Saturday, September 15, 2012

Angelina visits refugees in Iraq


Among the news coming out of Iraq today?  Al Mada reports that UN Special Envoy on Refugee Issues Angelina Jolie visited Iraq today as part of the UN efforts for Syrian refugees.  The American actress will visit Dohuk Province and met with refugees at the camp there.  Dohuk and Anbar Province house approximatley 21,000 Syrian refugees.  Angelina met with Iraq's Minister of Foreign Affairs Hoshyar Zebari. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) adds, "Jolie and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari discussed the situation of Syrian refugees in Iraq while meeting at his office in Baghdad, the foreign ministry said in a statement. They also talked about the efforts made by the Iraqi government to meet the daily needs of refugees, the statement said."  

angelina and zebari

Alsumaria notes her previous visits to Iraq as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador and that she's alos visited refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanaon and Turkey to bring a spotlight to the refugee issue and, with regards to Syrian refugees only, Kitabat notes she has visited camps in Lebanon and Jordan. AFP reports she travels next to Erbil and will visit Dohuk's refugee camp.

Her visit comes as the Dohuk camp is planned to remain open but Nouri is attempting to get rid of the refugees in Anbar Province.  Nouri doesn't control Dohuk, it is part of the Kurdistan Regional Government.  

One way or another, Nouri seems determined to force everyone out of Iraq who will not worship him.  For example, in December 2011, Nouri charged Iraq's Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi with 'terrorism.'  It is widely seen as being politically motivated.  A sham of a trial in absentia recently concluded.  Sham?  Judges aren't allowed to hold press conferences to announce the guilt of someone . . . whose trial has yet to start.  But they did that with Tareq.  February 16th, they held a press conference, before the trial started, to announce he was guilty.  This was in violation of Iraqi law.  They tried him in absentia and refused to allow his defense to call witnesses -- such as politicians.  The whole thing was a joke.    

Sunday, Ramadan al-Fatash (DPA) explained "that a Baghdad court sentenced in absentia Iraq's vice president, Tareq al-Hashemi, to death on terrorism charges. Al-Hashemi, Iraq's most senior Sunni Muslim official, has called the charges a political ploy by the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki."   Lara Jakes (AP) reported, "The Baghdad courtroom was silent Sunday as the presiding judge read out the verdict convicting al-Hashemi and his son-in-law of organizing the murders of a Shiite security official and a lawyer who had refused to help the vice president's allies in terror cases. The court sentenced both men in absentia to death by hanging. They have 30 days to appeal the verdict."   Sam Dagher and Ali A. Nabhan (Wall Street Journal) observed, "Many saw the verdict against Tariq al-Hashemi -- a prominent Sunni politician who has professed his innocence and has been sheltered by the Sunni Islamist-led government in Turkey since April -- coupled with Sunday's attacks as emboldening those among Iraq's Sunni minority who see violent confrontation rather than politics as the only way to regain powers lost to the Shiite majority after the U.S.-led ouster of Saddam Hussein's regime more than nine years ago."  Omar al-Jawoshy and Michael Schwirtz (New York Times) quoted Talabani stating on Monday, "It was regrettable to issue, at this particular time, a judicial decision against him while he still officially holds office."

Tareq al-Hashemi remains in Turkey and not only is the government of Turkey, including Prime Minister Reccep Tayyip Erdogan, backing him, Al Mada reports that an amendment to the Turkish Constitution has just been proposed to further protect al-Hashemi.  Nouri's using the crisis he created to further attack rights and liberties.  Dar Addustour reports that Nouri is insisting the countries of Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are working on a plan to invade Iraq and overthrow him -- as a result he's ordered a security crackdown on Baghdad.

While Kitabat notes that Tareq al-Hashemi denies he has any evidence on him that implicates or condemns any officials in Iraq for corruption,  Prashant Rao (AFP) reports on Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi who was the Communications Minister until he resigned last month (August 27th) and who is stating that he still has in his possession "documents pointing to graft within the government" and quotes him stating, "100 percent sure that the people surrounding al-Maliki, they are corrupt people, very close to him, they are highly corrupt people.  But definitely, he knows the corrupt people, but those who are loyal to him, he never takes any action.  He allows them to be more corrupt, and it is very obvious." (Al Mada runs the article in Arabic here.)

In addition violence continued in Iraq as well.  Alsumaria reports that an armed attack to the north of Tikrit left a Counter-Terrorism Lt Col and and his driver dead.  AAP identifies the Lt Col as Saba Mohammed.  AFP adds that a Hajj Ali home invasion left three cousins dead and a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer with three more injured.  Reuters notes 4 Turkish soldiers were killed "in a suspected PKK attack."  Alsumaria also notes the mass arrests are continuing -- 82 people arrested today alone -- 60 in al-Diwaniya (Qadisiyyah Province) alone.  It would be nice if this past week's of mass arrest could be reported by the US press but why would expect them to start doing their job at this late date?

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