According to al-Zaman, writing in Arabic, Nuri al-Maliki’s Islamic Mission Party (Da’wa) has rejected an appeal from cleric Abdul Aziz al-Hakim of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq to run as coalition partners in the United Iraqi Alliance in the forthcoming parliamentary election. Da’wa spokesmen say that the party wants to make a broader coalition than in possible with the UIA. (I.e. Da’wa wants Sunni and secular partners, while the UIA is a sectarian, Shiite coalition). Al-Hakim had appealed to al-Maliki for help in rebuilding the United Iraqi Alliance. Al-Hakim’s own ISCI did poorly in the province elections of January 2009, after having earlier dominated the Shiite south.
If Da’wa really could put together a cross-sectarian nationalist coalition and win with it, that would change the political dynamics in Iraq quite substantially, and might make the country more stable, setting the stage for a clean US withdrawal.
AP reports that the number of Christians in Iraq has fallen from 1.4 million in 1989 to as few as 400,000 today, largely as a result of the violence that ensued after the 2003 US invasion of that country. Pope Benedict called attention to this problem during his recent trip to the ME. Many have fled to Lebanon and Syria, and apparently few contemplate returning to Iraq. Bishop John Benjamin Sulayman of Baghdad said he worried that Christianity would become extinct in the Middle East, where the over-all proportion of Christians in ther region’s population has fallen from 20% to 5% in recent decades. Most Christians leave because of the ease of emigration to the west, because of better economic opportunities there, and/or because of fear of violence and rising Muslim fundamentalist.
Lawrence Wilkerson, aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, alleges that the main impetus for torturing prisoners in 2002- early 2003 was not to foil terrorist plots but rather to scare up evidence of a Saddam-al-Qaeda tie. US interrogators never found such a link
Jeremy Scahill alleges that an especially brutal US military unit, guilty of prisoner abuse, is still operating at Guantanamo.
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