Othman holds state of law the responsible of the crisis between the center and the province.
BAGHDAD / Nina / The independent MP, Mahmoud Othman held the " state of law coalition the responsibility of the current political crisis between the central government and the province, due to the lack of commitment to the agreements between the blocs as he put it.
He said in a statement to the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / that the current political stagnation and growing problems among blocs, will affect the general situation in the country.
He explained that adoption the budget, in the absence of Kurdish component; affected the relationship between the Kurdistan and the federal government and increased tensions and problems between them. "
He expressed his astonishment of "the actions of the state of law coalition, noting that they are talking about their desire to solve problems from one hand, and on the other refusing to cooperate with the province to resolve the outstanding problems, including the budget law and many other topics.
It is mentioned that Kurdistan Alliance said that passing the federal budget, without the presence of any Kurdish lawmaker, is an indication of the end of the era of the national partnership.
The coalition spokesman MP, Mo'aid al-Tayyib said in a press statement that "the foundations of the political process, from the beginning, were based on compatibility, balance and partnership, and we started noting that there is a clear breach to many critical and important issues," adding that "passing the budget, without Kurdish lawmaker, is a serious indicator to the end of the era of national partnership, which is a fixed principle , not in the current Iraqi constitution, but even in the old constitutions of Iraq, which stipulated that Kurds and Arab are partners in the homeland. "
He added that "the cause, of what is going on, is prejudice to the foundations of partnership and balance, as well as the lack of confidence and respect for agreements with the Kurdistan Regional Government." He pointed out that "during the meeting, held by the President of the Kurdistan region with the representatives of the Kurdish blocs in the federal government and the House of Representatives, yesterday a decision was taken to invite Kurdish Ministers and Deputy Prime Minister in the federal government to consult in order to make a crucial decision in the coming days.
The House of Representatives had voted on Thursday, in the presence of 168 deputies, on the state budget for the current year in a clear absence of Kurds MPs and some of Iraqiya MPs.
World Bank calls on Iraq to redouble their efforts for the development of the banking sector and attract foreign investment
BAGHDAD / obelisk: World Bank called for the Iraqi government, on Monday, to redouble their efforts for the development of the banking sector and regulations in the financial trading of Iraq, as a prelude to mobilize all sectors of the economy and investment .
The expert said the oldest in the affairs of private sector development at the World Bank Stephen ريمير, who is visiting Iraq at the head of a delegation from the Bank experts, for "obelisk", "The World Bank provided advice and assistance and advice to Iraqi banks and working on plans developed and are waiting to reach officials from that to real serious steps, "noting that" the World Bank touching a genuine desire on the Iraqi side to develop its accounting and banking systems " .
He added that "the plans relating to correct laws and regulations that limit the development of the private sector, including the banking sector, and this will ensure that the Iraqi side a positive change in the rates of investment and the entry of foreign capital into the country," pointing out that "large foreign companies is encouraged as required for work and investment in Iraq because of a lack of safeguards in place globally " .
Mentions that the World Bank is implementing an extensive plan in collaboration with the Iraqi banking sector include the development of a modern mechanism to restructure banks in cooperation with international experts in this field since 2009.
Smelting bin Laden: senior Iraqi politicians secretly منتمون base and sectarian war will not break out the presence of al-Maliki
12-03-2013 | (Voice of Iraq)
Admitted Suleiman Abu Ghaith son-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on the base lines in the world and in particular in Iraq. Reports indicate that Suleiman Abu Ghaith, a spokesman of al-Qaeda or the so-called Minister informed already submitted during the preliminary investigation with him after his arrest in Jordan on his way to Turkey intelligence information from the base lines.
The information made by Abu Ghaith told U.S. intelligence about the involvement of politicians senior Iraqi belonging secret base. Elsewhere said editor of strategic Christopher Brian, that growing fears of outbreak of sectarian war in Iraq remain weak in the presence of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in power. Brian believes that the majority of Iraqis want Maliki to stay in power and in his analysis that summarizes the sectarian war will be a reality if successful year to bring down the government, given that the alternative is not a strongly-Maliki.
