Monday, June 24, 2013









Yesterday, Anbar Province and Diyala province were finally allowed to vote (after being prevented by Nouri al-Maliki from voting in April).  Today we get outlets telling us that 'good for Anbar' but Nineveh's below the national average.  No, no, no.  Quit being a liar, quit making false comparisons.  Baghdad is the only comparison due to levels of violence.  From yesterday's snapshot:

Despite all of that and much more, it appears the voting in Anbar and Nineveh was successful today.  Alsumaria reports that the Independent High Electoral Commission states 37.5% of registered voters turned out in Nineveh and that 49.5% turned out in Anbar.  Alsumaria notes that UNHCR assisted with the elections and were at polling places.  At five o'clock, when voting was scheduled to end, UNHCR checked to make sure that all voters were out of the polling stations and then locked the doors and, with IHEC, secured the ballot boxes.  All Iraq News notes that IHEC's Electoral Office head Muqdad al-Shiriefi declared in a Baghdad press conference this evening, "There are no violations in the PCs elections of the provinces."  NINA reports that the Mottahidoon Coalition issued a statement declaring the high rate of turnout in the two provinces was an indication that the protesters, who "have suffered various severe conditions in order to get their demands and recover their usurped rights," believe in their democratic rights.

No violations, no accusations. How different it is in Anbar and Nineveh -- another detail the 'working' press forgot to note.  Now what was the turnout in the province of Baghdad -- the only comparable province in terms of violence?  After the elections in April,  Matt Bradley (Wall St. Journal) reported:

Only slightly more than 50% of eligible Iraqi voters participated in provincial elections on Saturday, a far cry from the 72% turnout for the latest such elections, in 2009, according to Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission. In Iraq's capital, turnout slipped to 33%, the commission said.

 Only 33% of voters turned out in Baghdad.  I don't know -- problem with the official numbers -- what's going on but just FYI, we're sticking to percentages and will stay with that.  What's the problem?  IHEC's statements don't add up.  Not when they're dealing with solid numbers of voters.  Run the numbers, I just did after I stopped and thought about what IHEC said of the 12 provinces total for the April 20th election.  (That was 50% so double it.)  When you add that, the KRG population (I'm using CIA population figures -- which are estimates and I'm even using the 2012 which is lower than this year's) and include the numbers for Anbar and Nineveh and then add estimates for Kirkuk (CIA), the CIA population in Iraq is not matching IHEC numbers, IHEC is grossly undercounting or the CIA has been wildly off the mark for years now.  So we're sticking to percentages but if someone ever adds the numbers (supplied by IHEC) and tries to figure out the population, don't complain to me, I just ran the numbers and I see the problem too.

So Baghdad had 33% turnout.  But let's explain that further because the press didn't use Baghad or bother to explain April 20th turnout.  Again, from yesterday's snapshot:

  Apparently there was no concern over refugees who fled the provinces being able to vote. When the 12 provinces were allowed to vote in April, there were polling stations set up in Anbar and Nineveh -- but just for refugees from the 12 provinces who had moved in to Anbar and Nineveh to vote.  The Independent High Electoral Commission announced that there were "special polling centers" set up for displaced persons from Nineveh and Anbar . . . if they were in the KRG.  Only, if they were in the KRG.  Now if you were a member of the armed services and resided in Anbar or Nineveh in your downtime but were deployed to other provinces, IHED had 266 polling stations in 15 of the other provinces for you to vote.  But if you were a resident of Anbar or Nineveh who had been displaced and went to any province other than the three in the KRG, you were out of luck on voting.

So, for example, Sunni refugees who fled Baghdad (due to violence) and went to Anbar were able to vote April 20th at an Anbar polling center and their voted counted -- because they are IDPs -- as being a Baghdad vote.  By the same token, Iraqi Christians who fled to the KRG due to violence were able to vote April 20th at polling stations as residents of Baghdad.

Baghdad's April vote includes all Baghdad Province residents in Iraq -- anywhere in Iraq.  On April 20th, they even had polling centers in Kirkuk which was real middle finger if you think about since official residents of Kirkuk never get to vote in provincial elections.  But in April, Baghdad residents -- whether in Baghdad, deployed outside of Baghdad in the security forces or IDPs who fled Baghdad Province due to violence -- were all able to vote if they wanted to.  And only 33% wanted to.

Anbar and Nineveh didn't get that.  Their residents who are in the security forces and out of Anbar and Nineveh were able to vote.  In addition, their IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) were able to vote . . . if they were in the KRG (three provinces).  If they were anywhere else, they weren't allowed to vote.  While Anbar's 95% Sunni, Nineveh is more mixed demographically.   Why would you assume, for example, that Turkmen would choose to go to the KRG?

Baghdad had better weather in April while Anbar and Nineveh were both over 100 degrees yesterday when voting took place.  Baghdad residents (in Baghdad or IDPs) could vote across Iraq.  That wasn't the case for Anbar and Nineveh.  But a larger percentage of voters in Anbar turned out than in Baghdad and a larger percentage of voters in Nineveh turned out than in Baghdad.

This isn't noted in the nonsense that's being passed off today as 'reporting.'

As an Iraqi community member who voted in yesterday's elections notes of today's western media coverage, "They will not give us credit for anything."  No, they certainly will not.

Since December 21st, Anbar and Nineveh have been the leading provinces when it came to protests.  But if the press can't portray the protesters as 'out of control,' they're just not interested in them.  Some reporters need it so badly that they lie about it -- as one US outlet did today: "Often violent protests in the Sunni-majority provinces of Anbar and Ninevah are motivated as much by low unemployment and spotty electricity during the sweltering summer months as they are by sectarian grievances."  Want to explain that one?

Didn't think so.

No, the protests have not been violent in Anbar and Nineveh and to suggest that they have really makes you a questionable reporter.  If protests -- which have taken place since December 21st -- were violent, we'd be seeing mass deaths and destroyed property and all these things that just don't exist.  Seems like the reporter feel for Kelly McEvers' propaganda that we called out earlier this week (here).  That's too bad because the rest of the article (which is on another topic) looks very strong.  But how can anyone trust you when you falsely characterize six months of peaceful protests as "violent."  If they were violent -- even in just those two provinces -- I'd assume they'd have a body count of 30 dead per month.  They don't even have a body count of 1 dead per month by protesters.

Now Nouri's forces have killed protesters during this time.  Most infamously, the April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija when Nouri's federal forces stormed it. Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault. AFP reported the death toll increased to 53.   UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

It is the six months today, by the way, six months since the ongoing protests started.  Another detail the media 'forgot.'

Today is the sixth month anniversary of the ongoing, peaceful protests that kicked off December 21st.  In February, Layla Anwar (An Arab Woman Blues) wrote:

Protests are raging throughout Iraq...thousands upon thousands are demanding the following :
- End of Sectarian Shia rule
- the re-writing of the Iraqi constitution (drafted by the Americans and Iranians)
- the end to arbitrary killings and detention, rape and torture of all detainees on basis of sect alone and their release
- the end of discriminatory policies in employment, education, etc based on sect
- the provision of government services to all
- the end of corruption
- no division between Shias and Sunnis, a one Islam for all Iraqi Muslims and a one Iraq for all Iraqis.

The protests in Anbar, Fallujah, Sammara, Baquba,  Tikrit, Kirkuk, Mosul...and in different parts of Baghdad stress over and over 1) the spontaneous nature of the "popular revolution against oppression and injustice" 2) its peaceful nature  i.e unarmed  3) the welcoming of ALL to join the protests regardless of sect or ethnicity as ONE Iraqi people and 4) and the March to Baghdad.

In six months of ongoing protests, most western outlets have never offered as much on it as Layla Anwar did that day (and the above's an excerpt, click on the link to read her full post).  And when the western media has bothered to note it, they've ignored so much.

With the exception of the Guardian, no one's wanted to touch the issue of women and girls raped and tortured in Iraqi prisons.  When Jane Arraf 'touched' on it, she did so by nothing that this was happening -- per Amnesty International [see this March 11th entry aptly titled "Iraqi women and girls (and the silence on this topic)" and snapshots for March 11th, March 12th, and March 13th] -- and then went on to share a report about the abuse of . . . a male prisoner.

