Monday, March 1, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the elections approach, Nouri al-Maliki gets caught 'gifting' but swears it is no bribe, Christians stage demonstrations throughout Iraq in response to the persecution, Ahmed Chalabi proves strangely touchy and explosive when his boypal Ali al-Lami's name is raised, and more.
On the latest installment of Inside Iraq (Al Jazeera), which began airing Friday, Jasim al-Azawi spoke with one-time CIA asset Ahmed Chalabi who is also a convicted felon in Jordan, a very close and personal friend of boypal Ali al-Lani and, it turns out, a non-stop, yelling and shouting diva.
Jasim al-Azawi: And now I'm delighted to welcome from Baghdad, Ahmed Chalabi, chairman of the Accountability and Justice Commission and a candidate of the Iraqi National Alliance for Parliament. Ahmed Chalabi, welcome to Inside Iraq. And let me start from the beginning and that is Prime Minister [Nouri] al-Malliki has decided to rescind a recent act issued by your commission. Lately you have submitted a list of 376 members of the army, the police and the intelligence. They are supposed to be Ba'athists and you are going to remove them. al-Maliki is saying, "Stop it, Ahmed Chalabi. You have no idea the damage you are cuasing."
Ahmed Chalabi: The prime minister has no authority on his own to exempt anyone from the decisions of the Justice and Accountability Commission. Article 12 of Law Number 10 from 2008 specifies that the Council of Ministers has the authority to request exemption for anybody who is uh subject to the Justice and Accountability law provided he gets the approval of the Parliament.
Jasim al-Azawi: What makes you think that he cannot get the ministers to sanction his authority and more significantly --
Ahmed Chalabi: He may get the ministers to sanction his authority but he needs to get Parliament to approve what he does.
Jasim al-Azawi: Well since you mentioned Parliament, in that case let me turn the table on you. Parliament has never sanctioned your commission -- the Justice and Accountability -- that bill never went to Parliament and more importantly you and your executive director Mr. Ali al-Lami were never appointed by Parliament so on what authority you are expunging people and banning people?
Ahmed Chalabi: On the authority of Law Number 10, Justice and Accountability Law of 2008. This argument has been settled by the uh Appeals Commission of the uhm uh Justice and Accountability that was appointed by Parliament a few weeks ago. In their ruling on the case of Mr. Saleh al-Mutlaq, they said that the Justice and Accountability Commission is valid and is active and is authorized by the law --
Jasim al-Azawi: Ahmed Chalabi, you know very well, you know very well,
Ahmed Chalabi: -- so therefore this argument does not hold water anymore because the highest court in Iraq has approved the legality of the current commission.
Jasim al-Azawi: Ahmed Chalabi, that is -- that is absolutely not right, not true. Parliament has --
Ahmed Chalabi: How do you know that!
Jasim al-Azawi: Because --
Ahmed Chalabi: I read you -- I read you the statement!
Jasim al-Azawi: Before you read me that statement, Parliament has never voted on the Accountability and Justice Commission --
Ahmed Chalabi: I will tell you! I will read the statement!
Jasim al-Azawi: -- and --
Ahmed Chalabi: I will readyyou the statement! It doesn't matter what you say. It's just an argument to detract from the legality of the commission. It says here that the law, Law Number 10 will only specify that they rename the de-Ba'athification Comission into the Justice and Accountability Commission -- rename. Therefore, this commission is working according to the law and has the legality for the reasons specified above.' That's the decision of the court.
Jasim al-Azawi: At any rate, we don't want to get into the legal aspect, we will let the viewers to judge -- We will let the viewers and the Iraqis --
Ahmed Chalibi: It's not the viewers! It's the Iraqi court!
[too much cross talk and too much shouting by Ahmed]
Jasim al-Azawi: -- by Parliament, but the federal government has not given it's final verdict yet.
[too much cross talk and too much shouting by Ahmed, we'll skip ahead]
Jasim al-Azawi: Fine. Let us go to the second gentleman in this commission. I am talking to you but there is somebody behind you, your executive director, Mr. Ali al-Lami. Just for the viewers to know who Mr. al-Lami is, correct me if the statement and the story I'm going to tell is wrong. This gentleman was released by US forces back in August of 2009 [Ahmed giggles -- giggles is the term, watch and see] under the charges of terrorism. He was --
Ahmed Chalabi: [Waving finger] No charges!
Jasim al-Azawi: He was -- he was released from prison --
Ahmed Chalabi: No charges!
Jasim al-Azawi: I will come to the story completely, but now let's just say, now he finds --
Ahmed Chalabi: He was kidnapped!
Jasim al-Azawi: He was captured by the Americans because they think --
Ahmed Chalabi: He was kidnapped!
Jasim al-Azawi: Hold on --
Ahmed Chalabi: By contractors at the airpot.
Jasim al-Azawi: Hold on, Mr. Chalabi. He was -- he was not charged directly --
Ahmed Chalabi: He was not charged.
Jasim al-Azawi: I am the first one to say that. Mr. Odierno --
Ahmed Chalabi: He was not charged!
Jasim al-Azawi: I said that. I said that. Let me finish the story. He was believed to be the mastermind of a terrorist act that happened in al-Sadr City where American forces and civilian administrations along with Iraqi officials, they were meeting with some council members in Sadr City the American officials they were on the way out there was an IED and there was an explosion and many people killed. Odierno believes that Mr. al-Lami is directly responsible for that.
Ahmed Chalabi: This is patent nonsense. There is no charge. They have no evidence. And it is based on an intelligence report of one unreliable informer for the American tactical units in the area. They -- Mr. Lami was not arrested. He was kidnapped at the airport by US contractors, taken to a US prison, put under pressure and almost tortured for 38 days and they could get nothing from him on this issue. They have no evidence. He stayed 351 days in jail. And the Iraqi government has no case, n-n-n-n-n-o authority, no legal entity and no intelligence entity of the Iraqi government, there is any charge against Mr. Ali --- Ali al-Lami. And the US has not charged him and he was released without charges. Therefore, legally, he was kidnapped. And as for this issue of the uh-buh-uh-uh people who were killed by-by the IED, he had nothing to do with it. I am certain he had nothing to do with it. And this charge has not been proven.
For those who cannot stream or would not benefit from streaming, Ahmed Chalabi has a a wide grin on his face when Jasim al-Azawi is saying, "He was believed to be the mastermind of a terrorist act that happened in al-Sadr City where American forces and civilian administrations along with Iraqi officials, they were meeting with some council members in Sadr City the American officials they were on the way out there was an IED and there was an explosion and many people killed. Odierno believes that Mr. al-Lami is directly responsible for that." He finds that very humerous for some reason. Others will find it humor in Chalabi whining that "it is based on an intelligence report of one unreliable informer" -- Chalabi, the original unreliable informer.
Over the weekend, Ernesto Londono and Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported on Chalabi and noted his tarring people as "Ba'athists" "is reprising a role he played after the U.S.-led invasion -- which many critics believe he helped facilitate with faulty intelligence -- and, in the process, is infuriating American officials and some Iraqis, who suspect his motive is to bolster his own political bloc." While Hannah Allam (Miami Herald) reported, "Cheeky opponents of Ahmad Chalabi, the onetime U.S. ally and perennially controversial Shiite Muslim politician, are sending out e-mails of a faux poster with Chalabi's face superimposed on an ad for the classic 1940 film, 'The Thief of Baghdad'." Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) observes, "As chief architect of the move to disqualify hundreds of candidates accused of ties to the outlawed Baath Party, Chalabi has defined the agenda for the upcoming Iraqi national elections. In doing so, he has thwarted five years of U.S. policy in Iraq aimed at reconciling the Sunni and Shiite Mulsim sects and gotten his revenge against America for dumping him as its favorite back in 2004."
Chalabi is only one candidate in the elections. Another is Ayad Jamal Aldin of the Ahrar Party and they issued the following today:
At the start of a week that has been dominated by news of the continuing and expanding 'de-Baathification' programme, Ahrar 374 Leader Ayad Jamal Aldin noted that the issue continues to distract voters' attention from the Maliki government's failure to deliver on jobs, public services and security. He urged voters to send the government a message and participate in Sunday's election.
De-Baathification is intensifying. Over the past five days, professors at the University of Karbala and Iraq's Southern Oil Company have been targeted. The level of fear-mongering has reached such a fever pitch that large numbers of highly competent professionals that Iraq desperately needs to run government and industry, are afraid for their lives and livelihoods. Just yesterday, it emerged that that violence had surged by 80 percent last month, when compared to January.
Ayad Jamal Aldin - leader of Ahrar 374 - said today, "It is clear what is happening here; the government is attempting to bully the people away from the ballot box. We should not accept it. Where we see these bullying tactics, we must see them for what they really are: an attempt to divert the Iraqi people's focus from the government's chronic failure to deliver jobs, running water and real security."
