Tuesday, July 21, 2009

10 dead, fifty-five injured as violence rocks Iraq

While various US outlets couch their statements or outright deny the increase violence in Iraq, Alsumaria notes that "Iraq sucirty is replapsing with violence" and that it's leading to crackdowns and curfews. Falluja now has a truck curfew. Reuters notes that "Ramadi has declared a state of emergency and imposed a vehicle ban after two bomb attacks on Tuesday" with one being a car bombing and the other a suicide bombing ("in a moving car"), one after the other, resulting in at least 3 deaths and thirteen injuries according to one unnamed source from the local police. Meanwhile Muhanad Mohammed, Tim Cocks, Ali al-Mashhadani and Jon Hemming (Reuters) report Baghdad's Sadr City has been rocked by two roadside bombings this morning with an estimated 7 dead and forty-five left injured.

Ramadi was one of yesterday's hot spots. Sam Dagher (New York Times) reports on the 11 dead and sixty-one injured in Baghdad and Ramadi yesterday and notes of Ramadi:

The attack occurred at the same spot where Anbar's police chief was wounded last month in a suicide car-bombing. It also came less than two days after the former commander and the deputy police chief in Falluja, the other major city in Anbar, were detained for questioning by a security force sent from Baghdad, according to the current deputy police chief, Col. Daoud Salman. It was not clear why they were detained.

This as thug and puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki gears up for his media stop in the US, just in time for Barry O's prime time address Wednesday night. July 25th, three provinces in Iraq hold their provincial elections and to steal attention (what little's been given) for the KRG, Nouri plans to announce an education plan that would put 10,000 Iraqis in Australia, Canada, the UK and the US for college study. Of course, that 10,000 wouldn't come anytime soon. He plans to do 500. He'll make his announcement of the program in DC Saturday morning. Ned Parker's "Maliki remakes himself ahead of elections" (Los Angeles Times) covers the region's Madonna as he prepares to embark on his Blonde Ambition tour and notes of self-promoter Nouri:

Iran has played a king-making role in Iraqi Shiite politics since 2003 because of its ties to many Shiite lawmakers, who spent years in exile across the border.
"In the period of 2006 and 2007, there were moves to remove Maliki. It was Iran who stopped it. Maliki has to remember this. They can make his life harder," said Sami Askari, a Shiite legislator and confidant of the prime minister.
Still, Askari warned that Maliki would not be hemmed in; he would set the conditions for any list of candidates he might join.
"Maliki will not accept to be marginalized. . . . Some may have ambitions to surround Maliki. I doubt they will succeed," Askari said. "Everyone understands Maliki is an asset."

Noting the visit is Jake Kurtzer (Refugees International) who stresses the ongoing Iraqi refugee crisis -- internal and external displaced persons -- and offers:

President Obama can convey this message by urging Al-Maliki to take a few basic steps. First and foremost, the Iraqi government must continue to improve its own response to the displacement crisis. Reports that the Iraqi government plans to close the IDP file at the end of this year indicate a desire on their part to gloss over this humanitarian emergency. This is unacceptable. The Iraqi government, with U.S. support, must continue to improve its legal framework for supporting returnees and must ensure that all returns are voluntary, and conducted with dignity to areas that are safe and suitable for return.
In urging Al-Maliki to take these steps, President Obama should reiterate America's commitment to meeting the basic needs of Iraq's displaced, through financial support for humanitarian agencies and through diplomatic engagement with host countries. The announcement of a potential return of an Ambassador to Syria is a welcome and overdue step that RI has been calling for since 2007. This will ensure that the U.S. can engage with the Syrian government on issues relating to the basic needs of Iraqi refugees. Finally, the President can continue to affirm the U.S.'s commitment to resettle those most vulnerable Iraqi’s who will never be able to return home.

Refugees International's latest report is [PDF format warning] entitled "IRAQI REFUGEES: WOMEN'S RIGHTS AND SECURITY CRITICAL TO RETURNS" and it's covered in yesterday's snapshot.

In the US, there is a 'fast-track' (by comparison) for Iraqis who were media workers for US outlets, worked for NGOs or worked with the US embassy or military in Iraq. Deborah Haynes (Times of London) has long covered the issue of those Iraqis who worked with British forces and, in fact, has won an award for that reporting. Last week, she offered "Iraqi interpreters employed by British to sue over lack of protection:"

About 25 Iraqis, mainly interpreters, employed by British Forces in Iraq are to take legal action against the Government for allegedly failing to protect them from militias that regarded the men as traitors.
The group members, who failed to benefit from an assistance scheme offered by Britain, said that they were owed a duty of care. Some still fear for their life despite a big drop in the influence of the Iranian-backed militants who once controlled Basra, southern Iraq. They say the tense relationship between Iran and Britain makes anyone associated with the British military more of a target.
One former interpreter, who is in hiding in Basra, told The Times: "I am worthless. I have lost my life."

Meanwhile Jill Dougherty (CNN) reports on Iraq Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, still in DC (he met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last Wednesday), is stating that Iraq can "not regain full sovereignty and independence without getting rid of" the United Nations sanctions put in place after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. Meanwhile Steve Levy (Wired) reports:

As the CEO of MeetUp, Scott Heiferman usually spends his days meeting with staff and brainstorming product strategy. But today the 37-year-old New Yorker, wearing a combat helmet and armored vest over a black business suit, is crammed into a battered C-130 transport plane headed for Iraq. Military and diplomatic personnel aboard are warily eyeing him and the others in his party, all similarly attired, as the C-130 begins its steep, corkscrew descent into the Baghdad airport. And Heiferman is thinking, "What am I doing here?"
It's only been a few weeks since he got an email from a State Department policy planner named Jared Cohen inviting him to join the first tech delegation to post-invasion Iraq. Now he's strapped in with eight other Silicon Valley executives, mostly in their thirties, from Google, Twitter, YouTube, Blue State Digital, WordPress, Howcast, and AT&T. When Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey got his invitation, "I just said yes," he recalls. YouTube's director of product management, Hunter Walk, had to go down to his basement to find a suit to wear, because Cohen insisted that the group dress like diplomats to show respect for their hosts. Others worked their spouses for approval, repeating Cohen's assurances that the security situation in Baghdad was much improved. Howcast CEO Jason Liebman's mother thinks he's on a trip to LA.

While a tag sale tries to pass as a tech boom, Alsumaria observes, "Blazing Conflict between Arabs and Kurds in province threatens to arouse tensions and split the province in two. Kurdish local councilors in disputed region of Nineveh who boycotted all contacts with its Arab governor Atheel al-Nujaifi vowed on Sunday to form their own splinter council if disagreement with him fail to be resolved." UPI adds, "The governor of the northern Iraqi province of Ninawa threatened to dissolve municipal councils that he says run counter to the Iraqi Constitution." Iran's Press TV provides this perspective:

The Kurds say that parts of the majority Arab Nineveh belong to their ancient homeland and want them included in Iraq's semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan. Kurds represent 16 of Nineveh's 37 seats in the parliament.
They complain that Arab Governor, Atheel al-Nujaifi has marginalized them in the provincial council since he was elected on January 31, restoring Arabs to power.
Should the problem fail to be resolved, the Kurds will be forced to split the province into two, forming their own splinter council to run the 16 administrative units, Kurdish councilor Derrman Khitari said on Sunday.

In addition to the rising tensions in Iraq over the territorial boundaries, there is the issue of the water with many neighbors of Iraq accused of building damns which divert the Tigris and Euphrates rivers at a time when Iraq is facing massive drought. Alsumaria reports:

Iraq's Water Resources Ministry called on Monday for talks with Turkey and Syria after the water flow in Euphrates River declined. The Ministry declared in a statement that it urges to meet urgently with the three countries’ Ministers and experts this coming August to tackle water sharing.
The statement also confirmed that Euphrates' flow to Iraq "in the Hassaiba region near the Iraq-Syria border is very low. Moreover, for the last 10 days flow rates have not exceeded 250 cubic meters per second (m3/s) and these quantities are not sufficient for agriculture and other needs", the statement said.

And we'll close with the opening of Debra Sweet's ""There has been no change in the Department of Justice": A Talk With Candace Gorman" (World Can't Wait):

"There has been no change in the Department of Justice" under the Obama administration as far as the rights of the Guantanamo detainees. This is one of the things Candace Gorman said on a special World Can't Wait conference call on July 9th. The call brought activists closer to the lives of front-line defenders of the torture detainees. Candace told us in detail about the lives of her two clients, still in Guantanamo, one of whom is seriously ill. Candace, who is an advisor to War Criminals Watch, also talked about why she's put aside her other civil rights work to concentrate on stopping war crimes. it was a privilege to share an hour with her.

I only thought we were closing. Amy Goodman's 'creative' this morning. Marcia's texting to say she's grabbing that tonight at her site and Betty called to ask that I note she's covering the Sunday sewer that people are e-mailing her about. Covering it tonight. We heard that and couldn't believe it Sunday morning. Betty was planning then to make it her Friday night post because Fridays can be slow (due to the news cycle) but, with all the e-mails coming in, she's grabbing it tonight. I'll also toss out that Elaine and Mike are back from their vacations and blogging at their sites and that Ann has started her own site.
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thomas friedman is a great man