[A-List] JFP 12/14: Holbrooke: "You've Got to Stop This War in Afghanistan"
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Wed Dec 15 07:08:36 MST 2010
*Just Foreign Policy News
December 14, 2010
*Just Foreign Policy News on the Web:*
[To receive just the Summary and a link to the web version, you can use this
*Richard Holbrooke: "You've Got to Stop This War in Afghanistan"*
To honor Holbrroke's memory, we should obey his last command.
Afghanistan experts call for peace deal and exit strategy*
Afghanistan experts with decades of experience in the country call on
President Obama to change course and push for a peace settlement and exit
strategy. Signers include: Scott Atran, Michael Cohen, Gilles Dorronsoro,
Bernard Finel, Joshua Foust, Anatol Lieven, Ahmed Rashid, and Alex Strick
*Deficit Reduction Proposals: Defense Discretionary Spending*
Laicie Olson of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation has put
together a chart that shows where various deficit reduction proposals come
down on specific cuts to the military budget. For example, one can see from
the chart that five of the nine proposals essentially call for returning
troop levels to their prewar levels; and seven of the nine proposals call
for at least a 1/3 cut in the US military presence in Asia and Europe.
*Public Citizen Condemns Attacks on WikiLeaks, Which Threaten Online Speech
and Freedom of Press*
Statement of Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen: "the attacks are
an assault not only on WikiLeaks, but on freedom of speech, freedom of the
press and freedom of the Internet."
*Center for Constitutional Rights: Rights Groups Denounce U.S. Decision to
Resume Deportations to Haiti *
"ICE's sudden decision to resume deportations to Haiti is
unconscionable...the situation in Haiti has not improved and may be even
worse now than when the deportations were halted in the weeks after the
devastating earthquake of January 2010."
**Action: Petition: Timetable for the Withdrawal of UN Troops from Haiti*
The election fiasco in Haiti, following UN attempts to cover up the likely
role of UN troops in the outbreak of cholera in Haiti, add urgency to the
call for the UN to tell Haitians what the plan is for the full restoration
of Haitian sovereignty.
*Help Support Our Work*
Your donation helps us educate Americans and create opportunities to
advocate for a just foreign policy.
*U.S./Top News <#12ce7b5bfb4a67e9_December1410t1>*
1) A review of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan on Thursday will report some
progress despite the bloodiest year in nine years of war and signal no major
change in President Obama's plans, Reuters reports. But even reports of
modest progress might surprise many in Afghanistan, where a recent U.S.
military report found an expanding, tenacious insurgency, entrenched
corruption and dysfunctional governance despite some pockets of security.
Almost 700 foreign troops have been killed in 2010, at least 477 of them
Americans. "What's going to happen next year is quite clear: less Europeans,
more Taliban, and Karzai not being able to do the work," said Gilles
Dorronsoro of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
2) Human Rights Watch said diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks stated
that Yemen in 2009 repeatedly diverted U.S.-supported Yemeni
counterterrorism forces and possibly U.S.-supplied military vehicles to
assist the government's fight against northern Huthi rebels, Inter Press
Service reports. HRW called on the U.S. government to investigate Yemen's
apparent diversion of U.S. counterterrorism assistance and suspend such aid
unless the misuse has stopped. The administration and Congress also should
investigate reported Saudi use of U.S.-supplied ammunition in Yemen and U.S.
missile strikes in Yemen, including a 2009 attack that killed several dozen
local residents, HRW said.
3) A British judge agreed Tuesday to release Julian Assange on bail, the
Washington Post reports. Assange remained in custody as British prosecutors
representing Sweden challenged the decision.
4) One of Julian Assange's attorneys says the possibility that a secret
grand jury is meeting in Virginia to consider charges against the WikiLeaks
founder is "purely speculation" that has not been substantiated by his legal
team, Salon reports.
5) 68 percent of Americans say WikiLeaks' exposure of government documents
about the State Department and U.S. diplomacy harms the public interest, the
Washington Post reports. 59 percent say the U.S. government should arrest
Assange and charge him with a crime for releasing the diplomatic cables. But
younger adults viewed the situation differently: a third say the release
serves the public interest, and half say Assange should not be arrested.
