The Associated Press reports today that tens of thousands of Americans died or were wounded to create a theocracy in Iraq. The news was downplayed by big media, but the following is the report:
An agreement signed by Iraq’s two main Shiite blocs seeking to govern the country gives the final decision on all their political disputes to top Shiite clerics, according to a copy obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday.
If the alliance succeeds in forming the next government, the provision could increase the role of senior clergy in politics. The provision would likely further alienate Iraq’s Sunni minority, which already feels excluded by Shiite dominance and had been hoping that March’s election would boost their say in power.
The newly announced alliance between the Shiite blocs practically ensures they will form the core of any new government and squeeze out the top vote, the secular Iraqi-ya list, which was largely backed by Sunnis. But the terms of the alliance show the deep distrust between the two Shiite partners and seek to limit the powers of the prime minister.
A leading member of the prime minister’s coalition who signed the agreement on Tuesday confirmed it gives a small group of clerics led by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani the last word on any disputes between the two allied blocs. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
Preparations for elections in Iraq next month have been thrown into disarray by a row over a court ruling allowing hundreds of candidates to stand, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
The candidates were banned because they are affiliated with Saddam Hussein’s Baath party which ruled the country before the invasion in 2003.
The Iraqi government has condemned the court’s decision and is set to hold an emergency debate on Sunday.
Campaigning is due to start on the same day for the 7 March poll.
A government spokesman said the court decision was “illegal and unconstitutional”.
The election is regarded as a crucial test for Iraq’s national reconciliation process ahead of a planned US military withdrawal.
On Wednesday, the appeals panel ruling overturned a ban on hundreds of politicians from running for public office.
Baathist is a form of secular Arab nationalism and was the ideology espoused by Saddam Hussein when he came to power.
The BBC’s Gabriel Gatehouse in Baghdad says although the list of names straddles the sectarian divide, Sunni groups have felt most targeted by the exclusions, and their protests have been loudest.
Although a minority, Sunni Muslims were dominant under Saddam Hussein’s rule but have since complained of being marginalised under the post-Saddam Shia-led government. The ruling would allow the candidates to stand for election, and be subject to investigation only after the polls.
No surprise, US officials had voiced concerns about the ban, fearing that it could inflame sectarian tensions and undermine confidence in the electoral process.
The Iraq war was promoted by Republicans and the Democratic Leadership Council, which has primarily morphed into the New Democrat Coalition, which backed an extra 50,000 troops for Afghanistan to be authorized by the President last year.
There are about 250,000 American soldiers and U.S. paid contractors still in Iraq, all devoted to the latest effort there “Operation Enduring Misery.”
Meanwhile, the defense industry wants us to hike the forces in Afghanistan to 200,000 soldiers and contractors.
The two colonies have cost us about a trillion dollars in recent years and about 5,000 dead Americans and tens of thousands maimed.
So, it was a surprise to me when I learned that Iraq couldn’t balance its budget this year, and had a shortfall of $7 billion, which is less than one percent of what we have already spent there.
But, instead of raising taxes or asking for a loan from the U.S., the corrupt Maliki stooges have approached the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which said on Saturday (Oct. 3) it was confident about agreeing to issue a budget shortfall loan with Iraq.
“I am confident that we’re working well together and we’ll be able to identify ways to help them,” Masood Ahmed, the IMF’s Middle East director, told reporters in Istanbul during annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank.
“Exactly how and when is what we need to know,” he added.
The IMF does not loan money without extreme conditions, so look for Iraq to begin to remove nationalization of utilities and resources. I wouldn’t be surprised to see everything turned over to private companies, including the end of free public schools, just as the IMF required in Africa. This is the new world order prescription from the Council on Foreign Relations and their political darlings, the New Democrat Coalition.
Of course, the United States would be criticized for such draconian measures against one of the oil-richest countries in the world, but turning over the country to the IMF does the same thing without onus.
Now, I know why we went to war.
Operation Iraqi Freedom is the name the U.S. military uses to describe the occupation and attempted colonization of Iraq.
Some 4,331 American soldiers have died as a result of this blunderbush attack and 31,156 wounded – many severely, amputations, blindness, paralysis. A trillion dollars have been spent financing this offensive (good word), more than universal health care would cost for ten years of coverage.
