Friday, November 8, 2013

Camp Ashraf

Iranian dissidents (Marxists) went to Iraq following the Iranian revolution becoming a religious thing.  They lived at Camp Ashraf.  Seven of the Ashraf community in Iraq remain missing.

Though the press ignores the issue, it's not going away.  Where are the seven hostages?  Nouri's thugs grabbed the seven in September.  Where are they now?

Those are just some of the Tweets asking where are the seven hostages.

I'm stealing from C.I. with the following.  For those who are new to the Ashraf community, C.I.'s put together a basic overview:

Camp Ashraf in Iraq is now empty.  All remaining members of the community have been moved to Camp Hurriya (also known as Camp Liberty) as of last month.  Camp Ashraf housed a group of Iranian dissidents who were  welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. This is key and demands the US defend the Ashraf community in Iraq from attacks.  The Bully Boy Bush administration grasped that -- they were ignorant of every other law on the books but they grasped that one.  As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Iraqi Prime Minister  Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp repeatedly attacked after Barack Obama was sworn in as US President. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). That's the attack Lara Logan reported on.  In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out."  Those weren't the last attacks.  They were the last attacks while the residents were labeled as terrorists by the US State Dept.  (September 28, 2012, the designation was changed.)   In spite of this labeling, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."  So the US has an obligation to protect the residents.  3,300 are no longer at Camp Ashraf.  They have moved to Camp Hurriyah for the most part.  A tiny number has received asylum in other countries. Approximately 100 were still at Camp Ashraf when it was attacked Sunday.   That was the second attack this year alone.   February 9th of this year, the Ashraf residents were again attacked, this time the ones who had been relocated to Camp Hurriyah.  Trend News Agency counted 10 dead and over one hundred injured.  Prensa Latina reported, " A rain of self-propelled Katyusha missiles hit a provisional camp of Iraqi opposition Mujahedin-e Khalk, an organization Tehran calls terrorists, causing seven fatalities plus 50 wounded, according to an Iraqi official release."  They were attacked again September 1st.   Adam Schreck (AP) reported that the United Nations was able to confirm the deaths of 52 Ashraf residents.

It was in that September 1st attack that the seven were grabbed -- while 52 more were killed.

Nouri al-Maliki is a thug -- a US appointed one. 

He needs to answer where the seven people are.

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

Friday, November 8, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue,  campaigning gears up in Iraq, Nouri's called on his obvious effort to manipulate, protesters gather across Iraq and note Nouri's visit to DC wasn't as grand as previous ones,Amnesty International condemns the ongoing executions,  the US gears up for Veterans Day, a silly fool tries to pull the US into a war in the country of her origin, and more.

Monday is Veteran's Day in the United States.  Senator Patty Murray is the former Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee -- she continues to serve on the Committee and she's now the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee.  Her late father, David L. Johns, was a Purple Heart recipient (World War II).   Her office issued the following today:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                 CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Friday, November 08, 2013                                                             (202) 224-2834
Senator Murray’s Veterans Day Statement
: A Veterans Day Message from Senator Patty Murray
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, released the following statement as the nation prepares to observe Veterans Day:
“On Veterans Day, we honor and celebrate the courage and commitment of our nation’s heroes, both past and present. When these brave men and women signed up to serve our country, we agreed to take care of them. They kept their end of the bargain and we must keep ours.
“Our veterans have leadership ability, discipline, and technical skills to not only find work but to excel in a 21st Century workforce. But despite these facts, veterans across the country continue to struggle as they try to find work.
“For too long we have invested billions of dollars in training our young men and women with skills to protect our nation, only to ignore them once they leave the military. For too long, at the end of their career, we patted our veterans on the back for their service and then pushed them out into the job market alone. Thankfully, we have been able to take real, concrete steps toward putting our veterans back to work with new laws like my “VOW to Hire Heroes Act” and other legislative efforts.
“We have also worked to build partnerships with private sector businesses in order to tap into the tremendous amount of goodwill that companies have toward our returning heroes.  In fact, just this week, our own Microsoft and Starbucks launched major, nation-wide initiatives to put our men and women in uniform back to work.
“This is the legacy of opportunity we have to live up to for our nation’s veterans. This is the responsibility we all have on our shoulders. It doesn’t end on the battlefield. It doesn’t end after the parades Monday. In fact, it never ends.
“Our veterans don’t ask for a lot and too often they are coming home and facing unnecessary stresses and struggles. On this Veterans Day we need to redouble our efforts – government, businesses, and citizens - to guarantee our veterans get a fair shot and to guarantee them that they are not measured by fear or stigma, but what they can do, what they have done, and what they will do.”
Meghan Roh
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834

