In northern Iraq, Iraqis face bombings from the sky via the Turkish military airplanes and from Iran shelling them. Asso Ahmed and Nadeem Hamid (Los Angeles Times) report that the combined attacks has resulted in many Kurds fleeing their homes: "Aid workers say more than 650 families have fled their villages, and many are now living in primitive conditions without shelter or sufficient food in a humanitarian crisis that has drawn little attention from the authorities in Baghdad." The highest ranking government official -- in Baghdad -- to call out the bombings (and the Turkish military twice this month violating Iraq's sovereignty by sending ground troops into Iraq) is Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. While Nouri al-Maliki -- current prime minister who wants to continue holding onto the post -- has remained silent (way to represent, Nouri!), Zebari has publicly condemned the actions. (Zebari is a Kurd.) And the exodus of Iraqis may continue since AFP is reporting that Turkey is again dropping bombs on northern Iraq which quotes PKK spokesperson Ahmed Denis stating, "The bombing targeted Kurdish nomads in the border area. We don't yet know the extent of the damage or casualties." Patrick Seale (Middle East Online) offers this analysis of the impact the bombings may have on Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan:
Instead, Turkey must now brace itself for more PKK terrorist attacks, while Kurdish areas of the country, as well as PKK bases in northern Iraq, will face new ground and air onslaughts by Turkish forces.
Erdogan's outreach to the Kurds has aroused bitter criticism from diehard Turkish nationalists. He has been accused of pursuing policies which have weakened the struggle against the PKK. Some have called for emergency rule to be re-imposed on Kurdish-inhabited areas. For the opposition, any expression of Kurdish nationalism is anathema, since it carries with it a potential threat to the territorial integrity of Ataturk’s Turkish Republic. Since Erdogan faces elections in the coming year, he cannot afford to ignore this nationalist groundswell.
Delphine Strauss (Financial Times of London) writes from the position that the PKK is to blame for the violence, "Since the snows began melting in its mountain hide-outs across the Iraqi border, it has mounted one of its deadliest offensives in years, killing more than 50 of Turkey's armed forces by raids, rocket attacks and mines. Some attacks recalled tactics from the worst period of conflict in the 1990s." Today's Zaman offers the opinion of Diyarbakir Bar Association head Emin Aktar:
"Violence has promoted nationalism and incited hatred among people and makes the Kurdish issue more difficult to solve. Turkey should immediately move away from the environment of clashes in order to truly debate the Kurdish issue and find appropriate solutions to it.
The PKK should end its attacks, and [military] operations against terrorists should be ended," Aktar said. He stressed that every action targeting human life is unacceptable and unjust.
Whether it helps or not, the (if confirmed) new US Ambassador to Iraq, James Jeffrey, is a former US Ambassador to Turkey and -- unlike Chris Hill -- is familiar with the background on the conflict between Turkey and the PKK. The US has long shared intelligence with Turkey for PKK strikes. (If that's new to you, it's been public since Bush was in the White House.) Hurriyet Daily News reports that the Turkish government wants more than intelligence from the US when it comes to the PKK and that today at the G-20 summit in Canada, Erdogan intends to press US President Barack Obama on this issue: "The U.S. has been providing Turkey with actionable intelligence since late 2007 and initiated the establishment of what they call the trilateral mechanism -- a broad cooperative measure between Turkey, Iraq and the U.S. intended to restrict the movement of terror agents in the region."
Meanwhile current Iraq President Jalal Talabani (who, like Nouri, is trying desperately to hold on to that position) just finished meeting with the King of Jordan. The Jordan Times reports that King Abdullah II and Talabani met to address "bilateral ties and current regional issues" with the King reaffirming "Jordan's support for Iraq's efforts in bringing about stability and security in the eastern neighbour". Abdul Jalil Mustafa (Arab News) reports, "Talabani made a surprise visit to Jordan, which stirred speculation among observers that he sought the monarch's backing to defuse the current political crisis emanating from disagreement to form a new Iraqi government after the March elections." Talabani did not stop his tour in Jordan. Alsumaria TV reports he went on to Libya where he met with Muammar al Gaddafi.
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. Three months and two days later, still no government. 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. Over the weekend, Mayada Al Askari (Gulf News) interviewed Allawi:
However, in an exclusive interview with Gulf News, Allawi said no article in the Constitution indicates that such a bloc formed in a post-election merger will be considered the largest bloc. Such a bloc alone will not get the right to decide the formation of the government, he said.
No doubt the government's formation will be delayed if other groups resort to the issue of the biggest and smallest blocs, Allawi said and reiterated that his Iraqiya coalition insists on its constitutional right and merit.
The merger two months after the elections by the State of Law with the other main Shiite bloc, the Iraqi National Alliance, gave the bloc 159 seats in the 325-seat parliament, only four short of a simple majority. Such numbers would appear to give an edge to Al Maliki or another candidate from his newly expanded bloc to become prime minister.
Kayla found an article that "I really wanted to like, maybe you'll see it differently than I did?" No, Kayla, I saw it the same way you did. Sometimes I bemoan the fact that people aren't paying attention to Iraq and then comes the article from crazy Cockburn's site and I'm reminded that maybe it's better that the crazies have moved on? For example, a crazy little ass from Mass really has no place attempting to stoke sectarian tensions to begin with. But if she's going to try, maybe she should try knowing her facts? (Oh come on, facts are never necessary at CounterPunch -- where Cockburn insists Global Warming doesn't exist and where he trashes Truth Out for publishing Jason while claiming CounterPunch has standards . . . forgetting he too published Jason.) There isn't anyone vying for power that isn't an exile. What a stupid, stupid woman. Even Moqtada al-Sadr -- who isn't vying but is working behind the scenes -- is an exile because he's been in Iran for how long now? She's an idiot and it's articles like that which required that we delink from CounterPunch. They are not missed. Like Kayla, I tried to pan for gold but I just found too many errors -- and some real hatred towards Sunnis whom the writer thinks need to suffer because the "U.S. backed" them -- no, the US backed Saddam Hussein. The idiot doesn't even appear to be aware of that. And if she's trying to tar and feather all Ba'athists, someone might want to inform her that Ba'athists included Shi'ites -- in fact, a larger number of the Shi'ite exiles were Ba'athists until they got on Saddam Hussein's bad side.
Related, I do appreciate a wide range of opinions on issues the US media isn't interested in. And a visitor found a column at Asia Times that is interesting. If it was written by anyone else, we'd probably quote from it. But it's written by a Lyndon Larouche-y and we're not interested in that group for what I would hope would be obvious reasons. That's not slamming the visitor, the LaRouchey writes under a pseudonym. Thanks to __ for attempting to find an article addressing the situation in Turkey; however, due to the writer of the piece, we're not highlighting it.
Violence continues in Iraq. Reuters notes a Mosul car bombing which injured an Iraqi soldier, a Baghdad sticky bombing which injured one person, two Baghdad roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 2 police officers and left four injured, and that the US military announced yesterday that one of their helicopters fired on 3 'suspects' Saturday in Mosul resulting in all three being killed. Hey, didn't the US stop combat missions in Iraq long ago? Weren't they confined to bases? Hmmm.
Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "White House 'stud'" went up last night. Also note that Tariq Ali is Matthew Rothschild's guest on this week's Progressive Radio.
We'll close with this from Nat Hentoff's "Man Indicted for Using Right to Free Speech" (Information Clearing House):
This is a story that should be a warning to Americans, regardless of political party, because it dramatically illustrates what pre-eminent civil liberties attorney Harvey Silverglate documents in his book, "Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent" by means of the ever-increasing broad and vague federal laws that allow prosecutors to pin arguable federal crimes on any one of us, even for the most seemingly innocuous behavior.
Consider what happened to an unemployed American, Bruce Shore, because of e-mails he sent to the Web site of U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky. As reported by Arthur Delaney on huffingtonpost.com, Shore, watching the Senate in inaction on C-Span, was angered when Bunning complained that, gosh, he has missed the Kentucky-South Carolina basketball game because he had to be in Congress to debate an unemployment benefits bill.
"I was livid, I was just livid," recalled the 51-year-old Shore. "I’m on unemployment, so it affects me."
Here is part of his Feb. 26 messages to Bunning staffers: "Are you’all insane. No checks equal no food for me. Do you get it?"
The next month, FBI agents came calling to Shore’s home in Philadelphia. They read him excerpts from his citizen’s complaints and asked whether he was the author, which Shore readily admitted. Apparently these agents had heard something about the First Amendment, and told this indignant American, "All right, we just wanted to make sure it wasn’t anything to worry about."
But the ever-vigilant Obama administration was not satisfied. On May 13 U.S. Marshals appeared at Shore’s door and handed him a grand jury indictment. James Madison, the father of the First Amendment, had insisted that the great right of freedom of speech must be placed beyond the reach of any branch of government. This is the indictment that forced Shore into federal court. The language is that of Communications Act of 1934 as amended and updated to include electronic messages in the Telecommunications Act of 1996: "(Shore) did utilize a telecommunications device, that is a computer, whether or not communication ensued, without disclosing his identity and with the intent to annoy, abuse, threaten and harass any person who received the communication."
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