As a cold wind swept across much of the Middle East on Thursday, bringing snow to northern Iraq and subfreezing temperatures to Baghdad, about 100 soldiers and marines gathered for a ceremony to rename a small helicopter landing zone on this huge American base in honor of a fallen comrade.
The man for whom the helipad was being named, Maj. Douglas A. Zembiec, a marine, was killed last May in a firefight in Baghdad. On a dark night in an alley, he told his troops to get down before getting down himself, and he was the one hit by enemy fire. His men survived.
But Thursday’s ceremony at the military base here at Baghdad International Airport was less a memorial for Major Zembiec -- who has been honored many times for his heroism, and not just in Baghdad but in Falluja as well -- than it was a moment for reflection by the men and women gathered here.
The above is from Alissa J. Rubin's "Comrades Speak of Fallen Marine and Ties That Bind" in this morning's New York Times. Whatever could have been of the article is lost in the next paragraph which has Davey Petreaus speaking and Rubin contemplating what brings a "man" to Iraq. Way to go, Rubin, way to render women invisible. Maybe we should write about the press and wonder what takes a "man" to Iraq? Of course, this is the New York Times, and the fallen wasn't a "man," he was an officer. Otherwise, the paper rarely makes times.
Remembering that there are women in Iraq and that this includes Iraqi women, Tina Susman files "Iraq says it rearmed female police" (Los Angeles Times):
Iraqi police officials have dropped plans to disarm policewomen and give their guns to male officers after an outcry from critics, who said the move was a sign of religious zealots' rising influence in Iraq.
Despite the turnabout, which police confirmed Thursday, the U.S. military general who introduced women into the police force said they remained hindered in their attempts to practice real policing skills.
"Even with the revocation order, we will have to watch very closely the actions taken in regards to the remaining female Iraqi police," said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. David Phillips, adding that there "are numerous ways" to drive women from the force.
That was confirmed by Hanan Jaafer, a policewoman in the Shiite holy city of Najaf who guards the revered shrine of Imam Ali.
Jaafer said none of the roughly two dozen female officers posted at the shrine had guns or uniforms, even though they searched women and children entering the complex and faced threats from the increased use of female suicide bombers. Their male counterparts are armed, Jaafer said.
Had the US not installed thugs (to bring 'safety'), women in Iraq wouldn't be so at risk and wouldn't have seen the destruction of their rights. If only Iraqi women had big-monied lobbyists they could hire, they too might appear on the front page of the New York Times as the Kurds do in Alissa J. Rubin's "Kurds' Power Wanes as Arab Anger Rises:"
As a minority group in Iraq, the Kurds have enjoyed disproportionate influence in the country’s politics since the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003. But now their leverage appears to be declining as tensions rise with Iraqi Arabs, raising the specter of another fissure alongside the sectarian divide between Sunnis and Shiites.
The Kurds, who are mostly Sunni but not Arab, have steadfastly backed the government, most recently helping to keep it afloat when Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki lacked support from much of Parliament.
With their political acumen, close ties to the Americans and technical competence at running government agencies, the Kurds cemented a position of enormous strength. This allowed them to all but dictate terms in Iraq’s Constitution that gave them considerable regional autonomy and some significant rights in oil development.
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