Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Big, whiny baby






The National notes the cry for Iraq to defend their Christian community in 2008:
The question now is: what were the government's measures since 2008 to preserve one of Iraq's components from opression and violence?
Unfortunately, nothing has been done. It is easy to accuse al Qa'eda of brutal massacres, but the country's Christians are publicly targeted and are beseeching the government to provide their security, but what did Nouri al Maliki's government offer them?
The targeting of minorities could lead to the fragmentation of Iraq and the disruption of its cultural and political fabric. No one can guarantee that the Lebanese Christians won't be targeted in the future.
This comes as Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports that al Qaeda in Mesopotamia has postead a statement online that it will launch more attacks on Iraqi Christians, referring to Pope Benedict XVI as "the hallucinating tyrant of the Vatican" and declaring Iraqi Christians will be "extirpated and dispersed." They state: "All Christin centres, organisations and institutions, leaders and followers, are legitimate targets for the muhadjideen wherever they can reach them. We will open upon them the doors of destruction and rivers of blood." Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) observes, "While Iraqi Christians have been under siege since the fall of Saddam Hussein, the sudden public threats mark a new development." AFP reports al Qaeda in Mesopotamia is insisting that Camilia Shehata and Wafa Constantine -- married to two priests in Egypt -- are being imprisoned in Egypt because they "willingly converted to Islam." Really? Now they're concerned about forced conversions?
Angus Crawford (BBC News) reported on the forcible conversions of the pacifistic Mandaens in Iraq by Islamic militants including tennage Luay who was kidnapped, forcibly circumcised ("a practice not allowed in the Mandaean religion") or Mandaen Enhar who they 'punished' for reufsing to wear a veil by gang-raping her. Do we want to talk about the Yazidis or any of the other religious minorities in Iraq? The persecution has taken place with Nouri refusing to do a damn thing. That point's made today by The National, it was made when over 200 Yazidis were killed in August of 2007 and the KRG's Khaled Salih stated "because of the inaction of the government in Baghdad and their inability to protect the population they are suffering the way they are now." Sabean-Mandaen Layla told her story to Jennifer Utz (Huffington Post -- link has text and video) -- about fleeing "in 2005 after a militia group wearing Iraqi police uniforms kidnapped her husband, and following his refusal to convert to Islam, tortured and killed him in front of their 13 year-old son." You can find more of Jennifer Utz' work at Iraqi Refugee Stories. While we're noting the religious minorities, Yezidi Human Rights Organization-International continues to attempt to correct some misconceptions about their religion -- we noted the reality a few years ago when a major US daily newspaper wrongly called them devil worshipers and we'll note their statement now:
In the past 20 years to present, especially since the internet has become the easiest way to find information regarding whatever a person wish to search for. We have seen that more than 99% of the writers accusing the innocent Yezidi as devil worshipers, this is absolutely pure fiction. During the Saddam's era the Yezidis were misclassified as Arab in ethnicity by force. Although Saddam has gone, but the Kurds have come to power in Northern Iraq since 1991, and they are forcing the innocent Yezidis to be misclassified as Kurdish, again this time under KRG's brutal and dictatorial system. All these are misleading, untruth, and pure fiction about the innocent Yezidis (Ezdae). Because of all these misunderstanding the truth about the Yezidis, we have been attacked hundreds of times in the past 1000 years to present, therefore we (Ezdae) have lost millions of innocent Yezidis in brutal and inhumane attacks against this most indigenous and peaceful nation in the world today.
We have and will continue to note Yezidis as Krudish if they self-identify as Kurdish to the press (some do). We've also noted -- especially in the 2008 wave of attacks -- when Yezidis did not identify as Kurdish. (Some who did not identify as such voiced their opinion that the KRG was behind the attacks on them in an effort to force them to accept 'protection.') There are many religious minorities in Iraq. The Baha'i Faith still has an estimated 2,000 members in Iraq and that may not be a choice. Under Saddam Hussein, they were not allowed passports or various other papers and documents which meant they couldn't leave Iraq. Nouri's government made a big-to-do about how they were going to be issuing identity and residency papers to them finally (back in May 2007) but that hasn't come to pass in reality. Mideast Youth notes that since the announcement "only about six or seven Baha'i identity papers" have been issued. As with all the problems facing Iraq's religious minorities, Nouri's done nothing. He's sometimes made a show of pretending to do something, but he's not done a damn thing.
