Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Iraq around the world

Al-Shorfa reports the Iraqi government has announced that elections will take place in Anbar and Nineveh Provinces for June 20th.  No mention is made of the fact that these elections were previously set for July 4th.  Of course, if Nouri declares a State of Emergency, it really doesn't matter.  And Al Rafidayn is reporting State of Law sources say he's considering doing that, going around Parliament, and declaring a state of emergency for Baghdad, Mosul, Diyala Province and Anbar Province.  So that would knock out Anbar voting.  Nineveh would vote, apparently, without Mosul (or wait for the state of emergency to be called off).  Iraq is said to have a population of just over 30 million (CIA estimate).  Mosul is one of the countries largest cities with an estimated 1.7 million residents.  Nineveh voting without Mosul would be

Yesterday, Canada's Foreign Affairs and International Trade Ministry released the following:

May 21, 2013 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement:
“I have grown increasingly concerned in recent days as a spate of deadly sectarian violence has rocked cities and towns throughout Iraq.
“Today, we learned that a Canadian is among the many victims. Consular officials are in touch with that person’s family and are offering assistance.
“The security situation in Iraq has been fragile for many years. But the type of violence we have seen increase in recent days is particularly troubling and risks returning the country to a sectarian civil war.
“We will be monitoring the situation very carefully and urging Iraqi authorities to do all they can to increase security in the face of this most recent violence, some of which appears to be inspired by outside forces.”
- 30 -
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Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
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The Canadian Press, QMI Agency and AFP  file stories based on the above press release.  The stories are carried by multiple Canadian publications making it clear that a 'local angle' results in interest in Iraq.  Is it news, it absolutely is news that a Canadian died in Iraq.  But there's something sad about the teasing of a press release into a 'news' 'report.'  Because Baird's statement didn't name the Canadian, the 'reports' don't mention the name.

For England, the 'local angle' that gets Iraq in the news is that 4 17-year-olds were sent to fight in Iraq (3 to Afghanistan).  Peter Dominiczak (Telegraph of London) notes the government's claim that they haven't sent any under 18-year-olds overseas since 2010.  It's noted the the United Kingdom signed the pledge that they would not send children into war zones.  Not noted is the reality that the UK signed that United Nations pledge before the 7 were sent.  Also not comforting is this quote from an unnamed Ministry of Defense spoksesperson who declares, "Procedures are in place to ensure that, where possible, no one under the age of 18 is deployed on operations."  Those procedures were in place before as well.  So a lot of good that did.  But more importantly, after the scandal, after the violation, the best the Ministry of Defense can offer is that "where possible" it won't happen again.

Where possible?

Why did the United Kingdom even sign the pledge to begin with?  It clearly had no plans then or since to honor it.

And in Iraq, what stories from outside get traction?  Alsumaria reports on Condom Lead, which is competing in the Cannes film festival.  The Palestinian film was shot in one day in Amman, Jordan on a budget of $7,000 in US dollars and is now competing in the Short Films category for the Palme d'Or.  The film was directed by brothers Ahmad and Mohammad Abu Nasser and stars Maria Mohammad and Rashid Abdelhamid.  3,500 short films were submitted from around the world.  Only nine were chosen.  Only one is from the Arab region, Comdon Lead.  (Iran has a film in the competition, Iceland has one as do Japan, Poland, Belgium and South Korea while France has two in the competition.)  For more on Cannes, you can see Jane Fonda's "CANNES 2013."

The following community sites -- plus The Diane Rehm Show,, Susan's On the Edge,  The NewsHour, Ms. magazine's blog and Jody Watley -- updated last night and this morning:

On the IRS scandal, Dan Balz (Washington Post) and Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times) both have columns worth reading.  This is from McManus' column:

The initial story was that nobody in the White House knew anything about the inspector general's findings in advance of the report's release last week. Then it turned out that White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler was briefed on its findings in late April. A few days later, the White House disclosed that Ruemmler told Chief of Staff Denis McDonough about the findings. But McDonough decided not to inform his boss, the president  --  according to the White House, that is.
The irony is that it shouldn't matter if Obama knew the inspector general's report was coming or what it said. The important thing is that no one in the White House intervened to block, delay or change it.
But by getting its story wrong and revising it repeatedly, the White House has managed to make itself look guilty of something, whether it is or not. And that is prompting everyone else — even some allies — to invoke the Watergate question: What did he know and when did he know it?
"He has to come forward and give more of an answer than he has done," said Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y).

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