MidEast Dispatches: IRAQ: Kidnappings Now Become ‘Unofficial’

August 30, 2008

IRAQ: Kidnappings Now Become ‘Unofficial’

Inter Press Service
By Ahmed Ali and Dahr Jamail*

BAQUBA, Aug 29 (IPS) – Residents of Baquba deny police claims that kidnappings are now a matter of the past.

“There are fewer people disappearing, but it continues,” a trader who asked to be referred to as Abu Ali told IPS. “All of us know that several people are still being kidnapped every week.”

A local sheikh, speaking to IPS on condition of anonymity, said that many from his tribe have been kidnapped in just the last three weeks.

“This sectarian security operation is targeting Sunnis,” the sheikh said. “At least ten people from my tribe alone, all of them Sunnis, have been kidnapped, and we suspect it is by people with the government.”

A police captain, Ali Khadem, told IPS that “no kidnapping actions were reported in the city in the last four months.” Baquba is capital of Diyala province, just north-east of Baghdad.

Residents say that while the number of kidnappings may have declined, the fear continues. Underscoring the volatility of the province, the Iraqi government issued an order Aug. 27 banning residents from keeping weapons.

Baquba has seen more than its share of kidnappings. Those responsible are believed widely to be members of various militias, or simply common criminals looking for quick money.

“When we were going to our jobs, we did not know whether we would get back home or not,” Hisham Ibrahim, a local labourer, told IPS. “Everyday, we felt the same fear and horror. And now, even though it’s better, we don’t know when this horror will return.”

The usual kidnapping style is for armed militants to drive up with their faces covered to the victim’s house, office or shop, or sometimes corner him on the street. The victim is overpowered, and dumped into the boot. The kidnappers then demand ransom, usually making video films of the victim.

Often a killing is also filmed. “Near our house, there was a place we used to call the execution zone,” a trader told IPS on terms of anonymity. “I myself saw a cameraman with the militants in every action.”

Another resident, also speaking on terms of anonymity, told IPS he had witnessed executions of kidnapped men. “They brought kidnapped men blindfolded, with their hands tied, lined them up on the street, and shot them one by one.”

“My wife has been sick ever since she saw these killings from our house,” Nasir Abbas, a local resident who lives on Majara Avenue told IPS. Many kidnapped persons have been executed here.

Some of the kidnappings have been at random. “The militants might ask anyone on the street about his identity,” says Abdul-Jalil Khalil, a local trader. “They take him to their stronghold for questioning. When they find he is their sect, they release him. If not, they kill him.”

A local man who was kidnapped told IPS what he went through.

“Militants attacked me in the market. They forced me into the boot of a car. After reaching their place, they got me out of the boot, tied my hands and covered my eyes. They poisoned me with something that made me sick, along with several other people in a room.

“They were shouting and insulting us. They whipped me with a cable and a nylon tube on my back and legs. After a few hours, they took me to another room. There I met the leader, they called him the prince. He asked me about my sect, tribe, job, relatives, etc. The prince decided to release me after three days.”

Many others are never released. Or even recorded as ever having been kidnapped.

(*Ahmed, our correspondent in Iraq’s Diyala province, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, our U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who has reported extensively from Iraq and the Middle East).

_______________________________________________

** Dahr Jamail’s MidEast Dispatches **
** Visit the Dahr Jamail website http://dahrjamailiraq.com **

Dahr Jamail’s new book, Beyond the Green Zone is NOW AVAILABLE!

“International journalism at its best.” –Stephen Kinzer, former bureau chief, New York Times; author All the Shah’s Men

“Essential reading for anybody who wants to know what is really happening in Iraq.” –Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent; author of The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq

Order Beyond the Green Zone today!
http://dahrjamailiraq.com/bookpage

Winner of the prestigious 2008 Martha Gellhorn Award for Jounalism!

*** Think Dahr’s work is vital? We need your help. It’s easy! http://dahrjamailiraq.com/donate/ ***

(c)2008 Dahr Jamail.
All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr’s Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the http://DahrJamailIraq.com website. Any other use of images, photography, photos and text including, but not limited to, reproduction, use on another website, copying and printing requires the permission of Dahr Jamail. Of course, feel free to forward Dahr’s dispatches via email.

More writing, commentary, photography, pictures and images at http://dahrjamailiraq.com

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The True Story of the Bilderberg Group – by Daniel Estulin

July 26, 2008
The True Story of the Bilderberg Group - by Daniel Estulin

The True Story of the Bilderberg Group - by Daniel Estulin

This book by investigative journalist Daniel Estulin is a must read for all Canadians, Americans, and citizens of countries throughout our world who care about their sovereignty — and any semblance of ‘democracy’ they think they have or aspire toward.


