Obama Travels to Iraq, Stays in the Airport: Was it a Sandstorm or the Rising Shitstorm?
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Maybe it’s because of the sandstorms in Baghdad like they say, or maybe it is the rising shitstorm there, but here is the fact: President Obama went to Iraq and stayed at the airport, which is located on the same grounds as Camp Victory. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said it was because of the weather, which would have made helicopter travel into central Baghdad dangerous. Having been in Baghdad at this time of year in the past, I can say that the sandstorms are pretty surreal so that may well be the actual reason. However, it is hard not to wonder about the “coincidence” of Obama’s visit being confined to the airport and coming in the midst of a rising tide in violence in Iraq over the past several days.
Yesterday, more than 30 Iraqis were killed in a series of car bombs. “The wave of attacks [were] the largest number of bombs in one day in almost two years,” according to The Guardian. In all, 37 people died and some 120 were wounded in seven bombings. There were more attacks today that took another nine lives, according to NBC News. The recent violence in Iraq has been portrayed by some seasoned observers as the “ unraveling,” with the Sunni “Awakening” forces, which are paid by the U.S. not to kill U.S. soldiers, increasing their attacks on government forces backing Nouri al Maliki. This has been largely a response to the U.S.-backed Baghdad regime using the cover of U.S. protection to arrest Sunni political opponents and the refusal of the regime to integrate Sunnis into the government. It isn’t just the Shiite government being targeted. A recent Washington Post piece documented a battle wherein “former Sunni insurgents fought from rooftops and street corners against American and Iraqi forces.”Was this violence a factor in the decision to keep Obama in the fortified safety of the airport/Camp Victory area?
Addressing troops upon his arrival in the country, Obama once again portrayed the Iraq war as a victory. “You have given Iraq the opportunity to stand on its own as a democratic country,” Obama said. “That is an extraordinary achievement.”
Obama reportedly had planned to visit the Green Zone and to meet face to face with “President” Jalal Talibani and “Prime Minister” Nouri al Maliki. That was canceled and Maliki made the trek to the airport. Perhaps the image of Obama traveling to Baghdad and just talking by phone with the country’s “leaders” would have been too devastating.
Meanwhile, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice seems not at all concerned about Obama’s vision for Iraq. “It is not a question of when American combat forces withdraw,” Rice said recently. “The distance between what the Obama Administration is talking about and what we negotiated is very small, but Iraq is on its way to becoming a strategic asset .”
Think about that -- a “strategic asset.”
Jeremy Scahill, an independent journalist who reports frequently for the national radio and TV program Democracy Now!, has spent extensive time reporting from Iraq and Yugoslavia. He is currently a Puffin Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute. Scahill is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army. His writing and reporting is available at RebelReports.com.