Monday, July 19, 2010

Bombings continue today in Iraq

Suicide bombings slammed Iraq yesterday and they continue today. Xiong Tong (Xinhua) reports a Mosul car bomber has taken his/her own life and left at least five wounded in an attack near a bridge. Though some may forget, bridge attacks were highly popular in Iraq during the 2005-2007 period popularly known as the "civil war." Was it way of 'herding' for future attacks? Reuters reports the car "plowed into a convoy carrying employees of a British company" and left 4 of them dead while the wounded five were Iraqis. Xiong Tong (Xinhua) adds, "Iraqi security forces sealed off the scene and blocked all the roads leading to the area, the source added." In other violence, Reuters notes 2 Baghdad roadside bombing left five people injured in an apparent attack on an employee of the Ministry of Agriculture, a third Baghdad roadsie bombing left three people injured and, dropping back to Sunday for all that follows, a Mosul attack in which 1 man was shot, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured two people and 1 civilian shot dead in Kirkuk. The Hindu notes a Mosul bombing which claimed the lives of 3 police officers and left a fourth wounded and another which wounded 4 Kurdish peshmerga.

Some argue that the violence is increasing and doing so due to the fact that Iraq is in the midst of a political stalemate. 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. It's four months and five days and, in 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. Today makes it four months and eleven days without any government being established. Michael Christie and Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters) tackle the subject today and their observations include:

Politicians say fiery anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr might withdraw his veto of Maliki if he agrees to terms, such as the release of detained Sadrists, lifting death sentences and a generous sprinkling of cabinet posts and government jobs.
But mutual suspicions run deep and the hurdles to a final deal remain formidable. The odds are probably still no better than even on Maliki keeping his job. His State of Law coalition came second with 89 seats in the election to 91 won by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's Iraqiya, while the Shi'ite-led Iraqi National Alliance (INA) won around 70 seats.

Not asked in the article is why is Moqtada al-Sadr building a 'nest egg'? Reportedly, he's raking in big bucks from oil companies wanting to drill in southern Iraq. Why would he do that, if the rumors are true? He's made ripping up the oil contracts an issue with his followers, decried the occupational government that's made these deals with foreign companies and now, reportedly, he's taking money from these companies to guarantee their safety? If true, it's very curious. If true, it could also hurt his standing among his followers.

In England, Iraq Inquiry Digest's Chris Ames (at the Guardian) reports:

Did Labour care how many people died as a result of the Iraq war? It seems only to have cared that people might find out. A new report, A State of Ignorance from Action on Armed Violence (AOAV, formerly Landmine Action) shows how ministers and officials bent over backwards to avoid engaging with the issue, except to try to confuse it. Wilful ignorance is really the only way to describe it.
The cost in human life of the 2003 invasion and its aftermath is one of those issues that divides people as bitterly as the legitimacy of the war itself – and usually along similar lines. Those who oppose the war cite shockingly high figures, which are disputed by the invasion's apologists. For the last government, the whole issue was as welcome as Banquo at the feast and Labour remains in a near-pathological state of denial.
The AOAV report doesn't endorse any particular figure. It doesn't endorse any particular methodology or even claim that reaching an estimate is straightforward. It does argue that governments have to try to understand the impact of a decision to go to war and shows how Labour was determined not even to try.

A number of e-mails are coming in re: Rangel and the draft. We've covered this before but it's been awhile. If there's time, we'll cover it again in the snapshot today. For the record, as a community we oppose the reintroduction of the draft. Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Tales Of Indonesian Folklore" went up last night. We'll close with the opening of Sherwood Ross' "Pentagon's Growing Robot Capability Transforming Warfare" (OpEdNews):

The Pentagon is rapidly improving its ability to fight wars with robots. This capability is “bringing about the most profound transformation of warfare since the advent of the atom bomb,” says Scientific American, and raises “a host of ethical and legal issues.”
“Robots are pouring onto battlefields as if a new species of mechanotronic alien had just landed on our planet,” the publication says in an editorial on their development in its July issue. “The prospect of androids that hunt down and kill on their own accord (shades of Terminator) should give us all pause. An automatic pilot that makes its own calls about whom to shoot violates the ‘human’ part of international humanitarian law, the one that recognizes that some weapons are so abhorrent that they just should be eliminated.”
Since 2003, 7,000 unmanned aircraft and 12,000 ground vehicles have entered the U.S. military inventory, “entrusted with missions that range from seeking out snipers to bombing the hideouts of al-Qaeda higher-ups in Pakistan,” writes P.W. Singer in an accompanying article titled “War of The Machines.”

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