Saturday, December 29, 2007

Iraq Progresses To Some Of Its Worst




WASHINGTON, Dec 29 (IPS) - Despite all the claims of improvements, 2007 has been the worst year yet in Iraq.

One of the first big moves this year was the launch of a troop "surge" by the U.S. government in mid-February. The goal was to improve security in Baghdad and the western al-Anbar province, the two most violent areas. By June, an additional 28,000 troops had been deployed to Iraq, bringing the total number up to more than 160,000.

By autumn, there were over 175,000 U.S. military personnel in Iraq. This is the highest number of U.S. troops deployed yet, and while the U.S. government continues to talk of withdrawing some, the numbers on the ground appear to contradict these promises.

The Bush administration said the "surge" was also aimed at curbing sectarian killings, and to gain time for political reform for the government of U.S.-backed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

During the surge, the number of Iraqis displaced from their homes quadrupled, according to the Iraqi Red Crescent. By the end of 2007, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that there are over 2.3 million internally displaced persons within Iraq, and over 2.3 million Iraqis who have fled the country.

Iraq has a population around 25 million.

The non-governmental organisation Refugees International describes Iraq's refugee problem as "the world's fastest growing refugee crisis."

In October the Syrian government began requiring visas for Iraqis. Until then it was the only country to allow Iraqis in without visas. The new restrictions have led some Iraqis to return to Baghdad, but that number is well below 50,000.

A recent UNHCR survey of families returning found that less than 18 percent did so by choice. Most came back because they lacked a visa, had run out of money abroad, or were deported.

Sectarian killings have decreased in recent months, but still continue. Bodies continue to be dumped on the streets of Baghdad daily.

One reason for a decrease in the level of violence is that most of Baghdad has essentially been divided along sectarian lines. Entire neighbourhoods are now surrounded by concrete blast walls several metres high, with strict security checkpoints. Normal life has all but vanished.

The Iraqi Red Crescent estimates that eight out of ten refugees are from Baghdad.

By the end of 2007, attacks against occupation forces decreased substantially, but still number more than 2,000 monthly. Iraqi infrastructure, like supply of potable water and electricity are improving, but remain below pre-invasion levels. Similarly with jobs and oil exports. Unemployment, according to the Iraqi government, ranges between 60-70 percent.

An Oxfam International report released in July says 70 percent of Iraqis lack access to safe drinking water, and 43 percent live on less than a dollar a day. The report also states that eight million Iraqis are in need of emergency assistance.

"Iraqis are suffering from a growing lack of food, shelter, water and sanitation, healthcare, education, and employment," the report says. "Of the four million Iraqis who are dependent on food assistance, only 60 percent currently have access to rations through the government-run Public Distribution System (PDS), down from 96 percent in 2004."

Nearly 10 million people depend on the fragile rationing system. In December, the Iraqi government announced it would cut the number of items in the food ration from ten to five due to "insufficient funds and spiralling inflation." The inflation rate is officially said to be around 70 percent.

The cuts are to be introduced in the beginning of 2008, and have led to warnings of social unrest if measures are not taken to address rising poverty and unemployment.

Iraq's children continue to suffer most. Child malnutrition rates have increased from 19 percent during the economic sanctions period prior to the invasion, to 28 percent today.

This year has also been one of the bloodiest of the entire occupation. The group Just Foreign Policy, "an independent and non-partisan mass membership organisation dedicated to reforming U.S. foreign policy," estimates the total number of Iraqis killed so far due to the U.S.-led invasion and occupation to be 1,139,602.

This year 894 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq, making 2007 the deadliest year of the entire occupation for the U.S. military, according to ICasualties.org.

To date, at least 3,896 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq, according to the U.S. Department of Defence.

A part of the U.S. military's effort to reduce violence has been to pay former resistance fighters. Late in 2007, the U.S. military began paying monthly wages of 300 dollars to former militants, calling them now "concerned local citizens."