Democrats were also evenly split on whether Assange should be prosecuted.
The overall negative opinion may represent a shift since August, when those
who had heard about Afghanistan leaks were more evenly split on whether they
served the public interest. [This result suggests that the fierce US
government reaction may have succeeded in moving public opinion - JFP.]
6) The results of the Afghanistan strategy review are to be announced
publicly Thursday, the Washington Post reports. Obama is expected to restate
his pledge to begin drawing down U.S. combat troop levels in July, a process
now scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014.
7) At least 100 relief workers in Afghanistan have been killed this year,
prompting humanitarian organizations to charge that US military strategy is
putting them and the Afghans they serve at unnecessary risk, th`e New York
Times reports. Most of the victims worked for aid contractors employed by
NATO countries, with fewer victims among traditional nonprofit aid groups.
Doctors Without Borders says US strategy is forcing people to choose sides
who do not want to choose sides. Many of the traditional aid groups are
particularly critical of the UN, which they accuse of failing in its
responsibility to make sure aid efforts are not militarized.
8) Former US diplomat Bill Harris, who was the senior diplomat responsible
for Kandahar, is certain the war will fail if the US does not find a way to
eliminate the de facto sanctuary that Taliban fighters have established in
neighboring Pakistan, the Washington Post reports. "Pakistani sanctuaries
are crucial: If you can't solve that problem, you can't win," said a senior
US military official.
9) A Pakistani journalist whose relatives were killed in a US drone strike
has started a legal push to charge Jonathan Banks, the CIA station chief in
Pakistan, with murder, the Guardian reports. Karim Khan says his brother and
son, both government employees, were killed in a CIA drone strike on their
home in North Waziristan in December 2009. A WikiLeaks cable showed that
last year ambassador Anne Patterson argued that increased "unilateral
operations" risked "destabilizing the Pakistani state" and ultimately
hindering the US goal of expelling al-Qaida from the region, the Guardian
10) The Washington Post's new neoconservative blogger, Jennifer Rubin, says
we need to make human rights a central theme in our bilateral and
multilateral diplomacy regarding Iran, notes Justin Elliott in Salon. She
also says we should assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists, apparently
unconcerned by any possible contradiction between assassinating people and
supporting human rights.
11) A new wave of Iraqi Christians has fled to northern Iraq or abroad amid
a campaign of violence against them and growing fear the country's security
forces are unable or unwilling to protect them, the New York Times reports.
12) Texas is sending more guns to Mexico's drug wars than any other US
state, and Houston is sending more guns than any other Texas city, the
Washington Post reports. Mexican officials have urged the US to stop the
flow of guns south.
1) Analysis: Outlook grim as U.S. touts progress in Afghan review
Missy Ryan and Sayed Salahuddin, Reuters, Mon, Dec 13 2010
Washington/Kabul - A long-awaited review of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan due
on Thursday will report some progress despite the bloodiest year in nine
years of war and signal no major change in President Barack Obama's plans.
But even reports of modest progress might surprise many in Afghanistan,
where a recent U.S. military report found an expanding, tenacious
insurgency, entrenched corruption and dysfunctional governance despite some
pockets of security. Almost 700 foreign troops have been killed in 2010, at
least 477 of them Americans.
"What's going to happen next year is quite clear: less Europeans, more
Taliban, and Karzai not being able to do the work," said Gilles Dorronsoro,
a critic of the U.S. strategy and scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for
"The great problem we face here is that (the United States) can succeed in
Afghanistan but the Afghan government can still fail, and we can have no
influence over Pakistan, the strategic center of this war," said Anthony
Cordesman, a security expert at the U.S. Center for Strategic and
More and more, the West sees neighboring Pakistan as the linchpin to its
success in Afghanistan. But the last year has shown the limits of U.S.
leverage over Islamabad as Washington presses it to go after militants based
inside its borders.
Pakistan continues to identify its chief foreign policy concern not in
Afghanistan but in India, a strong U.S. ally Pakistan accuses of meddling.
