Pentagon admits killing Iraqi civilians


This video says about itself:

23 March 2017

Over 130 people trying to take shelter from the fighting in Mosul have been buried under the rubble of a building hit by a coalition airstrike, witnesses say in a video released by Associated Press.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Iraq: US admits to deadly civilian air strike

Monday 27th March 2017

THE US-led bombing coalition admitted on Saturday that it had carried out an air strike on the Iraqi city of Mosul that witnesses said killed hundreds. …

It said it had opened an investigation to determine whether reports of more than 200 casualties caused by the raid earlier this month were true. …

Rescue workers said the raid hit two houses where more than 200 people were sheltering from fierce fighting and artillery fire …

Monitoring website Airwars.org said more than 1,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed by the US-led coalition this month.

US mass murder in western Mosul is aiding, abetting and strengthening ISIS – and not defeating it: here.

International poetry festival in Iraq


This video, in Spanish, is about Maurilio de Miguel from Spain reading his poem Escudo humano en Bagdad (Human shield in Baghdad) at the Al-Marbed international poetry festival in Basra, Iraq, on 24 March 2010.

By Andy Croft from Britain:

A sense of shared humanity in a war-ravaged country

Saturday 4th March 2017

ANDY CROFT reports on the annual Al-Marbed international poetry festival, held last month in Basra, Iraq

I HAVE never seen so many people at a poetry festival before – or so many Kalashnikovs.

A few weeks ago I was in the southern Iraq city of Basra with my friend, the Punjabi poet Amarjit Chandan. We were guests of the Iraqi Writers Union for the 13th annual Al-Marbed international poetry festival.

“Poetry is the Present and Future of Basra” read the banner over the stage in the main hall of the hotel where most of the readings were held.

Dedicated to the late Iraqi poet and communist Mehdi Mohammad Ali, the festival attracted almost 100 poets from Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Iran, Kuwait, Sudan, Iraq, Assyria, Lebanon, Syria and the Iraqi diaspora scattered across the world.

During a crowded week of readings and debates, poetry and music, food and friendship, we visited the birthplace of Basra’s most famous poet Badr Shakir al Sayyab, as well as the Basra international football stadium. There was a showing of the film Samt al-Rai (The Silence of the Shepherd), introduced by its director Raad Mushatat, and one of the festival readings took place on a river cruise on the Shat al-Arab waterway.

The British poetry world likes to think it is popular, with its prizes and awards and celebrities. But this is nothing compared to the role of poetry in Arab culture, where TV shows like Million’s Poet and Prince of Poets regularly attract more viewers than football.

Although six million Iraqis — 20 per cent of the population — cannot read or write, the idea that poetry is a publicly owned, shared and common language somehow persists across all classes.

At some of the evening readings, there must have been 1,000 people — men and women, young and old. One of the most striking performances was by a six-year-old boy reciting, entirely from memory, a 10-minute-long poem comparing Iraq to a beautiful woman.

Although Amarjit and I did not know the literal meaning of many of the poems, we were able to concentrate on the richness of their different cadences and rhythms.

Thanks to our hard-working translators we were also introduced to the work of some fascinating poets, including Iraqi poets Abdulkareem Kasid and Chawki Abdelamir, Hani al-Selwy from Yemen, Mojtaba Al Tatan from Bahrain, Sabah Kasim, Najah Ibrahim, and Souzan Ibrahim from Syria, and Al Wathiq Younis from Sudan.

But, of course, the festival was taking place in a deadly context. Iraq is still at war. The billboards by the side of the roads don’t advertise consumer goods but the faces of young men killed fighting Isis. Each night I was woken by the sound of gunfire to mark the repatriation of local boys killed fighting in Mosul. A notice outside the new shopping centre in Times Square solemnly reminds shoppers: “No smoking. No weapons.”

With a heavily armed security presence at most of the readings, it was hardly surprising that the festival was a serious-minded affair. There were no stand-up poets, comics or performance poets. Instead most of the poets recited long poems, usually about the suffering and grief of the Iraqi people.

