In the Middle East, an ongoing crisis deepens

Before Mr Bush and Mr Cheney embark on bringing democracy to Iran, the ongoing wars in the Middle East merit taking a closer look:

This blog has featured  a story about Afghanistan threatening to fall back into the hands of the Taliban in 2008. The story was called “Kabul likely lost in 2008”.  The “Reuters” story we linked 57 days ago said:

 “It is a sad indictment of the current state of Afghanistan that the question now appears to be not if the Taliban will return to Kabul, but when,” the report said.

The year 2008 is fourteen days old today and here are the Taliban! A Kabul luxury hotel, mostly used by foreign journalists and diplomats was attacked by the resurgent Taliban, Norway’s Foreign Minister survived the attack in the cellar of the building. Six people died.

In Iraq things allegedly go better. Still the US forces deem it necessary to launch an offensive and bomb the southern outskirts of Baghdad. In Iraq the killing doesn’t end, only the reporting on the killing did. 19 US soldiers lost their lives since the beginning of the year.

In Pakistan the bloodshed doesn’t end. The suicide bombing in Lahore four days ago killed 22 human beings mostly policemen. Today 8 died and 40 people were wounded in Karachi. The US has boots on the ground there, much to the dismay of the Pakistani government. It may indeed be necessary, because there is still a chance that Pakistan may fall to chaos and the control over the nuclear arsenal is lost.

In case someone hasn’t noticed the Palestine peace process is negotiated by Palestinian leaders who do not represent the Gaza strip which is only nominally under control of the Palestinian National Authority. The Palestinians are in a de facto civil war and thus make a poor party to peace negotiations. But are the negotiations anything else but window dressing anyway?

The Lebanon? No government to speak of and fighting factions, always on the brink of a civil war. Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, dictatorships, which face increasing internal pressure. All those ingredients don’t make the cocktail named Middle East any less explosive.

Any of the current involvements of the United States in the Middle East, military and political, is a failure and an attack on Iran would shatter what little stability there still is.

Mr Bush, Mr Cheney why don’t you just go to Crawford or to your undisclosed location, sit still and wait for your term to end? You proved a failure for seven long years, please just play dead for the remaining 371 days!

The next step in the American primary season is nearing and Michigan, Nevada and of course Super Tuesday, will push the Middle East to the backpages of the news again. But it should be kept at least in our minds, the danger is not over until the Bush Administration’s term is over. If then.

“Europeanview” wishes you all a healthy and happy day. Hug a dear one and take care!

UPDATE: You find some new developments here.

Iraq’s Deadliest Year

Another flagged draped coffin returns. According to the Associated Press, 2007 has been the deadliest year in Iraq for the US military.

BAGHDAD – The second half of 2007 saw violence drop dramatically in Iraq, but the progress came at a high price: The year was the deadliest for the U.S. military since the 2003 invasion, with 899 troops killed.

American commanders and diplomats, however, say the battlefield gains against insurgents such as al-Qaida in Iraq offer only a partial picture of where the country stands as the war moves toward its five-year mark in March.

Two critical shifts that boosted U.S.-led forces in 2007 — a self-imposed cease-fire by a main Shiite militia and a grassroots Sunni revolt against extremists — could still unravel unless serious unity efforts are made by the Iraqi government.

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Iraqi Policewomen Ordered to Surrender Their Weapons

From the Los Angeles Times, via Truthout:

In a move signaling the advent of religious and cultural conservatism, Iraqi policewomen have been ordered to surrender their weapons, or face losing their paychecks.

The Interior Ministry, which oversees the police, issued the order late last month, according to ministry documents, U.S. officials and several of the women.   It affects all officers who have earned the title “policewoman” by graduating from the police academy.  It does not apply to men in the same type of jobs.

This move endangers the rights of all women in Iraq, since few Iraqi women would report a stigmatizing crime such as rape to a policeman.  Additionally, the safety of all Iraqis is put at further risk because there would be no policewomen to conduct pat-down searches of female suspects.

The Iraqi policewomen will now be unable to protect themselves, on or off duty.