"We are saying (to the United States): we are here to help you but you also
(must) take care of our interests," a senior security official in Pakistan
said on condition of anonymity
2) Yemen Funneled U.S. Aid to Insurgency War
William Fisher, Inter Press Service, 13 Dec
New York - Yemen is diverting U.S. military counterterrorism assistance to
an abusive military campaign unrelated to terrorist threats, a prominent
human rights group has learned from Wikileaks.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that U.S. diplomatic cables released by
Wikileaks this month stated that Yemen in 2009 repeatedly diverted
U.S.-supported Yemeni counterterrorism forces and possibly U.S.-supplied
military vehicles to assist the government's fight against northern Huthi
In the cables, U.S. diplomats complain that their requests for Yemen to halt
such diversions were having little effect. Human Rights Watch has documented
numerous possible violations of the laws of war by government as well as
rebel forces in the Huthi conflict. HRW said the U.S. should also
investigate reported Saudi use of U.S.-supplied military hardware in the
The leaked cables also confirm that the U.S., not the Yemeni government,
carried out missile strikes in December 2009 in the south of the country,
including one that killed 42 local residents.
"The U.S. should not tolerate the misuse of such resources because it could
implicate the U.S. in Yemen's abusive practices," Letta Tayler, terrorism
and counterterrorism researcher for HRW, told IPS.
HRW called on the U.S. government to investigate Yemen's apparent diversion
of U.S. counterterrorism assistance and suspend such aid unless the misuse
The Obama administration and the U.S. Congress also should investigate
reported Saudi use of U.S.-supplied ammunition in Yemen and U.S. missile
strikes in Yemen, including a 2009 attack that killed several dozen local
residents, HRW said.
Human Rights Watch's April 2010 report on the Huthi- government armed
conflict in northern Yemen, "All Quiet on the Northern Front?", documents
credible allegations that Yemeni government forces indiscriminately shelled
and bombed civilian areas in its fight against the Huthis, causing civilian
casualties, and used child soldiers. Those practices violate the laws of
war. It also found violations by Huthi forces.
U.S. investigations should include an assessment of steps that U.S. embassy
officials in 2009 said that they would take to address shortcomings in their
"End-Use Monitoring Agreement" - a pact that allows the U.S. to check if
Yemen misused or illicitly transferred any U.S. security assistance.
The U.S. government should take an equally hard look at its own military's
conduct in Yemen, Human Rights Watch said. One diplomatic cable leaked by
Wikileaks from December 2009 recounts how Yemeni President Ali Abdullah
Saleh promised U.S. Gen. David H. Petraeus that he would continue to falsely
claim that U.S. missile strikes against suspected AQAP targets were Yemeni
operations. Those strikes included the Dec. 17 cruise missile attack in the
southern province of Abyan that killed at least 42 people, the majority of
them women and children. The Abyan strike reportedly used cluster munitions,
weapons that are banned by more than 100 countries because they are unable
to distinguish between military and civilian people and objects.
"The U.S. should immediately conduct an impartial review of the Abyan strike
to ensure compliance with international law, including the prohibition
against indiscriminate attacks that harm civilians," Tayler said. "The Obama
administration has yet to clarify the legal basis for such strikes."
3) WikiLeaks founder granted bail
Anthony Faiola and Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi, Washington Post, Tuesday,
December 14, 2010; 3:39 PM
London - A British judge agreed Tuesday to release Julian Assange on bail,
potentially setting the controversial founder of the WikiLeaks Web site free
in coming days to fight an extradition warrant to Sweden from outside a
Assange remained in custody, however, as British prosecutors representing
Sweden challenged the decision, with a hearing on their appeal to be heard
by Britain's High Court no later than Thursday. Assange's wealthy backers,
who include Bianca Jagger and U.S. filmmaker Michael Moore, were also
scrambling to come up with the funds - equivalent to about $380,000 - to
cover his bail and provide other required financial assurances.
4) Assange grand jury report "purely speculation"
Justin Elliott, Salon, Tuesday, Dec 14, 2010 17:33
One of Julian Assange's attorneys tells Salon that the possibility that a
secret grand jury is meeting in Virginia to consider charges against the
WikiLeaks founder is "purely speculation" that has not been substantiated by
his legal team. "We haven't heard anything specific. It's only rumors," said
Attorney Jennifer Robinson of the London firm Finers Stephens Innocent. "We
do not have any concrete information about that."