An old man read a poem about the death of his son, killed fighting in Fallujah. One poet compared Iraqi children to a forest of young trees cut down before they are full grown. Another observed that every Iraqi child grows up with an older brother called Death.

There was a poem about a local teacher injured by an Isis car bomb. Although she managed to crawl out of the car, her clothes were on fire — which meant that her modesty before God was threatened — so she climbed back into the burning car to die.

Another poet described the poor of the world as the fuel that keeps the fires of war burning. The prayers of the religious, he said, do not belong to God, only the tears of a mother grieving for her dead child.

It is more important than ever that we understand as much as we can about our neighbours on this small planet.

Despite the commercial, ideological, cultural and political pressures to emphasise our uniqueness and our separateness, the differences between us are not very great.

The Al-Marbed poetry festival is a brave and important reminder that poetry is one of the ways in which we can enjoy and explore those differences and at the same time assert our shared humanity.

British drones killing Iraqi, Syrian civilians


This British military video says about itself:

RAF drone kills Afghan civilians 06.07.11

It’s emerged that four Afghan civilians were killed and two wounded when an RAF drone targeting insurgent leaders fired on two trucks in Helmand province. … The incident occurred in the Nowzad District of Northern Helmand in March earlier this year.

By Steve Sweeney in Britain:

British drones may have killed 1,000s of civilians

Tuesday 28th February 2017

SECRET British armed drone strikes may have contributed to thousands of civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria, a new report revealed yesterday.

Drone Wars UK has gathered information regarding British air strikes against Isis in Iraq and Syria and found that Britain had carried out 1,200 air strikes against Isis — launching over 2,500 missiles in 2015 and 2016.

The figures were uncovered through Freedom of Information requests to the MoD over a two-year period.

The campaigners also revealed that armed British Reaper drones secretly crossed into Syria just weeks after a 2014 parliamentary vote limited military action against Isis to strictly within Iraq.

Officials claimed this did not amount to military action, but intelligence gathered by the drones was used by coalition forces to launch air strikes in Syria.

The report suggests that 22 per cent of Britain’s 726 air strikes in Iraq and Syria in 2016 were carried out by Reaper drones.

It shows weapon launches by British Reaper drones increased by 30 per cent from 274 in 2015 to 358 in 2016.

Airwars, a journalist-led organisation which monitors reports of civilian casualties from air strikes in Iraq and Syria, estimates that between 1,959 and 2,898 people were killed in coalition air strikes in 2015 and 2016.

An MoD spokesman told the Star: “We can’t completely eliminate the risk of civilian casualties but we carefully mitigate that risk through strict targeting procedures.

“The evidence from detailed assessments of each strike is that we’ve avoided any civilian casualties so far in this conflict.”

Airwars has called for an independent review of the MoD’s assessment process.

Campaign Against Arms Trade spokesman Andrew Smith told the Star: “This is an excellent piece of work and exposes the dangerous lack of transparency and accountability that surrounds drones.

“There must be a far greater scrutiny of attacks and strikes being undertaken by the armed forces and the work for Drone Wars is vital in that debate.

Drone attacks often have devastating consequences and have killed thousands of civilians around the world.”

Stop the War national officer Chris Nineham said the report showed that Britain was “fighting almost completely unreported wars” in Syria and Iraq.

He said: “Not only is there a virtual media blackout on this activity, but the MoD is still peddling the ridiculous line that no civilians have been killed in these attacks.”

The MoD refused to reveal the number of British Reapers deployed on operations in Iraq and Syria.

As Iraqi government forces press further into the densely populated areas of western Mosul, the key role being played in the advance by US-led air strikes and artillery barrages is becoming clear. The brutal offensive on Iraq’s second-largest city has already displaced upwards of 200,000 civilians, including 8,000 over the past week: here.

USA: The group UpstateDroneAction.org released a statement Friday morning: “Four drone resisters, James Ricks, Daniel Burns, Brian Hynes, and Ed Kinane, from the 2015 big books action were found innocent of all charges at 11 p.m. at the Dewitt Town Court. After deliberating for only about a half hour, the jury returned with a verdict of not guilty on all charges. Applause erupted in the courtroom upon the jurors’ announcement of the verdict. The four were charged with obstruction of government administration, disorderly conduct, and trespass and faced a year in jail. Following the rendering of the verdict, a juror approached Brian Hynes and said ‘I really support what you are doing. Keep doing it.’: here.

More dead Iraqi, Syrian civilians under Trump?


This video from the USA says about itself:

500,000 Iraqi Civilians Died In Iraq War

17 October 2013

New research on the human cost of the war in Iraq estimates that roughly half a million men, women and children died between 2003 and 2011 as a direct result of violence or the associated collapse of civil infrastructure.

Other estimates are over a million dead Iraqi civilians.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

Pentagon prepares for bigger, bloodier war in Iraq and Syria

25 February 2017

The Pentagon has prepared recommendations to be submitted to President Donald Trump at the beginning of next week for a major escalation of the US military intervention in Iraq and Syria.

According to unnamed US officials cited Friday by the Wall Street Journal, the proposal is expected to include “sending additional troops to Iraq and Syria” and “loosening battlefield restrictions” to “ease rules designed to minimize civilian casualties.”

The new battle plans stem from an executive order signed by Trump on January 28 giving the Pentagon 30 days to deliver a “preliminary draft of the Plan to defeat ISIS [Islamic State] in Iraq and Syria.”

According to independent estimates, as many as 8,000 civilians have already died in air strikes carried out by US and allied warplanes against targets in both Syria and Iraq, even as the Pentagon routinely denies the vast majority of reported deaths of unarmed men, women and children resulting from US bombings. The new policy to be rolled out next week, which the Journal reports is aimed at “increasing the number and rate of operations,” will inevitably entail a horrific intensification of this bloodletting.

Speaking before the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Brookings Institution in Washington on Thursday, the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Joseph Dunford, said that the Pentagon would be presenting Trump with a “political-military plan” to deal not only with ISIS in Iraq and Syria, but to “advance our long-term interests in the region.”

Referring to the intense contradictions besetting the US intervention in the region, which has relied on the use of Kurdish militias as proxy ground troops in Syria, even as Washington’s NATO ally, Turkey, has intervened to militarily counter their influence, Dunford insisted that Washington “can’t be paralyzed by tough choices.”

Pointing to the regional scope of the planned US military escalation, Dunford echoed earlier bellicose rhetoric from the administration against Iran, listing it alongside Russia, China, North Korea and “transnational violent extremism” as the major targets of the US military.

The US military commander stated that “the major export of Iran is actually malign influence across the region.” He said that the US military buildup against Iran was designed to “make sure we have freedom of navigation through the Straits of Hormuz, and that we deter conflict and crisis in the region, and that we advance our interest to include our interest in dealing with violent extremism of all forms.” All of these alleged aims are pretexts for continuous US provocations aimed at countering Iran’s regional influence and furthering the drive for US hegemony in the Middle East.

In relation to Iraq, Dunford signaled US intentions to maintain a US military occupation long after the campaign against ISIS is completed. He referred to a “dialog about a long-term commitment to grow the capacity, maintain the capacity of the Iraqi security forces,” adding that Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider Abadi had spoken of “the international community continuing to support defense capacity building.”

Dunford’s comments echoed those of Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis during a trip earlier this week to Baghdad. While disavowing Trump’s crude comments last month—“We’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil,” Mattis said—he also suggested that plans are being developed for a permanent US military presence in the country.

“The Iraqi people, the Iraqi military and the Iraqi political leadership recognizes what they’re up against and the value of the coalition and the partnership in particular with the United States,” Mattis told reporters Monday. “I imagine we’ll be in this fight for a while and we’ll stand by each other.”

Currently, Washington has more than 5,000 US troops in Iraq and another 500 Special Forces troops operating inside Syria. These forces are backed by tens of thousands of military contractors as well as other military units that are rotated in and out of the region. The plan to be presented next week will likely involve the deployment of thousands more US combat forces.

Trump has repeatedly indicated his support for establishing “safe zones” in Syria, an intervention that would require large numbers of US soldiers backed by air power to seize and control swathes of Syrian territory. It would also entail threats of military confrontation with Russian warplanes operating in support of the Syrian government.

As the Pentagon prepares its plans for military escalation in the region, US ground forces have reportedly entered Mosul, operating on the front lines with Iraqi forces in the bloody offensive to retake Iraq’s second-largest city from ISIS. American Special Forces “advisers” joined Iraqi troops Thursday in the first incursion into western Mosul, with the retaking of the Mosul International Airport as well as a nearby military base. The operation was conducted with close air support from US warplanes.

The airport and the base, located in the southern part of western Mosul, are to be used as the launching pad for a major assault into the most densely populated area of the city, where an estimated three quarters of a million civilians are trapped with no means of escape.

The International Rescue Committee warned that this stage of the offensive would represent the “most dangerous phase” for civilians.

“This will be a terrifying moment for the 750,000 people still in the west of the city, and there is a real danger that the battle will be raging around them for weeks and possibly months to come,” said Jason Kajer, the Iraq acting country director for the humanitarian group.

Referring to the increasingly desperate plight of civilians in western Mosul, the International Committee of the Red Cross’s field coordinator in Erbil, Dany Merhy, said: “Supply routes have been cut from that side of the city and people have been facing shortages of food, water, fuel and medicine. We can only imagine the state people will be in.”

As in previous US-backed offensives against Fallujah and Ramadi, Mosul faces the prospect of being reduced to rubble. It is in this city where the proposed changes in the “rules of engagement” will find their first expression in the elevated slaughter of Iraqi civilians.

Iraqi refugee on Trump and Saddam


Jalal al Fartoossi, photo by Eline de Zeeuw/NOS

Today, on the site of Dutch NOS TV, there is an interview with Jalal al Fartoossi, an Iraqi refugee who owns a barbershop near Washington, D.C. in the USA.

When Jalal, now 33, was six years old, the Saddam Hussein regime killed his father. After George W Bush’s invasion of Iraq, the United States armed forces offered him a job as a translator. This made Jalal in the eyes of many Iraqis a traitor, a collaborator with occupation. So, in 2010, he fled Iraq to the USA. He says now about George W Bush’s war that it killed Saddam, ‘but brought hundreds of Saddams’. That is still less than the ‘1,000 Saddams’ estimate by Ali Abbas, another Iraqi refugee.

Jalal had said to his wife in Iraq that she might join him once the barbershop would make enough money. Recently, the time was right. Jalal’s wife would come, with a visa. Then, Donald Trump’s travel ban came. It devastated Jalal.

Then, Jalal heard that a court in San Francisco had decided against Trump’s travel ban. ‘Now, my wife will be able to come! I am so happy!’

Liar Trump tells truth on Iraq for once


This video is called IRAQ WAR TRUTH – US Soldiers Kill Iraqi Family, Rape & Murder 14 Year Old Girl, Then Burn Her Body.

This video is about the Haditha massacre.

“Why was the entire family of this Iraqi girl murdered by the US soldiers?

Eman Waleed, a 9-year-old girl who survived the massacre told Time: “First, they went into my father’s room, where he was reading the Koran, and we heard shots. Then, the soldiers came back into the living room. I couldn’t see their faces very well — only their guns sticking into the doorway. I watched them shoot my grandfather, first in the chest and then in the head. Then they killed my granny.” Safa Younis Salim, a 13-year old girl, who in an interview said she lived by faking her death. “I pretended that I was dead when my brother’s body fell on me and he was bleeding like a faucet,” she said. She said that she saw American troops kick her family members and that one American shouted in the face of one relative before he was killed.”