Policewomen say the decree also will leave them unable to protect themselves at work or off duty. Scores of police employees, both officers and administrative workers, have been killed by insurgents. Men and women have traditionally been allowed to carry their Glock pistols with them after hours for security.

“We are considered policewomen. We face kidnapping. We could be assassinated. If anyone knew where we worked, of course they would try to do something to us,” said a 27-year-old interviewed Sunday.

“How can I be a policewoman without a weapon?” she asked incredulously as three female colleagues nodded in agreement.

Several of the policewomen have said they will refuse to surrender their weapons, but will instead protest.  They are not counting on U.S. authorities for back up.

Despite the ministry order, the women said they would not hand in their weapons. If their pay is withheld at the end of the month, they plan to stage a protest.

They added that they were counting on U.S. authorities to back them up and force the ministry to back off.

Phillips, though, said U.S. officials have limited options.

“It’s a sovereign nation. We turned over the running of their own police force to them,” he said. “We don’t have a veto.”

As the Iraqis stand up, we will fail to support them.

Hello from Europe – 407 Days still

The Sunday papers, namely the Sunday Times are normally full of useful information to blog on a sunday morning. Now, look what “The Times” is doing to us here and here! Are we really that interested in Dana Perino’s visits to Lancashire pubs, to merit a front page? And they’d better leave Al Gore alone, he’s obviously smarter than the lot of such “journalists” combined!

There is one topic, however, that still haunts all the newspapers. The NIE. John Bolton is foaming at the mouth, Dick Cheney obviously had a “pretty vivid exchange” read: hissy fit and “The Guardian” tells it like it is:

But beyond his basic allergy to the truth, what the spin surrounding the NIE reveals is the extent to which President Bush holds the American people in contempt. Throughout his time in office, President Bush has simplified his arguments for the American people, claimed exclusive rights over private (but worrisome) knowledge and treated Americans like errant children who must be kept from the truth. He scares, cajoles and threatens them, secure in his own mind that he is doing it for their own good, but he does not treat them like adults who can make a reasonable judgment about serious issues or about the behaviour of their government. Only a public report – described by some as a rebellion by the intelligence community – stands in the way of his fear-mongering. Underlying Bush’s reckless behaviour this fall is the belief that the American people are not sufficiently informed to penalise him when engages in spin and half-truths.

While VP Cheney is mourning the opportunity to wage yet another war, there are two such wars going on. In Afghanistan, coalition troops are fighting to “reliberate” a town, that was retaken by the Taliban after it’s initial liberation from the Taliban in 2002. A to and fro that brings up memories from WWI, when every inch of soil captured in the evening was reclaimed by the respective enemy the very next morning. A situation colloquially called a quagmire.

But Iraq is much better, isn’t it? Read the reports on this website carefully and learn more.

“Europeanview” wishes you all a peaceful and healthy day, wherever you are, whatever you do, stay safe and take care.

Good Morning from Europe – 418 Days to Go

This Morning’s news round-up turned almost into a Middle East Special. General Musharraf’s resignation as army chief is today’s news. The wrap-up to yesterdays Annapolis Declaration is covered broadly in the media and unsurprisingly the scepticism has returned after yesterday’s reveling in celebration of impending peace. Analysis sheds a dark light on the situation of the broader Middle East and the prospect of an attack on Iran. Iraqi refugees suffer the consequences of US and Iraqi government propaganda and are returning to Iraq in greater numbers, not always out of their own free will. France has suffered renewed violence and in Germany a landlord had his very own domestic surveillance program. For more detailed information on all of these topics, see the post below the fold. “Europeanview” wishes you all a happy, healthy day. Take care!

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Hello from Europe – 421 Days to Go

The War in Iraq is far from over, even if the Administration wants to make believe that things have improved drastically. The reduction of 3’000 troops is announced, which brings the number of troops down to appr. 32’000 above pre-surge level. The security situation in Irag is said to have improved, however everyday life is still a struggle for Iraqis and US soldiers are still dying in Iraq.

