Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Diyala slammed by bombings

Today suicide bombers target Baquba in Diyala Province. Marc Santora (New York Times) reports, "The attacks began with two car bombings targeting government buildings, followed by an attack on a local hospital where victims from the earlier explosions were being treated." Press TV describes the city as "bathed in blood after a third explosion struck a hospital swarming with casualties from two car bombs". NPR's Mark Memmott has posted an audio report by NPR's Quil Lawrence and we'll note Lawrence on the third bomber, "In what has become a familiar pattern a third attacker dressed as a police man entered the hospital where emergency workers had carried the wounded and detonated a suicide vest in the middle of the crowded ward." Hilmi Kamal, Alistair Lyon and Michael Christie (Reuters) add, "The bomber had tried to target the provincial police chief, who had been visiting the hospital, but security guards stopped him. Many people were killed or wounded. More chaos erupted as the police chief's bodyguards shot randomly in the air." Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) offers, "Baquba, a mixed Sunni and Shiite Muslim city, is the provincial capital of Diyala and lies about 40 miles (64 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad. The blasts were the deadliest to hit Iraq since Feb. 5 when at least 40 Shiite pilgrims were killed on the last day of a religious festival near Karbala, south of Baghdad."

Meanwhile Nebraska's Journal Star editorializes, "For some Americans, concern over the future of Iraq has been reduced to one question: When will U.S. troops come home? The national election in Iraq in four days could affect the answer to that question. The issue hits close to home, with 1,300 Nebraska National Guard members slated for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan this year." Early voting begins March 5th, voting ends Sunday March 7th. Hannah Fairfield (New York Times) offers a look at some of the parties and candidates, Al Jazeera offers a series of basic points about the elections in Q&A form, while BBC News offers three videos of Iraqis speaking about changes in Iraq. The Ahrar Party is one of the parties vying for votes in the election and they note:

UN Goodwill Ambassador backs The Ahrar Plan to regenerate Iraq

In a live interview with the Al Sharqiya news channel last night, leading Ahrar Party candidate, Dr. Mufada Mustafa Kamal - Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations through the Iimsam Organisation - expressed dismay at the news Iraqi Defence Minister Mr. Abdul Qadar was using government assets, including state helicopters, to distribute campaign paraphernalia.

"This abuse of power is obviously illegal. All political parties should be using private resources. How are we supposed to be able to compete with that?"

"This behaviour is typical of our corrupt and dysfunctional government. Only Ahrar Party has The Plan to establish proper, professional and effective public servants - who serve all Iraqis and not just themselves."

Ahrar has the plans to bring about this change, but only the voters have the power to make it happen. They alone can force the change that Iraq so urgently needs, as they alone will be in the voting booth on March 7. Vote for change - vote for Ahrar 374.

For further information, contact:

Ahrar Media Bureau
Tel: +964 (0)790 157 4478 / +964 (0)790 157 4479 / +964 (0)771 275 2942

Kyle e-mailed wondering about Ahrar and why they get noted so often? They get noted because they regularly send press releases to the public e-mail account. If State of Law had been e-mailing press releases, they would have been noted as well. I would have still called out Little Nouri but they could have had their say if they wanted.

Nouri al-Maliki is the current prime minister in Iraq. With rumors of his unpopularity (and more than rumors) as well as rumors that Ahmed Chalabi has tricked him and set up a deal to be crowned the next prime minister, a number of articles are appearing contemplating what the future might hold for Nouri. Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) states, " And that's how Maliki could fail, even if his political slate succeeds in winning more seats than any other. Opinion polls here are notoriously unreliable, but they tend to back up the conclusion of last year's provincial elections that Maliki is still more popular than any other politician in Iraq, with most of his support among the Shiite majority. He is widely credited with the security gains that have brought a measure of normalcy to much of the country after the vicious sectarian war between Shiite and Sunni Arabs triggered by the 2006 election."

Let's unpack that.

*And that's how Maliki could fail, even if his political slate succeeds in winning more seats than any other. Opinion polls here are notoriously unreliable, but they tend to back up the conclusion of last year's provincial elections that Maliki is still more popular than any other politician in Iraq, with most of his support among the Shiite majority.

The prime minister is not elected by the people. Nouri's not popular. But if he were that really doesn't matter. The prime minister is elected by the Parliament. That's where the popularity would matter. Nouri's cabinet problems were the first indication that Nouri wasn't popular where it matters and that drops back to 2006. As the current prime minister, he has name recognition. He does not -- as polls demonstrate, including last week's poll -- which apparently only Michael Hastings bothered to report on or notice -- demonstrated.

*He is widely credited with the security gains that have brought a measure of normalcy to much of the country after the vicious sectarian war between Shiite and Sunni Arabs triggered by the 2006 election.

Now that would be laughable yesterday. Forget today's violence, it would have been laughable if it appeared yesterday. October 25th brought Bloody Sunday to Iraq's calendar, December 8th brought Bloody Tuesday, August 19th brought Bloody Wednesday and January 25th was Bloody Monday. Already some outlets are running with "Black" or "Bloody" Wednesday for today -- not apparently realizing it's already taken. ("Black Wednesday" and "Bloody Wednesday" have actually been used for Iraq by the press as far back as 2007.)

The bombings (and those are only the spectacular ones) made clear that Nouri didn't provide 'security gains.' Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) reports that Ayad Allawi is launching a broadside at Nouri:

Mr Allawi, who was the American-backed interim prime minister after the fall of Saddam Hussein and is once again a leading candidate, said he would boycott parliament if he felt the election was fixed.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, he upped a war of words over the recent banning and arrests of opposition candidates and supporters, saying the present prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, was beginning to assert his authority "just as Saddam Hussein did".

Layla Anwar (An Arab Woman Blues) offers her take on the elections:

So let's see how this democratic process is unfolding shall we ?
Kurds are at Arabs throats in Nineveh province, where a joint US/Kurdish/Iraqi Forces is patrolling the area...
Clownish candidates are continuing their comic show with distributing i.e buying votes, either with cash, guns, sports shoes and carton of eggs...hahahahaha
A few revelations, not rumors I promise you.
One candidate from INA (the Iranian National Alliance) presented himself as a Doctor...
Upon investigation, this Doctor from Mayssan Province, turned out to have never finished university. He did a teacher's training course for elementary classes. And his exams results were shown on TV, he failed miserably in all subjects except PE. i.e Physical Education.
Another candidate spent 450'000 Dollars printing posters of his ugly face in Beirut, and shipping them to Baghdad in cartons.
The above two are just small examples of the kind of specimens that are ruling Iraq...

Middle East Online reports on Nejm Eddine Karim who is a Kurd running in Kirkuk and who states, "I propose that an Arab becomes vice president of Kurdistan and a Turkmen is made prime minister, if we succeed in making Kirkuk part of Kurdistan." Karim is closely connected to Kurdistan despite living in the US until very recently -- whenever Jalal Talabani's bad eating lands him in health trouble and sends him scurrying to the US, he usually sees Karim. Mohammed A. Salih (IPS) reports on the KRG and doesn't see indications that the Kurds will be united after the elections thereby guaranteeing a powerful Kurdish bloc in the Parliament. How true or false that is, no one knows. It's a guess, like any other these days. It's also a guess that depends heavily on what right-wingers see (check out Salih's quoted US sources).

In Iraq, Seth Robbins (Stars and Stripes) reports, "As Sunday's national election approaches, the atmosphere has become more tense in Anbar, once a stronghold of the insurgency but more recently a relatively peaceful province. A string of deadly bombings, one of which severely injured the provincial governor, has been blamed on rival camps left out of the government and its lucrative American contracts or on al-Qaida in Iraq, which may be seeking to renew the insurgency as American troops prepare to withdraw."

A visitor e-mailed a Wall St. Journal column on Iraq. I'm not interested in even linking to it, sorry. As a general rule, be very wary of anyone at Johns Hopkins who talks about the Iraq War. It's forgotten now in the 'fog,' but they were among the most notorious boosters of the illegal war and they repeatedly made claims that did not stand up. They, no doubt, wish PBS' NewsHour archive would just vanish before anyone really catches on to how important they were in the selling of the illegal war. Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) has a long article we're not interested in this morning due to so many other things including the violence in Baquba. But we'll give it a link and note the author -- in contrast to the nonsense run by the Wall St. Journal.

Iraq Veterans Against the War are calling for support and action for Marc Hall:

March 1, 2010 Update - Army Spc Marc Hall, who had been jailed in Georgia county jails since December 12, 2009 for producing an angry hip-hop song about "stoploss" was placed on a military flight bound for Iraq Friday night. Marc flew out of Hunter Army Airfield, with a stop in Spain, before arriving in Balad, Iraq. He is expected to be transported to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait for continued pre-trial confinement. The Army has made it clear that Marc will face a General Courts Martial that could result in years in prison and a dishonorable discharge. Eleven violations of Article 132 are now being cited going into the Article 32 (pre-trial) hearing. While we had all hoped to be able to stop this 'extradition', hopefully this underscores the seriousness of the situation and will serve to "jump start" our efforts. We have a lot of work to do if we are going to free Marc.

Take action at:

Sign the letter to Marc's Commanding General
"Dear Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillip; I’m writing to request that the charges against SPC Marc A. Hall related to his recording of a hip-hop song critical of the Army’s “stop-loss” policy be dropped, and that he be allowed to leave the Army at the end of his current enlistment..." We will print it with your name and address, and mail it to the commanding general on your behalf.

Calling musicians and artists
We are asking musicians and artists to make public statements in support of Marc. We are also counting on folks to hold benefit gigs large and small in support Marc, free speech, and opposed to endless war and the military's stop-loss policy. More information coming.

Write to Marc in jail
We are currently trying to identify the correct address for Marc in Kuwait.

Donate online to Marc Hall's defense fund
We currently estimate that it will cost approximately $50,000 to cover Marc's defense, including legal fees due to travel and expenses related to traveling to Iraq. Progress updates will be posted here. Donations are tax-deductible. To make a donation by check or money order, make payable to "Courage to Resist" and mail to: Courage to Resist, 484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland CA 94610--please note "Marc Hall defense" on the check's memo line.


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