Federal veto laws "hate-Maliki" within days
12-03-2013 | (Voice of Iraq)
BAGHDAD / Mohammad Sabah
A judicial source said a senior "long" yesterday, said that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki asked the President of the Federal Court Judge Medhat al-Mahmoud veto legal "defining the mandates of the three presidencies" and "Supreme Judicial Council," adding that "this will be another important Mahmoud before retiring" .
For its part, warned of the Legal Committee in the House of Representatives, on Monday, President of the Federal Court of manipulating the laws and legal attempt to overturn the mandate of the three presidencies and the Supreme Judicial Council. And threatened members of the Committee to take action "deterrent and a surprise" if they underwent the Federal Court to pressure Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
The Deputy change Kurdish bloc that the best solution to prevent the executive branch interference elimination work is "no confidence" for al-Maliki, blaming the Sadrist movement this responsibility because of its political and parliamentary weight.
But a deputy of the Liberal bloc Vest acknowledged the inability of Parliament to hold Ministers as well as the prime minister, stressing that the next parliamentary sessions will see corrected a lot of mistakes.
Article 72 of the Permanent Constitution to determine "the mandate of President four years and may be re-elected for a second term only," but the Constitution launched mandate major government and parliament do not specify, which demanded political blocs Bhzarethma in two also like the Presidency, where Council voted Representatives majority early last January a law defining the mandates of the three presidencies two only two states and "retroactively". Law was passed despite a boycott by Congress coalition of state law that threatened to appeal to the Constitutional Court.
Commenting on this, said Rep. Nabil Hrbo, the Iraqi List, said that "legal veto determine the three states and the Supreme Judicial Council is not ruled out by the Federal Court."
Added Hrbo, in a statement to "long" yesterday that "a lot of democratic countries define the mandates of the three presidencies in order to move away from every form of dictatorships that target rights and freedoms and that's what we are afraid of the new Iraq."
The MP warned the Iraqi Turkmen list of "relapse situation in the country in the event of veto determine law States by Medhat Mahod".
And continued a member of the legal committee "in the event of the feet of the Federal Court on appeal to these laws, it gives a clear message to all the politicians and the people that our court work by order of the executive branch, specifically by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, and thus deprived the will and decision."
And the position of the Iraqi allies in the event of veto laws mentioned, said Hrbo "There will be bold steps", adding that "the legal committee of parliamentary met with the political blocs, which voted on these laws, and decided to develop legal procedures deterrent to any challenge or overturn the law or paragraphs against Federal Court. "
The Federal warned Hrbo court of gaining access to so options to manipulate the Acts, which he described options illegal and unconstitutional, pointing out that "the Federal Court has challenged a lot of laws approved by the House of Representatives and the latest law to reduce the salaries of the three presidencies."
And exposed the Federal Court Chief Justice Medhat al-Mahmoud accused to undergo interventions by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, especially after reversing the decision ablation issued by the Justice and Accountability mid-February against Mahmood.
In the meantime, MP Latif Mustafa, for the mass change of Kurdistan, "government interference in the work of the judiciary is a constitutional violation and a crime in itself."
Mustafa said, in an interview for the "long" yesterday that "Parliament does not have the regulatory power that guaranteed him by the Constitution to hold the government accountable for breaching and illegal interventions" and attributed this weakness to Parliamentary "government support it receives from the regional countries."
But Mustafa believes that "the only solution to prevent tampering with the laws lies in the withdrawal of confidence in Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki after the accountability for these violations and interventions."
And stresses MP for mass change that "Liberal bloc thoracic able to play a major role in the firings of Maliki from his being a touchstone in the political process," pointing out that "the political blocs can collect 163 signatures to topple Maliki and thus is able to put an end to its interventions in regard judicial. "
The attention that the "ball is now in Parliament Square and political bloc, which has reservations about the performance of the government, to stand against this that will try to challenge the law determine which of the three presidencies flawless legal."
So see Prince Kanani, MP for the Liberal bloc, said that "Parliament is unable to confront violations and government interventions in the moment, and therefore we can not dismiss Maliki," referring to "the existence of many abuses and interventions in the work of independent bodies that are affiliated According to the constitution of the House of Representatives" .
