ACTION ALERT: Soldiers, Top Iraqi Official, US Congress Challenge Escalation
January 20, 2007
The Daily Press & BBC World News & Progressive Democrats of America
Active members of the Armed Forces have joined peace activists to call for an end to the war in Iraq. An "appeal for redress'' petition, signed by more than 1,000 active duty soldiers and sailors nationwide was delivered to Congress. In Iraq, Abdel Aziz al-Hakim criticized a controversial US attack iin Irbil as "attack on Iraq's sovereignty." A bill to "End the Iraq War" has been introduced in Congress and, in Israel, soldiers are publicly speaking out against the brutal occupation of Palestinian land.
Service Members Join War Protest
John M. R. Bull / The Daily Press
NORFOLK (January 15, 2007) — Several dozen service members joined peace activists today to call for an end to the war in Iraq, part of a nationwide effort that links a growing group of active-duty protesters to the peace movement.
An "appeal for redress'' petition, signed by more than 1,000 active duty soldiers and sailors nationwide — many of whom served in Iraq — is to be delivered to Congress on Tuesday.
On a day devoted to honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Norfolk-based Seaman Jonathan Hutto quoted the civil rights leader at a gathering of war protestors at the Unitarian Church of Norfolk.
"Dissent is not disloyalty,'' Hutto said, noting that King objected to the Vietnam War and insisted that protestors "were not fools or traitors.''
Roughly 100 people attended the gathering to hear speeches and to rally support for veterans who are speaking out against the war.
"There is honest disagreement ... but all voices deserve to be heard,'' said Rev. Paul Boothby, the church's pastor. "It is good that we gather together to speak out and be heard.''
A growing number of active-duty military personnel are coming out against the war, despite a culture in the Armed Forces that frowns on public objections to presidential policy.
A recent poll of military personnel show their support of the war has dropped to 54 percent.
Active-duty military personnel are allowed to publicly object to the war, as long as they do not wear their uniforms when expressing their opinions.
"We served in combat and we've seen the futility of this war,'' said Sgt. Jabbar Magruder of Los Angeles, a member of the National Guard who served 11 months in Tikrit, a town northwest of Baghdad. "The soldiers want to resist. The soldiers want to come home now. We need the citizens to back us.''
Top Iraqi Official Hits Bush War Plan
BBC World News
(January 18, 2007) — The comments by Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, made in a BBC interview, are seen as the strongest expression yet of Iraq's concern about the US approach to Iran. They follow two recent US raids in which Iranians were arrested.
The remarks are interesting as Mr Hakim is seen as close to President Bush, says the BBC's Andrew North in Baghdad. Mr Hakim also has close links to Iran, after many years in exile there.
Late last year, US troops descended on Mr Hakim's residential compound in Baghdad and detained two Iranian officials. They were later released, but last week, five more were detained at the Iranian liaison office in Irbil. They are still being held.
US officials say they are linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard which they allege trains and arms Iraqi insurgents.
Iran, which has demanded their immediate release, says they are diplomats engaged in legitimate work.
Iraq has sought to bring about a dialogue between the US, Iran and Syria, Mr Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, told the BBC.
Any tension between Washington and Tehran might have adverse consequences for Iraq, he said. "Regardless of the Iranian position we consider these actions as incorrect," Mr Hakim said. "They represent a kind of attack on Iraq's sovereignty and we hope such things are not repeated."
On Sunday, Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said that Iraq needed a constructive relationship with Iran. "We can't change the geographical reality that Iran is our neighbour. This is a delicate balance and we are treading a very thin line.
"We fully respect the views, policies and strategy of the United States, which is the strongest ally to Iraq, but the Iraqi government has national interests of its own," Mr Zebari said. Mr Hakim is said to be close to President George W Bush and has backed his new plan for Iraq.
Speaking after a lengthy meeting with Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, Mr Hakim said that, under the plan, Iraqi security forces would be in charge for the first time in four years, while the multinational troops provide support. "This came about at the request of the Iraqis. They met and decided to carry out these operations and be fully responsible while the multinational forces support them," said Mr Hakim.
Major New “End the War” Bill Introduced
• Take Action Now
Progressive Democrats of America
Yesterday, Reps. Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters introduced H.R. 508: The Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act , taking up the President’s challenge to come up with a plan for Iraq. Thirteen additional members have already signed on as co-sponsors. The bill would bring our troops home in six months.
It’s up to PDA activists to spread the word — to friends, relatives, co-workers, other activists…and to media of every type, including independent blogs and websites. H. R 508 is a concrete plan – not just a symbolic, non-binding resolution – that progressives and Democrats can rally around.
• Email your member of Congress
• Email Speaker Pelosi
Progressive Democrats of America http://pdamerica.org
Israeli Soldiers Speak Out
A searing interview with Avichai Sharon and Noam Chayut, both veterans of the Israeli Defense Forces and members of Breaking the Silence. Sharon and Chayut served during the second intifada, an on-going bloodbath that has claimed the lives of over three thousand Palestinians and nine-hundred-fifty Israelis.
After thorough introspection, these young men have chosen to speak out about their experiences as self-described "brutal occupiers of a disputed land."
• Video available at http://www.alternatefocus.org/