Continuing the conversation!!! Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker talk about a better world and how we get there.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Thursday, February 4, 2021. Two UK troops injured in Iraq, Mustafa consolidates power making a recent CIA assessment highly probable, and much more.
Margaret Kimberley: I mean the fact that military spending is 60% of the discretionary budget. It's literally why we can't have nice things. How do you talk about the need for infrastructure, healthcare. education? You name it, anything that we don't have that we ought to have. It's the elephant in the room. How do you not talk about the $740 billion budget, the 800 military bases, the environment? The US military's the world's biggest polluter. And you're not going to have a different society at home. You're not going to have unjustice around the world and then have justice at home, it's not going to work that way. You're either going to have it everywhere or no where and I'm not trying to quote Dr. King but I just mean that quite literally. You can't have US soldiers allowed to kill people, Obama claiming the right to kill anybody he wanted and then have justice with policing in this country. It's not going to happen.
Thank you to Katie Halper for expanding her range of guests. Margaret Kimberley is a gifted voice who can nail many topics. It's good to see her on Katie's show and hopefully other of the progressive shows will consider having her on -- HARD LENS MEDIA, THE JIMMY DORE SHOW, Jackson Hinkle and others.
On the topic of programming . . . I call out WBAI and have for years. Some of these conversations here are mirrored in conversations with friends at WBAI. A friend called yesterday, WBAI, and I didn't have time to return the call until this morning. Point? WBAI is in fundraising mode.
Normally, my attitude would be, "Your on your own." I'm not really pleased with how PACIFICA turned itself into the organ for the Democratic Party. I'm about to ask you to consider pledging to WBAI. If you don't have any money, don't you dare. Or if it's going to hurt you to donate, don't. But if you do have something to spare, even two dollars, please consider donating.
WBAI is broadcasting GUNS AND BUTTER. If you've forgotten, the David Corns and Norman Solomons got Bonnie's show pulled from KPFA. Bonnie does groundbreaking work. She covers various topics. You may agree with her, you may not. (9/11 is the area that has the David Corns and others spitting on her.) But her programs do make you think and she is fearless in a time when so many people are timid.
"Behind the Green Mask" is the name of the episode of Bonnie's show that was broadcast yesterday morning at 9:00 am. People want to talk about censorship but they never want to talk about Bonnie. She's a real journalist and she has a big following. She made tons of money for KPFA in fundraising drives -- no one matched her. Despite this, she was attacked. She was attacked for covering this topic and that topic. She stayed true to form even in the face of attacks. KPFA dropped her and she didn't falter or cower, she took her show to her own website.
People sometimes sneer at Gary Null and there were efforts to run him off WBAI. I believe they were successful for awhile. But Gary is on WBAI -- they realize they need him every fundraising cycle. I see medical doctors. That may be my failing but that's what I do. I have friends who use healers and that's their right. Clearly, Gary serves a public interest with his programming, there is an audience that actively seeks him out. His being on WBAI should never have been an issue -- he delivers listeners, his listeners deliver fundraising money.
If it weren't for Bonnie, a lot of the special programming KPFA and PACIFICA did over the '00s and 10s would not have happened. PACIFICA was founded to offer differing opinions and to be a voice for dialogue and free speech. I honestly loathe most music programs on PACIFICA. I think it's a waste, for example, to have a DC station that can't really originate coverage of DC and should be the home for a national PACIFICA program but instead offers a lot of record spinning. Dee jays playing records.
But I'm not screaming, "Take them off!" I can find something else to listen to. The David Corns think it has to be their way and that anyone they want to censor should be censored. I don't know when WBAI brought Bonnie back, my friend didn't either, but I will applaud them for doing the right thing politically and the smart thing financially.
So that's my pitch -- WBAI, airs in NYC on 99.5 FM, And there are various ways to make a financial donation. You can stream the show anywhere in the world. I believe it's still true, but any donation you make to a PACIFICA RADIO station lets you vote in that station's elections if they have them the year of your donation. So you get another way to make your voice heard.
I wish I'd had time to return the call yesterday, my friend wanted to tell me about GUNS AND BUTTER and that it would be airing that day (Wednesday). I'm not asking for anyone else, by the way. I think most of the outlets used us and misused our money and we can do a whole snapshot on that and how they used Iraq as a fundraiser and then walked away from the topic. But no one deserved what happened to Bonnie Faulkner and Bonnie especially didn't deserve that treatment.
Turning to Iraq, Alice Fordham reports (NPR, link is text and audio):
With the gold domes of the famed Kadhimiya shrine as a backdrop, nearby streets full of shops, markets and tea-sellers in Baghdad look bustling and vibrant, even at night. Tempting windows display sparkly clothes and cascades of candy in rainbow colors.
But shopkeepers say no one has been buying much since Iraq devalued its dinar against the dollar last year.
"Regarding the economic situation and the rise of the dollar — it destroyed the people," says Saad Salman, the owner of one of the sweet shops. "Purchasing power has fallen. Someone who used to buy a kilogram, now they buy half a kilogram, you know?"
Around the world, economies have been crushed by the pandemic. The International Monetary Fund reported in October that most Mideast economies plunged into recession. But some places are especially vulnerable, among them Iraq. Its economy depends overwhelmingly on oil exports, and as travel halted and demand for fuel dwindled, government revenues tumbled along with oil prices.
Alice got Mustafa al-Kadhimi to speak in the segment -- good for her. But other than getting "a get," it doesn't amount to much of anything. What listeners needed was to hear from economic analysts and not just one because we didn't need the pro-off-the-hook-capitalism. Iraq is being pushed and prodded and this is a battle that has gone on every since the 2003 US-led invasion. The IMF is not the answer and, as Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani noted several years ago, it is actually the problem.
On Mustafa, Suadad al-Salhy (MIDDLE EAST EYE) offers:
Two weeks ago, the Falcons Cell was one of the Iranian-backed factions’ most-prized assets in Iraq.
The elite intelligence unit, hailed as Iraq’s “most dangerous” spy network, is CIA and MI6 trained. It boasts hundreds of successful operations against militant operatives, and rivals all other Iraqi intelligence services in its scope and prowess.
Yet in one swoop, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has changed its leadership and snatched this prize from his Shia rivals, securing for himself an organisation that gives him knowledge and power that his political enemies will find deeply troubling.
By any measure, it is a coup for Iraq’s embattled prime minister.
Since taking office in May, the former intelligence chief has struggled to control his country’s various security and military agencies, most of which are under the control of political and armed factions backed by Iran.
The Falcons Cell, which is affiliated with the interior ministry’s Federal Intelligence and Investigations Agency, has training and equipment that are among the region’s finest.
Taking control of it means Kadhimi now oversees the second-most effective government spying system operating in Iraq, whose human and technical resources have been exploited occasionally to target and terminate political rivals and civilians over recent years, security officials and politicians told Middle East Eye.
Mustafa isn't inept, he's dangerous. And that, by the way, isn't my opinion. That's the CIA's assessment. Now we talked here during Nouri's first term about how the US installed Nouri al-Maliki because his CIA assessment noted his massive paranoia and how the US government thought they could play to that to keep the puppet in line and on string. We told you about that long before WIKILEAKS was a public term and long before they released cable after cable noting the US government assessing Nouri's level or paranoia. The CIA considers Mustafa dangerous and has briefed the Biden administration on that. They consider him a despot in the making and note all the consolidating of power that he's done in his brief tenure (he became prime minister on May 7th).
What should the US role in Iraq be -- you see that topic all over -- from pro-War Hawks to well meaning people and everyone in between. But the hurdle for the new administration right now is trying to figure how accurate the CIA assessment of Mustafa is.
While they figure out what to do in Iraq, the Biden administration is relying heavily on the KRG -- a semi-autonomous area in Iraq and one that better have gotten something in return, something of real value for the trades being made because the people of the KRG are now fully educated and up to speed that Joe Biden is not their friend and that the US has lied to them over and over -- betraying them over and over -- since the days of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. MEHR NEWS notes:
The New Arab Newspaper reported on Thursday that US forces are expanding the Al-Harir base in the Iraqi Kurdistan region.
The report quoted Iraqi sources as saying that the Al-Harir base has been developed for the first time in years and that the process has been underway for about two months.
An Iraqi Defense Ministry military intelligence officer also told the New Arab that the development of the Al-Harir base includes the construction of underground shelters and several warehouses.
The officer further noted the military base has recently become the center of US operations management in neighboring areas of northern Syria, which are controlled by Kurdish militias known as the Syrian Democratic Forces.
If the United States is to restore some of its influence as a first step towards a sustained and mutually beneficial alliance with Iraq, it needs to become a credible partner again beyond the security sector. In policy terms, the Biden administration’s immediate focus will need to be on stabilizing the Iraqi economy and helping the country through elections. But more broadly, the United States needs to deepen its influence in Iraq from the bottom up and needs to reset U.S. ambitions. Security cooperation will remain a priority, but U.S. policymakers should also consider economic and institution-building initiatives that, while less grandiose than some past efforts to “fix” Iraq, actually address crisis areas that matter to everyday Iraqis and which have been the source of their discontent. The United States also needs to hold its erstwhile Iraqi allies to account, making sure that their agenda is aligned to U.S. interests rather than simply using U.S. support for their own narrow ends. In other words, to promote its national interests successfully, Washington needs to think smaller, and it needs to be much more conditional in its financial, institutional, and security support.
We’re Not in Kansas Anymore, Toto!
The domestic changes that Iraq has witnessed over the past four years have been profound. The most obvious difference is that Iraq is no longer at war with the Islamic State. Since that conflict was won, Iraq has undergone internal political turmoil. Beginning with the independence referendum in Kurdistan in 2018, and the subsequent protests in central and southern Iraq, the very basis of the 2003 political compact that has underpinned the Iraqi state has been tested and found wanting. The Kurdistan plebiscite, in which Iraqi Kurds voted overwhelmingly for independence in a vote that the federal government — and most of the rest of the world — refused to recognize, illustrated the corrosive impact of not resolving Iraq’s federalism dispute. The Tishreen protests of 2019, meanwhile, represented a breaking point for young Iraqis frustrated with the unyielding corruption, kleptocracy, and maladministration of Iraq’s political elite.
The elite’s refusal to change, and the violent repression of the protests by a murky mixture of armed groups, some part of the Iraqi security forces, has deepened the divide between citizens and their government. So has the rise of Islamist Shia militias, many of which are linked to Iran. Over the past four years, these groups have become perhaps the biggest barrier to political and economic reform. They have challenged state sovereignty and the government’s management of security affairs within Iraq’s borders.
All of this is taking place amidst the worst financial crisis that Iraq has faced since the 1990s, when it was subject to crippling U.N. sanctions. A fall in oil prices and production has left the government facing a growing fiscal deficit that has so far proved insurmountable. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and his team have preached reform, but they have yet to introduce meaningful change, raising the specter of eventual catastrophic financial collapse in the absence of external assistance.
I think the US needs to let the Iraqi people self-determine. But we don't have articles about that. Those who fund raised off the Iraq War long ago lost interest. We'll examine that more tomorrow.
Whatever the Biden administration decides, the American people better grasp that the Iraq War continues and that people continue to be injured and continue to die. That's the Iraqi civilians, that's the foreign forces that shouldn't be there. Case in point, the UK MIRROR reports:
An SAS soldier was critically injured in a horror parachuting accident during a covert night-time operation against the Islamic State in Iraq.
The trooper suffered horrific injuries when he crashed to the ground in a mid-air collision with a US special forces soldier who was also severely injured.
They managed to raise the alarm which sparked a major rescue operation over fears that the injured soldiers could be captured by IS jihadists.
Both soldiers were working on the same secret operation and had jumped from planes at 18,000ft before they crashed into each other, Daily Mail reports.
The following sites updated: