RT News

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Iraq pledges $100 mlm to rebuild Sadr City slum

29 Jun 2008 15:50:44 GMT
Source: Reuters
BAGHDAD, June 29 (Reuters) - Iraq will spend $100 million to rebuild the east Baghdad slum of Sadr City and create jobs for many of its two million residents after years of violence and neglect, a government official said on Sunday.

The Shi'ite slum is a stronghold of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army, whose fighters clashed with U.S. and government troops there in March and April until a ceasefire halted hostilities.

Sadr City was largely outside the government's control until the truce allowed Iraqi soldiers to deploy.

"The government has ordered an allocation of $100 million to reconstruct and develop Sadr City," Tahseen al-Sheikhli, civilian spokesman for security operations in Baghdad, told a news conference.

He did not give a timeframe for spending the money.

Sheikhli said a tenth of the funds would go toward tackling unemployment. Another $10 million would be used for rebuilding and painting houses destroyed by roadside bombs, rockets or U.S. air strikes during the recent clashes.

A separate $50 million would be spent redeveloping the Baghdad neighbourhood of Shula, another poor Shi'ite district where militiamen claiming allegiance to Sadr have previously held sway.

Hundreds of people were killed in the recent battles in Sadr City. Officials have said they need to improve basic services if they want to consolidate their grip on the slum and prevent militias from regaining the upper hand.

The Mehdi Army and Sadr's political movement gained popular support in poor Shi'ite districts of Baghdad by offering medical care and social services.

Sheikhli said the funds for Sadr City would be spent on a variety of projects, including building two sports stadiums, several schools, health clinics and a blood bank, a dental clinic, markets and parks.

Part of the employment allocation would be spent on loans for small business owners, he said.

Iraqi forces say they have sought to improve Sadr City since calm was restored, installing generators to power houses and cleaning up the area around Jamila market, a wholesale outlet. (Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Caroline Drees)

Saudi wife calls for reformer's release

29 Jun 2008 14:21:42 GMT
Source: Reuters
(fixes typo in paragraph 3 and phrasing in paragraph 4)

By Andrew Hammond

RIYADH, June 29 (Reuters) - When Jamila al-Ukla's husband was taken by Saudi state security forces last month, she spent five days searching before finding him in prison, she says.

She checked hospitals and local police and called colleagues who worked in local human rights groups. When she tried to check his ransacked office on the campus of King Saud University a security guard removed her.

Ukla eventually learned that state security forces had incarcerated her husband, politics professor and political reform activist Matruk al-Faleh, in Uleisha prison in Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia has a closed political system controlled by the royal family in alliance with clerics who administer the implementation of an austere version of Islamic law or sharia.

Anyone who organises public challenges to this historical arrangement risks being arrested, reformers say.

The government says reform must be cautious and within limits because of the rule of Islamic law and the country's tribal background. Its Western allies value stability because Riyadh is the world's biggest oil exporter.

After some pleading, prison officials who felt pity agreed to take Ukla to the high-security Haer prison -- where militants are held -- outside Riyadh. Faleh had been moved there after refusing to cooperate with interrogators.

"I sat with him. We cried a lot. It was maybe 15 minutes," Ukla said. "They took him chained, handcuffed and blindfold and they drove very fast to scare him. Why does he deserve to go to Haer? People have a mind to think and a dream to be better."

Refused permission to see him since, Ukla now sends letters to King Abdullah and pleads at the Interior Ministry for a fax number for access to Deputy Minister Mohammed bin Nayef. U.S.-based Human Rights Watch has asked Faleh's release.

An Interior Ministry spokesman declined to comment.

She said she receives calls from distant women acquaintances advising her to avoid the press. Women officers in Haer suggested that Faleh "stop talking and help his family to eat".

"When do you think Saudi Arabia will change?" Ukla asks, speaking in their modest home in Riyadh. "This is my country and I love it. How do you solve a problem if you are silent?"


Faleh, regarded as an Arab nationalist in his political views, is one of Saudi Arabia's most prominent activists for political reform who has remained in the country and resisted the temptation to campaign from the comfort of abroad.

He was sentenced to seven years in jail in 2005 along with two others for organising a petition calling for Saudi leaders to set a timeframe for transforming the closed political system into a constitutional monarchy. King Abdullah pardoned them on accession to the throne later that year but since then a number of activists have been detained without charge or any overt link between their detention and political activities.

Nine have remained behind bars since February 2006 on suspicion of involvement in "funding terrorism" -- the government has won some U.S. plaudits for efforts to combat al Qaeda militants. One aimed to set up a "rally for reform" that appeared to break the taboo on political parties.

A blogger was held for over a month earlier this year after campaigning for their release.

Abdullah al-Hamed, tried and sentenced with Faleh in 2005, is serving a six-month sentence for encouraging women to demonstrate over the detention of their husbands.

Two days before his arrest Faleh had published a report detailing bad conditions of the state security prison where Hamed is being held in Buraida.

"Matruk is not against the government, he is against violence. He is against radicalism and we want to fight together with the government against radicals," his wife said. "Now he is in Haer prison with them." (Editing by Thomas Atkins)

U.S. faces Iraqi anger over raid near Kerbala

29 Jun 2008 15:07:42 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Local officials outraged over U.S. raid

* Dead man was distant relative of prime minister

* Iraq to take security control of a southern province

By Dean Yates

BAGHDAD, June 29 (Reuters) - The U.S. military faced Iraqi anger on Sunday over a raid near the holy Shi'ite city of Kerbala in which a distant relative of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was killed.

Iraqi leaders in Kerbala said the pre-dawn raid on Friday should have been approved by local authorities since security for the area was handed to Iraqi forces last year. The U.S. military has not responded to questions about the incident.

The incident comes at a sensitive time for Washington, which is negotiating a new security pact with Baghdad to provide a legal basis for American troops to stay in Iraq after a United Nations mandate expires on Dec. 31.

One of the main sticking points in negotiations has been whether the U.S. military could conduct operations and detain suspects without Iraqi approval.

"This action was barbaric and a violation of Iraqi sovereignty. ... Iraqi forces in the local government were not aware of it," Aqeel al-Khazali, the governor of Kerbala province, told a news conference on Saturday.

The Kerbala provincial council said it would stop working with U.S. forces in response to the incident.

Provincial police chief Major-General Raad Shakir said U.S. helicopters landed in the al-Hindiya district, just east of the city of Kerbala, during the raid. One person was killed and another detained, he said.

A senior official who declined to be identified said the dead man was a distant relative of Maliki. The prime minister comes from the al-Hindiya district, around 80 km (50 miles) south of Baghdad.

Sadeq al-Rikabi, Maliki's political adviser, said the dead man had heard movement outside his house and came out with a gun to investigate. U.S. troops shot him dead, Rikabi said.

"There are some circumstances that need to be clarified. The U.S. military has arrested a suspect and killed another person who has no relation to the case," Rikabi told Reuters.

The U.S. military handed security control of Kerbala province to Iraq in October. It is one of nine of Iraq's 18 provinces where Iraqi forces are now responsible for security.


Officials said Iraq would take control of security in another southern Shi'ite province, Qadisiya, on Monday.

The head of the Qadisiya provincial council security committee, Hussain al-Budairi, said a curfew would be imposed from this evening ahead of the handover ceremony.

The U.S. military is also expected to transfer security in Sunni Arab Anbar province in the coming week. That handover was supposed to take place on Saturday, but was delayed because forecast bad weather would have prevented officials flying in.

Anbar will be the first Sunni Arab province to come under Iraqi security control. All others have been Shi'ite or Kurdish.

The new security pact being negotiated by Iraqi and U.S. officials has come under intense scrutiny.

Maliki said on June 13 that talks on the agreement were deadlocked, partly because Baghdad objected to giving U.S. forces freedom to detain Iraqis or to conduct operations independent of Iraqi control.

Since then, officials say Washington has agreed to set up joint bodies to vet planned U.S. security operations.

A week after his criticism of the negotiations, Maliki and President George W. Bush spoke via a video conference call and the White House said the two agreed talks were proceeding well.

The "status of forces" security agreement is similar to pacts the United States has with many other countries, setting out rules for U.S. military activity.

Besides the pact, the two countries are negotiating a long-term agreement on political, economic and security ties.

In other violence, a suicide car bomber killed seven policemen and wounded three in an attack on a patrol in northern Iraq's Salahuddin province, police said. The explosion took place in Dhuluiya, 70 km (45 miles) north of Baghdad. For a factbox on security developments, click [nL29702177] (Additional reporting by Sami al-Jumaili in Kerbala and Wisam Mohammed and Tim Cocks in Baghdad, Editing by Mary Gabriel)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

"Israel is a terroist state", Van Agt

Andreas Van Agt was the prime minister of Holland. Countries like Holland, Norway and Denmark are very strong supporters of Israeli policies. He has launched an internet site WWWriesvanagt.nl and one can contact him on infor@driesvanagt.nl. He claims to have supported Israel until the Sabra and Shatilla massacres. It confirmed to him the nature of the Israeli regime which was summarised in one graffitti he saw on the wall in Israel with a slogan "All Arabs to Gas Chambers". He feels that the international comunity should impose sanctions on Israel in order to implement 39 UN Security Council Resolutions. He said that Iraq was invaded because Saddam was in breach of 4 resoulutions while no-one dares to call for similar actions against Israel. Van Agt reminds many of Former President Carter who denounced Israeli atrocities against Palestinians. It is better late than never. Slowly but surely, the world is awakening to the Jewish crimes and conspiracies.
Adnan Darwash, Iraq Occupation Times

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Which Iraq the Americans are talking about?

Those occupying the Whitehouse and the Republican leadership have tried in vain to keep Iraq away from the on-going political campaign before the November election. But since this proves to be an impossible task, they went to hire Media Moguls and Spin-Doctors to fabricate stories and to manipulate figures. To them violence is down in Iraq since the ‘surge’ which was supported by no other than John McCain. But the Iraq they are taking about is not the one we are living in.

At this very moment, the American soldiers are conducting military operations in Missan, Wassit, Hilla, Baghdad, Baquba and Mosul where scores die every day in addition to the routine daily bombings, suicide attacks and assassinations. There is no security for anyone in the country not even for the heavily-armed US personnel.

Yesterday 23.06.08 in Salman Pak (Al-Maddain) three US soldiers were killed and four wounded by one of the city councillors using AK-47. Today in Al-Sadr city, another four Americans died including a CIA agent, a DIA agent and two US military.

