[begin Depressed mode]
In the midst of the Arab Spring, on days finding Baghdad sweltering at over 100 degreesF, the Iraqis are feeling the icy cold of winter.
This is the chill of Democracy on hold; the freezing of any motion toward progress; the death, in many, of hope.
From our correspondents comes no news of progress, and a few of the activists with whom we have regular contact are leaving. Leaving! After years of working for peace and reconciliation; after diligent attendence at Western-sponsored workshops and seminars of peace building, reconciliation, and local activism they find their education worthless in the face of increasing violence, intimidation, assassinations, and persistent corruption.
Hey, it's not that way for all Iraqi peace workers . There are still those who struggle on against what sometimes seems like impossible barriers. And there are "the people." Those doctors, shopkeepers, attorneys, and students who continue to live their lives with either hope or blind faith that things will turn out better. Some of them have no choice since they can't afford to leave, or cannot get visas to anywhere they deem safer than home.
And the future? Who the hell knows. It certainly doesn't look very bright at the moment as the government moves further from the people and closer to the profit makers...
And the future? Who the hell knows. Do we sound pessimistic today? Well, that is because we just heard from someone we always held to be a paragon of Iraqi stubbornness and hope. He lives in the South, in an area was relatively quiet for many years, but now faces an usnettling level of violence directed at police, officials of government, and religious leaders. Only a year ago he refused our offer of help in getting him out. We thought his peace activities put him in danger. Now he asks, "What can you do to help me leave?" He has come, perhaps temporarily, to the end of hope.
Although he has worked with the U.S. as an interpreter, and worked with 121Contact as a reporter and a recruiter for students to join the 121Contact writing bridge between Iraqi and American students, he cannot find any help in leaving. He has no official papers from the military documenting his work with them, and his reporting does not qualify for consideration by the State Department for a special case visa.
And he is not the only one.
July 17, 2011 by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact
Reported Security Incidents
Roaside bomb in Amariyah, near the airport, kills one police officer and a bystander, injures three people.
Sherquat village, Salahudin Province
Brigadier General Ahmed Bdeiwi, head of the provincial major crimes department, survives and attack on his convoy with injuries. Three of his bodyguards are also injured.
Roadside bomb injures two people.
Banjaween district, Sulaimaniyah
Several fighters of the Iranian-Kurdish irredentist group PJAK (Party of Free Life of Kurdistan) are injured, amid conflicting reports of whether the casualties result only from Iranian shelling, or whether there have been direct confrontations between Iranian and PJAK forces. A PJAK spokesman claims Iranian soldiers have been killed and injured.
A pediatrician is released from 3-weeks captivity after payment of a $500,000 ransom. "A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there have been at least 45 kidnappings in Kirkuk since the start of the year, with the majority of the victims belonging to wealthy families. Since June 15, the official said, a total of $1.1 million has been paid in ransoms to secure the release of hostages." Note: Most of these go unreported in English-language sources. If we had the information, we would certainly provide it. -- C
[end Depressed mode]