Saturday, November 30, 2013

Emotional Nouri has a tantrum as Moqtada says Iran's not supporting Nouri

World Bulletin notes, "After it was revealed that a deal was signed between Turkey and the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government of northern Iraq, it was reported that the central Iraqi government in Baghdad closed air space to private Turkish jets in protest of the deal."  AFP adds, "Baghdad has barred Turkish private jets from flying to Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, officials said Nov. 30, ahead of an upcoming energy conference that Ankara's energy minister was expected to attend."  World Bulletin also notes the denial, "Director of the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority Naser al-Bandar has denied reports about closing the airspace of northern Iraq to Turkish planes."

Poor pathetic Nouri al-Maliki, or, as he's being called on Arabic social media, "the West's bitch."  The Prime Minister of Iraq has had . . . well a bad few days, but, really, a bad few years -- in fact, both terms as prime minister.

Here's a parody site in English:

  1. In Iraq pleading for the Turkish oil deal with Kurdistan to fall apart.

Poor Nouri.  The joke of the world's stage.

He brought a corrupt multi-national bank into Baghdad this week -- despite the fact that it's had to pay heavy fines in every country it's operated in, scandals in the US, scandals in India, scandals in Hong Kong . . .

It was embarrassing, one Iraqi commentator called it "colonial rape" -- but that's all Nouri had to offer, that's all he could on the world stage to try to command headlines and look powerful . . .

But as we noted in Wednesday's snapshot, "the KRG upstages Nouri:"

National Iraqi News Agency reports that Nijervan Barzani met with Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the two discussed "the issue of oil exporting from Kurdistan region to Turkey."  All Iraq News quotes "Turkish sources" stating, "Erdogan signed many conventions with Barzani in oil and gas sectors and after the three hour meeting he announced his intention to visit Baghdad and Erbil to assure the desire of Turkey in promoting relations with all Iraqi components."
The pipeline could assist with the oil exports that are already taking place between the KRG and Turkey.  Seyfettin Gursel (Al-Monitor) reports:

Oil production in the region controlled by the KRG is 300,000 barrels per day. About two-thirds of this amount is exported to Turkey in tanker trucks. This is a tedious and expensive method. Nevertheless, the KRG revenues — which were at $150 million seven years ago — have risen to $12 billion, and per capita income has climbed to $5,000 from $300. It is possible to boost the daily production to 1 million barrels with the operating wells. With proven and estimated oil reserves, this production will increase multifold in coming years. According to Celebi, yet-untapped natural gas reserves are estimated at 40 billion cubic meters. The KRG has already signed deals with international oil companies for production and to build the pipelines that would cross Turkey.
Even limited oil-production revenues have raised Turkey’s exports to Iraq to above $10 billion, which comes after Germany in Turkey’s primary export markets. It is, however, likely to occupy the top slot soon. According to Celebi, 90% of exports to Iraq go to Northern Iraq, with the rest going to the south of the country. Imagine how these numbers are going to multiply when the pipelines are completed and oil and natural gas starts to flow.

Of today's meet-up, Asharq al-Awsat notes, "Speaking to CNNTurk television on Wednesday, Barzani confirmed that Iraq's Kurds are hoping to start pumping oil to Turkey before the end of the year via the Baghdad-controlled pipeline." AFP reports that Barzani declared before the meeting that the oil could be flowing, via the pipeline, to Turkey "before Christmas" (December 25th).
Guess which cranky boy forgot Santa Claus was making a list of who was naughty and who was nice?
Nouri al-Maliki.  AFP quotes Nouri's mouth piece Ali al-Mussawi conveying Nouri's fury, "The Iraqi government informed the Turkish ambassador in Baghdad of its strong opposition to signing the pipeline deal with KRG."  And if that's got Nouri stomping his feet, whatever will he do in December?  That's when, Rudaw reports, a major commerce event takes place in the KRG:

More than 100 international energy companies and 800 political and diplomatic figures are expected to attend the Kurdistan-Iraq Oil &  Gas Conference 2013 in Erbil next month, notably coinciding with historic oil exports by the Kurds.
The four-day conference opens Sunday, just as the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq begins to export oil directly to Turkey through its newly-extended pipeline.

Maybe he'll have time to adjust?  But today, Nouri thought it was his day.  He'd dominate the news cycle by announcing a one-time tool of the British empire was invading Iraq.  Instead, all anyone cares about right now is what Barzani and Erdogan agreed to.

It's Saturday and Nouri's still not recovered from being humiliated on the national stage. He's such a joke, just picture all the neighboring countries pointing and laughing at the ridiculous and impotent Nouri al-Maliki.

Just earlier this month, he was meeting in Baghdad with Ahmet Davutoglu, Foreign Minister of Turkey, and trying to make nice, trying to show he had maturity and leadership.

He couldn't even pull that charade off for a full month.

How very telling.

All Iraq News reports cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr declared today that Iran refuses to back Nouri for a third term.

Could you blame them?

He's an international embarrassment.

Also, as we've noting since 2010, the rumor the French government was hearing was that Moqtada was promised that year that if he'd support Nouri for a second term, Iran would back Moqtada the next go round.

Violence continues in Iraq today.

National Iraqi News Agency reports Sheikh Hussein Lwayis of Alliheb tribe was shot dead in Qayyarah  in an attack which left one of his sons injured,  1 police officer was shot dead in western Mosul, 1 civilian was shot dead in Mosul, a Ramadi roadside bombing left two police officers injured, 1 police officer was shot dead in Ramadi, a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 Ministry of Agriculture employee, 2 Mada'in bombings claimed 1 life and left two people injured, a Balad sticky bombing killed 1 security officers and 2 of his brothers, a Tuz Khurmato bombing targeting a funeral claimed 2 lives and left four more people injured, former Lt Col Thamir al-Dulaimi was shot dead in Jbalah, a Baghdad car bombing claimed 1 life and left ten injured, armed clashes in Baghdad between Ahl al-Haq and the Mahdi militia left 3 bystanders injured, a Tikrit attack left a woman wounded and her husband dead, an al-Dayyum sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left another injured, a roadside bombing ('southwest of Tikrit") left 1 Sahwa dead and four more injured, and a Baghdad bombing claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers and left two more injured.

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 "The Bitter Reality For Farm Workers" (New American Media):

Emiliano Lopez picks acorn squash in a field just outside of Fresno, in the San Joaquin Valley.

