill one or more of your fellow human beings. But even when the killing is justified to enjoy it is depraved and disgusting. If you want the perfect example of why as a human being, a Muslim, and an Arab, I find America, its values, its cynicism, its cowardice and its thuggish actions to be depraved disgusting dangerous and evil it is because without exception the commanders of the American armys of invasion and occupation have been commanded by the sort of scum who publicly flaunt their viciousness and their evil:
"The only thing these sand niggers understand is force and I’m about to introduce them to it.
“Away goes the white dog and now comes the black dog”.
"Actually it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know it’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up with you. I like brawling."
With commanders like that it is not surprising that your soldiers behave in the way the do. They are the perfect ambassadors for the society that sent them. Just as the cowards who slaughtered the Turkish peace activists on the flotilla are the perfect representatives of the racist apartheid settler state that America is so fond of.
By appointing a man such as this as overall commander for the American forces of invasion and occupation of both Afghanistan and Irak the Obama administration has proved yet again that the differences between them and the Bush administration that preceded them are so small as to be irrelevant.
Irak is for the Irakis. You Americans are welcome to your racist thugs in uniform and to your perverts in uniform who publicly gloat about what fun it is to kill people. Keep them at home with you in America where they belong. Irak is for the Irakis and because of how Americans have behaved towards my people Americans are not welcome here.
Mohammed Ibn Laith
Comments Off Posted on May 14th, 2010 by Diya al din
اعلنت وزيرة الخارجية الاميركية هيلاري كلينتون ان العملية العسكرية في قندهار ستتم مع الحرص على حماية المدينة التي تعد معقلا لحركة طالبان في جنوب افغانستان . وقالت ان "لن تكون هناك فلوجة اخرى فقد تعلمنا الدرس في العراق" في اشارة الى الاحتلال الاميركي للمدينة التي دمرتها قوات المارينز بالكامل تقريبا في 2004 . واضافت كلينتون امام خبراء في المعهد الاميركي للسلام في واشنطن ان القوات تريد "عملية ناجحة للقضاء على التمرد. لا ان تدمر قندهار خلال محاولة انقاذها ". والقت كلينتون كلمتها الى جانب الرئيس الافغاني حميد كرزاي في اليوم الاخير من زيارته الى الولايات المتحدة .
Comments Off Posted on April 22nd, 2010 by Ra'ed Al-Bayati
Turkey and Iran in talks on post-election Iraq : Today’s Zaman,:
Turkey and Iran, two major powerhouses in the region with significant clout over Iraqi domestic politics, have been trying to reconcile their differences to bolster post-election Iraqi unity, diplomatic sources have told Today’s Zaman. It may very well have been overshadowed by Iran’s nuclear program, which has topped the international agenda in recent weeks, but the question of what will happen in Iraq after the general elections was the second most important issue on the Turkish foreign minister’s to-do list when he visited Tehran on Tuesday to have a series of talks with the Iranian leadership, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Al Jazeera English – Middle East – Iraqis allege ’secret jail’ abuse:
Editor’s note: You can watch the AL-Jazeera video report here.
Al Jazeera has obtained interviews with two men who were allegedly tortured in the al-Muthanna air base prison in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
The former detainees said they were pressured, under the use of painful techniques, to admit to crimes they had not committed.
"Our hands [were] tied and eyes covered so we couldn’t see the torturers. The informants were dictating to them that ‘This guy did this, or did that’. And he was swearing to God that this guy has performed that action," one of the men said. "But we were all innocent."
The man showed dozens of cigarette burns that he said were inflicted on him by prison officers with the full knowledge of authorities.
Former detainee on being tortured in one of Maliki’s "Secret" Prisions:
"We were tortured for four long months continuously. Whether you recognise or not, whatever they want you to say, they keep torturing you and the prisoners. They died in the torture."
Rohan Gunaratna on the killing of al-Qaeda leaders:
"The information (that) security forces gather when they capture or kill leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq leads to other leaders. And the more leaders they kill, the more Iraqis will come forward with intelligence on the others out there."
Iraqi authorities have arrested a prominent militant believed to have been in charge of relations between Al-Qaeda in Iraq and the terror network’s branches in other countries, Arab daily Al-Hayat reports.
The man was arrested in the eastern city of Baquba as he was organising a suicide attack against the city’s police headquarters, the paper said, citing unnamed intelligence sources.
