Monday, July 30, 2012

Tensions continue to mount between Baghdad and Erbil

 Alsumaria reports an attack in Kirkuk today in which 2 brothers were shot dead while a Baghdad roadside bombing -- in the Abu Ghraib district -- has claimed the lives of 2 police officers and left three more injured and a Baghdad sticky bombing left one person injured.

Rami Ruhayem (BBC News) reports on Iraq's handling of Syrian refugees -- forcing them into abandoned and unused school and government buildings as opposed to allowing them to stay with their relatives in Iraq:

Some of them were so incensed at the treatment they said they would rather return to Syria.
"If they won't let us out of this prison, we will go back to al-Boukamal," said one toothless man with thick greying stubble.
The rage of the Syrian refugees confined to the sweltering playgrounds of schools was more than matched by that of their Iraqi relatives.
After Friday prayers, hundreds of Iraqis marched through al-Qaim to denounce their government's policy.

For video of the report, click hereJamal Hashim and Zhang Ning (Xinhua) report on the situation as well:

"I realized now that the hell of the shelling in my country ( Syria) is better than the promised paradise of living in schools and some government buildings," Abu Ahmed, 50, complained about the tight security measures in the Iraqi camps that left the Syrian refugees suffer from being treated like prisoners.
However, Abu Ahmed is very grateful to the residents of the city of al-Qaim and some humanitarian organizations, who are " doing their best to satisfy the needs of the refugees."
"Resorting to al-Qaim is our best choice because it is the nearest Iraqi city for us and because we have relatives in al-Qaim, " Abu Ahmed said, adding that he wish that the Iraqi authorities would let him live with his relatives.

Meanwhile AFP reports on the latest round of rumors Nouri and his cronies are spreading about others: KRG President Massoud Barzani has been caught attempting to buy weapons from "an unnamed foreign country."  Doesn't it all just reek of "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."?  Starting to understand why Bully Boy bush chose Nouri in the first place? 

Could it be true?  It could be.  Would it matter if it was?  The KRG can arm themselves.  That was established when Saddam Hussein was still the president of Iraq.  Nouri al-Maliki may not like it, but they've got that right and they established that right long before Baghdad fell in 2003 to foreign forces.  In other words, unlike Nouri and his chicken s**t exiles, the Kurds actually participated in their own liberation (1991).  Nouri and the other hens in his squawk party just bitched and moaned to get other countries to do what they were to chicken to do themselves and only returned to Iraq after Baghdad fell.  What a bunch of losers.  And now, on top of that, they're a bunch of backbiting gossips?

Naturally Iran's Press TV jumps all over the unsourced story and doesn't bother to weigh the veracity of the claims.  Press TV is almost as pathetic as the Chicken Hawk Exiles who now rule Iraq. They're not even noting -- nor is AFP -- that the weapons they reportedly made a deal on are defensive in nature.  The editorial board of The National goes over some of the conflicts between Baghdad and Erbil:

The tensions in recent days between Baghdad and Irbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdish region, tend to highlight the transnational narrative. A standoff at the weekend between Iraqi national forces and Kurdish peshmerga in the disputed Zimar area again raised the spectre of a disastrous - if unlikely - clash.
Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki's government has, by all accounts, done a terrible job of mending Iraq's wounds, in particular since the American withdrawal last year. Partisan politics and the marginalisation of Sunni and Kurd political forces have crippled effective policy in Baghdad.
As a result, there has been no resolution on the governance of oil-rich, disputed Kirkuk, which remains a key flashpoint for Arab-Kurdish relations. So too, a policy vacuum on oil revenues has led to squabbling, and Chevron and Exxon's much-criticised deals with Irbil.

The editorial also lists what it feels are the KRG's mis-steps so use the link if you're new to the conflict. Some feel a speech Barzani gave on Saturday wasn't helpful.  Of the speech,  Hiwa Osman (Rudaw) notes:

The speech did not achieve the impact it should have, especially as the crisis escalated and Iraqi soldiers approached the Syrian border close to Kurdish territories.
As an observer, I was first of all surprised that the speech was not televised. The second surprise was that it was in Kurdish. Especially with the recent escalation of tensions, Iraqi Arab public opinion is very much against the Kurdish region. The media in Baghdad has been full of pro-Maliki voices to say the least, and they are all depicting Kurds as those who want everything.
President Barzani’s speech touched on many issues related to the future of Iraq as a whole, not just as pertains to the Kurds. One of the key points in talks with Baghdad has been the vision of the country's federal future. But this is not known to the Arab public.
In the absence of a strong Kurdish presence in Baghdad's media, a televised message from President Barzani in Arabic for the people of Iraq would have explained the Kurdish position to the rest of Iraq. It would have also been a strong response to Maliki's NRT interview.

And it's still not in English.  We noted reporting of the speech Saturday

That's Arabic (above).  I don't read Kurdish (or speak Kurdish).   The speech was a clarification of the crisis between the KRG and Baghdad and Barzani states that he was compelled to address the basics and shine a light on the problems.   He argues it boils down to the fact that the Kurds have tried to live in a peaceful coexistence under the Iraqi Constitution but while some respect the rights and duties of the Constitution others disregard and dismiss the Constitution to compile a monopoly of power in their own hands.  He states the disagreement between Nouri al-Maliki and himself is not personal and that Nouri was a close friend many years ago when he lived in Kurdistan [presumably this is during Nouri's exile period which also includes stays in Iran and Syria].  But since 2008 when Nouri sent the Iraqi soldiers and tanks to Khanaqin in a face-off with the Peshmerga, dialogue has been harder and harder.  He notes that the Constitution's Article 140 has never been implemented.  [This is the Article about disputed territories such as oil-rich Kirkuk.  A census and referendum is supposed to be held.  By the end of 2007.  Nouri has refused, for six years now, to implement Article 140.  Nouri is in violation of the Constitution.  This issue, by the way, was seen by the RAND Corporation as the biggest once facing Iraq.]  In addition, Baghdad is not providing the budget for the Peshmerga, nor is it working on a draft oil and gas law.  He notes that the Erbil Agreement has been evaded and that a true partnership has been lost.  It is as though, he states, they hvae returned to a dictatorship, following all the ignored promises.  In violation of the rules and laws, he states, Nouri has attempted to grab absolute power over the administration issues, security issues, the military issues and the  economic ones.  This is in violation of the Constitution, he notes.   That's about half the speech.  In the next section he's launching into the oil issue and I want to speak to a friend before noting that section to make sure I'm interpreting a phrase in that section correctly.

You can click here for the English version of the KRG site.  Currently, the speech isn't up in English.  If it goes up today (or later this week) in English, we'll refer to their own translation which I'm sure will be superior to mine. (And repeating, the English above is based on the Arabic translation of the Kurdish speech.  I don't speak or read Kurdish.)

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Dishonest Cheese Doodle" went up last night.  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) the topics include political prisoner Lynne Stewart, dissent and protests, the National Lawyers Guild and, with guests Chris Hedges and Rick Wolff -- the Occupy Movement.
We'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "US Needs to Replace Pentagon's Approach With Peace Corps" (As The World Sleeps):

If the United States attempted to “conquer” by love rather than force of arms, it might be respected, not reviled, globally.

If the White House took an altruistic approach in foreign affairs---that is, if it rejected greed, exploitation, and war in favor of fair play, charity, and humanitarian assistance---it might enjoy such prosperity as exists beyond the dreams of its misguided rulers.

It is no naïve suggestion to urge the Congress to transpose the budgets and numbers of personnel of the Pentagon and the Peace Corps. Naïve is how one would define the Pentagon's 10-year-long failure to conquer Afghanistan by force of arms. Naïve is how the Pentagon can claim the U.S. has improved Iraq when that country far is worse off today than when the Pentagon first bombarded it eight years ago.

The U.S. has invested 10 years and $3 trillion in attempting to conquer Iraq and Afghanistan and what does it have to show for it, apart from the increased hatred of peoples throughout the Middle East? Congress has taken the Pentagon's road and what's been achieved apart from massive slaughter and despoliation of those nations and a bankrupt Treasury at home? For President Obama to prosecute these criminal wars, based on a tissue of lies, and to initiate new wars is naïve as well as criminal.

No, the goal of American foreign policy must be to serve, not to rule. There is strength and dignity in serving others---in building infrastructure, in opening schools and educating, in ministering to the afflicted. That's the way to win friends and influence people.

What the military-industrial complex does not grasp is that time is running out for all of the creatures on this small blue planet. Global warming, significantly induced by the greenhouse emissions of the U.S. and other great consumer/polluter nations, is gathering momentum. Based on what we can already see happening elsewhere, as in Bangladesh, it appears that in the foreseeable future the streets of New York and Miami will be underwater and the nation's electric power grids overtaxed beyond blackout. Trying to keep cool and find a drink of fresh water may yet be the greatest challenges of this century.

For a preview of the future read Don Belt's excellent article in the May NationalGeographic titled “The Coming Storm” about the suffering (and, yes, resilience) of the 164 million people of Bangladesh.
They've watched sea levels rise, salinity infect their coastal aquifers, river flooding become more destructive, and cyclones batter their coast with increasing intensity---all changes associated with disruptions in the global climate,” Belt writes.

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