Friday, April 22, 2011

Protests continue, extension of the SOFA talks continue

Adam Entous and Julian E. Barnes (Wall St. Journal) report, "In Iraq, top U.S. military officials believe that leaving a sizeable force beyond this year could bolster Iraqi stability and serve as a check on Iran, the major American nemesis in the region, officials said. U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Israel have echoed the concern that if the U.S. pulls out completely, Iran could extend its influence." The two note that the talks have been regarding ten thousand US forces remaining in Iraq and that a big sticking point appears to be concern that US forces remaining on the ground past December 31, 2011 may feed into the discontent already gripping the region. The reporters note, "Thousands of Iraqis have taken to the streets in recent months, demanding better basic services and an end to government corruption. Baghdad responded last week by imposing a ban on protests on the streets of the capital." Al Mada reports that Nouri al-Maliki insisted on Iraqi television that it's a "no" to a new security agreement (or an extension). Nouri's good about making those statements in public . . . and privately doing just the opposite. This may or may not be another example of that.

It's Friday, protests continue in Iraq. The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "A party from the Union of Fallujah Lawyers led by their Secretary General, Saeed Al - Fallahi have arrived in Ahrar." And they note, "My freinds, it seems that in spite of all the killing the demonstrators are still arriving in Ahrar and there are now over 100,000 people there!" and "Sahar Al Mawssawi is speaking live now - she is in Al Ahrar and describing the scene - she says that the numbers of troops sent from Baghdad are even more than the number of American troops when they first invaded Iraq - she says that they do not understand why the government is so frightened of peaceful unarmed demonstrators - she also says that they want the Occupation OUT and that anyone who asks for them to stay should be expelled. She also says that they hold the Al Iraqiya Satellite station responsible for all the disappearances from Tahrir Square." That's Ahrar Square in Mosul. From yesterday's snapshot:

The Great Iraqi Revolution reports, "The notorious Nasser Al Ghannam could not put a stop to the Free of Mosul -- after imposing a curfew last night starting at 1.00 a.m. this morning he proceeded with his troops to cut off all bridges and roads as well as arrest people who were marching to the Square of the Free -- HOWEVER, Atheel Al Nujaifi joined a huge demonstrations to the Square of the Free and broke the blockade. Well done Atheel Al Nujaifi! I wonder whether he has started seeing the light!" That's major news. Atheel Al Nujaifi (also spelled Athil al-Nujaifi) is the brother of the Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi which, all by itself, would make his participation news worthy. But al-Nujaifi holds office himself -- he's Governor al-Nujaifi, governor of Nineveh. And Nasser Al Ghannam? He's the Iraqi Army's Second Division Chief. DPA explains the curfew which began at 1:00 was to then go on all day. Rizan Ahmed (AK News) reminds, "The governer of Nineveh Athiel al-Nujaifi announced last Tuesday that the Ahrar Square is opened for peaceful demonstrations and protests, in a direct escalation, despite the official appeals from the federal government to stop demonstrations and protests. Ahmed reports, "Director of Information department of Nineveh province said Thursday that a force of the Iraqi army clashed with the protection forces of the governor of Nineveh Athiel al-Nujaifi after the prevention of a demonstration led by the latter to Ahrar Square to join the protest organized by groups from Mosul since 12 days demanding of the departure of 'occupation' and the implementation of government promises and the release of detainees."

The participation by Governor al-Nujaifi is big news and you can see video of his forcing his way through and many, many Iraqis following him here. Screen snap below is from the video.

al nujaifi

At the New York Times' At War blog, Tim Arango takes a look at Iraqi justice
. This is the opening to the piece:

Iraq has been castigated of late by human rights groups for violently cracking down on journalists at protests.
Photographers, in particular, have an especially difficult time here taking pictures of government proceedings and scenes of violence — as a blog post last year by my colleague Joao Silva described in detail.
But like nearly everything in Iraq, the issues of press freedom are never simple. Sometimes it’s a matter of showing up and schmoozing to gain access in a way that would be unheard of back home.
On Thursday morning, I, our photographer Ayman Oghanna and our Iraqi newsroom manager visited the criminal court in the heavily guarded Green Zone, just across from the American Embassy, to see the verdicts delivered in a case against several defendants on trial for the 1994 murder of Sheik Taleb al-Suhail, then an Iraqi exile living in Lebanon.

From the Great Iraqi Revolution, we're noting this exchange:

Ahmad H Al-Shaibani
There is an obvious "blackout" in mainstream media and press on the freedom movement and revolution in Iraq. Even AlJazeera is shying away from giving true coverage of the events. Help break this scandelous silence . Support our sisters and brothers who are risking their lives for a truly free Iraq. Spread the word... Iraqis want to be free of the US imported and Iranian fostered "Democracy".
about an hour ago · · Comment

Al Jazeera isn't interested in the Iraqi protests. That comes from a British friend with the network. He told me Inside Iraq was about to be killed -- and it was -- because Nouri didn't care for it. He was far from the only one complaining. His opinion mattered though -- for the same reason that the protests are down played. Al Jazeera wanted back into Iraq. So when Nouri complained, the decision was made to kill the program. Jasim al-Azzawi was not on vacation during the weeks after the decision was made when guest hosts filled in. If he were on vacation, he wouldn't have been writing all of those columns in the Arab media (a number of which we highlighted here in real time). So Nouri got the only program Al Jazeera needed to do cancelled. And when Al Jazeera was recently informed it could set up headquarters in Iraq (it had reporters on the ground in Iraq throughout the war) again, it was with the understanding that the protests be down played. And that's why they've done such a sorry job covering the protests. It's not the correspondents. The call comes from above them.

Maybe the above will embarrass them into coverage, maybe it won't. But it's not a secret that Al Jazeera is on a short leash in Iraq due to the deal the suits cut with Nouri.

We'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "BILLIONAIRES, REPUBLICANS, ON 'WARPATH'
" (Bhodi Thunder):

America's well-to-do are waging war on America's “shrinking middle class,” Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent, says.
“The nation's billionaires are on the war path. They want more, more, more,” and “their greed has no end and they are apparently unconcerned for the future of this country if it gets in the way of their accumulation of wealth and power.”
Sanders says that, “Right now, the top one percent controls more than 23 percent of all income earned in America,” which is more wealth than “the bottom 50 percent” put together. What's more, he notes, “In the last 25 years, we have seen 80 percent of all new income going to the top 1 percent.” This comment is supported by data showing that productivity gains created by U.S. workers over the past several decades have not resulted in increased pay for them but have instead gone into profits. Salaries have stagnated.
“All of the progressive legislation that started with FDR is on the chopping block,” Sanders declared. “Despite the fact that Social Security today has a $2.6 trillion dollar surplus, they are targeting Social Security. They are targeting Medicare. In Arizona, people on Medicaid who need transplants are no longer able to get them----(and) that is a real death panel.”
The Vermont senator's charges about the Social Security surplus are backed up by the Social Security Administration itself. SSA says from 1937, when the first pay outs were made, through 2009, Social Security spent a total of $11.3-trillion. In the same period, though, it received $13.8 trillion.
Over the years, nearly 454 million Social Security cards have been issued and, presumably, as many people have been beneficiaries of the system. And between five and six million new cards are being issued every year. That's a lot of help for a lot of people.

The e-mail address for this site is