Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Is Iraq about to become a federation?

Andrew E. Kramer (New York Times) reports arrests continue in what Nouri insists is a crackdown on 'Ba'athists' and, citing 'intel' from Libya, that these 'Ba'athists' were plotting a coup. Kramer notes that the arrests could fuel further sectarian strife and that Sunnis especially are feeling targeted. Haji Abu Ahmed is quoted stating, "Frankly, I am very scared and expect to be arrested at any moment. The current practices are the same as the practices of Saddam. There seems to be no difference between the two systems. Saddam was chasing Dawa, and now Dawa is chasing Baathists."

As the arrests continued last week, Salahuddin Province's council voted to become semi-autonomous. (Per the Constitution the next, and final, step is for the issue to be put to the residents of Salahuddin Province.) Alsumaria TV reports Nouri has ordered the Iraq Army th division to arrest any protestors in Salahuddin Province. Any? Well those who get permission from Nouri to protest can (specifically his Ministry of Interior which has no permanent minister). For those wondering, any regulating of protests are supposed to be up to the province itself. And the protesters who turned out throughout Salhuddin on Friday were demonstrating in support of the Salhuddin provincial council.

Dar Addustour reports
that Nineveh Province is now contemplating holding a referendum on becoming semi-autonomous. Currently only the three provinces of the KRG are semi-autonomous. In addition, leader of the Sahwa ("Awakening," "Sons Of Iraq"), Sheikh Ahmad al-Risha talks about the desires of some in Anbar Province to follow suit. And the report notes that "thousands" poured into the streets of Salahuddin yesterday to denounce Nouri al-Maliki's remarks. He's so popular. Andrew E. Kramer notes that Anbar leaders are stating they will take a vote to become semi-autonomous if those arrested in Nouri's latest crackdown are not released.

Meanwhile file it under "They think everyone is as stupid as they are," the Minister of Justice is making claims. Al Mada reports that Minister Hassam Shammari has declared that all those arrested in the crackdown have confessed. Yes, over 600 people have all confessed, that's believable. Especially when you consider that Iraqi forces are infamous for the use of torture to coerce confessions. These 'confessions' do more to undermine Nouri's claims of intel than anything else and they demonstrate that Little Nouri is the new Saddam.

In other news, Al Mada reports State Of Law (Nouri's political slate) is confirming that the US Air Force will remain in charge of Iraqi skies beyond December 31, 2011. The article notes it will take years for Iraq to be able to patrol its own skies. Wonder when Barack -- or the US press -- planned on telling Americans that? Dar Addustour notes those recently order F-16s will be arriving in 2013.

In Little Nouri's Iraq, it's all about lies. Take the one about a free press. Aswat al-Iraq reports that a female journalist attempting to cover a protest at the University of Baghdad yesterday was detained by Iraqi forces "for several hours." Dar Addustour notes many other journalists attempting to cover the protests were also harassed by security forces. The students were calling for more autonomy including rebuking the university president's decision that they will wear uniforms.

The following community sites -- plus CSpan, World Can't Wait and Antiwar.com -- updated last night:
Plus Betty's "Desperate Housewives," Ruth's "I think the POLITICO story was a mistake," Kat's "Review," Mike's "Isaiah, Chuck, Iraq, Third" and Elaine's "Chris Hedges, Isaiah, Ava and C.I.."

We'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "Cuba Undergoing 'Silent Transition' Toward A Free Market Economy" (Veterans Today):

Cuba is undergoing a “silent transition” from socialism to a mixed economy but the U.S. hasn’t responded with diplomatic initiatives, an authority on Latin American affairs writes.
A series of economic reforms are shrinking the size of the state-run economy and making room for a greatly expanded private sector,” says Michelle Chase, professor of Latin American history at Bloomfield (N.J.) College.
The reforms are being instituted slowly, however. Roberto Veiga Gonzalez, a progressive Catholic editor of a journal published by the Archdiocese of Havana calls the gradual transition “responsible,” but adds Cubans needs the reforms now because they can’t take the hardship any longer. Cubans are enduring hard times. Many families are already spending 80% of their income just on food.
Writing in the November 7th issue of The Nation magazine, Chase says some in the government want economic reforms modeled after China and Vietnam but others “want Cuba’s reforms to be tailored in a way that would give priority to small, worker-owned cooperatives” that are a kind of “decentralized socialism.”
Whatever the shape of the future, Raul Castro, who promised Cuba would never return to capitalism, appears to be doing just that. A year ago, Chase writes, he directed mass layoffs of government workers to trim a bloated bureaucracy and designated new areas for entrepreneurial expansion.
Since last April, Havana has granted some 330,000 licenses and the newly self-employed, known as cuentapropistas, are now allowed to hire Cubans outside of their own families. “The government’s stated goal,” Chase writes, “is to have nearly half the populace working in the private sector by 2015. For a country where nearly 90 percent of the economy was once in state hands, that will be a major about-face.”
Whereas in 1990, liberal reforms in Cuba were viewed as “a necessary evil” today, Chase explains, “the leadership actually embraces the notion of a robust private sector.” Adds Omar Everleny, a professor at the Center for the Study of the Cuban Economy at the University of Havana, “When you read the Guidelines and Raul’s speeches, you realize he’s determined to change things....he’s made the decision not to turn back.”

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