Wednesday, March 16, 2011

She gave birth this morning, she was killed this afternoon

Today Kirkuk has been slammed with a car bombing. AFP reports that at least twenty-two people are injured and 1 woman is dead. In an update, AFP quotes Kirkuk police Gen Adel Zinalabedine stating that the number wounded has risen to thirty-three and that, "The car bombing outside the hospital killed a 35-year-old mother and her baby daughter. She had given birth this morning and was leaving the hospital." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) adds that the wounded includes seven police officers. Kirkuk is not only oil-rich, it is also disputed with the KRG claiming it is their land and the central government or 'government' out of Baghdad claiming it belongs to them. Aswat al-Iraq quotes Brigadier Sarhad Qader stating that the bomb was "targeted against the Director of Kirkuk's Water Office, Abdul-Qader Mohammed Amin." Just yesterday AFP reported that Kirkuk's provinical council head Rizkar Ali Hamma had announced he quit his post citing the "lack of solutions for Kirkuk" and that this was followed by the governor of Kirkuk, Abdul Rahman Mustapha, stating he would do the same in the coming days.

The issue of Kirkuk has long been divisive -- so much so, that the 2005 Constitution (which Iraq now operates under -- or is supposed to) addressed the issue. Per the Constitution, a census was supposed to be taken of the region and a referendum held. That was supposed to take place by 2007.

2007 came and went. Nouri al-Maliki was prime minister then. He became prime minister in the spring of 2006. He didn't meet the deadline. When the Democrats won control of both houses in the US Congress and began making noises about ending the war, the White House (Bush administration) came up with a list of benchmarks that Iraq would meet to show progress. If Iraq didn't meet those benchmarks, funding was supposed to cease. Nouri agreed to the benchmarks and then ignored them. Kirkuk was one of the benchmarks. Never met but the funding continued.

In the lead up to the last provincial elections, Nouri was promising the issue would be delt with (January 2009 was when those provincial elections were held). Didn't happen. Most recently, while attempting to secure the post of prime minister for more four years, Nouri was insisting that the census would be held in December 2010. Days before it was time for the census, and just a little while after he was named prime minister-designate, Nouri called off the census. It's 2011. The Constitutionally mandated census and referendum is four years overdue.

Meanwhile Iraq remains without a full Cabinet and the posts of Minister of the Interior, Minister of Defense and Minister of National Security remain empty. The March 7, 2010 elections were supposed to determine Iraq's next government and, over a year later, there's still no fully staffed Cabinet. Security positions might be considered important at a time when the violence is on the rise (31 people are said to have died last week). Aswat al-Iraq reports that MP Hussein al-Safi is stating Nouri will make his nominations for the empty posts to Parliament tomorrow and "the National Coalition had supported the nomination of Ahmed al-Chalaby for the Interior Minister's post and Riyadh Gharib for the National Security Minister's post, whilst al-Iraqiya Coalition (led by Iyad Allawi), had finalized its decision to nominate Khalid al-Obeidy for the Defense Minister's post." Maybe tomorrow will be the day? Equally true, that day has supposedly been coming over and over and over for months now. New Sabah also reports that al-Obeidi will be nominated for Minister of Defense. Dar Addustour reports all the same nominees -- not just al-Obeidi -- and notes that al-Obeidi was a commander in the Iraqi army and is now a professor at the University of Mosul.

While three may or may not be named tomorrow, Ayas Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) reports on what appears to be efforts to oust Mohammed Tamim as Minister of Education. News of the ration card system appears to be bad and David Ali (Al Mada) reports the biggest threat to the program is officials who do not know how to properly store the goods which is allowing much of it to spoil.

The food rations rot like the illegal war itself. In the United States, the eighth anniversary will be marked with protests. A.N.S.W.E.R. and March Forward! and others will be taking part in these action:

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.

We'll close with this from David Swanson's "Is Obama Even Worse Than Bush?" (War Is A Crime):

When I advocated the impeachment of George W. Bush, I did so despite, not because of, all the animosity it fueled among impeachment supporters. I didn't want retribution. I wanted to deter the continuation and repetition of Bush's crimes and abuses. Specifically, and by far most importantly -- and I said this thousands of times -- I wanted to deny all future presidents the powers Bush had grabbed. One-time abuses can be catastrophic, but establishing the power to repeat them can multiply the damage many fold, especially when one of the powers claimed is the power to create new powers.
There's a common tendency to confuse politics with reality television shows or to imagine that politicians are, even more than fictional heroes, your own personal friends. This tendency is only compounded by the partisan framework in which we are instructed to imagine half the politicians as purely evil and the other half as essentially good. So, let's be clear. There's very little question that Barack Obama speaks more eloquently than Bush, and that Obama at times (and more so as a candidate than as a president) expresses far kinder and wiser sentiments than Bush. It seems quite likely to me that had Obama been made president in 2000 he would have done far less damage than Bush by 2008. Obama is probably a fun guy to play basketball with, while Bush might be expected to throw elbows, kick opponents, and pull your shorts down. But I'm interested in something more important than the spectacle of personality here. I think Obama would make a wonderful powerless figurehead, and I dearly wish that were what he was. I think Americans clearly need one.
Three rough ways of looking at a president might be as follows. First, in the unimaginable circumstance in which a president encountered a homeless person on the street, would he invite him to live in the White House, or help him find a home, be nice and give him $1, ignore him, shout at him to get a job, kick him in the guts, or help him into a van and take him off to be tortured? I don't care about that way of looking at presidents. Second, do the policies the president pursues lead to massive numbers of people becoming homeless or worse? Third, do the policies the president pursues empower all future presidents to make unfathomable numbers of people suffer horribly? My contention is that Obama has not yet done as much damage as Bush in the second view but has, in a certain sense, done worse in the third view.

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