Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Nouri's Iraq: Child labor, birth defects, violence

Bahrain News Agency reports that 2 Baquba bombings left 1 person dead and five more injured.   All Iraq News adds that an electricity worker was shot dead outside a Mosul power plant.  Reuters notes that a pipeline near Diyala Province was bombed (and that it was also targeted with a bombing on Saturday).   Iraq Body Count notes that, through yesterday, 253 people have died from violence in Iraq so far this month.

Protests have been taking place in Iraq non-stop since December.  Al Mada notes that yesterday was day sixty of the protests and that Anbar Province demonstrators are calling for the tribal leaders to stand with them.  In recent days, Nouri's Tigris Operation Command has attempted to intimidate the tribal leaders.  Nouri appears to be, from comments in the article by various protesters, scrambling to send forces to various areas.  If that's true, we'll discuss it Friday.  If I've misinterpreted, I'm dropping that because I'm not going to pass on hints for Nouri.  Baquba protesters say they are prepared to continue protesting but that they are fearful of what Nouri's Tigris Operation Command forces will do them.  (And they have reason to be fearful, those forces have already shot dead 9 protesters.)

Among the demands, the release of innocents who have been disappeared into the 'justice' system.  Article IX  of the Constitution is a problem as well because it adds to innocents arrested by allowing you to be arrested merely for being related to a suspect -- you can be the mother of someone suspected of a crime and be arrested because you're the mother (or father, brother, sister, child, grandparent, etc).  Dar Addustour reports that the Ministry of the Interior is bragging that they have released 1077 people accused of 'terrorism.'  If you're thinking, "1077?  That seems smaller than the numbers a gullible western press was pimping a few weeks back," you're not wrong.

3,000 was the claim in early February.  But thing was, the provinces were asking, "Where are these people?"  Because they weren't seeing a huge influx returning.  And then the provinces began demanding that  the Ministry provide a list of names of the released which the Ministry refused to do earlier.  Dar Addustour publishes the list (PDF format) here and here.  Once a list was provided, the numbers dropped, didn't they?

Because when no proof is required Nouri can -- and will -- say anything.   Al Mada notes that the 1077 are released.  There are others that are 'transferred' and being considered for release.  Nouri's laughable committee -- headed by the joke that is Hussain al-Shahristani -- is claiming higher numbers but refusing to release a list of names saying that will come later.

Is it a promise?  Like when Nouri promised to honor The Erbil Agreement?  Or like when Nouri promised in Feb. 2011 that if protesters stopped protesting and gave him 100 days, he would meet their demands?  Nouri never honored The Erbil Agreement and he never met the protesters demands.  So promises from his flunky al-Shahristani aren't worth anything.

Still on Anbar Province, Al Rafidayn reports that the provincial council has sent out a distress call for international medical and humanitarian agencies asking for help in handling the issue of the increased birth defects in Falluja which have only increased and become even more alarming in the last six months.  Deputy Chair of the Provincial Council Saadoun Obeid al-Shalan states that they have appealed to the Council of Ministers and to the Ministry of Health and Human Rights for years now but nothing is being done so now they are calling on the European Union countries and the United Nations and other children, medical and humanitarian organizations to come to Falluja and help address the problem.  You'll note the US is left out.  There's a reason for that.  As he explains, the white phosphorus and other weapons the US forces used on Falluja in 2004 and 2005 are said to be responsible for the birth defects.  The article states Falluja couples are becoming afraid to have children due to the huge number of birth defects the region is experiencing.

Meanwhile in Baghdad, Alsumaria reports, children are working on the streets and in the factories and child labor is on the rise in the capital.  The estimate is at least 1500 children are working in Baghdad.  This is a result of the lack of subsidies and sufficient subsidies for widows and orphans and families in general.  Iraq is a land of orphans and widows as a result of the Iraq War.

CNN had a ridiculous promo for an upcoming show.  To be clear, this wasn't Mohammed Tawfeeq, Chelsea J. Carter or any of the people who usually report for CNN.  This was for a 'business' show.  And the claim was made that Iraqi leaders (the show airs this week) want to improve the life of the Iraqi people.  If you mean Nouri, stop lying.  He's been prime minister since 2006.

If you're not getting it, let's again note Seerwan Jafar's Niqash article from December:

Iraq is near to completely reliant on oil revenues. Oil exports account for 95 percent of government revenues and are equal to 70 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
Since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, and then the subsequent removal of international sanctions, Iraq’s oil production and exports have increased steadily. Exports have risen this has corresponded with an increase in oil prices throughout the 2000s, beginning from 2003. Due to this, Iraqi revenues from the oil sector have increased dramatically and this has been reflected in surges in the annual budget. The 2013 budget is the highest in Iraq’s history.
But now we return to the question at hand: how big does the Iraqi budget need to be for it to be adequate? To decide how much is enough, one can look to developed nations for a benchmark - specifically the OECD average, to derive an approximate “ideal” figure from recent expenditure. The following table indicates how much each country spent per citizen in 2009; it also shows the OECD average spend per citizen for 2009.
This turns out to be US$15,331 per citizen. Meanwhile Iraq’s 2013 draft budget is US$118 billion. With Iraq’s population of over 34 million this means Iraq would only be spending about US$3,440 per citizen.

Where does the money go?  It's not going to the people.  It's not going to the infrastructure.  The Maliki family is said to live high on the hog while the average Iraqi suffers.

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