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 Iraq the safest country: Maliki

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الدولة : العراق
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تاريخ التسجيل : 21/09/2009
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مُساهمةموضوع: Iraq the safest country: Maliki    الثلاثاء 01 مارس 2011, 11:02 pm

Iraq the safest country: Maliki






Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Monday that Iraq may be the safest country in the Arab world, as protests and violence rage across much of the region.

Maliki's remarks came as he reiterated his optimism that an Arab League summit set to be held in Baghdad on March 29 would go ahead as scheduled, despite the upheaval.

"Iraq could be the safest country (in the Arab world) at this stage," Maliki told a news conference in the capital's heavily fortified Green Zone.Though violence is much lower than its peak in 2006 and 2007 across Iraq, attacks still occur regularly, and the number of people killed in January, 259, was the highest in four months.

On the Arab League summit, Maliki said: "We are still optimistic about holding the summit in Baghdad, and the Arab League still wants it."He added Iraq was willing to postpone the summit by one or two months, if necessary.

Several countries in the region have been roiled by massive demonstrations and unrest in recent weeks, starting with the fall of Tunisian strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, followed by the ouster of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, and now with violence in Libya against the rule of Moamer Kadhafi.

AFP


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Iraqi Women Halt Bombers






The women charged with thwarting Iraq’s female suicide bombers spend their days in cramped metal sheds at police checkpoints and lobbies of government offices, running their hands over the black-robed bodies of other women.

The Iraqi authorities say the searches have helped to curb female suicide attacks, once a scourge of this still-dangerous city. And they say the teams of women, known as the Daughters of Iraq, play a crucial role in a country where rigid divisions between the sexes make it awkward, sometimes unthinkable, for male police officers to frisk women and girls in search of the telltale lump of a gun or an explosive belt.

But the women say they have not been paid in nearly a year, since the Iraqi government took control of the program from the United States military, which helped establish and finance the Daughters in 2008.“They keep promising they’ll pay us next month, then next month,” said Hind Jasim, who joined the Daughters after her husband lost his job. “What keeps us here are their promises.”

The women’s struggles reflect broader concerns about how the Iraqi government will maintain projects financed by the United States as the remaining 50,000 American troops depart over the next 10 months.

Some of the 300 women in the Daughters quit after their $250 monthly pay dried up. Those who stayed on, a vast majority, are sliding deeper into the poverty the program was intended to ameliorate. Many are war widows or their family’s only breadwinners.

Here in Diyala Province, in the northeast, once the country’s epicenter of female suicide attacks, the group’s leaders are straining to find money to pay electric bills and rent on its drafty headquarters. The women said that the local government and police forces had advocated on behalf of the group, but that they had provided little material support.

Wijdan Adil, who helped found the Daughters, said Iraqi officials had encouraged the women to keep working as a matter of duty to Iraq and their slain husbands, even as some sank into debt and became disillusioned with the government.“If you give up on the Daughters of Iraq, there will be a security vacuum in Diyala,” Ms. Adil said. “They’ll be an easy target for Al Qaeda,” she said, referring to the Daughters.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki blamed “technical reasons” for the lapse in payments, but said the government was committed to financing the Daughters and integrating them into a branch of the security services.

“They are doing a job that cannot be done by their brothers in security,” said the spokesman, Ali al-Moussawi. “Their work is respected and appreciated by all.”Iraq has also been slow to pay the Awakening Movement, American-backed teams of former Sunni insurgents who switched sides to fight alongside United States forces.

Iraqi officials promised to weave the Awakening members into security forces and other government ministries, but a recent report by American officials overseeing Iraq reconstruction found that only 41 percent of 95,000 Awakening members had been given jobs.

The Daughters of Iraq were modeled after the Awakening, though on a much smaller scale. In late 2008, trained in self-defense and small-arms use, they fanned out to traffic checkpoints and other security posts in Diyala, Baghdad’s Sunni neighborhoods and towns south of the capital.

Some Iraqis were angered by the sight of women wearing gray, military-style shirts at checkpoints or marching in formation during parades. A few of the women received threatening phone calls, said Ms. Adil, the group’s director, who survived a roadside bombing last October that maimed her brother.

Iraqi officials said the searches played a role in curbing female bombers. There were 36 such attacks in 2008; the number plunged to four in 2009 and to only one in 2010 — actually a man dressed as a woman, according to the United States military. There have been no reported female suicide attacks this year.

The drop coincides with an overall decline in violence over the past few years, and much of the decrease in female suicide bombings may be attributed to American and Iraqi military actions against militant groups.

Akbal Abed Rashid, 45, said she joined the Daughters out of necessity. Her husband, an Iraqi soldier, was killed by militants in 2006. A month later, fearing retribution, they killed her 17-year-old son. Ms. Rashid said she alone had to care for her four daughters and two young sons.

“Joining the Banat al-Iraq was the only way to survive,” she said, using the group’s Arabic name. “Nobody sees how much we have sacrificed, how much trouble we have supporting our families.”Stories like hers are common in the streets in Diyala, where workers and farmers are still discovering mass graves holding men, women and children killed by militants.

In 2004, Abistam Aboud, 37, said she watched as militants stormed her house and shot her husband in the head. She said she scraped by for a few years by selling baked goods on the streets and running a corner store out of her living room, but was drawn to the Daughters by the promise of regular pay and the idea of protecting other people from attacks.

“I could protect other people, which I couldn’t do for my husband,” she said. “This is what I put in front of my eyes.”But as months have passed without paychecks, women with the Daughters of Iraq say they are struggling to hang on, and growing cynical about the promises of back pay and government support.

Some have sold their jewelry and furniture, or left their homes to move in with family members, and racked up debts at local bakeries, clothing stores and supermarkets. One woman said she had to borrow money simply to commute to work at her checkpoint.

“We’ve fallen into debt, lots of debt,” said Zahara Abdullah, 34, who frisks women as they enter Diyala’s Ministry of Youth. “We are just buying the necessities to keep us alive.”

Like an estimated one in five Iraqis, Ms. Abdullah’s husband, a laborer, is out of work, leaving her to provide for the family. But since the monthly checks stopped, they have given up doctor’s visits. As she worked, her 5-year-old son collected handfuls of grass and clover to feed the rabbits and chickens the family raises in the backyard.

Though Ms. Abdullah said she had an accounting degree, a search for other work yielded nothing. So she has decided to hold out, saying she hopes that, any day now, her paycheck will come.

By JACK HEALY and YASIR GHAZI,
The New York Times


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‘Iraq Daughters’ Struggle to Survive .






Unpaid for months, women responsible for scaring off Iraq’s female suicide bombers are trying to afford necessities of life for their families while keeping vigilant watch at their checkpoints.

“They keep promising they’ll pay us next month, then next month,” Hind Jasim, who joined the women-only force after her husband lost his job, told The New York Times on Monday, February 28.

“What keeps us here are their promises.”

The teams of women, known as the Daughters of Iraq, are charged of frisking women and girls at police checkpoints and lobbies of government offices in search of telltale lump of a gun or an explosive belt.Iraqi authorities say the searches have helped curb attacks by female bombers.

There was only one attack by female suicide in 2010, compared to four in 2009 and 38 in 2008.There has been no reported female suicide attack this year.But the financial crisis biting Iraq has left many of the female guards, many of whom are widows or their family’s only breadwinners, unpaid for nearly a year.

Some of the 300 women in the force quit after their $250 monthly pay dried up since the Iraqi government took over the program from the United States military, which helped establish and finance the program in 2008.

“We’ve fallen into debt, lots of debt,” said Zahara Abdullah, 34, who frisks women as they enter Diyala’s Ministry of Youth.Some have sold their jewelry and furniture, or left their homes to move in with family members.Abdullah’s husband is unemployed, leaving her the only breadwinner of her family.

But since the monthly checks stopped, they have given up doctor’s visits.As she worked, her 5-year-old son collected handfuls of grass and clover to feed the rabbits and chickens the family raises in the backyard.“We are just buying the necessities to keep us alive.”

Survival

Some the female guards are, however, reluctant to leave the force as it is the only source of income for their families.“Joining the Banat al-Iraq was the only way to survive,” Akbal Abed Rashid, 45, said, using the group’s Arabic name.

Rashid joined the Daughters out of necessity after her husband, an Iraqi soldier, and her 17-year-old son were killed separately by militants in 2006.Now, she alone had to care for her four daughters and two young sons.“Nobody sees how much we have sacrificed, how much trouble we have supporting our families.”

A spokesman for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki blamed “technical reasons” for the lapse in payments, saying that the government was committed to financing the Daughters and integrating them into a branch of the security services.“They are doing a job that cannot be done by their brothers in security,” said the spokesman, Ali al-Moussawi.

“Their work is respected and appreciated by all.”

For Abistam Aboud, 37, she joined the force to protect Iraqis after she watched militants storming her house to shoot down her husband.“I could protect other people, which I couldn’t do for my husband,” she said.“This is what I put in front of my eyes.”

Wijdan Adil, who helped found the Daughters, said Iraqi officials had encouraged the women to keep working as a matter of duty to Iraq and their slain husbands, even as some sank into debt and became disillusioned with the government.

“If you give up on the Daughters of Iraq, there will be a security vacuum in Diyala,” Adil said.“They’ll be an easy target for Al Qaeda,” she said, referring to the Daughters.

OnIslam & Newspapers


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IRAQ: Funding hits IDP Returnees






Iraqi government plans for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees may not be fully implemented this year because of a funding shortfall, says Deputy Minister for Displacement and Migration Azhar Al-Mousawi.“We have set [up] a lot of big projects this year, but the ministry - according to the allocated budget - may not be able to implement its commitments,” he told IRIN on 26 February.

In January, the government announced plans to tackle internal displacement, and monitor and assist Iraqi refugees abroad. It sought to encourage IDPs to go back to their areas of origin, stay in the areas they have ended up in, or help them move to a new area.

The government also established “Return Assistance Centres” in Baghdad, and offered a financial assistance package of US$850 and a six-month rental compensation package for registered IDPs.“We have plans to tackle internal displacement, help the returnees and encourage expatriates [mainly doctors and teachers who fled the violence] to return," Mousawi said. "All these plans need money [but] what we have is not enough."

According to the UN Secretary-General's representative on the rights of IDPs, Walter Kalin, the scale and history of forced displacement in Iraq has created a complex situation that needs a “comprehensive strategy” to address the immediate humanitarian needs and human rights of displacement-affected communities, and find durable solutions.

“Iraq has suffered many waves of internal displacement throughout its recent past as a result of conflict, sectarian violence, and forced population movements associated with policies of the former regime - with an estimated 1.55 million persons remaining in displacement since 2006,” Kalin said in a 16 February report.

“This situation is compounded by a marked deterioration of basic infrastructures and services across the country, lack of livelihoods and economic opportunities, continuing insecurity and sectarian divisions, as well as serious deficits in relation to governance, rule of law and the capacity of government structures."

According to the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Iraqi IDPs and refugees are unwilling to return to their places of origin because of continued real or perceived threats of violence: Their homes were either destroyed or occupied by others; and they lacked employment opportunities and access to essential services.

Seeking partners

Mousawi said his ministry, which is mandated to implement government plans for IDPs and returnees, was only allocated the equivalent of US$250 million this year, but needs $416-500 million to fully implement its plans. Iraq’s parliament approved an $82.6 billion budget on 20 February.

The ministry, he added, would review its plans and seek partners mainly in the UN. “Our priority is to help displaced people and returnees to meet their needs,” he said. “But returnees will need more to be spent on them than those still displaced because they need health, education and other services."

Funding shortfalls have also affected the work of international organizations. In its 2011 Global Appeal, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said its budget for this year in Iraq was about $210.6 million, lamenting a 20-40 percent funding shortfall.“Some returnees and IDPs remain in dire circumstances that require urgent humanitarian interventions,” it said in an appeal earlier this year.

(For latest statistics on returnees and IDPs by governorate click here)

According to Kalin, over 75 percent of IDPs live in rented accommodation or with host families, while over 20 percent live in irregular settlements, former military camps, tents and public buildings.

There are an estimated 1.5 million IDPs across the country, according to Refugees International and the Brookings Institution. Many of these fled their homes after sectarian violence broke out following the 2003 war that toppled Saddam Hussein.

(For a recent IOM review of displacement and return in Iraq since 2006, click here)







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Labels: Economy, Iraqi Refugees, Refugees/IDPs






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Freedoms worst days in Iraq






A number of Iraqi journalists, who were detained during their coverage of the mass demonstrations that took place in central Baghdad’s al-Tahrir Square last Friday, will sue against the official and executive departments, which arrested them in a campaign against the journalists and the press, pointing out in a news conference in Baghdad on Saturday that "freedom of expression is facing one of its worst days in Iraq nowadays."

A number of journalists told the news conference that they were exposed for detention and beating during the Friday’s demonstration, decided to raise a judicial case against the executive authority and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces (Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki), due to what they described as "violations against journalists during their coverage for the Friday demonstration."

"The detentions took place without an official decision and without the announcement by the military party that decided to arrest them, whilst some of them were beaten during their detention and investigation," they said.

The Writer, Hadi al-Mahdi, told the news conference that his slogan during the demonstration had been concentrating on the peaceful nature of the demonstration, along with confirmation for reforming the system and not the downfall of the regime, but despite that, he said he was arrested and beaten.Mahdi spoke in detail about his exposure, together with his colleagues, for detention and torture, under charges that he had been a member of Iraq’s former ruling Baath Party, whilst he had been an immigrant in Denmark, for which he escaped away from the Baathist regime.

Journalist Saif al-Khayat told the news conference he was also tortured, whilst he was about to get crashed by a police car, when he tried to help one of the wounded demonstrators, whilst Journalist, Husam al-Sarai, said he was arrested together with three of his colleagues, expressing fear that Iraq might change into "a police state."

Meanwhile, the news conference listened to a statement by the journalists, who described the campaign against reporters as "violation for the freedom of expression, guaranteed by the Iraqi Constitution, which reiterated that "the freedom of expression in Iraq is facing one of its worst days."

The statement pointed out that "the incidents that took place during Feb 25th and the days that preceded it, have discovered the fact that the political authorities have treated the demonstrations in such a cruel security way, whilst a statement by Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, described the Friday demonstration a day before its scheduled time as "having been pushed by al-Qaeda, the Baath and terrorist forces."

"The press had been a basic target for a campaign against freedoms, that was preceded by assaults before Feb 25th, against a number of press institutions, confiscation of their equipments and preventing their live television coverage for the demonstrations, along with a campain of detentions against the journalists, who covered the demonstration," the statement said.

It said that "a number of Hummer military vehicles had stopped in front of a restaurant in Baghdad’s Karrada area, about 05:00 pm on Feb 25th, out of which a number of army men of Intelligence Division 11, entered the restaurant and began to insult and beat by hands, feet and rifles, on four young reporters, who were taking their meal, and then they dragged them into the Hummers, drove them to the Division’s HQ, where they were tortured and forced to sign papers, denying their torture and promising not to share in any 'mob acts.’

"The attacks aim at undermining the freedom of expression in general, and the press and journalists in special, thing that represents a major blow for one of the platforms of democracy, because the freedom of expression is the main platform for all principles, stemming from democracy," the statement said.

In conclusion, the statement quoted the journalists, "concerned with the rights of people," as asking: "If lights have protected us a little bit; how about those people, who have nobody, but God Almighty?, pointing out that "this is the first time in Iraq’s modern history that people take to the streets in a "festival reflecting the freedom of expression, that was poisoned by the Iraqi authorities that treated it with harsh charges and horrible police measures."

To see a video of the attacks against media in the demonstrations watch this
link ,the camera man shouts i am press ,press ,press ,as they beat him.

wamith al-kassab
http://www.iraqistreets.com/
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Iraq the safest country: Maliki
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