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Iraq snapshot - November 21, 2013

The Common Ills

Thursday, November 21, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, the floods continue, John Wright's simplistic 'answers' are damaging, Anonymous has a video, and more.

Did you hear about those awful Gittes?

Those people are just evil.  They just want to take over the world.  The whole region would be better off without them.


Thank goodness, we know that they are inherently evil, right?


Now we know the cause of all the violence.


And since it's just those damn Gittes, there's no reason to look to what anyone else is doing wrong, certainly not a government.


It's just those Gittes, they have death and destruction on the brain -- it's in their blood.


So now that we know the problem we just have to figure out if we're going to arrest them all or just kill 'em?  Hunt em down, exterminate them, right?

There are no Gittes.

The above is stated for a reason (and Gittes because I had Chinatown on the brain -- script by Robert Towne and Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway star with Jack Nicholson playing private investigator JJ Gittes).

For the second day in a row, RT has allowed John Wright to blame Sunnis for the violence in the Middle East including Iraq.

How stupid or hateful is he?

Does he even know what the situation is in Syria?

But Wright tells you the problem is Sunnis.  Sometimes he says "Sunni fundamentalists."

There are some Sunnis who do resort to violence - -they're not the only group in the rgion that does -- and it apparently is 'cute' to call them "fundamentalists."  But 'cute' or not, that's also inaccurate.  Fundemantalists are one thing -- in any religion, in any area.  They take their religion very seriously.  Doing so means they don't usually resort to violence.  In the US, we have some religious fundamentalists who are opposed to this or that.  Religious fundamentalist in the US do not, for example, kill abortion doctors.  The ones who do that are extremists or fanatics; however, they aren't really "fundamentalists."  Fundamentalists would take to prayer not to bombing an abortion clinic.

Fundamentalists are different than I am.  I live a secular life with modern toys and amusements.  But they're being different from me -- or me being different from them -- doesn't give me the right to misdescribe them.  And pay really close attention here because this is the part that effects all of humanity:  When you hold up violence as a form of religious fundamentalism?

The grown ups who are fundamentalists blow you off.  They know better.

They know that they have strict observance of their faith and that's what makes them fundamentalists.

Kids?

Kids are always trying to make sense of the world and figure out where they fit in -- that is what growing ups about.  So you take a confused kid with religious leanings -- especially one shocked by some new development or modernity -- and you raise him -- via the media -- to believe that religious fundamentalism -- strict observance of your faith -- means bombing and killing people?

You've just created a generation of people who now believe this is how you express your faith.

That's especially likely in Iraq where there are so many orphans as a result of the illegal war.  In November of last year, Caroline Hawley (BBC News) reported "that between 800,000 to a million Iraqi children have lost one or both of their parents."  That's a huge number.  It's also probably an undercount -- 4.5 million is probably closer to reality., the Iraqi Orphan Foundation estimates the number to be 3 million and, at the start of 2009, Timothy Williams (New York Times) reported 740,000 widows in Iraq -- not all widows have children or children under the age of 18 but there are a huge number of orphans in Iraq without any parent and that was 2009.  The violence hasn't ceased since 2009 and, in fact, it has picked up.  Regardless of whether the number is four million or one million, that's a huge number -- especially in Iraq where the population is estimated.

The teenage years are fraught with confusion -- bodies change, hormones rage, you're still a child but confronted with adult situations.  For some teenagers, that period can be one where they find salvation in religion or retreat deeply into it, however you want to see it.  Do you really want to create the message for this group of children that bombing and shooting -- killing -- is religious fundamentalism?

John Wright's uninformed and ugly stereotype is not only false, it is highly damaging.

But it is false as well.

By blaming Sunnis for the problems in Iraq, Wright's able to ignore so much including how Nouri al-Maliki fuels the violence.

The mass arrests of Sunnis fuel the violence.  Monday, for example, 85 people were rounded up in Wasit Province alone.  The mass arrests would be disturbing in any country.

They're especially disturbing in Iraq.

There is no speedy justice.  People linger in jails, detention centers and prisons with the no court appearance and, in fact, often with no charges brought against them.

Some held in prisons, jails and detention centers can't be charged.  They were arrested but they were arrested for no real reason. They aren't  even suspects.  But, in Iraq, when you can't find the suspect, you're allowed to arrest their wives or mothers or siblings or fathers or children or grandparents.

They're rounded up and arrested with no one believing they broke a law.  They're arrested, taken from their homes and thrown behind bars because they're related to a suspect.

The disappeared (into the 'legal system') are among the issues fueling the ongoing protests.  As Mayada Al-Askari (Gulf News) observed Monday,  "In the past two years, demonstrations have increased in Baghdad and other governorates as people have been calling for better services, the release of women detainees and more civil rights."

Now if the problem is just these 'bad' Sunnis, as John Wright keeps insisting, then we don't have to worry about what Nouri's doing, we don't have to worry about a minority population being disenfranchised.

