The Daily Iraq: 31 July 2013

Iraq Body Count figures for July 30: 50 killed

IBC total to-date for July, 2013: 941 civilians killed

The AP reports 26 more dead today in several shootings (the deadliest in two Shi’i neighborhoods in Baghdad and in Mosul), but they’re not quite getting the story correct:

Attacks including bombings of Shiite and Sunni mosques left 26 dead in Iraq, the latest in a surge of bloodshed that is raising fears of a return to widespread sectarian killings, officials said Wednesday.

Most attacks on Shiites are presumed to be carried out by the country’s branch of al-Qaida, which claimed credit on Tuesday for a wave of bombings the day before that killed at least 58 people. It said the attacks were carried out on behalf of “oppressed Sunnis,” suggesting the group is trying to capitalize on Sunnis’ complaints of being treated as second-class citizens by the Shiite-dominated government.

The attacks on Shi’i targets are being carried out by Iraq’s al-Qaeda branch, but so are the attacks against Sunni targets. The one attack on a Sunni Arab target today was a shooting on a checkpoint manned by Sahwa, a Sunni militia that opposes al-Qaeda. It’s all part of the same destabilization campaign by AQI (or ISIS if you prefer). If and when this conflict becomes sectarian, it will probably be be immediately clear and very devastating.

Meanwhile, back in the country that broke Iraq in the first place, we have Kenneth Pollack (via), comrade in (sending other people off to bear) arms to friend of the blog Michael O’Hanlon, who has been Thinking some Big Thoughts about how to Fix Iraq. This ought to be good. Continue reading

The World’s Only Remaining Stuporpower

There was a piece in the Guardian over the weekend by John Naughton that has really generated some buzz, and rightly so. He’s pushing the media to cover the Snowden leaks for what they say about the internet, rather than “OMG WHERE IS SNOWDEN NOW?” or “OMG GLENN GREENWALD IS A TRAITOR,” which since it focuses on substance rather than flash is probably not going to happen. Still, his conclusion is incredibly important:

As an antidote, here are some of the things we should be thinking about as a result of what we have learned so far.

The first is that the days of the internet as a truly global network are numbered. It was always a possibility that the system would eventually be Balkanised, ie divided into a number of geographical or jurisdiction-determined subnets as societies such as China, Russia, Iran and other Islamic states decided that they needed to control how their citizens communicated. Now, Balkanisation is a certainty.

Second, the issue of internet governance is about to become very contentious. Given what we now know about how the US and its satraps have been abusing their privileged position in the global infrastructure, the idea that the western powers can be allowed to continue to control it has become untenable.

Third, as Evgeny Morozov has pointed out, the Obama administration’s “internet freedom agenda” has been exposed as patronising cant. “Today,” he writes, “the rhetoric of the ‘internet freedom agenda’ looks as trustworthy as George Bush’s ‘freedom agenda’ after Abu Ghraib.”

That’s all at nation-state level. But the Snowden revelations also have implications for you and me.

They tell us, for example, that no US-based internet company can be trusted to protect our privacy or data. The fact is that Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft are all integral components of the US cyber-surveillance system. Nothing, but nothing, that is stored in their “cloud” services can be guaranteed to be safe from surveillance or from illicit downloading by employees of the consultancies employed by the NSA. That means that if you’re thinking of outsourcing your troublesome IT operations to, say, Google or Microsoft, then think again.

With today’s revelation by Snowden/Greenwald about an NSA program called XKeyscore that supposedly “allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals,” Prof. Naughton’s piece looks even more significant.

James Fallows goes further and places the massive data dragnet among the many extreme overreactions that this country has had to 9/11: Continue reading

The Daily Iraq: 30 July 2013

Iraq Body Count figures for July 29: 60 killed

IBC total to-date for July, 2013: 891 civilians killed

22 more reported killed today:

On Tuesday, gunmen killed three police and wounded two in an attack on a checkpoint south of Baghdad, while bombings in Kirkuk province, north of the capital, killed a policeman and a civilian, and wounded four people.

And gunmen killed three more policemen in the northern city of Mosul.

Security forces are frequently targeted by militants opposed to the government.

