Monday, September 28, 2009

Bombings in Iraq claim at least 13 lives

BBC News reports that an inquest has been informed Alec Maclachlan died of "a gunshot wound to the head." As we were noting last night, Maclachlan was one of five British citizens kidnapped in Baghdad May 29, 2007. The other four kidnapped were Alec Maclachlan, Jason Crewswell, Alan McMenemy, Peter Moore and Jason Swindelhurst. All but Alan McMenemy and Peter Moore have been turned over dead. BBC explains:

They were seized by about 40 men disguised as Iraqi policemen.
The captors are understood to belong to an obscure militia known as Islamic Shia Resistance in Iraq.

The group which claims credit for the kidnappings, the League of Righteous, also claims credit for the January 2007 assault on a US base in Iraq and the deaths (during that assault) of Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama. These are the ones Nouri's releasing at a hurried pace from jail and insisting must be part of Iraq's political future. At the same time, Nouri refuses to work out any understanding with former Ba'athists. Stephen Starr (Asia Times) reports on the Ba'athists in Syria and notes:

Commentators interviewed for this article said that in a meeting the day before the bombings, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki asked Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the names of 179 Ba'ath members thought to be hiding in Syria, accusing them of being involved in attacks across Iraq.
[. . .]
Fadhil Rubayieh, an Iraqi researcher and author who writes for al-Arabi al-Qatari and, has doubts about Ba'athist involvement in the attacks. "I don't think any Iraqi Ba'athist people were responsible for the bombings - there's no way they could have pulled off something as big as that. [It was] the biggest [bombing] in Iraq for six years."
Rubayieh looks to the past for pointers on the current crisis. "The same date 30 years ago - in the summer of 1979 - Syria's president was in Iraq to sign a Pan-Arab agreement; within 48 hours, Iraqi president Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr announced a conspiracy to change the Iraqi regime. Iraqi is again trying to show it can stand up for itself."
A report by the Jamestown Foundation said members of the Iraqi Ba'ath party based in northeast Syria would end their support for the insurgency in Iraq in return for permission to participate in the political process. "Maliki does not want to see the Ba'athists succeed in regaining any sort of political legitimacy, and as such, blamed them for the bombing," said Rubayieh.

In Iraq, a bombing today is getting attention. Imad al-Khuzaii, Mohammed Abbas, Missy Ryan and Dominic Evans (Reuters) report a minibus sticky bombing has led to 6 deaths and two people injured in Saniya. Imad al-Khuzaii, Mohammed Abbas, Missy Ryan, Dominic Evans and David Stamp (Reuters) note that this one of a "series of bomb attacks" today including a "water tanker truck packed with explosives" resulted in 7 police officers being killed and ten more injured.

Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) reports continued problems luring foreign businesses to 'safe' Iraq: "A deal to lure $60 million in foreign capital -- one of only a handful of foreign investments in Iraq's state-owned industries -- collapsed. The American government recently gave the company $2.5 million to keep its main production line operating and its workers out of penury and, perhaps, insurgency." This as the International Business Times reports, "Oil and gas explorer Petrel Resources says its Subba and Luhais oilfield development in Iraq is at a standstill. Petrel generated no revenue in the six months to June 2009, against 8m in H1 2008. The company reported an interim loss of 0.228m, down from 0.417m." RTE Business quotes Petral's chair John Teeling stating, "Petrel is determined to stay in Iraq to participate in the growth."

Meanwhile the Canadian Medical Association Journal's "Medical faculties decimated by violence in Iraq" notes the repeated attacks on medical schools since the start of the illegal war where at least 30% of the "118 medical faculty members have since been murdered" (source: Iraq Body Count) "came from the country's 12 medical schools". IBC's Ismail Jalili is quoted stating, "The killers seem to have been targeted medical facutly because of their public importance and possibly because of their relative wealth." The report also notes:

The Iraq Medical Association says 90% of the almost 180 hospitals in Iraq lack essential equipment, causing high numbers of avoidable deaths. Meanwhile, Marie Fernandez, a spokeswoman for the Vienna-based aid agency Saving Children from War, says vital supplies are desperately lacking. “Children are dying because there are no blood bags available.”
Although the US government has spent nearly US$40-billion on Iraqi reconstruction projects, only about US$1-billion has been devoted to health care facilities, mostly on primary health care centers. According to US auditors, much of that money was misspent by US contractors and many of the primary health center projects were not completed.
The situation is less grim in Kurdistan, a northern region where a pro-American local government prevented violence from flaring after the occupation. With a booming economy driven by investment from foreign energy companies, the three Kurdish provinces have total budgets of US$2.5-billion -- matching the combined budget of Iraq’s other 15 provinces. Some health indicators “show strong improvement,” says Abdelrahman Younis, the regional health minister. Infant mortality and under five mortality have both been halved since 2006.

On the subject of the Kurdistan Region, the KRG notes the following:

Head of Foreign Relations meets US officials in Washington

Washington DC, US ( -- Kurdistan Regional Government Head of Foreign Relations Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir on Friday concluded his week-long visit to Washington DC, where he met with American officials, academics and business leaders, working to bolster ties with the US and to encourage investment in the Kurdistan Region.

"The people of the Kurdistan Region are committed to strengthening our relationship with the United States," Mr Bakir said. "We believe the US must remain engaged to ensure that all of Iraq can develop into a peaceful and prosperous nation -- which will only happen if the federal constitution of Iraq, to which the Kurdistan Regional Government is committed, is upheld."

During the visit, Mr Bakir met several members of Congress, representatives from the Departments of State, Defense, Commerce, the National Security Council, the Office of the Vice President, the Chamber of Commerce, several think tanks and the media. He raised awareness with officials and addressed overall security concerns in Iraq, and the recent Kurdistan Region’s elections and socioeconomic development.
"Following Vice President Biden’s recent trip to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Minister Bakir's visit to the US demonstrates the importance of our continued dialogue with America", said Mr Qubad Talabani, the KRG’s Representative to the US, who accompanied him at the meetings. "We wanted to reiterate our support for the normalisation of relations between the US and Iraq and we look forward to playing an important role, as the KRG, in that normalisation process."
In a briefing with members of the media, Mr Bakir said that Kurdistan is open for business and that a free market economy will be the driving force behind the Kurdistan Region’s continued growth, stability and prosperity. In addition, he talked of measures that have been instituted to encourage transparency and good governance. Mr Bakir also encouraged investment in environmental reconstruction, infrastructure, housing, agriculture, industry and banking and finance sectors.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "New 'Action' from 'We Forgot Iraq'" went up last night.

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