I'm not much of an interior decoration/design type person.
But a friend gifted me with two metal pieces that hold candles.
He thought they would look nice alongside a primarily red painting I have in my dining room. So I took the hammer and nailed them up on either side of the painting and put candles in/on them.
They really do look good and it freshens up the whole room.
Sconces? I didn't know the term until I got the gift.
Thing is, it's addictive.
Having seen how much they freshened up the room, I'm looking all over my house trying to figure out what else I can do where.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
All of these words whispered in my ear
Tell a story that I cannot bear to hear
Just cause I said it, it don't mean that I meant it
People say crazy things
Just cause I said it, don't mean that I meant it
Just cause you heard it
Rumor has it
-- "Rumor Has It," written by Adele and Ryan Tedder, first appears on Adele's 21
Rumor has it on Arabic Facebook sites (and other social media) today that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has passed away. Last December, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke. The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital. Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany. He remains in Germany currently. All Iraq News reports his political party, the Kurdistan Patriotic Union, has issued a denial: "The reports that were posted via some Facebook pages regarding the death of Talabani are totally groundless."
Iraq has three security ministries. One person should head each one. But Nouri never nominated people to head the ministries. Back in July 2012, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support."
The Iraqi Constitution explains how someone becomes prime minister. First, the Iraqi president names a prime minister-designate. That person then has 30 days to put together a cabinet. Putting together a cabinet includes nominating the people, getting Parliament to agree on the people (vote their consent). The only way someone moves from prime minister-designate to prime minister is via the Cabinet. This does not mean a partial Cabinet. The reason for this clause is that this is supposed to demonstrate that the person can work with the Parliament, provide leadership and, where needed, make the needed compromise. An Iraqi who was part of drafting the 2005 Constitution e-mailed that "the entire purpose [of this process] was to prevent a Maliki type from becoming prime minister. His failures in his second term can be traced to his failure [as prime minister designate] to work with the parliament."
How did Nouri move from prime minister-designate to prime minister when he failed the only task for the position? Failure to name a Cabinet (in full) in 30 days means the Iraqi president is supposed to name another person to be prime minister-designate.
Nouri was able to ignore the Constitution in 2010 because his being named prime minister-designate ignored the Constitution as well. The prime minister-designate is supposed to come from the political party or political slate that won the most votes. Nouri's State of Law came in second to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya. Allawi should have been named prime minister-designate.
Nouri at first screamed for a recount. When that didn't change the outcome signficantly, he dug in his heels and refused to relinquish his position. For eight months, he refused to step down. Having the backing of the United States allowed him to do that. They should have eased him out.
They actually should have listened to Gen Ray Odierno who was the top US commander in Iraq at the time. Before the March 2010 elections, Odierno was saying Nouri might not come in first (a prospect the press refused to entertain) and Odierno was saying that Nouri might refuse to step down. But the idiot Chris Hill, apparently half-baked on who knows what, insisted that wasn't going to happen and went around Odierno to the White House which chose to believe Hill and not Odierno. History has demonstrated the lousy US Ambassador to Iraq to be an idiot and Odierno to be someone with keen observational skills.
The White House didn't just cover for Nouri to keep him in power for eight months after the elections, they also pushed and prodded the leaders of the various political blocs to sign off on a contract known as The Erbil Agreement. This contract circumvented the Iraqi Constitution to give Nouri a second term (illegally give him a second term). Since The Erbil Agreement gave him a second term, Nouri was not required to meet the 30-day rule for naming a Cabinet.
And the effects of that illegal maneuver by the US government can be immediately seen in the increased violence today.
"We are new to democracy, as a country, we are new to that." We'll come back to that quote. Right now, let's look at some of today's violence.
National Iraqi News Agency reports 1 Mosul shop owner was shot dead in his store, a roadside bombing near Tikrit claimed 1 life and left another person injured. and an Iraqi army officer was shot dead outside Rashad. EFE reports, "Nine people were killed and 30 others injured Thursday in a bombing at a market west of Baghdad, Iraqi police told Efe. The attack took place in Abu Ghraib, home of the notorious prison." Fu Peng (Xinhua) focuses on another bombing, "Also, at least two civilians were killed and 30 wounded when a truck bomb detonated near a house of a police officer in Imam Ahmed district in the city of Tuz-Khurmato, some 180 km north of Baghdad, a local police source anonymously told Xinhua. The huge blast left some 15 nearby houses and several private cars damaged, the source said." All Iraq News notes that the corpses of 10 young adults (ages "17 to 25") were discovered in Baghdad (all were shot dead). EFE adds the ten were all men. AFP provides this context, "Summary executions were commonplace at the height of the Sunni-Shiite conflict when many thousands of people were killed in cold blood. But this was the first time in several years that such a large number of bodies had been found in one place." Found? Reuters reports "unusual vehicle traffic" to and from an abandoned building caught the attention of children who entered them empty building and found the corpses "inside one of its rooms" according to a police source. Fang Yang (Xinhua) also notes a police source for the information that the corpses "were blindfolded and handcuffed with bullet holes in the heads." That's 24 reported dead and 61 reported injured.
But that wasn't all the violence. NINA reports:
Police source told NINA that gunmen opened fire, using guns with silencers, at a shop owner in Ishaqi district, south of Tikrit, killing him instantly, for cooperating with security forces.
He added that 3 improvised explosive devices went off near the body of the deceased, when people and security forces gathered, killing 5 persons and wounding 18 others.
He added that 3 improvised explosive devices went off near the body of the deceased, when people and security forces gathered, killing 5 persons and wounding 18 others.
Killed for cooperating with security forces? And on the same day the Ministry of the Interior was attempting to spin cooperation. Today Deputy Interior Minister Adnan al-Assadi told Al-Shorfa that Iraq's tips line was a huge success. He insisted that there "terrorism-related notifications has increased by 40% in comparison to the figure from August." Wow. Nearly double. Can al-Assadi do math? Some people -- and at one point a talking Barbie doll -- found math to be hard. I certainly don't consider myself to be a math expert. But if I'm reading an article about how helpful these phone call-ins are and how their number has basically doubled and then you tell me that these tips have helped you "arrest 28 suspects," even I can see something wrong with that picture. And that's before you factor in that 28 suspects arrested is not even a large daily number -- mass arrests account for twice that on a slow day in Iraq of late. And let's not forget that Nouri used yesterday's weekly address to sell the Iraqi equivalent of NYC's "If you see something, say something." If you've had a 40% increase, you use your weekly address to thank people for that, not to beg them to call your hotline.
And in that classic story, you find what continues to fuel the violence in Iraq. Nouri's answer has repeatedly been mass arrests which have imprisoned many innocents. This only further destabilizes the country. And, as this takes place, the idiot Nouri doesn't even have, all these years later, ministers to head the security ministries.
Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count puts the number of violent deaths in the country so far this month at 651. And UNAMI issued the following yesterday:
Baghdad, 18 September 2013 - The Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (DSRSG) for Iraq, Mr. Gyorgy Busztin, expressed extreme concern about sectarian based displacement after recent worrying reports about forcible expulsion of Al Saadoun tribal communities from Dhi-Qar and Shabak communities from Ninewa, along with killings of members of Sunni community in Basra. كوردی
"The use of violence and intimidation against communities by illegal armed groups forcing them to flee their homes is unacceptable and a clear violation of basic human rights," DSRSG Busztin said, stressing that this worrying trend may pose grave risks for Iraq's social cohesion and may be disruptive to the ongoing efforts for national reconciliation.
The UN Envoy called on the Iraqi authorities to protect communities from attack, ensuring their safety, security, and right to a peaceful life free of intimidation.
The Kurdish Globe reminds the UN's death toll for last month was 800 Iraqis killed and that 5,000 have been killed so far this year. And yet what Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reported back in July 2012 is still true today, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support."
"We are a new democracy, as a country, we are new to that." Lukman Fally declared that yesterday at the Brookings Institution. He is correct in his statement. And we can see how the White House circumventing democracy in Iraq to give second-place Nouri a second term has effected the country in terms of immediate violence. There's no denying the impact there.
But there are other impacts. We saw one today with the laughable Social Peace Conference -- it has at least four other bad names but that's the one the US used and since it was really their staged event, let's go with that.
But before we do, let's drop back to the day after The Erbil Agreement was signed. From the November 11, 2010 Iraq snapshot:
Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's eight months and three days and still counting.
Today the KRG website announces:
Baghdad, Iraq (KRP.org) - Iraq's political leaders yesterday agreed to hold the parliamentary session as scheduled on Thursday and to name an individual for the post of Speaker of the the parliament (Council of Representatives). The Speaker post will go to the Al-Iraqiya bloc, which is headed by former prime minister Ayad Allawi.
During the meeting, which was attended by the leaders of all the winning blocs at President Masoud Barzani's Baghdad headquarters, agreement was reached on two other points: to create a council for strategic policy and to address issues regarding national reconciliation.
President Barzani, who sponsored the three days' round of meetings, stated that today's agreement was a big achievement for Iraqis. He expressed optimism that the next government will be formed soon and that it will be inclusive and representative of all of Iraq's communities.
Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports one hiccup in the process today involved Ayad Allawi who US President Barack Obama phoned asking/pleading that he accept the deal because "his rejection of post would be a vote of no confidence". Ben Lando, Sam Dagher and Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) confirm the phone call via two sources and state Allawi will take the post -- newly created -- of chair of the National Council On Higher Policy: "Mr. Obama, in his phone call to Mr. Allawi on Thursday, promised to throw U.S. weight behind the process and guarantee that the council would retain meaningful and legal power, according to the two officials with knowledge of the phone call."
With that in mind, let's turn to today's pretend event. NINA quotes Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi speaking at the Social Peace Conference:
What is going in the region of coups and sudden political transformations, is calling everyone to behave as wise as possible in order to avoied our people the major disasters. The initiative put forward by Vice President Khudair Alkhozai is one of the opportunities that we should stand with unreacted attitude.
All Iraq News notes he also criticized Nouri:
He assured in his speech during the conference "The government failed in setting plans to protect churches and the mosques."
"It also failed in reducing the organized displacing process for the Shabak community in northern Iraq and al-Sadoun tribe in the south in addition to neglecting the demonstrators' demands," he concluded.
KRG President Massoud Barzani signed the agreement but stated temporary agreements would only lead to more violence and that the Iraqi protesters must be listened to and their demands met. Alsumaria notes that various leaders signed a sort of peace pact -- non-binding. All Iraq News notes Nouri held a press conference after and declared, "We will not consider the absence of the political leaders from the Social Peace Conference as a suspension and we will contact them."
Photos of the event are revealing. They are group photos. Not crowd photos. That allows the US helpers to hide (but they were present and spotted entering the meeting as Arabic social media notes). More to the point, if Ayad Allawi hadn't announced he wouldn't be attending and if his political foes weren't making a to-do about that, would anyone have noticed?
No one appears to have noticed that Moqtada al-Sadr was not present.
All Iraq News notes Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi did not attend the Social Peace Conference. Good. He shouldn't. He also announced he wasn't attending yesterday. It's not a peace conference. It's a US-event and Allawi shouldn't give it credence.
Allawi has trusted the White House far too much. He is the Al Gore of Iraq, the people's choice for leader who had the election stolen for him. In 2000, the US Supreme Court stole the election on behalf of Bully Boy Bush. In 2010, the White House stole the Iraqi election on behalf of Nouri al-Maliki.
You sort of get the idea that if the US wanted any credibility with Allawi right now, they'd dispatch Al Gore to Iraq to commiserate in an "I feel you" conversation.
