Raad Kadhim Nouri asks Leila Fadel (Washington Post), "Where is the security if, for an 18-minute session, they close all the streets? It means there is no security." He's a street vendor in Baghdad dealing with the lack of services in Baghdad -- his home has "only one hour of electricity every five hours" -- as well as the "120-degree heat." The man's been a vendor since before the start of the Iraq War and his thoughts include, "Nothing will change from the last parliament."
"Frankly, the politicians are just wearing us out," a shop owner, Saif Ali, tells Anthony Shadid (New York Times). "Unemployment? Electricity? Housing? Since 2003 -- for seven years now -- no one has solved it yet. [. . .] Even the water is dirty."
Elections held only weeks away from the seventh anniversary of the Iraq War and this is what the Iraqi people are seeing. The mood's captured in a cartoon posted to McClatchy's Inside Iraq which asks, "Is there any Iraqi official who cares about people's pain and suffering?" There's no progress. There was no progress under Bully Boy Bush, there will be no progress under Barack. A foreign power can't make democracy. An occupied land does not embrace the (publicly expressed) ideals and goals of the occupied power.
And if that doesn't disturb you, maybe this will from Anthony Shadid's article:
"There is clearly a divide," said Ryan C. Crocker, the former American ambassador to Iraq and a longtime diplomat in the Middle East.
He described an "elitist authoritarianism that basically ignores the people."
"Right now, what I'm concerned about is the persistence of the political culture in which the governors simply do not really care about the governed," he said. "Saddam didn't invent it. This is part of a persistent Iraqi political culture, and it did not produce a happy state after 1958 at any point, and I would worry that it will not now."
Good for Shadid for going to Crocker. He has to be appalled by what he's seeing. The US has failed diplomatically and any hopes of a pretty red bow being tied around the whole thing are long gone. Fate and Chris Hill have ensured that. Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports some disturbing news:
However, Allawi's supporters are wagering that Maliki's coalition will still fall apart because of the competing interests of its different Shiite parties. Allawi has warned that a government formed without him could unleash a new round of sectarian fighting. Maliki has issued similar warnings.
Some lawmakers from Maliki's list suggested that a deal on who will be prime minister could be hammered out within a few weeks, but most lawmakers believe it will take at least until August before a government is seated. Internal U.S. military projections, viewed by The Times, say the government is likely to be seated in October, or in a best-case scenario September, if negotiations gain speed.
That is in such marked contrast to the b.s. Hill keeps serving up. Why do we allow that? Why do we allow our public servants -- whom we pay -- to lie to us?
Chris Hill's inclination to lie was well known long before he finally dragged his tired to Baghdad. And all the whiner drive-bys who think they're going to e-mail and shame me with, "Crocker was appointed by Bush!" Crocker was opposed to the Iraq War before it started. Chris Hill cannot say the same thing. Crocker also knew a bit about diplomacy (actually, he knows more than a bit) whereas Chris Hill and his manic depression has made the US diplomatic arm a laughing stock in the Green Zone. At some point, history will ask: What made Barack pick Chris Hill as an ambassador?
Another Chris, a far better Chris, Chris Ames has a new post at Iraq Inquiry Digest.
The UNHCR notes:
Annual figures released Tuesday by the UN refugee agency show that some 43.3 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide at the end of 2009, the highest number of people uprooted by conflict and persecution since the mid-1990s.
At the same time, according to the 2009 Global Trends report, the number of refugees voluntarily returning to their home countries has fallen to its lowest level in 20 years. UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, commenting on the figures during an address in Berlin on Tuesday, said "last year was not a good year for voluntary repatriation."
35,218 is the number of Iraqis listed as having returned. There are an estimated 2 million external Iraqi refugees -- at least two million.
Yesterday, Iraq's Parliament met for the first time . . . for less than 20 minutes. For NPR's All Things Considered, Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reported:
And then, a scant 18 minutes after it had begun, it was over without incident. Still, this is not the end of the political process here, but rather only the labored beginning. And in 2005, the session was not adjourned, but rather recessed indefinitely, a tactic meant to circumvent a series of constitutional deadlines that would've required a new speaker to have been elected within 15 days and a president within 30. Iraq's political class is not even close to coming to a deal. The March election gave no one a clear victory and bitter negotiations are underway to see who will come out on top. The coalition led by former prime minister Iyad Allawi won a slim margin of victory over the bloc led by sitting prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The report goes on to include various voices and it's audio and transcript at the link.
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