April 30, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
Tags: Earthquakes, Nuclear disasters
April 25, 2011
On the Danger of a Killer Earthquake in the Japanese Archipelago
The Nuclear Disaster That Could Destroy Japan … and the World
By HIROSE TAKASHI
Translated by Doug Lummis
The nuclear power plants in Japan are ageing rapidly; like cyborgs, they are barely kept in operation by a continuous replacement of parts. And now that Japan has entered a period of earthquake activity and a major accident could happen at any time, the people live in constant state of anxiety.
Seismologists and geologists agree that, after some fifty years of seismic inactivity, with the 1995 Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake (Southern Hyogo Prefecture Earthquake), the country has entered a period of seismic activity. In 2004, the Chuetsu Earthquake hit Niigata Prefecture, doing damage to the village of Yamakoshi. Three years later, in 2007, the Chuetsu Offshore Earthquake severely damaged the nuclear reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa. In 2008, there was an earthquake in Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures, causing a whole mountain to disappear completely. Then in 2009 the Hamaoka nuclear plant was put in a state of emergency by the Suruga Bay Earthquake. And now, in 2011, we have the 3/11 earthquake offshore from the northeast coast. But the period of seismic activity is expected to continue for decades. From the perspective of seismology, a space of 10 or 15 years is but a moment in time.
Because the Pacific Plate, the largest of the plates that envelop the earth, is in motion, I had predicted that there would be major earthquakes all over the world.
And as I had feared, after the Suruga Bay Earthquake of August 2009 came as a triple shock, it was followed in September and October by earthquakes off Samoa, Sumatra, and Vanuatu, of magnitudes between 7.6 and 8.2. That means three to eleven times the force of the Southern Hyogo Prefecture Earthquake.
All of these quakes occurred around the Pacific Plate as the center, and each was located at the boundary of either that plate or a plate under its influence. Then in the following year, 2010, in January there came the Haiti Earthquake, at the boundary of the Caribbean Plate, pushed by the Pacific and Coco Plates, then in February the huge 8.8 magnitude earthquake offshore from Chile. I was praying that this world scale series of earthquakes would come to an end, but the movement of the Pacific Plate shows no sign of stopping, and led in 2011 to the 3/11 Earthquake in northeastern Japan and the subsequent meltdown at the Fukushima
Continue Reading The Nuclear Disaster That Could Destroy Japan … and the World…
April 28, 2011 at 9:43 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
Tags: Libya, Tariq Ali
Reposted for those who missed it
Libya is another case of selective vigilantism by the west
Bombing Tripoli while shoring up other despots in the Arab world shows the UN-backed strikes to oust Gaddafi are purely cynical
Libya’s European ties … a man holds a British and a French national flag in Benghazi. Photograph: Manu Brabo/EPA
The US-Nato intervention in Libya, with United Nations security council cover, is part of an orchestrated response to show support for the movement against one dictator in particular and by so doing to bring the Arab rebellions to an end by asserting western control, confiscating their impetus and spontaneity and trying to restore the status quo ante.
It is absurd to think that the reasons for bombing Tripoli or for the turkey shoot outside Benghazi are designed to protect civilians. This particular argument is designed to win support from the citizens of Euro-America and part of the Arab world. “Look at us,” say Obama/Clinton and the EU satraps, “we’re doing good. We’re on the side of the people.” The sheer cynicism is breathtaking. We’re expected to believe that the leaders with bloody hands in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are defending the people in Libya. The debased British and French media are capable of swallowing anything, but the fact that decent liberals still fall for this rubbish is depressing. Civil society is easily moved by some images and Gaddafi’s brutality in sending his air force to bomb his people was the pretext that Washington utilised to bomb another Arab capital. Meanwhile, Obama’s allies in the Arab world were hard at work promoting democracy.
The Saudis entered Bahrain where the population is being tyrannised and large-scale arrests are taking place. Not much of this is being reported on al-Jazeera. I wonder why? The station seems to have been curbed somewhat and brought into line with the politics of its funders.
All this with active US support. The despot in Yemen, loathed by a majority of his people continues to kill them every day. Not even an arms embargo, let alone a “no-fly zone” has been imposed on him. Libya is yet another case of selective vigilantism by the US and its attack dogs in the west.
Continue Reading Libya is another case of selective vigilantism by the west, Tariq Ali…
April 22, 2011 at 10:50 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
Tags: Chris Hondros, Telafer shooting of Hassan family, US Crimes in Iraq
Orphans of Tal Afar
Article published in News Week
by Owen Matthews
March 28, 2005
Chris Hondros / Getty Images
Audio: Chris Hondros on Iraqi Orphans. CLICK ON PHOTO TO VIEW GALLERY.
Editor’s Note: Award-winning photojournalist Chris Hondros died in Misurata, Libya, on April 20, 2011, along with his colleague Tim Hetherington.
Army investigators in Iraq have cleared Apache Company’s soldiers of any wrongdoing. The men did what they were trained to do under the circumstances. Yet that’s small comfort to the Hassan orphans. “If it were up to me, I’d kill the Americans and drink their blood,” says Jilan, 14. Her 12-year-old brother, Rakan, was discharged from Mosul General Hospital this month. Doctors said his best hope of walking again is to seek treatment outside Iraq. At least he can move his legs. As far as he knows, his parents are in the hospital, recovering from the shooting. No one dares to tell him the truth.
The Hassan family might have vanished into the war’s statistics if Chris Hondros hadn’t been at the scene that evening. The Getty Images photographer had spent the day on patrol with Apache Company. Readers have been asking NEWSWEEK about the Hassan orphans ever since we ran their picture in our Jan. 31 issue. We finally managed to find the youngsters in Mosul, sharing a three-room house with a married sister, her husband and at least three members of his family. It’s hard to see the Hassan shooting as anything but a horrible accident of war. Nevertheless, the story offers some insight into why Iraq remains one of the most dangerous places on earth two years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, and why the United Stateshas had such difficulty winning Iraqi hearts and minds.
The whole incident took barely 15 seconds. Night was falling on Jan. 18, and Apache’s men had almost finished their day in Tal Afar, a rundown city of 200,000 near the Syrian border. Insurgents practically own the town after dark. Even in the daytime,U.S. soldiers routinely travel in convoys of at least three Strykers. That evening, Apache’s armored vehicles had pulled over near the town’s main traffic circle while the men patrolled on foot. As they stood by the road, a set of headlights swung into the boulevard and accelerated in their direction. “We have a car coming!” shouted one of the men. Away from their Strykers and on foot, they were perfect targets for a suicide bomber. They gestured frantically at the driver to stop. He didn’t. Someone else yelled, “Stop that car!”
Hussein Hassan was hurrying to get home. His wife, Kamila, sat beside him in the family Opel; their five youngest children, 2 to 14, were squeezed in the back seat with a 6-year-old cousin. They had been at his brother’s house, but now curfew was 15 minutes away, and Tal Afar’s streets are no place for a family after dark. Hussein turned off Tal Afar’s main traffic circle onto Mansour Boulevard. Rakan was first to spot the soldiers in the deepening dusk. They were waving their arms and raising their assault rifles. The boy jumped up in the back seat. Before he could open his mouth to warn his father, a storm of gunfire struck the car, killing both parents and covering the children with their blood.
The Opel rolled to a stop, its engine blown out, headlights somehow still shining. The silence was broken by the sound of children wailing. One soldier moved warily to the car and pointed a light inside. What the beam showed was anything but insurgents. “Civilians!” a squad leader shouted. The soldiers ran to the car.
Jilan scrambled out of the back seat with her hands up. “No, mister!” she yelled. “No, mister!” Most Iraqi children have learned at least a little English. Rakan tried to follow her, but he fell to the pavement. His legs wouldn’t work. Their sisters Rana, 6, and Samar, 7, were screaming, their hair full of blood and smashed glass. Baby brother Muhammad and cousin Rajhda made scarcely a sound.
A man in an American uniform approached. His face was wrapped in khaki cloth. Apache Company’s interpreters try to hide their identities, to keep insurgents from targeting their families. The masked man said something in Arabic, but the children, ethnic Turkomans, didn’t understand. The Americans offered water and pistachios to the kids. “We threw them in [the soldiers’] faces,” recalls Samar. “We wouldn’t talk to them.” Medics dressed a bloody gash in Rakan’s back. In the darkness, they couldn’t see that it was an exit wound. Bullet fragments had entered Rakan’s abdomen just above the bladder and blasted out through his spine, damaging his three lowest vertebrae. One of the soldiers carried him in his arms as they rode to Tal Afar’s General Hospital. The rest of the kids were driven home by a relative, an ambulance driver. Muhammad, not yet weaned, cried all night for his mother.
The soldiers headed back to base. Partway there, they pulled over for a huddle. “This is bad,” said the unit’s commander, Capt. Thomas Seibold. “But I will protect you. There’s going to be an investigation. The only thing we can do is to be honest. We did nothing wrong.” He asked who had fired. Six men spoke up. He asked who had shot first, and he got no response. A couple of men said they fired the second shot. They climbed back into their Strykers and drove on.
Back on base, the men filled out sworn statements. Apache’s officers and NCOs hurried to reassure them. “Put yourself there,” says Maj. Dylan Moxness. “You’re an 18-year-old kid from Tennessee. You don’t even understand why these people don’t speak English anyway, you’re shouting ‘Stop!’ and the car’s still coming at you–you’ve got to fire.”
The next morning, Maj. Brian Grady set out for the Hassans’ home, escorted by a dozen soldiers. As the 2-14 Cavalry’s civil-affairs officer, he makes cash grants to build schools and clinics in Tal Afar. (The funding is disguised as money from the Iraqi government so insurgents won’t target the projects.) But most of his budget is devoted to compensation offered, with few questions, for civilian deaths, injuries, property damage or false imprisonment. “It’s not an admission of guilt,” says Grady. “It’s an admission that suffering has occurred, and it’s an expression of sympathy.” The standard sum for a noncombatant’s death–and the maximum for a motor vehicle–is $2,500. Claimants can still file for the full amount of material damages to property, like houses and cars, but solid proof is required, and processing can be slow.
Grady paid $7,500 to a family elder named Abdul Yusuf, who promised to take responsibility for the orphans. But the children ended up with their eldest sister, Intisar, 24, and her husband, Haj Natheer Basheer, 50, in a tiny, rundown house in Mosul. Haj Natheer says he visited the base in early March with Jilan and Samar. He says Captain Seibold broke into tears talking to the children. Natheer thought it was a charade, and launched into a diatribe against the occupation. The translator finally warned the Iraqi to be quiet or risk getting locked up. “They are only tolerating you because the kids are here,” the translator said. Natheer hasn’t seen the Americans since. Captain Seibold declines to comment on the incident.
Most of Apache’s men were on patrol again the day after the shooting. “The mentality of the cavalry is, ‘Put it in a box and go back to battle’,” says Capt. John Montalto, 34, a psychologist fromManhattan’sUpper East Side. “The repercussions happen later.” The Reserves called Montalto up last June to treat combat stress-cases in Tal Afar. He says the 2-14’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. Mark Davis, has spoken to him just once, with a warning: “Don’t ruin my combat power.” None of Apache’s members went to him after the shooting.
The men can only shake their heads over the incident. “The car seemed to be speeding up,” says one. “Ask them why they were coming on so fast. They should have stopped.” The unit’s chaplain, Capt. Ed Willis, says there’s no reason to feel guilty: “If you kill someone on the battlefield, whether it’s another soldier or collateral damage, that doesn’t fit under ‘Thou shalt not kill’.” “You don’t want [your men] second-guessing their actions,” says Moxness. “You want them to keep themselves alive.” The sleepless nights can wait until the men get home safe. For whatever peace of mind it may offer anyone, a Seattle businessman and evangelical Christian named Malcolm Mead has set up a Web site in the name of relief for the Hassan family. If the money reaches the right hands, Rakan might someday walk again.
For more of Tim Hetherington’s work, click here.
April 21, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
Tags: Forged qualifications in Iraq, Iraqi Parliament Commission of Integrity
Iraq gets tough on fake qualifications, up to 50,000 jobs at risk
niqash | Kholoud Ramzi | mon 18 apr 11
Anywhere between 20,000 and 50,000 Iraqis apparently used forged qualifications to get their jobs. Among them are MPs who may be forced to leave parliament, if found guilty.
The news, when it came, was hardly surprising. Iraq’s Ministry of Industry and Minerals had decided to dismiss a group of employees because they had used forged certificates and other fake documents to get their jobs. But this was really only the tip of a large paper iceberg in Iraqi society, one made of falsified documents and forgeries of all kinds. In fact, the prevalence of fake documentation is seen as a sign of the kind of widespread, bureaucratic corruption that plagues the fledgling democracy, its government and people – and which many Iraqis have recently been protesting against.
In March 2011, the Iraqi parliament’s Commission on Integrity, an independent body responsible for uncovering corruption at all levels of Iraqi government, said that it believed there were around 20,000 people currently employed by the state who had got their jobs with forged educational qualifications.
More recently the Ministry of Justice announced their own estimate, saying that they believed there could be as many as 50,000 fake certificates on file; They added that they thought 4,000 of these belonged to individuals working for their own ministry.
Continue Reading Iraq gets tough on fake qualifications, up to 50,000 jobs at risk…
April 21, 2011 at 9:53 am | Posted in Turkmens | 1 Comment
Tags: Chris Hondros, Telafer
Remembering Chris Hondros
Chris Hondros was killed in Misrata, Libya, on 20th March 2011.
Chris Hondros is the photographer who took photos of the little girl whose parents, Hussein and Camila Hassan, were killed in Telafer by US soldiers on 18th January 2005.
Samar Hassan screams after her parents were killed by U.S. Soldiers with the 25th Infantry Division in a shooting on January 18, 2005 in Tal Afar,Iraq. The troops fired on the Hassan family car when it unwittingly approached them during a dusk patrol in the tense northern Iraqi town. Parents Hussein and Camila Hassan were killed instantly, and a son Racan, 11, was seriously wounded in the abdomen. Racan, who lost the use of his legs, was treated later in the U.S.
From The Times
January 21, 2005
One night in Telafer
Chris Hondros was with US troops on patrol when a red car ignored their warning and was fired upon. His pictures and words tell what happened next. . .
THE extraordinary photographs show not only the tragedy visited on so many civilians in Iraq. They also make clear the horrific situations in which the US-led forces frequently find themselves.
In this incident two parents were killed and six children left bloody and traumatised when American soldiers opened fire on their car.
It is rare that such shootings are caught on camera. However on Tuesday, the photographer Chris Hondros was embedded with the soldiers on routine patrol in Tel Afar, in northern Iraq. The town is the scene of frequent clashes between US forces and guerrillas.
The deaths took place just after dusk, when the curfew was coming into force. The ethnic Turkoman family was driving through town, the parents in the front, the children in the back, the oldest a teenage girl, the youngest aged 5 or 6.
At the noise of their car in the quiet street a soldier shouted: “Stop that car!” A burst of gunfire broke the night, a volley of warning shots. The car did not stop. A second after the warning shots there was another volley. The car came to a halt at the kerb, its windscreen a web of bullet holes. By now the parents were dead.
As the soldiers approached, the sound of crying came through the sudden stillness, then terrified children started to tumble out, one of them, a small boy, leaking blood from a gash on his lower back.
“Civilians!” shouted a soldier and his comrades, realising their mistake, carried the traumatised children to the pavement and started binding their wounds. The teenage girl, holding her bloodsoaked little sisters, yelled at the masked army translator: “Why did they shoot us? We have no weapons. We were just going home.”
The children were loaded into Bradley fighting vehicles and taken to hospital. Their parents’ bodies were left behind in the blood-soaked family car.
In Mosul the Army issued a dry statement to the effect that “two Iraqi civilians were killed when the vehicle they were driving tried to speed through a Multi-National Force patrol Tuesday in northernIraq. . . Military officials extend their condolences for this unfortunate incident.”
April 21, 2011 at 8:49 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
Tags: Kurdish hegemony in North of Iraq
Kurds alter cultural and linguistic fabric of non-Kurdish areas around Iraq’s Mosul
By Samer Saeed
Azzaman, April 19, 2011
There are grave concerns inMosul, the provincial capital ofNineveh, that Kurds are on their way to add the provincial districts and villages they control to their dominions.
A statement, issued by the Unified National Trend, a political faction in the city, said the Kurds, relying on their heavily armed militias, were treating the provincial areas under their control as part of Kurdish territory.
The statement, signed by the group’s leader, Nourideen al-Hayali, said the Kurds were even trying to alter the linguistic and cultural character of the provincial districts they occupied shortly after the 2003-U.S. invasion ofIraq.
Most of the small towns and villages to the north andnorth westofMosul, which administratively are an integral part ofNinevehProvince, are now under Kurdish militia occupation.
The administration of education, health and local government in these areas is a prerogative ofNinevehProvinceand the provincial council inMosul.
But the Kurds are reported to be seizing the opportunity of the absence of Iraqi troops and security forces to spread their cultural domination of the areas under their control.
Hayali claimed in his statement that the Kurds were forcing their language as the medium of instruction in schools in districts and villages where Arabs, Turkmen or Syriac-speaking Iraqi Christians are the majority.
He said more than 200 school which used to offer courses and programs in Arabic have been seized, and their teaching staff replaced by Kurdish-speaking instructors.
He cited Baashiqa, a predominantly Syriac-speaking Christians, and its environs, where he said more than a 1000 schools have been forced to switch to Kurdish.
April 19, 2011 at 10:57 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
Tags: Dr Sadettin Ergeç, Kerkuk, Mohammed Rauf Saleh, Turkmens
|Turkmen fight for identity in Kirkuk
|Iraq‘s third largest ethnic group complain of cultural erosion in disputed city. For the video please click on:
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2011 21:42
|The third largest ethnic group inIraq, the Turkmen have long complained ofdiscrimination, especially in the city ofKirkuk where the local governmenthas been largely controlled by Kurdish parties.That began to change recently with a Turkmen politician electedas head of the provincial council, but many say more needs to bedone to preserve the Turkmens’ ethnic identity.
Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh reports fromKirkuk.
April 19, 2011 at 10:07 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
Tags: Imperialism, Jean Bricmont, Libya
14 avril 2011
Article en PDF :
Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan : have the advocates of intervention in Libya not learnt the lesson ? Jean Bricmont, who wrote a book about humanitarian imperialism, tells us why the right to interfere is incompatible with world peace, and that it goes against humanitarian principles. Unless, of course, those principles are just an excuse.
Interview : Grégoire Lalieu
Can you remind us of what humanitarian imperialism consists of ?
It is an ideology which aims to justify military interference against sovereign countries in the name of democracy and Human Rights. The motive is always the same : a population is the victim of a dictator, so we must act. Then all the usual references are trotted out : the Second World War, the war with Spain, and so on. The aim being to sell the argument that an armed intervention is necessary. This is what happened in Kosovo, Iraq or Afghanistan.
And now comes Libya’ s turn.
There is a difference here because a United Nations Security Council resolution makes it possible. But this resolution was passed against the principles of the Charter of the United Nations themselves. Indeed, I see no external threat in the Libyan conflict. Although the notion of the « responsibility to protect » populations had been evoked, many short cuts were taken. Besides, there is no proof that Gaddafi massacres his people just for the sole purpose of slaughtering them. It is a bit more complicated than that : it is an armed insurrection, and I know not of any government that would not repress an insurrection of this kind. Of course, there are collateral damage and civilian casualties. But if the United States knows a way to avoid such damage, then it should go and tell the Israelis about it, and apply it themselves in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is also no doubt that coalition bombings will cause civilian casualties.
From a strictly legal point of view, I think the U.N.S.C. resolution is questionable. It is, in fact, the result of years of lobbying for the recognition of the right to interfere, which proves here to be legitimized.
And yet, many – even among the parties of the left – deemed it necessary to intervene in Libya in order to stop the massacre. Do you think it is an error of judgment ?
Yes, I do, and for several reasons. First of all, this campaign ushers in the reign of the arbitrary. Indeed, the Libyan conflict is not exceptional. There are many other conflicts anywhere in the world whether it may be in Gaza, in Bahrain, or in the Congo, which happened some years ago. As for the latter, it occurred within a context of foreign aggression on the part of Rwanda and Burundi. The enforcement of the international law would have saved millions of lives but it was not done. Why not ?
Besides, if we apply the underlying principles of interference behind the aggression against Libya, it means that anyone can intervene anywhere they want to. Imagine that the Russians intervene in Bahrain or the Chinese in Yemen : the world would be a general and ongoing war. Therefore one major feature of the right to interfere is the infringement of standard international law. And if we had to change international law to new laws justifying the right to interfere, it would result in a war of all against all. This is an argument to which the advocates of the right to interfere never give an answer.
And lastly, such interventions strengthen what I call the « barricade effect » : all the countries in the sights of the United States will start to feel threatened and will seek to increase their armaments. We all remember what happened with Saddam. Moreover, Gaddafi had said to the Arab League : « We have just lost a member state of the league and none of you have done anything. But it can happen to you too, because even though you are all U.S. allies, so was Saddam in the past. » Now the same thing is repeating itself with Gaddafi and the threat which hangs over many states is likely to relaunch the arms race. Russia, which is not an unarmed country, has already announced that it would reinforce its troops. But it can go even further : if Libya had the nuclear weapon, it would have never been attacked. Actually, this is why North Korea is untouchable. Therefore, the left which supports the intervention in Libya should definitely realize that humanitarian interference is inevitably going to relaunch the arms race and lead to long-term wars.
April 14, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
Tags: Fallujah, Iyad Allawi, US genocide in Iraq
Iraqi mps debate whether US troops committed genocide
niqash | Hayder Najm | tue 12 apr 11
Last week Iraqi MPs debated whether US-led battles in 2004 could be prosecuted as genocide. Former prime minister Iyad Allawi, who assented to the missions, may also be implicated.
The controversial topic was added to the agenda just hours before the Iraqi parliament’s session for April 4. The request – made by two members of the popular Iraqiya list, one of the most powerful coalitions currently in Iraqi government – came as something of a surprise. To take this issue seriously, in an official capacity, would be sending the whole nation into “a dark tunnel”, other members of the Iraqi Parliament commented.
The topic in question: whether brutal US-led battles that took place in Fallujah in 2004 could be considered genocide. Fallujah, 65 kilometres west of Baghdad in the Sunni-dominated Anbar province, was once considered a capital for Iraq’s insurgent forces and after four US contractors were killed there in 2004, two major battles took place in the city in April and November 2004. The fierce fighting, authorised by the interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and including some Iraqi troops alongside Americans, displaced most of the city’s 300,000 population and resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries as well as leaving many of Fallujah’s buildings and businesses destroyed. The two MPs who proposed the discussion topic also demanded the passing of a law that would compensate victims of the Fallujah battles and their families.
Continue Reading Iraqi mps debate whether us troops committed genocide…
April 14, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
Next Page »
Tags: Iraqi youths, Power sharing Iraq
Iraqi Youths’ Political Rise Is Stunted by Elites
By TIM ARANGO
Published: April 13, 2011
Ayman Oghanna for The New York Times
Ali al-Jaff, 23, protested in Baghdad. Iraq’s demographics skew even younger than in places like Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.
Ayman Oghanna for The New York Times
Hussein al-Najar is a member of a group of young Iraqis that used Facebook to organize protests. Nearly 40 percent of Iraq’s population is 14 or under.
On the streets, the voices of young demonstrators and journalists have been muted by the batons and bullets of elite security units that answer only to a prime minister who officials say personally sends orders by text message.
An Iraq spring it is not.
In a country where the demographics skew even younger than in places like Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, the wave of political change in the region has laid bare a generation gap here split by old resentments nurtured by dictatorship and war and a youthful grasping for a stake in the new Iraq. “The younger generation is ready to go forward; they are carrying less resentments,” said Rawaz M. Khoshnaw, 32, a Kurdish member of Parliament, in a recent interview.
But the forces of youth are blunted by the same forces that have robbed Iraqi society of so much for so long — violence, a stagnant economy, zero-sum politics and sectarianism — and that have prevented a new political class from emerging to take Iraq into a new democratic future.
A common sentiment from nearly three dozen interviews with young Iraqis around the country recently is a persistent disenchantment with both their political leaders and the way democracy has played out here. “The youth is the excluded class in the Iraqi community,” said Swash Ahmed, a 19-year-old law student in Kirkuk. “So they’ve started to unify through Facebook or the Internet or through demonstrations and evenings in cafes, symposiums and in universities. But they don’t have power.”
Iraq’s unity government is showing increased signs of splintering over an American-backed power-sharing agreement. If the government fractures and a narrow majority of Shiite parties led by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a former exile, takes control, the result would be more divisiveness and potentially more violence.
For the young, it would be another sign of the difficulty in gaining a voice in Iraq’s democracy, and a counternarrative to the grand new history being written elsewhere in the Middle East.
In Basra, Salah Mahmod, 18, said politicians here were “in love with power.”
“We don’t have democracy, and the politicians have no idea what it means.”
But it is a measure of progress that these students can speak out freely and join in street protests. One small result is that bars reopened in Baghdad after being closed in January. “I do not want to be so negative about it,” said Shereen Ahmed, 19, who is studying to be a teacher in Anbar Province. “Yes, we are witnessing a small part of democracy now from what we see from the protests in Iraq. When Saddam was here, not even one Iraqi could go out in protest because he would be killed.”
Talal al-Zubai, 41, a lawmaker from the Iraqiya bloc — the coalition led by Ayad Allawi, who was handpicked by the Americans to be prime minister in 2005 and was once attacked in exile by ax-wielding assassins sent by Saddam Hussein — decided to form a youth bloc of Parliament members after witnessing the protests in the region and here.
He said that six had joined, and that 20 others had privately told him of their interest but were fearful of going public because “right now they are afraid of their leaders.”
Mr. Zubai, a Sunni politician who recounts with pride the number of assassination attempts he has survived — three: by car bomb, roadside bomb and pistol — has no such fear, and he spoke openly about his disdain for the political elite during an interview in the foyer of Iraqiya’s office in Parliament.
“The problem is, those leaders have more power than we do,” said Mr. Zubai, who is working on his graduate studies at a college in Baghdad. “They have more money to use in elections. They have more power to use the army and police to consolidate power.”
In Iraq, the demographic trends that have underpinned the wave of democratic uprisings and altered the dynamics of power across the Middle East are more pronounced than in other countries. The median age in the country is 21, according to the C.I.A. World Factbook. In Egypt it is 24, and in Tunisia it is 30. Nearly 40 percent of the population here is 14 or under, compared with 33 percent in Egypt and Libya and 23 percent in Tunisia. The comparisons are similar for Bahrain and Syria.
Recently, a group of young Iraqis who used Facebook to organize protests in February to demand improved services gathered in Baghdad near a church where more than 60 Christians were killed late last year. The organizers spoke of being detained and beaten by security forces after the protests, of being called homosexuals and Baathists.
Ali Abdul Zahra, a journalist, told of seeing his friend beaten as the officer asked, “Are you the Facebook guy?” The officer continued, according to Mr. Zahra: “You want freedom, huh? I’ll show you freedom.”
Here, violence and politics are still intertwined — eight years after the American invasion, six years after ratifying a Constitution, and after several national and local elections, all ratified by international groups as free and fair. A brutal attack recently on the seat of local government in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, left nearly 60 people dead, including three members of the provincial council.
That stubborn insurgency creates a space for leaders like Mr. Maliki to centralize power, especially over the security forces, critics say. For example, Mr. Allawi said in an interview that as part of the power-sharing agreement to form the government last year, it was “agreed that the units which are attached to the prime minister should be disengaged.” That has not happened.
“There is no power sharing,” he said. “There is no democracy.”
Mr. Khoshnaw, the Kurdish lawmaker, explained the gap between the generations of leaders this way: The older generation that suffered under Mr. Hussein and struggled against him in exile is “defined by the resentments inside themselves.”
“They have a hard time letting go,” he said.
“People are fed up by the faces they have seen on television for the last eight years.”
Iraqi employees of The New York Times contributed reporting from Kirkuk, Basra and Anbar Provinces in Iraq.
A version of this article appeared in print on April 14, 2011, on page A1 of the New York edition.