Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Furor over the armored car proposal

Aswat al-Iraq reports that already today two Baghdad sticky bombings have left five people injured. No one bought them armored vehicles. As we noted yesterday and over the weekend, the Iraqi Parliament's decision to spend over $50 million on 350 armored vehicles for members of Parliament has become a huge issue in Iraq. (We noted that, of course the New York Times hasn't had time to note that. They're too busy glorifying dictators.) Al Mada reports that despite a 222 vote in favor of the purchase (Iraq has 325 members of Parliament -- many of whom don't attend sessions), the Parliament is now furiously attempting to walk it back as a result of Iraqi anger. As the Cabinet discussed the 2012 budget yesterday, Hussain al-Shahristani, the Deputy Prime Minister for Energy, declared that they should veto the armored cars aspect of the bduget and return it to the Parliament. Aswat al-Iraq quotes MP Najiba Najeeb stating that the presidency might be able to zxe the armored vehicle proposal. Al Sabaah cites an unnamed legal expert who says the Cabinet can vote for the budget or against it but cannot modify it as State of Law is claiming. Alsumaria TV notes that Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi states that all the blocs in Parliament voted in favor of the armored cars. Sam Dagher and Ali A. Nabhan (Wall St. Journal) explain:

Anger over what Iraqis are referring to as the scandal of the musafahat—"the armored objects" -- is building up in teahouses, newspaper columns, blogs and social-media websites.
Even the country's most revered religious authority has weighed in on the matter. In a sermon on Friday, a senior representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the country's most senior Shiite cleric, lambasted what he described as politicians' lopsided priorities.
The representative, Ahmed al-Safi, suggested parliamentarians consider donating the $50 million allocated for armored vehicles toward provision of clean drinking water for some of the hundreds of villages currently lacking it. The sermons usually reflect the views of the reclusive Mr. Sistani.

AFP provides a cross section of Iraqi voices decrying the proposed purchase such as journalist Wassan al-Shimmari ("They live in secure areas inside, or even outside, the Green Zone. Each one of them has a full team of bodyguards so there is no need to have other privileges.") and commentator Tariq al-Mammuri ("The subject of buying armoured cars was approved quickly, while other laws are taking a long time, which shows that MPs prioritise their own benefits over the needs of the people."). Don't worry, the New York Times will find this story . . . just as soon as Tim Arango's done typing up his masochistic fantasies and the paper's done putting them in print.

Meanwhile Alsumaria TV reports that the Daughters of Iraq are threatening to stage a sit-in with their 300 plus membership over having not received payment for at least two months. DOI is the female counterpart to the Sons Of Iraq ("Awakenings," Sahwa). Their need become more apparent with the emergence of female suicide bombers.

We're going to have to wind down now so we'll close with this from Senator Patty Murray's office -- Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee:

FOR PLANNING PURPOSES: Contact: Murray Press Office

Monday, February 27, 2012 (202) 224-2834

VETERANS: Murray to Hold Hearing to Discuss FY 2013 Budget for Veterans’ Programs

(Washington, D.C.) – On Wednesday, February 29th, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, will hold a hearing on the fiscal year 2013 budget for veterans’ programs. The Committee will hear from the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and representatives of several veterans service organizations. The Senator will ask Secretary Shinseki about the impact of sequestration on VA services, funding for construction and maintenance of VA facilities, and efforts to combat the claims backlog. She will also address VA’s ongoing challenges in combating long wait times for mental health care as the number of veterans seeking that care continues to rise.

WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee

WHAT: Hearing to discuss FY 2013 budget

WHEN: Wednesday, February 29, 2012

10:00 AM ET

WHERE: Russell Senate Office Building
Room 418

Washington, D.C.

WEBCAST: http://www.capitolhearings.org/Hearing/SSVA00201202291000/russell418.aspx


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