Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Provincial elections in four days

Alissa J. Rubin contributes another must read on the impending Iraqi elections. Today's article is entitled "Sectarian Divisions and Insurgents Threaten a Fiar Election in an Iraqi Province" and it runs on A14 of the national edition because Iraq's not front page news (we'll go into that in the next entry) and contribute with 'newsy' garbage passed off as reporting on the front page of today's New York Times.

Rubin reports on Diyala Province and senses a rebellion still present (which she rightly or wrongly pins on remnants of al Qaeda in Iraq). One of her soruces is Saja Khadori who is running for a council seat on Nouri al-Maliki's ticket which pretty screams, "Be skeptical of everything this woman tells you!" It has been in al-Maliki's interest to label every threat (political or physical) to him as "al Qaeda in Iraq!" And he's done so repeatedly.

It bears noting that al Qaeda in Iraq is a post-invasion grouping. (It wasn't present until after the start of the illegal war.) It's generally considered a small faction and all resistance to al-Maliki or the occupation is dismissed airly as "al Qaeda in Iraq." Rubin doesn't go that far but my uses of "occupation" -- the correst usage of the term and recognized as such by the United Nations -- would lead Rubin to wag, "You sound like an insurgent." Doubt it? From the article:

Mr. Mujalmi is a member of the Awakening Council in the area, one of the American-backed groups that pushed out Al Qaeda, but he has little patience of the American presence in Iraq, which, like the insurgents, he terms "the occupation."

I'm sure "insurgents" (and also al Qadea in Iraq) would also describe the sky as "blue" -- as would I -- that doesn't make the description invalid. The New York Times has referred to it as the occupation as well, or maybe Rubin missed this 2007 story? Notice, no quotes around occupation in the headline or text of the article.

"Mr. Mujalmi" is Sheik Abdul Rahman Jassam al-Mujalmi (Reform and Development Party)who is also running in the January 31st provincial elections (held in fourteen of Iraq's eighteen provinces). He is quoted stating, "I call on the new American president to think about withdrawal of forces seriously, because maybe there will be a day when we will witness a revolution against their forces and there will be battles in the streets. So I advise him to withdraw his soldiers." He does not believe in the alleged 16-month 'withdrawal' plan (combat troops only) and states, "I doubt that they will withdraw. They said they would offer democracy and freedom, but where is democracy, where is freedom? And they said they would build, but what have they built? They have brought only destruction. When an American tank passes me I feel it is driving over my heart."

AP's Yahya Barzanj notes 63,000 of the 2.8 million internal refugees have completed the paperwork to vote this week with some very eager to vote. Not all of the internally displaced share that feeling and Ali Hashim explains he will not be voting, points to a campaign poster which reads "Vote for a better future for your kids" and Hashim asks, "What future? My child was born in the tent." Xinhau reports, "Iraq will shut borders, close airports and impose night-time vehicle ban during the provincial polls on Saturday when people go to choose members of their provincial councils, an electoral security source said Tuesday." Meanwhile Fadhil al-Badrani (Reuters) reports an Al Anbar Province polling station has been attacked by assailants who "set fire to" it.

Today the Kurdistan Regional Government notes:

US Ambassador Crocker meets Kurdistan Region's leadership in Erbil

Erbil, Kurdistan Region – Iraq (KRP.org) United States Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker visited Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani as the Ambassador nears the completion of his tenure in Iraq.

Ambassador Crocker thanked President Barzani and the people of Kurdistan Region for their cooperation. He noted that Iraq has come a long way since he started his work as US Ambassador to Iraq. Mr Crocker arrived in Baghdad in March 2007.

For his part, President Barzani praised the US Ambassador's role in Iraq and expressed his happiness with the relations that have developed between the Kurdistan Region and the United States of America. The President described Ambassador Crocker as a close personal friend and a friend of the people of the Kurdistan Region. He hoped that this friendship would continue beyond his departure from Iraq.

President Barzani talked about the sacrifices of the people of the Region. "Although our sacrifices far outweigh what we have achieved, our people are pleased with the new Iraq and we will continue to work for the building of a federal, democratic Iraq. We will defend the democratic process in Iraq and we will stand in the way of any efforts to return Iraq to dictatorship," President Barzani added. He also reiterated the Kurdistan Region's commitment to the Iraqi Constitution.

As a symbol of friendship and appreciation for his role in Iraq, President Barzani awarded the Ambassador with a medal engraved with the emblem of the Kurdistan Region Presidency.

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the new york times