Iraq Watch: Fighting in Najaf, Military Contracts and Reconstruction, Women and Torture, John Kerry’s Support of the Occupation

Fighting in Najaf, Media and Iraq, Military Contracts and the Reconstruction of Iraq, The Fragmentation of Iraq, John Kerry’s Support of Iraq, Iraqi Women and Torture, Class and the Iraq War

Renewed Fighting in Najaf between Insurgents and United States Forces

After a week of fighting that came as a result of the United States violating a cease-fire agreement with Muqtada al-Sadr, the US launched a major operation to destroy Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr’s militia in which al-Sadr was reportedly wounded. The assault by US forces came despite statements of non-governmental organizations such as Voices in the Wilderness, who warned that the United States was preparing for a massive assault on the city without regard to civilian casualties and without taking precautions against destroying important religious targets. In advance of the attack, US forces told civilians to leave the cities, yet many have not left and aid agencies are attempting to deliver supplies to those trapped by the fighting. The assault is likely to incite further hatred of US forces and the interim Iraqi government.

Media and Iraq

The Washington Post has become the latest newspaper in the United States to admit that it failed to properly question the government?s claims regarding Iraq, joining The New York Times who issued a similar “apology” in May 2004. In a front-page article, The Washington Post revealed how it buried an article questioning key government claims on page A17 as part of a de facto policy that placed stories critical of the information deep in the paper while government claims received front-page billing.

Of course, if The Washington Post, whose admission stopped short of a full apology, wanted to make a concerted effort to improve their coverage of the invasion of Iraq and the ongoing occupation, they could start by reporting more on daily events in Iraq. A recent article analyzing media coverage since the “transfer of sovereignty” in June 2004 shows that media attention has dropped dramatically as the corporate media shifts to other important stories such as the Kobe Bryant and Scott Peterson trials. But, what can we really expect from a corporate media system where Comedy Central’s The Daily Show is one of the only outlets willing to ask “critical” questions.

The drop in reporting on what is happening in Iraq along with the recent expulsion of Arab television station Al-Jazeera from Baghdad is making it increasingly difficult to get information about what is happening in Iraq. Independent media sources, since the lead-up of the war, have been the best place to get information about Iraq, and one new outlet, Iraq Blog Count provides an annotated set of links and updates on what is happening in Iraq courtesy of blogs based in Iraq.

Military Contracts and the Reconstruction of Iraq

Halliburton, a company formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney and one of the leading recipients of military contracts in Iraq, cannot justify why it billed the Pentagon $1.8 billion for work in Iraq and Kuwait or roughly 43% of the $4.18 billion the company billed the Pentagon for logistics work in the Middle East.

A new grant from USAID has enabled Baghdad to start a garbage collection program, finally restoring garbage collection to a city that has been without it since April of 2003. Of course, why it took the United States over a year to develop a garbage collection program, legally required as occupying powers must provide access to necessities of life, health-care, and a disease-free environment, is an open question.

Recent kidnappings by the Iraqi resistance movements, have revealed a new facet of the occupation of Iraq–the use of underpaid migrant workers to perform ?reconstruction? work in Iraq. While it is unknown how many migrant workers are in Iraq, estimates describe “tens of thousands” of workers in the country, many of whom are working for “sweatshop-like” wages.

Iraq is Looking Increasingly Fragmented

Iraq continues to look like a country on the verge of falling apart–news organizations are being banned, the death penalty is being reinstated, and occupation powers are launching daily assaults on a resistance movement that has not diminished since the “transfer of sovereignty.” Adding to the fragmentation are widespread charges of corruption in the government, causing much intra-government feuding while highlighting the conflicts between different groups who believe they should be running Iraq. The conflicts may be reaching a new level, as Basra Deputy Governor Salam Uda al-Maliki has announced that he intends to call for the Iraqi south?s secession from Iraq. The failure to setup a functioning democratic government and a functioning society has even caused soldiers in the United States military to openly question why they are in Iraq.

John Kerry and the Democrats? Unwavering Commitment to the Invasion of Iraq

This week Democratic Party presidential candidate John Kerry stated he would have voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq even if he had known there were no weapons of mass destruction. In addition, he also stated that he would allow for more troops in Iraq if the military requested more. Kerry’s statements are part of an overall policy by the Democratic Party, codified in their 2004 Democratic Party Platform, of support for the occupation of Iraq and the doctrine of preemptive war.

Iraqi Women and Torture

Lila Rajiva has written an excellent four part series on Iraqi women and torture examining the treatment of women in Iraq.

The four articles:

Class and the Iraq War

The Northeast Federation of Anarchist Communists, has put together a lengthy article analyzing class and the war on Iraq and looking at the use of people of color and members of the working class to fight the war. While at the article is at its core against the state and capitalism, which some Iraq Watch readers may find off-putting, its points are well-argued and provide a wealth of information on the class-based nature of military recruiting and war.

Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org