Sunday, August 07, 2016

She's got the support she wants






Human Rights Watch's Donatelle Rovera Tweets:

2 months on, more than 700 residents abducted by anti- militias are still missing & feared dead

Yes, the Sunnis continue to be persecuted.

Yes, the media continues to look the other way.

They basically did throughout Nouri al-Maliki's second term as prime minister (given to him by US President Barack Obama who, after the voters in Iraq rejected Nouri, had US personnel facilitate The Erbil Agreement which gave Nouri his second term -- voters didn't do it, a US brokered contract did it).

After Nouri's fall from grace in the summer of 2014, the press could finally get honest about it.  Take this PBS' FRONTLINE report:

Much of the world was shocked when militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) took over Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, in June. One of the many factors that allowed the group of Sunni extremists to take the city so quickly was a Sunni population disillusioned with Iraq’s central government and unable or unwilling to fight against the militants.
Politicians who served under former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shia-led government, and were targeted for arrest by his security forces, were not surprised. Here, they describe the many grievances of Iraq’s Sunni population while Maliki was in power, which they say led to the resurrection of the Sunni insurgency — once again providing a safe haven for extremists.
Tariq al-Hashemi served as vice president in Maliki’s government from 2006 until 2011, when a warrant was issued for his arrest for alleged links to terrorism. While former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey conceded that there were “a lot of problems” with Hashemi, the arrest of his bodyguards in 2011 was the first major indication of Maliki’s emerging sectarian politics. Hashemi, who fled Iraq, was later tried in absentia and sentenced to death.

Rafi al-Essawi was the minister of finance in Maliki’s cabinet, a figure who was “greatly respected” by many Iraqis, according to journalist Dexter Filkins. Almost exactly a year after Hashemi’s bodyguards were rounded up, Maliki’s security forces arrested Essawi’s bodyguards on similar allegations of ties to terrorism. The move triggered huge protests in Sunni parts of Iraq, because as Filkins said, “everybody knows Rafi al-Essawi is a peaceful man.” Fearing he would be arrested like Hashemi, Essawi fled to the Sunni-dominated city of Ramadi.

Much of the world was shocked, yes.

Because the western press wasn't covering it.

And not just the corporate press.

While ANTIWAR.COM was busy nuzzling Nouri al-Maliki's crotch, we were calling him a thug here.  Because that's what he forever is: a thug.

Understand that Nouri attacking the press -- having them rounded up and tortured, for example -- did not turn Barack against Nouri.

Nor did Nouri being connected to the assassination of Iraqi journalist Hadi al-Mahdi.  From the September 8, 2011 snapshot:

In Iraq, a journalist has been murdered.  In addition to being a journalist, he was also a leader of change and part of the movement to create an Iraq that was responsive to Iraqis. 
Al Mada reports Iraqi journalist Hadi al-Mahdi is dead according to an Interior Ministry source who says police discovered him murdered in his Baghdad home.  Along with being a journalist, Al Mada notes he was one of the chief organizers of the demonstrations demanding change and service reform that began on February 25th -- the day he was arrested by Iraqi security forces and beaten in broad daylight as he and others, after the February 25th protest, were eating in a restaurant. The New York Times didn't want to tell you about, the Washington Post did.  And now the man is dead. Gee, which paper has the archives that matter to any real degree.  Maybe it's time to act like a newspaper and not a "news magazine" with pithy little human interest stories?  (That is not a dig at Tim Arango but at the paper's diva male 'reporter' who went on NPR to talk of an Iraqi college this week.)  So while the Times missed the story (actaully, they misled on the story -- cowtowing to Nouri as usual),  Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post) reported:

Four journalists who had been released described being rounded up well after they had left a protest at Baghdad's Tahrir Square. They said they were handcuffed, blindfolded, beaten and threatened with execution by soldiers from an army intelligence unit.
"It was like they were dealing with a bunch of al-Qaeda operatives, not a group of journalists," said Hussam al-Ssairi, a journalist and poet, who was among a group and described seeing hundreds of protesters in black hoods at the detention facility. "Yesterday was like a test, like a picture of the new democracy in Iraq."

A picture of the new democracy in Iraq, indeed.  And now one of the four is dead.  But back to that roundup, from the February 28th snapshot:
Over the weekend, a number of journalists were detained during and after their coverage of the mass demonstrations that took place in central Baghdad's al-Tahrir Square. Simone Vecchiator (International Press Institute) notes:

["]During a news conference held on Sunday, four journalists -- Hussam Saraie of Al-Sabah Al-Jadid newspaper, Ali Abdul Sada of the Al-Mada daily, Ali al-Mussawi of Sabah newspaper and Hadi al-Mehdi of Demozee radio -- reported being handcuffed, blindfolded, beaten and threatened by security forces. They also claimed they were held in custody for nine hours and forced to sign a document, the contents of which were not revealed to them.
Aswat al Iraq news agency reported that the journalists will file a court case against the executive authority in response to the alleged violations of their civil rights.
This episode is the latest in a series of repressive measures adopted by security forces in order to stifle media reports about the current political and social
NPR's Kelly McEvers interviewed Hadi for Morning Edition after he had been released and she noted he had been "beaten in the leg, eyes, and head." He explained that he was accused of attempting to "topple" Nouri al-Maliki's government -- accused by the soldiers under Nouri al-Maliki, the soldiers who beat him.  Excerpt:
Hadi al-Mahdi: I replied, I told the guy who was investigating me, I'm pretty sure that your brother is unemployed and the street in your area is unpaved and you know that this political regime is a very corrupt one.
Kelly McEvers: Mahdi was later put in a room with what he says were about 200 detainees, some of them journalists and intellectuals, many of them young protesters.
Hadi al-Mahdi: I started hearing voices of other people.  So, for instance, one guy was crying, another was saying, "Where's my brother?" And a third one was saying, "For the sake of God, help me."
Kelly McEvers: Mahdi was shown lists of names and asked to reveal people's addresses.  He was forced to sign documents while blindfolded.  Eventually he was released.  Mahdi says the experience was worse than the times he was detained under Saddam Hussein.  He says the regime that's taken Sadam's place is no improvement on the past. This, he says, should serve as a cautionary tale for other Arab countries trying to oust dictators. 
Hadi al-Mahdi: They toppled the regime, but they brought the worst -- they brought a bunch of thieves, thugs, killers and corrupt people, stealers.
Madhi had filed a complained with the courts against the Iraqi security forces, noting that they had now warrant and that they kidnapped him in broad daylight and that they beat him.  Mohamed Tawfeeq (CNN) adds, "Hadi al-Mehdi was inside his apartment on Abu Nawas street in central Baghdad when gunmen shot him twice with silencer-equipped pistols, said the ministry official, who did not want to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to media."  Mazin Yahya (AP) notes that in addition to calling for improvements in the basic services (electricity, water and sanitation), on his radio program, Hadi al-Mehdi also used Facebook to get the word out on the Friday protests in Baghdad's Tahrir Square.
Al Mada notes that Hadi has been killed on the eve of tomorrow's protest.  The youth activists took the month of Ramadan off and announced that they would return to downtown Baghdad on September 9th (tomorrow).  And tomorrow they'll now be minus at least one.  Al Mada quotes Hadi writing shortly before he died on his Facebook page about the demonstration, noting that it would herald the emergence of real democracy in the new Iraq, an Iraq with no sectarian grudges, just hearts filled with tolerance and love, hearts saying no to corruption, looting, unemployment, hearts demaning a better Iraq and a government for the people because Iraqis deserve the best and they deserve pride and dignity.  The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "The funeral of the martyred jouranlist Hady Mahdy, who was killed earlier today will process from his Karrad home where he was assassinated to Tahrir Square. The funeral procession will commence at around 9 A.M."
Reporters Without Borders roundly condemns the well-known journalist Hadi Al-Mahdi's murder in Baghdad today, on the eve of nationwide protests that he supported. His body was found at around 7 p.m. in his home in the central district of Al-Karada. He had been shot twice in the head. There can be no doubt that his murder was politically motivated.
Offering its sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues, Reporters Without Borders urges the authorities to quickly investigate this murder and to assign all the necessary resources to ensure that those responsible are identified and brought to justice. This crime cannot go unpunished.
Aged 44, a Shiite and married to a Kurd, Mahdi hosted a talk show called "To whoever listens" on Radio Demozy (104,01 FM). His irreverence, his well-observed criticism that spared no one, neither the prime minister nor his detractors, and his readiness to tackle subjects ranging from corruption to the deplorable state of the Iraqi educational system made it one of the most popular talk shows in Baghdad.
It was clear from the messages that Mahdi had sent to relatives that he knew he was in danger. He had received many warnings and had told friends two days ago that something terrible could happen ( But he was determined to tough it out, regardless of the risks.
After covering a demonstration in Baghdad's Tahrir Square on 25 February, he and three fellow journalists were arrested, threatened and beaten.
Shortly after graduating from Baghdad's Academy of Fine Arts in 1989, Mahdi fled to Syria and then to Sweden and did not return until 2007, after nearly a decade in exile. He began hosting "To whoever listens" for Radio Demozy, an independent station, a year later. (A New York Times profile of Mahdi)
He was the seventh Iraqi journalist to be murdered since the start of 2011 and the 12th since the United States announced the withdrawal of its combat troops in August 2010.
Mahdi's murder comes exactly a month after the Iraqi parliament adopted a law on the protection of journalists on 9 August.
Nouri al-Maliki's forces beat Hadi.  They are under Nouri's command.  Nouri demonized the protesters all along.  He has repeated the slurs in the last weeks that the September 9th protests are organized by Ba'ahtists, are out to topple him, are out to turn Iraq into a lawless state and much more.  Did Little Saddam aka Nouri al-Maliki, thug of the occupation, order his forces to murder Hadi?  Regardless, he certainly created the climate for the murder at the very least.  At the more extreme?  Little Saddam may be dreaming of becoming the next Augusto Pinochet.

Hadi had a dream that Iraq could become what so many in the US press portrayed it as being, a democracy, a place of fairness, a government that provided for the people.  The youth activists will carry on the struggle, as will be evident tomorrow, but it says a great deal about the stae of Iraq, he real state of Iraq, that Hadi can be targeted and murdered for wanting what so many US gas bags and US politicians and liars wnat to insist Iraq already has and is.

And the protesters did take to the streets.  They launched over a year of protesting.

But the western media, like the White House, was usually not interested.

Not even when Nouri was ordering protesters be shot and killed.

The biggest example of that was the April 23, 2013 massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll eventually (as some wounded died) rose to 53 dead.   UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

That's not when Barack said enough.

When Barack finally had enough, he replaced Nouri with Haider al-Abadi -- yet another exile.

Why does the US government refuse to support Iraqi leaders who didn't leave Iraq for decades?

Oh, that's right, it might allow Iraqis to actually have a voice in their own government.

So Haider got installed and nothing changed.

No surprise.

Haider was a member of Nouri's political party (Dawa) and also a part of Nouri's self-created political slate (State of Law).

How much of an idiot do you have to be to think Haider is going to be different than Nouri.

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