Monday, November 08, 2010

8 months without a government

Sunday, October 31st, Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad was attacked and at least 58 people died. Michael Jansen (Irish Times) reports, "In the immediate aftermath of the attack on the church, France offered refuge to 150 Iraqi Christians, including some of the wounded." Jacques Clement (Middle East Online) reports on Siba Nadhir who will be evacuated to France today and who is four-months pregnant and was shot twice in the assault. She states, "They told me it would be better for my baby if I went to France for treatment. I don't wan tto go. I would rather stay here near my husband who was wounded and is in intensive care." Clement reports that Nadhi's family has not yet been able to tell her that her husband is dead. AFP reports that 36 Iraqis are already in route to France. Though everyone from the Pope to the Palestinian President publicly expressed their dismay over the assault, US President Barack Obama never said a word. (Apparently -- unlike a beer or Slurpee summit, the topic holds little interst for Barack.) That may go a long way towards explaining why France's government has sprung into action and the US government has done nothing.

James Denselow (Guardian) observes:

Earlier in the year the pope urged the Iraqi government to protect Iraq's "most vulnerable religious minorities" following a spate of attacks on Iraqi Christians. Indeed as worrying as the surge of violence against Iraq's Christians is, it should be placed in the context of the last seven years of daily grind. The organisation "Iraqi Christians in Need" (which is holding a memorial service in London on 12 November) explains that Iraq's Christians, "as a result of the war, have been suffering, displaced, destitute and persecuted".
In the absence of effective Christian representation in the new Iraqi government and without a militia to protect them in Iraq's violent sectarian arena, Iraqi Christians were targeted throughout the height of Iraq's civil war period from 2006-2007. High-ranking clergy were kidnapped and assassinated and tens of thousands fled the country. Despite making up less than 5% of Iraq's population, they constitute an estimated 10% of internally displaced Iraqis and 20% of Iraqi refugees in neighbouring nations.

Hamid Ahmed (AP) reports that a Karbala car bombing has resulted in the deaths of 7 pilgrims today.

Meanwhile AP's Matthew Lee and Anne Gearan report that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed in Australia her hope that Iraq was close to forming a new government. It is eight months today. An anniversary. Eight months since the country held elections and no new government established. Parliament's still only met one time -- for less than 20 minutes -- and though there was much fanfare that -- after being Court ordered -- they'd meet today, of course they're not and they've pushed that back to Thursday.

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 eight months and still counting.

Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) reports

Iraqi leaders called for a united government as they met to try to end eight months of political deadlock and speed up the formation of a new parliament.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and former Premier Ayad Allawi, whose blocs are competing to be recognized as the winner of the March 7 elections, joined Kurdish and Sunni Muslim leaders in Erbil, capital of the northern semi-autonomous Kurdistan region. The session was aired live by state-sponsored al-Iraqiyah television.

Kelly McEvers (NPR's Morning Edition) reports
on some US government concerns with Nouri's alliances.

Journalist Anna Badkhen is the author of the new book Peace Meals and she discusses it this week on War News Radio. New mirror site here, Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "MSNBC's Boldest Lie" went up Sunday and we'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "CIA Requires Secrecy to Cover Up Crimes that 'Killed Millions'" (Global Research):

If the CIA routinely lies to the American people, maybe that's because its got so much to lie about, like killing millions of innocent human beings around the world. As far back as December, 1968, the CIA's own Covert Operations Study Group gave a secret report to president-elect Richard Nixon that conceded, “The impression of many Americans, especially in the intellectual community and among the youth, that the United States is engaging in 'dirty tricks' tends to alienate them from their government.” According to Time Weiner's book “Legacy of Ashes”(Anchor), the report went on to say, “Our credibility and our effectiveness in this role is necessarily damaged to the extent that it becomes known that we are secretly intervening in what may be (or appear to be) the internal affairs of others.”

President Bill Clinton, who first gave the CIA the green light to launch its illegal “renditions” (kidnappings,) told the nation on the occasion of the Agency's 50th birthday (1997), “By necessity, the American people will never know the full story of your courage.” (Courage? For 22 agents to grab one Muslim cleric off the streets of Milan, Italy, and ship him abroad to be tortured?) Anyway, presidents who authorize criminal acts by the CIA, as virtually all have done since its founding in 1947, don't want the truth out, either, lest knowledge of those “dirty tricks” sicken and revolt the American people when they find out what crimes the Agency is perpetrating with their tax dollars. As former CIA agent Philip Agee once put it, “The CIA is the President's secret army.” This point was underscored at a luncheon by President Gerald Ford himself, which he hosted for New York Times top editors on Jan. 16, 1975. According to Weiner, Ford told them the reputation of every President since Truman could be ruined if the secrets became public. Asked by an editor, like what? Ford replied “like assassinations.”

One reason the Agency seeks to hide its operations is that it sadly is often guilty as charged. For example, take its complicity in the murders of American missionaries in Peru. As Reuters reported Nov. 21, 2008:

The CIA obstructed inquiries into its role in the shooting down of an aircraft carrying a family of U.S. missionaries in Peru in 2001, the agency's inspector general(IG) has concluded. The (IG's) report said a CIA-backed program in Peru targeting drug runners was so poorly run that many suspect aircraft were shot down by Peruvian air force jets without proper checks being made first.” A small plane carrying Veronica Bowers, her husband Jim, their son Cory and infant daughter Charity was shot down by a Peruvian jet on April 20, 2001, after it was tracked by a CIA surveillance plane that suspected it was carrying drugs. Veronica and Charity Bowers were killed, while their pilot, Kevin Donaldson, who crash-landed the bullet-riddled plane into the Amazon River, was badly injured. The IG's report said that in the aftermath of the 2001 incident the CIA sought to characterize it as a one-time mistake in an otherwise well-run program. "In fact this was not the case. The routine disregard of the required intercept procedures ... led to the rapid shooting down of target aircraft without adequate safeguards to protect against the loss of innocent life," the report from the Agency's own IG said. (One might ask why the CIA didn't wait for the plane to land to interrogate the passengers?)

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