Archive | January 16th, 2020

Persian Peril: The Assassination of Qasem Soleimani and the Prospect of War with Iran

By Michael WelchGlenn Michalchuk, and Pepe Escobar

Global Research,

“And after what my source had sent me on Wednesday morning…I was pretty confident that they would have to back off because the reasons were overwhelming in terms of Iranian military power… In fact there was an indirect, a direct-indirect message that if Iranian soil was hit the retortion would it be against Haifa in Israel, and Dubai in The Emirates.” – Pepe Escobar (from this week’s interview)

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The tensions between Iran and the Trump administration on display since before U.S. President’s inauguration are now strained to near the breaking point in the first two weeks of January.

A targeted drone strike at Baghdad Airport late on the evening of January 2nd claimed the lives of Iraqi politician and military commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and the Iranian Major-General Qasem Soleimani.

Soleimani served in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and commanded its Quds force. The U.S. Department of Defense claimed that Soleimani was “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. General Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more….This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.”

For Iranians, Soleimani was broadly seen as a national hero. A 2018 University of Maryland survey revealed that Soleimani had a popularity rating among Iranians of 82 percent, well ahead of President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Millions took to the streets in cities across the Islamic Republic to mourn the death of Soleimani. Iranian Supreme leader Ali Khamenei  had gone on State television within 24 hours of the assassination vowing  “severe revenge” for Soleimani’s death.

The Iraqi parliament has voted on the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Meanwhile, Iran carried out missile attacks against two bases in Iraq housing U.S. servicemen, with reportedly no casualties.

Later that day, President Trump in a speech to the nation and the world condemned the Islamic Republic’s supposed quest for nuclear weapons, its alleged support of terrorism, and the ‘bad’ nuclear deal which Trump claims strengthened the regional power’s hand. The speech also called for more sanctions against the country, and more NATO involvement, though fell short of a formal declaration of war.Later that same day, a Ukraine-bound jet crashes after taking off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport. All 176 passengers and crew, including 63 Canadians, perished in the disaster. In spite of early denials, the Iranian government would eventually admit to shooting down the craft accidentally.hgThere is considerable concern that these events could trigger another Persian Gulf War with consequences potentially dwarfing those following the crusade of the George W. Bush crusade of 2003.Persian Peril: Brinkmanship in the Post-INF Treaty ErahgThis week’s Global Research News Hour is well aware of the stakes in America’s geo-strategic power play with Iran. Consequently, we have devoted our most recent show to providing some context with three guests.nOur first interview, Allan Wise, provides the perspective of an individual of Iranian extraction with relatives and friends from the country. He outlines difficulties he has had trying to get information out of the country in recent weeks, a critical appraisal of the country`s human rights record, and thoughts about what he sees as Canada`s limited options in terms of addressing both the Trump administration`s hostile actions, and the Iranian government’s failures.mOur next interview is with Canadian peace activist Glenn Michalchuk, on the eve of a pan-Canadian Day of Action against sanctions against and war on Iran. Michalchuk challenges Canada’s stance with regard to the current stand-off between Iran and the U.S., speaks to the use of human rights discourse in the case of Iran and other countries as an instrument of imperial aggression, and critiques some of the media messaging around recent events.nFinally, the noted commentator Pepe Escobar joins the show for the entirety of the last half of the show. Among other points he raises, he details some of the critical aspects of Trump’s speech, provides evidence the president actually favours a de-escalation of tensions, unlike elements of the U.S. ‘Deep State’. outlines Iran’s ability to fight back with a financial ‘WMD’ of its own, and explains the appeal of General Soleimani to the Iranian people, notwithstanding ubiquitous Western media discourse about this ‘terrorist’ figure.nPlease note the guest interviews were recorded in advance of the Iranian government’s admission of fault in the shooting down of Ukrainian airlines Flight 752.mAllan Wise is a Winnipeg-based Iranian Canadian. He abandoned Iran in the late 1980s as a refugee and is a 30 year resident of Canada. He is an intense critic of Iran’s human rights record. Undisclosed in the interview, Allan Wise had been actively involved in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s political party, the Liberals, once running as a candidate under Justin Trudeau’s predecessor.  mGlenn Michalchuk is Chair of Peace Alliance Winnipeg and Treasurer for the Canadian Peace Alliance mPepe Escobar, a veteran Brazilian journalist, is the correspondent-at-large for Hong Kong-based Asia Times.  His latest book is “2030.” His most recent articles on the US-Iran stand-off are posted at Global Research. Follow him on Facebook. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research. m(Global Research News Hour Episode 282)mLISTEN TO THE SHOW

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The Global Research News Hour airs every Friday at 1pm CT on CKUW 95.9FM out of the University of Winnipeg. The programme is also podcast at globalresearch.ca .

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Community Radio Stations carrying the Global Research News Hour:

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It is also available on 93.9 FM cable in the communities of SFU, Burnaby, New Westminister, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Surrey and Delta, in British Columbia, Canada. – Tune in  at its new time – Wednesdays at 4pm PT.

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Caper Radio CJBU 107.3FM in Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia airs the Global Research News Hour starting Wednesday Morning from 8:00 to 9:00am. Find more details at www.caperradio.ca

RIOT RADIO, the visual radio station based out of Durham College in Oshawa, Ontario has begun airing the Global Research News Hour on an occasional basis. Tune in at dcstudentsinc.ca/services/riot-radio/

Radio Fanshawe: Fanshawe’s 106.9 The X (CIXX-FM) out of London, Ontario airs the Global Research News Hour Sundays at 6am with an encore at 3pm.

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Posted in Middle East, USA, IranComments Off on Persian Peril: The Assassination of Qasem Soleimani and the Prospect of War with Iran

The Human Catastrophe of War

By Massoud Nayeri

Global Research,

The year 2020 began with news of President Trump’s bold military adventure which garnered the attention of the people around the world. 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedish, 4 Afghans, 3 Britons, and 3 Germans lost their lives innocently January 8th in the deadly downing of a Ukrainian airliner over Tehran.

They were professionals, university students, newlyweds, families with their children who became the victims of “human error”. Their passenger jet was accidentally shot down by the anti-aircraft missiles of the Iran’s Air Defense Unit over Tehran just a few tense hours after Iran launched missiles attacks against American Airbases in Iraq.

After almost 3 days of denial and unjustified hesitation, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani finally offered his apologies and condolences on Twitter and wrote:

“The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake” and promised that “Investigations continue to identify & prosecute this great tragedy & unforgivable mistake.”

However, no apologies or punishments can resolve the anguish of the families who lost their loved ones. Subsequently and understandably, sizeable demonstrations in Tehran and other cities in Iran took place which displayed people’s dissatisfaction of the government’’ misconduct.

A vigil in Toronto, Canada

These demonstrations without conscious leadership (which can win the hearts and minds of the majority in Iran) can easily be dispersed either by the security forces (like in any other capitalist countries these days) or gradually be demoralized like the past demonstrations.

Iran’s classical revolution in 1979 (in which all layers in society participated and supported historical change) toppled the monarchy and Pahlavi Dynasty once and for all. Revolution opened the gate of freedom in hope for a new form of governance, a Democratic Republic. The nation’s aspiration to enjoy democratic rights, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and association was suppressed by the new ruling religious cast which was unable to end to the economic system that puts profit over people but at the same time for its own survival had to stand against the imperialist powers. After 4 decades, the Iranian people are still struggling to gain their democratic rights in order to create a better future for all working families in Iran. This fact is reflected in the statement issued on January 12th by the students demonstrating in Amirkabir University in Iran. The statement (translated from Farsi by Farhang Jahanpour) in part reads:

“The events of the past two months have been a clear testimony to the complete incompetence of the regime ruling over Iran, a regime whose only answer to every crisis is to resort to force. It is our duty today to direct all our efforts at the totality of the system of suppression, whether in the form of an oppressive government or an imperialist power. During the past few years, America’s presence in the Middle East has produced nothing but increasing insecurity and chaos. Our approach towards that aggressive power is quite clear. However, it is also clear to us that America’s adventurism in the region should not be used as an excuse for domestic suppression. As today everybody is repeating the mantra of “national security”, we should ask which social groups, classes and strata they have in mind. We are not afraid of saying loud and clear that the security of the poor, deprived and marginalized has been undermined for many years. The economic policies of the past 30 years have resulted in creating a whole host of neglected groups, alongside a group of privileged, rich and corrupt individuals.”

Meantime, some participants in these demonstrations intentionally or unconsciously would imagine creating a scenario that has been plotted by the Trump administration in Venezuela or recently in Bolivia. Iranian people who wish to end all sanctions and all military conflicts should reach out to the peaceful American people who think the same way and indeed are dissatisfied with their own government also.

Demonstration in front of Amirkabir University of Technology in Tehran, Iran

The Trump administration’s justification to assassinate an Iranian General was said to be because it had the knowledge of an “imminent” threat and to “prevent further casualties”! This clear lie has been already exposed by the politicians in Washington. At the same time, the Iranian government in response to the President Trump’s lies, claims that their military decision in targeting the American airbases in Iraq is solely to “de-escalate” the tension and not a call for an all-out war! This is an illogical claim. People around the world are following the conflict between the U.S. and Iran with much anxiety. It must be realized that so-called “surgical” drone assassinations or “accurate” missile attacks have deadly consequences that are unavoidable and cannot be prevented or even anticipated in advance. The problem lies in the nature of war. No one believes that drone and missile attacks will be the last of the military operations and the tragedy of the Ukrainian plane crash is the last accidental disaster.

On the contrary, after the recent events, the militarists of every government are vigorously pushing their war agenda forward. In the U.S., the phrase “Military Options” has been replaced by the reality of Military Operations. According to Aljazeera on the same day that General Soleimani was assassinated, the U.S. conducted a separate military operation in Yemen targeting Abdul Reza Shahlai, a high-ranking commander in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), but the mission was not successful. Also on January 8th 2020, more than 60 civilians were killed or wounded in a U.S. drone attack targeting Mullah Nangyalay, a top Taliban splinter-group commander in Herat Province. Considering that the Iraqi parliament has already approved a resolution to expel all foreign forces from Iraq, there is no doubt that U.S. aggressive military operations in the region will be increased.

Both the phony and toothless antiwar resolution by Democrats and the elusive message of ready to “embrace peace” by the U.S. fascistic minded President should not distract and pacify the peace activists. The true peace activists rely on PEOPLE TO PEOPLE DIPLOMACY rather than be used as cheap pawns in the impeachment saga or phony debates about who really has the constitutional power to declare war on sovereign nations! Peace activists will not benefit from the current insoluble 1% family feud.

Professor Ussama Makdisi’s informative article in the Houston Chronicle (Jan. 11, 2020) is a good reminder to all peace activists that how we have reached this point of chaos in the Middle East after decades by the same type of “leaders” that now are promising us a peaceful and prosperous Iraq, Iran and beyond. He wrote: “Drone killings, after all, were embraced by the Barack Obama administration. Iraq was invaded by the George W. Bush administration — and many of the falsehoods that today are justifying violence against Iran are recycled from the neoconservatives of 2003. The Clinton administration oversaw a devastating sanctions regime against Iraq — with then US ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright telling “60 Minutes” in 1996 that the death of an estimated half a million Iraqi children as a result of sanctions was “worth it” to ensure U.S. goals in the region. Even today’s affable Jimmy Carter declared in 1980, for example, that the U.S. reserved the right to use military force to repel any threat to U.S. hegemony over the Gulf region.”

American Airbase in Iraq

Fear and fright, death and destruction are the components of war. Those who have experienced the sound, smell and horror of war beside their family and shivering children, will never justify any military option.

They will tell the truth. A short video report from Al-Asad Airbase by the CNN reporter Arwa Damon, which was aired 3 days after the missiles strikes by Iran, simply shows even in the heart of the most powerful and dreadful army, the human factor is still alive and critical.

Lt. Col. Staci Colemsan standing next to a cradle and remains of the damaged living quarters, in response to the question “what was that night like?” said: “It is very hard to describe it. I will tell you, it was extremely scary … you could feel the shock waves … even inside the bunker…”.

One can imagine how defenseless, ordinary people who are the victims of constant U.S. drone attacks must feel. FEAR is the universal emotion of people who witness the wickedness of war. The effect of war for the American soldiers in the heavy bunkers in Iraq or theater of operation elsewhere, are as strong as the frightened children in a modest elementary school in Gaza under Israeli missiles attacks or horrified patients and medical staff in a poor structured public hospital in Yemen under Saudi bombardments.

The peaceful nature of humans seeks for progress, innovation and creation. As mothers give birth and nurture their children around the world; nations must create peace and protect it in unity from the warlords and their evil nuclear arsenals. People to People Diplomacy, independent from the wealthy elite’s politics is the only practical option against endless wars.

No US war against Iran!

US out of the Middle East now!

Posted in USA, Politics, WorldComments Off on The Human Catastrophe of War

Scotland’s Independence Project

By Johanna Ross

Global Research,

On Tuesday Boris Johnson submitted a letter to Nicola Sturgeon, rejecting outright her request for powers to be transferred to the Scottish parliament to call a second referendum on independence. It read:

“The UK government will continue to uphold the democratic decision of the Scottish people and the promise you made to them. For that reason, I cannot agree to any request for a transfer of power which would lead to future independence referendums.”

The promise to which Johnson is referring, of course, is that of Nicola Sturgeon back in 2014 when she commented that the independence referendum was a once in a generation vote. What the Prime Minister fails to recognise, however, is that a comment of that nature is not legally binding, any more than Boris Johnson’s comments were that Brexit would take place by October 31st last year ‘come what may’. Moreover, the circumstances in which that vote took place were completely different. At that point there was no Brexit on the horizon, let alone a referendum on the subject. And ironically, one of the main points made by the ‘No’ campaign, was that Scotland’s future in the EU could be jeopardised if it didn’t vote to remain part of the United Kingdom.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has, for her part, responded to the letter by stating the Prime Minister’s position was ‘unsustainable and self-defeating’ and that it would only boost support for independence. And although indicating that the SNP would put forward its plans for ‘next steps’ following Johnson’s letter, she did not give any detail as to what these might consist of. What is clear however, is that trying to persuade Westminster of the need for another referendum is a fruitless task. Naturally, Sturgeon is keen to pursue independence peacefully (unlike the situation in Catalonia) and most importantly, legally, but we cannot forget the circumstances in which the Union was first formed – Scotland was taken by force, and ever since has not ruled side by side with England, but been ruled over.  London will do all it can to prevent Scottish independence.Thursday Marked the Beginning of the End of the United Kingdom

Indeed, as I write there is a bill currently with the House of Lords which is designed to make a second independence referendum unconstitutional unless a series of unreasonable conditions are met. The bill titled ‘Referendums Criteria bill’ would stipulate that the following would apply to any future referendum:

1) A vote in the House of Lords and House of Commons

2) The number of MPs or Lords who vote in favour of a referendum MUST equal two thirds or more in BOTH HOUSES.