كونا : Iraqi officer escapes south Baghdad blast – الدفاع والأمن – 22/04/2010:
Col. Sattar Abduljabbar, head of the electricity department of the Western region, and his companion were wounded when an explosive device glued to his BMW car went off near a ramp south of the Iraqi capital, adding that the vehicle was destroyed. Meanwhile, a similar blast at the Al-Saydiyyah area in Baghdad injured three civilians.
BBC News – US Navy Seal cleared over attack on ‘Blackwater killer’:
A US military jury has cleared a US Navy Seal of helping to cover up an attack on an Iraqi suspected of killing four Blackwater guards in 2004. Petty Officer Julio Huertas, 28, was found not guilty of dereliction of duty and attempting to influence the testimony of another service member.
A tale of three cities: Washington, Baghdad, Tehran | openDemocracy:
But as events on the ground in Iraq evolve – and as pressures on US forces elsewhere (especially Afghanistan and its military surge) escalate – the overall argument in Washington is now moving on. The developing view is that the the security situation in Iraq is improving (albeit with some major challenges still to face); that this is making unnecessary any combat-role for the American military personnel left after the drawdown; and that a more comprehensive evacuation of Iraq will free even more troops for the Afghanistan campaign (see “Iraq’s shadow over Afghanistan”, 4 February 2010). This assessment has the further political advantage of enabling Barack Obama and his team to claim some success in avoiding what was long predicted: that whatever its intentions the US could be trapped for many more years in the “quagmire” of Iraq.
Alliance with al-Maliki Does Not Mean Abandoning Negotiations- Al-Sadr Spokesman Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English):
By Rahmat al-Salaam
Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat-The Sadrist Trend, which is the main component of the Iraqi National Alliance, led by Ammar al-Hakim, continues to underline the need for sitting on the negotiation table. Sheikh Salah al-Ubaydi, spokesman for the Al-Sadr Trend, said that "the trend continues to ask all the winning parties to sit on a roundtable to reach a solution to the crisis of forming the next government."
On whether the expected alliance between the State of Law Coalition, led by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, and the Iraqi National Alliance would lead to the exclusion of the Al-Iraqiya Bloc, led by Iyad Allawi, from the next government, Al-Ubaydi told Asharq Al-Awsat that any alliance between the two coalitions "does not mean abandoning the roundtable for forming the government and choosing the candidate for the post of the next prime minister," adding: "We have sent reassurance messages to all parties, which say that any alliance of this kind does not mean excluding or marginalizing others." He emphasized that "one of the most important points which we emphasized is to avoid and not to repeat the mistakes of the previous experience, particularly since the concern of the Iraqi street focuses on the need for stabilizing the security situation and also improving the living condition. Therefore, the negative phenomena that prevented the implementation of these positive points should be overcome, in addition to our demand that there should be no partisan appeasement , particularly concerning the issue of financial and administrative corruption even if the accused is a leader or affiliated to this of that party." He emphasized: "We want a real partnership government and not a government that is concerned with the interests of one party as happened in the past."
Iraq remains a long way off from forming a new government – The Globe and Mail:
He may have “won” last month’s Iraqi election, but there is little chance that Iyad Allawi will head the next Iraqi government. Six weeks after Iraqis braved threats of violence to cast ballots, giving Mr. Allawi’s Iraqiya party two more seats than Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the country is still a long way from having a new government. Unfortunately for Mr. Allawi, the demographics of the country and the role of outside parties have conspired against him. The best the one-time provisional prime minister can hope for, say observers in Baghdad, is a relatively minor role in cabinet for some of his people. It’s not for want of trying. “[Mr.] Allawi has done everything he could,” said one veteran analyst with an international organization in Baghdad. “But he had to play the hand he was dealt.”
Violence highlights fears of Iraqi security forces taking over after U.S. leaves
By Leila Fadel Washington Post Foreign Service Sunday, April 18, 2010; A12
RADWANIYAH, IRAQ — Raw welts and purple bruises run down the backs of dozens of Sunni Muslim men in a small village west of Baghdad — evidence, local residents say, of abuse by the Iraqi army that threatens to widen a sectarian rift.
The wounds came from beatings administered last month by soldiers from the predominantly Shiite force charged with protecting the Sunni community here, villagers said. One by one, they said, the Sunni men were questioned, beaten and shocked with electricity in a roundup by mostly Shiite Iraqi soldiers, who were reeling from the killing of five comrades at a checkpoint.
The violence comes at a time when the performance and professionalism of Iraq’s security forces are facing a crucial test. With U.S. troop levels scheduled to drop to 50,000 by summer’s end, Iraqi security forces control the streets. But they face deep mistrust in particular from Iraqi Sunnis, who in some areas consider the Army a less-than-neutral instrument of a Shiite-dominated government.
