Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, April 24, 2018.

RUDAW reports:

Some residents in the Iraqi capital are voicing their dissatisfaction with the current government's empty promises to improve services like sewers and roads.

"The state is financially strong. Its net worth surpasses billions of dollars. The whole world is eyeing our country due to our oil. In other words, we are the richest country in the world, but at the same time we are the poorest people in the world," Halim Hatam, a resident from Tariq neighborhood in Baghdad

Residents there and in the Muntazar neighborhood have complained of litter piling up on the streets — grounds where children play.

"[The government] does not implement what we are asking for. Nobody cares about us. We do not know who we should turn to. Look, we are just asking them to pave a single street with asphalt," said another man in Tariq.



These are serious issues -- the litter, the roads.

But especially serious are the sewers in parts of /Baghdad.  All areas of Iraq were destroyed by the US-led invasion.  But parts of Baghdad, the poorest areas, especially suffer because of the sewers.  When the rains come, the water in these areas does not drain quickly and it can quickly be knee level or even higher.  This leads to the areas flooding.  This is not a new development.

From back to the November 21, 2012 snapshot:

In Iraq, the rains have been falling with significant consequences.  Tuesday, All Iraq News reported that the rest of the week would be rainy and foggy.  And Iraq had already seen heavy rain fall.  Sadr City was one of the areas effected.   Joseph Muhammadwi and Mahmoud Raouf (Al Mada) reported on the flooding of Sadr City and included a photo of the water up to the frame of a mini-van. Despite the flooding and continuing heavy rains, traffic police stand outside directing vehicles. One resident jokes that Nouri can replace the food-ration cards with free small boats.  The water's flooded the streets and also gone into homes and schools and a makeshift bridge of bricks has been constructed to allow access to one school.  Dar Addustour noted that many of the cities, such as Kut, have been hit with the heavy rains.  Baghdad residents protested the lack of public services -- proper sanitation (i.e. drainage) would alleviate a great deal of the standing water. Nouri's had six years to address Baghdad's sewer system and done nothing.  AFP reports today the heavy rains in Kut led to houses collapsing resulting in the death of six children and leaving one adult male injured.



From December of the same year:

All Iraq News notes that Baghdad is receiving the most rainfall it's seen in thirty years. Alsumaria adds that the last days alone have seen the amount of rainfall Baghdad usually receives in a full year (note the picture of the three men walking down the street with water up to their knees). Kitabat notes that the rain is destroying the infrastructure (check out the photo of the man who's apparently  trying to get home with bags of groceries).

This is not just due to rainfall.  This is also the result of Iraq's crumbling infrastructure -- infrastructure Nouri al-Maliki has had six years to address and he's done nothing.

Alsumaria notes yesterday's rains have caused 3 deaths and two people to be injured in Baghdad -- two deaths from a house collapsing due to the rain and one from electrical death (with two more injured in that as well) and that main streets in the capital are sinking.   All Iraq News notes Baghdad has been placed on high alert because of the torrential rains.

You could mistake Baghdad for Venice in this All Iraq News photo essay which notes that students are forced to walk through the high standing water to get to schools.   They also note of Tuesday's rainfall:  Baghdad had the most yesterday (67 mm) followed by Hilla, Azizia and Karbala (rainfall was also recorded in Samawa, Rifai and Basra -- of those three, Basra was the highest and Baghdad's rainfall was three times Basra's).   It's not just Baghdad.  Alsumaria notes that after ten house collapses in Wasit Province village, the Iraqi Red Crescent began evacuating the entire village. Dar Addustour notes Nouri issued a statement yesterday that he's going to oversee a committee that will try to address the situation.



Big words from Nouri.  That's all he ever offered.  No actions, just words.

From the November 12, 2013 snapshot:




As for thug Nouri?  It's not been a period of good opticals for Nouri.   Sunday, we noted:


Al Mada reports that cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr called on his followers to participate in the parliamentary elections expected to be held in April 2014.  He stated voting is a right and that Iraqis must use their rights for the good of the people.  He encouraged his followers to vote for those who will serve the people.
Clearly that person couldn't be Nouri. We've noted why many times but click here and look at All Iraq News' photo of a section of Baghdad today.  The cars are almost underwater.  And why?  Rain.  Rain in a country that Nouri's 'led' for over 7 years and never bothered to improve the sewage system.  So when it rains, the water doesn't drain, it stands and floods.


