Iraq's 'National Sovereignty Day' is U.S.-Style Hallmark Hype

The puppet government in Iraq has named June 30 as "National
Sovereignty Day," and-without mentioning the hundreds of thousands of
Iraqis maimed, killed, tortured or made refugees by the US invasion and
occupation-thanked the occupiers for placing them in power. "President"
Jalal Talabani termed today "a glorious day," saying, "While we
celebrate this day, we express our thanks and gratitude to our friends
in the coalition forces who faced risks and responsibilities and
sustained casualties and damage
while helping Iraq to get rid from the ugliest dictatorship and during
the joint effort to impose security and stability."

Meanwhile the Iraqi "Prime Minister" Nouri al Maliki-clearly living
in his Green Zone bubble-stated: "The national united government
succeeded in putting down the sectarian war that was threatening the
unity and the sovereignty of Iraq," adding, "Those who think that
Iraqis are unable to defend their country are committing a fatal
mistake." Perhaps Maliki has been hanging out too much by the swimming
pools and cabanas in the Green Zone and missed these events:

There was a significant spike in violence before the June
30 withdrawal. More than 250 people were killed in a series of
bombings, including one on June 20 that left 81 dead outside a mosque
in northern Iraq and another in a Baghdad market on June 24 that killed

As we listen to these proclamations from Iraqi "government" officials praising their fake holiday, let's remember this fact from veteran journalist Patrick Cockburn, who has covered Iraq more than almost any other Western journalist:

Iraq is the world's premier kleptomaniac state. According to
Transparency International the only countries deemed more crooked than
Iraq are Somalia and Myanmar, while Haiti and Afghanistan rank just
behind. In contrast to Iraq, which enjoys significant oil revenues,
none of these countries have much money to steal.

In a grotesquely symbolic move, the Iraqi government marked
"National Sovereignty Day" by "open[ing] up some of its massive oil and
gas fields to foreign firms," according to the Wall Street Journal:
"In a televised ceremony, international oil companies were invited to
submit bids for six oil and two gas fields, a process that marked their
return to
the country over 30 years after Mr. Hussein nationalized the oil sector
and expelled the foreign firms. The fields on offer hold about 43
billion of Iraq's 115 billion barrels of crude reserves - among the
largest in the world." Among the companies bidding were the Western oil
giants ExxonMobil and BP (which reportedly won a contract on Tuesday).
As The New York Timesreported,
"A total of 8 of the world's 10 top non-state oil companies are
competing for licenses to help develop six oil fields and two natural
gas fields."

While the U.S. has hyped up the "handover" to the
Iraqis, it is largely a show. Underscoring that point, the top US
military commander in the Iraqi capital, Maj. Gen. Daniel Bolger,
handed over the keys to the former Iraqi Defense Ministry to an Iraqi
military commander and spoke of how now "Iraqis take the lead in
Baghdad." To keep up appearances, the US military, according to The New York Times,
has begun "ordering soldiers to remain in garrison for the next few
days to give the Iraqis a chance to demonstrate that they are in
control." Note the phrase "for the next few days." As for the official
ceremonies marking Iraqi "Independence Day," the Times reports:

The military parade in the Green Zone on Tuesday - at the
official monument to the unknown soldier - was attended primarily by
Iraqi reporters and dignitaries. The public could not reach it because
of extensive security restricting access to the area. [...] Many of
the celebrations on Tuesday seemed contrived. Police cars were
festooned with plastic flowers, and signs celebrating "independence
day"were tied to blast walls and fences around the city. On Monday,
night a festive evening celebration in Zahra Park with singers and
entertainers drew primarily young men, many of them off-duty police

** The Washington Post's Ernesto Londono, whose report reads like Iraqi "government" propoganda (it begins: "This is no longer America's war."), reports:

Anchors on state-run television wore folded Iraqi flags
over their shoulders, and the station kept a graphic of a small Iraqi
flag waving under the date "6/30" on the top left corner of the screen.

Away from the show, US forces will indeed remain
in Iraqi cities to "to train and advise Iraqi forces," while huge
numbers position themselves just outside the cities and could redeploy
or strike in moments:

The U.S. hasn't said how many troops will be in the cities
in advisory roles, but the vast majority of the more than 130,000 U.S.
forces remaining in the country will be in large bases scattered
outside cities.

While a lot of the media hype today focuses on the US "withdrawal," that is hardly the reality. As previously reported,
U.S. military commanders have said they are preparing for an Iraq
presence for another 15-20 years, the US embassy is the size of Vatican
City, there is no official plan for the withdrawal of contractors and
new corporate mercenary contracts are being awarded. The Status of
Forces Agreement (SoFA) between the US and Iraq gives the U.S. the
right to extend the occupation indefinitely and to continue intervening
militarily in Iraq ad infinitum. Article 27
of the SoFA allows the U.S. to undertake military action, "or any other
measure," inside Iraq's borders "In the event of any external or
internal threat or aggression against Iraq."

As the airwaves and
internet are flooded with reports of this new Iraqi sovereignty and
U.S. withdrawal, it is important to remember a bit of history. Five
years ago-almost to the day- President Bush put on an almost identical
show. His proconsul L. Paul Bremer "handed over sovereignty" to the
Iraqi government just before he skulked out of Baghdad on a secret
flight (right after he issued an order banning Iraq from prosecuting
contractors). Despite the pronouncements and proclamations and media
hype, the occupation continued and real sovereignty was non-existent.

It is very doubtful that-decades from now-Iraqis will tell their
grandchildren about where they were on June 30, 2009, "National
Sovereignty Day." At the end of the day, this is U.S.-style Hallmark
hype and will remain so until every last occupation soldier leaves
Iraqi soil.

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