Category Archives: terror

america’s role in iraq

The U.S.’s sledgehammer worldview is destroying countless lives and future generations.

The front page of The New York Times on June 26 featured a photo of women mourning a murdered Iraqi.

He is one of the innumerable victims of the ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) campaign in which the Iraqi army, armed and trained by the U.S. for many years, quickly melted away, abandoning much of Iraq to a few thousand militants, hardly a new experience in imperial history.

Right above the picture is the newspaper’s famous motto: “All the News That’s Fit to Print.”

There is a crucial omission. The front page should display the words of the Nuremberg judgment of prominent Nazis – words that must be repeated until they penetrate general consciousness: Aggression is “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

And alongside these words should be the admonition of the chief prosecutor for the United States, Robert Jackson: “The record on which we judge these defendants is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well.”

The U.S.-U.K. invasion of Iraq was a textbook example of aggression. Apologists invoke noble intentions, which would be irrelevant even if the pleas were sustainable.

For the World War II tribunals, it mattered not a jot that Japanese imperialists were intent on bringing an “earthly paradise” to the Chinese they were slaughtering, or that Hitler sent troops into Poland in 1939 in self-defense against the “wild terror” of the Poles. The same holds when we sip from the poisoned chalice.

Those at the wrong end of the club have few illusions. Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of a Pan-Arab website, observes that “the main factor responsible for the current chaos [in Iraq] is the U.S./Western occupation and the Arab backing for it. Any other claim is misleading and aims to divert attention [away] from this truth.”

In a recent interview with Moyers & Company, Iraq specialist Raed Jarrar outlines what we in the West should know. Like many Iraqis, he is half-Shiite, half-Sunni, and in preinvasion Iraq he barely knew the religious identities of his relatives because “sect wasn’t really a part of the national consciousness.”

Jarrar reminds us that “this sectarian strife that is destroying the country … clearly began with the U.S. invasion and occupation.”

The aggressors destroyed “Iraqi national identity and replaced it with sectarian and ethnic identities,” beginning immediately when the U.S. imposed a Governing Council based on sectarian identity, a novelty for Iraq.

By now, Shiites and Sunnis are the bitterest enemies, thanks to the sledgehammer wielded by Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney (respectively the former U.S. Secretary of Defense and vice president during the George W. Bush administration) and others like them who understand nothing beyond violence and terror and have helped to create conflicts that are now tearing the region to shreds.

Other headlines report the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Journalist Anand Gopal explains the reasons in his remarkable book, No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes.

In 2001-02, when the U.S. sledgehammer struck Afghanistan, the al-Qaida outsiders there soon disappeared and the Taliban melted away, many choosing in traditional style to accommodate to the latest conquerors.

But Washington was desperate to find terrorists to crush. The strongmen they imposed as rulers quickly discovered that they could exploit Washington’s blind ignorance and attack their enemies, including those eagerly collaborating with the American invaders.

Soon the country was ruled by ruthless warlords, while many former Taliban who sought to join the new order recreated the insurgency.

The sledgehammer was later picked up by President Obama as he “led from behind” in smashing Libya.

In March 2011, amid an Arab Spring uprising against Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi, the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1973, calling for “a cease-fire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians.”

The imperial triumvirate – France, England, the U.S. – instantly chose to violate the Resolution, becoming the air force of the rebels and sharply enhancing violence.

Their campaign culminated in the assault on Gadhafi’s refuge in Sirte, which they left “utterly ravaged,” “reminiscent of the grimmest scenes from Grozny, towards the end of Russia’s bloody Chechen war,” according to eyewitness reports in the British press. At a bloody cost, the triumvirate accomplished its goal of regime change in violation of pious pronouncements to the contrary.

The African Union strongly opposed the triumvirate assault. As reported by Africa specialist Alex de Waal in the British journal International Affairs, the AU established a “road map” calling for cease-fire, humanitarian assistance, protection of African migrants (who were largely slaughtered or expelled) and other foreign nationals, and political reforms to eliminate “the causes of the current crisis,” with further steps to establish “an inclusive, consensual interim government, leading to democratic elections.”

The AU framework was accepted in principle by Gadhafi but dismissed by the triumvirate, who “were uninterested in real negotiations,” de Waal observes.

The outcome is that Libya is now torn by warring militias, while jihadi terror has been unleashed in much of Africa along with a flood of weapons, reaching also to Syria.

There is plenty of evidence of the consequences of resort to the sledgehammer. Take the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly the Belgian Congo, a huge country rich in resources – and one of the worst contemporary horror stories. It had a chance for successful development after independence in 1960, under the leadership of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba.

But the West would have none of that. CIA head Allen Dulles determined that Lumumba’s “removal must be an urgent and prime objective” of covert action, not least because U.S. investments might have been endangered by what internal documents refer to as “radical nationalists.”

Under the supervision of Belgian officers, Lumumba was murdered, realizing President Eisenhower’s wish that he “would fall into a river full of crocodiles.” Congo was handed over to the U.S. favorite, the murderous and corrupt dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, and on to today’s wreckage of Africa’s hopes.

Closer to home it is harder to ignore the consequences of U.S. state terror. There is now great concern about the flood of children fleeing to the U.S. from Central America.

The Washington Post reports that the surge is “mostly from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras” – but not Nicaragua. Why? Could it be that when Washington’s sledgehammer was battering the region in the 1980s, Nicaragua was the one country that had an army to defend the population from U.S.-run terrorists, while in the other three countries the terrorists devastating the countries were the armies equipped and trained by Washington?

Obama has proposed a humanitarian response to the tragic influx: more efficient deportation. Do alternatives come to mind?

It is unfair to omit exercises of “soft power” and the role of the private sector. A good example is Chevron’s decision to abandon its widely touted renewable energy programs, because fossil fuels are far more profitable.

Exxon Mobil in turn announced “that its laserlike focus on fossil fuels is a sound strategy, regardless of climate change,” Bloomberg Businessweek reports, “because the world needs vastly more energy and the likelihood of significant carbon reductions is ‘highly unlikely.'”

It is therefore a mistake to remind readers daily of the Nuremberg judgment. Aggression is no longer the “supreme international crime.” It cannot compare with destruction of the lives of future generations to ensure bigger bonuses tomorrow.

© 2014 Noam Chomsky — Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate

w: war is peace

Bush: Iraq violence is a ‘very positive moment’

John Byrne
Published: Thursday March 27, 2008

Speaking to the Times of London in an interview published Thursday, President George W. Bush declared that the latest wave of violence in Iraq yielded “a very positive moment in the development of a sovereign nation that is willing to take on elements that believe they are beyond the law.”

The Times headline?

“President Bush: Iraq violence is a ‘positive moment.'”

In an interview with The Times, he backed the Iraqi Government’s decision to “respond forcefully” to the spiralling violence by “criminal elements” and Shia extremists in Basra. “It was a very positive moment in the development of a sovereign nation that is willing to take on elements that believe they are beyond the law,” the President said.

Asked if British troops had retreated to the relative safety of the Basra airbase too hastily last year, Mr Bush said that the pullback had been “based upon success” in quelling violence, adding that he remained grateful for the contribution made by British Forces from “day one” of the war.

Mr Bush, who had spent the morning being briefed on Iraq by the Pentagon before an imminent announcement on US troop levels, said that despite “substantial gains” since the US military surge began last year, much work was needed to “maintain the success we’ve had”.

The Bush Administration has a history of turning violence into “positives.”

During the 2006 war in Lebanon, for example, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declared the Israeli attack as “birth pangs.”

“What we’re seeing here, in a sense, is the growing — the birth pangs of a new Middle East and whatever we do we have to be certain that we’re pushing forward to the new Middle East not going back to the old one,” Rice said.

During his interview with the Times, Bush disparaged those who want US troops to come home, and reinforced his power, saying as he has before, “I’m commander in chief.”

He averred that decisions would not be made by those who “scream the loudest” in calling for troops to come home.

“I understand people here want us to leave, regardless of the situation,” he said, “but that will not happen so long as I’m Commander-In-Chief.”

assassination of chaldean archbishop denounced by jordan

Assassination of Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul denounced by Jordan

AMMAN, March 14 (KUNA) — Prince El-Hassan Bin Talal, Chairman of the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies (RIIFS) and State Minister for Information and Communication have Friday strongly condemned the assassination of Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, Paulos Faraj Rahho describing it as heinous crime and stab for all divine and human values.

According to an oficial statement, the two sides said that the hands of criminals have extended to hearts of all faithful people when they killed a man who carries the message of love, fraternity and human peace.

The Prince sent condolences to every one shocked by this horrific crime, reiterating that it would not deter believers everywhere for their endeavors to strengthen the voice of reason which refuses awful voices that seek to dismantle Iraq and blow up foundations of brotherhood and solidarity among its steadfast people in their plight, who pledge to continue their tenacity and kindness whatever the price.

baghdad bombings rise

Ominous Rise in Baghdad Bombings

Iraqis remove broken street shop stalls from the site of a bomb attack in Baghdad's Karrada neighborhood.

Iraqis remove broken street shop stalls from the site of a bomb attack in Baghdad’s Karrada neighborhood.
Ahmad Al-Rubaye / AFP / Getty

Thursday’s double bombing in Baghdad, which killed nearly 70 people and left hundreds more wounded, was the worst attack in Iraq since June 2007. It continues a troubling trend: a slow but steady increase in deadly bombings across the country. The troop surge is ending and the U.S. has begun withdrawing soldiers from Baghdad, but these attacks may indicate that a military or political solution to the Sunni insurgency may be as far off as it was a year ago.

The attacks capped off a violent week. Last Sunday more than 20 people died in bombings across the capital. And last month nearly 100 people were killed when two women detonated suicide vests in a crowded Baghdad market. According to statistics released by the U.S. military such attacks declined sharply for most of 2007, bottoming out in December. Since late last year, though, car bombings and suicide vest bombings have increased steadily.

Despite this week’s carnage the absolute number of bombings is still far lower than it was one year ago. The problem, however, is not simply lives lost, but also what the slow increase in attacks says about the resiliency of the Sunni insurgency. Battered by Shi’ite militias, the U.S. military and the defection of more moderate insurgents, al-Qaeda in Iraq and other radical insurgent groups are much weaker now than they were just last summer. But, as U.S. officials are quick to acknowledge, they still have the men, the money and the organization to pose a serious threat.

The question now is how that threat will be kept under control. American troop levels in Baghdad and the rest of Iraq will return this year to about the same level as 2006 — the year that saw the worst of the country’s sectarian violence. Helping to fill that void, supposedly, will be former members of the Sunni insurgency: thousands have become U.S.-paid counter-insurgents and, in some cases, members of the Iraqi government security forces. Unlike the mostly Shi’ite Iraqi army and police, these Sunnis have credibility in their towns and neighborhoods and have proven effective in fighting their former insurgent allies.

The trouble is that this ground-level military solution may be in conflict with other government efforts to reduce the violence and foster stability in Iraq. The Karrada bombing came on the heels of a state visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and struck a neighborhood that is home to Iraq’s largest Shi’ite political party and many Shi’ite government officials. The timing and location of this bombing may have been a coincidence, but Karrada makes a nice target for Sunni militants who frame their fight as a struggle against Iranian domination.

The long-term difficulty for the United States and the Iraqi government is that this suspicion of Iran is not simply a fantasy of radical Sunni insurgents. It is a very real fear of Sunni former insurgents currently cooperating in the fight against al-Qaeda. Former insurgent leaders routinely scorn the Iraqi government’s intentions, casting it as a pawn of the Iranians. So, as the Iraqi government strives to reduce violence by improving its relationship with Iran, it may be setting the stage for continued conflict with disaffected Sunnis.

mosul bishop abducted

mosul-bishop.jpg

Mgr Faraj Raho had just finished celebrating the Via Crucis. The three people in a car with him were killed.

Chaldean bishop of Mosul abducted 

Mosul (AsiaNews) – Mgr Faraj Raho, Chaldean bishop of Mosul, was abducted today after he celebrated the Via Crucis. Three people who were with him were killed. Mgr Rabban al-Qas, bishop of Arbil, told AsiaNews about the event after getting the news directly from Mosul. The kidnappers are said to have already made a request. The abduction took place at 5.30 pm local time, Ishtar TV reported. Bishop Raho had just left Mosul’s Holy Spirit Cathedral.“The bishop is in terrorist hands,” Mgr al-Qas said, “but we don’t know in what physical state. The three men who were with him, including his driver, were killed.”

“It is a terrible moment for our Church. Please, pray for us,” Arbil bishop said in an appeal to the world.

green zone repeatedly attacked

Baghdad’s Green Zone attacked

US soldiers secure the area as residents return to the neighborhood of al-Amil in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2008. Al-Amil's residents had fled the area during sectarian violence in 2006. US soldiers secure the area as residents return to the neighborhood of al-Amil in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2008. Al-Amil’s residents had fled the area during sectarian violence in 2006. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
By Patrick Quinn

Associated Press Writer / February 23, 2008

BAGHDAD—Extremists fired an explosive barrage Saturday into the capital’s heavily protected Green Zone, targeting the heart of America’s diplomatic and military mission in Iraq.
The U.S. military said there were no injuries from the early morning volley, which could be heard throughout downtown Baghdad.

The earth-jarring detonations, nearly 10 of them, even shook buildings across the Tigris River from the capital’s fortified core, which houses the U.S. Embassy, military facilities and the Iraqi government.

The attack came shortly before Brig. Gen. Mike Milano, a top U.S. military official tasked with restoring security to Baghdad, said that nearly 80 percent of the capital’s districts were now considered free of organized extremist activity.

The strikes were the most recent involving what Maj. Brad Leighton, a U.S. military spokesman, described as indirect fire — the military’s term for a rocket or mortar attack.