Warned a senior lawmaker from the Sadr bloc head of the Federal Court of "veto determine the law of the three presidencies at this particular time because it is something unacceptable to many of the political blocs."
Iraq's Kurds are looking to Turkey and the West, and think of the future without Iraq
12-03-2013 | (Voice of Iraq)
In a private school for the elite in Iraqi Kurdistan, children learn Turkish and English language before English. And dreams of university students jobs in Europe, not in Baghdad. And local businessmen say they do not like working in any other place, because the areas that fall outside the control of Kurdish security is stable.
Kurds directing their attention to Turkey and the West at the expense of relations with the rest of the country that suffer degradation. Kurdish leaders say they want to remain part of Iraq, but perhaps driven by increasingly bitter disputes over oil and land towards secession. And summarizes Falah Mustafa, head of the Department of Foreign Relations of the Kurdistan Regional Government, the relationship by saying «It is not a sacred bond of marriage must endure.
Kurdish youth, who did not try direct rule Baghdad, wants to break sooner rather than later. He was born more than half of the region's population, totaling 5.3 million, after 1991 when it was imposing a no-fly zone led Western, making the rule of Kurds possible for the first time by protecting the region from Saddam Hussein. And confirms students at the University of Ceyhan in Erbil they feel that they are Kurds, not Iraqi, and that corruption was rampant in Iraq and sectarian violence and political stalemate hinder progress of the Kurdistan region. Blend Azad says, architecture student of 20 years: «I want to see an independent Kurdistan .. If we have been with them, Fsnsubh in a bad situation like them and will not become free.
According to a lengthy report, told Associated Press, the region has seen a major shift over the past decade. The capital Arbil someday look like a big village, but today it has become a city with 1.3 million inhabitants, and began skyscrapers and five-star hotels appear, and construction cranes began running the horizon. Turning elite riding modern sports cars to large houses in new urban communities that bear the names have happened west of like the English village. And puts Erbil Airport shiny glass and metal Baghdad in an embarrassing situation. The number of hotels to 234, according to the governor Nawzad Hadi. It boasts Minister of Planning Ali Sindi, great retreat of illiteracy, poverty and unemployment rate during the past few years.
However, the Kurds have a lot of work, where the region needs to spend more than $ 30 billion in highway construction, schools and other necessary forms of infrastructure over the next decade, he explains Cindy. And there are strong feelings of discontent simmering beneath the surface amid fears of concentration of power in the hands of a few individuals. Opposition activists complain of government corruption, and said to Human Rights Watch that security forces arbitrarily arrested 50 journalists, activists and opposition in 2012.
While the central government has the authority to make the decision in relation to oil, Kurds say that to be entitled to their own energy policy, and accuse the government of stalling in negotiating a new deal for a sharing of oil revenues. The Kurds approved their own energy law and signed more than 50 agreement with foreign oil companies, offering better terms from Baghdad. The company began «Genel Energy, which operates in the field of oil in the region Kurdish oil trucking to Turkey during the month of January (January). And enjoys direct pipeline to be built of great strategic importance in the words of the Blue, a senior Kurdish official in the oil. Blu wondered, saying: 'Why create this line? Because we always face problems with Baghdad.
The project highlights the increasing presence of Turkey in the region, which represents a dramatic change from the past few years which witnessed tension in relations, against the backdrop of fighting Ankara PKK elements. Has established the need for each party to another new relationship. Turkey needs more oil to run its economy, which is expanding and prefer to buy oil from the Kurds to buy it from the government in Baghdad, where you see part of the axis of which is subject to opposing Iranian influence in the region. On the other hand, needs the Kurds to Turkey not only as an outlet for the export of oil, but also as a trading partner. And about half of the foreign companies working here almost, numbering 1,900 Turkish companies, as officials make clear. Also found that 70% of the annual Turkey trade with Iraq, which is estimated at $ 15 million, is with the Kurdistan region. In a sign of distinctive function of the status quo, are Turkish and English are the working languages of teaching in high-level private school in Erbil. The students began, totaling 351 students, studying the Kurdish language, which is the mother tongue of most of the students in the third grade. Arabic was introduced later, in the fourth row. The curriculum reflects the priorities of the founder of the school, belonging to the Turkmen minority, but also complies with Kurdish parents who believe that their children's future is linked to Turkey.
As problems with the heats of Baghdad, Kurdish officials say the secession of the region from Iraq is inevitable. Many dreams here the establishment of an independent Kurdish state, including parts of Syria, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and be home to more than 25 million Kurds. Mustafa says, External Relations Officer: «as a people, we deserve it. We would like to see this in our lifetime. But in light of opposition to key allies such as the United States and Turkey to the idea of dividing Iraq, Kurds say they will not act rashly or stubbornly. Asked if the Kurdistan region will declare independence soon being able to export oil directly, Mustafa replied: «will express that bridge when the blade.
By: Abdel Hamid Zebari for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse. Posted on March 11.
Through the ratification of the Iraqi Public Budget Law for the year 2013 in parliament based on the principle of "majority" rather than "consensus" — amid a Kurdish boycott of the parliamentary session — it seems that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has put difficult choices before the Iraqi Kurds, which may manifest in the coming days.
After the Iraqi Council of Representatives passed its 2013 budget law despite a boycott by Kurdish parliamentarians, the Kurdistan Regional Government is struggling to determine how it will pay foreign oil contracts, writes Abdel Hamid Zebari.
Maliki Leaves Kurds With Few Options
Author: Abdel Hamid Zebari
Translated by: Naria Tanoukhi
Categories :Originals Iraq
The Iraqi parliament approved on Thursday [March 7] the country’s general budget of $119 billion. The session was boycotted by Kurdish deputies, and had been delayed for weeks due to several disagreements, most notably over the payments of foreign oil companies operating in the Kurdistan region.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has asked the Iraqi government to pay the remaining dues of foreign companies, estimated at about $4.5 billion, while the federal government has only agreed to pay $750 million.
The dispute erupted in September 2012, after the Iraqi government paid around 650 billion Iraqi dinars [$558 million] out of 1 trillion [$858 million] owed, on condition that the Kurdistan region would produce 250,000 barrels of oil daily. Payment of the remaining dues was delayed, with the Iraqi government providing various excuses, prompting the Kurdistan region to stop the export of oil from the region’s wells through the Turkish Ceyhan line.
As soon as the federal budget law for this year was approved, the KRG announced its rejection of many sections of the law. It noted that the political parties that approved the law based on the principle of majority have overlooked the proposals and observations made by the Kurdistan region on the budget law, violated the rights of the people of Kurdistan and aborted the principle of national consensus and genuine partnership in power.
The KRG pledged to take all possible legal and constitutional action against this attempt, which aims to harm the interests and lives of the citizens of Iraqi Kurdistan.
The presidency of the Kurdistan region described the manner with which the budget law was passed as marginalization of a key component, a supposed founding partner of the political process and rebuilding the state, and a major ethnic group in determining the future of the country.
The position of the presidency of Kurdistan came after President of the Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani called for an urgent meeting of all members of the Kurdish bloc in the government and parliament in Erbil to discuss the issue.
A presidential statement declared that "in a remarkable step that reinforces division in the Iraqi national ranks and monopoly of political power and the country's leadership, the federal budget was passed by the State of Law coalition led by Maliki without taking into consideration a major nationalist point of view.”
The Kurdistan presidential statement adds: “As we are forced to take this position, which is open to all options, we hold the State of Law coalition, Maliki, and their collaborators responsible for what might ensue, and possible positions and developments.”
Maliki has put the Kurds in a difficult position in the face of foreign companies operating in the Kurdistan region, which are demanding their dues after having waited for a long time, especially since they had been promised by the KG that it would resolve its legal differences with Baghdad.
The KRG has so far signed 50 contracts with foreign companies, which have invested $15 billion to $20 billion in oil exploration and production in the region. However, these companies cannot export oil without the consent of Baghdad or use it in any way because the company in charge of oil export is the Iraqi Oil Marketing Organization(SOMO), and returns go to the Iraqi fund.
The proportion of the general budget allocated to the Kurdistan region is over 15 trillion Iraqi dinars [$12.9 billion] for 2013, according to the 17% quota set for it within the Iraqi public budget. Should the KRG pay the due payments to foreign companies, it would lose half the budget. This would also put the Kurdistan region in an unnecessary financial quandary as it seeks more development and reconstruction.
Oil analyst and expert Wajid Shaker says that the federal government’s procrastination in paying the dues of foreign companies will force the Kurdistan region to pay the amount from the returns of oil being produced in oil wells in Kurdistan.
He told Al-Monitor: “I suppose that the Kurdistan region will take a position. The way to deal with the situation will be based on the KRG’s decision. However, I believe that [the KRG] is able to export oil and pay the dues of foreign companies.”
Last year, the KRG exported crude oil from wells in Kurdistan via Turkey, but in small amounts and without the consent of Baghdad, saying it adopted this plan to fill the shortage in oil derivatives after the Iraqi government stopped providing it with them, especially since the existing refineries in Kurdistan are unable to process the quantities needed by the local market.
Sources indicate that the Iraqi government’s insistence on not paying the dues of foreign companies operating in the Kurdistan region is a step it took to force these companies to stop signing contracts with the Kurds, despite the government’s constant warnings directed at these companies.
Shaker said that this would not prevent companies from coming to the Kurdistan region because they are carefully examining the issue: “Big companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron have legal and technical departments that correspond to the governmental technical departments in Iraq. They also have fields worldwide and enjoy a prominent status in the world of oil. They have studied the issue, know their interests and can obtain their rights.”
Shaker added, “It seems that the Kurdish position so far is limited to threatening to withdraw from the government headed by Maliki, then withdrawing from the political process in the country. In the final stage, [the Kurds] might adopt a tougher stance, the details of which the Kurdish leaders are withholding, since it is early to do that."
While Kurdish political analyst Abdul-Ghani Ali Yahya said in an interview with Al-Monitor that “the ratification of the Iraqi budget for 2013 by the Iraqi parliament, despite a boycott by the Kurdish bloc, contradicts the principle of consensus that has dominated political life in Iraq, albeit on a small scale, and will inevitably lead to the majority government advocated by the State of Law coalition, which is opposed by the Kurds and Sunnis.”
He added: “By ignoring the demands of the Kurdish bloc regarding the budget, unlike the other blocs, the ethnic conflict in Iraq will only deepen. Moreover, other Kurdish demands will be ignored in the future and create a sense of injustice and discrimination among them.”
The KRG announced in a statement that it will take legal and political action against the budget ratification, which was done without its approval. Yahya said: “What the Kurds can achieve is economic quasi-independence. However, their success depends on the responsiveness of the international community, particularly Turkey and the West.” He added, "Any solution to the ongoing conflict between the two governments and among Iraq’s social components will not be without the division of Iraq and the establishment of three states that are Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni."
Kurdish MP Chuan Mohamed of the Barzani-led Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) said: "The Iraqi government must deal with the Kurds as the second component, and our proposals and opinions must be taken into consideration. We believe that what we were subjected to regarding the budget is tantamount to a genocide of the people of Kurdistan."
Abdel Hamid Zebari is a contributing writer for Al-Monitor’s Iraq Pulse. A reporter from Erbil who works in the field of print journalism and radio, he has published several reports in local and world media, including Agence France-Press and Radio Free Iraq (Radio Free Europe).
Sunni Iraqi Leaders Accused
Of Supporting Terrorism
By: Ali Abel Sadah for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse. Posted on March 11.
The Intelligence Directorate of the Babil province, south of Baghdad, revealed on March 9, 2013, the arrest of a cell made up of 12 al-Qaeda affiliated members in the province. According to the directorate, the elements of the cell admitted to having received support from both Ali Hatem al-Suleiman — the emir of the al-Dalim tribes — and the former leader of the al-Sahwa forces in Iraq.
