Saturday, March 26, 2011

Protests, Parliament and Ali al-Lami's banning again

Yesterday it was raining in Baghdad. Young and old Iraqi people gathered in Tahrir square in center of Baghdad, hundreds of Iraqis demonstrate in central Baghdad under the slogan “Friday of accountability” demanding the release of detainees and the prosecution of corrupt officials.
The Iraqi demonstrator has to walk for few miles to get to the square, after the Iraqi government forces closed several streets with barbed wires, one of them is an Iraqi young blogger who is a college student and work as a free lance reporter in free time to make a living, he had been beaten twice by the army in the past weeks demonstrations. He and other Iraqi bloggers and activists had received death threats via SMS messages and on their Facebook accounts. They do not know who sent these threats but they heard stories about some official personalities keeping a close eye on the activists activities on the internet. These threats did not stop them to stand under the rain raising slogans calling for reform and change the system in the face of rampant corruption circles in the state. Surrounded by the military vehicles escorted by detachments of the security force to report the news of the demonstrations is not an easy job ,the writer of this article received 2 threats from unknowns on facebook after posting an updates on the demonstrations.

The above is from Wamith Al-Kassab's "Baghdad: Demonstrations in the rain" (Mideast Youth) on yesterday's protests. The groups leading the protests issued the following statement:

After suffering which has lasted eight years, during which our lives and dignity were violated, our livelihoods and our wealth plundered, and the happiness and futures of our children stolen, in the shadow of great oppression, a period the Iraqi people dealt with great ...patience and with their known steadfastness in facing crises; the moment has come in which the Youth of Iraq has broken the silence, and has decided to choose to demonstrate , to strike at oppressors and corrupt, and to state quite bluntly that patience has its limits and that the rights of nations will not be lost; so the Great Rage Revolution was born and crowned the popular movement which has lasted for years.

This is a day which has gone down in the annals of history and whose letters have been engraved with light, that recounted the epics of the nation that rose from its north to the very tips of its south, challenging live ammunition and state repression; it offered more than 20 martyrs of its finest rebell sons; this day has become the turning point in the history of the Iraqi People…. The day we rose against our bad reality; when we attacked great injustice which affected us all, and we came out from being a great silent marginalized majority to a majority that fills the spaces with the sound of justice, that registers an impressive presence which attracts the world’s interest.
Based on the foregoing, we say to the free-spirited and defiant youth of Iraq, out of loyalty to the blood - shed by our martyrs and the demands of our patient people, and after lengthy examination of the previous phase, an assessment of our achievements, and taking stock of our failures, we have come out with important matters that we hope everyone will uphold, and take into consideration:

First: The media is half the battle, and is a necessity for those who have the right to promote their cause, and because the media is busy, at present, covering many events in the world, we suggest that we work, during the next phase, on intensifying the building-up for a great demonstration, as was the case before the Rage Uprising on the 25th February.

Secondly: The build – up for the demonstration on 9.4.2011, the painful anniversary of the occupation of Iraq, which happens to be a Saturday, paying special attention to the fact that the central demonstration will be in Baghdad, the Capital, in Tahrir Square, in order to forestall any party attempting to exploit events for their own special interests, far away from the higher interests of the Iraqi People.

Third: We hope that our people will not repeat the 25th February scenes, and that this time round, they will remain in the Square for a long period of time, to dominate it and thus manufacture the event which will force those concerned to listen to our demands as well as for the media to promote the justice of our demands.

Fourth: Avoid clashing with security forces as much as possible, because as a result of our short experience in demonstrations, they do not possess any other language than brute force when dealing with any protests; and try to deal with them in such manner that assures them, which will force them to deal positively with demonstrators.

Fifth: Form committees to control the anger of the demonstrators - as much as possible, especially in the provinces in order to avoid the burning down of government offices and the destruction of public property, upholding our commitment to demonstrate peacefully, so as not to give the opportunity to those who call the revolutionaries vandals ignoring the reasons for such condemnable actions, despite our understanding of the reasons which caused some people to carry out such acts.

Sixth: We call on all Iraqi communities all over the world and in particular those communities who live in countries where international decisions are made, to move and to support us in our demands; to demonstrate in front of Iraqi Embassies in these countries constitutes pressure on the government as well as the occupation; in addition to embarrassing it internationally especially on presenting the photographs of the government’s latest crimes and its suppression of the demonstrators, in order to benefit from the present international atmosphere which condemns every government that suppresses its people who demonstrate peacefully.

In conclusion, we are announcing to the corrupt Green Zone government and to all the sectarian and ethnic political parties and at their forefront, the top of the government pyramid, that we hold him legally responsible for the death of the 25th February martyrs, the coming of a summer much hotter than the one Iraqis suffer without electricity and cold water; we demand that they respond immediately to the demands of the Iraqi People and leave governance to the Iraqi People who have publicly regretted their choice, rather than continue arrogantly in the charade, and we tell them: "today, you may still have the opportunity to do the aforementioned, but no one can guarantee you what will happen tomorrow or the day after at the latest, for darkness possesses one round but right possesses rounds, and that the change that the people are seeking is inevitably coming.

Glory and Eternity to Iraq’s Martyrs.
Glory and Eternity to the Martyrs of the Rage Rebellion


1- The Great Iraqi Revolution
2- The 25th February Alliance
3- People’s Movement to Save Kirkuk
4- Free Iraq Students and Youth Organization

Al Mada reports that Babacar Zebari, the Iraqi Army's Chief of Staff, has declared that Iraq is ready to face any emergency internally. It's a sad statement on Iraq's 'government' that they have to boast of being able to defend themselves from internal threats (that would be their own people). It's equally true that there is still no Minister of Homeland Security.

