Saturday, July 01, 2006


On this day of horror all I can do is offer my condolences to the many bereaved.

I wish also to express my sincere condolences to the writer of "Truth About Iraqis" who lost a family member today. The young man was murdered by a death squad who seemed highly professional and who seemed to believe that they were above the law. As indeed at present they are. The situation is such that the writer who signs himself "Truth About Iraqis" cannot even use the young man's proper name or give any identifying details lest further horror be visited upon the family.

God be with you my friend. God grant "Aziz" peace and his family fortitude.


Friday, June 30, 2006

Sssssshhhhh Don't Anyone Tell ...

This American blogger and a whole heap of American "journalists" who wouldn't know a red zone if it walked up to them carrying an AK47 and pumped them full of lead that people who fled to Iran during the Saddam Hussein era, especially those Shia who rose against him at American urging only to be stabbed in the back quicker than you can say "41" are commonly referred to in Iraqi parlance as, you guessed it, "Iranians."


Three Principles

The exclusionary principle

Maliki's amnesty (the one he came up with under orders) excludes those:

"involved in crimes, terrorist activities and war crimes against humanity."

The principle of reciprocity

In other words it excludes Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Blair, Abizaid, Bremer, Miller, Boykin, Gonzales, Yoo, and a whole heap of other people. Including of course those legislators who've voted to keep on funding America's illegal and racist war against Iraq and her illegal and racist occupation of Iraq.

The precautionary principle

You'd better lawyer up guys.


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Hamdan V. Rumsfeld, Secretary Of Defense

Hamdan V. Rumsfeld, Secretary Of Defense

Text of the Supreme Court Judgement is here [HAMDAN v. RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE PDF]

Hamdan is a "follow up" to the Court's rejection of the Bush Administration's claim argument two years ago that it had the authority to seize and detain those it suspected of being terrorists denying them access to courts or lawyers.

Hamdan deals with the issue of trials for some of the men.

A quick read* of the judgement raises an interesting question. Of the prisioners held by the US whom it brings to trial by whom are they to be tried and under what rules? It seems to me that any "evidence" obtained in Guantanamo is now completely inadmissible

Another question is what is the scope of this judgement? At first reading it seems to reject Bush/Cheney adminstration's argument that it has been granted implicit authority by congress to act as it sees fit, for example warrantless wire tapping.

Scalia J, Thomas J, Alito J dissenting, Roberts CJ, recused.

* I am not an American lawyer and the jurisprudential basis of the legal system which I am qualified to discuss is different to that of the USA system. The matters arising from the judgement in my mind therefore are those which occur to a reasonably well-informed laywoman when it comes to US law.

It seems to me that the Bush/Cheney admininstration adopted this course of action as a panic measure to be seen to be doing something for political reasons rather than for any real security reasons and that having chosen to flout the law they saw no alternative but to continue down the disastrous path they had chosen. It also seems to me that the recent UK judgements (same disclainer) present the Blair government with similiar problems.

Terrorism is - should be - a matter of policing not the excuse used by an authoritarian government to overthrow the law.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Puzzled Politician Pats Premier Poodle

Poodle Blair and Iraqi Deputy PM

At a press conference held at the Iraqi Embassy after the meeting the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister asked journalists why Mr. Blair kept on asking him for a biscuit.


Looking For Work Is A Dangerous Business

What do you look for if you're a bomber? You look for concentrations of people. In particular you look for a predictable pattern of concentrations of people. In a country whose economy has been destroyed what can be more predictable than people will look for work. People have to eat — the food ration upon which so many Iraqis depend can't exactly be described as generous, it's not surprising that you see so many malnourished Iraqi children. People have to pay rent. The fact that the society in which you live has been "shocked and awed," invaded, and occupied on the basis of a pack of lies means that you'll take anything, anything, to get a bit of money to pay the rent, buy some food, children grow out clothes … … … So you ask around, by now every town in Iraq has a spot, a particular marketplace, a square, a street corner, where people gather early each morning making themselves available for casual labour.


That's the perfect place for a bomb.

There was just such a bombing in Baquba this morning. Casualties were light, "only" three people were killed and "only" twelve were so seriously wounded that they required hospitalisation. Of course the fact that they were so seriously wounded that they required hospitalisation means that they're not going to be able to work for quite some time which means that it's going to be even more difficult to to pay the rent, buy some food, buy some clothes for the children … … …

[post edited by Declan edit = fixed typos.]

Sometimes Medicines Are Not Enough To Cure A Disease

IRAQ: Displaced children suffer depression and poor health - IRIN

12 Year old Barek Ahmed who dreamt of being a doctor has been diagnosed a clinically depressed - Twelve-year-old Barek Ahmed has been diagnosed as clinically depressed after his family was displaced by violence two months ago. Now living with his relatives in Baghdad, the boy laments the fact that he has left his school and friends behind, and will not be able to join a new school in the capital because of a lack of places so late in the year.

"Every year, I have the best results in my class and each day I felt I was getting closer to my dream to be a doctor," said Ahmed. "But I have missed out on the current year and couldn’t do my exams because we had to leave our neighbourhood after insurgents threatened my father. I don't feel excitement about anything now. The only thing I want is to return to studying because it was my dream and they took it from me."

Ahmed is being treated by Dr Ibraheem Fatah Youssef, a professor of psychiatry at Baghdad University, who said that every month dozens of children come to him with the same problem: depression caused my lack of school attendance compounded by violence countrywide.

"These children have lost most of their freedom," said Dr Youssef. "For them, school is the only opportunity they have to run away from all this violence. If they lose that chance, they feel like prisoners in their own homes."

According to the Ministry of Displacement and Migration, about 40,000 children have been displaced in Iraq due to ongoing sectarian violence since the attack on 22 February of a revered Shi’a shrine in Samarra. Most of them, said the ministry, do not have access to schools, and some of them do not have access to medical care.


"Even if they could go to school, many parents are afraid to let their children go while others have had to run away from their homes, causing children to drop out of schools," said Sarmad Abdel-Kareem, a senior official in the Ministry of Education. Abdel-Kareem added that 60 percent of displaced children will have to repeat their current year in school, when they return, because of time or examinations missed.

Teachers in Baghdad schools say that those displaced children who return to classes struggle to keep up with their peers and fare poorly in exams. "The students I have who are from displaced families have forgotten a lot of the knowledge they previously had," said Nawal Izidin, a teacher at a primary school in Mansour district. "They are like babies learning how to write again."

Dr Youssef said that this was a common phenomenon in Iraq's schools and warned that with continued displacement occurring, the country's entire education system will be jeopardised as standards will inevitably fall. "If some students are suffering from depression, not only will it be detrimental to them, but to the rest of their class as the teaching environment becomes more difficult and stressful," he said.


Another problem that displaced children face is lack of access to medical facilities. Dr Muhammad Jarnon, a clinician at the Children’s Paediatrician Hospital in Baghdad, said that with many families having to move from one place to another, as a result of violence, child health concerns are not a priority.

"Because they cannot afford a doctor or public health services are far away, they wait until a particular problem becomes critical before they act," Dr Jarnon said, adding that the main illnesses diagnosed in displaced children are malnutrition, water-borne diseases and diarrhoea.

Dr Jarnon said that most of these diseases could be prevented if they were brought to the attention of doctors earlier, but that the real cure to the problem would be to end displacement altogether and ensure that families live in clean and safe places.

"Sometimes medicines are not enough to cure a disease," said Adel Maruan, a senior official in the Ministry of Health. "We are trying to offer them the best living environments in order to keep diseases at bay, but we have to accept that children have a more delicate immune system and are more prone to catch diseases than adults under these displacement conditions."

Notes: IRIN is a UN humanitarian news and information service.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Hilla Bombing - Aftermath

Composite of photographs of Hila bombingThe bombing in Hila — a mostly shi'ite town in Southern Iraq yesterday night killed at least 30 people and injured at least 60. The graphic to the left shows some of the aftermath as follows:

  1. Scene of the bombing as it was this morning.
  2. Injured youth in Hila hospital.
  3. Injured youth in Hila hospital – close-up.
  4. Funeral of one of those killed in bombing in Najaf – also this morning.

This is going to get any better, on the contrary it's getting worse. It's getting worse first of all because the policies of the occupiers — the USA and its allies are geared towards dividing Iraq up into a series of feuding and weak statelets. Secondly because the presence of US and other Western troops inflames the situation.

How many more bombings, how many more dead American and allied servicemen, how many more mutilated Iraqi civilians and Ameerican and and allied servicemen do there have to be before Americans stop listening to Cheny and Rumsfeld's lies about how the "allies" are there to "re-build" Iraq and stop it from sliding into civil war?

What does it take to get Americans to realise that their army is in an unwinnable war wished upon them by a remote, cynical, and corrupt administration?

Update: Post updated to reflect increased number of confirmed deaths from 15 to 30.

Monday, June 26, 2006

IDP - A new acronym for you to learn

Upsurge in Displacements since Samarra Bombing

woman with her baby at Diwaniyah refugee campAs of the end of April, over 68,000 persons have been displaced due to a recent upsurge of violence since the Samarra Mosque bombing of February 22nd. Some reports from the MoDM have cited figures of up to 100,000 persons displaced across the country.

In response to the surge in IDPs*, IOM is distributing food baskets, blankets, mattresses, jerry cans, kerosene stoves, kitchen sets, and hygienic kits to IDP families. In Baghdad, IOM’s implementing partners have delivered supplies to 470 families. IOM continues to work closely with the Iraqi authorities and the UN working group on IDPs to provide effcient, targeted emergency assistance to those Iraqis most in need.
Source: IOM. Full report here.

*For those not familiar with the jargon. An IDP "internally displaced person" is a refugee inside the country. This photograph of a shi'ite woman and her baby who fled their home was taken today at Diwaniyah refugee camp. Diwaniyah is about 130 kilometers (80 miles) south of Baghdad. This woman fled when gunmen distributed leaflets saying any Shia left in the area would be killed.


