Thursday, January 14, 2010

Nouri gears up for election/coronation

Hannah Allam and Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) report that any hopes last week's announcement of parties and politicians banned from Iraq's elections (expected to be held in March) would be overturned appear to be over as it now appears that an additional 100 candidates may be announced banned shortly. Faraj al Haidari (Independent High Electoral Commission) attempts to spin frantically insisting that the efforts to disenfranchise are not aimed only as Sunnis. In 2005, a large number of Sunnis boycotted the national elections and hopes of higher participation this go round appear in doubt.

Michael Jansen (Middle East Views) sees
no attempts at equality or protecting the public, only efforts to target Sunnis and eliminate them from the process:

Whether this proposal is accepted or not by the election commission, it is clear that the US-installed Shiite-Kurdish rulers of Iraq do not intend to share power with anyone else.
The de-Baathification committee -- renamed the Justice and Accountability Board - made this recommendation although its chief target, Saleh Mutlaq, was cleared to stand in Iraq's 2005 election and his National Dialogue Front won 11 seats in the 275-member assembly.
Ali Lami, head of the panel, claims new information reveals that Mutlaq "is a Baathist and nominated himself as a Baathist."
Mutlaq dismissed the allegation as "rubbish". He left the Baath party in 1977 before Saddam seized power, established a large farming business in the south, and made a great deal of money. His supporters point out that Lami has close relations with pro-Iranian factions and only retained his post because there was no agreement on a replacement. It may be significant that the new charge against Mutlaq surfaced after Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki paid a visit to Baghdad.

Afif Sarhan ( notes, "Experts believe the ban would also stir a political storm for the Nuri Al-Maliki government" and quotes Ibrahim Suwa'id stating, "A ban like this, a couple of months before parliamentary elections, can bring a chaotic situation that the government will feel hard to succeed."

Nouri's grandstanding for elections, as he tries desperately to regain his (false) image as the person who gave Iraq security, coincides with the announcement of executions. Al Jazeera reports that 11 men have been sentenced to death for the August 19th Baghdad bombings ("Black Wednesday") and quotes the judicial body's spokesperson Abdul Sattar al-Birqdar stating, "Today an Iraqi criminal court imposed a death sentence against 11 criminals who have been convicted of implementing, planning and funding the bomb events that targeted the finance and foreign ministries."

In other tensions (electoral and economic), Ben Holland (Bloomberg News) reports on the KRG's difficulties with Nouri:

They have hit a speed bump: a four-month standoff with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki over how to share the country’s oil resources and where to draw internal boundaries.
The dispute, which led al-Maliki to refuse payments to oil companies hired by the Kurds, may threaten the boom that has given Erbil new homes, conference centers and underground fiber- optic cables. It may also jeopardize Iraq’s stability as it approaches March 7 elections and the pullout of U.S. troops.
The tension “could potentially escalate into live fire” if al-Maliki’s government tries to weaken Kurdish self-rule, said David L. Phillips, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a research institute in Washington. “Sectarian violence will never break Iraq but ethnic conflict can.”

In the US, Martha Quillin (News Observer) reports on a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine of military wives (military husbands were not included in the study):

The study found that 36.6percent of women whose husbands had deployed had at least one mental-health diagnosis, compared with 30.5 percent of women whose husbands had not deployed.
The military has long been aware that the stress of combat deployment can have lasting effects on troops, and has developed programs to help before, during and after they are sent to war. With the majority of its service members married, the military has extended the reach of its programs in recent years to spouses and children, reasoning that a healthier family makes a stronger soldier.

Military husbands weren't the only group excluded from the study:

The exclusion of male spouses, persons with a spouse who had been in the military less than 5 years as of January 1, 2007, and spouses of Reserve and National Guard personnel limits the generalizability of our findings. Although adjustment for mental health history dictated the latter two exclusions, we believe the resulting estimates of excess use of mental health services are conservative. Spouses in our sample probably had at least 5 years of continuous Army life, whereas spouses of Reserve and National Guard soldiers may have missed substantial opportunities for networking, shared experience, and military services associated with life in and around most active-duty communities. Nonetheless, family members of Reserve and National Guard members and persons new to military life constitute large and important groups with experiences that are worthy of research attention and with outcomes that may differ markedly from those in the current study.

That's from the report on the study in the medial journal is entitled "Deployment and the Use of Mental Health Services among U.S. Army Wives" and is written by Alyssa J. Mansfield, Jay S. Kaufman, Stephen W. Marshall, Dr. Bradley N. Gaynes, Joseph P. Morrisey and Dr. Charles C. Engel (as always here, we note medical doctors with "Dr.") who poured over the outpatient care data of 250,626 military wives receiving treatment from 2003 through 2006.

From Debra Sweet's "Challenging Bush Torture Architect John Yoo" (World Can't Wait), we'll note the following:

Last night, on both coasts, World Can’t Wait, Code Pink and other people of conscience demanded the prosecution of John Yoo, the principal legal architect of the justification of torture by the United States.
In Berkeley, where Yoo’s 2010 class schedule called for the first class of the semester, UC officials made the location secret, they said, because of “concerns for students’ safety.”
One might note that it would be more dangerous for a law student to be taught Constitutional law by someone who opposed international law on the subject of torture (not to mention U.S. law) than for those students to encounter advocates against torture.

The following community sites updated last night:

Earlier this week, the Kurdistan Regional Government issued the following:

President Barzani chairs Peshmerga command meeting, discusses Peshmerga affairs with US General Odierno

Salahaddin, Kurdistan Region, Iraq ( – Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani conducted key meetings regarding security over the past few days with the Peshmerga command leadership and separately with General Raymond Odierno, the commanding general of United States forces in Iraq.

President Barzani chaired a meeting of the two Peshmerga force commands, previously adherent to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) political parties, but now unified under the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) administration. He emphasised the importance of coordination among Peshmerga leaders. In addition, the President discussed the issue of security during the upcoming election.

The President paid tribute to the commands of both forces, and outlined the importance of a single, unified force under the jurisdiction of the KRG Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs, as stipulated by the Iraqi Constitution, rather than answering to political parties.

President Barzani said, “Without their sacrifices and hard work we would not have been where we are today. However, having two separate Peshmerga forces is against our efforts to institutionalise our government.”

In their meeting, President Barzani and General Odierno focused on coordination among US military, federal Iraqi security forces, and the Kurdistan Region Peshmerga, in an effort to ensure stability and combat terrorism. A number of KRG officials attended the meeting. President Barzani briefed General Odierno on efforts to unify the Peshmerga commands under the KRG's administration rather than adherence to political parties. Security preparations for the national elections and the implementation of the security agreements arranged with the assistance of US forces in Iraq were also discussed.

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends