Wednesday, April 04, 2012

A bomb claims 5 lives, the National Conference gets the axe

AGI notes 5 people have been killed in a Dhuluiya car bombing with at least ten more injured. Fang Yang (Xinhua) reports, "The booby-trapped car went off when a team of police explosive experts were defusing a roadside bomb nearby in the town of al-Duluiyah, some 90 km north of Baghdad, the source from Salahudin's operations command said on condition of anonymity." AFP offers, "The police officer said that the explosion took place at about 8:30 am (5:30 GMT) when Dhuluiyah police chief Colonel Qandil Khalil's convoy was passing by." Dhuluiya is in Salahuddin Province. Yesterday journalist Kamiran Salahudin was killed in the province by a sticky bombing.

Al Mada reports that Iraqiya is stating tomorrow's national conference will be a failure if the policies of exclusion and marginalization continue and if the Erbil Agreement is not honored. In addition, they are calling for the conference to be highly visible in the media so that the Iraqi people can see what is taking place. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports that the national conference will not be taking place on Thursday. Citing Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi, AP says the conference is "postponed indefinitely." Yamei Wang (Xinhua) adds that the the Speaker "attributed the postponement to the mounting differences among political blocs during a meeting by the prepatory committee held on Tuesday."

AP states he announced that an hour ago. Prior to that, he'd already addressed the press. Alsumaria reports on the press conference Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi held today in which he stated that if the conference is similar to the exchanges taking place previously, it will only succeed in furthering the crisis. He noted that the preparations committee met six times in planning the conference and that, despite all these planning meetings, there remains -- even then -- no agreement on what issues will be discussed at the conference. Which may be among the reasons it was postponed.

Or maybe Nouri al-Maliki's crazy led to the postponement? Though probably not intending to, Dar Addustour takes you to a place where Nouri's paranoia runs free reporting on Nouri girding himself for a possible takeover attempt. He doesn't name Barzani but, as Dar Addustour points out, that is who he's referring to when he frets that he may be replaced. Nouri fears his puppet masters in the US may be about to dump him and that's why Barzani is in DC. (Why would the White House dump him? Nouri thinks they might move towards someone more willing to favor an attack on Syria.) He also fears Tareq al-Hashemi's current diplomatic tour of other countries might have something to do with Arab leaders of other countries gearing up for a coup. Unnamed confidants of Nouri state that he is preparing himself for those possibilities and also for a military coup staged by Iraqi security forces loyal to DC. (Last month, State of Law repeatedly floated that there were several Iraqi military officers -- high ranking -- who were spying for the United States.)

Though it was always unlikely that one meet-up was going to solve Iraq's ongoing political crisis (14 months for the current mess), the failure to even hold the national conference speaks yet again of the divide Nouri has created and fostered. Political Stalemate I (when Nouri wouldn't honor the results of the March 7, 2010 elections) only ended in November 2010 because all parties -- including Nouri -- agreed to the US-brokered Erbil Agreement. Once he was made prime minister -- the main gift to Nouri in the Erbil Agreement -- he tossed it aside, that's December 2010 and the start of Political Stalemate II which has been ongoing ever since. Over the summer, the Kurds began calling for a return to the Erbil Agreement. They were then joined by Iraqiya (who came in first in the March 7, 2010 elections) and Moqtada al-Sadr, among others. The Erbil Agreement found Nouri making various concessions if the others would allow him to remain prime minister.

At the start of last month, Rawaz Koyee (Kurdish Globe) interviewed Kurdish MP Mahmud Othman to get his take on the political problems. Excerpt.

Globe: People voted for the Constitution to build a new political process for the future of Iraq. Where is the role of Constitution in this situation?

Othman: There is a constitution which is not implemented the way it should be, the Iraqi lawmakers and politicians do not adhere to the articles approved in the Iraqi Constitution. We occasionally hear (Iraqi Prime Minister) Nouri Al-Maliki emphasizing the political parties' commitment to the Iraqi charter, but it was the same Al-Maliki who used to criticize the Constitution and even calling it a bomb for Iraqi stability. The truth is that each political bloc seeks its own interests, so for the Kurds it's our legitimate right to go for our interests as well.

Globe: The Sunni parties say Maliki has taken control over every strategic position. Is that true? Do the Kurds feel isolated as well?

Othman: The Shiite bloc craves absolute power in the country' they intend to establish governance in which they have access to all its aspects. The Sunni blocs are isolated from strategic decision-making positions. As for the Kurds, we are a part of the Iraqi power-sharing government to a certain extent, but still are not given the share of a real partner. Both the Iraqi army chief and deputy prime minister are Kurds, but their jurisdictions are limited.

Dropping back to Monday's snapshot:

Lastly, Jonathan Fisher (WebProNews) covers new threats to the internet from around the world and he notes this on Iraq:
According to a translation from the Centre for Law and Democracy, Articles 3, 4, and 5 of Iraq's Informatics Crimes Law would impose a mandatory life sentence for anyone using a computer or the Internet to do any of the following:
      "compromise" the "unity" of the state;
      subscribe, participate, negotiate, promote, contract or deal with an enemy … in order to destabilize security and public order or expose the country to danger;
      damage, cause defects, or hinder [systems or networks] belonging to security military, or intelligence authorities with a deliberate intention to harm [state security].
      promote "ideas which are disruptive to public order";
      "implement terrorist operations under fake names or to facilitate communication with members or leaders of terrorist groups";
      "promote terrorist activites and ideologies or to publish information regarding the manufacturing, preparation and implementation of flammable or explosive devices, or any tools or materials used in the planning or execution of terrorist acts";
      facilitate or promote human trafficking "in any form";
      engage in "trafficking, promoting or facilitating the abuse of drugs".
The Act also includes provisions to punish network users who "create chaos in order to weaken the trust of the electronic system of the state," "provoke or promote armed disobedience," "disturb public order or harm the reputation of the country," or "intrude, annoy or call computer and information network users without authorization or hinders their use," the Electronic Freedom Foundation reports. Copyright infringement and hacking would also land users in big trouble under the Act, which proposes a 2- to 3-year prison term for either offense.

Today Alice Fordham (Washington Post) reports on attempts to curb speech in Iraq where bills are being considered that could imprison people who criticize the government or make new requirements/hurdles for demonstrating. She speaks with Iraqi blogger Hayder Hamzoz:

The law also contains a sentence of life imprisonment for using computers or social networks to compromise “the independence of the state or its unity, integrity, safety.”
Hamzoz, who does not use his real name out of concern for his safety, said he believes the legislationis intended to allow the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to control social media. The government essentially did just that more than a year ago, when it swiftly smothered an uprising inspired by the Arab Spring revolts sweeping the region.
"It's to attack the activists," he said.

Community note on the public e-mail account. If you're sending an e-mail in a foreign language, there are only a few of us who can read it. Shirley, Ava and I can handle Spanish, Heather, Ava, Jess, Dona and I can handle French, I'm the only one who can handle Arabic. If you're e-mailing in Arabic or someone thinks it's Arabic, it's moved to a folder for me and I may or may not get to it. That folder currently has over 400 e-mails in it and that's with me knocking out 200 a day. The bulk of those reading the public e-mail account (and the private ones for community members) read English only. If you're able to write in English, your chances of being read sooner increase tremendously.

US Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. She'll be holding a field hearing in Tacoma today. Her office noted yesterday:

Tuesday, April 03, 2012
Contact: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834


Official U.S. Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing will bring to top VA and Pentagon officials to the region to answer questions and discuss mental health care concerns, putting local veterans to work, and improving transition services
Hearing will also feature the stories of local veterans and servicemembers, veterans advocates, and businesses in order to highlight challenges and ongoing community efforts

(Washington, D.C.) -- Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, will hold a field hearing tomorrow in Tacoma on the unique opportunities and challenges that the South Sound and Washington state continue to face as thousands of veterans return to the region. This official Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee field hearing will explore how the military, veterans, business, and non-profit communities can work together to improve the transition home for those returning to Washington state. In particular, the hearing will focus on improving mental health care, employment opportunities, and community outreach for returning veterans.
The hearing will feature testimony from top VA and Pentagon officials, local servicemembers and veterans, business leaders, and veterans' advocates. Members of the public are encouraged to RSVP if they plan to attend the hearing to

WHAT: U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs Field Hearing
"Washington's Veterams: Helping the Newest Generation Transition Home"

WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman, Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee
Dr. Robert A. Petzel, Under Secretary for Health, Veterans Health Administration,
Department of Veterans Affairs
Dr. Susan Pendergrass, Director, VA Northwest Network (VISN 20), Veterans Health Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs
Willie Clark, Western Area Director, Veterans Affairs
Dr. Jo Ann Rooney: Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Department of Defense
Lieutenant General Thomas P. Bostick, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1, United States Army
Major General Richard W. Thomas, Commanding General Western Regional Medical Command, Senior Market Executives for TRICARE Puget Sound, United States Army
Local Servicemembers and Veterans
Business Leaders
Veterans' Advocates

WHEN: TOMORROW: Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Hearing Starts at 10:39 A.M. PST | Doors Open at 9:45 A.M. PST | Cameras
are encouraged to come early for set-up

WHERE: The STAR Center
3873 South 66th Street
Tacoma, WA 98409
Public Transportation Routes: Pierce Transit Bus Route 53
Parking On-site Parking is available

For more information about this hearing or other activities of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, please visit

Press interested in coming are encouraged to RSVP to

The e-mail address for this site is