The current political situation in Iraq is akin to a group of people, all standing in front of a burning house, discussing the role each should play in extinguishing the fire as the house burns.
Amerli is a half-day’s drive from Mt. Sinjar where Obama decided to use the U.S. military save the Yazidi who were under attack by ISIS, surrounded, and desperate. You’d be travelling a world apart if measured in religion, leaving the relatively ancient Yazidi and heading for a Shi’ite town named Amerli.
Both have been isolated and besieged by the barely fathomable ISIS for months. The Yazidi received unequivocal support by the media and Obama. This was quickly backed up by the U.S.’s military and humanitarian machines. Amerli has gotten nothing. They are Muslim, and perhaps that shapes the lack of response.
And then there’s Mosul where the terror is more evenly distributed. Most of the remaining residents are Sunni. We spoke to a deeply depressed Shaheeda last night. She had sent a picture of a woman in black with full face-covering. Something inside us stopped us from understanding the photo.
Then we spoke to her and she explained that it is a picture of her and that’s how she dresses to go out these days, since ISIS has occupied Mosul.
N jokingly asked, in that special war-fueled way, “How does your husband know it’s you if he sees you walking with your friends in the street?” and she laughed and we could all laugh and then she quietly said, “If they see me without this then they will take my husband and beat him and maybe kill him. There is no choice here.” And then tears as the depth of the tragedy sunk in.
And the people of Mosul are mainly Muslims. And we do nothing to help.
We define and condemn ISIS by its cruelty, and we use their treatment of Muslims as proof of their inhumanity. By this reasoning we declare them as ‘other’. But we don’t use force until they attack Christians and Yazidi. As if the Muslims are worth less.
I'm just sayin'.
August 22, 2014 by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact
Posted at 05:41 PM | Permalink
As if Obama didn’t have enough complications as he unnecessarily ponders “what to do about Iraq,” ISIS has just distributed a call to take revenge, should the U.S. intervene against ISIS in Iraq, by attacking embassies around the world. The video, uploaded to jihadi sites states, "…if an American aircraft flew in Iraqi skies to strike the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham ....all the embassies of America to become legit targets."
Why ‘unnecessarily’? That’s easy. We have to do nothing in Iraq because everything we touch in Iraq turns to shit.
June 21, 2014 by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact
Posted at 12:06 AM | Permalink
Declaration of the Iraqi Coalition for Freedom of Expression
Tunisiati capital city, Tunis, was the location of an International Conference on Freedom of Expression from 28-30 May 2014. From it emerged a new Iraqi partnership — the Iraqi Coalition for Freedom of Expression — that will focus on raising awareness about and taking action on issues related to the freedom of expression.
The Iraqi Coalition for Freedom of Expression has a flexible, horizontal and open structure in which all members are equal in both their duties and responsibilities. The Coalition is one of a new generation of regional and international coalitions that takes into account the evolving nature of the freedom of expression and the many forms that the exercise of this freedom may take. Specifically, it includes traditional aspects of the freedom of expression as well as the right to access information through long-established means and online.
The Coalition adopted the following eight-point agenda:
An invitation to join the Coalition is open to all organizations operating in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. The Coalition will work actively to strengthen and protect the freedom of expression.
Tunis June 2014
Members of the Coalition:
Press Freedom Advocacy Association - Baghdad
Al-Masala Organization - Erbil
Iraq's National Association for the Defense of Human Rights - Baghdad
Iraqi Network for Social Media (INSM) - Iraq
Azidi Solidarity and Fraternity League
Hawlati Newspaper - Sulaymaniyah
National Union of Iraqi Journalists - Iraq
Iraqi Women Journalists Forum
Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI) - Iraqi / International
Iraqi Democratic Future Network
For more information, please contact members of this Coalition or email the ICSSI [Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative] at: firstname.lastname@example.org
شهدت العاصمة تونس على هامش المؤتمر الدولي لحرية التعبير الذي عقد على مدار الايام 28،29،30 من شهر ايار 2014 ، ولادة تحالف عراقي متخصص في قضايا حرية التعبير اتخذ مسمى : التحالف العراقي لحرية التعبير .
يتبنى التحالف العراقي لحرية التعبير طابعاً مرناً ومفتوحاً وأفقيا، يتساوى فيه الاعضاء في الواجبات والمسؤوليات.
ينتمي التحالف لجيل جديد من التحالفات الاقليمية والدولية والتي تأخذ في الاعتبار تطور مفهوم حرية التعبير وتعدد الوسائل المتاحة لممارسة هذه الحرية، ويغطي حرية التعبير وحرية الوصول الى المعلومة في الوسائل التقليدية وعلى الانترنت، ويتبنى المواقف التالية:-
1- على البرلمان العراقي والحكومة العراقية تعليق قراءة ومناقشة كل القوانين التي تتعلق بحرية التعبير والحصول على المعلومة ومن ضمنها مسودة قانون جرائم المعلوماتية و ذلك لان النسخ المتداولة لا ترتقي الى المعايير الدولية، ولا الى روح النص الدستوري الخاص بالحريات ولان المرحلة تتطلب تحسين وضع حرية التعبير وليس العكس.
2- مطالبة السلطات المعنية بإتاحة نسخ من مشاريع القوانين المتعلقة بحرية التعبير للجمهور العراقي وفسح المجال للمنظمات المتخصصة في حرية التعبير للمشاركة الفاعلة في نقاش القوانين والآليات والأنظمة ذات الصلة. وذلك قبل طرحها للقراءة في البرلمان.
3- مطالبة السلطات العراقية وسلطات اقليم كوردستان، بتحمل مسؤولياتها بتوفير حماية للصحفيين والإعلاميين والمدافعين عن حقوق الانسان والمدونين، بتوفير بيئة امنة وملائمة لهم تمكنهم من اداء واجبهم باستقلال كامل.
4- مطالبة السلطات العراقية وسلطات اقليم كوردستان، معالجة ظاهرة الافلات من العقاب بملاحقة الجهات التي ارتكبت انتهاكات وجرائم ضد الصحفيين العراقيين والمدافعين عن حقوق الانسان والمدونين خلال السنوات الماضية، سواء كانت هذه الجهات حكومية او غير حكومية.
5- مطالبة الحكومة العراقية بتبني مشروع التعديل الاول على قانون حقوق الصحفيين والذي اعتمده التحالف الجديد ، وطرحه على البرلمان العراقي للنقاش.
6- مطالبة السلطات العراقية وسلطات اقليم كوردستان والمؤسسات الاعلامية كافة، بمكافحة ظاهرة المضايقات والتمييز التي تتعرض لها النساء الاعلاميات.
7- مطالبة المجتمع الدولي بطرح قضية حرية التعبير وحماية الصحفيين والإعلاميين والمدافعين عن حقوق الانسان والمدونين في الاستعراض الدوري الشامل (UPR) لملف العراق في مجال حقوق الانسان والمتوقع انعقاده في جنيف – تشرين الثاني من العام 2014.
8- مطالبة برلمان كوردستان بتعديل قانون حرية التظاهر في اقليم كوردستان بما يتوافق مع المعايير الدولية ومطالبة حكومة الأقليم بتفعيل قانون حق الحصول على المعلومة، الذي شرَع في حزيران من عام 2013.
والدعوة مفتوحة للمنظمات العاملة في العراق وأقليم وكوردستان للانضمام لهذا التحالف وتدعيم اعماله كمشروع لحماية حرية التعبير.
تونس حزيران 2014
اعضاء التحالف :
جمعية الدفاع عن حرية الصحافة – بغداد
منظمة المسلة – اربيل
الجمعية الوطنية للدفاع عن حقوق الانسان في العراق – بغداد
الشبكة العراقية للإعلام المجتمعي – أنسم للتدوين –العراق
رابطة التاخي والتضامن الازيدية
صحيفة هاولاتي –السليمانية ،
النقابة الوطنية للصحفيين العراقيين – العراق
منتدى الاعلاميات العراقيات
مبادرة التضامن مع المجتمع المدني العراقي (ICSSI) – عراقية/دولية
شبكة المستقبل الديمقراطية العراقية
التحالف مستعد للعمل مع الجهات المعنية و على كل النقاط الواردة في هذا الاعلان.
لمعلومات اكثر يمكنكم الاتصال بأحد اعضاء التحالف ، او بالكتابة الى المبادرة على البريد التالي Icssi.email@example.com
Visit Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative - مبادرة تضامن المجتمع at: http://icssi08.ning.com/?xg_source=msg_mes_network
Posted at 09:00 AM | Permalink
This my mother told me on the phone in 2 days [ago]. A neighbor, In front of their houses, like they did it a lot of times. They took one person, they brought 3 of his sons, and the one of them. And that one (the father) he begged them not to kill the the 4th son. And they brought him, because he was not there at that time, and in front of the father he-they executed him. And then they left that house. As you know, they come and took them and they killed them. And she asked who can do this? And she was crying and everybody was crying for them. Because the election you know, because the election. You cannot imagine what’s going on. The last one hid under the bed. And then they found him. They start shooting him in front of their houses. And they did it a lot of times. And they took him and the dad was begging them, “Please, please, shoot me not him.”
And my mother said the Police, any organization, they cannot do anything. She was crying. She told me a lot of stories but I cannot summarize all of them. She calls me to tell me these stories. She thinks that someone here can do something.
Eve they took the females, you know. What they are doing now…they take the female to oblige the male to come because now they are looking for all males so they are looking for somewhere to hide. So they took the females to oblige the males to come and then they kill them in front of their kids and their women. They took the females from their houses and put them in the jail so they would get the males to come. The rape them.
The Sunnis are being attacked, because what they like…here in the news only the Sunni places. You know why? Because now there is an army belongs to Maliki and all of them Shia and they attack Sunni people. The army called…she mentioned many names…that one called…Suat, the name of the army belongs to the Maliki. And they work for him. So of course they attack Sunni people.
You know, actually, there is no war, there is nothing between Sunna and Shia. Sunna people like, in general, but when you get higher to political things they fight, and they create these fight. You know…because we live for long, long ages…my neighbor in front of me, Shia, and our neighbor were Shia. And when some people came to attack that Shia, Sunna people came to protect that family. Yeah, we kept him because he lived with us. And they are big families and we live all of them in one house and we protect them. The neighbor is like one of the family, and even I had my sister’s brother in law, he was working as a policeman, he is Shia. There was no aggression between.
Actually, before the war [with the US] we didn’t even know if we were Sunni or Shia. Wa’allah I swear for that. We didn’t know. For me I didn’t know, wa’allah, I didn’t know who we belonged to. When I was little me and siblings, we were 5 siblings, we went to a Christian school where all, like most of the teachers were Jewish. We didn’t find like any differences.
But all these things, they were created right after the war.
Now the problem is my mom asking me “Will you find anyone to help. We need some, like help. Not for me because I am old.” She means like for other families. There are now 3 or 5 million orphans.
“Thank you for hearing me.” And tears. And the interview ends.
April 4, 2014. Raw interview notes by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact
Posted at 09:53 AM | Permalink
Perhaps they are striving to brag about their inclusivity. The emergence of the Southern Iraq division of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marks an expansion of operations. AQ can now be said to be attacking Shia and well as Sunna on a more equal footing. The only section of Iraq so far immune to most (though not all) AQ attacks is the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan.
It’s hardly acceptable any more to answer “I don’t know” to “Who was responsible for that bombing?” Even guessing that it was AQ stands a good chance of being correct. A recent (ISIL) publication detailed 7,681 attacks from November 2012 to November 2013. That almost doubles 2012 figures. And now they are bragging about the increasing number of foreign killers who died in suicide attacks, posting their pictures and listing their home countries.
And let’s not lose sight of the families and friends directly affected by these attacks. A level of dissociation in the general Iraqi populace allows media to show pictures of families picnicking in sunny parks. Behind the laughter is the deep fear and knowledge that precious life can end at any moment. It’s not Zen. It’s the constant paranoia of prolonged trauma.
We can only hope that our past failed endeavors to ‘free’ people and spread Democracy will influence foreign policy and rein in our militaristic approach to peace.
April 9, 2014 by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact
Posted at 03:16 PM | Permalink
Modern terrorism: it’s about friends, schoolmates, and hanging out. True. But there’s more: emergent sacred values, the ubiquity of the internet, the new globalism of everything are forming a uniquely modern soil for terrorist growth.
The social agglomerations that build small-group action oriented entities like bowling leagues, drug gangs, and neighborhood watch groups are no longer localized. The internet can tie people together who have never met face-to-face. Hackers, environmental activists, civil society workers, and a game faddists are not the only groups using the web to build relationships. Terrorists are also within this space, and use it in the same way. The new internet enabled, globalized religions generate polarities we haven’t seen before. Cut loose from traditional moorings to Koran and Bible, Vedas and all similar trappings of the past, the emergent ‘faiths’ are based on sacred values that rely less on historical underpinnings and more on just-born and born-again visions.
One the one hand we have the unifying discourses of environment, religion, and politics that see the world as one large mass and on the other we see the fragmentation of extremist political, religious, and secular ideas into action oriented splinters that operationally are independent, even when adhering to larger shared ideologies. Within this lies the foundation of modern extremism, terrorism, and the apocalyptic vision they carry. The ‘Cooperatists’ see the alternative to working together as an apocalyptic end time that can only be avoided by taking action now to avert certain disaster later. The ‘dissolutionists’ see the apocalypse as the goal and work to disintegrate and destroy existing structures in order to hasten the end.
The tools of social science are beginning to open understanding of participants of modern terrorism and the paths they take to become part of the new apocalyptic movements. In depth interviews of terrorists, their families and friends, and the people in their local and global network March 12, 2014 s have revealed mechanisms that act outside of the clichéd notions of al-Qaeda recruitment. This may avail us of tools to help mitigate the danger they present. Boredom and lack of self-purpose seem to play a big role. With further analysis alternative paths may make themselves known to us so that we can intelligently support policies and programs that work toward more peaceful tomorrows.
An important first step would be to admit that current policies are not effective, and in fact are backfiring in that they cause more terrorism than they prevent. A second step will be made when we actually base our understanding of terrorists on scientifically based information about them, and not on the misinformation that currently guides policy makers.
The recent work of social scientists and their valuable field work should be incorporated at the highest levels of government to ensure a realistic approach to the problem.
How can policy makers be moved to embrace the need for more field-based social research?
March 12, 2014 by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact
Posted at 11:30 AM | Permalink
9/11 and Historical Memory
The Center on Terrorism of John Jay College in NYC is hosting a special panel on March 21 to discuss the ways in which 9/11 will be remembered.
The presenters include Elizabeth Greenspan of Harvard and Scott Knowles of Drexel University. Charles B. Strozier, Founding Director of the Center will host.
The dominant 'family member' voices are decidedly conservative. The loudest voices are extremists who run the gamut from "let's just bomb the hell out of THEM" to "It was a government plot to stir up hate against <insert Muslims/Jews/whatever>".
We owe it to those directly affected by 9/11 to incorporate our side of the story within the historical narrative. We owe a striving for the truth to be part of the story.
What are the truths about 9/11 that you feel should be part of the history?
How would you put it? What needs to be incorporated into the history of 9/11 in order to help the world toward more peaceful tomorrows?
March 5, 2014 by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact
Posted at 09:44 AM | Permalink
It’s all about friends, schoolmates, and hanging out. And the way to find out is to talk—to the people who are doing it, to their friends, teammates, teachers, family…That’s a great oversimplification but it captures the essence of what Atran is talking about in Talking to the Enemy: Religion, Brotherhood, and the (Un)Making of Terrorists,2010, HarperCollins. We think he’s on to something; something our government and, therefore all of us, would benefit from listening to.
The escalator of radicalization within groups is well documented in heavily anecdotal tracts by such as Atran, Wright, Strozier, and others. Group influence on perception, logic, and cognition is also supported by experimental and statistical results. Within these academic forays into understanding probably lie the keys to mitigating the actions and effects of violent extremism, including terrorism of all stripes, whether nationalistic religious, or anything between.
What is not supported by scientific research is the ability of profiling and the militarization of anti-terror campaigns to significantly aid in the suppression and reduction of terrorism and its effects.
Atran thoroughly describes the social, familial, religious, and other networks that bound a couple of terrorist groups together. Although we are only half-way through the book one gets the feeling that he will posit non-violent methods for disrupting such networks.
Sean F. Everton’s social networks analysis looks at terrorism in much the same way, and maintains that understanding the network can be effective in designing ways to significantly disrupt it that go beyond the relatively ineffective ‘off with their heads’ mentality. A Google search of ‘terror networks analysis’ shows the field to be quite active and switching to ‘Images’ reveals some very interesting graphs, diagrams, and relationship models.
These theories are not without adherents and tools are being developed to take advantage of network information in pursuit of criminals and terrorists. It’s not just for identifying marketing targets for I-phone apps. Relavint™ promises you’ll be able to “effortlessly see connections between individuals and their associates that are otherwise easy to miss.” START's Global Terrorism Database is modelling connections of individuals and groups. The failed NSA ‘collect every connection’ system was a step in this direction, although it has so far been unable to prove its value to the public.
The U.S. Department of State’s National Strategy for Combatting Terrorism makes no mention of network analysis directed in this manner, neither are calls for intense fieldwork among terrorist related populations.
If identifying networks and relationships is so important than why is the NSA’s ‘collect everything’ so impotent?
How can we use social network theory to degrade terrorist networks? What other components are needed?
March 3, 2104 by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact
Posted at 10:50 PM | Permalink