War uproots Iraq’s signature date palms, and their tenders

June 24, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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painting by Iraqi artist

War uproots Iraq’s signature date palms, and their tenders

By Hannah Allam | McClatchy Newspapers

BAGHDAD — Jawad Kadhim rides his rusty bicycle through Baghdad neighborhoods that have been transformed by violence, sealed off by concrete blast walls and emptied of their once close-knit inhabitants.

Fearful of being mistaken for a militant, he announces himself loudly at front gates and hides his ax when he makes a sales pitch. Every stop is a gamble in this new Baghdad, but Kadhim trusts that even the wariest and most traumatized Iraqis will protect a man who can heal the trees.

Kadhim, 37, is a third-generation date-palm gardener, one of a dwindling number in the capital, he said, because most consider it too dangerous to go door to door in a place where sectarian cleansing has dramatically altered the city’s demographics.

“In this life, I rely only on God and palm trees,” said Kadhim, 37, one recent afternoon, callused hands folded in his lap.

No neighborhood is safe — his knocks on familiar doors are now answered by strangers, and at least 12 of his gardening friends have been killed.

He’s sure that many of his longtime customers have been forced from their homes or were killed in sectarian battles, but he knows better than to ask questions. He has a job to do.

“I’m like a taxi driver. I pick up customers wherever I can,” he said with a chuckle.

Through war, occupation, bombings and neglect, the Iraqi date palm has endured. Farmers on these lands have cultivated dates since the ancient times of Mesopotamia, and artists through the centuries have celebrated the palm tree’s resilience and bounty. Iraqis still use every part, weaving rope from the fibers and baskets from the fronds, exhibiting a tenderness toward the trees that’s incongruous with the harshness of everyday life.

“The blessed tree,” Kadhim calls it, with reverence. But the date palm, like the country it symbolizes, has fallen on hard times.

In Iraq’s date-production heyday, official estimates put the number of palm trees at 30 million, but decades of war and water salinity have cut that figure so dramatically that the United Nations agriculture mission considers date-palm rehabilitation an urgent national priority.

It would take armies of gardeners to revive the industry, and they’d have to be as skilled as Kadhim is, knowing how to pollinate, when to trim the leaves and the precise moment when dates are ready for picking.

Many of his old gardening friends said they’re not willing to risk their lives to work for the equivalent of $10 a tree, which is still more than customers pay in the south, where it’s safer and the trees are more abundant.

Kadhim left his farming community near the southern Shiite Muslim holy city of Najaf a decade ago, after he heard how much Baghdad families were willing to pay to keep their palm trees groomed. Few of his original customers remain.

“So many families have left,” Kadhim said, rattling off examples from neighborhoods throughout Baghdad. “Even when I find strangers in their houses, they never tell me they were displaced. They say the old families left or that they’re relatives. Some of them just say, ‘We live here now instead of them.'”

Iraq’s previous wars disrupted his work for short spells, Kadhim said, but the U.S. invasion and its chaotic aftermath changed the tradition of palm tending altogether.

No longer do families hand him keys so he can slip into their gardens and work while they are out or sleeping. No longer do women or girls who are home alone allow him to set foot on the property; they insist that he return when male relatives are present. No longer do his customers make small talk — nobody wants to divulge a detail that could lead to a kidnapping or other threat.

“Before the Americans came, work was better. I could go anywhere in Baghdad, work however late I wanted, and fall asleep on any street corner,” Kadhim said.

In the early days of the U.S. presence, Kadhim said, he simply navigated his bike through the back streets and continued doing business as usual, avoiding the foreign tanks and Humvees that rolled through Baghdad. As the lawlessness persisted, Kadhim lost customers, but he still had enough work to keep him in the capital for weeks at a time.

He took small precautions, sleeping in a cheap motel instead of under the trees in case of bombings. Only when all-out sectarian war erupted in 2006 did he pack his tools and head south to his family’s patch of land near Karbala.

The fertile south is where Kadhim wriggled up towering palm trees as a boy, ate date syrup and buffalo cream for breakfast and, in time, learned how to pollinate palm trees and rid them of harmful pests.

