Meanwhile Sam Dagher (New York Times) surveys the mood of Sunni leaders as 'intended' elections in March approach:
Sheik Abdul-Rahman Munshid al-Assi has been making up for the time he lost in an American prison, aggressively diving into Iraqi politics after being held nearly a year on charges of aiding the insurgency.
After his release last year, he formed the Arab Political Council to represent Sunni Arabs in Kirkuk. He recruited Sunni candidates to run in the coming national elections. He is forging a political bloc with Arab nationalists, other tribal leaders and former members of Saddam Hussein’s outlawed Baath Party as a counterweight to Kurds in the province.
Sami Moubayed's "Maliki makes his move on Kirkuk issue" (Asia Times) focuses on the moves Nouri's making:
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will soon visit the northern district of Kurdistan, aiming to sign a deal with Kurdish President Massoud Barzani regarding the future of the Peshmerga, the Kurdish militia.
According to the deal, the Baghdad government will recognize and thereby legitimize the Kurdish militia and, in turn, the Kurdish government will release money collected from taxes and tariffs that it has so far withheld from the central government. This also means that salaries and pensions of the 90,000-man Peshmerga, previously paid for by the Kurdistan government, will become the responsibility of the Maliki government.
Is the Maliki visit purely domestic, aimed at diverting attention from the recent bombings in Baghdad and creating allies for the prime minister ahead of the March 2010 elections? Or is it a result of a recent US declaration supporting implementation of Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, which calls for a referendum in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, to see whether its inhabitants want to remain part of Iraq or join the district of Iraqi Kurdistan? Kurdistan already has 10-15% of Iraq's oil reserves, while Kirkuk alone holds as much as 25%, meaning that if the Kurds get to incorporate it, they will control no less than 40% of oil reserves in Iraq.
Bonnie reminds that Isaiah The World Today Just Nuts "Super Model President" went up Sunday.
We'll close with this excerpt from Sharon, Eileen, and Richie's "Why We Volunteer with World Can't Wait" (World Can't Wait):
As a New Yorker, I was of course horrified by the events on 9/11. However, it became immediately clear that 9/11 was going to be used as a justification to engage in wars in the Middle East that had nothing to do with 9/11 and for purposes that did not have the best interests of either the US population or the world's at its base.
The "war on terror" was and is a war for empire--damn the costs in human life, on the moral fiber of the people of this country, on laws and institutions that hold up a minimum of civility. Shortly after World Can't Wait was formed, it became clear to me that I couldn't just sit back and do nothing about the things that were being done in our name. I am by nature a wait and see kind of person, not inclined to holding up signs that the world is coming to an end.
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