Three candidates were assassinated Thursday, two days before provincial elections. One was killed in Mosul, one in Diyala and one in Baghdad. All three were Sunnis, but came from different parties, or “lists” – The Iraqi Islamic Party, The Reform and Development Party, and The National Unity List.
From Baghdad, Alissa J. Rubin covers the basics in the New York Times, but Zaid Sabah and Qais Mizher from the Washington Post writes a more thorough piece, with some analysis and context. The Post tallies the number of candidates slain so far as six, while the Times reports five.
The news broke yesterday in the Washington Post that the US State Dept. had been informed that the Iraqi Government will not renew Blackwater Worldwide’s license to work in Iraq. Incidents involving the company which resulted in the death of Iraqis caused much furor in Iraq, and Blackwater employees involved in one infamous incident from 2007 will go on trial in America early next year.
The State Dept.’s largest security contracting company (968 out of their total 1,290 contractors, according to a recent report) has worked in Iraq without an operating license for years, but after recently applying for one, the Iraqi government formally rejected it, and said they had to leave.
Two articles appear, both co-authored in Baghdad and stateside. They have pretty much the same information, but of the two, the New York Times’ James Risen and Timothy Williams have a fuller, better-formed story.
Security industry officials said the Iraqi government had made it clear that it would allow former Blackwater employees to work for either Dyncorp or Triple Canopy, as long as they were not personally involved in any controversies while at Blackwater.August Cole and Gina Chon write...
Both Dyncorp, based in Falls Church, Va., and Triple Canopy, based in Herndon, Va., have submitted new contract proposals, according to several people familiar with the matter.
Iraq Ministry of Interior spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf said on Thursday that Blackwater won't be issued a license because it "acted inappropriately" and it wouldn't be good if such a company were allowed to continue to operate in Iraq. He said the ministry was still working on the precise date when Blackwater would have to end operations in the country.More On Elections, From Baghdad
Anthony Shadid of the Washington Post writes gives us the lowdown on the the election, and how things are playing out so far. If you have a good understanding of what’s going on, there is nothing really that you’ve never heard, but Shadid’s strong writing effectively weaves the elements together.
In a country long bedeviled by questions of legitimacy -- over the American presence, the constitution, a de facto sectarian and ethnic system, and the excesses of security forces of dubious loyalty -- elections have now won an enthusiastic if grudging fealty, emerging as a true arena for contest in which nearly every sect, ethnicity and tribe in the country has staked its future.He hits all the normal issues – disaffection with religious parties, Maliki’s power, the Kurdish land/power disputes in the north, the imminent rise in representation of Sunni parties, etc. and brings it all down to street level with quotes from men in a cafe who are old enough to have seen Iraq go through several transitions.
...In this election, every incumbent party faces spirited opposition. In all, more than 14,400 candidates on 400 lists will vie for 440 seats on the provincial councils. The results will undoubtedly lead to a country that is more representative but also more fractious, and in that, maybe more turbulent.
It’s no wonder that two major papers ran features about the power struggle in Mosul today. On the eve of provincial elections, there’s no province participating that’s a bigger wild card (another term could simply be “mess”) than Nineveh. The two articles highlight the same thing – that since Mosul’s Sunni Arab majority isn’t boycotting this time, they’re set to gain significant power.
The Kurds have pushed hard for control within much of Mosul in the past, but now seem to be concentrating on the expansion the “green line” which marks the KRG’s semi-autonomous territory into areas which surround Mosul. Minorities who live in villages in this area such as Christians, Yezidis, and Shabaks are often caught in the middle.
Jane Arraf of the Christian Science Monitor outlines the situation.
Here in volatile Nineveh Province, which borders the Kurdish region, the election could end up physically redrawing its boundaries. As the Shiite-Sunni rift that flared into sectarian war in 2006 has waned, concern by US officials is growing over Kurdish-Arab tensions, with recent flare-ups between Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and Mr. Maliki.The New York Times’ Ian Fisher continues...
Following the Sunni Arab boycott of the 2005 vote, 31 of Nineveh's 41 seats have been held by Kurds, even though Kurds are a minority in the largely Arab province. Some Kurds on the provincial council, who will almost certainly lose their seats, made a move in December to have the elections stopped.
“Of course the Arabs have the majority here,” said Kisro Goran, 48, the deputy governor, who despite his second-rank title is the most powerful politician in Mosul and is overseeing the campaign for the largely Kurdish grouping Brotherly Nineveh. “We will not collect more than what we are. We are only one-third so we won’t get more than that.”At times, fisher’s writing style is richer, and though both articles cover similar ground and even have some of the same characters, (you’ll certainly get to know a Sunni politician named Atheel Abdul Aziz al-Najaefi, the head of a group pledged to stop Kurdish annexation of further lands) both are worth reading.
But he is equally frank that their real goal is winning rural areas outside the city — places where Kurds say they have a majority and that, they argue, should ultimately belong to the nearby autonomous enclave of Kurdistan. The Kurds have long been frustrated by the failure of international promises for a census and referendum to settle Kurdish claims, particularly in Kirkuk.
USA Today, no Iraq coverage.
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