tisdag, december 27, 2005

IRAK - summering av år 2005


Riverbend Baghdad Burning,jan 4

Here we are in the first days of 2006. What does the ‘6’ symbolize?

How about- 6 hours of no electricity for every one hour of electricity? Or… 6 hours of waiting in line for gasoline that
is three times as expensive as it was in 2005? Or an average
of six explosions per day near our area alone?

The beginning of the new year isn’t a promising one. Prices seem to have shot up on everything from fuels like kerosene and cooking gas, to tomatoes. A typical conversation with Abu Ammar our local fruit/vegetable vendor goes something like this:

R: “Oh nice lemons today Abu Ammar… give us a kilo.”

Abu A: “They are Syrian. You should see the tomatoes- if you think these are nice, take a look at those.”

R: “Hmmm… they do look good. Two kilos of those. How much will that be?”

Abu A: “That will be 3600 dinars.”

R (feigning shock and awe): “3600 dinars! What? That is almost double what we paid a week ago… why?”

Abu A (feigning sorrow and regret): “Habibti… you know what my supplier has to go through to bring me these vegetables? The cost of gasoline has gone up! I swear on the life of my mother that I’m only profiting 50 dinars per kilo…”

R: “Your mother is dead, isn’t she?”

Abu A: “Yes yes- but you know how valuable the dear woman was to me- may Allah have mercy on her- and on us all! The dogs in the government are going to kill us with these prices…”

R (sighing heavily): “You voted for the dogs last year Abu Ammar…”

Abu A: “Shhh… don’t call them dogs- it’s not proper. Anyway, it’s not their fault- the Americans are making them do it… my Allah curse them and their children…”

R (with eyes rolling) and Abu A (in unison): “… and their children’s children.”

A few days ago, the cousin took me to buy a pack of recordable CDs. The price had gone up a whole dollar, which may seem a pittance to the average American or European, but it must be remembered that many Iraqis make as little as $100 a month and complete families are expected to survive on that.

“B. why has the price of these lousy CDs gone up so much???” I demanded from the shop owner who is also a friend, “Don’t tell me your supplier has also pushed the prices up on you because of the gasoline shortage?” I asked sarcastically. No- supplies cost the same for him- he has not needed to stock up yet.

But this is how he explained it: his car takes 60 liters of gasoline. It needs to be refueled every 2-3 days. The official price of gasoline was 50 Iraqi dinars before, so it cost him around 3000 dinars to fill up his car, which was nearly two dollars. Now it costs 9000 Iraqi dinars IF he fills it up at a gas station and not using black market

gasoline which will cost him around 15,000 dinars- five times the former price- and this every two to three days. He also has to purchase extra gasoline for the shop generator which needs to be working almost constantly, now that electricity is about four hours daily. “Now how am I supposed to cover that increase in my costs if I don’t sell CDs at a higher price?”

People buy black market gasoline because for many, waiting in line five, six, seven… ten hours isn’t an option. We’ve worked out a sort of agreement amongst 4 or 5 houses in the neighborhood. According to a schedule (which is somewhat complicated and involves license plate numbers, number of children per family, etc.), one of us spends the day filling up the car and then the gasoline is distributed between the four or five involved neighbors.

The process of extracting the gasoline from the car itself once it is back at the house was a rather disgusting and unhealthy one up until nearly a year ago. A hose was inserted into the gasoline tank and one of they unlucky neighbors would suck on it until the first surge of gasoline came flowing out. Now, thanks to both local and Chinese ingenuity, we have miniature gasoline pumps to suck out the gasoline. “The man who invented these,” My cousin once declared emotionally, holding the pump up like a trophy, “deserves a Nobel Prize in… something or another.”

I know for most of the world, highly priced gasoline is a common concern. For Iraqis, it represents how the situation is deteriorating. Gasoline and kerosene were literally cheaper than bottled water prior to the war. It’s incredibly frustrating that while the price of petrol is at a high, one of the worlds leading oil-producing countries isn’t producing enough to cover its own needs.

There is talk of major mismanagement and theft in the Oil Ministry. Chalabi took over several days ago and a friend who works in the ministry says the takeover is a joke. “You know how they used to check our handbags when we first walked into the ministry?” She asked the day after Chalabi crowned himself Oil Emperor, “Now WE check our handbags after we leave the ministry- you know- to see if Chalabi stole anything.”

I guess the Iraqis who thought the US was going to turn Iraq into another America weren’t really far from the mark- we too now enjoy inane leaders, shady elections, a shaky economy, large-scale unemployment and soaring gas prices.

Goodbye 2005- the year of SCIRI, fraudulent elections, secret torture chambers, car bombs, white phosphorous, assassinations, sectarianism and fundamentalism… you will not be missed.

Let us see what 2006 has in store for us.

THE ROVING EYE The ultimate quagmire by Pepe Escobar, dec 23 2005

..Elections or no elections, Iraq enters 2006 mired in the same, usual, gruesome rituals.

The Pentagon believes it can subdue the Sunni Arab resistance by bombing them to death while the resistance keeps bombing, suicide bombing and assassinating en masse.

So the endless, gory stream will continue, not even making headlines - explosions at police stations, assassinations of "Baghdad officials", executions of collaborators, mortars over the Green Zone, scores of innocent civilian victims of car bombings, Marines killed in the Sunni triangle, Shi'ite death squads, Turkmen fighting Kurd for Kirkuk ....

Playwright Harold Pinter pulled a Beckett at his Nobel lecture. He offered to be Bush's speechwriter. Then Pinter impersonated classic Bush: "My God is good. [Osama] bin Laden's God is bad. His is a bad God. Saddam Hussein's God was bad except he didn't have one. He was a barbarian. We are not barbarians." And this was even before Bush mixed up Saddam with bin Laden in a "we're winning in Iraq" speech.

Pinter observed, "The United States supported and in many cases engendered every rightwing military dictatorship in the world after the end of World War II."

He gave a lot of examples. But then, with devastating irony (a concept seemingly absent from the White House/Pentagon axis), he said: "It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening, it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest."

Just like the suffering of Iraqis never happened. Robert Fisk, in his masterful The Great War for Civilization (Fourth Estate, London) remarks, "The sanctions that smothered Iraq for almost 13 years have largely dropped from the story of our Middle East adventures....

When the Anglo-American occupiers settled into their palaces in Baghdad, they would blame the collapse of electrical power, water-pumping stations, factories and commercial life on Saddam Hussein, as if he alone had engineered the impoverishment of Iraq. Sanctions were never mentioned. They were 'ghosted' out of the story. First there had been Saddam, and then there was freedom'."

But Iraqis as a whole have not forgotten the sanctions - imposed by the US, carried out by the "international community" and responsible for the death of thousands of children. As much as the Shi'ites have not forgotten their betrayal by George Bush senior, who called for a Shi'ite uprising in early 1991 and then left thousands of men, women and children to be massacred by Saddam's gunships.

There's no way these impoverished masses can trust anything related to American promises of "freedom".

How Bush is winning
There's some evidence that the murderous chaos unleashed by Shi'ite death squads may not be "an accident" but part of a carefully crafted American strategy, as the Bush administration has constantly added fire to the ethnic furnace as the best diversion to not address Iraq's tremendous social tensions.

An atomized and terrorized society is much easier to manipulate, while at the same time the non-stop bloodshed is the perfect justification for "staying the course". The incessant chatter in the US about a partial "withdrawal" is just chatter.

Already in June 2003, proconsul L Paul Bremer's coalition hands were hiring Saddam's Mukhabarat pals for "special ops" against the Sunni Arab resistance, while "torture central", Abu Ghraib, was again operating in full force under American management.

In the Shi'ite south, the Badr Organization - the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq's (SCIRI's) militia - as well as Muqtadar's Mahdi Army were gaining ground.

The Badr was finally formally incorporated into the Interior Ministry, where Sunni units had also been carving up their own turf (under the protection of Allawi).

The former Ba'athist Sunnis - and later the Shi'ites - benefited from the invaluable knowledge of American "counter-insurgency" experts who organized death squads in Colombia and El Salvador, as well as retired American Special Forces soldiers.

Commandos operating in the "Salvador option" manner have been very much in the cards from the beginning, responding to a sophisticated, state-of-the-art command, control and communications center even while the majority of the Iraqi population had no electricity, no fuel and no medicine.

