Monday, April 06, 2009

Yazidis and Nineveh Province

In today's New York Times, Campbell Robertson and Stephen Farrell contribute "Ancient Sect Navigates Iraq's New Voting Process" which examines Iraq's Yazidi community and may be the strongest article to do so in the secular and non-academic world. The Yazidis did amazingly well in Nineveh Province's January 31st provincial election:

Of the 37 candidates running on the Kurdish list in January's provincial election in Nineveh, 10 were Yazidi. On Election Day, the Yazidis chose their candidates individually rather than voting for the list as a whole. As a result, 8 of the 12 winners on the Kurdish list were Yazidis. There is another Yazidi on the council as well, in a reserved minority seat.
That gives them 9 of the 37 seats, a proportion second only to the Sunni Arabs on the council.

It's a very strong article but do men tuck their beards under their shirt collars? I've never heard of such a thing but it's possible. If that's not the case, who wrote this article? It's an issue that the article unintentionally raises with this this sentence:

"Frankly," said the prince, who wears the long, bushy beard often seen on older Yazidis, "now we feel the Kurds are more responsive to us."

That's Prince Tahseen Saeed Ali and his photo runs with the article (A4 national edition and it's also online). I don't see a "long, bush beard". I see one that's not a great deal different from the one Robert Scheer has. So did Atheer Kakan do all the work on this story and Robertson and Farrell sketch it out? (Kakan gets an end credit as having "contributed reporting.") And where's the editorial staff proofing the copy in the US?

It may seem a minor point -- it doesn't detract from the otherwise indepth report -- but if you tell readers someone has a "long, bushy beard" and you provide a photo (credited to Jehad Nga "FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES") of the man, he should have a "long, bushy beard." Otherwise your story contains and "accent" that's incorrect.

The article focuses on the Yazidis ties to the Kurds and their distance from the Kurds. What this will mean for Nineveh Province is the questions that hangs over the article. (Not an insult to the reporters, they're reporters, not psychics. Their role is to raise the questions, not predict the future.)

Bonnie notes that Kat's "Kat's Korner: When you build your house . . ." and Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Pig-Pen Ambassador" went up yesterday. Also Diana notes that Cindy Sheehan's latest Soapbox (internet radio program) is up. Her guests are Sara Rich (sexual assault activist, peace activist and mother of Suzanne Swift) and retired Army Col and retired State Dept diplomat Ann Wright. Diana says to be sure to check out Cindy's editorial on protesting in the age of 'change'. (I haven't heard it yet. I'll try to listen before dictating the snapshot.)

When people ask why Ava and I advocated for a woman in the post of US Ambassador to Iraq, the reasons are many and are sound but the best answer may be in the garbage to be found on today's New York Times op-ed pages where John Kael Weston contributed a column entitled "Where's Our Man in Iraq?" The title says it all, doesn't it? And for the record, Iraq has NO women who are ambassadors. They have sent ambassadors around the world (here in the US, we receive a lying War Criminal who helped sell the illegal war and, naturally, he's among the many cowards who wanted Saddam ousted but didn't want to lift a finger or even be in Iraq making it happen). The US appointing a woman -- there are many qualified women in the State Dept -- to this post would send a message and it would put a woman in prominent position in Iraq which would help Iraqi women and also force al-Maliki's government to get used to interacting with women in positions of power. John Kael Weston writes an embarrassing column full of b.s. including odes to "swagger" (the last thing the US needs is more "swagger" in Iraq).

Independent journalist Dahr Jamail has an important article entitled "The Growing Storm" (Dissident Voice):

Last weekend, the Iraqi government arrested an Awakening Group leader of a Baghdad neighborhood, then moved into the area. With the help of US occupation forces, they disarmed the militiamen under his control, but only after fighting broke out between US-backed Iraqi government security forces and the US-formed Sunni Awakening Group militia. This disturbing event is the realization of what most Iraqis have long feared -- that the relative calm in Iraq today would eventually be broken when fighting erupts between these two entities.
The US policy that has led to this recent violence has been long in the making, as it has only been a matter of time before the tenuous truce between the groups came unglued. For it has been a truce built on a deeply corrupt US policy of backing the predominantly Shia Iraqi government forces while paying the Sunni resistance not to fight both government and occupation forces.
Most of us remember all too well the praise from the Bush administration lavished on the Awakening Groups, a Sunni militia comprised of former resistance fighters and al-Qaeda members (according to the US military), each member paid $300 per month of US taxpayer money. They grew in strength to 100,000 men.

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