Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Nouri as the Little Saddam

Alsumaria TV notes that the move by Salahuddin Province to explore semi-autonomy is leading to renewed talk that Nineveh Province should become a province for minorities. Iraqi Christians have been calling for the creation of such a province for some time now and these calls intensified following last years attack on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad.

Another province that's had talk of becoming semi-autonomous is Anbar Province whose governor Qasim al-Fahadawi was the target of an assassination attempt yesterday. Andrew E. Kramer (New York Times) notes, "Because the bomb was planted and detonated within sight of an Iraqi Army checkpoint, Sunni leaders said the attack showed the Shiite-dominated central government's disregard for their safety, or worse." Al Rafidayn adds that al-Fahadawi has accused the Iraqi military of the attempted assassination noting that the attempt took place near a military checkpoint. He declares that in the past he's been attacked by al Qaeda in Mesopotamia (he lost a leg in one such attack) and that he knows the way they operate but this one was less than 100 meters from the military checkpoint run by the Muthanna Brigade. Kramer quotes Sahwa leader Sheik Ahmed Abu Risha stating, "I accuse the Dawa Party, in collusion with the Muthanna Brigade, for trying to assassinate the governor of Anbar." Nouri al-Malikis the leader of Dawa. He is also over the Iraqi military. Muqdad Noori (Rudaw) weighs in on Nouri:

But I believe that Prime Minister Maliki has now ensured that the Americans will leave Iraq by the end of the year. The news of the American pullout came as surprise to many. Given Maliki’s ambitions to rule Iraq unchallenged, however, it is likely that he has sped up the American withdrawal.
With the Americans gone, he can go about imposing the will of his own party and ruling elite and sideline by any means necessary any opponent standing in his way.
The Iranian influence on the Iraqi prime minister is undeniable. For Maliki, appeasing the Iranians -- who funded his Dawa Party for decades and have stood by him ever since -- by making sure the American troops leave Iraq, seems to matter more than the rightful demand of some Iraqis that American soldiers remain in Iraq, which may prevent new hostilities and civil war.
In his second term in office, Maliki hasn't missed a chance to show who is in charge of Iraq. He frequently ignores the Parliament and House of Representatives and does what he wants to do.

The Oman Tribune notes the move of Salaheddin Province to become semi-autonomous and Nouri's crackdown on political opponents (arresting them for allegedly being "Ba'ahtists") and quotes the International Crisis Group's Joost Hiltermann stating, "There is a severe dysfunction between the centre, Baghdad, and the provinces; and there are big tensions between the prime minister and his opponents. The two phenomena converge on provinces, which blame neglect from Baghdad on sectarian motives. The arrest campaign has reinforced this." iNewp.com adds, "People are fearing that Maliki may become another Hussein, especially as he is delaying the appointments of individuals to senior government positions that would co-lead the security forces. He is also being criticized for running the Ministry of the Interior as interim minister and the Ministry of Defense alone with a few other power holders." Though Nouri claimed and the press trumpeted in December 2010 that he would appoint ministers to head the Ministries of Defense, National Security and Interior in a matter of weeks, nearly a year later that has not happened increasing the initial assertion that he never intended to name people to the posts and that he was launching a power grab.

The Nouri-run Ministry of the Interior is in the news this morning. Aswat al-Iraq reports, "Iraq's Interior Ministry has denied that a detainee, called Kazim Munshid, has died under torture, but said he died after committing suicide in southern Iraq's Muthanna Prison, according to an Interior Ministry statement on Monday." While it is very likely that anyone trapped in what passes for a 'legal' system in Iraq might take their own life, Nouri's repeatedly getting caught running torture cells and secret prisons as well as the Iraqi security forces well known utilization of torture makes it equally likely that Kazim Munshid was tortured to death.

Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and her office notes:

NOVEMBER 7, 2011
CONTACT: MURRAY: 202-224-2834
MILLER 202-225-3527

Chairman Murray and Miller Applaud Compromise to Put America's Veterans Back to Work
"VOW to Hire Heroes Act" Ensures Vets Get Job Training Skills to Find Gainful Employment.

Washington, DC -- Today, US Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, and U.S. Representative Jeff Miller (R-FL), Chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, commended an agreement reached to boost employment opportunities for veterans.

After serving our country honorably, all veterans deserve the chance to earn a paycheck and support their families. Unfortunately the unemployment rate for veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan remains stubbornly high. The "VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011" contains bipartisan provisions to ensure that all service members transitioning to civilian life receive the job training skills they need to find a job to be competitive in today's economic climate. The legislation is fully paid for through offsets.
"This agreement is a bipartisan and comprehensive approach to getting our nation's veterans back to work," said Chairman Murry. "It includes Republican and Democratic ideas we have patted our veterans on the back for their service and then pushed them out into the job market alone. By advancing this legislation we are giving our veterans the job skills to get their foot in the door and incentivizing employers to make sure that door is open to them."

"Today, we are putting aside politics and putting America's veterans first. This is how the process should work," stated Chairman Miller. "The VOW Act, which passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support, provides the framework for this legislation and gets to the root of many of the employment problems our veterans face such as the inability to compete in today's job market and a seamless transition from active duty to civilian life. As in any negotiation, neither party gets everything they want, but we found common ground as the House pledged to do in September. I am hopeful that through the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, we can break the logjam of legislation that is currently pending and get all unemployed Americans back to work."


· Expands education and training opportunities for older veterans by providing nearly 100,000 unemployed veterans of past eras and wars with up to 1-year of additional Montgomery GI benefits to go towards education or training programs at community colleges or technical schools for high-demand jobs.

· Makes the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) -- an interagency workshop coordinated by Departments of Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs -- mandatory for service members moving on to civilian life to help them secure 21st Century jobs through resume writing workshops and career counseling.

· Provides disabled veterans up to 1-year of additional Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Benefits.

· Works with the states to create a licensing and credentialing standard for returning service members to break down the barriers to find meaningful employment in their military occupations.

· Allows service members to begin the federal employment process prior to separation in order to facilitate a truly seamless transition from the military to jobs at VA, Homeland Security, or the many other federal agencies in need of our veterans.

· Strengthens the protections for members of the National Guard and Reserve in the workforce to minimize hostile work environments.

· Provides a tax credit of up to $5,600 for hiring veterans who have been looking for a job for more than six months, as well as a $2,400 credit for veterans who are unemployed for more than 4 weeks, but less than 6 months. Also provides a tax credit of up to $9,600 for hiring veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been looking for a job for more than six months.


Meghan Roh

Deputy Press Secretary

Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray



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