Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Western World Needs to Listen More Often and More Carefully to Iraqi Feminist Yanar Mohammed

photograph of Yanar Mohammed speaking to one of millions of people who need to hear what she has to say

What follows is an assessment of current political tensions and parties attempting to rule a country the U.S. has been trying to rule through military force. To whom do we turn for guidance. At the end of the article Federico speaks with one of the women who has the most knowledge about what her country needs, in order to become more democratic and humane; she also ought to be consulted on international matters with regard to human rights for women. Getting the U.S. military out would be a good first step, imo. Getting the U.S. out of the whole of Central Asia would also be useful to all those who live in the region and are working for justice and national self-determination. What follows may be linked back to by clicking on the title. It is from the Huffington Post.

Making Sense of Iraq's Political Deadlock

Federico Manfredi
Posted: August 11, 2010 09:59 AM

Baghdad -- A popular refrain throughout the Middle East is that "the Arabs agree to disagree." And in fact this is what appears to be happening in the top political circles of Iraq today, where the only issue on which the various leaders seem to agree is that their differences cannot be reconciled.

More than five months after the March 7 general election, Iraq still does not have a new government. Ayad Allawi, whose secular list Iraqiya won the most seats, 91 out of a total of 325, maintains that under the constitution he has the right to form a new government. But the wording of the constitution is vague and open to interpretation, and Iraq's Supreme Court has ruled that the right to form a government belongs to the largest coalition--regardless of whether that coalition was formed before or after the elections.

That ruling favored Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, who is vying to retain his position at the helm of the Iraqi government. After his State and Law list came in second, with 89 seats, Maliki, sought to outflank Allawi by establishing an alliance with the other Shi'a bloc, the National Alliance, which is dominated by the followers of the populist cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr and those of Hammar Al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, an influential political party with ties to Iran.

Together, Maliki's list and the National Alliance would have had 159 seats, just four short of the majority required to form a new government. But after months of talks this "all Shi'a coalition" fell apart, due to disagreements over who would obtain the coveted post of prime minister.

The National Alliance requested that the new prime minister be either Ibrahim Al-Jafaari, the preferred choice of the Sadrists, or Adel Abdul Mahdi, one of the two vice-presidents of Iraq. In any case, the Sadrists were seemingly prepared to accept anyone but Maliki, whom they loathe for having launched a series of successful military offensives against the Mahdi Army in the southern city of Basra and in the Sadr City suburb of Baghdad.

Maliki, however, is firm in his determination to serve another term as prime minister, and this eventually led the National Alliance to withdraw from talks with his list.

"Maliki does not want to give up power. He is acting like a dictator," said Jalal Al-Din Ali Al-Saghir," a prominent Shi'a cleric and a member of parliament for the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. "We will not join any government in which Maliki is the prime minister. Our doors are tightly closed to him," he said.

Now the National Alliance may decide to form a coalition with Allawi, even though he heads a secular list. Wahil Abdul Latif, a judge and a member of parliament within the National Alliance bloc, told me that he personally supports Allawi because of his ability to reach out to the Sunni minority. He also said that the National Alliance would be willing to join forces with Allawi and support his bid to become the new prime minister, if only he accepted to remove certain "tainted" Sunni leaders from his list. Among these, he named Vice-President Tariq Al-Hashimi, the leader of one of the main Sunni political parties, and Saleh Al-Mutlak, another Sunni, whom he accused of conspiring with Ba'athist reactionaries to overthrow the Iraqi government.

Allawi, however, is unlikely to exclude these individuals from his list, since they represent pillars of his cross-sectarian outreach strategy.

When I asked Abdul Latif how long it might take the various leaders to reach an agreement on the formation of a new government he laughed and said: "This could take another two months. Perhaps more." Such a delay, though, could severely strain Iraq's fragile institutions, since it would not only protract the current state of governmental paralysis but might also lead the army and police to question the constitutional authority of their leadership.

"They continue talking but they cannot agree," said Mahmoud Othman, an independent member of parliament within the Kurdish bloc. Intrigued by the use of the pronoun "they" I asked him to elaborate. "The Kurds are not part of this conflict. We have no preference as to who gets to form the new government," he said. Indeed, the conventional wisdom in Iraq is that the Kurdish leaders are ready to make a deal with whichever coalition is willing to grant the most autonomy to their region. Othman agreed with this assessment. "Yes, of course, we will shift to the side that offers us the most," he said.

The prospects for a speedy resolution of Iraq's political deadlock do not look bright, particularly if we keep in mind the track record of similar political stalemates in the region. In Lebanon, for instance, the negotiations leading to the appointment of the current president, Michel Suleiman, took more than six months.

As Iraqis brace for the holy month of Ramadan with little or no electricity in the sweltering summer heat, their only consolation is that at least for the time being these power struggles have not led to violent clashes between rival party militias. When I asked Yanar Mohammed, the President of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq, what she thought about the current stalemate, she said: "At least they are fighting in parliament and not in the streets. Hopefully the sectarian war of 2006 and 2007 has transformed itself into a political dispute among competing parties."

Promoting the Books of Dr. Vandana Shiva, on Sustainable Peace through Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice

photograph of Dr. Vandana Shiva is from here

I am increasingly convinced that any G8 plans and policies, before moving forward in any regard, ought to be accepted or rejected by Dr. Vandana Shiva. Any practices, principles, and paradigms that promote globalisation as the West defines it "positively" must meet with Dr. Shiva's approval or disapproval.

We are lucky to live in a time with this brilliant author, lecturer, philosopher, physicist, environmentalist, and feminist with a cogent knowledge of how the Global North impacts the Global South, how the so-called First World negatively and destructively impacts the Second, Third, and Fourth Worlds. I hope that all those with Western, white, male, and Global Northern and/or "First" World privileges, entitlements, and power defer their sense of right and wrong, helpful and harmful, sustainable and unsustainable, to Dr. Shiva. I pray they realise that their political positions, globally mean that they are not well-positioned to know much about the consequences of actions which are in service to the most wealthy at the expense of the most poor, in service to the most privileged by gender and race at the expense of those without either.

In the name of She, the G-d whose name cannot be said, I pray.

All that follows is from *here* at

Book Shiva: Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development

Book, August, 10 2010

In this pioneering work, Vandana Shiva looks at the history of development and progress, stripping away the neutral language of science to reveal third-world development policy as the global twin of the industrial revolution.

Book Shiva: Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace

Book, August, 10 2010

Starting in the 16th century with the initial enclosure of the British commons, Shiva reveals how the commons continue to shrink as more and more natural resources are patented and privatized.

Book Shiva: Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply

Book, August, 10 2010

Vandana Shiva continues her path-breaking work on uncovering the devastating human and environmental impacts of corporate-engineered international trade agreements.

Book Shiva: Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis

Book, August, 10 2010

With Soil Not Oil, Vandana Shiva connects the dots between industrial agriculture and climate change. Shiva shows that a world beyond dependence on fossil fuels and globalization is both possible and necessary.

Book Shiva: Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution, and Profit

Book, August, 10 2010

A world-renowned environmental leader presents an expose of the privatization of water that threatens the livelihood of the people in the South.