Monday, February 22, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the top US commander in Iraq states he hasn't been advised on a withdrawal plan, he further states that an increase in violence could slow the draw down, a political party pulls out of the election process, 2 US service members are announced dead on Sunday, Gordon Brown gets a date to appear before the Iraq Inquiry, and more.
The latest installment of Inside Iraq (Al Jazeera) began airing Friday with Jasim al-Azawi exploring the topic of human rights with Arab Lawyers Association's Sabah al-Mukhtar, Human Rights Watch's Joe Stork and Iraqi Parliament's deputy chair of the Human Rights Committee Shatha al-Obosi.
Jasim al-Azawi: Let me ask you a very simple question. Not only are you an Iraqi that witnessed human rights record in Iraq but also you are the deputy chair person. How do you assess the human rights record in Iraq?
Shatha al-Obosi: The situation of human rights in Iraq is still worrying because with the huge number of detainees, with minority rights, with the women rights, with the killing peoples, the human rights belong to the secure situation. We have very bad situation after 2003, after the occupation. The American arrested people and killed people without any judge about them because they then -- belong for the Iraqi law. After that in the 2005 and 2006, the very bad situation of the security make a huge number of the detainees in the prison and there's no trial for them. They are asking for a fair trial, if they are innocent to release them or they are guilty to put them in the prisons. That's what they need. We have very bad situation in the prisons with the crowding, with the bad food, with the bad health care. So we look after their cases to find -- to end this file. And we have another, another challenges about the minorities --
Jasim al-Azawi: We will come to the other challenges for human rights for minorities as well as women, Shatha, but the bleak picture, Joe Stork, as portrayed by Shatha al-Obosi, it is not alien to you. You must have run across this many times. Your organization gave a report to the world community as well as to the UN. Did she present an accurate picture? Or is it worse than that or less than that?
Joe Stork: Well I think almost all of the things she mentioned are things we are aware of and-and I would subscribe to her, you know, list of-of the many problems that Iraq faces. I think we should focus on -- we should distinguish between those problems that the government has a direct ability to effect, you know, in the near term, in the short term, and those things -- like very important issues like protection of the population which is obviously -- the are human rights aspect to it and other things as well. And obviously there is a capacity issue in terms of the government's ability here. So let me talk for just a second about what I think the government can do and should do in the near term. First, we have the escalation as you noted Jasim the escalation in executions. Executions resumed in May of 2008. There are scores of people -- if not hundreds of people -- with death sentences now. There have been mass executions, that is to say dozens of people executed on a single morning. There's no transparency about this and the -- There's two things, two points to make. One, we're opposed to the death penalty under any circumstances but we're especially worried in a situation where you have people who have been convicted after patently unfair trials. They have not had access to lawyers --
Jasim al-Azawi: I can predict, Joe, that this is going to be extremely long. Keep some of the ideas that you would like to list later on but let me engage Sabah al-Mukhtar who is just fresh right now from that Geneva conference held under the auspices of the United Nations. Give us a brief summary of what has been said vis-a-vis Iraq's human rights record and what Wijdan Mikhail, the Iraqi Human Rights Minister, said.
Sabah al-Mukhtar: Well the Minister presented a document -- a report to the UN General Council. The report said nothing about the accusations which had been levied against Iraq by the UN organization. It didn't address absolutely any of the obligations, any of the accusations. It was just talking general conversations about how things should be, what the law says, what the international obligations are. So the report contained absolutely nothing. The Minister brought with her a team. One of her team went on for quarter of an hour, boring the Council, talking about the previous regime rather than talking about the human rights situation. The countries have all commented negatively on the report including the United States of America which said to the Iraqi Minister that their elections should be one that allows people to stand for elections rather than excluding people. Everybody condemned the situation of executions and hanging. Everybody talked about the academics -- killing of 500 academics, 200 journalists, 24 judges, 150 lawyers in the country, the torture, the prison situations. All the countries that spoke there condemned the situation in Iraq.
