Saturday, February 12, 2011

Slammed by a bombing, secret talks to extend SOFA

Salahudin Province was slammed with a suicide bombing today. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports, "At least 38 people were killed and 74 others wounded Saturday when a suicide bomber stepped onto a bus carrying Shiite pilgrims in Iraq and detonated himself, police officials said." Al Rafidayn notes that the military states the suicide bomber's explosive vest had at least 10 kilograms of explosives (approximately 22 pounds).Lu Hui (Xinhua)adds, "The pilgrims were heading to the shrine city to observe a religious ceremony that marks the death of Imam Hassan al-Askari at his tomb in the shrine of Ali al-Hadi in the Sunni dominated city. The shrine of Ali al-Hadi is one of the four most revered Shiite shrines in Iraq. It contains the tombs of Ali al-Hadi, who died in 868 A.D., and Hisson Hassan al-Askari who died in 874 A.D." Jack Healy (New York Times) observes, "It was the second attack in three days against Shiite pilgrims near Samarra, whose gold-domed shrine was damaged in a 2006 bombing that led to waves of sectarian killings between Iraq's Sunni and Shiite populations."

Yes, the ethnic cleansing of 2006 and 2007. Today, Al Rafidayn reports, a mass grave was discovered in Baquba wih 153 corpses -- thought to be part of the 2006 and 2007 blood letting. Supposedly, the police got a confession from someone they had arrested two weeks ago (this is according to Maj Gen Abdul Hussein al-Shammari) and that allowed them to find the bodies. Australia's ABC reminds "it is unclear who is responsible for the deaths."

Let's move over to Iraqi politics. Ayad Allawi is playing hardball. Recap: the March 2010 elections found Iraqiya -- a political slate headed by Allawi -- garnering the most votes (this was even after Nouri was able to 'massage' tallies in some areas). For nine months, Nouri pulled one stunt after another and finally won the blessing of the Kurds to become prime minister-designate. Unable to actually meet the requirements to move to prime minister, he was still dependent upon the Kurds (who follow US orders because they still believe they're going to get Kirkuk any day now) to go along with the pretense that he'd named a full Cabinet. Iraqiya was supposed to see members whom Nouri smeared to prevent them from running for office get their names cleared and a National Council -- on security issues -- was supposed to be created with Allawi being in charge. No National Council has been created in the months since the agreement was announced (November). Dar Addustour reports Allawi's now threatening to bail on the agreement and also making noises about taking down with him some of the concessions the Kurds wanted. Al Rafidyan reports that MP Talal al-Zobaie (of the National Alliance) has dismissed Allawi's remarks as "threats" and insists that Allawi should be focusing on the issue of services to the people. Ayas Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) reports that Said Khoshnaw (Kurdish Alliance member and MP) is denying reports about where his loyalties lie and maintaining that Article 140 (Kirkuk's status) will be implemented and that pressure on the US government will ensure that it is. Sounds like someone took Joe Biden's promises seriously. The question now is, did the White House take Biden seriously?

White House? Al Mada notes the secret talks taking place to extend the Status Of Forces Agreement and cites Qassim Mohammed Jalal as the source for the extension meetings currently taking place between Nouri's reps and the US inside the Green Zone. Qassam Mohammed Jalal is part of the National Coalition. He is a member of Parliament's Commission on Security and Defense. How long before the US media gets around to noting the meetings to extend the SOFA? Maybe January 2012?

Something else you most likely won't find in the US media is that today is the Iraq Communist Party's Martyr's Day. And on his day, Al Mada reports, the Party has issued a strong critique of the current government saying that malicious diseases entered the process and partisanship trumped Iraq's needs which is "the mid-wife" for further pain for the people of Iraq which will include poor services, a deteriorating standard of living and more government corruption.

Tomorrow on Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox (radio program) she interviews Cindy Corrie (Rachel Corrie's mother). It streams at 2:00 pm PST and then is archived. We'll close with this from "A Debate on Violence: Ted Rall and David Swanson" (War Is A Crime):

Ted Rall's new book "The Anti-American Manifesto" advocates for violent revolution, even if we have to join with rightwingers and racists to do it, and even if we have no control over the outcome which could easily be something worse than what we've got. We have a moral duty, Rall argues, to kill some people.
Now, I much prefer a debate over what radical steps to take to a debate over whether it's really appropriate for President Obama to whine about people's lack of enthusiasm for voting. Should we try to pep people up for him or gently nudge him to appoint a new chief of staff who's not a vicious warmongering corporatist? Decisions. Decisions.
Rall's book is packed with great analysis of our current state and appropriate moral outrage. I highly recommend it for the clear-eyed survey of the tides in this giant pot of slowly boiling water where we float and kick about like frogs. To an Obama proposal to create 17,000 jobs, Rall replies:
"The U.S. economy needs to add one hundred thousand new jobs a month to keep up with population growth and keep the unemployment rate even. At this writing, in March 2010, it would require four hundred thousand new jobs each month for three years to get back to December 2007.
"Seventeen thousand jobs? Was Obama still using drugs?"
I recommend Rall's manifesto as a call to action. The only question is what action?

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