Lebanon’s Shia group Hezbollah on Thursday said that the latest bombings which rocked Iraq sought “to thwart the mission for building the [Iraqi] state.”
“The hand of terrorism once again [targeted] the peaceful Iraqi streets leaving dead and wounded people,” Hezbollah said in a statement.
The group added that the US “wants to sow death and devastation in Iraq in order to avenge the bitter defeat that befell it before the Iraqi people and the humiliating withdrawal of its troops from Iraq.”
A wave of apparently coordinated bombing and shooting attacks in seven different provinces across Iraq killed at least 37 people and wounded more than 160 on Thursday.
Hezbollah also condemned in another statement the “behavior of US troops–who have insulted bodies of Afghan victims.”
Hezbollah said that “the new pictures showing US soldiers posing with dead bodies of Afghan citizens which were published by an American newspaper, reveal how the US administration and its military tools disregard a human being’s dignity whether he is alive or dead.”
Pictures published by the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday showed US soldiers posing with the remains of Taliban insurgents, one of them with a man’s hand draped over his shoulder.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today said that Malaysia is prepared to sent a special peacekeeping team on a humanitarian mission to Iraq if the costs of operation were to be sponsored by other countries.
He said the team, however, would differ from the conventional peacekeeping team under the United Nations’ (UN) resolution as it would be involved in offering basic assistance needed by the people in Iraq including educational and medical aid.
"There’s a request for Malaysia to sent a team to Iraq and one particular country had also agreed to bear the costs of operation, but since the country has yet to keep its promise, we cannot send the team to Iraq," he said when met here on Thursday.
Around a million loyalists of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr rallied in south Iraq Monday decrying poor services and rampant graft on the ninth anniversary of the US-led invasion against Saddam Hussein.
Protesters flooded the centre of the southern port city of Basra for the rally, with demonstrators waving Iraqi flags and portraits of the anti-US Shiite cleric and his father, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr, killed in 1999 by assailants thought to have been sent by Saddam.
The demonstration came just days before Iraq is due to host an Arab League summit, the first meeting of the 22-nation body since Saddam’s 1990 invasion of neighbouring Kuwait.
Reading remarks composed by Sadr, currently in Iran, Sadrist religious leader Sheikh Assad al-Nassari told the crowd: "We cannot rest when there is injustice against us."
"Demand your rights, I will support you, and with our unity we will be strong. You must fight for a stable nation."
Two officers in the police and army in Basra put the number of protesters at one million, while Sadrist officials claimed 1.5 million attended. An AFP journalist put the number of protesters at several hundred thousand.
Demonstrators, many of whom came from different provinces to take part in what was dubbed the "Day to Support Oppressed Iraqis", shouted: "Yes to rights! Yes to humanity! No to injustice! No to poverty! No to corruption!"
As the uprising against the rule of Bashar al-Assad in Syria rages on, thousands of Iraqis who fled their own country are now starting to return home.
During the worst of the violence caused by the US-led war in Iraq, almost a million Iraqis crossed over to Syria, some of them registering with the UN refugee agency in the hope of being resettled.
Al Jazeera’s Jane Arraf reports from Baghdad on how many are now giving up that dream.
Years of dictatorship, international sanctions, and armed conflict have affected Iraq’s social fabric and contributed to a deterioration in the lives of Iraqi women. As a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Elimination
of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Government of Iraq (GoI) is committed to improving gender equality and women’s rights. Moreover, the United Nation’s Security Council Resolution 1325 as well as Millennium Development Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women both underline the importance of progress in the status of women in attaining human rights and development objectives. As such the protection and empowerment of women was identified as a priority in the GoI’s National Development Plan (2010-2014), as well as in the Development Assistance Framework (2011-2014) developed by the UN in close cooperation with the GoI.
There are parallels and similarities between what is happening in Syria and what took place in Iraq prior and during its occupation by the U.S.
There is a lot in common between the countries particularly in terms of the course the military operations have taken in Baba Amr district of Homs, a Syrian symbol, and what happened to the city of Falluja, an Iraqi symbol, in 2005.
The U.S. destroyed Falluja with the blessing of the political crew which is still ruling in Iraq. The destruction of a city was proudly described as one of the achievements of democracy in Iraq after its liberation.
But the similarities are not confined to Falluja and Homs. They are related to the international sanctions which had ruined the Iraqi society and economy.
A year after Iraqis began protesting about poor public services and lack of employment opportunities, activists complain that none of their demands have been met.
At a rally to mark the first anniversary of weekly protests on Baghdad’s Tahrir Square last week, only a few dozen people turned out, and they were heavily outnumbered by armed members of the Iraqi security forces.
Inspired by uprisings elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa, thousands of Iraqis turned out on Baghdad’s Tahrir Square on February 25, 2011, calling for more jobs and better services.
The demonstrators – most of them young activists and social media users – hoped they could spur the authorities into responding to their demands.
Initially, there were signs it might be working. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki gave his cabinet 100 days to improve the delivery of services and also promised more work opportunities for young Iraqis.
A year on, however, few improvements are in evidence.
A human rights film festival held in Baghdad is aiming to educate and mobilise citizens at a time when Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s government has been accused of sliding toward authoritarianism.
"Civil (society) has been destroyed in Iraq for many decades and people have no idea about their rights," Kasim Abid, the director of the Baghdad Eye film festival, said.
"Baghdad Eye is the first ever attempt … in Iraq using the art of cinema to raise awareness to help people understand the concept of human rights which has been published in the (UN) Universal Declaration (of Human Rights) and to spread these themes of the declaration," Abid said.
One thing the troubled city of Mosul doesn’t have to worry about is water: the River Tigris flows through it. However, as pollution levels go up, fish die and waste is dumped there, that may soon change.
One of the problems that the oft-troubled northern city of Mosul does not have is a water supply. The Tigris River passes through the city, the capital of the state of Ninawa, dividing it into two coasts. And as it passes through, the river’s waters are used by a wide variety of businesses and private households on its banks.
The local sewage department estimates that there are 172 sources of sewage pouring about half a million cubic meters of waste water into the river daily, including waste water from private households and factories, some of which are state-owned.
On the banks of the Tigris, there are a number of construction sites, industrial areas and one large medical complex. Various types of liquids and solids find their way into the river, some of them dangerous, many of them untreated and polluting. In the past, reports have suggested that medical waste was being thrown directly into the river – even though the local health department denies this.
Fluctuating water levels in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, Iraq’s primary sources of surface water, will continue to mar agricultural development unless more equitable water access rights are agreed with neighbouring countries and modern irrigation techniques are more widely adopted to reduce wastage, says a government official.
“Iraq must take a legal step with the [help of the] UN and international organizations and community to determine its water rights with these countries… We must start using modern irrigation technology as we are still using the old, traditional ways which waste huge amounts of water,” said Abdul-Razzaq Jassim Hassoun, head of the Planning Ministry’s Agricultural Statistics Department.
The Ministry of Agriculture was promoting modern irrigation systems, particularly drip and sprinkle irrigation systems. Sprinkler irrigation would need 4-6 years to complete, but could save 3.6 billion cubic metres of water a year, said Deputy Agriculture Minister Riadh Al-Qaisi.
Since 2003, Iraq has tried to reach agreement with Turkey, Syria and Iran over water allocations but nothing has been agreed. The three countries argue that their increasing need for water due to drought makes it impossible to reach an agreement, and they urge Iraq to adopt modern irrigation techniques, instead.
In December, the Iraqi Cabinet authorized the minister of foreign affairs to lead negotiations with Turkey and Syria on a water-sharing agreement, but so far no meetings have been held, according to Water Resources Ministry spokesman Ali Hashim; he mentioned that on 20 February Iraq signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understating with Iran to activate already existing joint committees on water issues. “We hope this will lead to agreements in the future,” he said. The minister was also planning a visit to Turkey “very soon”.
“What is clear now is that water resources in Iraq mainly from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers are continually decreasing due to huge dams being constructed in Turkey and Syria,” said the Planning Ministry’s Hassoun.