Monday, July 23, 2012

Moqtada says no to Reform Commission, British military training camp in Iraq

Over a hundred dead as violence slams Iraq today.  Rami Ruhayem (BBC News -- link is video and text) reports, "Well the attacks took place all over the country in different cities.  They seem to have targeted primarily security forces -- army as well as police -- checkpoints, convoys and even some police officers were targeted inside their homes. There have also been a number of incidents targeting civilians and marketplaces -- especially in Sadr City in Baghdad."  In a sidebar on the right-hand side, the BBC notes the most violent attacks of 2012 and today replaces June 13th when 84 were killed and "nearly 300" wounded.  Kareem Raheem (Reuters) puts the death toll at 107 currently.   Today's attacks come two days after the official start of Ramadan in Iraq and follow increased violence which includes the assassination Saturday of a bodyguard for one of Iraq's two vice presidents and Sunday's violence of which Interfax and AFP note, "On Sunday at least 39 people were killed and 118 more wounded in a series of terrorist attacks in the suburbs of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, according to reports from local emergency services personnel and the police."  Al Rafidayn notes that the attacks come the day after the Islamic State of Iraq released a message from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in which he promised more attacks.

More and more these attacks are greeted with international silence. The Voice of Russia notes, "The Russian Foreign Ministry has expressed its condolences to victim’s relatives and support for Iraqi government's measures to 'stabilize the situation and boost security' in the country."  However, if the recent pattern holds, the US State Dept and the White House will remain silent on the attacks and the press at today's briefings won't raise the issue -- although it has a better chance of being raised today since the recording by the Islamic State of Iraq also included threats of attacks on US soil.  Kitabat emphasizes the recordings threat to kill ("eliminate") Iraqi judges.

In other news, Kitabat notes thousands are crossing from Syria into the KRG in search of asylum -- these include Kurds and Syrians.  Over the weekend, Nouri's Baghdad-based government announced that they could not take in Syrian refugees because they were under enough duress.  Kitabat notes a report in the UK Sunday Express which stated British forces were training Syrian fighters -- training over 300 of them from a base inside Iraq. What is Kitabat talking about?  This article by Marco Giannangeli:

A British Army source revealed last night that former SAS soldiers are training Syrian rebels in Iraq in military tactics, weapons handling and communications systems.
More than 300 have passed through a base just inside the Iraq border, while a command course is run in Saudi Arabia.
Groups of 50 rebels at a time are being trained by two private security firms employing former Special Forces personnel. "Our role is purely instructional teaching tactics, techniques and procedures," said a former SAS member.
"Some of these guys are shopkeepers and schoolteachers who have lost everything.
"If we can teach them how to take cover, to shoot and avoid being spotted by snipers it will hopefully help."

There is entering Iraq and there is also leaving Iraq.  Dar Addustour reports rumors that high level government officials and politicians are smuggling rare birds and animals out of Iraq -- already there has been at least one arrest with the official said to have had 102 birds and animals.

On the topic of officials and politicians, the political stalemate continues in Iraq.  Dar Addustour notes politicians are saying Nouri's Reform Commission will not replace the call for a no-confidence vote in Parliament to oust Nouri.  Today Moqtada al-Sadr's website reports -- quoting Secretary-General of Moqtada's bloc, Zia al-Asadi -- that Moqtada's bloc will not be part of the Reform Commission.  The commission itself is deemed a contradiction in terms.  Nouri caused the stalemate by refusing to honor the US-brokered Erbil Agreement.  Moqtada al-Sadr has repeatedly noted that Nouri could end the stalemate by returning to the Erbil Agreement.   The failure to do so may be why al-Sadr sees the Reform Commission as something less than genuine.  Saturday, Iraqiya head Ayad Allawi also rejected the Reform Commission.

Violence renders Ammar al-Hakim's statements yesterday laughable (at best) so we'll ignore the reports on those and instead note that All Iraq News reports he's meeting with the Turkmen bloc today.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "He Trynasty" went up last night.  This week on Law and Disorder Radio,  an 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).  This week they discuss Bradly Manning, Occupy Chicago, Julian Assange,  attorney Barbara Harvey joins them to discuss the Olympia Food Co-op lawsuit developments and Rick Wolff joins them to discuss his new book on Occupy.

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