Saturday, December 14, 2013

Oh, so sometimes security wearing security uniforms in Iraq are criminals

Hey, remember how men in police uniforms or military uniforms commit kidnappings and murders in Iraq?  And how outlets like AFP always rush in to insist that these weren't security forces?  Despite the long record of abuse at the Ministry of the Interior?

Iraq Times reports that the security committee of Basra's Provincial Council announced today that 11 people had been arrested for kidnapping, extortion and armed robbery.

The 11 accused?

1's a police officer (lieutenant colonel)  the others are security forces working for the Ministry of the Interior or intelligence agency.

They are accused of robbing homes and businesses -- sometimes in uniform -- and of going to homes and carrying out kidnappings while in uniforms and pretending they have arrest warrants.

I'm searching in vain for Reuters, AP or AFP picking up on this story.

They're damn happy to counter eye witness testimony of police and soldiers carrying out crimes by running with 'Police sources say these were al Qaeda wearing fake uniforms . . .'

You would assume having pimped the line over and over, they'd be curious about what the Basra Provincial Council announced.

Iraq Body Count counts 49 deaths yesterday with 419 killed for the month so far (through the 13th).


National Iraqi News Agency reports 1 person was shot dead outside his Abi Saida home, 1 person was shot dead in Akbashi, a Ramadi attack left 1 police officer dead and another injured, a Hilla sticky bombing left 1 person dead, 1 person was shot dead in al-Jideedah, a Mansour roadside bombing left three police officers injured, 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Mosul, 1 construction worker was shot dead in Mosul, Iraqi soldiers shot dead 2 suspects in Mosul, 3 suspects were shot dead in Falluja, and "Six people killed and fourteen others injured when a car bomb parked near a Husseini Funeral procession went off in al-Risalah neighborhood southwest of Baghdad."

All Iraq News reports cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr decrying Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's backing of militias:

Sadr said answering a the statement of the Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, in Basra in which he warned from returning militias saying that ''The time of outlaws gangs has been gone and we should provide protection for Iraqis since everyone should subject to law and constitution.''''If the Government do not want the militias to back, it should quit supporting them officially and should not establish new militias to support the sectarian and its affiliated government,'' he added.

And that's going to be it, I'm tired and we're about to start working on Third.  The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley, The New Statesman, Latino USA, the ACLU, the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Pacifica Evening News, Cindy Sheehan and the Guardian -- have updated since yesterdays snapshot went up:


    The e-mail address for this site is



    I Hate The War

    Since its unveiling this spring, the Lean In campaign has been reeling in a steadily expanding group of tens of thousands of followers with its tripartite E-Z plan for getting to the top. But the real foundation of the movement is, of course, Sheryl Sandberg’s bestselling book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, billed modestly by its author as “sort of a feminist manifesto.” Sandberg’s mantra has become the feminist rallying cry of the moment, praised by notable figures such as Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, Marlo Thomas, and Nation columnist Katha Pollitt. A Time magazine cover story hails Sandberg for “embarking on the most ambitious mission to reboot feminism and reframe discussions of gender since the launch of Ms. magazine in 1971.” Pretty good for somebody who, “as of two and a half years ago,” as Sandberg confessed on her book tour, “had never said the word woman aloud. Because that’s not how you get ahead in the world.”

    That's from Susan Faludi's "Facebook Feminism, Like It or Not" (The Baffler).  This is from Rashida Jones' "Why Is Everyone Getting Naked? Rashida Jones on the Pornification of Everything" (Glamour):

    If 1994 was the Year of O.J.'s White Bronco, 2013 was the Year of the Very Visible Vagina.
    Let me say up front: I am not a prude. I love sex; I am comfortable with my sexuality. Hell, I've even posed in my underwear. I also grew up on a healthy balance of sexuality in pop stars. Yes, we had Madonna testing the boundaries of appropriateness, but then we also had Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Cyndi Lauper, women who played with sexuality but didn't make it their calling card. And for every 2 Live Crew "Me So Horny" video girl, there was Susanna Hoffs singing tenderly about her eternal flame.
    Twenty years later, all the images seem homogenous. Every star interprets "sexy" the same way: lots of skin, lots of licking of teeth, lots of bending over. I find this oddly...boring. Can't I just like a song without having to take an ultrasound tour of some pop star's privates?
    On that fall day I wanted to know if anyone else felt like me. So I took to Twitter. (Admittedly, not the best place to go while frustrated. Because, as my best friend puts it, Twitter is a bad neighborhood. If you go there to score, you will be surrounded by people looking to pick a fight. They may also rob you. And carjack you. And call you names. He was right.) Here's what I tweeted:
    This week's celeb news takeaway: She who comes closest to showing the actual inside of her vagina is most popular. #stopactinglikewhores
    And then: Let me clarify. I don't shame ANYone for anything they choose to do with their lives or bodies...

    And then: BUT I think we ALL need to take a look at what we are accepting as "the norm"...

    And this is from Geena Davis' "Two Easy Steps To Make Hollywood Less Sexist (Guest Column)" (Hollywood Reporter):

    Now, let me just say, I take everything too far. (You should see my kids' birthday cakes.) But having comprehensive data on how female characters are depicted in Hollywood has proved to be extremely valuable. Obviously, because I'm a colleague, I can go directly to content creators and decision makers and share what we found. (The research was conducted by Dr. Stacy Smith at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.)
    The basics are that for every one female-speaking character in family-rated films (G, PG and PG-13), there are roughly three male characters; that crowd and group scenes in these films — live-action and animated — contain only 17 percent female characters; and that the ratio of male-female characters has been exactly the same since 1946. Throw in the hypersexualization of many of the female characters that are there, even in G-rated movies, and their lack of occupations and aspirations and you get the picture.
    It wasn't the lack of female lead characters that first struck me about family films. We all know that's been the case for ages, and we love when movies like The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Frozen hit it big. It was the dearth of female characters in the worlds of the stories — the fact that the fictitious villages and jungles and kingdoms and interplanetary civilizations were nearly bereft of female population — that hit me over the head. This being the case, we are in effect enculturating kids from the very beginning to see women and girls as not taking up half of the space. Couldn't it be that the percentage of women in leadership positions in many areas of society — Congress, law partners, Fortune 500 board members, military officers, tenured professors and many more — stall out at around 17 percent because that's the ratio we've come to see as the norm?

    I think those are three of the most *important* non-Iraq and non-spying pieces of journalism of late.

    I think that and yet I've not highlighted them before.  I have tried to work them in but there's not been time or space and I'm seriously trying to reduce the length of the snapshots.

    Susan's piece?  Brava writing.  Lean Forward is not about equality, it's a bunch of crap and shame on Jane and Gloria and Marlo for pimping that crap.  They're so out of touch with feminism and reality that it's frightening.  Thank you, Susan, for that important article.

    Rashida?  Again, she's doing the work.  Gloria's not doing it.  Jane's not doing it.  Marlo's not doing it.  (In fairness to Marlo, her feminism has always been more workshop than public.  I don't mean that as an insult and I love her acting and credit her with moving women forward in entertainment portrayals.  But Marlo's feminist work is face-to-face, in small groups.  It largely always has been.)

    The pornification needs to be questioned but we can't even get it commented on.  Jane and Gloria run Women's Media Center -- largely a useless outlet -- and Jane's work in Atlanta with young girls should demand that she raise the questions Rashida's raising because clearly the sexualization of everything impacts teen pregnancy rates.

    It also demoralizes us all -- young girls, women, boys, men.

    I have nothing against sex -- and more and more use it to avoid dictating a snapshot or writing an entry -- and I have nothing against sexy.  Just this week, a friend (producer) was attempting to create a list for a role of an over-40 male and I suggested they bring in Kevin Spirtas to read along with four others (the four others are names so I won't mention them here, Kevin should be one so I'll mention him here).  The friend pointed out that all five of the men I named reads sexy and I said that's what's needed for the role and that sexy never hurts.

    Stan did a post on actors that have emerged in the last 20 or so years "Actors" and I was returning a call about another issue when he asked if I'd seen it.  I hadn't.  I called him back as soon as the plane landed.  It's a great piece he's written and the first thing I pointed out was that, as film actors, every man on his list projects sexy and you usually have to if you're going to have any kind of a career.  (At least early on.  Many actors go sex-neutral -- some even appear neutered -- within five years of achieving fame.  Consider, for example, Gary Cooper's first five years in film and the later sex-less portrayals he offered.)

    I have nothing against Miley other than her name.  It's not her fault, it's mine.  I have to check myself because I forever naturally refer to her as "Miley Ray Cyrus."  There is no "Ray" -- I have no idea why I keep adding her father's middle name (Billy Ray Cyrus) to her name.  Maybe she sees herself in the vanguard on sexual exploration in art?  If so, please pick up the lyrics because they're not living up to the heat you appear trying to generate.  (I also keep expecting her to do a Basic Instinct type music video since her short hair makes her look even more like Sharon Stone from some angles.)

    Rashida's not 'picking on Miley' or slamming people for being sexy.  She's talking about culture where every thing is being turned into 'sexy' and it's one person's idea of sexy -- where women are objects.

    Rashida's right to call out what she's calling out and she needs support and backing on it.  Especially since she's the one starting the conversation when there are other outlets who should have been leading the way this year.  (Praise goes to Glamour also because they ran the article.)

    Geena Davis is doing serious work and the portrayals of women and girls in children's movies can create expectations or limitations that last a lifetime.  Geena's work needs to be noted.

    And I say all of that to respond to the Many Whiners e-mailing the public e-mail account about what I didn't note this past week.

    One writer, whose writing I did not note, is so ticked off because I "only note the things you're interested in.  My writing is very important."

    Is it important?

    I don't know that it is, I don't know that it isn't.  I do know you've gotten noted here many times over the years.  I do know you never say thank you for that.  I do know you take things I report on here -- from Congressional hearings I attend -- and work them into your "very important" writing without ever giving me credit or attribution.

    So right there, you might want to check yourself before hurling accusations of how I've let your "very important" writing down.

    The accusation that I'm writing about what I want to write about?

    The community wants Iraq.  We have always covered Iraq but, as all the US press walked away from it (thank you to a friend for a very funny TV critique of that this week), fled from it, the community -- which uses the private e-mail, not the public e-mail account -- has asked that we up our Iraq content.  That's why the Iraq snapshot emerged in 2006.

    And originally, it was part of an entry.  Different topics would be covered and it would have a different headline and then, within that entry, we'd move to the "Iraq snapshot."

    Now it's its own entry.

    And if there's an attack on the US press or a spying revelation or something I feel like no one on the left wants to tackle, we'll include that in addition to Iraq.

    But Iraq is our focus.

    That stems from the desires of the community.

    On a slow day, there are probably just 50 writers wanting their writing noted.

    And I'm not counting the man who has e-mailed for years about how he's being tortured and the government's after him and the psychiatric industry and . . .

    A) I don't believe him.  B) I don't have time for him.  I wish people like that would stop e-mailing asking for their writing to be noted.

    But I'm not counting them in the minimum of 50 a day.

    Those who e-mail to note Iraq coverage?  They get noted.

    We used to get an e-mail from the Los Angeles Times.  They would note all their Iraq coverage.  That's when they had Iraq coverage.  It was a good way to get the word out on their reporting.  And it certainly fit in with our scope.

    I will also allow, in our scope, pieces on other topics by reporters who covered Iraq in the past but are writing about something different now.  (Exception being an article that might promote war.  I'm not interested in helping anyone bring more violence, for example, to Syria.)

    But most of the stuff we get sent has nothing to do with Iraq and isn't written by people who covered Iraq.

    I understand people need links.  Not only does it help with 'hits' and 'clicks' but, most importantly, it helps get your name (reporter and/or outlet) out there.

    And I know, for example, that the Washington Post (this may change with new ownership) has spent the last four years placing far less emphasis on awards for solid journalism and more for clicks.  Win a Pulitzer and the Post's position has been, "That's nice."  Get the most clicks in a week and it's, "Let's talk about bumping your salary" or "Let's talk about a bonus."  The paper has rewarded some of the crappiest writing and some of the crappiest writers while ignoring the journalist who are winning awards for actual reporting.

    I get that it's about visibility, name recognition, careers and coin.

    I get that.

    But, for the record, I don't owe any of you anything.

    You show up begging -- like the one who always writes, "I'm on a deadline, what ___ in Iraq when?" and Martha or Shirley will call me up to tell me you've written again wanting to pick my brain yet again.  I'm not your research assistant.  I don't work for you.  We don't know each other so we can't be friends.

    You show up begging for links and why should I link to you if you're not about Iraq?

    And every time one of you accuses me of just writing about what I want to write about -- a hilariously wrong charge -- it just makes me want to work all of you in even less.

    One corporate reporter wrote to complain about "Sy Hersh's hidden blockbuster?" because it noted Seymour Hersh's   "Whose Sarin?" (London Review of Books) and how I didn't note his own reporting.  "If you had time for [Hersh], you had time for . . ."

    Hersh did investigative reporting, on a topic we take seriously, the government's efforts to sell war on Syria.  You did government stenography.

    There's a difference.

    There's a difference.

    And he also, corporate reporter, slammed my single sentence paragraphs ("Do you think your Faulkner?") saying that they take up space and prevent me from including links to his own work.

    The reason I waited (see the sarin entry) so long to read Hersh's article?  I kept picking it and putting it back down.  The text overwhelmed me.

    Ideally, here, we should have a mixture of long and short paragraphs.

    But I am doing single sentences more often ("----- now make this a different paragraph") when I'm dictating the snapshot (and then I stupidly forget to do the same on most of the entries I type up myself) because I'm trying to break it up so it's not these blocks of lengthy text over and over.

    But what I want to say to you mainly is: You're spending far too much time thinking about me.


    There are two reporters I do not know that I've responded to in e-mails over the years.  One was leaving Iraq and I noted that I was very happy that the person had been safe while covering Iraq.  The other was something similar.  In both instances, the reporter received one e-mail from me and that was it.

    I go out of my way to avoid doing that because if I'm engaging in a private conversation, it can influence what's going up here.  If I'm trying to be pen pals with ___ and I'm critiquing his/her coverage, it can make me go easy on them.  (Although I go hardest on people I actually know.  And those I actually know, who can pick up the phone and call me, would agree.) I have enough conflicts of interest without adding new ones.

    So this is the only reply those of you who are reporters are going to get.


    I'm going to share a story.  It's not mine to share.  It's Mike's and it's Elaine's.

    Mike called out a writer at his site -- not a surprise, Mike offers media criticism all the time.  The writer came whining, of course, in an e-mail.

    He wanted Mike to change what he wrote and to issue an apology.

    Mike replied "Kiss my ass" -- but in stronger terms and more words -- and then the writer wanted to get nice.  Pretty please change it.  

    Mike's remarks were correct.  And, as Elaine and I pointed out, the man's claims were refuted by his own actions -- I'm sorry to be vague, it's not my story to tell.  I'm sure Mike will tell it at some point.  

    Mike e-mailed the guy noting that the guy was lying, he could prove the guy was lying.  But --

    But Iraq matters to him (Mike) so if  the guy would work in Tim Arango's New York Times report of:

    Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.        

    If he'd work that into a column, Mike would issue an apology and change the entry -- even though Mike was right in what he said and, as Elaine and I pointed out, the fact that the guy was responding first thing in the morning to a post Mike had put up four hours earlier indicated the guy was Googling himself.  (More likely has a Google alert set for when his name is mentioned.)

    The guy wanted an apology and Mike was willing to offer it if Arango's report could get noted.  Didn't have to be a piece on it.  The guy's been writing about how we lie to ourselves.  Arango's report -- the non-response to it -- is a clear example of that.  ('You've been writing about how we lie to ourselves!'  Yes, I have.  One of Mike's criticisms of the writer was how the writer constantly rips me off.  I am the uncredited inspiration for so much copy -- so much bad copy.)

    Just a sentence or two.

    And though the man claimed he cared about Iraq, claimed he cared about the truth, his response to Mike was that he couldn't make that kind of deal.

    At which point, Mike had no more use for the man and ceased communication with the man.

    The man agrees that we're being lied to about Iraq, agrees people should know about Arango's report, writes columns regularly.  But can't work in a single sentence about Arango's report?  While asking Mike to apologize -- to apologize for telling the truth?

    What a whore.

    He starts by unethically attempting to blackmail and intimidate Mike with fake threats of a lawsuit (Mike hasn't updated his Blogger profile since he started his site in 2005 but he is an attorney now and he does know what is actionable and what isn't), he demanded an apology when Mike had written the truth, he wanted Mike to go in and change the post he wrote and all of this was to be done without Mike ever noting the columnist had written him.

    That's not really journalism ethics.

    What Mike was proposing was much more ethical.  He was willing to say he was wrong -- when he knew he was right -- if the man would just highlight Iraq -- even if just in a single sentence.

    That, Mike's request/offer, was unethical, according to the whore.

    But what can you expect from a writer who takes my sentences, changes a verb and works them in as his own thoughts?

    Again, what a whore.

    This week, every day, we covered Iraq.  In addition, I reported on three Congressional hearings I attended.
    Thursday's "Iraq snapshot" was pretty much all about the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.  And a TV journalist notes that if I hadn't "spent way too much time" on that hearing, I would've been able to include a link to their work.

    Did you ever think that maybe your work wasn't all that good or important?

    This entry's ending now.  Because I've responded to everyone complaining about their work not being highlighted?

    No, because I'm sick of typing and sick of being in front of the laptop (and still have another entry to do).  And, honestly, sometimes that's why your work doesn't get included.  I'm just sick of being on the computer.

    Hopefully, that explains to those of you complaining why you didn't get your highlights this past week.

    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.

    [12-15-2013 note: "*important*" added after this originally posted.]

    The e-mail address for this site is

    Friday, December 13, 2013

    Iraq snapshot

    Friday, December 13, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Sahwa becomes more of a public menace, State of Law says they will only support one person to be prime minister (guess who), US Secretary of State John Kerry insists to Congress that the location of 7 Ashraf community members is classified, the stolen Jewish archives get some attention, and more.

    As Stacy Lattisaw observed in "Love on a Two Way Street" (written by Sylvia Robinson and Bert Keyes):

    How could I be so blind
    To give up love the very first time
    To be fooled is a hurting thing 
    To be loved and fooled
    Is a darn shame

    Poor College Democrats, it's such a darn shame to be made such a fool of.

    Anticipating their post collegiate years and a lifetime of whoring, College Democrats serves up a ridiculous column in the Badger Herald which includes:

    Just more than four years ago, Americans saw no end to the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Thousands of troops remained abroad, although former President George W. Bush had already declared, "Mission Accomplished." In the last four years, President Barack Obama has solidified his role on the international stage as hard on terror, while maintaining a more logical and diplomatic approach.[. . .]. During the Obama administration, we saw the historic end to the decade-long war in Iraq that took the lives of many American troops.

    It's a darn shame.

    First, Bully Boy Bush did not "declare" mission accomplished.  It was on a sign (that the White House prepared and ordered hung behind him for the cameras).  Second, that had nothing to do with Afghanistan.  Barack has not maintained "a more logical and diplomatic approach" (his many murders with The Drone War alone disprove that claim).  Third, what "historic end to the decade-long war in Iraq"?

    David King (Akron Beacon Journal) observes today:

    Here's a typical Obama quote on the subject from November 1st, 2012:
    "...the war in Iraq is over, the war in Afghanistan is winding down, Al Qaeda is decimated, Osama Bin Laden is dead".
    Not quite so, Mr. Obama.
    The Iraq War is not over. We are just no longer involved in it. It rages on.
    And Al Qaeda is not decimated either. Far from it:
    Ten years after the capture of Saddam Hussein, Iraq is at risk of becoming a failed state again as al-Qaeda reclaims vast swathes of the country.

    Friday’s anniversary of the Iraqi dictator's arrest sees the country still struggling with his legacy, with al-Qaeda launching a fresh campaign of terrorist atrocities from new territory carved out in western and northern Iraq.

    The Iraq War has not ended for the Iraqi people.  How sad that College Democrats elected to be so xenophobic and self-centered.  When I was in college, fair or unfair, we expected that sort of behavior from Republicans.  We weren't xenophobic jingoists.

    To be fooled is a hurting thing 
    To be loved and fooled
    Is a darn shame

    And, we were also literate.  College Democrats don't know how to read these days?

    Not only does the illegal war continue in Iraq but it does so with US forces.  That 2011 'withdrawal' (drawdown)?  It was followed in the fall of 2012 by what?   note Tim Arango (New York Times) reported in Septmeber 2012 (a year after the 'withdrawal'):

    Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.        

    So quick to offer whorish talking points, so slow to recognize facts.

    Sad, sad College Democrats.

    To be fooled is a hurting thing 
    To be loved and fooled
    Is a darn shame

    It is a darn shame.

    But it's also so much worse if you're an Iraqi living in the continued violence of the continued war.

    EFE reports, "Eighteen men - 15 of them Iranian - were slain Friday by an armed group while they were working on a gas pipeline that runs from Iranian territory to a power plant in eastern Iraq, a source in the Iraqi security forces told Efe."  CNN adds, "Gunman ambushed the workers with small arms fire, authorities said."  Reuters quotes worker Ibrahem Aziz who as injured in the attack, "Three of them got out of a car and started firing on the workers inside and outside the trench."  Aziz was one of seven workers injured in the attack.  BBC News notes five of the injured were Iranians and two were Iraqis.

    But don't worry, College Democrats didn't shed a tear, they were not troubled, they were too busy living in Bliss in the state of Ignorance.

    NINA notes an armed attack in Ramadi left 1 police officer dead and another injured, 2 people were shot dead in the al-Shulah section of Baghdad, a Baghdad car bombing claimed 2 lives and left twelve injuted, and a Ramadi car bombing claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers and 1 police officer with ten more people left injured.  All Iraq News notes 1 police officer was shot dead in Beji and 1 corpse was discovered in the streets of Tikrit (shot in head and chest, hand cuffed). Alsumaria adds that today 2 corpses were discovered in the streets of Aldiom (the two were security officers for the province) and a Baghdad home invasion last night left 1 woman dead.

    Yet more violence today?  Another prison escape took place.  National Iraqi News Agency explains, "Conflicting stories about the number of escapees from the prison of al-Adalah of the Federal Police in Kazimiyah area at dawn today."  AFP says 22 escaped -- "most were later recaptured" -- and two guards were killed.  Reuers says the Ministry of Interior spokesperson is declaring that all but 3 of 22 escapees have been caught; however, "three police sources told Reuters at least 14" remained on the lam with eleven recaptured and that 1 prisoner and 1 police officer were killed in the prison break.  All Iraq News notes their police source states 30 escaped originally.   Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count notes 370 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month.

    The prison break today?  All Iraq News notes the Ministry of Justice made a point to issue a statement declaring that they don't run the prison, "The escapees escaped from the intelligent department of the Eighth Brigade of the Federal Police where Adala prison is under the custody of the Ministry of Interior and the MoJ has no relation to it."  For those not grasping the point, Nouri al-Maliki is over the Ministry of the Interior.

    Back in July, 2012, 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."   He never has and he won't.  If elections are held at the end of April, Nouri's not going to rush, in the final moments of his second term, to finally nominate people to head those three posts.  This should be a huge issue in the election -- not just that this was a power grab, although it was -- but mainly that while the security situation worsened each year of Nouri's second term, he failed to nominate people to head the security ministries.

    We're in politic now, so let's stay here for a bit more.  April 30th, parliamentary elections are supposed to take place in Iraq.  Mustafa Habib (Niqash) offers an analysis of the political groupings today:

    Iraq’s Sunni Muslim politicians have re-grouped in preparation for the 2014 general elections. Their main alliance is split and it seems that they’ve left their non-sectarian former leader and turned toward their own kind. The country’s Sunni Muslim voters may well have a new leader in outspoken, high profile MP, Osama al-Nujaifi. 
    During Iraq’s 2010 general elections, Sunni Muslim politicians formed one major bloc, which meant that, in effect, they won the elections. [. . .]
     And now, in preparation for the next general elections, slated for April 2014, Sunni Muslim politicians have split their group again
    As a result, Iraq’s Sunni Muslims seem to have gained a new political leader in the form of Osama al-Nujaifi, the current Speaker of the House. Over the past fortnight, senior Sunni Muslim politicians have been conducting meetings to decide what will happen with former members of the mostly Sunni Muslim, opposition Iraqiya bloc next year.
    The outcome of the meetings: instead of one, there will be three mostly Sunni Muslim alliances competing in the next elections. These are the United bloc, headed by al-Nujaifi, the Iraqi Front for National Dialogue headed by current Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq and then finally the National Iraqiya bloc to be led by the former head of the Iraqiya bloc, Ayed Allawi.
    Sources inside the meetings told NIQASH that the reason that negotiations broke down on putting up a cohesive front was Allawi’s insistence that he lead the bloc again. However al-Nujaifi, whose profile has certainly been rising over the past few years, also wanted that position at the head of the table. Additionally neither Allawi nor al-Nujaifi wanted to ally themselves with an increasingly unpopular (with Sunni Muslims anyway) Saleh al-Mutlaq. Al-Mutlaq is seen as far too close to al-Maliki and he has recently been at the receiving end of Sunni Muslim protestors’ dislike for him.
    The United coalition, led by al-Nujaifi, will include 14 other Sunni Muslim groups as well as a group of Turkmen politicians. Meanwhile Allawi’s National Iraqiya group is composed of a variety of different political entities from right around Iraq. These include Sunni Muslim, Shiite Muslim and tribal based groups and many of them don’t have major voter support. Allawi has said he is staying with this group because of his ongoing belief in non-sectarian politics. 

    On the topic of Ayad Allawi, he posted to his Facebook today a note that he didn't participate in Iraq's current government because the governments of the United States and Iran colluded to give second place Nouri al-Maliki a second term.  He notes that per the Constitution, Iraqiya had the mandate.  In February 2011, Nouri was publicly insisting (to AFP) that he would not seek a third term.  And now?

    All Iraq News reports that State of Law MP Ibrahim al-Rikabi declared that Nouri will be their nominee, declaring, "The SLC does not have any nominee for this post except Maliki."  As a leader, Nouri has been an abject failure. Iraq Times points out that Iraq is one of the richest countries in the world yet thousands of Iraqis are homeless.  All Iraq News noted earlier this week that cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr referred to Nouri's talk of distributing plots of land to be "electoral propaganda."  Noting the failures of the current government, Mutahiddon Coalition MP Wihda al-Jumaili tells All Iraq News, that she believes the country should elect more business people -- with successful track records -- in the next election.

    Iraqi Spring MC reports protests took place in Baquba, Jalawla, Samarra, Falluja, and Rawa, Protests have been taking place non-stop since December 21st.  Next Friday will be one year of continuous protests.

    Ghassan al-Hamid (Alsumaria) reports that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi's coalition noted today that the protesters have been attacked -- most infamously the Hawija attack which left over fifty dead -- by Nouri's forces, that they've endured that and harassment in order to represent the ideals of Iraq, that their voices are only going stronger and that the choice is to be a part of the voice of Iraq or to be someone who cares only for themselves.

    Hawija?  That's the April 23rd 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 53 dead  -- indicating that some of the wounded did not recover. UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

    That's not the only attack on the protesters, it's just the most infamous one.

    National Iraqi News Agency reports:

    Sheikh Ali al-Suleiman Amir of Duleim tribes said that Sahwa forces should take out of Anbar province., if the central government want security and stability in the province for the next phase.
    He said in a speech in the courtyard of the sit-in north of Ramadi : "At the beginning of the formation of Sahwa forces was to fight terrorism, and has been integrated into the security services , but in these days , Sahwa works in favor of a particular parties. so if the central government want security to preavail in Anbar then must get them out of the province.

    That's the smartest request he could make.  Sahwa leaders in Anbar are becoming an embarrassment and a menace.  They are threatening the protesters and this week began telling the press that the way to deal with the protests is to go into the sit-ins and bash heads.

    The heads that need to be bashed?  Sahwas.  No one really gives a damn about 'em.  They're part of the mafia in Iraq -- that's why so many leaders hail from the concrete business.  They're whorish little toadies who took money from the occupying power (the US) to spy on and attack other Iraqis.

    Now the whores have sold out to Nouri and have become his muscle to attack the protesters.

    They thought -- as did Nouri -- that they could take the heat of SWAT and other of Nouri's forces -- forces that are primarily Shi'ite.  But the Sahwa in Anbar?  Those are Sunnis.  Sunnis attacking Sunnis, they and Nouri thought, would be able to pull off violence.

    It doesn't work that way.

    And if Sahwa can't be put on a tighter leash, Iraq's really going to erupt.

    The State Dept, the White House and US Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Beecroft need to explain this to Nouri real quick.

    Call them militants, call them rebels, call them insurgents, call them terrorists -- it doesn't matter one damn bit.

    What happens if Sahwa doesn't sit its ass down?  What happens if they go after the protesters?

    The resistance/the terrorists/the militants/the insurgents suddenly and immediately get street cred in Anbar because they're the only ones who will be seen as standing up for the Sunni population.

    If you think things are bad in Iraq right now, you're right.  But if Sahwa launches a violent attack on the protesters, things will get much worse and militants will be able to move much more freely because they will have many people in Anbar aligned with and/or sympathetic to them and their cause.

    Nouri can't protect the Iraqi people, he can attack them -- as he's attacked the Camp Ashraf residents all along.  There are 7 Ashraf members who were kidnapped this fall.  Where are they?

    Last month,  Brett McGurk, the State Dept's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq and Iran Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, appeared  Wednesday before the  US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa (see the November 13th  "Iraq snapshot," the November 14th "Iraq snapshot" and  the November 15th  "Iraq snapshot").  In that hearing, this exchange took place.

    US House Rep Sheila Jackson Lee:   [. . .]  But there are hostages in Iraq that we must have now.  There's documentation that those hostages are there by our French allies, by the United Nations and other supportive groups and information.  I can't imagine with the wealth of sophisticated intelligence authorities that we have, that we have funded who have a vast array of information about Americans  cannot pinpoint where starving Iranians, loved ones [are] whose families are trying to save their lives after being on a hunger strike for 73 days.  And so I would ask this question of you, already knowing about your heart and your concern, I will not judge you, I already know that you're committed to getting this right/  Will you -- will you demand of Maliki, not next week or months from now, but can we expect in the next 48 hours a call to the head of the government of Iraq demanding the release of these hostages and demanding their release now?  Or the documented, undeniable evidence that they are not held in Iraq?  Second, would you be engaged with -- or  the Secretary [of State John Kerry] be engaged with -- and I have spoken to Secretary Kerry, I know his heart -- with Maliki to demand the security of those in Camp Ashraf  for now and forever until a relocation to a homeland, a place where their relatives are or where they desire to be? [. . .]

    Brett McGurk:  [. . .] We can pinpoint where the people are and I'd like to follow up with you on that.  The seven are not in Iraq.  But I will guarantee in my conversations with Maliki on down, the safety and the security of Camp Ashraf, Camp Liberty, where the residents are, the government needs to do everything possible to keep those poeople safe  but they will never be safe until they're out of Iraq.  And we all need to work together -- the MEK, us, the Committee, everybody, the international community -- to find a place for them to go.  There's now a UN trust fund, we've donated a million dollars and we're asking for international contributions to that fund for countries like Albania that don't have the resources but are willing to take the MEK in.  And we need to press foreign captials to take them in because until they're out, they're not going to be safe and we don't want anyone else to get hurt.  We don't want anymore Americans to get hurt in Iraq, we don't want anymore Iraqis to get hurt in Iraq  and we don't want any more residents of Camp Liberty to get hurt in Iraq and until they're out of Iraq, they're not going to be safe.  This is an international crisis and we need international help and support. 

    US House Rep Sheila Jackson Lee:  May I follow -- May I just have a minute more to follow up with Mr. McGurk, Secretary McGurk?  And I hear the passion in your voice but let me just say this. We're in an open hearing.  You know where they are.  Who is going to rescue them?  Whose responsibility will it be to get them from where they are into safe haven?  Because otherwise, we're leaving -- we're leaving Maliki now without responsibility.  We're saying, and you're documenting that they're not there.  Let me just say that when my government speaks, I try with my best heart and mind to believe it.  But I've got to see them alive and well to believe that they're not where I think they are, they're in a pointed purse.  I'm glad to here that but I want them to be safe but I want them to be in the arms of their loved ones or at least able to be recognized by their loved one that they're safe somewhere.  So can that be done in the next 48 hours?  Can we have a-a manner that indicates that they are safe?

    Brett McGurk:  I will repeat here a statement that we issued on September 16th and it's notable and I was going to mention this in my colloquy with my Congressman to my left, that within hours of the attack, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Score issued a statement praising the attack.  We issued a statement on September 16th calling on the government of Iran to use whatever influence it may have with groups that might be holding these missing persons to secure their immediate release.  And I can talk more about details and the status of these individuals.  And I've briefed some members of the Subcommittee. I'd be happy to follow up. 

    Brett McGurk and the US government are not believed on this statement and, as we noted when we reported the above exchange, the whereabouts shouldn't be classified.

    If the US was physically protecting the 7, that might -- briefly -- be a reason for not giving their whereabouts.  That is not what the government has suggested. So if they're being held against their will by the Iranian government or a proxy for the Iranian government -- or by Nouri or a proxy for Nouri's government -- newsflash, the ones doing the holding no where the 7 are being held.

    It's not classified and kept from the holders.  So why the need for the State Dept to play like the location cannot be spoken of?

    Tuesday Secretary of State John Kerry appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  It was a testy hearing.   John needs to stop being so damn combative in hearings.  He also needs to stop insisting over and over that he get to yammer on.  There's a five minute rule in House hearings.  He was often rude (but at least he spread it around -- he was rude to Republicans and to Democrats). .

    US House Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: And lastly, two issues.  Regarding Camp Ashraf, are the Ashraf 7 being held in Iran or are they in Iraq?  And, Mr. Secretary, [. . .]

    He went on and on.  I'm not including it.  I'd love to include the insult to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (and I agreed with him 100% on that), for example that took place in the exchange that followed Ros-Lehtinen, but I don't have the time.  As it is, I'm pushing back coverage of another hearing to Monday's snapshot.  So we'll ignore all of his words that had nothing to do with Camp Ashraf and pick up here.

    US House Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen:  If you could answer the Ashraf and the Cuba question?

    Secretary John Kerry: Beg your pardon?

    US House Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen:  If you could answer the question about Ashraf --

    Secretary John Kerry:  The question of Ashraf was where-where are they?

    US House Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen:  Iran or Iraq?

    Secretary John Kerry:  Well they're in Iraq.

    US House Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen:  They're in Iraq?

    Secretary John Kerry:  The people.

    US House Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: The seven hostages that were taken from Ashraf?

    Secretary John Kerry:  I-I-I . . .

    US House Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen:  They have not -- We have not known where they are.

    Kerry spoke with the people sitting behind him, then returned to the microphone.

    Secretary of State John Kerry:  Uh, I can talk to you about that in classified session.

    We're talking about the Ashraf residents so, before we note one more exchange, let's include the overview on the Ashraf community.  As of September, Camp Ashraf in Iraq is empty.  All remaining members of the community have been moved to Camp Hurriya (also known as Camp Liberty).  Camp Ashraf housed a group of Iranian dissidents who were  welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. This is key and demands the US defend the Ashraf community in Iraq from attacks.  The Bully Boy Bush administration grasped that -- they were ignorant of every other law on the books but they grasped that one.  As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp repeatedly attacked after Barack Obama was sworn in as US President. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out."  Those weren't the last attacks.  They were the last attacks while the residents were labeled as terrorists by the US State Dept.  (September 28, 2012, the designation was changed.)   In spite of this labeling, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."  So the US has an obligation to protect the residents.  3,300 are no longer at Camp Ashraf.  They have moved to Camp Hurriyah for the most part.  A tiny number has received asylum in other countries. Approximately 100 were still at Camp Ashraf when it was attacked Sunday.   That was the second attack this year alone.   February 9th of this year, the Ashraf residents were again attacked, this time the ones who had been relocated to Camp Hurriyah.  Trend News Agency counted 10 dead and over one hundred injured.  Prensa Latina reported, " A rain of self-propelled Katyusha missiles hit a provisional camp of Iraqi opposition Mujahedin-e Khalk, an organization Tehran calls terrorists, causing seven fatalities plus 50 wounded, according to an Iraqi official release."  They were attacked again September 1st.   Adam Schreck (AP) reported that the United Nations was able to confirm the deaths of 52 Ashraf residents.  It was during that attack that the 7 hostages were taken.

    US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher:  I am introducing a bill today that will allow 3,000 refugees from Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty -- now Camp Liberty -- status --refugee status and thus will permit them to be able to come to the United States.  Hundreds of these people have been slaughtered.  They live under constant threat of being murdered, we know that.  And, uh-uh, will this administration be supporting my legislation to prevent these people from being slaughtered by this pro-Mullah regime that we have in Iraq now?

    Secretary John Kerry: Well Congressman, I've gone to the lengths of appointing a special representative to work exclusively to get the, uh, -- 

    US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher:  I'm just asking about my legislation.

    Secretary John Kerry:  Well I need to see the legislation but  in principle we're trying to find a place for -- 

    US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher:  So in principle -- you would agree with letting these refugees have status -- refugee status so they can come here

    Secretary John Kerry:  Uh, we are -- We're trying to find a place for them to go now.

    US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher:  Okay, so in principle --

    Secretary John Kerry: In principle, I'd like to see the legislation but I can't speak for the President. 

    Turning to the topic of the Jewish archives that Saddam Hussein stole from the Jewish community and that the US government paid to restore, the ones the White House insist should be handed over to the Iraqi government despite the Iraqi government's lack of legal claim to this stolen property.  Ruth's already noted the column David A. Andelman wrote for U.S.A. Today:

    At the end of World War II, there were more than 130,000 Jews in Iraq—a quarter of the population of Baghdad. By the time of the Six Day War in 1967, that number had dwindled to barely 3,000. Today there are at most seven Jews left — each fearful even of disclosing his identity — indeed not even a minion, the minimum number (ten) required for Jewish worship. But abroad, they constitute an enormous community, united under the banner of the World Organization of Jews from Iraq, according to its president, Maurice Shohet who himself fled Iraq in 1970 at the age of 21. The largest single Iraqi Jewish community, outside of Israel, is in the United States. And this is where the Iraqi diaspora wants these artifacts to remain.
    Just why the Iraqi government wants these items returned is an open question—likely a pastiche of the public position authorities have expressed to Urman, that it wants to showcase the "contributions of the Jewish people to Iraq," and the reality that they are aware of their enormous and unchallenged value.
    "From our point of view, they were taken from us and as a result we are the official heirs of the material," Urman observes. "This is not like material looted from national museums. It was taken by force by intelligence agents."
    And now, some substantial force is being brought to bear on their behalf. On November 13, a bipartisan group of 47 House Democrats and Republicans signed a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging the State Department to "facilitate the return of these items to their rightful owners or their descendants, and not to the government of Iraq." Why? "The government of Iraq has no legitimate claim to these artifacts," the letter concludes.

    And they don't.  There's nothing in the law that allows the government to claim stolen property stolen by a previous government.

    JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:An exhibit on now at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. features books, manuscripts and photographs taken from generations of Iraqi Jews that were found in Saddam Hussein's intelligence headquarters in 2003.  Cynthia Kaplan Shamash and Edwin Shuker were childhood friends in Bagdad. They escaped from Iraq in the early '70s and they're both members of the World Organization of Jews from Iraq. They're with us now. 

    That's Jeremy Hobson speaking on Here and Now (NPR -- link is audio and text) Thursday.  Let's note an excerpt.