Jasim al-Azawi: So in a nutshell, they have blasted Iraq's claim that they are making progress out of the water. I noticed Shatha in your response to me, you also harped on the Americans. I am the first to recognize -- and many people including Joe will recognize that the chaos and the pain and the killing that followed 2003, in one way or another, is because of the American invasion. But that is in the past and I'm sure as the Americans withdraw their forces their contribution to the violations of human rights will be diminished. But talk to me about the current level of human rights abuse in Iraq. The government is responsible for that, no matter how you cut it, al-Maliki and his government are responsible for that.
Shatha al-Obosi: They have the Human Rights Ministry as our guys say so the problems with the Minister -- the Ministry of Human Rights -- so they must -- don't announce any-any-any -- anything against human rights because the torture happened by the government in the prisons. Who can torture the people there? She cannot say this clearly in the media or in front of the international associations so this is the problem for this reason. We establish the Human Rights Commission and we want this commission to start before we leave this period of the Parliament but the government didn't allow us to do that because any -- any, you know, anything happen against the human rights, it will be announced for the international or the UN or any international association. This is the problem. They can for do a lot to protect people. The first right of the Iraqi citizen: The right of living in his house --
Jasim al-Azawi: Indeed that is an inalienable right that should be guaranteed by all constitutions and by all governments. Joe Stork --
Shatha al-Obosi: Yeah, yeah but I want to mention about executions. We want to delay the execution orders after the elections because I receive many claims from people that they take their speech, their -- and they sign them under the torture. So many of them are innocent. We are afraid if there is a few number of them are innocent so we must protect all of them and make another investigation with them to guarantee if they are innocent or not.
This morning at the Pentagon, the top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno held a press briefing. He was asked about the role for US troops after 2011 and he replied that "in order for us to have anybody in Iraq past 2011 we'll have to -- it will have to be requested by the government of Iraq. So until that happens, I see us being at what we -- what we'd usually have at a normal embassy, a military contingent that would help support Iraq." He was asked of the air issue -- Iraq has no forces ready to 'protect' their air space at present. The training of Iraqis for that has hit a hitch, but Odierno didn't state that and instead offered a 'we'll see when it rolls around' type take. He declared that "several factors" would determine a continued draw down (of "combat" forces only):
One is governmental formation. But it's not necessarily how long it takes to form the government. It's: "Is it happening in a peaceful manner? Do we think that the -- if there's a problem in forming the government, does it translate into violence?" So that'll be a big piece of this, whether it does or not. And right now, we're not sure. We think so far it will probably fo fairly smoothly, but we'll wait to see. I have contingency plans, and I've been -- I've briefed the chain of command this week that we could execute if we run into problems, if it goes the way we think, or if it just is a little bit different than the way we think. And we're prepared to execute those.
A member of the press made a complete idiot of themselves and that's really no surprise but let's point out here (without naming the idiot) that if you're going to charge that big attacks on government targets are down, you better damn well know the pattern. The pattern isn't for these attacks to place weekly or even monthly. If the pattern holds, an idiot should have to eat their words. In the meantime, we should all wonder about a reporter allegedly covering this topic who doesn't know the first thing about it.
Odierno was asked about the plans for the 2011 withdrawal. We'll note him word for word:
This is -- we haven't talked in specific terms yet about this, but it's very important to understand that there's a complex transition that's going to on in -- the end of 2010, beginning of 2011, as the military draws down, and how we transition resposibility over to the government of Iraq in some cases, to the embassy, in other cases to NGOs. So one thing we have to remember is the faster we draw down from 50,000 the faster we have to transition to the State Dept and these other organizations. So what we want to do is we want to do this very deliberately, because how we transition will go a lot into saying how well we do post-2011. So the way I see it is, I expect us to stay at 50,000 probably somewhere through the middle of 2011, and then we'll begin to draw down to zero. If we do it faster than that, then you've got to increase the money you give to the State Dept or the Embassy. You have to increase the -- you have to -- you have to speed up the transition. And what we worry about is if we do that too quickly we won't do it right. So we want to do that very deliberately and smoothly.
I'm going to repeat one more time that the Congress -- specifically the Armed Services Committee in the House and Senate -- has still not been provided with withdrawal details. For a withdrawal that's supposed to or supposedly to take place at the end of 2011, that's rather surprising. Why hasn't Congress seen the plan?
In a real democracy, we'd be asking that. But Congress can take comfort in the fact that this withdrawal plan that supposedly concludes in 22 months (begins much sooner, but concludes in 22) has also not been shared with the top US commander in Iraq. Odierno has apparently been as left in the dark as the Congress. Will Michele Flournoy offer more idiotic excuses, more 'I didn't know you hadn't been briefed' garbage? Will anyone press her or the Dept of Defense to be forthcoming about the withdrawal that's supposedly complete in 22 months?
Craig Whitlock (Washington Post) emphasizes that the "withdrawal of all combat forces" could be delayed. (And those acting shocked should be aware Barack gave these same reasons in 2007 when speaking to the New York Times -- in an article the idiot Tom Hayden praised while we were calling out Barack and going by the transcprit -- a transcript Tom would find days and days later. And then offer a muted objection to. If you're late to the party, grab a drink and refer to this Iraq snapshot and Third's article and the actual transcript of the interview -- a transcript Tom Hayden should have read before humiliating himself in public, then again Tom-Tom seems to enjoy public humiliation).
Questions of Iraqi elections were also raised in the press conference. Before we get there, Friday, US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill did as he did Wednesday but this time to the Foreign Press Center when he shot down the possibility that any political party would boycott elections:
Nadia Bilbassy: Thank you. Thank you, Ambassador. I'm sure you are tired by any questions about -- so many press availability you've done so far. It's Nadia Bilbassy with MBC Television. Very often, the Americans complain about interference from neighboring countries, mainly Iran and Syria, in Iraqi affairs. To what extent do you see an influence from both countries on this current election? And as you know, two prominent Sunni politicians have been disqualified from this election. Do you worry that ultimately, that will affect the Sunni votes in the representations in the Iraqi Government in the future?
Chris Hill: Well, first of all, we have expressed our concerns about interference in some of the processes, especially the issue, as I think General Odierno laid out and I have also mentioned -- the issue of Iran. That said, we believe we have a election mechanism that will indeed be free and fair. This has been -- involved a considerable amount of planning in addition to the Iraqi high commissioner -- high commission for the elections, we've had a very active and engaged UN operation in Baghdad. So we are confident that we will have an Iraqi election that will be for and about the Iraqi people. So we're pretty confident we've got a good mechanism and a proper election which will be all about Iraq and not about any foreign country. On the second issue, obviously, de-Ba'athification has been a tough issue to go through. We had, obviously, some concerns about the transparency and the way that this whole process would appear to the Iraqi people. The Iraqi authorities have dealt with this. Their courts have dealt with this. The Iraqi senior politicians have dealt with it. And we really look forward to a good election. I know there continues to be some discussion about this. I know it was a very emotional issue for many people. But we believe the de-Ba'athification problems are, for the most part, behind. And we look forward to them getting on with the election and having the voters make their decisions.
Saturday Waleed Ibrahim and Jack Kimball (Reuters) reported that the National Dialogue Front is boycotting the election and, in the words of Haider al-Mulla (party spokesperson), calling "for other poltiical parties to take the same stand as our front. The whole issue is not related to (the candidate ban), rather the unsuitable atmosphere of this election." Fang Yang (Xinhua) added: that the press release cited the remarks of Iranian influence on the elections made by Odierno and Hill as being among the reasons (". . we can't continue in a political process running by foreign agenda"). Yesterday Michael Jansen (Irish Times) reported on what followed in the wake of Saturday's announcement by the National Dialogue Front: "the National Council for Tribes of Iraq siad it would" withdraw from the elections. Oliver August (Times of London) explained, "International observers have significantly lowered their expectations for the poll in recent days. Few diplomats in Baghdad now talk about 'free and fair elections', since they clearly won't be. The new publicly stated goal is a 'credible election', but even that seems doubtful. Pressed to sketch out a best-case scenario, several diplomates talk of an election that, despite its flaws, is merely accepted by the people. This is far from the democracy once envisaged."
The UN Secretary-General's Special Representative in Iraq, Ad Melkert, tried to stamp a happy face on the process and declared, "Generally speaking, I should say that the elections are on track in terms of their technical preparation. Still, a lot needs to be done. Security remains a big challenge to all, to the Iraqis in the first place, but also to the international community." Martin Chulov (Guardian) offers this background, "The call for a boycott was made by Saleh al-Mutlaq, an MP who leads the National Dialogue Front, a leading Sunni party. It is part of a cross-sectarian Iraqiya electoral alliance, formed to contest the 7 March ballot. Al-Mutlaq was on a list of 511 individuals banned from standing in elections because of their connection to the old Baathist regime. The list has now been reduced to 145. Ahmed Chalabi, the former Pentagon favourite, has been aggressively defending the list as part of a new de-Baathification drive through a body called the Accountability and Justice Commission." Gulf News editorializes, "It is important for any election to be fair that all the rules of contest are defined well in advance. It is wrong that candidates have been banned a few weeks before the elections. They should have known years in advance that their previous records would not allow them to hold public office and their sympathisers and supporters would be able to find candidates to represent their views without breaking the law." Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) offered, ". . . Sunnis and many secularists in the Shiite community are so eager to overturn the dominance of the Shiite religious parties that have controlled Iraq's government for five years that it is unclear whether Mutlak's boycott call will have weight with many people." UAE's The National countered, "Not only does it threaten the legitimacy of the poll, but the last time Sunni parties boycotted the elections in 2005, it exacerbated a cycle of violence that almost drove the country into civil war. It is hard to fault the decision of the party's leader, Saleh al Mutlaq. He and hundreds of other banned politicians are the victims of blatant political manipulation. Regardless, they must be careful; there is more at stake than their own political careers." Leila Fadel (Washington Post) added, "Iraqi officials said Saturday that meetings with Mutlak and his group were ongoing. Mutlak could not be reached for comment. "
Today the Iraq Inquiry announced that the current Prime Minister of England, Gordon Brown, will offer testimony to the Inquiry on March 5th. Douglas Alexander (International Development Secretary) will also offer testimony. On March 8th, the Inquiry will hear from Bill Jefrey who was scheduled earlier but had to call off due to illness and David Miliband is also booked for that day. David Miliband is Foreign Secretary and, disclosure, he is also someone I know. When we cover David, I'll either call him out loudly (if needed) or just stick to what he says -- meaning we just quote the transcript and I offer no comment of my own. In addition, the March 9th snapshot will offer press reactions on Miliband. We usually don't have time for that but because I know David and may or may not be able to be impartial, I'm saying right now that the March 9th snapshot will offer a roundup of press criticques and reports of his testimony and presentation.
Last week Nouri al-Maliki was meeting with tribal leaders urging that they encourage their members not to sell their votes. Nizar Latif (UAE's National Newspaper) reports that many of the country's poor are preparing to do just that and quotes Ahmad Salam explaining, "Elections are a beautiful opportunity to get some money. There are lots of people willing to sell their votes, and lots of people who want to buy them." Duraid Al Baik (Gulf News) reports that UAE will be one of the 16 countries outside of Iraq at which voting will take place with others being in "Syria, Jordan, Iran, Australia, USA, Sweden, Egypt, Canada, Denmark, Lebanon, Turkey, UK, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. The stations will be open from March 5-7." For those who have forgotten or weren't paying attention, Nouri's first disenfranchisement target was the refugee population. And the party that's now boycotting? It was their members, their leaders who advocated for the refugee population. Possibly had the White House and the US press not been so quick to throw the towel in on that issue -- in a "Hurry up and get on with it!" attitude, then Nouri might have gotten another message. Instead, he's under the impression that he can get away with anything. (Those remembering the "hurry up" attitude might also remember that at that point, these elections were supposed to take place in January. Didn't happen. They might also realize that Nouri's term expired already, as has Parliament's.) As provincial elections approached in January 2008, Nouri was suddenly eager to deliver portable potable water (temporary measure) and then dropped the need to bring water in after the elections. Apparently convinced that he can trick Iraqi voters, he's got a new trick. Alsumaria TV reports that he's saying he will eliminate unemployment. He's been in power since 2006. Now he's worried about unemployment? Or maybe it's just that now he's worried about his own unemployment because he is wondering exactly what deal Chalabi set up for himself with Tehran?
On the elections, Amnesty International issued the following this morning:
As Iraq prepares to hold new parliamentary elections amid continuing controversy over the eligibility of many candidates, Amnesty International is appealing to the country's political leaders to ensure that both the election campaign and the vote on 7 March are conducted peacefully and fully conform with Iraq's obligations under international human rights law.
The elections must not be used as an excuse for further violence
Political leaders must demand that their supporters uphold the law and respect the rights of others, and help prevent the election being used to deepen the sectarian violence that has wracked the country in recent years. They must do all they can to ensure the safety and security of all Iraqis, without discrimination, and uphold their rights to freedom of expression, association and political participation in selecting those who will lead the country in the future.
Amnesty International is also calling on all political parties and their candidates to commit to protecting and promoting human rights in their election manifestoes and in practice, if and when they are elected to office, in full conformity with Iraq's obligations under international human rights law.
Those responsible for suicide bombings and other attacks against civilians must immediately end such attacks, many of which appear to constitute crimes against humanity -- crimes of the very gravest nature. Amnesty International condemns all attacks on civilians, utterly and unreservedly, and calls for their immediate cessation. There can be no justification whatever for such attacks.
The following human rights concerns must be addressed by all political parties, their candidates, supporters and others:
Safeguard civilians and their right to vote
The protection of civilians is paramount during elections if voters are to feel assured that they can exercise their right to vote without fear and intimidation.
Iraq's civilian population has borne the brunt of the continuing violence that has ravaged the country in recent years and the record from previous elections is grim. Dozens of civilians were killed in attacks before the last provincial elections on 31 January 2009. The last national parliamentary elections, held on 15 December 2005, saw dozens of civilians killed in attacks by Sunni armed groups and Shi'a militias in the weeks before and during polling.
Amnesty International appeals to all political party leaders and to all religious and community leaders and other persons of influence to speak out against further violence, bloodshed and human rights abuses. They must demand that all Iraqis are able to decide freely and without fear how to exercise their right to vote.
Protection of candidates and election workers
Candidates, party political activists and election workers are among those most likely to be targeted for kidnapping and killing in the run-up to the elections.
At least two candidates have already been killed. Soha 'Abdul-Jarallah, a candidate on the list of former prime minister Iyad 'Allawi, was gunned down as she left a relative's house in Mosul on 7 February 2010. Sa'ud al-'Issawi, a Sunni Arab and candidate for the Iraqi Unity Alliance (IUA), was killed with his two bodyguards at the end of December 2009 in Falluja by a magnetic bomb attached to their vehicle.
Safa 'Abd al-Amir al-Khafaji, the head teacher of a girls' school in Baghdad's al-Ghadi district was shot and seriously wounded by unidentified gunmen on 12 November 2009 soon after she announced that she would contest the elections as a candidate for the Iraqi Communist Party.
'Ali Mahmoud, a staff member of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), the body responsible for overseeing the elections, was shot dead outside his house in al-Jadiriya district in Baghdad on 17 December 2009.
Nine candidates were killed at the time of the last provincial elections and, at Mandali in Diyala governorate, two election workers were abducted and found shot dead only hours later. Several candidates were killed during the 15 December 2005 poll. For example, Mizhar al-Dulaimi, the leader of the Free Progressive Iraqi Party, was shot dead while campaigning in the centre of Ramadi on 13 December.
Amnesty International calls on the present government, the IHEC and all political party leaders to make every effort to ensure that candidates and elections workers are allowed to go about their legitimate activities freely and without fear or restraint, and are promptly provided with adequate protection whenever appropriate.
Reporting the election: safeguarding journalists
In recent years, Iraq has been one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, many of whom have been targeted for abduction, assassination or other abuses. In 2008, at least 16 journalists and media workers were reported to have been killed; in 2009, at least four were killed.
During the provincial elections of 2009 journalists were subject to harassment, arrest and assault while covering the elections, including by Iraqi security forces and the US military. Some were arrested and held for hours; others were reported to have been prevented from entering polling stations -- for example, in Falluja and in al-Hilla -- although they had been officially accredited by the IHEC. In Mosul, Iraqi soldiers reportedly fired on journalists' vehicles.
Before and after the July 2009 elections for the Kurdistan regional parliament, several journalists were assaulted, including Nebaz Goran, editor of Jihan, an independent magazine, who was attacked by three unidentified men outside his office in Erbil.
Preventing journalists from reporting on elections inevitably increases the risk of election fraud and rigged voting and deprives the public of information to which they have a right to know.
Amnesty International urges all Iraqi political leaders to uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: ("Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information"), and to uphold the right of all journalists legitimately to exercise their profession without hindrance and fear of harassment.
Commitment to protect and promote human rights
All political parties and their candidates must recognize that respect for human rights and international law is a fundamental obligation. They must commit to building peace, tolerance and respect for human rights if elected, including upholding the rule of law by committing to ending arbitrary detentions, torture and other ill-treatment, unfair trials, the use of the death penalty and impunity for those responsible for human rights violations.
They must also ensure that Iraqi legislation is made fully compatible with international human rights law, including legislation relating to women's rights, and is enforced in practice in accordance with Iraq's obligations under international law.
Political parties, candidates and all others with influence, including religious and community leaders, must speak out about the need to protect and safeguard the rights of those most vulnerable. This includes women, who remain subject to legal and other discrimination and violence, and others who are subject to persecution because of their religious, ethnic or sexual identity.
In Mosul, for example, at least 14 members of the Christian minority have been killed in targeted attacks since early December 2009 as political tensions rise further ahead of the 7 March poll. A spate of recent bomb attacks by armed groups appear to have been deliberately targeted in an attempt to fuel the sectarian divide and further violence between Sunni and Shi'a Muslims.
Amnesty International urges that all Iraqis, including members of ethnic and religious minority groups, must be free to cast their votes without any pressure or intimidation.
Women play a transformative role in building and supporting a non-sectarian society. To counter threats to women in conflict-affected situations, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 urging states to ensure increased participation of women in conflict resolution and peace-building processes, as well as development and reconstruction.
Ending abuses by armed groups
Amnesty International demands that all armed groups immediately cease and desist from carrying out attacks on civilians. Many of these attacks constitute crimes against humanity, crimes of the gravest magnitude under international law. Such crimes cannot be justified under any circumstances. Those responsible must be brought to justice.
Thousands of civilians, including women, children and members of religious and ethnic minority groups, have been killed as a result of suicide and other attacks carried out by armed groups. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of civilians have also been abducted, tortured and killed by armed groups.
Many bombings and other attacks on civilians have been carried out by al-Qa'ida in Iraq and its allies among Sunni armed groups. Other attacks and abuses have been committed by armed militias, some of which are linked to Shi'a political parties represented in the current government and parliament. Amnesty International continues to call for these armed militias to be disbanded.
All attacks on civilians must cease forthwith. The Iraqi people must be allowed to live their lives in peace and security and be allowed to enjoy and exercise their human rights freely and without fear.
Amnesty International urges all political leaders and activists, and all religious, community, business and other leaders and people of influence in Iraq to speak out and commit to the achievement of this objective.
One political party that remains in the elections (at least so far) is the Ahrar Party and today they issued the following statement:
Ahrar security plan tackles voters' number one concern
In a poll of voters across Iraq، security was cited as the number one issue that voters wanted dealt with.
Ahrar has polled the views of 1000 voters in the past week about the elections and life in Iraq under the current government.
"This poll confirms that voters are worried about security in Iraq and they want a new government to tackle it," said Ahrar Party leader Ayad Jamal Aldin.
"That is why Ahrar has written a detailed plan to make Iraq more secure."
Whilst some politicians just talk about our problems, Ayad Jamal Aldin and Ahrar have produced a practical plan to restore one, secure and united Iraq.
The Plan will see more resources devoted to protecting Iraq's borders, reducing foreign influences, strengthening our army and police and taking a stand against the corruption that saps our nation's energy and security.
It is specific and practical with concrete steps to take to change Iraq for the better.
For further information, contact:
Ahrar Media Bureau
Tel: +964 (0)790 157 4478 / +964 (0)790 157 4479 / +964 (0)771 275 2942
About Ayad Jamal Aldin:
Ayad Jamal Aldin is a cleric, best known for his consistent campaigning for a new, secular Iraq. He first rose to prominence at the Nasiriyah conference in March 2003, shortly before the fall of Saddam, where he called for a state free of religion, the turban and other theological symbols. In 2005, he was elected as one of the 25 MPs on the Iraqi National List, but withdrew in 2009 after becoming disenchanted with Iyad Allawi's overtures to Iran. He wants complete independence from Iranian interference in Iraq. He now leads the Ahrar party for the 2010 election to the Council of Representatives, to clean up corruption and create a strong, secure and liberated Iraq for the future.
Violence continued today in Iraq.
Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing which injured two police officers, a Ramadi suicide car bombing which claimed the life of the bomber and the lives of 3 other people (with seven police officers injured), a rocket or mortar attack on the Green Zone which injured five people,
Reuters notes 1 police officer shot dead in Baghdad, 1 police officer shot dead in Kirkuk, a Baghdad attack in which 8 family members were shot dead, 2 police officers shot dead in Mosul, 2 "military personnel working in the Iraqi Defence Ministry" shot dead in Baghdad, Thamer Kamel was shot in Baghdad, a Baghdad shooting left 1 police officer and 1 Interior Ministry employee wounded and, dropping back to yesterday, 1 woman and her 3 daughters shot dead in Baghdad. On the 8 family members killed, BBC Radio is reporting that this was a home invasion and some of the 8 were beheaded. BBC News notes that the family "were reportedly Shia Muslims living in a majority Sunni area just outside the capital". Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) reports, "Neighbors found six children and their parents dead in their home in the rural town of Wehda, near Medayeen, which witnessed some of the first of the sectarian violence back in 2005. Police attributed the killings to a tribal dispute over money."
Reuters notes 1 corpse discovered in Kirkuk.
Marc Santora (New York Times) observes that the events are "intenstifying concern about a spike in violence with less than two weeks until national elections."
Sunday the US military announced: "CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq – Two U.S. Army helicopter pilots were killed as a result of an accident near an airfield on a U.S. base in northern Iraq, Feb. 21. The aircraft made a hard landing inside the base. There were no enemy forces present and no hostile fire was reported. The accident is under investigation and release of the Soldiers' identities are being withheld pending notification of the next of kin. The name of the deceased Soldiers will be announced through the U.S. Department of Defense Official Web site at http://www.defenselink.mil/. The Task Force Marne command team mourns the loss of these two aviators and extends its deepest sympathies and condolences to their Families."
In the US Gerry Condon will speak this Wednesday at the Southern Oregon University Commuter Resource Center in Ashland about war resistance and movement building beginning at 7:00 pm (Stevenson Union, room 202). He will also have a video presentation of War Resisters telling their stories. This event is free and open to the public.
Radio, radio, as Elvis Costello once sang. Lila Giggles? Elaine will take her on this evening. In other radio news, Chris Hedges is a guest on this week's Law & Disorder and Mike'll cover that tonight. Cindy Sheehan Soapbox is the radio program Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan does and her guest this week is John Pilger. They discuss many topics including Brand Obama and his war machine. In addition, Pilger offers that there was more than one gunman at the RFK assassination. Next week, Cindy interviews FBI whistle blower Colleen Rowley, FYI. (Hugo Chavez is her guest March 14th.)
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