Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The violence, refugee crisis and political stalemate all continue

"The statement by General Odierno does not correspond to the current realties in Iraq. Iraqis cannot cope with the security of their nation by themselves, even if the US gives them money and equipment. At issue is not providing security in the ordinary sense of the word. The security of a country must be sustainable, but Iraq is a much more complex nation; fighting is ongoing and a country which has no functioning government cannot provide tangible security for the citizens."
"General Odierno spoke the words that are music to the ears of his listeners, especially US voters who want to see an end to the Iraqi military campaign. In truth, the military presence of the US in Iraq will be maintained for a long time to come," believes Gusterin. "The Iraqi oil fields are a plum that cannot be given up easily," he says.

The above is from The Voice of Russia quoting Russian Academy of Sciences' Pavel Gusterin. Meanwhile Renee Montagne (NPR's Morning Edition) speaks with Nada Naji who talks about how her hopes for a free Iraq vanished as the war continued and how random violence is the new norm -- leading her to pull her oldest child out of kindergarten -- and takes place with no explanation and or reason leaving everyone wary and unsure of whom to trust. In the same segment, Steve Inskeep speaks with Deborah Amos about the status of Iraqi refugees. Amos is back from Lebanon and explains that the slow number of refugees who have returned has gotten even slower so you're most likely looking at a refugee class of people for some time to come. Deborah Amos new book is entitled Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East. Refugees International issued the following last Thursday:

As the Security Council seeks to renew the mandate for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), Refugees International urges the UN to put humanitarian objectives, and not only development needs, at the forefront of its work in Iraq. Craig Johnstone, Refugees International interim president, stated:

"Security rules have restricted UN staff’s access to people, who desperately need their help and protection. The UN needs to relax these restrictions, so that humanitarian needs can be properly addressed. The staff of RI have traveled without security escorts throughout most of Baghdad, and in other locations, so it is possible to do more.”

"There are an estimated one and a half million displaced people in Iraq, 500,000 of whom live as squatters in slums. These people have no land rights, no access to basic health and sanitation, and are almost entirely dependent on the UN.

"Many of these families live under cardboard, alongside polluted rivers and amongst garbage dumps. Some are completely dependent upon the UN to provide clean water. Refugees International urges the UN to work with member states to help these people until long term solutions become available. They should not resort to such desperate measures. Displaced people have the right to more protection."

Refugees International is a Washington, DC-based organization that advocates to end refugee crises and receives no government or UN funding.


For Immediate Release: August 5, 2010
Contact: Refugees International, Gabrielle Menezes
P: 202-828-0110 x225/ 347 260 1393

Violence continues in Iraq with Reuters noting 1 corpse (handcuffed) discovered in Jurf al-Sakhar, a Jurf al-Sakhar home invasion in which Sahwa leader Malik al-Janabi and 3 of his bodyguards were murdered, a Baghdad roadside bombing in which two people were injured and last night, Alsumaria TV adds that "rockets fell in the US Embassy campus in the Green Zone, the damages were not determined yet, police sources told Alsumaria News. As soon as the rocket fell sirens wailed inside the Green Zone and helicopters roamed in the surrounding."

Also continuing is the political stalemate. March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. 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. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's now 5 months and 3 days.

And today Alsumaria TV reports that State Of Law's Ali al-Dabbagh states that there will be no formation of a government this month and that "it is not easy to set dates to announce the formation of the new Iraqi government." Nouri went to the KRG Sunday seeking their support and leading to many rumors of what he might be bargaining/bartering with. The report by Namo Abdulla and Hemin Baban (Rudaw) won't calm any fears among Shi'ites:

Maliki reiterated in Erbil that he is best candidate for prime minister and not going to compromise.
"Just like any other side, we have our own candidate for the post of prime minister" Maliki said.
Maliki expressed his full support for Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, a package that could annex the oil-rich city of Kirkuk to Kurdistan, through a referendum it calls for.
Maliki's words were not taken as serious by Kurds as they were five years ago when he made a pledge to implement the article. He has never done it, though.
"No one will be able to block article 140," said Maliki.

In addition, Alsumaria TV reports, "Member of Iraqi Kurdistan Alliance Ala Talabani said that the coalition of the Kurdish blocs back Al Maliki for a second term and pointed out to the importance of political accordance and the formation of a national partnership government." Arab News offers this analysis:

There are two clear dangers here. The first is already manifest. The power vacuum continues to be exploited by those who are opposed to the American occupation with bombings and murders. The bloodshed may not be on the scale of the past, but as the police and security forces battle with them, they carry the disheartening knowledge that they are acting in the name of a political process that is proving itself spectacularly incoherent or incomprehensible to outsiders.
The second danger is perhaps less well appreciated. It is that Iraqis will become used to living without a government and will fall even further back upon the support and resources of their different communities. Though in some respects this may not be a bad thing, we should not forget that Iraq is a country deeply polarized by war and occupation. In such a situation it is easy for anybody -- the occupying authorities, disgruntled Iraqis or neighbors -- to sharpen the divisions between the communities and with these schisms, the death squads will return to the streets, butchering innocent individuals purely because they come from a different confessional or ethnic background.

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And Investing For The Soul has a new post entitled "The Coming 21st Century Global Trade War?" that you may find interesting.

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