Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Occupation: Raids, Refugees and US Military Bases

As we approach the five year mark of the invasion and occupation of March 2003, the scale of the crisis in Iraq has been obscured. Here are some resources that shed light on what is really happening. Nir Rosen travels to Iraq to examine the new policy of arming new Iraqi militias to support the additional 30,000 US troops last year.

Patrick Cockburn exposes the myth that US military strength will bring stability to Iraq by detailing the experience of one young man who desperately tries to find safety and hope outside of Iraq’s borders.

Included from our colleagues at the Friends Committee on National Legislation is a new map of US military bases in Iraq that asks if US policy is military domination or regional cooperation?

These US military bases that form the backbone of the US military occupation.

The Myth of the Surge (Nir Rosen)
Rolling Stone Magazine, March 2008

Hoping to turn enemies into allies, U.S. forces are arming Iraqis who fought with the insurgents. But it's already starting to backfire. A report from the front lines of the new Iraq

"…Raids by U.S. forces have become part of the daily routine in Iraq, a systematic form of violence imposed on an entire nation. A foreign military occupation is, by its very nature, a terrifying and brutal thing, and even the most innocuous American patrols inevitably involve terrorizing innocent Iraqi civilians. Every man in a market is rounded up and searched at gunpoint. Soldiers, their faces barely visible behind helmets and goggles, burst into a home late at night, rip the place apart looking for weapons, blindfold and handcuff the men as the children look on, whimpering and traumatized. U.S. soldiers are the only law in Iraq, and you are at their whim. Raids like this one are scenes in a long-running drama, and by now everyone knows their part by heart. "I bet there's an Iraqi rap song about being arrested by us," an American soldier jokes to me at one point."

Is the US Really Bringing Stability to Baghdad (Patrick Cockburn)
15 February 2008, The Independent

"…any true assessment of the happiness or misery of Iraqis must use a less crude index than the number of dead and injured. It must ask if people have been driven from their houses, and if they can return. It must say whether they have a job and, if they do not, whether they stand a chance of getting one. It has to explain why so few of the 3.2 million people who are refugees in Syria and Jordan, or inside Iraq, are coming back."

How long will U.S. military bases remain in Iraq?
Friends Committee on National Legislation (25 February 2008)

March 19, 2008 marks the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. For years, the president has insisted the U.S. has no plan to build permanent military bases in Iraq.

Yet the United States has

• built enormous military bases in Iraq, one of which includes a 15-square-mile mini-city;
• begun negotiating a long-term, South Korea-style agreement with Iraq that would allow for a decades- long military presence;
• declared the U.S. military presence will probably last "through several presidencies"; and
• notified Congress that the Bush Administration will ignore a law approved overwhelmingly by both chambers of Congress that bans the U.S. from building permanent military bases in Iraq.

Military domination or regional cooperation?
Talk of a long-term U.S. military presence in Iraq is undermining prospects for a political settlement in Iraq and a regional security accord with Iraq’s neighbors. If the U.S. seeks to dominate the region from bases in Iraq, Iraqi insurgents will see new cause to attack U.S. forces, and neighboring states will see no reason to cooperate with the U.S. to end the violence.

Urge Congress to support legislation that would bar the U.S. from building permanent bases in Iraq and require Congressional approval to maintain a long-term U.S. military presence in Iraq. Find out more at www.fcnl.org.

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