A U.S. embassy spokeswoman said one of the dead American civilians worked for the U.S. State Department and the other for the Department of Defense. She had no further details.

One U.S. soldier was also wounded, the military said.

Al-Sadr movement has already distributed leaflets in many cities asking the population to prepare their arms, to store food and to wait for the declaration of an all out war on the Americans. Al-Sadr will limit future combats to professional Iraqi army personnel across the ethnic divide. For those who don’t know Iraq, Saddam’s army was made of mostly Sunni officers with the lower ranks of exclusively Shiites and Kurds; who are being organised into combat units. To add insult to injury, the so-called awakening groups, which were armed and financed by the Americans, have started to fight each other. Al-Sadr has the right environment as there is an explosive combination of people frustration coupled with high ambient temperatures (in the mid 40’s Celsius) and lack of basic services. If the Americans have a Nanogram of common sense they should pack up and leave.

Bush and Cheney cash from the oil corporations and send US troops to die, in defence of US interests but those of Texaco and Exxon-Mobil. One day the Americans wake up and start to limit the role of special interests in US foreign policy that is bankrupting America..

I am basically against killing anyone as he/she must have a loved one to grief and to suffer. The presence of US soldiers may be easily compared to armed bank robbers who were sent to rob Iraq on behalf of the Oil Cartels as confirmed by Alan Greenspan.

Now what to do with the American bank robbers who continue to fire at people while holding the entire country as a hostage? The Americans have capital punishment so is the Iraqi government. But the Iraqi resistance blows up the US bank robbers to pieces before sending them home in bodybags. What a pity and un-necessary loss of life. A young American coming all the way to die in Iraq. Bush is responsible for sending these young men and women to their death. It is rather unfortunate that the Americans are learning Iraqi geography with blood.

The war on Iraq was launched mainly to remove a threat to Israel and to control Iraqi oil. American Jews; the likes of Wolfowitz, Feith, Frum, Musmur, Albright, Kissinger, Cohen, Berger, Blitzer, Saffire, Bloomberg and Simon worked very hard to send US soldiers marching on Baghdad to Israeli drums. The war has helped US oil cartels and defence contractors; the likes of Haliburton, Bechtel, Exxon-Mobil, BP, Shell and Texaco, to make astronomical profits.

Furthermore, the Yarmulka-clad traders on the floor of Chicago Board of Trade made $billions dealing in oil and commodity futures whose prices continued to rise since the invasion of Iraq. Until today 25.06.08, over 4130 US soldiers have died and close to 40000 were wounded. The cost to the American people is estimated to be in $Trillions. Bush is convinced that removing Saddam was the right thing to do, but he also wants to continue the costly US presence; which the country may not be able to afford. Some Jewish voices in the senate called on Bush to make Iraq pay for liberating it, while representatives of the US oil cartels want Iraq to sell American companies oil at subsidised prices, in return. In reply to such claims, Dr Saleh Al-Mutlaq, an Iraqi Member of Parliament said “This is non sense, as no-one asked the Americans to come to Iraq” In reality Iraq needs to sue America for war crimes; as one can’t liberate a country by destroying it or freeing the people by killing them. The whole American project was meant to destroy Iraq on behalf of Israel. Therefore, the ones who should pay are the Jews and the American Oil Cartels.

Unlike the prostrated pro-American or Pro-British Arab governments, the Arab people carried arms and won wars. The Algerians defeated the French and won their independence in 1960. The Yemenis defeated the British. Hamas is a thorn in Israeli side. Hezbollah forced the Israelis and their US allies out of the country liking their wounds.The Americans are in deep sheeet right now in Iraq. Things have changed for everyone. The Arab people have given up on their governments and started to defend their countries homes and families. The Americans are in for a bloody 2008 summer.
Adnan Darwash, Iraq Occupation Times

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Ahmadinejad says "enemies" tried to kill him in Iraq

20 Jun 2008 10:03:25 GMT
Source: Reuters
By Parisa Hafezi

TEHRAN, June 20 (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the United States and its allies of plotting to assassinate him during a visit to neighbouring Iraq in March, state radio reported on Friday.

"Based on reliable intelligence, our enemies had plans to kidnap and kill your servant (Ahmadinejad). But we intentionally made last minute changes in our schedule," the radio quoted Ahmadinejad telling a meeting of clerics in the Shi'ite holy city of Qom on Thursday.

Although he did not identify the United States by name, he used the usual term "enemies" to refer to Washington.

A senior U.S. military official in Baghdad said: "The Coalition is unaware of any threats to President Ahmadinejad's life during his visit to Iraq."

During the first visit by an Iranian leader to Iraq since the neighbours fought an eight-year war in the 1980s, Ahmadinejad cancelled his scheduled visit to Shi'ite holy cities of Karbala and Najaf in southern Iraq.

The presidential office said at the time the trip was cancelled for security reasons.

"The enemies learned about the changes when we already had left Iraq. They were shocked," the radio quoted him as saying.

The United States accuses Iran of funding, arming and training Shi'ite militias in Iraq. Iran denies the charge.

Ahmadinejad, who often berates Washington in fiery speeches, used his visit to Baghdad to call on the United States to withdraw its troops from Iraq, insisting their presence is to blame for the country's sectarian violence.

Iran and the United States cut diplomatic ties shortly after the revolution when the U.S. embassy was seized by hardline students and 52 Americans were taken hostages for 444 days.

Ahmadinejad said his warm reception by Shi'ite and Kurdish leaders were in stark contrast to the rushed and secretive visits of U.S. President George W. Bush.

"I was the first head of government who made previous announcements about my trip to Iraq," he was quoted as saying.

"British and American leaders had stayed only a few hours in Iraq and had not stayed there for two days, like I did."

Both Iran and Iraq are run by Shi'ite majorities and many of Iraq's Shi'ite leaders were in exile in Iran during Saddam Hussein's rule. The countries also have historical economic, political and cultural links.

Tehran and Washington are also at odds over Iran's nuclear programme, which Washington says is a cover to build nuclear weapons. Tehran denies the charge, saying it needs nuclear power to generate electricity.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi, Editing by Samia Nakhoul)

(Tehran newsroom, +98 21 8820 8770, parisa.hafezi@reuters.com))

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Iran women's activist jailed for five years-lawyer

21 Jun 2008 14:37:08 GMT
Source: Reuters
TEHRAN, June 21 (Reuters) - An Iranian women's rights activist has been sentenced to five years in prison on security-related charges, her lawyer said on Saturday.

Hana Abdi, a 22-year-old woman from Iran's Kurdistan province, was accused of "illegal gathering with the intention of committing a crime against the nation's security", lawyer Mohammad Sharif told Reuters by telephone.

"The verdict was communicated to me on Wednesday," he said, adding it would be appealed.

Abdi is a member of a campaign to try to gather 1 million signatures in support of greater women's rights in the Islamic Republic, a fellow activist said. Rights groups accuse Iran of discriminating against women, a charge Tehran denies.

"We're all very shocked by this harsh sentence," the campaigner said, declining to be named.

There was no immediate comment from the judiciary.

An unidentified Iranian judge was in December quoted by an official news agency as saying Abdi and another woman arrested in a Kurdish region a few months earlier were accused of being members of a rebel group, PJAK, and of involvement in bombings.

The Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) is an Iranian offshoot of the separatist Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) movement that is fighting neighbouring Turkey.

Several clashes between Iranian forces and Kurdish rebels have been reported over the past year in northwest Iran.

Iranian women's rights campaigners say dozens of activists have been detained since the countrywide One Million Signature Campaign was launched in 2006, most of them released after a few days or weeks.

But last month, a male activist in the campaign was sentenced to one year in prison, his lawyer said.

Judiciary spokesman Alireza Jamshidi earlier this year said collecting signatures was not a crime, but "making propaganda against the system and disturbing public opinion" was.

Western diplomats see the detention of women activists in Iran as part of a wider crackdown on dissent. (Writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Alison Williams)

Someone's Death was Announced to him

His Supplication when Someone's Death was Announced to him or when he Remembered Death

1 O God,
Bless Muhammad and his Household,
spare us drawn out expectations
and cut them short in us through sincerity of works,
that we may not hope expectantly for
completing an hour after an hour,
closing a day after a day,
joining a breath to a breath,
or overtaking a step with a step!
2 Keep us safe from the delusions of expectations,
make us secure from their evils,
set up death before us in display.
and let not our remembering of it come and go!
3 Appoint for us from among the righteous works a work
through which we will feel the homecoming to Thee as slow
and crave a quick joining with Thee,
so that death may be
our intimate abode with which we are intimate,
our familiar place toward which we yearn,
and our next of kin whose coming we love!
4 When Thou bringest it to us
and sendest it down upon us,
make us happy with it as a visitor,
comfort us with its arrival,
make us not wretched through entertaining it,
degrade us not through its visit,
and appoint it one of the gates to Thy forgiveness
and the keys to Thy mercy!
5 Make us die
guided, not astray,
obedient, not averse,
repentant, not disobedient or persisting,
O He who guarantees the repayment of the good-doers
and seeks to set right the work of the corrupt!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hijab-wearing Muslims barred from Obama photo op

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Two Muslims at a Barack Obama rally were barred from sitting behind the podium as campaign volunteers sought to prevent their headscarves appearing in images with the candidate, reports said Wednesday.

In two separate incidents Monday at a rally in Detroit, Michigan -- which boasts one of the largest Muslim communities in the United States -- women wearing headscarves were told they could not sit in the section that forms the visual backdrop behind Obama, Washington-based Politico.com reported.

"I was coming to support him, and I felt like I was discriminated against by the very person who was supposed to be bringing this change," Hebba Aref, a 25-year-old lawyer, told the website.

"The message that I thought was delivered to us was that they do not want him associated with Muslims or Muslim supporters," Aref said.

A friend accompanying Aref said a campaign volunteer had specifically cited "the political climate" as an explanation.

The other woman, Shimaa Abdelfadeel, said she was told no one with any head coverings, including baseball caps and scarves, could sit behind the stage, and that the rule was not an attack on her religion.

The Obama campaign reportedly apologized to the women.

"This is of course not the policy of the campaign. It is offensive and counter to Obama's commitment to bring Americans together and simply not the kind of campaign we run," Obama spokesman Bill Burton was quoted as saying.

"We sincerely apologize for the behavior of these volunteers."

Obama, who has struggled to suppress a viral rumor that he is Muslim, has billed himself in the 2008 presidential race as the candidate of change and inclusion who can transcend identity politics.

But his vigorous denials that he is Muslim has been known to frustrate some followers of Islam because of the implication that there is something wrong with the religion.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Baghdad car bomb kills at least 63, police say

updated 2:28 p.m. ET, Tues., June. 17, 2008
BAGHDAD - A car bomb tore through a market area in a mainly Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad on Tuesday, killing more than 50 people and wounding dozens, officials said, the deadliest such attack in more than three months.

The attack occurred just before 6 p.m. as the market in the northwestern Hurriyah neighborhood was packed with shoppers preparing for their evening meals.

Nobody claimed responsibility for the attack, but it bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida in Iraq, which is known to use car bombs and suicide attacks.
By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writer
24 minutes ago

Many victims were trapped in their apartments by a raging fire that engulfed at least one building, according to police and Interior Ministry officials, who also said about 75 people were wounded. Stunned(To daze or render senseless, by or as if by a blow) survivors stumbled(To miss one's step in walking or running; trip and almost fall) through the rubble-strewn street, which was filled with the smoke from burning vehicles, witnesses said.

The attack shattered the relative calm in the capital since a May 11 cease-fire ended seven weeks of fighting between U.S. and Iraqi forces and Shiite militants in the Sadr City district. Ironically, it came the same day the Iraqi parliament announced plans to move outside the U.S.-protected Green Zone.

Angry survivors blamed the army and police for failing to protect them.

"The blast occurred because there wasn't any security presence by the Iraqi army or police at the scene, not even any checkpoint," said Khalid Hassan, 40, who suffered shrapnel wounds and burns. "People were confused, upset and running in all directions. We are all victims of terrorism and carelessness."

The bomber struck about 5:45 p.m. near a market and bus stop in the Hurriyah district of west Baghdad, scene of some of the most horrific sectarian massacres during the wave of Sunni-Shiite slaughter in 2006.

Kamil Jassim, a witness, said the blast set fire to a generator used by residents and shopkeepers to supplement city power. The fire quickly spread to a two-story building containing both shops and apartments where many of the victims were found.

Haider Fadhil, a 25-year-old metal worker, said he was shopping with two friends when the blast hurled him to the ground.

"When I regained consciousness, I found that my left hand and leg were broken," Fadhil said from his bed in a nearby hospital, where anguished families wept as they jammed the waiting rooms. "Thanks be to God for saving me and thanks to those who carried me in their pickup truck to the hospital."

The blast was the deadliest attack in Baghdad since March 6, when a pair of bombs detonated in the mostly Shiite district of Karradah, killing 68 people and wounding about 120.

No group claimed responsibility for Tuesday's blast, and both Sunni and Shiite militants have used car bombs in their attacks.

U.S. officials said American soldiers were attending a meeting of a neighborhood action committee about 150 yards from the blast site but it was unclear if they were the target.

"This is a senseless and tragic event," said Lt. Col. Steve Stover, a spokesman for the U.S. military's Baghdad command. "What's to gain by terrorizing the population? ...This is simply an evil act."

U.S. commanders have warned repeatedly that the relative peace in Baghdad is fragile because extremists, including al-Qaida in Iraq and Shiite militant groups, remain capable of high-profile attacks.

The Americans hope that security measures are enough to prevent extremists from mounting a sustained campaign of bombings against civilians that could provoke a return to sectarian reprisal attacks.

Despite the uncertainty, Iraqi officials have been eager to promote a sense of confidence among the war-weary Iraqi people after months of declining bloodshed in the capital.

Deputy parliamentary speaker Khalid al-Attiyah told lawmakers Tuesday that they will move from the convention center in the Green Zone to the Saddam Hussein-era National Assembly building for their next legislative term, which begins Sept. 1.

The move could help parliament affirm its independence from the Americans and shed its public image as an institution isolated from its people inside the U.S.-protected enclave.

"There is progress in the security situation and the reconstruction has been completed of the new building," al-Attiyah said, adding the new accommodations will be large enough for the full 275-member legislature and staff members.

The National Assembly building was used by the Iraqi parliament under Saddam and is located in the Allawi district, a religiously mixed area about 500 yards from the blast walls that form the perimeter of the Green Zone on the west side of the Tigris River.

It was looted and burned during the chaos that followed the fall of Baghdad to U.S. forces in April 2003. But al-Attiyah said its reconstruction has been completed.

Also Tuesday, an Iraqi state television journalist, Muhieddin Abdul-Hamid, was shot to death near his apartment in the northern city of Mosul, officials said.

Colleagues said the 50-year-old journalist was a local anchor for the TV station in Mosul, the focus of an ongoing U.S.-Iraqi operation against the last major urban stronghold of al-Qaida in Iraq.

Excluding Abdul-Hamid, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 129 journalists and 50 media support workers have been killed since the U.S. invasion in 2003.

In other violence Tuesday, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle struck a Baghdad checkpoint manned by U.S.-allied fighters, killing one and wounding four, officials said.

Another suicide car bomber attacked a police checkpoint in Baqouba, northeast of Baghdad, killing one policeman and wounding 19 other people, officials said.

Gunmen also killed a senior police officer and two of his guards near Aziziyah, a Shiite area 35 miles southeast of Baghdad.


Associated Press writer Sameer N. Yacoub contributed to this report.


Baghdad bomb toll rises to 63, U.S. blames militia
18 Jun 2008 07:58:02 GMT
Source: Reuters
BAGHDAD, June 18 (Reuters) - The death toll from a devastating truck bombing in Baghdad rose to 63 on Wednesday and U.S. forces blamed a rogue Shi'ite militia for the attack.

Four children and five women were among those killed by Tuesday's blast near a crowded market in the predominantly Shi'ite neighbourhood of al-Hurriya in northwestern Baghdad, Iraqi police said.

Another 75 people were hurt in the deadliest bombing in the Iraqi capital for three months.

The U.S. military blamed the attack on a "special groups" cell. This is jargon for Shi'ite militants the U.S. military says are backed by Iran.

The military said it believed the attack was ordered to incite Shi'ite violence against Sunni Arabs. Most major car bombs in Iraq are blamed on Sunni Islamist al Qaeda. (Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Dean Yates)

Bush to search Khameini turban for Uranium!

The so-called package of incentives to Iran to abandon its Uranium enrichment program means a complete infringement of Iran’s legitimate rights and a prelude for interfering in Iran’s domestic affairs. If Mahmoud Ahmedinejad ever to accept one item of this US-EU package it will mean another American-led UN teams to verify the presence of traces of enriched Uranium in Iran similar to what had happened in Iraq. Unlike Ahmedinejad, stupid Saddam accepted the US pressure and allowed 850 UN weapon inspectors for 8.5 years to check every corner of Iraq including Saddam’s own personal fridge.
After ensuring that Iraq had no WMD, Bush went to invade the country, to destroy its infrastructure and to kill its people on behalf of Israel. Ahmedinejad must realise that the Uranium enrichment issue is no more than a pretext for the USraelis to destroy Iran. Bush seriously believes that destroying Iran is the key for American successful colonisation of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the re-drawing of the Middle East map favouring the rogue Jewish state of Israel.
Right now, Iran is helping the legitimate popular resistance to USraeli occupation and intimidation in Afghanistan, Gaza, Iraq and Lebanon.

Regardless how much the Saudis will pump, all speculators believe that Bush will attack Iran before leaving office when Oil will reach $200. They expect Iran to block the strait of Hirmuz and blow up US ships and oil facilities in the Gulf. A $200 barrel is exactly what Goldmansachs has already predicted.

I don't dismiss the fact the the Jewish minority in America operates as a mafia controlling US financial institutions, the media and politics. For this reason, the Jews know how to trade in futures, fleece the Americans and send them to fight their own wars.

Adnan Darwash, Iraq Occupation Times

It is getting hot for G.W. Bush in Afghanistan!

In anger over Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda 9/11 attack on NY and Washington D.C., G.W. Bush ordered the bombardment of Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 and the toppling of pro-American Taleban (students) government. Despite the fact that no Afghanis has ever carried out a terrorist act anywhere on earth and none of the 19 young men who carried the 9/11 attack was from Afghanistan.

Led by a one-eyed Mullah Omar, the Taleban carried out their weapons and moved to areas where they can re-group and re-take their country back from the foreign invaders, whenever the opportunity arises. The Americans appointed Hamid Kharzai, a Sunni Pashtun, who was working for UNOCAL, to head the client regime protected by American bodyguards. But the presence of foreign forces in the country has worked in favour of the Taleban; who are virtually in control of most of the country by night. Unlike the divided Iraqi national resistance the Taleban are exclusively Sunni Pashtun movement with a very strong tribal ties. While on Saudi and CIA payroll, the Taleban were vehemently against the Shiites and went as far as killing 11 Iranian diplomats in Mazar Al-Sharif on August 8, 1998, along with thousands of Shiites Hazaras.

Blood-thirsty Bush didn’t stop at Kabul but went to invade Iraq on 20.03.03.and labelled Iran, Syria and Libya as members of the Axis of evil which will be destroyed, one at a time. That was Bush biggest gift for the Taleban. The brilliant Iranian strategists realised the danger of the presence of US troops on Iranian borders and went to assist the resistance to US occupation. The Iranians have established an army led by General Suleimani mainly to support the national resistance to US occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Taleban have changed course and started to cooperate with the Iranians in launching Iraqi-style suicide attacks and road-side bombs. The taking over of 11 villages in Arghandab district three days after freeing hundreds of prisoners on 14.06.08 may be just the start of what is to come. Instead of admitting failure, the client regime in Afghanistan went to intimidate Pakistan whose powerful ISI had helped to topple the Taleban. Realising the seriousness of these developments, Bush has already asked NATO to commit more troops and money to continue fighting his anti-Islam crusade.

Who is Seraph/Faust?

One can't expect prolific Seraph1/Faust to slow down unless something very serious has taken place. As a disabled former Marine, Seraph1 will undergo further checks to replace his artificial body parts. The Albawaba editor will be relieved as the scores of his daily postings are not visited by many readers.
Adnan Darwash, Iraq Occupation Times

In Iraq there 30 Internet sites and 20 Newspapers financed by the Americans. Ironically, not all tow Bush line. I was amazed to find Kitabat.com on the list of financed by the US Jewish lobby as contained articles written by Iraqi intellectuals, besides those by CIA agents.
Adnan Darwash, Iraq Occupation Times.

Dead attacks on shia Muslims in Pakistan

Who is Responsible?
Who will control them??
Who will punish them???
Is there any one who would stop these misguided cruel animals????
Is there any government in Pakistan for Pakistanis?? ???
Where is media which cries on every worthless issue,
Is innocent humans murders & losses are nothing
for which you can shout??????
Down with our Evil Media.....

http://www.shaheedf oundation. org/foundationne ws.asp?Id= 659&Type=News

HANGU: Four shot dead in the Main Bazar

SFP News:
June 17, 2008: (Updated @ 12:40PM)

Four Shi'ite Muslims were martyred in the town of Hangu in North West Frontier Province on Tuesday morning in what appeared to be the second deadly sectarian attack in two days. In Tuesday's attack, gunmen opened fire from a car at a group of men in the main market of Hangu. The men were from the same family and were killed on the spot.

The attack came a day after four Shi'ite Muslims were martyred in a bomb attack on a mosque in the town of Dera Ismail Khan. Separately on Tuesday, police in Hangu found the body of a Shi'ite Muslim taxi driver who was kidnapped last week. “It's shocking ... It could be the work of militants fighting in tribal areas who may want to open a new front, or foreign hands who want uncertainty in Pakistan,” said Abdul Jalil Naqvi, a leader of a Shi'ite party, the Islami Tehrik.

More news are coming....

http://www.shaheedf oundation. org/foundationne ws.asp?Id= 658&Type=News

Bomb Rips Through D.I.Khan Mosque

SFP News:

2300 HRS June 16, 2008:

It has just been learnt that the explosive device was a locally manufactured one and two assailants left the bomb at the site of incident.

The impact was so strong that it left a 2 feet deep crater at the place of blast.

More news are coming....


SFP News:
2230 HRS June 16, 2008:


A powerful bomb ripped through a prominent shia masjid Masjid-e-Mohammad- e-Jafferia Hazrat Abbas a.s , during the maghrebain prayers here, leaving 4 mominin martyred and injuring one, the prayer-leader, it was learnt from well-placed sources.

The blast occurred when mominin were offering nawafil following the maghrib prayer. The martyred had been identified as Ijaz Zaidi aged 60,Waqar Zaidi aged 14 a student of grade 6, Mohammad Asif aged 35 a photographer by profession and Zaheer Naqvi aged 23 a student of Electrical Associate Engineering.

Namaz-e-Janaza is expected to be offered anytime tomorrow. Situated in the busy Mohalla Roshan Charagh, Topa Wala Bazar in the heart of the city, the area housing the mosque has remained relatively calm during the recent spate of sectarian violence incited by anti-Islamic forces.

Notably the recent violence against Shia Muslims in the D.I Khan and adjoining areas have claimed scores of innocent lives to date and the trend continues un–abated despite constant protests by sections of civil society. The terrorists continue to challenge the writ of the government with impunity while the concerned authorities seem to be failing to muster up enough courage to warrant any concrete action against culprits beyond paying formal lip-service.

Shaheed Foundation Pakistan condemns this heinous act of terrorism and extends heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families of Shohada. The millat firmly stands by the families of victims in this hour of sorrow and grief. Kindly recite fateha for Shohada-e-Millat- e-Jaffaria.

We muslims are busy bickering over whether to
fold or unfold our hands during namaz, while
the enemy is devising ways of
cuting them off.
"Roohullah Khomeni"

Headscarf hairdresser wins £4,000

A woman wearing a veil. An employment tribunal has awarded a Muslim teenager 4,000 pounds after a the owner of a hair salon refused to employ her because she was wearing a headscarf. Photo:Fethi Belaid/AFP

Danny Brierley, Evening Standard

A Muslim woman who was refused a job at a hairdressers because she wore a headscarf has won £4,000.

Bushra Noah accused Sarah Desrosiers, the owner of an " alternative" salon in King's Cross, of religious discrimination after failing to land a job at an interview in May last year. An employment tribunal panel dismissed the claim of direct discriminationbut said offence had been caused to the 19-year-old, who had applied for more than 20 salon jobs without success.

The central London tribunal was told Ms Desrosiers was persuaded to give her an interview but was shocked when she wore a headscarf.

She told Mrs Noah she needed stylists to showcase alternative hairstyles. The panel found Mrs Noah of Acton had been badly upset by the interview and awarded her £4,000 damages for "injury to feelings".

Ms Desrosiers, 32, said: "I never in a million years dreamt that somebody would be completely against the display of hair and be in this industry."

The owner of a hair salon has been ordered to pay £4,000 compensation to a Muslim stylist who was turned down for a job because she wears a headscarf.

Bushra Noah accused Sarah Desrosiers of religious discrimination when she failed to offer her a job at her Wedge salon in King's Cross, central London.

An employment tribunal panel dismissed the 19-year-old's claim but upheld her complaint of indirect discrimination.

Ms Desrosiers said she needed stylists to showcase alternative hairstyles.

During the hearing Ms Noah, who lives in Acton, west London, told the tribunal that she was "devastated" that she was not offered the job of assistant stylist "due to my headscarf".

Urban image

Ms Desrosiers, 32, told the panel that Ms Noah lived too far away, but was persuaded to give her an interview in May last year.

When the applicant arrived for the interview she claimed the Canadian salon owner was clearly shocked by the fact she wore a headscarf.

I never in a million years dreamt that somebody would be completely against the display of hair and be in this industry

Sarah Desrosiers

Ms Desrosiers told the tribunal she was surprised it had not been mentioned earlier and expected her staff to reflect the "funky, urban" image of her salon.

The panel found that Ms Noah had been badly upset by the 15-minute interview .

She was awarded £4,000 damages for "injury to feelings".

In its judgment, the panel stated: "We were satisfied by the respondent's evidence that the claimant was not treated less favourably than the respondent would have treated a woman who, whether Muslim or not, for a reason other than religious belief wears a hair covering at all times when at work."

It added: "There was no specific evidence before us as to what would (for sure) have been the actual impact of the claimant working in her salon with her head covered at all times."

Speaking after the ruling the salon owner said: "I never in a million years dreamt that somebody would be completely against the display of hair and be in this industry. I don't feel I deserve it."

Ms Noah refused to comment on the matter.

Muslim hairdresser 'devastated'

Bushra Noah went for the interview in March 2007
A Muslim teenager has told a tribunal that she was devastated she was not offered a job at a hair salon because she wears a headscarf.

Bushra Noah is suing the owner of the Wedge salon in King's Cross, north London, for religious discrimination.

Ms Noah claimed salon owner Sarah Desrosiers asked her in an interview if she always wore her headscarf and told Ms Noah that she felt uncomfortable.

Ms Desrosiers has denied discriminating against the teenager in March 2007.

Life-long dream

Ms Noah, who is 19 and lives in Acton, west London, said: "She asked about my experience in hairdressing, that took a few minutes, then focused on my headscarf and if I wore it all the time.

"She asked me when I took it off. Then she focused on the idea that I should have told her over the phone, she said it several times.

"Then she said how uncomfortable she felt with me being there."

The teenager told the tribunal in London she was "devastated" that she wasn't offered the job "due to my headscarf".

I didn't mind her asking the questions but her approach was different you know?

Bushra Noah
Ms Noah added that as a result she gave up her life-long dream of becoming a hairdresser and was now studying for a qualification in travel and tourism.

Admitting that Ms Desrosiers did not make any derogatory comment about her headscarf or religion, Ms Noah said: "I didn't mind her asking the questions but her approach was different you know?

"That's her opinion and the right of her own business. But she made me feel uncomfortable in the way she treated me."

When asked why she had waited two months before filing a grievance complaint against the salon, Ms Noah said: "At the time I was 18, I was newly married and having problems with my husband.

"Deciding whether I should or shouldn't go through with the legal procedures, it doesn't happen over day and night."

Ms Desrosiers, who was due to give evidence later on Tuesday, has said it was vital that customers should be able to see a stylist's hair.

The tribunal continues.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Iraq’s Provincial Elections: Another D-Day Approaching

By Reidar Visser (Thanks to : www.historiae.org)

16 June 2008

Monday 30 June 2008 could be one of those fateful dates in Iraqi politics that will remain mostly unnoticed by the outside world.

30 June is the new deadline set by Iraq’s electoral commission for forming coalitions for this autumn’s provincial elections. The deadline for registering political parties expired on 31 May; with some 500 entities having registered the main question today is whether any of these parties are capable of amalgamating into larger alliances that could mount a challenge to the established elites represented by the core components of the Maliki government. In the previous local elections in January 2005, it was mainly those elites – the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) and the two biggest Kurdish parties – that excelled in the art of coalition building prior to the elections.

A look at the list of registered parties soon reveals the importance of coalitions. It is true that there has been an outpouring of nationalist sentiment in Iraq over the past year, often framed as opposition to the Maliki government and certainly as criticism against the ISCI–Kurdish axis which forms its parliamentary basis. In one way, the anti-sectarianism and anti-separatism expressed by this opposition is inspiring and could give ground for optimism. Its spirit is certainly reflected in the list of registered parties for the next provincial elections, with an abundance of names emphasising Iraqi unity: “The One Iraqi People”; “The Bloc of Iraq’s Territorial and Popular Unity”; “The Iraq First Association”; “I Am an Iraqi Independent”. There is even a list dedicated to the memory of the slain police commander of Babel, Qays al-Mamuri, a staunch Iraqi nationalist who sacrificed his life by simultaneously challenging the militias of ISCI and the Sadrist movement. As on earlier occasions, south of Baghdad the only significant departure by smaller parties from the nationalist trend is regionalist rather than sectarian: “The Association of the Sons of the South”, “The Southern Region List”, “The Association of Southern Elites”, “The Bloc of the Sons of the South”, as well as the new party of Basra secularist Wail Abd al-Latif (Hizb al-Dawla). Most of these advocates of a special federal status for the “far south” (Basra, Maysan, Dhi Qar, in combination or as separate governorates) are explicit in their opposition to ISCI leader Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim’s ideas of a much larger Shiite federal entity extending from Basra all the way to Baghdad.

And yet at the same time, the anti-sectarian current is also pathetic in its utter disorganisation. For much of 2008, there has been talk about secularists and Islamists coming together across sectarian lines, with visions of a grand alliance of Sadrists, Fadila, Shiite independents, Sunni Islamists, Wifaq, Hiwar, and breakaway elements from the Daawa party. So far, however, while impressive in its legislative achievements (they single-handedly pushed through the demand for local elections against the opposition of the Maliki government), the moves to institutionalise this new trend have been something of an anticlimax. The formation of Ibrahim al-Jaafari’s “National Reform Current” in late May is perhaps the most tangible result, but even this has not seemed to progress beyond the level of yet another Daawa breakaway faction. And as far as the list of parties registered for this autumn’s elections is concerned, there are few signs of coalescence towards greater unity. All these opposition parties (including Jaafari’s new front) are registered separately, whereas the Sadrists are conspicuous by their absence altogether (they may still opt to support individual candidates, or throw their weight behind one particular party – the pro-Sadrist Risaliyun have registered, for example.) The Chaldeans – Iraqi Christians who historically have been more focused on Iraqi nationalism than the minority of Christians who advocate a separate “Assyrian” identity – are represented by at least five different parties!

But are parties really important, when there is a possibility for an “open-list system” in the forthcoming elections? The answer is Yes, and the reason is the manoeuvring currently being undertaken by the Maliki government and its friends to minimise the possibility of challenges to its stranglehold on power. For some time, opposition parties have been pressing for a system in which the individual candidate, rather than the political parties, would become the focus of attention in the election campaign. However, the bigger parties have strenuously resisted this, marshalling an unholy list of arguments to avoid enhanced voter influence on the elections. Kurdish MPs have been particularly vocal during parliamentary debates, emphasising the alleged “immaturity” of the Iraqi electorate and hence the “impracticability” of letting Iraqi voters do anything other than following the ranking set by the party elites. As arguments against an open system they have also mentioned “illiteracy” among voters, as well as the difficulties of guaranteeing female quotas. ISCI similarly prefers the closed-list system, and also stands out for its demand that the use of religious symbols and campaigning in places of religious worship be allowed during the run-up to the elections – again with reference to “illiteracy”.

In the current draft of the elections law, these big parties have already achieved considerable results in strengthening their position. A hybrid system (voters can choose between a list and an individual candidate) has been adopted, but the counting rules are clearly biased towards bigger entities. Whereas the votes for a party list will count towards a cumulative total score which will enable the party to maximise its share of all remaining seats available in a given province, votes cast for an individual representative will apparently become “redundant” once a candidate has received enough votes to win a seat for him/herself. This would be a major disincentive against voting for an individual instead of a standard list, because there is a very real chance that the individual vote can be wasted – incidentally, a kind of voter behaviour against which an injunction by top Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani was issued back in 2005. (A far more balanced arrangement would probably have been the “single transferable vote” system used for example in Ireland, where voters can rank a number of individual candidates in their preferred order.)

Also the “feminist” argument of the Kurds and ISCI seems somewhat disingenuous. After the female quota was introduced in Iraqi politics due to heavy American pressure in 2005, Iraq was propelled to a position where it currently ranks among the 30 countries in the world with the highest female parliamentary representation, way ahead of countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom, and indeed the United States itself. Earlier, in Iraq in the mid-1990s, female representation in parliament had been around 7%, slightly better than Greece: surely it was the methods by which these women were “elected”, rather than the gender issue as such, that constituted the fundamental problem of the old Iraq. All in all, if insistence on such a high female quota becomes an obstacle for the election of candidates with real popular support, the net result may well be that the praiseworthy ideal of higher female representation may stand to suffer as such, and that yet another imported and “artificial” feature is added to the new Iraqi model of government, thereby making it less durable.

Concurrently with these machinations inside the Iraqi parliament, the Maliki government also has cruder ways of wielding its power. Amara – the only Iraqi provincial capital run by a Sadrist administration – appears to be slated for an imminent large-scale security crackdown as Nuri al-Maliki increasingly seeks to portray himself as a strongman capable of ruling Iraq from the centre. It has been suggested that his failure to support ISCI in their demand for permission to use religious symbols in the election campaign is a deliberate attempt to carve out a niche for himself, distinct from ISCI. Similarly, the recent refusal by a majority of the provincial council in Dhi Qar to accept the new police chief appointed by the interior ministry seems to indicate continued friction between ISCI and Daawa even as they cooperate in sidelining common enemies like the Sadrists (the Daawa members in Dhi Qar boycotted the vote in protest). This all suggests that even as Maliki’s personal standing as a premier may be improving, his parliamentary base remains weak. For his project to work in the long run, either ISCI must abandon its sectarian federalism plans completely (there are some indications that this could be underway), or Maliki would eventually have to make friends with many of the forces that he is currently seeking to marginalise.

An additional source of weakness in the Iraqi government on which the Bush administration has placed its bets is the Iran factor. During the negotiations for a new security arrangement between the United States and Iraq, Western observers have generally assumed that Iranian influences are articulated through “subversive” forces like the Sadrists and the Lebanese Hizbollah only. This overlooks the possibility that Iran may be working with both hands, inside and outside the government at the same time, partly cooperating with the United States, partly putting pressure on it. Tehran has done this before, for example in April 2003, before Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, SCIRI’s leader, returned to Iraq. Hakim was then heavily criticised in the conservative Iranian media for intending to cooperate with the Americans in Iraq, and yet his return to Iraq went ahead – no doubt an expression that the ultimate aim of the Iranians was to have him there. Had Hakim’s cooperation with Washington been seen as truly inimical to Iranian interests, his return could have been prevented very easily. Similarly, today, Iran may well be using its influence inside the Iraqi government in the hope that some kind of “grand bargain” with the Americans suitable to its interests in Iraq can still be arrived at, while they simultaneously maintain several fallback options. At least, Tehran could be interested in the process for its own sake, pending the arrival of a new US administration in Washington.

Meanwhile, much of the American debate of these issues remains focused on the wrong indicators. Instead of probing the issue of Iranian influences inside the Maliki government, or discussing the prospect of a new cross-sectarian Iraqi nationalist alliance, many US analysts tend to emphasise the return of a couple of Sunni figureheads to the Maliki government as the ultimate yardstick for “success” in national reconciliation. But if the wider regional dimension is taken into account, there can be no doubt that both Iraqi and US national interests would be better served with an Iraqi government less focused on sectarian arithmetic but more in touch with popular feeling and nationalist ideals. That is also why a US strategy of turning a blind eye to highhandedness by Maliki in the run-up to the provincial elections is bound to fail in the long term, even if it may be convenient to have a calm façade in Iraq at the time of the US presidential elections. By now, the Americans should know that if they opt to play hardball with the Shiite factions in Iraq, they will be outperformed very easily by the Iranians. A far better solution would be simply to give Iraqi voters unrestrained possibilities for electing new faces to the provincial assemblies next autumn. The number of coalitions formed before the 30 June deadline will be an important sign of how that project is progressing.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sadr group to boycott Iraq local elections

by Hassan Abdul Zahra
1 hour, 35 minutes ago

NAJAF, Iraq (AFP) - In a fresh blow to Iraq's embattled political process, hardline Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's group said on Sunday it will boycott October elections which Washington sees as critical to stabilising the country.

The decision comes two days after the powerful anti-American cleric decided to restructure his feared Mahdi Army militia and ahead of an expected military assault on his militiamen in the southern Shiite province of Maysan.

"The Sadr group will not take part in the (provincial) elections as we did in the parliamentary election," said Sheikh Salah al-Obeidi, a spokesman for Sadr in the holy city of Najaf.

"This is the decision as of now by Moqtada and the Sadrists. We want to avoid making the same mistakes of being part of the sectarian divisions."

Iraq is due to hold elections on October 1 in its 18 provinces, a key benchmark set by Washington to stabilise the war-torn country by giving more power to local provincial councils, especially for economic projects.

The Sadr group has 32 lawmakers in the 275-member parliament and the latest decision is seen as a step to consolidate its image as a nationalist and anti-American movement.

It is also thought that by boycotting the elections Sadr is aiming to retain his Mahdi Army militia, which has an estimated 60,000 fighters.

After launching a crackdown on the Mahdi Army in the main southern port city and oil hub of Basra in March, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki vowed to ban any political party with militias from participating in the provincial election.

But the Sadr group said its anti-American stance was behind the decision.

"The (US) occupation is one of the reasons for not participating in the elections," said Liwa Sumaysim, head of the Sadr movement's political bureau.

"We believe that the occupiers are interfering in the work of the councils when it comes to reconstruction of projects and their funding."

The group will, however, support independent candidates.

"By backing independents we believe we can serve the citizens better," said Sumaysim.

Iraq's own presidency had initially objected to a contested provincial elections law passed in February on the grounds that some aspects of the legislation contradicted the Iraqi constitution.

The latest decision by Sadr, who is believed to be in Iran, came after he said on Friday that he plans to form a new militia wing to battle US forces, allowing other members to focus on social issues.

The fight against US troops will now be waged only by the new group, while other members will "take on a social and religious role", he said.

Sunday's announcement came ahead of a planned assault by security forces on rebels in Maysan province and primarily in its capital Amara.

Maliki has given a four-day deadline to Shiite militiamen to surrender their arms in return for cash by June 18.

Sadr's chief spokesman Salah al-Obeidi voiced concern that the Amara assault would target Sadrists.

"We have big fears that this campaign could be directed against Sadrists," Obeidi said. We do not want Basra events to be repeated in Amara."

Hundreds of people were killed in fighting in Basra and in other Shiite parts of Iraq including Sadr's Baghdad stronghold of Sadr City after operations against militias began in March.

Iraqi and US forces have been pouring into Amara since Saturday, and on Sunday troops were seen near the Sadr office, an AFP correspondent reported.

British troops transferred security control of Maysan to Iraqi forces in April 2007, but peace in the province, and Amara in particular, has remained fragile, with intense Shiite infighting.

Iraqi ministry of defence spokesman Mohammed al-Askari said the Maysan crackdown was to "disarm them (militias) and give government buildings back to the government."

Several state properties in Shiite regions have been seized by militias in the last few years.

Six people were killed Sunday in insurgent attacks across Iraq.

Gheddafi lambasts ‘African brother’ Obama

On the 38th anniversary of the expelling of the 12000 Americans from Libya and the closing down of their huge Wheelus airbase in Tripoli, brother Mumar Abu Miniar Al-Gheddafi told Obama “to be proud of his dark skin as the entire African continent is behind him”. Furthermore, Gheddafi asked Obama “to be with the oppressed, underprivileged and poor people of the world like the Africans and the Palestinians”. Gheddafi is afraid that Obama is suffering from an African complex which makes him to be more brutal than the White Americans who usually occupy the Whitehouse. As to Obama’s speech at AIPAC concerning Jerusalem, Gheddafi said “either Obama lacks knowledge of the Palestinian rights or he wanted to tell the Jews a big lie in order to win the election”
As to the excessive increase in oil price, Gheddafi blamed it on Bush's wars.

IOT Comment: Gheddafi toppled King Idris Al-Sinousi on September 1, 1969. Six months later, the Americans vacated Wheelus Airbase, which was one of their biggest airbases outside mainland America. The British forces did the same and vacated Tubrouq.

According to those who specialise in connecting dots, Hilary Clinton's reference to Bobby Kennedy assassination as a reason for her to continue campaigning, was not out of a vacuum. It seems that Hillary was passing MOSSAD threats to Obama if he ever dares to change US committments to Israel. Knowing MOSSAD criminal record, Obama took the threat seriously and rushed to address AIPAC; the rest is history.

Analysts study factual events and connect dots before formulating an intellectual opinion. While analists try to read between the lines before connecting imaginary dots and the construction of a gossip. An example to the analists are Bush, Cheney and their advisors who fabricated, forged and lied with regard to Iraq weapons of mass destruction.

All underdeveloped countries lack good leaderships to put their human and natural resources in a working formula. In Africa, and Latin America, the Whiteman came to give them the bible, to take their lands and to steal their resources. European empires like Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Holland and France sent armies to control local resources and to send them back home. After decades of imperialism very few locals were educated. One can't blame one factor for why these countries remain behind but lack of education is a major contributor.

I wish I can move 10 million Germans to Saudi Arabia and replace them with 10 million Saudis. Aftre 25 years, Saudi Arabia will start exporting Mercedes Benz cars and Germany will monopolise the production of camel milk.

After WWII Germany and Japan were completely destroyed. But in few years, the highly-trained and educated people had re-built their countries.The effect of a good leadership is very clear in China.

Gheddafi is a maverick and on-the-job trainee. He took over the government on 01.09.69 at the age of 27 with an army rank of a First Lieutenant. He has neither stratey nor tactics. He always look for attention. He started promoting the third world theory, saying that Communism and Capitalism have failed and his third way, as stipulated in his 20-page Green Book as the solution. His People's Committees sounded logical but didn't allow them to work because he formed revolutionary committees to control them. He is surrounded by profiteers as most of his development projects are meant for kickbacks and fat commissions and to satisfy the actual needs of the country. The underpopulated country with huge oil revenues cover up most of Gheddafi mismanagement and haphazard domestic and foreign policies. At the beginning, he embraced Nasser Arabism. But later on, he started to find some Africans who are ready to listen to him against receiveing some payments. Gheddafi dreams of an invitation to the Whitehouse, but Bush didn't give him this pleasure.

There are more Jews living in NY than in Israel. They control American politics. After Tel Aviv, Israel's capital must be Washington.

Adnan Darwash, Iraq Occupation Times

“when the poor can't get bread, let them eat cake”

Bush’s plan to help American airlines (satire)

An interview with Iraq Occupation Times (IOT).
IOT: Higher fuel price is forcing US airlines to file for bankruptcy or for Chapter 11, what are the President plans to help the beleaguered US airlines?
Bush: The war on terror, and the American people agree with me on this, will be a long one and there are no ready-made solutions. We have told the world that it is either to be with us and fly US airlines or to be with the terrorists.
IOT: That is clear sir. But how the war on terror can help the US airlines?
Bush: were you trained as a journalist?
IOT: No Sir. I studied economics at Texas A& M when Mr R. Gates was president.
Bush: The reason I asked, is that journalists can’t keep any war secret these days. Back to your question: in the short-term, we are currently using US airlines to secretly fly thousands of our brave troops to airports in Iraq, Israel, Turkey, Persian Gulf States and to Afghanistan. We are paying top prices for our valuable men and women in uniform. We are asking airlines to cancel economy class and make business-class only flights. Afraid of impending war, most local businessmen will leave the area and need business class seats.
IOT: Mr President, how about the long–term prospect?
Bush: In order to reduce the potential terrorist attacks, we plan to ask our European allies to deport all Muslims living in their countries. Naturally the US will assist in the process if they choose to fly on US airlines. You agree with me that these immigrants will be happy to go home on business class. As the French say, “when the poor can't get bread, let them eat cake”
Adnan Darwash, Iraq Occupation Times

Religion is “the opium of nations”.

It was Karl Marx who said that religion is “the opium of nations”. He meant that religion acts as a sedative (Having a soothing, calming, or tranquilizing effect; reducing or relieving anxiety, stress, irritability, or excitement) for the oppressed people who should rebel against those who deprive them of a decent living. Nowadays, it seems that sport became the opium. In foot ball-mad Europe, people are more interested in goals scored by Ronaldo and not about the economic crises facing their respective nations manifested by high energy and food prices or by the home repossession.

In Iraq, people from all walks of life come out celebrating and firing in the air whenever a goal is scored ignoring the miserable living conditions under the brutal and barbaric American occupation. It was no wonder that a frustrated widow wrapped up her dynamite belt and went yesterday 14.06.08 to blow up people celebrating Iraq win on China killing and injuring scores of young Kurds including 12 police officers in a village near Baquba.

These days, football superstars make in a single week more that the yearly income of two university professors in the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany and Spain. Many may think that it is going too far, but it is a free market where at this moment in time entertainment comes before other aspects of the economy. Whether it is the right investment or not, it is irrelevant, as the free market economy has no human face.
Adnan Darwash, Iraq Occupation Times

Clouds striking to the ground

A huge tornado funnel cloud touches down in Orchard, Iowa, Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 9:04 p.m. The Globe Gazette and Mitchell County Press News reported that Lori Mehmen of Orchard, took the photo from outside her front door. Mehmen said the funnel cloud came near the ground and then went back up into the clouds. Besides tree and crop damage, no human injuries were reported.
(AP Photo/Lori Mehmen)

2:19 Or [the parable] of a violent cloudburst in the sky, with utter darkness, thunder and lightning: they put their fingers into their ears to keep out the peals of thunder, in terror of death; but God encompasses [with His might] all who deny the truth.

13:13 and the thunder extols His limitless glory and praises Him, and [so do] the angels, in awe of Him; and He [it is who] lets loose the thunderbolts and strikes with them whom He wills. And yet, they stubbornly argue about God, notwithstanding [all evidence] that He alone has the power to contrive whatever His unfathomable wisdom wills!

2:164 Verily, in the creation of the heavens and of the earth, and the succession of night and day: and in the ships that speed through the sea with what is useful to man: and in the waters which God sends down from the sky, giving life thereby to the earth after it had, been lifeless, and causing all manner of living creatures to multiply thereon: and in the change of the winds, and the clouds that run their appointed courses between sky and earth: [in all this] there are messages indeed for people who use their reason.

7:57 And He it is who sends forth the winds as a glad tiding of His coming grace-so that, when they have brought heavy clouds, We may drive them towards dead land and cause thereby water to descend; and by this means do We cause all manner of fruit to come forth. Even thus shall We cause the \dead to come forth: [and this] you ought to keep in mind.

30:46 for among His wonders is this: He sends forth [His messages as He sends forth] the winds that bear glad tidings, so that He might give you a taste of His grace [through life-giving rains], and that ships might sail at His behest, and that you might go about in quest of some of His bounties, and that you might have cause to be grateful.

30:48 It is God who sends forth the winds [of hope], so that they raise a cloud - whereupon He spreads it over the skies as He wills, and causes it to break up so that thou seest rain issue from within it: and as soon as He causes it to fall upon whomever He wills of His servants - lo! they rejoice,

Saturday, June 14, 2008

one can cut the hate for America with the diamond encrusted sword

The American march on Baghdad to Israeli drums on 20.03.03 had awoken and rushed the Iraqi people into the adoption of a guerrilla warfare tactics in order to harass and to punish the invaders and their mercenaries. Until today, the Americans refuse to accept the fact that it is a genuine Iraqi resistance movement and continue to wrap Al-Qaeda around it. That is despite their latest find in Sinjar which showed the sophisticated Iraqi organisation of the resistance complete with a network of intelligence and counter-intelligence services. Adding insults to US occupation injuries Bush is insisting hat the Iraqis should sign a long-term security agreement unleashing his agents to intimidate and bribe their way. And that what will cause the revolution against the Americans in Iraq. The proposed agreement stipulates a wholesale surrender of Iraq sovereignty, territorial integrity and resources to America for generations to come; which is polarising popular opinion and labelling all those promoting it as traitors.

Not even Prime Minister Al-Maliki can sell the agreement as it reminds Iraqis of their stand against a similar agreement with Britain in 1948, when scores have died in street clashes forcing Saleh Jabbur government to resign and the agreement to be scrapped. Nothing demonstrates the fear of politicians from Iraqi anger than seeing Dr Ahmad Al-Chalabi, who promoted the US invasion, going out of his way to form an Independence Party to defend Iraq against American colonisation. Since no Iraqi Arab wanted to be implicated with signing such an agreement, the Iraqi government have nominated a non-Arab, Kurdish Dr Burham Saleh, to negotiate with Ambassdor Crocker. Bush, Gates and Crocker want the Iraqis to sign the agreement before the end of July 2008. The hate for America in Iraq is so thick that one can cut it with the diamond encrusted sword given to Bush by the Emir of Bahrain.
Adnan Darwash, Iraq Occupation Times

Friday, June 13, 2008

Western Culture made Hijab a disputed topic

By Zainab Mineeia
June 8, 2008
When I came to this country, I took off my hijab. It wasn't an easy decision. I worried at night that God would punish me for it. That's what I had been taught would happen, and it filled me with fear.

I was 27, coming from my home country of Iraq to study in California. I hoped that by taking off the hijab I had been wearing for eight years, I would be able to maintain a low profile. In Baghdad, you keep a low profile to stay alive. But in the United States, I merely wanted not to be judged.

Still, I was filled with anxiety. As I flew toward the United States, I wondered how I would feel when the moment came to appear with my head uncovered.

I knew, of course, that most women in the United States didn't cover their heads. Despite that, I worried that my appearance would draw attention. I was going to stand bare in front of everyone. My neck, my hair, the top of my chest would all be exposed. This might (or might not) go unnoticed by others, but I would be keenly aware of it. I didn't know if I was ready to handle this feeling.

When I arrived at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, at the end of the first leg of my journey, my head was still covered. I let my hair out briefly, but then I covered it again, unsure of myself. I packed the hijab away for good when I arrived at Denver International Airport.

I had talked with my parents about the fact that I might take off the hijab upon my arrival in the States; fortunately they were supportive of the idea. In fact, just a few days before leaving Iraq, I was sitting in the living room with my father.

"My daughter, when you arrive at the Jordanian airport, take your hijab off and fold it in your bag. There is no need to wear it anymore," he said while smoking his cigarette.

I did not comment, nor did I look him in the eye. I was embarrassed and did not want to talk about the subject with him or my mother. I was not used to talking to them about such sensitive, personal subjects. But his words meant a lot to me. Having his blessing was important.

Coming from Iraq, a conservative society in which Islam is the main religion, the hijab was something I had always known. Muslim women begin wearing the hijab at different ages -- some start as young as 8; others start later. Some never wear it at all. We wear it because we are told that it would be a sin not to cover ourselves -- and because we need to be without sin in order to get close to God. Women, we're told, are a source of enticement to men, and we need to be covered so that men won't desire us.

I made the decision to cover my head willingly and without any pressure from my family. My mother and sisters wore it, which made my choice easier. I was 19, and I was becoming more religious in those days and had begun to pray more frequently. I was convinced that it was the right thing to do.

The night before I first wore it to school, I stayed up most of the night. None of my friends knew what I was going to do. I expected it would surprise a lot of people. I was a girl who loved styling my hair and wearing nice things; my friends (many of whom were already wearing the hijab) would know how much I had to give up to wear it.

On the street, I felt a rush of mixed feelings: happiness and shyness, as well as fear that I would regret my decision in the future. But I never thought that taking it off would be an option. Once women wear the hijab, they are not likely to take it off.

These days, the hijab is a controversial subject. Some Muslims argue that it is a must for women, though others think it is not. My friend Dahlia Lamy, for instance, an Iraqi woman I knew in Baghdad who is now studying at Boston University, argues that no verse in the Koran clearly makes the hijab an obligation for women. Lamy is a practicing Muslim, but she believes that most women who wear the hijab have been forced to do so by their fathers and brothers. "I've never worn the hijab, nor do I intend to," she told me. In Turkey -- and even in France -- culture wars have raged over the wearing of the hijab in schools and other places.

The hijab takes different forms. In Iraq, it can be a chest-length veil that is placed around the head and sometimes can connect to a niqab, a cloth that covers the mouth and nose. The wearing of the niqab is not common in Iraq. In Iran and other Persian Gulf countries, women wear an abaya. An abaya is a long black gown that covers the entire body.

My hijab helped me during the rough days after the war began in 2003. It was like a shield, an invisible suit that I always had on when I went out, the suit that kept away the evil eye. It enabled me to keep that all-important low profile.

But even as the hijab kept me safe, it became a burden for many others. After the fall of Saddam Hussein, there was a dramatic increase in the number of women wearing the hijab. Since then, as religious groups have gained more power, it has become dangerous to be spotted without one -- so much so that even Christian women now wear the hijab when they go out. To me, that signified that something was wrong with my country.

The reason I came to the United States was to spend a semester at UC Davis before starting a master's degree program in journalism. I arrived on the flight from Denver in September 2006. It was late at night, and I went immediately to sleep. The next day was my first to go out without the hijab. That morning, I stood in front of the mirror and instead of straightening my hijab, I straightened my hair. It worried me, but I also felt happy.

At first, I looked behind me a lot as I walked down the street, wondering who was looking at me and what they were thinking. But over time, I got used to it. My conscience stopped bothering me, and I became accustomed to being without the hijab in the middle of the day. I remember early on when a woman sipping coffee on her porch said "Good morning" and smiled at me, as if I looked completely normal. That was a peaceful feeling.

For a while, I lived in Davis with another Iraqi woman, who had been wearing the hijab since 2002. When I told her that I had taken off my hijab when I came to the U.S., she was surprised and gave me the look. The look telling me that I had done something wrong. We discussed the issue many times; I felt guilty again and had second thoughts.

After some months, though, she moved to Massachusetts. One day, she called me, and we talked again about her hijab. This time she talked about the discomfort and sometimes even hostility that people seemed to feel when they met her and saw how she was dressed. "They try to hide it, but it's obvious," she said. She said that although real estate agents were positive over the phone, no one would rent her an apartment once they saw her in person. She explained that a woman from the student housing office had had the audacity to explain to her the way toilets are flushed, "As if my hijab was an anti-intelligence sign," she said. "I spent two days crying."
She called me again at the end of December and told me that she too had taken off the hijab. After the conversation ended, I felt a bit relieved; I had apparently made a wise decision and spared myself pain from the start.

At the same time, I was disappointed. We shouldn't have to hide the fact that we're Muslims in order to be treated like everyone else. In some ways, it's as bad to feel pressure to take off the hijab in the United States as it is to be pressured to keep it on in Baghdad. It's sad that people here do not always accept you for who you are.

For myself, I'm comfortable with my decision. But even today, I sometimes take my hijab out of the closet and place it over my head. It feels strange, not unlike the feeling I had when I was preparing to stop wearing it.

At the same time, when I put it on, I feel at home, as if I wasn't far away. It makes me miss the days when I used to match the color of my hijab with my clothes. The hijab was a part of my identity, a part of who I was, and those memories can't be erased.

Zainab Mineeia worked as a translator and reporter for The Times in Iraq in 2005 and 2006. She is now a graduate student at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Crooked companies and corrupt officials preying on weaknesses in the military acquisition system

In this Sept. 19, 2007, file photo, cranes tower over a construction site in Irbil, north of Baghdad. The Army's Criminal Investigation Command is pushing for a dramatic increase in the number of special agents who hunt down crooked companies and corrupt officials preying on weaknesses in the military acquisition system. The dependence on contractors in combat zones has created an environment ripe for contract fraud. Deals are made quickly, often with foreign companies, in countries where bribes are a routine of doing business.
(AP Photo/Yahya Ahmed, File)

In this July 9, 2005, photo, bags of rice purchased from the United States are moved by Iraqi workers at the southern Iraq seaport terminal at Um Qasr.

Insecurity not the only obstacle to Iraq return

12 Jun 2008 13:29:42 GMT
Source: UNHCR
Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.

JAHROM, Iran, June 12 (UNHCR) – Abdul Karim has been waiting eight months to go back to Iraq. Like those who have gone before him, he is fully aware of the problems back home, but is still determined to put years of exile behind him.

The 50-year-old Iraqi refugee is among hundreds of thousands of mostly Shia Muslims who had fled persecution under the late President Saddam Hussein's regime and sought refuge in Iran between the 1970s and the early 1990s. Many returned home in the second half of the 1990s.

The fall of the Baathist regime in 2003 led to another wave of returns from Iran, most of them ethnic Arabs. "Unlike the gradual nature of the influx, repatriation took place overnight," said Shokrollah Kazemifar, the director-general of Iran's Bureau of Aliens and Foreign Immigrant Affairs in Ahwaz, south-western Iran, near the Iraqi border. "Once they decided to go, they demolished their homes and took everything."

Gaitrie Ammersing, UNHCR's protection officer in Ahwaz, noted several reasons for this: "Some refugees say the security situation and job opportunities are gradually improving in southern Iraq. They also tell us it is now much easier to obtain Iraqi documents upon return."

Others say it is getting harder to survive in Iran. "Life is hard here. I work nearby but it's not always easy to find jobs," said Attaye Heidari, who has lived in south-western Iran's Bani Najjar camp for the last 16 years. "I'm hard pressed and thinking about return. I believe life will be better in Basra."

More than 18,000 Iraqi refugees in Iran have been assisted home since November 2003, mostly to areas such as Baghdad and the southern governorates. Numbers peaked in 2004, with over 12,500 returns. Some 230 have repatriated from Iran to the north and south of Iraq so far this year.

The UN refugee agency does not encourage returns to Iraq at the moment, due to the fragile security situation. But it provides some assistance to those who insist on going. This includes interviewing them to make sure return is voluntary and providing a cash grant to help them with transport and initial reintegration costs.

In some cases, complicated clearance procedures have delayed repatriation. Some 300 ethnic Arab Iraqi refugees in Jahrom camp, southern Iran, have been waiting since last year for security clearance from the Iraqi authorities before they can return. Recently, another 200 refugees in the camp expressed interest in returning to Iraq.

"I used to work in a cement factory for shelter construction," said Abdul Karim. "After I registered for repatriation, I sold all my equipment, thinking it would take one to two months. Now we're hearing that security clearance has not come. How long should we wait? My children and I have no jobs. We didn't know it would take this long."

Until recently, applications were sent to Amman in Jordan for processing in Baghdad, which took a long time. However, a new system has helped to speed up security clearance.

"A new Iraqi consul has been set up in Ahwaz, which should expedite the process instead of going through Amman and Baghdad," explained Carlos Zaccagnini, UNHCR's representative in Iran, during a recent visit to the camp. "It will cost US$25 for each family to apply for security clearance there."

Another obstacle to repatriation has been the sporadic closure of the borders at Shalamcheh and Mehran since April for security reasons.

When they finally manage to return home, the returnees will no doubt face many challenges in rebuilding their lives. But they also leave behind some problems in their host communities in Iran. In Bani Najjar camp, for example, sewage has seeped into the nearby farmland and affected the wheat fields. UNHCR has committed itself to helping repair the drainage system in the camp.

"We can't match the government in monetary contributions, but we can bring some technical expertise to lessen any negative impact of refugees' stay on local communities," said Zaccagnini.

There are an estimated 54,000 registered Iraqi refugees living in Iran today, the large majority of them living outside camps, in urban areas.

By Vivian Tan
In Ahwaz, Iran

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Head of Saddam tribe blown up in car bomb blast

The head of the Sunni tribe of Saddam was killed in a bomb attack near the home village of the executed Iraqi dictator(AFP/File/Dia Hamid)

Head of Saddam tribe blown up in car bomb blast 10 Jun 2008 11:24:28 GMT
Source: Reuters
(Adds quotes, details, background)

By Nadheer al-Samarrai

TIKRIT, Iraq, June 10 (Reuters) - The head of Saddam Hussein's tribe was blown up by a bomb attached to his vehicle north of Baghdad on Tuesday, police said.

Major Hassan Emhimid, a police officer in the nearby town of Tikrit, said a bomb appeared to have been fixed to the undercarriage of Sheikh Ali al-Neda's car.

"Sheikh Neda was the victim of assassination. When he left his house there was a bomb in his car that killed him and a driver and wounded two of his guards," said Major Ahmed Subhi, head of a counter-terrorism unit in Salahuddin province.

A spokesman for Salahuddin Governor Hamad al-Qaisi confirmed the sheikh, head of the Albu-Naser tribe, had been killed.

The blast killed Neda after he left his house in Saddam's hometown of Awja and was travelling along the highway to Tikrit, 150 km (95 miles) north of Baghdad, the spokesman and police said.

Qaisi imposed an indefinite curfew in Awja, which was sealed off by police who were searching for suspects, the spokesman said.

It was Neda, a member of Iraq's minority Sunni Arab sect, who took possession of Saddam's body for burial after the Iraqi leader was executed in December 2006 for crimes against humanity. Gunmen shot dead Neda's brother in 2006.

On the first anniversary of Saddam's hanging, Neda had called on Iraqis to forget the past and work for national reconciliation.

"We have to build a future without revenge," he had said. (Additional reporting by Khalid Ansary; Writing by Ross Colvin; Editing by Caroline Drees)


US troops kill son, nephew of Iraqi governor in raid


BAGHDAD: US forces shot dead the 17-year-old son and a nephew of the governor of northern Iraq’s Salahuddin province in a raid yesterday, local officials said.

The US military said it shot two armed men, adding it was later found they were both related to the governor.

Gov. Hamad Al-Qaisi’s brother, Lt. Col. Saad Al-Qaisi, said American troops stormed a family house in the town of Beiji, where the governor’s son Hussam and his cousin were staying.

“They shot dead Hussam and his cousin and wounded three others. This is barbaric and inhuman,” he said.

A statement from the US military said its forces had wounded and captured an Al-Qaeda financier in the house. “As they entered the target building, coalition forces encountered two armed men. Perceiving hostile intent... they shot and killed the men. It was subsequently determined that the two... were related to the governor,” the statement said.

Local officials said Gov. Al-Qaisi had cut short a visit to Turkey because of the shooting.

“We demand an investigation into this incident,” Deputy Gov. Abdullah Jabara said.

Pullout timetable

The Pentagon’s top military officer, meanwhile, said yesterday that a fixed timetable for withdrawing US combat troops from Iraq could jeopardize political and economic progress.

Adm. Mike Mullen said the agreement between President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki to set a “general time horizon” for bringing more troops home from the war was a sign of “healthy negotiations for a burgeoning democracy.”

“I think the strategic goals of having time horizons are ones that we all seek because eventually we would like to see US forces draw down and come home,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman said. “This right now doesn’t speak of either time lines or timetables, based on my understanding of where we are.”

The best way to determine troop levels, he said, is to assess the conditions on the ground and to consult with American commanders — the mission that Bush has given him.

“Should that mission change, and we get a new president, and should those conditions be conditions that get generated or required in order to advise a future president, I would do so accordingly,” Mullen said.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Answers From Iraqi Women, Part V

BAGHDAD — Welcome to the final installment of a weeklong Q&A with Iraq women. Today’s post features a questions from readers about the hijab, women’s equality and video excerpts from a number of our interviews.

As always, we stress that this is not a news survey. Opinions expressed here are those of the person asked; they may not reflect the views of a majority of women in Iraq. Read more …

Q. Can woman be allowed to make their own choice to wear hijab or not?
— Posted by Mike Oliker
Listen to the answer (mp3)
Nidhal Toma, 53-year-old Christian
“If I feel comfortable then I will not hesitate to take off my hijab.”

Q. Since the invasion, have you become more limited in your day-to-day living (education, travel, employment, etc.) specifically because of gender?
— Posted by Nicole
Listen to the answer (mp3)
Sundos Turki, 44
“There is no traveling. No education. All the doors are closed in our faces.”

Thanks to everyone who sent in a question. To submit a suggestion for a future Q&A topic, please use the comment box below.

BAGHDAD — Welcome to Part 3 of a weeklong Q&A with Iraq women. Today’s post features questions from readers on female politicians and talking to children about the war.

As always, we stress that this is not a news survey. Opinions expressed here are those of the person asked; they may not reflect the views of a majority of women in Iraq.

BAGHDAD — Welcome to Part 3 of a weeklong Q&A with Iraq women. Today’s post features questions from readers on female politicians and talking to children about the war.
As always, we stress that this is not a news survey. Opinions expressed here are those of the person asked; they may not reflect the views of a majority of women in Iraq.
Coming tomorrow: questions on women’s rights and access to education.
Q. Do you predict female leadership in Iraq in the future?
— Posted by Tom White
Listen to the answer (mp3)
Um Mustafa, 37-year-old housewife
“The men can not control the situation so how can the women?”

Q. How do you explain this war to your children?
— Posted by Mariana B
Listen to the answer (mp3)
Um Sara, 49-year-old Shiite
“I tell them that Allah cursed and sent them to work against us.”

BAGHDAD — Welcome to Part 2 of a weeklong Q&A with Iraq women. Today’s post features questions from readers about respect for women, happiness and security and what it is like to wear an abaya.
As always, we stress that this is not a news survey. Opinions expressed here are those of the person asked; they may not reflect the views of a majority of women in Iraq.
Coming tomorrow: questions on women as politicians and talking to children about the war.
Q. Do you, as an Iraqi women, feel happier or more secure since the American invasion of Iraq?
— Posted by Kinza
Listen to the answer (mp3)
Hiba Hussain, 24-year-old Shiite
“I quit school because of the security situation and because I was once kidnapped. So I left my education behind.”

Q. What is it physically like under an abaya or completely covered up in other clothing?
— Posted by Lisa Saffer
Listen to the answer (mp3)
Hiba Hussain, 24-year-old Shiite
“Young men really like to stare at uncovered women and their beauty. So I consider the hijab protection for me.”


BAGHDAD — Welcome to Part 2 of a weeklong Q&A with Iraq women. Today’s post features questions from readers about respect for women, happiness and security and what it is like to wear an abaya.

As always, we stress that this is not a news survey. Opinions expressed here are those of the person asked; they may not reflect the views of a majority of women in Iraq.

Coming tomorrow: questions on women as politicians and talking to children about the war.

Q. Do you, as an Iraqi women, feel happier or more secure since the American invasion of Iraq?

— Posted by Kinza


June 2, 2008, 8:03 am

Answers From Iraqi Women

By Eric Owles

BAGHDAD — We had been walking around for an hour asking women questions sent in by our readers when Rawdha Abbas, a 50-year-old Shiite woman, agreed to be interviewed on camera.
Ms. Abbas was dressed in expensive, colorful clothes and shopping in Karada, one of the nicer neighborhoods in the Iraqi capital. As we talked on a busy street corner, Ms. Abbas began to list the various ways that women are not respected in Iraq today. “They are searching us in an unreasonable way,” Ms. Abbas said. Women are shouted at in government offices and forced to pay bribes, she added. Finally, my interpreter asked, “Don’t you feel any freedom now?”

Ms. Abbas answered: “What is the meaning of freedom? There is no security!”
The Iraqi women we interviewed answered readers’ questions about shopping, politics, raising children, visiting relatives and women’s rights. Their responses often touched on the impact of the war and revealed the far-reaching influence of bombings, snipers and checkpoints on everyday life.
I was accompanied by Anwar J. Ali, a journalist working for The Times in Iraq. She acted as my interpreter, and also made the first contact with women. She would approach them, on the streets and in shops, while I hung a few feet back with my video equipment tucked inside a bag. Anwar would explain who we were and ask permission to film an interview.
Most often the answer was no. Some women would agree to an interview only if their faces would not be shown (audio from some of these interviews is available below, with the questions and answers translated into English). Others did not want their names to be used. These women are identified as Um, which translates to “the mother of.” Um Mustafa, for example, means “the mother of Mustafa.”

Q. If you currently have children, do you plan to have more? Or if you don’t currently have children, do you plan to have one?
— Posted by Ann Wilensky
Listen to the answer (mp3)
Asmaa Adnan, 22-year-old Shiite
“We are unable to meet our own needs. So how can we meet our children’s needs then?”

Q. What kind of meals and dishes does the family eat now and how is it prepared? Does this differ from before the American war/occupation and, if so, in what way and why?
— Posted by lois
Listen to the answer (mp3)
Israa Fadhul, 19-year-old Shiite
“Before we didn’t have Pepsi. It was hard to find. And now we’ve stopped drinking water.”

Q. Do you have friends or relatives that are Sunni and of different Shi’ite groups? What has happened to those relationships? What do you see happening to those relationships when the Americans leave?
— Posted by Deborah Levine
Listen to the answer (mp3)
Athraa Hussain, 18-year-old Shiite student
“We have relationships and those relationships continue whether the Americans are here or not.”

We’ll be publishing more answers from Iraqi women in video and audio formats for the rest of the week. Coming tomorrow: questions on respect for women, happiness, security and what it is like to wear an abaya. And we’ll provide video of our interview with Ms. Abbas.
To submit a suggestion for a future Q&A topic, please use the comment box below.

BAGHDAD — We had been walking around for an hour asking women questions sent in by our readers when Rawdha Abbas, a 50-year-old Shiite woman, agreed to be interviewed on camera.

Ms. Abbas was dressed in expensive, colorful clothes and shopping in Karada, one of the nicer neighborhoods in the Iraqi capital. As we talked on a busy street corner, Ms. Abbas began to list the various ways that women are not respected in Iraq today. “They are searching us in an unreasonable way,” Ms. Abbas said. Women are shouted at in government offices and forced to pay bribes, she added. Finally, my interpreter asked, “Don’t you feel any freedom now?”

Ms. Abbas answered: “What is the meaning of freedom? There is no security!”

The Iraqi women we interviewed answered readers’ questions about shopping, politics, raising children, visiting relatives and women’s rights. Their responses often touched on the impact of the war and revealed the far-reaching influence of bombings, snipers and checkpoints on everyday life.

I was accompanied by Anwar J. Ali, a journalist working for The Times in Iraq. She acted as my interpreter, and also made the first contact with women. She would approach them, on the streets and in shops, while I hung a few feet back with my video equipment tucked inside a bag. Anwar would explain who we were and ask permission to film an interview.

Most often the answer was no. Some women would agree to an interview only if their faces would not be shown (audio from some of these interviews is available below, with the questions and answers translated into English). Others did not want their names to be used. These women are identified as Um, which translates to “the mother of.” Um Mustafa, for example, means “the mother of Mustafa.”

As always, we like to stress that this is not a news survey. Opinions expressed here may not reflect the views of a majority of women in Iraq.

Q. If you currently have children, do you plan to have more? Or if you don’t currently have children, do you plan to have one?

— Posted by Ann Wilensky

AudioListen to the answer (mp3)