Getting Tougher on The Streets

Iraq had, still does have, very good toxicology labs. What it doesn't have are general practitioners [family doctors] with experience in diagnosing drug addiction.

I noticed some incidence of drug addiction following the Iran-Iraq war.

Now as one might expect there has been a massive upsurge in people trying if only temporarily to escape the unbearable reality that is the American creation of occupied Iraq. Some estimates put percentage of users as high as 2%. Higher in cities of course, much higher in the poorer quearters, higher yet in street children.

Since the start of the year there's been a massive upswing in the availability of illegal narcotics in the major cities particularly Baghdad:

  • Marijuana - prices vary too widely to estimate
  • Cocaine - price between US$2 and US$7 per gram depending upon supplier and purity
  • Heroin - price again between US$2 and US$7 per gram depending upon supplier and purity

These three are flooding in from Afghanistan. Prescription drugs were decontrolled by the American Bremer occupation regime:

  • Valium - A bottle of valium costs US¢50.
  • Codeine - A bottle of codeine costs US¢50.

If you can't afford 50 US cents street sellers sell valium "loose." A "mouthful" of codeine mixed with "medical alcohol" for the equivalent of US¢10. This last is very popular with street children. Glue sniffing - solvent abuse, is also noticably prevalent among street children in the poorer quarters.


Sunday, June 25, 2006

So Despondent She Contemplated Killing Herself Along With Her Seven-Year-Old Son

Iraq's sectarian violence leaves widows to suffer
By Terri Judd
Published: 24 June 2006

When Wadah Abid al-Emear feared his meeting would overrun, he asked his wife to go ahead of him to prepare for Eid.

The couple planned to leave Baghdad and head back to her Kurdish home town of Shaklawa for the celebrations. Hours later, as he followed behind, Mr Emear, 42, was dragged from his car by insurgents, tortured, mutilated and murdered - his body left at the roadside.

Today Dunea Ramez, 31, sits alone in what was her husband's favourite room of the house he designed himself. The windows are enlarged to give the best view of the mountains he adored. Clad in black and leading a now isolated life, she has at times been so despondent she contemplated killing herself along with her seven-year-old son, Kefah.

She is still not entirely sure what the motive was behind her husband's death. The family believes Baathist insurgents were responsible but, like so many murders in Iraq today, the killers have never been found.

Yesterday afternoon a group of Iraqi women held a silent vigil to mark International Widow's Day on the steps of St Martin in the Fields at Trafalgar Square in London.

The protest is designed to highlight the plight of countless widows in Iraq and demand an end to violence by the occupying forces and sectarian insurgents, as well as to win public financial support for women and children left without income.


With exact figures for the number of Iraqi casualties still mired in confusion, Mrs Ramez is just one of tens of thousands of widows created by the current conflict in a country which had already lost many husbands and fathers in previous wars.


When Saddam Hussein was deposed, the family returned to the capital so he could restart his political career, becoming a member in the new parliament.

"I said to her, 'Are you not afraid for your life; for your child's life?' But she said: 'If my husband would be in danger I would like to be with him.' She is a brave woman," said Dr Besarani.


Unlike many of his fellow political leaders, he loathed the thought of the fortified Green Zone and his family lived modestly in Baghdad. When her husband's working hours became too long, Mrs Ramez would take Kefah to the office so he could see his son.

"Wadah was one of these courageous people who always stood up in parliament and spoke about the right things. He was very determined Iraq one day would be a very beautiful place to live," said Dr Besarani.


Nevertheless, life for her has ended. Even her seven-year-old son understands that a woman's place is nothing without a man and he tries naïvely to introduce her to strangers, much to her embarrassment.

Even in her own home she must always wear black and knows she will suffer the wrath of militants if she disobeys. The few hours a week she emerges are to teach but she has been told she must give up her job.

"A woman with no man is like a tree without any water in Iraq at the moment. You cannot relax, you cannot go out, you cannot wear make-up. She must wear black," said Dr Besarani. "When she heard she would have to give up her job, she said it was another isolation.

"She hates the invasion, she hates everything. She cannot enjoy any life. Seven months ago she said to me, 'I am going to kill myself and my child'. She is better now but life is still difficult, unbearable."

Source: UK Independent.


British 'helpless' as violence rises in southern Iraq

British 'helpless' as violence rises in southern Iraq
By Kim Sengupta and Raymond Whitaker
Published: 25 June 2006

British forces are facing rising violence among Shia Muslim factions in southern Iraq, but are powerless to contain it, military and diplomatic sources have told The Independent on Sunday. Both British and Iraqi authorities were seeking to play down the situation, they added.


The relatively small number of British troops in the two provinces will not be brought home, but will be deployed in Basra, where Mr Maliki declared a state of emergency during a visit from the capital last month. The decision, which he said was taken in response to the growing violence, is said to have caught British officials by surprise. It was seen as a flexing of muscle by the new Prime Minister, but also emphasises how little control Britain has over events in the region.
[Source: UK Independent]

Powerless is a good description. They already are reduced to moving around between their bases by helicopter and increasingly can do that only at night. See also Italians - Gotta Love 'Em on MFI's other site.