Saturday, April 02, 2011

This is what he leads







The Great Iraq Revolution reports Iraqi security forces attempted to disperse protesters. As usual and, as usual, barbed wire is roped around to stop mobility and hinder access and the press are being harassed. Alsumaria TV reports that they were "calling for the release of detainees and urging to end unemployment and corruption in Iraq mainly in governmental institutions. Protestors urged to provide them with ration cards." Chanting and carrying banners (video here) what appeared to be thousands occupied Liberation Square. Al Mada reports that many more attempted to join the protesters but Iraqi forces surrounded the scene of the protest and blocked access. As with last Friday, those protesters who had family members imprisoned carried photos of their loved ones. They were easy to spot amongst the crowd with their photos and generally clad in black. On his album . . . Nothing Like the Sun, Sting has a song for the wives and daughters in Chile whose husbands were imprisoned, tortured and murdered under the terrorist reign of Augusto Pinochet and the song, sadly, fits so many regions including Iraq.
Why are there women here dancing on their own?
Why is there this sadness in their eyes?
Why are soldiers here
Their faces fixed like stone?
I can't see what it is that they despise
They're dancing with the missing
They're dancing with the dead
They dance with the invisible ones
Their anguish is unsaid
They're dancing with their fathers
They're dancing with their sons
They're dancing with their husbands
They dance alone
They dance alone
-- "They Dance Alone" written by Sting
Kitabat has multiple videos on their home page of today's protest in Baghdad. One woman holds photos of four missing men. She yells out for Allah to help her while others around her note that [Nouri al-] Maliki does nothing. In another video, twenty-one women dressed in black and holding photos gather together chanting while one woman wipes her tears with the back of one hand, displaying the photo of her missing family member with the other hand. A woman, Um Ahmed attempted to set herself on fire, the Great Iraqi Revolution notes. They explain she is "the mother of a detainee" and the other protesters prevented the fire and rescued her.
The two main groups behind this protest were the Youth Movement of Liberty and the Coalition of the Revolution. The Youth Monument of Liberty states, "We are not asking, we are calling for the immediate trial of all detained Iraqis who were not brought before a judge within 24 hours of their arrest because that is a violation of the Constitution's Article 19's thirteenth paragraph." That paragraph reads:
The preliminay investigative documents shall be submitted to the competent judge in a period not to exceed twenty-four hours from the time of the arrest of the accused, which may be extended only once and for the same period.
And they report protests took place in Falluja and in Sulaymaniya. Alsumaria TV notes of the Sulaimaniyah Province demonstration in Kaler (or Kellar) that eye witnesses say Kurdish security forces threw stones at members of the Change Political party. The Great Iraqi Revolution notes that the protest in Kellar "started peacefully but then the Kurdish Militias and Assayesh brought in their thugs and fighting started." AFP reports, also in Sulaimaniyah province, but in the city of Sulaimaniyah, approximately 4,000 protesters gathered and chanted slogans agains the two main Kurdih political parties -- the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party -- and that police used batons on protesters who used stones on the police resulting in 35 people being injured. News notes, "City health official Rekard Rasheed said at least 38 of the injured were policemen in the melee of protestors demanding better government services, ending corruption and more jobs in the autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq's north." Press TV reports that "at least 50 people" were injured. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) also notes "at least 50 people were wounded". Yesterday on All Things Considered (NPR), Kelly McEvers reported on the protests in northern Iraq, especially in relation to the disputed Kirkuk:
McEVERS: In recent protests that were part of a larger wave of demonstrations around Iraq and the region, intellectuals like Farouk Rafiq said the Kurdish success story is a myth.
Mr. FAROUK RAFIQ: This is a myth that there is economical opportunity. Do you know why? Because political parties, they captured the market. They have their own companies for themselves, for politicians, for those who are on the top.
McEVERS: So far, those politicians don't show any signs of relinquishing power. In fact, it's support from the Kurds that helped Iraq's incumbent prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, recently secure a second term. In exchange for this support, the federal government in Baghdad recently agreed to let Kurdistan proceed with agreements to pump and sell its own oil. Now, says analyst Jutiar Adel, the Kurdish leaders see economic growth as a way to continue asserting their autonomy.
Mr. JUTIAR ADEL: (Through translation) The economical presence, the economical strength is very important, and they want to guarantee that there is an economical power for Kurdistan.
McEVERS: That means in addition to ignoring protesters' demands for a bigger piece of the economic pie, other issues might be on the back burner, issues like who will control the area around the city of Kirkuk, where Kurds were the majority until Saddam sent Arabs to settle there.
Unidentified Man #1: (Speaking foreign language).
McEVERS: At a recent conference, Kurdish President Massoud Barzani told followers it's likely his grandson will still be fighting for Kirkuk.
For those who would like more audio of past protests in Iraq, Hamzoz has filed audio reports at Alive in Iraq on the March 11th protest in Baghdad. Rania El Gamal (Reuters) observes, "Iraq's protests have not reached the critical mass of those in Tunisia and Egypt, but Iraqis are tired of shortages of food rations, water, power and jobs, and widespread corruption, eight years after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein." At the Los Angeles Times, the Carnegie Endwoment for International Peace's scholar Maria Fantappie weighs in on Iraq noting:

While the protests in Iraq may not threaten an entire leadership, they could shift the balance of power within the ruling coalition. With both promises and targeted public policies in southern Iraq, the Sadrists could infiltrate Maliki's strongholds -- especially Basra and Baghdad -- consolidate their popular support there, and increase their pull within the new government, most likely at the expense of Maliki's State of Law coalition. As a result, the Sadrists could regain politically what they lost militarily in the 2007 Battle of Basra to Maliki-affiliated armed forces and emerge as a key player in the government.
During the protests, the Sadrists lobbied for the resignation of several State of Law governors and high-ranking officials in Baghdad and Basra, accusing Maliki's administration of being lax in combating corruption. This move may turn the Sadrists from an indispensable ally for Maliki's reelection into his chief competition. Maliki already seems to be avoiding alienating the Kurds over the issue of Kirkuk, possibly to secure them as an alternative ally.
The winners of this period of social unrest will be those who heed the call of the Iraqi street, and hold the potential to respond at the local level. The Sadrists have a golden opportunity to overshadow their past as a sectarian militia and recast themselves as populist policy makers who are receptive to the people's demands. Whether they do so remains to be seen.
And whether Nouri al-Maliki and the other puppets controlling Iraq can stop torturing, remain s in doubt. Wally slid the following over from MADRE:
MADRE: Rights, Resources and Results for Women Worldwide
CONTACT: Stephanie K√ľng, MADRE (212) 627-0444,

Pro-Democracy Youth Activist in Iraq Tortured and Threatened

Monday, March 28, 2011 -- New York, NY -- Last week, a youth activist organizing pro-democracy protests in Iraq was kidnapped, detained and tortured. MADRE learned of the attack on Alaa Nabil from our partner organization, the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI). Alaa Nabil and OWFI believe the men who carried out the attacks to be Iraqi security agents. Today, MADRE and OWFI sent an official letter to the Iraqi government condemning the attacks and calling for action to protect Iraqis against such human rights violations.