As tribal leaders and other prominent Sunnis in Iraq defend themselves against accusations of supporting terrorism, sectarian tensions rise in Iraq, writes Ali Abel Sadah.
Tensions in Iraq Rise as Sunni Leaders Accused of Supporting Terrorism
Author: Ali Abel Sadah
Translated by: Sami-Joe Abboud
Categories :Originals Iraq
Al-Dalim is a large tribe in Iraq, mostly made up of Sunnis. It has its origins in the Anbar province, with the young Sunni leader Suleiman as its emir. Suleiman has sparked controversy in Iraq’s Sunni circles because of his caustic positions toward Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government. He supported Maliki’s government from 2008 up until the 2010 elections, but then turned against it, accusing it of working for Iran. Suleiman is currently fiercely opposed to Maliki, participating in the Sunni protests in the city of Ramadi (in Anbar province, west of Baghdad).
Ahmed Abu Risha is the former leader of the Sahwa Forces, which had fought al-Qaeda with the direct support and assistance of the U.S. Army since 2008. However, the conditions of Sahwa fighters deteriorated after the U.S. withdrew in 2011. Abu Risha subsequently accused the Maliki government of neglecting the Sahwa forces, not paying members’ salaries and not providing them with arms.
Brig. Gen. Riad Abdel Emir Kikhany, director of local intelligence in the Babil province, said in a statement: “The security forces arrested a cell comprising 12 al-Qaeda affiliated members in the province.”
The security official said, "Members of the cell confessed to having received support from the emir of Al-Dalim tribes, Ali Hatem al-Suleiman, and the leader of the Iraqi Sahwa Movement, Ahmed Abu Risha.”
Iraqi political forces accused Maliki of controlling the intelligence agency to weed out his opponents. Maliki, however, repeatedly said in his public statements that the apparatus is operating according to professional and technical mechanisms and that he is not interfering in its work. He believes the accusations that he's favoring one side are an attempt to cover up crimes of organized terror.
According to the story told by the local intelligence officials, there are wanted suspects accused of carrying out terrorist acts who were working as mediators between them, Suleiman and Abu Risha. Meanwhile, explosives are being transferred to the province of Babil through the western desert that links the Anbar province to northern Babil.
Improvised explosive devices and car bombs have exploded in the center of the city of Babil. Military officials say they all come from the north of the province, which was formerly called the Sunni triangle and maintains close geographic and social ties to the rest of the province.
Abu Risha responded to the accusation made by the intelligence services, saying it was "very funny" and had been made under pressure following the request of the Iraqi government.
In a telephone conversation, Abu Risha said he “supports the country’s official army in the fight against al-Qaeda.” He continued, saying that “because of his opposition to al-Qaeda, he had lost 26 members of his family, nine of whom were from his own house and the rest were his brothers, his father and his cousins.”
“How could I support this organization?” he asked rhetorically.
Abu Risha said he did not expect the government to reach this level in its fight against its political opponents. He added that Maliki had previously accused him of implementing a foreign agenda and receiving foreign funding, and Maliki considered his support for protesters part of an electoral campaign.
It seems that Maliki chose to besiege his Sunni rivals, who have been protesting for months against his policies.
According to Iraqi politicians and officials, the outbreak of sectarian violence is possible. They believe that the accusations exchanged between Shiite and Sunni leaders about supporting terrorism could pave the way for a new and bloody situation similar to that which occurred between 2006 and 2008.
Ali Abel Sadah is a writer and journalist from Baghdad working in both Iraqi and Arab media. He was the editorial manager of a number of local newspapers, and was a political and cultural reporter for over 10 years. He has published in various newspapers and magazines covering Iraqi political affairs, human rights and civil society.
Iraqi Journalists Divided
Over Saddam-Era Union Law
By: Mushreq Abbas for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse. Posted on March 11.
Iraqis adapt well with their political, ethnic and sectarian rifts; journalists, on the other hand, have given rise to another kind of division. Hundreds of Iraqi journalists deny the legitimacy of their syndicate and accuse the it of adopting the mechanisms of the former regime and consequently constraining the abilities of journalists in favor of the government. They went to even greater lengths, forming an alternative syndicate.
In their fight against a Saddam-era union law, Iraq’s journalists show their new divisions, which demonstrate political differences rather than sectarian loyalties, writes Mushreq Abbas.
Iraq’s Journalists Divide Along Political, Not Sectarian Lines
Author: Mushreq Abbas
Translated by: Steffi Chakti
Categories :Originals Iraq
The Iraqi law that regulates the framework of syndicates dates back to the 1970s, prohibiting the formation of more than one syndicate per profession. In this regard, the parliament is striving to amend the law, yet faces obstacles from the parliamentary Culture Committee.
The Iraqi Journalists Syndicate was established in the middle of the last century, however Moayad al-Lami, president of the syndicate, objected to the formation of a new syndicate under the name of the National Syndicate for Journalists. Furthermore, Lami questions the legality of the new syndicate, which violates the existing law, and accuses the journalists who formed it of creating divisions in favor of “foreign agendas.”
In response, the president of the National Syndicate, Adnan Hussein, stresses that the absence of a law does not imply that the law passed during the reign of the former totalitarian regime is still in force.
“The current government has used this loophole to control the syndicate. Dolling out residential lands and money in the form of governmental subsidies to journalists has become a gateway to corrupt journalism and restores the mechanisms of totalitarian regimes in dealing with the press,” declared Hussein.
Moreover, Mazen al-Zaidi, a newly elected member of the new syndicate, justifies the new division by reiterating that the performance and representation of the old syndicate is questionable. According to Zaidi, granting membership to more than 10,000 individuals is highly suspicious, particularly given the fact that many of them have nothing to do with journalism. They are simply used by Lami as an electoral base to ensure re-election.
In this context, many Iraqi writers and journalists are voicing their complaints about granting membership to workers, soldiers and state-employees without verifying that they are actually practicing the profession.
According to Ziad al-Ujaili, head of the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory in Iraq, the power of the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate does not emanate from defending the rights of journalists, but from receiving money from the government and disbursing it to members. “This sort of behavior damages the dignity of independent journalists,” Ujaili declared.
Speaking of the legality of forming a new syndicate, Ujaili confirms that the political parties have been functioning since 2003 without any regulatory law. They have, nonetheless, assumed seats of power, led the country, and participated in elections. “Why are politicians allowed to do so, while journalists are not?” asked Ujaili.
Lami, however, denies all accusations, stressing that the journalists who formed the new syndicate are working under the auspices of political agendas, since they oppose the current government. They seek to defame the syndicate’s great history. Lami has called on journalists seeking reform to participate in syndicate elections and achieve their goals legitimately.
In reply, Sarmad al-Taki, a member of the new syndicate, said that “journalists have become a minority [in the syndicate], given the large number of fake members. Achieving reform from within the syndicate is impossible until these hundreds, possibly thousands, of false journalists are denied membership.”
Lami supports the law on protecting journalists that was endorsed a few months ago by the parliament. Yet, the law has been outright rejected by the new syndicate.
Head of the Press Freedom Advocacy Association in Iraq, Hatem Oudai, confirms that the law comprises ambiguous, general expressions that could be used to constrain the freedom of press. The law grants the government the right to try any journalist whose work threatens national security, without specifying the concerned practices. According to Oudai, this margin of loose interpretation is unacceptable.
For the first time in Iraq, the rift between journalists does not seem to be such a bad thing. Both syndicates are composed of journalists belonging to different ethnic, political and sectarian backgrounds, in addition to different media outlets and cities. For the first time, divisions are strictly professional.
Mushreq Abbas is a contributing writer for Al-Monitor’s Iraq Pulse. An author and journalist who has worked in the media for 15 years, he holds a degree in political science from Baghdad University. Besides writing studies and articles that covered Iraqi crises and publishing in the local, regional and foreign media, Abbas has worked since 2003 in the Iraqi media sector and co-founded media companies. He also produced a number of documentaries for different media and has managed Al-Hayat’s office in Iraq since 2005.