Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Iraqi women, Iraqi skies, Iraqi political crisis

One of the many casualties of the illegal war is the rights of Iraqi women. Which is probably why the US press worked so hard to disappear Iraqi women. Rebecca Burns (In These Times) speaks with the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq's Yanar Mohammed. Excerpt.

RB: OWFI members have been beaten and sexually assaulted while demonstrating, just like female protesters in Egypt. Why are women targeted in this way?

YM: They wanted us to feel ashamed. Our organization made sure that these demonstrations had a female face. We had our slogans, our banners, which we carried every single Friday. This was not approved by al-Maliki’s government. And in an Arab society, if a woman is shamed, she is pushed out of the public arena. They expected that we would go hide in our homes and not show our faces to anybody. The same way in which women are forced to immolate themselves or made the victim of an honor killing, they wanted to force a political dishonoring on us in order to end us politically.

RB: How are the women who have been attacked in Tahrir Square faring today?

YM: All of them are back in the square. But we are very careful as to our whereabouts. Once we see security forces, we leave the square. We are not willing to be tortured again and again.

RB: Are you working to get women elected directly to Parliament?

YM: In Iraq, 25 percent of members of Parliament are required to be women, which is good. But more than half the women in Parliament are from the Religious Right. When we were beaten in Tahrir Square – 25 of us – not a single female Parliamentarian spoke out. In other words, those women are puppets.

Doug Moore (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) reports on a group of attorneys -- 12 Iraqi women and five US women -- who teleconference once a month:

The St. Louis lawyers hope that kind of moral support could help the Iraqi lawyers get women into more powerful positions in the legal system and in government. Islamic laws protecting women are inadequate or not enforced in a culture where men are in charge and women are treated as property. Domestic violence is often considered accepted practice.
[. . .]
[Nancy] Mogab said the ultimate goal is forming a group similar to a women lawyers' association here, and called on the Iraqi women to create a list of goals they want to accomplish.
"Together they will be able to provide a voice whereas a single lawyer can't do that there," Mogab said after the groups' third meeting earlier this month.
Law school classes in Iraq are an even mix of men and women, but there are very few women judges. And those who practice law have little influence in a male-dominated legal system.

Meanwhile Aswat al-Iraq reports that Sajida Saleh Hassan was assassinated in Baghdad today. She had been Director of Kazimiya Women's Prison. Her driver was injured in the attack. They also note a mortar attck in Baquba has left twelve people injured.

Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) reports that the US is stating that they are only flying planes and drones and helicopters in Iraq airspace to provide protection for the US Embassy in Baghdad (and its various councils throughout the country). Parliaments Security and Defense wants answers as to exactly what the US is doing in Iraq's skies. That would be the same Commission on Security and Defense which Al Mada reports declared ysterday that Iraqi forces are not going to be able to properly perform their duties and functions for five more years. While the security forces struggle to become ready, the presidency council just keeps signing off on death sentences. Al Rafidayn reports that that the presidency council has signed off on 23 more death sentences.

The political crisis continues in Iraq. Al-Manar reports that Iraqiya Ministers are attending Council of Ministers hearings again. That doesn't end the crisis. Iraqiya agreeing to attend Parliament sessions didn't end the crisis. Nouri started the political crisis by refusing to honor the Erbil Agreement which ended the political stalemate that lasted eight months following the March 2010 elections when Nouri didn't want to let go of the post of prime minister despite the fact that his State of Law came in second to Iraqiya. The US brokered a deal, the Erbil Agreement, which allowed Nouri to remain prime minister in exchange for other trade-offs that would benefit the other political blocs. Since this summer, Kurds have been calling for Nouri to honor the agreement. Nouri insists that its unconstitutional -- a claim he didn't make when he used the Erbil Agreement to stay on as prime minister.

Though Parliament attempted to be in session yesterday, there wasn't a quorum. Dar Addustour notes that Kurdish MP Mahmoud Othman is stating that this was shameful and that he believes some of the MPs who were not present were deliberately attempting to keep the session from taking place.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi have been saying since December that the way to end the political crisis is to hold a national conference. Al Sabaah notes that participants are stating yesterday's planning session for the national conference -- only the second meeting -- went well and that they agreed to stand united against terrorism and militias, that the process outlined in the Constitution is how disputes should be resolved, that all elementsof Iraqi society must be represented in the political process and that the Iraqi judiciary is a separate and independent body. In a sign of just how much nonsense this whole thing is, Dar Addustour reports that it was again asserted yesterday that Nouri al-Maliki can be prime minister for a third term. For those who've forgotten, this was supposed to be Nouri's second and last term. And, in February of last year, as unrest rocked the region, Nouri declared he would not run for a third term. Since then -- and the distraction of his failed 100 days of 'reform,' his attorney has asserted that Nouri isn't bound by any promise and that no law prevents him from seeking a third term. Little Saddam is well on his way towards lifetime rule.

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