In the “Independent on Sunday” the inimitable Robert Fisk is shedding light on the situation in the Middle East, namely Lebanon, prior to the middle east conference in Annapolis next week. Lebanon, which has tried and failed to elect a president this week is in trouble, but so is the rest of the region from Pakistan to the Mediterranean. Robert Fisk reports:

A woman friend of mine, married to a doctor at the American University Hospital, called me two days before. “Robert, come and see the building they are making next to us,” she said. And I took Abed and we went to see this awful building. It has almost no windows. All its installations are plumbing. It is virtually a militia prison. And I’m sure that’s what it is meant to be. Continue reading

Guns anyone?-Nice Guns!-Cheap Guns!-Hey Mister, need gun?

The New York Times tells the story of Mr Kassim Al-Saffar. Mr Al-Saffar was the trusted representative of the US authorities in Iraq and a splendid businessman, it seems. He was entrusted to distribute small arms to the Iraqi police cadets,who were being trained to fight the insurgency:

By all accounts, the businessman, Kassim al-Saffar, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, did well at distributing the Pentagon-supplied weapons from the Baghdad Police Academy armory he managed for a military contractor. But, co-workers say, he also turned the armory into his own private arms bazaar with the seeming approval of some American officials and executives, selling AK-47 assault rifles, Glock pistols and heavy machine guns to anyone with cash in hand — Iraqi militias, South African security guards and even American contractors.

Mr Al-Saffar is now in Bahrain and is blissfully unaware of any private business he’s supposed to have done in Iraq. One saucy detail:

Many of those weapons were issued when Gen. David H. Petraeus, now the top American commander in Iraq, was responsible for training and equipping Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005. General Petraeus has said that he opted to arm the Iraqi forces as quickly as possible, before tracking systems were fully in place.

Good Morning from Europe – Remembrance Day and 435 Days to Go

Remembrance Day

 “If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied.”

(Rudyard Kipling)

It’s  Remembrance Day today. Time to look at how the young men and women who are fighting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and getting maimed in the process are doing. Not too good, as it turns out not quite unexpectedly. Injured soldiers’ families are accusing the British government of hiding away the unpleasant realities. The forces fighting in Afghanistan are streched to the limit.  The British troops, still serving in Iraq are feeling the lack of interest in their plight. And, maybe worst of all, the ones sending them in harms way are incompetent or uncaring.  And, while we are remembering the fallen, the next war is in the making. Continue reading

Good Morning from Europe – 440 Days to Go

Ecomusée – Alsace – France

Is the turmoil in the financial markets a full-blown crisis already? Not everyone thinks so. “The Guardian” is convinced the real crisis is still ahead at least for British banks and, truly, nobody knows what’s still lurking in the “subprime basement”.

Pakistan is facing new protests, as the imposing of what is in fact martial law, produces further unrest. Benazir Bhutto has threatened to call for mass protests, but has not, as of now, done so, while Pakistani Police cracks down violently on protesters. The “Telegraph” sheds a light on the wisdom of Musharraf’s actions.

The Kurdish PKK is now an Enemy of the United States. For now an invasion into Iraq by Turkey has been averted. Intelligence gathered by US military will be forwarded to Turkish authorities to help them fight the PKK. 

While French President Sarkozy is looking forward to meeting with President Bush, “Le Petit Nicolas” will first have to confront the wrath of his own people. If the pictures here, are mindful of the Pakistani unrest, martial law and other serious incidents, it helps to know that the protests are about petrol prices!

The Swiss Blackwater Mercenary: In Switzerland a former Blackwater-in-Iraq employee is prosecuted for working as a mercenary, while still considered a member of Swiss active duty military personnel.

Truffles prices are up after an uncommonly hot summer in Italy, which leads to fairly uncommon criminal activity.

So, with only 440 more days of Bush Presidency to go through, have a nice day Everyone!

Europe calling – Monday


(Castelluccio, Italy)

Is war with Iran really inevitable? Yesterday’s Guardian tries to make a case for ways to avoid it, but doesn’t sound very optimistic about it really. (Impeachment proceedings against Vice-President Cheney may be the ticket to keep him focused away from Iran.)

