Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dalai Lama

According to Corey Flintoff (NPR's All Things Considered), the Dalai Lama is currently trying to insure that when he's gone (or his body is gone, I guess, by his religious beliefs) that Tibet has a true Dalai Lama. In 1995, China tried to impose a Dalai Lama on Tibet. So he is giving up powers now so that the process to pick a new one can begin.

The report notes:

Brahma Chellaney, an Indian expert on Tibetan issues, says that's a situation the Dalai Lama is trying to avert.

"If the same situation were to happen after the present Dalai Lama were to pass away, then we will have two dueling Dalai Lama," says Chellaney, a professor at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi.

Chellaney thinks Tenzin Gyatso is trying to make the institution of the Dalai Lama less of a target by separating the political powers from the spiritual leadership while he's still alive.

"I think it's a smart move because once he passes away," Chellaney says, "there will be great opportunity for the Chinese to take advantage of the situation and impose their own impostor Dalai Lama on the world."

While I was listening to the story on the radio this evening (and I recommend it, it's a strong report), I thought about how the dominant faith in any region shapes group beliefs and the government itself. For example, would we have the death penalty in this country if the majority had believed in reincarnation?

I don't know.

And does this belief allow the Chinese government to impose the 1 child law? Does reincarnation help with that?

Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, April 26, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, the Iraqi military scores another "kill" in Mosul as they continue their assault on peaceful protesters, Nouri denies reports that he and the US have come to an agreement regarding continued occupation, and more.
Chen Zhi (Xinhua) notes, "The Iraqi government is preparing to accept the presence of more than 15,000 U.S. servicemen in Iraq to protect the U.S. interests after the deadline of U.S. troops' pullout by the end of 2011, an Iraqi newspaper reported on Tuesday. [. . .] It also said that thousands of employees working for foreign security firms will stay in the country to protect the U.S. embassy staff, American civil contractors, engineers and investors." DPA reports Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and puppet of Iraq, is insisting that no agreement for 50,00 US troops to remaing. He goes further, 'There is no agreement to this day with the US administration to keep 10,000 or 5,000, or 1,000 or even 100 US troops in Iraq." You may notice that while he bandies about many figures none of them are the 15,000 that was reported. AFP reports Nouri held a press conference today in Baghdad and stated, "In terms of the level of the external deence of Iraqi sovereignty, Iraq has a shortfall. These forces will not be complete in one or two years because they need a lot of money and training, especially in terms of air defence. But there is no danger for Iraq. No neighbor of Iraq's wants to enter Iraq by force. So our sovereignty is protected, especially in light of the circumstances and changes in the region." Rebecca Santana (AP) explains, "Many Iraqi leaders privately acknowledge the country's security shortcomings, including its lack of intelligence gathering capabilities and its inability to protect its own airspace." Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) also notes that "Iraq's air force will need support beyond this year".
That is surprising . . .
only if you're late to the party.
Four years late in fact. From the June 14, 2007 snapshot:

The [PDF format warning] Pentagon report has many sections and one of interest considering one of the 2007 developments may be this: "There are currently more than 900 personnel in the Iraqi Air Force. . . . The fielding of rotary-wing aircraft continued with the delivery to Taji of five modified UH II (Iroquois) helicopters, bringing the total delivered to ten. The final six are scheduled to arrive in June. Aircrews are currently conducting initial qualifications and tactics training. The Iroquois fleet is expected to reach initial operation capability by the end of June 2007." By the end of June 2007? One of the developments of 2007 was the (admission of) helicopter crashes. US helicopters. British helicopters. Some may find comfort in the fact that evacuations and mobility will be handled by Iraqis . . . whenever they are fully staffed and trained. Four years plus to deliver the equipment, training should be done in ten or twenty years, right?
It's long been known that the Iraqi air force would not be ready. One of the first to cover the story after the 2008 election -- when much of the press was so eager to pretend all bad news ceased to exist -- is Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times and you can refer to her "Iraq Can't Defend Its Skies by Pullout Date, U.S. Says" as a starting point. On the topic of withdrawal, 'withdrawal' and safety, Kelley B. Vlahos (Antiwar.com) offers:
Therein lies the rub -- and the fear -- that the Iraqis won't be able to protect the oil, the rights to which are already being carved up among Western interests, as well as Asia and Russia. The Iraq oil ministry, hoping to boost oil production capacity from today's approximately 2.7 million barrels per day to 13.5 million bpd in seven years, announced a fourth round of bidding in April for a dozen new oil exploration blocks.
Although the U.S hardly dominated the first licensing round in 2009, Exxon Mobil still got in a toehold, as did British Petroleum (BP) and the Netherlands-based Royal Dutch Shell. Now, no one can read the reporting on the 2003 secret memos containing the minutes of meetings between British ministers and senior oil executives just before the invasion of Iraq and not be convinced that big oil had not played a decisive role in the Brits' decision to help us overthrow Saddam. As Jim Lobe pointed out in his recent column, it was one of several self-serving reasons for regime change.
Apparently, according to the memos, the Bush Administration was using fertile oil and gas prospects as bargaining tools to build a "coalition of the willing" (more like "coalition of the drilling"), and BP and Shell were among the companies that were promised a piece of the action. "Iraq was a straightforward smash and grab," charges writer Conn Hallinan.
"What always puzzles me is that people think oil is not at the base of it. Given that the U.S. imports two-thirds of its oil, and 65 percent of the world's reserves lie in the Middle East, what kind of fool would the U.S. be not to pay attention to those reserves?"
One thing you shouldn't do is lie. We favor a full withdrawal of US troops -- an immediate withdrawal. That has always been this community's position. (See "Should This Marriage Be Saved?" from 2004.) From futher right on the spectrcum, Kelley B. Vlahos calls out the Iraq War and does so without lying. I'm being very kind because I realize how little media coverage in the Beggar Media (that would be the "independent" media -- Pacifica Radio, The Nation, et al) there is. So I'm not naming the idiot who seems to think lying is the way to argue for a withdrawal. This time. Next time liar lies, I will be calling him out. And let me be really clear on this, don't cite the New York Times without doing your damn home work. If you're talking violence and you cite NYT as a reputable publication for violence figures, you better know those figures were correct. (That month they weren't and we called it out here and noted how the ministries figures were higher, how Iraq Body Count's monthly toll was higher, how AFP's totals were higher.) I have no idea why anyone would be stupid enough to accept the Times at face value after it helped sell the Iraq War unless they just wanted to lie and knew the paper of record would help them along. There is some solid reporting in the Times -- no that doesn't include the boy who fancies himself Dorothy Parker (nor was Dorothy Parker a hard news reporter, she fell under feature articles with her arts beat -- books and plays). But if you're trying to argue that the US should leave because violence is down, quit lying. Violence is not down. When US officials try to sail a wave of Operation Happy Talk with that b.s., they at least have the brains to say, 'when compared to the sectarian war of 2007 and 2008.' Stop lying. Again, next time, I will call you out and do so loudly. I will school you on everyone of your sources and how you misquoted them or didn't do the basic research required to determine whether their report was accurate. The cause of the violence in Iraq has always been the occupation. Don't start lying now. Thomas E. Ricks -- as he moved from journalist to COIN think tanker -- began trying to shame people who called for an end to the Iraq War by insisting that when US forces pull out, Iraq will suffer a meltdown. Apparently, possessing manboobs allows you to make predicitions. I have no idea what the future holds for Iraq. But we've never lied and claimed that when the US finally left -- whenever that was -- that the Iraqis would group hug and break out into Sister Sledge's "We Are Family." It is highly likely that when the US finally stops occupying Iraq, violence will rise. That's due to the fact that Iraqis are not represented by people they trust. And the US military has propped up a puppet regime for years now. So it is very likely that when their bodyguards pull out, the puppet government may finally have to address the wrath of the people.
But that doesn't change the fact that violence is going on right now in Iraq and has been every year of the illegal war. It doesn't change the fact that any poli sci class on rebellions, resistance and revolution will tell you that occupations breed violence. There's no need to lie in order to advocate for a withdrawal from Iraq. But when you do lie in order to advocate for withdrawal, you make the rest of us look like liars. So the next time you lie, you will be loudly called out here. (The obvious solution is to stop lying to make your case. Your case was solid without lies.)
And the above is not about Tom Hayden. A friend with The Nation just called asking for a link to a piece Tom wrote. Here's the Iraq part:
In Iraq, Obama made a surprising commitment to withdraw all American troops by December of this year, a pledge that has been derided by military commanders and national security insiders. The game, it is suggested, is to induce the Baghdad government to "invite" the United States to stay past the December deadline. Obama remains a sphinx as to his ultimate intentions, but a serious obstacle to delaying the withdrawal is posed by Moktada al-Sadr, with a powerful bloc in the Iraqi parliament, armed militias in the wings and supporters in Iran possessing great influence. On the other side, Saudi Arabia is strongly opposed to a US total withdrawal, which would leave Iraq in the Shiite orbit dominated by Iran.
Sadly, American public opinion is shaped by American casualties, which means the peace movement has little influence over Obama's decision concerning Iraq. Peace sentiment was highest in the years 2003–07, when 3,899 American soldiers were being killed and 28,890 wounded in Iraq. Since then the death toll has dropped from 903 in 2007, to 313 in 2008, to 148 in 2009, sixty in 2010, and fourteen as of early this April. The American public has zero interest in Iraq, although that might change if Obama's leaves a small contingent of US troops in the midst of sectarian violence in violation of his previous pledge.
I disagree with pretty mcuh everything above. (Tom's entitled to his opinion and he hasn't lied above.) Last week we repeatedly noted that Moqtada is not seen as strong by government analysis -- two Arab states, the British and the US government. His influence is seen as dwindling. We even quoted from a Congressional study in yesterday's snapshot about how Moqtada is now hemmed in since he is a part of the Cabinet. (In fact, his bloc is over-represented in the Cabinet.) It would have been nice for Tom to have explained why he feels Moqtada -- who has repeatedly caved in the past -- has 'strength' but the above is all there is on Iraq in his essay.
I disagree with the claim put forward that the deaths don't register because they're few. They're not few. But they're not covered. Repeatedly, to note a funeral, to note a passing, we have to go to regional media. When's the last time the New York Times gave significant coverage to a death of US soldier in Iraq? And there are soldiers who have died from New York state, neighboring New Jersey and Connect. among others. No we had to listen to the New York Times staffer who's 'husband' died in Iraq. Even though he'd broken up with her and even though the paper knew that the woman wasn't being either convincing or truthful (and she really pissed off the soldier's family and friends). Now they were happy to promote this woman who didn't live with the man, certainly wasn't married to him, wasn't even involved with him prior to his leaving for Iraq, they were happy to present her as the grieving widow. So apparently for a death to register at the New York Times, you've got to have some woman working for the paper insisting, "He was my husband!"
And our pathetic 'independent media'? The last five soldiers killed in combat -- killed in combat, not just dying -- in Iraq were not even included as a headline by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! She didn't even have time for them -- she who grandstanded on the Iraq War, she who attacked ABC for attempts to censor Ted Koppel's Nightline programs noting the fallen.
Again, this is opinion and Tom may be right. But I think he's wrong and I firmly believe that. If you asked people how many US soldiers deployed to Iraq have been died since the end of 'combat operations' (August 31, 2010), most people wouldn't know the answer (PDF format warning -- 31). 31 have died since he and the media (except for AP) declared the Iraq War over. Most people do not know that number. If you asked them the number when Barack was inaugurated (4229) versus the number today (PDF format warning -- 4452), they wouldn't know. Since "We want to end the war and we want to end it now!" was sworn in as president, 223 US soldiers have died. Again, most people do not know that. That's not because they're idiots and it's not because they don't care. It's because the media isn't interested. In the last 12 weeks, Diane Rehm has given Iraq four minutes out the 12 "international" hours she offers (one each Friday). Four minutes. Wow. Want to pretend the media gives a damn about Iraq in this country? They don't.
NPR raised funds this go round -- and did quite well raising funds -- by insisting that you got Iraq coverage from them. The reality was, you really hadn't been getting it. But Kelly McEvers was back in Iraq and you had her and Mike Shuster both reporting. But two or three reports from Iraq a week worked into Morning Edition and All Things Considered doesn't really cover it. The non-reporting shows, the gas bag shows, need to be covering Iraq. There's no excuse for it. You've got 47,000 US troops still over there. You've got 4452 who have died there. You've got an uncounted number of wounded back home. You've got diplomatic staff that's over there and that's been over there and back, you've got contractors . . . This is a large number of Americans and it's an onoging war -- as AP noted in the fall of 2010 when everyone else was rushing to call it over -- and where's the coverage?
Add in that UPFJ, as Tom damn well knows, posted immediately after the 2008 election their little 'war is over go home' message. The Iraq War wasn't over. Tom's on the steering committee of UPFJ, he needs to call that out. As far as I know, the only ones who've repeatedly called that out are Justin Raimondo (Antiwar.com) and this community. Tom didn't write the note, he didn't even sign off the note. I know that and I'm not trying to accuse him falsely of writing the note. But he needs to publicly rebuke that action because it was a tactical disaster and it dispirited the peace movement back then but today it has enraged young peace activists. And if Tom wants to be heard by the high school and college activists, he's going to have to call out that boneheaded move by ____ at UPFJ or else he'll just have to accept the anger that UPFJ is the focus of.
And let me say one more thing on this subject. I don't give a damn who wins this election or that election. In terms of national politics, the Congress and the White House flipped and the policies were exactly the same. But some of these people whose whole life is wrapped up in electoral politics -- and in the Democratic Party -- better grasp real quick that you're losing the committed activists. They're growing up with no alligence to the Democratic Party because no one in that party will call out the War Hawk in the White House. We're seeing a lot of people soured on election politics, we're seeing a lot of young people interested in the Green Party and other third parties, we're seeing a revival of real Socialists (the type represented by WSWS which has convictions) and we're seeing a lot o peace activists who now lean right. I don't know Justin Raimondo or I'd ask him, but Antiwar.com should be seeing a huge bump in readership because it is becoming the campus bible for many peace activists. It has become the only game in town. (And good for Justin and Kelley and all the others at Antiwar.com. Big praise to them for having ethics when Republicans were in the White House and when Democrats were in the White House.) It's exactly this sort of movement on the ground that explains why Gore couldn't carry states he should have in 2000. Don't blame Ralph Nader for people being disenchanted with the Democratic Party. And all you've done is allow to happen again. As a poli sci major whose domestic emphasis was campaign politics, I find it alarming that the Democrats have lost the "true believers" and they don't even care -- or worse, don't notice. The true believer is the voter who follows the news and votes and votes and votes. Most will never be as politically active as they were in college, it will lessen and lessen over time. But they will have established a voting pattern. And that, statistically, remains. These are the young voters the Democratic Party lost and doesn't even realize it. (If community members are interested, we'll come back to this topic Thursday night.)
We in the United States are not any different from the people of Iraq in terms of wants and desires. And in Iraq, they saw two national elections -- one in 2005 and one in 2010. In one, Shi'ites turned out in large numbers, in the other Sunnis turned out in large numbers. And they look around and they see that it didn't really matter in terms of their lives. Unemployment didn't improve, potable water didn't flow from the pipes, electricity was not a given. And the Iraqi jails and prisons -- public and secret -- continued to disappear people regardless of election outcome. And that's why they protest. That's why they go into the streets and risk being beaten or shot or killed or kidnapped or rounded up by Iraqi forces (or Kurdish forces for those in the KRG). They show tremendous bravery and a desire for the basics that were promised them.
They protest whether or not reporters are present. They're fully aware that the international media has largely abandoned them. It's really easy to protest in Egypt when you know the whole world's watching because every news outlet in the world sent in reporters. In Iraq, not even the appalling reports that Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have been releasing on what's happening to the protesters (and the Iraqi journalists covering the protests) has managed to move the ones who determine what appears in your paper or what floats across your TV screen.
The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "Today the Shiyoukh of Mosul called upon all International Humanitarian Agencies including the UN to come to Mosul and see at first hand what is happening. But I believe that all these NGOs are quite deaf, blind and dumb." Dar Addustour reported on the ongoing attempts to intimidate the people of Mosul. While the military in many other Arab countries spent the year thus far defedning the people, in Iraq, the military attacks the people. Dar Addustour counts 10 people injured in Mosul yesterday by the Iraqi military. The paper notes that Nineveh Province Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi suspended work hours yesterday to protest the military's attack on demonstrators and they quote the governor stating, "We reject the use of the security forces against protestors and demonstrators who have today been demonstrating for 17 days." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN -- note the photo that runs with the story) notes 1 protester was killed in Mosul and twenty-one were wounded due to the 'security' forces firing on them today and "After the incident, local officialssaid provincial Gov. Atheel al-Nujaifi called for acts of civil disobedience across the province in response to the shootings." Aswat al-Iraq reports, "Ninewa Province's Governor, Athil al-Nujeify, has charged the Province's Ninewa Security Operations command with responsibility for recent 'bloodshed' in Mosul, the center of the province." They quote Nujaifi stating, "I burden the Ninewa Operations Command with responsibility for bloodsheds among demonstrators who had organized sit-in demonstrations in central Mosul's al-Ahrar (Liberation) Square." Does Maliki -- does the US -- really think you can bully and push around people like this? These aren't people taking up guns (I'm not condemning or applauding those who have taken up guns), these are people using the rights guaranteed to them in their Constitution and being attacked by Iraqi military for it. Does no one see what happens next? Does no one realize the distrust this is breeding in Iraq? This is insane. The United Nations should have strongly condmended it some time ago.

If you're not getting it, note this from the Great Iraqi Revolution:
Maliki and his military and civillian minions have been treading over their own feet for the past 2 days contradicting their own statements and lying through their teeth - making statements about democracy and at the same time calling all the demonstrators and all the detainees, terrorists! I would suggest to Haliki that since all th...e demonstrators are terrorists he must be in the wrong country and that he returns to Iran where there are no terrorists being imported to Iraq!
He also criticises all our tribal leaders for their hospitality - I quite agree with him! since he is neither an Iraqi nor an Arab, he does not know anything about our habits and cutoms - again, I would suggest to him that he return to Iran where he is used no doubt to their type of hospitality or whatever!
He has a very few days left of the 100 days he gave himself and of course he has nnot and cannot do anything with the days that are remaining or even in another 100 years! SO what he will do is see how many "ministers" are going to vote for or against the Military Agreement with the occupation and then just get rid of the ones who voted against or objected and then get a new cabinet together. He really has not understood or has decided not to understand anything about the events that are taking place in Iraq!
Haliki is livingon a different planet and in another country! Good Luck to him - he really does not know anything about our anger.......
For those in the US who are old enough to remember -- or happened to have studied it -- this is an awful lot like Chicago in 1968 at the DNC convention. You're going to have a lot of Iraqis who would never take to the street be appalled by what's going on, by the use of the military on Iraq's own people. A friend at the State Dept said that al-Maliki seems to be catching on and offered as an example his enlisting people to start protesting in favor of him in Mosul. That's ridiculous. That's insane. That just demonstrates how out of it he is. And if I were a puppet installed by a foreign government that might leave at some time -- maybe even the end of this year or next -- I think I'd be working really hard to be loved by the people, not trying to piss them off and remember me as the leader who turned the Iraqi military loose on the youth of Iraq, on the widows of Iraq, on the people who believe the most in a modern day, unified Iraq.
The Rebels of the Great Iraqi Revolution and the Rebels of the 25th February Alliance have stated today that the Iraqi have decided that there is no doubt whatsoever that the Occupation should depart immediately from Iraqi soil as well as the immediate departure of the Maliki Government. They also demand the immediate release of all detainees in government and Occupation prisons.
When Nouri gives the military orders to attack peaceful protesters, it's not surprising that people turn on him. He looks even more like a thug when he does that. In other violence, Reuters notes 2 Hawija home bombings (both were police officers' homes) in which 1 man and 1 child were killed an additional four poeple were injured, a Riyadh home bombing ("municipal official") injured two people, 3 Kirkuk roadside bombings which claimed 1 life and left nineteen other people injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured eleven people, and, dropping back to last night, 1 official with the Baghdad govenor's office was shot dead in Baghdad.
Alsumaria TV notes that the Ministry of Human Rights spokesperson Arkan Kamel declared yesterday, "The Ministry of Human Rights registered 14025 missing people in Iraq because of violence, bombings and military operations during the last 8 years that followed the entry of the US troops to the country since 2003."

The protesters are demonstrating for a better way of life, for the life the war propaganda promised. They want occupying forces out of their country, an end to corruption, detainees who have been lost in the Iraqi 'justice' system released and a government that is responsive and provides jobs and basic services. Omar Abdel-Latif (Al Sabaah) reports that next week Parliament is supposed to explore the issue of tea that is tainted. At least 150 tons of tea has had to be destroyed this month alone due to it being tainted. The paper has also done an unofficial count of the number of beggars in Baghdad and come to the number of 800. One of the editors went undercover as a beggar and learned several things. The standout thing that has nothing to do with poverty -- and maybe should have been the lead -- is that Iraqi security forces are permitting beggars to work near checkpoints which may demonstrate compassion but does not ensure security. Meanwhile Ayas Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) reports that Parliament's Finance Committee is reviewing the CPA books in an attempt to figure out where approximately $8 billion disappeared to. And Al Rafyidayn reports that 37 employees of Nouri's Cabinet of falsifying their credentials.

The World This Week is a program from France 24 that utilizes footage the program has been sent to cover world events. The latest edition began airing today and the top story is on the MEK living in Iraq at Camp Ashraf:
Lorena Galliot Members of an Iranain opposition group called the People's Mujahedeen of Iran have lived in a camp on Iraqi soil since 1965. They were sheltered under Saddam Hussein's rule, but the new Iraqi government, which has developed close ties with Tehran, has decided it wants to get rid of them. Our Observer filmed an event that happened in the camp in early April. We go now to Camp Ashraf, 80 kilometers north of Baghdad with Arman, a member of the People's Mujahedeen of Iran.
Arman: Iraqi armored tanks began running over the barricades at around 5:00 am and then drove full speed ahead to the place where the camp's residents had gathered. Very quickly, gun shots rang out. They were randomly shooting at the crowd and throwing hand grenades. Seconds later, vehicles started charging at residents. They were equipped with machine guns and they were shooting and charging at residents. There was a clear intention of killing a deliberate will to massacre. It was very difficul to film in these circumstances because anyone holding a camera was especially targeted by soldiers. And we expect another massacre to break out any second. Right now, everything is in the hands of the interational community.
Lorena Galliot: Iraqi authorities say 10 people were killed in the clashes. The People's Mujahedeen say 34 were. It's impossible for us to verify either account because journalists are barred from entering the camp.
Actually, France 24 didn't need to verify the death toll, the United Nations already has. Background, following the US invasion, the US made these MEK residents of Camp Ashraf -- Iranian refuees who had been in Iraq for decades -- surrender weapons and also put them under US protection. They also extracted a 'promise' from Nouri that he would not move against them. July 28, 2009 the world saw what Nouri's word was actually worth. Since that Nouri-ordered assault in which at least 11 residents died, he's continued to bully the residents. April 4th, Iran's Fars News Agency reported that the Iraqi military denied allegations that it entered the camp and assaulted residents. Specifically, Camp Ashraf residents state, "The forces of Iraq's Fifth Division invaded Camp Ashraf with columns of armored vehicles, occupying areas inside the camp, since midnight on Saturday." Friday April 8th saw another attack which the Iraqi government again denied. Thursday April 14th, the United Nations confirmed that 34 people were killed in the April 8th assault on Camp Ashraf. Barbara Grady (San Jose Mercury News) reported that the dead included journalist Asieh Rakhshani who has family in California. Ensieh Yazdanpanah, mother of Asieh, tells UPI, "She wanted to live in a free Iran. She was sending lots of messages of hope to youth in Iran. She was full of life and joy." Reporters Without Borders noted that she and journalist Saba Haftbaradaran were both killed. The UN News Center reported over the weekend, "The United Nations mission in Iraq today voiced its deep concern at the recent events that led to the deaths of 34 people at a camp housing Iranian exiles, noting that it has repeatedly urged the Government to refrain from the use of force. The Iraqi military operation on 8 April at Camp Ashraf, located north of Baghdad, also left dozens of people injured.
Since the UN provided a death toll, the Iranian state controlled FARS News Agency has worked hard to act as an advance team fr the Association for Defending Victims of terrorism. Saturday it was repeating the group's attack on the Boston Globe. Sunday it was the Independent of London. Meanwhile AFP reports, " Iran and Iraq have signed an accord to extradite 'convicts and criminals' wanted by the two neighbours, state television's website and newspapers reported on Monday. Justice Minister Morteza Bakhtiari and his visiting Iraqi counterpart Hassan al-Shammari signed the agreement late on Sunday, Aftab-e Yazd newspaper said." Reuters notes that Iraq Deputy Justice Minister Busho Ibrahim denies that the treaty would apply to the residents of Camp Ashraf, "No. They are not detainees or prisoners. This agreement is to trade criminals between the two countries." British MP Tarsem King (House of Lords, Labour Party) offers a commentary via UPI which includes:
The U.S. government now finds itself in a strange trio alongside the Iraqi and Iranian regimes in continuing to blacklist the group. It appears that rather than follow in the footsteps of judgments from the highest courts of the United Kingdom and European Union, which concluded in the ban on the MEK being removed in the United Kingdom and EU, U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continue to cling to the ban in a vain hope of appeasing the Iranian regime.
One day, long ago it may have been the case that such political justifications made prudent political sense in the case of Iran. The ban has now been in place for 14 years, within which time the Iranian regime has increased its support for terrorism in the region, increased its human rights abuses at home and plowed full steam ahead in its efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. If any prudent political reasoning ever did exist, no sensible analyst could say it any longer does.
The ban on the MEK is no longer a political issue but an issue that in day-to-day reality is leading to deaths in Iran and Iraq. Hardly anyone would consider an end to the U.S. ban to have any impact on the Iranian regime in terms of its continued human rights abuses, however in Iraq there can be little doubt that an end to the ban will save lives.

Feburary 28th, British Iraq War veteran Danny Fitzismons learned he'd been found guilty. He had been accused of being the shooter in a Sunday, August 9, 2009 Green Zone incident in which 1 British contractor, Paul McGuigan, and 1 Australian contractor, Darren Hoare, died and one Iraqi, Arkhan Madhi, was injured. Danny was sentenced to life in prison, to be served in Iraq. We don't endorse the Iraqi 'justice' system for obvious reasons. But I also don't want to be like all the Scott Horton groupies who fell silent when the pedophile was found guilty this month. The big thing in England right now among certain elements of the press is to trot out a story about Danny Fitzsimons. You can click here for a Rochdale article which will tell you he was arrested -- he was arrested -- and offer his mother's defense ('Step-mother!' Liz Fitzsimons has stood by Danny publicly and loudly, some children are lucky enough to have multiple parents) but what it fails to note (and it's one of the better articles in terms of fairness) is that Danny was convicted of nothing. (Scott Horton had entered a guilty plea years ago on another sexual sting case. People should have been bothered by that.) You can say he was arrested but that's it. Had he been found guilty of the crime he was accused of, it wouldn't change the fact that we don't believe in Iraqi 'justice' is just.

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