Thursday, September 30, 2010

Stalemate and refugees

The violence never ends in Iraq. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports, "At least two officers were killed and three civilians were wounded when police and gunmen traded fire in Baghdad on Thursday after an apparent bank robbery attempt, Iraqi Interior Ministry officials said." In addition, Steven Lee Myers and Thom Shanker (New York Times) report that there have been 23 mortar/rocket attacks on the Green Zone so far this month and "the intensity of the attacks has compounded a sense of anxiety here -- and back in Washington -- as Iraq's political impasse drags on almost seven months after parliamentary elections in March."

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted last month, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 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 six months and twenty-three days with no government formed.

Noting the rumors swirling that Nouri's got the post, Jason Ditz ( observes, "But can he form a government? That is less than clear, as much of the INA has already ruled out participating in a government giving Maliki a second term, and even a small portion of the State of Law bloc is opposing him. The Iraqiya bloc, which has the biggest plurality, has also ruled out working with Maliki."

Meanwhile a gullible reporter is advancing the line that the stalemate is preventing Iraqi refugees from returning. That's such b.s. Many have already noted -- Deborah Amos among them -- that the 'returns' have been down for over a year. And even if someone had somehow missed that fact, there's still the issue that Nouri may remain prime minister. If they didn't feel comfortable coming back while Nouri was prime minister, why would the likelihood of Nouri remaining prime minister make them want to return?

Spero News reports, "An independent United Nations human rights expert today urged the Iraqi Government and the international community to provide more assistance to internally displace persons (IDPs) in the country and protect their rights, stressing that ending displacement must [be] considered a key element of rebuilding Iraq." But some countries -- such as England -- refuse to take the refugee issue seriously and continue forcibly deporting refugees back to Iraq. IRIN notes, "The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has expressed concern about the growing number of deportations of Iraqi asylum-seekers from Western Europe in the last two months. Special charter flights to take failed asylum-seekers home have increased in frequency, and Iraqis are being returned to parts of the country which are still unsafe, in contravention of UNHCR guidelines for the handling of Iraqi asylum applications, it says."

And we'll again close with this announcement from World Can't Wait:

Wednesday October 20 7:00 pm
Screening: Collateral Murder

Posted by in 2010, this film is shot from U.S. Army Apache helicopters in 2007 in Baghdad, as they kill 12 Iraqi civilians, including two journalists. The Army is charging Army Intelligence Specialist Sgt Bradley Manning with the leak.

Ethan McCord, shown in the film rescuing 2 injured children, and Josh Stieber, another dissident veteran of Bravo Company 2-16, the unit responsible for the killings, will discuss the incident, and their opposition to continued American military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

LGBT Center, 208 West 13th St, NYC

Sponsored by World Can't Wait 866 973 4463

The event will be professionally webcast @

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