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Iraq

Iraq: The ‘Liberation’ Neocons Would Rather Forget

Remember Fallujah? Shortly after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the US military fired on unarmed protestors, killing as many as 20 and wounding dozens. In retaliation, local Iraqis attacked a convoy of US military contractors, killing four. The US then launched a full attack on Fallujah to regain control, which left perhaps 700 Iraqis dead and the city virtually destroyed.

According to press reports last weekend, Fallujah is now under the control of al-Qaeda affiliates. The Anbar province, where Fallujah is located, is under siege by al-Qaeda. During the 2007 “surge,” more than 1,000 US troops were killed “pacifying” the Anbar province.  Although al-Qaeda was not in Iraq before the US invasion, it is now conducting its own surge in Anbar.
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What Was Not Said About Iraq

October was Iraq’s deadliest month since April, 2008. In those five and a half years, not only has there been no improvement in Iraq’s security situation, but things have gotten much worse. More than 1,000 people were killed in Iraq last month, the vast majority of them civilians. Another 1,600 were wounded, as car bombs, shootings, and other attacks continue to maim and murder.
 
As post-“liberation” Iraq spirals steadily downward, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was in Washington last week to plead for more assistance from the United States to help restore order to a society demolished by the 2003 US invasion.
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Al-Qaeda’s Corridor Through Syria

Syria Rebels

On Tuesday night, suicide bombers and gunmen attacked Iraqi checkpoints along Highway 11, which runs from Baghdad to Syria via Ramadi. They bombed the checkpoint at Rutba as well as points just west of Ramadi. Thirty-seven people were killed in these attacks, a majority of them security officers. Highway 11 is Iraq’s southern route into Syria. The other road from Baghdad to Syria is Highway 12, which runs from Ramadi northwards to the towns of Anan and Rawah, along the Euphrates River and into the Syrian city of Raqqa. Last week, gunmen of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) attacked the towns of Anan and Rawah, destroying a bridge and trying to destroy the electricity transmission towers. The Iraqi army was able to deter the ISIS attack on Rawah, and so held off ISIS’s attempt to take the towns that would give it effective control of Highway 12. Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq said that last week’s attack was a “hopeless attempt by al Qaeda [ISIS] to establish a foothold in Iraq.” It seems likely that ISIS decided to try and take Highway 11 after its attack on Highway 12 was repulsed.
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Iraq: A Seething Boiler About to Explode

Maliki

The pressure in the boiler which Western officials affectedly call "the new democratic Iraq" is building steadily and, figuratively speaking, the needle has entered the red zone. The deepening crisis is systemic in nature, encompasses the most important areas of life and undermines the foundations of statehood. A significant part, if not most, of the responsibility for what is happening lies with the government, headed by the founder and leader of the Islamic Call Party, Nouri Kamil al-Maliki. 

In late 2011, when the last American combat troops left Iraq and the 7-year occupation ended, Baghdad many times declared its readiness to take over the administration of the country and ensure its forward development. In practice, Prime Minister al-Maliki began by quickly and energetically concentrating all power in his own hands and essentially deciding who to punish and who to pardon at his sole discretion. The head of the cabinet of ministers began purging undesirables and those who simply disagreed with the state machinery, without any particular concern for whether there was any basis for it and without scruples over his choice of means. The opposition (and others as well) had many grounds for accusing the head of the cabinet of dictatorial ambitions. 

Following the example of the representatives of the Western coalition, which declared anyone who opposed the occupation a criminal and a terrorist, al-Maliki started accusing everyone who disagreed with his actions of terrorism and collusion with al-Qaeda. The law on fighting terrorism gave intelligence and law enforcement agencies broad powers, including the right to arrest people and hold them in detention without trial solely on suspicion of "anti-government activities" or, for example, in connection with longtime membership in the now-banned Ba'ath party (although the former ruling party had members from all levels and confessions of Iraqi society). On the basis of this law the courts hand down death sentences, which are then carried out; for example, on August 19, 2013 the most recent batch of 17 "enemies of the people" were executed, including two women... 


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Obama’s Syria Policy Looks a Lot Like Bush’s Iraq Policy

President Obama announced late last week that the US intelligence community had just determined that the Syrian government had used poison gas on a small scale, killing some 100 people in a civil conflict that has claimed an estimated 100,000 lives. Because of this use of gas, the president claimed, Syria had crossed his “red line” and the US must begin to arm the rebels fighting to overthrow the Syrian government.


Setting aside the question of why 100 killed by gas is somehow more important than 99,900 killed by other means, the fact is his above explanation is full of holes. The Washington Post reported last week that the decision to overtly arm the Syrian rebels was made “weeks ago” – in other words, it was made at a time when the intelligence community did not believe “with high confidence” that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons.


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Iraq Collapse Shows Bankruptcy of Interventionism

May was Iraq’s deadliest month in nearly five years, with more than 1,000 dead – both civilians and security personnel -- in a rash of bombings, shootings and other violence. As we read each day of new horrors in Iraq, it becomes more obvious that the US invasion delivered none of the promised peace or stability that proponents of the attack promised.

Millions live in constant fear, refugees do not return home, and the economy is destroyed. The Christian community, some 1.2 million persons before 2003, has been nearly wiped off the Iraqi map. Other minorities have likewise disappeared. Making matters worse, US support for the Syrian rebels next door has drawn the Shi’ite-led Iraqi government into the spreading regional unrest and breathed new life into extremist elements.


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