Thursday, January 24, 2013

Every one suffers in Nouri's Iraq except Nouri

Yesterday was a day of massive violence in Iraq.  Alsumaria headlines their coverage by noting that 127 people were killed and wounded.  It never really hits home that way int he US.  The injured aren't a concern. You have to wonder why that is?  The US wounded received very little media attention.  Vets who suffered hearing loss will tell you that they didn't feel the media even know they existed.  When injured veterans were covered it was usually a rah-rah look-at-our-advances-in-another-war-the-service-member-would-be-dead.  There's also the fact that -- as Hillary Clinton demonstrated repeatedly before Congress yesterday -- attempting to escape accountability is a natural response.

But regardless of the reason, the wounded and the injured are not 'lucky' in Iraq.  The medical assistance available is not state-of-the-art.  The hospitals are understaffed, underfunded and overwhelmed.  There is no cutting edge production of artifical limbs.  You have been injured in a war zone and there's no medical evacuation for you, you will continue living wounded in a war zone only now with less mobility and maybe four senses or less. 

You are now most likely going to be among Iraq's many unemployed.  Maybe there will be some small government stipend (most likely, one time only if that).  Maybe you become one of the street vendors or one of the street beggars.  Being wounded in a bombing isn't something you shake off like a tumble from a bicycle.

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 302 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month.  Today's violence includes the discovery of a woman's corpse in Dhi Qar.  News Network Nasiriyah report that she was 34-years-old and stabbed to death -- she is the third corpse discovered in three days to have been stabbed to death (a 20-something woman was discovered earlier this week and a 30-year-old woman). All Iraq News notes a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and injured three people, and a southwest Baghdad roadside bombing left two people injured. Xinhua reports a Balad sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left five people injured, an Ishaqi bombing claimed 1 life (a man) and left "his mother wounded," 1 male corpse was discovered in Edheim (Diyalal Province) and two Diyala Province bombings left six people injured.

My name is Penny Evans and I've just gone twenty-one
A young widow in the war that's being fought in Vietnam
And I have two infant daughters, I thank God I have no sons
Now they say the war is over but I think it's just begun

Nouri's been prime minister since May 2006 (he was named prime-minister designate in April 2006).  What does Iraq have to show for it?  Nouri's a very rich man today.  He's amassed a great deal of wealth -- as his children's spending demonstrates.  He employs one son who is best described as "dense" and one son-in-law who it is said couldn't get work if Nouri wasn't his father-in-law.  The Maliki family's done very well.  It's a shame the same can't be said for the Iraqi people Nouri is supposed to be serving.

Moqtada al-Sadr is a cleric and movement leader in Iraq.  He's a Shi'ite who's been surprisingly vocal about an Iraqi identity encompassing all.  Iraqiya's Ayad Allawi is a Shi'ite and he heads a slate that's rejected sects to call for a national identity.  With provincial elections scheduled for April, Nouri appears to be utilizing sectarian divisions as an election tactic yet again.  That's done a great deal of damage to Iraqi society but that's apparently of little concern to him.

Kitabat reports that the Sadr bloc withdrew from the Committee of Seven Ministers yesterday in protest of the government's refusal to listen to the demands of the protesters.  This Committee was formed by Nouri's Cabinet and Nouri had Deputy Prime Minister Hussain al-Shahristani head it.  While the western press has lavished al-Shahristani with sloppy wet kisses for over seven days, the Iraqi press has noted the many complaints against his actions -- that he's not listening to the protesters, for example.  The departure of the Sadr bloc is a huge blow to the Committee and to al-Shahristani.  In recent days, the Sadr bloc has loudly called out the conditions in prison, noted that sl-Shahristani's (for-show) releases of prisoners confirm that many innocents are languishing in Iraqi prisons and detention centers and  much more.

The Iraq Times notes that 2011 saw $100 billion in oil dollars and an estimated 94 billion last year (these figures are in US dollars, not Iraqi dinar).  The paper notes that while Nouri's government boasts of all these riches (without shame), the Iraqi people do without basic services and the security situation deteriorates daily.  Some day, Iraqis asking "where did all the money go?" won't be denied an answer.  First place people need to look is Nouri's pockets.

At the Council of Foreign Relations, Emma Sky and Harith al-Qarawee explore the topic of Iraq and offer:

Since 2008, when Maliki led a harsh crackdown on the Mahdi Army, a Shia militia, the prime minister has tried to present himself as a nationalist leader seeking to unify his country and evenly enforce the rule of law. The rise of Maliki and the popularity he gained with Shia, however, reveal the flaws of Iraq's new political system, which made state institutions fiefdoms of patronage for sectarian political parties rather than channels for delivering public services. Maliki tried to earn legitimacy beyond just the Shia community, in particular seeking the support of Sunni voters. His confrontation with Massoud Barzani, the president of the semi-independent Iraqi Kurdistan region, over security issues along the disputed border was primarily a move to win the support of the Sunni population there, which is resentful of Kurdish encroachment.
But Maliki has squandered his ability to appeal to the country's other sects and communities because of his paranoia and ideological bias as a leader of Dawa, the Shia Islamist party. He blames external interference for the current tensions, exploiting images of divisive symbols such as flags of the Saddam era, the Free Syrian Army, and Kurdistan, as well as photos of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. And Maliki's record -- his targeting of Sunni politicians, his selective use of law, his influence over the judiciary to ensure rulings in his favor, and his close ties with Iran -- confirms that he is prepared to use all means necessary to consolidate power.

All Iraq News reports another last-ditch effort to save the $4 billion arms deal with Russia.  Maybe that will work out for Nouri?  It won't help Iraq but if he could ever close the deal he made months ago, he might be able to convince others that his name on a contract means something (months and months of struggle and doubt -- apparently).

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