Thursday, February 21, 2013

Nouri tries to intimidate the protesters

Alsumaria reports the spokesperson for the Hawija demonstrators has been arrested by Nouri al-Maliki's Tigris Operation Command forces.   The arrest happened as a Hawija raid took place carried out by the Tigris Operation Command in what sounds like one of the US raids in the early days of the war.  This is another attempt by Nouri to intimidate the protesters.

As Al Mada was reporting yesterday, Nouri's forces were following protesters in Diyala and Anbar, trailing them, attempting to intimidate them.  Monday is said to have been the 60th day in the ongoing protests.  20 activists in Baquba were arrested, Al Mada reported, for unknown reasons and this included Leith Kazim Mehdawi.

Iraqi Spring MC quotes Dr. Wissal al-Azzawi declaring that the Tigris command is extracting a form of payback, trying to scare the crowds and intimadate them but the protesters will not be silenced.  Nouri's Tigris Operation Command firing on peaceful demonstrators in Falluja January 25th resulting in 11 deaths did not silence them.  Nouri may think he's going to scare them -- or bully them --  into silence but that seems unlikely.  In addition, they're also noting that checkpoints are going up in some areas and people are being prevented from entering unless they have proof on them that they live in that area.

This is how Nouri's terrorizing of protesters in 2011 started.  The big difference is that in 2011, he had to use the police or enlist flunkies and now he has the Tigris Operation Command.

Iraqi Spring MC and The BRussells Tribunal offer a photo essay of last Friday's protests and note, "It continues to amaze us. Who is only informed by the mainstream media, has usually not heard, not seen or not read about the weekly Friday demonstrations in Iraq. There is however massively demonstrated: against the Mailiki-government, against the occupation and for a free and united Iraq. Find here some pictures of the demonstration in Iraq on Friday February 15."

In what plays like distraction, Nouri's flunky makes an announcement.  Alsumaria reports the Deputy Prime Minister on Energy Hussain al-Shahristani, head of the faux committee to address the concerns of the protesters, is announcing that he's about to release 234 prisoners.  Of course, he can't provide a list of names and his past figures have been inflated so it's just more words from Nouri's flunky who hopes to distract from Tigris Operation Command's harassment and arrests of protesters.

Al Mada's Adnan Hussein pens a column for The New Statesman entitled "A new kind of dictatorship:"

The loopholes in the constitution were described as a “minefield” by the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, just 15 months ago. The civil war of 2006-2008 was sparked by the explosion of some of these mines, and so were the current demonstrations in the western Sunni provinces. Yet al-Maliki took advantage of the loopholes, shortcomings and vague articles to enhance his personal, extra-constitutional power and to weaken the power of the parliament, the judiciary and independent or civil society bodies.
Ultimately, al-Maliki and his Dawa Party have managed to create a new kind of dictatorship. This is a curse not only to the Sunnis, or the Kurds, or the swaths of Shias, but to the country as a whole.
As an editor and columnist of al-Mada, a critical, oppositional newspaper in Iraq, I am given considerable editorial freedom, and there is certainly no shortage of subjects to cover. I am, however, concerned about the freedom of the press.

A despot rules through violence so violence continues in Iraq.  Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports an attack on a Duluiayah military checkpoint which has left 4 Iraqi soldiers dead and four more injured.  Alsumaria notes a Baquba roadside bombing which left two people injured and 1 police officer was shot dead in BaghdadTrend News Agency reports the Baquba bombing claimed 1 life and left seven people injured.  And the death toll on the al-Duluiyah attack continues to increase.  Al Jazeera, the Christian Science Monitor and PRI's Jane Arraf Tweets this morning:

  1. Gunmen attack army checkpoint in Salahadin province, north of Baghdad, killing 5, wounding 3. 1 of several attacks on security forces

From 2003 to 2005, Caroline Hawley was BBC News' Baghdad correspondent.  She recently returned to Iraq and notes that in "Iraq's 'freedom' is still steeped in blood" (New Statesman):

I never again want to see a father run screaming down a hospital corridor holding a limbless, bloodied child. It is still happening – you just don’t hear about it much any more. Iraq Body Count lists the deaths of more than 4,500 civilians in 2012. Many more have seen their hopes dashed. In a cramped home in the suburbs of Baghdad, we met a man called Saad who had just escaped from the mayhem in Syria and was camping with relatives. A Sunni married to a Shia, he fled Iraq at the height of Iraq’s sectarian war after receiving death threats. Now, he’d had to flee for his life a second time and was back in Baghdad, guilt-stricken about being unable to protect his nine-year-old daughter from the levels of violence she had witnessed. He was jobless, and hopeless. “I feel like I’m nothing,” he told me, tears rolling down his cheeks.
Saad’s shame reminded me of the humiliation felt by another man I once interviewed who had been jailed at Abu Ghraib. He was one of the Iraqis pictured in the infamous photograph of the naked pyramid of hooded men. He looked at his feet as he quietly recounted how they had been forced to mas­turbate each other for the soldiers’ entertainment. I visited Abu Ghraib the following year; the Americans were keen to show us how much had changed. Family visits were now allowed and young American soldiers were taking souvenir snaps of prisoners with their wives and children. The name of one of the tented camps for the detainees was Camp Redemption. Who was it, I wondered, who needed to be redeemed?

We'll close with this from Norman Solomon's "Congress: End Endless War and Stop Becoming 'the Evil That We Deplore':"

Congress waited six years to repeal the Tonkin Gulf Resolution after it opened the bloody floodgates for the Vietnam War in August 1964.
If that seems slow, consider the continuing failure of Congress to repeal the “war on terror” resolution -- the Authorization for Use of Military Force -- that sailed through, with just one dissenting vote, three days after 9/11.
Prior to casting the only “no” vote, Congresswoman Barbara Lee spoke on the House floor. “As we act,” she said, “let us not become the evil that we deplore.”
We have. That’s why, more than 11 years later, Lee’s prophetic one-minute speech is so painful to watch. The “war on terror” has inflicted carnage in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and elsewhere as a matter of routine. Targets change, but the assumed prerogative to kill with impunity remains.
Now, Rep. Lee has introduced H.R. 198, a measure to repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force. (This week, several thousand people have already used a special webpage to email their Senators and House members about repealing that “authorization” for endless war.) Opposed to repeal, the Obama administration is pleased to keep claiming that the 137-month-old resolution justifies everything from on-the-ground troops in combat to drone strikes and kill lists to flagrant abrogation of civil liberties.

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