America criticized for breaking the Iraqi security agreement

Hadi Amiri, the head of Iraqi’s parliament security committee criticized American officials for breaking the security agreement made between Baghdad and Washington.

In an interview with the Iraqi newspaper al-Mashriq he stated in regards to the freeing of thousands of prisoners accused of committing terrorist activities that it is counted as breaking the security agreement of the two countries.

He clearly stated that in accordance to the agreement American soldiers are obliged to hand the prisoners over to the Iraqi government so that their accusations could be substantiated. But, freeing them without consent enflames the fighting in various corners of Iraq.

Islam Times

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National Reform in Iraq warns about the return of Ba’thist agents

The Iraqi political party National Reform led by Ibrahim al-Jaafari expressed fear about the return of the Ba’thist party in the Iraqi political arena.

The National Reform party, led by the former prime minister, in a statement announced that the return of the Ba’thist party to the Iraqi political arena is something that must be rejected – whether it is in the form of a group or an ideological current. National unity must not mean the return of this party to the political scene.

This Iraqi political party, in this statement, said that it is necessary for all Iraqis to participate in the political process, except those who committed crimes against theIraqi people.

In the present week, whispers of communication between the Iraqi government and some branches of the Ba’thist party traveled through Baghdad. This was rejected by official sources.

It was mentioned in an Arabic newspaper not long ago that the Ba’thist party has connections with some western states with the purpose of regaining power.

According to that report, Saudi Arabia and some other Arab countries, pressured by America, demand the return of the Ba’thist party to the Iraqi political scene.

The Iraqi government emphasized time and time again that, according to the constitution, the Ba’thist party cannot return to the political arena of this country.

Islam Times

Protest in Iraq marking anniversary of occupation

On the sixth anniversary of America’s attack on Iraq, the people of Basra held a protest demanding the immediate retreat to British and American forces from Iraq.

Thousands of citizens of Basra, in southern Iraq, protested after the Friday prayers. They chanted anti-occupation slogans and demanded the freedom of prisoners and the immediate retreat of English and American forces.

Various segments of society and various political parties participated in this protest.

Islam Times

Women are the victims of America’s attack on Iraq

Women left without families comprise a huge part of the victims of America’s attack on Iraq.

The number of women left without husbands in Iraq has reached hundreds of thousands. They are now trying to raise their children. In the present conditions many of them are faced with severe poverty.

There are more than 100,000 women who have been left without a husband in Iraq. Only 20,000 of them are receiving governmental aid.

The number of these women is increasing and many of them have turned to prostitution.

America attacked Iraq in 2003 under the banner of bringing democracy to Iraq.

Islam Times

I am innocent

Muntazar al-Zaydi

Muntazar al-Zaydi

Muntazar al-Zaydi, an Iraqi jouralist who created the ‘shoe intifada’ by throwing his shoes at George Bush, the former president of the United States of America, said in his second appearance in court that he is innocent.

Muntazar al-Zaydi appeared for the second time in front of Abd al-Amir Ihsan, an Iraqi criminal judge in the region al-Karkh of Baghdad, Iraq’s capital. He is being charged with throwing his shoes at Bush.

The judge said that after al-Zaydi is convicted he will be sentenced to three years in prison for bothering the president of a foreign country on an official visit.

This Iraqi journalist emphasized in his court appearance that he is innocent. Al-Zaydi added: “My reaction was natural and any Iraqi who was in my place would have done the same thing.”

Yahya al-‘Atabi, al-Zaydi’s lawyer, stated: “We are predicting this because he is being charged with bothering a president of a foreign country on an official visit. He is facing up to 15 years in prison.”

Today, when al-Zaydi was entering the courtroom he was informed that two of his coworkers in the television station Al-Baghdadiyah were killed in an explosion in the region of Abu Ghrayb. When he heard this he started crying.

No journalist was able to attend the court hearing; the only people who were able to enter the courtroom were the team of lawyers. When Al-Zaydi’s family members were refused entrance they screamed that this is an American court.

Al-Zaydi was born on the 15th of January, 1979 and was brought into the courtroom wearing brown prison clothing and being escorted by many security agents.

The judge opened the court hearing by reading the answer given by Iraq’s prime minister to a question raised by the court. The answer stated: “George Bush’s visit was an official visit when the shoes were thrown.”

Al-Zaydi’s team of lawyers consists of 25 people who want the charges to be dropped because, as they claim, all Al-Zaydi was doing was showing his contempt for Bush’s policies in Iraq.

Islam Times

Explosion Kills 40 on Route to Karbala

A woman suicide bomber dressed in a black abaya blew herself up in a crowd of women and children Shiite pilgrims south of the Iraqi capital on Friday, killing at least 35 worshippers, officials said. Interior Ministry spokesman Abdel-Karim Khalaf said 35 people were killed and 68 wounded, almost all women and children, in the attack in Iskandiriyah as pilgrims flocked on foot to the holy city of Kerbala for a major religious ceremony.

It was the deadliest attack in Iraq for almost six weeks, since a suicide bomber, initially said to be a woman but later identified as a man, killed 35 people near a Shiite shrine in the Kadhimiyah district of Baghdad on January 4.

Captain Mohammad al-Awadi of the police force for Babil Province, of which Hilla is the capital, said the bomber had hidden her explosives under an abaya, a traditional Muslim head-to-toe black garment for women.

She blew herself up among a crowd of women and children just after midday (0900 GMT), he said, in what was the third straight day of deadly attacks on Shiites heading to Kerbala.

The pilgrims had been eating near a tent in the town of Iskandiriyah set up for refreshments along the 110-kilometer trek south to Kerbala from Baghdad when the bomber struck, the Interior Ministry said.

A doctor at nearby Hilla General Hospital, where dozens of ambulances ferried the casualties, said most of the survivors had head and chest wounds. All 17 dead taken to that hospital were women and children.

The use of female suicide bombers in abayas has become a feared terror tactic in Iraq.

Earlier this month, police announced they had arrested a woman who had confessed to recruiting over 80 such suicide bombers and who helped orchestrate dozens of attacks.

Iskandiriyah lies within what used to be known as “the triangle of death” where Sunni fighters from Al-Qaeda, concealed in date-tree groves, would launch deadly attacks on Shiites who ventured into the mainly farming area.

Last February, a suicide bomber in Iskandiriyah, which lies 40 kilometers south of the capital, killed 43 Shiite pilgrims and wounded over 60 others.

Millions of pilgrims are traveling to Kerbala for Arbaeen, a ritual to mark 40 days after the Ashura anniversary of the killing of Imam Hussein by Sunni caliph Yazid’s armies in AD 680.

Kerbala provincial Governor Akeel al-Khazali told a news conference Friday that 5 million have already arrived in the city, including 110,000 from abroad.

Friday’s attack came a day after eight pilgrims were killed and more than 50 wounded in a bombing near Kerbala’s revered Imam Hussein shrine. An Interior Ministry source said the bomb in a gas pipe was detonated by remote control.

A blast near the same shrine 11 months ago left 43 dead.

On Wednesday, deadly bombings again targeting Shiites near a Baghdad bus station killed 16 people as violence across Iraq claimed at least 27 lives and shattered a relative lull since largely peaceful provincial elections on January 31.

Iraq has experienced a steadily improving security situation in the past year, but the latest attacks have underscored the country’s fragile security.

Shiite pilgrims heading to Kerbala have been targeted and killed by Sunni rebel groups in past years, adding to sectarian bloodshed that has seen hundreds of thousands killed since the US-led invasion of 2003.

On Friday, an Iraqi Army general and his son were found shot dead at their apartment in a mainly Sunni Muslim district of Baghdad on Friday, Interior and Defense ministry officials said.

Source: AFP with Daily Star

Update: The number of dead has risen to 40, with a further 80 wounded. (source: AP)

Aim Islam

Suicide has defeated American Soldiers


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Suicide amongst American soldiers reached its height in 2008.

According to the latest reports by American commanders, 143 American soldiers committed suicide in 2008. The reasons for suicide were severe stress and psychological disorders caused by their extended presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Before this, the highest number of suicides amongst American soldiers was 115 in 2007.

American military figures, answered the criticisms of the families of these American soldiers in respects to them being sent to Iraq and Afghanistan by saying that suicide has more than one cause.

At the same time as this report, the English defense forces reported that one fourth of their casualties in Iraq resulted from suicide.

According to this report, from amongst the 178 English soldiers which have been killed in Iraq, 42 of them committed suicide.

Islam Times

Glasnost In London – War Fever In Washington

Lord West

Lord West

What used to be called “Cool London” looks more like “Crash London” these days. Of all the leading industrial nations, Britain has so far suffered more than any other nation, even the United States.

Most major banks, even venerable names like Barclay’s and Lloyd’s, are on life support. The financial district around Canary Wharf is beginning to look like a ghost town, as offices close and whole floors of financial drones are fired. Gloom pervades just about everywhere.

Meanwhile, two senior British officials have created a sensation by finally speaking some hard truths that contradict all the lies spewed out by Washington and London about the bogus “war on terror.”

Lord West, the security minister of Britain’s Labor government (equivalent to the US Homeland Security chief), dropped a bombshell last week by declaring that his nation’s military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan had actually fueled global radicalism against Britain and the US as well as domestic “terrorism” in the United Kingdom.

According to the outspoken minister, the Western power’s recent policies in the Muslim world were encouraging what we term terrorism. Interestingly, I happened to be in London at the time, promoting my new book, American Raj, which argues precisely the same point.

West described as “bollocks” former PM Tony Blair’s claims the US-led “war on terror” had nothing to do with growing Islamic radicalism. This comes soon after Britain’s foreign secretary, David Miliband, urged an end to the use of the term “war on terror,” which he called deceptive and misleading.

In an extraordinary move, cabinet minutes of Tony Blair’s decision to invade Iraq may shortly be made public, raising the possibility of serious criminal charges against some senior British officials. At minimum, the sanctimonious Blair is likely to be exposed as a liar and hypocrite in his claims the Iraq war was justified and necessary.

Many Britons are calling for war crimes trials against their former leaders and are angered by plans to send more British troops to Afghanistan. Britain’s soldiers have become as much auxiliaries in the American military machine as were Nepal’s renowned Gurkha troops in the British Empire.

While glasnost sweeps London, in Washington, it’s déjà vu and love your government. President Barack Obama vowed to continue President Bush’s war policies in Afghanistan and intensify the eight-year-old conflict by doubling the number of US troops and aircraft there in coming months.

In addition, Washington is rife with rumors that the Obama administration plans to dump the US-installed president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, and replace him by one of four CIA-groomed candidates. The problem is, three new stooges won’t be any better than one old stooge.

London is warning Washington both against a precipitous change of regime in Kabul that would be widely viewed as crass political manipulation and against a plan to arm tribes in neighboring Pakistan that the US used in by now totally fragmented Iraq.

Obama’s dismaying eagerness to expand the war demonstrates political inexperience and a faulty grasp of events in Afghanistan. A change of administration in Washington, and departure of the reviled Bush, offered an ideal opportunity for Washington to declare a pause in the Afghan War and reassess its policies. It also presented an ideal opportunity to offer negotiations to Taliban and its growing number of supporters.

The Afghan War will have to be ended by a political settlement that includes the Taliban-led nationalist alliance that represents over half of Afghanistan’s population, the Pashtun people. There is simply no purely military solution to this grinding conflict – as even the Secretary General of NATO admits.

But instead of diplomacy, the new administration elected to stick its head ever deeper into the Afghan hornet’s nest. The bill for an intensified war will likely reach $4 billion monthly by midyear at a time when the United States is bankrupt and running on borrowed money from China and Japan.

The 20,000–30,000 more US troops slated to go to Afghanistan will also be standing on a smoking volcano: Pakistan. The Afghan War is relentlessly seeping into Pakistan, enflaming its people against the NATO powers and, as Lord West rightly says, generating new jihadist forces.

Polls show most Pakistanis strongly oppose the US-led war in Afghanistan and the grudging involvement of their armed forces in it. Intensifying US air attacks on Pakistan have aroused fierce anti-American sentiment across this nation of 165 million.

Why is President Obama, who came to power on an antiwar platform, committed to expanding a war where there are no vital US interests?

Oil is certainly one reason. The proposed route for pipelines taking oil and gas from Central Asia to the Arabian Sea coast run right through Taliban-Pashtun territory.

Another reason: Americans still want revenge for 9/11. In the absence of a clear perpetrator, Taliban has been selected as the most convenient and identifiable target though it had nothing to do with the attacks and knew nothing about them. The 9/11 attacks were mounted from Germany and Spain, not Afghanistan, and planned by a group of Pakistanis. Washington is yet to offer a White Paper promised in 2001 “proving” the guilt of Osama bin Laden in the attacks.

There is also the less obvious question of NATO. Washington arm-twisted the reluctant NATO alliance badly for the US-led forces as their vulnerable supply lines come increasingly under Taliban attack. Here in Europe, the majority of public opinion opposes the Afghanistan War as a neocolonial adventure for oil and imperial influence.

The US could survive a defeat in Afghanistan, as it did in Vietnam. But the NATO alliance might not.

The end of the cold war and collapse of the USSR removed the raison d’être of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization which was created to resist Soviet invasion of Western Europe.

According to Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of America’s leading strategists, NATO serves as the primary tool for America’s strategic domination of Europe. Japan fulfills the same role for the US in Asia. The Soviet Union used the Warsaw Pact to dominate Eastern Europe.

The US also uses NATO to help deter the creation of a truly united – and rival – Europe with its own unified armed forces. The EU will not become a truly integrated national state until it has its own independent armed forces.

NATO’s defeat in Afghanistan would raise questions about its continuing purpose and obedience to US strategic demands. Calls would inevitably come for empowerment of the European Defense Union, an independent European armed force that answers to the EU Brussels, not to Washington.

This, I believe, is one of the primary reasons why vested interests in Washington – notably the Pentagon – have prevailed on the new president to expand the war in Afghanistan by claiming that America’s influence in Europe depends on victory in Afghanistan.

The US and its allies cannot be seen to be defeated by a bunch of Afghan tribesmen. Coming after the epic defeat in Vietnam and the trillion-dollar fiasco in Iraq, defeat in Afghanistan is simply unthinkable to the military-industrial-petroleum-financial complex that still seems to be calling many of the shots in Washington.

Lew Rockwell

Iraq’s Shocking Human Toll

We are now able to estimate the number of Iraqis who have died in the war instigated by the Bush administration. Looking at the empirical evidence of Bush’s war legacy will put his claims of victory in perspective. Of course, even by his standards — “stability” — the jury is out. Most independent analysts would say it’s too soon to judge the political outcome. Nearly six years after the invasion, the country remains riven by sectarian politics and major unresolved issues, like the status of Kirkuk.

We have a better grasp of the human costs of the war. For example, the United Nations estimates that there are about 4.5 million displaced Iraqis — more than half of them refugees — or about one in every six citizens. Only 5 percent have chosen to return to their homes over the past year, a period of reduced violence from the high levels of 2005-07. The availability of healthcare, clean water, functioning schools, jobs and so forth remains elusive. According to Unicef, many provinces report that less than 40 percent of households have access to clean water. More than 40 percent of children in Basra, and more than 70 percent in Baghdad, cannot attend school.

The mortality caused by the war is also high. Several household surveys were conducted between 2004 and 2007. While there are differences among them, the range suggests a congruence of estimates. But none have been conducted for eighteen months, and the two most reliable surveys were completed in mid-2006. The higher of those found 650,000 “excess deaths” (mortality attributable to war); the other yielded 400,000. The war remained ferocious for twelve to fifteen months after those surveys were finished and then began to subside. Iraq Body Count, a London NGO that uses English-language press reports from Iraq to count civilian deaths, provides a means to update the 2006 estimates. While it is known to be an undercount, because press reports are incomplete and Baghdad-centric, IBC nonetheless provides useful trends, which are striking. Its estimates are nearing 100,000, more than double its June 2006 figure of 45,000. (It does not count nonviolent excess deaths — from health emergencies, for example — or insurgent deaths.) If this is an acceptable marker, a plausible estimate of total deaths can be calculated by doubling the totals of the 2006 household surveys, which used a much more reliable and sophisticated method for estimates that draws on long experience in epidemiology. So we have, at present, between 800,000 and 1.3 million “excess deaths” as we approach the six-year anniversary of this war.

This gruesome figure makes sense when reading of claims by Iraqi officials that there are 1-2 million war widows and 5 million orphans. This constitutes direct empirical evidence of total excess mortality and indirect, though confirming, evidence of the displaced and the bereaved and of general insecurity. The overall figures are stunning: 4.5 million displaced, 1-2 million widows, 5 million orphans, about 1 million dead — in one way or another, affecting nearly one in two Iraqis.

By any sensible measure, it would be difficult to describe this as a victory of any kind. It speaks volumes about the repair work we must do for Iraqis, and it should caution us against the savage wars we are prone to. Now that Bush is gone, perhaps the United States can honestly face the damage we have wrought and the responsibilities we must accept from it.

informationclearinghouse

Saudi Monstrosity and International Silence

For the past several weeks, dozens of family members have been reaching out to the Iraqi government in a fragile gesture meant to save the lives of their sons. In January 2009, Saudi courts convicted 25 young Iraqi men of trespassing into Saudi Arabia. Their punishment: beheading. Among the Iraqi prisoners are at least several men suffering from tuberculosis, all of whom are being denied medical attention by the Saudi judiciary.

Relatives of the Iraqi prisoners in Saudi prisons have been holding protests in the southern province of Al-Muthana, withstanding the bitter cold and wind. The response by the Iraqi officials has been ridiculously indifferent, with the buck being passed between the bureaucracies. Human rights officials have announced today that the case should be pursued by National Security Advisor Mowaffak al-Rubaie. However, Rubaie has refused to take any proactive action in this regard. In September 2008, Rubaie had met with the Saudi King and authorized the transfer of 400 Saudi terrorists out of Iraq and back to Saudi Arabia. Any mention of the Iraqi death-row prisoners in Saudi Arabia was not present.

Iraqi politicians are far too engulfed in the elections to even grant a second glance to the young men about to lose their lives for petty crimes. However, these same power holders have no grievance with releasing Saudi terrorists and allowing them to live a normal life, long after they had wrecked that of the Iraqi children. Saudi Arabia has become the shame of the Muslim and Arab world; to think some claim these barbarians represent us is an insult to humanity and Islam.

Saudi Arabia is a state party to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Secrecy and the lack of internationally recognized standards of due process have long been distinctive features of the Saudi justice system. None of the Iraqi men had access to any form of legal representation, nor were they offered such an option. This is a recurring theme within the Saudi legal system, and it strips away the most basic of rights for prisoners, both foreign and domestic.

The treatment of detained foreign nationals both in the case of the Iraqi men and other multinationals gives insight into the closed world and fundamental flaws of the Saudi judicial system, including prolonged incommunicado detention, the absence of protection against torture, and other forms of mistreatment during interrogation. In many cases involving foreigners, foreign governments rarely if ever publicly raise fair-trial concerns or engage in other vigorous public advocacy on behalf of their nationals, prior to or even after their executions.

If this was any other nation, there would outrage, but since it is Saudi Arabia, the world has become complacent. The kingdom spends a fortune on US public relations firms to cover up human rights violations. In the year 2000, Amnesty International reported that Saudi Arabia has spent more than one million dollars on public relations firms to ensure secrecy about abuses of human rights. An oil-dependent international community sits back in silence as the suffering continues inside the kingdom.

The death penalty is used in Saudi Arabia more than in any other country, mainly because many crimes are punishable by execution. Defendants are typically poor foreign migrant workers from developing countries in Africa and Asia, often have no defense lawyer, and are usually unable to follow court proceedings in Arabic. For countless prisoners, they had no knowledge of their sentence until the actual day of their execution.

We must act now to save the Iraqi prisoners in Saudi custody. These Iraqi nationals were beaten until they confessed, and all claim that they are innocent. Prisoners in Saudi Arabia can be put to death without a scheduled date for execution being made known to them or their families. Subsequently, these men could be put to death any time.

Here is whom to contact regarding appeals in the cases of the Iraqi prisoners, while also expressing our outrage at the abuse of all prisoners:

Ambassador Adel A. Al-Jubeir
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia
601 New Hampshire Ave. NW
Washington DC 20037
Fax: 1 202 944 3113
Email:
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His Majesty King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al- Saud
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
Office of His Majesty the King
Royal Court
Riyadh
KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA
Fax (via Ministry of the Interior): 011 966 1 403 1185 (please keep trying)
Salutation: Your Majesty

Turki bin Khaled Al-Sudairy
President
Human Rights Commission
P.O. Box 58889
King Fahad Road, Building No. 373
Riyadh 11515
KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA
Fax: 011 966 1 4612061

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