Related: Iraq's been using 'wands' purchased from England to 'find' bombs -- they require you 'start' them by basically high stepping in place for a half-minute or more. They are a joke and ineffective and that's been known for some time (the UK has banned their sale) but only now can the 'government' in Iraq catch on. Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reports today that this 'new' finding by Iraq's Minister of the Interior "was unsurprising. But in today's Iraq, it had the potential to be politically explosive. What the ministry did in response to the inspector general's conclusion speaks volumes about how the Iraqi government works these days - and why so often it doesn't." Dropping back to the January 22nd snapshot:
Caroline Hawley (BBC Newsnight -- link has text and video) reports that England has placed an export ban on the ADE-651 'bomb detector' -- a device that's cleaned Iraq's coffers of $85 million so far. Steven Morris (Guardian) follows up noting that, "The managing director [Jim McCormick] of a British company that has been selling bomb-detecting equipment to security forces in Iraq was arrested on suspicion of fraud today."
And before that, November 3, 2009, Rod Nordland (New York Times) would report that retired Lt Col Hal Bidlack was explaining these 'magic wands' operate "on the same principle as a Ouija board" meaning "the power of suggestion" and that Nouri's government or 'government' was wasting between $16,500 to $60,000 a piece on these wands (of which they "purchased more than 1,500"). Bidlack's best discussion of the wands may have been to Richard Roth (CBS Evening News with Katie Couric -- link has text and video) where he explained, "They're fine for fooling a 4-year-old at a birthday party, but they're immoral if they're trying to save lives at a checkpoint." All this time and only now is Iraq admitting the wands don't work. Accountability and transparency don't exist in Nouri's Iraq. But he thinks he should continue as prime minister?
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's seven months and twenty-seven days and still counting.
Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters) notes that Iraq's Parliament is currently set to meet on Monday -- that may or may not take place (court order not withstanding) -- and that it's possilbe a motion could be put forward favoring Nouri. Should that be attempted, it's equally possible that enough members could storm out of the session leaving the Parliament without a quorum. BBC News quotes acting speaker Fouad Masum stating that Monday will see the election of "the president of the parliament and his two associates" -- which would not refer to the presidency (currently Jalal Talabani) and the vice presidencies (currently Shi'ite Adil Abdul-Mahdi and Sunni Tariq al-Hashimi) but would refer to the post of Speaker and two associates -- and BBC correspondent Jim Muir expresses his belief that the signs lean towards Nouri remaining prime minister -- but, to be clear, the Speaker said nothing about taking up that matter on Monday. Equally true, if Nouri was named prime minister every time the press declared he was about to be named prime minister, March 8th would have seen him crowned (Quil Lawrence was pimping Nouri the day after the elections). Jomana Karadsheh and Arwa Damon (CNN -- link has text and video) report on the statements and announcements and they make no claims that the prime minister will be chosen Monday: "While the speaker election may be a step toward getting the political process back in motion, there is little if any indication that talks to form an inclusive government have made any progress." On CNN, Errol Barnett spoke with the International Institute For Stragic Studies' Mamoun Fandy about yesterday's attack and wondered whether it might either result in further delays for the political process or whether it might in fact speed things up?
Mamoun Fandy: Well there are two things here. First of all, as Arwa [Damon] pointed out, we have a process that's deadlocked for the last eight months and there's an insistence on the part of Prime Minister Maliki and his group on forming a sectarian government and there's a general perception in Iraq -- as well as outside of Iraq -- that this government has been sectarian and that violence is a response to the dominance of extreme Shia trends within the government that's marginalizing the Sunnis, the Kurds and the Christians and everybody else. Now this violence could very much focus the attention of the politicians that the price is really high and it is urgent for them to heed the call of [KRG President] Masoud Barzani and his group in Kurdistan to form a government or to heed the call of King Abdullah [II] of Saudi Arabia who invited all the Iraqis to come to Riyadh -- and have a discussion of how to form a government -- in two weeks after the Hajj [pilgrimage].

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
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"'A big blow for the White House'"
"I ain't your buddy, Biden"
"don't blame the voters"
"Halloween and candy"
"If I could be any politician running for election today"
"The results?"
"A faux lefty"
"Election night!"
"Not all that popular after all"

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