Friday, February 18, 2011

Nouri threatens 'troublemakers' and false arrests take place

Yesterday, the pesh merga opened fire on protesters in Sulaimaniyah. Tracey Shelton (Press TV -- link has text and video -- including video of the shooting) reports on the attack and counts four dead. The protest took place outside the KDP political party (headed by KRG President Massoud Barzani). Aljazeera reports that today the headquarters of Goran (emerging political party, backed by the CIA) were looted in Arbil and Dohuk. Al Arabiya News Channel adds, "Goran has denied any involvement in Thursday's demonstration, which left two dead, men aged 18 and 25, and 54 wounded, according to provincial health chief Raykot Hama Rashid, when security forces fired into the air to disperse crowds."

Protests went on and are going on throughout Iraq. Al Mada reports that yesterday in Kut (Wasit Province), demonstrators pitched tents to prepare for a sit-in calling for their demands to be met. Activist Abu Karar lists their demands starting with the governor stepping down and all detainees being immediately released before noting the unemployment situation and the ration card system. And Al Mada notes that protests over those demands and the lack of basic services have taken place in Baghdad, Karbala, Najaf, Maysan, Basra, Mosul, Diwaniya, Kirkuk, Babil and Muthanna. Aslumaria TV notes that protests are going on in Kut today, confirms that the governor fled the city yesterday and notes Nouri al-Maliki is supposed to visit the province. Al Mada notes Nouri has declared that "troublemakers" will be punished. Al Mada also reports a "campaign of arrests" is taking place in Kut.

Al Mannarah reports that the Kurdistan Alliance has issued a warning to Nouri al-Maliki that unless fuel prices are reduced and new power stations set up, the Kut demonstrations will spread throughout the provinces and cities of Iraq. (Wednesday, the protesters were fired upon by guards and Iraqi forces -- after being fired upon, they stormed the provincial government building -- which ended up on fire -- and stormed the home of the governor.) Kitabat (link goes to main page, I'm not able to find an individual link, so scroll down for story) features an essay decrying false arrests on the pretext of inciting riots in Diwaniya, Kut, Nasiriyah and Sulaymaniyah and notes that the Iraqi people have been pushed into fighting for the nobel goals and demanding the gith to live free and that the right to protest is not given by any body or Constitution but is a natural right which does not require government approval or a paper from the Ministry of the Interior (with a sidebar note that Nouri hasn't appointed a minister for the ministry -- sidebar note by Kitabat). The essay argues that if Nouri can't make change happen, then he needs to step down and Parliament needs to provide leadership and follow the model of Jaafar al-Sadr (yesterday he noted his resignation in solidarity with the Iraqi people) because the Iraqi people are the legitimate rulers of Iraq.

Iraq youth February 25th

Iraq's college-age youth are calling for protest to continue with a large turnout on the 25th of this month, primarily in Baghdad.

In other news, Anna Mulrine (Christian Science Monitor) observes, "It is looking increasingly likely that American troops will stay in Iraq beyond December 2011 scheduled date of withdrawal for the US military – a prospect that appears to be gaining bipartisan support in Congress." A morning where we had more time would allow more on the article but it's built around Gates in the Wednesday hearing (that's covered in that day's snapshot with a full transcript of the exchange between Gates and Duncan Hunter) and yesterday's announcement by US House Rep Adam Smith (Democrat) that he thought Iraq would be asking the US to extend their military agreement. (The article also reflects a development which the editorial board noted months ago though few seemed to pay attention at the time.) The news isn't pretty. From the Democratic Party, there is silence. From the Republicans, there is silence. From the Green Party? Silence. At the libertarian think tank Cato Institute, Christopher Preble weighs in and his observations include:

This assumes that, first, U.S. troops can provide this stability, and second that our strategic interests in Iraq are on par with those in other parts of the world. But leaving U.S. troops in Iraq for another two, five, or seven years will not advance American security. It is not now, and should never have been, the responsibility of U.S. troops to create a functioning state in Iraq. That is the responsibility of the Iraqi people and their government. Likewise, our troops should not serve as Iraq's police force.
There is no doubt that there are political and security challenges in Iraq, but these concerns should not delay the withdrawal. There will always be excuses, especially from those who favored the war at the outset, for a continued presence. And these risks will persist no matter how long U.S. troops stay. The future of Iraq lies with the people of Iraq, and it is well past the time when they must take the reins.
A handover of security responsibilities to the Iraqi people is in America's strategic interest. As we are currently seeing with European defense budgets, the United States has been in the business of doing for other governments what they should be doing for themselves. Now would be a good time to start to change this pattern.

TV notes. Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen are Jeanne Cummings (Politico), John Dickerson (CBS News, Slate), Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times) and Jim Sciutto (ABC News). Gwen's latest column is "Meaning What You Say." Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Cari Dominguez, Barbara Lee, Irene Natividad and Genevieve Wood to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. Sunday on CBS' 60 Minutes:

The Spark
Bob Simon reports from Tunisia, where protests against the repressive government not only toppled its autocratic ruler, but sparked the uprising in Egypt that forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign.

Scott Brown: Against All Odds
The Massachusetts senator describes his traumatic childhood, including revelations of sexual and physical abuse. Lesley Stahl reports.

The King's Speech
"60 Minutes" talks to its starring actor, Colin Firth, and reports on the historic find in an attic that helped make the "The King's Speech" an Oscar favorite. Scott Pelley reports.

"60 Minutes," Sunday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Radio. The Diane Rehm Show begins broadcasting on most NPR stations (and streaming live online) at 10:00 am EST. The first hour (domestic) features panelists John Dickerson (CBS News and Slate), Susan Page (USA Today) and Jerry Seib (Wall St. Journal). The second hour (international) features panelists Abderrahim Foukara (Al Jazeera), Susan Glasser (Foreign Policy) and David E. Sanger (New York Times).

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