Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf reported from Baghdad that the situation was heading towards a stand-off, as security forces demanded the protesters leave, blocking their route across a bridge leading to the Green Zone, where the government has its base.
Concrete blocks were set up by authorities on all of Baghdad's bridges ahead of the protests.
"What we're seeing here is a bit of a test, of how the government will respond when these people clearly want their demands to be heard," Arraf said.
The above is from the Tehran Times' "Protesters converge on Iraq capital" about yesterday's protests in Iraq. Protests took place across the country. Aswat al-Iraq reports that al-Nasseriya saw "hundreds" of protesters -- male except for one lone female, Shaza al-Qaysi who states, "I protest with the others here to support their legitimate demands that are no longer confined to local boundaries but rather became national." She also notes the high rate of illiteracy among women in her region and literacy is among the calls she's making. While women outnumber men in al-Nasseriya, activist Hussein al-Ghozzi notes that the placards with demands contained no calls "for women's or children's rights". Michael Hoffman (Army Times) reports on another protest, one visible from the US Contingency Operating Base Delta:
U.S. Army officers watched protesters in nearby Al Kut burn down the provincial governor's home during unrest that turned violent Feb. 17. The officers watched via drone feeds broadcast into the tactical operations center on base.
Reports rolled in that three protesters died and more than 50 were injured. U.S. Army leaders here couldn't do much more than watch. That shouldn't be misconstrued as callousness, said Lt. Col. J. Bryan Mullins, commander of 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment's 2nd Squadron. U.S. soldiers deployed to Iraq live under a new set of rules since the start of Operation New Dawn and the end of the combat mission in August.
Now put that on hold for just one second, we will come back to it. At Global Research, a report on the various protests can be found and this is the intro to it (intro written by Dirk Adriaensens):
The second day of “National Rage” in Iraq produced again big demonstrations in all major cities in Iraq. The relevance of these protest movements cannot be underestimated. These protest are nationwide, not sectarian. The Iraqi youth, main instigators of this movement, are challenging the sectarian Iraqi Quisling government and counter American and Iranian plans for the country: no partitioning of Iraq, but electricity, jobs, clean water, free healthcare and education. No to corruption, no to summary executions and death squads. No to state-sponsored terror. These Iraqi demonstrators want a unified Iraq and want the money of their oil being used for public services. I’ve been following the events today with great admiration and hope, hope for change, hope that the Iraqi people can reverse - as one nation - the deadly spiral of ethnic cleansing, sectarianism, despair and the culture of death, imported by the US horsemen of the apocalypse.
Underneath are a reflection from an Iraqi activist: Asma Al Haidari and an account of our Spanish friends from SCOSI (Spanish Campaign against the Occupation and for the Sovereignty of Iraq).
Once again the Western media are strikingly absent, probably following instructions from His Master’s Voice.
And that is really true. We've noted the exceptions before of US outlets. (In terms of print, it's really just the Washington Post.) But here's reality, what Michael Hoffman's describing? That's what Joe Biden described. In 2008. As the worst-case scenario for Iraq. Anyone in the press note that? If they did, they didn't do so publicly.
Iraq is now reaching Joe Biden's worst case scenario. And the US is still there (with the plans to offer an excuse to the public in a few more months about why the US will remain in Iraq). Who's noting his worse case scenario?
We'll go into it in detail in Monday's Iraq snapshot. That'll give the US media a little more time to see if they can find public statements made by sitting US senators in a year when they run for their party's presidential nomination. Point being, it was made publicly. Where the hell's the media? As usual, where the hell is the US media?
As noted before, the Washington Post has done all the heavy lifting on Iraq for two weeks now (of US outlets -- Iraqi outlets have done their own heavy lifting). In tomorrow's paper, the editorial board notes, "Some worry that is where Mr. Maliki is headed. As The Post's Stephanie McCrummen reported , some of the repression has been carried out by black-suited special forces under his command. Thanks to a favorable court decision, the prime minister has been moving to take control of electoral authorities and other previously independent bodies. Mr. Allawi announced that he was withdrawing from a national policy council because Mr. Maliki had not followed through on promises to give it real authority." Again, we've pretty much arrived at Joe Biden's worst case scenario. Joe's no longer a senator, he's now the Vice President of the United States. You'd think that would attract some attention from the press.
Journalists were beaten in Basra (at least five) for attempting to do their job. Alsumaria TV notes, "Basra journalists decided to boycott all the activities of Basra Police until dismissing anti-riot Forces Chief after five of them were beaten during demonstrations. The administrative committee of Journalists Syndicate in Basra called on Basra Police Forces to compensate for journalists. "
In other news, Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports that Baghdad vendors and shopkeepers joke about suing Facebook as a result of the lack of business resulting from the curfew imposed by Nouri over the protest. (Facebook was one of the tools used to get the word out on yesterday's rallies.) David Ali (Al Mada) adds that Osama al-Nujaifi, Speaker of Parliament, held a news conference today announcing that the Parliament had received reports back from the protests as a result of various MPs being present in their own provinces Friday. He's calling for investigations and committees. Meanwhile, Aswat al-Iraq informs, Moqtada al-Sadr says he'll protest . . . if nothing changes . . . in six months. Was Moqtada al-Sadr sent back to Iraq by his Iranian handlers solely to tamp down on the protests? It would appear so. Government can't clean up the streets but al-Sadr's turned his followers into sanitation workers. New Sabah reports that in Karbala, al-Sadr's followers took to the streets, on his orders, to clean up the streets. Next up, he'll have them out at Baghdad Airport selling flowers and serving up recruitment literature.
Turning to news of violence, Aswat al-Iraq reports 2 people were shot dead and three left injured outside Baquba when theyw ere attacked by unknown assailants, a Baquba sticky bombing claimed 1 life, that the Iraqi military stormed a Mosul home and shot dead a man they suspected of plotting a suicide bombing. Deng Shasha (Xinhua) adds, Sahwa member Jasim Zayd was shot dead in Baquba, a Tuz-Kurmato roadside bombing hit Police Chief Col Ali al-Baiyati's convory injuing six bodyguards and an Anbar Province roadsidee bombing left five police officers injured.
March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.
The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.
While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.
Actions of civil resistance are spreading.
On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.
Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.
Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.
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the tehran times
aswat al iraq