Saturday, April 27, 2013

Raving lunatic dictates AFP, Al Jazeera and Christian Science Monitor coverage








Is Iraq Veterans Against the War doing parody?  I'm about to pull their link because of the crap that just went up under Patrick McCarthy's name. 

Brother Barrack, I'm really proud of you sir! I was wavering for a moment because of the drone thing-(nightmare). Children being killed by American air assets is a touchy subject for me but, we've all done things we're not proud of; we just need to make amends for them, that's being a man. Y'all are making sure the bombing suspect gets a fair trial. By maintaining the rights of all humans you can show the nay sayers what give me liberty or give me death means. Americans are supposed to be a people of peace that believe unconditionally in fairness and justice.
"Enemy combatants"- criminals-(Men) deserve a fair trial sir, lets retake the moral high ground with superior integrity not firepower and force.

Okay, Marcia's already called IVAW out recently for the sexism. "That's being a man"?  Oh the faux macho of those males who turn against war.  Not all but we're clearly miles from the 2008 IVAW.  I'm not supporting this crap.  Nor do I pretend that killing people with drones can be forgiven by anyone else getting a fair trial.

IVAW has wasted and withered in the last four years.  I've stood by them and avoided slamming them.  But they've lost many of the core members, people who haven't left no longer identify as IVAW in public and they're a nothing group.

Where were they on any damn issue to do with veterans?  I'm really sorry but if you want a make an impact, you start addressing veterans issues.  I speak to groups of veterans who can't stand me or my politics -- and I'm aware of that, that's fine -- but they will listen because I'm addressing veterans issues.  IVAW has failed to do so.  They do not lead on any health issue.  They have allowed IAVA to become the premiere and sole organization for today's young veterans.

When Marcia's post went up, I heard about it over and over. From female veterans who were tired of IVAW's "macho s**t" and tired of the fact that it  provides no leadership or advocacy on Military Sexual Trauma -- that includes a female veteran who was part of Winter Solider.  You are pissing off everyone who once supported you.  Today you allow a member to post that a fair trial for someone wipes away The Drone War.  Really?  Is that a gift from Barack Obama?  Because I kind of thought that was guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States of America -- or have you never heard of the Sixth Amendment?

I've already had three phone calls on this and has it even been up a half hour?  Four.  Ava's handing me a phone, hold on.  Okay.  Four IVAW members furious with the garbage that went up.  Can't say I blame them.

So now we praise people for following the Constitution -- as opposed to demanding that they do?  Oh, how low to the ground you crawl.

IVAW has made itself useless.  It has alienated women veterans, it has allowed itself to be ripped apart by arguments between Democratic members and Socialists (IVAW has members of all political stripes -- but in 2008 the fissure emerged between Democrats and Socialists and it never went away -- though it did leave many members to exit).  It has failed to lead on any issue.  It's failed to lead on veterans suicides, it's failed to engage with Congress, they couldn't even offer a statement on burn pits.  As the last months of 2012 saw Barack send in more US troops to Iraq, IVAW couldn't even acknowledge it -- not even a link to Tim Arango's first report on the issue in September of last year.  You've failed to get your house in order.   As Rebecca noted in March, when she dubbed them "the useless:"

but until they start standing for veterans, veterans have no use for them.
i'm sorry that no 1 ever explained p.r. to the group. 1st clue?  don't elect a 9-11 truther to be your leader. i'm not insulting 9-11 truthers.  i'm saying when your leader's 1, that's a distraction. they should have been working on disability issues, they should have been working on claims issues. instead, everything out of their mouth is political. do they not get how sick the country - and veterans in particular - has become with politics?

When they wrongly distanced themselves from Matthis Chiroux,  Jose Vasquez  issued a statement that ended with, "Our messaging is important and in the future we should all make an effort to reach consensus with those we organize with in an open way about how we represent IVAW." They may not be 'members in good standing,' but I've already heard from four IVAW members complaining about the crap that went up at the website tonight -- and that was less than 30 minutes ago -- stating it doesn't represent them.  Matthis was run out for burning a flag -- his own individual decision, representing only himself.  But you continue to put the half-baked 'wisdoms' of Patrick McCarthy up at your site including that now The Drone War is forgiven?  You've made yourself a joke.

On this week's Voices of the Middle East and North Africa (KPFA, Wednesday nights, 7:00 pm PST), the last segment featured Iraqi poet and Gallatin School of NYU professor Sinan Antoon reading his poetry.  He is a novelist and poet and, of his three books of poetry, the one widely available in the US is  The Baghdad Blues.  Excerpt.

I sit before one of those screens
Death in all languages.
The tower of Babel has disintegrated
Into a shore littered with corpses
My body is a tired boat
Silence is its mast.
I turn the channels
And corpses toss and turn.

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 462 violent deaths in Iraq for April.  Over a fourth of those deaths have taken place this week (as of last Saturday, IBC's count was 328).

National Iraqi News Agency notes rebels clashed with Nouri's federal forces in Hadeetha and Kubaisa, 1 police officer was shot dead in Falluja, 5 Sahwa were shot dead outside of Tikrit,  a Baquba bombing left one person injured, a Mosul bombing left twelve people injured, one civilian was injured in a Falluja shooting, a Sadr City car bombing claimed 1 life and left seven others injured, a bombing in southern Baghdad left seven people injured, a Mosul roadside bombing left twelve injured, and two Baghdad bombings -- both targeting mosques; Malik al-Ashter Mosque and al-Qubeisi Mosque  -- left 2 dead and thirty injuredNINA also notes "that all the units of federal police withdrew from inside the city of Falluja" and quotes a security source stating, "The withdrawal came in the wake of violent clashes between insurgents and police."

At Anbar University today, protesters condemned the Hawija massacre. National Iraqi News Agency reports that sit-ins took place in Falluja and Ramadi.  Alsumaria reports thousands turned out in Ramadi (look at the picture even if you don't read Arabic -- the size of the crowd is impressive)  and they decried the killing of peaceful protesters in Hawija.   NINA reports, "Preachers in Diyala denounced storming arenas of sit-in Haweeja by the army and the killing of protesters, strongly condemning the government for what happened in Hawija of Kirkuk province."   They quote a coordinating member of the Anbar demonstrations stating "the Maliki government has lost its legitimacy when ordered army to open fire against unarmed people."   Alsumaria covers the protesters in Mosul (check out the picture) noting the demonstration expressed its solidarity with the people of Hawija and called for one Iraq of one people where the people are safe from Nouri's forces.

On Tuesday, Nouri's forces took to the air in helicopters to shoot at them and rolled over them with military vehicles, shot at them, arrested them.  All for the 'crime' of taking part in a sit-in.   Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) quoted Anbar Salvation Council's Sheik Ahmed abu Risha stating, "Maliki should be prosecuted like Saddam Hussein for what he does to the people." Mushreq Abbas (Al-Monitor) explores the Hawija attack, the 50 dead and 110 injured and offers:

Ultimately, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki might be to blame for what occurred in his capacity as head of the government, commander in chief of the armed forces and the official directly in charge of running the interior and defense ministries, as well as the national security and intelligence services, which have lacked directors for the past three years.

Nouri's State of Law crony Sa'ad al-Muttalibi took to Press TV today -- knowing that they would let him lie as Iranian government's Press TV always lets State of Law lie --  to smear the dead, "those who were killed in Hawijah, they were not civilians, they were armed groups belonging to the Nagshebendi organization or Ba'ath Party members and definitely they were not civilians."  He wasn't done smearing -- please remember Nouri al-Maliki only remains in power because the White House props him up -- al-Muttalibi also wanted to link the US to these events in Hawija, he then went on to smear cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr and his supporters, "The Sadrists are definitely against Maliki, they are Shia but they are against the will of the Shia people in Iraq."  Also State of Law only holds 89 seats in Parliament, al-Muttalibi tries to fudge the issue and imply otherwise.

Iraqiya MP Liqaa Wardi speaks with NINA and states Nouri's reckless actions in Hawija have "created unprecedented reactions of anger." 

Tim Arango (New York Times) reports on the efforts of "Western diplomats" noting:

The continuing battles on Thursday, which by late afternoon had left nearly 50 people dead, most of them described by security official as militants, came as Western diplomats intensified efforts to persuade Mr. Maliki and his government to back away from a military solution to the Sunni uprising. The urgings were met with justifications for the heavy hand, partly out of fears that the situation would otherwise deteriorate into another Syria, according to one Western diplomat and an official close to Mr. Maliki, both of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity. Another diplomat, who also agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity, said a fierce disagreement had erupted within the military command between Sunnis who opposed the military response and Shiite officers who directed it.

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Friday, April 26, 2013

They're made for each other







Iraq is in crisis mode.  No one's helped by false 'facts.'  This, from World Bulletin, is wrong, "Thousands of Sunnis have been protesting since December, venting frustrations building up since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the empowerment of Iraq's Shi'ite majority through the ballot box."  Protests have been going on since December.  If you leave out Moqtada's followers who have participated from time to time, you can paint it as just Sunni.  But that's not the problem. You can't pin down a problem if you can't be honest.

"The empowerment of Iraq's Shi'ite majority through the ballot box"?  What have you been smoking? Quil Lawrence and all the other liars told us about that, remember?  Told us about it before the ballots were counted.  But, the ballots did get counted.  And the 2010 election didn't support the premise one bit.

Who came in first?  Not Nouri's State of Law -- a Shi'ite collection.  Iraqiya came in first.  It's often wrongly identified as Sunni by the press.  Ayad Allawi, the head of Iraqiya, is Shi'ite.  Iraqiya surprised the know-nothing press by besting Nouri's State of Law.

They misread 2009 elections and were sure they knew what was going to happen in 2010.  Which is how you got, the day after the election, Quil Lawrence on NPR raving about how Nouri's State of Law won by a large measure.  Didn't happen.

In 2009, one of the elements in the data appeared to be that voters were rejecting the sectarian identity.  That wouldn't have been a surprise.  The sectarian identity was seen by many as something imposed on Iraqis by the US after the start of the war.  Even those who want to quibble over that can generally agree that the US fostered that sectarian identity and encouraged it.

The 2010 elections repeated the pattern.  Iraqis were seeking a national identity (as they had prior to the start of the illegal war).  There are numerous reasons for this -- most of which we've repeatedly gone into while the know-nothing press has refused to do their job -- but the point is that Iraqiya won.
SOme in the press want to knock the win by insisting it wasn't big enough.  If you win a track race by a-half-a-second, you won that race.  If you win a US Senate race by one vote, you won that race.

If the vote was close, you might ask for a recount.  Which Nouri did, stomping his feet and whining as is usually the case for the overgrown baby.

But even after the recounts, Iraqiya won.  It was a new Iraq, that's what it presented.  Not an occupied Iraq, not an Iraq controlled by the fundamentalist thugs.  It was an Iraq made up of Sunnis and Shi'ites and anyone else who wanted to join, it was men and women and the women weren't decoration. It's slogan could have been "We are today's Iraq."  And that's what the voters embraced.

So, no, 2010 was not about "the empowerment of Iraq's Shi'ite majority through the ballot box."

The votes went with Iraqiya. Here's what happened -- and it matters and the people have said so, they said so this year, they said so in 2012 and they said so in 2011.  At some damn point, you either admit you don't care about what you're writing or you start listening to what the people are actually saying.

Per the Constitution, Iraqiya had first shot at the post of Prime Minister.  How it works in Iraq, confusing to many Americans, the prime minister-designate is decided by who has the most seats in the Parliament.  The prime minister-designate is a post that lasts no longer than 30 days.

During those 30 days, the designate has to be able to form a Cabinet.  Failure to do so within thirty days means someone else is named prime minister-designate by the president of Iraq. This is a full Cabinet -- another element that's too hard for the press to grasp.  If it was a partial or almost Cabinet there wouldn't be a 30 day deadline.  The 30 day deadline is to prove, as one of the writers of the Constitution now in the US explained to me, that you can govern by consensus, you can build consensus.  So you nominate people for your Cabinet and the Parliament approves of these people.  And then you move from prime minister-designate to prime minister.  Or, if you fail to build consensus, if Parliament shoots down a nominee and you don't manage to pull together the Cabinet in 30 days, someone else is named prime minister-designate.

Now Barack Obama couldn't support democracy.  That's bad enough but he and his staff were so stupid that they didn't even realize how to rig the process.

Bully Boy Bush wanted Nouri in 2006 (he rejected Ibrahim al-Jaffari -- some pin that decision on Condi Rice, doesn't matter Bush was the ultimate vote on that).  In 2010, A Problem From Hell Samantha Power insisted that the US had to stay with Nouri.  This was based in part on the fact that the idiot is f**ked-up beyond repair and also because she's a liar who believes in manipulation and not honesty.  (Is it any wonder that she'd end up with Cass I-Love-Propaganda Sunstein?) Her failings aren't the issue once Barack adopts her position.  Like Bush, he's ultimately responsible.

I'm not endorsing ignoring the will of the people, but if you're brazen enough to do that, have the damn sense to do it in a way that doesn't make the people feel cheated.

What does that mean?  After 2010 elections, the US government spread a lot of cash around Iraq and made a lot of verbal promises to get The Erbil Agreement.

That was always unnecessary.  They still could have rigged it and could have done so in a way that still followed the country's Constitution.  Have President Jalal Talabani name Ayad Allawi prime minister-designate.  Use the same cash and the same verbal promises to ensure that he didn't get a full Cabinet.  Parliament rejected one or two nominees and the 30 days had expired.  Then Jalal could have named Nouri al-Maliki to be prime minister-designate.

That would have followed the Constitution, it would have appeared to honor the will of the people.  It certainly wouldn't have created the hostilities that Barack's 'three-dimensional chess' did.

They wanted to rig the process and, suffering from the Freudian compulsion of a crook to confess, apparently they wanted it known.

So when Nouri refused to allow the process to move forward -- let's explain that.  In January 2009, Barack Obama was sworn in as US President.  Following the end of the recounts, April 2010, it was time for a prime minister-designate to be named, for members of Parliament to be sworn in and hold sessions.  Nouri refused.  It was as if Bully Boy Bush announced January 1, 2009, "I'm not leaving the White House."  And Barack's White House backed up Nouri.

