Keeping sane.

Jahanzeb Hussain is the editor of Collateral Damage Magazine http://collateraldamagemagazine.net [Keeping Sane]







Remembering A Baghdad Elsewhere: An Emotional Cartography

"The planes that were arranged to transport Iraqi-Jews to #Israel uprooted millennia of life in Babylon, leading to a new diasporic existence. Overnight, we were no longer Iraqis, but Israelis; a new citizenship coupled with a strict poetic national-culture meter. The Israeli-Arab conflict formulated a new grammar of belonging where Arabness and Jewishness composed a mutually exclusive syntax, in excess of each other. Upon their arrival in Israel, my grandparents did not speak Hebrew and never learned it until their last day. My parents, while becoming more fluent in Hebrew, persisted to speak it with a heavy Iraqi accent, unable to erase the traces of their “Bilad al-Rafidein” (Mesopotamia) birthplace. 

My father and his friends, during their first days as construction workers, communicated among themselves in Arabic but were disdainfully ordered by their Euro-Israeli boss to “Stop speaking Arabic! We are not in an Arab country.” Arabic, needless to say, was the language of the enemy. A Jew could not speak it, and a Jew could certainly not claim it as an identity marker. “In Iraq,” my parents often lamented, “we were Jews. In Israel, we are Arabs.””

(Source : jadaliyya.com)

Iraq, Afghan wars will cost to $4 trillion to $6 trillion, Harvard study says

The U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will cost taxpayers $4 trillion to $6 trillion, taking into account the medical care of wounded veterans and expensive repairs to a force depleted by more than a decade of fighting, according to a new study by a Harvard researcher.

Spending borrowed money to pay for the wars has also made them more expensive, the study noted. The conflicts have added $2 trillion to America’s debt, representing roughly 20 percent of the debt incurred between 2001 and 2012.

 

This shows that austerity is a total joke. The best way to end the debt and go into surplus is to cut all the war spending and have a functional health care system. The reason why there are so many austerity measures everywhere except for in military spending is because the purpose of budget cutbacks is to harm the poor and create precarious social conditions which would allow more labor exploitation to happen.

- Jahanzeb 

(Source : Washington Post)

Iran Conference: Setting the Stage for Dialogue in Syria

One of the most informative articles I’ve read so far on Syria.

Must read. 

Turkey and Syria: The Kurdish dilemma

As the civil war in Syria continues to spread Turkey is faced with a new dimension to its long-standing Kurdish problem. For decades, modern Turkey has been battling a bloody insurgency in southeastern Turkey, led by the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) that has left some 40,000 people dead on both sides.

After having virtually squashed the insurgency in a 16-year long war, however, Turkey found the reality on the ground change fundamentally with the emergence of a Kurdish state-in-waiting in northern Iraq, following the imposition of a US-led no fly zone there in 1991 and the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Turkey embraced that new fact by forging close ties with the Iraqi Kurdish leadership and investing heavily in the autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region in a bid to prevent it from fostering Turkish Kurdish demands for greater autonomy or moving towards full independence. The takeover of Syrian Kurdish towns along the border with Turkey by armed Kurds of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Syrian wing of the PKK, confronts Turkey with a similar dilemma for which, unlike in Iraq, it has no ready answers.

Syrian Kurdish assertiveness raises the question whether Turkey can sustain its opposition to the aspirations of the Kurds on its borders, or whether it would be better served by embracing a pro-active Kurdish policy that would turn Kurdish nationalism across West Asia to its advantage, as it did in Northern Iraq? Turkish opposition to Kurdish aspirations, moreover, despite its support for the Sunni Muslim opposition in Syria, risks putting Turkey alongside China and Russia in the camp of those opposed to the emergence of a post-Assad Syria that is more democratic and pluralistic.

Risking military intervention

Turkish leaders have so far given no indication that they are reading the writing on the wall despite debate in the media about the need to bite the Kurdish bullet. That would involve granting Turkish Kurds full democratic rights of political and cultural expression that would bring the PKK into the fold and extending its approach in Iraqi Kurdistan to Kurdish communities in Syria and eventually in Iran. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan however has warned: ”We will not allow a terrorist group to establish camps in northern Syria and threaten Turkey. If there is a step which needs to be taken against the terrorist group, we will definitely take this step.”

