Santa Cruz resident Matt Childers, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, testified at the Winter Soldier hearings held last month in Silver Springs, Maryland. Matt served two deployments to Iraq as an infantryman with the U.S. Marines. Originally from West Virginia, he now makes his home in Santa Cruz and is a student at Cabrillo College. His testimony was given as part of a panel on racism and dehumanization of the enemy in Iraq.
Fighting between Iraqi government forces and militias loyal to Moqtada Sadr erupted March 25th in Basra. Fighting quickly engulfed Baghdad's Sadr City and spread to other towns. On March 28th, US planes bombed alleged Mehdi Army positions both in Basra and in Baghdad. Despite the US intervention, government troops were unable to pierce Mehdi Army defenses or over-run their positions. The police force in Basra suffered numerous mutinies. On Sunday, March 30th, Sadr called on followers to cease offensive operations in an apparent deal with Maliki's political party negotiated in Iran without Maliki's own support.
On December 23rd,
Turkey bombed northern Iraq for the second time in a week, in attacks aimed at the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK).
Massoud Barzani, the leader of Iraq's northern Kurdish region, has condemned the Turkish air strikes, saying innocent civilians were killed.
The Turkish ambassador announced that the US military provided real-time intelligence to Turkey and was "very helpful" in allowing Turkey to launch the attacks.
Elsewhere in Iraq, the widely reported drop in violence coinciding with the US "surge" has been to some extent a result of the US arming of groups openly hostile to both the Iraqi central government and the US occupation.
On Monday September 17th
Iraq's Interior Ministry revoked the license of Blackwater USA
and demanded that all employees leave the country.
The ban followed a Sunday gunbattle in Baghdad that left eight civilians dead.
The Interior Ministry said authorities will prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force and
"all those responsible for Sunday's killing will be referred to Iraqi justice."
On Tuesday, the Iraqi government softened its stance, saying that the ban on Blackwater was not permanent, but warned it planned to review the legal immunity of all private security companies.
On Wednesday August 15th
, 4 car bombs killed up to 500 people and wounded many more in two Northern Iraqi Yazidi villages. As sectarian violence increases across the country, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has announced a new ruling coalition that contains no Sunni representation.
Two Iraqi trade union leaders on a speaking tour of the United States called for rejection of the new oil law being considered in the Iraqi parliament. The law was secretly written in Houston in favor of the U.S. oil companies long before it was ever seen by any member of the Iraqi parliament. If passed, the new oil law would effectively turn over all new oil fields to the control of foreign oil companies.
Speaking before an enthusiastic audience of approximately 125 people in the Laborers Hall in San Jose on Sunday, June 10, the two Iraqi trade union leaders from Basra agreed that the U.S. occupation must end.
Both leaders clearly indicated that the U.S. occupation itself creates sectarian violence and reduces security.
On June 12th
, the minarets of the Al-Askariya mosque in Samarra, one of the most revered shrines of Shiite Islam, were reduced to rubble. The mosque was supposed to be one of the most carefully defended locations in Iraq due to its religious significance to Shiites and the violence that followed the bombing of its golden dome in 2006.