Saturday, December 23, 2017

By Your Side (Sade)

I love Sade's music.  One of my favorite songs would have to be "By Your Side."

The song's been covered often but the onlly cover version I care for is Ben Taylor's.

That's my favorite Sade song.  See how your favorite ranks on VULTURE's list:

  1. We ranked all 73 Sade songs. None of them is bad

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Friday, December 22, 2017.  Hayder al-Abadi continues to offer no leadership in Iraq, the League of Righteous threatens the US, journalists remain under attack in Iraq, and much more.

As noted last week, Sarah Idan, facing death threats, has fled Iraq.  She competed in this year's Miss Universe representing Iraq.  Prior to the competition, she and Adar Gandelsman, Miss Israel, took a selfie.

Remember how Miss Iraq and Miss Israel posed together to model coexistence at the Miss Universe pageant? Well, Miss Iraq's family was just forced to flee Iraq due to death threats. She has nonetheless refused to take down the photo.

 In the midst of the backlash and death threats, Sarah Tweeted the following:

I’m not the first nor the last person to face prosecution over a matter of personal freedom. Millions of Iraqi women live in fear.

She spoke with CNN yesterday.

Here’s TV interview I did this morning with

Eric Levenson and Yasmin Khorram (CNN) report:

She said she was "a little bit disappointed" in the Iraqi government because they have not said anything official about the incident and no one has reached out to her. "For me the whole thing is strange," she told CNN. "I was expecting like at least a statement from the government saying, OK we approve, or we don't approve, but I haven't heard anything yet."

Hayder al-Abadi is the prime minister of Iraq.

He could have stepped forward.  He could have offered leadership.

But he's not a leader and he's a thug himself.

The whole thing brings to mind 2015, when REUTERS' journalist Ned Parker was reporting accurately and the response was attacks from the various mobs in Iraq -- mobs Hayder has now made part of the armed forces.

Over the airwaves of Iraqi TV, Ned's life was threatened.

And Hayder had not a word to say in Parker's defense.

Even worse, he made a single statement on the topic when it was taking place, a statement that further incited anger at Ned Parker leading Ned to leave Iraq for his own safety.

Other than that, Hayder was silent until April 16, 2015 when he was visiting DC.  From that day's snapshot:

While ignoring hard hitting questions from Twitter, they couldn't ignore the journalists present and, after Iran, the most asked of topic was Ned Parker.

Barbara Slavin: And also, one of our colleagues, Ned Parker, recently has left because of threats against Reuters for reporting what happened in Tikrit.  Will you issue a statement in Arabic protecting journalists for reporting what goes on in Iraq.  Thank you.

Haider al-Abadi: As with Mr. Parker, Ned Parker, I've known him for many years.  I heard this story while he was still in Baghdad.  My natural fact, a spokesman for my office has given me a message and he told me Ned Parker feels threatened and asked what sort of threats he had received? We want more information so that I can take action about these people who have threatened him.  I haven't received anything on that, to be honest with you. I asked for protection of his office -- to increase protection of his office -- and we did.  But all of the sudden, I'd heard he left. I know he sent a message he wants to meet me in Washington but unfortunately my program is, uh -- I didn't even have time to talk to my wife yesterday. [Begins chuckling.]  So I don't think I would talk to Ned instead of my wife.

And a statement in Arabic?

I-I think my office issued a statement. In English?  Okay, we translate.

What followed was an embarrassing and shameful round of laughter.

This isn't a laughing matter.

When the guffaws finally died down, the next question returned to the topic but with less 'jolly' and 'funnin'.'

Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory: [. . .] But piggy backing on the last question about Ned Parker, I was just wondering if you could briefly comment as to your take on the current state of press freedom within Iraq?  And also, in terms of going and taking action in response to Parker's being chased out of the country, what steps are you planning -- or are there any steps planned to institute protections for international press covering your country?  During your address, you said, and I quote, "A free society needs a free press."  And so I was just wondering if that would extend to foreign press as well?

Haider al-Abadi: Well I think if you look at the Iraqi press first, I think they're free to criticize.  I think that number one   institution which is being criticized in Iraq is the government.  We don't even reply to them.  We don't do anything. I drop charges against all-all media.  But I ask the media to have their own self-discipline.  That's important.  The media shouldn't be free to accuse others falsely.  They should respect freedom of others.  Freedom of speech is there but -- We need facts. But I refuse so far -- and I hope I continue on that -- you never know what office does.  Office usually corrupts people, right?  But I hope it doesn't corrupt me.  We keep on respecting the freedom of the press, we keep on protecting it.  As to the foreign press, as far as I know, there's no limitation on them, no restrictions.  They're free even to go to our --within our military unit.  I think we went to that extent to allow free reporting from the fronts.  I remember when the US army was there in 2003 [that's when Haider returned to Iraq after decades of exile in England], they had embedded journalists and they were restricted to what they were reporting.  I very much respect that.  I hope I can have that power to do that but unfortunately I cannot do it now.  It's so free, the situation in Iraq.  Now I'm not sure if Mr. Parker, why he has left.  To be honest with you, I didn't have the story from him.  He wrote something to me.  I cannot see why he left.  Was he really threatened?  Or he felt he was threatened?  I know some -- some Facebook thing and social media has mentioned him in a bad way but the-the thing I've seen -- in actual fact, they were condemning the government in the first place, not him.  They were condemning me as the prime minister to do something about it -- rather than him.  I know some of these, they want to use these things to just criticize the government in the same way when they accuse the coalition of dropping help to [the Islamic State] or accuse the coalition of killing Iraqis falsely.  In actual fact, what they're trying to do -- trying to criticize the government for its policies. They don't want the government to seek the help of the coalition -- international coalition or to work with the US.  But to -- I think me, as prime minister, the safety of the Iraqi people, the interests of the Iraqi people is number one [. . .]

He continued to babble on and avoid the question.

Ned Parker appeared on today's Morning Edition (NPR -- link is audio, text and transcript) and here he's discussing, with host Steve Inskeep,  the Reuters report and what followed.

NED PARKER: Well, our team on the day that Tikrit was liberated, they called me during the day and said we've witnessed an execution by federal police of a detainee in the street, and it was a mob mentality. And they could only stay a few minutes because it was such a crazed scene. I think our people feared for their own safety.
So when they came home that evening, we had a huge debate about, do we report this? Is this too sensationalist? It's one incident. But when we looked at the whole picture, we also saw a body being dragged by a group of Shiite paramilitaries. We had photos of this, which we published, and there had been looting and arson of areas that surround Tikrit. So we felt that we had to report what happened there, that if we didn't, we wouldn't be meeting our obligation to report fairly and impartially about the critical issue right now, what happens when security forces enter an area that has been under Islamic State control, that is Sunni and then has predominantly Shia security and paramilitary forces enter?

INSKEEP: This is the most basic job of a war correspondent; go look at a war and report exactly what you see.

PARKER: Right. And this was a test case for the government. The Iraqi government and the U.S. government have spoken about the importance of post-conflict stabilization operations in Iraq.

INSKEEP: What happened after you published this story?

PARKER: It was picked up everywhere. I think it was seen because of what our correspondents witnessed - this execution, which was horrific - where they watched two federal policemen basically trying to saw off the head of a suspected Islamic State fighter to cheers from federal police. Our story became really the example of what went wrong in Tikrit, and it was published on April 3. The night of April 5, on Facebook on a site associated with Shiite paramilitary groups and political forces, a picture of myself went up calling for Iraqis to expel me. It quickly received over 100 shares and comments, including better to kill him than expel him.

INSKEEP: Did it blow over?

PARKER: No, it only got worse. I did go out and try to have meetings with some people, different prominent Iraqis, about it. And then on Wednesday night on the channel of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, which is a prominent Shiite political party and paramilitary group, my face is the backdrop as the anchor talks, and he actually waves also a printout of my face and talks about how I should be expelled from the country and then proceeds to read a letter from an Iraqi living in the United States who also again calls for me to expel and describes Reuters as trampling upon the dignity of Iraq and Shiite paramilitary groups. And after that, there's no way I could've stayed in the country both for myself and for my staff. My presence was polarizing the situation, so I left the next day.

