As the term "crisis" is debated, the holy month of Ramadan kicked off in Iraq today and, due to the lack of security in the country, measures are being taken. Al Mada reports that defense around mosques and religious shrines was beefed up. Meanwhile Al Rafidayn notes that Iraqi's Vice President Khudayr al-Khuzaie's bodyguard was shot dead in Baghdad today by unknown assailants with silencers on their guns. In addition, Trend News Agency reports a Mosul bombing claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers and 4 bystanders. Meanwhile Al Jazeera drops back to Friday to cover a pipeline explosion that carried oil "from the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk to Turkey's Mediterranean port city of Ceyhan" and the explosion caused a fire which was only put out today. BBC News adds, "Iraqi officials blamed Kurdish separatists for the explosion."The separtists they're referring to are the PKK. Reuters describes them as follows, "The PKK, designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984, and more than 40,000 people, mainly Kurds, have died in the conflict. It has claimed responsibility for attacks on other natural-gas and oil pipelines in what it has said is a campaign to target Turkey's strategic assets."
Border issues all around. Al Rafidayn notes that approximately 1800 Iraqis arrived from Syria today. Alsumaria reports the Red Crescent counts 4,765 Iraqis returned from Syria in the last three days. However, only some refugees are welcome. The Times of Malta reports, "Iraq’s government said yesterday it was unable to provide help for Syrian refugees looking to escape their country’s ongoing strife because of its own poor security situation."
In other news, Al Mada notes that a member of Parliament's Services Committee is calling attention to the proposed Telecommunications Law, calling it a disaster and the most dangerous proposal before the Parliament. That is good news because the bill has already been called out by Human Rights Watch which, July 12th, released a report on the proposal entitled [PDF format warning] "Iraq's Information Crime Law: Badly Written Provisions and Draconian Punishments Violate Due Process and Free Speech." From the opening summary of the report:
Iraq's government is in the process of enacting what it refers to as an Information Crimes Law to regulate the use of information networks, computers, and other electronic devices and systems. The proposed law had its first reading before Iraq's Council of Representatives on July 27, 2011; a second reading is expected as early as July 2012. As currently drafted, the proposed legislation violates international standards protecting due process, freedom of speech and freedom of association.
Finally, poor Nouri. Lying has always come so easy to him and he used to do it so well. Most recently, he lied about what a letter from US President Barack Obama said. In the ExxonMobil matter (ExxonMobil and the KRG signed a contract in October which Nouri disapproves of and has called on the White House to put a stop to), Nouri has insisted the White House is siding with him. And while some outlets went along blindly and gladly, others are noting that Nouri's lie doesn't really add up or make sense. Already Global Post's Kristin Deasy has raised questions. Now Rudaw looks at the 'logic' of Nouri's claims:
As for the letter being “positive and convincing,” that merely suggests that it was couched in diplomatic language. President Obama has most likely explained that under the US political and market-driven economic system, private companies make their own business decisions, beyond the reach of government control, hence the President will not be able to interfere with their decisions.
This would appear to be the most likely message of the letter. But if indeed it says more than that, enabling Baghdad to claim that the US government backs Baghdad against Erbil, supports Baghdad’s desire not to share oil revenues, and agrees with Baghdad's desire to impose centralized decision-making on all oil activities in Iraq, then we respectfully invite Prime Minister Maliki’s office to publish the full text of the letter for purposes of transparency.
Otherwise, this issue should remain an internal political and constitutional matter for all Iraqis to resolve by themselves, without dragging foreign governments in to the argument.
Finally, actions speak louder than words. The arrival of Chevron as a new investor in Kurdistan on the same day as the partial content of a letter from the US President was released in order to further a certain political agenda in Iraq, only serves to validate the explanations stated above.
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