    SHAMASH: We took the train from Bagdad to the North, to Kirkuk, to make it over the mountains in Iran, and we were caught and we were imprisoned. I was eight; I was interrogated separately, being the youngest in the family.
    As a matter of fact, I have the doll here that was ripped apart. They took the intestines out that says Mama and that would be proof of espionage device. And then we were transported to Bagdad and separated with my sisters; my mother and me separated from my father and brother. We didn't know each other's fate and that went on for like five weeks.
    Eventually we applied for passports. We got the passports after like two months and we left as if we're leaving on a vacation, because you, of course, cannot say that you're leaving for good, even though they knew how to read between the lines. And so we left to Turkey and eventually we ended in different countries abroad.

    HOBSON: And you still have that doll?

    SHAMASH: Yes, I have it with me right here.

    HOBSON: What does it mean to you?

    SHAMASH: It means something, now it's darkness, and it brings darkness and despair when I look at it. And I show it to my children. Like, when I came on the train to the studio, I held onto it for dear life. For me, this is more than gold. It is a part of my heritage. It is an evidence that I have where I came from and what oppression we had to go through to be where we are and not take for granted our safety.

    HOBSON: Edwin, do you have something like that?

    SHUKER: I do. I have something like that in the (unintelligible) exhibition.

    HOBSON: Your school certificate?

    SHUKER: My school certificate. This is my doll and my doll is behind glass and I can't touch it, and I'm waiting for the day, just like Cynthia did, to actually hold my doll.

    HOBSON: Well, tell us the story of that certificate and how it was found, first of all.

    SHUKER: Well, back in 2003, the American Army was informed that there was a cache of Jewish artifacts and documents, and what they saw was a huge collection of books and artifacts and documents, but unfortunately, because of the bombing, the water system had collapsed and the whole cache was under a meter and a half of water. So that was really the vast collection of our identity sitting underwater. Eventually the water was drained and they were transported to Texas, to America, and for the past 10 years they've been lovingly restored, preserved, digitalized, and a small collection of it is exhibited in Washington at the moment.

    HOBSON: Do you think that it should stay in Washington, or do you think it should go back to Iraq or what?

    SHUKER: Well, quite honestly, I have to tell you that when I looked at that certificate for the first time, my heart stopped. I just felt I have left this, but more than a certificate, this was the community's identity. That collection is much more than its intrinsic value. I just looked at that certificate and I saw that little boy staring at me, that picture of Edwin Shuker when he was 12, and I just felt connected back to him after 43 years, a little boy that was abandoned back home with his certificates, with his identity, with his toys, with his stamp collection. We just left him behind in Baghdad. And last month I got reconnected with him, and just as Cynthia described her doll, that was my identity, and boy, do I want it to be with me, do I want it to stay for my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. And no, I don't want it to go back.

     bbc news


    mohammed tawfeeq

    Another prison break . . .

    Iraqi Spring MC reports protests took place in Baquba, Jalawla, Samarra, Falluja, and Rawa, Protests have been taking place non-stop since December 21st.  Next Friday will be one year of continuous protests. And yet, this nonsense passes for coverage in the western media:

     The current wave of violence has its roots in Iraq’s own belated version of the Arab Spring a year ago, when the country’s Sunni minority – who enjoyed privileged status under Saddam – began their own mass demonstrations.
    They complained of being treated as second class citizens by Iraq’s new Shia-dominated government, alleging that they were subject to mass arrests by the security forces and barred from government jobs because of pasts in Saddam’s Baath party.

    While foreign diplomats say their claims were not without foundation, they got little sympathy from Mr Maliki’s government, whose followers point out that Sunnis treated Shias in exactly the same way when they were in power.

    In Colin Freeman's 1113 word piece for the Telegraph of London, that factually questionable and brief passage passes for 'coverage' of the protests.

    Next Friday will be the one year mark.  So where is the coverage in the western media?

    Yet another prison escape has taken place in Iraq.  National Iraqi News Agency explains, "Conflicting stories about the number of escapees from the prison of al-Adalah of the Federal Police in Kazimiyah area at dawn today."  AFP says 22 escaped -- "most were later recaptured" -- and two guards were killed.  Reuers says the Ministry of Interior spokesperson is declaring that all but 3 of 22 escapees have been caught; however, "three police sources told Reuters at least 14" remained on the lam with eleven recaptured and that 1 prisoner and 1 police officer were killed in the prison break.  All Iraq News notes their police source states 30 escaped originally.

    In other violence today, NINA notes an armed attack in Ramadi left 1 police officer dead and another injured, 2 people were shot dead in the al-Shulah section of Baghdad, a Baghdad car bombing claimed 2 lives and left twelve injuted, and a Ramadi car bombing claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers and 1 police officer with ten more people left injured.  All Iraq News notes 1 police officer was shot dead in Beji and 1 corpse was discovered in the streets of Tikrit (shot in head and chest, hand cuffed). Alsumaria adds that a Baghdad home invasion last night left 1 woman dead. Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count notes 370 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month.

    The following community sites -- plus The Diane Rehm Show, Dissident Voice, Jody Watley, On the Wilder Side, Pacifica Evening News, Tavis Smiley and -- updated since yesterday's snapshot:

  • And we'll close with this from Zed Books:

    Introducing our first e-book short:
    About the e-book:
    Nelson Mandela - in his incredible transition from one of the world's longest-detained political prisoners to iconic statesman - became an exemplary figure of integrity and moral fortitude.
    In this fascinating essay, Elleke Boehmer traces the Nobel line of inheritance passed from Mandela to Obama, demonstrating how 'Madiba' emerged as a skilled orator and master of political theatre, characteristics which Obama would later adopt to great success. Looking beyond Mandela the symbol, it reveals the sophistication of his self-awareness, rhetorical style, political astuteness and strategic willingness to perform the roles required of him to achieve his political aim: freedom and equality in South Africa.
    A unique insight into a man who became a giant of the international stage, and his enduring legacy.
    About the author
    Elleke Boehmer is professor of world literature in English at the University of Oxford. She is the author of the best-selling biography of Nelson Mandela.

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