Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sam Dagher's must-read article

Yesterday we noted Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) somehow managed to do an 'analysis' of the vote and somehow managed to single out males but never mentioned women. In today's New York Times, Sam Dagher offers "Iraqi Women Vie for Votes and Taste of Power" -- proving that Iraqi women do exist and that, yes, they are part of the story of the upcoming vote.

Dagher reports women make up nearly 4,000 of the 14,400 candidates (vying for 440 seats) and that posters have been defaced with mud or beards drawn on, torn down and that a Baghdad home invasion yesterday targeted a female member of the Iraqi Islamic Party and she was murdered, shot "10 times in the chest". She's the second women known/thought to be killed as a result of the upcoming elections. Last month, Calwiz-Nahla Hussein of the Communist Party in Kirkuk was shot dead. Click here for UNAMI statement.

Dagher notes that women were supposed to be legally guaranteed a certain percentage of seats in the elections but that somehow disappeared when the law was rewritten and no one still can provide an explanation as to how that happened.

You might remember, the guarantee for religious and ethnic minorities was stripped away at the same time. The excuse on that was that no census had been done so members of Parliament did not feel that they could justify whether the quotas were too high or too low. It's a sign of how much disrespect there is for women in the puppet government that no attempts have been made to offer an 'excuse' for stripping their representation -- despite the fact that Iraqi women outnumber religious and ethnic minorities. You might also notice that the Iraqi Foreign Ministry REFUSES to post women as diplomats. Not even to Western countries. You'd think the governments of the US and England -- due to the fact that they destroyed the rights of women in Iraq -- would have insisted long ago that the ambassadors to their countries from Iraq be women. They didn't do that. And with no pressure, the Foreign Ministry makes it a boys only club. And refers to women as "Mrs." even if they use Ms. And we'll again note this photo:


That's Iraq's Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari meeting with Greece's Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis in Athens. And when a Western country sends a diplomat to Iraq, they might make a special effort to send women. It will help Iraqi women. It will help set a tone -- and it's a tone that the puppet government appears unwilling or unable to set. That photo above, of Ms. Bakoyannis and Mr. Zerbari meeting in Athens, helps the status of women in Iraq.

Back to Dagher's article, some Iraqi women see the quota system as worthless to begin with. Mahdiya Abed-Hassan al-Lami feels it is "manipulated by major political parties" in order "to marginalize women" by choosing women who are ineffective and will not challenge or question their male peers. She says, "If women are simply followers they cannot fulfill their roles properly." Dagher details how Liza Hido runs in secret ("private gatherings") due to threats when she served "on a municipal council". From the article:

Her friend Bushra al-Obeidi, a law professor at Baghdad University, has rebuffed all efforts to persuade her to become a candidate. She feels the odds are stacked against women, starting with laws she views as discriminatory and derogatory toward women -- one allows a rapist to largely escape punishment if he marries his victim. Ms. Obeidi also has little faith in the commitment to gender equality among the current political leadership, which is dominated by religious parties.
"I assure you," she said, "they are against women. They are lying to us."

It's an important article on an important topic and good for Dagher for reporting on when so many others ignored the topic. On Dagher . . . and Prancer and Vixen, or at least Dagher and Campbell Robertson. Tuesday morning, Sam Dagher's "Helicopter Crash in Iraq Kills 4 Americans, in Biggest Toll Among G.I.'s Since September" was addressed in depth but I forgot the link (in the morning entry, it was linked to in the snapshot) and Jim put it in when he added the links to community sites. Yesterday morning, I forgot to include the link to Campbell Robertson offers "Iraqi Journalists Face Clash of Principles and Entitlements: Free Press vs. Free Land." The link was added but -- unlike with Dagher's missing link -- not in the morning. (The friend I dictated the snapshot to yesterday noticed that the link was missing and he put it in.) I know community members know how to navigate the web but for drive-bys and for any who might have meant to check out either article but didn't get around to it, those are two strong articles.

We'll note this from the Kurdistan Regional Government and, pay attention, there are women present:

Korean Embassy Office hosts Lunar New Year celebration in Erbil

Erbil, Kurdistan -- Iraq ( -- The Korean Embassy office in Erbil hosted a celebration of the Korean New Year for representatives from the foreign community, including embassy offices, UN agencies and international NGOs together with officials of the KRG Department of Foreign Relations. Guests gathered at the Khanzad Hotel in Erbil to join in the festivities.

Mr Yunju Ko, the head of the Korean Embassy Office in Erbil, welcomed the guests, explained the history and importance of the Korean Lunar New Year and invited them to enjoy the buffet dinner as well as participate in a traditional Korean board game of Yut.

"I am pleased to see so many representatives from the international community here and I wish to extend my best wishes for the New Year. It is always a pleasure to join all of you and thank you for your continued support as we work to expand and build on our successes in the Kurdistan Region," said Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, Head of the Department Foreign Relations.

The celebration offered another opportunity for the international community to get together and strengthen relationships through the sharing of cultural differences.

Too bad that Iraq's Foreign Ministry is going to allow the KRG to so outdo them on this issue. Greece's Foreign Minister is the first woman to be acknowledged at the Foreign Ministry's website (other than Condi Rice, I believe only one woman was acknowledged last year at the site). But they still can't get her title/honorific correct ("Ms.") and they still can't get her last name correct :

27 January, 2009

Minister Zebari Meets Greek Foreign Minister

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and his accompanying delegation held a round of talks with his Greek counterpart Mrs. Dora Pokoiyani on Jan 27, 2009 in the Greek Foreign Ministry.

The Greek Foreign Minister expressed Greece's support for Iraq and her admiration for the positive developments in the political process and improvement in the security situation and wished this year to be the year of reconstruction and investment, and indicated that Greece has allocated (sixteen million euros) to support Iraq's scientific institutions and (three million euros) for the reconstruction of Iraq.

Mrs. Pokoiyani also stated the opening of a Greek trade office in Arbil soon to promote trade and economic ties between the two countries, and the need to activate the Joint Commission for economic cooperation and trade, pointing to the developments in bilateral relations, including the agreement to reduce Iraq's debt in accordance with the decisions of the Paris Club and the agreement between the authorities of the two countries to conduct direct flights between Athens and Baghdad.

Minister Zebari expressed his appreciation for the contribution of Greece in supporting Iraq bilaterally or through the European Union and the United Nations, pointing out the importance of Greece's support through its experience in the maintenance and protection of Iraq's antiquities and museums. Minister Zebari also reviewed the political and security developments in Iraq and the importance of this year to organize three elections, and touched on Iraq's participation in the recent Arab economic summit in Kuwait and Iraq's stance on the recent events in Gaza and the Arab stance.

The two ministers held a press conference, in which Greece's Foreign Minister reiterated her country's support for Iraq and its readiness to cooperate positively with the proposals of the Minister. On his part Minister Zebari invited his Greek counterpart to visit Iraq at the time she deems appropriate.

The two ministers answered questions and inquiries made by the media. The meeting was attended by Undersecretary Labeed Abbawi and Ambassadors Surood Rasheed, Hayder Al Barrak, Hatem Al-Khawam, Dr. Farid Yassin and Deputy Director of Europe.

Again, her name is Dora Bakoyannis and she uses "Ms." You can see "Meeting of FM Ms. Dora Bakoyannis with her Iraqi counterpart, Mr. Hoshyar Zebari (27/1/2009)" from the government's website.

Ernesto Londono and Qais Mizher (Washington Post)report
that Iraq's Interior Ministry told the US Embassy/Fortress in Iraq that Blackwater will not receive "a new operating license" in what the paper dubs "one of the boldest moves the [Iraqi] government has made since the Jan. 1 implementation of a security agreement". If you were or are a Blackwater employee, the reporters explain, and you "have not been accused of improper conduct," you can switch over to another mercenary company operating in Iraq. They quote the US State Dept spokesperson Noel Clay: "We will work with the government of Iraq and our contractors to address the implications of this decision in a way that minimizes any impact on safety and security of embassy Baghdad personnel." And they give Blackwater a chance to speak which is the usual Blackwater/KBR/et al dance of "We haven't heard this so we can't comment blah blah blah."

Today or in Friday's snapshot (or maybe both) we'll offer more on yesterday's sexual assault hearing in Congress chaired by Susan Davis. E-mails from community members and drive-by e-mails voice the disgust with the lack of coverage the hearing has received. (I share that disgust.) Zachary Franz (Great Falls Tribune) reports on an ongoing court-martial of Capt Adam Pitman for "aggravated sexual contact, indecent exposure and conduct unbecoming of an officer" at Malstrom Air Force Base:

"Today's case is about not being able to take 'no' for an answer," said Capt. Jeffrey T. Biller, a prosecutor.
[. . .]
Months after the party, the woman said Pitman made suggestive and unwanted phone calls to her on a military line while the two were stationed in separate capsules.
Although the woman asked a scheduler not to station her with Pitman, the two did end up working a 24-hour shift in the same cramped capsule in December 2007, isolated by 60 feet of earth and a 9-ton blast door.
It was under those circumstances that the woman said the high-ranking and much bigger Pitman held her down, pushed up her shirt, and groped her against her will. The woman said she only escaped when Pitman reached over to the control desk to silence an alarm.
The airman testified that she couldn't leave the capsule after the incident because military rules require two people to be stationed in the facility at all times, and breaking that rule is a violation so serious it would be reported to the United States president. Instead, she spent the remaining 11 hours of their shift in a tiny bed separated from the rest of the launch center by a curtain.

Yesterday's the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric broadcast in the evening and in prime time. On the latter broadcast, Katie explored domestic abuse in the military:

It can be as deadly as combat: Domestic violence in the U.S. military.
Nineteen-year-old Spc. Brandon Bare is accused of killing his own wife.
Jessacia Patton is a survivor.
"I had bruising on my head, cuts under my eyes and lips and my whole body was like a big bruise," Patton told CBS News anchor Katie Couric.
When Spc. Lenny McIntire returned to Fort Lewis, Wash., his wife says he was a changed man.
After his second tour of duty in Iraq with the Army Rangers, she says he wasn't sleeping and he was filled with anger - especially when his infant daughter would cry.
"Any noise that she made just bothered him," Patton said. "He said it reminded him too much of Iraq and the kids that he shot and the screaming - he couldn't take it, being around it."
That anger turned to violence. He pleaded guilty to child abuse after beating three-month old Bella.
Then, a few months later in a drunken rage, threatening her with a gun, he attacked and raped his wife.

The link has text and video and we'll also embed the above video which is Couric's interview with Jessica Patton only (some of which was used in last night's report -- last night's report also featured the government and more -- Ava and I are probably grabbing the prime time broadcast for some part of this week's TV commentary at Third).

We'll close with this from Refugees International:

Relocation of Palestinian Refugees from Iraq to Sudan Moving Forward

Washington D.C. -- The new U.S. administration must join with other
countries and urgently resettle 3,000 Palestinian refugees from the
Syrian-Iraqi border, Refugees International (RI) announced today. The UN
Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)
and Sudan will soon be relocating this population to pre-fabricated
housing in Khartoum. As the three parties prepare to take the refugees
to Sudan, RI called for the U.S. and other resettlement countries to
ensure a voluntary, dignified process that allows this vulnerable
population to find a permanent, stable home.

"The Obama administration must step in and send a clear message to the
world that we are interested in helping displaced people find stable
homes," said Kristele Younes, Senior Advocate with Refugees
International. "The plan to send Palestinians trapped at the
Iraqi-Syrian border to Sudan is outrageous. The U.S. has finally started
resettlement processing for vulnerable, displaced people inside Iraq who
have not had the resources to flee their country. These Palestinians are
among the most vulnerable, and the U.S. should prioritize their

Approximately 34,000 stateless Palestinians have lived in Iraq since
2003. Since the beginning of U.S. military operations in Iraq, many
suffered persecution at the hands of the Iraqi government and other
armed groups. More than 3,000 fled to the Syrian-Iraqi border, where
they live in makeshift tents in the desert with limited access to basic
services. Syria refuses to allow them to enter its territory and only a
few have been resettled, mostly to Sweden and Chile. Failure to act on
the part of the U.S. government and other resettlement countries led
UNHCR to sign a tripartite agreement with the PLO and the Government of
Sudan that called for the relocation of this population to a
neighborhood of Khartoum.

"The international community's failure to act and resettle this
extremely vulnerable population has led the United Nations to consider
Sudan as the only viable option for them," said Younes. "This is not a
durable solution. Sudan will not provide them with a path to citizenship
and the Palestinians will be vulnerable to civil unrest and threats of

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has established unique,
discriminatory criteria to assess the vulnerability of Palestinians from
Iraq for the purpose of resettlement to the U.S. Refugees International
urges President Obama to insist that the criteria be the same for Iraqis
and Palestinians in Iraq, and to request that the U.S. State
Department's Refugee Bureau create a special category to process the
applications. Any process should be conducted without prejudice to the
Palestinians' right to return to their homeland.

"While the U.S. resettled nearly 14,000 Iraqi refugees in 2008, only
3,000 refugees have been allowed in for the first few months of the 2009
fiscal year," Younes added. "Many Iraqis can never return home, but a
stable Iraq will only occur when displaced Iraqis find solutions to
their plight. The U.S. and its allies must continue to increase the
number of Iraqis resettled, and should start with this group of

Refugees International is a Washington, DC-based organization that
advocates to end refugee crises. In the last two years, the organization
has conducted seven missions to the Middle East to identify the problems
facing Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people in Iraq. In
November 2008, a delegation of NGOs including Refugees International
conducted a field mission to Palestinian camps at the Syria-Iraq border
and released, "From Fast Death to Slow Death: Palestinian Refugees from
Iraq Trapped on the Syria-Iraq Border."

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sam dagher

the washington post