It's not right to work so hard, and not earn enough to support my family, but what can we do? We can't get a better paying job. We can't do anything else, that's why we work in the fields. But the owners are earning enough aren't they?
Some foremen treat us well, but others yell at workers and tell us to work faster. Some let us take our 15-minute breaks and others don't. Workers suffer a lot while we're working. If we don't work hard, then we're out of a job and can't pay the rent. If we don't work fast, we're fired for that too. It's the job we have. We feel bad when we're yelled at. We feel humiliated -- it's not right to be treated in that way. I sometimes feel like saying something because there is no need to yell at workers. But if I were to say something I would be out of a job.
My friends have seen workers faint because of the heat and lack of water. Sometimes the pesticides on the vine are transferred to the workers too. We suffer the consequences of working around these chemicals, but we don't know whom we can talk to about it.

The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley,, Tavis Smiley, Chocolate City, Cindy Sheehan and   -- updated last night and today:

  • The e-mail address for this site is

    I Hate The War

    You really have to wonder about how the press kids itself.

    They pretend they're informing the public.  They're not.

    That's partly due to incompetence, partly due to intent.

    Media consolidation always means less of a free press.  When dozens of daily newspapers don't exist and all the stations -- TV and radio -- are owned by a handful of people, it's means there's very little incentive to actually break news and safer to run with the pack.

    Breaking news means angering people.

    The ridiculous  Bill Moyers gave a speech a few years ago.  That's all he really does.  And there was Bill -- with that hideous hair, little four-year-old girls refuse to wear that hairstyle but there's Bill in snazzy little pageboy haircut.  And he was gabbing on about how the right-wing did this and did that and how the right-wing attacked reporters who reported.

    The right-wing?

    No, that's partisans on all sides.  LBJ's best little whore has a foot in the grave but still can't tell the truth.

    2013 has seen attack on so many including Jonathan Karl -- and that's just from the Cult of St. Barack.

    They attack and they lie.

    Just the same as the right-wing.

    Jonathan Karl made no mistake on air but they attacked because if the bully they think they get their way -- they also take marching orders and engage in group think which is why you don't see one site call Karl out, you see the collective (what an appropriate term) go after Karl.

    The 'left' doesn't want the truth anymore than the 'right' does.  Both are groups of whores who exist to put out for their political parties.  So Democratic whores pretend they want truth when Republicans are in the White House and scream and attack the press when Democrats are in the White House.  And vice versa.

    Let's quote from a letter today to the editors of a newspaper, where a little whore works through talking points -- including nonsense about 'job creation' but we won't include those lies:

    This president promised to end the unnecessary war in Iraq. He did. He promised to end the war in Afghanistan next year, and he will. He promised to contain Iran’s zest for nuclear weapons, and he is doing it – without a war. He promised to relentlessly track down Osama Bin Laden, and we all know what happened there.

    Did he end the war?  Someone forgot to tell Iraq.  Someone forgot to tell Barack.

    You damn well better believe if Bully Boy Bush were still in the White House and had sent (more) Special-Ops into Iraq in the fall of 2012 and Tim Arango (New York Times) had reported it -- as he did about Barack on September 25, 2012:

    Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.        

    It would have been all over the net.  Instead the many whores (the failing BuzzFlash for example) refuse to tell the truth.  Chris Hedges -- the 'independent' voice -- can't even tell truth. won't tell the truth.

    So when one of Barack's whores shows up to lie, they get away with it.

    For now.

    Not historically.  They won't get away there and they'll be revealed as the cheap whores they are.

    Not only did US forces not leave Iraq, the Iraq War did not end for the Iraqi people either.

    But expecting an Obama Whore to know that reality is expecting too much.

    You can only spread so many times, drop to all fours so many times, and still know what goes on in the rest of the world.

    The 'reality-based community' -- partisan Democratic whores -- stole their term from the reporting of Ron Suskind.

    They sure loved some Ron when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House.  But when Ron applied the same journalism to the current White House -- like vampires recoiling from the sun, how the whores did hiss.  Barack has run one of the most sexist administrations.

    And it's really too late for that to change.

    In part because alleged 'leaders' of the women's movement have refused to call him out or hold him accountable.

    Newsflash, gals, online petition asking that some centrist woman or neoliberal woman or closeted lesbian woman (who intends to hide in the closet should she be appointed) helps no one.  And it's really pathetic and insult to the power and glory of first wave and second wave feminism.  But there are no leaders among the 'leaders' of feminism.  You've got a bunch of silly women who were created by the media, not by the people, and who weren't around when the real work was done.  They co-opted the movement.  It happens all the time, happens to every movement.  A bunch of do-nothings, usually known from other fields, declare themselves leaders which really just means they police behavior.

    And that's not surprising because what does the partisan left do today?

    Police behavior.

    Bill Clinton was correct, Barack's a fairytale.  The larger sad truth is that the whole thing's a con.  Maybe some day the bulk of the American people will call out the con. Thus far, it's not happening.  And that's why we have the never-ending US wars continuing from Bully Boy to Barack.

    It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
    There's a war going on
    So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
    And I'm writing a song about war
    And it goes
    Na na na na na na na
    I hate the war
    Na na na na na na na
    I hate the war
    Na na na na na na na
    I hate the war
    Oh oh oh oh
    -- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

    The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4489.

    The e-mail address for this site is

    Brett McGurk talks Iraq

    November 13th,  the US State Dept's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq and Iran Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs testified to the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa.

    We covered his testimony in the November 13th "Iraq snapshot," the November 14th "Iraq snapshot" and in the November 15th  "Iraq snapshot."  

    A friend at the US State Dept wanted to know if we were ever going to ever include Brett McGurk's opening remarks in full?  Did I need a copy e-mailed?

    No, I was there.  Thanks though.

    For those who've forgotten, Brett McGurk was almost Barack's third ambassador to Iraq.  But he had a little scandal.  From June 7, 2012, this is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Standing Behind McGurk" from back in the days when the White House was insisting that they would stand behind Brett.

    standing behind mcgurk

    Stephen Beecroft became the US Ambassador to Iraq instead.   

    Brett was, of course, one of Bully Boy Bush's most treasured War Hawks during the days Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House.  When Barack couldn't get him named Ambassador to Iraq, he gave him the second best thing because Barack is all about the War Hawk, he's all up in it.

    Here's Brett McGurk's opening remarks from November 13th:

    Chairman [Ileana] Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Member [Ted] Deutch, and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for inviting me to discuss the situation in Iraq. 

    My testimony this afternoon will focus on our efforts to safeguard U.S. interests in this important country, bearing in mind our obligations to build on all that America has sacrificed over the past decade. It is in the memory of those lost that we continue to make every effort to move Iraq forward , and in line with U.S. interests. 

    The challenges are daunting. Internally and regionally, pressures continue to build , exacerbated by a resurgent terrorist network led by al Qaida's Iraq - based affiliate, now known publicly as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ( AQ/ ISIL). The next year in Iraq may be pivotal, particularly with national elections now set for April 30, 2014. 

    I look forward to working closely with this Subcommittee as we navigate this difficult terrain, and ensure that core U.S. interests are protected. Our policy in Iraq is focused on these core interests, and organized along the following five lines of effort: 

    1. Maintaining a unified and federal Iraq 
    2. Supporting increases in production and export of oil resources 
    3. Promoting Iraq’s strategic independence and regional integration 
    4. Countering the re-emergence of al Qaida in Iraq (AQI) 
    5. Supporting Iraq’s democratic institutions and trajectory 

    My testimony will review our efforts along these track, measuring progress from Secretary Kerry's March 24, 2013, visit to Baghdad. After that visit, the Secretary asked me to travel to Iraq, and I have made four trips since, with another planned for next week. 

    I hope to provide an overview of the situation as viewed from Washington, as well as on the ground in Iraq, where extraordinary diplomats, led by Ambassador [Stephen] Beecroft, are serving our nation with courage and distinction .

    This first line of effort is focused primarily on relations between Baghdad and Erbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR). As a recent study by the Rand Corporation notes, tension between Arabs and Kurds has long been identified as among the greatest drivers of instability in Iraq. Should these tensions ever lead to conflict, it would have dire consequences for U.S. interests in Iraq and throughout the region. Accordingly, we have worked for a decade to dampen potential flashpoints and develop political structures for dispute resolution, pursuant to the framework established in the Iraqi constitution. When the Secretary visited Iraq in March, tensions between the IKR and the central government in Baghdad were at a dangerous boil. Due to a series of disagreements over the Iraqi budget, and in the disputed boundary areas of northern Iraq, Kurdish ministers and parliamentarians were boycotting the central government, and its Peshmerga forces faced off against Iraqi Army units --  with both sides daring the other to open fire. 

    Fortunately, intensive diplomatic engagement led to a detente, with both sides pulling back and disputes returning to the political arena where they belong. On June 10 , Prime Minister Maliki visited Erbil for the first time in two years; then, on July 7, IKR President Barzani visited Baghdad, for the first time since late 2010.

    As a result of these visits, the IKR and the central government established seven joint committees with mandates to address the most difficult issues of federalism: security cooperation, revenue sharing, and balancing powers between the central and regional governments. Since then, there has been progress in the area of security cooperation, and we are working to facilitate serious discussions on revenue sharing, to help ensure that all Iraqis --  in all parts of Iraq --  benefit equitably from Iraq's national patrimony. This is the vision enshrined in the Iraqi constitution, and we believe it is critical to Iraq's long-term stability. These revenue sharing discussions may intensify in the weeks ahead, as the Iraqi cabinet, and then parliament, begin debate on a $150 billion national budget. 

    The U.S. will stand ready to work with all parties, as appropriate, to narrow areas of disagreement and build on areas of common ground. 

    Maintaining a united and federal Iraq --  and ensuring the predictability of global energy markets -- will require sound development and management of Iraq's abundant natural resources. 

    Iraq is estimated to have the fifth-largest proven oil reserves in the world. Last year, it surpassed Iran as OPEC's second-largest oil producer. It has also surpassed Iran as a leading exporter to India and China, which has been essential to enforcing robust international sanctions on Iranian oil exports, while also maintaining market stability. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Iraq may account for nearly half of anticipated growth in global oil output over the current decade, with revenues approaching $200 billion per year. 

    In short, Iraq's hydrocarbon sector is vital to U.S. interests in the region, and its development is essential to Iraq's long-term stability. 

    These shared interests have led to a close and ongoing partnership as to how Iraq can best manage its abundant resources to generate increasing revenues and align the interests of disparate groups in a unified and federal Iraq.   For example, four export platforms that came on line south of Basra in 2012 -- each with capacity to export 900,000 barrels per day -- were the result of joint efforts beginning in 2007 to address serious deficiencies in Iraq's infrastructure. 

    Today, U.S. policy is focused on a similarly ambitious -- and achievable -- vision: a strategic pipeline from the super giant oil fields in Basra (with 80 percent of Iraq's proven reserves) to the Haditha refinery in Anbar province; south west through Jordan to the Red Sea; and connected to the north , Turkey and the Mediterranean. These three export routes -- the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, and Mediterranean --  will build redundancy into Iraq's national export infrastructure, facilitate prosperity to all parts of the country, and align the interests of regional partners in a stable and prosperous Iraq. Coupled with this vision is a revenue sharing agreement to ensure that revenues are shared equitably, and, longer term, new legislation to manage the hydrocarbon sector and ensure legal predictability to market entrants.

    The United States wants to see Iraqi oil from all parts of the country -- north to south -- reaching global markets as soon as possible, and in a manner that reinforce s stability. Iraq today is producing 3 million barrels-per-day, but the IEA projects under its central scenario potential increases to 6 million barrels-per-day by 2020, and 8 million barrels-per-day by 2035, with revenues over this period approaching $5 trillion.

    The United States does not take sides in the internal disputes regarding the distribution of revenues and management of oil resources. Instead, we focus on the principles enshrined in the Iraqi constitution and the maxim that it is always better to peacefully divide a large pie than to fight over a small one. Thus, we are focused on increasing production and exports, overcoming the hurdles companies face when operating in Iraq, reducing bottlenecks, and lending technical ex pertise as appropriate under our Strategic Framework Agreement. These efforts will accelerate over the coming months, including with a joint coordination committee on energy cooperation early next year. 

    Regional tensions have a direct impact on Iraq's internal stability. Political blocs, leaders, and non-state entities, including militias and terrorist groups, often find external sponsorship and support. Iraq also shares a 400-mile border with Syria, and a 900-mile border with Iran, which, we learned from hard experience, can be difficult to control. 

    Tensions in recent years with Turkey, combined with lingering Gulf War era disputes with Kuwait, and lack of regular engagement with other Gulf Cooperation Council states, threatened to further isolate Iraq -- and thereby widen the door to nefarious influences from other neighbors. Beginning in March, the United States launched a quiet but active campaign to ease tensions with Turkey, settle accounts with Kuwait, strengthen ties to Jordan, and accelerate efforts to reintegrate Iraq with its Gulf neighbors.

    These efforts are important to bolstering Iraq's independence, and, when combined with economic and security initiatives, aligning its long-term interests to ours. These efforts have seen some success . 


    Iraq and Kuwait settled key accounts dating to the 1991 Gulf War, and in June the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to finalize a process to normalize relations between both countries. Two weeks ago, the Iraqi cabinet voted to open Kuwaiti consulates in Erbil and Basra. In April, t he United States began a trilateral process with Iraq and Turkey, focused on mutual interests.

    This week, Turkey's Foreign Minister visited Baghdad for the first time in two years, and both countries agreed to restore positive relations. Jordan and Iraq, with our support, are coordinating efforts to develop the pipeline project from Basra to Aqaba. In July, we began a strategic dialogue with Jordan, UAE, and Iraq, to focus on mutual interests, including security, energy, and economic interests. This group will convene again next week in Abu Dhabi, with the addition of Egypt. Iraq has also participated in recent regional military exercises, including the Eager Lion exercise in Jordan this past summer, and the international mine countermeasures exercise in Bahrain. 

    While these are positive steps, we continue to emphasize with Iraqi leaders that full re-integration with Gulf partners will be influenced by Iraq's stance on the conflict in Syria. Iraq has sought to retain independence, expressing concern from the beginning about global jihadist groups that operate in the western parts of Iraq and eastern Syria. While these concerns are legitimate, it is equally legitimate to question Iraq's independence given Iran's ongoing use of Iraqi airspace to re-supply the Asad regime. The frequency of flights is down since the Secretary's visit in March, but Iraq must do more to tighten its inspection procedures . We also remain watchful of Iranian efforts to use Iraq to circumvent international sanctions. 

    Iraq's independence, finally, can be strengthened through ties to the U.S. private sector. We are working to promote U.S. exports to Iraq and working with U.S. companies --  including Ford, Boeing, General Electric and Citibank --  doing business in Iraq . 

    On September 18, Iraq launched a $357 billion five-year National Development Plan, with projects identified across multiple sectors: energy, health, agriculture, education and transportation. The U.S. embassy provided technical advice for this program, and we hope where possible to match U.S. businesses with Iraqi development needs. This will be a key focus of  "Iraq Business Week" to be held here in February, with Iraq's Minister of Trade leading the Iraqi delegation. 

    Everything I have just mentioned depends on Iraq stemming the rising levels of violence seen over the past year.

    I was present in Iraq during the peak of the civil war in 2006 and 2007, and saw first-hand the devastating impact it had on Iraq's fragile social cohesion. The violence made politics and economic growth near impossible, as security became the first and only demand of the population. 

    To address the security situation, it is important to precisely diagnose the source of the most devastating attacks . Iraq since the 2003 invasion has never been peaceful.

    In 2011 and 2012, among the quietest years on record, there were 100 attacks per week, with 4,400 casualties per year. Nearly all of these attacks were perpetrated by terrorist groups, led by al Qaida in Iraq (AQI). AQI is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224 . 

    We believe Baghdadi fled to Syria last year , expanding AQI’s base of operation, and changing its name to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ( AQ/ ISIL).  Baghdadi early this year announced a campaign of terror against Iraq to include attacks against security services, government targets, and Shi'a civilians. In March, AQ/ ISIL launched a coordinated attack with five suicide bombers against the Iraqi Ministry of Justice building in Baghdad . In June, scores of well-trained and professional fighters assaulted the Abu Ghraib prison complex, freeing hundreds of inmates, including mid-level al Qaida leaders. Since then, we have seen upwards of 40 suicide bombers per month, targeting play grounds, mosques, and markets, in addition to government sites from Basra to Baghdad to Erbil. AQ/ ISIL has benefited from a permissive operating environment due to inherent weaknesses of Iraqi security forces, poor operational tactics, and popular grievances , which remain unaddressed, among the population in Anbar and Ninewa provinces. It has also benefited from a sanctuary across the porous border in Syria, control of lucrative facilities there, such as oil wells, and regular movement of weapons and fight ers between Syria and Iraq. The suicide bombers, we believe, are foreign fighters who travel to Syria to join AQ/ ISIL , and are then directed toward Iraq for operations. 

    We have defeated this enemy before, through a combination of devastating and relentless security operations, and mobilizing popular forces to isolate -- and in some instances, fight -- AQI networks. 

    Today, we are working with Iraqi political and security leaders to develop a similarly holistic approach . We are also emphasizing the urgency, as the targeting of civilians in recent months by AQ/ ISIL has given rise to dangerous calls to reconstitute Shi'a militias outside the control of the Iraqi government. Thus far, militia activity has been localized, but if suicide attacks continue, we are likely to see increasing calls for self-protection from local neighborhoods, and more room for militias to develop roots among the population. 

    While Iraqi security forces will never match what U.S. forces achieved at the height of the war, they have proven capable of conducting effective operations when provided sound intelligence. In recent months, Iraqi civilian and military leaders have increasingly looked to us for advice and information sharing. This is partly to ensure -- with pressure from us -- that operations are targeted and precise, to avoid detaining innocent civilians. We have made clear to Iraqi commanders that some of their tactics over the past six months have been self-defeating, and it is time to draw on the lessons that we learned together five years ago. 

    Among the central lessons was mobilizing the Sons of Iraq (SOI) to control the streets and work in coordination with government security forces. This was a regular topic during Prime Minister Maliki's meetings in Washington two wee ks ago, and he pledged to more than double the salaries of the SOI, to flush resources to areas where AQ/ ISIL is operating, and to ensure close and regular coordination between Iraqi security forces, local provincial councils, and tribal structures, particularly in Anbar and Ninewa provinces.

    In turn, we made clear to Maliki and other Iraqi leaders that the fight against terrorists and militias will require a holistic -- security, political, economic -- approach . We believe we now have a common roadmap for combatting this problem over the coming months, while anticipating inevitable setbacks. 

    We have also made clear to Iraqi leaders that they must make extra efforts to protect the residents at Camp Liberty in Baghdad, while also pressing the international community to help with this urgent humanitarian situation. 

    Finally, while security operations may not be the lead element of a holistic strategy against AQ/ ISIL , they remain essential. 

    In previous efforts with U.S. forces in the lead, we worked to ensure -- through targeted and relentless military operations -- that AQI could n ot establish a sanctuary or staging presence in Iraq. Today, we believe AQ/ ISIL is trying to establish camps and staging areas in Iraq's western border regions. Iraqi forces are work ing to target these camps. But they lack the equipment for relentless and effective operations in remote areas , and over the past few months, we have seen a number of unarmored helicopters shot by heavy machine guns, and pilots -- who we trained -- maimed and killed.

    By way of recent examples, on October 2, an unarmored helicopter providing support to ground troops on a mission against AQ/ ISIL targets was downed by heavy machine gun fire. Four crew members (2 pilots, 1 gunner, and 1 engineer) were killed. A week earlier, two unarmored reconnaissance helicopters providing over-watch for an ongoing operation were forced to land after being engaged by a concealed PKC machine gun. Based on our existing relationships with Iraqi pilots, reviews of operations have generally confirmed proficiency and adherence to rules of engagement.

    By working with Congress , we furth er believe that sales of U.S. equipment will strengthen a long-term strategic relationship with the Iraqi military --  th rough training, spare parts, joint exercises, logistics, and interoperability with U.S. forces and regional partners. 

    Time may not be on our side. Iraq has acute demands, money to supply those demands, and while it prefers U.S. equipment and the multi-decade relationship that comes with our foreign military sales program, strategic competitors are now lining up to meet Iraqi demands if we cannot deliver. Case in point is the delivery earlier this month of four Russian Mi - 35 attack helicopters. 

    We believe that it is in America's strategic interest to supply military systems to Iraq , as opposed to Russia or other competitors, and we look forward to working with Congress to address all outstanding questions with respect to foreign military sales . 

    Shortly after Prime Minister Maliki's return to Iraq last week, the parliament broke a deadlock to enact the law to govern national elections in 2014. These elections are now set for April 30, 2014. This will be the third election for a full-term national parliament, but the first since the departure of U.S. forces in 2011. Thus, it is a critical test of Iraq's democratic process, and we have made clear to all Iraqi contacts that the elections must be on time, well prepared, and designed to produce a genuine and credible result. 

    Our Embassy team is working closely with the United Nation s Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) to ensure preparations remain on track. Iraq earlier this year held provincial elections in 14 provinces, and parliamentary elections in the IKR . Results of these elections have shaken local power dynamics. 

    Prime Minister Maliki's State of Law coalition, for example, secured pluralities in Baghdad and Basra, but was then outmaneuvered in formation of local councils and lost governorships. 

    In the IKR, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) lost ground to the upstart Gorran party, which came in second behind the dominant Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), led by IKR President Massoud Barzani. 

    In the Sunni majority provinces of Ninewa and Anbar, provincial elections had been delayed due to security concerns. We were clear from the outset that this decision was unwise, and pushed to ensure the elections took place, which they did on June 20. The outcome led to a status quo in Ninewa, with the brother of Speaker Osama Nujaifi retaining the governorship; but new leaders emerged in  Anbar, and these new leaders, with our encouragement, are engaging the central government. 

    Prime Minister Maliki met the new Anbar Governor, Ahmad Khalaf al-Dulaimi, before traveling to Washington, and we expect to see additional meetings soon, with a focus on coordinating security and political efforts. 

    At the national level, we are engaged with political leaders, parties, and blocs, to facilitate progress in parliament on a package of laws that are necessary to address legitimate grievances of the Sunni community. 

    First in this package is ending once and for all the process known as "de-Ba'athification,"  which has grown so politicized that it now encourages the very forms of intolerance it was intended to root out. 

    We are encouraged by a law that passed the cabinet earlier this year with a time limit on the de-Ba'athification process, but the law has since stalled in parliament, and at present lacks support from any Shi'a or Kurdish blocs --  each of whom want to add measures to address the concerns of their own communities. 

    We will continue to encourage all sides to find a compromise to pass this important law, as we did most recently with respect to the election law. At the center of these efforts will be Prime Minister Maliki, who, as the leader of the country, has responsibility to govern inclusively, and to build bridges from his Shi’a constituency to Sunnis and Kurds, even where doing so might engender political risk and backlash. 

    For Iraq to progress, he must lead. There have been some encouraging signs at the national level, such as a 14-point Charter of Social Peace signed in September by leaders across the religious and political spectrum. This document, while symbolic, calls on its signatories to combat  "militias and terrorists and all dimensions" --  e.g., by addressing grievances that allow extremists to take root. It further calls on appropriate delegation of authority to provincial and local leaders, as well as arrangements to address the crimes of the Ba'ath Party, without impugning ordinary citizens who may have had tangential party connections. 

    It will take generations for Iraq to overcome its legacy of dictatorship, wars, and isolation. We must be realistic about what is achievable. At the same time, we must continue to press all sides to compromise on issues that continue to divide Iraq . Where the leaders come together, such as through the Social Peace accord , we will exert every effort to seize the opportunity and press for concrete outcomes. Where they remain apart, we will continue our efforts to narrow areas of disagreement. In the end, the Iraqi people will have an opportunity to hold their national leaders accountable with elections now less than six months away.

    Friday, November 29, 2013

    Iraq snapshot

    Friday, November 29, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue,  protests continue, corpses continue popping up in the streets of Iraq, ExxonMobil dumps a dingo dog with flease, AFP and Al Jazeera cover for Nouri and his security forces, and more.

  • It's Friday, protests have been taking place in Iraq since December 21st.  Iraqi Spring MC notes protests took place in Falluja (above),  Samarra, Jalawla, Tikrit, Baquba, among others.

    Earlier this week, NINA reported, "Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said that there will be a response to all legitimate demands of people of Anbar province which were been presented by the province delegation and its provincial council during the recent meeting with him."  More empty words from Nouri.

    Monday, Nickolav Mladenov, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative to Iraq and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq, addressed the United Nations Security Council.

    Nickolay Mladenov:  Protests continued in Anbar, Nineveh, Salah al-Din, Kirkuk and Diayala governorates in the form of unified Friday prayers.  Compared to the past reporting period, the protests assumed a lower profile, owning in part to increased attention to the protesters' demands by newly elected local administrations. Indeed, the Anbar Governorate Council elected Sabah Karhout, a member of the Arab Iraqiya party, as its chair, and Ahmed Khalif al-Dulaimi, a member of the Muttahidoun party, as Governor.  In Ninewa, the Governorate Council re-elected Atheel al-Nujaifi, a known supporter of the protestors and brother of the Speake of the Council of Representatives [Osama al-Nujaifi], as Governor.  On 5 October dialogue between the Government and the protestors resumed following a meeting between the Prime Minister [Nouri al-Maliki] and the Governor of Anbar, who was nominated by the demonstrators to represent their interests.  While the meeting was described as positive and fruitful by the Prime Minister's office, no progress has been announced to date in addressing the demonstrators' demands.  

    Nouri's empty words accomplish nothing.  It's 22 days away from one year of protests.  Nouri's refused to address the concerns of the protesters.  Despite repeatedly claiming he would.  (There was a minor for-show release of a limited number of innocents people held behind bars without charges.)

    Speaking to Patrick Cockburn (Independent) this week, cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr shared his thoughts on Nouri and the protests:

    Mr Sadr is particularly critical of the government’s handling of the Sunni minority, which lost power in 2003, implying they had been marginalised and their demands ignored. He thinks that the Iraqi government lost its chance to conciliate Sunni protesters in Iraq who started demonstrating last December, asking for greater civil rights and an end to persecution.
    “My personal opinion is that it is too late now to address these [Sunni] demands when the government, which is seen as a Shia government by the demonstrators, failed to meet their demands,” he said. Asked how ordinary Shia, who make up the great majority of the thousand people a month being killed by al-Qa’ida bombs, should react, Mr Sadr said: “They should understand that they are not being attacked by Sunnis. They are being attacked by extremists, they are being attacked by external powers.”

    It's amazing that, having passed the 11th month mark, the protests have received so very little attention from the western media.

    Via Iraqi Spring MC, here's more of what the western press ignored today.

    "اريد حقي، صرخة مدوية في سماء الحرية" الموحدة في مدينة

  • NINA quotes Anbar's Sheikh Mohammed Fayyad stating, "The citizens participated in the prayers that held in the courtyard northern Ramadi and eastern Fallujah cities , stressing that the goal of this trickle is to send one again a message to the governing in Baghdad that our demonstrations are peaceful and backed by citizens deep conviction."

    Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports 18 corpses, bullets in head, were found dumped in the town of Mishada.  BBC News adds the 18 were abducted from their homes hours prior to being dumped and that the kidnappers "were wearing police uniforms, according to eyewitnesses."  AFP offers, "The victims, all male, were taken on early Friday by men wearing military uniforms and driving around six SUVs, which looked like army vehicles. The victims' families were told that they were suspects in an official investigation and were being taken away for questioning, witnessed told AFP."

    AFP and Al Jazeera rush to name al Qaeada.

    It must be nice to be a crook in Iraq, the press always willing to cover for you, always willing to lie.

    They lied in 2006 as well.  Repeatedly.

    This is why the ethnic cleansing lasted two year -- media felt their job was to protect Nouri and his goons, even if Nouri and his goons were the ones doing the killings.

    One of the few to tell the truth was the human rights organization Human Rights Watch.  October 29, 2006 they issued a statement which opened:

    The Iraqi government must move quickly to prosecute all Ministry of Interior personnel responsible for “death squad” killings in Baghdad and elsewhere, Human Rights Watch said today.
    “Evidence suggests that Iraqi security forces are involved in these horrific crimes, and thus far the government has not held them accountable,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division. “The Iraqi government must stop giving protection to security forces responsible for abduction, torture and murder.”
    Every month, hundreds of people are abducted, tortured and killed by what many believe are death squads that include security forces. To terrorize the population, the killers often dump the mutilated corpses in public areas.

    Human Rights Watch welcomed the recent suspension from duties of the 8th Iraqi Police Unit pending an investigation into their complicity in abductions and killings. The US military has claimed that the unit was responsible for the October 1 kidnapping of 26 Sunni food factory workers in southwest Baghdad, 10 of whom were later found dead. The news agency Inter Press Service reported that the unit used Ministry of Interior vehicles and, according to witnesses, some wore black “death squad” uniforms.

    AFP and Al Jazeera cite police for the 'proof' that the culprits are al Qaeda.

    Neither damn outlet notes the reality that the police and the military -- all the security forces Nouri controls -- were active killing Iraqis as part of the ethnic cleansing from 2006 to 2007.  It's the same way they covered up the Ministry of Interior targeting and killing men suspected of being gay only a little while ago.

    Apparently truth telling and 'reporting' don't go hand in hand.

    Today, 18 people are pulled from their homes by people wearing security uniforms and driving security vehicles.

    AFP and Al Jazeera rush to tell you that it's al Qaeda.

    They have no proof.  They'll lie and whore -- because that's what the press does -- and insist that they're just including details to flesh out the 'reporting.'

    Those aren't details, those are accusations.  A detail?  That would be noting the long history Nouri's forces have for conducting 'extra-judicial' killings.

    Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times) reported in October 2006 on the response from Jawad Bolani to accusations that police forces were carrying out "sectarian death squad killings."  Daragahi noted:

    Few sectarian gang members who have been arrested were employees of the ministry, Bolani said. Often they worked for a separate Iraqi security force that guards government buildings, or are security guards at other ministries or for politicians. Some arrested have been linked to the Iraqi National Intelligence Service, he said.

    But AFP and Al Jazeera can't be bothered noting any of that.


    Because the Ministry of the Interior has a sterling reputation today and is run by . ..

    Oh, wait.  It's reputation is worse today than it was back then.  In addition, it has no minister heading it.  Nouri never nominated anyone to.  Nouri is the one overseeing it.

    So little suck-ass 'reporters'?  They hump Nouri's leg while whimpering and pretending that passes for reporting.

    We know it doesn't.

    We all know it doesn't.

