Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Double-digit deaths as Diwaniyah slammed by bombings

Xiong Tong (Xinhua), citing a police source, reports 25 dead, thirty-four injured a twin car bombings went off in Diwaniyah, not far from the home of the governor of al-Qadisyah Province. Tim Craig and Aziz Alwan (Washington Post) explain, "The explosions happened at compound that includes both the governor’s home and the provincial government headquarters, underscoring how even well guarded facilities in Iraq remain vulnerable to attack." Saad Fakrhildeen and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) focus on placing the attack in context and they note, "The attack follows an assault last week by an insurgent group on the main local government building in the Diyala province in eastern Iraq, and a deadly assault in March on the seat of the northern Salahuddin province's governing body." Michael S. Schmidt (New York Times) quotes police officer Hussein Mohammed Ali stating, "I was at the checkpoint this morning near the governor's home when the explosion happened. I then felt myself on the ground and blood coming down my body and it hurt very much. Moments later, I heard another blast and I lost consciousness." Iman Radhi (AFP) adds that the governor was the target but escaped unharmed and that the dead include police officers and government officials. I don't have time to find the other story right now but there's an update by Radhi (I'm told on the phone by a friend with AFP) which states the dead are mostly police officers and sources that to a hospital worker.

In addition, Aswat al-Iraq notes a Musayah cafe bombing which has claimed 2 lives and left eight more people injured. Alsumaria TV notes, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki affirmed on Monday that Iraq is still under risk urging all political parties to renounce the policy of marginalization and opt for love and forgiveness." Yes, Nouri's gift for stating the obvious remains intact.

Nouri attended the big meet-up at Jalal Talabani's house yesterday. Dar Addustour reports notes Ayad Allawi and Speaker of Parliament Osama Najaifi were among the no-shows at the president's house for yesterday's meeting. The three hour meeting stressed the need to honor the Erbil Agreement reached in November (which allowed for the political stalemate to end)and stressed that another meeting was necessary, one with Allawi present. Though no one's going into details at present, the meeting also addressed US military on Iraqi soil and the state of Iraq's security forces. Al Rafidayn offers that the meeting put an end to squabbles between Allawi and Nouri being played out in the media. That seems doubtful and not just because Allawi's very adept at manipulating the media (Nouri's a clumsy ox but he does have many flunkies he dispatches regularly). How can such an agreement be finalized when one of the two parties in the two party squabble is present? Hisham Rikabi (Al Mada) notes a majority present agreed to end to the media campaigns but, again, how can such an agreement honestly be made when one of the two parties engaging in the campaign is not present? Rikabi notes Talabani, Nouri, Ammar al-Hakim and Adel Abdul Mahdi were among those preent while Saleh al-Mutlaq was the most prominent member of Iraqiya present.

The reports mention nothing about the security ministries, basic services, jobs or food rations. In what can be seen as a rebuke to the meeting, a man tried to take his life in yesterday, as did a teenage male. Dar Addustour reports he tried to throw himself off the Sinak Bridge and that he was rescued by a patrol boat. In Mosul, a middle school student suffered severe burns after setting himself onfire at his school. The number of reported suicides and attempted suicides has increased in the last months and that is an indictment against a government which refuses to serve the people it supposedly represents.

We'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "OBAMA NOT LIKELY TO CALL FOR MAJOR AFGHAN DRAWDOWN" (OpEdNews):

Four cheers for the U.S. Conference of Mayors! It has just voted up a resolution calling on Washington to transfer $126-billion in annual spending from its Middle East wars to America's cities! This vote represents an historic, antiwar breakthrough, one perhaps analogous to CBS anchor Walter Cronkite's commentary on February 27, 1968, that the U.S. could get no better than a stalemate in Viet Nam. As Cronkite put it,“...it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.”
We might hope Americans today will not have to endure further long years of losses in blood and treasure as did this nation in the Sixties and into the Seventies because Presidents Johnson and Nixon refused to withdraw even though the objective Cronkite rightly diagnosed the conflict as win-less and futile. Unfortunately, President Obama is not apt to listen to the mayors, either.
He is expected to deliver a speech tomorrow(June 22nd) calling for a mere token withdrawal from Afghanistan, where the cruel war drags on into its tenth year, making it the longest contest in U.S. history. That's despite a Bloomburg poll, one of many, that shows the American public by an overwhelming margin of 63% to 30% want “complete withdrawal.” U.S. taxpayers are not only funding about 100,000 uniformed troops in Afghanistan but a like figure of civilian “contractors,” who may be considered irregular regulars.
According to the Agence France-Presse dispatch of June 20, Obama “has to weigh rising popular discontent over the war with military and strategic considerations and may want to showcase faster withdrawals when he runs for a second term next year.”

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