On March 23, Alaa Nabil was kidnapped from the area around his residence by men who transported him to an unknown location. They forced him to face a wall, and they beat, kicked and whipped him with hoses and cables on his back and his arms. Before releasing him, the men issued direct death threats against him and against his activist colleagues, saying, "We will cut your tongues, you and your organizing colleagues, Firas Ali, Suad Shwaili, and Falah Alwan, if you dare to reach Al Tahrir Square. And if you insist on continuing this work, we will shoot each one of you and throw you where your bodies cannot be found."

Yanar Mohammed, Director of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq, said today, "The kidnapping and torture of Alaa Nabil are a violation of his human rights and a violent attack on legitimate calls for democracy in Iraq. Through weeks of protests, I joined Alaa in our demonstrations calling for jobs, for justice and for our human rights, and I stand with him now."

Yifat Susskind, MADRE Executive Director, said today, "In organizing pro-democracy protests, Alaa Nabil exercises internationally recognized human rights that the Iraqi government is legally obligated to uphold, yet he has been tortured and his life threatened. Iraqis have joined with people across the region calling for democracy, and they have been met by repression at the hands of their government, which is heavily supported by the US. We join with our partners in Iraq in raising our voices to denounce the attacks and death threats against Alaa Nabil."

To read the letter submitted by MADRE and OWFI to Iraqi officials, click

The following people are available for comment:

Yanar Mohammed, Director of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), co-founded OWFI after the US invasion in 2003. She set up a series of shelters that served as an underground railroad for women escaping the violence and death threats that escalated dramatically during the occupation.

Yifat Susskind, Executive Director of MADRE, an international women's human rights organization. Yifat has worked extensively with women's human rights activists from the Middle East, Latin America and Africa to create programs in their communities to address violence against women, economic development, climate change, and armed conflict.


For more information about MADRE, visit our website at
Meanwhile Denise Natali (Foreign Policy) also weighs in on the ongoing protests:
Nuri al-Maliki also assured that the opposition would remain localized by keeping the protestors away from each other. During the demonstrations, for instance, he controlled communication services and set up road blocks so that protestors had to walk about five kilometers to reach the central square in Baghdad. These measures may not have deterred the demonstrations, but they shifted them to outlying localities. Residents in Basra, Fallujah, and Ramadi overthrew their provincial governments and burned down public buildings. Gunmen in Tikrit attacked their local government and took hostages. In Anbar, the sheikhs seek to remove the governor, provincial council chairman and operations centers commander.
The unrest has had political fallout in Baghdad. Maliki's power base has been further undermined as Ayad Allawi and Moqtada al-Sadr have threatened to withdraw support from the government. Even some members of Maliki's State of Law party have distanced themselves from the prime minister by forming a 'White Block" in parliament and calling for Maliki's resignation if the situation does not improve in 100 days. Developing alongside these political rifts is the strengthening of the position of Ayatollah al-Sistani, who has taken credit for the non-violent nature of the demonstrations without really having been involved in them.
As expected, Maliki has responded by trying to control and appease his challengers. While clamping down on protestors, he has promised political reforms and strengthened the state's distributive function through increased allocation of revenues for public goods and services. Furthermore, he has attempted to co-opt western Sunni Arab tribes by negotiating an amnesty with the "Jihad Reform Group", an ensemble of five Iraqi resistance groups based in Syria. The tribe's perception (and distrust) of Maliki as a Shi'a with Iranian backing, as well as its lucrative trade along the border area, will hinder Maliki's effort to draw Sunni Arab tribes back into the state and to undermine Ayad Allawi's tribal support base. And even though Maliki has licensed the Sadrists' "Sit in against Occupiers" demonstration planned for April 9, he needs to assure that the event does not become violent or further erode his fragile government.
At the New York Times, the paper can't find the protests already noted today; however, they can go to town for Ahmad Chalabi. Maybe Tim Arango's attempting to show how Chalabi continues to attempt to spin. Chalabi wants to be Minister of the Interior. So many people don't want him to be. He's using unrest in Bahrain to try to make himself appear in touch with 'the people.' And insisting -- as Arango sketches out -- that a near 100% Shi'ite is a mixed turnout. Arango is incorrect when he refers to the Parliament's ten day vacation/holiday as "Parliament briefly suspended its work to protest the Bahrain's crackdown" He's incorrect because ten days is significant. The ten days off came after the body had grandstanded that they were going to put Iraq first and therefore were cancelling their April vacation. It also came when Nouri's one-hundred days 'till reform kicked off. Using a tenth of those reform days is not "briefly." The Speaker of Parliament, Osama al-Nujafi has repeatedly denied it was a vacation or holiday.
In rather striking news, Reuters reports that the number of people killed in Iraq (Iraqi "civilians, police and soldiers") "rose in March" and uses a Ministry of Health count of 136. However, that number is a huge undercount.
Let's review, March 1st 1 person was reported killed. March 2nd 5 people were reported dead and twenty-nine injured. March 3rd 11 were reported dead and twenty-six injured. March 5th 5 people were reported dead and nineteen wounded. March 6th 21 were reported dead and twenty-six wouned. March 7th 2 were reported dead, two were reported wounded. March 8th 4 dead and seven wounded. March 9th 5 were reported dead and ten wounded. March 10th 10 were reported dead and twenty-two injured. March 11th 7 dead and eleven injured. March 12th three were reported injured. March 13th 17 were reported dead and seventeen injured. March 14th 14 were reported dead and forty-two injured. March 15th 1 was reported dead and seventeen injured. March 16th 1 person was reported dead and thirty-three injured. March 17th 5 were reported dead and fourteen injured. March 18th 2 dead and one injured. March 19th 11 were reported dead and twenty-four injured. March 20th 2 were reported dead and fifteen injured. March 21st 7 were reported dead and fifteen wounded. March 22nd 4 were reported dead and thirteen injured. March 23rd 6 were reported dead and twenty-five injured. March 24th 2 were reported dead and three were reported wounded and -1 on dead because Maj Gen Ahmed Obeidi was reported dead the day before but was alive. March 25th 9 were reported dead and thirty-four injured. March 26th 3 were reported dead and five injured. March 27th 12 were reported dead and sixteen injured. March 28th 20 were reported dead and fifty-two injured. March 29th 60 were reported dead and one-hundred-and-three injured. March 31st 7 were reported dead and thrity-one injured. Check my math but that comes to 251 reported dead and 615 reported injured. Those deaths include everything but US service members. So 251. And that's an undercount. All the deaths are not reported and all deaths reported don't get noted in the snapshot.
Alsumaria TV reports the death toll given by the Ministries of Defense, Health and Interior is 247 with 370 injured. Iraq Body Count does the numbers and finds "287 CIVILIANS KILLED" in the month of March. Reuters publishing 136 is laughable. It's all the more laughable when you note this sentence from the report: "Many of the deaths in March were the result of an attack on Tuesday on the provincial council of Salahuddin in Tikrit" -- we counted 58 for that (some counts were 60 and higher but for our 251 for the month, we only counted 58). Subtract 58 from 136 and you end up with 78. Reuters, which does a daily count of violence, seriously thought only 78 people were killed on all the other days this month? Seriously?
If you think that means Iraq gets attention from the media, you don't know Diane Rehm. Each Friday, The Diane Rehm Show offers an hour of discussion on domestic news in the first hour and an hour of discussion on foreign news in the second hour. If you set aside Nadia Bilbassy's two brief sentences on February 25th ("There was demonstration in Iraq. There was two people dead in Iraq today, in Baghdad and in Basra.") as she went over demonstrations in the Middle East, current events in Iraq have not been discussed since January 21st when CNN's Elise Labott was asked about Iraq by Diane. Today continued Diane's pattern of silence.

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Friday, April 01, 2011

He's a private dancer





Human Rights Watch declared today that the announced (March 14th) plan to close the secret Iraqi prison Camp Honor is "only a first step" and that Iraq needs to do much more. As January wound down, Ned Parker. reported on the secret prisons for the Los Angeles Times and Human Rights Watch issued their report on it. Parker's January report on the secret prisons and how they were run by Nouri's security forces, the Baghdad Brigade followed up on his earlier report on how the Brigade was behind the prison that he and the paper exposed in April 2010. All the whilte Nouri insisted that there were no secret prisons in Iraq. Such as February 6th when Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reported, "The Iraqi government on Sunday denied a human rights organization's allegation that it has a secret detention center in Baghdad, run by Prime Minister Nur al-Maliki's security forces." The report then quoted Nouri's spokesperson Ali al-Moussawi stating, "We don't know how such a respectable organization like Human Rights Watch is able to report such lies." Camp Honor is a prison that's under Nouri's control, staffed by people working for him. Amnesty International would also call the use of secret prisons out while Nouri continued to deny them. In the middle of this month, the world was supposed to forget all the denials and rejoice that (yet again) Nouri had been caught operating a secret prison and that he was saying (yet again) he would close one and saying that (yet again) secret prisons did not belong in the 'new' Iraq and would not be part of it. The lie would continue until March 15th.
Iraqi officials should establish an independent body with authority to impartially investigate the torture that occurred at Camp Honor and other sites run by the 56th Brigade, also known as the "Baghdad Brigade," and the Counterterrorism Service - the elite security forces attached to the military office of the prime minister. The investigating body should recommend disciplinary steps or criminal prosecution of everyone of any rank implicated in the abuse, Human Rights Watch said.
"Shutting down Camp Honor will mean little if detainees are shuffled to other facilities to face torture again," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "There needs to be a genuine, independent investigation and criminal prosecution of everyone, regardless of rank, responsible for the horrific abuses there."
The Justice Ministry announced on March 14 that it would close Camp Honor after members of a parliamentary investigative committee, consisting largely of parliament's Human Rights Committee members, found evidence of torture during a spot inspection of the facility five days earlier. Investigative committee members told Human Rights Watch that they had observed 175 prisoners in "horrible conditions" at the prison, in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone. They said they saw physical "signs of recent abuse, including electric shocks" and marks on detainees' bodies, including long scars across their backs.
Detainees described to committee members the torture they endured there and said that more than 40 other detainees had been hastily moved from the facility less than an hour before members of the committee arrived.
Iraq's Minister of Justice Hussein al-Shammari told Human Rights Watch on March 29 that all of Camp Honor's detainees - between 150 and 160 - had been moved to three other facilities under the control of his ministry. According to the parliamentary committee, however, the number of detainees held at Camp Honor was higher. The committee, established by parliament on February 8 after a Human Rights Watch report and a Los Angeles Times article documented the abuse of detainees at Camp Honor, said it had officially requested from prison authorities a list of all the detainees' names, but had received no information as of March 29.
In response to repeated allegations of serious abuse at Iraqi detention facilities, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki issued a statement on March 19 reiterating that "there are no secret detention centers, and all prisons and detention centers are open to regulatory authorities and judicial authorities, which must report any violations found, if any, and notify judicial authorities to take legal action against the perpetrators."
However, the February 1 report by Human Rights Watch described a new secret prison within Camp Justice, a sprawling military base in northwest Baghdad, run by the same forces in charge at Camp Honor - the 56th Brigade and the Counterterrorism Service - both of which report directly to the prime minister's military office. The Counterterrorism Service works closely with US Special Forces.
The issue of prisons and prisoners in Iraq is huge and a major motivator in the protest movement taking place there -- especially the ones featuring attorneys in three cities (Baghdad, Basra and Mosul). However, the shotgun marriage of xenophobia and lazy meant that the protests would be protrayed differently to the outside world which ran with the nonsense that Iraqis were just sitting around, unaware and uninformed until one day, sitting in front of their satellite TVs, they saw what was taking place in Egypt and said, "Hey, that looks fun, let's try that!" Iraqi protests were going on, unreported by the western media, in 2010. The same western media then flocking to Egypt had no interest in the protests taking place in Iraq -- possibly due to the fact that western reporters rarely go anywhere in Iraq other than Baghdad and the KRG. Basra and Mosul aren't spots they frequent let alone other hotbed areas. But the first Iraq protests in 2011 took place far from Baghdad and the issues were the prisons, the families being unable to see their loved ones, the denial of trials, the denial of rights. The calls against corruption and for reform include the prison and justice (or 'justice') system in Iraq. All one ever had to do was listen to the protesters but a narrative got imposed by the press and what was at stake to the Iraqi people mattered far less to the press than its own narrative.
Friday, in Baghdad's Liberation Square, protests again took place but were largely ignored by the western media. Among the groups protesting were the wives, mothers and sisters of prisoners. (See Sunday's "And the war drags on . . ." for some screen snaps of the women from videos which can be found at The Great Iraqi Revolution Facebook page). For those women to be present, they had to overcome physical hurdles such as closed bridges, barbed wire, a ban on traffic and a light rain. They joined with other women protesting to account for the largest female presence at a Baghdad protest so far this year. They carried photos of their imprisoned loved ones and cried out for justice.
Urgent Appeal to the United Nations, represented by the UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon because of the suffering of the IRaqi people and the demonstrators were killed, tortured and displaced by the government-proclaimed by the US occupation in 2003, and all participants in this campaign, asking for immediate intervention in the Iraqi situation now.
Among those joining the call is Nabeel Alnabeel who writes, "We are with you all, the heart, soul and body are one for Iraq and for support for the rights of Iraq." Sarah Adeeb adds her support to the campaign and wonders over the the assault in Salah al-Din Province Tuesday (Tikrit's provinical government offices), "Why parliament or provincial councils has not suspended its meetings, even for one day??? Why did not stand a minute of silence for the souls of all those that lost their martyrs in the provinces of Salah al-Din??? Is sectarianism?? Who died or are not Bhranyen??? [. . . .] [Ahmed] Chalabi, who collects donations for Baharain."