He was given his first tibilya, a harness traditionally made of palm fibers, and became an expert at scaling even the tallest trees. The skin on his hands and feet grew hard from the bark, and his face is now creased from exposure to Iraq’s harsh sun and frequent sandstorms.

“My father taught me, and his father before him,” Kadhim said. “I first started using my hands when I was 7.”

From 2006 to 2008, Kadhim stayed home in Karbala with his wife and their six children, but he wasn’t happy. The TV news showed carnage he never thought possible in the neighborhoods where he once worked. Every time he pondered returning, a new outbreak of violence would keep him in the south.

“If you see death with your own eyes, do you run toward it?” he said.

In early 2008, when the violence began subsiding, Kadhim ventured to Baghdad again. So many streets were sealed off by new checkpoints that he had to park his bicycle outside the barriers and look for clients on foot. His heart sank when he saw the extent of the devastation, and not just the scars left on people and houses. He found ruins where elegant gardens once stood.

Shriveled, unpicked dates hung from brittle limbs. Dead leaves were piled on the ground. Palm trees he’d planted years before were chopped down or uprooted to clear lines of sight for U.S. snipers and militant mortar teams.

The destruction was so overwhelming, he said, “I felt like I myself was wounded.”

In the past couple of years, most of the trees in his care have come back to life under his renewed attention. He trimmed their dead leaves, pollinated them in the spring and treated the trees for insect and rat infestations. Today, they bear clusters of hard yellow dates that should ripen into sweet brown fruit this summer.

“There’s nothing you can’t cure,” Kadhim said.

Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/06/23/96429/war-uproots-iraqs-signature-date.html#ixzz0rmePF1NI

IRAQ AND PALESTINE UNDER OCCUPATION

June 20, 2010 at 11:45 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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IRAQ AND PALESTINE UNDER OCCUPATION

 With some reports of what the Iraqis suffered since the elections

 Please click on the link below

http://www.brussellstribunal.org/Newsletters/Newsletter5EN.htm

Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder

June 20, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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REPOSTED

Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder

Jeremy Scahill

August 4, 2009   |    This article appeared in the August 17, 2009 edition of The Nation.

A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company’s owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” and that Prince’s companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.”

About the Author

Jeremy Scahill

Jeremy Scahill, a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute, is the author of the bestselling Blackwater…

Continue Reading Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder…

Turkey accuses Israel of standing behind renewed Kurdish attacks

June 20, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Turkey accuses Israel of standing behind renewed Kurdish attacks

Sunday, 20 June 2010 10:51 Added by PT Editor Omar Ghraieb

Turkey, June 20, (Pal Telegraph) Tension rose on the Turkish-Iraqi border since March this year, after the Kurdish parties renewed their militant activity and attacks on the Turkish army, which killed during this period 43 people holding ranks in the Turkish army as well as injuring many others, some circles in the Turkish government considered that Israel stands behind the renewal of these Kurdish militant operations on the Turkish territory.

According to a Hebrew site which said today that according to sources in the Turkish government Israel is supporting some armed Kurdish parties and is paying them for the renewal of their militant activity.

The website also said that the Turkish militant army conducted last week a series of attacks on the Kurds near the Iraqi-Turkish border, in response to the killing of 10 Turk soldiers at the beginning of last week, the Turkish army used drones in its attacks against the Kurds, which were provided to Turkey by Israel, which enabled the Turkish army to kill about 130 fighters from the Kurdish parties during the last week.

http://www.paltelegraph.com/world/middle-east/77-middle-east/6458-turkey-accuses-israel-of-standing-behind-renewed-kurdish-attacks

Interview of Tariq Ramadan with Sunday’s Zaman

June 20, 2010 at 10:00 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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The new ‘We’ is a manifesto for today’s pluralistic societies

 
 

Renowned European Muslim thinker and academic Tariq Ramadan has explained his manifesto for a new “We” — which involves Muslims, non-Muslims, atheists, agnostics, Christians and Jews coming together to contribute to their pluralistic societies in the West — in an interview with Sunday’s Zaman.

