Basra Province Boycotts British, demands Danish Withdrawal
Thousands of Islamist Kurds demonstrate against Caricatures
Guerrillas at Balad, a largely Shiite town north of Baghdad, killed a local clan leader and his family at his farm on Tuesday, leaving 8 dead. There were other killings in various places.
The elected provincial government of Basra has ended all official relations with the British command in Iraq, to protest the beating of Iraqi teenagers by British troops in nearby Maysan province. This step, which has been threatened several times over other issues, helps delegitimize the presence of British troops in southern Iraq in the eyes of a lot of local people.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat/ AFP report [Ar.] that the Basra provincial council also demanded on Tuesday that the 550 Danish troops in southern Iraq be withdrawn, in the wake of the publication in Denmark of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
Thousands of Islamist Kurds demonstrated against the caricatures in Irbil on Tuesday, burning Danish flags. Over 5,000 demonstrators walked past the Ministry of Justice and went to the Kurdistan parliament building, carrying copies of the Qur’an. They shouted “Yes, yes, to Islam, Yes to the Prophet.” The Kurdish Islamists won 5 seats in the new parliament, and have clashed with the secular-leaning Kurdistan Democratic Party. The speaker of the Kurdistan parliament delivered a note to the demonstrators saying that while he believed in freedom of the press, publishing the caricatures had not advanced the civilizational dialogue nor had it served humanity.
Meanwhile, a Kurdish women’s group presented a white paper to the Kurdistan regional parliament, demanding legal and political equality with men.
[Ar. .pdf] Al-Zaman says that Nadim al-Jabiri, the secretary general of the fundamentalist Shiite Virtue Party (Fadhila), has threatened to break with the United Iraqi Alliance if it did not sign off on his 9-point plan. It includes a concentration on ending the growing sectarian hatred and the poor security in the country. Al-Jaberi intimated that if the UIA was not careful, an alternative alliance might form on parliament to provide a prime minister. (In fact, Viture only has 15 seats, and while its departure would hurt the UIA, in and of itself that would not necessarily stop it from forming a government, assuming it could find alternative partners. The likelihood that a hodgepodge of Kurds, Sunni Arabs, secular Shiites, and Virtue could form a stable government is very low, and my guess is that the threat to leave the UIA is bluster.
al-Zaman also says that followers of Ayatollah Jawad al-Khalisi are charging that the holy Shiite shrine in Kadhimiyah is being looted of its precious treasure. Generations of pious Shiites have given gifts and bequests to the shrines, but in the current poor security environment, those riches are easily stolen. They said that the shrine of Ali in Najaf and the shrine of Husayn at Karbala are likewise facing extensive pilfering.
Some Baghdad communities are forming neighborhood protection committees to fight crime and kidnapping. The problem with such local paramilitaries is that they can grown to the point where they fight other paramilitaries. And then you have even less security. (I have seen it happen with my own eyes.)
From BBC World Monitoring of Iraqi press for Feb. 13:
‘ Al-Ittijah al-Akhar publishes on page 10 a 200-word report citing Salih al-Mutlaq accusing Iraqi National Guards of attempting to assassinate him . . .
Al-Mashriq runs on page 4 a 300-word report citing Human Rights Ministry confirming that the number of detainees in Interior Ministry’s prisons in Baghdad is over 2,000. . .
Al-Zaman carries on page 2 a 600-word report citing Wasit Human Rights Watch Chairman Majid Ahmad Munshid confirming human rights violations in Wasit Prison. . .
Al-Furat carries on page 2 a 100-word report citing immigrants and displaced persons minister calling on the Danish government to stop sending back Iraqi refugees by force. . .
Al-Bayan carries on page 2 a 220-word report citing industry and minerals minister saying that a contract will be signed between State Company for Manufacturing Medicines in Samarra and an Indian company in the field of pharmaceuticals.
Al-Bayan carries on page 2 a 200-word report citing an official source at Health Ministry saying that WHO has provided 70,000 doses to treat bird flu patients in Iraq.
Al-Mu’tamar carries on page 2 a 350-word article by Faruq al-Khal calling on Health Ministry to solve the problem of shortage in medicines in health and medical centres.
Tariq al-Sha’b carries on page 2 a 100-word report citing Ninawah governor saying that he and the police commander raided stores and confiscated expired chicken and meat and arrested the owners. . .
Al-Dustur carries on page 2 a 200-word report citing Muhammad Ahmad Zebari, director of Northern Oil products Distribution State Company, confirming negotiations with Turkey on resolving the current fuel crisis.
Al-Dustur publishes on page 5 a 200-word report on Agriculture Minister Dr Ali Husayn al-Bahadili’s meeting with Iraqi Clerics Association to discuss problems facing the agricultural sector in Iraq. . .
Al-Mada runs on page 4 a 200-word report citing Agriculture Minister Ali Husayn al-Bahadili saying that the ministry has signed a contract with a Russian company, and will sign a similar one with a Turkish company, to provide the ministry with a number of helicopters to protect crops from pests. . .
Al-Mada carries on page 13 an 800-word article by Husam al-Samuk calling on the Iraqi government to “save” dates crops. . .
Al-Furat carries on page 2 a 100-word report citing an official source at Basra Governorate Council saying that Economic Development Committee has proposed the allocation of part of the money from the increase in fuel prices towards Basra’s reconstruction.
Al-Furat carries on page 2 a 60-word report citing media spokesman for Basra Governorate council saying that the Religious Committee has allocated 1.5m dinars to poor families. . .
Al-Mu’tamar carries on page 3 a 100-word report on a statement by South Oil Company calling on the government to adopt a new mechanism to solve the problems faced by the south oil sector.
Tariq al-Sha’b carries on the front page a 300-word report saying that drivers of vehicles in Wasit Governorate staged a demonstration calling on the government to provide fuel.
Tariq al-Sha’b carries on page 2 a 450-word report citing Al-Ramadi inhabitants complaining about the complete deterioration in public services in their city.
Tariq al-Sha’b carries on page 2 a 120-word report that taxi drivers staged a demonstration in Sulaymaniyah protesting the shortage in fuel. . .