Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sulaimaniya: the Tombstone of Iraq.

Yesterday (9/19/07) I heard a radio piece about a Russian who is opening a casino in Sulaimaniya, Iraq, of all places. Apparently he has the first license and is going to be allowed to serve beer but not other types of alcohol. He said men come carrying their K-47s and have to check them at the door like Tombstone, Arizona, in the wild west days. He said he thinks the casino venture will be successful because the customers have good cars.

Okay, that is an interesting story. Apparently the leaders of this town in the Kurd controlled north, including the Mayor, have figured out a way to make gambling capitalism a part of their new "democracy" in a manner that doesn't offend too many rules of Islam. Perhaps, but I'm sure there is more to this story to come.

And perhaps today's (9/20/07) story in the BBC just might be related. The BBC reports the US has announced that it has captured an Iranian officer who is a member of the Quds force that the US is do determined to demonize.

Here's the beginning to the story:
Iranian officer 'seized in Iraq'

US-led forces in Iraq say they have arrested an Iranian officer operating in the north of the country.

They say the man was a member of the Quds Force - an elite unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guards - and was detained in the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya.

"This individual has been involved in transporting improvised explosive devices," the American military said.

The US has accused the Quds Force of helping arm Shia militias in Iraq. Iran denies any involvement with militants.

A statement by the US military said the arrested man had been involved in the "infiltration and training of foreign terrorists in Iraq".

Did you note the town in whcih the "Iranian officer" was detained, yep, Sulaimaniya.

Okay, they set up the story telling the US press release side of things. We have been conditioned to believe this is an evil man who is involved in "infiltration" and "transporting improvised explosive devises."

But is this real or just more US propaganda passed along by the BBC as a willing conduit?

Let's look at the rest of the story:

According to a spokesman for the regional government in semi-autonomous Kurdistan, he was taken away overnight in a raid on a Sulaimaniya hotel.

A government official in Baghdad said the arrested man had been part of a commercial delegation, but gave no further details.

Tehran says it supports the US-backed Iraqi government, and blames the violence on the continuing conflicts within Iraq since US-led forces toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Can you do the math? Let's see, he was arrested in a Sulaimaniya HOTEL, not in a camp training people to place IED. And the Iraqi government official says the Iranian was "part of a commercial delegation." That's is as least as reliable and credible as any thing tha tcomes from the US military.

Well now, I don't know, maybe its just my overactive imagination (or maybe its good intuition), but something about these two stories seems to go together. Was this so-called Quds officer actually "on holiday" to go to the new casino in Sulaimaniya? Was he there in cognito as a commercial delegation in a hotel so as not to get caught offending his Islamic community? Or was the commercial delegation there to witness how the new casino was going and possibly become backers or suppliers in the casino?

So far what we can feel is credibly established is (1) that an Iranian guy was kidnapped from his hotel by the US military; (2) the US has until now claimed without any evidence that the Quds force has been supplying IEDs to Iraqi insurgents; (3) the US is now trying to connect the Iranian Quds to provide the missing evidence of their claim, and (4) an Iraqi government official says the Iranian was part of a commercial delegation.

I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that whatever the Iranian was doing, he wasn't doing what the US military said he was doing.

For comparison with the reliability of the US military version of things, check out Greg Palast's report on the fake Sheik Abu Risha: Bush’s Fake Sheik Whacked: The Surge and the Al Qaeda Bunny and the video reporting that it is based on.

Whatever is going on in Sulaimaniya, it sounds like it is jumping with activity and with promises of get-rich-quick business deals and opportunities under the cover of capitalist democracy. I don't think we've heard the last of Sulaimaniya.

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