Saturday, January 14, 2012

Iraq slammed with bombing, over 50 dead

Southern Iraq was slammed with a major bombing today, the last day of Arbaeen. Anne Barker (Australia's ABC News) reports it was a suicide bomber, in a police uniform, who detonated in Basra, taking his own life and over fifty others with over one hundred people left injured. The Telegraph of London notes, "The attack happened on the last of the 40 days of Arbain, when hundreds of thousands of Shi'ite pilgrims from Iraq and abroad visit the Iraqi city of Kerbala, as well as other holy sites. Saturday's blast occurred near the town of Zubeir as pilgrims marched toward the Shi'ite Imam Ali shrine on the outskirts of the town, said Ayad al-Emarah, a spokesman for the governor of Basra province." Alsumaria TV explains, "Al Khotwa Mosque, situated near Al Basra city on the eastern entrance of Al Zubair District center, was the second mosque built following Al Masjid Al Nabawi in the city of Medina, and the first one to be built outside KSA. Imam Ali Bin Abi Taleb prayed, during Al Jamal battle in 36 AH, at Al Khotwa mosque which bears a significant importance for Shiites who mass up by thousands in the mosque on religious occasions."

Raheem Salman and Jeffrey Fleishman (Los Angeles Times) add that there are conflicting accounts with the Barsra Provincial Council spokesperson Hashim Luaibi echoing the story above but with Basra's Chief of Security Ali Ghanim Maliki insisting that the bomber was someone "pretending he was distributing food to pilgrims." An Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers shares his reaction at Inside Iraq:

When I saw the pictures of the explosion on TV, when I saw the weeping mothers, the crying children and the people who were running everywhere looking for their relatives, I couldn’t stand the scene and I changed the channel. When my wife tried to ask me about the explosion, I interrupted her and asked her never to ask me about anything. It looks that eight years of work with press and going to dozens of explosions scenes had filled my heart with pain and sorrow and there is no more place for any news pains.

Nabil al-Jurani (AP) reports, "Basra hospital received 53 killed and 137 wounded after the blast, said Dr. Riyadh Abdul-Amir, the head of Basra Health Directorate. He said some of the wounded were in serious condition, and warned the death toll may rise further." AFP observes, "The violence was the latest in a spate of attacks against Shiite pilgrims in the two weeks leading to the conclusion of Arbaeen, which marks 40 days after the Ashura anniversary commemorating the slaying of Imam Hussein, one of Shiite Islam's most revered figures, by the armies of the caliph Yazid in 680 AD." Michael S. Schmidt (New York Times) also notes the sect issue, "During the past 10 days, insurgents have unleashed a string of attacks on Shiites as they have made pilgrimages leading up to Arbaeen in what seems to have been an effort to incite sectarian violence during a monthlong political crisis that has increased tensions between the country's Shiite and Sunni politicians." However, Dan Morse (Washington Post) points out, "In interviews, the most common refrain of Shiite and Sunni citizens is that they care little about sectarianism and care a lot about jobs and having more than six hours of electricity a day." Al Mada reports the Baghdad Association has announced a national campaign which will utilize various artists and notables to decry sectarianism and stress Iraqi unity.

The following community sites -- plus Watching America and Adam Kokesh -- updated last night and today:

Finally, David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. We'll close with this from Bacon's "Migration: A Product of Free Market Reforms" (Americas Program):

Editor's Note: This is the first installment of a three-part series on migrant rights by journalist and immigration activist David Bacon. This article is taken from the report "Displaced, Unequal and Criminalized - Fighting for the Rights of Migrants in the United States" that examines the origins of the current migratory labor phenomenon, the mechanisms that maintain it, and proposals for a more equitable system. The Americas Program is proud to publish this series in collaboration with the author.
A political alliance is developing between countries with a labor export policy and the corporations who use that labor in the global north. Many countries sending migrants to the developed world depend on remittances to finance social services and keep the lid on social discontent over poverty and joblessness, while continuing to make huge debt payments. Corporations using that displaced labor share a growing interest with those countries' governments in regulating the system that supplies it.
Increasingly, the mechanisms for regulating that flow of people are contract labor programs-called "guest worker" or "temporary worker" programs in the U.S., or "managed migration" in the UK and much of the EU. With or without these programs, migration to the U.S. and other industrial countries is a fact of life. Despite often using rhetoric that demonizes immigrants, the U.S. Congress is not debating the means for ending migration. Nothing can, short of a radical reordering of the world's economy.

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