Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Assassinations, resignations, threats to withdraw from the government

Yesterday, there was an assassination attempt on Nineveh Province Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi. New Sabah reports that while al-Nujaifi was not injured in the attack on him, Ministry of Defense nominee Khalid al-Obeidi was. al-Nujaifi had been on his way to Baghdad. He and al-Obeidi both belong to the Iraqiya slate and Ayad Allawi (Iraqiya leader) is calling for an investigation into the attacks. al-Nujaifi is the brother of Osama al-Nujaifi who is the Speaker of Parliament. Dar Addustour notes that yesterday's big meet-up between political blocs did not go well and the Erbil Agreement was not honored. A source tells Dar Addustour that Iraqiya has reached a decision to pull out of the government in protest. That may or may not be true (the source is unnamed). More curious is the back and forth between State of Law and Iraqiya, specifically members of State of Law speaking to the Arabic press to attack Ayad Allawi. I see three stories that indicate members of State of Law have not read Iraq's Constitution. In the US, we do have free speech, in Iraq that is not the case. And it's more than just the term "infidel" that the Constitution prohibits. As the head of State of Law, Nouri may need to review the Constitution with members of his political slate. Alsumaria TV also notes the failed meet-up, "Iraqiya List headed by Iyad Allawi announced the failure of talks with the State of Law Coalition. Al Iraqiya blamed the failure of talks on the State of Law and affirmed that it will convene today to announce its final stand." Al Rafidayn also reports that Allawi will be announcing that Iraqiya is withdrawing from the government and has a source who states State of Law refused to budge despite pressure from the other blocs.

Meanwhile Ayas Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) quotes State of Law's Izzat Shabandar stating that it is too soon to determine a position on whether or not to extend the presence of US military on Iraqi soil beyond 2011. Dar Addustour reports that US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey has stated in a media conference that the issue of withdrawal or remaining remains up in the air.

Yesterday, Iraqi vice president (one of three) Adel Abdul-Mahdi tendered his resignation. Most of the press (especially US) danced around the topic of Jalal Talabani, President of Iraq, accepting it. Dar Addustour at least notes that Talabani is out of the country. AFP tells you what so many won't: "Hakim said Mahdi's resignation would not be official until it was offered directly to Talabani, who is currently in the United States receiving medical treatment." For years now, we've told you about Talabani's visit to the Mayo Clinic -- and about the collapse he had in the local bookstore shortly after leaving treatment one visit. I have no idea if the press is ignorant or just being dishonest. Ponder the choices as you read the US coverage.

As protests became a regular feature in Iraq this year, Nouri al-Maliki (with support from Moqtada al-Sadr) attempted to divert the people by promising that corruption would be addressed, the lack of public services would be addressed, the needs of the people would be addressed -- and all in 100 days. The 100 Days ends June 7th. There's been no real improvement. Haider al-Rubaie Filaih (Al Sabaah) reports that Iraq's biggest problems in recent months include unsafe food -- and not the spoiled food that was distributed as part of the ration cards program but unsafe food being sold in the grocery stores. In ration food stuff news, Eman el-Shenawi (Al Arabiya) adds, "Iraq's trade ministry has scrapped direct cash purchases of basic food items, such as sugar, wheat and rice, in an effort to outweigh corruption, Deputy Trade Minister Sweiba Mahmoud said according to Reuters reports on Sunday. The majority of corruption in the country's food supply channels occurred within direct cash purchases, Ms. Mahmoud told a news conference."

Yesterday Kat: published three reviews: "Kat's Korner: Give 'em the keys" on Death Cab for Cutie, "Kat's Korner: It was nothing, he insisted loudly" on Ben Harper and "Kat's Korner: The Master of the Teen Drama" on Phil Spector. In addition, Mike posted "Memorial Day" at his site. We'll close with an excerpt from Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan's latest essay. But before that, please note that the issue is also addressed in a video at her site "US Activist's Statement Against US sanctions on Venezuela" if streaming is a better option for you or if you want additional information. From her "Yankees, Go Home!" (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox):

I am in Caracas, Vz today (May 29th--Casey's birthday)—a country I love and a people that I support with all my heart in their struggle against US imperialism and corporate interests so they can make their own lives better.
Nine of us came from the US to support the people of Venezuela in rejecting the US economic sanctions that were imposed by the State Departments because, apparently, Venezuela sent two shipments of oil product to Iran.
During the Clinton regime, the US enacted The Iran Sanctions Act (ISA)--ironically first called the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA)--but then Libya became our friend during the Bush stain before it recently became our enemy again (dizzy, yet?). The ISA was enacted to prevent foreign countries from selling oil to Iran to stop its peaceful nuclear program. The point the leadership in Venezuela is trying to make is that it is now being "sanctioned" for allegedly breaking a law created by the US that it doesn't feel obligated to. Again, why should Venezuela make US corporate interests primary to its own? The immature arrogance of the US is stunning and my own country has absolutely no right to run roughshod over sovereign countries like a two-year old throwing a temper tantrum.

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