Released US Afghan war prisoner Bowe Bergdahl smeared by corporate media


This video from the USA says about itself:

4 June 2014

On Tuesday, “Fox and Friends” cohost Brian Kilmeade went after Robert Bergdahl over the beard the father of freed POW Bowe Berghdal grew while his son was in captivity.

“[Bergdahl] says he was growing his beard because his son was in captivity,” Kilmeade said. “Well, your son’s out now. So if you really don’t — no longer want to look like a member of the Taliban, you don’t have to look like a member of the Taliban. Are you out of razors?”

On last night’s “Daily Show,” Jon Stewart fired back with a response so perfect it should be framed:

“First of all, who the fuck are you to judge what a guy does if he thinks it might help him get his son back?” Stewart asked. “And I don’t want to complicate your hatred of facial hair there, friend, but my guess is if you gave Bob Bergdahl a bandana and a duck, you’d like him just-fucking-fine.”

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

US media campaign targets released Afghan war POW Bowe Bergdahl

4 June 2014

In the 72 hours since he was released by the Taliban in exchange for five prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has come under increasingly vitriolic attack from right-wing US political circles and the media, which have denounced him as a deserter and traitor. There have been calls for him to be tried and even shot.

His father, Bob Bergdahl, has likewise been vilified for his efforts to obtain his son’s release, which included learning Pashto and Dari, the main languages of Afghanistan, communicating via the Internet with the Taliban, and growing a long and uncut beard to mark the time his son was held captive.

Media outlets from CNN to NBC and the other major broadcasters have repeatedly run interviews with soldiers who served with Bergdahl accusing him of deserting his post. Some of them have placed the blame on Bergdahl for the death of six US troops who, they claim, were killed during a six-month intensive search for the missing soldier.

The media has also made a great deal of recent Twitter posts from Bob Bergdahl expressing sympathy for Afghans killed in the war and their families and calling for the release of all detainees being held at Guantanamo.

Prior to his disappearance, Bowe Bergdahl made clear in letters to his family and discussions with fellow soldiers his revulsion over the US war in Afghanistan and his sympathy for the Afghan people. There is little doubt that the primary factor behind the vitriol against the Bergdahls is their antiwar sentiment and the fear in ruling class circles that it will further fuel already broad popular opposition to the war in Afghanistan and the general warmongering policy of the Obama administration.

Bowe Bergdahl had been a Taliban prisoner since June 30, 2009, when he was captured while his unit was on patrol in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan. The Pentagon promoted Bergdahl twice during his captivity, from private first class to corporal and then to sergeant, something the military brass would be unlikely to do for a known deserter. At the same time, the military compelled soldiers who served with Bergdahl to sign nondisclosure statements.

The Pentagon and State Department pushed aggressively to obtain Bergdahl’s release, with a series of military sweeps aimed at rescuing him, followed by on-and-off negotiations with the Taliban using the government of Qatar, a Persian Gulf sheikdom, as the intermediary.

The talks resumed last fall after a Taliban commander long opposed to any deal stepped down and the Islamic fundamentalist group supplied a “proof-of-life” video of Bergdahl. There were press reports of ongoing talks in February, suggesting the one-for-five trade that was eventually made, but the deal was not finalized until last week. The actual exchange took place on Saturday, May 31.

The initial criticism of the deal came from congressional Republicans and the right-wing press, including Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, along predictable partisan lines. The deal was held up as another example of the Obama administration’s supposed weakness in foreign policy, alongside Syria, Ukraine and Benghazi.

The Republicans are clearly hoping to use the Bergdahl case to whip up their right-wing base and sections of the military in advance of the November congressional elections.

The White House response was equally predictable—pointing to its killing of Osama bin Laden and expansion of drone warfare as proof that the administration is not “soft” on terrorism, and citing similar exchanges conducted by Israel, such as the trading of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for a single soldier, Gilad Shalit, held in Gaza for three years.

The axis of the right-wing campaign shifted Monday and Tuesday to focus on attacks on both Sergeant Bergdahl and his family. The commentaries took on an increasingly frenzied tone, with Fox News claiming that “many members of the intelligence community suspect he may have been an active collaborator with the Taliban.” The Wall Street Journal published a column suggesting that the proper treatment for the returning soldier was a firing squad.

The circumstances under which Bergdahl was captured remain obscure. The returned POW is undergoing medical treatment in Germany at the main overseas US military hospital and has not yet spoken publicly.

Several former members of his unit have been quoted by the media claiming that Bergdahl left his post in the middle of the night, without his rifle, and went out into Taliban-controlled territory. Facebook pages with headlines like “Bergdahl is a traitor” and “Bowe Bergdahl is not a hero” have attracted tens of thousands of supportive postings.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, said in a posting on his Facebook page Tuesday that the issue of rescuing Bergdahl was completely separate from any ensuing investigation into his conduct while on patrol in Afghanistan. “Like any American, he is innocent until proven guilty,” Dempsey said. “Our Army’s leaders will not look away from misconduct if it occurred. In the meantime, we will continue to care for him and his family.”

Unnamed Pentagon officials subsequently told the press that there would be a “full inquiry” into the circumstances of Bergdahl’s disappearance and capture.

According to the New York Times, Bergdahl “left behind a note in his tent saying he had become disillusioned with the Army, did not support the American mission in Afghanistan and was leaving to start a new life.”

The Wall Street Journal reported: “An Army investigation of why Sgt. Bergdahl left his post was never completed because officials were unable to talk to him. But many military officers reviewing the material gathered for the investigation concluded that he had walked off the outpost because he became disillusioned with the war, according to a senior defense official.”

Rolling Stone magazine reported in 2012, based on an interview with Bergdahl’s parents, that three days before he disappeared he sent them an e-mail that said, “I am ashamed to even be American,” and “The horror that is America is disgusting.”

“I am sorry for everything here,” Sergeant Bergdahl wrote. “These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid, that they have no idea how to live.”

He described seeing an Afghan child run over by a US military vehicle. “We don’t even care when we hear each other talk about running their children down in the dirt streets with our armored trucks,” he wrote.

Bowe Bergdahl’s father, despite his conservative religious views—Bowe was home-schooled by his mother in their hometown of Hailey, Idaho—came to deeply oppose the foreign policy of American imperialism in the Middle East and Central Asia. He openly sympathized with other long-held prisoners, including those in Guantanamo.

As for the five prisoners released from Guantanamo, four were former high-level officials of the government of Afghanistan when the Taliban was in power, captured in the initial US-led invasion in late 2001. They are Mohammad Fazl, deputy defense minister; Mullah Norullah Noori, governor of Balkh province; Khairullah Khairkhwa, governor of Herat province; and Abdul Haq Wasiq, deputy minister of intelligence. The fifth prisoner, Mohammed Nabi Omari, was a military commander with ties to the Haqqani network, formed under CIA auspices to fight Soviet forces in the 1980s.

These were public officials of a state overthrown by US military action, and thus entitled to treatment as prisoners of war. Instead, they have been held indefinitely as “terrorists,” subjected to interrogation and likely tortured, all in violation of the Geneva Conventions. Some 12 years later, the Obama administration has suddenly reclassified them as POWs for the purposes of the Bergdahl trade.

Part of the bitterness in the right-wing attack on the prisoner exchange is that the Obama administration has undercut any rationale for holding Taliban captives at Guantanamo Bay after the official end of the US combat role in Afghanistan at the end of 2014. Under international law, POWs must be repatriated at the end of hostilities, and if the senior Taliban at Guantanamo are now regarded as POWs, all other Afghans held there should be eligible for release as well.

The American media is once again exhibiting its boundless capacity for dispensing propaganda and promoting the most backward and reactionary conceptions. Such is the campaign of vilification directed against Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, released May 31 in Afghanistan in a prisoner exchange with the Taliban: here.

The right-wing media is denouncing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl as a “deserter” who wasn’t worth ransoming from the Taliban, but the real villains are the architects of the disastrous Iraq and Afghan wars who frivolously put the many Bergdahls in harm’s way: here.

Did Sergeant Bergdahl desert the Army or did the Army desert him? Here.

White House War-Pushers and Gutless Generals: The Real Villains of the Bergdahl Tale: here.

Tell : Quit beating up an American soldier and tell the truth about the cost of war! Here.The right-wing campaign against released Afghanistan POW Bowe Bergdahl is intensifying, with death threats to his family and vitriolic denunciations of the freed soldier in the media and on Capitol Hill: here.

French Prime Minister Valls gives in to National Front anti-refugee racism


This video says about itself:

France: Mass student protest after Roma girl gets deported

18 October 2013

Hundreds of pupils in Paris took the day off school to protest on Thursday in retaliation for the deportation of foreign students. Showing solidarity with their peers, the pupils argue everyone has a right to education.

The protest follows the deportation of 15-year-old Roma student Leonarda Dibrani, who was expelled from France to Kosovo October 9.

The demonstration marks a backlash to Minister of the Interior Manuel Valls‘ comments in September, when he said most of the 20,000 Romas in France had no motivation for integrating into society and should be sent back to their countries of origin.

By Pierre Mabut in France:

Police attack immigrant camp in Calais, France

29 May 2014

Stepped-up attacks on immigrants are the Socialist Party government’s response to the rising vote for the neo-fascists in this week’s European elections.

On Wednesday morning at 8am, hundreds of French riot police broke up makeshift immigrant camps in the port city of Calais on the English Channel. Three camps with 800 undocumented immigrants, of all nationalities, but most of whom were Syrians, Afghans and Africans, were torn down by police and the occupants forced to scatter to avoid detention. Most of the immigrants had got wind of the police operation and fled the area before their arrival.

This stepped up attack on immigrants by French authorities is the response of the Socialist Party (PS) government of Prime Minister Manuel Valls to the neo-fascist victory in France of the National Front (FN) in the European elections three days ago. The government, along with traditional opposition parties like the UMP in the National Assembly, are responding by persecuting the immigrants, promoting the FN’s program.

The pretext for the raid on immigrant camps was the need to treat a widespread case of scabies among immigrants. However, none of the promised shower units and clean clothing was made available to those forced to flee the police operation. Cécile Bossy of the Doctors of the World charity organisation said, “They didn’t offer the showers which were supposed to be in place for the evacuation”.

Buses were lined up for the evacuation to an unknown destination, but very few immigrants went aboard, believing this was a ploy to move them away from Calais. Immigrants aided by support groups clashed with police.

The port of Calais has become the last stop for thousands of refugees from war and hunger in their attempt to reach England across the Channel. The camps in Calais have been destroyed several times, the last being in 2009 by the right wing conservative president Sarkozy, when it was referred to as the “jungle”.

At least eight immigrants have died in Calais this year, crushed to death in the attempt to board trucks and buses to cross the channel to England. Three weeks ago, a 23-year-old Afghan, Asif Hussainkhil, was picked up just before hypothermia set in, drifting in the Channel on a makeshift raft. The raft was composed of wood planks, a floater, a tarpaulin and a table leg for a mast with a bed sheet. He remained undeterred and said he would go again.

The PS is moving along the same reactionary path as the FN and the UMP. The latest move against immigrants comes after the FN leader Marine Le Pen won the North West constituency of France in last Sunday’s EU elections with 33.6 percent of the vote—the biggest gain for the FN and well above the 25 percent for the FN throughout France.

… These parties’ record in running down traditional industries and creating mass unemployment has allowed the neo-fascist FN to demagogically pose as the only opposition.

The treatment meted out to the Calais immigrants by the PS government, which got less than 14 percent in the EU election, is a sharp expression of the rising attacks on immigrant workers taking place throughout France.

The PS government has carried out mass deportations of the Roma and, through its nomination in March of former Interior Minister Manuel Valls as prime minister, is making a law-and-order appeal to far-right sentiment.

FRENCH police used bulldozers to chase over 650 Syrian, Afghan and African migrants from their camps in port city Calais today — destroying homes as they went: here.

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NSA spies on all mobile phone calls in Afghanistan


This video is called WikiLeaks reveals NSA records all cellphone calls in Afghanistan.

So, the United States NSA is not only spying on all mobile phone calls in the Bahamas

By Thomas Gaist:

US collecting all cell phone calls in Afghanistan

24 May 2014

WikiLeaks on Friday revealed that the US has been surveilling all cell phone conversations in Afghanistan as part of its SOMALGET mass data collection program. SOMALGET is one component of a broader NSA effort, including a program called MYSTIC, which collect communications data in Mexico, Kenya, the Philippines, Iraq and elsewhere.

Millions of voice clips and reams of telephone metadata are collected and stored as part of the SOMALGET/MYSTIC program, which taps into entire national cellular networks. Three days ago, Glenn Greenwald‘s The Intercept revealed that SOMALGET was being used to collect phone calls made from the Bahamas and an unknown country, now revealed to be Afghanistan.

Greenwald said at the time that revealing the second country would “lead to deaths,” and complied with demands from top US security officials that he not publicize the information. The Washington Post also chose to preserve the secrecy of the surveillance against Afghanistan.

In a “statement on the mass recording of Afghan telephone calls by the NSA” published Friday, WikiLeaks rejected the “national security” rationale for concealing the country’s identity. A statement from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stated, “The Intercept stated that the US government asserted that the publication of this name might lead to a ‘rise in violence’. Such claims were also used by the administration of Barack Obama to refuse to release further photos of torture at Abu Ghraib in Iraq… WikiLeaks has years of experience with such false or overstated claims made by US officials in their attempts to delay or deny publication.”

“WikiLeaks has confirmed that the identity of the victim state is Afghanistan. This can also be independently verified through forensic scrutiny of imperfectly applied censorship on related documents released to date and correlations with other NSA programs,” the statement said.

The mass spying against Afghanistan underscores that a primary function of the spying apparatus is to identify and target opponents of the neocolonial agenda being pursued by the US ruling elite, while terrorizing the civilian population into submission. As noted by the WikiLeaks statement, the US government’s targeted drone program relies heavily on information gathered from NSA surveillance operations.

“We know from previous reporting that the National Security Agency’s mass interception system is a key component in the United States’ drone targeting program. The US drone targeting program has killed thousands of people and hundreds of women and children in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia in violation of international law. The censorship of a victim state’s identity directly assists the killing of innocent people,” the WikiLeaks statement said.

Previous reports have provided ample documentation that data gleaned from the surveillance programs is used for tracking individuals selected by the US command structure for death by drone. As the NSA documents published by The Intercept enthusiastically note, SOMALGET and related programs “make possible remarkable new ways of performing both target development and target discovery.”

NSA analysts work alongside CIA agents at US embassies and military bases worldwide to facilitate the targeted killings. According to a former drone operator at the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) High Value Targeting task force, who spoke to The Intercept anonymously, targets are selected using cell phone tracking and data analysis technologies.

Strikes are ordered based on the activity pattern of the target as assessed by these surveillance methods, without visual confirmation from agents in the area. Using “geolocation” technology codenamed GILGAMESH, the NSA’s “Geo Cell” section enables drones to carry out strikes against a particular SIM card believed to be held by a target. The JSOC operator acknowledged that targets sometimes lend their SIM card to a friend or relative, resulting in strikes against unintended targets.

“People get hung up that there’s a targeted list of people. It’s really like we’re targeting a cell phone. We’re not going after people—we’re going after their phones, in the hopes that the person on the other end of that missile is the bad guy,” the JSOC member said.

Within the NSA’s Geo Cell section, this practice was summarized by the motto, “We Track ’Em, You Whack ’Em.”

Once they are given the go-ahead, drones launch Hellfire missiles, originally designed for strikes against Soviet armor, as well as GBU laser-guided bombs. These devastating weapons are typically deployed against mud-brick homes in small villages and other unarmored structures.

A report published by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) found that at least 555 victims of US drone strikes have been civilians. The BIJ found that at least 8 drone strikes have targeted mosques and madrasas, killing an average of 2.7 civilians per strike.

Together, the US and Britain carried out at least 1,000 drone strikes in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2012, according to the BIJ. A report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) found that drone strikes account for a third of all civilian deaths from air strikes, and that civilians deaths from drone bombings increased threefold from 2012 to 2013. NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) forces occupying Afghanistan killed at least 3,000 Afghan non-combatants in 2013, UNAMA found.

The US drone war against the population of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), which has killed at least 3,000 people, has also been enabled by extensive NSA surveillance of northwest Pakistan. A Washington Post report last October reported that the NSA has “draped a surveillance blanket over dozens of square miles of northwest Pakistan,” adding that “NSA threw the kitchen sink at FATA.”

A report issued by Pakistan’s government confirmed that at least 94 children have been killed by US drone strikes in the FATA. The BIJ found that drone strikes ordered by the Obama administration have killed at least 273 civilians in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

A top-secret NSA document leaked by Snowden revealed that NSA surveillance “played a key supporting role” in the 2011 assassinations of US citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan.

On Thursday, the United States House of Representatives passed the “USA Freedom Act,” a piece of legislation that has been presented as a National Security Agency (NSA) “reform” bill. In reality, the bill, which was modified after the intervention of the Obama administration, would allow for the continued bulk collection of telephone records, while doing nothing to address other illegal NSA spy programs: here.

In a New Zealand television interview last week, American investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill said in that the National Party government is “extremely aware” of US drone attacks, including one which killed NZ citizen Daryl Jones (also known as Muslim bin John) in Yemen last year. Scahill, author of Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, who was in Auckland at a writers’ festival, also implicated the Australian government: here.

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Bahrain MP sacked for criticizing torture prison


This video says about itself:

Woman among warlords

28 October 2009

Malalai Joya tells CNN’s Heidi Collins how she was expelled from Afghanistan’s parliament.

In Afghanistan, there was a member of the, basically puppet, parliament, feminist Malalai Joya. She dared to criticized the continuing oppression of women, the United States occupation and war, and the fact that most MPs were warlords with blood on their hands. Ms Malalai Joya’s ‘colleagues’ reacted by illegally expelling her from parliament.

In Bahrain, there was a member of the, basically puppet, parliament, Osama Muhanna al-Tamimi. Though belonging to the Sunni tendency in Islam, like the royal family, he criticized the absolute monarchy. Violent supporters of that monarchy then made an attempt on Osama Muhanna al-Tamimi’s life.

The name of this MP is also spelled, in Latin script, as Osama Mehanna.

This video about Bahrain says about itself:

Dr. Rula Al-Saffar: “Jaw Prison holds over 3000 detainees”

18 February 2014

Dr. Rula Al-Saffar also presented some powerful statistics and case studies, focusing more specifically on the conditions of political prisoners. She retold the stories of Talib Ali, a 15 year old with a 50 year conviction sentence, and Dr. Ali-Ekri, the only specialized paediatrics surgeon in Bahrain who is facing a 5 year sentence simply for treating patients of the uprising.

Of the largest prison in Bahrain — Jaw prison — she described how the maximization of the prison’s 1600 people capacity is being overlooked to the extent where the prison now holds over 3000 detainees, with up to 12 inmates having to share cells built for 3-4 people.

From Al-Akhbar in Egypt:

Bahrain sacks MP for criticizing prison conditions

Published Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bahrain’s parliament on Tuesday sacked an MP who had criticized conditions at a prison where inmates are mostly anti-government activists held over protests.

Parliament speaker Khalifa al-Dhahrani said 31 MPs out of the 40-member chamber voted to eject Osama Mehanna, in a statement published by BNA state news agency.

Dhahrani did not disclose the reason behind his removal.

But political sources pointed out that Mehanna had a fierce argument with fellow MPs on April 29 after he criticized the situation at Jaw Prison, in southeastern Bahrain.

Mehanna was elected in October 2011 in partial polls held to replace 18 MPs of the opposition Al-Wefaq party who resigned in protest at violence used to quell a month of pro-reform protests.

Hundreds [of] protesters and oppositions activists have been arrested since the eruption of the February 2011 uprising.

Human rights groups have condemned the government’s use of torture to convict and jail activists.

Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

From AFP news agency:

Amnesty International on Monday voiced concerns over the “continuing detention of prisoners of conscience and the harsh sentences handed by Bahraini courts in connection with rioting, including against children.”

Pakistani freed from US torture jail in Afghanistan after ten years


This video from the USA says about itself:

“From the producer of Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and Who Killed the Electric Car? comes a documentary that takes a critical look at the Bush administration’s policy on torture by investigating the death of an Afghan taxi driver who, after being taken into the custody of American soldiers at Bagram Air Force Base, suffered fatal injuries at the hands of U.S. soldiers. In 2002, American soldiers accused an Afghan taxi driver of taking part in a deadly rocket attack. Five days after being handed over to the U.S. military for questioning, the man was found dead — the victim of a brutal bout of torture and abuse according to the medical examiner who inspected his body. The examiner concluded that the taxi driver’s hands had been bound to the ceiling, forcing him to stand for hours on end as his assailants repeatedly — and relentlessly — kicked him.

Compelled to finally unearth the truth about the mysterious fate of the deceased taxi driver, filmmaker Alex Gibney takes viewers on an illuminating journey from a tiny Afghani village to Guantanamo Bay to Abu Ghraib, and ultimately the White House, to explore why the man who turned up in the morgue wasn’t the only victim to fall prey to the Bush administration’s controversial foreign policy.

By examining the sad fate of the wrongly accused, the toll that the War on Terror has taken on an exhausted United States military, and Justice Department official John Yoo’s internal memo concerning interrogation techniques, the filmmakers behind Taxi to the Dark Side encourage viewers to weigh out the issues for themselves, and never accept what’s told to them on face value. The film won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature at the 80th Annual Academy Awards.”

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Pakistani man captured by British forces in Iraq released from US Bagram prison in Afghanistan after 10-year ordeal

Saturday 17th May 2014

Pakistani citizen Yunus Rahmatullah is released from 10-year detention by the US at Bagram airbase following a transfer from British forces in Iraq which the Supreme Court suggested could be a war crime.

A Pakistani citizen held at Bagram detention centre in Afghanistan for a decade has been released, it was revealed yesterday.

Yunus Rahmatullah was held at the US airbase for 10 years without charge, trial or access to a lawyer after his capture by British forces in Iraq and subsequent rendition to Afghanistan by British forces in 2004.

After years of government denials that Britain had been involved in rendition operations, Mr Rahmatullah’s capture by British forces was finally revealed to Parliament in February 2009 by then-secretary of state for defence John Hutton.

Despite admitting its role in Mr Rahmatullah’s illegal detention and transfer, the government refused to assist him.

As a result legal charity Reprieve and Leigh Day solicitors took action on Mr Rahmatullah’s behalf by legal action.

It was subsequently revealed that British officials were aware of a US intention to transfer Mr Rahmatullah from Iraq to Afghanistan at the time, yet did nothing to prevent it.

The Supreme Court in London suggested in 2012 that his rendition may have amounted to a war crime, stating: “The, presumably forcible, transfer of Mr Rahmatullah from Iraq to Afghanistan is, at least prima facie, a breach of article 49 [of the fourth Geneva Convention]. On that account alone, his continued detention post-transfer is unlawful.”

Mr Rahmatullah is said to be in a grave mental and physical condition as a result of his ordeal.

Reprieve legal director Kat Craig said: “After 10 years of unimaginable abuse and imprisonment at the hands the British and US forces, Yunus Rahmatullah deserves a full investigation into the circumstances of his capture.

“As its pernicious role in the worst abuses of the ‘war on terror’ continues to come to light, the British government must hold its hands up and right the wrongs of the past.”

Leigh Day solicitor Rosa Curling added: “The UK authorities transferred our client in to US custody, when it knew there was a real risk such a transfer would expose him to torture, mistreatment and abuse.

“They failed to take proper steps to try to ensure the US returned him to UK custody. To date, the UK government has refused to undertake such an investigation.”

Today in 2003: New York Times exposes torture of prisoners by US and British soldiers in Basra, Iraq: here.

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