Talking Points: Iran, Pakistan & Iraq

IRAN: The Rush to War

U.S. Finds Iran Halted Its Nuclear Arms Effort in 2003, New York Times, December 3, 2007.

A Blow to Bush's Tehran Policy,Washington Post, December 4, 2007.

Iran: Why am I Still Worried? By Mike Farrell, Huffington Post

Mr. Bush claims that rumors of plans to attack Iran are 'baseless gossip.' So why am I still worried? Five years ago we established Artists United to Win Without War because of concern about the veracity of Mr. Bush's claims about Iraq. We were alarmed at the hawkish tirades from Washington portending a clear intention to launch an unprovoked attack against a nation that had done us no harm. And we were appalled at the bellicose ranting of the mainstream media that acted as Bush's megaphone, drowning out the few lonely voices trying to add a touch of reason to the mix. So we released a call for restraint, signed by celebrities, military officers, diplomats and foreign service professionals, asking him to honor our country's historic opposition to a "first strike" and to support the UN inspection teams checking to see if Saddam was actually hiding WMD...

... So I'm worried because the same media that turned Saddam into Hitler despite the fact that he had no meaningful army and no weapons of mass destruction, now confers the title on the hapless tool Ahmadinejad, who has no power over Iran's military and little political standing in his own country, except that rejuvenated by the blundering president of Columbia University. More...

PAKISTAN: Unravelling US Involvement in the Emergency

Support the Rule of Law: Sign our Petition

CODEPINK Delegation to Pakistan: Read about Medea Benjamin and Tighe Barry's visit to Pakistan in support of the country's jailed lawyers. Their blogs and photos describe the wonderful welcome they received by Pakistan civil society activists. Their actions shed light on Musharraf's tactics to jail and harass the country's intelligentsia, lawyers and human rights activists. Instead of respecting and protecting these activists as the leaders of the country who can help Pakistan recover from the grip of terrorism and religious fanaticism, Musharraf has become "Busharraf," by playing on the politics of fear, and clamping down on the media and dissidents, for his own selfish grab for power. So effective were Medea and Tighe in organizing protests against Musharraf, that Pakistan's intelligence services felt it necessary to arrest them at gunpoint and force them to leave the country on December 5, 2007 (see press releases here). We must do all we can to help our Pakistani activist friends. More...

The Neocons on Pakistan: Neat, Simple, and Dangerously Naïve
Analysis by Najum Mushtaq | Right Web | November 30, 2007

Just as a flicker of hope emerged to bring back elected civilian rule to Pakistan, the ideological warriors of neoconservatism are up in arms to douse it. Having supported Pervez Musharraf as the stalwart general in America's "war on terror," U.S. neoconservatives are panic-stricken at the prospect of his political demise. No sooner did he decide to relinquish his army post to become a civilian president than fear of Pakistan's collapse and of loose nuclear weapons gripped Musharraf's backers in the United States. Neoconservative analysts are hatching plans to raid the country and nick the nukes before it sinks into chaos. Others, less inclined to use the military option just now, have come up with puerile analyses of how a "Westernized core" of the military and Pakistani civil society can be used to thwart the worst-case scenario of Islamists taking over the country and, with it, the dreaded weapons. More...

  Pakistan, an example of failed U.S. foreign policy. November 27th, 2007

Based in New York City, USA, Johnathan Schell is a renowned anti-nuclear activist, prolific journalist, lecturer and best-selling author. He is a frequent contributor to The Nation, The New Yorker, Harper's and Atlantic Monthly. He is also the author of The Fate of the Earth, nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

  U.S. will support Pakistan's dictatorship. November 26, 2007

Aijaz Ahmad: The U.S. needs Pakistan's military and will support their rule, with or without Musharraf
Based in New Delhi, Aijaz Ahmad is The Real News Network Senior News Analyst and Senior Editorial Consultant and political commentator for the Indian newsmagazine, Frontline. He has taught Political Science and written widely on South Asia and the Middle East.

  Pakistan arrests human rights leaders, October 25, 2007
Asma Jahangir, arrested under Musharraf's Emergency measures, was interviewed by The Real News two weeks ago:

  Pakistan: Lead up to martial law
A collection of interviews and news stories on Pakistan produced by The Real News before Musharraf issued a state of Emergency on November 3, 2007. More...

  The Growing Humanitarian Crisis in Iraq

The Geneva Conventions stipulate that, "A force occupying territory has a duty to supply the population with food and medicine "to the fullest extent of the means available to it" (G4, art. 55). If any part of the population of an occupied territory is inadequately supplied, the occupying power shall facilitate relief by humanitarian agencies (G4, art. 59). However, the provision of assistance by humanitarian agencies does not relieve the occupying force of its responsibilities to meet the needs of the population." (Excerpt from Human Rights Watch)

Although it was predicted and became true that the US invasion would provoke a humanitarian crisis in Iraq, no one prepared for what has become the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world. Today, 8 million Iraqis live in poverty and more than 15% of the population have fled their homes. More than 2 million have sought refuge in neighboring countries and an estimated 2.3 million are internally displaced. Despite urging from many different quarters that economic development and reconstruction are key to stabilizing Iraq, Iraqis are left with inadequate support from the Iraqi Government, the UN, the US or other international donors. According to the Testimony of Bill Frelick before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus,

"The Bush Administration has boosted its 2008 emergency request to fund the Iraq and Afghan wars to $196.4 billion, bringing the total price tag to more than $800 billion. Less than one-fifth of 1 percent of that request, $240 million-less than the amount the U.S. spends each day to wage the war-is slated for emergency relief, basic health services and education for the 4.4 million Iraqis who have been forced from their homes. While the Administration's war spending could be characterized as profligate, it has been pinching pennies when it comes to meeting the war's human costs. Its humanitarian response has not only been stingy, but prosaic. Providing basic relief, while necessary, is not sufficient."

Jordan, Syria and even provinces within Iraq have closed their doors to Iraqi refugees because of the lack of international assistance to help provide for the massive influx of Iraqis fleeing from their homes. Recent reports from the Iraqi Government, UN agencies and international NGOs all warn of the threat to Iraq's orphaned and vulnerable children.

  Below are links to recent reports, statistics, articles, etc providing information on the current humanitarian crisis in Iraq, with special emphasis on the growing refugee crisis.

  • The Human Cost of War: The Iraqi Refugee Crisis
    Testimony of Bill Frelick before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus
    Bill Frelick delivered testimony at the November 15, 2007, member briefing of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. The briefing updated Caucus members on the situation of the estimated 4.4 million Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons in the region.

  • Global Policy Forum: Iraq's Humanitarian Crisis: The international relief system has not been able to respond to the growing humanitarian challenges. International agencies have themselves faced serious problems in reaching Iraqis at risk. Iraq's humanitarian emergency has reached a crisis level that compares with some of the world's most urgent calamities.
    (This site also contains an excellent archive of recent reports and articles)

  • Iraqi Refugees: A Lot of Talk, Little Action
    Refugees International
    Contacts: Kristele Younes and Jake Kurtzer
    The situation for Iraqi refugees in the Middle East continues to deteriorate, while the scale of the crisis continues to dwarf the international response. As the number of displaced Iraqis has reached an unprecedented level - more than 4.5 million - Iraq's neighbors have increased restrictions on the refugees. These restrictions are at least partially a response to the lack of support received from the United States and other donor governments, as well as the government of Iraq itself, to lessen the tremendous burden that the host countries are assuming.

  • Doors closing on Iraqi displaced
    BBC - October 10, 2007
    A growing number of Iraqi provinces are refusing entry to displaced people, the UN refugee agency has said. The head of the UNHCR Iraq Support Unit told the BBC up to 11 governors were restricting access because they lacked resources to look after the refugees.

  • Oxfam Reports Growing Humanitarian Crisis in Iraq
    Published: July 31, 2007
    AMMAN, Jordan, July 30 - Poverty, hunger and public health continue to worsen in Iraq, according to a report released Monday by Oxfam International, which says that more aid is needed from abroad and calls on the Iraqi government to decentralize the distribution of food and medical supplies.

  • Iraqi Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons: A Deepening Humanitarian Crisis?
    Congressional Research Service for the People
    October 03, 2007
    Summary: The humanitarian crisis many feared would take place in March 2003 as a result of the war in Iraq continues to unfold as a result of post-war insurgency and sectarian violence. It is estimated that in total (including those displaced prior to the war) there may be as many as 2 million Iraqi refugees who have fled to Jordan, Syria, and other neighboring states, and approximately 2.2 million Iraqis who have been displaced within Iraq itself. The violence and insecurity resulting from the ongoing sectarian strife, terrorism, and insurgency in Iraq has had a marked impact on civilian displacement in different parts of the country. Many of Iraq's neighbors fear that they are being overwhelmed by refugees fleeing over Iraq's borders. There are now heightened concerns about the absorptive capacity of neighboring countries, whether they can provide adequately for the populations moving across borders, and the impact of refugee flows on stability in general. Some experts think that the Iraq situation could well begin to outpace other refugee crises worldwide. This report provides an analysis of the current crisis, including the conditions for those displaced in Iraq and the refugee situations in Syria, Jordan, and elsewhere. It also provides information on the U.S. and international response and examines refugee resettlement options in the United States. Aspects of this crisis that may be of particular interest to the 110th Congress include a focus on an immediate response (providing humanitarian relief funding), examining resettlement policies, and developing a strategy to manage the displaced, particularly within Iraq.

  • UNICEF concerned at conditions for orphans and vulnerable children in Iraq
    AMMAN/GENEVA/NEW YORK, 22 June 2007

  • UN warns of growing humanitarian crisis in occupied Iraq
    World Socialist Website
    Iraqi government withholds civilian death count
    By Kate Randall
    26 April 2007
    A new United Nations report on human rights in Iraq paints a devastating portrait of the conditions of life facing the civilian population as the US occupation enters its fifth year. The report from the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) covers the period from January 1 to March 31, 2007, which includes the beginning of the Bush administration's Baghdad "surge," Operation Law and Order.

  • A Displacement Crisis
    Internal Displacement Monitoring Center
    30 March 2007
    More than 727,000 people are estimated to have been internally displaced due to sectarian and generalised violence in Iraq between February 2006 and March 2007. Together with tens of thousands more displaced by ongoing military operations, and more than one million by the abuses of the former regime of Saddam Hussein, this leads to a total of nearly 1.9 million people currently estimated to be displaced within Iraq. In addition, some 2 million Iraqis fled to neighbouring countries as of March 2007.

  • ‘Giving a voice to Iraqi children', a 20 minute film by Sonia Azad, 12 years old
    Sonia is also traveling with Kathy Kelly, of Voices of Creative Non-Violence and Voices in the Wilderness UK, on a UK speaking tour regarding the Iraqi Refugee Crisis.