Friday, January 13, 2012

Moqtada continues to offer leadership during Nouri's political crisis

In Iraq, the political crisis continues. Al Mada reports that the expanded meeting (not the national conference) is set for this Sunday. This follows the meet-up Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had this week. The three are scheduled to attend the Sunday meet-up along with heads of the main political blocs. Whether a national conference follows after that is open to debate. Al Mada also reports that the National Alliance has demands for attending any national conference and they include that the meet-up takes place in Baghdad and that "no Saddamists or terrorists" be invited. Following up on that thread of insults, Al Rafidayn reports that Yusuf Qaradawi, head of the International Association of Muslim Scholars, now stands accused of being an agent of Israel and the United States. Alsumaria TV notes that debate continues on where the national conference would be held (KRG President Massoud Barzani will not attend if it's held in Baghdad). And Barazani is now saying -- from scrawl on Alsumaria website -- that he won't attend any national conference if the Erbil Agreement is not implemented. Continuing his surprising recent pattern of 'elder statesman,' Moqtada al-Sadr continues to talk like a leader. Alsumaria TV reports he is calling on everyone to stay calm and not let differences tear the country apart.

Nouri kicked off the political crisis last month by targeting Iraqiya. Among other things, he wants Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq stripped of his office and Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi arrested. Niqash interviews Tareq al-Hashemi:

NIQASH: In terms of the charges of terrorism against you, you have always insisted upon your innocence. But if that is so, then why did you leave Baghdad and why don’t you return there?

Tariq al-Hashimi: I left Baghdad on Dec. 17 so I had left the city before the testimonies of my guards [against me] were broadcast on TV. I came to Sulaymaniyah after an official invitation was extended to me on Dec. 15 by His Excellency, the President of the Republic [Kurdish politician Jalal Talabani]. The invitation was extended to me and my colleague Khodair al-Khozaei [also a vice president] in order for us to attend the presidency’s council meeting.

NIQASH: So you’re saying you were not trying to escape the arrest warrant?

Al-Hashimi: No, I did not run away. I am confident that the judiciary and the Iraqi courts will uphold my name and reputation in due course.

NIQASH: So why don’t you just return to Baghdad?

Al-Hashimi: Because I don’t trust the judiciary in Baghdad. This is why I officially requested that the government transfer my trial to Kirkuk. This is a legitimate request under Article 55, which gives the defendant the right to request a change of location for a trial.

Meanwhile Sami Moubayed (Asia Times) weighs in on the crisis and possible motivations:

A closer look at Hashemi's arrest warrant shows that Maliki's move had little to do with Hashemi himself. Although the aging statesmen has been a headache for Maliki's coalition in recent years, his mischief was always "controllable" as the man threatened to walk out on cabinets over and over - but never took the bold move.
He does not command a militia that roams the streets, has not been convicted of any treason and certainly is not "Saudi Arabia's number one" in Iraqi politics.
The charge brought against him is of operating a militia in the post-2003 order that is accused of killing political opponents. Big deal - by Iraqi standards. If Maliki wanted to go by an anti-militia yardstick, then he would have to arrest his prime allies Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and Ammar al-Hakim, who respectively run the Mehdi Army and Badr Brigade, two Iran-affiliated military groups.
Hashemi's warrant, pretty much as he has been saying all along, is 100% political, aimed at arm-twisting and scaring the Sunni community at large, which he represents.
Maliki is worried that the Arab Spring will soon reach Baghdad, now that the Americans have left, only this time it won't be society at large rising against an aging despot; it will be the Sunni minority that ruled Iraq since creation of the modern country in the 1920s, against the Shi'ite majority that came into power after the 2003 toppling of Saddam.

Finally Al Mada reports that MP Rafi Abd al-Jabbar (Sadr bloc) is objecting to the continued presence of the (US) CIA in Iraq, stating it undermines Iraqi sovereignty and continues the US occupation.

ADDED: Remember, next month, the first ever scientific symposium will be held in New York.

1st Annual Scientific Symposium on
Lung Health after Deplyoment to Iraq & Afghanistan
February 13, 2012

sponsored by
Office of Continuing Medical Education
School of Medicine
Stony Brook University

Health Sciences Center, Level 3, Lecture Hall 5
Anthony M. Szema, M.D., Program Chair
Stony Brook
Medical Center

This program is made possible by support from the
Sergeant Thomas Joseph Sullivan Center, Washington, D.C.


* Register with your credit card online at:

* Download the registration form from:
fax form to (631) 638-1211

For Information Email:

1st Annual Scientific Symposium on
Lung Health after Deployment to Iraq & Afghanistan
Monday, February 13, 2012
Health Sciences Center
Level 3, Lecture Hall 5

Program Objective: Upon completion, participants should be able to recognize new-onset of lung disease after deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.

8:00 - 9:00 a.m. Registration & Continental Breakfast (Honored Guest, Congressman
Tim Bishop

9:00 - 9:30 Peter Sullivan, J.D., Father of Marine from The Sergeant Thomas Joseph
Sullivan Center, Washington, D.C.

9:40 - 10:10 Overview of Exposures in Iraq, Anthony Szema, M.D., (Assistant
Professor of Medicine and Surgery, Stony Brook University)

10:10 - 10:40 Constrictive Bronchiolitis among Soldiers after Deployment, Matt
King, M.D. (Assistant Professor of Medicine, Meharry Medical College,
Nashville, TN)

10:40 - 11:10 BREAK

11:10 - 11:40 Denver Working Group Recommendations and Spirometry Study in
Iraq/Afghanistan, Richard Meehan, M.D., (Chief of Rheumatology and
Professor of Medicine, National Jewish Health, Denver, CO)

11:40 a.m. - Microbiological Analyses of Dust from Iraq and Afghanistan, Captain Mark

12:10 p.m. Lyles, D.M.D., Ph. D., (Vice Admiral Joel T. Boone Endowed Chair of
Health and Security Studies, U.S. Naval War College, Newport, RI)

12:10 - 12:20 Health Care Resource Utilization among Deployed Veterans at the White
River Junction VA, James Geiling, M.D., (Professor and Chief of Medicine,
Dartmouth Medical School, VA White River Junction, VT)

Graduate students Millicent Schmidt and Andrea Harrington (Stony Brook
University) present Posters from Lung Studies Analyzed for Spatial
Resolution of Metals at Brookhaven National Laboratory's National
Synchrotron Light Source

1:20 - 1:40 Epidemiologic Survey Instrument on Exposures in Iraq and Afghanistan,
Joseph Abraham, Sc.D., Ph.D., (U.S. Army Public Health Command,
Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD)

1:40 - 2:10 Overview of the Issue Raised during Roundtable on Pulmonary Issues
and Deployment, Coleen Baird, M.D., M.P.H., (Program Manager
Environmental Medicine, U.S. Army Public Health Command)

2:10 - 2: 40 Reactive Oxygen Species from Iraqi Dust, Martin Schoonen, Ph.D.
(Director Sustainability Studies and Professor of Geochemistry, Stony
Brook University)

2:40 - 2:50 BREAK

2:50 - 3:15 Dust Wind Tunnel Studies, Terrence Sobecki, Ph.D. (Chief Environmental
Studies Branch, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research
and Engineering Laboratory, Manchester, NH)

3:15 - 3:45 Toxicologically Relevant Characteristics of Desert Dust and Other
Atmospheric Particulate Matter, Geoffrey S. Plumlee, Ph.D. (Research
Geochemist, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO)

3:44 - 4:15 In-situ Mineralogy of the Lung and Lymph Nodes, Gregory Meeker, M.S.
(Research Geochemist, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO)

Continuing Medical Education Credits

The school of Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brook, is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
The School of Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brooke designates this live activity for a maximum of 6 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)TM. Physicians should only claim the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

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