Iraq News Round-Up
Guerrillas assassinated an Iraqi female member of parliament Wednesday, women’s rights activist Lamia Abid Khadduri Sakri. Al-Zaman says she was a member of the Iraqiya List of Iyad Allawi, which is dominated by secularists and ex-Baathists. Earlier, failed assassination attempts were made against Iyad Allawi and Mishaan Juburi, both of whom are MPs. There is no specification in the interim constitution as to how a vacant seat is to be filled. The Iraqi press had earlier reported at least on resignation by an MP, so there appear now only to be 273.
Not only are deaths from terrorism way up in 2004, but Iraq alone topped the terrorism charts compared to the year before.
There are still 400 guerrilla strikes a week in Iraq.
Al-Zaman: President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt said Wednesday that he expects violence to go on in Iraq for some time, in part because of the country’s ethnic diversity. He advised the Americans to withdraw their troops from the cities to outposts in the desert. Mubarak maintained that the US dissolution of the Iraqi army had been a “true national catastrophe.”
Amnesty International says that, incredibly enough, torture and abuse of prisoners has continued in Iraq even during the past year after the Abu Ghraib revelations: ‘In February, three men died in custody after being arrested at a police checkpoint, the rights body said. The bodies “were found three days later, bearing clear marks of torture from beatings and electric shocks”, it said. ‘
The number of babies born in Iraq with birth defects has risen by 20 percent in the past two years. Iraqi physicians are blaming the increase on pollution and on depleted uranium shells used by the US military and still unrecovered in the Iraqi south. (My scientist contacts suggest to me that the pollution explanation is plausible, the uranium one not.)
Sunni-Shiite tensions and violence are increasing daily in Iraq.
Many US bureaucrats in the Coalition Provisional Authority did not bother to do proper paperwork when giving out contracts to civilian contractors. The new Iraqi government is baulking at the big bills being presented, provoking at least one major riot.
Now their physicians are fleeing abroad.
Al-Hayat also says that Najaf governor As`ad Abu Kalal is continuing to press Sunni clerics to condemn openly the terrorist attacks on Shiites. He said that the Shiite tribes of the Middle Euphrates are perfectly capable to raising levies to deal with the (Sunni Arab) terrorists, but have been restrained by the Shiite religious leaders so far.
Meanwhile, the head of the Sunni pious endowments office has called for a national conference in which Iraqis would pledge never to take the lives of other Iraqis.
Helena Cobban’s weblog has had a number of excellent Iraq-related entries recently. She is always worth reading.
Tidbits from BBC World Monitoring of the Iraqi Press April 27:
“Al-Manarah dated 26 April publishes on page 3 a 150-word report citing Habib al-Khatib, Al-Sistani speaker in Kut, as saying that Ali al-Sistani has called on all Iraqis to resist attempts fuelling sectarian sedition in Iraq . . .”
“Al-Dustur publishes on the front page a 100-word report citing Mufid al-Jaza’iri, outgoing Cultural Minister demanding th[at] Iraqi academics [be able] to participate in the drafting of the constitution . . .”
“Al-Zaman publishes on page 2 a 200-word report stating that approximately 300 people staged a demonstration in front of the headquarters of the Dhi Qar Governorate Administration, demanding the inclusion of a newly formed commandos’ brigade by the Interior Ministry in the governorate . . .”
“Al-Bayan publishes on page 2 a 100-word report citing an official source at the Health Ministry as saying that the rate of cancer patients in Iraq has increased to 7,000 patients a year as a result of war-related radiation . . . “
“Al-Dustur publishes on page 17 a 2,000-word report on the lack of medicines in most pharmacies. The report adds that while many medicines, including those for chronic diseases were not available in governmental hospitals and pharmacies, they were being sold on the streets without medical prescriptions.
Al-Mashriq publishes on page 4 a 100-word report stating that medical sources had revealed some cases of serious skin disease in Baghdad.
Al-Mashriq publishes on page 4 a 100-word report saying that 12 private pharmacies and eight laboratories in Baghdad and other governorates had been closed by the Ministry of Health as they did not adhere to the prescribed rules and conditions and also because they were involved in the sale of medicines that had been smuggled out of government hospitals.
“Al-Mada publishes on page 3 a 1,000-word report commenting on the bad condition of Al-Sadr city. The report says that unemployment, which has reached 60%, is one of the major problems facing the residents of the city, and this has created circumstances for increase in crime and terrorism . . .”
” Al-Furat publishes on page 5 a 1,300-word article by Ghalib al-Rikabi entitled “The Oppressive Democracy in New Iraq.” The article strongly criticizes the electoral system that was adopted in the election for the transitional assembly which was designed to serve the interests of the political parties rather than those of the Iraqi people. The writer says that for example, Basra Governorate, where 2.7 million Iraqis live, is represented by a single member in the assembly who was elected because he belongs to a certain political party . . .”
“Al-Furat publishes on page 5 a 700-word article by Abd-al-Fattah Fayid strongly criticizing the clearing US Army commanders in Iraq who were involved in the mistreatment of the Iraqi detainees by the US . . .”
“Ishraqat al-Sadr runs on page 3 a 1,200-word letter delivered by Muqtada al-Sadr to the Iraqi university students, calling on them to “stick to Islamic principles and not be deluded by political games.”
Ishraqat al-Sadr publishes on page 3 a 1,500-word article by Rasim al-Marwani criticizing those who “hate” the Al-Sadr Trend followers. The writer says that the Al-Sadr Trend followers are “loyal, honest, and brave Iraqis,” adding that the people who hate them, including those who are great religious authorities, are “full of spite and envy.”
Ishraqat al-Sadr carries on page 6 a 1,500-word article by Dr Adil Rida discussing the “ability” of the Al-Sadr Trend to spread “awareness” among Iraqis and “enlighten” them on the “US conspiracy against Islam and Iraq.”
Ishraqat al-Sadr runs on page 6 a 400-word unattributed article saying that the West is working to spread “corruption and love of sensuality” among Muslims and others, in order to “neutralize” religious outlook and hence dominate the nations of the world . . .”
‘ Al-Mada publishes on the back page a 600-word article by Adil al-Amil who strongly criticizes a National Assembly women member who made a statement to the Free Iraqi Radio saying: “It is better for the Iraqi woman to stay at home and not to go out to work as this will cause an increase in her expenses on clothes and transportation.” The writer sarcastically says that “it seems that this member will do her work at the National Assembly from home.” ‘