Friday, March 16, 2012

The Arab Summit

The Associated Press reports that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani left the Mayo clinic on Wednesday and is scheduled to be back in Baghdad in time for the Arab Summit (March 29th). To review, on or around March 26th, Baghdad Airport International will be closed to all commercial traffic, no protests will be allowed on the day of the Summit, 100,000 security forces will be dispersed throughout Baghdad (leaving other areas prime targets for attacks), Baghdad will have spent over $86 million (in US dollars) on the summit and Baghdad will most likely shut down all vehicle traffic and possibly pedestrian as well. Oops, Al Sabaah's reporting all vehicles (including bicycles) will be banned for the Arab Summit.

Going to be hard to spin that as a success.

Question: If, for example, Basra, Samara, Najaf and Rutba all suffer attacks on March 29th, would the security forces in Baghdad be forced to disperse to those areas? And, if they did, wouldn't it be similar to the way attackers use one bombing to draw the security forces to the location only to present them with another bombing?

Wednesday Kitabat reported that the 28th and 29th would be declared a holiday. Today Al Mada reports that the Baghdad government is denying that there will be a holiday. (A holiday would allow the government to close down a number of facilities.) Speaking of holidays, Al Mada reports the Parliament wants to take 35 days off (holidays) this year.

Meanwhile Kitabat reports that Russia Today (RT) found itself detained in Baghdad when it attempted to report on the targeting of Emos. Ashraf al-Azzawi Ali Hussein (correspondent and cameraman) and Abdullah al Ashe (assistant cameraman) were filming and had been given permission to film when police approached them and confiscated their equipment and film, took them to police headquarters and detained them there for three hours. When they were released, they were told they could not film in downtown Baghdad.

We'll close with this from the opening of Alice Fordham's "Sectarianism haunts Iraq as Sunnis call for more independence" (Washington Post):

Nine years after the fall of its most famous son, Saddam Hussein, the city of Tikrit is a decrepit, angry place, and its mostly Sunni population, feeling alienated from the Shiite-led central government, is calling for more independence.
Sectarian tensions are also being exacerbated, here and across Iraq, by the chaos in Syria. Support for the mainly Sunni uprising is growing among some Sunnis, while the Baghdad government has carefully refrained from calling for President Bashar al-Assad, from the Shiite-offshoot Alawite sect, to step down.
Grudges against the post-Hussein government have long simmered in Salahuddin, the Sunni-majority province of which Tikrit is capital. But in recent months a series of moves by the country’s political leadership and security forces have brought resentment to a head, threatening sectarian coexistence in Iraq at a crucial time for the region.

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