   
 
     
 
 
               
 
     
 
 
 
 
 
     
     
                                                               
                                                               

 

 

“We are not something to be bought and we are not to be sold. We are subject citizens, we want to be respected and we will contribute to a better future for our countries,” said Ramadan. A professor at Oxford University, Ramadan often underlines the importance of freedom and tells practicing European Muslims that they still have the option of making political, social and cultural decisions for themselves. On the issue of Islamophobia, Ramadan said: “Muslims should respect people’s fear by responding to their questions and should also resist the instrumentalization of fear in what I call emotional politics. Emotional politics uses this fear just to win the next election.”

Ramadan was in İstanbul to speak at a conference held by the Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey (KAGİDER) Ramadan, who is regarded as the most influential Muslim thinker in Europe, gave an interview to Sunday’s Zaman on the highly controversial topics of modernism, Islam and secularism.

You have an article called “Manifesto for a new ‘We’” which was published in The Independent. I would like you to explain what “We” means?

I describe it as a manifesto for a new “We.” We live in pluralistic societies in the West, as well as in Muslim countries like Turkey. We are not even clear about what it means to be a pluralistic society. Instead of speaking about our differences, the principle at the beginning is to accept that these are pluralistic societies. We have no choice. The West now is full of pluralistic societies. Islam is a Western religion as well as a religion for Muslim-majority countries, and we are bound by the laws of the country, we speak the language of the country, we are loyal to the country and we have our objective. And this objective is that you and I, Muslims, non-Muslims, atheists, agnostics, Christians, Jews are to come together and do something to work together. So a new “We” is a vision for more contribution and to stop talking about integration.

When we look at Europe, we see some problems occurring one after the other in countries such as Greece and Spain. It starts with an economic crisis and a social crisis and then transforms into hatred and the exclusion of foreigners. Is this really the case in Europe?

The situation in Europe and in the West by and large is not very good. We have trends coming from far-right parties and populist parties targeting Muslims because they are undermining the homogeneity of the society, the culture and living together. I am Swiss by nationality, and in my country we voted against the minarets, we are talking about the burqa and headscarves. Any visible symbol of Islam is perceived as a danger, and the parties are building on that. At the same time, what is happening at the grassroots level is much better because you have Muslims settling down, working, contributing and doing their jobs. So I think that there is a state of tension within society because we are facing an identity crisis within the Muslim communities, who are asking “who are we?” and within the surrounding society. Now what we have to do is to be much more involved in society and not let far-right parties and populist parties set the political agenda. We should be much more involved in society to create a new “We.” We are citizens. We are not minorities and we are not the victims of a minority mentality. We should be involved in society; this is the best way in fact to react to the trends that we see today in Europe.

Is Islamophobia still an issue in Europe?

Yes, I would speak about racism against Muslims. Muslims are targeted if they wear a headscarf, if they have a Muslim name or if they appear to be like a Muslim. It is still difficult to get a job, to get a house, to be respected and the atmosphere is very difficult. So I would say yes, there is Islamophobia. Many people are really experiencing phobia, which means fear. Muslims should respect people’s fear by responding to their questions and should also resist the instrumentalization of fear in what I call emotional politics. Emotional politics uses this fear just to win the next election.

The integration of Muslim immigrants and Europeans was considered a challenging issue in Europe. Today can we talk about the contribution of the third and fourth generations to European society rather than their integration into society?

I would say that we have to differentiate between the discussion on Islam and Muslims in Europe, or European Muslims, with immigration, because immigration is an ongoing process. We keep speaking about immigration. Now we have millions of Europeans and we are reaching the fifth generation, not only the third one. Regarding the fifth generation in some countries such as France and the UK, we still speak about British citizens of immigrant backgrounds, of French citizens of immigrant backgrounds. These are now citizens and it means that for many people Islam is still a foreign religion and a religion of immigrants and we have to show now that it is not true. As you said, the success of integration is to stop talking about integration. It is now to speak about contribution and living together. Still, we will have immigration problems but they are not connected to Islam, they are connected to the fact that Europe cannot survive if there are no people coming from the outside. We need migrants and immigrants to help us in the economic field but we deny this. So there is an economic need and a cultural resistance. But this is another situation, it is another discussion. We have to distinguish between European Muslims living in the country as citizens and contributing and how to deal with the new immigrants who are coming in, and we have to deal with them on political, social and cultural grounds, of course.

