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 Moqtada al-Sadr returns to Iran

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مُساهمةموضوع: Moqtada al-Sadr returns to Iran    الإثنين 24 يناير 2011, 2:40 am

Moqtada al-Sadr returns to Iran






The Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al Sadr returned to Iran on Friday after spending a couple of weeks testing the political waters back home in Iraq after a long, self-imposed exile, aides said.

Mr al Sadr, whose speeches rallied millions of poor Iraqi Shi'ites against US forces after the 2003 invasion and whose militia played a major role in the sectarian carnage that gripped Iraq, slipped out of the country without fanfare.

"Yes, definitely Sayyed Moqtada al Sadr went back to Iran," a source inside his office said, on condition of anonymity.

It was not immediately clear if the young cleric had returned to Iran temporarily or if he intended to stay a while, perhaps to resume religious studies in Qom.One senior former member of Mr al Sadr's Mahdi Army militia said his return to Iran was a "surprise" while a member of his political bloc said he was expected to come back soon.

Mr al Sadr's return to Iraq on January 5 rattled the political establishment, more than three years after he fled the country facing an old arrest warrant brought against him by US administrators.

Mr al Sadr's movement has become a powerful political force in Iraq after winning 39 parliamentary seats in last year's election and playing a pivotal role in securing Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki's reappointment last month.

*
Reuters




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Iraqi government purchase $75 million limousines






The Iraqi government has decided to spend nearly $75 million from the country’s oil revenues to purchase armored limousines, one for each of the 325 members of parliament.

The government says the vehicles are needed because the parliamentarians are targets of attack by insurgents and 'terrorists.’The high salaries and perks senior Iraqi officials get are fueling anger in Iraq and there has been a storm of protest from local media.

The benefits have turned them into a special class with body guards, armored vehicles and specially imported power generators to light, heat and cool their homes.The roads leading to their houses are normally blocked and when driving in Baghdad their armored vehicles are part of a large convoy of cars carrying their contingents of bodyguards.

Lack of transparency is leading to wild guesses about the monthly salaries and other benefits senior officials get in the country.The government which claims to be democratically elected has no transparency system in place where ordinary Iraqis can have access to the perks, salaries and benefits of senior officials.

By Shaymaa Adel,
Azzaman.




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Electoral ruling riles Maliki's rivals






A ruling by the Iraqi high court calling for the country's electoral commission to come under the supervision of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's Cabinet prompted rival parties Saturday to proclaim the move "a coup against democracy."

The decision by the Supreme Court was posted Friday on its website.

The ruling called for the Independent High Electoral Commission and the anti-corruption board to be supervised by the council of ministers headed by Maliki, who secured a second term two months ago amid accusations that he was becoming an authoritarian leader.

Maliki's supporters say the prime minister, whose office made the request to the high court, is merely trying to fix a broken system.

"For four years, they have not been attached to anyone supervising their work and, as we hear, there is a lot of financial and administrative corruption," said Hanan Fatlawi, a lawmaker from Maliki's bloc. "This is to supervise their work, not to interfere with their work."

The court apparently agreed, reasoning that the electoral commission, created by parliament in 2007, and the anti-corruption body required full-time supervision. The court in its decision emphasized that the institutions should remain independent and free from political interference.

But some parties were suspicious of Maliki and the high court, remembering how the prime minister requested a ruling last year over who had the right to form the next government after an election that saw Maliki and his secular rival, Iyad Allawi, finish in a dead heat.

The court's ruling that the largest bloc in parliament could form the government after a vote effectively allowed Maliki to create a majority with the other main Shiite bloc in parliament.Allawi's Iraqiya bloc expressed its alarm over the latest ruling in a statement Saturday.

"The decision of the federal court to connect the independent boards to the council of ministers directly instead of the parliament … is considered as a coup against democracy," the bloc said.A spokesman for the electoral commission said he too was shocked.

"We … are connected to the parliament, and our appointments are via parliament, and even the heads of our provincial offices should be appointed by the parliament, not the council of ministers. We shall be that [way] in order to have a full independence," Qassim Aboudi said. " Yes, the federal court decision was wrong."

By Ned Parker for the
LA Times. you can contact the author at ned.parker@latimes.com




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'unjustified homicide' in US run prisons in Iraq






New documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union show "unjustified homicide" of detainees and concerns about the condition of confinement in U.S.-run prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, according to the ACLU.

Thousands of documents detailing the deaths of 190 U.S. detainees were released by the ACLU on Friday. The U.S. military gave the ACLU the documents earlier in the week as a result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by the rights group.

Among the documents are autopsy reports and military investigations, including 25 to 30 cases the ACLU says it believes are "unjustified homicide." Some of the homicides in the documents are widely known and have been reported in the media, such as the case of four Iraqi detainees executed by a group of U.S. soldiers and then pushed into a Baghdad canal in 2007.

Others are thought by the ACLU to be new. In one such case, a detainee was killed by an unnamed sergeant who walked into a room where the detainee was lying wounded "and assaulted him ... then shot him twice thus killing him," one of the investigating documents says. The sergeant than instructed the other soldiers present to lie about the incident. Later, the document says an unnamed corporal then shot the deceased detainee in the head after finding his corpse.

In another example, documents note a soldier "committed the offense of murder when he shot and killed an unarmed Afghan male." But, according to the ACLU, the individual was found not guilty of murder by general court-martial.

"So far, the documents released by the government raise more questions than they answer, but they do confirm one troubling fact: that no senior officials have been held to account for the widespread abuse of detainees. Without real accountability for these abuses, we risk inviting more abuse in the future," the ACLU said in a statement.

The Defense Department disputes the allegations, saying it takes detainee treatment seriously.

"DoD policy requires the immediate reporting of detainee deaths to appropriate DoD criminal investigative agencies regardless of the circumstances at the time of death," said Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Tanya Bradsher. "Indeed, the fact that so many autopsies and investigative reports exist indicates the seriousness with which the Department takes its responsibilities regarding detainee treatment and accountability."

Of the investigations in the documents, 43 had U.S. soldiers or personnel as potential suspects, according to Lt. Col. David H. Patterson, an Army spokesman. Probable cause for murder was found in 13 of those investigations, resulting in 19 separate convictions, Patterson said, many of which carried significant sentences, with some soldiers receiving 20 years or more.

"It's important to remember that the majority of these detainee deaths were due to reasons not directly involving U.S. personnel. For example, a number were the result of detainee-on-detainee violence," Patterson said.

"Although there have been cases of individuals involved in misconduct, there is no evidence of systematic abuse by the United States military," said Bradsher. "The (Defense) Department has detained more than 100,000 individuals in Iraq and Afghanistan, many with pre-existing medical conditions or battlefield wounds. Detainees in DoD custody have died from a number of causes including enemy attacks, detainee-on-detainee violence, battlefield injuries, and natural causes."

One concern noted by the ACLU is the amount of deaths that involved cardiac problems: over 25%. The group says it is looking into this finding."This could potentially raise serious questions about the conditions of confinement or interrogation of the detainees," the ACLU said.

The ACLU obtained the 2,624 pages of documents through a Freedom of Information Act request filed with the government in 2009. The package included about 124 autopsy and 133 investigation reports.

By Jennifer Rizzo,
CNN




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Blair must face trial





No-one should ever be amazed at the grotesque pretexts dreamed up by Tony Blair to justify the unjustifiable.

Blair suggested to the Chilcot inquiry that he had disregarded attorney general Lord Goldsmith's initial legal advice on the planned invasion of Iraq because it was "provisional."

However, the then prime minister didn't simply ignore the advice given. He stood it on its head.

Blair stood up in Parliament giving a position diametrically opposed to what Goldsmith had told him. He justifies that now by saying that he was convinced that the attorney general would come round to his view once he knew the full facts.

Both Blair and Goldsmith are at fault for their refusal to take international law seriously.

Blair was hell-bent on backing George W Bush's invasion plan, irrespective of international law, while Goldsmith allowed himself to be browbeaten into changing his advice and is only now blowing the gaff on Blair's criminal behaviour.

The attorney general ought to have stood by his original judgement, in which case Blair would have been in a cleft stick.Failure to do so allowed the prime minister to send thousands of British troops to fight in Iraq and to be part of an operation that led to the unnecessary deaths of a million Iraqis of all descriptions.

Blair oozed insincerity today as he finally claimed to "regret deeply and profoundly the loss of life" of all those who have perished in Iraq, which smacked of a PR exercise in response to criticism of his previous "no regrets" performance.

Having originally said that he wouldn't apologise for removing Saddam Hussein, he followed that up by recognising that regime change had always been on Bush's agenda."Regime change was their policy, so regime change was part of the discussion. If it became the only way of dealing with this issue, we were going to be up for that," he said.

But both he and Goldsmith knew that regime change is illegal under international law, unless justified by a specific UN security council resolution or by self-defence.Rhetoric about Saddam's crimes against his own people, his invasions of neighbouring countries or pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is irrelevant.

Individual countries do not have the right under international law to substitute themselves for the UN and to construct invasion coalitions.Blair knew that well, which is why he saw the need for a second UN security council decision, recognising that resolution 1441 did not expressly provide for military action.

The former prime minister's reference to the effect of 1441 in paving the way for the return of weapons inspectors in November 2002 passes by the inconvenient fact that, after Saddam allowed them back into Iraq, the US and Britain forced their withdrawal.

Blair and Bush knew before their military build-up began that Saddam no longer had WMD. Previous stocks had been destroyed and programmes discontinued.They had hoped that Saddam would obstruct or provoke the inspectors, providing a pretext for war.

When that didn't happen, they told the inspectors to leave, fearing that their confirmation that Iraq was WMD-free would hamper invasion plans.Blair cannot hide the reality that he was committed to war from Bush's first call for support. His dirty deeds and the families of his victims, British and Iraqi, cry out for him to stand trial for war crimes.

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