Allawi's been loathe to criticize the White House for the same reason that Gore doesn't call out the Supreme Court -- it will be seen as whining. But in this summer's interview with the BBC, prompted repeatedly, he was able to note that, yes, the White House broke their word.
Why did they do it?
The Erbil Agreement was made because Barack listened to idiots (including Samantha Power and Chris Hill) and refused to listen to Vice President Joe Biden who actually knew all about Nouri. The argument was that with Nouri they could get what the US government wanted. So they pushed for Nouri. To get The Erbil Agreement signed by the leaders -- including Allawi -- they insisted it was legally binding. They insisted that their promise in writing that Nouri gets a second term is as binding as Nouri's promises to them in writing -- in the same contract. Furthermore, the contract -- they insisted -- had the full backing of the US.
Nouri never lived up to any of his promises. He has not implemented Article 140 of the Constitution (as the Kurds want -- and also as the Constitution requires him to do). He's not created an independent national security commission. He's not done any of it.
And the White House doesn't give a damn.
Let's go back to 2010 for a Guardian report by Martin Chulov:
Barack Obama will today make a personal plea to Ayad Allawi to join a coalition government with his rival Nouri al-Maliki in a deal designed to end eight months of political deadlock in Iraq.
The US president's intervention comes as fears grow among Iraqi leaders and US diplomats that Allawi – the leader of the bloc that won the most votes in March's election – will walk away from the government outlined by the Kurdish regional president, Masoud Barzani, today.
Although Allawi is expected to let his followers take up positions in the new administration, his rejection of post would be a vote of no confidence in a deal described by the US as "a big step forward for Iraq".
Until now, Obama has left efforts to bring about a power-sharing deal to his deputy, Joe Biden, who has made at least three trips to Iraq since the inconclusive election.
The White House lied to Allawi. Specifically, Barack lied to him. They used him to give their illegal contract the air of legality and acceptance.
Today they wanted to use him again.
What struck me most about the BBC interview after Allawi's reluctance to name the US government as one of the betrayers (under pressure, he finally did) was how disappointed he still was by what took place.
He was lied to and he was used.
Attending today's event would have been embracing that all over again.
The US Embassy organized the faux event with Brett McGurk acting as lead (and as usual, unable to keep his trap shut -- and somebody tell his latest wife that, true or false, there are rumors -- two reporters passed it on to me -- that his zipper's again come down). The point was to create this 'reset' for Iraq that would have the press citing this non-event as a starting point and not the April event so many outlets are currently using.
That would be the April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from Nouri's federal forces storming in. Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk) announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault. AFP reported 53 dead for several days now -- indicating that some of the wounded did not recover. UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).
The US State Dept ordered a re-set point to be established ahead of Nouri's expected visit to the White House later this month. They really want the press focusing on this non-event, on this so-called peace conference (which accomplished nothing) as opposed to focusing on the massacre as Nouri and Barack pose together for pictures.
Today's staged event wasn't about peace. It wasn't about the Iraqi people. It was about spiffing up Nouri before he hits the US so that Barack is protected.
The smartest thing Ayad Allawi could have done was not participate in the farce.
While not attending the meet-up, Allawi did Tweet:
That's one example of how democracy was harmed in Iraq. But how much harm has been done to democracy now that the Iraqi people see their own votes overturned by the White House? We'll get a glimpse of how that may have impacted democracy's chances in Iraq early next year if parliamentary elections are held on time.
Elections are taking place now in the KRG, provincial elections. The three provinces of northern Iraq that make up the semi-autonomous KRG (Dohuk, Erbil and Sulaimaniya) actually started the vote today. All Iraq News reports that this special day of voting for security forces (who will be working Saturday when the vote officially takes place) was supposed to end at 5:00 pm; however, the large turnout was something of a surprise and the Independent High Electoral Commission decided to extend the voting by one hour meaning that voting went on for 11 hours (from seven in the morning until six in the evening). All Iraq News notes that, by noon, participation "in Erbil reached 58%" and 54% in Sulaimaniya. AFP reports:
The Sept. 21 vote is the first to be held in Kurdistan, a three-province autonomous region in north Iraq, in more than four years.
It will see three main parties jostle for position in the Kurdish parliament, with long-term implications both domestically and farther afield. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of regional president Massud Barzani is widely expected to garner the largest number of seats.
But the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which is in government with the KDP, faces a challenge from the Goran faction in its own backyard as it struggles with leadership questions as its long-time chief Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president recovers in Germany from a stroke.
The IHEC issued the following today:
A delegation from the Human Rights Commission represented by the Members, Dr. Bushra al Obeidy and Dr. Fadel al Ghrawi visited on 11 September the Kurdistan Region Electoral Office (KREO) to discuss ways of cooperation between the two institutions since both institutions played a great role in supporting the democratic process in Iraq through the right of Iraqi citizen to live peacefully and participate in the elections
The delegation was received by the IHEC Chief Electoral Officer, Mr. Mukdad al Sharify and the Board of Commissioners Members, Mr. Muhsen al Musawi and Mr. Wael al Waely
The meeting was addressed also participation and accreditation of the Human Rights Commission as observers to monitor the upcoming parliamentary elections of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq scheduled on 21 September
The IHEC has mobilized all its efforts for the success of the upcoming electoral process in the region
AFP's Prashant Rao is in the KRG to report on the vote. Today, he Tweeted:
Press TV has a video report on the voting today here.
Meanwhile, Raja Abdulrahim (Los Angeles Times) reports:
An Al Qaeda-linked group in Syria has seized control of a strategic town near the border with Turkey after clashing with fighters from the mainstream opposition Free Syrian Army, or FSA.
The capture of Azaz puts the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria less than a mile from the Bab al-Salameh border crossing, which has been under opposition control for more than a year.
This is exactly why you don't support the so-called 'rebels.' al Qaeda either is or is not a terrorist group. The US government has maintained it is and that it is responsible for the attacks on the US in 2001. That's not ancient history. The White House does not need to be in bed with those who are supposed to be responsible for bringing down the Twin Towers. But the White House is in bed with them.
Albert Aji and Bassem Mroue (AP) add, "The U.S. and its European and Gulf allies are increasingly concerned about the rising prominence of Islamists among the rebels, who have been playing a major role in the battles against President Bashar Assad's forces." Way too late, as Ruth Sherlock (Telegraph of London) explains, "The seizure of the town puts al-Qaeda in control of territory immediately adjoining a Nato country for the first time, a development that will heighten fears in the West about the rapidly growing power of jihadist groups within the rebellion against the Syrian regime."
The US State Dept didn't hold a press briefing today -- apparently under the assumption that any of that clown might distract from the War Clown John Kerry's little event. The Secretary of State continues to preach war on Syria. And you wonder why I'm not noting FPIF and IPS with their stupid articles about how 'we won, no war on Syria!' Are we really that stupid? Or maybe just they are. Syria is a target. It remains one. Kerry's remarks today make that clear (link is text and video):
We really don’t have time today to pretend that anyone can have their own set of facts approaching the issue of chemical weapons in Syria. This fight about Syria’s chemical weapons is not a game. It’s real. It’s important. It’s important to the lives of people in Syria, it’s important to the region, it’s important to the world that this be enforced – this agreement that we came out of Geneva with. And for many weeks, we heard from Russia and from others, “Wait for the UN report. Those are the outside experts.” That’s a quote. “That is the independent gold standard.” That’s a quote.
Well, despite the efforts of some to suggest otherwise, thanks to this week’s long-awaited UN report, the facts in Syria only grew clearer and the case only grew more compelling.
And that's about enough from him. I love you as a person, John, but I'm having a real struggle with you as a politician right now as you lie and whore for war.
It's also not a good day for John to be trumpeting 'facts' to the American people. None of his 'facts' on Syria have yet to pan out. He was ridiculed by everyone this month for his lie that he (and Chuck Hagel) had been against the Iraq War (both voted to authorize it, neither voted to end it). And today, as al Qaeda makes its presence felt even stronger in Iraq, John wants to talk 'facts' again?
Learn to seize your moment. This was not John Kerry's day. Events ensured that he would look like a liar (and on Syria, he is a liar, a big liar). Mitchell Prothero (McClatchy Newspapers) reports:
This week’s takeover of Syrian rebel posts by al Qaida-linked fighters undercuts Secretary of State John Kerry’s assertion to Congress earlier this month that moderates make up the bulk of the guerrilla movement against President Bashar Assad’s regime and are growing stronger.
Kerry told Congress that Islamist extremists make up only 15 to 25 percent of the rebels. But a closer examination of the composition of fighting groups suggests that his figure is low.
Charles Lister, an analyst for IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center in Great Britain, circulated a study this week that showed that al Qaida-linked fighters and “hard-line Islamists” who coordinate closely with them number more than 40 percent of the anti-Assad forces. “Genuine moderates, with a distinctly nationalist-secular outlook,” Lister said, account for 20 to 25 percent of the estimated 100,000 anti-Assad fighters.
Again, not the day for John to lecture about 'facts.' And it's really past time he stopped being the skirt Barack hides behind.
Today, after a semi-lengthy delay to take an official photo of the 113th Congress' House Veterans Affairs Committee, the Committee held a hearing. Having sat through it, I'd like to cover it. Maybe in tomorrow's snapshot. I'd also like to get to David Swanson's radio program this week. I also need to note a friend standing up to the war machine (while others present fawned). And I sat through the Brooking event so I'd like to cover that. There's not room for any of it today. We do have to make room for an upcoming event because it's important to get the word out on it. From Restore the Fourth:
Join Restore the Fourth, Access, ACLU, Center for Democracy and Technology, Demand Progress, EFF, Fight for the Future, Free Press, reddit, Mozilla, Public Knowledge & More
Stop Watching Us: A Rally Against The NSA's Mass Surveillance | Washington, DC 10/26
The recent NSA revelations have laid it all out: The NSA is watching us online and on our phones. The NSA has corrupted security and cryptography, undermining the fabric of the Internet. Its overreaching surveillance is creating a climate of fear, chills free speech, and violates our basic human rights -- and it operates without any meaningful oversight.But a movement is building to change all this. And we're about to take the next step.
On Saturday, October 26 — the 12th anniversary of the signing of the USA PATRIOT Act — thousands of people from across the political spectrum will unite in Washington, D.C. to proclaim: Enough is enough. Stop watching us.
StopWatching.Us is a diverse coalition including more than 100 public advocacy organizations and companies from across ideological lines, including the ACLU, Access, Demand Progress, Electronic Frontier Foundation, FreedomWorks, Fight for the Future, Free Press, Mozilla, reddit, Restore the Fourth and Thoughtworks. This coalition is working to organize the biggest mass protest of the NSA’s surveillance programs to date. Will you join us?
Hundreds of thousands of people have spoken out since the major NSA leaks began this June. More than 560,000 people took action at StopWatching.Us by signing our petition to the U.S. Congress. Dozens of members of Congress have introduced bills aimed at reining in the NSA, and hundreds of organizations and companies are uniting to end the NSA's unconstitutional surveillance.
But we will only succeed if we take the next step and raise our voices.
At the StopWatching.Us rally on October 26, we’ll remind our elected officials that they work for us, not the NSA. We are demanding a full Congressional investigation of America’s surveillance programs, reform to federal surveillance law, and accountability from public officials responsible for hiding this surveillance from lawmakers and the public. And we will personally deliver the half million petition signatures to Congress.
This will be the biggest rally for privacy the U.S. has ever seen. Will you be there?
national iraqi news agency
all iraq news
iraq body count
the los angeles times