Do you find the dialogue between Muslim immigrants and Europeans sufficient?

I speak about citizens talking to their governments. I think that at the local level it is much better than what we see. At the national level we have controversies like in the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Germany and Norway. So I would say it is not enough and we have to improve the dialogue, but if we look at the local level we can find that there are very interesting processes and trends. It is going to be a very long process. It will take at least two generations before we settle down. So we have to be patient, we have to work for the future and for the next generation, not for the next election. This is something to be made very clear. We are not something to be bought and we are not to be sold. We are subject citizens, we want to be respected and we will contribute to a better future for our countries. This is our loyalty to the country; we want the best for our countries.

Can we say that the young Muslim immigrants are contributing more to European society?

Not only the new generation, not only the third generation. We have to keep in mind and to remind people that the first generation contributed to the rebuilding of Europe after World War II. We have to say this, we have to say that mothers and fathers, even grandfathers and grandmothers, came and they contributed to society. They built France, Germany, Britain, Sweden and Belgium. These countries needed these people and they were even asking these people to come. I was with Jack Straw, the previous UK secretary of state for justice, who said, “We went there to bring them here.” So we brought them to Europe. The first generation contributed, the second generation contributed and the third generation is contributing in many fields — within academia, on the social ground, in the arts, in music, in entertainment, in sports and in anything which has to do with culture as well. So, yes, of course, the contribution is huge.

Considering the misunderstanding and even conflicts between Islam and the West, is it about the clash of cultures or perceptions?

This is what I am saying. This is not a clash of civilizations; this is a clash of perceptions. So people perceive the other in an essentialist way. This is the West and this is Islam. Well this is wrong. There are lots of things that have come from Islam in the West, and there are lots of things from the West in Islam. So they intertwine, and I would say that this perception that there are two blocs and two entities that are striving and conflicting is wrong. It is much more our perceptions that are problematic.

Do you find the Alliance of Civilizations [AoC] useful in terms of people understanding each other?

It is always useful to have platforms where you have dialogue. Now you have to ask what the intentions are and where they lead us. The first thing is that while we were talking about the clash of civilizations before, people are now talking about dialogue and alliance, saying we have to work together, and that’s fine. I was involved in this and I was invited to a meeting of the Alliance of Civilizations two weeks ago in Cordoba. My point here is really beyond that. We have to remind ourselves that dialogue and alliances should not only be symbolic and far removed from the people. So if you talk to Muslims at the grassroots level today, Europeans and Westerners at the grassroots level, these people don’t even know what is happening. So these are specialists talking to each other that are far removed from the grass roots and it has no impact. I would say dialogue and alliances are fine but we have to ask the questions of “where” and “with whom.”

Do you find Turkey to be a complex country on the basis of the idea that concepts such as modernism, secularism, Islam and women’s issues are still controversial subjects and are not likely to be settled?

I think it is not going to settle for the next two generations. There may be more controversy in Turkey than in other countries, but still it is the same everywhere. Turkey is really at the crossroads of being involved in the EU, being involved in the West and being faithful to Islamic principles. This is exactly what we see within society. So how do you deal with this? By being faithful to tradition, to practices and to principles. There are tensions, and they are difficult to overcome. This is why, as you said, Turkey has not yet settled; but it is a necessary process, and my hope is for Turkey to lead or pave the way for Muslim-majority countries to show that it is possible to have democracy and transparency but still to remain faithful to Islam. It is possible not to impose anything on women, not to push people to remove the headscarf and to be able to be fully Muslim and completely modern. This is possible, and I think that Turkey is under pressure because some in Europe want Turkey to forget much more about their principles and some other Muslims are saying you are betraying and forgetting Islam. Sometimes, you know, when you are walking down the streets in İstanbul you can feel the tension between modernization and tradition and this is part of the Turkish identity today. You are facing the challenges of your time.

Some people in Turkey support the French style of secularism, while others feel closer to the American style. What are your thoughts on the application of secularism on Turkey?