Mark Stephens, an attorney at the same firm and another member of Assange's
legal team, told Al Jazeera over the weekend: "We have heard from Swedish
authorities there has been a secretly empaneled grand jury in Alexandria."
But Robinson's comments today make it clear that Assange's legal team has
not been able to confirm the existence of a grand jury. If one has been
empaneled, it would mark an escalation in the Obama administration's war on
The Justice Department has so far not publicly come up with a convincing
theory of a law broken by Assange in the case - though various Obama
officials have asserted that WikiLeaks has committed a crime.
5) Poll: Americans say WikiLeaks harmed public interest; most want Assange
Meredith Chaiken, Washington Post, Tuesday, December 14, 2010; 7:00 AM
The American public is highly critical of the recent release of confidential
U.S. diplomatic cables on the WikiLeaks Web site and would support the
arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange by U.S. authorities, a new
Washington Post-ABC News poll finds.
Most of those polled - 68 percent - say the WikiLeaks' exposure of
government documents about the State Department and U.S. diplomacy harms the
public interest. Nearly as many - 59 percent - say the U.S. government
should arrest Assange and charge him with a crime for releasing the
Assange was scheduled to appear in a London courtroom Tuesday to formally
contest an extradition order on sexual assault charges in Sweden. U.S.
federal authorities are reportedly investigating whether Assange could be
charged with violating the Espionage Act by releasing the documents, but his
potential extradition to Sweden could significantly complicate any U.S.
attempt to quickly try him.
A generational gap was evident among those polled, with younger Americans
raised in the Internet age expressing distinct views on the matter. Nearly a
third of those ages 18 to 29 say the release of the U.S. diplomatic cables
serves the public interest, double the proportion of those older than 50
saying so. When it comes to Assange, these younger adults are evenly split:
Forty-five percent say he should be arrested by the United States; 46
percent say it is not a criminal matter. By contrast, those age 30 and older
say he should be arrested by a whopping 37-point margin.
Though Americans are divided by age, the public response to the leaks
represents a rare moment of shared perspective across partisan lines. Large
majorities of Democrats, Republican and independents alike see the massive
document release as harmful to the public interest. Fully three-quarters of
Republicans say it harms the public interest, and nearly the same proportion
believes he should be arrested by the United States. Among Democrats and
independents, slim majorities say the government should pursue criminal
charges against Assange.
These opinions reflect a possible shift in public opinion since August, when
about three-quarters of Americans told Pew pollsters that they had heard
about a previous WikiLeaks release of classified documents about the war in
Afghanistan. At that time, those who had heard about those cables were more
evenly split on how the leaks affected the public interest: Forty-two
percent said they served the public; 47 percent said they harmed the public.
6) Holbrooke's Death Leaves Void In War Strategy
Karen DeYoung, Washington Post, Tuesday, December 14, 2010; 3:43 PM
President Obama and his advisers gathered at the White House on Tuesday to
review U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, a day after Richard C. Holbrooke,
special envoy to the region, died of complications from a torn aorta. His
absence leaves a major void in what has always been the most difficult
aspect of a high-risk, high-stakes war.
The results of the strategy review - compiled by the National Security
Council from input by Holbrooke; Gen. David H. Petraeus, the U.S. commander
in Afghanistan; and other officials - are to be announced publicly Thursday.
Obama is expected to restate his pledge to begin drawing down U.S. combat
troop levels in July, a process now scheduled to be completed by the end of
According to several administration officials who spoke on the condition of
anonymity because the assessment has not been released, its most positive
aspects will be based on military reports from Petraeus, who has described
successful clearing operations in and around the Taliban bastions of
Kandahar, Afghanistan's second-largest city, and southwestern Helmand
province. Petraeus has also cited the elimination, through killing or
capture, of hundreds of Taliban commanders and local political leaders in
raids by U.S. Special Operations forces.