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davitoglu has urged the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) to ensure that a post-Assad Syria remains united. In a rare joint declaration Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan warned that they would confront any threat from a violent group or organization that exploits the power vacuum in Syria. The warning addressed to the PKK without identifying it by name came as Turkey launched a military exercise just across the border from Kurdish-controlled Syrian towns.

These moves may persuade the PKK to refrain for now from attacking Turkey from Syrian territory but are unlikely to resolve the increasing challenge Kurds pose to Turkish policy at home and in the region. For the PKK, attacks against Turkey from Syria would be a double-edged sword. Turkish military retaliation against Syrian Kurdish targets in Syria would constitute foreign intervention in the country’s civil war; it could accelerate Assad’s downfall but would strengthen the hand of PKK’s nemesis, Turkey.

Turkish fears of Syrian Kurdish areas developing into a springboard for attacks on Turkey have also revived discussion of creating a buffer zone on the Turkish-Syrian border to counter Syrian Kurdish moves. For now Syrian Kurds are hedging their bets. Their takeover of Syrian Kurdish towns while remaining on the side lines of the effort to topple Assad, gives them leverage irrespective of who emerges victorious from the battle for the future of Syria.

So far Turkish warnings have only a limited impact. The PDY is one of two alliances of Syrian Kurdish groups, the People’s Council for Western Kurdistan (PCWK), that are backed by Iraqi Kurdish leaders and have refused to become part of the SNC because of its rejection of Kurdish aspirations, its alignment with Turkey and the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in the council. Syrian Kurdish fighters have so far successfully rebuffed attempts by the rebel Free Syrian Army to enter Syrian Kurdish areas.

The Turkish military and Iraqi Kurdish leaders moreover have been unable to dislodge PKK bases established in the remote Kandil mountains in northern Iraq. The leaders have long counseled their Syrian Kurdish brethren, who account for some 12 per cent of the Syrian population, to remain on the side lines of the conflict in Syria until either the opposition recognizes Kurdish rights or facts on the ground that warrant a Kurdish move.

The Kurds’ time has come

That time appears to have come. In a post-Assad Syria that will probably remain volatile and unstable with ethnic and religious groups fighting one another, Syrian Kurds are likely to learn from the success of Iraqi Kurds in carving out a relatively stable enclave of their own while the rest of Iraq tore itself apart. In preparation, Iraqi Kurdish forces have already started training Syrian Kurdish fighters. With Syrian Kurds pushing for greater rights and self-rule rather than independence, Turkey is likely to sit on the side lines as long as it is not attacked from Syrian territory.

The emergence of a second autonomous Kurdish region along its border not only calls into question Turkey’s fundamental policy towards the Kurds, it makes more necessary than ever a revision of policy that would put Turkey at the forefront of developments in the region and cement its role as a leader at a time of geopolitical change.

(Source : middle-east-online.com)

The 10 Lessons of the Iraq war by the Foreign Policy Journal

                      “… the real lesson of Iraq is not to do stupid things like this again.”

So the biggest lesson from Iraq is that it was a stupid war. For American intellectuals, Iraq was not a war which was wrong and immoral, but just a stupid war that cost the US too much money. In capitalist America, it’s all about money. Clearly there are no lessons to be learnt from the fact that the US destroyed an entire country, killed more than a million people, used depleted uranium to deform thousands of children (the cancer rate in Fallujah is higher than Nagasaki and Hiroshima) and made thousands women into widows. The US didn’t learn anything from Vietnam and it’s the same with this war. This is because the US refuses to look at itself in the mirror. If the US goes on like this, then there is nothing that can stop this criminal, terrorist and racist empire.

 - Jahanzeb Hussain

 

(Source : foreignpolicy.com)

Note on the 9th anniversary of the Iraq war

 There are many people who oppose the invasion of Iraq but at the same time support the Afghan war as the “good war”. On top of that, they also support bombing Iran, deny Palestinians their rights and were in favor of NATO’s mission in Libya. They also back the drone bombings in Pakistan. Some of them are part of the Kony2012 crowd as well. These bandwagoners need to get a fucking life.

- Jahanzeb Hussain

9 years of Iraq War

When the American troops began to invade Iraq, there was this one question on our minds: Who’s next? Are we next? I was a 14 year-old kid at that time. For me, the Iraqi child that I saw dying on tv could very well have been me. What’s the difference after all? For the Empire, we are all one and the same. They could have blown my house up and destroyed my city - Karachi - just as easily as they were bombing Baghdad. Where was I and where were the Iraqi children? We were all the same. And we are still the same.

- Jahanzeb Hussain

9 years ago today, Geroge Bush announced the invasion of Iraq. One of the biggest - if not the biggest - war criminals on earth still walks free to this moment

Even though the war, officially, is in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was Pakistan that, in 2009, had more casualties than Afghanistan in the same year and Iraq in 2011. 

American Policy Toward Iraq After 2011

"Until the global economy kicks its dangerous addiction to oil, Iraq will matter a great deal to us and to our trading partners."

 Testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services.

***

I really urge you to read this. 

(Source : brookings.edu)

Let us forget about Iraq

It angers me, listening to so many mourn the financial losses the United States Gov’t has forced upon the citizens of this empire. The cost of the war. That is seemingly all we hear of. The day the war “ended” I forced myself into watching, briefly, a few mainstream media outlets; the cost to Americans was all that mattered – their troops, their money –  them. A selfish media for a selfish people.

Very well written by  Roqayah Chamseddine. Must read and must share

Obama, Maliki outline post-war cooperation between U.S. and Iraq

“Just as Iraq has pledged not to interfere in the affairs of other nations, other nations must not interfere in Iraq,” Obama said. “Iraq’s sovereignty must be respected.”

Except for obviously the United States which is supposed to rule the world by force and nobody is supposed to know that, let alone point it out. 

(Source : Washington Post)

US and Iraq

The United States would continue to have a presence in the region [Middle East], which “should be free from outside interference to continue on a pathway to democracy,” Clinton added, alluding to US arch-foe Iran.

Does anyone notice a profound contradiction in her statement?  Since most respected intellectuals are unbelievably obedient and never notice the cynicism of American officials, let me underline the contradiction in what Clinton said about the American withdrawal from Iraq. According to Clinton, the Middle East will somehow be free of outside interference even though the US will maintain its presence there. Remarkably, the US doesn’t qualify as an outside presence. The US is supposed to be native to the Arab world. More accurately, perhaps, the US sees itself as the owner of the world, especially the Middle East and its oil. Therefore it should be natural for the United States to be in Iraq and elsewhere, as the world belongs to the Americans.

For the last few days, everyone in the American administration and the intellectuals who serve them are making a case about the evil Iranian regime, their interference in Iraq and the subsequent de-stabilization of the country. Somehow, again, the US is not de-stabilizing Iraq be having invaded the country. However, if Iran extends its influence to her neighboring country then that’s dangerous to the Iraq’s stability.

Last but not the least; the US has no intentions to withdraw from Iraq. As the American military presence in the country is increasing, its diplomatic presence is increasing, along with a large number of military contractors. The US will continue to fund and train the Iraqi army. As Clinton put it bluntly, We have bases in neighboring countries, we have our NATO ally in Turkey, we have a lot of presence in that region. And again: So we’re going to be present in Iraq, supporting the Iraqis and continually discussing with them what their needs are, and no one should miscalculate our commitment to Iraq, most particularly Iran.

One should nevertheless recognize that the US has been defeated in Iraq in many ways. The primary objective of the US was to gain an unhindered access to Iraqi oil, but thanks to the Iraqi political resistance, the US was unable to achieve its war aims. Iraqis also forced the US to sign an agreement which outlined the duration of stay for the American forces in Iraq, duration which comes to an end this year. One should also salute the Iraqi resistance for severely weakening the American forces, because when the American tanks landed in Baghdad, we didn’t know if they would turn right to Tehran or turn left to Damascus.

  - Jahanzeb Hussain

       

Human beings are supposed to be free as it is their natural right. No human being has to prove that he or she deserves freedom. They are to be free by the virtue of being humans. Therefore, one cannot doubt or demand that Palestinians, Iraqis and Afghans should demonstrate their maturity and prove themselves worthy of freedom. Those who say that they are unsure over what will ensue if Palestine or Afghanistan are free and that perhaps it is too early for their freedom, are nothing but pure racists. If Afghans and Arabs have to prove that they deserve freedom, then when and to whom did Europe and North America prove their worthiness to liberty? The very fact that Iraqis, Afghans and Palestinians have to depend on others for their freedom is morally abhorrent and inhumane. The only reason why one would doubt their right to freedom is if one does not consider them to be human beings. Racism is the only explanation to the American and Israeli stance over Palestinian self-determination. Only racists will have second thoughts over the Afghan struggle for liberation. If you regard these people as human beings then you will never question their right to liberty, freedom, justice and dignity. 

- Jahanzeb Hussain.