Sunday, April 01, 2012

Editorial: Successful summit for Iraq?

Oh how the whores turned out to spin and lie on Friday, insisting that Iraq's hosting of the Arab League summit was a success. By what standards?

arab league summit

They offered no standards for success because they had none. Whores don't have standards, they just have infections and communicable diseases.

The aim of the summit, as far as the US and other western governments were concerned, was to get cover for war on Syria. Success? Nope, they didn't get it. In fact, Hannah Allam and Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) observed, "Arab leaders who gathered Thursday in Baghdad broke no new ground on Syria or other regional crises [. . .]"

Well at least the leaders of Arab countries all came together in Baghdad, right? Woops. There are 22 members of the Arab League. Hamza Hendawi and Lara Jakes (AP) reported that the number of Arab League leaders who attended at 10. That's not even half. No, that's not a success. Yussef Hamza (The National) offers, "Iraq has looked to the summit, the first it has hosted in a generation, to signal its emergence from years of turmoil, American occupation and isolation. It wanted the summit to herald its return to the Arab fold. But the large number of absentees told a different story." And Al Mada reported Thursday morning that the Iraqi public and Parliament would be judging the summit a success or not based upon whether the leaders turned out for the summit. So, no, not a success.

Among those leaders not attending was the Prime Minister of Qatar. Patrick Martin (Globe & Mail) reported that the Prime Minister, Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Bin Jabr Al Thani, declared on television that Qatar's "low level of representation" was meant to send "a 'message' to Iraq' majority Shiites to stop what he called the marginalization of its minority Sunnis."

As was usual for any gathering, the Iraq government pressed to be removed from the United Nations Security Council's Chapter XII. As was usual for any such request, nothing happened. No, that's not a success.

Okay, well Nouri al-Maliki, he's the prime minister of Iraq. At least he came off like a statesman, right? No. As explained in Thursday's "Iraq snapshot:"

Today, Dr. Nabil El Araby, the Arab League Secretary-General, opened the summit with an address where he thanked Iraq and the Iraqi people for their warm welcome and congratulated Iraqi President Jalal Talabani for hosting and presiding over the 23rd Arab League Summit and congratulated the government on their preparation work for the summit. He also thanked the officials from Libya for their hard work on the 22nd summit. He discussed how he assumed his office last July and how his vision for the Arab League was one of reform and development. It was a positive speech, emphasizing the accomplishments within the Arab world and fostering a sense of common purpose, a sense of higher purpose. It was the perfect speech to kick off a summit. (PDF format warning -- Click here for the speech in full.) And it is exactly the sort of speech Nouri al-Maliki should hav given on Wednesday but couldn't because he knows only one note: ominous in B flat.

Well maybe Iraq (and others) used the summit to welcome the 21st century? Nope, McClatchy Newspapers' Hannah Allam Tweeted on the absence of women:

Hannah Allam
HannahAllam @samdagher Yes, saw her, too. And one other. But don't think we've heard a single woman's voice this whole mtg, no? Obviously wldnt today.
Hannah Allam
HannahAllam Very, very, very few women in that huge hall of Arab leaders. #ALIraq

Well it was safe! Baghdad was safe and free of violence. Liz Sly, Aziz Alwan and Asaad Majeed (Washington Post) report, "The blast at the Iranian Embassy undermined the government’s boasts that it had managed to pull off the summit without incident, although it would have gone unheard in the conference room deep inside the vast palace. Zebari and Elaraby both seemed surprised when asked about it by a journalist." In addition, they shut down traffic, closed Baghdad International Airport, declared a week long holiday, outlawed protests and gatherings, put up barricades, added 100,000 additional security forces and took down cell phone service. Gulf News pbserved, "In addition, the idea that fortified areas such as the Green Zone can exist is also not the solution. As a matter of fact, the very existence of such isolated and protected enclaves proves that there is much to be done to ensure stability and peace."

And then there were the Iraqi people. Watching as their government which wouldn't provide basic services to them finally found a ton of cash to spruce up Baghdad and put on the dog for foreigners. Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) explains, "It spent almost $1 billion on preparations that included unprecedented security measures -- jamming cellphone networks and mobilizing 100,000 security-force members -- and rolling out a catered menu for dignitaries that featured a dessert of 24-carat-gold-laced dates." And the people suffered. In the days ahead of the summit, central markets saw food prices soar as people stocked up in advance already dealing with two hour and four hour delays in getting around Baghdad due to the additional security checkpoints.

CNN's Arwa Damon Tweeted on the reactions of Baghdad dwellers to the summit:

arwaCNN "We wasted lot of $$, it was inconvenient...but i guess its good 4 politics, maybe something will come of it" #baghdad resident on #ALiraq
arwaCNN "Shame on #iraq government, they have been preparing plan 2 secure arab leaders leaving iraqis w/no protection" #baghdad resident on #ALiraq
arwaCNN "Is this the time for this? spending all this money? when people R living in misery & poverty & with no power?" #iraq resident on #ALiraq
And the obvious was pointed out. "Had this money gone to the people in need for housing or other needs, it would have at least raised the living standard of people from the lower class to at least the middle class," declared Iraqi Abul Assal in Kelly McEvers report for All Things Considered (NPR).

Calling the Arab League summit a success for Iraq required a lot of whoring. And a lot of silence. So Jane Arraf and the other Western journalists looked the other way as Nouri al-Maliki targeted Iraq's Communist Party. From Wednesday's "Iraq snapshot:"

We'll close by noting the disturbing news of the day and news that wasn't picked up and front paged but should have been. Nouri al-Maliki is now going after Iraq's Communist Party. Al Mada reports that Nouri's security forces stormed the political party's headquarters and arrested 12 people who were arrested and questioned about protests. Ali Hussein (Al Mada) notes the Communist Party has a long history of fighting for Iraq, not against it. Hussein reports that Nouri's tanks have been sent to surround the homes of Communist Party members in Baghdad. Those who paid attention in December will remember that Nouri ordered tanks to circle the homes of Iraqiya members right before he demanded that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his posts and ordered the arrest of Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi on charges of terrorism. Both al-Mutlaq and al-Hashemi are members of Iraqiya as well as Sunnis. Ali Hussein notes that Nouri also ordered tanks to circle the homes of Communist Party members last year.

The Iraq Communist Party Tweeted, "Iraqi Communist Party condemns raid of its newspaper headquarters by security forces." They state that the raid took place late in the evening Monday and that their headquarters were ransacked by federal police who entered claiming that they were doing a sweep of the area for the Arab League Summit. An old weapon ("piece of junk") was on the roof and they used this as a pretext to arrest 12 of the people who were held overnight and only released after they signed documents -- documents they were forced to sign while blindfolded. While they were held, the federal police returned to the now empty headquarters and ransacked the place. The Community Party condemns the attack and notes that the 78th anniversary of the Iraq Communist Party is approaching.

But Jane Arraf didn't report it in The Christian Science Monitor, nor did Lara Jakes put it out on the AP wire, Reuters didn't touch it, The Washington Post wasn't interested, McClatchy Newspapers was AWOL on the story, all down the food chaing, the western media didn't give a damn.

And yet so many of them then wanted to hail the summit as a success for Iraq?

As Winona Ryder says in Reality Bites, "You're bravado is embarrassing."

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