Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The poetic primary






The Iraq War destroyed the lives of many in Iraq, women, Christians, Jews and Palestinians among them. In 2006, Ken Ellingwood (Los Angeles Times) observed, "The civil war convulsing the country has raised worries about the fate of the approximately 20,000 Palestinians in Iraq, who are targeted by kidnappers and Shiite Muslim death squads because of what many Iraqis see as the group's favored status under former President Saddam Hussein." Ali Kareem (ICR) offered this background on Iraq's Palestinian population in 2009:
Many Palestinian families have roots in this country dating to the creation of Israel in 1948 and its subsequent wars with its Arab neighbours. Others came more recently. Following his defeat in the first Gulf War in 1991, Saddam Hussein encouraged the migration of thousands of Palestinians to Iraq, promising jobs and preferential treatment in an effort to portray himself as a champion of oppressed Arabs.
According to the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, Baghdad was home to some 30,000 Palestinians at the time of the US-led invasion in 2003. Less than half remain in the city now.
Last fall, Saed Bannoura (International Middle East Media Center) explained that from a high of 35,000, the population had declined to approximately 7,000. A huge drop like that happens only because a population is living in fear and feeling that the government will not protect them. That has been the case for Palestinians in Iraq. The current prime minister is Nouri al-Maliki who has been prime minister since April 2006 and has done nothing to protect the Palestinian population. In fact, from 2006 to 2010 refugee camp Al Tanf housed hundreds of Palestinians who were caught in the desert, unable to move forward to Syria (Saddam Hussein did not consider them residents in or citizens of Iraq, they were "bretheren" and, as such had no legal documents that the Syrian government would recognize at the border) and unable to go back to their homes. They were left there by Nouri with no efforts made to assist them. The United Nations would set up temporary tents for the refugees. But Nouri did nothing. Offered no aid. Offered no verbal comfort. Just didn't give a damn. And when the Palestinians are attacked, the killers and kidnappers are never brought to justice. Nouri makes no public statements decrying the targeting. The message to Iraq's thug population has been, "Attack them. You will not face punishment."
And that thug population includes the security forces Nouri al-Maliki commands. 30-year-old Palestinian Emad Abdulsalam died last week. Ahlul Bayt News Agency reports the man was arrested in Doura three days ago and was tortured non-stop by Iraqi forces which notes the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq "said that Palestinians have been the target of 'Death squads and militias' over the past six years under the very eyes of the government." The International Middle East Media Center gives his name as Imad Abdul-Salaam Abu Rabee and notes that Iraqi police grabbed him after he left work and was heading home. Imad's family sought out a forensic center in Baghdad which determined "that their son was killed under interrogation." The International Middle East Media Center notes:

