we really need to think about the topics he's addressing. we do not have a free press and we certainly do not need to turn freedom of speech over to a bunch of gtech companies who then decide what we can and cannot discuss.
let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'
Wednesday, August 11, 2021. Once again, the US government looks the other way at torture to endorse an incumbent, another political assassination takes place in Iraq, Mustafa uses a suspect as a campaign prop in a photo-op, Nouri wants back in the game, and much more.
Daily violence is a fact of life in occupied Iraq and has been since the start of the ongoing war. XINHUA notes:
Six Iraqi security members were killed and 11 others wounded on Wednesday in a huge explosion in the province of Salahudin, north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, a provincial police source said.
The explosion took place in a truck carrying explosives and weapons found by the security forces in the west of the town of Baiji, some 200 km north of Baghdad, Mohammed al-Bazi told Xinhua.
ALSUMARIA notes the death toll has risen to 9. And you can't talk about the violence without including the violence carried out by the US-backed government against the Iraqi people. We'll note these Tweets:
And we'll again note Louisa Loveluck's report earlier this month for THE WASHINGTON POST:
Four years after the U.S.-backed defeat of the Islamic State group here, more than 40,000 inmates are packed in prisons across Iraq’s federal and Kurdish regions. Judicial records and court visits suggest that roughly half were arrested on terrorism charges, then tried in a system that affords little effort to weigh specific evidence against them.
The UN report would have come out in early July, as originally intended, but the White House felt it would embarrass President Joe Biden if it was released prior to his July 26th meeting with Mustafa al-Kadhimi, prime minister of Iraq. US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield worked hard to delay the release of the report until after the meet-up took place. Creating violence, covering up violence, the US government is always part of the cycle of violence in Iraq.
That cycle includes the assassination of a politician this week. THE SIASAT DAILY reports Abeer Salim al-Khafaji, the mayor of Karbala, was shot dead. ARAB NEWS notes two city employees were also shot (no word on whether they survived or not) and they explain that "Al-Khafaji was killed by gunmen while supervising a municipal campaign accompanied by security forces to stop abuses in the Al-Mamlji area, Iraq News Agency reported."
Mustafa was always an attention whore but desperation -- he wants a second term -- has only made that worse. An arrest was made and the suspect wasn't just arrested. He was taken to Mustafa so he could be posed for photos. AFP reports:
His office released photographs of him berating the suspected killer, who had been blindfolded by his police captors, during a visit to the crime scene.
The images did little to assuage public anger at the apparent impunity for politically linked crimes that has seen more than 70 activists targeted for assassination since October 2019.
"The weakness of the security forces goes hand in hand with the intimidation of society by the tribes, religion and the political parties," one Twitter user complained.
Another demanded that Kadhemi show the same energy in tracking down the killers of pro-reform activists.
The suspect has not been found guilty by a court of law but Mustafa can toss out the man's rights and use him as a prop in his campaign for a second term. This is disgusting and this is who the US government is working overtime to deliver a second term to. You'd think the US government would have learned to stay out of it. But they haven't. Even though Joe was Vice President in 2010 when Nouri al-Maliki lost the election and refused to step down -- for over eight months -- and the US decided to back Nouri. Over the objections of many -- including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the top ranking US military member in Iraq General Ray Odierno. Gates is well aware of how poorly Joe acted during this and that remains one of the big sources of friction between the two.
But Joe backed the plan to give Nouri a second term. So they tossed out the votes of the Iraqi people with The Erbil Agreement and Nouri got that second term. Barack and Joe lied to the Iraqi politicians -- we can go over that again at another time. The point here is that we paid attention in real time -- unlike Paddy Cockburn and others. And the e-mails never stop about how no one knew Nouri was torturing and no one knew this and blab blah the US wouldn't have backed Nouri if they knew blah blah blah.
Wrong. Sorry you weren't paying attention in real time then. But pay attention right now. The UNited Nations has documented the torture the Iraqi government is carrying out. The head of that government is Mustafa. Elections are expected to take place in October. And the US is backing Mustafa -- despite the torture.
It's happening all over again.
Do we have to all cap it? Here goes: THE US GOVERNMENT KNOWS OF THE TORTURE TAKING PLACE BUT IS STILL BACKING MUSTAFA.
If you're not noticing that, now it's on you.
And they're noting it on Arabic social media. N o one's surprised because it's Joe ("Traitor Joe" is a popular term being used), the man who destroyed Iraq in 2010 who's back in charge.
Giving Nouri the second term did many awful things. The two worst? First off, it destroyed any trust the Iraqi people might have had in the election process which is why fewer an d fewer vote. Second, Nouri's second term delivered ISIS to Iraq. His actions were responsible for the rise of ISIS. He was attacking the protesters -- after he'd attacked everyone else -- and then, suddenly, garbed men begin showing up with guns saying they would defend the protesters from Nouri.
Sorry if that doesn't fit the tidy little world you want to live in, but it is reality and those of us who paid atention on a day to day basis saw it happening. In fact, we predicted the rise of ISIS before it came to be. Not because I'm psychic but because the signs were there, if you studied poli sci even a little, you saw what was coming.
Unless you were Joe.
Today? ALSUMARIA reports thta despite Tahrir Square in Baghdad usually being bedecked with "programs, slogans" and posters for various political candidates and parties, right now it is "completely devoid" of campaign material. Elections are supposed to take place in October. But there's no excitement. ALSUMARIA offers that anger on the street is aimed at the politicians and the political system that has failed repeatedly. Promotional material for candidates is largely only showing up online. In part, probably, because you can't decorate/deface/pull down a social media post as easily as you can a physical campaign poster.
The countdown for the October 10 parliamentary elections began in Iraq amid the boycott of influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
Several blocs and coalitions have started their electoral campaigns, including the Rule of Law coalition of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Shiite parties have kicked off their campaigns, while Sunni and Kurdish coalitions have yet to start theirs despite the various meetings held between their leaders.
An independent Iraqi politician and former MP said it has become evident that Sadr will not retract his withdrawal.
“This has led to serious concerns among Shiites of impending inter-Shiite fighting even if a new government is formed after the elections,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.
He explained that with Sadr out of the equation, new balances of power within parliament may lead to tensions among the various parties that could escalate into fighting,
He noted that strenuous efforts were exerted to convince Sadr to change his position, but he has so far resisted them, prompting speculation over the motives behind the cleric’s stance.
Some sides believe that he has a plan that has yet to materialize that would see him not only have a say in the nomination of a new prime minister or claim ministerial portfolios for himself, but go beyond that, especially if the balance of power sways in favor of his great rival, the Fatah alliance or even Maliki, added the official.
It appears that Maliki is eyeing the position of prime minister in spite of his previous assertion that he no longer aspires for that seat.
Nouri wants to be prime minister again? Shocking. I would be shocked . . . if we hadn't been covering that for the last three months. And we've also provided a reality that Moqtada coverage keeps ignoring -- Moqtada's political party is running in the election. Moqtada's move is grandstanding and largely meaningless. His party is still running for office. His statement only refers to himself.
And, yes, Moqtada will emerge to do anything he can should Nouri get the post or look like he might. Moqtada has not forgotten all of Nouri's past threats -- during Nouri's first term -- to execute the arrest warrant on Moqtada -- one that dates back to 2004.
If you've read this site even in passing, you already know this but for any drive-bys, I am not endorsing Nouri al-Maliki. First off, I'm not endorsing anyone. I can't vote in that election so I have no business telling anyone else how to vote in it. Secondly, Nouri is a thug.
But, as we've noted so many times over the last year, Mustafa has been so inept as prime minister that he's made some nostalgic for Nouri.
In other news, Human Rights Watch issued the following today:
The Iraqi army has unlawfully evicted dozens of families from a village north of Baghdad since July 2021 in an apparent family feud involving a government minister, Human Rights Watch said today. The 91 families from al-Aetha, a village in Salah al-Din governorate, were sent to a displacement camp without any of their possessions.
The families from al-Aetha had been forced out of their village years earlier during fighting between the government and the Islamic State (also known as ISIS). Many had previously been forcibly evicted by local and security authorities from displacement camps and made to return to their village. Those displaced recently say they were evicted as part of a family feud involving a government minister, who is from the village, and his brother, who had married a woman also from the village with alleged past ties to an ISIS member. The authorities should immediately halt the evictions and punish all officials responsible for the abuse of their authority.
“For years Iraqi authorities have claimed they are moving communities into or out of camps for their own protection or best interests,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch. “But the case of these villagers being ping-ponged between their village and displacement camps is yet again proof that these evictions are often about the authorities’ personal or political considerations rather than the well-being of those affected.”
Human Rights Watch has been documenting the forced evictions of families, including those with perceived affiliation with ISIS, for years. From August 1 to 5, Human Rights Watch interviewed seven al-Aetha residents in in Salah al-Din. They said that starting on July 14, Iraqi army units came to their village and evicted people by force with no prior notice and without providing any justification or presenting any lawful order. On August 10, Human Rights Watch spoke to a representative from the Ministry of Displacement and Migration who did not provide any justification for the evictions.
The residents said the village had been home to 370 families – about 14,000 people – before ISIS took control in 2014. In November 2016, all of the remaining families fled as fighting increased in the area, with many settling in displacement camps. They said that in 2019, 330 families returned from displacement camps. In January 2021, the remaining 40 families returned after displacement camp authorities ordered them to return home, families interviewed said.
Villagers said that on July 14, about two dozen Iraqi army vehicles arrived in the village with a list of names and forced about 19 families out of their homes and onto flatbed trucks, including four of the people interviewed. The soldiers told the villagers they were taking them to the one displacement camp still open – in Nineveh, 15 kilometers north – but gave them no reason. Between July 31 and August 4, the army returned and took another 72 families to the camp, including two of the people interviewed.
One woman said that when the army evicted her family on July 14, a woman had tried to flee the village to avoid eviction but the soldiers stopped her: “I heard a soldier tell her that if her family didn’t come, they would arrest her husband.”
The villagers all said that the army did not allow them to take any of their possessions. The mother of six said she has no mattresses, blankets, or fans in the camp. One mother said she left her three children in the village with their uncle because she could not bring any possessions and would have nothing to make them comfortable.
The people interviewed said these new evictions had severely disrupted their lives. The mother of six said one of her sons refused to leave and fled to his grandmother’s house: “My mother told me that he is traumatized and is refusing to eat. He cries all day. My other two sons have missed their final secondary exams and are stuck here in the camp.”
Although about 270 families remain in the village, on July 12 the minister’s son said on Facebook that all of the families from the village will eventually be evicted. One woman interviewed who is still in the village she worries that they will come for her soon.
Three villagers said they believe that the evictions took place because of a familial feud. They said that in July the minister’s brother married a woman from the village who had formerly been married to an ISIS member. They said that village elders told them that the minister decided to retaliate against his brother by evicting the residents. One villager said that when he asked one of the soldiers why they were being evicted, the soldier said, “It’s because of some problem between you villagers and the minister.” The villager said: “We are being blamed for something we had no part in. We are powerless victims.”
One woman who identifies herself as a journalist on Facebook posted on July 14 that she was extending her appreciation to the minister and the security forces for the rapid response after she had posted on July 9 about the marriage. She claimed that the minister had banned his brother from speaking to the media and from “interfering with the affairs of the displacement,” and has had all weapons and government vehicles in his possession confiscated. She also accused the villagers of being “sleeper cells and time bombs” but provided no evidence.
While some villagers had been forced to return to the village, a few said that their situation had improved after returning. One woman said she had not wanted to leave the camp at the time because she had felt safe there. But after several months in the village her situation improved; she found employment and was able to enroll her children in school. “My son was so happy we were home that he even asked me to delete all the photos we had taken inside the camp from my mobile phone,” she said.
The government has not provided any official justification for the evictions. On August 5, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi sent his national security adviser to investigate, the villagers said. The adviser interviewed some of the evicted families. Two people, including one who attended the meeting, said that someone who did not clearly identify himself beyond saying he was speaking on behalf of the minister approached her in the camp before the meeting and told her not to mention the minister’s brother’s wedding.
The authorities should immediately contact all affected families and provide them with the support they need to decide whether they want to remain in the camp, return to al-Aetha, or resettle elsewhere and provide assistance with relocating. The authorities should provide protection from future unlawful evictions.
The prime minister should ensure that those in power do not unduly influence the investigation of the evictions and that all officials responsible for the unlawful evictions are held accountable. He should also open investigations into other wrongful evictions by the authorities since he took office in May 2020, leading to public findings on the reasons and commitments to take measures to prevent illegal evictions.
“The notion that a minister can on a whim and without justification kick hundreds of people out of their homes should shock the conscience,” Wille said. “These families have been suffering for years at the hands of a government that has endorsed and sometimes participated in a range of collective punishment measures against them.”
The following sites updated: