Friday, February 12, 2010

Iraq's 'elections'

Xiong Tong (Xinhua) reports campaigning is underway in Iraq . . . for those not banned in the witch hunt, of course. Jiang Yuxia adds, "The upcoming parliamentary election is crucial to Iraq's national reconciliation process after a peak of sectarian violence in 2006 and 2007 which left tens of thousands dead in the war-torn country." Yes and, as noted in Wednesday's snapshot, that slaughter followed the last parliamentary election in which . . . candidates campaigned via hatred -- a match lit and tossed on the oil fields. Marc Lynch (Foreign Policy) offers some insight into this week's developments:

The legitimacy of the electoral process and the independence of Iraqi institutions have been thrown into serious question among both Iraqis and the international community. Sunni-Shia resentments have been rekindled, with such polarization evidently being seen as a winning electoral strategy in certain quarters. Sunni participation may well be depressed, though a full-out boycott is unlikely. The damage is likely to me measured in increments, not in a single apocalyptic collapse.

Layla Anwar (An Arab Woman Blues) offers this view:

As expected and as mentioned in the lines below, the latest news state that Salih Al-Mutlag of the Iraqiiya Alliance has been banned from participating in the elections. I really hope he gets out of Iraq before being murdered.

He and Dhafir Al-Aini both Sunnis have been barred from the elections on charges of Baathism.

That is most strange really because Al Mutlaq left the Baath party back in the 70's. And Iyad Alllawi, a secular Shiite who served as PM during Bremer's time and who is also running on the Iraqiiya list was also a Baathist in the 70's and left the party. How come he was allowed to stay ?

Furthermore, Salih Al-Mutlag ran for the first round of elections in 2005, and ran in the provincial elections. I even remember in 2005, someone approached me and asked me to vote for his list. Of course, I refused to vote for anyone since I do not believe in the electoral process under US/Iranian occupation.

I really believe that the Arab Sunnis and secular forces of Iraq are really in a tight spot now, in particular the Sunnis. If they don't participate in the elections, the sectarian Shiite parties of Iran will have it all for themselves along with the Kurds and this is exactly what is asked for and wanted.

Some say that this may trigger another round of serious sectarian violence and I say this is exactly what is also aimed at because only then can the Americans stay on a little longer and the full partition plan of Iraq into 3 statelets can be turned into an official reality.

BBC News notes, "As posters appeared across Iraq for Friday's start, the fate of more than 170 candidates is still undecided." Will anyone vote? Mohammed Abbas and Samia Nakhoul (Reuters) report that "[. . .] Iraqis living with only a few hours of power a day amid mounds of rubbish and pools of sewage are wondering whether to bother voting in a March election." Reuters also offers a look at some of the political parties vying for votes. Earlier this week, Sam Dagher (New York Times) blogged on the KRG gearing up for elections. Also zooming in on that region is "Iraq's dangerous trigger line, Too late to keep the peace?" (The Economist):

FROM the market town of Khanaqin, on the Iranian border, all the way to Sinjar, near the border with Syria, a fortified line snakes across northern Iraq. To the east and north stand Kurdish forces, known as the Peshmerga, keen to reclaim land taken from them by Saddam Hussein more than two decades ago. On the other side of the line, to the west and south, are Iraqi regular-army troops sent by the central government in Baghdad to stop ancient cities along the Tigris river falling into what it fears may become a purely Kurdish sphere.
The two forces have come close to flat-out fighting several times, usually outside the cities where commanders act off their own bat. Last year an Iraqi army unit drove into the disputed, though mainly Kurdish, town of Altun Kupri and took up sniper positions on rooftops. When residents, supported by armed Peshmerga, started demonstrating against their presence, the Arab soldiers were told to shoot to kill. Bloodshed was avoided at the last minute by American troops stationed nearby.

TV notes. NOW on PBS begins airing Friday on most PBS stations (check local listings):
Even with the recent outpouring of support for earthquake victims in
Haiti, Americans' attention span for global crises is usually very
short. But is there a way to keep American audiences from tuning out
important global issues of violence, poverty, and catastrophe far beyond
their backyards? On Friday, February 12 at 8:30 pm (check local
listings), NOW talks with filmmaker Eric Metzgar about "Reporter," his
documentary about the international reporting trips of New York Times
columnist Nicholas Kristof. In the film, Metzgar provides fascinating
insight into how Kristof breaks through and gets us to think deeply
about people and issues half a world away.

Staying with TV notes, Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen are Dan Balz (Washington Post), Naftali Bendavid (Wall St. Journal), Janet Hook (Los Angeles Times) and David Sanger (New York Times). Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Melinda Henneberger, Eleanor Holmes Norton and Genevieve Wood to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes:

Nowhere in the world can such a concentration of power be found than at the World Economic Forum's meeting in Davos, Switzerland, where the world's most powerful and influential people gather yearly to try to solve the world's most pressing problems. Scott Pelley reports.

Made In The USA
Could crucial parts of the equipment Iran is using in its uranium enrichment facility have come from the U.S.? American law enforcement authorities say sensitive devices and electronics that could be used in weapons of mass destruction are being smuggled into Iran. Lesley Stahl reports. | Watch Video

Pigeon Fever
It's been just over a year since Bernard Madoff's multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme fell apart. But, as Morley Safer reports, despite all the news about the Madoff scandal, similar Ponzi scams are still thriving. | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Radio notes, The Diane Rehm Show begins airing live at 10:00 a.m. EST on most NPR stations and streaming live online. For the first hour (domestic hour), Diane's guests are Ron Elving (NPR), Christopher Rowland (Boston Globe) and Lynn Sweet (Chicago Sun-Times). The second hour is the international news round up and Diane's panelists will be Nadia Bilbassy (Middle East Broadcast Centre), David Ignatius (Washington Post), Martin Walker (UPI). Remember that the show is archived online (you can listen for free) and you can also subscribe to the podcast.


And we'll go out with this from Jonathan Katz' "Why ending the occupation of Iraq will take more than Obama's Promises" (The Mac Weekly):

I don't believe Obama when he says we'll be done occupying Iraq and killing and being killed there by 2011 because that's not what we do. He'll withdraw some of the "combat troops" and "re-mission" the rest as "non-combat troops" (these operations include the physical protection "Americans and U.S. assets in Iraq" and "counterterrorism operations in which Iraqi forces would take the lead." That's all to say, they will still be killing and being killed.) We'll get a "lease" from the Iraqi government on some nice plots of land situated between some oil fields, kick up our feet, and have our "non-combat" frogs, our Blackwater toads, and our intelligence snakes go right on violently occupying foreign populations.

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