Aswat al-Iraq reports
that Osama al-Nujafi has led a moment of silence in Parliament this afternnon to remember the victims of the Tuesday assault on the Salahuddin provincial council building. Sarah Adeeb's point still stands because the Parliament took a ten day holiday (which they only concluded last weekend) to show solidarity with the protesters in Bahrain. Sarah Adeeb is correct to be offended that Iraqi politicians will take ten days off to show solidarity with non-Iraqis but make no time to demonstrate solidarity with the people they are supposed to be representing. The Economist notes the Parliament's response and shut down in a piece today:
Politicians from Iraq's Shia majority, including a former prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, castigated the Saudi intervention. Some Sunni, Kurdish and Christian members of Iraq's parliament also condemned the Saudis, but the speaker, Osama el-Nujaifi, who hails from a leading Sunni family in Mosul, Iraq's strongly Sunni city in the north, decided to close parliament down for ten days. Some Iraqi politicians, including Iyad Allawi, a Shia who leads the main Sunni block in parliament, said that a hiatus was required to stop sectarian tension boiling over in parliament.
But it is still bubbling. Politicians and religious leaders have continued to respond to events in Bahrain along sectarian lines. Muqtada al-Sadr, a populist Iraqi Shia cleric with a big following who leads his movement from a temporary home in Iran, has castigated the intervention too. Members of his political party have called for Bahrain's embassy in Baghdad to be closed, whereas Haider al-Mulla, a Sunni MP, blames the uprising in Bahrain on Iranian interference and says that Iran's embassy in Baghdad should be shut.
No similar outcry from politicians followed the assault in Tikrit (this despite the fact that the assault can be seen as an assault on government itself). Alsumaria TV reports that AP released film of the Tirkit attack: "A soldier on the building's roof shows as pointing to the place of hostages while employees were seen going down the stairs to escape the building". Xinhua has posted video from CNTV of the assault and they note, "Iraqi security force surrounded the building and engaged in heavy fighting with the gunmen. Hours later, US and Iraqi SWAT teams stormed the building and killed the attackers."
Earlier this week, Tim Arango (New York Times) reported, "The American military did not participate in the retaking of the building but observed from nearby, according to a military spokesman." Ben Lando (Wall St. Journal) quoted US military spokesperson Col Barry Johnson stating, "Our assistance has been limited to providing aerial surveillance of the scene and keeping our soldiers on site to receive further requests for assistance if needed."
Xinhua reports, "Iraqi security force surrounded the building and engaged in heavy fighting with the gunmen. Hours later, US and Iraqi SWAT teams stormed the building and killed the attackers." Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Witnesses said U.S. troops responded to the attack and entered the building with Iraqi forces trying to rescue the hostages. No U.S. casualties were reported, however, and it wasn't clear how many of the dead were hostages, gunmen or members of the Iraqi security forces. At least three of the gunmen were wearing explosive suicide belts, Iraq's Interior Ministry said."
So which is it? It's Hammoudi and Xinhua's version. The US military command has lied and a functioning press would be all over this story and how US forces -- well after Barack Obama's laughable claim that "combat operations" ended August 31st -- were rushing into a hostage situation with no knowledge of how many assailants were present in the building but knowing that the assailants had guns and bombs and had already demonstrated their willingness to use both. Combat didn't end, the Iraq War didn't end. If it ended, there'd be no need today for Hugh Fisher (Salisbury Post) to report, "Soldiers from Salisbury's National Guard aviation unit are preparing to deploy to Iraq in the coming weeks. About 80 members of C Company, 1-131st Aviation Regiment, will go to Fort Hood, Texas, where they will receive additional training before going overseas."
The Iraqi forces and the US military failed to save any hostage.

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Guess he won't be voted prom queen this year







Yesterday evening in the US, viewers of Al Jazeera English got many reports but let's zoom in on just one.
Shiulie Ghosh: To Iraq now where at least 55 people have been killed in Saddam Hussein's former home city, the provincial government headquarters in Tikrit was stormed by gunmen wearing military uniforms. Three council leaders were shot in the head. They included an outspoken critic of al Qaeda in Iraq. Journalists and government workers also died. The five hour long hostage seige ended when attackers blew themselves up after government forces moved in. Our Baghdad correspondent Rawya Rageh has more.
Rawya Rageh: The brazen and highly sophisticated hostage situation in Tikrit ended in a rather unfortunate manner. None of the hostages escaped alive. All of them were killed. Some in a rather horrific manner, we were told, including the three council men who were shot at point blank range and their bodies set on fire after they were killed. The assailants, all of them were also killed in the gun battle, some of them blew themselves up, they were wearing suicide vests and they detonated themselves before security forces were able to apprehend them which is why it's difficult to determine exactly how many there were though estimates say between eight and twelve attackers. There was no claim of responsibility so far. Authorities saying the attack clearly however bearing the hallmark of al Qaeda in Iraq. Authorities have been unable to establish any communication with the hostage takers. The attack comes as Iraq remains mired in political uncertainty months after the Iraqi politicians managed to finally form a cabinet.. The government, the country, remains without a Minister of Defense and [a Minister of] Interior. The attack a grim reminder of times Iraqis had hoped they had put behind them.
Shiulie Ghosh: Laith Kubba is Director of Middle East and North Africa programs at the National Endowment for Democracy. He says he expects more attacks but Iraqis will have to take over security from the US.
Laith Kubba: There has been an improvement in security in Iraq but not the point that they can prevent such an action. I think more importantly that the group behind it is very closely linked to al Qaeda. They rely on these suicide fighters and I think this is not the first time and it will not be the last time. I think there has been maybe one case a week ago, similarly, they attacked a military checkpoint. So I would not be surprised if more of these incidents would happen in the near future. [. . .]
What of Americans interested in the news who don't have Al Jazeera on their TVs? Presumably if you watch one of the big three commercial network's evening news, you are at least semi-interested in the news, right? The few viewers CBS Evening News has left aren't actually sitting through the whole show just for those crappy last five minutes of pure fluff are they?
If they are, they got what they wanted yesterday. But Erica Hill (filling in for Katie Couric) didn't have time for Iraq. Flip over to NBC Nightly News and there was a lot less fluff than what you got on CBS and ABC -- and a consistent newscast (I am not a Brian Williams groupie but he and his team do know how to do a cohesive news cast and the same cannot be said for CBS and ABC). By expanding that first segment, CBS has been better able to handle transitions but Diane Sawyer cares about as much for transitions as she does for full sentences -- in other words, not at all. It's a jerky, where-are-we style of viewing. All three anchors interviewed US President Barack Obama (who had something on his right sock in all three interviews -- you'd think one of them would have pulled him aside and pointed it out) which was fluff in and of itself. And although Diane may have said Barack Obama has to deal with Iraq (in a long laundry list she ticked off) each day but apparently she and the anchors didn't -- as all three made clear. And word to Diane, years have passed but don't think your royal interview when you were with another network is forgotten -- or rather what happened offscreen. So next time you want to fluff, don't go with one of England's princes, it only reminds everyone in the know of that sad moment.
"Wait!" I hear you crying. "A hostage situation in Iraq with well over 50 dead! I'm sure PBS covered it on their award winning and hard hitting Newshour!" What PBS do you get at your home? Not even during the 'news wrap' -- when headlines are read -- did the assault get covered. Again, Diane was making such a big deal about all the things on Barack's plate and maybe it seems to big to her because she does so damn little. But Americans, we know about the toast a British prince may give his brother, don't we feel smarter? And we know about "twin talk" and wasn't that informative -- and scientific. So scientific that their 'scientist' wasn't in the studio. They had to resort to Skype to find a 'scientist' who could fit their story's angle.
They laughed. They laughed about the silly of princes and twins on ABC and, over at CBS, they worked in Neal Sedaka (a reference to his "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" -- which they were too stupid to play on air -- it would have given the lifeless and still born segment something memorable) and 'hard hitting' questions about romances ending like "how did that feel?" all in their effort to 'break the news' that break ups, gosh, hurt. Who knew? America, stop breaking up! It hurts! Sure it looks sexy and exciting and fun but it hurts! That's what all those Eat-Alone specials don't tell you and our culture so obsessed with everyone never marrying . . . Oh wait, that's not our culture. Our culture attempts to dictate that we all make like we're boarding Noah's Arc. And even in our couple-obsessed culture, that segment didn't qualify as news.
People died. But Diane was busy telling her Harry from her Willie and couldn't be bothered. Mohammed Tawfeeq, Yousuf Basil and Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) remember journalist Sabah al-Bazee who died in Iraq yesterday.
Jomana remembers a trip to a U.S. military base in Tikrit in 2008, where she met up with Sabah.
Because this was in his province, Sabah displayed the renowned Iraqi hospitality.
After lunch, he grabbed some fruit and put it in Jomana's bag. She did not find it until hours later, when she got back to Baghdad.
Like most Iraqis we know and we work with, Sabah has hesitated for years about leaving Iraq to escape the threats and the violence - because he loved his country.
But a few weeks ago, Sabah asked Mohammed for his help and finally applied for asylum in the U.S., saying:
"I don't want to live in Iraq least not in the next five years... It is going to be very difficult."
They noted he had freelanced for CNN since 2006. Chris Cheesman (Amateur Photographer) notes that the 30-year-old who "died after suffering shrapnel wounds" was also a freelancer for Reuters beginning in 2004. Cheesman notes this online portfolio of some of Sabah al-Bazee's work. His death was first noted by Al Arabiya TV -- where he also worked -- and then picked up by AFP. The Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement yesterday which mention that he left behind "his wife and three children" and quoted CPJ's Middle East and North African program coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem stating, "We extend our deepest condolences to Sabah al-Bazi's family and his colleagues. We urge Iraqi authorities to do their utmost to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice." Peter Graff (Reuters) has a piece remembering Sabah al-Bazee which also includes several photos al-Bazee took for Reuters:

Like many of our Iraqi colleagues, he was young. Just 23 or so when he started taking pictures of war for a living. He had boundless energy, constantly pestering our reporters, photographers and cameramen for tips at how to hone his skills. How do you square that boisterousness with the bone-chilling images he photographed over the seven years he worked for us?
"Sabah was an enthusiast, always on the phone, keen to get the news and to tell it," writes Alastair Macdonald, Baghdad bureau chief from 2005-07. "He had an energy and courage that meant he thought nothing of driving the 100 dangerous miles between Tikrit and Baghdad at any hour to deliver video and pictures. I recall that his work rate could sometimes exhaust colleagues, and yet Sabah never seemed to stop smiling."

He was killed in Tikrit yesterday when unknown assailants (wearing Iraqi security forces uniforms) attacked the provincial government building. Tim Arango (New York Times) reports, "The assault turned into a hostage standoff that lasted for hours on Tuesday afternoon, until Iraqi security forces retook the building in the early evening using grenades and small arms fire, with American warplanes overhead, according to a witness. The American military did not participate in the retaking of the building but observed from nearby, according to a military spokesman." Ben Lando (Wall St. Journal) quotes US military spokesperson Col Barry Johnson stating, "Our assistance has been limited to providing aerial surveillance of the scene and keeping our soldiers on site to receive further requests for assistance if needed." Meanwhile on the ground, Mohanned Saif and Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post) report, "Over several hours, the attackers went room to room, tossing grenades down hallways and through doorways and killing local politicians and government workers with shots to the head, according to Iraqi security forces and two witnesses who escaped by jumping out of a second-floor window." Dar Addustour notes the death of al-Bazi (their spelling) but also notes that "a number of other journalists from local TV channels were wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) explains at least one other journalist died (unnamed) and includes this: "Al-Bazi was a freelancer who worked with Reuters, CNN and Al-Arabiya, according to his cousin Mahmoud Salih, also a freelance journalist. Salih -- who said al-Bazi died in the car bombing -- told CNN his cousin contacted him 30 minutes before he died, asking him whether he wanted to film ammunition seized by security forces." Reporters Without Borders notes al-Bazi's death and that Al Fayhaa camera operator Saad Khaled was wounded and identifies the other journalist killed as Muammar Khadir Abdelwahad:

It is not clear exactly how Abdelwahad, who worked for Ayn (Eye Media Agency), died. The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory quoted Ayn as saying he was in permanent contact with the agency while in the building. "We lost contact at the moment of the assault by the security forces. We later learned that he was dead."

"We firmly condemn this indiscriminate slaughter in an operation deliberately targeting a public building," Reporters Without Borders said. "We offer our condolences to the families of all the victims of this act of terrorism, including the two journalists. We urge the authorities to investigate this attack and bring those responsible to justice."

The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory paid tribute to Al-Bazi's professional dedication and personal qualities. Aged 30, he was married and the father of three children. Abdelwahad, 39, had worked for Ayn for two years.

The Journalistic Freedom Observatory notes the deaths of al-Bazi and Muammar Khudair Abdul Wahid and that al-Bazi was a JFO associate since 2006. JFO's Director Ziad Ajili notes that al-Bazi was always professional and did his work for variou soutlets while also volunteering with JFO. JFO expresses it sorrow and condolences to the families of the two journalists and calls for prosecution of those involved in the latest killing which bring to 256 the number of journalists -- Iraqi and foreign -- killed since the start of the Iraq War in March 2003.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Two peas in a pod


son of a bush




Last night at the National Defense University in DC, US President Barack Obama stammered and started and stopped in that gear ripping speaking 'style' he has. (Here for text of speech at The Atlantic; here for text and video at White House website.) As Ava and I noted in early 2009: "We watched Monday in full as Barack uh-uh-uhed and spoke in that robotic manner that allows him to find more unnatural pauses than Estelle Parsons and Kim Stanley combined. 'He's our Method president!' we quickly gasped while wishing we could have one president this decade capable of normal speech. If he gets any worse, he'll be Sandy Dennis."
I have seen and done things I want to forget
A Corporal whose nerves were shot
Climbing behind a fierce, gone sun
I seen flies swarming everyone
Soldiers fell like loads of meat
These are the words, the words are these
Death lingering, stunk
Flies swarming everyone
Over the whole summit peak
Flesh quivering in the heat.
This was something else again
I fear it cannot explain
The words that make, the words that make murder
What if I take my problem to the United Nations
What if I take my problem to the United Nations
What if I take my problem to the United Nations
-- "The Words That Maketh Murder," written by PJ Harvey, from her new album Let England Shake
Last night, Barack was attempting to justify starting the Libyan War but just came across as a "Son of a Bush." Today Prensa Latina carries Fidel Castro's "NATO's Fascist War." He references a February 21st column explaining "The Nato Plan Is To Occupy Libya" (link goes to English version). Today, Castro expresses desbelief, noting that "Not even the fascist leaders of Germany and Italy were so extremely brazen following the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936" and notes that over 50 years ago (March 1960) was the La Coubre incident "when the US killed over 100 Cubans" and the response from the Cuban people was "Fatherland or Death" and he sees a similar response among the people of Libya as a possibility. (La Coubre was a ship which exploded in the Havana Harbor in March 4, 1960. It's generally considered to have been a CIA assault. Time magazine whitewashed it snidely in the March 14, 1960 article.) For community reactions, see Marcia's post, Ruth's, Rebecca's, Elaine's, Mike's, Betty's, Trina's, Kat's, Ann's and Cedric's and Wally's (joint-post) (and if you've had enough of the topic, Stan covers No Ordinary Family at his website).
To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq. Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our troops and the determination of our diplomats, we are hopeful about Iraq's future. But regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.
And it's not something that was done in Iraq. Is he that stupid or is it his speech writers? First off, does he really want to be playing True Confessions when his British buddies like Jack Straw have insisted there was no policy of regime change -- insisted that before the Iraq Inquiry? Second, Saddam Hussein was president of Iraq when the US invaded in 2003. The US took Baghdad April 9, 2003 and Hussein was no where to be found. Presumably, that was regime change. If not, US forces captured him December 13, 2003. Did that qualify as regime change? He stood trial beginning in June of 2004. Are you telling me regime change still hadn't taken place? He was executed December 30, 2006? Regime change still hadn't take place?

What a load of crap. Regime change took place April 9, 2003. The US has occupied Iraq since and propped up a puppet government. A new thug replaced an old one, that's not progress and shame on anyone who attempts to pretend it was.
It's exactly those kinds of lies that breed the violence in Iraq. Today, AFP reports a Tikrit provincial counil building was invaded by assailants wearing "suicide vests" and a security official stated at the time the report was filed, "Police cannot approach because the gunmen are shooting from inside. All of the attackers are wearing suicide belts." DPA notes that before they took control of the building, they first "set off two car bombs outside the headquarters." Citing Ministry of the Interior officials, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports that the assailants wore police uniforms. Lara Jakes and Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) quote the province's governor, Ahmed Abdullah, telling AP, "We've lost contact with three provinicial council members who were inside the building when the attack took place." The death toll continued to rise with updates. By 6:16 PM Baghdad time, Al Jazeera had counted 19 dead and noted, "Rawya Rageh, Al Jazeera's correspondent in the capital Baghdad, said there has not been this kind of attack since the siege on a Baghdad Church" October 31st.
Among the dead is said to be journalist Sabah al-Bazi. Al Arabiya reports their correspondent was one of 20 people killed. AFP reports that, as police rushed to the scene, a car bomb went off claiming the lives of Sabah al-Bazi, police Col Imad Nofan and Nofan's deputy. MediArabe reports 20 dead and sixty injured. By ten p.m. Baghdad time, Zhang Xiang (Xinhua) was reporting 40 dead and one hundred injured while Hassan Obeidi (AFP) was reporting 58 dead and ninety-seven injured. Xiang notes that at least four of the dead "were provincial council members" and that "U.S. helicopters flew over the area as U.S. and Iraqi SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) force arrived in the afternoon at the scene and started operation to free the hostages and killed the suicide bombers, the source said." Obeidi adds, "Hospital sources said they had received the bodies of six attackers. They said two showed they had died after detonating their suicide vests, and four were killed by shots fired by security forces."
Moving just a little further north from Tikrit, you find Kirkuk. Tim Arango (New York Times) reports:
Many in this divided city want U.S. troops to stay longer than President Barack Obama's administration has said they will, and a tense standoff last week showed why. Kurdish troops from the north were in positions on the outskirts of Arab neighborhoods.
To calm the latest flare-up of the longstanding ethnic rivalries here has required a rush of high-level diplomacy, including phone calls from Vice President Joe Biden to Kurdish leaders and the deployment of U.S. troops, a rarity in Iraq today.

Oil-rich Kirkuk, sought after by the KRG and the government or 'government' in Baghdad. A story of grievances of who was forced out most, who suffered the worst, who can claim it. In 2005, a method for resolving the issue was decided upon and written into the Iraqi Constitution. By 2007, a census would be taken followed by a referendum on the issue. The Constitution went into effect in the second half of 2005, Iraq held elections in December 2005. In April 2006, Nouri al-Maliki became prime minister-designate and, in May 2006, prime minister.

Who dropped the ball?

