Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Moqtada preparing to meet with Adherents of the Mahdi re complaints about the Najaf authorities

Azzaman, sandwiched in an unrelated story about inaction respecting the recent suspicious fires at the Central Bank and elsewhere, says:

An authoritative source in the Sadrist trend said Moqtada al-Sadr is preparing to meet with a representative of the Mahdawiyya movement (Mahdists, general name for the groups focused on the appearance of the 12th Imam) that have been asking for a curtailment of the role of the Najaf marjia [authority, a collective word for the Najaf authorities of whom the most powerful is Sistani] in connection with the accusations repeatedly made by the Maliki government and its PR and security branches--destructive accusations that need to be fought. The source said Al-Sadr didn't spell out the form these discussions will take, but said he is preparing to accept the request of one of the spokesmen for the Adherents of the Imam Mahdi, made on Al-Sharqiyya TV. Recall that Al-Sadr himself has begun studies in the Najaf Hawza to complete the studies necessary to himself obtain the title of marjia, studies that could take several years.
The state of play seems to be that the government continues to spin conspiracy accusations against the Mahdawiyya movement as a whole. What makes this a little ambiguous is that a major feature of the Mahdist ideology is opposition to the influence of the Najaf authorities, so some of this could amount to Najaf McCarthyism, if you will pardon the expression. The Mahdists say that kind of fixed institutional intermediation is unnecessary and harmful, because knowledge comes either directly by revelation, or via the precursors of the twelfth Imam. Al-Sadr was probably referring to this problem when he said immediately after the Ashura violence that Iraq needs a "professional" intelligence agency, suggesting the current system is sectarian and anti-Mahdist.

On another topic Azzaman reports on its website in English that the Iraqi "government" has decided to end the food-ration program in June of this year, over the objections of the Finance Ministry which says this is a bad idea. The reporter says the government decision was taken pursuant to an agreement with the World Bank. Experts are quoted with unsurprising comments to the effect this is going to hurt the unemployed, in a country where the official unemployment rate is 40%.

I haven't seen this reported in any of the papers in Arabic, or anywhere else in any language, for that matter. If it's true it is a major story, reflecting ongoing pressure from the global powers that be for the application of IMF economic orthodoxy right up to the gates of hell, if you will pardon the expression. Has anyone seen anything about this? Anywhere?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was this on Aswat today:
Iraq govt extends ration card till mid 2008-spokesman
Midway through it says, 'The spokesman added “a committee consisting of representatives from the Trade Ministry, Planning Ministry, and Interior Ministry will design the means of sorting out the individuals eligible for the ration card system, provided that the rationing system has started as of July 1, 2008.
Last December, the minister of trade representative during a parliamentary session stressed that the ration card system formed 20% of the fiscal budget for the calendar year 2007, while it dropped to 1.5 “ in 2008.'

Sounds like they will not end it, but slash it further..?.. Hopefully you can make more sense of the Arabic version.

3:26 PM  
Blogger badger said...

Thanks! And you're right. I found the Arabic version, which was posted Tuesday Jan 29, and the gist of it goes like this:

Jan 29--...A statement issued by government spokesman Ali Dabagh, of which VOI obtained a copy, said the Council of Ministers at its sixth regular meeting on Tuesday (Jan 29) confirmed agreement with the continuation of the distribution of the food quotas with all the items, until the end of the first half of the year 2008.

And the announcement added that the government agreed with that along with a commitment to earmark and to provide to the Ministry of Commerce, with the funds necessary for the provision of all the items. And [they committed to] formation of a committee to make plans for carrying out an activity of screening citizens [entitled to be] included in the receipt of the ration cards, and the Commerce Minister committted to starting a process of making directives [about who qualifies] by July 1 2008.

The rest of it is a summary of what the Commerce and Finance Ministers said in Parliament on Jan 7, the former having said the food program was 20% of the national budget in 2005, and only 1.5% in 2008 (suggesting they are niggling) and the Finance Minsiter mentioned some figures, but of uncertain meaning without context.

So it looks as if to satisfy the IMF they are committing to set up a program of (1) screening for eligibility (great time to be doing that, with several million internally displaced, and sectarian rancor still at a high level, but that is the IMF for you, I thought they had been put away by now, but I see they are still at it); and committing to including all items only until July 1, suggesting the number of items will be cut then. Earlier reports said the items to be cut include baby milk and things like that.

Incredible but apparently true.

6:32 PM  
Blogger JoshSN said...

This blog is my hero! I promise to read it every day. This is what I say the English speaking worlds more than any bombing campaigns or smoke em out nonsense.

I have this idea the fundamental problem in the first place was that we weren't talking to each other, and with warmongers like MEMRI about, it was bound to get worse.

In my evilness, I thought maybe there should be a counter-MEMRI, that translated Coulter, Savage, Limbaugh, Beck, et cetera into Arabic. If MEMRI really wants a war, they should do that, too.

Actually, I still don't want to do that, but maybe you and I could e-mail?

5:43 PM  
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