    What it does do is demonstrate how biased AFP and Al Jazeera are, how they suck up to power and turn a blind eye to the suffering.

    But we already knew that, right?  Al Jazeera and AFP didn't say one damn word about today's massive protests.

    They ignore so very much.  The ignore that Nouri al-Maliki is supporting Shi'ite militias.  Tim Arango (New York Times) broke that story at the end of September:

    In supporting Asaib al-Haq, Mr. Maliki has apparently made the risky calculation that by backing some Shiite militias, even in secret, he can maintain control over the country’s restive Shiite population and, ultimately, retain power after the next national elections, which are scheduled for next year. Militiamen and residents of Shiite areas say members of Asaib al-Haq are given government badges and weapons and allowed freedom of movement by the security forces.

    Asaib al-Haq have badges and weapons supplied by Nouri.

    A Shi'ite death squad.

    Unnamed police 'sources'?  AFP and Al Jazeera run with it ignoring the fact that such sources are hardly unbiased.  While they include those sources, they ignore many others.  Here's one example.

  • : MP Ahmed al-Alwani accuses Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq of widespread targeting and killing of Sunni Arabs:

  • For the record, a member of Parliament?  Official source.  But not in Nouri's tent.  So  AFP and Al Jazeera feign ignorance.

    They are pretending, right?

    There's no way that two news outlets could be that ignorant, is there?

    Those weren't the only corpses popping up today.  NINA reports 3 female corpses were discovered in Baghdad with signs of torture.  NINA notes 7 corpses were discovered in Tikrit, Iraqi males who were working in Tikrit on the construction of Tikrit Stadium -- all seven were decapitated.  The heads were found elsewhere in the city -- 5 of which has been "filled with explosives."

    And those weren't the only deaths.  NINA reports another mayor has been killed, this time it was Mayor Sa'ad Ali Sheet by a Hamam Aleel sticky bombing.  Also?  A Baghdad livestock market bombing which claimed 1 life and left seven people injured, a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 Ministry of Environment employee, a Mousl rocket attack claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers,  a Kirkuk bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi military officer and left three soldiers injured, a Sadiya home invasion left 2 people dead, a southwest Baghdad bombing near a football field left 5 people dead and nine more injured, 2 Baghdad home invasions left 6 women and 1 man dead, and, dropping back to late Thursday, "Unidentified gunment killed six people, including an officer, and his wife, after setting an ambush south of Tirkit last night"

    Staying with violence, Monday, Iraq's Journalistic Freedoms Observatory has issued a release on Alaa Idwar (pictured below).

    alaa idwar

    The JFO noted that they hold military and security forces responsible for not providing security -- not providing security as journalists have faced increasing threats and violence in Mosul for the last two months.  They explained that armed forces -- who do not provide their identities -- have also prevented journalists from doing their jobs, interfering with the reporters efforts to report what is taking place.  They called for the federal government to conduct an investigation and to do so quickly.

    Of  Alaa Idhar's murder, they noted his death follows the murder of other journalists in Mosul.  He was shot three times -- once in the head, once in the stomach and once in the chest.  He wasn't far from his home when the attack took place. Alaa was 41-years-old and had begun his TV journalism career in 1999.  In later years, he added photography and frequently free lanced including for Al Jazeera.   The JFO noted that security forces found a "liquidation list" containing forty-four names, all of them journalists.

    Today Human Rights Watch issued a staement which included:

    Four journalists have been assassinated in Mosul, the capital of Iraq’s Ninewa Province, since early October 2013. Iraqisecurity officials have said they were investigating the killings, the most recent on November 24, but have not arrested or charged anyone in connection with the attacks.

    At the same time, Iraqi prosecutors have stepped up criminal prosecutions of journalists for defamation and have increased other harassment of journalists. Three journalists told Human Rights Watch in November that security forces arrested them and confiscated their equipment after they covered politically sensitive topics, such as poor security, corruption, and the government’s inadequate response to the needs of people affected by flooding. Another journalist told Human Rights Watch that police arrested him on charges of defamation, a crime in Iraq’s penal code, for an article accusing officials of corruption.

    “Journalists in Iraq face a double threat, from armed gangs gunning them down and prosecutors charging them, all because of what they write,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The recent spate of assassinations of journalists has had a chilling effect on journalists, who risk being prosecuted by the very authorities that are supposed to protect them.”

    Assassinations of Journalists
    The killings in Mosul have made October and November the deadliest two-month period this year for journalists. Iraqi authorities have released no information about the results of any pending investigations into the killings, nor announced any arrests. The killings follow years of targeted violence against journalists in Iraq. Since the start of protests in Iraq in February 2011 over widespread corruption and lack of services, journalists have faced escalating attacks and threats, including from members of the government’s security forces. According to the Baghdad-based Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, 48 journalists in Mosul have been killed in violence since 2003.

    In the latest killing, on November 24 unidentified assailants using automatic weapons shot and killed Alaa Edward Butros, a Christian journalist for al-Rashid television news service, as he sat in a coffee shop in the al-Majmua al-Thaqafeyya area north of Mosul. Gunmen shot and killed three other journalists in Mosul in October. Gunmen also killed two spokespersons for the Ninewa governor, Atheel Nujaifi, one in July and the other in October. Both had previously worked as journalists.

    The al-Mada Press news agency, citing a source in the Ninewa police department, reported that security forces had “opened an investigation to find out more details about the assassination and who did it.” So far neither security forces nor the media have provided a reason for the killing. Christians in Mosul are frequently the target of attacks by armed insurgent groups like al-Qaeda.

    Ninewa security forces made similar statements after the assassinations of the three other journalists in October, based on Mosul residents’ accounts to Human Rights Watch and local news reports. On October 5, gunmen shot Mohammed Karim al-Badrani, a television reporter working with al-Sharqiyya news service, and his cameraman, Mohammed al-Ghanem, in Mosul’s central al-Sarjakhaneh market when they were reporting on the neighborhood’s preparations for an upcoming religious holiday.

    On October 24, gunmen using a silencer shot Bashar Abdulqader Najm al-Nouaymi, a cameraman working with al-Mosuliya news agency, in Mosul’s Nabi Shayth neighborhood.

