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Iraq Conference Calls - Report

Two conference calls by United for Peace and Justice were held to update peace activists on the situation in Iraq.  About 100 activists across the country were on the first call June 18 and about 50 on July 8. 

United for Peace and Justice still exists as a national network (no paid staff)

www.unitedforpeace.org

info.ufpj@gmail.com

Jackie Cabasso and Terry Rockefeller are the co-conveners

Phyllis Bennis, IPS (notes below are a combination of both calls)

Crises growing exponentially, consequences of US war(s),

300 mile border between Syria and Iraq is porous – people and arms moving in both directions

Internal power struggles going on, with global aspirations

April elections – Maliki has no plurality, no legitimacy, the traditional communities are moving apart, breaking down, greater divisions

Amongst warmongers/pundits – claim that “surge” was a success is resurfacing – this is not accurate because back in 2007 (1) unilateral ceasefire was implemented by Sadr, (2) Awakening Council paid off by US to stop attacking gov’t, (3) sectarian divide had been accomplished with cities/communities divided between Shia and Sunni, 30,000 more troops had nothing to do with it…

Regional line-up(s): 

Iran and US – supporting Maliki

Iran supporting Assad, but US is not

Saudi Arabia/Qatar/Jordan – against Assad, for Maliki but are funding ISIS…

Breakdown of usual alliances is happening

Oil/gas are a major factor but not main factor – which is power

About IS (ISIS/ISIL)

  • ISIS has control of a number of oil fields and is selling oil to Assad gov’t
  • ISIS - product of US invasion and occupation of Iraq, founded against occupation, expanded into Syria
  • Legacy of US occupation (failure of US policy) when US disbanded the Iraqi military and the civil service government, instituting parties based on sectarian divisions, deBaathification meant that jobs were denied to anyone who had been a Baathist, which was most people who allied to the party under Hussein for job opportunities.  US occupation destroyed secular/nationalist elements of society.
  • US deliberately created sectarian divides – paying Sunni to fight Shia not US in Iraq, Iraqi Army is one big Shia militia
  • They have renamed themselves Islamic State – very harsh form of Sharia law, very violent, extremist
  • At this point, they are sophisticated and wealthiest militia (got start as Sunni opposition to US occupation of Iraq, have morphed)
  • ISIS - took over the bank of Mosul, took 1/2 billion cash and gold, estimated they now have up to 2 billion - most powerful militia in world, definition of Sharia law - extreme, very violent, not the only ones fighting, former military, Baathists etc, are involved.  
  • IS is feared less than Army, IS(IS/IL) has support – seen by Sunni as lesser evil to Maliki who has been waging brutal attacks on Sunni

Who is fighting and on what side is becoming very complicated and will become more so

So far, US response kind of nonsensical, Maliki won't reduce the sectarianism, very allied with Iran - irony, current Iraqi Army viewed as Shia militia

For the moment it does not look like Obama will send troops back, this may change as things get worse, 275 marines to embassy to aid in evacuation if it becomes necessary, aircraft carrier and other ships in area, 35,000 US troops scattered around region as well…

Call for broader demands - do no harm, no military solution, no strikes, drones, etc, humanitarian aid through UN Refugee Agencies, refugee crisis just got worse

New negotiations, diplomatic solution only way, Geneva II failed because US insisted on excluding Iran

Sandy Davis – Prog. Dems. America - 6/18

Sunni Arabs victims of genocide committed by US, US responded to resistance to occupation by targeting Sunni and secular population, killed 10 percent of Sunnis - meets definition of Genocide Convention, signed by US

Not "mistakes" as characterized by US "media" but policy

After Fallujah the US recruited and trained 28 brigades of death squads - Shia, called Interior Police, then National Police, then Federal Police, conducted a reign of terror in Baghdad in 2005-6, murdered tens of thousands of men and boys, victims of summary execution 

Important to understand Iraqi militias (Shia) never operated independently from US advisors and Special Forces, the presentation as a centuries old conflict is untrue, the US policy was to conduct a savage war against Sunni Arabs who resisted the occupation and being thrown out of jobs/power 

Security forces have continued a low grade reign of terror against Sunni Arabs, they are rising up (5-6 million people), it is well-coordinated, leadership is in shadows, don't want to be identified, goal is overthrowing Iranian/US backed Maliki government

Terry Rockefeller – 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

Roots lie in US occupation, went to Iraqi Social forum in Baghdad last year, has connections to civil society groups that emerged after fall of Hussein (about 5000 NGO’s)

There are several public statements from Iraqi groups, Terry read from some of them and a request was made to put them at the UFPJ website

Reports of small villages of Turkmen, Christians, other minority groups in Iraq being taken over and all the young men being marched out and executed…

Need to call for much more humanitarian aid, there is not enough, promised aid not coming through, refugees numbers huge

The website for the Iraqi civil society initiative is:  http://www.iraqicivilsociety.org

Rusti Eisenberg– UFPJ legislative working group, Historians for Peace

Barbara Lee letter to Obama telling him to go to Congress/respect Constitution - has 80 signatures, was closed, may re-open to get more signatures

Seems like it was sent already:

http://lee.house.gov/sites/lee.house.gov/files/wysiwyg_uploaded/Scanned%20from%20a%20Xerox%20multifunction%20device001_0.pdf

Congress recess in August

Important to meet face to face and vigil at offices – our reps need to see us!

Rusti’s take on current situation is that Iraq is not only problem other places are erupting due to US militarism (US war/military budgets have huge support in Congress – only 73-90 oppose the budgets) and we should take an integrated approach to the problem…

Q&A – 7/8/14

post info on pols – “scorecard” – get some of the ranking members/committee chairs out!  Send delegations to pols this Aug,

put civil society documents out there,

look at the AFSC working paper “Shared Security,”

possibility of arms embargo?  (PB – not too realistic right now…) –

remember in 2003 – other superpower (for peace) how about “superpower for arms embargo

IS – overreach?  Possible, if they impose their version of Islam there will be a backlash, if ex-Baathists withdraw support, etc

 

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