Bilderberg Club – the Mother of all Secret Societies

31-05-2007

In 1954, the most powerful men in the world met for the first time under the auspices of the Dutch royal crown and the Rockefeller family in the luxurious Hotel Bilderberg of the small Dutch town of Oosterbeek. For an entire weekend, they debated the future of the world. When it was over, they decided to meet once every year to exchange ideas and analyze international affairs. They named themselves the Bilderberg Club. Since then, they have gathered yearly in a luxurious hotel somewhere in the world to decide the future of humanity. Among the select members of this club are Bill Clinton, Paul Wolfowitz, Henry Kissinger, David Rockefeller, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Toni Blair and many other heads of government, businessmen, politicians, bankers and journalists from all over the world.

Nevertheless, in the more than fifty years of their meetings, the press has never been allowed to attend, no statements have ever been released on the attendees’ conclusions, nor has any agenda for a Bilderberg meeting been made public. Leaders of the Bilderberg Club argue that this discretion is necessary to allow participants in the debates to speak freely without being on record or reported publicly. Otherwise, Bilderbergers claim, they would be forced to speak in the language of a press release. Doubtlessly, this discretion allows the Bilderberg Club to deliberate more freely, but that does not respond to the fundamental question: What do the world’s most powerful people talk about in these meetings?

Any modern democratic system protects the right to privacy, but doesn’t the public have a right to know what their political leaders are talking about when they meet the wealthiest business leaders of their respective countries? What guarantees do citizens have that the Bilderberg Club isn’t a centre for influence trafficking and lobbying if they aren’t allowed to know what their representatives talk about at the Club’s secret gatherings? Why are the Davos World Economic Forum and G8 meetings carried in every newspaper, given front page coverage, with thousands of journalists in attendance, while no one covers Bilderberg Club meetings even though they are annually attended by Presidents of the International Monetary Fund, The World Bank, Federal Reserve, chairmen of 100 most powerful corporations in the world such as DaimlerChrysler, Coca Cola, British Petroleum, Chase Manhattan Bank, American Express, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, Vice Presidents of the United States, Directors of the CIA and the FBI, General Secretaries of NATO, American Senators and members of Congress, European Prime Ministers and leaders of opposition parties, top editors and CEOs of the leading newspapers in the world. It is surprising that no mainstream media outlets consider a gathering of such figures, whose wealth far exceeds the combined wealth of all United States citizens, to be newsworthy when a trip by any one of them on their own makes headline news on TV.

Read more here.

Based in Spain, Daniel Estulin is an award-winning investigative journalist who has been researching the Bilderberg Group for over 15 years. He is the author of La Verdadera Historia del Club Bilderberg (2005), a best seller in Spain and now in its 15th printing; it has been translated into 29 languages and sold in over 49 countries. Estulin is also the host of two radio shows in Spain.

More info about the book, its author and updates about the Bilderberg Group (and their secret meetings) at: BilderbergBook.com.

Buy the book online from TrineDay here.:

Unravel one of the best-kept secrets in political history.

Delving into a world once shrouded in complete mystery and impenetrable security, this investigative report provides a fascinating account of the annual meetings of the world’s most powerful people—the Bilderberg Group. Since its inception in 1954 at the Bilderberg Hotel in the small Dutch town of Oosterbeek, the Bilderberg Group has been comprised of European prime ministers, American presidents, and the wealthiest CEOs of the world, all coming together to discuss the economic and political future of humanity. The press has never been allowed to attend, nor have statements ever been released on the attendees’ conclusions or discussions, which have ramifications on the citizens of the world. Using methods that resemble the spy tactics of the Cold War—and in several instances putting his own life on the line—the author did what no one else has managed to achieve: he learned what was being said behind the closed doors of the opulent hotels and has made it available to the public for the first time.

Buy the book on Amazon.com here.

***
I don’t care where you buy this book: The True Story of the Bilderberg Group, as long as you buy it somewhere, and read it, then TELL your friends about it! Contrary what we are led to believe, ignorance is NOT bliss; our governments do NOT have our best interests at heart; and to be one of the sheeple in this information age is inexcusable!


MidEast Dispatches: Beyond the Green Zone: United Kingdom and Ireland Tour Dates

April 1, 2008

Acclaimed Journalist Dahr Jamail Tours the United Kingdom and Ireland, April 7-12

Beyond the Green Zone:

Dispatches from an
Unembedded
Journalist in Occupied
Iraq
“While so much reporting from Iraq has remained embedded and wrong, Dahr Jamail’s courageous
truth-telling from the frontline has been a beacon.” —John Pilger

“Essential for anybody who wants to know what is really happening in Iraq. A book which reports what Iraqis endure and what has happened to them during the occupation.” —Patrick Cockburn, foreign correspondent, The Independent, author, The Occupation
“From the earliest days of the war, Jamail has been a human conduit for the voices of Iraqis living under U.S. occupation. In the face of tremendous personal risk, his commitment to the crucial, principled task of bearing witness has never wavered, and this extraordinary book is the result.” —Naomi Klein, author, The Shock Doctrine and No Logo

IN LATE 2003, weary of the overall failure of the US media to accurately report on the realities of the war in Iraq for the Iraqi people and US soldiers, Dahr Jamail embarked to Iraq to report on the war himself. His unembedded dispatches were quickly recognized as an important media resource, featuring exclusive, on-the-ground coverage of the major events of the occupation. Jamail spent a total of 8 months in occupied Iraq as one of only a few independent US journalists in the country and has also reported extensively from Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

Jamail now writes for the Inter Press Service, The Asia Times and many other outlets, with reports published in the Nation, The Sunday Herald, Islam Online, the Guardian, Foreign Policy in Focus, and the Independent. He will be speaking on his new book, Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Iraq (Haymarket Books).

*

April 7th–Stirling, Scotland
University of Stirling, 5:00 pm
Pathfoot Lecture Theatre
Contact: jairo.lugo@stir.ac.uk

April 8th–Glasgow, Scotland
University of Strathclyde, 5.30 p.m
5.14 Graham Hills Building
Contact: m.idrees@gmail.com

April 9th–Dublin, Ireland
Dublin Institute of Technology, Aungier St., 6:30 pm
In a debate with RTE, moderated by Pepe Escobar
Contact: dmanning@gmail.com

April 10th–London, England
The Old Lecture Theatre, 7:00 pm
University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street
Contact: david.crouch10@btinternet.com

April 11th–Totnes, England
Methodist Church, Fore Street, 7:30 pm
Contact: bill@scswebdesign.co.uk

April 12th–Taunton, England
Friend’s Meeting House
3 Bath Place, Taunton, TA1 4EP
Contact: alisonchown@aol.com


Tour Sponsored
by Haymarket Books (US)


Locally sponsored
by the University of Strathclyde; University of Stirling Department of Film, Media, and Journalism; MediaBite; Dublin Institute of Technology School of Media; The Real News Network; Media Workers Against the War; Totnes Peace Group; Taunton Peace Group

*

MEDIA INQUIRIES contact: info@haymarketbooks.org
Jamail will be available for interview live and by phone in the UK April 6-14.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
on the book or events, visit:

www.haymarketbooks.org

www.beyondthegreenzone.org

_________________________________________

***
Think Dahr’s work is vital? We need your help. It’s easy! http://dahrjamailiraq.com/donate/ ***

Order your copy of Dahr’s new book, Beyond the Green Zone
http://dahrjamailiraq.com/bookpage

(c)2008 Dahr Jamail.
All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr’s Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the http://DahrJamailIraq.com website. Any other use of images, photography, photos and text including, but not limited to, reproduction, use on another website, copying and printing requires the permission of Dahr Jamail. Of course, feel free to forward Dahr’s dispatches via email.

More writing, commentary, photography, pictures and images at http://dahrjamailiraq.com


The Global Water Crisis: Privatization is Not the Answer

February 14, 2008

http://www.buzzflash.com/store

If You Believe That Water Should Not be Owned by Private Corporations, Read This Book

Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water (Hardcover)
Maude Barlow
BuzzFlash.com’s Review (excerpt)
“A passionate call to action from one of the leading voices in the global struggle for universal access to the earth’s most vital element—a sequel to the acclaimed Blue Gold.”From the publisher, The New Press:Life requires access to clean water; to deny the right to water is to deny the right to life.
—FROM THE INTRODUCTION TO BLUE COVENANT

In their international bestseller Blue Gold, Maude Barlow and co-author Tony Clarke exposed how a handful of corporations are gaining ownership and control of the earth’s dwindling water supply, depriving millions of people around the world of access to this most basic of resources and accelerating the onset of a global water crisis.

Blue Covenant, the sequel to Blue Gold, describes a powerful response to this trend: the emergence of an international, grassroots-led movement to have water declared a basic human right, something that can’t be bought or sold for profit.

World-renowned activist Maude Barlow is at the center of this movement, which is gaining popular and political support across the globe, encompassing protests in India against U.S. bottling giant Coca-Cola; in Bolivia against the water privatization scheme of European water conglomerate Suez; against the use of water meters in South Africa; and over groundwater mining in Barrington, New Hampshire, and dozens of other communities in North America.

With great passion and clarity, Barlow traces the history of these international battles, documents the life-and-death stakes involved in the fight for the right to water, and lays out the actions that we as global citizens must take to secure a water-just world—a “blue covenant”—for all.

About the author:

A recipient of Sweden’s Right Livelihood Award (the “Alternative Nobel”) and a Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship, Maude Barlow is head of the Council of Canadians, Canada’s largest public advocacy organization, and founder of the Blue Planet Project. She is the author of sixteen books, including Blue Gold (The New Press)—published in over fifty countries—and is on the board of Food and Water Watch and the International Forum on Globalization. She lives in Ottawa, Canada.

Read The Full Review >>>
Learn More >>>

MidEast Dispatches: Jeremy Scahill interviews Dahr Jamail for TheNation

February 11, 2008

Jeremy Scahill interviews Dahr Jamail for The Nation

Dahr Jamail: Beyond the Green Zone

by JEREMY SCAHILL

[posted online on February 8, 2008]

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dahr Jamail has spent more time reporting from Iraq than almost any other US journalist. His new book, Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, is a chronicle of his experiences there. He recently sat down with Nation correspondent Jeremy Scahill to talk about the supposed “success” of Bush’s troop surge, what would happen if Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton wins the White House and why he believes an immediate withdrawal from Iraq is the only way to peace. Here’s an edited transcript of that interview.

Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have indicated that US troops are not going to be withdrawn in any significant manner in the first term of a presidency. What do you think would happen if the US did withdraw immediately from Iraq?

We have a specific example of what would likely happen throughout Iraq if the US were to withdraw completely. When the Brits recently pulled out of their last base in Basra City late last year, The Independent reported that according to the British military, violent attacks dropped 90 percent. I think that goes to show that the Brits down in Basra, like the Americans in central and northern Iraq, have been the primary cause of the violence and the instability.And I think it’s easy to see that when the US does pull out completely, we would have a dramatic de-escalation in violence. We would have increased stability and it would be the first logical step for Iraqis to form their own government. This time, it would actually have popular support, unlike the current government, where less than 1 percent of Iraqis polled even support it or even find it legitimate at all.

Now, obviously, we have a situation in Iraq right now that’s very different from the era of Saddam Hussein: Many pockets of power, various leaders who have their own armed factions, and a much more significant Iranian influence. How do you see that playing out in the absence of US troops? What do you think would happen among those various groups that are vying for power, and have a significant volume of weapons?

One of the key reasons Iran has the influence it does in Iraq right now is because the US itself appointed Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki. We have to remember that he was in no way, shape or form democratically elected. After the January 30, 2005 elections, one of the first tasks of the government was to choose its own prime minister. It chose Ibrahim Al-Jaafari. And then when he wasn’t toeing the US-UK line enough, Condoleezza Rice and her UK counterpart, Jack Straw, flew to Baghdad. And right before they left from their trip, Jaafari was out, Maliki was in.

Maliki, head of the Dawa party, was in exile in Tehran for numerous years, and is basically a political figurehead of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), whose armed wing, the Badr Organization, has staunch Iranian support. It was basically formed in Iran and came into Iraq on the heels of the invasion forces. So I think, again, with [Maliki] out, and with other Iranian puppets in the government out, we would have more nationalist Iraqis who would certainly be able to start making moves toward reconciliation.

Who do you see emerging in a post-occupation Iraq if the US did leave? What are the major political forces in the country that could unify Iraq under one national flag?

It’s difficult to say at this point, but there are some political figures who do have popular support. There’s a Shia cleric, Sheikh Jawad al-Khalasi, who has mass popular support. He’s renowned for being able to bridge differences between Sunni and Shia political groups right now. There’s Dr. Wamid Omar Nadhmi, a Sunni, who also has that same effect. He’s relatively nonsectarian, compared to everyone else on the scene right now. They have started to form a shadow–I wouldn’t say government, but certainly political organization–that is a coalition of many different groups. There’s Al-Khalasi, there’s Dr. Wamid Omar Nadhmi, there’s Kurds, there’s Christians, there’s Turkomen, there’s numerous groups represented in this political structure that they have right now. It’s based primarily out of Syria, and sometimes they have meetings in Jordan, but this type of political structure would be able to come in and, I think, begin to fill what vacuum would be created.

You’ve spent a lot of time in Al-Anbar province and in Sunni areas of Iraq. And we’ve seen the United States and the commanders declare Anbar province a “victory.” We’ve also seen some Sunni puppet figures who have allied themselves with the United States assassinated in recent months, most prominently Abu Risha. What happened in Al-Anbar province?

What’s happening in Al-Anbar province today is akin to what the US did in Fallujah, when they were repelled out of the city during the April 04 siege. They essentially saved face by ceasing patrols and buying off the militants in the city. They put them on the payroll–mujahedeen basically started donning Iraqi police uniforms and Iraqi civil defense corps uniforms–and took over control of security of the city. When I interviewed them in May, they said this was the most peace they’d had in the city since before the invasion had ever taken place. They were quite happy with it, most people in the city were quite happy with that situation.