RSS Feed for Senator Murray's office

Monday, Olive Garden will be serving a free meal to veterans  click here for menus.  (They will also be also be giving a 10% discount throughout November for veterans and veterans families.)  Hooters notes  their way of honoring veterans:

Hooters is showing its gratitude for veterans and active duty military personnel this Veterans Day. On Monday, Nov. 11, Hooters invites all veterans and current servicemen and women to enjoy a free meal, up to $10.99 in value with any drink purchase, by presenting a military ID or proof of service at any Hooters location across the country.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to show appreciation for our military personnel who have selflessly sacrificed for the freedom of all Americans,” said Andrew Pudduck, vice president of marketing, Hooters of America. “Supporting the military community is very important to the Hooters family; we hope our veterans and active duty military will join us on Veterans Day to relax and enjoy a meal on us as a small but earnest way to say ‘thank you’ for your service.”
In addition, Hooters is sending extra love to the troops with its annual Operation Calendar Drop campaign. The 2014 Hooters Calendar is now on sale and guests are encouraged to purchase an extra calendar and write a personal message of appreciation for the troops. Hooters will collect the personalized calendars and deliver them to U.S. military stationed overseas.     

Hoss's Steak & Sea House will honor Veterans Day on Monday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. with a free meal: Parmesan Crusted Tilapia & Rice Pilaf, Grilled or Fried Chicken Tenders Stuffing & Mashed Potatoes, Meatloaf Stuffing & Mashed Potatoes, Chicken Parmesan & Pasta, Fried Shrimp & Fries or All You Can Eat Soup, Salad & Dessert Bar.  Any meal includes soup, salad & dessert bar and beverage.

Golden Corral has a video with Gary Sinise (above) explaining that this Monday, from four p.m. until nine p.m., is Military Appreciation Monday and those who have served in the military receive a free dinner during those five hours.  Veterans who feel like a burger on Monday might want to visit Shoney's which notes:

Nothing says “Thank You” like a great burger and Shoney’s is set to prove it, as the iconic all-American restaurant brand will thank our nation’s veterans and troops with a FREE All-American Burger™ on Veterans Day, Monday, November 11, 2013.
“For generations, Shoney’s always has been a ‘Welcome Home’ sign to America’s military,” said Davoudpour. “On their national day of celebration and honor, Shoney’s looks forward to welcoming our veterans and troops with a free burger as we thank those who protect our very freedom. We salute you.”
According to Davoudpour, service members will be treated to Shoney’s Signature favorite All-American Burger, a freshly prepared, hand-pattied, grain-fed, 100% ground beef, cooked to order burger, served on a toasted corn-dusted bun with lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, pickles and mayonnaise.
“It’s named after the greatest country on earth,” said Davoudpour, “and has been a guest favorite for years.”
Since acquiring the great American eatery in 2007, Davoudpour has been on a spirited mission to make Shoney’s better than ever, and return the icon to its Glory Days, when it became part of American popular culture as one of the first family casual dining concepts in the United States. Shoney’s served as a popular post-WWII family destination when it began serving guests 66 years ago. Davoudpour personally sees that an American flag flies proudly in front of his Shoney’s restaurants.
“Veterans Day is a day of thanks and for us, being able to serve the many who serve for our freedom is a privilege,” added Davoudpour. “We are thankful every day for our veterans and troops, and on their day we look forward to serving them a free burger.”
Shoney’s offer of a free All-American Burger to veterans and active duty military service members is available on Monday, November 11, 2013 at participating restaurants while supplies last. There is a limit of one per day per military service member and the offer is not valid in conjunction with any other offers. Shoney’s military guests will need to provide proof of military service. Offer is valid for Dine-in only and beverage, tax and gratuity are not included.

Applebee's notes:


Available during business hours on November 11, 2013, in all U.S. Applebee's restaurants.  Dine in from limited menu only: Fiesta Lime Chicken, Bacon Cheddar Cheeseburger, 7 oz. House Sirloin, Three-Cheese Chicken & Sun-Dried Tomato Penne, Chicken Tenders Platter, Double Crunch Shrimp or Oriental Chicken Salad..  
Beverages and gratuity not included.  Veterans and active duty military simply show proof of military service.
Proof of service includes: U.S. Uniformed Services ID Card, U.S. Uniformed Services Retired ID Card, current Leave and Earnings Statement (LES), veterans organization card (i.e. American Legion, VFW), photograph of yourself in uniform, wearing uniform, DD214 and citation or commendation.

Veterans of Foreign Wars notes they have a page noting places honoring veterans for Veterans Day. The American Legion's list is here.  In tonight's Iraq snapshot, we'll note these and the other establishments we've noted this week.  For events noting Veterans Day (some of which will take place Saturday or Sunday and not just on Monday), refer to this VA Dept webpage. or this Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America webpage.  The VFW issued the following today:

The VFW calls on Americans to remember our veterans and honor them for their service and sacrifice

Each Nov. 11, Americans celebrate our veterans by honoring them for their brave service to our nation.
These courageous men and women who have donned the uniform did not do it for the praise or the accolades. They did it because they answered the call to duty, and they selflessly and heroically served our nation. There is no doubt that they are truly America’s finest.
The America that we all know is a product of their service and dedication. For generations, they have kept our nation free and defended democracy from tyranny and oppression. They’ve protected freedom-loving people all around the world.
And we must also remember the thousands who are deployed all over the world today, defending our freedoms at this very moment. We pray for their safe return, and the VFW stands ready to support their families while they are away.
The VFW understands freedom is not free, and it is our veterans and their loved ones who pay the price. As we honor them on Veterans Day, and each day after, we should reflect on the sacrifices they’ve made to ensure America’s victories, as well as the many liberties we enjoy as a result of their stalwart sense of duty.
Since America’s founding, it has been those who have worn the uniform–those who have tenaciously defended American values–who we will be forever grateful to: America's proud Airmen, Coastguardsmen, Marines, Sailors and Soldiers.
The VFW salutes you and thanks you for your service.
Turning to other issues, Mohja Kahf is upset and gripes at Fellowship of Reconciliation about Syria -- specifically what she sees as failures with regards to peace.  Here she is uncorking her aged whine:
But where is the majority of the U.S. peace movement? Maybe I just don’t know; I’m only one person, seeing part of the picture. I would like a list of solidarity actions U.S. peace organizations have held for Syrians since March 18, 2011, demanding the regime stop massacring civilians, or petitions they circulated for the release of prisoners of conscience. How have U.S. peace organizations shown solidarity with nonviolent resistance to a brutal regime in Syria? 
Neglected by the global community is how Syrian civil resistance people felt in the first phase of the uprising, lasting till midsummer 2011, characterized—despite isolated incidents of violence— by consensus around nonviolence. I realize that’s subjective, but it’s useful to examine what that feeling could mean. It could mean that Syrian uprising folk indeed experienced little solidarity from peace movements abroad.
The Afghanistan War was not started just by Bully Boy Bush or just Bully Boy and Colin Powell (where is that proof Colin, you never did provide it).  It was also started by some people who meant well.  Some feminists who cared but who had gotten ever closer to militarism (a stance that is continuing and you can see whenever Anne Marie-Slaughter is given 'props' and 'shout outs' and, sadly, when her ilk are promoted at conferences that the Feminist Majority Foundation sets up).
A lot of well meaning feminists worked, in the 90s, on the issue of the abuse of women in Afghanistan under Taliban rule.  That US work was rendered obsolete when some feminists made nice with the White House and allowed the lie to be pimped that the Afghanistan War was in part or whole about women's rights.
What invasion in history ever improved women's rights?  That's insanity. You can't be on the left and feel that the US needs to be "The Cops of The World."  This is not a new claim, this is not a new belief.  Listen to Phil Ochs's "Cops Of The World" if you're as uninformed as Mohja.
Veterans Day is Monday.  Do you know how many young veterans are suffering right now?  Do you know how many are waiting on VA ratings?  Or that there are young veterans who are suffering and don't even know there's help out there.
They have been overtaxed.  Regardless of what you think of either war, the two big ones of the last years aren't like the previous US wars in that you didn't do one tour of duty and then get out.  You did several.  You did them over and over.  You did long tours and had less down time between them.  The military was close to the breaking point.  These men and women are not toys or trinkets.  They do not exist to battle personal whims.
What does Mohja want done?  She wants Americans to stand in solidarity with various groups they know nothing about.  Because she says so.  That's the proof, a ridiculous person with petty grudges she's been working for decades.  Has she even been back to Syria in the last four years?

She gets bitchy, "instead of amplifying Johnny-come-lately armed extremists, or promoting regime narratives such as that touted by the Lebanese-born nun, Mother Agnes-Mariam. Demand the release from prison of civilian resistance activists; protest when they are killed. Find and know the civilian resistance in Syria; support them."

You know there's a place for bitchy and goodness knows I appreciate bitchy when it's pulled off.
But I don't get the attack on "Lebanese-born nun . . ."  I know who she is, I'm familiar with her work and her work exposes the lies of so many that Mohja supports.
Yet the bitchy fails.  Why?

"Lebanese-born nun" -- uh, Mohja, you were born where?  It wasn't the US, it was Syria.  Why are you mocking a nun for being from Lebanon?  She's in Syria now.  While your family fled when you weren't even five-years-old.  Mojha's family brought their grudge against the Assad family with them.  When  any country gives you the chance to start over, start over.  Never bring your grudges to the airport -- they're heavy and they don't come with wheels.
There is no 'solidarity' answer for Syria which is a civil war -- played out by foreign interests (including the US government).  Mojha knows that -- even she's not that stupid.  The White House wants war on Syria and Mojha's agitating hard to deliver it -- which makes her as much of a tool of war and destruction as Andrew Bowmen (though he doesn't try to hide who he is).  If she wants to change the government in Syria, she needs to get her ass over there.  She's been primed for it by her family for years, she's grown up hating the family that's led Syria.  And she thinks she can pretend she's got plan.  She's got nothing but hate.  She was raised on hate and she's chosen to let it consume her.

If that seems harsh, let's looking a Mojha's opening:

I marched (er, clothed) with CODEPINK women when they stood butt-naked across the main strip in my Arkansas hometown protesting the U.S. military invasion of Iraq. As a longtime anti-interventionist, I am on U.S. peace group mailing lists out the wazoo.

I'm sorry Mojha, is Iraq no longer on your to-do-list?  Did you get bored?  Did it become a little too much for you, a little too real?  Iraq is in shambles.  Because of the actions of the government in the country you chose to live in.  In a text and video report, RT notes, "With over 7,000 civilian casualties so far, 2013 has already become the deadliest year in Iraq since 2008. In its new project, a timeline of the violence, RT brings the sad record into the spotlight."  But Mojha marched against Iraq a few years ago so she's checked it off her to-do list.

Let's move from one idiot to another.  Can someone please explain to me why The Palm Beach Social Pictorial has always had a stronger grip on facts than the Palm Beach Post.  Jac Wilder VerSteeg wants to offer, at the newspaper, "The US finally is out of Iraq.  So stay out."

How is the US out?  For Fiscal Year 2014, the US State Dept is requesting that Congress provide it with $1,180,000,000 -- over a billion dollars for the State Dept mission in Iraq.

That doesn't sound like the US government is out of Iraq.

In September 2012, Tim Arango reported for the New York Times:

Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General [Robert L.]  Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.        

That doesn't sound like the US military's out of Iraq either.

So how is the US finally out of Iraq?

Oh, right! The US press withdrew! (All but the New York Times, CNN and AP.)

And some Americans like the silly Mojha are bored with Iraq and have lost interest, is that how the US is 'out' of Iraq?  Then there's the ridiculous Thomas E. Ricks who stops performing fellatio on the war machine  long enough to type, "From a comment the other day. I think this is actually a healthy attitude, one I wish I could emulate more: " The comment is from a Iraq War veteran who no longer wants to think about Iraq.  I'm not going to slam the veteran for that or any Iraqi refugee who made it out and wants to just focus on what's in front of them.  In both cases, that's more than understandable.  But Ricks saying he wishes "I could emulate [it] more?  That'a pathetic.

He's not a journalist anymore.  He's a salesman for counterinsurgency -- war on a native people.  So it's not like he's stepped away from war.  He's just ignored the Iraq War because telling the truth got too hard for him.  He'd rather look the other way on the issue of Barack's September 2012 move with Special Ops going back into Iraq.  He'd rather whore for other wars.  And I know he got lost when he was embedded with the military and frequently forgot he was a journalist, but could someone make clear to Thomas E. Ricks that he's not a veteran, that you have to serve in the military to be a veteran?

While Ricks remains confused and silent, Eman Ahmed Khamas (CounterPunch) reports realities about Iraq and chief thug and prime minister Nouri al-Maliki:

Armed men with sectarian insignia patrol Iraqi streets. There are at least five armed militias working in collaboration with the Iraqi security forces, apart from the special units that are directly connected to the prime minister’s office. Even Maliki’s son, Ahmed, has his own armed men and conducts military operations, although he has no police or security portfolio.
According to Navi Pillay, the UN high Commissioner for Human Rights, there are massive human rights violations in Iraq. The Iraqi legal system under Maliki does not comply with the simplest global norms. From January-October 2013, 140 Iraqis have been executed by the Ministry of Justice, in defiance of the calls by many international human rights organizations for an immediate death penalty moratorium.
“The law has become a sword held to the necks of Iraqis,” said Osama Nujaifi, the Iraqi Speaker of the Parliament.
Iraqi government sources confirm that there are some 30,000 Iraqis in prison; 17,000 languish there without trial. Arbitrary arrests are common practice in Iraqi streets. Documented and filmed horror stories of torture and death in Iraqi prisons make the infamous Abu Graib abuses look like child’s play. Many of the detainees disappear, their families unable to ascertain if they are dead or alive.
Maliki claims that he leads a vibrant democracy, but he heads an authoritarian regime and monopolizes six high governmental posts: chief of staff, minister of defense, minister of interior, chief of intelligence, and head of national security. Even his partners in the Shiite alliance have been excluded, let alone his Sunni opponents. He is supported by the theocracts in Iran and he has supported the Syrian regime, one of the most notorious autocracies in the region. In a televised interview, Maliki threatened to liquidate those who demonstrate for justice and better services, and described them as a ‘stinking bubble’. Indeed, his SWAT forces used lethal weapons against peaceful protestors several times. In the town of Hawija, for example, at least 50 unarmed men were slaughtered last April. In other cities, such as Basra, Nassyria, Fallujah, and Mosul, protestors have been beaten, arrested and killed.

 Iraqi Spring MC notes the protest today in Falluja and in Baquba, in Tikrit, in Rawa, in Baiji, in Samarra, and in Jalawla.  Protests have been taking place since December 21st. as the 11th month mark looms, the US press continues to refuse to cover what's taking place.   Al Mada reports that Anbar Province speakers noted Nouri al-Maliki's visit to Iraq last week and how this visit was different and found Nouri in a weaker position than during past visits.  Speakers noted that the ongoing protests were exposing injustice and corruption.  Sheikh Saad Fayyad spoke about how the sit-ins would end -- when Nouri met their demands and when killers were held accountable. And by killers -- also noted by Sheikh Mustafa Sabri -- they are referring to the Nouri-sanctioned militias who are hunting and killing Sunnis.  Maybe that's why the US press can't cover the protests, it's not a lot of fluff the way they're used to.

Nouri's spent the week attacking cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr who has ignored Nouri, advising his followers not to even bother to protest Nouri's attacks.  All Iraq News notes:

MP, Bahaa al-Araji, of Sadr Trend assured that the head of Sadr Trend, Muqtada al-Sadr, has no personal dispute with the Premier, Nouri al-Maliki.
He stated to AIN "The recent statement issued by Sadr in which he criticized Maliki was an answer for an inquiry by some of his followers because he is a representative for the Religious Authority."

Mustafa Habib (Niqash) analyzes the political scene in Iraq:

As of last week, it seems more likely that Iraq will go to the polls again soon, in April 2014. But current PM, Nouri al-Maliki, doesn’t have too many friends or fans left – so the likelihood of a new national leader is high. And it seems that many Iraqis might be betting on former terror-inducing religious man, Muqtada al-Sadr, or another cleric, Ammar al-Hakim, for the job. Both men have recently been proving themselves adept politicians.  

Amid growing levels of violence, political tension and general governmental disarray, what might best be described as Iraq’s Shiite Muslim political block is splintering. These days their block is just as fragmented and disillusioned as any other political grouping in the country.

But there are two younger Shiite politicians who are becoming more and more popular, with both Shiite Muslim voters and non-Shiite voters. They are Ammar al-Hakim who leads the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq and Muqtada al-Sadr, who heads the so-called Sadrist block, which includes political, military and social wings.

Somewhat ironically – considering the pair is becoming more popular with non-Shiite Muslims as well – both politicians come from fairly strong religious backgrounds and famous religious families; both wear the uniform of the religious man, or theological scholar, in Iraq, including a black turban which signifies they are Shiite Muslim descendants of the Prophet Mohammed. It’s also ironic considering that in recent days, the pair seems more popular in secular Iraqi political circles than the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, himself, who wears secular, Western-style clothing.

Al-Sadr and al-Hakim appear to be forging their own paths through the political quagmire that is Iraq’s nascent democracy. For one thing they are seen as being in touch with the people, having focused on social service to the ordinary Iraqi citizen – and this is in contrast to al-Maliki’s party, which is seen as working mainly for its own political gains and its elite, at the expense of any other interests.  

Provincial elections held earlier this year resulted in some serious gains for the followers of al-Sadr and al-Hakim.  The State of Law coalition led by al-Maliki was able to win 87 seats in the nine mostly-Shiite Muslim provinces of Iraq. Meanwhile al-Hakim’s Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq won 61 and the Sadrists won 58. Previously al-Sadr had joined with al-Maliki to shut al-Hakim out of any coalition. But recently al-Sadr has switched sides, forming an alliance with al-Hakim and standing against al-Maliki’s State of Law in some areas. And that allegiance allowed them to win the leaderships of two very important parts of the country, Baghdad and the oil-rich and prosperous southern city of Basra.

It is quite possible that al-Hakim and al-Sadr are able to repeat this performance in the upcoming 2014 parliamentary elections in Iraq, which, it was recently announced, would take place in April next year.

Additionally al-Hakim and al-Sadr are popular with more than just their traditional constituencies, having both been vocal in their support for a more inclusive system, where Sunni Muslims and other groups are not marginalized. Al-Sadr has been supportive of anti-government demonstrations held in the Sunni Muslim-dominated Anbar province and al-Hakim has said he considers such demonstrations a legitimate right of the Iraqi people. The two leaders have also been positive when it comes to Iraq’s other powerful political group, the Iraqi Kurdish.

It's campaign season in Iraq.  Al-Shorfa notes, "The Iraqi Ministry of Planning on Friday (November 8th) announced it has allocated 865 billion dinars ($744 million) for a plan to support Iraqis living in poverty with loans and jobs."  Ayad Jannah (Kitabat) responds wondering where Nouri's concern for the poor has been all these years as Iraqis have suffered and Iraqi cities have been turned into slums?  Jannah notes Nouri travels in an armored car, a luxury car, while living in lavish palaces but he's let the Iraqi people live in squalor.

Moving over to violence, National Iraqi News Agency reports two Baghdad bombings claimed 3 lives and left seven people injured, a Karmah sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 Sahwa and left another person injured, an Alaaskari armed attack left 1 police officer dead and another injured, and early this morning an armed attack in Baquba left 1 person dead and a police member injured.  World Bulletin reports a Baghdad bombing has left 19 Iraqi soldiers dead and twenty-three injured.  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports that a "bomb was hidden inside the Abu-Yahya restaurant in central Mosul."  NINA reports the bombing killed 11 people and left forty-nine more injured.

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count notes 165 violent deaths so far this month.  Their count for the year so far is 7,500.  Still on violence, World Bulletin notes, "The leader of Al-Qaeda Ayman Zawahiri has announced that the rebel group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) will be dissolved, leaving only the Nusra Front to carry out its operations."

Still on the violence, Nouri's only real achievement has been to preside over more and more executions.  To be clear, his last round of multiple executions was, yet again, about targeting Sunnis.  Amnesty International issued the following today:

A sharp increase in the use of the death penalty in Iraq has brought the number of known executions to the highest in the decade since the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003, with at least seven prisoners sent to the gallows yesterday, sparking fears that many more death row prisoners are at risk, Amnesty International said.
"Iraq’s increased use of the death penalty, often after unfair trials in which many prisoners report having been tortured into confessing crimes, is a futile attempt to resolve the country’s serious security and justice problems," said Phillip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.
"In order to actually protect civilians better from violent attacks by armed groups, authorities in Iraq must effectively investigate abuses and bring those responsible to justice in a system that is fair, without recourse to the death penalty."
At least 132 people have been executed in Iraq so far this year – the highest number since the country reinstated capital punishment in 2004. However, the true number could be higher and the Iraqi authorities have yet to publish full figures.
Previously, only in 2009 (at least 120 executions) and in 2012 (at least 129) were the figures of known executions comparable to this year’s total, but each time for the whole calendar year.
"The stark rise in executions witnessed in 2012 has only gotten worse in 2013. The government apparently refuses to accept that the death penalty does nothing in deterring attacks by armed groups against civilians in Iraq or other serious human rights abuses," said said Phillip Luther.
Death sentences are often handed down after deeply unfair trials, where prisoners do not have access to proper legal representation and "confessions" to crimes are frequently extracted through torture or other ill-treatment.
In recent statements announcing the execution of 23 prisoners in September and 42 in October, the Iraqi Ministry of Justice misleadingly states that all death sentences are reviewed and confirmed by the Court of Cassation before executions take place.
But the Court of Cassation regularly fails to address the admission by trial courts of contested evidence, including withdrawn “confessions” and allegations of coercion and torture, when approving death sentences at the review stage. The generally paper-based procedure fails to give defendants a genuine review.
"For justice to prevail in Iraq the authorities have a long way to go to address the flaws in their criminal justice system, investigate claims of torture and other ill-treatment in custody, and, where applicable, grant re-trials in full compliance with international fair trial standards," said Phillip Luther.
"The authorities in Iraq must stop their reliance on the death penalty, by immediately declaring a moratorium on executions as a first step and commuting all death sentences to prison terms."
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty – the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment – in all cases without exception, as a violation of the right to life.

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