Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Violence and combat operations continue

Despite Barack's claims otherwise, combat operations continue in Iraq. Janine Zacharia and Aziz Alwan (Washington Post) report US and Iraqi troops staged a raid outside Falluja today in what became "the deadliest incident involving U.S. troops in Iraq since President Obama formally announced the end of combat operations August 31." The raid resulted in at least 8 Iraqi deaths. The reporters note that US forces were both on the ground and in the air (via US helicopters). Azhar Shalal (AFP) adds the dead are "seven civilians and two Iraqi soldiers" -- "including two women and two children" according to the Chief of Falluja police Faisal al Essawi who states the US and Iraqi forces conducted raids on five homes. Zhang Xiang (Xinhua) notes that the combat operation took pace "at about 2:00 a.m. local time". Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports at least one woman was also injured the raids and that the US military has confirmed the raids. In addition, the Telegraph of London reports 9 Iraqi soldiers have died in a roadside bombing just outside Mosul. Reuters notes five Iraqi soldiers were also injured and at least one civilian.

The violence continues and so does the political stalemate. March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board notes, "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 eight days with no government formed.

Nouri al-Maliki is seen as currently attempting to curry support from Syria's government. Syria's Day Press reports:

On Tuesday, President Bashar al-Assad stressed Syria's keenness on establishing the best relations with Iraq and supporting its security, stability and unity.
President al-Assad reiterated Syria's support to any agreement among Iraqis based on preserving Iraq's unity, Arabism and sovereignty.
President al-Assad was speaking during a meeting with the Iraqi State of Law Coalition delegation who handed him a letter from the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malki on Syrian-Iraqi relations and means of boosting them in the interest of both brotherly countries and peoples.
Talks dealt with the latest developments regarding efforts to form the new Iraqi government and the importance of participation of all Iraqis to gain consent and strengthen Iraq's unity, security and stability which help restore its Arab and international role.

Alsumaria TV reports
State of Law thug Izzat Al Shahbandar is stating that "compromises" will need to be made to end the stalemate? On all sides? Uh, no. Thug maintains that opposition to Nouri is starting to weaken. In other words, there is no compromise on the part of the party that came in second place. The Iraqi National Alliance and State of Law recently broke over the issue of Nouri. The Iraqi National Alliance has spoken of holding a poll to determine who they should support (Moqtada al-Sadr did something similar months ago) but they also state that their nominee for prime minister is Iraq's Shi'ite vice president Adel Abdul Mahdi. Alsumaria TV reports that he met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani who "stressed that Iraqis impatiently wait the political leaders to get along on a comprehensive national program that would bring the political crisis to an end." They also report that Adel Abdul Mahdi met yesterday with KRG President Massoud al Barzani.

In the US, the Democratic Policy Committee has issued the following on small businesses:

Underscoring the importance of passing the small business jobs legislation this week (H.R. 5297), a new report by the Joint Economic Committee shows that lending to small businesses has declined in 2010, small business hiring remains flat and the smallest firms continue to reduce hiring.

The report, entitled “Small Business Employment: Bank Lending Restrains Job Creation,” uses an unpublished data series from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to update the JEC’s May 2010 report analyzing small business hiring between January 2001 and March 2010. The update, which includes data through May 2010, shows that small business hiring has not yet started to increase.

This week the Senate considers legislation that will create 500,000 small business jobs and extend much-needed tax cuts to middle-class families and small businesses. Yet Republicans continue to stand in the way of America’s recovery and continue to oppose this job-creating bill. The new report from the JEC illustrates clearly the cost of Republican opposition to this legislation.

Major Findings of the JEC report:

· The number of small business loans and the dollar value of these loans are both dropping. The number of loans made to small businesses, which peaked at 27.2 million in the second quarter of 2008, has fallen by over 4.8 million since then, a drop of 17.8 percent. The total value of those loans fell by $60 billion to approximately $650 billion.

· The smallest small businesses – those with fewer than 50 employees – continue to see declines in hiring, even as large and mid-sized firms began to increase hiring in mid-2009.

· Overall, small business hiring remains well below pre-recession levels. In the years leading up to the recession, small businesses hired an average of 44.4 million people each year. In 2008, small business hiring dropped to 40.6 million, and in 2009, it dropped to 35.5 million workers.

· Small businesses, which employ three out of every four workers in the United States, continue to face tight lending standards, which is limiting hiring. Higher credit standards hit small businesses especially hard because small businesses lack other funding sources available to larger companies.

A copy of the JEC report is available here.

The new data provide a compelling argument for additional actions to spur lending to small businesses, enabling them to create jobs and reduce unemployment. We call upon the Republicans to join us in passing legislation that combines much-needed tax credits, enhancements to Small Business Administration (SBA) lending programs, and the development of new community bank lending facilities. This fully-paid for jobs bill targets the unique needs of small businesses and community banks, giving them the tools they need to help sustain our economic recovery.

DPC Fact Sheet | New JEC Report Shows Cost of Republican Opposition to Small Business Jobs Bill

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