The security conference held last Saturday in Baghdad produced statements, drew mortar fire, and brought little hope of security.
The conference attended by representatives from 13 countries including Syria, Iran and the United States was held inside the heavily fortified "green zone" in central Baghdad.
Representatives from Iraq's six neighbouring countries (Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kuwait and Syria) and delegates from the five permanent UN Security Council countries (the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France) were present along with several Arab representatives.
Iraqi President Jalal Talibani was reported to have observed the conference on video from his bed at the al-Hussein Medical City in Amman, Jordan.
International media were invited to show that the meeting was intent on bringing security to Iraq. That plan backfired after mortar shells landed within 50 metres of the conference centre, shattering glass panes in the building.
Conflict arose within the conference itself. Iran demanded a timetable for U.S. withdrawal. The United States accused Iran of assisting Shia militias.
"The whole world was there including some resistance fighters who, for the first time, responded to an Iraqi government call to attend a meeting," Yassen Abdul Rahman, a lawyer and anti-occupation activist who attended the conference told IPS.
"The heroes of the resistance were represented by the shower of mortar missiles that broke the glass that separated the conference from the reality of the situation outside."
Iraqis seemed as usual divided over the value of the conference.
The above, noted by Marcia, is from Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily's "Security Meet Ends, Insecurity Does Not" (IPS). That's probably the only time we'll note the conference (unless other independent media covers it). If you read big media's coverage, you'll understand why immediately. Cindy notes Paul Sand's "Protest Speaks Through Arrests" (The News Tribune via Common Dreams):
Wes Hamilton understood it was only a symbolic act, but the Vietnam War veteran hoped his arrest Sunday in the Port of Tacoma would encourage others to voice their opinions against the Iraq war.
"We're standing on principle," said Hamilton, a former Marine, minutes before he climbed over a metal barricade at East 11th Street and Thorne Road and was taken into custody by police.
He was one of at least 23 people arrested Sunday afternoon after they performed peaceful acts of civil disobedience to protest the Iraq war and the movement of Army Stryker brigade vehicles out of the port.
Fifteen people were arrested after they crossed the police barricade, including Olympia City Council member T.J. Johnson. Eight others were arrested after they donned backpacks or bags and crossed into an area where police had banned such items. About 60 protesters attended the event.
In a separate protest-related case, a woman was arrested early Sunday morning after she ignored an officer's instructions to stop her vehicle and drove into an area of East 11th Street, said police Detective Brad Graham.
In addition to the 24 people arrested Sunday, police have made eight protest-related arrests since March 5.
Sunday afternoon's arrests were part of a structured, negotiated event involving police and activists.
Cindy also notes this was covered on Democracy Now! yesterday. (I didn't catch it. We're on the road speaking. I'll catch today's episode.) CNN has a new poll which has found: "Nearly six in ten Americans want to see U.S. troops leave Iraq either immediately or within a year, and more would rather have Congress running U.S. policy int he conflict than President Bush". The same poll finds that American want US troops out of Iraq -- 21% immediately and 37% advocating "within a year".
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dahr jamailali al-fadhily