Archive for the ‘Iraqis’ Category

U.S. Troops Still Necessary, Iraqi Govt Official Says

November 8, 2008

Iraq’s deputy prime minister said Saturday his country still needs the U.S. military to ensure security and warned time is running out to approve a new security deal with Washington.

East of Baghdad, a suicide bomber slammed his car into a police checkpoint, killing eight civilians and wounding seven policemen. A security official says the Saturday attack occurred on a highway near the former Sunni insurgent stronghold of Ramadi in Anbar province. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information to the media.

By BUSHRA JUHI, Associated Press Writer

The violence came as U.S. and Iraqis officials were working to finalize a deal that would remove U.S. troops from Iraq’s cities by June 30 and withdraw them from the country by 2012.

Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh cautioned that Iraq will enter a “period of a legal vacuum” if the U.N. mandate under which US troops operate in Iraq expires by year’s end without the agreement having been approved.

On Thursday, the U.S. sent what it calls its final answer to proposed Iraqi changes to the draft agreement, and is now waiting on Baghdad’s response.

“The government is studying the latest amendments, and I hope that we can settle this subject as soon as soon possible because time is running,” he said.

Saleh, who is Kurdish, added the pact is key to preserving “the security improvement which has been achieved” in recent months.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081108/ap_on_
re_mi_ea/ml_iraq;_ylt=AtaK9ojqjuQ
BexB7tj1fxDqs0NUE

US commander says Iran trying to bribe Iraqis

October 13, 2008

WASHINGTON (AFP) – General Ray Odierno, who commands US forces in Iraq, has accused Iran of trying to bribe Iraqi lawmakers in the hope of undermining an agreement that would allow US troops to remain in Iraq after the end of this year, The Washington Post reported Monday.

General Ray Odierno, who commands US forces in Iraq, seen here, ...
Above: General Ray Odierno, who commands US forces in Iraq, seen here, has accused Iran of trying to bribe Iraqi lawmakers in the hope of undermining an agreement that would allow US troops to remain in Iraq after the end of this year, The Washington Post has reported.(AFP/File/Dusan Vranic)

In an interview with the paper, Odierno said Iran was working publicly and covertly to undermine the status-of-forces agreement that the US and Iraq are about to conclude and that must be ratified by the Iraqi parliament.

“Clearly, this is one they’re having a ‘full court press‘ on to try to ensure there’s never any bilateral agreement between the United States and Iraq,” the paper quoted him as saying, using a basketball expression.

“We know that there are many relationships with people here for many years going back to when Saddam was in charge, and I think they’re utilizing those contacts to attempt to influence the outcome of the potential vote in the council of representatives,” the general continued.

Odierno said, however, he had no definitive proof of the bribes, but added that “there are many intelligence reports” that suggest Iranians are “coming in to pay off people to vote against it,” The Post reported.

The status-of-forces afteement is designed to replace a UN resolution that sanctions the presence of US troops in Iraq. This resolution expires at the end of the year.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081013/wl_mideast_a
|fp/usiraqiranmilitary_081013115336

Consequences of Speedy Withdrawal From Iraq?

March 31, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
March 31, 2008

Every time I hear someone like Barack Obama talk about an immediate removal of American troops from Iraq, I say to myself: “you will condemn unknown millions to death and torture.”Even former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski believes a speedy U.S. troop removal will be a good thing.  And he said he supports Mr. Obama.

Writing in the Washington Post yesterday (March 30, 2008), Mr. Brzinski said, “The contrast between the Democratic argument for ending the war and the Republican argument for continuing is sharp and dramatic. The case for terminating the war is based on its prohibitive and tangible costs, while the case for ‘staying the course’ draws heavily on shadowy fears of the unknown and relies on worst-case scenarios. President Bush’s and Sen. John McCain’s forecasts of regional catastrophe are quite reminiscent of the predictions of ‘falling dominoes’ that were used to justify continued U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Neither has provided any real evidence that ending the war would mean disaster, but their fear-mongering makes prolonging it easier.”

Ironically, many of the same liberals who demand an immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq are the same ones who believe they are great protectors of human rights and also suffer from the dream that America’s withdrawal from Vietnam was justified and made Southeast Asia a better place.

The truth is: America’s departure from Vietnam meant death, torture and imprisonment for millions of Vietnamese and Cambodians. Both contries became communist — which is hardly a good thing. 

In my view, America’s withdrawal from Vietnam was the biggest tragedy of American foreign policy during the last century. America’s withdrawal from Vietnam is a gigantic black mark on America’s history.

Yesterday, Dith Pran died. Dith Pran is the person who called the carnage in Cambodia after America left Vietnam “The Killing Fields.”

Mr. Max Boot, writing in today’s Washington Post said, “Why am I not reassured by Zbigniew Brzezinski’s breezy assurance in Sunday’s Outlook section that ‘forecasts of regional catastrophe’ after an American pullout from Iraq are as overblown as similar predictions made prior to our pullout from South Vietnam? Perhaps because the fall of Saigon in 1975 really was a catastrophe. Another domino fell at virtually the same time — Cambodia.”

Mr. Boot continued, “Estimates vary, but a safe bet is that some two million people died in the killing fields of Cambodia. In South Vietnam, the death toll was lower, but hundreds of thousands were consigned to harsh ‘reeducation’ camps where many perished, and hundreds of thousands more risked their lives to flee as ‘boat people.’”

How do I know personally about the carnage of refugees when America departs from a far away war zone? I am married to a former prisoner of communism and a refugee who was born in Vietnam.

Saigon fell to the communists in 1975. My bride made it to America in 1998. She considers herself one of the “lucky ones.”

Just yesterday, as my wife and I were teaching English to Vietnamese-Americans, a man named Chien told me that in 1975 his father was given three days notice by the communists to report for reeducation. He was gone for six years and ten months. When he returned, he had lost nearly half his body weight due to overwork, malnourishment and harsh conditions with no medial care.

Chien’s father considered himself one of the “lucky ones” — because he had seen so many tortured and seen so many deaths.

One of the most degrading and harmful crimes committed against refugees is rape. Pirates, criminals, police, guards, soldiers even sometimes representatives of the United Nations have been known to rape refugees.

The criminal act of rape is not so much a sexual act of gratification, according to psychologists. Instead, in the case of refugees, it is a barbaric act of power, control and forced compliance with any order or directive.

After hearing countless stories of rape and humiliation related to me by Vietnamese refugees and “boat people” who fled communist Vietnam between 1975 and the late 1990s, I thought it might be useful to share some small bits of these stories without using the real names of any of the victims.

May was about 25 years old when she left Saigon and began to run away from communism and toward freedom. She traveled with her family to the sea coast and as a group they paid a broker about $1,000 per person for the privilege of leaving Vietnam by boat.

They transited by sea toward Thailand and freedom but they had never heard about the pirates plying the seas in search of the vulnerable and weak.

May’s entire family and everyone else in her boat suffered the horrible fate of being descended upon by armed pirates. Four Vietnamese men were killed in the attack and two more were slaughtered because they did not react quickly enough to the orders of the pirates. One man was beheaded by the pirates in front of the horrified refugee women and children.

May and all the other women in the boat were raped repeatedly. But, because she was one of the youngest and most beautiful women in the boat, May was singled out for special humiliation, abuse and torture. Her arms were tied so each spread out parallel to the deck and away from her torso. The lines were knotted painfully tight so that she could not move. She looked like someone subjected to crucifixion. Then her ankles were bound and tied so that her legs were apart. More than 22 men had they way with May before she lost consciousness.

When she regained the ability to think, she felt unbearable pain and shame and embarrassment. He own mother cut her down after the pirates left and tended to her bleeding.

When this refugee boat made landfall in Thailand, every woman was “rinsed out” without her own consent or authorization. The Thais didn’t want any pregnant refugees on their hands.

“And the cost of entering Thailand and the cost of entering the refugee camp was rape,” a Vietnamese American woman told us.

“My sister was raped 13 times,” she said.

“Many of my relatives disappeared. We are sure they must have been killed.”May wound up in the infamous Thai refugee center called “Sikhiew Camp.” She estimated that in her two year stay there she was raped about 60 more times.

Another Vietnamese woman named Suan told me a heartening story about the value of human life.

Like May, Suan was raped on the boat trip from Vietnam to Thailand. When she debarked from the boat in Thailand and saw the women being rinsed out, she faked an illness and refused the procedure. For some reason the Thai police sent her on her way to the refugee camp.

A few months later Suan realized that she was pregnant. All of her relatives and friends told her to abort the baby – and an old woman said she knew how to carry out the procedure as painlessly as possible.

Suan, a Roman Catholic who believed abortion to be a sin, prayed for two weeks for guidance. Then she told her mother she would need help having “her baby.”

Suan gave birth to a baby boy while in the refugee center. Today he is an American citizen who is a policeman in New England.

Suan’s decision to have her baby — a baby forced upon her by a man she didn’t know and didn’t love — turned out to be a good one. A real lesson in the value of human life and our ability to overcome hardship.

So when I hear people talk about quickly pulling American troops out of Iraq without discussing the implications for so many in that region who will then be at risk, I think about the refugees and their hardship. I live among them every day.

I live among the “lucky ones,” because millions died and we’ll never know how many.

Related:
Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Plan to End Iraq War

How Not to End the War
By Max Boot

‘Killing Fields’ survivor Dith Pran dies

Disaster of Hasty Withdrawal
By Henry Kissinger

Vietnam After the Fall of Saigon: 1975 Until Present

The Fall of Saigon: 1975 (Part II)

The Fall of Saigon: 1975 (Part I)

Thailand’s Criminal Abuse of Refugees: a Shameful 30+ Year Saga

Millions of Iraqis lack water, healthcare: Red Cross

March 17, 2008
By Stephanie Nebehay Sun Mar 16, 7:05 PM ET

GENEVA (Reuters) – Five years after the United States led an invasion of Iraq, millions of people there are still deprived of clean water and medical care, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Monday.

Kurdish woman lays flowers at a monument   for the victims of ...
Kurdish woman lays flowers at a monument for the victims of Halabja massacre on its 20th anniversary in Halabja, Iraq , Sunday, March 16, 2008. Some 5,600 people were killed when Saddam Hussein ordered the attack in Halabja as part of a scorched-earth campaign to crush a Kurdish rebellion in the north (AP Photo/Yahya Ahmed)

In a sober report marking the anniversary of the 2003 start of the war, which ousted dictator Saddam Hussein and unleashed deep sectarian tensions, the humanitarian body said Iraqi hospitals lack beds, drugs, and medical staff.

Some areas of the country of 27 million people have no functioning water and sanitation facilities, and the poor public water supply has forced some families to use at least a third of their average $150 monthly income buying clean drinking water.

“Five years after the outbreak of the war in Iraq, the humanitarian situation in most of the country remains among the most critical in the world,” the ICRC said, describing Iraq’s health care system as “now in worse shape than ever.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080316/wl_nm/iraq_
cross_dc;_ylt=AknPdUDWArpq6L2TG4s80a2s0NUE

Opposition to Iraq war is divided after 5 years

March 13, 2008

By Susan Page
USA Today
March 13, 2008

WILMINGTON, Del. — Five years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Bree Tease is trying to balance the obligations she feels to Iraqis and to the children whose needs she sees every day in her fourth-grade class.

“Over here, there are so many ways we could use that money,” the teacher, 27, says. “But then I think about the poor families and children in Iraq, and they didn’t do anything wrong.” If U.S. troops withdraw, Iraq could fall into chaos. So should they stay? “You have to leave at some point,” she says, uncertain over when.

Read the rest:
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-03-12-warpoll_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip

Turkey Sends Soldiers Into N. Iraq

February 23, 2008

By Joshua Partlow and Amit R. Paley
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, February 23, 2008; Page A11

DAHUK, Iraq, Feb. 22 — After months of sporadic shelling targeting the mountain hideouts of Kurdish guerrilla fighters, Turkey sent tanks and ground troops into northern Iraq on Thursday afternoon in an incursion that escalated the tension between the neighboring countries.

The incursion marked the first time since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 that Turkish soldiers in large numbers have crossed onto Iraqi soil. The offensive alarmed Iraqi officials, who have condemned violence by the separatist Kurdish guerrillas in the past but do not want to see a large-scale Turkish invasion.

“This has been a serious escalation,” Iraq’s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, said in an interview. “We hope that this will end as soon as possible for fear of escalation or any minor mistakes that would lead to a wider problem.”

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/22/
AR2008022202919.html?hpid=moreheadlines

Musharraf: He’s The Best Hope That Was Available At the Moment

November 6, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
November 6, 2007

Let’s face it: if anyone in the government of the United States of America ever though President General Pervez Musharraf was dedicated to a future democratic Pakistan, he was naïve, stupid or smoking some illegal substance.

Just try to name one other U.S. ally ever who wanted to be called “President General.”
Photo

Musharraf is and always has been a military man.  He came to power in a coup. And he is a strong man holding together a rats nest of Islamic extremists, militants and terrorists. In Pakistan, the question isn’t “Are these guys bad guys?” The more appropriate question almost always is, “Who’s side are these bad guys on?”

I have been into and out of Pakistan a few times assisting people battling the Taliban and other terrorists. It is not a pretty place to “vacation,” as my friend Mike dubbed my sojourns today.

And I have always questioned the full-throttled support for Musharraf that the U.S. has proclaimed.  And the support is not just words: it amounts to about $130 million (USD) every month.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press” with Tim Russert on Sunday, September 10, 2006, Vice President Dick Cheney expressed such strong U.S. Government support for President general Musharraf of Pakistan – that I thought at the time the words were clearly over the top. Mr. Cheney expressed U.S. support for Musharraf as follows:

“President Musharraf has been a great ally. There was, prior to 9/11, a close relationship between the Pakistan intelligence services and the Taliban. Pakistan was one of only three nations that recognized, diplomatically recognized the government of Afghanistan at that particular time. But the fact is Musharraf has put his neck on the line in order to be effective in going after the extremist elements including al-Qaeda and including the Taliban in Pakistan. There have been three attempts on his life, two of those by al-Qaeda over the course of the last three years. This is a man who has demonstrated great courage under very difficult political circumstances and has been a great ally for the United States”.

“So there’s no question in that area along the Afghan/Pakistan border is something of a no man’s land, it has been for centuries. It’s extraordinarily rough territory. People there who move back and forth across the border, they were smuggling goods before there was concern about, about terrorism. But we need to continue to work the problem. Musharraf just visited Karzai in, in Kabul this past week, they’re both going to be here during the course of the U.N. General Assembly meetings over the course of the next few weeks. We worked that area very hard, and the Paks have been great allies in that effort.”

“Pakistan, we’ve gone in and worked closely with Musharraf to take down al-Qaeda. Saudi Arabia, same thing. In all of those cases, it’s been a matter of getting the locals into the fight to prevail over al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda-related tyrants.”

“Think of Musharraf who puts his neck on the line every day he goes to work, when there’ve been attempts on his life because of his support for our position. And they look over here and they see the United States that’s made a commitment to the Iraqis, that’s gone in and taken down the old regime, worked to set up a democracy, worked to set up security forces, and all of a sudden we say it’s too tough, we’re going home. What’s Karzai going to think up in Kabul? Is he going to have any confidence at all that he can trust the United States, that in fact we’re there to get the job done? What about Musharraf? Or is Musharraf and those people you’re talking about who are on the fence in Afghanistan and elsewhere going to say, ‘My gosh, the United States hasn’t got the stomach for the fight. Bin Laden’s right, al-Qaeda’s right, the United States has lost its will and will not complete the mission,’ and it will damage our capabilities and all of those other war fronts, if you will, in the global war on terror.”

Have you ever heard any President or Vice President of the United States express such unbridled support for anyone at any time?

I think not.

So why did Musharraf get the full trust and confidence of the United States – and billions of dollars? Because he was in power on 9-11 and we were in no position to invade Iraq, Afghanistan AND Pakistan. Pakistan at least had a ruler that didn’t drop gas on his own people, the way Saddam used gas on the Kurds.

So, Musharraf was a guy we were stuck with: not the guy we chose to take to the dance.

It rankles me some that Mr. Cheney felt he had to so obviously oversell this lemon. I wish he had just said: “Musharraf will never give us democracy in Pakistan. But he might keep the various factions from creating total chaos.”

Today Musharraf said he would still hold democratic elections in January. That, my friends, is happy talk nobody in Pakistan believes. Musharraf is holding on for dear life. And it is uncertain if he’ll still be above ground in January. If he is it will be because many of his enemies disappear without a trace.

Now we may be on the brink of total chaos in Pakistan and the U.S. can do little but stand on the sidelines like a deer in the headlights.

But it looks like we already decided to stay with the gal we’re dancing with. As long as she can do it.