A few weeks ago, a couple foreign oil companies won the rights to the biggest oil field in Iraq, and the Iraqi government has been buying arms from European countries. So, we didn’t do it for oil or business, unless you count Haliburton contracts, GE infrastructure work, and kisses from the Saudis, who really, really hated Saddamy.
The battle, we learned some years ago from George Bush, the spokesperson to fire up our support, was to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq. Bush was also supported by votes from Blue Dog Democrats and the New Democrat Coalition. Women could go to school (they did under the old regime), and people could enjoy peace, prosperity and the pursuit of happiness.
It seems that goal has fallen a little short.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said today that Iraqi militias are increasingly torturing and executing men suspected of homosexuality, and authorities in Baghdad are doing nothing to stop the violence.
HRW documents a “campaign of violence against men in Iraq who are suspected of being gay or who simply don’t act masculine enough in the eyes of their killers.”
Scott Long, director of HRW’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Programme, said hundreds of men have been kidnapped, tortured and killed this year. This wave of violence began in the Sadr City stronghold of Shiite cleric MIraqoqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia in Baghdad.
The report said it is almost impossible to calculate how many men were killed, but estimated the figure in the hundreds, according to AFP.
Mahdi Army spokesmen said that violent action was the remedy for the “feminisation” of Iraqi men. Survivors are quoted as saying militiamen invade homes and interrogate victims before killing them in order to identify other potential victims.
The report said Iraqi doctors and morgue employees have records of grotesque torture marks on the bodies of men, including mutilation. Motives for the murders include “fears that Iraqi men’s masculinity is under threat,” HRW said.
Some of the murders were “honour killings”, carried out by victims’ family members “because ‘unmanly’ behaviour threatens the reputation of the family or tribe.”
Some Iraqis interviewed by the rights group said that in some cases members of the security forces had colluded and even joined in the killing.
One man recounted the night his partner of 10 years was abducted and killed in April: “It was late one night, and they came to take my partner at his parents’ home. Four armed men barged into the house, masked and wearing black.
“They asked for him by name; they insulted him and took him in front of his parents… He was found in the neighbourhood the day after. They had thrown his corpse in the garbage. His —- were cut off and a piece of his throat was ripped out,” the report said.
AFP reports that a decision to screen imported books plus plans for Internet filters are being seen as a sign that the years of freer expression ushered in by the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam could be coming to an end:
“In its first move, the government last month introduced rules requiring that all imported printed works be vetted to weed out those that promote “sectarianism.”
“The government in its defence says the regulations will help to prevent a return of the sectarian fighting between Sunni and Shiite Muslims that devastated the country in 2006 and 2007, killing thousands of people,” the report added.
The NY Times also shed light on the plans:
The attempt to limit access to information was prompted by a meeting in May in which Mr. Maliki asked his ministers to develop methods to halt material entering Iraq — whether via the Internet or over its borders — that advocated violence or included sexual content.
In July, a government committee recommended that the drafting of a law allowing for official Internet monitoring and the prosecution of violators be expedited.
Among the prohibited sites, according to the committee’s report, would be those with subject matter including “drugs, terrorism, gambling, negative remarks about Islam and pornography.”
In a weird twist, Ahmed Mohammed Raouf, chief engineer for the State Company for Internet Services, said he had mixed feelings about censorship, because he held a similar position in Mr. Hussein’s government and remembers being ordered to filter any site that was even remotely antiregime, the Times reported.
All public internet cafes in Iraq will soon be forced to register themselves through the upcoming centralized hub.
This is the Iraqi idea of freedom and democracy?
We expended thousands of American lives to gain a few the right to censor the rest. Tens of thousands of our soldiers were wounded so they could ban books. A trillion dollars was spent of taxpayer money to establish a theocracy.
Remember when France decided not to support our war and occupation of Iraq?
And some media neo-cons derided French culture? And some called french fries, freedom fries?
It was fashionable at the time to promote the idea that we were helping Iraq, building relationships, and bonding in a way that meant guaranteed oil and great trade relations.
During this past week, China and BP won the only oil contracts awarded so far by Iraq (see previous post), and on Thursday French Prime Minister Francois Fillon visited Baghdad with a delegation of officials and businessmen to raise France’s profile in Iraq.
