Monday, February 09, 2009

Nawal al-Samarrai lacked the apparently needed lurid details

Newsday's Iraq brief "In the war: Iraq's minister for women, frustrated, quits" focuses on Nawal al-Samarrai resigning as the Minister of Women's Affairs due to it being a for-show position in a ministry that was underfunded all along ($7,500 a month) and even that pitiful amoung was cut (to $1,500). Sandy Sand's "Iraq's Women's Minister Quits: 'Army of Widows' Left in Need" (Digital Journal) also focuses on this issue:

Feeling frustrated and abandoned herself, Nawal al-Samarraie left her post as Iraq's minister for women's affairs after six months on the job due to severe cutbacks in her ministry’s funding. Not counting staff salaries, her budget, which was meager to begin with, was slashed from $7,500 a month to $1,500.
"I reached to the point that I will never be able to help the women," said al-Samarraie. "The budget is very limited ... so what can I do?"

I hope everyone is noticing how little coverage this resignation is receiving. It was breaking news on Friday (noted in the morning and in the snapshot) and yet who's covering it?
Nawal al Samurrai

That was among the points of Third's "NYT goes tabloid" Sunday. A women resigns her post and expalins why and the press reaction is . . . silence. Let the Iraqi government declare a suspect is guilty of bombing and using women and using women who are rape victims and plotting their rapes and -- one lurid detail after another -- none of which can be verified -- and the press runs with it and makes it the driving story of that day out of Iraq. But very serious issues causing a minister to resign? They just don't care. And those serious issues effect women which, for any not paying attention in 2008, has been a pattern of not caring from the press. (One example? Hillary Clinton's proposals on breast cancer . . . covered by Ellen DeGeneres. No offense to Ellen, glad she was there. But the press ignored the proposals and then the few who did cover it did so only in a "Hillary said on Ellen . . ." manner.) Give them an individual women to cluck over and 'moralize' over and the press is in the hog heaven so many of the pigs long to one day reach. But point to systematic problems and issues that damage women's lives and the response is silence.

And there's no excuse of 'The wire services didn't pick up on it!' Kim Gamel has written a very strong AP article which most outlets are not carrying. From Gamel's "Iraqi women's minister resigns in protest:"

Al-Samarraie's resignation has cast a spotlight on the overwhelming problems facing Iraqi women, tens of thousands of them left poor or widowed by war.
An untold number have lost their husbands or other male relatives to violence or detention since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, often leaving them alone with children and virtually no safety net or job opportunities.
Al-Samarraie claimed Iraq has 3 million widows, calling it "a full army of widows, most of them not educated." The figure, which she said came from a government survey, includes those who lost their husbands under Saddam Hussein's regime and was impossible to verify.
All Iraqis have undergone difficulties, but women face the additional danger of being sidelined in a male-dominated society. Widows in Iraq, for example, traditionally move in with their extended families, but many families find it increasingly difficult to care for them.
Other problems for women include homelessness, domestic violence and the random detention of women caught up in U.S.-Iraqi military sweeps.

Sami Moubayed (Asia Times), apparently high off huffing the fumes emitting from Nouri al-Maliki's crotch, informs:

This weekend, yet another member resigned from the Maliki cabinet, Nawal al-Samarai, the minister of state for women's affairs. Her walkout puts the prime minister in a tight position, having already lost six Sadrists, three members of the secular Iraqi National List and six of the Iraqi Accordance Front, in addition to the Shi'ite party, al-Fadilah. Her argument was that since coming to office she had been unable to advance the interests of Iraqi women because of a lack of funds from the Baghdad government. "I have the privileges of a minister but I do not perform the duties of one," she said, and added that her powers were very limited.
Samarai, a member of the Sunni party, the Iraqi Accordance Front, was the only minister to veto signing the Security of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in the Iraqi cabinet in late 2008. The Accordance Front is angry with the prime minister, and so are heavyweight Sunni parties, who claim that Maliki's team rigged the provincial elections, the results of which were unofficially announced last Thursday. Election results, rather than being unable to deliver, are apparently what caused Samarai to resign, under orders from the Accordance Front.

For those who don't use the link, the resignation is very minor to Sami who drops it in late in his article after panting about Nouri doing something "forcefully" repeatedly. IRIN apparently either fanned themselves or was immune to the fumes Sami got high off. They note:

"My office is inside the Green Zone with no affiliated offices in other provinces and not enough funds to hold conferences, invite experts for studies and implement development plans," Al-Samaraie said. "How can I work and serve women under such circumstances?"
Al-Samaraie said there was "an army" of uneducated women, widows, victims of domestic violence and female internally displaced persons in dire need of assistance.
"My resignation is a warning to the government and a protest against its inability to evaluate the needs of women," she said. Al-Samaraie’s frustration is echoed by a group of women's rights activists led by prominent female member of parliament and women’s activist Safia al-Suhail. "When we talk about the women of Iraq, we are talking about nearly 65 percent of the population. They need a national and comprehensive strategy to help them enjoy their legal, health and social rights," Al-Suhail said.

Yesterday the KRG issued "President Barzani concludes visit to Kuwait, arrives in Qatar:"

Masoud Barzani

Qatar -- ( -- Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani is completing an official visit to Kuwait and Qatar as the Kurdistan Region continues to pursue mutually beneficial relationships with countries throughout the Middle East. President Barzani met with Kuwait's President Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister Jabir Mubarek al-Hamad al-Sabah, and Crown Prince Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah, as well as several Kuwaiti business people.
President Barzani discussed the relationship between Kuwait and Iraq and emphasised the expansion of investment and private sector opportunities in the Kurdistan Region. He welcomed Kuwaiti companies to explore commercial and investment ventures in the Region.
Mr Barzani also met several ambassadors from Arab countries to Kuwait, with whom he discussed political affairs.
He said, "From our own experience and the experience of many other people, a federal system is the best solution for Iraq."
President Barzani was received in Qatar by Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabir al-Thani. A number of Qatari ministers also attended the meeting.

And yesterday Iraq's Foreign Ministry issued the following:

Ryan Crocker Hoshyar Zebari

8 February, 2009
Foreign Ministry Holds Farewell Ceremony for U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari held a lunch at the Foreign Ministry on Sunday, 8 \ 2 \ 2009 in honor of Ambassador Ryan Crocker, U.S. ambassador to Iraq marking the end of his mission in Iraq

The minister praised in his farewell speech the efforts of Ambassador Crocker in supporting Iraq and his perseverance in assisting the Iraqis in the difficult circumstances and his significant contribution in supporting the efforts of the Iraqi government to achieve national reconciliation and restore security and stability in Iraq.
Minister Zebari wished Ambassador Crocker success in his career, and expressed the feelings of gratitude for what the ambassador presented to Iraq and the Iraqi people and the close relations between Iraq and the United States .
On this occasion the minister praised the efforts of Ambassador David Satterfield, adviser of Iraq's affairs in the State Department for role in promoting bilateral ties and wished him success in the future.
The farewell ceremony was attended by UN Secretary-General and ambassadors of the permanent members of UN, Ambassador of the European Union and a number of foreign ambassadors accredited in Iraq, Undersecretaries of the Foreign Ministry, and several ambassadors of the Ministry .

Bonnie reminds that Kat's "Kat's Korner: Tracy Chapman's truly amazing Our Bright Future" went up Sunday and her "Kat's Korner: Springsteen's serving up a dud" went up Saturday while Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Little Dicky Breaks It Down" went up Sunday.

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