A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘iraq

[LINK] “Trump’s Ban Undermines Iraqi Cooperation Against Islamic State”

Meghan L O’Sullivan writes for Bloomberg View about how the ban on Iraqis’ entry specifically, by demonstrating a lack of American trust, undermines the US-Iraqi relationship more generally.

There are many good reasons to object to the Trump administration’s new ban on allowing people from seven predominantly Muslim Middle East countries to travel to the U.S. and halting the acceptance of Syrian refugees. I am among the many Americans ashamed that our great country could so easily push aside its history of caring for people with the most desperate needs in the world. I also am among the national security analysts who don’t see how this helps deliver on the promise of protecting the U.S. from terrorism, and worry that they will inflame the resentment and anti-Americanism that fuel attacks against our citizens at home and abroad.

But, most tangibly and practically, I am among the millions of Americans who served as soldiers, diplomats or humanitarian workers in Iraq or Afghanistan, and therefore have insights into how the immigration ban has made Defense Secretary James Mattis’s job of devising a plan to eradicate Islamic State a whole lot more difficult.

On Saturday, Trump issued a national security memo giving Mattis and the Pentagon 30 days to “develop a comprehensive plan to defeat ISIS.” Yet the immigration ban seriously complicates that task by jeopardizing the cooperation of Iraqis. Iraqis are among the most important partners we have in fighting the Islamic State. While the U.S. and its allies are providing critical air, intelligence and logistical support in northern Iraq, it is Iraqi forces — both Arab and Kurd — that are pushing Islamic State out of Mosul, the nation’s second-largest city.

As evidenced by Mattis’s efforts to get exceptions to the immigration ban for Iraqis who worked alongside American forces, we rely heavily on Iraqis willing to risk their lives, and those of their families, to work with us. Such cooperation has cost many Iraqi lives. Signaling that we may need them while we are operating in Iraq, but see them as a security threat in the U.S., will have an immediate chilling effect. This distrust will not be limited to those Iraqis who want to become U.S. residents or citizens, but will permeate all of our relationships there.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 1, 2017 at 5:45 pm

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

  • The Boston Globe‘s The Big Picture shares photos of Spain’s Pueblos Blancos of Andalusia.
  • blogTO reports on Toronto’s biggest pumpkin parade.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly talks about the immigrant’s dilemma on election date.
  • Dangerous Minds notes the importance of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s concert for Hillary.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a report on hot Jupiter Kelt-17b.
  • The Dragon’s Tales suggests Sputnik Planitia may dominate Pluto.
  • Far Outliers talks about Cherokee language revitalization movements.
  • Language Log looks at a Korean tradition of satirical poetry in Korea and classical Chinese.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a fascinating book about manuscripts.
  • The NYRB Daily talks about Trump as a consequence of the Iraq War.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw notes the recent discovery of evidence for ancient habitation in Australia.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes the advance of plans for a lunar-orbit space station.
  • Peter Rukavina shares headlines in the Guardian of a century ago on Romania’s entry into the First World War.
  • Torontoist annotates the SmartTrack report.
  • Towleroad shares Robyn’s new track, “Trust Me.”
  • Understanding Society celebrates its 9th anniversary.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on Russia’s escalating HIV/AIDS epidemic.

[URBAN NOTE] “Basra, Dystopian City”

Middle East Online hosts Peter Harling’s article, originally published in Le Monde diplomatique, about the decline of Iraq’s Basra.

Basra, the second or third largest city in Iraq, should be a great metropolis, more dynamic than Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha or Kuwait City, and should dominate the Gulf. Its port, Umm Qasr, offers the rest of the world access to one of the biggest oil-producing countries, which is also a huge potential consumer market. Hydrocarbons are abundant in the area, and the deposits are cheap to exploit, giving substantial profit margins no matter how much the price of oil varies.

Not so long ago, Basra was known for its cosmopolitan society, intellectual elite and skilled workforce — a real city that should have become a manufacturing power and a platform for regional trade. Its fertile hinterland is suited to rice and dates, for which it was once famed. Yet now, when you arrive at the airport, the first thing you see is a banner reading ‘Basra: Investment Paradise’ and all you can do is laugh, and despair.

Basra feels like a third-world dystopia. The state is almost absent, except as a governorate, which complains that it has not had a budget since 2013. Week after week, it is surrounded by demonstrators who never stop protesting, though they don’t attract much popular support. The spread of sectarian militias has almost eclipsed the presence of the official security forces. The foreign oil companies are also invisible: At best, they recruit manual labour locally, when some tribe or other resorts to violence to ensure that it receives a share of the oil money.

The economy is shifting rapidly from dependence on sectors that are already fairly doubtful — such as public funding (when salaries are actually paid and projects financed) and consumption of imported goods (especially cars) — towards the morbid reality of endemic corruption and trafficking in hydrocarbons and drugs. Meanwhile a continuing demographic explosion has led to uncontrolled urban development.