A bomb also exploded at a Sunni mosque in Tuz Khurmatu, north of Baghdad, killing three people and wounding 15.

Both Sunni and Shiite places of worship have been attacked in recent months, raising fears of renewed sectarian conflict.

And bombings in Baghdad province killed seven people and wounded 19, while a bomb in a cafe in Baquba, north of the capital, killed four people and wounded 16.

More news about Monday’s series of bombings, and the state of things in general, below. Continue reading

Changes

Made a couple of changes to this place. I’m putting a lot more effort into blogging than I thought I might when I started this as a lark many months ago, so I’m trying to reflect that. The URL is now attwiw.wordpress.com, although fasteddie9318.wordpress.com should redirect, and I’ve magically transformed to DWD. It’s still me, and the quality of the writing and the jokes hasn’t changed, which I guess could be fortunate or unfortunate depending on your perspective.

(Muslim) Brothers Gonna Work It Out (OK, probably not): Part I

It hasn’t been a peaceful few months in North Africa. Most everybody (right?) knows what’s been happening in Egypt, where an already difficult situation may have become unfixable early Saturday when police killed at least 72 (this is the official figure; the actual number is likely much higher) protesters while trying to contain/repress/massacre a rally in support of deposed former president Mohamed Morsi. In Libya, a political activist named Abd al-Salam al-Mismari was murdered Friday while leaving a mosque in Benghazi, and crowds of protesters gathered to storm the political offices of the religious parties he opposed, who are suspected in his killing. In Tunisia, a leftist politician who opposed that country’s ruling Ennahda Party, Chokri Belaid, was assassinated in February, and another figure in the leftist/secular opposition, Mohamed Brahmi, was assassinated on Thursday, and in case you’re the type who does believe in coincidences, it turns out they were both shot with the same gun.

Obviously there are a lot of similarities between the current circumstances in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. All three countries were impacted by the Arab Spring, which actually started in Tunisia, and in all three cases long-serving and repressive dictators were toppled by popular uprisings. But what ties these recent events together in particular is the involvement, on some level, of the Muslim Brotherhood. Indeed, one of the big early winners of political upheaval in the Arab world was the international Society of Muslim Brothers (Jama’ah al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin), with the organization’s political party fronts winning elections in Tunisia and Egypt, and coming in second in elections in Libya. Also too they’re apparently in charge of US Amercia now, on account of Obama secret Muslim ooga booga Kenya or whatever (you can read all about it at the Daily Caller, but I ain’t linking to it, sorry). But the Brotherhood’s success in winning elections has not led to success in governance, and the popular demonstrations that ousted Morsi’s government in Egypt may only be the start of the Brotherhood’s problems. But, hey, who are these guys, anyway? Let’s take a look. Continue reading

The Daily Iraq: 29 July 2013

Iraq Body Count figures for July 28: 12 killed

IBC total to-date for July, 2013: 831 civilians killed

In what Al Jazeera, Reuters, and Foreign Policy each described as a “wave of car bombs,” at least 17 separate attacks killed at least 60 Iraqis. Reuters:

The 17 blasts, which appeared to be coordinated, were concentrated on towns and cities in Iraq’s mainly Shi’ite south, and districts of the capital where Shi’ites live.

The worst of the attacks was a bus station bombing in the southeastern city of Kut that killed 10. Four were killed in Mahmudiyah, just south of Baghdad, two more in two bombs in Samawa. The remainder of the attacks struck Shi’a neighborhoods in Baghdad. Continue reading

This Week in Oppressive Government Violence: July 28, 2013

Egypt: The obvious top story this week was the horrific massacre of pro-Morsi protesters by Egyptian security forces early Saturday. At least 72, and probably many more, protesters were killed in the fighting, which seems to have begun when protesters attempted to block a major Cairene bridge, so naturally security forces did the reasonable thing and starting firing live ammunition into the crowd, apparently aiming for the head and chest. This was only the culmination of a week of clashes and casualties, including at least five killed in Alexandria, with witnesses claiming that snipers were seen targeting protesters. New VP Mohamed ElBaradei “strongly condemned the ‘excessive use of force'” by the security forces. Which is nice.

Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, Peru, Bulgaria, and the good old US of A, after the break. Continue reading