In Radwaniyah, Sunni tribal leaders say the beatings have cemented fears about what might happen when the U.S. military leaves for good. They worry about being caught between the Sunni insurgents they turned against and a Shiite-led government they do not trust.
*BAGHDAD – A bomb attached to a car exploded, severely wounding five people in the Saydiya district in southern Baghdad, police said.
*MOSUL – Police found the body of man who had been shot in Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.
BAGHDAD – Iraqi police killed a gunman who opened fire on a police checkpoint in the Amiriya district in western Baghdad, Baghdad security command said in a statement.
BASRA – A bomb planted in the house of a leader of the local government-backed council leader exploded in central Basra, 420 km (260 miles) southeast of Baghdad on Friday night, killing his wife and wounding his son, police said.
A U.S. soldier was killed and three were injured when their helicopter crashed in northern Iraq late on Saturday evening, the U.S. military said on Sunday.
In a brief statement, the military said the incident had not been attributed to enemy fire and was under investigation.
KUNA : U.S. on target to reduce forces in Iraq to 50,000 by August — Odierno – Military and Security – 18/04/2010:
The U.S. military remains on target to reduce its forces in Iraq from about 95,000 today to around 50,000 by mid-August, U.S. Army General Ray Odierno, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, said on Sunday.
In an interview on "FOX News Sunday," Odierno said there was no move under way by the United States to revisit the Security of Forces Agreement with Iraq, which calls for all remaining U.S. forces to be out of that country by the end of 2011.
If the Iraqi government wants U.S. forces in Iraq longer than that, "we can discuss it. … then we (U.S. officials) will make our own decision on that based on our policies," Odierno said.
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has announced it will commence flights from Abu Dhabi to Baghdad on April 26, subject to government and regulatory approvals, becoming the first airline in the UAE to fly to Iraq.
Etihad will operate five return services per week to Baghdad, operated by two-class Airbus A320 aircraft, and will expand its operation with two additional A320 return services to a second Iraq destination – Erbil – from June 1, subject to government and regulatory approvals.
Anham replaces Agility as US military supplier – Emirates Business 24|7:
Dubai-based Anham has won a $2.2 billion (Dh8.08bn) contract to provide food and support services to the US military in Kuwait, Iraq and Jordan after Kuwait-based logistics firm Agility was replaced as the main supplier following indictments for overcharging
Argus Media :Analysis – Baghdad plans refinery spree:
Iraq is drawing up plans to expand its effective refining capacity by 150pc to 1.2mn b/d at a cost of $10.5bn.
The additional 740,000 b/d of capacity will come from four planned refineries (see table). A fifth planned refinery with a capacity of 100,000 b/d close to the 800mn bl East Baghdad heavy oil field is on the back burner because the field was not awarded to a foreign oil company in Iraq’s second bidding round in December.
Cash-strapped Iraq will be unable to fund its planned downstream expansion alone and will seek private-sector investors. “We are open to discussing any type of investment. These can be joint ventures, build-operate-transfer agreements, build-own-operate agreements, or engineering contracts with deferred payment,” Iraq’s deputy oil minister for refining and gas processing Ahmad al-Shamma told Argus.
The Peninsula On-line: Turkey’s TPAO plans to bid for Iraq fields:
The state-run Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) is planning to bid for development of Iraq’s Akkas, Mansuriyah and Siba natural gas fields, TPAO Chief Executive Mehmet Uysal said in an interview yesterday.
Uysal said TPAO aims to bid for the Akkas field in partnership with Italy’s Edison, and added that Chevron and Chinese firms are interested in gas and oil exploration in the Black Sea.
“We have already started preparations seriously for oil exploration license tenders for which there will be invitations from now on. We can bid in partnership with consortia,” Uysal said.
TPIC, the foreign exploration unit of state-run Turkish Petroleum, won a $318m contract to drill 45 wells in Iraq’s supergiant Rumaila oilfield in March.
Green Scare: The Making of the New Muslim Enemy | by Deepa Kumar | CommonDreams.org:
The events of September 11 laid the basis for the emergence of a vicious form of Islamophobia that facilitated the U.S. goals of empire building in the 21st century. This form of Islamophobia focused on the enemy "out there" against which the U.S. supposedly had to go to war to protect itself, from Afghanistan to Iraq.
As George Bush famously put it, "We’re fighting them there, so we don’t have to fight them here." Or as he stated in his West Point speech in 2002, "We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans and confront the worst threats." In short, an endless "war on terror" on the enemy beyond U.S. borders was now justified, according to Bush.
The most virulent expression of this "Green Scare" was articulated by NYU professor Tunku Varadarajan. In a Forbes.com article titled "Going Muslim" (http://www.forbes.com/2009/11/08/fort-hood-nidal-malik-hasan-muslims-opinions-columnists-tunku-varadarajan.html) published in November 2009, Varadarajan argued that what precipitated the tragedy at Food Hood–when Major Nidal Hasan turned a gun against his co-workers and killed 13–was not the racist harassment that Hasan faced in the Army or the emotionally debilitating nature of being an overworked Army psychiatrist, but rather a condition that he sees as inherent to all Muslims: the tendency towards violence.
The Foreign Office claims it opposes secret detention, but it has endlessly stonewalled the truth from my charity Reprieve.
Six years ago the British took two men into custody in Iraq. Working with the Americans, the UK then rendered the men to Afghanistan where they have been held ever since in secret detention, beyond the protection of law.
The charity for which I work, Reprieve, has been trying to reunite them with their legal rights. We do not insist that they are innocent – although the evidence suggests that they are. We do insist that they should be allowed a fair trial.
The government has a policy for this kind of thing of course. Let us identify the policy, and then compare it with the government’s practice.
Of course, this is what Reprieve seeks to do, at no cost to the public.
"The UK’s position on secret detention is clear," said a Foreign Office spokesperson recently. "We oppose any deprivation of liberty that amounts to placing individuals beyond the protection of the law."
Here, Reprieve seeks to put an end to the two prisoners’ detention beyond the protection of the law.
Thus, one might reasonably assume that the government would want to help us bring the law into this secret prison.
Yet there seems to be no government policy requiring adherence to principle. For several years the government simply lied about their involvement. Consider, for example, the statement that Jack Straw made on 13 December 2005 to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee (FASC): "Unless we all start to believe in conspiracy theories and that the officials are lying, that I am lying, that behind this there is some kind of secret state which is in league with some dark forces in the United States … there simply is no truth in the claims that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition full stop, because we have not been … Some of the reports … are in the realms of the fantastic."
And so it went on. But in 2009, John Hutton admitted that the two men had, indeed, been rendered. I immediately wrote to him asking for their names so that Reprieve could offer them free legal representation. The Ministry of Defence wrote back saying that to disclose their names would violate the Data Protection Act. (It was OK, apparently, for Hutton to say that they were both irredeemable terrorists who should be held without trial by the US military.)
Over the next 14 months, Reprieve spent several thousand pounds trying to identify the men. We tracked down former Bagram prisoners on three continents, and they provided circumstantial hints that we pieced together. Every penny we spent could have been saved had the government merely told the truth.
We discovered evidence that proved Hutton had misled parliament as well. At least one prisoner could not possibly have been a member of the Sunni extremist group, Lashkar e Taiba, since he was a Shia rice farmer.
Over and again, as our investigation progressed, we asked the government simply to confirm their names. We underlined the heartache suffered by their innocent families. The government batted away each reasonable request.
Ultimately, this week, we had no choice but to sue to confirm the prisoners’ names.
As the political parties squabble over cutting waste, they would do well to begin with the government’s pointless defence of the indefensible with their expensive hired legal guns – here, as in Binyam Mohamed’s case.
As if this were not folly enough, now the government has threatened to try to make Reprieve – a charity – pay their legal expenses. This is a blatant ploy to try to intimidate us from bringing suit.
When I complained about it yesterday, the MOD issued a hyperbolic response: "The suggestion that Reprieve has been ‘intimidated’ by a threat of costs is ridiculous." In a perverse way, this is true: we will not be intimidated, as their stratagem simply offends us.
The MOD goes on to say that they have issued this threat because we would not give them a "reciprocal" assurance that they would not have to pay us for their illegal actions, and their endless stonewalling of the truth. I cannot speak for the British lawyers involved in the case, but there is no question of the government paying Reprieve. They never have paid us for any work we have done for prisoners in secret prisons, and there is no reason to think that they are about to start now.
So it ultimately comes down to this: they want to fritter away billions on banks, but steal donations from Reprieve, a charity doing the work that they claim to encourage. It is the Robin Hood tax with a twist: rob from the poor to give to the rich. Perhaps we have finally learned what the term New Labour means: socialism turned upside-down.