Iraqi forces agree with Kurds to defuse tension - World Updates | The Star Online


Iraqi military leaders agreed on Monday with commanders from the Kurdistan region to defuse tension and discuss pulling their troops back from an area over which they both claim jurisdiction.

Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdish region last week sent thousands of troops into the oil-rich territories along their contested internal border, raising the stakes in a long-running row over land and oil rights.

Military leaders from both sides met at the Ministry of Defence in Baghdad in the presence of a senior military officer from the United States on Monday.

A statement from the commander in chief of the Iraqi armed forces said the two sides had agreed to “start pacifying the situation and discuss a mechanism to return the forces which were deployed after the crisis to their previous positions”.


Kurds Fight Islamist Rebels In Syria, Threaten Independence In Iraq | The Agonist

[T]here are many who would say I am a hero for doing what others would not while putting myself at extreme risk … I understand the sentiment, and I trust that there are those who truly believe that all service members are heroes, simply for signing up. But I can’t help think that for some, “hero” is a throw-away word, designed to demonstrate a “support the troops” position or guarantee applause at an event.

… I don’t feel comfortable being called a hero. In fact, my brow furrows and my mind sharpens when I hear it. Words matter, and “hero” is so loaded and used so frequently that it stands to lose its meaning altogether. Maybe this is just New York cynicism, but I know I’m not the only veteran who feels skeptical when he or she is placed in the hero bin along with every other service member from the past 10 years. I admire the fact that men and women with whom I served chose a dangerous profession for their country – often making the decision after 9/11. But, these are soldiers. Soldiers are human beings. There are good ones and bad ones. A few do amazing, heroic things. The rest do their jobs – incredible, unique jobs – but jobs, nonetheless. Some perform happily, others grudgingly. And I argue that most feel embarrassed when lauded as heroes.

Don Gomez, Iraq War Veteran (via letterstomycountry)
Although the wary pundits who criticized the early chemical weapons stories were wrong about this particular case, they were right about the overarching truth of the situation: the invasion and occupation of Iraq was an horrific war crime in itself, regardless of what weapons or tactics were or were not used. Even without the chemical weapons, the death squads, the tortures of Abu Ghraib, the rapes and rampages, the deliberate empowerment of violent extremists, the endless barrage of lies, and the world-historical levels of corruption and war-profiteering that characterized the reality of the war, this act of aggression would still be a work of the most vile, most putrid, most irredeemable evil. … The destruction of Fallujah was like a black hole, where all the evil of the war was sucked in and concentrated with unbreakable force. So I think it’s worth reiterating, once more, the actual context of this atrocity that is now reverberating through the twisted, tormented bodies of children born long after the guns have fallen silent.

Chris Floyd, “After the Fire, the Fire Still Burns”: Horror Goes on for Victims of Iraq War Atrocities

Writing in response to “Iraq records huge rise in birth defects” from the Independent. From that report:

It played unwilling host to one of the bloodiest battles of the Iraq war. Fallujah’s homes and businesses were left shattered; hundreds of Iraqi civilians were killed. Its residents changed the name of their “City of Mosques” to “the polluted city” after the United States launched two massive military campaigns eight years ago. Now, one month before the World Health Organisation reveals its view on the legacy of the two battles for the town, a new study reports a “staggering rise” in birth defects among Iraqi children conceived in the aftermath of the war.

High rates of miscarriage, toxic levels of lead and mercury contamination and spiralling numbers of birth defects ranging from congenital heart defects to brain dysfunctions and malformed limbs have been recorded. Even more disturbingly, they appear to be occurring at an increasing rate in children born in Fallujah, about 40 miles west of Baghdad.

There is “compelling evidence” to link the increased numbers of defects and miscarriages to military assaults, says Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, one of the lead authors of the report and an environmental toxicologist at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. Similar defects have been found among children born in Basra after British troops invaded, according to the new research.

US marines first bombarded Fallujah in April 2004 … Seven months later, the marines stormed the city for a second time, using some of the heaviest US air strikes deployed in Iraq. American forces later admitted that they had used white phosphorus shells, although they never admitted to using depleted uranium, which has been linked to high rates of cancer and birth defects.

… The latest study found that in Fallujah, more than half of all babies surveyed were born with a birth defect between 2007 and 2010. Before the siege, this figure was more like one in 10. Prior to the turn of the millennium, fewer than 2 per cent of babies were born with a defect. More than 45 per cent of all pregnancies surveyed ended in miscarriage in the two years after 2004, up from only 10 per cent before the bombing. Between 2007 and 2010, one in six of all pregnancies ended in miscarriage.

The new research, which looked at the health histories of 56 families in Fallujah, also examined births in Basra, in southern Iraq, attacked by British forces in 2003. Researchers found more than 20 babies out of 1,000 were born with defects in Al Basrah Maternity Hospital in 2003, a number that is 17 times higher than recorded a decade previously. In the past seven years, the number of malformed babies born increased by more than 60 per cent; 37 out of every 1,000 are now born with defects…

Dr Savabieasfahani said that for the first time, there is a “footprint of metal in the population” and that there is “compelling evidence linking the staggering increases in Iraqi birth defects to neuro-toxic metal contamination following the repeated bombardments of Iraqi cities”. She called the “epidemic” a “public health crisis”.

Dr Savabieasfahani said she plans to analyse the children’s samples for the presence of depleted uranium once funds have been raised. She added: “We need extensive environmental sampling, of food, water and air to find out where this is coming from. Then we can clean it up. Now we are seeing 50 per cent of children being born with malformations; in a few years it could be everyone.”

