Bulletin for the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry
and Australians for War Powers Reform.

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War Memorial, Boston. Creative Commons attribute: DixieLawrence


21 January 2015

Dear members, supporters, readers and well-wishers,
This fortnight, commentary from Iraq has continued with reports of heavy military actions by the United States-led forces, concerns over the effectiveness of the actions growing, and speculation that we are in for a long war. Meanwhile hundreds of Yazidi captives of the group ISIS have been freed in Northern Iraq, while elsewhere ISIS have continued a campaign of “cruel and inhuman punishment” of civilians in areas under their control, according to the United Nations.

Our campaign begins the new year with many planned activities and a renewed commitment to driving the agenda on war powers reform in Australia.

To achieve the required impact we need to strengthen our financial resources, and we would ask you all to consider making a donation to our campaign efforts.
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CHEQUE payable to: ‘Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry’, and forwarded to the Hon Treasurer (Andrew Farran), c/- PO Box 7389, BEAUMARIS, Vic. 3193; or 

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As always, we look forward to your feedback, which you can provide to us directly.

Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry / AWPR

PS: Your help to strengthen the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry and our project, Australians for War Powers Reform, is always appreciated. Please forward this Bulletin to friends, colleagues or relatives you think may be interested! 
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Following the visit of PM Abbott to Iraq earlier in the month, David Crowe in the Australian reported that talks between Mr Abbott and the Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi were “to explore how to make the best use of the special forces already in Baghdad.”
Read more…
Martin Chulov in The Guardian this week reported on the growing concerns that a lack of political process in Iraq ‘risks further gains for Isis’. Chulov reports that Iraq’s vice-president for reconciliation, Iyad Allawi has called for a complete review of the military strategy.

“The whole strategy needs to be revisited and readdressed and the international allies should be part of this,” Allawi told the Guardian. “People are asking me what will come after Isis. What would be the destiny of [local] people? Are they going to be accused of supporting or defeating Isis? Would they be accused of being Ba’athists? It is going to be really difficult for them to engage without reconciliation.”
Read more…
Meanwhile, David Wroe in the Age this week reported on the increased dangers to Australian troops in Iraq who are dealing with roadside bombs in Iraq as part of their mission. He reports

“Defence has said that Australian special forces are already working closely with the Iraqis including tackling so-called improvised explosive devices – a more hands-on role than they were previously thought to be carrying out.”
Read more…

After much speculation and political advocacy, it has been reported that the Chilcot Inquiry into the UK role in the Iraq War will definitely be delayed until after the General Election in May this year. The Inquiry began in 2009 and took it’s last evidence in 2011. Read more…
The Guardian carried a short and succinct editorial summary of their views on why the Chilcot Inquiry must be released earlier in the month, under the headline ‘Time’s Up’. In it, the editor notes that there are several key reasons why the report is still incomplete, ending with the observation,

“In the end, the overarching reason may simply be that the Chilcot inquiry is independent – just as the war’s many critics always insisted, rightly, that it should be. The prime minister cannot order it to be published. Nor can parliament.”
Read more…

Our campaign has membership from a range of backgrounds and we seek a diversity of views and opinions in order to identify common ground. We select opinion pieces, views and analysis from our membership to include on our blog. This week, we have two pieces from Dr Alison Broinowski and Andrew Farran. 
Dr Broinowski writes of the expanding 'no-go' zones across the world, from the crime-ridden streets of major cities to the environmental devastation across the globe, as well as the imposition onto freedom of speech and information in Australia. She argues that

'The world has more than enough no-go zones: we must reclaim what we can and preserve what is left.' 
Andrew Farran writes on the growing 'mission creep' seen in the current conflict in Iraq and Syria. He reflects that 

'Our best defence against externally inspired terrorist attacks is to stand resolutely by our core values, to maintain sensible anti-terrorist measures that do not intrude unnecessarily on citizen's rights and freedoms while seeking better ways of integrating our diverse cultures, and to exercise our diplomatic skills in working with other like-minded governments to ameliorate conflict wherever we can.'

An interesting article from US blogger Joel Wing looks at the history and current activity of the Badr Organization in Iraq. His blog is titled Musings on Iraq.
Read more…
The Institute for the Study of War: Iraq Updates provides regular updates on the situation in Iraq, including maps detailing the control of terrain, direct conflict activity and deaths resulting from the war and ISIS activity.
Read more…
Listen Back to 2003. The BBC has been commemorating the 750th anniversary of the first British parliament. As part of this, contributors have been nominating their favourite parliamentary speeches of all time. Robin Cook’s infamous speech in March 2003 was nominated by Frank Doran MP. In this short and powerful speech, Robin Cook speaks of his concerns about entering the war in 2003 before announcing his resignation from the Blair government.
Listen back…

In his annual State of the Union address this week in the US, President Obama spoke about how the current conflict in Iraq is differing from the previous military engagements.

“Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group,” he stated. He went on to state,  “In Iraq and Syria, American leadership – including our military power – is stopping ISIL’s advance.”
However, as Kate Brannen in Foreign Policy journal notes,
“There is clearly a ground war raging in both countries, but the president’s view is that by sticking to airstrikes and keeping U.S. troops solely in a training mission, rather than a combat one, the U.S. can avoid getting ensnared in a potentially long and bloody ground war.”
Brannen writes that there are approximately 2,338 US troops deployed in Iraq according to the Defense Department’s latest estimate. She reports that the cost of military operations since airstrikes began in August has been “$1.2 billion, with a daily average cost of $8.2 million”.
President Obama indicated in the speech that he would seek a resolution through Congress to authorise use of force against ISIS, something strongly argued for by several Democratic senators as “needed in order to cover what is a very different mission than what was originally conceived.” Senator Kaine is one of those pushing for the new authorisation, noting after the speech,

“I hope that guidance is forthcoming soon…Five months of war has been far too long to make our service members and their families wait for a political consensus on the scope of the U.S. mission.”
Read more…
In other news from the State of the Union, President Obama stated that

“It makes no sense to spend three million dollars per prisoner to keep open a prison that the world condemns and terrorists use to recruit.”

The Washington Post reported on this, noting that

“In fiscal year 2014, the total cost of the Guantanamo Bay facility was $397 million, according to a Defense Department report. With approximately 155 detainees during the year, that averages out to about $2.6 million per detainee. Over the course of the past decade, the prison has cost a total of $8.2 billion, the report says.”
Read more…

“Straddling the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and stretching from the Gulf to the Anti-Taurus Mountains, modern Iraq occupies roughly what was once ancient Mesopotamia, one of the cradles of human civilisation.” - BBC

It is easy, in a time of on-going conflict and restricted news, to lose sight of the places caught up in war. Australia has been engaged in conflicts with the nation of Iraq since 1991, and arguably for many the name Iraq is now synonymous with war and terror. Therefore it is useful to look again at some of the history and facts of the nation, as the BBC offers in an online set of factsheets profiling Iraq.
Focused on the current era, you can get a sense of the media available in Iraq, the basic facts of population, life expectancy and GNI, and the current Prime Minister and President. The timeline provided focuses on the post-WWI era when Britain “created” the state of Iraq with the endorsement of the League of Nations. Like other profiles with statistics and timelines, told largely through a Western perspective, it does little to humanise the nation of Iraq, but it is a useful exercise to revisit the basics and to challenge the identity of the nation as one chiefly defined by war. It is, as are all nations, the product of politics and history, but also the home of over 33 million people.


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The views expressed in this bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry (Inc). Readers should note that the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry (Inc) seeks a diversity of views and opinions in order to identify common ground.
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