Wednesday, March 27, 2013

NBC advises . . .

I had an e-mail from NBC informing me that "The Stand," Monday night's episode of Revolution, went online today.  You can stream it at the NBC Revolution page.  I was also informed in the e-mail that all the other episodes before it were streamable at the page today "and were as well on Tuesday."

Whether this was a glitch, NBC not posting the Monday episode until today, or whether it was in response to sentiments like the ones I expressed yesterday in "Revolution -- the new Harry's Law," I don't know.

If you want me to cover that episode, let me know.  If so, I'll do it Friday.  (Tomorrow night is Whitney!!!!)  I do know, from your e-mails, a few of you walked on Revolution Tuesday and don't plan to come back (due to the episode not being streamable).  That includes Janine who e-mailed me that she bought the episode from Amazon and figured it would be her farewell gift regarding Revolution.

I do understand that.  SO if you don't want me to cover it, let me know.  And if you do want me to, let me know.  (My guess?  I'll be covering it Friday.  Then again, saying that may make the ones who would want me to cover it not weigh in.  It's part of my evil ploy.)

Troy pointed out something really important.  He discusses the episode at work.  He has an HDTV.  He does not a video recording device.  So on Tuesday mornings, he gets on his treadmill and watches the episode again before hitting the shower and going to work.

He says he sometimes feels confused and needs that second viewing to feel comfortable discussing the show.

I do understand that.  Friday morning, my boss wanted to discuss Scandal and I asked her flat out, "What was Jake [Scott Foley] fighting with that guy about?"

And she explained it to me.  But I had a knock at the door and I stepped away during a commercial break.  It was a neighbor who was looking for a package (the neighbor to the left of me had signed for it) and it was over, I thought, quickly.  But I walk in on Jake going to town on this guy and stealing something and I couldn't figure it out.

Even now, I wonder why he beat up the guy.  But I don't think Jake's all there. 

Anyway, I do understand the need for the second viewing.  I also know that I don't DVR and have no plans to.  DVR is the new VCR.  Meaning, it hasn't yet hit the point where you use it wisely.

When we got our first VCR, every sporting event and every ABC soap opera was recorded.  Over and over.  And in addition to those for my parents, I was recording.  In fact, we really couldn't watch sometimes what we'd recorded because we were, at that time, recording something else.  So we ended up getting two VCRs.  One to record on, one to watch on.

Right now people tend to be hogging out on DVR the way they did on VCR.

I can't afford it (time wise).

So I count on ABC and NBC (I don't watch anything on CBS, if I did, it would be "The Good Wife," but I don't even watch that) to let me watch when I can.  Meaning, if I have a date on Monday night, I'm not saying, "No, I can't because . . . is on."

Oh, I also watch Nikita (CW) and let me include Mike in here, "I'm not planning on taking off any days this week but I want to remind you, new episode of Nikita on Friday and there are no repeats until the season finale, one week after another, new episodes."

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, March 27, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Tareq al-Hashemi voices thoughts on where things are headed for Iraq, protesters meet with politicians from Iraqiya to discuss demands, Iraq resumes executions, Lt Dan Choi prepares for tomorrow's DC trial, and more.

Today Anonymous Tweeted:

He fought for us now let's fight for him.

Anonymous is right.  Dan Choi fought for equality.  Now the Justice Dept, the administration, wants to trash him.  He fought for equality and they're dragging him into court tomorrow.  Peace activist Cindy Sheehan notes, "Dan Choi served his country and stood up for something bigger when he got home -- and they still prosecute him for making a difference.  This is insane."  So what's he going on trial for?  Protesting.  You'd think this was Nouri al-Maliki's Iraq the way the White House is trying to treat a protester.

Adam vs the Man is a show hosted by Iraq War veteran Adam KokeshLast week, Adam spoke with Dan.  Dan was opposed -- as were most people -- to the policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell which allowed gay men and women to serve in the military as long as they hid who they were or lied about who they were.  From the broadcast.

Dan Choi:  Don't Ask, Don't Tell was a violation of the Constitution, I thought.   But it prevented me from telling the truth about who I was even though the West Point honor code said, "You will not lie or tolerate those who do."  And I never really thought that it was a lying issue, I never really thought that it was an honor or integrity issue because I said, "This is the rule, this is what I signed up for, I knew that was part of the contract."  And it wasn't until I fell in love for the very first time -- I was 26-years-old.  And I never had a girlfriend.  Never had a boyfriend.  Never expressed love.  Never felt that somebody else was that important to me, that would be more important to me than myself.  And when I did fall in love, and I had come back from Iraq, that's when I realized that it really was lying.  When you have to lie about the person that supports you no matter what, when you put them in the closet, it then became an intensely selfish thing, Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  And I know a lot of soldiers are out there, and I used to think the same way, that it's a very noble thing to suffer.  That's a very common soldier-military mentality.  And then I realized because you're forcing someone else to go into nonexistence for your own career, or for your own status or paycheck or rank, that's not anything that I signed up for.  I never got promised that I would be a one-star general, four-star general. That's not what service was about.  So I looked down the barrel of possibly of giving up everything in order to live a life of real truth.  And it was because of love that I found out what the honor code really meant.  In many ways that's sad --

Adam Kokesh: (Laughing) That's not how the Army planned it, Dan!

Dan Choi:  I sort of went off the -- off the plan.   But sometimes in your life and in your journey, you realize that your training is not just what's comfortable, it's not what everybody else is doing.  That's when your training really does come into play, when you're in the middle of combat, that's one kind of bravery.  But then going home to my parents after having falling in love and wanting to come out to them -- I had come out to my cousin, I had come out to my sister, I had come out to some of my friends in the Army.  But I was afraid of coming out to my dad, coming out to my mom.  And I thought it was like going into combat without the body armor. 

Peter G. Tatchell (Huffington Post UK) explains:

This Thursday, 28 March, at 9am in the US District Court, Washington DC, gay Army Lieutenant Dan Choi, Arabic linguist, West Point graduate and Iraq war veteran, stands trial for his past protests against the since repealed anti-gay military policy 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' (DADT).
[. . .]
In 2010, to protest against his dismissal, and against President Obama's failure to repeal DADT, Choi handcuffed himself to the White House fence three times. These protests help force the issue of DADT up the political agenda at a time when the Oval Office and Congress were dragging their heels on repeal.
Choi explained why he resorted to direct action methods: "We knew that presidential leadership was critical to civil rights and military service. Our Commander In Chief finally led only after we used the same tactics of Alice Paul, the Suffragettes, African American civil rights protestors, and many other identity groups that have won their equality through sacrifice."
Three years after Choi's handcuffing protests, the US Federal Attorney's Office refuses to dismiss the charges against him. The prosecution is being pursued by Assistant US Attorney, Angela S. George.

Tomorrow, before the trial goes into session, there will be a pre-trial rally on the steps of the courthouse with speakers like Peter Tatchell, the NAACP's Ben Jealous, Evelyn Thomas, Robin Tyler and Rev Jesse Jackson.

Moving over to Iraq, AFP reports that Iraq executed 18 people this month.   November 29th, speaking to the United Nations Security Council, Martin Kobler noted the vast number of executions that had taken place in 2012. 

Martin Kobler:  To date, this year, 123 people have been executed in Iraq.  53 of them since July.  The latest executions were carried out on 11 November, when 11 convicts were executed, including one Egyptian.  I continue to reiterate the Secretary-General's call in his report for the government of Iraq to consider a moratorium on all executions, in accordance with the relevant General Assembly resolutions. 

Kolber is the Special Envoy to Iraq for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.  Today KUNA notes, "EU High Representative Catherine Ashton [. . .] expressed concern over recent reports of a number of executions in Iraq."  Elena Ralli (New Europe) quotes Ashton stating:

I deeply regret that the authorities have chosen to re-start executions now, when the Iraqi government had committed to re-examining the cases of prisoners and detainees. Iraq is aware of the EU's unequivocal position against the death penalty. The EU strongly believes that capital punishment violates the most fundamental of human rights. The EU appreciates the seriousness of the crimes for which those sentenced to death have been convicted. The EU however does not believe death penalty will act as a deterrent.

Ashton is only one of many who've expressed concerns recently.   At the end of last year, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme's Deputy Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui declared, "Death sentences are being flung out after grossly unfair trials relying on 'confessions' obtained under torture.  Instead of carrying out executions, the Iraqi authorities should prioritize fixing its deeply flawed criminal justice system."  Also last year, Human Rights Watch's Joe Stork pointed out, "The Iraqi authorities' insistence on carrying out this outrageous string of executions, while unwilling to reveal all but the barest of information, underlines the opaque and troubling nature of Iraq's justice system.  Rather than executing people, Iraq should focus on reforming its security and judicial systems to protect its citizens from increasing human rights violations."  Dahr Jamail (Al Jazeera) recently outlined the process to obtaining one 'confession' in Iraq:

One Iraqi woman, speaking on condition of anonymity, said her nephew was first detained when he was just 18. Held under the infamous Article Four which gives the government the ability to arrest anyone "suspected" of terrorism, he was charged with terrorism. She told, in detail, of how her nephew was treated:

"They beat him with metal pipes, used harsh curse words and swore against his sect and his Allah (because he is Sunni) and why God was not helping him, and that they would bring up the prisoners' mothers and sisters to rape them," she explained to Al Jazeera.  "Then they used electricity to burn different places of his body. They took all his cloths off in winter and left them naked out in the yard to freeze."

Her nephew, who was released after four years imprisonment after the Iraqi appeals court deemed him innocent, was then arrested 10 days after his release, again under Article 4. This law gives the government of Prime Minister Maliki broad license to detain Iraqis. Article four and other laws provide the government the ability to impose the death penalty for nearly 50 crimes, including terrorism, kidnapping, and murder, but also for offenses such as damage to public property.
While her nephew was free, he informed his aunt of how he and other detainees were tortured.

"They made some other inmates stand barefoot during Iraq's summer on burning concrete pavement to have sunburn, and without drinking water until they fainted. They took some of them, broke so many of their bones, mutilated their faces with a knife and threw them back in the cell to let the others know that this is what will happen to them."

She said her nephew was tortured daily, as he wouldn't confess to a crime he says he didn't commit. He wouldn't give names of his co-conspirators, as there were none, she said.
"Finally, after the death of many of his inmates under torture, he agreed to sign up a false confession written by the interrogators, even though he had witnesses who have seen him in another place the day that crime has happened," she added.

The forced 'confessions,' the torture to produce them, has gone on in Iraq repeatedly. Amnesty International's just released  [PDF format warning] "Iraq: A Decade of Abuses"  explains how the 'confessions' are then used:

The Ministry of Human Rights has gone some way towards acknowledging this reality, observing that detainees are "subjected in some instances to torture and ill-treatment in order to coerce them to confess or to obtain information."  Once they have "confessed" in this way, detainees are generally taken under guard to appear before an investigating judge, often under threat of further torture or other ill-treatment if they refuse to confirm their confession or complain of mistreatment.  In some cases, detainees are reported to have been threatened or assaulted by their guards in the presence of the investigating judge to force them to confess.  Investigating judges are supposed to ensure that any incriminatory statements have been freely given, without coercion or duress, yet cases continue to be reported where they appear to have preferred to "look the other way" and accept self- incriminating statements from detainees without question despite their allegations or other evidence of abuse.  This, when it occurs, may have profoundly damaging consequences for the detainee.  For example, the Central Criminal Court in Baghdad [case number 1479 of 2012, Branch 2] ruled on 3 December 2012 that it would accept as evidence a confession made in pre-trial detention by a defendant although that defendant "denied any relation with the accusation brought against him and stated that his previous confession in front of the investigating judge was not true as it had been obtained by pressure and coercion that he was subjected to by the investigator".  The court said it found the confession acceptable because it was "elaborate and detailed" [mufassal wa daqiq], then convicted the defendant under the Anti-Terrorism Law and sentenced him to life imprisonment.  As experienced Iraqi criminal lawyers have attested to Amnesty International, courts place great weight on "confessions" recorded by investigating judges and tend to accept them even though defendants withdraw and repudiate them at trial.

Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi lives outside of Iraq after his bodyguards were tortured -- one to death -- for 'confessions.'  Nouri has dubbed him a terrorist and used the laughable 'justice' system to convict Tareq -- judges in Baghdad held a press conference to announce Tareq's guilt -- February 16, 2012 -- months before the trial started, before any evidence was presented.  With one of the judges not just declaring Tareq guilty at the press conference but also saying Tareq had tried to kill him, you knew that once the trial began, a conclusion of guilty had already been obtained by Nouri.

Misbah al-Ali (Daily Star) interviews al-Hashemi today:
Q: Where does your case stand now regarding the death sentence issued by Maliki? Are you acting alone?
A: Maliki has issued five death sentences against me, and 24 similar sentences against my bodyguards. All are innocent, under the current judicial system Iraq, and that is what the latest reports of Amnesty International, human rights organizations and the international press have proved.
The Islamic Arab world stands by me. I am positive that God will not leave me, nor leave tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis behind bars, awaiting verdicts with no legal representation, as is required by international law. What happened to me is part of the religious cleansing of Sunnis in Iraq.
I am the sixth Sunni politician to be politically targeted, followed by Finance Minister Rafeh al-Issawi ... and there are more to come. It seems there is no place for Sunnis in new Iraq under the Safavid regime, but we will not be silent and will not surrender. Our revolting millions are the proof of that.

Moving on to other Iraqi politicians,  All Iraq News reports that Iraqiya MP Qays al-Shather has declared that the Parliament needs to focus on laws that will help the people, 'The General Amnesty law is an important law that must be among the priorities of the parliament.  There are other laws that directly concern the citizen's daily lives like the Justice and Accountability Commission law."  Parliament's hoping to meet shortly.  Tuesday, despite the attraction of a State of Law MP starting yet another fight in Parliament, they didn't have enough present to meet a quorum.  Tuesday did see a meeting of the Cabinet.  Mushreq Abbas (Al-Monitor) reports on the Cabinet meeting:

The meeting on Tuesday [March 26] of Iraq’s council of ministers was particularly significant, as Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq announced that the council had agreed to all of the demands raised by demonstrators in the provinces of Anbar, Mosul, Saladin and Diyala. Most of these demands have to do with amending arrest procedures, secret informants, amnesty for prisoners, the release of female detainees, de-Baathification and preparing for direct negotiations with a delegation representing the protesters.
Mutlaq announced that “the council of ministers decided to abolish the secret informant [post] and the law on seizing the funds [of Baath members], and to extend special amnesty to release prisoners arrested under this law.” Despite the Iraqiya List’s decision to boycott the cabinet’s sessions, Mutlaq was accompanied by three ministers from the list, which has 88 seats in Parliament.
He explained that “it was agreed that the five-part committee would continue its work, in order to thoroughly address the accountability and justice law and general amnesty law over three days.”
Mutlaq, who considered such decisions important in resolving the crisis, sent the opposition Sunni parties an explicit message to negotiate with the government by saying, “I call on all those who have ulterior motives that affect Iraq’s unity and security to abandon them. I call on them to return to the lap of the homeland, and work with us to change the bitter reality we live in into a better reality [that ensures] people’s happiness and welfare.”
In conjunction with Mutlaq’s announcement, things went back to normal between the Sadrist movement (which holds 40 parliamentary seats) and Maliki, after the latter agreed on Sadr’s conditions for the return of his six ministers [to the Cabinet].
Bahaa al-Araji, a leader of the movement, summarized these conditions in a press conference yesterday. They include: “The formation of a committee to review the security issue in the provinces of Nineveh and Anbar, implementing the demonstrators’ legitimate demands in these provinces, adopting the rules of procedure for the council of ministers, bringing about national cohesion and finding solutions to national problems.”