(via theamericanbear)
In seeking to replicate a policy which its own UN administrator at the time characterised as “effectively genocidal”, those implementing and advocating for intensified and far-ranging sanctions against Iran are waging an indiscriminate war against the Iranian people, despite the broad consensus and observable historical track record that sanctions only serve to immiserate innocent civilians while consolidating the hold on society of the governing regime. If, as many US officials have publically said, the goal of sanctions are to forcibly coerce Iranians to rise up and overthrow their government, the decimation of the Iranian middle class through the collapse of the economy will have only the opposite effect. The people of Iran will suffer potentially catastrophic harm as Iraqis did a decade earlier, while their state grows increasingly repressive and empowered relative to a poor and destitute population - a natural outcome within a command economy such as Iran’s. It is incumbent upon all those concerned that the grotesque crimes of the past not be repeated, and that the blanket, indiscriminate economic war against the Iranian people not continue in the name of political expediency. The blunt instrument of untargeted sanctions against a country are not an alternative to war but a form of war in and of themselves, even more pernicious in that the victims are always necessarily the weakest and most vulnerable of society.
Murtaza Hussain, Sanctioning society: From Iraq to Iran via Al Jazeera English (via jayaprada)
The then-leaders of the United States [Bush] and Great Britain [Blair] fabricated the grounds to behave like playground bullies and drive us further apart,” he wrote. “They have driven us to the edge of a precipice where we now stand - with the spectre of Syria and Iran before us.

Tutu urges trial for Blair and Bush over Iraq via Al-Jazeera

The South African peace icon, writing in Sunday’s Observer newspaper, accused the pair of lying about weapons of mass destruction and said the invasion left the world more destabilised and divided “than any other conflict in history”.

Tutu argued that different standards appeared to apply for prosecuting African leaders than western counterparts, and added that the death toll during and after the Iraq conflict was sufficient for Blair and Bush to face trial.

Trial all the presidents war-criminals.

(via arielnietzsche)
President Obama fulfilled the U.S. commitment to withdraw from Iraq that the Maliki government wrung out of the Bush administration, and he stopped the CIA from kidnapping people and bundling them off to Guantanamo. But even after his much-vaunted “withdrawal” from Afghanistan, there will still be twice as many U.S. troops there as when he took office. And he halted the parade of men in orange jump suits stumbling off American planes into the tropical sunshine in Cuba, not by restoring the rule of law, but by ordering the extra-judicial execution of terrorism suspects — a national policy of cold-blooded murder. Not a week goes by without news of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan or Yemen, but the U.S. also conducts assassinations by helicopter-borne special forces like the ones who killed Osama Bin Laden. The former head of Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Admiral Eric Olson, told an Aspen Institute conference that SOCOM conducts a dozen such operations every night in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The total number of night raids in Afghanistan escalated from twenty per month in early 2009 to over a thousand per month two years later, and senior officers admit that at least half of them target the wrong person or house. Sixty thousand U.S. special operations forces now conduct assassinations, night-raids, training missions, joint operations and exercises in 120 countries around the world, twice as many as when Obama came to power, with deployments in about 70 countries at any given time.

Nicolas J.S. Davies: Obama’s America: Waiting for Blowback

He goes on to say:

The current expansion of U.S. special forces to conduct covert and proxy warfare sacrifices U.S. long term interests in peace, stability and the rule of law for short-term political gain, just as when U.S. “advisers” were sent to Vietnam in the 1950s and to Central America and Afghanistan in the 1980s. But which of the 120 countries where U.S. special forces now operate will become the next Vietnam or Iran or Guatemala?

The blowback is causing uprisings—which is seen in Assam, India and in Kenya (which are both funded by America):

Could it be India, which holds 50 joint training exercises a year with U.S. forces, the most of any country in the world, as it battles separatists in Kashmir and Assam and a “people’s war” by Naxalites or Maoists in 7 other provinces?

Or what about Uganda, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Djibouti or Kenya, where U.S. forces are training African Union “peacekeepers” to fight the Al-Shabab militia in Somalia? Or the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic or South Sudan, where U.S. special forces have been sent to track down Joseph Kony but are suspected of planning a covert war against Sudan?

(via arielnietzsche)
That must have been easy to say, especially if he were already in the air, the country for which nearly 4,500 Americans and an untold number of Iraqis have died, becoming smaller and smaller beneath him. I am guessing the word “opportunity” here is fungible. What we do know is this: in the last month, some 409 Iraqis were killed during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The deaths occurred during several waves of coordinated attacks, most recently on August 16, when an estimated 70 were killed and more than 200 wounded in more than a dozen towns and cities and Baghdad neighborhoods.
Revisiting Iraq (via arielnietzsche)
Here, as a start, is a little scorecard of what’s gone on in Iraq since Big Oil arrived two and a half years ago: corruption’s skyrocketed; two Western oil companies are being investigated for either giving or receiving bribes; the Iraqi government is paying oil companies a per-barrel fee according to wildly unrealistic production targets they’ve set, whether or not they deliver that number of barrels; contractors are heavily over-charging for drilling wells, which the companies don’t mind since the Iraqi government picks up the tab. Meanwhile, to protect the oil giants from dissent and protest, trade union offices have been raided, computers seized and equipment smashed, leaders arrested and prosecuted. And that’s just in the oil-rich southern part of the country.
Greg Muttitt | Whatever Happened to Iraqi Oil? (via theamericanbear)
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