[. . .]

PARKER: Prime Minister Abadi last Thursday, the day after the broadcast against Reuters and myself, he gave a speech in public where he spoke in very broad strokes against a journalist who had been in Tikrit and had reported on the execution and the lootings and arson and implied perhaps some of the journalists who had been there had even been there deliberately to smear the government and the Shiite paramilitary forces on...

INSKEEP: This is the same prime minister who was installed with the support of the United States recently and who's visiting Washington?

PARKER: Right, and on the eve of his visit, a statement was issued by the prime minister's office in English talking about the need to protect and respect journalism in Iraq, including Reuters, and the statement referred to the incident involving myself and Reuters. But that statement was only put out in English and until now, it has not come out in Arabic.

INSKEEP: So he's sympathetic to you in English and something else in Arabic entirely.

PARKER: We're still waiting for the statement to come out in Arabic. It hasn't yet.

Hayder's a lackey, he's no leader.  And things really have not improved for the press since 2015.  He has threatened the television network RUDAW.  At the start of this year, RUDAW noted:

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says Kurdish media have encouraged the killing of Iraqi troops and therefore they’re committing war crimes. The reality is that the Kurdish media, chief among them Rudaw, have worked to uncover crimes committed by Iraqi forces and militia groups, most recently in the war against ISIS. You know a media outlet has done something right when you’ve to make up accusations and look for an excuse to shut it down.

Iraq’s media commission has also advised government institutions, especially the military, to prevent Rudaw teams from carrying out their work anywhere in the country and seize their staff and equipment. Iraqi authorities, Mr. Abadi among them, must remember that Rudaw reporters and cameramen risked their lives to cover their operations against ISIS in Mosul, Qayyarah, Baiji, Ramadi and Fallujah round the clock. One of the network’s most prominent anchors Shifa Gardi lost her life in Mosul when she was trying to tell the world the crimes of this extremist group against the Iraqi people.

Iraqi military and government officials, including Mr. Abadi himself, often appeared on Rudaw and conveyed their messages to the world. With its multilingual media platforms Rudaw has been a major source of news for the outside world. Rudaw television featured Iraqi soldiers in their drive for the liberation of their country. And when hundreds of thousands of civilians were displaced or massacred by ISIS Rudaw was always on the forefront to carry their voices to the world.

[. . .]

It is ludicrous that Mr. Abadi is now accusing the Kurdish media of inciting violence while his government threatens to shut down Rudaw. Not only is this a major affront to freedom of press, it is nothing but a step by yet another Iraqi leader to stifle freedom of press. Some of the recent victories in the battle have perhaps given Baghdad this air of confidence that it could remove the free media as the final barrier to absolute rule.

If he indeed is worried about incitement of violence Mr. Abadi should perhaps look into myriads of radio and television channels that spew out sectarian hatred day and night without any regulation or oversight. His government should try to close down those social media pages that encourage revenge killings in broad daylight. A reliable media outlet in Iraq is a rare thing. Most are owned and steered by militia groups, political parties, businessmen and clerics who have fanned the flames of Iraq’s sectarian war with deadly consequences.

And, as noted yesterday, The Committee to Protect Journalists issued their yearly analysis and Iraq was at the top of the list when it came to number of journalists killed in 2017.

What many observers didn't seem to grasp, or maybe didn't care, was that a common threat would not erase problems.  The Islamic State took hold in Iraq because of very real grievances -- these included, but were not limited to, the persecution of Sunnis and the refusal to treat the KRG as a partner in the government.

The common threat of ISIS put many things on hold.  For example, Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr put his protests against corruption on hold.  But Hayder's insisted the Islamic State is conquered in Iraq.  So the common threat is gone.

RUDAW reports:

A press freedom and protection organization says “threats against journalists will worsen” even though ISIS has largely been ousted from in Iraq and Syria.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) predicted released on Thursday after a mission to Erbil and Lebanon in March that a post-ISIS Middle East would come with the “emergence of militias, political pressure, censorship, and sectarianism that would pose a threat” to journalists in a new report.

"I don't think the end of [Islamic State's] presence in Syria will bring any opportunities for Syrian journalists, says Abdalaziz al-Hamza, co-founder of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS), a citizen journalist group that covered atrocities under ISIS rule. “Threats against journalists will worsen.”

Co-founder, Ragaz Kamal of 17Shubat for Human Rights, a local Iraqi rights organization told CPJ that journalists in Iraq face threats threefold from “armed groups that have gained political cover, like the PMF, political parties and authorities because of their job.”

“None of these groups tolerate criticism and they are rarely held accountable for their actions against journalists,| Kamal added. “ The end of [Islamic State] will not change much for journalists in either Iraq or Kurdistan."

Rahman Gharib, coordinator of an Iraqi freedom of press organization highlighted the dangers that such militias pose, mentioning the case of Arkan Sharifi, a Kurdish cameraman working with the Erbil-based Kurdistan TV who was stabbed to death by a number of unidentified gunmen in the town of Daquq south of Kirkuk.

Rudaw's 2016 coverage of the liberation of Mosul has been commended and syndicated by major US news networks including CNN, Fox News, and ENEX, a European TV network.

"Not only do militias threaten journalists, they also identify them on a sectarian basis as Sunni, Shia, Kurds, Arabs,” Gharab said. “Journalists are threatened, harassed, and sometimes killed. Arkan Sharifi for example, was killed by the PMUs," he added, referring to the Popular Mobilization Forces, the mostly Iran-backed militia including Hashd al-Shaabi that works alongside the Iraqi military.

Now let's move to the topic of militias:

It is clear that certain units of Iraq’s Shiite Muslim militias are still very active. The battle against the IS group has not yet ended in Syria. In Iraq, the country’s prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, declared victory over them in early December. As a result of the latter, a message came during the weekly prayers in Najaf last Friday: The highest clerical authority for Shiite Muslims in Iraq, Ali al-Sistani, said that now that the Islamic State group had been defeated, it was time to integrate the militias into the existing Iraqi security forces. Al-Sistani also warned against the militias participating in upcoming federal elections, in a statement read by his representative, Abdul-Mahdi al-Karbalai.

That's Mustafa Habib reporting for NIQASH yesterday.  Let's also note this from his report:

Last Saturday in the city of Karbala, during a ceremony celebrating victory over the IS group, Qais al-Khazali, who heads another Iran-loyalist group, the League of the Righteous, announced that they now had three new enemies: Israel, the US and Saudi Arabia. The latter, in particular, is trying to deceive the Iraqi government, al-Khazali said, with the instigation of better diplomatic relations.
In his speech al-Khazali didn’t forget to thank Iran and the military group, Hezbollah, for their support to Iraq either. This is a common sentiment among leaders of the Iran-loyal militias.

Just two days afterwards, al-Khazali appeared again, this time in a video in the south of Lebanon, near the border with Israel. Dressed in military clothing, al-Khazali said his fighters were ready to stand with the Lebanese and Palestinian people, after the US government’s decision to recognise the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. 

The League of the Righteous?

Dropping back to the June 9, 2009 snapshot with the realization that some who looked the other way in real time will now be outraged:

This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."

Somebody sure should have answered for it.

But, remember, Barack's 'scandal' free -- according to the press.

Not only did Barack betray the fallen, his 'big deal' (which did not serve US interests) only resulted in the release of one living British citizen.  The other four were dead and the corpses turned over.

Peter Moore, the only one released alive, was a computer tech working in Iraq. Four British bodyguards were protecting him. The bodyguards were McMenemy, Jason Swindlehurst, Alec MacLachlan and Jason Cresswell. The families of the four have continued to publicly request that Alan McMenemy be released.

Barack entered into an agreement that did not benefit the US or Iraq. He freed known killers from prison. Killers of Iraqis, killers of American citizens. There was nothing to be gained by that act for Iraq or the US. At some point, history will ask how Barack Obama thought he was fulfilling his duties of commander in chief by making such an ignorant move?

In the meantime, let's remember that the same League now threatening the US is the one Barack freed from prison.

