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  1. Reform of monetary system … IMF should build multiple reserve currencies including SDR and supervise their issuance and cross-border capital flows … Today, the most urgent task for the G20 is reform of the international monetary system. With sharply fluctuating exchange rates, it is difficult to monitor international capital flows, identify financial risks in advance, and save the global system once a crisis happens. If the current international monetary system cannot be successfully reformed, a new great financial crisis will soon be upon us. So, the G20 should focus on its historical mission to urgently reform the international monetary system. – China Daily Rigged Gold Market, A Secret Payoff To China … “Gold is a reserve currency, as far as the market is concerned,” Sprott Asset Management’s Eric Sprott told FinancialSense Newshour’s Jim Puplava in an Oct. 2011 interview. Sprott went on to say that central banks and the shrewd money know the endgame for the dollar will include gold as the backbone of a new global monetary system—a system that presently finds China sorely lagging in gold reserves when compared with the core EU nations and the U.S … – ETF Daily News The world’s new monetary system is being constructed as we write. You can spot the evidence in various articles, both mainstream and alternative. This article will profile two such stories. First, there is an ETF Daily News article entitled, “Rigged Gold Market, A Secret Payoff To China.” It complements a most important article from China Daily entitled, “Reform of the Monetary System.” Together these two recent articles may provide us with significant insights into what is REALLY going on. According to the ETF Daily News, Western powers-that-be are secretly funneling gold to China in anticipation of a new monetary system now being constructed. China needs more gold to be part of the planned new world monetary order – or so the Daily News article suggests. For those who believe in directed (conspiratorial) history, such a scenario is certainly believable. The global elites seem to be creating economic chaos in anticipation that they shall then be able to introduce a world currency – possibly one based on a bundle of currency and informally backed by gold. This will not happen all at once, but will happen over time. If the euro fails, this will surely be an elite setback, but that does not mean the enterprise itself will be halted. The elites that want to run the world – and are willing to produce any amount of agony to get their way – don’t give up easily. The globalist currency may be run by the elite-controlled International Monetary Fund and could built out of the current Special Drawing Rights (SDR) “super currency” that the IMF has been attempting to implement around the world. The China Daily article provides us with astonishing confirmation of what may be the IMF’s role. China Daily is widely seen as a private mouthpiece of Chinese government policy. Reading between the lines, the two articles provide further evidence that China’s top leaders – actually those secretly behind the public’s leaders – are on board with the globalist plans of Western elites. This has been speculated about before because the paradigm that Western elites use is to ally with the people at the very top of a society. Often hostilities are commenced against such countries. The idea is always to control the topmost leaders while positioning the opposing country as a threat in order to consolidate further domestic control. In China, it’s been speculated that some specific dynastic families are involved in controlling that great country – and work with Western banking families such as the Rothschilds. An alternative to this perspective is that of a three-headed shadow control that includes elements of the communist leadership (Mao was supposedly a “Soviet agent” – and the top Soviets in turn were allied with the West), the Hong Kong Tycoons (later entrants) and the Triads mafias. This makes sense if one believes that the power players in Mainland China fled to Hong Kong during Mao’s reign and allied themselves with the Triads for purposes of developing political and criminal muscle. Once China’s mismanagement had reached a critical level – after the failure of the Great Leap Forward – the stage was set for elite re-penetration of that vast state. When one looks at China today, one sees a kind of Western parallel – but one that is even more extreme. The Chinese economic model is based on corrosive and inflationary central banking that has no doubt allowed elite interests to corral huge amounts of Chinese economic and industrial resources. China is probably near the end of this particular cycle of monetary activity, with hundreds of empty skyscrapers and dozens of empty cities dotting the landscape. The ChiComs no doubt expect an implosion. No, there will likely be no “soft landing.” This is providing the ChiComs with a further incentive to cooperate with Western elites to create a new monetary system built out of the old, collapsing one. The China Daily article “Reform the Monetary System” provides us with an astonishingly detailed plan for how the new world currency is to come about. Here are some of the points: •The IMF should build multiple reserve currencies including SDR and supervise their issuance and cross-border capital flows. •The G20 should set up a permanent secretariat within the International Monetary Fund to improve its policymaking and implementation capabilities. •A diversified international monetary system should consist of multiple currencies, such as the Special Drawing Rights, the US dollar, the euro and the renminbi. • A good way to start the reforms would be to encourage the use of Special Drawing Rights for a broader range of activities and to start reducing the weight of the US dollar in the reserve currency system. The article explains that, “such reforms would mean granting the IMF the ability to conduct open market operations as the world’s central bank.” Link -
  2. PNA-The USA Energy office on Friday 6/2/2012 announced that the same time of publish news of the comparative production in China and dept crisis of Euro Area , the price of crude oil has been dropped below $100 in growth fears in last 16 months ago. According to the Routers News from New York, the price of light Oil in USA has reached in $85.46 a barrel. The Price of Oil already in USA has fallen during 5 last week nearly 17%. The dept crisis of Euro Area and worry about of demanding of Oil ,the reason of serious decrease of Oil’s price and for the first time , the price of oil drop below $100 on growth fears Link -
  3. In few days, Iraq will be implementing taxes and tariffs law amidst traders and observers’ discontent after they called not to rush the law implementation before its finalization. Finance Ministry more specifically the General Commission for Customs insists upon implementing the law by end of June by virtue of the ministry’s executive authorities that do not permit to stop the law execution. “Finance Minister announced, two months ago, that it will start implementing taxes and tariffs law,” Fouad Hassan Suheil from the General Commission for customs said explaining that the commission already trained its employees to operate on borders. Iraqi parliament sees in this law a step towards Iraq entering World Trade Organization and protecting its local production regardless of lack of products protection and consumer’s protection laws that ought to be operating when taxes and tariffs law is implemented. “We advised the General Commission for Customs as well as Finance Ministry to issue instructions consisting in breaking taxes over vital products such as food and clothes, and in slowly applying the law resolutions to impose a full control over the market,” MP Haitham Al Jabouri advanced. The implementation of taxes and tariffs law will result in a major inflation in Iraqi market and a negative effect on Iraqi citizens especially poor families, Economic experts revealed adding that revenues of this law implementation will not be up to cabinet expectations. “Taxes and tariffs cannot be implemented over all industrial and agricultural products manufactured abroad,” the economic expert Majid Al Suri uttered. Taxes and tariffs law implementation over borders might push some traders to refer to Kurdistan borders which incited the Interior Ministry to undertake strict measures in order to obstruct such attempts. “We ordered checkpoints beyond Nineveh and Diyala to stop any vehicle transporting products if it doesn’t have the country of origin license,” the Senior Agent of Interior Ministry Adnan Al Asadi indicated. Implementing taxes and tariffs law helps obstruct the introduction of low quality goods and enhance local industry, the Cabinet however must support Iraqi production in this regard. Link -
  4. Iraqi Vice President Tarek Al Hashemi who left Kurdistan heading to Qatar argued that the request of Iraqi Government from the State of Qatar to hand him to Iraq’s Judiciary is unconstitutional. Hashemi affirmed however that he will be back in Kurdistan at the end of his tour to a number of capitals. The departure of Iraqi Vice-President Tarek Al Hashemi to Qatar has spurred many reactions. Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Hussein Al Shahristani had called Qatar to hand Hashemi over for Iraqi Judiciary. Qatar is receiving a person wanted by law, which is not acceptable, Shahristani said in a press conference held on Monday stressing that Qatar should hand Hashemi over to Iraq. Hashemi’s departure to Qatar is a clear challenge to Iraqi Judiciary and Law, he finally concluded. Link - hashemi-in-qatar-affirms-his-return-to-kurdistan
  5. Dubai: In the latest sign of worsening ties between the Iraqi central government and Kurdistan and its Arab neighbours, Baghdad yesterday lambasted the autonomous region's move to allow Sunni Vice-President Tarek Al Hashemi, who faced terror charges, to travel to Qatar and to stop oil exports. Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Hussain Shahristani asked Doha to send Al Hashemi back in what many experts described as part of ongoing tensions between the two sides amid sectarian strains and different approaches to the Syrian crisis. "Qatar should review its position and send Al Hashemi back to Iraq to stand trial," Shahristani was quoted as saying at a press conference. Qatar's acceptance of Al Hashemi was "unacceptable", he added. Shahristani said Kurdistan committed a "clear challenge to law and justice" by allowing Al Hashemi to leave the country. Al Hashemi had been holed up in Kurdistan since last December, when Iraqi officials accused him, a day after the US troop withdrawal, of running death squads against Shiites, government officials and security forces. He denies the charges, which he says are politically motivated. Kurdish officials have repeatedly rejected Baghdad's requests to hand over the vice-president. Al Hashemi swiftly rejected Baghdad's demand upon arrival in Doha. He told AFP, "There has not been a judicial decision against me by any court, and the demand does not respect Article 93 of the constitution, which provides me with immunity." Al Hashemi's case has divided Iraqi politicians. "His trip to Qatar is his right as a vice-president," Talal Al Zoubai, an Iraqi MP from the Iraqiya bloc, said. "The accused is innocent until he is proven guilty…. And we are confident, as an Iraqi bloc and all the national parties, that the man is innocent and far from these accusations… it is a political vendetta," he told Gulf News. Other Arab political experts believe Al Hashemi's trip to Qatar is likely to deepen already existing tensions between Iran and the neighbouring Gulf states. "There is an attempt at media escalation by the Iraqi government towards Qatar in particular," said Mohammad Ezz Al Arab, a researcher at the Arab and regional unit at the Cairo-based Al Ahram Strategic Studies Centre. "This is only one of the cases," between Iraq and the Arab states, he told Gulf News. Oil exports halted Sectarian tension, trading accusations of interfering in each other's internal affairs, Baghdad's strong relations with Iran, and its support for the Syrian regime of Bashar Al Assad, who is criticised by the Gulf countries for crushing the year-long protests, are among the main reasons for the ongoing tensions, added Ezz Al Arab. Baghdad also criticised Kurdistan for stopping its crude oil exports on Sunday after arguing the central government had withheld $1.5 billion owed to foreign oil companies working in the region. Link -
  6. Baghdad Summit might not mark history by its exceptional resolutions or extraordinary agenda, however, observers believe it will definitely be a landmark in the history of summits preparations since it took more than eight months and it cost hundreds of millions of dollars to be ready for the Arab Summit. According to a governmental source speaking on condition of anonymity, Arab delegations will be driven from the airport to the highly secure Green Zone which will host Arab Kings, leaders and heads of Arab delegations in 22 presidential villas. Delegation members will reside in 450 apartments that have been specifically set for this occasion, the source told Alsumaria. The conference of Arab Economy and Finance Ministers takes place on March 27 in Al Rashid Hotel in Baghdad in preparation for the Riyadh Economic Summit. On March 28, Arab Foreign Ministers convene to finalize the Arab Summit agenda and conclude the agreements expected to be signed in the Arab Summit on March 29 that will take place in Iraq’s Presidential Palace. The Arab Summit includes five main items including the situation in Syria and Yemen, the source revealed refusing to give further details on the remaining items of discussion. The source affirms that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani will preside the Arab Summit despite his health condition. Talabani is the first non-Arab President to preside the Arab Summit. The Iraqi delegation on the other hand will be headed by Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki. Non-Arab delegations will be represented by their ambassadors in the Summit public opening session in the quality of observers. Following this session, a closed meeting will be held in the presence of Arab delegations, while another session will be held to announce the Summit resolutions. All these sessions are scheduled for March 29. Link -
  7. BAGHDAD — Less than two months after American troops left, the State Department is preparing to slash by as much as half the enormous diplomatic presence it had planned for Iraq, a sharp sign of declining American influence in the country. Officials in Baghdad and Washington said that Ambassador James F. Jeffrey and other senior State Department officials were reconsidering the size and scope of the embassy, where the staff has swelled to nearly 16,000 people, mostly contractors. The expansive diplomatic operation and the $750 million embassy building, the largest of its kind in the world, were billed as necessary to nurture a postwar Iraq on its shaky path to democracy and establish normal relations between two countries linked by blood and mutual suspicion. But the Americans have been frustrated by what they see as Iraqi obstructionism and are now largely confined to the embassy because of security concerns, unable to interact enough with ordinary Iraqis to justify the $6 billion annual price tag. The swift realization among some top officials that the diplomatic buildup may have been ill advised represents a remarkable pivot for the State Department, in that officials spent more than a year planning the expansion and that many of the thousands of additional personnel have only recently arrived. Michael W. McClellan, the embassy spokesman, said in a statement, “Over the last year and continuing this year the Department of State and the Embassy in Baghdad have been considering ways to appropriately reduce the size of the U.S. mission in Iraq, primarily by decreasing the number of contractors needed to support the embassy’s operations.” Mr. McClellan said the number of diplomats — currently about 2,000 — was also “subject to adjustment as appropriate.” To make the cuts, he said the embassy was “hiring Iraqi staff and sourcing more goods and services to the local economy.” After the American troops departed in December, life became more difficult for the thousands of diplomats and contractors left behind. Convoys of food that were previously escorted by the United States military from Kuwait were delayed at border crossings as Iraqis demanded documentation that the Americans were unaccustomed to providing. Within days, the salad bar at the embassy dining hall ran low. Sometimes there was no sugar or Splenda for coffee. On chicken-wing night, wings were rationed at six per person. Over the holidays, housing units were stocked with Meals Ready to Eat, the prepared food for soldiers in the field. At every turn, the Americans say, the Iraqi government has interfered with the activities of the diplomatic mission, one they grant that the Iraqis never asked for or agreed upon. Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s office — and sometimes even the prime minister himself — now must approve visas for all Americans, resulting in lengthy delays. American diplomats have had trouble setting up meetings with Iraqi officials. For their part, the Iraqis say they are simply enforcing their laws and protecting their sovereignty in the absence of a working agreement with the Americans on the embassy. “The main issue between Iraqis and the U.S. Embassy is that we have not seen, and do not know anything about, an agreement between the Iraqi government and the U.S.,” said Nahida al-Dayni, a lawmaker and member of Iraqiya, a largely Sunni bloc in Parliament. Expressing a common sentiment among Iraqis, she added: “The U.S. had something on their mind when they made it so big. Perhaps they want to run the Middle East from Iraq, and their embassy will be a base for them here." Those suspicions have been reinforced by two murky episodes, one involving four armed Americans on the streets of Baghdad that Iraqi officials believe were Central Intelligence Agency operatives and another when an American helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing because of a mechanical failure on the outskirts of the capital on the banks of the Tigris River. “The plane that broke down raised many questions about the role of Americans here,” said Ammar al-Hakim, the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a leading Shiite political party and social organization. “So what is the relationship? We’re still waiting for more information.” The current configuration of the embassy is actually smaller than the original plans that were drawn up at a time when officials believed that a residual American military presence would remain in Iraq beyond 2011. For instance, officials once planned for a 700-person consulate in the northern city of Mosul, but it was scrapped for budgetary reasons. Iraq’s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, met with Mr. Jeffrey last week to discuss, among other things, the size of the American presence here. “The problem is with the contractors, with the security arrangements,” Mr. Zebari said. Mr. Jeffrey will leave the task of whittling down the embassy to his successor, as officials said he is expected to step down in the coming weeks. “We always knew that what they were planning to do didn’t make sense,” said Kenneth M. Pollack, of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. “It’s increasingly becoming clear that they are horribly overstaffed given what they are able to accomplish.” Mr. Pollack described as unrealistic the State Department’s belief that it could handle many of the tasks previously performed by the military, such as monitoring security in northern areas disputed by Arabs and Kurds, where checkpoints are jointly manned by Iraqi and Kurdish security forces, and visiting projects overseen by the United States Agency of International Development. Americans are also still being shot at regularly in Iraq. At the Kirkuk airport, an Office of Security Cooperation, which handles weapons sales to the Iraqis and where a number of diplomats work, is frequently attacked by rockets fired by, officials believe, members of Men of the Army of Al Naqshbandi Order, a Sunni insurgent group. American officials believed that Iraqi officials would be far more cooperative than they have been in smoothing the transition from a military operation to a diplomatic mission led by American civilians. The expansion has exacted a toll on Iraqi government ministries, which are keen to exert their sovereignty after nearly nine years of war and occupation, and aggravated long-running tensions between the two countries. The size of the embassy staff is even more remarkable when compared with those of other countries. Turkey, for instance, which is Iraq’s largest trading partner and wields more economic influence here than the United States, employs roughly 55 people at its embassy, and the number of actual diplomats is in the single digits. “It’s really been an overload for us, for the Foreign Ministry,” Mr. Zebari said of the American mission. The problems with the supply convoys, as well as a wide crackdown on security contractors that included detentions and the confiscation of documents, computers and weapons, prompted the embassy to post a notice on its Web site warning Americans working here that “the government of Iraq is strictly enforcing immigration and customs procedures, to include visas and stamps for entry and exit, vehicle registration, and authorizations for weapons, convoys, logistics and other matters.” The considerations to reduce the number of embassy personnel, American officials here said, reflects a belief that a quieter and humbler diplomatic presence could actually result in greater leverage over Iraqi affairs, particularly in mediating a political crisis that flared just as the troops were leaving. Having fewer burly, bearded and tattooed security men — who are currently the face of America to many Iraqis and evoke memories of horrible abuses — could help build trust with Iraqis, these officials believe. “Iraqis, as individuals, have had bad experiences with these security firms,” said Latif Rashid, a senior adviser to President Jalal Talabani. One State Department program that is likely to be scrutinized as officials consider reducing the size of the embassy is an ambitious program to train the Iraqi police, which is costing about $500 million this year — far less than the nearly $1 billion that the embassy originally intended to spend. The program has generated considerable skepticism within the State Department — one of the officials interviewed predicted that the program could be scrapped later this year — because of the high cost of support staff, the inability of police advisers to leave their bases because of the volatile security situation and a lack of support by the Iraqi government. In an interview late last year with the American Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, a senior Iraqi official at the Interior Ministry said the United States should use the money it planned to spend on the police program “for something that can benefit the people of the United States.” The official, Adnan al-Asadi, predicted the Iraqis would receive “very little benefit” from the program. Reducing the size of the embassy might have the added benefit of quieting the anti-Americanism of those who violently opposed the military occupation. Moktada al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric who has steadfastly railed against American influence here and whose militia fought the American military, has recently told his followers that the United States has failed to “disarm.” Mr. Sadr recently posted a statement on his Web site that read, “I ask the competent authorities in Iraq to open an embassy in Washington, equivalent to the size of the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, in order to maintain the prestige of Iraq.” Link -
  8. Baghdad: Disagreement on Syria is one underlying cause of the current diplomatic row between Iraq and Turkey, analysts say, but crucial economic ties are likely to prevent a serious escalation. Despite improving relations and rising trade between their two countries in recent years, the rhetoric between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan has become heated in recent weeks as Baghdad grappled with a political crisis that has stoked sectarian tensions. Turkey and Iraq have summoned each other's ambassadors to protest unfair criticism on both sides. "The war of words between Iraq and Turkey and some kind of escalation are largely related [to] what is going on in Syria," said Paul Salem, the director of the Carnegie Middle East Centre in Beirut. Before the Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East, Turkey's policy was one of ‘zero problem' and ‘good relations with everyone', Salem said. But Turkey was forced to choose between the regime of Syria's President Bashar Al Assad, which has been trying to crush a popular uprising since March 2011, and the Syrian people. Spur for row This has caused "trouble with regime allies and friends, which of course include the Al Maliki government and include Iran, and that is really the reason for the timing of the escalation of words" between Turkey and Iraq, Salem said. Ankara, which has called for Al Assad to quit, has been at the forefront of global criticism of the Damascus regime's crackdown on protests and has also become a haven for many Syrian opposition activists. Mahjoob Zweiri, a professor of contemporary history and politics of the Middle East at Qatar University, said there are two reasons for the tension. "Turkey believes Al Maliki's policies are delaying the stabilisation of Iraq by marginalising a part of the society," Zweiri said, adding that Iraq's support of Al Assad's regime is also at odds with Turkey's position. He added: "I don't think that Iraq and Turkey will go very much further [as] both countries have many interests together." Trade between the two countries amounted to $12 billion (Dh44.07 billion) last year, and Turkish economy minister Zafer Caglayan has said Ankara wants this to rise to "$20 billion or $30 billion in 2012". Some blame a tussle between Iran and Turkey for influence in Iraq for the war of words. Geopolitical struggle Like Iran, Iraq is ruled by Shiites, while Turkey is largely Sunni. Syria is ruled by minority Alawites, a Shiite offshoot. The Iraq-Turkey crisis is a "struggle for control of Iraq between Iran and Turkey", said Joseph Bahout, a professor at Sciences Po in Paris and a Middle East specialist. "The previous Turkish-Iranian-Syrian condominium fell apart because Syria is in the situation that we know and the departure of the Americans [from Iraq] left a void that the two countries [Turkey and Iran] are trying to fill," he said. "The three countries will become a front line that will see conflict between the two main communal forces in the region, and in this context Turkey is obliged" to hold its ground, he added. Zweiri said Iran's criticism of Bahrain's crackdown on demonstrations and support for Al Assad and Al Maliki are often perceived as being motivated by sect or religion, but its policies are "in fact motivated by the will to have a real role in the Middle East", he said. Link -
  9. Baghdad: Halima Dakhil lost her husband in the sectarian slaughter that engulfed Iraq after the US invasion in 2003 and now spends her days tearful and scared, knowing her $250 (Dh917.50) monthly wage won't pay the rent and feed five children. One of an estimated 2 million women who are primary breadwinners in Iraq, Halima is but one face of the humanitarian crisis left behind as US forces withdraw from Iraq nearly nine years after toppling dictator Saddam Hussain. Rent takes $210 of her monthly earning as a cleaner in a medical clinic. She depends mainly on the kindness of neighbours and other donors to feed her family. "When my husband was killed in 2006, my youngest child, Ridha, was only a toddler," said Halima, wiping away her tears with her abaya, as Ridha stood by her side. "I took on the role of both mother and father. I support them and pay the rent. The rent is destroying me." Halima said militants beheaded her husband, along with his brother and nephew, as they travelled to sell a car and buy another in Diyala province, a centre of ethnic and sectarian strife east of Baghdad. In a cruel irony, Halima's spouse, a Sunni, was killed by Sunnis who thought he was a Shiite because his ID badge was issued in the Shiite slum of Sadr City, she said. Halima, herself a Shiite, was displaced shortly after her husband's death from their Sunni area in northern Baghdad to Sadr City, with no money, no furniture and no family support. As Iraq emerges from nearly nine years of what many here think of as an occupation by US forces, and the decades of Saddam's reign before, it faces an uphill battle to help the poor, the wounded, the widowed and others scarred by war. "I wish the war never happened and my husband was still alive. What is his fault? What is the fault of the innocent people?" said Halima, who is raising four boys and a girl. Bombings Tens of thousands of men — soldiers, police, insurgent fighters and civilians — have died in bombings, ***-for-tat sectarian slaughter and other violence during a war that has killed more than 100,000 Iraqis, by some estimates. Minister of Women's Affairs Ibtihal Gasid Al Zaidi estimates there may be 2 million women breadwinners in Iraq, most of them widows of the 2003 US-led invasion and the sectarian conflict that followed, the first Gulf war or the 1980s Iran-Iraq war. The humanitarian group Relief International estimates there may be 1.5 million widows, nearly 10 per cent of the female population. The International Committee of the Red Cross said there are more than 1 million women leading households in Iraq. "The ICRC sees women-headed households as among the most vulnerable in Iraq today," the group said. Ibtihal said 23 per cent of oil-rich Iraq's estimated 30 million people, around 7 million, live under the poverty line and more than half are women. Many widows struggle with the realities of their new lives; raising children alone, with little money or family support. "The woman's suffering is huge in these difficult circumstances because she is the father, the mother, the care-giver and the breadwinner," Ibtihal said. "She is taking huge responsibility, inside and outside the home. We are trying to help her as much as we can." During Saddam's reign, widows were paid a monthly benefit and were given land and a car, which helped to placate many. He also rewarded members of the military who married widows. Those benefits stopped when he was toppled. In 2009, a new law was passed to help victims of war and their relatives, and a state-run compensation committee to help those hurt by militant attacks began its work in July. Standard compensation includes five million Iraqi dinars ($4,275) for a government worker who is killed and 3.75 million dinars ($3,200) for non-government worker, along with land and a monthly pension, in addition to social security benefits. So far the committee has given out 55 billion dinars ($47 million). Land has been distributed in some provinces but not in Baghdad yet, said Hazem Al Haidari, the head of the committee. A widow's monthly social security is 100,000 Iraqi dinars ($85). Each child receives 15,000 dinars ($13). "I agree it is little. But there is a real plan to increase these benefits," Ibtihal said. Iraqi women say registering for government pensions is a bureaucratic nightmare due to corrupt workers who demand money to complete the paperwork. One divorcee said she spent almost a year registering and when she was about to finish the process the pension office told her that her file had been lost. She gave up. Reducing poverty The government has allocated $1.2 billion a year to a plan to reduce the poverty level to 16 per cent by 2014, said Hassan Al Zubaidi, a professor at Kufa University in Najaf and one of the plan's authors. The plan sets the poverty line at 77,000 dinars ($66) a month; a line to which too many Iraqis are dangerously close. "Most of [the people] are close to the 77,000 dinars, which means with any security and economic crisis, many people will be under the poverty line," Zubaidi said. The 75-square-metre home where Halima is raising her five children has no glass in the windows. A broken air cooler sits in the front yard. "My children went to bed without dinner the other night," she said. •$250: the monthly wage for an Iraqi widow •1.5m: estimated number of widows in Iraq •23%: of Iraqis live below the poverty line Link -
  10. Ron Paul has been speaking about this since the late 70's early 80's. RE: switching to the gold standard "After that day, all money would be political money rather than money of real value. I was astounded" - Ron Paul. Everybody has been blowing him off as some senile old kook maybe he will get the attention he deserves now.
  11. Baghdad: Leaders of Iraq's Sunni-backed Iraqiya political bloc were to meet yesterday to decide whether to continue its boycott of parliament or escalate its protest by leaving the government. Disputes within Iraqiya are threatening to tear the cross-sectarian alliance apart. The fracture of Iraqiya or its exit from the government could strengthen the hand of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki. His move against two top Sunni politicians sparked Iraq's worst political crisis in a year and raised fears of renewed sectarian conflict. The inclusion of Iraqiya — which won the most seats in 2010 elections with strong support from the Sunni minority — in Al Maliki's coalition government was considered a key to preventing a slide back into sectarian violence. Lawmakers said its breakup or move into opposition was unlikely to cause a major disruption of parliament, which can reach a quorum to pass laws without the bloc. They said Al Maliki could quickly replace boycotting Sunni ministers with other Sunni lawmakers from the fragmented alliance. "A shift to the opposition now is wrong ... [it] won't solve the problems of Iraqiya or any other bloc," said Arshad Al Salhy, a senior Turkmen lawmaker with Iraqiya. "The decisions are made by the majority and [iraqiya] opposition will have no value," he said. Iraqiya factions have been at odds since the bloc announced its boycott in the wake of the political crisis sparked by the government's move to arrest Sunni Vice-President Tareq Al Hashemi, who is accused of running death squads. Al Maliki then asked parliament to oust his Sunni deputy, Saleh Al Mutlaq. Link -
  12. Dubai: Iraq remains the most democratic country in the Middle East and fears that the country will turn into a federation of autonomous regions are misplaced, believes James Jeffrey, the US ambassador to Iraq. In an exclusive interview with Gulf News, Jeffrey also said that Iraq needs to have a liberal oil and gas law which clarifies many questions which international investors and companies are having so that they can come into Iraq and develop Iraq's oil sector. Gulf News: Is the US still sponsoring the political process in Iraq, or has it been left to the different political blocs to deal with it? James Jeffrey: Iraq is a sovereign democratic country. The US respects that and we have a relationship with Iraq which includes support of the democratic process according to a strategic framework agreement [sofa] and within the framework of that understanding we provide certain programmes to support elections but beyond that we have no role as outsiders in the democratic process other than to observe and, if asked our opinion, we provide our opinion. Is the US considering severing diplomatic ties with Syria? What will be the next step? While we are considering closing our embassy in Syria we have no plans to sever diplomatic ties. We continue to work with the UN and the Arab League to seek a solution. We support the latest calls by the Arab League calling for a national unity government. I believe the Syrian government is taking the proposal seriously. Former general David Petraeus and General Ray Odierno met up with Al Iraqiya leaders as the political crisis started in the country after the US army's withdrawal. What can you tell us about the meetings? General Petraeus is the head of the Central Intelligence Agency and General Ray Odierno is the US army's Chief of Staff and as part of their normal contacts in the region they visit here and they visit any other country in the region. I wouldn't read anything special into that. The Obama administration is proceeding with the sale to Iraq of almost $11 billion in weapons and training. Do you think that any assistance to Iraq's security forces ought to be conditional on the government's commitment to resolve its disagreements? First of all, when we provide weapons we provide them with guarantees that they will be used for their proper purposes. The weapons given to the Iraqis are not for internal security, they are to be used to defend their borders and to eventually defend their air space and this is something any sovereign country needs and Iraq currently does not have. So this is something which is important for Iraq as a state and it has nothing to do with political conflicts. Thousands of Iraqi and American lives were sacrificed in ridding Iraq of Saddam Hussain. A slide back to dictatorship, when much of the region is striving for democracy, would render their sacrifices meaningless. What are your thoughts in this regard? We believe that Iraq remains the most democratic country in the Middle East. Obviously it faces very severe problems now and it is in the middle of a very difficult political controversy and we hope that it will be able to get out of it. We continue to support a united federalist, and democratic Iraq. Senator John McCain said on the CBS television programme Face the Nation: "I think there's clearly an unravelling going on which could eventually lead basically into three different kinds of states in Iraq,". Do you believe Iraq will continue as a unified country? Senator McCain is an expert on Iraq, he flies here much, we consult with him periodically and his views are to be taken seriously but they are his views. Once again our view is that while the country is facing a very serious political situation at present it will remain unified; it is our hope that it remains unified and it is our expectation that it will. Defence secretary Leon Panetta earlier on the same CBS show expressed confidence that Iraqi forces were capable of dealing with the security threats and said "our people can be secure in what... they're doing there." How correct are Panetta's words following escalated violence and daily explosions around Baghdad? We really regret these attacks and offer our condolences to the victims' families but secretary Panetta's remarks are absolutely correct. We have looked at the actual statistics of the attacks and the casualties. Generally over the past 4 or 5 years we see that violence continues to go down. Iraq is safer today than two years ago, even a year ago. It seems that whenever there is a political crisis in the country there is an escalation in attacks. What is your view? I disagree. These attacks are not a result of the political crisis as they are planned months in advance; they are very carefully put together by Al Qaida. Approving an oil and gas law in the country has been postponed for a very long time, and whenever a semblance of an agreement is seen on the horizon, something happens and the bill is pushed aside. What are your thoughts about this? We think that it is very important for two reasons to move forward on that bill and the US has been advocating that since 2007. First of all we need to have a liberal law which clarifies many questions which international investors and companies are having so that they can come into Iraq and develop their oil sector. Secondly this is the bone of contention between the central government and the Kurdish regional government and as we are in favour of the best political relations between all Iraqi axis — we think it would be good to resolve that. Link -
  13. Ankara, Turkey: A top Iraqi Shiite politician yesterday urged the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc to end its boycott of parliament amid deepening sectarian divide in Iraq. The political battle in Iraq erupted last month after the Shiite-led government issued an arrest warrant against the Sunni vice president, Tarek Al Hashemi, on terrorism charges, sending him into virtual exile to the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq. In protest, Al Hashemi's Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc has been boycotting parliament and Cabinet sessions, bringing government work to a standstill. "I want to invite Iraqiya to return to parliament and take its place," Ammar Al Hakim, a powerful cleric and leader of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, said during a visit to Turkey. "We say that we will examine their just demands and do whatever is necessary." Al Hakim said that an administration run by members of only one sect was impossible. Sunnis fear that without the American presence as a last-resort guarantor of a sectarian balance, the Shiite government will try to pick off their leaders one by one, as Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki tries to cement his own grip on power. Charges against Al Maliki Last week, the leader of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, Ayad Allawi, accused Al Maliki, a Shiite, of unfairly targeting Sunni officials and deliberately triggering a political crisis that is tearing Iraq apart. Allawi, who is a Shiite, said Iraq needs a new prime minister or new elections to prevent the country from disintegrating along sectarian lines. Link -
  14. Dubai: Many Iraqi politicians yesterday reacted with absolute shock to reports of a deal under which a US Marine squad leader facing trial over the killing of 24 Iraqi civilians in 2005 will get a few months in prison at the most. American military prosecutors offered Marine Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, 31, a deal according to which the proceedings against him will come to an end. Wuterich was the leader of a squad that killed Iraqi civilians in Haditha during raids after a Marine was killed and two were injured in a roadside bomb attack. Wuterich, who was originally accused of unpremeditated murder and was facing life imprisonment, now faces up to three months in confinement, after the deal. He could also lose two-thirds of his pay and be demoted when he is sentenced, the Associated Press reported. Seven other Marines initially charged with the killings were exonerated or had cases against them dropped. Scathing criticism The deal is "a sign that the US judiciary is belittling Iraq's blood", said Talal Al Zoubai, an Iraqi lawmaker from Anbar province, of which Haditha is part of. "The ugly crime [Haditha massacre] contradicts human values and rights, and the principles of democracy which the US brought to Iraq, [but] left us with armies of widows and orphans, armed society and divided it along sectarian lines" Al Zoubai said in a statement to Gulf News. "There should have been a strong sentence that is appropriate to the size of the tragedy for the relatives of the victims and martyrs' kins," Al Zoubai added. Confession Wuterich pleaded guilty on Monday to negligent dereliction of duty for leading the squad in the carnage. In a report from Camp Pendleton in California, where the trial is taking place, AP said that "in the deal, Wuterich admitted that his orders misled his men to believe they could shoot without hesitation and not follow the rules of engagement that required troops to positively identify their targets before they raided the homes". He told the judge that his error caused "tragic events". During the trial before a jury of combat Marines who served in Iraq, prosecutors argued Wuterich lost control after seeing his friend blown apart by the bomb and led his men on the rampage during which they stormed two nearby homes, blasting their way in with gunfire and grenades. Among the dead was a man in a wheelchair. "This is genocide, and not just a murder," said Ra'ed Al Dahlaki, a member of the legal committee of the Iraqi parliament. "The culprit should receive severe punishment for the sake of justice for Arab blood and Iraqi blood." Reaching a deal with Wuterich is akin to "debasing Muslim and Iraqi blood," he told Gulf News. However, many of the Marines involved in the killings testified that they "don't believe to this day that they did anything wrong because they feared insurgents were hiding inside". The massacre, which is often described as one the major events in the War in Iraq, has further tarnished America's reputation after it reached abysmal levels with the release of photos of prisoner abuse at Baghdad's Abu Gharib prison by US soldiers. Slaughter of innocents On a quiet morning in 2005, Marines from Camp Pendleton's 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment - nicknamed the "Thundering Third" - participated in a supply convoy through Haditha, which was then an insurgent stronghold. A bomb erupted under one vehicle, killing Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, 20, and injuring two others. The surviving Marines turned their attention to a nearby residential area that some believed was the source of additional small-arms fire. While preparing their assault, five men pulled up in a white car. Wuterich shot them to death. According to one Marine's testimony, Wuterich told his comrades that they should tell investigators the men had been running away from the bomb; in fact, the Marine testified, the men were "just standing around," some with their hands raised and fingers interlocked over their heads. Wuterich and the others then attacked two homes with M-16s and fragmentation grenades. The situation degenerated into chaos; the homes filled with smoke and debris, and one Marine acknowledged shooting at "silhouettes." Others said their only indication that the homes were "hostile" was that their fellow Marines were shooting. A short time later, the Marine Corps released an official version of events: 15 Iraqis had been killed in the bombing, and the others had been killed in an ensuing firefight - none of which was true. At the court-martial proceedings, much of the debate centered on Marines' rules of engagement. A former officer who gave Wuterich the order to "clear" the area testified that he believed the nearby houses could be deemed "hostile" and that he expected the squad to "kill or capture the enemy I thought was in that building." The apparent end to the Haditha cases was hailed by many Marines, who noted that many of the people commenting on the case have never been in combat. In an interview from his home in Pennsylvania, the father of then-Lance Cpl. Justin L. Sharratt, one of the Marines whose charges were dropped, called the entire case "political persecution." "It is a tragedy that occurred there," Darryl Sharratt said. "But those Marines were using their rules of engagement." "The people making these decisions have been there," Siegel said. "And they know how it changes you." Other experts, however, expressed amazement at what they described as a flawed prosecution. For instance, the military issued $2,500 condolence payments to victims' relatives - and then said those payments had tainted witnesses' accounts. Military prosecutors also granted immunity to Marines in exchange for their testimony, but still failed to win convictions. "From the perspective that 24 civilians, including women and children were killed ... and all that happens is one noncommissioned [officer] pleads guilty to what appears to be a very inconsequential offense, that makes us look bad," said David Glazier, a former Navy surface warfare officer who teaches international and national security law at Loyola Law School. The failure of the Haditha prosecution will reverberate for years in Iraq, Samer Muscati, Human Rights Watch's Iraq researcher, said in an interview from Baghdad. With the withdrawal of American troops, U.S. officials are trying to implement democratic reform and root out widespread human rights abuses among Iraqi security forces. That could prove difficult, Muscati said, if Americans can't demonstrate that they practice what they preach. "We're at a crossroads right now in Iraq," he said. "The impact of this is huge." -Tony Perry,Carol J William and Scott Gold, LAT times Link -
  15. The Arab League summit, scheduled in Baghdad in March, looked increasingly in doubt for the second consecutive year amid reports that an Arab League delegation visit was put off and that some Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states are calling for its postponement By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief Published: 16:15 January 24, 2012 Manama: The Arab League summit, scheduled for Baghdad in March, looked increasingly in doubt for the second consecutive year amid reports that an Arab League delegation visit was put off and that some Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states are calling for its postponement. According to a report in a Kuwaiti daily, three GCC countries are spearheading a move to convince the other three fellow members of the alliance to join them in the call to put off the summit by at least three months. A unified GCC stance would later push for support among the other Arab countries not to have the Baghdad summit in March. The report said that the GCC states cited security concerns, the political crisis in the country and the inability to put up a comprehensive agenda that would focus on the latest developments in Syria. A visit by the assistant secretary-general of the Arab League to discuss the preparations for holding the summit scheduled for Monday was postponed to January 30. Ahmad Bin Hilli attributed the one-week delay to the fact that the Arab League was busy with emergency meetings on the crisis in Syria and the implementation of the Arab foreign ministers’ decisions. Bin Hilli said that he would lead a massive delegation to the Iraqi capital, Qatari daily Al Sharq reported on Tuesday. Baghdad has repeatedly said that it was keen on its summit and that it was ready to host all delegations Link -
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