Tag Archives: ethnic cleansing

Checking in on the Iraq War, Thanks to Wikileaks

Remember how successful the surge supposedly was? The surge started in early 2007. And the new leak of documents through Wikileaks (NY Times article here) show us this other piece of information, that jibes with what we heard a while back (but also after the fact) that it was ethnic cleansing rather than “the surge” that worked.

But it was systematic sectarian cleansing that drove the killing to its most frenzied point, making December 2006 the worst month of the war, according to the reports, with about 3,800 civilians killed, roughly equal to the past seven years of murders in New York City. A total of about 1,300 police officers, insurgents and coalition soldiers were also killed in that month.

From a 2008 story:

“Essentially, our interpretation is that violence has declined in Baghdad because of intercommunal violence that reached a climax as the surge was beginning,” said lead author John Agnew, a UCLA professor of geography and authority on ethnic conflict. “By the launch of the surge, many of the targets of conflict had either been killed or fled the country, and they turned off the lights when they left.” The night-light signature in four other large Iraqi cities — Kirkuk, Mosul, Tikrit and Karbala — held steady or increased between the spring of 2006 and the winter of 2007, the UCLA team found. None of these cities were targets of the surge. Baghdad’s decreases were centered in the southwestern Sunni strongholds of East and West Rashid, where the light signature dropped 57 percent and 80 percent, respectively, during the same period.’

Back to today’s NY Times story:

The documents also reveal many previously unreported instances in which American soldiers killed civilians — at checkpoints, from helicopters, in operations. Such killings are a central reason Iraqis turned against the American presence in their country, a situation that is now being repeated in Afghanistan.

But it does seem to suggest numbers that are roughly in line with those compiled by several sources, including Iraq Body Count, an organization that tracked civilian deaths using press reports, a method the Bush administration repeatedly derided as unreliable and producing inflated numbers. In all, the five-year archive lists more than 100,000 dead from 2004 to 2009, though some deaths are reported more than once, and some reports have inconsistent casualty figures.

According to one particularly painful entry from 2006, an Iraqi wearing a tracksuit was killed by an American sniper who later discovered that the victim was the platoon’s interpreter.

One of the most infamous episodes of killings by American soldiers, the shootings of at least 15 Iraqi civilians, including women and children in the western city of Haditha, is misrepresented in the archives. The report stated that the civilians were killed by militants in a bomb attack, the same false version of the episode that was given to the news media.

Civilians have borne the brunt of modern warfare, with 10 civilians dying for every soldier in wars fought since the mid-20th century, compared with 9 soldiers killed for every civilian in World War I, according to a 2001 study by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The sad thing is how the Iraq war has fallen out of the news in the United States.

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Huckabee for Ethnic Cleansing

Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is in Israel, visiting those brave Israeli settlers who, like our own pioneer ancestors, are moving in on other people’s land and kicking them out by any means necessary.

What he says doesn’t actually make sense, which is either a canny move to lend plausible deniability, or just the typical failure to think which has become all the rage among conservative Americans.

In his affable way, he insists that he isn’t against a Palestinian state — he just wants it somewhere else. “The question is,” he said, “should the Palestinians have a place to call their own? Yes. I have no problem with that. Should it be in the middle of the Jewish homeland? That’s what I think has to be assessed as virtually unrealistic.”

“Virtually unrealistic”? Any guesses what that means? I think he started out to say “virtually impossible,” then caught himself, afraid he might be going too far, and bobbled it to “virtually unrealistic.”

Actually, Mr Huckabee, I don’t think the question is “should the Palestinians have a place to call their own?” Nice one, you almost put it past me.

He went on to praise Israel for allowing Muslims to visit Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock, which is a holy site for Islam as well as for Judaism. But should a mosque be allowed? Nope. It would be an “affront.” “Israel is a place where they’re going to allow other cultures and religions,” he explained, “but don’t ask the Jewish people whose homeland it is to completely yield over their ability to live within the context of their country.”

What a weird world. By the way, Mike Huckabee earned himself a spot on my Fanaticism page with this doozy of a quote: “I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that’s what we need to do — to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than try to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view.”

Amjad Atallah responds in the Huffington Post. Excerpts:

Both my parents immigrated to Indiana from the Palestinian town of Ramallah in the early 1960s, before Israel’s occupation in 1967. Like many Palestinians in the Diaspora, they would have been happy with a secular democratic state in the entirety of historic Palestine/Eretz Israel with equal rights for both Jews and Arabs. But also like many Palestinians, convinced that Israelis would never agree to granting equality to all Palestinians, they have supported attempts to create a rump Palestinian state in the parts of Palestine occupied by Israel in 1967 where Palestinians could exercise their right to self-determination.

Having been uncomfortable with the idea of immigrants from Europe displacing the native inhabitants of Palestine, Palestinians have never seriously entertained the idea that they should go somewhere else and displace another people to create a “Palestinian” state. But now that a prominent American politician is making the offer, I have some ideas on a locale.

Dream big:

I haven’t yet conducted a poll of Palestinians on the Huckabee-Solution, but it seems that California – at least everything from San Francisco and south would be most preferred, no offense to Huckabee’s home state of Arkansas. The landscape is very similar to historic Palestine with various Mediterranean climates, lots of orange and fig trees, beautiful vistas, and lots of ocean front property. California even has its own fault lines, just like Israel/Palestine which makes for good wrath of God sermons. It wouldn’t matter if you were originally from Haifa, Ramallah, or the Gaza Strip, there would be something to remind you of home.

Amjad Atallah

Amjad Atallah

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UPDATE: found this Huckabee-in-Israel quote in another article:

“I have not bashed America! I haven’t even bashed Obama’s anti-Israel and promise breaking policy, and I have certainly had the opportunity,” he continued. “I have expressed my view consistently wherever I am and don’t say different things depending on who I am talking to.”

Bolding mine.

Greenwald directed readers to a story in the Jerusalem Post quoting Huckabee as saying: “It concerns me when there are some in the United States who would want to tell Israel that it cannot allow people to live in their own country, wherever they want.”

Mr Huckabee, it’s not that Israel desperately wants to allow people to live in their own country wherever they want, it’s that Israel wants to prevent people from living in their own country wherever they want.

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Drop in Violence in Iraq Due to Ethnic Cleansing, Not Surge

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080919/sc_nm/iraq_lights_dc

I don’t usually post the whole article, but there was nothing I felt comfortable leaving out of this one. However,the original has a satellite image as well.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Satellite images taken at night show heavily Sunni Arab neighborhoods of Baghdad began emptying before a U.S. troop surge in 2007, graphic evidence of ethnic cleansing that preceded a drop in violence, according to a report published on Friday.

The images support the view of international refugee organizations and Iraq experts that a major population shift was a key factor in the decline in sectarian violence, particularly in the Iraqi capital, the epicenter of the bloodletting in which hundreds of thousands were killed.

Minority Sunni Arabs were driven out of many neighborhoods by Shi’ite militants enraged by the bombing of the Samarra mosque in February 2006. The bombing, blamed on the Sunni militant group al Qaeda, sparked a wave of sectarian violence.

“By the launch of the surge, many of the targets of conflict had either been killed or fled the country, and they turned off the lights when they left,” geography professor John Agnew of the University of California Los Angeles, who led the study, said in a statement.

“Essentially, our interpretation is that violence has declined in Baghdad because of intercommunal violence that reached a climax as the surge was beginning,” said Agnew, who studies ethnic conflict.

Some 2 million Iraqis are displaced within Iraq, while 2 million more have sought refuge in neighboring Syria and Jordan. Previously religiously mixed neighborhoods of Baghdad became homogenized Sunni or Shi’ite Muslim enclaves.

The study, published in the journal Environment and Planning A, provides more evidence of ethnic conflict in Iraq, which peaked just before U.S. President George W. Bush ordered the deployment of about 30,000 extra U.S. troops.

The extent to which the troop build-up helped halt Iraq’s slide into sectarian civil war has been debated, particularly in the United States, with supporters of the surge saying it was the main contributing factor, and others arguing it was simply one of a number of factors.

“Our findings suggest that the surge has had no observable effect, except insofar as it has helped to provide a seal of approval for a process of ethno-sectarian neighborhood homogenization that is now largely achieved,” Agnew’s team wrote in their report.

Agnew’s team used publicly available infrared night imagery from a weather satellite operated by the U.S. Air Force.

“The overall night light signature of Baghdad since the U.S. invasion appears to have increased between 2003 and 2006 and then declined dramatically from 20 March 2006 through 16 December 2007,” their report said.

They said the night lights of Shi’ite-dominated Sadr City remained constant, as did lights in the Green Zone government and diplomatic compound in central Baghdad. Lights increased in the eastern New Baghdad district, another Shi’ite enclave.

Satellite studies have also been used to help document forced relocations in Myanmar and ethnic cleansing in Uganda.

(Reporting by Maggie Fox, editing by Ross Colvin)

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