Saturday, February 09, 2013

Protests grow and an Iraqi woman is arrested for the crime of marriage?

Through Friday, February 8th, Iraq Body Count counts 122 deaths from violence in Iraq so far this month.  Alsumaria reports a Mosul roadside bombing injured one federal police officer.  All Iraq News reports the wounded toll has risen to three federal police officers.

Meanwhile the protests continue to grow.  What was "hundreds and hundreds" in December turned to "thousands and thousands" in January and is now millions.  Kitabat reports that yesterday some protesters in Anbar Province announced their intent to march to Baghdad next Friday.  All Iraq News notes National Alliance MP Qasim al-Araji is calling out the plan to stage a sit-in in Baghdad.  The Ministry of Interior (run by Nouri al-Maliki since he never nominated anyone to head it) had its own announcement.  Alsumaria reports that today it was declared their intent to crack down on any protest -- anywhere in the country -- that they felt was a threat or lacked a permit.  Al Mada notes that the spokesperson for the Anbar protests, Sayad Lafi, states that the protesters have written Baghdad seeking permission to pray in the city on Friday and return the same day.  On protests, Liz Sly had a very good report for the Washington Post yesterday. (It went up late at the website Friday -- we note it in yesterday's snapshot -- and makes the print version today.)  The report has been picked up by Ya Libnan and by the San Diego Union-Tribune.  From her report:

 The Friday protests have also drawn huge crowds in towns and cities across the Sunni provinces, as the passions of the Arab Spring collide with the bitter legacy of the Iraq War.
The demonstrations first erupted in December in response to the detention of the bodyguards of a Sunni minister in Maliki’s coalition government, which reinforced widespread Sunni perceptions he’s intent on eliminating his Sunni political rivals. But they have evolved into a far deeper expression of the many grievances left unresolved when U.S. forces withdrew a little over a year ago, ranging from abuses committed disproportionately against Sunnis by the Iraqi security forces to what Sunnis perceive to be an unequal distribution of power among the sects.
With their huge turnouts, these largely peaceful demonstrations have the potential to present a far bigger challenge to Maliki’s hold on power than the violent and still stubbornly persistent insurgency, which continues to claim scores of lives every month without any discernible impact on the political process. 

Adil E. Shamoo offers his take for IPS (via CounterCurrents):

In recent weeks, large and frequent demonstrations across the Sunni areas of Baghdad and in the cities of Ramadi, Mosul, Samara and Tikrit, have demanded improved living conditions, an end to government discrimination against former Baathists, and a nullification of the de-Baathification laws. Saleh al-Mutlaq, a Sunni deputy prime minister echoing others, has demanded the resignation of the Nuri al-Maliki’s government. And the Sunni speaker of parliament, Osama al-Nujaifi, in January called for an amnesty law to free Sunnis detained on what Sunnis say are discriminatory charges of terrorism.
The prime minister, while releasing some female prisoners, has called for the demonstrations to cease in the interest of national security. He is bolstered by counter-demonstrations demanding the maintenance of the status quo, and rightfully expressed fears of any Baathist return to power.
Mr. al-Maliki has had an historic opportunity to unify Iraq and move it forward economically. He may still have time, but he must start by ending the violence and changing his own policies, including the use of authoritarian and undemocratic methods to govern. Iraqis have suffered too much.

In other news, the Iraq Times reports a man has been arrested in Erbil for the rapes of 14 young girls.  AFP quotes the head of the Kurdish security forces, Tareq Nuri, stating, "Some families kept the subject of the rapes to themselves because of the conservative traditions of the city."  The girls were all between the ages of 6 and 9-years-old, All Iraq News notes, and many were badly beaten.  This as Al Mada notes that Simon Dawud and the man she was with have been arrested.  The young Yezidi girl was kidnapped, the family insisted creating an international scandal, their eleven-year-old daughter taken by some strange man.  But Rudaw reported days ago that Simon stated she was 15 and that she left to get married to a Sunni Muslim.  She told Rudaw, "I voluntarily escaped [my family] and decided to run away with Hassan Nasrulla.  I told him, if you don't take me with you I will create big trouble for you.  Then he was left with no choice but to take me.  I am 15 years old." The law requires her to be 16 to marry so her elopement with Nasrulla may be in doubt.  She escaped her family, she told Rudaw, because they were attempting to force her into an arranged marriage.  Now Al Mada reports that she and Hassan Nasrulla have been arrested.  All Iraq News notes that female MPs are calling for an end to violence against women in Iraq and for Iraqi women to lead the way out of the political crisis by solving the problems that the male officials have thus far failed to.

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