Saturday, April 27, 2013

The rule of law has collapsed completely in Iraq

Through Friday, Iraq Body Count counts 490 violent deaths for the month thus far.  Violence continues today in Iraq.  National Iraqi News Agency reports a Falluja attack which left 1 person dead and another injured, rebels and federal police clashed in Falluja, a Falluja mortar attack left four people injured5 people shot dead in Basra, Nouri's forces shot dead 10 rebels to the north east of Baquba, rebels shot dead 5 Iraqi soldiers in Ramadi,

All Iraq News notes Nouri's threatening violence and revenge for the soldiers killed in Ramadi.  How telling that when 50 protesters are killed (by his forces) in Hawija, he makes no threats about what will happen if their killers are not punished.  All Iraq News also notes Sahwa is threatening regarding the deaths of their own.  Did no one ever explain to the forces in Iraq that they aren't a social club?  They exist for one reason only, to protect the Iraqi people.  They've failed miserably at that job.  That doesn't excuse them and allow them to threaten damage to the Iraqi people.

Sahwa -- a group  motivated by coin -- are mainly Sunnis who were active in killing US troops and, more often, damaging US military equipment.  In 2008, then-General David Petraeus explained the 'strategy' to the US Congress which translates as: To keep them from stealing our lunch, we paid the bullies off.

They changed their positions because they were paid.  So we know that they lack conviction and beliefs.  Now they want to threaten the Ramadi protesters: they have 24 hours to hand over the Sahwa killers.  It's apparently the equivalent of 'get out of town until sundown.'  And there's nothing connecting the protesters to the killers but Sahwa thinks they can publicly threaten protesters.  And Nouri's fine with it because there is no law in Iraq, there is no protection of the citizens, there are only hired bullies pushing the people around, terrorizing them and intimidating them.

Can you imagine, after the Boston bombings, if  US President Barack Obama had said, "Those responsible better turn themselves over or we will shoot up Boston," can you imagine how crazed and insane he would look?  That's Nouri and the forces in Iraq.

Alsumaria reports that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq hand the killers of soldiers over to the tribes and let the tribes 'handle' the killers.  Rule of law, how Iraqi leaders struggle with the concept.

Is it any wonder that Kamal Naama (Reuters) is quoting protest spokesperson Sheikh Saeed al-Lafi stating, "In order to keep Anbar a safe place for Sunnis, we decided to form an army called the Army of Price and Dignity with 100 volunteers from each tribe to protect our province"?

And what are the alternatives after Tuesday's massacre of a Hawija sit-in by Nouri's forces?  Nouri's forces surrounded Hawija and seized it for days.  Not unlike what Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) reports today is taking place in Adhamiya which Nouri's forces clamped down on yesterday and whose residents are harassed by the forces.  Ibrahim al-Jubouri explains to al-Tamimi that Nouri's forces are raiding homes in the area late into the night.

Hawija is in disputed Kirkuk.  We noted Sunday the Peshmerga (elite Kurdish fighting force) was considering deploying as a result of Nouri's forces intimidate Hawija (Sunday, it was intimidation and denial of food and medicine, Tuesday it became a slaughter).  All Iraq News notes that the Peshmerga are moving in today.  NINA quotes from a statement about how the Peshmerga has "settled in a buffer zone between the army and police forces in order to protect the cities of Kirkuk province and Kurdistan." One of Nouri's puppets tells AFP (which repeats it without question because AFP is so gullible -- see previous entry) that this is a move by the Kurds to seize the oil wells in Kirkuk.   Meanwhile Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports that SWAT forces are under the command of Nouri and take orders from him. 

MP Ali Muhsen al-Timimi, with the Sadr bloc, tells All Iraq News the attack on Hawija is due to Nouri's psychological state which is under distress due to Nouri's political party (Dawa) doing so poorly in the elections.  In addition, Alsumaria notes that MP Iman al-Moussawi (also with the Sadr bloc) states that Nouri pressured the Electoral Commission to change the votes. These charges were made during the 2010 recounts and there was validity to them. If a few votes were changed this go round, this is major because in all but one province State of Law won, it did not win huge majorities.  In Wasit, for example, it beat Amar al-Hakim's Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq by 2% -- Wasit had charges of voter fraud and had a huge number of voters turned away two Saturdays ago when security forces were doing early voting.    There's even dispute as to whether State of Law comes in first in eight provinces.  Some outlets are claiming it's only seven.  If the IHEC would publish their totals -- as they were supposed to already do -- it would eliminate a great deal of confusion.  Deutsche Welle points out:

 There is a political North-South divide on the horizon for Iraq. The eight provinces that Maliki's rule-of-law-coalition won are all located south of Baghdad and include the capital. In the northern provinces, Maliki hardly has any supporters. On the contrary: protests against him have been raging there for months, but are beaten down violently by the army. In the village Hauwija, close to Kirkuk, almost 50 people were killed in one day, and 26 more two days later in Suleiman Beg.

In other news, KUNA reports, "Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil Al-Araby is making consultations for choosing an Arab envoy for Iraq to act as a facilitator with all political leaders there, a diplomatic source said.  The Arab move mainly aims to ease out political tensions following an Iraqi army attack on a sit-in protest in southwest Kirkuk on Tuesday, which left scores of protesters and troops dead or wounded, the source, on anonymity, told reporters."  Alsumaria notes that Nouri's insulted by the fact that the Arab Leauge is making the decision and not the Iraq government.

Let's turn to northern Iraq, to the semi autonomous Kurdish region and where Iraq borders Turkey.  From Free Speech Radio News Thursday:

Dorian Merina:  Kurdish rebels announced today they will withdraw from Turkey next month as part of a peace initiative being negotiated with the central government.  FSRN's Jacob Resneck has more from Istanbul.  

Jacob Resneck:  Leaders of the Kurdistan Workers Party have set May 8th as the date for a phased withdrawal from their bases in Turkey's Kandil mountains that border Iraq.  The 30-year conflict between the PKK and military has killed more than 45,000 people since ethnic Kurds- estimated to be about a fifth of Turkey's population - took up arms in an effort to gain language rights and political autonomy. Some Turkish nationalists are critical of the government dealing directly with the PKK have been demonstrating in cities across Turkey.  A 23-year-old activist in central Istanbul is collecting petition signatures, protesting the government's dialogue with the PKK, which is listed by Turkey, the United States and European Union as a terror organization. But there is also optimism here.  Parliamentarian Altan Tan of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party told FSRN that armed struggle is finished.  He says lasting peace depends on whether the government's commitments are sincere.

Altan Tan:  Turkey is writing a new democratic constitution, which will guarantee Kurdish rights.  But, it's not certain that the Prime Minister will keep his promise to make a new democratic constitution that will fulfill the agreement.

Jacob Resneck:  The PKK has also warned the military to show restraint and said any fresh offensive against the group could scuttle the agreement to withdraw.  Jacob Resneck, FSRN, Istanbul.

Thursday, James Reynolds reported (link is video) for the BBC:

These Qandil mountains are the headquareters of the Kurdistan Workers Party, the PKK.  Normally, this area would be too dangerous to walk around in but we've been invited here by the PKK.  This is one of their soldiers here.  We've been invited in order to attend a news conference by the acting leader of the PKK Murat Karayilan.  Just have a look over there and see if you can see him, he's in the middle.   He's the acting leader because Abdullah Ocalan, the main leader of the PKK, is in prison.  He's been in prison since 1999. In late 2012, this movement, the PKK, and the Turkish government decided to begin a peace process.  A cease-fire was called in March of this year and now we've all come here to find out more details about the withdrawal of PKK forces from Turkey, here in their safe haven in northern Iraq.

Hurriyet Daily News notes the withdrawal is supposed to begin May 8th.  Ayla Jean Yackley (Reuters) reports, "Turkish Prime Minister [Recep] Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday hailed the planned withdrawal of Kurdish rebel fights from Turkey as the end of a 'dark era' but warned against potential sabotage of a historic peace process."  World Bulletin adds, "As part of measures taken to prevent any confrontation or clash between Turkish security forces and the members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) while the PKK is withdrawing from Turkey, thermal cameras will be turned off, military observation towers will be evacuated and Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) will be deactivated, the Sabah daily reported on Thursday."  If it takes, this will be historic and credit will go not only to PKK leaders and Erdogan but also to the peace activists in Turkey who have called for years now for an end to the violence and to the leaders in the KRG who have not been properly credited by the press for their role in the dialogue. 

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