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Sunni parliamentary boycott in Iraq, to protest a Sunni politician being kidnapped. I don’t much care for boycotts as a tactic, and tend to underestimate their power when used right. This doesn’t seem to be using them right – the kidnappers will no doubt be overjoyed to have indirectly harmed both the Iraqi parliament and Sunni interests in the country. Juan Cole adds:

The announcement is a huge blow to the Maliki government, which had prided itself on presiding over a government of national unity that included the Sunni Arabs. The Iraqi Accord Front has 44 deputies in the 275-member parliament.

strains of social discord

A good fortnight after everybody else, I’ve finally read through the khalilzad telegram, which makes me realise what a chaotic Mad Max world it is out there in Iraq. Not that I’ve ever seen Mad Max, but the stereotypes fit.


You keep on reading about political situations so bad they force large numbers of people to kill themselves. Here’s one about indebted Indian farmers – but there are others about [Russia]( and, saddest of all, [two small islands near Australia](,,1803488,00.html).

And I don’t know what conclusions to draw. Has anybody investigated how to stop so many of these people killing themselves? Is the solution to sort out the economy, or could we get away with putting prozac in the water?

Gotham, Pakistan

Karachi politics:it’s all about town planning. This time, riots over the power supplies. More usually, riots over minibus accidents.

Why is it that I hear so much more about rioting in Karachi than in [other giant cities]( Could be just me paying uneven attention, but I get the impression that Karachi is creaking more than most under the strain of its growth.

In any case, it holds some kind of gotham-like fascination – and wouldn’t you want to be mayor of a city like Karachi?

keep on missing, and you’ll be fine

Nouri al-Maliki’s planned amnesty is apparently running on a principle of ‘only for the incompetent:

“The fighter who did not kill anyone will be included in the amnesty, but the fighter who killed someone will not be,”