Let's drop back to the October 4th snapshot:


Protests took place today.   Iraqi Spring MC notes protests took place in Baghdad, in TikritNajafRamadi, FallujaSamarra, Baquba, Balad RuzJalawla, among other sites.   Protests have been taking place non-stop since December 21st.   Of today's protests, NINA notes:


Preachers of Friday-prayers called on the sit-inner in their sermons to continue the sit-ins as are the only way to get rid of injustice and abuse policy.
They said in the common prayer which held in six regions of Diyala province : " Iraqi government must not deal with the demands of the protestors in a double standard . Urging worshipers to unify their stand until getting the demands, release innocent prisoners and detainees from prisons.


Kitabat reports that Sheikh Mohammed al-Dulaimi spoke at the Falluja protest and accused the government of supporting militias who target and kill Sunnis.  The Sheikh said that instead of implementing the demands of the protesters, the government would rather target or ignore the protesters.  National Iraqi News offers the Sheikh said, ""The Iraqi government rather than implement the demands of the protesters and adopt genuine reconciliation with people, it tracking and embarrassing the protest leaders, since 9 Months ago claimants the usurped legal rights."

Sheikh Mohammed al-Dulaimi is correct in his accusation:  Nouri al-Maliki (prime minister and chief thug of Iraq) is supporting Shi'ite militias.  Tim Arango (New York Times) broke that story last week -- but somehow the US Congress and the rest of the media missed it.  (The media may be playing dumb.  Members of Congress actually missed it, I spoke with several yesterday about Tim Arango's report.)   Arango noted:





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 countryĺs 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.


So in addition to all the other targeting, they're also being targeted by Shi'ite militias and these are government sanctioned militias -- armed and outfitted by Nouri al-Maliki.

But don't worry about that.

That doesn't matter.

Remember, John Wright knows the problem: It's the Sunnis.  That's the only problem.  So there's no need to reform the government or to examine how all of this effects Iraq, 

John Wright's xenophobia and ugly stereotypes are not helping anyone.


National Iraqi News Agency reports:


Security source told NINA that SWAT force raided the house of Hijra Mosque's Imam and Preacher, Salam Selbi al-Fahdawi, taking him to a security center.For its part, the Association of Moslem Scholars said that it will close on Friday all of the province's mosques protesting the arrests being practiced by security forces against the province's dignitaries and mosques imams and preachers, including Thursday's arrest, and that demonstration will follow the closure of mosques to protest the arrests and demanding the release of detainees.

You think that's gong to calm the violence?  Or the arrest in Ramadi of former army officer Ahmed al-Dulaimi?

Monday came news that 12 more people were executed.  Iraq was in the top three countries for numbers of executions last year with 130 executions.  This year there have already been at least 144 executions.  Ammar Karim (AFP) observed, "The growing use of the death penalty comes with violence in Iraq at a level not seen since 2008, when the country was just emerging from a brutal sectarian conflict."

And the violence just continues.   Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports that an al-Sadiya suicide car bombing has caused multiple deaths and injuries. Sinan Salaheddin (AP) counts 38 dead and forty-five injured.  National Iraqi News Agency reports Sheikh Mohammed Homadi was assassinated in Mosul, a western Baghdad car bombing claimed 6 lives and left fourteen people injured, a Qa'im bombing left two Iraqi soldiers injured, a Mosul bombing near a hotel left seven people injured, a northern Baghdad bombing claimed 1 life and left five people injured, a northern Baghdad suicide bombing targeting a military checkpoint left 3 Iraqi soldiers dead and six injured, 2 people were shot dead inside a Baghdad food store, 1 Peshmerga was shot dead in Mosul, a Baquba roadside bombing left one person injured, a Mousl armed clash left 2 police members killed and two more injured, a Khanaqin car bombing claimed 4 lives and left ten people injured, and a suspect -- in the Wednesday murder of Tharwat Moahmed Rachid (Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's chief body guard) -- was shot dead in Sulaimaniyah Province.

Iraq Body Count notes that, through Wednesday, there have been 503 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month and over 7,800 for the year so far.   AFP's Prashant Rao Tweets:


  • With today's attacks in Iraq, the death toll this month has topped 400 for an eighth consecutive month - tally:


  • AFP reports on the flooding in Iraq and notes protests over inadequate public services:

    "What is happening is because of the government," said Ali Hussein, a protester in Nasiriyah.

    "There must be real measures taken after what has happened. They should take things seriously, as the conditions here are really bad."
    Six people died in building collapses caused by flooding in Nasiriyah, while two women and a child were killed in similar circumstances in Diwaniyah.
    In Babil province, south of Baghdad, two children died as a result of collapsing buildings, while more than 50 families had to take shelter at a tourist resort after their houses flooded.

    As we've already noted this week, Iraq's now in the rainy season.  This is not surprising, it happens every year.  It is surprising that Nouri has refused to improve the public services.

    Iraq's sewage civil system last had major work in the 1970s.  Despite bringing in over 100 billion yearly for oil, Nouri won't spend money to fix things. Last December, he announced he would fix the public sewage system.

    And then, he didn't.

    Which is Nouri's pattern.

    Without a working sewage system, the heavy rains do not drain, they stand in the streets and that's why most of the flooding is taking place.

    That's on Nouri and no one else.


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