“Iraqis were keen to remove themselves from American guardianship, and that is because they want to do business with other investors that they know well, among them the French,” a French aide told journalists.
Iraqi spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said: “Our country wants France to be a strategic partner, particularly in trade, and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has indicated his desire to see bilateral relations grow significantly.”
The French arrived some 48 hours after US troops withdrew from cities under a security pact initiated by Iraq.
An aide to the French premier said there is plenty of international corporate interest in business deals with Iraq.
“Security is the major worry for the French,” he said. There was no offer to send troops from France to Iraq, where some 4,300 Americans have died so French business vultures can pick the Iraqi carcass.
Among those travelling with Fillon and Finance Minister Christine Lagarde were the heads of oil major Total, the Lafarge building materials group and European aerospace giant EADS. After meeting Maliki in Baghdad, Fillon traveled to Sulaimaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan to meet President Jalal Talabani who, the French prime minister said, will make a state visit to Iraq in November, according to AFP.
Several agreements were signed during Fillon’s visit, including technical cooperation in domestic security and the military sector, an aide said. There are some nice tanks and planes from America that France could take apart for new ideas for their military.
France undertook to help Iraq in its application to join the World Trade Organisation and to support proposals for a trade partnership between Iraq and the European Union.
Where’s Hillary while the French and others eat our lunch? Probably, answering calls from her New Democrat and DLC buddies, who voted for the Iraq invasion.
America, Frances, Iraq, what’s the difference when your view is global?
The good news is that we can’t be accused of colonizing Iraq for our interests, because so far, we did it for France, BP and China, who are now in the position to reap the benefits of our sacrifices.
This news today from Wall Street Journal:
BAGHDAD (Dow Jones)–A consortium of BP PLC (BP.LN) and China’s CNPC Tuesday won the contract for Rumaila oil field – the largest oil field in Iraq and one of the largest in the world, the Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said. The consortium had been seeking $3.99 remuneration for each extra barrel of oil produced but after last-minute negotiations Tuesday morning accepted the Oil Ministry’s terms of $2 a barrel. The companies had bid to increase output in Rumaila to 2.8 million barrels a day. The field is currently producing 1.1 million barrels a day and is estimated to have reserves of around 17 billion barrels.
This is the first contract awarded in Iraq’s first oil and gas field tender open to international companies in nearly three decades. -By Hassan Hafidh, Dow Jones Newswires
Few of the readers of this blog recall the 100,000 troops from China who assisted the United States in holding down the violence in Iraq during recent years. Readers don’t remember because there are no troops to recall, no aid for the cause, but now they reap the profits.
Oddly, the Chinese and British Petroleum (BP) were willing to accept less than a few dollars a barrel in payments, while U.S. oil companies were looking to get in the mid $20s. Sounds like American oil companies were way too greedy in their demands. What were they thinking with such ripoff bids? They must have thought they were bidding for rights in U.S. national parks or offshore.
In reviewing the fact that most bids were refused for oil development today (except BP and China) there is an interesting analysis from the Houston Post, in a town where oil firms are divine:
As much the licensing round’s cheerleader and key driver, al-Shahristani has also been its scapegoat. His critics have pointed to Iraq’s inability to even reach its prewar production levels as evidence that he has failed in his job. Others gripe that the bidding round will open the door for an economic occupation of the country at a time when it is pulling away from the U.S. military presence that many in Iraq likened to military occupation.
The poor showing could further strengthen critics’ arguments that he put too much emphasis on the bidding round while ignoring easy repairs to the sector that could have been carried out over the past couple of years.
The minister, however, has insisted he was working for the country’s best interest.
Iraqi officials have estimated that based on crude oil at $50 per barrel, the companies could earn around $16 billion in total. Iraq, meanwhile, would get over $1.7 trillion. As part of the contracts, the companies have to provide so-called “soft-loan” signature bonuses to the government that total about $2.6 billion.
The company response to the bidding sends a clear signal to Iraq, said analysts.
It says “the companies will still be there, but they’ve made it clear what their baseline is, and that they can’t go into the red even to get access to Iraqi oil,” said Ciszuk. “The risks are just too great.”