Xinhua reports a political party's office in Baghdad was hit by a bombing injuring a security guard and damaging the office and they also report that a Baghdad US military base was shelled with mortar rounds. Reuters notes 3 Kubaisah roadside bombings which claimed the life of 1 child and left four adults wounded and a Mosul home invasion in which 1 woman ("a hospital cook") was shot dead.
Meanwhile, if you ever wonder why Layla Anwar (An Arab Woman Blues) calls out Al Jazeera so often, click here for Al Jazeera offering a laughable 'summary' of the bannings. (Click here for an example of Anwar calling Al Jazeera out.) Anwar translates a bulletin from Iraq's south:
Title : Bulletin from the movement for the liberation of the South, condemning the statements of Ahamedinejad and his interference in Iraqi affairs.
" With all the arrogance, audacity and disrespect towards the feelings of the Iraqi government, the Iraqi people and the Iraqi soil, Ahmedinejad proclaims that he will not allow the return of the Baathists to Iraq. And here we are not debating whether the Baath party should return or not. We are however very surprised by the arrogance of this leader who stated his intentions, knowing full well that this public statement is an open admission of his country's involvement in Iraqi affairs. And by doing so, he (Ahmadinejad) is embarrassing his friends more than his opponents, but it seems that the game is now in the open, this time round.
The Tehran government is clearly the winner out of this (American) Occupation of Iraq, otherwise Ahmedinejad would have not said what he said.
But let Ahmadinejad and company know that there is a people in Iraq, who will never allow their occupation and let them know that their end as well as that of their (Persian) empire dream, will be made a reality through Iraqi hands, by the will of Allah.
And who is Ahmedinejad to speak on behalf of the Iraqis. Let him and those who follow him know that if a people want a thing, no one can stop them and if a people hate a thing, nothing will make them love it, even if that thing covers their hands with rings and rosaries.
We, in the movement for the liberation of the South, consider this statement by Ahmadinejad, a public admission that all the decisions taken by the Justice and Accountability committee were made in Tehran and by Iranian orders. We shall retain our right of reply.
So from today onwards, we do not want anyone to shy away from intervening in Iranian affairs, whoever that person is, in removing the rule of the mullahs. Had Iran not started and intervened in Iraqi affairs, we would have never contemplated interfering in its affairs. The one who started this is the real oppressor.
We are committed and adamant about the liberation of Iraq and her people first, and the Iranian people second, from this fascist tyrannical regime."
Gordon Campbell (New Zealand's Scoop) also sees Iran as a winner and he notes:
The associated round of standoffs in the election campaign have raised the prospect that a compromise candidate will need to be found... Amazingly, there are signs that the shortlist of viable compromise figures includes the perennial Shia opportunist Ahmad Chalabi, the former Jordanian fraudster who was the US neo-cons' favourite candidate to lead the nation after the 2003 invasion -- at least until he turned out to be a double agent working for the Iranians.
While working as a double agent, Chalabi not only allegedly passed onto Teheran the CIA advances on Iranian code breaking -- he had also been the central figure in feeding false information to Washington that helped to lure the US into their ruinous war against Iran's arch enemy, Saddam Hussein. As the Americans have found out in Afghanistan as well, this nation building game is so much harder than it looks.
Oliver August (Times of London) offers this overview of the current situation:
The start of Iraq's election campaign season yesterday was meant to be a proud moment for the young democracy. Colourful flags were hung from lampposts, candidates' faces peered down from freshly pasted posters and parties set up soup kitchens for chanting supporters.
But all that anyone talked about was dirty tricks. "There is some dangerous manipulating going on," said Mithal al-Alusi, a member of parliament. "This is not an elections, it's a war."
Politicians are engaged in crude power games meant to destroy rather than defeat opponents. Murder, blackmail, corruption and intimidation are a central part of the process used to choose the next government.
March 7th elections are supposed to take place. Will they or won't they? Who knows? If they do take place, it's not appearing that they'll be legitimate elections. It's not enough that they ban candidates, Naseer Al-lly (Asharq Alawsat Newspaper) reports that now Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi is being accused of "supporting terrorism" by MP Asharq al-Awsat. This is what passes for 'campaigning.' Mohammed Abbas (Reuters) notes that "Maliki is likely aware of his dented popularity as he has reverted to proven vote-winning methods, like stirring up Shi'ite fears of a return of Saddam's Baath party, to win the ballot, analysts say." It's 'campaigning.' Of course, the last time 'campaigning' like this took place, ethnic cleansing (popularly known as "the civil war") took place for the following two years.
We'll close with this from Helen Thomas' "Obama, The War President" (Times Union via Information Clearing House):
The President has not defined any real difference between his hawkish approach to international issues and that of his predecessor, former President George W. Bush.
Where's the change we can believe in?
Bush left a legacy of two wars, neither of which was ever fully explained or justified. Obama has merely picked up the sword that Bush left behind in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the struggle against terrorism, one might say, "Who cares?"
One group that cares consists of Americans who follow the rules and think we should honor all the treaties we have promoted and signed over the years.
The President gave short shrift to foreign policy in his State of the Union address, mentioning neither the lives lost nor the cost of the global hostilities that the U.S. has involved itself in. He also didn't mention U.S. policies in the Middle East, though those are the root cause of many of our problems.
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