Oil Workers Strike in Iraq
Inflation Rate hits 70% amid stagflation
Reuters reports on civil war violence in Iraq. Among the worst incidents:
‘ *MOSUL – Gunmen killed a family of five, including two children, after entering their home in the al-Zanjeeli district of Mosul 390 km north of Baghdad . . .
MADAEN – The bodies of eight fruit traders were found with their throats slit by a road in Madaen, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad . . .The men, who were from Najaf, died on Monday . . .
RAMADI – Gunmen killed one of the bodyguards of the governor of Anbar in a drive-by shooting in the restive Sunni stronghold, west of Baghdad . . .
MUQDADIYA – Fifteen people were wounded in a mortar attack on a market in Muqdadiya, 100 km (60 miles) northeast of Baghdad . . . ‘
Al-Zaman says that the US military has concluded that there are 20 militias openly operating in Iraq, and that dealing with them is the business of the Iraqi government. (Typically “militias” refers to armed Shiite groups, most of whom are at least nominally allied with parties that support the government. Sunni such groups are typically instead referred to as “insurgents,” and the US is actively fighting those.)
The same report says that Shaikh Mahmud al-Hasani, the stridently anti-Iranian and anti-American Shiite cleric, has accused unnamed parties of being behind the arrest of his followers among seminary students at the Imam Sadiq Seminary in Karbala last week. He called on the Iraqi government and parliament to open an investigation into the incident. (Karbala authorities maintain that they raided an arms depot being maintained by al-Hasani’s followers).
Several hundred Iraqi oil workers in Basra have gone on strike for better salaries.
The Iraqi government will establish its own commission to investigate the rape-murder of a 14-year-old girl, Abeer al-Janabi, by a US serviceman, who is alleged with several buddies to have then killed other members of her family as well.
In colonial history, the unequal power of Europe in the Middle East and elsewhere has frequently produced what is called “extraterritoriality.” This fearsome word just means that local governments and courts lose jurisdiction over the citizens of the imperial power. Egyptians could not try Britishers in British Egypt, 1882-1922. Extraterritoriality has provoked protests and often becomes central to anti-colonial movements. American immunity from prosecution in Iran was one of Khomeini’s complaints against the government of the shah in the 1960s and 1970s.
The announcement of an Iraqi commission in this case may be the beginning of the end of US extraterritoriality in that country. It seems likely that such a step, about which PM Nuri al-Maliki has spoken, would also be the beginning of the end of the US presence. Soldiers are often in ambiguous situations with regard to the law and no GI is going to want to risk being tried in an Iraqi court for a judgment call. From the other side, Iraqis have complained loudly at the lack of prosecutions of US servicemen for crimes such as torture, as at Abu Ghraib, and the light prison sentences meted out even where there was a successful prosecution and conviction.