But essentially, the US plan ended up backfiring. Because they had to go back in the city in November, they didn’t want it to remain the only liberated city in the country. That fighting was far more violent and took so many more deaths, on both sides of the conflict, than even the April siege did. And so we have now a macro version of that same policy in Al-Anbar, where various tribal sheikhs who are willing to collaborate have stepped up. They’re taking millions and millions of dollars of US taxpayer money. They’re basically being bought off to not fight against the Americans, while simultaneously the Americans, for the moment in Al-Anbar, are sticking closer to their bases, and relying more on airpower than ground troops if any fighting breaks out.

And so right now, that’s why Al-Anbar is notably more quiet. But it’s a ticking time bomb. Because this is a policy where even US soldiers on the ground right now in Al-Anbar are expressing concerns. They know all too well that they’re now working with these people who, three days ago or three weeks ago, they were actually fighting. And some of these people are still lobbing mortars into their bases at night.

So we have tensions. We have the US military trying to ID all these people, so that when things become violent again, they’ll know who these people are and where to go get them, while simultaneously, these same fighters are, of course, gathering very, very valuable intelligence by being able to work with the Americans and go around with them.

You’ve spent about eight months in Iraq unembedded. A lot of your time was spent with ordinary Iraqis, documenting the suffering, the deaths, the civilian injuries. You’ve also spent time in other countries talking to Iraqi refugees. One of the things that’s lost in the mainstream coverage is the extent of the death that’s happened in Iraq. In fact, there was an AP-Ipsos poll not too long ago that found that a majority of Americans believed that fewer than 10,000 Iraqis had died since the start of the invasion. Give a sense of the scope of the death that has taken place in Iraq.

This is a good example of why the media coverage is still so horribly skewed. Even though a lot of people tend to think, “Well, the media is coming around a little bit, that it is showing that the occupation is not going well, and that there’s suffering.” But really, contrast what you may see in some of the larger media outlets with some of these figures from the ground in Iraq.

We look at, for example, how many people have died, based on figures primarily produced by The Lancet report in October ’06, which showed 655,000 Iraqis had been killed, or 2.5 percent of the total population of the country.

Another group, called Just Foreign Policy, has taken those figures and extrapolated from them based on more recent media reports, because that first survey, that Lancet survey, the legwork was carried out in July 2005. And so from that time until this time, with new data, it’s now estimated by the group Just Foreign Policy that over 1,100,000 Iraqis have been killed. In addition to that, we can estimate that, very conservatively, another 3 million are wounded. According to the UN these figures are too low as well; I’ve been told this by a UN spokesperson myself when I was in Syria last summer.

Current figures: 2.5 million internally displaced Iraqis in their own country, another 2.5 million refugees outside of the country. In addition to that, another 4 million Iraqis are in dire need of emergency assistance, according to an Oxfam International report released last July. When we take into account the fact that Iraq’s total population has fallen from 27 million, when the invasion was launched, to now roughly 23 million, when we add all those figures up, that means over half the total population of the entire country are either refugees–in or out of their country–wounded, in dire need of emergency aid, or dead.

In addition to that, we have the infrastructure, where on every measurable level, it’s worse now than it was after nearly thirty years of Saddam Hussein’s reign, and twelve years of genocidal sanctions. Even oil exports have not for one day been at or above pre-war levels–and this is where Iraq gets 90 percent of its income. Electricity: the average home has anywhere from zero hours of electricity per day to maybe six or seven hours on a really good day. Unemployment: It’s between 60 or 70 percent, vacillating right now. During the sanctions, it was roughly 33 percent, which is about what it was here during the Great Depression. So 60 to 70 percent unemployment, on top of that, 70 percent inflation. We have 45 percent of Iraqis living in abject poverty on less than $1 per day. Seventy percent of Iraqis don’t even have access to safe drinking water. So that gives you an idea of the magnitude of how horrific the suffering really has become. According to Refugees International, it’s the fastest-growing refugee crisis on the planet.

You haven’t been to Iraq for a number of months, but you are regularly in touch with Iraqis on the ground. In fact, a lot of the articles that you do you co-author with Iraqi colleagues still on the ground. Many of the journalists who do go to Iraq are trapped in the Green Zone– or what an Iraqi friend of mine calls the Green Zoo. And so, in a way, you may be in a better position to analyze what’s happening there, because of your regular contact with unembedded Iraqi journalists. Give us a couple of examples of news that’s not making it out of Iraq.

