Islamic State of Iraq & al-Shams seizes Mosul #100daysofblogging #day9

Image courtesy of The Guardian
Image courtesy of The Guardian

So, here we are again. Blogging about devastation in Iraq.

At the moment, a religious extremist militia is seizing control over much of the North and West of the country including one of the worlds oldest cities, Mosul.

I’ve written a lot about Iraq in the past. Commenting on the Iraq war was why I started blogging in the first place, back in 2005.

This is perhaps the most serious strategic upheaval that has occurred in Iraq since the civil war of 2006/07, the resultant US troop surge and eventual ‘withdrawal’ of international combat forces.

There have been elections. There have been some significant protests. There have been far too many random explosions. There has also been a variety of sectarian political manoeuvring. Then Vice President of Iraq Tariq al-Hashimi, the most senior Sunni in the Iraqi Government, was even sentenced to death after being charged with murder in 2011 and later found ‘guilty in absentia’.

But this is a whole other kettle of fish. ISIS are no joke. Continue reading Islamic State of Iraq & al-Shams seizes Mosul #100daysofblogging #day9

Everything must change

There comes a line when politicking blurs the mind of even the most intelligent and compassionate people and I believe I have long ago past that point. I believe I have been mislead into not seeing both realities of the world; the political reality and the individual reality.

The political reality is the one where everything is examined as part of a greater whole; “in context”. The individual reality is the one about which your care for each individual equally; or at least care an equal amount for the rights and lives of each individual you know of, and more so for those you know personally.

There also comes a time when reality hits home as one of those you truly care for has issues that cannot be solved easily; and especially when you have no control or even influence over the prevailing circumstance and the decisions that then need to be made.

Recently Sunshine’s father has been receiving death threats.

It has been going on a while now. Sunshine is a 16 year old girl from Mosul in Northern Iraq who has been both an inspiration and a friend to me. I try help her with life in any way I may and she looks up to me for it.

Unfortunately I feel hopeless with fear when I hear of the conditions she lives in worsening in such a way; when it gets beyond the point I believe her and her family capable of handling. Where to turn to now?

Where’s my government stand on all this?

Why aren’t we opening our arms to thousands of refugees from the country we’ve invaded?

Why are we so fearful of a backlash if we do let these people enjoy our better lives?

Don’t we need more skilled workers, doctors, dentists, nurses, teachers, lecturers and tradesmen?

WHERE IS MY REPRESENTATION?

Who do I have to sleep with to get a REAL say in this “democracy”?

Who can I actually speak to that has enough influence to relay my messages and give me a chance to argue for immediate foreign policy change?

Why must I spend years of planning and hard work to even get a word in? Is my opinion not as equal as those who sit in the seats of power and influence? Must I be an old man (or woman) with money, a family and a working history somehow related to Australian politics before I can be heard?

I’m going to phone my local MP and demand an audience. I’m going to continue doing this until I get an ear that will listen and represent me truly. It is time to make a change in this government; it is time to make a change in this world.

It’s time to start moving and start walking.

It’s time for EVERY THING TO CHANGE.

Interaction is awesome.

I got a response out of my last post. Some may think it was a little bit tow-the-line media regurgitation because I was talking about the good ol’ timetable. In some ways I guess those someone’s are right. Part of my reason behind writing the post was because it IS the topic of discussion and I do have opinions on it.

It’s got to be done right, but my friend is also right in asking who am I to say when is right?

I guess I am not in the position to say “when” is right but I can sure tell what is right and what is wrong.

Right would be an eventual end to the military occupation of a sovereign nation whose people have an absolute right to self-determination (elections without outside interference).

Wrong would be a withdrawal that leaves the civilians of said sovereign nation without the ability to achieve said self-determination (ie, under a dictatorship or in conditions that do not allow fair elections to be held).

Right would be leaving said civilians with access to the basic technologies and living conditions expected by any developed nation; electricity, water, sewerage, healthcare and education.

Wrong would be destroying a nations infrastructure and leaving them crippled after invading on the promise of a better future and then not deliver on that promise.

Right would be ensuring the country has a governmental system which can sustain itself; which can provide basic law, order and municipality services for its people and.

Wrong is not caring enough to find out what needs to be done to achieve those ends.

Right is approaching the local populations and asking what YOU can do for THEM to make THEIR lives better and in turn encouraging them to cooperate with both yourself and each other.

So if we are going to set a timetable it needs to include all those things which are RIGHT and none of those which are WRONG; but it also needs a SENSIBLE timeline to ensure all those involved that not only is there an end-goal, but there IS enough time to achieve it.

Mayhap I was too fast to say that the label of “occupation” must end by 2010; but then again maybe I’m not. In ideal circumstance it’s probably not too much to ask. But nothing is ever ideal and what’s going on in Iraq today is no exception.

A (withdrawal) timetable is necessary.

A timetable for withdrawal from Iraq is a necessity. Any kind of political advancement depends on it. Iraqi citizen bloggers will tell you the same. In fact it is they who convinced me of this.

