عدد المساهمات : 38024
تاريخ التسجيل : 21/09/2009
|موضوع: Combat Stress Appeal السبت 03 أبريل 2010, 12:45 am|| |
2.4.10Combat Stress Appeal Combat Stress is the leading charity specialising in the care of British Veterans who have been profoundly traumatised by experiences during their Service career.Combat Stress has had a 66% increase in the demand for services since 2005. And still, on average Veterans wait 14 years before seeking help.
So we need to: Raise £30 million to enhance and develop our services to Veterans.Raise awareness of the plight of Veterans suffering from psychological injury.Encourage Veterans and their families to seek our help earlier.For more information visit the Combat Stress website or to donate online please click here .
Posted by Iraq Solidarity UK at 12:19 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Labels: Combat Stress
, PTSD State food aid package slashed by IRIN
The Iraqi government has decided to cut by half the number of items in state food aid parcels - something that could affect roughly half the population, according to the Trade Ministry.
In future, parcels would contain only flour, rice, sugar, cooking oil and milk."The food rationing system has become a burden on the budget," Deputy Trade Minister Waleed al-Hilo told IRIN. About US$3 million has been allocated to the Trade Ministry for state food aid - half the sum requested, he said.
"These allocations are not enough to keep the system running until the end of the year because of an increase in prices… So we decided to focus our attention on the most important items," he said, adding that they would continue to distribute some of the soon-to-be omitted items for several months while stocks lasted.
The move comes just a few weeks after a decision to exclude from state food aid distribution lists those considered to be better off.Iraq’s food rationing system, known as the Public Distribution System (PDS), was set up in 1995 as part of the UN’s oil-for-food programme following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, but it has been crumbling since 2003 due to poor management, insecurity and corruption, a senior official said.
Monthly PDS parcels have hitherto been supposed to contain rice (3kg per person); sugar (2kg per person); cooking oil (1.25kg or one litre per person); flour (9kg per person); milk for adults (250g per person); tea (200g per person); beans (250g per person); children's milk (1.8kg per child); soap (250g per person); detergents (500g per person); and tomato paste (500g per person).
Many people are shocked by the latest move."As a construction worker, I don’t have a steady daily or monthly income. I’m highly dependent on government aid for food and non-food items," said Kahalf Hamid Dawood, 52, from Sadr City in east Baghdad.
He explained that by selling some of the food items he did not need, he was able to earn a little extra money. "The government must compensate poor people with money so that they can buy what they need. The cut will place another burden on us," he said.
Posted by Iraq Solidarity UK at 12:15 PM 0 comments Links to this post Life of an Iraqi blogger Wamith Al-Kassab
This post is contributed by Wamith Al-Kassab, a blogger at Iraqi Streets and Mideast Youth.
In the summer of 2008, I survived an assassination attempt in Iraq. My "crime" was that I am "an enemy of God," a promoter of concepts that "offended" religion. My crime was writing articles calling for the protection of religious minorities and calling for the rights of women, children, and homosexuals in Iraq, urging people to protect innocent people from brutal attacks by armed militias.
My principles forced me to live in harsh humanitarian conditions as I search for a safe haven, and as many of the countries which adopted human rights protection, bloggers from Iraq are not in the ranks of immediate threat, and I am thus forced to stay in search for protection.
We pay a high price in order to convey the reality of death and destruction in Iraq and to defend freedom of expression. While I live the reality of my search for a lifeline away from a death sentence awaiting me in my home country, I receive no means of protection and every day I come closer to face death again because of the programs forcing Iraqis to return, adopted by several European countries through treaties the Iraqi government put fourth.
Through my continued search for safety, I think of my conditions and imagine the reality of my fellow bloggers inside Iraq, and I know in my heart that they have a more difficult reality and they face more risks as every day the challenging for blogging are bigger and more dangerous.
A few months ago an Iraqi female Ophthalmologist disappeared on her way back to Iraq. She was on her way to participate in a project to help Iraqi children with a delegation of medical professionals from Jordan, an informant for the Iraqi border police accused her of being a blogger known as "Hiba Shemary" who blogs under the false name of the daughter of the Baath. After inspection of her personal laptop, several articles were found to support the charge, and she was arrested on charges of promoting terrorism.Me and many Iraqi bloggers believe in the new Iraq and reject the return of the past and we disagree with her and her beliefs, but the truth is that she was not more than a doctor who promotes ideas and opposition to the government of Iraq through a personal blog, which had limited followers, obviously not enough to be regarded as a promoter of terrorism in a time when the government allows many satellite and radio channels, the kind that would have allowed here to potentially reach millions of people, so the claim against her remains ridiculous.
At the beginning of March, a known Iraqi activist in the field of human rights, who operates on the Internet, specifically on Facebook, received 2 death threats. The first accused her of being a Western agent and is anti-Islam (the same charges I received) because she promote the rights of women and children, freedom of education and discusses the failure of the educational system in Iraq. The second accused her of insulting Iraqi religious figures, threatening her not to cross the line against the characters of religions working in politics. She was forced to reduce her activities because she still lives in Iraq.
In another incident, a young Iraqi blogger living in upscale Shiite areas of Baghdad was attacked by the security forces and intimidation because of his support for the young Iraqi blog which promotes freedom of expression, the army officer who searched the room for evidence of relation to any potential threat posed against the officer and his troops. Asked about the many books in the young boy’s room, are they school books? When the answer was that it’s novels by Marquez… the officer asked "Marx? Are you a communist?"
During the recent elections, bloggers carried a camera and took pictures documenting the elections and whenever he was arrested by a police officer he or she would tell them that they’re working for a channel or a newspaper, that follow to one of the sectarian groups depending on what the soldier would like to hear, in order not to be arrested on charges of "terrorism." Other bloggers carried their phones, posting into sites like Twitter, moving between different houses in order to prevent anyone from detecting their signals. Especially since a number of religious parties had made precautions against repeating the "new media" experience of the Iranian elections with bloggers and activists.
Political assassinations with silencers, explosive adhesive bombs, kidnapping, arrests for unknown reasons, hacking Iraqi sites, psychological and intellectual warfare: this is the reality of the Iraqi bloggers.
Any believer in freedom of expression, warrior against corruption, observers of the reality of political and financial corruption and advocate for reform and national reconciliation, fighters for the rights of minorities and other persecuted groups… anyone with the objectives of turning away from religious totalitarian regimes and ideology will face the hard reality that Iraqi bloggers continue to suffer through.
I asked a number of Iraqi bloggers about how to describe blogging in Iraq, they said, primitive, isolated, like a small child lacking guidance, a severe shortage of support. We are not recognized or treated like "media men," we are neglected, forgotten, ignored.The best description of Iraqi blogging came from a veteran blogger who describes himself as an unarmed Iraqi soldier alone in a battlefield.
Iraqi bloggers learned blogging without a teacher, they do not get support or training from any person. They work in a country governed by customs, traditions and religion.
They are working in conditions of bad electricity to run the computer, using very bad Internet services, forced to walk long distances to reach the Internet café to publish his blog. Iraqi bloggers are working in complete secrecy because of the eyes that lurk in the Internet cafe from religious groups and parties. If we write in support of the new Iraq, we are an agent of the occupation. If we blog criticizing the Iraqi reality, we are an agent of terrorism. We don’t have any rights, it’s like we are unknown.
Iraq is a country living a conflict, it is in the middle of many powers trying to force their views to shape it close to the image that serves their interests.
Bloggers are people suffering from the frustration of political reality and the intellectual life in Iraq, they lack of any areas of expression in the country, their world is filled with concrete walls and subunits of security, inspection and shared by groups and parties.
Bloggers want to convey their vision of the nation, a vision we may like or not, but in the end a person wants to express himself and say a word in a peaceful manner, and has the right to work without fear or intimidation.
Unfortunately, through my experience that I live today I discovered that many of those who were outside Iraq and encourage us to express ourselves and convey images of a new Iraq, were at the forefront of abandoning me and others in my position. Today I face the risk of death or displacement, I risk my life, but I took to myself to fight in my remaining days to prevent a repetition of tragedies with other Iraqi bloggers who face the realities of working in an atmosphere of danger.
Help Iraqi bloggers, with support and protecting. Do not leave us fighting windmills alone, because we will fight like heroes and die without trace. Help us leave a trace in this struggle.
Posted by Iraq Solidarity UK at 12:14 PM 0 comments Links to this post Legal turmoil dogs Iraq poll result By Ahmed Janabi
The decision of Iraq's Justice and Accountability Committee (Jac) to bar six winning candidates of the Iraqiya coalition from sitting in parliament has re-ignited the debate about the body's involvement in the country's political affairs.
The committee, which is charged with preventing former members of the outlawed Baath party from returning to public life, had said earlier this week that the six candidates should have never been allowed to run for election; Jac officials said they would appeal to seek to have them barred from parliament.The Iraqiya coalition, led by former premier Iyad Allawi, won the highest number of seats in the March 7 election.
Further exacerbating tensions, the committee's two most senior officials, Ahmed Chalabi and Ali al-Lami were candidates for the Iraqi National Alliance bloc, which came in third in the election held on March 7.Some Iraqi politicians have charged that Jac has been acting as both "judge and jury" and enforcing decisions taken well beyond its administrative mandate.
Haidar al-Mulla, the spokesman for the Iraqiya coalition, says Jac has used its influence to bar Chalabi's and al-Lami's political rivals. He joined other politicians who argued that the presence of Chalabi and al-Lami - both electoral candidates on March 7 - on the commission was a conflict of interest."The fact that Jac is headed by candidates is a shame. It is an insult to Iraq's legal heritage," he told Al Jazeera.But al-Lami, Jac's CEO, strongly defended his committee's actions as well as his candidacy.
"Iraqi law has defined the criteria which an Iraqi national has to meet to run for the elections, and also the restrictions that would prevent said person from running as a candidate. To be the head of Jac is certainly not among those restrictions, so why should I not run for the elections?" he said.
Still, legal experts who have spoken to Al Jazeera said that a clear distinction needs to be made between judicial bodies and administrative committees.
They say the controversy has brought into focus Iraq's judicial process and questioned its independence and impartiality.Sabah al-Mukhtar, the president of the Arab Lawyers Association, said: "The reason for choosing judicial staff is to ensure neutrality and transparency."
"Since the election is one of the means to achieve democracy, the fact that Mr Chalabi and Mr al-Lami are candidates, contradicts the principles of independence and neutrality required of any judicial body in charge of qualifying electoral candidates," he added.
Al-Mulla went further in his criticism and said the controversy surrounding the legitimacy of candidates and the clash of interests in Jac mirrored similar tactics used by Iranian authorities to keep political rivals at bay.
"Just as the Assembly of Experts in Iran oversees the democratic and political scene in Iran and decides who is in and who is out, the Jac backed by the government is trying to do the same thing. They are wrong; maybe that system suits Iran, but not Iraq," al-Mulla said.
Nevertheless, al-Lami insists that nothing extra-judicial has taken place in Iraq and that Jac was impartial, even though most of the barred candidates belonged to rival coalitions.He explained that the 511 candidates who were barred from running as candidates weeks before the March 7 elections had the right of appeal in court. Although 149 of the banned politicians appealed to Iraq's Supreme Court to rescind the Committee's decision, only 28 bans were overturned.
"This time we are following the same procedures with the six winning candidates ... After reviewing the names of the winners of the election, we found that there are six ... who were allowed by the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) to run in the election," al-Lami said.
Dhafir al-Ani, an Iraqi former MP who was one of hundreds barred from running in the March 7 elections, rejected al-Lami's claims of impartiality and said that the Jac's actions have been suppressive.
"It is true we filed an appeal, but no one talked to us. We did not stand before a judge. We were not able to present a proper defence. Some panel they call an Appeal Body took the decision to uphold Jac's recommendation behind closed doors," al-Ani said."What sort of a court is that?"
Conflict of interests
Al-Ani blamed the Independent High Electoral Committee (IHEC) for carrying out decisions issued by an administrative body, headed by candidates running for the elections.
Faraj al-Haidari, the head of IHEC distanced his organisation from the political controversy."We are no part of that political row. Jac is a body based on the Justice and Accountability Law approved by the parliament. The committee's work is guarded by three members of parliament and a panel of seven judges," he said.
"However, it may be useful to point out that this committee had been disbanded by Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister; we received a letter in that regard days before March 7 elections."Al-Mulla finds al-Haidari's statements peculiar; he questions how the IHEC accepted Maliki's ruling to disband Jac - a body formed by parliament. He says only a parliamentary resolution could therefore disband Jac.
Challenges facing democracy
The political wrangling has highlighted the challenges Iraq's fledgling democracy faces. As Iraq has no post-Saddam institutional foundation to fall back on, even semantics have become contentious issues.According to the constitution, the coalition with the largest bloc will be asked to form a government within 30 days of the election results being federally ratified.
Earlier this week, hoping to outmanoeuvre Allawi, Maliki called on the Supreme Court to define the meaning of the word "bloc". The Court's definition - that the largest bloc is not necessarily one formed prior to the election but could be established following the results - gave Maliki a boost in his efforts to thwart Allawi.
The decision also seemed to hint that even the Supreme Court was now influencing the election outcome.
Posted by Iraq Solidarity UK at 12:14 PM 0 comments Links to this post Government is harassing candidates By Leila Fadel, Washington Post
In a sign of hardening sectarian divisions, the secular, largely Sunni-backed bloc that won the most seats in Iraq's recent parliamentary elections says its victorious candidates are being subjected to a campaign of detention and intimidation by the government of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Maliki's State of Law coalition lost by two seats to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya bloc; the prime minister has been contesting the results of the March 7 vote, saying they are fraudulent. State of Law has appealed the outcome in Iraq's courts and now, Allawi's bloc says, Maliki is using state security forces in a bid to gain enough seats to emerge the winner.
This week, at least two winning Iraqiya candidates in the capital were told they are wanted, bloc officials and the candidates said. Two others are on the run in the mixed Sunni-Shiite province of Diyala, and another was detained before the elections.
Sunni Arabs see the win by Allawi, a secular Shiite, as their own. Many Iraqis and analysts worry that Sunnis will feel cheated if Allawi loses his lead before the new parliament is certified, a development that could spark retaliatory violence just as U.S. troops are drawing down to a mandated 50,000 by summer's end.
One security forces commander confirmed that orders to carry out such detentions must have approval from the highest level of government and said he worries that he is being used for political ends. The commander, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely, said he was told last week to arrest a winning candidate from Allawi's list on charges of terrorism -- charges he said he knew were unfair.
"I'm in a situation that no one would envy," he said. "I'm wondering why didn't they arrest him and try to detain him before."
In the southern Baghdad district of Madain, Qais al-Jubouri, who won a seat March 7, left his home late Monday night after receiving a summons to go to the local Iraqi commander's office. Jubouri, a tribal sheik who had helped form a Sunni Arab paramilitary group at the U.S. behest to battle the insurgency, knew it was not good news.
For more than three years, he had worked with the Iraqi and U.S. militaries and the Iraqi government to foster reconciliation between Sunni Arabs and Shiite Arabs in volatile Madain. Now he faces an arrest warrant on terrorism charges in a case that was solved years ago, military officials and Jubouri said. On Tuesday, he said, his house was raided and his sons were photographed. He is afraid to return home.
"They are tracking us because we won," Jubouri said Wednesday. "I wonder why now I'm wanted by the law. My tribe, my cousins and I saved the law in my area."
Kadhim al-Attiyah, another winning Iraqiya candidate in the capital, is also on the run. This week, military officers told him to leave his home in southern Baghdad. He asked if the government had something against him. He recalled that the officers answered cryptically, "Sure, something is coming."
"We will be chased as long as power is in the hand of a person who belongs to another bloc," Attiyah said Wednesday. "We will not feel safe until the new government is formed and the parliament members are sworn in."A losing Iraqiya candidate, Naheth Ibrahim Ahmed, was detained Wednesday in Yousifiya, on Baghdad's southern outskirts.
Sadiq al-Rikabi, a top adviser to Maliki, said that the detentions have nothing to do with the prime minister and that Maliki's inability to control Iraq's electoral commission illustrates the limits of his authority."When will the accusations stop?" he said. "Does the prime minister have the authority to arrest anyone? He doesn't. The arrest warrants come from a judge."
It is unclear whether any of those detained committed crimes. Many Shiites worry that Allawi's bloc is a cover for criminals and former members of Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath Party and is funded by anti-Shiite neighboring countries.
A spokesman for the Defense Ministry denied that military officers are carrying out politically motivated warrants."As an army, we do not issue warrants against anyone," Mohammed al-Askari said. "We receive these warrants from the judicial system without knowing what parties they belong to or who they are."
Posted by Iraq Solidarity UK at 12:13 PM 0 comments Links to this post 1.4.10Oil law a priority Allawi says Reuters
Former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said on Wednesday he would honour deals signed with global oil majors in recent months and would move quickly to pass a new hydrocarbons law if his bloc forms the government.
But Allawi, whose cross-sectarian Iraqiya bloc won the greatest number of seats in Iraq's March 7 parliamentary election, said the deals might need some minor adjustments and he wanted to see more competition in Iraq's energy sector.
"We are going to honour all contracts. We are going to honour all agreements because we believe this is very important," Allawi told Reuters in an interview.
Iraq awarded contracts to oil majors to refurbish its dilapidated oil fields after years of neglect and war with the goal of expanding production capacity to 12 million barrels per day (bpd) in about six years from about 2.5 mln bpd now. The contracts could catapult Iraq into the top ranks of global producers.
Companies involved in the deals include U.S. giant Exxon Mobil (XOM.N); Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L), Europe's largest oil company; Russia's Lukoil (LKOH.MM); China's CNPC.Allawi said he would move quickly to put a long-delayed hydrocarbons law before parliament to govern the industry."It will definitely be a priority," Allawi said. "It won't take us long."
(Reporting by Khalid al-Ansary and Jim Loney; Editing by Keiron Henderson)
Posted by Iraq Solidarity UK at 1:56 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Labels: iraqi oil Iraqi oil production slumps Dow Jones
The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) in March saw output fall for the first time in a year as a large drop in Iraqi production outweighed a small increase by quota-bound members, a survey by Dow Jones Newswires showed yesterday.
The survey, which is based on input from oil traders, analysts and industry sources, estimates output by all 12 group members fell 0.77 per cent, or 227,000 barrels a day, last month to 29.235 million barrels.
The drop came on the back of a 267,000-barrel-a-day slump in Iraq to 2.3 million barrels.The drop cancelled out a 40,000-barrel-a-day, or 0.15 per cent, output increase by Opec's 11 quota-bound members in March to 26.935 million barrels a day, the survey shows.
Quota-bound members in March pumped about 2.09 million barrels a day above their target of 24.845 million barrels a day set in late 2008 after three production cuts, according to the survey.
Posted by Iraq Solidarity UK at 1:55 PM 0 comments Links to this post