Friday, September 14, 2012







Al Mada reports that the Kurdistan Alliance is stating that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani will return next week and address the political problems plaguing the country while Kurdish MP Mahmoud Othman states that there is no will among the political blocs to resolve the ongoing crisis.  In March 2010, Iraq held parliamentary elections.  Nouri al-Maliki, thug and prime minister, was not pleased with the results which saw his State of Law slate come in second to the Ayad Allawi-led Iraqiya.  Furious that he was not allowed, per the Constitution, first crack at forming a government, Nouri through a public tantrum for eight months -- with the backing of the White House -- and this is known as Political Stalemate I.  It ends in November 2010 only as a result of the US-brokered Erbil Agreement. 
This contract was an agreement between the leaders of the various political blocs and it gave Nouri a second term as prime minister in exchange for his making various concessions.  Nouri used the contract to get his second term and then trashed the contract.  By the summer of 2011, Iraqiya, Moqtada al-Sadr and the Kurds were calling for a return to the Erbil Agreement and that's when the second political stalemate begins.  In December 2011, Nouri demands that Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi be arrested for 'terrorism' and that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his post (due to remarks al-Mutlaq made to CNN).  Both al-Hashemi and al-Mutlaq are members of Iraqiya and Sunni.  This move begins the political crisis. 
Numerous attempts at addressing the political crisis have thus far failed.  This includes Moqtada, KRG President Massoud Barzani and Ayad Allawi attempting to launch a no-confidence vote in Parliament.  That was deralied by Jalal Talabani before Talabani fled to Germany.  It may yet happen.  It also includes Jalal and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi's call for a National Conference to address the political crisis.  Nouri stalled and objected and, in the end, managed to kill it the day it was scheduled to start.  Talabani has returned to his call for a National Conference.
Nouri's being in charge hasn't brought safety to Iraq but has allowed him to demonstrate similarities to Saddam Hussein.  Like Iraq's former and now deceased leader, Nouri doesn't like freedom and doesn't really like people too much.  
Dropping back to the September 5th snapshot for Nouri and his thugs:

In other violence,  Alsumaria reports that armed forces in police uniforms attacked various social clubs in Baghdad yesterday, beating various people and firing guns in the air.  They swarmed clubs and refused to allow anyone to leave but did make time to beat people with the butss of their rifles and pistols, they then destroyed the clubs.  AFP adds, "Special forces units carried out near-simultaneous raids at around 8:00 pm (1700 GMT) on Tuesday 'at dozens of nightclubs in Karrada and Arasat, and beat up customers with the butts of their guns and batons,' said an interior ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity. 'Artists who were performing at the clubs were also beaten,' the official said."  The assaults were ordered by an official who reports only to Nouri al-Maliki. In related news the Great Iraqi Revolution posted video Friday of other attacks on Iraqi civilians by security forces and noted, "Very important :: a leaked video show Iraqi commandos during a raid to Baaj village and the arrest of all the young men in the village .they threatened the ppl of the village they will make them another Fallujah and they do not mind arresting all village's men and leave only women . they kept detainees in a school, and beating them, u can see they burned a car of one of the citizens"
September 6h, Alsumaria noted that Iraqiya, led by Ayad Allawi, has called out the assault on the social clubs and states that it is violation of the Constitution as well as basic human rights.  Iraqiya spokesperson Maysoun al-Damalouji called on the security forces to respect the rights of the citizens.  Tamim al-Jubouri (Al Mada) added that the forces working for Nouri attacked many clubs including Club Orient which was established in 1944 and that the patrons including Chrisitans who were surprised Tuesday night when Nouri's forces entered and began breaking furniture, beat patrons and employees and stole booze, cell phones and clothing.  So they're not only bullies, they're also theives.  Kitabat explained that the people were attacked with batons and gun butts including a number of musicians who were performing live in the club including singer Hussein Basri.  Alsumaria added that the Baghdad Provincial Council states that they were not informed of the assaults on social clubs.
Unexpected raids on Baghdad's bars, as well as beaten customers, shocked locals last week. But it's not just drinkers who are upset. Activists say it's the government's latest plan to curb personal freedoms while MPs pondering re-election in the mainly-Muslim nation haven't said a word.   
Last week, government security forces raided a number of clubs, bars and other establishments in Baghdad without warning, closing many of them by force that same night. The clubs seem to have been targeted both because they were selling alcohol and because they hosted known intellectual cliques. As a result, the attack has raised serious fears of an attack on personal freedoms and concerns that Islamic parties are trying impose their religious ideology on other Iraqis.
Although Iraq is a mainly Muslim nation and Islam forbids the consumption of alcohol, there are also diverse minorities in Iraq and many of these allow alcohol drinks; often members of these groups will be the ones that run bars or liquor stores.  
And on September 4, a number of clubs, bars and restaurants in the affluent Baghdad neighbourhoods of Karrada and Arasat were raided. Many of the patrons on the night – and this included members of the security forces and other officials – were injured or beaten as a result.
 One eyewitness told NIQASH that the raiders had been violent. "They were brutal," he said. "They entered and told us all to get out immediately. They then went around smashing everything up, including tables and chairs. And then those who were guarding the entrance started beating the people who were trying to leave with sticks and their rifle butts."
Ahmed al-Utabi, a well-known poet, was at the Writer's Union Club when it was stormed by security forces. "At first, we thought there was a bomb or an explosive device inside the club and that was why the security forces asked us to leave," al-Utabi said. "Then we were really surprised to see them smashing everything up inside the club."
In addition, Nouri has overseen the targeting of Iraq's LGBT community.  This week, BBC kicked off a look at the persecution of Iraq's gay community.  Natalia Antelava, Peter Murtaugh, Bill McKenna and Daniel Nasaw's investigative report is the cornerstone of that coverage.  Excerpt:
Natalia Antelava: In a tiny stuffy room, Ahmed, Nancy and Allou are hiding from their families and the police.  All three have received death threats.  Ahmed has not left this room for over two months now. 
Ahmed: I came here because I was gay and I was threatened by my family -- my immediate family -- and some unknown guys from my neighborhood.  The situation a few years ago was very bad.  But at that time, they did not pay any attention to gays.  Now they have nothing to do but look for gays -- to kill them.
Allou: The threat is much bigger now than before.  It's not only the militias now.  It's the police, the government who are going after us.
Natalia Antelava: I really wish we could show you their faces.  Ahmed's got big, dark, worried eyes on his thin face.  Nancy's really pretty and I would have never guessed that she was born male.  And Allou's got this very trendy haircut which would be completely normal in the West but here in Iraq, this sort of hair could get you killed.  Nancy is especially vulnerable in Iraq.  Born a transgender, she dreams of a sex change operation but it is impossible to have it done in Iraq, she says, and she has no way of leaving the country.
Nancy: My mom tried to persuade me to act like a man because I am supposed to be a man   I couldn't.  She didn't know what was inside me.  She couldn't understand that.  I can't tell you how many times I've been raped at checkpoints -- with the police, it's countless.  The worst incident was at a checkpoint on Al Sadun street.  They asked me for my ID, then asked me to get out of the car.  It was dark.  They put me against the blast wall.  Nine of them raped me.   There was nothing I could do.  If I had resisted, they would have arrested me.
Natalia Antelava:  If you could have anything that you wanted, what kind of life would you want to have?
Nancy: I want to live the life I want.  I want to be a woman and to be treated like one.  I am a human being and this is my right.
Natalia Antelava:  It's not just transgender, Allou had been raped too.   And I heard many other similar stories -- gay men, with even a slightly feminine appearance say they're often raped by police at checkpoints.
Allou:  I am so tired, so sad.  I have no freedom.  I can't say that I am gay.  I can't live my life.  I can't go home.  I have to stay here doing nothing and just wait.
[. . .]
Natalia Antelava:  Radical milita groups are believed to be behind this hit list.  Although officially they've been disbanded, militias still pose the greatest threat to homosexuals. But those we spoke to say that they're just as fearful of countless police and military checkpoints that are supposed to be making Baghdad safe.  This checkpoint is manned by the Interior Ministry troops.  But in Iraq, one's uniform never tells you the full story.   In this country, you can be a police man by day, a militia man by night.  These blurred lines and mixed allegiances have made it easy for the government to blame militia groups for the killings of gays. But we've discovered evidence that directly links the police with attacks on gays in Iraq. Qais is gay and a former police man. He told me he had been ordered to go after homosexuals.  He couldn't refuse and so he quit his job.
Qais: In 2006, 2007 and 2008, we were busy fighting terrorsm.  We didn't pay attention to gays.  On top of it, the Iraqi government had to respect the rule of law when the Americans and the British were here.  But now?  They have a lot of free time and the police are going after gays.
Natalia Antelava:  Have you ever been called to arrest gays or kill gays or go after gays in any way?
Qais:  Yes, twice.  We had to arrest this guy.  He was having an argument with someone.  Once they arrested him, they accused him of being gay. We were told to send him to another town where he was wanted for being gay.  We sent him to that town and he disappeared.  His family came to ask about him and we sent them to another town where they could not find him. Then they got a death certificate from the police but they never got the body.
Natalia Antelava:  With so much secrecy, fear and loathing, it's difficult to establish the exact level of the government's involvement in the persecution. But 17 gay men interviewed for this investigation said they believed they were being singled out and hunted by the state. 
And they are right to feel that way, the government is often behind it, Nouri is often behind it.
For example, in March of this year, the world's attention turned to the attacks on Iraqi youth -- Emo kids and gay Iraqis -- and those suspected of being both or either.
Who gave the orders for that targeting?
The Ministry of Interior.  They put it on paper.
Nouri is the head of the Ministry of the Interior.
He refused to nominate anyone to that post or any of the security posts.  He is in charge of the Ministry of the Interior.  It was Ministry of Interior forces that did the targeting, it was those forces that went into schools to talk up the 'threat' these young people posed.  Nouri was responsible. 
Iraqi LGBT's Ali Hilli writes about the persecution of the LGBT community in Iraq for the BBC:

Members of our organisation and the gay men and women we interviewed have said consistently that, under arrest, they have been forced to give names and addresses of other homosexuals or suspected homosexuals.Taken together, this is why we believe the Ministry of the Interior tracks sexual minorities with the aim of eliminating them.
Iraq LGBT is based in London, and it has become increasingly dangerous for us to operate inside Iraq. But we have been trying.

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