Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Continued political crisis, 17 Iraqis executed, Iraqis call out sexism, and more

Dar Addustour reports that MP Bahaa al-Araji of the Sadr bloc is displaying documents which show the US Embassy in Baghdad has requested that they be allowed to bring 3,500 armored cars and that these will be used to continue the occupation, sew unrest in Iraq, target members of the League of Righteous and more. Meanwhile Hossam Accomok (Al Mada) notes Iraqiya leader Ayada allawi reportedly met with Iran's Ambassador to Iraq (Hassan Danaii) and was accompanied by Ahmed Chalabi. Iraqiya is saying nothing at present about the alleged three hour meeting which may also have included Saleh al-Mutlaq and others. The meeting reportedly covered issues that have resulted in the political crisis. If the meeting did take place, the US government better be paying attention. They've strung Ayad Allawi for so long, promising him that they would mediate and not offered any real mediation, begged him to set aside his claim to prime minister for the good of the country, etc. Iraqiya has spent most of last week and this week denying that there would be any meet-up with Iran (mainly that Allawi was headed to or already in Tehran) but if they are entering into a dialogue, good for them. Maybe they'll get something from Tehran or it will wake up the White House to the fact that they can't string everyone along forever in their rush to protect Nouri.

In another report, Al Mada notes unnamed officials are stating that there is strong polarization in the leadership of Iraiqya -- Allawi, Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq. These rumors have floated for some time but have, thus far, not resulted in any huge split. In fact, there were angry words exchanged in November 2010 between Allawi and al-Nuajaifi -- when Iraqiya walked out of the Parliament over Nouri's refusal to address the security council and the clearing of the names of Iraqiya members -- over al-Nujaifi's decision to continue the session. That was put aside after its airing. If anyone gets ditched quickly, my guess would be that it would be Saleh al-Mutlaq who could find himself out of a position and would then be quickly whisked out of the country. (If he loses his position, he loses his immunity and Nouri would sue him.) Tareq al-Hashemi might be the more obvious choice were it not for the fact that he has Kurdish support. In fact, Talabani is al-Hashemi's weakest support in that the protection Talabani's offered has come as a result of the demands of other Kurdish officials. Al Rafidayn has a report asserting al-Mutlaq met with Dawa leaders (highest ranking thus far, Dawa's Secretary-General Hashim al-Musawi) about resolving the issues between himself and Nouri.

Dar Addustour reports that Aiham Alsammarae, former Minister of Electricity and Constitutional expert, is calling for Nouri to step down as prime minister. Alsammarae served as Minister of Electricity from 2003 to 2005 and was the only Minister of Electricity to manage to increase the output of electricity to Iraqis. After he resigned, the output fell and has still not reached the levels of production under his leadership. Dar Addustour doesn't state whether he made the call from Iraq or not. (His family was living in Chicago. I thought they still were -- including him.)

Al Mada notes KRG President Massoud Barzani has called the current political crisis the biggest one Iraq has faced since the 2003 invasion. He is calling for the partnership to be honored and stated that the Kurds had attempted to play mediator with no success due to a lack of commitment from other players.

In other news, AFP notes that the Minister of Justice declared Iraq executed 17 people yesterday bringing the total number executed in Iraq this year to 51.

Dropping back to last Friday's snapshot:

Now let's turn to the issue of women and former Minister of Women's Affairs Nawal al-Samarraie who publicly stood out and decired the discrimination within the government during Nouri al-Maliki's first term as prime minister. February 6, 2009, she was in the news when she resigned because her ministry was not properly funded (a meager monthly budget of $7,500 a month was slashed to $1,400) and she states, "I reached to the point that I will never be able to help the women." That was very embarrassing for Nouri. So naturally the New York Times worked overtime to ignore it. (See Third Estate Sunday Review's "NYT goes tabloid.") NPR's Corey Flintoff covered it for Morning Edition (link has text and audio).

Nouri didn't care for Nawal al-Samarraie or the needed attention she raised. Which was reflected in his second term when he tried to erase women completely. From the December 22, 2010 snapshot:

Turning to Iraq, Liz Sly and Aaron Davis (Washington Post) note, "A special gathering of the nation's parliament endorsed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for a second term in office, with lawmakers then voting one by one for 31 of the eventual 42 ministers who will be in his cabinet." AFP notes that all but one is a man, Bushra Hussein Saleh being the sole woman in the Cabinet. And they quote Kurdish MP Ala Talabani stating, "We congratulate the government, whose birth required eight months, but at the same time we are very depressed when we see the number of women chosen to head the ministries. Today, democracy was decapitated by sexism. The absence of women is a mark of disdain and is contrary to several articles of the constitution. I suggest to Mr Maliki to even choose a man for the ministry of women's rights, as you do not have confidence in women." Ala Talabani is the niece of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. Imran Ali (Womens Views On News) reminds, "The new constitution stipulates that a quarter of the members of parliament be women and prohibits gender discrimination." Apparently concern about representation doesn't apply to the Cabinet (and, no, Nouri's attempts at offering excuses for the huge gender imbalance do not fly).

42 posts to fill and Nouri couldn't think of a single woman? And wouldn't have if Iraqi women hadn't gotten vocal on the issue. (And note that Nouri increased the Cabinet from 31 in his first term to 42.) December 22nd, AFP reported on women's status in Iraq and how it has fallen from a high for the region to a nightmare (my term) today. Excerpt:
Safia al-Souhail, an MP who ran in March 2010 elections on Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law slate but has since defected and is now an independent, said US forces made some progress, but did not do enough in the immediate aftermath of the invasion.
"They were always giving excuses that our society would not accept it," she said. "Our society is still wondering why the Americans did not support women leaders who were recognised by the Iraqi people."
She lamented that Maliki had completed a recent official visit to Washington without a single woman in his delegation, describing it as a "shame on Iraq". Indeed, only one woman sits in Maliki's national unity cabinet, Ibtihal al-Zaidi, the minister of state for women's affairs.
We bring that up because Nouri did finally find a woman and named her to be Minister of the State for Women's Affairs. The woman is Dr. Ibtihal al-Zaidi. And Al Mada reports the lovely doesn't believe in equality stating equality "harms women" but she's happy to offer government dictates on what women should be wearing. No, she's not a minister. She's many things including words we won't use here but she's not friend to women and that's why Nouri picked her. A real woman fighting for other women? Nouri can't handle that. A simpering idiot who states that women should only act after their husband's consent? That gender traitor gets a ministry. She's currently at work devising a uniform for Iraqi women.


End of excerpt. al-Zaidi's back in the news cycle.

Al Mada notes today Iraqi feminists -- including Hanna Edwar -- are calling out al-Zaidi for, among other things, the uniforms for women. She's denying those, by the way. However, she's also being called out for her statement that she is against equality for women. She's denying that too but Al Mada points out that she stated that to them last week. The Association for the Defense of Human Rights president Mohammed Salami notes that the Constitution recognizes equality and activist Amir Sheikh Ali Abboud declares that the minister's ill-informed opinion undermines the rights of Iraqi women. The women of Iraq could use some global assistance right now. They are fighting for their rights. It would be great if various feminist outlets in the US could step up to the plate right now.

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