3) If a referendum takes place, 55% of the registered electorate must vote in it for it to be valid.

4) 60% must vote for independence for it to be valid.

In order to pursue independence therefore, Scotland has to think outside of the box (Particularly as all it is requesting initially, is another referendum, not outright independence). Instead of operating within the boundaries of UK law, it should be looking instead to international law, and following the example of other break-away republics, like Kosovo for example. When Kosovo seceded from Serbia in 2008 it was done without Belgrade’s agreement. And although the US and UK argued at the time that its secession did not provide a legal precedent due to the unique circumstances of ethnic conflict which Kosovo found itself in, it has triggered a debate ever since about whether other states can follow Serbia’s example. It has been said by Professor Christopher Greenwood, former judge at the International Court of Justice that in fact:

“Everything that States do constitutes a precedent for the future, because the nature of customary international law is that it is derived from State practice and the assertion by States of a legal right or their acknowledgement of a legal obligation”.

And herein lies the point.

The Scottish case differs of course from the Kosovan, but each case of secession would, by default, have its own specific circumstances. Just as the Kosovo case was unique, so is the Scottish.  Therefore a new approach is required. Scotland has its own history as an independent country for hundreds of years before the Union, for example. A new way of thinking needs to be applied to carving out Scotland’s future. It will be a waste of time to try to establish independence within the parameters of domestic UK law. It’s time to understand that if the rules don’t fit, they ought to be rewritten.

Posted in UKComments Off on Scotland’s Independence Project

US Deterrence: Code Language for Endless “Hot Wars” against Humanity

By Stephen Lendman

Washington’s criminal class is bipartisan.

Both right wings of the US war party pose an unparalleled threat to world peace, stability, security, and humanity’s survival.

The rhetoric of each wing differs, the agenda the same, notably since the neoliberal 90s, especially post-9/11.

Not a dime’s worth of difference separates each wing on war and peace, corporate favoritism, neoliberal harshness, and police state crackdowns on nonbelievers.

Democracy in America is for the privileged few alone, the real thing serving everyone equitably nonexistent from inception.

US exceptionalism, the indispensable state, and moral superiority don’t exist, never did.

Permanent war on humanity is undeclared official US policy. Deterrence is code language for waging it, wanting pro-Western puppet rule replacing sovereign independent governments everywhere.

That’s what the scourge of imperialism is all about, promoted by Big Lies and deception, supported by establishment media, most Americans none the wiser about the threat to their lives, welfare, and futures.

On Monday at the right wing Hoover Institute, Pompeo said Trump and his regime’s national security team prioritize “deterrence” — code language for endless hot wars and by other means on humanity, notably against nations on the US target list for regime change, especially Russia, China and Iran.

Separately, US war secretary Esper falsely claimed the US has legal authority to attack Iran under the Constitution’s Article 2. No such authority exists.

Article I, Section 8, Clause 11, the so-called War Powers Clause, vests in Congress alone the power to declare war, stating:

“The Congress shall have power…To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water…To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years…”

The Constitution affords the president no power to wage war without congressional approval.

Since establishment of the UN Charter, warmaking by one nation on others is unlawful without Security Council authorization, permitted only in self-defense, never preemptively.

Under the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, international laws to which the US is a signatory are automatically constitutional law.

No presidential directive in any form or congressional legislation may legally circumvent international law.

The Security Council has exclusive authority on issues of war and peace.

On Monday, Esper falsely claimed the Authorization for Use of Military Force Resolution (AUMF – Sept. 2001) permits the US to attack its enemies — invented not real, he failed to explain.

So-called Iranian “proxies” he cited are self-defense forces in Iraq and elsewhere in the region, not aggressors like the US and its “proxies.”

Throughout the post-WW II era, especially post-9/11, the US attacked one country after another preemptively, never in self-defense, what naked aggression is all about, the highest of high crimes.

No nations or elements therein today threaten US national security. Claims otherwise reflect willful deception, a way to justify what’s unjustifiable, to defend the indefensible.

Esper falsely claimed Iranian General Soleimani was killed because he had “the blood of hundreds of American soldiers and Marines on his hands (sic).”

Pompeo called his assassination an act of “deterrence (sic),” earlier saying he posed an “imminent threat (sic),” citing other reasons, then changing the narrative.

Soleimani may have been killed on January 3 because of his success in combatting the scourge of ISIS it appears the Trump regime intends resurrecting in Iraq as a pretext for continued occupation of the country.

Nations on the US target list for regime change wage peace, not war — notably Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Syria, its forces combatting the scourge of US supported terrorists. Pentagon troops illegally occupying its territory assure endless war.

The US and its imperial allies threaten humanity, waging hot war and by other means worldwide to control other nations, their resources and populations.

One day the US will go the way of all other empires in history, self-destroyed by its endless wars, arrogance, and unwillingness to change.

Posted in USAComments Off on US Deterrence: Code Language for Endless “Hot Wars” against Humanity

Iraq: The October Revolution of 2019 and the Iran-US Conflict

Iraq is home to thousands of US troops and is also home to powerful Iranian-backed militias. The fear is that Iraq could become the battleground of a war between the United States and Iran.

By Dirk Adriaensens

The revolts that have swept over Iraq since 1 October 2019 come at a critical moment of increasing tensions between Iran and the United States, both allies of the Iraqi government.

Rivalry between the US and Iran increases

On August 29, 2019, the International Crisis Group published a report calling for the US-Iran conflict not to be settled in Iraq.

“In June, various rockets were fired at American installations in Iraq, and in July-August, explosions destroyed the storage sites for weapons and a convoy of Iraqi paramilitary groups associated with Iran. These incidents helped push US-Iranian tensions to the brink of confrontation and underlined the danger of the situation in Iraq and the Gulf.

Although the US and Iran have not so far collided directly with each other, they are forcing the Iraqi government to take sides. Iraqi leaders are working hard to maintain the country’s neutrality. But increasing external pressure and internal polarization threaten the survival of the government.

What needs to be done? The US and Iran must refrain from engaging Iraq in their rivalry, as this would undermine Iraq’s weak stability after the fight against ISIS. With the help of international actors, Iraq should maintain its diplomatic and domestic political efforts to remain neutral. ”

For geographical and historical reasons, Iraq is in the eye of the storm. Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran and Tehran’s response put heavy pressure on the Iraqi government, a partner for both. The US expects Baghdad to resist Iran, and Iran expects Baghdad to resist the US. An almost impossible position.

Relations between the US and Iran have always had a dual character in Iraq. There has been cooperation between the two countries since the 2003 invasion to pacify Iraq, and at the same time, relations are very conflicting. The two countries are fighting each other for influence in the Middle East. The withdrawal of the Trump government in May 2018 from the nuclear deal and the reintroduction of US economic sanctions against Iran in November 2018 have created an explosive situation. Halfway through 2019, following Washington’s decision to tighten sanctions, a series of incidents opened the door to a new war that could engulf the entire Middle East.

Iran has used the power vacuum after 2003 to invest heavily in Iraq’s political system, economy and security system. Several Shiite militias and notorious death squads, allied to Iran, such as the Badr Brigades, were integrated into the brutal and sectarian National Police, created by the US. Together with the US, they fought the National resistance movement, while also resisting the presence of the US. The US and Iran also worked closely together during the four-year battle to defeat ISIS (2014-2017). Iranian-affiliated Iraqi Shiite militias formed the core of the Hashd al-Shaabi (popular mobilization forces – PMF), an amalgam of paramilitary forces that responded to Great Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s 2014 call to fight ISIS.

In the aftermath of the 2003 US invasion and the subsequent fight against ISIS, Baghdad has the largest US embassy in the Middle East and the largest number of US troops (more than 5,000) in six currently operating military bases:

  • Forward Operating Base Abu Ghraib is one of the first military bases to be established in Iraq by the United States of America. The base is in Abu Ghraib, in the province of Anbar. It is just 32 km from the center of Baghdad and only 15 km from the international airport of the Iraqi capital.
  • Justice Camp Base Base in Kadhimiya, Iraq. Camp Justice, formerly known as Camp Banzai.
  • Forward Operating Base (FOB) Sykes is located in the northern Iraqi province of Nineve, a few miles outside of Tal Afar. The base was used as an established outpost for combat and tactical operations of the United States during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
  • Camp Taji, Iraq – also known as Camp Cooke – is in the immediate vicinity, just 30 km from Baghdad. The base is used by coalition forces in Iraq and not just by the United States.
  • Joint Base Balad was one of the many military installations that are maintained and used by the US in Iraq. It was known by multiple names, including Balad Air Base, Al Bakr Air Base, Camp Anaconda or LSA Anaconda. The base is one of the largest of the Americans.
  • Victory Base Complex – also called VBC – is a combination of military installations around Baghdad International Airport. The complex includes 10 bases – Victory Fuel Point, Slayer, Striker, Cropper, Liberty, Radwaniyah Palace, Dublin, Sather Air Base, Logistics Base Seitz and Victory. The most important is Camp Victory. It houses the headquarters for all American operations in Iraq. The camp also includes the Al Faw Palace.

The end of US-Iran detente

The defeat of ISIS and the inauguration of President Donald Trump have put an end to the silent American-Iranian detente in Iraq and this has led to a period of escalating rivalry. In the aftermath of the Iraqi parliamentary elections of May 2018, that rivalry became very clear. Both Washington and Tehran tried to exert influence through their favorite actors. Their disputes over the formation of the government lasted thirteen months and yielded a list of acceptable, but weak figures, who, even within the political parties to which they belong, lack strong support. Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi and President Barham Salih, two somewhat isolated politicians, were appointed in October 2018.

Adel Abdul-Mahdi (image on the right) is the personification of the bankrupt and corrupt political regime imposed by US imperialism. He started his career as a member of the Ba’ath party, then became a leading member of the Iraqi Communist Party and then went into exile in Iran as a loyalist to Ayatollah Khomeini. He returned to Iraq on the back of American tanks and joined the puppet government in 2004 as finance minister. He was described by the US Council on Foreign Relations as “a moderate technocrat who is helpful to American interests.” Like his predecessors since 2004, he helped organize the looting of Iraq’s oil wealth to enrich foreign companies, the local ruling oligarchy, and corrupt politicians and their supporters.

The function of the Minister of the Interior, Defense and Justice remained open for eight months, largely as a result of constant rivalry between Iran and the US. The tug-of-war between the two countries has been going on since 2003, because both the US and Iran must approve the composition of a government after every election. This shows that sovereignty for Iraq is still a distant dream.

US policy towards Iran has put strong pressure on the Abdul-Mahdi government. When Washington reactivated the sanctions against Iran in November 2018, the US called on the Iraqi government to stop payments to Tehran for natural gas and electricity and to diversify its energy imports, including through contracts with US companies. Baghdad asked Washington for more time to pursue alternatives for fear of reprisals from Iran and electricity shortages. Temporary respite from the Trump government allowed Baghdad to continue importing gas and electricity from Iran, but the US continued to urge Baghdad to sign energy infrastructure contracts with US companies.

However, Abdel Mahdi concluded a $ 284 million electricity deal with a German rather than an American company. The Iraqi prime minister refuses to abide by US sanctions and still buys electricity from Iran and allows extensive trade between the two countries. This trade produces large amounts of foreign currency that stimulates the Iranian economy. Abdel Mahdi is willing to buy the S-400 and other military hardware from Russia. He has signed an agreement with China to rebuild essential infrastructure in exchange for oil. And finally he tried to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia and showed his intention to distance himself from US policies in the Middle East. All these decisions made Abdul Mahdi extremely unpopular with the US.

Israel also interferes openly in Iraq. The country used its F-35i stealth fighter jets to attack Iranian targets in Iraq in July and August, seriously damaging four Iraqi bases used by Iranian troops and proxies as a supposed repository of Iranian ballistic missiles. The Iraqi government minimized this issue, first attempted to ignore it, and even attempted to let Israel off the hook. It took weeks before Abdul Mahdi announced in a television interview that there were “references” to Israel’s responsibility.

This reluctant position of the regime in Iraq is evidence of the loyalty to the US. There was not even a trace of indignation from the Iraqi government when Netanyahu bragged about bombing Iraq during his election campaign. The US denied any involvement in these attacks, but it is very doubtful that Israel would hit Iraqi targets without at least the consent of Washington. As a result, US military and coalition forces in Iraq must now request official approval before launching air operations, including in the campaign against ISIS.

Another requirement of the Trump administration is for the Iraqi government to dissolve the Iranian-related militias (PMF). Since the defeat of ISIS, these militias have taken control of various regions in Iraq and have also participated in the recent elections. No unit of the public militias was dissolved, on the contrary: In 2016, the government formally integrated the PMF into the security forces and has no effective control over their actions. The Fatah front, a collection of various militias from the PMF, became the second largest formation after the recent elections.

Endemic corruption

Despite the enormous oil wealth in Iraq, 32,9% or 13 million Iraqis live below the poverty line and youth unemployment is 40 percent according to recent figures from the IMF, while young people under 25 make up 60 percent of Iraq’s 40 million inhabitants. Half of all Iraqis are under the age of 18. The overall unemployment rate is estimated at around 23 percent, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics in Baghdad. The Iraqi organization “Al-Nama” estimates the percentage of unemployed women at more than 80%. Employment Rate in Iraq decreased to 28,20 percent in 2018 from 43,20 percent in 2016. Electricity is supplied for 5 to 8 hours a day, water is polluted, there is a failing medical system, education levels are very low, corruption is endemic. These are just a few of the problems that frustrate Iraqis. Politicians never keep their promises. Restoration and improvement projects are promised, but scrapped before the ink has dried up and the money being allocated disappears into corrupt pockets. The oil, which accounts for more than 90% of government revenues, is also the most important commodity on the black market. Criminal networks, including oil ministry staff, senior political and religious figures, are allegedly involved in corruption, in collaboration with Mafia networks and criminal gangs that smuggle oil and generate large profits. The three most disturbing problems for Iraqis are corruption (47%), unemployment (32%) and safety (21%).

Iraq is one of the most corrupt countries in the Arab world, according to Transparency International reports. The country occupies the 168th of the 180 countries in the corruption index. Deep-rooted corruption in Iraq is one of the factors that has been hampering reconstruction efforts for more than a decade. Former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has “lost” $ 500 billion during his term of office (2006-2014), according to the Iraqi Integrity Committee (CPI). “Nearly half of the government’s revenues during the eight-year period were “stolen” or “disappeared”, said Adil Nouri, spokesperson for the CPl in October 2015. He called this “the biggest political corruption scandal in the history”. Iraq’s oil revenues amounted to 800 billion dollars between 2006 and 2014, and the Maliki government also received support of 250 billion dollars from various countries, including the US, during that period.

The World Bank ranks Iraq as one of the worst-governed states in the world, and the Iraqi government remains one of the most corrupt regimes in the world. The Iraqi government has so far made little effort to restoring the destroyed cities of its largely Sunni population after the fight against ISIS. It has done little to establish any form of ethnic or sectarian conciliation, and far too much of  the ‘oil wealth’ is consumed by its politicians, officials and a government sector that is one of the best paid and least productive in developing countries.

Corruption, waste of government resources and the purchase of military equipment have increased Iraq’s budget deficit from $ 16.7 billion in 2013, $ 20 billion in 2016 to $ 23 billion for fiscal year 2019. MiddleEastMonitor quoted the head of the parliamentary finance committee Haitham Al-Jubouri on 18 December: “Iraq’s foreign debt amounted to more than $50 billion. More than $20 billion was paid back over the last period”. According to the official, Iraq still owes $27 billion to foreign countries, in addition to $41 billion to Saudi Arabia given as a grant to the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Iraqi lawmaker Majida Al-Tamimi confirmed that Iraq borrowed $1.2 billion in 2005 and $1.4 billion in 2006 from the World Bank and external parties to support investment and bridge the budget deficit. Also the IMF came to the rescue with billion dollar loans that make the country even more dependent on the US and other foreign creditors. It’s not surprising that 78% of the Iraqi people consider the Iraqi economy as “bad” or “very bad”, according to IIACSS polling firm.

The constitution allows Iraqis to have two nationalities, but stipulates that the person appointed to a higher or security position must renounce the other nationality (Article 18, 4). However, no Iraqi official has complied with this Regulation.

Many senior Iraqi officials have dual nationality, including Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi (France), former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and former Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari (UK) and Parliament President Saleem al-Jibouri (Qatar). Of the 66 Iraqi ambassadors, 32 have dual nationality, as well as an estimated 70 to 100 MPs.

Then there are the ministers in the current Iraqi government with a Western background: Mohamed Ali Al hakim – Minister of Foreign Affairs (UK and US), Fuad Hussein – Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister (the Netherlands and France), Thamir Ghadhban – Minister of Oil and Deputy Prime Minister (UK).

Many officials accused of corruption by the Iraqi authorities have fled the country to escape persecution thanks to their foreign passport, including former ministers Abdul Falah al-Sudani (trade), Hazim Shaalan (national defense) and Ayham al-Samarrai (electricity).

Najah al-Shammari serves as the current defense minister from 2019 onwards in the government of Adel Abdul Mahdi. He is a Swedish citizen who is part of the Mahdi cabinet. The minister is under investigation for benefit fraud for claiming housing and child benefits from Sweden, according to the online news site Nyheter Idag and the Swedish newspaper Expressen. He is charged with “crimes against humanity” in Sweden.

President Barham Salih is a British citizen. A complaint was made against him by “Defending Christian Arabs”, who asked the Advocate General in Scotland to open an investigation against him for “crimes against humanity by giving permission or being complicit in the widespread attack on civilian demonstrations in Iraq that resulted in mass killings, injuries, illegal arrests and kidnapping of people. ”

Civil servants are known to demand bribes up to tens of thousands of dollars to give government contracts or even only to put a signature on a public document; also to arrange a lucrative function for a friend or family member. “Political parties are refusing to leave the cabinet because they will no longer be able to grab hold of the treasury”, a senior member of the ruling coalition told AFP.

Many appointments in the Cabinet, Directors General in Ministries and embassy staff are family members of Moqtada Sadr and Hadi Al-Ameri, the head of the Badr organization, the military wing of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, the two largest parties in the Iraqi Parliament.

Amid the expected rescheduling of the cabinet, positions are already ‘bought’, according to a senior Iraqi official. “A political party is assigned a certain ministry and then sells that ministerial position to the highest bidder”. He described a transaction worth $ 20 million. It is a well-known script: the candidate pays the party for the position and then tries to appropriate as much public money as possible, with which the debt can be paid off. The system is so deeply rooted, observers say, that there is little that Abdel Mahdi can do to stop it.

Iraqi Prime Minister receives many visitors

Donald Trump said in February 2019 that US soldiers must remain in Iraq “to guard Iran.” Two months later, on April 7, Iran’s chief, Ali Khamenei (image on the left), called on Iraqi leaders to ensure that the US military leaves “as quickly as possible.” Meanwhile, a procession of US and Iranian officials came to Iraq to defend their respective interests, including Trump himself during an unannounced visit in December 2018 and, four months later, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met with the Iraqi Prime Minister on 17 September to discuss a new military training mission to Iraq. Amid the current uprising, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also arrived in Baghdad on 8 October to discuss escalating tensions between the United States and Iran in the Gulf region.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iran on December 13 for a “decisive” reaction if US interests are endangered in Iraq, following a series of rocket attacks on bases where US forces are housed. The military base at Baghdad International Airport became the target of two missiles on December 12. It was already the 10th attack on that basis since October. “We use this opportunity to remind Iran’s leaders that any attack by them or their proxies, which harm Americans, our allies or our interests, will be answered with a decisive response from the US,” Pompeo said in his statement.

The US military leadership has also made it clear that the death or injury of an American citizen is a red line that will lead to retaliation. “My fear is that the Iraqi government is not willing to take action, and if there is no willingness to stop this, then we will come to a point where we are pushed into a corner,” said a US military official. “We will not eat rockets all day and keep quietly watching when some of us are killed.” The US has sent between 5,000 and 7,000 extra troops to Iraq.

ISIS is no longer a big problem for Iraq

Iraq has changed so much because of the protest movement, that ISIS may no longer be an important challenge. The sectarian polarization from which ISIS benefited has faded. Moreover, now that many Sunnis have experienced a double trauma due to the draconian control of ISIS and the subsequent military campaign to recapture their territories, most of them no longer want to have anything to do with the terror group. The Iraqi security forces, in turn, have somewhat curtailed their sectarian excesses and forged a better relationship with the Sunnis.

Despite these reasons for optimism, securing peripheral areas where ISIS is still active remains necessary. But that is a task that should be entrusted to the Iraqi armed forces. The government still needs to rebuild the economies and public services of the areas devastated by the war against ISIS so that displaced persons can return. Healing the wounds of this conflict remains difficult. The judicial approach of the Iraqi government after ISIS threatens to deepen the contradictions in the country. “ISIS Families”: Citizens with alleged family ties to ISIS militants, who have been expelled from their homes, are in danger of becoming a permanently stigmatized underclass.

And as if there are not enough problems already, the Iraqi government must also provide an answer to reports that predict bleak economic prospects and a financial crisis in 2020. The military fight against ISIS was expensive and has exhausted the state treasury. The reconstruction of affected areas such as Nineve, Anbar and Salahaddin and the housing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who remain displaced by the fighting will be even more expensive.

The “lost youth” of Iraq take the future into their own hands

On October 1, young protesters appeared on Tahrir Square in Baghdad to express their dissatisfaction with the unlivable situation in their country. “No future”, “Iraq is done”, “Iraq is finished”, were often heard statements by young Iraqi people, who fled en masse from the country in search of a safe haven where they could build a meaningful future. According to a recent poll, the number of young people who absolutely wanted to leave the country had risen from 17% to 33% between 2012 and 2019. Since the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq in 2011, there have been continuous peaceful protests against what the Iraqi anti-occupation movement calls “the second face of the occupation”: the neoliberal economic structures and the sectarian corrupt political structures, a country which remained under control of imperialism. Those protest actions have had no effect so far. But that could soon change.

In the months prior to the October mass demonstrations, university graduates organized sit-ins at various ministries in Baghdad, often together with graduates from other cities. Security forces unleashed hot-water cannons on the sit-ins that were held from June to September.

Instead of giving in to the demands of the young people, the authorities launched a campaign to demolish homes and shops of unemployed and poor workers built on state-owned property in the southern cities of Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their homes, including some who had bought their land from militias or corrupt government officials. Most of them had used up all their savings, had incurred debts or relied on the help of their social network.

On 22 September, a small group of civilian activists in Iraq called to demonstrate on 1 October. They had no idea that their call would result in a general uprising.

The call, which insisted on the need to get out on the street against “the poorly functioning government”, was spread through various social media and was supported by the Al-Hikma Islamic Current, an Islamic Shiite political organization.

The established parties responded differently to the call. The Ba’athists announced that they could seize the opportunity to regain power. Muqtada al-Sadr noted that the end of the current government was near. The Workers Communist Party of Iraq (WCPI) warned the masses against participation in what they saw as protests organized by the Islamic parties. On the eve of October 1, there was a lot of confusion about who exactly was behind the call.

The protest would take place on Tuesday at 10 a.m. – a deliberate choice to distinguish the action from the Friday meetings organized by the Sadrists as well as to disrupt a working day (Friday is Iraq’s closing day). In the first hours of the demonstration on Tahrir Square in Baghdad, there were only a few hundred demonstrators. Most were supporters of the popular former commander of counterterrorism forces, General Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, who were angry with the government’s decision to degrade him.

Soon other demonstrators filled the square. Around noon, the government started using violence against the protesters, first in the form of water cannons and tear gas, and later they used live ammunition. When at least 10 protesters were killed after the first day of protest, the uprising spread to all southern Shiite provinces, including the important oil port of Umm Qasr near Basra, reducing economic activity by more than 50 percent. Since the uprising in October, protesters have blocked access to oil fields in the southern cities of Basra, Nasiriyah and Missan and closed the main roads to ports to paralyze the oil trade. On November 2, the blockade of the Umm Qasr port, the most important access to Iraq, had already cost the government nearly $ 6 billion.

Iranian-sponsored Arab Shiite militias joined the government’s security forces and shot the protesters at random. Death squads faced unarmed demonstrators and every day protesters were shot. The government blacked out social media, shut down the internet, and announced a curfew in various cities. The demonstrators erected barricades and burned tires to prevent militia and government forces from entering their neighborhoods. The fight went on. An Iranian-sponsored militia, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, controlled the main access to Tahrir Square, the central square in Baghdad, and shot at demonstrators who were trying to reach the square. A new militia supported by Iran, Saraya al-Khorasani, attacked the al-Ghazaliya district in Baghdad, bombed a hospital and killed people in their homes.

On October 6, dozens of women and children were killed in Sadr City, the poorest district of Baghdad. Other cities also turned into a battlefield. Protesters set fire to the Islamic Shiite party offices in Nasiriyah and Missan and proclaimed Nasiriyah a city free of government parties. The deterrent effect of the government’s violent repression – along with its allegations of foreign influence – could not stop the protests, on the contrary, more and more people came to the streets. Protesters decided on October 25 to launch a new wave of demonstrations to honor the victims.

In Baghdad, the mobilization was initially motivated by socio-economic motives. The first demonstrators were unemployed youth from the Shiite east side of the city. Many have gone on a general strike to support the protesters and Iraqi unions are organizing events on Tahrir Square to support the protests. In southern Shiite Iraq, teachers’ unions have led a general strike movement in most schools and universities. Civil society students and organizations have also joined the second wave of protest that began on 25 October. Resistance to the political elite includes all social classes. It has become the largest grassroots movement in the modern history of Iraq. Millions of demonstrators take part in the daily actions and demonstrations.

On October 25, protesters and government forces faced each other on the Al-Jumhuriya bridge in Baghdad and two other bridges over the Tigris River that lead to the Green Zone. The demonstrators succeeded in occupying these strategic bridges, where government buildings, villas of top officials, embassies and offices of military mercenaries and other foreign agencies are located. Protesters attempting to move from Tahrir Square to the Green Zone were confronted with extreme violence: government forces used skull-piercing tear gas canisters, sound bombs and live ammunition. The Green Zone covers an area of ​​142 hectares and houses the US embassy of 750 million dollars, which was formally opened in January 2009 with a staff of over 16,000 people, mostly contractors, but including 2,000 diplomats.

The courage and creativity of the mass demonstrators are remarkable. Drivers of tuk-tuks – motorized three-wheeled rickshaws – have transported injured people from Tahrir Square to nearby hospitals. Civil society organizations, trade unions and political groups have set up tents on the square to provide logistical support, medical services, food and water supplies, helmet distribution, educational sessions and more. Doctors, nurses and medical students offer treatment to wounded and sick people on the square day and night. When protesters made a call to bring food to the square, families, restaurant owners, shopkeepers and others outside the camp flooded the protesters with food. The unemployed, the handicapped, members of Baghdad tribes and surrounding areas, academics, the Workers Communist Party of Iraq, the current Al-Sadr party, women’s organizations, opposition members of Parliament, the Iraqi Communist Party – all are involved in the mass demonstrations.

The majority of demonstrators grew up during the US invasion and occupation and the ongoing violence that followed. A banner from a young demonstrator reads: “We are a generation born in your wars, we spent our youth in your terrorism, our adolescence in your sectarianism and our youth in your corruption. We are the generation of stolen dreams and premature aging”. To the question: “How often have you felt so depressed in the past six months that nothing could encourage you?”, 43.7% of Iraqi respondents in the 2019 poll answered: “often” and 39.3% “sometimes” . This says something about the desperation of the Iraqi youth.

Absent in the current protests are the established political parties. These youth protests came as a surprise for them. The influence of well-known clergymen on the course of the protests, such as Great Ayatollah al Sistani and Moqtada al Sadr, has decreased considerably.

Moqtada al Sadr’s attempt to calm down the protesters by announcing that his followers would leave the parliament in solidarity with the protesters did not change the situation much. Protesters criticized the lack of solidarity by the two most important religious institutions in Iraq. They asked: “where is your duty to the Iraqi people, your dedication to piety and faith? Is the anthem played by a lady on the violin worse than killing hundreds of Iraqis?” They referred to an event a few months ago in which both Sunni and Shiite institutions protested against a woman playing the violin during the opening of a sports event in Najaf, because they felt that this was against the “true faith.”Iraq Gives the US Its Marching Orders. What Part of “Go Home” Don’t You Understand?

Repression

The protest escalated within a few days with hundreds of deaths and thousands wounded. Party and government offices were set on fire in various cities.

General Qasem Soleimani (image on the right), commander of the forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and architect of the Iranian regional policy visited Baghdad several times since 1 October to discuss the strategy against the uprising with the Iraqi leaders, including Haidi Al Amiri, who heads one of the largest parliamentary blocs in Iraq and the Badr organization supported by Iran.

Most of the deaths are caused by machine gun fire and snipers, randomly in the crowd and on identified protest leaders. Amnesty International stated that security forces in Baghdad had deployed military-grade tear gas shells “to kill demonstrators instead of dispersing them.” These 40 mm shells are, according to Amnesty’s analysis, Serbian Sloboda Ĉaĉak M99 shells, but also M651- tear gas shells and M713 smoke shells produced by the Defense Industries Organization (DIO) of Iran Commissioner Yousra Rajab of the Iraqi parliamentary human rights commission said government forces used CF gas bombs containing poisons that cause blindness, miscarriages in pregnant women, strokes and burns that can lead to death.

The Iraqi army admitted on Monday 7 October that it had shot at demonstrators in Baghdad. “Excessive violence was used and we have begun to hold the commanding officers who have committed these crimes responsible,” the statement said. It was the first time since the outbreak of protests that security forces acknowledged that they had used excessive force.

The government sent the military anti-terrorism troops to Nasiriyah and the situation was initially resolved without further violence. But then came November 28. The security forces raided the demonstrators in Nasiriyah at night, killing at least 46 people and injuring many more.

An eyewitness: “They opened fire non-stop. They recaptured the bridge within five minutes … because they didn’t stop shooting, people ran away. I saw at least five people die before me. Everyone who was shot and killed was left on the street and the troops beat everyone they had captured. I saw them beating people as if they wanted to kill them. It was a catastrophe.

“We ran into houses to hide. The armed forces said through their loudspeakers: “If someone is hiding in a house, come outside or we will blow up the houses”. We had to come out. They were still shooting. They arrested and chased the remaining protesters to al-Habboobi square, the traditional place for the protests. But many residents of the city had gathered there to protect the protesters: men, women and children. The shooting went on until 7 a.m. ”

“The scenes from Nasiriyah this morning look more like a war zone than a city with streets and bridges. This brutal attack is only the last in a long series of fatal events in which Iraqi security forces have acted terribly violently against largely peaceful demonstrators,” said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East director at Amnesty International.

Security forces have launched a widespread campaign of night-time raids, arresting protesters. While some have vanished without a trace, others were subjected to torture and only released after being forced to sign pledges promising to stop participating in protests.

The security forces also resort to enforced disappearances as a way of creating an atmosphere of fear and paranoia among demonstrators. They have targeted medics, lawyers and journalists in particular. In addition, activists and journalists have received warnings that their names would be added to blacklists if they did not stop criticizing the authorities. Security forces have also infiltrated demonstrations, deliberately inciting violence and surveilling activists.

The authorities have systematically prevented information about human rights violations in the context of protests from getting out, including through sustained internet blackouts and the muzzling of government institutions. Paramilitary groups sent their militants to television channels that reported on the protests to destroy their equipment and studios. They attacked wounded protesters in hospitals and kidnapped and threatened journalists, doctors and everyone who supported the demonstrations. The Iraqi Communications and Media Commission issued warnings to five TV channels and decided to close nine others, as a direct result of their coverage of demonstrations. Despite constant reports of kidnappings, arrests and killings, definitive figures and exact information are not available.

Iraqi professor Kamel Abdul Rahim:

“I have never been convinced that Iranian General Qasim Soleimani played a major role in Iraqi politics, but the slaughter committed yesterday (November 28) in al-Nasiriya and Najaf (where at least 69 people were killed) ), a massacre that will no doubt spread to Tahrir Square in Baghdad, is a blatant expression of the way Soleimani views Iraq as an Iranian province. The Iranian ruling administration will never accept its loss in Iraq. They could possibly accept the loss of Yemen or Lebanon and even Syria … but Iraq is the red line.”

“Adel Abdul Mahdi, the generals and the other warlords, the entire political class … they all chose the deadly recipe of Soleimani. We are on the threshold of a bloody phase. The Trump government opted for silence and perhaps approved Soleimani’s plan. After all, there is a great consensus between the two “enemies” America and Iran. The theater for their conflict is Iraq ”.

“Iraqi citizens are the new threat to their common agenda because they oppose this imposed system. The Iraqi citizen has become a burden and the Iraqi people can only count on themselves to bring about change.”

Washington’s silence

Ironically, both Washington and Tehran oppose the protesters’ demand for the abolition of the regime. The position of the US is clear in support of the regime, as evidenced by the telephone conversation that US Foreign Minister Pompeo had with Iraqi Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi, on the sixth day of the protests, in which he spoke about “the power and depth of the strategic relations between the two countries”, while the blood of the killed protesters had not yet dried up.

The US Department of Foreign Affairs, which is largely concerned with securing the US bases, had initially not commented on the bloody repression of the demonstrators. However, at the end of October, after it was reported that Iran had concluded an agreement with the major Iraqi political parties to keep Mahdi in power and suppress the protests even harder, Washington began to talk about “respecting the demands of the protesters.”

The Atlantic Council, a pro-American think tank on international relations, explains precisely why the US remains so silent about the uprisings in Iraq: “Should the government decide to undertake real reform, it will need support from the international community. On this point, the United States needs to be careful. While calls from the US Embassy to avoid violence are certainly appropriate, it is important to remember that Iraqis are not just tired of Iranian meddling, but anyone’s. While the United States, so far, does not seem to be the focus of the protests, a recent Iraqi opinion poll showed a favorability rating for the United States at 22 percent, which at least was higher than the Iranians, who were at 16 percent. The poll also noted, however, that nearly 43 percent of Iraqis believe the United States influences Iraq in a significant way and that 53 percent believe the 2003 invasion’s purpose was to “occupy Iraq and plunder its wealth.” These numbers suggest that a strong, visible response from the United States could just make things worse.”

An Iraqi uprising initiated by the Shia population

Protests against the Shiite-led government originated in the central and southern provinces of Iraq, which have traditionally been the backbone of Iranian influence in the country. But this is not a Shiite uprising. This is an Iraqi uprising. The Sunni Arabs in Iraq tried to put an end to this system, but failed. Their protests in 2013 led to the emergence of ISIS and the destruction of their cities.

In the capital, sit-ins and strikes by students symbolizes the hope of a young generation that yearns for a non-sectarian policy. But in the south, where militia-backed militias are stronger than the state or the state itself, and where a party or militia can dominate the security apparatus, the anger of the people is even greater.

In Amara, for example, a crowd burned the headquarters of a powerful Iranian-backed militia. Guards opened fire, and during subsequent collisions, demonstrators pulled the wounded commander of the militia out of an ambulance and killed him.

Protesters stormed the Iranian consulate in Najaf, the seat of the powerful Shiite clergy of Iraq. They accused the Iraqi authorities of turning against their own people to defend Iran.

The Guardian reported on 29 November: “In the beginning, only a few dozen people protested,” says a 22-year-old demonstrator in al-Shatrah. “But when the locals heard the bullets and saw that their boys were killed, they left their homes. It became a matter of honor. We decided to free our cities from these parties.”

Many of the most powerful Iraqi politicians and militia commanders come from the south. The youth in the region formed the backbone of the Shiite militias who fought against the Islamic State (ISIS). Anger towards the militias and political parties began, activists say, with the defeat of ISIS, when young men returned from the front lines and discovered that their commanders had become warlords and had accumulated wealth and business contracts.

“So many politicians and officials come from this region, and yet this is a very poor province,” said Mohamed, a human rights activist and anti-corruption campaigner. “During the elections, politicians give people blankets and a few phone cards, give a few men a job with the police, repair a road … that’s how they win votes. After 16 years of Shiite rule, the children now say it was better under Saddam. ”

“Who are the Hashd al Shaabi? Our children were the Hashd. These politicians and commanders climbed on their backs to achieve their goal and gain power and wealth. ”

For Mohamed, “the status of the Shiite clergy has collapsed. If a militia commander now would come to the square, he would be beaten with shoes.” In the south, some of the most bloody incidents have occurred since the uprising began.

Iraq is governed by power sharing between religious and ethnic parties. Each party has their own militias, which are also internally divided and who want to obtain as much economic and political power as possible. Militia leaders who belong to these groups sit on administrative boards and control the ports, borders, oil fields, trade, etc.

The city of Basra is a good example, where the Shi’a Muslim Al-Dawa party controls the Al-Burjisiya oil field, the Sheeba and Al-Muthanna gas fields, the Basra International Airport and the Umm Qasr seaport. Another group, consisting of Asaib Ahl al-Haq and the Badr militia, controls the port of Abu Flous and the railway line. The Sadrist militia controls the stadium of the city and the Al-Shalamcheh border crossing with Iran. Al-Hikma, a Shiite Islamic block, guards the North Al-Rumaila oil field, the port of Al-Maqal and the border crossing with Safwan with Kuwait. Other areas such as the port of Khor Al-Zubair and the rectorate of Basra University are controlled by clans such as the Al-Battat.

Business contracts only go to people or companies that are affiliated with the ruling parties and their militias. Corruption is widespread, law enforcement is completely absent. Political parties and their militias flourish by using state revenues to enrich themselves, ranging from factories and agriculture to tourism, Islamic banking and private schools. Bribes for state contracts with foreign companies are channeled through the parties and militias that control the ministries.

In the predominantly northern Sunni areas of the province of Anbar and Mosul, which were bombed during the war against ISIS, people are not yet en masse on the streets. This is not because of a lack of support, but because of the repressive action against any sign of opposition. Even those in the region who have expressed their solidarity on Facebook are being arrested by security forces, while the authorities have made it clear that anyone who opposes the government will be treated as “terrorist” and ISIS sympathizer.

Regarding the position of the Kurds, the Kurdish leaders fear that they will be on the losing side if any change would occur in the current political system because an amendment to the Iraqi constitution would affect their guaranteed rights. They are therefore not opposed to the Iraqi government and Prime Minister Mahdi.

An uprising of the Iraqi youth

The current uprising was initially dominated by young people between the ages of 17 and 23. The younger generations no longer believe in political parties and the country’s leaders. At Tahrir Square in Baghdad, protesters have set up a “wall of wishes”, Reuters reported on 26 November. “I hated Iraq before October 25, now I am proud of it,” said 16-year-old Fatima Awad. “We used to have no future and no one would protest because everyone was scared. Now we are all gathered in Tahrir Square,” she added.

Unemployment is particularly high among graduates, the vast majority of whom are looking for work in the public sector because the private sector is so weak. Pathogenic factors associated with unemployment are increasing, including suicide, drug addiction and depression. Unemployment has boosted organized crime and has encouraged many young men to join militias.

In addition to the economic slump, the social fabric of Iraq has crumbled since the US-led invasion in 2003. The occupation exacerbated the destruction Iraq had already suffered as a result of the Gulf War of 1991, the bombing campaigns of the 1990s by the United States and the UK , and the murderous economic embargo since 1990. But despite this bleak reality, it is the youth of Iraq who are the driving force behind the ongoing protests.

The hope for a better future not only lives within Iraq, but also among the Iraqis in the diaspora. From Sydney to Toronto and also in Belgium, solidarity campaigns are being organized with the revolts. Sundus Abdul Hadi, an Iraqi-Canadian artist and author wrote in Medium.com on 1 November: “I would say that most of us in the diaspora have been completely seized or even obsessed with what is happening in our motherland. We are with heart and soul with the people in Iraq. Without social media I don’t know what I would do. It gives us the opportunity to make direct contact with people in Iraq, to ​​share their vision and experiences. This I’d say that most of us in the diaspora have been completely absorbed, if not obsessed, with what is going on in our motherland. We are living it, body and soul, with the people in Iraq. If it wasn’t for social media, I don’t know what I’d do. It is giving us an opportunity to connect directly with people in Iraq, to share their vision and experiences. This is in complete contrast to the one-dimensional and one-sided images that came out of the Iraq war in 2003 from embedded journalists. (…) This revolution is also for those of us outside of Iraq, who are displaced or exiled, always longing to return, living in our nostalgias and traumas. It is for the Iraqis that have been robbed of a land to return to, of a homebound future to lay claim to. It is for the Iraqis, like me, who gave birth to children in faraway countries, whispering into their ears that they are Iraqi despite the fact that Iraq is an illusory, mythical place plagued by war and instability.”

At the front of the square, on the edge of the Jumhuriya Bridge, is the 14-storey “Turkish restaurant building” that overlooks Tahrir Square and the Jumhuriya Bridge (which leads to the Green Zone) and is the beating heart of the revolution. It has now been taken over by the young demonstrators who vowed not to leave the building. There are checkpoints at all entrances to the building and Tahrir Square where young volunteers check the possession of weapons that are prohibited at all times on the square. Each floor has a different function: one for the artists and the painters, one for the musicians, one for a library, one for security, etc. The building has been abandoned since 2003 after it was bombed in 2003 and never rebuilt. On all floors there are sleeping places, toilets are built and there is a cleaning service.

A demand for system change and restoration of national identity

Iraq suffers under the capitalist privatization process that pro-consul Bremer introduced after 2003 and was not abolished by successive Iraqi governments. The demonstrators demand – perhaps unknowingly – a return to the welfare state created by the Ba’ath regime, where the Iraqi population had a much higher standard of living than today. The polarization between the elite and the people is caused by the neoliberal economic policy (privatization, job crisis, etc.) and the militarization of the economy.

The most radical demand on Tahrir Square is the dismantling of this entire sectarian, political, Islamic system and an end to the country’s foreign control. This is the first and most important demand. The people want to change the constitution, expel the ruling political parties, abolish sectarian election rules, cancel all treaties with the World Bank. The people want to regain their sovereignty, expel the US army and its bases, expel the Iranian presence, expel the Turkish army, internationalize the issue of the Tigris and the Euphrates. The protesters want a separation of religion and politics. The young Iraqis use words such as citizenship, social justice, as opposed to the religious or ethnic identity that the influential clergy and rulers have imposed on the Iraqi people. The US occupation has done everything to erase the national Iraqi identity and to keep the country ethnically and religiously divided, which has given rise to bloody sectarian conflicts. But that tactic no longer works.

In a piece originally published in German by Rosa-Luxemburg-Foundation, Ansar Jasim and Schluwa Sama reported from Tahrir Square. “This is a movement of all of us, your origin does not play a role here, we are all suppressed by one political class,” an activist explains. Posters that prohibit any sectarian language are everywhere. Instead, people make references to elements that have played a unifying role in history, and Islamic and Christian symbols and drawings adorn Tahrir square.

Cuneiform script and figures from the Mesopotamian heritage of the region are also visible. Protesters do not have an exclusive Arab-Islamic identity as before, but want an identity that reflects the diversity of the country. Time and again they talk about all the different social, ethnic and religious groups that are present on the Square.

The demonstrations are supported by all religious and ethnic groups. The Mandaeans support the demands of the protesters and hand out food, the Chaldean Catholic church patriarch of Babylon Louis Raphael I Sako canceled a planned interview in Hungary and chose to “stay in Baghdad during this difficult time.” In a joint statement, Sako and other leaders of Christian communities thanked “the young men and women, the future of Iraq, for their peaceful protests and for breaking the country’s sectarian barriers and emphasizing the Iraqi national identity.”

Arabic next to Kurdish slogans are everywhere on the square. A Kurdish-Arabic tent invites demonstrators for free tea. There is also great solidarity from the Yezidi community, which sends money, but also brings food and water to the square. Even if they do not have a direct, visible presence on the square, they express their support for change that could lead to a renewed Iraqi identity.

But the religious leaders who run the country are not welcome in the square, with some even denouncing Moqtada al Sadr and others who are held co-responsible for the looting of the country. “Don’t ride the wave, Moqtada” is therefore a popular slogan, as well as “In the name of religion, politicians act like thieves!”

the resignation of Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, an apparent concession to the demonstrators, has not paralyzed the movement. It was too little and too late, they claim. Their demand is an entirely new political system, not the removal of one person.

No to “Muhasasa”

The Iraqi constitution has caused anger among the Iraqi people since 2005 and has given rise to continuous protests. “No to Muhasasa, no to political sectarianism,” protesters in Tahrir Square sang after the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi at the end of November 2019. The divisive constitution has anchored “Muhasasa” in Iraqi society. Muhasasa is the system for distributing public offices, political positions and state resources along ethnic-sectarian lines between parties that are part of the ruling elite of the country.

One of the biggest ailments of the Muhasasa, according to Iraqi demonstrators and experts, is that it has driven the sectarian tensions and broke down the social fabric by putting ethnic-sectarian identities in the foreground.

Although the muhasasa was introduced by the United States after the 2003 invasion, the foundations of the system were laid in the early 1990s by Iraqi opposition groups, which worked out a system for proportionate representation of Sunni, Shiites, Kurds and other ethnic sectarian groups in Iraq.

Prof. Saad Naji Jawad has written extensively about the disastrous Iraqi Constitution. I draw from his analysis. When US pro-consul Paul Bremer ​​arrived in Baghdad in May 2003, he had no prior knowledge of Iraqi politics, but immediately began issuing his 100 orders, many of which are still in force today. Bremer also formed a governing body, the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), consisting of people selected on the basis of sect, ethnic background and, most importantly, their loyalty to the US. It was the first time in Iraq’s history that agreements were made on a sectarian and ethnic basis. 65% of the IGC members had dual nationality.

The IGC appointed a committee to review the draft for a new constitution. This draft was strongly influenced by American political interests and written by American advisers, in particular the Jewish professor Noah Feldman and Peter Galbraith, assisted by two emigrated Iraqis who had the American and British nationality and had not lived in Iraq since childhood. None of the authors was an expert in constitutional law. The document itself was written in English and was poorly translated into Arabic.

The committee lacked representatives of civil society organizations and the committee’s discussions were not made public. The committee appointed advisers, mostly foreigners, whose names were never disclosed. A few days after their appointment, two Sunni members of the editorial committee and an adviser who objected to the proposed draft were murdered. A few days later, another Sunni committee member was kidnapped and killed. The result was that the Sunni representatives stopped their participation and demanded an investigation into the murder of their colleagues.

The important items in the document were not even discussed. However, the Kurdish members had clear ideas about what they wanted and had a team of American and European experts who advised them.

The IGC was asked to approve the constitution and did so with only minor changes. The Council’s main objection was that the new law did not refer to Islam as the state’s official religion, and Article 7 was included at their insistence.

“Sect” is mentioned a number of times in the Constitution (for example, Articles 12 and 20). This divisive word was never included in earlier Iraqi constitutions and its use was rejected by a large number of Iraqis. The only Iraqis who agreed to use the term were those who participated in the political process.

Iraqis were not aware of the details of the document because no public version was available. Some Iraqi constitutional law experts and academics pointed out the dangers of divisive clauses, based on the very few press releases, but these critics were threatened by police and unknown militias.

The constitution stipulates that in the event of inconsistencies between central laws and laws of a regional government, priority is given to the laws of the local government. This is perhaps the only time in modern constitutional history that such a hierarchy has been established. Immediately after the adoption of the constitution, the Kurdish federal region issued its own local constitution, which contained many clauses that contradicted those of the central government, especially regarding the exploitation of national and regional wealth, such as the oil.

Iraqi women were dissatisfied with the Constitution because the 1959 Progressive Personal Status with all its advanced amendments was canceled (Article 41).

In October 2005, Iraqis voted on a permanent constitution that they had not seen, read, studied, discussed or drafted. Even worse is that they voted for an incomplete document. They followed the instructions of their political and religious leaders and the majority did not realize that this document would become a major source of misery.

The provision in the Constitution to keep the central government weaker than the regional authorities has caused a chronic problem for the state. The Iraqi political discourse has centered on ethnicity and religion instead of Iraqi citizenship. The various components within Iraq have great autonomy and pursue an independent foreign policy. For example, there is no objection to the declared alliance policy between the leaders of the Barzani tribes and Israel. An Iraqi politician, such as Al-Alusi, can visit occupied Palestine – at the invitation of the occupying government – and speak and openly call for an alliance with Israel. Al-Alusi was himself one of those responsible for the de-Ba’athification, a decision that blew up the Iraqi state.

No wonder that for the Iraqis this constitution remains controversial. The debate continues about the ambiguity of most articles. The constitution has undermined the unity and survival of the Iraqi state.

The role of the trade unions in the uprising

Trade unions are present in the protests, but not in the forefront. Months before the uprising broke out, public sector employees in Central and Southern Iraq, including textile workers in Diwaniyah, municipal workers in Muthanna and leather workers in Baghdad, formulated demands for better wages and safe working conditions, decent housing and permanent jobs. But these demands have faded into the background since the protests began.

At a meeting in Basra on October 28, trade unions of lawyers, teachers and employees formed a committee that urged other trade unions to support the demonstrator’s demands rather than their own sectoral demands. According to them, the role of the trade unions would be more effective if they would show their solidarity with the demonstrators instead of playing a leading role in the historical uprising.

Most, if not all, trade unions have issued press releases to support the protest movement. The General Federation of Iraqi Trade Unions (GFITU, the only official federation in present-day Iraq, dominated by the Sadrists) called for “solidarity” with the insurrection without asking the workers to participate in the demonstrations. The GFITU advised the demonstrators to “protect public property and maintain good contact with security forces”. The General Federation of Workers’ Unions in Iraq (GFWUI) condemned the government’s violent action and organized pickets outside oil companies and refineries in Basra, Nasiriyah, and Misan, and also held demonstrations in Baghdad and Babel. The GFWUI also set up tents in Nasiriyah and militants brought food and drink for the demonstrators.

In a mass meeting at the Basra Oil Company, the unions demanded an end to the repression. However, the local section promised to continue production and remove the demonstrators who blocked access. The most militant action is done by the unemployed and the poor workers, not by oilworkers, who are severely punished when they strike.

So far, the most precarious demonstrators have received the hardest blows. The poor, the unemployed, the people who have nothing to lose, are the ones who occupy the front lines and defy riot police, militias and even Iranian paramilitary forces. But to bring about real change, the organized working class will have to play a greater role in the movement if the Iraqi people want a state that actually defends their interests.

All social classes participate in demonstrations

On Tahrir Square, bakers, restaurateurs, doctors and nurses, hairdressers, etc., all offer their services free of charge. Families from all classes and neighborhoods are demonstrating together under the hashtag نازل_اخذ_حقي# (I am demonstrating to claim my rights). Hordes of students leave high schools and universities to participate in the protests. Trade unions have joined the uprising. According to a poll conducted last year, 77% of the Iraqi people supported the uprising of 2018 (in Iraqi Kurdistan it was 53%). The support for the current revolution will be probably higher.

But especially the Tuk Tuk drivers have become the symbol of the revolution par excellence. The Tuktuk is a three-wheeled vehicle that serves as a taxi for the poor, but is now a symbol of the revolution itself. Tuktuks are not only depicted on the walls around the square, songs are written about them and even the newspaper of the revolution, which reports on all activities in the square, is called Tuktuk. Tuktuk drivers were previously socially marginalized and discriminated against. They are mostly young, underage drivers who have no other choice than to do this job, given the high unemployment and widespread poverty.

Now they transport wounded demonstrators and also have a logistical function. They are the only vehicles that are allowed on Tahrir square. The increased social recognition is reflected in more and more donations from other protesters, mainly from other social classes. This is necessary, because these young drivers often offer their services free of charge.

Another group on which the Iraqis have changed their opinion since 1 October are the residents of the southern province of Dhi Qar. Some of the most aggressive protests have taken place here, where protesters have set fire to political party offices and have gained a degree of control over the provincial capital Nasiriyah. In the meantime, the demonstrators of Dhi Qar have gained heroic status among their countrymen. This is despite the fact that the inhabitants of the city have had a bad reputation for decades. They are often described as “bad” fruits that have fallen from the “cursed tree.” If someone did something bad somewhere, it was often said that the person “probably comes from Nasiriyah”.

Since the demonstrations started, the people of Nasiriyah were praised for their courage. “We, the Baghdad demonstrators, have been trying to cross the bridge to the Green Zone for weeks,” is a slogan in Tahrir Square. “We are now asking our fellow demonstrators in Nasiriyah to help us do that faster.”

Women are prominently present in the revolution

Women have long been marginalized and silenced by conservative Islamists and now they have decided to finally make themselves heard. They joined the protest movement en masse. In a society where sexes do not normally mix, protesting alongside men means that a taboo has been broken. This is also a revolution against outdated traditions and norms. Men and women walk hand in hand, hug each other and people even kiss. This is unseen. There is no doubt that the uprising is a turning point for women, but the road to their freedom and rights is still full of obstacles. Breaking the artificial barrier between men and women is one of the most beautiful and significant outcomes of this historic uprising. The women come from all sectors of society, with or without headscarves, Muslims, Christians, young people, the elderly, middle-class and working-class women, housewives … they all participate, in the front lines or as logistical supporters. This is a hopeful evolution and no power will be able to reverse it, despite all the efforts and money that political Islam has spent to impose its feudal culture.

The women who demonstrate, offer help and even spend the night on Tahrir Square also feel completely safe. The office of the Iraqi Human Rights Commissioner stated on November 6 that “since the beginning of demonstrations in the various Iraqi provinces, there has been no case of women being harassed despite the participation of thousands of women”.

Iran, the big enemy?

Although Iran itself is threatened by the US and Israel and suffers from a criminal sanctions regime, the country has worked with the US since 2003 to pacify the country and shape the sectarian system. Iranian and American ambassadors have very actively tried to stop any Iraqi attempt at independence. Both the US and Iran must approve the composition of a government after each election in the secure Green Zone. At the same time, the relationships are very conflicting. Both Washington and Tehran fight each other for complete control of Iraq.

It has also become clear that the American mission in Iraq, set up to create a pro-American model for the region and a stronghold against anti-American militantism, has achieved the exact opposite. The defeat of Iraq was intended to illustrate how much the US firepower could intimidate the region and scare off the so-called “rogue states”. Instead, the policy outlined by the neoconservatives, Israel and the oil companies has ironically strengthened Iran’s power, the only regional power to withstand all that pressure, and is now the new “rogue state.” Iran’s regional status has risen in a way that was impossible without this background of failed imperial politics. Mohammad Ali Abtahi, the Iranian Deputy Chairman for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs – at the Conference The Gulf and Future Challenges, held in Abu Dhabi, January 2004 by the Emirate Center for Strategic Research and Studies – clearly explained Iran’s role in the occupation of Iraq. “The fall of Kabul and Baghdad would not have been easy without the assistance of Iran,” Abtahi said about the role of Iranian militias and intelligence in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Iranian threat is now imminent and pro-American authoritarian regimes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan have helped to achieve this.

At the beginning of March 2015, several Arab newspapers reported that Ali Younesi, a senior adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, had declared that Baghdad is the capital of “a new Persian Empire”. “Iran has today become an empire as it has been throughout history and the capital is now Baghdad in Iraq, which reflects the center of our civilization and our culture and identity today, as it was in the past”.

The “ISNA” news agency reported on his intervention in a forum in Tehran entitled “The Iranian Identity”. Younesi said that “Iran and Iraq are geographically indivisible. Younesi, who was the minister of information in President Mohammad Khatami’s ‘reform’ government, denounced anyone opposed to Iranian influence in the Middle East :”We will defend all peoples of the region because we consider them to be part of Iran. We will fight Islamic extremism, fight Takfiri, atheists, neo-Ottomans, Wahhabists, the West and Zionism.”

He emphasized the continuation of Tehran’s support for the Iraqi government and sent a clear message to Turkey: “Our competitors, the historical heirs of the Eastern Roman Empire, the Ottomans, resent our support for Iraq.” Younesi also stated in his speech that his country is planning to establish an “Iranian Federation” in the region: “by Iranian Federation, we do not mean to remove borders but that all nations neighboring the Iranian plateau should be close. I do not mean that we want to conquer the world all over again, but that we must regain our historical position to globally think and act Iranian

To understand the ambiguous position of Iran, we must go back to the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1978-79, initially welcomed by the Iraqi government, because for the two countries the Shah was a common enemy. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, however, saw Saddam Hussein’s secular, Arab-nationalist Ba’ath regime as un-Islamic and “an envoy of Satan”. The call by Khomeini in June 1979 to the Iraqi Shiites to overthrow the Ba’ath regime was therefore badly received in Baghdad. In 1979-1980 there were anti-Ba’ath riots in the Shiite areas of Iraq, and the Iranian government provided extensive support to the Iraqi Shiite militants to unleash an Islamic revolution. The repeated calls for the overthrow of the Ba’ath regime and support for Iraqi Shiite groups by the new regime in Iran was increasingly seen as an existential threat in Baghdad. Iranian pan-Islamism and revolutionary Shia Islamism, against secular Iraqi Arab nationalism were therefore central to the conflict between the two countries. Many of the current rulers in Iraq, including former Prime Minister al-Maliki, returned from Iran to Iraq on the back of the American tanks. Revanchist motifs played a major role. Officers from the former Iraqi army were systematically killed on the basis of death lists. Militias like the BADR Brigades, supported by Iran, sometimes worked together with the US to combat armed resistance, in a particularly brutal way. At other times they turned against the US. The US had no choice but to accept this option so as not to sink further into the Iraqi quagmire.

The Iranian discourse reflects ignorance about the reality of the Arab national identity. It is more important to the Iraqi Shiites than their religious identity. For example, in 1980 Khomeini wrongly thought that the Shiites in the Iraqi army would not fight against Iran and that they would choose Iran’s side because of their religious affiliation. But that didn’t happen. Iran does not seem to realize that the socio-religious rules in Iran are incompatible with the less strict religious behavior of Arab Shiites. This is an element of alienation for Shiite Arabs. The various Iranian statements have also angered the Shiites. 24 “battalions” consisting of 7,500 special police units accompanied more than 3 million Iranians arriving in Karbala province in Iraq to participate in the Arbaeen pilgrimage. Most Iraqi Shiites didn’t like that either..

But the Saudi alternative cannot appeal to the Iraqi Shiites either. The expression of Arab identity or Iraqi identity is the opposite of the reactionary definition of Saudi Wahhabism.

The inhabitants of the Shiite provinces also suffered little from the Anglo/American military campaign that befell the Sunni provinces. No Shiite city has undergone the destruction of Falluja, Ramadi, Mosul, Tikrit and other cities.

Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, stated in October 2019 that the uprisings and demonstrations in Iraq and Lebanon were fueled by foreign powers, a vision also adopted by the Iraqi government and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Khamenei described the demonstrations in a tweet as “a conspiracy that will have no effect!” According to him, this “conspiracy” was led by the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and remnants of the Ba’ath party, to overthrow the government and install a regime under Washington control. Even the highest Shiite religious authority, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, indicated a possible plot in a statement, although he also condemned the violence against the demonstrators.

For months there had been rumors of a US-initiated coup in Iraq. More than two months before the uprising, Qays Khaz’ali, leader of Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), an Iranian-sponsored Shiite militia and political party operating in Iraq, said: “There are plans to change the Baghdad government in November, with protests that will break out in October. Protests will not be spontaneous, but organized by factions in Iraq. Pay attention to my words ”

Sharmine Narwani on October 5, 2019: “Al Akhbar newspaper says the Iraqi government heard 3 months ago about of a planned US-backed coup by military officers, followed by street action. Time to be skeptical about events in Iraq? ”

“Protesters confirm the use of snipers in buildings aimed at demonstrators approaching Tahrir Square. During the US coup in Ukraine in 2014, the same method was used to bring about regime change.” So it was insinuated that the snipers shooting at the demonstrators were allied to the US, while the Iraqi army leadership itself admitted that its armed forces are responsible for the death of the demonstrators.

The claim that some Iraqi officers planned a coup has not been proven. Similarly, there are claims that Iran is planning a takeover of power through its militias. That claim cannot be substantiated either.

The story goes that General Abdul Wahab al-Saadi, commander of anti-terrorism forces, would have visited various embassies to receive support for large-scale demonstrations that would lead to a military coup. He was dismissed from office based on those rumors. However, this story lacks credibility.

General Al-Saadi, who became an Iraqi national symbol in 2015 after leading his troops to decisive victories in the fight against ISIS, received the respect of the Iraqi people for impartiality in the war between Iran and the United States in the military campaign against IS. While Iran was arming, financing, and training many of the militias that formed the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), al-Saadi had no problem refusing Iranian support during his successful attempt to recapture territories on ISIS. At the same time, the General did not hesitate to express his frustration with the American patrons of Iraq and openly stated in the media: “Sometimes they carried out airstrikes that I had never asked for, and at other times I begged them for airstrikes that never came”. In a country where loyalty to foreign powers could make or break military and political careers, al-Saadi’s refusal to take sides made him unique in the eyes of Iraqis. His resignation was one of the reasons for the current protests.

Moreover, al-Saadi was only the number two in the command structure of the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), which is led by General Talib Shaghati. Organizations such as CTS form the core of American strategies in the Middle East to keep the region under control. American forces created and trained and armed CTS during the first years of occupation and General Talib Shaghati has been the head of the CTS since 2007. Shagati’s entire family is housed in the US “for security reasons.” The only possible explanation for the removal of al-Saadi from his position is not that he was planning a coup, but that he placed Iraqi interests above foreign interests.

According to some commentators, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates are funding the protests in Iraq, because where else would the funds come from to distribute free food and drink daily to the thousands of men and women who permanently occupy Tahrir Square? This claim ignores the massive support of the people for the revolts and the enormous solidarity that this revolution generates.

PMF Militias in Iraq were created after the fatwa of the high Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani to fight ISIS terrorists, but after the fighting ended, they shifted their focus to politics and control various government institutions and major parts of the country. They became the second largest formation in the Iraqi government after the 2018 elections, the party of Moqtada al Sadr being the largest.

These “people’s militias” have violently imposed their rule all over Iraq in the areas they control. They enrich themselves in every possible way. Bribes are demanded at checkpoints, especially on roads to areas conquered by ISIS. According to a report from the London School of Economics, militias in only one city generated an estimated $ 300,000 a day in illegal taxes. There are also reports of militias organizing a scrap trade around Mosul and carrying material away to sell instead of supporting the reconstruction of the city.

The militias control the seaport of Umm Qasr and the oil industry has not been spared either. In 2015, militias plundered the Baiji oil refinery, formerly the largest in Iraq. More recently there have been allegations of organized smuggling from oil fields around Mosul and Kirkuk. Militias have been smuggling oil in Basra for a long time and some have signed lucrative contracts with international oil companies.

When asked: “Do you have a positive or negative image of the following countries?”, In a 2019 poll, only 38% of the Iraqi Shiite population had a positive perception of Iran, compared to 86% in 2014. It is impossible to blame US propaganda for this sharp fall in Iran’s perception. The same poll mentions the 3 main reasons for this negative perception: 1) Dumping Iraq with cheap products; 2) Dumping Iraq with Drugs; 3) Supporting different non efficient and corrupt governments.

Of course, the US is the main culprit for the current chaos in Iraq, but Tehran also bears a great responsibility for the damage done to the relations between the Iraqi and Iranian people. The current hostility to Iran does not come out of the blue, but is the result of years of discontent because of Iran’s cooperation with the US occupation forces who together helped to protect government leaders and protect the sectarian quota system, and directly intervened on various occasions to cancel parliamentary decisions. Now that IS has been defeated, the Shiites notice that their reward is a country where the population has fallen even deeper into poverty, while the political and religious elites are pampering themselves with dazzling mansions and spacious country houses abroad, a country where some militias are involved in lucrative smuggling of oil, drugs and human trafficking, where dress codes and religious fatwas are forcefully enforced, a population in poverty while the country floats on a sea of ​​oil.

The US and Saudi Arabia will naturally want to use the current uprising to try to push through their own agenda and insist on regime change. America and Israel are engaged in a total war in the region against all areas under Iranian influence. America does not really have control over the thousands of demonstrators, but it exploits every event and every political development when it serves its interests. However, what we do not read in the Western media is that the protests are also directed against the American presence and also against the interference of Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Adel Abdul Mahdi offered his resignation on November 29 after the massacre in Nassiriyah, Najaf and Baghdad.

Western media versus social media

The US and Saudi Arabia do naturally want to use the current revolution to try to push through their own agenda. America and Israel are engaged in a total war in the region against all areas under Iranian influence. America does not really have control over the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, but it exploits every event and every political development when it serves its interests. We only read anti-Iranian rhetoric in Western media. However, what we do not read in the press is that the protests are equally directed against the American presence and against the interference of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel.

Fortunately, there are social media that bring powerful stories and a human face to the struggle, in a way that has never been done before. There have been desperate attempts by the government to stop the spread of eyewitness accounts on social media by shutting down the internet. However, that did not work.

Banners on Tahrir Square read: “No to America, No to Erdogan, No to Iran, No to Barzani, No to Israeli NGOs”.

Iraqi poet, novelist, translator and scholar Sinan Antoon was born and raised in Baghdad and his most recent novel is entitled “The Book of Collateral Damage”. He said on November 26, “What is really important is the restoration of Iraqi identity and a new sense of Iraqi nationalism that transcends sectarian discourse institutionalized by the United States in 2003”.

“Iran has a lot of influence in Iraq and has infiltrated many of the institutions and supported many of the Iraqi militias, but all of that is a product of the US occupation and invasion of Iraq. While Iran is one of the targets of these demonstrators, it’s important to remember that many of the banners and posters on the Tahrir square say “no” to any foreign intervention. So they say no to Iran, no to Turkey, no to Israel, no to the United States.

But of course the mass media in the United States, because of their geopolitical interests and their continued interference in the region, write only about Iran, and no one denies that Iran supports many of the parties in Iraq financially and otherwise and infiltrates Iraqi society in so many ways. But there are all those other dimensions and, unfortunately, the regular media in the US and also in Europe are very short-sighted and only focus on the influence that Iran exerts on the Iraqi regime.

And that’s correct. But Iraqis want their country back and they want sovereignty and they are against all kinds of interventions. And the Iraqi state, since 2003, is very weak. We have Turkish troops in Iraq, in the north, we have American troops. The demonstrators are really aware of all this and they understand very well – at least based on what they say when they appear in the media – that the interests of Iraq and Iraqis come first and that sovereignty is very important. Of course it will not be taken back in one day, but they realize that the Iranian regime is not the only threat and not the only sponsor of certain forces in Iraq. ”

The Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi, who became famous after throwing two shoes at Bush while shouting, “This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog”, told Euronews that protesters are calling for the fall of the political regime. He also said that they do not want other countries to interfere in Iraq. “The government of the American occupation is rejected. This government has brought disaster to the country … today we want the fall of this political regime and the end of this government”, he explained. “We don’t hate Iran, we don’t hate Saudi Arabia, we don’t hate Turkey. But our message is simple: they must stop interfering with our country. The Iraqi people are a free people”, he said.

“All these human losses, the robbery, the crimes of the Green Zone government are the total responsibility of the US government. They have been protecting that gang of thieves since 2003 with their mercenaries and military bases, just to allow multinational corporations to control Iraq’s oil and other resources”, Souad al-Azzawi, an Iraqi environmental scientist, wrote.

Another comment:” Dear Iraqi sisters and brothers, Americans are working very hard to hijack your demonstrations and use them as an excuse to install an American puppet regime in place of the current regime. Please be vigilant and do not allow Iraq to become a battlefield of world and regional powers.”

Following the revelations in the New York Times and the intercept on November 18, the so-called “control” of Iran over Iraq, an authoritative Iraqi opinion maker wrote:

Some questions …

what are those important secrets that America has unveiled and published in the New York Times, which are not known by the Iraqis ??

  • Is it not America that occupied Iraq and destroyed its national institutions, killed, arrested and displaced millions of people?
  • Is it not the US that created the corrupt sectarian political process and wants to protect and continue it?
  • Is it not the US that has worked for years with Iran and its criminal terrorist militias? The US knows exactly how these gangs came to power; after all they stole billions of dollars together, plundered the wealth of the country, kidnapped innocent people and killed them.
  • Is it not America that controls the space, land, air, security and communication with their spies and knows exactly what is going on, even in the living rooms ???
  • Yes, the US knows all the small and big crimes that Iran and its agents have committed against the people of Iraq since 2003 until now. After all, they were deeply involved and pulled Iran into the Iraqi quagmire.

The rebellious people of Iraq do not need such “revelations” because they rebelled for themselves, their homeland and humanity, after their patience was exhausted and they saw no light at the end of the dark tunnel created by America by its brutal occupation of this country.

Maybe these documents cause a scandal in America, and then they can keep silent about their own role in killing a people and the rape of the country over the years. So these documents should not only be a condemnation of Iran, because Iran is only a partner in the crimes against humanity committed by the US. ”

These are just a few examples to disprove the story of the mass media that the uprising would be aimed primarily at Iran, quod non. The US, but also the Iranian leadership, are terrified of an escalation of this conflict and a possible overthrow of the existing regime, from which they both benefit.

Conclusion

A revolt against the government does not require external conspiracy: all domestic factors for protest, revolt and revolution are present. The Iraqi people have a thousand reasons to revolt against the existing regime. The stigmatization of the uprisings in Iraq as a Zionist-American conspiracy or a Ba’athist uprising is unfair to the hundreds of thousands who want to take their future into their own hands and want to get rid of the political system.

The Iraqi people continue to be a pawn in the game of geopolitical power politics, victims of the hunger for profit of the oil companies and corrupt politicians in an occupied country. Iraqis continue to bear the full burden of 29 years of sanctions, wars, misery, death, destruction, chaos and extreme neoliberalism. The people, however, have always remained alert, have constantly opposed the inhumane situation in which they were forced and want a fairer redistribution of the available resources. The past and present protests also have repeatedly opposed the division of the country, foreign interference and the sectarian structures imposed on them.

There is a continuity in Iraq’s popular resistance since 2003. Iraq is not Ukraine, is not Hong Kong. This is yet another uprising against the Green Zone, the fortified castle where the US, but also Iran, determine the rules of the game through the puppet government they have appointed. Any attempt to turn Iraq into the arena of a US war against Iran must be resisted. The people of Iraq cannot cope with another war.

A new Iraq may be coming, but that will not be welcomed by the American occupier, nor by Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Iraqi authorities, Europe and Iran. The people of Iraq will continue to oppose any foreign occupation and foreign interference and strive for a sovereign Iraq. The first condition is that all foreign troops, mercenaries and foreign counselors leave Iraq.

On a personal note: there is a strong “anti-organization” attitude, a general rejection of political structures and a focus on spontaneity. This attitude is understandable given the demonstrators’ fear of being co-opted by dominant political parties. The slogan “no to political parties” is very popular. The Left and trade unionists in the movement should emphasize that workers should organize themselves politically with a clear program to withstand the pressure of the neoliberal state, the economic elites and the dominant political parties and to remain independent. The lack of organization, the lack of clear alternatives, the political division among the demonstrators, have ensured that the protest movements since 2011 have not led to tangible results, with an absolute low point being the support that some Sunni groups have given to the terror group ISIS. Many demonstrators are young and inexperienced, reject everything, even early elections. They think that the political class will easily give up power, and that afterwards Iraqis will be able to rule themselves freely. Iraq is not a sovereign state, but is dominated by well-organized foreign powers, so the demonstrators should be even better organized if they want this revolution to succeed.

Victory for the demonstrators is not inevitable, perhaps not even likely. But it would be the only just outcome. What happens after a popular uprising is never a certainty, but that should not prevent the peace movement from giving its support to the just demands of the Iraqi people. If this rebellion does not produce the desired results, further rebellions will follow. The Iraqi people want to put an end to foreign interference and the corrupt system that has plunged millions into poverty. These protests are the only guarantee for a long-awaited peace in Iraq. Our solidarity with the justified demands of the Iraqi demonstrators is therefore more than necessary.

“Stay on the streets, never go home, because that is the secret of your success”.

Posted in Middle East, USA, Iran, IraqComments Off on Iraq: The October Revolution of 2019 and the Iran-US Conflict

Syrian Pound hits all time low as US sanctions continue to plague economy: video

Damascus residents reacted to the increase in the price of food and other commodities after the Syrian pound recorded its biggest decline in history on Sunday, reaching the 1,000 barrier against the US dollar.

Footage filmed on Tuesday at Souq al-Hamidia, one of the busiest markets in the Old City of Damascus, shows that despite the fall in the value of the Syrian pound, it was still business as usual with people buying and selling food, spices and other basic commodities. Many locals blame the weak currency on damage to the country’s industry and a series of US economic sanctions on Syria, saying “even if the dollar rate went down, the prices would remain as they are.

“The solution is to set a plan for a production increase. Once the production is increased, it should be exchanged with the foreign currency at the same time, so that we can get revenues for this country,” said the owner of a shop at the market.

According to reports, currency offices were selling dollars on the black market for over 1,000 Syrian pounds for the first time, while the Syrian Central Bank reportedly posted on its website that the official rate of the Syrian pound was 434 to the US Dollar.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Syrian Pound hits all time low as US sanctions continue to plague economy: video

Peace or War?

But logic, let alone common sense, does not always prevail when vested interests are at stake…

By Donald Monaco

Global Research,

The world breathed a sigh of relief when Iran undertook to give the Americans a symbolic ‘slap in the face’ as a response to the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani.  Stepping back from the precipice of war, President Trump responded by intensifying economic sanctions rather than choosing military escalation of the conflict.  The ‘slap’ was more than symbolic however.  It was a bold demonstration that Iran could hit any U.S. base in the Middle East where American troops are sitting ducks.  More significantly, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei took the historical long view by stating that Iran’s ultimate goal was the ejection of U.S. troops from the entire region.

The first troop ejection may begin in Iraq as the parliament recently voted to remove all U.S. forces from the beleaguered country in light of the grim assassinations of General Soleimani and an Iraqi commander of popular militia forces, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, that took place on Iraqi soil.

With the potential withdrawal of troops from Iraq, those stationed in Syria would be placed on thin ice and despite the promises of Defense Secretary Esper to maintain their deployment to protect Syrian oil from ISIS, common sense would dictate that those troops should be withdrawn sooner rather than later for their own protection.

A similar logic would indicate that the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan is also a matter of time due to the tenacious and unceasing guerrilla war waged by the Taliban.  As in Vietnam, a segment of the political leadership in the United States may come to the realization that America’s longest war cannot be won.

But logic, let alone common sense, does not always prevail when vested interests are at stake, especially the material interest coveted by imperialism.  Secretary Esper has already indicated that U.S. troops will remain in Iraq indefinitely to ‘fight ISIS’ and President Trump has threatened Iraq with loss of access to key U.S. Federal Reserve bank accounts and economic sanctions if the troops are ejected.  It should also be noted that Esper’s rationale for keeping troops in Syria to ‘protect Syrian oil from ISIS’ is a transparent lie meant to justify illegal occupation of territory in a sovereign nation for the purpose of stealing its resources.

The American ruling class will never relinquish any portion of the empire unless forced to do so by popular struggle at home and abroad.

Consequently, the removal of U.S. troops from the Middle East becomes a monumental issue facing the American people.  How long will they fuel the empire with their blood and taxes?   Judging from recent presidential elections a significant portion of the population is plainly tired of foreign wars.  Presidential candidates recognize this sentiment and manipulate it to their advantage.

Candidate Bush received enough votes to steal the 2000 election from Al Gore by promising a realistic foreign policy that would restrain the United States from engaging in nation building only to break that promise once elected by launching major conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of a ‘war on terror’ that spilled a sea of blood, unleashed an ocean of tears and wasted trillions of dollars.

Candidate Obama skillfully parleyed the anti-war sentiments generated by Bush’s obscene wars to his advantage by successfully giving voters the impression that he was an anti-war candidate only to proceed as president to expand those wars to seven Muslim countries.  Obama was so successful at spinning pacifist illusions, that he actually won a Noble Peace Prize before proceeding to launch a secret program of drone warfare in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

Although he formally ended Bush’s mis-named ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’, Obama maintained 5,000 troops in Iraq to ‘fight ISIS’.  At the same time that he was drawing down troop levels in Iraq, Obama  ordered a 30,000 troop surge in Afghanistan in 2009.  The Noble Laureate also destroyed Libya with the help of his NATO puppets in 2011 and waged proxy war in Syria beginning in 2012.  Additionally, Obama increased defense spending for the ‘war on terror’ and allocated $1 trillion to modernize America’s nuclear weapons over the next 30 years.  Quite a commitment to militarism for someone who gave the appearance of opposing war.Mapping a World from Hell: 76 Countries Are Now Involved in Washington’s War on Terror

When attempting to understand the division of labor that exists between America’s Republican and Democratic rulers, it is important to fully appreciate the latter’s role of shock absorber in the homeland of imperialism, an undertaking that is designed to co-opt dissent thereby stabilizing the dominant social relations of class and race inequality.  Obama performed the task superbly as evidenced by the fact that during his entire two terms in office there was not one major anti-war protest in the streets of the United States despite the fact that his administration waged war every single day of his presidency.  That is no small accomplishment in a country that spends on average $1 Trillion a year on the military while allowing its public and industrial infrastructure to deteriorate to levels that are beginning to resemble those found in third world countries.

Exit Obama stage left, enter Trump stage right.  Candidate Trump, recognizing the mass discontent that exists in the land of shrinking opportunities, promised rather explicitly to stop waging unnecessary wars in the Middle East whose cost in lives and treasure has become too costly to ignore.  Social reality has a way of eventually invalidating lies and illusions, even in a country that the persistently irreverent and sorely missed writer Gore Vidal once referred to as the “United States of Amnesia”.  Once elected, President Trump discovered to his dismay, that American presidents are not allowed to make peace with Russia or summarily withdraw troops from Syria or Afghanistan without serious push back from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the national security autocracy and even the Democratic party.  Russia-gate, Ukraine-gate and a looming impeachment trial in the U.S. senate stand as prominent examples. Nevertheless, Trump loves the military as evidenced by his advocacy for the third largest sequential increase in defense spending since World War II, Reagan’s being first and Bush Jr.’s being second.

Another question arises with Trump.  How would the United States respond to a lethal attack on its military forces in the Middle East?  Despite sharing many similarities with former President Reagan, not the least of which is the ability to brush off criticism, the current president lacks the pragmatic realism of his predecessor and instead demonstrates a lethal combination of ignorance and arrogance that may, in a time of crisis, override his impulse to avoid war.  It should be recalled that Reagan ordered all U.S. troops out of Lebanon in 1984, several months after a truck bomb attack killed 241 marines in Beirut in October 1983.  Trump’s ego, his tendency to personalize political attacks and massive pressure from the entire military, security and foreign policy establishments, not to mention the militarists in his own party and that of the Democrats, would not allow him to exercise Reagan’s flexibility.  Massive retaliation would be in order.  The stakes are high in a unipolar world where the U.S. hegemon is constrained by asymmetrical warfare.

Turning to those Democrats who currently pose as pacifists, we have presidential candidate Bernie Sanders who, after wandering for months in the never-never-land of media marginalization, sees his campaign beginning to surge after forcefully condemning Trump’s assassination of Soleimani.  For his part, Sanders says the right things by promising to stop war with Iran, bring the troops home from Afghanistan, end the war in Yemen and effect an orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East.

Yet, when the proverbial push comes to shove, he does the opposite by consistently lending support for imperialist war.  As an ‘independent’ senator from Vermont, he voted for the ‘Iran and Libya Sanctions Act’ in 1996, the ‘Iraqi Liberation Act’ in 1998 and the U.S. bombing of Kosovo in 1999.  He voted for the Authorization for Unilateral Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF) in 2001 that gave Bush a congressional blank check to wage the ‘war on terror’ in Afghanistan.  Although he voted against the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution in 2002, he consistently voted for the annual military budgets needed to fight the war.  In 2011 he voted for a Senate resolution condemning human rights violations by Libya and demanded the resignation of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi whom he called a “thug” and a “murderer.”  The Senate resolution also requested the United Nations Security Council to freeze Libya’s assets and establish a no-fly zone over the country to protect civilians.  NATO’s subsequent enforcement of this no-fly zone and its slaughter of Libyan civilians it meant to ‘protect’ is a matter of historical record. In this particular drama, Sanders played the soft cop to Hillary Clinton’s hard cop.  It was Clinton who openly advocated military intervention in Libya to accomplish the same result that Sanders advocated by diplomatic and economic means, namely, regime change.  In the occupied territories of Palestine, Sanders periodically criticizes Israel’s behavior but votes to give military aid to the apartheid state.  Most significantly, he voted for resolutions of support for Israel during its’ wars in Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2014.  And so it goes with Sander’s historically.

Candidate Elizabeth Warren made similar noises by criticizing what she called Trump’s “dangerous” and “reckless” action in Iraq by ordering the assassination of General Soleimani so that she could woo progressive voters.  She was of course, careful to identify Soleimani as a “murderer” who was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans thereby properly genuflecting before the alter of the national security state.  She made no mention of how those ‘Americans’ were functioning as an army of occupation in Iraq in the same way that Trump made no mention of the fact that the “American citizen” recently killed in Iraq was a military contractor.  Once upon a time in this country, there was recognition of the fact that some of our countrymen were not behaving nicely in foreign lands.  Hence, the concept of the ‘Ugly American’ was recognized and condemned.  No more.

The United States is a militarized warfare state with a permanent war economy as Seymour Melman demonstrated decades ago.  The U.S. military empire protects the U.S. corporate empire and the 51st state of Israel.  The problem is systemic.   In a militarized state, the rhetoric of peace always gives way to the reality of war. Why?  Institutionalized power.  The military industrial complex, the national security autocracy, the Israel lobby and most fundamentally, the American corporate plutocracy all exert powerful influences that determine the use of state power.

One thing is certain.  American troops will be coming home from the Middle East.   The question is whether they will be returning in body bags, with seriously injuries, or with body and mind fully intact.  Will they be brought home as the result of war or will they arrive as the result of a peace initiative?

There is an even more profoundly vexing existential question facing the American people.  Will American troops have a country to come home to?  Given the hysterical Russophobia and demonization of Vladimir Putin that exists in this country, how long will it be before a U.S. provocation, possibly in the Middle East, pushes the world to hypersonic nuclear war?

The monumental questions of peace and war in the United States are not going to be decided by electoral politics. They will ultimately be decided by the revolutionary politics of anti-imperialism.  The game of American politics, namely, the use of populist rhetoric to conceal plutocratic governance underscores the urgency of resurrecting a militant anti-war movement that will confront an American imperialist system that fights perpetual wars for perpetual profits.

Posted in Middle East, USA, Iran, IraqComments Off on Peace or War?

Pompeo and the “Mafia Hit Strategy”

Pompeo said during a speech at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute “there was ‘a bigger strategy’ behind the killing of Soleimani.

By Kurt Nimmo

Global Research,

The USG Mafia hit on Qassem Soleimani is part of a larger murder campaign, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

For the former tank commander, murder—not simply double-tapping the target with a firearm, but blowing him into meaty chunks with a Hellfire missile—is “real deterrence.” 

Pompeo said during a speech at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute “there was ‘a bigger strategy’ behind the killing of Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, Iran’s elite foreign espionage and paramilitary force.

The USG Mafia Hit Strategy on steroids is not confined to threatening Iran, however. Pompeo eluded to Russia and China’s leaders being assassinated. 

Pompeo didn’t come out and say Trump’s government will steer Hellfire missiles specifically at Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, or even Kim Jung-un. The message, however, is inescapable, especially for folks opposed to neoliberal crony capitalist domination of their national economies, industries, public services, and natural resources

Iran wants a nuke to prevent an attack by the USG in collaboration with the Zionist government in Israel. Ditto, North Korea. It remembers when the USG bombed virtually every city, town, and hamlet in the country and killed a third of the population. No doubt the mullahs in Tehran vividly recall Muammar Gaddafi’s fate. They also remember how the CIA colluded with the Brits to overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran and installed a monarchial tyrant. 

It is entirely rational to seek the most effective deterrent to foreign invasion and mass murder campaigns waged relentlessly by the crony capitalist neolib USG and its little vicious client, Israel, the racist state where only Jews are considered first-class citizens and Arabs are tortured and killed—or at best maimed (during anti-occupation protests, Israel snipers are instructed to aim for the eyes). 

For neocons, Trumpsters, and Fox News teleprompter readers, “taking out” Soleimani in Mafia hit fashion “was a brilliant move.”

Brian Kilmeade@kilmeade

.@jockowillink says President @realDonaldTrump‘s gamble ordering the strike that killed Soleimani was a brilliant move that killed an enemy of America and the Iranian people on #TheBrianKilmeadeShow @foxnation @foxnewsradio https://radio.foxnews.com/2020/01/14/jocko-willink-president-trump-taking-out-soleimani-was-a-brilliant-move/ …Jocko Willink: President Trump Taking Out Soleimani Was a Brilliant MoveJocko Willink, former Navy SEAL Commander and author of the new book “Leadership Strategy And Tactics: Field Manual”, joined Brian Kilmeade to discuss his views on the strike that killed Iranian…radio.foxnews.com21.5K5:42 PM – Jan 14, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy6,706 people are talking about this

Yes, of course, murdering leaders of recalcitrant nations is considered a “brilliant move” by psychopaths. The Italian-Jewish Mafia killed opponents one-by-one or in small groups while the USG kills opponents in the thousands, even the millions. The Gambino family and Kosher Nostra founded by Arnold Rothstein (who was himself assassinated) would have loved to take out their opponents with Reaper drones and Hellfire missiles, courtesy of witless US taxpayers and debt-serfs. 

Kyle Griffin@kylegriffin1

State Department officials involved in U.S. embassy security were not made aware of imminent threats to four specific U.S. embassies, two State Department officials said, further undermining Trump’s claims that Soleimani posed an imminent threat. https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/13/politics/state-embassy-threat-iran-blindsideded/index.html …State Department security officials weren’t notified of ‘imminent’ threats to US embassiesState Department officials involved in US embassy security were not made aware of imminent threats to four specific US embassies, two State Department officials tell CNN, further undermining Presid…cnn.com3,9398:55 PM – Jan 13, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy2,226 people are talking about this

USG embassies were not and are not under threat by Iran. In Iraq, the people protesting outside the embassy are Iraqis. They want the USG and its contractors out of their country which is still reeling from Bush the Lesser’s invasion, a follow-up on more than a decade of child-killing (over 500,000) sanctions and a previous invasion by Junior’s father, the former CIA boss who would become president. 

Corporate war propaganda media is pushing the narrative that Trump impulsively decided to slaughter Soleimani, as if it simply came to him out of the blue. 

Natasha Bertrand@NatashaBertrand

.@douglaslondon5, who retired from CIA at the end of 2018, writes that he and his team “often struggled in persuading the president to recognize the most important threats” because of Trump’s “focus on celebrity, headlines, and immediate gratification.” https://www.justsecurity.org/68072/the-president-his-relationship-with-intelligence-and-the-soleimani-strike/ …The President, His Relationship with Intelligence and SoleimaniWith Soleimani, it appears to have been more about President Trump, and the potential for headlines, rather than the intelligence.justsecurity.org5,7813:55 PM – Jan 15, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy3,188 people are talking about this

Hardly. This is simply another anti-Trump gimmick. If you look beyond this one-dimensional pre-election circus, you’ll see Trump’s orthodox Jewish son-in-law, Sheldon Adelson, and a cast of Zionist characters steering the president into war with Israel’s enemies. Indeed, Trump is driven by a pathological need for attention and this has been successfully exploited by neocons in the service of a tiny nation based on racial and religious superiority. 

James Perloff@jamesperloff

The basic method Trump used to kill Soleimani was developed by the Israelis >30 years ago. Here’s a screen shot from “Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations,” by Israeli author Ronen Bergman, here describing Israeli developments in late 1980s

View image on Twitter

8510:15 PM – Jan 14, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy66 people are talking about this

The neolib USG with its Israel-first neocon faction is the largest and most deadly Mafia organization in the world.

The US government has killed millions since the end of FDR’s war under false pretense and has overthrown countries far and wide. It trains and enables sadistic paramilitaries, has armed crazed Wahhabi jihadists, and is the only country to have used a nuclear weapon against innocent civilians. 

Posted in USAComments Off on Pompeo and the “Mafia Hit Strategy”

He told police he was stabbed for being Jewish. Then his Apple Watch caught him in a lie.

Bisma Parvez  Detroit Free Press

Sean Samitt mug shot from Dec. 20, 2019West Bloomfield Township Police

A 26-year-old man faked his own stabbing at the West Bloomfield synagogue where he worked and then reported he was attacked because of his Jewish faith, authorities say.

Now Sean Samitt is facing a felony charge of filing a false police report, according to West Bloomfield Police.

Police said Samitt’s Apple Watch helped them solve the case.

Samitt was arrested on Dec. 20 and arraigned the same day before Magistrate Julie Nelson-Klein at the 48th District Court in Oakland Country on one count of falsely reporting a felony, a crime punishable up to four years. According to authorities, his $7,500 bond was posted by Samitt’s mother.

On Thursday, he appeared at the 48th District Court for a probable cause hearing. He is expected to appear for the preliminary examination on Jan. 14. 

Samit reported he was attacked and stabbed in the abdomen by an unknown man in the parking lot at the Temple Kol Ami, where he worked as a cantorial soloist, which is a music director.

He reported the crime on Dec. 15, telling police that he was confronted about 7 p.m. as he was leaving work by a white male in his late 30s to early 40s.

Samitt said that the alleged attacker shouted, “You Jews!” and said “too many immigrants are here,” according to the police report obtained by the Free Press through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Samitt told officers that he was punched in the chest and abdomen during the encounter and he feared for his life, the report said. He said he escaped by kneeing the attacker in the groin and pushing him away, then drove himself to Henry Ford Hospital where a security staff called local authorities about the attack.

Police said officers searched the parking lot for a weapon, blood or any other piece of evidence but came back negative. K-9 officers were not able to locate a scent on the suspect.

While searching Temple Kol Ami, detectives found bloody tissues in Samitt’s office and the men’s bathroom. They also located a knife in the kitchen area with blood on the tip of the blade.

Suspecting Samitt’s wounds were self-inflicted, officers obtained surveillance footage from a house across the street and confirmed that no assault took place.

More: Man dies, woman in serious condition after stabbing in Detroit

More: 2 women escape attempted kidnapping at Detroit coney island, 1 shot

Police said Samitt admitted to making up the attack and said he lost consciousness and accidentally stabbed himself while he was washing dishes at the synagogue. He said he lied about the incident because he was being harassed at work about his medical condition.

The second story also turned out to be fabricated, police said.

Officers were able to obtain information from Samitt’s cellphone health application that was synced to his Apple Watch, confirming he did not lose consciousness. Samitt then admitted to intentionally stabbing himself.

 “I put the knife in to see like just how deep it went because I wasn’t really sure then in the process I probably dug it in a little more.”

He told police he wanted out of his contract with Temple Kol Ami and this was his way out. 

Temple Kol Ami Executive Director Cheryl Friendman told police that Samitt had been an employee for about 1½ years. 

A member of the synagogue told the Free Press, “Sean resigned on Dec. 16 and there is no other information.”

When contacted by the Free Press, the Jewish Community Center of Metro Detroit would only say it takes these matters very seriously. 

 “We are so very grateful for our law enforcement in Detroit who takes every hate crime seriously,” Assistant Executive Director Heidi Budaj said. “We are fortunate to have a partnership with West Bloomfield Township Police who acts to keep our community safe.”

“We are very disturbed to hear of incidents like these. Not only is it a crime to file a false police report, but those who commit such acts take vital resources away from the folks who need help from law enforcement, said Carolyn Normandin, Regional Director of Anti Defamation League Michigan. “At a time when we are fighting real anti-Semitism, falsifying reports is destructive and we strongly condemn such acts.”

According to the ADL, a false case “could have a detrimental impact on those actual victims of bias crimes who seek justice in the future.” 

Samitt’s false report occurred in the same month of two major anti-Semitic attacks in the U.S. In Jersey City, New Jersey, a shooting at a kosher market on Dec. 10 left six dead including two Hasidic Jews. The city’s mayor, Steven Fulop, said on Twitter that officials believed that the gunmen had “targeted the location they attacked.” 

Then last Saturday in Monsey, New York, five people were stabbed at the home of a rabbi during a Hanukkah party. 

More: Armed man inside West Bloomfield Hampton Inn surrenders to police

More: Police: Mich. Taco Bell manager trashes restaurant after called back to work

Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on He told police he was stabbed for being Jewish. Then his Apple Watch caught him in a lie.

Will Baghdad Defy Washington?

Will Baghdad Defy Washington? Iraqi Parliament Contemplates Buying Russia’s S-400 Missile Defense System

“We authorized the prime minister to get air defense weapons from any country he wants and we authorized him to spend the money for it, from any country. From Russia or anyone.”

By Paul Antonopoulos

Global Research,

With tensions mounting between Iran and the United States after the latter assassinated Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq, Baghdad has now been pushing to free itself from American domination by calling for foreign troops to leave the country and announcing its intensions in buying the Russian S-400 missile defense system. The complete destruction of the U.S. military base in Anbar province earlier this month demonstrated to Iraqi leaders that it certainly needs to strengthen its air defences since not even American air defense systems could protect their base from the barrage of Iranian missiles. The Iraqi government’s intention to buy the S-400 air defense systems from Russia has been talked about since May last year, when the country’s ambassador to Moscow said Baghdad had decided to buy the systems. However, no roadmap to purchase the systems have been made yet.  

Karim Elaiwi, an Iraqi member of parliament who sits on the security and defense committee, said last week that

“We are talking to Russia about the S-400 missiles but no contracts have been signed yet. We need to get these missiles, especially after Americans have disappointed us many times by not helping us in getting proper weapons.”

It appears the Iraqis will no longer tolerate U.S. occupation and demands in its country, with parliamentarian and security and defense committee member Abdul Khaleq Al Azzawi, defiantly saying

“We authorized the prime minister to get air defense weapons from any country he wants and we authorized him to spend the money for it, from any country. From Russia or anyone.”

This comes as hostilities between Iraq and the U.S. increase, with U.S. President Donald Trump threatening to cut Baghdad’s access to its key account at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York if they follow through with the Iraqi Parliament’s decision to expel the U.S. military from their country. Not only has there been a threat to cut Iraq from its own money based in the U.S., but there are now threats of $250 million in military aid to Iraq being cut.“Why America Needs War”? Why Are US Military Expenditures “Going Through the Roof”?

Although these are tactics to force Baghdad into maintaining ‘permission’ for the U.S. military to remain in Iraq, the clearest sign that this is an American occupation of the West Asian country was with White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien comments last week that the U.S. will leave Iraq on its “own terms.” The U.S. are not even trying to hide the fact that they are occupying Iraq and rebelling against the government.

Despite the clear occupation, Iraq continues to defy the U.S., and the willingness to purchase the S-400 system is a clear indication of this. It is for this reason that Joey Hood, the U.S. State Department’s principal deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, said on Tuesday in an appearance at the Middle East Institute, an extremely influential Washington think tank, that “A purchase [of the S-400] would probably trigger sanctions, so we advise our partners not to make such purchases.”

This was an expected response considering the continued threats of sanctions the U.S. has put against Turkey for its own acquisition of the S-400. Iraq wants to strengthen its air defense and the S-400 systems are considered the best in the world. It must also be remembered that Iraq is already buying modern weapons from Russia, such as the Mi-28 fighter helicopters and T-90 tanks. However, it is likely that Washington considers the purchase of the S-400 from Russia as an indication that the U.S. is losing political and military support in the country – but this was already consolidated by the assassination of Soleimani, an extremely popular figure in Iraq.

Baghdad is already in negotiations for the S-300, the older generation of the S-400. However, it is the S-400, the newest model available for foreign markets, that will provoke resistance in Washington, especially as the U.S.-made Patriot missile defense system has proven to be a failure by not being able to defend U.S. bases in Iraq or Saudi oil facilities, if we remember the Houthi-led Ansarullah Movement’s attack on the ARAMCO site in September last year.

The question then becomes how will Iraq will pay for Russian weapons if their accounts in the U.S. are frozen. Delivery is not so much of an issue despite the U.S. occupation, it is more a matter of how payments will be made. Although Iraqi parliamentarians are boldly declaring their intentions for the S-400 to be purchased, there are significant problems that Baghdad must first be able to overcome, including the extremely strong pressure being applied by the U.S. against Iraq not to buy them. If Baghdad did successfully defy Washington and purchase the systems, it will certainly weaken the U.S.’ image in the region, something the North American country will unlikely want to risk.

Will Iraq boldly defy the U.S.? This remains to be seen now.

Posted in USA, IraqComments Off on Will Baghdad Defy Washington?

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