Saturday, February 12, 2022

Lavender Country and Pusha T

Interesting article about Lavender Country, a 70s band that recorded the first known gay-themed country album.  From ASBURY PARK PRESS:

Decades before the likes of Brandi Carlile, Orville Peck and Trixie Mattel worked to raise the visibility of LGBTQ artists in the roots, folk and Americana music scenes, Patrick Haggerty gave the world Lavender Country.

Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Haggerty's 1973 self-titled LP under the Lavender Country banner is generally considered to be the first openly gay country album.

Nearly half a century later, it still sounds bracingly intimate and modern, the unvarnished musings from a member of the Stonewall generation.

But Haggerty, now 78, said he hears something different.

"Most people talk about how brave it was to make the album, blah, blah, blah, that whole thing," he said. "What I hear in my voice in the original Lavender Country (album) is fear. I was scared out of my mind. I was making an album and I didn’t know what I was doing."

By 1975, Lavender Country had disbanded. Nevertheless, Haggerty and his work found a following in the 21st century.

And they are about to release a new album.

And in other music news, let me note Pusha T's new video ''Diet Coke."

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, February 11, 2022.  NYT decides 19 years of an illegal war is enough.  (It's a position many of us reached before the war started and that many more recahced in the first few years of the illegal war, but, hey, NYT is n't noted for its courage or keen intelligence.)

In this morning's NEW YORK TIMES, Trita Parsi and

U.S. troops in Iraq quietly thwarted two separate drone attacks on bases hosting American soldiers in the first week of 2022. The attacks, attributed to Iraqi Shiite militias, are no surprise: America’s presence in Iraq is increasingly unwelcome. More attacks are bound to come as long as the Biden administration decides to keep forces there. With each passing day, the risk of a deadly attack increases.

And for what?

The presence of U.S. troops won’t stop terrorist attacks from happening and they can’t contain Iran, which has cemented its hold on some Iraqi military institutions since 2003. American soldiers are likely to die in vain because, just as in Afghanistan, they have been given the impossible task of acting as an ephemeral thumb on the scale of a foreign country’s politics.

Americans must ask themselves: Is this worth it? The United States withdrew from Afghanistan last year because its presence there no longer served its interests. Neither does staying in Iraq.

The U.S. experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq made painfully clear that there is no magic number of American troops that can eradicate terrorism. The roughly 2,500 in Iraq certainly cannot. While Washington’s foreign policy establishment wrings its hands about the risks of leaving, it appears to be ignoring the clear costs of staying.

An argument for ending the illegal war and occupation -- ongoing war, ongoing occupation --- from the belly of the beast.  THE NEW YORK TIMES pimped the Iraq War, they cheerleaded it on.  They ran with false links between al Qaeda and Iraq.  They did stenography on what turned out to be non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction.  Bill Keller, Judith Miller, Thomas Friedman, Michael Gordon, those are only some of the names of people who did war proaganda.  Don't forget serial plagiarist Jill Abramson who, after the illegal war started and was obviously not the cake walk so many had promised, suddenly had 'objections' to pieces that had been long ago published.  Jill,  whose grip on reality has always been tenuous, was in a position where she could hae halted the publication of those type of storeis or demanded more background be included as well as more skepitiscm but she waived them through and then pretended to be powerless when it was obvious that the Iraq War would go down as one of the paper's all time worst moments.

They sold the war.  Over and over.  And as we noted repeatedly during the early years of the illegal war, is was their Go-Go Boys and their lying 'coverage' that kept the Iraq War going.  Burnsie and Dexy.  A special place in hell for those two?  A table for three with Mad Maddy Albright? 

The paper sold the illegal war.  They sold it and over a million Iraqis are dead as are Americans, British, Australians, . . .  They sold the war and its the American taxpayer that is footing the bill.  And not just this generation's taxpayer, but many generations to come.

It was cute, when Doanld Trump was in the White House, to watch outlets like NYT -- outlets who had lied the country into war -- get peevish over when exactly Donald Trump turned against the war -- before it started or in the early days after it started?

They wanted to lecture and to fact check.  To lecture and fact check Donald Trump, you understand.  Not themselves.

Forced into finally issuing some sort of statement after (a) Howard Kurtz had written a major piece on THE WASHINGTON POST's pre-war coverage and (b) NYT public editor Daniel Okrent had done a review on his own (the paper was opposed to that review -- Daniel did it because of The Tonys, I'm not joking, we can give that sotry at another time, we're already lost in parenthetical and we've told it here before), the paper issued a brief statement and insisted that there would be more to come as they looked at that pre-war coverage.

Bill Keller was always a liar.  There was no more coverage examining the paper's lies.

So what we learn today is the time line.  And it matters.  It matters because they're trying to sell war on Russia right now.  So, should they get their desire and that war start, we now know at what point they'll allow calls for US troops to leave -- 19 years later.  We're one month shy of the 20th anniversary. 

So 19 years is their level of 'endurance.'  

A hellish amount of damage and destruction has been done in Iraq in those 19 years.

Even now, 19 years later, the column can't be honest.  It's sections on the Iraqi government are laughable at best.  (We didn't quote them above.)  It's not  a functioning government.  The corrpution index issued annually by Tranparency International makes that clear.  Or should.  The inability to defend its own citizens make that clear.  

Could democracy have taken root in Iraq -- democracy as the US swdinwa ir?  I don't know.  Anything can happen.  But the steps they took esnured that it wouldn't.

And one of the biggest hallmarks of democracy?  Voting.  One person, one vote.

Iraq's election turnout?  It's faltered and decreased steadily since the March 2010 election.

The western press pretends not to notice -- even after the debacle that was the October 2021 elections.

But it was US actions that ensured that Iraqis would not have faith in the ballot box.  They went into 2010 with Nouri al-Maliki seeking a second term as prime minister.  He claimed he would win -- and he instituted a series of actions (bribes) to try to ensure that -- not limited to his ice giveaway that was mocked by most Iraqis on social media.  "We're despearte for potable water," the response went, "and he has a big block of ice transported to our area that qucikly melts.  Water for a day! Yea!"

He worked overtime to eliminate his rivals.  He'd sought a secret ruling ahead of the elections from Iraq's Supreme Court that he kept in his back pocket in case he lost (he did lose).  

Alone among the US government watchers, Gen Ray Odierno could see (a) that Nouri might lose and (b) that if he did lose, he might refuse to step down.

The late general looks like a psychic in retrospect.  

His concerns were ignored because Barack Obama nd Joe Biden were appeasing spoiled brat Chrissy Hill, the US Ambassador to Iraq.  Little Chrissy was upset that the Sundy chat and chews had Ray on.  Chrissy felt it should be him.  And the press didn't note him, they went after Ray.  Jealous, he had a snit-fit and Ray's role was scaled back.

But Ray was right.

Iraqis didn't want a second term of Nouri -- his secret prisons and torture chambers were already known.  They went with Ayad  Allawi's Iraqiya.  

This was a major moment -- as we noted here repeatedly in real time.

A) It could show the Iraqi people the importance of the ballot box.  It could.  It could strengthen their belief in voting and in the power of voting.  B) Iraqiys was the step forward that both Iraq and the US needed.

Iraq needed it because Iraqiys was about healing.  It had Shias and Sunnis and everyone.  It wasn't a fundamentalist party.  At a time when women were largely invisible, IRaqiya had a female spokesperson.  It was about a national identity.  It was about coming together, not about divisions.

This really could have helped heal the country and allow it to move forward.

And that would have been good for the US because  it would have argued for the departure of US troops.

So much could have been accomplished.  

But reality flew out the window.  It did so after the election, the day after, in fact.  Quil Lawrence showed up on NPR to declare Nouri the winner.  He wasn't.  There were no tallies ore stimates.  But, hey, Quil's a whore and whore's gotta make bank.  Deborah Amos was on sabatical from NPR at that time and she used that time to write one of the best studies of the 2010 voting -- including the corruption -- corruption NPR and so many other outlets ignored.  

But, hey, Quil called it so it must be true.

Originally, the approach of Joe (tasked with overseeing Iraq by Barack) was that the US stood with the winner.  Tht would be Allawi and Iraqiya.

But then Samantha Power and Susan Davis got very vocal and insisted that Allawi would mean US troops had to leave when the current SOFA expired.  A second term of Nouri al-Maliki?  The insisted Nouri would go for renewing the SOFA.  (The SOFA gave US troops the legal right to be on Iraqi soil and carrying out combat missions.)

Nouri refused to step down.  Eight months after the election.  He refused to step down.  The government ground to standstill.

Joe and Brett McGurk were at the top of overseeing The Erbil Agreement.  This was the legal contract that gve loser Nouri a second term.  Parick Cockburn, the laughable US transplant who needs to go home, loves to play expert on Iraq but he never once, to this day, covered The Erbil Agreement.

This US overseen contract gave Nouri a second term.  The heads of the various political blocs signed off on it.  Why?  They got something in the contract in exchange.  So, for the Kurds, Article  140 would finally be put to a vote.  Now that was supposed to happen during Nouri's first term.  Remember that, we'll be back to it.

Everyone was promised something.

The day after the agreement was signed, Parliament met and finally named Nouri prime minister-designate.  It was obvious there were huge problems from that moment, that very moment.  Iraqiya walked out.  Barac personally called Ayad Allawi and begged him to bring Iraqiya back into the Parliament.  He told Allawi that The Erbil Agreement had the full backing of the US government.

He said it.

He lied.

Allawi believed him and Iraqiya returned.

Article 140 would need to be pushed back a bit.  That's what the prime minister-designate said.  There were announcements of an end of December referendum.  Didn't happen.  And never would.  To this day.

We mocked the Kurdish leaders over this.

Nouri took an oath to uphold the Iraqi Constitution.  It specifically called for Article 140 to be implemented before his first term ended.  He didn't implement it. Why the hell did they believe his promise that 'this time' he'd implement it?

It was a big mistake.

And not just for the Kurds, for everyone invovled.  

Within seven or so weeks, Nouri was announcing -- through his psokesperson (the one who later had to flee the country when Nouri turned on him) -- that the contrtact wasn't legal.  Of course, he'd already become prime minister by that point.

He said he wasn't bound by it.

And he never honored it.

And Barack with his promise that the US government was behind it 100%?  He refused to take Allawi's calls.  

Iraq voted for a national identity, that's why the brand new Iraqiya managed to defeat the incumbent Nouri in the 2010 elections.  And the US spat on that choice.  And they overturned the votes. 

And since that election, you've seen voter turnout in Iraq decrease steadily.

If you're surprised by that, you weren't paying attention.

Cause and effect.

In other news, Amnesty Interantional notes:

Amnesty International and Fat Rat Films have today released a new documentary that highlights the ongoing struggles faced by Yezidi former child soldiers who survived abduction by the Islamic State (IS) armed group.

The 12-minute film, Captives on the Frontlines: Yezidi former child soldiers who survived ISIS, explores the friendship between Vian and Barzan, two young men who were abducted as boys by IS in 2014, indoctrinated into the armed group, and forced to fight. Both escaped and are now living in northern Iraq, where the documentary was filmed last year.

“This film captures the challenges still faced by Yezidi former child soldiers, and also the friendships that have flourished in the most difficult of circumstances,” said Nicolette Waldman, Researcher on Children and Armed Conflict on Amnesty International’s Crisis Response team.

“Former child soldiers are routinely stigmatized, which means their harrowing experiences are frequently kept in the shadows. By bravely sharing their own stories so openly, Vian and Barzan have helped shine a light on the struggles that remain for Yezidi former child soldiers today. Many of these young men, having endured unimaginable trauma, continue to have serious physical and mental health conditions.

“To date, many Yezidi survivors have still not received adequate support for their physical health, mental health or education. Indeed, many have not received support of any kind since they returned to their communities.

“The Iraqi authorities, their international partners, and the United Nations must ensure that Yezidi former child soldiers have full access to the reparations and assistance to which they are entitled under Iraq’s Yazidi Survivors Law (2021).

“They must also work together to establish a National Action Plan mandating that all current and former child soldiers in Iraq, including Yezidi boys and young men, are reintegrated into society and provided with coordinated, specialized and long-term support.”

The documentary was made in collaboration with award-winning documentary production company Fat Rat Films, and will be available here ahead of the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers on Saturday 12 February.

Captives on the frontlines: Yezidi child soldiers who survived ISIS – the new documentary from Amnesty International and Fat Rat Films.

Between 2014 and 2017, IS committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, and what the UN describes as genocide against the Yezidi community in Iraq.

In July 2020, Amnesty International published a report that documented how Yezidi children who had returned to their families after being held captive by IS were facing a physical and mental health crisis. The report, Legacy of Terror: The Plight of Yezidi Child Survivors of ISIS, also addresses the urgent need to end the enforced separation of Yezidi women and their children born of sexual violence by IS members.

In November 2021, Amnesty International welcomed new regulations passed by Iraq’s parliament to implement the Yazidi Survivors Law, but warned that more work was still required in order to fully assist survivors of atrocities committed by IS.

We'll wind down with this from Restore The Fourth:

Restore the Fourth Logo: Flag with black and red stripes and a blue square that says


We did it—with your help! This week the IRS announced that it had abandoned its plans to partner with to force some taxpayers to use facial recognition technology in order to access their tax documents. You helped us put the pressure on the IRS and roll back their plans before tax season really took off—preventing potentially millions of Americans from having their biometric data recorded and stored in's private database.

Let’s keep that momentum up! The IRS is not the only government agency that has contracted with—other federal agencies that have contracts with this infamous FRT company include Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration as well as 30 state unemployment offices. This is unacceptable. Let’s demand ALL government agencies drop We cannot continue to sit idly by while builds a huge, private database of our personal biometric information.

Consider supporting the work we do by making a donation here.

The following sites updated:

Thursday, February 10, 2022



That's Adele from earlier this week at the Brit Awards performing "I Drink Wine."  

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, February 10, 2022. with all the problems Iraq is facing, the Iraqi people really can't afford the ongoing political stalemate.

In Iraq, there's still no government.  There are, however, ridicuslous stories insisting that the Parliament is managing things just fine.  


The Parliament has a clear role, the three presidencies have a role and the prime minister (and the council) have a clear role.  We have seen, for example, biased bills work their way through the Parliament and be blocked by the President or one of the vice presidents.  One component of government cannot function on its own.  Pretending otherwise is lying.  

RUDAW notes:

The second largest lake in Iraq has dried up, threatening people's income and agriculture, with locals saying they have been forced to abandon their homes and move to urban areas.

Milh Lake was once a popular destination for tourists to cool down during scorching summer temperatures. It is now experiencing a dangerous drought, threatening the lives of local Iraqis.

The second-largest lake in Iraq, also known as Razzaza Lake, is located west of the city of Karbala.

Water levels here have plummeted and the once-thriving touristic spot currently resembles a desert. The only things to see now are dead animals and large amounts of salt.

How is the Parliament addressing the climate crisis in Iraq?  It's not.  It can't.  It doesn't have the powers needed to address it all by itself.  Without a functioning government, there's not even a pretense of forward movement on the battle against climate change.  

Back in July, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent noted:

The Iraqi marshlands are a wetland with a unique ecosystem at the junction of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers.  

In the early 1990s, these marshlands were intentionally dried up as a means of retaliation against a population considered to be rebellious.

By 2001, an estimated 90 per cent of the marshlands had disappeared (UNEP), leading to a loss of biodiversity and large-scale displacement.

If you go back even further to the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, iconic date palms were cut down for military purposes in places like Fao, south of Basra.

“There were more than 30 million palms before the Iran-Iraq war, today there’s less than half that number,” said Adel Al-Attar, an ICRC water and habitat advisor, from Basra.

“Conflict, neglect, soil salinity, there are several reasons that have contributed towards their loss. It is deeply upsetting. The whole atmosphere has changed since we lost the palms.

“They aren’t only about fruit. They give shade for certain crops. The leaves are used to make furniture like chairs and beds. No palms mean no business. So people have left the land and moved to the cities to find jobs.”

The loss of palms and the drying of the marshlands are visible reminders of the direct damage that war has inflicted upon the environment in southern Iraq.

Less visible, but arguably more detrimental, are the indirect consequences of war – whether in Iraq or anywhere else.

For example, conflict will often weaken a government’s ability to manage natural resources, the environment and infrastructure.

Remnants of war, such as unexploded weapons or anti-personnel mines, can render land unusable and harm wildlife, while camps for people uprooted by conflict place additional pressure on the surrounding environment.

Enter climate change

Average temperatures in Iraq have risen by at least 0.7C over the last century, while extreme heat is becoming more frequent. Rainfall is on a slight downward trend in the south-east of the country.

The mean annual temperature is projected to rise by 2C by 2050, while the mean annual rainfall is projected to decrease by 9 per cent (World Bank Group).

“I’ve lived in Basra all my life,” said Al-Attar. “As a boy, the summer temperature never went much beyond 40C in summer. Today, it can surpass 50C.”

Sand or dust storms have also increased dramatically in frequency, in large part due to soil degradation.

Between 1951-1990, there were an average of 24 days per year with dust storms in Iraq, compared to 122 in 2013 (UN). Again, projections suggest they are likely to increase.

“When there’s not enough rain or vegetation, the upper layers of earth become less compact, meaning the chance of dust or sandstorms increases,” explained Al-Attar.

“These weather events contribute to desertification. Fertile soil is turning into desert.” 

Historically fertile areas in southern Iraq are disappearing, according to local authorities. In Fao, arable land has decreased from 7.5 sq km to 3.75 sq km, while in Thi Qar it has dropped from 100 sq km to just 12.5 sq km. 

Desertification in the south has decimated the agricultural sector, which used to employ a sizeable part of the population.

When people are unable to depend on the land for their livelihoods, they migrate to urban areas like Basra or Najaf in the search for jobs.

As an example, the population of the port town of Fao has decreased from 400,000 to 50,000 people in four decades as people move to the larger cities.

“The future is emigration,” said Al-Attar. “It hurts when you see the younger generation leaving rural areas to go work in unskilled labor jobs in urban areas or in the oil fields.

“There aren’t enough jobs for them in these sectors. Unemployment is high, as are tensions, which doesn’t bode well for recovery and stability.” 

Last month, THE NEWSHOUR (PBS) reported on climate change in Iraq:

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    In November, nearly 200 nations gathered in Glasgow, Scotland for the COP26 climate summit. The outcome was disappointing for experts, who wanted stronger commitments to ensure capping global warming. The conference also failed to ease vulnerable countries' concerns about long-promised climate financing from rich nations.

    One of the countries lacking international support is Iraq. As NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Simona Foltyn reports, the country is already facing the alarming effects of climate change.

    This story is part of our ongoing series, "Peril & Promise: The Challenge of Climate Change."

  • Simona Foltyn:

    Sunrise in Iraq's Mesopotamian marshes. These historic wetlands are nestled in southern Iraq, where human civilization emerged 7,000 years ago.

    But water scarcity is threatening this habitat and the humans who rely on it.

  • Jassem Ali, Fisherman:

    There's no water. And if there's no water, there's no more fish. There's only bare land left. The water has dried.

  • Simona Foltyn:

    In this area, average annual rainfall for the last twenty years was 10 percent lower than in the three decades prior.

    Declining water levels means the water that is left is increasingly salty , making it largely unfit for humans, animals and vegetation alike. Only small fish survive here now, but they fetch a lower price for the fishermen. Their catch earned them $15 dollars each, the result of two days of hard work.

  • Hassoun Daoud, Fisherman:

    Of course this is not enough. I have a family that depends on me. But this is our life now.

  • Jassem Ali, Fisherman:

    I have four children sitting at home. Two are married and two aren't.

  • Simona Foltyn:

    I ask Jassem Ali if he's thinking about leaving fishing to find work elsewhere.

    "And do what?" he asks in return.

  • Also last month, ALJAZEERA noted, "The World Bank recently warned Iraq would be hit particularly hard by climate change, with a significant effect on the economy and employment.  The country could suffer a 20 percent drop in water resources by 2050, with nearly one-third of the irrigated land in Iraq left parched."

    This is a pressing issue, not something to shove on the backburner but that's what's happening.  In fact, every thing is being shoved on the back burner in Iraq as the country remains without a president or prime minister.  No, the Parliament can't rule the country by itself.  It's not how it works, it's not how it's set up.  There are many issues that need to be addressed daily and they aren't being addressed.

    This week, HURRIYET reported:

    A report prepared by the European Union draws attention to the possibility of conflict due to water sharing between Turkey, Syria and Iraq in the Euphrates-Tigris basin as a result of global climate change.

    Striking findings regarding the future period have been included in the research titled “Climate Change and Water Report for the Tigris and Euphrates Basin” prepared by the European Union Cascades project.

    This study examines future impacts of climate change on water resources and the ensuing economic and political challenges in the Euphrates-Tigris basin shared by the countries of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey.

    “More severe water shortages and water quality problems aggravated by climate change will make it harder to sustain farming and livelihoods depending on ecosystems.,” the report said.

    “A failure to mitigate climate-related water risks can contribute to poverty, food insecurity, and unemployment in rural farming communities, and eventually lead to displacement and internal migration at a larger scale than is seen today,” it added.

    Noting that climate change would complicate and aggravate water-related challenges that are already significant in the region, especially in Iraq and Syria, the report said that the incurred economic losses would reduce the government’s resources for an adequate adaptation response.

    A problem of that magnitude needs a comprehensive strategy and, no, Parliament can't devise and implement that.  

    Karwan Faidhi Dri (RUDAW) reports:                                                                             

     Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court said on Wednesday that it will meet on Sunday to hear the case against the Kurdistan Democratic Party's (KDP) candidate for the Iraqi presidency, as reported by state media. 

    The court decided on Sunday to temporarily suspend the KDP’s Hoshyar Zebari’s nomination for the Iraqi presidency after a number of parliamentarians filed a case against him. Zebari has said he respects the ruling.

    The legislature was scheduled to meet on Monday to elect a new president for the country. However, the meeting was postponed indefinitely because a quorum of two-thirds attendance was not met as the prominent political parties, including the KDP, boycotted the session.

    Iraq held snap parliamentary elections on October 10. The speaker of parliament was elected last month following a deal between Kurdistan Region’s ruling KDP, Sadrist bloc and most Sunnis. 

    The KDP has fielded Zebari, who has previously held several positions in Baghdad, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) has nominated the incumbent Iraqi President Barham Salih for the position. Both candidates are the strongest by far.

    There's some misunderstanding regarding Zebari's run.  It has not been blocked or stopped.  It's halted while the court reviews matters.   

    Former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki often used bodies like the court to circumvent candidates who were rivals.  Many times, they'd be cleared by whatever body.  But his point was to cause problems for those candidates.  Here?  If he's a part of this, he most likely knows Zebari stands a very good chance of being cleared.  The oint of this would be to demonstrate to Moqtada's alliance how unprepared Moqtada is and how he is unable to handle basic politics which is why the October 10th elections have still not resulted in a prime minister or president.

    The point of the move is to frustrate Moqtada's alliance and to make them question Moqtada's leadership.  

    Iraqi-Kurdish politician Hoshyar Zebari's bid to run for the presidency faces a major hurdle, dealing a blow to kingmaker Moqtada al-Sadr's ambitions to form a government without Iran's allies.

    Ibrahim al-Zoebeidi (ARAB WEEKLY) offers:

    Current Iraqi realities demonstrate that the country's political arena is devoid of a leader who can unite Iraqis across party lines and beyond selfish calculations. Realities also show that Moqtada al-Sadr is not the person who can fulfil the dreams of the few who voted for him.

    For those who have forgotten them, it is useful to recall the confessions of Qais Khazali, a dissident leader from the Sadrist movement, to US forces when they arrested him in 2007.

    According to his interrogation file, of June 18, 2007, Khazali confirmed that his repeated visits to Iran in company with Sadr and later alone as Moqtada's envoy, were aimed at obtaining money, weapons and political support from Tehran.

    Khazali said that Sadr wanted him to be the channel of communication with Iran and to receive funding from Tehran while he, Sadr, maintained the appearance of independence from Iran.

    Further fleshing out this reality, recent electoral statistics have shown that the total number of those who voted for the Sadrist movement, the Coordination Framework groups, the Muhammad al-Halbousi bloc and Khamis al-Khanjar, and the party of Massoud Barzani, does not exceed ten percent of the overall population of Iraq.

    This means that the number of those under the influence of the current political leaders does not exceed two million Iraqis at best, many of whom were driven by need, fear, or racial, sectarian or regional loyalties. The remaining 29 million Iraqis are just fence-sitting. They are simply watching while the battles for the winners and losers rage on.

    There is more than meets the eye in the political class and what it means for Iraqi society.

    What the bloody uprisings have proven, since 2003, is that the Iraqi Shia popular constituencies, in particular, are unhappy with the pro-Iranian political class in power. They consider it a duty to resist that class, to work to bring it down and to get rid of its corruption.

    We'll note this Tweet:

    A close associate of the leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, revealed on Wednesday that the decision to exclude the leader of the State of Law coalition, Nuri al-Maliki in the new government, "will not be retracted" regardless of Iranian pressures.

    He's arguably Iraq's best-known face abroad. Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd, was the country's longest-serving foreign minister, often hobnobbing with Western diplomats and journalists, but also cultivating strong ties with neighboring Arab states to make his country's case.

    But a bid to crown his political career with a run for the presidency faced a major hurdle last week when Iraq's federal court suspended his candidacy due to past corruption charges, causing an election delay that risks exacerbating existing factional divisions.
    The presidential election was indefinitely postponed on Monday, stalling the already delayed formation of a new government. The results of October's parliamentary vote, in which pro-Iran factions were dealt a significant loss, were only confirmed in December due to political bickering over the results. A new president would be tasked with asking the winning bloc to form a government.
      The suspension was a blow to the ambitions of Zebari's key backer Moqtada al-Sadr, the populist Shiite Muslim cleric who has emerged as a kingmaker and is bent on pushing through a government that excludes his pro-Iran Shiite rivals. 

      The following sites updated: