Thursday, June 30, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, 3 more US soldiers are announced dead in Iraq, the Christian Science Monitor doesn't get a lot of Iraq 'hits' and wonders why (we explain it for them), the Libyan War goes on, Human Rights Watch documents the attacks on peaceful demonstrators and notes that "It's not every day that thugs with clubs flash their police IDs at us," and more.
OBAMA: "Moammar Gadhafi, who prior to Osama bin Laden was responsible for more American deaths than just about anybody on the planet, was threatening to massacre his people."
THE FACTS: Gadhafi's history of supporting terrorist acts lethal to Americans did not stop the Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, from cultivating a relationship with him after he renounced terrorism. Gadhafi's government shared information on its nuclear program, tipped Washington about Islamic militants after the 2001 terrorist attacks and persuaded Western nations to lift sanctions.
Elaine took on the lies of the administration noting, "They know what they're doing is wrong. But they have contempt for the law, contempt for democracy and contempt for citizens. [. . .] As awful as that is, has anyone explained to you why the US went to war with Libya. Excuse me, Barack doesn't call it war. Has anyone explained to you why the US is heavy petting with Libya? No, because there's no reason for the war. Did Libya attack the US? No. There's no reason for the war." Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) calls out the nonsense Barack was spewing yesterday:
Calling it a "limited operation" doesn't render the War Powers Act null and void.
Nor does saying the action is against one of the "worst tyrants in the world."
And Obama's insistence that we send "a unified message" is the same undemocratic claptrap that we hear from every war President who wants the Congress and the citizenry to shut up and keep silent and not dare question his royal judgment.
Madhi Nazemroaya: This war has not only hurt Libya, it's hurt the rest of Africa because Libya is a major investor in the rest of African and a pan-African leader. So many agricultural and development projects have been abandoned or frozen in the rest of Africa. And there's going to be famine underway in other parts of Africa because agricultural programs have just been frozen and stopped. And tens of thousands of people, tens of thousands of people in different countries have become unemployed. Like in Mali a huge agricultural project has ended because of this war and this was directly has to do with British, French and American -- specifically American interests in the rest of Africa. What they've done by attacking Libya and putting sanctions on it and stopping all of these development projects is they've blocked -- they've blocked Libya from developing these countries and have kept them in a position of dependence on the European Union and the United States. I was clearly told by their Minister of International Cooperation whose specific area is Africa because Libya is in Africa and most of their projects are in Africa, I was specifically told by him that the United States, France and the countries were not happy about what Libya was doing in Africa.
Kevin Pina: That's the voice of our special correspondent Madhi Nazemroaya who's speaking to us directly from Tripoli, Libya. He's also a research associate with the Center for Research and Globalization, I should say. Madhi, what you're describing isn't just effecting Libya although it's having a devestating effect on the Libyan people, this bombing campaign that continues by NATO but also it's having a regional effect in Africa because of the role Libya has played in funding other projects throughout the region.
Madhi Nazemroaya: Exactly, Kevin, exactly. You hit it right on the bull's eye. That's exactly what it's doing here. And there's a lot of Africans from other places who've come here to show their support by working in NGOs and by trying to help the world see that Africa, the African people, stand behind Libya. Libya is an African country as well as an Arab country and a country of the Mediterranen. And I've even talked to them about the devestating effects it's having on the rest of Africa. Another thing the war has done, it's stopped a pan-African railroad that was going to go north across North Africa and through Libya to the south. They stopped this and it's going to have a longterm devestating effect on Libya if the war does not stop. And everybody in Libya has just heard that in the United States, Senator [John] Kerry and a group of senators are talking about providing funding or support for the war to go on another year. So that is very dire news
Kevin Pina: Well Madhi let's talk about on the ground, the face of the so-called resistance or opposition to Libya. Is there a clear indication that they're being funded, that they've been built by the international community, specifically the US and Britain and Canada? That they built this opposition this resistance against Muammar Gaddafi's regime?
Madhi Nazemroaya: First of all, the rebels here, the resistance, the revolutionaries, the transitional council, whatever you want to call them, terrorists, whatever you want to call them, they have a lot of different names to a lot of different types of people. They're not a monolistic body. They are ecletic. They're a group of different people together. And fighting each other. We know that they're fighting each other. They've been fighting each other. Just like how, during the Chinese civil war, The Nationalist and the Marchists fought each other but they were also fighting the Japanese. These guys, they're also fighting their Libyan government in Tripoli, Col Gaddafi's government and they're fighting each other at the same time. In fact, they're -- they found out that they're giving each other's coordinates to NATO saying that these are enemy forces to have each other bombed. Now --
Kevin Pina: Wait, wait. Madhi, Madhi, you mean there's indications that the resistance or whatever you want to call them that they're actually targeting each other to get NATO to wipe out the other so that they can be the lead force?
Madhi Nazemroaya: Yes. I've been told that by numerous people, that they're fighting, yes, there's inter-competition. If these people take over Libya don't think -- Let's say, hypothetically for argument sake, that the transitional council in Benghazi takes over Libya which I doubt will happen. There will be another blood bath and another civil war. They're already fighting with each other in Benghazi, they're separate militais. This is not a monolithic body. They're fighting each other. They're kiling each other. There's actually more than one government. In Darnah they've declared an Islamic emierate, okay ? In Misrata there's another group which has tense ties to the groups in the east. They're all fighting each other. There's also even Communists involved in this. There's Islamists, Communists and former regime members as well and the -- specifically speaking about the Islamists, there's the Libyan Fighting Group which is a well established and old group and most people refer to it as al Qaeda because it is al Qaeda-like and has ties to al Qaeda as well as the CIA, it has ties to the CIA. Now a lot of these people have been caught and they've been giving explanations of foreign support and foreign funding. Yes, there's foreign funding because they're talking about how they've been helped from abroad. And these indigenous forces? There's a lot of foreigners fighting. I'm not talking about security forces or NATO forces, I'm talking about the jihadists coming in from other parts of the world. We have people coming in from Egypt and Saudi Arabia, people who used to be in Afghanistan. And they're part of these forces that are fighting the Libyan military right now.
Kevin Pina: Well Madhi, let me remind our listeners that you're listening to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio and that's the voice of Madhi Nazemroaya who is speaking to us directly from Tripoli, Libya. Mahdi, I guess what I'm getting at is that there was a point where these forces were called "rag tag forces" and then suddenly we heard that there were advisors going in by Britain. We heard that there were advisors coming in from the United States that were assisting them to get their act together. And then there was talk that there was a lot of funding and assistance that were going to these groups. And I'm wondering, can we say that they're really indigenous or is most of this happening because of foreign funding and assistance?
Madhi Nazemroya: Okay, most of this is happening -- This wouldn't have happened without foreign funding and assistance. That's -that's very clear on the ground here and by talking to people who've come from Benghazi and by talking to Libyans in Tripoli, okay? This could -- This would have never been possible. They without even NATO air support without the political support without the financial support without any of that without the media support, this would have never happened. Col Gadhafi's support's gone up in this country. Call him a dictator or not, his support's gone up in this country. And it's very evident when you walk the streets of Tripoli and the district around it that his support has grown. And that's the bulk of the country's population, just to inform your listeners. My sense of the situation, and I also spoke to the pope's envoy in Tripoli days ago, the Bishop of Tripoli. His sense is the same as mine that this country's probably going to be Balkanized and divided in two cause NATO has no way of winning the war and neither do the transitional council forces based in Benghazi. They have no way of winning this conflict. The only thing they can do is make a settlement where the country is divided. Right now, they're pushing to get as much territory as possible and as much oil fields as possible. They're not going to come to Tripoli, I highly doubt it. Unless you see a NATO invasion. And if there's a NATO invasion, there will be a worse blood bath here than there was in Afghanistan or Iraq, that's very sure. The people's spirits are up, they're getting ready, they're training and they have contingeny plans for a ground invasion.
4469 is the number of US military deaths in the Iraq War as yesterday at ten a.m. So add three and you have 4472. (The DoD number does not increase until after DoD announces names of the fallen, FYI.) But the number is "48" (and, again, add 3 to get the current number of 51).
Tim Arrango (New York Times) notes that 15 is the sort of "monthly toll not seen since 2008." Arango notes 14 of the fallen were killed "in hostile incidents." That may be 15. One of the three killed on Sunday was killed, according to what the military told his family, while he was doing a house sweep. That's Sgt Matthew Gallagher and his death is under investigation, according to the military. The Boston Channel (link has text and video) reports Cheryl Ruggiero, his mother, is asking that US Senator John Kerry help the family find out what happened because the military's changed their story, "We're getting bits and pieces from different people and I don't know what to believe. And when it's your child, you want to know." John Basile (Fall River Herald News) cites Capt Matthew Merrill stating that the statements about Matthew Gallagher doing a home sweep were mistaken and that he died "inside the wire".
Again, the Iraq War is not over. Many people wrongly believe it is and not just due to the pretty words of Barack but due to a media that's refused to cover Iraq. We'll come back to that but let's yet again note the memo AP Deputy Managing Editor for Standards and Production Tom Kent sent out at the start of September 2010 (following Barack's 'combat's over, boys and girls!' speech):
Whatever the subject, we should be correct and consistent in our description of what the situation in Iraq is. This guidance summarizes the situation and suggests wording to use and avoid. To begin with, combat in Iraq is not over, and we should not uncritically repeat suggestions that it is, even if they come from senior officials. The situation on the ground in Iraq is no different today than it has been for some months. Iraqi security forces are still fighting Sunni and al-Qaida insurgents. Many Iraqis remain very concerned for their country's future despite a dramatic improvement in security, the economy and living conditions in many areas. As for U.S. involvement, it also goes too far to say that the U.S. part in the conflict in Iraq is over. President Obama said Monday night that "the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country." However, 50,000 American troops remain in country. Our own reporting on the ground confirms that some of these troops, especially some 4,500 special operations forces, continue to be directly engaged in military operations. These troops are accompanying Iraqi soldiers into battle with militant groups and may well fire and be fired on. In addition, although administration spokesmen say we are now at the tail end of American involvement and all troops will be gone by the end of 2011, there is no guarantee that this will be the case. Our stories about Iraq should make clear that U.S. troops remain involved in combat operations alongside Iraqi forces, although U.S. officials say the American combat mission has formally ended. We can also say the United States has ended its major combat role in Iraq, or that it has transferred military authority to Iraqi forces. We can add that beyond U.S. boots on the ground, Iraq is expected to need U.S. air power and other military support for years to control its own air space and to deter possible attack from abroad.
Unless there is balancing language, our content should not refer to the end of combat in Iraq, or the end of U.S. military involvement. Nor should it say flat-out (since we can't predict the future) that the United States is at the end of its military role.
It's a shame more outlets couldn't follow the AP's lead.
Most can't even follow Iraq. Like Diane Sawyer. Long before ABC World News Tonight airs this evening, the news is 3 US soldiers die in Iraq. Will Diane cover it? Not likely. When 5 US soldiers died in a single attack on June 5th (the death toll rose to six when a soldier injured in the attack died days later), World News Tonight couldn't tell you because they just don't give a damn about Iraq (they were all over Anthony Weiner that night and George Steph had to inform the world that Katie Couric would be joining ABC News in the not-to-soon future -- either of those stories could have been trimmed to allow time to note the death -- and to be clear, Katie didn't participate in the in-house announcement George tried to pass off as news). Will she continue her month long pattern of ignoring Iraq this evening? You could turn into a drinking game, I suppose, but if you're wanting news this evening on the deaths, you're better off tuning into CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley or NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams -- both anchors have made a point to cover the news out of Iraq this month while Diane Sawyer's spent June attempting to turn World News Tonight into The View: Almost Prime Time. Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) pens something that I'm having a difficult time characterizing as anything other than a whine. Supposedly writing about the Iraq War he offers:
The war itself feels all but ignored by the general public here at home. On the desk at the Monitor, Internet traffic is our lifeblood and we follow how many "hits" individual stories receive. For at least a year now, it's felt like all our Iraq stories – whether features with strong, unique reporting; analysis pieces on the security situation; or simply straightforward accounts of a major bombing or political meeting – can't get any traction at all.
Let me break the news to Dan: Your paper and website do a lousy job. Lousy.
We get stronger reports from Jane Arraf via Al Jazeera than from the Christian Science Monitor. I doubt that anything in the last year from the paper has gotten anywhere near the hits that Arraf's occassional piece for the paper has. The Monitor has a lousy reputation when it come to Iraq and that didn't happen yesterday or last year. That has been throughout the Iraq War.
Sam Dagher made a name for himself at the New York Times (and then went on to the Wall St. Journal where I don't think he's done a good job at all). Long before the Times, Dagher was writing for the Christian Science Monitor. They do not know how to play their Iraq stories, writers have to write down when writing about Iraq, it's pathetic. Throughout the Iraq War that's been the case. Now once upon a time -- before the last ten years -- the Christian Science Monitor prided itself on having no bias in its reporting. Some of the watering down required for Iraq reporting results from that and that can be seen as a good thing. But it's clear that a writer like Anthony Shadid would never become Anthony Shadid at the Christian Science Monitor. They don't build stars or names at the paper.
When they ended up with one by accident, Jill Carroll, they showed how easily they could destroy a reporter. Carroll was kidnapped in Iraq at the start of 2006. She was held hostage for about three months. She did strong reporting for several outlets (she was a free lancer) and her work for the Christian Science Monitor had sparkle but not like her writing for other outlets (her work for the San Francisco Chronicle during this same period was far superior to her work for the Monitor). But she was kidnapped. And when she was released she had a story. Only the Christian Science Monitor could screw up her story. No one else would have been that stupid. At the very least, a backward publication would have thought, "Lifetime movie" (woman survives!). But instead it was play Carroll up as a victim and pathetic and pitiful. That's how that coverage came across. And part of the reason she's not a reporter now has to do with her having to take part in that covergae. Jill Carroll is and was a strong woman. Was what happened to her terrifying? Yes, it was a nightmare. And she survived it. None of the other journalists kidnapped in Iraq was turned into a victim by their outlet. And Jill Carroll wasn't the only woman kidnapped. The Committee to Protect Journalists counts 44 male journalists kidnapped in Iraq from 2003 through 2009 and 12 women. The most famous female kidnapping was that of Italy's Giuliana Sgrena who was kidnapped in 2005 and held for a month (her country negotiated her release). She was injured in a shooting . . . by the US military. There was no attempt to portray Giuliana as a victim. Even when she had trouble speaking early on (due to being shot and it effecting her breathing), she presented herself and was presented by others as a strong, brave journalist. There was something creepy and sick about the way the Christian Science Monitor portrayed Jill Carroll (again, Carroll is a strong woman and I am not insulting her, I am referring to the way the paper presented her). Rebecca called it out in real time. And good for her. I should have but felt like I was drawing attention to it if I did. As Rebecca observed of the paper's 'coverage' of Carroll:
this is the sort of thing you go on oprah and talk about it. it's not really what a reporter who wants to be known as a reporter writes about. when you are the story, you become a personality.
[. . .]
i think she got some bad advice and i thinkher paper (christian science monitor) felt this was a way to drive up interest. i don't know that it does anything for her as a reporter.
Now not only was the paper reducing her to a victim -- "Tuesday's victim, come, witness the tragedy" -- but she was also being attacked and the paper was no help there either. John F. Burns (New York Times) wrote a piece basically blaming her for the kidnapping and whining about how it requires so much work to free a kidnap victim in Iraq. (As we noted at Third, no work on the part of the US military appears to have been required for Carroll's release and if it had been, oh well.) John F. Burns never went anywhere in Iraq without armed bodyguards unless he was embedded with the US military. Jill Carroll was a freelance writer who didn't have the luxury of bodyguards -- armed or unarmed. The treatment of Jill Carroll, by the paper, did a lot to further decrease interest in anything the Christian Science Monitor could publish on Iraq.
Jill Carroll is the paper's most famous Iraq reporter and it's not for the work she did, it's for the way the paper portrayed her (a negative portrayal in my mind). Ellen Knickmeyer, Thomas E. Ricks, Damien Cave, Alissa J. Rubin, Sabrina Tavernise, Nancy A. Youssef, Leila Fadel, Lara Jakes, Rebecca Santana, Ned Parker, Alexandra Zavis, Tina Susman, Deborah Amos, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Stephanie McCrummen, Anna Badkhen, Robert Collier and many others built up a reputation as a result of their Iraq work. Does no one else notice that you don't have a Christian Science Monitor discovery on that list? Again, Sam Dagher did work for them but he only made a mark when he was working for the New York Times. Jane Arraf's reports lift the paper but if they gave her more freedom and didn't force her into "Christian Science Monitor style," she'd be doing a lot stronger work (as she currently is for Al Jazeera and PRI's The World).
Equally true, the Christian Science Monitor runs with whatever Barack Obama says. There's not Tom Kent at the paper saying, "Things are still dangerous in Iraq, just because the president says . . ." And that makes their articles laughable including Dan Murphy's. You don't know that US forces are all withdrawing on December 31, 2011. It hasn't happened yet. The paper should be an independent voice. Instead, it's seen as a play toy for the editorial staff that wants to feel part of the beltway.
Here's a little story the Christian Science Monitor doesn't like told, their daily paper? They killed it. Their own actions. Their own business model. They were aware of the problem in 2003 and ignored it. In 2003, with the Iraq War impending or just starting, people were looking for independent news sources. Many contacted the Christian Science Monitor -- by phone, by e-mail, by letter -- about how to subscribe. Specifically, how much was the weekly rate. From January through April 2004, these people were repeatedly informed of a special rate (I believe for six weeks -- and I first heard this story from a friend with Knight-Ridder but heard it from other outlets as well and have seen some of the e-mail replies due to a friend -- editor NYT -- hearing about the issue and e-mailing them near daily as a private joke). Okay, but after the special rate, how much will it cost?
That's a fairly easy answer. Or it should be. But the Christian Science Monitor couldn't provide it, wouldn't provide it. Repeatedly. Over and over for four months. They lost a ton of potential subscribers. People knew the paper would be mailed to them (by snail mail) and would arrive after the news was 'dated' but they were interested in an independent resource. Instead of using that moment to build the paper's base, the circulation staff refused to answer the question and people went elsewhere. That's what killed the daily print version of the Christian Science Monitor and it was no one's fault but their own. They could have seen their circulation soar; however, they were repeatedly unable to tell potential subscribers how much it would cost to subscribe to the paper (after the six week 'special' offer expired).
And if Dan Murphy wants to increase "hits" for Iraq stories at CSM, he might try having more stories like the one he wrote this evening -- in fact, the paper could carve out its own niche just by covering the protests. Human Rights Watch remains the best non-Iraqi source for coverage of the protests due to HRW's coverage of all the violence that the protesters experience. (The Great Iraqi Revolution remains the best Iraqi source for coverage of the protests.) Today HRW issues a finding which includes:
Iraqi authorities should order a prompt and impartial inquiry into the role of state security forces in attacks by pro-government gangs against peaceful demonstrators in Baghdad on June 10, 2011, Human Rights Watch said today. The groups of mainly young men, armed with wooden planks, knives, iron pipes, and other weapons, beat and stabbed peaceful protesters and sexually molested female demonstrators, witnesses told Human Rights Watch.
In the days following the attack, Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 25 demonstrators who said they were punched, beaten with sticks or other weapons, or stabbed during the June 10 assault. Human Rights Watch observed and witnesses said that security forces stood by and watched in several instances. Several organizers told Human Rights Watch that the attacks have had a severe chilling effect on people exercising their right to peaceful assembly. In the two Friday demonstrations since then, on June 17 and 24, many regular protesters and organizers have stopped attending the demonstration, mainly because of fear of attacks, they said.
"Instead of protecting peaceful demonstrators, Iraqi soldiers appear to be working hand in hand with the thugs attacking them," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The Iraqi government needs to investigate why the security forces stood by and watched as thugs beat and sexually molested protesters - and take action against those who did so."
Two separate Defense Ministry sources told Human Rights Watch that a ministerial order authorized more than 150 plainclothes security forces from both the police and army to infiltrate the June 10 protests. The sources indicated that the government was worried about increased numbers of demonstrators on that date because the 100-day period for improvements that Prime Minister Nuri al-Malaki had promised in February would have ended.
During the attacks, four government supporters, some carrying planks and chasing after demonstrators, identified themselves to Human Rights Watch as members of Iraqi security forces. Two others showed Human Rights Watch concealed Interior Ministry police ID badges.
"It's not every day that thugs with clubs flash their police IDs at us," Stork said. "The government needs to find out who was responsible for the assaults and punish them appropriately."
It's amazing how HRW has had to stand alone on this issue. In part because few paid attention but it's also true that a number of people and outlets did and they chose -- and continue to choose -- to be silent.
As noted yesterday, Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi, just back in Baghdad after a diplomatic visit to the US, allegedly floated the idea of a Sunni region in Iraq. It has created a firestorm. Al Mada runs a descriptive or charged headline proclaiming Nujaifi "set off a bomb" and they rush to quote State Of Law which is in such a tizzy they don't even have time to pimp prepared statements on the murder of Ali al-Lami's brother yesterday. (Remember how State Of Law tried to turn Ali al-Lami's death into a week-long tragedy?) State of Law's Abdul Ilah Naieli not only attacks the notion of a Sunni region, he insists that it could cause instability resulting in the US keeping troops in the country "longer". He calls Nujaifi's statement's strange but that would apply to Naieli's own statements. Hadar Ibrahim (AK News) adds MP Izzat al-Shabandar has collected signatures ("over 110," he says) to demand Nujaifi answer questions before Parliament. Aswat al-Iraq runs with the Ninewa Province rejects the proposal -- really? The whole province? A proposal floated yesterday? It was determined the entire province rejects it how? That's some polling. Aswat al-Iraq notes that Nujaifi denies having floated the idea and they quote him stating, "I can't accept the establishment of Regions on sectarian basis, but they can be set up on geographic basis, but not now; and I did not call for that during my visit to Washington."
Turning to Iraqi oil and, no, we're not interested in the "in two years, we'll meet . ." storylines. Iraq's pimped that claim every year of the war. But Iraq is leaving UN receivership status which Caroline Alexander and Nayla Razzouk (Bloomberg News) leaves open new issues: "The expiration today of United Nations protection of Iraq's oil revenue from creditors seeking damages stemming from Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait may make the assets vulnerable to seizure, exacerbating tensions between the two countries." Kuwait is owed millions and would be the most obvious challenge; however, it is far from the only country claiming to be owed money. The US cancelled Iraq's debt in 2004 (over $4 billion) as did many other Western nations. Today the United Nations Security Council's President Alfred Moungara Moussotsi issued the following statement:
The members of the Security Council welcomed the Government of Iraq's assumption of full autonomy over the proceeds of the Development Fund for Iraq as of 1 July 2011.
The members of the Security Council welcomed the Government of Iraq's establishment of a successor arrangement for the transition of the Development Fund for Iraq, consistent with resolution 1956 (2010).
The members of the Security Council noted that, in this regard, oversight of the full proceeds from the Development Fund for Iraq has been transferred from the International Advisory and Monitoring Board to the Government of Iraq's Committee of Financial Experts, which will exercise authority, in accordance with its terms of reference approved by Iraq's Council of Ministers.
The members of the Security Council reiterated their welcome of the ongoing efforts and commitment by the Government of Iraq to ensure that oil revenue is used in the interests of the Iraqi people, and to ensure that transition arrangements remain consistent with the Constitution and with international best practices in respect of transparency, accountability and integrity.
The members of the Security Council underscored the importance of Iraq's continued compliance with relevant resolutions, including paragraph 21 of resolution 1483 (2003) and resolution 1956 (2010).
In an interview with Rudaw, Iraqi member of parliament and former head of the parliamentary committee for gas and oil, Nuraddin al-Hiyali criticized the Iraqi oil policies, describing it as "unclear". Al-Hiyali also said that the Iraqi government has failed in running the country's oil sector properly. "It is an unclear policy," he said. "The Iraqi government has failed to manage the oil sector of Iraq." Regarding Kurdistan's oil contracts, al-Hiyali said that the oil companies benefit from those contracts more than anyone else. "A big portion of the oil income goes into the pocket of the foreign companies," said al-Hayali. Up to now, the Iraqi parliament has not ratified its oil and gas law and al-Hiyali attributes this to huge disputes over the details of the draft law. He admitted that neighboring countries are also a cause for this delay.
"The hospital is crowded, the medical staff are overloaded, and we are deficient of medical staff because doctors continue to leave Iraq," Dr Yehiyah Karim, a general surgeon at Baghdad Medical City, told Al Jazeera, "There is still the targeting of doctors."
Dr Karim said that many Iraqi doctors are continuing to flee the country because kidnappings and assassinations are ongoing problems. Since the US invasion in 2003, doctors and other professionals in Iraq have been targets of these crimes in staggering numbers.
According to the Brookings Institute, prior to the US-led invasion in 2003, Iraq had 34,000 registered physicians. It is estimated 20,000 of those have left the country, and between 2007 and April 2009 only 1,525 had returned.
"Many doctors are still leaving the country because we are in danger," Dr Karim, whose hospital is the largest medical center in the country, added. "Last week we had three doctors kidnapped in Kirkuk. Following this, doctors there didn't go to work for two days. We always feel insecure about our safety."
Meanwhile Dar Addustour reports that Ali Khamenei's criticism of an alleged deal in Parliament (already made) to keep US forces in Iraq beyond 2011 has resuled in an MP stating that some leaders of political blocs have already promised the US that they will support the extension and Tareq al-Hashemi (one of Iraq's vice presidents) is quoted stating that the focus on the agreement is taking attention away from more serious matters such as the continued lack of ministers to head the security ministries (Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior and Ministry of National Security). Basra had a local council resolution last week that it would not house US forces beyong 2011. How binding that decision is or isn't is probably something Nouri will refer to the Supreme Court. But Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters) reports that the al-Sadr bloc is now targeting 10 provincial councils to do as Basra did.