Saturday, March 05, 2011

Barack's cousin Jethro, Michelle's Granny





KUNA reports, "Thousands of Iraqi demonstrators are flowing to Baghdad and other Iraqi cities in what is called 'Friday of Dignity' in protest against poor services and boringly sluggish efforts against alleged corruption and fraud in Iraq." Prashant Rao (AFP) reports that, today, "a crowd of about 2,000 people had descended Baghdad's Tahrir Square by early afternoon, another 1,000 gathered i the southern city of Nasiriyah and about 300 were in the central city of Hilla." AGI notes, "The protesters mostly arrived on foot because of a ban on the movement of vehicles in the square." Bushra Juhi and Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) note Bahjat Talib had to stop at eight checkpoints to get from the Sadr City section of Baghdad to Tahrir Square and they quote him stating, "Our country is lost and for the last eight years the government has failed to offer services for people. Thousands of youths are without jobs." In Nineveh Province, the Dar Addustour live screen crawl noted, protesters have again demanded that the release of detainees and the expulsions of US forces from the country. Al Rafidayn adds security forces in Nineveh used water cannons and batons to disperse the crowd. American University Cairo's Firas al-Atraqchi Tweeted this observation about the Iraqi protests:
Thing about today's #Iraq protests is that they happened despite general curfew #Baghdad #karbala #Basra #Mosul #Najaf #Nasiriyah #diwaniya about 2 hours ago via web
The Day of Dignity follows last week's Day of Rage which saw protests across Iraq with demonstrators often attacked by police leaving less than 30 dead and hundreds injured. The attacks were not just on the demonstrators, Iraqi forces also attacked the press. Physically attacked the press. The groundwork for that physical attack was laid by Nouri who ordered forces to bust into news outlets and journalistic organizations in the days prior to last Friday's Day of Rage. In addition, Nouri also outlawed live broadcasts from Baghdad on that Friday. Through his actions, he sent the message that his government did not respect or support a free press and his thugs then acted accordingly -- in one instance, barging into a Baghdad restaurant and physically attacking four journalists who were eating lunch, beating them in the heads with the butts of their rifles and then arresting them. Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post) reminds, "Witnesses in Baghdad and as far north as Kirkuk described watching last week as security forces in black uniforms, tracksuits and T-shirts roared up in trucks and Humvees, attacked protesters, rounded up others from cafes and homes and hauled them off, blindfolded, to army detention centers. Entire neighborhoods -- primarily Sunni Muslim areas where residnets are generally opposed to Maliki, a Shiite -- were blockaded to prevent residents from joining the demonstrations. Journalists were beaten." In an essay on last Friday's protest, Danial Anas Kaysi (Foreign Policy) observes:
After the March 2010 elections, the Iraqi people waited close to ten months for their political representatives to agree on a framework and form a government (which is yet to be truly completed due to disputes concerning the naming of security ministers). Those were months in which the population continued to live in the shadow of an occupation, in face of high unemployment levels and in deteriorating conditions -- from low levels of electricity and water to mismanaged sewage systems and ration card provisions.
When Maliki was chosen, the Iraqi people continued to patiently await the creation of a national unity government capable of addressing their needs. All along, Maliki led a protracted campaign to retain the premiership, arguing that was Iraq's best choice in guiding it away from its woes at a time of uncertainty. While services were not central to his coalition's campaign, Maliki concentrated on his capability to impose the rule of law and bring back stability and security so that the country might begin to truly rebuild. Security could be quite the convincing argument had terrorist attacks decreased rather than increased, and had the prime minister not been creating police forces outside the regular chain of command, such as the infamous Baghdad Brigades, which is feared by the residents of the city.
The prime minister's image can no longer be built on a mirage of security and stability. Worsening conditions, coupled with clear corruption and an increase in terrorist attacks, have led people to lose trust in their local, provincial, and federal representatives. Two months after government formation, it has become clear to the people that it is one of a starkly political nature, formed through backroom deals and the placating of various factions.
Al Mada notes that yesterday a vehicle ban was placed on Basra in anticipation of the protest (in anticipation of curbing the protest) and those violating the ban will not have their vehicles returned until some time after Friday. Basra is where 23-year-old Salem Garuq al-Dosari died last Friday, killed for the 'crime' of protesting. In reply to a question about violence from McClatchy's Hannah Allam, AFP's Prashant Rao Tweeted:
@HannahAllam We have reports of a cameraman injured in Basra, but its not clear how. No violence reported to us against journos in Baghdad about 1 hour ago via TweetDeck
Aref Mohammed (Reuters) informs of today's Basra protest, "A Reuters reporter at the scene said some journalists were also beaten by security forces. A vehicle ban was in effect." J. David Goodman (New York Times) also notes the attacks on journalists ("beaten by authorities there"). The Dar Addustour live screen crawl noted Diyala, Kirkuk, Tikrit and Samarra were also placed under curfew. Ammar Karim (AFP) adds, "Nasiriyah, in the south, barred anyone from entering. Complete vehicle bans were also placed on every non-Kurdish province north of the capital, with protesters not even allowed near provincial governorate offices in the city of Mosul, after five demonstrators were killed and one building set ablaze in rallies there a week ago."
While bans were put in place, Al Mada reveaks that the Iraqi Jurists Association announced they would be participating in today's protests and called on the "legitimate" reforms protesters have demanded to be implemented. They also saluted the protesters noting that they have shown strength, that all Iraqis are one people and one destiny. Al Rafidayn reports that the protesters in Baghdad today found Tahrir Square cordoned off by security forces and that blockades were utilized to close down roads and prevent access to areas including the Green Zone and the Sinak Republic Bridge. Osama Mahdi (Kitabat) reports that protesters in Baghdad chanted "Liar Liar Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Liar Liar" and "Peaceful, Peaceful" while carrying flags and banners -- one banner read "Where did the people's money go?" Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post) notes that "security was tight as police in riot gear faced the demonstrators, and it was unclear whether crowds would become larger following Friday prayers. Many protesters in the square said they were nervous about staying there considering violence that followed last week's nationwide demonstrations." The crowds did increase despite many obstacles, going from hundreds before ten this morning to, Aref Mohammed (Reuters) estimates, "around 3,000," Tahrir Square is now being called "Iraqi Liberation Square". But not all who wanted to take part in Baghdad were able to. Alice Fordham and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) quote Hansa Hassan who says, "There were many people who wanted to participate but who were prevented; my husband insisted, and he managed to go in, but there were many barriers." NPR's Jonathan Blakley reported from Baghdad:
Most of the participants today were young people, waving Iraqi flags and plastic flowers. Many were college-age students, dressed in red and black caps and gowns, upset because, they say, they couldn't find work after graduation. Some demonstrators had walked for hours to get to Tahrir Square.
One Iraqi [home maker] said the protestors would "expose the thieves" -- referring to government corruption. She said people would march every Friday until their demands are met.
I've changed the term to "home maker." It's 2011 and I'd love to Alicia explain why NPR is using the term I'm not allowing at this site. Was today "Remember Glen Campbell Day"? I don't know. Reporting for Al Jazeera (link goes to Al Jazeera's YouTube page which provides a live feed) from Baghdad, Jane Arraf stood in front of a large crowd gathered in Tahrir Square explaining the thousands "have walked for hours to come to this square," that the government had put up conrecte blocks at the end of Sinak Republic Bridge and walled off the Green Zone and "despite this, thousands of people came to chant that they believe the government they elected are liars and they can do better." Iraqi Streets 4 Change has a photo essay of the Baghdad protest at the top of their web page.

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Iraqis again storm the streets for change"
"I Hate The War"
"Spinach Dip in the Kitchen"
"El Spirito Sunday"
"The Casual Lunch"
"Eric Holder, stop setting us back"
"The creep and layoffs"
"wasted time"
"Got to side with him on this"
"Senator Daniel Akaka"
"Not a surprise about JT"
"Send Me No Flowers"
"On Damon and Betty"
"Reflecting on 2008"
"Idiot of the week goes to . . ."
"Don't they teach math in Indonesia?"

No comments: