Saturday, October 26, 2013

Most violent October in Iraq since 2007

Baghdad today witnessed a rare display of public joy.  National Iraqi News Agency reports "hundreds" gathered downtown "to celebrate the decision of the Federal Court to cancel pensions for MPs."  As may be remembered, millions of Iraqis live in squalor.  Approximately a sixth of the country is officially recognized as below the poverty line -- despite all the oil billions which stream in each month and a population of approximately 30 million people.  Yet members of Parliament have voted themselves obscenely wealthy pension programs.  Cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr was the first national figure to publicly object to these pensions months ago.  This issue was brought into the ongoing protests and was, most recently, the focus of a protest in Baghdad on Thursday.

The glee came in addition -- or in spite of -- ongoing violence. With 5 days left in the month, it's very likely the death toll will reach 1,000 for the month.

Already,  Iraq Body Count counts 874 violent deaths so far this month through yesterday.  The press reports at least 30 deaths and 16 people injured.  So that's over 900 and there will be five days left in the month.  Already, the month's death toll is so great you have to drop back to 2007 to find an October more violent.

National Iraqi News Agency reports a Shirqat car bombing claimed the lives of 1 police officer and 7 of his family members while injuring nine more, a Dujail roadside bombing claimed 2 lives (one was a police officer), a Yathrib roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Sahwa and left two more injured, men in Iraqi military uniforms kidnapped a tribal Sheikh and his companions in Basra, a Ttash roadside bombing left two police officers injured, a home invasion "south of Baghdad" left 1 "commander of Sahwa, his wife and four of his sons, one of his bodyguards" dead, 1 gold shop owner was shot dead in Mosul as he was headed to noon prayer, and a Rifai roadside bombing left 3 police officers dead and two more injured. Alsumaria adds that 1 Sahwa leader and 2 of his sons were shot dead near Samarra, 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Mosul, a Baiji roadside bombing claimed the lives of 3 Iraqi soldiers and left a fourth injured, 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead at a Hermat checkpoint,

Meanwhile, Nouri's had another one of his 'brilliant' ideas.  Traffic is bad in Baghdad -- made worse by checkpoints.  Alsumaria reports that to relieve traffic congestion, the answer is tunnels and they have a photo of a partially underground tunnel.  Yeah, who wouldn't love to be in an underground tunnel when a bomb goes off?  Nouri's 'plan' also comes with another name "instant burial."

In other news, NINA reports independent Kurdish MP Mahmoud  Othman is saying  that the voting law must be passed by November 15h, before Parliament goes on holiday.  Othman makes no mention of his last offering -- the one that predicted the law would already be passed.  All Iraq News notes Kurdish MP Nasrin Anwar says that she does not believe KRG President Massoud Barzani will agree to use the previous election law, as Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi has proposed as an alternative.  All Iraq News also notes Barzani and al-Nujaifi met today.

The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan, Jody Watley, Susan's On the Edge, Pacifica Evening News, Latino USA, and the ACLU -- updated last night and today:

  • The e-mail address for this site is

    I Hate The War

    Sahwa were targeted again today (see next entry).  Al Bawaba observes, "In recent days, Sahwa forces have increasingly come under attack by Islamic militants."  Big surprise. They bring it on themselves.

    In fairness, that should be their leaders bring it on themselves.

    This week the fool was Sheikh Mohammed Al-Hayes.

    Sahwa wants many things.

    Among other things, they'd like money and respect.

    They're not getting any and won't as long as idiots like Al-Hayes are allowed to speak.

    Sahwa are predominately Sunni.

    Sunnis Sahwa fought the US -- attacked US military equipment and the US military.

    Shi'ites opposed to the occupation might have given them some begrudging credit.  But then the US military began paying them not to attack US equipment and troops (that was the billing David Petraeus gave it to Congress in April 2008).

    Who respects that?

    Not Nouri who refused to absorb them or even maintain their payments.

    Now Sahwa leaders like Al-Hayes think they can trash the peaceful Sunnis taking part in protests.

    Who do they think is supporting them at this point?

    Most Shi'ites never trusted them.  Their only real support would be from the Sunni community.  And they ensure that Sunni support is lukewarm at best when they trash the protesters.

    The reason they do it, the reason they trash, is to try to get in good with Nouri.  That's never happening.  The only way Sahwa gets respect and money if from Sunni support.  Sunnis need to want the Sahwa protecting their neighborhoods.

    If they're going to have any purpose in Iraq, it will only come via the support of the Sunni population.  The Kuirds don't need Sahwa (the Kurds have the Peshmerga), Nouri's never wanted Sahwa.  So the smart thing for Sahwa leaders would be to stop trashing Sunni activists immediately.

    It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
    There's a war going on
    So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
    And I'm writing a song about war
    And it goes
    Na na na na na na na
    I hate the war
    Na na na na na na na
    I hate the war
    Na na na na na na na
    I hate the war
    Oh oh oh oh
    -- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

    The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4489.

    The e-mail address for this site is

    Friday, October 25, 2013

    Iraq snapshot

    Friday, October 25, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, the protests continue, Nouri's new fondness for Turkey is questioned, Nouri wants the US to provide drones,  Ayad Allawi's healthy, Jalal's not, the State Dept doesn't understand the law or ethics regarding stolen cultural heritage, and more.

    Protests took place in Iraq today -- they've been taking place non-stop since December 21st.  Yesterday, Rachel Shabi (Guardian) noted the protests:

    All of this worsened in December last year, when forces arrested the bodyguards of the Sunni former finance minister, Rafi al-Issawi, under terrorism laws, prompting mass protests that were brutally dispersed. The violence included an army raid on protesters in Hawija, northern Iraq, in April, killing 50 and injuring many more.

    If you'd like to read Shabi's column in Arabic, Al Mada's translated it here.  Dr. Mohammad Akef Jamal (Gulf News) noted Iraq's civil rights movement this week as well and he noted, "The people’s anger expressed through their demonstrations has to be translated into a decisive resolution in the upcoming elections for new faces that no one doubts their devotion towards Iraq and its well-being."

    Iraqi Spring MC notes protests took place in Baquba, Samarra, Falluja, Mosul, Rawa, and Ramadi.  National Iraqi News Agency reports thousands turned out in Falluja and Ramadi for the Anbar sit-ins and quote Shiekh Mohammed Fayyad declaring, "The citizens participated in the prayers that held in the courtyard northern Ramadi and eastern Fallujah cities , stressing that the goal of this trickle is to send one again a message to the governing in Baghdad that our demonstrations are peaceful and backed by citizens deep conviction."  Al Mada reports organizers distributed forms in Ramadi and Falluja for families of the detained to fill out in the hopes that they can locate their loved one and determine the status.  Many are held without charges.  Many have been thrown in detention centers, jails and prisons for no reason -- they are accused of no crimes but are related to a suspect the police could not find so family members were knowing rounded up even though they were not suspects.  In Samaeea Sheikh Ziad Madhi noted that the protests are not about political parties but our about justice -- first and foremost, a call to release the innocent detainees.  In Baquba Shebab al-Badri echoed the emphasis on detainees and stated they would continue to demand the release of the detainees and continue to call for an end to the raids (mass arrests) that continue to target Sunni communities.  Kitabat reports on Sheikh Ziad Mahdi in Samarra who noted the detainees remain imprisoned and remain a priority of protesters.  The Sheikh noted the demands for the release of the innocent detainees continue because they have not been released so the sit-ins continue. He noted that Nouri al-Maliki is responsible for the continued deterioration of security in Iraq.  Iraqi Spring MC notes there were calls for the United Nations and others to witness what it really taking place in Iraq, calls for an end to Iranian interference in Iraq, Falluja speakers called for an end to injustice and the flowing of blood in the streets, and Nouri al-Maliki was denounced for using militias to stay in power.  Kitabat also reports on Sheikh Humam Kubaisi in Ramadi and how he noted ten months have passed and still the demands are not met.

