Thursday, May 30, 2013

Violence and rumors plague Iraq

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 839 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month -- two days left in the month, today and tomorrow.  Today National Iraqi News Agency reports a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left six people injured, a Mosul roadside bombing left three people injured, 2 Iraqi border guards in Anbar Province were killed by men "wearing police uniforms," a Mosul suicide car bombing claimed the lives of 3 police officers and left eight more injured, a Baghdad car bombing (Karrada district) claimed 1 life and left nine people injured2 Baghdad car bombings (Binooq neighborhood and one "near the Mission Complex") left 6 people dead and nineteen injured, and a Ramadi bombing assassination attempt on Anbar Province Governor Qassim Mohammed al-Fahdawi left the governor unscathed but injured four of his bodyguards. Al Rafidayn notes that motorcycles and vehicles have been banned in Baghdad today and tomorrow.

Deutsche Welle observes, "Earlier in the week, the United Nations envoy to the country called on leading Iraqi politicians to hold urgent talks aimed at resolving a series of political disputes that have left the government powerless to take decisive action to end the violence."

The violence has been increasing for some time.  A smart move would have been to have filled the security ministries with people to head them.  That was supposed to happen in 2010.  All these years later, it still hasn't.   All Iraq News notes MP Yousif al-Taai, with Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc, "stressed the necessity of nominating the security ministers rather than running the security ministries by acting ministers."  Back in July, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support."  Acting ministers and a question mark for a president?

 Last December,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.  At the start of the month, there were new rumors swirling about his health and, this past week,  Nouri al-Maliki attempted to have Jalal stripped of his post this month.  (Parliament rejected the notion.) Following that,  Al Mada ran a photo of Jalal Talabani seated outdoors with his medical team and noted the team states the Iraqi President's health has continued to improve and he will return to Iraq shortly. 

Arabic social media has been referring to the photos and the video as having a Weekend At Bernie's type feel to it.  (In Weekend At Bernie's, two young men prop up the corpse of dead Bernie to trick people into believing he's alive.)  The fact that Jalal's only seen in the video and the photos from his right side have people speculating about what the left side shows -- the after-effects of a stroke? Salah Nasrawi (Al-Ahram) notes:

Rumours have been abundant about Talabani’s health condition as his convalescence coincides with one of Iraq’s most serious political crises and its deadliest period of ethno-sectarian strife since the United States pullout in 2011.
Some reports have suggested that Talabani is clinically dead in the Berlin hospital where he is treated, others said the enfeebled president has handed his will to one of the leaders of his party.
Regardless of the furious speculations among Iraqis about Talabani’s health conditions, his prolonged absence has sparked a debate about whether he will be physically able to resume official duties.
According to various medical studies, persons who had strokes mostly develop serious physical and emotional problems occurring after recovery and they will need prolonged treatment.

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