Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Iraq and Syria

I saw one of the my friends who teaches English language in of the high schools. After few minutes of talking about the main issue that all Iraqis talk about , I mean security situation and life troubles, I asked him about his work and thought to hear some complains because of the lazy students but the story he told me was something completely new for me and killed any hope to have a new good life in this country.
He told me that one of his student is the son of his educational inspector. My friend told me that this student could not pass the exams because he knows nothing about English language. The educational inspector duty is to check whether the teacher is doing his duty correctly and to help him in passing over any problems to improve the level of the students but this one is completely different.
In addition to neglecting his own son, he threatened to send my friend to jail because he did not give the success mark for his son. The educational inspector said "I will send this teacher to jail and if he believes that anyone can help him then he is wrong"
It looks that our problem is so deep because people who are supposed to apply law consider themselves as exceptions.

The above is from an Iraqi correspondent's "The Destruction is So Deep" (McClatchy Newspapers' Inside Iraq). Staying with Inside Iraq, but Al Jazeera's Inside Iraq, we'll highlight this (noted in yesterday's snapshot):

Jasim Azzawi: To discuss the rising tension between Iraq and Syria, I'm delighted to welcome from Baghdad Saad al-Muttalibi a political adviser to the Ministry of National Dialogue in Iraq and from Damascus Samir Altaqi, Director of the Orient Center for International Studies. Gentlemen welcome to Inside Iraq. Saad Muttalibi, let us go the heart of the matter, rhetoric aside, where is the evidence that Syria is implicated in Bloody Wednesday.

Saad al-Muttalibi: Well next time maybe we should ask the terrorists to bring an authorization when they come and commit a crime I mean this is -- this question should not be asked this way. There are evidence, there are confessions, there are roots, there are cameras, there are maps, there are -- there are millions of things that indicate that 90% of terrorists come through Syria into Iraq. We are not implicating the Syrian government, I must be very clear on this. We implicating Iraqi citizens living in Syria, taking advantadge of the hosp -- of the Syrian hospitality, using Syria as a launch pad to organize crimes against state of Iraq and the people of Iraq.

Jasim Azzawi: Samir Altaqi, Syria has a history of not handing over political refugees requested by their mother country. al-Maliki himself, when he resided in Syria, was asked by Iraq to hand him over during Saddam Hussein and Syria refused. Is this a principle position or is Syria keeping those two suspects for a rainy day.

Samir Altaqui: Not all. Practically the Syrian position for a long time was that it won't be handling those opposition people since not only Mr. Maliki even Mr. [Masoud] Barazani at a certain moment and [Iraqi President Jalal] Talabani were guests in Syria and Syria did not deliver them. Unless there is real evidence that would implicate them directly, that Syria would be convinced that this is not coming because of conflictual positions within the Iraqi political arena.

Inside Iraq is a weekly TV program on Al Jazeera. You can stream it online.

Black Wednesday, Bloody Wednesday. August 19th. When bombings rocked Baghdad with two of the buildings being targeted being the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The latter ministry faced the most damage and suffered the largest death toll. Nouri al-Maliki had ordered the Bremer/blast walls removed and that's been a source of criticism since the bombings. (Immediately following Black Wednesday, the removal of walls was stopped. It was not immediately announced publicly, but it happened immediately. Since then, walls have been put back up.) The death toll for the day's violence in Baghdad was at least 101 with approximately 600 injured.

Immediately Nouri's spokespeople ran out to say that no one should "play the blame game." A rather strange statement when you consider that Nouri and his troupe immediately began blaming Syria. In the process, Nouri has created an ugly scene, an ugly international scene. Baghdad and Damascus have each removed their ambassadors. Nouri demands that Syria turn over two Iraqis. Syria demands proof before doing any extraditions.

"Syria and Iraq's diplomatic storm" (Guardian), Ranj Alaadin observes:

The spat has now led to a potentially dangerous frenzy of military activity along the Syrian border, where Maliki has sent reinforcements to prevent militants from infiltrating.
The speed with which an exchange of goodwill and cooperation between Syria and Iraq turned into a diplomatic storm suggests that Maliki's reaction is electoral posturing more than anything else. His political credentials have taken a battering because of the attacks, given that his main, if not only, credential is security. It had been his decision to get rid of security barriers and checkpoints that could have reduced the magnitude of the attacks, if not prevent them altogether.
Right now, Maliki is left with only nationalism and the withdrawal of US troops to campaign on as he heads closer towards the national elections in January; he does not have enough time to improve things such as public services and employment.
Syria was a convenient scapegoat that Maliki could use to deflect attention away from his own shortcomings. After all, there was no similar posturing during the early years of Maliki's tenure when cross-border jihadist attacks were at their height.

Russia's RIA Novosti reports today that the issue will be addressed today in the Arab League meeting in Cairo. Sami Moubayed (Asia Times) observes:

This week, Iraq seemed far from giving anything close to an apology. Maliki's al-Da'wa Party staged demonstrations chanting anti-Syrian slogans, raising tension to unprecedented levels between Damascus and Baghdad. The demonstrations, which took place in al-Hilla, south of Baghdad, brought 200 people to the streets, including officials in the Maliki regime. Many of the al-Da'wa members now spreading anti-Syrian rhetoric were one-time allies of Syria, who for years were protected by Syria against the dragnet of Saddam.
Reportedly, more demonstrations are scheduled for September 24, ahead of a United Nations Security Council meeting at which Iraq's request for an international tribunal will be discussed. Certain Iraqi officials, however, are trying to downplay the crisis with Syria.
The Iraqi presidency released a statement on Tuesday, signed off by President Jalal Talabani, calling for "containing" the Syrian-Iraqi crisis, while ex-prime minister Iyad Allawi said that the entire ordeal was "fabricated" by the Iraqi government to cover up its own law-and-order shortcomings.
He added that accusations against Damascus were neither diplomatic nor professional. Reportedly, Talabani, who like Maliki is a former fugitive in Syria, will visit Turkey soon, where he might meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with the aim of curbing the diplomatic row between the countries.

BBC World News Service has Barack stating that tonight's speech is to "make sure that it's clear that the American people know what it is I'm proposing." Uh, you do that before you try to get support, Barry. You're many, many weeks too late. Add in that there's no consensus in Congress and that maybe instead of telling "the American people . . . what it is I'm proposing," you damn well should have listened to them. But then you'd have to offer single-payer and that's not going to please the Big Money that bought you, now is it?

Broken Soldier from Displaced Films on Vimeo< On the video above, David Zeiger, Director of Sir! No Sir! and Bestor Cram, Director of Unfinished Symphony note:

Episode Five: This is Not Human Nature available now. Click here
This Is Where We Take Our Stand discussed in a New York Times piece on the antiwar movement and Afghanistan.
Click here
Episode Five of the ground breaking web series, This is Where We Take Our Stand, is now live at http://www.
"This is Not Human Nature" tells the story of the Iraq Veterans Against the War members' struggle to bring hundreds of veterans to Washington, DC, to tell their stories and reveal the true nature of these occupations. If you've watched the first four episodes, you won't want to miss this one.
And if you haven't, WATCH THEM.
This is Where We Take Our Stand is a series that can and should help push the debate about these wars back on to the table. Experience the series, send this email to everyone you know, and spread the word!
This is Not Human Nature: For the first time in history, women have combat and other front-line roles in the U.S. military, yet the military today is rife with sexual harassment, as Wendy Barranco reveals. Is this progress? Is it inevitable? Human nature? Or perhaps it's the sign of a deeper malignancy. For Wendy, her treatment was "the last thing I would have imagined from my own peers and comrades."
This is Where We Take Our Stand, the series that tells the riveting and timely story of the hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who testified at last year's Winter Soldier investigation, continues today. Watch episode five, tell friends, forward this email, spread the word and fan the debate. These stories must be heard.
Stay tuned for the final episode:
Episode Six: No Longer a Monster will launch September 20, 2009.
Spread the link and mark your calendar!

The e-mail address for this site is