I was recently working on a story about Fallujah because one of my Iraqi colleagues lives there. And again, contrast this with what maybe you’ve been hearing about Fallujah. In fact, it’s even been held up by various Bush Administration officials over the last several months as a model city. Look, it’s calmer, things are better now, the plan is working, the surge is working. Well in Fallujah, according to my friend who lives there, the security measures that were imposed around the city by the US military during the November ’04 siege–the biometric data, the retina scans, the fingerprinting, the mandatory, bar-coded IDs for everyone trying to go in and out of the city. That remains, that has not changed at all. In addition to that, businesspeople estimate that there’s approximately 80 percent unemployment in the city. There are entire neighborhoods that still do not have electricity or running water since the November ’04 siege. There’s still tens of thousands of refugees from the city from the April ’04 siege, not even talking about November.

There’s been a vehicle ban, to one degree or another, imposed on the city since May. So how do you live in a city of 350,000 people, when the majority of the time, you can’t even drive a vehicle. Most people are either walking or literally using horse-drawn or donkey-drawn carts. And he quoted a man as saying, relatively recently, that yes, it is quieter in Fallujah today, but it’s the same quiet as a dead body is quiet. That there’s no normal life, that the hospital there doesn’t get medicines and things that it needs, because of the corruption of the Ministry of Health in Baghdad, and the bias that’s there. And just to give you an idea. That’s life in Fallujah today, where there’s literally no normal life.

And that’s in a city that the US is holding up as a victory?

Exactly.

I know your expertise is not necessarily US domestic politics, but like all of us, you’re following the presidential campaign. Do you see any marked difference for Iraqis in the event of a Hillary Clinton presidency or a Barack Obama presidency?

I don’t. They’ve both already officially taken the idea of total unconditional withdrawal of all occupation forces out of Iraq off the table, until after their first term, if one of them is elected. So it’s off the table already until 2013, even before one of them would come into power, if that is going to happen. In reality, they in no way are reflecting the will of the troops on the ground in Iraq, or the majority of Americans now who are opposed to the occupation. And certainly not respecting the will of the Iraqi people, where the most conservative polls I’ve found have shown that 85 percent, at a minimum now, of the total population of Iraq are completely opposed to the occupation and want it to end, right now.

Iraqis are willing to take the risk of what might happen if that much-discussed “power vacuum” is created. And the reality is that the only real first step to a solution in Iraq is full, immediate, unconditional withdrawal, while simultaneously re-funding all the reconstruction projects and turning them over to Iraqi concerns. So this idea of, “You break it, you buy it.” Well, there’s no buying happening. There’s nothing being done by Western contractors on the ground to improve the basic life necessities of any Iraqi in that country right now.

And the other factor is, which candidate is talking about compensation for the Iraqi people? Every Iraqi person who’s suffered from this situation deserves full compensation from this government. Because this is the government that perpetrated the war and continues on in this illegal occupation. So, I don’t see any of these mainstream candidates talking about any of these things, which are really essential if we’re going to talk about a solution to this catastrophe in Iraq.

__________________________________________

***

Think Dahr’s work is vital? We need your help. It’s easy! http://dahrjamailiraq.com/donate/ ***

Order your copy of Dahr’s new book, Beyond the Green Zone

http://dahrjamailiraq.com/bookpage

(c)2007 Dahr Jamail.

All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr’s Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the http://DahrJamailIraq.com website. Any other use of images, photography, photos and text including, but not limited to, reproduction, use on another website, copying and printing requires the permission of Dahr Jamail. Of course, feel free to forward Dahr’s dispatches via email.

More writing, commentary, photography, pictures and images at http://dahrjamailiraq.com
________________________________________

** Dahr Jamail’s MidEast Dispatches **
** Visit the Dahr Jamail website http://dahrjamailiraq.com **Dahr Jamail’s new book, Beyond the Green Zone is NOW AVAILABLE!

“International journalism at its best.” –Stephen Kinzer, former bureau chief, New York Times; author All the Shah’s Men

“Essential reading for anybody who wants to know what is really happening in Iraq.” –Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent; author of The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq

Order Beyond the Green Zone today!
http://dahrjamailiraq.com/bookpage


MidEast Dispatches: Beyond the Green Zone; excerpt of introduction at Foreign Policy in Focus

December 4, 2007

Beyond the Green Zone; excerpt of introduction at Foreign Policy in Focus

Dahr Jamail | November 30, 2007

Editor: Erik Leaver

Foreign Policy In Focus

Editors Note: The following is an excerpt from the introduction to Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007).

In 2002, while winter began to settle across the United States, the drumbeat for war became deafening. Living in Anchorage, Alaska, I spent much of my free time reading the news from abroad or getting it via alternative online outlets such as Media Lens, Democracy Now!, and Media Channel. The cheerleading for war feebly disguised as “journalism” that corporate media television stations and newspapers in the United States spewed was intolerable. The overwhelming evidence was already available. There were not and had not been “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq for years. The make-believe link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11 was a chimera. The excuse given later, that of “liberating” the people of Iraq, held even less truth.

 

Nevertheless, illusions were maintained by a media in the United States that had sunk to being little more than state stenographers giddily scribbling and announcing the diktats of George W. Bush and his administration. Thousands of years of Iraq’s rich history were cursorily omitted from the media and replaced by the graphic of a U.S.-installed dictator with a bull’s-eye on his forehead.

The worldwide protests of February 15, 2003–the largest in human history–Bush brushed aside as a “focus group.” Watching this occur enraged me, particularly since after 9/11 the one paper in Anchorage, Alaska, which I had been freelancing for, fired its editor because our content had become “too political.” My mind was a pressure cooker. I wondered, what could be done to stop an illegal war of aggression against a country that had been suffering more than twelve years of economic sanctions that had already killed over one million people?

Nothing.

The United States invaded Iraq in March 2003.Coverage by most of the mainstream media worsened. Rather than showing the true face of war, television coverage more closely resembled a weapons manufacturer’s show, complete with brilliant graphics of fighter jets, missiles, attack helicopters, and interactive maps of Iraq that could have been taken straight from a video game.

The news I followed from the media of other countries, such as the Independent and the Guardian newspapers in the U.K., Le monde diplomatique in France, Al-Jazeera in Qatar, and outlets in Greece and Italy, portrayed a different reality. While shown for the propaganda stunt it was in many foreign media outlets, the stage-managed toppling of one of Saddam Hussein’s statues in central Baghdad captivated uninformed Americans watching news, which by then closely resembled the state-controlled media of an authoritarian regime. The disparity in reportage between many foreign outlets and those in the United States was nothing less than news reporting on the one hand and flag-waving on the other. The occupation began and quickly lurched toward chaos, violence, and suffering.

Rather than being explored and explained by most media in the United States, the mayhem of war was portrayed as one dimensional, and described with slogans like “Operation Iraqi Freedom” and other rhetoric so familiar to the peoples of the Third World. Formerly repressed currents of Iraqi religious, political, and social strata emerged and began to breathe life back into the complex patterns of the social fabric of Iraq after the dictator was removed. The multilayered quilt of tribal and religious societies resurfaced.

I spent the summer of 2003 volunteering as a rescue ranger for the National Park Service on the highest mountain in Alaska, Denali, climbing, pondering, and listening to radio reports at night in my tent. I listened as Iraqis were quickly pulled into the undertow of a violent upheaval against an occupation they had not sought.

While climbing on icy slopes during the day, I wondered what I might do to bring the information I found reported in other countries back to the uninformed, horribly misled population of my own country.

I would like to say that I decided to go to Iraq for philosophical reasons, because I believe that an informed citizenry is the bedrock of any healthy democracy. But I went to Iraq for personal reasons. I was tormented by the fact that the government of my country illegally invaded and then occupied a country that it had bombed in 1991. Because the government of my country had asphyxiated Iraq with more than a decade’s worth of “genocidal” sanctions (in the words of former United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Denis Halliday). The government of my country then told lies, which were obediently repeated by an unquestioning media in order to justify the invasion and occupation. I felt that I had blood on my hands because the government had been left unchecked.

My going to Iraq was an act of desperation that has since transformed itself into a bond to that country and so many of her people. There were stories there that begged to be heard and told again. We are defined by story. Our history, our memory, our perceptions of the future, are all built and held within stories. As a U.S. citizen complicit in the devastation of Iraq, I was already bound up in the story of that country. I decided to go to learn what that story really was.

While the vast majority of the reporting of Iraq was provided by journalists availing themselves of the Pentagon-sponsored “embed” program, I chose to look for stories of real life and “embed” myself with the Iraqi people. The U.S. military side of the occupation is overly represented by most mainstream outlets. I consciously decided to focus on the Iraqi side of the story.

The story of the many oppressed peoples of the world is rarely recorded by the few who oppress. We are taught that the truth is objective fact as written down by the conquerors.

Truth is more than fact. Before his testimony against the flooding of his traditional life and homeland in James Bay by Hydro-Quebec (for power shipped to the United States), François Mainscum, a Mistassini Cree hunter, was asked to place his hand on the Bible. He had left his bush camp only a few days before he appeared in court. “When I was told to touch the book, my first reaction was to wonder what this book is for,” he said, “Until I was told to touch it, the book, so that I could speak the ‘truth.'”

He spoke with his translator at length, and finally the translator looked up at the judge. “He does not know whether he can tell the truth. He says he can tell only what he knows.”

There are roughly 27 million people in Iraq. Each of them has his or her own story about what has happened in Iraq during the U.S. occupation. Their stories define them, and us. They belong in our history, our memory, our perceptions of the future.

This book contains some of those stories.

Dahr Jamail has reported from inside Iraq and is the author of Beyond the Green Zone. He writes for Inter Press Service, The Asia Times, and is a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus.

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Dahr Jamail’s new book, Beyond the Green Zone is NOW AVAILABLE!

“International journalism at its best.” –Stephen Kinzer, former bureau chief, New York Times; author /All the Shah’s Men/

“Essential reading for anybody who wants to know what is really happening in Iraq.” –Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent; author of /The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq/

Order Beyond the Green Zone today!
http://dahrjamailiraq.com/bookpage


MidEast Dispatches: Upcoming Tour Dates for Dahr Jamail and his new book, Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq

November 5, 2007

Dahr Jamail’s new book, Beyond the Green Zone is NOW AVAILABLE!

“International journalism at its best.” –Stephen Kinzer, former foreign desk chief, New York Times; author /All the Shah’s Men/

“Essential reading for anybody who wants to know what is really happening in Iraq.” –Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent; author of /The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq/

Order /Beyond the Green Zone/ today!
http://dahrjamailiraq.com/bookpage


November 19, 2007

Santa Monica, CA

Event: Great Mind Series #19, Dahr Jamail with Air America moderator Bree Walker; Beyond the Green Zone reading and lecture, with Marcy Winograd President of the “Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles”
Location: 39 San Vicente Blvd
Santa Monica, CA. 90402
Time and Date: Monday, November 19 2007, 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM
$35.00 includes book– Refreshments served
Sponsors: Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles and Haymarket Books
Contact: Ilene Proctor
Direct Line (310) 271.5857
Cell (310) 721.2336
E-mail proctor (at) artnet.net


November 15, 2007

San Diego, CA

Event: Book Reading/Iraq Lecture
Location: Unitarian Universalist Church
4190 Front Street
San Diego, CA 92103
Time and Date: 7 pm, 15 Nov., donation suggested
Sponsors: Haymarket Books, Peace and Democracy Action Group of the First UU Church, Activist San Diego, SD Coalition for Peace and Justice, SD Veterans for Peace, and Progressive San Diego
Contact: 858-459-4650


November 12, 2007

Fresno, CA

Event: Book Reading
Location: Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno
2111 E. Nees (East of Cedar)
Fresno, CA
Time and Date: 7 pm, 12 Nov., $10 suggested donation / $5 student-low income. Tickets can be purchased in advance at The Movies, or by calling the KFCF office at 233-2221.
Sponsors: Cosponsored by KFCF, Haymarket Books, and the Fresno Free College Foundation
Contact: vbedoian (at) kfcf.org


November 11, 2007

Palo Alto, CA

Event: Book Reading
Time and Date: 7 pm, 11 Nov.
Location: Fellowship Hall
305 North California Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Sponsors: Cosponsored by Peninsula Peace & Justice Center and Haymarket Books
Contact: (650) 326-8837, ppjc (at) peaceandjustice.org


November 08, 2007

Oakland, CA

Event: Book Reading/Iraq Lecture
Location: First Congregational Church of Oakland
2501 Harrison St.
Oakland, CA 94612
Time and Date: 8 November, 7pm, $15
Sponsors: Middle East Children’s Alliance (http://www.mecaforpeace.org/article.php?id=197) and “Flashpoints,” a KPFA program
Contact: 510-548-0542, penny (at) mecaforpeace.org


November 06, 2007

Davis, CA

Event: Book Reading
Location: University of California, Davis
Science Lecture Hall
Time and Date: 8 pm, 6 Nov.
Sponsors: the Roosevelt Institution of the University of California at Davis, Haymarket Books
Contact: krubaii -at- yahoo.com


November 04, 2007

Olympia, WA

Event: Beyond Occupation
featuring Dahr Jamail and Suheir Hammad
A part of the Advocating Activism documentary series of the Olympia Film Festival
Location: Capitol Theater
206 5th Avenue SE (at Washington)
Olympia, WA 98501
Time and Date: 5 pm, 4 Nov., OFS Members $7 / Non-members $10
Sponsors:
http://olympiafilmfestival.org/movieDetail.asp?id=49
Advance tickets are available at the Capitol Theater (beginning October 29th), Rainy Day Records (beginning October 1st), and www.buyolympia.com
Contact: 360.754.6670


November 03, 2007

Seattle, WA

Event: Book Reading
Location: University of Washington
Kane Hall
Driving directions
Time and Date: 7 pm, 3 Nov., $5
Sponsors: Haymarket Books, International Socialist Organization, University of Washington in conjunction with the Northwest Socialist Conference
www.nwsocialist.org
Contact: 206-406-4238, seattleiso -at- yahoo.com


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Order your copy of Dahr’s new book, Beyond the Green Zone
http://dahrjamailiraq.com/bookpage

(c)2007 Dahr Jamail.

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