The key objective of the Obama administration has been to ensure that the next Iraqi government will "request" a long-term military partnership with the US when the current Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) expires at the end of 2011. The SOFA is the legal basis upon which some 50,000 American troops remain in Iraq, operating from large strategic air bases such as Balad and Tallil and Al Asad. US imperialism spent billions of dollars establishing these advanced bases as part of its wider strategic plans and has no intention of abandoning them.
The above is from James Cogan's "Iraqi cabinet established nine months after election" (WSWS). Cogan's only the second person to include the SOFA in his report. Some are impressed with the 'feat' of taking nearly ten months to form a government, stringing the country along for ten months while no decisions could go through. The editorial board of the Washington Post, for example, was full of praise yesterday. Today they're joined by Iran's Ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Danaiifar. The Tehran Times reports that Danaiifar was full of praise today hailing the "positive and final step which ended the 10-month political limbo in Iraq." However, Danaiifar was less pie-in-the-sky than the Post editorial board because he can foresee future problems as evidenced by his statement, "We may witness the emergence of some problems after one and half of a year -- for example, some ministers may be impeached." Of course, there are already many clouds on the horizon, even if Iranian diplomats and Post editorial boards can't suss them out. For example, Ben Bendig (Epoch Times) noted the objection of Iraq's female politicians to Nouri al-Maliki's decision to nominate only one woman (so far) to his Cabinet: "Some 50 female lawmakers went to the country's top leadership, the United Nations and the Arab League to voice their concern and desire for increased representation." Ranj Alaaldin (Guardian) also spots clouds on the horizon:
Lasting peace and stability depends on resolving outstanding disputes with the Kurds on oil, revenue-sharing, security and the disputed territories (Kirkuk in particular). The Kurds, rather than exploiting their kingmaker position to take a stronger proportion of ministries in Baghdad (they are taking just one major portfolio – the foreign ministry), are instead banking on guarantees from Maliki to implement their list of 19 demands that includes resolving the above disputes in their favour.
They may have been naive, though. With their historical and federalist partners, the Islamic supreme council of Iraq in decline, the Kurds may be isolated in the new government – a government dominated by the nationalistic and centrist characteristics of the INM, the Sadrists and indeed State of Law.
Maliki may, therefore, turn out to be unable to grant concessions even if he wanted to and could use Osama Nujayfi, the new ultra-nationalist speaker of parliament and Kurdish foe, to absorb the Kurdish criticism and insulate himself from any attacks.
AP reports that Iraqi police sought out a 19-year-old woman because of rumors that she was working with al Qaida in Mesopotamia only to be greeted with the news that her father allegedly killed her and the father showed the police where he buried the woman . . . last month. The story begs for more than it offers. The most obvious observation is: what does it say that a woman's allegedly killed by her father and no one says a word for over a month? After that, it should probably be noted that there are many men in Iraq killing women who, no doubt, would love to also be able to pin the blame on al Qaida. In other violence, Reuters notes a house bombing in Haswa which claimed the life of Mohammed al-Karrafi, "his wife, two sons and a nephew" -- as well as injuring four more people, and a Samarra roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 2 police officers. DPA notes it was two homes bombed in Haswa and that the Samarra roadside bombing also injured four Iraqi soldiers.
(Troy Yocum photo taken by John Crosby)
Hike for our Heroes is a non-profit started by Iraq War veteran Troy Yocum who is hiking across the country to raise awareness and money for veterans issues. Embassy Suites issued the following release:
Embassy Suites El Paso welcomes Troy Yocum, his wife Mareike and their Super Dog Emmie for an extended stay to rest, relax and celebrate the holidays before they continue their hike across the country. Yocum will stay at the hotel through Dec. 27, when he again picks up his drum to raise money for the nation’s military heroes.
“We are extremely proud to offer Troy and Mareike a home for the holidays,” said Larry Condra, general manager of the hotel. “We even have a few surprises planned, from a traditional Texas Christmas dinner to special treats for Emmie. Troy’s mission touches us all and we are grateful for this opportunity to show our support for our military families.”
The Embassy Suites El Paso is managed by Windsor Management Services, the management company of Windsor Capital Group. The Windsor Management Services team has offered support to Hike for Heroes and this is the second property Yocum has stayed at. Previously, he spent a night at the Embassy Suites Santa Ana Orange County North Airport.
“We work closely with the military, providing places for deployed servicemen and servicewomen to stay before and after their deployment,” said Condra. “Troy’s mission hit us especially close to home since we see first-hand what these heroes face.”
When Yocum returned from Iraq in August 2009, a fellow veteran who served two tours – one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan – needed financial help after losing his job. Yocum contacted charities to get assistance for his friend, but the likelihood of receiving aid was very low. Thousands of veterans were already waiting in line for help. He also found that the suicide rate among soldiers had set a record number for two years in a row. “I immediately stepped back and said, ‘I need to find a way to help these people,’” he said. Yocum was determined to make his efforts successful and decided he was going to hike across America and back to raise awareness and donations to help these soldiers and their families.
Troy has now passed the halfway point of his Hike and has covered over 4,000 miles. His journey will continue for another nine months until he reaches his hometown of Louisville, KY, where the Hike began. He has raised over $100,000 and will continue to give donations to struggling military families along the way.
Donations can now be made at drumhike.com. Supporters can text SOLDIERS to 20222 to automatically donate $5.
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