By Alex Lantier:

Recent weeks have seen a spate of investigations and trials of US troops for murdering Iraqi civilians. The circumstances in which the investigations have been carried out—typically months after the events in question, which came to light only due to the intervention of enlisted men or outside journalists, and after cover-ups orchestrated by US officials—suggest that most such cases go unreported.

A well-known proverb says: “Even a broken clock is right twice a day”.

Broken clock Erdogan, dictator of Turkey, most of the time says and does terrible things. However, I had to admit he was right when he criticized the European Union about refugees’ deaths.

Broken clock Horst Köhler was president of Germany. Most of the time he said and did objectionable things. Until he told the truth about the Afghan war: that the German army participated in the bloodshed for the profits of German Big Business. He was sacked for telling that truth.

Now, on to broken clock Donald Trump, president of the USA.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

Trump blurts out the truth about US killings and the media goes wild

7 February 2017

The furor unleashed by the remarks of President Donald Trump in response to Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly’s calling Russian President Vladimir Putin “a killer” during an interview broadcast Sunday has continued to reverberate, drawing hypocritical condemnations from leading figures in both the Republican and Democratic parties.

In response to O’Reilly’s denunciation of Putin, Trump stated: “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country’s so innocent?”

Trump went on to cite Iraq in support of his statement. O’Reilly’s face went slack. He clearly did not know what to say. The new leader of the “Free World” had wandered seriously off message.

A pity that Trump did not go ‘off message’ before Bush started the Iraq war; contrary to Trump’s later ‘alternative facts’ claims on Iraq.

As far as the capitalist politicians of both parties and the media are concerned, Trump committed an unpardonable offense: he—in this one instance, and for purely pragmatic reasons related to his immediate political needs—had said something true about US imperialism’s role in the world.

The official posture of outrage over Trump’s off-hand comment will have little effect on the broader public. Do the politicians and media really believe that the public is so naïve and its memory so short? The United States is a country where The Bourne Identity­ and its innumerable sequels–whose basic premise is that the US government is run by murderers–are among the most popular movies of the last twenty years. This premise is well grounded in fact. Over the past 70 years, presidents and other high government officials have been implicated in the authorization and implementation of countless atrocities. Many of these crimes have been substantiated in official government reports and congressional hearings.

In a review of Joshua Kurlantzick’s A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth of the Military CIA, reviewer Scott Shane wrote in the February 3 edition of The New York Times:

“Speaking last September in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, Barack Obama mentioned a staggering fact: that the United States had between 1963 and 1974 dropped two million tons of bombs on the country, more than the total loosed on Germany and Japan together during World War II. That made Laos, which is slightly smaller than Michigan, the most heavily bombed nation in history, the president said. More than four decades after the end of the war, unexploded ordnance is still killing and maiming Laotians, and Obama announced that he was doubling American funding to remove it.”

Calling attention to information in Kurlantzick’s book, Shane noted: “In his first presidential term, Richard M. Nixon escalated the bombing from about 15 sorties per day to 300 per day. ‘How many did we kill in Laos?’ Nixon asked Henry Kissinger one day in a conversation caught on tape. Kissinger replied: ‘In the Laotian thing, we killed about 10, 15’–10,000 or 15,000 people, he meant. The eventual death toll would be 200,000.”

When it comes to killing, the US Government is without equal. In multiple wars of aggression, from Korea to Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and the proxy war for regime-change in Syria, US imperialism has killed and maimed tens of millions.

The chief accusation being leveled against Trump–by both supposed liberals in the Democratic Party and right-wing Republicans–is that he implied a “moral equivalence” between Russia and the US. This was a phrase used during the Cold War to justify every crime committed by the US and its allies, from Latin America’s bloody dictatorships to the Apartheid regime in South Africa, on the grounds that there could be no “moral equivalence” between the leader of the “Free World” and the Soviet “Evil Empire.”

Jeane Duane Kirkpatrick, adviser of President Reagan, was the main propagandist of the ideology of there being “no moral equivalence” between bad “totalitarian” governments, defined by bad relations with the United States government; and good “authoritarian” governments, defined by good relations with the United States government; eg, the military dictatorship in Argentina of which Ms Kirkpatrick was especially fond. Ms Kirkpatrick’s love for the Argentinian tyrants caused problems for the Reagan administration when the Buenos Aires junta started the Malvinas/Falklands war against the Reagan administration’s other ally, the Thatcher government in Britain.

There is, in fact, no equivalence. When it comes to killing and global thuggery, Putin is a small fry compared to the leaders of the United States.

Underlying the furor over Trump’s remarks are fierce divisions over US imperialist strategy and Washington’s preparations for war that have been brought into the open with the change of administrations.

These differences have been exacerbated by recent events in Syria. The Syrian government’s retaking in December of eastern Aleppo, the last urban stronghold of the US-backed “rebels,” represented a colossal setback for US policy in the Middle East.

There are bitter recriminations within the foreign policy establishment over the Obama administration’s backing off of its “red line” in 2013, when it nearly went to war over false charges of Syrian government use of chemical weapons. Within these circles, there are many who feel that a military intervention would have been better for US interests, no matter what new catastrophe it unleashed.

An article published in the Washington Post Monday, warning that the US faces “a far stronger Iran” after “years of turmoil in the Arab world,” spelled out the situation that Washington now confronts in stark terms:

“Iran and Russia together have fought to ensure the survival of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and they are now pursuing a peace settlement in alliance with Turkey that excludes a role for the United States. America has been left with few friends and little leverage, apart from the Kurds in the northeast of the country.

“Russia controls the skies over Syria, and Turkey wields influence over the rebels, but Iran holds sway on the ground …”

Talk of “respecting” Putin, possible collaboration with Russia against ISIS in Syria, and an easing of sanctions is not, as the Democrats have suggested, evidence of some secret control exercised by the Kremlin over Trump. It is, rather, part of a definite strategy of peeling Russia off from Iran in order to pave the way for a new war in the Middle East, while sharply escalating provocations against China.

Citing unnamed administration officials, the Wall Street Journal spelled this policy out on Monday: “The administration is exploring ways to break Russia’s military and diplomatic alliance with Iran… The emerging strategy seeks to reconcile President Donald Trump’s seemingly contradictory vows to improve relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and to aggressively challenge the military presence of Iran.”

Trump’s chief White House strategist and adviser, Stephen Bannon, a student and admirer of Adolf Hitler, no doubt views the administration’s pivot toward Moscow through the historical prism of the Stalin-Hitler pact, which set the stage for the Second World War, a war that ultimately claimed 20 million Soviet lives.

Putin’s government is susceptible to such maneuvers. It shares all of the stupidity, backwardness and shortsightedness of the counterrevolutionary bureaucracy headed by Stalin. Putin sits atop a regime that represents a rapacious clique of oligarchs who enriched themselves through theft of state property and the extraction and sale of the resources of the former Soviet Union. They are anxious to see US sanctions lifted so that they can accelerate their accumulation of wealth at the expense of the Russian working class.

Within the US political establishment and Washington’s vast military and intelligence apparatus, there exists sharp opposition to Trump’s turn in foreign policy. Immense political, military and financial resources have been invested in the buildup against Russia, from the coup in Ukraine to the deployment of thousands of US and NATO troops on Russia’s western border. There are concerns within ruling circles that a shift in imperialist strategy is reckless and poses serious dangers.

While popular attention and outrage have been focused on Trump’s anti-democratic executive orders imposing a ban on Muslims and refugees, ordering a wall built on the southern border, and laying the groundwork for a mass dragnet against undocumented immigrant workers, within the ruling class a serious fight is being waged over global imperialist strategy.

This fight over policy is between two bands of cutthroats, each of which is committed to an escalation of US militarism to further the profit interests of the US-based banks and transnational corporations. Whichever one wins out, the threat of world war, rooted in the crisis of global capitalism, will only grow.