    The protests have been marked by violence.

    Not on the part of protesters, the violent ones have been the so-called security forces.

    For example,   January 7th, Nouri's forces assaulted four protesters in Mosul,  January 24th,  Nouri's forces sent two protesters (and one reporter) to the hospital,  and March 8th, Nouri's force fired on protesters in Mosul killing three.

    All of that and more appeared to be a trial run for what was coming, the April 23rd massacre of a peaceful sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll rose to 53 dead.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

    Iraq was a brief issue in today's State Dept press briefing by spokesperson Jen Psaki:.  As usual, Al Quds' Said Arikat brought Iraq up.

    QUESTION: Can we go to Iraq?

    MS. PSAKI: Are we – okay. Go ahead. Iraq.

    QUESTION: One of the issues eclipsed by this discussion. Anyway, could you confirm or deny that Iraq has agreed to renegotiate strategic arrangements that they had with you in view of the uptick of the violence that is taking place right now, such as perhaps supplying them with drones, or in fact the U.S. using drones to go after terrorist camps?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not aware of that and I have not heard of that, to be honest.

    QUESTION: Okay.

    MS. PSAKI: We do have an ongoing dialogue with the Government of Iraq to help improve its capacity, and to address and degrade ISIL’s ability. That’s true. Those conversations are of course ongoing. We consider them an essential partner in the fight against al-Qaida in Iraq and that’s why we’re focused on it. But in terms of renegotiation of anything, I’m not aware of that as being planned.

    QUESTION: The reason I am asking that is this is, of course – Prime Minister Maliki is coming to town next week.

    MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

    QUESTION: And Iraqis are saying or claiming that you have assured them to speed up the process, delivery of F-16 fighter jets and also to – they are looking at – they are sort of – they’re looking positively at the idea of the U.S. perhaps using drones in their fight against terrorism. That’s why I’m asking.
    So has there been anything in that realm, and that, in fact, Secretary of State Kerry is involved in this process?

    MS. PSAKI: Again, I know we’re working with the White House and preparing for this trip, but I’m not aware of the specifics on the plans at this point along those lines. But we work with Iraq closely; this is another opportunity to do that, as they visit.

    Good for Said Arikat for bringing up Iraq.  Sad that over and over, in a room full of reporters -- most of them working for US outlets -- Said Arikat is the only one able to ask about Iraq.

    He brought up too major issues.  Let's start with drones.  This morning,  Peg Mackey (Reuters) reports Nouri plans to insist upon the US government supplying him with drones.

    The US is going to arm Nouri with drones?  Is there a more stupid idea on running around DC right now?  As already noted, he's attacked peaceful protesters.  The fifty-plus that died in Hawija were only able to be killed because the US had supplied him with military helicopters.

    Hawija is in Kirkuk Province.  Nouri wanted to attack the protester but needed to get more forces in during the five-day siege of Hawija.  The problem for him was that Kirkuk forces would not let Nouri's SWAT forces enter. Kikruk Governor Najm al-Din Karim discussed this with Shalaw Mohammed (Niqash):

    NIQASH: The incidents in Hawija, where protestors were killed by the Iraqi military, also seems to have seen more Iraqi army forces enter Kirkuk.

    Al-Din Karim: Actually those forces did not come through Kirkuk - they entered Hawija by helicopter. They tried to come through Kirkuk but we prevented them from doing so. I know the Prime Minister disapproved of this – he told me so last time we met.

    53 dead, 8 of them children.  And this is just with helicopters.  What's he going to do the Iraqi people if he has drones?

    On his August visit to the US, Iraq's Minister of Foreign Affairs Hoshyar Zebari made clear the government wanted drones.  Indira A.R. Lakshmanan (Bloomberg News) reported, "The top Iraqi diplomat’s comments are the first time he has publicly raised the possibility of working with the U.S. on anti-terrorist drone strikes, a clandestine program whose use against terror groups in Pakistan has fueled widespread protest and damaged the U.S. alliance there."  At the start of this month,  John Hudson (Foreign Policy) reported that Iraq will not get the US drones that the Iraqi government has been calling for:

    In 2013 alone, Iraq is averaging 68 car bombings a month. The United Nations reports that 5,740 civilians were killed since January, which is almost two times more deaths than recorded in all of 2010.
    Despite the staggering numbers, the U.S. isn't about to open up a new drone war in Iraq. "The use of lethal drones has not been discussed nor is it even under consideration for Iraq," an administration official tells The Cable.

    That should still be the case.  Thamer Hussein, in his wheelchair, went to the Hawija square with his son Mohammed Thamer to participate in the sit-in.    BRussells Tribunal provided his testimony about what ended up happening as Nouri's forces desceneded:

    My son, who stood next to my wheelchair, refused to leave me alone. He told me that he was afraid and that we needed to get out of the area. We tried to leave. My son pushed my wheelchair and all around us, people were falling to the ground.
    Shortly after that, two men dressed in military uniforms approached us. One of them spoke to us in Persian; therefore we didn’t understand what he said. His partner then translated. It was nothing but insults and curses. He then asked me “Handicapped, what do you want?” I did not reply. Finally I said to him, “Kill me, but please spare my son”. My son interrupted me and said, “No, kill me but spare my father”. Again I told him “Please, spare my son. His mother is waiting for him and I am just a tired, disabled man. Kill me, but please leave my son”. The man replied “No, I will kill your son first and then you. This will serve you as a lesson.” He then took my son and killed him right in front of my eyes. He fired bullets into his chest and then fired more rounds. I can’t recall anything after that. I lost consciousness and only woke up in the hospital, where I underwent surgery as my intestines were hanging out of my body as a result of the shot.

    After all of what has happened to me and my little son – my only son, the son who I was waiting for to grow up so he could help me – after all that, I was surprised to hear Ali Ghaidan (Lieutenant General, Commander of all Iraqi Army Ground Forces) saying on television, “We killed terrorists” and displaying a list of names, among them my name: Thamer Hussein Mousa.

    I ask you by the name of God, I appeal to everyone who has a shred of humanity. Is it reasonable to label me a terrorist while I am in this situation, with this arm, and with this paralyzed leg and a blind eye?

    I ask you by the name of God, is it reasonable to label me a terrorist? I appeal to all civil society and human rights organizations, the League of Arab States and the Conference of Islamic States to consider my situation; all alone with my five baby daughters, with no one to support us but God. I was waiting for my son to grow up and he was killed in this horrifying way.

    I hold Obama responsible for this act because he is the one who gave them these weapons. The weapons and aircrafts they used and fired upon us were American weapons. I also hold the United States of America responsible for this criminal act, above all, Obama.

    Nouri does not need drones.  More importantly, the Iraqi people do not need a Nouri armed with drones.

    The second issue Said Arikat raised was the visit itself.   Hurriyet Daily News observed earlier this week,  " Al-Maliki will be visiting Washington next week to meet President Barack Obama. It could be a good starting point for the U.S. to own up its responsibility in the Iraqi saga, and persuade al-Maliki, who needs U.S. support and equipment to end the violence in Iraq, to become more conciliatory towards different groups. If he can compromise, then a stable Iraq would be a good starting point towards a peaceful Middle East. An unraveling Iraq, on the other hand, would easily ignite even more ugly manifestations of sectarian, ethnic and political conflicts in the region, which even the U.S. would not be able keep under control."

    Al Raifdayn reports that Nouri declared in his Wednesday address that what was needed was an international conference in Baghdad.  Yes, provided people brought ideas, it probably would be helpful since Nouri has no ideas himself.  Nouri also declared this week that he (suddenly) wants improved relations with Turkey.  As Sheikh (Dar Addustour) wonders what's changed with Turkey and Iraq?  They're still, for example, providing asylum to Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi -- despite Nouri's railing against that.  Sheikh wonders if this talk of improved relations is just campaign talk as Nouri seeks a third term as prime minister.  FYI, Dar Addustour has retooled their site.  I think we noted that already.  But we've long noted As Sheikh and if you'd like to put a face to his writing, click on the link to his column which prominently features a photo of the columnist.

