Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The continued lack of progress in Iraq

Violence continues today in Iraq. Reuters notes a Baghdad sticky bombing that may or may not have been intended as an assassination attempt on a deputy minister for the Ministry of Human Rights (two by-standers were injured in the bombing), another Baghdad bombing left seven people injured and a Jurf al-Sakhar attack on Sahwa which killed 1 Sahwa leader and left his bodyguard injured.

Meanwhile New Sabah calls it US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey's "first public reaction" on the issue of US forces staying in Iraq beyond 2011 (and possibly it is for the Iraqi press). It? He's dimissed the review of the Mahdi militia from last week. He also called out Moqtada al-Sadr and his militia's claim that they can attack US forces insisting that the presence of US forces on Iraqi soil was a result of the "legitimate will of the Parliament." (He's referring to the 2008 Thanksgiving Day vote on the SOFA. And while he may have a point, a stronger point would be that the Iraqi people were promised a voice in the process -- without that promise, some believe Parliament wouldn't have passed the Sofa -- I disagree, but a number of people believe that -- and the promised referendum that they'd vote in never came to be.) Meanwhile Dar Addustour reports that the Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Association has come out in favor of US forces remaining on the ground in Iraq beyond 2011 stating that their presence is necessary to provide safety for Iraq's religious and ethnic minorities. The organization also maintains that the continued presence of US forces would allow Iraqi forces the opportunities to refine their own performance. Nouri al-Maliki is expected to call a meeting shortly to discuss keeping US forces on the ground in Iraq beyond 2011.

Saturday Al Mada noted that as the end of the 100 days approaches (June 7th, "100 days" refers to the promise Nouri made that he would clean up government corruption and provide services within 100 days) Iraqi security forces seem to be taking a harder line with protesters. They cite as an example what took place Friday in Baghdad when youth activists protested in Tahrir Square and four were arrested. The paper notes that the forces used "special security measures" that were new to this arrest. Iraqi forces also used some actions that were the same as previous ones: closing the bridges and cutting off roads, etc. The Iraqi Democratic Youth Federation and the Union of Students in the Republic of Iraq issued a statement condemning the arrests, calling for the immediate release of the four protesters and denouncing the "return to repressive authoritarian" measures. Friday was "False Promises Friday." The Great Iraqi Revolution noted the four arrested: "THE 4 YOUNG ACTIVISTS WHO WERE ARRESTED TODAY BY QASSIM ATTA AND TAKEN TO A PLACE UNKNOWN - 27.5.2011 - THEIR NAMES ARE: JIHAD JALEEL, ALI ABDUL KHALIQ, MOUAYED AL TAYEB AND AHMED AL BAGHDADI. We pray God to have them released very soon."

They also noted of Friday's Baghdad protest -- or in response to it, a smear campaign is being launched on TV, "In the serial of attempting to bad mouth and blacken the Tahrir Square protestors and demonstrators, Qassim Atta and the Iraqiya air photos of one of the detained activists in the Protests and accuse him of several crimes, they then proceed to air a film of a crime whose perpetrators are known to all and sundry, and in the same film some hooded men are heard to accuse that the activist is the person who committed the crime!" And the assault on protesters continued Saturday. Aswat al-Iraq reported:

An eye witness said that a military force raided an NGO, known as Where is My Right, and arrested 11 persons, including its secretary general, in suspicion for their relationship with the organizers of Tahreer Square demonstrations.
"Four Hummer military vehicles and two 4-wheel drive cars surrounded the organization premises in Maidan Square, in the center of Baghdad, where they searched it and destroyed its computers," the source told Aswat al-Iraq.
On the other hand, an activist said on the Facebook page for the Tahreer Square demonstrations, that the organization is an NGO that participated in organizing the demonstrations.
The arrested persons were meeting to discuss how to release the four activists who were arrested last Friday.

All for calling for an end to corruption, calling for basic services, calling for the detainees to be freed, calling for the occupation of Iraq to end. Ned Parker and Salar Jaff (Los Angeles Times) cover these events and speak with activist Hanna Edwar:

The government's actions raise the specter of a security apparatus that tolerates little dissent by people not affiliated with religious parties or any of the major groups in government. It also speaks to the limits of American influence in a country where the U.S. still has nearly 50,000 troops and has served as the main architect of the country's new democracy and sponsor of those in power.
The government has been far from clear about the status of the four activists. First it said they were being held by military intelligence. Then it denied that, adding that there was no record of any protesters being arrested. Baghdad's military command issued a statement late Tuesday saying that the four had been picked up with fake IDs in the same neighborhood as the demonstrations — a charge the men's supporters called ludicrous. The men's families were told they would be taken to see them Wednesday at a military intelligence prison.
Edwar said the nine others detained Saturday were probably being held in the same place.
The detained activists' friends, mostly young people who met through Facebook, spent Sunday and Monday stealthily putting up posters about the four around university campuses.

Dar Addoustour reports that youth activists are gearing up for demonstrations on June 10th, three days after the end of the 100 days. David Ali (Al Mada) adds that the government continues to assert the protesters were not arrested for their political activities. Al Mada's Fakhri Karim surveys the scene to see what has taken place in the 100 days thus far and finds that the security situation has worsened (and notes the increase in assassinations), the political blocs in the government continue to be at loggerheads, protesters had noted that the security ministries had no heads (Ministry of Interior, Ministry of National Security and Ministry of Defense) and that remains the case, and calls any claims of tensions being eased to be a mirage and illusion.

And we'll close with this from Dahlia Wasfi's "We Are The Terrorists" (IHC -- link is text and video):

This is sending the poor of this country to kill the poor of those Muslim countries. This is trading blood for oil. This is genocide, and to most of the world, we are the terrorists. In these times, remaining silent on our responsibility to the world and its future is criminal. And in light of our complicity in the supreme crimes against humanity in Iraq and Afghanistan, and ongoing violations of the U.N. Charter in International Law, how dare any American criticize the actions of legitimate resistance to illegal occupation.
Our so-called enemies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, our other colonies around the world, and our inner cities here at home, are struggling against the oppressive hand of empire, demanding respect for their humanity. They are labeled insurgents or terrorists for resisting rape and pillage by the white establishment, but they are our brothers and sisters in the struggle for justice. The civilians at the other end of our weapons don't have a choice, but American soldiers have choices, and while there may have been some doubt 5 years ago, today we know the truth. Our soldiers don't sacrifice for duty-honor-country, they sacrifice for Kellogg Brown & Root.
They don't fight for America, they fight for their lives and their buddies beside them, because we put them in a war zone. They're not defending our freedoms, they're laying the foundation for 14 permanent military bases to defend the freedoms of Exxon Mobil and British Petroleum.

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