Thursday, February 19, 2009

And it hurts like brand new shoes

"What made me do it was the humiliation Iraq has been subjected to due to the U.S. occupation and the murder of innocent people. I wanted to restore the pride of the Iraqis in any way possible, apart from using weapons." AP's Sinan Salaheddin quotes Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi entering that statement in court today. Muntadhar garnered international attention for the events of December 14th. Then Bully Boy of the United States George W. Bush had traveled to Iraq for photo-ops with puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki as the two singed the Strategic Framework Agreement and the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement. All was supposed to be wonderful and the two tyrants were positively glowing . . .

Bully Boy and Puppet

And then it was as though someone cranked up Carly Simon's "De Bat (Fly In Me Face)" as one-shoe, two-shoe was hurled by the journalist who explained, "This is a gift from the Iraqis. This is the farewell kiss you dog" and (with the second shoe) "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq." Neither shoe hit Bully Boy and apart from Nouri soiling his pants, neither man suffered physically.

But Nouri's attack dogs -- the thugs he employs -- grabbed the moment to show the world what thugs they were and how the US installed strong man of Baghdad resorts to violence as they beat the journalist down. He was whisked away and only allowed one visit with his family and his attorney before this month -- and that visit only came about after the press covered the fact that he was being denied visits.

Trenton Daniels (McClatchy Newspapers) fancies himself jaded (he's just stupid and right-wing) and offers the following as his idea of how a journalist covers the story:

Since that throw, Zaidi has received job offers, a residency invitation from U.S. foe Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and even a wedding proposal on behalf of an Egyptian woman. A local artist built a monument in his honor, Iraqis have rallied in his defense and gadflies have carried out copycat protests worldwide.
On Thursday, the 30-year-old is scheduled to go to trial in the Central Criminal Court on charges of assaulting a foreign head of state. Conviction could lead to as many as 15 years in prison.

Real journalists Tina Susman and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times' Babylon & Beyond) explain of the 90 minute hearing that took place today:

After hearing from three witnesses -- one of whom did not appear but presented a written statement -- the judge adjourned the trial until March 12 while technicalities are sorted out, but it was evident that Zaidi has plenty of backers, even among learned legal scholars.
More than 20 lawyers jostled for space around the wooden cage-like enclosure where Zaidi stood, all claiming to defend him in some fashion. Relatives and friends filled the front two rows of the stone-floored courtroom. At least 200 more seats were jammed with foreign observers, journalists, and regular spectators. Upon Zaidi's entry into the room, many supporters burst into applause and stood up, but the room quickly was silenced as the first witness was called to answer routine questions about the scandalous event.

CNN reports (link has text and video -- hit video tab at link for video):

As Bush listed the gains made in Iraq during the mid-December news conference, al-Zaidi said he was thinking about the millions of civilians who had been killed, widowed or displaced. He talked about the sanctity of mosques being violated, the rape of women and daily humiliations.
"I don't know what accomplishments he was talking about. The accomplishments I could see were the more than 1 million martyrs and a sea of blood," al-Zaidi said. "There are more than 5 million Iraqi orphans because of the occupation. ... More than a million widows and more than 3 million displaced because of the occupation."
Al-Zaidi also said he was beaten up in front of the prime minister and the world when he was taken from the room where the press conference was held.

If you click on the video tab, you get Jomana Karadsheh's report.

Jomana Karadsheh: He was very calm and he spoke mainly about what motivated him to throw his shoes at former president Bush. What he said was,he was sitting throughout the press conference -- if you remember the incident happened at a press conference -- right after former president Bush finished speaking. And he said former president Bush was speaking about his accomplishments and victories in Iraq an al Zaidi said the 'accomplishments' for him, in his view, were the one-million widows in Iraq, the orphans, the martyrs and what he called violations committed against the Iraqi people. He referred to president Bush as the commander of the occupying forces here and this is what really, he says, like pushed him. He said "I could see the blood that was spilled in Iraq while he was speaking. He was justifying. He showed no remorse or regret for what was done. On the other hand he was trying to also explain that president Bush to him was not a guest of Iraq. He was saying "they are here, the US forces are in Iraq. They are an occupying force. So he does not see him as a visitor who should be -- who should be diginifed by Iraqis. As he was -- After the session ended -- for technical reasons basically -- the judge decided that they want to get more information from the prime minister's office on whether president Bush was here on an official or non-official visit.

That's an excerpt, not the full thing. Was Bush there on an official visit? Yes. He and al-Maliki were having a ceremonial signing.

This is what he was saying right before the shoes were tossed . . .

PRESIDENT BUSH: With these agreements, Mr. Prime Minister, we're honoring the sacrifices that I just described in the best possible way -- by building a freer, safer, and more hopeful world. By signing these agreements we're showing the people of Iraq the United States of America keeps its word. And we are showing the people of the Middle East that America stands firmly for liberty and justice and peace. And we are leaving the next President with a stable foundation for the future, and an approach that can enjoy broad bipartisan support at home.

There is still more work to be done. The war is not yet over -- but with the conclusion of these agreements and the courage of the Iraqi people and the Iraqi troops and American troops and civilian personnel, it is decisively on its way to being won.

Shukran Jazeelan.

(Audience interruption.)

PRESIDENT BUSH: Okay, everybody calm down for a minute. First of all thank you for apologizing on behalf of the Iraqi people. It doesn't bother me. And if you want some -- if you want the facts, it's a size 10 shoe that he threw. (Laughter.) Thank you for your concern, do not worry about it.

That was from the once official transcript, once found at the White House website. It's a real shame Barack came in and let his crew trash the White House website -- which, for the record, they have. There was historical information there. It's still there, somewhere. (I'm told.) That was official information, official communication to the public and they should have found a way to easily preserve every bit of it (just as whomever follows Barack has no right to trash the Obama White House's work).

But it was an official visit. (They think Bush takes pleasure cruises? The man who had to have his pillow to campaign in 2000 and still whined about being out on the road?) And it's rather frightening that the presiding judge felt the need to halt the trial so that the nature of the visit could be determined.

The photo above had the caption (at the White House page -- when that page existed) "President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki shake hands following the signing of the Strategic Framework Agreement and Security Agreement at a joint news conference Sunday, Dec. 14, 2008, at the Prime Minister's Palace in Baghdad. President Bush said, 'The agreements represent a shared vision on the way forward in Iraq.' White House photo by Eric Draper"

Cue up india.arie's "Pearls" from Testimony Vol. 2: Love & Politics:

And it hurts like brand new shoes
Yes, it hurts like brand new shoes
And it hurts like brand new shoes

Yesterday Iraq's Foreign Ministry noted:

18 February, 2009

Iraq's Accession to the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari received a congratulatory letter from the Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on the occasion of Iraq's signing the treaty on prohibiting the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons on 13/1/2009, d in The Hague/ Netherlands.

The treaty will enter into force on 12/2/2009in Iraq, and Iraq will be no. (186) of the treaty members and Iraq's accession to it is considered as a step towards the achievement of its universality and contributes to strengthening regional and international peace.

The Director-General of the organization expressed the readiness to provide support and assistance to Iraq in the implementation of the organization's requirements.

The Director-General of the organization expressed the readiness to provide support and assistance to Iraq in the implementation of the organization's requirements

And the Kurdistan Regional Government noted this:

German Foreign Minister opens consulate in first trip to Kurdistan Region

Erbil, Kurdistan – Iraq ( – German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier made a landmark visit to Erbil today to mark the inauguration of Germany's Consulate General to the Kurdistan Region in Iraq.

Germany is one of 13 nations with diplomatic representation in the Kurdistan Region, four of which now have full consulates general.

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani received Dr Steinmeier, Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zibari, and their accompanying delegations at the airport in Erbil.

President Masoud Barzani, the Speaker of the Kurdistan Parliament Adnan Mufti, Prime Minister Barzani, and senior Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials met Foreign Minister Steinmeier and his delegation.

President Barzani said, "We are very pleased by this historic visit and invite Germany to participate in rebuilding the Region." Regarding the situation in Iraq, he added, "We have continually promoted the development of Iraq, based on democracy and the rule of law."

Dr Steinmeier was pleased by the vast reconstruction under way in the Kurdistan Region, and appreciated President Barzani's invitation to contribute to those efforts.

Foreign Minister Steinmeier and Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani addressed guests at the opening of the Consulate General. Dr Steinmeier stressed the potential that exists for strengthened cooperation between the Kurdistan Region in Iraq and Germany.

Prime Minister Barzani said, "We commend the German government for opening its Consulate General in the Kurdistan Region." He added, " We hope that you return with a positive impression and are able to discuss the stability and peace in the Region with your colleagues in the European Union, so that other countries are encouraged to come to the Kurdistan Region for the same purpose."

Prime Minister Barzani has been actively promoting stronger ties and mutually beneficial relationships with members of the international community.

Accompanying members of the German delegation, which included representatives of leading firms such as Siemens and MAN, met with KRG ministers and officials to discuss opportunities in several areas, including health and electricity.

Dr Dilshad Abdulrahman, the Minister for Education, took the delegation on a tour of the elementary Gara Typical School, a partnership school in which the German language is taught. Students welcomed the guests with German songs, and Dr Abdulrahman and Dr Steinmeier addressed the audience.

The delegation completed its itinerary with a visit to AGEF a German nongovernmental organisation that promotes social, economic and democratic development, with a particular focus on capacity building.

See also

Prime Minister Barzani's speech at the opening of the German Consulate General.

Photos of the German Foreign Minister's visit to Kurdistan Region

We'll include Barazni's speech in the next entry.

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