Monday, November 26, 2007

Drift to War

October 2007 - Paul Rogers Oxford Research Group

There was a decrease in US military casualties in Iraq during October. A decline in civilian casualties was also claimed by the US military authorities but other agencies, including Iraqi government sources, were less positive. These other reports were more plausible given the huge increase in the use of air power by the US military – there were more than three times as many air strikes in the first ten months of 2007 as in the whole of 2006.

In any case, even if the security situation in Iraq was showing some small sign of improvement, attention shifted a thousand miles to the east where even the violent conflict in south east Afghanistan was overshadowed by political developments in Pakistan.

The return of the former Prime Minister Benzir Bhutto had been expected to see a consolidation of power in the hands of General Musharraf in combination with Mrs Bhutto and her party. In the event, a suicide bomb attack on her motorcade on the day of her arrival indicated the problems that would be faced and Mrs Bhutto returned to her residence in Dubai before the end of the month.

As the security situation in the border districts with Afghanistan deteriorated, General Musharraf endeavoured to take direct control of the country, leaving the US attempts to broker a Musharraf/Bhutto coalition in disarray. By the end of the month it looked highly unlikely that the forthcoming elections would be held, especially as many key members of opposition political parties were being detained by security forces on behalf of the Musharraf regime.

Further Sanctions against Iran

In the United States, the situation in Pakistan caused concern but this scarcely impinged on the 2008 presidential election campaign. Indeed, it was the issue of Iran that became steadily more prominent during the course of October, with the Bush administration announcing a further round of sanctions at the end of the month. These appeared to pre-empt further international discussions and, on the surface, appeared mainly directed at Iran’s presumed nuclear weapon programme. The US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice concentrated on this, saying that “the international community cannot just sit idly by until we face unpalatable choices. A nuclear weapon in the hands of the Iranian regime would be deeply destabilizing in the world’s most volatile region.” Read article

Friday, October 12, 2007

World's future hinges on peace between faiths, Islamic scholars tell Pope

Inayat Bunglawala: The Challenge of Muhammad

Riazat Butt, religious affairs correspondent and Martin Hodgson
Thursday October 11, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians, Islamic scholars told the Pope today.

In a letter addressed directly to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, 138 prominent Muslim scholars said that finding common ground between the world's biggest two religions was not "simply a matter for polite ecumenical dialogue".

The letter, which is entitled A Common Word between Us and You, says: "Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world's population. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world. The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians."

The 29-page document argues that the basis for this understanding can be found in the common principles of the religions: "Love of the one God, and love of the neighbour".
Read article

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Shifting Targets: The Administration’s plan for Iran.

Annals of National Security
Shifting Targets
The Administration’s plan for Iran.
by Seymour M. Hersh
The New Yorker
October 8, 2007

In a series of public statements in recent months, President Bush and members of his Administration have redefined the war in Iraq, to an increasing degree, as a strategic battle between the United States and Iran. “Shia extremists, backed by Iran, are training Iraqis to carry out attacks on our forces and the Iraqi people,” Bush told the national convention of the American Legion in August. “The attacks on our bases and our troops by Iranian-supplied munitions have increased. . . . The Iranian regime must halt these actions. And, until it does, I will take actions necessary to protect our troops.” He then concluded, to applause, “I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran’s murderous activities.”

The President’s position, and its corollary—that, if many of America’s problems in Iraq are the responsibility of Tehran, then the solution to them is to confront the Iranians—have taken firm hold in the Administration. This summer, the White House, pushed by the office of Vice-President Dick Cheney, requested that the Joint Chiefs of Staff redraw long-standing plans for a possible attack on Iran, according to former officials and government consultants. The focus of the plans had been a broad bombing attack, with targets including Iran’s known and suspected nuclear facilities and other military and infrastructure sites. Now the emphasis is on “surgical” strikes on Revolutionary Guard Corps facilities in Tehran and elsewhere, which, the Administration claims, have been the source of attacks on Americans in Iraq. What had been presented primarily as a counter-proliferation mission has been reconceived as counterterrorism. Read entire article

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Iraq Divided: Why they fight

September 28, 2007 5:11 p.m. PT


The fact that the Senate on Wednesday voted in favor of a measure -- albeit a non-binding one -- that would divide Iraq into sectarian regions shows how out of touch our well-meaning lawmakers are with what Iraqis, who make up what President Bush repeatedly refers to as a sovereign, democratic nation, want.

Fortunately, there are those who know the hearts of Iraqis, such as Raed Jarrar, a political analyst and consultant to the D.C.-based American Friends Service Committee's Iraq Program. In a recent piece he co-wrote for, Jarrar said that those defining the civil war within Iraq as a religious conflict alone miss the point. Iraq's war is over control of the country and its energy supplies, not over Allah.

Jarrar writes, the "Bush administration, with the support of Congress, has taken the same side as Iran's hardliners and the same side as the Sunni fundamentalist group called al-Qaida in Iraq. All are working ... against the wishes of a majority of Iraqis." Indeed, a poll conducted by Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland show that the majority of Iraqis (61 percent) want a stronger central government, a wish supported even by Kurds, who already have their own region.

Read article

Monday, October 1, 2007

'A Coup Has Occurred'

By Daniel Ellsberg
September 26, 2007 (Text of a speech delivered September 20, 2007)

Editor’s Note: Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defense Department analyst who leaked the secret Pentagon Papers history of the Vietnam War, offered insights into the looming war with Iran and the loss of liberty in the United States at an American University symposium on Sept. 20. Below is an edited transcript of Ellsberg’s remarkable speech:

I think nothing has higher priority than averting an attack on Iran, which I think will be accompanied by a further change in our way of governing here that in effect will convert us into what I would call a police state.

If there’s another 9/11 under this regime … it means that they switch on full extent all the apparatus of a police state that has been patiently constructed, largely secretly at first but eventually leaked out and known and accepted by the Democratic people in Congress, by the Republicans and so forth.

Will there be anything left for NSA to increase its surveillance of us? … They may be to the limit of their technical capability now, or they may not. But if they’re not now they will be after another 9/11.

Read the entire transcript

Friday, August 24, 2007

Bush's New War Drums for Iran

By Ray McGovern
August 21, 2007 ~~

It is as though I’m back as an analyst at the CIA, trying to estimate the chances of an attack on Iran. The putative attacker, though, happens to be our own president.

It is precisely the work we analysts used to do. And, while it is still a bit jarring to be turning our analytical tools on the U.S. leadership, it is by no means entirely new. For, of necessity, we Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) have been doing that for almost six years now—ever since 9/11, when “everything changed.”

Of necessity? Yes, because, with very few exceptions, American journalists lose their jobs if they expose things like fraudulent wars.

The craft of CIA analysis was designed to be an all-source operation, meaning that we analysts were responsible—and held accountable—for assimilating information from all sources and coming to judgments on what it all meant. We used information of all kinds, from the most sophisticated technical collection platforms to spies to open media.

Read article

Iraq War Resisters to Get Boost from Veterans Group

SAINT LOUIS, Aug 20 (OneWorld) - Members of a leading Iraq war veterans' organization voted this weekend to launch a campaign encouraging U.S. troops to refuse to fight.

U.S. Army medic Augustin Aguayo filed for conscientious objector status and refused a second tour of duty in Iraq.
U.S. Army medic Augustin Aguayo filed for conscientious objector status and refused a second tour of duty in Iraq. ©
The decision was made at the group's annual membership meeting, held this weekend in Saint Louis, Missouri alongside the annual convention of the Veterans for Peace organization.

"Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) decided to make support of war resisters a major part of what we do," said Garrett Rappenhagen, a former U.S. Army sniper who served in Iraq from February 2004 to February 2005.

"There's a misconception that they're cowards," Rappenhagen said. "Most war resisters have already gone on a tour in Iraq. They've seen the war firsthand and have come to the conclusion that it's morally wrong. This is something we all should support. So to break that timidness of how we view war resisters in America, IVAW decided to embrace them."

To underscore that point, the veterans group elected Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia chair of its board of directors. In the winter of 2003, Mejia was the first soldier to refuse to return to fight in Iraq after an initial tour in the war zone.

Read entire article

The War as We Saw It

Op-Ed Contributors


VIEWED from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the “battle space” remains the same, with changes only at the margins. It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers’ expense.

Read entire article

Thursday, July 26, 2007

House Passes Lee Bill to Ban Permanent Bases in Iraq

(Washington, DC) – Today, by a vote of 399-24, the House passed legislation introduced by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) to prevent permanent military bases in Iraq and bar U.S. control over Iraqi oil resources.

Lee’s bill, H.R. 2929, declares that it is the policy of the United States not to establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq and not to exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq and prohibits the use of funds for these purposes.

The following is Congresswoman Lee’s statement from the House floor:

“What this legislation does is simple. It does what the Iraq Study Group and other experts have recommended that we do. It makes a clear statement of policy that the U.S. does not intend to maintain an open ended military presence in Iraq and that we won’t exercise control over Iraqi oil, and it backs that policy up with the power of the purse.

“Putting Congress on record with this clear statement helps take the targets off our troops’ backs and it support our goals of handing over responsibility for security and public safety to Iraqi forces.

Read more

Benchmark Boogie: A Guide to the Struggle Over Iraq's Oil

By Antonia Juhasz, AlterNet. Posted July 14, 2007.

Your guide to the ongoing dance between Bush, the Congress, and the Iraqi government; an update on the current status of the proposed oil laws; and some steps you can take to stop the hijacking of Iraq's oil.

What does a war for oil look like? American troops going into battle with tanks waving "Exxon Mobil" and "Chevron" flags right behind? Are the flags then planted squarely in the ground and the oil beneath officially declared war bounty? Well, some members of the Bush administration and U.S. oil companies may have favored such an approach. But the device ultimately chosen to win this war for oil is only slightly more subtle: a law, to be passed by the Iraqis themselves, which would turn Iraq's oil over to foreign oil companies.

The president's benchmark

The U.S. State Department Iraq Study Group began laying the foundations for the new law prior to the invasion of Iraq. Its recommendations, released only after the invasion, were quickly enshrined in a draft oil law introduced to the interim Iraqi government by the U.S.-appointed interim prime minister of Iraq, Ayad Allawi (a former CIA operative).

The Bush administration has spent four years trying to force successive Iraqi governments to pass the law, referred to as either the "hydrocarbons" or "oil" law. While it has gone through several permutations, the basics have remained the same and have followed the original prescriptions set out by the State Department.

The law would change Iraq's oil system from a nationalized model -- all but closed to U.S. oil companies -- to a privatized model open to foreign corporate control. At least two-thirds of Iraq's oil would be open to foreign oil companies under terms that they usually only dream about, including 30-year-long contracts. (For details of the law, see my March 2007 New York Times Op-Ed, "Whose Oil Is It, Anyway?")

Read complete article

Shahristani: Iraq oil unions not legit

WASHINGTON, July 25 (UPI) -- Iraq's oil minister said Iraq's oil unions are not legitimate and have no more standing in the debate over the oil law than an ordinary citizen.

"There are no legal unions in Iraq," Hussein al-Shahristani said Wednesday in response to a question about various factions' positions on the controversial oil law. "Those people who call themselves representatives of the oil workers have not been elected to the position."

Shahristani spoke to UPI by phone from Baghdad.

The lone remaining law from the Saddam Hussein regime kept by U.S. occupying powers and the successive Iraqi government is the one that bans worker organizing in the public sector.

Despite that, workers have come together and leveraged their power. Since 2003 they've blocked numerous attempts to privatize management of both oil and other facilities and stopped work over disputes -- most recently early last month over the oil law and other unmet demands.

Earlier this month workers in the southern, oil-rich town of Basra marched in protest against the oil law and demanded Shahristani's resignation.

The law would govern exploration and development of Iraq's 115 billion barrels of proven reserves and unknown reserves to be found in under-explored areas. But the law is stuck over central government vs. regional/local control over certain oil fields. And the unions, along with other political elements, have led the charge that the law allows for contracts they see as too friendly to foreign oil companies.
Ben Lando, UPI Energy Correspondent

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Insurgents form political front to plan for US pullout

Leaders of Iraqi groups say attacks will go on until Americans leave
The Guardian | Seumas Milne in Damascus | Thursday July 19, 2007

Insurgents from the 1920 Revolution Brigades training at Beiji, north of Baghdad.
Insurgents from the 1920 Revolution Brigades training at Beiji, north of Baghdad.

Seven of the most important Sunni-led insurgent organisations fighting the US occupation in Iraq have agreed to form a public political alliance with the aim of preparing for negotiations in advance of an American withdrawal, their leaders have told the Guardian.

In their first interview with the western media since the US-British invasion of 2003, leaders of three of the insurgent groups - responsible for thousands of attacks against US and Iraqi armed forces and police - said they would continue their armed resistance until all foreign troops were withdrawn from Iraq, and denounced al-Qaida for sectarian killings and suicide bombings against civilians.

Read more

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Benchmark Boogie: A Guide to the Struggle Over Iraq's Oil

AlterNet | By Antonia Juhasz, | Posted July 14, 2007.

Your guide to the ongoing dance between Bush, the Congress, and the Iraqi government; an update on the current status of the proposed oil laws; and some steps you can take to stop the hijacking of Iraq's oil.

What does a war for oil look like? American troops going into battle with tanks waving "Exxon Mobil" and "Chevron" flags right behind? Are the flags then planted squarely in the ground and the oil beneath officially declared war bounty? Well, some members of the Bush administration and U.S. oil companies may have favored such an approach. But the device ultimately chosen to win this war for oil is only slightly more subtle: a law, to be passed by the Iraqis themselves, which would turn Iraq's oil over to foreign oil companies.

The president's benchmark

The U.S. State Department Iraq Study Group began laying the foundations for the new law prior to the invasion of Iraq. Its recommendations, released only after the invasion, were quickly enshrined in a draft oil law introduced to the interim Iraqi government by the U.S.-appointed interim prime minister of Iraq, Ayad Allawi (a former CIA operative).

Read more

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Saving Iraq

The Nation| article | posted June 27, 2007 (web only)
Robert Dreyfuss

Last week, a fierce critic of the Bush Administration's war in Iraq went, perhaps, a bridge too far. Pauline Baker, president of the Fund for Peace, flatly predicted that there is no hope for Iraq, other than its collapse and fragmentation. Upon issuing a report that described Iraq as the second most unstable "failed state" after Sudan, Baker told the Washington Post, "We have recommended...that the administration face up to the reality that the only choices for Iraq are how and how violently it will break up."

And she's not the only one. Many opponents of Bush's adventure in Iraq, from left to center-right, have thrown up their hands. Most notorious, Senator Joe Biden, Leslie Gelb of the Council on Foreign Relations and former Ambassador Peter Galbraith have written off Iraq, either predicting or encouraging its breakup into mini-states. Countless others have concluded that ethnic and sectarian divisions in Iraq have hardened into permanent hatreds. And there are those who--sadly or gleefully, depending on their point of view--declare definitively that Iraq was never really a nation. Instead, they say, it is an artificial creation that never existed except in the minds of British imperialists like Winston Churchill and Gertrude Bell.

Such sentiments are being challenged by a nascent bloc of Iraqi nationalists who, against all odds, are working to put together a pan-Iraqi coalition that would topple the US-backed government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Maliki's ruling alliance includes separatist Kurdish warlords and Iranian-backed Shiite fundamentalists, both of whom want to carve out semi or wholly independent statelets. Although it has not yet jelled, Maliki's opposition--which includes Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, as well as Christians, Turkmen and others--is within striking distance of creating a functioning parliamentary majority. Read more

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Culture of Atrocity Posted on Jun 18, 2007 By Chris Hedges
child in coffin
AP Photo / Karim Kadim

Mohammed Saleem, 18 months old, and four family members were killed when U.S. forces opened fire on their vehicle in Baghdad’s Sadr City neighborhood in June 2004 during fighting between Americans and followers of a radical cleric.

All troops, when they occupy and battle insurgent forces, as in Iraq, or Gaza or Vietnam, are swiftly placed in what the psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton terms “atrocity-producing situations.” In this environment, surrounded by a hostile population, simple acts such as going to a store to buy a can of Coke or driving down a street means you can be killed. This constant fear and stress leads troops to view everyone around them as the enemy. The hostility is compounded when the enemy, as in Iraq, is elusive, shadowy and hard to find. The rage that soldiers feel after a roadside bomb explodes, killing or maiming their comrades, is one that is easily directed over time to innocent civilians who are seen as supporting the insurgents. It is a short psychological leap, but a massive moral one. It is a leap from killing—the shooting of someone who has the capacity to do you harm—to murder—the deadly assault against someone who cannot harm you. The war in Iraq is now primarily about murder. There is very little killing. American Marines and soldiers have become, after four years of war, acclimated to atrocity.

Read more

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Break Time Is Over: Building Nonviolent Resistance to the 2008 Iraq War Supplemental

By Jeff Leys Voices for Creative Nonviolence June 18, 2007

On August 6, Congress begins its month long recess. August 6 also marks the start of Year 62 After Hiroshima-when the U.S. initiated its nuclear first strike policy against the people of Hiroshima. And it marks Year 17 After Iraq Sanctions, when the brutal economic sanctions regime against Iraq was first imposed by the international community.

On August 6, the Occupation Project will launch a reinvigorated campaign of sustained nonviolent civil disobedience / civil resistance to end Iraq war funding. Office occupations-both legal and extralegal-will commence at the offices of Representatives and Senators who refuse to publicly pledge to vote against any additional funding of the Iraq war. Occupations will continue at least through the end of September. The Occupation Project will work in conjunction with campaigns organized by Declaration of Peace, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, CODEPINK, Veterans for Peace, Grassroots America for Us and others.

Read more

Monday, June 18, 2007

Iraqi Unionists in Washington, D.C., to Protest U.S. Oil Drain from Iraq

by James Parks, Jun 6, 2007 afl-cio now blog news

Photo Credit: General Federation of Iraqi Workers
Hashmeya Muhsin Hussein, president of Iraq’s Electrical Utility Workers Union (in light scarf) leads a May Day march in Basra.

The U.S.-backed government has proposed a new law in Iraq that would permit what the oil industry calls “production-sharing agreements” that could put 70 percent of the profits from oil sales in the hands of rich oil companies and leave the Iraqi people with little to run their country.

The plan, which was supported by the U.S. State Department as early as 2003, also has the backing of the International Monetary Fund and some powerful Iraqi political leaders. In fact, the rapid opening up of Iraqi oil for “private investment” is one of the benchmarks in the Iraq funding bill, which Congress passed and President Bush signed recently.

Hashmeya Muhsin Hussein, president of the Electrical Utility Workers Union, General Federation of Iraqi Workers, made it clear workers are fighting the law:

The oil law is a bad for the Iraqi people. It is not fair or equitable. It’s just another name for privatization. Read more

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Pentagon v. Peak Oil: How Wars of the Future May Be Fought Just to Run the Machines T.hat Fight Them

By Michael T. Klare. June 14, 2007.

Sixteen gallons of oil. That's how much the average American soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan consumes on a daily basis -- either directly, through the use of Humvees, tanks, trucks, and helicopters, or indirectly, by calling in air strikes. Multiply this figure by 162,000 soldiers in Iraq, 24,000 in Afghanistan, and 30,000 in the surrounding region (including sailors aboard U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf) and you arrive at approximately 3.5 million gallons of oil: the daily petroleum tab for U.S. combat operations in the Middle East war zone.

Multiply that daily tab by 365 and you get 1.3 billion gallons: the estimated annual oil expenditure for U.S. combat operations in Southwest Asia. That's greater than the total annual oil usage of Bangladesh, population 150 million -- and yet it's a gross underestimate of the Pentagon's wartime consumption. Read more

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Iraqi Lawmakers Pass Resolution That May Force End to Occupation

By Raed Jarrar and Joshua Holland, AlterNet. Posted June 5, 2007.

While Washington lawmakers play procedural games with an out-of-control executive branch, Iraqi legislators are working to bring an end to the occupation of their country.

While most observers are focused on the U.S. Congress as it continues to issue new rubber stamps to legitimize Bush's permanent designs on Iraq, nationalists in the Iraqi parliament -- now representing a majority of the body -- continue to make progress toward bringing an end to their country's occupation.

The parliament today passed a binding resolution that will guarantee lawmakers an opportunity to block the extension of the U.N. mandate under which coalition troops now remain in Iraq when it comes up for renewal in December. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose cabinet is dominated by Iraqi separatists, may veto the measure.

Read article

Sunday, May 27, 2007

What Congress Really Approved: Benchmark No. 1: Privatizing Iraq's Oil for US Companies

By Ann Wright
t r u t h o u t | Guest Contributor

Saturday 26 May 2007

On Thursday, May 24, the US Congress voted to continue the war in Iraq. The members called it "supporting the troops." I call it stealing Iraq's oil - the second largest reserves in the world. The "benchmark," or goal, the Bush administration has been working on furiously since the US invaded Iraq is privatization of Iraq's oil. Now they have Congress blackmailing the Iraqi Parliament and the Iraqi people: no privatization of Iraqi oil, no reconstruction funds.

This threat could not be clearer. If the Iraqi Parliament refuses to pass the privatization legislation, Congress will withhold US reconstruction funds that were promised to the Iraqis to rebuild what the United States has destroyed there. The privatization law, written by American oil company consultants hired by the Bush administration, would leave control with the Iraq National Oil Company for only 17 of the 80 known oil fields. The remainder (two-thirds) of known oil fields, and all yet undiscovered ones, would be up for grabs by the private oil companies of the world (but guess how many would go to United States firms - given to them by the compliant Iraqi government.) Read complete article

Friday, May 25, 2007

Grassroots Peace Movement Decries Vote to Continue the Iraq War and Occupation

United for Peace and Justice, the nation's largest antiwar coalition, flooded Capitol Hill with phone calls calling on Congress to vote no on another $96 billion for the war in Iraq. "We know the switchboards have been jammed and Congress is hearing the message from voters loud and clear: Stop funding this war and bring the troops home. The problem is, most members of Congress are not listening to the people who elected them," said UFPJ National Coordinator Leslie Cagan.

UFPJ Legislative Coordinator Sue Udry commented on the feedback she has heard from those phone calls, "People have been dismayed to realize that Democrats and Republicans who have opposed the escalation of the number of troops in Iraq will still fund that escalation. Those who have decried the president's mismanagement of the war, are now willing to fund that mismanagement, with absolutely no accountability."

"The antiwar movement will not be silenced by this setback -- we will continue to organize and make our voices heard.

This Congress has the power to end the war and they must find the political will to accomplish what they were elected to do," said Judith Le Blanc, Co-Chair of UFPJ. The Congress now has set the framework for the next stage of struggle to end the war. UFPJ has called for its member groups to organize grassroots actions at congressional district offices, and even at the homes of those in Congress who have not stood firm in this round of Congressional wrangling. The antiwar movement will focus on local activities over the Memorial Day weekend, including peace contingents in parades, Iraq war veterans doing war reenactments in Manhattan, peace vigils and picnics.

UFPJ will hold a national assembly of its member groups in Chicago, June 22-24, to plan continued action and organizing against the war and occupation in Iraq.

Curfew Begins to Choke Samarra

Inter Press Service

Ali al-Fadhily*

SAMARRA, May 22 (IPS) - At least 10 residents have died as the result of a curfew imposed by the U.S.-backed Iraqi government, local doctors say.

Residents in this city of 300,000 located 125km north of Baghdad have been struggling to find food, water and medical supplies. Vehicles have been banned from entering or leaving the city since May 6.

The Iraqi government and the U.S. military imposed a strict curfew on the city that day after a suicide car bomb killed a dozen police officers, including police chief Abd al-Jalil al-Dulaimi. Samarra has been a hotspot of resistance to the U.S. occupation of Iraq since close to the beginning of the occupation in March 2003.

After the attack, U.S. and Iraqi forces encircled the city and sealed off all entrances with concrete blocks and sand bags.

Local people told IPS that the main bridge in the city has been closed, ambulances have not been allowed to reach people, and residents are facing an increasingly dire situation.

"We are being butchered here by these Americans," Majid Hamid, a schoolteacher in Samarra told IPS. "People are dying because we lack all of the necessities, and our government seems to be so happy about it." Read complete article posted on Dahr Jamail's website

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Iraq's Hydrocarbon Law – in whose interests?

By Ewa Jasiewicz, PLATFORM 23 April 2007 at

niqash is produced by an Arab-German-Kurdish team in Berlin and Amman. It is published in English, Arabic, and Kurdish. The project is funded by the German Foreign Ministry and supported by the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation.

A Hydrocarbon Law which advocates a radical restructuring of Iraq's oil industry was approved by the Iraqi cabinet in February. If passed by parliament, the law will mark a milestone in Iraqi history – a shift of Iraq's massive reserves from public to private hands. It could see private companies develop and profit from Iraq's oil for 15-30 year periods with virtually no possibility for the Iraqi state to renegotiate contractual terms and conditions.

The first draft of the oil law was produced to a timeline set by the International Monetary Fund. The IMF ordered, as a condition of debt relief, the issuance of an oil law by December 2006. This law had to open up Iraq oil (for the first time in over 30 years) to long-term investment by foreign oil companies. Finally produced in July 2006, the first to review it and comment on it were 9 multinational oil companies, the British government and US government. It would be eight months before the vast majority of the Iraqi parliament would even see it. Read complete article

Monday, April 30, 2007

Iraq: A Blueprint for Peace

by Karen Button

Beirut - “The US talks about withdrawal after bringing Iraqi security forces up to speed, yet has paid militias, allowed mercenaries, and, with few exceptions, ignored the blatant abuses and torture committed by Iraqi forces. They have ignored rampant corruption within all ministries, the most egregious resulting in a medical crisis and a judicial joke. They have also committed their own atrocities, ensuring that the new Iraq is riddled with violence, fear, and contempt for the occupying forces.”

Thus starts a new peace plan entitled Planning Iraq’s Future: A detailed project to rebuild post-liberation Iraq. The 250-page book was written over the past two years by 108 Iraqis that consciously included Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, Assyrian Christians, Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, and other minorities. Two-thirds of the Iraqis still reside inside the country, the other third, outside. Read complete article

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Protester attempts necessity defense

By Margaret Friedenauer Staff Writer, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

A judge Wednesday continued a case against a local man charged with trespassing in an act of civil disobedience protesting the Iraq war.

Rob Mulford will get a chance to argue in front of District Court Judge Raymond Funk that he should be able to present a “defense of necessity” in his arrest when he refused to leave Sen. Ted Stevens’ Fairbanks office Feb. 20. Mulford and others arrived at Stevens’ office during open hours to read names of U.S. troops and Iraqis that have died in Iraq. Most of the protesters left when asked by office staff at closing time. But Mulford continued reading names, refused to leave and was arrested for trespassing.

Mulford, as part of the group Veterans for Peace, was taking part in the Occupation Project at the time of his arrest. The project, active in 25 states, is a campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience aimed at ending the war. Read article

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The last thing the Middle East's main players want is US troops to leave Iraq

By Hussein Agha. The Guardian, Wednesday April 25

Across the region, ordinary people want the Americans out. But from Israel to al-Qaida, political groups and states have other ideas

Overt political debate in the Middle East is hostile to the American occupation of Iraq and dominated by calls for it to end sooner rather than later. No less a figure than King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, arguably the United States' closest Arab ally, has declared the occupation of Iraq "illegal" and "illegitimate". Real intentions, however, are different. States and local political groups might not admit it - because of public opinion - but they do not want to see the back of the Americans.,,2064685,00.html

Monday, April 16, 2007

Are We Politicians or Citizens

By Howard Zinn April 16, 2007

Howard Zinn is the author, most recently, of A Power Governments Cannot Suppress. This article was originally published in The Progressive.

As I write this, Congress is debating timetables for withdrawal from Iraq. In response to the Bush Administration’s “surge” of troops, and the Republicans’ refusal to limit our occupation, the Democrats are behaving with their customary timidity, proposing withdrawal, but only after a year, or eighteen months. And it seems they expect the anti-war movement to support them.

That was suggested in a recent message from MoveOn, which polled its members on the Democrat proposal, saying that progressives in Congress, “like many of us, don’t think the bill goes far enough, but see it as the first concrete step to ending the war.”

Ironically, and shockingly, the same bill appropriates $124 billion in more funds to carry the war. It’s as if, before the Civil War, abolitionists agreed to postpone the emancipation of the slaves for a year, or two years, or five years, and coupled this with an appropriation of funds to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act. Read article

Sunday, April 8, 2007

You Can't Hurt a Troop By Defunding a War

By David Swanson., April 8, 2007

When Senator Russ Feingold and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid propose cutting off the funding for the war, they are proposing the only thing that can possibly benefit U.S. troops. In fact, there is no way to make any sense of the idea that they could possibly be hurting U.S. troops. The funding is not for the troops.

When President George Bush claims that the money is for the troops, he is quite simply lying. The funding is not for the troops.

When Senator Barack Obama or Senator Carl Levin claims to want to pressure Bush to end the war, while at the same time promising to fund the war forever in the name of funding the troops, we are being told something that cannot possibly make any sense. The funding is not for the troops. It is for the war. You can't end the war while providing it. You can't hurt a troop by denying it. Read article

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Give Us Some Real Political Leaders

By Ali al-Fadhily. Inter Press Service

BAGHDAD, Mar 15 (IPS) - Many Iraqis are now looking to local political leadership to fill wide gaps in a fractured government that is failing to provide security and basic needs.

"Iraqis feel lost amongst too many political currents that blew their country away with their narrow sectarian and personal interests," Mohammad Jaafar, a Baghdad-based politician formerly involved in the interim government told IPS.

"I am ashamed to say that I am or even was an Iraqi politician after all the damage to our country that we caused. It is entirely our fault and there is no question about that." Read article

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Whose Oil Is It, Anyway?

By Antonia Juhasz. New York Times

TODAY more than three-quarters of the world’s oil is owned and controlled by governments. It wasn’t always this way.

Until about 35 years ago, the world’s oil was largely in the hands of seven corporations based in the United States and Europe. Those seven have since merged into four: ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and BP. They are among the world’s largest and most powerful financial empires. But ever since they lost their exclusive control of the oil to the governments, the companies have been trying to get it back Read article [You will need to log in at NYTimes]

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Outsourcing Walter Reed.

By Philip Mattera.

Reports of substandard conditions at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center have outraged the country. But that anger should not be directed only at the callous Army officials running the facility.

The full story behind the scandal involves a misguided program to “reinvent government” through outsourcing, a company that botched the delivery of ice to victims of Hurricane Katrina and a giant hedge fund led by a former member of President Bush’s cabinet. The private sector has indirectly had a hand in converting the once legendary Walter Reed into a symbol of the shameful treatment of people who have been maimed in the service of their country.

The dismal state of some facilities at Walter Reed cannot be directly attributed to poor performance by a contractor. After all, it has been only a few months since a politically connected firm called IAP Worldwide Services started taking over many of the management functions at the medical center. Read article

Monday, March 5, 2007

Targeting Tehran

By Michael Klare. The Nation.
At this critical moment when most Americans seek to extricate US forces from the fighting in Iraq as swiftly as possible, George W. Bush appears determined to construct a new rationale for intervention whose logical conclusion is not withdrawal but a wider war, possibly involving attacks on Iran later this year. Like an inveterate gambler who has lost every previous round and now faces insolvency, Bush seems poised to wager everything on one last throw of the dice. Before more lives are put at risk in this reckless bid, the flimsy props of Bush's new rationale must be exposed to rigorous scrutiny and strict limits placed on his warmaking capacity.
Read article