“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Saddam Protected the Christians in Iraq. How is Maliki Doing?

This is a photo of Iraqi Christians seting up tents in a football stadium in Burtulla yesterday. They had to flee for their lives to escape a campaign against Christians by Islamic extremists in Mosul. Remember Mosul? But that is only a part of the story. Under Saddam there were 1,000,000 Iraqi Christians.

After seven years the number is down to 250,000. There is not one, repeat, not one Christian nation where Muslims are discriminated against or terrorized. It seems that the democracy crusade may have fallen a little short of the mark.


Police pour into Mosul to protect Christians from sectarian killings

"One of the world's oldest Christian communities is being forced to flee the Iraqi city in their thousands
." writes Patrick Cockburn

Monday, 13 October 2008
The Independent

The Iraqi government was yesterday rushing 1,000 police to Mosul to try to stop a murderous campaign against Christians which has forced thousands to flee the northern city.

Officials say about 4,000 people have taken flight in the past week to escape the killings being carried out by Islamic extremists intent on wiping out one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. "The violence is the fiercest campaign against the Christians since 2003," said the provincial governor of Mosul, Duraid Kashmula. "Among those killed over the last 11 days were a doctor, an engineer and a handicapped person." At least three houses belonging to Christians were blown up in the Sukkar district of Mosul, regarded as a bastion of al-Qa'ida in Iraq, on Saturday night.

Since 28 September, at least 11 Christians have been killed in the mostly Sunni Muslim city that lies on the river Tigris some 200 miles north of Baghdad. Most of the refugees fleeing the violence are moving to Christian villages, schools and monasteries elsewhere in the Nineveh province.

"We left everything behind us. We took only our souls," said Ni'ma Noail, a middle-aged Christian civil servant, who has taken refuge with his three children in a church in Bartila, a Christian village east of Mosul. "Relatives in other cities and friends in Mosul, including Muslims, advised me to leave after recent events."

No Christians in the city feel safe. Last week the owner of a pharmacy was shot dead by a man who claimed to be a plain-clothes policeman and asked for his identity card. Traditionally there have been more Christians in Mosul than in any other Iraqi city. Police say they have found the bullet-riddled body of seven other Christians this month, including a day labourer killed on Wednesday.

The Christian community in Mosul claims to have been founded by St Thomas. Many belong to the Chaldean or Assyrian churches but, even before the present wave of killings, the number of Christians in the city had dropped from 20,000 to 10,000. In March, the Chaldean archbishop of Mosul, Paul Faraj Ranho, was kidnapped and his body was later found in a shallow grave.

The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, said he will do everything to guarantee the safety of Christians whose community in Iraq, which numbered 800,000 five years ago, is now down to 250,000. "Two national police brigades were sent to Christian areas in Mosul and churches were surrounded and put under tight security," said an Interior Ministry spokesman, Abdul-Karim Khalaf.

The sectarian killings in Mosul are a setback to the Iraqi government's effort to persuade the 4.2 million Iraqis who have fled their homes since the fall of Saddam Hussein that it is now safe to return. Of these, two million are refugees within Iraq and a further 2.2 million took refuge abroad, mostly in Syria and Jordan. So far only 20,000 families, or 120,000 individuals, have returned, according to Abdul-Khaliq Zanqana, a member of the Iraqi parliament's displacement and migration committee.

Some Iraqis living abroad have been coming back this year after hearing Iraqi government and US claims of improved security and living conditions but often do not stay long. "My father came back from Syria where he has been living for three years," said Sami Hamoud Khalas, a 39-year-old Sunni taxi driver from west Baghdad. "But he went back after a couple of weeks because of the lack of electricity, checkpoints everywhere and because it is still dangerous."

Security is better than it was in 2006-07 when 3,000 bodies, often mutilated by torture, were turning up every month. But it is still very poor compared to any other country in the world. There are few mixed areas left in Baghdad. It is very dangerous for people to try to reclaim their house if it was in a Sunni area and they are Shia, or vice versa.