"The only answer can be to stand up to bullies. And this week, we have the best possible response to them - to take part in this election and vote for change."
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.
Another running in the elections in Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minsiter. Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) notes Nouri's many problems including that he "appears isolated, imperious and impetuous" He adds that Nouri "is neither a charismatic leader nor a polished campaigner" but he may be short changing Nouri on the latter. Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports that Saad al-Alusi, formerly of Iraq's National Intelligence Service, has accused Nouri of giving southern tribal leaders huge numbers of guns (apparently 10,000) in order to buy their votes. Chulov reports it as an accusation but it's reality and that's confirmed in his own story. Nouri's mouthpiece Ali al-Dabbagh insists that, yes, the guns were given, but it was long planned for them to be given so this wasn't a bribe and had nothing to do with the elections. He's handing out the guns days before the election (and again, his own spokesperson confirms he is)? It's a bribe -- and it's not just Nouri. For example, an Iraqi tells War News Radio, "Many are doing this like the Iraqi National Alliance. They distributed blankets, clothes and even shoes. They distributed these in poor neighborhoods. I saw them doing it in front of me." Back to Nouri, Hannah Allam (Miami Herald) reported that Nouri's campaign posters are a popular target in Baghdad: "One of al-Maliki's campaign posters shows him standing shoulder to shoulder with the education minister. The men are wearing matching gray suits. The joke on the street: 'Which one's the groom?'" Of the candidates in general, Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers' Inside Iraq) observes:
Suddenly, our politicians talk only about the people suffering. They all talk about the lack of services, lack of electricity, the housing crisis, the unemployment crisis and the security issues. Suddenly, most of them who were gaining millions during the last four years started thinking about the financial situation of the poor families who never dreamed of earning even one million Iraqi Dinars ($850). Suddenly, many politicians started visting the rural areas and meeting the innocent poor who were begging for a visit by one of the officials to listen to them or to tell him about a sewage problem or lack of drinking water or the absence of any medical services.
On the most recent episode of Swarthmore College's War News Radio, Gabriel Ramierz spoke to Iraqis about what they're hoping for in the elections.
Saif Adnan, college student in Mosul: We hope the upcoming elections can change the bad conditions in Iraq but the problem is past elections have been one failure after another. This has a negative impact on people's view of the elections. In spite of this we hope that there will be good and fair elections that can take the country to a better level.
Kadeem Hussein, 24-year-old college graduate looking for work: I'd like to see more jobs provided and an improvement in security.
Today AFP interviews Iraq's National Security Adviser, Safa Hussein, who shares some post-election day concerns: "If it takes a long time, we will have some difficulties." If what takes a long time? Creating a new ruling government. Elections are held March 5th through 7th. Then the counting beings. Expect a minimum of one week before results are announced (and those probably won't be certified results). The elections are not to elect a prime minister, they are to elect members of Parliament. MPs -- members of Parliament -- will then elect a prime minister. This can be done quickly if one political party sweeps the elections or it can take awhile if one political party that sweeps has several people who want to be prime minister or if the results spread the votes out amongst many parties. If it's the latter, the MPs of various parties begin working on coalition sharing argreements. This is what concerns Safa Hussein who states, "I would begin to be concerned if it was not established by July." It? We're not even to it yet in the description. After a prime minister is agreed upon, the prime minister then needs to appoint a cabinet. That becomes the central government out of Baghdad. Nouri missed both his own announced deadline in 2006 for appointing a cabinet as well as the Constitutionally mandated deadline. And those wondering about July should remember that the Parliamentary elections were held in December 2005 and Nouri was announced prime minister in April 2006. Aseel Kami, Missy Ryan, Michael Christie and Myra MacDonald (Reuters) report that other candidates include Salama al-Khafahi and Masoun al-Damalouji -- among the women running for the Parliament and details how, despite being a country in which women became doctors as far back as the 1930s and they appointed their first woman governmental minister in the 1950s, post-invasion, Iraqi women are having to start over. Others will be a position of greater power, Jack Kimball, Shamal Aqrawi, Michael Christie and Matthew Jones (Reuters) report that, as in 2005, the Kurds are "expected to emerge as powerful kingmakers" since no party is expected to win a majority of the votes -- therefore no party would be able to select the prime minister by themselves without first forming some coalition sharing agreements. Michael Jansen (Irish Times) reports from the KRG and quotes a clerk named Muhammad stating that the PUK/KDP alliance has governened them since 1991: "Nineteen years is enough. We have only six hours of government electricity a day. We have to buy electricity from a private company with generators. Salaries are low. Mine is only $300 a month. Scools and hospitals are bad. There are no jobs. Although security is better here, we have the same problems as Arab Iraqis."
John Catalinotto (Workers World) offers his take on the elections:
The March 7 election -- should it take place as scheduled -- will be as much a farce as the one held in Afghanistan last summer. A complete client state, which was only able to take power with the force of the occupation behind it, is organizing the elections. It is organizing them in order to consolidate power for the groupings that support Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
These are parties that opposed the Ba'athist government led by Saddam Hussein. Al-Maliki signed the papers hurrying the execution of the Iraqi leader on Dec. 30, 2006. At that time Saddam Hussein was a symbol of struggle for a significant section of the Iraqi resistance to the U.S.-led occupation.
During the electoral campaign, al-Maliki's government outlawed the candidacy of 454 people who were running for national office, claiming that these individuals were too close to the Ba'ath Party. Some 171 of these candidates appealed the decision disqualifying them. In February a panel of judges appointed for the purpose rejected the appeals of all but 26 candidates.
Following this decision barring the most secular of the candidates, the Iraqi National Movement coalition led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi announced it would temporarily suspend its campaign and demanded that the bans be reversed. On Feb 21, one of the parties in this coalition, the mostly Sunni National Dialog Front, announced that it would boycott the election.
There is still a chance the election will fall apart. Even if the vote takes place, as in Afghanistan, it will be a fraud having nothing to do with democracy. U.S. troops -- even if they are not engaged in daily battles in Iraq -- still remain the final arbiters of Iraqi politics.
Saturday, Zenit reported, "In a letter sent to the Iraqi prime minster, the patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church accused the authorities of complicity with the perpetrators of the massacre of Mosul Christians. His Beatitude Ignace Joseph III Younan, 65, sent the letter on Wednesday to Nouri al-Maliki, decrying the murder of Christians in Mosul, northern Iraq." Nouri's announced a 'probe.' He announces that every time, doesn't he? Have his probes ever turned up anything? Nope. Not a thing. Again Iraqi-Christians are being persecuted in Mosul and again they're having to flee because no protection is provided for them. Zenit has published the letter sent by Archbishop Ignace Joseph III Younan, "We are astonished at the reasons given by government employees and from their failure we can deduce that there is complicity in the process of emptying the city of Christians, who have lived there for centuries. We raise our voices and ask: If the security forces in Iraq have not been able to protect the innocent and vulnerable, why in the name of God aren't weapons given to the innocent so that they can defend themselves instead of letting them be taken to the slaughter like sheep?"
It is in that climate that Iraqi Christians decided to forgo mass on Sunday and march. Spero News quoted Archbishop Georges Casmoussa stating, "The march will take place in Mosul and in a dozen Christian towns and villages of the surrounding territory. The community is shocked and wants to draw the attention of the authorities who so far have done nothing to stop this killing. The march has no political or electoral motives, only religious ones. The Christians want to stay in Iraq and live their faith in peace." But some have begun to flee for their lives. BBC notes, "The UN says more than 680 Christian families have fled Mosul since the recent attacks." New Zealand's Herald News states that's 4098 people. Marches took place yesterday in Mosul and Baghdad. Al Jazeera reports:
Holding olive branches and the national flag, demonstrators vented their anger on Sunday over the poor security afforded them in the wake of a series of killings.
Shouting slogans such as "stop the killing of Christians", hundreds of demonstrators called on authorities to guarantee their protection as they marched round al-Ferdus Square in central Baghdad.
Bishop Shlemon Warduni, the second most senior Chaldean bishop, also took part in the protest and called for more to be done to protect his community.
"The government has done nothing so far," he said, demanding that the United Nations, United States and European Union "defend the rights of Christians in Mosul".
Catholic Culture reports, "In Kirkuk, Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sake led another prayer rally, saying that Christians there would also be fasting" and quoted him stating, "It is shameful that in a city like Mosul, with a million people, no one has spoken out against the slaughter of Christians." The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) issued a [PDF format warning] four-page report entitled "Iraq Displacement in Mosul, Situation Report No. 1" which notes the 683 families who have fled Mosul between Feb. 20 and 27, and notes that 12 Iraqi Christians have been killed during this time period. (At least one other was wounded but survived a shooting.) The displaced have scattered but the largest number, 331 families, have settled for now in Qaraqosh.
Vatican Radio (link has text and audio) provided Pope Benedict XVI speaking Sunday at St. Peter's Square where he addressed the persecution in Mosul:
Pope Benedict XVI: I have learned with profound sadness of the tragic news of the recent killings of several Christians in the city of Mosul, and I follow with great concern other episodes of violence, perpetrated in the troubled land of Iraq against defenceless people of different religious affiliation. In these days of intense meditation, I often prayed for all victims of those attacks, and today I wish to join in the spirit to pray for peace and the restoration of security, promoted by the Council of Bishops of Nineveh. I am affectionately close to the Christian communities of the entire country. Never tire of being a leaven for good in the country in which you have fully belonged for centuries. In the delicate political phase that Iraq is going through I appeal to the civil authorities, to make every effort to restore security to the population and, in particular, the most vulnerable religious minorities. I hope the temptation is not given into temporary and partisan interests allowing them to prevail over the safety and fundamental rights of every citizen. Finally, while greeting the Iraqis here in the square, I urge the international community to strive to give the Iraqis a future of reconciliation and justice, as I invoke Almighty God with confidence for the precious gift of peace.
Nizar Latif (UAE's The National Newspaper) observes, "Promises from the government to hold an inquiry into the incident [specifically the slaughter of Aishwa Maroki and his two sons] have done little to soothe the anger felt by Iraq's Christians, who point out that the killers never seem to be brought to justice." Latif also notes, "Large numbers of Iraqi refugees in Syria and Jordan are Christians, Yezidis or Sabaeans. The United Nations in Syria lists more than 30,000 registered refugees from minority groups, most of whom fled from sectarian violence in Baghdad, Basra and Mosul." KRG President Barzani tells Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) of the persecution, "This also shows the incompetence of the local government in Mousl." Layla Anwar (An Arab Woman Blues) notes:
FACT is Iraq's Christians have never experienced this violence before Christian America occupied us. I have already written about that extensively, just google my blog and you will see for yourself...
FACT is that the targeting of Christians is a DELIBERATE policy by the sectarian Shiite puppet government installed by the USA in complicit agreement with the KURDS. And this is a continuation of the policy of ethnic cleansing leading to radical demographic changes. And that policy started with the ethnic and sectarian cleansing of Sunni ARABS.
Every God fearing Muslim must , should condemn the targeting and killing of Iraq's Christian community. I know that the Association of Muslim Scholars AMSI has already issued a statement of condemnation to that effect.
And just as true God fearing Christians stood by Iraq and her people, regardless of their religion and sect, it is incumbent upon every true God fearing Muslim to condemn LOUDLY the killing of Iraqi Christians.
But not only them, every other minority whether they are Yazidis, Sabaeans- Mandaeans, Turkmen or any other,.. their killing should be condemned and STOPPED by any means necessary.
All these communities are part of Iraq and Iraq is part of them since centuries...and by condemning this act, denouncing it and striving to STOP it, you are re-affirming the Mosaic of Iraq and its UNITY that no barbaric, godless occupation, be it American, Iranian or Israeli will manage to destroy.
In some of today's reported violence, Reuters notes 1 "member of the Kurdistan Islamic Group, a Kurdish election list," was shot dead outside his Tuz Khurmato home yesterday and that 4 Iraqi soldiers were wounded in a Mosul grenade attack yesterday.
Meanwhile the number of US service members who have died due to the Iraq War now stands at 4380. DoD issued the following late Friday: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Sgt. William C. Spencer, 40, of Tacoma, Wash., died Feb. 25 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, of wounds sustained Feb. 20 while supporting combat operations at Combat Outpost Marez, Iraq. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 146th Field Artillery Regiment, Olympia, Wash. For more information, media may contact the Washington National Guard public affairs office at 253-512-8481." The Washington Governor's office issued the following:
OLYMPIA -- Gov. Chris Gregoire today issued the following statement on the loss of Sergeant William Spencer of Tacoma, who died from non-combat related injuries while serving in Iraq:
"I stand with all Washingtonians today as we mourn the loss of Sergeant William Spencer. Sergeant Spencer was a proud member of the 81st -- and chose to stay in Iraq with the Mississippi Army National Guard when his unit came home. He is a true hero who sacrificed his life to protect our freedoms, and provide a better life for those living in the Middle East.
"I extend my deepest condolences to Sergeant Spencer's friends, family and loved ones. My family will certainly keep them in our thoughts and prayers."
The month ended yesterday. Tolls are being issued. Thus far, 5 US service members have been announced dead for the month of February (many months end with late announcements made the first week of the next month). The Iraqi death toll? First, we'll recount the dead and wounded via Third Estate Sunday Review. From Third Feb. 7, 2010: "Sunday 2 people were reported dead and 14 wounded; Monday 57 were reported dead and 126 wounded; Tuesday 3 were reported dead and 12 wounded; Wednesday 27 were killed and 183 wounded; Thursday 4 were reported dead and 8 wounded and Friday 44 were reported dead and 161 wounded plus 1 person kidnapped; and Saturday 1 US contractor was reported kidnapped. That's 137 reported dead and 495 wounded." From Third on Feb. 14th, "Meanwhile, the violence continued in Iraq. Sunday 11 people was reported dead and 6 wounded; Monday 1 dead and 1 wounded; Tuesday 1 was reported dead and 6 wounded; Wednesday 4 dead and 19 wounded; Thursday 3 were reported dead and 7 wounded; Friday 18 dead and 40 wounded; and Saturday 2 were reported dead and 14 wounded for a total of 36 reported dead and 94 wounded." From Third Feb. 21st, "Sunday 8 people were reported dead and 10 were reported wounded; Monday 2 were reported dead and 4 were reported wounded; Tuesday 8 were reported dead and 16 reported wounded; Wednesday 3 were reported dead and 6 wounded; Thursday 13 were reported dead and 52 wounded; Friday 2 were reported dead and 1 wounded; and Saturday 6 were reported dead and 2 wounded. That adds up to 42 killed and 91 wounded -- reported killed and wounded, actual numbers are no doubt higher." From Third on Feb. 28th, "Sunday 9 Iraqis were reported dead and 20 were reported wounded, Monday 24 were reported dead and 16 injured, Tuesday 14 were reported dead and 9 wounded, Wednesday 1 judge was reported dead and 1 employee of the Independent High Electoral Commission was reported injured, Thursday 5 reported dead and 2 wounded, Friday 2 reported dead 12 reported wounded and Saturday 2 reported dead and 1 wounded. In total at least 57 reported deaths and 71 reported injured by Western media with many deaths and injuries going unreported." Those counts are short on McClatchy because McClatchy did not file a daily report in February. The totals are 272 dead and 751 injured. Xinhua (link has text and audio) reports that the Iraqi death toll climbed last month according to the Defense, Health and Interior Ministries with 352 people killed and 684 injured.
In financial and colonization news, last week, we noted BBC News reporting that the IMF will be 'loaning' $3.6 billion and "Analysts say the conditions attached to previous IMF loans have caused resentment among Iraqis as they have struggled to compete with neighbouring countries in trade." Now Reuters reports that Iraq will be receiving two $250 million loans from the World Bank -- which means Robert Zoellick's colonizing efforts continue. In other financial news, one country the US waged illegal war against teams up with another, Voice of Vietnam reports that Vietnam will sell "90,000 tonnes of five-percent broken rice to Iraq".
Want to end the wars? March 20th, marches in DC, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The Students for a Democratic Society are an organization that will be participating and they note:
While the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan is growing ever larger, the occupation of Iraq is still raging, nearing its seventh anniversary. With over 4,300 US soldiers and over 1.3 million Iraqi civilians estimated dead, something has to be done to stop this senseless slaughter.
This year Students for a Democratic Society will hold a national week of action March 15th to 20th where students will organize protests and direct actions at campuses across the country in opposition to the ongoing, brutal occupations.
The need for a vibrant anti-war movement has rarely been felt more than this very moment, while the United States drops trillions of dollars into unjust wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, during the worst economic crisis in 80 years. Students are struggling to pay for school while tuition skyrockets, and states lose billions of dollars to two continuing occupations.
On Saturday, March 20th, SDS will participate in a massive National March & Rally in D.C. hosted by A.N.S.W.E.R. to finish the week of action with tens of thousands of people in the street!
We're calling on students and youth from across the country to join us the week of March 15-20th in demanding: Fund Education, Not Occupation!
For more information visit: http://sdsantiwar.wordpress.com/
Winding down, Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Barack Renews The Patriot Act" went up last night and Kat's "Kat's Korner: The ultimate torch singer Sade" went up Saturday and her "Kat's Korner: Joanna Newsom's triumph" went up Sunday. And Amped Status has been working on an ambitious series of reports and part-six is now up, "Part VI: How to Fight Back and Win: Common Ground Issues That Must Be Won - The Economic Elite Vs. The People of the USA". And click here to see the daily video from the DPC, today being Senator Dick Durbin weighing in on Republican filibustering on the extension of unemployment benefits.