The Zeitgeist Politics

Global Politics with a focus on The Middle East

Posts Tagged ‘Iraq

Baghdad, Karachi and Beirut: Attacks in Muharram

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As Shia Muslims prepare for 9th and 10th Muharram – the commemoration of the death of Imam Hussein – a litany of attacks has begun.

Baghdad:

Two worshippers were killed and eight others wounded when a bomb struck a procession in the eastern neighbourhood of Baghdad Jadida (New Baghdad) in the afternoon, a police officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

In a separate attack in the east Baghdad neighbourhood of Fedhailia, three people were killed and five wounded by a bomb, according to an interior ministry official who did not want to be named.

Also on Saturday army Lieutenant Colonel Ibrahim Khalil was shot dead by unidentified gunmen along a main road in east Baghdad, the official added.

And in the predominantly Sunni town of Abu Ghraib, just west of the capital, tribal leader Mahmoud Jassim al-Obeidi was killed by a bomb exploded outside his home early Saturday, a local official said.

– AFP

Karachi:

A roadside bomb injured 19 people in Karachi as a procession made its way in the Paposh Nagar area in Karachi. The attack comes a day before the country also marks the second death anniversary of the former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in Rawalpindi after a rally.

Beirut:

A bomb exploded in a car in the southern suburbs of Beirut on Saturday, security sources told Reuters.

Written by Saba Imtiaz

December 27, 2009 at 5:29 am

The EU Resolution on East Jerusalem

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The Wailing Wall and Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem | Image Credit: PoliticalTheatrics.net

The EU has taken a stand, of sorts, on Jerusalem, stating that it needs to be shared between Israel and Palestine and that it must be the joint-capital of both states:

“If there is to be a genuine peace, a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states,” EU foreign ministers agreed in a statement released on Tuesday, diplomats said.

Antony Loewenstein sorta kinda assumed they were referring to East Jerusalem, but The Majlis points out that it was not mentioned and that this means something:

That was Israel’s main concern: There was a lot of fear that the EU would demand the 1967 borders be locked in place. If those borders were fixed, then major Jewish settlements like Gilo would become part of a future Palestinian state — an unacceptable outcome for the Israeli government. The original policy document, drafted by Sweden, made just that demand, but it was watered down in last-minute discussions this morning.

To be fair, the wording of the original statement was pretty rigid:

“The EU will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem,” said the [original]  EU ministerial draft. [Haaretz]

I don’t think it necessarily warrants some of the Israeli rhetoric though, like comparing Sweden’s approach to Israeli-Palestinian peace to IKEA furniture, as one official said:

“The peace process in the Middle East is not like IKEA furniture,” one official said, making a reference to the do-it-yourself Swedish furniture chain. “It takes more than a screw and a hammer, it takes a true understanding of the constraints and sensitivities of both sides, and in that Sweden failed miserably.” [FP]

FP makes a good point on this:

Please. The original draft praises both Israel’s settlement freeze and U.S. mediation efforts. You can debate whether or not it’s productive for Sweden to be issuing proclamations on where the Palestinian border should be drawn, but in the end, these declarations have only about as much weight as the parties involved choose to give them. Which, judging from the righteous outrage out of Avigdor Lieberman’s shop, seems to be quite a lot. This sort of thing might play well to Lieberman’s political base, but internationally it just gives the EU’s East Jerusalem critique way more publicity than it would have had before.

The Swedes hold the EU rotating presidency at the moment, and the EU is an entity that people listen to, it’s not one of the unfortunately irrelevant minor countries of the UN General Assembly. If Israel chooses to respond to Swedish declarations in this manner, it just gives them more prominence and ensures that more people listen. While the EU obviously doesn’t have the same sort of international clout as the US, it’s definitely not irrelevant and the Israelis are only making it more relevant, particularly in the international press.

Interestingly, Haaretz also calls the claims over Jerusalem “the most intractable issue” in the conflict which to me seems a bit of an exaggeration. I’m pretty sure right of return, overall borders and demilitarisation of the Palestinian state are also pretty important issues. Oh and, Gaza/Hamas. I don’t think Israel’s going to let up on that one without a fight.

The Israelis have reacted in typical fashion to the resolution, ignoring the content of it itself and accusing it of not being productive for the ‘peace process’ (I’m starting to forget what that is meant to refer to) and calling “the Palestinian refusal to return to the negotiating table” the main factor halting peace negotiations at the moment. The settlement freeze notwithstanding, I’m pretty sure there are bigger factors than this one. Like maybe, Abu Mazen’s growing irrelevance? The US State Department has toed the line and, in not so many words, told the EU to stay out of it.

Meanwhile, Israel is attempting to further isolate Gaza by imposing an unofficial block on officials entering the territory. It’s run by terrorists y’all! Why would you want to go there? Go to Egypt instead, it’s nicer!

In other news:

– Check out the interview/eyewitness account of Cast Lead over at PoliticalTheatrics

– Iraq elections have been shifted to March 7th

– Lady Gaga met the Queen of England. ZOMG!

Iraqi Election issues ironed out

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Iraqi Elections in 2010 haven’t gotten much coverage on this blog but they have been covered fairly extensively elsewhere. The problems have been mostly sectarian in nature and dealing with perceived fairness in election law in preparation for a crucial poll that needs to be held next year, as per the constitution. While it doesn’t look like the poll will now go ahead in the month of January as it was supposed, February and March are being mooted as more likely months for it to happen.

The important thing is that it actually is happening, and I’m sure Obama is breathing a sigh of relief somewhere in the Oval Office at this one. Iraqi stability is important considering combat operations there are due to end next year and a successful run for the poll is a key precursor to the withdrawal of US troops.

The deadlock has been over representation for Sunnis, and also partly over the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk (disputed by Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Turkmen). Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi threatened to veto the proposed changes to the electoral law but reportedly agreed at the last minute and the vote was passed unanimously. The law will reportedly expand parliament from 275 seats to 325 seats, 310 of which will be allotted to Iraq’s 18 provinces, with the remainder reserved for religious minorities and blocs that garnered national support but did not win seats. [Al Jazeera]

Pretty much everyone is predicting a rise in attacks from insurgents in the lead-up to the election and the tabled US withdrawal, the world will be watching Iraq next year with greatly renewed interest to see if the US occupation and ‘nation-building’ can in any way be vindicated. You can expect to see more Iraq-related coverage and opinion on this here blog also.

Written by alexlobov

December 7, 2009 at 4:45 pm