Speaking truth to power – on Zaky Mallah, Steve Ciobo & QANDA

Let me preface this by noting my own opposition to offensive violence in all forms; whether committed by soldiers on behalf of governments, individuals or extremist groups.

I strongly oppose the ongoing war in Iraq. I equally oppose violent attacks by extremist religious groups within Iraq. I also oppose violence committed by drunk individuals, and have repeatedly put myself at risk to prevent such violence occurring.

So, to anyone who wants to claim I’m on ‘the terrorists team’, here’s a big up yours (┌∩┐) in advance. I’m not on any ‘terrorist team’ but I’m certainly not joining YOUR team either.

I’m on a team which de-escalates conflicts.

Rather than further isolating at risk people in our society, I want to give them reason to join us.

Only if we break the isolation can we prevent extremist groups radicalising at-risk people. Only if we know who is at-risk, if we build relationships with them, can we help them.

If we fail to achieve that, then no matter how many of our rights we hand over to the intelligence services, we will never feel safe. Continue reading Speaking truth to power – on Zaky Mallah, Steve Ciobo & QANDA

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”.