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Iraq snapshot - May 3, 2012


May 3, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Nouri uses World Press Freedom Day to attack Arab news outlets. In Iraq, the political crisis never ends. Mustafa Habib (Niqash) notes that Nouri al-Maliki, chief thug of the occupation and prime minister, has the backing of both the US and Iran. That's because the governments of both enjoy dealing with thugs. From Habib's article: The regime itself would appear to agree. "Iraq's hosting the second round of talks is an important step which supports the Iraqi government and gives it great impetus," Abbas al-Bayati, a member of the parliamentary committee on security and defence and an MP for the State of Law political bloc led by al-Maliki, boasted. "Iran and the US agreed to hold the negotiations in Baghdad because the two countries are well aware of the fact that the political and security conditions in Iraq are becoming more stable. And because the two countries realize that Iraq's regional role has developed a lot after its success with the Arab League summit in Baghdad."...

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Iraq snapshot - May 3, 2012

The Common Ills

Thursday, May 3, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Nouri uses World Press Freedom Day to attack Arab news outlets,
 
In Iraq, the political crisis never ends.  Mustafa Habib (Niqash) notes that Nouri al-Maliki, chief thug of the occupation and prime minister, has the backing of both the US and Iran.  That's because the governments of both enjoy dealing with thugs.  From Habib's article:
The regime itself would appear to agree. "Iraq's hosting the second round of talks is an important step which supports the Iraqi government and gives it great impetus," Abbas al-Bayati, a member of the parliamentary committee on security and defence and an MP for the State of Law political bloc led by al-Maliki, boasted. "Iran and the US agreed to hold the negotiations in Baghdad because the two countries are well aware of the fact that the political and security conditions in Iraq are becoming more stable. And because the two countries realize that Iraq's regional role has developed a lot after its success with the Arab League summit in Baghdad."
Al-Maliki also has the necessary support in the Iraqi Parliament to carry on. His State of Law bloc hasn't had any defections. In fact, it has benefited from defections from other parties, namely almost a dozen from the Badr organisation, a party formerly associated with al-Hakim's Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, as well as the Iraqiya bloc, al-Maliki's main opposition.
Article 61 of the Iraqi Constitution does give local MPs an opportunity to moot a vote of no confidence in leadership.
But to do this they need at least an absolute majority in Parliament and for that, some MPs from the mostly Shiite Muslim alliance that al-Maliki heads would need to defect and vote against him.
Iraqiya leader Ayed Allawi would only need about 20 defections from al-Maliki's alliance to start a vote of no-confidence process. But while some of those engaged with al-Maliki's alliance may criticise some of his policies ľ al-Hakim and Sadr, for example - they don't look likely to withdraw from the coalition any time soon. Observers say this has a lot to do with those organisations' connections to Iran, which supports al-Maliki's government.
 
There are other (legal) ways of outing Nouri.  But let's remember some of the roots of the crisis first.  From Marina Ottaway and Danial Kaysi's [PDF format warning] "The State Of Iraq"  (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace):
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 US backed Nouri. That's Bully Boy Bush and it's also Barack Obama.  In 2006, Iraqi MPs wanted Ibrahim al-Jaafari but the Bush administration said, 'No, you'll take Nouri.  He's stupid and easy for us to control and manipulate.'  In 2010, despite the vote, despite all the crap Barack and his administration spew about supporting democracy, they wanted Nouri.  Bush and Barack and Nouri -- talk about "entangled in embraces that God will never see."  ("The Three Of Us In The Dark," written by Carly Simon and Mike Mainieri, first appears on her Come Upstairs.)  Ipek Yezdani (Hurriyet) reports that Kurdistan Democratic Party spokesperson Cafer Ibrahim states that if things can't be worked out with Nouri, Ibrahim al-Jaafari becomes the choice for the new nominee. Amanda Paul (Today's Zaman) delves into the crisis and concludes:
 
 
While Maliki has so far proven to be the only leader "acceptable" to both the US and Iran, his current trajectory is very dangerous. His actions are undermining the fragile peace between the various sectarian and ethnic groups, with violence and political instability escalating. Centralizing power would face numerous obstacles simply because all parties have foreign allies, and in times of great need, will call on them. The Sunnis would look to Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the Kurds to their buddies in Washington. Maliki is simply increasing instability in a region already in deep turmoil. In order to stop this crisis spiraling further, Maliki needs to engage his political foes and cede to some of their demands, move back to a democratic track and back off from authoritarian tendencies. If he does not, we may very well witness a domino effect breaking up the country, which will impact the entire region.
 
 


A pertinent question in the context is why al-Maliki should choose to have an alliance with Tehran. It is a little puzzling because Iran, which is besieged internationally, has nothing to offer in return to Iraq. On the contrary, Iran will transfer to Iraq its problems such as the sectarian and regional clashes and disputes with the West, apart from the risk of global sanctions if Iraq makes any economic collaboration with Tehran. The situation will return Iraq to square one reminiscent of Iraq's woes during the Saddam regime.
In my view, al-Maliki's drift toward Iran springs from his desire to win the next parliamentary elections. His every move points to that direction. He wants to amend the Iraq's constitution so that he will not have to face any legal hurdle to be prime minister for the third time. He attempts to undermine the authority of the independent High Electoral Commission and to control all decision-making centers and key ministries under him. That is why he wants the ministries of defense, security, intelligence, finance, oil and the central bank. He has taken away powers of all who stood against him including Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and Deputy Premier Saleh Al-Mutleq. 

If he's correct and Nouri wants to change the Constitution, Tareq al-Hashemi is a problem.  al-Hashemi is the only one who's ever stood up to Nouri, the only with power.  When Nouri's had tried to ram through things, Tareq's used the veto power that the president and the vice presidents of Iraq have.  It only takes one of them to veto.  We saw that with the election law in 2009 when al-Hashemi didn't feel the Iraqi refugees were being properly represented.  If Nouri wants to change the Constitution, he knows the little flunky State of Law installed as v.p. three will do as told.  He knows al-Hashemi's not afraid to tell him no.
 
On the subject of al-Hashemi, this was to be the day of media frenzy in Baghdad.  Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi was supposed to be on trial for terrorism.  The trial has been delayed.  Al Mada notes that yesterday his defense team began insisting that international observers be present in the courtrooom.  Alsumaria notes that his attorneys have also asked that the trial be moved from criminal court to federal court and that State of Law MP Hussein Assadi has declared it doesn't matter because al-Hashemi will be put to death regardless.  And it's that kind of talk that guarantees al-Hashemi can remain in Turkey as long as he wants to.  As Sinem Cengiz (Sunday Zaman) reported this week, even if Nouri filed a formal request for Turkey to hand al-Hashemi over, the Turkish government would have to refuse: "The legal obligations of Turkey stemming from being a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) prohibit it from handing any person over to another country if the suspect will likely be executed."  Al Arabiya notes that the start of the trial has been postponed until next Thursday.  Sinan Salaheddin (AP) adds that "his lawyers filed motions to have Iraq's Supreme Court direct parliament to set up a special tribunal for high-ranking officials. No opening arguments or evidence were presented on Thursday, and reporters sat in the empty courtroom for several hours before being told the case was postponed until May 10."
 
 
A trial can be delayed.  Can stupidity?  One-time journalist and full-time hack Thomas E. Ricks wrote a stupid column last month insisting that it was time to bring back the draft.  Because stupid tends to attract stupid, today Brian Norris feels the need to write the Washington Post stressing his agreement with War Hawk Ricks' crackpot plan because for his "upper-middle-class students, who know that neither they nor anyone they know closely will be directly affected by the conflicts" the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War "are abstractions.
 
Oh, how the stupidity hurts us all.
 
 
The draft didn't end a war.  The students Norris describes?  They're not going to be drafted.  They weren't in Vietnam.  Ask Dick Cheney and Bully Boy Bush about how attending college got you a deferrment.  The draft was never fair and it wouldn't be fair if it came back tomorrow.  Why?  Because someone wouldn't want their precious to go to war.  They'd be okay with the children of others being sent to die in foreign lands, but their own little precious?  No way.  And that person who is not okay?  Donates a lot of money to one or both of the two major political parties in the US and people start saying, "You know we owe a lot to that money.  We need to respect that money.  Let's develop a waiver to honor that money and all the races that money has allowed us to win."  Unless the return of the draft accompanies a total and complete redistribution of the wealth in the US -- grabbing it all and dividing it equally and making sure that it never stops being equal -- there will always be people who game the system for themselves and their children.  We've already seen that in that environment, bit by bit, new deferrments are created and some don't have to serve. 
 
I'm sorry that a poli sci professor at George Washington University is so stupid.
 
A) Young adults are young adults.  They're not going to make many connections that you at your age make now.  They'll grow to it but quit acting like it's cause for alarm that they want to send someone -- anyone -- to solve world problems.
 
B) They think that way because they're encouraged to by politicians -- Democrats and Republicans -- who disrespect the US military by using it to police the world and worse.  They think that way because politicians and the media sugar coat and lie. 
 
C) If some of Norris' current students went off to war tomorrow, they would bring some different viewpoints back.  If they were fortunate enough to come back.  The notion that we send people into combat to 'wise them up' goes against the core functions of academia.
 
D) I'm real sorry that Norris finds his profession -- educating -- so far beyond the tools and training he possesses but that honestly sounds like a personnel problem -- not personal, personnel -- and maybe the dean can speak to him about it.
 
We don't need a return of the draft.  If there had been a draft in place in 2002 -- not starting in 2002, but already in place -- the military would have gotten the huge numbers for Iraq that the brass said they needed.  The draft wouldn't have stopped the war.  It still would have started. 
 
I could be wrong on this, but I don't think Ann Wright would advocate for the return of the draft.  She's retired State Dept and retired military (retired Colonel Ann Wright).  She'll be in Virginia, speaking Sunday at a free event, open to the public at Great Neck Park, 4:00 pm.  You can ask her there. The drone wars are among the topics she'll be addressing.
 
The draft is not an answer.  It's a knee-jerk reaction and a tool of the whiners who want to play what-if because they can't deal with reality.  And it's also a wet dream of the War Hawks.
 
War Hawks?  Around the world, it's Night Of The Living Dead as various War Hawks surface.  Tim Shipman and Rick Dewsbury (Daily Mail) report War Hawk Tony Blair has "a new spin doctor to put some gloss on" as the Norma Desmond of Death readies a "comback" that will "have forgotten the Iraq war AND how he was forced out of office." The birthday boy turns 59 on Friday but before he blows out the candle, someone should explain to him that it's not that easy.  Sure he made millions since losing the post of prime minister but respect's a lot harder to earn than money.  Nigel Morris (Independent of London) (re)quotes an unidentified "source close to Mr Blair" stating to a magazine, "[Blair] wants to re-engage in the UK.  He has things to say and he thinks it's the right time.  The question is how he re-enters the UK scene without re-entering domestic politics and interfering with the Labour Party."  That's a very good question.  Blair and Gordon Brown ensured the UK had its fill of Labour.  Ed Miliband would do well to note he is only the leader of the party out of power, not prime minister himself.  In other words, his desire to make nice may bite him in the ass.  I know Ed and can't believe he's doing something so stupid. The Guardian has an online poll asking if the British would welcome Blair's return to British politics and 65.7% currently say "no" while the first comment probably says it best, "I'd welcome him to The Hauge, though."
 
The other zombie that refuses to die is Colin Powell, former US Secretary of State and Liar to the United Nations.  Tony Capaccio and Roxana Tiron (Bloomberg News) report that in his upcoming book, Collie writes of his lies to the United Nations, "Yes, a blot, a failure will always be attached to me and my UN presentation.  I am mad mostly at myself for not having smelled the problem.  My instincts failed me."
 
He's still trying to perform that tired song? 
 
 
 
Walters says, unable to look at him while she does -- oh the drama!, "However, you gave the world false, groundless reasons for going to war. You've said, and I quote, 'I will forever be known as the one who made the case for war.' Do you think this blot on your record will stay with you for the rest of your life?"

Powell: Well it's a, it's a, of course it will. It's a blot. I'm the one who presented it on behalf of the United Nations, uh, United States, to the world. And it will always be uh, part of my, uh, my record.
Walters: How painful is it?
Powell: (shrugs) It was -- it *was* painful. (shifts, shrugs) It's painful now.

Has a less convincing scene ever been performed?

Possibly. Such as when Powell informs Walters that the fault lies with the intelligence community -- with those who knew but didn't come forward. Unfortunately for Powell,
FAIR's advisory steered everyone to a Los Angeles Times' article from July 15, 2004:

Days before Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was to present the case for war with Iraq to the United Nations, State Department analysts found dozens of factual problems in drafts of his speech, according to new documents contained in the Senate report on intelligence failures released last week.
Two memos included with the Senate report listed objections that State Department experts lodged as they reviewed successive drafts of the Powell speech. Although many of the claims considered inflated or unsupported were removed through painstaking debate by Powell and intelligence officials, the speech he ultimately presented contained material that was in dispute among State Department experts.
 
 
And nearly seven years later, he's still attempting to soften his lie by calling it a "blot" and still insisting he didn't lie and that he was misled and on and on he goes.
 
On And On He Goes should have been the title of his book.  Instead he's calling the book It Worked For Me.  Well it sure did.  Lying led him to a very cushy post-government life.  Lying held no consequences for him at all.  Except, of course, that he has to live with himself and don't think for a moment that's not eating him up.  Again, Ava and I from 2005:
 
Powell's mea culpa is not only unconvincing, it's illogical. He's glad Saddam Hussein's gone. So why's he concerned with his "blot?" He's completely unconcerned that we're in a war that's based on lies. "I'm glad" he says. Sure he admits that he lied (by proxy -- it's others faults, you understand, nameless people in the intel community), but there's no moral concern. He's only worried about the slug line that now accompanies his name. The "blot." The tag 'liar, liar.'

Colin Powell lied to the United Nations. Not by proxy, he lied. His testimony. A testimony he made the decision to give. Despite objections from people in the department he headed. His accountability pose is hollow and unconvincing. Shrugs? "What are you going to do?" shrugs? That and the shiftiness during the exchange (he can't sit still during the exchange) back up his words. This isn't any big deal to him, that he lied and we went to war. He's just concerned that he's a known liar. For the rest of his life.

This is how he wants to be remembered:

"A good public servant somebody who truly believes in his country. . . . Somebody who cared, somebody who served."

Yeah well, Nixon wanted to be remembered a certain way as well. Liar's the way many remember him now. Liar's the way many will remember Colin Powell.
 
He's a liar.  He's a known liar.  He has no one to blame but himself.  So, in his bid to make more money, he revisits the moment's he'll never be able to change.  This is said to be the best 'co-written' book he's ever put his name to.  Due to the whole 'life lessons' approach. (He shares 13 life lessons/bromides.)  It's brief, each little lesson in the 300 page book, so there's no need for Tony Koltz to pretend Collie's a man of deep thoughts and instead reads like a piece for Parade (not at all surprising, considering the roots of the 'book').   And maybe this decision to table faux wisdom is why Joseph E. Persico -- Colin's 'co-writer' on 2003's My American Journey and 1995's Soldier's Way: An Autobiography -- elected not to write this latest tome?
 
In the book, Collie lies and lies and lies.  Insisting no Iraq War if only they'd known there were no WMD.  If only.  Collie really hopes you're too stupid.  He hopes you forget a great deal or, even better, never knew it in the first place.  Like the big news of May 30, 2003.  From CNN:
 
Jamie McIntyre:  Adding fuel to the controversy, remarks attributed to Deputy U.S. Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a largely circulated "Vanity Fair" press release alleges Wolfowitz told the magazine that WMD was stressed for "bureaucratic reasons" and that, in effect, weapons of mass destruction had never been the most compelling justification for invading Iraq. A Pentagon spokesman says "Vanity Fair" only used a portion of the deputy secretary's quote. Their omission completely misrepresents what he was saying according to the spokes spokesman. The Pentagon says the full interview of the transcript, posted on its web site, makes it clear that Wolfowitz said weapons of mass destruction was the, quote, "core reason the U.S. went to war with Iraq."
 
Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, said in an interview that the removal of Saddam Hussein had been "essential" to secure world oil supplies, a point he emphasized to the White House in private conversations before the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
 
We're not done yet.  August 31, 2005, AP reported:
 
President Bush answered growing antiwar protests yesterday with a fresh reason for US troops to continue fighting in Iraq: protection of the country's vast oil fields, which he said would otherwise fall under the control of terrorist extremists.
 
And we could go on and on.  We could bring in the Iraq Inquiry in London, all that public testimony which can be boiled down into: Colin Powell is lying. 
 
Kimberly Dozier wrote a truthful book, Breathing The Fire: Fighting to Survive and Get Back To The FightJim Salemi (Middletown Press) reports the Associated Press journalist spoke Monday evening at Middlesex Community College and signed copies of her book, donating all "the proceeds to the Williams-Rosen Memorial Fund for Veterans."
 
Kimberly Dozier explained in her speech how she was covering Iraq for CBS News since 2003 and, May 29, 2006, she thought they were getting some standard stock footage, that as thinking that James Brolan and Paul Douglas were going to get film of US Army Captain James Funkhouser shaking hands with Iraqis.
 
Kimberly Dozier: Just about the moment the Captain reached out his hand, the insurgents command detonated an approximately 500 pound pound car bomb through us.  The car was a Baghdad taxi, parked in that line of vehicles.  It sent a wall of shrapnel through the whole team.  I remember smelling what smelled like a thousand matches.  And landing.  Trying to figure out where Paul and James -- because they're my team -- you think, "Where's my team?"  And trying to figure out what had happened?  I knew a bomb had gone off and that was about it.  I started going through this calculation in my head, "Okay, I'm in pain.  But I remember from our combat medical courses the ABCs of triage: Airway, Breathing, Circulation . . .  In the medical drills we did, you never went to the patients who were screaming. You went to the quiet patients, to clear their airway, restart their heart. So if I scream for help, no one will come."  After a few moments, minutes, I don't know, I was able to lift my head.  And I could see a burning car.  Luckily, I couldn't see the rest of me. I could feel burning in my legs and I thought, "Burning car.  My legs.  I remember the other drill.  There was a live electrical wire and the patient was in danger of being hit by the wire, so it was okay to go get the patient even though the patient was consicous because the patient could have gotten hurt worse.  Okay.  I can call for help."  I start calling, "Help! Help!"  -- thinking, this little voice inside my head, "Oh, you sound like such a cliche."  That little voice in your head is still there even in the worst of times.  Medic [Spc] Izzy Flores was doing his first multi-combat casualty scene  He got to Captain Funkhouser and saw he'd been hit in the head.  He was maybe  12 feet from the bomb. So was Sam [Captain Funkhouser's Iraqi translator].  Neither of them could be helped. He got to James.  James too had a massive head injury.  He couldn't be helped.  He got to Paul.  Paul had a traumatic amputation in one of his legs.  He put a tourniquet on him. He got to me just when I started calling out, "Help! Help! Move me away from the car please!"  And he's like, "Ah, you're good."  And he went to someone else. So thanks, Izzy.  But the fact of the matter is, I will always thank Izzy because the Iowa National Guardsman who later tied the tourniquets on me that saved my life told me that when he ran to the scene, his team had already secured things helping the 4th ID.  They heard the bomb they'd run in to help their brothers in arms. So [Staff Sgt] Jeremy Coke, who kept me alive, was able to tell me, "You were the last one who needed medical aid."  So I never had to wonder later: Did someone else die because I got helped first?
 
 
Kimberly Dozier was seriously injured while covering the Iraq War, a war Reporters Without Borders notes became the deadliest war for journalists
Today was World Press Freedom Day.  The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's resource page for World Press Freedom Day is here.  On this day honoring press freedom, the International Women's Media Foundation  announcedtheir Courage in Journalism Award and Lifetime Achievement Award winners:
 
Each year, the IWMF honors women journalists who have shown extraordinary strength of character and integrity while reporting the news under dangerous or difficult circumstances.
This year's winners are:
 
  Reeyot Alemu, 31, an Ethiopian columnist currently imprisoned on charges of terrorism after writing critiques of her country's government; Asmaa al-Ghoul, 30, a Palestinian blogger and freelance writer who has received death threats for her commentary on the culture and politics of Gaza; Khadija Ismayilova, 35, a radio reporter from Azerbaijan who was blackmailed and threatened after her investigation into charges of malfeasance against members of the Azerbaijani president's family. These are the International Women's Media Foundation's 2012 Courage in Journalism Award winners.
 
"I am humbled to work in the same profession as these heroic women," said Katty Kay, co-chair of the IWMF. "It is my honor to be involved with the IWMF as it recognizes their dedication and bravery. It is journalists like Reeyot, Asmaa and Khadija who set an example for all of us."
 
The IWMF's 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to Zubeida Mustafa, 70, a Pakistani journalist who has worked for three decades at Dawn, one her country's oldest and most widely circulated English-language newspapers.
 
Theodore Boutrous, Jr., IWMF co-chair, said, "A free and independent press is vital to freedom and liberty. The IWMF believes that no press is truly free if women do not share an equal voice. As the first woman to work at Dawn, Zubeida blazed a trail for women journalists in Pakistan, changing hiring policies and mentoring young women. She showed that women journalists can cover serious topics such as healthcare and economic inequality."
 
The 2012 awards will be presented during ceremonies in New York on October 24 and in Los Angeles on October 29.
 
"The IWMF is grateful to the Bank of America, National Presenting Sponsor of the
Courage in Journalism Awards for the seventh year and steadfast supporter of heroic women journalists around the world," said Elisa Lees Munoz, Acting Executive Director of the IWMF.
 
 
The Committee to Protect Journalists counts 17 journalists killed so far this year.  Among those recently murdered is Regina Martinez.  Reporters Without Borders notes that the correspondent for Proceso "was found strangled in her home in the Veracruz capital of Xalana on 28 April.  She joins the list of 80 journalists killed and 14 disappeared in Mexico in the past decade, a toll exacerbated by the disastrous federal offensive against trafficking during the past five years."  The International Press Institute will join with others tomorrow in Tunisia for a UNESCO panel discussion about journalists safety.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova issued the following joint-statement to mark the day:

Freedom of expression is one of our most precious rights. It underpins every other freedom and provides a foundation for human dignity.  Free, pluralistic and independent media is essential for its exercise.
This is the message of World Press Freedom Day.  Media freedom entails the freedom to hold opinions and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers, as stated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  This freedom is essential for healthy and vibrant socieites.
Change in the Arab world has shown the power of aspirations for rights when combined with new and old media.  Newfound media freedom is promising to transform socieites through greater transparency and accountability.  It is opening new ways to communicate and to share information and knowledge.  Powerful new voices are rising -- especially from young people -- where they were silent before.  This is why this year's World Press Freedom Day is centred on the theme of New Voices: Media Freedom Helping to Transform Societies.
Media freedom also faces severe pressures across the world. Last year, UNESCO condemned the killing of 62 journalists who died as a result of their work.  These journalists must not be forgotten and these crimes should not remain unpunished.  As media moves online, more online journalists, including bloggers, are being harassed, attacked, and killed for their work.  They must recieve the same protection as traditional media workers.
The first UN Inter-Agency Meeting on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity met at UNESCO on the 13 and 14 September 2011.  We produced a Plan of Action for the UN to build a more free and safe environment for journalists and media workers everywhere.  At the same time, we will continue to strengthen the legal foundations for free, pluralistic and independent media, especially in countries undergoing transformation or rebuilding after conflict.  At a time of information overload, we must help young people especially to develop critical skills and greater media literacy.
World Press Freedom Day is our opportunity to raise the flag in the fight to advance media freedom.  We call on Sates, professional media and non-governmental organisations everywhere to join forces with the United Nations to promote online and offline freedom of expression in accordance with internationally accepted principles.  This is a pillar of individual rights, a foundation for healthy societies and a force for social transformation.

Iraq is among those struggling (to put it kindly) to embrace press freedom.  From yesterday's snapshot:

And Alsumaria notes TV reporter Rashid Majid Hamid was injured by a sticky bombing of his car in Baghdad
Hurriyet Daily News observes, "From Somalia to Syria, the Philippines to Mexico, and Iraq to Pakistan, journalists are being targeted for death in record numbers, and in brutal ways. In fact, this year is shaping up to be the most lethal for journalists since the International Press Institute (IPI) began keeping count 15 years ago."   The attack on the journalist comes as a new report on the attack on journalism in Iraq is released.  The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory has released the report covering the last twelve months and they've found an increase in violence and restrictions and attempted restrictions on journalists.   They note an American journalist was arrested and helf for five days without any legal justification while Iraqi journalists were detained in various ways and also attacked and kidnapped by armed groups.   At least 3 journalists were killed in the 12 months and at least 31 were beaten  -- usually by military and security forces who were sometimes in civilian clothes.  65 journalists were arrested.
It's a very bleak picture.  In addition there are various bills proposed that supposedly 'protect' journalists but actually erode the rights of journalists.  The Ministry of the Interior's spokesperson Adnan al-Asadi declared that journalism can be "a threat to domestic security" and that journalsits shouldn't report on any arrests or killings without the express permission of the Ministry of the Interior.  (Clearly, Retuers must agree with that policy since they abolished their daily Factbox that used to cover violence in Iraq.)
The three journalists who died in the 12 months were:  Hadi al-Mahdi who was killed by a gunshot to the head while in his Baghdad home, Kameran Salah al-Din who was killed by a sticky bomb attached to his car (in Tikrit) and Salim Alwan who was killed by a bombing in Diwaniya. 
AFP notes the report states.  "JFO has documented a noticeable increase in the rate of violence against journalists/media workers and restrictions imposed on their work."Multiple bills are being introduced by the government, which threaten to severely limit freedom of the press, general freedom of expression and Internet use."

The Newseum has an interactive global map you can use to call up an overview on press freedom in various countries.  This is what they note of Iraq:


Freedom House rates Iraq's news media "not free" with 69 points on a scale of 0 to 100. Higher scores signal greater restrictions on a country's news media.
 
Behind the Rating: Iraq remained one of the world's most dangerous places for journalists in 2010, according to Freedom House.

Increasing government restrictions and the use of lawsuits against media outlets also posed significant challenges to media freedom during the year. While Iraq's 2005 constitution guarantees freedom of the press, courts continued to rely on a highly restrictive penal code to prosecute reporters and media outlets on charges including libel and defamation.

Journalists also faced harassment, faring especially poorly in the run-up to the March 7 national elections. Journalists seen as critical of the government were denied media accreditation and various reporters were beaten, intimidated and detained by police and rival political forces.


Aswat al-Iraq notes UNESCO's Baghdad coordinator Dhia al-Sarai said "that Human Rights Office in Baghdad shall be partner to the UNESCO in organizing this celebration, in addition to Iraqi parliament and some human rights organizations and NGOs' connected with the press."

Nouri and his State of Law political slate are 'celebrating' World Press Freedom Day.  Al Rafidayn notes that they are insisting that Gulf newspapers are attempting to prevent Iraq from reaching a better relationship with Kuwait.  It's always a conspiracy with Nouri.
Violence continued today in Iraq.  Al Rafidayn reports 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead by a snipre in Baghdad today and, in Anbar Province, city council member Nuri al-Obeidi's home was attacked with grenades (al-Obeidi survived the assassination attempt). 
 


:: Article nr. 87760 sent on 04-may-2012 15:28 ECT

www.uruknet.info?p=87760

Link: thecommonills.blogspot.it/2012/05/iraq-snapshot_03.html



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