Thursday, April 17, 2014

Nouri's Iraq: War Crimes, violence, child marriage

NINA reports, "A source at the Fallujah General Hospital told the reporter of the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / five people, including a woman, were killed and 11 others wounded, including two children, in the renewed shelling and mortar to most of Fallujah today."  Qatar News Agency covers the killing of civilians here.

This is a War Crime.  Nouri's committing War Crimes with weapons the US government provides him with.  Which, by the way, is what Ann's question to Gwen Ifill was about (see previous entry "Ann's question on Iraq just got 'answered'").

Ann's question went up in Gwen Ifill's NewsHour 'chat' taking place right now.

Comment From Ann  
Good afternoon, Gwen. I'm bothered by the attack on Anbar Province in Iraq and the lack of western media coverage. Specifically, Nouri al-Maliki has been bombing the residential neighborhoods of Falluja every day since the start of the year. This is collective punishment and it is leaving many dead -- including many children. But we see nothing on the news about this in the US. Since we are the ones arming Maliki, this seems like a serious news issue in need of coverage to me. What does it take to get Iraq covered on The Newshour? Thank you. 

Turning to other violence, National Iraqi News Agency reports Joint Operations Command declared they killed 54 suspects in Falluja,  1 Shabak was shot dead in Mosul, a Balad Ruz suicide bomber took his own life and the life of 1 Iraqi soldierNouri's military used helicopters to kill 4 suspects in Ramadi, and, west of Mosul in Addayya Village, an attack on an Iraqi military base killed 12 soldiers and left ten more injured.

Meanwhile, Ned Parker's "Iraq: The Road to Chaos" (The New York Review of Books) remains the must-read on Iraq this week.  Excerpt.

In the early months of 2011, as popular uprisings raised hopes for democracy around the Middle East, Iraqis were inspired to make their own call for a more democratic government and for a time, it seemed possible that they might induce significant reforms. On February 25, 2011, when thousands of young Iraqis took to the streets in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square and more than a dozen other cities, several local officials, including the governors of two Shiite provinces, were forced to resign. A few days later, Maliki, unnerved by the toppling of dictators in Egypt and Tunisia, announced a hundred-day deadline for the government to weed out corruption and improve the delivery of services. Maliki’s Sunni and Shiite critics seized upon the protests. Rather than come together to fix Iraq’s myriad problems, however, each political party saw the demonstrations as a way to pressure its rivals. It was a pattern that would repeat again and again over the next four years as politicians bullied and embarrassed one another at the country’s expense.
That summer, the prime minister responded with authoritarian tactics. During the second Friday protest in Baghdad that June, Maliki supporters and plainclothes security agents descended upon the protesters and attacked them with clubs and knives. These roving bands of pro-Maliki men, who identified themselves as victims of terrorism, waved pictures of Allawi with a giant red X slashed across his face, while shouting “death to Baathists.” Iraqi soldiers stood by and officials from Maliki’s office toured the square in praise of their armed supporters, ignoring the violence.
Maliki understood that the Americans were getting ready to leave and that the American-sponsored rules that had been imposed after 2003 were temporary. Vice President Biden, who traveled to Iraq four times between January 2010 and January 2011 to promote a successful democratic transition, had stopped coming as the American military prepared for its final withdrawal. And during the June crackdown, the US embassy—which is right across the river from Baghdad’s Tahrir Square—remained silent.
By the fall, Maliki’s office was insinuating that his own Sunni-vice president, Tareq Hashimi, was running death squads, and stories were circulating that Hashimi and his fellow Sunni politicians, including finance minister Rafaa Issawi and Parliament speaker Usama Nujafi, were conspiring with Turkey and the Gulf states to bring down the new Shiite-led order. Upon his return from a triumphant visit to the White House that December to mark the formal US withdrawal, Maliki sent security forces to arrest Hashimi, who fled to Turkey, and to surround the homes of prominent Sunni officials inside the Green Zone. 

We've been covering the issue of a proposed bill which would lower the marriage age for Iraqi girls to as young as eight, would strip mothers of their custodial rights, would allow for marital rape and many other things.  Hajer Naili covers it today in "Iraqi Girl-Marriage Bill Called Vote-Getting Ploy" (Women's eNews):

A bill to roll back the rights of Shiite women and children in Iraq has generated shockwaves in the West, but analysts with knowledge of the country say odds are against its passage.
Manal Omar describes the bill--which would allow some girls as young as 9 to legally marry--as political bait to bring conservatives out to vote in the April 30 legislative elections.
"I think the primary message here is a way to invigorate the masses before the elections," says Omar, associate vice-president for programs in the Middle East and North Africa region at the United States Institute of Peace, based in Washington, D.C. "People who are not going to vote tend to be more from the tribal and conservative parts and more of the working class groups."

Omar traveled last month to Baghdad where she spent March 8, International Women's Day, with women's rights activists who oppose the bill. "There is a very strong concern among Iraqi women's activists," Omar said in an April 16 phone interview. However when questioned on the likelihood to see the text passed she responds, "I would say it is less than 50 percent."

Manal Omar is an American citizen who wrote a book about Iraq, did a book tour, appeared before the Congress weeks later and used her entire presentation to talk about . . . something other than Iraq.

Though Iraq did fit in the topic of the hearing and one member of the Committee said to me after the hearing, "Don't pin it on me, we specifically invited her because she presents as an expert on Iraq."

She does do that.

We'll talk about her nonsense in the snapshot. (Nonsense refers to Manal.  I'm not slamming the writer or Women's eNews -- I'm glad they covered the issue.)   The Nonsense and the Damage Done -- to be Neil Young about it.

Raheem Salman, Ahmed Rasheed, Isabel Coles and Andrew Roche (Reuters) explore the topic as well:

Proponents of the Ja'afari Law say many families marry off daughters underage anyway, particularly in the rural south, so the bill would protect young brides by codifying their status.
"The law does not make the marriage of underage girls obligatory," said Shi'ite women's rights activist Thabat al-Unaibi, adding she would not let her own two daughters marry until they were old enough to have finished their studies.

"Why all the fuss over this issue?"

Will the law pass or not?  It's already 'passed' in terms of its impact on Iraq's society.

(Note: I've stated many times here that I don't support online petitions.  So the woman who keeps e-mailing me about her online petition is wasting her time and should consider herself fortunate that I'm not writing about the flaws in her intro to her petition which includes the false claim that the bill will be voted on April 30th.  April 30th is when parliamentary elections are supposed to take place.)

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