The following community sites updated:

  • Friday, December 22, 2017

    Bye bye to the mandate

    So a few things on Donald Trump's tax plan.

    Barry Grey (WSWS) explains:

    The bill also ends the Obamacare requirement that individuals not otherwise covered buy health insurance from private providers, in many cases with the help of government subsidies. According to the Congressional Budget Office, this will result in 13 million more people without health insurance by 2027 and a 10 percent yearly increase in premiums for policies bought on the individual market.

    So there's one good thing.

    As for "this will result in 13 millionmore people without health inusrance by 2027"?

    That's good.  Because you don't force someone to buy coverage and call that "universal coverage."

    I'm really bothered by the way Grey words that, by the way.

    The bill is harmful to most Americans, I believe.  I don't believe offering choice -- which is what doing away with the mandate -- is harmful.

    (I also don't believe that having useless coverage -- that you pay a fortune for and can't really use because the deductible is too high -- counts as having coverage.)

    Grey also notes:

    The Democrats, for their part, have done nothing to seriously oppose this naked piece of class legislation. They themselves advocate a deep tax cut for corporations and spent most of their efforts pleading with the Republicans to be included in talks on the plan.

    I thought that this morning when the ridiculous Zeke Emanuel was on CNN whining.  (Zeke is Rahm's brother.  Not noted in the whine, Zeke had been advising Donald Trump this year.)

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
    Thursday, December 21, 2017.

    Yesterday, protests took place in segments of the KRG for the third day in a row.

    Fazel Hawramy (AL-MONITOR) reports:

    While the protesters maintain that their anger is due to the mismanagement of the economy and widespread corruption, Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) officials maintained in interviews across their affiliated media channels that there is a regional conspiracy against the unity of Kurdistan.
    Dilshad Shahab, an adviser to KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, said that the government is doing everything in its power to overcome the crisis and has not stopped its efforts “despite the … plots and hostile hands that want to disrupt the peace” and stability of the Kurdistan region.
    Barzani, accompanied by his deputy Qubad Talabani, is in Germany meeting officials, including Chancellor Angela Merkel. He called for calm on Dec. 19 and asked the protesters to refrain from using violence.


    Possibly fueling the protests is the lack of funds since Baghdad refuses to fork over the KRG's part of the national budget.

    The tensions between Baghdad and Erbil continues to grow and the US government has done little to nothing.

    The tension was a topic US State Dept spokesperson Heather Nauert was asked about on  Tuesday:

    QUESTION: Yeah. The Dutch prime minister recently called on Baghdad to end its ban on flights to and from Kurdish airports, saying that it was getting in the way of Dutch military operations. Do you agree with that position? Do you think the ban should end, whether for military or humanitarian reasons?

    MS NAUERT: Yeah. I was looking into this and talking to some of our experts who cover Iraq about this very issue earlier today, and I think this goes back to something that, for a couple months now, we’ve been calling for Iraq and Erbil to sit down and have talks. And I feel like we say this about a lot of nations, but it’s really a perfect example in Iraq. That is a situation where they need to work it out themselves. I understand under the Iraqi constitution that the central Government of Iraq has sort of management over the airports throughout the country. That’s my understanding of the Iraqi constitution – not only the airports but also the borders. But for that very reason, it’s even more important for Erbil and Baghdad to sit down and have talks about the status of its airports.

    QUESTION: And you’ve been saying that for so long and that – I’ve got a different understanding of the airports, but anyhow.

    MS NAUERT: Okay.

    QUESTION: I’ve been – I think it’s joint operations, but whatever. You’ve been saying that for so long. The Iraqis do nothing. In fact, they increase the punitive measures on Kurdistan and show no regard whatever – whatsoever for your calls for dialogue. Don’t you think it’s time to publicly pressure Iraq? For example, the German foreign minister, when the prime minister of the Kurdistan region just visited there, said, “We’re going to make our aid to both of you, Baghdad and Erbil, contingent on a dialogue.” Are you inclined to up your pressure because, so far, nothing has happened?

    MS NAUERT: Well, we have spoken about this a lot here. I think you’ve asked me about it at every briefing.

    QUESTION: And I get the same answer and nothing happens.

    MS NAUERT: At every briefing since this happened. We continue to talk with the countries – I mean with Erbil and Baghdad. We continue to talk with them and urge them to sit down and have conversations. In terms of punitive measures such as withholding money or anything, we never forecast that. I’m not saying we would do it at all, but we just continue to ask the countries to sit down and have a conversation. It’s ultimately hurting themselves by not sitting down. We hope that countries would see the wisdom in that.

    QUESTION: If in a month from now we have this same conversation, is there anything you’re prepared to do to put more pressure on Baghdad?

    MS NAUERT: Laurie, I think that’s a hypothetical. We’ll just follow it and see what happens then.

    QUESTION: A month from now? Okay.

    MS NAUERT: Okay. 

    If the tensions are still present a month from now, the State Dept may have something to say.  Maybe.  Possibly.  Per Heather.

    Or maybe not.

    Iraqi forces building up near Makhmour, warns Kurdish security body
    Alarming rumors about army and deployments, near , against . Again: is the best ally, in the region, of the US and of the West. Again: it would be a shame and dishonor, for us, not to stop this new coup of . .

    On September 25, the KRG held a vote on a non-binding resolution regarding Kurdish independence.  Over 92% of voters favored Kurdish independence.

    To read many press accounts, that's the cause of the tension.

    That's sort of like saying that the problems in Lorena and John Bobbitt's marriage started when she cut off his penis and ignoring the years of abuse and infidelities.

    John Bobbitt may not have counted any problems prior to his penis being cut off but those problems existed.

    The tension between Baghdad and Erbil starts long before September 25 of this year.

    There are many factors included those in the Tweet below:

    Replying to   
    You overlook the 55 constitutional breaches by Iraq and you overlook the reasons for referendum. You ignore the 16 year delay in implementing Article 140 by Iraq. Your article provides zero context to any of the issues rather isolate blame to Kurds.

    RUDAW reports:

    PM Barzani said the people have the “just right to protest,” in the Kurdistan Region, a democratic value respected by the KRG.

    He warned, however, the “course of protests” has been manipulated by some to cause violence.

    “We know there is a hand behind the events,” PM Barzani said.

    He refused to name names as to whom he accuses of inciting violence, but added that the violent attacks against public and private offices occured just as the Iraqi forces started to build up military forces in Makhmur, near Erbil.

    “We know there is incitement. We know there are people who support it so that there will be more riots in the Kurdistan Region. Certainly the security forces of the Kurdistan Region and the people of Kurdistan generally are against this,” the PM said.

    “Protest is the just right of everyone,” he repeated, “But the course [of protest] has changed from making demands to burning offices and making problems. As the KRG, we have the legal duty to limit this chaos, the KRG is serious about containing the chaos and to put an end to it.”

    In addition, MIDDLE EAST MONITOR notes:

    Iraqi President Fuad Masum called on protesters in the northern Kurdistan region to exercise restraint, abide by the law and not to damage government and political party headquarters.
    “A number of cities and districts north of the country have witnessed protests mostly by employees and workers who demand payment of their salaries and benefits which had been mostly delayed for several months,” the president said in a televised speech.
    “We call on all our people, especially the protesters to show calm, abide by the law and exercise restraint.”
    He has also called on the security authorities to promptly investigate the perpetrators of the attacks and hold them to account for their actions as well as to protect the protesters’ security and ensure their right to fully express their demands.

    Violence continues throughout Iraq.  Today, the Committee to Protect Journalists notes that Iraq is number one for 2017 when it comes to the number of journalists killed.

    At least 42 journalists killed in the line of duty worldwide in 2017: Iraq 8 Syria 7 Mexico 6 India 3 Afghanistan 2 Philippines 2 Russia 2 Somalia 2 Yemen 2 Bangladesh 1 Brazil 1 Colombia 1 Denmark 1 Maldives 1 Malta 1 Pakistan 1 South Sudan 1 More:

    CPJ notes:

    After three years of fighting in Iraq and Syria, the militant group Islamic State has been forced out of large swathes of territory. But local journalists and press freedom groups with whom CPJ spoke said that the defeat of Islamic State doesn't necessarily mean that journalists will be any safer.
    The extremist group is one of the main suspected sources of fire in the killings of journalists in Iraq and Syria ever since it declared a caliphate in Mosul in June 2014. During its three-year grip over large parts of both countries 38 journalists were killed, at least eight are missing, and others were forced underground as the militants created a monopoly over information in the territory under its control, CPJ has found.
    But Islamic State is not the only threat facing journalists in the region. Local journalists with whom CPJ spoke during its mission to Erbil and Lebanon in March 2017, predicted that the emergence of militias, political pressure, censorship, and sectarianism would pose a threat in a post-Islamic State Middle East.
    Abdalaziz al-Hamza, co-founder of the citizen journalist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS), told CPJ that journalists will remain under threat.
    "I don't think the end of [Islamic State's] presence in Syria will bring any opportunities for Syrian journalists. Threats against journalists will worsen. Armed groups remain the main threat to journalists, although the level of threat posed to them changes from one armed group to the next," al-Hamza said.
    Militias have proliferated across the Middle East in recent years. Authorities in Iraq and Syria who relied on these politically and religiously diverse groups to help oust Islamic State, must now decide whether to integrate these militias into their own forces, or try to disband them, according to news reports.
    Rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have repeatedly condemned abuses allegedly carried out by militias, including extrajudicial executions, forcible disappearances, and torture.
    Dlovan Barwari, from the independent Iraqi civil rights group Legal Defense for Crimes Against Press Freedom, said that he sees them as the biggest challenge. "Militias don't hesitate to use all kinds of threats against journalists, including killings. Journalists in areas retaken from [Islamic State] are very cautious and exercise self-censorship for fear of militia brutality and of being accused of terrorism," Barwari said.
    Ragaz Kamal, co-founder of the local Iraqi human rights organization 17Shubat for Human Rights, told CPJ that journalists in Iraq face a threefold threat from "armed groups that have gained political cover, like the PMF, political parties, and the authorities because of their job."

    Kamal added, "None of these groups tolerate criticism and they are rarely held accountable for their actions against journalists. The end of [Islamic State] will not change much for journalists in either Iraq or Kurdistan."

    CPJ notes Iraq holds more than just the record for 2017:

    More journalists have been killed in --at least 186--than in any other country since CPJ began keeping detailed records in 1992.

    Still on violence, yesterday AP reported:

    An Associated Press investigation has found that between 9,000 and 11,000 civilians died in the final battle to drive Islamic State extremists out of the Iraqi city of Mosul. 

    That’s a civilian casualty rate nearly 10 times higher than what has been previously reported.  The deaths are acknowledged neither by the coalition, the Iraqi government nor the Islamic State group’s self-styled caliphate. 

    In response, Amnesty International issued the following:

    Responding to reports made by the Associated Press that between 9000 to 11,000 civilians have been killed in the battle for Mosul, Lynn Maalouf, Head of Research for Amnesty International in the Middle East said: 
    “We are horrified, but not surprised, by these new figures. These numbers are directly in line with our previous findings that thousands of civilians were killed during the battle for Mosul – and that these deaths were caused not only by the so-called Islamic State group, but also by Iraqi and coalition forces. The AP’s estimate is more than ten times the figures reported by coalition forces, who have claimed responsibility for only 326 deaths.
    “The failure of Iraqi and coalition forces to acknowledge and investigate civilian deaths in Mosul is a blatant abdication of responsibility. We are demanding transparency and an honest public account of the true cost to civilians from this war, as well as an immediate investigation by US-led coalition and Iraqi forces into the violations and unlawful attacks documented by Amnesty International and other independent groups during the battle for Mosul.
    Many of these newly reported deaths were as a direct result of civilians being killed or crushed under buildings damaged in attacks by the coalition and Iraqi government forces that were disproportionate or otherwise indiscriminate. The US-led coalition and Iraqi forces failed to take into account the reality on the ground. If these forces had fully complied with their obligation to take necessary precautions to minimize civilian harm, some of the extensive destruction and loss of civilian life could have been avoided.”

    The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley and the ACLU -- updated: