Monday, February 14, 2011

Protesters take to the streets of Baghdad

Al Rafidayn reports young Iraqis demonstrated in Baghad today as parrt of the "Young February 14" calling for the government to deliver basic services, address unemployment, stamp out corruption and for the Sabir al-Issawi, Secretary of Baghdad, to resign. Al Rafidayn notes that the Iraqis used Facebook to organize. Baghdad has seen demonstrations for weeks now including Friday and -- in the al Sadr section -- Saturday. (Friday also saw demonstrations in Basra, Nasiriyah, Mosul and Wasit -- yesterday's Mosul demonstration is the one in which a man was said to have set himself on fire and burned to death in protest against the unemployment rate). Azzaman notes that the plan for today's protest in Baghdad is for the protest to continue each day through February 25th and notes that a protest is taking place in Ramadi as well. Azzaman also notes that the family of Mohammed Abdul Munir (who set himself on fire yesterday) has been promised "a monthly stipend." Meanwhile Al Rafidayn reports that, in Najaf, the leader of the al-Sadr's bloc there has called for demonstrations against the lack of basic services and also against the continued occupation of Iraq by the United States. The leader read a statement from Moqtada al-Sadr in which he noted that these protests would be the voice of "the oppressed against the oppressor."

Today Alsumaria TV reports that Nouri al-Maliki has sworn the electricity crisis in Iraq will be over in twelve months . . . or 20. He's really not sure. 12 or 20. A year or two. (Estimates last month were 2014.) Nouri first became prime minister in April 2006. He's had all that time to address this crisis.

Al Mannarah reported Saturday that rocket and mortar attacks have been increasing on US bases and that Friday the US military base in Dhi Qar saw "heavy rocket fire."

Bonnie notes that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Little Julie From Jolly Farm" went up last night, Kat's "Kat's Korner: PJ Harvey sets the standard" went up earlier that morning and Betty's "Betinna's fall" went up last night. This week on Law and Disorder Radio (begins airing this morning on WBAI at 9:00 EST and around the country throughout the week), Michael Ratner, Heidi Boghosian and Michael S. Smith address the Mexican revolution with historian Dr. James Cockcroft and Gaza with history professor Illan Pappe. We'll close with this from Gareth Porter's "Shattering the Myth of Taliban / Al Qaeda Ties" (World Can't Wait):

The central justification of the U.S.-NATO war against the Afghan Taliban - that the Taliban would allow al Qaeda to return to Afghanistan - has been challenged by new historical evidence of offers by the Taliban leadership to reconcile with the Hamid Karzai government after the fall of the Taliban government in late 2001.

The evidence of the Taliban peace initiatives comes from a new paper drawn from the first book-length study of Taliban- al Qaeda relations thus far, as well as an account in another recent study on the Taliban in Kandahar province by journalist Anand Gopal.

In a paper published Monday by the Center on International Cooperation at New York University, Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn recount the decision by the Taliban leadership in 2002 to offer political reconciliation with the U.S.-backed Afghan administration.

Citing an unidentified former Taliban official who participated in the decision, they report that the entire senior Taliban political leadership met in Pakistan in November 2002 to consider an offer of reconciliation with the new Afghan government in which they would "join the political process" in Afghanistan.

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