I think that Turkey should find its own way. It is not going to follow the footsteps of the French or the American system. Now we need to put things into context. The secular system was imposed on this country in a way which was very very tough. So there are developments and steps that we have to take into account. There is no way for Turkey to go ahead and push forward to find new solutions in the future if it does not question the kind of secularism that it has. You cannot just come out and say that everything which is religious is wrong. That’s not going to work. I think that Turkey should, step-by-step and in a very patient way, find its own way to solve the problem. The rule of law? Yes. A secular system? Why not, if no one is prevented from practicing her or his religion according to his or her understanding?

You are also saying that there is one Islam but many interpretations of Islam. Do you think that much of the responsibility falls not to the system in which we are living but to the individual herself to learn the original sources of Islam?

There are two things. Any individual, whether that person is a man or a woman, needs to have a basic knowledge of Islam. This is a personal commitment and responsibility. I mean you have to do that. You have to know why you pray, how to pray, what the meanings of the five pillars of Islam are and what the meanings of the six pillars of faith are. All of this is basic knowledge. Now when it comes to interpreting the Quran, you can’t. It is not for everyone to do that. Worshipping is the way for everyone to be close to the spiritual text. Your heart is moved by what you are reading. When it comes to extracting rules, not everyone can do this.

Is the Muslim world falling away from the original text and teachings of Islam?

Oh yes, in many ways. As I said today, when we speak about women, when we speak about politics and corruption, we are forgetting many of the ethical teachings and lessons that are given by Islam. So, I think that we have cultural distortion coming from the Turkish and the Arab culture, the Asian culture and even the Western culture, and we also have reductionism, which is a very literal way of reading the text but not contextualizing the text. Once again, there are things which are immutable; they are not going to change in our religion. Not everyone can just read the Quran and interpret the very meaning of it. Scholars can do that.

You say “Don’t just talk to the West, talk among yourselves.” There is a huge Muslims population but they are weak in power. Is this about their lack of confidence?

Yes, I think that is completely right. I think what is missing for Muslims today is self-confidence. We don’t lack power. We have lots of power. The Muslim-majority countries have money and the petro-monarchies have money. Even if you look at what is happening in Turkey, there are lots of opportunities. So let us use these opportunities to do something which is more important with confidence, by being more assertive and in line with our principles and understandings. The psychological factor is so important.

 
20 June 2010, Sunday

 

ŞEYMA AKKOYUNLU  İSTANBUL

http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/news-213626-the-new-we-is-a-manifesto-for-todays-pluralistic-societies.html

Iraq’s divisions

June 18, 2010 at 12:49 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment

Iraq’s divisions

Sectarian animosity still prevails

With little sign of a genuine cross-sectarian consensus, Iraq’s fledgling democracy remains frighteningly fragile

Jun 17th 2010 | Baghdad and Fallujah

Published in The Economist

MORE than three months after a general election, Iraq’s new parliament met for the first time on June 14th—but still with no new government in sight. The post of prime minister remains up for grabs, and no one knows who will get it. So the time-wasting hiatus that has kept the country adrift since the general election on March 7th could stretch for several more nerve-jangling months.

During this time, no new laws have been passed, no new national vision enunciated. Violence, though far less bloody than three years ago, has risen again. Worst of all, Iraq’s ethno-sectarian divisions seem as deep as ever. No Iraqi equipped to appeal across them looks likely to emerge as prime minister. Indeed, though a party strongly backed by the Sunni Arab minority narrowly won the most votes and seats in the March election, the two biggest mainly Shia alliances, which came second and third, have agreed to gang up in a wider front to form a ruling coalition in which the Sunnis may not play much of a part. Since the two mainly Shia alliances teamed up only recently, it is unclear whether the constitution should treat them as the election winners and give them first shot at forming a government.

Continue Reading Iraq’s divisions…

In ‘liberated’ Iraq, Iraqis are in the dark

June 17, 2010 at 8:45 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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In the dark

niqash | Mayada Daood | wed 16 jun 10

 

A lack of electricity is a standard problem for Iraqis. They have suffered from the absence of power supply for decades.

No longer do they believe the promises they hear from officials who say that the future looks bright. The irony is not lost on them. They feel destined to remain in the dark.

Iraq’s power supply problems go back to the early 1990s when coalition troops destroyed the national electricity network in the first Gulf War. An economic siege followed that continued until the second Gulf War in 2003.

During the sanctions years, existing facilities fell into disrepair and no new ones built to meet the increased demand during the siege, when Iraq suffered most from power outages.

Continue Reading In ‘liberated’ Iraq, Iraqis are in the dark…

UN Secret Detention Report (Part Two): CIA Prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq

June 17, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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UN Secret Detention Report (Part Two): CIA Prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq

 Andy Worthington

16.6.10

http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2010/06/16/un-secret-detention-report-part-two-cia-prisons-in-afghanistan-and-iraq/

 To complement my recent article, “UN Human Rights Council Discusses Secret Detention Report,” in which I explained how, two weeks ago, the UN Human Rights Council had — after some delays — finally discussed the findings of the “Joint Study on Global Practices in Relation to Secret Detention in the Context of Counter-Terrorism,” a detailed, 186-page report issued in February (PDF), I’m posting the section of the report that deals with US secret detention policies since the 9/11 attacks, in the hope that it might reach a new audience — and provide useful research opportunities — as an HTML document.

I do, however, urge everyone to read the whole report, because the introduction and conclusions are important, as are the sections establishing the legal approach to secret detention and its historical context, the section detailing current practices in 25 other countries worldwide, and the annexes, which contain government responses to a questionnaire about secret detention, and a number of case studies.

Continue Reading UN Secret Detention Report (Part Two): CIA Prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq…

America leaves Iraq a toxic legacy of dumped hazardous materials

June 16, 2010 at 11:20 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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From The Times

June 14, 2010

America leaves Iraq a toxic legacy of dumped hazardous materials

Oliver August, Baghdad

American troops going home from Iraq after seven painful years are leaving behind a legacy that is literally toxic.

An investigation by The Times in five Iraqi provinces has found that hazardous material from US bases is being dumped locally rather than sent back to America, in clear breach of Pentagon rules.

North and west of Baghdad, engine oil is leaking from 55-gallon drums into dusty ground, open acid canisters sit within easy reach of children, and discarded batteries lie close to irrigated farmland. A 2009 Pentagon document shown to The Times by a private contractor working with US soldiers mentions “an estimated 11 million pounds [5,000 tonnes] of hazardous waste” produced by American troops.

But even this figure appears to be only a partial estimate. BrigadierGeneral Kendall Cox, who is responsible for engineering and infrastructure in Iraq, told The Times yesterday that he was in the process of disposing of 14,500 tonnes of oil and soil contaminated with oil. “This has accumulated over seven years,” he said.

Iraqis who have come into contact with some of the material suffer from rashes and blistering on their hands and feet. They also complain of gagging and coughing. Rats near sites where waste was dumped have died and lie next to soiled containers.

Abu Saif, a Fallujah scrap dealer who handles US military surplus, lifted up his trouser legs and raised his hands to show blistered skin. “I got this when I worked on what was supposed to be American scrap metal,” he said. “I checked with a doctor and he said these are the effects of dangerous chemicals.”

Private recycling companies located within American bases have allegedly mixed hazardous material with ordinary scrap and passed it on to local dealers. “By the time we see this stuff it is too late,” said Abu Saif.

Several workers at his and other yards have been injured while handling supposed scrap metal. “When they poured out what’s in these jerry cans they started coughing,” another yard owner said. “Some got rashes and many quit work. So when I get this kind of material now I bury it somewhere far away.”

Some of the dumped materials have labels identifying them as US military property or come with paperwork from the Department of Defence. The Times discovered a 2008 e-mail from Allied Chemical of Morristown, New Jersey, to Pentagon officials warning of hazardous effects.

A printout was attached to a discarded canister of sulphuric acid, a highly corrosive liquid used in wastewater treatment. It said of the substance: “Causes severe burns to skin and lungs … Get immediate medical attention … Use gas mask.”

As the majority of US troops depart from Iraq this year, hundreds of bases are being closed and all hazardous material is supposed to be either returned to the US by ship via the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr or recycled in specially built facilities in northern and western Iraq.

Brigadier-General Stephen Lanza, the US military spokesman in Baghdad, said: “We take this issue very seriously and want to solve the problem. There is a variety of ways in which this [dumping] could have happened. We are now putting a system into place. There is a lot of catching up to do.”

The spokesman will hold a press conference today to explain how the military intends to clean up after itself. He said: “There may have been things that were collected improperly. We will send teams through our dumps to see if there is anything in the wrong place.”

But for now the military is mostly guessing. Brigadier-General Gus Purna, director of the military arm responsible for logistics in Iraq, said: “Maybe a motor pool was closed and, rather than going to the turn-in site, the oil went to the dump.”

Having been shown photographs taken by The Times at dump sites, the general said: “Seeing these pictures is very helpful. We want to make sure we get it right.”

Most of the dump sites are close to the main roads from Baghdad to Fallujah and Mosul, where America fought hardest and had the greatest concentration of bases over the past seven years. In numerous places the ground is littered with the detritus of military life. Oil filters from heavy vehicles lie next to aerosol cans and other compressed-gas cylinders. Drums of aviation fuel mingle with jerry cans containing unknown liquids.

Most canisters no longer hold their original contents or are only partly filled. Yet, according to US military rules shown by a contractor to The Times, even “empty containers that previously held hazardous waste” may not be dumped.

The labels on the range of canisters say “hazardous waste — federal laws prohibit improper disposal”; “corrosive”, “keep out of reach of children”; “no smoking within 50ft”; “caution — hazardous waste”; “flammable liquid”.

Red danger signs are covered with black spray paint. One barrel features a hand-written notice saying: “Hazardous waste 1/10/09.” Another has a Department of Defence label with a “hazard ID” number. Parts of weapons can also be found, including canisters for explosive propellants for American 155mm guns, confiscated AK-47 rifles, rusty landmines and the shells of shoulder-fired missiles.

Nirmeen Othman, the Iraqi Environment Minister, told The Times that she was starting an official investigation into the disposal of hazardous American material. “I will send a team of experts immediately to check on this,” she said.

Responsibility for the removal of US military waste lies with the Defence Reutilisation and Marketing Office, which subcontracts some of the work to local companies. It has a legal responsibility for American waste even after it has been passed on to private contractors.

Qahtan Khalaf, the Tikrit-based owner of al-Shefar Group, which has been disposing of US military waste since 2003, said: “The Americans properly separate the hazardous material from the plastic and scrap metal, and then pass it on to Kuwaiti and Lebanese companies. Some of the companies then mix it back together and pass it on to Iraqi companies. That’s how they get rid of things.”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article7149611.ece

Project for Pitiless Centuries, by Felicity Arbuthnot

June 16, 2010 at 6:59 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Project for Pitiless Centuries

Felicity Arbuthnot

 

Victim of sanctions against Iraq

June 15, 2010

“I listen to the blackbird. A song for those who died.
Now it is still all left to do. So as not to lose sight of the goal, which is to lift the brutal blockade of Gaza. That will happen.
Beyond that goal, others are waiting. Demolishing a system of apartheid takes time. But not an eternity.”
(Swedish Author, Henning Menkel, Mavi Marmara survivor, diary entry, 2nd June 2010.)

In 1990, in arguably some of the most chilling lines written in recent history, Gary Clyde Hufbauer, et al., wrote, regarding embargoes, in an advisory document for the George H.W. Bush Administration: ” … we present our short list of ‘do’s and don’ts’ for the architects of a sanctions policy designed to change the politics of the target country … (3) Do pick on the weak and helpless …(5) Do impose the maximum cost on your target …” (emphasis mine.) (1) On Hiroshima Day 1990, the most comprehensive embargo ever imposed by the UN., was imposed on Iraq.

This silent, comprehensive weapon of mass destruction is increasingly used as a method of warfare, often under a supine United Nations, arm twisted by the US, or on behalf of the friends it has left. The men, women and children who are victims of this unique deprivation, denying, or debilitating all life’s norms, are thus targeted by a United Nations established to :

” … reaffirm human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small …
to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom … the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples … “

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