Progress has lagged, however, on installing competent, non-corrupt Afghan
officials who can convince their own population that they are worth
supporting once the Taliban returns, as expected, in a new offensive next
7) Killings Of Afghan Relief Workers Stir Strategy Debate
Rod Nordland, New York Times, December 13, 2010
Kabul, Afghanistan - At least 100 relief workers in Afghanistan have been
killed so far this year, far more than in any previous year, prompting a
debate within humanitarian organizations about whether American military
strategy is putting them and the Afghans they serve at unnecessary risk.
Most of the victims worked for aid contractors employed by NATO countries,
with fewer victims among traditional nonprofit aid groups.
The difference in the body counts of the two groups is at the heart of a
question troubling the aid community: Has American counterinsurgency
strategy militarized the delivery of aid?
That doctrine calls for making civilian development aid a major adjunct to
the military push. To do that there are Provincial Reconstruction Teams in
33 of 34 provinces, staffed by civilians from coalition countries to deliver
aid projects. The effort is enormous, dominated by the Americans; the United
States Agency for International Development alone is spending $4 billion
this year, most of it through the teams. The so-called P.R.T.'s work from
heavily guarded military compounds and are generally escorted by troops from
the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.
Traditional aid workers worry that the P.R.T.'s and the development
companies working for them are compromising their neutrality. Oxfam and 28
other charitable groups signed a report last month, "Nowhere to Turn," that
denounces the practice, saying it puts civilians at greater risk.
"In many instances, where P.R.T. projects have been implemented in insecure
areas in an effort to win 'hearts and minds,' they put individuals and
communities at risk," the Oxfam report said.
Michiel Hofman, the head of Doctors Without Borders in Afghanistan, said,
"This assistance forces the beneficiaries to choose sides, and many people
in the disputed areas do not want to choose sides."
The military and its supporters say the difference in body counts only
reflects the fact that the aid contractors work in dangerous areas where
many nongovernmental organizations are unwilling to operate.
Nongovernmental organizations vigorously disagree. "We are in 26 provinces,"
said Ashley Jackson of Oxfam, "and in Arghandab there are four N.G.O.'s
working on health care and education." Arghandab is one of the most
dangerous areas in Kandahar, with a district-level team from the Provincial
Reconstruction Team running more than 50 aid projects. "The P.R.T.'s'
presence makes it more dangerous to work there," Ms. Jackson said.
NATO officials contend that insurgents do not distinguish between aid
workers. "Insurgents have made clear both in their rhetoric and their
actions that they target N.G.O.'s and aid workers," said Mark Jacobson, the
deputy senior civilian representative of NATO in Afghanistan.
But aid officials counter that the very difference in casualties between
private contractors and charitable ones shows that the Taliban do make a
distinction. "It's quite easy," said Mr. Hofman of Doctors Without Borders.
"We don't use armed guards, we don't have barbed wire on our gates, there's
a clear logo on our cars, and we are not associated with any program
strengthening government. The government is just one of many warring
Doctors Without Borders has offices in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand
Province, where it runs a hospital. Those offices have never been attacked,
while a private development company, International Relief and Development,
just down the same street, has a fortified compound that has been attacked
by insurgents. In Kunduz, his group has not been attacked, but the company
DAI has been.
Many of the traditional aid groups are particularly critical of the United
Nations, which they accuse of failing in its responsibility to make sure aid
efforts are not militarized. The United Nations recognizes the Afghan
government and is politically committed to it, but many of its agencies,
including Unicef and the World Food Program, are expected to deliver
8) Former U.S. envoy in Afghanistan worried about insurgent havens in
Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post, Monday, December 13, 2010; 10:59 PM
After serving as the senior U.S. diplomat responsible for Kandahar, Bill
Harris is convinced that American forces have made "staggering progress"
against insurgents this fall in areas around Afghanistan's second-largest
But he is equally certain that the overall war will fail if the United
States does not find a way to eliminate the de facto sanctuary that Taliban
fighters have established in neighboring Pakistan. "As we sat there for a
year . . . we knew the insurgents who attacked us were going to Pakistan to
re-equip, replenish, retrain and get orders to attack us again," he said.
His alarm over Pakistan, which grew with each month he spent in Kandahar,
contrasts with his diminishing concern over the behavior of President Hamid
Karzai's half brother, the most powerful political leader in southern
Afghanistan. Harris arrived thinking that Ahmed Wali Karzai was
Afghanistan's equivalent of the notorious Colombian drug trafficker Pablo
Escobar and should be expelled. Harris left believing that Karzai was
supporting U.S. strategy and that decisions about his future should be left
to Afghans, not Americans.
Harris's field-level insights on Pakistan and the Karzai family illuminate
the challenges facing the United States as it seeks to translate recent
security improvements into something more than transitory gains. Those
issues are among the most important and complicated questions being
discussed by members of President Obama's national security team as they
assess the Afghan war this week.
"Pakistani sanctuaries are crucial: If you can't solve that problem, you
can't win," said a senior military official who is participating in some of
the review discussions and discussed the issue on the condition of
9) Pakistani journalist sues CIA for drone strike that killed relatives
Karim Khan is seeking $500m damages for death of two relatives in drone
attack in North Waziristan
Declan Walsh, Guardian, Monday 13 December 2010 18.37 GMT
Islamabad - A Pakistani journalist whose relatives were killed in a US drone
strike has started a legal push to charge America's top spy in Pakistan with
murder. "We appeal to the authorities not to let Jonathan Banks escape from
Pakistan," said Karim Khan, naming the alleged CIA station chief in
Islamabad. "He should be arrested and executed in this country."
Khan was speaking outside an Islamabad police station after lodging an
application to prevent the US official from leaving Pakistan. He has lodged
a separate civil suit seeking $500m (£314m) in damages from the US
Khan says that his brother and son, both government employees, were killed
in a CIA drone strike on their home near Mir Ali in North Waziristan in
Press reports named the target as Haji Omar, a leading Taliban commander.
Khan insists that Omar was not in the house and that his relatives were
innocent. "These men had nothing to do with the Taliban," said his lawyer,
Khan's allegations are difficult to confirm independently. Information about
civilian deaths from US drone strikes is widely disputed, largely because
the lawless tribal belt is out of reach to foreign and even most Pakistani
journalists. His unusual legal bid has slim chances of success. The CIA has
rarely been successfully sued at home, much less abroad. And the recent
WikiLeaks cables revealed secret Pakistani government support for the
The drones are already a subject of lively debate inside the American
system, the WikiLeaks cables showed. Last year ambassador Anne Patterson
argued that increased "unilateral operations" risked "destabilizing the
Pakistani state" and ultimately hindering the US goal of expelling al-Qaida
from the region.
10) Neocon's Iran plan: Assassinations, human rights
Washington Post scribe calls for United States to kill civilian scientists -
while also prioritizing human rights
Justin Elliott, Salon, Monday, Dec 13, 2010 08:30 Et
The Washington Post's new neoconservative blogger, Jennifer Rubin, is up
with a big post laying out four steps for a "reset" of America's policy
Rubin's four-point plan contains this remarkably unselfconscious
juxtaposition of ideas:
>Second, we should continue and enhance espionage and sabotage of the
Iranian nuclear program. Every nuclear scientist who has a "car accident"
and every computer virus buys us time, setting back the timeline for Iran's
nuclear capability, while exacting a price for those who cooperate with the
nuclear program. Think of it as the ultimate targeted sanction.
>Third, we need to make human rights a central theme in our bilateral and
multilateral diplomacy regarding Iran. The spotlight on the noxious regime
helps to undermine the regime's legitimacy at home and emboldens the Green
Movement. We should test the theory that the most effective disarmament
strategy is a robust human rights policy, one that includes the EU and other
nations exerting diplomatic pressure on the regime.
To summarize: Rubin wants the United States to make human rights a central
theme in its Iran policy - and to indiscriminately assassinate civilian
The "car accident" line in her post is a clear reference to the bombing of
two scientists' cars last month in Tehran….One of the scientists was killed
and one was wounded. Both of their wives were also reportedly wounded.
Another nuclear scientist was killed in a similar bombing earlier this year.
No one has argued that any of these men could be considered combatants. It's
also still unclear who was behind the attacks, though Iran has accused the
United States and Israel of having a role. But even the U.S. State
Department referred to these attacks as acts of terrorism, which would make
them antithetical to any serious concept of human rights.
11) With New Violence, More Christians Are Fleeing Iraq
Steven Lee Myers, New York Times, December 12, 2010
Qosh, Iraq - A new wave of Iraqi Christians has fled to northern Iraq or
abroad amid a campaign of violence against them and growing fear that the
country's security forces are unable or, more ominously, unwilling to
The flight - involving thousands of residents from Baghdad and Mosul, in
particular - followed an Oct. 31 siege at a church in Baghdad that killed 51
worshipers and 2 priests and a subsequent series of bombings and
assassinations singling out Christians. This new exodus, which is not the
first, highlights the continuing displacement of Iraqis despite improved
security over all and the near-resolution of the political impasse that
gripped the country after elections in March.
It threatens to reduce further what Archdeacon Emanuel Youkhana of the
Assyrian Church of the East called "a community whose roots were in Iraq
even before Christ."
Those who fled the latest violence - many of them in a panicked rush, with
only the possessions they could pack in cars - warned that the new violence
presages the demise of the faith in Iraq. Several evoked the mass departure
of Iraq's Jews after the founding of the state of Israel in 1948.
"It's exactly what happened to the Jews," said Nassir Sharhoom, 47, who fled
last month to the Kurdish capital, Erbil, with his family from Dora, a once
mixed neighborhood in Baghdad. "They want us all to go."
12) As Mexico drug violence runs rampant, U.S. guns tied to crime south of
James V. Grimaldi and Sari Horwitz, Washington Post, Monday, December 13,
2010; 12:41 AM
No other state has produced more guns seized by police in the brutal Mexican
drug wars than Texas. In the Lone Star State, no other city has more guns
linked to Mexican crime scenes than Houston. And in the Texas oil town, no
single independent dealer stands out more for selling guns traced from south
of the border than Bill Carter.
Carter, 76, has operated four Carter's Country stores in the Houston
metropolitan area over the past half-century. In the past two years, more
than 115 guns from his stores have been seized by the police and military in
As an unprecedented number of American guns flows to the murderous drug
cartels across the border, the identities of U.S. dealers that sell guns
seized at Mexican crime scenes remain confidential under a law passed by
Congress in 2003.
A year-long investigation by The Washington Post has cracked that secrecy
and uncovered the names of the top 12 U.S. dealers of guns traced to Mexico
in the past two years.
Eight of the top 12 dealers are in Texas, three are in Arizona, and one is
in California. In Texas, two of the four Houston area Carter's Country
stores are on the list, along with four gun retailers in the Rio Grande
Valley at the southern tip of the state. There are 3,800 gun retailers in
Texas, 300 in Houston alone.
"One of the reasons that Houston is the number one source, you can go to a
different gun store for a month and never hit the same gun store," said J.
Dewey Webb, special agent in charge of the Houston field division of the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. "You can buy [a 9mm
handgun] down along the border, but if you come to Houston, you can probably
buy it cheaper because there's more dealers, there's more competition."
Drug cartels have aggressively turned to the United States because Mexico
severely restricts gun ownership. Following gunrunning paths that have been
in place for 50 years, firearms cross the border and end up in the hands of
criminals as well as ordinary citizens seeking protection. "This is not a
new phenomenon," Webb said.
What is different now, authorities say, is the number of high-powered rifles
heading south - AR-15s, AK-47s, armor-piercing .50-caliber weapons - and the
savagery of the violence.
Federal authorities say more than 60,000 U.S. guns of all types have been
recovered in Mexico in the past four years, helping fuel the violence that
has contributed to 30,000 deaths. Mexican President Felipe Calderon came to
Washington in May and urged Congress and President Obama to stop the flow of
U.S. law enforcement has ramped up its focus on gun trafficking along the
southwestern border. Arrests of individual gunrunners have surged. But
investigators rarely bring regulatory actions or criminal cases against U.S.
gun dealers, in part because of laws backed by the gun lobby that make it
difficult to prove cases.
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