    Turning to today's violence,  National Iraqi News Agency reports 1 police officer was shot dead in Ramadi, am armed attack in Heet left two school guards wounded, a roadside bombing "south of Baquba" claimed the lives of 1 man and 1 woman, a Rutba suicide bomber took his own life and that of 1 Iraqi soldier and 1 police officer (while leaving two more police members injured), Imam Bara Juma al-Dulaimi was shot dead outside his Ramadi home, a Tikrit suicide tanker bombing claimed the life of the bomber as well as the lives of 2 police officers (four more were injured), a Baiji roadside bombing claimed the lives of 4 Iraqi soldiers, a Dijail car bombing claimed the lives of 2 civilians with a third left injured, and six Almohandiseen bombings left five people injured.  AFP notes 7 dead and eight injured in the Alohandiseen bombing.   Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) adds a Youssifiyah market bombing claimed 5 lives and left fifteen people injured.  Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) adds, "Also in the province [Anbar], one policeman was killed and another was seriously injured when unidentified gunmen attacked a police checkpoint in the central of the city of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, the source added" and a Ministry of Justice employee was shot dead outside his Baghdad home.  Ammar al-Ani (Alsumaria) reports a Baghdad bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left three more injured, a north Baghdad bombing claimed the lives of 4 Iraqi soldiers and left five more injured, and a south Baghdad bombing claimed 2 lives and left three more injured.  Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 841 violent deaths so far this month.

    Yesterday's snapshot included:

    Press TV adds that an "armed assailants shot dead Bashar Abdulqader Najm, a cameraman working for al-Mosuliya television station, in the northern city of Mosul, police officials reported. He is the third journalist to be killed in the city this month."

    Earlier this month, Sami Waheed Karim (Niqash) reported on the targeting of journalists in Mosul:

    Extremists are targeting journalists in the troubled state of Ninawa. After killing the governor’s spokesperson and two TV reporters they distributed fliers saying that any journalist who turned up for work risked death. Locals say a special team of assassins is at work and that security forces know who they are but won’t stop them.  

    It seemed a simple assignment for the reporter and camera man from Iraqi satellite station, Al Sharqiya: they would go down to the crowded markets in central Mosul and film the shoppers in action before the upcoming Eid Al-Adha holiday. But while Mohammed Ghanem and Mohammed Karim were in the Sarjakhana neighbourhood, they were gunned down by a group of men armed with pistols with silencers. Their attackers appeared suddenly, let off a hail of bullets and then disappeared into the crowded streets.

    A witness, a woman in her 50s, complained about how local police had reacted to the scene. She said she saw one of the victims moving his hand and saying something but police only stood and watched, she recalled, “as the young man’s blood ran out of him”.

    “The state of Ninawa – with Mosul – as its centre is witnessing a collapse in security,” says a local police officer who only wanted to be known as A. Mohammed. There are an estimated 50,000 military and security staff deployed throughout the province and there are checkpoints in all Mosul’s major streets.

    “But we’re not able to protect ourselves,” the officer explained. “how are we supposed to protect the public?”

    About 3,500 of those security staff quit their jobs over the past few days, MP Faris al-Sanjari, a member of the Sunni Muslim-dominated Iraqiya bloc, the major opposition in Iraq’s federal parliament, told NIQASH. “They left their jobs after they received threats from militants and because they’ve seen dozes of their colleagues killed and the homes of other colleagues bombed.”

    Journalists like Karim and Ghanem have also been targeted, al-Sanjari said. And not just while they’ve been working but also in their own homes: al-Sanjari was referring to the murder of a presenter for local TV station, Sama Al Mosul, who was gunned down at home in front of his wife and child.

