Thursday, November 18, 2010

Iraqi Christians 'It's genocide, essentially'

Natasha Dado (Arab American News via New America Media) reports on last week's rally in Detroit to protest the targeting of Iraqi Christians and quotes Patrick Lossia stating, "As a result of the U.S. occupying Iraq, its Christian population has declined from three percent to one percent. If America never invaded Iraq in 2003, we would have stabilization. We're almost less than one percent of the minority in Iraq, but we're the ones dying the most. I didn't like Saddam Hussein, but it's a fact Iraq was safer under his regime." October 31st, Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad was attacked, over 70 people died, over 70 were wounded. Among the dead were two priests, one of which was shot in the back of his head "execution style." That event began the latest wave of attacks on Iraqi Christians.

Leila Fadel and Ali al-Qeisy (Washington Post) report, "The names of the dead are pasted on the floor in the center of the church and surrounded by lighted candles. But the window glass is missing, destroyed by blasts and gunfire, and craters dot the ground - all reminders of the four suicide bombers who carried out the deadly attack along with other gunmen." The response to the latest wave of attacks is no different from earlier responses: many Iraqi Christians attempt to relocate within and outside of Iraq. The government response? When the issue receives global attention, Iraqi politicians make a few public statments and nothing more is done. This has especially been the pattern since Nouri al-Maliki was installed as prime minister in 2006. Alan Holdren (Catholic News Agency) quotes the Syrian Catholic Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa of Mosul stating, "In terms of declarations, we are really saturated. What we are asking for are concrete actions. We must find a solution, solutions, effective ways to safeguard the security of Christians." Meanwhile Alsumaria TV reports that Iraqi president Jalal Talabani is whining over France's offer of asylum to victims of the October 31st attacks and their families and saying that Iraqi Christians are welcome in the KRG. But they're not always safe in the KRG. And they don't have all the bodyguards that Jalal does, do they? Jalal is one of the two types of stupid on display of late. The first is someone basically in Iraq but well protected who has a hissy that another nation might offer asylum to the defenseless persecuted. The second is the Iraqi Christian who has fled Iraq at some point and is now safely in another land (often a citizen of that land) and who insists that Iraqi Christians must stay in Iraq. The Detroit rally was made a joke by one of the leaders of the rally insisting that Iraqi Christians must remain in Iraq. The very obvious point is that that leader didn't remain in Iraq nor has he taken it upon himself to go back to Iraq. It's easy to call for someone to make what could be a last stand while you're safe elsewhere.

The latest wave of attacks is one in a series of ongoing attacks. Iraqi Christians have not been protected throughout the war. Anyone who feels they need to leave should have all the resources and support needed. Anyone who feels they want to stay should be encouraged and the Iraqi government should be offering them all the resources and support they need. But what shouldn't happen is for other people to be making the decisions for them. This is life or death and it will be blood on someone's hands if they attempt to make the decision for Iraqi Christians. Repeating, there is something highly offensive about an American-Iraqi who wants Iraqi Christians to remain in Iraq while he sits his happy little ass safe in Detroit. If what he now advocates had been done to him and his family, he'd still be in Iraq. That no one involved in planning the rally saw that rank hypocrisy is rather telling. (As was his cries that the US military must remain in Iraq for years to protect Iraqi Christians. The targeting is not an excuse to continue the illegal war.)

Kevin Menz (The Sheaf) reports on a Saskatoon protest against the violence and quotes Peter Kiryakos stating, "It's genocide, essentially. The Christian people, since the war began, have had no protection and have been targeted by terrorist groups wanting them out of the country." If it's genocide, it's criminal to suggest that Iraqi Christians should be forced to stay in Iraq. (Repeating, some may want to leave, some may want to stay. That is for them to decide and governments world should open their borders to those who make the decision to leave.)

Meanwhile Stockholm News reports:

61 deportations of Iraqis from Sweden have so far been stopped on request by the European Court for Human Rights. This claims the Swedish Migration Board in a press release. But all deportations are not stopped and this is criticised by the secretary general of Council of Europe Torbjörn Jagland.
The Swedish Migration Board has decided to stop the deportation of Iraqi refugees in some individual cases. But this is not a general policy. Tomorrow morning for example, one plane departs for Baghdad with an unknown number of Iraqis from Sweden on-board.

The Local reports that "tomorrow morning" departure (yesterday morning) was called off when the Eurpoean Court of Human Rights sent a request Tuesday night.

Turning to Iraqi politics, Alsumaria TV reports, "State of Law Coalition senior official Hassan Al Sunaid stated that the political parties have started the legislation of a special law for the national policy council which will play a major advisory role in shaping Iraq’s future policies, he said." This council is supposed to be part of the deal which allowed a Speaker and President to be determined and a prime minister-designate to be named.

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. November 10th a power sharing deal resulted in the Parliament meeting for the second time and voting in a Speaker. And then Iraqiya felt double crossed on the deal and the bulk of their members stormed out of the Parliament. David Ignatius (Washington Post) explains, "The fragility of the coalition was dramatically obvious Thursday as members of the Iraqiya party, which represents Sunnis, walked out of Parliament, claiming that they were already being double-crossed by Maliki. Iraqi politics is always an exercise in brinkmanship, and the compromises unfortunately remain of the save-your-neck variety, rather than reflecting a deeper accord. " After that, Jalal Talabani was voted President of Iraq. Talabani then named Nouri as the prime minister-delegate. If Nouri can meet the conditions outlined in Article 76 of the Constitution (basically nominate ministers for each council and have Parliament vote to approve each one with a minimum of 163 votes each time and to vote for his council program) within thirty days, he becomes the prime minister. If not, Talabani must name another prime minister-delegate. . In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister-delegate. It took eight months and two days to name Nouri as prime minister-delegate. His first go-round, on April 22, 2006, his thirty day limit kicked in. May 20, 2006, he announced his cabinet -- sort of. Sort of because he didn't nominate a Minister of Defense, a Minister of Interior and a Minister of a Natioanl Security. This was accomplished, John F. Burns wrote in "For Some, a Last, Best Hope for U.S. Efforts in Iraq" (New York Times), only with via "muscular" assistance from the Bush White House. Nouri declared he would be the Interior Ministry temporarily. Temporarily lasted until June 8, 2006. This was when the US was able to strong-arm, when they'd knocked out the other choice for prime minister (Ibrahim al-Jaafari) to install puppet Nouri and when they had over 100,000 troops on the ground in Iraq. Nouri had no competition. That's very different from today. The Constitution is very clear and it is doubtful his opponents -- including within his own alliance -- will look the other way if he can't fill all the posts in 30 days. As Leila Fadel (Washington Post) observes, "With the three top slots resolved, Maliki will now begin to distribute ministries and other top jobs, a process that has the potential to be as divisive as the initial phase of government formation." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) points out, "Maliki now has 30 days to decide on cabinet posts - some of which will likely go to Iraqiya - and put together a full government. His governing coalition owes part of its existence to followers of hard-line cleric Muqtada al Sadr, leading Sunnis and others to believe that his government will be indebted to Iran." The stalemate ends when the country has a prime minister. It is now eight months, eleven days and counting.

And we'll close with this from Andy Worthington's "Obama Erects Impenetrable Wall to Accountability" (World Can't Wait):

On national security issues, there are now two Americas. In the first, which existed from January to May 2009, the rule of law flickered briefly back to life after eight years of the Bush administration.

In this first America, President Obama swept into office issuing executive orders promising to close Guantánamo and to uphold the absolute ban on torture, and also suspended the much-criticized system of trials by Military Commission used by the Bush administration to secure just three contentious convictions in seven years.

In addition, in April 2009 he complied with a court order to release four “torture memos” issued in 2002 and 2005 by lawyers in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which purported to redefine torture so that it could be used by the CIA (in 2002), or broadly upheld that decision (in 2005). As well as confirming the role of the courts in upholding the law, these documents contained important information for those hoping to hold senior Bush administration officials and lawyers accountable for their actions in the “War on Terror.”

The final flourish of this period was the decision to move a Guantánamo prisoner to New York to face a federal court trial, which took place in May 2009. Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian seized in Pakistan in July 2004, was held in secret CIA custody for over two years, until he was moved to Guantánamo in September 2006, with 13 other men regarded as “high-value detainees.”

Ghailani’s transfer to face justice in New York for his involvement with the 1998 African embassy bombings was important not only because it confirmed that Guantánamo prisoners could be tried in federal court, rather than by Military Commission, but also because it established a connection with the way in which justice had been pursued before the 9/11 attacks. Ghailani had been indicted for his part in the African embassy bombings in 1998, and three of his alleged co-conspirators had been successfully tried and convicted in federal court in May 2001, prior to receiving life sentences in October 2001.

Unfortunately, in the second America, which emerged on the same day as Ghailani’s transfer, the rule of law has, for the most part, given way to political expediency and the blatant obstruction of justice, which have served only to reinforce the hideous novelties introduced by the Bush administration in its “War on Terror,” and to prevent any attempt to secure accountability for those responsible for the administration’s crimes.

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