That would be Nouri. Despite being bound by the Constitution, despite then agreeing to the White House benchmarks (which included the resolution of Kirkuk) in 2007, Nouri's never followed through as he was required to do. As late as November, it appeared the census would finally take place. Sure, Nouri had postponed it plenty of times. But it was set for early December and it needed to take place. And Nouri was full of promises to the Kurds of how it would take place. Then he became prime minister designate and, although he couldn't come up with a full Cabinet, he could and did immediately call off the census.

Kirkuk is an issue for Iraqis because, once decided, it will be a sore spot for decades, possibly longer. It is their country and, for those who don't give a damn about that, you really don't decades of hate towards the US because they awarded Kirkuk to one side or the other. By not ensuring that Nouri followed the Constitution, the US has made the decision: Kirkuk belongs to Baghdad. If that doesn't change real damn quick, the US takes the fall for the decision.

The US government has repeatedly supported Nouri and backed him up. They've kept US forces on the ground to ensure he remains in power. To allow him to repeatedly ignore the Constitution is making a decision. By default, the US government is making a decision.

And it's a real damn shame that so few have paid attention to the issue. And a real damn shame John Kerry's become such a joke that he'd support a nominee for US Ambassador (Chris Hill) who clearly didn't grasp the issues in his confirmation hearing despite bragging about the intense tutorial he'd received. Kirkuk was minor, Hill insisted, nothing but a minor land dispute. And it all just sailed over John Kerry's head. And whatever the US had diplomatically accomplished under Ryan Croker fell by the wayside. John Kerry wants to be Secretary of State but he wasn't ready to be Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. From the March 25, 2009 snapshot reporting on then-nominee Chris Hill's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
He was ill prepared throughout and even with the softballs lobbed by the Democratic majority committee, he wasn't able to answer the questions. He was prepped. Senator Edward Kaufman asked a question and Hill was bragging about his prep there. The question was about Kirkuk and Hill wanted the committee to know that, just days ago, he had a special briefing: "I had the briefing. It turns out it is a very complex issue."
"It turns out it is a very complex issue." That statement is frightening. It's all the more frightening that Hill needed the briefing because, as he stated, he couldn't understand what the hold up re: Kirkuk was. It was just a land dispute! (Kirkuk is oil-rich, the Kurdistan Regional Government says it belongs to them and that Saddam diluted Kurdish power and control. The central government wants it as well.) Kirkuk is a great deal more than a land dispute. It goes to history, it goes to long-standing grievances, it goes to resources and it goes to control. That Hill couldn't grasp that as a casual observer is frightening. His remarks on Kirkuk were all over the place throughout the hearing and, had he not informed he'd been briefed on Kirkuk, one would assume he'd never given the matter more than ten seconds thought.
It's not a pressing issue, he insisted. The hydrocarbons law is the pressing issue. Not Kirkuk. Even when he thought it was a mere land dispute, he should have grasped how important Kirkuk is. At times, his answers indicated the US would decide what to do (bad move -- Iraqis need to make that decision because it's their land; the US doesn't need to be involved) and at other times he seemed to think the United Nations. Never once did he seem aware that maybe an regarding Iraqi land should be decided by Iraqis (either just within the province or throughout the country). His grasp of the United Nations work was also troubling because he seems to believe they have this huge team of workers on the ground and that they've always been working on the issue of Kirkuk. Reality, the UN got invovled in the Kirkuk issue last year only because it threatened to derail the provincial elections (and almost did). Hill seems completely ignorant of those realities. He thinks the KRG is the equivalent of Bosnia and Kosovo. He would tell Senator Russ Feingold that the issue of Kirkuk was "just old fashioned land dispute." Told him that today after also claiming that's what he used to think before his briefing days ago. Hill appeared to have no short term memory at all and no record of what he'd said to one senator before answering the other.
Despite having no concept of the issue, Tuesday April 21, 2009, Hill was confirmed by the Senate to the post of US Ambassador to Iraq -- a post in which he was infamous for doing nothing other than taking long afternoon naps. (James Jeffrey is the current US Ambassador to Iraq and -- as anyone would be -- he's a huge improvement over Hill.) While Hill dithered, the situation got much worse. Today Olga Belogolova (National Journal) advises, "In a recent book called Unfinished Business: An American Strategy for Iraq Moving Forward," six Iraq experts, including Brookings Institutions' Kenneth M. Pollack, warn that the fractured region could slip into an all-out civil war." UPI reports, "Last week it took the deployment of U.S. troops to prevent a confrontation after Kurdish soldiers from the north took positions on the outskirts of Kirkuk's Arab neighborhoods." Back when Hill was showing up at his confirmation hearing the then-top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno, had already called Kirkuk the most pressing issue then facing Iraq.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A celebrity with a mission






Rawya Rageh: He might be keeping his shoes on this time around but Iraq's famous shoe thrower is still getting himself in trouble. Munthadhr Alzaydi in the middle of Iraq's recent arrest. After serving jail time for insulting former president George W. Bush, Alzaydi had to live in exile due to security concerns. When thousands across the Arab world started waiving their shoes in protest, Alzaydi knew he had to return to Baghdad. Not thrilled with that decision, Iraqi authorities detained him just one day before Iraq's first mass protest
Munthadhr Alzaydi: Before they released me, they made me sign an affidavit promising not to protest against the democratic state. I said, 'I'll sign ten of those but next Friday, I promise you, I'll be the first to take the streets."
Rawya Rageh: And that he did, flanked by supporters guarding him tightly, an unlikely hero to Iraqis rallying against poor services and corruptions. Munthadhr Alzaydi and his supporters are not just asking for better services in Iraq, they're among those who are specifically asking for the ouster of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The prime minister had described them as out-of-step with the rest of the Iraqi protesters. He says unlike the other Arab governments that were recently toppled, Iraq has a democratic process through which is government was formed.
Munthadhr Alzaydi: Maliki's democracy is one that involves abuse in prisons, botched elections and clinging on to religious figures for legitimacy. His democracy is like that of George Bush: You are either with us or against us.
Rawya Raghe: One group he's banking on in his campaign against the government the families of thousands of prisoners lingering in Iraqi prisons
Munthadhr Alzaydi: If we manage to bring change, great. If we don't? At least we had the honor of trying.
Rawya Raghe: Rawya Raghe, Al Jazeera, Baghdad.
Yesterday it was raining in Baghdad. Young and old Iraqi people gathered in Tahrir square in center of Baghdad, hundreds of Iraqis demonstrate in central Baghdad under the slogan "Friday of accountability" demanding the release of detainees and the prosecution of corrupt officials.
The Iraqi demonstrator has to walk for few miles to get to the square, after the Iraqi government forces closed several streets with barbed wires, one of them is an Iraqi young blogger who is a college student and work as a free lance reporter in free time to make a living, he had been beaten twice by the army in the past weeks demonstrations. He and other Iraqi bloggers and activists had received death threats via SMS messages and on their Facebook accounts. They do not know who sent these threats but they heard stories about some official personalities keeping a close eye on the activists activities on the internet. These threats did not stop them to stand under the rain raising slogans calling for reform and change the system in the face of rampant corruption circles in the state. Surrounded by the military vehicles escorted by detachments of the security force to report the news of the demonstrations is not an easy job ,the writer of this article received 2 threats from unknowns on facebook after posting an updates on the demonstrations.
The groups leading the protests issued the following statement:

After suffering which has lasted eight years, during which our lives and dignity were violated, our livelihoods and our wealth plundered, and the happiness and futures of our children stolen, in the shadow of great oppression, a period the Iraqi people dealt with great ...patience and with their known steadfastness in facing crises; the moment has come in which the Youth of Iraq has broken the silence, and has decided to choose to demonstrate , to strike at oppressors and corrupt, and to state quite bluntly that patience has its limits and that the rights of nations will not be lost; so the Great Rage Revolution was born and crowned the popular movement which has lasted for years.

This is a day which has gone down in the annals of history and whose letters have been engraved with light, that recounted the epics of the nation that rose from its north to the very tips of its south, challenging live ammunition and state repression; it offered more than 20 martyrs of its finest rebell sons; this day has become the turning point in the history of the Iraqi People…. The day we rose against our bad reality; when we attacked great injustice which affected us all, and we came out from being a great silent marginalized majority to a majority that fills the spaces with the sound of justice, that registers an impressive presence which attracts the world's interest.
Based on the foregoing, we say to the free-spirited and defiant youth of Iraq, out of loyalty to the blood - shed by our martyrs and the demands of our patient people, and after lengthy examination of the previous phase, an assessment of our achievements, and taking stock of our failures, we have come out with important matters that we hope everyone will uphold, and take into consideration:

First: The media is half the battle, and is a necessity for those who have the right to promote their cause, and because the media is busy, at present, covering many events in the world, we suggest that we work, during the next phase, on intensifying the building-up for a great demonstration, as was the case before the Rage Uprising on the 25th February.

Secondly: The build -- up for the demonstration on 9.4.2011, the painful anniversary of the occupation of Iraq, which happens to be a Saturday, paying special attention to the fact that the central demonstration will be in Baghdad, the Capital, in Tahrir Square, in order to forestall any party attempting to exploit events for their own special interests, far away from the higher interests of the Iraqi People.

Third: We hope that our people will not repeat the 25th February scenes, and that this time round, they will remain in the Square for a long period of time, to dominate it and thus manufacture the event which will force those concerned to listen to our demands as well as for the media to promote the justice of our demands.

Fourth: Avoid clashing with security forces as much as possible, because as a result of our short experience in demonstrations, they do not possess any other language than brute force when dealing with any protests; and try to deal with them in such manner that assures them, which will force them to deal positively with demonstrators.

Fifth: Form committees to control the anger of the demonstrators - as much as possible, especially in the provinces in order to avoid the burning down of government offices and the destruction of public property, upholding our commitment to demonstrate peacefully, so as not to give the opportunity to those who call the revolutionaries vandals ignoring the reasons for such condemnable actions, despite our understanding of the reasons which caused some people to carry out such acts.

Sixth: We call on all Iraqi communities all over the world and in particular those communities who live in countries where international decisions are made, to move and to support us in our demands; to demonstrate in front of Iraqi Embassies in these countries constitutes pressure on the government as well as the occupation; in addition to embarrassing it internationally especially on presenting the photographs of the government's latest crimes and its suppression of the demonstrators, in order to benefit from the present international atmosphere which condemns every government that suppresses its people who demonstrate peacefully.

In conclusion, we are announcing to the corrupt Green Zone government and to all the sectarian and ethnic political parties and at their forefront, the top of the government pyramid, that we hold him legally responsible for the death of the 25th February martyrs, the coming of a summer much hotter than the one Iraqis suffer without electricity and cold water; we demand that they respond immediately to the demands of the Iraqi People and leave governance to the Iraqi People who have publicly regretted their choice, rather than continue arrogantly in the charade, and we tell them: "today, you may still have the opportunity to do the aforementioned, but no one can guarantee you what will happen tomorrow or the day after at the latest, for darkness possesses one round but right possesses rounds, and that the change that the people are seeking is inevitably coming.

Glory and Eternity to Iraq's Martyrs.
Glory and Eternity to the Martyrs of the Rage Rebellion


1- The Great Iraqi Revolution
2- The 25th February Alliance
3- People's Movement to Save Kirkuk
4- Free Iraq Students and Youth Organization
Meanwhile David Ali (Al Rafidayn) reported over the weekend that the protests and the inability to function are leading some political blocs to speak of ending the partnership government. "Informed sources" (unnamed) tell Ali that the Ayad Allawi has been to Najaf to meet with Moqtada al-Sadr and that there is talk between blocs of forming a new government. Al Rafidayn reported that a meeting took place of Iraqiya leaders in Jordan, called by Saleh al-Mutlaq (one of the candidates banned in the 2010 elections by the Justice and Accountability Ministry) and other participants are said to have included Osama al-Najafi (Speaker of Parliament), Dhafer al-Ani and Jamal Karbouli. Ayad Allawi is said to have not been present for the meet up. The unnamed official detailing the meeting to the paper insists that Allawi is seen as weak and giving in to compromises when he should have fought. Iraqiya's spokesperson states that Ayad Allawi took his name out of the running for chairing the National (Security) Council due to the fact that a vote on the Council was delayed repeatedly. The spokesperson notes that Iraqiya has not nominated anyone new to the position. Today Alsumaria TV reports, "In a meeting with a group of Iraqi academics, analysts and politicians, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki said he considers calling for a no-confidence vote on his government if his political partners carry on challenging him, an informed source told Alsumaria News. Maliki believes the political process in Iraq cannot succeed under the present Constitution, the source speaking on condition of anonymity said." Everyone's out to get him! Iraqiya! The National Alliance!!! It's Nouri and Nouri only fighting for Iraq! You sort of get the feeling that the US does do get a psych consult when auditioning would-be despots; however, the crazier they are, the more the US wants in that role. And crazy is Nouri who apparently is now going to declare war on the Iraqi Constitution. Oh, that's going to be pretty. Al Mada reports that Babacar Zebari, the Iraqi Army's Chief of Staff, has declared that Iraq is ready to face any emergency internally. It's a sad statement on Iraq's 'government' that they have to boast of being able to defend themselves from internal threats (that would be their own people). It's equally true that there is still no Minister of Homeland Security.

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