Sunday, September 09, 2012


Today is already the second most violent of the year in Iraq and, when all the dead are counted, it may end up being the most violent of the year.  July 23rd saw 115 people killed in violent attacks.  Monday July 23rd, the death toll was 107 . . . until all the bodies were counted.  On Tuesday the 24th, "Yesterday, Iraq was slammed with bombings.  This morning, AP notes that the death toll from Monday's attacks 'has risen to 115.'  Reuters notes the increase and credits it in part to a Baghdad bombing and a Baquba bombing 'late on Monday' which claimed 9 lives and thirty-one injured."

Of today's violence, Jamal Hashim and Mustafa Sabah (Xinhua) report, "The deadliest attack in the day occured near the city of Amara, some 365 km south of Baghdad, when two car bombs exploded at a marketplace near the shrine of Shiite Imam Ali al-Sharqi in the town that holds the name of the Imam, killing 18 people and wounding some 70 others."  Mohammed Tawfeeq, Chelsea J. Carter and Josh Levs (CNN) have the best break down of the violence, reporting it by city: Baghdad, Amara, Kirkuk, Western Basra, Tikrit, Taji, Nasiriya, Falluja, Abu Ghraib.

Sky News counts 109 dead and notes that Baghdad accounts for 51 deaths alone.  Kareem Raheem, Aseel Kami, Raheem Salman, Ahmed Rasheed, Patrick Markey, Barry Malone and Andrew Osborn (Reuters) quote Sadr City's Alla Majid stating, "I heard women screaming, I saw people running in all directions, chairs scattered in the street.  My windows were blown out, my mother and two kids were injured too."   Suadad al-Salhy and Raheem Salman (Reuters) note that attack targets included "the French consular building in the usually stable city of Nassiriya" and 1 guard was killed and four mroe injured.  Nizar Latif (The National), filing before the death toll hit 100 (let alone 109), observes, "In the deadliest attack, gunmen stormed a small Iraqi army outpost in the town of Dujail before dawn, killing at least 11 soldiers and wounding eight, according to police and hospital officials in the nearby city of Balad, about 80 kilometres north of Baghdad."  If you look at the coverage throughout the day, you'll see that.  The deadliest attack at five is replaced at six as the toll continues to rise.  

The violence wasn't the only big story out of Iraq today.  Ramadan al-Fatash (DPA) explains, "The attacks came on the day 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."  He'd be the most senior member of the politcal slate Iraqiya.  The only one who can vie for that title would be Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi who is also of Iraqiya.  The Ayad Allawi-led political slate beat Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law political slate in the March 2010 parliamentary elections.   Since then, Nouri's massaged one political grudge after another.   Lara Jakes (AP) reports, "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.Al Jazeera adds:

Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel Hamid, reporting from Istanbul, where Hashemi currently is, said the vice president "didnt seem very worried at all" as Turkey has refused to hand him over to the Iraqi authorities. "He knows he is safe," she said.
Our correspondent also noted that the final sentence was a lot more watered down than the initial charges.
"At the beginning he was being indicted for financing and organising death squads. He was told he was behind at least 150 attacks. If you look at today's sentencing it has been completely watered down. Compared to what he was accused of, he has just been sentenced on the killing of a lawyer and a security official," she said.

BBC News notes, "Other Sunni politicians have denounced Shia Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki - who issued the warrant for Mr Hashemi - as a dictator, accusing him of deliberate provocation that risked plunging the country back into sectarian conflict.  Correspondents say the fragile coalition government of Sunnis, secularists and Shia has appeared to be in danger of collapse ever since."

Whenever outlets try to report on Tareq al-Hashemi, usually some of them will get it wrong, the timeline.  Reuters is the worst and most repeat offender.  Tareq al-Hashemi did not leave Baghdad when an arrest warrant was issued for him.  The arrest warrant was issued the day after Tareq left for the KRG.  This is fact.  Reuters has a real problem with fact.  To review, we'll drop back to the
April 30th snapshot:

The political crisis was already well in effect when December 2011 rolled around.  The press rarely gets that fact correct.  When December 2011 rolls around you see Iraqiya announce a  boycott of the council and the Parliament, that's in the December 16th snapshot and again in a December 17th entry .  Tareq al-Hashemi is a member of Iraqiya but he's not in the news at that point.  Later, we'll learn that Nouri -- just returned from DC where he met with Barack Obama -- has ordered tanks to surround the homes of high ranking members of Iraqiya.  December 18th is when al-Hashemi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq are pulled from a Baghdad flight to the KRG but then allowed to reboard the plane. December 19th is when the arrest warrant is issued for Tareq al-Hashemi by Nouri al-Maliki who claims the vice president is a 'terrorist.' .

Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) offers his take, "The death sentence raises the stakes in the controversy around Iraq's top Sunni Muslim politician, who accuses the country's Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of pushing the country towards a religious divide. The arrest warrant for al-Hashimi was issued soon after his Iraqiya party announced it would boycott Parliament, saying al-Maliki was cutting it out of the decision-making process."

It's worth remembering that at least one body guard of Tareq al-Hashemi's was tortured to death by Nouri's forces -- tortured to death this year while he was being 'questioned.'  His office manager and other staff were taken from their homes by security forces and their families were left in the dark for months where the women and men were.  Nouri's leadership of Iraq is a history of torture and secret jails.  The justices noted Tareq was guilty before they ever heard any witnesses or opening arguments, they held a press conference in February, before the trial began, to announce that Tareq was guilty.  

In addition, the Baghdad court is generally seen as controlled by Nouri.

So in no way did Tareq receive a fair trial.

Before the verdict came down, Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) interviewed Tareq.  This is an excerpt:

"I am very much concerned about the future, I can say that my country has reached a turning point, because of the sectarian and unqualified management of Maliki and the trouble-making of Iran," Hashemi told me. "Now all possibilities are coming on the table because of the injustice, the wide-scale corruption. People are getting fed up... people will be forced to think of other drastic solutions to get rid of this ongoing injustice… I’m very scared. And feel very, very much worried about the future."

Tareq remains in Turkey at present.  He may continue to remain there.  He can also reside in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, among other places.  The Sunnis in the region see the trial as part of the continued persecution of Sunnis in Iraq by Nouri.  It is among the reasons so many Arab leaders boycotted the 'big' Arab League Summit Nouri hosted in March.

I'm traveling in some vehicle
I'm sitting in some cafe
A defector from the petty wars
That shell shock love away
-- "Hejira," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album of the same name

 The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4488.

New content at Third:

Isaiah's latest?  It's already up.  But I'm changing the time on it so that it will be at the top of the site until Monday morning's entries go up.  (It fit with the editorial we were doing at Third so it posted early.)

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