But what kind of withdrawal timetable can the US set to begin a feasible large-scale withdrawal from Iraq?

The Coalition leadership is unwilling to leave Iraq until political stability has been achieved and headway is being made towards reconciliation (if at all) and this isn’t going to just “happen”. Only a change of government could break the political deadlock Iraq is currently experiencing and it’s clear the current government won’t be uprooted on the US clock. Not under current US doctrine for reshaping the Middle East anyway.

So it seems we are to wait for a new set of Iraqi elections. But the next set of elections are not due for many years to come. The last elections were held in December 2005 but the first session was not held until March 16. 2006 and according to the Iraqi constitution “The electoral term of the Council of Representatives shall be four calendar years, starting with its first session and ending with the conclusion of the fourth year.”

The next elections must be held “forty-five days before the conclusion of the preceding electoral term”. Thus the next elections are due January 29, 2010.

The US must start to significantly draw down combat forces long before this point if the next round of elections are to be considered any more legitimate than the last. Not all Iraqi communities will accept elections until the shroud of “occupation” is eliminated.

This means that by 2010 the coalition needs to reduce combat forces in Iraq down to a level which no longer constitutes an occupying force. Combat forces should begin seriously returning home by Christmas 2008 and be replaced by investment in real reconstruction programs.

Which means employing Iraqi contractors to build the new electrical grid and coming good with the promises of new generators and power plants to supply it. It means facilitating the return of displaced persons to their homes, especially those with skills in construction, health, education and other essential services.

This timetable MUST be set during the US election campaign. Only a strong timetable can begin to give direction to what is otherwise an open-ended, bloody occupation. Such a plan can act to reassure Iraqi and American civilians that there will be an end to this horrific occupation and that Iraq is not going to be the launching platform for future oil-wars in Iran and the Middle East. Perhaps it would even act to prevent unnecessarily escalation of tensions in the region.

However to believe any of this can actually happen is probably being overly optimistic; I’m not setting the doctrine for coalition forces and I’m sure as hell whoever is probably isn’t going to even listen to what I’ve got to say. Still, someone’s got to say it.

Baghdad cleared or ‘al-Qaeda’? I call bullshit.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq has been cleared out of Baghdad by the US military. *BULLSHIT*.

Here’s what is really happening. The US invasion has piece-by-piece destroyed the very fabric of Iraqi society; beginning with it’s economy and family units during the invasion of 2003. Foreign interests have pushed tensions to boiling point and beyond, exacerbating the poverty and poor conditions in Iraq.

Eventually distrust and even hatred have become the unifying factor shared by many Iraqi’s. They distrust their extremists neighbours who support and supply the many dangerous terrorists and militia’s amongst both Iraqi Shia and Sunni. They HATE Al-Qaeda in Iraq. They HATE what Iraq has become since the US invasion. Though they may not all trust each other Iraqi’s are coming to realise they can’t trust anyone else to intervene in their internal conflicts, and as such are beginning to turn against the foreign elements who wish to control Iraq for their own purposes.

Here are a few of the catalysts behind this unification:

Firstly I will start by mentioning the biggest no-no. The decision by the US Senate that it would be a good idea to split Iraq along sectarian lines.

Secondly we have the Blackwater incident, which confirms the story we (who give a damn about Iraqi civilians) have KNOWN all along; that the foreign security contractors are trigger-happy and above the law.

Third is actually two-parts; part one is the constant pressure the US has placed on Iraq to pass oil-laws which would open oil-reserves to “private” investors. Part two is the recent deal made between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Texan Hunt oil company.

And need I mention the al-Askari shrine bombings, the seemingly unreported rise of the  Badr Brigade militia in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, extremist members of Al-Sadr’s Mehdi Army and their connections to Iran.

These are just some of the reasons why we can see an gradual easing sectarian tensions in Iraq and the fall of foreign extremist groups like Al-Qaeda in Iraq. It has little to do with the “surge” though some may disagree. Even a US soldier based in Fadhil district of Baghdad can confirm; the recent cleansing and actual reconstruction going on in that part of town was a localized event.

It was Baghdadis’ who rose to the challenge and expelled extremists from the area. It was Iraqi’s who have laid mains-capacity electrical cables in preparation for the arrival of new electrical generators promised by the US military. It was even Iraqi Sunni who expelled Sunni extremists from the formerly Shia parts of Fadhil and invited the displaced Shia families to return to their deserted houses with the promise of security.

Now lets hope the US delivers on their promise and that this process can be emulated across other parts of Baghdad.

Not to say that things are all well in Baghdad or across Iraq. There is still wide-scale aerial bombardment going on, suicide bombings and mafia-style kidnappings, extortions and general thuggish activity. The infighting still exists it’s just changed. There is shia-shia conflict between members of the Mehdi Army & Badr Brigade; and there too is conflict among the sunni. There are tribal conflicts too.

Nothing is going to change overnight, but it has been confirmed to me; Baghdad is improving at the moment- and I stress that point; “AT THE MOMENT”.