    Most recently locals say they’ve seen fliers in their neighbourhoods which threaten journalists and media workers with death if they continue their jobs. Anyone reporting to work risked death, the fliers said.

    Ayad Allawi is the leader of the political slate Iraqiya (they won the 2010 elections).  He Tweeted the following yesterday.

  • اتوجه بالشكر الجزيل لكل من تفضل بسؤاله عن صحتنا بعد إتمام إجراء العملية بتمام والحمد لله.
  • Had a successful operation and would like to thank you all for your kind wishes and support.

  • We ignored the two stories in Iraqi media about his supposedly being very ill.  They didn't appear to be based on facts and seemed more rooted in his enemies desires.  We'll note the above and note that he is raising the issue of his health and doing so while another Iraqi leader hides his health.

    Yes, we're talking about Jalal Talabani.  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.

    NINA reports that Nouri met with Jalal's advisor Abfdul Lateef Jamal Rasheed today and that the man insisted to Nouri  "that President Talabani's health is improving."  Yeah, they've been saying that for months now.  It's time for Jalal to be excused from office.  He's failed the Iraqi people in many ways for many years.  But right now, he fails them by being in Germany for almost 11 months.  That's not how you operate as president of Iraq.

    Jalal can't speak and isn't cognitive or coherent.  That's what people are saying.

    So why is he still president?

    As we were saying earlier this week, 'independent' MP Mahmoud Othman does not speak for the Kurdish political blocs.  That's why we didn't take seriously his claim that, as soon as Eid al-Adha was over, the Kurds would drop their objections to the proposed elections bill which Parliament would then pass an election law.  Eid's over.  Where's the passage of the law?

    Today NINA reports that MP Aref "Tayfur said the Kurdistan Alliance believes that the new election law bring great prejudice and unfairness response for Kurds in comparison with other provinces, in terms of the number of votes and seats."  All Iraq News reports that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi plans to visit the KRG to meet with KRG President Massoud Barzani to discuss the proposed election law." Mustafa Habib (Niqash) offers an analysis which includes:

    Iraq’s elected representatives have been talking about the same topic for weeks now: the laws that will govern next year’s parliamentary elections. These are scheduled to be held in April 2014.

    The debate about the law regarding next year’s election is a complicated one that will decide on exactly what kind of system of representation the country uses. There are various different models used in different democracies around the world and currently Iraq is trying to decide which one it wants. This year, the results of the provincial elections were newly governed by a mathematical formula called the Sainte-Laguë formula. This system stops larger parties from gobbling up the votes smaller parties have won, if the smaller parties haven’t won enough votes to pass a certain threshold.

    Obviously it is important to decide which system is going to be used in Iraq’s 2014 elections and apparently a deadline – Oct. 30 - has been set for the debate to end and the new system to be legally adopted. Currently though, the debate continues in Baghdad and some have even suggested that if the political parties legislation isn’t renovated in time, that the current prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki may use the delay as an excuse to postpone the elections.

    However while MPs are debating this law, several other very important laws continue to languish in a legislative no man’s land. And now, if elections do go ahead on time, they may never be voted on, debated or passed – because Parliament has only six months to finish its current business.   

    “Parliament has been busy discussing the 2014 electoral law for weeks,” says Bahaa al-Araji, a leading member of the Sadrist bloc. “And now time is running out [for these other laws]. We only have a few months before this session of parliament ends and that might not be enough to get through these laws, which have been suspended for months already.”

    Turning to the US and the issue of cultural ownership.  A trove was discovered in Iraq and imported to the US to be restored.  The US National Archives explains:

    On May 6, 2003, just days after the Coalition forces took over Baghdad, 16 American soldiers from Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha, a group assigned to search for nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, entered Saddam Hussein’s flooded intelligence building. In the basement, under four feet of water, they found thousands of books and documents relating to the Jewish community of Iraq – materials that had belonged to synagogues and Jewish organizations in Baghdad.
    The water-logged materials quickly became moldy in Baghdad’s intense heat and humidity. Seeking guidance, the Coalition Provisional Authority placed an urgent call to the nation’s foremost conservation experts at the National Archives. Just a week later, National Archives Director of Preservation Programs Doris Hamburg and Conservation Chief Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler arrived in Baghdad via military transport to assess the damage and make recommendations for preservation of the materials. Both experts share this extraordinary story and take you “behind the scenes” in this brief video []. This video is in the public domain and not subject to any copyright restrictions. The National Archives encourages its use and free distribution.
    Given limited treatment options in Baghdad, and with the agreement of Iraqi representatives, the materials were shipped to the United States for preservation and exhibition. Since then, these materials have been vacuum freeze-dried, preserved and photographed under the direction of the National Archives. The collection includes more than 2,700 Jewish books and tens of thousands of documents in Hebrew, Arabic, Judeo-Arabic and English, dating from 1540 to the 1970s. A special website to launch this fall will make these historic materials freely available to all online as they are digitized and catalogued. This work was made possible through the assistance of the Department of State, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Center for Jewish History.
    The Jews of Iraq have a rich past, extending back to Babylonia. These materials provide a tangible link to this community that flourished there, but in the second half of the twentieth century dispersed throughout the world. Today, fewer than five Jews remain. 

    As noted Wednesday, Senator Chuck Schumer is calling for the archives not to be shipped back to Iraq but handed over to their rightful owners, the Jewish community.  Dan Friedman (New York Daily News) reported:

      Schumer Wednesday urged the State Department “to do everything in their power to ensure that these treasured artifacts remain available and accessible to Jews worldwide.”
    In a letter Wednesday to Secretary of State John Kerry, Schumer urged the department to work with Jewish groups in the United States and abroad to find another home for the documents.
    "Since the exile of Jews from Iraq, virtually no Jewish life remains in the country,” Schumer wrote. “This treasured collection belongs to the Jewish community and should be made available to them."

    Schumer is not alone.  US House Rep Ilena Ros-Lehtinen's office issued the following statement:

    “It’s imperative that we preserve the history of the Jewish community of Iraq so that future generations will always remember their ancestors’ experiences and historical contributions”
    (WASHINGTON) – Today, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a senior member of the Florida congressional delegation, co-authored a letter, along with U.S. Rep. Steve Israel, urging Secretary of State John Kerry to return historic communal and religious items currently on display at the National Archives to the Iraqi Jewish community and their descendants, and not the government of Iraq. These artifacts, discovered in a decrepit state by U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq in 2003, were rescued and brought to the United States for repair and preservation.  Next spring, these items are scheduled to be sent back to Iraq but Ros-Lehtinen and Israel are asking that they be returned to their rightful inheritors.
    Statement by Ros-Lehtinen: “I’m pleased to join my colleague Steve in urging Secretary Kerry and the State Department to return these ancient Jewish artifacts to their rightful owners. The Iraqi government has absolutely no right or legitimate claim to these artifacts. These communal, religious and personal items were left behind in a temple in Baghdad to be safeguarded as the vast majority of Jews were forced to flee Iraq due to rampant persecution, harassment and anti-Semitic hatred, only to see them stolen by Saddam Hussein and his thugs. Once thought to be lost and gone forever, we now have a remarkable opportunity to restore a piece of an ancient Jewish community’s collective memory. It’s imperative that we preserve the history of the Jewish community of Iraq so that future generations will always remember their ancestors’ experiences and historical contributions. It would be criminal for the U.S. government to be complicit in denying the Jewish community what is rightfully theirs.”
    Statement by Israel: “I am grateful that these artifacts, which represent the rich and vibrant Jewish community that once existed in Iraq, have been restored. However, I do not believe that we should send these treasures back to the Iraqi Government. That’s why I’m working with my colleague Rep. Ros-Lehtinen to urge the U.S. Government to facilitate a process by which we can return the artifacts to their rightful owners or their owners’ descendants.”
    ####### notes, "The State Department plans to return the archive to the Iraqi government, in line with a written agreement between the two parties."  A written agreement regarding the return of property is not binding when it's discovered that the property in question was stolen.  The Iraqi government had no legal rights to the property and committed fraud by signing the agreement.  Fraud can be prosecuted.  The agreement has no legal standing.  But the State Dept is insisting it will be followed.  The Jewish Week reports today:

      In response to Schumer’s letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, a State Department spokesman, Pooja Jhunjhunwala, told The Jewish Week in an e-mail that the Department would abide by its August 2003 agreement with Iraq.
    “We are committed to returning the material to Iraq following the completion of the preservation project and the exhibition of the material in the United States,” he wrote. “Much of the project has now been completed by the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA), and NARA has announced that the material is being readied for exhibition in Washington at the National Archives.”

    We'll close in the US with this from Ms.:

    WEEKLY ROUND UP | October 25, 2013Catch up on what you missed, and check in throughout the last week to get our bloggers' latest takes on news and culture.


    A Feminist Guide to Horror Movies, Part 4
    Love them or hate them–and the ongoing success of these franchises tells us that a lot of people love them–horror movies provide a window into our culture’s deepest fears, drawing from a well of shared anxieties created by both domestic and geopolitical threats. Reboots tell us a lot about what audiences feared then and what they fear now...Read More

    The Feminist Pull of “Gravity”
    All too often, movies that make audiences’ hearts race or adrenaline rush feature only male leads and incorporate violence-packed action. Gravity, however, proves that a woman can anchor an action-packed blockbuster that does not have to include violence, superheroes, weapons and/or huge death tolls...Read More

    steppingStomp the Runway: The Choreographer Behind Rick Owens’ Astonishing Fashion Show
    When the lights darkened and the chattering of the audience ceased at the recent Rick Owens fashion preview in Paris, many of the seasoned fashionistas and reporters probably expected a frail-looking army of willowy 19-year-olds to come gliding down the runway. Instead, what they got were loud, stomping, thizz-facing steppers...Read More


    Detroit: The Road to Bankruptcy Hits Women Hard
    Years of political corruption, corporate welfare, apathy, outsourcing, downsizing and relocating finally reached a boiling point, and the city filed for bankruptcy in July. Residents fed up with high taxes, lack of services and deplorable schools abandoned the city for the suburbs, leaving behind a city in ruins. It’s about to get worse...Read More


    Think Before You Pink: Toxic Time Is Up
    Do you have any idea how many toxic chemicals are in the average pink-ribbon product? Nope? Neither do we. Nor does anyone! All anyone knows for certain is that only a small handful—about 200 of the more than 80,000 chemicals in use in the United States—have been tested for human safety. And that’s a serious problem for all of us...Read More
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    Nouri plans to ask for drones

    November 1st, US President Barack Obama is scheduled to host Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's thug and Prime Minister, at the White House.  Peg Mackey (Reuters) reports Nouri plans to insist upon the US government supplying him with drones.

    Mackey and Reuters are real good at superficial in the 'report.'  They play the 'bad' Sunni card.  They just don't note how Nouri responds to freedom of speech and how he uses US military hardware.

    April 23rd was the massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll eventually (as some wounded died) rose to 53 dead.   UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

    He is now arming militias.  Guess what, Reuters?

    Not only is that news, that's supposed to kill all US aid to Iraq.

    Next time you want to provide context, try providing the law.

    This is a shameless attempt by Reuters to whore for Nouri.

    National Iraqi News Agency reports 1 police officer was shot dead in Ramadi, am armed attack in Heet left two school guards wounded, a roadside bombing "south of Baquba" claimed the lives of 1 man and 1 woman, and six Almohandiseen bombings left five people injured.  AFP notes 7 dead and eight injured in the Alohandiseen bombing.   Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) adds a Youssifiyah market bombing claimed 5 lives and left fifteen people injured.

    The following community sites -- plus Susan's On The Edge, NPR,  Jody Watley,, Pacifica Evening News, and Ms. magazine's blog -- updated last night and this morning:

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