    On October 8, gunmen killed Saad Zaghloul, a spokesman for the Ninewa governor, in front of his home in Mosul’s al-Qadissiya neighborhood. In July, gunmen killed Nujaifi’s spokesman at the time, Qahtan Sami, then laid his corpse on the street while army officers looked on, accordingto a local news report.

    Nujaifi told local media that local security forces know the names of members of “a group that specializes in assassinations,” but that he believes the forces have deliberately not taken any action to investigate or prevent the assassinations. A local journalist told Human Rights Watch that according to information a government source provided him, security forces have a list of 44 journalists that armed groups in the area have targeted for assassinations.

    From the flowing of blood to the flowing of oil . . .

  • As long expected, ExxonMobil unloaded a dingo dog with fleas yesterday.  Global Times reported, "American energy company Exxon Mobil sold part of its controversial stake Thursday in a massive Iraqi oilfield to PetroChina and Indonesia's Pertamina amid a long-running row with Iraq's central government.  The sale of the stake in the West Qurna-1 field in south Iraq, one of the country's largest, marks a key step toward resolving the dispute with the central government over Exxon's contracts with the autonomous Kurdish region."  When ExxonMobil signed a deal with the KRG, Nouri and his flunkies stamped their feet in public, then Nouri said that the US government had said they'd stop the deal, then spokesperson for the US State Dept Victoria Nuland had to note the obvious:  the US government cannot force an oil company to do anything.  Iraq has a history of state-owned oil companies.  That's not the western model -- or the model the US government has repeatedly attempted to impose on Iraq since invading in 2003. Nouri didn't grasp that reality.

    Once he did, he began insisting that ExxonMobil couldn't have the KRG deal and the West Qurna deal.

    Nouri's an idiot.  The West Qurna field is seen as a dingo dog with flease.

    It was part of an embarrassing auction that Nouri's flunkies held and then re-held when the first one did so poorly.

    Multi-national oil corporations aren't thrilled with the deals themselves that Baghdad's offering nor are they impressed with the so-so quality of the fields being offered.

    By contrast, they feel the KRG provides better deals and has richer fields.

    The illegal war has brought nothing but misery to Iraq.  And yet US outlets don't feel compelled to cover what's taking place.  They certainly don't feel remorse over selling the illegal war.   Ali Mamouri (Al-Monitor) reports:

    Iraqi Justice Minister Hassan al-Shammari announced Oct. 23 that he had prepared a Sharia-based personal-status law and submitted it to the cabinet for approval and referral to the Council of Representatives for passage. Should the law be approved, Iraqi municipalities would be required to apply penalties that violate human rights, such as mutilation and stoning, among others.

    [. . .]
    Civil society movements have launched an extensive campaign in Iraq against the draft law for widely violating human rights, especially those of women and children. Mustafa Kazimi, an Iraqi human rights and democratic activist, wrote on his Facebook page, “This arbitrary and unjust law’s clear violations against the disadvantaged in situations such as granting legal license for parents to marry off girls who are under nine years old and boys who are under 15 years old is an offense against children and an exploitation of childhood. This draft law also considers that a husband provides nafaqah [housing, food and clothing] in return for the sexual pleasure provided to him by his wife. This is an obvious insult to women and a waste of dignity.”
    Attempts to impose Sharia in Iraq will likely lead to deeper sectarian divisions in the society, as religious views differ from one sect to another. Accordingly, there have been calls in some Sunni quarters to separate themselves from the Shiites and establish a Sunni state in their areas, in part because, they allege, the Shiites are moving toward the declaration of a Shiite state.

    In the week where a teacher slapped a young girl for not wearing a veil at a public school, Abbas Sarhan (Niqash) reports some good news for Iraqi women:

    Only a few years ago a woman driving on the streets of Karbala was an unusual sight, one that some considered indecent and odd. But this has changed a lot, with more women driving and more locals considering it acceptable. And despite the city’s conservative ways, local authorities are now sending their female staff to driver education courses.
    Local woman Ruqaya is proud that she was one of the first females, if not the first, to drive a car in the conservative Iraqi city of Karbala. She’s a school teacher and she was taking taxis to work every day. “This was costing almost one quarter of my salary,” she explained to NIQASH. “So I decided to buy a car. It was an old Daewoo and I bought it for US$3,000. In 2009, I sold it and bought a sportier model, a Kia.”
    That was in 2005. “It was strange to see a woman driving a car here,” she continues. “People often looked surprised or outraged when they saw it. And there were men who would make fun of female drivers and who made jokes about them.”
    Once when her car broke down, Ruqaya had to leave it next to a petrol station and she was jeered at by those who saw her predicament as she left the car.
    Karbala didn’t have any actual laws forbidding women from driving and, unlike in some Gulf States, there has never been a fatwa, or religious edict, issued that forbids women from driving. But in Karbala, which is a seat of religious learning and also the home to some of the most important sites in Shiite Islam, it was expected that citizens would abide by the “rules of decency” and avoid any “forbidden acts”. For many, this meant that women should not be behind the wheel of a car.
    However this has changed. “On the whole I think the people of Karbala are civilized in the way they deal with women drivers,” Ruqaya tells NIQASH. “And today there are dozens of women driving in the city. Some of them even drive to other provinces.”

    Monday, UNAMI issued the following:

    Baghdad, 25 November 2013 – On International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) today, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, used the opportunity to appeal to Iraqi leaders to “take concrete steps to enact and enforce laws which prevent and respond to gender-based violence (GBV), including holding perpetrators accountable, and to create a framework for better outcomes for women and communities.” 

    Acknowledging that a National Strategy on Combating Violence against Women for 2013-2017 had been endorsed in March 2013 by the Council of Ministers, the UN Envoy deplored that “violence still intersects with nearly every facet of women’s lives, including at home, at school, in the workplace and in society,” and called for a fundamental change in mindsets that have been allowing violence to continue. 
    “Violence against women is a human rights violation.  The scale and true nature of it is often hidden,” said Ms. Frances Guy, Representative of UN Women for Iraq. She highlighted the need for continuing action to eliminate violence against women, and for creating the appropriate framework that will enable women to enjoy physical safety as well as economic security. “It is crucial that all Iraqis support this important goal,” she stressed.
    Every year, 25 November and the ensuing 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence which follow – ending on 10 December, Human Rights Day – are commemorated around the world, providing individuals and groups a chance to mobilize and call attention to the urgent need to end violence against women and girls.