Friday, May 04, 2012

Nouri on board with the national conference?

Iraq is about to introduce a new law to cover the cyber world. Authorities hope it will help fight terrorism. Critics say when ordinary Internet users could face of life in prison, it goes too far – and curbs freedom of expression.

The draft of the law on crime in the cyber world has only been read in Iraq’s Parliament once so far. But already it has drawn its fair share of vehement detractors.
On April 16, more than 40 organisations, both local and international, submitted a letter to Parliament demanding either changes, a re-write or an anullment of the law “because it threatens democracy in Iraq”.
Additionally 600 journalists, acting independently, plan to file a group lawsuit demanding the legislation be withdrawn. They claim it violates the Iraqi Constitution’s right to freedom of expression. “We plan to use all possible means to prevent this unjust law,” local journalist, Kathem al-Miqdadi, told NIQASH.
International press freedom advocacy organisation, Reporters Without Borders, has also expressed concern about the upcoming cyber crimes law.

Khaled Waleed reports the above in "New Cyber Crimes Law: The in prison for visiting the wrong website" (Niqash). Yesterday was World Press Freedom Day.  Obviously the point of the day has not registered with the Iraqi government.

The Iraqi goverment's political crisis continues.

Since December 21st, Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani have been calling for a national conference to address the issues.  Since the summer, the Kurds, Iraqiya and Moqtada al-Sadar have been calling for a return to the Erbil Agreement.

Marina Ottaway and Danial Kaysi's [PDF format warning] "The State Of Iraq"  (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace) notes the events since mid-December:

Within days of the official ceremonies marking the end of the U.S. mission in Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki moved to indict Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi on terrorism charges and sought to remove Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq from his position, triggering a major political crisis that fully revealed Iraq as an unstable, undemocractic country governed by raw competition for power and barely affected by institutional arrangements.  Large-scale violence immediately flared up again, with a series of terrorist attacks against mostly Shi'i targets reminiscent of the worst days of 2006.
But there is more to the crisis than an escalation of violence.  The tenuous political agreement among parties and factions reached at the end of 2010 has collapsed.  The government of national unity has stopped functioning, and provinces that want to become regions with autonomous power comparable to Kurdistan's are putting increasing pressure on the central government.  Unless a new political agreement is reached soon, Iraq may plunge into civil war or split apart.

Al Rafidayn reports that National Alliance leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari stated today that it's important to hold the national conference within a week and for all political blocs to participate.  Yesterday, Ipek Yezdani (Hurriyet) reported that Kurdistan Democratic Party spokesperson Cafer Ibrahim states that if things can't be worked out with Nouri, Ibrahim al-Jaafari becomes the choice for the new nominee.  Dar Addustour notes that Nouri is now echoing the cry for all political blocs to participate.  Al Mada notes that Nouri released that statement after meeting with Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.  Alsumaria explains that the statement also included accusations by Nouri that unnamed others were attempting to break up the National Alliance. 

The National Alliance is a Shi'ite grouping which includes Nouri's State of Law, Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc, ISCI and others.  Iraqiya, the political slate that came in first in the March 2010 elections, is a mixed sect political slate led by Shi'ite Ayad Allawi.  Other prominent members include Sunnis Osama al-Nujaifi, Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq.  Alsumaria reports Iraqiya announced today that they will not attend the national conference unless it is agreed that the Erbil Agreement will be implemented.  Saturday, Allawi, KRG President Massoud Barzani, Osama al-Nujaifi, Moqtada al-Sadr and others met in Erbil and one of the things they all agreed to was that the Erbil Agreement would be re-instated.

Iraqiya states that if Nouri is serious about resolving the political crisis, he will implement the Erbil Agreement.  Their spokesperson Haider Mulla further notes that they are used to Nouri's promises but they are frustrated by his inability to follow words with actions.

Meanwhile Ammar al-Hakim has released a statement.  Al Mada notes that he states that Iraq needs a strategic vision that all can agree to, that they need to commit to implementing agreementts , that there needs to be successful soltions that serve the citizens; and that there needs to be transparency.  

Earlier this morning, AFP's Prashant Rao Tweeted that Tareq al-Hashemi will hold a press conference in Turkey today.

In other news, the people can't get into the Baghdad museum but water can.  Alsumaria reports that the lower floor of the museum was flooded.

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