Friday, June 11, 2021

Really? THE WALTONS?

I thought Ben Lawson was very good in FIREFLY LANE and I really hope he is not the person in the coffin at the end of season one. But as much as I was impressed by him . . . Papa Walton?

From Denise Petski's report for DEADLINE:

 
The CW has rounded out the cast for its original made-for-TV movie The Waltons’ Homecoming. Ben Lawson (Firefly Lane) stars as patriarch John Walton Sr., joining previously announced Bellamy Young (Scandal) who stars as his wife Olivia, Logan Shroyer (This is Us) as John Boy and Richard Thomas, who originally starred as John Boy Walton in The Waltons series, as “The Narrator.”
The Waltons’ Homecoming marks the 50th anniversary of The Homecoming: A Christmas Story television movie, which aired December 19, 1971, and launched the long-running series The Waltons, created by Earl Hamner.
 

A new TV movie about the Walton family? Wonder how that will go over. Honestly, I didn't care for the original. I think it aired on Fridays on CBS. It was just a little too goody- goody for me. I think I was watching THE ELLERY QUEEN MYSTERIES. I might watch the TV-movie though. If I do, it will be for three reasons. First, Mr. Lawson. Second? From the same DEADLINE article:

Marilyn McCoo as Sister Harriet and Billy Davis Jr. as Brother William. McCoo and Davis are the original stars and lead singers of the legendary group The 5th Dimension and whose first studio album in 45 years, Blackbird, recently hit #1. They will be seen this summer in Questlove’s directorial debut Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) for Searchlight Pictures/Hulu.


They are still together and still singing. I loved The 5th Dimension. So that is three reasons that I may watch the TV movie -- despite not being a fan of the original series. (I did laugh whenever THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW would send THE WALTONS up.)


This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:


 Friday, June 11, 2021.  The Kurds, the PKK, Turkey, we walk through a lot of history



Kurdistan Junis Tweets:


"The population of Afrin was once at least 96 % Kurdish. Following the Turkish occupation, most of them were displaced, & the proportion of the Kurdish population fell to around 25 %. ". If this isn't genocide, what is it then ?!!!!


"In south Kurdistan, they have established tens of military and intelligence bases and outposts to be used against the interests of our people," Elyana Elyan remarked this week regarding Turkey's illegal actions in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq. 


The Kurdish People's Assembly Tweets:


The Turkish military is attempting genocide against Kurds in South Kurdistan, targeting civilians and a large refugee camp. Ask your MP to sign an Early Day Motion condemning Turkey’s actions, and to speak up in favour of an arms embargo on Turkey:


What is going on?  Insisting that they must defend themselves from the PKK, the government of Turkey is violating international law by sending troops into Iraq on raids and other missions and bombing the Kurdistan Region with war planes and drones.  PKK?  The what?  The PKK is one of many Kurdish groups which supports and fights for a Kurdish homeland. Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described them in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk." The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has been a concern to Turkey because they fear that if it ever moves from semi-autonomous to fully independent -- such as if Iraq was to break up into three regions -- then that would encourage the Kurdish population in Turkey. For that reason, Turkey is overly interested in all things Iraq. So much so that they signed an agreement with the US government in 2007 to share intelligence which the Turkish military has been using when launching bomb raids. However, this has not prevented the loss of civilian life in northern Iraq. Aaron Hess noted, "The Turkish establishment sees growing Kurdish power in Iraq as one step down the road to a mass separatist movement of Kurds within Turkey itself, fighting to unify a greater Kurdistan. In late October 2007, Turkey's daily newspaper Hurriyet accused the prime minister of the KRG, Massoud Barzani, of turning the 'Kurdish dream' into a 'Turkish nightmare'."


While Turkey pretends the problems started with the emergence of the PKK, they are lying.  The PKK is not an initiating incident.  It is a response to Turkey's long persecution of the Kurds -- perscuetion of the Kurds in Turkey and elsewhere. 


Sirwan Renas (Washington Kurdish Institute) offers his take:

The foundations of Kurdish nationalism in contemporary history can be traced back to the historical transition from pre-modern empire political system to the modern state-building order in the Middle East. In regard to Islamism, what makes Kurdish nationalism different from its rival nationalisms is the contemporary historical context through which it emerged. 

The Arab, Turkish, and Persian/Iranian nationalisms are state nationalisms that were constructed in opposition to Western colonialism — namely, British and France — at the beginning of the twentieth century and the domination of the United State in the aftermath of World War II. In contrast, Kurdish nationalism is a stateless nationalism aimed at the creation of the state of Kurdistan, and, thus, it emerged in opposition to the domination of Turkish, Iranian, Iraqi, and Syrian states — not the domination of Western powers. While for Turks, Arabs, and Persians, Western powers were seen as interventionists and occupiers, for Kurds the Turkish, Iranian, Iraqi, and Syrian states were perceived as occupiers. Even though Britain and France played a major role in dividing Kurdistan, for Kurds, it was their occupying authoritarian states that suppressed almost every Kurdish liberation movement throughout the twentieth century— a brutal suppression that led to all kinds of violations of human rights, from denying their fundamental rights to practice their language and culture and the possession of their homeland to mass killings, chemical bombings, ethnic cleansings, and genocides. The fact that the Kurdish national rights have been violated by the occupying states (not Western colonialists) made a significant difference in how Kurds perceive Islamism. 

Kurds do not have any state of their own to identify themselves with, nor do they identify themselves with any of the pre-modern Islamic empires or with any of the modern occupying states. That is not to say that Kurds have played no active role in the Islamic empires. Saladin Ayyubi, the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty, for example, led the Muslim military campaign against the Crusaders in the Levant. However, Kurds do not identify themselves with the Ayyubid dynasty and it has not become a basis for Kurdish nationalism. On the contrary, Turks identify themselves with the Ottoman Empire, Persians with the Safavid Empire, and Arabs with many Islamic dynasties since the birth of Islam. 

The transitional period from pre-modern empires to modern states in the Middle East is a crucial moment that helps us to understand how Kurdish nationalism and Islamism were affected by this historical context. It is widely believed that nationalism as a political ideology is a modern phenomenon.



Zooming in on recent events, Washington's Kurdish Institute notes the following for Iraq:

 

  • Turkey’s ongoing incursion into Iraqi Kurdistan stoked tensions between the Kurdish Democratic Party’s (KDP) Peshmerga forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) last week. On Saturday, the Peshmerga accused the PKK of ambushing one of its convoys traveling to Metina in an attack that killed five Peshmerga, wounded five more, and was denounced by Kurdish and Iraqi officials and US and European envoys. The PKK responded by denying involvement and calling for an “independent investigation.” That said, unidentified assailants killed another Peshmerga member near Zakho on Tuesday, and a joint federal and regional parliamentary group is set to conduct a fact-finding mission in the region soon. Meanwhile, Turkish forces conducted additional airstrikes, plundered more trees from the region, and appear poised to exploit KDP-PKK tensions by launching additional incursions into Iraqi Kurdistan.  
  • Turkish forces made good on a threat from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and ignored US warnings by launching an airstrike on the Makhmour refugee camp and killing three civilians. Erdogan continues to claim the camp, which houses thousands of Kurds who fled Turkish military operations during the 1990s, is providing a safe haven to PKK members. 
  • The first joint Peshmarga-Iraqi operation targeting ISIS (Da’esh) took place east of Tuz Khurmatu on Sunday. The Iraqi Security Media Cell announced Iraqi forces also launched five airstrikes on Da’esh positions during the operation. Likewise, a senior Peshmerga commander told Rudaw 13 Da’esh tunnels were destroyed during the operation. Iraq’s “Disputed Territories” have remained plagued by Da’esh since Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed militias removed the Peshmerga in October 2017.  
  • Anti-government protests continued in Kirkuk Governorate due to ongoing shortages of water, electricity, gas, and waste collection. Dozens of taxi drivers launched a demonstration to protest the lack of fuel, and even non-Kurdish demonstrators praised former governor, Dr. Najmaldin Karim, for his successes in providing services while bashing the current acting governor, Rakan Saed al Jabouri, who was imposed on the governorate on October 16, 2017. 



On the sixth of this month, Hunar Rasheed (RUDAW) reported:


Harmin Waheed, 19, is afraid she will miss out on this year's classes as she has fled home and sought shelter in another village with her family because of the ongoing conflict between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Waheed, a grade 12 student, and her family left the village of Kesta along with dozens of other families in late April. She says instead of going to school, she now just does housework. They have taken shelter in Dargalka village.

"They [Turkey] fired missiles plenty of times causing huge bangs, not letting us study. They did not let us continue our studies. Nobody was in the mood to study," she recalls of the misery they faced back home in Kesta.

Waheed and her family took shelter at Begova Highschool in the village of Dagalka.

"The aftermath leaves us terribly frightened. Although the fight is a little far from our village, we can still hear it. The loud bangs sound so close, they terrify us," Warshin Hassan, a student, told Rudaw on Monday.

Teachers have warned that the number of students is declining year by year thanks to the decades-long impact of warfare in the mountainous border region.

According to data from the Amedi Education Department, 22 schools and 800 students have been affected by Turkish airstrikes and bombings.



The government of Turkey's actions are destroying lives.  On the eight of this month, Khazan Jangiz (RUDAW) reported:


Members of the Kurdistan Region and Iraqi parliaments visited Duhok province on Tuesday to speak with villagers displaced from border areas where Turkey is conducting an operation against alleged Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) positions, a Kurdish MP has told Rudaw.

“A parliamentary delegation of the Kurdistan Region’s parliament, with some members of the Iraqi council of representatives … is investigating the tension at the border areas in Duhok province, in addition to losses created by this tension between both Turkey and the PKK forces, as well as the PKK and Peshmerga forces,” Shno Shahid Ashqi, a Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) MP said on Tuesday.

“We are sitting with some of the village chiefs, we are listening to their complaints. They are the ones who have evacuated their villages,” he added.

Ashqi, who is also a member of the Health, Environment and Consumer Rights committee in the Kurdistan Region parliament, said the villagers have said suffered great losses in a number of areas.

Not only “have their trees been cut but all of their lands has been burned and destroyed. They have suffered great losses, more than what is talked about in the media and on social media. Their houses are looted, their electricity destroyed, their livestock is being stolen.”


Yesterday, Yousif Musa (RUDAW) reported:

Six months after they fled their homes in northern Duhok because of clashes between the Turkish army and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group of villagers returned and found their homes had been looted, their belongings stolen or destroyed.

"I saw all the doors were broken. The house supplies have been taken out into the streets, there was a mess," said Mahdi Naif, one of three men who snuck back to visit their village Roisy in the Batifa district. “The whole village was looted.”

"We found that they had left our houses in shambles," said Omer Ali, another villager who visited their homes. "The doors were smashed, no supplies were left for the people. What's left is not usable."

Roisy village has been abandoned for six months because of conflict between Turkey and the PKK. Eighteen families fled the community for safer areas in December. Four Turkish military bases have been established within close proximity of the village.

The PKK is an armed group fighting for greater rights for Kurds in Turkey. It has bases in the Kurdistan Region's mountains and the Turkish army frequently carries out cross-border operations against the group. Local civilians are victims of the conflict. They are targeted in bombing campaigns and driven from their homes. More than 500 villages have been emptied in the Kurdistan Region over three decades of Turkey-PKK conflict.
 


Let's also not forget the outrageous attack that took place last weekend when Turkey bombed a UN refugee camp.  Here is AFP's report on that bombing.




Where did Turkey get the drones?  The US has been supplying them with drones and other weapons for years.  In exchange, Turkey has provided spying intel on Kurdistan and other areas in Iraq.  Also, Turkey agreed to host a CIA outpost close to the border they share with Iraq.



We noted Elyana Elyan's statement earlier.  You can find her remarks in the video below.





She was speaking Tuesday at the webinar hosted by the Washington Kurdistan Institute.  The webinar was moderated by Sierwan Najmaldin Karim and Philip Kowalski.  The guests included analsts Hiwa Osman, Nilufer Koc, Dr. Henri Barkey and form US Ambassador Peter Galbraith.  (Dislcosue, I know Peter and have for several decades.)   The Institute issued a statement that included:



For a century, the Turkish state has persecuted the Kurds, denying their very existence, committing countless massacres, and seeking to eliminate the Kurdish identity. Since 2015, the current Turkish regime led by Erdogan has committed countless acts of military aggression against the Kurdish people in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, openly pursing a campaign of ethnic cleansing.
The Turkish military has occupied areas in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq for many years and is actively seeking to expand its presence – at present, there are tens of Turkish military bases and posts throughout South Kurdistan. This most recent act of unprovoked aggression is part of a larger plan to broaden Turkey’s zones of occupation in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, prevent any type of self-determination for the Kurdish people, and eventually eradicate the Kurdish identity.
We condemn these attacks in the strongest terms and call upon the United States government and the international community to take immediate action to bring Erdogan’s campaigns of military aggression to an end and sanction his regime for systematic violations of international law and global human rights conventions.
We reaffirm once again a solution to the Kurdish question will only be achieved through dialogue between the Turkish state and the PKK, and the United States and international community could play an integral role in encouraging and facilitating this dialogue to achieve just peace for all peoples of the region.


That statement was issued in April.  It could have been issued any day of any month of any recent year.  That's how long Turkey's illegal actions have been carried out.  That's how long the world has largely looked the other way.

The government of Iraq has also not offered a strong response.  Though various officials have spoken out, there has been no leadership on this issue and the current prime minister has no clear stance.  In addition, Andam Aso Aziz notes:


The Iraqi president and foreign minister are Kurds. We have several Kurdish diplomats and parliamentarians in Iraq and the KRG. If we are not working effectively to throw Turkey out of the KRG now, when are we going to do it?

 

Also rather silent has been the US government.  But the attack over the past weekend did prompt one public remark from a US official who was quoted in a REUTERS report:

 

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield visited Ankara last week and said she told officials that "any attack targeting civilians at Makhmour refugee camp would be a violation of international and humanitarian law".


Elyana Elyan noted of the most recent wave of attacks, "The Turkish state's choice of this date, April 24th for the initiation of operations is no coincidence as it is the anniversary of the Armenian genocide.  This is a clear message, an open threat of genocide."


Changing topics, kidnappings continue in Iraq.  Persecution.org notes:


 Assyrian activist, Husam Alkass, was abducted and later released by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), according to the Assyrian Policy Institute. Alkass, who was a member of the Assyrian Human Rights Network, was captured in Derik (Al-Malikiyah), located in northeastern Syria near the Turkish border.

Alkass was abducted on June 3 and later released on June 4. His whereabouts were unknown during his capture. Prior to his abduction, he was known for documenting human rights violations committed by the de facto Kurdish authorities. According to Anadolu Agency, Alkass was kidnapped and beaten by a group of masked men while he was returning to his car from shopping that afternoon.

Al-Malikiyah has a rich history of Assyrian heritage, with its indigenous inhabitants fleeing to Syria the Assyrian Christian genocide from Turkey. The city is now occupied by the terrorist group. The PYD has links to the perhaps more well-known Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which operates in Turkey and Iraq. The terrorist group closed all Syriac-Assyrian schools in Al-Malikiyah in August 2018, claiming they did not have the correct licenses. The closure was widely seen as repression of the Assyrian minority groups.

For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: press@persecution.org


Earlier this month, the Assyrian Policy Institute had Tweeted:


The Assyrian Policy Institute is deeply concerned by reports that Assyrian activist Husam Alkass, a member of the Assyrian Human Rights Network, has been abducted in Derik (al-Malikiyah), Syria by militiamen affiliated with the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).
Image



We include that Tweet to put a face to Husam's name.  Again, he has been released. 

Yesterday, UNAMI issued the followig:


Baghdad, 10 June 2021 – A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has today been signed between the General Secretariat of the Iraqi Council of Ministers’ (GSCOM) Women Empowerment Directorate and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to advance gender equality and women empowerment in Iraq.

Building upon existing structures and ongoing gender mainstreaming efforts, the new partnership will strengthen the institutional and analytical capacity of relevant Iraqi stakeholders to advance gender equality, focusing on the specific needs of women and girls in Iraq. It will help Iraq achieve its gender equality commitments under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by integrating gender perspective in governmental policies and plans.

One of the priority activities under the MoU is to assist the government’s Central Statistical Organization to establish an e-platform that aims at bridging the gender classified data gap by facilitating the flow of reliable, gender-specific data across different institutions in the country that will help shape government policies.

The Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, His Excellency Mr. Hamid Al-Ghizi said: “Whereas women around the world are seen as powerful agents of change towards advanced, sustainable and inclusive societies, Iraqi women have played a strong role in addressing the crises and challenges that Iraq has experienced and have had an effective role and contribution in establishing inclusive society. Hence, we believe that this MoU is an important step towards strengthening these roles”
“While Iraq still grapples with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has disproportionately affected women and girls, exacerbating numerous existing social, economic and political challenges. This calls for increased gender responsive efforts towards achieving gender equality. UNDP Iraq will continue support the government to mainstream gender equality and fulfil its national obligations under the SDGs. This MoU with GSCOM will further strengthen inclusive and gender sensitive policies, as well as our efforts to achieve gender equality in Iraq,” says Resident Representative of UNDP in Iraq, Zena Ali Ahmad.

Media contact:
Mohammed Al-Bahbahanee, Communications Specialist | mohammed.al-bahbahanee@undp.org | +964770 439 9222





The following sites updated:





Thursday, June 10, 2021

Historical realities

This week, I have been noting history -- reality versus the Cliff Note version that we are taught which reduces movements and power and really just miseducates us. With that in mind, I want to highlight Taytu Bitul's piece at BLACK AGENDA REPORT:

 
Folks, having spent much time navigating my way through the twilight zone that is American Foreign Policy, I feel compelled to share with you all how the cynical (but very real) game of sabotaging and undermining a large African country is played while loudly proclaiming that Black Lives Matter. Here is the international playbook. Note, this playbook requires meticulous alignment and careful coordination amongst vicious terrorist groups, their trolls, paid Washington DC lobbyists, US and European Union (EU) government officials, major western media outlets, UN agencies, and Amnesty International. It seems impossible to achieve this level of coordination, but apparently it can be done! In fact this playbook is being executed right now as we speak.
Ok back up, a bit of background first. If you thought colonialism was over think again, the game simply morphed into an even more sinister and dangerous form. It is no longer about white colonialists seeking to rule over the darker skinned natives so as to loot their resources … no no no … how would that look in today’s evolved and racially sensitive society where “Black Lives Matter”?!? Decent people of all races would be on the streets to protest and that would not do at all. No silly …. today you play a more nuanced game and you recruit Black politicians and Black terrorist groups who are willing to play along. Obfuscate, confuse, confound, so as to hide your true intentions, that is how you play the game in this day and age.
“The game simply morphed into an even more sinister and dangerous form.”
Think about it: when Italy invaded Ethiopia back in 1935, African Americans were lining up to enlist to fight for the lone independent African country. In Jamaica 1,400 men tried to enlist to fight on Ethiopia’s behalf. The African America pilot John Robinson (aka “The Brown Condor”) actually went to Ethiopia to train pilots and fight on behalf of Ethiopia; he was named Commander of the Ethiopian Air Force by then Emperor Haile Selassie. Who wants that kind of global black solidarity in the age of Black Lives Matter?! No, it would not do at all. You need to be more sophisticated this time and enlist Black people on your side, the better to obfuscate and confuse what is actually happening.
So let’s take a look at the new more sophisticated playbook:
Step 1 - Find yourself a local group in your target country (preferably a “Liberation Front” that is organized, has boundless capacity for violence and corruption and great potential to be a de-stabilizing force in the nation.
Step 2 - Throw all your support behind them, and get them to the seat of power by hook or by crook. Regardless of how unpopular, corrupt or incompetent they may be prop them up by pumping in your tax-payers money and load them up with loans too (the better to undermine the country in the long-term).
Step 3 - Ensure all your media fall in line with your narrative on how wonderful this group is and what promising new leaders they are, the more they loot, kill and destroy, the more you talk them up in your press. As long as they do your bidding you have their back.
Step 4 - If by some miracle some years down the road this group is unseated (despite your best efforts) through a popular uprising or some such inconvenient event, you fight like hell to get them re-installed back in power (of course under the guise of concern for human rights, finding some sort of Weapons of Mass Destruction etc., be creative).

That is an important and accurate assessment.

 

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:


 Thursday, June 10, 2021.  Attacks on US-interests in Iraq, a probable killer walks free, and much more.


The most dominant Iraq item in the news cycle?  Another attack.





ALJAZEERA reports:


Multiple rockets have targeted two Iraqi military bases hosting US-led coalition troops and foreign contractors but nobody was hurt in the attacks.

Iraq’s joint operations command said in a statement on Thursday one attack near a military base next to Baghdad’s airport was spearheaded by three explosives-laden drones, and one of the UAVs was intercepted and destroyed.

Three rockets also hit Balad airbase, north of the capital, on Wednesday without causing any casualties or damage, a military statement said. The base houses foreign military contractors.


AFP explains, "Balad air base, north of Baghdad, is used by US company Sallyport to service F-16 fighter jets flown by Iraq’s air force and has repeatedly been targeted by rocket fire. Another US company, Lockheed Martin, withdrew its staff from the base last month amid concerns about the safety of its personnel."  Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) provides this context, "The attacks are the latest in a string that continue to target the U.S. presence in Iraq. Over a dozen have targeted Iraqi military bases and Baghdad's highly fortified Green Zone since U.S. President Joe Biden assumed office this year. More than 10 people have been killed, including two foreign contractors."  Sura Ali (RUDAW) notes, "In May, a leader in the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF or Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic) affiliated with the Iraqi Ministry of Defense said there are Iranian-made drones in Iraq that are ready to be used against US combat troops." THE NEWSHOUR's Leila Molana-Allen Tweets:


More info on last night's attacks in #Iraq: at least four rockets hit Balad and #Baghdad aiport air bases hosting #US troops.


In other news, Qasim Muslih was released yesterday ending a brief, momentary hope many Iraqis had that someone might be held accountable for the wave of assassinations targeting Iraqi activists.  Balsam Tweets:


In his first statement after release, Qasim Muslih, militia leader, says, 'it is expected that Hashed leaders would face terrorism charges whilst terrorists become martyrs...Hashed has played a role in establishing the state of Iraq'. Who was he referring to as 'terrorists'?


You really don't need to ask that question.  Qasim Muslih and his cohorts have designated activists as terrorists.  When their wave or propaganda took place in January of 2000, they attacked and beat Shi'ites hanging truths around Baghdad about their fallen wet dream -- assassinated by the US government -- who was nothing but a thug who terrorized Sunnis, Iraq's LGBT community and freedom.  Putting a poster is an offense that can get you executed in Qasim's mind, it is terrorism.  And taking down a poster promoting Qasim and his fellow thugs?  It's cause to murder.


JoJo Jabbani reminds:


Qasim Muslih: "Any hand which [takes down] posters of the Hashd and Abu Mahdi AlMuhandis, I will cut it and send it back to you" Many such audio recordings of direct threats, but still "insufficient evidence" for his role in assassinations of activists.


Terrorists, in Qasim's mind, are those activists who make up The October Movement, a group of largely Shi'ite Iraqis who came together to demand better public services -- we'll come back to that in a minute -- and an end to corruption.  Making those demands?  In Qasim's mind is an act of terrorism.  The militias were always a bad thing but since they were folded into the official Iraqi military, they've been even worse.  They have threatened and bullied the current prime minister.  And they got away with it.  


Louisa Loveluck and Mustafa Salim (WASHINGTON POST) report:


Iraq's government suffered an embarrassment Wednesday after a rare move to limit impunity among Iran-linked militias instead resulted in a commander accused of several killings walking free from custody and into a hero's welcome.

Although Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s government issued no statement about the May 26 arrest of Qasim Musleh, a militia commander from the southern city of Karbala, the fallout from it has dominated news broadcasts and underscored the administration’s weakness as militias kill and intimidate members of a protest movement that brought Kadhimi to power.

The arrest had sparked immediate controversy. Iran-linked militiamen arrived at the gates of Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone within hours. The army was deployed. That standoff ended only when one of Kadhimi’s predecessors and political foes, Nouri al-Maliki, stepped in to defuse tensions, officials say.

In a statement Wednesday, Iraq’s judiciary said that it had not seen sufficient evidence to convict Musleh and that he had provided a document showing that he was out of the country during the killing of at least one of two civil society activists in Karbala whose deaths he is being linked to. Iraqi officials had previously said that they had a case file proving his connection to the killing.



Better public services?  I said we'd come back to that.  Though not reported on that often these days, Iraq still has a problem of providing potable water -- safe drinking water.  For example, Khazan Jangiz (RUDAW) reported yesterday:

Sulaimani’s health directorate on Wednesday expressed its concern over increasing cases of diarrhea among the public, urging residents to refrain from using unsuitable drinking water.

“The data that we have, we will not hide it, it’s caused us worry and fear because the number of people infected with diarrhea has tripled and now a large number of people are suffering from diarrhea,” Sabah Nasraddin, the general director of Sulaimani’s health directorate, said in a press conference on Wednesday. 

“We suspect if it’s not controlled, it could be a cause for the spread of cholera,” Nasraddin warned. “One of the reasons as you know is the drought, because the water has decreased and people are resorting to well water and water that is not suitable for drinking, which will spread disease.”


ARAB NEWS reports:

 However, a senior Iraqi government official denounced the decision to release Muslah.

“Telephone communications on the topic of these assassinations between Muslah and the direct perpetrators, threats to relatives, witness testimony, explanations received under questioning — all were supplied,” the official said.

“The government presented all available evidence, but the judges have decided to release him because of pressure exerted on them.” Muslah’s release coincided with the arrival in Baghdad of Gen. Esmail Ghaani, head of the Quds Force, the overseas unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Ghaani met militia and political leaders to discuss tensions between the government and the Hashd Al-Shaabi. Muslah’s arrest last month sparked tensions and fears of violence.

Hashd Al-Shaabi forces surrounded Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s headquarters inside the heavily fortified Green Zone, the seat of the Iraqi government, and Iraqi security forces and the elite Counter-Terrorism Service were deployed to protect the government and diplomatic missions.


FREE MALAYSIA TODAY Tweets:

Qasim Muslih's release without charge is one of many failed govt efforts to rein down armed groups. #FMTNews


YEMEN DETAILS Tweets:


An official #Iraq government source decried the decision to release pro-Iran #PMU commander Qasim Muslih, adding that “the government presented all available evidence, but the judges have decided to release him because of pressure exerted on them.”



We'll note this Tweet.


The man on the left is Ihab Al-Wazni and the one the right is Fahim Al-Ta’aie. Please share this thread to expose the power of Iran within iraq, the unacceptable actions of the Iranian backed militias, the resistance and the crimes they have committed against many activists.
Image
Image



The two remain dead.  Their alleged killer walks free.


A friend at the Pentagon asked me to note the following which was posted by the US Defense Dept yesterday:


The Defense Department celebrates the extraordinary achievements of its LGBTQ+ service members, civilian employees and their families' sacrifices during Pride Month, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said today at the Pentagon.

Speaking to an audience that included the department's senior-most leadership, the secretary said as DOD reflects on the progress it's made in making sure that everyone who wants to serve and is qualified, can do so with dignity and respect.

"We know we have more work to do, but thanks to your courage, advocacy and dedication, the Department of Defense has been able to do more to secure LGBTQ+ rights than at any other time in history," Austin said.

That includes efforts to ensure all military families and spouses receive the benefits their loved ones have earned, and to which they are entitled; to helping veterans who previously were forced out because of their sexual orientation to apply to correct their records, or — where appropriate — to return to service, he said.

"[It's] often said that progress is a relay race [and] not a single event. That's certainly been true when it comes to the pioneers who fought for this community’s civil rights in the military," the secretary said.

Throughout American history, LGBTQ+ citizens have fought to defend our rights and freedoms — from the founding of our nation to the Civil War, from the trenches of two World Wars to Korea and Vietnam and from Afghanistan to Iraq, the secretary said. "They fought for our country even when our country wouldn't fight for them."

Austin noted how not every advocate of this community's rights has been an LGBTQ+ community member. Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, was one leader who took a courageous stand against the law, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which led directly to its repeal 10 years ago.

Today, the department commemorates the repeal of that law and welcomes a new generation of soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardians and Marines, openly and proudly serving their country, Austin said. 

"And today, we reaffirm that transgender rights are human rights and that America is safer — it is better — when every qualified citizen can serve with pride and dignity," the secretary said.

He called such efforts real progress and emphasized how the repeal was hard-fought and hard-won.

However, DOD's work isn't done until it tackles the challenge of sexual assault and harassment in the force, he emphasized. 

"And we know that service members from this community are at elevated risk of this crime.  Our work isn't done until we recognize that the health of the force fully incorporates mental health, including for LGBTQ+ service members," the secretary pointed out.

"That's why we must recommit to treating all wounds, both visible and invisible. And our work still isn’t done until we create a safe and supportive workplace for everyone — one free from discrimination, harassment and fear," Austin said.

"No one should have to hide who they love to serve the country they love," he said. "No service member who is willing to put their life on the line to keep our country safe should feel unsafe because of who they are."

Further, the secretary said, "No citizen who is qualified, willing and able to do the job should be turned away. So yes, we've got more to do. But I'm confident we'll get there because of all of you, and because of the LGBTQ+ service members and civilians around the world who never stop living the values they so bravely defend."

The secretary said he knows this community is especially proud this month and rightfully so. "I'm proud, too," he said, adding, "proud every month and every day to call you my teammates and to serve alongside you — because your lives, careers, service and stories are living proof that we are stronger and more effective together."

Austin thanked the LGBTQ+ community for their service, their skill, and change and progress as they continue to lead. "It matters very much to the defense of this nation," he said.




The following sites updated: