Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Muslims and Christians attacked in Iraq, dual nationality a-okay and more

Yesterday Iraq was slammed by bombings. It was violence on a massive scale and it might seem that, in the days that followed, little else out of Iraq could appall. That would be a mistaken belief as Hamid Ahmed (AP) proves with his report of armed assailants storming a Sunni mosque in Youssifiyah late yesterday "during evening prayers," grabbing seven people and dragging them out of the mosque only to murder them "execution-style." All seven assassinated were men and Sahwa ("Awakenings," "Sons Of Iraq"). Michale S. Schmidt (New York Times) recounts the assault, "Around 8 p.m., gunmen dressed in military uniforms stormed into a mosque in the city of Yusufiya, just south of Baghdad. The gunmen read off the names of seven people who had been loyal to the United States and joined the Awakening movement, took them outside the mosque and executed them. After the execution, the gunmen told the people gathered in the mosque that they were from Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and then left." Annie Gowen and Asaad Majeed (Washington Post) differ on the last sentence and offer instead, "The assailants left a note saying the killings were carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq, a Sunni extremist group affiliated with al-Qaeda."

As noted in yesterday's snapshot, a church in Kirkuk was bombed, no houses of worship were shown any respect. Alsumaria TV notes, "Kirkuk police imposed intensified security measures around churches in Iraq on account of targeting Saint Ephrem’s Church in central the city on Monday. A security source told Alsumarianews that the intensified measures were taken on account of information warning of armed groups’ attacks against Kirkuk’s churches especially that three churches were targeted in the last two weeks."

Aswat al-Iraq speaks
with MP Younadim Kanna who states, "The weakness of the security bodies, especially the intelligence ones, and the postponement of the settlement of the dossier of the Security Cabinet Ministers, had been one of the main reasons for the security violation that took place on Monday." John Pontifex with Aid to the Church in Need explains:

ANOTHER church in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk has been bombed bringing the tally to three within less than two weeks.
Nobody was hurt in the explosion which took place today (Monday, 15 August 2011) at 1.30am local time.
Parish priest Father Gewargis Elias was lucky to escape with his life when security staff spotted a vehicle carrying suspicious devices and ordered him out of St Ephrem’s Syrian Orthodox Church just minutes before the blast.
Reporting the incident, Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need: "Today they attacked the church. Who knows if tomorrow they will attack the clergy or the people?"
The archbishop was speaking after St Ephrem's became the third church in Kirkuk to be attacked so far this month.
Almost exactly two weeks earlier, again early in the morning, car bombs exploded at Holy Family Syrian Catholic Church and the nearby Evangelical church.
At least 13 people in homes close to Holy Family Church were injured -- mostly slightly.

Al Rafidayn counts 307 "killed and wounded." That manner of counting is common in Iraq and seems to treat both the dead and wounded seriously as opposed to US accounts which often -- intentionally or not -- send a message of 'only wounded' in the coverage. Michael S. Schmidt and Yasir Ghazi's report carried by the Boston Globe opens with, "Insurgents across Iraq launched their most significant and wide-ranging attacks in months yesterday, killing 89 people and wounding at least 315 in the most violent day in Iraq this year." In his own paper (New York Times), that fact is relegated to paragraph three.

Turning to the issue of withdrawal, Al Sabaah speaks with an unnamed Iraqi government source who feels that there will be "long negotiations" and that then Iraq will keep the US military in Iraq as "trainers." MP Zuhair Araji goes on the record for the paper and states his belief that Iraq needs "trainers" and that this "need must be recognized" and states that Iraq lacks experience with protecting and patrolling the airspace, with radar equpiment and that the Iraqi Navy also needs addition help. He calls 20,000 US forces remaining too many and unreasonable. And as they explore continuing the war, Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) notes the financial costs of war for the US:

Yes, Congress has allotted $1.3 trillion for war spending through fiscal year 2011 just to the Defense Department. There are long Pentagon spreadsheets that outline how much of that was spent on personnel, transportation, fuel and other costs. In a recent speech, President Barack Obama assigned the wars a $1 trillion price tag.
But all those numbers are incomplete. Besides what Congress appropriated, the Pentagon spent an additional unknown amount from its $5.2 trillion base budget over that same period. According to a recent Brown University study, the wars and their ripple effects have cost the United States $3.7 trillion, or more than $12,000 per American.

A number of Iraqi 'leaders'are breathing a little easier today. That's because the issue of dual nationalities was raised in Parliament and, Al Mada reports, efforts to decree that you could not serve in the Iraqi government if you held dual citizenship were rejected by the political blocs with the Sadr bloc leading the way. Presumably an admission that Moqtada al-Sadr now holds both Iraqi and Iranian citizenship. Were the murder charges -- still on record -- ever pushed and the arrest warrant -- which still exists -- ever exercised, Moqtada would have more security in Iran from Iraq if he held Iranian citizenship. It's one thing to ask a country to extradite a non-citizen but there are many more extradition barriers when a country is asked to turn over one of their own. If Moqtada does indeed hold dual citizenship (there's no proof that he does but the Sadr bloc leading the objection on this issue raises suspicions), he would not be the only Iraqi political figure who does. Most outlandish in the 2010 elections may have been the American citizen who ran for office. Ayad Allawi, Nouri al-Maliki, Ahmed Chalabi and many of the other one-time exiles who returned to Iraq after the US-invasionin 2003 hold dual citizenship -- or more than just Iraqi citizenship. (Chalabi's rumored to hold more than just "dual" citizenship.)

While the leaders can all agree they don't want to give up their pledged loyalties to other countries, they can't come together on the national council. That's a security body. It does not exist. The US pushed for its creation. Why? It was to be a consolation prize for Ayad Allawi. His Iraqiya won the March 7, 2010 elections but the US was never going to allow him to be prime minister. Nouri had already given his promise to keep US forces in Iraq beyond 2011 and he was the US puppet the White House wanted to keep. That's why they threw up road blocks when the UN delicately and gingerly proposed the creation of a temporary body to oversee Iraq. In February 2010, Parliament was dead. Nouri as prime minister was dead. Jalal Talabani and the two vice presidents were dead. All of them saw their terms expire. A caretaking government was the answer. But a caretaking government would not have allowed Nouri the opportunities to influence the election both before and after the voting and a caretaking government (temporary) would not allow Nouri to hold Iraq hostage for nine months until everyone agreed he could remain as prime minister.

Iraqiya won the election. The US came up with -- and Vice President Joe Biden promoted -- the national council. It doesn't exist in the Constitution and it would require Parliament passing laws and the Nouri-controlled Supreme Court might still render a decision saying it was illegal.

But in the early days of November, the political blocs met in the KRG and signed off on the Erbil Agreement which allowed Nouri to become prime minister-designate and called for the creation of the national council. Nouri was named prime minister-designate (but not officially by Jalal Talabani who wanted to screw with the Constitution and give Nouri additional time to form a Cabinet -- once the president names you prime minister-designate, per the Constitution, the clock begins ticking and you have 30 days to form a Cabinet; failure to do so means someone else will be named prime minister-designate). Nouri immediately trashed the Erbil Agreement. Jalal Talabani hosted a series of house parties this summer and one last month found the parties all agreeing to return to the Erbil Agreement.

No sooner was this announced -- and while Jalal was still taking public bows -- then State of Law (Nouri's political slate) began lodging objections in Parliament to the national council. Al Mada reports that while KRG President Massoud Barzani is praising the prospect of a national council, State of Law is launching accusations that Ayad Allawi wants it to create a "private government" within Iraq.

David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. We'll close with this from Bacon's photo essay "San Francisco Families Protest S-Comm Deportations" (ACJP):

Immigrants, unions, churches and social service organizations march through downtown San Francisco to the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of the Department of Homeland Security. They protested an ICE decision to implement the Secure Communities enforcement program, which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deportations, even though some states have tried to withdraw from their implementation agreements with ICE. California legislators are poised to pass a bill calling on the state to do so also. Many immigrants brought their children to show that the impact of increased enforcement is the separation of families when some members are deported.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.