Similar volleys in the past week, including one against an Iraqi housing complex at Baghdad International Airport and its adjoining U.S. military base, killed 31 people, Milano said. He blamed the attacks on “al-Qaida and Iranian-backed special groups.”

Special groups is a term usually reserved for Shiite extremist groups that have broken away from radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army. Many are thought to be backed and trained by predominantly Shiite Iran.

In an upbeat assessment, Milano said a yearlong operation by the U.S. military and Iraqi security forces to make the capital safer had improved the situation.

According to Milano, when the operation began only 20 percent of Baghdad’s 479 districts — known as mahallas — were relatively free of organized violence.

“Today 78 percent of the mahallas are considered free of organized extremist activities,” said Milano, the deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army’s 4th Infantry Division.

He added that since June 2007 there had been a 75 percent decrease in attacks in Baghdad, a 90 percent decrease in civilian casualties and an 85 percent decrease in murders.

“All these indicate to me an improved security situation,” he said.

Baghdad, however, remains far from safe. The Iraqi military indefinitely banned all motorcycles, bicycles and hand-pushed and horse-drawn carts from the city’s streets, a military spokesman said Saturday.

60 pilgrims killed in iraq

Multiple blasts over last two days target Shiite pilgrims walking to shrine

A column of Iraqi army armored cars protects Shiite pilgrims as they leave Baghdad on their way to Karbala, Iraq, Sunday Feb. 24, 2008, for Arbaeen, which marks the 40th day following the anniversary of the death of Imam Hussein, one Shi??’s major figures, who is buried in Karbala. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed ) 
The Associated Press
A roadside bomb killed three Shiite pilgrims Monday in the outskirts of Baghdad, while the death toll from a suicide bombing targeting pilgrims resting in a tent the day before rose to 56, authorities said.In all, extremists have attacked pilgrims headed to the holy city of Karbala three times in the past two days.

The suicide bomber targeted travelers enjoying tea and refreshments in a tent near Iskandariyah, 30 miles south of Baghdad, as authorities have fortified the capital and Karbala to try to keep away extremists.

Karbala is burial site of Imam Hussein, one of Shiite Islam’s most revered figures, where ceremonies will culminate Wednesday to commemorate the end of the 40-day mourning period following the anniversary of his death.

Sunday’s blast killed at least 56 people and injured 68, according to police and Dr. Mahmoud Abdul-Rida, director of the Babil health department.

Hours earlier, extremists attacked another group with guns and grenades in the predominantly Sunni Baghdad neighborhood of Dora, killing three and wounding 36, police said.

Monday’s attack, meanwhile, also wounded 15, said a police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to release the information.

The U.S. embassy in Baghdad and U.S. military forces issued a joint statement Monday condemning the attacks.

“Those killed and wounded in yesterday’s barbaric attacks in Baghdad and Iskandariyah were innocent citizens participating in an important religious commemoration,” it said.

“This indiscriminate violence further reflects the nature of this enemy who will target even those practicing their religion in an effort to re-ignite sectarian strife in Iraq.”

Major Shiite commemorations have frequently been targeted in the past by suspected Sunni insurgents led by al-Qaida in Iraq in their drive to stoke sectarian violence.

The attacks have prompted U.S. and Iraqi forces to increase the number of checkpoints, and impose car bans and other measures in major Shiite cities to protect the worshippers.

Courtesy ABC News

car bomb, gas link blast cut power to northern iraq

iraq

Car bomb, gas link blast cuts off power to northern Iraq

BAGHDAD, Feb 11 (Reuters) – A blast at a gas pipeline feeding a power station on Monday and a car bomb targeting power lines at another station the day before have cut electricity to a quarter of Iraq’s roughly 27 million people, officials said.

“A car bomb yesterday near Mosul power station shut down electricity to the north and east of Iraq by cutting the lines,” electricity ministry spokesman Aziz Sultan said. “Today, another explosion stopped gas to Baiji electrical station, which then had to shut down. Between them, the two incidents have cut power to the entire northern region. We hope to repair it in two days,” Sultan told Reuters by phone.

The region surrounding the northern city of Mosul and the entire semi-autonomous Kurdistan region had no electricity supply, he said. The planning ministry estimates Kurdistan and the area around Mosul to account for a quarter of Iraq’s population, which is estimated at 27 million although the lack of a census makes this hard to judge.

Iraqi army captain Adnan al-Jubouri said a leak had caused the explosion that struck a gas pipeline from Kirkuk’s oilfields to Baiji. But Sultan said he suspected sabotage by insurgents.

(Reporting by Wisam Mohammed; Writing by Tim Cocks; editing by Anthony Barker)