Basra is the exact opposite of a city-state — that ancient model of autonomous, resource-rich cities that seems to reappear when the nation-state disintegrates. Those who make the law here are outsiders. The governorate is subordinate to a hyper-centralised system: Even trivial decisions are taken in Baghdad, where Basra has few to speak for it — just one minister out of 30 and 9% of seats in parliament. The local political class represents non-indigenous parties and militias, which have a parasitic relationship to the city.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 9, 2016 at 6:30 pm

[NEWS] Some Monday links

  • Bloomberg looks at the Vietnamese government’s response to a mass fish death, examines political instability in Iraq, notes a potentially problematic nuclear plant in the United Kingdom, and studies an illegal amber rush in western Ukraine.
  • CBC looks at the recent New Brunswick ruling on interprovincial alcohol shipments, notes an auction of Prince’s blazer from Purple Rain, suggests that a Facebook rant by a man convicted of neglecting the health of his son may not help him in sentencing, and looks at the retirement of Pierre Karl Péladeau as head of the Parti Québécois.
  • The Inter Press Service notes African support for West Papuan freedom.
  • MacLean’s looks at the Island’s preparation for Mike Duffy’s return to the Senate, notes Karla Homolka’s children will have to deal with their mother’s past crimes, and reacts to the new Drake album.
  • National Geographic interviews the author of a new book on abandoned cities.
  • NPR notes how Somali-British poet Warsan Shane has become a star thanks to Beyoncé.
  • Universe Today notes Russia’s first launch from its Far Eastern Vostochny cosmodrone and reports on the identification of an extragalactic neutrino source.

[NEWS] Some Tuesday links

  • Africa is a Country looks at how Ethiopians interpret the 1966 visit of Haile Selassie to Jamaica.
  • The Building Blog depicts how a California town is literally being visibly distorted by seismic forces.
  • Bloomberg considers the import of Beyoncé’s debut of Lemonade on Tidal.
  • Bloomberg View notes how the China-Venezuela money-for-oil pact is failing and looks at the risks of being a Russian media mogul.
  • The Globe and Mail looks at the very high cost of internet in Nunavut.
  • MacLean’s looks at the Iran-Iraq War and examines Beyoncé’s Lemonade.
  • Universe Today notes how spaceflight apparently acts to accelerate aging.
  • Wired notes how much of Venezuela’s electricity shortage is the consequence of booming consumption in the good years.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • blogTO notes the refusal of Bombardier to explain to the TTC, even in the context of an impending lawsuit, why streetcar production is so delayed.
  • At the Broadside Blog, Caitlin Kelly recommends the movie Spotlight for its insights into the importance of journalism.
  • Crooked Timber considers protests at Princeton about racial representation.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting possibilities for direct imaging of the Alpha Centauri system.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes plans to close down the last coal-powered power plant in Britain.
  • Far Outliers looks at Russian and German encounters with Papuans in the late 19th century.
  • Language Hat starts a discussion on marginalized languages.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the defense of the mayor of Roanoke that his defense of the Japanese-American internment was not racist.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the importance of the Iran-Iraq War in the Middle East’s downward spiral.
  • pollotenchegg notes language use in Ukraine.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes how the Kirchner governments in Argentina subsidized energy companies.
  • Torontoist notes a Bloordale artist’s efforts to start a fact box in her neighbourhood.
  • Towleroad notes the belated recognition of a trans widow’s marriage.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the complications of the cut-off of electricity supply from Ukraine to Crimea.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alexander Harrowell is critical of certain plans for devolution that risk creating party fiefdoms.

[LINK] “Why Iraqi women are turning to the Internet to buy books”

Al Monitor‘s Omar Al-Jaffal writes about how book markets and their female buyers have adapted to the trying situations in Iraq. On the one hand, it’s great that books can achieve their liberatory potential anywhere, and that markets have adapted to even the trying conditions in Iraq. On the other, it’s a terrible shame that this adaptation was necessary.

The deteriorating security situation in the Iraqi capital has prevented Noor Jamal Abdul Hamid from going to Mutanabbi Street to shop for books and stationery. Abdul Hamid is a young woman who found herself crippled by risky roads and social restrictions that prevent her from leaving her house. Despite all this, she manages to read plenty of books and hosts discussions of what she reads over Twitter.

Abdul Hamid, who was born in Baghdad in 1991, is a graduate of Alrafidain College. She is currently unemployed and reads to pass the time. In order to understand what is going on in her society and the mysterious Iraqi political life, she opted for “finding the truth in books,” as she told Al-Monitor, and so created her own library.

But how did she manage to collect 300 books, including novels, poetry and philosophy, when she had no access to a bookstore? “I found a bookstore on Facebook that delivers books to my doorstep,” she said.

This trend has emerged as a result of the security situation, giving housebound women access to books, and has also created a successful venue of commerce.

Abdul Hamid taught her friend Saja Imad how to order books over the phone or through Facebook, and Saja began to collect a set of books of her own.

“Reading is fun. It is like you are talking to someone else in another world,” Imad told Al-Monitor. She offered the following advice: “Whenever you feel like talking to someone, do not hesitate to grab a book and read.”

Written by Randy McDonald

November 9, 2015 at 6:44 pm