They begged the press -- which was eager to go along -- to downplay what was happening.  Some in the press were appealed to under the pretense of, "This is such a thorny issue, we really need to think about how explosive this could be."  So reality was downplayed.  Explosive?  Maybe it would have been.  But you can't downplay an explosion.  You may be able to push it back but it will go off.

We called it a "political stalemate" here and were the first.  After three months it began to be a popular term.  For over eight months, Nouri refused to step down.  That takes us to November.  The US has been bribing and promising the political blocs all along.  Nouri is the White House's choice.  That's become obvious to everyone involved in Iraq. 

It was also obvious to many in the press leading to humiliating moments for Barack like in  when the Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality."

While he was taking his licks on the international stage, he had US officials telling the leaders of the Iraqi political blocs, as the US brokered a contract known as The Eribl Agreement, "This has lasted eight months already, Nouri could hold out for another eight months.  Do the right thing here, be the bigger person, put Iraq first.  It really doesn't matter who has 'prime minister.' It's going to have to be a power-sharing government because State of Law didn't win.  So just give him the post of prime minister and we'll write up in this contract and we'll put what you want in the contract to and it will be a legally binding contract with the full backing of the US government."

Before it was signed, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Australia November 8, 2010 and stated:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: Probably over the course of the last eight months, we've had many indications that they were close to an agreement, they were on the brink of government formation, they had worked out their power-sharing arrangements only not to see that come to fruition. But it is fair to say that we have been consistently urging the Iraqis to have an inclusive government that reflects the interests and needs of the various segments of the population, the there had to be legitimate power-sharing amongst different groups and individuals. And that is what we hope at the end of this process [. . .] will be the result of all of their negotiation.

That same day, Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) reported Nouri's spokesperson "claimed an agreement has been struck for him to remain in office."  November 9th talks went on:

Today, meetings continued. Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) reminds, "Leading up to Monday's meeting, officials had said they were close to completing an agreement, but remarks made by a number of the leaders indicated that they have yet to address key sticking points that remain unresolved ahead of this week's parliament session." And Raheem Salman and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) point out, "If they fail to strike a deal, the stalemate could drag on for months. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reports the US is pressuring Kurds to step aside regarding the presidency so that someone from Iraqiya can be president -- Fadel names US Senators Joe Lieberman and John McCain (in person in Baghdad) and US President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden -- and that Nouri "is trying to garner the backing he needs [from Iraqi politicians] to keep his post without ceding any of his power.  Maliki emerged as the likeliest candidate for the top job in the new government when he secured the support of the Sadrists, a populist Shiite political movement opposed to the U.S. presence here." BBC News reports that Allawi and Tareq al-Hashemi did not show for today's meet up (al-Hashemi is also a member of Iraqiya as well as Iraq's Sunni Vice President) and that "[a]nother issue still to be resolved is whether parliament will meet on Thursday as previously announced." Sammy Ketz (AFP) reports that Iraq's Shi'ite Vice President, Adel Abdel Mehdi, walked out of today's meeting. Alsumaria TV reports that MP Saifya Al Suhail spoke out about the absence of women present in the deal making and that she stated, "A democratic Iraq cannot be built without women contribution to the political decision." Mazin Yahya (AP) adds, "Producing a deal by Thursday's scheduled parliamentary session will be difficult and while legislators have watched other deadlines come and go, there is a marked sense of urgency about meeting this court-appointed deadline to hold the session."  So, reports indicate, day two was actually less productive than day one since all players were not present and no big announcement was made.  When this was originally planned, it was thought it would be three days with main principles participating for the first two days only -- during which time, it was promoted, all the big points would be ironed out.  That does not appear to have happened.  Especially when Alsumaria TV is reporting that Iraqiya stated today "that the possibility of withdrawing is still open".

I believe  Leila Fadel (Washington Post) was the first to report what the rumors said the make up of the government would be: "Under the deal reached Wednesday, the parliament is expected to appoint a speaker from Iraqiya, then name the current Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, as president. He, in turn, will name Maliki as prime minister. Maliki will then have to put together a cabinet that a simple majority in Iraq's parliament will have to approve."  November 11, 2010, Parliament met:

Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports one hiccup in the process today involved Ayad Allawi who US President Barack Obama phoned asking/pleading that he accept the deal because "his rejection of post would be a vote of no confidence". Ben Lando, Sam Dagher and Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) confirm the phone call via two sources and state Allawi will take the post -- newly created -- of chair of the National Council On Higher Policy: "Mr. Obama, in his phone call to Mr. Allawi on Thursday, promised to throw U.S. weight behind the process and guarantee that the council would retain meaningful and legal power, according to the two officials with knowledge of the phone call."  So all is well and good and . . . Ooops!!!! Lando, Dagher and Coker file an update, Iraqiya wasn't happy and walked out of the session.  Prashant Rao (AFP) reports that "a dispute erupted in the Council of Representatives chamber when the mostly Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc argued that the agreement they had signed on to was not being honoured, prompting the bloc's MPs to storm out. [. . .] Specifically, Iraqiya had called for three of their lawmakers, barred for their alleged ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath party, to be reinstated before voting for a president." 

 Barack was deeply involved.  Don't pretend otherwise now.  And don't pretend that Sunnis are frustrated by "the empowerment of Iraq's Shi'ite majority through the ballot box." That is an utter lie.  And it does not one damn thing to explain what's happening on the ground today.  

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

When Bully Met Barry . . .







Sometime when we have reached the end
With the velvet hill in the small of our backs
And our hands are clutching the sand
Will our blood become a part of the river
All of the rivers are givers to the ocean
According to plan, according to man
There's a chance peace will come
In your life please buy one
-- "Peace Will Come (According to Plan)," written by Melanie, first appears on her Leftover Wine

Fed up with empty promises?  Tired of the change that never came?  Cindy Sheehan's not just talking about a better world, she's doing her part to create one with the  Tour De Peace.  Over the weekend, she noted:

I will continue this rolling vigil for peace and justice, whether I ride alone, or not; but it would be much better for me, and the children of the world, if this cause for peace and justice got as much support as the one we held in Crawford, TX received, wouldn't it?  It would show our government and the terrorized people of the world that people in the US do oppose what the Empire is about.

The Tour De Peace finds her bicycling to DC.  Today, she's finishing up in Arizona.  Tomorrow she starts riding through New Mexico.  Tomorrow evening, in Babe Ruth Park (Gallup, New Mexico) Cindy Sheehan's Tour De Peace will have a gathering at 6:00 pm.  Hank Woji will be performing.  Details here.

This week's broadcast of Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox includes her discussing the ride for peace with Abby Martin (RT's Breaking The Set).  Excerpt.

Cindy Sheehan:  We're trying to call attention to whistle-blowers, to the war economy, to the money spent on war.  We're trying to call attention to the fact that there are War Crimes happening right now -- the previous administration committed War Crimes and crimes against humanity and the current administration is protecting those War Criminals while they're persecuting whistle-blowers and other social justice and peace activists also.  And so, I'm upset with Obama, I'm upset with the empire as usual.  But I'm more frustrated with the movement -- or the lack of movement in the movement.  So DC is an important place, but we want to organize across the country.  We want to rally people together to say that these wars are still happening, Obama has expanded Africa to the 35 or 36 countries where US troops are or drones are, and it's just pitiful the lack of response to it.  

You can show your opposition to the war economy of empire and hang out with Cindy tomorrow in Babe Ruth Park. 

In Iraq?  Today did not bring the peace -- or even just a minor ease of tensions -- that so many no doubt hoped for.   Tim Arango (New York Times) reports, "In what appeared to be a new phase in an intensifying conflict that has raised fears of greater bloodshed and a wider sectarian war, Iraqi soldiers opened fire from helicopters on Sunni gunmen hiding in a northern village on Wednesday, officials said."  Those are weaponized helicopters that were supplied by the United States.  National Iraqi News Agency cites with Kurdistan Alliance MP Ashwaq al-Jaf who states that the helicopters attacked Sulaiman Bek (Salahuddin Province) and that, "Kifri Hospital shortly received dozens of injured in Sulaiman Bek, after some villages were bombed by aircraft of Iraqi army."

Violence today was massive.  All Iraq News notes a Tuz Khurmato car bombing claimed the lives of 3 people and left eleven injured, an armed clash in Tuz Khurmato claimed the lives of 4 members of the Iraqi military and 7 rebels, an armed attack on the Salam Bek left 6 police officers dead, a Tikrit bombing left 3 Iraqi soldiers dead and a fourth injured, a Baghdad car bombing claimed 1 life and left nine more people injured, an armed attack in Mosul left 1 Iraqi soldier dead, and a Tarmiya car bombing claimed 3 lives and left eight injuredNINA adds that 1 police officer and 3 of his bodyguards were shot dead in Tikrit (with another member of the police left injured), an attack in Falluja left three police members injured, a second attack in Falluja on a police patrol car left two officers injured, 2 rebels who attacked a Mosul army checkpoint were shot dead, when Nouri's thugs in Baiji attempted to attack the ongoing, peaceful sit-in they were greeted by armed rebels with 19 people being left dead or injured (on "both sides"), and an armed clash in Tikrit left 1 police officer and 7 rebels dead.

We're saying "rebels" and that's what they are now.  The media allowed the US government to intimidate them on terminology at the start of the war.  These are rebels.  If you're not getting that, let's drop over to Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN):

On Wednesday, Sulaiman Pek was completely under control of militants, Ali Hashim, a member of the Salaheddin provincial council, told CNN.
Iraqi security forces withdrew from the town to prevent more bloodshed there, he said. Most of the gunmen are residents of the town, Hashim added.

 So the city's controlled by it's own "residents."  That's a rebellion.  Last night, Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) offered, "The unrest led two Sunni officials to resign from the government and risked pushing the country's Sunni provinces into an open revolt against Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, a Shiite. The situation looked to be the gravest moment for Iraq since the last U.S. combat troops left in December 2011."   That was a very good but what has taken place since that call, on the ground in Iraq, is not a revolt, actions across Iraq are too widespread for a revolt.  That makes it a rebellion as anyone who studied political science (that includes me) damn well knows.

Saying "unknown assailants" and "gunmen" may have made some sense at one time.  We've used the first term here repeatedly.  But that's not what's being described today.  Nouri would love those terms to be used because they're vague and they can be twisted to include 'foreigners.'

Sulaiman Pek is under the control of its local residents who rebelled against Nouri's forces -- rebelled against the forces and dispersed them.  Those are rebels, that's a rebellion.  It may be short-lived and gone by the end of the week or it may last for a longer period of time (might become a civil war) but terms do matter and the terms were defined long, long ago before Bully Boy Bush ever entered office and the press ever decided to take orders from him.  The worst of the press, Dan Rather, isn't even an anchor anymore, thank heavens.  September 17, 2001, 'brave' Dan declared on David Letterman's CBS talk show of Bully Boy Bush, "He makes the deicisions, and you know, it's just one American, wherever he wants me to line up, just tell me where, and he'll make the call."

 Dan Rather is a coward and was always a coward.  Every now and then someone will note something in an e-mail that Dan's done, something 'brave.'  Not interested.   If you're in the news industry, you'd be smart not to do what Dan did and that includes being a cowardly toady convinced that if you kept your mouth shut and let others (like Mary Mapes) take the fall, the network would stand by you.  When you're reporting is challenged, CNN, CBS and the rest don't look at it in terms of journalism if the challenge is coming from the government, they look at it under a completely different standard -- and no journalist will ever win on those grounds.  It's probably set-up that way, in fact.  April Oliver and others learned it at CNN.  Dan Rather still can't learn it despite being fired and suing (and losing to) CBS.

Terms are terms and they exist for a reason.  It does matter what you call something.  What took place today was a rebellion.

Using the wrong terms distorts reality and confuses on events.  That's what happens in the report by Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) on Sulaiman Bek, "The clashes occurred when Iraqi security forces backed by helicopters stormed the town in the early morning hours, after dozens of militants seized the town late Tuesday night." Residents seized their own town?  No, they asserted their rights as citizens.  Then Nouri's forces came in shooting.

Why were they there to begin with? Salahuddin may not be independent but that's not their fault.  They took the measures and Nouri illegally and unconstitutionally ignored them.  Let's drop back to December 13, 2011:

Thursday, October 27th, Salahuddin Province's council voted to go semi-autonomous.  The next step would be a referendum (that Nouri al-Maliki's government out of Baghdad would have to pay for) and, were the popular vote to back up the council and were the rules followed (always a big if with Nouri as prime minister), Baghdad would control only 14 provinces (of the 18).  Friday, October 28th, residents of Anbar Province took to the streets advocating for their province to follow Salahuddin's lead.  When Nouri finally issued a public statement on Salahuddin's move, what did he do?  Play the B-card. Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) quoted a statement from Nouri declaring, "The Baath Party aims to use Salahuddin as a safe haven for Baathists and this will not happen thanks to the awareness of people in the province. Federalism is a constitutional issue and Salahuddin provincial council has no right to decide this issue."  Yesterday Aswat al-Iraq reported, "Iraqi Parliament Speaker Usama Nujaifi today charged the Cabinet with violating the constitution by rejecting requests to refer Salahal-Din Province's request to declare itself a region to the Election Commission."  How could Nouri be violating the Constitution?  Back in October,  Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) explained, "In actual fact, article 119 of the Iraqi constitution requires only that a referendum be held in a province following a request for regional status by one-third of the members of the provincial council, or one-tenth of the population." From the Iraqi Constitution:

Article 119:
One or more governorates shall have the right to organize into a region based on a request to be voted on in a referendum submitted in one of the following two methods:
First: A request by one-third of the council members of each governorate intending to form a region.
Second: A request by one-tenth of the voters in each of the governorates intending to form a region.
Per the Constitution, Salahuddin Province has already met step one. And met it back in October.  Nouri's refusal to follow the next step is what puts him in violation of the Constitution.

The Kurdish Globe summarized these events as:

The provincial council of Salahadin last October unanimously supported making the province an autonomous region after the dismissal of faculty members from the University of Tikrit and mass arrests in Salahaddin province. Last October, the Baghdad Ministry of Higher Education dismissed 140 faculty members from the University of Tikrit in Salahaddin Province. The ministry pointed out that "it was simply following the parliamentary directive on "de-Baathification." Later, Iraqi security forces started an operation in the central and southern provinces, arresting former members of the Baath Party and accusing them of plotting a coup against Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government after the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops at the end of this year.

So what you've got is Nouri attacking a province that declared its independence in October of 2011 and you've got him attacking it with helicopters shooting blindly on the area -- displacing families -- because residents are in control of a city?

Who's in control of Nouri because someone needs to yank the leash.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

From the crystal ball of John Dickerson






The US weapons industry, an industry responsible for so many dead and so many injured each year, announced December 24, 2012 "a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Iraq" -- a $125 million deal (they usually have cost overruns) of VSAT "operations and maintenance services" which, they insisted, "serves the interests of the Iraqi people and the United States."  An August 15, 2012 proposed sale, they insisted, would "contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country."  The July 20, 2012 sale was such a miracle, they insisted, that it would "improve the security of a friendly country" and "serves the interests of the Iraqi people and the United States."  And we can do this all day, in fact it might take several days to note all the arming of Nouri al-Maliki that the US has done, a thug who is unbalanced and whose "paranoia" (the term is repeatedly used) is even noted in US State Dept cables.

All of the above and the other weapon sales are why the slaughter in Hawija took place today.  And sending the exta-Constitutional Operation Tigris Command forces to close off the entrances of Ramadi, or having these thugs impose "a full curfew" in Muqdadiya,  or a curfew on Mosul, or banning traffic in Falluja, or even all these combined measures will not erase the slaughter, will not bring the dead back, will not wipe away the horror of the Iraqi people at seeing their fellow citizens mowed down by armed thugs working for Nouri al-Maliki.

The western press, the Whore Press Corps, failed to do their job.  It's no secret that the US government coddled Nouri al-Maliki under Bully Boy Bush and continues to do so under Barack Obama.  But the press can't hide behind that excuse.  The reason they are in Iraq, is to report for the world what is happening.

Friday, Nouri's forces attacked a Hawija sit-in killing 1 protester and wounding three others.  Hawija's sit-in is part of an ongoing series of protests across Iraq that have lasted over 100 days, first kicking off on December 21st.  As such, this should have been huge news.  But removing Hawija from the tapestry of national protests, turning it into a stand-alone event, when a sit-in is attacked, it's news.

News is not something you just Tweet about.

Protestor killed in clashes with army in Huwaijah near Kirkuk. Army says it was defending position. Witnesses say soldiers opened fire

So Arraf agreed on Friday, that a protester was killed.  That wasn't news?  Hell, it was only worth one Tweet to her.  Go check out her non-stop Tweets on the election which almost half of Iraq's eligible voters decided to boycott.

Arraf and others seem to think that they're in Iraq to cover officials. They hope they're court historians but they're really just court jesters.

Any sane person should be able to read Jane Arraf's Tweet and ask, "In what world, does the military show up at a sit-in?"

Now that issue has been raised.

By protesters.  By the Iraqi press.  But AFP, Jane Arraf and others have treated it as normal to dispatch the national military into areas where peaceful protests are taking place.  They've treated it as normal for Nouri to trash the Constitution, to ignore it, and create his own security body -- Operation Tigris Command -- without going through Parliament as the Constitution requires.

Thug Nouri created his own para-military forces, unrecognized by the Constitution, and sent them into areas -- often disputed areas like Kirkuk -- and they have attacked the protesters.

Repeatedly attacked.

January 24th,  Nouri's forces sent two protesters (and one reporter) to the hospital and that January 7th, Nouri's forces assaulted four protesters in Mosul. January 25th, his forces fired on Falluja protesters, killing and wounding many. March 8th, Nouri's force fired on protesters in Mosul killing three.

Here's Human Rights Watch on the attack on the Falluja protesters:

Iraqi authorities should complete promised investigations into the army killings of nine protesters in Fallujah on January 25, 2013, and make the results public. The authorities need to ensure that there will be independent investigations into the deaths, in addition to the promised inquiries by a parliamentary committee and the Defense Ministry, and that if there is evidence of unlawful killing, those responsible are prosecuted.'
In the January 25 incident, protesters threw stones at army troops, who responded with live fire.
“Iraqi authorities seem to think that announcing an investigation is all that’s required when security forces kill protesters,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The government needs to show it will not tolerate abuses by making public the results of the investigation and ensuring that those responsible are investigated and prosecuted for any unlawful use of lethal force.”

Click here for Human Rights Watch on the March 8th and other attacks.

This is not normal and it shouldn't be acceptable.  The US government has already given billions to Nouri and plans, in Fiscal Year 2014, to give billions more.  The US government should not be supporting a tyrant who greets peaceful protests by mowing down the protesters.

Instead, it's as though it's June 5, 1989, and the White House is on the phone to the government of China asking, "What can we give you?  Billions?  Weapons?  What'll help you with that pesky little protest in Tianamen Square?"

And the government can do this, the US government can get away with it, as long as the western press refuses to do their job.  When they treat as normal, or as an aisde, a government attacking its own people, they create the space for the Augusto Pinochets to terrorize and kill people.

This is not normal and this is not acceptable.  This didn't just happen, it's been taking place for months.  And today, it was a blood bath in Hawija.

Nouri al-Maliki used his extra-constitutional Operation Tigris Command forces to kill protesters in Hawija.  Tim Arango (New York Times) reports, "Iraqi security forces stormed a Sunni protest encampment in a village near the northern city of Kirkuk on Tuesday, sparking clashes between government forces and gunmen that left dozens dead and wounded and sharply raised the stakes in Iraq’s sectarian troubles."

Today's attack follows days of a military siege of Hawija.  A detail the western press wasn't too concerned with despite calls from Iraqi politicians for the military to leave and the UN to come in, despite the military refusing to allow food and aid to reach the protesters -- even when that aid was carried by members of Parliament.  See yesterday's snapshot if you're just learning of what's been going on.

Mohammed Tawfeeq and Saad Abedine (CNN) quote Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi stating that the military is being used as "a tool to suppress the people and not to defend them.  We condemn in the strongest words of condemnation and denunciation the unfortunate crime committed by the army against the demonstrators in Hawija," al-Nujaif is a member of Iraqiya, the political slate that bested Nouri's State of Law in the 2010 elections.  Al Mada notes that cleric and movement leader (and Nouri's main Shi'ite rival) Moqtada al-Sadr declared that the government's actions have opened the door to illegal violence.

Moqtada declared that Iraqis dream and speak of the days of violence as behind them, a door closed, but then the government acts in an illegal and excessive manner, opening the door to violence all over again.   Moqtada stressed that only days ago, Iraqis were being asked to participate in a democratic process (voting) and now, again, the sounds of violence are in their ears, the smell of innocent blood in the air.   He rightly terms what took place today in Hawija "a massacre."

Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani also condemned the assault stating "that the use of the Army in political disputes and domestic issues is a constitutional violation and [violates] the principles of state."  The KRG is the semi-autonomous region of northern Iraq.

Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters) quotes student Ahmed Hawija on what took place at the sit-in, "When special forces raided the square, we were not prepared and we had no weapons. They crushed some of us in their vehicles."

And Nouri's side of the argument? 

Matt Bradley and Ali A. Nabhan (Wall St. Journal) report 38 were killed in Hawija (plus 3 of Nouri's thugs) and then note Nouri's government insists that a soldier was killed on Friday (likely true -- we noted in Friday's snapshot, we also noted no one knew who the person was, he wasn't in the sit-in, he darted in out of streets and grabbed a gun from an empty, abandoned house).  Because of this a five-day military siege took place?  Because of this you send the military to kill protesters?

But to really get Nouri's spin on events, you'll have to leave Bradley and Nabhan's reporting and move to Marwan Ibrahim's propaganda for AFP --where he spends 8 paragraphs presenting the attackers view and only 3 presenting the protesters' view.  

Bradley and Nabhan are late to the game and may not know about that death, so let's recap.  Nouri's forces began attacking the sit-in on Friday.  One protester was killed, three were injured.  At which point, as the military implemented their siege, someone on the street, a male, not known to be part of the sit-in (or he would have been with the sit-in) began darting through the streets, an abandoned home his destination.   He went in there and emerged with a gun that he used to shoot dead one of Nouri's forces.

The Operation Tigris Command is not wanted in Kirkuk.  It is hated.  That was established long ago.  In fact, we were covering the outrage Iraqis felt over that force coming into their regions long before the western press paid attention.  It took a face off with the KRG's Peshmerga for the western press to finally notice what had been going on for months. (Among the reasons Nouri's force is not respected?  He's seen as using it to settle land disputes when the Constitution outlined in Article 140 how disputes would be handled.)

By Nouri's logic, the protesters should have surrounded and then stormed the military since one of their own was killed on Friday.   Nineveh Province has been asking for Nouri to hand over his Operation Tigris Command 'soldier' who raped a five-year-old girl in Mosul.  Nineveh Province has been asking for that for months.

So, Nouri's now shown us today, that what needs to happen is that Nineveh Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi needs to order his province's forces to invade and occupy Baghdad and begin shooting at everyone because Nouri wouldn't turn over the rapist?

And, let's just note that one more time, Nouri's forces include a man who raped a five-year-old child.  Thugs attract thugs.  Nouri's protected the man, probably because he identifies with them.  (Nouri's been accused of forcing imprisoned Iraqi women into sexual relations.  The most recent accusation of that was made at the start of the year by MP Sabah al-Saadi -- the Iraq Times reported on it.)

Alsumaria reports Sahwa commander Abu Risha is calling for the military to leave the cities and stop harassing the protesters.  Risha sees even worse things resulting from the continued militarization of Iraq.  Kitabat notes that the attack on the protesters is, in kind words, termed a "folly." They also note that the dead are being smeared as "Ba'athists" and "terrorists" by the government to justify their deaths.  Kirkuk police (which are not Nouri's Tigris forces) say that the Operation Tigris Command made the decision to storm the sit-in and began firing.  National Iraqi News Agency notes that Minister of Education Mohammad Tamim has tendered his resignation over "the storming by army of the sit-in yard of Hawija and killing and wounding dozens of demonstrators."  That's right wounded.  In addition to the 20 killed, All Iraq News notes "dozens" injured.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has a special representative to Iraq, Martin Kobler.  NINA notes that Kobler arrived in Kirkuk this afternoon (Iraq time).  How wonderful.  Of course, yesterday Ayad Allawi was pleading, publicly pleading, for the UN to mediate for the safety of the protesters.  Kobler didn't think it was necessary.  Instead, he ran around Baghdad holding a series of meetings -- including with Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi who also urged him to go to Kirkuk.  Today  innocents are dead and wounded and Kobler can finally make it there?   All Iraq News adds that Kobler is calling for people to show "self-control."  Armed forces storm a sit-in, kill 20 and wound dozens and Kobler's calling for people to show "self-control"?

The US Embassy in Iraq released the following statement:

Office of the Spokesman

The United States Condemns the Violence in Hawija

The United States strongly condemns the actions that resulted in the death and injury of civilians and security personnel in Hawija. We regret that this violence took place before ongoing efforts to reach a peaceful resolution of this situation were given sufficient time to succeed.

All sides should immediately refrain from further violence or provocative actions.

U.S. officials have been in contact with senior Iraqi leaders to help defuse political and sectarian tensions. We call for a transparent investigation with the broadest possible participation. Perpetrators of unlawful actions – whether from the government, security forces, or protestors – must be held accountable under Iraqi law.

The United States expresses its heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and urges all Iraqis to move beyond this tragedy and to work together to prevent any recurrence.


Nearly 40 participants in a sit-in are killed.  I really don't think the sit-in is the issue, I really don't see the 'both sides' aspect.

Let's give some praise.

Patrick Ventrell:  And lastly, I just want to draw your attention to a statement our Embassy in Baghdad put out just a few moments ago. In it, we highlight that the United States strongly condemns the actions that resulted in the death and injury of civilians and security personnel in Hawijah, Iraq. We regret that this violence took place before ongoing efforts to reach a peaceful resolution of the situation were given sufficient time to succeed. All sides should immediately refrain from further violence or provocative actions, and we call for a transparent investigation with the broadest possible participation.

That's US State Dept spokesperson Patrick Ventrell at today's press conference.  And praise to Ventrell for bringing it up.  That's from his opening statements.   Iraq hasn't been mentioned in years in an opening statement at a daily press briefing by the State Dept.  So good for Ventrell and the Dept for realizing what happened today is worth mentioning.

Bad for the lazy press.  Though Ventrell mentioned it at the top, no one had a question about it.  No one wanted to talk about it.  They were like a House Committee hearing -- you had the angry mob that hates Venezuela, you had the portion that sucks up to the Israeli government, you had everything but Iraq.  Excuse me, the last question (which received no answer) was about the KRG . . . oil.

How many people have to die before the lazy press wakes the hell up?  They could and did talk about Afghanistan and Burma, Libya, Sudan, Bejing, they basically covered the whole globe, the press at the briefing just weren't interested in Iraq.

Adam Shreck (AP) quotes Osama al-Nujaifi, the Speaker of Iraq's Parliament, stating,  "What happened today is a total disaster.  If this bloodshed spreads to other provinces, God forbid, there will be a huge fire that we cannot put out."

 With reports of as many as 80 injured, NINA notes that the Director of Health in Erbil has announced their hospitals are open to received the injured.  Erbil is one of the three provinces that make up the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government.

NINA notes MP Yassin al-Obeidi issued a statement today, "We, the MPs of Kirkuk and parliamentary delegation who came to Hawija yesterday, had asked the security forces to give us more time to talk with the demonstrators before storming the Hawija sit-in Square."   Sheikh Aabulmalik al-Saadi blames Nouri's forces for the blood shed todayAlsumaria adds that mosques in Dhuluiya (Salahuddin Province) are seeing protests in solidarity with the victims and martyrs of Hawija.  They're not only the protesters objecting to the slaughter.  NINA notes Mosul's sit-in is demanding that the military leave Nineveh Province.  The Ramadi protesters are making the same demand for Anbar Province.

Michael Peel (Financial Times of London) gets this take on the events from the International Crisis Group's Maria Fantappie, "This has increased the risk of an escalation of the situation from a political crisis to a security crisis.  On the one side, you will have the government increasing the security grip on the demonstrators, while on the other you will have the most radical voices taking advantage to organise better and launch violent attacks."

A similar fear is echoed by Iraqiya MP Nada Ibrahim Aljubori who tells Matt Bradley and Ali A. Nabhan,  "I think it will be the beginning of a civil war and the beginning of the country falling apart. It won't fall apart in an easy way, it will be thousands of people dying."

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Princess will screw the whole country given the chance





In Iraq, Hawija has become a hot spot.  Friday's snapshot included,  "Iraqi Spring MC also reports that activists at the Hawija sit-in were targeted by Nouri's forces and three were injured.  National Iraqi News Agency adds that in addition to the three injured, 1 of the protestors was shot dead."  Nouri's forces are out of control in Hawija and people are appalled.  National Iraqi News Agency reported yesterday that Hawija has been occupied by Nouri's forces since Friday.  Today they are still preventing aid from entering the are where the sit-in has been taking place.   Tribal elders are calling for the judiciary to insist the forces leaveMohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports that this is being seen as an effort by the Commander-in-Chief and armed forces, which is leading people to ask why the national military is even in Kirkuk?  Local politicians are noting this is how you set up a military state (not a democracy).

Members of the national Parliament are also weighing in.  National Iraqi News Agency reports that members of Parliament were prevented today from entering and providing aid to the protestors.   Sunday, All Iraq News quoted Iraqiya MP Wisal Saleem declaring, "The Government is adopting injustice and oppression as if we are in an occupied land rather than in a country that granted us the freedom of expression.  End the military siege imposed on Hawija and let the medial and food supply be brought inside the district.  This is the duty of the Government rather than a gift from it." And All Iraq News also quoted Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi calling for the military siege of Hawija to end and for the security forces to leave the people alone. Today they report that Iraqiya head Ayad Allawi has "sent a delegation [. . .] to inspect the situation of the citizens in Hawija" and he is calling for the rights of the demonstrators to be respected.  National Iraqi News Agency adds that Allawi's calling for the UN to intervene.  All Iraq News notes Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi has declared that "preventing the entry of food and drinks to Hawija is inhumane and completely unacceptable" and that the United Nations needs to step in to protect the protesters from the security forces.  Alsumaria notes he met with the special envoy of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today and stressed that inhumanity of refusing to allow humanitarian aid in to those participating in the sit-in despite harassment by Nouri's security forces.   Tomorrow, protesters around Iraq are protesting under "Hands Off Hawija.

The protests long ago reached the 100 day mark and have been going on since  December 21stFang Yang (Xinhua) notes, "The Iraqi Sunni minority held a day of civil disobedience on Monday, protesting the discrimination against their community by the Shiite-led government in Baghdad.Layla Anwar (Arab Woman Blues) has summarized the protesters demands as follows:

- End of Sectarian Shia rule
- the re-writing of the Iraqi constitution (drafted by the Americans and Iranians)
- the end to arbitrary killings and detention, rape and torture of all detainees on basis of sect alone and their release
- the end of discriminatory policies in employment, education, etc based on sect
- the provision of government services to all
- the end of corruption
- no division between Shias and Sunnis, a one Islam for all Iraqi Muslims and a one Iraq for all Iraqis.

Despite the fact that they are ongoing and that they attract so many people, the western press has repeatedly ignored the protests.  Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports on them today as does Kamal Naama (Reuters).

Every time I note the lack of coverage from the western press, we get an e-mail.  Yes, Voice of America in its many forms has covered the protests.  They've actually covered them almost every day.  But Voice of America is not supposed to be for US news consumers -- that's why its forbidden from broadcasting in the US (some Americans listen to it on short wave radios -- you can also find it online).  Why is it prevented?  Because it's seen as propaganda and, when the US Congress had a spine, they were opposed to citizens of a democracy being given propaganda as news.  We do not knowingly highlight Voice of America here.  Knowingly?  There's an Iraqi version of Voice of America that we noted two years ago until a friend at the State Dept informed me it was a Voice of America outlet.

In fairness to Voice of America, they do some real reporting.  I know because they're always sending it to the public e-mail account.  And it's great that people in Europe, for example, can learn about the protests from them.  But that wall exists for a reason and I support  that wall.

Hawija is only one location for today's protests.   Iraqi Spring MC notes that protesters in Baquba called a general strike as did protesters in Ramadi.  Those wishing to protest in Samarra are facing Nouri's forces which are attempting to block them from gathering.  Hundreds are demonstrating in AmiriyaAll Iraq News quotes the spokesperson for the Samarra protestors, Najeh al-Mizan, explaining, "The response of Samarra people to the general strike call was great since all kinds of life just stopped in the city when all the governmental institutions were closed as well as the schools, colleges, markets and all other institutions." In addition, "shop owners and the students of the University of Mosul started a general strike."  Al Mada adds that Anbar Province and Salahuddin Province are also seeing general strikes and Abdul Razzaq al-Shammari, spokesperson for Ramadi protestors, says this is a new phase, an escalation, as a result of earlier attempts by the activists not having led the government to respond to their demands.  Dar Addustour notes that the Anbar protests led to the closing of all government offices except security and hospitals and 90% of the stores in Mosul were closed.  Kamal Naama  (Reuters) quotes Mosul shop owner Manhal Makki stating, "We decided to take action today to show solidarity with the protesters.  The government should consider our rightful demands." 

Friday, the United Kingdom's Foreign and Commonwealth Office released the Human Rights and Democracy 2012 report. It's not a pretty picture.  The Iraq section opens with:

Despite some progress in 2012, the human rights situation in Iraq remains difficult.  However, there were some encouraging developments.  The establishment in April of Iraq’s Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), progress on a bill to combat domestic violence, ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, agreement of an exemplary NGO law by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and growing engagement on women’s rights issues are all signs of movement in the right direction.  Nevertheless, significant problems remain. 
Iraq’s emerging civil society faces a number of challenges, including lack of training and expertise and the difficulties which non-governmental organisations face in obtaining registration.  Iraq’s use of the death penalty increased dramatically during 2012, when 129 executions were carried out.  Citizens continue to face difficulties gaining access to justice due to weak implementation of the law.  Corruption remains endemic: Transparency International ranked Iraq 169 out of 176 in its 2012 Corruption Perception Index.  Iraq’s diminished religious and ethnic minority communities remain vulnerable.  In the Kurdistan region, several laws designed to improve the human rights situation have been passed, but the implementation of some of these laws, for example the Family Violence Bill, has been slow. 
The promotion of human rights continued to be an important part of the UK’s Iraq Strategy, which was laid before Parliament in October 2012.  Our priorities include supporting establishment of the ICHR, promoting women’s rights and encouraging Iraq to implement its National Action Plan for Human Rights.  Progress on these was mixed.  Despite commissioners being appointed in April, the ICHR is not yet fully operational.  The National Strategy for Women’s Advancement is still in draft form after three years, although a number of women’s rights groups are now working steadily towards an implementation plan for UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.  On 19 December, the Ministry of Human Rights (MoHR) announced an implementation strategy for its National Action Plan, which was drafted in response to the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review recommendations.  We regularly raised human rights concerns with senior members of the government and encouraged them to take action to meet our concerns. 
Our priorities for 2013 include supporting delivery of the National Action Plan.  We will continue to support the UN and other partners to develop an action plan for implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.  Working through the EU and other partners, we will also support the development of the ICHR.  We will continue to monitor the progress of legislation under consideration by the Council of Representatives, including the Freedom of Expression law and the draft Information Crimes law.  We will also continue to provide training and funding for a variety of human rights projects across Iraq, with an emphasis on women’s rights, freedom of expression and the rule of law.
Freedom of expression Although Iraq enjoys a higher level of media freedom than many Arab countries, major problems still exist with legislation governing the media, and there is not yet a strong culture of supporting press freedom.  Draft legislation currently being debated in the Council of  Representatives is ambiguous and has the potential to restrict journalists’ ability to report freely. 
Although the Committee for the Protection of Journalists reported a decrease in the number of journalists killed for reasons related to their profession, media professionals continued to suffer harassment and violence, and to be arrested without proper cause.  We were particularly troubled by the closure on 16 December of two media outlets in Baghdad, al- Baghdadia TV and Radio al-Marhaba, and are concerned that the government’s action represents a disproportionate use of regulatory policy.  The closures followed a threat in June, subsequently retracted, by the Iraqi Communications and Media Commission (CMC) to close 44 media organisations.  These included the BBC, which the CMC claimed were operating without a licence. 
The UK provided funding for a local NGO (IMCK – Independent Media Centre, Kurdistan) to run media-training sessions with former BBC World presenters for 80 MPs in Erbil. 
A number of demonstrations took place across Iraq during 2012, many of which were free from interference by the government.  However, Human Rights Watch reported that, in response to demonstrations marking the February anniversary of the start of weekly protests, security forces in Baghdad restricted demonstrators’ access to protest sites.  In the Kurdistan region’s Sulaymaniyah province, a number of demonstrators were reported to have been harassed, beaten and arrested.
Access to justice and the rule of law There were reports throughout the year of people being arbitrarily detained and not being given access to legal counsel, and of prison conditions which do not meet international and domestic standards.  Human Rights Watch reported that the Iraqi government had carried out mass arrests during the build-up to the Arab League Summit in Baghdad in March, and had unlawfully detained people at Camp Honor prison.  This is a facility which it had claimed in March last year to have closed following reports that detainees held there had been tortured.  We were particularly concerned by allegations in October of sexual and physical abuse of female detainees by prison officers. 

 This is from the report's section on women's rights and LGBTs:

Women in Iraq continue to face a number of threats, notably gender-based violence.  Inadequate or unimplemented legislation remains a key challenge, with “honour” still permitted by the Iraqi penal code as a mitigating factor in crimes involving violence by men against women or children.  Perpetrators of crimes involving sexual violence are exonerated if they marry their victim.  Surveys indicate that 21% of women have been beaten by their husbands and that in some provinces a majority of women believe that it is acceptable for a man to beat his wife under certain circumstances.  More positively, the government has taken steps to address the problem of trafficking through its adoption in May of the Trafficking in Persons Law.  In the Kurdistan region, the newly elected (April 2012) Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani, has taken a personal interest in the promotion of women’s rights, appointing his own Special Adviser on Women’s Issues to work alongside the High Council of Women’s Affairs to implement the Family Violence Bill. 
We continue to support efforts to improve the position of women in Iraqi society, working closely with the UN, EU and other international partners.  Following the success of a similar project in the Kurdistan region in 2011, we are funding a police-training project in Baghdad to develop a more effective police response to incidents involving violence against women.  In the Kurdistan region, we are funding a project run by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy to increase the participation of female parliamentarians in the Kurdistan parliament.  We also funded a project to support female journalists in 2012. 
The UK supported events in the Kurdistan region to mark the international campaign of “16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence”.  HM Consul General in Erbil was invited to speak alongside Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani at the opening of the campaign, and we published articles in several of the most widely read newspapers and news websites re- affirming the UK’s commitment to tackling violence against women and girls.  In contrast to 2011, when Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki publicly appealed to all government departments to strengthen legislation on domestic violence and underlined the need for more education and reform to protect women’s rights, activities in central Iraq were, disappointingly, limited to a small cultural event led by the Ministry of Women's Affairs.
Minority rights Ethnic minorities, mostly concentrated in northern Iraq, continue to report instances of discrimination as well as considerable problems in gaining proper access to employment, healthcare and education. 
In 2012, there was a continued trend of sectarian violence.  Minorities located in the disputed areas of northern Iraq were disproportionately affected.  For example, in August at least nine people were killed and fifty injured in an attack against a Shabak mosque in Mosul.  In October, several members of the Shabak community were killed and a number of others injured after homes and businesses in Mosul identified as belonging to the group were attacked.  A lack of evidence of investigation by security forces into attacks has contributed to a growing mistrust by minority communities in the security forces’ ability to protect them.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights Although not illegal under Iraqi law, homosexuality is still not widely accepted in Iraq, and the situation for the homosexual community and other sexual minorities remains difficult.  We were concerned by reports earlier in the year that members of the LGBT community and Iraqi followers of the “Emo” fashion culture were attacked, and in some cases murdered, for their appearance or their sexual identity (or perceived sexual identity).  It is difficult to judge the accuracy of such reports or the scale of the problem.  Disappointingly, and despite the evidence, the government response has been one of denial. 

It's an important report and one that the US State Dept should have been able to do but hasn't for some time. 

Saleh al-Mutlaq continues to court hate.  All Iraq News reports that he met with Martin Kobler, the United Nations Secretary-General  Special Representative, and declared that the protests result from election propaganda.  Saleh gets more disgusting every day.  The outrage in Iraq began building in October.  It had to do with the lack of public services, the lack of employment, the vast poverty, the refusal to implement The Erbil Agreement and so much more.  On public services, for example, IRIN notes today:

 Long-term investments made into electricity-generation capacity in recent years have not fully borne fruit, observers say, and have not been matched by similar investments into networks for electricity transmission and distribution. “It’s like pouring water into a leaking bucket,” said Sudipto Mukerjee, deputy head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Iraq.
According to the UN’s Inter-Agency Information and Analysis Unit (IAU) in Iraq, the electricity supply system is “particularly unreliable and serves its users only a few hours each day.”

Iraqi households receive an average of eight hours of electricity from the public network, according to the 2011 Iraq Knowledge Network (IKN) survey, though the government promises to provide electricity 24 hours a day by the end of this year. In the 2011 IKN survey, seventy percent of respondents reported daily electricity cut-offs of more than 12 hours a day. An additional 26 percent had cut-offs of at least three hours a day. Summer temperatures in Iraq can surpass 50 degrees Celsius.

But in October, the ethical layer came in.  A real protest has to have an outrage that people can bond over, that they can say "NO MORE" too.  Without it, a protest lasts a week.  In October, the media outlets began reporting that women and girls were being tortured and raped in Iraqi prisons and detention centers.  This was followed by Parliament confirming this was taking place.  Shi'ites may be the majority in Iraq, but in the prisons, Sunnis outnumber them.  So Sunnis were especially outraged by the torture and rape.  Then, on December 20th, Nouri went after Rafie al-Issawi, the Minister of Finance, who is a Sunni and a member of Iraqiya.  He had bodyguards and staff hauled off.  To many Iraqis, it played like December 2011 when Nouri targeted Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq.  Saleh had called Nouri a "dictator" to CNN which is why he was targeted.  Saleh al-Mutlaq is known for his cowardly streak.  He was soon his knees begging Nouri for forgiveness.  That was the end of any difficulty for Saleh.