Most headlines in Europe deal, of course, with Pakistan and Musharrafs attempt to stay in power at all costs. Journalists and lawyers are among the first to bear the brunt of the State of Emergency, while Islamists are not easily deterred and fuel the crisis. There were even rumours that Musharraf himself has been arrested by his second in command. This, however has been promptly denied. The latest developments indicate, that elections will be held in January, this seems to be mainly due to pressure from the US, who can ill afford such an outcome to their Democratization of the Middle East.

“What if Iraq hadn’t happened?” asks Tim Watkin in “The Guardian” and triggers a lively discussion. It has happened, however, so the exchange of thoughts may be considered moot by some.

The Dollar has lost 34% against the Euro since 2001, mainly due to the spending frenzy during the Bush administration. Small wonder, that celebrities like Gisele Bundchen insist on getting paid in Euros.

Banks all over the world are getting a thrashing at the stock markets for their continued gambling in the global credit casino for the last years. UBS, Barclays and Citi are among the more prominent victims of asset backed securities that turned into half-assed securities.

Despite all the woes of the world, I wish you all a good start into the week!

Good Morning from Europe – Monday, DST is finally over Edition

(San Benedetto del Tronto, Art on the Seaside)

Good Morning Everybody! Daylight Saving Time has finally seen it’s last day for the year for us and all, who are sleep deprived since it started, are rejoicing the fact.

Iraq: Yesterday the military was celebrating the successes in Iraq’s Anbar province and today, sadly, the news is back to gruesome. Ten Iraqi sheiks have been abducted, coming from a meeting with the government to discuss actions to pacify Diyala province. A suicide bombing in Baquba, Diyala province cost the lives of at least 24 police recruits. In Kirkuk and Baghdad car bombs exploded yesterday and cost six and two lives respectively. Meanwhile, the US army has handed over Karbala to the Iraqis

Some more trouble is at hand in the north of Iraq. The Kurds have categorically told Turkey, that they would not suffer an intrusion into their territory. Military action would be taken. This is not deterring Turkey from planning a crackdown on the PKK on Iraqi soil.

Meanwhile the UK has an illustrious guest. King Abdullah is on a state visit to Great Britain. While some point out the many shortcomings of the Saudi regime, the King himself started his visit by criticizing his hosts for failing to act on 7/7 intelligence. Unlike the UK, the US are in fact tackling terrorism thoroughly, indeed.

The Iran sanctions, mentioned in this blog yesterday, are not likely to have an effect, says the Washington Post. Meanwhile, an attack on the country will be more and more likely.

For Sale: Whenever we see pictures of babies and small children in refugee camps in Darfur our hearts go out for them. International aid workers are doing their best to help under dire circumstances. There are exceptions to the rule, however, and this is simply outrageous.

And finally: A First Lady turned President – fast forward that to 2008, November 4th.

A good start into to the week to everybody and take care!

Good Morning from Europe – The Sunday Papers Edition

(San Benedetto del Tronto, Art on the Seaside)

The California wildfires have finally subsided and the newspapers turn back to politics, where they find another red hot issue: Iran.

While many tabloids were busy to mourn the danger to beachfront celebrity homes, the Washington Ultras have not rested their feet. The sanctions on Iran have been stepped up, but there are doubts about their effectivity, given that the sanctions are unilateral and won’t make much of a dent in the Iranian economy. So are the sanctions a diplomatic fig leaf ? Probably, says “The Times”. There are more than enough indicators which are pointing towards military action will be taken before the Bush presidency is over. Will Bush really bomb Iran? No doubt he will, or rather Dick Cheney has decided that Bush will, says Maureen Dowd.

Is Afghanistan going downhill in a hurry? Despite claims that another 80 insurgents have been killed today, the prospects are not good at all. Things are much more complicated than people are led to believe, so who are the insurgents? 

Are we allowed to know and decide on what we eat in the future? On what will be introduced into nature without any idea of the consequences? Certainly not, it’s the corporations’ planet, not ours! It’s big business and the politicians are extremely helpful, as usual! 

Turkey has put the military option back on the table again. While the US military is celebrating it’s success in Anbar province, there is a new battlefield on the horizon. A crisis that was predictable and predicted and is, of course, a direct result of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Back to the California wildfires on a more serious note. The environmental impact of the fires is far from over. There are huge amounts of noxious particles in the air and the consequences of heavy rainfall, if it should come, on the barren landscape remains to be seen.

The battlefields at home: Is a schoolteacher entitled “to pack” in school ? Shirley Katz says yes, and goes to court for her right to carry a weapon in class. 

Trendy clothing comes for a price, a price other people’s children have to pay.

And finally: This is the kind of story fit to glue me to the news channels – Which member of the Royal Family are they talking about ?? – Bets are on, it’s our ‘Arry.


Good Morning from Europe – Back in Business Edition


Good Morning everybody! I can hardly believe the two weeks of Dolce Vita are finally over, but I am glad to be back here, too. So, let’s have a look at the news.

Switzerland: Yesterdays’ general elections brought a quite familiar result. Like in many democracies nowadays the right and left are growing while the center gradually diminishes. In Switzerland we have seen an almost unprecedented election campaign, dominated by the rightish SVP, whose maybe racist, but surely xenophobic campaign poster even caused international irritations.

Poland‘s elections put an end to the twins’ rule. There are still a lot of question on how the next government would look like, but the US administration has to brace for the loss of another 900 soldiers in their ill-fated coalition of the less and less willing. Mr Tusk is not a friend of the missile shield installations either.

No surprise actually, but the conflict on the Turkish-Iraqi border definitely starts to bring even more pressure on the US. The Kurdish People’s Army PKK is operating from Northern Iraq much to the dismay of the Turks and their Kurdish brethren in Iraq. Both Turkey and the Kurdish part of Iraq are doing business, many of the reconstruction projects in Northern Iraq are handled by Turkish companies. American calls for restraint remain unheeded. Moreover, Turkey decries the lack of support against the Kurdish separatists. This conflict may well put an end to peace in the only region in Iraq deemed relatively stable and peaceful.

And, finally, have a look at the dangers we face for our candid outspokenness 😉


Here’s why it will happen!

(picture via

Two stories in the Washington Post today highlight the lull in public outrage against the war in Iraq and the prospects of war with Iran.

The Administration in cooperation with the media are claiming successes in Iraq. The number of US and coalition casualties have gone down in September, so did the number of civilian deaths from sectarian violence, the Washington Post reports. While there is no disputing the numbers, the perspective is totally awry.

In September 64 American troops died in Iraq. This was the lowest monthly toll since July 2006, but on the whole it was one of the bloodier months for the US military.

Civilian casualties and sectarian violence are down, too. 844 civilians and 78 Iraqi police and military lost their lives in September. Sadly still a high number but a significant decrease to levels seen in 2005.

Currently there are some 168’000 US troops deployed in Iraq, a country that is every bit as volatile as it used to be with the 2005 level of 161’000 troops.

In 2005 the kind of stability was reached, that made it possible to reduce the number of soldiers deployed to about 130’000, which led to more violence, so there was the surge to pre-post-surge-levels.

Success anyone?

The only decrease measurable and undisputed is, the decrease in numbers at protest rallies.

Are there any incentives for the Bush Administration to show restraint towards Iran? 

Protests ? Not so many.

Impeachment ? Off the table.

Re-election ? Not possible.

Restraint ?

Good Morning from Europe – The Myanmar Horror

 (Via Mala, Switzerland)

Today the news is dominated by the situation in Myanmar, more and more countries protest against the brutal crack down on the protests there, but to little avail.


There is only very little information obtainable from Burma, as the military junta has closed down all internet traffic, land and mobile phone lines are down as well. There seem to be demonstrations still. However, the monks, who were leading the uprising up to now, are mostly missing from the scene. They are allegedly held in internment camps, it may well be they simply aren’t around any more. Please do not forget to visit “The Guardian’s” blog on this and the latest developments. Showing we’re interested and that there is a large international audience, are probably the only means we have, to offer our support to the Burmese people.