The pattern was and remains the same; people "disappearing" after they are accosted by groups of men armed to the teeth, in police commando uniforms, with high-tech radios and driving Toyota Land Cruisers with police license plates. Needless to say, the resulting murders are almost never investigated.

The objectives, from the point of view of the Bush administration, also remain the same; keep the Pentagon and its military bases inside an Iraq mired in sectarian bloodshed and with a weak central government.

The "follow the money" trail leads to an array of profitable privatizations, and the upcoming sale of Iraq's fabulous oil reserves to a few, select foreign investors. Abdel Mahdi of SCIRI, one year ago in Washington, had already laid down the script. He is a key player to watch.

No wonder that the real composition of the next Iraqi government will not be determined by the polls - at least not exclusively. The real kingmaker is the US ambassador, the White House pet, Afghan Zalmay Khalilzad.

The Bush administration will pull no punches to safeguard its "follow the money" interests, as well as its precious military bases. Vice President Dick Cheney arrived in Baghdad on December 18, only three days after the election. He didn't even bother to tell Jaafari that he was in the country.

First Cheney talked to Khalilzad and assorted American generals, and only then were Jaafari and President Talabani summoned to his presence.

How Bush lost it
The uprising of Muqtadar's Mahdi Army in 2004 was the definitive nail in the coffin of the Bush administration's dream of ruling Iraq. At the time the Pentagon repeatedly said it wanted to "kill or capture him". It did neither.

Muqtada became the man to watch much earlier than his newfound - by American corporate media - prominent role in post-election Iraq. After the bombing of Najaf, the Bush administration completely lost the plot.

Then, after the January 2005 elections, the new Jaafari government quickly embraced Iran, received a pledge of $1 billion in aid, the use of Iranian port facilities, and help with refining Iraqi oil.

Sunni Arab regimes like Jordan and Saudi Arabia started to be haunted by the specter of a "Shi'ite crescent". A neo-conservative Iraq as a base to launch an attack on Iran disappeared as a mirage in the desert.

As the US has to fight a relentless Sunni Arab guerrilla war, it cannot possibly risk alienating the Iraqi Shi'ite masses (more than they already are) with an attack on Iran.

No wonder military historian Martin van Creveld, a professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the only non-American author on the Pentagon's list of required reading for officers, called for Bush to be impeached and put on trial "for misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 BC sent his legions into Germany and lost them".

Bush and his faithful ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, have been playing the same scratched CD track: "We're better off now without Saddam." That is not true. The fall of Saddam led to the rise of al-Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers; and even Allawi admitted that human rights in Iraq now are no better than under Saddam.

Not to mention that there is no reconstruction, unemployment is at 70%, and a country which in the late 1980s had one of the highest standards of living in the Arab world has been razed to a sub-Saharan level.

Whatever the Americans do - with "Iraqification" doomed to failure, as much as "Vietnamization" - the war in Iraq now is a rampaging beast that threatens to spill all over the Middle East........

The Anglo-American War of Terror: An Overview
by Michel Chossudovsky
dec 21 (shortened)

Foreign Policy adviser George F. Kennan had outlined in a 1948 State Department brief what was later described as the "'Truman doctrine."

What this 1948 document conveys is continuity in US foreign policy, from "Containment" to "Pre-emptive" War. In this regard, the Neo-conservative agenda under the Bush administration should be viewed as the culmination of a post World War II foreign policy framework.

War and Globalization
War and globalization are intimately related processes. Military and intelligence operations support the opening up of new economic frontiers and the remolding of national economies. The powers of Wall Street, the Anglo-American oil giants and the U.S.-U.K. defense contractors are indelibly behind this process.

The Anglo-American oil giants in alliance with Wall Street and the military-industrial complex are indelibly behind America’s war agenda.

The next phase of this war is Iran and Syria, which have already been identified as targets.

Iran is the country with the third largest oil and gas reserves (10%) after Saudi Arabia (25%) and Iraq (11%). The US is seeking with the complicity of the UN Security Council to establish a pretext for the bombing of Iran, which is presented as a threat to world peace.

Israel is slated to play a key role in launching the military operation against Iran.

The UN Security Council resolution regarding Iran’s nuclear program provides a pretext, which the US plans to use to justify military intervention.

Of significance is a November 2004 military cooperation agreement between NATO and Israel. A few months later, Israel was involved for the first time in military exercises with NATO, which also included several Arab countries.

A massive buildup in military hardware has occurred in preparation for a possible attack on Iran. Israel has taken delivery from the US of some 5,000 "smart air launched weapons" including some 500 BLU 109 'bunker-buster bombs.

Nuclear Weapons in Conventional War Theaters: "Safe for Civilians"

An attack on Iran using tactical nuclear weapons (mini-nukes) has also been contemplated. Tactical nuclear weapons with an explosive capacity between one third to 6 times a Hiroshima bomb have been cleared for use in conventional war theaters. .

The mini-nukes have been redefined as a defensive weapon, which is "safe for civilians" "because the explosion is underground". The Senate in a December 2003 decision, has authorized their use in conventional war theaters

Air strikes against Iran could contribute to extending the war to the broader Middle East Central Asian region. Tehran has confirmed that it would retaliate if attacked, in the form of ballistic missile strikes directed against Israel (CNN, 8 Feb 2005).

These attacks could also target US military facilities in the Persian Gulf, which would immediately lead us into a scenario of military escalation and all out war.

In recent developments, Israel’s armed forces have been ordered by Prime minister Ariel Sharon, "to be ready by the end of March [2006] for possible strikes" on Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities (The Sunday Times, 11 December 2005).

Meanwhile, Iran is building its air defense capabilities. Russia has recently announced that it plans to sell to Iran some 29 Tor M-1 anti-missile systems.

....In turn, the UN has endorsed the "war on terrorism". Under the disguise of peacekeeping, the United Nations, in violation of its own charter and the Nuremberg jurisprudence on war crimes, is collaborating with the US led military coalition.

War Propaganda
....More generally, the Just War theory in its modern day version is an integral part of war propaganda and media disinformation, applied to gain public support for a war agenda.

In October 2001, when Afghanistan was bombed and later invaded, several "Progressives" largely upheld the Administration's "just cause" military doctrine. The "self-defense" argument was accepted at face value as a legitimate response to 9/11, without examining the fact

that the US administration had not only supported the "Islamic terror network", it was also instrumental in the installation of the Taliban government in 1995-96. Moreover, the invasion of Afghanistan had been planned well in advance of September 11, 2001.

In the wake of 9/11, the antiwar movement against the illegal invasion of Afghanistan was isolated. The trade unions, civil society organizations had swallowed the media lies and government propaganda. They had accepted a war of retribution against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Media disinformation prevailed. People were misled as to the nature and objectives underlying the invasion of Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden and the Taliban were identified as the prime suspects of the 9/11 attacks,

without a shred of evidence and without addressing the historical relationship between Al Qaeda and the US intelligence apparatus. In this regard, understanding 9/11 is crucial in formulating a consistent antiwar position.

The "war on terrorism" is the cornerstone of the America’s propaganda and media disinformation campaign. In an utterly absurd logic Al Qaeda is presented as an upcoming super-power, capable of waging a nuclear attack against the US.

....Both the Clinton and Bush administrations have supported the so-called "Militant Islamic Base", including Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda, as part of their military -intelligence agenda. The links between Osama bin Laden and the Clinton administration in Bosnia and Kosovo are well documented by congressional records.


The CIA has created it own terrorist organizations including "Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia" which is led by Abu Musab Al Zarqawi.

And at the same time, it creates its own terrorist warnings concerning the terrorist organizations, which it has itself created. In turn, it has developed a cohesive multibillion dollar counterterrorism program "to go after" these terrorist organizations.

Counterterrorism and war propaganda are intertwined. The propaganda apparatus feeds disinformation into the news chain. The terror warnings must appear to be "genuine". The objective is to present the terror groups as "enemies of America."...........

The so-called "War on Terrorism" is a lie.

Amply documented, the pretext to wage this war is totally fabricated.

Realities have been turned upside down. Acts of war are heralded as "humanitarian interventions" geared towards restoring ‘democracy’.

Military occupation and the killing of civilians are presented as "peace-keeping operations."

The derogation of civil liberties under the so-called "anti-terrorist legislation" is portrayed as a means to providing "domestic security" and upholding civil liberties.

Meanwhile, the civilian economy is precipitated into crisis; expenditures on health and education are curtailed to finance the military-industrial complex and the police state.

Under the American Empire, millions of people around the world are being driven into abysmal poverty, and countries are transformed into open territories.

U.S. protectorates are installed with the blessing of the so-called "international community." "Interim governments" are formed.

Political puppets designated by America’s oil giants are casually endorsed by the United Nations, which increasingly performs the role of a rubber-stamp for the U.S. Administration.

Reversing the tide of war can not be limited to a critique of the US war agenda. Ultimately what is at stake is the legitimacy of the political and military actors and the economic power structures, which ultimately control the formulation, and direction of US foreign policy.

While the Bush administration implements a "war on terrorism", the evidence (including mountains of official documents) amply confirms that successive U.S. administrations have supported, abetted and harbored international terrorism....

Divide Iraq into three mini-states and then pit them against one another.

In short, to starve the central state around Baghdad because the Sunnis have always spearheaded the resistance to U.S.

But, to divide Iraq has, in fact, been an old Israeli dream. In 1982, Oded Yinon, an official from the Israeli Foreign Affairs office, wrote: "To dissolve Iraq is even more important for us than dissolving Syria. "

"In the short term, it's Iraqi power that constitutes the greatest threat to Israel. The Iran-Iraq war tore Iraq apart and provoked its downfall. All manner of inter-Arab conflict help us and accelerate our goal of breaking up Iraq into small, diverse pieces."

To take some ethnic cleansing again

But didn't this method provoke a civil war and a bloodbath in Yugoslavia? Because all the diverse regions in that country contained significant minorities, and partition was impossible without the forced transfer of populations.

That is why Berlin, and then Washington, discreetly financed and armed racist extremists, who were nostalgic for World War II.

This made civil war almost inevitable because the IMF and the World Bank had plunged Yugoslavia into bankrupt to make it submit to triumphant neo-liberalism after the fall of the Berlin Wall. All of this was carefully concealed from the public.

Just as they are concealing from the public the fact that all of the peoples of the former Yugoslavia have been plunged into misery and unemployment, which is worse than it has ever been. Meanwhile, multinational corporations have taken the upper hand in controlling the country's wealth.

Doesn't the Yugoslav precedent serve as enough warning? The truth is that the civil war in Yugoslavia was a great success for the U.S. because it permitted the breakup of a country that resisted multinationals.

"Ethnically pure" states are allright when they serve Washington's plans.

The theory is really identical to Hitler's: "One people, one empire, one führer". It is also a theory adopted by Zionists who dream of Israel "purified of Arabs".

In Yugoslavia, it was the theory held by Western protégés, the Croat Tudjman and the Bosnian Muslim Izetbegovic. It was also a theory held by the right-wing Serbian leader, Karadzic. It is strange to find the US extolling theories that it once pretended to fight against..

The truth is that the United States -- just as all other colonialists -- is for or against ethnically pure states according to whether or not it suits U.S. strategic interests. The only thing that counts is to weaken resistance. Divide in order to conquer. As always.

The influential U.S. strategist, Zbigniew Brzezinski, wants to divide Russia into three countries in order to isolate Moscow from oil reserves. The CIA also has its "own plans" to divide Saudi Arabia.

The guiding principle of U.S. international policy is that there is no guiding principle.

Consistent Pattern

In previous propaganda ploys, the CIA hired PR firms to organize core disinformation campaigns, including the Rendon Group. The latter worked closely with its British partner Hill and Knowlton, which was responsible for the 1990 Kuwaiti incubator media scam.

Where Kuwaiti babies were allegedly removed from incubators in a totally fabricated news story, which was then used to get Congressional approval for the 1991 Gulf War.

What is the Iraqi pattern?

Almost immediately in the wake of a terrorist event or warning, CNN announces: we think this mysterious individual Al-Zarqawi is behind it, In some cases, upon the immediate occurrence of the terrorist event, there is an initial report which mentions Al-Zarqawi as the possible mastermind.

Often the CNN report is based on information published on an Islamic website or a mysterious Video or Audio tape. The authenticity of the website and/or the tapes is not the object of discussion or detailed investigation.

Both Osama bin Laden and Al-Zarqawi were recruited to fight in the Soviet-Afghan war and are creations of the US intelligence apparatus. The recruitment of foreign fighters was under the auspices of the CIA which has provided covert support to the Islamic militant network consistently for more than 20 years.


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