In today's New York Times, Katherine Zoepf and Sam Dagher's "Iraq Gives Religious Minorities Fewer Seats Than the U.N. Suggested" addresses what the presidency council approved yesterday. The reporters inform that the council -- made up of Iraq's president and two vice presidents -- signed off on the measure Parliament passed (after Parliament stripped Article 50 out of the provincial elctions bill) and they quote MP Younadim Kanna declaring, "Their sweet speeches to us turned out to be useless. We thought that they would compensate for what was done to us by other major political entitites." What's Kanna referring to? How about the song and dance that Iraq's religious minorities have gotten for weeks? From Friday's snapshot:
The Journal of Turkish Weekly reports that Chaldean-Assryian Council chair Jamil Zito declaring, "Iraq's Christians were hoping that various political factions would accept the UN Mission in Iraq proposal". Iraq may hold provincial elections in January (or not). Article 50 provided for religious minority representation. Article 50 was stripped out of the bill before Parliament passed it. A compromise was proposed this week which Iraqi Christians find insulting. Earlier this week, Sam Dagher and Mohammed al-Obaidi (New York Times) explained that Christians would get one seat each on Baghdad, Basra and Nineveh council
while Yazidis would get one seat on Nineveh for a total of 4 seats combined while Article 50 guaranteed the religious minorities 13 seats and the UN proposed 12 (the United Nations proposal came after Article 50 was deleted). Today Waleed Ibrahim, Tim Cocks and Philippa Fletcher (Reuters) report that the office of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani issued a statement yesterday about his meet up with Christians, "They expressed worries about the negative impact of the law passed in parliament, which they said gives them a small number of seats and does not protect their rights. They asked the [presidency] council to reject this law. The president showed full support to Christian and other minorities (and) . . . promised he will not sign any law that could deprive any Iraqi group of their rights." If you thought that or the treaty might have resulted in questions at the White House today you missed Tony Fratto's and the press' embarrassing performances.
So Talabani gives a bunch of pretty speeches and then goes ahead and votes for the measure which gives Iraq's religious community six seats -- when Article 50 guaranteed them 13 and the UN (after Article 50 was struck) proposed 12. Just a bunch of pretty words from Talabani. All it takes is one veto vote from any of the three members of the presidency council to tank a measure. Since this one passed, Talabani obviously voted for it despite his repeated assurances to the religious communities. Leila Fadel's "Minorities, the victim of the powers that be?" (Baghdad Observer, McClatchy Newspapers) explains:
The news was received by Christian leaders as an "insult." The original provincial elections law was passed after a section guaranteeing minorities a quota of representation was struck from the legislation. After nationwide protests from minority communities the parliament chose to pass a version of the law that gave minorities the least amount of representation. A United Nations proposal gave minorities double the number of seats.
Minorities drafted a letter to the presidency council asking them to reject the amendment. But they ratified the amendment today despite objections.
"The most important point is that after all these deliberations the right of the minorities to fix their seats has become a standing right," the council's spokesman Nasir al Ani said.
Screwing the minorities seems to be the order of the day so that the powerful become more powerful. Arab and Islamic parties banned together to pass the law because they worried that giving minorities would help Kurdish expansion. Arab nationalists fear the expansion of the Kurdish region and the ultimate secession of the Kurdish north. Currently the Kurds control the local government in the mostly northern Sunni Arab province of Nineveh.
BBC reports that January 31st is now the day scheduled for provincial elections and that "[t]he vote will be held in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces - excluding Kirkuk and three autonomous Kurdish provinces." The elections were supposed to take place this year and never did. In other non-progress news, Iraq saw at least 26 reported deaths over the weekend as well as the death of 1 US soldier as noted yesterday.
They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)
Last Sunday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4,189. And tonight? 4193 is ICCC's count. Just Foreign Policy's counter estimates the number of Iraqis killed since the start of the illegal war to be 1,284,105 the same as last Sunday.
In some of the reported violence . . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that left six people wounded, "a female suicide bomber" in Falluja who took her own life as well as 1 woman outside an emergency room with five more people left wounded, a Baquba bombing claimed 1 life and wounded five more, a Khalis roadside bombing that claimed 5 lives with eight more wounded, a Mosul roadside bombing that wounded two people, a Mosul "suicide car bomber" that wounded eleven people and a Mosul roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 3 Iraqi soldiers with seven people wounded. Dropping back to Saturday, McClatchy's Sahar Issa reported a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 1 life and left seven people wounded, another Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded three people, an Al Anbar Province "suicide bomber" who took his or her own life and seven members of the Iraqi police force wounded which was followed by a "sucide car" bombing that claimed the life of the driver and the lives of 8 civilians and a Mosul roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left another wounded.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports three Iraqi soldiers wounded in a Tuz Khurmatu attack and 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul. McClatchy's Sahar Issa reported Saturday 1 'suspect' and 1 Iraqi soldier wounded in a Kirkuk armed clash. Reuters notes a Sunday drive-by shooting in Tuz Khurmato that left three Iraqi police officers wounded.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 police officer kidnapped in Kirkuk Saturday night.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Saturday 1 corpse was discovered in Baghdad.
Mosul. Reuters notes 2 corpses discovered Sunday in Iskandariya.
Al Bawaba reports that Bashar Assad, Syrian president, declared today that the treaty the White House wants with the puppet government because "American troops contribute to regional instability and should withdraw from Iraq. Assad told the audience that a recent American raid inside Syria near its border with Iraq is confirmation that the U.S. will use Iraq as a base to attack its neighbors." Staying with the treaty but moving to speculation, Iran's Press TV references al-Sabah (Iraq daily newspaper) to state that the White House refused Iraq's "request to change a SOFA provision which would grant US citiziens immunity from legal prosecution in Iraq. . . . The daily added, under the deal, Iraq would supervise US postal services inside the country but would not be permitted to inspect parcels distained for US institutions."
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