Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
The full text of the Senators' letter is below:
The Honorable Eric Shinseki
Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420
U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Chairman Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee
U.S. Senator Richard Durbin
Senate Majority Whip
Deputy Press Secretary
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
According to agency reports, NATO confirmed that it bombed the transmitters without giving any details of casualties, posting on its website that their aim was to degrade Libyan leader Gaddafi's "use of satellite television as a means to intimidate the Libyan people and incite acts of violence against them."
"We utterly condemn this action which targeted journalists and threatened their lives in violation of international law. These kinds of actions that use violence to stifle dissident media spell catastrophe for press freedom," said IFJ General Secretary, Beth Costa.
The IFJ says that the bombing is in contravention of UN Security Council resolution 1738, passed in December 2006, which explicitly condemned such attacks against journalists and media, and clearly established that media equipment and installations constitute civilian objects and are not to be considered target of any type for military reprisals.
The IFJ has continually protested these kinds of attacks since the 1999 NATO bombing in Belgrade of the Serbian broadcaster RTS, which killed 16 people. At the time, NATO said the station was a legitimate military target because it was a "propaganda mouth piece" for the regime of Slobodan Milosevic regime.
The IFJ says there is no justification for the action under international law and calls once again on NATO to refrain from such attacks against media.
"Our concern is that when one side decides to take out a media organisation because they regard its message as propaganda, then all media are at risk," said Costa. "In conflict situations, international law is clear that unarmed journalists cannot be treated as combatants, irrespective of their political affiliations."
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 210
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 131 countries
A ludicrous aspect of the whole affair is that at the very moment the rebel leaders are at each other's throats, they are being recognised by country after country as the legitimate government of Libya. This week TNC diplomats took over the Libyan embassies in London and Washington and are about to do so in Ottawa. In a masterpiece of mistiming, Britain recognised the rebel government on the day when some of its members were shooting their own commander-in-chief and burning his body.
Nouri was named prime minister-designate in November. Per the Constitution, he then had 30 days to nominate members of his Cabinet and have the Parliament approve them. But Nouri never nominated a full Cabinet. And to this day, the positions of Minister of the Interior, Minister of Defense and Minister of National Security have never been filled. Every few weeks comes the speculation that finally Nouri is going to make nominations. It's August, eight months after the positions should have been filled. Will Political Stalemate II last longer than the first one?
Dar Addustour states that "informed sources" state that the issue will be resolved "net week" and that the candidates have already been decided. Al Rafidayn states three nominees will be named by the National Alliance and credits the recent House Party at Jalal's for ending the impasse.
The Erbil Agreement called for the creation of a National Council on security issues and called on Ayad Allawi (whose Iraqiya came in first in the March 7th elections) to head the new body. On the first day Parliament met following the Erbil Agreement, many members of Iraqiya walked out when the agreed to creation of this body was immediately tabled. Al Sabaah reports that people expect today's session of Parliament to be "heated" due to the fact that the issue of the National Council is on the agenda -- finally on the agenda. Aswat al-Iraq reports that National Alliance MP Abdul-Hussein Abtan objected at the first reading of the draft law and is stating that the council would have too much power.
The Cabinet was reduced by 17 positions last month. Nouri had promised everyone something in an attempt to sew up votes for prime minister. As a result, even with three ministry heads not named, Nouri kicked things off in December with a bloated Cabinet. Charges of corruption and protests led Nouri to propose trimming the Cabinet's ministers and deputy ministers. Bilgay Duman (Sunday Zaman) calls out the decision:
This decision which was taken with the agreement of political groups of the Republic of Iraq is seen that will cause new problems for Iraq even if it seems as positive at first. First of all, there is a big question mark that is about which tasks will be given to political groups whose ministries are taken over. On the other hand, associating ministries is in question. For instance, associating Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities is being discussed. However, the Ministry of Culture was afforded to the Coalition of Iraqi union under the leadership of Cevat El Bolani who is the former internal affairs minister and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities was afforded to one person of Al-Sadr's group. In case of associating these two ministries, the possibility of being a moot question concerning it will be afforded to which group is pretty high. Because of the fact that there has not been any appointment to ministries, it is thought that the new assignments will raise problems in Iraqi politics. This situation may lead the Republic of Iraq to a new crisis. On the other side, the continuing discussions relating to the existence of American soldiers in Iraq and also the disagreement among political groups might deepen this crisis. In the forthcoming period, the issues such as reviewing of government or calling an early election may be anticipated to be brought up to the agenda again.
Patrick Seale (Gulf News) observes, "Iraq's new-found 'democracy', dominated by Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, is characterised by a great number of parties and splinter groups, all jostling for advantage. This produces a lot of heated talk but not much action — to the extent that a leading Iraqi (consulted for this article) described the Iraqi political scene as resembling that of the French Fourth Republic."
Ali Yussef (AFP) reports 3 people were killed by a bombing of police officer's Ramadi home leaving 3 dead and 24 wounded. As we noted Monday, home bombings are the new craze in Baghdad -- Sunday an Iskandariya home bombing resulted in the death of 5 family members (nine more injured) and a Baghdad home bombing claimed the life of 1 Sahwa and the life of his son (two female family members were injured) and Monday a Haswa home bombing left four members of a police officer's family injured. In addition, AFP notes four bombings slammed Baghdad after sunset with at least ten people left injured.
Yesterday it was still news in Australia that the last 33 Australian soldiers were finally leaving Iraq. Yes, Kevin Rudd lied and said "Elect me and all soldiers come home." Why do you think it was so easy to defeat Kevin Rudd in the first place (Rudd didn't even make a full three years in the post). Jeremy Thompson (Australia's ABC) reports that John Howard's words may come back to haunt him. Howard was prime minister before Rudd. As Tony Blair and Bully Boy Bush lied to their own nations in the lead up to the war, so Howard lied to Australians. Now MP Andrew Wilkie wants Parliament to launch an inquiry into the war and wants Howard to testify before it. The article notes of the start of the illegal war, "At the time, Mr Wilkie was an intelligence officer with the Office of National Assessments (ONA) and resigned his post because he said the Government had no evidence Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction." David Ellery (Canberra Times) explains, "Mr Wilkie said yesterday that Mr Howard and former Coalition foreign minister Alexander Downer must be made to explain why they took Australia to war based on a lie in 2003. He wants an inquiry similar to the one being conducted by Sir John Chilcot in Britain." AAP adds, "No light had ever been shone on the behaviour of Mr Howard and former foreign minister Alexander Downer." News9 reports that Tony Abbott, opposition leader in Parliament, is already shooting down the idea of an inquiry. Meanwhile Dennis Jett (McClatchy Newspapers) notes that the US has had no inquiry:
So why is there no interest in finding out what lessons can be learned from the Iraq experience, what went wrong and who is responsible? The four failures identified by the Chilcot committee apply even more to Bush since Blair was only acting as Bush's poodle. Does America suffer from NADD -- national attention deficit disorder? Or is there another reason.
The war was unnecessary because Saddam Hussein had no WMD. And he wasn't going to get any because the UN inspectors were doing an effective job. The war was illegal, because, as the legal experts in the British Foreign Office concluded, it was against international law. Bush used violations of Security Council resolutions to justify invading Iraq. He never bothered to ask the UN for the authorization that would have legitimized the invasion, however, because he knew he could not get it.