Wednesday, December 18, 2013

At least 18 dead and 21 injured in today's violence

At least 18 people are dead and twenty-one injured in today's cycle of violence in Iraq.

National Iraqi News Agency reports a Baghdad bombing claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers and left three more injured, a Ramadi shooting left the University of Anbar's Dr. Ahmed al-Thiyabi injured, a Mosul attack let 1 police officer dead and another injured, 1 person was shot dead outside his Barwaneh home, 1 person was shot dead outside his al-Thawrah home and his sister was left injured, an attack on a Falluja checkpoint left three police officers injured, 1 "former army officer was killed in an armed attack in the north-east of Baquba," an armed attack on a Mosul military checkpoint left two Iraqi soldiers injured, Nouri's forces boast they killed 1 suspect in Mosul, 1 young girl was shot dead and her mother injured at a Samarra checkpoint, a Ramadi car bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left three injured, a Khalis suicide bomber took his own life and the lives of 3 police officers while leaving leaving nine pilgrims injured, and 1 corpse was discovered dumped in the streets of Baghdad.   All Iraq News adds that Baghdad Operations Command boasts that they killed 4 suspects

Iraq Body Count notes 23 dead from violence yesterday and, through Tuesday, 580 dead from violence so far this month.

On violence, Mushreq Abbas (Al-Monitor) reports:

Militiamen in Iraq do not only carry weapons, they also wield religious, moral and economic power over their social environment. They play the role of neighborhood governors in times of peace and murderers in times of war.
Mohammed, a member of a well-known Shiite militia in Iraq, insisted on being called "Sheikh Mohammed," by which the residents of his area in Baya, south of Baghdad, know him. Speaking to Al-Monitor, he said he does not normally carry weapons without receiving orders from within his circles. What happened in the Baya neighborhood was a response to the bombing of a cafe, in which one of the neighborhood’s residents was involved.
While he spoke, the young sheikh tried to express a high degree of religious conservatism: “We are not involved in killing, as our religion prohibits us. We simply fend off certain negative influences and try to protect the residents of the area.”
Mohammed denied committing any crime that would be punishable by law. What he does is a mere self-defense, even if it comes in the form of an assassination. The residents of the neighborhood, however, depict the "sheikh" in a different light. According to one female worker, he is seen as practically the governor of the neighborhood. When someone wants to sell his house to escape threats, Mohammed specifies the price and buys the house himself as a final settlement. No one dares to offer a higher bid.

Back in September, Tim Arango (New York Times) broke the news that Nouri al-Maliki was paying and arming militais:

In supporting Asaib al-Haq, Mr. Maliki has apparently made the risky calculation that by backing some Shiite militias, even in secret, he can maintain control over the country’s restive Shiite population and, ultimately, retain power after the next national elections, which are scheduled for next year. Militiamen and residents of Shiite areas say members of Asaib al-Haq are given government badges and weapons and allowed freedom of movement by the security forces.

In his second term as prime minister, Nouri can boast of increasing violence and failing to fill the posts of Minister of Defense, Minister of National Security and Minister of the Interior.  They were supposed to be filled by the end of 2010; however, in a power grab, Nouri refused to fill the posts so he could control them.  And the world can see the effects from Nouri's decision.

Despite his lengthy record of failures, Nouri wants a third term.

Well why wouldn't he?

Before he became prime minister he was nothing, a failure whose only 'credit' was fleeing a country like a little chicken and then cowering in Iran, Syria and Jordan while he lobbied the US government to stand up to Saddam Hussein -- something coward Nouri had never done himself.

So why wouldn't he want a third term?

The alternative might be obscurity.

Or more likely lengthy trials to address how he misused the public funds to enrich himself and his family.

