Monday, December 17, 2012

Iraq slammed with violence

Iraq is slammed with violence today.  AFP observes today's "violence comes after a string of attacks killed 19 people and wounded 77 yesterday."  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) also notes today is the "second day of deadly attacks." Kitabat sees today as one when terror spreads across Iraq.  Al Rafidayn counts 23 dead and 56 injured today -- those figures may rise.

Alsumaria reports a Ramadi car bombing claimed 4 lives and left seven injured and the photo shows blood flowing in the street while a double bombing in Tuz Khurmato left 5 dead and twenty injuredAll Iraq News adds that, en route to Samarra, a bus carrying Iranian pilgrims was targeted with a car bombing resulting in eleven of them being injured (it was a suicide car bombing -- the driver of the car is dead).  Reuters notes four bombs went off in Baquba resulting in 1 death and five people being injured.  Al Bawaba reports an armed attack to the west of Tikrit that left 1 police officer dead and three more injured and that a car bomb then went off killing 4 more people and injuring two more police officers.  BBC News emphasizes a truck bombing outside Mosul which resulted in 7 deaths in a Shabak village, "The Shabak, who number about 50,000 and live between the Mosul plane and Baashiqa, have their own distinct language and belief system."

The prolonged days of violence come as Al Mada notes Iranian media is reporting that Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani (the highest religious authority in Iraq) has warned Nouri that he is dangerously close to setting off a war inside Iraq and has called on him to stop making statements that could further inflame tensions between Erbil (capital of the Kurdish Regional Government) and Baghdad.

In other news, this Al Mada article about Nouri al-Maliki's reported plan to direct questions about Ali al-Dabbagh to Parliament appear to indicate Nouri plans to hang the arms deal on him.  October 9th, Nouri was strutting across the world stage as he inked a $4.2 billion weapons deal with Russia. The deal is now iffy if not off (an Iraqi delegation went to Russia last week to see if the deal could be salvaged) and it went down in charges of corruption.  Ali al-Dabbagh had been Nouri's spokesperson.  As the charges of corruption flew, al-Dabbagh felt the need to state publicly that he was not involved in the deal.  He repeated that after he suddenly was no longer working for the Iraqi government.  Today Al Rafidayn reports that there are ongoing discussions about who should fill the position al-Dabbagh vacated.  According to press accounts, he has reportedly now left Iraq but he has provided the media with several statements -- the most recent decrying the efforts of the government to convict him in the media.  There are rumors that al-Dabbagh has been in contact with a committee in Parliament and provided them with documentation of corruption in the Russian arms deal.

That's not the only deal coming under scrutiny.  The Iraq Times reports that Iraq paid the US three times what Iraq would have paid Qatar for similar planes made in the same year, this is in reference to the Lockheed Martin deal (C-130J Super Hercules). Alsumaria adds that Iraqiya says they have a corruption file on the US aircraft deal. They're calling the deal out and, since their statements were made outside of Parliament today, will most likely use Parliament to address their concerns.

Saturday came news of Nouri's latest targeting of the press, " The Iraq Times reports that cable channel Baghdadi was surrounded by the Iraqi military on Friday and they forced everyone out and then shut the station down.  They also note that Nouri ordered the closure.  The Iraq Times reports that Iraqiya spokesperson Maysoon al-Damalouji declared today that Nouri is attempting to rebuild the Republic of Fear (a reference to the days of Saddam Hussein) and decried the closing of Baghdadiya TV."  Today Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports Nouri took to Facebook to insist that he closed Al Baghdadi as a result of "financial irregularities."  He maintains that there are fees for transimission that were not paid.    Nouri is said to have taken offense at their coverage of his Russian arms deal and his handling of the Central Bank.  Earlier the Ministry of the Interior had attempted to fall on the sword.  Al Rafidayn reports they issued a statement Saturday saying it was their decision and that of the court's to close the station.  Of course, Nouri is in charge of the Ministry of the Interior.  They have no minister because Nouri never nominated anyone for Parliament to vote on.

Today the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory issues a statement noting their deep concern over press freedom in Iraq and they call on Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi to open an investigation immediately into the closure of satellite channel and radio station Al Baghdadi.  The press organization states that the Parliament is the body responsible for ensuring the future of democracy in Iraq and the future for freedom of expression.  They see the closure of the satellite TV channel and radio station as another means to reduce the role of media in Iraq and to prevent the exposure of corrutpion.  They decry the use of armed forces on the station and the forced departures of the employees from the building.

Al Mada reports the National Union of Iraqi Journalists is also protesting the closure and saying it represents a reduction of freedom of the press and liberty.  Moqtada al-Sadr is a cleric and movement leader with a significant bloc in Parliament.  MP Hussein al-Mansouri is with the Sadr bloc and he tells Wael Grace (Al Mada) that the closure was the result of the reporting the channel did on the corruption in the Russian arms deal.

Nouri's a tyrant.  And among the scandals he faces is the reports of abuse in Iraqi prisons.  Al Mada is reporting that Martin Kobler, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's special envoy in Iraq, is stating that UNAMI receives daily reports about abuses taking place in Iraqi prisons and that, in the next few days, they plan to issue a statment on the matter.

Bonnie reminds that Kat's "Kat's Korner: Stones release a tooth grinder" and Isaiah's  The World Today Just Nuts "The Deaths of Children" both went up last night.  On this week's 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) topics addressed include the surveillance state, Bradley Manning,  a discussion on marijuana laws with the Drug Policy Alliance's Ethan Nadelmann and Black Agenda Report's Glen Ford joins them for a discussion on Egypt and Syria.

In the US, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office notes:

Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
United States Senate
112th Congress, Second Session
Hearing Schedule
Update: December 14, 2012
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 Starting immediately after the first vote
S-216 (Presidents Room)
Markup: Nomination of Keith Kelly to be Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans’ Employment and Training and William S. Greenberg to be a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
Matthew T. Lawrence
Chief Clerk / System Administrator
Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

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