Jul 8, 2007

Synchronicity of Refused Refugees and Surging Soldiers: Oil Law Up

The Iraq that considers, signs, and ratifies the so-called Iraq Oil Law must be perceived as an Iraq with reasonably sufficient legitimacy in the eyes of the international community, lest the divvying up of the targeted petro-spoils of war that will come of the ramrodded legislation be peskily challenged down the road and denuded of convenient legal justifications for rallying further force to its defense.

Part and parcel of the frantic legitimizing and normalizing efforts at play (see the Surge) are the public diplomacy thrusts being directed at managing perceptions of Iraq as a reasonably stable and sovereign state.

Sorry, refugees. Nothing personal but you've just been swept up in the maelstrom of something both you and our troops have little say, sway, or pending dividends in; deep business.

Shit out of luck and jolly-well fucked.

Sweden, the top European destination for refugees from Iraq, will tighten its asylum rules and forcibly deport Iraqis who are denied permission to stay, immigration officials said Friday.

The announcement marked an abrupt change in the relatively lax immigration rules that had made Sweden a safe haven for thousands of Iraqis fleeing the chaos in their homeland.

The Swedes stood out among Europeans for their welcoming attitude to refugees fleeing the bloodshed in Iraq. More than 18,000 Iraqis have arrived in Sweden seeking asylum since 2006, the highest number recorded in Europe.

About 80 percent of asylum applications by Iraqis were approved in Sweden last year, but immigration officials said that number would drop as more stringent rules are enforced.

Previously granted asylum based on the general turmoil in their homeland, Iraqis now must show that they face specific threats of violence if they are sent back, Sweden's Migration Board said.

Previously granted asylum based on the general turmoil in their homeland, Iraqis now must show that they face specific threats of violence if they are sent back, Sweden's Migration Board said.

[C]ritics questioned why the Swedish authorities so suddenly decided to reinterpret existing asylum laws. Vandvik, of the ECRE, said the decision was disappointing, but not unexpected.

European governments are bracing for a massive increase in the ranks of Iraqi asylum-seekers, because refugees in Europe remain a fraction of the nearly 4 million people displaced since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Half of those are trapped inside Iraq, having fled their homes and possessions to avoid daily suicide bombings, roving death squads, abductions and other forms of sectarian violence. The other 2 million have found refuge in neighboring countries, mainly in Syria and Jordan, making Iraqis the largest group among asylum seekers worldwide.
-Excerpt, International Herald Tribune


Soon, she may have to pick up again, if immigration authorities deport her to Iraq - the country she fled after being raped, she says, by a gang member with ties to one of Saddam Hussein's sons.

Muhamed, who last month lost her bid to stay in this country in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, would be one of the very few people the U.S. government has sent back to Iraq in recent years.

Virginia Kice, spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the Department of Homeland Security "is still trying to develop a procedure" with the Iraqi government on deportations and is reviewing the issue case by case.

The situation confronting Muhamed is two-edged, observers say.

Sending someone to a country at war, especially when the U.S. is involved, is "extremely troubling," said Kareem Shora, national director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

Shora said his organization has spoken with the White House about granting Iraqis so-called temporary protected status, meaning they could legally stay in the U.S. until the situation changes in Iraq. But no decision has been made on the proposal, he said.

But not deporting Muhamed to Iraq also could pose problems, because it would mean that the federal government is admitting that the situation in Iraq is dangerous, which runs contrary to the notion that the U.S. military is building a safe democracy, said David Leopold, a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and an expert on immigration from the Mideast.

Muhamed's erratic course started with what could be described as a government-sponsored rape.

Though she was Sunni, Saddam's religion, she would not join the former Iraqi leader's Baath party. She says a member of a gang linked to Odday, one of Saddam's sons, raped her.

Michael A. Newton, acting associate clinical professor of law at Vanderbilt University of Law and an expert on Iraq, said the former Iraqi leader used rape to terrorize his country's citizens for at least a decade beginning in the 1980s. Members of Saddam's government even had business cards that read, "security rapists," Newton said.

Muhamed now speaks slowly because of Bell's palsy brought on by stress. Sitting on a leather sofa in her neat house with Iraqi beads and cloths draped on a coffee table, she refers to the rape obliquely at first - "Something happened." Then she offers piecemeal details.
-Excerpt, Las Vegas Sun

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