Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Iraq court news and upcoming tag-sale

Muntadhir Al-Zaidi was due to go on trial Wednesday, but the Criminal Court postponed it pending an appeal filed by his lawyers with the Federal Court of Appeal, a spokesman for the Supreme Judicial Council, Abdul Sattar Bayrakdar, said.
Dhiya al-Saadi, who leads Al-Zaidi's 25-member legal team, confirmed the postponement.
Al-Zaidi threw both of his shoes at Bush two weeks ago during a news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad.

The above is from CNN's "Bush shoe thrower trial delayed" and Al Jazeera adds, "His lawyer, Dhiya al-Saadi, lodged a request for the trial to be cancelled on the grounds that court action would breach al-Zaidi's constitutional right to freedom of expression." al-Saadi is quoted stating, "Our appeal is based on the fact that Zaidi simply expressed his rejection of the occupation and the policy of repression against Iraqis. Zaidi's action falls within the framework of freedom of expression." AGI declares that the Central Criminal Court is for terrorism cases and that al-Zaidi's attorneys are attempting to have the case moved to another court. The Council of/on/for Foreign Relations has an audio interview with Michael Wahid Hanna on Iraqi 'justice.'

In other legal news, AP's John Hanna reports that US Army Spc Dustin Chalker has joined with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation to file a lawsuit over attempted conversions of Muslims to Christianity and over the wording of a military suicide prevention manual which appears to set medical value aside to promote religion.

Meanwhile the tag sale in Iraq continues. Deng Shasha (Xinhau) reports that Hussein al-Shahristani, Minister of Oil, declared today that a "second licensing round" will take place tomorrow on "ten oil fields". al-Shahristani was speaking on Iraqia TV and declared there would be a December 31st press conference in which he would announce the spoils of war now up for grabs. Gulf Times states, "Iraq has invited international oil companies which haven’t been qualified yet by the country’s oil ministry to take part in tomorrow’s announcement of the second round of tenders to develop its vast oil and gas fields, a senior ministry official has said."

While the tag sales continues, Iraq's assets are currently safe from seizure by foreign creditors. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs released "Foreign Minister's Statement in Security Council on Ending the Mandate of the Multinational Forces" yesterday:

The UN Security Council voted unanimously for adopting a resolution to take Iraq out of Chapter VII and to terminate the mandate of the multinational forces in Iraq. Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari gave a speech in the Council and stated that Iraq has laid the foundations for stability and democracy since 2003.
The minister expressed the gratitude of the Iraqi Government to the members of the Security Council for the continued support for Iraq and its people, adding that Iraq has taken advanced steps in the process of national reconciliation, security and stability in the country.
The new resolution No. 1859 contains the protection of the Development Fund for Iraq and other Iraqi funds and stresses Iraq's obligations under Security Council resolutions.

That wasn't the only statement the ministry released. In protest of the current slaughter in Gaza, the Ministry released "Foreign Ministry Condemns Israeli Brutal Aggression on Palestinians:"

The Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Iraq condemns the Israeli brutal attack against Palestinians that caused many civilian casualties. The act of the Israeli authorities is incompatible with basic international human law and human rights.
The Foreign Ministry calls for the United Nations, Arab League, other organizations and the International and Human institutes to stop this aggression. We call for the Palestinian parties to join forces with all good people in the world to protect the rights and interests of the Palestinians and enable them to practice their legal rights according to International Law.

And we'll note this from the Kurdistan Regional Government which was released the evening of December 25th:

KRG wishes Christians a Merry Christmas

» Picnic in snowy mountains of Kurdistan Region. A&S Clarry

The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Council of Ministers wishes a very Merry Christmas to the Christian community in the Kurdistan Region and the rest of Iraq.

The KRG would also like to extend special Christmas wishes and greetings to all those who escaped from terror and found a safe and peaceful haven in the Kurdistan Region and who are now enjoying a life of peaceful co-existence and rule of law here in the Region.

This Christmas and for the forthcoming New Year, the KRG wishes the best to the people of the Kurdistan Region and hopes that the year 2009 will further enhance democracy, justice and rule of law in the Region and all of Iraq and, brings further prosperity and progress.

We in the KRG look forward with optimism to the New Year and hopes that we will be able to accomplish our goals of providing more services to the people of the Region and ensuring that needs are met in all areas of life, especially public services and the health and education sectors.

The KRG will continue its policies of encouraging further collaboration between the public and private sectors, paying attention to improving the living standards of all its citizens, rehabilitating the countryside, creating equal job opportunities and protecting the environment of the Kurdistan Region. The KRG also aims to create a self-sufficient society that ensures sustainable food security.

There are still many challenges ahead of us. However, the KRG is adamantly committed to the Constitution of Federal Iraq; as a guiding principle and the road map to the political process, for the enhancement of national reconciliation and as a basis for dialogues among all the parties.

We in the KRG will continue in our efforts to support and build a democratic, federal and pluralistic Iraq, where all Iraqi citizens enjoy prosperity, stability and peaceful coexistence in the Kurdistan Region and all of Iraq. We hope that the New Year will bring happiness and further stability to Iraq and all its citizens.

Once again we wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

In this morning's New York Times, Timothy Williams' "American Exit Increases Optimism in Falluja" notes the non-surprising joy the residents of Falluja have towards the prospects that the US will finally leave Camp Falluja, the base from which their area has been occupied:

The view that the town is better off taking care of itself was echoed by residents, even in the neighborhood hit by the most recent big attack, in early December, when suicide truck bombers linked to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia killed 19 people, wounded dozens of others and leveled nine houses and two police stations.
"Our sons will take care of the security issue," said Khalil Abrahim, 50, a resident of the neighborhood, as he walked over the rubble of his house, wondering aloud how he could afford to rebuild. "They can do a better job."

Turning to the US, the following is the opening of Matthew Hay Brown's "Unsettled:
Once among their nation's elite, some Iraqi refugees have found economic hardship and loneliness in Md.
" (Baltimore Sun):

It's not that Muhammad Shumri imagined building a new life in Baltimore would be easy. But he didn't expect it to be so hard.
The 48-year-old physician was a high-ranking official in the Iraqi Ministry of Health when a photograph that placed him at a meeting with U.S. officials was stolen from his computer. Soon he was receiving anonymous threats warning him to stop working with the Americans.
He moved his wife and five children out of Iraq, traveled alone to the United States and requested asylum. He planned to get a job, find a place to live and send for his family.
"I thought, 'I am a doctor, they know me, I worked with them, I can get a job, they will help me,'" Shumri says in the Reservoir Hill house where he rents a room. "I didn't think I would have the same job. But maybe I would take a job as a physician or teach at a university.
"I was shocked when I got here."
That reaction is common among the 202 Iraqis who have settled in Maryland since the 2003 invasion. Professionals who made up their country's elite - doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers - are struggling with an unfamiliar culture, an expensive economy and a bureaucracy that doesn't recognize their credentials.

That is the third installment of his three-part series on Iraqi refugees. Part one was "No place to go: An impoverished middle class fleeing violence and disorder leaves Iraq disadvantaged and its neighbors overwhelmed" and part two was "U.S. slow to meet needs, refugees say
Despite substantial American contributions, displaced Iraqis' needs dwarf all efforts to aid them
." In addition to the three-part series that concludes today, Matthew Hay Brown and the paper have offered the following on the refugee crisis since Sunday: "Roadblocks to return: Official blames U.S. military, U.N. refugee agency, news media," "'You cannot turn your back,'" "Iraqis keep low profile in neighboring states" and "How an Iraqi is processed for resettlement to the U.S." As noted yesterday, refugees will be one of the topics of today's snapshot.

Martha and Shirley's 2008 in books goes up after this. Ruth's 2008 in public radio goes up tomorrow. Kat and I plan to have our year-in-review pieces up Thursday. Betty also is planning a year-in-review piece for her site and, as she sketched it out last night, it will be a community favorite.

Stan posted "Isaiah, Michelle Shocked and more" last night and the following last night as well:

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

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