Saturday, February 25, 2012
Friday, February 24, 2012
The Washington Post's Asaad Alazawi and Ernesto Londono observe, "Iraqi officials did not provide an official death toll, and few appeared on television to speak about, or condemn, the attacks. Osama al-Nujaifi, the Iraq parliament's Speaker, said the attacks represented an attempt to 'flare up strife' among Iraqis."
The wave of attacks were spread across ten locations. RT notes, "The violence started with a drive-by shooting in Baghdad and was followed by blasts inside and outside the capital." Salam Faraj and Mohamad Ali Harissi (AFP) count 16 car bombings and 8 roadside bombings and note Baghdad, Babil, Diyala, Slaheddin, Kirkuk and Nineveh were all hit. Rick Dewsbury (Daily Mail) notes, "The coordinated bombings and shootings unfolded over four hours in the capital Baghdad -- where most deaths were -- and 11 other cities. They struck government offices, restaurants and one in the town of Musayyib hit close to a primary school." Vatican Radio (link is audio) reported on the atta
Charles Collins: It was one of the bloodiest days in Iraq since US troops pulled out in mid-December. In Baghdad, at least 10 explosions tore through mainly Shia neighborhoods during rush hour and other attacks targeted police patrols, commuters and crowds gathered in shopping areas. One bomb went off near a school injuring several children. There were also attacks in Baquba, Mosul and Kirkuk and the province of Salaheddin. Tensions have grown since Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki moved against senior members of a predominantly Sunni political bloc, accusing them of ties to death squads. The blasts hit just weeks before Baghdad plans to host an Arab League Summit which was cancelled last year due to fears of violence in the county.
Adrian Blomfield (Telegraph of London) observes of Baghdad, "Witnesses spoke of seeing wrecked cars and blood stains on the floors and chains of an ice cream shop. One attack claimed six lives in Kadhimiya district, where bombs exploded along a restaurant lined street filled with people having breakfast and morning coffees." 50 dead and "hundreds injured" throughout the country. Asaad Alazawi and Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) count 52 dead and add, "The majority of attacks, which were carried out with car bombs and small arms, appeared to target security forces in the capital and other cities, authorities said." The death toll continued to rise throughout the day. Kareem Raheem (Reuters) noted the death toll has risen to 60. By the end of the day, the Wall St. Journal was reporting the deaths had risen to 70.
BBC News offers a series of photos of the aftermath here. Globe and Mail offers four photos here. The Telegraph of London offers video here. Jack Healy (New York Times) notes mourners in Baghdad's Karrada neighborhood where 16-year-old Sajad Montasire died waiting "for a minibus to take him to school" and quotes his brother Mustafa explaining, "He just had his breakfast, took his books and left walking. I heard the explosion, I ran into the street, and I found his shoe." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) explains Sunnis were targeted (not just Shi'ites) and quotes Iraq Body Count's Hamit Dardagan stating, "The situation is worsening [January's count of over 400 dead] shows a constant level of violence that doesn't seem to let up." Al Arabiya notes the death toll from today's attacks has risen to 70. Nizar Latif (The National Newspaper) notes that the Interior Ministry rushed to blame al Qaeda in Mesopotamia but MP Hassan Jihad -- who serves on the Parliament's Security and Defense Committee -- notes that "the attacks show that the Iraqi armed forces and the country's security apparatus were not where they need to be." It should be noted that the Deputy Minister at the Interior Ministry feels Iraq's security forces have had enough training. (He advised the US government to spend the money for training Iraqi security forces on something in the United States instead.) It should also be noted that he unofficially runs the Ministry of the Interior. That's because, in his second term as prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki has refused to appoint a Minister of the Interior. In addition, Nouri's refused to appoint a Minster of Defense or a Minister of National Security. (Technically, he's refused to nominate. Parliament votes up or down on the nominee. But Nouri's refused to offer nominees to head those three security ministries.) Nouri's named prime minister-designate in November 2010. Per the Constitution, he is to form a (full) Cabinet -- that includes each nominee being approved by Parliament. At the end of December 2010, he was unconstitutionally moved from prime minister-designate to prime minister despite having failed at the Cabinet (which should have meant President Jalal Talabani named a new prime-minister designate who would then have 30 days to try to form a Cabinet). During this period with no heads of the three security ministries, violence has been on the rise. Over a year later, Nouri has still not named people to head the security ministries and a National Alliance member recently revealed that the National Alliance (Nouri's State of Law, Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc and the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq are the three biggest blocs in the National Alliance) doesn't want anyone named to the posts. They'd prefer that, for the duration of Nouri's term, the ministries remain headless.
Press TV emphasizes that today's "deadly violence comes weeks before an Arab League summit scheduled to be held in Iraq at the end of March." Al Mada notes that 13 Arab leaders are expected to participate in the summit and that the US has had "a big role" in persuading Arab leaders to attend. Ali A. Nabhan, Sam Dagher and Jabbar Yaseen (Wall St. Journal) explain:
The latest violence also casts a shadow over Iraq's quest to host the Arab League's summit of leaders on March 29. It would be the first such meeting since uprisings swept through the Arab world, toppling four leaders and besieging the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Last year's summit was postponed because of the events. Iraq has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into preparations for the summit and a team from the Arab League met with Iraq Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on Monday to discuss security and other arrangements.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Baghdad reaction to today's attacks:
"What are the security officials doing?" shouted Hadi Abdulwahab, a father of four whose shop in Karrada isn't far from the site of one of the car bombings. "This is proof that they are not in control. The armed groups are in control."
Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) quotes shop owner Ali Sabah Qadim stating, "These explosions increase our concern that security in Baghdad is still not good. What is the guilt of those innocent children who were going to their schools? Today we have a new number to be added to the orphans, widows and handicapped in Iraq."
Aswat al-Iraq reports, "The official spokesperson of al-Iraqiya Bloc, Mayson al-Damlouji, demanded the government to bear responsibility and stop bloodshed or to present its resignation." The editorial board of the National Newspaper has a very strong editorial which includes:
The increase in attacks on Shia communities also corresponded with Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, the leader of the Shia State of Law coalition, consolidating power at the expense of the opposition Iraqiya party and accusing leading Sunni politicians of planning the violence. Vice President Tareq Al Hashemi, a Sunni who fled to the Kurdish Autonomous Region, again maintained his innocence this week after Iraq's top judicial court formally accused him of sectarian violence.
No one's tying in the violence to the ongoing crackdowns in Iraq. That ongoing crackdown would include the 92 people Al Sabaah reports Nouri had arrested yesterday. In addition, Yasser Talal (Dar Addustour) reports that more warrants are coming and that Nouri's claiming there's a plot to assassinate him. Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister of Iraq and chief drama queen.
"Camp Ashraf, another al-Sistani cleric attacked an..."
"At least 62 dead, hundreds injured"
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"Kevin Alexander Gray"
"DOMA going down"
"Body of Proof"
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"He fixes everything!"
Thursday, February 23, 2012
According to the Iraqi constitution, the oil and all the natural resources that exist in Iraq are national wealth that belongs to all Iraqi people, living in all of the regions and provinces of Iraq. This wealth should be used to increase the well-being and prosperity of all the people of Iraq. Therefore, such agreements should be a joint effort between everyone in Iraq and no individual group should single-handedly decide on how these resources are used.
In our view, these statements, especially those that threaten renowned international investment companies working in the Kurdistan Region, could lead to companies being reluctant to work in all of Iraq, and they will portray a negative image to investors across all sectors. This contradicts the general policies of economic openness, the promotion of trade and attracting foreign direct investment in order to provide better services to the people of Iraq, who have suffered for decades from closed centralized economic policies that have led to widespread poverty, destitution and deprivation.
In addition, such statements lead to increased disputes between the political parties and to the accumulation of new problems at a time when we need to think and work together in order to solve the problems that already exist--especially as we are building up a new democracy, which is what all the political and national components of Iraq want.
Yes, all those threats didn't play well to international corporations thinking about doing business in Iraq. In addition, Hevidear Ahmed (Rudaw) interviewed Matasam Akram on this topic:
Rudaw: Signing some contracts between the Kurdistan Region and ExxonMobil, an oil giant, has angered Baghdad and the capital has asked the company to cancel its deals. Where does this issue stand at the moment?
Mutasam Akram: Inside Iraq's Ministry of Oil, no actual step has been taken against ExxonMobil and what we see is only in the media. ExxonMobil is the biggest oil company in the world and, if they wanted to work in some part of the world, they would think it over a hundred times before making a decision. When they sign a contract, they know well what the results will be. If ExxonMobil had known it would lose by signing a contract with the Kurdistan Region, it would not have done it. The same goes for the French Total that is also one of the biggest oil companies now in Kurdistan. Both companies enjoy heavy economic and political weight in the world and they wouldn't have come to Kurdistan had they known they would lose
Iraq, after a stormy 2010 parliamentary election, smashed the world record for the longest period between elections and the forming of a new government. Not exactly an accomplishment for a country that had democracy handed to them by the so-called standard bearer of participatory government. Baghdad politics have since been held together by the tiniest of threads, with various political factions storming out of the halls of government at various times for various reasons. Though the fight hasn't yet taken to the streets, the country's Shiite prime minister ordered his Sunni vice president arrested on terrorism charges.
Al Rafidayn notes the Supreme Judicial Council has decreed that they will begin their trial of Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi in absentia on May 3rd. Nouri al-Maliki has accused al-Hashemi of terrorism and issued an arrest warrant for him. al-Hashemi is in the KRG and has maintained since December that he cannot receive a fair trial in Baghdad -- an assertion that was demonstrated to be true when a 9 member panel of judges held a press conference last Thursday and declared al-Hashemi guilty of terrorism before a trial had taken place and in violation of Article 19 of the Iraqi Constitution.
"Iraq third most deadly for journalists in 2011"
"The fallen, the disputed"
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"The Good Wife"
"Fringe, Isaiah, Third"
"THIS JUST IN! CARNEY BREAKS IT DOWN!"
"Half an excuse? Try full on offensive!"
Wednesday, February 22, 2012