“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” (Poem by Emma Lazarus, inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty)
“Do not come, do not come…if you come to our border, you will be turned back.” (Vice President Kamala Harris to migrants fleeing destitution and rampant violence in Central America)
Kamala Harris this week made her first foreign trip since taking office as US vice president. It was a lightning three-day visit to Guatemala and Mexico aimed at firming up the use of their security forces to violently suppress the flow of Central American migrants seeking to escape desperate poverty along with police and gang killings, and to reunite with family members in the US.
Much was made in the US and international media of Harris being the first woman and first African/Asian-American to represent Washington abroad on such a high-level state visit. A child of immigrants, Harris was entrusted with the dirty and, indeed, homicidal job of coordinating a multinational crackdown on immigration.
Nowhere could one find a more blatant illustration of the role played by identity politics in defending the capitalist order at home and US imperialist interests abroad.
Harris’s trip included window-dressing along these lines, including a promised $40 million to “empower” young women. This represents a drop in the ocean for a country where fully half of the population is categorized as poor and which has the sixth-highest malnutrition rate on the planet. As for the rate of chronic child malnutrition, it now stands at a shocking 70 percent, the highest in the world, with children dying every day for lack of food.
Harris spent her day in Guatemala in discussions with President Alejandro Giammattei, an extreme right-wing politician who came into office with the backing of the country’s ruling oligarchy and the military. He was nearly overthrown last year by mass protests, which included the burning of the Congress building, that broke out against government austerity and its criminal mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Giammattei’s political career included a stint as chief of the country’s prisons, during which security forces carried out a massacre of inmates in 2006. He was briefly jailed on charges related to the killings and the horrendous conditions inside the penitentiaries. This could have served as a bond with Harris, who as California’s attorney general carried out an aggressive campaign to overturn court rulings that conditions in the state’s prisons constituted “cruel and unusual punishment” in violation of the US Constitution.
If only we believed in humanity. Just realized that was a song by Carole King, "Believe in Humanity," that appeared on her FANTASY album.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:
Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Turkey's persecution of the Kurds continues, Iraq wants to go nuclear, an alleged killer walks out of Iraqi custody, and much more.
Not the frustration in this Tweet by Kamal Chomani:
Kurds are frustrated -- with the Turkish government's aggression, with the weak responses from their officials and much more. The issue has gotten very little attention from the mass media Even a webinar on the subject that took place yesterday drew little attention (it will be posted here at the Washington Kuridsh Institute's YOUTUBE page but is not up yet). Here's the press release for the event:
Turkey is sliding deeper into authoritarianism, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan escalating state repression of the Kurds and all real and perceived forms of opposition within the country. Outside of the country’s borders, he utilizes a large vast network to intimidate, threaten, and silence exiled Kurds, and continues to intensify Turkish military aggression in the Middle East and beyond, with the Kurdish people as his primary target. The Turkish military periodically attacks the Kurdish regions of Iraq and Syria and is now openly working to expand its zones of occupation in each of these countries, bringing war and mass displacement to areas that were once among the most stable in the region, ethnically cleansing these regions in an attempt to minimize or eliminate Kurdish presence and exacerbating an ongoing refugee crisis. Against a backdrop of war and existential threats from all sides, the Kurds, who played a leading role in eliminating the so-called caliphate of the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist organization in cooperation with the US-led global coalition, enjoy relative autonomy in both Iraq and Syria.
The US and others have benefited greatly from the resistance of the Kurds against ISIS and the stability of their autonomous areas in Iraq and Syria and, while the Turkish state responds to the hard-won achievements of the Kurdish people with increased hostility, international reaction to these unprovoked attacks remains muted. As Erdogan continues to threaten and attack these regions, the US will eventually need to address this destabilizing Turkish military aggression. The Biden Administration knows the Kurds well, and has demonstrated a willingness to break with the foreign policy of its predecessors, but has yet to decisively respond to Erdogan’s belligerence or, more broadly, clarify its vision for the Middle East. Our distinguished speakers will discuss the regional and global consequences and policy ramifications of the Turkish state’s war on the Kurds, the emerging Kurdish dynamic in the Middle East, and possible policy approaches for Washington.
Sierwan Najmaldin Karim, President of Washington Kurdish Institute (WKI)
Zainab Morad Sohrab, Co-chairperson of Kurdistan National Congress (KNK)
US foreign policy in the Middle East and the role of the Kurds – Dr. Henri Barkey
Turkish military aggression as a destabilizing force in South Kurdistan (Northern Iraq) and North & East Syria/Rojava – Hiwa Osman
The geostrategic importance of Turkey & Kurdistan and the new Kurdish dynamic – Nilüfer Koç
Does the Biden Administration have a Kurdish policy? – Amb. Peter Galbraith
Webinar Date: Tuesday, June 8, 2021
Time: 10:00 AM EDT / 4:00 PM Brussels
Journalist Wladimir van Wilgenburg Tweets of the event:
As noted here before (many times over the years), I know Peter Galbraith. If the video goes up in the next 24 hours, we'll note it and probably emphasize Ptere's remarks.
The sponsor of the event notes:
And they Tweeted:
Meanwhile analyst Baxtiyar Goran notes:
When not destroying forests, the Turkish government threatens in other ways. ANHA notes:
The Turkish occupation state continues to practice water war against northern and eastern Syria by cutting off waters of the Euphrates River for several months, which portends a humanitarian and environmental catastrophe.
Turkey began blocking the Euphrates River since January 27, by pumping a quantity of no more than 200 cubic meters per second of water into Syrian territory, which is much less than the amount agreed upon between the Syrian and Turkish government in 1987.
The agreement stipulates that Turkey must allow the flow of water in a quantity of no less than 500 cubic meters per second into Syrian territory, while Iraq receives about 60 percent of this amount.
The Turkish breach of the agreement led to a significant decline in the river level inside Syrian territory, which led to repercussions on agriculture and electricity.
[. . .]
The Turkish water war is not new. It has been using it against Iraq and the Kurds for years, as the Iraqis suffer as a result of Turkish policies.
The Iraqis’ crisis worsened after their northern neighbor Turkey began operating the Ilisu Dam in 2018, which it built in 2006 in the village of Ilisu in Northern (Bakur) Kurdistan, with a height of 140 meters and a length of 1800 meters. This caused great harm to Iraq and to the Kurds who live on their lands in early Kurdistan.
The dam project has sparked international outrage for several reasons, the most important of which is the low level of water flowing into Syria, Iran and Iraq, as well as the impact of more than 50,000 residents of the areas surrounding the dam area in Bakur Kurdistan, especially in Elisu and other surrounding villages that will be completely submerged under the waters of the dam. Turkey justified the construction of the dam as it would provide electric power and job opportunities.
Since 2017, water shortages in Iraq have led to measures such as banning rice cultivation and prompting farmers to abandon their lands, and Basra has seen months of protests over the lack of potable water.
Beri said about this: "What is new about the issue of water war is that Turkey in the past used to cut off water or reduce the flow of water through certain dams in the past, but in the current form, Turkey is on the issue of the Euphrates water war in particular, as it is said to "catch two birds with one stone.” First, it fills the dams it has built in Northern Kurdistan, and thus also destroys large and comprehensive archaeological areas in order to obliterate the heritage of the Kurds there and in order to hide everything that is a Kurdish trace. The other point is to cut off the water from North and East Syria and West Kurdistan.
The Kurdistan Region is in northern Iraq. The pandemic takes place in all areas of Iraq. The World Health Organization notes:
Iraq COVID-19 caseload: The total number of COVID-19 cases in April 2021 were 214,275 with 1,142 associated deaths, making April the month with the highest caseload and associated fatalities throughout the pandemic. Meanwhile, the cumulative number of cases since the onset of the pandemic in Iraq were 1,065,199 with 15,465 associated deaths as of the end of April 2021.
COVID-19 second wave spike: The number of cases constituting the second wave continued to climb, with high incidence and positivity rates in all governorates and doubling in more than 2/3rd of the governorates, reaching the peak during EPI week 16 (19-25 April 2021). An urgent need remains to scale up preparedness and response activities with all efforts to speed up the vaccination campaign, including counteracting anti-vaccination rhetoric through trustworthy key messaging, enhancing vaccination preparedness, and implementation of the campaign in IDPs and refugee camps.
COVID-19 Taskforce: The regular Health Cluster COVID-19 Task Force meeting was held on 15th April 2021 with full participation of MoH, UN agencies, Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) Working Group and partner agencies. One of the points discussed was the integration of COVID-19 Vaccination pillar into the workplan, making a total of nine pillars. The MoH summarized the main pillars and activities of the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan (NDVP), including the implementation process. The NDVP clearly included IDPs and Refugees as part of the Government’s priority groups for vaccination and collaboration with the Ministry of Migration and Displacement (MoMD) is ongoing to allocate vaccines for them.
Returning to the topic of violence, a militia leader who was detained for the murder of two activists has been released according to Jane Arraf:
ARAB NEWS also notes the possible release:
Iraq has released the commander of the Popular Mobilisation Forces militia (PMF), also known as Al-Hashd Al-Sha’abi, Qassim Musleh, news TV channel Al-Arabiya reported.
The leader was arrested on May 26 by troops from the country’s Ministry of Interior over extremism charges.
Earlier on Tuesday, there were conflicting reports about the release of Musleh. Sources close to the PMF said the country “released Musleh due to lack of evidence.”
If he has been released with charges denied, it's another slap in the face of the protesters
Though the US media largely ignored the arrest it was, as Sinan Mahmoud (THE NATIONAL) reminds, serious news:
The day after the arrest of Mr Musleh, armed militia members took to Baghdad's streets, gathering near the office of the prime minister and at an entrance to the Green Zone, risking a dangerous escalation of force.
Security forces and the elite Counter-Terrorism Service were deployed to protect the government and diplomatic missions in Baghdad.
The October Movement began protesting in the fall of 2019. They endured threats, violence and even murder. A number of activists have been assassinated. Journalists who cover the protests have also been threatened. These threats come from factions of the government including the militias. To date, there has been no one convicted for the murder of an activist. Sura Ali (RUDAW) reports:
The head of the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council reiterated the legal
right to peaceful demonstrations and called on the courts and
investigative bodies to follow up on the killing of activists in a
meeting with protest representatives, the council said on Tuesday.
"The requests and observations of the demonstrators' representatives were listened to, and the investigative bodies must resolve the cases of the killing of protesters and the attacks they were subjected to, and direct all federal appeals courts to follow up on those cases," Judge Faiq Zaidan said in a statement.
The meeting comes the day after the mother of activist Ihab al-Wazni,
assassinated last month, gave Zaidan 12 days to reveal the identity of
Wazni’s killers and put them on trial.
In a press conference on Monday, Samira al-Wazni demanded "disclosure of her son's killers in a public trial, to serve as an example to those who do not sanctify the blood of Iraqis.”
"I give the head of the Supreme Judicial Council, Mr. Faiq Zaidan, and the judge of the terrorism court 12 days to reveal the perpetrators and bring them to a public trial…. if not, may god, the country and the people forgive me for what I will do in the coming days,” she said from Karbala.
There's nother big issue out of Iraq in the news cycle and I honestly don't want to touch it. The stupidity involved is just so great and so potentially costly.
ALJAZEERA runs a BLOOMBERG articcle that's typical of the coverage and is entitled "Iraq plans nuclear power plants to tackle electricity shortage."
I don't support nuclear energy -- one of the main reasons I never fell for the con that was Andrew Yang.
But I don't get how anyone -- even those who support nuclear energy -- could see this as good news.
There have been how many suicide bombers in Iraq in the last 18 years? Do we think that -- because there were so many -- no more potential ones exist?
Why would you build a nuclear plant in Iraq?
And Bully Boy Bush used what lie to justify the Iraq War -- I know, it's a long list of lies. But I'm referring to the one that the late Ambassador Joe Wilson noted was not true -- that Saddam Hussein had sought yellow-cake uranium from Africa. So now let's just put enriched uranium in Iraq?
When the government can't protect themselves, let alone the people?
It makes no sense.
We're going to wind down by noting two segments from BREAKING POINT.
BREAKING POINT is Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti's new show -- their old show has been infested with some refugee from The Hair Club For Men.
New content at THIRD:
- Truest statement of the week
- Truest statement of the week II
- A note to our readers
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- TV: Mini-King and Mini-Halston
- KINDLE UNLIMITED (Jim, Ava and C.I.)
- STEPHEN CURRY: THE CHILDREN'S BOOK: THE BOY WHO NE...
- We're not psychics
- Tweet of the week
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- This edition's playlist
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