Japan is reeling from the pictures of the willful shooting of Mr Nagai a video journalist. The scene was captured by another camera. (The event is very upsetting, so feel free to skip this.)

Blackwater is at least partly responsible for the surge in violence in the Fallujah region 2004, says the US House of Representatives.

After the murder of Blackwater employees in Fallujah, US troops launched an offensive, which ultimately cost the lives of 36 US soldiers, 200 Iraqi insurgents and 600 Iraqi civilians. It turns out, that Blackwater disregarded warnings about the dire security situation in Fallujah, before sending in their men. While Blackwater is rightly blamed for a variety of their actions, the blame for the disastrous planning of the war, which led to the reliance on private mercenary armies, lies elsewhere.

More details as to the shooting that triggered the Blackwater Affair have come to light as well, read more here.

Have a good day and take care everybody!

Seymour Hersh – Interview with “Der Spiegel”

Seymour Hersh is a habitual teller of the truth as he sees it, which happens, habitually too, to hit the nail on the head accurately.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Where does this feeling of urgency that the US has with Iran come from?

Hersh: Pressure from the White House. That’s just their game.

Read the complete interview, here.

Good Morning from Europe


(Squirrel in Hyde Park – London)

Myanmar uprising: The Myanmar military has conducted raids on buddhist monasteries. Hundreds of monks have been arrested in an effort to curb the ongoing non violent protests. This morning, shots were fired again at protesters and riot police issued threats of more violence to participants in the demonstrations. Meanwhile, the UN Security council couldn’t find a majority to condemn the junta’s actions. China and Russia voted “Nay” to efforts to impose further sanctions on the Burmese military regime. Developments, as they unfold, can be followed here.

While some show an optimistic Al-Maliki, others rather point out the fact, that a division of Iraq in three parts is desired by the US Senate. Talk of different perspectives!

In his first meeting with President Bush, after the Blackwater Affair, Premier Maliki has discussed the affair in the context of Iraqi sovereignty issues, more specific talks on this subject will follow, when Al-Maliki meets with Condoleeza Rice.

The US led Climat Summit is not going down well with many Europeans. “Greenwashing” the climate summit is one perception of the show and some European diplomats are just as bluntly issueing their sentences. German environment minister Sigmar Gabriel is the highest ranking non US representative, however he doesn’t expect any results from the summit. So, why go there at all ?

Meanwhile, another ecological disaster is finally called thus, even by it’s own architects. China’s Three Gorges Dam, which was celebrated – despite the dire warnings of ecologists – as one of the greatest achievements in engineering and energy production, turns out to be every bit as detrimental to the environment as predicted.

Too late! The money to be made with it, has been made already!

Bushisms are not only a favourite with progressive Americans, Europeans like them, too. Or, getting explained why there weren’t any.

Europeanview wishes you all a very good day and take care!

So Much for Sovereignty

U.S. returns sovereignty to Iraq

Monday, June 28, 2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — Iraq’s interim government was sworn in Monday after the United States returned sovereignty to the nation two days ahead of schedule.

That was then, this is now:

US resumes Blackwater convoys in Iraq

Fri Sep 21, 3:23 PM ET

BAGHDAD – American convoys under the protection of Blackwater USA resumed on Friday, four days after the U.S. Embassy suspended all land travel by its diplomats and other civilian officials in response to the alleged killing of civilians by the security firm. …

A top aide to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had earlier conceded it may prove difficult for the Iraqi government to follow through on threats to expel Blackwater and other Western security contractors.

So, a sovereign government cannot remove foreign mercenaries from its soil. I’m sure this will go over well with the rest of the Muslim world…NOT.

Remember, these mercenaries cannot be prosecuted under Iraqi law. Nor can they be prosecuted under US law, thanks to the Military Commissions Act of 2006. They are beyond the law, both criminal and civil, until and unless the International Community moves forward with War Crimes Tribunals. It will likely take a decade or more for the International Community to progress to that point, if past history is any measure.

In one of the greatest ironies of world history, it turns out that Bush v. Gore has become Bush = Gore.