Only the Guardian -- among western media -- has shown any bravery.  AFP won't even acknowledge that this is the underpinning of the protests.  Haifa Zangana (Guardian) was one of the people covering reality:

The plight of women detainees was the starting point for the mass protests that have spread through many Iraqi provinces since 25 December 2012. Their treatment by the security forces has been a bleeding wound – and one shrouded in secrecy, especially since 2003. Women have been routinely detained as hostages – a tactic to force their male loved ones to surrender to security forces, or confess to crimes ascribed to them. Banners and placards carried by hundreds of thousands of protesters portray images of women behind bars pleading for justice.

[. . .]

No wonder, ten years after the invasion, the Iraqi authorities are accused by US-based Human Rights Watch of "violating with impunity the rights of Iraq's most vulnerable citizens, especially women and detainees". HRW's account is echoed by a report by the Iraqi parliament's own human rights and women, family and children's committees, which found that there are 1,030 women detainees suffering from widespread abuse, including threats of rape.
Responding to these findings, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki threatened to "arrest those members of parliament who had discussed the violence against women detainees". Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Hussain al-Shahristani has acknowledged that there are 13,000 prisoners in custody accused of terror offences, but he only mentioned women detainees in passing [. . .]

Another person able to cover reality was Dahr Jamail (Al Jazeera) who reported:

Heba al-Shamary (name changed for security reasons) was released last week from an Iraqi prison where she spent the last four years.
“I was tortured and raped repeatedly by the Iraqi security forces,” she told Al Jazeera. “I want to tell the world what I and other Iraqi women in prison have had to go through these last years. It has been a hell.”
Heba was charged with terrorism, as so many Iraqis who are detained by the Iraqi security apparatus are charged.
“I now want to explain to people what is occurring in the prisons that [Prime Minister Nouri al-] Maliki and his gangs are running,” Heba added. “I was raped over and over again, I was kicked and beaten and insulted and spit upon.”
Heba’s story, horrific as it is, unfortunately is but one example of what a recent report from Amnesty International refers to as “a grim cycle of human rights abuses” in Iraq today.

Six months worth of protests and what has the bulk of the western media done with it?  Nothing.

Protests continued today.  Demonstrators turned out in Jalawla, in Falluja, in Ramadi,  in Kirkuk and in BaghdadThey're declaring Monday "The Day of the Detainee."  In the Iraq 'legal' system, people charged with crimes but not convicted disappear for years in jail as do people who have never been charged with a crime but were rounded up and tossed in a prison.  National Iraqi News Agency notes that the security was beefed up throughout Anbar Province around sit-in areas.  They did this in Diyala Province as well and "Shahab-Badri, Vice-Chairman of the Committee of Religious Scholars of Iraq, demanded security forces to take responsibility by ensuring access to worshipers to prayers yards , calling on the Iraqi government to meet the constitutional and legitimate usurped rights that the demonstrators claimed since more than six months."

NINA also reports, "A security source in Kirkuk province, said that rapid intervention special forces of Dijlah Operations Command arrested the coordinator of the Popular Committees for the mass movement in the province Sheikh Khaled Mafraji."  Alsumaria notes that the Kurdish movement -- both in Kirkuk and nationally -- is calling for the Sheikh's immediate release.

He was not the only one arrested.  Al Mada reports that "SWAT" forces arrested him and that activists were also arrested in Ramadi and Kirkuk.  Rafie al-Issawi declares that Nouri al-Maliki is underestimating the strength and the will of the protesters.  al-Issawi is identified as that outgoing Minister of Finance.  (December 20th, his staff and bodyguards were seized by Nouri's force.  One of the things that has prompted the ongoing protests.  He announced he was resigning.  I have no idea where that stands.  Where it stands with Ayad Allawi is that al-Issawi has resigned.  Both are members of Iraqiya -- Allawi is the head of Iraqiya -- and Allawi considers al-Issawi out of the Cabinet.)

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