Sheikh Ali Hatem al-Suleiman tells NINA that representatives of the protesters met today with with politicians at the home of Iraqiya MP Ahmed al-Alwani with "Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha, and the outgoing Finance Minister Rafie al-Issawi, and the leaders of the demonstrations in 6 provinces in addition to Anbar."  All Iraq News notes that the move has earned praise from the Sunni Endowment.

Violence continues in Iraq.  National Iraqi News Agency notes 1 man was shot dead outside his Baquba home, a Tikrit car bombing left seven people injured, a Mosul bombing left 2 soldiers dead and one injured, and a Hilla car bombing left 3 police officers dead and fourteen injured All Iraq News reports a Mosul bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left another injured, a Baghdad bombing outside a restaurant resulted in 1 death and seven people injured, a Mussayib bombing which claimed 3 lives and left fourteen injured, 1 corpse discovered in Shebala village (near Tikrit) with signs of torture, and Rakan Saeed al-Jobouri, Deputy Governor of Kirkuk, survived an attempted assassination by bombingAlsumaria adds that three surveillance cameras in Falluja were destroyed in bombings. Through Tuesday, Iraq Body Count counts 356 violent deaths for the month of March thus far.

So it's no great surprise that the UAE has issued a warning.  Bahrain News Agency reports, "The United Arab Emirates urged its citizens to avoid travel at the present time to Iraq for the purpose of game hunting in view of political and security situation in Iraq."

Yesterday, Iraq beat Syria in a football match.  (Click here for Prashant Rao's AFP report.)  Alsumaria reports Nouri has declared today he is serious about building up Iraqi sports.  In other words, some athletes played an outstanding game and now its time for politicians to leech on in an attempt to steal some glory for themselves.  (The leeching is not confined to Iraq, you see it in every country of the world.)   Will it distract from Nouri's many failures?  Probably not.

Nor will it erase the fact that Anbar and Nineveh are not being allowed to vote.  A variety of excuses have been offered for Nouri's decision.  It is not popular.  The United Nations and the United States have called it out.  NINA notes today that Sahwa leader Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha is calling for the decision to be rescinded. Mustafa al-Kadhimi (Al-Monitor) explores some of the groups objecting to Nouri's decision on Anbar and Nineveh:

Neither political elites nor Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani, who is well known for his unflappable conservative stance, were convinced by the explanations for postponing the elections. Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr affirmed that the postponement was carried out for political reasons, not because of security concerns.
Several days ago, protesters in Anbar formed a committee to negotiate on their behalf. The committee is led by Ahmad Bou Risha, the leader of the Sahwa movement, Ali Hatem, chieftain of the Dulaim tribes, and Ahmad al-Alwani, a member of parliament from the Iraqi List party. This initiative was warmly welcomed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who considered it to be a positive leap forward.
Regardless of the results of negotiations with the government, reversing the decision to postpone elections in Anbar and Nineveh will serve as a solid ground on which the foundation of these negotiations can be laid.


These are provincial elections and they're supposed to take place April 20th.  Mustafa Habib (Niqash) reported earlier this month on the basics this campaign go around:

Geographically Iraq is now divided into its different majority sects, with Shiite Muslim majorities dominating in some areas and Sunni Muslims dominating in others. In the areas where there is a Shiite Muslim majority, the Shiite Muslim political parties will be competing against one another. In areas where there is not, they have formed alliances so that they can stand together to compete against Sunni Muslim parties. And the Sunni Muslim dominated political parties are doing the same, in reverse.

The official map of political alliances shows that Shiite Muslim parties will compete against one another in the nine Shiite Muslim-majority provinces of Wasit, Karbala, Babel, Missan, Qadisiya, Najaf, Dhi Qar, Muthana and Basra.

Meanwhile Sunni Muslim parties will compete against one another in the Sunni Muslim-majority provinces of Anbar, Mosul, Diyala and Salahaddin. The capital city, Baghdad, which is home to a wider mixture of sects, religions and even ethnicities, remains a more difficult prospect for both sides.

In the Shiite Muslim-dominated provinces there is fierce competition between three Shiite Muslim political groups: the State of Law coalition led by the current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq and the Sadrist bloc, which is led by cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Each of these three large groups has chosen to compete against the others in Shiite Muslim-dominated areas. They have also formed alliances with smaller Shiite Muslim groups inside those areas. And usually these alliances have been formed in terms that favour the larger blocs.

The State of Law bloc – whose mainstay is the Dawa party led by Iraq’s current Prime Minister al-Maliki – claims that it is popular enough to win on its own in Shiite Muslim dominated areas. It doesn’t need to form any kind of alliance and the party faithful tout the results of the 2009 provincial elections as proof. In 2009, the State of Law was able to send governors to five capital cities: Baghdad, Wasit, Diwaniya (the capital of Qadisiya), Karbala and Basra.

Nouri doesn't need anyone else?  He thought that when he started State of Law as well.  And then came the March 2010 parliamentary elections when he and State of Law came in second to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya.

Yesterday, we noted this from Henri J. Barkey's Los Angeles Times column:

With very few exceptions, an important event in Iraq went unnoticed in the U.S. media this month. Prime Minister Nouri Maliki sent a force that included helicopters to western Iraq to arrest Rafi Issawi, the former finance minister and a leading Sunni Arab opposition member. Issawi, who was protected by armed members of the Abu Risha clan, one of post-2003 Iraq's most powerful Sunni tribes, escaped capture.

The column is huge today in Arabic social media  -- that paragraph from it -- and even Iraq Times is reporting on it.  It did not garner a great deal of attention in real time -- and no attention from the US media.  From the March 12th snapshot:

In possibly related news, the Minister of Finance was targeted today.  Alsumaria reports that Iraqiya is calling for Nouri's government to explain exactly what happened today in Anbar Province when Nouri's forces went for Rafie al-Issawi.  Were they attempting to kill him or were they hoping to kidnap him?  Some may say al-Issawi resigned; however, Nouri refused to accept that resignation and stated al-Issawi could not resign until Nouri's investigation into him was complete.  al-Issawi is a Sunni and a member of Iraqiya.  It appears that this identity is why he was targeted today.

The Iraqi football players' win isn't likely to erase that memory either.

And in more bad news for Nouri, Alsumaria reports that MP Sabah al-Saadi declared today that he is calling for lead justice on the Federal Court, Nouri's crony Judge Medhat al-Mahmoud, to be charged with crimes against humanity.  al-Mahmoud was pulled from the bench then put back on by Nouri.  Critics argues that as long as al-Mahmoud sits on the bench, the judiciary will bend to Nouri.

For decades Turkish forces and the PKK have been in conflict.    Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described the PKK in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk."  Currently, the two sides are embracing a ceasefire after  nearly 500 people were killed just last year in the ongoing conflict with over a thousand more left injured.  Hopefully, it will hold.  Sunday, Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani issued the following statement:

Salahaddin, Kurdistan Region, Iraq ( - In a statement released today, Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani welcomed a message by the imprisoned PKK leader Abdulah Ocalan in which he calls for a ceasefire and the pursuit of democratic and political means to address the Kurdish question in Turkey.
“We not only support and welcome this call by Mr Ocalan, we believe that this is the right course of action and a vindication of our long-standing policy that the Kurdish question is a political issue and that this question cannot be resolved through armed or military means,” said the statement by President Barzani.
“The success of the peace process requires the commitment of all sides to perseverance and patience. The peace process must be viewed by all sides with strategic importance and not merely as a political tactic. We call on all sides to take practical steps towards the peaceful and political resolution of the Kurdish question.”
The statement by the President concluded by saying that as in the past, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq is ready to play any role to ensure this peace process succeeds and a political resolution of the Kurdish question in Turkey is found.

In addition to support from the KRG President, Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports the KRG Prime Minister went to Turkey and voiced his support, "Nechirvan Barzani, premier of Iraqi Regional Government of Kurds, voiced support to the 'peace process' on Kurdish issue in Turkey. Having talks with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and pro- Kurdish politicians during his two-day visit to Turkey, Barzani expressed readiness to give support to the process."  Xuequan reported yesterday, "Turkish President Abdullah Gul stressed Tuesday that the disarmament of the Kurdish Workers' Party, or PKK, is of vital importance for the peace of his country.  At a press conference held with visiting Cameroonian President Paul Biya, Gul underlined that the disarmament on part of the PKK is crucial for brotherhood, peace and tranquility in Turkey."  Today Hurriyet speaks with the PKK's Zubeyir Aydar:

After years of nothing but armed clashes, now there is an accelerated dialogue process. Do you think a return is possible in this process?

All our efforts are toward preventing a return. For that reason, we are acting this sensitively. We wish that both sides, both the government and us, reach a point of no return. We have no concerns on our side. We want to solve this problem. Our concern is the government.

The government also has concerns. They say that once the arms are laid down, a solution will come. What is your concern?

While a solution is mentioned, will the Kurds’ own identity, culture, language and road to politics be open? We are asking that.

F. Stephen Larrabee (Foreign Affairs) runs down some possibilities on the ceasefire:

Of course, peace is still far from a done deal. Several issues could derail an accord. For one, the question of amnesty could pose difficulties. Many Kurdish groups -- and Ocalan himself -- insist that PKK fighters must be granted amnesty as part of any agreement. However, much of the Turkish population considers the PKK fighters terrorists and strongly opposes letting them walk.
In addition, Ocalan might want peace and he might have great sway within the Turkish PKK, but the organization is no longer his baby. It has become a transnational movement with networks and operations across the region. Not all of them are under his control. Even if Ocalan can persuade large segments of the PKK to support a peace agreement, some hardcore nationalist groups might still be unwilling to lay down their arms. After all, many PKK commanders see no future for themselves outside of the armed struggle.

Umut Uras (Al Jazeera) earlier examined the possibilities:

The process’ framework, which was leaked to Turkish media and not denied by the Turkish government, sets out four steps: Truce; approval of a judicial reform package that will release thousands of imprisoned Kurds and the withdrawal of PKK members beyond Turkey's borders; democratisation talks; and finally disarmament.

Orhan Miroglu, a writer and former Kurdish politician, believes some of the armed PKK members without criminal records will simply go back to their villages, pointing out that this often happens in practice anyways. “They are just questioned and released,” he told Al Jazeera.

“Apart from people at the [PKK’s] leadership level, Turkish authorities do not have criminal records of all of the 3,500 PKK members who are inside Turkey today. They do not know in what actions they have taken part,” Miroglu noted. “Security is the main concern for Ocalan and [the] PKK, as some 400 members of the group were killed during the 1999 withdrawal.” 

Hurriyet reports Turkey's government is expecting the PKK to "complete their withdrawal from Turkish soil before the end of summer, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin said on March 27.  The entire process, which is aimed at ending the three-decade old violence between security forces and the PKK, is being conducted in line with a specific calendar, Ergin said yesterday, underlining that the calendar was known by related parties of the process. "

 mustafa habib

No comments: