Iraq's 'National Sovereignty Day' is U.S.-Style Hallmark Hype
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The puppet government in Iraq has named June 30th "National Sovereignty Day," and -- without mentioning the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis maimed, killed, tortured or made refugees by the U.S. invasion and occupation -- thanked the occupiers for placing them in power. "President" Jalal Talabani termed June 30th "a glorious day," saying, "While we celebrate this day, we express our thanks and gratitude to our friends in the coalition forces who faced risks and responsibilities and sustained casualties and damage while helping Iraq to get rid from the ugliest dictatorship and during the joint effort to impose security and stability."
Meanwhile the Iraqi "Prime Minister" Nouri al Maliki -- clearly living in his Green Zone bubble -- stated: "The national united government succeeded in putting down the sectarian war that was threatening the unity and the sovereignty of Iraq," adding, "Those who think that Iraqis are unable to defend their country are committing a fatal mistake." Perhaps Maliki has been hanging out too much by the swimming pools and cabanas in the Green Zone and missed these events:
There was a significant spike in violence before the June 30 withdrawal. More than 250 people were killed in a series of bombings, including one on June 20 that left 81 dead outside a mosque in northern Iraq and another in a Baghdad market on June 24 that killed 78.
As we listen to these proclamations from Iraqi "government" officials praising their fake holiday, let’s remember this fact from veteran journalist Patrick Cockburn, who has covered Iraq more than almost any other Western journalist:
Iraq is the world’s premier kleptomaniac state. According to Transparency International the only countries deemed more crooked than Iraq are Somalia and Myanmar, while Haiti and Afghanistan rank just behind. In contrast to Iraq, which enjoys significant oil revenues, none of these countries have much money to steal.
In a grotesquely symbolic move, the Iraqi government marked "National Sovereignty Day" by "open[ing] up some of its massive oil and gas fields to foreign firms," according to the Wall Street Journal : "In a televised ceremony, international oil companies were invited to submit bids for six oil and two gas fields, a process that marked their return to the country over 30 years after Mr. Hussein nationalized the oil sector and expelled the foreign firms. The fields on offer hold about 43 billion of Iraq’s 115 billion barrels of crude reserves -- among the largest in the world." Among the companies bidding were the Western oil giants ExxonMobil and BP (which reportedly won a contract on Tuesday). As The New York Times reported, "A total of 8 of the world’s 10 top non-state oil companies are competing for licenses to help develop six oil fields and two natural gas fields."
While the U.S. has hyped up the "handover" to the Iraqis, it is largely a show. Underscoring that point, the top U.S. military commander in the Iraqi capital, Maj. Gen. Daniel Bolger, handed over the keys to the former Iraqi Defense Ministry to an Iraqi military commander and spoke of how now "Iraqis take the lead in Baghdad." To keep up appearances, the U.S. military, according to The New York Times , has begun "ordering soldiers to remain in garrison for the next few days to give the Iraqis a chance to demonstrate that they are in control." Note the phrase "for the next few days." As for the official ceremonies marking Iraqi "Independence Day," the Times reports:
The military parade in the Green Zone on Tuesday -- at the official monument to the unknown soldier -- was attended primarily by Iraqi reporters and dignitaries. The public could not reach it because of extensive security restricting access to the area.
Many of the celebrations on Tuesday seemed contrived. Police cars were festooned with plastic flowers, and signs celebrating "independence day"were tied to blast walls and fences around the city. On Monday, night a festive evening celebration in Zahra Park with singers and entertainers drew primarily young men, many of them off-duty police officers.
The Washington Post’s Ernesto Londoño, whose report reads like Iraqi "government" propaganda (it begins: "This is no longer America’s war."), reports: