Friday, February 11, 2011

Continued protests in the streets of Iraq

Yesterday attorneys led protests in Baghdad, Basra and Mosul. Alsumara TV notes, "The wave of demonstrations in Iraq does not only stir up underprivileged. Iraqi lawmakers staged a protest on Thursday in Baghdad against the ruling of the Iraqi Government to ban access for citizens and lawyers into State institutions mainly the Trade Ministry directorates. [. . .] Demonstrators believe that banning them from accessing state directorates to follow up their clients’ formalities is an invitation for corruption." Al Rafidayn reports on the 500 in Baghdad and notes that 200 also demonstrated in Karbala and in Kut which saw two different protests -- one by attorneys. Haider Roa ( adds demonstrations also took place in Samawah, Kut, Amara, Diwaniyah and Ramadi yesterday. Al Mada adds that the Islamic Supreme Council has declared it will protect any Iraqi who is protesting against the government's policies. Ammar al-Hakim, president of the Islamic Supreme Council, is warning that the government needs to start providing the basic services, providing jobs and end the corruption. He issued a call for the security forces of Iraq to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Iraqi people and ensure they are protected during demonstrations and marches. He demanded that Iraqi officials stop offering easy and false assurances of improvements and actually deliver improvements. In response, Baghdad Operations Command agreed that they will protect Iraqi citizens who are taking part in demonstrations. Alsumaria TV adds, "Head of Islamic Supreme Council Sayyed Ammar Al Hakim rebuked the way Iraqi officials including Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki are dealing with the concerns and interests of Iraqis. Al Hakim called to deal more seriously with people’s demands and restrain from fake vows and pledges, he said."

In other news, Al Mada reports the Health and Environment Committee in the Maysan Province is warning of an impending environmental disaster as a result of the continued influx of contaminated water from Iran. The salt in the water, is threatening farming and and animals, the committee learned on a visit to Amara. Still on water news, Water World reports:

On Thursday, 10 February 2011, Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey presented the report "The Blue Peace: Rethinking Middle East Water" to the Swiss Press Club in Geneva. Supported by Switzerland and by the Swedish government, the report compiles a list of 10 recommendations whose objective is to contribute to building peace and to reducing the conflicts in the Middle East thanks to a sustainable trans-border management of water in the region.
On Thursday, 10 February 2011, the "Blue Peace" report was officially presented by Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey. The document assesses the principal challenges linked to the trans-border management of resources. At present a factor of division and tension, water harbours the potential of becoming an instrument of peace and cooperation. This emerges as the report's central thesis. Subsequently, it compiles a list of ten recommendations, calculated in the short, medium, and long terms, which are aimed to lead to pragmatic solutions.
Water resources in the Middle East are subject to an unprecedented pressure which is threatening the populations of entire regions along with their economic activities. Population growth, migration, urbanization, and climate change are all exerting an enormous impact on these resources. In fact, over the last 50 years, the flow rate of numerous rivers in turkey, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan has plunged by 50 to 90 percent. And yet at the same time, the sustainable management of trans-border water resources is vital to provide for the requirements of agriculture, the need for clean drinking water, and for socio-economic development in general. It is key to avoiding human tragedy and to fostering the promotion of peace.

AFP also notes
the joint Swiss and Swedish report adds, "Downstream territories such as Israel, Jordan and Palestinian territories were in the worst position with mounting clean water deficits of up to 500-700 million cubic metres each. The report also argued that technical solutions such as desalination or wastewater recycling in Israel would ultimately have limited scope."

In other news, Al Rafidayn reports that Behouz Aziz Older, a journalist in northen Iraq, is said to have taken his own life after being discovered hanged in a cemetary. His funeral services were yesterday.

TV notes. Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen are Dan Balz (Los Angeles Times), Helene Cooper (New York Times), Yochi Dreazen (National Journal) and John Harwood (New York Times). Gwen's latest column is "Sending Signals." Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Gretchen Hamel, Avis Jones-DeWeever, Kim Gandy and Star Parker to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight.

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