Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bombings slam Iraq

Violence never ends in Iraq. Xinhua reports bombings in Diyala Province today have claimed at least 8 lives following the bombing of a police officer Major Qaid al-Rashid's home in Tikrit. So far the only known survivor is a six-month-old infant. Police Lt Col Khalid al-Baiyati's home was also bombed leaving two family members injured (the lieutenant wasn't home during the bombing), a Samarra roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 police officers (four people left injured) and a Baiji bombing injured one Sahwa member. Reuters raises the death toll from 8 to 11. Reuters adds a Baghdad sticky bombing injured eight Iranian pilgrims and a second Baghdad roadside bombing wounded six Iranian pilgrims. So bombings slam Iraq with at least 11 dead and at least 21 wounded.

Yesterday at the US State Dept, spokesperson Philip J. Crowley was asked about Iraq and his responses included, "Well, our message to Iraq has not changed at all. We want to see the formation of a new government expeditiously. And we also want to be sure that the new government is inclusive of all four winning blocs. So our message has not changed. And it has been more than six months since the election, but we do notice that the pace of political action to try to form a governing coalition has picked up in Iraq in recent months – recent weeks. Prime Minister Maliki is visiting Iran today. I wouldn't over-interpret this. We understand that Iran and Iraq are neighbors. They have to have a relationship. But we certainly think that Iran can be a better neighbor by respecting Iraqi sovereignty and ending it support to those who use violence in Iraq. [. . .] Well, we are concerned about any neighboring country that would meddle in Iraq's affairs. Ultimately, this has to be an Iraqi decision as part of its own political process and we have every indication that Iraq's leaders are working to try to form a government. We just want to see that government be as inclusive as possible. Our concerns about Iraq and its -- I'm sorry, our concerns about Iran and its meddling in Iraq's affairs are longstanding, but that said, we would expect the Iraqi Government to work on behalf of its own citizens and not on behalf of another country."

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "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 seven months and twelve days and counting.

Press TV notes, "Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Saeed Jalili stresses the importance of promoting mutual ties with Iraq, saying it would bring security to the region. The expansion of strategic relations between Iran and Iraq would play a leading role in establishing security and development in the region, IRNA quoted Jalili as saying in a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in the Iranian capital of Tehran on Monday." Anne Barker (Australia's ABC) adds, "Iran's deputy foreign minister says Mr Maliki is one of the suitable choices to lead Iraq's next government, a strong signal that Tehran wants him to stay in power." Press TV quotes Ayatollah Khamenei stating, "Despite relative stability in Iraq, the country is still suffering from insecurity and part of this insecurity is resulted from the pressures that are exerted by some powers whose political interests lie in creating insecurity in Iraq." The Tehran Times notes Khamenei is calling for "the immediate formation of a government". Pepe Escobar (Asia Times) notes:

All through these interminable seven months since the Iraq elections on March 7, the Barack Obama administration said it would "not interfere" in internal Iraqi politics. Even the ghosts of the whores of Babylon knew Washington wanted its own favored, slightly pro-Western "coalition" in power - a Maliki-Iyad Allawi "cohabitation", as the French put it, with that Arab version of Tony Soprano, former Central Intelligence Agency asset and former "butcher of Fallujah" Allawi as prime minister. (See The new Saddam, without a moustache Asia Times Online, July 16, 2004.)
Now it turns out Washington is involved in - guess what? - a whole lot of interfering. Maliki is set to actually remain in power - thanks to support by the Sadrist bloc. Allawi's Iraqiya List had slightly more seats (91) than Maliki's list (89), but not enough to form a government. At the same time, the Sadrists became predominant over the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council and the Iraqi National Alliance (10% of the 325 contested seats). Even said ghosts of the whores of Babylon also knew that after the elections the real kingmaker in Iraq would continue to be Muqtada.

In Geneva today, UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming addressed the issue of Iraqi returnees, "A poll of Iraqis who have returned to Baghdad from neighbouring countries found that physical insecurity, economic hardship and a lack of basic public services has led the majority to regret their decision to return to Iraq. The survey also found that 34 percent said they were uncertain whether they would stay permanently in Iraq and would consider seeking asylum in neighbouring countries once again if conditions do not improve."

Everyone still awaits the latest release from WikiLeaks releases some of their Iraq War documents. The WikiLeaks home page reads (as it has since at least Friday): "WikiLeaks is currently under[g]oing scheduled maintenance. We will be back online as soon as possible." From their Twitter feed this morning, these were the five most recent Tweets:

  1. WikiLeaks is not the problem. Overclassification is! FP http://foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/10/15/telling_secrets
  2. Rather than apologizing for misleading the press, the Pentagon tries bully it into not reporting | Reuters http://reut.rs/ce31jf
  3. @wired has spoken to no 'staffers'. No publication dates have slipped. @wired has agenda, doesn't check facts and is not to be trusted.
  4. WikiLeaks cut off from donations, denied extra shield | AP/CBS http://bit.ly/bXyQAC
  5. WikiLeaks keynote, Washington DC, Oct 30 http://bit.ly/cO4nUz
  6. Hundreds of media giants fooled by not checking their facts | Rixstep http://rixstep.com/1/1/20101018,00.shtml

And we'll close with this from David Edwards and Muriel Kane's "Whistleblower Reveals Systematic Humiliation of Detainees" (World Can't Wait):

Note -- On October 20, Ethan McCord will be joining World Can't Wait for a live webcast on the Collateral Murder video released by Wikileaks. Ethan is the soldier in video carrying the young girl from the van. Today, he has also just released some videos showing humiliation of detainees...
A former US soldier in Iraq has come forward with video of his fellow soldiers subjecting Iraqi detainees to what he describes as "mental, emotional, degrading" abuse.
US Army Specialist Ethan McCord was a member of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry, the same unit that was involved in a 2007 helicopter attack in Baghdad shown in a leaked video released last April by WikiLeaks.

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