W.G. Dunlop (AFP) reports, "Iraqi forces need an American troop presence or at least US training forces, President Jalal Talabani has said, according to a Saturday statement on the Iraqi presidency's website." As noted earlier this week, negotiations between the US and Iraq are ongoing, the Kurds are pressing for US troops, and the numbers that political blocs are throwing around currently: 8,000 to 15,000.
Dan Zak (Washington Post) has been working on a piece about Iraqi youth for some time. It's now published and we'll note this from it: "They view their government as a pseudo-regime that deprives them of basic rights, and they worry that their peers are being lured into the ethnic, sectarian and partisan traps of their elders. They think the world is fixating on revolutions in other Arab countries while ignoring a rotting democracy in Baghdad and their generation’s struggle to live the freedom that was promised to them 81 / 2 years ago." Charlotte Ashton (BBC's The World Tonight) spoke with Iraqi women this month to determine how they see their lives since the start of the war. Here's an excerpt:
Mariam, who is 38, has six children and has lived in Sadr City all her life. We find the family watching cartoons on a massive TV screen in the corner of their spacious living room. She says their lives have changed for the better since the US-led invasion.
"We have democracy now, freedom of expression. People can breathe and the economy has improved, so it's good for us."
But Mariam has one big worry. Her 19-year-old daughter got married last year but divorced shortly afterwards.
"My daughter used to be a star in the neighbourhood but now people look down on her. They never blame the man. Only the woman. They say she must have done something wrong."
For most women in Baghdad the democracy the US and her allies delivered has not brought more freedom. In fact, Lubna says women's rights have deteriorated.
"Women used to behave in a more liberal way under Saddam. And I hate to say that, because I hate Saddam so much, but women were freer under Saddam."
They were. And since 2006, they've lived under the puppet and thug Nouri. For nearly six years, he's done nothing to help Iraqi women. But today, Aswat al-Iraq reports, he wanted to grand stand and pretend otherwise:
"We need laws to be activated , as well as education, enlighten and reform to prevent violence against women", he confirmed.
He praised Iraqi women role in the society, particularly in scientific, cultural, media and security spheres.
And he pointed out that 100 women were currently in the police academy. He failed to point out that when building his cabinet -- November to December 2010 -- he managed to ignore women. Not one minister was a woman. It took extreme pressure on Nouri to even get a woman in the post of the Minister of State for Women's Rights. Mohammed Sawaf (AFP) quotes that minister, Ibtihal al-Zaidi, declaring today, "One-fifth of Iraqi women are subjected to two types of violence, physical and psychological, constituting a very serious danger to the family and society. The most dangerous violence against woman is family violence, from the father, the brother, the husband or even the son."
Meanwhile Aswat al-Iraq reports, "Southern Iraq's Wassit Doctors Syndicate has decided on Friday to close all the private clinics and cease work in them till further notice, in protest to tribal threats against the doctors, according to a Syndicate source on Saturday." Staying with threats, Al Mada reports that Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebair has warned against economic sanctions on Syria both because it is Iraq's neighbor and because there are "thousands" of Iraqis living there.
Al Sabaah notes Iraqi President Jalal Talabani gave an interview to Iraqi Satellite TV in which he bemoaned the state of Iraq but insisted that the answer was not a vote to withdraw confidence in Nouri al-Maliki because, he claims, there is no alternative to Nouri. Really? There are 26 million Iraqis living in Iraq and Nouri's the best that can be found? Jalal wants to be president of Iraq. It's apparently all he's ever wanted. It's a ceremonial position that has no real power -- and what little power it does have, he refuses to exercise (one example: he could stop the executions if he was truly opposed to them as he repeatedly maintains he is) -- but it does allow him to zip in and out of the US -- at a cost of over a million US dollars billed to Iraq -- and get his arteries cleaned. Heaven forbid that the man under doctors orders to drop seventy-five pounds ever do so. Not everyone is as focused on themselves (and their next meal) as Jalal. Aswat al-Iraq reports:
A Legislature of al-Iraqiya Alliance, led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, has said on Saturday that Iraq's current problem lies in the political programing, followed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, to steer the State.
"The current problem in Iraq is not linked to the Presidency or the Legislative authorities, but to the political programs of the Prime Minister, especially as regards to the security dossier, being the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces," Legislature, Haider al-Mulla told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.
And Nouri is so divisive that the Badr Organization (headed by Hadi al-Amiri) is breaking with the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (headed by Ammar al-Hakim). Al Rafidyan reports that move is yet another sign of the crisis facing the National Alliance -- a loose grouping of Shi'ites including State of Law, the Sadr bloc and others -- which backed Nouri for prime minister. By backing Nouri, Hadi al-Amiri was given the portfolio for the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Communication.
The Badr Organization was previously the Badr Brigade which came to be in 1982 in Iran and was the armed wing and they spread into Iraq in April 2003. Hadi al-Amiri has gone public with his issues with the Islamic Supreme Council including that Ammar al-Hakim was selected to fill the post created when Ammar's father passed away. al-Amiri has called that moment when the seeds of division began to take root and decried the leaders who voted Ammar al-Hakim in for, in his opinion, choosing a successor not based on wisdom but to keep the control within the al-Hakim family.
While the Badr Organization is thought to be the militia de-armed, Moqtada al-Sadr's militia remains armed -- as demonstrated by their heavily covered march (heavily covered by the press) which was falsely presented as citizens taking to the streets last April. The National Newspaper reports, "But some Iraqis say the Shiite militia will remain intact in some form and continue to wield considerable influence in the country. Also, many of the militiamen are joining the government's security services under a secret deal between the government and the Sadrist movement, media reports say. Critics say the militants are getting preferential treatment when they apply for admission."
We'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "25 Million U.S. Unemployed And Underemployed Making No Effective Protest, Economist Says" (Grant Lawrence -- Bodhi Thunder):
Although America’s 25 million unemployed and underemployed could be a powerful force for social change, they aren’t combining in any effective way to protest, an eminent business authority writes.
“Activism has given way to acquiescence,” writes Louis Uchitelle, even though “unemployment is once again stubbornly high in the aftermath of a recession that has left the economy persistently weak.”
Worse for the jobless, unemployment is no longer seen as “a failure of the nation’s employers to generate enough demand for workers. That was and still is the reason, but it failed as an explanation and as a prod to action,” Uchitelle writes. Instead, “the unemployed are persistently blamed for their own unemployment, which eases pressure on government to help them.”
Uchitelle, who covers economics for The New York Times, writes that the commonly held belief about unsuccessful job-seekers today is “if only they acquired enough education and skill” they would be hired.
Writing in the November 28th issue of The Nation, Uchitelle recalled that in Sept., 1981, 260,000 people marched on Washington to protest President Ronald Reagan’s mass dismissal of the nation’s air traffic controllers the previous month because they failed to heed his order to end a strike. Today, he says, the unemployed don’t think in terms of mass protests.
Edward Wolff, a labor economist at New York University, says, “It is remarkable how passive the American people are about unemployment.” Wolff and others blame this attitude on the decline of union power and the failure of the air traffic controllers’ strike “which undermined the sympathy toward organized labor that had been characteristic of Americans since the ‘30s.”
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