Tuesday, September 27, 2011

8 million Iraqi children return to school

Today many Iraqi children went back to school. Al Sabaah notes over 8 million of them started the school year which would mean that approximately one-third of Iraq's population is school age. (Estimates of Iraq's population range from 25 to 28 million. In addition to the 8 million heading back to school, there is a large and uncounted number of Iraqi children who will not be returning to school today, orphaned by the war, they live on the streets. Streets that, Al Sabaah reports in Baghdad, are overlowing with sewage.) To process the students and supply them with books and schools, the paper says, will cost $51 billion dinars. That's US equivalent 4.3 million dollars. And, of course, yesterday the Iraqi government put down $1.5 billion dollars to purchase war planes (full cost is said to be $3 billion).

War planes, Turkish war planes, continue to bomb northern Iraq. Supposedly, they are targeting the PKK (Kurdish rebels) but the Turkish government's well known opposition to a Kurdish homeland and northern Iraq being a semi-autonomous region for Kurds calls that claim into question. Al Mada reports today that there have been at least six suicides in the province of Erbil this month that can be traced to despair over the non-stop bombings which began August 17th. The government of Turkey has been stating for days now that the US government has agreed to provide them with predator drones (which they could then use to kill additional Kurds). Aswat al-Iraq reports that the Kurdish Parliament Sunday charged that the United States was providing Turkey with weapons to kill Kurds. Mahmoud Othman is quoted stating, "The Americans have taken a decision to supply the Turkish side with drones (planes without pilots) to kill the Kurds in Kurdistan [. . .] the American are playing a bad role in the Region."

Violence continues throughout Iraq. Al Mada notes that Nouri al-Maliki is grandstanding and demanding answers from Parliament for the continued and increased violence. Answers, of course, might be embarrassing to Nouri as some State of Law MPs realize and voice concern over what political rival Ayad Allawi might do with any findings. In November 2010, Nouri was named prime minister-designate and was mandated by the Constitution to come up with a full Cabinet in 30 days. He never did that. Three security ministries lack permanent heads. Those are the sort of facts that would not reflect well on Nouri.

Other things that can cause violence? Shutting people out of the political process, making people feel that they have no voice. Aswat al-Iraq reports:

The Director of the UN Iraq Assistance Mission (UNAMI)’s office in Iraq has charged that the conditions of human rights activists in Iraq as “fragile and miserable,” and that the activists are facing many challenges and difficulties.
“The human rights activists in Iraq are facing a lot of challenges and difficulties,” Francesco Muta said in a speech at the Conference of Civil Activists, held in Arbil on Tuesday and attended by Aswat al-Iraq news agency, adding that “Iraqis are being affected by the economic deterioration.”

Nouri has demonized protesters, had them arrested, okayed their torture and kidnapping. Reporters covering the protests have been targeted. Just Friday in Baghdad, security forces whisked at least one activist away in ambulance (kidnapping) and then went on to torture her.

Dar Addustour reports
that the divide between Kurds and Nouri continue and that a group of Kurdish delegates are in Baghdad today. There continue to be calls for the Erbil Agreement to be published. The agreement is what allowed Iraq to leave Political Stalemate I with all political blocs making concessions (all but State of Law). Once the Erbil Agreement was finalized and used to make Nouri prime minister, he tossed it aside creating Political Stalemate II which has now lasted over nine months. How bad are things? Dar Addustour reports Ahmed Chalabi is calling for the issues to be dealt with.

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