Friday, May 13, 2011

Continued protests, continued occupation

It's Friday which means protests in Iraq.  The Great Iraqi Revolution has posted video of the Baghdad protest here.  The protests have been going on for months now.  The protesters demands include: an end to government corruption, the restoration of basic services (electricity, potable water, etc.), jobs and freedom from foreign interference (including no foreign troops on Iraqi soil). 
Among the issues addresed at the Baghdad protest today?  The kidnapping of Omniya Al Sammaraie "-- she is a widow and raises her children on her own -- her parents and her husband are martyrs.  She is an engineer and was threatened by the security forces by internet on facebook!The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "Omniya Al Sammaraie's sister, Dr. Shems, was speaking live a few minutes ago - she said that the people who came to kidnap her were dressed in black - so it is a militia dressed in black - really this gang of hooligans in the Green Zone is all balck in the face and dressed in black!!!!!" And they add, "Dr. Shems, Omniya's sister, speaking live on air stated that she holds Maliki responsible for her safety , in addition we, too , hold Maliki responsible fro her safety. She also told the - them the goervnment and its hooligans - that they will go on fighting for Iraq's liberation as well as getting rid of Haliki and his goons!"   And they note what's going on in Mosul currently, "People are gathering in Bab Jedeed District in Mosul - the army and security forces are surrounding them but they continue to gather."
Meanwhile, in the US, Aamer Madhani (National Journal) wonders what keeping US troops on Iraqi soil past 2011 might mean for Barack:

With American troops scheduled to leave Iraq this year, President Obama may be forced to consider going back on his word and leaving them there now that Iraq's prime minister said his country might ask the United States to leave boots on the ground.

Obama has stood solidly behind his pledge to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011, as dictated by a U.S.-Iraqi security agreement signed more than three years ago. He's reiterated his intent as recently as six weeks ago, when in announcing his decision to take military action against Libya he noted that the U.S. remained committed to "leaving Iraq to its people."

US forces staying past 2011?  From Wednesday's snapshot?
The big news today?  Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports Nouri al-Maliki declared that "he might ask thousands of U.S. troops to remain in the country next year provided that a solid majority of the main political parties back the request at a meeting this month." AGI News quotes Nouri stating, "The decision concerning the USA's withdrawal is an important national issue. For this reason, I am inviting all political leaders to establish a dialogue to clarify whether we want American soldiers to stay or not."  AFP continues the quote: "Aftter that, the government will decide on keeping them, or making them leave."  Xiong Tong (Xinhua) notes, "Iraqi political blocs are sharply divided over whether part of the U.S. troops will have to stay amid continuing violence in the country and the region as well, or to leave to assert independence eagerly wanted by Iraqis." Rebecca Santana and Lara Jakes (AP) add, "Equally important might be the nervousness many Iraqis feel at how the U.S. departure will affect sectarian relations. [. . .]  Many Sunnis and even Shiites worry that Iraq is falling too much into Iran's orbit, something that will only increase when the U.S. military leaves."
Trouble seeing Wednesday's or yesterday's snapshot because Blogger/Blogspot is having problems?  Remember we have the original backup site and this backup site as well.  Will the US military remain in Iraq?  (Answer: Yes.  Either officially under DoD -- new or extended agreement -- or unofficially as has been addressed this year in Congressional hearings with soldiers being placed under the State Dept.)  The Great Iraqi Revolution states, "Secret Agreement between American Embassy and Ministry of Freign Affairs, Iraq for Occupation Troops to remain in 5 Provinces until 2016!"   But the Scripps Howard News Service editorial board -- noting the foot dragging that's become a hallmark of the Nouri-led government -- argues that, if US forces are to stay, time can't be wasted:  "Starting in August and accelerating through the fall, the U.S. is to send home 50,000 troops and 63,000 contractors, close 100 bases and do something with about 1 million pieces of equipment and unused supplies. Al-Maliki seems confident his government can engineer a compromise -- but in its own time. Perhaps by the start of August."   We may go into why Scripps is wrong in the snapshot today.  I'm for ALL US TROOPS OUT OF IRAQ NOW! but I'm not referring to that.  I'm referrig to the factual issue of being wrong about the tick-tock.  And basing it on discussions the Congress held publicly in 2008 when they last faced this problem.
Aaron C. Davis (Washington Post) notes what some see as a potential new problem: Iraqi refugees who have been living in Syria fleeing the country due to unrest there.
If you've missed it, Blogger/Blogspot has problems.  There's no logging into them (yesterday or today) and there's no update on the status page or on "known kissues."  It is this sort of nonsense that led to the backup sites to begin with.  I do not control Blogger/Blogpsot.  I have no idea when they will fix the problem.  Again, this is why -- since 2005 -- we've had a backup site.  (We now have two backup sites.)