Meanwhile David Ali (Al Rafidayn) reports that the protests and the inability to function are leading some political blocs to speak of ending the partnership government. "Informed sources" (unnamed) tell Ali that the Ayad Allawi has been to Najaf to meet with Moqtada al-Sadr and that there is talk between blocs of forming a new government. Nouri has been unable to name the Ministers of Homeland Security, Interior or Defense and Ali al-Lami is stating that some of the nominees cannot be approved. In late 2009 and early 2010, Ali al-Lami and Ahmed Chalabi used the Justice and Accountability Ministry to prevent several viable candidates from running. They hurled false accusations of "Ba'athist" repeatedly as they banned one candidate after another. One of the things Iraqiya thought they won in November (Iraqiya won the most votes of any slate in the March 7, 2010 elections) was that the false charges had been cleared when Parliament met. Apparently, that doesn't prevent al-Lami from lodging new charges. And that's despite the fact that Parliament has been exploring doing away with the Committee. Al Rafidayn reports that a meeting took place of Iraqiya leaders in Jordan, called by Saleh al-Mutlaq (one of the candidates banned in the 2010 elections by the Justice and Accountability Ministry) and other participants are said to have included Osama al-Najafi (Speaker of Parliament), Dhafer al-Ani and Jamal Karbouli. Ayad Allawi is said to have not been present for the meet up. The unnamed official detailing the meeting to the paper insists that Allawi is seen as weak and giving in to compromises when he should have fought. Iraqiya's spokesperson states that Ayad Allawi took his name out of the running for chairing the National (Security) Council due to the fact that a vote on the Council was delayed repeatedly. The spokesperson notes that Iraqiya has not nominated anyone new to the position. Dar Addustour reports that Ali al-Lami has declared nominee Khalid al-Obeidi cannot be the Minister of Defense because he was an officer during the former government. Which apparently will rule out all candidates with military experience.

Meanwhile the Integrity Commission continues its work. Dar Addustour reports that they are focusing on four issues: the explosive detectors (wands on which Iraq wasted money because they did not detect bombs), a deal for a civilian airplane, a deal for a military airplane and the "10 by 10 in Sadr City." On the wands that did not work, Maj Gen Jihad al-Jabri of the Ministry of the Interior has been forbidden to leave the country until the Commission completes their investigation.

A number of visitors are repeatedly e-mailing a New York Times story (and not just the ones who e-mail it to try to get you to give them your bank account number -- NYT needs to stop the spamming in their "E-mail article" function). I saw it. I read it. We didn't note it. The article revolves around two "brothers" (two boys who are friends) who were injured a few years back in a bombing. We've noted many of the victims of bombings -- usually via regional press in the US and the BBC outside the US. My problem with this article? Since this site started, I have repeatedly called out the New York Times' early coverage of the Iraq War in which all Iraqi women were disappeared. They weren't victims, they weren't people on the streets who could be quoted, they weren't anything. They did not exist. Considering the BBC's lengthy report on the children of Iraq who have lost limbs (which we highlighted last summer) managed to find boys and girls (the bombs are not gender restricted), I didn't see the point in another This Boy's Life moment brought to us by the New York Times.

The New York Times has never reported on the Parliament shutting down for ten days. Or that the Speaker's office denied they were shut down. From Monday's snapshot:

'Those reports weren't true!' That's what Dar Addoustor reports the office of Parliament's Speaker Osama al-Najafi is saying regarding the report that Parliament has suspended sessions until March 27th. Of course, the denial only comes after the massive protests on Saturday by Iraqis outraged that Parliament was taking a break when they were supposed to be addressing the problems Iraqi face. Saturday protests continued in Iraq. Aswat al-Iraq reports protesters in Rawa called for "the release of detainees, employment and public services." Alsumaria TV reported Baghdad protesters affirmed they would continue protesting until goals were met, Ramadi protesters "called for the topple of Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki's government. Demonstrators accused Iraqi Parliament of focusing on the situation in Bahrain and neglecting people's demands in Iraq."

Dar Addustour reports that Parliament resumes "Sunday, after its holiday which lasted 10 days and which caused controvery in popular and political circles." Reuters notes a Baghdad car bombing claimed the life of 1 university professor and left three more people injured, that 1 Iraqi military officer was shot dead in Mosul and that a Baghdad clash at an Iraqi military checkpoint resulted in the death of 1 soldier and two people being injured.

Lastly, if you served in the US military and you were stop-lossed, you are owed additional money. That money needs to be claimed. DoD announces the date to file for that additional payment has been extended:

The deadline for eligible service members, veterans and their beneficiaries to apply for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay (RSLSP) has been extended to April 8, 2011, allowing personnel more time to apply for the benefits they've earned under the program guidelines.
The deadline extension is included in the continuing resolution signed by President Obama Friday, providing funding for federal government operations through April 8, 2011.
Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay was established to compensate for the hardships military members encountered when their service was involuntarily extended under Stop Loss Authority between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009. Eligible members or their beneficiaries may submit a claim to their respective military service in order to receive the benefit of $500 for each full or partial month served in a Stop Loss status.
When RSLSP began on Oct. 21, 2009, the services estimated 145,000 service members, veterans and beneficiaries were eligible for this benefit. Because the majority of those eligible had separated from the military, the services have engaged in extensive and persistent outreach efforts to reach them and remind them to apply. Outreach efforts including direct mail, engaging military and veteran service organizations, social networks and media outlets, will continue through April 8, 2011.
To apply for more information, or to gather more information on RSLSP, including submission requirements and service-specific links, go to

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