Friday, December 30, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, protests take place in Turkey and Iraq over the Turkish military killing 35 Kurds, Nouri's forces attack protesters in Baghdad and seize journalists' equipment, Ayad Allawi reminds everyone of the Erbil Agreement, McClatchy closes its Baghdad Bureau, the political crisis continues, the issue of the families of service members being upset about the media whoring for Barack (the false claim that ALL troops were home for Christmas) finally bubbles up in the media, and more.
The Kurds are considered to be the largest minority in the world without a homeland. Northern Iraq borders Turkey. As noted in yesterday's snapshot, using drones for 'tracking' and 'surveillance,' the Turkish military then sent air planes to bomb the border northern Iraq and Turkey share to kill members of the PKK. As Mike noted last night, the Turkish government seems to think it would have been okay if the 35 dead and 20 injured were PKK but they weren't PKK, they were Turkish citizens. The PKK is a group of Kurds -- one among many -- who fight (physically fight, use violence) for Kurdish equality and dream of a Kurdish homeland. Many are in the mountains of northern Iraq. They form in 1984 as a response to decades of oppression in Turkey.
And the government of Turkey gives little reason for them to stop. Last week, Kaya Genc (Index On Censorship) reported, "In the latest wave of arrests of those the state claims are linked to the separatist group Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), 41 people were detained across Turkey on Monday including many journalists. Initial reports placed the number of media workers arrested at 25, but this number rose in the aftermath of the crackdown. Mustafa Özer, the Agence France-Presse photographer, was among those detained in the operation, which is reported to have taken place in the wee hours of the day. Dicle News Agency's offices in İstanbul, Ankara, Diyarbakır, Van, İzmir and Adana were raided and ten staff members were detained, including the agency's news director, editor in chief and various reporters. Five journalists from Turkey's main Kurdish newspaper Özgür Gündem were among those detained, as well as reporters from Birgün and Vatan newspapers." Wladimir van Wilgenburg (Rudaw) reports further on the demonization of all things Kurdish, explaining today that a new video game, which is selling briskly (five million in one week alone) is entitled battlefield and allows the player to be a US soldier fighting 'terrorists' -- the 'terrorists' are Kurds and their base, in the game, is the Kurdistan Regional Government (northern Iraq).
Coffins were brought in a long convoy of cars and ambulances, sounding their horns as mourners flashed defiant V for victory signs. "It is impossible to kill them mistakenly. The soldiers were 150 metres away and had a bird's eye view," 20-year-old Mehmet from Ortasu village, near the site of the raid, said, referring to troops who observed the attack. Mehmet, who also makes his living by smuggling goods from the border, said: "I could have been one of the [victims]." A young woman whose cousin died in the bombing was in tears. "This was no mistake. They intentionally killed people, who were trying to earn a crust," she said.
The EuroNews notes Turkish government claims that there will be an investigation and, they swear, no cover up. A protester in Uludere shouted, "Damn you, Erdogan . . . One day you too will know our pain!" The 35 killed were in Turkey. For some reason the Turkish government continues to insist upon stating that they were in northern Iraq. IC quotes the PKK's Bahoz Erdal stating, "This massacre was no accident ... It was organised and planned. We urge the people of Kurdistan... to react after this massacre and seek a settling of accounts through uprisings." Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) notes of the 35 dead "most appeared to be members of an extended family and were under the age of 30."
CNN reports, "Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that he regrets the deaths of 35 civilians in a military airstrike in a Kurdish area on the border with Iraq." BBC News notes Erdogan termed the attack "unfortunate and saddening" and President Abdullah Gul noted "pain" over the murder of the 35. But, as well as noting that 20 people were also injured in the bombing, Bloomberg News quotes Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc stating, among other things, "Turkey is combating terrorism and in that fight incidents like this may occur." That statement really doesn't make the alleged regret seem genuine. Christopher Torchia (AP) adds, "For a second day, stone-throwing demonstrators clashed with police who responded with tear gas and water cannons in several cities in the mostly Kurdish southeat. Protesters lobbed rocks at a national ruling party office in Diyarbakir, the region's biggest city, and Firat said 30 people were arrested there."
A protest took place in Baghdad today as well and the government's actions did not speak well. It did, however, back up an observation Jack Fairweather (Financial Times of London) made today about how "the mechanics of the Iraqi state remain unchanged from the days of Saddam Hussein." Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) captured the protests in a series of Tweets:
The continued crackdown on protests in Iraq. Excuse me, the continued crackdown on protests in supposedly 'free' Iraq. Nouri's goons grab cameras (Karadsheh's cell phone) and target reporters attempting to do their jobs, the Iraqis beg the reporters to stay out of fear of what happens when no witnesses are around and then the Iraqis disappear. That's Nouri al-Maliki's Iraq and the US installed him and kept him in power in 2010 even when the Iraqi people rejected him by voting Iraqiya into first place in the March 2010 elections with Nouri's State of Law trailing in second place.
Remember what followed those elections? Nouri's tantrums. And eight months of his digging his heels in -- with US backing -- and refusing to surrender the post of prime minister -- even though his term had expired and even though, per the Iraqi Constitution, Iraqiya would have first shot at building a government. Nouri refused to obey the Constitution and the US government applauded that by continuing to back him even when the likes of Moqtada al-Sadr and Ammar al-Hakim were stating publicly that Nouri could not be the next prime minister.
Political Stalemate I ended in November of 2010 with the Erbil Agreement hammered out in Erbil between the major political blocs (and the US) whereby every one was supposed to make concessions. The Kurds would get to keep Jalal Talabani as president. They thought they would get three vice presidents. Iraqiya won the elections in March 2010 and the political bloc was headed by Ayad Allawi. Nouri wasn't stepping down and the White House was backing Nouri. For Nouri to remain prime minister, Allawi was promised he would head a new, independent council over security issues. He was also promised that the Iraqiya candidates demonized as Ba'athists and forced out of the 2010 elections by Nouri's friends would have their names cleared.
On November 11th, the new Parliament held their first real session. They voted Osama al-Nujaifi Speaker of Parliament (he was from Iraqiya and that was part of the Erbil Agreement), Jalal was named president and Nouri was named prime minister designate (but we were all informed in the following days that this was 'unofficial' -- once named prime minister-designate, you have 30 days, per the Constitution, to put together a Cabinet and get the Parliament to sign off on each member). But what of the security council? It and other promises were forgotten as Nouri refused to abide by the agreement.
Ayad Allawi, leader of Iraqiya and former prime minister of Iraq, remembers what happened and Tweeted about it this week.
Nobember 25th, Jalal 'officially' named Nouri prime minister-designate. Nouri had created Political Stalemate I by refusing to surrender the prime minister post. He'd done that for eight months. In that time, he should have had some ideas about a Cabinet. But Nouri's problem was he over-promised to get support. So when it was time to name a Cabinet, suddenly the Cabinet had more ministers and deputy ministers than it had previously (from 37 in 2006 to 42 in 2010). And he still couldn't keep his promises to everyone. December 21, 2010, the Constitution was tossed by the wayside and Nouri was allowed to move from prime minister-designate to prime minister because he'd assembled a kind of Cabinet. He named 31 out of 42 ministers and people pretended that was good enough. He had failed to meet the Constitutional mandate of naming a Cabinet but everyone looked the other way.
He refused to name the security posts: National Security, Interior and Defense. His defenders (including the White House) swore those posts would be named in a matter of weeks. His detractors saw the refusal as part of a pattern of power grabs on Nouri's part and stated he wouldn't fill the posts. This is the start of Political Stalemate II. And it's where Iraq remains, still in a stalemate and now in a political crisis. In the latest embarrassment for Nouri al-Maliki, Alsumaria TV reports that State of Law MP Adnan Mayahi, who serves on Parliament's Security and Defense Commission, has declared that the bulk of Iraq's security services have been infiltrated and that a great many working in prisons practice torture. After a year of refusing to name heads to the Ministery of the Interior, the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Defense, you'd think stories like this would lead for widespread calls for Nouri to stop holding those posts and instead fill them. And Alsumaria TV has now reported more on this story on their English version site:
No Iraqis would be imprisoned for their opinions and thoughts but for violence and terrorism only, Armed Forces General Commander Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki assured, on December 10. There are no limits for human freedom if it doesn't oppose public interest, he added, a source told Alsumaria. Iraqiya List headed by Iyad Allawi revealed, on December 14, that random arrests are still occuring in all Iraqi regions which contradicts human rights' basics. Our members are holding constant meetings regarding this issue, Iraqiya indicated. Iraqi Government is not executing most of its international agreements and conventions concerning human, women, children and prisoners' rights, Representative of Secretary General of the United Nations in Iraq Walter Kalin accused in his report on June 3. In its report issued last February, Amnesty International revealed that there are secret prisons in Iraq where detainees are being tortured for confessions used in their convictions.
Meanwhile it's been one denial after another from Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi. Ammar Karim (AFP) reports he is denying co-writing "How to Save Iraq From Civil War" (New York Times) with Rafie al-Issawi and Ayad Allawi but instead insists that his name was added to the byline without his knowledge. Why deny co-writing the column? Because some are saying the column was a letter to the White House asking it to intervene in Iraqi matters. Alsumaria TV reports that National Alliance MP Qasim al-Araji is among those declaring that the column is a plea to the Barack Obama administration to intervene in Iraqi affairs.
In addition, Al Mada reports al-Nujaifi is denying having made a deal with President Jalal Talabani to oust Nouri via a vote of no confidence. Al Rafidayn notes that he declared the meet-up with Talabani was to discuss a national conference to be held shortly to address issues (including the political crisis) and the need to resolve the Tareq al-Hashemi issue via the judiciary. On the first issue, Al Mada notes Talabani says the conference will be held within two weeks and, on thesecond issue, Al Mada adds that the political blocs are currently debating the proposal that al-Hashemi's case be transferred to the Kurdish judiciary.
Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, a member of Iraqiya, has been accused by Nouri al-Maliki of being a terrorist. If convicted of that charge, the punishment is life in prison or execution. Tareq al-Hashemi is currently in the KRG and a house guest of President Talabani. al-Hashemi is not the only member of Iraqiya that Nouri has targeted recently. He's also demanding that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his office. Were al-Mutlaq stripped of his office, he would lose immunity and Nouri could sue him for statements Nouri did not like. (Nouri is highly litigious. Along with suing other Iraqi politicians, he likes to sue news outlets such as the Guardian.) The targeting of the two members of Iraqiya comes as rumors swirl that others will be targeted -- including supposed arrest charges for Financial Minister al-Issawi -- and after the November arrests of over 500 alleged "Ba'athists." In an introduction to a new profile on the Financial Minister, Jack Healy and Michael R. Gordon (New York Times) observe:
He may also be the next leader to fall as the country's Shiite prime minister takes aim at perceived rivals and enemies, his fate a litmus test for a country in crisis.
Unlike other Sunni politicians who have drawn fire from the Shiite-led government, Mr. Essawi is known as a conciliatory figure who has built bridges with Kurds, Shiites and Westerners. If the prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, takes action against him -- he has already tried to relieve Mr. Essawi of his duties -- it could open deep new divisions in Iraq's already tattered sectarian landscape and send a discouraging signal about whether a post-United States Iraq can forge a truly inclusive and representative government.
A politician in Maliki's own National Alliance told McClatchy yesterday that Maliki holds "complete" sway over the Supreme Court. It was the Supreme Court's "interpretation" of the constitution that enabled Maliki to retain his position as PM and form a government after the last elections, although Iraqiya bloc had the highest take. It was also through the Supreme Court that Maliki all but stopped the legislative powers of the parliament by its "interpreting" the constitution to say that legislation can only stem from the executive branch (cabinet and presidency) and that the parliament could only make "suggestions".
The report is called "Iraq At The Crossroads" and hopefully it will run in all McClatchy owned papers because it's an important piece. We're grabbing from it on the courts because that's what I need for this entry but the whole thing is a gripping read. McClatchy's Iraqi journalists have done top-notch work throughout the war. This report (at McClatchy's Inside Iraq) continues that tradition. And today brings the news, at Inside Iraq, in a heartfelt post, that McClatchy's Baghdad Bureau has now closed. Sahar Issa, Laith Hammoudi, Jenan Hussein, Mohammed al Dulaimy and others did so much to help the world understand what was taking place on the ground in Iraq. Their spirit and passion for journalism was inpsiring even before you factor in that their reporting took place as Iraq became the war that claimed the most journalist lives and as the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders repeatedly documented the attacks taking place within Iraq on journalists and the practice of journalism.
While some risked all to convey the truth, others live to obscure. Professional victim and apparent hobbyist liar Mayada Al Askari surfaces to flaunt her stupidity at Gulf News. In a poorly written piece, Mayada wants to yet again snarl about Saddam and attack Iraqiya because her hatred has consumed her and she has nothing left to offer but anger and lies. (You'd think someone who should be seeing their life as "rescued" would be able to tap into some joy but some people only want to embrace the darkness.) The piece of trash scribbles a defense of Thug Nouri in which she notes:
Al Hashemi, who is a member of the Al Iraqiya bloc, is accused of backing terrorism, and the Supreme Judicial Council in Baghdad issued an arrest warrant after a number of his bodyguards confessed to carrying out terrorist acts.
The Al Iraqiya bloc headed by Dr Ayad Allawi mishandled the problem by boycotting the parliament, which may easily lead to additional deterioration in stability and security.
Let's be really clear here, Mayada is nothing but TRASH. When you've made it your life's purpose over the last years (even before the US invasion) to decry torture and false confessions under Saddam, you damn well don't accept 'confessions' at face value. That's even before you realize that Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have repeatedly documented that 'confessions' are forced by torture under Nouri al-Maliki. You're trash because you pretended to give a damn about torture but in fact all you gave a damn about was that torture touched your own tiny circle. You weren't opposed to torture, you weren't opposed to forced confessions. If you truly were, you'd be the last person in the world to be insisting that 'confessions' aired on state TV qualified as genuine confessions. You're just a dirty trash. And possibly that keeps you far too busy to ever concern yourself with facts, but, as usual, your facts are wrong.
Iraqiya did not walk out on Parliament in response to the arrest warrant for Tareq al-Hashemi. From the Friday, December 16, 2011 snapshot: "In other explosive news, Al Mada reports that Iraqiya has announced it is breaking off talks with the ruling bloc. [. . .] When announcing that talks were over, Al Mada notes Iraqiya stated that they had given up a great deal for the good of Iraq but there was no compromise from another. That's a reference to Nouri's State of Law as well as the coalition he now heads. In giving up the right to prime minister, Iraqiya was promised (and the Erbil Agreement is in writing) that an independent security commission would be created and that Ayad Allawi would head it. That's among the many broken promises Nouri made to keep his claws on the post of prime minister." That was their announcement on Friday, December 16th.
Saturday, December 17th, they made good on their announcement. Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) reported, "The Iraqiya political bloc boycotted parliament today over Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's failure to properly share power and the arrests of hundreds of Sunni Iraqiya suppoerters in a crackdown against alleged Ba'ath Party members. [. . .] During a meeting last night the Iraqi block decided to suspend its participation in parliament to protest the prime minister's management of the country."
Sunday, December 18th was the infamous airport moment at Baghdad International where Nouri's goons forced Saleh al-Mutlaq (Deputy Prime Minister), Tareq al-Hashemi and Finance Minister Rafie al-Issawi as well as their bodyguards. Three of al-Hashemi's bodyguards were taken into custody, the rest and the three officials were let go and allowed to reboard the plane.
CNN reported this afternoon that an arrest warrant had been issued for Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi by the Judicial Commitee with the charge of terrorism. Omar al-Saleh (Al Jazeera) terms it a "poltical crisis" and states, "The government says this has nothing to do with the US withdrawal, that this has nothing to do with the prime minister consolidating his grip on power. However, members of al-Iraqiya bloc, which Hashimis is a member of, say 'No, [Maliki] is trying to be a dictator." Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) observes, "The arrest warrant puts Mr. Maliki on a possible collision course with the Kurds, who run their own semiautonomous region in the north and participate in the central government but have longstanding disputes with Baghdad over oil and land; and with Sunni Arabs in provinces like Anbar, Diyala, Nineveh and Salahuddin who have pressed in recent weeks for more autonomy from Baghdad with the backing of the Kurds."
No, Iraqiya did not walk out on Parliament after an arrest warrant was issued for Tareq al-Hashemi. That is a bold face lie. Mayad Al Askari is trash and she's condemned herself to a hell of her own sickness because instead of embracing a new chance offered she wants to baste in the hatred she's carried, stroked and nursed for years and years and years. She'll die in a hell of her own making. There is no hope for her. She will never awaken to the fact that her life could have been different if she'd chosen to embrace the present instead of submerging in a past that is long gone.
Back to al-Nujaifi denials, Alsumaria TV reports he is also denying accusations that his actions are being directed by the United States which, the rumor insists, seeks to overthrow Nouri.
Turning to the topic of Sahwa. They've been called "Awakenings" and "Sons Of Iraq." They are Iraqis (largely Sunni but some Shi'ites as well according to David Petreaus' April 2008 Congressional testimony -- Petraeus is now CIA Director but he was the top commander in Iraq back then). They were put on the US payroll to get them to stop attacking the US military. Al Mada reports that the Baghdad-based government has recorded 1498 Sahwas deaths since 2006nd that another 830 Sahwas have been left wounded. The government also estimates that over 100,000 people became Sahwas since the program's 2006 inception.
Remember all the weeks this month we've repeatedly called out the press lie that ALL US troops have come home from Iraq? Remember how we've noted that some are being repostured to surrounding areas of Iraq and that some will actually remain in Iraq? And we've called out the press repeatedly for its painful lie. We've noted repeatedly that family members of loved ones who are not coming home for Christmas have decried this lie and have mailed this site and Third about how painful it is to hear the lie of "ALL" over and over from one outlet after another (including The NewsHour on PBS which should be able to get the facts right)? Geoff Ziezulewicz (Stars and Stripes) has an important article today on family members upset that their loved ones are not home for Christmas and he notes, "
It has also been painful to see news articles in the past week touting the fact that all U.S. troops are home from Iraq, Thane said." That's Andrea Thane whose husband is not yet out of the Middle East. There was never a reason for the media to WHORE for the administration and put lies over the airwaves to give Barack a happy Christmas poll boost. But they chose to, they chose to whore for Barack at the expense of reality and we noted repeatedly here and at Third that their WHORING was HURTING military families. They need to do some self-reflection on the way they MISREPORTED all month long.
We first began hearing from the family of service members on this issue at the end of November and wrote "Editorial: Words have meaning" about this subject and the pain it was causing. The media chose repeatedly to disregard the truth because they wanted to whore for Barack. I'm sorry but I thought the media role was to inform the public (of reality), not to lie in order to push up the poll numbers of a politician.