Saturday, June 02, 2012



The Jobs Report





Like a nightmare version of Charlie's Angels, Ammar al-Hakim, Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Nouri al-Maliki stood side by side to announce their solidarity.  Alsumaria reports that the head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, the head of the National Alliance and the Prime minister of Iraq met to discuss the latest political developments in Iraq and how to address them.  Al Rafidayn has an article where Ammar's dropping terms like "sin" and "big sin" and talking about "the street" and it all sounds like a lover in the grip of passion.
So let flow the hydrants
And we'll dance in the spray
And we'll wash out all our dirty laundry
In the alleyway
Put your love out in the street
Put your love out in the street
Put your love out in the street
Put your love
Out in the street tonight
-- "Love Out In The Street," written by Carly Simon, first appears on her Playing Possum
While Ammar de amour works himself into a frenzy, Kitabat reports that Moqtada al-Sadr's followers have rejected the notion that chaos follows a no-confidence vote in Nouri.
KENYON: On paper it looks like a serious threat to Maliki's rule. But if you ask the prime minister's supporters about a no confidence motion, they tend to laugh and say bring it on.
SAAD MUTTALIBI: Oh, definitely. Just go ahead. You know, we will sit there and laugh at the puny numbers that you will gain in the parliament.
KENYON: Businessman and Maliki backer Saad Muttalibi says those who have actually tried to add up the votes say the opposition is well short at the moment. He says pro-Maliki forces are mounting a counterattack, collecting votes for a no confidence motion against the anti-Maliki speaker of the parliament. And Muttalibi says Sadr is jeopardizing his future in the governing National Alliance by cozying up to the Kurds and Sunnis.
It's great that NPR had time for bitchy but exactly when did they intend to explain the political crisis to listeners?
They are aware that they never did that, right?
That never once in the report did they mention the Erbil Agreement or the 2010 elections or anything of real substance.  But, hey, we got a bitchy supporter of Nouri's and didn't that make everything worthwhile?
Earlier this year,   Marina Ottaway and Danial Kaysi's [PDF format warning] "The State Of Iraq"  (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace) reviewed events and noted:

Within days of the official ceremonies marking the end of the U.S. mission in Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki moved to indict Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi on terrorism charges and sought to remove Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq from his position, triggering a major political crisis that fully revealed Iraq as an unstable, undemocractic country governed by raw competition for power and barely affected by institutional arrangements.  Large-scale violence immediately flared up again, with a series of terrorist attacks against mostly Shi'i targets reminiscent of the worst days of 2006.
But there is more to the crisis than an escalation of violence.  The tenuous political agreement among parties and factions reached at the end of 2010 has collapsed.  The government of national unity has stopped functioning, and provinces that want to become regions with autonomous power comparable to Kurdistan's are putting increasing pressure on the central government.  Unless a new political agreement is reached soon, Iraq may plunge into civil war or split apart.

The agreement was the Erbil Agreement.  March 7, 2010, Iraq held parliamentary elections.  Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya came in first ahead of Nouri's State of Law.  Nouri refused to give up the post of prime minister.  What followed were eight months of political stalemate.  The White House and the Iranian government were backing Nouri so he knew he could dig in his heels and did just that.  Finally, in November, the US-brokered Erbil Agreement was reached.  Nouri could have a second term as prime minister provided he made concessions on other issues.

Nouri used the agreement to get his second term and then trashed the agreement refusing to honor it.  Until last week, he and his supporters had taken to (wrongly) calling the agreement unconstitutional.  And though the KRG, Iraqiya and Moqtada al-Sadr have been calling for the Erbil Agreement to be fully implemented since summer 2011, it took last month for State of Law to finally discover that themselves loved the Erbil Agreement.  Needless to say, the sudden attraction to the deal is seen as mere lip service especially when Nouri refused to implement it.
In violence Al Rafidayn notes that 1 traffice police officer was shot dead in Mosul as was his driver.  In addition, Alsumaria notes a captain in the Ministry of Interior's intelligence division was shot dead in Falluja today.  AFP adds a Baghdad roadside bombing targeting a market claimed 1 life and left three more people injured and 1 police colonel was shot dead in Baghdad.
This week the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) released "Report on Human Rights in Iraq: 2011."   In Wednesday's snapshot we noted the highly superficial section on Iraq's LGBTs.  The report does a better job with the issue of the rights of Iraqi women.  That section opens with:
UNAMI continues to monitor the status and rights of women in Iraq, including gender based violence such as so-called 'honour' crimes, trafficking and domestic violence.  Due to the security situation, UNAMI is uanble to collect first hand data on the situation of women in some parts of Iraq outside of the Kurdistan Region.
Grasp that.  'Violence is down!!!!'  We hear that stupidity over and over from the press.  No, it's not really down.  2006 and 2007 were years of ethnic cleansing -- encouraged and (I would say) aided by the US government.  Those death figures are huge.  I'm not really sure why the years of ethnic cleansing are treated as natural or normal figures with which to compare everything to?  Iraq remains violent.  And UNAMI tells us that it's so violent that they can't even collect basic data. 
But the press moved on, didn't they?  They press that largely mocked, ridiculed or ignored war resisters fled Iraq.  There's the US wire service AP.  There's the New York Times staff.  There's Jane Arraf. There's the Wall St. Journal (led by Sam Dagher).  There's CNN. That's it.  Imagine if that was it in 2002 and 2003?  If that were it in those years, only those outlets and the others ignored Iraq, it would have been so much more difficult to sell the illegal war to the American public (a public with a significant amount of resistance even at the start).
Valerie Gauriat:  We're in Iraq this month to meet women in Baghdad, Najaf and Iraqi Kurdistan who are fighting their own kind of war.  A human rights activist, two war widwos and a female soldier to regain the rights Iraqi women have lost.  Every month in Women and War we bring you the stories of women who are fighting across the world.
And Iraqi women have lost so much due to the Iraq War.  They've lost husbands and fathers and sons and brothers and uncles and mothers and daughters and sisters and aunts.  They've lost friends.  Most of all, they've gone from  living in one of the most advanced Middle East nation-states for women to a country where they have to regularly fight for basic dignities.  And fight they do.  They know what's at stake and they know the US government isn't helping them, has never helped them.  The  US State Dept's Anne C. Richard writes with all the enthusiasm that historical ignorance and optimism can provide.  We'll note this from her post today at the State Dept blog about her new job working with Iraqis:

Estimates of the numbers of widows in Iraq range from 750,000 to 1.5 million, or between 2.4 percent and 5 percent of the population -- no one knows for sure as there has not been a recent census. In Iraqi society, women traditionally do not work outside of the home. However, the women at this site emphasized that they needed jobs to provide for their children.
Iraq remains a dangerous place and our visit was not announced in advance but the visit was eye opening and well worth the effort it takes to get out and meet ordinary Iraqis.
Later, I raised the plight of the widows with senior Iraqi officials. They were determined to make progress on housing issues and acknowledged problems with registrations -- although they also expressed concerns about the squatters occupying government land.
We'll continue to follow Anne C. Richard's posts.  She's got energy and optimism and her ability to either ignore or not learn what came before may allow her to pull off some small miracles.  I wish her the best because Iraqi women could use a miracle or two.  But the issue of the widows, their plight, that's been raised with the Iraqi government for years now.  There's been no significant improvement or real plans from the government.  At one point they were suggesting that the answer was for the widows to remarry. 
The illegal war did not help Iraqi women nor has their government made any real strides on their own to help Iraqi women.  Last month the Interfaith Council for Peace & Justice explained:
But for Iraqi citizens, especially women, the ongoing violence caused by the U.S. invasion is not the only consequence that has become part of the everyday struggle to rebuild their country. Before the U.S. invasion, 75% of Iraqi women had college degrees, and 31% of Iraqi women had graduate degrees (compared to 35% of European and U.S. women). Only 10% of women in Iraq now continue to work in their professions, and they have to contend with the thousands of more experience and better-educated Iraqi women who fled Iraq at the onset of the war and are now returning. However most women stay away from their work, schools, and universities due to extreme safety concerns: Since the beginning of the war, rates of abductions and kidnappings targeting women and girls, most often related to sex trafficking, female suicides and honor killings have increased.
It was beneficial to the US government's aims to scare the Iraqi people into submission.  It would be easier to push through various policies and programs on a people too scared to fight back.  So the US backed thugs, turned their heads the other way not just to looting but to rape and so much more.  And Iraqi women could have thrown in the towel and said, "Forget it, my safety is what's most important."  Instead, these brave women regularly take to the streets and protest for their rights.  Even since Nouri's squad of thugs began beating protesters and arresting them and torturing them in custody, Iraqi women refuse to hide and refuse to give up on their country or let Iraq be turned into something that they're no longer a part of.  The US shut the women out of the process from the start.  They had to take to the streets when the US was writing their rights out of Iraq's new Constitution (in 2005) and they've done that during the continued violence and during the periods of the most violence.  Last month, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Iraq noted:
The rights of women in post war Iraq is clear following reports that they are victims of human trafficking to and fro Iraq and even within the outskirts of the cities with cases of forced prostitution. Women are trafficked from Southern Iraq and transported to the Gulf States by rich cartels who promise to marry them and give them a good life only to use the as servants and sex workers in their well-managed deals.
Most of the 'unveiled' women in Iraq have had their rights violated. There are groups that are making it hard for this woman to have freedom in and around Iraq and creating an atmosphere where they are intimidated. For instance, Fatwas encourages the crowd to throw rotten eggs and tomatoes to any woman around the streets who passes by without a veil. This has made it hard for the professional Iraqi woman to work or get education unless they wear the hijab.
It has to be noted that Islamic leaders from the Shi'ite and the Sunni have strong condemnation against women in Iraq without the hijab, this means trouble for the rights of women in Iraq. Since the war started, the Iraqi women have been attacked, kidnapped and even intimidated in a way that bars them from participating in any role with the society.