While this policy has cut violence in al-Anbar, it has also increased political divisions between the dominant Shia political party and the Sunnis – the majority of these "concerned citizens" being paid are Sunni Muslims. Prime Minister Maliki has said these "concerned local citizens" will never be part of the government's security apparatus, which is predominantly composed of members of various Shia militias.

Underscoring another failure of the so-called surge is the fact that the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad remains more divided than ever, and hopes of reconciliation have vanished.

According to a recent ABC/BBC poll, 98 percent of Sunnis and 84 percent of Shias in Iraq want all U.S. forces out of the country. (END/2007)

17 comments:

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

Off topic--I feel better now. I saw my GP Friday morning. It looks like the problem may have been simply that my Aciphex prescription had run out at just the wrong time--the doctors' offices were closed--and OTC remedies just don't cut it. It didn't feel like acid reflux, so I suspected a microbe.

Thanks for the suggestion, Cap, but I never touch Teh Ethanol, or any of the other recreational substances. It's not due to my religion; the United Methodist Church asks only temperance, not abstinence. I just don't want to ingest anything that might cause me to do stupid things, since I'm quite capable of that without chemical assistance. :)

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

On topic [I think], back when I was growing up in the latter half of the Cold War, I never thought I'd see the day when Russia was more or less a democratic, or at least capitalist, country and MY COUNTRY WAS RUNNING A GULAG ARCHIPELAGO, just like Russia in the old days, and trying to ram our allegedly-wonderful way of life down Afghan throats, just like Russia in the old days. We're going the Russians one better, or rather worse, by trying to ram it down Iraqi throats as well.

Speaking as a white Southern man, I want to say this to the rest of the country: NOW do you see why you must NOT let my people run this country? If we had enough sense to pour piss out of our boots, we might have won that war. [you know, THE war.]

To quote one of my favorite lines from a movie, the first line of "PUMP UP THE VOLUME": "Did you ever get the feeling that everything in America is COMPLETELY FUCKED UP?"

So now we inflict the CFU-ness on other countries as well. Anyone notice the CFU-ness began about the same time White Southern Men began to dominate this country again?

Oh dear, am I ranting again? ;)

capt said...

Believe it or not Ethanol does kill microbes (and brain cells and can make one less than smart but) . . . . a medicinal dose (as in a very small amount) can be very therapeutic.

Glad you are feeling better!

Gerald said...

The Year in Review

Gerald said...

Moral Downsizing

Will Hitler Bush be known as the Father of Moral Downsizing???

Gerald said...

2012

I have a friend in finances who says that Nazi America is courting catastrophe in the financial world.

Could December 21, 2012 bring on a catastrophe of biblical proportions???

Gerald said...

Torture Training

Gerald said...

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12.

The world forces of this darkness are the forces of dehumanization, that have transformed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, men, women, and children, into "collateral damage", that have allow ghastly experiments in torture on thousands of innocent bystanders in the dungeons where we perfect the techniques of inhumanity.

Such is the face of the naked beast which we must battle in ourselves and in a government soon to ratify the forms of bestiality which from which the face of American piety continually averts itself.

Gerald said...

Oligarchial Decay

Gerald said...

Burning of Tapes Is Like Watergate All Over Again
by Helen Thomas

When a fire broke out in Vice President Dick Cheney’s ceremonial office earlier this month, reporters quipped that someone must be burning the videotapes of the CIA interrogation of two al-Qaida detainees.

The joke was an allusion to the administration’s admission that the CIA videotapes had been destroyed. The videotapes reportedly showed the harsh interrogations and water boarding of the prisoners in secret prisons abroad.

One has to wonder what other forms of torture U.S. agents shamefully adapted as our own in their unfettered drive to question prisoners.

The New York Times reported that the pros and cons of destroying the tapes had been discussed by former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Harriet Miers, both former White House counsels; John Bellinger, then a lawyer for the White House’s National Security Council; and David Addington, chief of staff to Cheney.

The order to destroy the tapes was authorized by Jose Rodriguez, former chief of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, according to The Associated Press.

U.S. District Court Judge Henry Kennedy had ordered the government not to destroy any evidence of mistreatment or abuse of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, but there is a question of whether the order applied to other secret CIA prisons overseas.

This whole episode shows why the administration sends suspects to notorious foreign prisons: The American people have no power to see that they are treated decently. Who in this administration approved this disgrace on America? President Bush told a news conference that he did not know of the existence or destruction of the tapes until he was briefed Dec. 6 by CIA Director Michael Hayden. Bush seemed to have no concern that he had been kept in the dark about such consequential matters.

Meantime, the Senate and House intelligence committees - notably lax in their oversight duties - are now getting in the act. The top members of those committees are reportedly angry that they were not fully informed about the contents of the tapes or about their destruction.

Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, chairman of the House panel, has threatened to subpoena Rodriguez and the CIA’s acting general counsel, John Rizzo. They did not show up at a scheduled hearing Dec. 18.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has said that news of the videotape destruction “was extremely disturbing to me.”

Rockefeller said he has pushed for a full investigation of the CIA’s detention and interrogation programs for years.

Now he says he wants a complete chronology about the tapes and why they were destroyed, adding: “We must get to the bottom of it.”

White House officials have refused to discuss who gave the order to destroy the tapes on grounds that any comment would interfere with the Justice Department investigation. Having the Justice Department investigate this matter is like having the fox guarding the chicken coop.

A week ago, Judge Henry H. Kennedy appeared sympathetic to the Justice Department’s request for the court to back off until the department has completed its investigation.

Justice Department officials said they could not predict how long their joint inquiry with the CIA would take.

David Remes, a lawyer for the detainees at Guantánamo, says destruction of the tapes may have violated Kennedy’s court order.

The case has a whiff of the Watergate scandal that deposed Richard Nixon from the presidency in 1974. For example, the idea that the administration is investigating itself is strange. In Watergate, that strangeness led to the appointment of an independent prosecutor to investigate.

Newly confirmed Attorney General Michael Mukasey has demonstrated which side he is on by refusing to turn over requested documents to the congressional panels. He also is on record that the Constitution puts the president above the law - and that he does not know whether water boarding constitutes torture.

Where does the administration find such people so lacking in a moral compass or even an understanding of the constitutional powers of the presidency? Bring back Sen. Sam Ervin, D-N.C., and Rep. Peter Rodino, D-N.J., the late Watergate-era lawmakers who believed in the rule of law and relentlessly dug out the truth.

Gerald said...

CIA Torture and Other War Crimes

Gerald said...

Looking for war crimes committed by members of the Bush administration is a complicated exercise because there are so many to go around. Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo come immediately to mind. The Nuremburg Tribunals at the end of the Second World War defined an aggressive war against another country if that country has not attacked you first or threatened to do so as "essentially an evil thing...to initiate a war of aggression...is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." A number of leading Nazis were executed for their unprovoked attack on Poland. The Bush administration has its own Poland in Iraq, and if there is an American attack on Iran it would also fit the Nuremberg definition. Unlike at Nuremberg, however, no one will be held accountable.

Gerald said...

Saddam Lives On in Iraq and Hitler Bush Is the New Saddam in Nazi America

Gerald said...

Balance of Power Is Shifting from US

Gerald said...

Quotable
They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country. But in modern war, there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason.
– Ernest Hemingway

To prop up Hitler Bush and his fascist state we will all die like dogs. - Gerald

CresceNet said...

Gostei muito desse post e seu blog é muito interessante, vou passar por aqui sempre =) Depois dá uma passada lá no meu site, que é sobre o CresceNet, espero que goste. O endereço dele é http://www.provedorcrescenet.com . Um abraço.

capt said...

Sadly, eu não falo o português - pode você traduzir ao inglês?