Ali's report notes US House Speaker John Boehner's visit to Iraq. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports, "Boehner, along with other members of Congress and Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman, met at al-Maliki's office to discuss bilateral relations and the future of strategic cooperation between the two countries. Al-Maliki stressed the need to strengthen bilateral cooperation between the United States and Iraq, particularly in the fields of trade, culture and defense, according to his office."
Tim Arango has a piece in Sunday's "Week in Review" section of the New York Times entitled "In Iraq, Bottoms Up for Democracy." And it's really hard not to be offended by it or the notion that male wants and desires potentially fulfilled qualifies as democracy -- some sort of Hugh Hefner democracy?
I could dash off five paragraphs slamming the article and should if we were going by the paper's awful record in Iraq. But instead, we'll just note the article and hope that Arango's got something that will balance it in the future. If Arango's making this his new stomping ground, I understand Karar al-Khafaji (of the Sadr bloc) is currently 'dancing' with three different women and bragging about his "22 cm viper" -- with his western dress and garb, he's apparently advertising himself as quite the ride for women. Possibly Tim Arango could pursue that story and what it means for the Sadr movement or for Moqtada al-Sadr whom al-Khafaji has reportedly mocked as a "eunuch."
That's al-Khafaji above pictured with Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mehdi (Adel Abdul Mehdi is on the right). Will Abdul Mehdi continue as vice president? Who knows? But Alsumaria TV reports that Jalal Talabani, Iraq's president, "refused to appoint a Turkman candidate for the position of Vice President, an Iraqi Turkman MP said on Friday." Iraq still hasn't settled on their vice presidents all this time later. Three appears the number they'll be going for this time round. (They had two from 2006 until the present -- one Shi'ite, one Sunni.)
In other news, Alsumaria TV reports, "Al Iraqiya Party accused Baghdad Operations Command and Iraqi authorities of curbing protests by restraining peaceful demonstrators calling for their constitutional rights. The official spokesman of Baghdad Operations Command has pointed out to a plan aimed at curbing protests by restricting rallies in sports stadiums away from public squares, Iraqiya spokesman Maysoun Al Damlouji said." Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) adds:
The US began using “free speech areas” to move political dissent away from public view, nominally for security reasons, and became extremely common starting in 2004, when both major party conventions herded protesters into cages that were officially acceptable areas in which to protest.
The notion of doing so in Baghdad was mocked by protesters, who insisted that herding them all into soccer stadiums was absurd. Protesters continued to march in the streets instead, and no reports indicate any protesters showed up at the stadiums.
Basha Mandalawi (Zawya) files a report on Friday's protest in Baghdad which includes:
After two hours of protest in Tahrir Square in Baghdad Friday, police could finally dispersed the public and evacuate the square. On the same day, for the first time protesters asked the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to step down.
The protesters amounting to over 100 people continued chanting anti-corruption slogans and demanded social justice, improved and more basic services and releasing the detainees as in the other displays since Feb.25.
Despite Baghdad Operations Command statement, the protesters gathered in Tahrir Square for two hours.
Said Al-Habubi from among the protesters told AKnews the Command's order "cannot stifle the voice of demanding freedom." He said they will continue gathering in the Square every Friday, disregarding any restrictions.
At Global Research, Dirk Adriaensens shares a letter from Iraqi activist Asma al-Haidari. Excerpt:
What am I to write to you about today? The Friday of the Free???
For this is what our young revolutionaries have called it.
What am I to start with? Mosul or Tahrir Square …. I will start with the courageous and long suffering men, women, children and youth of Iraq in Tahrir – my tears are streaming down uncontrollably – a man of 50 who cries and says Death to Iran – Death to America – Death to Maliki – 80% of Parliament and the people who rule are Iranians – no loyalty to Iraq – Long Live Iraq – all our sons are in detention centers – my 16 year old son is in prison – Iraq is the crown on our heads – we will all die for Iraq – Iraq will live forever – then a young man who says Down with Sectarianism- Down with the Quota System – Death to Iran – let all Iraqi Young Men rebel and fight for Iraq – If Mohammed is a Sunni then I am a Shi'i – we are all one – we are all brothers – we all have the same blood - women – women cry and men – grown up men cry tears of agony and anguish for Iraq and for our sons and daughters – for our country that has been raped and pillaged
Dirk, where is the free western press???? Ah, Dirk the scenes in Tahrir were phenomenal because Maliki and his henchmen yesterday ordered people to demonstrate in two football grounds – again on a sectarian basis can you imagine???? But he is a stupid man – so are his advisors – the Iraqis are much too intelligent and clever for all of this and demonstrated that they are now at the point of no return in their rebellion and revolt – they assembled in Tahrir and told Maliki and his parliamentarians to go and play football in the stadiums he has assigned!
The young man who said let's all unite and fight – yes, armed resistance is what he is speaking about - continued to say that Maliki and his parliamentarians seem to be equating their demonstrations with a game – well, we will show you that we are not playing. He says that if we do not demonstrate in Tahrir then we will return to Armed Resistance and get martyred for Iraq – he also said that he was sure a massacre was going to be committed by the security forces against the demonstrators, today.
These same security forces that could not stop them from coming to Tahrir.
Men, women, and children, and Christians who are speaking out about the “government's” criminality against them – it was amazing and enthralling! The crushed Iraqi middle class in all its colours and hues is out and will remain out - this is the beginning of civil disobedience - all very peaceful but full of force and commands respect and a bowing of our heads to them.
The women who are in Tahrir are in the hundreds – all women whose sons or husbands have disappeared in Maliki's and the Occupation's secret prisons – Iraqis have broken the chains – the world should watch out – But the world is so silent and apparently deaf and blind as well.
Can't the world see that this revolution is totally different – that we are a people and a country under occupation – and that we have slowly started to take our rights back and to free ourselves.
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