Monday,  Wael Grace (Al Mada) reported that in addition to drainage and sewage issues, Baghdad is sinking.  This has to do with a channel from fifty years ago and the government's aware of it and, at one point in the last few years, had $500 million to spend on it but didn't spend it on fixing the problem.And you can check out the photo in this report by Alsumaria -- a report which notes the current sewage system -- in the capital of the country -- dates back to the 1960s.  It's over five decades old and further destroyed by war but Nouri's done nothing to update it.  Alsumaria also reports the flooding is taking place in Anbar Province as well and that roads are being cut off.


How bad is the problem -- this problem that's worsened with 7 years of Nouri's neglect?

All Iraq News reports Nouri's announced "a meeting with Governors to discuss the raid-related floods."



And from the meeting Mr. Big Talk Nouri announced?  Nothing.  Not one damn thing.

We could provide many, many more examples.

Corruption is a big issue in Iraq because the Iraqis see their lives continue suffering and degrade.  The public services have only worsened.  In the safety of the fortified Green Zone, corrupt politicians haven't had to suffer. 

May 12th, elections are supposed to take place in Iraq.  Ali Jawad (ANADOLU AGENCY) notes, "A total of 24 million Iraqis are eligible to cast their ballots to elect members of parliament, who will in turn elect the Iraqi president and prime minister."  RUDAW adds, "Around 7,000 candidates have registered to stand in the May 12 poll, with 329 parliamentary seats up for grabs."  AFP explains that the nearly 7,000 candidates includes 2014 women.   RUDAW also notes that 60 Christian candidates are competing for the five allotted minority seats.  The chief issues?  Mustapha Karkouti (GULF NEWS) identifies them as follows, "Like in previous elections, the main concerns of ordinary Iraqis continue to be the lack of security and the rampant corruption."



As noted in the April 3rd snapshot, pollster Dr. Munqith Dagher has utilized data on likely voters and predicts that Hayder al-Abadi's Al-Nasr will win 72 seats in the Parliament, al-Fath (the militias) will get 37 seats, Sa'eroon (Moqtada al-Sadr's new grouping) will get 27 seats, Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law will get 19 seats, al-Salam will get 18 seats (KDP and PUK parties for the Kurds), Ayad Allawi's Wataniya will get 15 seats. There are others but Dagher did not predict double digits for any of the other seats. The number are similar for the group of those who are extremely likely to vote (Hayder's seats would jump from 72 to 79 seats).  Other predictions?  The Middle East Insstitute's Fanar Haddad insists to Sammy Ketz (AFP) that the post of prime minister will come down to one of three people: Hayder al-Abadi (current prime minister), Nouri al-Maliki (two time prime minister and forever thug) or Hadi al-Ameria "a leader of Hashed al-Shaabi, a paramilitary network that played a pivotal role in defeating IS. Ameri comes from Diyala province and is a statistics graduate from Baghdad University. He fled to Iran in 1980 after Saddam executed top Shiite cleric Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Sadr. The 64-year old is widely viewed as Tehran's favoured candidate."





XINHUA reports:


Iraq's firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Monday called for the people of Iraq to actively participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections to rid the country of corruption.
A statement issued by Sadr office said that Sadr's repeated calls for active turnout is aimed at eliminating Iraq from corruption and corrupt politicians.
Sadr followers are taking part in the competition for the parliament seats under a political party known as Istiqama, or Integrity Patriotic Party (IPP), headed by former lawmaker Jaafar al-Musawi.
IPP joined umbrella coalition under the name of Sa'iroun, which includes some smaller political groups, in addition to the Iraqi Communist Party.


Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr has led protests against corruption.  But, as the turnout for the protests have suggested, corruption is an issue that rallies more than just his base.  It is an issue that, like security, is important to all Iraqis.



IRAQ : New electronic voting machines will announce the elections results a few hours after the voting period ends and that will prevent any fraud or rigging attempts.





IRAQ : New electronic voting machines will announce the elections results a few hours after the voting period ends and that will prevent any fraud or rigging attempts.



Yesterday, REUTERS noted, "A new electronic system will deliver the results of Iraq’s upcoming national election within hours of polls closing, the country’s chief electoral officer said, a marked improvement from previous years when it took weeks to announce the outcome."

This is only an improvement if the vote is secure.  That means that the voting is protected and verifiable.  The Iraqi people should be sure that they own the machines, that there is a paper ballot trail should recounts need to take place and that the machines are inspected to ensure security.  Without taking these and other measures, the machines can be hacked -- just as easily as any other machine can be.  The only real benefit is quick results but quick results mean nothing if the results are questionable. 

So much about the campaigns thus far have been questionable, Seth J. Frantzman (JERUSALEM POST) offers:

This time, eyes will be on what happens in mostly Sunni Arab districts that were liberated from ISIS over the last several years. Abadi visited Fallujah, a Sunni city devastated by the conflict, on April 22. There are almost 100 seats up for grabs in Kirkuk, Ninewa, Diyala, Salah a-Din and Anbar governorates, where most of Iraq’s Arab Sunnis live. Turnout will also be watched closely in Kurdish regions.

Some Kurds have been calling to boycott the elections since Baghdad sent its army into Kirkuk, a largely Kurdish city in northern Iraq. Baghdad sought to reassert Federal control after the September 2017 Kurdistan independence referendum.

IRAQ’S 2005 constitution reserves a quarter of the seats in parliament for women, but in practice, women hold only about 17%. In this election women candidates, who feature prominently on many electoral posters, have been targeted by misogynistic attacks. A purported sex video circulated online ended the candidacy of Prof. Intidhar Ahmed Jassim, a member of Abadi’s party. Another video of Dr. Heshu Rebwar Ali, a KDP candidate, was circulated allegedly showing her in a short dress.



In another bizarre episode, two tribes in Najaf came into conflict after a video showed a 20-year old male from one tribe kissing the campaign poster of a female candidate from the other. In the end, $84,000 was paid to satisfy the “honor” of the woman’s tribe. The instances of targeting women illustrates the use of salacious rumors to harm candidates and tends to target successful women, reducing their chances of running and of other women’s willingness to do so.



In the US, it's also election year.  First comes the primaries.  In June, California holds its primary.  Kevin de Leon is running for the US Senate (I am supporting Kevin).






The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley, DISSIDENT VOICE and PACIFICA EVENING NEWS -- updated:







  • Monday, April 23, 2018

    Burn Pits 360 Announces Grand Opening of Warrior Support Center



    April Newsletter
    Burn Pits 360 Advisory Board Member and Exposure Expert Kerry Baker Discusses Burn Pit Claims in New Video
     
    Burn Pits 360 Advisory Board Member and exposure expert Kerry Baker discussed burn pits and VA disability claims in new video.  Baker, joined by veteran advocate and attorney Robert Chisholm ofChisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD, discussed how burn pits were used during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), and how service members now suffer from adverse health conditions due to their exposure.

    Military burn pits were open-air pits used as a means of waste disposal on U.S. military bases in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Djibouti after September 11, 2001.  Everything from medical waste to metals were burned in the pits around the clock, exposing service members to toxic fumes and inhalants.  These burn pits were managed by both the United States military and private military contractors, including Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR), a military contract recently the subject of a ruling on burn pits and lung disease.

    Ruling for Burn Pit Exposure
    A recent ruling in a Workers' Compensation case against KBR could impact veterans filing VA disability claims.  The claimant was a KBR employee who was deployed to Afghanistan as a private contractor and worked around the burn pits.  She developed severe disabilities including a lung condition and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to her time in Afghanistan.

    The ruling agreed with the claimant that her lung condition was caused by exposure to the burn pits, and ruled that KBR must pay for her medical coverage for her condition.  The ruling that her lung condition is due to exposure to burn pits could have an impact on veterans seeking VA compensation, although VA is not bound by precedent set for Worker's Compensation.

    What Was Released By the Burn Pits?
    Military burn pits released a number of toxic compounds including hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and dioxins.  The Department of Defense has released air samples from the burn pits showing the presence of particulate matter and inhalants, but they have not released samples of air within the smoke screen of the burn pits.  For those that were in the direct line of the smoke, these air samples do not give an accurate picture of possible exposures.

    Mr. Baker and Mr. Chisholm discuss how burn pits emitted similar contaminants as those contained in herbicides used in Vietnam, most notably Agent Orange.  Agent Orange contained dioxin, specifically 2,4-D; 2,4,5-T and its contaminant TCDD. TCDD is the most potent of all dioxins and is listed in the VA's presumptive rule for herbicide exposure.  TCDD is also a byproduct of what was burned in burn pits, exposing veterans to a dioxin that has been recognized by VA to cause a number of serious health conditions.  Mr. Baker states that veterans exposed to burn pits should be considered under the VA's herbicide presumption as they were exposed to a dioxin, TCDD, that is listed in the regulation.

    Applying For VA Benefits
    Many veterans who apply for VA disability benefits for their burn pit-related conditions are denied service connection, in part due to a lack of understanding of the dangers of burn pits and the materials they released.  Unlike Agent Orange, the VA does not have a presumptive rule for burn pit-related conditions.  Since there is no presumptive rule, burn pits claims are decided on a case-by-case basis.  The VA adjudicates these claims for service connection by looking for an event in service, a medically diagnosed condition, and then a medical link ("nexus") between the event and the veteran's condition.

    Click here to watch the video. 
    Burn Pits 360 Honors a Soldier
     
    Each month, Burn Pits 360 honors a fallen soldier.  Retired Sergeant 1st Class Fred Slape served two tours in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army.  He was diagnosed with brain and lung cancer, and passed away at the age of 42.
    Support a Congressional Hearing on Toxic Exposure to Burn Pits
     
    The Burn Pits 360 encourages veterans and their families to send a letter to their Congressional legislator to support holding a hearing on toxic exposure to open air burn pits.  Click here to send a letter to your legislator.
    Take Action to Prove the Connection Between Burn Pit Exposure and Illness by Participating in the Burn Pits 360 Registry Research Study
     
    Burn Pits 360 Registry is a research study, collecting data on burn pit exposures and related illnesses.  The goal is to prove the connection between burn pit exposure and illness.  Before now, this information was only available to the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.  So far, over 5,000 individuals have participated.  Your data will enable Burn Pits 360 to advocate and lobby on behalf of the veteran community for VA benefits, policy change, and specialized health care. To participate, visit us on our website here.
    PARTICIPATE NOW
    Opening of New Warrior Service Center Set for May 2nd

    Burn Pits 360 founders Rosie Torres and Army veteran Leroy Torres announce the opening of the Warrior Support Center in Robstown, Texas in May.  Both Rosie and Leroy were featured in an article to discuss the resources and services that the center will provide to local veterans.

    The Warrior Support Center offers  a safe space for veterans who are returning home from service and aims to foster a sense of home and comradery.  The Center will offer services such as case management, claims assistance, and job training, and includes a computer center, recreation center, and exercise area.

    The grand opening of the Center is May 2nd at 10 AM, and the Center is currently accepting donations for materials such as books and movies, and is looking for sponsors and volunteers.  Click here to sign up to volunteer.

    Click here to see the full article and video. 
    Burn Pits 360 to Speak on Panel at University at Buffalo School of Law 

    Rosie Torres, Executive Director of Burn Pits 360, will participate in a panel discussion at the University at Buffalo School of Law following a free screening of Delay, Deny, Hope You Die.  The screening and panel discussion will take place Monday, April 23rd at 509 O'Brian Hall in The Cellino & Barnes Conference Center.  The film will begin at 6 PM and the panel discussion will begin at 7 PM. 
    Legal Help for Veterans

    Disability Benefits:  If VA has denied your disability compensation claim, assigned you the wrong impairment rating, or if you are entitled to an earlier effective date, contact Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick for assistance.  CCK is also experienced at helping eligible veterans get VA benefits for special monthly compensation (SMC) or total disability rating based on individual unemployability (TDIU).  Contact CCK toll free at 844-291-8569 or visit CCK online at https://cck-law.com.
    Donate to Burn Pits 360

    Burn Pits 360 Needs You!  The success of our mission depends on the generosity of individuals like you.  We ask you to consider a monthly donation to help us advocate for our community and its needs.
    DONATE TODAY!
    Connect with us on Facebook

    Burn Pits 360 is community of veterans with burn pit-related illness, their families, and advocates with the common goal of exposing the harms of toxic burn pit exposure and obtaining benefits and policy change. Join us. Like us on Facebook!
    Meet the Burn Pits 360 Team

    Founder: CPT (Ret.) Le Roy Torres
    Executive Director: Rosie Torres
    Secretary: Tammy McCracken
    Program Manager: Will Wisner
    Legislative Liaison: Cindy Aman
    Director of Development:Daniella Molina

    Advocates Advisory Board
    Diane Slape (Texas)
    Rocio Alvarado (California)


    Advisory Board
    Ret. Colonel David Sutherland
    Dr. Steven Coughlin
    Ret. Lt. Col. Gregg Deeb
    Dr. Robert Miller
    Ret. Lt. Col. Brian Lawler
    Kerry Baker
    Solomon Ortiz Jr., former Texas House of Representatives, District 33
    Solomon Ortiz Sr., former Congressman for the 27th District of Texas
    Copyright © 2018, Burn Pits 360 Veterans Organization, All rights reserved.

    Our mailing address is:
    Burn Pits 360 Veterans Organization
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    Iraq snapshot

    Monday, April 23, 2018.  19 days until Iraq is scheduled to hold elections and so many problems remain.




    In a report RT has filed this morning, they note check points in Iraq.




    RT CORRESPONDENT:  As a fairly regular fixture of life in Iraq, you learn fairly quickly to get used to the fact that you end up spending most of your day stuck in a car.  Part of the reason for this is the checkpoints.  They are all over Iraq.  In fact, if you pan the camera right now, we are approaching one right now.  Now these security officers are checking for suspicious people, perhaps car bombs.  They're supposed to be making Iraq safer but attacks continue despite the checks.  Now it looks like the officers want to check us.

    Driver speaks with security officer.

    RT CORRESPONDENT:  Passport?  Okay.  So I'll hand over my passport now.  Here you go, sir.

    SECURITY OFFICER:  Welcome to Iraq.

    RT CORRESPONDENT:  Thank you.  So it looks like we've been allowed to pass through.  Despite this routine search.  Thankfully, we didn't get detained for too long.  Iraqis do find these to be frustrating but at the end of the day it's probably better than facing another suicide bomb attack.

    These checkpoints serve another purpose every four years -- preventing people from voting.  Those who've left their homes due to sectarian tensions and other security issues will be told at their closest polling center that their ID cards must be used at their own polling station.  The checkpoints will prevent a number of people from voting -- as happens each election cycle though it remains the most ignored story when it comes to the western press.


    AP does note campaign billboards.






    They're not the only ones noting the campaign posters.  Adnan Hussein (AL-ARABYIA) explains:



    What is also terrifying is that the light in the end of the tunnel seems dim and very pale. This is what we can tell from the photos showing the campaign posters for candidates for the upcoming elections. These posters have filled the country’s streets and squares.
    There are dozens and perhaps hundreds of candidates, especially on the lists of influential parties, blocs and coalitions, who are corrupt par excellence. The problem is that these people’s victory is guaranteed thanks to the “haram” earnings they, along with their parties and blocs, made from looting annual budgets or other sources and thanks to the political support they have from the leaders of these parties and blocs!
    How do we fight corruption when we open the doors of the most important and supreme authority in the state for the corrupt?


    On the issue of corruption, many may turn to the words of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.  Ali Mamouri (AL MONITOR) reports:

    During the April 13 Friday sermon, the representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Ahmed al-Safi, reiterated how the Shiite religious establishment in Najaf insists that politicians who have previously failed to live up to executive or legislative responsibility not be elected.
    Safi warned against voting for those who have not provided any services to the people, saying, "Don't vote for those you voted for before and who failed.” He stressed the importance of choosing individuals who have the ability to “swiftly respond” and solve problems.
    Sistani's representatives took to explaining his opinion, calling on voters to be careful and spare Iraq the dangers of choosing an ineffective parliament and government.
    Rashid al-Husseini, a high-ranking cleric close to Sistani, told Al-Furat TV on April 14, “The corrupt people we have voted for have robbed the nation. We ought to not vote for them again, even if they are members of our clan or sect.”
    Husseini said, “I would rather trust a faithful Christian than a corrupt Shiite. A person who does not pray and fast but can be trusted with the money of the people and the nation is deserving of my vote. Even if a person prays and fasts, I can never vote for them if they steal.”


      




    May 12th, elections are supposed to take place in Iraq.  Ali Jawad (ANADOLU AGENCY) notes, "A total of 24 million Iraqis are eligible to cast their ballots to elect members of parliament, who will in turn elect the Iraqi president and prime minister."  RUDAW adds, "Around 7,000 candidates have registered to stand in the May 12 poll, with 329 parliamentary seats up for grabs."  AFP explains that the nearly 7,000 candidates includes 2014 women.   RUDAW also notes that 60 Christian candidates are competing for the five allotted minority seats.  The chief issues?  Mustapha Karkouti (GULF NEWS) identifies them as follows, "Like in previous elections, the main concerns of ordinary Iraqis continue to be the lack of security and the rampant corruption."



    As noted in the April 3rd snapshot, pollster Dr. Munqith Dagher has utilized data on likely voters and predicts that Hayder al-Abadi's Al-Nasr will win 72 seats in the Parliament, al-Fath (the militias) will get 37 seats, Sa'eroon (Moqtada al-Sadr's new grouping) will get 27 seats, Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law will get 19 seats, al-Salam will get 18 seats (KDP and PUK parties for the Kurds), Ayad Allawi's Wataniya will get 15 seats. There are others but Dagher did not predict double digits for any of the other seats. The number are similar for the group of those who are extremely likely to vote (Hayder's seats would jump from 72 to 79 seats).  Other predictions?  The Middle East Insstitute's Fanar Haddad insists to Sammy Ketz (AFP) that the post of prime minister will come down to one of three people: Hayder al-Abadi (current prime minister), Nouri al-Maliki (two time prime minister and forever thug) or Hadi al-Ameria "a leader of Hashed al-Shaabi, a paramilitary network that played a pivotal role in defeating IS. Ameri comes from Diyala province and is a statistics graduate from Baghdad University. He fled to Iran in 1980 after Saddam executed top Shiite cleric Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Sadr. The 64-year old is widely viewed as Tehran's favoured candidate."


    In the KRG, the three dominant parties are the Barazani's KDP (primary party), Goran (emerged as the second most popular political party in the 2014 elections) and the Talabani's PUK (which went from one of the two main parties to a distant third).  In terms of predictions for the Kurdistan Region?


    Sources shows that, will maintain its top position of the parties in the upcoming , whereas, the competition will remain between the Union ,the and for Justice and Democracy. will be the center of this competition.





    Goran is expected to do well; however, it is under attack.  Most recently . . .

    election campaign office was set on fire in Haji Omaran area!
     



    The PUK is facing its own problems -- mainly internal.   RUDAW reported this weekend that Ala Talabani is running as part of the Baghdad Coalition -- a national entity -- and that she is no longer part of any political party.  The niece of former president Jalal Talabani states that PUK leaders -- including family member Hero Ibrahim Ahmed (her aunt) that she was no longer part of the PUK.  The falling out came when she backed removing Hoshyar Zebari as the Minister of Foreign Affairs following the discovery of his corruption and the vote in Parliament to remove him.  RUDAW notes:



    Talabani said in her video message that PUK leaders tried to expel her from the party’s leadership but failed to get enough votes, at which point they made the decision to freeze her out. She added that she has asked the party to explain why they want her out, but has not yet been given an answer. This is the latest defection from the beleaguered PUK. Former second deputy leader Barham Salih is expected give the party some strong competition with his newly-formed Coalition for Democracy and Justice (CDJ).  



    Away from the predictions there is the reality that national reconciliation is still needed in Iraq.  Erika Solomon (FINANCIAL TIMES OF LONDON) reports:


    Healing Iraq’s society, fractured by thousands of deaths and devastating destruction, is one of the toughest challenges facing Iraq when the next government takes office after May elections. Reconciliation is crucial to ensuring the return of some 2.2m people displaced by the conflict, including thousands with family ties to the militants. Yet in Yathrib, as elsewhere, locals often try to block the return of families related to militants. Aid groups and western powers all acknowledge the importance of suturing Iraq’s divisions, but few are willing to co-ordinate with Baghdad on the problem. They worry that some of the government’s methods — like walling suspected Isis relatives in displacement camps, while forcing other families to return home before they feel safe — violate international law, and are a recipe for another round of radicalisation. That leaves much of the work to civil society groups, tribes and politicians with competing interests. “This is urgent,” one diplomat says. “And watching the groups trying to help can feel like watching people rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic.”