Saturday, February 05, 2011

Protests in Iraq alarm the government

Protesters who stormed government buildings and a police station in a small, poor southern Iraqi town on Thursday continued their demonstrations yesterday, despite a crackdown by security forces.
Angry residents in Hamza, in Diwaniya province, 180 kilometres south of Baghdad, took to the streets for a third day yesterday after protests over shortages of power, food and jobs, as well as political corruption, turned violent.
According to demonstrators, at least one was shot and killed and another four were injured on Thursday when security men opened fire after the crowd tried to storm a police station. Officials in Hamza confirmed four people had been wounded but denied any deaths. They said police had been forced to respond after protesters threw stones and petrol bombs at them.

The above is from Nizar Latif's "Iraqis step up protest in job and food crisis" (The National) and you can refer to Thursday and Friday's snapshots for more on the Diwaniya protests. Alsumaria TV reports, "Hundreds of Iraqis took to the streets of Baghdad on Friday in protest against unemployment, freedom restrictions and other demands. Demonstrators waving the photo of late Argentinean revolutionary leader Che Guevara said they had no one to represent them in Iraq. Iraqi demonstrators urged to change the policies in Iraq and accused Parliament of shortcoming." Al Rafidayn notes that they marched on Muntanabi Street, activist, young people and intellectuals, demanding improved services. Salar Jaff and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) add that MP Abbas Bayati declared today that the Parliament "will also enact a law that guarantees equilibrium between the salaries of officials and ordinary Iraqis. The current circumstances are pushing us to descrease expenses and salaries, and spend them on the low income classes." Pushing? The Parliament's not held sessions during the recent holiday and only sprung back into them this week. This week has seen a lot of words but not a lot of action. Words include the announcement that Nouri won't seek a third term. Why does it matter who he said it to?

Announced by who? The Los Angeles Times isn't clear. He said it to Sammy Ketz of AFP in an interview. Ketz reports him stating he won't seek a third term, that 8 years is enough and that he supports a measure to the Constitution limiting prime ministers to two terms.

Well Jalal Talabani declared he wouldn't seek a second term as President of Iraq in an interview and then . . . took a second term. Point, if you're speaking to a single journalist, it really doesn't seem to matter what you say. Did Nouri announce his decision to the people? No, is quite clear that an advisor made an announcement and that Malliki made no "public statement" today.

In other words, a statement in an interview is the US political equivalent of "I have no plans to run for the presidency" uttered more than two years before a presidential election. That's Iraqi politicians in general. Nouri? This is the man who's never kept a promise and who is still denying the existence of secret prisons in Iraq. Deyaar Bamami ( notes the Human Rights Watch report on the secret prisons and that they are run by forces Nouri commands.

Meanwhile Al Mada reports that there are rumors of a reshuffling on Nouri's Cabinet in the next few months. Nabil al-Haidari ( reports that efforts are now underweigh to provide the ration card system with actual rations the way they once were (US pressure has repeatedly led to more and more items being dropped from the rations system) and Nouri and his cabinet promised Friday that provinces will not experience shortages of what is currently offered. (No more will they experience shortages, that's the promise. A Nouri promise so refer to earlier for what that actually means.) Al Mada reports that Parliament wants an investgiation into the police interaction with protestors in Diwaniya (they shot at them). Al Sabaah notes that the Wafaa Amer Council has issued a call for Baghdad to train the country's security forces on how to interact with protestors.

Regardless of how serious the words are, they indicate grave concern over the protests that have been taking place in Iraq especially when put in context with the other protests in the region.

Reminder Amped Status has reworked their website and this now includes social networking for those interested in social networking. So make a point to check that out.

The e-mail address for this site is