It is worth mentioning that Abu Rabee' is married and a father of two children. His brother was killed by insurgents in Baghdad last year. He was born and raised in Iraq; his family is from the Al Boreij refugee camp, in the Gaza Strip.
Sa'ad voiced an appeal to the Palestinian Authority to act on resolving the plight of the Palestinian refugees in Iraq as soon as possible as they are being attacked and murdered by the Iraqi Police and by several militias in the country.
Ma'an News adds, "[The Society for Palestinian-Iraqi Brotherhood Imad Abdul Salam] Khalil said Palestinian refugees in Iraq have been targeted for sectarian reasons. International rights group Amnesty International says Iraqi forces use arbitrary detentions and torture to quell dissent." Nouri's forces have tortured another person to death. And it comes right as Nouri was hoping the news cycle would be dominated by the 16 "confessions" against Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi which state-TV Iraqiya has been in a frenzy over. [Aswat al-Iraq: "Noteworthy is that the semi-official al-Iraqiya TV Satellite Channel had carried out an urgent report on Sunday, reporting that 16 members of Tariq Hashimy's bodyguards were charged with having been involved in terrorist acts, a report that was condemned, because it did not represent anything new in the series of charges against Hashimy and his bodyguards and office elements."]
Imad Abdul-Salaam Abu Rabee's death is part of the violence in today's news cycles. Reuters notes a Muqdadiya clash in which one police officer and one "civilian" were left injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing which left two Sahwa injured, 2 Mosul roadside bombings left one police officer and his son injured, a Mosul sticky bombing injured a police officer, a Baghdad sticky bombing injured a military officer and a Shirqat sticky bombing injured a police officer. So that's 1 death and nine injured for today.
Let's go over the monthy totals -- the number wounded are in parentheses. January 1st, 9 were reported dead (21). January 2nd, 0 were reported dead (3). January 3rd, 3 were reported dead (13). January 4th, 9 were reported dead (17). January 5th, 75 were reported dead (80). January 6th, 3 were reported dead (20). January 7th, 7 were reported dead (25). January 8th, 3 were reported dead (20). January 9th, 20 were reported dead (59). January 10th, 12 were reported dead (3). January 11th, 6 were reported dead (14). January 12th, 6 were reported dead (25). January 13th, 6 were reported dead (32). January 14th, 53 were reported dead (157). January 15th, 21 were reported dead (0). January 16th, 0 were reported dead (0). January 17th, 10 were reported dead (5). January 18th, 6 were reported dead (5). January 19th, 4 were reported dead (8). January 20th, 6 were reported dead (5). January 21st, 7 were reported dead (1). January 22nd, 7 were reported dead (6). January 23rd, 2 were reported dead (5). January 24th, 20 were reported dead (86). January 25th, 1 was reported dead (1). January 26th, 14 were reported dead (8). January 27th, 37 were reported dead (0), January 28th, 7 reported dead (10). January 29th, 7 were reported dead (20). January 30th, 10 reported dead (11). January 31st, 1 reported dead (9).
Check my math (always), that's at least 371 reported dead and 669 reported injured. Many deaths aren't reported in Iraq. Iraq Body Count currently lists "450 civilians killed" as of Monday for the month of January and that's about seventy more than they had for January 2011. (Go with their number, it's not covering every death but it's more comprehensive than our snapshots.) So comparing January in the two years, violence is not dropping, it has in fact increased.
During that entire year, please note, Iraq has had no Minister of Defense, no Minister of Interior and no Minister of National Security. Nouri al-Maliki has refused to nominate anyone and have Parliament vote. From the December 21, 2010 snapshot:
Shashank Bengali and Mohammed al-Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) report point out the Cabinet is missing "the key ministries responsible for security and military affairs for now, because lawmakers haven't agreed on who should fill them. There's still no deal, either, on creating a yet-to-be named strategic council -- a U.S.-backed initiative aimed at curbing al-Maliki's powers -- which lawmarkers said could be weeks away." Liz Sly and Aaron Davis (Washington Post) explain, "Maliki appointed himself acting minister of interior, defense and national security and said the three powerful positions would be filled with permanent appointees once suitable candidates have been agreed on."
A Minister of a Cabinet is someone nominated by Nouri and approved by Parliament. Without the approval of Parliament, they are not a minister. Why does that matter? Nouri can't fire a member of his Cabinet without Parliament's approval. But 'acting' ministers (named by Nouri) are not approved by Parliament, are not real ministers and serve at the whim of Nouri. It's a power grab on Nouri's part as is his failure to name a "national strategic councill."
That is part of the Erbil Agreement. The US-brokered that agreement with Iraqi political blocs to end the political stalemate that had desceneded on Iraq and lasted eight months. Nouri signed off on that agreement. It's that agreement that allowed him to become prime minister. He created the stalemate after his State of Law came in second to Iraqiya and Nouri refused to give up the post of prime minister. The White House backed Nouri and that's the only reason Nouri remains prime minister. The White House talked Iraqiya and its leader into accepting the post of heading the "national strategic council." And yet, the day after the Erbil Agreement was reached, when Parliament held its first real (and full) session of Parliament, Nouri's State of Law announced they couldn't create it right away but it would come. A large number of Iraqiya's 91 MPs walked out at that point. They should have stuck to that walk out but they returned. And waited and waited. Nouri now says that the council can't be created. He claims the Erbil Agreement -- the thing that allows him to be prime minister right now -- is unconstitutional. The current political crisis is fueled by Nouri's refusal to follow the Erbil Agreement. Alsumaria TV reports today, "President of Kurdistan Region Masoud Al Barzani assured, on Monday, that Kurds may no longer play the mediator role in solving Iraq's issues. Barazani added that bases upon which the current government was formed are not being respected. The current government was formed to reinforce true partnership, comply with Iraqi Constitution, and fix disputes between Erbil and Baghdad, Barzani revealed."
He is prime minister because the White House chose to back him. And they knew he was a thug. The whole world did by that point. In fact, when the Cabinet was (partially) named at the end of December 2010, Liz Sly (Washington Post) was noting:
That Maliki has an authoritarian streak has been amply demonstrated over the past 4 1/2 years, critics say. Maliki, originally selected in 2006 as a compromise candidate assumed to be weak and malleable, has proved to be a tough and ruthless political operator who cannily subverted parliament to cement his authority over many of the new democracy's fledgling institutions.
In his role as commander in chief of the armed forces, he replaced divisional army commanders with his appointees, brought provincial command centers under his control and moved to dominate the intelligence agencies.
The widely feared Baghdad Brigade, which answers directly to Maliki's office, has frequently been used to move against his political opponents. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused him of operating secret prisons in which Sunni suspects have been tortured.

And thug Nouri had the support of the Bush administration before he had the support of the Barack administration. The "compromise" candidate Sly refers to? Iraqis didn't select him. They wanted Ibrahim al-Jaafari. The US told the Iraqi Parliament no in 2006. The Bush White House approved of Nouri. In 2010, the Barack White House made clear that there would be no new prime minister -- despite the will of the Iraqi voters and the Iraqi Constitution -- the Barack White House made clear that Nouri would remain as prime minister. They knew he was a thug. Democracy in Iraq and the Iraqi people mattered less to them than their oil puppet.
As the death toll mounts and does so under yet another US-installed puppet. William Fisher (The Public Record) notes:

Human Rights Watch is charging that, despite U.S. government assurances that it helped create a stable democracy, the reality is that it left behind a "budding police state" -- cracking down harshly during 2011 on freedom of expression and assembly by intimidating, beating, and detaining activists, demonstrators, and journalists.
The organization's Middle East and North Africa director, Sarah Leah Whitson, warns that "Iraq is quickly slipping back into authoritarianism as its security forces abuse protesters, harass journalists, and torture detainees."

Last week, the Associated Press quoted Human Rights Watch's Sarah Leah Whitson stating, 'Iraq is quickly slipping back into authoritarianism. Despite U.S. government assurances that it helped create a stable democracy (in Iraq), the reality is that it left behind a budding police state'." She was referring to what Human Rights Watch found and documented in their [PDF format warning] World Report: 2012.

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