One Shia family which returned to their old Sunni neighbourhood in west Baghdad found it stripped of furniture, electrical plugs and even taps. "They decided to sleep on the roof of their house," recalls Menas Mohammed Ibrahim, a secondary school teacher. "But in the night some Sunni came and cut off the husband's head, threw it off the roof and told his wife and children: 'This will happen to any more of you Shia who try to come back.'"

Returning Sunni and Shia often do not reclaim their homes but rent accommodation in a part of Baghdad where their community predominates. The city remains divided by concrete blast walls and checkpoints which increase security but paralyse ordinary activities.

Iraqis are generally cynical about efforts by their government to persuade them that normal life is resuming. Most of the senior members of the government live in the heavily fortified Green Zone protected by US troops and with a permanent electricity supply and clean water. "They say security is good but they hide behind their concrete barriers," said Salman Mohammed Jumah, a 31-year-old primary school teacher. "They do not know what is happening on the ground. They only go out in their armoured convoys."


  1. Saddam's Christian Minister

    But under Saddam, Kuwait was invaded, and they had the war with Iran, and the Kurds were mistreated, and the oil fields of Saudia Arabia seemed at risk.

    Sometimes it just seems like it's impossible.

    What's an honest boy gonna do?

  2. The Jap threw @ the Pineapple and got threatened by the Mexican!
    "LOS ANGELES — In the bottom of the third inning tonight, Hiroki Kuroda threw a fastball over Shane Victorino’s head. It was a pitch that, in the Dodgers’ eyes, came about 48 hours late, and it precipitated the long-awaited first benches-clearing incident of the postseason.
    Victorino gestured at Kuroda and the catcher Russell Martin, pointing to his head and then his ribs as if to say, “Don’t try to hit me HERE, hit me THERE.”

    When Victorino grounded out to end the inning, Kuroda, who had jogged over to receive a throw that never came, started jawing with him, and the Phillies leaped out of their dugout. The Dodgers followed, and Manny Ramirez had to be restrained by several players. No one was ejected."
    Shane's a Maui Boy that's doing really well.
    His Dad mentored him.
    Dad's on the County Council.

  3. Oops, the Jap's a Dodger, so Manny the Mexican musta threatened somebody else.

  4. Hindu Threat to Christians: Convert or Flee
    The forced conversions come amid widening attacks on Christians, who say they are being forced to abandon their faith in exchange for their safety.
    Times Topics: India

  5. From my reading I know that Hindism in its outlook is inclusive.

    They say, there are many ways up the mountain.

    But I have noticed that also, that intolerance is brewing. This has been happening for some time.

    It is not the normal thing, like it is with Islam, but very disappointing.

  6. Is it possible that it is a reaction to the pressure they have been getting from the muzzies, and are taking it out on whoever they can?

    I don't know.

  7. It's always discomforting when people try to push their views on others, whether it be parliamentary democracy politics or religion.

  8. Linear has just pointed out in the previous thread the results of proportional representation in Iraq, without a strong constitution, a sharia free constitution, that protects the individual and the minority groups. If I have read him right.

  9. The last time I read an article about the number of Jewish people in Iraq, it was almost zero.

    And the Christians are following in their steps.

    It is ethnic cleansing, but you won't hear it discussed at the UN.

  10. Iraq shouldn't exist as a country. Neither Iran Syria Turkey. They're artificial creations held together by force.

  11. It is ethnic cleansing, but you won't hear it discussed at the UN.

    You don't hear about it anywhere. 3/4 of Iraqi Christians forced to flee, and practically nothing reported on the issue in the MSM.

  12. Iraq shouldn't exist as a country. Neither Iran Syria Turkey. They're artificial creations held together by force.

    No question about it, up to a point. But, it's what ya got, Mat. What's to be done and who's to do it?

    And don't suggest the UN.

  13. Without oil these entities would not survive. What can be done? Seems obvious to me. :)

  14. Yes. And many other disenfranchised minorities.

  15. Mat, I'm voting for the Republicans, for a lot of reasons. But, I have to tell you, Biden's idea of busting Iraq up into three didn't sound so nuts to me.

    What do you think?

    I quess you have already told me what you think.

  16. Biden's idea of busting Iraq up into three didn't sound so nuts to me.

    Same here, Bob. I think I could find where I posted that somewhere, like GoV, long before Biden. Too bad he gets the credit.

    I suspect he did it just to tarnish Bush. Now I'm sounding like a DUer or Kossak.

  17. Biden's idea of busting Iraq up into three didn't sound so nuts to me


  18. What do you think?

    Answer, Canadian!

    My answer is, cause they don't get along.

    Dad was a lawyer here, made some money too, on divorces.

    Then came along the no fault divorce legislation.

    "Son, it's best, though I'm losing half my income."

  19. My answer is, cause they don't get along.

    That was my position from the start.

  20. How would you have divided it Mat?

  21. Why?

    Kurds deserve their own space.

    Sunnis and Shia act like two tom cats in a gunny sack.

    One, two, three.

  22. How would you have divided it Mat?

    Kurds get everything.

  23. Kurds get everything.

    Mat's had too much to drink.

  24. That was my position from the start

    Then why didn't you say that from the beginning?


    You'd like to ride a bicycle uphill?


  25. Mat's had too much to drink.

    Not at all.

    I'd drive all the Sunnies to Saudia, Shiia to Iran. Israel and Kurds take up the slack, with a bilateral defense pact.

  26. I keep waiting for Doug to bring us some fresh news from the world outside the bar. Where'd he go?

  27. Then why didn't you say that from the beginning?

    I did. Always. :)


  29. Mat: They're artificial creations held together by force.

    Mat: I'd drive all the Sunnies to Saudia, Shiia to Iran. Israel and Kurds take up the slack, with a bilateral defense pact.

    By persuasion and promises of ice cream, since force is implied to be bad for holding together an artificial creation, Mat will create a peaceful artificial creation.

  30. I'd drive all the Sunnies to Saudia, Shiia to Iran.

    In electric 3-seaters made in Israel.

  31. By persuasion and promises of ice cream

    With a side order of 72 raisins.

  32. G'nite, Bob.
    G'nite, LT.
    G'nite, Doug.

  33. Night, Mat. Doug's out sniffin' up news.

    I think I understand raisins.

  34. Saddam has beem gone for five years and more.
    The Christian debacle is the responsibility of the Occupation and the Occupiers.

    The folks with 130,000 of the best soldiers in the world, there.

    You got a problem with how things are, in Iraq, look in the mirror, amigos.

    The proof of the pudding is in the tasting. If it aim't to tasty, gotta blame the Chef, not the bus boys.

  35. Here ya go, linear, from my favorite republican rag, the NY Times:
    A Power That May Not Stay So Super

    At the heart of the troubles, both short term and long term, is debt.
    Debt helped create the housing bubble and has now left almost one of every six homeowners with a mortgage larger than the value of their home.
    Debt built up, and then laid low, modern Wall Street, where firms borrowed $30 for every $1 they owned. And in the coming years, debt will constrain the United States government, as it copes with the combined deficits created by the Bush administration’s policies, the ever-more expensive financial rescue and the biggest item of all, Medicare for the baby boomers.

    In essence, households, banks and the government have already spent some of their future earnings. The current crisis marks the point at which the bills begin to get paid. Whereas Britain lumbered under the weight of imperial overreach, as the historian Niall Ferguson has written, the United States will be shackled primarily by its financial overreach.

  36. Maliki has announce that the 4.100 British troops that are in southern Iraq are no longer needed, there.

    From the BBC

    British troops should leave Iraq because they are no longer needed to maintain security, Iraq's prime minister has said.

    Nouri al-Maliki told the Times there might still be a need for their experience in training Iraqi forces.

    He said a "page had been turned" in the country's relationship with the UK.

    But he said he was concerned discussions over the continued presence of UK troops beyond the end of year have not yet begun.

    On the presence of British troops in southern Iraq, Mr al-Maliki said: "We thank them for the role they have played, but I think that their stay is not necessary for maintaining security and control."


    He said he looked forward to a friendly relationship with the UK government.

    "The Iraqi arena is open for British companies and British friendship, for economic exchange and positive co-operation in science and education," he said.

    Prime Minister Gordon Brown has signalled he expects troop numbers in Iraq to be cut next year.

    It is thought the 4,100 British troops will be reduced as they take on a more diplomatic role.

    The UN Security Council mandate authorising the presence of UK forces in Iraq is due to expire on 31 December.

    Maliki does not think the Brits did much of a job, that they cut and ran from Basra, just when the going got tough.

  37. They may as well keep on goin' for all the good they did, according to Maliki.

    Still no new "Status of Forces" agreement.

    Puts US on step closer to leavin', on the Iraqis terms, too.

    We've been rode hard,
    gonna get put up, wet.

  38. Mosul, that is still under US control, as I believe Baghdad is, as well.

    So these deprivations are occurring on the US watch, not Maliki's.

    Anbar is under Maliki's government control and there is no report of unrest, yet.

    The NYTimes:
    BAGHDAD — Market by market, square by square, the walls are beginning to come down. The miles of hulking blast walls, ugly but effective, were installed as a central feature of the surge of American troops to stop neighbors from killing one another.

    “They protected against car bombs and drive-by attacks,” said Adnan, 39, a vegetable seller in the once violent neighborhood of Dora, who argues that the walls now block the markets and the commerce that Baghdad needs to thrive. “Now it is safe.”

    The slow dismantling of the concrete walls is the most visible sign of a fundamental change here in the Iraqi capital. The American surge strategy, which increased the number of United States troops and contributed to stability here, is drawing to a close. And a transition is under way to the almost inevitable American drawdown in 2009.

    There are now more than 148,000 United States troops in Iraq, down from the peak of around 170,000 a year ago, and President Bush has accepted the military’s recommendation to remove 8,000 more by February.
    On Oct. 1, the Sunni-dominated Awakening movement, widely credited with helping restore order to neighborhoods that were among the most deadly, passed from the American to the Iraqi government payroll in Baghdad. There is deep mutual mistrust between the new employer and many of its new employees, many of whom are former insurgents.

    Another element of the transition, which has attracted far less notice than the Awakening transfer, is the effort by the Iraqi Army to begin turning over neighborhoods to the paramilitary National Police. In the future, its officers, too, will leave and be replaced by regular police officers.

    All three moves mark a transition to an era in which Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government seeks more control over its own military and sway over America’s.

    “The Iraqi security forces are now able to protect Iraq,” said Joaidi Nahim Mahmoud Arif, a National Police sergeant in Dora, in southern Baghdad. “They will depend on themselves above all.”

  39. Col. Craig Collier, commander of the Third Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, Fourth Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, said that in the past year, relations between Awakening groups in the two areas had “gradually gotten better and better, until now, you’re at the point where they’ve taken the wall down and the two sides get together a lot.”
    He added,

    “They’ve been playing soccer.”

  40. But as the early-October transfer approached, it became clear that the Iraqi government would refuse to accept most Awakening members into the security forces, and that most of the civilian jobs simply did not exist. Furthermore, the Awakening leaders, some of whom had been paid thousands of dollars by the Americans, would get no more than the rank and file under the Iraqis. The Americans now say they will try to make up the difference for some of them.

    The Awakening members’ fears have still not been allayed.

    “Allah. Homeland. Salary,”
    reads one piece of protest graffiti painted near an Awakening checkpoint in Dora market, adapting the motto of a feared paramilitary unit during Saddam Hussein’s era.

    Pointing to the words, Sgt. Alaa al-Janabi, 30, who works with the Dora Awakening, said, “This is our slogan.”

    He continued: “What we are being paid now is not enough. It’s nothing. We have to buy gas for our cars, fuel for our generators. I have four kids; they don’t have shoes.”

    “We’re not going to fight again,” he said, but then paused. “Unless they make us.”

  41. US Tribute Payments to Continue to Muslim Extremists in Iraq

    These fellows were never defeated,
    just paid off.

    ...the Awakening leaders, some of whom had been paid thousands of dollars by the Americans, would get no more than the rank and file under the Iraqis. The Americans now say they will try to make up the difference for some of them.