Monday, April 16, 2012

Continued violence and chaos and Nouri gets catty

AP reports that 4 Shi'ite famers were shot dead today in Rashidiyah. ioL News notes yesterday saw a Taji home bombing which claimed the life of both parents and their five-year-old son ("a two-year-old girl survived but was wounded"), a Kirkuk car bombing claimed 1 life and left eleven people injured and a roadside bombing outside Nawafei village claimed the life of 1 man who was the son of a Sahwa leader. Margaret Griffis ( notes other Sunday violence included a Wadi Hajar bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer (three people injured), a Baghdad sticking bombing targeting a dentist claimed his life, 1 Shabak was shot dead in Mosul, 1 suspected assailant was shot dead by Mosul police, a Tuz Khormato home invasion claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier, 1 former government official was shot dead in Buhriz, a Gatoun bombing injured a woman and her daughter, a Tikrit bombing injured a police officer and "The body of the deputy major of Suleimaniya was discovered hanged in his jail cell. The family of Zana Hama Saleh insisted that he would not have committed suicide because he said he was awaiting release. No evidence of forced suicide was found. Saleh was detained on corruption charges." Alsumaria adds that a street cleaner was shot dead outside Tikrit.

The big news in Iraq today? Massoud Barzani's 'unpopularity.' That's the charge Nouri al-Maliki is making of his political rival. Dar Addustour reports that Nouri is insisting to the press (including Kurdish paper Awene) that KRG President Massoud Barzani is very unpopular and that Kurds tell him that all of time. Yes, Nouri does sound like a catty middle school student. Alsumaria reminds that Barzani has stated Iraq is moving towards "a dictatorial regime." While it's doubtful Nouri wants to try a more mature move, he might still consider the wisdom of looking like the Mighty Fool of Iraq on the world stage.

Barzani's popularity is most likely the same as it's always been if not higher. Massoud Barzani is President of the Kurdistan Regional Government. Hey, last month, who became the new prime minister of the KRG? Oh, that's right: Nechirvan Idris Barzani.

Hey, who's is Nechirvan Idris Barzani's uncle?

That's right: Massoud Barzani.

Were Massoud Barzani unpopular, it's doubtful that another Barazni would be made Prime Minister, power sharing agreement or not. Massoud Barzani is the head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party. Equally true, overseas trips for leaders generally boost their support and Barzani's had a very successful overseas tour. The most recent polling was prior to that trip and Barzani and the KDP were both ahead of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan -- the KRG's second main party (Goran is a third-party and, at present, not a significant one). The head of PUK is Jalal Talabani who is also the President of Iraq. PUK has been trending downward for several years now. That could change at any moment and PUK could sweep the upcoming provincial elections in the KRG's three provinces; however, that's a possibility. The reality is that Massoud Barzani is popular and all signs point to him being more popular at this moment than he's been in some time. But Nouri can continue whispering catty remarks if he thinks that'll make him look like a leader.

Iraq suffers from an ongoing political crisis. President Talabani called a national conference for April 5th but, right before that day, it was suddenly cancelled. Mohammad Akef Jamal (Gulf News) observes:

Osama Al Nujaifi, Iraqi Speaker of Parliament, announced during a press conference on April 4 the indefinite postponement of the national conference, which was supposed to be held the following day.
The delay was due to the widening rift between Iraqi political blocs. President Jalal Talabani had on March 25 called for the national conference. It was aimed at bridging sharp political differences in the country.
Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki is also having problems with Kurdish authorities, whose main parties form a crucial bloc in the national unity government, over oil revenues and the Kurds' sheltering of fugitive Vice-President Tareq Al Hashemi. He is wanted by Baghdad since December on charges of running a death squad. Al Maliki also demanded the exclusion of his deputy Saleh Al Mutlaq, a decision supported by US President Barack Obama.

Dar Addustour reports preparations are ongoing and there is speculation as to whether Nouri or Barzani will attend the conference. The Kurds, Iraqiya, Moqtada al-Sadr and others are calling for Nouri to implement the Erbil Agreement (the US brokered agreement ended Political Stalemate I; for Nouri, it allowed him to have a second term as prime minister, when he got that, he trashed the agreement and refused to abide by it).

Each month, the figures released by the Iraqi government are more and more unrealistic. But various outlets run with them and present them as fact. That's not reporting. I'm not fan of Joel Wing (to put it mildly) but he has an article for AK News that should be required reading. Excerpt:

In February 2012, the Iraqi government released its official figures for casualties from April 2004 to the end of 2011. It had over 69,000 deaths for that time period. That count was 30,000 less than other organizations that keep track of violence in Iraq. During the height of the civil war, the country’s ministries’ numbers were comparable to other groups, but since 2011 they have consistently been the lowest. While some Iraqi politicians have claimed that the official counts miss many deaths, it could also be argued that the statistics are being politicized by the prime minister who controls all of the security ministries.
On February 29, 2012, Iraqi government spokesman Ali Dabbagh announced the government’s numbers for deaths in the country. He said that from April 5, 2004 to December 31, 2011 69,263 Iraqis were killed. 239,133 were also wounded. The deadliest year was 2006 when there were 21,539 dead, and 39,329 wounded. 2011 was the least violent with only 2,777 casualties. Of the nation’s eighteen provinces, Baghdad was the deadliest with 23,898 dead for the reported time period, followed by Diyala, Anbar, and Ninewa. Muthanna in the south was the safest with only 94 killed over the seven years covered. A member of parliament’s human rights committee immediately criticized the report. The deputy claimed that there were thousands of people who disappeared during the civil war that were never counted. He also said that out in the countryside, reporting to the ministries was poor. No numbers on violence in Iraq can be anywhere near complete. During the civil war from 2005-2008 there were sections of the country that were too dangerous to enter and do any serious reporting. Some insurgent groups also buried their victims. The problem with the ministries numbers however are that they are so far below other organizations that keep track of violence in Iraq, which was not always true.

That's from the opening, use the link and read in full. Again, it should be a must-read. Good work by Joel Wing.

Aswat al-Iraq reports, "Close sources to the Central Bank of Iraq's Governor denied reports that the Governor fled the country. Governor Sinan al-Shibibi left for Switzerland to meet his family before heading to USA to attend spring meeting of the Monetary Fund, as reported to Aswat al-Iraq." Jane Arraf (Al Jazeera -- link is video and text) interviews President Jalal Talabani. Response that will probably get the most attention?

JA: One of the problems has been that one of your deputies, Tariq al-Hashemi, who was given refuge here in the Kurdish region and allowed to leave in spite of an arrest warrant. Will you allow him to come back to Kurdistan?

Talabani: I would like to explain to you - Mr Hashemi is the first vice-president - I appointed him first. He came to a meeting with another vice-president, Dr Kuzai. When he came here, the court asked him to go to court. He didn't prefer to go to court - he said: "I am afraid in Baghdad to go to court." We asked them to change [the venue] and they refused. I don't know if he will come back here, or stay outside. This issue - my opinion was [to] solve it through dialogue with the leaders of Iraq. Because if he goes to court, he will be sentenced - we don't want him to be sentenced. We also need a kind of consensus about his problem. Maybe some of his bodyguards committed some crimes, but Tariq Hashemi is still vice-president. He was not sentenced, and any man until he is sentenced is considered to be innocent. He's not convicted.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Spring Break Columbia: War On Women Edition" went up last night and Kat's "Kat's Korner: Bonnie's got another classic" 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 Mumia Abu-Jamal, the Cuban Five, extradition and they have a great discussion with attorney and professor Natsu Taylor Saito who has written Meeting the Enemy: American Exceptionalism and International Law.

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