Monday, March 26, 2012

The summit and security

Al Mada reports that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and Prime Minister and Chief Thug Nouri al-Maliki met to discuss this week's Arab League Summit in Baghdad and to discuss the national conference to address the political crisis. The article notes that Talabani also met with US Ambassador to Iraq Jalal Talabani. Covering the summit will be problematic for many in the press according to Al Mada which explains the Prepatory Committee picked and choosed whom they wanted to credential for the conference and many Iraqi journalists are upset by the process which has excluded so many of them. Al Rafidayn notes that this is the first time in two decades that the summit will be held in Iraq and that Nouri hopes to use the summit to convince people that the years of violence in Iraq have ended. To make that facade possible, he's closed down entire streets in the capital, has special forces combing the streets, has called a five-day holiday, added 100,000 extra security forces and over a hundred checkpoints, put back up concrete walls around Baghdad, etc. This has created long delays. Farooq Abdullah explains he left his Baghdad residence in his car for work (in Baghdad) at seven a.m. but had to abandon his car (due to traffic) at some point and didn't get to work until after 11:00 a.m. The traffic jams are bad and members of Parliament are demanding that emergency lanes be created for doctors and ambulances. Qassim Khidhir (Kurdish Glove) reveals, "On the road from Baghdad International Airport to the city of Baghdad, Turkish laborers work feverishly to pave the road, build roadside parks and plant palm trees. They have until March 29, when Baghdad hosts the Arab League Summit."

Jack Healy (New York Times) adds that "just beyond the cement walls and freshly planted petunias of the International Zone lies a ragged country with a bleaker view. Out in the real Iraq, suicide bombings still rip through the streets. Sectarian divisions have paralyzed its politics and weakened its stature with powerful neighbors like Saudi Arabia and Iran, who use money and militias to aggressively pursue their own agendas inside Iraq. Despite its aspirations to wield influence as a new Arab democracy, Iraq may well remain more of a stage than an actor." Alsumaria TV explains many shops have had to close down and shop owners fear a recession as a result of the summit. AFP notes that "while thousands of soldiers and policemen have been drafted in and as much as $500 million spent to upgrade facilities and host the summit, insurgents have still been able to mount devastating attacks and little of the capital’s basic services or infrastructure have been improved." As Sheikh (Dar Addustour) notes the summit measures cost the citizens and that this is as easy way of providing security -- stopping all movement in society -- not a way to provide longterm security. Alsumaria TV reports that the Security and Defense Commission of Parliament has stated that approximately 100 combat airplanes and helicopters are being used to protect Baghdad. Not stated in the article but there is a good chance that the air coverage includes assistance from the US -- including US personnel.

More at The Real News

Paul Jay (Real News Network) talks about the summit with McClatchy News Services's Iraqi correspondent Sahar Issah. Excerpt.

For Iraq, of course, the situation is very controversial in the context of the Arab world because this government stems from an occupation in Iraq. An occupation spearheaded by the United States which is something of an obstacle to acceptance in the Arab world. The so-called Iraqi government has striven to be acknowledged, to be seen as a legitimate government. And the efforts sometimes succeeded and sometimes failed. However, once the Arab League holds its summit meeting in Baghdad, no doubt, this is full acknowledgment that Baghdad has a government that is legitimate and it is hosting the Arab League. So it is a big success for the Iraqi government, hailed by everyone who is participating in the political process. At the same time, it is a low point for those who still try to show off the Iraqi government as an illegitimate government.

Al Mada notes that KRG President Massoud Barzani will apparently not be attending the summit and that his statements (Tuesday he gave a speech in which he decried the authorative drift in Iraq and the consoldiation of power by Nouri) resulted in Talabani pressing to set a date for the national conference. Al Sabaah notes Jalal Talabani has declared that the national conference to resolve the political crisis will be held April 5th. In the elections, Iraqiya won more votes than Nouri's State of Law. Al Mada reports that Ayad Allawi-led Iraqiya has stated that they may change their alliances after the summit. Azad Amin (Kurdish Globe) offers an analysis of the conflicts between Nouri and the KRG:

With the advent of the popular movement in the Middle East, which challenges the established political status quo and forces regime changes, the tense relation between Baghdad and Erbil moves toward a new dimension. As the Middle East is in turmoil, the position and political decision that Erbil may take unilaterally will have wider resonance throughout the region.
Subsequent speeches of Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani in recent various occasions highlight the seriousness of the Kurdish political stance concerning the challenges ahead. The president's discourse signifies a new radical turning point both in dealing with Baghdad in specific and in dealing with the Kurdish national question at a regional level. In a speech to the Kurdistan Youth Conference gathered in Erbil, Barzani stated that the division of Kurdistan into four parts happened against the wishes of the Kurdish nation and it must be united through peaceful, mutual understanding and in brotherhood. He demonstrated the case of Germany where, in spite of of being divided into two parts following WWII, the German nation after all those years finally managed to unite. Referring to the four parts of Kurdistan and demanding a united Kurdistan is a new political perception and a new radical vision within the Kurdish national liberation movement. This is a new political discourse, and it becomes particularly meaningful when expressed by a powerful and respected Kurdish leader who has the legitimate title of Kurdistan Presidency and was elected by the majority of people in Kurdistan.
This new political discourse at the time of turmoil in the Middle East is certainly going to define the character and development of the Kurdish national issue in the region and solutions or challenges toward or against it.
While the Kurdish political vision reaches higher national standards with a strong political foundation established in Iraqi Kurdistan, the parties involved on the other side of the question, that is Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, continue to follow their outdated policies regarding the Kurdish national question. The gap between the Kurdish political spectrum and occupiers of Kurdistan thus widens to a breaking point.

Meanwhile Dar Addustour notes that accusations continue to fly about last Tuesday's bombing including that two senior military officers were involved and, as the accusations swirl, the Ministry of the Interior has announced an $86,000 reward for (100 million Iraqi dinars) for anyone able to connect the bombings to security members.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Funding Terrorism" "Sporty Barack" went up last night Kat's "Kat's Korner: Carole's back catalogue" went up Saturday and her "Kat's Korner: Carole Touches the Sky and Soul" went up Sunday morning. On this week's Law and Disorder Radio -- a weekly hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights), topics explored include the Bradley Manning court-martial, the Park Slope Food Co-Op vote Occupy Wall Street (with guest Colin Robinson) and they remember legendary attorney Leonard Weinglass.

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