Parliamentary elections are supposed to take place April 30th.  Fadel al-Kifaee (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace) observes today:

As Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki prepares to make a third run in the Iraq’s upcoming parliamentary elections, daunting challenges appear ahead. More than ever, Maliki stands as a dividing figure in Iraqi politics—his opponents are numerous and diverse, but the strongest opposition, political and religious, comes from within his Shia community.
There have been indications that Iraq's Shia spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is not in favor of a third term for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, but the latter is taking advantage of the Ayatollah's quietism. Although Maliki seems aware of Sistani’s disproval of his performance, he is using Sistani’s abstention from politics (Sistani will not even meet with politicians) to deny claims that he lost the support of the religious establishment. Sistani belongs to and maintains the traditional Shii thought that a marja's role in politics is limited to providing advice without taking sides, unless the Islamic social identity of society comes under a threat—which necessitated his involvement in the ratification of the 2005 constitution. However, Sistani's representatives have, without explicitly naming Maliki, made their discontent with him and his performance apparent, especially on issues of national unity and security (including his handling of Sunni protests and poor management of security challenges, let alone corruption). These criticisms are effectively delivered through Friday prayer, in a soft manner and in compliance with Sistani's approach.

The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley, Cindy Sheehan, Pacifica Evening News, Chocolate City, and --   updated last night and this morning:

  • Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee and serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office issued the following yesterday:

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            CONTACT: Murray Press Office
    Tuesday, December 17, 2013                                                                                (202) 224-2834
    JBLM: DOL Awards $5.5 Million for Transitioning Servicemembers at JBLM
    Approximately 900 JBLM servicemembers will be aided by grant established under Murray’s veterans jobs legislation
    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) applauded the announcement by the U.S. Department of Labor of a $5,586,385 National Emergency Grant (NEG) to assist approximately 900 transitioning military personnel at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM). The grant, awarded under Senator Murray’s “VOW to Hire Heroes Act” (VOW), will be awarded to the Pacific Mountain Workforce Consortium and operated by the Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council. Of the total award, $2,888,266 will initially be released with further funding up to the approved amount being made available as Washington state demonstrates a need for ongoing assistance. 
    “Today’s news serves as a shining example of what happens when we establish strong partnerships between the public and private sector in order to support our nation’s heroes,” said Senator Murray.  “For too long we’ve been patting our veterans on the back to thank them for their service and sending them out into the job market alone without the basic help they need. I’m grateful for the work being done by JBLM and the Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council to implement the VOW to Hire Heroes Act and provide our men and women in uniform with the tools and resources necessary to not only make it in the workforce, but to succeed.”

    The grant will support separating servicemembers from one year before and up to six months after transitioning from service. With the four current tracks available at JBLM for transitioning servicemembers, the grant will primarily serve those who want to transition directly to employment.
    Approximately 300,000 active duty servicemembers and more than 100,000 National Guardsmen and reservists transition back into to civilian life each year. About 13,000 of those men and women plan to re-enter civilian life in Washington state and over 50% of those 13,000 transition through JBLM.
    The “VOW to Hire Heroes Act” was signed into law by President Obama in 2011. Double-digit unemployment rates for veterans used to be the norm – but since VOW became law, the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans is on par with non-veterans. And while recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics prove that these programs work, VOW aims to continue lowering the rate of unemployment among our nation’s heroes by: 
    ·         Improving the Transition Assistance Program (TAP): The VOW to Hire Heroes Act makes TAP mandatory for most separating servicemembers, upgrades the program’s career and employment counseling services, and tailors TAP for the 21st Century job market.
    ·         Facilitating Seamless Transition:  This law allows servicemembers to begin the federal employment process prior to separation in order to facilitate a truly seamless transition from the military to jobs at VA, Homeland Security, and many other federal agencies in need of our veterans.
    ·         Expanding Education & Training: VOW provides nearly 100,000 unemployed veterans of earlier eras with up to 1-year of additional Montgomery GI Bill benefits to qualify for jobs in high-demand sectors ranging from trucking to technology.  VOW also provides disabled veterans up to 1-year of additional Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Benefits.
    ·         Translating Military Skills and Training:  This law also requires the Department of Labor to take a hard look at how the skills and experiences veterans gain through service can be better translated into a civilian context and to make it easier for qualified veterans to obtain the licenses and certifications they need to launch a range of well-paying, productive civilian careers.  
    ·         Veterans Tax Credits:  The VOW to Hire Heroes Act provides tax incentives of up to $5,600 for hiring veterans, and up to $9,600 for hiring disabled veterans, if the veteran has been looking for work for six months or longer.
    Meghan Roh
    Press Secretary | New Media Director
    Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
    Mobile: (202) 365-1235
    Office: (202) 224-2834

    The e-mail address for this site is


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