Friday, August 18, 2006

Meanwhile, in Iraq...

Somewhere, in between the ranting and raving about terra terra terra! and the JonBenet murder suspect's arrest, you might be able to hear the hint of some coverage about that war. You remember the one - the Iraq war? The war that's claiming over 100 victims every single day? The war that isn't a civil war quite yet? The war that's killed 2600+ American soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis?

Oh...that war, you say.

Yes, it's still going on and it isn't ending any time soon if Bush and his neocons can help it.

And, has anyone been paying attention to this?

Turkey and Iran have dispatched tanks, artillery and thousands of troops to their frontiers with Iraq during the past few weeks in what appears to be a coordinated effort to disrupt the activities of Kurdish rebel bases.

Scores of Kurds have fled their homes in the northern frontier region after four days of shelling by the Iranian army. Local officials said Turkey had also fired a number of shells into Iraqi territory.

Some displaced families have pitched tents in the valleys behind Qandil Mountain, which straddles Iraq's rugged borders with Turkey and Iran. They told the Guardian yesterday that at least six villages had been abandoned and one person had died following a sustained artillery barrage by Iranian forces that appeared designed to flush out guerrillas linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), who have hideouts in Iraq.
Frustrated by the reluctance of the US and the government in Baghdad to crack down on the PKK bases inside Iraq, Turkish generals have hinted they are considering a large-scale military operation across the border. They are said to be sharing intelligence about Kurdish rebel movements with their Iranian counterparts.

"We would not hesitate to take every kind of measures when our security is at stake," Abdullah Gul, the Turkish foreign minister, said last week.

No? I didn't think so.

So, what exactly is this 'year of transition' bringing about? More war. More death and destruction. More reporters stuck in their hotel rooms because it's too dangerous to travel the country. If only the world could really see what's going on in Iraq on a daily basis. Perhaps they'd actually be as outraged as they were by the carnage in Lebanon (which also conveniently covered up the ongoing murder and mayhem in the Gaza Strip).

While the US military has been busy handing out insultingly light sentences to the victims of torture and hiding evidence of a massacre, the war's supporters are still scratching their heads and asking, 'why do they hate America?' I guess they're just a bunch of crazy 'Islamic Fascists', right? And, after all, once you can apply a handy (misleading) label to your enemies, who needs to go any deeper to understand what their grievances might actually be? (Could it have anything to do with what's happening to the Palestinians, I wonder?) No. You just name them and kill them. That's how war works. No further explanation required.

Meanwhile, a contractor that defrauded the US government and Iraqis to the tune of millions of dollars has had a jury verdict against it overturned today, while Cheney's pet Halliburton and other war profiteers have raked in billions from the Iraq war.

Then there's this little tidbit of information:

On Sept. 30, 2006, all unobligated money for reconstruction in Iraq reverts back to the U.S. Treasury. This means that unless action is taken now to ensure that this money goes to Iraqis, U.S. corporations will keep their billions, while Iraqis are left with failed projects and little money to recover.

Okay. Does anyone out there still wonder why there is so much resistance to the US government and military in Iraq yet?

Maybe this will help:

Depending on whom you ask, either Bechtel or the Bush administration decided that, instead of getting Iraq's electricity system up and running as quickly as possible, a countrywide assessment of all systems was necessary before any reconstruction could begin. The assessment took five long months. These happened to be summer months in a country where temperatures regularly top 125 degrees Fahrenheit. No electricity meant no fans, no ice, no cold drinks and no air conditioners, and a lack of clean water and reliable sewage treatment. It's difficult to exaggerate the extent of Iraqi suffering during those five months.
Nobody at Bechtel or in the U.S. government denies that the water and electricity reconstruction has failed. According to SIGIR, while $3 billion has been paid out, only half of the projects planned in the electricity, water and sewage sectors have been completed, while nearly a third in the electricity sector have not yet been begun. Many of the systems that have been built are poorly run or have not been connected to peoples' homes. In fact, one of the biggest problems plaguing the electricity system today is the failure to build transmission and distribution lines. Bechtel and some Bush administration officials lay the blame squarely with the Iraqis.

Imagine that. Blaming the Iraqis.

The other problem is money. Iraqis simply do not have enough of it to run the expensive new facilities that they have been handed. The money has gone to U.S. contractors to (largely fail to) build Iraq's systems, rather than to the Iraqis to run the systems after they have been rebuilt.

Around and around it goes.

Hundreds still die every day.
Bush insists on 'staying the course'.
Iraqis live in constant fear and squalor.
The war is expanding by bringing in Turkey and Iran.

And, who is paying attention anymore?

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