English version of Reconciliation Plan

BEIRUT — So, anyone have a link to the English version of Maliki’s reconciliation plan? I’d like to actually, you know, read it before shooting off from the hip.
But: An amnesty for people who haven’t done any killing of Iraqis or other “terroristic activities” “terrorist acts” isn’t much of an amnesty at all.
*UPDATE:* Well, thanks to a friend at the Embassy in Baghdad, I found a BBC media monitor “translation/summary of the main points”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/5114932.stm of the plan. It’s exasperatingly vague:
# Amnesty for detainees not involved in terrorist acts, war crimes or crimes against humanity, as long as they condemn violence and pledge to respect the law. [This seems to exclude quite a lot, but it’s so vague. This might not be so bad, though as it allows plenty of room for, ah, _practicality_ in deciding to whom to grant amnesty. — CA]
# Negotiations with the US-led coalition to prevent the violation of human and civil rights in military operations.
# Compensation for those harmed by terrorism, military operations and violence.
# Preventing human rights violations, reforming prisons and punishing those responsible for acts of torture.
# Ensuring that Iraq’s justice system is solely responsible for punishing members of the Saddam regime, terrorists and gangs guilty of killings and kidnappings.
# Ensuring that military operations take place in accordance with judicial orders and do not breach human rights.
# Compensation for civilian government employees who lost their jobs after the fall of the Saddam regime.
# Measures to improve public services. [Possibly the most popular aspect of the plan for Iraqis — CA]
# Measures to strengthen Iraq’s armed forces so they are ready to take over responsibility for national security from the multinational forces.
# Review of the armed forces to ensure they run on “professional and patriotic” principles. [Militias, he’s lookin’ at you. — CA]
# Ensuring the political neutrality of Iraq’s armed forces and tackling Iraq’s militia groups. [Ditto — CA]
# Insistence that Iraq’s elected bodies, including the government and parliament, are solely responsible for decisions on Iraq’s sovereignty and the presence of multinational troops.
# Insistence that all political groups involved in government must reject terrorism and the former Saddam regime.
# Return of displaced people to their homes and compensation for any losses they have suffered. [This one’s going to be tricky. The Kurds have been demanding a settlement on Kirkuk for _ages_ and the various Shi’ite governments have been dragging their feet on this. At the same time, the Kurds have been ejecting Arabs from Kirkuk and I’ve heard reports of Shi’ites ejecting Kurds from some neighborhoods in Baghdad. — CA]
# Improved compensation for victims of the Saddam regime and deprived people throughout the country.
# Formation of a National Council for the Reconciliation and National Dialogue Plan, including representatives of the government and parliament as well as religious authorities and tribes. [Talk to Nicholas Haysom, former/current head of UNAMI’s constitutional advisory board in Baghdad. He was instrumental in helping write South Africa’s constitution and developing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that seemed to work well there. — CA]
# Creation of National Council subcommittees at regional level
# Creation of “field committees” to follow up on the progress of the reconciliation process.
# A series of conferences of tribal leaders, religious scholars, political groups and other members of civil society will be held to back the reconciliation process. The conference of religious scholars is expected to issue _fatwas_ supporting the policy. [Whoa. I know the clerics wanted a tight bond between the government and the mosques, but I don’t think they expected the government telling them what _fatwas_ to issue. — CA]
# Talks with other Arab and Islamic governments, especially those that support the terrorists, to inform them about what is happening in Iraq.
# Adoption of a “rational” discourse by the government and political parties to restore mutual trust and ensure the media are neutral. [But not independent? — CA]
# National dialogue including all the opinions of those involved in the political process.
# Adoption of constitutional and legal legitimacy in resolving the country’s problems, including extra-judicial killings.
# Review of the de-Baathification committee to ensure it respects the law. [This is long overdue. Schoolteachers who were forced to join the party should not still be paying the price. — CA]
# Co-operation with the United Nations and the Arab League to pursue the work of the Cairo Conference for National Reconciliation.
# Making it easier for Iraqi citizens or groups to work on rebuilding the country, as long as they have not committed any crimes or been banned from the political process.
# Taking a united stand regarding the terrorists and other hostile elements. [Well, duh. — CA]
# Starting work on a large-scale development campaign for the whole country, which will also tackle the problem of unemployment.
Well, it certainly doesn’t lack for ambition. I would like to see a better translation before making any (more) snap judgments, though.

Wow, donations for journalism?

Hey, a bold, new experiment in journalism … not.

It is with no small amount of mixed feelings that I notice that Michael Totten has embarked on a daring new experiment in reader-funded journalism.
Oh, wait. It’s not new at all. (See: Iraq.com, Back-to-)
On the one hand, I’m glad that more people are working to do their own thing and bringing nuanced, insightful journalism to the reading public without the baggage that mainstream media often attach. On the other hand, Totten usually has a somewhat conservative rah-Amurricah tone that sets my teeth a-grate. That said, he does get out there and do some reporting. While he’s not my cup of tea — I find his Middle East reporting naive and American-centric — give him a read. I’ll let you decide if it’s worth donating. I’m going to pop him $5 on principle.

Tonight on the Majority Report

I’ll be appearing tonight on The Majority Report on Air America. (Check your local listings for time.) OK. I guess I do go on liberal shows.
But, for the record, Front Page asked to interview me and I agreed. But then I never heard back from them. Oh, well.
*UPDATE:* There are archived podcasts available, but you have to be a paying premium member to get access to them. Alas.

More Bloody Housekeeping…

BAGHDAD — Jeeze. Switching servers is a pain in the ass. Anyway, people have complained that they’re not getting notifications of new entries, etc. I’m using a plugin that allows _you_, dear reader, to manage your own subscriptions. (Yeah, I’m lazy. Sue me.)
In the transition, however, the notification list has been hosed. This is, in some ways, a blessing. There were many dead emails on there and people were getting notifications who didn’t want to get them. Now, we have a clean slate. (Were that Iraq were so lucky.) This means that if you subscribed in the past and you still wish to receive new entries, _you must re-subscribe._
If you want to subscribe to B2I as a whole and get emails when there is a new entry sign up through the subscribe link in the sidebar on the right. It’s right over there. You can’t miss it.
Additionally, if you want to follow a discussion in the comments on an individual entry, you can do that too. Just fill out the signup box at the bottom of each comment section. That will assign you _only to that entry._ This can be an additional subscription to the main blog.
Once you sign up, you will receive a confirmation email from notifications@back-to-iraq.com. *You must click the confirmation link to confirm any of your subscriptions.*
If you ever wish to remove yourself from any subscriptions, each notification email has a link to do so. You’ll again have to confirm your opting-out, but I’m sure you’ll be able to figure that out.
Let’s hope this ends the tidying up around here.

Update B2I’s Look?

BAGHDAD — I know there’s been a bunch of housekeeping going on here lately, and I’m sorry for that. But I’ve been bogged down with other stories and freelancing responsibilities and haven’t had much time to get out and see what’s going on in the last five days or so.
Be that as it may, I’m thinking of jazzing up the look of B2I. If anyone has a blog they think looks cool, and that could be adapted for this site’s look, I’m open for suggestions. I’m looking for clean lines, something that speaks of deserts and the Middle East, yet is modern and cool looking.
Yeah, I know. A tall order.

Notification issues

BAGHDAD — Regarding my previous posting, in which I said you would have to re-subscribe, that is unnecessary. I found the old list and have added the old subscriptions. Many of the emails are bad, and bouncing, but that’s OK. The list needed to be cleaned up anyway. If you received and email asking you to confirm your subscription but you don’t wish to do so, do nothing. Delete it and we’ll each go our merry ways.
If you do wish to subscribe, just click the confirmation link and you’ll be good to go. Sorry for the spam, however. This should not be necessary in the future.

Back Up and Running

BAGHDAD — Hello all. The blog is back up and running, obviously, and things should be working almost as they did before. The only change is that if you subscribed to B2I previously, using the box on the right, you will need to subscribe again, as those old records were wiped out. Of course, if you don’t wish to receive the notifications, do nothing. But that would make me sad.
Thanks everyone for your patience.